Monday, April 30, 2007- - -
Ain't that the truth?!
My Dad sends along some corollaries of Murphy's Law:
1. Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.And my favorite:
5. The 50-50-90 rule: Anytime you have a 50-50 chance of getting something right, there's a 90% probability you'll get it wrong.
9. A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.
Thursday, April 26, 2007- - -
Liberty v. Security
A very interesting article in the Wall Street Journal on school shootings:
Among the reasons widely adduced for not doing something about Cho's violent proclivities are HIPAA and FERPA, the confidentiality laws for health records and college students' records. Well, there's no FERPA for high schools. There is merely the weird cultural refusal to turn in bad actors to adult authority. In one school attack, so many students knew it was coming that 24 were waiting on a mezzanine to watch, one with a camera. The enemy is us.It's certainly unconscionable to know an attack is coming and bring your video camera rather than warning anyone. But I wonder where some of this is going. If you know your medical records, particularly records of any mental health screening or treatment, are going to be turned over to your school, your employer, and the local police, are you going to go to a doctor and get help? And if those records aren't made pretty much public, how's the school or employer to know that you need medication, much less whether you're taking it?
Prior to the studied assaults, some 93% of the attackers behaved in ways that caused concern to school officials, teachers, parents, the cops or other students. "In one case, the student's English teacher became concerned about several poems and essays that . . ." well, you know the rest.
Psychological flameouts were indeed present in virtually all the attacks--depression (61%), prior suicidal attempts or thoughts (78%), a sense of loss, feelings of being persecuted or in fact bullied.
What this means is that some college presidents, and their lawyers, rather than rolling over before those confidentiality laws, should tell some aggrieved student who is refusing to take the medication prescribed for his psychosis: So sue! Let a judge decide whether 32 deaths warrant a reconsideration of these restrictions.
Do we stigmatize every person with mental health issues in order to stop the rare shooting spree? I would think the costs of driving the mentally ill underground would far outweigh the benefit. And if we do succeed in driving the mentally ill underground, making it difficult or embarrassing for them to get the treatment and medication they need, we may well be increasing the potential threat.
Likewise, I think there's value in encouraging kids to complain about the bullies in their midst, but this puts an interesting twist to it. If you complain, will those in authority do something about the bully or make a note that you have feelings of persecution? What if we complained about every person we work with that creeps us out? As an employer I've gotten plenty of complaints of the "he smells and he looks at me funny" sort. Well yeah, the guy's more than a little bit overweight. He does smell and he's got understandable issues with women, but he does his job and he does it well. Should I fire him? Insist that he go on a serious diet? Turn him in to the police because he's a textbook case and might go postal at any moment?
I think there's value in examining all these issues and we may well find some answers that help reduce the number of spree killings; but ultimately I suspect that "loony control" will prove as futile and contraproductive as gun control. I'm not sure we want to turn into a society of informers and snitches, or start medicating every kid who writes something wierd or doodles pictures of death's heads and dragons.
Things that make you say Hmmmm..
According to the Wyoming Game & Fish Department wildlife habitat is in tough shape due to eight years of drought. Antelope, deer, and elk populations are all well above the carrying capacity of the range and they want to increase the number of hunting licenses this fall to reduce game populations.
This puts an interesting twist to the recent Casper Star poll that asked about threats to Wyoming's wildlife, listing energy development, urban growth, and wolves as the major threats. Seems drought might pose a greater threat than all those put together. As the Game & Fish folks point out, with the range in bad shape and wildlife malnourished, one bad winter could be devastating.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007- - -
The game is afoot!
Yes, it's open season on one of Wyoming's tastiest denizens, the wiley asparagus. It's not as neat and uniform in size as the store-bought variety, but what it lacks in appearance it more than makes up for in taste.
This is about half of what I picked yesterday, everything I could find along the irrigation ditches within walking distance of the Wringneck. Thought I'd make a clean getaway but I got busted for trespassing before I could get out of the farmyard. The fine was half the take, but that's okay, at this point it's coming up so fast that it needs to be picked every couple of days to keep it from going to seed, and what you see here is still over a pound, more than enough for a good meal.
My doctor keeps warning me that this stuff will give me gout, but it hasn't yet, and I'm willing to run the risk. We'll be having some good eats for the next two or three weeks!
Tuesday, April 24, 2007- - -
You be the judge!
John Edwards has been getting a lot of crap for his expensive haircuts and facials, but the before & after shots suggest that he's getting his money's worth.
According to the InstaPundit, Sheryl Crow now says the one sheet of toilet-paper thing was "tongue in cheek". Sorry, but that calls for more flexibility than I've got..
'Ms. Steinman, meet me in my quarters!'
I'm not sure why this should be "news". I'll never be able to see the judge call attorneys to his quarters again and keep a straight face. Jeez! Both of them?!
'We'll be scanning the crowd now..'
'While security chases that nut down and drags him off the field. Funny, doesn't look like he had that much to be proud of!'
And interesting OpEd by Ed Quillen of the DenverPost on the VT shooting. There's a couple odd things though.
First, post offices are gun free zones. I've even seen a couple lately with metal detectors at the doors. It doesn't bear on the topic at hand, but it's a bit odd.
Second, Quillen gives a rather weak excuse for NBC News' broadcasting of Cho's rants. Here's my response, posted in the comments to his article:
"If NBC had not aired the material, we would be speculating about motives and background and all the rest."
Nice strawman. I haven't heard anyone arguing that the media shouldn't have told us about Cho's videos or what was on them. Rather, that the media shouldn't have broadcast the actual videos.
When someone streaks the ball field they usually tell us what's going on, they just don't put the guy on TV. The sports announcers have also taken to giving some rather cruel descriptions of the guy's physical inadequacies.
Do we really want to give a forum to every nut who screams to the world "Look at me! Look at me!"?? That's exactly what NBC News did. We recognize that it encourages streakers, why can't we recognize that it encourages copy cat killers?
About the time I'm feeling smug about living way out here in the hinterlands where this sort of thing doesn't happen, it does. I suppose no place is completely safe, but I'm thinking this is the first shooting in Worland in maybe 10-12 years? Something like that.
Another interesting sidebar poll in the Casper Star:
Which is the biggest threat to Wyoming's wildlife?With 339 responses, 111 (33%) say "Energy development", 105 (31%) say "Urban growth", 98 (29%) say "Wolves", and 25 (7%) say "Other". Those guys voting for urban growth are the ones who've never been to Wyoming.
And now for something completely different!
An electric Hang Drum. That guy's draggin' an awful lot of music out of what looks like a truck hubcap.
Monday, April 23, 2007- - -
Things that make you say Hmmmm..
The DenverPost has a sidebar poll today to go with their "gun culture" article:
How many people you know own guns?With 229 responses, 12 (5.24%) say "I don't know", 17 (7.42%) say "None", 12 (5.24%) say "one person", 32 (13.97%) say "2-4 people", 41 (17.90%) say "5-9 gun owners", 28 (12.22%) say "10-20", and a whopping 87 respondents (37.99%; including myself) say they know "21 or more gun owners".
The absolute best way to dampen anti-gun hysteria is to introduce people to guns and gun owners. Anyone even remotely objective will soon see that gun owners aren't quite the toothless hillbillies and dangerous loons we're often made out to be and that we are actually pretty normal. Thus, I find this statistic very encouraging.
U.S. cuckoo culture back in spotlight
Okay, that's a riff on my last post, below, but Jonathan Kellerman has a very interesting analysis of the state of the psychiatric art and its politics in the Wall Street Journal.
As one of the folks who have lived with the reality of severe mental illness I can relate completely: "Sir, why are you trying to get rid of your wife?" I find Thomas Szasz' denial of the very existence of mental illness astonishing, particularly since he's a "mental health professional".
I lived in DC back when they threw open the doors of the asylums there and I don't care how bad those facilities might have been, putting those poor people out on the street was an astonishing bit of cruelty.
That said, I'm not sure that modern psychiatry can reliably predict who's going to go violently off their nut. Diagnosing Cho as a classic case is a fine bit of hindsight, but it is hindsight. Do we medicate every kid who has zits, gets picked on, takes pictures of girls with his cell phone, plays violent video games, and/or writes bad screenplays? Do we incarcerate every person who creeps us out?
I absolutely agree that we need to be more aware of the cuckoos in our midst, but these mass murders are exceedingly rare and given the state of the psychiatric art we'd have to medicate and incarcerate a whole lot of harmless people for every Cho we take off the street. I'm not sure that's the answer.
I'm not sure there is a psychiatric answer, at least one we want to contemplate.
"U.S. gun culture back in spotlight"
An interesting article in today's DenverPost. Of course, you can tell from the title of the article where the writer's sympathies lie and it's evident in his analysis as well:
Would more or fewer guns make us safer? Do we need new gun laws or better enforcement of existing laws?The third option, fewer gun laws, is tacitly off the table. Only more laws and/or harsh enforcement are seen as solutions. Never mind that all the laws and enforcement we have now don't seem to be doing much good. Much farther down in the article the effort to repeal the restrictions on carrying guns on campus is noted, but even there it's mentioned as a new law, as if banning guns is the natural order of things and laws must be passed to allow them.
Some of the analysis seems particularly nonsensical, but it's easy to see where the anti-gun crowd are headed:
Handguns account for much of this growth, and semiautomatic pistols - the type of gun Cho used in the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history - have replaced six-shot revolvers as the handgun of choice. Easy to carry and conceal, handguns dominate homicide statistics. In 2005, according to the FBI, they were used to commit eight times as many slayings as shotguns and rifles combined.I'm sure the author thinks this means something, but it's quite unclear how the relative popularity of a type of handgun has anything to do with the frequency of rampage killings. Unless he's saying that every semi-auto owner is a potential rampage killer, or that the very presence of a semi-auto handgun incites rampage killing. At the least they seem to be implying that correlation equals causation*.
After the Columbine massacre, a New York Times study found the death toll from rampage killings grew through the 1990s. It noted the shift coincided with semiautomatic pistols overtaking revolvers in handgun production.
Nor does the sunset of the assault weapons ban get a pass:
Cho also took advantage of Congress' decision to let a national assault-weapons ban - which also limited ammunition clips to 10 rounds - expire in 2004. He bought a semiautomatic Glock pistol with easily reloadable 15-round magazines, which he used with ruthless efficiency.I'm sure most of my readers know this, but the assault weapons ban never did much to affect the availability of high capacity magazines. High-caps manufactured before 1994 were still legal to possess and sell. The manufacturers had months of warning before the ban went into effect and filled their warehouses with legal high-cap magazines. Then they took advantage of the ban to jack their prices two or four times. Bottom line, a few minutes search on the internet and we could find any sort of legal high-cap magazine we wanted, so long as we were willing to pay the price. If anything, the ban only increased the profits of the gun manufacturers and distributors, probably not the effect the gun ban crowd had in mind.
Finally, we drag out this old chestnut:
"Where there's more guns, there's more gun homicide," said David Hemenway, director of Harvard's Injury Control Research Center.Unhunh. Why is it that the folks who compare crime rates between nations never look at the relative crime rates between the US states, where the murder rate is inversely proportional to the rate of firearms ownership? In the US -- which I'll submit ought to be our area of concern -- where there's more guns there's less gun homicide. Where there are more restrictive laws there are more homicides and where guns are completely forbidden, as in Gun Free School Zones, the real massacres occur. Funny that.
In his book, "Private Guns, Public Health," Hemenway calculated that children ages 5 to 14 in the United States were 17 times as likely to become gun- murder victims as children in the 25 other richest nations.
Sigh. I realize that I'm largely preaching to the choir, but I find media bias annoying in all matters and bias in this matter infuriating. It's particularly infuriating -- and telling -- that they're very apparently trying to present a balanced view. Yet, they start right off with the "US gun culture" bit. If we're a gun culture we're even more a car culture, a refrigerator culture, and a media culture. But when the media go looking for the cause of the VT massacre it never occurs to them that the 24/7 news coverage of these events might, just might give some disturbed individuals ideas. Did NBC News fan the flames by airing Cho's video rants? You betcha.
Take it for what it's worth. I think we're going to see a full-court press for a renewed assault weapons ban and a push to include semi-auto handguns. Probably semi-auto rifles and shotguns too. Fortunately, I don't think the American public is quite that stupid. At least I hope we're not. We've tried the anti-gun experiment, but try as we might we haven't been able to find a gun law that the lawless and the lunatics would abide by.
I suggest that before we consider any further restrictions on our 2nd amendment rights we might consider a few reasonable restrictions on the 1st amendment rights of the press. Quite awhile back they figured out that televising streakers at sporting events only encouraged more streakers. Now they don't show us the nitwits that run out on the ball field. Is that censorship? Well sure, but I guess that's okay in the cause of uninterrupted sports telecasting. Why can't some similar standard be applied to mass shootings? As it is our news media are wallowing in the gore and sensation, encouraging copy cats, and excusing themselves because the peepul have a right to know! The bastards.
Wall Street Journal -- But over the past decade and a half, evidence of another sort has been accumulating. Violent-crime rates peaked in 1991, according to the Justice Department, and have fallen steeply since. Over the same period, gun-control laws in many states have been relaxed. Correlation does not equal causation, but it does make it difficult to argue that greater legal access to guns drives up levels of violent crime.Yes, when the statistics don't support the thesis they're quite capable of recalling that ol' 'correlation is not causation' thingy. A good article, read the whole thing.
Friday, April 20, 2007- - -
More wolf wrangling
Here's an interesting bit on the on-going wolf management litigation between the Department of the Interior/USFWS and the State of Wyoming. Seems the state's litigators want to probe the mental processes of the federal decision-makers. Making a snarky comment here would be just too easy.
Thought I'd see how the New Blogger handles photos, so I dredged this one up from the archives. The guy who does these is certainly an artist with an arc welder. This one is in the city park in Greybull, Wyo.
""It's not the wolf, it's the bureaucrats.."
Sounds like they had a lively hearing on the wolf issue up in Cody. Sorry I missed it, but it appears that plenty of the local ranchers and sportsmen were on hand to give the USFWS a piece of their minds.
Thursday, April 19, 2007- - -
Okay, I'm thinkin' about moving
The Knoxville News Sentinel asks: Should Tennessee allow guns in public places? With 1016 votes in, 97% say "Yes". (I'm hoping the response would be similar in Wyoming.)
Seems that the archive method I was using was "abandoned years ago" and now I'm forced to stop using it with New Blogger (But it's so much more reliable! Riiight. It's just not backward compatable.). Well, I found a partial fix here that gives me my archives back in a cute pull-down menu. Unfortunately, it only works on my main page, there's still no archives on the archived pages. Better, but still not quite right. Good enough for now though.
The Virginia Tech shooting..
Thanks to Blogger gettin' all Googled-up I'm about two days late to the topic, but that's okay, there's been plenty of excellent discussion on all facets of the event.
It's a sad state of affairs, but the first thought that crossed my mind when this happened was 'And the screams for more gun control will begin in ten, nine, eight..' They did, right on cue. However, one of the first legacy press bits I read was the ABC News Blotter piece that bemoaned the sunset of the assault weapons and high-capacity magazine ban -- yes, they even admitted they had no idea what sort of weapons were involved, but why miss a gun control talking points opportunity? I was considerably heartened by the response in their comments, which made it clear that their readers weren't buying it; they didn't blame the gun, they blamed the shooter and the "Gun Free School Zone" that made his victims helpless. More than a few of them pointed out that ABC's Brian Ross and Dana Hughes were obviously biased idiots to produce something so news-free and yet so full of party-line propaganda.
So, while the legacy media overwhelmingly call for more gun control (including media in the UK, India, Malaysia, Ireland and other folks with no dog in the fight), the public perception appears to be quite different.
And then there's the politicians. John McCain was one of the first:
LAREDO, Texas (AP) -- U.S. Sen. John McCain says the shooting rampage at Virginia Tech does not change his view that the Constitution guarantees everyone the right to carry a weapon.McCain gets extra points for noting that we have a right to carry a weapon, not just keep one at home, unloaded and safely locked away. However, his follow-up comment that we need to "make sure that these kinds of weapons don't fall into the hands of bad people" is a bit more problematic. All the gun control laws ever written haven't been able to "make sure that these kinds of weapons don't fall into the hands of bad people". Even in Japan, where guns are pretty much totally forbidden, bad people have guns. McCain later clarified that what he meant is that 'the country needs better ways to identify dangerous people'.
"We have to look at what happened here, but it doesn't change my views on the Second Amendment, except to make sure that these kinds of weapons don't fall into the hands of bad people," McCain said Monday in response to a question.
Great idea, but.. How do we "identify dangerous people"? More important, who identifies "dangerous people"? Is every person who's mentally ill dangerous by definition? And aren't we all a bit nuts in one way or another? Some, like my city mouse sister-in-law, might argue that showing an interest in guns is a sign of mental illness. Thoughts of self-defense? Pure paranoia. No offense, but pyschiatry is only one small step removed from the leaches and evil spirits stage of medicine, so I'm less than sanguine about the idea of requiring a mental evaluation in order to possess weapons. Especially if it requires that a "mental health professional" give you a clean bill of health. In these litigenous times I can see them erring on the side of their own safety from liability, can't you?
This is one time that I agree with Ann Coulter (lord forgive me):
The best we can do is enact policies that will reduce the death toll when these acts of carnage occur, as they will in a free and open society of 300 million people, most of whom have cable TV.Lots of folks have observed that we should be mourning this tragedy, not looking for ways to make political points, but I think the best way to mourn is to vow to work toward making it less likely that such travesties will be repeated in the future. The best way to do that, the only proven way, is to make sure that as many law-abiding folks as possible are armed. I'm gratified that the public perception seems to be falling in line with that idea. Gun control has been tried. It's been taken to extremes in some places. It doesn't work and it never will.
Only one policy has ever been shown to deter mass murder: concealed-carry laws. In a comprehensive study of all public, multiple-shooting incidents in America between 1977 and 1999, the inestimable economists John Lott and Bill Landes found that concealed-carry laws were the only laws that had any beneficial effect.
Ultimately, every person must be responsible for their own safety. Some may judge that they're personally safer not having guns. That's okay. Most, I think, will judge that there are times and places where carrying a gun isn't appropriate -- my dear old dad always maintained that you should never carry a gun into a bar or into a bank and I think that's darn good advice -- but I also think we can trust the vast majority of adults to make such decisions for themselves. The government simply can't protect us in all situations. therefore, the government should not get in the way of our protecting ourselves.
Update: Excellent! The push-back begins: "In a surprise move, a [Tennessee] House panel voted today to repeal a state law that forbids the carrying of handguns on property and buildings owned by state, county and city governments — including parks and playgrounds. ..."
McLEAN, Va. - A judge's ruling on Cho Seung-Hui's mental health should have barred him from purchasing the handguns he used in the Virginia Tech massacre, according to federal regulations. But it was unclear whether anybody had an obligation to inform federal authorities because of loopholes in the law that governs background checks. I'm sure there'll be plenty of recriminations over this, but doesn't it really just underscore how hopeless it is to try to pass yet more laws in a vain attempt to stop the bad guys of the world from hurting people? Even if Cho had failed the background check he still could have gotten a gun through a straw purchaser or bought one on the street.
Cho purchased two handguns in February and March, and was subject to federal and state background checks both times. The checks turned up no problems, despite a judge's ruling in December 2005 that Cho "presents an imminent danger to himself as a result of mental illness."
Wednesday, April 18, 2007- - -
Google is being evil again. For a few months now Blogger (which has been acquired by Google) has been advertising a new version in beta. Yeah right. Experiment on someone else, thanks. Then they announced, maybe a month or two ago, that they were out of beta. Fine, but I still prefer not to change over until the bugs are -- mostly -- worked out.
Well, this morning I got a log-in that directed me to the new version, no if's, no and's, no but's. No warning that they'd be doing this either. So, I entered my user name & password as directed and got a "user not found" message. Great! Tried it several times and finally used the "can't remember my password" facility, even though I was certain I knew my password. Got the email back with a link that bypasses the password. Clicked on the link. "User not found". AAAaaaagghh!
Searched their help pages and found that lots of folks are having the same problem. What A Surprise! And the user confusers were patiently explaining that folks need to make sure they have their user names and passwords right. Thanks! (But of course, they're right. Most such problems are operator headspace and timing.) Finally, someone suggested actually going to the link received on a "can't remember my password" request and changing the case of the user name in the link. Strange, but I changed "Swen+Swenson" to "swen+swenson" and voila! I'm back.
Only took me all day to figure it out. What a pain in the ass. Ah well, I suppose I get what I pay for, Hmm?
Update: Oh goody! My archives are toast. So much for their "more reliable" new system. Something to do tomorrow, just what I needed.
To be fair, I've noticed that a lot of folks with their fancy proprietary blogging systems seem to have at least as much trouble as I do with Blogger and they pay for the privilege of constantly fiddling to keep things working.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007- - -
We'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a wolf management plan today
JACKSON -- Federal officials Monday said Wyoming must submit a new wolf management plan by May 1 to meet administrative and legal requirements to allow removal of federal protection of wolves by February 2008 -- the deadline contained in a new state law giving Gov. Dave Freudenthal authority to negotiate the boundaries of a permanent wolf management area in northwest Wyoming to meet federal approval.So.. The State of Wyoming is expected to produce a new wolf management plan, which requires convening the legislature and passing it into law, on very short notice (we've discussed this before). But the USFWS can't possibly amend their rules any time this year. Also, if we give them a new plan that they find acceptable, there's darn little incentive for them to amend their rules at all.
But the governor says that under the law approved by the Legislature during its recent session, Wyoming can't adopt a new wolf management plan until the federal government changes its rules to allow killing of wolves to protect big game animals before delisting. Federal officials have begun the process of amending the rules to allow such wolf control, but the changes aren't expected to be finalized until next year.
If nothing else, I've got to think that this will give us more ammunition for our coming lawsuit: The state legislature has given the Gov the specific authority to negotiate the final details of wolf delisting, and there's not a hell of a lot left to negotiate. Yet, the feds not only refuse to negotiate, they're manufacturing obstacles at every opportunity. It seems hard to argue that they're acting in good faith when they've already capitulated on almost all points in our original management plan and they're refusing to negotiate with the Gov on the final sticking points.
This is shaping up to be a major fiasco for the USFWS. Interesting that Mitch King will have his 30 years in with the USFWS this year and Ed Bangs can't be far from retirement. If they can just stall a little longer the egg will land on someone else's face.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007- - -
Sorry, but I'm losing patience
John McCain is counciling patience in Iraq, as if the surge will do any good while Iran aids the insurgents with impunity. Yes, our military tells us yet again that Iran is training and equipping Iraq's Shiite militias. Meanwhile, a bombing by Islamic insurgents has killed at least 17 people and wounded dozens in Algeria, and North Korea is saying 'thanks for the economic aid, but we don't want to shut down our nuclear reactor after all'. And this is all just in today's Rocky Mountain News.
Over at the DenverPost we're told that the Sadrists are threatening to leave the Iraqi coalition government, Iran is claiming that it has begun nuclear enrichment, and battles are raging in Baghdad. The good news? Well, we did manage to kill four Taliban in Afghanistan.
The Islamists think they know a weak horse when they see it, and we're being told we should be patient? This is a war of perceptions much more than a test of raw military might. Right now the perception we're giving with our half-measures and head scarves is that we in the western world don't have the will to confront radical Islam.
We're reaping the reward for our limp-wristed response to the thugs of the world. I believe the traditional challenge is "on your feet or on your knees". We're dangerously close to the later.
"It is no longer profitable to raise cattle to feed to wolves"
According to Rep. Diane Rice, R-Harrison (Montana). A couple of weeks ago we heard that Montana legislators were pushing for the state to join Wyoming's wolf lawsuit. Today's Casper Star re-runs the same article with slightly different details.
I'm not really sure what would be accomplished by Montana joining this lawsuit. All I can think is that they're suffering a bit of buyer's remorse for going along with the USFWS's wolf non-management plans. I just can't see hunting being a very successful measure in controlling the wolf population and, so far as I can see, that's the only control measure allowed under the Montana and Idaho wolf management plans.
Things that make you say Hmmmm..
There's an interesting sidebar poll in today's Casper Star:
Assuming they stop in Wyoming because of the early primary next year, which Republican presidential candidate do you want to see?With 163 responses so far, Mitt Romney gets 20 votes (12%), John McCain 21 votes (13%), Rudy Giuliani 52 votes (32%), Other 33 votes (20%), and None 37 votes, (23%). So "Other" out-polls both Romney and McCain. Can't say I'm surprised by that. I am a bit surprised by Giuliani's showing, after all we've been told repeatedly that he's not conservative enough -- abortion, gay rights, yada, yada -- and this is a very conservative state. But perhaps that's because we're largely "mind your own business" conservatives.
You might think that the "Other" and "None" votes were Democrats, but the state is about 70% Republican. Looks like plenty of people are waiting for a candidate who isn't the lesser of many evils.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007- - -
Glenn Reynolds -- I think there's an overall loss of faith in America's political class, which seems to me to be largely warranted.
What a surprise!
Iran is stepping up its uranium enrichment efforts. Meanwhile, thousands of Shiites are rallying to demand that U.S. forces leave Iraq. I guess we know who they think came out on top in the British hostage business.
Nate Champion's Last Run
Kaycee, Wyoming, April 9, 1892 -- Hour after hour, they poured lead through the windows of the KC ranch cabin where he was holed up, but Nate Champion was not a man to give up easily. He had plenty of ammunition and held the “invaders,” who were bent on killing all suspected rustlers, at bay for seven hours. In doing so, he gave the people of the county time to learn of the battle at the KC and take measures to stop the insurrection and any further killings.A fascinating article on the days of the Johnson County war.
When the invaders, in desperation and frustration, finally set fire to the cabin, Champion, with a pistol in one hand and a rifle in the other, ran out the back door and headed for the protection of a nearby ravine. Unfortunately, two expert marksmen were standing there just out of sight, and when Champion came into view, they fired. Other invaders followed suit until Champion’s body was riddled with bullets -- a total of 32 were counted.
It had taken a small army of influential cattle ranchers and their hired guns to take him down, and even they had to admit he was one brave man.
Imus on the Sharpton show?
Could this be the first ever team shark-jumping event?
Monday, April 09, 2007- - -
a dark fairy tale
The InstaPundit links to an interesting essay at the HuffPo on the war in Iraq:
Finally, what depresses me, and makes me despise so much war criticism even when I agree with it, is that so many of those positing it seem so happy about what's gone wrong. They seem to relish the probability that Iraq will get worse and worse so that they can be righter and righter.Yes, it does seem that the administration and congress are intent on snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. A troop surge in Iraq will accomplish little so long as Iran is left to meddle with impunity. And what happens when Iran gets its nukes? Will "Too Little, Too Late" be the epitaph of both Bush administrations? Again, read the whole thing.
Like liberals - and thinking conservatives, and sentient beings -- everywhere, I gravely doubt that the troop surge - so little so late -- will do anything to save Iraq. But for the sake of the Iraqi people, I sure hope it does - even if that helps the Republicans.
Leaping from the anecdotal to the sacerdotal
Holman Jenkins has an interesting OpEd at the Wall Street Journal on global warming:
Al Gore will have no trouble finding in Monday's Supreme Court ruling more evidence that global warming is a reality, indeed a dire threat.Read the whole thing.
He will soon say--you can take this to the bank--words like: "Now, even a majority of the Supreme Court has recognized the danger of global warming." And he'll be right in the sense that the Court invokes the magic word "consensus" for a physical fact that itself is unproven, unprovable and exists purely in the realm of speculation.
Al Gore has made himself, in his curious way, the personification of a society's impulse to manufacture political certainty out of irresolvable scientific uncertainty, of which the Supreme Court is the latest culprit/victim. You can see this by arranging the questions related to global warming in descending order of urgency.
The consensus that human activities are causing global warming is purely a social invention--there's no way of showing it to be so, and no self-evident reason for preferring to believe it's so. The "consensus" is, in truth, a product of itself.
"politically correct twaddle"
David Harsanyi of the DenverPost weighs in on the controversy over the Littleton statue memorializing local hero Danny Dietz:
Maybe those parents offended by a proposed war memorial in Littleton believe that freedom can be defended using snappy bumper stickers.
A peace dove ...
You know what? When a dove can protect our children from religious fanatics who'd like to behead them, I'll visit the National Peace Dove Memorial.
And now for something completely different!
Jake Shimabukuro playing George Harrison's While my guitar gently weeps. On a ukulele. Ever see anyone actually play a ukulele?
Friday, April 06, 2007- - -
You are a fluke of the universe.
Always did get a chuckle out of this, first posted at Jeff Goldstein's:
Amid the noise and waste.
And remember what comfort there may be
In owning a piece thereof.
Avoid quiet and passive persons
Unless you are in need of sleep.
Rotate your tires.
Speak glowingly of those greater than yourself
And heed well their advice,
Even though they be turkeys.
Know what to kiss.....and when!
Consider that two wrongs never make a right
But that three lefts do.
Wherever possible, put people on hold.
Be comforted that in the face of all aridity and disillusionment
And despite the changing fortunes of time,
There is always a big future in computer maintenance.
Remember the Pueblo.
Strive at all times to bend, fold, spindle and mutilate.
If you need help, call the FBI.
Exercise caution in your daily affairs,
Especially with those persons closest to you.
That lemon on your left, for instance.
Be assured that a walk through the ocean of most souls
Would scarcely get your feet wet.
Fall not in love therefore;
It will stick to your face.
Gracefully surrender the things of youth:
The birds, clean air, tuna, Taiwan
And let not the sands of time
Get in your lunch.
Hire people with hooks.
For a good time call 606-4311;
Ask for “Ken.”
Take heart amid the deepening gloom
That your dog is finally getting enough cheese.
And reflect that whatever misfortune may be your lot
It could only be worse in Milwaukee.
Therefore, make peace with your god
Whatever you conceive him to be---
Hairy thunderer, or cosmic muffin.
With all its hopes, dreams, promises and urban renewal
The world continues to deteriorate.
You are a fluke
Of the universe.
You have no right to be here.
And whether you can hear it or not
The universe is laughing behind your back.
-- Tony Hendra, National Lampoon
No, this was not found in an old Baltimore church..
Heaven help us!
"... surface air temperatures rose by 1.17 degrees Fahrenheit just between the 1970s and the '90s." What ever will we do?
Well, don't panic, we're talking about temperatures on Mars. James Taranto thinks it's "... little green men driving their SUVs off-road." But I've got to blame the exhaust from NASA's Martian rovers.
Ask not what you can do for your country; ask what your country can do for you!
We have come a long way, haven't we?
The gentle, peaceful Eloi..
Seems there's a plan in Littleton, Colorado, to put up a statue of a local hero, Navy SEAL Danny Dietz, who was killed in action in Afghanistan. Problem is, Berry Park, where they want to put it, is near three schools and two playgrounds. The statue will depict Dietz holding his automatic rifle. Let the flap begin:
Reached at home Thursday in Virginia Beach, Va., Patsy Dietz, Dietz's widow, said she sympathizes with the message that guns and schools shouldn't mix, especially in the community where the Columbine shootings took place.Sometimes words fail me.
But to use her husband to forge such a political statement about guns is irresponsible, she said.
"It's a parent's job, including these parents who are protesting, to teach their children the difference between two thugs who murder their classmates and a soldier who died fighting for their freedom," she said. "Danny represents every soldier and sailor who has fallen, and for them to take this stand, well, that's offensive to me."
"A statue of a soldier holding a child would send a better message," said Calvin Freehling, a Vietnam veteran from Indianola, Neb., who e-mailed The Denver Post. "An automatic weapon doesn't signify protection. It signifies violence. I'm 64 years old now, and I'm tired of violence."
Ann Levy of Denver, who calls herself a "peacenik," would like to see Dietz's sacrifice honored in a different way.
"They should be putting up a peace dove instead," she said. "The question is do we stand for peace or do we stand for war?"
And now every kid on the block will have to have one.
Thursday, April 05, 2007- - -
In Syria they call him Dhimma Carter
Jeff Goldstein is quite annoyed with Jimmy Carter's recent comments on Israel. His remarks make more sense when you know he's preparing his own peace-keeping mission to Syria and Iran.
If Bush and Cheney were really evil, they'd both resign and stick the Democrats with a Pelosi Presidency for the next two years. The Democratic Party would never recover. Alas, neither would the country.
Ps. [Sigh] No, the guys from the gas company haven't showed. "An emergency". I suppose, though, that they rarely have emergencies when it's 70 degrees and sunny.
It's freakin' snowing again. And the good ol' boys from the local gas company will be here in an hour or so to help lay our new gas main. Groveling in the icy mud, my fav.
Great timing, boneheads
CHEYENNE -- Gov. Dave Freudenthal wrote to the regional director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday saying it would be virtually impossible for the state to adopt a new wolf management plan by May 1.Only one wee problem with producing a new wolf management plan by May 1st: The legislature would have to vote on it and the legislature is no longer in session. Where were these guys two months ago when the legislature was in session?
Federal officials, meanwhile, say it's critical for Wyoming to submit a wolf management plan soon if the state is to be included in federal regulations scheduled to be released next year spelling out how the wolves will be removed from federal protection under the Endangered Species Act.
Of course, we've already got a wolf management plan that's been approved by our legislature and signed by the Gov. The feds didn't like it because 1) it treated wolves as predators in most of Wyoming and 2) they felt the boundaries of the permanent wolf management area in northwest Wyoming were too restrictive. Well.. they've already caved on #1 and agreed that wolves will be treated as predators except in northwest Wyoming. As noted in this article, the Governor has the authority from the legislature to negotiate with the USFWS on the boundaries of the permanent wolf management area, under the current state management plan.
So what's their major malfunction here? It appears they're trying to create a Catch-22 that doesn't exist, while steadfastly refusing to negotiate. Yet they've capitulated on virtually every point of contention. It strikes me that this is some last face-saving gesture and I wonder if it isn't time to hammer out the last details of the NW Wyo management area and then call an emergency session of the legislature just so they can say "see, we forced them to change their management plan!"
Or, we could tell them to piss off and proceed with our lawsuit. I've a feeling that wolves are about to become a bigger problem over a wider area than we've seen so far, and at present they're the USFWS' problem, at least in NW Wyo. There's a temptation to let them stew in their juices until they're ready to surrender unconditionally. That would be sweet, but it won't help our elk population, as I fear the wolves are beyond the point where the USFWS can control them, at least with methods they'd find politically acceptable.
I think it best to let them have their little face-saving gesture and be done with them. It's not as if we'd have to change the 2004 wolf management plan much, as they've conceded most points of contention. It's stupid to reconvene the legislature when they could negotiate with the Gov, but it's not as if they've dealt with this very intelligently up to this point. On the other hand, if they do force the legislature into emergency session, it's always possible that the plan they'll pass will be worse for the feds than what they could have negotiated with the Gov -- the Governor has warned them that that could happen, but apparently they've never heard the old adage that 'when you're in a hole, stop digging'.
Update: The Casper Star's lead editorial for today is on the wolf issue:
Gov. Dave Freudenthal's unbending stand on wolves may be working. Federal officials are making concessions that at one time would have been unthinkable:In closing they make it clear that they think it's time for Wyoming to bend a little:
* Outside northwest Wyoming, once wolves are removed from federal Endangered Species Act protection, they will be subject to unregulated killing. That's a dramatic departure from the original federal position, which called for wolves to be treated as trophy game outside national parks.
* The number of wolf packs that must be maintained outside Wyoming's national parks after delisting has been narrowed to seven. That makes it likely that state agents will seek to wipe out 16 wolf packs when delisting takes place.
* The federal government is pursuing a rule change to allow Wyoming to kill wolves to protect wildlife, even before wolf delisting. That most recent development is a remarkable shift, which some would argue runs afoul of the Endangered Species Act.
At this rate, it wouldn't be all that surprising to see the feds cave in on other fronts. Heck, the governor has made it clear he'd be happiest if wolves were found only in Idaho and Montana. Maybe that will be his next demand.
Enough of the anti-fed, anti-wolf rhetoric. It's time for Wyoming's leaders to strike a deal and finally put wolf delisting on the road to reality.Hmm.. As I noted above, the legislature has given the Governor specific authority to negotiate a deal with the feds. At this point it would seem it's the USFWS that doesn't want to negotiate. Not much "Wyoming's leaders" can do about that.
Ps. Oops, here's the link to the Casper Star editorial.
Sunday, April 01, 2007- - -
The devil made me do it!
Scott Adams points to an interesting review of books on free will. Seems some folks are arguing that there's no such thing, that we're all automatons driven by the snapping of our synapses, or some such:
Thanks to modern neuro-imaging technology, we now know that our minds - our conscious, mental life - are a product of activity in the brain. What Libet’s and subsequent experiments show is that even when we have the conscious experience of deciding, our brains have really already taken the decision for us. Free will is an illusion.Ah, but what if no medical intervention is possible? This is very reminiscent of Sociobiology, wherein E.O. Wilson mused that one day we might discover the genetic roots of the criminal mind. This, he tought, would allow us to test for a predisposition to criminality and either treat or incarcerate those who would some day become criminals. Yes, we would have the ability to identify criminals and medicate them or lock them up before they had committed any crimes!
When we know that the structure of someone’s brain makes them very likely to be a menace to society, we will increasingly be faced with the choice of medically intervening - even forcibly - or knowing that we could have prevented a terrible crime. ”The interventions may not always be pretty, but of course going to prison is not pretty either,” says Churchland.
And if that doesn't scare hell out of you...
Ps. It occurs to me that if we ever could test for a predisposition to criminality and medicate or incarcerate anyone who tested positive, we'd likely soon discover a marked shortage of politicians, so let's make sure they get tested first, okay?
Q: Why did the chicken cross the road?
A: To get away from all the kids trying to rope her! Yep, the big money sport of chicken roping is back in Moorcroft, Wyo. I bet it's a total hoot, with some contestants not quite out of diapers.
Now you see them, now you don't
An interesting OpEd on wolves in yesterday's Casper Star. It seems that hunting and drought have had a far greater impact on elk herds than wolves. The money quote:
Which is not to say wolves have no effect on game populations. Each adult wolf kills an average of 22 elk a year. There are now about 96 adult wolves in Yellowstone, so they take just over 2,000 elk a year. But the overall impact on population is less than the total number would suggest, because research shows that wolves often kill prey animals that are less likely -- for one reason or another -- to contribute to the elk gene pool in the following year. If the elk population is declining, wolf predation may accelerate the decline. If it’s growing, they may slow the growth.I think he's really hoping you won't remember that there are "... at least 1,300 wolves prowling Montana, Idaho and Wyoming ..." according to an article published just last week in the Casper Star. So, 1300 x 22 = 28,600 elk being eaten by wolves in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming each year. How does that compare to the number taken by hunters? Well, first of all, hunters aren't taking any elk in Yellowstone, so that's wolves 2000, hunters zero, if we're considering just Yellowstone (a nice bit of slight-of-hand there, guys). It might be better to compare figures outside the park, where about 20,000 elk are taken by hunters each year in Wyoming. Don't know how that compares to Montana and Idaho, but it looks like the wolves are certainly eating their fair share of elk.
On the other hand, the OpEd is correct that elk populations have been higher than ideal the last few years so we can certainly spare a few for the wolves, and I think drought has been a factor for some wildlife populations, although chiefly deer and antelope.
LONDON - Britain examined options Sunday for new dialogue with Tehran over the seized crew of 15 sailors and marines, as a poll suggested most Britons back the government's goal of resolving the standoff through diplomacy.When Teddy said "Speak softly and carry a big stick", he wasn't expressing some earth-shattering new revelation for dealing with tin pot dictators, he was expressing what had been the common wisdom since wooden ships first sailed out of the sight of land. Want your sailors to be safe in foreign ports? Then don't take any crap off the local mullahs. Now we're treated to the sight of a would-be Middle Eastern strongman capering and demanding apologies from the victims of his act of piracy. How very far the mighty have fallen. And just think what Ahmadinejad will be like when he gets his nuclear toys.
A poll published in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper found that 66 percent of respondents trusted Blair and Beckett to resolve the crisis, while 28 percent did not. Only 7 percent thought the government should be preparing to use military force.
How about those Cowgirls! Not often does little Wyoming win a national championship. Good for them!