The Billings Outpost

Memories of Billings

The recent articles about falling rocks from the Rims [Outpost, May 15] and the 100th anniversary of the Billings Motorcycle Club reminded me of when I was a teenager, still new to Billings, in the summers of 1948 and ’49. My two younger brothers, Lee and John, and a couple of neighbor guys and I would hike from our homes, by the West Parkway truck stop, to the fairgrounds. We would climb up a crack on the face of the Rims that we called “Devil’s Kitchen” and hike west on the ledge, just under the top of the Rims, to the cave west of Zimmerman Trail and then cut across country back home. Think the Devil’s Kitchen rock must have fallen years ago.

On one of those hikes, we crossed the Yellowstone River on the old bridge and hiked up the ridges where the Billings Motorcycle Club hill climb is. At the very highest point of the ridges, we came across a long pile of rocks with a stick cross on one end of the rocks, held together by what looked like a rawhide thong.

Alongside of what we decided must be a grave, was a skeleton of what we took to be the bones of a mid-sized dog that must have died there guarding his master. We didn’t disturb anything and just had a great slide down the hill and hiked home. With all the activity in that area over the years, I have often wondered if the grave was still visible.

Just a couple of memories of Billings history.

Harold Kelso

Billings

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 July 2014 15:45

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Shocked by ‘shock jocks’

Recently, the mention of the porn-promoting “shock jock” Howard Stern in a book I’m reading about pornography as a serious public health issue reminded me of a morning years ago when I was the topic of conversation on The Big J Show on Hot 101.9.

The day before, Big J had encouraged female listeners to drive to his studio and show him their breasts in exchange for a free CD. Appalled, I sent him an admonishing e-mail. The next morning, he brought it up on his show. I heard not one but two female listeners call in to champion Big J and “raunch culture” in general. One asked why I listened to hip-hop if I was so offended by Big J’s request (the implication being that sexism is at the root, if not the root, of hip-hop). The other called me the “b” word.

The first caller had an excellent point; I turned off the radio and dumped hip-hop for good. The only time I listen to it now is for research’s sake, and its misogynistic, hedonistic, narcissism-promoting message never fails to horrify me.

“Edgy” has come to mean irreverent, pointless vulgarity, a celebration of mindless conformity rather than an innovative pushing of the envelope. Women’s bodies are viewed as a form of legal tender, our sexuality commodified and exploited for profit and as a means of displaying of dominance.

As long as we continue to remain passive about Howard Stern and the litter of fledgling “shock jocks” he spawned who, along with the rest of the media, broadcast this new “edgy” to America’s kids, we cannot reasonably expect anything to change.

Nicole Maas

Portland, Ore.

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 July 2014 15:44

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War on environment

Steve Daines is upset. President Obama made a vitally important decision to bypass a do-nothing Congress and limit greenhouse gas emissions from existing coal plants with EPA rulemaking. 

This is a desperate move by President Obama to limit global warming, which will raise sea levels enough to swamp coastal cities, turn America’s food belt in the West into a desert, while drenching the rest of the nation, and disrupt our ecosystem so dangerously that species will become extinct at a rate that has happened only a handful of times in our planet’s history.

But Steve Daines and many of his fellow Republicans say Obama has declared a “war on coal.” 

Rich people own the coal mines and oil fields. Nobody owns the sun or the wind, the sources of renewable energy that Obama’s rule would steer us toward.

Steve Daines has the back of the billionaires financing his campaign.  Obama is doing what is desperately needed to save the rest of us. Maybe we should thank Obama and tell Steve Daines to take a long hike with his billionaire friends.

Wade Sikorski

Baker

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 July 2014 15:42

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Daines shills for coal

Steve Daines claims he wants to represent Montana in the Senate. He claims that he wants what is best for Montana. He claims that coal will be good for Montana. Well, Daines is either poorly informed or cheerleading for the coal industry. He is running for senator claiming to want to work for Montana citizens; yet instead, he supports the wealthy owners of coal industry.

The Montana economy is strong and our unemployment rate is low. The number of jobs that coal provides to Montanans is minimal. The largest percentile of income in the state is earned by farming and ranching.  After those is tourism.

Yet coal extraction harms these important industries. It is also dwindling as a source of our nation’s energy. The only new market for coal is in Asia. This is why coal companies are now considered poor investments.

Washington’s Gov. Jay Inslee wants to eliminate coal as a source of his state’s energy. In time that state will stop buying power from Colstrip.  Let’s face it - coal is the energy source of the past. It is the greatest contributor to climate change, which we are finally addressing as a nation with new environmental rules requiring upgrades to coal-fired energy plants.

Yet Daines shills for this diminishing, dirty and damaging industry. The future of energy is in renewable energy, which provides jobs for Montanans across the state. With less coal mining in the future more clean energy and jobs develop. This fact renders the argument that coal provides jobs wrong. Yet Daines continues to praise coal. Who is he really working for?

Deb Fischer

Billings

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 June 2014 21:40

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Worries about water

Concern over water is as old as the West itself. Now, with oil and gas companies like Energy Corp. of America drilling wells in Stillwater and Carbon counties, the potential for water contamination in our communities should not be ignored.

Real threats to our water from oil and gas development exist even without considering deep aquifer contamination. The oil and gas industry claims cement lining a well past the depth of groundwater prevents the chemicals in fracturing fluid and oil from contaminating the surrounding surface groundwater.

What the industry fails to mention is how frequently these “well casings” fail. Cracks in a well’s cement lining can happen right away, or after the well has been operating a while. By looking at one’s own driveway it’s easy to see how readily cement cracks. Yet, the oil and gas industry would have us ignore our eyes and simply trust them that cement in wells won’t crack and won’t allow chemicals to leak into our groundwater. The destruction of communities like Butte should remind us that corporations seeking profit at the expense of communities should not simply be trusted to protect water.

The importance of protecting our groundwater from contamination is clear: without clean, available water, our communities would not survive. Oil and gas development, and the process of hydraulic fracturing, threaten our water. To protect our rural way of life, we cannot allow oil and gas companies to contaminate one of our most precious resources. Also threatening is the amount of water development consumes!

Lana Sangmeister

Nye

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 June 2014 11:53

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Renewable energy makes sense

Right now, Montana’s lawmakers are reviewing the Renewable Energy Standard, which requires utilities to increase the amount of renewable energy they buy. But they are trying to fix something that isn’t broken.  Renewable energy is a great buy for Montana. Power from the wind farm at Judith Gap, for example, is cheaper than electricity from Colstrip. That’s a fact. NorthWestern has reported it, and the Public Service Commission has recorded it.

And actually, solar is cheaper too. I know because I just bought solar photovoltaic panels for my house — which I am installing myself — and they are going to pay for themselves in six years. After that, I am going to have free electricity for at least 20 years.

The reason why some legislators want to mess with the Renewable Energy Standard, I suspect, is not because clean energy isn’t working, it’s because the coal lobby is running scared. Some rich people have a lot of money invested in coal, and things are not looking good for coal right now. PPL is trying to sell its share of Colstrip to NorthWestern, but when NorthWestern crunched the numbers, it turned out that Colstrip had a negative value. That’s right. The economics of coal are so bad, PPL would actually have to pay NorthWestern money before NorthWestern would “buy” Colstrip.

If it isn’t broken, the Legislature shouldn’t try to fix it. The Renewable Energy Standard is good for the economy, good for the environment, and good for ratepayers.

Wade Sikorski

Baker

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 June 2014 11:52

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