Archive for the ‘Oddly Enough’ Category

The Russians Control the Weather (sorta)

December 9, 2009 Leave a comment

One of my dad’s favorite stories about local culture is of a local preacher who was convinced of a number of conspiracy theories. These included a mass plot to round-up all civillians on 1/1/2000 (brought on by arrows painted on the road that turned out to be a bicycle race) and that man never landed on the moon. He also spoke of the Russians having a weather machine that would doom us all. Well, it turns out that he sort of right on that one. From the LA Times:

In the snow-hushed woods on Moscow’s northern edge, scientists are decades deep into research on bending the weather to their will. They’ve been at it since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin paused long enough in the throes of World War II to found an observatory dedicated to tampering with climatic inconveniences.

Since then, they’ve melted away fog, dissipated the radioactive fallout from Chernobyl and called down rains fierce enough to drown unborn locusts threatening the distant northeastern grasslands.


In Russia, nobody rains on the parade — because the Russian government doesn’t allow it.

“Victory Day is the most sacred holiday for us,” says Bagrat Danilian, deputy chief of cloud seeding at the observatory. “When veterans go out to celebrate in Moscow, we create good weather for them.”

All it takes, he says, is sacks of cement — 500-grade, to be precise. Drop the powder down into the clouds, and they vanish.

A fascinating read, particularly for those growing weary of the winter weather that is gripping the Shenandoah Valley


The Cat’s Meow

November 28, 2009 2 comments

Friends and readers will know that I am a cat lover. Not to the point where I subscribe to Cat Fancy and tour the country from show to show with my constant companion Bella, but they are an important part of my life. Also, I can tell you the difference between a Maine Coon and a Norwegian Forest cat, so I suppose that counts as some degree of fanaticism.

Also, the fact that I am duly impressed by these pictures and this article about a house in Japan that has specifically been designed to facilitate the cohabitation of felines and their slaves masters:

Features include open air cat walks, climbing steps, nooks throughout the house for cat hide-outs, cat doors in every door, extra space in the bathroom designed especially for a litter box, an enclosed deck area, and special fences to prevent cats from escaping.

They have even gone so far as to use pet-friendly construction materials that resist scratching and are easy to clean.

Though the design may be a bit extreme for me, it appears to be a rather pleasing mix of aesthetics and functionality. Given that my cat Bella has taken to trying to literally climb up my walls, perhaps I could take some hints from this design.

Wherein I make my fellow Goldwater fans uber-jealous

March 31, 2009 1 comment

The newest addition to my over 400 piece collection of political items. 


Gettin’ Better All The Time

February 18, 2009 Leave a comment

Adam Sharp, one of the best young minds on the other side of the aisle in the Shenandoah Valley (and a worthy foe), tweeted earlier today about a great tool on VPAP. For the uninitiated, VPAP is wonkesse for the Virginia Public Access Project, a non-profit non-partisan group dedicated to gathering and making public as much information about the General Assembly and state elections as possible. All of this information is available through other resources–however, VPAP makes it incredibly easy to look at all the available information about a Delegate’s electoral history, finances, and lobbyist ties in a single glance. 

So what new tool am I addicted to? Why, a handy floor map for both the House and the Senate that visually highlights a number of facts about various legislators. These include gender, party, age, length of service, region, birth state, and margin of victory. Some notes:

  • Women have made better in-roads in the Senate (20%) versus the House (16%)
  • The House is significantly younger (53% under 55) than the Senate (42.5%)
  • 69% of the House was elected after George Allen left Richmond; 47.5% of the Senate was elected in the intervening years 
  • The 540 Area Code is the fourth most represented in the Senate and tied for third in the House; remember, though, that its the geographically largest
  • The House has more native Virginians (54%) than the Senate (52%); for all you nativists out there, the “come heres” are in check…..for now. 
  • Only 11% of the House had a close (less than 10%) election last time, 20% of the Senate has close ones. 
  • On the flip side of the coin, 42.5% of the Senate went uncontested, versus 56% in the House. 

A plethora of interesting information is to be had. One minor quibble–the region breakdown is not by pure geographical region but by area code. Honestly, I don’t consider Fredericksburg part of the Valley by any stretch of the imagination. However, the regions are a matter of debate as it is, and not all parts of a region are created equal (note Adam and I’s debate in a recent thread on ethnic varieties in caucasian voters). 

Outside of that one geeky (and admittedly, regionally envious) quibble, an awesome tool and a great addition to VPAP’s veritable cornucopia of useful political info.

The Snugulus

February 5, 2009 Leave a comment

From the Weekly Standard, a different idea for using your hard earned tax dollars to boost the economy:


So THAT’s why he needed a driver

February 3, 2009 Leave a comment

Guess the old Pontiac finally gave out:

“Make no mistake, tax cheaters cheat us all, and the IRS should enforce our laws to the letter. ”

Sen. Tom Daschle, Congressional Record, May 7, 1998, p. S4507.

Wait, they’re STILL working on that???

January 28, 2009 1 comment

From the PilotOnline:

The House Rules Committee on Tuesday killed three resolutions to confer the status on various songs composed by Virginians.

The state has been without a tune since 1997, when “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny” was retired because of its lyrics. The song is about a slave fondly recalling the days toiling for “old Massa.”

The Rules Committee for years has been hearing and rejecting potential new state songs.

Actually, its not just the Rules Committee that suffers through greatly enjoys listening to potential offerings. The year I worked in Richmond, there were at least three CDs that came through the office with potential offerings on them. I know that replacing the song has been a pet project of “beloved” State Senator Emmett Hanger, but, come on. Number one, do we really have to out and out replace the state song? Wouldn’t a few changes have fixed the two? Number two, twelve years???? It’s been twelve years, and from my research no less than 23 songs have been considered by the Senate and the House regarding the state song.

However, this doesn’t even include the hard work of the State Song Sub-Committee of the Virginia Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relation. This is the group that worked for 2 YEARS to first whittle the list down to 59 songs then to eight grand finalists. They ran into some flack over Jimmy Dean’s submission being favored and again when another contestant didn’t want to sign over the rights to his song, and then the Committee was abolished in 2004. Apparently, according to the Washington Post, it was only due to the fact that the committee lost the staff person who was keeping track of the votes during that year’s budget crisis. 

Your tax dollars in action. Just pick a damn song already! I don’t even care if its “Meet Virginia” by Train at this point. At least it has the state’s name in it.