Are we really the Saudi Arabia of coal?

I keep hearing the U.S. described as the “Saudi Arabia of coal.” This turns out to be half true. According to BP, China produced three billion tons of coal in 2009, or 46% of the world’s share. In second place was the U.S., with .97 billion tons, 16% of the world’s share. But in proven …

Eastern Shore ticked off the Commonwealth Quest list.

With a trip over the past four days completed, I’m inching closer to completing the Commonwealth Quest, Craig Fifer’s challenge to visit every municipality in Virginia. Wanting to get the Eastern Shore under my belt, I spent the weekend there with my wife (with a detour for a picnic lunch in Charles City County—check). The …

On trying to buy American-made jeans: A success story.

At some point, “Made in America” passed from the realm of Sam Walton and into the realm of yuppies. As a young kid in the eighties, I remember seeing TV ads that promoted American-made goods. Like this one: These ads confused me. I recall asking my parents to explain it. The talk of economics was …

Muzzle Awards announced.

The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression has announced their annual Muzzle Awards, highlighting the very worst offenders of the right to free speech, and Virginia managed to get two of the eight “awards.” The Virginia Department of Corrections was rightly upbraided for barring a prisoner from buying a buying a legal …

Everything that’s wrong with publishing.

In a talk at the Virginia Festival of the Book today, the director of UVA’s Rare Book School neatly summed up what’s wrong with the publishing industry today: “The physical part of the reading experience — the paper, the cover, the reviews, the suntan lotion that spills on the pages — are all part of …

The Virginian Pilot’s verified commenting system.

Three months ago, the Virginian Pilot started an interesting experiment. In the face of the same crappy reader comments that virtually every media outlet gets on their site, they decided to do something different. They started requiring proof of identity in order to comment on the editorial section of the site—verified in the form of …

Can you identify these Virginia locations?

Because I’m a big dork, when I encounter Virginia place names that I’m not familiar with, I like to look them up on Google Maps and see how many times I have to zoom out until I recognize what part of the state that the place is. Sometimes there’s a highway or a river that …

Orange County has sued a couple who xeriscaped their lawn.

The L.A. Times reports on Orange County’s lawsuit against a couple who replaced their lawn with xeriscaping, dropping their household water usage by 80% by simply switching from grass to native ground cover. Under county law, at least 40% of a yard has to be covered in live plants. Never mind that the southwest is …

Ditch your voicemail. Get an answering machine.

Apropos of nothing, here’s a money-saving tip: Get rid of your voicemail. A few years ago I cancelled our call waiting and voicemail, and disabled call waiting on my mobile. Call waiting is really rude. When you answer call waiting, what you’re saying is this: I have no idea who is calling me, but I …