Monday, November 14, 2016

The fist-fighting nerds of the Bronx High School of Science (and more News of the Weird)

Posted By on Mon, Nov 14, 2016 at 9:00 AM

The Nanny State
New York City officially began licensing professional fire eaters earlier this year, and classes have sprung up to teach the art so that the city’s Fire Department Explosives Unit can test for competence (if not “judgment”) and issue the “E29” certificates. In the “bad old (license-less) days,” a veteran fire eater told The New York Times in October, a “bunch of us” performed regularly for $50 a throw, largely oblivious of the dangers (though some admit that almost everyone eventually gets “badly burned”). For authenticity, the Times writer, a fire eater who dubbed herself Lady Aye, completed the licensing process herself (“as sexy as applying for a mortgage”), but declined to say whether she is awaiting bookings.

Bright Ideas

A major streetlight in the town of Pebmarsh Close, England, went out of service when a truck hit it a year ago, and despite pleas to fix it from townspeople—and Essex county councillor Dave Harris—no action has been taken. In October, Harris staged a “birthday party” on the site, formally inviting numerous guests, and furnishing a birthday cake—to “celebrate” the “age” of the broken streetlight. (The shamed county highway office quickly promised action.)

Prominent British radio host Dame Jenni Murray suggested in October that the U.K. scrap traditional “sex education” courses in school and instead show pornographic videos for classes to “analyze it in exactly the same way as (they analyze Jane Austen)” in order to encourage discussion of the role of sex. Younger students might explore why a boy should not look up a girl’s skirt, but older students would view hard-core material to confront, for example, whether normal women should “shave” or make the typical screeching moans that porno “actresses” make. Dame Jenni said simply condemning pornography is naive because too much money is at stake.

At a World Cup qualifier match in October in Quito, Ecuador, police arrived during the game to question star player Enner Valencia about an unpaid alimony complaint, and he saw them waiting on the sideline. Local media reported that Valencia then faked an on-field injury near the end of the match to “necessitate” being taken away by ambulance, thus outmaneuvering the police. (He settled the complaint in time for the next match.)

Are We Safe?
The security firm Trend Micro disclosed in October its “surprise” to find, in the course of a routine investigation, that firms in several crucial sectors (nuclear power, electric utilities, defense contractors, computer chip makers) send critical alert messages via old-style wireless pagers wholly unsecured against hacking. In fact, Trend Micro said the enormously popular WhatsApp message-exchange app has better security than the alert systems of nuclear power plants. (Infrastructure engineers defended the outdated technology as useful where internet access was unavailable.)

Life Imitates Art: Security experts hired by the investment firm Muddy Waters (which is being sued for defamation by St. Jude Medical Inc. over claims that St. Jude’s cardiac implant device can be hacked) disclosed in an October court filing that they agree the devices are anonymously and maliciously hackable. They found that a popular control device (Merlin@Home) could be remotely turned off, or jiggered to carry a dangerous electrical charge from up to 100 feet away. (A similar incident was part of a plot in Season 2 of the “Homeland” TV series, as the means by which the ailing U.S. vice president was assassinated.)

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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Your future, a little early

Posted By on Wed, Nov 9, 2016 at 9:00 AM

Find Rob Brezsny's "Free Will Astrology" online, every Wednesday, one day before it hits the Indy's printed pages.

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Now and then you display an excessive egotism that pushes people away. But during the next six weeks you will have an excellent chance to shed some of that tendency, even as you build more of the healthy pride that attracts help and support. So be alert for a steady flow of intuitions that will instruct you on how to elude overconfidence and instead cultivate more of the warm, radiant charisma that is your birthright. You came here to planet Earth not just to show off your bright beauty, but also to wield it as a source of inspiration and motivation for those whose lives you touch.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): “How often I found where I should be going only by setting out for somewhere else,” said inventor Buckminster Fuller. I don’t fully endorse that perspective. For example, when I said goodbye to North Carolina with the intention to make Northern California my new home, Northern California is exactly where I ended up and stayed. Having said that, however, I suspect that the coming months could be one of those times when Fuller’s formula applies to you. Your ultimate destination may turn out to be different from your original plan. But here’s the tricky part: If you do want to eventually be led to the situation that’s right for you, you have to be specific about setting a goal that seems right for now.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): If you were an obscenely rich plutocrat, you might have a pool table on your super yacht. And to ensure that you and your buddies could play pool even in a storm that rocked your boat, you would have a special gyroscopic instrument installed to keep your pool table steady and stable. But I doubt you have such luxury at your disposal. You’re just not that wealthy or decadent. You could have something even better, however: metaphorical gyroscopes that will keep you steady and stable as you navigate your way through unusual weather. Do you know what I’m referring to? If not, meditate on the three people or influences that might best help you stay grounded. Then make sure you snuggle up close to those people and influences during the next two weeks.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): The coming weeks will be a good time to fill your bed with rose petals and sleep with their aroma caressing your dreams. You should also consider the following acts of intimate revolution: listening to sexy spiritual flute music while carrying on scintillating conversations with interesting allies . . . sharing gourmet meals in which you and your sensual companions use your fingers to slowly devour your delectable food . . . dancing naked in semi-darkness as you imagine your happiest possible future. Do you catch my drift, Cancerian? You’re due for a series of appointments with savvy bliss and wild splendor.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): “I have always wanted . . . my mouth full of strange sunlight,” writes Leo poet Michael Dickman in his poem “My Honeybee.” In another piece, while describing an outdoor scene from childhood, he innocently asks, “What kind of light is that?” Elsewhere he confesses, “What I want more than anything is to get down on paper what the shining looks like.” In accordance with the astrological omens, Leo, I suggest you follow Dickman’s lead in the coming weeks. You will receive soulful teachings if you pay special attention to both the qualities of the light you see with your eyes and the inner light that wells up in your heart.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): The Passage du Gois is a 2.8-mile causeway that runs between the western French town of Beauvoir-sur-Mer and the island of Noirmoutier in the Atlantic Ocean. It’s only usable twice a day when the tide goes out, and even then for just an hour or two. The rest of the time it’s under water. If you hope to walk or bike or drive across, you must accommodate yourself to nature’s rhythms. I suspect there’s a metaphorically similar phenomenon in your life, Virgo. To get to where you want to go next, you can’t necessarily travel exactly when you feel like it. The path will be open and available for brief periods. But it will be open and available.

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Monday, November 7, 2016

Rockies Today, November 7

Posted By on Mon, Nov 7, 2016 at 10:51 AM

Next president must confront Colorado River cuts

A University of Colorado team has issued a water warning to the next president: the Colorado River cannot meet the current needs of 35 million westerners, and an order to reduce water siphoned from the river by 333,000 acre feet—equivalent to the water used in 666,0000 homes—will likely be needed come next August.

Feds may order first cuts in water from Colorado River; CU team issues warning to next president
A University of Colorado team led by a former Obama administration water chief has issued a water warning to the next…
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials on Tuesday confirmed the finding. Federal models show a 48 percent chance that, without cuts, lower basin states Arizona, California and Nevada would face shortages starting in 2018.
Anne Castle, President Obama’s former Interior Department Assistant Secretary for Water and Science and now a senior fellow at CU’s Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment, led a team of five researchers. They interviewed 65 western water policy experts and decision-makers in addition to analyzing federal data.
“This really is a critical time. Action is required. We’re closer to the edge than we ever have been,” Castle said.

Wyoming school, filled with toxic gases, still closed

In May, health officials closed down the 120-student K-12 school in Midwest, Wyoming, after detecting dangerous levels of toxic gases inside. Midwest sits in the middle of the Salt Creek oil field, the oldest in Wyoming. Months later, “Other than the skittering of leaves across the cordoned-off parking lot, the only sounds are the clink of the flagpole and the dog barking across the street.”

“There’s so many wells in this area,” says Jennifer Sutherland Bishop, coach of the school volleyball team. “It would take them so long to check it — years to check every single one of these wells — and the one that gives us the most problem is on the school property?”
In September, the Casper-Natrona County Health Department released the results of air quality tests from May. Carbon dioxide levels inside the school were 26 times the recommended limit, which made some areas of the school oxygen-deficient. Levels of benzene, which can have serious short and long-term health effects, were 200 times the amount deemed safe by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a branch of the Centers for Disease Control.

Voters in Colorado county may ban pot businesses

Proponents of getting rid of the recreational marijuana industry in Pueblo County say any benefits are far outweighed by its burdens.

More than anywhere else in Colorado, Pueblo tied its future to the marijuana jobs, tax revenues and other economic benefits touted by legalization advocates around the country. But almost three years after legalization took effect in Colorado, Pueblo is reconsidering that strategy.
On Tuesday, voters will decide whether to ban recreational marijuana businesses. There are two essentially identical measures up for vote — one for the city of Pueblo, the other for outlying Pueblo County, where all of the recreational businesses are currently located.

A researcher maps pipeline water security

International water security and transboundary river post-doctoral researcher, Jennifer Veilleux, saw the protests escalate in North Dakota and scoured the internet for information on the major waterways the Dakota Access pipeline would impact, and where Indigenous people lived in relation to those. She couldn’t find much. So she mapped it herself.

What resulted were two detailed socio-ecological maps of the Missouri River Basin, created by Veilleux and the team she assembled, in total 16 geographers, cartographers, lawyers, and researchers who are all collaborating voluntarily. One outlines major waterways the pipeline would intersect and possibly leak into and the nearby tribal lands. The other shows the percentage of Indigenous people by county living near waterways that could be affected by the pipeline, which crosses four Western states.

Why the pipeline push?

In 2015, crude oil production increased for the seventh consecutive year, reaching 9.42 million barrels per day, the highest level since 1972.

In 2015, production gains were highest in Texas, the Gulf of Mexico, and North Dakota, as these three regions accounted for 77% of the U.S. total increase.

Exploring Old Faithful’s plumbing

The research could offer new insight into Yellowstone’s hydrothermal explosions, which have occurred irregularly throughout the park’s history.

Using a helicopter, researchers will fly a hoop-shaped electromagnetic system over Yellowstone for about a month. The device, which was developed in Denmark to map groundwater supplies, seeks to map Yellowstone’s hydrothermal innards without the need to dig. It works almost like an X-ray for hot water flow, able to distinguish water from rock as deep as 1,500 feet below the surface.

Snake River dam debate revived

After a federal judge criticized the government for failing to consider whether breaching four giant dams on the Snake River would save wild salmon runs, agencies must take a new look at all approaches to managing the the dams in southeast Washington, including breaching them. Public meetings are underway.

“This is an action that (government agencies) have done their utmost to avoid considering for decades,” [the judge] wrote.
His order triggered 15 public meetings in Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon, where the dam removal issue has percolated for two decades.
The first meeting was held last month, and the final one is scheduled for Dec. 8. After that, a plan to save the salmon must be created.
The Snake River, at just over 1,000 miles, is the 13th longest in the United States, flowing from the western border of Wyoming to its confluence with the mighty Columbia River in Washington. For much of its history, the river and its tributaries produced salmon runs in the millions that sustained Native American tribes who lived near its banks. The best salmon spawning grounds were in Idaho, and were hampered by the construction of the four dams.
Environmental groups say restoring the salmon runs is impossible with the four dams in place.

In Idaho, buy into solar without a roof

Idaho Power’s community solar project in southeast Boise allows customers who cannot install their own rooftop solar panels because they live in rental properties or multi-unit dwellings to take advantage of solar power.

Idaho Power in the past has been rough on rooftop solar customers like many utilities who worry they allow these customers to get out of paying for the rest of the the company’s grid. But this pilot project could lead to future, perhaps larger, projects. Small-scale pilot programs, the commission said, “are valuable for learning what works and what does not.” Idaho Power said the pilot will assist the utility in learning the “complexities associated with offering community solar programs including: customer commitment, construction, contracting, interconnection, maintenance and billing.”

Calgary’s unemployment rate hits 23-year high

Calgary’s unemployment rate reached double-digits in October, up to 10.2 per cent, its highest level since November 1993.

Calgary appears to have suffered a big share of the economic pain from a recession triggered by persistently low oil prices.
According to [Economist Trevor] Tombe, it’s because job losses in the resource sector have occurred not so much in energy production, but almost entirely in areas that require new investment in the oilpatch, such as exploration, engineering and geology.
“Those jobs are disproportionately in Calgary than in Edmonton,” Tombe said.
A high unemployment rate has made job-hunting a source of desperation — even helplessness — in a city with a crowded field of candidates.

The country’s newest scenic trail

While the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail may not be as well known as some of the nation’s other long-distance paths — including the Continental Divide Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, and the Appalachian Trail — a small group of people is working tirelessly to elevate its status.

The trail begins at the Chief Mountain Customs Station on the U.S.-Canadian border in Glacier National Park. From there, it veers west, passing Waterton Lake and crossing the Continental Divide near Chapman Peak. The trail follows Bowman Lake and exits Glacier at Polebridge where it enters Forest Service land. The trail continues west to Eureka, where it briefly follows U.S. Highway 93 and then Montana Highway 37 from Rexford to the Koocanusa Bridge. It then heads into the woods for the remainder of its journey to Idaho and on to Washington.

Australian mayor embarks on mission to make his city porn-free (and more News of the Weird)

Posted By on Mon, Nov 7, 2016 at 9:00 AM

Can’t Possibly Be True
Kids as young as 6 who live on a cliff top in China’s Atule’er village in Sichuan province will no longer have to use flexible vine-based ladders to climb down and up the 2,600-foot descent from their homes to school. Beijing News disclosed in October, in a report carried by CNN, that a sturdy steel ladder was being built to aid the 400 villagers after breathtaking photographs of them making the treacherous commute surfaced on the internet earlier this year [CNN, 10-26-2016].

Round Up The Usual Suspects (“Youth Pastors”)

Sentenced to six years in prison for sex with teenage girls (September): former Youth Pastor David Hayman, 38 (Hackensack, New Jersey). Sentenced to six months in jail for sending inappropriate texts to teenage boys (August): former Youth Pastor Brian Burchfield (Shawnee, Oklahoma). Charged and awaiting trial for impregnating a 15-year-old girl (October): Youth Pastor Wesley Blackburn, 35 (New Paris, Pennsylvania). Sentenced to 10 years in prison for sexual abuse of a 16-year-old girl (September): former Youth Pastor Brian Mitchell, 31 (North Olmsted, Ohio). Charged and awaiting trial for luring teenagers into prostitution (October): Youth Pastor Ron Cooper, 52 (Miami). Sentenced to 90 days in jail as part of a sex assault case involving a 13-year-old girl (September): former Youth Pastor Christopher Hutchinson, 37 (Parker, Colorado).

An “Ant” Version of Hell
Researchers in Poland reported in August the “survival” of a colony of ants that wandered unsuspectingly into an old nuclear weapon bunker and became trapped. When researchers first noticed in 2013, they assumed the ants would soon die, either freezing or starving to death, but, returning in 2015 and 2016, they found the population stable. Their only guess: New ants were falling into the bunker, “replacing” the dead ones. Thus, ants condemned to the bunker slowly starve, freezing, in total darkness, until newly condemned ants arrive and freeze and starve in total darkness—and on and on.

Judicial Activism
Jackson County, Michigan, judge John McBain briefly gained notoriety in October when a Michigan news site released courtroom video of a December 2015 hearing in which McBain felt the need to throw off his robe, leap from the bench and tackle defendant Jacob Larson, who was resisting the one court officer on hand to restrain him. Yelling “Tase his ass right now,” McBain is shown holding on until help arrived—with Larson perhaps undermining his earlier courtroom statements claiming it was his girlfriend, and not he, who was the aggressor in alleged stalking incidents.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Your future, a little early

Posted By on Wed, Nov 2, 2016 at 9:00 AM

Find Rob Brezsny's "Free Will Astrology" online, every Wednesday, one day before it hits the Indy's printed pages.

ARIES (March 21-April 19): I am in awe of your headfirst, charge-forward, no-distractions approach. In fact, I aspire to incorporate more of the Aries-style directness into my own repertoire. But I also love it when, on rare occasions, you flirt with a more strategic perspective. It amuses me to see you experimenting with the power of secrets. Your wisdom often grows at an expedited rate when you get caught up in a web of intrigue that exposes you to dark joys and melodramatic lessons. During times like these, you feel fine about not having everything figured out, about not knowing the most straightforward route to your destination. You allow the riddles and enigmas to ferment as you bask in the voluptuous ambiance of the Great Mystery. Now is such a time.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): I am pleased to inform you that at least 30 percent of what you think you know about love and lust is too prosaic. Probably too narrow and constrained, as well. But here’s the good news: As soon as you agree to relinquish the dull certainty of that 30-plus percent, you will open yourself to a surge of fresh teachings. And soon, I expect, dewy throbs and hot flows will awaken in all the erotic parts of your body, including your heart and brain and soul. If you’re brave enough to respond, generous lessons in intimacy will keep you entertained for weeks.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Over the last two decades, well-meaning Westerners have donated a profusion of clothes to low-income folks in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Kind and magnanimous, right? Yes, but their largesse has had an unintended consequence: the demise of the textile industry in those African countries. With this as a cautionary tale, I’m asking you to take inventory of your own acts of benevolence and charity. Are they having effects that you approve of? If not completely, how could you adjust the way you give your gifts and bestow your blessings?

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Is it possible that you might flourish as a topdog after all the work you’ve put in as an underdog? Can you wean yourself from the worried fantasy that you’ve got endless dues to pay, and then harness your imagination to expand your confidence and build your clout? I believe you can. And in the coming weeks I will unleash a flood of prayers to the Goddess of Holy Reversals, asking her to assist you. Now please repeat after me: “I am a creative force of nature. I am a strong song of liberation. I am a wise animal with direct access to my primal intelligence.”

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): The next two weeks could be smooth, peaceful and bland. Is that the experience you want? Mild satisfactions, sweet boredom and slow progress? There’s nothing wrong with any of that. Please feel free to loll and loaf as you explore the healing charms of laziness. Grant yourself permission to avoid conflict and cultivate sunny self-protectiveness. This is one of those times when silence and stasis are among the best gifts you can give yourself. Welcome the rejuvenating power of emptiness!

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): It’s time to replace banged-up, dried-out old obsessions with ripe, juicy fascinations. It’s your duty to phase out numbing traditions and deadening habits so as to make room for exciting new rituals, customs and sacraments. Can you summon the electric willpower to shed influences that are technically “correct” but lacking in soulfulness? I think you can. Do you love yourself enough to forswear pretty but meaningless titillations? I think you do. Now get out there and do the hard work necessary to bring more serious fun into your life. Homework: Write an essay titled “What I Can Do to Be More Playful.”

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Monday, October 31, 2016

Oxford fellow wins award for living like an otter, a badger and a fox (and more News of the Weird)

Posted By on Mon, Oct 31, 2016 at 9:00 AM

Religion Adapts to Technology
A network of freelance Buddhist priests in Japan last year began offering in-home, a la carte services (for those adherents who shun temples) through Amazon in Japan, quoting fixed fees and bypassing the usual awkward deliberation over “donations.” And in September, Pastor David Taylor of Joshua Media Ministries International (St. Louis, Missouri) announced, to great fanfare, that he had “resurrected” a diabetic woman, 40 minutes after her death, by sending the lady a text message—through Facebook (though, of course, neither she nor any family member was available for an interview).

Redneck Chronicles

As a dispute escalated between two brothers at their recycling plant in Bow, New Hampshire, in October, Peter Emanuel used his front-end loader to tip over the crane being operated by Stanley Emanuel (who managed to jump out just in time). Peter was arrested.

Thousands flocked to the annual Roadkill Cooking Festival in Marlinton, West Virginia, in September, featuring an array of “tasting” dishes (e.g., black bear, possum, elk, snapping turtle) with a competition in which judges deducted points if the “chef” had not managed to remove all gravel or asphalt.

Fine Points of Canadian Law
Luckily, thought Jamie Richardson of Whitehorse, Yukon, she had medical insurance for her 7-year-old Akita, who had torn a ligament in a hind leg. But it turned out that the policy, written by Canada’s largest pet insurer, Petsecure, did not cover dog injuries from “jumping, running, slipping, tripping or playing”—that is, Richardson concluded, injuries caused by “being a dog.” (After Richardson protested, Petsecure relented but, it said, only because Richardson had been a longtime customer.)

The Way the World Works: Who is the most at fault when (a) a mother provides beer to her underage son, (b) who then, with a pal, gulps down a bottle of vodka and steals a car from a dealer’s lot, and (c) drunkenly crashes, leaving the pal with a catastrophic brain injury? In October, the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld a jury verdict that parceled out “fault,” but assigned more to the victim of the 2006 car theft (Rankin’s Garage of Paisley, Ontario) than to the mother or the driver (because Rankin’s having left the key in the car overnight made it irresistible to “teenage car thieves”).

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

John Hoyt's name removed from Wash-Griz Stadium

Posted By on Wed, Oct 26, 2016 at 10:14 AM

The namesake of a late University of Montana athletics booster was quietly scrubbed from Washington-Grizzly Stadium over the summer in what a former athletic director calls a “breach of donor trust” that threatens to damage the university’s future fundraising ability.

Since 2001, the stadium playing surface has been named John Hoyt Field as part of an agreement with an anonymous donor whose $1 million gift enabled UM to first install artificial turf. At the time, it was the largest cash gift ever to UM athletics.

Hoyt himself was a major donor to UM athletics, having given $650,000 in 2000 to what is now the John C. Hoyt Athletic Complex. He died shortly before the turf gift was made in his honor.

Director of Athletics Kent Haslam says he ordered staff to remove the maroon Hoyt Field signage—bolted to concrete walls in each end zone—in conjunction with a turf replacement project completed in August. The occasion seemed appropriate, Haslam says, since the donor-funded turf no longer exists. He adds that the removal did not violate the terms of the 2001 donor agreement, which made no mention of the name remaining in perpetuity.

Former UM athletics directors, however, say the move isn’t in the spirit of the initial agreement, and one suggested the university is playing politics to appease another, larger donor.
UM officials removed signs honoring John Hoyt from Washington-Grizzly Stadium over the summer as crews installed new artificial turf. The playing surface has been named in Hoyt's honor since 2001 at the request of a then-anonymous donor. - PHOTO BY CHAD HARDER
  • Photo by Chad Harder
  • UM officials removed signs honoring John Hoyt from Washington-Grizzly Stadium over the summer as crews installed new artificial turf. The playing surface has been named in Hoyt's honor since 2001 at the request of a then-anonymous donor.

“Unless the UM Foundation can produce different paperwork from what was promised under the original agreement, I believe this is a breach of donor trust and will definitely damage the reputation of the UM Foundation, the University of Montana and UM Athletics,” Jim O’Day wrote in an email to Montana University System leaders earlier this month.

O’Day worked for the Grizzly Athletic Association and UM Foundation at the time of the 2001 turf gift. He later worked as athletics director from 2005 until 2012, when he was fired amid scrutiny of how the university handled sexual assault allegations involving athletes.

The AD who orchestrated the gift, Wayne Hogan, tells the Indy that he and the donor didn’t stipulate the duration of the naming rights because the agreement was implicit. “I just didn’t think it needed to be said, and I don’t think he felt the need for that commitment,” Hogan says.

Hogan identified the anonymous donor as Billings attorney Cliff Edwards. Edwards could not be reached for comment because he is out of the office until November.

O’Day, in his email to the regents, suggested that Hoyt’s name was removed as a condition of the Washington Foundation’s recent $7 million donation to fund construction of the Washington Grizzlies Champions Center. O’Day declined to comment on his allegation but acknowledges that he does not have direct knowledge of the Champions Center donor agreement.

UM officials would not comment on O’Day’s claim, and the UM Foundation rejected the Indy's request for a copy of the Champions Center donor agreement. A Montana University System spokesperson says Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian was briefed on the naming rights situation and believes the university is managing it appropriately. The spokesperson adds that O’Day is the only person to raise concerns about the issue to state officials.

Erasing Hoyt’s name from the field could give UM athletics another option as it looks for new fundraising opportunities. Haslam says that while the original gift was a “game changer” for the program, the most sustainable funding stream would be an endowment whose proceeds could be used to replace the turf as needed.

Haslam says he contacted the donors before the signs were taken down and that UM is now looking for a permanent way to honor the 2001 gift.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Your future, a little early

Posted By on Wed, Oct 26, 2016 at 9:00 AM

Find Rob Brezsny's "Free Will Astrology" online, every Wednesday, one day before it hits the Indy's printed pages.

ARIES (March 21-April 19): I invite you to fantasize about what your four great-grandmothers and four great-grandfathers may have been doing on November 1, 1930. What? You have no idea how to begin? You don’t even know their names? If that’s the case, I hope you’ll remedy your ignorance. Your ability to create the future you want requires you to learn more about where and whom you came from. Halloween costume suggestion: your most interesting ancestor.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): At any one time, over two million frozen human embryos are stored in tissue banks throughout Europe and North America. When the time is right, their owners retrieve them and bring them to term. That’s the first scenario I invite you to use as a metaphor for your life in the coming weeks. Here’s a second scenario: Scotch whisky is a potent mind-altering substance. Any particular batch must mature for at least three years, and may be distilled numerous times. There are currently 20 million barrels of the stuff mellowing in Scottish warehouses. And what do these two scenarios have to do with you? It’s time to tap into resources that you’ve been saving in reserve—that haven’t been ripe or ready until now. Halloween costume suggestions: a woman who’s nine months pregnant, a blooming rose or sunflower, ripe fruit.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): To create a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, a winemaker needs about 700 grapes. Compare this process with rain-making. When water vapor that’s high in the sky becomes dense enough, it condenses into tiny pearls of liquid called cloud droplets. If the humidity rises even further, a million of these babies might band together to form a single raindrop that falls to earth. And what does this have to do with your life? I suspect that in the coming weeks, you will have both an affinity and a skill for processes that resemble wine-making and rain-making. You’ll need a lot of raw material and energetic effort to produce a relatively small marvel—but that’s exactly as it should be. Halloween costume suggestion: a raindrop or bottle of wine.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Some Brazilians eat the heads of piranhas in the belief they’re aphrodisiacs. In Zimbabwe, women may make strategic use of baboon urine to enhance their allure. The scientific name for Colombia’s leaf-cutter ant is hormiga culona, translated as “fat-assed ant.” Ingesting the roasted bodies of these critters is thought to boost sexual desire. Since you’re in a phase when tapping into your deepest erotic longings will be healthy and educational, you may want to adopt elements of the aforementioned love drugs to create your Halloween costume. Here are other exotic aphrodisiacs from around the world that you might be inspired by: asparagus, green M&Ms, raw oysters, wild orchids, horny goat weed.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Do you know how to repair a broken zipper or patch a hole in your bicycle tire? Are you familiar with the art of caulking a bathtub or creating a successful budget? Can you compose a graceful thank-you note, cook a hearty soup from scratch or overcome your pride so as to reconcile with an ally after an argument? These are the kinds of tasks I trust you will focus on in the coming weeks. It’s time to be very practical and concrete. Halloween costume suggestion: Mr. or Ms. Fix-It.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): In the film Terminator 2, Arnold Schwarzenegger played a benevolent android who traveled here from the future. As a strong, silent action hero, he didn’t need to say much. In fact, he earned $30,000 for every word he uttered. I’m hoping your speech will pack a comparable punch in the coming days. My reading of the astrological omens suggests that your persuasiveness should be at a peak. You’ll have an exceptional ability to say what you mean and mean what you say. Use this superpower with flair and precision! Halloween costume suggestion: ancient Greek orator Demosthenes, Martin Luther King Jr., Virginia Woolf, Sojourner Truth, rapper MC Lyte, Winston Churchill.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): It’s the prosperity-building phase of your cycle. Let’s celebrate! Let’s brainstorm! Are there rituals you can create to stimulate the financial lobes of your imagination, thereby expediting your cash flow? Here are a few ideas: 1. Glue a photo of yourself on a $20 bill. 2. Make a wealth shrine in your home. Stock it with symbols of specific thrills you can buy for yourself when you have more money. 3. Halloween costume suggestions: a giant bar of gold, a banker carrying a briefcase full of big bills, Tony Stark, Lady Mary Crawley, Jay Gatsby, Lara Croft, the Yoruban wealth goddess Ajé.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): During this Halloween season, you have cosmic permission to be a bigger, bolder and extra beguiling version of yourself. I trust you will express your deep beauty with precise brilliance and imagine your future with superb panache and wander wherever the hell you feel like wandering. It’s time to be stronger than your fears and wilder than your trivial sins. Halloween costume suggestion: the superhero version of yourself.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): I won’t offer you the cliché “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Instead, I’ll provide alternatives. How about this, from the video game “Portal 2”: “When life gives you lemons, don’t make lemonade. Make life take the lemons back! Get mad! Say, ‘I don’t want your damn lemons!’” Or you could try this version, from my friend Barney: “When life gives you lemons, draw faces on them like Tom Hanks did on his volleyball in the movie Cast Away and engage them in sexy philosophical conversation.” Or consider this Brazilian proverb: “When life gives you lemons, make caipirinhas.” (Caipirinha is Brazil’s national cocktail.) Suggestion: Play around with these themes to create your Halloween costume.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): All of us are creators and destroyers. It’s fun and healthy to add fresh elements to our lives, but it’s also crucial to dispose of things that hurt and distort us. Even your body is a hotbed of both activities, constantly killing off old cells and generating new ones. But in my understanding, you are now in a phase when there’s far more creation than destruction. Enjoy the exalted buzz! Halloween costume suggestions: a creator god or goddess, like the Greeks’ Gaia or Prometheus; Rainbow-Snake from the Australian Aborigines; Unkulunkulu from the Zulus; or Coyote, Raven, or Spider Grandmother from indigenous North American tribes.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): In 1938, a chef named Ruth Wakefield dreamed up a brilliant invention: chocolate chip cookies. She sold her recipe to the Nestlé company in return for one dollar and a lifetime supply of chocolate. Maybe she was happy with that arrangement, but I think she cheated herself. And so I offer her action as an example of what you should NOT do. During the next ten months, I expect you will come up with many useful innovations and intriguing departures from the way things have always been done. Make sure you get full value in return for your gifts! Halloween costume ideas: Thomas Edison, Marie Curie, Hedy Lamarr, Leonardo da Vinci, Temple Grandin, George Washington Carver, Mark Zuckerberg.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Speaking on behalf of the cosmic powers, I authorize you to escape dull realities and go rambling through the frontier. Feel free to fantasize twice as hard and wild as you normally do. Avoid literalists and realists who think you should be more like them. This is not a time to fuss over exacting details, but rather to soar above the sober nonsense and see as far as you can. You have permission to exult in the joys of wise innocence. Halloween costume suggestions: bohemian poet, mad scientist, carefree genius, brazen explorer.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Court upholds France's ban on smiling in passport photos (and more News of the Weird)

Posted By on Mon, Oct 24, 2016 at 9:00 AM

Pot for Pets
As nine states next month ask voters to approve some form of legalization of marijuana, a “new customer base” for the product—pets—was highlighted in an October New York Times report. Dogs and cats are struck with maladies similar to those that humans report in cannabis success stories: seizures, inflammation, anxiety, arthritis and other pain and subsequent social withdrawals. The “high”-producing THC element cannot be used because it is notoriously toxic to dogs, but other elements in the drug seem to work well not only for dogs and cats but, by anecdotal evidence, pigs, horses and domesticated wild animals.

Compelling Explanations

In September, Charles Lawrence III, 60, was sentenced to eight years in prison for attempted sexual assault despite his claim that it was just bad eyesight that caused the problem. He had arrived at a house in Fairfield, Connecticut, to have sex with a male he had met online, but the event turned out to be a “To Catch a Predator” sting. Lawrence, an accountant, claimed that, in text messages with the “boy,” he had seen “18” as his age, when, according to police evidence, the text read “13.” (Bonus: Lawrence knew “Predator” newsman Chris Hansen socially and commuted daily on the train with him, according to Lawrence’s lawyer.)

A 23-year-old woman on a bus in Istanbul, Turkey, was attacked by Abdullah Cakiroglu, 35, in September because, as he told police, he had become “aroused” by her wearing shorts. (Initially, he was not arrested, but after a protest on social media, police came to get him—though for “inciting,” not assault.) He told police, “I lost myself” because the woman had “disregarded the values of our country,” and “my spiritual side took over, and I kicked her in the face.”

Government in Action
Kevin and Tammy Jones opened their guns-and-coffee store in an old bank building in Hamilton, Virginia, in August, but despite the controversies about the ease of gun acquisition in America, their Bullets and Beans shop has had a harder time pleasing government regulators over the coffee than over the firearms. Kevin told Washingtonian magazine that there were no problems in getting gun-shop and firearms-instruction permits from state and federal agencies, but several local-government roadblocks delayed the coffee-sales permit: the property being zoned for “retail” but not food or drinks; permission to open certain businesses near residences; and a coffee shop’s need to have “parking.”

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Friday, October 21, 2016

Rockies Today, October 21

Posted By on Fri, Oct 21, 2016 at 1:20 PM

Mountain West News is a service of the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West — a regional studies and public education program at the University of Montana. The Center’s purpose is to serve as an important and credible resource for people in the state and region in understanding the region’s past, present, and future. For more, visit

BLM rejects Utah activists’ oil and gas lease purchase

Ever since environmental writer and activist Terry Tempest Williams, in February, handed her credit card to the BLM to pay for two oil and gas leases—1,120 acres north of Arches National Park—the agency has “sweated” over whether to issue the leases. This week, the BLM decided to withhold the leases and refund Williams because it claims the company she and her husband, Brooke, created “has no intention of developing the two leases.”

We have made clear to the BLM that we would consider developing our leases when science supports a sustainable use of the oil and gas at an increased value given the costs of climate change to future generations.

Meet Idaho’s first Syrian refugees

The story of Asmaa Albukaie, whose husband and two young boys were kidnapped, never saw her husband again, got her boys back, left for Jordan, then Egypt, where she applied for refugee status through the United Nations, went through two years of interviews and background checks, got a ticket to the United States—to “Boise”—which she had to Google.

“I noticed that women in movies, American women, decide whatever they want to decide. This is not acceptable in Syria. So I made my own decision to learn and study, but I hid in the bathroom because my husband didn’t allow me to study,” said Albukaie, laughing about that now.
Albukaie told me her story in a coffee shop in downtown Boise, where we spoke for about 90 minutes. The city of Boise, Idaho, is taking in a lot of Syrian refugees: 122 so far this year. That’s more than twice as many as Los Angeles, Boston and New York combined.
Albukaie and her two teenage sons — who arrived in November 2014 — were the first Syrian refugees in Idaho.
Boise has been resettling a lot of refugees, from many nations, because of the affordable housing and need for workers in sparsely populated Idaho.

Albukaie recently gave a TED Talk in Moscow, Idaho.

Could idle wells become geothermal heat sources?

Mitchell Pomphrey, an Edmonton-based entrepreneur, has an idea to fix Alberta’s idle-well problem. The manager of a group called the Living Energy Project says it can retrofit older, unproductive wells into geothermal heat sources. “We’re trying to reuse things that would otherwise be wasted,” he says.

The most recent count from the Alberta Energy Regulator shows there were 84,100 inactive wells in the province in September, which is up from 77,600 in March. Meanwhile, the number of orphaned wells in the province — wells for which there is no financially responsible company — has almost doubled during the same time period, rising to 1,285 from 698.
The provincial government is concerned taxpayer money may be needed to clean up after the energy industry if the number of idle wells continues to grow.

Orange refinery emissions safe, Colorado says

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment says the public need not worry about the yellow-orange smoke that billowed last week from a Commerce City refinery.

A power failure at the refinery caused an emergency shut down and sent sulfur dioxide into the air as part of the shut down procedure. The billowing smoke led emergency officials to warn nearby residents to stay indoors and to lockdown a school and close roads for a few hours.
The plant resumed operations on Sunday. 
Trudeau’s shift from talking to acting on climate

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wants a national carbon price, in part to discourage firms from migrating to provinces, like Saskatchewan, with no carbon price, or with very low ones.

Provinces will be free to choose the system that best suits local industry. Those that opt for cap-and-trade schemes will have to meet or exceed Canada’s target of cutting emissions by 30%. Provinces will be allowed to keep the money they raise.
That will not mollify them. Energy-producing provinces, such as Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland & Labrador, worry about the effect of carbon prices on the oil industry and on export-dependent livelihoods, such as lentil farming. They are in the second year of a recession caused by a slump in oil prices. Citizens in those provinces are hostile, although 63% of Canadians support Mr Trudeau’s climate policy, according to a new poll.

Western states rank poorly on women’s issues

24/7 Wall St., a financial news and opinion website, posted a list of the 10 worst states for women. Wyoming ranks second worst, Idaho third, Utah fourth, and Montana eighth.

In 1869, Wyoming became the first state in the country to grant women’s suffrage, roughly five decades before Congress passed the 19th Amendment. Despite being a leader in this important milestone, conditions in Wyoming today are some of the least favorable for women.
No state, for example, has a wider gender pay gap than Wyoming. The typical female worker earns $36,064, or just 64.4% of the $55,965 male median earnings in the state.

On marijuana, Montana polls tell different stories

Will Montana voters approve a ballot measure to expand the state’s highly restricted medical marijuana law?

A Lee Newspapers poll of more than 1,000 registered voters, conducted Oct. 10–12, found that 51 percent of people responding said they they would vote no on the ballot initiative.

Those in the I-182 campaign say that the majority of voters remain on their side. The campaign’s own poll, conducted by Colorado-based Harstad Strategic Research, had 59 percent in favor of the measure, with 32 percent against and 9 percent undecided.

Idaho’s largest solar farm goes online

The 80-megawatt Grand View solar project is more than twice as big as the farm built in Kuna several months ago and will provide clean energy to some 17,000 homes.

Colorado mountain bike trail sabotaged

Mountain bikers have found spiked boards buried on the Dirt Surfer trail above Eagle, Colorado, prompting an investigation involving the BLM and local law enforcement agencies.

“We are definitely taking the threat of potential harm very seriously,” Eagle County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Amber Barrett said. “We don’t want anyone retaliating over this. We want everyone to get along on the trails. It’s hunting season and we’ve got trail joggers who have issues with mountain bikers who have issues with hunters and horseback riders. But setting a malicious trap like this, we are not going to take lightly.”

The Colorado River ‘pulse flow,’ two years later

An interim report finds that birds, plants, and groundwater continue to benefit from the pilot effort to revive the Colorado River delta.

The interim report, released on Wednesday, documents the effects of the environmental flows in the delta from the initial pulse in March 2014 plus subsequent supplemental deliveries of water through December 2015.
“Some of the cottonwoods that germinated during the initial pulse flow are now more than 10 feet tall,” Karl W. Flessa, UA professor of geosciences and co-chief scientist of the team that’s monitoring the impact of the pulse, said in a statement.
Migratory waterbirds, nesting waterbirds, and nesting riparian birds have all increased in abundance, the report says. The monitoring team found that the abundance of 19 bird species of conservation concern, including vermillion flycatchers, hooded orioles, and yellow-breasted chats, was 43 percent higher at the restoration sites than at other sites in the floodplain.

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