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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A Coyote at the Dog Show

Saturday, March 31, 2007- - -  
Rules were meant to be broken amended
One of the big concerns with wolf delisting has been whether Wyoming would be able to kill wolves to conserve other wildlife populations, chiefly elk, during the delisting process. "Sorry" said the feds, "that's against the rules". Well now it appears that the USFWS will be changing the rules. They'll have a proposed amendment to their 10(j) rule drafted by May for public comment.
[Mitch King, regional director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service] said for Wyoming to be on board with the current delisting proposal -- out for public comment now -- a plan would have to be submitted by May.

But Wyoming Attorney General Pat Crank said the state won't and can't have a new wolf management plan by May.

"It's pretty ironic that after stonewalling us for three years, they're asking for something by May," Crank said.

He said the state is "charging ahead as hard as we can" with its lawsuit to force the federal government to accept Wyoming's 2003 wolf management plan. Approval of a state wolf plan is necessary for wolf delisting to proceed in Wyoming.
I don't know whether Wyoming's 2003 wolf management plan would have allowed killing wolves to relieve pressure on elk herds -- I suspect that's always been dependent on this 10(j) rule -- but it's noteworthy that the USFWS continues slowly crumbling to our demands. This time I suspect it has something to do with the realization that if they don't reduce predation there won't be any elk, or wolves, left in the area of northwest Wyoming where they've been threatening to retain management. This would leave them responsible for managing an area where the prey population has been devastated and their reintroduced predator has departed. That wouldn't speak well for their management skills, nor would it leave them anything to manage.

@11:09 AM

Calvin showed me a video last night that I've got to share. Although young South Korean Jeong-Hyun Lim has been kicking around Youtube for a couple years, it appears he hasn't found his way down to this end of the swamp. His nom de guerre is "funtwo" and he plays guitar as if the instrument were designed for him. So, get a funtwo seat and watch Canon by Johann Pachelbel. Incredible.

@8:59 AM

Friday, March 30, 2007- - -  
Mandatory gun ownership?
Well, it does seem to be the only interpretation of the 2nd Amendment that would be consistent with the politically correct interpretation of the rest of the Bill of Rights. However, I'd be willing to allow those who can pass a background check to get a license not to own a gun..

@1:47 PM

Pessimistic, or just realistic?
Yes, we're up to our hip pockets in snow. In response, the Casper Star's sidebar poll today asks: "Do you expect another snowstorm this spring, after the current storm blows through?" With 227 responses, 175 (77%) say "Yes" and 52 (23%) say "No".

Of course, even the weatherman doesn't know what's going to happen, but having been snowed on every month of the year here in Wyo., I'm down on the side of the majority on this one. At least if I'm wrong it will be a pleasant surprise.

@12:26 PM

This moves me to profanity
As you all know, a few days back the Iranians captured 15 British seamen. Took them right out from under the nose of an escorting British warship, which did nothing. Are people screaming for some Iranian heads? Why no. Instead the British seamen are being excoriated for 'giving aid and comfort to the enemy' for not resisting their captors, apparently to the point of rape, torture, and death. Worse yet, the woman hostage is sending a bad message by smoking on TV!

Oddly, there's been a whole lot less outrage for this: "Britain exported over $700 million in goods to Iran last year and is one of their major trading partners." In fact, Iran and the Brits are very good trading buddies:
The 10-seater Britten Norman Islander aircraft was delivered to Iran's Civil Aviation Organisation last week, said Dean Ghobadi commercial director of PAAviation, which provides aviation products and services to Iran.


"This hasn't happened since 1979," said Ghobadi. "The Iranians are delighted and have expressed interest in a further five aircraft".

He said the multi-purpose aircraft could be used for civilian skydiving training, as an air ambulance, as a regional commuter plane, for transporting VIPs or for coastal patrols.

The sale, approved by the British government, comes at a time of heightened tensions between London and Tehran following Iran's capture of 15 British Navy sailors and marines in the Gulf last week.
[emphasis added]
Yes, I'm sure that "civilian skydiving" is real big in Iran and I'm sure those coastal patrols were to protect swimmers on their beaches too. Well, at least the Brits are getting some backbone and have frozen all business ties with Iran, so they won't be getting another five aircraft any time soon. Must have been the reaction to letting a woman smoke on TV.

@10:43 AM

Wednesday, March 28, 2007- - -  
Now that's ornery
Bill Quick points to a very interesting essay on global warming by Orson Scott Card.

@8:09 PM

Sunday, March 25, 2007- - -  
The InstaPundit notes that hotels often charge exorbitant fees for wifi access. I've been seeing exactly the opposite at RV parks. A couple years ago they commonly charged a fee for access and some still do, but quite often now "free wifi!" features in RV park advertising. I too have an EVDO card, but I'll take the free wifi when it's available, as most places don't have broadband EVDO (including Worland, alas!).

I sympathize with the problem of needing internet access for multiple computers. My wife -- yes the low-tech one who avoided getting a cell phone for years and refused to even learn how to turn on a computer for years -- has decided she wants a laptop with internet access (as much as I gripe about the Casper Star, it's a darn good newspaper compared to many we've encountered on the road). EVDO is expensive, but I'm thinking a wireless LAN with my laptop as server should solve the problem and allow both of us to use one EVDO card (further research will be required here). But then, I'm not quite the volume user that our InstaPundit is.

@9:36 PM

"That time down in Mexico, I got some bad guac.."*
Poor Al. Via the InstaPundit, via Roger Simon, comes this interesting Rasmussen poll that says only 24% of Americans consider Gore an expert on Global Warming. What's scary about that I suppose is that 24% do consider him an expert. Even scarier: "Women, by a 2-to-1 margin, say Gore knows what he is talking about. Men, by a similar margin, say he does not. ... By a 65% to 9% margin, Democrats say that Gore knows what he’s talking about. By a 57% to 11%, Republicans say he does not." Whew! It would be hard to find a more clear-cut political and sexual divide on any subject and I wonder what good will come of so polarizing the issue.

Roger Simon says:
Gore's problem may stem from the attitude inherent in his remark before a Congressional Committee quoted further down in the Rasmussen article: "Global Warming is 'not a partisan issue; it's a moral issue.'" Wrong, Al. It's neither. It's a scientific issue.

And, considering the Rasmussen Poll, most of us apparently know it.

When I first viewed Gore's Oscar-winning movie, it was that very thing that immediately occurred to me: why am I listening to a politician talk about this? Why not a scientist or scientists? You could cut the inauthenticity of the whole enterprise with a knife ...

... After viewing the movie I was less troubled with the global warming issue and more troubled by Gore's narcissism - not exactly the result intended. ...
There's that whole morality thing again. I suppose you can't set yourself up as an environmental messiah without a coming apocalypse and eternal damnation for those who don't repent right now. As usual sackcloth and ashes are involved. 'Course we all know what usually happens to would-be messiahs. One of Simon's commentors wonders if Gore has lost his mind, and I've got to agree. The guy is turning concern for the environment into a circus side-show.

Pray people don't start throwing fruit, Al.

@7:58 PM

How purty!
Just finished reading Ed Lovette's excellent little book The Snubby Revolver. The first thing that caught my eye was the beautifully engraved snub gun on the front cover. No, it's not covered in Nimschke's finest floral engraving from butt to muzzle, it's an otherwise unadorned blue finish with a simple script in block lettering on the right side of the frame that reads "to REX from FITZ". Inside the cover an explanation is offered:

Cover photo: One of the premier examples of the snubby revolver breed is this "Fitz Special," a .45 Colt New Service revolver customized by the legendary J.H. FitzGerald for the late Col. Rex Applegate. Colonel Applegate carried this rare revolver instead of his official sidearm throughout World War II and as a personal defense weapon for many years after the war.
Yep, it has a very familiar-looking bobbed hammer and cut-away trigger guard. Unlike my little Chief though, it's in .45 Colt, the heavier calibers being favored for conversion by FitzGerald. A lot of thump in a relatively small package.

Lovette's book is an excellent overview of the pros and cons of these admittedly marginal weapons and he spends a good deal of time discussing tactics for their employment. Lovette is absolutely right that the chief advantage of snub guns is that you'll carry them when you might otherwise be tempted to go unarmed. He illustrates this with several horror stories of unarmed men -- including his former boss William F. (Bill) Buckley, who went out without his gun in Beirut and was kidnapped and tortured to death -- and ponders what might have happened if each of these folks had been carrying a trusty snubby.

At the same time, he recognizes that it's not always possible or desirable to carry a gun, and a lot of his tactics take that into account: 'Do you want "Macho Motha" engraved on your tombstone?' He and I both favor 'strategic withdrawal' as Option #1. I'm all in favor of employing my limited track and field skills in threatening situations -- what some folks might term running away. If that makes me a wimp, so be it, but I'd prefer to read all about the altercation in next day's newspaper, complete with somebody else's eyewitness account. The Very Best Way to win a gunfight is not to get in one.

I employed strategic withdrawal one night when things started getting hinky in one of the watering holes down in Laramie. With no dog in the fight I wasn't going to get bit trying to break it up (the bar had a bouncer who did break it up, or so he thought). I figured it would be wise to be elsewhere if things got any farther out of hand. Missed the shooting by five minutes and saved myself a lot of time testifying in court in what was essentially a "no humans involved" situation. I'm not the least bit sorry I didn't stick around to see what happened.

At any rate, a highly recommended read. Lovette has been there and knows whereof he speaks.

@9:52 AM

That's what you get for thinking
BILLINGS, Mont. -- There are now at least 1,300 wolves prowling Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, far more than anyone imagined when the species was reintroduced in the Northern Rockies 12 years ago.

The wolf population has, on average, grown by about 26 percent a year for the past decade. The latest estimates, which summarize counts completed at the end of 2006, show they aren't slowing down."

I keep thinking we're at the top end of the bubble," said Ed Bangs, wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "I can't see that there's room for any more, but we'll see."


The fastest-growing area for wolves last year was in Wyoming outside Yellowstone National Park. The number of wolves jumped by 31 percent, going from 134 in 2005 to 175 in 2006.

With that increase, 123 cattle were reportedly killed by wolves, more than has ever been recorded in Wyoming since the reintroduction. In response, 44 wolves were killed*, which is also a record for that time period.


The number of elk, which are wolves' primary winter prey, has declined 50 percent in the area since 1995. A decreasing prey base and increasing wolf density is likely to mean a decline in wolf numbers over the next several years, biologists said.


The latest proposal is to delist wolves in Montana, Idaho and all of Wyoming except for the northwest corner.

If the proposal goes through, Montana and Idaho would take over full management of wolves in those states and would be allowed to use hunting as a way to manage their numbers. In all but the northwest corner of Wyoming -- where they'd still be managed by the federal government -- wolves would be treated as predators and subject to unregulated killing.
The most remarkable anatomical feature of wolves, and the easiest way to distinguish them from dogs forensically, is to note their long legs. Wolves can cover a lot of ground very quickly, as illustrated by those that have turned up in Colorado and Utah. I rather suspect that as the elk population declines in northwest Wyoming the wolves won't stay there and starve, they'll come looking for lunch elsewhere. Thus, the feds retaining management of wolves in northwest Wyo may well become a moot point. Of course, as long as the feds retain management of wolves in the northwest, they also retain responsibility for the decline of the prey populations. Elk reintroduction, anyone?

*This is really the most infuriating part of wolf reintroduction. The feds reintroduced wolves, the wolves act like, well, wolves, so the feds kill the wolves. You'd almost guess that the whole point of the exercise was to insure full employment for wildlife biologists.

@8:22 AM

Saturday, March 24, 2007- - -  
Say Hallelujah!
Rev. Rebekah Simon-Peter:
"All we have to believe is the planet is worth saving, and we can do something about it."
Further evidence that global warming is a moral crusade:
Simon-Peter is one of approximately 1,000 "global-warming messengers" for The Climate Project, Gore's Nashville, Tenn.-based organization. The messengers were trained in early January in Nashville by a faculty that included Gore, University of Michigan climate scientist Dr. Henry Pollack, and Kevin Coyle, Vice President of Education for the National Wildlife Federation.
Yep, she's on a mission from Gore.

Should we find this surprising? Well, no. Gore did attend Vanderbilt Divinity School and, while he didn't do so well academically, I think we can assume that he learned something he's found of use in his evangelism. Those C's & D's in science and economics? I suppose we shouldn't be too surprised about that either:
Simon-Peter provided the Soroptimists with handouts that prescribe a personal course of action, like installing more efficient light bulbs, purchasing alternative energy credits and purchasing a fuel-efficient vehicle.
Salvation by Subaru. All ya gotta do is believe! Say Hallelujah!

And now the ushers will pass the plate.

[Sigh] Threats of damnation coupled with personal salvation easily purchased? I think I've heard this before. I suppose I shouldn't be too hard on the good Reverend, she's probably quite sincere and urging people to conserve is a worthy endeavor. But this 'save the planet' missionary fervor is a bit over the top and our salvation won't be purchased nearly that easily. I can't help thinking that all they need is a big tent, some folding chairs, and a portable organ. And to complete the parody, maybe a few environmental cripples to cast off their Hummers and walk again.

@6:48 AM

Friday, March 23, 2007- - -  
"Like this!"
Big Honest Al explains how he gets along without toilet paper (necessary if you're going to be carbon neutral, doncha know).

Update: Via the Lone Star Times comes news that the sun is getting warmer. How.. inconvenient. Jeez, and I thought that the warming on Mars was caused by the exhaust from those darn rovers.

Another update: Well yeah, I'd be kinda annoyed too! (HT: Dan Collins)

@4:21 PM

Oh, baby!
Al Gore to Congress:
The planet has a fever. If your baby has a fever, you go to the doctor. If the doctor says you need to intervene here, you don't say I read a science-fiction novel that says it's not a problem. You take action.
According to Minnesota Public Radio
Gore told lawmakers they should cut carbon dioxide and other warming gases by 90 percent in the next four decades to avoid a crisis.
Ninety percent? Here's an Inconvenient Truth for you: That isn't going to happen. Even if the US stopped emitting carbon dioxide tomorrow China and India would more than take up the slack in a few years.

Back at the DenverPost:
[Sen. James Inhofe] asked Gore whether he would sign a pledge to use only as much electricity at his Tennessee home as the average American uses, instructing Gore to only answer "yes" or "no."

"We buy green energy," Gore said, referring to energy produced by windmills and solar cells. "We do not contribute to the problem."
And that is a whole lot of.. [cough] ... well, somebody ought to send a sample to the University of Wyoming.

Here's one place I disagree with the InstaPundit. It is a moral crusade, complete with Gore as Don Quixote, and windmills. Lots of windmills. Except we get Brunhilde instead of Sancho Panza. Heh. And in searching to make sure I'd spelled Sancho's name right, I learn that "Quixote" probably derives from the Catalan cuixot "... a reference to a horse's rump." Need I say more?

@10:34 AM

A half-ton squid?
Man, that will make calamari rings the size of car tires. Car tires would probably be less chewy though..

Update: Hmmph, should have read the rest of the article:
At the time it was caught, [squid expert Steve] O'Shea said it would make calamari rings the size of tractor tyres if cut up _ but they would taste like ammonia.


O'Shea said the squid is priceless to scientists, and would be worth many millions of dollars if insured.
Fishing trip to Antarctica: $100,000
Great big net: $50,000
Landing the world record squid: Priceless

@10:01 AM

Thursday, March 22, 2007- - -  
Sniping at the NRA
The Casper Star is shooting Maggie's drawers in their recent editorial attack on the NRA. Their March 1st editorial is only slightly farther behind the journalistic curve than the NRA was behind the grassroots uproar over Jim Zumbo's ill-considered pot shot at the owners of "terrorist guns" that look like assault weapons. The Star's editors are even farther off the mark in suggesting that Zumbo's 1st Amendment rights have been trampled.

The comments on the Casper Star's articles usually devolve into name-calling and off-topic rants pretty quickly, so I usually don't bother to comment. I couldn't let it pass in this case though. My response to their editorial and its ensuing comments:
I'm sure enjoying the calm, reasoned, and on-topic discussion of this issue!

The Editors should go back and re-read the 1st Amendment -- "Congress shall make no law.." right? Well, Congress had nothing to do with Zumbo losing his job. Outdoor Life employed him because his writing sold magazines. Advertisers sponsored him because his writing sold guns & outdoor gear. When the readers started cancelling their subscriptions and threatening to boycott his advertisers he was dropped like a hot rock by his publishers. They weren't trampling on his 1st Amendment rights, they chose not to employ someone who had become a liability to them. If I recall correctly, the Casper Star has done exactly the same when that shoe was on their foot.
Make no mistake about it, Zumbo was bagged, gutted, and skinned before the NRA ever got involved. If anything, it appears likely that the NRA was only responding to complaints by their members, just as his other sponsors had responded, by severing their ties to him. People probably wouldn't have complained to the NRA if Zumbo hadn't wrapped himself in the NRA flag and told everyone he's the gun owner's best friend in his equally ill-considered apology.

Ultimately, Jim Zumbo violated one of the rules of gun safety: Be sure of your target! He fired a shot without having the foggiest notion who he was shooting at. Several thousand of his targets, already sensitized by impending assault rifle legislation (of which he should have been aware), returned fire. He wanted them banned from "the praries and woods". They wanted him banned from the fraternity of gun owners. He missed. They didn't.

Update: Here's a great discussion of the Zumbo Affair. The author and various others try to defend Mr. Zumbo, but "kldimond", who appears about two-thirds way through the thread cuts to the chase. No, it's not me, but I absolutely agree with his reasoning and conclusions and I only wish I could present my arguments as well as he does.

Partway through the same thread appears an interesting bit by HuffPo writer and DC resident KD Friedman, who thinks Jim Zumbo was right on (thanks, Zumbo!). She's gratified that no one in DC can legally 'keep a gun under their pillow'. She'd probably be shocked to know that the last time I was in DC a federal law enforcement officer loaned me a 1911 and advised me not to leave the house without it. Nice town they've got there. No, I didn't keep it under the pillow, I kept it in the bedside drawer.

Some are shocked, SHOCKED, at Zumbo's treatment, but I've got to think that going all Roman on Zumbo was a good thing. The occasional crucificion certainly focuses the mind, and it will be a long time before of any other gun scribblers think of throwing the AR owners to the wolves.

@11:04 AM

Picked up Under the Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life Among the Pirates at Borders in Santa Fe and finally finished reading it. As the title suggests, its a fascinating examination of the myth and reality of robbery on the high seas.

Life in the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries was commonly 'nasty, brutish, and short', the life of a pirate even moreso, and most quickly came to a bad end. David Cordingly amply illustrates the dangers and miseries common to life on a sailing ship -- mostly tiny, leaky wooden boats -- the frequent brutality visited on sailors by their superiors, the toll taken by tropical disease and poor diet, the frequency of maiming injuries in sea battles, and the short drop and long hang in chains the pirate had to look forward to in the unlikely event that he survived that long.

Quite unlike most books on such historical subjects, Cordingly also questions the curiously romantic vision we have of those times, although he doesn't speculate much on the origins of the myth beyond noting that pirates led exciting lives in exotic locales. Of course, we see this same sort of idyllic vision of the much less than idyllic reality in many works of historic fiction, and not a little that purports to be historic fact. 'The good old days' is a common theme and has deep roots going all the way back to, well, Eden. I'm not a psychologist, but I wonder if this common vision doesn't stem from our common origin as children and our vague memories of that simpler, more worry-free time. Sort of a psychological recapitulation (which turns out not to be a terribly original insight).

A good and thought-proviking read and highly recommended.

@6:12 AM

Wednesday, March 21, 2007- - -  
Things that make you say Hmmmm..
So, if I have no bumperstickers does that mean I have no personality? I prefer to think that I like to keep 'em guessing.

Ps. I did like one I saw awhile back:
"Yes, as a matter of fact my mom did drop acid. Why do you ask?"

@6:04 PM

Saving the earth, one lightbulb at a time!
Riiight. But considering that I shouldn't knock what I haven't tried, and not being adverse to saving a few bucks on the electric bill, I bought a couple of GE energy smart 26W/100W equivalent fluorescent bulbs. Zounds! The light they give is about what you'd get from an arc welder. Very bright, very blue, and very harsh.

By this time I was wondering what that InstaPundit was thinking, so I went and found his post on the GE bulbs.. Oops, he recommended these GE soft white fluorescents. Grumble. Back to the store, I picked up a couple of the soft white 26W/100W equivalent bulbs, figuring I can use the energy smart units in the garage or basement. As usual the InstaPundit is right. Side-by-side I can't tell any difference in the quality or color of the light from one of these and a 100W incandescent bulb. No difference whatever. Mine don't flicker either. They're perfectly fine light bulbs, a bit spendy at first but they're supposed to last 8000 hours so they should save a bunch of money in the long run. Seems like a good deal to me.

Just don't do what I did and buy the wrong ones! The soft whites are absolutely the way to go. And now I can feel good about cruising in the 3/4-ton, knowing I've done my bit. Err.. Well, perhaps I'd better install just a few more of those low carbon fluorescents before I pat myself on the back too hard.

@4:24 PM

Tuesday, March 20, 2007- - -  
Talk about your Montana v. Idaho rivalries!
Here's a story I'd not heard before: The Unibomber meets Elmer Keith!

@8:48 AM

"No gun will permit you to miss fast enough to succeed in the field.."
Ross Seyfried extolls the virtues of the Ruger No. 1B and single-shots in general in an all too brief article at I can't help but agree, but I might be biased: Deep Throat is a 1B and one of my all time favorite rifles (start here and scroll down for a month's worth of discussion on Deep Throat and other larger than life rifles). I think he's absolutely right that a single-shot confers a certain psychological advantage.

Deep Throat is also the only Ruger No. 1 I've had any experience with, but if it's any indication, the one weakness of the design is a somewhat iffy extractor, at least for belted cartridges. That placed some limitations on my load work with the throated .338, as casings would stick in the chamber long before extraction would have been a problem with a bolt gun. Now that I've got a chronograph I've been meaning to dig the Throat out of the safe to see just what sort of velocity I've been getting and perhaps work up some loads with the new Barnes Triple-shocks and other super premium bullets.

Unfortunately, it's those same premium bullets that have caused me to leave the .338 in the safe. Here again, I think I'm coming around to Seyfried's point of view, that with these bullets and careful shot placement, a .270 will about do it all on critters up to elk-size. Oddly enough, I've been shopping for a Ruger No. 1B in .270. I'll have to look harder. [Sigh] But would I use it? I've been having an awful lot of fun hunting with bent stick & string..

@7:00 AM

Monday, March 19, 2007- - -  
Great minds think alike!
Okay, perhaps I flatter myself unduly, but here's what the InstaPundit has to say on global warming:
I don't know a lot about climatology. But I know a lot about media bulldozing operations, and I see one of those in action at the moment on this subject. (Kind of like this one).

However, my own position is that it doesn't matter much in terms of policy. We should be trying to mimimize the burning of fossil fuels regardless of whether it's a cause of global warming or not. The rather patent hucksterism -- and outright bullying -- of some global warming advocates, though, will probably hurt that cause more than help it over the longer term.
I don't know much about media bulldozing, but I do know a bit about past climates. It troubles me that so much is being made of anthropogenic global warming, when the projected effects, even in the worst case scenario, are pretty darn trivial compared to what we know the earth's climate has thrown at us in the past and will undoubtedly throw again. Given the proposed remedies for this barely perceivable anthropogenic global warming, remedies that are by turns draconian, unrealistic, and simplistic, I'd hate to see what would be proposed if the climate takes a serious turn for the worse, which it will sooner or later.

I also strongly agree that it doesn't matter whether anthropogenic global warming is real. We still need to reduce pollution in all its forms, just as a quality of life issue. That the solutions to anthropogenic global warming being proposed generally overlook any consideration of the effects or needs of the emerging third world -- or indeed the wants and needs of our own citizens -- doesn't bode well for attempts to reduce pollution or find realistic alternative energy sources that can accomodate our ever-increasing global energy needs. Scolding people isn't going to work. Jetting about the world scolding people for jetting about the world is likely to convince a lot of folks that our would-be saviors are profoundly unserious. As they are.

@9:57 AM

Lay that burden down..
The InstaPundit links to an interesting short article by Michael Barone. I think he's at least partially right in blaming higher education for the 'blame America first' set, but I think it goes deeper than that:
"They always blame America first." That was Jeane Kirkpatrick, describing the "San Francisco Democrats" in 1984. But it could be said about a lot of Americans, especially highly educated Americans, today.

In their assessment of what is going on in the world, they seem to start off with a default assumption that we are in the wrong. The "we" can take different forms: the United States government, the vast mass of middle-class Americans, white people, affluent people, churchgoing people or the advanced English-speaking countries. Such people are seen as privileged and selfish, greedy and bigoted, rash and violent. If something bad happens, the default assumption is that it's their fault. They always blame America -- or the parts of America they don't like -- first.


The default assumption predisposes them to believe that if there is slaughter in Darfur, it is our fault; if there are IEDs in Iraq, it is our fault; if peasants in Latin America are living in squalor, it is our fault; if there are climate changes that have any bad effect on anybody, it is our fault.
Yes, and if we drive a big car it's not because we know it's more survivable in a highway crash, it's because of those leather seats. We're evil, we're selfish, we just don't care about those poor Bangladeshis. It's that ol' White Man's Burden. The Eurocentric view of the world that sees non-European cultures as childlike and sees it as our moral and philanthropic duty to help the rest of the world, even save them from themselves, whether they want our help or not.

Yes, we get a good deal of this through our higher education. I once took a series of classes on the ethics of cultural anthropology that argued that an anthropologist doing fieldwork has a duty to try to keep his 'subjects' from adopting anything of the modern world, essentially to keep them as primitive and natural as possible. This was seen as being in opposition to organizations like the Peace Corps, who attempt to provide some of the modern amenities to these folks. Of course, neither the anthropologist nor the Peace Corps volunteer pause to consider what the locals want.

Well, guess what? In that particular case the locals didn't want to hang on to their stone axes, nor did they particularly want the larger, better egg-laying chickens provided by the Peace Corps. They wanted shotguns, they wanted TVs with VCRs, and they wanted Toyota pickup trucks. I can relate to that, but it came as an astonishment to the folks actively trying to do them good. In the end the locals got what they wanted, not what we wished to give them, or withhold from them.

Funny how that works. No matter how much we scold people, educate them, or try to raise their consciousness, they tend to do what they want, whether that's driving a car they feel safe in, going skiing in Vail, living on a major floodplain in Bangladesh, or jetting around the country scolding people for jetting around the country. The pursuit of happiness is pretty much a universal; attempts to thwart that pursuit generally don't succeed.

@8:15 AM

"My Dear Gov. Freudenthal: I have recently escaped from the Republic of the Congo with some very large sums of moneys I would very much like to invest in your state.."
CHEYENNE -- A total of 42 people from Canada, the Republic of the Congo and throughout the United States, including Wyoming, have applied to be named chief executive officer of the Wyoming Business Council, the co-chairman of the board says.

@8:06 AM

Sunday, March 18, 2007- - -  
"Save the planet by all means, but spare us the myths and platitudes of these 'green' politicians"
Via the Cambridge Conference newsletter comes a link to this bit on global warming in the Daily Mail:
A.N. WILSON -- While China builds five power stations a week, and while India carries on its programme of industrialisation to keep up with its great rival and to combat its own desperate poverty, British citizens will be made to feel naughty for having a summer holiday which involves a cheap air journey, or for loading the kids into the back of the car for a day out with granny.


If China continues to build power stations at its present rate, within a couple of years, it will be emitting more greenhouse gas than has ever been produced in the history of the human race.

In 2005 alone, it produced the equivalent of all the power plants in Norway and Sweden.

Britain and the United States became, in their day, world superpowers by the building up of huge industrial might. In so doing, they made themselves rich, and this wealth had a hugely beneficial effect upon the lives of the great majority of its citizens, including those who worked in industry.

On the other side of the coin, of course, we all know that the great industrial towns of the North of England, for example, were major pollutants of the atmosphere, that many workers in coal mining, steel-manufacture or the potteries led miserably short lives, their lungs choked and the countryside all around them wrecked.

The Chinese and the Indians are now undergoing their great industrial revolution. How dare the rich nations, they ask, turn round and accuse them of polluting the planet when the countries of Al Gore (with his energy-consuming mansion) and David Cameron (one of the mostst privileged men in Western politics) are now basking in the effects of 'their' phase of pollution?

This is the really major problem facing the world today.
The flip side to being made to feel guilty for driving a car is, of course, being told we can save the earth by changing to florescent light bulbs and recycling our trash. Assuming for the moment that anthropogenic global warming is actually occurring and will pose a problem, any solution to this warming that doesn't take into consideration the energy needs of the emerging third world is no solution at all. Even if we dismiss global warming as a problem, the pollution that we're going to see from India, China, and the rest of the newly industrializing nations will surely be horrendous. Also, as global demand for energy increases we're going to see ever more competition and conflict, and higher prices, for ever more scarce commodities.

Interesting times we live in.

Update: [Sigh]:
STATELINE, Nev. - Mammoth Mountain urges its visitors to park their cars and take advantage of an extensive bus network. The Vail resorts, including nearby Heavenly at Lake Tahoe, run their lifts with wind power. In Colorado, the Sunshine Express high-speed quad at Steamboat operates on sunlight.

The ski industry is going green to help offset the pollution that feeds global warming _ a phenomenon that challenges the resorts' very existence with the threat of later snowfalls and earlier snow melts.
Righto! Now how do all those people get to the mountains to ski? Do they fly? Do they drive? Well, yeah. And all the energy they burn on these totally unnecessary jaunts, and all the power consumed by these totally unnecessary ski resorts, no matter how it's generated, creates totally unnecessary pollution. But the ski industry and all the people who support it feel good about themselves because their ski lifts are solar-powered. They're not wasting quite as much energy or creating quite as much pollution as they could be!

Don't get me wrong, I like to ski and heaven knows I've put a few unnecessary miles on the ol' pickup the last couple of months. Also, every little bit of energy conservation helps and I think that increasing the demand for renewable energy is a good thing. But don't tell me you're saving the earth while you encourage people to jet on out to Vail.

@8:17 AM

Friday, March 16, 2007- - -  
Yes, it is a National Treasure
RAPID CITY, S.D. - Actor Nicolas Cage and a film crew are expected to arrive next month to film portions of the sequel to the 2004 motion picture "National Treasure" at Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

The producers of "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" have not yet gotten a filming permit from the National Park Service. Gerard Baker, Mount Rushmore superintendent, said he is still reviewing the plans but thinks there will no problems getting a permit.
Glad to hear my old friend Gerard is staying busy. This story is otherwise unremarkable, except that the Casper Star has it classified as "Wyoming News". Mt. Rushmore is in South Dakota (Gateway to North Dakota!). It's only fair I suppose, since South Dakota is always claiming Devil's Tower in their tourism ads.

Update: As far as I know, no one depicts any North Dakota landmarks in their tourism ads. But then, having been born and raised there, I'm pretty sure there are no landmarks in North Dakota.

@6:40 AM

The yellow rose of Texas?
Don't know. It looks just like a primrose, but it's yellow. Found this one growing along the road down to Terlingua Abajo. Purty little thing whatever it is.

Update: Hmm.. nope. All the roses I see when I search for The yellow rose of Texas are your basic domestic roses in saffron hues. Further research is required.

@6:03 AM

Economics, the dismal science
CODY -- A University of Wyoming economist has found a 28 percent drop in Park County winter tourism since 1999, a figure that differs sharply from a National Park Service analysis showing tourism to be flat over the same period.

In a report released last week, David Taylor said the decline has "increased the seasonality of the travel industry in the county" and made travel-dependent businesses more vulnerable.

Opponents of a proposal by the Park Service to close Sylvan Pass to winter vehicle traffic have cited Taylor's findings as a good reason for Yellowstone National Park planners to reconsider their decision and discuss keeping the pass open.
Tourism is our #2 industry, right behind oil & gas, and Cody began its existence when Buffalo Bill picked the spot as the ideal place for a tourist trap on the eastern gateway to Yellowstone. A 28% drop in seasonal tourism is a big deal for Cody and our whole corner of the state. Of course, this also illustrates that you can prove just about anything you want with statistics:
Yellowstone spokesman Al Nash said the two studies appear to use different methods but called Taylor's numbers "helpful" and "substantive."

Part of a Park Service report released in December examined the potential economic effect on gateway communities of proposed winter-use changes.

Declining snowmobile entries "have not detectably impacted the overall winter tourist economy in the counties as measured by monthly lodging tax collections," said the report, which specifically examined Park County numbers.

While Taylor found lodging tax collections down 28 percent in the 2005-06 season from the 1998-99 season, the Park Service report showed the numbers to be essentially the same.
All depends on how you massage your numbers and what you're trying to prove. It's amazing how different the findings of two perfectly honest and reputable researchers can be. The devil's in the details and when you're dealing with complex statistics there's a lot of details to quibble over. Let the quibbling begin!

@5:25 AM

Time to rent another bus?
SHERIDAN (AP) -- The Sierra Club is urging is members in northeast Wyoming to oppose construction of a planned coal-fired power plant near Gillette.

Adam Rissien, associate regional representative of the Sierra Club in Sheridan, said his group has sent out an alert encouraging its members to oppose Basin Electric Power Cooperative's application for a state air quality permit.

"We're basically opposed to any new coal plants, especially these old style, 19th century pulverized coal plants," Rissien said.

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality has recommended the permit be issued, saying the proposed plant would be one of the cleaner ones in the nation.
They might have a little trouble getting the Sierra Club members in Gillette to turn out; the town's been supported by oil & gas and coal mining for many years and putting a Sierra Club bumper sticker on someone's vehicle there would probably be considered a mean practical joke. But it's not that far from Bouldah and a caravan of Colorado SUVs would fit right in on I-25 -- it's springtime in Wyoming, the license plates are turning green.

To be fair, we saw just as many Montana plates on vehicles yesterday on our way north to Douglas. Wyoming plates? Not so many. With unemployment the lowest it's been in 28 years they're all at work.

@5:12 AM

Whoo Hooo!!
A couple years ago when I bought this Verizon EVDO card they advertised nationwide access, with broadband access in 50 cities. Some non-specific promises were made to expand the area covered by broadband, but in all our travels since I've never found one of those broadband areas. No biggie, the regular access is somewhat faster than the dialup I had at home, any improvement is nice, and the EVDO card sure beats hell out of running to the library to send my daily reports to my client of the moment when we're working and on the road.

But something's just changed. Perhaps it's increased pressure from competition with Sprint and other new wireless providers, but when we arrived in Douglas, Wyo. (Home of the Jackalope!) last night I couldn't connect to the KOA's wifi for some odd reason, so I logged on to Verizon and lo and behold, I've got Broadband access! For the first time ever. In Douglas, Wyoming. Population.. maybe 6000? But hey, it's quick, like a bunny. A horny bunny even. Ain't technology grand? Add a little competition and the sky's the limit.

Sure hope they've upgraded to broadband at home in Worland, where we'll be tonight. I'll kiss the ground when we get there regardless. L. Frank Baum was right.

@4:50 AM

Thursday, March 15, 2007- - -  
Megan McArdle -- ON GLOBAL WARMING Let me clarify a little my position. I think there are a lot of questions about global warming: how much, and what, should be done. However, I regard two questions as basically no longer worth debating, at least by people with my level of science education:

1) Is AGW happening?
2) Should we do something about it?
A strange attitude for a blogger, or someone with a background in, you know, science. Declaring the debate closed is more the tactic of a political polemicist who doesn't want to actually argue their position. And then there's this:
Unfortunately, I think that politics renders the questions that are worth arguing, pointless; we won't find a political solution to the problem because . . . mmmmmm, leather seats. I'm hoping instead for a technological breakthrough that renders the question largely moot. Meanwhile, I'm buying real estate in the Canadian hinterlands. [emphasis added]
We're just too selfish to do anything about this great environmental and moral crisis, doncha know? Those poor, poor Bangladeshis would appear to be doomed. Doomed! And when it happens it will be because we didn't want to plunk our butts on cold, plastic seats for the daily commute. Nevermind that if every American were to scrap their car tomorrow it would make little difference with 600 million Indians and 1.3 billion Chinese buying Buicks and looking for a place to plug in their new toasters.

As for a technological breakthrough, we wouldn't get many of those if scientists didn't question and debate the current paradigms.

@7:31 AM

Predicting the highly predictable 24/7!
James Taranto asks: "By the way, have you noticed that Cindy Sheehan has fallen off the face of the earth since she disrupted some Democratic events in early January?" Heck, I didn't just notice it, I predicted it at the time. I'm tempted to pat myself on the back, but a lot of people had to have seen that coming.

@7:22 AM

GLENROCK -- Beaming town officials welcomed rifle and ammunition manufacturer A-Square Company to Glenrock Wednesday, during a press conference and lease-signing ceremony at city hall.

The firm plans to relocate its Bedford, Ky., rifle division to Glenrock. Company founder Art Alphin said with a bit of luck, local operations could begin in May.


Glenrock Mayor Steve Cielinski said his community is a good fit for a rifle manufacturer.

"We've been kind of a shooting mecca for the state," he said. "A lot of small shooting industries have been located here."
A lot of small shooting industries have been locating in Wyoming. My favorite, the Ballard Rifle & Cartridge Company, makes some of the most gorgeous rifles I've ever drooled upon up in Cody.

@6:37 AM

Wednesday, March 14, 2007- - -  
Chicken Little shown the door
Blogging at the InstaPundit's, Ann Althouse links to a NYTimes article which notes that quite a few reputable scientists are unimpressed with Al Gore's global warming alarmism:
Criticisms of Mr. Gore have come not only from conservative groups and prominent skeptics of catastrophic warming, but also from rank-and-file scientists like Dr. [Don J. Easterbrook, an emeritus professor of geology at Western Washington University], who told his peers that he had no political ax to grind. A few see natural variation as more central to global warming than heat-trapping gases. Many appear to occupy a middle ground in the climate debate, seeing human activity as a serious threat but challenging what they call the extremism of both skeptics and zealots.

Kevin Vranes, a climatologist at the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado, said he sensed a growing backlash against exaggeration. While praising Mr. Gore for “getting the message out,” Dr. Vranes questioned whether his presentations were “overselling our certainty about knowing the future.”


Mr. Gore depicted a future in which temperatures soar, ice sheets melt, seas rise, hurricanes batter the coasts and people die en masse. “Unless we act boldly,” he wrote, “our world will undergo a string of terrible catastrophes.”


Some of Mr. Gore’s centrist detractors point to a report last month by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations body that studies global warming. The panel went further than ever before in saying that humans were the main cause of the globe’s warming since 1950, part of Mr. Gore’s message that few scientists dispute. But it also portrayed climate change as a slow-motion process.

It estimated that the world’s seas in this century would rise a maximum of 23 inches — down from earlier estimates. Mr. Gore, citing no particular time frame, envisions rises of up to 20 feet and depicts parts of New York, Florida and other heavily populated areas as sinking beneath the waves, implying, at least visually, that inundation is imminent.

Bjorn Lomborg, a statistician and political scientist in Denmark long skeptical of catastrophic global warming, said in a syndicated article that the panel, unlike Mr. Gore, had refrained from scaremongering. “Climate change is a real and serious problem” that calls for careful analysis and sound policy, Dr. Lomborg said. “The cacophony of screaming,” he added, “does not help.”

So too, a report last June by the National Academies seemed to contradict Mr. Gore’s portrayal of recent temperatures as the highest in the past millennium. Instead, the report said, current highs appeared unrivaled since only 1600, the tail end of a temperature rise known as the medieval warm period.

Roy Spencer, a climatologist at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, said on a blog that Mr. Gore’s film did “indeed do a pretty good job of presenting the most dire scenarios.” But the June report, he added, shows “that all we really know is that we are warmer now than we were during the last 400 years.”
An excellent article and well worth the read. If nothing else, it underscores that there certainly is not a scientific consensus to support these visions of impending doom, and makes it clear that the climate is continually changing.

Lomborg, I think, has it right: Climate change is a serious problem that merits a great deal of additional study. And climate change is the proper term. We know without a doubt that the climate is constantly changing. In the long term we must find some way to adapt to the hotter and colder, wetter and drier climates that we know have occurred in the past and have every reason to believe will occur in the future.

The Chicken Littles of global warming, squawking and flapping over some perceived short-term weather trend, aren't really contributing to reasoned dialogue on the subject. Further, with their alarmism they risk a backlash that threatens those seriously studying the climate change problem, and risks having much needed pollution control and alternative energy research dismissed as just more of their over-hyped snake oil.

@8:07 AM

Tuesday, March 13, 2007- - -  
Estufa Canyon
Another great, off-the-beaten-path spot in Big Bend NP, most notable for these deeply eroded alluvial fan deposits. Not as scenic as the Chisos or as appealing as the oasis-environment of the tinajas and Rio Grande river, but it's geologically fascinating.

I've only posted a few of the hundreds of photos I took this winter at Big Bend, but give me time! Yes, we've fallen in love with the place.

@7:57 AM

First-grade science meet first-grade math
I ran across an interesting article on global warming a couple days ago in the print edition of the DenverPost. Bill Becker, former Department of Energy official and executive director of the Presidential Climate Action Project at the University of Colorado, makes several good points:
As we plan a response to global warming, many good thinkers are grasping at simple solutions to a very complex problem.

Take nuclear power, for example. Some of the nation's most respected environmental leaders, who a year or two ago would never have endorsed the reincarnation of the nuclear industry, now say it is a necessary step to slow climate change.

But as we discuss what to do about climate change, government officials, technology experts and the public all should keep a few basic facts in mind:

Virtually every energy technology available today produces greenhouse gas emissions, including nuclear power. The myth that nuclear power or "clean coal" technologies are carbon-free illustrates how many of the nation's thought leaders are using first-grade math on the complex calculus of climate stabilization.
He's right that the climate and pollution are complex, but "climate stabilization"? That's first-grade science. As I've pointed out numerous times, the climate has never been stabile. The climate of the last few thousand years has been very good to us -- try to imagine modern civilization arising during an ice age -- but that is happy coincidence, not some normal, Eden-like state of affairs that's been upset by us evil humans.

Becker obviously dislikes nuclear power, but his alternatives -- "aggressive energy efficiency" for example -- are more of a pander to the SUV Greens than a realistic response to the emergence of the third world. Still, a very interesting article and worth a read.

We drove into Denver yesterday for some power shopping, an experience that always reinforces my belief that pollution control is a worthy effort. I don't want to live where the air smarts my eyes and I'm well aware of how fortunate I am that I don't have to. Too bad we can't address pollution as a quality of life issue without hyping the effort as a messianic "save the world" measure. Then again, as China and India and the rest of the populous third world emerge, we had better come up with some realistic energy alternatives for them. Demanding that someone who's never had electricity start using florescent bulbs ain't going to cut it.

@7:13 AM

From the Truer words were never spoken file
David Harsanyi on speed limits:
According to CDOT's "Why Speed Limits?" establishing "realistic" speed restrictions is more vital than trying to control drivers. Studies demonstrate that most citizens will drive at a speed warranted by conditions and ignore the speed limit when it is too low or too high.

"A realistic speed limit is voluntarily obeyed by the reasonable majority," it states.

"Reasonable" and "realistic" are the key words here. Words that government agencies rarely use.
Harsanyi and I seem to see eye to eye on many things, such as Colorado's insipid new "second state song":
John Denver's "Rocky Mountain High" deserves its place in Colorado ... in Muzak form on supermarket speakers or during a marathon Time Life infomercial hosted by Air Supply.


Now will Colorado be the first state to pick a song that endorses the high life?


Some readers, no doubt, will claim that Denver was referring to a spiritual awakening that can happen in the glorious Rocky Mountains. When Denver croons about friends around a campfire "and everybody's high," he merely means folks are high on life.

Fact No. 2: No one was high on life in the '70s. They were just high.
It would appear that a majority of Colorado's lawmakers still are..

@6:51 AM

Saturday, March 10, 2007- - -  
From Roughing It
Along about an hour after breakfast we saw the first prairie dog villages, the first antelope, and the first wolf. If I remember rightly, this latter was the regular coyote (pronounced ky-o-te) of the farther deserts. And if it was, he was not a pretty creature or respectable either, for I got well acquainted with his race afterward, and can speak with confidence.

The coyote is a long, slim, sick and sorry-looking skeleton, with a gray wolfskin stretched over it, a tolerably bushy tail that forever sags down with a despairing expression of forsakenness and misery, a furtive and evil eye, and a long, sharp face, with slightly lifted lip and exposed teeth. He has a general slinking expression all over. The coyote is a living, breathing allegory of Want. He is always hungry. He is always poor, out of luck, and friendless. The meanest creatures despise him, and even the fleas would desert him for a velocipede. He is so spiritless and cowardly that even while his exposed teeth are pretending a threat, the rest of his face is apologizing for it. And he is so homely! -so scrawny, and ribby, and coarse-haired, and pitiful.

When he sees you he lifts his lip and lets a flash of his teeth out, and then turns a little out of the course he was pursuing, depressses his head a bit, and strikes a long, soft-footed trot through the sagebrush, glancing over his shoulder at you, from time to time, till he is about out of easy pistol range, and then he stops and takes a deliberate survey of you; he will trot fifty yards and stop again- another fifty and stop again; and finally the gray of his gliding body blends with the gray of the sagebrush, and he disappears. All this is when you make no demonstration against him; but if you do, he develops a livelier interest in his journey, and instantly electrifies his heels and puts such a deal of real estate between himself and your weapon that by the time you have raised the hammer you see that you need a Minie rifle, and by the time you have got him in line you need a rifled cannon, and by the time you have "drawn a bead" on him you see well enough that nothing but an unusually long-winded streak of lightning could reach him where he is now.

But if you start a swift-footed dog after him, you will enjoy it ever so much- especially if it is a dog that has a good opinion of himself, and has been brought up to think he knows something about speed. The coyote will go swinging gently off on that deceitful trot of his, and every little while he will smile a fraudful smile over his shoulder that will fill that dog entirely full of encouragement and worldly ambition, and make him lay his head still lower to the ground, and stretch his neck further to the front, and pant more fiercely, and stick his tail out straighter behind, and move his furious legs with a yet wilder frenzy, and leave a broader and broader, and higher and denser cloud of desert sand smoking behind him, and marking his long wake across the level plain!

And all this time the dog is only a short twenty feet behind the coyote, and to save the soul of him he cannot understand why it is that he cannot get perceptibly closer; and he begins to get aggravated, and it makes him madder and madder to see how gently the coyote glides along and never pants or sweats or ceases to smile; and he grows still more and more incensed to see how shamefully he has been taken in by an entire stranger, and what an ignoble swindle that long, calm, soft-footed trot is; and next he notices that he is getting fagged, and that the coyote actually has to slacken speed a little to keep from running away from him- and then that town dog is mad in earnest, and he begins to strain and weep and swear, and paw the sand higher than ever, and reach for the coyote with concentrated and desperate energy. This "spurt" finds him six feet behind the gliding enemy, and two miles from his friends. And then, in the instant that a wild new hope is lighting up his face, the coyote turns and smiles blandly upon him once more, and with a something about it which seems to say: "Well, I shall have to tear myself away from you, bub- business is business, and it will not do for me to be fooling along this way all day"- and forthwith there is a rushing sound, and the sudden splitting of a long crack through the atmosphere, and behold that dog is solitary and alone in the midst of a vast solitude!

It makes his head swim. He stops, and looks all around; climbs the nearest sand mound, and gazes into the distance; shakes his head reflectively, and then, without a word, he turns and jogs along back to his train, and takes up a humble position under the hindmost wagon, and feels unspeakably mean, and looks ashamed, and hangs his tail at half-mast for a week. And for as much as a year after that, whenever there is a great hue and cry after a coyote, that dog will merely glance in that direction without emotion, and apparently observe to himself, "I believe I do not wish any of that pie."

The coyote lives chiefly in the most desolate and forbidding deserts, along with the lizard, the jackass rabbit, and the raven, and gets an uncertain and precarious living, and earns it. He seems to subsist almost wholly on the carcassses of oxen, mules, and horses that have dropped out of emigrant trains and died, and upon windfalls of carrion, and occasional legacies of offal bequeathed to him by white men who have been opulent enough to have something better to butcher than condemned Army bacon.... He does not mind going a hundred miles to breakfast, and a hundred and fifty to dinner, because he is sure to have three or four days between meals, and he can just as well be traveling and looking at the scenery as lying around doing nothing and adding to the burdens of his parents.

We soon learned to recognize the sharp, vicious bark of the coyote as it came across the murky plain at night to disturb our dreams among the mail sacks; and remembering his forlorn aspect and his hard fortune, made shift to wish him the blessed novelty of a long day's good luck and a limitless larder the morrow.

-- Mark Twain

@4:39 PM

They're just no darn fun at all!
Another good reason not to be a conservative.

@3:55 PM

Friday, March 09, 2007- - -  
What are ya thinkin'?
A boy, a girl, a bear, and a 100-acre wood? That would never get a G-rating.

@4:41 PM

Paging Jeff Goldstein!
Cock fighting to be banned in New Mexico. No word on whether slapping will also be outlawed..

@7:03 AM

Canada spelled backwards..
Browsing the internet for "navigator" watches (it would be terribly handy to have a watch that can tell time in two time zones for times like this), I came across the delightfully named ADANAC Navigator. It's made in Canada and, according to this web site, ADANAC is indeed "Canada spelled backwards". Why does that strike me as terribly funny?

@6:39 AM

Privatize military health care?
Hmm.. Via the InstaPundit, Tom Smith has an interesting idea. The comments are also well worth reading, the key point being that your health care is pretty much dependent on the competence of the individuals treating you and even the VA has some competent people. As I'd noted earlier though, if care at Walter Reed, a premier facility, is that bad, imagine what it's probably like at your average VA hospital in Podunk.

I'm not so sure that medical vouchers are the way to go. That makes it sound like each service member would receive a flat amount, when costs of health care vary enormously. Some form of medical insurance might be a better idea. Whatever. Our service members put their lives on the line, they and their families deserve first rate medical care.

I particularly enjoyed Smith's parting shot:
And just in case we have to revisit HillaryCare in the future, we should remember this little lesson in what kind of medical care we can expect from the guvment.
Yep. It's not right, but it certainly is predictable.

@5:32 AM

Just jiggle the wires, why doncha?
I've got to laugh at my wireless network adapter software. When the wifi starts acting up it has a "repair" option. You'd think it would run a bunch of complicated diagnostics to find and correct the problem, but no, it just powers off the wireless network adapter, powers it back on, and reconnects. Of course, when I'm having problems with a computer the first thing I do is reboot, so this makes perfect sense; it's simple and effective, but not the sort of sophisticated approach you'd expect from programmers who usually appear never to have heard of the KISS principle.

@4:54 AM

Good thing it wasn't an Osage bow!
BOULDER, Colo.- A substitute music teacher has been arrested after allegedly whacking a 10-year-old student on the head with a viola bow after telling the class they were "the worst players I've ever heard."

Newspaper and television reports said the trouble began when Carla Shinners, 63, a teacher for more than 30 years in the district, was interrupted by a call on her own cell phone. She allegedly began swearing Feb. 12 at the Creekside Elementary School, where she had earned the nickname "Mrs. Grumpy Lady."
Yes, you can guess what sort of "bow" I thought they were referring to. Come to think if it, when I was ten my teacher used to whack me with a chair rung.. but then I deserved it. He never got arrested either.

@4:38 AM

Early to bed, Early to rise!
Just leaves me tired sometimes.. Yes, I did post that last bit at 3:30am, but it's really 4:30 in our peculiar universe. You see, we just came up from Texas (central time zone) to New Mexico (mountain time) four days before Daylight Savings goes into effect. So we were supposed to set our clocks back an hour for four days and then forward again? Yawn!! My head can't take too much of that. I wish we'd stay on Daylight Savings all year. It's positively painful to set the clocks back an hour in the fall and suddenly have it pitch dark until 8am.

@4:26 AM

WASHINGTON - Montana and Wyoming would get a smaller share of $3.1 billion in homeland security grants under a proposal that has pitted lawmakers from rural states against those from more urban areas and sparked a California senator's dig at the West.


"We (in California) have the nation's largest ports, iconic bridges, towering skyscrapers, enormous infrastructure, and the busiest border crossing in the world,"
[Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.] said on the Senate floor. "Texas, with 23.5 million residents, has great cities, towering skyscrapers, vital industries, and a vast international border. Wyoming - I don't want to pick on Wyoming. Love it. But as a state, it is like a national park."


The debate stirred up state rivalries. Feinstein said California, the most populous state, received $2.50 per person in homeland security state grants last year and Texas received $2.25 per person, while Wyoming's share amounted to $14.75 per person.
Why yes, it is rather nice. But with an attitude like that it's easy to see why the national parks are always sucking hind tit for funding: There's no skyscrapers.

On one hand it seems patently ridiculous to have a Department of Homeland Security office in Worland, Wyoming. Equally silly that Washakie County's search and rescue team is now part of the DHS. On the other, as this article ably illustrates, the DHS has become little more than a big barrel o' pork, so we'll take all we can get. Besides, the $14.75 per person that Wyoming receives amounts to $7.6 million for our population of 515,000, while California's 36,132,000 population drags in $90.3 million even at $2.50 a head. Pretty small potatoes to raise such gruntin' & squealin', but I suppose every little pig wants it all.

@3:34 AM

Thursday, March 08, 2007- - -  
It's a matter of personal values..
Beer has food value,
but food has no beer value!

-- Second Street Brewing, Santa Fe
You never know where you'll find such tidbits of folk wisdom.

We finally made it to Santa Fe, where the two feet of snow they got after Christmas has all melted away. We were surprised to see how little snow there is in the mountains above town. A pretty short ski season down here, although it looked like there was still quite a bit of snow in the mountains above Ruidoso.

Now for some serious power shopping. They have a Trader Joe's and a Wild Oats right across the street from each other and we need enough provisions to last a long while. Fortunately, after our long stay out in the toolies the frig and freezer are near empty. We'll soon fill them up! Then it's off to the Plaza to buy presents for another year from all the local silversmiths & jewelers.

Santa Fe has been "discovered", real estate prices are through the roof and OSB & Drivet pseudo-adobes are sprouting like mushrooms all around town. The level of pretentiousness is off the meter -- worse even than Jackson Hole -- but, oddly enough, food prices are very low (26 oz of great whole bean coffee for $10!), the jewelry prices direct from the artisans on the plaza are very reasonable, and we had a great dinner last night for $32, complete with some serious beer value. We can't afford to stay long though, three nights here cost us what a week in Terlingua runs. That high dollar land also makes it about impossible to find a place to park a full-sized pickup -- almost as bad as Denver -- but I take a cue from the locals, who aren't bothered by taking up two parking places with their Navigators. Can't hardly help it, the truck is about 4 feet longer than most parking slots around here.

That is one of the things I liked about Texas: They had manly parking spaces for manly vehicles everywhere we went. Hardly a Prius to be found (Actually, we saw a remarkably large Ford hybrid SUV one day in Big Bend. The engine sounded like a sewing machine, but I suppose the power is a function of the size of the electric motor(s)). I'm waiting for them to come out with something that will tow the land yacht, although our Dodge/Cummins is getting 16 mpg while towing through the mountains. Darn good for something that size, but still painful come time to fill up.

@7:51 AM

Monday, March 05, 2007- - -  
Calling a kook a kook since 2005!
Via the InstaPundit, the Politico says it's time for the Republicans to have a Sister Souljah moment re Ann Coulter. Thankfully, I had that figured out quite awhile back. As I noted then, running OpEd columns by a left-wing kook like Molly Ivans and a right-wing kook like Ann Coulter side-by-side isn't being balanced. At best it's just pandering to kooks of all stripes. At worst, it shows you don't know a kook when you see one, or think that calling your opponents godbags or faggots furthers the cause of rational political discourse. Yes, I suffered from Coulter Fatigue before that was cool.

Got to love the blog post by Rightwing Nuthouse telling us we should never write another blog post about Coulter.. D'oh! I think it's also a little silly to demand that she be taken off the air, lose her newspaper column, and be boycotted at any speaking engagements, if only because it might work. We're known by the company we keep and it's nice to know who'd keep her company; call it a gauge of their seriousness.

@6:15 AM

No need to wonder..
Donald Sensing -- Does Gore have an actual Secret Service detail? Anybody know? John’s email makes another thought occur to me: just what is sucking up all the juice in the Gore house? Multiple home movie theaters? Twelve deep freezers? Three heated pools? What?
I think the answer is obvious -- the weight gain, the glassy stare -- all those grow lights suck a lot of juice. And Tipper playing all those CDs backward to check for hidden satanic messages? That's got to draw some serious power.

HT: InstaPundit

@5:09 AM

Sunday, March 04, 2007- - -  
The old ore tramway
High in the Dead Horse Mountains -- and once you've hiked up there you won't need to wonder why the horse died -- we find the last standing towers of the old ore tramway. Back between about 1909 and 1919 a mine just outside Boquillas, Chihuahua, produced lead, zinc, and silver, the lead & zinc being valuable war materials at the time.

Rather than refine the ore on the spot or haul it in wagons or trucks directly from the mine to the mill, the ore was loaded in small buckets and transported across the Rio Grande and up to the south end of the Ernst Basin, a bit over 6 miles, in a tramway (something like a ski lift), and then transferred to wagons and trucks to be hauled to a mill. Go figure. But it's an interesting piece of historic engineering that makes me wonder if engineers back then didn't build things just because they could, just like they do today.

After finding a few pieces of the raw ore scattered around at the ore terminal on the north end of the tramway, I wonder less about why they transported the raw ore rather than milling it on-site at the mine. The stuff is incredibly heavy and must have assayed out at some very high percentage of metal. They weren't hauling that much rock.

@9:09 AM

And now, a cheerful note on climate change..
An interesting article on drought and climate change in today's Casper Star. As I've stressed on several occasions, the current global warming predictions are based on only 30-40 years-worth of accurate meteorological data, at best, which is then extrapolated out for a couple hundred years to predict disaster what would be minor problems, really.

Unfortunately, if we look at the geological record, we see that the climate changes of the last 1000 years -- both warmer and colder, wetter and drier -- are more radical than most anything the global warming alarmists are predicting. Look at the last 15,000 years and you've got an ice age with a mile-deep sheet of ice covering most of North America north of the 40th parallel, and a millenium-long drought that had open blowing sand extending from western Wyoming to central Nebraska. None of that climate change can be realistically attributed to anthropogenic causes.

Yes, we should limit burning of fossil fuels as much as possible, if only for quality of life reasons (my eyes are smarting at the very thought of heading back up the Colorado Front Range next week) and because hydrocarbons are too valuable for manufacturing in the long-term to burn them in the short-term (although there's a lot more oil and gas out there than most people think). However, we shouldn't delude ourselves that we can somehow stabilize the earth's ever-changing climate by driving a Prius and buying carbon offsets.

We had better start figuring out how to live with climate changes more severe than anything found in the global warmers' wildest dreams, or a major part of the human population is doomed. Nor do we necessarily have a couple hundred years to work on the problem as the current global warming paradigm would suggest. It appears that some climate changes in the past occurred rather abruptly, for reasons we're only barely beginning to understand. Those climate changes destroyed civilizations that were living a lot closer to the earth, with a lot smaller population than we have now.

We need to apply a whole lot more science and a whole lot less hype and tripe to this situation.

@8:03 AM

Ernst Tinaja
Another of those special spots that make the desert so fascinating.

@6:51 AM

Mangy mutts!
BILLINGS, Mont. -- The war on wolves took a strange twist in the winter of 1905.

After two decades of paying bounties for hundreds of thousands of dead wolves in Montana, the Legislature approved a new law -- "to provide for the extermination of wolves and coyotes" -- dabbling in the emerging practice of biological warfare.

The idea was simple and cheap: capture wolves and coyotes, infect them with mange and send them back into the wild.


Now, 102 years after the Montana law was passed, the same disease is threatening wolves in the country's signature population in Yellowstone National Park.

Earlier this winter, wolf biologists found the aging alpha male of Mollie's pack stricken with mange. About 40 percent of his body hair was gone. The 9-year-old wolf hasn't been seen for weeks and may already have died, park officials said.

It's unclear exactly how he got it but, now that it has arrived in Yellowstone, there's a concern that it could take hold in the park population where wolves intermix regularly, said Doug Smith, leader of the Yellowstone wolf project.
Okay, that's got my skin crawlin'.

@6:47 AM

Western wheatgrass?
CHEYENNE -- In addition to adopting a $470 million supplemental budget this session, the Legislature created a slew of new laws, with topics ranging from tax breaks to the official state grass.


Wyoming Business Council

* What the law does: Eliminates the sunset date for the Wyoming Business Council, which was set to dissolve on July 1, 2008.

* Who it affects and when: Wyoming Business Council employees and state economic development activities.

* What it costs: There is no cost.
The WBC operates at no cost to the state? I'd like to know how they figure that the WBC's annual budget isn't a cost. And then there's the hidden costs of having bureaucrats meddling with businesses and free enterprise throughout the state. (Update: Also, let's not forget that the WBC's solution to Wyoming's economic woes is to raise taxes everywhere possible. No cost there.) From the looks of this I'm surprised the legislature didn't make the official state grass Nebraska ditchweed.

@6:30 AM

'Scaring the c-c-carbon out of people'
An inconvenient truth that appeared at Jeff Goldstein's. I like the idea I proposed at Jeff's too.

@5:17 AM

Saturday, March 03, 2007- - -  
Santa Elena Canyon
After several hikes down the Rio Grande into the canyon we finally hit it near dead calm yesterday, allowing the obligatory mirror image shot. It truly is a magical place and worth the whole trip.

@4:34 AM

Gov. Dave signs wolf bill
CHEYENNE -- Gov. Dave Freudenthal signed a bill Friday that gives his administration authority to negotiate with the federal government the boundaries of a permanent wolf management area in northwest Wyoming.


"Always before, the discussion was, 'Well, we can talk about it, but we've got to see what the Legislature wants to do and whether they'd support it,"' Freudenthal said. "This puts us in a position where collectively the legislative branch and the executive branch have said to the federal government, 'If you'll respond on these kind of issues, this bill can become law, and these can become the terms under which we can proceed to move forward."'

Mitch King, regional director for the Fish and Wildlife Service in Denver, said he's excited by Freudenthal's signing of the bill.

"That's taking us a bold step forward, and I think it's a good move by the state of Wyoming," King said. "I know there were a lot of folks who argued against, it, but I think this kind of opens the door and allows us to move ahead. I think the ball's kind of in my court now."
Sounds like all that's left is negotiating the particulars of the USFWS' departure. The wolves can stay -- at least some of them -- but the Fish & Wildlife Service has got to go.

@4:25 AM

Friday, March 02, 2007- - -  
Okay, I'll ask the obvious question..
Walter Reed is one of the Army's premier medical centers, yet conditions there are so bad that Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey has resigned. What do you suppose that says about conditions at the Army's less than premier medical centers, Hmmm? I suspect that we haven't heard the half of it as yet.

@7:34 PM

Enough to make a frequent flier expire?
"Full planes send flier ire higher"

@6:18 AM

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