January 29, 2008

The Polar Bear Express - WSJ.com

The WSJ provides the more sensible position than the one reported or editorialized in most media. Here's the critical point: Thinking people will see through the environmentalists' PR sham that polar bears must be saved while the truth is bear populations are increasing.

The real radical environmentalist motivation is to prevent exploration for oil, or any other minerals for that matter, on Alaska's continental shelf.

The enviros' steam-rolling attempt to create public support by playing on the cuddly photos of young polar bears should not be swallowed. Suggesting the bears are going extinct if we don't designate them as an endangered species is falsely pandering to people's emotions. Our government should rule against that designation based on the facts.

The Polar Bear Express - WSJ.com

January 26, 2008

In budget address, Douglas calls for new spending, restraint - Boston.com

Here's a quick summary of Governor Douglas' budget in an AP article by Dave Gram. His budget tries to match expected revenues with spending, but I think Vermont would be better served with a small reduction in overall spending as a sign that the Governor's 'affordability agenda' is real.

In budget address, Douglas calls for new spending, restraint - Boston.com

January 25, 2008

America Needs France’s Atomic Anne - New York Times

While many of France's cultural idiosyncrasies are not to my liking, they do have their act together on nuclear energy. We would do well to take the lesson they provide. Our energy future must embrace more electricity and that from nuclear plants.

Renewables are fine and most of my state has jumped on the Green bandwagon, but they would be remiss not to renew the operating license for Vermont Yankee. Yet, a strong movement exists to prevent that, led mostly by the enviros and particularly VPIRG. If they have their way, we won't be able to afford the result.

I'm also convinced that most Vermonters don't understand the increasing need for reliable and cheap-as we-can-get electricity. Many think green is hip and carbon-neutral footprints are more important than reliable, safe energy supplies.

My position is that those who want more expensive electricity should pay the bill via household or commercial rates that are energy source-specific for those who choose sun, wind, or wood/cow power. The rest of us should pay for the lowest cost base-load electricity that we can get. I want nuclear in my mix.

America Needs France’s Atomic Anne - New York Times

January 22, 2008

Vermont Legislative Documents - A bill to require teachers to take a course in Afro-American History.

Here's a wonderful example of junk legislation. Arrrgh! Absolute nonsense, but pawns of the education establishment must comply with their masters, I suppose. Either that or this legislator has friends in higher education who teach this course. I could suggest dozens of more valuable courses for teachers. How about Capitalism/Economics-101?

Legislative Documents - An act relating to requiring postsecondary credits in African American history as a condition of teacher licensing.

Bill Clinton May Get Payout of $20 Million - WSJ.com

What does an ex-President do to 'earn' $20 Million, I wonder, just be there????

Former President Clinton stands to reap around $20 million -- and will sever a politically sensitive partnership tie to Dubai -- by ending his high-profile business relationship with the investment firm of billionaire friend Ron Burkle.

Mr. Clinton is negotiating to end his relationship with Mr. Burkle's Yucaipa Cos. as part of a broader effort to protect the presidential campaign of his wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton, from potential conflicts of interest. Details of Mr. Clinton's involvement in Yucaipa and his efforts to unwind it come from documents and interviews with people familiar with the matter.

[Ron Burkle]

The former president has had links to Yucaipa since early 2002, when Mr. Burkle -- a longtime friend and political contributor -- offered him a role there. Mr. Clinton's association with the firm began at a time when he was looking to earn large amounts of money, partly to pay heavy legal bills accumulated to defend himself and Mrs. Clinton from several investigations during his presidency.

Now, as he negotiates with Yucaipa to withdraw from the relationship, he is a wealthy man, thanks partly to tens of millions of dollars he has earned making speeches around the world.

Mr. Clinton initially signed on with Mr. Burkle as a senior adviser to closely held Yucaipa. As part of that arrangement, Mr. Burkle agreed to give Mr. Clinton a share of the profits from two Yucaipa domestic investment funds if their returns reached a certain threshold. Mr. Clinton's adviser arrangement ended in early 2007, five years after it began. But Mr. Clinton still hasn't settled the issue of his payout. More... [may require subscription]

Bill Clinton May Get Payout of $20 Million - WSJ.com

U.S. Financial Condition and Fiscal Future


David Walker, The Comptroller General of the United States, has developed this briefing (click the link above) about the the status of government expenditures, focusing on Social Security and health care. I suggest browsing through this 35 page .pdf for a full assessment of where we're headed if we do nothing.

He chooses not to address defense spending, probably because that's a fundamental and basic responsibility of government and does not have the built-in demographic time bomb as do the 'entitlements.'

Medicaid and Medicare are in deeper trouble than SS.

Why don't we hear about this dilemma on the campaign trail? Is it because the problem surfaces beyond the next 4-tear term?

Some excerpts below:

Current Fiscal Policy Is Unsustainable

•The “Status Quo” Is Not an Option
•We face large and growing structural deficits largely due to known demographic trends and rising health care costs
•GAO’s simulations show that balancing the budget in 2040 could require actions as large as
•Cutting total federal spending by 60 percent or
•Raising federal taxes to two times today's level
•Faster Economic Growth Can Help, but It Cannot Solve the Problem
•Closing the current long-term fiscal gap based on reasonable assumptions would require real average annual economic growth in the double-digit range every year for the next 75 years
•During the 1990s, the economy grew at an average 3.2 percent per year
•As a result, we cannot simply grow our way out of this problem. Tough choices will be required
Key Dates Highlight Long Term
Challenges of the Social Security System

2009 - Cash surplus begins to decline

2017 - Annual benefit costs exceed cash revenue from taxes

2027 - Trust fund ceases to grow because even taxes plus interest fall short of benefits

2041 - Trust fund exhausted

Key Dates Highlight Long Term
Challenges of the Medicare Program

2007 - Medicare Part A outlays exceed cash income
2007 -“Medicare funding warning” triggered
2013 - Projected date that annual “general revenue funding” for Part B will exceed 45 percent of total Medicare outlays
2019 - Part A trust fund exhausted, annual income sufficient to pay about 80% of promised Part A benefits

Three Key Illnesses
•Tunnel Vision
Four National Deficits
•Balance of Payments
Key Leadership Attributes Needed for
These Challenging and Changing Times


January 21, 2008

U.S. Soldiers and Shoppers Hit the Wall - New York Times

I usually agree with Cohen's analysis and that's true for most of this piece, but I don't agree with the highlighted conclusion. Universal health care will in no way substitute for the profligate spending patterns of many Americans, particularly the ones who have fallen for the consumption mentality rather than embrace savings habits. And where will the dollars come from to pay for universal health care?

The new President and Congress will need the cohones to reform Medicare and Social Security and the entitlement thinking of the American people that underlies them.

But as Benn Steil, an economist at the Council on Foreign Relations, suggested: "We could be seeing a secular shift in confidence in the dollar as a store of value as the impression grows that the United States, to some degree, is losing control of its destiny."

I expect the United States to bounce back, but not quickly. The central fact confronting the next president will be the new limits on U.S. power, both military and economic.

The central challenge will be the provision of needed reforms, primarily universal health care, that begin to alleviate the financial strains on median American families and allow them to get back to saving rather than leveraging assets in a phony consumption boom.

U.S. Soldiers and Shoppers Hit the Wall - New York Times

January 20, 2008

Carol's Latest eBay Minidale Auction

You can use the widget below to view the listing or place a bid.

Nerdy Names

This came around in an email. I thought I'd capture it because I like trivia.

Do You Know... How These Names Came About!

Adobe - came from name of the river Adobe Creek that ran behind the house of founder John Warnock.

Apache - It got its name because its founders got started by applying patches to code written for NCSA's httpd daemon. The result was 'A PAtCHy' server -- thus, the name Apache

Apple Computers - favourite fruit of founder Steve Jobs. He was three months late in filing a name for the business, and he threatened to call his company Apple Computers if the other colleagues didn't suggest a better name by 5 o'clock.

C - Dennis Ritchie improved on the B programming language and called it 'New B'. He later called it C. Earlier B was created by Ken Thompson as a revision of the Bon programming language (named after his wife Bonnie)

CISCO - its not an acronymn but the short for San Francisco.

Compaq - using COMp, for computer, and PAQ to denote a small integral object.

GNU - a species of African antelope. Founder of the GNU project Richard Stallman liked the name because of the humour associated with its pronuniciation and was also influenced by the children's song 'The Gnu Song' which is a song sung by a gnu. Also it fitted into the recursive acronym culture with 'GNU's Not Unix'.

Google - the name started as a jokey boast about the amount of information the search-engine would be able to search. It was originally named 'Googol', a word for the number represented by 1 followed by 100 zeros. After founders - Stanford grad students Sergey Brin and Larry Page presented their project to an angel investor, they received a cheque made out to 'Google'!

Hotmail - Founder Jack Smith got the idea of accessing e-mail via the web from a computer anywhere in the world. When Sabeer Bhatia came up with the business plan for the mail service, he tried all kinds of names ending in 'mail' and finally settled for hotmail as it included the letters "HTML" - the programming language used to write web pages. It was initially referred to as HoTMaiL with selective upper casing.

HP - Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard tossed a coin to decide whether the company they founded would be called Hewlett-Packard or Packard-Hewlett.

Intel - Bob Noyce and Gordon Moore wanted to name their new company 'Moore Noyce' but that was already trademarked by a hotel chain, so they had to settle for an acronym of INTegrated ELectronics.

Java - Originally called Oak by creator James Gosling, from the tree that stood outside his window, the programming team had to look for a substitute as there was another language with the same name. Java was selected from a list of suggestions. It came from the name of the coffee that the programmers drank.

Overseas Investors Buy U.S. Holdings at a Record Pace - New York Times

Are you comfortable with the long-term consequences of globalization? More of America is owned by non-Americans, and this has increased recently as the big banks have sought overseas investments to shore up their balance sheets and increase their cash available after writing down so much bad debt.

Current new U.S. government debt is 75% owned by foreigners. Within 20 years America will be an 'also ran' country, economically. What will that mean for the radical Islamic terrorist fanatics who hate us so much? Will they also hate and attack other non-Islamic countries who have prospered and are secular as well?

If it's Western style secularism they hate, China, Korea, Singapore and Japan should be among their targets. Perhaps it's our financial strength and our military prowess they are eager to diminish by causing us to spend so much on security and securing our economy.

From the NY Times:

A Flood of InvestmentGraphic

A Flood of Investment

"For much of the world, the United States is now on sale at discount prices. With credit tight, unemployment growing and worries mounting about a potential recession, American business and government leaders are courting foreign money to keep the economy growing. Foreign investors are buying aggressively, taking advantage of American duress and a weak dollar to snap up what many see as bargains, while making inroads to the world’s largest market.

Last year, foreign investors poured a record $414 billion into securing stakes in American companies, factories and other properties through private deals and purchases of publicly traded stock, according to Thomson Financial, a research firm. That was up 90 percent from the previous year and more than double the average for the last decade. It amounted to more than one-fourth of all announced deals for the year, Thomson said."

Overseas Investors Buy U.S. Holdings at a Record Pace - New York Times

Oil Demand, the Climate and the Energy Ladder - New York Times

The quote below is from an interview with Jeroen van der Veer, the head of Royal Dutch Shell. Note that we do not lack sources of petroleum, despite the common mis-belief that is often promulgated by some media.

People say we have passed the time of 'peak oil,' and that the world's petroleum production is declining. I don't think that's true...yet, but the cost of future oil will continue to rise as the costs of extraction increase.

Q. Fossil fuels are still going to represent the lion’s share of the energy mix in the next century?

A. First, there is no lack in itself of oil or gas, or coal for that matter. But the problem is that the easy-to-produce oil or easy-to-produce gas will be depleted or with difficult access. But if you look at difficult oil or difficult gas, which we in the industry call the unconventionals, such as oil sands or shales, they may be exploitable. But per barrel, you need a lot more technology and a lot more investments, and per barrel you need a lot more brain to produce it. It’s much more expensive.

For me, the most sensible strategy for long term energy efficiency that will minimize any climate change effect is to maximize the uses of electricity, particularly for transportation, and to generate it using nuclear facilities, absent some breakthrough with renewables (solar in particular). Burning fossil fuels seems to be less costly now, but that's because the cost of extraction and distribution is low relative to other options.

Oil Demand, the Climate and the Energy Ladder - New York Times

January 19, 2008

An Oil Quandary: Costly Fuel Means Costly Calories - New York Times

Are we faced with the law of unintended consequences as the demand for vegetable oils for fuel confronts the food uses of oil, thus raising prices for both? When the world's thirst for liquid energy sources competes with food uses, we have the makings of a catastrophe.

This is a fascinating analysis of the dilemma faced by poorer countries when prices of, in this instance palm oil, rise very rapidly because of demand for it to make biofuels.

The pressure on poor people will have disastrous consequences, not to mention the trauma to the land as more forests are cleared to plant palm oil trees. Food seems more important than energy, but at what price to we have conflict or starvation?

I expect to hear/read more environmental hand wringing spawned by this situation. The world's insatiable demand for energy is running headlong into an even more basic necessity, food. There are no obvious good solutions here.

Perhaps the world's gurus will have this on their agenda in Davos, Switzerland later this month. I doubt they have a solution.

An Oil Quandary: Costly Fuel Means Costly Calories - New York Times

January 18, 2008

Glenn Beck - Current Events & Politics - David Walker interview about the economy

I caught only the last few minutes of this interview of David Walker this morning. David Walker, Comptroller General of the United States, earned my respect a couple of years ago when I happened to see him on C-SPAN testifying before some Congressional committee.

I don't know if he's Republican or Democrat and it doesn't matter. He speaks about the harsh fiscal realities this country faces in the next two decades brought on mostly by the out-of-control entitlement programs of Social Security and Medicare.

Take the time to read or listen to what he has to say. He talks sense from a position of long-time authority within government. (You can ignore the blather from Beck).

Unless our politicians sober up and listen to him and have the courage to act on what he recommends, they will all fall short of my reality test.

Glenn Beck - Current Events & Politics - David Walker interview about the economy

Bush Calls for Up to $150 Billion In Stimulus to Boost Economy - WSJ.com

(subscription required)

As I write this, I note the stock market is down yet again, so it's not very pleased with the Bush proposal. Perhaps that will change once the details surface in Congress.

Now, it'll be amusing to watch how the Presidential candidates will spin this.

I find it very interesting that Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Nancy Pelosi are relatively quiet about the economy and whether their policies and lack of accomplishment have helped or hindered the situation. In fact the media seems to be not paying much attention to them, now that primary season is upon us.


I find it fascinating that the Democrat candidates are not running on the accomplishments of this 'Democrat Congress.'


Bush Calls for Up to $150 Billion In Stimulus to Boost Economy - WSJ.com

January 17, 2008

Report predicts $203M shortfall for transportation: Rutland Herald Online

Here's a decent summary of the transportation and infrastructure funding dilemma facing Vermont. Of course, there's never enough money to fund all the wants, but now we're in a time where the needs go wanting.

For starters, the Legislature should demand that all transportation revenue go toward transportation costs, otherwise the notion of even having a Transportation Fund is diminished. That would mean $50 Million or so would not go to education. It should never have gone there in the first place. That $50 Million should not be replaced and state funding for education should be reduced by that amount.

I fear that's about as likely as climate change coming off the table in Montpelier.


Rutland Herald Transportation Story

January 15, 2008

Manipulated Mankind

What sort of creatures are we anyway? I always knew that high priced wines were mostly a marketing shenanigan. Think of the huge profits all along the supply chain for $30-$50 per bottle vino. Psychological marketing for all sorts of luxury goods has tremendous potential for profit margins. Paying more has many connotations from personal satisfaction that one can afford to spend the money somewhat frivolously to showing off by demonstrating 'good taste' to others. Ahh, vanity...

"Researchers from the California Institute of Technology and Stanford's business school have directly seen that the sensation of pleasantness that people experience when tasting wine is linked directly to its price. And that's true even when, unbeknownst to the test subjects, it's exactly the same Cabernet Sauvignon with a dramatically different price tag."

Being the cheapster that I am, I enjoy finding good wines at less than $10./bottle. Also, I have found many good wines under $10./1.5 liter. If you like whites, try Beringer Chenin Blanc, usually $6.00/.75 liter; I think Gallo's Livingston Burgandy is a very nice table red for under $10./1.5 liter.

January 12, 2008


FlightStats is a really useful site for anyone who travels by air frequently or has friends and relatives who do.

With FlightStats you can monitor domestic and international flight arrivals, departures and delays. Or you can see arrivals and departures by airport and a whole slew of other information, including a frequently updates map of airport delays in the U.S.

Any characteristic for any flight can be tracked with auotomatic emails or text messages on your cell phone. I have used it a few times now and found it very reliable and timely. They must tap into FAA Air Traffic Control system for information .

With the FlightAlert Feature you can receive:

-Status confirmation up to 3 hours prior to departure
-Notification if the flight is delayed by more than 30 minutes
-Notification if the flight is cancelled or diverted
-Arrival notification when the flight lands

You can also set it up as a handy Facebook application.

The only downside I found was the inability to change my password at will. If you forget it, they'll send you a new one, but I didn't find a facility to do it myself online.

I don't often recommend sites because there are so many of them,
but this one is very useful and easy to use. Try it.

A Taxpayer's Advice to Vermont Legislators

A slightly different version of this was published in The Colchester Sun on January 10, 2008.

Your comments, Senator Ginny Lyons, and Representatives John Zenie, Kristy Spengler, Jim Condon and Gaye Symington published in The Colchester Sun of January 3, 2008 portend the outcome of the second half of the Legislative biennium: Find more taxpayer dollars to spend on______ (fill in the blank).

The issues you mentioned include paying for, or "doing something about" health care, climate change remediation, energy efficiency and affordability, education and its funding, quality of Vermont life, economic development, affordable housing, workforce development, maintenance of highways and bridges, the circumferential highway, and developing a more robust public transportation system, among others. No one suggests spending fewer taxpayer dollars. Why not?

A reading of your columns would benefit from soft violins in the background to accompany the flowing rhetoric. However, snare drums and a few thumps on the bass drum would help. Missing from most comments is the harsh reality you face this session... where will the money come from to pay for all the services and improvements you hope to deliver?

How you plan to deal with these issues, as I read your comments, are by working together, providing leadership, homegrown ingenuity, promoting exercise and good eating habits, trend-setting, team work, supporting local businesses and farmers and diversified ideas. As valuable as these behavioral qualities may be in arriving at legislation, the harsh reality is most Vermont taxpayers want to pay less, not more, to live here.

Please heed our advice.Your best contribution and an example to struggling Vermonters would be a reduction in taxes, certainly not an increase. Please seriously consider reducing the size of our tax-supported programs that have taken on a life of their own. You have enabled government to grow too rapidly in the recent past, faster than any other New England state.

While probably too late this session, Governor Douglas, if truly serious about his affordability agenda, should submit a budget to you that is 3-5% less than spent last year. Expansive legislative thinking requiring more taxpayer dollars or redistribution of income to improve our already high quality of life should be off the table. Alas, because it's an election year, this cutback strategy is very likely not on your minds.

But if your Legislative leaders and the Governor can agree on a spending cap in advance of debating program details, you could reorient your thinking to less government, not more. I know the pressures on you will be enormous from all the special interest groups to increase spending. I sympathize with you in this regard, but the best approach to all of them is "we can't afford it."

Please, lawmakers, don't waste time fiddling with the world's climate this session. Arguing about global warming is a waste of your time and my tax dollars. Your debates can do nothing to change the dynamics of the earth. The only benefit might be for you to curry votes with certain constituencies.

Instead, support policies that promote a reliable energy supply. If you must have an expanded all-fuels conservation program, please fund it from the savings that are generated. That's much more equitable than redistributing income by levying surcharges on everyone's fuels to pay for energy conservation that benefits individuals.

Please don't fool around debating our carbon footprint. If you think that's important, more efficient use of energy and fuels will take care of that as a by-product. Don't scurry about trying to educate everyone about carbon credits and pollution trading schemes. There are as many drawbacks as benefits in that morass. And please, oh please, any mention of a carbon tax should fall into a black hole.

As an example of working together, how about a joint statement early in the session from the Legislative leadership about your shared priorities to set the tone?

Two final reminders... please spend less and go home early.

Homeland Security proposes delayed Real ID rollout | Tech news blog - CNET News.com

The debate will continue to rage, but the fundamental need for security and identification of people who live in the United States has not changed. The ACLU and privacy advocates will always oppose any ID program. So will the immigration (legal or otherwise) advocates. This effort wisely, recommended by the 9/11 Commission, should be implemented as soon as feasible. I find no compelling argument from the opponents.

I think the time has come for a national ID card. I see no harm in the information that it's proposed to contain. Identification of persons, with that ID having been verified by an authorized agency of government, is a valid need in any modern society, particularly one that is under attack and in a war with Radical Islamic terrorists who have shown themselves willing and able to kill thousands of us.

"Arguably the biggest change in the final rule is the timeline. States will generally have a larger chunk of time, broken into "milestones," to become compliant with the new standards. Earlier in the planning process, Homeland Security had envisioned requiring the IDs to be in place starting on May 11, 2008--and no later than 2013--unless states had applied for an extension.

The final rule dictates that by the end of 2009, states will have to complete certain checks on all residents who apply for driver's licenses, such as verifying against Homeland Security databases that the cardholders have legal immigration status and ensuring that the Social Security number provided matches with Social Security Administration records. States will also have to conduct background checks on motor vehicles employees "to ensure licenses are not issued by corrupt insiders."

By May 11, 2011, states are expected to have methods in place to verify that the identity documents provided by driver's license applicants, such as birth certificates, are valid. They'll also be expected to start issuing Real ID-compliant licenses by then, if not sooner.

By Dec. 1, 2014, all Americans under the age of 50 will be expected to present Real ID-compliant licenses when boarding airplanes and entering federal buildings. Exactly three years later, all Americans, regardless of age, will have to meet those requirements."

Homeland Security proposes delayed Real ID rollout Tech news blog - CNET News.com

January 10, 2008

The oil price | Peak nationalism | Economist.com

Well worth a read. The Economist has the right analysis about 'peak oil' and some of the reasons for the high prices we are paying. It's more about geography than geology.

"Worse, nowadays, new oil tends to be found in relatively inaccessible spots or in more unwieldy forms. That adds to the cost of extracting oil, because more engineers and more complex machinery are needed to exploit it—but the end of easy oil is a far remove from the jeremiads of peak-oilers. The gooey tar-sands of Canada contain almost as much oil as Saudi Arabia. Eventually, universities will churn out more geologists and shipyards more offshore platforms, though it will take a long time to make up for two decades of underinvestment."

January 7, 2008

Alaska Governor Believes Polar Bears not Threatened Species

Rational thinking from Alaska's governor to counter the 'save the polar bear' hysteria generated by climate change extremists.

"As a result of these efforts, polar bears are more numerous now than they were 40 years ago. The polar bear population in the southern Beaufort Sea off Alaska’s North Slope has been relatively stable for 20 years, according to a federal analysis."

The bears aren't disappearing or threatened in and around Alaska at this time.

Microsoft to offer Windows Home Server perks | Beyond Binary - A blog by Ina Fried - CNET News.com

Service Pack 1 to the MS Home Server product to be available in the Spring

January 5, 2008

The Company With the Biggest Little Black Book - New York Times

The Company With the Biggest Little Black Book - New York Times

The story is a good one, but if I were a terrorist trying to wreak havoc in North America, finding and destroying the database or its network links would be a tempting target, although I'm certain there is heavy redundancy just to minimize this possibility.

January 4, 2008

Obama and Huckabee Win in Iowa

Mrs. Clinton cannot be pleased and Governor Romney may have a tough decision if he doesn't beat Governor Huckabee in NH. The media have focused enormous attention on Iowa, but in the scheme of things, the race is far from over because so much can happen between January and November. David Brooks writes an insightful analysis in today's NY Times.

I have a hard time saying President Huckabee, although he appeals to me because of his values, but both he and Obama are very short on foreign policy capacity. I suppose we could say the same about President (Governor) Bush and President (Governor) Clinton before they were elected.

"Sen. Barack Obama won a fiercely contested three-way race for the Democratic presidential contest in Iowa, bidding to make history as the first black U.S. president. Mike Huckabee got the Republican nod, buoyed by a huge turnout by evangelical Christians in the Iowa caucuses, as Iowa voters rewarded upstart candidates over the establishment's picks.

Former Sen. John Edwards looked to take second place and national front-runner Sen. Hillary Clinton was a close third with nearly all precincts counted. A projected 220,000 Democrats -- a record -- participated in the nation's first nomination contest.

Both winners emphasized positive messages of hope and opportunity in an election that set records for turnout. While Mr. Obama was competitive throughout the contest, Mr. Huckabee's decisive win over Mitt Romney came after he was outspent by millions of dollars."

January 1, 2008

Vermont Youth Orchestra Association

Once again, as part of First Night celebration in Burlington, we were treated to a marvelous performance by the Vermont Youth Orchestra at the Flynn Theater. The VYOA is a Vermont treasure and if you have an opportunity to hear a live performance, don't miss it.

I have three grandsons who have been a part of VYO in the past few years, all playing violin, and the many performances have been wonderful and inspiring. These kids are enthusiastic musicians and are trained and encouraged by good conductors, including Troy Peters.

The VYO deserves and receives support form many people and organizations which encourage the young people to their best, which has included a performance at Carnegie Hall in 2004 and a tour of China in 2007.

Kudos... young people and adults alike!!

Vermont Youth Orchestra Association

Kenya's Post-Election Rioting Swells as Death Toll Climbs - WSJ.com

1655 01Jan2008: Here's an update from a Reuters story in the Edmonton (Canada) Journal suggesting that rioting may be out of control with 250+ reported dead.

"Some youths came to the church," said a local reporter from the scene. "They fought with the boys who were guarding it, but they were overpowered and the youths set fire to the church."

The explosion of violence in one of Africa's most stable democracies and strongest economies has shocked the world
and left Kenyans aghast as long-simmering tribal rivalries pitch communities against each other.

In Kenya we have yet another example of the widespread African calamity that will take generations to solve. Democratic government and capitalism have nary a chance in this cauldron of poverty created by family, tribal and ethnic loyalties.

We in America hold to freedom as the cornerstone of our governance system. In much of Africa freedom is more often subservient to power and corruption fueled by ignorance and hatred which creates the grinding poverty and disease. I fear progress will continue to be slow and painful as history has shown.

"Mr. Kibaki's supporters say he has turned Kenya's economy into an east African powerhouse, with an average growth rate of 5%. He won by a landslide in 2002, ending 24 years in power by the notoriously corrupt Daniel arap Moi. But Mr. Kibaki's antigraft campaign has largely been seen as a failure, and the country still struggles with tribalism and poverty.

The election violence had a tribal undertone in the slums, where youths shouted ethnic slurs. Mr. Kibaki, from the Kikuyu tribe, has been accused of maintaining the tribal patronage system of the Moi years. Mr. Odinga is a Luo, another major tribe. Tribal allegiances have always been a factor in elections in Kenya, where there are more than 40 tribes, and where candidates on the campaign trail are not above appealing to tribe in subtle as well as direct ways."