Monday, August 29, 2016

Rockies Today, August 29

Posted By on Mon, Aug 29, 2016 at 12:54 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 mountainwestnews.org

Kenya's oldest prostitute (and more News of the Weird)

Posted By on Mon, Aug 29, 2016 at 9:09 AM

Virtual Fandom
The phenomenal Japanese singer Hatsune Miku (100 million YouTube hits) is coming off of a
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 sold-out, 10-city North American concert tour with high-energy audiences (blocks-long lines to get in; raucous crowd participation; hefty souvenir sales), except that "she" isn't real. Hatsune Miku is a projected hologram on stage singing and dancing (but her band is human), and her May show in Dallas, according to a Dallas Observer review, typically ignited frenzied fans who know the show's "every beat, outfit ... and glow stick color-change." Her voice, a synthesized "vocaloid," is crafted in pitch, timbre and timing to sound human. (The latest PlayStation brings Hatsune Miku into the home by virtual reality.)

The Finer Points of Law
Make Up Your Mind, Feds: On Aug. 11, the federal government's Drug Enforcement Agency famously refused to soften the regulation of marijuana, leaving it (with heroin) as a harsh "Schedule I" drug because, citing Food and Drug Administration findings, it has "no medical use." However, as the Daily Caller pointed out, another federal agency – Department of Health and Human Services — obtained a U.S. patent in 2003 for marijuana-derived cannabinoids, which HHS pointed out have several medical uses (as an antioxidant and for limiting neurological damage following strokes).

Priorities:  "A dog has better protection than our kids," lamented an Oregon prosecutor in May because, unlike the pet law, the "child abuse" law requires proof the victim experienced "substantial" pain – which a young child often lacks vocabulary to describe. (Simply showing welts and bruises is insufficient, the Court of Appeals has ruled.) (2) That same Oregon Court of Appeals ruled in June that Thomas Wade, 44, was not guilty of a crime when in 2013 he unzipped his pants, reached inside, and at that point cursed the woman he had confronted in a public park. "Distasteful," wrote the Court, but it was an exercise of Wade's free speech right.

Texas! In August, Houston defense lawyer Jerry Guerinot announced his retirement from death-penalty cases, leaving him with a perfect record (for that area of his practice): He lost every single time. Twenty-one clients received the death penalty, and 10 have been executed (so far). He made no excuses, pointing out that "gang members, serial killers and sociopaths" were entitled to representation, too, and that he has taken more than 500 noncapital cases to trial (with, presumably, more success).

Tourists Gone Wild
Tourism officials in Iceland recently posted "hundreds" of signs at visitor attractions showing a squatting person in silhouette, with a small pile on the ground underneath – and the familiar diagonal line (indicating "don't"). Critics of the signs reluctantly admit Iceland's chronic shortage of public restrooms. (2) In a YouTube clip released in July, a Disney fan posted shot after shot of "rude" Chinese tourists at Shanghai Disneyland, coaxing their small children to urinate in public rather than in restrooms. (3) The Tourism Bureau of Japan's Hokkaido island recently rewrote its etiquette guide for visitors to underscore the inappropriateness of "belching or flatulence" in public.

Leading Economic Indicators
Suspicions Confirmed:  A New York Times reporter, describing in June the rising prices of prescription pharmaceuticals, noted that a popular pain reliever (probably describing oxycodone) was available on the Paterson, New Jersey, black market for $25 a pill, while heroin was going for $2 a baggie. (2) The economic growth rate in Ireland for 2015 was revised – upward – in July. Growth of its gross domestic product was originally estimated at 7.8 percent, but subsequently – adding the paper value of several "inversions" (U.S. companies "moving" to Ireland to reduce U.S. taxes) — Ireland found that it was actually growing at 26.7 percent.

Awesome!
 Investigators revealed in July that an off-duty Aurora, Colorado, sheriff's deputy had justifiably fired his gun to resist a parking lot mugging – and that, furthermore, one of the bullets from Deputy Jose Marquez's gun had gone straight into the barrel of one of the handguns pointed at him. The investigators called the shot "one in a billion." (2) Matthew Lavin, 39, drew internet acclaim in July after he was gored through his left thigh while "running with the bulls" in the annual spectacle in Pamplona, Spain. Interviewed in his hospital bed by Madrid's The Local, he called it "the best time ever" and said he looked forward to another run next year.

Ironies
Gary Durham, 40, was shot to death during a heated road-rage incident in Plant City, Florida, on Aug. 10. Durham had served 10 years in prison after an aggressive road-rage episode in 2001 in which he pursued another driver and knocked him to the ground, causing the man to hit his head, fatally, on the pavement. (Included in Durham's 2002 sentence was an order to take anger management classes.)

Wait, What?
The Borough Council of Pompton Lakes, New Jersey, was surprised to learn in June that, because of an existing local ordinance, dogs were not permitted in its brand-new Pompton Lakes dog park, created with great fanfare in an area of Hershfield Park. The council vowed to fix the problem. (2) In June, a police watchdog agency in Dublin, Ireland, asked officers ("gardai") across the country to try to carry out house raids at "reasonable hours" so that they do not disturb the occupants. (In one complaint, gardai staged a 3:15 a.m. raid to search for evidence of stolen vehicle accessories.)

A 9-year-old girl named Irina won a contest in Berezniki, Russia, in August for letting mosquitos bite her more often that they bit other contestants. It is the signature event of the annual Russian Mosquito Festival, and her 43 hits were enough to earn her the title of "tastiest girl." The annual Great Texas Mosquito Festival in Clute, Texas (south of Houston), apparently has nothing comparable.

The Passing Parade
 The Elanora Heights Public School (a primary school in Sydney, Australia) recently banned clapping during student assemblies in an effort to help pupils with noise anxieties. To show audience approval, students are asked to "punch the air," "pull (on their) faces" or "wriggle about." (2) In July, The Nairobian newspaper reported the remarkable career of "Rosemary," reputed to be the Kenyan capital's oldest prostitute – still going strong at 64 after more than 5,000 clients. She said she could make it through 40 on a good day, but never missed church on Sunday.

Least Competent Criminals
Didn't Think Ahead:  In July, Joshua Jacobs, 30, accidentally knocked down a traffic sign at 12:45 a.m. in Vero Beach, Florida, and, spotting a sheriff's deputy, sped away. The deputy gave chase – especially, he said, given the fully-grown marijuana plant resting in the bed of the pickup. Jacobs was arrested. (2) Jeremy Watts, 30, and Jessica Heady, 24, were charged with aggravated burglary (a PlayStation and other electronics from a man's home) in Clarksville, Tennessee, in August. The pair had offered the haul to a Cash America Pawnshop, but did not realize that the home they had burglarized was the pawnshop manager's.

A News of the Weird Classic (October 2012)
Researchers writing in the journal Animal Behaviour in July (2012) hypothesized why male pandas have sometimes been seen performing handstands near trees. They are urinating, the scientists observed, and doing handstands streams the urine higher on the tree, presumably signaling their mating superiority. A San Diego Zoo researcher involved in the study added that an accompanying gland secretion gives off even more "personal" information to other pandas than the urine alone.

Thanks This Week to the News of the Weird Senior Advisors (Jenny T. Beatty, Paul Di Filippo, Ginger Katz, Joe Littrell, Matt Mirapaul, Paul Music, Karl Olson, and Jim Sweeney) and Board of Editorial Advisors (Tom Barker, Paul Blumstein, Harry Farkas, Sam Gaines, Herb Jue, Emory Kimbrough, Scott Langill, Bob McCabe, Steve Miller, Christopher Nalty, Mark Neunder, Sandy Pearlman, Bob Pert, Larry Ellis Reed, Peter Smagorinsky, Rob Snyder, Stephen Taylor, Bruce Townley, and Jerry Whittle).


Friday, August 26, 2016

Rockies Today, August 26

Posted By on Fri, Aug 26, 2016 at 6:05 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 mountainwestnews.org

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Rockies Today, August 24

Posted By on Wed, Aug 24, 2016 at 11:43 AM

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 mountainwestnews.org

City purchase of EKO Compost could finally snuff out notorious stench

Posted By on Wed, Aug 24, 2016 at 10:34 AM

A dozen times this year residents have called Ben Schmidt to complain of a putrid poop smell wafting over Missoula. That’s not a bad figure, the city-county air quality specialist says, considering how strong the stench used to get.

Then again, by now most everyone who lives or works on the city’s Westside knows where the odor originates, and Schmidt acknowledges “complaint fatigue” could be keeping the number down. In 2009, the city spent nearly $80,000 to figure out who was to blame, pinning it evenly on the city-run wastewater treatment plant and EKO Compost, a private business that composts the plant’s sludge byproduct and sells it. The treatment plant responded by spending more than $1 million to snuff out its sewage smell, but EKO only “marginally invested” in controlling the fumes, according to a new city-commissioned study.

In other words, the stench persists—but not for long, Public Works Director John Wilson says. Missoula City Council voted unanimously Aug. 22 to authorize purchase of EKO Compost for $1.24 million, and reducing foul odors is one of the first steps Wilson expects to take once the city assumes control. He thinks the facility shouldn’t smell much worse than a barnyard when all is said and done.
A bulldozer at EKO Compost moves piles of soon-to-be-compost, made from commingled and decomposed yard and human waste. Officials believe city ownership of EKO Compost could finally bring an end to the stench that sometimes reaches miles away and has prompted years of complaints. - PHOTO BY ANNE MEDLEY
  • Photo by Anne Medley
  • A bulldozer at EKO Compost moves piles of soon-to-be-compost, made from commingled and decomposed yard and human waste. Officials believe city ownership of EKO Compost could finally bring an end to the stench that sometimes reaches miles away and has prompted years of complaints.
Odor control isn’t particularly complicated or expensive compared to the $8.4 million in total infrastructure upgrades the city plans to make at the facility. Larger fans for aeration and more woodchips to lay on top of the compost piles as a filter could make a big difference, Wilson says.

“If it takes more than that, we’ll do it,” he adds.

If the problem is so easy to solve, why hasn’t EKO done so? Wilson isn’t willing to criticize EKO’s existing operation, noting that the facility is in compliance with current regulations. However, an engineering consultant hired by the city to investigate a possible purchase of EKO found the existing “makeshift” biofilter to be 1/43 the size recommended as the industry standard and the compost piles underaerated by a factor of 50.

The city has worked with EKO Compost since 1977 in what was one of the first public-private partnerships of its kind. But the arrangement has left officials with little recourse with respect to odor issues at the facility. Wilson says the city is in a better position to invest in improvements, since it doesn’t need to turn a profit.

EKO Compost currently has a “positive cash flow,” according to a letter supporting the purchase sent to the city by EKO owner Tom Pawlish. (The company’s Missoula plant manager did not return a call for comment.) A financial analysis prepared by city administrators indicates the city can afford the proposed site and equipment improvements without raising taxes or fees. Wilson says many project details, including the final design, still need to be honed, but city control over the entire stream of human waste presents new opportunities for efficiencies and reuse.

It also comes with the risks inherent in assuming management of another public works operation—and the responsibility to stop spewing stench onto the neighbors.

“I’m perfectly happy to be accountable for that,” Wilson says.

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Your future, a little early

Posted By on Wed, Aug 24, 2016 at 9:55 AM

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

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ARIES (March 21-April 19): In the coming weeks, I hope you won't scream curses at the rain, demanding that it stop falling on you. Similarly, I suggest you refrain from punching walls that seem to be hemming you in, and I beg you not to spit into the wind when it's blowing in your face. Here's an oracle about how to avoid counterproductive behavior like that: The near future will bring you useful challenges and uncanny blessings if you're willing to consider the possibility that everything coming your way will in some sense be an opportunity.


TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Oh how I wish you might receive the grace of being pampered and nurtured and entertained and prayed for. I'd love for you to assemble a throng of no-strings-attached caretakers who would devote themselves to stoking your healing and delight. Maybe they'd sing to you as they gave you a manicure and massaged your feet and paid your bills. Or perhaps they would cook you a gourmet meal and clean your house as they told you stories about how beautiful you are and all the great things you're going to do in the future. Is it possible to arrange something like that even on a modest scale, Taurus? You're in a phase of your astrological cycle when you most need this kind of doting attention  and when you have the greatest power to make it happen.


GEMINI (May 21-June 20): I invite you 
to dream about your true home . . . your sweet, energizing, love-strong home . . . the home where you can be high and deep, robust and tender, flexible and rigorous . . . the home where you are the person that you promised yourself you could be. To stimulate and enhance your brainstorms about your true home, experiment with the following activities: Feed your roots . . . do maintenance work on your power spot . . . cherish and foster your sources . . . and refine the magic that makes you feel free. Can you handle one more set of tasks designed to enhance your domestic bliss? Tend to your web of close allies . . . take care of what takes care of you . . . and adore the intimate connections that serve as your foundation.


CANCER (June 21-July 22): It'll be one of those rapid-fire, adjust-on-the-fly, think-on-your-feet, go-with-your-gut times for you – a head-spinning, endorphin-generating, eye-pleasing, intelligence-boosting phase when you will have opportunities to relinquish your attachments to status quos that don't serve you. Got all that, Cancerian? There'll be a lot of stimuli to absorb and integrate – and luckily for you, absorbing and integrating a lot of stimuli will be your specialty. I'm confident of your ability to get the most of upcoming encounters with cute provocations, pleasant agitation, and useful unpredictability. One more tip: Be vigilant and amused as you follow the ever-shifting sweet spot.


LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): At the risk of asking too much and pushing too hard, my Guerrilla Prayer Warriors have been begging God to send you some major financial mojo. These fierce supplicants have even gone so far as to suggest to the Supreme Being that maybe She could help you win the lottery or find a roll of big bills lying in the gutter or be granted a magic wish by an
unexpected benefactor. "Whatever works!" is their mantra. Looking at the astrological omens, I'm not sure that the Prayer Warriors' extreme attempts will be effective. But the possibility that they will be is definitely greater than usual. To boost your odds, I suggest you get more organized and better educated about your money matters. Set a clear intention about the changes you'd like to put in motion during the next ten months.


VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Suggested 
experiments: 1. Take a vow that from now on you won't hide your beauty. 2. Strike a deal with your inner king or inner queen, guaranteeing that this regal part of gets regular free expression. 3. Converse with your Future Self about how the two of you might collaborate to fully unleash the refined potency of your emotional intelligence. 4. In meditations and dreams, ask your ancestors how you can more completely access and activate your dormant potentials.


LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): I hope you are not forlorn, shivery, puzzled, or obsessive right now – unless being in such a state will mobilize you to instigate the overdue transformations you have been evading. If that's the case, I hope you are forlorn, shivery, puzzled, and obsessive. Feelings like those may be the perfect fuel – the high-octane motivation that will launch your personal renaissance. I don't often offer this counsel, Libra, so I advise you to take full advantage: Now is one of the rare times when your so-called negative emotions can catalyze redemption.



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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Happiest Hour: Rye cocktails at Montgomery Distillery

Posted By on Tue, Aug 23, 2016 at 4:40 PM

Montgomery Distillery's Sazerac is made with Sudden Wisdom Rye. - PHOTO BY ERIKA FREDRICKSON
  • photo by Erika Fredrickson
  • Montgomery Distillery's Sazerac is made with Sudden Wisdom Rye.

What you’re drinking:
Cocktails made from Sudden Wisdom Rye, which is milled, fermented, distilled and bottled in Missoula. The Montgomery Distillery released the whiskey last year and it’s considered the first legal batch ever made in Missoula. Distiller Christopher Conley notes he was inspired by Neil Young’s 1979 album Live Rust. The rye—with its dried apple, spice and autumn leather flavor—is now featured on the distillery’s cocktail menu.


Sazerac: The New Orleans cocktail is one of the oldest known mixed drinks, made popular about 10 years before the Civil War. It mixes rye whiskey, demerara sugar and aromatic bitters, plus lemon peel garnish, and the inside of the glass is sprayed with absinthe to provide added aroma. Future versions will involve other sprays, including a pipe tobacco wash.

Whiskey Sour: This classic cocktail changes with the seasons. The current summer version mixes rye whiskey, mint, lemon, honey and lemon bitters. In fall, the distillery will combine the rye with egg whites, maple syrup, lemon, almond liquor and pecan bitters.

New Old Fashioned: Technically, an Old Fashioned didn’t originally include fruit, which is why Montgomery added “new” to the title of its concoction of rye whiskey, demerara sugar, brandied cherries, orange and aromatic bitters. Most bars nowadays serve the truly old-fashioned drink with cherry and orange. Semantics aside, what makes Montgomery’s distinct is its homemade brandied cherries—and, of course, the rye.

Where to find ’em: Montgomery Distillery is located at 129 W. Front.

Happiest Hour celebrates western Montana watering holes. To recommend a bar, bartender or beverage for Happiest Hour, email editor@missoulanews.com.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Rockies Today, August 22

Posted By on Mon, Aug 22, 2016 at 12:54 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 mountainwestnews.org

Toilet- themed restaurants (and more News of the Weird)

Posted By on Mon, Aug 22, 2016 at 9:37 AM

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New World Order
Australians are about to learn how particular some people are about their genders. Queensland University of Technology and three other sponsors have created an online preference survey (currently underway) that asks participants to decide among 33 "genders" (since "gender" is, according to the World Health Organization, "socially constructed"). "Male" and "female" are clear enough — but only where "identity" matches plumbing. Otherwise, it's "trans" or "transsexual," or else the more complicated bigender, omnigender, polygender, pangender, intergender, genderfluid, "cisgender," trigender, demigender, "gender non-conforming," "non-binary," "none gender" and a few others. 

Latest Religious Messages

India has supposedly outlawed the "baby-tossing" religious test popular among Hindus and Muslims in rural villages in Maharashtra and Karnataka states, but a July New York Times report suggested that parents were still allowing surrogates to drop their newborn infants from 30 feet up and awaiting the gods' blessing for a prosperous, healthy life. In all cases, according to the report, the gods come through, and a bedsheet appears below to catch the unharmed baby.

Government in Action
More federal civilian employees have "arrest and firearms authority" than the total number of active-duty U.S. Marines, according to a June report by the organization Open The Books, which claims to have tallied line-by-line expenditures across the government. Several agencies (including the IRS and EPA) purchase assault weapons and other military-grade equipment (camouflage, night-vision goggles, 30-round magazines) for their agents, and even the Small Business Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Department of Education buy their agents guns and ammo.

San Diego Padres outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. was traded on July 23 to the Toronto Blue Jays — in the middle of a series between the Padres and the Blue Jays in Toronto. Normally, such a player would merely gather his belongings and walk down the hall to the other team's locker room. However, while Canada treats Blue Jays' opponents as "visitors," Blue Jays players, themselves, are Canadian employees, and if not residents must have work permits. Upton had to leave the stadium and drive to Lewiston, New York, which is the closest place he could find to apply to re-enter Canada properly. (He made it back by game time.)

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Friday, August 19, 2016

Rockies Today, August 19

Posted By on Fri, Aug 19, 2016 at 2:42 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 mountainwestnews.org

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