PROPS & DISSES: 4.9.14

By on April 8, 2014
Yellowstone bison on a spring sprint.
Yellowstone bison on a spring sprint.

Yellowstone bison on a spring sprint.

JACKSON, WYO – Bison bailing Yellowstone ahead of Big One? DISS
“Bison fleeing Yellowstone ahead of impending supervolcano!” the headlines read. Dozens of blogspots and other soft-news cyber outlets ran wild with news that wildlife in Yellowstone was behaving in a manner suggesting they were clued into a forecast of fire and brimstone.

Fueled by a malfunctioning seismic monitor, a recent 4.8 temblor, and a benign YouTube clip showing bison running and mistakenly rumored as fleeing for their lives ahead of a supposed epic, end-time eruption, this kind of “journalism” is the other edge of the sword to all things useful about the Internet.

For every barroom bet settled on Google over how many home runs Mantle hit in his first season with the Yankees (13 in 1951 at the age of 19, by the way) there is this kind of garbage that passes for news.

Every blog site featured the same video clip of bison trotting down the Yellowstone road. From this, writers extrapolated a catastrophic event was coming our way and the safest place to be if she blows is, according to one site, San Francisco. At the Planet, we decided to downplay the non-event by ignoring it. No luck. Phone calls and emails poured into our editorial department and all wanted to know one thing: Is the “big one” really coming?

For Pete’s sake, people. First off, for those of you who actually live here and spend some time outdoors, you should know better.

Bison run around all the time, especially in the spring. All wildlife does. There is nothing peculiar about a dozen bison trotting down the road. Are they going somewhere? No. Are they tapped into some kind of cosmic energy that imparts to them knowledge of the Earth’s upcoming belch cycle? No.

These are the dumbest creatures on the planet save, maybe, the horned frog and Galloping Grandma’s second cousin, Myrtle, who once threw her soiled Depends onstage at a Tom Jones concert hoping to be invited backstage later. If buffalo were so smart they wouldn’t have been shot to extinction by one guy (Buffalo Bill Cody) with a .50 caliber Sharps.

Secondly, even though it’s titillating to believe animals somehow sense an approaching natural disaster like an earthquake, there is no real scientific evidence of this notion to date. Maybe the Planet won’t be able to put this story to rest so we will leave it to the park service to debunk.

Check out Yellowstone’s official rumor control video:

Rainmaker operation hurts so good PROP
There are two ways of looking at the ongoing cloud-seeding project in the Wind River Range: Either it has been wildly successful, or fabulously wasteful.

Proponents point to the technology as a smart way to influence winter weather precipitation, creating deeper snowpacks, longer spring melts and better growing conditions for Wyoming’s ag industry. Critics believe the fringe science, in use since the turn of the last century, is nothing more than hocus-pocus.

The Winds have gotten so much snow this winter the project had to be halted last week, a month before its scheduled termination at the end of April. Continuing to fund a snowmaking venture during an epic snow season like this one would be like bumping up the Arapaho “rain dance” floor show at the Wind River Casino to two shows nightly during Day 39 of “Noah’s Excellent Adventure”
“We don’t want to exacerbate anything … It’s not worth continuing on, so we’re pulling the plug,” project manager Barry Lawrence told the Star-Tribune. Snowpack in the Medicine Bow Range reached 120 percent of the 30-year average, while the Wind River Range is sitting at 107 percent above average.

So was our glorious winter manmade?
Researchers say they conducted 29 successful cloud-seeding operations this winter, using ground-based generators to create silver iodide, which is carried by air currents into clouds. State policymakers have invested $13 million into the study to determine whether cloud-seeding operations work well enough to stave off drought and make skiers really, really stoked.

Tower of power PROP
Two cell phone towers, one for Verizon and one for AT&T, each 200 feet high, painted in purple and erected on the roof of Councilman Don Frank’s house. Put it on the August ballot. It passes easy-peasy and we can all finally place a freakin’ phone call in this valley.

About Jake Nichols

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