Friday, February 28, 2003- - -
The InstaPundit says he's pro-sodomy. But he doesn't quite admit to reading Redbook.
Oh Come On!
Now all of a sudden, not only are my permalinks hosed, the archives are gone again. Hopefully, this means that someone at Blogger is fiddling with this at their end.
Wickman Spacecraft & Propulsion is about ready to put one in orbit from right here in little ol' Wyoming. Quite a hobby he's got there. Unfortunately, although they're not designed to explode, sometimes they do it anyway.
Gutted like a fish!
The poor Wyoming Business Council didn't get all the money they wanted, so they won't be giving away quite as much of the state's funds to the welfare capitalists as they might have wished.
I just love their one-size-fits-all approach. If business parks work in Cheyenne and Laramie where land is hard to find and the existing facilities are full, then surely the same approach would work out here where there's plenty of land, and commercial retail and industrial facilities sitting empty, right?
Actually, we need to get the word out that, despite the impression our state and local governments might give you, we're not all a bunch of nose-picking morons. There's a lot of good, hard-working folks out here who would love to welcome any new entrepreneurs who would like to take advantage of the low taxes, skilled labor, low cost of living, low crime, clean air, and wide open spaces we have to offer. Hint, hint.
Ps. I really envy State Rep. Randall Luthi. I'd love to stand up on the floor of the House and say "I represent Freedom!" Cool. That's Freedom, Wyoming, where they make these cute little things: the original .454 Casull. Did I mention that we have a highly skilled work force?
Ps. Check out the rest of the Freedom Arms web site while I wipe the drool off my keyboard.
Oh Good Grief!
According to the Pravda on the Platte [article not yet on-line] 37 illegal immigrants have been arrested at F.E. Warren Air Force Base. You know - where they store all the nuclear weapons? They were employees of an Army Corps of Engineers subcontractor. It says that they don't appear to have any connection to terrorists, but still.
I imagine that this was some bozo trying to hold down his costs by employing a bunch of illegals, but how dumb can you be? Parade a bunch of illegal workers through the security to get on the air base every day? Don't you suppose they notice a bunch of guys who can't speak English? And I would certainly hope that the folks who guard the nukes can recognize a fake ID when they see one.
If stupidity were a capital offense I'd be expecting this idiot to get the chair.
Ps. Ah! Here's a link to the story in the 'Billings Guess-at-it' (thanks, mt!). It looks like the count is down to 30 illegals. Or maybe they're just guessing?
From the email I'm getting and comments on other blogs, I can see that I'm not the only one who enjoys a good knife. Some, like The Fat Guy, have emailed and blogged.
In response to Scott's question, I use a Lansky system to sharpen knives, although there are other similar units that might work better, I've just not tried them.
They're available at most sporting goods stores. The only trick is to make sure you get them assembled with the guide wires all in exactly the same plain in relation to the stone, so you're not trying to grind a slightly different edge angle with each stone. I lay them stone-side down on a table and adjust the wires until they all make full-length contact with the table top. Set up properly they will put a razor edge on a knife and they avoid cutting too acute of a bevel on the blade, so the edge is durable as well as sharp. They're also really fast to use and totally mindless, which is good if you have as little mind to spare as I do.
James Rummel has also sent along a slew of links to knives and knife sheaths that I've been looking at. I hope to have something more on those soon. Because I'm left-handed I long ago gave up on finding anything other than a custom hand-made sheath or holster that suits me, and those are awfully expensive. But my dad did leather tooling and made all sorts of stuff of leather, and repaired all the harness and tack around the old homestead, so I've been piddling with leather since I was a pup. Nowadays I pretty much just make what I want, although I'm not bashful about copying a nice design. So I appreciate the links to other folks work, they give me inspiration.
Kim du Toit was the first to show us his knives and start this whole thread rolling.
So many blogs, so little time
I'm one of the folks that Laurence Simon laments, who have a tendency to just go back to the same four blogs day after day. This is very unfortunate, as there are a zillion blogs out there I haven't visited once, and a bunch of very good ones (listed over there <--) that I don't visit nearly often enough. I keep resolving to broaden my reading, but blog reading could become a full-time job all by itself, and I've already got a full-time job.
But hey. Blog reading as a work avoidance routine works for me. I'm self-employed so I don't feel bad about shorting my employer. You know: Work when I feel like it, pay myself as much as I want. Ha! I wish I had a dollar for every time someone had told me how lucky I am that way. Maybe I could pay myself as much as I want. But then I don't have really great wants.
Day by Day
The Fat Guy has the best Day by Day comic yet, up at his site.
He also admits that Texans are chock full of.. self esteem. I'll remember that one.
For the first time ever, this morning I logged on to Blogger and it recognized me. Perhaps the good folks from Google are making some needed repairs and improvements. Now if they would just fix the darn archives glitches, or put out some info on what we need to do to fix them ourselves, if it's something we can do.
Oh oh. In today's Northern Wyo Daily News police report, which isn't on-line unfortunately, a suburban resident has reported their goat stolen and then reported finding 'the remains' of the goat. Sounds like a big kitty to me.
Ten years ago today the standoff at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco began. Don't ever say "It can't happen here."
Thursday, February 27, 2003- - -
Motorcycles: Ride Naked!
Guys, there wouldn't be anything left of my hide if I'd done that.
Mr. bin Laden and Mr. Zawahiri?
Only in the New York Times. Guys, Mr. bin Laden and Mr. Zawahiri are terrorist tartare, and none too fresh by this time. And even if they weren't, they're certainly not still hanging around in eastern Afghanistan where you report that the 'fruitless search' still continues. You really shouldn't believe everything that these unnamed "Pakistani officials" tell you.
Looking inside the brains of the stingy
Virginia Postrel didn't even interview me, and if you look in the dictionary under 'stingy' you'll find my picture.
While I was searching for pictures and articles on Ed McGivern to show you (see below), I came on this nice article on the 2002 Shot Show that has a lot of interesting info and cool pix. Scroll down to Smith & Wesson for a couple of pictures of their retro Heritage Series McGivern Model. It appears to have a Patridge front sight with gold bead, but if you look close it's the new short stroke action, rather than the older and smoother long stroke action that McGivern used. And check out the author's comment on the McGivern Model: "Shame we can't own them in GB, but c'est la vie." Bwahahaha! I wonder if that was intentional?
Improving on the McGivern Speed Bead
While I was installing the new ivory grips on my 1911 (see below), it occurred to me to tell you about the sights I've installed on the loudenboomer. I'm sure you've seen 'three dot' sights, both factory and after-market, and now the three dot sights with tritium, glow-in-the-dark inserts. I find these things slightly offensive. After all, the current doctrine is to focus exclusively on the front sight - 'front sight and squeeze, front sight and squeeeeze' - and then it starts getting dark and you're supposed to line up three little dots? Give me a break. Lining up those three little dots is slow as hell and that's if you can figure out which one is supposed to be in the middle.
However, there's a little known alternative that isn't slow. No, it's not slow at all. In fact, it mimics - in daylight and in dark - the sights that Ed McGivern used to set shooting records back in the '30s that still haven't been broken. Like five shots on a playing card in 2/5 of a second! Yes, that sounds like a tall tale, but plenty of people saw him do it. Repeatedly. McGivern himself said it was really quite easy - all you had to do was fire a few hundred thousand rounds in practice.
McGivern used factory stock Smith & Wesson and Colt revolvers. He used revolvers because no autoloader can cycle that fast, just as the fastest cycling guns today are the multi-barreled electric-driven Gatlings such as the Vulcan. The only modification he regularly used was a small gold bead set into the rear face of the Patridge front sight. This gold bead sight is still referred to among the cognoscenti as a McGivern Speed Bead.
I mimic the McGivern Speed Bead by installing a tritium front sight and matching but plain black rear. In daylight this creates a white dot front that gives a sight picture very much like the McGivern. In the near dark - and I stress 'near dark', you must, YOU MUST still identify the target - it gives a single bright green bead that's more than adequately accurate at any range that the target can be identified. It is also deadly fast and confusion-proof. And yes, one tritium vial is a lot cheaper that three.
I was feeling a little low the other day and decided to buy myself something extravagant and a little bit wicked. So I called Dave Boone out at Boone Trading Company, and ordered a pair of his bonded ivory grips, the double diamond checkered with Colt medallions (#C4-CM), for my 1911. Actually, they cost all of $45, which is ridiculously cheap for anything that even looks like ivory. Well, they just came and I can't tell them from the real thing by look or feel. They are gorgeous! And they go a long way toward alleviating the black on black 'assault weapon' look that some find so scary.
Hmm.. I bet a pair of these would look really nice on the Python. I should get depressed more often.
Ps. Oh yeah, I also ordered an ivory bead necklace for the spousal unit and it's very nice. They have all sorts of cool stuff that has nothing to do with guns.
Jonah Goldberg has a piece on McCarthyism that is really quite a stretch. Says he: "Senator Joe McCarthy was a lout, generally speaking. But he was on the right side of history and, in a broad sense, of morality as well."
Yes, there were [and are] communists in our country and in our government, I don't think very many people disputed that then, and even fewer would now. But that filthy little opportunist Joe McCarthy accused quite a few people of being communists who were not. And he knew they were not when he tarred them with that brush. That is why he was accused of having no shame. He was often not right, and he was certainly not on the right side of morality. At least not my morality, I suppose I shouldn't speak for Goldberg's.
Jonah Goldberg proves once again that the left has no lock on lunacy. Do you really think, as Goldberg apparently does, that if McCarthy had tarred the innocent as Nazis instead of as communists that there would now be universities and foundations named after him? Somehow I think not. It's not a question of which is worse, Communism or Nazism - they were and are both unarguably awful - it's about knowingly and shamelessly making false accusations for political profit, as Goldberg concedes that McCarthy did. That's what I think of when I hear "McCarthyism".
Incidentally, the grilling of actors and writers in Hollywood and on Broadway - all that Fifth pleading that Goldberg points to - was conducted largely by the House Committee on Un-American Activities before McCarthy appeared on the scene (see Edwin R. Bayley's Joe McCarthy and the Press, page 214). McCarthy was not on a witch hunt, he was simply a cynical political opportunist quite capable of jumping on a rolling bandwagon and using the red scare to further his political ambitions and attack anyone who crossed him. No, McCarthy and his cronies did not victimize 'only innocent people', nor is the USA Patriot Act being used solely against the innocent - some of them were and are guilty as hell. But let's investigate them and try them and convict them before we hang them, shall we? McCarthyism is indeed an ugly accusation not to be used lightly, just like 'Communist', 'Nazi', or 'Terrorist'. Still, 'McCarthyism' is not a word, or a movement I would care to rehabilitate. Goldberg is on his own there.
Oh, yeah. I'm among those that believe that a live John Ashcroft is a bigger threat to our liberties than a dead OBL. And I'm no sucker for a hunger strike.
Ps. Oops! I found the Goldberg article at the InstaPundit's.
It's ol' Rubber Face!
Years ago there was a guy who traveled around doing an old-fashioned vaudeville-style show, and billing himself as The Rubber-faced Man. I saw him as the lead act for The Irish Rovers, playing in the theater in Dawson City, Yukon Territory, back in.. 1967(! Yikes!). The guy had the most amazingly exaggerated and readable facial expressions I've ever seen - until now.
My wife had the TV on with the sound off waiting for some program to come on, and I wandered by at the top of the hour as one of the generic blondes was doing the news break. With no sound to give any clue to what she was talking about, it was hilarious to watch her go from 'concerned' to 'happy' to 'horrified' to 'amused' in 15-second increments. It was also pretty obvious that she'd spent long hours in front of the mirror practicing each of those very exaggerated expressions. And it was particularly funny to see the 'confused' look on her face when she couldn't decide which emotion to express. That last was, I think, genuine.
Nato: Caught between Chirac and a hard place?
Ashcroft: Bloodlust of Biblical Proportions
The death penalty for bad spelling? In this case it might have been justified.
Anti-war letters 'angry and anguished'?
Well, I suppose that's a polite way of putting it. 'Rude and hate-filled' would probably be more accurate though.
Jeez! They even finger the culprits: "While many of the same Democrats who oppose force now opposed it then also, we believe war was the correct option.."
Interesting how cleanly this seems to break on party lines, isn't it? Is national security really the sole purview of Republicans? I’m not sure the dichotomy is quite that stark, but it's darn close. The WaPo takes a delightful whack at Clinton's track record on terrorism, too. Yes indeed, the dems do appear worthless and weak, and more than willing to play politics with national security. But I'm surprised that the WaPo would say so quite so bluntly. And they think the letters they're getting are 'angry and anguished' now..
Stop it! You're creeping me out!
I find this "Directorate" business even creepier than "Homeland." Now all they need is a Committee for State Security. [That's what 'KGB' translates from the Russian]
With fiends like these who needs enemas?
Lieberman criticized the administration for waiting this long to begin to talk publicly about its plans for administering Iraq after a conflict.
Now wouldn't it have looked a little odd to spend so much time dicking with the UN on one hand, while discussing our plans for administering Iraq on the other? That would make the administration look almost as transparently duplicitous as Lieberman does in this little screed. 'Eat cake. Have cake.' Sorry Joe, it really doesn't work that way.
A democratic vision for Iraq
Considering how many members of the UN and how many Middle Eastern states are not democracies, I can't imagine that a 'neo-Wilsonian view of the imperative to spread liberty and democracy in the world' really comes as universally good news. But it certainly lays the cards on the table. And it echoes the sentiments that have been going around in the blogosphere since day one.
Now if the Prez would only do something about ol' Ashcroft and his nest of snakes..
Strange bedfellows, indeed. Dudley Brown of the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners finds it too weird that they're on the same team with the ACLU when it comes to John Ashcroft. As gun ownership is a civil liberty, I've always found the ACLU attitude toward guns more than a little weird.
Griese shown door. And don't let it hit you..
Ps. Now there's a question-begging poll. The Denver Post asks: What do you think Brian Griese should do? The response so far is running 'Try to stay on with the Broncos' 14%, 'Pursue another team' 60%, 'Retire' 25%, and 'Not sure' 2%. I was a little surprised that so many fans think he should 'pursue another team', until I realized that would be the best thing he could do for the Broncos.
Disco is dead. So bury it already, it's also starting to smell.
Today is the feast day of Saint Gabriel Possenti. And what a better way to celebrate than to buy a handgun!
Kuwaiti Liberation Day
And they're celebrating! It will be interesting to see how this plays in the various media. Not that I'm in favor of litmus tests, but this is a pretty good one.
And of course, you did know that litmus paper turns red or blue.
Well, there goes the neighborhood
Mister Rogers has died.
Beating the winter blahs
And who ought to know better than our Canadian friends?
I have got to say that this is the first time I've ever seen anyone write "chocolate is really good for you"!
You'd better smile when you call us that
OTTAWA -- Grit MP Carolyn Parrish is at the centre of a storm of controversy after she was caught on camera yesterday slurring Americans.
[With apologies to Owen Wister]
Calling up the Highway Patrol?
It looks like my friend Scott will be doing double duty. I would think that State Troopers and prison guards would be considered essential personnel, or some such, but I suppose the powers that be knew these folks were in the Guard and Reserve.
Is that a wolf at the door?
A couple of articles on the great wolf controversy in Wyoming.
The [wolf management] bill calls for maintaining seven wolf packs outside of Yellowstone recovery areas and designated wilderness areas, and eight packs within Yellowstone and nearby wilderness areas. The state would not assume management of the wolf under the plan until the animal is delisted.
Seven packs outside of Yellowstone and the surrounding wilderness? Oh fun. Keep an eye on the kids and the pets. A fresh supply of #4 buck wouldn't be a bad idea either.
Don't let the sun set on the WBC!
It's always nice to wake up to good news. The Wyoming Senate has upheld Gov Fred's first veto. This doesn't mean that the WBC [the link is currently hosed, but it's titled "Silly Statist Tricks" in my archives for 2/18/02] will be going away, only that they will require reauthorization every five years. Thus, the poor boys won't be able to sit back and put their feet up like most of the rest of our state government. And they most likely won't be giving themselves any more big bonuses out of state funds.
Pushing back the hoplophobes
Interesting short piece in Cato today by Gene Healy, one of the attorneys litigating the DC gun rights case. DC is indeed a scary place to wander around nekkid.
Wednesday, February 26, 2003- - -
The best thing you've ever done for me
is to help me take my life less seriously, it's only life after all.
-- Indigo Girls
And to think they wrote this before blogging was invented.
THE FOUR STAGES OF LIFE :
1) You believe in Santa Claus.
2) You don't believe in Santa Claus.
3) You are Santa Claus.
4) You look like Santa Claus.
Umm.. Thanks Dad.
[Did I mention that I look like Santa Claus? But a very young and svelte Santa I assure you!]
Even the left-leaning Denver Post isn't amused by the Denver City Council resolution opposing war against Iraq.
Ps. I love their gratuitous swipe at Bouldor.
There's something to be said for mineral royalties. Try as they might our state government can't squander the money as fast as it rolls in. But they sure try.
Notice that the tourists have us outnumbered 5-to-1. Come summer you can drive for miles without seeing a Wyoming license plate on all the vehicles streaming by.
"Welcome to Wyoming! Have a great time! Spend lots of money! Then go home." Sigh.
Grind 'em Fine!
This little scandal has been going on since way before Enron's fall. They lost their local telephone exchanges here in the Bighorn Basin because they'd been siphoning all the money we paid for facilities maintenance and upgrades - a regular monthly charge on everyone's phone bill - and hadn't put a penny into an upgrade of any kind anywhere around here since shortly after WWII. I hope this is just the start and they roll the whole miserable batch of them up.
Put pressure on them? How about we prosecute the filthy little rapists and the people who've been harboring them? Plenty of room in Leavenworth for their sort.
The Bog People Are Coming!
I'll have to see if I can find a schedule for the tour.
Shop Wyoming First!
This is a phenomenon that repeats itself with monotonous regularity here in Wyoming. Despite the lip service paid to economic development and nurturing our resources, we'll spend our money out of state at every opportunity.
I sometimes wonder if we don't have an innate sense of inferiority - the idea in the back of our heads that anyone from the big city must be superior to us helpless hicks.
Incidentally, Chris Navarro is an outstanding sculptor, but these jackasses wouldn't even give him the opportunity to present a proposal.
Oh Good! Somebody else to sniff our butts in the name of 'Homeland Security'. And why am I not surprised that the legislature is using this as another excuse to play partisan politics? We sure wouldn't want the governor to get too much power now that he's a democrat.
My archives were functional for at least a couple of days and now they're hosed again. And I haven't changed anything in my templates since I got them working. I've tried republishing the archives, which used to work sometimes when these problems occurred, but no such luck. I'm going to operate under the assumption that this is some temporary glitch and will heal itself with patience.
Under the circumstances the blog*spot "This is your brain on the web" 404 is a doubly annoying double entendre, it's not my brain they're frying, or should I say chapping.. I pray that Google will put someone on this whose brain doesn't reside in a jar somewhere.
Ps. Ho Ho Ho! Have you noticed that BlogSpot's own 'visit the homepage for this site' link on their 404 page is broken? What a bunch of maroons.
Crony Capitalist Comeback
Cheyenne - The Wyoming House of Representatives has voted to override Gov Fred's veto and eliminate the sunset clause of the Wyoming Business Council.
Some of the rhetoric coming from the opponents of the veto is disingenuous to say the least:
Rep. Pete Illoway, R-Cheyenne, said before the vote that the veto has created uncertainty for the Business Council. "Economic development is not a short-term commitment. It's a long-term commitment," he said.
Well Rep. Illoway, the WBC must have been pretty uncertain from the start then, as they were created with a sunset clause. In fact, as the Gov pointed out when he vetoed this little bit of cronyism, the whole point of the sunset was to keep the WBC accountable - 'perform or die' isn't a bad position to put any government agency in. Especially one with the power to pass out millions of dollars in grants. And of course, I've wondered from the start whose economy they're developing.
The issue will now go to the State Senate.
Tuesday, February 25, 2003- - -
Kim du Toit says A man can never have "enough" knives and shows a couple he picked up on his recent trip. Now this is an observation with which I can thoroughly agree and I'm always on the lookout for a new knife.
With all the weirdness of this war on terror, I'd decided that one thing I didn't have was a really good fighting knife. I was a saber fencer in college and, had I my druthers, I'd go straight to something really big, but not being Duncan McCloud I've never figured out how to pack such an implement around inconspicuously. A good saber is also a very expensive proposition. And really, unless you run afoul of someone with a sword, a good big knife will do the job, if you know how to use it.
I've used Cold Steel knives quite a bit, and I'm very impressed with the qualities of the Carbon V steel in their Master Hunter, so I decided to give one of their fighting knives a try. Of course, the whole operation is hampered somewhat by the distance to any retail store where I might handle their knives, so mail order was the way to go. Incidentally, being good little capitalists, these guys sell whatever people want to buy and handle some pretty strange and Walter Mittyesque stuff. Don't let that put you off, as their serious knives are very high quality at very good prices.
I like the looks of their Recon Tanto and the price is right, so I ordered one up about a year ago. It is indeed a dandy, heavy duty knife and I suppose it lends itself to some styles of fighting, but I quickly found that I didn't like the upswept blade, which puts the point much above the centerline of the grip and makes for a less than accurate thrust with the saber grip that I favor. With the point not being in line with the grip I also felt that I was not getting as much force behind the thrust as I could. This is all very personal preference of course, it just didn't fit my style.
Then a few weeks ago I was surfing the net and wandered back to the Cold Steel web site, where I discovered that they've cut the prices of their Trail Master Bowie knives to the lowest I've ever seen them. Although at $145 they're still not cheap by any means. They've achieved this cost reduction by doing away with the high polish on the blade and substituting a black epoxy finish, which I think is really a better choice for a fighting knife anyway.
So I gritted my teeth, swallowed hard at the price, and ordered one up. Boys, I'm here to tell you that this is one hell of a knife. With a blade 9 1/2" long and overall length of 14 1/2" it has excellent reach. The blade is 5/16" (0.30") inch thick, making it virtually unbreakable and giving it great weight for slicing and dicing (the web site says 16.7 oz, but mine weighs an even 18 oz). As usual with Cold Steel, the blade is shaving sharp out of the box. The clip point puts the point exactly in line with the center of the grip, and I find that I can thrust it very accurately.
My greatest fear was that the massive blade and lack of a pommel would put the balance of the blade too far toward the point, but it balances exactly one inch in front of the cross guard, a tiny bit blade heavy for my taste, but not so much that it adversely affects the quickness of the point. I am very well pleased. The only thing I might have wished different would be for the grip to be another inch or so longer and for the balance to be dead on the cross guard. It would also be nice if the grip were not completely symmetrical, so that one could tell by feel whether the edge was up or down. Someday when I'm feeling really rich I might just order another of these, replace the grip and adjust the balance, but this one is pretty darn close to ideal just as it is.
Tactically, a 1911 remains my primary weapon, at least when the shotgun isn't handy, but I like the idea of a big knife in my off hand any time it gets dark or the quarters get close. Someone might try to grapple for the gun if they can get close enough to surprise me, but they're not going to be very successful in that venture if I have a knife in my other hand. With the gun held close in a retention grip and the big black knife held out, the goblin might even impale himself before I know he's there.
Anyone who lives in those oh so civilized blue areas and isn't allowed to own a gun could do a lot worse than to keep one of these puppies handy.
And now you're all convinced that I'm a complete lunatic. You may be right! But at least I'm a well-prepared lunatic.
Kim du Toit points to a post by his wife Connie, in which she absolutely savages the anti-warriors, containers and appeasers, and all the rest of the bliss ninnies who don't think war in Iraq is necessary. Not to be missed!
The reelection equation
Bigwig lays it out: "At this point, the only chance George Bush has of being elected to a second term is to defeat Saddam. Backing down now would shatter his base of support within his own party, and ensure another primary challenge, probably from John McCain at the very least. His path to re-election lies through Baghdad."
On one hand, it's a bit appalling to think that President Bush's prospects for reelection might figure into his decision of whether to go to war. On the other hand, I'm not so naïve, nor so enamored of Bush that I think this has never crossed his mind. And I think Bigwig is perfectly correct: If Saddam is still in power come November of 2004, Bush could well be looking for another job. Even that is assuming that he would make it through the primaries, which would certainly not be a given if he goes limp on us now.
I'm not Catholic, but it sounds like a good excuse for a party to me!
According to the Fusilierpundit, February 27th is the feast day of Saint Gabriel Possenti, Patron Saint of Handgunners.
Ps. Kim du Toit suggests that we all celebrate by buying a handgun on Thursday. Not a bad idea at all.
Liar! Liar! Pants on Fire!
A brutal take-down of anti-war Rep. Dennis Kucinich. Columnist Richard Cohen asks "how did this fool get on "Meet the Press"?"
No slant here!
"DURING HIS CAMPAIGN and periodically since, Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has talked about improving gun safety laws, but he has yet to specify which proposals he is prepared to support in the current legislative session. It's time: This month, sponsors of several sensible measures joined Montgomery County Police Chief Charles A. Moose and Sonia Wills, the mother of sniper victim Conrad Johnson, to press for legislative action. That set off the National Rifle Association's political weapons of mass obstruction in Annapolis. The governor's response has been a repeat of his noncommittal let's-see-what-works line.
"The proposals would ban the possession or transfer of 45 types of assault-style weapons that are designed chiefly to kill people and that have no place in the open market; expand Maryland's ballistic fingerprinting system from handguns to all firearms; and require gun owners to report lost or stolen weapons to police within 48 hours."
Voluntary tax collection?
"Illinois last week announced that it has joined a lawsuit against several large retailers seeking payment of past online sales tax obligations. New York is considering similar litigation.
"The Illinois action comes just weeks after several big retailers, including Wal-Mart, Target and Toys R Us, began voluntarily collecting taxes on their online sales. …"
Voluntarily collecting taxes that they are obligated to collect? Can we citizens then decline to pay taxes that we are obligated to pay? Or does this only work if you have sufficient corporate clout? This is a weird and twisted tale to say the least.
Finally! The words I've been waiting to hear on Iraq:
In meetings yesterday with senior officials in Moscow, Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton told the Russian government that "we're going ahead," whether the council agrees or not, a senior administration official said. "The council's unity is at stake here." [emphasis added]
Rocky Mountain News - Jurors will be allowed to question witnesses, under rule changes passed by the Colorado Supreme Court.
This appears to be a step in the right direction, but only a very small one. I find it infuriating that information can be withheld from the jury, essentially allowing the jury to know only what the judge and attorneys want them to. Too often this seems to lead to situations where the jury is only told what they need to know to produce the verdict that the court desires, which would seem to negate the whole point of having a jury.
Ouch. Penelope Purdy at the Denver Post isn't amused.
".. Americans aren't asking President Bush: Why will going to war create fewer terrorism risks than finding a way to continue to contain and eventually peacefully overthrow Saddam Hussein? After all, similar methods eventually undermined thugs such as Joe Stalin and his successors."
Yes, but how many million people did Uncle Joe slaughter?
Today's Denver Post lead editorial focuses on the on-going rape and cover-up controversy at the Air Force Academy. One wonders whether at some point looking the other way and/or covering such things up ought to be liable to criminal prosecution. I'm sure they could find a few extra cells at Leavenworth for these schmucks.
In the on-going saga of Colorado v. Wyoming there's little question who will come out 'on top'.
'Rancher' trumps 'democrat'
Denver - Colorado State Senators have given final approval to a bill that would toss out local gun laws except those that restrict where guns can be openly carried. The legislation will now go to the House.
Today's CalgarySun Editorial poll asks: Are you in favor of mandatory identification cards for all Canadians? The response so far is running 30% Yes and 70% No.
Oklahoma turkeys moved to Wyo
No, not that kind of turkeys, Rio Grande wild turkeys. They've released several batches of them here in the Bighorn Basin and they seem to be doing okay, although this habitat would seem to be marginal at best.
Where in the rules of the Wyoming Legislature did Rep. Roy Cohee find the right to punish people for using [tobacco] ("Is it punitive? You bet. It's supposed to be") just because he doesn't like it.
Truth be told, it's all about money, and smokers are an easy target. If they really want to improve health and make much more money, they should put a comparable tax on soft drinks and french fries; both contribute to many health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Of course these "users" would be marching on the Capitol , with the ACLU leading the pack.
LUE WHETZELL , Rock Springs
Give 'em hell, Lue
Buffalo Bill Cody, Inventor
"Everyone, in some small sacred sanctuary of the self, is nuts."
-- Leo Rosten [as quoted by L.M. Boyd]
Monday, February 24, 2003- - -
Interesting. I was inspecting and resizing a big batch of surplus once-fired .45 auto brass last night and came across four cases with WWII-vintage military head stamps. All four of these also had a very heavy ejector impression on their bases and appear to have been fired in a sub-machinegun of some sort. All the rest of this brass is modern and I sure wonder where the old ones came from.
We're Ready, Gov!
Today's WaPo lead editorial extols the virtues of the Department of Homeland Security's new www.ready.gov web site and their general civil preparedness program.
Now I've been more than a bit critical of the Department of Homeland Security and of their web site (1, 2, 3) but please understand that it's not because I think their web site gives you bad advice. The advice you find there is very, very good. This is the sort of thing that everyone does need to be very conscious of. I don't think there's much room to dispute that.
So why the hell has it taken them 17 months to get this on-line when you could have produced it in a month by rubbing two Boy Scouts together?
He He He, Ha Ha Ha..
Someone needs to explain to these dullards how double-edged swords work.
The fact that Tom Daschle (D - Pine Ridge) is behind this ought to be enough to tell them what a good idea it is.
Saddam is all for peace!
Washington Post - The messages from U.S. embassies around the globe have become urgent and disturbing: Many people in the world increasingly think President Bush is a greater threat to world peace than Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
Yes, I'm quite sure that Saddam is praying for peace right now. But it's not now that we're worried about, is it?
Allard on allies - It's hardly envy
Letters to the Editor, Monday, February 24, 2003 - Re: “Iraq confrontation roils transatlantic relations,” Feb. 16 news story.
Sen. Allard’s comments regarding “old Europe” would be simply misinformed coming from a provincial American veterinarian. But as Colorado’s elected representative to the only legislative body with a direct role in U.S. foreign policy (the Senate ratifies treaties, after all), they’re worrisome.
Allard said: “There are governments in old Europe that are socialist governments that simply are not working,” and that these governments are “running their citizens into poverty” and engendering “jealousies” of the United States.
Allard ignored that it is Europe’s poorest countries — those in the East — that are lining up behind the United States. He also commits the dangerous error of confusing genuine political dissent with an emotional reaction. These European nations don’t oppose the U.S. because of some sort of “jealousy”; they are checking U.S. power that they feel is being wielded irresponsibly.
Further, the European dissenters to current U.S. Iraq policy include some of the world’s wealthiest nations: France, Germany and Belgium — hardly candidates for economic envy.
So, Todd Neff, what is the unemployment rate in France right now? Is Germany's economy on a surge, or what?
Free the Lobsters!
It looks like a Colorado man has designed a better lobster trap. Now for all you PETA people out there who find this appalling, we're establishing a 'Free the Lobsters' program. Buy those live lobsters and ship them to me, and I'll see that they're returned to the water. I promise I'll be sure the water's warm enough for them.
Too Bad, Wellie
It looks like the Colorado legislature's bill to override local gun control regulations may just pass. The bad news: It's fate rests in the hands of a democrat. The good: He's also a rancher representing Tiny Town in southwest Colorado.
I wonder if Denver will return the vehicles they've confiscated??
I ordered a Nora Jones album on the InstaPundit's recommendation. Now I can hardly wait until it gets here.
Retired Senator Al Simpson is quite the raconteur. Here in a speech at the Wyoming House of Representatives he says that Governor Freudenthal's parents were good Republicans.. So where did they go wrong in producing democratic offspring? Funny Stuff.
Smoke-filled back rooms
It was just a couple days ago that I responded to a query from reader Doug Chandler and pointed out that our own Wyoming State government entities aren't exactly open to the observation of the people.
Now we have another example of the same old, same old. 'What? Why just because we had a meeting behind closed doors it doesn't mean that we violated the Open Meeting Law! How could we get anything done if we had to be accountable to the public?'
I just popped over to the Daily News to see if they had anything new up - They're a 5-day-a-week paper, taking Sunday and Monday off, so I wasn't expecting anything. But they have a streaming news ticker and a time & temperature header that caught my eye. It was saying minus 31C. My first reaction was, 'oh those sillies don't know what Celsius is and have it screwed up somehow', and then it flashed minus 23F. So I got up to look at my thermometer and: Oh Baby! It's Cold Outside!
BwaaHaHa.. Aa..aa.. Ayee!
It sometimes pays to bear in mind that our leaders are also mere mortals, complete with their own sets of fears and foibles. Of course, if anyone can put the pantheon in perspective it's BJ Clinton. Proving once again that he is both shallow and superficial, he says Bono is a leader "we should follow in the new millennium."
Ps. Even the Iowa Aggies are unimpressed.
".. someone needs to take off the public’s rose-colored glasses and break Bono’s blue ones — he doesn’t need the damn things to see properly anyway — because U2 is not making music or statements that matter.
The Entertainment Industry Foundation gave Bono the Humanitarian of the Year award on Valentine’s Day at the first “Love Rocks” benefit. Tom Cruise, Lauryn Hill and others, including a taped speech by Bill Clinton, paid tribute to the egomaniacal, stuck-in-a-moment-in-1987-when-he-was-still-cool rocker."
Stuck in a moment when he was still cool? Jeez, BJ and Bono do have something in common.
PPs. Do go read the whole Iowa Aggie OpEd. It's a deliciously wicked cut.
There oughta be a law!
Terminal silliness in Congress. Rep Anthony D. Weiner wants to pass a law that will restrict the sale of replica police badges. Of course, impersonating an officer is already illegal, and making a fake badge isn't that difficult. One must wonder whether some of these guys lie awake at night dreaming up new ways to ditz around: "Wait! Here's something that isn't already illegal or mandatory!"
Born in the USA
I'm not a raging Bruce Springsteen fan, but I enjoy his work. The songs about fast cars and faster women are fun, and he is a remarkable balladeer who tells a story with each song, a form I particularly appreciate. But he's not possessed of a silver tongue, nor is he a spectacular technical musician or poet. He is an extremely competent rock & roller. But he also has a dark side that engages every dozen years or so, when he produces something like his NEBRASKA album, and the ghost of tom joad. The absolutely black, deep despair expressed by the characters whose stories he tells in these two albums could easily make this music to slash your wrists to. Not what one should play in a basement apartment, shortly after a divorce, or when unhappily long unemployed.
But I am none of the above, so I was listening to the ghost of tom joad this afternoon when I came upon Steve Den Beste's post on his personal philosophy. Listening to the torments of refugees and the travails of illegal immigrants while reading an unabashedly patriotic recitation of the American Creed, the beliefs that make this country and its people great, by someone who is prosperous, free, and heartily glad for it and for the country that fosters it, can have a profound psychic effect. An emotional blizzard of the first order. To say that I agree with Steve's sentiments would be an understatement. And Springsteen's characters would agree even more, as many of them hazard their lives for the tiniest taste of what we have. Powerful, powerful stuff.
Now here's a bizarre gadget. A cough silencer. Just in case you must cough but don't want to be heard.
I was wondering which of them would be Pestilence.
Sunday, February 23, 2003- - -
Thomas Friedman has a very interesting OpEd in today's NY Times, suggesting that we, not the government but we individual citizens, may be overreacting to the threat of terrorism. Says he: ".. the right response, after a point, is not to demand more and more security — but to learn to live with more and more anxiety."
No! The correct response is to be as prepared as possible for any eventuality. A high level of personal preparedness not only provides security, it is the best antidote for anxiety. Just as a country that wishes peace should prepare for war, we who wish for security should prepare for disaster. Friedman suggests that you go buy a new putter and try to forget about it. To that, Pollyanna, I counter: Buy a new iron.. And learn to shoot it.
Move quietly and gently..
I'm really liking this new Successful Hunter magazine. It's that time of year right now when there isn't much to hunt. I usually spend that time repairing and detail cleaning the guns & equipment, and working on new and hopefully better reloads. Ross Seyfried suggests wildlife photography (Vol. 1, #2) and judging from the photos accompanying the article he's darn good at it. He closes the article with this:
"I must close with a mild word of caution, because the emphasis is on taking wildlife photos during the times when we cannot hunt. There are two very critical times in the lives of big game and even birds when we are very apt to be photographers: the dead of winter and the busy time of spring. Winter is a time of great stress, a time when survival hangs in the balance. We do not want to roar into wintering grounds with a snow machine; we do not want to disturb at all, if possible. Spring is the time of babies, and once again human disturbance is a very bad thing for their survival. Move quietly and gently. Honor their lives and their world. Try your very best to not let them know you are there."
That's what it's really all about.
I didn't know Bush was Navaho.
In Europe, anti-Semitism has been called the socialism of fools, which is confusing, because socialism is the socialism of fools.
A good one. Be sure to read the rest.
An old Wyoming proverb
'Whiskey's for drinkin', it's water that causes fights'.
Retire the Shuttle
Here's retired astronaut Bruce McCandless' take on the space shuttle.
Hey Megan, can I borrow the 2x4?
I'm afraid I was unaware that such troglodytes still existed, and I'm afraid that writing them off as excitable boys doesn't sit too well with me.
Tip the mailman?
Here's an interesting thing on tipping in today's DenverPost. I waited tables in college and always try to be a good tipper, but I think I'll draw the line at tipping the mail lady - that's a $30,000+ government employee we're talking about here!
Incidentally, if you are looking for work in a restaurant, dress up real nice and apply at the most expensive places in town. In the place I worked a couple could easily drop $200 on a nice dinner and the tip is a percentage, right? Working four tables for $50 tips beats hell out of working 20 tables for $2 tips.
It's not my fault! I didn't do anything!
Yes, of course I'm referring to the fact that I only have archives for January through March of 2002 this morning. And I'd been religiously practicing my philosophy that 'if it ain't broke, don’t fix it'. Now I've tried republishing my archives and templates, no luck. Blogger/BlogSpot must have some serious gremlins. I can only hope that with their purchase by Google they'll hire someone who can FIX IT.
On the other hand, I've just received a piece of interesting news. The local phone company now offers DSL hookups to all those fiber optic cables they've been laying under the streets for the last couple of years! Don't make me do it, Ev.
Hmm.. Perhaps they have a ways to go before I'll be giving them any money though. I just tried to check out RTConnect.Net [Non-functioning link], which is the address on their glossy brochures, and get nothing but an inactive web page, no matter what permutation of RT_Connect.net, RTConnect.net, RT_Connect.com, or RTConnect.com I might try. That's not a real confidence builder, but then they only started advertising this weekend, perhaps it's not quite functional yet.
Ps. Bwahahahaha! Screwballs. By the time I'd done all this republishing and written and posted this post, Blogger/BlogSpot had healed itself.
BbBbBbBbBaby, you ain't seen nothin' yet
This article on droughts documented in the dendrochronological record illustrates why it's so silly to base sweeping climate-change predictions on just the meteorological record, or to get too alarmed over the human contribution to that change.
We know that the climate varies a great deal more than is indicated in the meteorological records. If we extrapolate the climatic change that can be documented over the last 20 thousand years into the next 20 thousand, the long term weather predictions are for 1000-year droughts and 5000 feet of snow in upstate New York.
And we will learn to deal with it.. Or we won't.
Saturday, February 22, 2003- - -
Douglas Chandler writes:
It has always seemed to me that the Western States that have the federal government in possession or in charge of the majority of the land were really getting the shaft, and frankly the Feds were doing their selves out of tax revenue that they could have been getting from private parties. Texas has had dumb luck in this regard. Despite corruption in our state government the mineral resources have at least benefited the state, oil revenues to the state university system for example. We could use better preservation of our archeological sites and more research on them but for the most part they haven't been plowed under and a lot of them have been made part of the state park system.
Do you see any signs or have any hopes that the citizens of Wyoming, Montana, etc. are going to get more control over what should be their land?
Actually, we in Wyoming probably have greater say over the federally-managed lands in the state than we do over the state-managed lands. At least the feds have an open, up-front process. The state still has a nasty habit of having closed meetings in smoky back rooms, the results of which are never announced. And just try to find out how much the state bureaucrats might be spending on some project.
The feds actually tried to give away the land through the Homestead Act and Desert Land Act, but when it takes 10 acres to raise one jackrabbit they just didn't get many takers, and a lot of those that did homestead just couldn't make it. The land is scenic, but it's darn hard to make a living off of it, except for the minerals, of course. With little income potential from the land, there wouldn't be much in the way of taxes that could be extracted from that income. But get this: the feds pay the state PILT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) - they essentially pay the state property taxes on the federal lands. They also give the state a good share of the royalties from mineral extraction. All in all, the state makes out like a bandit, we don't have an income tax, and we're one of the very few states that generally operates in the black. The feds make a chunk of money off the mineral estate as well, and they lease out the grazing rights, so the state and federal governments probably make about as much money off the land as is possible.
The fact that the feds couldn't give away a lot of this land when they tried suggests to me that the libertarian ideal of privatizing the land wouldn't work very well.
Halleluiah! My blasted IP has email working again! According to the letter I got from them (Yep, snail mail from an IP. Go figure.) they're replacing the Blaxix and modifying the Wolob while they're at it [or something like that]. At any rate, they've been off-line since about this time yesterday, so the spam-o-lanche when they came back up was impressive. There were even a few legit emails.
So, if you email and I don't respond very quickly, don't be offended, it's all my IP's fault!
Flashbunny has a new coffee mug with a logo that's pretty entertaining: "France, Irrelevant for over 150 years."
I've been listening to the Cowboys Bball game on the radio and they ran an ad for the Wyoming Coalbed Natural Gas Alliance's website. Bearing in mind that they are development boosters, they give a good brief overview of coalbed methane development. Coal miners have known for centuries about "firedamp" - an old name for the flammable, mostly methane gas given off by coal - but it's only in the last few years that we've figured out how to extract the gas. It's an interesting process and relatively low impact when done properly. It's certainly a low impact compared to strip-mining the coal. And it also allows extraction of gas from coal beds that could not be economically mined.
Here's the next installment in the sad, strange case of Terry Barton, the Forest Service employee who supposedly started the worst wildfire in Colorado history by burning a letter from her ex in a moment of mental anguish. When the fire was finally contained, 215 square miles of forest and 133 residences were toast.
When ever the anti-abortion forces climb up on that high horse they always make me wonder if they really want to force people like this to have even more children.
Sigh. In this day and age, why on earth does anyone pay any attention to these social Mousterians?
On one hand, it's hard to have too much sympathy for a commercial truck driver roaring down the road with a snoot-full of booze (although note that the charges were dropped, so his guilt should not be assumed). On the other, a system that can jail you and then forget you exist is pretty damn scary.
Yeah! Gov Fred!
Cool! It's been almost a year to the day since I posted: "So if you live in Wyoming and your congresscritter asks, please tell him not to let the sun set on the Wyoming Business Council."
Now, in this morning's dead tree edition of the Pravda on the Platte, new Governor Freudenthal has vetoed the repeal of the WBC's sunset provision. This is an unusual turn-about. Gov Fred* is a democrat - when was the last time you heard of a democrat doing anything that might, just might reduce the size of government? It also puts the Republicans in the legislature, who were all for this little bit of crony capitalism, in the odd position of arguing for bigger government. And you better believe I'll be saving this article for the next time one of them starts talking 'fiscal responsibility'.
The Gov's veto comes like a wrench in the gears of the usual mechanism employed in creating new government programs: start small, assure everyone that it's only a temporary trial measure, and then work like hell to expand and become a permanent fixture. This is exactly what the WBC had been doing. First, they got the five-year sunset extended another five years, and now they have succeeded in getting their five-year sunset repealed entirely by the legislature. But before they'd even finished swilling the champagne it would appear that the Gov has pulled the wheels off their little red wagon.
Damn I hate when that happens! I'll have to email him a thank you.
What's also interesting is that, according to the Pravda we're hearing the same obnoxious 'If you're against the WBC you must be against business and against economic development' bullshit that we here in Worland have been hearing about our refusal to pass a tax increase 'for economic development'. One wonders whether these folks have any original lines, although I suppose the idea of raising taxes to boost the economy does seem pretty original. Sort of like 'spending your way out of debt' it's a concept that could only have been dreamed up by someone in the govmint who won't have to pay the ultimate bill. Of course! It will boost their economy and that's all they really cared about.
*When I moved to Wyoming in 1984 the governor was democrat Ed Herschler, affectionately known as 'Gov Ed'. His successor was democrat Mike Sullivan, who immediately became known as 'Gov Suv'. Then we had the regrettable republican Governor Gerringer, whose GOP cronies didn't even like him much and who remained 'Governor Gerringer' throughout his reign - probably because 'Gov Grrr' would have been too appropriate. Now we have democratic Governor Dave Freudenthal, who hasn't been around long enough to pick up a nickname. I think 'Gov Fred' has a certain historic continuity, although he pronounces the name 'Free-den-thal'.
Hmm.. And has anyone noticed from this last little aside that we in Wyoming, the reddest of red states, have elected three out of four democratic governors? I have absolutely no idea how that happens.
Ps. Actually, as mtpolitics pointed out a few days ago, Wyoming is hardly unique in this 'bleed 'em white, that will keep them healthy' attitude toward business and the general population.
[reprint of lost article from 030125]
Carbon County, in south-central Wyoming, is considering a 1¢ optional sales tax, just as is Washakie County, where I live. Both counties propose a special election to decide the issue on May 6. At this point the two county's efforts diverge markedly. In Carbon County the proposal includes a list of specific expenditures that will be funded with the tax, allowing the voters to judge the tax on its merits. They may vote for or against the tax, but at least they know what they are voting on. In contrast, we in Washakie County have heard little except empty rhetoric. We are told that we must approve this tax if we want to 'move forward' and 'invest in our futures', and worst, we are told that anyone who opposes the tax 'must be against economic development' and 'must want to see our children leave the area in search of jobs'. A Joint Powers Board is to be formed to administer the 1¢ money, but the tax proponents cannot tell us who will be on that board. The tax money will be spent on 'economic development', but no one can say what that might entail. The Joint Powers board will be answerable only to the voters, but the voters will be informed by the Northern Wyoming Daily News, whose publisher is one of the biggest proponents of the tax. In short, we are asked to buy a pig-in-a-poke and any question or objection is met with near-slanderous venom. Those who object to the tax in public meetings have been shouted down and their objections receive no coverage in the local news, while proponents of the tax appearing at the same meetings are quoted at length. Letters to the editor go unpublished. The whole issue has been long on emotion and very short on facts and figures. In fact, if you Google "Washakie County" + "sales tax" the most in-depth coverage you will find is by yours truly, and I have had very little to say on the issue. We've already voted on this issue once, in a special election last May [scroll to 'Washakie Shoots Down Boost in Sales Tax'], and the proposal failed, despite having no organized opposition. Shortly after that the Worland City Council [scroll to RESOLUTION No. 2002-8] passed a resolution approving the proposed sales tax, which did include some vague figures, and proposed putting the issue on last fall's general election ballot. However, $3.8 million of the $5 million to be raised was to be spent on a Community Center Complex to be developed at the existing Middle School when it is vacated on completion of a new school complex. The scheme fell through when the school board wisely declined to donate this very valuable property to the county, and the issue was never placed on the general election ballot. Most ironic, while these folks are striving mightily to raise taxes, the low sales tax is touted as one of the chief advantages of Worland, at least by everyone except the Chamber of Commerce and Washakie Development Association, who you would assume would highlight this as one of the area's greatest advantages. You would be assuming wrong, since these two organizations are proponents of the 1¢ tax. The proponents of the tax are well aware that the voters want facts and figures. I expect more heated rhetoric in response. It should be a very interesting spring. Update: After all this doom and gloom, I should point out that even if the tax issue passes, the sales tax will be 5% and there is no state income tax. There are a lot of business opportunities here, in a town with a lot of friendly people and only a few lunatics..
[Gaa! I obviously recovered everything except the paragraph breaks. I have no idea what happened, but I have a weird little gap in my archives for the end of January and it's not in my Archives Table on Blogger, so republishing doesn't help. The posts are still there if I use the Blogger 'Show posts containing' facility, but I have no idea how to get it back. Ah well, still better than no archives at all.]
Friday, February 21, 2003- - -
Pork-barreling toward calamity
Today's fresh insight from Tom Stroock, Casper businessman, ambassador to Guatemala for George H.W. Bush, and all around brilliant guy.
Hey! It sure is nice to have functioning Archives again. I really should thank Amish Tech Support for this, as it was purely embarrassment at being a bad Blog A Day host that finally motivated me to delve into the guts of my blog templates. There's still a little hinkyness there, as I can hit 'Refresh' and the archives will disappear, hit 'Refresh' again and part of them come back, do it again and they miraculously heal themselves. In other words, they work about as well as they ever did.
Capt. J.M. Heinrichs of Lord Strathcona's Horse writes to say that this is a Coyote, and it's pronounced 'Ky-oh-tee'.
Laurence, I think he's got us out-gunned bud.
If the government had invented the digital clock it might look something like this.
[Courtesy of Danny Walker]
Thursday, February 20, 2003- - -
Yes, I'm still messing with my archives. I had them looking really nice for awhile, except that they linked to someone else's blog! I will figure this out, and then I'll be furious with myself for having so much trouble with something so simple..
Update! Hey! Look at that! I've got archives, including a lot of stuff I thought might be lost forever. And yes, I am furious with myself, the instructions were perfectly clear.. well, sort of anyway.
The InstaPundit has an interesting post on the arrogance of French leaders. Now I've never met any French leaders, but we do put up with quite a few French tourists and it never ceases to amaze me how someone wearing a brand new Stetson, brand new Tony Lamas, a snap-down Wrangler shirt, and Levis so new he hasn't chased down all the tags and staples can a) tell you that his visit to the US means nothing since he hates America, Americans, and everything American, and b) do this with a straight face as a conversation opener with a complete stranger who they know damn well is an American. Now if this had happened once I'd think 'What a prick', but it has happened often enough that now I think 'Oh, another Frenchman'. So I'm not at all surprised to see that 'French diplomacy' is indeed an oxymoron. Being willfully offensive seems to be a point of pride, although oddly enough they don't seem to see this sort of thing as offensive, unless you say something rude about France, of course.
And don't get me started on the Quebecois. One wonders how some of them survive to drive this far.
The koolaid is wearing off
I know I've been picking on the Office of Homeland Security a lot lately - I think they deserve it, too. But as much as I'd like to hope that they are not representative of the whole anti-terror effort, I'm becoming very afraid that they are, in fact, the norm. Was Afghanistan just a momentary lapse of control brought on by a fit of presidential pique? Is the interminable dithering with the UN and EUnuchs then to be the norm for the remainder of the campaign? Will Bush huff and puff and blow away just like Clinton did? Why am I beginning to believe that the answers are 'Yes', 'Yes', and 'Regrettably, Yes'?
The more I think about the Amish Tech Support blog a day tour post herein [yeah, yeah, I know my archives are toast, I'm working on it, so scroll down to Happy Day! Happy Day!] the more I chuckle. If Laurence has a problem with people who pronounce 'coy-ote' as 'coy-ot-ee' he would just love Wyoming place names. The locals seem to have made a real effort to come up with odd-ball pronunciations for common words. Like the little town of Opal, it's not pronounced like the gem stone, it's pronounced 'Oh Pal' as in 'hey pard'. There's the Popo Agie River, pronounced 'poh poh zjah' [no that's not French, I have no idea what it is, but I'd guess it's Shoshone]. And my favorite, the town of Dubois, which pronunciation is best illustrated by the (very) old joke: "Michael Jackson is moving to Wyoming!" "He is?" "Yes, to Do Boys." [Rim Shot! Thud! Sound of body being dragged away.]
We don't have a Houston, but if we did I'm sure it would be pronounced 'whose town'. At least Meeteetse is pronounced just like it's spelled.. Heheheh.
Aarrggghh! And in other fast-breaking news the TSA is almost ready to start training pilots to carry guns. Never mind they could have sent them all through Gunsite and had this little detail taken care of a year ago. Their sense of urgency is wondrous to behold, is it not?
Update: James Rummel has some thoughtful comments on this issue.
The new 'Duck & Cover'
Has anyone besides me looked at the new Ready.gov web site enough to see just how lame it is? Take a look at their instructions for 'what to do In a High-Rise Building':
Note where the closest emergency exit is.
Of course, ignore this if you aren't in a 'high-rise building'. If you needed to know this in a single-story structure they'd have a section on 'What to do in a Single-story Structure', eh?
Be sure you know another way out in case your first choice is blocked.
Yep, only necessary in a high-rise. That's why there's no back door to your house.
Take cover against a desk or table if things are falling.
Duck and cover? Why we did that when I was a kid! Of course, this is optional for those stupid enough to stand there and look up transfixed while shit is raining down around them.
Move away from file cabinets, bookshelves or other things that might fall.
I bet this has never occurred to anyone in San Francisco. A good point to bring up, but again remember, it's only pertinent if you live in a 'high-rise building'.
Face away from windows and glass.
Yes, don't be a casualty of the old 'what the fuck was that?' syndrome.
Move away from exterior walls.
And as much as possible, keep your belly firmly planted on the floor.
Determine if you should stay put, "shelter-in-place" or get away.
Heheheh. Hey Beavis, get the duck tape, they said 'shelter-in-place'.
Listen for and follow instructions.
Which will hopefully come from someone brighter than the writer of this little bundle of stunning advice.
Take your emergency supply kit, unless there is reason to believe it has been contaminated.
Of course, if it has been contaminated, so have you.
Do not use elevators.
Remember, this only applies to terrorist attacks.
Stay to the right while going down stairwells to allow emergency workers to come up.
In your panic, don't trample the nice firemen.
Yes, I can see how it would take dozens of well-trained bureaucrats months to come up with this stuff.
Sigh. If only these yahoos were nearly so concerned with the attacks on liberties being perpetrated by their own Wonderful Wellington Webb, who sees no problem with confiscating some farmer's pickup when he strays across their far-flung city limits with a shotgun in the back window. [That's a big part of why this law is being pushed. Denver is way out of line.]
As you may have guessed, I'm not that thrilled with the Office of Homeland Security either, but that's more due to their very apparent ineptitude than to any fear that they might get their shit together and actually become a threat to our liberties. They could, but I won't hold my breath until they do. Just as a line-by-line rebuttal of foolishness has become a Fisking, in the future totally ineffectual government agencies might be said to be "Rigid," eh?
Denver's Wonderful Wellington Webb says "We will do everything legally in our power to uphold our constitutional rights and to assure we can continue to protect citizens of our city." That's the constitutional right to ban concealed weapons in Denver, of course. That must be a tenth amendment right, right?
Michael Jackson as public service
Isn't picking on Jacko starting to feel like beating a cripple or tripping a blind man? Well, feel no guilt. According to William Porter at the DenverPost it's a public service: Because when citizens across this fair land tuck themselves into bed tonight, they can recite this mantra: "As screwy as my life gets, it pales next to Michael Jackson's."
Now there's a profound observation. But not as good as the one about 'a poor black boy growing up to be a rich white woman'. And check out the picture, truly a self-made.. Um.. Whatever.
The occasion? Fox is running "The Michael Jackson Interview: The Footage You Were Never Meant to See" tonight. I don't know about you, but my momma never meant me to see anything like this. I think I'll respect her wishes.
Why do they hate us?
Because we're the Axis of Elvis!
Yeah, lay in a few days supply of food and water, and dig a shelter in your backyard while you're at it.
Umm.. Guys, this is advice any Boy Scout could have given you, and did - twenty years ago. This isn't Homeland Security, this is a horribly transparent example of a government agency going-through-the-motions. This sort of magical, mystical warding of evil through ritual incantation is as old as humankind. It's what we do when we have no clue what else to do. I'd expect virgin sacrifice next, although I'm not completely convinced that Ridge is a virgin. But I'd be willing to chance it.
Ps. In the link above, notice the part about this Ready Campaign 'being many months in the making.' "They said they crafted the campaign to avoid scaring people while providing some commonsense ideas that will help families find and care for each other if normal services aren't available for a few days because of an attack." Somehow, considering the product I don't find it very reassuring to think that it's the result of months of work, and jokes about commonsense not being a common commodity in DC only take the edge off a little.
Hoist by their own canards. A rather unsatisfying exploration of free market health care at Reason's Hit and Run, via Matt Welch. Yes, all that rugged individualism sounds great as long as you're a rugged individual. The comments on both of these posts are very interesting. On one hand, I agree with Welch that the lack of affordable health care in this country is a national disgrace. On the other hand, god help us if we ever do adopt something like Canada's system, because we won't be able to go 'south' and pay our own way if we need specialized care and treatment. Unfortunately, the libertarians are probably right. If it weren't for the outrageous costs we pay for health care, our standard of care wouldn't be available at any cost. I don't believe that we'd be better off with universally available but mediocre medicine, and if it were universally available it would certainly be largely mediocre. A serious problem that needs serious thought and argument.
The Jack Morrow Hills
This has been one of the more contentious environmental issues in Wyoming for the last few years, with several major oil companies holding oil and gas leases they would like to develop in an area that is frequently described as having 'unique scenic values' and providing habitat for 'rare and unusual wildlife'.
Well yes, But.. With the exclusion of the middle of some coal strip mine every part of Wyoming has unique scenic values and rare and unusual wildlife. Every time any sort of rural development is proposed someone will point this out, as if it were an odd attribute of that one piece of land. It is not. Nor are those of us in the oil & gas business blind to the wild and scenic values of the land, we live here too. And those who have not been sensitive to the wildlands by nature have generally been made sensitive to the issue, sometimes quite expensively.
On the other hand, the opponents of development often have a legitimate gripe with the whole federally managed oil & gas development process, and the Jack Morrow Hills is a good example. On the face of it, 205 oil & gas wells and 50 coalbed methane wells sounds like a lot of development, and it is. But notice that they're talking about 115 exploration wells and 90 development wells, and the 50 coalbed methane wells are 'exploratory' as well. This isn't the end of development in the Hills, it's only the preliminary step. What happens next will be dependent on the results of the exploratory drilling. If large reservoirs of oil & gas are found, and if the coalbed methane drilling is productive, there could potentially be many times more wells drilled in the future. All those wells come with access roads, pipelines, powerlines, pumping stations, and a whole variety of other ancillary facilities.
At least part of the complaint from the environmental quarter is that the BLM's EISs don't consider the future effects of successful exploration, and they have a point. We've recently watched while coalbed methane development in the Powder River Basin went from 50 wells, to 800 wells, to 3000 wells, to 30,000 wells, with the BLM's planning and environmental assessment lagging about 10x behind the development at every step - the EIS covering the first 800 wells was published about the time industry hit 3000 wells permitted. To say the least this gives the public the impression of industry run amok.
Yet, even as far behind as they are, the BLM's Buffalo Field Office has tripled in size to cope with coalbed methane development in the Powder River Basin, and they are still totally swamped. What if they had geared up for 30,000 wells and the first hundred came up dry? Putting a big group of bureaucrats together to draw up elaborate plans for development that doesn't happen sounds all too familiar as it is, and the BLM has been working for ten years on the Jack Morrow Hills plan.
It's a true dilemma. If we really do all the environmental evaluation, all the searches for rare plants and unusual archaeological sites, all the soil erosion and wildlife habitat studies that we could do, and that some would argue that we should do prior to even considering development in a given area, the price of electricity in California would go way, way up. When we play the odds and try to take it one step at a time things can get a little out-of-hand on occasion. Much whining and shouting will entail no matter what happens. In the mean time, those of us who care are continually searching for ways to minimize the footprint of development, not just because we're such nice people, but because it's in our best economic interest. And those who don't care occasionally do get whacked.
Postscript: For those who would argue the Libertarian ideal and say that all this land and these resources should be privatized I'll say sure, Dream On. All this activity funnels Billions and Billions of dollars into the federal government every year. If you think they'll willingly give that up then you probably thought Butt Weasel Browne really could get rid of the IRS.
Ps. Jeez Louise! According to this, we're up to 66,000 proposed coalbed methane wells in the Powder River Basin. Can't turn your back on those guys for a minute.
Wednesday, February 19, 2003- - -
It's a sad, sad day when a Star Wars film is up for a Razzie.
Yes, that would be worthy of legend
"The legend goes that at the end, the buffalo will save the Indians again," says Ralph Bear Killer, buffalo keeper for the park and recreation department of the Pine Ridge Reservation.
The legend looks to be coming true.
Just as the buffalo are returning to the rural Great Plains, native Americans are staging a dramatic demographic comeback - thanks to high birthrates and the return of many who want to reconnect with their land and culture.
The region's native American population has nearly doubled since 1990 (even using the most restrictive census definitions). That's almost four times the national growth rate and, regionally speaking, the biggest increase of any major demographic group except Hispanics. [emphasis added]
Perhaps this a good example of a case where too much shouldn't be read into the statistics. Either a whole lot of Indianz have been doing the wild thing pretty much non-stop (which would be their claim), or perhaps it's because the 2000 census was the first time in quite awhile that they'd sent census takers to the reservations.
Americans see Israel's neighbors as hostile.
Hmm.. Somehow I don't think this was a real epiphany for anyone.
Why do I get the feeling that 'restoring liberty' will take a back seat to 'moral culture' in this scheme?
The best argument against appeasement and for war in Iraq that I've seen:
To state the manifestly obvious: Extremist groups are going to hit us eventually anyway. Let's make it a matter of honor and see what they've got.
Of course, all that machismo could only be coming from one source - Ann Coulter.
Kentucky challenges Iraq
Though worlds apart geographically and culturally, Iraq and Kentucky each boast rich traditions of vertical marksmanship.
"Expressing one's feelings and emotions via the firing of guns into the air is an ancient and noble artform," said Henri St. Germain, president of the Federation Internationale des Discharges-Aeriales (FIDA), the sport's governing body. "In fact, it may even predate the practice of expressing one's feelings and emotions by shooting into other humans. And nowhere on Earth does this tradition continue to thrive more than in Iraq and Kentucky. It is a vital part of these two unique cultures."
Continued St. Germain: "Whether shooting to celebrate a successful moonshine heist from neighboring kinfolk or the downfall of an imperialist Western regime, Kentucky and Iraq bring an undeniable passion and pride to their craft."
According to FIDA officials, in head-to-head competition, Iraq and Kentucky are closely matched.
Finally, a little good news.
A website featuring pictures of dogs in cars gets 4000 hits/day? Hmm.. Maybe it's time to take the pledge not to tell any more lawyer jokes.
Neal Boortz proposed this on Monday, and today we have Cubbie's restaurant in North Carolina serving Freedom Fries! They're not French, don't you know..
Krugman, you twit, we are the world's most dangerous nation. Do you have a problem with that?
Thomas Friedman has a very Fiskable OpEd today. War with Iraq is necessary you see, but Bush is simply going about it all wrong. "Too many people today no longer accept America's strength as a good thing. That's a bad thing." And that may well be as disingenuous as it is possible to be.
All the usual reasons 'why they hate us' are trotted out. 'We're so big, we're so powerful, we're too arrogant, we didn't go along with Kyoto, we aren't treating the PRiKs very well, and our diplomats don't bow and scrape nearly enough.'
I don't suppose for a moment that all those Euroweenies trying to hang on to their long-past glory days have ever accepted America's power as a good thing. I don't really think Mr. Friedman believes this either, which makes me wonder why he bothered to produce this unoriginal thumb-sucker. Perhaps it's part of the job description at the NYTimes.
Yessiree, I feel safer already!
Here's the new Department of Homeland security Ready.gov web site announced by the WaPo today. Somehow I get the feeling that if homeland security had been turned over to the Boy Scouts instead of to FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security all of this information would have been on-line about 17 months ago.
Hmm.. Actually, now that I've looked some of this over, most of this should have been on-line before September 11th, it's not much changed from the old '60s civil defense program - except for the duct tape.
The FEMA guide “Are You Ready — A Guide to Citizen Preparedness” that I mention below contains an Emergency Preparedness Checklist that ranges from the lame - "Find out which disasters could occur in your area" - to the chilling - "Learn your community's evacuation routes". Along the way it recommends that you learn what to do in case of injuries in the home, power outages, fires, earth quakes, tornados, flashfloods, hurricanes, winter storms, and hazardous materials spills. It suggests a long list of disaster supplies to keep at home and in the car. It recommends learning how to turn off the water, gas, and electricity to your home, and searching the home for various hazards. It recommends keeping fire extinguishers and first aid kits handy. In short, it lists all the common sense things you should do but no one actually does.
Being perfectly politically correct, it doesn't list riot and civil unrest as a form of disaster, and does not suggest such passive personal protection as strengthening your home's doors and windows and installing good locks, much less recommend that you consider more active forms of home defense.
We're actually in pretty good shape, thanks in part to the spousal unit's paranoia for fire, flood, and earthquake, and also thanks to our fieldwork - when you're 6 hours from town it's a comfort to have plenty of food and water and gas, and a charged up cell phone. Shovels and fire extinguishers and first aid kits, warm clothes, and food and water always go with us out into the hills. I haven't stocked up on duct tape, but come to think of it I have enough duct tape and drop cloths to cover the entire house. Not that I'd put much faith in duct tape and plastic sheeting - if you have time to put that up you have time to evacuate, unless a huge area is contaminated.
We did load up on batteries for the radios and flashlights, and make sure we have plenty of kerosene and white gas for the lanterns and camp stove. Our larder overflows. Our water is artesian, but if that should fail there's a well in the back yard. Losing the utilities for an extended period would be a pain, but not a disaster. And actually, it's fairly unlikely that we would lose our utilities, as we produce all of them right nearby. Our natural gas comes from wells just outside of town. The town's water is artesian. Gasoline and diesel fuel come from several refineries in the area that are supplied by wells in the area. Our electricity comes from Boysen Reservoir's hydroelectric facility. Still, a terrorist strike could take down any of these facilities (as if they'd bother to strike way out here), and a major earthquake could take out all of them.
While the wife has been stocking the wine cellar and filling the grocery cart with batteries and beans, I've also fueled up the vehicles, and checked the locks on doors and windows. And I've laid in a fresh supply of Hydra-Shoks and buckshot for those politically incorrect disasters that FEMA forgot to warn us about.