Coyote n. A small wolf (Canis latrans) native to western North America.



The Old Coyote's alter ego is:

Anthony A. (Swen) Swenson

Mild-mannered archaeologist by day..

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Visits since May 20, 2002

A Coyote at the Dog Show

Saturday, May 31, 2008- - -  
French fries don't fly..
CHEYENNE -- A Laramie Junior High School girl cited by police in January for throwing french fries during lunchtime is out of hot water.

A municipal court judge on Tuesday dismissed the citation against the 13-year-old student for breaking a city ordinance that prohibits “hurling missiles,” court records show.

The charge -- an adult crime under city ordinance -- was dropped at the request of the Laramie city attorney, a court spokeswoman said.

Two other girls, including the daughter of school board chairwoman Sue Ibarra, were also cited under the same ordinance and paid $60 fines soon after the citations were filed, Laramie Police Chief Robert A. Deutsch said.

Deutsch said Friday he played no part in the decision to dismiss the case, but he can live with the outcome.

“I've been doing this for so long that I understand that we play one part in the criminal justice system,” he said. “If it gets dismissed we have to respect and appreciate that.”
Well, I'm glad the police chief can go on with life, despite knowing a vicious criminal stalks his streets. Earlier, I'd accused the Laramie police of having no detectable sense of humor. Now I see they're just mindless minions.

@3:36 AM

Tuesday, May 27, 2008- - -  
Things that make you say.. Don't be naive
VIENNA, Austria - Iran may be withholding information needed to establish whether it tried to make nuclear arms, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Monday in an unusually strongly worded report.
The big surprise would be if they weren't withholding information. So.. are the IAEA really that stupid, or do they think we're that stupid?

@4:00 AM

Probably a Pastaferian..
NEW YORK -- A man who was carrying a rusted pirate-style sword through Macy's flagship store in Manhattan is facing charges of criminal possession of a weapon.


He told police he was carrying the sword because he is a member of a kickball team whose players often wear pirate-themed costumes. He maintains he was on his way to a game when he was arrested.

@3:54 AM

Friday, May 23, 2008- - -  
Here's an idea..
While we're all frantically scrambling for ways to conserve, have you ever wondered how many millions of gallons of gasoline are wasted every year by vehicles idling at stop lights while absolutely no one goes through the intersection the other way? Seems to me that with modern technology we ought to be doing a better job of traffic control.

@9:25 PM

Things that make you say Hmmm..
Wasn't Jim Zumbo the Guns Editor for Outdoor Life? Why yes, I believe he was (1, 2, 3). Now do you really believe that Zumbo developed his elitist attitude toward guns in a vacuum?

So we should care what Outdoor Life has to say about gun rights because..??

Ps. Read the comments at Outdoor Life and you'll see that no one is buying their endorsement. Pretty lame.

@4:32 AM

If I don't make it to work today..
It will probably be because the Colorado River has washed out Interstate 70. The Colorado was coming over its banks yesterday afternoon when I drove from Rifle to GJ and several of the bridges on the interstate don't appear to be able to take the volume, so water is being diverted down the ditches and across low-lying areas that probably wouldn't be in the floodplain if it weren't for the damming effect of the highway.

Oh, and it's raining as we speak..

@4:00 AM

"Not in my back yard! [sigh]
Of course they want cheap and plentiful gasoline and heating fuel up in Jackson Hole, just like they want cheap, plentiful labor to clean their houses and wash their Hummers. They just don't want the energy to be extracted or refined in their back yards and they don't want the hired help living next door. And they for sure don't want a bunch of free-spending Halliburton hands eating in their restaurants and giving the waitresses the idea that they deserve more than a fifty-cent tip. They want the energy industry stocks in their portfolios to do very well, they just want those evil oil companies run out of business, or at least out of the neighborhood. Unfortunately, we're dealing with a lot of very wealthy people and money talks.

There's about as much chance of developing the oil & gas in the Wyoming Range as there is that a wind farm will be built off Cape Cod.

@3:23 AM

Thursday, May 22, 2008- - -  
Things that make you say.. It's supply and demand, dummy!
The experts aren't stumped, they're telling the WaPo why oil prices are going up and the WaPo dutifully tells us what they say. Sure it's complicated and each expert focuses on different parts of the problem, but it's mostly due to the fact that demand is increasing faster than supply. The only people who appear to be "stumped" by this work at the WaPo.

Incidentally, lowering the costs of exploration and refining in the US won't do much to reduce gas prices. Oil & gas prices are determined by the global market and the US simply can't produce enough additional oil and gas to drive the global commodity prices down. The days of $1 a gallon gasoline are gone and they ain't coming back. We can use our technological abilities to shift our energy demand to other sources though, and we can also conserve more. $4 a gallon gasoline at 15 mpg is the equivalent of $1 a gallon at 60 mpg from the consumer's point of view.

@7:32 PM

Oh Noes!
Reading this article about flooding in Baggs, I see that the National Guard was called out by "acting Wyoming governor Max Maxfield" (Wyoming's Secretary of State). I've been busy, but I've been following the news and I hadn't heard anything about the Gov going down. Governor Freudenthal is a great guy and I wouldn't want anything bad to happen to him, so I'm a bit concerned. Can't find a darn thing about him on the intertubes though.

@4:43 AM

Good grief!
Thank goodness we're on the sunny south end of the oil patch, where temps have been cracking 90 degrees. Seems that's not the case back home, where the campgrounds are still closed due to snow.

'Course, that snow has to melt at some point and then.. Well, they're heading for higher ground down in Baggs, where the National Guard is sandbagging along the Little Snake. Flooding? I'm hoping this means the ten-year drought is over.

The first place we looked to stay down in Meeker was a nice little RV park right along the White River. Fortunately, they were full because they had about 6 inches to go to be underwater yesterday morning. The Colorado is coming over its banks between "GJ"* and Rifle and every little mountain creek is running like it hasn't for years. Only time will tell whether this is the end of the dry spell we've had, but at the least it's a welcome reprieve. So I don't want to hear any whining about basements full of water. You knew that land was cheap because it was on the floodplain..

*We wondered what they were talking about until it occurred to me that "Grand Junction" is a bit of a mouth-full for folks in a hurry. And they are in a hurry. It's bumper-to-bumper traffic leaving town every morning around 5:15, as all those big white trucks head out for the oil field. And it trickles down. I saw a motel maid driving a Mercedes yesterday. Not a new Mercedes, but a nice Mercedes.

@4:00 AM

Tuesday, May 20, 2008- - -  
Just clinging to our flags and our guns and our religion..
CasperStar -- Seven Wyoming counties were among the top 50 rural counties in terms of 2006 average personal income.

That's according to an analysis by the Web site The analysis was based on data from the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The ranking of all rural counties in U.S. was headed by Teton County, with average personal income of $103,852.

Several energy boom counties made the list. Sublette County was ranked 13th at $49,077, followed by Sheridan County at 19th with $44,468, Sweetwater County at 21st with $43,463 and Campbell County at 24th with $42,538.

Washakie County ranked 37th with $39,082, and Weston County was 42nd at $38,749.
Did I mention that there are only 23 counties in Wyoming?

@4:30 AM

Monday, May 19, 2008- - -  
"There goes the neighborhood!
Aaarrgh! Let's be clear about something here: PDs are rodents, they breed like rabbits (which aren't rodents, incidentally). You could bankrupt yourself shooting them and not make a dent in the population, so these folks aren't doing any harm. But when you put stuff like this on YouTube you're not doing anything good for the publics' perception of gun owners.

@4:45 AM

Thank you! Thank You!!
See?! $4 a gallon gas isn't all bad. Around here we heap all the money in the middle of the floor, strip naked, and roll in it!


Okay, just kidding. I think they're understating the increased cost of living. As they note, everyone is forced into longer commutes to get those big bux. But everything we buy has to be shipped in and we share the truckers' pain every time we hit the checkout. Also, when the carpenters and plumbers and electricians and auto mechanics are making more money, it means we have higher bills for construction and rent, and home and vehicle maintenance. Food and clothes cost more, sometimes a lot more. From out here it looks a lot more like an episode of hyperinflation than a big financial boost.

Ps. Not everyone is ahead of the power curve on this. The women and kids and the elderly living on fixed incomes are hurting.*

@4:14 AM

Sunday, May 18, 2008- - -  
"Big government didn't disappear," he says. "It simply moved to the suburbs."
An interesting OpEd on political empire-building in small towns.

@4:46 AM

Okay, math isn't their strong suit*
"Larry McGarvin of Ten Sleep in Washakie County said his property taxes went from $800 to $1,200 per year over the past two years, a 125 percent increase."
Yep, we too live in Washakie County and our property taxes have also increased by 50% in the last couple years. They're right though; people are pretty ticked off.

Ps. Here's a second article on property taxes in Wyoming that's correct to note that property taxes in Wyoming are still relatively low. If the cost of new construction is any indication, assessed values of existing homes are also quite a bit on the low side. I'm not so sure that knowing what your neighbor's house sold for would be much help, unless it's an identical unit sold at the same time. Even then it's more likely you'd just be ticked off at learning that your neighbor drives a harder bargain than you. Property taxes aren't based on what you paid for the place anyway, they're based on the current assessed value of the property.

Still, it would be nice to know how the County Assessor arrives at the assessed value of any given property. I'm guessing it involves a Ouiji board, because they're not physically inspecting homes.

@3:44 AM

Things that make you say.. Eh, what?
Here's a very interesting but strangely garbled article on the dilemma facing farmers as the demand for ethanol and the world-wide food shortage increase demand for their products. The article is generally quite good, but the author is a bit confused regarding the habitat requirements of ducks and geese.

Think about it. When you see ducks and geese feeding, are they out in the grasslands somewhere? Well, no. They're usually in a corn field. Or a wheat field. Or barley. Many other species of wildlife are critically dependent on undisturbed grassland for habitat, but ducks and geese aren't among them. On the other hand, when farmers drain wetlands to create more tillable land they are impacting critical duck and goose nesting habitat.

Don't get me wrong. The article states that Ducks Unlimited wants to protect as much grassland as possible and I don't doubt that, but I suspect that it falls under the broader goal of protecting wildlife habitat in general and protecting the watershed, rather than being an effort to protect habitat specifically for ducks.

Whatever. Other than exposing himself as a city boy who's never set up a spread of goose deeks in a corn field, it's a good article.

@2:53 AM

Saturday, May 17, 2008- - -  
Okay, here's the scoop..
I've noted some recent criticism of our foot-dragging out here in the oil & gas fields of SW Wyoming, NW, Colorado, and NE Utah. We're currently in Grand Junction, Colorado, on the southern margin of the oil patch, having pretty well circumnavigated the region in the last couple of weeks. The motels are full, the RV parks are full, several of the oil companies have established man camps, and Halliburton has even built their own, very nice hotel up in Pinedale, Wyo. People are living in pup tents in Baggs. Poor bastards. Every single business in the area has a Help Wanted "Top Pay!" sign. If you need a job, by all means come on out! But bring yer tent 'cause there's no place to live.

The boom and bust economy of the oil field is hard on the local communities, who are pressed to provide accommodation for work crews that often outnumber the local population. It's hard on the banks and housing developers, who don't know if the boom is going to go bust before or after the hotels and motels and tract homes they're building are ready to live in*. It's hard on the police, hard on the schools, hard on the roads, terribly hard on all the local infrastructure. And, overdone, it's hard on the environment, the wildlife, the air quality, everything is effected.

And now we're being asked to start oil shale extraction on top of everything else. Frankly, I don't know how we could be any more balls-to-the-wall than we are right now, but I've a feeling I'm going to find out.

*They just keep telling themselves "This isn't a boom, it's "sustained growth"". Ya, riight, we've heard this before. More than once.

Ps. Then there are those who have never forgiven Lincoln for freeing the slaves..

@3:33 AM

Friday, May 16, 2008- - -  
Don't listen to what they say..
Watch what they do! Never was it more important to remember that than when reading John McCain's speech to the NRA. Here's what Gun Owners of America has to say about McCain. They give him a well-deserved F- on gun rights issues, right down there with Hillary and O'bama.

@6:45 PM

Not so fast there, Bucky!
No, not everyone who's concerned with the pace of energy extraction activities in the Rockies is "on the Saudi payroll".
WASHINGTON -- The dispute over how quickly to allow oil shale development on Western public lands flared Thursday on Capitol Hill, where a Colorado senator just introduced legislation to slow the process.

Starkly different views on whether to speed or delay federal regulations allowing development of the potential new energy source in Wyoming, Colorado and Utah emerged at a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Several senators, an Interior Department official and energy executives advocated for regulations to be finalized quickly in order to provide certainty for companies pursuing the energy source. But other senators, the governor of Colorado and an environmental activist said too little is known about the water and energy needs and environmental effects of development.
Some of us live out here and aren't particularly interested in trashing our little bit of paradise to save the folks in California a few cents on the gas for their daily 180-mile commute into the city.

As I've recently noted, the environmental and economic consequences of oil shale extraction aren't all immediately apparent. There's considerable disagreement out here in the Rocky Mountain west about just how fast we should be moving on energy development and I'd guess most of us are pretty much opposed to the "do something even if it's wrong" approach so popular with government-driven solutions.

There's also a silver lining in this cloud. High gas prices are driving folks to economize and that's not a bad thing. The folks in the photo above might be going a bit too far, pulling a tiny home-made trailer behind their SmartCar (spotted at Western Hills RV Park in Rawlins, Wyo), but it's sure taking the SUV's and giant pickups out of the daily commute.

@6:07 AM

Wednesday, May 14, 2008- - -  
Wouldn't you be embarrassed to be seen driving around in a used Lamborghini?

@4:26 PM

Things that make you say.. U'oh
LANDER -- People who eat animals killed with lead bullets need to be concerned about lead poisoning, according to a conservation organization working to convince game hunters to switch to copper ammunition.

Opponents, however, argue that the group's agenda -- to get the lead out of commercial ammo -- rather than hard science, is the driving force behind the results of a recent study. Participating scientists say it provides proof that lead-based ammunition poses health risks not only for animals, but for people.


The study sampled 30 whitetail deer shot near Sheridan with lead-core, copper-jacketed bullets, fired from a high-powered rifle. Each of the 30 carcasses was taken to a different commercial meat processor throughout the state for standard preparation of ground meat and boneless steaks in 2-pound packages, according to Susan Whaley, spokeswoman with the Peregrine Fund.

X-rays of the 30 deer showed "widespread dispersal of lead fragments" ranging from "smaller than a grain of table salt to as large as a sesame seed," Whaley wrote in a prepared statement.

"There was at least one lead particle in 24 of 30 deer killed, in the processed meat, so 80 percent of the deer actually produced lead in the processed meat," said Grainger Hunt, a biologist with the Peregrine Fund.
I think the hunter advocacy groups are correct to be wary of those with agendas who wish to save us from ourselves. Still, I've certainly picked a lot of shreds of lead out of carcasses while I'm cutting them up and I've crunched the occasional birdshot between my teeth, so I have no doubt that X-rays of carcasses find bits of lead. "Retained weight" is a common statistic cited in tests of hunting bullets, and very few bullets retain 100% of their original weight after expanding in an animal. Where do you suppose the rest of the bullet's weight goes, hmm?

Perhaps the moral of the story is to avoid using the super-zapper magnums that tend to vaporize bullets on impact or, if you simply must wring that last 100 fps out of your rifle, use Barnes X's, Winchester Failsafes, or some such -- the 'copper bullets' mentioned in the article -- that retain their weight and don't spray lead as they expand. I think it's also a good idea to process your own game meat so that you examine every bit of it as it's being cut and wrapped. Even quite small bits of lead leave a visible wound channel and it's a darn good idea to track down those bits and make sure you get rid of them. The commercial meat cutter simply doesn't have the time to give this degree of care to each animal he processes and he's not feeding it to his family.

Update -- Doug Sundseth writes:
If you are iron-deficient, eating a few bolts is a poor remedy. Similarly, eating bullets won't raise your blood lead levels much. (The bioavailability of metallic lead is quite a bit lower than that of lead salts and (particularly) organic lead compounds.)

The reason I know anything about this is that the issue arose in the context of lead-alloy miniature figurines (toy soldiers and the like) about a decade ago. The state of NY tried to make a case based on using a masticating machine to chew miniatures for days at a time, but the resulting lead uptake was less significant than that from breathing or drinking water. FWIW, this finding is corroborated by the fact that workers casting lead for those figurines (whose blood was tested monthly, IIRC) showed no elevation of blood levels of lead. According to one of people involved in the case, the judge was not amused.

"Lower", however, is different from "zero", so I wouldn't recommend a light* snack of sinkers. 8-)

For more information than you'd probably want on lead exposure, see this document: Link

Note that lead uptake rises with decreasing particle size, with particles smaller than .2 mm apparently posing a particular risk. Anyone with any concept of how surface area rises with decreasing particle size would be shocked by a different finding, of course, though it sounds like smaller particles are also more likely to hang around in the GI tract than larger particles.

* Yes, I know, but I couldn't resist.
And I replied:
I've frequently observed that lead uptake in calibers over .33 also tends to be fatal :P

Thanks for writing on this. I've often wondered if those stories of waterfowl being killed by ingesting lead shot were true, most of the evidence back then appeared to be anecdotal. Whatever. I spent most of my young life rolling around on the floor in an indoor range, where everything was probably coated with lead dust. Didn't hurt me a bit!
Then again, y'all might be better judges of how much I've been affected by a constant diet of lead.

I suppose I should point out this from the article I linked above:
Lead poisoning has been linked to learning disabilities, behavioral problems and, at very high levels, seizures, coma and death. There is no safe level of lead in blood.
Still, I could be the poster child for consumption of lead shreds from game animals, and from constant exposure at the range and casting bullets, and I've shown no noticeable ill effects other than a bad tendency to lead with my face.

@7:54 AM

Monday, May 12, 2008- - -  
Good of someone to notice..

CODY -- The greater Yellowstone ecosystem, often identified as “one of the last best places,” is at risk of being loved to death, according to a National Geographic study.

Efforts are under way to stem that tide and educate the public about responsible tourism and development in the state through a "Geotourism MapGuide" project.

The ecosystem -- one of the largest intact on earth in one of the fastest growing regions in the country -- faces serious threats to water and air quality, flora, fauna, and open spaces. It has increasingly become a popular place to live and play, and with the influx of residents and recreationists come a bevy of complex issues.
'Course short of building a fence around the area and putting up "Keep Out" signs there's not much we can do about the number of people visiting and moving into the Greater Yellowstone area. Encouraging people to tread lightly is always a good idea, but with over 3 million people visiting Yellowstone each year even the lightest tread has cumulative impacts. Frankly though, it isn't the tourists that are causing most of the problems, it's the tourists who decide to stay and build a summer home. On a 40-acre ranchette.

Fortunately, this mob are mostly 'tree house environmentalists' ("Okay, I'm in, pull up the ladder!") who fight quite hard to keep anyone else from moving in once they've got their rustic McMansion built. They tend to be somewhat self-limiting, if only in driving up the price of land and construction to the point where 'the billionaires are running the millionaires out of Jackson'.

I've already suggested one solution to the problem:
Perhaps the solution would be to point out that there are thousands of square miles of wilderness that aren't congressionally designated. Spreading the herd over a wider area would reduce impact. On the other hand, I rather enjoy being able to hike into an area where no one has been in months, on trails so faint they're a challenge to find. In a way, I view the designated wilderness areas, like parks, as sacrifice areas for the riffraff to go so they'll stay away from the truly untrammeled areas that haven't been 'discovered'.
On second thought, I think I'll just keep my mouth shut..

@5:48 AM

Saturday, May 10, 2008- - -  
Things that make you say Hmmm..
Wyoming's new Senator, John Barrasso, has sponsored a federal bill to declare the headwaters of the Snake River in Wyoming "wild and scenic", a measure that was supposedly being pushed by Senator Craig Thomas before he died in office a few months back. I'm not sure why they wanted this. The headwaters of the Snake certainly are wild and terribly scenic, but we in Wyoming generally try to keep the feds at arms length whenever possible, especially when it comes to the land and resources of the State of Wyoming.

At any rate, the Idaho Water Users Association has come out against the bill for fear that historic water rights could be impinged in eastern Idaho. I must be missing something. Declaring the Wyoming headwaters officially Wild and Scenic will preclude ever building any dams on the river in Wyoming, thus letting Idaho have all the water that comes downstream. Go figure.

@6:44 AM

Totally awsome!
On our way to the ball game last Thursday the sister-in-law wanted to stop and pick up a copy of the New York Times at the Tattered Cover bookstore, on the 16th Street Mall just southwest of the ball park. We had a parking pass to the main lot at the ball field, but the lot wasn't open when we arrived in Denver around 10 am, so I wheeled on down to the mall, finding a parking spot at the corner of 17th and Wazee.

Walking down Wazee toward the Mall we passed Rockmount Ranch Wear and had to stop and oggle their window display of vintage-style western shirts, which are just too incredibly kool. We made short work of the Tattered Cover and then I insisted that we stop in and take a look at the rest of Rockmount's offerings.

Well, best-laid plans and all that, I never got a chance to look around the store because the moment I walked through the door I was greeted with "where are you folks from?" From an elderly gentleman behind a desk just to the left of the front door. Yes, it was 107-year-old Jack "Papa" Weil, "... believed to be the oldest working CEO in the US ..." For the next half-hour or so while the wife & S-I-L shopped I chatted with Mr. Weil, who's just a complete delight. Sharp as a tack and he doesn't look a day over 90!

Next time you're in Denver do stop in and take a look at the store, if you can get by Papa Jack. But do hurry, he says he might not be there much longer, although I'm thinking he's got a few more good years in him!

Ps. Here's a bit more on the history of Rockmount. It seems they pretty much invented high fashion western wear.

@5:28 AM

Friday, May 09, 2008- - -  
Mmmm, Mmmm, good!
Finally wrapped my lips around a shot of Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey at the Flying Dog after the ball game Thursday. Very nice stuff. It's very similar to Wild Turkey 101 both in general taste and in it's 94 proof high test bite. That's a good thing in my book as Turkey 101 is my favorite of the workaday American whiskeys. They're only making it in small batches and it's new on the market, so it is a bit expensive and has been hard to find (The Flying Dog is next door to their corporate headquarters, a good place to start looking). At any rate, it is quite good, give it a try when you get a chance.

@7:53 PM

Thursday, May 08, 2008- - -  
We are not surprised..
TOKYO - Toyota's profit for the January-March quarter sank 28 percent from the previous year as a strengthening yen and lagging North American sales chipped away at the Japanese automaker's earnings.
But apparently in this case that would be a royal "we". I've observed for some time that Toyota's marketing strategy seems to be to 'out Big' the American car makers. Yes, they make the Prius and Camry, but they also make some amazingly huge behemoths.

Tramping around the mezanine at Coors Field yesterday we saw a good example. They're running a promotion. You'd think they'd be promoting their Prius, Camry, or something else people can afford to put gas in. Instead they were featuring an SUV that makes the Chevy Suburban look like a rollerskate. 13 MPG city mileage. I can understand why people aren't lining up to buy those.

@6:48 AM

Tuesday, May 06, 2008- - -  
Good shootin' Tex!
RIVERDALE, Utah (AP) -- The police chief who shot himself in the ankle was waving a loaded pistol and being careless, according to two students who were attending his class to qualify for a concealed-weapons permit. "We were told the gun is the chief's personal sidearm, but it looked to me like he didn't know anything about the gun," Lewis Walker said.
Once again proving that only the police are well enough trained to be trusted with guns..

@7:13 PM

I've predicted that the demand for biofuels would cause more land to be put under the plow. Here's US News to confirm my fears.

@6:58 PM

Well then! That's settled
The latest out of the Bouldah adverse possession case. These folks aren't doing much for the publics' perception of lawyers..

@7:18 AM

Things that make you say Hmmm..
The InstaPundit links to an interesting article on oil production in the Bakken Fm.:
The Bakken shale formation in North Dakota holds up to 167 billion barrels of oil but only about 1 percent of it can be recovered using current technology, a new North Dakota state Department of Mineral Resources study says.
The big prize will go to the firm that patents the technology to squeeze out a higher percentage. I'd bet there are teams of chemists and geologists and engineers working on that as we speak.

@5:50 AM

"Violent crime" rises in Casper
A bit later in this article we're told:
Total violent crimes, classified as rapes, murders, robberies and aggravated assaults, rose to 153 last year from 130 in 2006. That equates to a one-year increase of 17.7 percent.

The majority of the violence, Pagel said, comes from disputes between intoxicated people, rather than criminal acts committed against strangers.

"Much of the violent crime is assaultive behavior between two or more people who have been drinking," he said. "That's the vast majority. It's not an unknown person."
Good thing the patrons usually break these things up without calling the police or we'd have a real crime wave..

Ps. Bear in mind that Casper has a population of about 50,000 with a high percentage of young oilfield workers. And the police were only called to 150ish bar fights all year? Kids nowadays.

@5:19 AM

David Harsanyi
Brilliant as usual.

@5:04 AM

Monday, May 05, 2008- - -  
Is nothing sacred?
A brief post at the Fretboard Journal Blog takes you to a short article about a guy who's been charged with selling counterfeit guitars. Not nearly enough information for me, so I did some googling and found this much longer article on the issue. Seems that with the advent of CNC machining our friends in China are flooding the market with cheap knockoffs of high dollar guitars. Along with every other darn thing.

In a way this makes me feel better. I was in a music store awhile back [not saying where, I don't want to be accused of libeling anyone] and they had a Gibson Super Jumbo accoustic hanging on the wall. $2700 bucks. Had to take a look at that. Well, I'm no guitar expert, but I've seen my share of Gibsons and other high-end guitars and my first reaction to this thing was 'my god, what's happened to Gibson?' They've had their problems over the years, but this thing was just plain crude. The construction, fit, finish, and setup were what I'd expect of a $129 CostCo guitar, nowhere near usual Gibson quality. At least now I can comfort myself in thinking that it probably wasn't a genuine Gibson.

If this is an example of the knockoffs being sold though it should be easy enough for most folks to recognize them. CNC machining will only get you so far. You've also got to use top quality materials and you've got to do some very exacting hand work, and that's where this thing fell down.

Caveat emptor indeed.

@6:58 PM

I read this in the DenverPost dead tree edition at the MIL's last evening (the SIL is coming to visit and we didn't have anything better to do this week so we're in Colorado). Seems Shell Oil is buying up water rights from farmers and ranchers in order to acquire enough water for oil shale extraction. [They need water to extract oil shale? Who knew?]

Problem is, this diverts water from agriculture to petroleum extraction, just another way we've found of growing less food. I remarked on this to the Mother-in-law and she tells me that the cities on the Front Range in Colorado are also buying up water rights to provide water for their municipalities. That explains why so many of the farms out this way are sitting fallow.

Something tells me no good will come of this.

@5:30 AM

Stick to your guns!
An excellent and quite detailed article on gun rights v. gun control in yesterday's DenverPost. I could find something to quibble with here and there, but this is one of the very few discussions of the topic I've ever seen in the MSM that even attempts to acknowledge that we pro-gunners just might have a few reasonable arguments for owning guns. They do overstate the anti-gun case a bit too credulously, and underplay the pro-gun case at a few points, but at least they're trying.

I do have to chuckle though. The author states that "... national surveys consistently show 75 percent to 80 percent public support for much tougher gun laws ..." Yet their own accompanying poll suggests that only 15% support tougher laws while 60% think the laws are already too strict. Public opinion may not be quite in line with what their anti-gun friends have told them. I wonder what they'll make of that?

Ps. Perhaps the surest sign of the author's underlying prejudice is this:
In fact, permit seekers spend much of their mandatory class time learning how to avoid actually using a gun — a paradox that mirrors the contradictions and illusions dominating modern gun regulation in Colorado and across the nation.
A paradox? Only if you thought that most gun owners were just waiting for the excuse to shoot someone. I would certainly hope that any concealed carry/self defense class would focus on avoiding the conflict. We certainly don't want to be training a bunch of folks who just want to hit the streets looking for trouble.

In a way though you've got to give the author extra kudos for trying to see the other side. That doesn't happen very often.

@4:59 AM

Friday, May 02, 2008- - -  
City planning, ca. 1870
Way back when the Union Pacific built the first transcontinental railroad through Wyoming they needed coal and abundant supplies were found in the Rock Springs area. Shafts were sunk every which way and several small towns grew up around the mines, eventually conglomerating into the greater Rock Springs Metropolitan Area [cough]. Problem is, many of the shafts run under the town, and some are none to deep. Back when we lived there in the mid-1980's friends of ours had their living room fall into a big hole that opened up in their back yard one night. They were glad it wasn't the bedroom, but it was kinda tough on the house.

This wasn't an uncommon event and several schemes have been tried over the years to deal with the problem. Unfortunately, every time they'd start messing with the old mines the mines would just start caving in faster. I figure their latest "ground pounding" scheme was just a bow to the inevitable: 'If it's gonna cave in, let's just hasten the process and get it over with'.

Whatever. The struggle goes on and the moral of the story is, don't mine under the house!

Ps. You'd think that would be Rule #1, but it's commonly violated. My own dear grandpa operated a "wagon mine" to provide coal for us and a few neighbors, in the process running a shaft under our barn & corral (and heaven knows where else, there's no map of the digs). As a kid I went out to feed the horses one morning and found a 3-foot diameter hole in the ground in the middle of the corral, and the horses all standing way over in the corner looking alarmed. Oops! I forget how many dump trucks full of gravel it took to fill in the hole, but I do remember the refrain through the whole business was 'what was gramps thinking?'

@7:31 AM

Things that make you say.. You're Kidding Me, Riight??
No community in Wyoming has more practical experience with affordable housing issues than Jackson.

How to make homes available to middle-income workers has been on the agenda since long before the state's most recent energy boom. Jackson Hole is blessed with majestic mountains, world-class skiing and great fly fishing, which makes the area an easy sell, if not an inexpensive one.
Must be why most of the folks I know who work in Jackson Hole live over the pass in Driggs, Idaho, and commute. It's true that affordable housing has been a recognized problem there for a long while and the folks over that way have floated one scheme after another to do something about it. But when you're living in a neighborhood of $2 million resort homes you really, really don't want somebody throwing up some eight-plexes or a trailer court across the street (can't blame them, it would affect their property values). So everyone in Jackson wants affordable housing for the workers, they just don't want it anywhere near them.

I guess what I'm saying is that if I were director of the Jackson Hole Community Housing Trust I'd probably not start talking big until I had some actual results to show. And good luck with that.

@6:38 AM

Thursday, May 01, 2008- - -  
The InstaPundit links to a very interesting article by Nick Bostrom in Technology Review. Only one problem, Bostrom relies on the fallacy of argumentum ad ignorantiam (perhaps best expressed here as "argument by lack of imagination"*) at several points to support his case. The author begins with the fallacy that what we can not observe, or he imagine, must not exist and on that very shaky foundation builds a house of cards that any archaeologist could be proud of! (Note that the only evidence to support his "Great Filter" keeping all intelligent life down on the farm is that our neighbors aren't gnarfling the garthak as we speak. I mean! If they're not visiting us how intelligent could those ETs be, eh?)

I'd argue that the universe could be teaming with intelligent life that routinely traverses interstellar distances, and might be visiting us right now, but we may be no better equipped to comprehend that life than a paramecium is to note our scientific achievements (other than in the trivial sense of dying when we give it a good dose of antibiotics). Conversely, they may be no more inclined to start a conversation with us than we would be to strike up a chat with a pigeon in the park, which conversation the pigeon wouldn't comprehend even if we tried, eh?

Sometimes I think the best argument in favor of intelligent life in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.

* Sadly, Nick Bostrom is the director of the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford, a job that ought to require quite an active imagination.

@8:56 AM

Frankly, my dear, he doesn't give a damn..
One of the more amusing aspects of the wolf reintroduction effort:
LANDER -- Wyoming is receiving a great deal of scorn from wolf advocates throughout the United States, and even overseas, but state officials said Wednesday that most of the non-local critics don't have their facts straight about the state's wolf management plan.


Gov. Dave Freudenthal's office received more than 800 phone calls Tuesday and Wednesday from members and supporters of Defenders of Wildlife, a Washington, D.C.-based conservation organization. The group urged people via mailings and through its Web site to call and ask the governor to get rid of "the shoot-on-sight policy that is now in effect for nearly 90 percent of the state."

What Defenders of Wildlife calls "talking points," the governor's office calls a "script." And those answering the phones in the State Capitol heard the wording repeated about 85 times an hour Tuesday, and 25 times an hour Wednesday, according to Cara Eastwood, the governor's press secretary.


The governor's office had received almost 850 of these "scripted" calls as of 3 p.m. Wednesday, but only a handful came from Wyomingites, Eastwood said -- two on Tuesday and two or three Wednesday.

Eastwood spent a good portion of her morning helping answer the calls, she said, and she talked to people from Oklahoma, New Hampshire, Chicago and Minnesota, among other places. But the majority of the calls she answered came from California and New York.

"The governor will get a report on every single person who has called, but our constituents are in Wyoming, so he's most concerned about what local people have to say," Eastwood said. "Frankly, the views of people calling from New York or California may vary quite a bit from somebody calling from Dubois. And the concerns of people in this state weigh more heavily than the concerns of people calling from New York and California."

@7:56 AM

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