Tag Archives: Minnesota

Can we please have a scientific cormorant policy in Minnesota?

After hundreds of studies, it has been difficult to link fish predation by cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) to the reduction of fishing quality in Minnesota lakes. It appears that game fish such as walleye and northern pike make up from less than 1% to nearly 3% of the bird’s diet. They eat only small fish. Many of the fish they eat are perch, which prey on walleye, and it is even possible that by culling small walleye or northerns, they increase the growth rate for those fish in two way. One is by reducing competition between fish for food, and the other is by exerting selective pressure for faster growth.

When cormorants were heavily culled on Leech Lake a few years ago, the Walleye fishing got better. The fishermen and resort owners hailed the killing of the birds as a great thing and attributed the improved fishing to the culling policy. However, the lake simultaneously underwent a very aggressive restocking, and slot limits had been imposed at the same time. The fisherman and resort owners are, sorry to say, being stupid about this, rejecting the science, and possibly shooting themselves in the foot.

Two Minnesota Congressmen have been behind changing federal law to allow widespread killing off of cormorants in the state. This, I believe, is unbecoming of a member of Congress who have the responsibility of paying attention to the science, and of being stewards of our national resources at a level greater than a few local whiny mayors and resort owners.

This issue has been brewing for a few years and will continue. I am hoping that the recent focus on the importance of science in developing public policy will mean a more intelligent, less immature and misinformed cormorant policy in Minnesota over the next few years.

Sources and resources on Cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus):

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  • Most-hated bird in the world: Sanctioned killing of cormorants continues unabated in Minnesota (MinnPost)
  • Expert Linda Wires on MPR
  • DNR Cormorant page
  • Audubon Minnesota position paper on cormorants
  • House Bill HR 3074 sponsored by Representative John Kline (Rep-MN2)
  • Photographs of Double Crested Cormorants
  • Cabin Cooking Tips

    Tip 1: Get some corn-on-the-cob and a large pot for which you have a tight fitting top. Husk the corn while you boil a large amount of water in the pot (salted if you like, for flavor). Put the corn-on-the-cob in the water and leave the heat on only for a minute, put the top on and turn off the heat. Since there is no more boiling the corn will not likely overcook. In ten minutes or so it will be ready, but it will sit there in the hot water for a long time (did you remember to keep the to on?) as long as you keep the top on.

    Variation: If you have a smallish pot, microwave the corn for a few minutes before you put it in the boiling water. You’ll get less long term holding because there is less heated mass.

    Tip 2: First, decide if you want to use catchup or ketchup. If you find people objecting to the use of either, call it Umami Sauce. Then, put the Umami sauce and the mustard on the hot dogs BEFORE you grill them. Ketchup, er, I mean, Umami sauce and mustard makes an excellent BBQ sauce. Add any available cooking oil to make more spectacular fire.

    Tip 3: The main use of inexpensive bottled beer is to manage the above mentioned fire. Acquire long-necked bottled beer. Hold with fingers around neck, thumb over opening. Shake lightly and using thumb to regulate flow, the beer bottle now becomes an effective and tasty fire extinguisher. As the amount of beer goes down more shaking will be needed. When it is mostly gone feed it to the dog and get another one.

    Tip 4: You probably don’t really want to feed that to the dog.


    More “Notes from the North Country” here

    Photograph by Amanda Laden, used with permission.

    Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask

    Here in Minnesota, and in surrounding states, there is some real tension between Native and Immigrant communities. The poorest, most drug-ridden, down trodden and repressed communities here are often Native, and conveniently these communities tend to be (but not always are) located far away from urban areas or other places with a lot of white eyes. Health in Native communities is of major concern to the usual institutions and people that are concerned with such things.

    Indians make White people nervous. White people are either worried that the Indian has kooties, or are criminals or something, or they are worried that the Indians will think poorly of them or feel bad about, you know, all that bad shit that happened between our people. And some of that bad shit, here in the Upper Plains and the far western edge of the Eastern Woodlands, is very recent. From here, I could drive to Wounded Knee II in a day. I’ve been told that there are still people…white people…in the southern part of Minnesota with curios made of human body parts taken out of the mass grave filled with those executed at the end of the Dakota War of 1862. Many of our historical monuments, homes, and other sites relate to those troubled times. Fort Snelling, the home of one of the Minnesota Historic Society’s facilities (a State institution) was one of those forts where the guys in blue uniforms parodied on F Troop garrisoned. That is where Chief Shakopee was killed when the blue uniformed soldiers arranged a “running of the gauntlet,” a gauntlet manned by Shakopee’s enemies, as a means of executing him. There were starvation camps set up to cause the population of Native people to go down. There are lakes, towns and counties named after the engineers of those concentration camps. I’m thinking that many Native people know a lot more about these things than the White people do. For instance, my in laws, and many of their friends, and several cousins and relatives have cabins on on lakes in Cass County. I think very few of the White people know who Cass was. Lewis Cass, after whom the county and a major lake in the area were named, was one of those architects. I do end up on a Native reservation for several days a year in that area. The reservation is entirely located within Cass County. That would be like having a Jewish homeland in a province or region named after Himmler.

    So, why am I talking about this? Because one of Minnesota’s own, a professor at Bimidji University, just upstream from Cass Lake, has written a book called Everything You Wanted to Know about Indians But Were Afraid to Ask. This is not just another white guy talking about Indians. Author Anton Treuer is Native, and I just saw him interviewed on a Minneosta political and news show, and that made me want to get the book. It seems to be a sort of FAQ of questions that a lot of White people have about Indians. I’m not sure how much of a focus there is on this region vs. the country, or North America, as a whole, but in the interview, Treuer did discuss the issue of diversity; a question one might have about Indians could sound fairly dumb if you reversed the situation and said something like “What do White people think about abortion?” or “What kind of cars to White people drive?” …. There are hundreds of Native tribes.

    I’m looking forward to learning stuff I didn’t know. I’ll have to look Anton up and see if he’s around during the summer. Maybe we can grab a cup of coffee and swap tales about academia!

    Treuer and his book are also written up here, in the Strib.

    Are bills regulating fireworks there to protect stupid people from themselves?

    Yes. But don’t assume you know a stupid person when you see one.

    Our governor just vetoed a bill passed by our Pointy Headed Republican Legislature which would have significantly reduced regulation on dangerous fireworks in the state, allowing everyone access to explosives that are currently banned.

    Which reminds me of a story.
    Continue reading Are bills regulating fireworks there to protect stupid people from themselves?

    A River Runs By It: Children growing up with science all around them

    Look at this map, of a small part of the state of Minnesota:
    i-549b4bc6c1d95840299a8590a36e04b2-Warren_River_Minnesota_River_Red_Riever_Falls_Glacial_Geology.jpg
    See the wide channel that runs from left to right with the windy river in it? You are looking at one of the most amazing stories in geological history ever. I’d like to tell you about it.
    Continue reading A River Runs By It: Children growing up with science all around them

    Mayday Parade in Minneapolis

    i-63747113adc251ae58ca0fd687e4a7e1-maydayparade.jpgGood morning. Today is “Mayday Day” in Minneapolis. Mayday is a holiday widely celebrated by the community of South Minneapolis. People from North, Northeast and Southeast are welcome, but I’m not sure they know about it. People from “soutwest” Minneapolis ARE from South Minneapolis and they need to learn that using the term “Soutwest Minneapolis” is elitist and exclusionary, which is not the way of the culture of South. No, not at all.

    Typically, you won’t hear about Mayday in the news because mainstream entities such as news agencies don’t quite know what to do with it. Thousands of people get together and have a great time and make a handful of strident and important political statements. The very same people who get arrested for protesting the war-mongering party will be applauded and celebrated here. The very companies that many Minnesotans work for but who are also ruining the planet as the blindly blunder forward with their plans to take over the world are vilified here. The press has no facility for handling this. So they don’t.

    This year may be an especially interesting parade because of what has been happening lately regarding unions, and as has been the case for some time, we have two wars instead of one to criticize.

    The parade is organized and in many ways dominated by the In the Heart of the Beast Puppet Theater. This theater has taken puppets and puppetry to new heights, they run a local theater and apparently you can rent them out for your own fund raisers or other events, so do click on the link and check out their web site if you want to go see an interesting show (great for the kiddies) or do something spectacular in your local neighborhood.

    The Mayday parade is fairly short … several blocks long. If you are a group in Minneapolis chances are you are in the parade. Minnesota Atheists will march. The Mayor will march. The Anarchists Bicyclists from the Hard Times Cafe will … well, not march but ride.

    And the puppets will march. There will be dozens (hundreds?) of small puppets, roughly human size, and a smaller number of giant puppets. Later, in the park to which the parade marches, the puppets will put on some sort of show. Typically, the show involves puppets paddling across the lake on large Kwakiutl style vessels (starting from an island) onto the shoreline, which is behind the stage.

    People like George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld will be there. (As puppets, of course.) I’m not promising anything, but if they are there, bad things may happen to them. There is a just thawed but still frigid lake right there, after all.

    Along with the puppet show there will be a large number of artisans, political groups, and food vendors with booths all around the park. There will be pottery, radical Native American groups, localvores, and mini-donuts.

    At the end of the puppet show (which starts at about 3:00 and goes at least an hour) several dozen people (some of which are sometimes me) will drum before/and/or/after the mass singing of the song “You are my sunshine” during which time, if it has been raining (which it often is) the sun will come out. Possibly. Nobody is expecting miracles.

    The current temperature is about 34 degrees with a steady fetch from the west and overcast not expected to open up to sun shine before the parade starts. It will be in the upper 40s. I don’t think I’ll be one of the people who sets up over night with a blanket on the slopes overlooking the lake to get a spot. Well, nobody actually does that but still… But I’ll be there and I hope to see you there!

    The Wondrous Mystery of Valet Parking

    So, Lizzie1 and I drove up to the restaurant in downtown Minneapolis and spotted the Valet Parking sign. I wanted to valet park because downtown, we’d have to park in a ramp2 anyway, so the cost would be the same or less, and much more convenient and comfortable on this slightly chilly winter night. Plus some kid would get a tip; Some kid saving for college or whatever.
    Continue reading The Wondrous Mystery of Valet Parking

    Social Networking is a wonderful new technology that will unleash human potential

    But that isn’t always how it goes.

    On today’s radio show, Steve Borsch was talking about the way in which social networking (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) is playing out — as an extension of social interaction more than as a new form of shopping mall or marketing environment — and an observation I made a couple of weeks ago during the Vikings game congealed like mucus in the back of your throat when you are getting over a cold (See Pandemonium Looms in Minneapolis). So, since I have a blog, I thought I’d hack it up for you.
    Continue reading Social Networking is a wonderful new technology that will unleash human potential

    What Was Republican Rep Hackbarth Doing in the Planned Parenthood lot with Binoculars and Loaded Gun?

    Tom Hackbarth is from Cedar, Minnesota and is a veteran member of the Minnesota House of Representatives. The district he represents is just north of where I live (I’m near 113th and the southern border of Hackbarth’s district is 181st) and overlaps with Michele Bachmann’s congressional district. Hackbarth is a Republican and has been re-elected to represent this district a number of times. With the Republicans taking over the Minnesota house this year, he is the new chair of the Environment and Natural resources Committee. And, when asked by reporters from our local TV station what he was doing behind the planned parenthood building after hours with a map of the neighborhood, a pair of binoculars, and a loaded gun, his reply was:

    “No clue.”
    Continue reading What Was Republican Rep Hackbarth Doing in the Planned Parenthood lot with Binoculars and Loaded Gun?

    Sherlock Holmes in Minnesota

    I’ve become very interested in Minnesota history, and by interested I mean annoyed in many cases. The first thing white Minnesotans did was to exploit the Indians. The second thing they did was to throw the Indians out, move them to reservations, kill them, and otherwise treat them very poorly. Meanwhile, they got going on the process of cutting down 90 percent of the trees in the state. Even New York State, where I grew up, did not have such wanton destruction of the forests, and Whitie had two hundred more years to do it there. They also killed off most of the wolves. Oh, and both wolves and Indians had actual monetary bounties on them. Both Indians and Wolves were killed for bounty in times recent enough that the average old Minnesotan white person may have had a parent or grandparent involved in that business.

    I’m also very interested in Sherlock Holmes. My interest is partly because they are fun stories, but it goes deeper than that. I’m interested in semiotics, and the Holmes stories have been investigated and discussed in that context. I’m interested in race and racism, and the Holmes stories are a window int the inter-ethnic attitudes of colonial period England. I’m interested in South Africa, and these stories overlap in time with major events related to the British and South Africa, including the largest and most intense war ever fought by Britain to date. And so on.

    So, how do these things relate? Well …
    Continue reading Sherlock Holmes in Minnesota

    Walking around the lakes

    When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time at lakes, but the idea of walking around a lake hardly every occurred to me or anyone else. This might be because the lakes were either really big (like the Great Sacandaga Reservoir) or nestled into deep sided rock canyons carved out by glaciers, and thus, not walk-aroundable. Lakes were central places, termini of inland pathways, points along long distance hikes, not things you walked around.

    Continue reading Walking around the lakes