Winston Churchill as a boy owned, played with, and undoubtedly cast and painted lead soldiers. He owned something like 1500 hundred of them—probably one of the largest juvenile collections ever on the planet—, and no one ever thought Churchill intellectually impaired.
The Left, as we all know, has Science on its side, and its regime of experts intends to govern us guided by the insights delivered by established science.
The Left’s supposedly science-based policies, however, have a tendency to resemble primitive superstition, frequently incorporating Ousiaphobia (My own neologism: “the fear of substances”) which in every way resembles the sort of fear that primitive natives manifest toward things declared taboo by tribal witchdoctors.
Our own witchdoctors come with Ph.D.s, of course, and our politicians enthusiastically embody taboos in legislation. One particularly notorious example was the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008 which banned ever-more-minute levels of the taboo element LEAD (symbol: Pb) in children’s toys, &c.
That particularly absurd piece of legislation had much more far-reaching implications than banning the importation of toys painted with lead paint from China. It effectively prohibited the sale of used (and antique) toys carrying traces of the forbidden metal, and when the law (passed under George W. Bush, mind you) went into effect early in 2009, it was thought also to ban all children’s books printed before 1985, because (oogah, boogah!) back then printers’ ink contained minute quantities of lead. The act banned lead in levels of 300 parts per million, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission promised that it would enforce the ban since “[g]iven the way that kids tear and chew through library books… it’s unlikely that libraries have many children’s books that are more than 24 years old.”
Our federal government has declared all children’s books printed before 1985 taboo on the basis of the belief that children customarily eat books.
Apparently, the book purge is still underway, four years later. A commenter on a publishing blog (read by my wife) reported yesterday.
My regional library system got hit hard by the requirement to riff all the older kids books (lead in the ink, natch). That really flubbed up their budget. I suspect they are not alone in this. The Friends of the Library group has stepped up and done a lot, but I’ve noticed the number of new acquisitions is declining.
Most people in America go to school for sixteen long years. They get science courses, and learn that Darwin proved that life arose spontaneously by chance, and that Natural Selection is good as a basis for rejecting traditional religion, but is absolutely not to be tolerated in human society. I presume everyone gets Chemistry courses and learns that lead is an element, is a metal, and is heavy. Chemistry courses probably inform people today that compounds of heavy metals tend to be very poisonous, but it is clear that the relationship, or lack thereof, between very poisonous and “300 parts in a million” is very evidently not made clear. Neither is the obvious necessity of employing common sense and testing theories against historical fact.
If exposure to books with infinitesimal amounts of lead in the ink they are printed with really impacted children, every youngster who was so foolhardy as to devote significant time to reading would have to be presumed to have damaged his intelligence. In reality, it’s the children who read a lot who went on to get scholarships to Yale.
Winston Churchill monkeyed around with lead during his childhood on a scale which would obviously appall today’s scientific experts. You can bet that he handled, fondled, ordered and re-ordered, and played with every single one of those 1500 lead soldiers. He undoubtedly was additionally equipped with molds for making more of them, and he doubtless, like most hobbyists of his ilk, poured melted lead and cast his own lead soldiers which he then trimmed, tidied up, and painted. The boy Churchill’s hands were, you can count on it, soiled with lead on many a day.
I fished with lead sinkers as a boy, and during some periods, I too used a lead pot, casting my own sinkers. I also learned to handload ammunition, and cast bullets. Amazingly Churchill lived to the age of 90, and I’ve made it into my sixth decade myself.
Mark Steyn, on Rush Limbaugh’s Show yesterday, read, in the recent school suspension of a 7-year-old in Baltimore for allegedly nibbling his breakfast pop tart into a shape resembling a gun, serious bad news for American civilization.
You’re doomed America! You’re done for! No society can survive this level of stupidity! The school counselor is available to meet with any students who are traumatized by hearing reports of some guy four grades below them who nibbles a pop-tart into a gun-like shape.
I’ve never subscribed to this whole greatest generation thing, you know. But you look at those guys, they weren’t much older than the kids from the school. A lot of them were like seventeen, eighteen years old. And they’re storming out of these transport ships in the churning waters of the English Channel and the North Sea and they’re landing on the beaches of Normandy. And their getting out of these and they stomping up the beaches and they’re taking German gunfire and all the rest.
Do you think if you raised people so that you make a school counselor to available to them in cased they’ve been traumatized by someone who was nibbled a pop-tart into the shape of a gun….do you think if they’re ever called upon to get out those ships and the storm the beaches of Normandy, do you think they’re gonna be up to that?
‘Oh no look, the Germans, they’re all holding pop-tarts! AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!’
No society can survive this level of stupidity! These small things are not small. They tell you a lot about the institutionalized stupidity of our institutions.
Just look at those unruly Bryn Mawr girls hazing one another in the old days!
Like most elite schools, Seven Sisters member Bryn Mawr, Katherine Hepburn’s alma mater, has certain traditions. One key Bryn Mawr tradition has always been Hell Week, a series of mock ordeals and festivities designed to provide an interlude of mid-Winter amusement as well as to welcome the freshman class to full college citizenship and to cement undergraduate ties of fellowship.
The mock hazing of freshman and (non-sexual) undergraduate festivities prove this year too dreadful to be tolerated by Bryn Mawr’s administration.
The dean of undergraduates recorded such atrocities having occurred as:
Requiring first-year students to swear alliance to Radnor over a keg.
Shouting at first-year students with and without bullhorn.
Throwing items in common room (toilet paper, cardboard). Some items thrown into audience (may have been at first-year students).
Creating potential for injury by playing wiffle beer (essentially baseball with beer cans and a wiffle bat).
Requiring first-year students to go outside for “class photo” but in reality dumping water on them. (Unclear if photo was really taken.)
Telling first-year students to stand outside, wet and some without shoes, and forcing them to listen to the Radnor goddess speech.
Smoking indoors (cigarettes during the trial; a hookah during the party).
Being on the roof (roof was accessed from second floor kitchen window).
Violating the party policy by holding an unregistered party after Trials.
Underage drinking (most sophomores and juniors are not 21) and excessive drinking during trials.
That Dean (presumably named Wormser) responded vigorously:
“It is clear from this long list of violations…that immediate steps must be taken to foster significant culture change in Radnor,” the letter states. As a result of the night’s activities, all Radnor Dorm Presidents resigned, all current Radnor customs people were relieved of their duties, and every upperclass student in Radnor is required to write a letter of apology to the Radnor first-years.
He even leaked the news of all this to the vulgar-deviant-commie blog cesspool Jezebel, which piously congratulated his pompous fraudulence for conspicuous political correctitude:
It’s definitely refreshing that there’s at least one university administration that’s actively committed to changing a culture it feels is problematic.
Regrettably, I think there is a lot more than one university administration staffed by equivalent nincompoops and adhering to the same ridiculous standards of sanctimony.
Alumna Scarlett looks on Hell Week very differently, and testifies that it even changed her mind about the college.
Hell Week is the most complicated tradition, and very difficult to describe on paper. For me, it was the turning point when I decided that I did indeed want to stay at Bryn Mawr.
Michael Yon has a classic example of the spectacular-stupidity-and-inflexibility-of-the-TSA genre.
A note [from retired Marine and 3-star General Mick Trainor recently] appeared on a private message board. This private group includes many current and former generals, and just about anyone you see on television or in books as a national security specialist, ranging from CIA to all the top war correspondents, special operations types galore, and high-level policy makers. There is significant education value in just reading their traffic. ...
“Did you use hand cream this morning?”
“Yes,” I replied, “Why do you ask?”
“Because there is a trace of nitrate on your hands. That is not uncommon with some hand lotions. Nitrate is an element of explosives.”
“OK,”.I thought. “I have soft hands, but not a bomb.” Notwithstanding such logic, I was informed that I would have to have a full body search. With that two agents escorted me to a private room while other agents began to tear apart my luggage.
“Is this really necessary?” I enquired. “I’m an eighty four year old, native born American citizen who spent forty years in the Marines and fought in two wars and retired as a general.”
“Oh, you were a Marine.” said one agent. “My father-in-law is a retired Marine colonel of about your vintage. His name is Webster. Did you know him?”
“I knew a Charlie Webster, who went as ‘Chuck.’ We went through Quantico together as new lieutenants.”
“That’s him.” replied my interrogator ….. as he proceeded with the full body search.
Not quite as bad as the 2002 shakedown of 86-year-old WWII hero and former South Dakota governor Joe Foss, during which TSA personnel failed to recognize and tried to confiscate his Medal of Honor, but very bad. Story here.
Anybody know the name of that “private message board?”
Georgetown Law School’s Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Constitutional Law Louis M. Seidman cannot even be bothered to wear a coat and tie when participating in a debate on a major issue of national public policy, i.e. defending the supposed constitutionality of the Obamacare health insurance mandate.
I smiled recently with bitter amusement upon reading of Stanford University’s preposterous appointment of an “atheist chaplain” when I came upon the detail that made the story perfect: the new padre in charge of unbelief is a graduate of Harvard Divinity School.
It seemed to me to speak volumes about establishment university administrations’ systematic pattern of what really amounts to nothing less than long-term embezzlement via the application of institutional resources and funding for purposes diametrically opposed to those which the institutions in question were created to pursue. It sounds like a joke when you observe that one of our most elite divinity schools graduates doctors of divinity specializing in atheism, but the pattern of institutionalized academical heresy and treason obviously extends far beyond mere theology.
Over the weekend, the New York Times published an editorial, written in complete earnest by a tenured professor of Constitutional Law at Georgetown, one of the country’s top-tier law schools, titled “Let’s Give Up on the Constitution.” Its author, Professor Seidman, who has been teaching, i.e. obviously traducing and malpracticing, Constitutional Law for nearly four decades, brazenly argued in favor of ignoring the Constitution altogether.
As someone who has taught constitutional law for almost 40 years, I am ashamed it took me so long to see how bizarre all this is. Imagine that after careful study a government official — say, the president or one of the party leaders in Congress — reaches a considered judgment that a particular course of action is best for the country. Suddenly, someone bursts into the room with new information: a group of white propertied men who have been dead for two centuries, knew nothing of our present situation, acted illegally under existing law and thought it was fine to own slaves might have disagreed with this course of action. Is it even remotely rational that the official should change his or her mind because of this divination?
Obviously what this country needs to do is the precise opposite of seeking spiritual counseling from atheists and constitutional legal analysis from opponents of constitutional government. We need to take back our most important and prestigious institutions from the flakes, creeps, and radical fanatics who have infiltrated and occupied them. Our best-credentialed elite ought not to be enthusiastic adversaries of the historical country, culture, and civilization which created the institutions awarding their credentials and vesting them with influence and authority.
Bloomberg reports that Ivy League colleges everywhere are taking swift and vigorous action to suppress student misbehavior.
Harvard and Cornell universities have joined Yale University and Dartmouth College in cracking down on out-of-control behavior as drinking, hazing and sexual harassment endanger students and tarnish Ivy League reputations.
Harvard faculty voted last month to require registration of parties and ban drinking games, and Cornell ordered fraternities to have live-in advisers. This fall, Dartmouth began security checks at Greek houses and Princeton University banned freshmen from joining them.
The moves are the latest effort to regulate campus behavior since rules controlling students—known as in loco parentis—were abolished in the 1960s. Disobedience crested last year for Ivy League schools, which cost more than $50,000 a year to attend. A Dartmouth hazing article detailed rituals involving bodily fluids. A Cornell student died of alcohol poisoning, and Yale was hit with a discrimination complaint after fraternity members chanted “No means yes! Yes means anal!”
“Colleges have been in an arms race to prove to students that they’re cool and give more freedom than the others,” said Lisa Wade, head of the sociology department at Occidental College in Los Angeles. “Now, maybe the pendulum is starting to swing the other way.”
College students have come to equate the absence of boundaries with fun, said Wade, who studies the casual sex culture on campuses. That, combined with large amounts of alcohol easily available on campus, can skew students’ sense of what is acceptable or even normal.
There seems to be a tidal pattern about this sort of thing. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, when students were really riotous and disorderly in lifestyle and behavior, university administrators went home and hid under their beds, allowing student mobs to occupy administration buildings and even to shut down Yale a month before examinations and graduation.
Today, when students are meek and mild and cause little trouble, bold, brave deans react to every little contretemps that hits the newspapers the way the German Occupation reacted to the Warsaw Uprising.
Try getting university recognition, support, and the use of university facilities for your newly founded alternative conservative newspaper, a film society, or a polo team, and see how far you get. But ask Harvard to recognize a BDSM & kinky sex club, and Harvard’s Committee on Student Life is on board, Man.
As the Crimson reports, things will be better for those a little bit different at Harvard now.
“If you come to campus and you have the sexual interests we represent, you may not even suspect that such a group exists,” Michael said.
Munch is also now allowed to apply for DAPA food grants, making it easier to find a convenient time and location to meet, instead of gathering in small dining halls.
But for Michael, the biggest advantage to being recognized comes with “the fact of legitimacy,” he said. “[Our recognition] shows we are being taken seriously.”
Britain’s Daily Mail described the club’s founding and membership.
The group, which goes by ‘Harvard College Munch,’ first began its meetings in one of the university’s dining halls to discuss personal stories and broader issues related to BDSM and other forms of ‘kinky sex’. ...
Munch’s membership has grown to about 30 members from seven when it began more than a year ago and is one of 15 student organization that will be approved by Harvard’s Committee on Student Life this Friday.
None of the group’s members quoted by the media have been willing to give their full names.
One group member, who goes by ‘Marie,’ told the New York Observer that she enjoys ‘Bondage, handcuffs and ice play.”
‘I’ve been hit with a riding crop, a belt, a paddle, canes, a flogger,’ she said, ‘Floggers are my favorite.’
Silliman College has decided to cancel all future Safety Dances after eight hospitalizations followed Saturday’s event.
In a Monday night email to the News following this week’s Silliman Activities and Administrative Committee meeting, Safety Dance organizers Nicole De Santis ’15 and Hannah Fornero ’15 announced that the “risk and liability of the Safety Dance are too great for us to continue having it.” Though new efforts were made at this year’s Safety Dance to help improve student safety, binge drinking and hospital transports still dominated the event. Silliman College Master Judith Kraus said three students were transported from the dance site to Yale-New Haven Hospital, and that another five were transported from several other locations on campus — marking a significant increase from last year’s five students in total. Krauss said that aside from those students transported due to intoxication, many others were excessively intoxicated and engaged in inappropriate behavior.
“There were countless incidents inside the dance, most of them unrepeatable, that can be directly attributed to drunkenness,” Krauss said.
Master K has always been the biggest sourpuss on campus. Just a curmudgeony old witch with a total no fun attitude. This quote blew me away:
““There were countless incidents inside the dance, most of them unrepeatable, that can be directly attributed to drunkenness,” Krauss said.”
It calls to mind Neidermeyer’s line from the disciplinary hearing in Animal House: “And most recently of all, a “Roman Toga Party” was held from which we have received more than two dozen reports of individual acts of perversion SO profound and disgusting that decorum prohibits listing them here”
“...ambulances picked up the other five students from different locations around campus, attributing these cases to excessive pre-gaming.”
As would be expected when you ban or heavily restrict access to alcohol at the event itself. Experience has shown that when access to alcohol is limited, students will simply hide in their rooms and rip shots before mixing up some sauce in a gatorate bottle or flask for the road. They’ll drink it quickly leading to a rapid and dangerous rise in BAC.
This whole thing is ironic given subject matter of the Men Without Hats song from which the dance’s name was derived. It was the band’s response to curmudgeons like Master K who thought the drunken, raucous new wave dance parties of the 80’s were detrimental to society. “We can dance if we want to…” Except at Yale.
13 drunks got carted off to the tank after the major party of the year attended by roughly 2300 undergraduates. Oh, me! oh, my!
In my day, of course, when you got yourself blue, blind, paralytic drunk, nobody came to the rescue with an ambulance. You had your own private session of worshipping the porcelain god, and then you staggered off to bed, doomed to rise eventually to experience the kind of hangover that makes one seriously consider embracing Mormonism.
In those days, Yale residential college masters were all incredibly distinguished, internationally renowned scholars, and representatives of armigerous families whose first American settler had signed the Mayflower Compact. They were worldly men, who had won fame by publishing major studies of prominent canonical subjects like Shakespeare or Dante, or who had written the definitive diplomatic history of the Madison Administration, or who presided over the Yale Library’s cataloguing of the papers of Benjamin Franklin.
They were men of the world, operating at an Olympian level of serenity which could not possibly be disturbed by the petty follies or incidental misbehavior of lowly undergraduates.
The current Master of Silliman College is a professor from the Yale School of Nursing, forsooth! I always thought the existence of a Yale School of Nursing was a quaint anomaly instituted sometime in the Middle Dark Ages to provide a kind of minimal level access to females in the grim pre-coeducation era, probably as a budgetary expedient intended to lower slightly the university dining halls’ budget for saltpeter. We’d probably get more sophisticated residential college governance if the current administration were selecting college masters from the faculties of a Yale School of Taxidermy or the Yale Correspondence College of Beauticians.
Michigan Capitol Confidential notes the existence of an obviously unnecessary Detroit city job which only continues to exist on the basis of union power.
Despite having no horses, the water and sewerage department for the city of Detroit employs a horseshoer.
Yet even with a department so bloated that it has a horseshoer and no horses, the local union president said it is “not possible” to eliminate positions.
Union rules have turned the department into a government jobs program, some critics say.
The horseshoer’s job description is “to shoe horses and to do general blacksmith work … and to perform related work as required.” The description was last updated in 1967.
The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) has a large debt, rising water prices and inefficient services — using almost twice the number of employees per gallon as other cities like Chicago. ...
John Riehl, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 207, which represents many of the DWSD employees, told the Detroit Free Press that the department needs more workers.
“They don’t have enough people as it is right now,” Riehl said. “They are just dreaming to think they can operate that plant with less.”
Autoblog has one of those stories of government fiscal irresponsibility which will boggle your mind.
Have you ever bought a brand new cars only to forget where you put it? How about 300 of them? Probably not – unless you’re Miami-Dade County, which was recently reunited with 298 vehicles it bought brand new between 2006 and 2007.
The county “discovered” this fleet of no-mileage vehicles after reading about them in a Spanish-language newspaper there (see the source for more images). Most of the misplaced motorcade is made up of Toyota Prius hybrids whose warranties either expired with very few miles on the odo or will very soon.
Looking to save some face, the county has rushed at least 123 of the hybrids into service. The Toyota warranty covered the hybrid bits for eight years or 100,000 miles, but we’re not sure if that covers cars parked for five of those eight. We’re also not sure what that much time in Miami heat and humidity does to an unused hybrid powertrain, but it can’t be good.
The government spent at least $205,075 in 2010 to “translocate” a single bush in San Francisco that stood in the path of a $1.045-billion highway-renovation project that was partially funded by the economic stimulus legislation President Barack Obama signed in 2009.
“In October 2009, an ecologist identified a plant growing in a concrete-bound median strip along Doyle Drive in the Presidio as Arctostaphylos franciscana,” the U.S. Department of Interior reported in the Aug. 10, 2010 edition of the Federal Register. “The plant’s location was directly in the footprint of a roadway improvement project designed to upgrade the seismic and structural integrity of the south access to the Golden Gate Bridge.
“The translocation of the Arctostaphylos franciscana plant to an active native plant management area of the Presidio was accomplished, apparently successfully and according to plan, on January 23, 2010,” the Interior Department reported.
The bush—a Franciscan manzanita—was a specimen of a commercially cultivated species of shrub that can be purchased from nurseries for as little as $15.98 per plant. The particular plant in question, however, was discovered in the midst of the City of San Francisco, in the median strip of a highway, and was deemed to be the last example of the species in the “wild.”
Prior to the discovery of this “wild” Franciscan manzanita, the plant had been considered extinct for as long as 62 years—extinct, that is, outside of people’s yards and botanical gardens. ...
While the MOA did not detail all the costs for moving the bush, it did state that in addition to funding removal and transportation of the Franciscan manzanita, Caltrans agreed to transfer $79,470 to the Presidio Trust “to fund the establishment, nurturing, and monitoring of the Mother Plant in its new location for a period not to exceed ten (10) years following relocation and two (2) years for salvaged rooted layers and cuttings according to the activities outlined in the Conservation Plan.”
Furthermore, Presidio Parkway Project spokesperson Molly Graham told CNSNews.com that the “hard removal”—n.b. actually digging up the plant, putting it on a truck, driving it somewhere else and replanting it—cost $100,000.
The MOA also stated that Caltrans agreed to “Transfer $25,605.00 to the Trust to fund the costs of reporting requirements of the initial 10-year period as outlined in the Conservation Plan.”
The $100,000 to pay for the “hard removal,” the $79,470 to pay for the “establishment, nurturing and monitoring” of the plant for a decade after its “hard removal,” and the $25,605 to cover the “reporting requirements” for the decade after the “hard removal,” equaled a total cost of $205,075 for “translocating” this manzanita bush.
But those were not the only costs incurred by taxpayers on behalf of the bush. According to the MOA, other costs included:
—“Contract for and provide funding not to exceed $7,025.00 for initial genetic or chromosomal testing of the Mother Plant by a qualified expert to be selected at Caltrans’ sole discretion.” (MOA – Fran Man – 2009.pdf)
—“Contract for and fund the input, guidance, and advice of a qualified Manzanita expert on an as-needed basis to support the tending of the Mother Plant for a period not to exceed five (5) years, provided that said expert selection, retention and replacement at any point after hiring rests in the sole discretion of Caltrans.”
“Provide funding not to exceed $5,000.00 to each of 3 botanical gardens (Strybing, UC, and Tilden) to nurture salvaged rooted layers and to monitor and report findings as outlined in the Conservation Plan.”
—“Provide funding not to exceed $1,500.00 for the long-term seed storage of 300 seeds collected around the Mother Plant in November 2009 as outlined in the Conservation Plan.”
The plant is now protected by a fence and its location is kept secret, in part because the Presidio Trust and the National Park Service fear that nature-lovers seeking to see the rare wild Manzanita might trample it to death.
This nursery normally sells Franciscan manzanita.
It is a bit complicated. Hooker’s manzanita is a shrub indigenous to the San Franciso Bay Area with several subspecies. One of these subspecies, Franciscan manzanita, was thought to be “extinct in the wild.”
It, nonetheless, survived in cultivation in yards and gardens, and could be purchased from nurseries at modest prices.
Doubtless, the extinction “in the wild” of the subspecies specifically associated with San Francisco has a lot to do with the reduction of the extent of “the wild” in an intensely developed, densely populated urban center.
So, having found an example flourishing in what the authorities choose to define as the wild, those same authorities with the characteristic wisdom and fiscal responsibility concluded that pompous, heroic (and very costly) measures had to be taken to save the contextually-precious plant.
No one in authority noticed that all this was complete madness.
Stuart Schneiderman mercilessly rubs in what has become increasingly obvious this week: the chosen representative of our nation’s establishment elite is really an ignoramus who’d flunk basic questions from a high school Civics course.
America’s thinking class saw Barack Obama as a light shining in the wilderness.
In deep despair over the coarsening of public discourse during the Dark Ages of the Bush administration, American intellectuals saw Barack Obama as one of their own, someone who could restore their exalted social status and raise the level of deliberative democratic debate.
Obama hadn’t accomplished anything of note; he wasn’t really qualified for the presidency; but he was superbly intelligent, had presided over the Harvard Law Review, had professed Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago Law School, and had authored two brilliant books. ...
A few days ago the curtain was drawn and people could see that the Wizard of Oz was not what he claimed to be.
In an effort to get personally involved in Supreme Court deliberations over his signature piece of legislation—Obamacare—our president made it appear that he did not understand the most fundamental doctrine in American jurisprudence.
The former president of the Harvard Law Review, former professor at the University of Chicago Law review managed to mangle an explanation of “judicial review.” As every high school history student knows the doctrine was adumbrated in 1803 by Chief Justice John Jay in the case of Marbury v. Madison.
Ultimately, I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.
As everyone but Obama knows, Marbury v. Madison established the right of the Supreme Court to strike down Congressional legislation that it deemed unconstitutional.
The Court has done just that on hundreds of occasions.
The female grizzly bear, referred to as the Wapiti sow, killed Brian Matayoshi on July 6, 2011 and then killed John Wallace on August 27, 2011, after officials declined to hunt the bear responsible. The Wapiti sow was finally trapped in late September and euthanized October 2nd after four days of forensic analysis and chin stroking.
Jessica Grose, in Slate, describes how the swift and hearty justice dealt out to man-killing grizzlies in simpler and less-grovelly-toward-Nature times has been replaced by a new intensely ethically conscientious regime that will only kill bears which are deemed to have behaved with “unnatural aggression” or which have been found to have eaten people.
In the bad old days, they knew what to do with man-killing bruins.
The first extensively documented death by grizzly within Yellowstone Park’s borders was the fatal mauling of 61-year-old government laborer Frank Welch in 1916. And the park’s first extensively documented judicial execution of a grizzly soon followed. Some historians suspect the bear that killed Welch was abnormally ill-tempered because his toes had been ripped off when he escaped from a trap in 1912. Whatever the bear’s motives, though, Welch’s fellow laborers decided that “Old Two Toes” deserved to die for his crimes. Men from the road camp where Welch had been working placed some edible garbage in front of a barrel filled with dynamite. When the bear began to eat, they blew it to smithereens.
That was how grizzlies were treated if they injured humans in the early days of Yellowstone: They were killed.
Not today. Today, when Ephraim or Ephraimina takes out a tax paying citizen, there is the equivalent of a judicial procedure. There are major exculpatory loopholes. And even totally guilty bears are put down reluctantly, as big, salty tears pour down the faces of the responsible officials.
Every bear is pwecious, you see.
The euthanization of the bear known as “the Wapiti sow” was the culmination of a series of horrifying events that had gripped Yellowstone for months, and alarmed rangers, visitors, and the conservation biologists tasked with keeping grizzly bears safe. In separate incidents in July and August, grizzlies had killed hikers in Yellowstone, prompting a months-long investigation replete with crime scene reconstructions and DNA analysis, and a furious race to capture the prime suspect. The execution of the Wapiti sow opens a window on a special criminal justice system designed to protect endangered bears and the humans who share their land. It also demonstrates the difficulty of judging animals for crimes against us. The government bear biologists who enforce grizzly law and order grapple with the impossibility of the task every day. In the most painful cases, the people who protect these sublime, endangered animals must also put them to death.
Whenever a grizzly bear commits a crime in the continental United States, Chris Servheen gets a call at his office at the University of Montana in Missoula. Servheen has been the Grizzly Bear Recovery Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for three decades. ...
Before Servheen, Gunther, and their bear management colleagues could decide what to do, they’d need a lot more information. Was a grizzly bear in fact responsible for this second death? If so, which bear did the mauling? And what were the circumstances that led up to attack—was it provoked or had some hiker just been caught unaware? The answers to those questions would determine whether a precious animal would need to die. ...
Wildlife biologists like Kerry Gunther help the park’s crime-scene investigators by speculating on a bear’s emotional state. Based on the evidence at hand, he tries to determine whether a given act of bear aggression might have been a natural behavior—the result of being startled while feeding on an elk carcass, for example, or seeing someone approaching her cubs. If a bear appears to have followed a hiker down the trail instead of backing off, or if it attacked campers while they were asleep, that would be more unusual—the result, perhaps of a deranged grizzly mind.
If you blunder into a bear that is thought to have attacked and killed you out of natural aggression (you violated that bear’s space, dude!) or via an impulse of self defense, that’s just too bad for you. The bear goes free, as long as he refrains from dining on your pitiable remains.
The authorities in question reluctantly draw the line at actual predation, simply because they are afraid of the public response to tolerating man-eaters in National Parks.
The zero-tolerance policy for man-eating bears invites an obvious question, though. Once a bear kills someone, whether it’s out of some wild-animal psychopathy or a natural inclination to defend her young, why wouldn’t she eat the corpse? Everyone agrees that it’s natural for grizzlies to eat carrion—they’re scavengers, after all. When I ask Servheen whether grizzlies can get “a taste for human blood”—whether a grizzly that starts eating people-meat will desire it endlessly—he dismisses the idea. “That’s for horror stories in movies,” he says. “Bears don’t get a taste for human blood. There’s no studies that show that.”
No studies show it, in part because every time a bear eats someone, they kill it. Not that it’s something that would ever be studied—biologists would never want to take the risk of keeping a bear that had eaten a person in the greater bear population. “We don’t want to test whether bears really get a taste for people,” Gunther explains. “The public wouldn’t appreciate us using them as subjects.” That’s for horror movies, but it seems like even the bear biologists think there might be some truth to the campfire legends.
The nincompoops in Norfolk, Va claimed the six shooter design constituted a “replica” and was therefore prohibited. The poor girl missed her flight home to Jacksonville, Fl, and wound up being put on a flight to Orlando. All over a decorative element on a purse.
Newt Gingrich ought to start promising to eliminate the TSA.
The goofballs running the Air Force Academy spent $80,000 to construct an outdoor circle of boulders around a propane-fueled fire pit to accommodate the spiritual needs of infinitesimally small numbers of cadets self-described as “pagans, Wiccans, druids, witches and followers of Native American faiths.”
What exactly people who like extinct religions and imaginary religions have in common is unclear, but the Air Force classifies all of the former schools of metaphysical opinion as “Earth-based,” whatever that means.
If one were a Grecian pagan worshipping Zeus or a Nordic pagan worshipping Odin, wouldn’t that make one’s religion “Sky-based?”
And why exactly do these nonconformist cadets need boulders and propane? Couldn’t they sit even more comfortably on ordinary teakwood lawn furniture? Is the Academy planning to supply pious pagan undergraduates with chickens, sheep, and the occasional ox to be sacrificed on major holy days? Will worshippers of Baal or Quetzalcoatl be immunized from the common law and permitted to sacrifice unwanted children or enemy combatants to their bloodthirsty divinities? Will the usual Academy prohibitions on sexual fraternization be suspended for Wiccans to conduct Black Masses? It’s not easy to see how the officials in Colorado Springs think they can conveniently draw the line once they’ve committed themselves to honoring diversity of opinion on such a scale.