Friday, February 29, 2008- - -
Seems Ft. Benning has a wild pig problem. "An estimated 6,000 feral pigs that roam the 184,000-acre installation". That's 30 pigs per square mile. So they're offering a $40 bounty on the fugly beasts. Sounds like a job for the Guide Gun.
Things that make you say Hmmm...
MONTPELIER, Vt. - More than two decades after the country established a uniform drinking age of 21, a nascent movement is afoot to allow 18- to 20-year-olds to legally buy alcohol under some circumstances.Of course, the current system has also caused the absurdity of having 18 to 20-year-olds routinely tried in adult court for a 'crime' that can only be committed by a minor. Whatever. It's interesting that it took the threat of losing highway funding to force states like South Dakota and Wyoming (we changed our law about that same time) to raise the drinking age. Now the Wyoming Department if Transportation is complaining that they're getting less and less federal funding all the time. They think this is a bad thing and to an extent it is -- it's not Wyomingites causing the mobs of traffic on I-80 -- why should we pay to provide all those folks from California and Colorado with a convenient way to cross our state? On the other hand, when the feds look for a way to blackmail us highway funding is usually high on the list. The less money they give us the easier it will be to tell them to pound sand.
Proponents say the higher age hasn't kept young people from consuming alcohol and has instead driven underage consumption underground, particularly on college campuses.
Ps. I really don't think that our youth benefit from the bizarre confusion over the definition of adulthood. You're considered an adult for the purposes of voting, military service, and most legal proceedings at 18. You can't drink until you're 21. But if you're a soldier in a gang and off a rival gang member you're a "child" at 25.
More on the Joe Horn shooting
I've received a nice note from Douglas Sundseth regarding my post on the Joe Horn shooting:
From the description you posted, it sounds as though Joe Horn might have a problem, but only because this happened during daylight. In Texas, lethal force in defense of your, or another's, property is legal at night. For more information, see [link].Ah yes, I'm a font of advice -- most of it bad -- but you can't go wrong visiting the Buffalo Bill Museum! And my response:
If I were on his jury, I'd find myself hard-pressed to convict, though. He did the burglars the courtesy of taking their actions as indicating that they, at least, believed the goods were worth their lives.
Also, the idea that, "Citizens have no such duty and would best let the LEOs do their job in these cases" is a very recent one. Historically, every citizen had a legal responsibility to both "raise a hue and cry" and assist in capturing felons.
Finally, I've been meaning to thank you for the information you so kindly provided last summer. We hit many of the places you recommended on our trip back from Yellowstone and found the trip nicer for the advice. The museum in Cody was a particularly good recommendation; I thought the Swiss matchlock in their collection was especially notable.
I thought I recalled that Texas was one of the places where you were allowed to shoot in defense of property. The 'only after dark' bit is an interesting wrinkle though. So if you're the proprietor of the jewelry store in the mall, do you post a chart of sunrise and sunset times so you know if it's legal to shoot the smash & grab guys? One of those laws that seems overly complicated. I bet it was written by lawyers.Do read the whole Wiki discussion of vigilantes (if only for the great photo of the Bald Knobbers). John Longenecker's criteria outlining the difference between vigilantes and self defense is particularly interesting in the Joe Horn situation:
You're right that citizens were once called on to assist in apprehending criminals as well as in 'raising the hue and cry' -- which I'd interpret nowadays as calling the cops -- but even back in the wild, wild west such citizens were usually formally deputized. I think that formal process served two purposes: to confer a degree of immunity to the citizens, and to give them a certain publicly recognized authority.
We had quite a few problems with vigilante groups, back in the late 1800's particularly. In fact, when you consider the Wiki definition of vigilante: "A vigilante is a person who ignores due process of law and enacts his/her own form of justice when they deem the response of the authorities to be insufficient." Horn would seem to fit the bill quite well.
I agree I'd have a hard time convicting the guy, but then I also agree that the "response of the authorities was insufficient" in this case. I'd probably have sympathized with the vigilantes in many cases back when too.
1. The acts would have to be outside the law, as in acting without court order or other lawful action. Legally, individuals may intervene to stop a crime in progress. But, where operating without authority was what Vigilante was all about, enforcing the law or responding in self-defense does have authority in the U.S.I'm not a lawyer, but it appears to me that Joe Horn's actions at least debatably fit the definition of vigilantism, although I'd also argue that Longenecker's definition is a bit too restricted to southern anti-abolitionists. Vigilante committees out west were also formed to fight rustling for one, although "rustler" was often defined as 'anyone other than a cattle baron who possessed cows'. Consider:
2. The acts would have to be without a redeeming social purpose, i.e. cannot be a mistake, for instance.
3. The acts would have to be unrighteous, such as a wrong act fighting for a wrong cause. Keeping slavery alive would be one such example.
4. The acts would have to include a killing, and an unlawful killing at that.
5. The acts would have to be a conspiracy, or some sort of committee action which escalates the hasty, mob rule mentality with little restraint.
Was Horn's action lawful under #1? The 911 dispatcher had told him not to attempt to apprehend the burglars. I don't know what legal authority the dispatcher holds, but that would suggest that any responsibility Mr. Horn held to attempt to apprehend the thieves ended with that admonition. His “I’m going to kill them” statement to the dispatcher would suggest that he intended to do more than just apprehend them. It would seem hard to claim self defense when you set out to kill someone.
Criterion #2 is a bit more difficult. Does shooting burglars have a redeeming social purpose? I think so. I seem to recall polls showing that criminals fear being shot by citizens more than they fear being shot by police. I think reenforcing that fear from time to time is a good thing. The increased incidence of 'hot burglaries' where the citizens have been disarmed seems to show what happens when the burglars lose their fear. I'm inclined to echo Col. Cooper and say "good riddance!"
Was Mr. Horn's action "unrighteous" -- "a wrong act fighting for a wrong cause"? Well, yes and no. I think his action was wrong, but his cause was certainly righteous. I'd give this one a wash.
Re #4, whether the killing was unlawful is the core of the debate here and will undoubtedly be the focus of any further legal proceedings against Mr. Horn.
And #5. There's no conspiracy or joint action here. However, if Mr. Horn is prosecuted in this case that prosecution would tend to dampen repeats of this behavior. If he's not prosecuted it would tend to encourage others to shoot when they perhaps shouldn't. To borrow the Army's recruiting theme, it might encourage people to become 'mobs of one'.
A very, very interesting case with multifarious ramifications. On the one hand, this is exactly the sort of thing that the gun grabbers are talking about when they fear that gun ownership will lead to 'vigilante justice'. On the other, the occasional dead burglar serves an excellent object lesson. Mr. Horn's big problem is his “I’m going to kill them” statement. Self defense? I think not.
Perhaps it's time to stop and think
DenverPost -- More than one in 100 adult Americans are in jail or prison, an all-time high that is costing state governments nearly $50 billion a year, in addition to more than $5 billion spent by the federal government, according to a report released Thursday.Perhaps it's time to reconsider why we incarcerate people. Does a person pose a continuing danger to the public? Then by all means lock him up, preferably until he no longer poses a danger. But right now we're locking up a significant portion of the population solely because another portion of the population believe they deserve to be punished. Perhaps it's time to stop indulging those urges that gave us the pillory and scarlet letters and start considering how best to insure public safety.
With more than 2.3 million people behind bars at the start of 2008, the United States leads the world in both the number and the percentage of residents it incarcerates, leaving even far more populous China a distant second, noted the report by the nonpartisan Pew Center on the States.
The ballooning prison population is largely the result of tougher state and federal sentencing imposed since the mid-1980s. Minorities have been hit particularly hard: One-ninth of black men age 20 to 34 are behind bars. For black women age 35 to 39, the figure is one in 100, compared with one in 355 white women in the same age group.
In addition, when it comes to preventing repeat offenses by nonviolent criminals — who make up about half of the incarcerated population — alternative punishments such as community supervision and mandatory drug counseling that are far less expensive may prove just as or more effective than jail time.
Florida, which nearly doubled its prison population over the past 15 years, has experienced a smaller drop in crime than New York, which, after a brief increase, reduced its number of inmates to below the 1993 level.
"There is no question that putting violent and chronic offenders behind bars lowers the crime rate and provides punishment that is well deserved," said Adam Gelb, director of the Pew Center's Public Safety Performance Project and one of the study's authors.
"On the other hand," Gelb said, "there are large numbers of people behind bars who could be supervised in the community safely and effectively at a much lower cost — while also paying taxes, paying restitution to their victims and paying child support."
Wednesday, February 27, 2008- - -
BOISE, Idaho -- Federal officials are again seeking the latest in scientific data and public comment as they revisit whether to extend Endangered Species Act protection to the sage grouse.I don't think there's much doubt that sage grouse populations are declining. The real question is why? They're declining in areas where development is occurring, but they're also declining in areas where there has been no development. They're declining in areas where there have been range fires and they're declining in areas where there have been no range fires. Seems to me that the best science would ask the completely open-ended question Why are sage grouse populations declining? Unfortunately, too many have already jumped to the conclusion that it must be because the grouse are losing their habitat.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the new review Tuesday, two months after a federal judge in Idaho condemned the agency for failing to use the best available science when it decided not to list the bird two years ago.
That, I think, says more about the grouse' would-be protectors than it says about the grouse. Reading all these articles, I get the distinct impression that these folks don't want the best available science, they want some scientist to confirm their preconceived notions. Meanwhile, the sage grouse population continues to decline..
What we really need is a law that criminals will obey..
Casper -- The criminal killing of an elk underscores the need to restrict the use of loaded guns in national parks, Chief U.S. District Judge William Downes said Tuesday.So.. The law prohibits Belderrain from possessing a firearm anywhere. He broke that law. The law prohibits poaching game animals anywhere. Belderrain broke that law too. The law prohibits all hunting in National Parks. Yep, broke that one. But somehow all this proves that we need a law prohibiting the possession of loaded firearms in National Parks, another law that did not save that elk from Mr. Belderrain.
"You took a magnificent bull elk in a United States park, then engaged in acts to cover up your crime," Downes said before sentencing Michael David Belderrain to four years in prison.
"Your case represents a classic public policy answer to the question: 'Why do we not want to have people with indiscriminate access to firearms in a national park?'
Besides the 48 months for being a felon in possession of a firearm, and 12 months for the two game violations -- all to be served concurrently -- Downes ordered Belderrain to pay $6,000 in restitution to the Yellowstone National Park Service Restitution Fund, plus a $1,000 fine.
What Judge Downes seems to be implying here is that your average law-abiding citizen, possessed with a loaded firearm and presented the same opportunity, would have shot that elk. Words simply fail me at this point.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008- - -
The Kings of Pain..
No, this isn't about politics, it's an article on the world's most painfully poisonous biting and stinging critters. I may never go outside again..
The Orgasmatron is coming!
Sex at Fox News? I'm Shocked! I'm pretty sure several of Fox' regulars have never had sex. Some may not even be the products of sex.
No country for grouchy old white men
David Harsanyi strikes again:
"According to a Gallup poll, only 5 percent of Americans would never vote for an African-American, while 11 percent claim they would never vote for a woman. [...] In the same Gallup poll, 42 percent claim they would not vote for a 72-year-old."
Now, instead of 40-acre ranchettes blighting the landscape we'll have 140-acre ranchettes blighting even more of the landscape. Idjits.
A bit more push-back
"Shall-issue" concealed carry laws are becoming popular, the sun has set on the assault weapons ban, and now it looks like we'll be able to carry guns in National Parks:
ANNE C. MULKERN reporting from WASHINGTON, D.C. - Visitors to Rocky Mountain, Mesa Verde and Great Sand Dunes national parks in Colorado could soon be allowed to carry guns.Yes, we do have to worry about those scared kids with guns. All the refugees from the gun free school zones, I'd guess.
Under pressure from the gun lobby and 50 senators — including Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo. — the Bush Administration is preparing to change the law banning guns in national parks.
Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne has directed his department to rewrite the policy for the national parks, with the idea that federal regulations should “mirror” state laws on guns in parks. That would mean guns could be allowed in national parks in states where they are allowed in state parks.
“The concern here is that there is not an encroachment on the rights of law-abiding citizens to carry guns for hunting and recreational purposes,” Allard spokesman Steve Wymer said. Hunting is banned in the vast majority of national parks.
Some also argue that people camping in parks need to protect themselves from animal attacks.
Park rangers oppose the idea of guns in national parks, said George Durkee, board member with the U.S. Park Rangers Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police.
“People overact and shoot at the animals,” Durkee said. “We don’t need any scared kids with guns running around the woods.”
Unfortunately, they overlook the principal reason to carry a gun anywhere, for simple self defense. The parks have been relatively free of the criminal elements -- too far from their big city habitat -- but I'd think twice about hiking the back country of Organ Pipe due to the invasion of illegals there. There hasn't been a real problem with illegals in Big Bend, but as they tighten up on the more accessible corridors I wouldn't be surprised if we didn't see more illegals and more drug smuggling there as well.
Whatever. Thanks to the 2nd amendment we aren't required to demonstrate a need for a gun. We have a right to have them and there should be very strict scrutiny of any law that restricts that right. The fear of "scared kids with guns" is beyond lame and if that's the best argument the Park Service has they've no business restricting our rights.
Update: Here's another article that does recognize self defense. Got to love the opposition's reasons for opposing the change:
Conservation groups and park rangers said the review amounted to surrender to the NRA. The groups say current regulations requiring that visitors to national parks render their weapons inaccessible were working and have made national parks among the safest places in America.'Can't surrender to the NRA' and 'parks are safe'. Okaaay. With a few exceptions, our National Parks and Monuments are in fairly remote areas. Most of the parks' visitors are relatively affluent folks on vacation, not a demographic inclined to criminal pursuits. The low crime in the parks couldn't have anything to do with the fact that they are far from the urban centers where crime is a problem. Consider that our BLM and Forest Service lands are also among the safest places in America, but you can carry guns there. Lame.
But I think that dredging up the NRA bogeyman pretty much says it all. This isn't about public safety, controlling crime, or what's best for the parks and wildlife, it's ideological to the point of religious fervor and the NRA is the devil incarnate. That the NRA wants this is reason enough to oppose it.
Another update and another article:
WASHINGTON -- Permitting loaded firearms in national parks would be dangerous for visitors and wildlife and would alter the park experience, according to rangers, retirees and conservation groups.So parks are sanctuaries.. Kinda like gun free school zones. That's worked well.
"Parks have long been sanctuaries for both animals and people," said Butch Farabee, a former acting superintendent at Montana's Glacier National Park who is retired. "There need to be places in this country where people can feel secure without guns and know that the guy in the campground across the way does not have one."
But supporters of an Interior Department decision to reconsider a decades-old ban on bringing loaded firearms into national parks say ending the ban could make parks safer.
"If you're hiking in the backcountry and there is a problem with a criminal or an aggressive animal, there's no 911 box where you can call police and have a 60-second response time," said Gary Marbut, president of the Montana Shooting Sports Association. "Here in Montana, we are very used to being able to provide for our own personal protection."
Monday, February 25, 2008- - -
And you thought philosophy was all serious stuff..
In the history of civilized man, there was one period that stood out amongst all the rest: as a time of enlightenment, intelligence, and wisdom. It wasn't anytime recently.Philosophy acording to Phistophicles, Book 1, Book 2, and Book 3. He's definitely my kind of philosopher.
Another aggressive coyote?
This one at Copper Mountain ski resort. This makes the third in as many months. How very strange.
HT: James Taranto, who also says "rats taste like chicken." Got to wonder how he knows that.. Maybe he asked a coyote.
Here's a fascinating little story from the Casper Star
More than 17 years after its discovery, researchers are still unsure why a rare flower is found only on a small patch of Wyoming badlands. But a federal land order announced last month has set aside 360 acres to protect the plant.Opinions differ on how this little critter came to be here. Robert Dorn, a Cheyenne botanist who discovered the yermo in 1990 thinks it's probably a relic population that may have survived in this location for millions of years. Dick Scott, a retired biology professor who has studied the yermo since 1991, thinks the yermo is more likely a hybrid. Whatever it's origins, a bit of checking indicates that Yermo xanthocephalus is indeed known to exist nowhere else on earth. Pretty cool.
The desert yellowhead (yermo xanthocephalus) grows on only about 50 acres administered by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and is listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a threatened species.
Sunday, February 24, 2008- - -
This has got to be a record for the Casper Star on any issue. There's not one, not two, no not even four, there are six articles on wolves today:
'We're going to start conservatively'
LANDER -- Many critics of Wyoming's wolf management plan have predicted the imminent slaughter of up to two-thirds of the state's gray wolf population after the animal loses protection under the federal Endangered Species Act next month.'A real efficient killer'
But state action might turn out to be quite a bit more tempered than many have envisioned, one official with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department indicated last week.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Thursday it will remove wolves from federal protection at the end of this month, and following publication in the Federal Register there will be a 30-day waiting period before Wyoming, Idaho and Montana take over management of the wolf in the Northern Rockies.
Before the end of March, the Game and Fish Department intends to hire four new staff members to run the program, including wolf biologists and technicians, Rudd said. The department needs to put staff and procedures into place to allow it to respond to claims of livestock depredation by wolves within 48 hours of the reports.
Game and Fish also intends to complete a thorough review of all of the Fish and Wildlife Service research and management materials pertaining to wolves, and develop specific hunting and trapping regulations for the animals using that information.
And the department -- and by extension, taxpayers -- will have to pay for it all.
"We have a biennium budget request in the Legislature for $2.35 million to run that program," Rudd said. "That cost includes four permanent people, the purchase of radio collars, the cost of capturing wolves, the cost of monitoring wolves and dealing with depredation of livestock, and, of course, paying for the loss of livestock to wolves."
One morning Joe Thomas sat atop a hill with binoculars, scanning his pasture land, when he spotted two wolves coming down from the timberline.'Their greatest highlight'
They approached his 1,000 head of cows from two different directions, picked out a small group and started herding them around.
"The older ones were teaching the younger ones how to hunt," Thomas said. "They were working in a half circle, like a good set of stock dogs would. I got to witness the whole thing."
Over the years, wolves have killed about 20 calves on Thomas's ranch near the Greybull River, 20 miles west of Meeteetse. Last year the canines killed six.
They were standing at Soda Butte, overlooking the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park, when there was suddenly a wolf, down below, in plain view.'It's really been a bad deal'
In one direction, the group could see elk, and in the other, bison, and swans dotted the broad basin.
More wolves swiftly came into view and gave chase to the elk.
The canines failed to catch one, but as they were regrouping, they howled to one another. As the howls rose up from the valley floor, everybody in the tour group went silent.
Their guide, Meredith Taylor, watched as their faces slowly broke into awed smiles. Finally, one of them said, "Oh, my God."
"For many people, their greatest highlight is seeing and hearing wolves," Taylor said. "It's the call of the wild. I know it sounds parochial, but it's true. We should be celebrating the return of the wolves, not denigrating it."
Wolves are starting to ruin what used to be an elk-hunting paradise, according to the president of the Dubois Outfitters Association.'It's important that it be here'
Fritz Meyer wishes more people would take note.
While many citizens and government officials celebrate the recovery of gray wolves in the Northern Rockies, Meyer said he believes the mid-1990s federal reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park was a terrible mistake from the start.
Not only has it hurt his business, he said, but it has taken a serious toll on elk herds in the Upper Wind River Valley.
"The one thing that's really been sad to a lot of us is since the reintroduction of wolves, we've seen a steady decline in our elk and moose numbers," Meyer said. "Today somebody will come up and tell you when they see a moose. In the past we used to see them everywhere."
Now that gray wolves are back in Yellowstone National Park in force, the rest of the animals there are healthier.Canines vs. cattle
So says Wyoming native Greg Falk, owner of Upstream Anglers and Outdoor Adventures, based in Jackson.
And after spending countless hours observing wolves in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, Falk believes that no animal is more misunderstood than the wolf, he said.
"I'm one of those that are tickled pink that the wolves are back, because he's an important part of the ecosystem," Falk said. "Now that the wolf is back, everybody's eating better in the park. A supreme being of power, higher than us, created that animal. And it's important that it be here."
Falk is an ex-bank president who has guided private wildlife safari trips into the two parks for the past 17 years. Since wolves have been reintroduced, he said, he has seen the greater Yellowstone ecosystem find a better balance.
LANDER -- The Popo Agie Ranch, just four miles south of town, has a 70-acre hay meadow which rises from an aspen- and cottonwood-sheltered river basin, rolling east and empty into the foot of Table Mountain.The common thread through all this are the economic issues involved. Unsurprisingly, whether you love 'em or hate 'em is pretty much dependent on how they affect you. A very interesting series of articles that covers the issue from many viewpoints. Read the whole bunch!
The meadow, and the adjacent 4,000-acre pasture, was once used for a modest but profitable cow-calf operation.
Today, if visitors roll over the wooden platform bridge across the Middle Fork of the Popo Agie River, they'll notice a few corralled llamas, a handful of horses, but no cows.
When wolves moved into the area, rancher Dave Vaughan got out of the cow-calf business, he said.
In his barn last week, on a bright and windless winter morning, Vaughan used a tin can to scoop grain for the horses, as he described the events that precipitated his decision to call it quits.
"As soon as we lost those calves, I said, 'I'm not going to do this anymore,"' he said.
Saturday, February 23, 2008- - -
Okay, this is a bit over the top..
I caught a bit of this on.. ABC News? That's what my wife usually watches -- and here's the story:
Now some states, and I believe Texas is one of them, allow you to shoot in defense of property, but for the most part, you've got to meet the "reasonable man" criterion: Would a reasonable man, in your position, feel that their life, or someone's life, was in immediate danger? It sounds like this case doesn't even come close to meeting that requirement. The guy was safe in his house. He called 911. He could have waited until the police arrived. It doesn't appear to me that he was in any way justified in claiming that he shot in self defense. The dispatcher is right, there's no property worth shooting someone over. We'll see how this one plays out in the courts.
Joe Horn was relaxing at his home outside of Houston, Texas when he heard glass breaking. He looked out the window and saw two men in broad daylight using a crowbar to break into his neighbor’s house.
Joe grabbed his 12-gauge shotgun and called 911. Here’s the exchange.
“Uh, I’ve got a shotgun … uh, do you want me to stop them?”
“Nope, don’t do that,” the dispatcher responded. “Ain’t no property worth shooting somebody over, OK?”
Joe Horn and the 911 dispatcher spoke for several minutes while Joe pleaded for the dispatcher to send out the police to stop the burglars from escaping. The dispatcher continued to urge Joe to stay inside. But Joe is a Texas boy.
“Don’t go outside the house,” the 911 dispatcher pleaded. “You’re going to get yourself shot if you go outside that house with a gun. I don’t care what you think.”
“You want to make a bet?” Joe answered. “I’m going to kill them.”
Shortly afterwards the burglars crawled back out the window. They were carrying a bag, which was later determined to contain a large amount of cash. The police had not yet arrived, and Joe yelled to the dispatcher, “Well, here it goes, buddy,” as a shell clicked into the chamber. “You hear the shotgun clicking, and I’m going.”
A few seconds passed.
“Move,” Joe can be heard saying on the tape. “Or you’re dead.”
Apparently someone moved.
Joe picked up the receiver and said, “They came into my front yard so I shot one and he’s in the yard next door and the other one is running down the street.”
Both men died, each shot once at a range of about 15 feet. I am fairly certain Joe’s defense will be he feared for his life. Which may be hard to prove if the burglars have buckshot in their backs.
Ps. this is something I've discussed many times with my dad, a long-time sheriff's deputy. He stresses that burglary is not a capital offense. So apprehend them if you can, but you are not justified in executing them.
I'd add that it's the duty of a law enforcement officer to apprehend criminals. Citizens have no such duty and would best let the LEOs do their job in these cases.
Haven't been paying much attention to that Singularity thing, have we?*
CONTACT LENSES WITH CIRCUITS AND LIGHTS. Is there something you'd like to see with your eyes other than what's really in front of you?Why yes, I'd like to be able to call up a display from the computer in my pocket and view text, images, thermal or passive night vision imaging of my surroundings, or whatever. It's a Vernor Vinge sorta thingy.
Things that make you say HeHe!
(2008-02-19) — As Cuban President Fidel Castro announced today he would end his half-century of totalitarian rule, sources close to Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama tried to tamp down speculation that they were on “the short list” of potential replacements for the ailing Communist dictator.
Friday, February 22, 2008- - -
Back in Amarillo
Got in yesterday and finally got our "landing gear" fully repaired -- we're level and stable, oh joy! This is the home of the V-22 Osprey, which is an even more unlikely looking aircraft in person than it is in photos. And loud! Especially when they're going over about 50 feet up on their way into the airport.
"change you can Xerox"
So, where does one go for a stock of original platitudes? I'm guessing they were all well-used by the time JoJo ran for head of the wombat clan, so this is much ad'oh about nothing.
What a surprise!
Feds' de-listing of gray wolf draws howls
Thursday, February 21, 2008- - -
Good shootin' Tex!
Of course it was "an excuse for an anti-satellite test". But, despite what the TV news has been telling us, we're not the first to shoot down a satellite. Only difference is, I suspect the Chinese shoot-down was a one off while we've got the capability to repeat the feat any time we want.
Update -- the results are in:
The successful U.S. missile strike against a failing spy satellite 133 miles above Earth on Wednesday bolstered the credibility of America's long-troubled missile-defense system, according to military experts.So it looks like they accomplished their mission of destroying the fuel tank. And I'm sure the Russians, Chinese, et al. will be much relieved to know that we not only have a functioning -- and very accurate -- sea-based anti-missile system, but that it can be reprogrammed to meet unexpected threats. Wanna bet that the programs are in the can for all the expected threats? Being sea-based, it also gives us the capability of interposing should, for instance, China get froggy with Taiwan. Not a good week for dreams of glorious empire.
U.S. military officials have sought to play down the strategic value of the operation, saying that it was solely intended to take out a malfunctioning satellite with a tank of toxic rocket fuel.
But the power and precision of the strike also provided a demonstration for North Korea and other potential adversaries that the United States has deployed a sea-based missile-defense system that can be adapted to multiple targets.
Addressing the diplomatic concerns, senior officials dismissed questions raised by the Chinese and Russians, and echoed by some arms-control analysts, about whether the episode was really a test of space weaponry. They pointed out that the missile used in the operation was designed to counter a limited ballistic missile attack and had to be completely reprogrammed for this unexpected task.
Hours after the missile was fired from the U.S. Navy cruiser Lake Erie positioned in the Pacific Ocean, officials at the Pentagon showed footage of a fireball created when the missile struck the satellite and expressed "high confidence" that the fuel tank was destroyed.
I predict howling, lots and lots of howling..
Montana approves wolf hunting season
It's contingent on wolves being removed from the Endangered Species list, but it looks like that will happen next week. Environmental groups are challenging the delisting, arguing that the USFWS has ignored the "best available science". Can't argue with that, they've ignored the science ever since they introduced the northern gray wolves without knowing whether the wolves that were already in Yellowstone were a distinct species. Why expect them to change now?
Wednesday, February 20, 2008- - -
"I don't believe in hell, but ..."
That's okay Nick. You may not believe in the devil, but I'm sure he believes in you!
But don't wait for the photographs. Find a vantage point and gaze. Or howl. Or whatever one does for a total eclipse. Not howl. That's for the full moon.*'Course it's a full moon. Otherwise there wouldn't be an eclipse. That's kinda how it works.
Update: Okay, I suppose it does make me a "science nerd".
Update @ 9:30 CST: Yep, it's red alright. Pretty cool. Wish I had something better than a pair of 10x42 binocs to watch it with, but it's a beautifully clear night here in Midland/Odessa and a great view.
But now, not being quite so gullible as some, I do believe it will come back all by itself, so I'm going to go get toes up..
The sun sets on another winter in Terlingua
We didn't want to leave, and drug our feet as long as we could, but.. work. We packed it in and started heading north this morning, but not too fast. It's 90 degrees as we speak in Midland/Odessa where we're spending the night, while I just heard it's currently snowing in Amarillo, 250 miles north of here.
Called by the Obama machine..
Totally automated phone solicitations are illegal in Wyoming, but apparently that didn't stop the Obama campaign (who likely didn't know it was illegal). They must have been very busy if they only called for an hour, they left their long-winded message on my answering machine as well. Particularly annoying because it completely filled the little things memory and it didn't take any other calls until I'd erased that one.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008- - -
From a friend of my sister's who lives over in Kaycee, Wyoming (Outlaw Country!):
A girl from Wyoming and a girl from the east coast were seated side by side on an airplane. The girl from Wyoming, being friendly and all, said, "So, where ya from?"
The east coast girl said, "From a place where they know better than to use a preposition at the end of a sentence."
The girl from Wyoming, sat quietly for a few moments and then replied: "So, where ya from, bitch?"
Monday, February 18, 2008- - -
Too much politics..
I'm much annoyed by the way the elections are shaping up and I've spent plenty of time raging about that here. But my aggravation won't change anything except my blood pressure, so I'll try to lighten up a bit. I'll even post some photos of Big Bend, if I get the chance.
And speaking of light, Amarillo, TX, bills itself as "the helium capitol of the world", but it sounds like they'll be passing down that crown. According to this, a helium plant operated by ExxonMobil in Sublette County, Wyoming, produces about 25 percent of the world's supply. Meanwhile, they're building another plant, also in Sublette County, that will produce 200 million cubic feet per year. That's a lot of party balloons! The helium is a byproduct of natural gas, which we have in great abundance.
Sunday, February 17, 2008- - -
Judge orders new trial for death row inmate
This is disturbing in a couple of ways:
A federal judge has thrown out the conviction of a Wyoming inmate sentenced to die nearly a decade ago for the killing of a correctional officer during an escape attempt.On one hand, we have a vicious criminal who couldn't be more clearly guilty -- I don't think anyone would argue that someone else did the crime -- having his conviction overturned on a technicality. On the other, if the state public defender's office can't choke up the money to give a decent defense in a capital murder case, how many poor shlubs who've been wrongly accused of lesser crimes are sitting in prison because they pinched pennies? Do they get do-overs too?
U.S. District Judge Clarence Brimmer set aside the death sentence and ordered a new trial for James Martin Harlow, who'd been convicted of murdering Cpl. Wayne Martinez in 1997. Harlow was one of only two inmates on Wyoming's death row.
Brimmer found that Harlow's trial counsel failed to conduct a reasonable investigation into Harlow's background and character because of a "budget conscious head of the state public defender's office."
Drive a Prius, save a sasquatch?
Bill Quick pointed to a short bit at EckerNet that leads to an article on famed Nessie hunter Robert Rines. After 37 years he's hanging it up, fearing Nessie is dead, killed off by global warming.
As Bill points out, it's only appropriate that a fictional creature be killed off by a fictional crisis. The best was a comment at the DailyRecord though:
I fear unless we curb the warming soon, it may also claim the lives of Bigfoot and Elvis.
Saturday, February 16, 2008- - -
Too often true..
Richard Thompson on the life of the musician. (Okay, so I've got a strange sense of humor. At least I'm not alone!)
"Don't worship leaders. Let the mockery flow on."
Absolutely! Mockery is what most politicians justly deserve. But I wouldn't admit remembering Eisenhower..
The InstaPundit links this rather odd little bit of analysis on the Republican rift. The punchline:
Remember how Ricky Ricardo always used to say in that exasperated voice, “Lucy, you got some ‘splainin to to!” after one of Lucy’s wild escapades? If RINOs wish to woo conservatives back — conservatives needed if they want to retain the White House and win (or just hang onto) seats in November — they’d better think about not just ‘splainin, but keeping the lines of communication wide open. While pragmatists and moderate conservatives are busy looking ahead, too many party stalwarts are mad as hell, and they may not be ready to take any more.Perhaps if the Republicans want to woo conservatives (and the libertarian-leaning) back, they might consider not running RINOS. Why would any Republican want to vote for someone who is a Republican in name only (unless it really is a matter of 'party over principle')? Because they keep the lines of cummunication open? I mean. "Screw you, where ya gonna go? is communicating, but it's not exactly what we want to hear. And considering how very well the Repubs have been keeping their promises of late, I'm not sure a few more empty promises is going to do the trick either. Actions speak louder than words and by their actions I think they're telling us they aren't getting the message.
Things that make you say $%^#$%#@!!!
ABC News -- School shootings like the one at Northern Illinois University are usually linked to a mental disorder of the gunman, whose anger, social isolation or desire for attention bursts into violence, experts told the ABC News Law & Justice Unit.All this in an article entitled "What Were They Thinking? ABC News' Law & Justice Unit Examines The Psychology of Mass Violence in America's Schools". ABC News' web site lists no less than eight related articles, not including one entitled Who Was the Illinois School Shooter?
Some of those experts recommend that schools make mental health a criterion for admissions, while others say steps as simple as locking classroom doors go a long way toward safer schools. And while media coverage no doubt prompts some "copycat" incidents, the experts say news coverage also provides important information that can make prevention possible.
Why Do School Shootings Happen?
A mental health problem is often involved, experts said. The NIU gunman, for example, reportedly stopped taking medication for an unspecified disorder and was allegedly behaving erratically in recent weeks. An inordinate drive for attention can lead shooters to create a spectacle, to copy incidents like the Virginia Tech shooting, which drew enormous publicity, says Katherine Newman, a professor at Princeton University. Randomly shooting strangers is more about crafting a dangerous image than about the victims, she said.
How Can They Be Prevented?
Stephens recommended that colleges and selective high schools evaluate students on their mental health as well as their academic and athletic talent. He acknowledged the legal obstacles to doing so — a slew of privacy and anti-discrimination laws — but sees an analogy in how employers ask prospective employees to sign releases that allow background checks and examination of confidential information. Stephens said he believe it's a serious enough problem to change the laws, if necessary.
What Role Does the Media Play?
Certainly the media draw attention to the gunmen and to some extent encourage copycats, experts said. The media can make shootings seem like "business as usual," Newman noted, and extensive news coverage may explain why shootings "tend to come in clusters," added Hill Walker, co-director of the Institution on Violence and Destructive Behavior at the University of Oregon. But if the media didn't alert its audiences to mass shootings, the public wouldn't know how to look for and interpret the warning signs of a potential shooter, Newman said.
"It's just better if everyone is informed," Stephens said. [emphasis added]
What's so infuriating about this is the supremely self-serving conclusion that even though these shooters are seeking attention, and that media attention does provoke copy cat shootings, that "It's just better if everyone is informed". That's just lame beyond belief. It is possible to keep everyone informed without turning these things into media sensations.
In the mean time, they've got experts saying we should change the laws so schools can "make mental health a criterion for admissions". And do what? Refuse to admit anyone who's ever had any kind of mental health problem? That's probably what would happen in our modern risk-adverse and litigious society, because if the schools could consider their applicants' mental health they'd likely be held liable for admitting anyone who later flipped out and hurt anyone. Do we really want some Dr. Bonkus de facto denying people an education because of his pet theory on their future mental health?
I've got a better idea: Don't publish the shooters' cute high school photos. Don't do in-depth stories on their life histories. Don't do sensational stories that give the shooters the attention they crave and that they're currently getting in spades. If they treated school shootings as they do streakers at ball games we wouldn't have all the copy cats that they admit they know they are creating. They know they're a big part of the problem, but they also know that sensational stories bring viewers so they do it anyway. They're being knowingly irresponsible for the bucks.
Maybe it is time to change the law, but perhaps not the law they'd advocate. Of course, given the symbiotic relationship between the media and politicians there's a snowball's chance in hell that will happen. But it's even less likely that the media will police themselves. They know they're being bad, but apparently their ratings trump public safety.
Ps. [Sigh] I knew I shouldn't read the comments to the ABC article. There are a few good ones -- one points out that if mental health records were open to review fewer people would seek mental health treatment, a very good point -- but there are a bunch who think the answer is to ban guns (good luck with that), or investigate the shooters' parents, or give more kids more drugs for their mental problems, or less drugs for their mental problems, or impose higher moral standards on society, or... Not a single comment takes the media to task for giving the shooters the attention they crave. You don't suppose it's because we crave the sensation? I fear we're in for a lot more of this before people can see the solution staring them in the face.
Update: I should note that I'm not singling out ABC News. I'm sure that all the other media are also giving the shooter all the attention he craved, but I saw a version of this on ABC last night, which reminded me to post on this.
The whip! The whip!!
The cost of living in Jackson Hole must be going way up, Harrison Ford is back with another Indiana Jones movie.
Friday, February 15, 2008- - -
Felony graffiti with aggravated bad spelling?
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) -- The House Judiciary Committee is considering a bill that would make graffiti a felony punishable by at least a one year jail sentence. Hopefully they'll do something about their handwriting as well. After all, if you're going to spray paint something on a wall shouldn't people be able to read it?
Thursday, February 14, 2008- - -
What's that buzz?
Oh! Texas Ban on Sex Toy Sales Is Overturned!
HT: Protein Wisdom
DenverPost -- Dry-winter forecasts were flat wrong this year for much of Colorado and the Southwest, and weather experts say they're struggling to understand why the snow just keeps falling.Humbling? Not so you'd notice it. Most "experts" agree that they can predict the weather a century or more in advance when it comes to anthropogenic global warming, despite frequent reminders that we don't have sufficient understanding of the earth's extremely complex climate to predict the weather more than a few days ahead with any certainty. Beyond that they're really operating on a crude form of Uniformitarianism which assumes that if we had a dry year last year it will be dry again this year. That sort of Uniformitarianism is broadly useful -- I can predict that it will be warmer in the summer than in the winter because it almost always is -- but it doesn't work so well for tracing long-term trends. It's not so certain that if it was warmer this summer than last it will be warmer next summer than this. But really that sort of extrapolation is what a good deal of the AGW histrionics are based upon.
Some forecasters blame climate change, and others point to the simple vicissitudes of weather. Regardless, almost everyone called for a dry-to-normal winter in Colorado and the Southwest — but today, the state's mountains are piled so thick with snow that state reservoirs could fill and floods could be widespread this spring.
"The polar jet stream has been on steroids. We don't understand this. It's pushing our limits, and it's humbling," said Klaus Wolter, a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Ps. Of course, one cold, snowy winter doesn't mean that the earth isn't generally warming. That does appear to have been the trend for the last 30 or so years. But it's one thing to document the trend as it occurs and quite another to extrapolate that trend into the future.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008- - -
They're not evil, they're just wrong
The InstaPundit sent me over to listen to Penn Jillette explain why Hillary is toast, but I missed that clip (making breakfast) and caught this one instead. Jillette is talking about liberals and their tendency to think that those who disagree with them aren't just wrong, they're evil. Now that's a pretty good characterization, but it cuts both ways and certainly applies just as well to the Republican party-liners who are telling us that 'a Democrat in the Whitehouse will mean Teh Deluge'.
Somewhere along the line we lost the concept of "the loyal opposition" and opened the door to this poisonous, viciously partisan political rhetoric that demonizes any opposition or even slight disagreement. I don't think that's a good thing. At the very least it creates an environment where many people don't dare express disagreement for fear of being considered a political apostate and that's completely contrary to the whole concept of free speech and open dialog.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008- - -
Strippers, prostitutes, and phone-sex operators!
Oh my! In closing the InstaPundit goes nakedly partisan: "I'll just note that to Tennessee fans, there's nothing in this story about Duke that is surprising..."
I had scrambled eggs for breakfast..
To go with my scrambled headlines. An article captioned Taxes, smoking ban, dogfighting top non-budget agenda in the Casper Star never mentions taxes, smoking, or dogfighting. Instead, it's a duplicate of this article on the legislature's budget session. There's a reason a newspaper only costs 50 cents I suppose.
The Democrats aren't democratic?
Heheh.. ... Ayee! Harsanyi is right though. At least for those of us inclined to call a pox on both their houses it is rather entertaining to watch the Dems being hoist on their own identity politics petard while the Republican party faithful, having long abandoned any pretense of principle, argue to hold the party line even if that means voting for someone who's pretty much indistinguishable from the Democrats' candidates policy-wise. I suppose they might peel off some old George Wallace Democrats come fall.
And the real fun won't even start until the race for the general election begins.
Ps. Of course, if the Republicans are trying to move toward the middle it could be because things like this indicate there's a lot of 'middle' to move into.
Monday, February 11, 2008- - -
Pick your poison..
An interesting OpEd by Kathleen Parker in the DenverPost:
Kamikaze Republicans — those who say they'll never vote for John McCain because he isn't conservative enough — may get what they deserve.She's right of course. There's a big difference between the Clintons and McCain. The Clintons want to raise taxes and socialize health care. McCain wants to raise taxes and restrict your right to political free speech. The Republicans in congress will fight the Clintons' progressive moves on illegal immigration and environmentalism tooth and nail. the Republicans in congress will bite their tongues and support McCain's progressive moves on illegal immigration and environmentalism. The Clintons are poison with an antidote. McCain is poison with a chaser.
It isn't necessary to love everything McCain has done to vote for him should he be the nominee. But it isn't possible to argue that there's no difference between McCain and Clinton (or Barack Obama), as some Republicans insist.
A form of irrational conservatism has taken hold when being true to oneself or to the party is viewed as more important than, say, turning over the country to people who want to raise taxes and impose socialized health care. Principles shouldn't be so inflexible that strict adherence elevates a worse alternative.
British athletes must agree to avoid protests, gestures
What if they held an Olympics and no one came?
Sunday, February 10, 2008- - -
Red hair and black leather, my favorite colour scheme..
HST would have approved.
Ps. Great minds think alike? Or maybe it's just a small musical world. Just popped over to the Fretboard Journal Blog to learn that Richard Thompson will be interviewed for the cover story of the Spring 2008 issue. I'll be looking forward to that. And while we're on the topic, here's another by Thompson -- Beeswing -- that I like a lot (I'll have to learn to play that one). Look closely at the bridge of his guitar in the intro to the song and you'll see that it's split, something I've never seen before. I'm hoping they'll discuss that in the interview. I'm wondering whether it has anything to do with his rather unique right hand technique.
Update: For a little change of pace, here's the Del McCoury Band performing '52 Vincent, which gives me a chuckle if only because I doubt they see many of those in Tennessee. According to Thompson's web site, this version became the International Bluegrass Music Association's 2002 Song of the Year.
It's a Sunday triple-header!
Yes, with the Wyoming State legislative budget session beginning Monday, we've got three articles on state spending in today's Casper Star (1, 2, 3). With the price of oil & gas going through the roof, the state has been rolling -- sometimes literally -- in cash. Sen. President John Schiffer, R-Kaycee, sums it up nicely: "We've gotten used to spending a lot of money, because we've had a lot of money," says he.
Wyoming's bountiful mineral wealth has put billions of extra dollars at the disposal of Gov. Dave Freudenthal and the state Legislature -- and both have shown a willingness to spend it.As we say in Wyoming "Let'r Buck!"
The state's general operating budget swelled from about $1.48 billion during the 2001-02 budget period to more than $3.58 billion in 2007-08.
That's a 140 percent increase in eight years, or an average annual increase of roughly 17.25 percent.
The number of full- and part-time state employees, meanwhile, has increased by about 1,000 since 2001 to more than 8,000 state workers.
Much of the increased spending has been directed to one-time capital construction or maintenance that was put off during the preceding bust years. But millions more have been spent on new programs, and “budget creep,” a term used to describe the inevitable increase in government spending over time.
But all good things come to an end, and mineral revenues are leveling off. This is when things get interesting, as you can bet that there's a bunch of folks who've enjoyed wallowing in all that dough and won't back off from the trough without a good deal of squealing. I predict that before this legislative session is over there will be a good deal of talk about how to raise non-mineral revenues. Tax increases of all kinds will be explored.
Of course, while the money has been rolling into the state it's been rolling out just as fast. Note the photo caption in the first article I linked above, particularly the bit about how the drywaller working on the rehabilitation of the state Supreme Court building in Cheyenne is with a company from Fort Collins, Colo. Yep, there are no drywallers in Wyoming. No highway construction crews, and definitely no economic and business consultants (that last may even be true!). So who are they going to tax? All the new Wyoming businesses that have been created during the boom?
All the Colorado businesses have taken their money and gone home, they're out of reach. The mineral companies are taxed on their production and if production stalls so will state mineral revenues. Certainly plenty of Wyomingites have benefited from the boom, but mostly in the mineral industries, so we'll feel the pinch too if minerals extraction tails off. But you can bet that just about the time we're all feeling the pinch our state government will start talking about putting the bite on us so they won't have to feel any pinch.
Fortunately, the legislature did mostly resist the urge to dip into the permanent mineral trust fund -- dipping into savings while earnings were soaring was a bit too much to be swallowed, even though plenty wanted to do it -- so there's some cushion, but you can also bet that there will be plenty of calls to spend the rainy day funds at the first sighting of a black cloud on the horizon.
Ah well, it's certainly going to be an interesting few years, especially for our legislators. Wyomingites can get belligerent as hell when anyone starts talking about raising taxes, while all those new state employees aren't going to want to hear talk of lay-offs. Time to take off the party hats and put away the punch bowl boys, 'cause it's time to start cleaning up the mess and the hangover is going to be a bitch.
Ps. I actually feel a bit sorry for some of our legislators. They're about to learn a hard lesson: Everybody's your friend when you're a big spender, but now some of their bestest buddies are going to stop taking their calls. Nobody will want to take them out to dinner or play a round of golf. They'll pretty soon learn what it's like to be last year's starlette who's gotten a little to drunk and a little too fat.
Saturday, February 09, 2008- - -
Crop-based biofuels are bad for the environment? Gee, where have you heard that before?
The Clintons are nothing if not lucky, and Hillary must occasionally be enjoying a luxury-length cackle at the thought of being pitted against a 71-year old "maverick" whose record seems designed to antagonize just enough of the base into staying home on election day.And just in case his record wasn't enough to do the job, his supporters have been busy antagonizing just about everyone.
"Fred Thompson Backs McCain"
No it's not in The Onion, it's in the Washington Post. Clearly, it's something they're putting in the water that has them all addled.
Ps. As one of the WaPo commenters notes, "This doesn't make me more likely to vote for McCain, it just makes even me more disappointed in Fred."
Fry flinging foiled!
And now the whole world knows about this fiendish plot. Good thing there wasn't intentional flatulence involved, they'd have been forced to call in the SWAT team.
Friday, February 08, 2008- - -
Things that make you say Hmmm..
An interesting article about Russian revanchism in the NY Sun. I'm not sure how much credence we should put in analysis by someone who doesn't know what NATO stands for though.
Is it a race to the bottom?
Or an outright death spiral? Whatever. Mitt Romney has dropped out of the Republican race, leaving McCain, Huckabee, and Paul. Thus, there's no longer a Republican candidate I'd even consider holding my nose to vote for. That's just pathetic.
Now that's a pot hole!
I-25 is closed again near the 58th Avenue exit in north Denver.
The northbound lanes erupted with water at the 58th Avenue exit about 3 p.m. Thursday when a 5-foot concrete conduit gave way, spilling more than 2 million gallons and opening a 40-by-40-foot sinkhole 16 feet deep.Yowza! They had some sort of problem in this same area back in September that had them working night and day and had the north-bound lane shut down to one lane, but that's not mentioned in the article and it apparently wasn't a water line failure.
Your tax dollars at work!
For yet another sage grouse study. Who knows? perhaps if they keep at it eventually they'll figure out what has caused the decline in sage grouse populations. Unfortunately, most of these studies don't ask the open-ended question "What is causing sage grouse populations to decline?" Instead they ask "How is development affecting sage grouse populations?"
I don't know what percentage of Wyoming's surface area hosts oil, gas, and mining activities, but it's only a very small percentage of our vast sea of sagebrush. It's quite possible that intensive energy development affects sage grouse in those areas, but that doesn't explain why the grouse are disappearing elsewhere. And, given the number of times I've seen grouse dusting in the middle of a well access road, I'm not convinced that oil & gas development bothers them much at all. As this article notes, they're chiken-like birds. They're not terribly bright nor particularly wary and elusive.
We have thousands and thousands of square miles untouched by development of any kind that would seem to be perfect habitat for sage grouse. I've hunted many of those areas in the past when the grouse were thick. So what is affecting them? I can only speculate, but I'd guess it's the population boom of raptors and particularly ravens. Ravens definitely do rob other birds' nests and a half-dozen ravens could wipe out an entire sage grouse nesting area in short order.
Ah well, it would be nice if someone would do an unbiased study and figure out what's happening to the sage grouse, rather than doing yet another study designed to beat energy development over the head. But I won't hold my breath until that happens.
Wednesday, February 06, 2008- - -
Now, more than ever.
(Yes, I've been steamed about this all day.)
That ol' Republican Plantation..
The InstaPundit quotes Bill Whittle speaking more in sorrow than in anger to those Republicans who would refuse to support John McCain, or worse, would support a Democrat for president:
After seven years of watching and fighting against Americans who wish to see the country suffer so that they can get at George Bush, the last thing I wanted or expected to see was conservatives saying they would rather see the country suffer than support John McCain over Clinton or Obama, so that they can "get the blame."Sigh. The InstaPundit goes on to opine "I really don't understand the Kossack-like anger here." Presumably referring to those who abhor McCain. But, isn't suggesting that a Democratic victory will bring Teh Deluge just a bit over the top as well? Somehow, I don't see the Republican Party as the only thing that stands between me and Armageddon. This is politics, not the Apocalypse. If you see a vote for Hillary as tantamount to a vote for the antiChrist I'd suggest you have the problem, not I.
A retreat before victory is assured in Iraq cannot be undone in 2012. And mandatory, single-payer, universal health care, once established, will not EVER go away either.
I am not impugning anyone's motives. I believe I have a reasonable understanding of principled behavior. But if your goal is to see the country punished because---
You can stop right there. If your goal is to see America punished, and her people open to attack and/or ruined financially in order to prove a point for any reason, then you do not deserve politial power nor are you likely to achieve it. A party is a compact. It is, essentially, a pleage of mutual support. As a matter of fact, it's nothing more or less than a promise.
A political party is a series of personal compromises in order to achieve a goal unattainable by the perfect political party: one's own self. If McCain is the legal and lawfully selected nominee, and Republicans decide to walk away from their party in droves, what makes them think they will be able to count on those who, you know, actually went out and voted Republican either joyfully or through clenched teeth, in order to prevent The Deluge? [emphasis added]
First, despite their rhetoric, I seriously doubt that either Hillary or Obama will pull the troops out of Iraq. If Iraq goes to hell Europe is screwed and they know it. Under a Democratic administration the Europeans might be forced to contribute more to Iraq's stability and reconstruction than they are now -- not a bad thing -- but they won't stand quietly by while the US pulls out and the Dems won't abandon their beloved and respected Euro-friends. It's not as if the Republicans have been pushing to do anything but talk about the greater sponsors of world-wide terror -- Iran and Saudi Arabia -- so at this point I see a Democrat in the Whitehouse as a wash in the GWOT.
Second, aside from foreign policy, McCain is barely distinguishable from Hillary and Obama. If a vote for the Democratic candidate is tantamount to 'punishing America' what does that say about a vote for McCain? Better our brand of punishment that their brand of punishment? And yes, let's talk about our pact with the Republican Party. That would be the "Contract with America". Remember that? Funny, once in power a hell of a bunch of Republicans forgot all about those promises of smaller, more efficient and less intrusive government and instead we got Republican big government in place of Democratic big government. But now it's those of us who won't support more of the same who are breaking the contract? Bite me. Please.
I don't want to punish America, I want to force the Republicans to fight big government and putting them in charge of the government obviously wasn't doing the trick. I'd rather have the Democrats in power with the Republicans sawing on the reins and hollering 'Whoa!' Than the Republicans in power with the Democrats putting the spurs to them and hollering 'YeeHaw!'
Update: Don't miss these two comments by Victor Davis Hanson and Andy McCarthy, also linked by the InstaPundit.
Tuesday, February 05, 2008- - -
A full-auto 12 gauge? Yeehaw!
Okay, this is pretty cool. I do see a few wee problems though: 1) That fin-stabilized grenade round arms itself 3 meters from the muzzle and has a blast radius of 9 meters. You won't even have to aim to shoot yourself in the foot with that. 2) 12 gauge ammo weighs over 1 oz per round -- it's relatively very heavy -- so sure, it will fire full auto, but not for long. 3) It's terribly sexy and I'm sure every SWAT team in America will have to have one or six, while it gives whole new meaning to the term "spray & pray". Still, for certain limited applications it could be very useful.
Saturday, February 02, 2008- - -
You don't say!
A new study suggests that global warming brings out the zombies.
Bill Gates losing his grip?
I first heard about Microsoft's bid to buy Yahoo last night on the TV news. The first thing that flashed into my mind was Bill Gates on water skis, jumping sharks. Of course, Microsoft and Yahoo were meant for each other -- they're both about equally lame. Neither has provided a product the customer wants, they've just provided a product that couldn't easily be avoided. In the process, Yahoo has demonstrated just how fast the customers will jump ship when something better comes along, a lesson Microsoft might want to take to heart.
Update: Ayee! Another article opines:
Even with these possibilities, analyst David Mitchell Smith, a vice president at Gartner Inc., believes the biggest change from a Microsoft-Yahoo deal probably will be the one most Web surfers don't notice. That will come as the companies try to broaden their ability to deliver ads all over the Internet, wherever it reaches.Oh, I suspect that with Microsoft's usual heavy-handed approach we'd certainly notice their ad delivery. It could well give in your face new meaning.
No detectable sense of humor..
Laramie police ticket 13-year-old girls for throwing french fries. Police say they wanted to send a message. I'm not sure the message they sent is the one they intended though. Perhaps next time the girls should try throwing 'freedom fries'.
And now for something a little different..
It's been cool and windy here in Terlingua the last couple of days, so yesterday we decided to drive over to Ojinaga, in Chihuahua, across the river from Presidio, TX. Had a great lunch, bought some plumbing fixtures, and picked up a bottle of sotol.
A type of mezcal, it's the state drink of Chihuahua. It's also impossible to find on this side of the border. I'd read about it in a couple of the books on local history and color and tried to find it in the local bars just to try a sip. No one had any and the general opinion was that I'd be better off just drinking gasoline -- at least the American-made is lead free! However, the bartender at La Kiva* told me that if I was determined to try it I could find it in the liquor stores in "OJ". Okaay..
I did. The liquor store down from the restaurant had several varieties, mostly in fancy bottles like spendy tequila, and some in small bottles clearly meant to hang on the wall next to your rubber tomahawk, specifically for the tourist trade. All of it a bit high priced. But while I was trying to decide, my wife -- the natural-born anthropologist -- was chatting up the owner/manager of the joint. When she told him what I was looking for he called over to the cashier and she pulled a plain glass bottle with a simple brown label out from under the counter. Sotol Coyame, the good stuff, says he. And it was $130 nuevo pesos, $13 US a liter, about half the price of the gasoline in the fancy bottles.
It's clear, with a faint green tinge. Hecho in Mexico and labeled strictly in Espanol, it's not for the export market. My Spanish isn't real good, but I think somewhere in the fine print it says "Keep out of reach of tourists". It does say it's 100% pure, undilluted, and double distilled.
Or perhaps they kept it under the counter because it's a particularly vile brand of rat poison. One never knows, so it was with some trepidation that I cracked the seal and poured myself a half-shot -- maybe I'd only go blind in one eye? -- when we got back to the shack. Well! First, it's only 38% alcohol (76 proof), not really hot by my Wild Turkey 101 standards, so I wasn't surprised that it doesn't have a serious burn. What did surprise me is that it's silky smooth, with a distinctive tequila-like taste, not surprising as it's made the same way. But it's also subtly different in a way I can't put my finger on without further testing.
And there will be further testing. Good, expensive stuff is available at every liquor store. So is nasty, cheap stuff. But good and cheap? That's pretty rare outside Australian cabernets. So far I've only tried the one half-shot, which I sipped and savored, as I've heard this stuff has the interesting quality of making you see stuff that's not there. That may be urban legend, but it might also explain its evil green glitter. It looks like it ought to be illegal and immoral. At any rate I was too tired after a long day to embark on such adventures, so I'll have an in-depth report at a later date.
*Aaaarghh! Yes, La Kiva is for sale. Glenn, the owner, notes that if you want to see the books you won't buy the place -- it's unlikely you'd ever make enough profit to pay the mortgage -- but if you have the cash and want to own the hands-down funkiest bar in America, well this is the place. And it's no kiddin' funky. It would fit right in at Mos Eisley. I mean that in a good way -- it's by far our favorite dive and about the only bar we ever frequent anymore -- but tourists have been known to walk through the swinging doors, look around wide-eyed, and back slowly out. It's definitely not TGI Fridays.
Friday, February 01, 2008- - -
Straight talk on making a buck
An excellent, excellent OpEd by David Harsanyi. Read the whole thing.
Things that make you say Hmmm..
Two articles today on sage grouse and energy development in Wyoming (1, 2). The punch line: "The best available science indicates that the current level of sage grouse protection implemented in oil and gas development is not enough to maintain the bird's population, according to wildlife biologists."
Okaaay.. But there's one wee problem. Sage grouse are becoming exceedingly rare even in areas where there's been no development of any kind. Whatever is affecting grouse populations, it's not primarily oil & gas development. I suspect that using sage grouse as a club against development says more about the biologists than it does about sage grouse*.
Of course their conclusion is technically correct: If oil & gas development isn't what's causing sage grouse declines, then certainly the current level of restrictions on development aren't going to be adequate to maintain the bird's population, because even totally banning development won't be adequate.
*I could be a bit biased here. After all, these are the same yahoos who want to make prairie dogs an endangered species. I've got to suspect they've got an agenda that goes beyond wildlife management.
Now this is a little different
They've nominated a Republican Party fundraiser and advocate of educational reform for president of the University of Colorado. That oughta have 'em quaking in their Birkenstocks.
Good for them!
CHEYENNE -- The memory of Louisiana police confiscating guns from waterlogged citizens in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina a few years ago has some Wyoming legislators anxious to make sure nothing similar ever happens here.You would think that our state constitution -- not to mention the US constitution -- would already forbid the confiscation of guns from law-abiding citizens, but perhaps this is the "And We Really, Really Mean It" addition. Whatever. It certainly can't hurt.
A bill would change Wyoming's Homeland Security laws to make sure that the governor and other officials wouldn't have authority to order the confiscation of guns from law-abiding citizens in the event of natural disasters or terrorist attacks.