Smart talk, May 7 

Die-off closing caves


The U.S. Forest Service is closing caves on federal lands to fight a disease that has killed a half million bats, including 90 percent of the wintering bats in New England. Blanchard Springs Cave is still open, but spokesperson Tracy Farley said she anticipated some kind of order soon — perhaps not complete closure — soon.

Humans may be spreading the fungal infection, “white nose syndrome,” by carrying spores from cave to cave. Blanchard Springs is requiring visitors on their Wild Cave Tour to use only the cave's equipment. Farley said there are 800 caves in the Ozark National Forest and spelunkers are being asked to use different gear in every cave they explore. The fungus creates a powdery substance on the nose and causes the bats to starve. The Forest Service has already closed caves and mines in its Eastern region, which includes Missouri.



Horn tooting


Max Brantley, editor of the Arkansas Times since 1992 and a newspaper worker in Arkansas since 1973, was named this week by the University of Arkansas as the 2009 winner of the Ernie Deane Award for “valor in journalism.” The award, given for 16 years in honor of the former Arkansas Gazette columnist and UA journalism professor, goes to journalists who exemplify “the spirit, style and courage of its namesake.” Contributing to this year's award selection was the publication by the Times' Arkansas Blog of the list of concealed weapon permit holders in Arkansas, a hotly controversial decision that led to unsuccessful legislation to close the list to the public.


Bandit in the Spa


“Smokey and the Bandit” comes to life in Hot Springs Monday and Tuesday, May 11 and 12. That's when Bandit Run '09, a four-state re-enactment of the chase in the greatest movie ever made, comes to town.

Along with the Bandit (Trans Ams will never die, Detroit!), there'll be “a meticulously re-created semi-trailer,” presumably with stagecoach chase scene and all, just like the one Snowman drove, and 60 more cars in the convoy.

The vehicles should get to Transportation Plaza in Hot Springs around 3:30 p.m. on Monday and will be on display until about 6 p.m. It's free to gawk.

It's awesome to remember that the plot is all about bootlegging Coors, which couldn't be sold or shipped east of the Mississippi because of arcane liquor laws. Was Coors really that much better than everything else in 1977?





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