Matthew Schwartz Named to Oglethorpe University Fall Dean’s List

January 25, 2011 by Blue Ridge Leader People Be the first to comment

Matthew Schwartz,of Paeonian Springs was among just over 200 students from Oglethorpe University who made the Fall 2010 Dean’s List. The Business major is a second year student at Oglethorpe, who earned this distinction by reaching at least a 3.5 grade-point average while maintaining a full-time class schedule for the semester.

Clyde Kessler Named to Dean’s List at Hampden-Sydney College

January 25, 2011 by Blue Ridge Leader People Be the first to comment

Clyde Royal Kessler, a senior at Hampden-Sydney College, was named to the Dean’s List for the first semester of the 2010-2011 academic year. To earn this distinction, students must achieve at least a 3.3 semester grade point average out of a possible 4.0.

Clyde is a graduate of Loudoun Valley High School and is the son of Robert and Joanne Feickert of Round Hill.

A private college for men, Hampden-Sydney is ranked in the top tier of liberal arts colleges by U.S. News & World Report. The College is known for its liberal arts curriculum, the Honor Code which stresses individual and collective responsibility, and a focus on the needs of young men.

Yard Sale – Part 2

January 25, 2011 by Blue Ridge Leader Columns, Sustainable Planet Be the first to comment

“A guiding principle is that new ideas come from profound analysis of simple models – thinking deeply of simple things.” Ray Pierrehumbert, Principles of Planetary Climate, Cambridge University Press, 2010.

“Misery and poverty are frequently confused, because they are close – close, but located on either side of a limit. On one side, economic life is not assured; on the other side, it is assured. Beneath that limit, there’s misery, no certainty of a viable life, constant risk; above the limit, the risk stops, and poor or rich, there is assurance. Immediately above the limit is poverty, and above that are the successive zones of affluence. All below is misery; poverty is only a little above; thus the two are close in quantity, closer than much affluence is to poverty. Judging only by quantity, wealth is much further from poverty than poverty is from misery; but between poverty and misery is a distinction in quality, in nature.” Charles Péguy, 1902 essay “De Jean Coste.” [1]

Tony Noerpel

Following Pierrehumbert’s advice, Last week I discussed the need for simple economic models and listed some requirements of a good model. I suggested Pareto’s Yard Sale model [2] to describe the observed migration of wealth from middle class and poor to the wealthy which seems to have occurred in all human civilizations since humans discovered the principle of private property and commerce. Prior to about 10,000 year ago, humans lived as small (between 75 and 150 individuals) egalitarian groups based on hunting and gathering with little concept of private property. With private property came trade and with trade came inequality. Pareto’s yard sale model suggests that inequality is inherently a result of commerce even without considering individual characteristics such as intelligence, good looks, shrewdness or dishonesty. In a large population some individuals will win big and many will lose. There have always been kings and emperors, dictators and captains of industry while most of the population either just got by or were slaves or destitute. According to the yard sale economic model with near certain probability somebody will become as wealthy as Bill Gates. The probability that Gates’ himself would turn out to be that person were probably rather low but because of his personal characteristics and inherited wealth certainly much higher than most people.

Another simple model that can show that this propensity of commerce to make somebody rich and many people poor is the Gambler’s Ruin problem from probability theory [3]. If two gamblers start with an equal amount of money and make a series of small wagers on the outcome of the toss of a fair coin, it is easy to show in closed form that there is a 50 percent probability that the first player will become bankrupted and a 50 percent probability that the second player will become bankrupted and zero probability that the game will continue without bankruptcy. This result is exact.

Further, we can calculate the probability of ruin for the two players if they start with unequal amounts of money. As you would expect, the player starting with the most money is most likely to win. The problem can be made more interesting by varying the relative probabilities of each player’s chances of winning. In other words, if the first player cheats a little bit, he may increase his probability of winning each coin toss slightly but he will increase the probability of the second player going bankrupt substantially.

At this time, 129 million Americans have health care problems which qualify as pre-existing conditions. All of these people could be denied coverage by their private-for-profit health insurance companies if the GOP/FOX/corporate elite succeed in overturning Obama’s health care plan [4]. Since health problems are the principle reason families are forced into bankruptcy in the United States, more American families will become vulnerable if Republicans were to succeed.

A recent report published by the Levi Institute finds that the top 1 percent of American households by income hold 37.1 percent of all wealth. The next 4 percent hold 27.9 percent. The next 15 percent hold 22.2 percent. The next 20 percent holds 10 percent of all wealth. The middle quintile holds 3.1 percent of all wealth. The bottom 40 percent of American households hold -0.8 percent of all wealth. 24.1 percent of all American households have negative net worth [5]. We see that wealth distribution is highly skewed and most Americans are vulnerable to economic failure even without suffering a debilitating injury or illness. The author of this report, Edward Wolff, concludes:

We can see how the rising debt of the middle class made them vulnerable to income shocks and set the stage for the mortgage crises of 2008 and 2009 and the resulting financial meltdown. The rapid decline in house prices over these two years (on the order of 24 percent) left many middle-class families (I estimate 16.6 percent of homeowners) “underwater” (greater mortgage debt than the value of their homes) and, coupled with a sharp spike in unemployment, unable (or unwilling) to repay their mortgage loans.”

Since the exploitation of fossil fuels, humans have been able to create new wealth faster than the natural migration of wealth from middle class and poor to the wealthy. In the recent past, this has led to increasing prosperity for a greater number of people but it has not eliminated misery. The large middle class was a positive feedback further increasing total wealth. This led to the evolution of modern democracies and the sense of fairness in which we all believe. A prudent and honorable goal of our society might be that no American has to live in misery and indeed we were on our way to achieving this goal. Poverty as defined by Péguy is fine so long as all Americans have equal opportunity, access to education, freedom from hunger and adequate health care and nobody is forced into misery. While some unequal wealth distribution may be acceptable and even desirable, vast accumulation of wealth is quite unnecessary and is harmful to the democratic process. Chief Justice William Brandeis wrote [6]: “We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” One of the mantras of the current economic crises is that failed banks were “too big to fail” and were subsequently bailed out. The lesson might have been that we should not let corporations become too big to fail or individuals to wealthy and powerful to corrupt, but we appear to have lost the opportunity to learn and apply this important lesson.

Naturally, extreme wealth is connected with extreme influence and power and of course that corrupts democracy. The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision allowing unlimited funding of political campaigns by wealthy individuals and corporations probably signaled America’s transition from an oligarchy to a keptocracy [7]. Since Justices Scalia and Thomas met with the Koch Brothers who directly benefitted from the decision several times while the Supreme Court was dealing with the issue, they should have recused themselves. This is of course text book corruption.

Since the natural flow of wealth seems to be from poor to already wealthy and the natural evolution is to fewer and fewer larger and wealthier entities and individuals, we need a progressive income tax in order to redistribute wealth back to society. This is not a new idea but it is one that has been both successful and then successfully attacked by corporate elite, since the Reagan administration. We need to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision and institute real campaign finance reform. We can learn from more successful democracies. We also need to decide, as a nation, whether or not we are going to tolerate misery, as we do today, or work to eliminate it. Since most of us are perhaps a single transaction away from misery, this might be the preferred choice of a majority of well informed citizenry.

I don’t suggest that excess wealth be taxed and then simply given to the poor. What I suggest is that it be taxed and then invested in the needs of society such as building schools, financing single payer federal health care, building mass transportation systems and of course funding research and development.

In part 3 of this series, I will describe Herman Daly’s ecological economic model of the economy and how it can show us how to invest in society in a sustainable way.

[1] http://www.energybulletin.net/stories/2011-01-17/decent-poverty-report-poverty-and-misery

[2] Brian Hayes, Follow the Money, American Scientist, Volume 90, Number 5
Page: 400, DOI: 10.1511/2002.5.400September-October, 2002 http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/pub/follow-the-money/2

[3] Ghahramani, Fundamentals of Probability, second edition, Prentice-Hall, 2000.

[4] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/17/AR2011011702842.html

[5] http://www.levyinstitute.org/pubs/wp_589.pdf

[6] http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Louis_Brandeis

[7] http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2011/01/20-2

The Unloved

January 23, 2011 by Blue Ridge Leader Dear Editor, Opinion Be the first to comment

By Mark Gunderman

Last year 62 children were provided an unconditional love in the GSA shelters. A total of 118 people lived in our shelters receiving 8,216 bed-nights and 20,540 meals in 2010. However 937 folks were turned away due to a lack of bed space. Over 1,400 near homeless families were assisted through GSA Outreach and Resources and Referrals programs. … Continue Reading

Blue Ridge Leader News – January 23, 2011

January 23, 2011 by Blue Ridge Leader Tim Jon with BRLN Be the first to comment
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Crime- and Punishment

Up to two years in prison and $5,000 in fines; how’s that for making racist remarks at a local department store and then beating up another customer who objects to your comments? The accused attacker from the January 2 incident at the Dulles Town Center Sears has been charged with a couple of misdemeanors, and may walk away with what many may feel is light sentencing.

Adam Clark Branson of Ashburn turned himself in to authorities and faces one count of assault and battery and another for disorderly conduct.

Perhaps they could force him to watch a screening of To Kill a Mockingbird, or The Defiant Ones, or even to read a copy of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, or maybe some of the more stirring speeches by the late Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr.

But, poetic justice seldom reigns supreme in our country. … Continue Reading

Sushi’s Back

January 22, 2011 by Blue Ridge Leader Columns, Sushi's Corner Be the first to comment

Hello out there, it’s me Sushi.

Wondering where I have been lately? Well let me tell you… I had a lot of work to do to run off my turkey belly after Thanksgiving. Then I had to sleep off my Pot Roast belly after Christmas. Now that that work is done I am keeping watch from the warm hay loft in the barn. I love it up here perched on top of my hay bales, watching out over the world of my little farm. I wish you would all come out and join me. Not a cozier feeling in the whole world than sitting on top a hay bale with the loft doors open and the sun warming your face in the midst of a cold winter blast!

We are bringing in the New Year with a bang at Fields of Athenry Farm. Popper one of Bernie and Lainos’ favorite ewes had the farms first set of twin ewe lambs this past week. (That’s “girl lambs” for those of you not too sure) Now Popper is special – it seems it was just yesterday when we were all sitting on hay bales down in the lambing stall when Popper was born on New Year’s Eve, in 2006.

Yep, you guessed it Popper and her twin brother Uncle Cracker – were born that New Year’s night, as the ball dropped in New York City!

As I watch out over my farm, as any mighty Cairn Terrier would do – I remember with fond memories, think of my future and my born and bred duties.

With clear resolution I promise to myself this will be my best year yet.

I think about when young lambs and baby geese are born how weary and tired they can get from a hard birth or the cold. I vow to protect and defend my barn yard. I commit to being cheerful by flashing my brilliant white tooth grin. When the sly ones sneak up from the forbidden woods and want to snack on Mrs. B’s favorite poultry, I will howl from the hay loft in warning. I will leap with ferocity onto the farm drive and stand my ground. I will defend all the small chicks unaware of the dangers that await them from the sneaky fox.

I promise to write each and every week that I can, to bring you my friends new “Tails” from the Barn Yard.

Speaking of new “Tails,” as the Farm Crier I have an announcement to make –

There are going to be some major changes in Mrs. B’s life……and her name is Stinging Nettle Nelly……………

Until next week,

Love, Sushi

Public invited to submit local redistricting plans

January 20, 2011 by Blue Ridge Leader Government, Loudoun County, Notices Be the first to comment

The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors is soliciting redistricting proposals (the redrawing of local election district lines) from citizens and interested groups. Instructions for submitting proposals are available at www.loudoun.gov/redistricting. Proposals submitted by 5:00 on Friday January 28, 2011 will be posted on the County’s website and made available to the Board for consideration. While early submissions are encouraged due to the limited time available to complete the redistricting, the public may submit proposals or comment at any time prior to a decision by the Board on a redistricting plan. Tentatively, the Board will decide on a plan in April 2011.

Join Woodgrove for a Wolverine Shoot Out

January 18, 2011 by Blue Ridge Leader Sports Be the first to comment

First annual Woodgrove Wolverine Shoot-a-Thon will be held on Saturday, February 5, at 4:30 p.m. at Woodgrove High School. Coach Douglas will be holding a free clinic for all WLBL players who attend the Shoot-A-Thon. Also the WLBL players will have the opportunity to rebound for the Woodgrove players during the Shoot-A-Thon. The Shoot-A-Thon will be part of Woodgrove’s Youth Weekend where all WLBL players in their jerseys will get in free to the games on Friday, February 4 beginning at 6:00 p.m. against Tuscarora and on Saturday, February 5 against James Wood beginning at 1:00 p.m. The Shoot-A-Thon will follow. Also the WLBL travel teams are invited to scrimmage at half time of the games Friday night against Tuscarora. The sixth grade team will play during the halftime of the Freshman team, the seventh grade team will play during the halftime of the JV game, and the eighth grade team will play during the halftime of the Varsity game. Come on out and support the boys.

Yard Sale – Part 1

January 18, 2011 by Blue Ridge Leader Columns, Sustainable Planet Be the first to comment

“We make models in science but we also make them in everyday life. Model-dependent realism applies not only to scientific models but also to the conscious and subconscious mental models we all create in order to interpret and understand the everyday world.” Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, The Grand Design, 2010 [1].

by Tony Noerpel

In my last article [2], I discussed the difference between thinking dogmatically and thinking critically. In either case we construct models to help us understand reality. Using Paul O’Neill’s terminology, recall that an ideologue’s model is arbitrary and rigidly maintained without regard to facts. A philosopher’s model is based on facts and is continuously adjusted to accommodate new information. One might say that a philosopher (or physicist) is willing to accept the possibility that she might be wrong. The physicists Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow write in The Grand Design [1] that a good model:

  1. Is elegant
  2. Contains few arbitrary or adjustable elements
  3. Agrees with and explains all existing observations
  4. Makes detailed predictions about future observations that can disprove or falsify the model if they are not borne out.


We can ignore the first two points for now as these are subjective. The third point requires hard work, anathema to ideologues according to O’Neill, and the fourth point requires courage, as the models must be tested with the possibility that they may be incorrect or inadequate. Though economics is a soft science, a good economic model should have these properties also. A good economic model should explain observation and would have anticipated the recent housing bubble, the recession, the run up in gold and oil prices and the credit crises. The economist Gregory Mankiw in his popular text book, Principles of Economics [3] writes:

“In his 1776 book An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, economist Adam Smith made the most famous observation in all of economics: Households and firms interacting in markets act as if they are guided by an ‘invisible hand’ that leads them to desirable market outcomes. One of our goals in this book is to understand how this invisible hand works its magic.”

An astute observer might note that James Watts invented the steam engine in the same year, 1776, which allowed the British to exploit the low entropy of their coal and that British coal production peaked in the early 1900’s coincident with the decline of their empire. In other words, a robust economy may have more to do with thermodynamics than magic.

Mankiw’s free market, small government model works reasonably well, though not perfectly, when the resources it ignores are not limited and when pollution does not overwhelm the economic system, but eventually it fails utterly. Given that the U. S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) and the International Energy Agency (IEA) have both acknowledged that peak production of conventional crude oil has already occurred in 2005 and 2006 respectively, our economy is clearly resource constrained. Given the size of ocean dead zones, mountaintop removal mining, soil deterioration and global warming, our economy is further constrained by our pollution. Since our current and on-going economic crisis is thermodynamic in nature, a model which ignores entropy is not likely to do well. Recall that the physicist Arthur Eddington wrote that if your model contradicts the second law of thermodynamics there is no hope for it. We need better economic models. In this series of articles I propose three.

Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian engineer/economist who died in 1923, collected vast amounts of data on wealth and income distribution from many different countries and from several time periods, which included a variety of economic and government types. He found that wealth was always distributed inequitably, following a power law distribution sometimes called the 80-20 rule or the Pareto principle, i.e., 80 percent of the people owned 20 percent of the wealth and 20 percent of the people owned 80 percent of the wealth [4]. One might observe that the invisible hand inevitably makes the rich richer and the poor poorer.

Pareto developed the “yard sale” economic model, which was nicely described in an article in American Scientist by the mathematician Brian Hayes [5]. This is the first of our three simple models. This model holds wealth constant and the initial distribution of wealth is uniform across the population. If the participants engage in transactions which are of exactly fair value (market efficiency holds) then the economy is stable and robust and continues forever with the same equitable distribution of wealth. However, if we assume instead that transactions are of unequal value even if only by a very small amount relative to the total value of the transactions, eventually one person accrues all of the wealth and the economy dies. To justify the latter assumption note that everybody who purchased a home after 2003 paid too much. Cleary the market is not efficient and there is no invisible hand guiding the economy. And this result is independent of skill, hard work, avarice, or intelligence as well as the details of the way the economy operates. An unregulated free market leads to inequality at least until it becomes so unstable that the economy breaks.

Pareto observed that the wealthy accumulated power as well. This destroys democracy and feeds corruption further aggregating both wealth and power in a positive feedback loop.

According to Mankiw a free market economy will encourage entrepreneurial ambitions and economic growth. This can appear to work if at the same time society is discovering and exploiting new sources of energy. With the discovery of fossil fuels wealth was created faster than the wealthy could co-opt it from the majority. Thus prospects for the majority improved and a large middle class was created in many societies including the United States. This in itself was a positive feedback which encouraged yet more growth. In the end though, the momentum of the unregulated free market is to aggregate wealth in a highly skewed power law distribution. As resources are depleted, wealth aggregation overwhelms wealth creation. The middle class becomes poor and the poor fall out of the economy altogether. This is happening in the United States today. Mankiw’s model does not predict this. In fact Mankiw reprints a gushing article by the articulate and insouciant free-market cheerleader David Brooks from November 27, 2004, just before the economic collapse, titled “Good News about Poverty” [6], describing how remarkably well the world economy was doing.

Pareto’s yard sale model while elegantly simple has obvious deficiencies. It ignores avarice and greed, intelligence and hard work, ambition, and other personality characteristics which might favor some individual’s fate over others. But we can show that these differences exacerbate inherent inequitable wealth accumulation. The yard sale model also starts from an equitable initial condition. In reality some of us are born into poverty and others into wealth. How we start out in life is a substantial disadvantage or advantage. Mankiw writes: “A person’s earnings depend on the supply and demand for that person’s labor, which in turn depend on natural ability, human capital, compensating differentials, discrimination, and so on.” While all that is true, Mankiw ignores initial conditions and pure luck or happenstance in the eventual distribution of income. We can appreciate how these differences might exacerbate inequitable distribution by considering a second model, the Gambler’s Ruin problem from probability theory [7]. We will do this in part two.

Finally, neither Pareto nor Mankiw consider thermodynamic limits. When we discover how to exploit new sources of low entropy, more surplus wealth is created. On the other hand, all wealth is far from thermodynamic equilibrium so that cars rust and bananas rot. Our clothes become threadbare and our infrastructure deteriorates. Wealth is continually destroyed and needs replacing. Pollution and misallocation of resources extract wealth from the economy. The eventual cost of addressing global warming will far exceed, by several orders of magnitude, the relatively meager immediate gains (capital formation) made by the wealthy as a consequence of ignoring the problem. The nuclear arms race had cost the United States over five trillion dollars by 1998 [9]. All of our federal debt can be attributed to misallocating the nation’s capital and low entropy towards military spending and as a consequence our country is being bankrupted by the same forces that bankrupted the Soviet Union. All of these factors, including the incipient housing market collapse were evident by the time Brooks wrote his ill-considered column.

Consider that Mankiw published the fourth edition in 2007, after the housing bubble burst and well into the credit crises and several years after peak oil, yet his book does not contain any information about bubbles, resources, crashes or derivatives. One would think that it would not be so difficult to make predictions after they’ve already happened.

Thermodynamic impacts can be appreciated by considering our third model, Herman Daly’s ecosystem model of the economy. We will address this aspect in part three.

These three models (perhaps not elegant but simple) together can suggest in broad terms what we need to do in the United States in order to preserve our economy and society and ensure its sustainability. They are too crude to supply the detail. However, given the direction in which we are headed, and which most of us inherently understand is not good, comprehending those broad terms would be an enormous benefit.

The conclusion of Pareto’s yard sale model is that happenstance alone naturally exacerbates inequality. As we will see human frailty, such as greed, inevitably makes this condition worse.

[1] Hawking and Mlodinow, The Grand Design, Bantam Books, 2010.

[2] http://brleader.com/?p=2550

[3] Mankiw, Principles of Economics, Fourth Edition, South-Western Cengage Learning, 2007.

[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vilfredo_Pareto

[5] Brian Hayes, Follow the Money, American Scientist, Volume 90, Number 5
Page: 400, DOI: 10.1511/2002.5.400September-October, 2002 http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/pub/follow-the-money/2

[6] David Brooks, Good News about Poverty, The New York Times, November 27, 2004, reprinted page 435 in Mankiw, 2007.

[7] Ghahramani, Fundamentals of Probability, second edition, Prentice-Hall, 2000.

[8] Herman Daly, Beyond Growth, Beacon Press, 1996.

[9] Stephen I. Schwartz, Atomic Audit The Costs and Consequences of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Since 1940, Brookings Institution Press 1998.

Blue Ridge Leader News – January 16, 2011

January 17, 2011 by Blue Ridge Leader Tim Jon with BRLN Be the first to comment
tim jon

Exchanging Fire

A young man from Manassas has some explaining to do- that is, if he recovers from the gunshot wound sustained in a shoot-out that killed a Leesburg man. Thursday’s incident took the life of 29 year old William Henry Welch III, of Bride Crest Square. … Continue Reading

A Letter of Thanks

January 14, 2011 by Blue Ridge Leader Dear Editor, Opinion Be the first to comment

The final tally is now in and ten local nonprofits are the beneficiaries of the $15,000 raised through the Loudoun Alternative Gift Fair during the 2010 Holiday season. The Fair was coordinated by Loudoun Interfaith Bridges and Loudoun Cares with two goals in mind: provide our community with truly meaningful gift giving opportunities while raising much needed resources for local nonprofits.

Both of our goals were accomplished thanks to generous sponsors, corporations, individuals and faith communities. Three entities, Beth Chaverim Reform Congregation, Inova Loudoun Hospital and the Loudoun County CEO Cabinet stepped up at levels that insured the success of the Fair. Other key sponsors and supporters included: Blue Ridge Title and Escrow, Inc., Bob Miller of Southern Trust Mortgage, Burnett and Williams Personal Injury Attorneys, Dr. Gordon Culp, Optometrist, Mel Pine’s Allstate Insurance Agency, Sperry Van Ness/Vaaler Real Estate and local artist, Elaine Nunnally.

The beauty of the Loudoun Alternative Gift Fair is that it meets the needs of the growing number of gift givers looking for alternatives to the holiday shopping frenzy while supporting local nonprofits that strengthen our community through health care, literacy, homeless services, youth volunteerism, mental health advocacy and much much more.

Thanks again to all who made the 2010 Loudoun Alternative Gift Fair a community giving success. Look for us again in 2011. We expect to be back with new ideas and even more giving opportunities.

Sincerely,
Steve Wolfson, The Arc of Loudoun
Kristi Stilen-Lare, Blue Ridge Speech and Hearing Center
Laura Dove, Friends of Homeless Animals
Stephanie Foran, Friends of Loudoun Mental Health
Yvette Castro-Green, La Voz of Loudoun
Andy Johnston, Loudoun Cares
Debra Dever, Loudoun Community Health Center
Candace Kroehl, Loudoun Literacy Council
Tracey Parent, Loudoun Volunteer Caregivers
Helen Richardson, Volunteers of America – Chesapeake

Update: Crooked Run Condemnation Hearing Scheduled for Jan. 11

January 12, 2011 by Blue Ridge Leader News Be the first to comment

*UPDATE: At last night’s Purcellville Town Council Meeting January 11, 2011, a public hearing was held regarding Condemnation-Quick Take of the Crooked Run Orchard property. Over 50 Town and County residents attended, and more than 20 people spoke at the hearing. Only two speakers were in favor of the agenda item. In a 7-0 vote, the Purcellville Town Council voted to Condemn via quick take condemnation powers over seven acres of Crooked Run Orchard for the Southern Collector Road. (the parcel is 16 acres)

Town Council members kept repeating that this was the “original” alignment. It is not, it is an entirely new alignment. The road has been moved entirely onto the Brown property, locating the road less than 75 feet from their home and making the annexation of the O’Toole property unnecessary. In preparation to seek State and Federal funding the Town has submitted documents for 4 lanes and 40 mph. The original alignment only required 3.08 acres, the new alignment will take almost half the 16 acres and destroy the main barn and farm road to the back 40 acres.

… Continue Reading

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Sustainable Planet

Pungent Curry

9 Apr 2014

noerpel

The latest version of the IPCC report is published and once again it will go unread by the great masses of climate science deniers and unreported by the media. So it might be useful to revisit the fundamental physical realities …

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Ask Dr. Mike

Understanding Teen Suicide

1 Apr 2014

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By Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D. Northern Virginia has recently experienced several teen suicides. Last month, two Langley High School students took their own lives just a day apart from one another, and this month it appears two students at Woodson High …

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Virginia Gardening

Spring Is Coming

4 Mar 2014

springiscoming

By Donna Williamson March is an in-between month – some cold and the return of glorious warmth now and then. One way to bring some delight inside is forcing spring-blooming branches. You can cut branches of forsythia, cherry, crabapple, kerria, …

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Sushi's Corner

An Easter Swim

1 Apr 2014

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 11.10.56 AM

I felt like a silly nim “cow” poop with these Easter bows in our hair. Okay Nelly, maybe you didn’t because you’re a girl. But me, a Mighty Cairn Terrier male? – PLEASE! Pleasing Mrs. B for Easter pictures was …

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Amy V. Smith's Money Talks

What Baseball Can Teach You About Financial Planning

1 Apr 2014

Amy Smith-BRL

Spring training is a tradition that baseball teams and baseball fans look forward to every year. No matter how they did last year, teams in spring training are full of hope that a new season will bring a fresh start. …

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Go Take a Hike

Blandy Experimental Farm

6 Jun 2012

Molly

By Molly Pinson Simoneau It’s no secret that I love a challenging hike. I’ve written here about hiking sections of the Appalachian Trail and Shenandoah National Park. I’ve taken vacations with my family to Colorado where I’ve attempted to conquer a “fourteener” (a summit that is higher than 14,000 feet), …

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Real Estate Ticker

A Buying Opportunity?

6 Nov 2013

Carl Fischer headshot

By Carl Fischer As a direct result of the uncertainty that has arisen from national and regional politics, with its unsettling effect on the Northern Virginia area, for the past two months there has been a market slowdown which has …

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From the Farm

From the Farm

5 Jul 2012

From the Farm

When the heat index reaches 110 degrees, as it has been doing recently, I try to keep in the shade, or stay indoors. But my lavender, about halfway from full bloom, seems to thrive in it. Hot and dry, I …

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Events

April 2014
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: Art Gallery Reception for Featured Artists -- Abstract painter Evelyn Lopez de Guzman and contemporary painter Sandra Iafrate

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April 12, 2014N/A

Meet Evelyn and Sandra and other gallery artists during a free, open to the public reception for this month's Featured Artists' exhibit "Living Color,” showcasing two accomplished painters Evelyn Lopez de Guzman and Sandra Iafrate, in a vivid and dynamic presentation of color, shape and our surroundings.

Evelyn Lopez de Guzman’s vibrant paintings awaken the viewer to connect with nature and the modern world through an interplay of shape, color, and textural materials.

Sandra Iafrate’s combination of realistic and surrealist interpretation of flowers, foliage and landscapes on spacious canvases convey a sense of movement and playfulness.

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Easter at "The Park"

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April 19, 2014

Celebrate Easter at historic Morven Park with crafts for kids, an egg hunt in the formal gardens plus a traditional egg roll on the Davis Mansion lawn. Have a family photo taken with the Easter Bunny. Children should bring a basket for the hunt and a large spoon for the egg roll. $10/participating child (ages 2-12), $3/adult. Register at www.MorvenPark.org.

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VAL's Pals Kids Club

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April 30, 2014

Join Inova Loudoun Hospital as the present their Beamer the Dog Program.

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SCOUTING FOR BRICKS

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May 4, 2014

Scouting for Bricks is an exhibit showing the Love for everything LEGO® . Come see amazing LEGO® creations by Fans of LEGO®, LEGO® trains, Mindstorms robots. We will also have live Star Wars Stormtroopers and an interactive play area with over 100,000 LEGO bricks. Scouting for Bricks is fun for the Whole Family! Visit us at www.ScoutingForBricks.com.

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View From the Ridge

Rural Loudoun Is Different, and We Say Dark Skies Do Matter

4 Mar 2014

viewfromridge

In February of this year a sell out crowd gathered at the county public seat in Leesburg to provide feedback to the Loudoun County Planning Commission on the idea of adding additional sports lights to the upper athletic fields at Franklin Park. Franklin Park includes a really wonderful performing arts …

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Editorial

Steady and Nobull

4 Mar 2014

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Park and Ride Lots for Western Loudoun

4 Mar 2014

Jim_Burton_cropped

In 2003, the county purchased 22 commuter buses to serve a growing demand for bus service to Washington D.C. The demand has grown exponentially ever since. The county now owns or leases 65 large commuter buses (with plush seats and on board restrooms) and more are being added every year. The buses are often filled to standing room only as …

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Lifestyle

Sadie’s Race 5K and Fun Run Scheduled for Sunday May 18

9 Apr 2014

sadiestart

Sadie Smile Foundation is putting on the third annual Sadie’s Race/Walk and Kids Fun Run to Benefit Smile Train in Purcellville Sunday, May 18th this year. The race starts at 8:00 a.m. at the train station at 200 N 21st Street in Purcellville. Sign up at Active.com. When Sara Ablard lost her five year-old daughter, Sadie, two years ago, she …

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Dr. Joseph Rogers Dies at Family Farm

1 Apr 2014

Dr. Joseph Megeath Rogers, 90, died on Saturday March 8, 2014 at his Hillbrook Farm near Hamilton following a stroke. Physician, farmer, businessman, rural land conservationist, philanthropist and expert horseman, Dr. Rogers was a tireless advocate and practitioner of country living whose contributions in a broad range of interests were made quietly and with little fanfare. His public persona was …

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Zoldos Presented Citizen of the Year Award

1 Apr 2014

Mayor_Zoldos_Citizen_of_Year_Award

At the biweekly March meeting of the Lovettsville Town Council, Mayor Bobby Zoldos was presented the 2013 Citizen of the Year from the Lovettsville Waterford Ruritans. Presenting the award was Rick Adams, current president along with Board Member Peter Mullally and  Vice President Jeff Boogaard. Adams said, “On behalf of the Lovettsville Waterford Ruritans, we would like to present the …

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Around Virginia

Wolf Won’t Seek Re-election

Frank_wolf

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10th) today announced that he would not seek election to an 18th term in 2014. He released the following statement announcing his decision: “I have decided not to seek re-election to the U.S. Congress in 2014. It has been an honor to serve the people of northern …

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Virginia Can and Should Work Harder to Combat Hunger

Frank_wolf

By Congressman Frank Wolf Last year, the USDA reported a record number of Americans are struggling to put food on their tables. Across the nation, 49 million people – including 17 million children and six million seniors – are going hungry, a number that has grown substantially over the last …

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Kaine Statement on Navy Yard Shooting

Kaine

U.S. Senator Tim Kaine released the following statement on today’s shooting at the Washington Navy Yard: “My thoughts and prayers are with everyone impacted by today’s tragic shooting at the Washington Navy Yard. As we learn more about the horrific events that unfolded this morning, my deepest sympathies go out …

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Sports

Nominate Your Hometown Hero

9 Apr 2014

ulll

Upper Loudoun Little League’s Hometown Heroes scholarship closes on April 21, 2014. The application is available online at ULLL.org. The scholarship is open to all graduating seniors who played baseball for ULLL at some point in their growing up years.

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Lady Vikings Give Back

10 Feb 2014

The Loudoun Valley Girls basketball team held an event on Friday, February 7 at LVHS. The Lady Vikings celebrated “Pink Night” by honoring those who are battling breast cancer or have been affected by breast cancer. The event was held in conjunction with an event held at Woodgrove earlier this …

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Letters

Medicaid Expansion Battle Heating Up

4 Mar 2014

blueridge2

Did you know that there’s a very real possibility that a DC-style budget battle and government shutdown could come to Virginia? The Medicaid expansion battle …

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Endorsing for Profit Businesses?

4 Mar 2014

town of purcellville sign

I recently received an automated email message from the Town of Purcellville soliciting nominations for volunteer award recipients in cooperation with the Purcellville Business Association …

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Another Vote To Overrule Purcellville’s Board of Architectural Review

4 Mar 2014

town of purcellville sign

The Purcellville Town Council, foolishly, in the view of many and perhaps most, has overruled its Board of Architectural Review and approved Mark Nelis’s and …

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