Starting this week, the words "We love to see you smile!" will be heard much more often. Why?
Send your answer by 9 p.m. ET Sunday to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday's Question (No. 450)—"Shoot, Shovel, and Shut Up" :
Experts say that new federal regulations expected to be announced this summer are unlikely to revive a worrisome practice, popularly known in Montana as "shoot, shovel, and shut up," because many residents have embraced a high-tech alternative method. Of doing what?
"Apartment hunting."—Beth Sherman
" 'Curing' Alzheimer's."—Andrew Silow-Carroll
"Avoiding Census 2000. (Although I don't see how hiding under the porch counts as 'high-tech.')"—Tim Carvell
"The Taciturn Biathalon."—Greg Diamond
"Ted Kaczynski has e-mail now?"—Matt Sullivan
Click for more answers.
Montana was originally occupied by a number of Native American people including the Blackfoot, Sioux, Shoshone, Arapaho, and Cheyenne. Most of Montana became U.S. territory in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase, much to the surprise of the Blackfoot, Sioux, Shoshone, Arapaho, and Cheyenne. This sort of territorial exchange was common in those days, but in our time large bits of really good countries rarely come on the market. (If Tuscany is ever up for sale on eBay, it's probably a swindle, so bid conservatively.) Lewis and Clark explored Montana from 1805 to 1806 and both agreed: There it was. This was encouraging news to fur traders who became increasingly active in the region. In 1847, the American Fur Co. established the first permanent settlement at Fort Benton, which surprised you know who. Gold was discovered at Grasshopper Creek in 1862, setting off a Montana gold rush, but calling miners "sixty-twoers" never caught on. (If it had, and if "Clementine" had taken place in Montana, her father would have been some sort of woodsman and the best line in the song would have been: "… lived a hewer, sixty-twoer, and his daughter Clementine.") Cattle-herders and sheepherders soon arrived and began fighting like cattle-herders and sheepherders. Eventually, much was settled with the defeat of Lt. Col. Custer in the Battle of the Little Bighorn, but to the despair of the Sioux and Cheyenne tribes, this victory would avail them little: The cattle-herders, sheepherders, and miners weren't going anywhere. Instead, copper would soon be discovered, and Dustin Hoffman would eventually appear in the movie, bringing along a bewildering accent. In 1889, Montana became the 41st state. (I guess that means in order of importance.) For a Pulitzer-Prize-winning account of Montana's modern history, assuming it has one, read Jonathan Raban's Bad Land: An American Romance. For an Oscar-winning account of the Battle of the Little Big Horn, rent Little Big Man, which really isn't that bad.
Shoot, shovel, and shut up, is yesterday's method of coping with wolves.
Today's wolf-savvy Montana rancher uses the radio tracking collars that monitor most wolf packs to trigger loud alarms near their (the rancher's not the wolf's) livestock, a project subsidized by the Defenders of Wildlife, a private conservation group.
Once shot, trapped, and poisoned nearly to extinction, the species (the wolf, not the rancher) has made such a successful comeback that it is being upgraded from endangered to threatened. In 1948, there were as few as 400 gray wolves in the lower 48 states; now there are more than 3,500 with thousands more in Alaska and Canada.
Tim Carvell's How I Spent the Glorious Fourth Extra
I went to a fine fireworks show in Oakland, Calif., Tuesday night. I understand that in San Francisco the fog was such that most fireworks were invisible. It would seem to me that a fine thing to do under those circumstances would be to simply set fire to some American flags and enjoy the rosy glow. But that's just me.
Historically Accurate and Seasonably Apt Ongoing Extra
In a recent New York Times op-ed piece, Brandeis history professor David Hackett Fischer fulminated about the historical errors in Mel Gibson's The Patriot. I'm blasé about Hollywood's casualness with facts and don't get all het up because the helicopter gunships in Gladiator are not the kind used in ancient Rome, or because the breasts in Erin Brockovich do not occur on regular earth women—or maybe I've confused things; I got lost in that new 55 screen multiplex on 42nd Street and may be conflating several movies and cocktails.
Participants are invited to submit inaccuracies missed by Professor David Hackett Fischer (perhaps because they do not exist). Best responses to run Monday.
- George Washington's farewell to his troops did not conclude with the words, "So hang loose and have a bitchin' summer."
- Tide of battle at Saratoga was not turned by fortuitous arrival of shirtless male models.
- Paul Revere's ride? No talking horse.
- Jefferson's design for his beloved Monticello did not include a hot tub.
- True, the Battle of Bunker Hill did not take place on Bunker Hill, but that doesn't mean it happened in Hawaii with an army of Hula Babes.
- The "Intolerable Acts" did not force anyone to watch Ally McBeal. For God's sake, television wasn't even invented yet. And there's a limit to human cruelty. Or there used to be.
- Few of her contemporaries referred to Betsy Ross as "pert, pouty, and oh so kissable."
- When Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, he did not declare in a German accent, "I'll be back!"
Boy Scouts clean house.