Thursday, December 30, 2010

Must be on my mind because I watched The Madness of King George last night and relished seeing the foppish figures in the Court

Tired of London, Tired of Life - One thing a day to do in London

A website about things to do in London

Inventor Ray Kurzweil explains his vision of the future: blended human/computer beings

WATCH THE REST OF THE SERIES: Ray Kurzweil tells us about his vision of the Singularity—a point around 2045 when computers will acquire full-blown artificial intelligence and technology will infuse itself with biology.

Large animal sanctuary residents transferred to Missoula

Defunct Niarada sanctuary: Momma llamas moved to Missoula

buy this photo Perry Backus - Ravalli Republic A pair of llamas give a visitor to the Safe Haven Llama and Alpaca Sanctuary the once over.
  • Momma llamas moved to Missoula
  • Momma llamas moved to Missoula
  • Momma llamas moved to Missoula

Related Stories

The first 30 of an estimated 700 llamas from a defunct animal sanctuary in Niarada arrived in Missoula late Tuesday afternoon.
The 30 momma llamas and cria were brought to the Missoula County Fairgrounds.
Minutes later, they left for a temporary home in the Bitterroot Valley after the driver decided it wasn't safe to unload the animals there because the llamas were too wild and didn't have halters.
The move was predicated on a need to get the llamas and their young out of the elements, said Steph Kassner, AniMeals volunteer coordinator.
"Having them here in Missoula should also provide quicker access for people considering adoption," she said.
AniMeals has taken the lead in caring for more than 1,000 animals left at the 400-acre Montana Large Animal Sanctuary, located 15 miles north of Hot Springs.
The sanctuary's owners, Brian and Kathryn Warrington, said they can no longer care for the animals after a funding source dried up.
Kassner said the decision to move the momma llamas and their babies was made after weather conditions deteriorated and volunteers weren't able to find adequate shelter for the newborns.
Some of the cria were just days old.
The organization also hopes that moving the animals closer to a population center will help in finding new homes for the llamas.
"We've had hundreds and hundreds of e-mails, phone calls and letters from people wanting to help, but we have not received a single adoption application for the llamas," she said.

That fact wouldn't surprise Char Hakes of the Safe Haven Llama and Alpaca Sanctuary in Corvallis.
Over this past year, that organization has adopted one llama. A year earlier, they adopted about eight.
"It's challenging to find homes for llamas right now," Hakes said.
The Corvallis facility currently houses about 65 llamas and 14 alpacas.
Those animals are wormed, vaccinated, and have their toenails trimmed on a regular basis, which is probably something that has not happened with the llamas from the Niarada sanctuary, she said.
Hakes has volunteered to help evaluate the Niarada llamas.
"I know there are a lot of males that haven't been gelded and there's probably some that have gone feral," Hakes said. "We're going to do whatever we can to help."
That probably will include some workshops for new llama owners over the next couple of months.
"Llamas have some specific needs," she said. "We can help show people what those are. ... Overall, llamas are easy keepers. It costs maybe $250 a year to care for them and that includes everything."
You can feed four llamas or up to six alpacas on the same amount of hay it takes to maintain one horse, Hakes said.
"Besides that, llamas are also quite peaceful animals to be around," she said.
Kassner said there are a lot of people wanting to help find new homes for the llamas.
"We've received e-mails from Texas, California, Canada and Washington from people willing to help," she said. "Llamas are hard to place. ... A lot of them are out of control, but we think in the right hands, they can be rehabilitated."
People can find an adoption application at in the blog section, which can be found about halfway down the homepage on the right-hand side. Look for the bunny and the kitten.
"We will expedite all of the applications that we receive," Kassner said.

In the meantime, the llamas will have a chance to get acclimated at the Missoula fairgrounds for a week or 10 days before the public will be allowed to come take a look, said Missoula fairgrounds director Steve Earle in a conversation before the llamas drop-off was called off.
"When we heard about this we basically put our arms out and told them we would do everything we can to help," Earle said.
The initial plan called for setting aside a portion of the fairgrounds as a sick bay, nursery and fitness center for the llamas that won't be open to the public.
"As they become more accustomed to people, we'll put their street shoes on and people will be encouraged to come and take a look," Earle said.
The fairgrounds has been a staging area to collect hay and feed for the ongoing rescue effort happening in Niarada.
"We've talked about a lot of different possibilities with AniMeals and now, all of a sudden, they are becoming reality," Earle said.

Efforts to find new homes for the remaining animals at the sanctuary are moving forward too.
Phyllis Ruana of the Montana Animal Care Association of Corvallis said the donkeys that arrived in the Bitterroot Valley two weeks ago are starting to be adopted.
"Two left yesterday," she said.
The focus for the groups charged with finding new homes for the sanctuary's equines is now on the estimated 80 horses that remain at the site.
"That's big numbers in an economy when you can find a free horse almost any day," Ruana said. "Most of them are in pretty good condition, but some do have severe hoof issues."
The groups are considering bringing some of the horses to the Hamilton area to receive medical and hoof treatment in preparation for adoption.
For that to happen, Ruana said they need to have volunteers ready to help feed, clean stalls and do other chores.
"These horses will need around the clock care after their hooves are trimmed for a period of time," she said. "We don't want to get too many here at one time. Our volunteers will wear out."
The decision on what will happen with the horses should be made soon.
"The llama thing is big, but the horse thing is big too," she said.
People interested in volunteering can e-mail Jane Heath at

Back and forth on the coke drums / big rigs

Snowy weather may delay controversial oil equipment shipments

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Even if ConocoPhillips gets permits to transport huge coke drums through northcentral Idaho, snowy weather as well as legal appeals could put a hold shipments.
A hearing officer recommended Tuesday the Idaho Transportation Department issue four permits to allow ConocoPhillips to ship its oversized oil-refinery equipment from Lewiston, Idaho to Montana along U.S. Highway 12.
But agency director Brian Ness still must issue the permits.
And Idaho Transportation Department spokesman Jeff Stratten says road conditions would need to be judged safe by the agency's Lewiston district engineer.
What's more, the oil company's trucking crew must return to Lewiston, and even shipment supporters say they expect foes to appeal hearing officer Merlyn Clark's recommendation.
If that happens, the coke drums could be stuck in Lewiston for months.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Starvation Winter for the Piegans

Montana History Almanac: Brutal winter claims lives of hundreds of Blackfeet

Dec. 26, 1883
A blizzard struck the northern plains of Montana, dropping temperatures well below zero. It signaled the start of the "Starvation Winter" for the Piegans, a stretch of more than a year that resulted in the deaths of as many as 600 men, women and children. More than one in every six Blackfeet in Montana Territory succumbed.
The weather was bad, but circumstances at the government agency on Little Badger Creek made it worse. Buffalo herds that had darkened the plains in the years before the railroad arrived were all but gone, as were the antelope. What meager government supplies that arrived at the agency were quickly depleted. Crops that the Blackfeet had been taught to grow were doomed by lack of adequate irrigation. An outbreak of smallpox dealt a lethal blow.
Bodies were piled on top of hills near the agency, ever after known as Ghost Ridge.
"From that time period on," the late Pikuni historian Curly Bear Wagner said in a 2001 interview, "our chiefs looked at our children and seen that they were hungry and so the only thing we had to bargain with was our land, and so we sell off big portions of our land like Glacier National Park, the Sweetgrass Hills, places that were important to our people. But the chiefs looked at our younger people and thought that they were more important for their survival so this is how the United States government started grabbing up our land. And when they grabbed up that land they started opening it up to free settlers."

Here's one for Danny-Boy

Time to curl: New club brings popular sport to Missoula

ARTICLE: Hang up the skates, they ruin the ice anyway. Grab a broom and slip on a Teflon slipper instead - it'll help you scoot around on the ice. Now, just slide a 42-pound round, granite stone down the ice, aiming to land it right on the "button" or bull's-eye. "Simple," sai…

Friday, December 24, 2010

Moved to investigate this blog by the stifado I had tonight - Mediterranean cooking for Northerners

We've all seen at least one of these tricks

Early warning about scams, corporate scams, work-arounds, and everything she's interested in: just scroll down

Celebration for everybody takes combined effort: Elderly, homeless given reason to party.

Elderly, homeless given reason to party
By Bill Johnson
Denver Post Columnist
Posted: 12/17/2010 01:00:00 AM MST
It was either the most joyous event I have witnessed or the most outrageously sad.
They arrived at the little brown brick building on East 18th Avenue on Thursday in wheelchairs, on walkers, with crutches and canes. The youngest was 55. The oldest was 92.
It was holiday-party day at Senior Support Services. For the more than 250 people who came, it meant a free meal, a bit of socializing and a small hand-sewn bag filled with gifts, a toothbrush, a flashlight and a pack of gum.
This was a large group of genuinely happy people. For one day, at least, they would not have to stand in a soup line waiting to be fed. Instead, they were seated at tables. Volunteers waited on them, handed them presents.
When we were kids, we called them "old folks." Nearly half, I was told, had fought in the country's wars.
Nearly as many, I was told, are homeless.
You stand there, look at the faces and wonder if this is what we have become as a nation. If a 92-year-old man who worked and served in the military has no place to call his own, well, are there any guarantees for any of us?
When it was over, Molly Ream, the director of development, stood exhausted in her back office, watching over an elderly man named Cornell, who lay splayed in a chair, breathing oxygen while awaiting the paramedics.
"This was an amazing day," she said, gently rubbing Cornell's shoulder and reassuring him things would be OK.
She had been up since the night before because she was forced to prepare five hams and 18 chickens for the party when a promised donation of cooked turkeys fell through.
She was homeless in 2007 when her job disappeared. She landed this job two years ago. She loves it.
"I get to see the best of humanity every day," she said.
She sees it, she said, in the volunteers. The center is open every day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., providing its clients three meals a day and a place to stay warm and socialize between the time the shelters close down and reopen.
"We assume a lot of things about the homeless," she said. "Some of it is correct. Most of it is wrong.
"I see them as survivors. Others see them as failures. To me, they are human testimony to sheer will, the ability to survive horrible circumstances."
Two hundred people a day on average come to the center. Many are new to it. In previous years, the number of newly homeless people who registered at the center averaged 50 per month. The average now is about 90.
"There is really no excuse for it in America," Ream said, "that older people in this country should have no one to care for them."
All that people at the center want and need, she explained, is love, a little kindness, a little care.
At 1 p.m., the center is shut down so the staff and volunteers can clean post-party. It is clear some clients have no idea what to do or where to go. So they mill about or sit on the grass outside and stare into the windows.
I ask Molly Ream, who sees this every day, if it ever gets to her. She double-takes before smiling broadly.
"Every night, I ask myself what they would do if we weren't here," she said. "I also tell myself I did what I could today. I have to let it go or I'll become bitter.
"I don't want that. I want to be kind."

A blog about history in the broadest sense: archaeology, modern history, and lots from in between

Well, he does mention academics -- below the fold, though.

UM named a top college for winter enthusiasts

buy this photo A University of Montana student shows her enthusiasm for the local winter recreation scene during graduation. Photo by KURT WILSON/Missoulian
U.S. News & World Report has named the University of Montana one of the nation's best colleges for winter enthusiasts.
On a day when the Garden City awoke to four inches of fresh snow, maybe the news comes as no surprise to Missoulians.
UM is accompanied by seven other schools including the University of Colorado - Boulder, Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, Middlebury College in Vermont and Sierra Nevada College near Lake Tahoe.
U.S. News & World Report, which releases college rankings on everything from the cost of tuition to student demographics, recognized UM for its "dogsled races, downhill skiing and cross-country skiing and snowmobiling all within a short distance of campus," wrote Ryan Lytle, the magazine's education web producer.
The write up also touts Missoula's New Year's Eve celebration, "First Night Missoula," a drug-free event involving music, dance, crafts, comedy and an ice sculpture competition.
"We've known for quite some time that many students cite that they love the opportunities for winter sports at all levels from backcountry skiing to our wonderful ski areas around here," said Jed Liston, UM's assistant vice president of enrollment. "That's a factor for (students) coming here."
It's not the only reason, however.
A student's attraction to all outdoor opportunities here is often one of many factors considered when choosing a college, he said. Academics are an equally important factor when choosing where to go to school.
So, while UM is honored to receive such accolades, Liston said students won't decide on a school based off a college rankings list.
"As people look at this list, it develops name recognition," he said. "The students out there saying, ‘I love winter sports,' they'll find that list. And they'll bounce that list off the other things they're looking for. The college selection process is very multi-faceted."
Students' outdoor interests in Missoula go far beyond just winter sports.
"Like many of us in Missoula, students snowboard in the winter and kayak in the summer," Liston said. "The nice thing about our location and western Montana is all of that is accessible. We have a lot of students that do all outdoor sports."
All, perhaps, but human dogsled racing, which is noted in the article as an event celebrated at Dartmouth College.
To view the entire list of colleges for winter enthusiasts, go to There's an opportunity at the end of the slideshow to vote for the best college for winter enthusiasts.

Funny dog comic

Not something I'm eager to try, but I watch out for these warriors.

Missoula cyclists offer advice on icy biking 

buy this photo University of Montana graduate student Nate Keck navigates the snowpacked sidewalks along South Avenue in Missoula on Monday on his way to school. “Every day, I ride to school and around town. I ride all winter long, for grocery shopping or whatever.” Photo by MICHAEL GALLACHER/Missoulian
  • 122310 bikn'snow1 mg.jpg
  • 122310 bikn'snow2 mg.jpg
  • 122310 bikn'snow3 mg.jpg

Survival tips for winter biking

Keep your weight over your back tire. Leaning forward can make the front tire slip sideways, resulting in a nasty splat. Likewise depending on your front brake can trigger a spill.
If you've got a choice, pick disc brakes over rim brakes. They grip better in wet conditions and don't get blocked by ice build-up as easily.
If it's really cold (15 degrees or less), wear clothing you can shed or vent. Despite the chill, you work up a lot of heat pedaling, and you don't want all that sweat to soak and freeze you.
Be extra-vigilant about visible clothing and traveling lights. Winter biking will often force you into car lanes, and all travelers are less able to stop and maneuver. Don't be a blind spot.
Knobby tires are good. Studs are better.
Check your bike after a winter ride. Gritty snow and de-icer puddles can ruin chains and gum up cables and gears. Be prepared for frequent cleaning.
Speaking of magnesium chloride, the stuff can really stain clothi
If it wasn't hard enough to get around Missoula in winter, try it on a bicycle.
"It's not about survival - it's more about just fun," said University of Montana graduate student Nate Keck as he headed back to his job at the Skaggs Building. "Every day, I ride to school and around town. I ride all winter long, for grocery shopping or whatever. I use a trailer for shopping."
Keck has mounted a wide, studded tire on the front of his Raleigh single-speed bike, with a thinner road tire on the back. He likes the combination of traction and speed the mixed set provides, although he admitted rear studs would be nice - once his budget allows for the purchase.
"I don't have studded tires, although I wish I did," Joe Loviska said as he whisked down the new bike lanes on North Higgins Avenue. "You just need to keep your weight back and don't use your front brake as much. Otherwise, if you get at all sideways, you'll lock up and wash out."
Front bike tires are perhaps the weakest link in an already tenuous transportation scheme during the wintery months. They are easily diverted by frozen ruts and stiff drifts. On ice, the front wheel is prone to collapsing if the rider leans too far forward. Even applying the front brakes can trigger a slide.
Beefing up the front tire helps. Knobby tires make a difference, but serious control freaks want steel on the ground. Very short sheet metal screws do the trick.
"It takes about half an hour," Loviska said of do-it-your-self stud jobs. If that's too much of a technical challenge, your wallet can solve the problem for about $60 a tire. Knobby tires run about half that.
One thing both agreed on was that disc brakes do a better job in winter than traditional rim-grabbers. They don't get as wet, and aren't prone to collecting films of ice that rob stopping power.
"Rim brakes get plugged with snow," Keck said. "Then they'll just squeak and you'll never stop."
The magnesium chloride de-icing fluid snowplow trucks spray on some Missoula streets leaves mixed blessings for bikers. While it does improve the traction, it can wreck a bike over time.
"Keeping that stuff off you and your bike really helps," said Dan Dahlberg of Open Road Bicycles. "It takes its toll on every part of the bike. Your chain and your whole drive train are going to get beat up."
Magnesium chloride can leave a gummy residue that clogs cable housings and derailleurs. Road sand is equally tough on moving parts, and can cause chains to snap if they get too worn. Dahlberg recommended rinsing your bike with clean water regularly during the winter and keeping it well lubricated with grease.
For downtown biker Guido Baiocchi, fenders are another winter essential.
"Getting snow all over is nasty," he said. And because sidewalks and bike lanes are often unplowed most of the day, he usually finds himself riding in the puddles alongside the cars. That also explains his double headlights and big rear flasher.
"The key is having all your lights, reflectors and visible clothing," Baiocchi said.
At Hellgate Cyclery, owner Dave Hartman has already sold out of the best idea he's seen for winter riding: the $1,500 Salsa Mukluk bike with 4-inch, low-pressure snow tires.
"It looks like a motorcycle without the motor," Hartman said. "As soon as I got them, I sold them. Now they're backordered until March."
Hartman said one of his buyers rides it regularly to work but also likes to take it into the Rattlesnake Wilderness. The rider reported that cross-country skiers thanked him for leaving their trails in better condition than before he rode them.
Hartman himself commutes to work in a much more summery looking All City motocross bike equipped with studded tired and long fenders.
"There were a few days when I wouldn't want to walk on the ice but had no problems riding," he said. "It makes it interesting getting to work. It keeps you on your toes."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Low-power FM wins a huge victory for communities

Community radio advocates are celebrating a major victory after the Senate approved the Local Community Radio Act on Saturday, one day after its passage in the House. The bill will open up more of the radio dial for Low Power FM, with the FCC now mandated to license thousands of new stations. We speak with Hannah Sassaman of the Philadelphia-based Prometheus Radio Project. [includes rush transcript]
Hannah Sassaman, longtime organizer at the Philadelphia-based Prometheus Radio Project -- Low-power FM streaming mighty tasty sounds.

Now Playing News From the Front Porch (our Blog)

Support the station by making
all your Amazon purchases through our link.

It's all about the Music.
Jazz, Blues, Folk, Bluegrass and more...

Hi, and welcome to the Montana Radio Café!
The September 8, 2009 edition of the New York Times carried a story on the Montana Radio Cafe, focusing on the station, Scott, and low power FM radio stations. Read it here and watch the slideshow they put together of images and audio. It's a fantastic article and a huge honor.
If you came here via the Times story, welcome and thanks for stopping by!
Our station was born out of the desire for a radio station that plays great music that no one else plays. After around 18 years of playing music that everyone had heard a billion times, and for purely commercial reasons, Scott Johnston seized the opportunity to start a music driven low power station broadcasting from the studio he built on his front porch. He now has a library that comprises over 21,000 songs.
From family and friends to strangers in foreign places, the Montana Radio Cafe has become an infectious hit. Check out the blog posts here from the Flathead Beacon, by Myers Reece.
We are a listener supported radio station, and appreciate the tax-deductible contributions made by friends new and old, near and far. Click here to learn more about how you can help keep us on the air.

If you're hungry for something different,
try out the menu at the Montana Radio Cafe!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

From Daily Beast: How iPhone Apps Track Us

If you use a smartphone, there's no telling what personal information it is leaking. What seems certain is that they are sharing personal data, without users' knowledge. An investigation by The Wall Street Journal surveyed 101 popular smartphone apps for iPhone and Android models and found that 56 of them secretly transmitted the phone's Unique Device Identifier (UDID) to other companies. Forty-seven also gave away the phone's location. And five transmitted age, gender, and other personal details to outside tracking companies. One of the most popular offenders was the Pandora app, which sent age, gender, location, and phone identifiers to various online advertisers through iPhone and Android phones. "The great thing about mobile is you can't clear a UDID like you can a cookie," said one Internet ad network employee. "That's how we track everything."

Read it at The Wall Street Journal

MUTTS: my favorite strip, and not just because I 'have' a dog.

Mutts logo
pick-aprint! latest news!

Garden City Harvest is working to build a community that produces its own food

Local farming gurus from Garden City Harvest win national awards
buy this photo Garden manager Greg Price gathers chicken eggs at the River Road Neighborhood Farm and Community Garden on Tuesday. Price recently won a “Garden Crusader” award for “Feeding the Hungry,” one of 21 awarded from some 800 nominations. The farm donates food to the Poverello Center. Photo by TOM BAUER/Missoulian
Garden City Harvest is tying the ribbon on a banner year for its local food and farmers.
For the first time, the Montana Wildlife Federation honored an agriculturalist with its Don Aldrich Conservationist of the Year award. It went to Josh Slotnick, a Garden City Harvest founder.
Slotnick started the PEAS Farm in the Rattlesnake with the University of Montana Environmental Studies program, and also operates Clark Fork Organics with his family.
Federation board president Tim Aldrich, son of Don Aldrich, said Tuesday more and more people are seeing the importance of conserving agricultural land for all kinds of reasons, not just for food. Farmland also is critical for things like air quality and water quality.
"I think it's one of the most important types of open space, personally," Aldrich said.
Garden City Harvest aims to build a community that produces its own food. To revive what it describes as a regional tradition, the organization runs a variety of programs including the PEAS Farm and community gardens.

In another milestone - this one worth a $750 shopping spree - Garden City Harvest's Greg Price was named a 2010 "Garden Crusader" by the Gardener's Supply Co. Price, garden manager for the River Road Neighborhood Farm and Community Garden, earned the national second-place award for "Feeding the Hungry."
Out of some 800 nominations from across the country, the employee-owned Vermont company selects 21 "Garden Crusaders" for their work in education, urban renewal, restoration and feeding people who are hungry.
Price could have been awarded in all categories, said Garden City Harvest board member Jodi Allison-Bunnell. She nominated Price in part for his "exemplary" work with the Poverello Center.
Other farmers are constantly impressed by the yield Price gets from the River Road land, Allison-Bunnell said. That farm and the PEAS Farm produced more than 20,000 pounds of food in 2010 for the Poverello and the Missoula Food Bank.
One reason he's successful is Price does a lot of work by hand, and he enlists volunteers to do a lot of weeding by hand, too.
"That tractor doesn't go out very many times a year," Allison-Bunnell said.
Price also knows how to use every last inch of kale. Allison-Bunnell said the farmer used to cook in a restaurant, so he knows how to cook tasty soup out of "tomato butts," and he's a font of information for others.
"He really knows how to stretch food, so he knows food from planting to eating and everything in between," she said.
Price said a Gardener's Supply Co. catalog is being passed among farm folks to figure out the best way to spend the $750 award. Come January, when farmers start ordering seed, Garden City Harvest will put in an order for supplies, too.
The local food movement has flourished in recent years, but Price said work remains to strengthen small farms. Supporters will keep chipping away at larger barriers, such as the cost of land.
In the winter, Price works as a substitute teacher, and lessons from the farm make their way into the classroom. When students complain about math problems, he talks to them about planting even rows of vegetables spaced just so.
"I tell them all the math that a farmer does," Price said.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mirror finder

Use this finder to automatically link to an functioning
mirror of Wikileaks materials:
Complete list is at:

Monday, December 13, 2010

So tired of walking on ice down in Missoula; maybe I'll try the highlands

Proceeds from Discovery ski tickets to benefit Max Wave

Let’s all ski and snowboard next Sunday in the name of surfing.
On Dec. 19, Discovery Ski Area, located near Georgetown Lake,  is donating $10 of every $38 adult lift ticket sold to The Max Wave.
The Max Wave is a Missoula organization that is raising funds to build a new wave on the Clark Fork River in downtown Missoula.
“It is important to give back to the communities who support us every winter,” said Ciche Pitcher, vice president of operations at Discovery. “Many skiers and boarders are also river runners, and Missoula’s surf waves provide a fantastic summer activity for all ages and a popular attraction to western Montana.”
The wave was named in honor of Max Lentz, a 17-year-old Hellgate High School student, who died in a kayak accident in 2007 on West Virginia’s Gauley River.
The wave will be located close to McCormick Park, across from Ogren Park Allegiance Field.
Let’s hit the slopes and feel warm and fuzzy doing it. Buy a lift ticket at Discovery Ski Area on Sunday, Dec. 19.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

What did I hear outside my house last night?

Growing deer population seeks winter eats in Missoula

Growing deer population seeks winter eats in Missoula
buy this photo A young whitetail deer lunches on an evergreen at a home in the University Area of Missoula last week. Winter can be hard on our four-legged friends, but it can also be hard on your landscaping. Photo by MICHAEL GALLACHER/Missoulian
  • 121110 urban deer mg
  • 121110 elk
If a deer eats your landscaping but there's no snow to record their tracks, is it still aggravating?
Gardeners are noticing dug-up shrubs and cleared lawns, thanks to the earlier-than-usual snow cover this year.
Area wildlife experts say the snow hasn't changed feeding patterns, but the number of urban deer is growing troublesome.
"It seems like I'm seeing more deer than ever before in the Missoula urban area," said Peter Colb, the Montana State University Extension Service forester and University of Montana forestry professor. "For the past 14 years, I've been walking to campus; it's only this year when I've had to twice jump off the sidewalk because of stampeding deer."
Arborvitae, dogwood, young fruit trees and other shrubbery are favorite targets for deer year-round. Combine those offerings with a helpful-but-clueless neighbor who puts out grain or other feed, and you've got a magnet to draw wildlife into the streetscape.
"Urban areas provide browse that's not available in surrounding areas, wind breaks and protection from predators," said MSU Extension wildlife specialist Jim Knight. "Over generations, they start taking advantage of that. If they have little bit of food, they'll stay there instead of moving out to wild areas where they'll find more suitable food."
That's a problem for the deer, too. Their digestive systems depend on microflora - types of bacteria that help break down specific kinds of plants. If they spend too much time eating landscaping they're not adapted for, deer can literally starve to death on a full stomach, Knight said.
"Smaller deer are more desperate," Knight said. "This year's fawns don't know alternate places to feed. That's why you see fuzzy-faced deer - their hair follicles have lost their fat, so the hair just stands up. They don't have the fat reserves that older deer do."
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokeswoman Vivica Crowser said her office is constantly trying to remind people to let wild animals fend for themselves. While many think they're helping out struggling deer, in fact they're making life more dangerous.
"Setting out food tends to concentrate the deer, and that gets attractive for mountain lions and then becomes a safety concern," Crowser said. Congregating around unnatural food can also help spread disease and cause other health problems, she said.
Bitterroot Valley residents have noticed a (literally) bigger problem this winter: elk hanging around in fields where they were rarely seen before. FWP wildlife biologist Craig Jourdonnais said he's been working with farmers to address the issue before the elk wear out their welcome.
"Many of the landowners aren't set up with protection for haystacks and aren't used to dealing with elk," Jourdonnais said. "Landowners that don't have livestock in their pastures now should open gates or drop wires to let the elk move easier through the pastures. That will lower the damage to fences."
Fortunately, Montana wildlife have been foraging for themselves long before we started beautifying yards and parks. The fact their forays can be traced by marks in the snow doesn't indicate new trouble.
"They've got to find food all winter long," Crowser said. "Having a little earlier snow won't make a difference that much. But what we'd prefer them to do is find it outside yards."

Friday, December 3, 2010

Latest updates on Wikileaks - posted material critiqued

A new life form discovered on Earth changes how they'll look for life on other planets

Friday, December 3, 2010 02:54 AM


Felisa Wolfe-Simon, a NASA astrobiologist, found the microbe in the mud of Mono Lake, an alkaline- and arsenic-rich lake near Yosemite National Park.
Henry Bortman | New York Times
Felisa Wolfe-Simon, a NASA astrobiologist, found the microbe in the mud of Mono Lake, an alkaline- and arsenic-rich lake near Yosemite National Park.
NASA scientists announced yesterday that a new life form discovered on Earth changes how they'll look for life on other planets.
The potato-shape microbe found living in the mud of a poisonous California lake doesn't look special. But it can do something no other known organism can - thrive in arsenic and actually use the toxin in its DNA.
That something can live in such a poisonous place offers hope of finding life on planets that are unlike our own, the scientists said during a media briefing.
"We found that not only did this microbe cope and deal with the toxicity but that it grew and it thrived," said Felisa Wolfe-Simon, an astrobiologist who led the NASA research team that found and studied the microbe.
"I've always insisted in exceptions to the rule."
The rule, in this case, is that all life on Earth springs from six basic elemental building blocks: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur. But tests showed the bacteria the team found - it was named GFAJ-1 - used arsenic as a replacement for phosphorus, something previously considered impossible.
Phosphorus, for example, is a key ingredient of energy-carrying molecules in all cells and helps form cell membranes. Arsenic, which is chemically similar to phosphorus, is poisonous because it disrupts those processes and cell structures.
Wolfe-Simon found the microbe in the mud at Mono Lake, an alkaline- and arsenic-rich lake near Yosemite National Park. Her research, published in the journal Science, involved taking bacteria-rich mud from that lake and looking for microbes.
They found GFAJ-1 and watched its behavior.
The findings are almost certain to be studied and challenged for years by microbiologists across the globe. Skeptics include Steven Brenner, a fellow at the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution in Gainesville, Fla.
"This is an exceptional result," said Brenner, who was invited by NASA to answer questions yesterday. "Chemists will require exceptional evidence to prove it."
Questions include whether arsenic completely or partially replaces phosphorus in the bacteria's DNA. Results show some phosphorus remains in the bacteria, but at levels Wolfe-Simon said are too small to make a difference.
"There is absolutely some phosphorus left in these cells, but it's not enough to support the growth that occurred," she said. "It's just flat-out too little."
Even skeptics say they are intrigued by the discovery.
"This organism has normal DNA, but it has the ability to incorporate arsenic at some level, which is amazing, really," said John Reeve, an Ohio State University microbiologist who studies "thermophiles" - organisms that live in inhospitable places, such as volcanic thermal vents in Yellowstone National Park and on ocean floors.
Reeve said that, until the 1980s, most people thought life couldn't exist in the vents' super-hot environment.
"Certainly you couldn't imagine something living in literally boiling temperatures," he said. "If you go to Yellowstone or these deep sea vents, there are organisms that virtually depend on this."
Even Brenner speculated that arsenic might be a better building block for life on other planets because it is more reactive than phosphorus.
He said life might prefer arsenic over phosphorus on Titan, a large moon of Saturn where the temperature dips to 290 degrees below zero.
The news follows a study announced this week that suggests there are 300 sextillion stars - three times as many as scientists previously calculated.
The more stars there are, the more planets there are. And that's more places for life to exist.

Editorial & Political Cartoons by Jeff Stahler: Search

Editorial & Political Cartoons by Jeff Stahler: Search

Help the 99ers: get them to cut through the obstructionists

Last July, Congress extended federal unemployment benefits for people who had been out of work up to 99 weeks. But for the millions of Americans who have been jobless longer than that -- the "99ers" -- there will be no more checks coming.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Don't miss the cranky comments . So Missoula!

Schweitzer, don’t back oil sands project

Guest column by ANNICK SMITH | Posted: Friday, October 15, 2010 8:00 am
Dear Gov. Brian Schweitzer,
I remember the stirring speech you gave at the Democratic National Convention in 2008: "We face a great new challenge, one that threatens our economy, our security, our climate and our very way of life. ... This costly reliance on fossil fuels threatens America and the world ... We need a new energy system that is clean, green and American-made."
That day I was proud of my governor for being on the side of the future. Now, I'm not so proud. These days you say, "We need energy and the safest supply right now is coming from places like Alberta," meaning the dirtiest type of fossil fuel, extracted from tar sands. And then you say, "this is conflict-free oil."
I'm afraid, governor, that Alberta's tar sands oil is in no way conflict-free. Putting aside big-time environmental objections, let's focus on conflicts in Montana. The equipment necessary to mine and extract tar sands oil is gigantic. It is manufactured in Asia, not in the U.S. or Canada. Super trucks are needed to haul super machines, and the shortest, cheapest way to haul them from South Korea to Alberta is across the Pacific, up the Columbia and Snake rivers, then overland through Idaho and Montana. We will be the sacrifice zone for super profits for multinational corporations such as Exxon and Conoco, and foreign countries such as Holland, South Korea and Canada. Their plans, which your administration seems to be backing, would transform Highway 12 - a national scenic byway along the Clearwater and Lochsa rivers - and Highway 200, along the world-famous "River (That) Runs Through It" - into a permanent industrial corridor.
Big rigs are 220 feet long, up to 29 feet wide and 30 feet tall, and when loaded will weigh up to 650,000 pounds. They will take up both lanes of highways 12 and 200 - narrow, winding, cliffside roads - and are heavier and longer vehicles than any two-lane in Montana was built to hold. Accidents are sure to happen. Only a couple of weeks ago, a diesel tanker slipped off Highway 12 and spilled 7,500 gallons of fuel, endangering the Lochsa River. What if it had been a big rig?
Think of what's coming. It's like a monster movie. Every night for who knows how many months, giant mechanical beasts will traverse our countryside and pass through towns such as Lolo, Missoula and Lincoln. They will delay emergency services and local traffic, depress property values, destroy historic and archeological sites, and harm tourism and recreational businesses that are the lifeblood of our communities.
In exchange, what will Montana get? As you, yourself, have said, "Since when has (an) oil company ever been interested in jobs? Let's be honest ... it's green technology that is creating the most jobs right now ... 10 times more than any other sector."
Here's what we'll get: low-paying jobs for highway workers who hold the stop-and-go signs on Lolo Pass and Rogers Pass in sub-zero temperatures; some work for police and local contractors; a few million dollars for state coffers that will in no way offset the profits the oil companies will reap by taking our shortcut. And what will Montanans pay? Taxes, of course, due in the long run to repair our damaged infrastructure; defaced rivers and valleys; and a probable net loss of jobs from tourism and recreation.
But it' not too late. We don't have to be a colonial state. This insult to our way of life can be stopped before it starts. Please, governor, return to your call for green energy and help the concerned citizens of Montana stop the big rigs from running over us. We've seen enough damage from heedless corporations to learn our lesson. Just look at the BP oil disaster in the Gulf; Massey's coal miner deaths in West Virginia; the dead and still dying people in Libby.
As a longtime resident of the Blackfoot Valley who loves her home place, as a grandmother who wants to pass the Montana she prizes on to her three granddaughters - and on behalf of hundreds others determined to protect our way of life - I suggest that you and your administration rethink your policies and keep those big rigs off our roads.
Annick Smith is a writer and filmmaker who lives in the Blackfoot Valley.
Comments at:

Monday, November 29, 2010

Stop These Wars - protest on Dec. 16

Real Hope Is About Doing Something
Monday 29 November 2010
by: Chris Hedges  |  Truthdig | Op-Ed

On Dec. 16 I will join Daniel Ellsberg, Medea Benjamin, Ray McGovern and several military veteran activists outside the White House to protest the futile and endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of us will, after our rally in Lafayette Park, attempt to chain ourselves to the fence outside the White House. It is a pretty good bet we will all spend a night in jail. Hope, from now on, will look like this.
Hope is not trusting in the ultimate goodness of Barack Obama, who, like Herod of old, sold out his people. It is not having a positive attitude or pretending that happy thoughts and false optimism will make the world better. Hope is not about chanting packaged campaign slogans or trusting in the better nature of the Democratic Party. Hope does not mean that our protests will suddenly awaken the dead consciences, the atrophied souls, of the plutocrats running Halliburton, Goldman Sachs, ExxonMobil or the government.
Hope does not mean we will halt the firing in Afghanistan of the next Hellfire missile, whose explosive blast sucks the oxygen out of the air and leaves the dead, including children, scattered like limp rag dolls on the ground. Hope does not mean we will reform Wall Street swindlers and speculators, or halt the pillaging of our economy as we print $600 billion in new money with the desperation of all collapsing states. Hope does not mean that the nation’s ministers and rabbis, who know the words of the great Hebrew prophets, will leave their houses of worship to practice the religious beliefs they preach. Most clerics like fine, abstract words about justice and full collection plates, but know little of real hope.
Also See: Chris Hedges | Power and the Tiny Acts of Rebellion
Hope knows that unless we physically defy government control we are complicit in the violence of the state. All who resist keep hope alive. All who succumb to fear, despair and apathy become enemies of hope. They become, in their passivity, agents of injustice. If the enemies of hope are finally victorious, the poison of violence will become not only the language of power but the language of opposition. And those who resist with nonviolence are in times like these the thin line of defense between a civil society and its disintegration.
Hope has a cost. Hope is not comfortable or easy. Hope requires personal risk. Hope does not come with the right attitude. Hope is not about peace of mind. Hope is an action. Hope is doing something. The more futile, the more useless, the more irrelevant and incomprehensible an act of rebellion is, the vaster and the more potent hope becomes. Hope never makes sense. Hope is weak, unorganized and absurd. Hope, which is always nonviolent, exposes in its powerlessness the lies, fraud and coercion employed by the state. Hope does not believe in force. Hope knows that an injustice visited on our neighbor is an injustice visited on us all. Hope posits that people are drawn to the good by the good. This is the secret of hope’s power and it is why it can never finally be defeated. Hope demands for others what we demand for ourselves. Hope does not separate us from them. Hope sees in our enemy our own face.
Help fight ignorance. Click here for free Truthout email updates.
Hope is not for the practical and the sophisticated, the cynics and the complacent, the defeated and the fearful. Hope is what the corporate state, which saturates our airwaves with lies, seeks to obliterate. Hope is what our corporate overlords are determined to crush. Be afraid, they tell us. Surrender your liberties to us so we can make the world safe from terror. Don’t resist. Embrace the alienation of our cheerful conformity. Buy our products. Without them you are worthless. Become our brands. Do not look up from your electronic hallucinations to think. No. Above all do not think. Obey.
W.H. Auden wrote:
Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.
The powerful do not understand hope. Hope is not part of their vocabulary. They speak in the cold, dead words of national security, global markets, electoral strategy, staying on message, image and money. The powerful protect their own. They divide the world into the damned and the blessed, the patriots and the enemy, the rich and the poor. They insist that extinguishing lives in foreign wars or in our prison complexes is a form of human progress. They cannot see that the suffering of a child in Gaza or a child in the blighted pockets of Washington, D.C., diminishes and impoverishes us all. They are deaf, dumb and blind to hope. Those addicted to power, blinded by self-exaltation, cannot decipher the words of hope any more than most of us can decipher hieroglyphics. Hope to Wall Street bankers and politicians, to the masters of war and commerce, is not practical. It is gibberish. It means nothing.
I cannot promise you fine weather or an easy time. I cannot assure you that thousands will converge on Lafayette Park in solidarity. I cannot pretend that being handcuffed is pleasant. I cannot say that anyone in Congress or the White House, anyone in the boardrooms of the corporations that cannibalize our nation, will be moved by pity to act for the common good. I cannot tell you these wars will end or the hungry will be fed. I cannot say that justice will roll down like a mighty wave and restore our nation to sanity. But I can say this: If we resist and carry out acts, no matter how small, of open defiance, hope will not be extinguished. If all we accomplish is to assure a grieving mother in Baghdad or Afghanistan, a young man or woman crippled physically and emotionally by the hammer blows of war, that he or she is not alone, our resistance will be successful. Hope cannot be sustained if it cannot be seen.
Any act of rebellion, any physical defiance of those who make war, of those who perpetuate corporate greed and are responsible for state crimes, anything that seeks to draw the good to the good, nourishes our souls and holds out the possibility that we can touch and transform the souls of others. Hope affirms that which we must affirm. And every act that imparts hope is a victory in itself.
Also from Auden:
Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.
Chris Hedges is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute. His newest book is “Death of the Liberal Class.” More information on the Dec. 16 protest can be found at

And HBO is next to go down for airing Gasland?

Opposing controversial oil- and gas-drilling practices is a prelude to terrorism, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Homeland Security.

Apologies to my own elder friends -- but I know they aren't watching Faux News anyway.

the future of magazines and destination websites

Alexis Madrigal on the future of magazines and destination websites. A rosy future as soon as they figure it all out?

Having a good time with a Kindle simulacrum

I'm lately very pleased with the Kindle-for-PC page that Amazon has gotten up for the holidays.  Also billed as "The Best Reading Experience for Your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, or Android Phone". Download and read Kindle books - no Kindle required.

This means I can browse books forever, including a fair number of free books, and adjust the type size more easily than with Firefox. I may even buy some titles, if they can tempt me enough.