Tag Archives: Guest contributors

Virginia Has a Rising Sea Problem, Relatively

Ninety years of relative sea level rise (SLR) at Norfolk’s Sewells Point gauge, with mean lines added by Kip Hansen. It is about two-third due to sinking land, one-third due to long term absolute SLR, and in no way due to modern CO2 emissions.

by Steve Haner and Kip Hansen

When discussing sea level rise, on Virginia’s coast or anywhere else, watch the terms being used very carefully. Absolute sea level is the height of the ocean compared to the center of the Earth. Relative sea level is the height of the ocean compared to a specific point on the shore. They are not the same.

Virginia’s coastal region is getting creamed by relative sea level rise, not the absolute variety. As clear and important as that is, however, Virginia officialdom has decided to ignore it and instead base its economic decisions on scary model projections that put much of tidal Virginia underwater within decades.

This June article from Virginia Mercury details how Governor Ralph Northam’s administration imposed the assumption that relative sea level at Sewell’s Point will rise 2.2 feet by 2050, which would require an acceleration of the measured rise by factors of about five. The projected rise would approach seven feet by 2100. That would cover much of developed Virginia Beach. Continue reading

The Other Side of the “Intensifying Rain” Claim

Prepared by Kip Hansen. Data sources cited. Click for larger view.

by Steve Haner and Kip Hansen

With the rainy remnants of another hurricane heading for Virginia from battered Louisiana, the stories of a coming Climate Armageddon will again ramp up. A couple of good examples of what to expect recently appeared in Virginia Mercury, the main one quoting numerous sources claiming Virginia is seeing more and more intense rainfall and will suffer more flooding as a result.

Don’t accept that on the slim evidence presented without paying close attention to what you are not being told. The facts omitted are often the main problem with the Climate Armageddon Narrative, which usually avoids outright falsehoods but regularly ignores adverse evidence.

The most powerful assumption in government right now, whether in Washington or Richmond, is that the Climate Armageddon Narrative is fact-based. It is instead based on models. A recent state-sponsored report which also warns of more and more intense rainfall, quoted by the Mercury, relies heavily on models and totally ignores how they usually offer a range of predictions. The report focuses only on the more dire of those predictions, not those which merely extrapolate historical trends. (More on that in a second story on sea level rise.) Continue reading

Let Me Get This Straight…

COVID ID cards

by Paula Harkins

Let me get this straight. I’ve got to show a valid ID to dine out or take a spin class… but not to vote?

A growing number of Virginia businesses, restaurants, and venues are requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination and a photo ID to enter. Richmond was the first Virginia locality to mandate vaccination of its state employees, including those who telework. Private organizations across the state are requiring their employees to be vaccinated or provide a negative COVID-19 test regularly, often at the cost of the employee. D.C. venues like Kennedy Center and Lincoln Theater require vaccination proof or a negative COVID-19 test along with a matching photo ID to attend live shows. Gyms such as Equinox and SoulCycle are requiring proof of vaccination to enter and workout at their facilities. The SoulCycle Standard states, “When it came down to putting new safety measures in place, we went above and beyond the guidelines.”

Fairfax County’s “COVID-19 for Businesses, Organizations and Employees” webpage states, “Vaccines are good for SALES: As people begin to return to a new normal way of life and revisit their favorite places, knowing that the people who work at the establishments they frequent is reassuring.” Continue reading

VMI, Media Bias, and Lies by Omission

by Larry Houseworth

Charlie Beckett of the London School of Economics addressed journalism’s turn to emotionalism in a talk given at the 2015 Science Festival in Bradford, West Yorkshire, England (“How journalism is turning emotional and what that might mean for news.”) He stated, “the value of objective journalism is the idea that journalism can attempt to give an account that is balanced, fact-based and that gives a fair summary not just of what has happened but the context around it without the distortion of the journalist’s own feelings.”

Beckett acknowledged there is a place for tempered emotion. He said, “Making a drama of a crisis has always been part of mass media. The theatre of news is as old as broadcast journalism. … If news does not get your attention, if you do not find it interesting, amusing, frightening or uplifting than you are less likely to take notice.”

The balance of emotion and objectivity “can only be an aspiration,” he conceded. “All journalists are human and have different factors that shape their worldview and their understanding of particular circumstances. … By selecting a story for reporting you have made a choice. The facts that you omit, as well as those you include, are selective.”

To validate Beckett’s opinion, we need look no further than the media’s recent treatment of the Virginia Military Institute where the omission of relevant facts has colored the coverage. Continue reading

Complexity and Single-Party Rule in the Modern University

Allan Stam

Bacon’s Rebellion publishes here a thought piece by University Professor Allan C. Stam, a professor of politics and public policy at the University of Virginia. Although the column describes research universities generally, Stam says that his critique applies to Virginia research universities and the University of Virginia. JAB

by Allan C. Stam

Large research universities have evolved into amalgamations of housing complexes, food service industries, semi-pro sports franchises, health systems, research enterprises, vocational training centers, and education systems. The administrative design of complex universities is such that they are nearly incapable of being efficiently managed. Running a modern research university is a bit like running a small city absent democratic accountability. Both jobs are growing more complex with layers of byzantine regulations often overwhelming their leaders.

Both types of organizations, universities and city management, are also inherently political which today means increasing polarization and conflict. Political systems distribute resources and services not by market means, but instead by power-based mechanisms. At the same time as the administrative burdens in our universities rises, they have, like most large cities, become single-party systems.

The combination of these two challenges: single-party rule combined with unmanageable complexity is leading universities down an unfortunate road. So-called administrative bloat is a direct consequence of excessive administrative complexity. Ideological intolerance and the stifling of free speech and thought is the consequence of universities’ emergent political monoculture. The combination of these two factors has created tremendous risks for the future of the American research university. Continue reading

There’s Gold in Them Thar… Press Releases?

by Jock Yellott

It seems there is a vein of quartz underground in Buckingham County sparkling with gold. The General Assembly almost prohibited mining it, but then backed off. This time.

A string of historic gold mines going back to the 19th Century appear as red dots on the county geological survey map like chigger bites on the skin of the land. Exploratory drilling by a Canadian company, Aston Bay Holdings, found significant new quantities of gold there.

From about the depth of a water well — 150 to 300 feet– Aston Bay’s diamond drills pulled up broken columns of translucent white quartz flecked with yellow metal. They drilled and drilled again for about 200 yards, two dozen holes, rarely drilling without finding more quartz glinting with gold. Continue reading

Seizing and Freezing with COVID

by Paula Harkins

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from my employer requiring me to report my vaccine status. Ummmm… what?!?

Let’s back up a moment. Since March 2019, I have been working from my home in Northern Virginia for a D.C. government contractor. I have limited my visits with friends, family, and the public. I had turned off the news. I had reduced my exposure to social media.

I am a fitness fan, so shortly after my employer went to a mass telework environment, I decided to stand up and lead a #INTHISTOGETHER program to encourage employees to keep moving in a pandemic environment, whether that was on a treadmill or on a hiking trail and to share experiences and pictures. We had over 800 participants! Folks stayed active, safely. This was my way of turning a lemon into lemonade. I was able to do something positive in a world that was struggling to feel and be “normal.”

Let’s fast forward to March 2020. Vaccines became available. I wasn’t sure about someone injecting me with a vaccine that had not gone through full trials, but I considered the odds and how it might affect me and the ones I love and decided to get vaccinated. My choice. Continue reading

Women, Stop Blaming Men If You Can’t Have It All

By Paula Harkins

Yesterday I was invited to join an advisory panel for a Women in Leadership course hosted by a university in Washington, D.C. Excited to learn about the possibilities, I read up on the course only to find the words, “From the ongoing battle for equal rights to the breaking of barriers on the workplace, women face complex issues in a dynamic environment that has been dominated by men for centuries.”

At that point my excitement ended. Let me explain.

Obviously, I am a w0man. I advocate for women in leadership roles, and I mentor young women. I urge my mentees to lean in, know their value, and to speak up about their value. What I don’t understand is why women feel it necessary to include rhetoric on male domination in the workplace and leadership. Let’s look at some stats. Continue reading

The Left Is Lying: CRT Is Peddling Hate in Our Schools

by Elizabeth Schultz

After claiming endlessly that Critical Race Theory (CRT) does not exist, or that it is not being ‘taught’ in schools, the two largest teachers’ unions – the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, funded with teachers’ dues, – finally admitted they support it. In fact, AFT is so committed to CRT that the union announced a multi-million dollar legal fund to protect those who teach it to students.

In doing so, the unions confirmed, despite all the protestations otherwise, what parents already know: Critical Race Theory has been embedded into compulsory professional training for teachers and classroom practices across the country.

The NEA recently resolved to “oppose attempts to ban critical race theory and/or The 1619 Project.” Not to be outdone, the AFT headlined chief CRT advocate, Ibram X. Kendi, and hosted curated sessions, such as “Racial Diversity and White Culture: Using Picture Books for Anti-Racist Teaching”, and “Race, Racism and History: We Need to Talk.”

These unions are not alone, as 5,000 teachers pledged to continue teaching CRT this year. They not only know that CRT is in the schools, they embrace it. In fact, they have participated in purging and rewriting curriculum for years. Continue reading

Local Unions Are Recognized Before Workers Vote?

by F. Vincent Vernuccio

Local government leaders are negotiating with union executives who have not been officially recognized by public employees they claim to represent.

Counties in northern Virginia are taking steps to allow public sector collective bargaining. But they are doing it with the support of union executives – not a groundswell of voter or public employee support. Continue reading

What Is a Farming Landowner to Do?

by Jim Kindig

My 3rd great grandfather came to Augusta County in the 1820s, cleared land and established crops on land that is still in our family. Several of my neighbors could tell similar stories. We love farming, but it’s a hard life. Incredible increases in productivity have kept agricultural commodity prices depressed for 80 years. To keep up with the latest and greatest agricultural machinery and technology, farmers have borrowed heavily, using their ancestral lands as collateral. One or two bad years, and they go broke. Many see no way out of their cycle of indebtedness.

Today there is light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak, and that light comes from the sun. Large-scale solar farms offer landowners a low-risk means to keep their farm land. They can lease acreage to a solar developer for a guaranteed income over 25 years. At the end of the lease, they can easily convert the land back to agricultural production with no degradation of soil quality or health. Continue reading

Hmmm… Implementing DE&I Might Be Trickier Than It Sounds

Here follows the transcript of an entirely fictional videoconference between University of Virginia President Jim Ryan and his Executive Cabinet. The author is not intending to be satirical. He is illuminating the issues that any honest effort to implement a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion agenda will encounter. — JAB

 by Jon Jewett

President Ryan: I have called this meeting to address the most important problem facing the University today — systemic racism. It is imperative that we make significant progress towards a solution during the 2021-22 academic year. In view of their critical roles in determining how we as a university address this problem, I have asked Greg Roberts, Dean of Admissions, Ian Baucom, Dean of Arts and Sciences. Risa Goluboff, Dean of the Law School, and David Wilkes, Dean of the School of Medicine, to join us.

I trust that by now you have all read Ibram X. Kendi’s How to be an Antiracist. If not, you should. Make that “must.’ Kendi’s basic message can be summed up as “No More Excuses.” We all know that all races are equal. Yet there are huge disparities between whites and blacks in this country, and in this University. Supposedly we have been working to eliminate those disparities at least since the civil rights movement of the 1960’s, but they have barely changed over the last 50 years. What we have been doing has simply not worked, and it is time to recognize that reality. Kevin McDonald, Vice President for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Community Partnerships, will first explain what our goals must be if we are to have an anti-racist university, and then I will call on others to explain how we will achieve those goals. Kevin? Continue reading

VMI, Character and the Blessings of God

by Carmen Villani

At the conclusion of sporting events, the Corps of Cadets, players, and alumni join as one in singing the VMI Doxology. It ends with – “God Bless our team and V-M-I!”

During its nearly 182-year history, the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) has aligned itself with Judeo-Christian values, emphasizing character and servant leadership.

God calls upon us to not be of this world, yet the VMI leadership is making changes to align VMI with the world. Driven by the mantra of “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” “Don’t do ordinary” is on the verge of becoming “We do ordinary.” Continue reading

Some Peoples’ Pain Matters More than Others’

Robert E. Lee statue on Richmond’s Monument Ave. Photo credit: Jay Paul/Reuters.

by Catesby Leigh

After George Floyd’s fatally brutal arrest, dozens of Confederate monuments were banished from civic settings throughout the South. And their ranks were further thinned last weekend, when Charlottesville’s equestrian statues to Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were finally hoisted off their pedestals after a prolonged legal battle.

But the fate of what may be the most important Confederate statue of all has yet to be determined. The magnificent equestrian tribute to Lee on Richmond’s Monument Avenue — the old Confederate capital’s principal venue for Lost Cause commemoration — is still standing. Its majestically rusticated granite pedestal, 40 feet tall, was hideously defaced with obscenity-laced graffiti during last year’s Black Lives Matter–Antifa agitation. Rings of graffitied jersey barriers and chain-link fencing eight feet high now gird the monument, situated on a turfed circle 200 feet wide. Despite some splashes of paint, the bronze statue itself appears undamaged, and its handsome silhouette, when viewed from a distance, is unimpaired. Continue reading

The Authoritarian Nature of DE&I Training

Stay in step…. Or else.

TO: The President, the College Board, the Faculty, the Staff, and the Constituents of Northern Virginia Community College

FROM: Dr. A Schuhart (DACCE), Professor of English, NVCC-Annandale

DATE: 04/19/2021

RE:  Letter of Dissent

After completing the required DEI training, it is clear to me that the claims of this training are a direct expression of Critical Race Theory (CRT). There is also absolutely no question that CRT is a scholarly claim, not an objective truth; therefore, it is a tentative, constructed truth about which individual Faculty may rightly and legally have professional disagreement, and whose construction and communication is governed by principles of academic discourse; and, that among these principles are:

  • the individual scholar’s right to determine the truth of any scholarly claim independently,
  • and, that truth is created through democratic consensus, and it cannot be imposed through process or force or law without invalidating the claim itself, nor can a scholar be required to enact such a truth against individual belief or conscience without infringing on that right of independent evaluation;
  • and, that the majority opinion cannot impose its view upon the minority using institutional process or force or law, and that the principle of Academic Freedom specifically and intentionally protects minority opinion in every scholarly claim;
  • and, that these rights are asserted not for the scholar alone, but also for the Citizens in our classes. Continue reading