Call it a twofer for American democracy, one for Small Town USA and the other for the entire nation.
Earlier this week our little town held it's school district and town meetings, the first steps in a two-step process that decides what our town will spend during the upcoming fiscal year. Each meeting of the town's residents deliberated school and town budgets and warrant articles that covered everything from zoning amendments to changes in how town government will run to funding outside agencies. One article even dealt with changing the classification of a dirt road from a town maintained road to an unmaintained road.
Some amendments to budgetary items and a few town warrant articles were made, those being the most debated issues addressed during the meetings. But for the most part both meetings were low energy with little real drama. Frankly, that's a bit unusual considering some of the school district and town meetings in the not-so-recent past.
It's amazing to see folks not blink twice when some spending articles total in the millions of dollars, with little discussion or debate, but lengthy and sometimes passionate debates over a spending article asking to spend a few hundred dollars. One would think it would be the other way around.
The outcome of these two meetings won't be known until we move on to the second step in the process next month, when the people in our town will vote to accept or reject all of the warrant articles as well as elect some town officials.
Early next week, specifically Tuesday, voters will head to the voting booths to vote during the New Hampshire primaries, helping to select the candidates from each party who are vying to be their party presidential nominees come this fall. Once done, the echoes of the candidates' speeches and campaign ads will rapidly fade away and be nothing but a memory by Wednesday evening, leaving us to recuperate in peace for the next few months until Election Day 2016 approaches.
And so it goes in small town America.
Saturday, February 6, 2016
Call it a twofer for American democracy, one for Small Town USA and the other for the entire nation.
Thursday, February 4, 2016
I got a pleasant surprise today, that being the download speed from my ISP, the local cable company, has been bumped up to 40Mbs at no additional cost. The upload speed, however, is still where it was before at 4Mbs.
That will certainly help the cable company keep its present Internet customers, and maybe entice some of those still using DSL to make the switch.
Of course this speed increase could have been driven by the prospect of a new player entering the market. Ain't competition, even of it hasn't arrived yet, a wonderful thing?
Saturday, January 23, 2016
I have to admit to a little bit of “Let's see how you like it!” thinking in regards to the blizzard pelting the Mid-Atlantic states.
Being a hardy Yankee in northern New England gives me just a little gravitas since we see snowfalls like the one places like Washington DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and a host of other cities are experiencing at the moment, but we see them just about every winter, and in some cases more than once in any given winter.
Then again, we're used to them and are well prepared to deal with them. With few exceptions, we rarely see folks clearing store shelves in anticipation of what to us is a not unusual storm. However, we do still have to put up with the ubiquitous Storm Center TV news and the overblown drama and dire “We're all gonna DIE!” level warnings about not going out into the storm unless it's absolutely necessary. Well, duh.
I don 't know about you, but I'm not one to go out in a storm just because I can. I never have been. If I'm out in one it's because there's a pretty darned good reason, one that makes it necessary even though I don't really want to be out there. The most common reason – snowblowing the driveway in order to stay ahead of the anticipated snowfall totals. Sometimes it's easier to go out and snowblow once or twice during the storm than it is to clear all of the snow after it's all over, particularly if snowfall is expected to be above two feet.
So far our winter up here in New Hampshire has been rather benign. We haven't had the days and weeks of below zero temperatures or storm after storm after storm. We figure we're due a respite after the past two winters of heavy snowfall and below normal temperatures. A little breather now and then is a good thing and we're hoping to make the most of it. In the meantime we're more than happy to watch others struggle with winter weather we consider normal up here.
Saturday, November 7, 2015
I'm not going to address an issue of vital national interest, at least not in this post. Instead, I'm going to address an issue of vital local interest (though it applies all across America...or at least rural and semi-rural America).
What is it that I find so compelling that I feel the need to express it here? What drives me to tackle this subject...yet again?
On more than one occasion over the past 13 years of blogging I have written about life in a small town along with the ups and downs that go with it. One of the more insidious factors that can have negative effects on any small town is what I call drawbridge mentality. It can be a complex subject, so rather than boring everyone with a long and convoluted definition of the term, let me try to simplify it for you and explain it thus:
It is an attitude most often held by newcomers to a town that now that they have found their perfect little piece of Americana, they want to 'raise the drawbridge', let no one else in, and most often, don't want there to be any change ever. Call it a more subtle version of “I got mine, buddy, so screw you!”While this is an attitude most often held by newcomers, it isn't limited just to them as I've seen a number of towns where life-long residents fall into that same trap. I know of at least one town down in southwestern New Hampshire where the residents have done that and now they wonder why no new families are moving in, why their elementary school is closing, and why what few businesses that used to be located in town have either closed their doors or relocated to another town.
I mentioned earlier that personal experience has driven me to address this topic, in this case a battle here in my little home town that pits a newcomer (the family has only been here for a few years) against a local business that has been run by the same family for generations. This in turn reminded me of a situation in a small town northwest of here where I once resided where a retired couple bought their 'dream home' near the town green.
Not once did they give any thought to the working farm that was across the road from them...until their first spring in their new home when the farm owners started their annual preparations for the coming growing season. Between removing the winter crop of rocks from the fields, plowing, seeding, fertilizing, and a lengthy list of other activities that take place on a working farm, there was noise and interesting 'aromas' emanating from the farm, something to which they took exception. It didn't matter to them that the farm had been in the same family and operating since the late 1700's, they wanted all of the activities that bothered them to stop. It didn't matter to them that the farm was the family's livelihood, how they made their living. They wanted their “peace and quiet” and were willing to do anything to get it. However they got nowhere with their complaints and found no sympathy in the town because they were, after all, flatlanders. They even made threats to sue, but from my understanding they couldn't find a lawyer willing to take their case because they all knew it was a loser right out of the gate.
In the end they stopped trying to shut down the farm operation and eventually settled in, acclimating to their new environs. I'd like to think they came to the point where they rarely even noticed the farm operations anymore...or perhaps they just shut off their hearing aids.
This situation has occurred in one form or another in small towns all across America. It's disheartening, disruptive, and at times, destructive.
The only other type of behavior that can cause havoc in small towns are when newcomers decide they want the same services and amenities to be made available as the place they fled, finding that small town life isn't everything they thought it would be. If they succeed they then complain about how much their property taxes have gone up, not making the connection between increased services/amenities and increased taxes. The level of this type of disconnect can be amazing, even when it is pointed out to them that they are the cause of the constantly rising property taxes.
I am not one who believes any town can become static and survive just as I do not believe a town's character can survive if it becomes just another clone of the places everyone has left. Towns will change with time. They always do. The towns that survive adapt with the times and do well if they can make any necessary changes while also maintaining its character. It's not easy, but it can be done and has been done. It's also worthwhile.
Thursday, July 11, 2013
I heard about the 4-year old mayor of Dorset, Minnesota late last year. Apparently the young man is mayor of a small town that boasts the highest number of restaurants per capita in the world. But that isn't why I'm writing about the small town of Dorset.
Mayor Robert “Bobby” Tufts is up for reelection. As in any election season there is more often than not a challenger, and it's no different in Dorset. In fact Tuft's opponent has already started running an attack ad:
And so it starts....
Friday, June 21, 2013
This post started out as part of this past Sunday's Thoughts On A Sunday, but I realized it deserved a spot all its own. It was related to a post I linked from David Starr and the problems with STEM education in our schools. While I did add my own two cents to David's observations, this kind of wrote itself as I was venting about what I saw as a problem with the school system here in my home town, a problem that exists all across America.
One of the things we hear constantly from the education lobby is that we need more teachers and lower student-to-teacher ratios. Both claims are wrong.
What we need are better teachers. If we have better teachers we don't need minuscule student-to-teacher ratios. At the moment our education system is set up to foster mediocrity, specifically in the quality of our teachers. What do we expect? We get mediocre schools with mediocre results and kids with mediocre educations. For the most part our schools are union shops and unions tend to suppress exceptionalism and force mediocrity. (Take it from one who used to belong to a union. It was something that always galled me – the institutional mediocrity.) I have seen this mediocrity in the school system in my home town. That's scary.
A lot of people claim our town has a great school system, and it is compared to a lot of the surrounding towns. That isn't saying much because it is still nowhere near what it should be considering how much money we spend on our school system every year – just under $17,000, about $4,000 more than the state average and between $2,000 and $7,000 more than the top 10 school systems in the state. It is towards the upper end of the mediocrity scale, meaning it isn't nearly as mediocre as other schools, but it's nothing to which we should aspire. For the money we spend we should have one of the best school systems in the state, but we don't. When our schools cut back on or drop some of the staples – courses that were at one time important, like Shop and Home Economics to name two – and replace them with subjects that have little to do with preparing students for real life, then the schools are in trouble. When I was in school these classes started in middle school...excuse me, junior high school, and it was mandatory. Of course I grew up before sexual equality became the norm and all the boys took Shop and all the girls took Home Ec.
Today all kids should take both because they teach them skills they will use throughout their entire lives regardless of what they end up doing for a living. I cannot count how many times I've come across young adults who couldn't swing a hammer, use a screwdriver, replace a light socket on a lamp, change a flat tire, or prepare a meal that didn't come from out of the freezer and into the microwave. They have no idea how the simplest things we use every day work and they have to call someone else to fix things for them. Those in our society may have access to knowledge our ancestors would find amazing, but as a whole our citizens don't know how to do things our grandparents and even our parents took for granted, and I'm not talking about arcane skills like shoeing horses or blacksmithing. But I digress...
Not all that long ago there was an effort made to move our school system towards what is called the International Baccalaureate program, an education program first proposed to UNESCO in 1948. While its goal was to offer an interesting perspective to education and an internationally approved curriculum, it has devolved into more of a feelgood program that seems bent more on fostering an educational environment that promotes socialist ideals rather than courses of study that are supposed to prepare our kids to fend for themselves in the real world. The more I learned the less I liked the idea and a lot of parents felt the same way. For the time being the IB is dead in our town. But that doesn't mean there aren't those within the school system that will keep trying to push it upon our kids.
I could go on and on about the problems with the school system in my town and schools across America, but I think you get the idea. It's time to take our schools back from the unions and the education lobby, to tell the Department of Education to go take a hike, and to start teaching our children what they need to know in order to make their way in the real world.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
I had planned a post about a self-proclaimed Progressive feminist getting her comeuppance when her college-age son ended up on the wrong end of a college PC tribunal. But something more interesting and closer to home came to my attention while perusing our local newspaper's Letter's to the Editor, so that post will wait until tomorrow.
One of our local liberals had his diatribe against the Second Amendment in April 17th edition of the Laconia Daily Sun. I can only describe as being long on 'feelings' and ignorance and short on fact. Here's part of what the fellow had to say:
The 2nd Amendment is a racist piece of legislation that should have been removed with the abolition of slavery. Only the most irresponsible gun owners believe that the 2nd Amendment actually “protects” our freedoms.The fellow goes on to disparage the NRA, equates Glocks to drones and tanks, and believes private ownership of guns is a “hindrance to human progress.” He also labels the Second Amendment as “a piece of legislation”. It is not. If it were, then merely passing a law in Congress would suffice to repeal it. He is showing his ignorance of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
What a putz.
Here is what I e-mailed to the newspaper in response to this fellow's ignorance-laced rant:
I am writing in response to George [M's] letter about the Second Amendment being racist. It was apparent to me that Mr. [M] has little understanding of the Second Amendment, the 1860's, or the history of gun control laws.I find that the folks who make claims about the racism of others are often the only racists in the room. But their racism is more subtle and backhanded, and therefore a more dishonest form of racism. What's worse is that they often don't realize that they are indeed racist.
First, when the 13th Amendment that ended slavery was ratified, there was no possibility that the 2nd Amendment could or would be repealed. Most of the populace of the United States was armed, it being just after the Civil War. Many were veterans of that war, both Union and Confederate. The frontier was still open, territories will still being settled, and law enforcement was spotty at best. There was no way the states would have ratified a repeal of the 2nd Amendment under those conditions, Mr. M's contentions to the contrary.
Second, gun control laws were first prevalent in the South after the Civil War. These laws were aimed at keeping the former slaves from being able to arm themselves. This was done in order to head off possible retaliation by blacks against whites, or at least that's how the idea was sold. A less openly known reason was that it prevented blacks from being able to protect themselves against the predations of whites trying to "keep them in their place."
Mr. [M], the 2nd Amendment isn't racist and never has been. It is the gun control laws you seem to love that are racist at their roots. Perhaps you should do a little more historical research before making such ill informed accusations.
Saturday, March 2, 2013
A Merrimack, New Hampshire gun shop owner decided he would exercise both his First and Second Amendment rights by naming President Barack Obama “Firearms Salesman of the Year” and posting the acclamation in one of the windows fronting his shop.
Store owner Keith Cox said it's all about freedom of speech, noting he's been getting words of support from customers ever since he put up the sign.While some people have found the sign offensive and want Cox to take it down, we must remind them that there is no right to not be offended in either the US or New Hampshire constitutions. If they're so offended, then they do not need to buy anything from his shop, do they? (It's likely the same folks offended by the sign also believe that disarming law abiding citizens is the path to safety from gun wielding criminals, and therefore wouldn't be patronizing Cox's gun shop anyways.)
Beside the image of Obama are the images of Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong, above the statement, "All experts agree gun control works."
Thursday, November 29, 2012
One of my favorite local liberals, James Veverka, is at it again. (I say he's my favorite because he makes it so darned easy to show him up for the unthinking, intolerant, progressive parrot he is.)
This time, in response to a local conservative's remarks about the election results, he writes in the November 27th issue of the Laconia Daily Sun “...out of the six counties in Virginia that have a median income of $100,000 or more, Obama won five. [He] doesn't realize that four years of hysterical right wing fiscal, birther, and religious foaming at the mouth got them nowhere.”
One thing I realized right off the bat is that Veverka doesn't mention anything about those five counties in Virginia other than he median income. Then again he probably doesn't know anything else about those counties other than a bunch of well off people live there, thereby proving his point that even the rich love Obama. But I know far more about those counties that blows Veverka's claim right out of the water.
Those five counties are heavily populated by government bureaucrats, lobbyists, and others whose livelihoods depend heavily upon federal government largess. Their $100,000 (or more) median income is by way of direct or indirect government money (meaning our money). Very few of those within those five counties are CEOs of manufacturing, service, or other private commercial companies or corporations. So when the voters within those five counties in northern Virginia voted for Obama they were doing so to ensure their continuing employment at taxpayer expense.
A well known GOP pollster told me back in August that only two states he polled where people believing things were better in the country since 2008 were Virginia and Ohio. The Virginia perception was almost entirely the result of the massive amount of government spending and employees that spill across the Potomac bridges each day into areas as far away as Prince William and Faquier Counties.The people living in those five counties are out of touch with the economic and political realities the rest of us must face every day. So to use them as an example of wealthy voting for Obama is ignorant at best and disingenuous at worst. Knowing Mister Veverka from his long history of vilifying non-Democrats in the local newspapers, in his case I'd have to say it's both.
Saturday, November 10, 2012
I have to admit that I haven't felt much like writing since the Tuesday debacle of Obama's re-election. The con man has once again conned the American electorate and has won another 4 years to continue damaging America's economy and standing in the world.
What galls me even more is what I've come to call the “sore winner syndrome” where many of the local populace here in my part of New Hampshire seem to be even angrier and less tolerant now that their “messiah” has won a second term. One in particular I have mentioned here before, a fellow living in a world of his own making where anyone who disagrees with his beliefs on any level is seen as deluded and/or evil. And he's a smug SOB, to boot.
In his latest diatribe against Republicans he likens them to demons to be exorcised.
Writes James Veverka in the Friday edition of the Laconia Daily Sun:
The people saw the pathological lying and distortions of the right wing hate machine and stuffed them in the garbage disposal where they belong. Their radical agenda is no longer recyclable so the next time the far right rears its ugly head, the people will recognize the smell right away. They will not be fooled by economic conservatives who have an extreme social agenda and religious agenda that would make Mullah Omar beam with pride.In his last sentence he equates conservatives with the Taliban. He also mixes up the economic conservatives (those who believe we shouldn't spend more than we take in or borrow money from our adversaries) with social conservatives (those who are pro-life and believe in the freedom of speech and religion). There are times when the two groups cross over, but for the most part economic conservatives could care less about social issues one way or the other. But to hate-filled unthinking indoctrinated pedantic leftists like Mister Veverka, there is no difference. By that measure I might make the claim that he is a Stalin-loving communist looter who would like nothing better than imprisoning anyone who dares speak out against his beloved messiah, but I am not venal like him.
His less than magnanimous slap in the face to those who do not share his political views quoted above is one of his less over-the-top Leftist rants. After reading his screeds over the past few years I and other readers of the Sun can predict exactly what Mister Veverka will write about any topic.
He's an angry man who thinks that the rest of us owe it to him and others like him to let them run our lives because he's so much more intelligent and wise. And this is where he departs from reality because I doubt very much he has much luck running his own life. Otherwise why is he so angry all the time even when “his” side has won? He's just another one of those sore winners that can't keep his hate in check even in victory. I guess that shows everyone what a pathetic excuse for a “tolerant” Democrat he is.
Saturday, September 22, 2012
Both the calendar and the weather are telling me that summer has ended.
And as always it is this song that describes how the end of summer makes me feel, taking me back to end of summer during my teen years.
Note: There were tons of covers done of this song, with some of the videos quite good, but they aren't the same. Only Don Henley's version speaks for me.
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
This past Thursday I filled the trusty F150's gas tank, paying $3.689 per gallon for the privilege.
This afternoon on my way home I passed by the gas station and saw regular had jumped to $3.919 per gallon. WTF?
That's a 23¢ per gallon jump in only 5 days.
Did I miss some earth-shattering news that caused oil prices to spike some time in the past few days? I know prices tend to fall after the summer season ends and then jumps up a bit when the refiners start changing over to making the winter blends of gasoline as well as increasing fuel oil and propane production. But what the heck?
Monday, September 10, 2012
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
First, we are told “You didn't build that!”
Next, it's “Government is the only thing we all belong to.”
It's merely another part of the Democrat mind-set, being that we owe everything to the government and that we are owned part and parcel by that same government. In other words, they are trying to tell us that we are slaves of the State and that we should be grateful for our indentured status.
What's worse is that at there are a lot of people who look forward to becoming vassals as if that will somehow relieve them of some great burden. It will. They will be relieved of their freedom to choose for themselves. They will become nothing but a disposable cog in the machine that is the State.
Is there anything we as Americans can do to prevent this from happening? Sure.
Vote them out of office. Ridicule them at every opportunity. Show the rest of the people that what these folks are advocating is not a solution, but a trap. There are plenty of examples to prove the point.
One of the biggest in more recent American history was LBJ's Great Society, a social welfare program that trapped millions in poverty and kept them dependent on the government, generation after generation. Minorities that had been making great strides to lift themselves out of poverty after World War II were again made second class citizens, having sold their freedom for a regular check from the government coffers. What's worse is that very folks who pulled this off painted their efforts to re-enslave them as a means to reach some kind of never-to-be-reached 'equality'. They were sold a lie, one too many still continue to believe.
If they need other examples there are plenty to choose from – the Bolshevik Revolution, Nazi Germany, Cuba, Nicaragua under the Sandinistas, Chavez's Venezuela, and a whole host of other nations that tried what the Democrats have been attempting to do (and failed miserably). It's a system that is always doomed to fail. Some have failed in spectacular fashion while others have been slowly fading away. But all of them have had one common element – surrendering individual freedoms to the State.
Friday, August 31, 2012
I find that more often words of wisdom come not necessarily from those writing the op-ed pieces in the various publications – both hardcopy and online – but from those commenting upon them. In a recent WSJ piece by Kimberly Strassel about how it is the various state governors who are leading the way in reform, showing the federal government how to put the country's fiscal house back into order, two particularly astute observations were made by her readers – one stating the choice we have before us this coming November and the other quoting Thomas Sowell in relation to the first.
Stated the first, Steve Korn:
We have a choice between government that works and government that doesn't.To which Gregg Sanderson replied:
Thomas Sowell had the best answer I've seen:And so it has been in our nation and others of the West. It has become less about logic and using the lessons from the past, showing us what works and what doesn't, and more about already dis-proven means of doing things that are implemented anyways because of how it makes someone (or a group of someones) feel.
"Much of the social history of the Western world, over the past three decades, has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good."
As history has shown again and again, and particularly over the past few decades, making choices based upon or heavily influenced by feelings is almost always the wrong thing to do. The unintended consequences almost always outweigh any perceived benefits and end up doing more harm than doing nothing while providing little good.
Saturday, August 25, 2012
Thursday, August 23, 2012
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
By way of Facebook comes this advice for potential college freshman from Cal Techgirl.
A number of comments from some of her friends expanded a bit on this, most of with which I agreed. Names have been modified to protect the innocent from egregious retaliation.
Dear Prospective Freshmen, You are trying to get into a major 4-year university. You do yourself no favors by 1) acting like you're my friend (e.g. "Hey" is not an appropriate subject line for a 1st email) or 2) using text speak. We use grammar and spacing here in the big kids' sandbox.
I have seen this problem at work, where the writing skills of the engineers, technicians, and software coders leave much to be desired, particularly among the younger employees. It's one reason why I spend an inordinate amount of time rewriting procedures, design specifications, and product proposals. It's also the main reason I read anything BeezleBub writes for school as he has a tendency to use texting shorthand – mostly leaving out “unnecessary” words – which makes reading his writing assignments painful at times. At least he hasn't been using texting abbreviations...or at least not yet.
BJW- Good luck with that one. Having taught a few high schoolers in the finer arts of English Literature, Grammar and Composition, I can tell you I fought the tough fight, but I fear I lost most days.
I once tried to convince my students to not use any "be" verbs in a particular assignment. They ignored me. I rewrote each of their papers, and I used 2 "be" verbs in two of them, and none in the others. They could not believe that I did it. One student claimed that I changed the meaning of what she had written. I sat down with her and went line by line. Then, she said, "but it doesn't sound like me." (Imagine the whine in her voice.) She did not amuse me. (I now teach only my children - homeschool. They don't like my "no be verbs" rules, either.)
Cal Techgirl- That's hard. But important for what we teach in terms of professional scientific writing. Most of them just don't get it.
I think the other problem is that these kids just don't read as much as we did. You learn language by seeing it and hearing it.
CS- We just hired a girl with a bachelor's degree. Every e-mail she writes starts with “Hey”, even to the Assistant Vice President of our department. ACK!
BJW- Our society has devolved to such a casual state! Can we blame Mark Zuckerberg?