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



The Old Coyote's alter ego is:

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Friday, March 31, 2006- - -  
Things that make you go Hmmmm..
Here's a fascinating series of totally coincidental events:

The committee searching for a new president for the University of Wyoming named two finalists, Joseph Chapman, 63, president of North Dakota State University in Fargo, and Loren Crabtree, 65, chancellor of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Tom Buchanan, who has acted as president since last July 1, was passed over.

Responding to a petition signed by more than 300 faculty members, the Board of Trustees added Tom Buchanan to the list of finalists.

Some of the UW Trustees say they didn't learn about the huggermuggery over big bonus payments until interim President Tom Buchanan alerted them in January.

This Sunday the bonus payments huggermuggery came to light, Monday one of the three applicants for the University President's position backed out, and then Tuesday another backed out. By Thursday the Trustees voted unanimously to keep Tom Buchanan on as president.

@7:48 AM

What? No scandal today?
And they've been on such a roll! I probably haven't been clear in my previous posts (1, 2, 3) about the nature of huggermugger as practiced out here in the wild, wild west. So perhaps it's time to take a deep breath and explain its delights. T.A. Larson goes into considerable detail on the historic underpinnings of the fine Art of Huggermuggery and, when properly applied a high art it is.

The key feature of huggermugger is that it's the sort of thing you most likely wouldn't get away with for long if done in the broad light of day. It leaves the public outraged but with little recourse when it eventually and almost inevitably comes to light. It causes laws to be written and rules to be drafted so 'it will never happen again'. It's a big, big reason why we have open meetings laws for our public officials to dodge. It's full employment for lawyers and legislatures. It's loophole-leaping and shadow-creeping, it's a fast one, a sharp piece of work, it's chicanery and skulduggery, it's underhanded and unscrupuluous, devious and tricky, but it's not quite illegal and slightly less than unethical, although it's often immoral and usually fattening for its practitioners. It leaves the public spinning and the scoundrel grinning, and quite free to do it again, elsewhere.

Besides, huggermugger is just a great word, isn't it?

@6:09 AM

Thursday, March 30, 2006- - -  
Ah! Those good ol' secret meetings!
More on the huggermugger* in Laramie. Sometimes these things turn out to be nothing, or only a brief embarrassment, but when new revelations come to light every day and those involved start pointing fingers at each other and distancing themselves, it starts looking like a gen-u-ine scandal. Today some folks are telling us they were never aware of the bonuses being paid to UW officials, while others are maintaining that it was all approved years ago in one of their secret meetings. You know, the meetings there are no records of? Obviously anyone who didn't know what was going on wasn't paying attention in the secret meetings! One thing appears sure: None of this was made public until well after the fact. If not outright illegal, that's extremely unseemly.

It also bears remembering that the last time our public officials were caught with their fingers in the cookie jar it was John Reardon and his buddies at the Wyoming Business Council giving themselves bonuses, the money was very small taters compared to this (Reardon gave himself a $35,000 bonus, a far cry from Dubois' cool half mil), and ultimately the volume of public outrage forced Reardon to resign, even though the WBC didn't try to conceal their bonuses and there was no hint of illegality in their actions, just an infuriating degree of petty greed.

I think what the folks in Laramie have the most to fear is that the rest of our state bureaucracy doesn't want this to start raising questions about them; like how many more of our public employees are having secret meetings to give themselves raises, or pay themselves bonuses, or give their cronies no-bid contracts that we've never heard about? The tried and true way for the rest of the state officials to cover their butts is to start lopping heads, make a bloody but brief show of it, and then hope it all blows over before the stench gets so bad that people start demanding broad audits. Audits that Gov. Freudenthal seems more than willing to approve and that keep raising uncomfortable questions, like what ever happened to that $25 million bucks?

*Previous posts on the latest huggermuggery: 1, 2

Update: More questions. Sunday the bonus payments huggermuggery came to light, Monday one of the three applicants for the University President's position backed out, and then Tuesday another backed out. Now it seems to me that they may simply have come to their senses: Why would the President of North Dakota State University or the Chancellor of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville want to come to little 'ol UW? On the other hand, the timing of their retreat certainly seems suspicious. I couldn't blame either one if they wouldn't touch the job with a ten-foot pole at this point. University Trustee Tom Spicer certainly has one thing right, this whole mess is a disaster for the University -- or an on-going train wreck. It's not at all clear that all the cars have yet crashed into the heap.

@6:33 AM

Wednesday, March 29, 2006- - -  
Okay, one more time..
Via Reason's Hit & Run, we learn that some folks have a really hard time with the concept of "Prisoners of War".

WaPo -- In a letter delivered to the court late yesterday, a lawyer for the retired officers cited news reports of Scalia's March 8 remarks to an audience at the University of Freiburg in Switzerland. Scalia reportedly said it was "crazy" to suggest that combatants captured fighting the United States should receive a "full jury trial," and dismissed suggestions that the Geneva Conventions might apply to detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
In the comments at Hit & Run Dogzilla asks:
Wasn't Johnny Walker Lindh fighting overseas, not in uniform, against the US Army? Wasn't he tried in Federal Court? It seems to me the government has already established the precedent that, at least in some cases, they do [file charges against POWs].
I responded:
Indeed. There is nothing to preclude charging a prisoner of war with war crimes. Johnny Walker Lindh is a US citizen and was caught fighting against the US, that's usually called treason. Charging an individual with war crimes is a long way from arguing that every prisoner of war should be provided with a lawyer and charged with some crime. That argument would appear to be what Scalia is calling "crazy". Bonafide prisoners of war are just that, POWs not criminals, and are subject to being held until the end of hostilities or such time as negotiations between the combatants gain their release.

Granted, when dealing with combatants that aren't in uniform I can see a problem with sorting out the genuine combatants from those unfortunates who were just in the wrong place at the right time. On the other hand, being a combatant and being out of uniform is a war crime and is punishable by death. Somehow, I don't think the folks who argue that the civil rights of the prisoners at Gitmo are being violated really want that charge to be filed against them.
We'll see how far that flies with the Reason crowd, who are reliably, even unReasonably anti-war.

Update: If you were wondering just how silly it can get, a little way farther along at Hit & Run we have people arguing for extending habeas corpus rights to the Gitmo detainees. I certainly agree with the commentors who argue that there must be some mechanism for sorting out the innocents from the combatants and it's entirely possible that the mechanism is insufficient or has erred in some cases. However, extending habeas corpus rights to genuine POWs seems manifestly silly.

There is some hope for the Reasonoids though. At the time I published this there were 31 comments on the habeas issue and 42 comments on Scalia, compared to 114 comments on the issue of smutty bumber stickers. Write what you know, that's what I always say.

@6:23 PM

It's a small world
I was quite surprised to see a small side bar column [not on-line] in today's Casper Star about the International Bluegrass Music Museum's first Bill Monroe-style mandolin camp this September 8-10 in Owensboro, Kentucky. It sure would be fun. My wife's never been to Kentucky and it would be a chance for me to look up old friends.

Say! It looks like the camp is a rousing success, they've already scheduled a second session the following week on September 15-17. Unfortunately, that probably means two chances for me to miss it, we're usually busy as the devil in September. Sure is a pretty time of year in Kentucky though.

@4:51 PM

Sounds like the place has changed
The Lileks talks about dinner on Hennepin Avenue, where children color industriously and it's too early to have a drink at 5 pm. On the Hennepin Avenue I remember the color was generally a dude with a leopard skin hat and purple jacket whose job it seemed was to make change for the procession of women who stopped in briefly to see him. Must have been a different part of Hennepin Avenue. 'Course, if I recall correctly, they were busily tearing down most of that part of Hennepin Avenue and probably none too soon.

It was an education for the kid from North Dakota to walk into the Cowboy Bar on Hennepin. Oops, yup they were the kind of cowboys made so recently famous; not a lot of cowgirls in the place. I suppose next I'll find out that the Dinkytown Rathskeller is now a fern bar.

@4:15 PM

A freezer full of elk without firing a shot!
Hey, even I might get lucky. Seems the Wyoming Game & Fish is giving away 35 to 40 pound boxes of cut, wrapped and frozen elk meat accumulated during their brucellosis testing campaign. It doesn't say you've got to be a Wyoming resident, but I suspect it's required. Guess I know where I'll be on April 12th.

@7:35 AM

Tuesday, March 28, 2006- - -  
Sic 'em!
I don't know what's gotten into the Casper Star, but they're getting agressive. Today we have an editorial on the under-the-table bonuses at the U of Wyoming I wrote about a couple days ago. It does indeed seem that "Huggermugger" was the appropriate term, the editorial makes it clear that this whole business only came to light after the fact.

Yesterday's editorial took a swipe at the Wyoming Business Council (another of my pet peaves), including noting that the Council has spent most of their time and funds ingratiating themselves with all the local politicians. They even use the new Worland Community Center project as an example. That would be the old Middle School that was going to cost some -- I think -- $7 or $8 million dollars to remodel (don't quote me on that, I'm pulling the figures from deepest memory). The place needed a new roof, a new heating plant, and a bunch of new wiring and plumbing for starters. So it seemed wiser to build a new Middle School. That's been done.

Then, a couple years ago, someone got the bright idea that if we would only approve an optional 1 cent sales tax in the county, which would raise about $1 million per year for four years, why the old Middle School could be turned into a Community Center, including establishing a $1.8 million trust fund for its perpetual maintenance. Oops. Now it seems that 'costs have been much higher than anticipated' and they might need another 1 cent sales tax. They've also been unable to establish the trust fund that was promised in their informational brochure, passed out just before the first 1 cent tax went to the ballot. One of the tax proponents has actually been quoted in the Northern Wyoming Daily News as saying that they can't be held to any promises they made in the brocure because it was just put together to get people to vote for the tax. Sweet.

I've got to hope that all these folks mean well, both at the local level and in the Business Council, but blazing incompetence sure seems to be their strong suit. I've also got to wonder where all the 1 cent tax money has gone, because there's been precious little activity at the old Middle School (it's only a block up the street from here). Nor have I seen any accounting of what has been taken in and where it went.

Ultimately, even if they get another 1 cent sales tax approved -- doubtful after admitting they're not going to abide by their promises for the first cent -- and get the $1.4 million from the Council, they're still going to be considerably short of what it will take to fix up the old Middle School, if the original estimates were anywhere near close. What fun.

@10:15 AM

Well they got half a grip
LARAMIE-- Albany County Democrats rejected a platform plank calling for an impeachment investigation of President Bush after opponents argued Sunday that it would hurt the chances of Democratic candidates in Wyoming.

“The conversation at this point needs to be, ‘How do we win elections?’” Edward Janak argued. “And having this plank in our platform is not going to win anybody any election.”


By a vote of 23 to 16, the Democrats attending their county convention substituted for the impeachment plank language taking “offense at being lied to or misled by our president on the reasons” for going to war in Iraq.
Not going to help win any elections? That's what I said a couple days ago. Of course, some folks just can't quit while they're ahead. They're still wildly indignant about being lied to. To bad their ire is misdirected.

[Blogger appears to be at least partially stonkered this morning, so we'll see if this publishes..]

@7:51 AM

Sunday, March 26, 2006- - -  
And now for something just a bit different
Years ago my dad had an old Kay guitar that featured a Stromberg-Voisinet adjustable neck, a fascinating system and I was searching for information on how they were made when I found this guitar with a Howe-Orme adjustable neck joint, built for duty at the South Pole. There's no mention whether it can be played with mittens on, but it does look like you could change the strings so encumbered. I'm pretty sure I don't want to know who gave the guy a grant to spend three months at the South Pole composing music though.

@5:21 PM

Huggermugger on the range!*
I've got to hand it to the Casper Star, they've turned up some interesting stuff of late that the powers-that-be would probably have preferred not to have publicized. Now we hear about another batch of state employees paying themselves big bonuses for doing their jobs:
LARAMIE -- While the University of Wyoming raked in millions during its five-year capital campaign drive, UW's nonprofit fundraising partner was doling out big bucks to those in charge of the effort.

Former UW President Philip Dubois received $525,000 in “incentive” pay between 2001 and 2005, according to school records. The payments were in addition to his $230,000 annual salary and other benefits.

Vice President for University Advancement Ben Blalock took home $250,000 on top of his nearly $199,000 salary.
Half a million bucks sure beats an achievement award for your office wall. I suppose it's only fair that if you handle millions of dollars of the public's money a little of it falls in your pocket.. If we'd have only known, perhaps we could have taken up a collection to pay Dubois to leave the UW logo and colors alone.

One of the definitions of Huggermugger is "to act or confer stealthily." That this went on between 2001 and 2005 and we're just hearing about it now would seem to suggest that huggermugger is the appropriate, if mild, term. I think this quote pretty much says it all:
“When you look at the median income for the state of Wyoming is only $30,000, and somebody is being paid that amount?” [UW Trustee James Trosper of Fort Washakie] said. “The University of Wyoming is a public institution, and I don't think the people of Wyoming would approve that either.”
No kidding. I believe there's also something in the law about publishing the pay and compensation of public officials in Wyoming. I wonder if that was done in this case. According to the article, the UW Trustees must approve all compensation to university officers. However, it sounds like even the Trustees weren't aware of this deal, or at least hadn't voted to approve it until they voted to retroactively approve the payments this January. Of course, they did approve, with Trosper and Dr. Howard Willson of Thermopolis voting against the measure. I wonder what would have happened if the Trustees had refused approval?

*T.A. Larson's History of Wyoming has a chapter entitled "Huggermugger on the Range, 1898-1914", showing that this is an ancient tradition in Cowboy Country.

@9:35 AM

How very interesting..
There's been a lot of hubbub the past couple of days over the revelation that the Russians were slipping information on our war plans to Saddam's regime. But check out this bit from the Denver Post:
In addition to citing the Iraqi documents on the matter of Russian intelligence, the [Pentagon's] report also directly asserted that an intelligence link existed.

"Significantly, the regime was also receiving intelligence from the Russians that fed suspicions that the attack out of Kuwait was merely a diversion," the report's authors wrote.
I'd say that's significant: It has occurred to me that it was impossible to keep Saddam completely in the dark, given the big build-up leading to the war in Iraq. The next best thing? Why a massive dis-information campaign. "Pay no attention to the million troops massing on your southern border, it's a diversion."

This would seem to suggest that either a) the Russians were knowingly passing false info to Saddam's regime [which seems unlikely], or b) we were passing false info to the Russians knowing, or at least hoping they'd pass it on. Or, to be completely Machiavellian, c) we were passing different bits of false information to various folks we didn't trust to see what got passed on and what didn't, a tried and true method of smoking out traitors in your midst.

This is absolutely nothing new. In The Art of War Sun-tsu said:
Warfare is the Way (Tao) of deception. Thus, although you are capable, display incapability to them. When committed to employing your forces, feign inactivity. When your objective is nearby, make it appear as if distant; when far away, create the illusion of being nearby.
The good folks at the Pentagon have read this stuff. I'm not at all surprised we would employ deception as a weapon against Saddam. Also, whether or not we intended c) above, it will be interesting to trace the route by which this info got to the Russians and then to Saddam, no?

Update: You might think that bit from Sun-tsu was one of my favorite quotes, I've used it before (1, 2). In fact, the first time I used the quote it was to suggest that the build-up to the war in Iraq might be a diversion.

@6:43 AM

Plan? We don't need no stinkin' plan!
Got to love this bit from the LA Times' Ronald Brownstein on the resolution by Sen. Feingold asking the Senate to censure President Bush:
It's an understatement to say Feingold's proposal doesn't fit with his party's emerging election strategy. In a narrow sense, many Democrats would rather focus on Iraq than on the NSA surveillance, on which polls show Bush enjoys greater support.

On a broader level, Democratic leaders are drifting toward a midterm message that indicts Bush more on grounds of competence (on issues such as Iraq, Hurricane Katrina and prescription drugs) than ideology. It wasn't a coincidence when three senior Senate Democrats marked the third anniversary of the Iraq war last weekend by employing variations on the phrase "dangerous incompetence" to describe Bush's record there.

Such language is a tip-off that Democrats want Americans to cast their ballots this November looking backward, at the missteps and setbacks that have depressed Bush's approval ratings to anemic levels.

A focus on ideology, by contrast, inherently tilts the election forward: It asks voters to decide which side has a better plan to move ahead. Most Democratic leaders seem leery about that approach.
[Emphasis added.]
Gee, I wonder why?

@6:08 AM

Saturday, March 25, 2006- - -  
Someone help me!
The folks over at Lions Gate Studio* are missing a good bet. I stopped out at the Wringneck last evening, where I was confronted with perhaps the most terrifying sight known to man: A lawyer with a chainsaw.

*"Saw (Uncut Edition)"? They make this stuff look easy..

@9:04 AM

Reality Bites
It seems that [shouldn't it be 'former'] President Chirac stormed out of a European Union summit because a fellow Frenchman insisted on speaking English. The InstaPundit says Agnes Poirier is defending Chirac. But is she? Read a bit more:
"More seriously, for most French, the imperialism of the English language must be fought and will be fought to the bitter end. [This is the bit quoted by the InstantOne, but read on..] You must put yourself in their shoes. They like to think that French is the language of freedom and Enlightenment; a language that not only coexisted with but more importantly nurtured two centuries of political and social progress in the world. "Why has our language been adopted by the whole of Europe? Is it because of Louis XIV's conquests? Surely not, as vanquished people do not like to speak the victor's language. No sirs, it is the pleasure of reading French, of feeling and thinking like us that won them over. It is the genius, the order, the sublime, the grace, the light found in our books and within our writers which have made the French language triumphant." Nothing much has changed in the French psyche since Marivaux pronounced these words in front of the Académie Française in 1742 - except reality."
Two centuries of progress? Well yes, but as she infers those were the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. There's been quite a bit of wine spilled on the table cloth since then. She concludes:
"The French know (Jacques included) that the whole world will soon speak English, they will just be the last to bow."
No doubt. All my experience is with the Quebecois, who would rather shout at you in French than speak to you in a language you can understand. It appears Chirac would approve.

@6:34 AM

Friday, March 24, 2006- - -  
"Get a grip on yourself"
Victor Davis Hanson is also waxing historic today, although he goes a bit farther back than the Greatest Generation. His message to the whiny handwringers: "So stop it, and just get a grip on yourself."

My purpose in pointing out Hanson's comment is to note how nicely it dovetails with the recent push by the Albany County, Wyoming, Democratic Party to make debate over impeachment of President Bush a plank in the county Democratic Platform. In fact, in a letter to the editor today, Jason A. Lillegraven, a member of the platform committee, says it will be the first plank in their platform. In his interview with Hanson, Hugh Hewitt suggests that this sort of thing is "... reckless political behavior. It's over the edge political behavior." Hanson agrees and sums up his opinion of such: "They're not credible or serious thinkers at all."

I suppose there's always room to debate just about anything, but making Bush's impeachment a plank in a county-level platform in Wyoming seems particularly unserious. While some 70% of Wyoming's voters are Republicans, we've elected a Democratic governor who is, I think, doing a bang-up job. You would think the state's Democrats would see that as a tremendous victory and want to capitalize on it. Instead, in Albany County they want to impeach the Prez.

The U. of Wyoming is in Albany County and it's a relative hotbed of liberalism, so I'm sure they'll get a few 'amens' on their home turf. However, this isn't going to help get Democrats elected in Albany County, they were already going to get elected in Albany County. What it will do is make Democrats even less electible most places in the state. Considering that it can be nothing but symbolic, is it smart to make the first plank in your county platform something that Democrats most places in the state must repudiate to have any prayer of being elected? I don't know if I'd call it reckless, but it's certainly not terribly politically astute.

Update: They're not terribly bright either. Note the second reason given for impeachment:
That Bush has violated the Geneva Contentions [sic; snort] by detaining people captured in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq without formally charging them with crimes.
I've heard various versions of this accusation before, so perhaps I should point out that they're not being charged with any crime because they're prisoners of war, not criminals.

@2:14 PM

Things that make you go, Hmmm..
According to Glenn Reynolds, Daniel Ayalon, Israel's ambassador to the United States has made it clear that Israel regards the Iranian nuclear program as the world's problem, not Israel's problem. Reynolds goes on to opine that he doesn't think that the world can look to Israel to deal with Iran, nor should we blame the Israelis for taking that attitude.

I can certainly understand why Israel would prefer not to deal with the Iranian problem and I can't blame them. Still, the Israelis have got to know that Iran will likely test their first nuke in Tel Aviv. While nuts with nukes are certainly a problem for the world, these particular nuts are a particular problem for Israel. No denying that. On the other hand, while Israel might be capable of making an Osirak-type preemptive attack on Iran's nuke facilities, that would only be a temporary solution to the problem, as was the attack on the Osirak facilities. I'm wondering if 'taking this attitude' means they're pushing for a more permanent solution, whether that solution is fomenting internal revolt against the mullahs, or full-scale US intervention ala Iraq.

There too, if that's what they're after I can't say I blame them and, in fact, I would agree with them. Still, I can't believe that the Israelis will sit back and wait while Iran prepares their missile for launch.

Interesting times we live in.

@12:25 PM

If credibility were cash..
The New York Times would be spending it like a drunken sailor: Hugh Hewitt points to Editor & Publisher.

@8:08 AM

Just as we thought..
An interesting bit from Hugh Hewitt:
ABC News: Over the last 24 hours, ABC News has been reading hundreds of messages sent in by viewers in response to President Bush's claim that the media are undermining support for war in Iraq.

Viewer opinions ran the gamut, but the vast majority believed the media were biased in their Iraq coverage.


The latest national poll reveals that 31 percent of Americans believe the media make things in Iraq sound worse than they are.
A strangely mixed message. The vast majority think the media are biased, but only 31 percent think the press are biased toward making things sound worse than they are. This suggests that something close to 69% of Americans think things are as bad, or even worse than they are being portrayed. But consider this: The vast majority of Americans have no knowledge of what's going on in Iraq other than what they're told by the news media. If 69% think things are going badly in Iraq I'd suggest that's mostly a measure of the media's effectiveness in getting out their gloomy message. This sort of poll is like a pop quiz in school to see if you're learning what the teacher wants you to know.

@7:29 AM

"Isn't it uncivilized to attack on Christmas Eve?"
Via Hugh Hewitt: What if George Washington had press imbeds?

@6:49 AM


Mark Stein: "Put them aside, the America-haters, for a bit. And the argument of a lot of the mainstream of the Democratic Party is this passivity. Oh, we can't do this, and we can't do that, because something may go wrong, and it may not be easy, and this will happen, and that will happen. And we don't understand any of these strange, wacky foreign places anyway. That passivity will end freedom in the world. It won't end freedom in the world in America, it won't end it in Iowa and in Massachusetts tomorrow. But it will end it in a lot of the borderline jurisdictions around the world very quickly. You cannot be that feeble in the face of an existential threat."
Yes, I think he's got something here. It isn't the small minority of loons who truly hate America that annoy me, it's all the folks who wring their hands and say 'We can't do that! Somebody might get hurt! Why can't we all just get along?' These are the folks who ducked their heads and scurried by the learing bully in the schoolyard, still ducking and scurrying. I didn't duck and scurry very well, so I got the snot knocked out of me more than once, though in the process I made myself a lot less attractive to bullies. I still advocate standing up to bullies but I hear that's gone out of fashion.

I think this is what gives those codgers a claim to being "the greatest generation." Way back then it was generally understood that there are worse things than fighting, even worse than fighting when you think you might lose. Being afraid to fight for what you think is right is one of those worse things.

[H/T: InstaPundit]

@5:50 AM

Thursday, March 23, 2006- - -  
Someone asks the really interesting question.

@11:20 AM

The raven problem
A while back Three Collie reported that they've now got ravens hanging around their farm in upstate New York, although they haven't had any problems with them. Now I'm hearing that the ravens are becoming a problem around here. This was all news to me. From the Wyoming Briefs section of yesterday's Casper Star:
POWELL -- Grizzly bears, wolves, coyotes and mountain lions get most of the blame for killing young livestock, but Big Horn Basin ranchers say another critter needs adding to the list: ravens.

Allen Hogg, a rural Meeteetse rancher, said he has seen the large black birds descend on sick or injured calves. "They'll pick baby calves' eyes right out," he said. "They're brazen son-of-a-guns."

It's no different with sheep, said rural Powell producer Terry Messerli.

"Even ewes," he said. "They go down, and they'll get their eyes pecked out."

Once the pecking starts, young animals can be pecked to death.

Ken Beer of the Ragsdale Ranch near Meeteetse said he has lost a handful of calves to ravens, which are becoming more common in this part of the country.

Rod Krischke, state director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services agency, estimated that the West's raven population had increased 800 percent over the last several years.
There certainly are a lot of ravens about, and that alone may explain why they seem to be getting more agressive. I've spoken to a local woolgrower and he has seen ravens attack ewes on several occasions.

Incidentally, don't give those guys any guff about the whole Brokeback business, they're ready for you. says he: "Who'd have known? All these years we sheepherders could have been gettin' it on with each other? That would have saved a lot of irrigation boots."

@7:38 AM

Wednesday, March 22, 2006- - -  
Would those be "scare" quotes?
An interesting bit from "Berkeley in the Rockies":
BOULDER, Colo. (AP) -- To some, prairie dogs are an important native species. To others, they're vermin.

That difference of opinion has placed Boulder and Broomfield counties on opposite sides of a fence - a fence put up by volunteers Saturday.

The 2,400-foot, chicken-wire fence is intended to keep prairie dogs from leaving the Boulder side, where they are protected, for the Broomfield side, where they might be exterminated.


That's just fine by Jon Caldara, a Boulder resident who is president of The Independence Institute, a nonprofit think tank.

He called prairie dogs "rodents" and said it would be more cost-effective to shoot them.
Although I snipped that part, it's the nice folks in Boulder who are building the fence to keep their "rodents" in.

@12:37 PM

How odd..
MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Violent protests have driven away corporate investment in desperately needed municipal water systems in developing nations. So the world's poor buy bottled water from Coke, Pepsi and other multinational companies.

"Water is not for sale," demonstrators chanted at the World Water Forum this week. But they couldn't be more wrong -- private companies make much more money selling bottled water than they ever did developing public water systems. Companies also stand to benefit from a renewed push for big dams in the Third World.


Multinationals -- Pepsi, Cadbury, Nestle, Danone and Coca-Cola -- supply most of the bottled water in Mexico, now the world's second-largest consumer.
So let's get this straight: Violent protests are driving away foreign investment. The solution? Stage another protest. Also, despite the disapproving tone of the article, it's not clear why the companies selling bottled water are to blame for anything. Last I checked Coke and Pepsi weren't really in the municipal waterworks engineering business. As far as I can see, all they're doing is providing a necessity that can't be gotten any other way. Evil bastids!

@12:19 PM

I sure wish I could email today's (3/22/06) Mother Goose and Grimm to everyone in Worland.

@12:09 PM

Ewe betcha it snowed!
At last. Started around dawn of Saturday and snowed steady until mid-day on Sunday. Nice, heavy, wet stuff, and since there was no frost in the ground it soaked in nicely. It's all gone again now, but most all of it soaked in instead of evaporating or blowing away. I never heard how much we got, but I'd guess about 4 inches or the equivalent of half an inch of rain. I understand that it's the first real precipitation we've gotten since December, so it was sorely needed. I'd already watered the lawn and trees once it was so pitifully dry.

And it's positively lush here compared to Arizona and New Mexico. Drier than a popcorn fart down there the entire time we were there. Once we got there anyway, it always seems we have to drive down and back in the snow. This trip was no exception.

@10:29 AM

To paraphrase Sir Arthur Eddington:
Not only is the future stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine. But some folks have pretty good imaginations. I've just about finished An Army of Davids and I enjoyed it a great deal. there's nothing there that should be unfamiliar to regular readers of the InstantOne, but it pulls his thoughts on various matters together in one handy tome. Soon it will be off to the local library to calm at least a few fears of impending Walmart.

@8:43 AM

Those ever-optimistic anti-warriors
The anti-war crowd has been taking a beating if late for their unseemly gloating over each prediction of impending doom in Iraq. The InstaPundit has a rundown of failed predictions including the gem that "50,000 US troops and 10,000 UK troops (would) die at the gates of Baghdad." To paraphrase one of his correspondents they've been wrong so often, what makes you think they're right about their latest predictions of civil war? Something to remember when you hear that old drumbeat of doom.

I also absolutely loved this bit by Mary Katharine Ham, wherein Helen Thomas is quoted pretty much calling the Prez a liar to his face at his recent press conference. Bush told her she was flat wrong "in all due respect to your question and to you as a lifelong journalist" ... you don't suppose he was thinking "that is one long life"? I suppose it would be unseemly not to invite her in the future and she so brightens up the room.

Finally, Hugh Hewitt takes a few pot shots into the barrel o' fish that is the legacy media:
"The takeaway: MSM wants Bush to fail, and as a result MSM's coverage of Iraq tilts to the IEDs and the terrorist successes and never, ever provides the context that the president did in the press conference today. The MSM thus allows itself to be used by the terrorists, and thus to hamper victory. MSM doesn't believe in "victory," in fact, or in Saddam's unique evil. It believes, mostly, in the necessity of humbling Bush."
Update: And don't miss this bit by Hewitt, quoting E.J. Dionne moaning about the loss of a 'liberal republican'. Hmm.. Yes, Bill Quick had a comment on that as well:
"E.J. Dionne publicly admits what everybody knows anyway: the only sort of Republicans even mildly tolerable to the liberal journalists who comprise the vast majority of the MSM are Republicans In Name Only."
Perhaps we shouldn't think of it as the retirement of a politician, but rather as rhinoplasty for the body politic?

@6:31 AM

Things that make you go Hmmm..
I got a huge chuckle out of today's Day by Day (if you're late to this party, click on the little calendar to find March 22, 2006). I wonder if the punchline isn't a subtle reference to the Blue Press, which publishes a lot of "All-American pictures" along with their gun stuff.

I once ordered a couple of mags and a drop-in hammer and sear unit for my 1911 from them, winding up on the mailing list for their just barely work-safe catalog (and I suppose in this case whether it's "work-safe" depends a great deal on where you work). The post office will swear they never, ever look at anyone's mail, not even to flip through a catalog, but that one sure showed up with a lot of greasy fingerprints on it..

@5:57 AM

Silly Cop Jokes
My dad forwarded a joke featuring a lawyer and his new Jaguar, pretty funny, but I wanted to find out where it came from (You never know, maybe one of those WalMart flaks was at it again). I still don't know the original source, but I found a trove of "Cop Jokes" at Here's a fine example (and they do have the one featuring the Jaguar):
One night a police officer was staking out a particularly rowdy bar for possible DUI violations. At closing time, he saw a fellow stumble out of the bar, trip on the curb and try his keys on five different cars before he found his. The man sat in the front seat fumbling around with his keys for several minutes.

Meanwhile, all the other patrons left the bar and drove off. Finally he started his engine and began to pull away. The police officer was waiting for him. As soon as he pulled onto the street, the officer stopped him, read him his rights and administered the breathalyzer test to determine his blood-alcohol content. The results showed a reading of 0.0. The puzzled officer demanded to know how that could be. The driver replied, "Tonight I'm the designated decoy."
I suppose it might be best to put this one in the "Don't Give Them Any Ideas" file.

@4:28 AM

Tuesday, March 21, 2006- - -  
How soon we forget..
Today's Casper Star has an interesting editorial: According to them, 'we need to attract businesses and workers to Wyoming, and we particularly need greater diversity in our business community'! Yes, absolutely. They go on to say:
"We’ve talked about this issue before, and we’re going to keep talking about it until Wyoming leaders address it. The difficulties of pursuing economic diversification do not excuse Wyoming’s political and business leadership from this crucial goal.

"At present, Wyoming’s state strategy for attracting diverse jobs seems to consist of doling out money to local communities for infrastructure improvements. That’s a piece of the puzzle, but it’s not the whole picture. The other pieces include business recruitment, work force expansion, and housing development n not necessarily in that order."
But wait! our political and business leadership thought they had done something when they created the Wyoming Business Council, which oddly enough doesn't rate a mention in this editorial.

The Casper Star goes in to outline another part of the problem facing us:
"Attracting outside industries is a challenge in any state, and Wyoming is handicapped right now by a worker shortage n thanks to the soaring energy industry. Attracting workers to solve a labor shortage is a challenge of its own, and Wyoming is further handicapped by its housing supply."
But wait! didn't I write that the Wyoming Business Council has two kinds of Certified Economic Development Professionals on staff? They have (had?) Economic Development Finance Professionals and Housing Development Finance Professionals. Each certification program is (was?) a rigorous series of four courses, each five days in duration, so you can see that they have the very best on staff! And shouldn't those Housing Development Professionals be on top of this problem already? You'd think the problem would be well in hand, unless you google "Certified Economic Development Professionals". Do that and you'll get exactly twelve (yes, 12) hits, two of them leading right back to this blog. Apparently, what looked like a great idea back in February of 2002 didn't pan out too well.

Beginning to see where I'm going with this? We've been down this road before. People apparently demanded that our government and business leaders Do Something! And in response we got the Wyoming Business Council. The Council is still in existence but you'd never guess it from the results so far, or from the Casper Star's editorial. You might even guess that demanding that our politicians create more bureaucracy and throw more money at the problem isn't the right approach.

@1:40 PM

Monday, March 20, 2006- - -  
Happy Anniversary!!
Yep, two years of the Carnival of the Cats. All the Kitty Literati are out for the gala.

@7:12 PM

Dangerously Close to Blasphemy
Never being known for quitting while we're ahead, Cal and I decided we needed to capitalize on our region's new-found fame and his logo idea. Here's our nomination for next year's Washakie County license plate and my idea for a vanity tag:

@8:10 AM

Saturday, March 18, 2006- - -  
Calvin's suggestion for a trendier new Wyoming Bucking Horse logo:

@10:57 AM

Friday, March 17, 2006- - -  
My eyes! My eyes!
In honor of St. Paddy's day I thought I'd post a few selections from Irish Erotic Art. Unfortunately, Blogger is steadfastly refusing to publish photos. Fortunately, it appears that I've been stiffed, it's a blank book. I wonder if that's intentional?

Update: Hey! I'm entitled to poke a little fun, I am part Irish. Only a small part though.. Or at least my dad always blamed that on our Irish heritage.

@8:32 AM

To Arms! To Arms!
Lock up your wives and hide your children, WalMart is coming to Worland. From some of the rhetoric in the local news' Letters section, you'd think it was the second coming of the Huns. This is particularly amusing when some of the same folks who pushed so hard to raise taxes so they'd have a chunk of money to play with the big boys and maybe attract a couple of corporate welfare queens to our fair town are now saying 'Wait a minute! We didn't mean that kind of economic development! We wanted some new businesses in town that, you know, didn't compete with us!' Tsk.

I find Glenn Reynolds' take on WalMart interesting [Yes, I'm drinking the koolaid, damned good book BTW.]. He makes the point that when WalMart comes to town it forces the competing businesses to cut their prices, and/or increase the quality of their products and services. I'm sure this is a real bummer if you're a fat & happy local retailer, but there certainly appears to be an up-side for the local consumers. Another take I read somewhere recently noted that by saving the consumers money on basics like TP and underwear, WalMart leaves them with more money to spend on a dinner out, a nicer car, or that silk blouse at the local boutique. Thus, WalMart isn't necessarily the scourge of all the local businesses.

I suspect that WalMart is going to make things difficult for Washakie Wear, the "general merchandise" store downtown, which sells mostly cheap cloths -- like Levis 501s factory seconds for the price of factory firsts -- what a deal! As this is proposed to be a "Supercenter" I also suspect that the two local grocery stores will be hurting. But then you can buy an 18-pack of Butt Lite for two bucks less at the local bar than at their attached liquor stores. Comes off the same truck too. After comparing their prices to those I've seen at grocery stores in other Wyoming towns I'm afraid I'm a bit short on sympathy for 'em. On the bright side, none of the Walmarts in Wyoming sell liquor, so perhaps the local groceries can continue to exist off the profit from their liquor departments, Hmm?

On the other hand, I seriously doubt that Walmart is going to hurt the local Ace Hardware, which has a loyal and very helpful staff, and the best selection of stuff in the state, always in stock and at the best prices I've seen anywhere. And yes, I've searched all over the state for something more than once, only to find it at Ace here in Worland. Reynolds is right about quality goods and services, and some folks haven't waited until they were forced to ante up. I think they'll do fine.

Ah well, the next few months should be interesting -- the new WallyWorld is supposed to go into operation before Christmas. Maybe the locals who are so up in arms can bring in some homeless people?

@6:08 AM

@#$%@^ Blogger!
So much for photographs. I managed to post one photo of the walrus oosik below, but no more. If every man had one of those there'd be no wars. And if I had one right now I'd be tempted to use it on the baby techs at Blogger. At least I haven't lost my blog completely.. perhaps I should quit while I'm ahead.

@5:03 AM

Blogger has been even more neurotic than usual over the last couple of days and I really wanted to post this photo. Can't let the boys over at IMAO go on their baby seal hunt without the proper equipment.

Yes, it's a walrus oosik club, a 57 cm-long, 2-1/2 pound penis bone. Yet another reason to admire this magnificent pinniped, who apparently need never hang his head.

While the shape and size of these vary considerably, this one is very ergonomically shaped, with the small end curved much like a good hatchet's handle. It's well polished from long use -- what use we can only imagine by the stains on the heavy end.. This baby will put the hurtin' on even the most vicious baby seal. Never leave home without one!

@4:15 AM

Thursday, March 16, 2006- - -  
Sounds good to me!
Newsweek has a great review of Mike Compton and David Long's new CD Stomp, complete with Compton's discussion of each song. Well worth the read. I didn't know it was produced by mandolin great David Grisman; if he's involved it's got to be good. Besides, where else are you going to find a modern rendition of a tune by one of the Mississippi Mudsteppers?

I'm eagerly awaiting my copy, ordered direct from Compton. The pony express must be running a bit slow out of Tennessee.. Or perhaps he's swamped with orders. That would be nice.

Update: Pony Express delivers! And for only $1.11 postage for a small padded envelope with one CD in it. It is a bit annoying to think that the post office is probably making more money off this deal than the artists who made the recording. Such is life in these interesting times.

As advertised, the music draws heavily on old time mountain music, with considerable Celtic influence as well as overtones of blues and ragtime. It really is an excellent CD if you're at all interested in the roots of bluegrass and country music. Of course, being mandolin music it's not surprising that it also owes a lot to Bill Monroe's fast-picking style.

In the liner notes Mike Compton says: "This time in musical history holds a substantial romantic grip upon my senses and calls me to dig deeper into the past. There is evidence that Mr. Monroe was influenced by these sounds as well, so I do not feel that I have betrayed his efforts or my own." [Sigh] Sometimes I wonder where mandolin music would be today if so many of the major artists didn't feel compelled to imitate Monroe's style or apologize when they stray in the slightest; somewhat more diverse at the least. Compton and Long certainly have no need to apologize for this effort, it's outstanding and really captures the pre-bluegrass old-time mountain sound that I've heard on reproductions of many scratchy old recordings. Except without the scratchy, a nice touch.

@8:28 AM

Get'cher gun!
The InstaPundit links to Miss Kelly, who's seeking advice on buying shotguns for personal defense and clay bird sports. Very, very interesting comments and most are very good. I do take exception to Ryan, who recommends using buckshot and staying away from birdshot for self defense, as 'it's for shooting little tiny birds, remember that guy VP Cheney shot?' I certainly agree with using buckshot for defense, but remember that the VP was shooting quail, probably using #7-1/2 or #8 shot -- very small stuff -- and shooting a 28 gauge, which throws a much smaller load of shot than the 12 and 20 gauge guns normally chosen for home defense. Also, the accidental shooting was at a range of around 30 yards (don't quote me on that, but it was at some considerable distance).

At across the room distances an ounce of #8s from a 12 or 20 will make a hell of a mess out of someone. The shot hasn't had time to spread or lose velocity and it will hit as one solid, one ounce mass. Then the shot will spread through the body cavity making surgery just a bit difficult. Make no mistake about it, shotguns are very dangerous weapons and absolutely devastating at close range, no matter what they're loaded with. Yes, use buckshot, it will extend your effective range, but don't get careless thinking 'aw, it's just #8 shot, can't hurt anybody'!

That said, the advice to get a pump gun, Remington 870 or Mossberg 500 is very good. My current favorite is an 870 "Wingmaster" inherited from my father-in-law. With a 20" slug barrel, cylinder choke, and 8 round extended magazine it's a comfort when things go bump in the night. With a 26" light weight barrel and shorter, plugged magazine it's nice for upland birds and will work for skeet. Switch to a 30" barrel and it's good for waterfowl and trap. An 870 or 500 can be picked up used quite cheaply. Exra barrels are (whew! A bit more expensive than when I bought mine!) relatively inexpensive, as are extended magazines. If you're only going to buy one gun and want something versatile, this is the way to go.

Of course, why on earth would you only want one gun?

Update: Doug Sundseth writes:
"While I haven't followed your link to the article you're commenting on, I wanted to bring up another reason to stay away from buckshot.

If some part of your pattern misses the intruder and hits an internal wall, buckshot is much more likely to carry lethal energy through that wall and into unintended targets than (say) #8 shot. This isn't to say that #8 won't leave a pretty ugly hole in a wall too. But for the same reason that it's not especially lethal at 30', it's much less likely to be lethal through a wall (low sectional density, to be specific)."
Good point. At least in theory a load of light shot should behave much like a Glaser Safety Slug, although I haven't tried shooting through sheetrock. An idea for another great experiment!

@5:37 AM

Wednesday, March 15, 2006- - -  
Good news!
Wyoming does indeed have a "Brokeback"! Lanes's Meat & Sausage here in Worland is now offering "Brokeback Jerky".. Okay, let's not even go there.

@2:17 PM

Oh, those poor mistreated lads!
Yet another one for the "don't believe everything you read in the papers" file. I first saw this article in today's Casper Star, complete with the photo I've posted here (lifted from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, the Casper Star doesn't have the photos thing down yet). It appears that Israeli troops raided a Palestinian prison looking for PFLP leader Ahmed Saadat, who ordered the 2001 assassination of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi, as well as four other militants accused off carrying out the killing.
"The troops surrounded the prison for nearly 10 hours, smashing down walls with bulldozers, shooting tank shells at its walls and engaging in gun battles. Dozens of prisoners and Palestinian police were pulled out of the building in their underwear, searched and blindfolded by Israeli troops. Smoke poured from the scene."
Okay? Now take a look at those blindfolds. Funny, they don't cover anyone's eyes. In fact, they look a lot like the sort of head scarves that Palestinian militants are fond of wearing. I'd like to think that it's an innocent mistake on the part of the reporter, but it's also possible that 'Israeli solders holding Palestinian militants' doesn't quite hit the same note as 'Isreali troops holding blindfolded prisoners'. Remember this next time you read in the paper that Iraq is on the brink of civil war. It could just be an innocent mistake.

@12:28 PM

Monday, March 13, 2006- - -  
Go straight to Yale..
Do not pass Go, Do not collect $200.

The InstaPundit links three very interesting articles on the Yale Taliban flap. What gets me is this bit, noted by the Wall Street Journal:
"But Yale did have its reasons for admitting [former top Taliban official, Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi]. Richard Shaw, Yale's dean of admissions before he took the same post at Stanford last year, explained to the New York Times that Yale had lost another foreign student of the same caliber to Harvard and "I didn't want that to happen again."
I've heard this before. Who is this "foreign student of the same caliber" at Harvard? For some odd reason no one seems much interested in asking about that.

@6:55 AM

Saturday, March 11, 2006- - -  
Just slaves to fashion
"Mr. Wolfe offers a personal incident as evidence of "what a fashion liberalism is." A reporter for the New York Times called him up to ask why George W. Bush was apparently a great fan of the "Charlotte Simmons" book. "I just assumed it was the dazzling quality of the writing," he says. In the course of the reporting, however, it came out that Mr. Wolfe had voted for the Bush ticket. "The reaction among the people I move among was really interesting. It was as if I had raised my hand and said, 'Oh, by the way, I forgot to tell you, I'm a child molester.'" For the sheer hilarity, he took to wearing an American flag pin, "and it was as if I was holding up a cross to werewolves.""
I think the cross thing only worked with vampires, but I get the idea and it's just too true.

@8:01 AM

Cheap Thrills:
In which he admits a taste for lowbrow entertainment.

"Using the Internet is the modern form of knitting," says Tom Wolfe. "It's something to do with idle hands. When you knitted, though, you actually had something to show for it at the end."
One wonders what he would have made of my activities fall before last when we were trying to finish up a project in Rock Springs. The weather had turned nasty and we spent a lot of time sitting in the 5th wheel watching it snow, watching it melt, and waiting for the roads to dry up. Not yet having my mostly trusty Verizon EVDO card, blogging and the internet weren't an easy option, so I was down to re-reading all the gun rags and watching sports on the dish. Then one day while we visited the local bookstore to reload on reading material I browsed the discount computer games bin. There I met what could easily have been my Doom.

Yes, it was a $5.98 CD with the original, heavily pixelated Doom game. Less than a week later I was back for Doom 3 and busy stuffing my desktop machine with RAM and a 3D vid card. Crimony! My office chair is a regular secretarial chair with casters, which really helped when I was desperately ducking and dodging those spiders and imps. It's lamentably easy to keep at it 'til 4am when you know you don't have to work the next day.. Or even if you do have to work. Fortunately, after a few weeks we managed to finish up despite the nasty weather and, once we'd returned home, I had my more traditional pursuits to entertain me: Hunting, fishing, piddling at the workbench, etc.

Then last spring we headed out early to get a jump on a big job, and found ourselves again fighting the weather. And again, I passed the first couple of weeks fighting the forces of evil on Mars, but I found I couldn't fight the nagging feeling that I was about to spend hundreds of hours in a pursuit that would ultimately give little reward other than hairy eyeballs.

It was that realization that prompted me to break out ol' Maynard and get seriously back into homemade music. (Making my wife crazy was only secondary.) Spending my free time twanging on the mandolin and guitar pretty much put an end to Doom, which is just as well. I'm seriously not ready for primetime, but my playing has been improving satisfactorily and my appreciation of music and musicians has grown apace: One of those not nearly so easy as it looks things. The really good musicians are amazing. They're also few and far between, even in the circles of professional music. Yes, I'm still just killing time, but at least I have the illusion of doing something that has a long-term reward. And then..

We went to WalMart in Ft. Morgan, CO, to pick up a dozen rolls of hockey tickets (the dissolving kind made special for RVs) and various other small necessities. As I always do, I browsed the CDs looking for anything new or unusual, and also checked the DVDs -- we're a little curious about all the academy award winners we'd never heard of. There I found Doom the movie. Like a recovering alcoholic, I figured one little sip can't hurt, so I picked it up.

Okay, it's definitely not academy award material (yet, they seem to stoop lower every year). It's also not my usual movie, as I don't care for the 'slimy monsters leaping out of the dark' sort of film, but I was curious to see what they would make of Doom. It's pretty much what you would expect, a non-stop shoot-em-up, and not particularly faithful to the details of the game story line. The Rock ain't Hudson either. But they did have some great slimy monsters, tons of gore, and the good guy does prevail in the end. Unlike Firefly and Serenity I'm not rooting for a sequil and I wouldn't go see it at the theater, but it was a pretty darn entertaining way to kill a couple of hours. Look for it soon in a bargain bin near you.

@6:35 AM

Friday, March 10, 2006- - -  
Home again, Home again, Jiggety Jig!
And the sun sets on a great vacation (this photo is looking northeast toward the Sangre DeCristos from our campground on the south side of Santa Fe).

We blew into Worlando yesterday afternoon, two months to the day from the time we left. And I do mean 'blew', the wind, which rarely blows very hard in the center of the Bighorn Basin, was absolutely howling out of the south, so traveling north from Thermopolis we scooted right along.

We did have a moment of excitement when Dean Rassmussen's little dog ran across the road in front of us 6 miles south of town. I locked it up and had truck and trailer in an eight-wheel slide for a moment there. Thought that after 10,000 miles on the road we'd hit the ditch within sight of home.. That would have been embarrassing. But I missed the mutt and kept it on the road, so no harm done other than a few more gray hairs. Like I really needed them.

The house is still standing -- always a relief -- and somehow it always seems larger after living in the 5th wheel for a couple of months. Funny how something so huge on the outside (36 feet long) can be so small on the inside. Now we're wading through 75 pounds of mail, straightening up and sorting out and putting away.

Somehow we managed to bring home eight (8!) cases of nice wines that we accumulated on the trip, don't know if it will all fit in the wine racks, we might be forced to invite friends over to drink the surplus.. Some of this stuff is pretty puckery -- fresh from the winery -- and needs to be put down for a couple of years, but some is excellent. We discovered Trader Joe's French Market (house label) wines -- $3.50 for a 2004, 100% cabernet French import -- I thought it would be awful (French wines in general seem overpriced and over-hyped) but couldn't resist trying a bottle at that price. It's quite nice. Likewise their French Market chardonnay, for about the same price, was nice. So we couldn't pass on a mixed case, great little bargain hunters that we are. Repeat this scenario a few times, hit Applejack's in Denver for a big sale and -- it's a wonder we didn't break an axle.

Tons of other stuff too.. Okay, only a half ton of rocks, we did go to the rock shows in Tucson. Some very nice stuff. I loaded up on pearls and jade, coral, amethyst, lapis, Laboradorite, and agate beads. The projects for the next year will be necklaces and earrings, gifts for everyone! So far I've put together a few nice sets of pearls with lavender jade, blue coral, and red coral accents that came out quite nice. I'll have to take pictures one day..

Ah well, back to the grind.

@7:36 AM

Thursday, March 09, 2006- - -  
Here come the clowns
The InstaPundit says he's not happy "... with the trolls posting Amazon reviews that call the book "right wing trash" and the like ..." It appears there's a fine line between an Army of Davids and a Mob of Clowns, both of which are empowered by the new communications technologies. But you knew that.

Update: A bit farther along in the same post Reynolds links to this post on the Democrat's new slogan "Together, America Can Do Better." Judging from the comments I'd say a better slogan might be "The Democratic Party: Where Brains Go to Die." I couldn't have found a better example of clown empowerment -- 'it's all a conspiracy of evil corporations and puppetmasters don't you see?' I was a registered Democrat for many years and it's sad to see that so much of their base is now the lunatic fringe. I suppose if that weren't the case I'd still be a Democrat though..

@4:36 AM

Wednesday, March 08, 2006- - -  
Oh, woe is us!
Reading Kerry Howley's Poor Little Rich Kids reminded me to post on this bit by Shannon Love about all us childless "free-riders" (linked by the InstaPundit). As Howley points out, it appears our fears of overpopulation were somewhat premature. Now we have an underpopulation crisis. To breed or not to breed, that is the question. It appears the answer is 'damned if you do, damned if you don't'. Who'd have thought? Sez Shannon Love:
"Like all free-rider situations, this one will eventually cause a collapse that hurts everyone. As the percentage of parents in the population shrinks, the cost of being a parent will rise. More and more people will be tempted to conserve their own resources and let someone else shoulder the burden of creating the next generation. Eventually, the society will either produce too few children or, probably more likely, will not produce enough children with the skills and habits needed to carry on the economy."[emphasis added]
Interesting that Love doesn't back up this core assertion with any numbers, this being, at base, an economic argument. Could it be that those numbers would show something quite different? Like a higher percentage of youth entering and graduating from college than ever before (as noted by Howley)? Is there a town anywhere in the US with a population over 10,000 that doesn't have a junior college?

It seems to me that sheer numbers shouldn't be the criterion, unless we're looking to go into competition with China. Rather, the number of skilled workers should be our main concern and thus, quality of education rather than quantity of children should be the issue.

Ps. As is often the case with ill-considered assertions, it appears Ms Love is expending more pixels defending herself than she did in the original assertion. 'Raising the children' is hardly the only cost that should be considered. For instance, consider the cost of education at a private university and compare that to the cost of attending a public institution. Do the 'rents really pick up the lion's share of their children's educational costs?

@6:51 AM

Well, somebody had to be homophobic..
I was a bit concerned that the good folks of Washakie County would be painted as homophobes in the swirl of hype leading up to the Academy Awards. Instead, it appears that the Academy and Hollywood are the canvas for that particularly broad brush since Brokeback didn't win Best Picture. Hollywood's homophobia on a par with Pat Robertson's? Whoo boy, talk going into hyperbolic orbit somewhere beyond the moon.

Ironic, isn't it, that so much of the hype leading up to the awards "... has been that the story told in Brokeback Mountain is not, in fact, a gay story, but a sweeping romantic epic with "universal" appeal." ("They were men? Frankly, I never noticed.") Yet now anyone who didn't vote for it is a homophobe. Apparently some folks noticed.

@5:24 AM

This is a bad thing?
Reasonexpress: "Fighting continues inside Pakistan between government forces and pro-Taliban militants in North Waziristan. This can't be good."

Let's see: Some folks believe Osama bin Hidden in this area. The fiercest fighting in Afghanistan is taking place along the Afghan/Pakistan border as Afghan forces attempt to deal with these same Taliban militants. Now Pakistan is helping out, putting pressure on the militants from their side of the border. And the folks at Reason think this is a bad thing.

Sometimes I think that Matt Welch was wise to bail when he did. Reason is no longer their strong suite when it comes to the greater WOT.

@4:36 AM

I doubt this bill will rest in peace
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) -- A bill that would allow citizens to carry concealed handguns without a state permit died before it could be considered by the full Senate.


The bill's sponsor, Rep. Becket Hinckley, R-Cheyenne, said he did not know if he planned to bring the bill back next year, but said "it's not going away."

Supporters of the legislation have said it recognized the constitutional right of Wyoming citizens to carry guns. But opponents -- including the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police -- said easing restrictions on carrying concealed guns could lead to more violence.
I was a bit surprised when I read that the House had passed this bill, but now that the issue has been raised I too doubt it will go away. Funny that the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police is playing the part usually reserved for the Brady Bunch.

@3:39 AM

Tuesday, March 07, 2006- - -  
NeDeDeep-six the walkie-talkie phone!
Via the InstaPundit, Nick Schulz says the auto-flush toilet is the crappiest invention of all time. Apparently these guys haven't sat in a restaurant at the table next to some joker talking on one of those walkie-talkie phones:
NeDeDeep.. [unintelligible] NeDeDeep.. "No, he needs it delivered today." NeDeDeep.. [unintelligible] NeDeDeep.. "Well, see if you can pick up another one at the shop." NeDeDeep.. [unintelligible] NeDeDeep.. ... NeDeDeep.. ... NeDeDeep.. Etc.
Half an hour of this and I was ready to express my displeasure with a ball bat. Surely the single most obnoxious invention since the talking coke machine.

@7:39 PM

Those delightful airline security folks..
One week without a cigarette and Mike Compton meets the Department of Homeland Security:
Ridiculous. What are those people there for anyway? To keep honest, decent people from blowing up airplanes? They are about as useful as locks on doors and windows, which everybody knows only keeps honest, decent people out of your house. Seems to me, if some maniacal camel jockey with a religious mission to fullfill wanted to, it would reasonably simple to outdo that bunch...

@6:56 AM

The Comfy Counter-revolution
Glenn Reynolds writes that the comfy chair revolution has even come to the Knoxville airport. However, our travels yesterday reminded me that there's one place where we seem to be losing ground: In our automobiles. I ferried the spousal unit and mother-in-law down to Ft. Collins for a day of power shopping yesterday, driving the M-I-L's big ol' Sedan DeVille. Now that's a comfy chair. It's darn near as hard to find a place to dock that boat in the city as it is to park the pick'em up, but it's a road warrior of the first order. Comfortable, powerful, quiet, and it flies down the highway like a bat out of hell. They don't make 'em like that anymore.

Incidentally, we stopped at the big new Barnes & Noble in Loveland on the way back and they didn't have An Army of Davids. Tsk. Fortunately, they did have R.L. Wilson's Steel Canvas: The Art of American Arms. First rate gun porn.

@5:20 AM

Monday, March 06, 2006- - -  
Good advice
Why do I suspect that the Dems won't take it? From the Denver Post:
"People vote for people that are for something," Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who won in Montana in 2004, told victory-starved Democrats here last week.

"People vote for people they like, and they like people who say they have a plan," said Schweitzer. "They don't like people who just say rotten things about other people."

@8:26 AM

IMAO: Unfair. Unbalanced. Unmedicated.
Okay, I'll give them two out of three, but I sometimes suspect they're a little overmedicated. That IS FUNNY.

@7:31 AM

Saturday, March 04, 2006- - -  
Is there a homophobe in the house?
The Northern Wyoming Daily News and Casper Star are reporting that an ABC World News Tonight crew has been interviewing Worland and Ten Sleep residents for a segment on Brokeback Mountain. It seems that some of the locals were left a bit nervous about how ABC will portray them.

None of those interviewed had actually seen the movie (there is only one theater in Worland and they tend to lean toward the big box office attractions), nor did ABC screen the film before asking for local opinion. According to Broken Back Ranch owner Terril Mills, the ABC interviewers seemed mostly interested in the locals' opinion of the homosexual subject matter.

The segment is scheduled to air on ABC tonight. Put me down on the nervous side. If ABC had wanted people's informed opinions on the movie they would have had to screen it. So what were they after? I'm guessing that ABC kept interviewing until they found a toothless homophobe, who will feature large in their report this evening. I'll try to watch, but I'll be peeking from between my fingers.

Update: 3:15 pm. Well here we are, comfortably ensconced in Colorado City, eagerly awaiting ABC World News Tonight -- Hey, it's not every day that the national media come to our tiny town and we can't wait to see who they interviewed. Whatever story they were looking for I'm sure they found it, and we're very curious to see what the story will be. You never know, perhaps they'll surprise us.

Another update: Incidentally, I imagine that ABC News found their way to Worland and Ten Sleep in search of the real Brokeback Mountain. As I posted just before Christmas, there is no such place, just Brokenback Creek, which drains "The Brokenbacks" northeast of Ten Sleep. That was a nice picture, I think I'll post it again here.. There ya are, looking north toward the Brokenbacks (in the far distance on the horizon).

At 5:15 pm -- Well darn. The Casper Star said the segment was scheduled to air tonight, but they closed with a 'tune in tomorrow night when we go to Wyoming in search of the real Brokeback Mountain'. Ah well, they've got us hooked now, we'll have to tune in tomorrow.

And finally: Must. Get. That. Paranoia. Under control... Near as we can tell ABC doesn't run World News Tonight on Sundays. Perhaps they ran the segment sometime before or during the Oscars, but we were at the M-I-L's and missed it (I'm all broke up..). Here's ABC's on-line article, which is pretty innocuous. I hope the local boosters are right and droves of people come in search of Brokeback Mountain -- it is very beautiful country in a classic, mountainy way and you don't have to ride horseback to see it, there's these things we call highways. Better yet, it's on the way to Yellowstone, which is a definite Don't Miss.

@5:39 AM

Friday, March 03, 2006- - -  
Toad Viagra?
Researchers working on captive breeding of the exceedingly rare Wyoming toad are going to give them hormone injections to make them.. horny toads.

@8:23 PM

How Bizarre
First the good news: The Wyoming House has approved a bill that will allow citizens to carry concealed handguns without state permits. The vote was 37-23. It must still pass the Senate, but if the House vote margin is any indication, it should pass. I've got to admit that I never thought I'd see the day. Good for them. Good for us! Natch:
The Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police opposes the bill. J.M. Reed, president of the association, said in a press release this week the bill "does not restrict carrying a concealed weapon while impaired by alcohol or drugs, nor does it offer legal remedies for prosecution of individuals guilty of participating in these types of behaviors."
Hmm.. Tell you what: How about we prosecute anyone who shoots someone who didn't need shooting, or does anything else illegal whether they're carrying a gun or not, whether they're drunk, or high, or stone cold sober? Shouldn't that be enough?

Then the strange news: Via Reasonexpress comes this twisted tale of Wyoming State Sen. Cale Case, who wants to allow Wyoming hunters to carry silenced handguns to protect themselves from bears.

Leaving aside the overheated rhetoric of the Denver Post's coverage -- Case's proposal seems mostly aimed at allowing Wyoming law enforcement officers to have fully automatic and silenced weapons (okay, that's scary too considering their general level of training) -- I should note that I wouldn't tackle a grizzly bear with any factory loaded subsonic handgun round I can think of, and you can't effectively silence a supersonic round. Or any revolver round for that matter.

Most of the paint-peeling blast of the magnum handguns is generated by the 'sonic boom' of the faster-than-sound bullet. The barrel/cylinder gap of revolvers -- which include nearly all of the handguns "effective" against a grizzly (no handgun round is more than marginally effective against such a monster) -- are also going to generate considerable noise. I want to read a more dispassionate discussion of the proposed legislation (nothing in the Casper Star that I can find) before I pronounce judgement but this seems passing odd.

@7:00 PM

Kokopelli Rocks!
Wednesday we visited Tsankawi, at Bandelier National Monument, where I found this image of one of my favorite characters. Is that a great Kokopelli, or what? I've seen a lot of images across the Rocky Mountain west that are supposed to depict Kokopelli, but this is a classic, hump back, flute, and all.

The Tsankawi pueblo has not been reconstructed or 'improved' with paved paths and handrails, as the Tyuonyi pueblo and associated ruins have been. A very interesting place, at least for me, as it lets me see what these places look like without a lot of helpful reassembly. The Park Service does appear to use a weedwhacker to cut down the dense vegetation and expose the rubble, but other than that it's pretty much undisturbed.

Here's a closeup of a portion of the excavated, partially reconstructed and stabilized Tyuonyi Pueblo from the same perspective. In both photos the structure curves around to the right, surrounding a central plaza, which can be seen on the far right of each photo.

It's nice to present the archaeology both ways. The reconstruction certainly gives people a better idea what they're looking at.

Bandelier is well worth the visit and you should give yourself at least two days to see it. I wish we had more time, as there's a third pueblo, Yapashi, that's even less disturbed. Unfortunately, it's at least an eight mile hike (round-trip) southwest from Tyuonyi and would take another day, which we unfortunately don't have.

Yes, this busman's holiday is about over. Time to get home and do some archaeology. And history. The BLM wants documentation on a segment of the old Casper to Lander Stage Road. Oh, the crosses I bear.

@7:32 AM

I don't have Harry Browne to kick around anymore -- RIP
I was not a fan:
What can I say? Harry is to politics as Jim and Tammy Fay are to religion, except that Harry could use a little more makeup.
And that was probably one of the kinder things I had to say about him. Brian Doherty has a few comments on the life and times of Browne over at Reason's Hit and Run. I'm afraid I must agree with Jason Ligon's comments there:
"At the end of the day, he made the LP what it is today. An honest assessment from my point of view would have to note that he contributed greatly to what I see as the major weaknesses of libertarianism as a political movement. I think he was proud of his influence in that direction though. RIP"
Yes, Harry did much to marginalize the Libertarian Party. And yes, he may well have intended that effect. Ah well, can't stop the signal.

@5:34 AM

Wednesday, March 01, 2006- - -  
The transition is working...
The InstaPundit has linked Ralph Peters' report from Baghdad twice today and missed the best part both times:
"And the people here have been impressed that their government reacted effectively to last week's strife, that their soldiers and police brought order to the streets. The transition is working.


"... Driving through Baghdad's Kerada Peninsula District, my humvee passed long gas lines as people waited to fill their tanks in the wake of the curfew. I commented to the officer giving me a lift that the dense lines of cars and packed gas stations offered great targets to the terrorists. An hour later, one was hit with a car bomb.

"The bombing made headlines (and a news photographer just happened to be on the scene). Here in Baghdad, it just made the average Iraqis hate the terrorists even more. "
This makes an interesting counterpoint to Max Boot's comment, also linked by the InstaPundit today:
"ARE WE WINNING or losing in Iraq? Liberals and conservatives safe at home have no trouble formulating glib answers to that fundamental question. The former can always point to setbacks, the latter to successes. The picture becomes blurrier, the future murkier when you spend time in Iraq, as I did last week."
Way back when, Ludwig Wittgenstein said something to the effect that 'our world is not a world of facts, but rather a world of our perceptions of those facts'*. Perhaps some folks just have more near-sighted perceptions than others...

*Hmm.. Of course, being a philosopher, Wittgenstein expressed this in many pages of dense prose subject to much interpretation.

@8:17 PM

More "Brutish Flaunting of Wealth and Leisure"*
Personally, I agree with the InstaPundit: "If you've got it, flaunt it!" Besides, it was [cough] relatively cheap, I've always admired these, and never could afford one before. And I did need a buckle for the mandolin strap I'm making. Now I'll be motivated to finish tooling the strap. The only problem is, I'll need to choose a design that compliments the buckle and the Beartooth. Sort of a Celtic/Aztec motif perhaps?

You may note that I've replaced the original stamped tin tailpiece on the Beartooth with one of Weber's newer one-piece cast units, in gold plate to match the rest of the instrument's hardware. The one-piece tailpiece makes strings infinitely easier to change, although I admit I don't have the ear to tell if it really improves the sound of the instrument.

A couple of folks too slow to figure out that it stood for "Weber", which is inlaid in big letters in Mother-of-pearl on the mando's headstock (Doh!), have asked about the big gold "W" on the tailpiece. I tell them "it's a political thing".

Speaking of which, I noticed a bumper sticker that was very popular among the young Hispanics in Tucson: "Annoy a Liberal -- Work Hard, Succeed, Be Happy! Can't argue with that. *Apparently, some at the NYTimes are annoyed by other's success and that tickles me a bit.

Ps. Sez Sarah Boxer at the NYTimes: "But more and more, there's a brutish flaunting of wealth and leisure. Yesterday there were lots of pictures posted of smiling families at the beach and of people showing off their cars and vans." The photo she offers is a rather large family at the beach with their minivan. By that standard I suppose I'm truly an annoying brute.

@7:05 AM

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