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The picture looks like a bank of clouds in the distance. It is the smoke plumes from a fire that is about 15 miles away. The plumes rise 12 to 14 thousand feet from the fire, and the fire itself has been growing by thousands of acres a day.
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Wildland fire is not something we on the east coast see very often, and it generally isn't as wide-spread, quick-moving, or downright dangerous as what many are out west. Just to give an idea, Washington DC is 68 square miles, a square mile is 640 acres, DC is only 43520 acres. The Meriwether/Ahorn (both managed by the same team) are over 56,000 acres, and they grew by more than 10,000 acres in yesterday's situation report. These kinds of fires would swallow the size of DC every few days.

Is this even legal?

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"Barron's" (July 2, 2007, page 39) reports the existence of BerkShares, paper money printed and issued in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts. The idea is to boost the local economy by keeping money in the local economy. It is currently accepted at some 280 local businesses.

(I'd like to post a link to the article, but reading the article online requires a subscription, and getting them to post an article that we can link to costs on the order of $500 per month.)

Never mind the questionable benefit this currency will give to the local economy. My copy of the United States Constitution reads, "No State shall... make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts...." (Article I, Section 10)

Now, I realize that the "Berserkshires" are not a state, but several Supreme Court rulings have made it clear that what applies to the states also applies to subdivisions of the states.

Is this the first step to secession?

Shad Planking

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I missed Virginia's seminal political shindig, the Shad Planking, this year. For those who have never been, I recommend it. The food and free beer along with some grip-and-grinning with politicians make for a great day.

This year LG Bolling was the keynote speaker, but it was a somber event in light of the tragedy this week.

MC has the LG's remarks here.

Uncommon Courage

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In dark moments, there are those among us who rise to the occasion and act with particular heroism. Prof. Liviu Librescu exemplifies this principle. His story should be spread far and wide.

Quoting Fox News via MC:

JERUSALEM — An Israeli lecturer who died in the massacre at a U.S. university saved the lives of several students by blocking the doorway of his classroom from the approaching gunman before he was fatally shot, his son said Tuesday.

Students of Liviu Librescu, 76, a holocaust survivor who was an engineering science and mathematics lecturer at Virginia Tech for 20 years, sent e-mails to his wife, Marlena, telling of how he blocked the gunman's way and saved their lives, said the son, Joe.

Tragedy at Tech

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God be with the families of those lost and the wounded. AP story.

Fox News is reporting 32 dead now. Anyone need more proof than this of the existence of evil?

UPDATE: LG Bolling was on Brit Hume's program tonight representing the Commonwealth since the governor is on his way back from Japan. He said that it was about what one could imagine as "our worst day." I have to agree.

UPDATE #2: MC has the elected responses.

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