Friday, November 30, 2007- - -
USA Today asks: "Does the Second Amendment give individuals the right to bear arms?" With 16,512 responses, 98% say "Yes".
It wouldn't surprise me..
Harvard grads will be strippers? But, given their acumen, by the time they graduate won't they be a little old for that?
Had to chuckle at this bit in the Casper Star telling us about The quake that wasn't:
If you live in Evanston and didn't see vases falling off shelves or feel the ground shaking beneath your feet Thursday afternoon ... well, there was no cause for alarm.Oh wait! There actually was an earthquake, just not in Wyoming. It was a big one too, but no mention of its effects on the people actually involved. This just strikes me funny because.. Isn't the actual earthquake the news and the false reading just a side note?
That's despite an automated report by the U.S. Geological Survey that a magnitude 4.6 earthquake struck three miles south-southeast of Evanston at 12:08 p.m.
The magnitude was later revised down to 3.3.
But there was no earthquake.
Analysts at the National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colo., said it was a false report triggered by data from a major quake in the Caribbean. Centered 23 miles southeast of Dominica, that quake had a magnitude of 7.4 and was felt 250 miles away in Puerto Rico.
But, but, but..
The InstaPundit points to this piece that says Canadian beer drinkers are threatening the world climate:
The problem is that the beer fridges are mostly decades-old machines that began their second careers as beverage dispensers when Canadians upgraded to more energy-efficient models to store whatever Canadians eat besides doughnuts and poutine.I really can't see this as much of a threat. After all, ice grows wild up there about 10 months of the year. Got to wonder what dreamworld our researcher has been living in to suggest that gun buy-backs have been effective in getting guns off the streets, but hey, those beer fridges are going to break down sooner or later, might as well let the government help you buy a new one.
University of Alberta researcher Denise Young, who led the study, suggests that provincial authorities hold beer-fridge buy-backs or round-ups to eliminate the threat — methods that Americans use to get guns off the streets.
You trusted CNN?
More on the planted questions flap (and just keep scrolling, there's tons more). It's easy to wonder how they could be so dumb, but I'm wondering whether this isn't just business as usual. The internet is a new thing. Eight years ago, or even four years ago, it would have been much harder for CNN to check these people out, much less the viewing public. Is planting questions and questioners at your opponents' talks and debates a new tactic, or is it just easier to catch 'em in the act through the wonders of Google?
Update: Of course CNN was "trying to moderate the debate in a way that would help Republican voters pick a candidate." They do want to help them choose and any Democratic candidate would do..
And another update: Hugh Hewitt says he refers to CNN as the "most busted name in news". That's clever, but I think Cartoon News Network is more descriptive.
Oooooh! I can't pass up the InstaPundit's quote of Howard Kurtz:
So let me get this straight... in the Democrat YouTube debates, the "undecided questioners" are Democratic activists and in the Republican YouTube debates, the "undecided questioners" are Democratic activists.Beaten like a pinata.
Well, at least they're consistent.
I can't help noticing that no one seems to be wondering what Jeff Gannon thinks of all this. I'm sure Jeff Goldstein will get around to him, but in the mean time, Karl at Protein Wisdom has a couple of interesting posts (1, 2).
Yet another update: Is it time to mention that I started this blog pretty much due to my disgust with the legacy media?
Remember media coverage during the Gulf War? Reporters live and on-the-spot, outside in the dark while tracers and rockets lit up the sky behind them? Very dramatic stuff. I turned on Fox one morning while I was preparing the caffeine drip. There’s Geraldo. Live, outside in the dark, hair ruffled, collar turned-up, half crouching and glancing nervously over his shoulder, breathlessly telling us that he’d just arrived in Pakistan. Pakistan! There was nothing out there but dark. He wasn’t on-the-spot. Not even close. The setting was all for dramatic effect. He’d might as well been reporting from a studio in Burbank. I was expecting Jerry Springer to be the next ‘war correspondent on the scene’.Perhaps CNN should have contracted the debates to Jerry Springer. Hillary could have mussed Edwards' hair and made him cry. At least that would be real!
But he knew right where he was!
JACKSON (AP) -- A German man attempting to reach Yellowstone National Park with a GPS device says he nearly froze to death after his vehicle got stuck on a closed forest road.Let's see.. 1) Drove up a closed road, 2) in the high mountains, 3) in winter, 4) in a car, 5) with no proper clothing. Does that merit an honorable mention for the Darwin Awards?
Tobias Krottenthaler, a 23-year-old medical student from a town near Munich, said he walked for roughly seven hours Monday in sneakers, trousers, a T-shirt and a light jacket after his rental car got stuck and then ran out of gas in Caribou-Targhee National Forest, about 15 miles west of Flagg Ranch. Temperatures Monday were as low as 11 degrees in the area.
Andy Fisher, chief ranger for Grand Teton, said people shouldn't rely just on technology like GPS devices to navigate the backcountry.
"It doesn't take the place of common sense and gathering other information to guide your actions," Fisher said.
In mitigation, he is from Germany. Folks from Europe are often astonished at the vast spaces out here. He probably thought if he broke down or got stuck or lost he could just stop at the next gasthaus. There's one every couple miles everywhere right?
It's this sort of thing that reminds me that I live in a world that's rather foreign to most folks.
Thursday, November 29, 2007- - -
Seems the IRS is after a bunch of folks down in Colorado for deducting too much on their conservation easements, Often because they overstated the value of the lands involved. The article doesn't say, but I wonder how much of this is due to the real estate bubble bursting on the Front Range. I'd suspect that land values have taken a hit while quite a few of these easements were probably created during the boom years when the tax benefits were high.
Things that make you say Hmmmm..
'I blame the wolf'I think the emphasis here is on the "easy to hunt" part. This hunting season in the Big Horns the deer and elk have been darn hard to find, but I don't think the wolves and lions and coyotes have eaten them all. Rather, I suspect that increased predation has caused the critters to change their habits. Figuring out where they've all gone and changing hunting techniques accordingly is one of the challenges of hunting.
Budd Betts Jr. runs a guest ranch and hunting guide operation that depends heavily on income from the fall elk hunting season. The ranch is located in a scenic mountain valley outside Dubois where elk roam and wolves are heard howling. He says the area was known for plentiful elk that were easy to hunt.
"That tradition has basically gone away," Betts said. "And for that I blame the wolf. I blame the wolf on the fact that we hardly have any late-season elk hunting anymore."
To an extent I sympathize with the guides and outfitters, as their livelyhood depends on their stats. Nobody wants to hire a guide who has little success in finding the game. Goodly portions of the dudes are in no condition to get way back in the mountains or beat the thickets for miles each day. So yes, this isn't going to be good for the outfitters. I'm sure we'll figure out where the critters have gone, but I also suspect they've gone where they'll be just plain harder to get at.
'Harder to get at' can mean many things though. Judging from the deer milling around like herds of sheep in Ten Sleep and Thermopolis, they've decided that humans are less of a threat than the year-round predators. When they're in town and right around town there aren't going to be many folks happy with anyone taking pot shots at them. But it does make it perhaps easier for the archers. From what I've heard a lot of the elk are moving into more open areas at lower elevations too. That means a lot more of them on private lands where they're not going to be terribly welcome if they hang around eating off the haystacks all winter. It's going to take awhile for all of us to adjust to this, but it looks like we're going to have to.
Okay, nevermind the rent-seeking..
And the nepotism involved. I still think making our own whiskey is a pretty cool idea. Kirby is just down the road and, more important, it's downwind from just about everywhere, which is a consideration. A distillery doesn't smell so good. It is rather annoying though to see our state government handing out the development bucks to the folks who least need it. Obviously, being politically well connected doesn't hurt a bit. Crony capitalism at its finest.
Update: My wife points out that it depends on what you want. If the main point is to creat new businesses and new jobs, then giving the money to people with the proven ability to get that done isn't entirely foolish. Personally, I'd prefer that the state not meddle in the business world at all, but it seems that battle was lost long ago.
Okay, let's talk about "very rare and uncommon"
ROCK SPRINGS -- The Wyoming Environmental Quality Council decided to back stronger protection for a prized area known as Adobe Town in southwest Wyoming during a meeting in Rock Springs today.My first thought when I read this bit of breaking news was "who the heck are the Wyoming Environmental Quality Council? I'd never heard of them before, although they've been around since 1973 according to their web site. They're a group of citizens appointed by the governor and it sounds like one of those 'organize the busybodies into a committee, that will do them in' sort of things. Whatever. It's not clear that they have any actual power other than advising the gov, who I'm sure will thank them very much for their advice. But I digress..
The council voted 5-1 to approve a petition from the Laramie-based Biodiversity Conservation Alliance and seven other conservation groups that designates about 180,000 acres in and around Adobe Town as a "very rare and uncommon" area.
Commissioners concluded that Adobe Town has the significant scenic, archaeological, historic, wildlife, or surface geological values necessary for the designation.
Is the sandstone sphinx above, an entirely natural formation, "rare and uncommon"? You betcha. And if you look just past his nose you can see that there are many other wildly wind-carved sandstone formations in that immediate area. But it's just out in the stinking desert east of Riverton, Wyo.
In this next photo we're looking south from the top of the Shirley Mountains toward Hanna. You can see Elk Mountain through the haze in the right distance, Laramie is somewhere in the left distance, and you can probably see all the way to the Colorado border. A moment before I snapped this photo a herd of elk were standing in the clearing in the foreground but they were camera-shy. Does this area have "significant scenic, archaeological, historic, wildlife, or surface geological values"? Absolutely. Hundreds of square miles of jaw-droppingly gorgeous scenery. There's also a lot of archaeological and historic sites to go with the scenery and the wildlife.
How about this? Ten Sleep Falls is in the south Big Horns, a bit south of the Cloud Peak Wilderness, on Forest Service-managed lands. Terribly scenic. It's only a short jaunt off the highway and a half-mile hike in to see it, but there's so much other scenery there that it doesn't get many visitors.
And what about these natural arches I've blogged about recently (1, 2)? Unique? Yep, without a doubt. Yet none of these places has received any special attention or protection.
My point, if I have one, is that if your criteria are "significant scenic, archaeological, historic, wildlife, or surface geological values", as those criteria are being applied here, then we should draw a rectangle around an area that starts somewhere northeast of Sundance and ends somewhere south of Evanston. The whole darn state has significant scenic, archaeological, historic, wildlife, and surface geological values. I would be very hard-pressed to point to an area of the state that doesn't fit these criteria. I'd love to save it all.
But I'd also like to have a job and so would the rest of Wyoming's residents, and we're heavily dependent on the mineral extractive industries. Not to mention the fact that our natural gas and coal and oil help keep your cars running and your lights on. Somehow we've got to be a little more selective in the areas we throw off-limits to development. We've already got Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, several congressionally-designated wilderness areas, dozens more wilderness study areas, a bunch of state parks, and many areas of "critical environmental concern". As I've illustrated, there are a whole lot more areas that are worthy of preservation.
Here's one last photo, looking east across the badlands along the north flank of the Powder Mountains. The Adobe Town Wilderness Study Area is a couple miles to the north and this is part of the area the Wyoming Environmental Quality Council wants to give greater protection. Scenic? Sure it is. Anything special? Well, even though it looks a lot like Mars (except with less vegetation), I think its special, but then I think the whole state is pretty special.
180,000 acres is 281 square miles. Even in Wyoming that's a big chunk of land. Frankly, a lot of that 281 square miles is flat with sagebrush on it. But it does have a lot of oil & gas under it. And of course that's what makes this particular tract of interest to the Biodiversity Bozos, who are pretty much BANANAs (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything). For them it's not really about protecting areas that have significant scenic, archaeological, historic, wildlife, and surface geological values. It's about trying to obstruct development wherever it might occur. That's why they're not out there trying to protect any of the other places I've shown you here. (Biodiversity executive director Erik Molvar has written a hiking book on the Big Horn Mountains that includes hikes to the Dry Medicine Lodge natural arch and Ten Sleep Falls, so it's not as if he's unaware of the places.)
By all means I think we should protect many areas of our fair state. Some of it is just too cool. But most of these areas can be protected without indiscriminately putting vast swaths of the state off limits. Of course that takes actual work to identify the areas that need protection. It's so much easier to just wave your arms over the map and say "all this!" And so much more effective if what you really want to do is shut down development everywhere it might occur.
That is, if it has any long-term effect at all. At present all these efforts have accomplished is to delay development in a few areas for a year or two. So far as I know, none of these efforts have ever resulted in the long-term protection of a single acre of land and, so long as they continue to insist on being so wildly all-encompassing, they probably never will.
ROCK SPRINGS -- Designation of Adobe Town as "very rare or uncommon" could "serve as a lever" to encourage Congress to declare the area of southwest Wyoming as wilderness, the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation says.This measure won't result in having the area become a congressionally-designated wilderness. Apparently the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation spokesman has forgotten that Wyoming is exempt from such congressional actions, as part of the deal that created Grand Teton National Park. But it certainly will slow the development process and make it much more complex and expensive. If just being annoying is what they're after they're achieving it.
But members of the Wyoming Environmental Quality Council, which voted 5-1 in favor of the "very rare or uncommon" designation Wednesday, rejected arguments that it would unduly impede energy development and agricultural use of the area.
In fact, council members said their designation may have little actual impact.
"In many ways, this doesn't change any current use" in the area, said council member Sara Flitner. "I'm convinced we're not imposing any obstacles for (oil and gas) use."
In the mean time, my efforts over the last 25 years have resulted in the permanent protection of thousands of acres of archaeological and historic sites [pats himself on back]. But then almost all my efforts have been funded by those eViL oil companies. Ironic innit?
Update: Here's yet a third article on the topic in today's Casper Star online edition, giving a slightly different version of the story (why do they do that?):
"To me, it's a real diamond among all the gems in Wyoming," council Chairman Richard Moore said before the vote. "This area really stands out as unique and spectacular. The scenic values are breathtaking and beautiful."Took the words right out of my mouth..
But the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation expressed disappointment with the decision.
“We feel that designation of the area as �very rare and uncommon’ will lead to further restrictions on the use of the area for multiple use,” Farm Bureau Director of Public and Governmental Affairs Brett Moline said in a news release. “While each acre of land is unique in some aspect, however minuscule, this area shares attributes with other landscapes, not only in Wyoming but also across the Western U.S. ...Given these facts, the Adobe Town area is not truly unique and should not be given a special title.”
GREEN RIVER -- Designation of Adobe Town as "very rare or uncommon" by the state Environmental Quality Council was in itself a rare act.Ah! No wonder I've never heard of these guys before. This does raise another question though: If the Council's action does not require approval by the Governor and/or legislature, what effect does it have? I rather suspect that the answer is "not much".
Only three other such designations have been made by the council in its 34-year existence, according to state records and EQC officials.
Gov. Dave Freudenthal said Thursday the council's decision represents "an important step" in protecting Wyoming's special places.
"I believe that there are certain parts of the state that should be preserved and Adobe Town is one of them," Freudenthal said in a statement.
Although the governor applauded the council's decision, it does not need his approval to take effect. Contrary to earlier reports in the Star-Tribune, the council has full authority to make "very rare or uncommon" designations.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007- - -
Yes, we have scandal, rumors of scandal, and rumors of rumors of scandal. Wondering what Ron Rosenbaum was on about, dropping hints about the LATimes sitting on a big political sex scandal for "ethical" reasons, I started looking to see 'what everybody knows' but won't tell, because somebody will always tell and plenty of others will speculate.
Starting right off with the comments to Rosenbaum's post gives ample grist. From there we have the National Enquirer on John Edwards' infidelities, Jezebel (how could I forget Jezebel?) on Obama's infidelities, Robert Novak on.. well it's hard to tell whether that one reflects worse on HRC (Her Royal Clintonness?) or Obama, News America Now on Giuliani, Mitt Romney and his midget hookers (hey, I think we can take that just as seriously as most of the rest of this, right?), and the Salem-News dishing the dirt on a long list of Republicans. Rosenbaum already covered the "Fred Thompson is gay" rumors, so.. have we left anyone out? Well, okay, nobody really cares if Ron Paul's been involved in a sex scandal. In fact, if Ron Paul has ever had sex I'm pretty sure I don't want to hear about it. But the point is, there's plenty of sex scandal to go around.
[Sigh] And now I think I'll go take a shower..
Update: Squeeky! And on review and reflection, I realize this was one of my more incoherent posts [I've fixed it a little here and there], although all should become clear [as mud] if you follow the various links. The underlying gist of the whole thread is probably captured in this comment by Angelle, the next to the last comment on Rosenbaum's post (and I quote only an excerpt):
I'll start off by saying that I am as disgusted as our gracious host is by the inside-the-beltway cliquishness that passes for most D.C. journalism these days. It is a morass of those only interested in their continued access to the corridors of power and precious little comes out of it that would keep a democracy functioning. [Okay, can't argue with that!]Mkaaay.. There's a certain special arrogance expressed in the act of reminding us that, despite our foolish impression of their godlike presence, they (in this case but in no wise limited to journalists) are actually just humans doing their jobs, and not all that well-paid either, so be grateful for what you get! You know, just in case you were too dazzled.
But as someone who used to be a journalist in Flyover Country, let me respond to some of the above commenters by saying you can't have it both ways.
Either you want a media that does its level best to vet its facts before it reports a story, or you want unfiltered access to all the information a reporter or editor "knows." [This seems to dodge the whole point of Rosenbaum's post. Supposedly the LATimes has vetted facts. They're just agonizing over whether it would be ethical to tell the unwashed masses what those facts are. Don't tease us and then absolve yourself by citing ethical considerations!]
And you can get into your tin-foil hat and cry "MSM conspiracy" to the whole internet, but guess what, the MSM is made up of flesh and blood people who have to make decisions when they go into work every day. And just like you, sometimes they make the right ones, and sometimes not. And when not, everybody knows about it, Google never lets that misstep fade from memory, and it's not like the pay (for a reporter) makes it all worth it.
Somehow all the previous comments noting that there just might be some bias in what's reported and what's not, and when it's reported if it is, are turned into a tin-foil hat conspiracy theory. That strawman would have been easier to flog before Dan Rather so conveniently brought out the forged TANG documents one week before the last presidential election (They'd been floating around since the early '70s and turned up just in time for the 2004 election? How could we not question teh timing?). It's no longer quite so easy to dismiss the possibility that that those oh-so-human journalists with their oh-so-human foibles and biases just might use the power of the pen to tilt the playing field just a little.
But really, political sex scandals are just too much fun to resist and it's a game everyone can play. The real take-away ought to be that here we have someone reporting a rumor of a rumor of scandal and it's drawn 100+ comments and who knows how many page views. We should probably be grateful that Romney hasn't made that midget hooker his running mate. After all, there's no such thing as bad publicity.
My grandpa was right!
He always said bathing too much made you weak and it appears that current medical research agrees! If I recall correctly, my mom also agreed with this notion so it must be true. She was appalled at some friend of hers who didn't want to bring her kids out to play with us on the farm. Too much dirty stuff and her kids were terribly susceptible to infections. My mom opined that the reason we weren't so susceptible was because we were constantly exposed to all that dirty stuff, keeping our immunities strong.
So is modern science catching up with the folk wisdom? I'm not so sure. We've been told that those anti-bacterial hand cleansers are bad because they kill 99% (or whatever) of the essential skin bacteria. Instead, we should just use plain soap and water.. Which kills 97% of the skin's bacteria. Okaaaayy.. It occurs to me that, unless we bathe in anti-bacterial hand cleanser we're still only killing a small percentage of the bacteria on our skin. What we are killing, hopefully, are all the foreign bacteria we pick up from touching dirty stuff.
Are we just hastening the evolution of bacteria that are immune to anti-bacterial hand cleaners? Well sure, I suppose we are. But then we've been hastening the evolution of soap-resistant bacteria for years and no one seems too alarmed by that. Personally, I'm not opposed to evolution, I just want it to occur elsewhere. I'm perfectly happy remaining unevolved.
HT: InstaPundit [Of course. I've really got to broaden my horizons, but why?]
Tuesday, November 27, 2007- - -
I'm a "goofball"!
Of course you all knew that, but it sure didn't take long for the commenters over at Reason to figure it out. Sadly, it's in the context of a post welcoming Matt Welch back to the staff as editor-in-chief of Reason magazine! Editor-in-Chief!! I think that's just great news. I've missed his sense and his sense of humor. And his knowledge of the wide world.
Unfortunately, the welcoming party didn't last long. It didn't take long before someone brought up the war and one post later the nonsense started. So help me, I couldn't stop myself from rattling the cage just a little:
Welcome back Matt!!All things considered I'd rather be thought a goofball than narrow-minded or authoritarian, so I think I got much the better of the exchange so far.. But I'm bracing myself for "Big Dootyhead"!
And good luck with that "Every libertarian supports" and "all libertarians object" stuff. Such devotion to free minds! What a way to make friends and influence people! "Marginal" doesn't begin to describe it. Try narrow-minded and authoritarian. Not good traits in a "libertarian", no?
And I sincerely hope Matt can talk some sense into those pushing the strict libertarian orthodoxy nonsense. They've alienated an awful lot of people who agree with them 95% of the time.
Update: Oops! HT InstaPundit, who has enough reason to think I'm a goofball without exhibiting my bad manners.
Update dux: Heheheh.. Ayee! This is the guy who called me a goofball!? Ah well, he's only been blogging since April, working from the anonymous safety of his mom's basement he'll work up to "Mr. Poopy Pants!" yet.
[Sigh] When Thomas Jefferson observed that "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants", he failed to mention that it must also be given a good hosing every so often lest the monkeys move in and start flinging the fruits of liberty at the passersby.
Dissent in the ranks.. Or not
Robert Bidinotto has an interesting article on Ron Paul -- doesn't like him much at all and I've got to agree with most of his argument. Read the whole thing.
Got to love his parting shot though:
UPDATE, 11/27/07 -- Well, Instapundit has just linked here again (many thanks, Glenn), but refers to me as "libertarian Robert Bidinotto." Gosh, he sure knows how to hurt a guy. For the record: I decline the term "libertarian" in political self-description -- mainly for fear of guilt by association.Geez, the Libertarian "intelligentsia" sure know how to make friends and influence people. Everywhere I look libertarian-leaning people are distancing themselves. Every political party has its idiot fringe I suppose, but somewhere along the line the Libertarians let the lunatics run the asylum.
Is there something you're not telling us?
I have never had a lesbian affair. Er, or perhaps I'm getting my rumors confused. At any rate, where Huma Abedin is concerned the prospect seems more than usually appealing.Well sure, I can see where any red-blooded male would consider a lesbian affair with Ms. Abeden..
Da yout dese days!
Via the InstaPundit, Naomi Wolf has little good to say about the state of knowledge on civics and history among today's youth. She's kind enough to note that "this distressing situation isn't just George W. Bush's fault", which is gracious of her, especially considering that, so far as I know, Bush hasn't spent a single day in the last seven years teaching high school civics. Some she allows might also be due to Marxism and lack of patriotism on the left [gasp!] way back in the 1960s. Of course, that same streak of collectivism and anti-Americanism now seems A-okay with her. I found this passage particularly interesting:
Here are some actual quotes from otherwise smart, well-meaning young Americans:Let's take it from the top: Refusing to vote? Well, that seems a corollary of the belief that 'there's not a dime's worth of difference between the two parties'. If you think the Republicans are just as spendthrift, just as beholden to special interests, and just as self-interested as the Democrats, you're in good company. Judging from their performance over the last twelve years it's hard to argue that there is much difference between the two major parties, or much good to say about either of them.
"I show my true convictions by refusing to vote."
"The two parties are exactly the same."
"Congress is bought and paid for."
"Elections are just a front for corporations."
"My teacher says you shouldn't believe anything you read in the newspapers at all," a 16-year-old from affluent Menlo Park, Calif., told me last week.
When we're continually faced with the evil of two lessers it's easy to see why someone would think there's not much point in voting. Not voting at all is only a little more extreme (or not!) than casting a protest vote for Ron Paul. I disagree with this, if only because there's bound to be ballot issues and local politicians that are worth voting on, no matter what you may think of the goings on in DC. However, I'll certainly argue that not voting because you don't see any point in going to the polls and flipping a coin is not ignorant. It's cynical, but it's cynicism grounded in observation of our government's track record.
Then there are the next two assertions: Are our politicians bought and paid for by powerful special interests and corporations? Hard to argue against that when you consider how many million dollars it takes to run a successful campaign for national office. Money talks. If nothing else, money buys access and a sympathetic ear. If you're waiting to talk to your congresscritter and the lobbyist for Monsanto is waiting to talk to your 'critter, guess who's going to be greeted by name and most likely get the first and longer audience? Yes, the guy with the $100,000 check in his hand, which likely ain't you. Then consider how many of our politicians have become millionaires despite a lifetime drawing rather modest salaries as public servants. Maybe they're just really good investors, huh? Congress is certainly "paid for" though, like a crooked cop, the question is once bought whether they stay bought. There, we can probably take some comfort from Mark Twain's old adage that the difference between a dog and a man is that the dog won't bite the hand that feeds him. Anyone who isn't aware that there's a great deal of graft and corruption and favors for campaign donations and pork-barreling for votes in our congress hasn't been paying attention and may well be terminally naive.
And then there's the assertion that really cuts to Ms. Wolf's quick, that we can't trust our news media. Scott Thomas Beauchamp, Bilal Hussein, Eason Jordan (twice!), cannibalism in the NO Superdome(!), devastating hurricanes in 2006 and 2007(!), Bush lied(!) when he told us about those WMDs (that Clinton had told us about in 1998), need I go on (because I certainly can)? In all these cases our media have been caught making up the news (Beauchamp & Jordan), carrying water for terrorists (Hussein), deliberately failing to report the news (Jordan again), or exaggerating, sensationalizing, and propagandizing. And in all of these cases the rest of the legacy media not immediately involved have steadfastly looked the other way. 'Be vewy, vewy quiet. We're twying to maintain our cwedibility!
Four months into the Beauchamp affair TNR is taking serious flak and heads are rolling, but they've still not released any of the corroborating evidence they once claimed to have. And it does seem remarkably convenient that Hussein keeps being the photographer on the spot to catch those dramatic, Pulitzer-winning, 'from the terrorists' eye view' shots. Maybe he's just really, really brave, right? Jordan finally did get the boot when CNN could no longer afford the hits their credibility was taking on his behalf, but not before we found out that CNN was willing to trade silence for access in Iraq -- oh, those little sins of omission. I'd say that 16-year-old got some pretty darn good advice from her teacher. The evidence suggests that we have good reason to distrust what our media tell us, and to wonder what they're not telling us. Wanna bet that if this big presidential candidate sex scandal thingy involved Republicans that it would be on the front pages? True or not? [Update: Here's the story about the story that can't be told.]
So what's all this about those "otherwise smart, well-meaning young Americans"? Perhaps they're smarter and paying closer attention than Ms. Wolf might wish.
Things that make you say Hmmmm..
The state of Wyoming requires liability insurance on all motor vehicles and requires that an insurance identification card be carried in all vehicles at all times. Any time you get pulled over the cop will ask for your driver's license, registration, and proof of insurance. Judging from the court reports, there's a considerable fine for failing to maintain insurance, but unless there's an accident they only check to see that you have the insurance ID card. So..
In this morning's email my insurance company sent a pdf of my insurance ID cards so I could print them out myself! Saves them postage and paper I suppose, but it's occurred to me that anyone with a computer could crank these things out and you wouldn't be able to tell them from the real thing. Still, if there's a black market in counterfit insurance cards you wouldn't guess it from the number of people fined for failing to have a card.
$100 a year for a sex entertainer license?
Do they pay it all in ones*?
*Update: I should give a hat tip to Jalan Crossland for coming up with that delightful allusion in his sad tale about the lonelyness of the all-night chicken trucker.
When you're up to your ass in horses..
It probably shouldn't come as a surprise that the problem is rooted in an "urban vs. rural mind-set".
Sunday, November 25, 2007- - -
Today's Casper Star has a short piece on the new digital collections at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center's McCracken Research Library. Thousands of old western photos. While checking them out I discovered that they've actually got three separate digital collections, all well worth a look.
And for heaven's sake, if you ever pass through Cody, Wyoming you've got to plan on spending at least two days at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. It's a truly world-class museum.
Update: Hmmm. While browsing the beadwork in the Plains Indian Museum collection, I came across a reference to Northern Arapaho beadworker Marcus Dewey, who does some incredible work (just in case you had a few thousand bucks and wanted something ultra-neat). Of course, I can't help wondering how he's related to Gerry Dewey, who made my hat. I gave him a call, but got his answering machine. Further research is in order.
Another update: I couldn't resist putting up one of my favorite old 1930s era photos. Check out the fancy carved boots on the gal on the right, the beaded vest and gauntlets on the girl next to her, and the fancy vest on the left. Gotta love those jodhpurs & riding skirts too. The photo is from Abbeville.com, but they credit the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. I couldn't find this image in the McCracken Collections, but they've got an awful lot of material.
High art and religious shrines
Here's a particularly interesting piece of art. The candle is a nice touch, I think.
Saturday, November 24, 2007- - -
The obligatory Ammo Day post..
I'll admit I didn't buy any ammo on November 19th, mainly because I've already got about three lifetime's supply. But I did buy a new pellet trap. I've been doing quite a bit of basement shooting with my Avanti 747 and got tired of constantly replacing the newpaper batting in my target box.
Considering what centerfire ammo costs these days, you might consider one of these as a way to keep your eye sharp. They have a decent, slightly creepy but very light & smooth trigger, good adjustable sights, and the Lothar Walther target barrel makes them amazingly accurate. Best of all, you can buy one of these and a tin of 500 pellets for less than the cost of 500 rounds of cheap .45 acp.
Two-thirds of handgun shooting is sight alignment and trigger control, and this is very good practice for both. Unfortunately, because there's essentially no recoil it won't help reinforce the importance of a consistent grip. But hey, you can shoot it in the basement, so you won't be burning gas driving to the range. Think of it as reducing your carbon footprint!
Great shootin', Tex!
Why are there libertarians?
The InstaPundit links an interesting article that's appropriately in the Washington Post entertainment section. Personally, I think they miss the point:
Brink Lindsey, vice president for research at the libertarian Cato Institute and the author of "The Age of Abundance: How Prosperity Transformed America's Politics and Culture," says that since the end of World War II, the country has unconsciously arrived at a vaguely libertarian-ish consensus: It's culturally tolerant and yet demands personal responsibility for socioeconomic success.This is a paradox? When the head paper pusher at the local DMV comes out of her office whacking her palm with her ruler and orders everyone to stop chatting and form neat lines facing forward while they wait to get their driver's license photos taken it takes a little luster off our ever-growing government bureaucracy. When the voters put a term limits referendum on the ballot and pass it with overwhelming numbers only to have the legislature overturn it with a sniff and wave of their hands we start to wonder if our politicians haven't gotten just a bit big for their britches. When heavily armed and armored SWAT teams shoot puppies and stomp kittens we start to wonder what we've wrought.
One of the paradoxes of the consensus posited by Mr. Lindsey is that government actually grew bigger at the same time libertarianism became more popular.
Mr. Lindsey says the first paradox may explain itself: The growth sparked by lower taxes and a more competitive economy in the 1980s onward paid for bigger government, much as surplus revenue in the high-growth years of the early Johnson administration led to a bevy of new programs from Medicare to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
No, there's no paradox between the growth of our government and the increased popularity of libertarian thought. The real surprise would be if people weren't starting to yearn for a smaller government that remembered who hired them.
Friday, November 23, 2007- - -
Evidence of past human activity
How long do you suppose humans have been creating little sleeping areas like the one we see in the lower right of this photo? The photo is looking northwest, inside this natural arch rockshelter.
The coarse gravel and rocks (up to car-sized) scattered over the floor is exfoliating material from the roof of the shelter. Obviously it would not be terribly comfortable to sleep on this rubble and someone has painstakingly cleared an area about 2 meters in diameter, probably to spread their bedroll. There's a hearth just beyond the wood pile at center frame and a few scattered beverage and food cans indicating the shelter's use up to the present.
I've got to figure that humans have created very similar living areas, both in rock shelters and in the open, ever since we've been humans. The problem that arises for an archaeologist is that it would be very difficult to identify such activity areas once they've been buried. There's not much trash to be found, and continued roof fall will obliterate most traces of the sleeping area. Eventually, there will be little evidence left of this occupation other than the hearth. Pretty darn cool and very thought-provoking.
Via the InstaPundit, the folks at Samizdata are not amused by the lost disk fiasco. Having been one of the 26 million veterans listed in the US Veteran's Administration lost database last year, I've got to strongly agree with their Campaign for Database Disarmament. I've no clue how the VA, IRS, SocSec, or any other government agency can keep track of their "clients" without maintaining a database. However, it's becoming increasingly clear that we can't trust our governments to maintain the security of the data they collect. I don't know the answer, but the problem is clear.
Thursday, November 22, 2007- - -
Mmmm, Zombie Girls!
Somehow I'm not at all surprised that Andrew Sullivan didn't include this video in his contest. (Yeah, you'd like to think that you're immune to the stuff.)
HT: InstaPundit, where it's always about zombies.
A sad story with a happy ending..
Somebody stole Amy Alkon's pink 1960 Nash Rambler. But she got it back! I know just how she feels too, my first car was a pink 1955 Nash Rambler. [Yes, it was pink. Don't look at me like that.]
You'd think they'd take the hint..
The anarchist is the scum of the intellectual world of the left, which has given them up. So the right picks up another leftist discard. That’s the Libertarian movement.And
-- Ayn Rand
“I’m so much a libertarian that I have no use for the whole libertarian movement.”Ht: Bill Quick
– RA Heinlein
Why would anyone want to make fun of Heather Mills?
Heather Mills and her new mouthpiece, Michele Elyzabeth, are on a rampage, swearing to permanently cut off any news media outlet that dares make fun of Mills.Why, if she came to Wyoming I'd buy her a nice steak!
Anadarko Petroleum Co. has been fined $157,500 for the destruction of three acres of wetlands in southwest Wyoming.
The problem usually lies in the initial identification of a wetland. You might think it's your waste water pit, but to the EPA it's critical duck habitat. It's mostly a legal issue, so it's best to get your lawyer involved early and get him out there on the ground. Load him in the pickup, take him out to the development site, and let him walk around. Wherever he stops to shake the mud off his wingtips you've got a wetland.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007- - -
"A right to __ arms"
I think the InstaPundit is right, thanks to the Supreme Court, gun rights are going to be an issue to debate in the coming months, and for all the reasons he outlines the most likely ruling of the court will be to uphold an individual right.
But an individual right to.. what exactly? Notice that Reynolds opines "... that the Second Amendment supports an individual right on the part of law-abiding citizens to possess firearms ..." and refers to this later as "a right to arms" yes, with no pesky verbs. Now I'm no lawyer so I'm not adept at teasing out the emanations and penumbras of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, but I can read and last I looked the 2nd amendment said "keep and bear" arms (oddly enough it doesn't say anything about "law-abiding" nor use the term "citizens", but we'll tease those penumbras another day). "Keep" certainly seems to be synonymous with "possess", but what of the "bear" part?
Reynolds and many others have long ignored or parsed away an individual right to bear arms, which seems frankly silly to me. What is the point of a right to possess weapons but only at home and safely locked up? Somehow I can't see that as the intent of our founders. That would be like a right to free speech, but only at home when no one can hear you. Or only after having your speech duly reviewed by the proper authorities and with a license good for only some speech in some places for only a limited time (can you say "campus free speech zones"?).
So.. Will the Supremes uphold the "keep" part of the 2nd and ignore or parse that inconvenient "bear" part? They might, but that would lead to a whole lot of contortions. Will they issue some vague ruling that invokes all manner of unspoken emanations and penumbras, leaving us essentially where we are today? I really doubt they'd have agreed to hear the case if that were so. Or will they take the seemingly novel approach and uphold the whole thing as written? This is going to be most interesting..
Update: Here's a long and interesting thread on the topic at Bill Quick's.
Another Update: Hmmm.. I've been trying for several days to download Glenn Reynolds' SSRN article with no luck. Then tonight I was reading an article at Of Arms and The Law that cites Reynolds and thought 'okay, one more time'. Well, wonders never cease, this time it loaded just fine, and after reading it I'm not so appalled. The article deals mainly with the Tennessee courts' rulings on the 2nd amendment,and yes, they have employed some convoluted reasoning to rule that "keep and bear" doesn't actually include the right to carry various weapons. However, while Reynolds is correct to point out that this is the case, it appears that he's not arguing that these rulings were necessarily correct.
It is very worth the effort to read the SSRN article, as it does illustrate the knots the courts can tie themselves in, in an effort to reach the politically preferred ruling regardless of what appears to be the clear meaning and intent of the law. Who knows what the Supremes might come up with if they get into auguring the emanations and teasing the penumbras of the 2nd amendment. However, if they produce the ruling the political majority prefer, they're most likely to uphold a personal right. We shall see.
Daily Kos editor lands DenverPost gig
And starts right in taking a whack at snowmobiles in Yellowstone. The problem: She admits she's never been to Yellowstone in the winter; she just doesn't like the noisy, stinking things or the yahoos who run amok on them. Never mind that, under new regulations, only reduced emission, 4-cycle snowmobiles are allowed in the park and they must be guided, so they're not [as] noisy, they're not [as] polluting, and they're not running amok. Don't confuse her with the facts, she's got a "basic, gut-level problem" with the things.*
I'm a cross-country skier and I don't care for snowmobiles either, for much the same reasons Joan McCarter cites. Motorcycles and snowmobiles and 4-wheelers have all proven dangerous to my health. For some odd reason when I get on one of these things I seem to lose my mind. I just can't resist seeing how fast it will go, how steep a hill it will climb, and how sharp a turn it will take. Broken bones generally ensue. Even [fairly] normal folks like my Friendly Farmer's Insurance Agent are susceptible to the need for speed they feed.
So yes, running amok seems to be encouraged by the very look of the things, a goodly part of the reason that guides are required in the park (and a good part of the reason why x-country skiers generally don't like them -- their riders seem not to notice those "no snowmobiles on the groomed trails" signs). Likewise, air-cooled 2-cycle engines are horribly noisy and terribly polluting. You can often hear their shrill blatting for miles, which tends to destroy that "wilderness experience" so prized by armchair outdoorsmen. But then, that's why there are restrictions on the noise and pollution produced by snowmobiles in the park.
They did run amok, they did chase the wildlife and ride wherever they damned well pleased, and they were noisy and polluting. They shit in their own nest and were very nearly banned from the park for it. Now they're strictly regulated in an attempt to relieve all these problems. I haven't been to the park in winter to see whether the new regulations are working, but then I'm not the one advocating that they be banned based on a dim understanding of how things used to be.
Oddly enough, it seems that snowmobiling in the park has lost its allure. Apparently it's just no fun to ride a quiet snowmobile in a guided tour and visitorship is way down. While the Park Service has set strict limits on the number of machines allowed, from what I've heard even fewer machines are showing up. That's too bad for the places like West Yellowstone and Pahaska that relied on snowmobilers for business. I've even been thinking about taking one of the guided tours; under careful supervision I figure I might be less likely to break my neck. And if I escaped alive I'd have some intelligent basis for an opinion on the subject.
*Interesting also that she lays the blame for this environmental disaster at the feet of the Bush administration, based largely on what she's told by a former Clinton administration official. Interesting because the Clinton administration studied the problem to death and, as with many Clinton-era environmental measures, enacted restrictions only as a parting shot on leaving office. The rule was finalized and published in the Federal Register January 22, 2001 (two days after Bush's inauguration), leaving the Bush administration to work out the details and take the flak. Is it fair, do you suppose, to question teh timing?
Squatter's rights in Boulder?!
For years, the judge and his attorney wife eyed a vacant lot next door to their Boulder home. They regularly trespassed on it, created paths and even held parties on the land.How special. The owners are fighting what looks to be an uphill battle. A most peculiar situation.
Invoking a little-known legal doctrine called "adverse possession," they convinced a judge to give them a big chunk of the million-dollar property next door. For free.
The interlopers also filed a lawsuit against the Kirlins, claiming a third of the property under the concept of "adverse possession." This is a centuries-old legal doctrine of acquiring someone else's property by using it.
Update: The InstaPundit links David Harsanyi's comments on the topic, which I'd missed. They're terribly entertaining.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007- - -
Here's an interesting article on global warming that's rather different than what you read in most media. It seems that quite a number of respected climate scientists are global warming skeptics.
The one thing everyone "knows" about global warming is that carbon dioxide is at the heart of the problem. But is it? William Kininmonth, who headed the National Climate Centre for 12 years, says carbon dioxide makes up less than 1 per cent of all greenhouse gases (which are mainly water vapour). As the human-produced component of this is small, he describes its effect on climate as negligible.Those are, I think, the three best points made by this article (but read the whole thing!). First, that only a small percentage of atmospheric co2 in human-produced. Second, that while there does appear to be a correlation between atmospheric co2 and temperature, temperature increase seems to preceed co2 increase, damned inconvenient if you want to maintain that the increase in co2 causes the increase in temperature. And finally, the climate continually changes. Given sufficiently accurate instruments, it would be surprising if no change could be detected. However, it's far from clear what the optimum global temperature is, so predictions of impending doom may be somewhat premature. Farther along the article raises serious questions about the validity of the much ballyhooed IPCC studies.
According to Carter, Antarctic ice cores show that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has varied considerably over the past several million years. Interestingly, there is a relationship with temperature: warming precedes rises in carbon dioxide. This is the opposite of the panel's claim that rising levels of human-produced carbon dioxide have led to warming.
Several of the sceptics at the conference say that greenhouse orthodoxy is often based on an assumption the climate was stable until disrupted by human industry. In fact, the climate is always changing, often significantly (in Europe the "medieval warm period" was followed by what's called the "little ice age") and sometimes suddenly.
This and many, many other interesting articles are linked at the Climate Audit blog, a veritable hotbed of AGW skepticism, manned by actual climate scientists.
No good deed goes unpunished..
This cautionary tale of Homeland Security run amok (linked by the InstaPundit) prompts me to link another story of an apparent Good Samaritan, Tommy Bowman, who found evidence related to a murder. He turned it in. Now he's a "person of interest".
"Everyone told me don't go turn it in, but I thought, 'Why? I have nothing to hide. I did not do anything wrong.' Sure, it's late, but better late than never, right?" said Bowman, a 36-year- old who now lives in central California. "Boy, did that backfire in my face."And they wonder why people don't report crimes or assist police investigations.
Bowman quickly became a focus in Bradley's murder investigation. Detectives scoured his apartment, grilled friends and confiscated some of his belongings. Blood found in his apartment - from a brawling friend of a friend who slept over one night, Bowman says - did not match Bradley's.
An armed society is a polite society
The InstaPundit links to Jeffrey R. Snyder's A Nation of Cowards, which outlines the right and responsibility for self defense. Written in 1993, it's a bit dated regarding concealed carry laws, but time has proven he and the much more succinct Heinlein correct. Well worth reading, and re-reading every now and then.
The InstaPundit links this piece on the new Metal Storm gun system. I find a couple of things interesting about this development. First, "The projectiles are stacked in-line in the barrel--nose to tail--so there are no magazines, no shell casings, and no mechanical components." Not surprising then that it can achieve a rate of fire of 1 million rounds per minute. But, how many rounds will fit in each barrel? It's somewhat less impressive if it can achieve that rate of fire for only a millisecond or so. Also, I seem to recall a flintlock rifle with this same stacked in-line loading, so this isn't exactly a new innovation. Second, they make much of its electric ignition, citing the Austrian Voere hunting rifle. But this isn't the first electric ignition military weapon either. As an example, the M68 105mm main gun in our old M60 series tanks had an electronic ignition system rather than a primer impacted by a firing pin.
All such developments are interesting, but this one sounds like more hype than substance. Far cooler, I think, is the new BAE rail gun, capable of launching a projectile at Mach 8. That's about 8930 feet per second, somewhat over 3000 feet per second faster than the APFSDS rounds from our main battle tanks. That's smokin'. Of course, Heinlein described rail guns in Harsh Mistress so that concept isn't exactly new either, only the technology to make it possible. Got to love the commenter who says "Is this one of those guns that is so powerful that it could shoot a Toyota Prius thousands of miles into the middle of the Atlantic Ocean? If so, then let's get started." Yep, something for everyone to like there!
AP -- Irish actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers, star of the Henry VIII soap opera "The Tudors," has been charged with public drunkenness and breach of the peace at Dublin Airport, police said today.Getting arrested for public drunkenness in Ireland must take a very special talent.
Things that make you say Hmmmm
GREEN RIVER -- Sweetwater County has always been a bit of the country cousin to the rest of the state -- a raw, blue-collar kind of place, with residents stubborn about their politics, proud of their Wyoming heritage, but always seeming to do things their own way.Guys, doing things our own way is our heritage. Goes hand in hand with minding our own business, which the smoking banners might bear in mind.
So why should their proposed smoke-free ordinances be any different?
Both city councils are in the midst of approving smoke-free ordinances. And both cities are bucking the statewide trend by considering exempting bars and private clubs from the bans.
Ah well, this particular ban is interesting. About the only place you'll see someone smoking indoors in a public place is in a bar. So exempt bars and what have you? Well, a nice piece of feel good legislation that doesn't actually accomplish much or bother anybody. Legislators will legislate, so perhaps this sort of thing should be encouraged.
Ps. Oh, and Sweetwater County is hardly our "country cousin". With an estimated population of 38,763 in 2006, it's the fourth most populated county in the state, right behind Campbell (38,934), Natrona (70,401), and Laramie (85,384). As Wyoming goes, it's downright cosmopolitan, even if the Casper Star has treated Sweetwater as a red-headed stepchild for years.
Monday, November 19, 2007- - -
"Things are going annoyingly well.."
Jack Kelly: We're floundering in a quagmire in Iraq. Our strategy is flawed, and it's too late to change it. Our resources have been squandered, our best people killed, we're hated by the natives and our reputation around the world is circling the drain. We must withdraw.Kelly was linked by Bob Krumm, who comments "There was another argument for the war in Iraq: defeat them there so that they can’t attack us here. Remember the “Flypaper Theory”? Every day, that goal comes closer to being realized. Yet few in the media seem to have noticed.
No, I'm not channeling Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. I'm channeling Osama bin Laden, for whom the war in Iraq has been a catastrophe. Al-Qaida had little presence in Iraq during the regime of Saddam Hussein. But once he was toppled, al-Qaida's chieftains decided to make Iraq the central front in the global jihad against the Great Satan.
Jihadis, money and weapons were poured into Iraq. All for naught. Al-Qaida has been driven from every neighborhood in Baghdad, Maj. Gen. Joseph Fil, the U.S. commander there, said Nov. 7. This follows the expulsion of al-Qaida from two previous "capitals" of its Islamic Republic of Iraq, Ramadi and Baquba.
Al-Qaida is evacuating populated areas and is trying to establish hideouts in the Hamrin mountains in northern Iraq, with U.S. and Iraqi security forces, and former insurgent allies who have turned on them, in hot pursuit. Forty-five al-Qaida leaders were killed or captured in October alone.
But, but, but.. I noticed. Back in July and again in August. Must have been jumping the gun, eh?
Friday, November 16, 2007- - -
Stephen Green on the latest Democratic debate
Shaken, but never stirred.
Pure political.. copper?
Seems the feds have raided the offices of a Ron Paul supporter.
We Pastafarians get some recognition.
Update: Whew! Speaking of which, check out the comment thread following this letter to the Casper Star. 'Dogs will never evolve into cats, therefore the Theory of Evolution is bunk'. I'm told that our public school teachers avoid mentioning the naughty "E" word; it's simply not worth the anguish. Well, this is what comes of taking the easy way.
The Code of the West
We've got rules out here. Not a lot of 'em, but there are some. Among them: Real Cowboys don't drink at a place called The Pink Pony. They may be tough enough to wear pink, but you've got to draw the line somewhere.
Which brings up another rule: Real Cowboys don't get their panties in a knot when someone makes joking reference to Brokeback Mountain. Even cows can be queer and we doubt it was part of their upbringing, so get over it.
There's other rules too, but you'll have to get them from that marquee at the church in Thermop.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007- - -
Been there, done that, (still do)
Here's an interesting article on the boomer's life in the oil patch. We too live in our RV when we're working on the road and we've spent quite a lot of time in the Rock Springs KOA (good folks!). Not only is motel living incredibly expensive, but cooking facilities in a motel room leave a lot to be desired. Only so many microwave burritos I can eat and restaurants get expensive too. Besides, when you've put in a 12-hour day it's nice to throw something on the stove while you get cleaned up. Eat, fall in bed, and get up to do it again.
The article makes RV life sound terribly cramped and it is, compared to a house. Compared to a motel room we've got tons of room, lots of storage, and we don't have a maid checking out our stuff while we're gone. 'Course our current RV (the third) is only slightly smaller than the Titanic. When we first got into linear living we had a 26' bumper pull. Had to climb over the bed to get in the bathroom. But then the sink had fallen off the wall in the motel we had been living in.. Life in the fast lane.
JACKSON -- U.S. Sen. John Barrasso introduced legislation Tuesday that would discourage states from issuing driver's licenses to illegal immigrants by withholding 10 percent of their federal highway funds*.I've got to agree with Barasso on that last: Giving driver's licenses to illegals stikes me as beyond ridiculous. Apparently there are some laws that our esteemed rulers simply won't enforce and the immigration laws are high on the list.
Barrasso said people who enter and live in the United States illegally should not be issued state driver's licenses, citing concerns for national security as a main reason.
"It seems pretty simple to me," Barrasso, R-Wyo., said in a release. "We won't truly be serious about securing our borders and stopping illegal immigration until we stop the practice of issuing driver's licenses to the very individuals who are breaking our laws."
That said, Wyoming has been blackmailed many times with this same threat to cut off highway funding. "Lower the speed limit to 55 or else!" "Raise your drinking age to 21 or else!" "We don't care what the people who live there want, we on the coasts have the votes so screw your state's rights." As Barrasso notes, this could mean more highway funding for us, presumably at the expense of any state that didn't comply. The motives for doing this sort of thing aren't entirely pure.
Given the number of times we've been subject to this sort of federal blackmail, it ill becomes our legislators to propose doing it to someone else. I'd rather see a bill forbidding such blackmail under any circumstances, purely as a state's rights issue.
As a side note, you'll notice that the article has a (not uncommon) problem distinguishing between "immigrants" and "illegal immigrants". I seriously doubt that 20% of the Jackson Hole population are illegals. I could be wrong though. Up there the billionaires are driving out the millionaires. Hard to find grocery clerks and dish washers when the average house runs.. if I recall correctly, something over $1 million, while the residents steadfastly refuse to consider construction of affordable housing (that would drive down their property values, eh?). A lot of those $1 million dollar McMansions are vacation homes occupied only a few weeks a year. So bring in the latinos and let them live 12 to a room. Remember this when any of our rich and famous -- Dick Cheney and Harrison Ford spring to mind -- lecture us. The lifestyle in Jackson is propped up by gross exploitation of the poorest of the poor.
*Bear in mind that much of this money is a fuel tax. It's collected from the motorists to pay for the highways they drive on. However, I'd not be at all surprised to learn that Wyoming gets a good deal more in federal funding than we pay in. But then if we let I-80 go to pot -- the biggest transcontinental trucking corridor -- we wouldn't be the ones to suffer. The multifarious ramifications of twiddling highway funding are near infinite.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007- - -
He dropped his rifle?
Missoulian -- A hunter was attacked by a mountain lion Sunday near Kalispell.He dropped his rifle? By all rights the guy ought to be giving the acceptance speech for his Darwin Award right now. As is, he certainly deserves an honorable mention.. He dropped his rifle?!! Did he scream like a little girl?
The hunter told officials he was several miles in on a trail when he heard what sounded like the scream of a mountain lion.
A short time later, he heard a growl and turned to see a lion about 10 to 15 feet away.
The man dropped his rifle and rushed to get behind a tree.
The lion pounced on his back and knocked him into the tree.
The collision made the lion lose its grip and the hunter reached his pistol and fired a shot.
The lion ran away and the hunter fired several more shots in the animal's general direction.
[Sigh] And would it be too much to ask that our "professional journalists" learn how paragraphs work? This is an excellent illustration of the difference between a junior high reading level and a junior high writing level.
Yet another arch!
Here's one I found back in October. I'd hesitated to say anything about this one, as it's almost undoubtedly an archaeological site. If I were to disclose its location I'd probably be in violation of every federal archaeological permit I hold. So I won't. But it's still pretty cool.
Several locals have told me about this arch over the years and I was finally in the area deer hunting, so I decided to go look for it (the deer weren't biting anyway).
The arch is about 27 meters long, 20 meters wide, and about 4 meters high at the center. Being an arch rather than a natural bridge, there's no stream running under it and the floor inside is relatively level, making it a nice place to camp. It's also a dream archaeological site in that the roof fall is slow but constant, burying anything left there over the years. Better yet, this roof fall is small chunks of limestone anywhere from walnut to fist-sized, which mixes with blown-in silt to form the floor. It would be frightfully difficult to excavate with a shovel so it's never been molested by pot hunters.
Given how terribly cool it is, it's surprising that it's not marked on any of the topographic maps of the area, nor has it become a tourist attraction despite being only a short jaunt off the highway. I suspect that, being hidden back in the trees, only a few locals know about it, and it's pretty unlikely that anyone would stumble on it by accident. In fact, it's so well hidden that archaeologists doing a timber sale inventory of the area didn't find it. I've reported it to the state's Cultural Records Office, so it's location is now on file, which should afford it some protection in the future.
Arches R Us!
Here's the Dry Medicine Lodge Creek Arch, which we hiked to last Friday. And quite a hike it was. The arch is about 4.5 miles up Dry Medicine Lodge Creek from the campground at the Medicine Lodge Creek Archaeological Site, north of Hyattville, Wyoming. Terribly, terribly scenic and the first three miles can be driven, at least between June 1st and November 30th, when the road is open (the road is closed in winter and spring as it runs through prime winter habitat for deer and elk).
We chose to park just beyond the campground and hike in, just to get our money's worth. The first three miles hiking up the road is an easy walk up a slight grade, but the last mile-and-a-half is another story. That part of the hike follows a long-abandoned road grade up the canyon bottom that's become very overgrown with brush. Not exactly a ton of fun, but the destination is worth the effort.
The arch is about 30 meters long, 15 meters wide, and five meters high at the center.
Is that a rhetorical question?
The InstaPundit comments on the good news out of iraq:
Yeah, it is. Nice that people are noticing. But it's also, paradoxically, bad news for the Republicans in that those who have held their nose and stuck with the GOP because of the war are likely to feel freer to vote for people they agree with on other issues. And while it's true that Iraq is not the war on terror, it's also likely that the post-2009 phase of the war on terror will involve less outright war and more spying, backstabbing, subtle undermining, bribery, extortion and cooptation. Hmm. What candidate might be good at that sort of thing?
Should have guessed this would involve traffic cameras..
Coloradoans are understandably concerned with air pollution along the Front Range. And hey, who cares about those folks who can't afford a nice new car?
She should have been a child molester..
25-year-old Hayley Jaqua, an anthropology major at Metropolitan State College of Denver, will likely lose her scholarships if she's convicted of possessing less than an ounce of pot. Says David Harsanyi:
Jaqua's petty offense carries with it a maximum fine of $100. Not a huge deal, to be sure. But the long-term consequences of this transgression could be life-changing.At least most places we're no longer 'saving our children from the evils of pot by subjecting them to the evils of prison', but I'm sure that's cold comfort to Ms. Jaqua. An interesting situation, read the whole thing.
According to the Higher Education Act's aid elimination penalty provision - passed through Congress without any debate in 1998 - a student must check off a box on financial aid applications, revealing any drug offenses. A check could mean no college aid.
There is no box for "child molestation" or "arson" or "racketeering" or ... well, you get the point.
Monday, November 12, 2007- - -
Well shiver me timbers!
New research indicates that pirates are to blame for global warming. Makes perfect sense to me.
HT: Protein Wisdom
Sunday, November 11, 2007- - -
If we have weather, it will be attributed to global warming..
The InstaPundit links this interesting article on hurricanes and global warming by Brendan Loy:
Some observers see a more sinister explanation for the seasonal forecasts, believing they are part of a campaign by agenda-driven scientists to hype the global-warming threat. If this were so, it would be a very short-sighted, risky, and ultimately counterproductive move, since the hype generated by inflated forecasts is short-lived and turns predictably into a backlash when the numbers are not borne out by reality. (This theory of agenda-driven forecasting also ignores the fact that Dr. William Gray, one of the most prominent and longstanding seasonal forecasters, is an outspoken global-warming skeptic.) [What? A prominent scientist who's a global warming skeptic?]He's right, of course, that we should be debating global warming on its merits, but I think he's wrong to suggest that the hype derives from misinformed laymen. It's becoming almost rare to read an article about a brush fire in California, a blizzard in Montana, or a typhoon in Fuji where the journalist misses the opportunity to tell us that this is further evidence of global warming. Nor does the topic of global warming come up without someone telling us that 'all scientists agree' with the warming alarmists. If laymen are misinformed, I don't think we have to look farther than our media to know why.
What, then, can we take away from the 2006 and 2007 hurricane seasons, for purposes of the global-warming debate? The honest answer is, not very much. The Houston Chronicle’s Eric Berger writes that “with its Category 5 storms and low ACE index, the 2007 season offers ammunition for both camps of scientists arguing over the impact of global warming on hurricanes.” Ammunition, perhaps, but both camps are largely firing blanks. “All scientists agree,” Berger writes, “that a single hurricane season cannot make or break an argument for global warming having a measurable impact of hurricanes.” Alas, this message is often lost on non-scientists in the pro- and anti- crowds.
Just as it was both unsound and unwise for some global-warming advocates to hold up the 2005 hurricane season as proof of their position, it would be equally unsound and unwise for global-warming skeptics to hold up 2006 and 2007 as somehow disproving the existence of global warming. Such arguments are unsound because they confuse climate, which is comprised of long-term trends, with weather, which chronicles individual events. They are also unwise strategically because they are so vulnerable to attack when things — predictably — turn out differently in future years.
The heavy reliance on 2005 in certain quarters, which gave some lay observers the false impression that all hurricane seasons would henceforth be similar to the freakish ‘05 season, left global-warming advocates open to cynicism, criticism and rebuttal when 2006 and 2007 failed to live up to expectations. Similarly, a global-warming skeptic who claims today that 2007 disproves global warming is leaving himself open to the argument, if 2008 is an active season, that ‘08 proves global warming is real after all. The more honest (and strategically sound) course, for both sides, is to discuss global warming on its actual merits, and not obsess over minor year-to-year variations that tell us very little, if anything, about long-term trends.
In any event, the whole argument over global warming really misses the point, in a certain sense. The biggest downside of the politicization of weather is that it has largely blinded us to more pressing issues related to disaster preparedness.
I also think Loy's wrong to suggest that there aren't agenda-driven scientists in the debate. Here's what Weather Channel founder and San Diego meteorologist, John Coleman has to say:
I am a member of Icecap.US, a website that posts materials that refute the global warming hype. Here is what I have to say about global warming and wildfires and hurricanes, droughts and heat waves: whatever happens, they blame it on global warming.So.. Here we have another scientist who's not only a global warming skeptic, but also fingers agenda-driven, activist scientists as a source of global warming hype.
A group of scientists with extreme political and/or environmental agendas has linked the recent wildfires with global warming. They don't have any real scientific proof; they haven't done any detailed, peer reviewed research. They simply link it all together based on their version of how things work.
Similarly scientists in the spring predicted a super bad hurricane season with a bevy of major hurricanes and linked the coming armageddon with global warming. The hurricanes didn't happen. The activist scientists haven't apologized, taken back or explained their error. The same scientists are busy linking droughts and hot spells and tornado outbreaks to global warming.
If you listen to them, if it weren't for global warming, the world would be tranquil with no weather extremes. Such nonsense. First of all, there is precious little if any global warming. Temperatures, on average, world wide have increased perhaps as much as a degree in the last 100 years. And, even that increase is based on questionable science.
Truth is, the global climate isn't static. It changes continually. Given sufficiently sensitive instruments, the real surprise would be if no change could be discerned. Problem is, such sensitive instruments have only been available and in wide-spread use for a few decades. We only have short-term data. Predicting climate change over the next couple centuries based on direct extrapolation of a 30-year trend is just as foolish as predicting the number of hurricanes or brush fires we'll have next year based on how many we had last year.
Saturday, November 10, 2007- - -
You don't have to be a genius to read this!
And it probably wouldn't help if you were..
Via Dr. Helen comes the Blog Readability Test. Enter the URL of a blog or other web site and this utility will tell you "what level of education is required to understand your blog". Dr Helen is quite pleased that her blog's reading level is "genius".
Always willing to put the ego to the test, I plugged in my URL to find that A Coyote at the Dogshow is rated at "junior high level" [gasp!]. So.. that bad, eh? Well, a little salve was required, so I plugged in the InstaPundit, Protein Wisdom, and Daily Pundit, three blogs I read quite a lot, and found that we all have a junior high reading level [Well! So there!].
Of course, after I quit hyperventilating it occurred to me that this utility doesn't rate writing level, but rather the level of reading comprehension required to understand what we're writing about. When you look at it that way, it's probably not a good thing if only a genius could follow our ranting [I feel better already!].
Thursday, November 08, 2007- - -
Things that make you say Hmmmm..
Perhaps I'm just easily creeped out today, but I can't help being reminded of a John D. MacDonald novel where the eViL scientists were turning people into super-athletes by inducing them to exercise with drug rewards.
Update: I should add that I think the children's exercycle/video game is a great idea. Lord knows video games are turning people into couch potatoes, and when you live on the 22nd floor you can't send the kid out in the backyard to play. I got into playing music again (and making instruments, I'm easily obsessed) largely to avoid spending all my rainy days killing animated boogersnots or playing video solitaire. I'm just afraid that, given how addicting video games are, we're going to see an epidemic of kids who are dehydrated and suffering from repetitive stress injuries because they ride these things all day. Easy to say that the parents should keep this under control, but when the three-year-old is running around and around the couch screaming 'Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!' it would be too, too easy to say 'go play your game'.
A breakthrough experiment has used a human gene to turn vicious mice into very gentle creatures -- holding out the prospect of doing similarly sweet things to violent people.One step closer to Pax in our air processors.
I'm all in favor of genetic research, but the "Oooh! We could use this on humans!" bit is rather off-putting. First, there are the unintended consequences -- and there are always unintended consequences -- and then there's the question of whether the subjects would have any say in the matter. When we're talking about creating genetically modified sheeple it's particularly scary if only because I can see how some folks would be severely tempted to give everyone the treatment at birth.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007- - -
It was Christmas in prison
And the food was real good,
We had turkey and pistols
carved out of wood.
Glad to see that one by John Prine showed up on the list of emotionally ambiguous holiday tunes. They forgot Grandma got run over by a reindeer though. Can't get much more emotionally ambiguous than that.
Does anybody still buy stuff made in China?
Today we hear that Chinese-made Aqua Dots toys have been coated with "... a chemical that metabolizes when swallowed into a date-rape drug." And that's just one of several Chinese-made toys recalled today. Pet food, tooth paste, lipstick, clothing.. What's next? It's starting to sound like goods of any kind made in China or with ingredients made in China should be avoided just to be on the safe side.
What in hell are they thinking?
Now there's a really bad idea
Triggering blooms of plankton to absorb atmospheric co2. You don't have to search far to learn that tampering with marine ecology can have a number of bad consequences.
A quarter century ago president Ronald Reagan declared in his first inaugural address: "In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. . . . It is my intention to curb the size and influence of the federal establishment and to demand recognition of the distinction between the powers granted to the federal government and those reserved to the states or to the people." In 1981, the year of that speech, the federal government spent $678 billion; in 2006, it spent $2,655 billion. Adjust that 292% increase for inflation, and the federal government is still spending 84% more than it did when Reagan became president--in a country whose population has grown by only 30%.William Voegeli, writing in the Wall Street Journal, does a great job of outlining the fiscal conservative's dilemma. You can't be elected without making those vulgar promises and you can't stay elected without keeping at least most of them. An excellent article and do read the whole thing. I choke a bit at the implication of Samuelson's quote: That we'd be better off if politicians broke more of their promises. He might be right, but do we really want to be governed by politicians who feel free(er) to outright lie at every turn? It's not that I think we deserve whatever we've been promised. Rather, I think we deserve honesty from our government. Of course, we also deserve the government we get..
To put the point another way, if per capita spending after 1980 had grown at the rate of inflation, federal outlays would have been $1,883 billion in 2006 instead of $2,655 billion. The 41% increase from 1981 to 2006 is considerably lower than the 94% increase in real per capita spending in the previous 25 years, from 1956 to 1981. In the past two decades, the federal establishment grew steadily, rather than dramatically. Nonetheless, Reagan's pledge to curb the government's size and influence has hardly been fulfilled. Inflation-adjusted federal spending increased in every year but two over the past 26 years.
Early on, in the wilderness years, conservatives had a surer sense of what they were up against. The first issue of National Review described conservatism as "a position . . . unattenuated by a thousand vulgar promises to a thousand different pressure groups." Unattenuated in theory, conservatism in practice has been hemmed in constantly by the fact that the people insist that promises made to them, vulgar or not, must be kept. Robert Samuelson recently wrote, "Most Americans . . . think that they automatically deserve whatever they've been promised simply because the promises were made."