Rants

Recovery

You know you're in trouble when the doctor ends every sentence with "for your age."

The broken left foot, suffered on the opening day of FloydFest and ignored because I thought I was walking around on a sprain, is taking longer than I would like to heal but the doc says it's healing on a schedule "that's expected for someone of your age."

Which means slowly.

Memory lapses

John Garrison, Chief Ranger of the Blue Ridge Parkway, promises he will "get to the bottom" of the run-in I had with members of his Criminal Interdiction Team during FloydFest.

Of course, he says, it may take a while.

Well, damn!

I'm supposed to be getting ready to head for Washington for the Media Giraffe "Journalism that Matters" seminar but the doctor nixed that travel today after examining my still broken but apparently healing, foot.

He says the foot cannot handle five hours of driving each way plus sitting and standing in a seminar that runs from 1 p.m. Tuesday through 6 p.m. Wednesday with few breaks.

Damn. I was looking forward to working with fellow online professionals on examining the future of journalism in a digital world.

Gestapo 101

For the second year in a row, the National Park Service police brought in their "special interdiction team" from Asheville to harass attendees of FloydFest.  It is a despicable display of government abuse of power and a waste of yours and my tax dollars.

After passing two carloads of young people pulled over by the park police's gestapo-like tactics, I stopped to take photos of a park service officer who was going through everything in a couple's Jeep Cherokee -- cooler, backpacks, glove boxes and consoles.

 As I approached the scene, the park service cop wheeled around, pointed at me and said "Sir, if you raise that camera to take a photograph I will place you under arrest."

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Under arrest? I've been shooting photos on the Blue Ridge Parkway since before this kid's father was born. I muttered somethng about this being a public thoroughfare and I was a working journalist doing my job.

"Sir," he retorted, "this is U.S. government property and under the provisions of the USA Patriot Act you cannot take photographs of official government activity without authorization. Put your camera down now!"

USA Patriot Act? The rights-robbing law that the Bush administration uses to detain citizens without due process, ship people off to the Gitmo and keep critics of the the President from flying on commercial airlines?  That Patriot Act?

"Sir, you have 15 seconds to leave or you are under arrest."  He had his hand on his gun so I left.  I saw the sign above about a mile from the scene and stopped to shoot it, wondering is another Park Service Cop would come by and arrest me for taking photos of a sign.

At FloydFest Thursday evening, a number of people told me about their run-ins with the Park Service goon squad. They are looking for any "probable cause" to pull people over and search their car. One girl was stopped because she had beads hanging from her rear view mirror. Another for having just one bolt holding his license plate (she was ticketed for "improper equipment"). Still another for "driving in a suspicious manner."

A story floating around the festival Thursday night said this same squad pulled Floyd County Sheriff Shannon Zeman over Wednesday night for speeding on the Parkway. I haven't had a chance to confirm that one yet but will when I see Shannon.

Two warnings: Avoid the Parkway if you can. Take Canning Factory Road to Black Ridge Road to the remote parking lots. You have on-site parking at the Festival, take Black Ridge and cross the Parkway there to enter the event.

If you get nailed by these storm troopers, call Floyd attorney Jonathan Rogers next week and tell him about it. He's willing to file a class-action suit against the Park Service for their gestapo-like tactics.

Va. Tech & Frank Beamer’s legacy

Virginia Tech's blind obsession with becoming a national football powerhouse and its look-the-other-way mentality at coach Frank Beamer's recruitment of thugs and gang bangers for his football team is giving the school another public relations nightmare when it can least afford it.

Networkus Interruptus

No Internet this morning. Citizens Internet Service down for the county. Offline. Nada.

Tech support said the problem was areawide. Not sure what was happening but they were working on it.

Ran some tests. Sites reachable by IP address but not by domain name. That usually means a DNS problem. Perhaps their zone file corrupted during overnight update.

Ran tests with an IP monitor. Yep. IPs found but no domain names.

Called Citizens back. The young lady who answered the tech support line wasn't impressed.

Vox unpopuli

Two public hearings before the Floyd County Board of Supervisors Tuesday: One of an amended ordinance to raise the exemption limits for elderly and disabled to qualify for a $200 real estate tax exemption and a second on raising the "security fee" that is charged in court costs for convictions in traffic and criminal courts.

The turnout: Zero. Nada. Zilch. Nobody.

Home ownership: American dream or nightmare?

Foreclosures in Virginia rose 400 percent in the past year -- a sign that both the economy and the country's housing boom are headed South.

This may come as a surprise to the fantasy-laden politicians in Washington who keep issuing statements with rosy economic news but many Americans face difficulties paying their mortgages and the problem worsens each passing day.

Jesus, Jerry Falwell was not God

Jerry Falwell will be buried tomorrow and maybe, just maybe, we can end the gluttony and excess of local news coverage about his death.

Falwell was a minister and a rabid right-wing demogogue and hardly worth the attention The Roanoke Times and other local media have given him. Lord, the local TV stations are even carrying his funeral live. You'd think the Pope died.

Like many of his ilk, Falwell played the religious card to poltiical advantage and often misused the Bible to further his agenda. He racism, homophobia and intolerance contrasted sharply with the religious faith he claimed to embrace. He was a religious con-man, nothing more.

For God's sake, bury him so we can rest in peace.

Users

Too often in both my personal and professional life, I have become the target of users.

You know the users: They're the slick ones with the vapid smiles, the instant homilies, the constant pandering. They approach each relationship with an agenda:  Always considering the angles, always working the room, always seeking out those who can provide some sort of benefit to their goals.