Coyote n. A small wolf (Canis latrans) native to western North America.



The Old Coyote's alter ego is:

Anthony A. (Swen) Swenson

Mild-mannered archaeologist by day..

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Visits since May 20, 2002

A Coyote at the Dog Show

Wednesday, September 24, 2003- - -  
At least with the phone line being out I have the perfect alibi. I may be the namesake of the W32.Swen.A@mm worm, as Anton Sherwood emails to suggest -- could anyone be that diabolical? -- but at least I've been incommunicado for most of the time it's been around.

@8:00 AM

Whew! Back at last
A wind storm brought down a big branch and our phone line -- No phone. No fax. No internet. Cold turkey. It was awful. If it weren't for the cell phone and satellite TV we'd have had no communications.

Ah well. Then I come back to this Billings Gazette poll: Who should have the authority and responsibility for providing security in Iraq during the period of reconstruction? The United States has 70 votes (32%), with the majority, 105 votes, going to the United Nations (48%), 30 voted for the Iraqis (13%), and 11 voted for Britain, France, and Germany (5%).

>I feel like putting a big Gasp! in italics here<

@7:47 AM

Friday, September 19, 2003- - -  
Rats the size of buffalo
Paleontologists have unveiled Phoberomys pattersoni, the world's largest known rodent, a 1500 pound cousin of the guinea pig.

@6:56 AM

Tuesday, September 16, 2003- - -  
Stuff that ballot box!
Today's CalgarySun OpEd page poll asks: After the Liberals elect a new leader in November, should the party pressure Jean Chrétien into retiring before next February? So far, 95% say 'Yes'.

@4:26 AM

Tastes like chicken
In Rawlins, Wyo., a pet store's owners left town abruptly, abandoning many of the animals. They're being taken care of though.

Left behind were fish, hamsters, rats, gerbils, lizards, frogs, a hermit crab, white mice and more.

Many of the pets were given away. Two iguanas, Iggy and Liz, will be taken to a reptile rescue organization in Denver.

Reptile Rescue will return them to Mexico, where they have many recipes good habitat for Iguanas.

@4:05 AM

Monday, September 15, 2003- - -  
Battle of the pop guns
Awhile back I wrote about searching for a fresh batch of .22 LR ammo for my Ruger M77/22 and Marlin Mountie. I'd bought a box of every sort of .22 hollowpoint that the sporting goods store had, plus I'd set aside boxes of HP ammo that I had already on hand.

Yesterday I went out and fired the first dozen groups at a 50 yard target, alternating between rifles, and firing six types of ammo. Wonder of wonders, Federal American Eagles did best in the Ruger, putting six shots into 0.80" and the best five into 0.43". That's nice, because they're darn cheap and I have a half dozen cartons stashed away. The M39 put six shots into 3.36" and five into 1.65", with these last five exhibiting only 0.73" of horizontal dispersion. The group exhibits marked vertical stringing.

The M39 didn't do too well, with this or any other ammo, and I suspect my technique is at fault. I haven't done much shooting of lever actions off the bench and I think I need to modify my usual two-sandbag setup for them. I got very bad vertical stringing with almost all the loads I tried, and I think I'm putting too much variable pressure on the action, unsupported between the bags due to the two-piece stock. Horizontal dispersion was often quite good, as was seen above, and I think with a modification of my sandbag technique the Mountie will shoot much better. Next time I'll try a single fore end bag and steady the butt against my shoulder with my off hand. Then I'll repeat, holding the fore end normally in my off hand and resting the back of my hand on the fore end bag. I'll try to avoid putting any torque on the action and see how it does.

CCI Mini Mags did next best in the M77/22, putting six into 0.95" and five into 0.71". This load didn't do too poorly in the M39, putting six into 2.10" and the best five into 1.43". With the last couple of groups I fired I was beginning to suspect that the fore and aft bags were the problem and I was concentrating on not putting any pressure on the action. These last two groups were the only ones I fired all morning that didn't exhibit vertical stringing.

Federal's Classic High Velocity pretty much tied the Mini Mags in the Ruger, putting six into 0.86" and five into 0.82". Horrible vertical stringing was responsible for the Mountie putting six into 3.85" and the best five into 2.98". Horizontal dispersion wasn’t' all that great either though, with 2.00" of spread.

Winchester's silver box Super X didn't do badly, with six shots from the M77/22 going into 0.95" and five into 0.93". Unfortunately, my technique did me in and the M39 printed a 6.50" vertical group with its six shots, putting five into 2.07". I should have been getting a clue by this time, as the horizontal dispersion of the six was 1.07".

CCI Velocitors also did well in the M77/22, printing an even inch for six shots and 0.90" for five. This was the next to the last group I fired with the M39 and I had the vertical stringing doped out (I think), printing six in 1.95" and five in 1.45".

Finally, the eight bucks a carton Winchester Xperts brought up the rear, where I'd really expected that both cut-rate loads would be found. They produced a 1.42" six shot group from the M77/22, embarrassingly bad for this rifle, and put five into 1.05". The Mountie didn't like them either, shooting six into 5.11" and five into 4.30". Here again the horizontal spread was 'only' 1.45".

I've still got six more loads to try -- all four flavors of Remington hollow points, the Federal Hyper velocity load, and CCI Stingers -- and then I'll refine my selection to the best six loads for a second round of testing, tossing out the half dozen loads that didn't do well in one or both rifles. During the second round of testing I may try a different set of six loads in each rifle. Really, only the number of groups I can shoot at one sitting limits the number of loads I'll try.

I'm tickled with the accuracy of the el cheapo Federal American Eagles in the M77/22. A good part of the reason they tip bunnies over so well is definitely that they hit where I want them. I'll also point out that the scoped bolt-action M77/22 exhibits a good deal more usable accuracy than it's iron-sighted safe-mate, at least in my hands. Of course, this Ruger has been my buddy for many walks in the hills, it fits me well, I'm used to the sight and trigger, and I usually find that confidence and familiarity with the rifle does tighten the groups.

@5:33 PM

A new tack
The InstaPundit suggests that the caption of this photo, extolling the progress made in Iraq, indicates a new wave of honesty in the media. I think it's just part of the new 'declare victory and go home' meme.

Andrew Sullivan nails it when he notes that the left is desperately eager for the project to fail. It is rather amusing to watch them flip flop between cries of "Quagmire!" and declaring that the job is done.

@8:04 AM

Friday, September 12, 2003- - -  
A little something to really stink up the joint
Well, Girl Potato and Boy Potato had eyes for each other, and finally they got married, and had a little sweet potato, which they called Yam. Of course, they wanted the best for Yam.

When it was time, they told her about the facts of life. They warned her about going out and getting half-baked, so she wouldn't get accidentally mashed, and get a bad name for herself like 'Hot Potato,' and end up with a bunch of Tater Tots. Yam said not to worry, no Spud would get her into the sack and make a rotten potato out of her! But on the other hand she wouldn't stay home and become a Couch Potato either.

She would get plenty of exercise so as not to be skinny like her Shoestring cousins.

When she went off to Europe, Mr. and Mrs. Potato told Yam to watch out for the hard-boiled guys from Ireland. And the greasy guys from France called the French Fries. And when she went out west, to watch out for the Indians so she wouldn't get scalloped.

Yam said she would stay on the straight and narrow and wouldn't associate with those high class Yukon Golds, or the ones from the other side of the tracks who advertise their trade on all the trucks that say, 'Frito Lay.'

Mr. and Mrs. Potato sent Yam to Idaho P.U. (that's Potato University) so that when she graduated she'd really be in the Chips. But in spite of all they did for her, one-day Yam came home and announced she was going to marry Tom Brokaw.

Tom Brokaw! Mr. and Mrs. Potato were very upset. They told Yam she couldn't possibly marry Tom Brokaw because he's just........................

Are you ready for this?

OK! Here it is!


Thanks dad, that was truly offal.

Ps. As usual with jokes that make the internet rounds, there's no attribution on this, but somehow I don't think anyone will be standing up to claim it either.

@1:02 PM

Can't explain this
Today's totally unscientific CalgarySun on-line poll asks: Do you feel terrorism is more of a threat to North America than it was one year ago? 64.1% respond 'Yes'.

I would have thought that after two full years without a major attack in North America people would be starting to feel more secure. This would suggest that my assumption is wrong. Are people out there cringing in wait for the other shoe to drop? Quién Sabe?

@8:39 AM

Ah, the joys of the Internet
The pleasure is fleeting, the positions ridiculous, and the cost exhorbitant!
(With suitable apologies to George Bernard Shaw, or was it Lord Chesterfield, or perhaps Samuel Johnson? Oh, hell, I'll just apologize to all of them, and to Ben Franklin too, he usually said things like that.)

At any rate, it appears that the email system at my ISP is now totally belly-up, so I'll apologize to James Rummel, Capt. Heinrichs, Mark Thompson, Mike (Whippet9), my dad, and everyone else who is trying to email me or waiting for a response -- I ain't getting it and I can't answer. Grrr!

Ps. Yeah! Whatever the problem, it appears to have healed itself. I'm frantically responding to correspondence before it goes down again...

@8:17 AM

Mark Thompson emails some comments to an earlier post:

You said:
"I just can't help thinking that solar cells can be had for around $1 per watt, so that 200 watt panel is about the price of four tanks of diesel."

Well, yes. But go to google and type: 1 horsepower in watts

200 watts is about 1/4 horsepower. In cruise, a car needs on the order of 30 horsepower. Sunlight is *really* not very dense in energy terms, and even very good solar cells are not very efficient.

Using electricity to make hydrogen (and oxygen) out of water is also not very efficient.

It's too bad, because it would be _very_ keen if solar-powered everything was possible, but having enough cells to power more than trivial applications is expensive, and uses a lot of space.

Yes, your basic Detroit/Tokyo iron needs considerable energy to move it down the road.  However, pay a visit to someplace like Sun City, northwest of Phoenix and see how many retirees you see cruising around in electric golf carts & such.  A car, as we know it, isn't really necessary for powered transportation in urban areas.

If you want an electric Cadillac you are going to wait for a while for the technology to make that possible -- if it ever is -- but an electric urban transporter?  Very do-able.  The little old lady next door rides her electric scooter all over town.  It's designed to provide mobility to the handicapped, but you don't need to be handicapped to ride one.

A few years ago my wife and I invested in a huge old 5th wheel camper with all the trimmings -- satellite dish on the roof, shower and tub, a virtually house-sized refrigerator, etc.  A plush unit.  I was struck by how many 12 volt appliances are available at your local RV store, and how many normally electric appliances -- like refrigerators -- will run on a tiny bit of propane.  12 volt florescent lights give plenty of light, and I can take my Ben & Jerry's with me, thank you.

With the exception of the microwave and TV -- which aren't really necessary -- all the electric appliances in our trailer run from a single 12 volt deep-cycle battery, which could be easily recharged with a 200 watt solar cell.  I haven't bothered with that because water and sewer hookups make life so much more plush, so I might as well hook into 110 as well.  If we had to forgo the 110 hookup I could slap 1000 watts of solar cells on the roof, install a couple more batteries and an inverter, and run the TV and nuke unit too.

The moral of the story -- if there is one -- is that how much power we need is driven by the efficiency and design of our vehicles and appliances, and some very efficient appliances are available for those who are willing to pay for them -- they do cost 2-3 times what normal 110 volt appliances do, but it's also a matter of supply and demand -- they are specialty items for the relatively well-to-do at present and made in low quantities.

Certainly for most folks it's cheaper -- and easier -- to hook to the grid and fill their Ford at the Mini-Mart.  But the technology for much more efficient vehicles and appliances is there, and it's getting better.  It's as much a matter of changing the paradigm for power use -- Caddie v. urban transporter -- as in developing better ways to produce power.

@7:45 AM

Capt. JM Heinrichs writes in response to a recent post: "No battle plan survives contact with the enemy." That is a quote from von Moltke who evidently passed it on to his students at the War Academy. The version I know is "No plan survives first contact with the enemy." What the date would be, I'm not certain. I have a collection of his writings and the sentence appears in several places, thus probably 1855-1875. Another one I enjoy runs something like: "When you have identified the three possible courses for the enemy to follow, rest assured he will select a fourth."

Murphy, a plagiarist?

Thanks for the reference, a brief Google failed to produce a citation.  I've heard some variation on this wag many times, in various forms, and suspect it has its roots all the way back in the teachings of Sun-tzu, who extolled the virtues of surprise and of confusing the enemy.

My favorite: Murphy was an optimist!

@7:03 AM

Thursday, September 11, 2003- - -  
Whoa Nellie!
And I thought I was in a particularly black mood today. James Lileks expresses some feelings I think all of us have had, and he's more eloquent than anyone has a right to be. If you don't read anything else today go read him now. I read it twice.

@6:03 PM

Oh, Mr. Fisk! Is there a Fisk in the house?
I don't usually do this, but today was not the day for this BS:

Richard Cohen, writing in today's Washington Post says: Particularly on foreign policy, George Bush has been all over the place. [Yep. Afghanistan, Iraq… Who knows where he'll go next?] During the presidential campaign, he denigrated nation-building -- he would do no such thing. Now we are up to our eyeballs in building a nation in Iraq, where, it could be argued, there never was one to begin with. The gun, not the ballot box, is what held that nation together. [And your point is what exactly? That two planes crashing into the WTC shouldn't have changed the situation even just a teeny bit?]

Bush and company disparaged the United Nations. Now we seek its imprimatur for the occupation of Iraq.
[Yes, of course, that's why we dithered around for months waiting for the UN to get around to enforcing their… how many resolutions? Absolutely no reason to disparage them for failing to put their hummingbird butts behind their pro wrestler mouths, none at all.] The administration told our European allies -- the "Old" Europe of Don Rumsfeld's scorn -- to kiss off. [You'd rather we kissed. . . just what?] Now we'd like their troops and money for the effort in Iraq. [Yes, we refused their help earlier, didn't we?] Rumsfeld, in fact, became the face of a new, pugnacious diplomacy -- our way or the highway -- which now has been muted. [Well, Rumsfeld is the Secretary of Defense, I suppose that makes pugnacious diplomacy his job. And the Marines are going very quietly about their business in Iraq. Very quietly. Saddam has hardly noticed they are there.] The administration has gone from Jerry Springer to Dale Carnegie in a wink -- from in-your-face to kissy-poo, just like that. [Yes, and hopefully we'll give our friends the Saudis a big smack next. Right on the lips. With a few cruise missiles.]

… [So much more to Fisk and so little time. We shall cut to the chase.]

America is not a particularly ideological country. We simply like the job done, and pragmatism is generally admired. But foreign affairs is not Tom Edison's laboratory -- if this won't work, maybe that will -- but an area where lives are lost and nations suffer. It is not a field for amateurs or zealots -- and the Bush administration is proving itself to have a surplus of both.
[Yes, yes, there are so many so much more experienced at fighting terrorism. Care to name one?]

George Bush won last time out because Al Gore lost.
[Say now, that's profound!] He won at a time when the world seemed safe, when it was unimaginable that the World Trade Center would become a hole in the ground. He won because he seemed the more genuine man, an aw-shucks guy who we could take a chance on. [What? More genuine than Big Honest 'who am I today' Al? Say it ain't so!] We took the chance. [Who's this 'we' paleface? Are you saying you voted for him?]

But these recent changes in course -- the dash to the U.N., the revised costs of rebuilding Iraq -- may represent Bush's last chance.
[In your dreams, at least.] In diplomacy, in foreign affairs, in the waging of war and maybe in protecting America, he has made mistake after mistake. Like Henry Ford II, he may never complain and he may never explain. But when you look back, there's still a wreck in the road.

You bet. Bush has made mistake after mistake, the big dummy! That's why we haven't had another major terrorist attack on US soil in two full years now. That's the mark of a true amateur alright. Why if we had only elected Big Honest Al he'd have done so, so much better. Now go wipe those chad off your chin.

@5:03 PM

Ashcroft's worst nightmare
Washington Post -- … they err in making Mr. Ashcroft their all-purpose bogeyman. Tuesday night Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry -- who at least has the good grace to acknowledge his vote in favor of the Patriot Act -- noted, as he surveyed the debate audience, that there were "people from every background, every creed, every color, every belief, every religion. This is, indeed, John Ashcroft's worst nightmare here." Mr. Kerry got his laugh, but he sullied himself in the process.

Democrats have enough to run on against President Bush. They don't need to ignore their records, stray from the facts or take such cheap shots to make their case.

A cheap shot? Or an irresistible target that's just too big to miss? Brutal ridicule seems a fitting tribute to a politician who lost his last election to a dead man. (Oops, I suppose that was a cheap shot too. Oh, the remorse I feel.)

@1:19 PM

Why, if she were a man, I'd. . .
Not have to say anything, because she'd know better than to spout such nonsense. And if she didn't know better she would be verbally beaten about the head and shoulders every time she opened her mouth until she learned better.

Col. Sue Slavec, formerly in charge of cadet discipline at the Air Force Academy, says she never knew of a "true rape" at the academy but was aware of a boozy "frat culture" at the school that led to "nonconsensual activity." [emphasis added]

Col. Sue Slavec, who was ousted as training group commander as the sexual-assault scandal at the school heated up last spring, said that in the cases she was aware of, there was "contributing flirtatious activity."

"I've never been party to or witnessed somebody who ... who was taken by force, if you look at that end of the spectrum, a true rape or a true violent assault, I've never seen that happen," Slavec told investigators dispatched to the school earlier this year to investigate sexual assault.

Let's see, if the gal wasn't wearing a calf-length skirt -- oh, and let's just throw in a chastity belt too -- and doesn't come out of the ordeal with a couple of black eyes and various bruises and contusions it's just good ol' boozy fraternity fun?

Self-serving troglodyte.

Ps. Do go read The Rest of the Story. It is an alarming indictment.

PPs. #$%@#$%!!! I can not let this pass.
Excerpts from the Sue Slavec interview:

Question: 'Are you aware of academy definitions of sexual assault?'

Answer: 'No'.

Sweet Jesus. Col. Slavec was in charge of cadet discipline. I wonder if she is aware of the military definition of dereliction of duty? And lest we think she alone holds blame in this:

* The former academy superintendent, Lt. Gen. John Dallager, said that in the summer of 2002, an Air Force officer who oversaw cadets was a "peeping Tom" and that a faculty member was having sex with two male cadets.

* Dallager, who was demoted as he retired this summer because of the scandal, also told investigators that sexual harassment at the academy was worse than in any other Air Force unit he'd been in.

* The former commandant of cadets, Brig. Gen. S. Taco Gilbert, said that a series of surveys showing an "alarming" number of sexual assaults was lost in the crush of daily business.

Lost in the crush of daily business? And so far all we've seen come of this is a handful of transfers and one demotion on retirement? What I see here is a bunch of very senior and very select officers who appear to have known damn well what was going on and just about broke their necks looking the other way. If this had been going on in a line troop barracks with a captain and a couple of lieutenants in charge those officers would be in irons right now, along with their entire NCO staff. But these mealy mouthed asshats can say 'oh, we were aware of the problem, in fact it was the worst we'd ever seen, but the crush of daily business got in the way of doing something about it, and besides, it was just good clean fun'?

Get a rope.

@8:12 AM

Licia Corbella, editor of the CalgarySun, has an excellent remembrance of September 11th, 2001.

It is well to remember today that the radical Islamists do not hate us because of anything we have done to them. They hate us because we refuse to bow to their particularly benighted version of religion. We can not bargain with them, we can not buy them off, we can not appease them short of submitting to Sharia law.

But when they attack us we can hunt them down and kill them. We must hunt them down and rip them up root and branch until no more exist who would perpetrate such atrocities in the name of their twisted religion. Then and only then will we know that the war on terror is over.

@7:49 AM

Wednesday, September 10, 2003- - -  
Bomb Belt Barbie
Obviously the Saudis simply haven't seen all the possibilities here. Or perhaps they have. David Gillies posts a particularly bad one at Bill Quick's:

Mother in store: Does this Barbie come with Ken?

Sales Assistant: No, she comes with GI Joe. She fakes it with Ken.

@7:28 PM

Howard Dean on Guns
Best of the Web Today says: Howard Dean deviates from liberal orthodoxy on one issue: gun rights. Coming from Vermont, the state with the nation's least restrictive gun laws, Dean holds a genuinely moderate position. He opposes new federal gun-control laws, but he also believes the 10th Amendment trumps the Second and that states have the authority to pass whatever gun laws they see fit.

Hmm… The feds have never had any problem that I can see with states passing laws that are more strict than the federal law. That's what they mean by the 10th trumping the 2nd, I suppose. The opposite is not true however. We in Wyoming for instance cannot say 'hey, we don't need all that' and vote for fewer laws.

One wonders what would happen if the same principle were applied to the 1st Amendment.

@7:26 PM

Super cheap mags!
I got a Cheaper than Dirt catalog today and they're having a super good sale on magazines. Colt brand 1911 7 round mags for 7.97! Twenty and thirty-round mags for your AR-15 or Mini-14 for $10!! And a whole lot of other magazines for just about anything, all on sale for the best prices I've seen in quite awhile. Couldn't have anything to do with the sunset of the assault weapons ban... But it's unlikely you'll get mags at a better price even if you wait for the blessed event. So trot on over to Bill Quick's (support your favorite bloggers!!) and click on through from there for some real bargains.

@3:57 PM

Go Cowboys!
Unfortunately, the C'boys won't be losing to playing the Volunteers this fall, and even if they did it would only be half as politically incorrect as in years past, since Pistol Pete is. . . Well, just Pete now.

@12:07 PM

FCC Says Howard Stern Show is News Program
Hey, that's only fair, they've already ruled that Jerry Springer qualifies as a news program.

Guys, there's a reason they call it dope. . .

@11:42 AM

Fair and Balanced
Gotta love 'em. While FoxNews is running articles with some delightfully airheaded quotes from the dwarves, and the favorite song of each, their balancing article on the Prez is headed: Bush Campaigning on National Security Issues.

@10:55 AM

No wonder they call them the nine dwarves
FoxNews has select quotes from each of the Democratic presidential candidates that are just too, too much. The best, with just a little help from me:

"We are witnessing a nonmilitary civil war. It started with the recount in Florida, it went to the redistricting in Texas, now it's the recount in California. ... I'm a man of action. And unlike Schwarzenegger, I never had a stunt mouth man do my hard work."
-- Al Sharpton

@10:48 AM

Favorite songs they've never heard
Today's FoxNews reports on the nine dwarves' favorite songs. (Hey! Stop laughing, this is important stuff!)

I've got to wonder if Dick Gephardt has ever listened to the lyrics of Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA:

Born down in a dead man's town
The first kick I took was when I hit the ground
You end up like a dog that's been beat too much
Till you spend half your life just covering up

Born in the U.S.A.
I was born in the U.S.A.
I was born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.

Got in a little hometown jam
So they put a rifle in my hand
Sent me off to a foreign land
To go and kill the yellow man

Come back home to the refinery
Hiring man says "Son if it was up to me"
Went down to see my V.A. man
He said "Son, don't you understand"

I had a brother at Khe Sahn fighting off the Viet Cong
They're still there, he's all gone

He had a woman he loved in Saigon
I got a picture of him in her arms now

Down in the shadow of the penitentiary
Out by the gas fires of the refinery
I'm ten years burning down the road
Nowhere to run ain't got nowhere to go

It's not quite the patriotic anthem he probably imagines.

@10:35 AM

John Poindexter thinks he's invaluable. I think he's just priceless.

Says he: The most damaging myth concerns the role of Darpa, which has conducted high-risk, high-payoff research and development since its founding in 1958. Darpa builds tools; it does not use them. It develops technology and tests it; the technology either works or it doesn't.

"Vonce the rockets are up, who cares vere they come down? That's not my department, says Werner von Braun." Thank you Tom Lehrer, for an obviously timeless piece of wisdom.

Ps. My wife is off to her monthly Friends of the Library Board meeting, where she and all the other little old ladies in tennis shoes* will spend a couple of hours shredding and deleting in honor of the Admiral and his comrades who would defend us too well.

*Today she's a little old lady in Ladybug Boots -- it's raining cats and dogs.

@9:09 AM

Fairly Unbalanced
Nicholas Kristof has more on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge:

It's also only fair to give special weight to the views of the only people who live in the coastal plain: the Inupiat Eskimos, who overwhelmingly favor drilling (they are poor now, and oil could make them millionaires). One of the Eskimos, Bert Akootchook, angrily told me that if environmentalists were so anxious about the Arctic, they should come here and clean up the petroleum that naturally seeps to the surface of the tundra.

Yet drilling proponents who dismiss the coastal plain as a wasteland — Alaska's governor, Frank Murkowski, has likened it to a sheet of white paper — are talking drivel.

They should have been with me as I sleepily opened the tent flap early one morning to see a herd of caribou outside, or beheld the polar bears swimming along the coast, or admired a huge grizzly as it considered dining on nearby musk oxen.

Drilling supporters also grossly understate the impact of drilling when they speak of only a 2,000-acre "footprint" in the Arctic. The reality is that oil would mean roads, lodgings, pipelines, security fences, guard stations and airstrips — and my children would never be able to experience the Arctic as I have.
[emphasis added]

Could it be that he really believes that this is the last bit of wild land in the entire arctic? Maybe he was sleeping when the plane flew him over all those miles of wilderness to get to the ANWR? Whatever. In an effort to appear Fair and Balanced he states that both the oil industry and environmentalists exaggerate their cases, but then offers his own wee exaggeration.

One of the record-keeping organizations for trophy big game hunting is the Boone and Crockett Club, which I've always found a bit ironic because both Boone and Crockett were suspected of stretching the truth a tiny bit from time to time. I'd suggest that if the Boone and Crockett Club had a category for environmental fibs, that Kristof has produced a record book whopper in this report.

@8:57 AM

Jerome emails: Read your post on energy production and storage… some people have been using biodiesel, which is basically vegetable-based oil modified chemically to be used in diesel engines. It's a renewable energy source, and you won't be releasing any extra carbon-dioxide into the air since plants get the CO2 from the air as well.

This is definitely not an endorsement on biodiesel products, just my comment on the post, that's all. :)

The best part, I'm told, is that using recycled restaurant grease makes your exhaust smell like french freedom fries. This has got to be a vast improvement over the current stench of diesel fumes. I do have to wonder how efficient the production of biodiesel is, however. If it's anything like methanol motor fuels it may well take more hydrocarbon fuel to refine it than it replaces. Still, if the use of hydrocarbons can be minimized it sounds like a great idea.

@8:13 AM

Put your foot in this bucket. . .
Surprise is a fundamental principle of warfare. In part we draw from this the corollary to Murphy's Law regarding warfare: No battle plan survives contact with the enemy. This isn't some trite excuse for failure, it simply acknowledges that by its very nature warfare is full of surprises, setbacks, and unexpected triumphs, and underscores the need for flexibility, adaptability, and initiative. It also warns against becoming hide-bound and predictable.

Thus, I suppose, it should come as no surprise that the Democrats are demanding that the administration produce plans, schedules, and budgets for the war on terror. I suspect that they don't ask for these things because they think it will help the effort, but rather because they know full well that rigid plans and schedules and budgets will almost inevitably go awry. It gives them the opportunity to complain now that the cost is too high and the plan is too vague, and another opportunity to whack the Prez later when his crystal ball proves defective.

But them I'm a cynic.

@7:51 AM

Tupperware for the Twenty-first Century?
Today's CalgarySun has a two part series (1, 2) on parties to promote bedroom toys. Apparently the heavy equipment is particularly popular.

@7:01 AM

Tuesday, September 09, 2003- - -  
More on solar and hydrogen power
The Feces Flinging Monkey emails with some comments on my earlier post:

The problem with hydrogen fuel cells is a simple one - there is no naturally-occurring free hydrogen anywhere on earth. Hydrogen is *not* an energy source, it is an energy storage media. Think of a hydrogen fuel cells as just a fancy batteries and everything becomes quite clear. You can "charge" them with electricity or with other fuel sources like LNG, but you are not really gaining anything, you are just repackaging it.

Not only are they just batteries, but they are quite inefficient ones at that. You only get a fraction of the energy out of them that you put into them.

Fuel cells are wonderful for some applications - I hope my next laptop is powered with one - but my car? I'd much rather have a gasoline/electric hybrid.

And you don't want a solar car for the same reason you don't want a solar washing machine - power from the grid is cheaper, easier, and more reliable, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. A 4x4 solar panel puts out something like 200 watts, right? It'd take days to charge your car enough just to go across town. Even if they were 100% efficient, they would still be ineffective. Sunlight simply doesn't have all that much energy in it to begin with.

> It'd take days to charge your car enough just to go across town.

I suspect that this depends on the size of your town and how often you drive across it ;^}

But seriously, these are very good points.  Perhaps 'they' are right that 'hydrogen is the fuel of the future and always will be'.  I just can't help thinking that solar cells can be had for around $1 per watt, so that 200 watt panel is about the price of four tanks of diesel.  I wouldn't mind covering the entire car in them if that's what it takes.  Also, my little one car garage has enough space on the roof for 20 200 watt panels if that would help.

You are absolutely correct that hydrogen should be looked at as a way to store energy.  It is indeed crazy to use fossil fuel-generated energy to create hydrogen to power fuel cell vehicles, except perhaps in very limited applications where pollution must be absolutely minimized.  But as little energy as there is in sunlight, it is essentially free once the cost of the solar cells is amortized.  However, it might be more efficient to store the electricity directly in batteries rather than as hydrogen, and there is definitely a safety factor to consider.

Another factor to consider though: Fossil fuels aren't renewable and will only become more expensive.  Given the range of manufactured goods that derive from petroleum, I imagine that at some point in the future people will be appalled that we burned it for motor and heating fuel.

So. . . if at some point fossil fuels become too rare and precious to burn for heat and transportation, what does that leave us?  Barring some incredible new invention, it leaves hydroelectric (here I'd include tidal energy, in-stream generation, etc), nuclear energy (and we definitely need to be open to using more of that energy source), geothermal, solar and wind energy, and maybe a few oddballs like organic methane (termite farts, the wave of the future!).  Granted solar and wind are relatively inefficient, but we'd darn well better figure out how to make all sorts of power generation more efficient and make the distribution and use of energy more efficient all around as well.

The good news is, we are making more efficient appliances and vehicles, or you wouldn't be able to consider a fuel cell-powered laptop (I remember when computers filled the whole basement of big buildings and the uninterruptible power supply was a big diesel engine).  I've also got friends who are working on making better solar cells and wind power turbines, and they report great progress -- like 100% more efficient solar cells in the last ten years.  If these guys were garage tinkerers I'd be skeptical, but they work for some of the big energy companies.

The other good news is, these same guys are finding new petroleum reserves all the time and we aren't going to run out any time soon.  Certainly alternative energies are very speculative at present and some probably won't ever pan out.  The most often proffered model of hydrogen energy -- burn fossil fuel to make electricity, use the electricity to crack hydrogen -- is simply nuts.  *That* never will be efficient unless we repeal the laws of thermodynamics.

>And you don't want a solar car for the same reason you don't want a solar washing machine - power from the grid is cheaper, easier, and more reliable, and will remain so for the foreseeable future.

Yes, and no.  Power from the grid is cheaper if you happen to be near the grid.  When you consider that a single wooden power pole costs about $3000, you don't have to be too far off the grid before solar starts looking pretty darn good.  In fact, solar-powered homes are quite do-able and are becoming popular in rural areas now that the Rural Electric Associations don't build power lines for free any more.

And that's in the rural US.  A big part of the rural third world doesn't have an electric grid and probably won't ever have one.  That we have electricity off the grid out here in the hinterlands of the US is largely due to huge government subsidies of the REAs, something we can't expect of third world countries.  Yet the folks who live in those countries *want* all the modern conveniences and not having those things is one of the seeds of discontent that leads to things like terrorism.  I think it would behoove us to find some way to improve the standard of living around the world.  Yet, it's simply unfeasible for all six billion people to have the same gas guzzling cars and fossil fuel-generated electricity that we use.  Then we really would run out of fossil fuels.

@6:10 PM

Graduate student labor unions
FoxNews -- … the University of Pennsylvania is tied up in its own student union fight, with many Ph.D. candidates demanding the right to unionize -- and university officials trying to squash the movement.

Unions have helped grad students, most of them Ph.D.s, get higher stipends, better health care benefits and other improvements in their working conditions -- like offices where they can prepare for classes and meet with undergraduates.

But the university says a union will compromise the educational, apprenticeship nature of the graduate programs and put a wedge in the relationship between student (mentee) and faculty member (mentor).

"The University of Pennsylvania, along with every other major private university, is defending the fundamental academic principle that graduate students are students, not employees," said Penn spokesman Peter Conn.

Clara Lovett, president and CEO of the American Association for Higher Education — who has been on both the graduate student and university administrator side of the fence — said her stance on the issue has changed.

"I used to think graduate students were apprentices learning scholarship and not employees in the normal sense of the word," Lovett said. "But over the last 20 years or so, we have turned graduate students into a very significant and very underpaid part of the academic workforce.

"Whether organizing unions is a good idea, I don't know — but I understand why they want to be heard," said Lovett.

Oddly enough, if the U of Penn or any other university really wanted to make a distinction between students and employees all they have to do is stop using grad students for grunt labor, and worse, as student lecturers. I won't hold my breath until that happens though, it's too good of a deal for the universities. I too am not sure that unions are the way to solve the problem, but I do admit to experiencing a considerable measure of schadenfreude when any university is faced with the threat of unionization. University spokespeople extolling the virtues of the current system are more than a little reminiscent of an antebellum slaveholder explaining how well he treats the darkies. "Yes, they have everything they could want and I don't beat them much."

@11:37 AM

One hearty belly laugh please, for the poor undone Democrats.
NY Times -- President Bush's political guru, Karl Rove, has made no secret of his determination to squeeze every edge out of the statehouses held by the G.O.P., even to the point of reopening the redistricting issue beyond the usual 10-year census limit. A similar move was passed in Colorado as Mr. Rove lobbied to protect a marginal freshman Republican. As the Colorado Supreme Court takes up the issue, we urge that the remapping plan be struck down before this nasty political tactic spreads.

The more the G.O.P. persists in this, the more it hands the Democrats traction for their charge that Republicans are mischievously specializing — as in the California recall — in undoing normal elective processes.

I couldn't have said it any better than Darrell Arey of Aurora Colorado: I find it interesting that the Democratic Party feels that only it should be responsible for redistricting following a census, and that when that responsibility falls to the Republican Party, it becomes a conspiracy aimed at taking away the voting power of minorities.

@10:59 AM

Our tax dollars at work
Washington Post -- The National Research Council, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences that usually advises Congress about global warming, cancer and other weighty issues, yesterday released a 447-page report entitled "Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats," the first comprehensive update of canine and feline nutrition since 1986.

Now this is serious science. Among the words of wisdom summarized from this 'dense tome': To determine if a dog or cat is overweight, owners should squeeze them to see if they can feel their ribs. If not, the pet is probably overweight. Another technique is to look at the animal from above and see if the "waist is easily noted." If not, the animal is probably too fat.

I just tried squeezing Fred Feliné. No, I can't feel his ribs and he does have a noticeable 'waist', 20 pounds-worth in fact, so I suppose this is good advice, at least for those too terminally dense to figure this out without a 447-page scientific study.

@9:22 AM

Thinking the unthinkable
The predictably liberal DenverPost editorializes that the salaries of public employees should be cut. However, it's the police department under scrutiny here, so it's hard to say whether it's a new found taste for fiscal responsibility or just liberal animosity toward law enforcement.

@9:19 AM

Too much corporate thinking?
Fuel cell automobiles are in the Denver news today.

Analysts say hydrogen's enormous potential is offset by current technological limitations that make its use economically unfeasible in most applications.

Developing efficient ways to produce, transport and store hydrogen are expected to take decades and billions of dollars.

I find the stated difficulties odd. The fuel cell is a simple concept, and anyone who's taken high school chemistry knows how to make hydrogen by electrolysis. Granted, solar cells are expensive and require considerable amounts of material and energy to produce, nor would solar-powered electrolysis be the solution for everyone (think 'parking garage'). But a vehicle powered by hydrogen produced on-board with a solar cell could be a big hit in sunny climes and I fail to see why development should take decades and cost billions when the technology is essentially there.

It seems from the DP article and various others that I've read that the main problem is too much thinking in the box. No one seems to consider an on-board solar cell as the prime source of hydrogen, harnessing the sun's energy to do something besides making your car hot inside. Rather, the hang-up is in how to commercially produce, store, ship and dispense hydrogen -- a service station model -- where the problems may indeed be huge.

I'm sure there are myriad other problems to be considered, among them all that water being produced. If you simply dump it on the ground it would become a mess in cold climates and could uncomfortably increase humidity in congested areas. Likewise, storing water in a vehicle could be a problem in winter. Hydrogen produced commercially would probably be needed to supplement on-board solar production for the parking garage set and for more intensive applications, and as noted in the DP article, this is currently expensive -- more energy is used to produce hydrogen than is returned by the fuel cell vehicle -- so it is possible that hydrogen fuel wouldn't be useful in all applications.

And then let's not forget that hydrogen is extremely explosive, the 800-pound gorilla thwarting the use of hydrogen as a fuel. If Ralph Nader didn't like Pintos, I can only imagine how he would feel about a car-full of hydrogen gas. Still, the danger increases with the quantity of hydrogen in question. A solar hydrogen vehicle producing only enough hydrogen for immediate use would seem to me more safe than hauling and storing tankers-full of the stuff. Whether it would be safe enough is another question.

A fascinating concept at any rate, and as the price of gasoline goes up hydrogen looks better and better.

@7:43 AM

Poor polling procedure
Today's totally unscientific CalgarySun on-line poll asks: Based on last night's performance, do you think Calgary's Billy Klippert will win Canadian Idol? I couldn't answer this one, as it needed a third response besides just 'Yes' and 'No'. 'Who Cares?' would be my suggestion.

@6:45 AM

Good old American ingenuity
Here's an invention that ranks high on my list of 'why didn't I think of that' items. The Bikini Genie. What I wouldn't know if I didn't read the Billings Gazette.

@6:34 AM

Thursday, September 04, 2003- - -  
The Gastropod Liberation Organization?
My wife says "Where do I sign up?" (Her Master's is in invertebrate paleontology) Unfortunately a quick google failed to return any hits.

@2:26 PM

Time for the Deacons
The InstaPundit's Klan with a Koran idea has gotten me thinking that what we need in this situation are organizations in the Islamic states that parallel the Deacons for Defense and Justice. Thugs and bully boys tend to slink away when their intended victims arm themselves.

Of course our government doesn't seem to think much of the idea of self defense here in the US, it's unlikely that they would even consider supporting citizen self defense overseas.

@12:19 PM

Take my life, I need the money!
Via Jay Solo via Jeff Soyer, commenter Mark asks Jay Reding: We're all ears waiting for you to explain how you plan to pay for new space technology [to save us in the event of impending asteroid impact] on top layers upon layers of trillion dollar tax cuts for the wealthy, new prescription drug entitlements, a billion-dollar-a-week war and another multi-million-dollar-a-week war....besides cracking down on the blue-collar slobs so greedily accepting workers compensation when they get injured on the job.

Neither Jack Benny nor I made this up.

@8:18 AM

Colorado college attendance
According to this article in the DenverPost, Colorado, 'the most educated state' achieves much of this distinction due to immigration. "… Colorado sends only 26,000 -- 39 percent -- of its 66,000 high school freshmen to college within four years."

This compares to 59% in North Dakota (Consider the incentive: How else are you going to get the heck out of North Dakota?), and 54% in Massachusetts and New Jersey. Colorado ranks 30th in the nation at this statistic. It also ranks 30th in high school graduation, with 20 to 30% of high school freshmen not graduating. (The number varies depending on who's doing the counting.)

It appears that this statistic encompasses only students who enroll in college directly from high school, which overlooks the fact that 'non-traditional' students are making up more and more of incoming college classes. Farther along in the article it is noted that Colorado ranks 15th in the nation for enrolling 86% of its high school graduates to college, regardless of time since graduation.

If nothing else, this illustrates the range of results and conclusions that can be drawn from studying the statistics on a given population.

@7:56 AM

GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) -- Police arrested a man for kidnapping his neighbor's cat and holding it for $50 after the animal wandered into his yard.

Deryl Miles, 55, was taken into custody Tuesday on misdemeanor larceny charges after being accused of trapping the cat, named Brunswick, in a wooden shed behind his mobile home, according to court documents.

Surrounded by police, Miles called a local newspaper from his trailer and said "I've taken (the cat) legally because it was trespassing on my property."

Miles refused to release the cat, and was arrested after leading police on a brief chase around his yard, court documents stated.

You can't make this stuff up.

@7:02 AM

Wednesday, September 03, 2003- - -  
The Klan with a Koran
What can I say but Indeed™.

@7:58 PM

Apologies? Ha!
Jeff at Alphecca promises to clean up his act, apologizing for his cursing, erratic writing style, and alcohol-fueled rants. I hadn't noticed any cursing or erratic writing, nor would I be in any position to criticize if I had, and I'll have to take his word for the alcohol, it doesn't show.

I suppose I'm frequently guilty of two out of the three infractions myself, and occasionally the third, although I do most of my blogging first thing in the morning, so rather than an excess of alcohol my most common problem is a lack of sufficient caffeine. Still, I'm a cretin (some might say 'by trade') and unapologetic in the extreme.

Personally, I think my lack of social graces is my most endearing feature. Think of me as a superannuated urchin. Neither cute nor astute, I'd as well be a brute, that is, myself. So there!

@7:27 PM

The righteousness of war
MSReynolds has a post on the war in Iraq that has elicited some interesting comment, particularly regarding the Bush administration's PR mistakes.

I think the administration's biggest mistake in that arena is in not making it absolutely clear that war in Iraq is an integral and necessary step in the greater war on terror. I suspect that this has not been made more clear because it begs the question 'what then is the next step, something the administration may not be willing to discuss at present.

@7:05 PM

The Horror!
Some interesting Letters to the Editor in today's DenverPost regarding the redistricting fights in Texas and Colorado.

Says Darrell Arey of Aurora: I find it interesting that the Democratic Party feels that only it should be responsible for redistricting following a census, and that when that responsibility falls to the Republican Party, it becomes a conspiracy aimed at taking away the voting power of minorities.

Now, now, Republicans are evil by definition. Didn't you know that?

Robert Sampron of Littleton responds: The Post reported that Republican State Sen. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, has no sympathy for the Texas Democratic senators seeking support in Colorado while they live in exile in New Mexico.

Sen. Lamborn, if you and your party had real courage, you would not have sponsored the bill redistricting Colorado so almost every congressional race pits a Mike Tyson/heavyweight-sized Republican Party constituency against a lightweight-sized Democratic one.

Gee. There will be a huge Republican majority in almost every district? That must have been quite a trick considering that the peepul are solidly Democratic. What are they doing, trucking in militiamen from Idaho?

Jeb Bennett from Bouldah writes: Thoughtful Democrats and Republicans alike should be outraged at the power-grabbing tactics decreed by presidential adviser Karl Rove and U.S. House Majority Leader Tom Delay to try to redraw congressional district lines in Colorado and Texas.

Imagine the chaos that would ensue if anytime a power shift occurred in a state legislature, the congressional lines were redrawn.

Why of course! It's all an evil plot by the Bush administration. It was particularly tricky of them to write the provisions for redistricting into the Constitution over 200 years ago. How did they do it?

@8:22 AM

Rest in Green Peace
Denver Post -- Alarmed by the amount of chemicals, concrete and metals buried in cemeteries and at the amount of water used each year to keep the grounds lush, nature lovers are looking for more Earth-friendly ways to rest in peace and scouting for burial grounds that respect the environment.

Send Me to Glory in a Glad Bag

People tell me that I ought to save my money
So that I could be laid away in style,
In a walnut box with all the fancy trimmin's
Vacuum sealed to keep me fresh a while.

cho. But Send me to Glory in a glad bag.
Don't waste a fancy coffin on my bones.
Just put me out on the curb next Tuesday
Let the sanitation workers bear me home.

I don't need a fancy funeral
Flowers and tears and all that jive
When I'm dead that won't impress me
Just buy me a beer while I'm alive.

There's trouble at the sanitary landfill
It's filling up with permanent debris,
So make my glad bag out of corn not plastic
So it will decompose along with me.

If I should die upon the eve of Christmas
Place my glad bag by the Chistmas tree;
And when the children open all their presents,
The big surprise will be the death of me.

Sell all my worldly possessions
And buy yourself a case or two of Pabst.
Let the empties be my memorial tombstone.
Engrave them with this epitath:

Now it may be that I am not bound for Glory,
But to another place I would not choose;
So if it seems that I'm headed that direction,
An oven bag would be the thing to use.

copyright 1979 by Don & Mim Carlson, Steve Mason
Blue River Valley Publishing Co. (BMI)

Yep. Definitely an oven bag for me.

@7:52 AM

POW Jessica Lynch signs a book deal. It will be interesting to see how they pull this off, considering she doesn't remember the events of her capture. Says Lynch:

“I feel I owe them all this story, which will be about more than a girl going off to war and fighting alongside her fellow soldiers. It will be a story about growing up in America.”

I hope it's a best seller.

@7:41 AM

Yes, Yes, punish those Canadians. How dare they export anything other than snow storms?

@7:25 AM

More wilderness!
If you can stand it. Kenneth Hahn emails:

Greetings again from the "wilds" of Southern California. Just read your post about ANWAR. I'd like to propose a test. Ask anyone wanting to pontificate on the refuge what is the most common tree it contains. Anyone failing this test should be excluded from the discussion.

One always gets the feeling from the "preservationists" that ANWAR is a lush wilderness area, full of rich vegetation and numerous species of plants and animals. While it does contain some unique species, it is bleak beyond description. During the short Arctic summer it does turn green with moss and lichen. Animals do appear, even though they are mostly mosquitoes. During the long winter it is frozen, covered with snow.

Hmm… sounds like North Dakota. If I answer 'maybe a few stunted willows' do I get to continue?

I suppose beauty, like wilderness is in the eye of the beholder. We've been exploring the Wilderness Study Areas west of Worland, areas we didn't know existed a few weeks ago. We only knew it was a big area with very few and frequently impassible roads. This is a couple hundred square miles of badlands formed by erosion of the variegated red, tan, purple, and green mudstones and sandstones of the Eocene Willwood Formation. Being badlands, vast tracts of this area are virtually barren -- I promise you that it makes the ANWR look lush by comparison -- but it is outrageously beautiful. It's also probably as close to hiking on Mars as I'll ever get. 'Bleak' pretty well captures its essence. And the best part? There aren't any trees to block the view!

I'm not sure why we have this perception of wilderness as primeval forest, perhaps it's something in our genetic memory that goes back to our primate ancestors. Whatever the reason, it does seem oddly counterintuitive that there can be wilderness without trees. I will certainly grant that more barren landscapes appear less inviting -- it has taken me many years to come to an appreciation of some of Wyoming's scenery, and I'm sure most would look on my favorite areas as a wasteland.

Now if you want my vote for barren wasteland, I nominate Gary, Indiana.

@6:53 AM

Wolf! Wolf!
Jay Ambrose has an interesting take on environmental politics and the Bush administration's new rules regarding old power plants. It's well worth the read as an antidote to some of the hysteria that's seen print in the last few days. I couldn't let you miss this tidbit though:

[Steven Hayward, a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute] has been waging something of a campaign against environmental hysteria. It is not clear he is winning, although his mastery of vast amounts of data is impressive. The fact that has to strike anyone who follows these issues is that too many environmental groups too much of the time _ and on virtually all policy questions affecting the environment _ make it seem that there are only two sides, theirs and (I exaggerate a bit here) the side that does not mind destroying Earth and killing all living creatures.

Sadly, the extremism of these groups is often taken by the press as being scientifically valid and objective, while the position of opponents _ and especially of businesses _ is taken as representing nothing more than the pursuit of the Almighty Dollar.

Indeed™. Nicholas Kristof's OpEd on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which I commented on yesterday, is a case in point. Kristof was writing from the ANWR and extols the pristine scenery and wildlife of the place. I've never been there, but I'm sure it is spectacular. However, he strays far over the line into hyperbole in calling the ANWR "… the last great wilderness virtually untouched by humans other than Eskimos and Indians." This is simply not 'objectively valid' and is made doubly ridiculous in Kristof's case by the fact that he must have flown over many, many miles of equally untouched landscape to reach the ANWR. Perhaps it was cloudy that day and he imagined he was flying over some vast suburb? Whatever. He was uncritically regurgitating the all too common environmental party line wherein any piece of undeveloped land bigger than a WalMart parking lot and more than a stone's throw from the 'burbs becomes 'the last wilderness' when it is slated for development.

Make no mistake, I spend a great deal of time in the wilderness and I treasure the experience, the land, and the wildlife. I too would like to save every bit of it. However, unless we are willing to simply shut off the lights and heat, park the cars, and eat the tasty grubs we find under rocks, it is simply not possible to stop all development. Far better we should understand what economists with a libertarian bent have told us: That only a rich country with a robust economy can afford to even consider saving any of it.

Do I seem obsessed by wilderness? If so, the perception is not far from the reality. We'll be hiking into the Red Butte Wilderness Study Area later today.

@6:01 AM

Tuesday, September 02, 2003- - -  
Reminders of our mortality
I was just informed that a neighbor from down the street, whom we didn't know except to say 'hello', has died of a heart attack in his sleep. He was about 50, skinny as a rail, and appeared to be in good health. He smoked, but there was apparently no indication that drugs of any kind were involved.

Ps. Okay, I misspoke there, committing one of my own pet peeves. Of course nicotine is a drug, and a particularly bad one.

@2:14 PM

Nope, no bias there
How different the headlines are on these two articles. The NY Times declares In Setback for U.S., Indonesian Cleric Cleared of Terror Charges and FoxNews reports Indonesian Muslim Cleric Abu Bakar Bashir Sentenced to Four Years. You would hardly guess that they're covering the same story.

@8:53 AM

Another nitwit
I made a bet with myself that former Enron consultant Paul Krugman's column in today's NY Times would contain at least one gratuitous dig at the Prez, but I didn't get past the first sentence before I found the first Big Lie.

Says Krugman: When the E.P.A. makes our air dirtier, or the Interior Department opens a wilderness to mining companies, or the Labor Department strips workers of some more rights, the announcement always comes late on Friday — when the news is most likely to be ignored on TV and nearly ignored by major newspapers.

'When the Department of the Interior opens a wilderness to mining companies the announcement comes out on Friday'? Hmm. . . Interior has never opened a congressionally designated Wilderness to mining, or any other sort of commercial development, on Friday or any other day of the week. I suppose that the fact it has never happened makes it even easier for the major newspapers to ignore in KrugmanWorld™.

HeHe. I won the bet with myself too, although the first gratuitous dig at the Bush administration didn't come until the sixth paragraph: Given the Bush administration's record of catering to energy companies, FERC isn't entitled to any presumption of innocence. Yep, the entire FERC bureaucracy was installed by Bush. Believe it or not. That must have been right after he replaced everyone at the Department of the Interior -- no wonder I missed it.

Ps. To find the other Big Lie in Krugman's screed, read what Jay Ambrose has to say about air polution.

@8:03 AM

City Boy!
Nicholas Kristof writes glowingly of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, "… the last great wilderness virtually untouched by humans other than Eskimos and Indians."

Right. According to Kristof the refuge covers 19.5 million acres, which is 30,469 square miles. Now according to my National Geographic Atlas, Alaska covers an area of 615,230 square miles, so the refuge covers 4.95% of the state. So is the rest of the state some vast rust belt? Condos as far as the eye can see? Corn fields and cow palaces? That's the implication that's drawn by suggesting that the refuge is the last bit of untouched wilderness, the rhetoric that is so favored by the environmental left.

Consider this: Alaska only has a population of 614,000 people, most of whom live in a few cities. Almost all of the state is untouched wilderness. Protecting the refuge as critical caribou calving grounds may make sense -- I don't know enough about caribou to judge -- and there may be other considerations as well. The argument that we must drill the refuge to insure our energy independence is also specious, the oil that could be recovered there is a drop in the bucket of our energy needs.

I won't argue for or against drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge -- I don't know enough about the many issues involved -- but I will argue that anyone who maintains that the refuge is the 'last bit of untouched wilderness' is a nitwit.

Ps. Please note that there is de facto wilderness, areas untouched by the hand of Man, and Wilderness de jure, areas specifically designated by Congress in the Wilderness Act. I get the distinct impression that Kristof and Krugman, and a whole lot of environmental lefties would have you believe that Wilderness Act lands are being threatened by commercial development. This simply ain't so. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is not Wilderness Act land, it's a wildlife refuge, managed under entirely different directives.

I think it would be very nice if the environmental crowd would petition Congress for designation of additional Wilderness Act areas -- go through the channels that have been created and we'll debate the issue -- rather than simply declaring every bit of undeveloped land to be 'wilderness', which implies a degree of official protection that the land does not have.

@7:42 AM

Healthy Forests
Allan K. Fitzsimmons, Fuels Coordinator for the Department of the Interior writes to the Washington Post: Healthy forests today require active management. The Healthy Forests Initiative will yield forests less vulnerable to catastrophic fire and better able to meet society's expectations of them, be they as sources of biological diversity or municipal water supply, places to live and recreate, or providers of natural resources.

By Jove, I believe he's got it! Unfortunately, active management is a bit difficult without access. We will know that this Healthy Forests Initiative is serious when the Forest Service stops closing every road in the forest that isn't paved.

@7:10 AM

News doesn't sell?
The CalgarySun has a keen sense of priorities. Their side bar site index lists:
FEATURES (Which currently lacks a link)
Canadian Idol
OUTDOORS (Which currently lacks a link)

Yep. News doesn't appear to be a high priority, shoehorned in as it is between Lifestyles and Outdoors. That's okay though, I mostly read their funky on-line polls.

@6:45 AM

Monday, September 01, 2003- - -  
Religious Nutbars
Says Eugene Volokh: But I think that even people whose "stand on every public policy issue is religious" nonetheless acknowledge a need to distinguish those public policy issues where religious law should, in their view, be directly applied (e.g., murder, theft, etc.) from those issues where even violations of religious law should be tolerated (e.g., worship of other Gods, Sabbath-breaking, coveting another's property without acting on this coveting, failing to honor one's parents, so long as the dishonoring isn't egregious enough).

I certainly wish he were correct and I agree with his argument in principle, but I can think of a number of religious groups who reject such distinctions. The radical Islamists who would enforce Sharia law are only one example, if a particularly egregious one. I'm not at all certain that the folks in this country who would use secular law to punish homosexuals 'because it's against God's law' all subscribe to such distinctions either.

@8:20 PM

Great eats!
On our way back from the Lander Jazz Festival on Saturday we stopped in at an old stand-by, the El Toro Club in Hudson. They still have the best prime rib on earth.

Ps. My wife hastens to point out that the décor is nothing to brag about, so don't let that put you off.

@8:19 PM

More troops to Iraq?
A number of voices have called for the US to send more troops to Iraq, and/or for us to seek backup from the UN or NATO. For instance, Senator McCain says our force levels are obviously inadequate to maintain security.

However, consider this: How many troops would it take to guard every mosque, every school, every government building, every oil well and pipeline, every power line, refinery, and generation facility, every mile of border, every single guerilla and terrorist target? More than we, our allies, NATO, and the UN have, that's for sure. And in the very process of trying to guard all those targets we would be providing even more targets.

Providing defensive security against terrorists and guerillas seems simply impossible on the face of it. Far better we should continue on the course that's been set and take the war to them. Root them out, stem and branch. Cut off their funding and material supplies. Destroy their bases and disrupt their communications. Hunt them down and string them up.

And stop paying nearly so much attention to all the armchair generals.

@7:01 PM

It's Alive!
There is activity at Jeff Goldstein's Protein Wisdom blog! He claims it's the work of elves, and all we have so far is a new intro page, but this bears watching.

Who knows? Maybe Will Warren will be next. . .

They've both been missed.

@6:23 PM

We're a long way from Brooklyn
NY Post - FOR decades, she was a fierce fighter of the left - an outspoken feminist, friend of the oppressed.

But now, best-selling author Phyllis Chesler is more likely to get dirty looks than high-fives as she strolls through her Park Slope, Brooklyn, neighborhood, where she's committed the cardinal sin of flying the American flag.

Ms. Chesler says the left is anti-Semitic. It appears that, at least in her neighborhood, they are also deeply anti-American. Contrast this with today's Labor Day parade in Meeteetse, Wyoming, where the theme was "Meeteetse Salutes America's Heroes" and flags were everywhere. Sometimes I get the distinct impression that we live on different planets.

I like mine better, thanks.

@6:09 PM

Nobody's perfect
Least of all me. I've just noticed that I don't list White Rose in my blog roll. I've remedied that situation.

@12:41 PM

'Old' jokes
Given the demographic at the Lander Jazz Festival there were quite a few 'old' jokes told. My favorite involved a man who had just purchased a new hearing aid. His wife was excited to hear this and looked forward to being able to better communicate with him.

"How much did it cost?" she asked.


"Four thousand dollars! What kind is it?" she asked.


[Rim shot. Thud. Sound of body being dragged away.]

@12:34 PM

Things that make you go Hmmm. . .
On August 13, 2003 Walter Williams wrote:

According to a July 30 Wall Street Journal article, "If Economists Are So Smart, Why Is Africa So Poor?" written by Hoover Institution senior fellows Douglas North, Stephen Haber and Barry Weingast, "two-thirds of African countries have either stagnated or shrunk in real per capita terms since the onset of independence in the early 1960s. ... Most African nations today are poorer than they were in 1980 -- sometimes by very wide margins."

Apparently Ahnold predicted this back in the 1970s, in comments that are now being labeled as racist. So why isn't anyone accusing Walter Williams of being racist for pointing this out now?

Oh, yeah, right. Because Williams is black. That's okay then.

@7:16 AM

Gotta Love 'em
Hey! The Wyoming Cowboys football squad won their season opener on Saturday, tying their record for last year.

@6:51 AM

This according to a news brief in this morning's Casper Star dead tree edition:

Most voters haven't started paying attention to the Democratic presidential race, says a poll released on Labor Day weekend - the campaign's traditional starting point.

Two-thirds of voters - including two-thirds of Democrats - were unable to name any of the Democratic candidates for president, said the CBS News poll out Sunday.

Joe Lieberman, Dick Gephardt and Harold Dean topped the field in the poll, with relatively low numbers that suggest the race remains wide open.

What can I say? You can't make this stuff up.

@5:51 AM

I dream of a trailer in Bosler, Wyoming,
With tires on the roof and you by my side.

We can watch Flintstones and draw unemployment. . .

-- Jalan Crossland

It was a great concert!

@5:50 AM

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