Category Archive 'Montana'
10 Nov 2010

One More Warmlist Entry

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It is always a good day for NYM when we are able to add one more dire effect to the Warmlist catalogue.

Julie Cart, at the LA Times, consults the environmental seers who explain that grizzly bear predation on humans in Wyoming and Montana results from Global Warming.

A number of complex factors are believed to be working against grizzlies, including climate change. Milder winters have allowed bark beetles to decimate the white-bark pine, whose nuts are a critical food source for grizzlies. Meanwhile, there has been a slight seasonal shift for plants that grizzlies rely on when they prepare to hibernate and when they emerge in the spring, changing the creatures’ denning habits.

The result, some biologists say, is that bears accustomed to feasting on berries and nuts in remote alpine areas are being pushed into a more meat-dependent diet that puts them on a collision course with the other dominant regional omnivore: humans.

Of course.

12 Jul 2009

Culture Wars in Bozeman

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Bridget Kevane, a professor at Montana State University and resident of Bozeman, left three younger children in the charge of her twelve year old daughter and a girlfriend at the local mall. The two older girls went to try on clothing in a dressing room leaving the younger siblings, aged 3, 7, and 8, alone and unattended by a store counter. Store employees seeing the children alone called mall security, which in turn summoned the police.

The professor soon found herself charged with child endangerment, being prosecuted by a city attorney determined to teach someone like herself a lesson.

The city attorney made no secret of the fact that her own parenting choices informed her decision in backing up the police officer. She told my lawyer in their first meeting that she also had a daughter and would never have left her at the mall. She also said she believed professors are incapable of seeing the real world around them because their “heads are always in a book.” Her first letter to my lawyer ended on a similar theme: “I just think that even individuals with major educations can commit this offense, and they should not be treated differently because they have more money or education.” Despite the fact that Montana professors are among the lowest paid in the nation, and that undoubtedly the prosecutor has a law degree herself, she nevertheless categorized me as someone trying to receive special treatment.

My lawyer and I came to understand that, more than anything, the city attorney wanted me to plead guilty, to admit that I had “violated a duty of care.” She wanted me to carry that crime with me for the rest of my life, a scarlet A that would symbolically humiliate me, teach me a lesson, and remain etched in my being.

I now realize that her pressure—her near obsession with having me plead guilty—had less to do with what I had done and more to do with her perception of me as an outsider who thought she was above the law, who had money to pay her way out of a mistake, who thought she was smarter than the Bozeman attorney because of her “major education.” This perception took hold even though I had never spoken one word to her directly. Nor did I ever speak in court; only my lawyer did. I was visible but silent, and thus unable to shake the image that the prosecutor had created of me: a rich, reckless, highly educated outsider mother who probably left her children all the time in order to read her books.

In our contemporary media-driven culture, stereotype images of wrong-doing identified by news programs and television dramas as pandemic problems float abundantly in the national subconscious ready to be applied. The progressive ideal of public activism and aggressive ameliorism promotes doing something about these supposed “problems,” treating the impulse to do things, to act in such a context as enlightened and responsible, even heroic.

Even a basically trivial incident like the one involving Professor Kevane’s children can easily today become the pretext for an avalanching tragedy of exaggeration and paranoia. In this case, ironically, we seem to find what should be expected to be the more conservative native residents, in a man-bites-dog situation, bringing the heavy burden of statist paternalism down upon a liberal university professor, who this time finds herself on the defensive and losing in the culture wars.

Hat tip to Judith Warner.

24 Feb 2009

“Made in Montana”

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More gun makers and gun owners ought to be hanging “For Sale” signs on their current properties and getting ready to move West. Why would Auto Ordinance want to stay in the Catskills or Smith & Wesson in the People’s Republic of Massachusetts, when there’s Montana?

Great Falls Tribune:

Montana lawmakers fired another shot in battles for states’ rights as they supported letting some Montana gun owners and dealers skip reporting their transactions to the federal government.

Under House Bill 246, firearms made in Montana and used in Montana would be exempt from federal regulation. The same would be true for firearm accessories and ammunition made and sold in the state.

“What we need here is for Montana to be able to handle Montana’s business and affairs,” Republican Rep. Joel Boniek told fellow lawmakers Saturday. The wilderness guide from Livingston defeated Republican incumbent Bruce Malcolm in last spring’s election.

Boniek’s measure aims to circumvent federal authority over interstate commerce, which is the legal basis for most gun regulation in the United States. The bill potentially could release Montanans from both federal gun registration requirements and dealership licensing rules. Since the state has no background-check laws on its own books, the legislation also could free gun purchasers from that requirement.

“Firearms are inextricably linked to the history and culture of Montana, and I’d like to support that,” Boniek said. “But I want to point out that the issue here is not about firearms. It’s about state rights.”

The House voted 64-36 for the bill on Saturday. If it clears a final vote, the measure will go to the Senate.

House Republicans were joined by 14 Democrats in passing the measure.

Hat tip to Bryan DiSalvatore.

05 Jan 2009

Alarm Over Increased Seismic Activity at Yellowstone

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You won’t need to worry about Global Warming if the Yellowstone Caldera decides to erupt.

London Times:

Hundreds of earthquakes have hit Yellowstone National Park, raising fears of a more powerful volcanic eruption.

The earthquake swarm, the biggest in more than 20 years, is being closely monitored by scientists and emergency authorities.

The series of small quakes included three last Friday which measured stronger than magnitude 3.0. The strongest since this latest swarm of quakes began on December 27 was 3.9.

No damage has yet been reported but scientists say this level of activity – there have been more than 500 tremors in the last week – is highly unusual.

“The earthquake sequence is the most intense in this area for some years,” said the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory. Some of the larger earthquakes have been felt by park employees and guests, according to the observatory.

The swarm is occurring beneath the northern part of Yellowstone Lake in the park. Yellowstone sits on the caldera of an ancient supervolcano and continuing geothermal activity can be seen in the picturesque geysers and steam holes, such as Old Faithful.

About 1,000 to 2,000 tremors a year have been recorded since 2004. …

Professor Robert B. Smith, a geophysicist at the University of Utah and one of the leading experts on earthquake and volcanic activity at Yellowstone, said that the swarm was significant.

“It’s not business as usual,” he said. “This is a large earthquake swarm, and we’ve recorded several hundred. We are paying careful attention. This is an important sequence.”

The last full-scale explosion of the Yellowstone Supervolcano, the Lava Creek eruption which happened approximately 640,000 years ago, ejected about 240 cubic miles of rock and dust into the sky.

Geologists have been closely monitoring the rise and fall of the Yellowstone Plateau as an indication of changes in magma chamber pressure.

The Yellowstone caldera floor has risen recently – almost 3in per year for the past three years – a rate more than three times greater than ever observed since such measurements began in 1923.

From mid-summer 2004 through to mid-summer 2008, the land surface within the caldera moved upwards as much as 8in at the White Lake GPS station. The last major earthquake swarm was in 1985 and lasted three months.

USGS Yellowstone Volcano Observatory site

Map of recent earthquakes

15 Sep 2008

Get the Geezers Off Those Bikes

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Is there any sight more ridiculous than some aging baby boomer peddling away in his spandex outfit and insectoid helmet on a bicycle? Bicycles are alright for small boys to use on paper routes or to get to the park to play baseball, but their use as a fitness tool by aging hippies is unseemly and undignified and only results in inconvenience to motorists and unnecessary accidents.

Not even the bears in the Rocky Mountain West are safe these days.

Last Thursday, UPI reports:

A 57-year-old man in Missoula, Mont., says he is lucky to be alive after accidentally crashing his bicycle into the side of a wild bear.

Middle school teacher Jim Litz said while he is no stranger to seeing bears during his daily commute along an area dirt road, this week he didn’t’ have time to avoid one of the wild animals that had wandered into his way, The (Missoula, Mont.) Missoulian said Thursday.

“I didn’t have time to respond. I never even hit my brakes,” Litz said of Monday’s accident.

The teacher said after the impact flipped him off his bike, the bear began clawing at him apparently in confusion and anger. That attack left Litz with scratches and bruises along most of his body.

While Litz admits to being sore and a bit clawed up following the unexpected crash, he says he is lucky to have survived the incident and holds no ill will toward the animal.

“I was lucky. I was truly lucky, because I accosted the bear and he let me live,” he told the Missoulian. “I truly respect them. They’re beautiful creatures.”

That bear may be “a beautiful creature,” but a spindle-shanked, potbellied goofball in day-glo spandex certainly is not.

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Last June, there was another incident of the same kind in Colorado, as the Rocky Mountain News reports:

A cyclist in Boulder County was injured after a run-in, literally, with a bear.

Tim Egan, 53, was riding on Old Stage Road Tuesday afternoon when suddenly a bear appeared in front of him. Egan hit the bear and ended up skidding across the road.

“This bear looked at me with a look of terror on his face and sort of made a noise,” said Egan. “I looked at him with a look of terror and we went, ‘aaaahhhhh.'”

He cracked some ribs, suffered cuts on his head and had road rash. Egan said he and the bike flipped and flew over the bear, hitting the pavement hard.

The bear ran away after the accident when a deer appeared.

Egan’s nephew ran to help the injured cyclist.

“When I tell people, they say ‘Right, are you kidding me, who hits a bear?'”

Egan estimated he was going about 45 miles per hour at impact. He said the bear was about 6 feet tall and probably weighed 500 pounds.

When are these bears going to wise up? A fully-digested bicyclist is a safe bicyclist, I always say.

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Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

02 Aug 2006

Five Foot Alligator Taken in Montana Pond

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An eleven year old boy fishing in Shady Lane Pond in Kalispell, Montana, a less than tropical location, hooked a 5 foot, 60 pound alligator, which was subsequently brought ashore and dispatched by a crowd of local Montanans.

The question is: how did the alligator manage to reach that size without encountering a Montana winter?

Daily Inter Lake

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