Wednesday, February 28, 2007- - -
For all the folks from Boulder and Ft. Collins:
CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- Opponents of removing wolves from the federal endangered species protection in Wyoming far outnumbered supporters of delisting wolves at a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service public hearing on wolf management Tuesday.As I noted a couple weeks back, the USFWS knows how to shop for a sympathetic venue. Cheyenne is closer to Boulder & Ft. Fun than it is to any area that will actually be affected by wolves and, as Bob Wharf points out, these folks won't be footing the bill. I give the USFWS about one news cycle to start telling us that the public overwhelmingly supports them. Meanwhile, there's no word yet on whether the USFWS will hold another hearing for people a little closer to the problem. I won't hold my breath, they've gotten the response they wanted, why confuse the issue? [Correction: According to the article, which I should have read more carefully, the USFWS plans to hold another meeting in Cody, in March.]
Approximately 40* conservation group members who traveled from Boulder, Colo., and Fort Collins, Colo., to testify at the hearing made up a large percentage of those who spoke against the delisting of wolves.
"Wolves might be a national treasure but Wyoming has to live with this issue," Bob Wharf of Wyoming Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife said during a break in testimony. "Once wolves are delisted, it will be solely on our dime."
Several hearing participants wished more residents from the western part of Wyoming had been at the meeting. They said that calving season and treacherous travel conditions had probably affected turnout.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Wyoming Senate has given the Governor a green light to negotiate with the USFWS over the boundaries of the area where wolves will continue to be protected. Mitch King, regional director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Denver, says any reduction of the management area his agency has proposed would be unacceptable, but the USFWS has been drawing lines in the sand as fast as they can backpeddle, so we'll see about that.
What we need at this point is an agreement that gives Wyoming everything we want while allowing the USFWS to claim that they "won". I think Gov. Dave is just the man to negotiate something like that.
*Update: 40 of 'em? Jeez, ya s'pose they rented a bus? ... ... Na! What am I thinking, they're conservationists, from Bouldah. Each and every one probably drove up in a Lincoln Navigator, complete with a Sierra Club bumper sticker to show that they've paid their indulgences. (I'd always wondered why someone would buy a big 'ol gas guzzler and then slap a Sierra Club bumper sticker on it, but now it makes perfect sense. It shows that they've done their part, so they're entitled to drive that fuel hog, doncha know?)
In the interest of full disclosure I should point out that I don't drive a horse and buggy, nor live in a yurt heated with a dung fire. It's not the size of the gas guzzler or the size of Big Al's electric bill, it's the elitist hypocrisy and preachiness of the buggers.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007- - -
An interesting article in the Casper Star on outdoor survival outlines what a couple of experts recommend for survival gear.
I'm of the 'Bic lighter, big knife, & a cell phone' school myself. Right now in my butt pack I've got: A 7" Cold Steel knife in their Carbon V steel (The much cheaper, rubber-handled version of their Military Classic which, alas, appears to have been discontinued. Too bad, it's a very nice knife.). A cell phone, two Bic lighters, 7.5' topographic maps, GPS & extra batteries, firstaid kit, LED and high-intensity flashlights, and two water bottles (filled!). I've always got a couple of credit cards and a few bucks in cash.
I should note that I actually carry three knives. I've always got a 4" lockback folder in my pocket and I carry a Swiss Army knife in my butt pack. The big fixed blade is a bit awkward for digging thorns and splinters out of my fingers, and the cork screw on the Swissy has saved me from drinking cheap, screw-off cap swill on many occasions (I mean to live, not merely survive!).
I should probably add water purification tablets, whistle, & a signal mirror, all of which don't weigh much or take up much room. I should also add a couple of fire-starters -- roll newspaper tightly into 1" roll, tie with string every inch, cut between strings with fine-toothed saw, soak in melted paraffin -- one of these will start a fire anywhere, any time. To be honest, I use the stuff I've got in my pack, I haven't really thought to add anything strictly survival related.
A space blanket can be useful, but I generally don't carry one because fire is our friend. I've spent a remarkably miserable night with a space blanket but without fire. I've also spent several perfectly comfy nights with a fire and nothing but the cloths on my back. Here, as always, your mileage may vary, but I make damn sure I've got the means to make fire. I don't bother with waterproof matches because even the best only give you a few seconds, while you can use a Bic to toast even wet tinder until it ignites. I carry two, one in my shirt pocket and the other in my pack, and figure I can start a lot of fires before I have to start rubbing boy scouts together.
Fish hooks? Well, I always figured they put those in survival kits to give you something to do other than panic. Fishing is very calming and you've got to stay in one place, by the water, to do it, all good things. But frankly, in a real survival situation you'd be better off snaring small rodents. More of 'em in more places and easier to catch. Actually, larger critters are pretty easy to snare too, and you can always explain to the Game & Fish later..
Update: Oops! I hope you noticed the one bit of absolutely essential survival gear that none of these guys listed. I intended to but forgot, although I always carry toilet paper. Yes, you can get by with leaves or a few sprigs of nice, scratchy sagebrush. Been there, done that, trust me, you don't want to go there. And please, don't leave it strewn through the brush. Burying it is okay, but small critters will dig it up. It's better to burn it (be careful with fire, blah, blah). But never leave home without it!
Gov. Dave goes to DC
WASHINGTON -- Gov. Dave Freudenthal said he and other governors questioned Bush administration officials on issues from funding for children’s health insurance to the National Guard in Iraq during a National Governors Association conference here, but did not receive satisfying answers.[Sigh] And he's shocked, Shocked! to learn, after all these years in government, that the art of politics lies largely in telling everyone what they want to hear without actually saying anything? I'm speechless.
“I would say the conversations were all equally ambivalent and only time will tell whether we’re doing any good,” he said of talking with Washington officials. “I was only half kidding when I say these people are unable to form a simple declarative sentence.”
Freudenthal said despite all the polite conversation, he “did not come away with a sense that there’s much agreement” on many issues.
And old stories. It seems that every few years someone comes up with Jesus' grave, or resurrects the theory that he maybe wasn't quite dead when his family claimed his body. Perhaps this sooths uncomfortable disbelief. Whatever. In this case I think it's easier to attack the messenger than the message:
I don't concern myself with how Jesus was born
or if he was raised from the dead
It just comes down to the things that he said
-- Ray Wylie Hubbard
Monday, February 26, 2007- - -
By now you've all heard that Al Gore won an Oscar last night for "An Inconvenient Truth”. It may seem unfair to give him another award so soon, but when I read at the InstaPundit's that the average monthly electric bill at Gore's Nashville mansion is $1359.00.. well, how could I not make him the first ever recipient of the brand new Coyote at the Dog Show Spotted Jackass Award?
I've been working on it for awhile with no particular recipient in mind, but this just cries out for special recognition in the Do as I Say, Not as I Do category. Good job, Al.
I intend to bestow this award liberally, so if you spot any jackasses let me know!
Update: The InstaPundit links to Gore's response (He plants trees!) and Captain Ed's comment that this seems a lot like buying indulgences to avoid the penance he demands of others. A little later he links to a defense of Gore: He's part of the elite and naturally not subject to the sort of strictures he'd impose on the rest of us. Finally the InstaPundit notes: "If Gore were less moralistic in his approach -- as he gains weight, he's even starting to look a bit like a younger Jerry Falwell [Shlap!!] -- the charges of hypocrisy would have less bite. But is this the kind of defense he wants?" Well, it's certainly the defense he deserves.
I didn't choose Big Wooden Al as the first Spotted Jackass lightly. The environmental movement fairly oozes hypocrisy. A few years back the Sierra Club held their annual gathering in Jackson Hole and I drove by while the festivities were in full swing. I've seldom seen that many humongous SUVs and 4-mile-a-gallon motor homes in one place. Likewise, the good folks in Park City enjoy a 2 billion per year real estate market, mostly driven by totally unnecessary 10,000 square-foot summer homes for the rich and famous, while they urge the rest of us to squint under florescent bulbs. These guys don't do their bit for the environment by conserving energy and resources, they do their bit for the environment by demanding that others conserve, and urging the government to force their strictures on us. They don't recycle, they have their maid go through the trash while demanding that the police go through ours. They all consider themselves a special elite exempt from the environmental penance they'd impose on the rest of us, and in this Al Gore is a natural for poster child.
I believe that we should all do everything we can to protect the environment. They think that everybody but them should do everything they can to protect the environment. I'd like to plant their first tree where the Christmas tree angel gets hers.
The inevitable second update: Wizbang has an excellent round-up of comment on the subject, including a description of George W. Bush's remarkably green Crawford, TX, home. You might argue that Bush's geothermal heat pumps and recycled gray water are only an effort to save money and not an attempt to be environmentally conscious, but if you do, then ask does it matter? I think there's a lot more environmental hay to be made in showing people how they can save money by cutting their energy consumption than there is in scolding people for driving their rattle-trap Chevy to work.
New Mismanagement, Same as the Old Mismanagement
While we're on the topic of Indianz.com, here's their lead editorial for today.
It's always instructive to remember that our nation's Indian reservations are far and away subject to the most government control and management of any sector of our society. They also have far and away the highest unemployment rates, highest alcohol and substance abuse rates, highest suicide rates, worst education, worst health care, .. Why, they're a living advertisement for Big Government, don't you think?
PS. Hey! They've also got an article about Founder's Day at my old alma mater in today's news! They're right, for a small state university in the icebox of the nation they have an impressive faculty. 'Course I could be biased.
Things that make you go.. Huh??
I'm not sure why this is in the Wyoming News section in today's Casper Star, as there's no observable link with Wyoming. Got to love the name of the company they're profiling though: Ho-Chunk Inc., "the economic development arm of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska" (Ho-Chunk? Okay, let's not even go there. That famously subtle Indian sense of humor, I'm sure.). I probably wouldn't have commented except that they're the parent company of Indianz.com, the Native American internet news service I've long had in my Favorites list (over there <---).
Don't pat yerselves on the back too hard
GILLETTE -- Feathers continue to bloom in the cap of the Wyoming Pipeline Authority. The state's revenue from natural gas production got another boost this month with the second major addition of export capacity in the Rockies Express Pipeline.And now for the rest of the story: The only segments of Rockies Express to be constructed to date are a line from.. (??) somewhere near Rangely, CO, to Wamsutter, and now this segment from Wamsutter to the Cheyenne hub. At the Cheyenne hub the gas is still going into the network of pipelines, because the Rockies Express mainline has not yet been constructed. Construction was supposed to begin over a year ago in northeast Colorado, but as far as I know there has been no sign of activity in that area.
A segment of pipe from Wamsutter to the Cheyenne Hub opened on February 14, and although only Colorado gas is flowing through it right now, it has the effect of relieving overall competition for all Rockies gas trying to find its way out to lucrative markets in the western and eastern United States.
One major advantage of Rockies Express is that it is a "single straw" connection to eastern markets, and therefore requires only one fee for transport. Previously, gas had to travel on a network of different pipelines to get to eastern markets, which meant several fees were "pancaked" into the transportation cost.
Several pipeline companies vied for such a connection, but Wyoming officials believed that not all of the proposed blueprints would have benefited Wyoming's industry as well as Rockies Express.
That's where the Wyoming Pipeline Authority earned its accolades. When investors had several competing pipeline proposals before them, the authority committed its entire $3 billion in revenue bonding authority to Rockies Express. That show of faith was enough for Kinder Morgan and Sempra Energy to win the route entirely through market investment.
Sure, any new pipeline capacity helps, but it's a little too early to be taking credit for a new express mainline. Of course, when the Wyoming Pipeline Authority threw the weight of all those government bucks behind Rockies Express they most assuredly drove away their competition. Did they pick a winner? Well perhaps, but with mainline construction now delayed for over a year I wouldn't be too sure about that. All they've really got to brag about at this point is tilting the playing field toward one of many companies and thus short-circuiting the free market's competitive forces in the pipeline industry. In the process they may well have picked a real loser, if construction delays are any indication. I'm afraid I can't see much good in such government meddling.
Ps. I suppose what bothers me about this sort of thing as much as anything is that we have a state agency, the Wyoming Pipeline Authority, in the business of promoting and investing in oil & gas infrastructure, including picking winners and losers among the many competing companies in private industry. We also have the Wyoming Public Service Commission, whose mission is to regulate those same companies in private industry. No potential for conflict of interest there. No Sir!
Sunday, February 25, 2007- - -
The roots of my libertarianism
Sometimes things like this just make me dispair. All my adult life I've worked in, or closely with various government agencies. All that time I've seen those agencies become ever larger while becoming ever less effective and efficient. I've seen a lot of good people get jobs in these agencies thinking they'd be able to make a difference, only to find that the endless round of meetings and paperwork doesn't, can't, make a difference. For others, all those meetings and paperwork become an end in themselves; I've seen a lot of complete deadbeats make careers out of creating and presenting Powerpoint presentations, or attending Powerpoint presentations.
I'm beginning to think that it's a modern-day form of Optimal Foraging Theory: "In its most basic form, optimal foraging theory states that organisms focus on consuming the most energy while expending the least amount of energy." Does that describe your average bureaucrat and your average bureaucracy, or what?
So what's the answer? I'll never be a "big-L" libertarian so long as so many of them seem to be pushing for complete anarchy. I do think there is a place for government, and I'm not even a particularly strict constitutionalist, in that I don't think the founders could foresee, or be expected to foresee all the problems of the modern world. Thus, some growth in government is probably necessary and inevitable. However, it might also pay to remember the principle we've all seen demonstrated in a Petri dish: An organism tends to expand to fill its environmental niche, at which point it consumes all its resources, poisons its environment, and dies. I'm not sure any government can avoid this fate. Certainly to this point in world history none ever has.
I dispair too because we've recently seen what happens when we give power to those who espouse 'limited government'. Given power, the sky quickly becomes the limit. I don't know the answer, I don't know if there is an answer. I do know that the larger government, or any agency of government becomes, the more it acts like that mold culture in the Petri dish. It might not help, but I vote "No" at every opportunity.
ROCK SPRINGS - All too often, project proposals to enhance wildlife habitat are slow to fruition because of bureaucratic red-tape and other paper impediments.The Wyoming Game & Fish and various wildlife organizations like Ducks Unlimited and Trout Unlimited have been involved in all the discussed habitat enhancements -- protection of riparian areas, prescribed burns, wildlife friendly fencing, weed control, sagebrush chaining, nest construction for raptors, waterfowl, and other birds, creation of conservation easements, and many other activities -- for many years. Likewise, various state and federal organizations have been mapping wildlife habitat, oil and gas development, livestock grazing allotments, and a great deal of other map-based data for a long time. Nor has all this effort been focused on those small areas being impacted by oil & gas development.
A new, ambitious initiative to restore and protect wildlife habitat in southwest Wyoming aims to get those projects on the ground a lot faster.
The recently-unveiled Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative will rely on the expertise of a host of participating state and federal agencies to ensure the most-needed habitat conservation and enhancement projects achieve tangible, on-the-ground results, officials involved in the effort said.
The initiative partners envision those projects could include riparian work, prescribed fire treatments, wildlife friendly fencing, weed control, mechanical treatments such as chaining, raptor nest construction, and the purchase of conservation easements, among others.
"This has to be a landscape scale effort if it's really going to benefit wildlife. And it has to be a long-term effort. It could be 30 years before we start seeing the real benefits." [Wyoming Game and Fish Deputy Director John Emmerich told a small crowd of Rock Springs residents during a meeting recently.]
The first step will be to develop and overlay maps showing areas of wildlife habitat, current oil and gas development, livestock grazing allotments and other pertinent data.
"This will give us a much better picture of what we're dealing with and provide direction for the work," he said.
Work on the initiative will be conducted from an office located at the Bureau of Land Management's field office in Rock Springs.
Emmerich said the office will act as a "central clearinghouse" of information. "It will bring all the information into one location so it can be accessible to anyone who wants it," he said.
Emmerich estimated actual project work could begin as early as the spring of 2008.
I certainly applaud any effort to cut the red tape and make these activities more effective and efficient; bureaucracies tend to absorb the efforts of those involved in filling out forms, filing reports, and endless series of meetings, often to the detriment of actually doing anything. It's good that they recognize this. However, I'm a bit nervous about some of this.
First, any time someone tells me that we may not see any results from their efforts for 30 years, I mentally add "if ever". 'Give us tons of money but don't expect any results' is the refrain of someone who wants tons of money but doesn't expect to produce any results (doubly disturbing because current efforts are producing results).
Also, trying to get 'a host of participating state and federal agencies' to cooperate and actually accomplish something? Good luck with that. There's a good deal of truth to the old adages that "an elephant is a mouse designed by a committee" and "when your enemies get too powerful form them into a committee, that will do them in". As we've seen with the Department of Homeland Security, gargantuan government is generally the enemy of efficiency and accomplishment. I wish these guys a ton of luck, I'm all for anything that benefits wildlife, but I've got to be skeptical.
Saturday, February 24, 2007- - -
The Great White Snark..
"The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words from other languages; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.”
--James Nicoll, 1990
Call and raise again
CHEYENNE -- Attorney General Pat Crank says the latest incarnation of a wolf management bill would send a message to the federal government: "Put up or shut up."It's not clear what the "state's terms" are, but it sounds like they're saying the USFWS must accept the state's wolf management plan with the minor modifications the senate has proposed. That's the only thing that would stop the pending lawsuit between the state and the USFWS. Looks like the feds are backpeddling on their 10(j) rule too. I'd still like to see a clause in the final agreement where the USFWS acknowledges that management of wildlife in the state of Wyoming is exclusively the responsibility of the state, but then we're not done pummeling them by any means.
Unlike a similar bill that died in a House committee on Wednesday, House Bill 213 cleared the Senate on its first reading on Friday, opening a way for the plan to be considered on the Senate floor in detail on Monday.
The bill would provide a way for Wyoming to kill more wolves before they are removed from endangered species protection.
But first, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would have to accept the state's terms.
Speaking before the Senate vote, [Governor] Freudenthal said Friday he hopes the bill ultimately gets to his desk.
Freudenthal said he's heard this week the Fish and Wildlife Service is prepared to discuss giving the state some relief from the federal rule that restricts killing wolves that are having an unacceptable impact on wildlife.
Friday, February 23, 2007- - -
'Round and 'round
Reports of the demise of wolf legislation in Wyoming may have been a bit premature. Seems the state Senate is pushing to revive the wolf bill.
Meanwhile, on the front page of today's on-line Casper Star there's a reader poll: "Should the Legislature accept the current federal proposal to delist wolves?" With only 137 responses so far, 76 (55%) say "Yes" and 61 (45%) say "No".
The big stumbling block in all this is the USFWS' 10(j) rule. If they revise that to allow the state to manage over-populated wolves' too heavy predation on wildlife, I'd think we've got a deal, and I think the Gov. & legislature are wise to hold out for that. Thus, at present I'll have to vote "No!" on the Casper Star's poll.
Thursday, February 22, 2007- - -
Warmer is better!?
An interesting article by Pete Du Pont on global warming. Note that human populations have, historically at least, tended to do better during warm periods.
I've been a bit puzzled by the dire predictions of a 1 foot (give or take) rise in sea level over the next century. This sounds bad until you consider that the tides cause local sea levels to rise and fall by several feet every day, and that the height of high tides varies from day to day and season to season depending on the moon's orbit, juxtaposition of the other planets, & such. Thus, structures along our coasts are already constructed to take into account the highest high tides that might be expected, plus a bit for storm surges and so on. With all this sloshing about going on, I've got to wonder if another foot of water would even be noticable.
On the other hand, a foot of snow in July is going to be noticed. If you think global warming is bad, consider the alternative.
It's hard to remember that concept when it's our ox being gored. Bet they're glad they didn't spend all the money gold-plating the highways.
CHEYENNE -- A House committee shot down a proposed wolf management bill on Wednesday, apparently snuffing out any hope that legislation to address the issue will pass this session.Stay tuned for further concessions from the USFWS.
The House Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee voted unanimously to reject a Senate bill and associated amendments that would have accepted the federal government's proposal to designate a permanent wolf management area in northwestern Wyoming.
"In a sense it strengthens my hand, because I can say, 'Look, if you think I'm hard to get along with, just look at these guys,'" Freudenthal said of legislators.
With a little prompting from Robin Roberts, I've updated my offering. I'm also thinking of a sliding scale: Disapproved! Shunned! Condemned! (Collect all three!!)
Wednesday, February 21, 2007- - -
A proposed seal of disapproval for Alterman's soon-to-be-formed Blog Council. I for one would post it proudly.
What about da wolves?
I missed an article in yesterday's Casper Star entitled Legislature faces wolves, same-sex marriage this week. When I saw it this morning I clicked on in to see what our state congresscritters are up to. Well, apparently not much on the wolf front; other than noting that it's a devisive issue (No kidding!) the article says nothing about wolves, it's all about same-sex marriage. So I guess I'll have to think of something offensive to say about that.
The Senate last month voted 21-8 to endorse a bill that prohibits Wyoming from recognizing same-sex marriages. Wyoming law already specifies that marriages performed in the state must be between a man and a woman.My feelings on marriage are pretty strictly Heinleinian*: It strikes me that marriage should be a personal and perhaps religious issue, not an issue for government. If a man and a woman, or two men, or two women, or two men and three women want to be married, whatever their reasons, that should be between them and their families, and their churches if they're of religious bent. So long as they don't unduly bother the neighbors or frighten the horses they ought to have the right to be married, however they define that relationship. If they want to recognize their marriage with ceremony, pomp and circumstance, that ought to be their choice. If they want to be married in a church that ought to be up to the members of the church. If a church wishes to recognize the marriage, fine. If a church chooses not to recognize the marriage, that too should be fine. If Fred Phelps wants to have kittens over the issue, well that's his right too, so long as he stays off my lawn.
The devil is in the details of course, and I had originally gone on at length about those details, but it occurs to me that governments aren't very good at details no matter what the issue. Therefore, the fewer issues government deals with, the fewer issues I'm likely to have with government. Suffice it to say that I don't think marriage is an issue that government should be involved in.
*Yes, Harsh Mistress is one of my all-time favorite books and I'm eagerly awaiting the movie, although there doesn't seem to have been much movement there lately.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007- - -
That's gonna leave a mark..
Via Bill Quick:
Madison, North Carolina – As a result of comments made by Mr. Jim Zumbo in recent postings on his blog site, Remington Arms Company, Inc., has severed all sponsorship ties with Mr. Zumbo effective immediately. While Mr. Zumbo is entitled to his opinions and has the constitutional right to freely express those opinions, these comments are solely his, and do not reflect the views of Remington.Harsh, yes, but not unexpected. Also via Bill Quick we learn that Outdoor Life has discontinued Zumbo's blog "for the time being". Actually, if you follow the link to his rant you'll find that they've "disappeared" his blog entirely. Looks like they'll stand behind their man -- far behind and upwind. Getting mighty lonely in Zumboland, deservedly so.
Update: Zumbo's demise is being reported in the Chattanoogan:
Additionally, Cabela's has not yet dropped their sponsorship of the Jim Zumbo Outdoors television show, Cabela's Frank Ross is being quoted as having said their legal department is "currently reviewing contractual obligations and commitments regarding our sponsorship of the Jim Zumbo Outdoors television show. "I find it hard to imagine that anyone would be associated with the firearms industry for 40 years and be so ignorant of gun politics. I won't be at all surprised if we hear Zumbo's words quoted on the floor of congress in support of a renewed assault weapons ban. That's inexcusable.
"Jim's comments are as unfortunate as they are inappropriate," said National Shooting Sports Foundation president Doug Painter. "No one should divide firearms into good-gun, bad-gun categories."
With Congress reconsidering the Assault Weapon Ban and Connecticut and New Jersey considering legislation that would limit handgun purchases to one per month, this latest schism is already being used as further evidence of the "need" to regulate firearms -all firearms - more stringently.
Another update: Blog O'Stuff has a letter from Cabela's. Looks like everyone is scrambling to distance themselves. As someone commented One "Oh shit" cancels 100 "at-a-boys".
Yet another update: For what it's worth, Jim Zumbo lists the following sponsors on his website: Remington, Swarovski, Gerber Knives, Cabela's, Safari Club International, Stoney Point Products, and Hi Mountain Seasonings. Two down and I'd bet the other five aren't far behind. That skunk smell is going to be really hard to get off.
A parting shot: I only own a couple of those scary high-capacity magazine rifles. One is a Model 1892 Winchester take-down rifle in .25-20 with a mag capacity of 16 [gasp!], made in 1919. The other is a Browning M92 in .44 mag with a mag capacity of 13. Think my lever-actions would be exempt when they outlaw high-cap guns? I'm not betting on it.
Things that make you say Hmmmm...
I'm sure this has nothing to do with all the B1 bombers we've seen practicing their 'nap of the earth' flying around here of late. Of course, the news that we have plans for bombing Iran shouldn't come as a surprise. Our military develops contingency plans for all sorts of events and we've probably got contingency plans for bombing Canada if they don't straighten up and stop exporting all that cold weather.
An interesting article on things to do in Tucson in the DenverPost. I'd almost never guess the writer was talking about the town we've spent so much time in (we usually go there for a month or so in the winter), but that's a measure of the town, there's something for everyone.
I would quibble on a couple points: First, Tucson can't be navigated on foot. No matter where you want to go it will be on the other side of town. Fortunately, the interstate runs through town so you can zoom around, and their main streets are all 45 mph. The town is well laid out too, so it's easy to navigate, and we've never found parking a problem except around the university.
Second, with three excellent brewpubs in town, why on earth would you want to drink Schlitz?
I do concur with the recommendation to see the Desert Museum, one of our favorite spots, and I'll add Tohono Chul botanical park for breakfast, the restaurant serves a mean eggs benedict and great coffee.
Risen from the dead
JACKSON -- A little over a week after Wyoming leaders declared talks with the federal government over wolf management all but dead, momentum for such a deal may be building once again.Last week I speculated that the feds would take a big political hit with wolf affectionados on the coasts if they revisited their 10(j) rule. Thus, it would be a good measure of just how badly they want out of the wolf management business. Looks like they want out bad. At this point they've pretty much capitulated on every detail, with the exception of quibbling over the exact boundaries of the wolf recovery area in the greater Yellowstone and even there the boundaries don't differ much from those proposed by the state.
The regional director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Monday he was encouraged that Gov. Dave Freudenthal and lawmakers are discussing changes to the state's wolf management plan.
Those developments don't eliminate the biggest remaining obstacle to a state-federal agreement that would allow wolves in Wyoming to become part of the federal government's wolf delisting process: Wyoming's insistence that it be allowed to kill wolves to protect wildlife before delisting becomes final. But Mitch King, regional director for the Fish and Wildlife Service, said he's willing to consider the issue further.
Previously, the Fish and Wildlife Service indicated that it had no way to allow the state to kill wolves to protect wildlife before delisting -- without amending the so-called "10(j)" rule guiding wolf management between the period of proposed delisting and actual state control.
But on Monday, King said he was encouraged by the governor's proposal last week because it means a wolf bill is "alive again" in the Wyoming Legislature. As a result, King said he would revisit the 10(j) issue.
"I'm certainly willing to sit down with our lawyers and talk about the 10(j) amendment process," King said.
He said he hasn't "had any real conversation with the governor," but if the Legislature is willing to move ahead with a wolf management proposal to allow the state to be part of delisting, "we should give some consideration to allowing a 10(j) rule" amendment.
Except for some of our ranchers, who understandably wanted no wolves, nowhere, no how, and our California contingent, who seemingly want wolves unchecked throughout the state (except in their backyards of course), this should pretty much make everybody in the state happy. If I were the USFWS though, I'd be wondering who to throw from the sleigh to appease the folks on the coasts because it's going to get ugly for them. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of guys though.
Monday, February 19, 2007- - -
It's not easy being green..
The InstaPundit links to an interesting article in the Economist on global warming:
ONE problem with global warming policy that too few people are talking about right now is what should be done with India and China? Together, they have nearly half the world's population, and they're growing fast. Worse, they're growing fast aided by big, polluting coal plants and other inefficient technologies. In less than a decade, China will outpace America as the world's leading emitter of greenhouse gasses. In an ethics paper on distributional justice, this might be fair, but the climate doesn't care whether greenhouse gasses are emitted by rich Americans motoring to Tahoe for a minibreak, or poor Chinese farmers boosting the productivity of their paddies. It will warm up and flood Bangladesh just the same.The anonymous economist does go on to take another rather gratuitous swipe (The first being the "rich Americans motoring to Tahoe" remark. I'd bet there's a lot more pollution being caused by the middle class motoring 90 miles to the city every day because they don't want to live in an urban rabbit hutch and can't afford anything better any closer, hm?): "The only people talking about this much seem to be American conservatives looking for a way to dodge the necessity of action. This is a cop-out." But as one of the commenters points out, the actions being proposed -- Kyoto being on the top of the list -- would appear to be entirely ineffectual given the emerging third world. Is pointing out that the proposed solution ain't gonna work a copout? I disagree, but then I'm one of those people who has been pointing out the problem vis China & India.
This matters because to a surprising extent*, energy resources are fungible. If America cuts down on its consumption of oil and natural gas, this will depress the price of these resources, allowing the Chinese and Indians to buy more of them. As anti-poverty policy, this may be excellent, but as environmental policy it is useless—possibly worse than useless, because inefficient Chinese equipment will get less energy per unit of carbon dioxide emitted, and produce more secondary pollutants.
The Economist is absolutely right though in concluding that any solution to global warming (assuming for the moment that the globe actually is warming) must include some provision for China and India to continue to grow while limiting their emissions. I'd go one step farther and say that even if the globe isn't warming, we still need to limit pollution of all kinds, around the world, simply as a quality of life issue. How do we do that? Damned if I know, but crippling the US economy isn't going to do the job. Another of the commenters (read the whole thing, it's good stuff, Maynard!) suggests more nuclear energy, and that is a good idea, but not one much favored by those who'd rather rail against those darn rich American conservatives.
*Update: You write for the Economist but find this surprising? Whatever, but I wouldn't make such an admission where my editors might read it and, you know, wonder..
Factory Farming [gasp!]!
Heheh. A couple of weeks ago we were up in Alpine, TX, browsing the produce department in search of a tomato or two for the guacamole, when a young lady informed us that the cluster tomatoes were best because they came from a factory up in Ft. Davis, just a few miles to the north.
"You mean these tomatoes aren't grown, they're manufactured?" I quipped.
"Yes!" She replied with a big grin.
The InstaPundit's link on factory farming reminded me of this. Whenever I hear "organic food" I always think "as opposed to inorganic food?*" You can apply just enough of the proper mix of chemical fertilizer for the plant's use, thus minimizing the amount of these chemicals that seep into the ground water or run off into streams, but if you do your produce won't be considered "organic". Or you can pile on the manure, which can't be measured as accurately, and take a risk of pollution while producing "organic" produce. You can use pesticides to help produce the most food from the least acreage, but your produce won't be considered "organic". Or you can forego the pesticides, put more acreage under the plow to produce the same amount of food, and call it "organic". You can help destroy even more wildlife habitat and feel good about yourself at the same time.
I'll grant that some folks may be so sensitive to some chemicals that they need to eat organically grown foods. There is also a problem with overuse of pesticides and fertilizer, chemical and organic. But, bottom line, the tomato plant doesn't care where it gets its nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. It doesn't care if it grows in a factory greenhouse tended by chemists, or is lovingly grown by a little old lady who feeds it certified organic, weed-free horse poop. They don't even seem to care if they're stuck in the ground, fed a shovel of manure, put on an automatic water timer, and ignored until they produce, which is my preferred method.
Oh, by the way, the Ft. Davis-manufactured tomatoes were wonderful.
*Update: Okay, I have wondered if those individually wrapped cheese slices weren't a petroleum product, or perhaps leftovers from the factory that makes propellants for the four deuce mortar.
Sunday, February 18, 2007- - -
With fiends like this, who needs enemas?
Back on Friday, gun writer Jim Zumbo, who quite embarrassingly claims to be from Wyoming, wrote:
I must be living in a vacuum. The guides on our hunt tell me that the use of AR and AK rifles have a rapidly growing following among hunters, especially prairie dog hunters. I had no clue. Only once in my life have I ever seen anyone using one of these firearms.This ignited a predictable and well-deserved shit storm in the comments following his post, not the least because the assault weapons ban has just been revived in congress and this gives major ammo to the gun ban movement. Commentors aren't only expressing their outrage, they're cancelling their subscriptions to Outdoor Life and threatening to boycott Zumbo's sponsor, Remington.
I call them "assault" rifles, which may upset some people. Excuse me, maybe I'm a traditionalist, but I see no place for these weapons among our hunting fraternity. I'll go so far as to call them "terrorist" rifles. They tell me that some companies are producing assault rifles that are "tackdrivers."
Sorry, folks, in my humble opinion, these things have no place in hunting. We don't need to be lumped into the group of people who terrorize the world with them, which is an obvious concern. I've always been comfortable with the statement that hunters don't use assault rifles. We've always been proud of our "sporting firearms."
This really has me concerned. As hunters, we don't need the image of walking around the woods carrying one of these weapons. To most of the public, an assault rifle is a terrifying thing. Let's divorce ourselves from them. I say game departments should ban them from the praries and woods.
Now he says he was just tired from that darn Wyoming wind:
What really bothers me are some of the unpatriotic comments leveled at me. I fly the flag 365 days a year in my front yard. Last year, through an essay contest, I hosted a soldier wounded in Iraq to a free hunt in Botswana. This year, through another essay contest, I'm taking two more soldiers on a free moose and elk hunt.Ah yes, patriotism, the last refuge of scoundrels. While he says he was wrong "BIG TIME", he never quite retracts his call for banning these "terrorist" weapons "... from the praries and woods." I'm inclined to believe that the first post was his honest opinion, even if brought out by fatigue, and that the lame semi-apology was due to pressure from his editors and sponsors.
When I started blogging, I was told to write my thoughts, expressing my own opinion. The offensive blog I wrote was MY opinion, and no one else's. None of the companies that I deal with share that opinion, nor were they aware of what I had written until this firestorm started.
Believe it or not, I'm your best friend if you're a hunter or shooter, though it might not seem that way. ..."
Got to love Tamara's response to our gun-banning "sportsman":
Your attempt to throw me out of the sleigh, hoping that the wolves would be satisfied with my AR and would leave your precious bambi-zapper alone, is the most craven act of contemptible cowardice I've seen in a while. Now that I'm aware of your anti-gun nature, I'll be sure to cancel the one subscription to Outdoor Life that I have control over, and urge everyone else I know who subscribes to cancel theirs as well. Maybe after they ash-can you, you can go write policy columns for the Brady Center or the VPC.HT: InstaPundit.
[Sigh] I was reading Radly Balko this morning, starting here, and pretty much agreeing with him, until I got here, where Balko proclaims Michelle Malkin to be "shameless" for this post attacking Barak Obama's "wasted" comment.
But who's being shameless here? Balko states "Iraq has only gotten worse since Saddam was toppled." Worse than feeding people live to a plastic shreader? Worse than children's prisons? Worse how? In fact, the civilian death toll in Iraq is considerably lower than it was, year in and year out, while Saddam was in charge. Yes, Iraq is a mess, but worse than it was under Saddam? Not by any objective measure I can think of and Balko offers none*.
While Balko agrees with Obama's "wasted", he's quick to tell us (twice) that this doesn't reflect poorly on the troops, but rather on the incompetence of their leadership, particularly in the White House. What measure does Balko offer? He goes on: "... Since people like Malkin still think pulling out of Vietnam was a mistake, I suppose we'll have to wait at least until the 3,000 dead we have today tops 60,000."
Okay, let's compare Iraq to Vietnam, in the terms Balko has chosen. Over 58,000 American troops died in 12 years in Vietnam. 3000 have died in Iraq in 3 years. At that rate, Balko will be waiting 57 more years for our troop dead toll to reach 60,000. By the very measure Balko invokes, it would appear that our leadership in Iraq has been far better than it ever was in Vietnam. Of course, by his measure our leadership in WWII must have been truly abysmal, since we lost over 400,000 troops in four years.
Iraq is not Vietnam and Vietnam was not WWII. We've had our share of competent and incompetent leadership during all three conflicts, and I won't argue that the lower death toll in Iraq indicates better leadership, but rather that measuring our leaders' competence and the worthiness of a war by means of relative death tolls is silly, you might even say "shameless", considering that the death toll has nothing to do with whether it is right to be fighting. The measure of a war should not be whether our leaders are competent, or how many people die, but rather, whether our goals are just and good and achieveable, and whether there is any viable alternative to war that will achieve the same ends.
So why do people who are opposed to the war in Iraq compare it to Vietnam? I suspect that the InstaPundit is right: "To some people, Vietnam wasn't a defeat, but a victory. To them, the right side won. And lost. Naturally, they're happy to repeat the experience."
*Update: Why should he? The good folks at Reason have worked hard at the Iraq war issue to make it a libertarian "consensus identity narrative". No actual support need be given because no right-thinking reader could possibly disagree and anyone who does disagree can be dismissed out of hand. Thus is the truth deconstructed among those who believe in "free minds".
Update again: Think I'm kidding about Reason's consensus identity narrative? Look how often they use the term "true libertarian". Somehow, I don't think any true libertarian would even consider telling others what they must think on some topic to be considered a true libertarian, but it's a popular activity among those who consider themselves true libertarians. Go figure.
Quick! Post another photo!
The Internet connection went dead as a smoked carp* Friday afternoon and didn't come back until last night. However, they seem to have done something right, as I've now got the best connection and through-put speed I've seen down here. Even Blogger is cooperating, so here's another photo, taken along the Blue Creek Trail awhile back.
*Very good, but hard to keep lit.
Update: [Sigh] Okay, so Blogger still has its little problems, but a double post is better than no post at all, eh?
Quick! Post another photo!
The Internet connection went dead as a smoked carp* Friday afternoon and didn't come back until last night. However, they seem to have done something right, as I've now got the best connection and through-put speed I've seen down here. Even Blogger is cooperating, so here's another photo, taken along the Blue Creek Trail awhile back.
*Very good, but hard to keep lit.
Yes, we're still in Terlingua!
The place grows on you. Here's a shot of "Boot Rock", looking east from the Pinnacles Trail, high on the east side of the Chisos. It's so named because it "looks like an upside-down cowboy boot". And it does, sort of, from this angle.
It was cold and blustery yesterday, so I'm falling back on file photos. I took this one the same day we saw the mountain lion, by which this pales in comparison.
Although we didn't go hiking yesterday, we did find something else you wouldn't expect in tiny Terlingua. We went out for lunch at the Phat Cafe, which serves Chinese "family style" -- you eat whatever the chef decides to cook, which will include a selection of his homegrown vegetables -- and it was excellent. Apparently we're not the only ones who think so, as dinner is by reservation only. Fortunately, coat and tie are very optional.
At this point it looks like we'll stay in Terlingua until we're evicted. The RV park is full-up come spring break, so we've got to be out around the 9th of March or find another place to live. From an anthropological perspective, it might be interesting to stay and see what happens when the hord descends on this sleeply little town. Someone could do a thesis on the mating rituals of Homo studensis and another on the reactions of the locals.
No more federal dogs*?
An interesting OpEd in today's DenverPost:
When Idaho Gov. Butch Otter said last month he wanted to bid for the first wolf tag offered to hunters in his state, it prompted predictable righteous indignation.Become more like Oregon and California? Oh, what a cheery thought. But note that the USFWS hasn't proposed reintroducing wolves in New York, Washington, Oregon, or California, although all these places have suitable habitat. I wonder why that is? It's tempting to attribute this purely to politics and NIMBYism, but I think the author of this OpEd inadvertently makes another point: "... as subdivisions sprawl up mountain valleys and fragment ranchlands", as we become more populated, suitable habitat for wolves will come under increasing pressure. As the wolves and I have similar habitat requirements, I suppose I should be happy that we've got 'em. And in a way I am, it's just that other thing about the feds sticking their noses in..
Newspapers across the nation, including The New York Times, expressed doubts that the federal government should turn control over Idaho's remarkably productive wolf population to people like Otter. Wolf lovers around the world deluged the governor's office with e-mails, scolding him and Idahoans for a lack of understanding of this regal predator and its place in the ecosystem.
As always, the debate will come down to clashing values. The New York Times is sure to chastise Westerners for not embracing federal protection of wolves at the same time the paper is unwilling to press for reintroduction in the East, where there remains excellent habitat. Meanwhile, many Idahoans are similar to people in Montana and Wyoming who want wolves back on the land. Previously, wolf opponents could count on support for their cause from residents who never like the federal government sticking its nose in their lives - no matter what the issue.
But here's what I think: Once wolves are delisted and management returned to the states, wolves will become "our" wolves and not the federal government's. Politicians like Otter who target wolves will have to deal with the potential of worldwide tourism boycotts and other sanctions, along with the expense of a major wolf kill-off. Inevitably, politics in the states will continue to change as places like Idaho become more like Oregon and California. Wolves are here to stay, and they and the wild lands they need to survive will play a larger role in the region as subdivisions sprawl up mountain valleys and fragment ranchlands.
The last confirmed killing of a wolf in [Colorado] was in 1935, and since then there's been only one confirmed sighting. In June 2004, the carcass of a young female wolf was found along Interstate 70 west of Idaho Springs. Her radio collar identified her as being from a pack in Yellowstone National Park.
There were wolf sightings near Walden in February 2004 and near Aspen last June, but wildlife officials couldn't confirm them. [emphasis added]
And at least I know now that my memory isn't faulty. The Casper Star accurate? Not so much.
Friday, February 16, 2007- - -
The World's largest critters
This list of the world's largest attractions is terribly amusing, but doesn't list any from North Dakota: The World's Largest Buffalo is in Jamestown, NoDak and the World's Largest Holstein is in New Salem, NoDak. Most of these are made of concrete, except for the World's Largest Mosquito, in Komarno, Manitoba, which, I can attest, is quite real or at least life-sized.
Saints preserve us!
Public piety has never been so prevalent, or its sincerity quite so suspect.
If I just keep trying occasionally a photo slips through. Here we're looking northwest toward the Christmas Mountains from the western foot of the Chisos. This is a good example of the sort of landscape that dominates the Big Bend country. Nice western-style clouds too.
Okay, I give..
Between the chronically ill fiber optic systems in the Big Bend and Blogger's crankiness, posting photos is a sometimes thing, and this apparently isn't the time.
So instead I'll point you to this interesting article. Seems a guy died of dehydration while hiking in the Utah desert in the middle of July (big surprise!) as part of an extreme survival school outing. The school says all the release forms he signed don't allow his next of kin to sue.
Several years ago I took a Master Services contract to my attorney to ask him about language that said I released the company from any damages, caused even by the illegal acts of their employees. My lawyer just laughed and said not to worry, no one ever gives up their right to sue, it was just legal puffery.
Seems like there's plenty of blame to go around in this case. Only crazy people hike in the desert in mid-summer. But if companies could be successfully sued for encouraging people in their craziness no one would make sports cars or take you sky diving..
Yesterday (below), I pondered what this new "language" was that Gov. Freudenthal was proposing for a revived wolf bill, suggesting it might be in reaction to the USFWS' publication of their intent to delist wolves outside the Greater Yellowstone area, allowing them to be treated as predators whether Wyoming's management plan had been approved or not. Instead, it appears that it will be another push to immediately begin managing wolf populations where they impact wildlife:
JACKSON -- In new language for a wolf bill, the state would seek assurances from the federal government it can manage for a limited number of wolves before control of the animal is formally transferred to the state.As the USFWS just refused to revise their 10 (j) rule, I'm wondering what this is supposed to accomplish. But then just last July the USFWS refused to consider treating wolves as predators anywhere in Wyoming, and now they've published in the Federal Register their intent to do just that, if not in so many words. The feds' reaction to this latest "language" should be a good measure of just how badly they want out of the wolf management business, because they'll take a powerful political hit if they give in.
The new language, submitted by Gov. Dave Freudenthal, would require the federal government to amend its rule guiding management of wolves in the interim period between proposed and formal delisting in the next year. The changes to the so-called 10(j) rule would say the state can kill wolves impacting big game herds as long as there are 17 breeding pairs in the recovery area of Wyoming, including national parks.
Thursday, February 15, 2007- - -
Not quite dead yet..
I would have thought that negotiations with the US Fish and Wolf Service* were over and the lawsuits about to begin, but now we have this:
JACKSON -- Gov. Dave Freudenthal indicated Wednesday a state wolf bill may not be dead, as he submitted "language" to legislative leadership Tuesday that would structure a bill that could become effective before or after the wolf is removed from federal protection.Yes, as I noted when this round of negotiations began, the USFWS' proposal differed only slightly from Wyoming's proposed management plan, which the USFWS had roundly rejected just last July. But then reality will creep in. And "... a bill that could become effective before or after the wolf is removed from federal protection," but they're not sayin' what's in it yet? Intriguing. We've been told that the State of Wyoming can't do a thing about the wolves until they've been delisted and all the lawsuits have been settled. Short of getting Jacksonian, I can't imagine what that could be about.
... He asked that legislators have a chance to review the language before releasing it publicly, and did not give any indication as to what the new language would be.
Freudenthal said from his perspective, the new geographic range outlined by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in December as trophy game area for wolves is "a pretty significant concession on their part."
And then we have new developments on the federal front:
JACKSON -- Wolves outside northwest Wyoming will likely receive predator status once the animals are removed from federal protection, because those wolves are considered "non essential" to conserving wolf populations, according to the Federal Register notice.So what are we arguing about again? It sounds like the State of Wyoming is going to get just what we proposed in our wolf management plan, with only some minor quibbling about the area in which wolves will remain protected and what that protection will entail. Cut & Run, indeed.
In its proposal to remove the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act, federal officials say most of Wyoming is not a "significant portion of the range" for wolves, and therefore upon delisting, those wolves will be "not listed." Wyoming has indicated it wants to classify wolves outside northwest Wyoming as predators, meaning they can be killed any time, by any means and for any reason.
The state must develop an acceptable wolf management strategy for post-delisting, which so far it has not done. If Wyoming does not, wolves in the northwest area will still be federally managed. But the remainder of the state's wolves will be removed from federal protection upon delisting. [emphasis added]
Update: On further reflection, I suspect that this new "language" is a reaction to the feds unexpected move of delisting wolves outside the greater Yellowstone area regardless of whether they've approved Wyoming's wolf management plan. I should probably load some fresh ammo for the ol' 6mm when we get home. Or not. For a moment there I'd forgotten that "... potentially lengthy period of litigation before delisting becomes final."
Wednesday, February 14, 2007- - -
A Letter to the Editor:
Hearing those sappy panegyrics about "our men and women in uniform" every 10 minutes always reminds me of Ludmilla Boriskova, heroine of the Soviet union, wrestling with fighter bomber propellers in a titanic struggle for the Motherland. Where are you now, O babushka?How very sad that people who feel this way are forced to live in this fascistic empire.
I've encountered countless mediocre opportunists, groupers and communards among these militarists, and they don't wage war in my name, and they don't impress me. They serve the almighty Amurrican king Tex Shrub in a fascistic empire that knows next to nothing about rational restraint, checks and balances, or the consent of the governed. The more U.S. soldiers get killed, the more it hopefully hastens the humiliating defeat and inevitable breakup of this fraudulent, hypocritical and rotten-to-the-core nation-state, following the moribund trajectory of the Spanish, Dutch and British empires of yesteryear.
Why don't y'all kneel down with the Christian fascist chaplain and pray for a swift kick in the butt to hell and gone, soldier boys and girls? Down with the United States and its vaunted holy of holies armed services, and may the ever-growing list of global enemies eventually combine forces to kick its back teeth to Timbuktu.
KELLY HENNESSY, Cody
Tuesday, February 13, 2007- - -
With the fate of the world in her hands, Amanda Marcotte has resigned from the Edwards campaign?
Update: Ouch. "Politics is like stock-car racing. You don’t just go to see who wins, but who crashes into the wall. Splat!" Sadly, I doubt Edwards will be chasing her ambulance.
None of the above, which should always be an option in such polls.
"When it comes to wolves, Wyoming needs to stick to its guns."
The Casper Star has an excellent wrap-up of the wolf reintroduction controversy, as it stands today. One thing was becoming increasingly clear: No matter what, we were facing a lengthy period of litigation before wolves could be delisted. That being the case, there was little reason to accept the sort of non-management plan that the USFWS had worked out with Montana and Idaho.
I'm waiting for Governor Freudenthal to get Jacksonian and take the only course left open if we are to protect the elk: The USFWS have made their decision, now let them enforce it.
Monday, February 12, 2007- - -
"New York Realtor buys Air America Network for a song"
Looks like they finally hit bottom.
With marquee on-air voice Al Franken leaving to run for the U.S. Senate in Minnesota, and up to its ears in debt, AAR went for the bargain-basement price of $4.25 million to New York real estate guy Stephen L. Green, who assumes control this week. He's also repaying up to $3.25 million in loans given to AAR, which declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November. AAR listed $20.2 million in debts in its Chapter 11 filing, meaning a lot of creditors won't see a dime.I think I can guess the song.
Update: While today's Denver Post had bad news for Franken, there's good news for Rush Limbaugh: He'll no longer have to borrow Viagra from his doctor.
Win, Place, or Show
Denver -- During the 5th Congressional District race last year, what Democrat Jay Fawcett saw when he attended YearlyKos, a June convention of progressive bloggers and other Internet denizens, reshaped his campaign.
"It's like the TV debates in 1960. Nothing's changed, and everything's changed, but we didn't really know that till '68," said Fawcett, whose defeat was the best showing by a Democrat since the district's formation in 1972. "You still have to be able to address the basics, communicate ideas to voters. But what I heard was not dogma or extreme positions. It was focused on solving problems." [emphasis added]
"Lawmakers mull 'vortex of spending'"
The very appropriate title of this article at the Casper Star. In case you weren't real sure what a vortex is, go flush the toilet. When the water swirls around just before it all goes down the drain, that's a vortex.
Update: Grrr!! Don't piss on my leg and tell me it's raining!
Sunday, February 11, 2007- - -
Nursery rhymes they didn't tell us
From my dad. A sample:
Mary had a little lamb,And my favorite:
Her father shot it dead.
Now it goes to school with her,
Between two hunks of bread.
There was a little girl who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good, she was very, very good.
But when she was bad........
She got a fur coat, jewels, a waterfront condo, and a sports car.
Casper Star -- "Wee Bowhunter," the announcement reads. "There will be another bow hunter in the woods. Canyon Michael Eisenbraun left the blind on February 2 in Casper, to enjoy the great adventure. His hunting weight was 6 lbs. 14 ounces, and he had a draw length of 19.5 inches."Don't miss the part where the guerrilla marketer responsible for the recent Aqua Teen Hunger Force furor was arrested wearing a Lander Bar T-shirt. He may lose his allowance, but I'm sure that will be good for a few free drinks.
The announcement lists his parents (from Casper) and grandparents, sets from Casper, Upton and Clearmont.
"He is already a natural at squeaking like a varmint calf and will soon be stalking the woods," the announcement concludes.
Update: Looks like there's going to be general peepee-whacking in the Aqua Teen affair. Jim Samples, the head of the Cartoon Network, resigned Friday. Sean Stevens and Peter Berdovsky (he of the Lander Bar T-shirt) have been arraigned, charged with "placing a hoax device".
Big Bucks for Broken Rocks
An interesting article in today's Casper Star about Jeb Taylor, "a buyer and authenticator of projectile points". Arrowheads, spear points, atlatl dart points, that sort of thing. Authenticating points has become a business opportunity because some have made a business of faking them, most notably Woody Blackwell, who's discussed in the article.
Collectors and traffickers in antiquities like Jeb Taylor look aghast at those who counterfeit artifacts, and well they should. As I've noted before, it's pretty much impossible to tell if a projectile point is genuine, or a skillful fake. This has driven down the value of all but the most well-documented collections. That may be a bad thing for the collectors, but it's a good thing for historic preservation: It takes the money out of wholesale looting of archaeological sites on public lands. If you've looted some remote archaeological site you can't very well document the provenience of your artifacts without incriminating yourself.
So, in an odd way, Woody Blackwell has probably done more for the cause of historic preservation than most professional archaeologists and historians ever will.
Saturday, February 10, 2007- - -
"These things are all about revenue."
Says the InstaPundit of traffic cameras. What can I say but "Indeed".
No one expects the global warming inquisition
The Volokhs have some interesting posts (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) on global warming and the attempts to quash debate. Referring to this as an inquisition is apt, I think.
Bowhunters carrying [gasp] guns?
CHEYENNE -- Bowhunters would be allowed to carry firearms for self-defense during archery-only hunting seasons if legislation unanimously endorsed by a House committee Friday becomes law. The bill now moves to the full House; it already has been approved by the Senate.My wife is aghast that I don't carry a gun when I'm bowhunting, so she'd be much in favor of this legislation. I'm ambivalent. On one hand, I certainly support the right to bear arms. On the other, why hunt with a bow if you have so little faith in it? My bows are deadly weapons, probably as effective as a handgun would be in fighting off a grizzly (which is to say not terribly). The guys who tease big bears at short range carry things like .458 Winchester Magnums and I'm not going to lug one of those, so I don't particularly worry about it.
Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, is sponsoring the legislation. He said allowing bowhunters to carry firearms is consistent with an individual's constitutional right to bear arms.
"I sorta think we should write laws that conform to the Constitution," Case said.
"I'm a bowhunter, and I want to be able to protect myself," [Dennis Biddle, a bowhunter from Lander] said. "I feel like the current law violates that right."
Steve Martin, vice president of Bowhunters of Wyoming, said the group is opposed to the measure because carrying firearms is contrary to the sport of archery hunting.
On the third hand, I don't particularly approve of 'purchasing proficiency' by using the sort of high tech, mechanical bows that are no doubt popular with many Bowhunters of Wyoming members, but I wouldn't sponsor legislation to make them use bent sticks and string. To each his own.
The US "Fish and Wolf Service"
JACKSON -- The federal government can't legally allow Wyoming to kill wolves to protect big game until wolves are removed from federal protection, the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says.Politics? I never would have guessed. The USFWS knows they'll be crucified on the coasts if they start using the methods it would require to control the wolf population. Governor Freudenthal knows he'll be pilloried if he doesn't demand that the wolf population be controlled. Not a lot of room for compromise there. And then we get the bonus, another wolf article today:
But state officials question whether the federal agency even tried to make such an accommodation.
Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal seemed particularly bristled at a Friday news conference by the FWS's response, saying if federal officials "want to come to their senses, we're glad to talk to them."
He said federal officials allow the state to kill wolves impacting livestock, but not wildlife. That sentiment is based on politics, not science, he said.
Freudenthal characterized the FWS's response as "it's too much trouble for us to accommodate a change" in existing rules.
And, Freudenthal said before wolves are formally removed from the ESA, there could be 40 wolf packs eating exclusively elk that the state could not control.
In a high-spirited, often angry and name-calling press conference Friday in Cheyenne, [Wyoming Senate President John] Schiffer said it appears the Fish and Wildlife Service's idea of managing wildlife is to manage solely for wolves, and Freudenthal said he was surprised the federal agency appears to be the "Fish and Wolf Service."
"Basically what we were told is take a hike and go look at your elk while they're still alive," Schiffer said. "Because if the wolf population keeps growing, they (elk) are not going to be there that long. We find that very disappointing."
Friday, February 09, 2007- - -
Howlin' about wolves..
WASHINGTON -- Rep. Barbara Cubin, R-Wyo., this week asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to hold a public meeting in northwest Wyoming on the proposed delisting of gray wolves under the Endangered Species Act.Just spank 'em, Cookie! Those "large areas of population" won't be affected by wolf reintroduction nearly so much as the rural areas surrounding Yellowstone. The cities are also hotbeds of liberalism [everything is relative!] compared to the rural areas. If I were with the USFWS public relations office and wanted to find a sympathetic audience for these hearings I'd much rather go to Cheyenne than Worland or Powell. But I'm sure that never crossed their minds when choosing their venues.
The agency plans to hold such meetings in six states, including one in Cheyenne on Feb. 27. But Cubin wants an additional hearing that would be easier for people in the northern part of the state to attend.
"We are trying to hit large areas of population that are affected by this rule," [Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Sharon] Rose said. "We'll consider that request but haven't had time to look into it enough to give you a good answer."
Meetings will be held between Feb. 27 and March 8 in Cheyenne; Salt Lake City; Helena, Mont.; Boise, Idaho; Pendleton, Ore.; and Spokane Valley, Wash.
"These wolves were re-introduced against the wishes of local and state authorities and have cost Wyoming's livestock industry hundreds of thousands of dollars due to heavy predation, in addition to significant losses to our big game herds," [Cubin] wrote.
The wolf was brought into Wyoming with promises that Fish and Wildlife would closely monitor and track its whereabouts," Cubin wrote. "Unfortunately, this has proven nearly impossible and several industries in Wyoming have paid the price," she said.
Today's article notes that a 60-day comment period on the proposed delisting started yesterday. It would be interesting to see the comments and track them by residence of the commenters, as I suspect the results will be very polarized, with folks in cities and far away from Yellowstone much more favorable.
Thursday, February 08, 2007- - -
A strange sort of 'domestication'
Those who study such things will tell you that the domestication of animals often involves breeding for neotenous traits -- the retention of juvenile characteristics in the adult animal -- often resulting in a less aggressive, more docile critter. The InstaPundit suggests that the netroots are being domesticated. However, in this case the process would appear to involve an infusion of adult traits in the previously juvenile.
Or not. Here's the statement of one of the newly domesticated:
"... It was hard letting go of a platform where I can just run my mouth, but the fate of the world is important enough that I’m willing to play nice."A blogger with "the fate of the world" in her hands? That sounds more like delusions of grandeur than domestication.
Off the beaten track
I've been studying the topographic maps of Big Bend and noticed that there are "tinajas" -- tanks -- depicted here and there out in the desert, many with no visible trail accessing them. I asked at the park visitor's center and was told that, with a few restrictions, we could hike anywhere we wanted.
So.. here we are. A small drainage has formed a nick point where it flows off a stratum of hard limestone, carving a small depression that holds water. One of those secret spots in the desert that I love.
The hiking trails throughout the park have been well-marked and well-maintained, and we haven't been bothering with map and GPS for the most part. These tinajas are another story, however. They're out in the flats and very well hidden. It's easy to find them with a map and GPS, but it would be devilishly difficult to find them using only map and compass because there's next to no landmarks or topography to navigate by.
We'll have to check out a few more of these.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007- - -
Not to be forgotten
Having been privileged to meet a couple of folks who were active in the Deacons for Defense and Justice, it's always nice to see someone recognizing their considerable contribution to the civil rights struggle. The Deacons demonstrated that the Second Amendment is truly the right that secures all the others.
Airbrushing the blog archives?
Jeez. If I went back and deleted every stupid thing I've said over the last five years it would be a full-time job.
Things that make you say Hmmm..
So, just how many cub scouts must a lion eat before children are actually banned* from a trail? Inquiring minds want to know.
*Not that children should be banned from the trails. Getting kids outside running around in the hills is a good thing. Nor are they any noisier than many adults. Sound carries a long way out here and we've gotten to enjoy several conversations from afar. In response we tend to listen a lot and talk only a little, probably why we've seen quite a lot of wildlife.
Not so fast!
Via the InstaPundit, Arnold Kling says we should Save the Marriage:
The typical libertarian shorthand is that we are with the Democrats on social issues and with the Republicans on economic issues. In recent years, the Republicans betrayed us on economic issues. However, my sense is that many in the conservative movement are anxious to repent. On foreign policy, I think that we can gradually persuade more of them to come to their senses on the challenges of the Natural State.Human nature being what it is, I suspect that the party in power will always seek greater power, which inevitably translates into bigger government. Thus, the Republicans are only for smaller government when they're not controlling the government, and the Big Government Conservatism of the last twelve years was no fluke. As I find the policies of Liberal Big Government considerably less alarming than those of Conservative Big Government, I'll think long and hard before casting a vote to put Republicans back in the saddle.
Meanwhile, the Democrats seem to be completely dug in to hard-left positions on economics. They lack any vision for foreign policy. I think we should stick with our marriage to conservatives, and try to make it work.
If the intent is to achieve smaller, less intrusive government, it might be better to have Liberal Big Government's foot on the accelerator with conservatives applying the brake, rather than having Conservative Big Government at the wheel with liberals hollerin' "Faster! Faster!"
Spend some on paint!
Sounds like the Park Service is getting a big funding boost, with a significant amount of the money coming from private donations. We haven't noted any particular maintenance problems here in Big Bend NP, but we were a bit shocked at how run-down and shabby many of the buildings in Yellowstone were when we visited this last fall.
We understand that other legislation has allowed each park to keep more of the entrance fees and other money collected, rather than having the money go into a fund that's divied out by DC. I should think that would help Yellowstone, with 3 million visitors a year, but I don't know what it will do to the smaller parks.
I suppose they want to keep the park experience affordable, but they might also consider an increase in entrance fees: We bought a $50 annual pass when we visited Big Bend last February and we've probably spent 30 days in the parks in the last year on that pass. That's pretty darn cheap recreation. Oh, and the cheapest place around here to buy a nice bottle of wine is in the park concessionaire's stores. Go figure.
Tuesday, February 06, 2007- - -
I've been remiss..
I've been spending far too much time bellyaching about the news and news gatherers, and not nearly enough time bellyaching about the lousy scenery. I mean really! Hike all the way to the top of the Pinnacles Trail (yes, from waaay down there) and find the perfect spot to take a photo looking back north on the Chisos Basin, and there's a big honkin' white water tank in the middle of the photo. (Okay, so you can't see it, but I know it's there.)
Then I try to add a little cheese to my whine by posting the photo to make you all jealous (is it working?) and Blogger is running even sloooower than uuuuusual. Tsk!!
About the time I was snapping this photo along came the Park Service mule packers with a load of supplies for their trail-building crew. The guy leading the pack string looked familiar somehow, but I didn't place him until last night, when he was "guest bartender" down at La Kiva. Yep, it was our harmonica-playing Don Sharlow. Anyone whose day job involves staring at this gastly scenery should be singin' the blues, eh? I understand he makes a mean martini too. A man of many talents.
Update: I should note that we've been out day-hiking on the trails in Big Bend nearly every nice day for the last month, so we can attest that Sharlow and his crew are doing a fantastic job on the trails. We don't appreciate just how good the trails are until we wander off them and are reminded once again that every bit of shrubbery out there has thorns, spines, or needles and one or another of them usually has you by the leg.
Monday, February 05, 2007- - -
Yes, we're still in Terlingua
We came down for a week, we've now stayed a month, and we're paying for another two weeks today. What can I say? We find the wildlife fascinating (and we're having fun during the day too [grin]). The weather has improved considerably, and we find that our social calendar is full for the foreseeable future.
I'm sure Terlingua isn't everyone's cup of tea. There's no traffic cameras and not a single functioning stop light in all of Brewster County -- they seem to like it that way -- but if you can get along without all the trappings of civilization, this is a darn nice place.