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Collected editorials

The gentle breeze bloweth

How not to argue

I suppose something should be said about the recent lapse in service. I commented about it at length in my reply to a letter by Peter Neilson. Read it there.

The evidence is in; it’s windy here.

From http://keloland.com/NewsDetail6162.cfm?Id=25,72736

State Wind Farm Tops In Nation

A power company official says a wind farm near Highmore in central South Dakota is the most productive in the entire nation.

Scott Parsley of East River Electric says the Hyde County wind farm operates at 42 percent efficiency — meaning it has enough wind for maximum generation 42 percent of the time.

Parsley made the comment at a meeting in Yankton to gauge area interest in wind farms.
I certainly try to do my part.

The Pee Girls pay the price

Readers of my editorials (you know who you are, both of you) will recall that in my July, 2008 editorial I related the saga of the pee girls, who celebrated the opening of the Grand Lodge by splashing their very own special urine on one of the couches in the lobby.

Do not think that this was done without decorum; the liquids involved were placed in a beer bottle in the privacy of the ladies room. The ladies in question, Gail R____ and Rhonda B____, thought it a great prank, an opinion not shared by the owners of the Grand Lodge, nor by local law enforcement, such as it is. There was never any real question about who the culprits were, since (a) they talked about their exploit freely, (b) they were caught on security tape, and (c) there was an abundance of DNA evidence.

Originally the owners of the Grand Lodge were willing to settle for damages. However our pee girls blew them off, on the mistaken belief that everyone should accept that it was all in good fun. Bad move. The majesty of the law proceeded on its majestic course at an unusually rapid course, and on September 18, 2008, they appeared in Hyde County circuit court where they were sentenced for the intentional damage of property, second degree, pursuant to a plea bargain.

According to an article by Janet K____ in the Miller Press, each of them was sentenced to ten days in jail suspended on the following conditions: pay a fine of $1,000 and be placed on a unsupervised probation for a period of one year beginning Spetember 18, 2008. During the one-year period the defendants shall obey the following conditions as part of their probation:

  1. obey all federal and state laws and munincipal ordinances,
  2. each defendent shall pay one half of the $5,387 restitution ordered, in the amount of $2,693.50.
  3. participate in the 24/7 Sobriety program for a period of three months beginning on September 29, 2008 which includes submitting to a breath test twice a day to be administered by the sheriff in their counties.
  4. not consume any alcoholic beverages or to be present in any business that sells alcoholic beverages for a period of one year.
  5. defendant shall give law enforcement the details of the events that occurred on the night of June 21, 2008.
  6. defendent shall write a letter of apology to the vicitims of this crime, no further contact with the victims by the defendent for a period of one year.
Offhand it sounds as though it would be cheaper to do the ten days, but I suppose that they’re stuck for damages and the fine, regardless.

The terms seem rather onerous to me. It’s not just the money; it sounds as though the entire basis of their social life has been destroyed. After all, here in Outlaw County there are two main focal points for social activity, Booze and God, and the ladies in question don’t seem like the godly sort.

I gather that crow has been added to the menu at the Grand Lodge.

Many thanks to the Miller Press for their coverage of legal events in Highmore.

Further doings in Outlaw County

I am told that a local gentleman was detained for abusing his wife and was housed in the Faulkton jail. Apparently Hyde county doesn’t need a jail, everyone here being a law abiding citizen.

The latest trial date for Highmore’s former police chief, the wife killer, is sometime in December. (There is no doubt that he shot his wife in the head; the issue at hand is whether it was an accidental shooting.)

There was an altercation between various ladies that took place at my cousin’s funeral, the ladies in question being members of his step-son’s party. It happened after I left so I didn’t see the events, but I am told that blows were struck and disparaging comments on each other’s character were exchanged. Assault charges were filed afterwards, but nothing seems to have come of the matter. Pity … I think an elucidation of character in court would have been interesting and informative.

In my last life

In my last life I was a cat that lived with a couple who owned a Chinese restaurant. It was a good life; they made much of me.

Just what kind of bird was that?

Part of my inheritance are bird feeders in the back yard outside the kitchen window. A variety of birds dine on my largesse. There are house finches and goldfinches, sparrows, brown threshers, morning doves, rose breasted grosbeaks, dark eyed juncos, red headed woodpeckers, pine siskins, the inevitable grackles, the occasional blue jay, red winged black birds, and even a pair of Baltimore orioles. There are robins in abundance but they don’t feed at the feeders.

I am not a bird person; I left that to my mother and my sisters. Still, I have some knowledge of the modern dinosaurs of the sky. If I don’t recognize something I can usually find in my handy Stoke’s Field Guide to Birds. Usually that is, but not always.

One day I looked out the window at a bird at the feeders and said to myself, “Self, what kind of bird is that?” A search of the Stoke’s Field Guide yielded nada. Fortunately it hung around a couple of days and I got a good look at it. It was somewhat larger than a finch but not as large as a robin. It had a pale orange belly and breast. It had barred black and white feathers and black and white stripes on its head that ran from front to back. And it was eating black oil sunflower seeds. My birding readers will know exactly what it was. Obviously it was a … er, yeah, what is that thing anyway.

In situations like this I call upon my birding sisters, Nanci in this case. Nanci takes birding very seriously and travels around the world to look at birds. I described my mystery bird; she allowed as how it sounded really weird, and didn’t know what it was offhand. She asked a bunch of questions that established that I am not very good at observing birds. She consulted her bird books. Finally she announced, it’s an immature male black headed grosbeak, probably two years old.

Oh, yes, of course, an immature male black headed grosbeak. Obviously. How could I have ever missed it. Well, it’s like this – my field guide has pictures of a mature male, a female, and an immature male, none of which was a good match to my mystery bird. It turns out that there is, ah, a considerable amount of variation in markings. It also happens that my location is a bit outside the normal range of the black headed grosbeak

Nanci mailed me a copy of The Sibley Guide to Birds which is THE BOOK to have if you are serious about birding. It is also the book to give to a nuisance of a brother who calls you to ask about birds.

The financial center

Warren Buffet says that now is a good time to buy stocks. Yeah, right. Who else has any money left?

From a fund manager:

“This is worse than a divorce. I’ve lost half my net worth and I still have my wife.”

Simply brilliant

A team of scientists at the Carnegie Institution in Washington, D.C. has found a way to (relatively) inexpensively create enormous high quality diamonds. How big? Big are diamonds that weigh upwards of a pound – kilocarat diamonds. So how do they do it?

How do they do it? The traditional way of creating diamonds is to place bits of carbon under extremely high pressures and temperatures. It’s expensive and the quality and size of the diamonds made that way is limited. High temperatures and high pressures are the way that nature made them, but nature had volcanic pipes to play with, something that is still well beyond the capabilities of ingenious technologists.

In the new method, called chemical vapor deposition, a carbon vapor is deposited on a surface in a near vacuum. The resulting diamond is then annealed (baked in an oven) to drive out the impurities.

What will this do this to the jewelry market? Not much, I suppose. Diamonds are used in jewelry because they are pretty, even beauriful. That is a precondition for using them. But there is something else – they are expensive. It is true that their cost is artifical, a result of the manipulations of the diamond cartel, and clever advertising.

If beauty were the only criterion, inexpensive artificial diamonds would replace expensive natural ones. It is not. A major function of jewelry is to put one’s wealth on display. An expensive engagement ring is desirable precisely because it is expensive – it is an affirmation of a man’s ability to spend money on a woman, and an affirmation of her desirability and worthiness of having money spent on her. Fortunately there are ways to tell whether a diamond was produced by the new process, so the utility of diamonds as a status symbol will remain.

This page was last updated November 1, 2008.

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Collected editorials