Open Thread–Saturday, December 12, 2009

We have decided to keep an Open Thread up on the blog at all times so that people who have comments to make that don’t fit a Post topic, they will have a place to put it.  So when the Open Thread starts rolling off, we will post another one, realizing no one wants to travel to the bottom of the screen each and every time. 


Also, look at the top of the page, right below the black banner, in the far left hand corner.  Hopefully everyone recognizes this icon as the home symbol.  Clicking the home icon will take you back to square one and back to the first post.  

Hopefully, contributors will keep us apprised of community events here, especially during the holiday season.

Sesquicentennial Plans Presented to BOCS

Tuesday, December 8, Creston Owen, chairman of the newly formed Virginia Civil War Events Inc. presented his organization’s  plan to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Battle of First Manassas. His organization, made up of volunteers, has a 9 day plan to draw tourism to the area. His primary goal is to bring people to Manassas and Prince William County and to keep them coming back.  The events sound grand.  Also speaking to the board were Ed Clark, superintendent of Manassas National Battlefield Park and Brendon Hanafin, the county’s director of historic preservation who both added background information.

Funding will be the county’s primary obstacle. Many popular programs have already shut down or throttled back to bare-bones operations because of fiscal hard times. According to the Washington Examiner:

Still, funding presents an issue, even this early in the process. The cost per year for the county’s support and the events is estimated at $95,000.

All of the county’s financial support would have to come from the transient occupancy tax, said Budget Director David Tyerar. The TOT is a levy on tourist facilities such as hotels, motels and boarding houses that offer rented guest rooms for fewer than 30 consecutive days. Three of every five cents go toward tourism-related items in the county.

Creston Owen made a wonderful presentation to the board. His enthusiasm, knowledge, historical background made me want to write him a check on the spot. I am convinced he could sell ice cubes to Eskimos. The county chair warned that money was very scarce.

What if Manassas ponies up and the county does not? What if the county gives hard earned county money to this group? How loud will the hue and cry be from groups that support the Senior Day Care Center or transportation for the seniors to go to the senior citizens centers (different from senior day care)? It seems like the county is between a rock and a hard place.

State of Virginia Sesquicentennial Website

O’Reilly takes on Law and Order over Immigration Episode

The video speaks for itself.

Isn’t art supposed to imitate life? I watched that episode of Law and Order. The rhetoric sounded to me an ordinary day on at least one local blog. On the other hand, as you saw in the video, O’Reilly was named as one of the haters who stir up people on the right about illegal immigration. I am not so sure O’Reilly is all that vitriolic on this subject. He is actually rather tempered from what I have witnessed. However, his outrage and tantrum over Dick Wolf weakened his case.

The plot can be seen at this site. And to set the record straight, Law and Order SVU has only been on the air for 11 years. The show often incorporates current issues into the plot as the detectives try to solve crimes committed against special victims.

The Loudoun County Raunchy “12 Days of Christmas”




The Christmas displays at the Loudoun County Courthouse in Leesburg has become quite the center of controversy and political statement. That’s too bad. What ever happened to peace on earth, good will towards men? With all due respect for the 1st Amendment Establishment clause, some people are getting out of hand.

First off, to the Rotary Club’s credit, they have pulled out of the mix, withdrawn their application for a display which would have been a Christmas tree.


According to : Leesburg Today

One request that is no longer on the table is the Rotary Club of Leesburg’s Christmas tree that has graced the courthouse lawn for almost 50 years. Club President Ron Rogos confirmed Monday that the club has pulled its application to place a Christmas tree on the courthouse lawn.

Rogos said the Rotary Club Board of Directors made the decision Thursday, Dec. 3, electing to place the tree somewhere else, at a location still to be determined.

“We are a service organization with a long tradition of doing good things. We don’t get involved in policy-making or political decisions; all we are is a service club,” Rogos said. “The best way for us to keep doing what we’re doing is put our tree up and put it up somewhere else.”

Seven requests have been received by Loudoun County since their vote to overturn the ban on all courthouse displays earlier this month that had been implemented by the Courts Grounds and Facilities Committee. Amongst the usual Christmas Tree, interfaith and creche requests are 2 requests that many citizens are very unhappy with. One such request is from Richard Wingrove representing Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin based group for separation of church and state. The request is to display:

…a six-foot mesh banner reading, “At This Season of the Winter Solstice, May Reason Prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural World. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

The above display pales by comparison to the next request from Sugarland Run resident Edward R. Myers.  Myers has put together a display that includes a parody of the 12 Days of Christmas: 

12 Day of Christmas” song to include “12 master debaters, 11 cunning linguists, 10 percent jobless, 9 niggardly noobs, 8-speech as gay tweets, 7 teabagger tools, 6-ting safety screws, 5 birther-control rings, 4 sucky health care, 3-dom disappearing, 2 many bills and a red FCUK to you too.” The FCUK is the trademark of French Connection United Kingdom.

The point, Myers said Tuesday is to force the Board of Supervisors to stop and think, noting that his signs, which he requested be hung on the fence around the courthouse in time for Saturday’s Leesburg holiday parade, are “like an onion with a number of layers.” In his application, Myers said he wanted his sign hung in celebration of the anniversary of the signing of the Bill of Rights, Dec. 15, which includes the protection of speech.

“I think mixing religion and government together to make a commercial Christmas is idolatry. I wanted to make something that would offend the Board of Supervisors for being so dismissive of the [committee] that thought through this issue so carefully,” he said, “while at the same time having a public display that would not offend children.”

Because, Myers said, it is only what people put into the words themselves that would make anyone construe his signs as obscene.

“It’s a play on words, with an innocent veneer, that people with dirty minds might read into it,” he said, noting, “free speech is kind of a hobby of mine.”

I respect the establishment clause folks until they get outrageous.  These requests seem over the top.  Too bad it has to be all or none.  I see nothing wrong with Christmas trees, wreaths, mennorahs, frosties, sleighs, mistletoe,  and holly on public property during this time of year.  These are symbols of many holidays.  Manger scenes are probably best displayed at churches.  That seems more appropriate. 

The 2 displays that are causing such contention in Loudoun County certainly explain why the Court Grounds Committee chose to ban all displays.  Too bad people can’t exercise good taste.  They ruin it for everyone.  It might be their legal right to display offensive material but doing so defies wisdom and good taste.  Those 2 qualities, unfortunately, cannot be legislated or codified.

Is this the time of year to make a point?  Was the Rotary Club taking the high ground to pull out of the fray?  Should all displays be banned or should the county be able to use its wisdom to decide what is appropriate and what is not?  Will the voters make these supervisors pay at the ballot box next supervisor election cycle?

The Geminids are Coming!


 It’s time for another Sky Event. (Dec. 13)

Tonight, if the skies are clear, those who are hearty enough to brave cold weather might have a real treat in store. Tonight is an annual meteor shower that is only increasing in intensity.

Before the Civil War, the meteor shower was sort of a dud. For starters, who wants to go out in the cold to watch the night skies?  Over time, however, this meteor shower has only increased in intensity. According to


The Geminids are not typical meteors, also known as shooting stars. Most meteors are created when tiny particles from comets slam into the Earth’s atmosphere and disintegrate. Meteors fly through the sky every night, and when there are a lot, they are called meteor showers.

The Geminids are among the few meteors created from an asteroid, Cooke said. Several hundred or perhaps a few thousand years ago — scientists aren’t sure when — something caused what is now known as the 3200 Phaethon asteroid to start spewing debris. Perhaps something hit it. No one knows.

“The Geminids are kind of mysterious in that regard,” Cooke said.

What isn’t a mystery is the arrival of the Geminids each December. They are in different places in the sky, depending on the time and location. From about 9 p.m. until after midnight Sunday, look to the northeast.

The Geminids radiate near the constellation Gemini. At around 10 pm, locate the constellation Orion. Then look above Orion and to the left. Hopefully you will see at least 2-3 ‘shooting stars’ per minute. We could be getting a real light show tonight, or, if skies remain cloudy like they are Sunday morning, we could see nothing. It is all a crap shoot at this point.

Jon Stewart Tries to Rescue Gretchen Carlson’s IQ from an Offshore Account

You should know it will be here, at least once a week.  Elena and I are big Jon Stewart fans so he will appear.  This week he tries to rescue Gretchen Carlson’s IQ from an Offshore Account.   Stewart accuses Carlson of playing the troubled mom and says she has dumbed herself down.  She sure doesn’t come across as a valedictorian, a Stanford graduate nor someone who has studied at Oxford.  So why is she always playing like she doesn’t know which side is up?

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Gretchen Carlson Dumbs Down
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Political Humor Health Care Crisis

Stephen King Donates $12,999 to Bring Maine National Guard Home for Christmas

Stephen King

Best selling prolific author Stephen King and his wife Tabitha have donated $12,999 to bring 150 members of the Maine National Guard home for Christmas.   King is superstitious about numbers and would not donate the $13,000 he was originally approached about.  The Maine troops will eventually deploy to Afghanistan in January of next year.   They are currently stationed at Camp Atterbury in Indiana. 

According to DC Examiner:

The couple donated $12,999 toward the expenses of the trip.  King’s assistant, said that King thought 13 was an unlucky number.  “Steve is such a numbers person,” said Julie Eugley in an interview with the Bangor Daily News. “When we were approached for $13,000, he thought that number was a little unlucky. He didn’t want any bad whammies associated with these troops.”  Eugley dropped the extra dollar to make the donation an even $13,000.

According to The Digital Journal, the money was solicited by Operation Community Support, a not-for-profit Bangor-based military assistance agency. The Kings’ donation is the largest ever received by the agency, and was given from their personal finances – not their foundation, according to Eugley.

The donation from King, a Maine native, will fund two bus trips for the 150 soldiers.


Long known for his horror novels, novellas and short stories, King was seriously injured himself several years ago when he was run over by a van while out for a walk.