Monday, April 20, 2015

Monday at the Bar: Courthouses of the West: Federal Courthouse, Lander Wyoming

Courthouses of the West: Federal Courthouse, Lander Wyoming:





This is the Federal Courthouse in Lander Wyoming, however it hasn't been used in that capacity in many years. The building is leased out by the Federal government, and chances are that most people, even in Lander, are not aware that this is a courthouse or that it has a courtroom.

I once had a case, about fifteen years ago, in which it was briefly suggested that the trial could be held in the courtroom, when this building was then under lease to the National Outdoor Leadership School, but the suggestion was quickly rejected on the basis that the courtroom had not been used as one in many years, and that it was too small.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Video: 100 Years on the Lincoln Highway | Watch Wyoming PBS Documentaries Online | Wyoming PBS Video

Video: 100 Years on the Lincoln Highway | Watch Wyoming PBS Documentaries Online | Wyoming PBS Video

A topic that I've discussed here from time to time, early transportation in Wyoming.  Interesting stuff.

April 19, 1865: “The Most Solemnly Grand Imposing Display “ | Wyoming Postscripts

April 19, 1865: “The Most Solemnly Grand Imposing Display “ | Wyoming Postscripts

Synchronicity

Several months ago, for no particular reason, I suddenly had the urge to email an old law school friend.

When he wrote back that day, he'd told me that he'd woken up in the middle of the night, and wondered how I was doing.

Synchronicity.

Recently, I went to look up an event I must speak at for my publisher.  About five minutes later she emailed me regarding the event.

Synchronicity. 

Recently I went to Denver.  The proceeding I was at went way over-length.  On the way home, before Cheyenne, my wife called and informed that friends had been in an accident north of Cheyenne.  Could I pick them up?

Yes, but only due to. . .

Synchronicity.

Years and years ago, indeed perhaps a couple of decades ago, a friend and I left work early, on the last day of Blue Grouse season, to go hunting. We never left work early, but we did that day.  We drove high up into the Big Horns, not really a wise decision on the last day of November, which was the last day of Blue Grouse season.  The road started to drift in, and we decided to turn around, but then decided to go one more ridge, for no good reason. We had actually decided to turn around.  When we got on the top of the ridge, there in the drifted in road was a sedan with an elderly man astride it.  It turned out he was just out of the hospital, from hip replacement surgery, and had decided to go for a mountain drive and become lost.  At that time of the year, with no cattle or sheep in the high country, and no earthly reason for anyone to be up there, it would likely have been days before anyone came that way.  But we did, and we pulled him out.

Synchronicity.

Some call synchronicity "coincidence", which expresses the same thing, sort of.  Synchronicity expresses the phenomenon of extraordinary things in time sync, while coincidence express to things, incidents co-existing in time.  But what is missing from the etymology of both words is the fact, and I think it is a fact, that there's a mysterious element of it which is beyond explanation, and which is metaphysical.

People can dismiss that, but they do so at their hazard.  Open to that possibility, indeed reality, many more things show to be synchronicitous.   Why does one thing suddenly go one way, when past examples show that it should not.  Sometimes, we're placed somewhere, and sometimes, others are placed somewhere in relation to us.  Probably much more often than we realize.

Sunday Morning Scene: Churches of the West: First Christian Scientist, Denver Colorado

Churches of the West: First Christian Scientist, Denver Colorado:





This impressive structure is located in the Capitol Hill district of Denver Colorado. It has a Greek Revival style. I otherwise know nothing about it, including when it was built.

In this photograph, you can see the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in the background, which is about one block away.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Old Picture of the Day: New Mexico Dust Storm

Old Picture of the Day: New Mexico Dust Storm: Today's picture shows a dust storm in New Mexico. The picture was taken in 1935. What a terrible time this must have been.

Old Picture of the Day: North Dakota Dust Storm

Old Picture of the Day: North Dakota Dust Storm: Today's picture shows a dust storm in 1937. The picture was taken in North Dakota. Things look so bleak and barren one wonders how ...

Old Picture of the Day: Dust Storm

Old Picture of the Day: Dust Storm: Dust Bowl week continues with this picture of a dust storm. The picture shows a dust storm as it engulfs Stratford, Texas. The picture...

Old Picture of the Day: Dust Bowl

Old Picture of the Day: Dust Bowl: Welcome to Dust Bowl Week here at OPOD. I read yesterday that California might be experiencing the worst drought since the Middle Ages...

Old Picture of the Day: Oklahoma Dust Bowl

Old Picture of the Day: Oklahoma Dust Bowl: Today's picture shows a dust storm in Boise City, Oklahoma. The picture was taken in 1936. What a dry hopeless scene this is.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Romantic Nonesense of the Feral Horse

 http://cdn.loc.gov/service/pnp/cph/3a00000/3a04000/3a04600/3a04644r.jpg
 Human being engaged in shocking example of lack of horse appreciation. . . or perhaps an Indian capturing a future mount in a romantic visage of the Old West.

I read in the Tribune that the Federal Government has re-placed, as in placed again, several hundred feral horses, inaccurately commonly termed "wild" horses, on the Federal domain in Nevada.  The local county and a local rancher protested, but to no avail.

And well they should have protested.  Feral horses have about as much place in the natural ecosystem of North America as feral house cats do.  None the less, feral cats, despised by bird lovers and naturalist alike, are detested when wild, while piles of gooey romantic slop are poured out about the feral horse.

I like horses, truly I do. But horses are an introduced animal in North America. There's nothing wild about them whatsoever.  As a protected animal on the public domain, they're busy destroying their range and displacing the native wildlife.  From a natural prospective, they shouldn't be there.  Indeed, feral horses are an environmental disaster.

They are there, as every generation of horse users up into the 1980s lost or dumped a few over the years.  Romance has it that every single wild pony out there is a Spanish Barb, but they aren't.  They're just as likely to bear Percheron genes in their lineage as something that was ridden by a Conquistador from Spain.

In this context, it's interesting to turn a bit to the focus of what this blog is supposed to be about; history.

As "wild horse" advocates like to point out, there were horses in North America in vast antiquity. What they don't like to point out is that those horses were an ancestor of the current horse, and bear about as much resemblance to the modern horse as pre human hominid species bear to us, or less.  I.e., if you saw one, you might not think horse at all, or if you did, it'd be "sort of horse like".  They were, as a rule, quite small and not of the useful riding variety at that.  They were most useful as meat for every meat eating thing.

No, the modern horses' story really starts in Asia and the European Steppes, not North America.

The first horses, as we conceive of them, came over with the Europeans.  Europeans were bringing horses with them from day one for obvious reasons.  It was one of the things that shocked and amazed the native inhabitants, which had no similar riding animal.

Europeans also lost a few pretty quickly.  The Spanish lost some of their various horses, blooded and not, fairly quickly, but then so did the English, Dutch and the French (and, some claim, the  Russians).  Pretty much anywhere you go on a colonizing enterprise, somebody is going to get sloppy or an accident is going to happen.  Horses, therefore, of a multiplicity of types, went feral where they could or went into native hands pretty quickly, for the most part, although usually on an edge of contact basis.  I.e., not continent wide.  Not only horses, it should be noted, but burros and mules as well.

In the American West, where the romantic slop about wild horses is focused, horses were first taken up by the natives in the early to mid 1700s, actually later than often generally supposed.  The location of the "first contact" with horses in some cases is preserved.  Indeed, one such encounter in Wyoming left the name of the location, Horse Creek, in that fashion, although such names should not be immediately relied up on as, after all, there are a lot of Horse Creeks and you need more data than that.  That particular spot was for one of the Sioux bands.  The Sioux and Cheyenne, as is well known, took up the horse enthusiastically.  The Shoshones, however, did not, except for a band that argued for their adoption, mostly made up of young men. That group was called The Arguers, or as we know them by that name in their native language, the Comanche.  Thus bloomed the native "horse culture", the run of which was extraordinarily brief.

By that time, the early to mid 1700s, the natives were largely picking up horses from feral bands of horses.  And those horses did indeed include descendants of mixed Spanish stock.  But that doesn't mean that they were all descendant of fine blooded horses by any means.  Not every Spaniard mounted in North America was a Don of noble lineage, and not all of their horses were of the type a Don would have ridden. That doesn't make them bad by any means, however.

Less well noted, by that time it seems probable that French Canadian horses, of a type called the Canadian, and likely descendant of Norman stock, were also wondering loose and coming down from the north, or just occasionally getting separated from the courier du bois.  Horses, generally oblivious to bloodlines themselves, mix freely and therefore the "pure" line of any one group of horses should be questioned, at least when not presented with greater detail.  And for that matter, to some degree, it doesn't matter.  It's fairly well demonstrated that, in North America, all western feral bands bread towards a grade standard of tough hardy pony.   Most "range horses", as they were typically called, resemble those ridden by Mongolian nomads more than they resembled something we'd imagine a Conquistador riding.

Range horses were a free resource by the late 19th Century, and by that time, both the Indians and the stockmen were making free use of them. Even the Army did, acquiring them from horse traders, intentionally, or occasionally from captured Indian stock, for supplementing those procured through the established remount system of the time.. The tough nature of the Range Horse, really a tough pony, was appreciated over the more injury prone "American Horse", which was larger and had a different dietary requirement.

 No use kicking - cowboys saddling a wild horse, Roosevelt Day, Cheyenne, Wyo.
Cowboy saddling a wild horse during Frontier Days, Cheyenne Wyoming circa 1903.

It'd be tempting to conclude the story here, and often it is, but that would not be historically accurate.  When the Frontier closed, the horse era was still alive and well, and there were plenty of feral horses around free for the taking.  They continued to be regarded as a free resource for ranchers well into the 20th Century, and it became common for some ranchers to supplement their incomes by domesticating a few captured.  Some of these went directly into use on ranches, but others not.  During World War One, more than a few were sold to British Remount agents, which sparked some protests from the British soldier users.  This all went on into the 1950s and 1960s.

 Wild horse round up
Wild horse roundup, 1920s.

Just as horses were taken from these bands well into the 60s (and likely the 70s), horses were contributed to them as well.  In the early stock raising days in the west ranch horses were simply turned out to fend for themselves during the winter, and by the spring they were pretty darned wild in their own right.  No doubt not all of them came back into ranch use every spring.  And horses continued to get lost, etc. In the 1930s horses were outright abandoned, as desperate farmers pulled up stakes and moved on.  Plow horses that were very far from wild found themselves in wild bands, as their human owners gave up on them. This repeated itself in the West in the 1980s, when those who had bought pleasure horses during good times abandoned them when times got tough.

 Catching, roping and tying horses in the corral to remove their shoes at the end of the summer season before turning the horses out on the range for the winter. Quarter Circle U, Brewster-Arnold Ranch Company. Birney, Montana
Stock horses, being roped so their shoes can be pulled before being turned out for the winter.  Montana, 1940s

This is not to say, however, that the use of wild horses remained the same throughout this period.  Indeed, it did not, as better options were available.   The Army moved away from range horses around the turn of the prior century, as it moved towards more blooded stock.  That move created the post World War One Remount system which in turn provided horses for breeding purposes to stockmen, who were eager to acquire the better stock that this allowed for.

By the 80s, indeed by the 1970s, a new era of nonsense had come in.  Driven on by the idea that certain forces were going to extinguish wild horses from the range, and motivated by the efforts of Wild Horse Annie, wild, that is feral, horses became Federally protected, and we've had to live with that ill thought out effort ever since.

The basic problem is that there'd never been a day when new horses weren't being added to "wild" bands, and there'd  never been a day when humans weren't culling them as well.  Federal protection was sold on the "romance" of the West, but in truth, humans had been removing horses from feral populations from the very first day they'd existed. Europeans recaptured horses if they could. Indians captured them as well.  Ranchers did likewise, for use and for sale.  An effective brake, therefore, existed on the expansion of the population. With the Wild Free Horse and Burro Act of 1971, that was no longer true.

And the results were pretty predictable. The population tends to get out of control, and the Federal government has to come in and address it. This brings out the deluded, who imagine these populations to be wild, when they are not, and somehow fails to grasp that the critical element that existed in prior days, human culling, was removed from the act. The horses in turn expand their population and destroy the range, to the determine of everything, including actual wild native animals.  The nonsense associated with them, including a wholly unwarranted Federal expense on a non native domestic animal, also serves to breed contempt for the Federal government in a region where it is little appreciated to start with, fueling such bad ideas as the transfer of Federal lands to the states, as local populations seek to free themselves of such overreaching.

The solution to this is quite simple.  Horses could simply be returned to state management, or lack of it, as they had been in former eras.  In this day and age, it's unlikely that any state would allow them to be wholesale removed, and several of the states that have isolated bands of "wild horses", including Wyoming, are quite proud of them.  But states would manage the matter better, and by inserting the element that made this story so "romantic" to start with, actual horsemen.

Not that this is going to happen. The trend is in the opposite direction. A peculiar example of a domestic animal gone feral, and preserved in a feral state by romanticism, with romanticism being based on human interaction, which is now precluded.

Career help at the high school

Last night I attended a session for high school juniors and their parents concerning in state post high school options, of which Wyoming has quite a few.

I was impressed, frankly, that they work so hard on this now. When I graduated high school, in 1981, I don't recall that being the case.  Perhaps, of course, I simply ignored it, but I'm pretty sure that there wasn't much of it.  Indeed, I don't ever recall going to something like that, and about all I do recall is taking some sort of career aptitude test  while there, and having to see my guidance counselor and obtain his signature prior to my graduating.  I recall when I did that I had a hard time finding him in the office and finally had to track him down early in the morning, whereupon he signed my form without offering any advice.  Frankly, I think the school system failed us in this regards.

Now they're doing well however.

And part of that doing well was the attendance, by the various community colleges and the university of the session, with each institution, plus the Electricians education program (a very good local program) all explaining what was unique about their programs and institutions.

The one thing I was disappointed to see is that the session wasn't well attended, or rather not as well attended as I would have guessed, but you can't make people come.  One irritating aspect of it I've already noted, which was the recently arrived Bostonians comments on various aspects of the local post high school school options, which were offered in seeming ignorance of the history of what they were commenting upon.  Their daughter sat stoned faced through the entire thing, but as kids acclimate quickly, I can pretty much guess what she was thinking.

Anyhow, nice to see this being done.  Some things do indeed improve over time, and this has certainly improved vastly since 1981.

Ineffective Point of Argument II: "I came here in . . . "

"I come from back (fill in blank here) and. . . "

Okay, this particular item pertains particularly strongly to the West, but similar arguments no doubt exist everywhere.  It comes in two distinct forms, neither of which make for an effective argument.

One I've been seeing a lot of here is "I came here back in '96 and".  Indeed, there's an argument like that in this past weekend's Tribune, presented in a letter to the Editor.  The point the correspondent thinks they're making is that they've been here for a long time and have particular local knowledge.

The problem with that, and which is particularly demonstrated by the letter of this past weekend, is that for people with a really long association with an area, perhaps a lifelong one, a lot of these dates suggest that the person in fact has low association with an area.  In the example cited, the correspondent is writing about a suggested change to the  City of Casper.  I've written on the same topic, and raised a couple of the same points, but didn't maintain some others.  One point that the writer tried to maintain was that the correspondent had been here since 96, and was tired of all the people who moved in during the boom and would be glad to see them go.

Well, many people here can remember 86. . .or 76. . I can.  I was born in 63 and might remember at least one thing from 66.  Plenty of locals do, and from 56, 46 or 36.  Saying that you came here in 96 emphasizes to us that you are actually part of the demographic, newcomers, whom you are complaining about.  Or, if you are trying to establish your credentials for long observation, to us, you can't.  You don't have it.  It's a poorly presented argument.

The other way that this is presented is usually as a joyful observation by an admitted newcomer who has a nifty suggestion for how we can make this place a bit more like the place they fled for some reason. Again, that's a poor argument.


This is just a bad thing to say,if you are in the West.  But you see it all the time. Somebody wants to argue for something, and in order to prove hteir love of their locality, they poitn out that htey moved from someplace else to here.

That doesn't make your argument credible, it makes you an outsider who is coming in and telling us what to do. We don't care about how you did things back home.  You aren't back home.  If you liked how they did it back home, you should go back there.  That's how that argument will be received.

Provincial?  Yes it is, but we tend to be that way here.  If you are presenting an argument to provincial people, it doesn't help to suggest that you aren't form the province. The point isn't that you aren't from here.  A lot of people aren't. But if you moved here as an adult, if you present this argument, you probably better have at least 30 years of residence before you begin trying to throw it around in a general audience.

________________________________________________________________________________

Postscript
The other way that this is presented is usually as a joyful observation by an admitted newcomer who has a nifty suggestion for how we can make this place a bit more like the place they fled for some reason. Again, that's a poor argument.

It occurs to me that there's another variant of this.  This occurrence comes to mind as I just saw it in action at a public meeting.

What that is, is when a newcomer has an observation and loudly or persistently feels that they have a brilliant or important solution to a problem they've observed, without bothering to learn if there's a history to the situation.  Normally those who know the history will quite frankly keep their mouths shut unless really provoked, which doesn't mean that it isn't irritating.

In this example, at a public meeting, a newly arrived (three years) person from Boston wanted to know why Wyoming doesn't have a second four year university.  She was persistent in the point and nobody bothered to clue her in as to why.  This might be regarded as a minor matter, but it really isn't.

The reason that we don't have a second four year school (that is a state funded school, we do have a second four year school) is that we've already fought that fight and lost it. But, in sort of a typical American fashion, the winning side accommodated the losing side and we're very happy with the result.

Back in the 1970s there was a big local push here to make Casper College the second four year university.  It's a big community college, and the oldest one in the state, and we were in a boom (yep, that again).  So local legislators and the community pushed hard for that, but we lost.

But after that, the University started to offer UW class at Casper College, and that developed into the University of Wyoming at Casper College, a massive program that offers quite a few Bachelors degrees. We here really lucked out. UW took heed of our complaints and addressed them in a spectacular fashion. We basically fully got what we wanted.

Except, perhaps, if you just arrived here recently and where you were from had more than one four year school.

Now, this is a western state with a small population.  Some western states with small populations do have more than one university, but it's worth noting that many that do have one major one and then others that are very small. We've surpassed that.

None of which, I'm sure the Boston commenter knew. But her comments, to the veterans of this fight, suggest we give up what we got in favor of a doubtful proposition.  It comes across like a kid, after demanding ice cream but getting pie, throwing it across the room.  Not well received.

Or, I suppose, it'd come across like going to a Boston city counsel meeting and saying "Wow!  Cool city!  Why doesn't the Crown put in a courthouse here?"

Pet Peeves: The overly detailed receptionist

Receptionist:  Hello, this is Anonymous Law Firm, how may I help you?

Me:  This is Pat, is Joe in?

Receptionist: Did you say this is Cat?

Me:  No, Pat.

Receptionist:  Todd?  (No joke, about 25% of the time when I've said Pat, they ask me if I said Todd).

Me:  No, Pat, P, A, T.

Receptionist:  Okay Todd, may I ask whom you are calling?

Me;  Um, Joe.

Receptionist:  Are you an attorney?

Me:  Yes.

Receptionist:  And may I tell him why  you are calling?

Me:  I'm returning his call.

Receptionist: And what did that concern?

Me:  Whatever it was that he was calling about. He called just five minutes ago.

Receptionist: And what was he calling about?

Me:  Um. . . I'm sure he knows.

Receptionist:  Shall I see if he is in?

Me: That'd be great, thanks.

Pause. . . . .

Receptionist:  He says he's not in.

Me:  Really, he asked me to call him?

Receptionist:  Well Todd, would you like to leave a message.

Me:  The name is Pat, and yes I'd like to leave a message.

Receptionist:  Todd, would you like to leave that with me or his voice mail?

Me:  Does he check his voice mail?

Receptionist:  Yes.

Me:  I'll take voice mail.

Receptionist:  Okay, what is your message.

Me:  Umm, I'd like voice mail.

Receptionist:  Okay, I'll let him know that.

Me:  No, wait, I'd like to leave him a message on his voice mail.

Receptionist:  And will he know who you are?

Me:  I hope so, he called me five minutes ago and we have only one case together, I think he'll know which one that is.

Receptionist:  And whom shall I tell him he is calling?

Me:  Pat.

Receptionist: And what shall I say this is about, Cat?

Me:  No, Pat, and I'm returning his call.

Receptionist:  And what was he calling about, Todd?

Unsolicted career advice for the student No. 2: Stress and the law, know your mind.

Quite some time ago I wrote a couple of posts that are basically directed at people pondering the law as a career; one being a Caveat Auctor thread and the other on getting a useful prelaw education.  I'm sure that absolutely nobody who is pondering law school reads this blog, as hardly anyone does, but I recalled those when I read the most recent issue of The Wyoming Lawyer.  Then I forgot about it until this week.

 
Enigmatic message on a marble bench on the Byron White Courthouse in Denver Colorado originally penned by Francis Quarles, who also stated "No Cross, No Crown". I've never been too sure what this message actually was intended to counsel, but Quarles did not seem to be an advocate of idleness.  I suppose its supposed to inspire a person to strive on, forsaking rest, but in a life that's not long anyhow, maybe it really should be read to counsel the opposite, as some entire cultures do.*

On Monday last, I had a telephonic hearing with a lawyer I've been working against in a case. A really nice guy, we'd gotten along well in the case, which certainly isn't always the situation with opposing counsel  Some lawyers can be real jerks, but this guy wasn't.  Just prior to the hearing he asked me for a continuance of the schedule.  He'd already asked the other defense counsel in the case the same thing, and he'd agreed to it.  I had my reservations, but I agreed to it too. They both wanted one, and while I didn't need one, there were things I could do with the extra time.  All went well, counsel were friendly, the court cooperative, and everyone parted, it seemed, in good spirits.

Then, that night, that lawyer went home and killed himself.  I didn't see it coming.  I wish I hadn't agreed to the extension. With trial right around the corner, I feel he would have hung on out of loyalty to the client.  Maybe the crisis would have passed.

Back to the magazine.  The Wyoming Lawyer is the monthly magazine that members of the Wyoming State Bar receive. It's nicely done and has pretty good production values, which is more than I can say for a lot of career journals. This month's is mostly about psychological well being.  Then the ABA Journal came out, and it had an article on the same thing, maybe more than one (I didn't keep the journal around long, as it didn't appear to be that interesting of an issue).

I'm not really going to comment on the psychological well being context, but it does raise an interesting point for those pondering entering the law, that being, are you up for it?

That may seem like a silly question, but apparently the statistics are alarming for lawyers.  The depression rate is really high, apparently twice that of the general public, and that manifests itself in all sort of terrible ways, from consuming gallons upon gallons of alcohol, to taking illegal drugs, to dicey behavior.  Indeed, I think I've known lawyers, over time, who fell into all of these vices.  Additionally, apparently, the suicide rate is high for lawyers, although the statistics vary on that.  Dentists may or may not have a high rate as well.  Lawyers come out something like second or third in that grim area.  I've known quite a few dentists, but I've never known one who harmed himself.  I can't say that about lawyers, however.  Definitely not now, sadly.  Indeed, after the tragic event mentioned above occurred, another lawyer told me about a fellow that we know of, who died quite awhile back, who also took his own life.  I didn't know him that well, and I don't think that this was widely known (or if it was, I didn't know it).  And it occurred to me that I know of at least one other instance, which in that case was apparently mixed with the resort to illegal drugs, which no doubt made the situation even worse.  And in further pondering I realized I know if yet another lawyer who fell into some sort of weird situation, in another state, and ended up in an armed standoff with the authorities.  Guess I hadn't really pondered any of this until now, but it occurs.

All of this, or at least most of it, seems to be due to people's inability to deal with stress, although in the recent example I mentioned, the lawyer had suffered a horrible psychological trauma as a young man, and my guess is that is what caused his grim frame of mind, not the law.  Various state bar organizations, including our state bar, have set up programs to deal with lawyers falling into the vices noted above, and attempt to help their members, but I wonder how much of this really can be proactively dealt with.

One reason that I doubt it is that lawyers like to repeat the propaganda that our adversarial system is the best in the world.  I think there's real reasons to doubt that, and the less adversarial systems of France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Switzerland, and so on, are at least as good as ours.  At any rate, a system which encourages adversarial conduct is going to be stressful in and of itself.  No doubt about it.  Beyond that, a legal education system that has flooded the market with young lawyers is also going to whack them upside the head with stress.  Most traditional legal education systems tended to weed a lot of people out, and the American system itself did at one time, but this is no longer so much the case. The schools produce the graduates and state bars are moving towards systems that let most of them in.

All that means you have a lot of people who may have entered for one reason or another but now find themselves fighting for work and fighting for a living. That sounds pretty stressful.  This would, however, seemingly be uniquely the case in litigation work, which is fighting.  I wouldn't think transactional work, for example, should be as stressful.

Having said that, one other added element of that, I suspect, is that at the end of the day, the law is about solving problems.  And that means people transfer their problems to the lawyer.  It's easy to think of lawyers as guys with expensive suits engaging in witty banter all day long, but in reality for almost every single lawyer the day is filled with attempting to solve other people's problems.  In litigation, of course, that means advancing a point that they desire, one way or another, which may be all the more stressful as the solution may not really be tailor made for their actual problem, whatever that is.

Recently I ran a series of letter snippets here between my grandmother and grandfather, on my mother's side, all of which related to either World War One or riding horses.  I didn't, by any means, put up all those letters.  But I know, from family stories and what not, how things were and went.  My grandmother, at the time she wrote those letters, was 26 years old and hoping to get married to my grandfather, who was struggling to get a start in business.  They did get married, but about five years later, when he'd returned home to Montreal.  I note that, as if you read the letters in their entirety, you can see that he was frequently ill in his 20s and obviously very stressed out. The family well knew that.  At the time those letters were written he'd already received a discharge from Canadian service due to ill health, which was mostly due to a very nervous disposition, and he'd struggle with that his entire life.  Indeed, he ultimately turned to drinking himself, until my grandmother told him to knock it off, and he did, simply quitting.

My point here is not to condemn him.  By all accounts, his children loved him greatly and the family was a very noted family.  But rather something that was noted at the time, and was noted later, is that he was an extremely intelligent man whose constitution just couldn't endure high stress.  He would probably have been better off as an academic or something. But, coming from a family of very high achievers, and being uniquely afflicted in this sense, nobody really understood that and he followed along the well trodden family path of business.  Ultimately, it did work out okay, but it was hard on him.

I wonder how many other people find themselves in situations like that.  From groups of high achievers, and uniquely oppressed by such a condition.  Now, there's all sorts of things that can be prescribed for such people, although I'm personally bothered by the degree to which Americans resort to pharmaceuticals for everything now days.  I wonder if a person should take something like this into account. 

Over the past year or so I've run across lawyers who were drinking too heavily, one who was engaged in an improper relationship with a female employee which resulted in the end of his marriage, one who seems to be on the constant edge of a nervous breakdown (assuming that's still regarded as a real condition), one who writes nasty letters but who won't answer his phone, one who quit law work, went into policing, and then had an improper relationship with another policeman while at work, and now one who killed himself.  I can't say that all of these are reactions to stress, but all but the last one are so common in this line of work, I wonder.

Some lines of work require psychological testing before entering them, I'm told.  Law enforcement now does, I guess.  I know that American submariners and missile crewmen do.  I kind of wonder if law schools ought to at least require some sort of testing to inform the student of if their makeup is suitable for the law, before they invest in their education.  But then law schools generally aren't very good about informing students about the practice of law in general, and have low interest in discouraging people from entering law school.

Be that as it may, a person whose prone to bad reactions to stress maybe ought to think twice about some aspects of the law, assuming that they know that they have that character trait, which I suspect few people do, until their really under stress.

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 Postscript

On this topic, because I think its significant, and because  I recently saw an example of how this is true that brings it to mind, I thought I'd amplify something that's mentioned above, but which wasn't expanded on much when I noted it.  That's the element of responsibility in the law.

I hear all the time, from people contemplating a legal career, that "they like to argue", as if that somehow qualified anyone to be anything.  Make no mistake, it isn't whether you like to argue or not that makes you qualified to be a lawyer, or makes the law an ideal career for you. If you truly like to argue, that may just make you a jerk.

The bigger question is whether you like to take on the responsibilities of others.

That's the key aspect of a legal career and legal personality.  Everything else is ancillary.

Most people don't, quite frankly, like to take on the hopes, dreams and burdens of others, and carry the full weight of them.  Some do, but most do not. But that's what an awful lot of lawyers do, and that's what all lawyers do to some extent.

That, for litigators, this is done in an adversarial setting doesn't change that.  A lawyer arguing in court his hoping to win something for somebody else, and that person is depending on them. 

That's the key thing, I think, that causes stress in the law.  A lot of people who have entered the law because they were smart, analytical, etc., may not have realized that what they were signing up for was to be completely devoted to the causes and hopes of other people. And that can wear on a person.  It wears on some more than others.

And it's something that people don't understand at all.  For that reason, there's little relief from it at any stage.  Family, which should be the primary refuge from this, provides one of the main areas where it doesn't occur.  The lawyer, being a person who solves problems for others all day, is expected to keep on doing that at night.  Men and women who travel weary hours for others are asked to turn around and do it for those at home. All that is reasonable enough.

But that gets to some very much, and that's something that a person entering this field should be aware of. 

The paradox of it is that if a person is motivated by a "desire to help others", in my view, this is also the wrong career. That suits a person for social work, or perhaps for the seminary, but not really for the law.  That's a greater type of calling, and this is a more narrow one. The work of the lawyer is more at the pick and shovel end of things, but none the less the work is often desperate and important, and a lot of weight if carried on that person's shoulders.  Just because a person liked to compete in high school or college debate doesn't mean that they want to take on the desperate causes of other people. That's something that at least all lawyers do a little, and some lawyers do a lot of, and that's something to consider.

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*On the other side of the building are the words "Alternate rest and labor long endure."

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Writing inspirations – imagining life for settlers in days gone by « M J Wright

Writing inspirations – imagining life for settlers in days gone by « M J Wright

This Day in US History… 1865: Good Friday | Wyoming Postscripts

This Day in US History… 1865: Good Friday | Wyoming Postscripts

Ineffective Point of Argument III: I came to (fill in blank here) and won't come back unless. . .

Some what related to number II, just posted, is the argument we see around here from somebody disgruntled with Wyoming politics, as they read it in their paper back east. These will read something like "I went to your wonderful Yellowstone National Park last summer and have now read that your state is in litigation with the Federal government over wolves in your state.  If you don't give up this dastardly action I shall never return to Wyoming with my family and you won't have my tourist dollars.  Joe Urban, Manhattan. . "

A similar one we sometimes see is "how would you like it if we New Yorkers decided to hunt whales near the Statue of Liberty, huh?"

Well, see the prior note about this being a provincial area.

Tourism is one of the three pillars of the state's economy, but it's the poorest paying and the one whose impact is most perceived by the hotel industry and retail business, so most of us don't notice it.  The impact of agriculture and the mineral industry is obvious, tourism not so much, other than that tourist seem to get in the way of a lot of us locals at various points in the year.  Threatening not to come here has about zero impact as an argument as a result, and as it threatens a type of extortion, sort of, the impact is actually the opposite.

A closely related one to this is "I have come out to your lovely state every year since 1976 to fish on your lovely rivers and plan to soon retire there, after working a lifetime at Giant Amalgamated Widget here in Delaware.  I hate my native state of Delaware with the burning passion of a thousand red hot suns and enjoy the fact that there aren't zillions of fishermen on the river, but unless you . . . ."

For us locals, there are zillions of fishermen on the river, and a lot of them are out of state fishermen.  We cringe at the thought of you moving here from Delaware, and the threat that you won't do it, isn't a threat.

Closely related to that is:  "I left my beautiful hometown of Casper when I graduated from high school in 1965 but plan on returning when I retire from my job at Super High Paying Industry in Sacramento, but if the city proceeds to rip down the old Funky Junky Pile building, I"ll pout and never come home."  This argument is very similar to the Delaware one mentioned just above. For the many who graduated from school and stayed here and struggled by all those years, the thought that you've done well elsewhere makes us happy, but it doesn't mean that we think you should tell us how to run the place if you aren't here, and we aren't necessarily thrilled with a long expatriate returning (probably to the Casper of their 1965 memory) and trying to tell us how to run it now.  Come back if you wish, but those intervening decades weren't on the push pause button.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Dread

Oh no, the dreaded Iphone operating system update is in progress. . . .

Holscher's Hub: More, where you have to hike in.

More, where you have to hike in.


Old Picture of the Day: Pony

Old Picture of the Day: Pony: One of the greatest possible pets has to be a pony. Back in the day, every boy dreamed of having a pony. Not sure how much kids think ...

Cowboy Ethics Hooey

I commented on this eons ago on our Today In Wyoming's History Blog, here:
Today In Wyoming's History: July 21:

2010  The State Code adopted by the Legislature.

Wyoming, like most states has a set of state symbols.  I think I've listed them all over time, including now this one, the most recent to be adopted.

I've generally abstained from commenting on the symbols, even though a few of them strike me as a bit odd. For example, we have a State Insect, which I don't know that we need.  But so be it.

Here, however, I can't help but comment.

The State Code I guess, is okay enough.  Here's the statute that sets it out:
 8-3-123. State code.
(a) The code of the west, as derived from the book Cowboy Ethics by
James P. Owen, and summarized as follows  is the official state code of
Wyoming. The code includes:

(i) Live each day with courage;
(ii) Take pride in your work;
(iii) Always finish what you start;
(iv) Do what has to be done;
(v) Be tough, but fair;
(vi) When you make a promise, keep it; 
(vii) Ride for the brand; 
(viii) Talk less, say more; 
(ix) Remember that some things are not for sale; 
(x) Know where to draw the line.
There's nothing in here in particular that I disagree with, although that "ride for the brand" item doesn't really reflect a lot of Wyoming's history very accurately.  The central conflict in the state from the 1876 to 1900 time frame really centered around individuals who started out riding for one brand, and then acquired their own brand and quit riding for the Brand No. 1.  Indeed, it might justifiably be argued that Individuals, rather than Ride For The Brand, is the true mark of a Wyomingite.

My greater problem, or perhaps irritation, with the State Code is, I suppose, similar to my comments regarding "state" authors, in that in supposedly finding a "code" that identifies us, we had to copy it from a Wall Street figure and not a Wyomingite.  The code comes from a book that Owens wrote in which he identified what he though were "Cowboy Ethics" and argued that this simple Code of the West could teach the nation something.  I'm not arguing that it couldn't, but I tend to doubt that a Wall Street figures is really capable of capturing the ethics of a class and group so very foreign to his own.

Again, as noted, having been around a lot of cowboys and rural workers, one thing I think is totally missing is that they all tend to have a high degree of independence and its not unusual at all to find actual working cowboys who switch employers a lot.  Perhaps they "ride for the brand", but often only briefly.  The "talk less, say more" item is a nice toss to a certain Gary Cooper view of the cowboy (and Gary Cooper was raised on a Montana ranch) but truth be told, being an isolated group, quite a few cowhands like to talk quite a bit, if given the opportunity to.  One Wyoming politician, the former Senator Simpson, is widely celebrated in Wyoming for his gift of gab at that, which has occasionally gotten him into trouble.  But the general list is not a bad one.  I only think it a bit sad that in order to define what our ethics are, we had to borrow them from a Wall Street figure who wrote what he thinks ours our.  It would seem that we could have defined them ourselves.
I would have thought by now that the bolt would have been shot on this entire Cowboy Ethics as defined by Wall Street guy, but nope, I see where this speaker will present at the 14th Annual Doornbos Agriculture Lecture Series at Casper College later this month.

I've noted in some recent posts here that this locality is a very provincial one, and it is.  But, provincialism is a two sided coin, and the flip side of it is the odd crediting of an outside "expert' in one thing or another.  It's almost like a type of poor self esteem type of problem.

I don't know much, or anything really, about Jim Owens, the author of the State Code, other than that he's not from here.  And yet, he's oddly had a big impact here in the form of the book he wrote.  I have a copy of it myself that was given to me as a gift (I'd never have bought it), and I see it cited here and there as an exemplar of us.

My real problem with this is noted above, in part, but it's somehow galling that a person who has really made his living elsewhere is now thought to have tapped into part of our souls. The simple truth of the matter is that just electing to live here, if you are from here, is normally electing to make considerably less money than you would have elsewhere. We tend to be blisteringly independent here, for good or ill, and many in the state approach libertarian concepts of politics and economics when a dose of distributist ones might actually make more sense in some circumstances.  Anyway you look at it, however, those decisions were ares, and we actually tend to be a bit different from others elsewhere.  Looking towards an outsider, as we so often do, for clues on what we are or are to be, may not be that wise of an approach.

Ineffective Point of Argument I: The Wrong Side of History

"The wrong side of history".

Recently, a really popular statement in arguments is that something or somebody is "on the wrong side of history".

You don't know that.

There are any number of movements or trends that people thought were inevitable that turned out not to be.  All of these things were thought to be on the "right side of history" at one time.  In the 1930s plenty of people in the Western world, including the United States, believed that fascism was on the right side of history. The same is true of Communism in the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s.  Shoot, I even saw an argument quite recently that Communism actually was "on the right side of history", made by somebody who was centered on the Third World and just wouldn't give up the argument.

Something being on "the wrong side of history" is meant to be an argument stopper by somebody who is supporting a popular trend and who doesn't want the other side argued.  The suggestion is that "this is inevitable and you should just accept it".  It's an intellectually anemic argument for a variety of reasons.

For one thing, nobody knows how history comes out on anything until quite some time has passed on the topic.  Fascism went down as being on the "wrong side of history", in this context, when teh major fascists powers were defeated in 1945.  Up until then, nobody was really sure.  Communism didn't go down as being on the wrong side of history, in this context, until some time in the 1990s.

The other thing people hint at meaning when they say this is that somebody is on the morally wrong side of something.  A trend line however, doesn't determine that.  The Nazis and the Stalinist were always on the morally wrong side of history even when they were on the rise.  A trend line doesn't determine right or wrong. Right and wrong determines that.  Guys like Thomas Becket and Thomas More died being on the right side of history, but they were bucking a trend when that happened.

Points of Argument

I see a fair number of arguments in print, and others set out orally, that include catch phrases or just blunders that a thinking person ought to omit. Some are common assertions, others not, and some are aggravating and irritating. All ought to be omitted, as they're bad arguments or just plain wrong.  Given that we're entering an election season, and hence the season of debate, I thought I might note a few as we go along, in a series of threads.  They'll start appearing here soon.

Courthouses of the West: Denver City and County Building, Denver Colorado

Courthouses of the West: Denver City and County Building, Denver Colorado:





These photographs depict the Denver City and County Building. This building was built to contain courtrooms, and at one time included city and county courtrooms. I do not know which, if any, courtrooms remain in the building.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The weird nature of our current Presidential elections.

I just read that this Sunday, Hillary Clinton will make it official that she's running for President.

I'd actually forgotten that she hadn't already done that.  It's been obvious forever that she's running for President.

Which brings me to this.  It's still 2015.  The election isn't until 2016. Wouldn't it just be better if the race began around March, 2016?  Nobody even knows what issues are going to be around in 2016.

Rural Electrification Changed Farm Life Forever in Wyoming | WyoHistory.org

Rural Electrification Changed Farm Life Forever in Wyoming | WyoHistory.org

Interesting article on the process of bringing electricity to farms and ranches in Wyoming.

This certainly reflects a major change from the way things had been prior to rural electrification.

The Big Speech: The Stenuous LIfe

Theodore Roosevelt

April 10, 1899, at The Hamilton Club, Chicago, Illinois.

In speaking to you, men of the greatest city of the West, men of the State which gave to the country Lincoln and Grant, men who preeminently and distinctly embody all that is most American in the American character, I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.

A life of slothful ease, a life of that peace which springs merely from lack either of desire or of power to strive after great things, is as little worthy of a nation as of an individual. I ask only that which every self-respecting American demands from himself and from his sons shall be demanded of the American nation as a whole. Who among you would teach your boys that ease, that peace, is to be the first consideration in their eyes — to be the ultimate goal after which they strive? You men of Chicago have made this city great, you men of Illinois have done your share, and more than your share, in making America great, because you neither preach nor practice such a doctrine. You work yourselves, and you bring up your sons to work. If you are rich and are worth your salt, you will teach your sons that though they may have leisure, it is not to be spent in idleness; for wisely used leisure merely means that those who possess it, being free from the necessity of working for their livelihood, are all the more bound to carry on some kind of non-remunerative work in science, in letters, in art, in exploration, in historical research — work of the type we most need in this country, the successful carrying out of which reflects most honor upon the nation. We do not admire the man of timid peace. We admire the man who embodies victorious effort; the man who never wrongs his neighbor, who is prompt tohelp a friend, but who has those virile qualities necessary to win in the stern strife of actual life. It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed. In this life we get nothing save by effort. Freedom from effort in the present merely means that there has been stored up effort in the past. A man can be freed from the necessity of work only by the fact that he or his fathers before him have worked to good purpose. If the freedom thus purchased is used aright, and the man still does actual work, though of a different kind, whether as a writer or a general, whether in the field of politics or in the field of exploration and adventure, he shows he deserves his good fortune. But if he treats this period of freedom from the need of actual labor as a period, not of preparation, but of mere enjoyment, even though perhaps not of vicious enjoyment, he shows that he is simply a cumberer of the earth’s surface, and he surely unfits himself to hold his own with his fellows if the need to do so should again arise. A mere life of ease is not in the end a very satisfactory life, and, above all, it is a life which ultimately unfits those who follow it for serious work in the world.

In the last analysis a healthy state can exist only when the men and women who make it up lead clean, vigorous, healthy lives; when the children are so trained that they shall endeavor, not to shirk difficulties, but to overcome them; not to seek ease, but to know how to wrest triumph from toil and risk. The man must be glad to do a man’s work, to dare and endure and to labor; to keep himself, and to keep those dependent upon him. The woman must be the housewife, the helpmeet of the homemaker, the wise and fearless mother of many healthy children. In one of Daudet’s powerful and melancholy books he speaks of “the fear of maternity, the haunting terror of the young wife of the present day.” When such words can be truthfully written of a nation, that nation is rotten to the heart’s core. When men fear work or fear righteous war, when women fear motherhood, they tremble on the brink of doom; and well it is that they should vanish from the earth, where they are fit subjects for the scorn of all men and women who are themselves strong and brave and high-minded.

As it is with the individual, so it is with the nation. It is a base untruth to say that happy is the nation that has no history. Thrice happy is the nation that has a glorious history. Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat. If in 1861 the men who loved the Union had believed that peace was the end of all things, and war and strife the worst of all things, and had acted up to their belief, we would have saved hundreds of thousands of lives, we would have saved hundreds of millions of dollars. Moreover, besides saving all the blood and treasure we then lavished, we would have prevented the heartbreak of many women, the dissolution of many homes, and we would have spared the country those months of gloom and shame when it seemed as if our armies marched only to defeat. We could have avoided all this suffering simply by shrinking from strife. And if we had thus avoided it, we would have shown that we were weaklings, and that we were unfit to stand among the great nations of the earth. Thank God for the iron in the blood of our fathers, the men who upheld the wisdom of Lincoln, and bore sword or rifle in the armies of Grant! Let us, the children of the men who proved themselves equal to the mighty days, let us, the children of the men who carried the great Civil War to a triumphant conclusion, praise the God of our fathers that the ignoble counsels of peace were rejected; that the suffering and loss, the blackness of sorrow and despair, were unflinchingly faced, and the years of strife endured; for in the end the slave was freed, the Union restored, and the mighty American republic placed once more as a helmeted queen among nations. We of this generation do not have to face a task such as that our fathers faced, but we have our tasks, and woe to us if we fail to perform them! We cannot, if we would, play the part of China, and be content to rot by inches in ignoble ease within our borders, taking no interest in what goes on beyond them, sunk in a scrambling commercialism; heedless of the higher life, the life of aspiration, of toil and risk, busying ourselves only with the wants of our bodies for the day, until suddenly we should find, beyond a shadow of question, what China has already found, that in this world the nation that has trained itself to a career of unwarlike and isolated ease is bound, in the end, to go down before other nations which have not lost the manly and adventurous qualities. If we are to be a really great people, we must strive in good faith to play a great part in the world. We cannot avoid meeting great issues. All that we can determine for ourselves is whether we shall meet them well or ill. In 1898 we could not help being brought face to face with the problem of war with Spain. All we could decide was whether we should shrink like cowards from the contest, or enter into it as beseemed a brave and high-spirited people; and, once in, whether failure or success should crown our banners. So it is now. We cannot avoid the responsibilities that confront us in Hawaii, Cuba, Porto Rico, and the Philippines. All we can decide is whether we shall meet them in a way that will redound to the national credit, or whether we shall make of our dealings with these new problems a dark and shameful page in our history. To refuse to deal with them at all merely amounts to dealing with them badly. We have a given problem to solve. If we undertake the solution, there is, of course, always danger that we may not solve it aright; but to refuse to undertake the solution simply renders it certain that we cannot possibly solve it aright. The timid man, the lazy man, the man who distrusts his country, the over-civilized man, who has lost the great fighting, masterful virtues, the ignorant man, and the man of dull mind, whose soul is incapable of feeling the mighty lift that thrills “stern men with empires in their brains” — all these, of course, shrink from seeing the nation undertake its new duties; shrink from seeing us build a navy and an army adequate to our needs; shrink from seeing us do our share of the world’s work, by bringing order out of chaos in the great, fair tropic islands from which the valor of our soldiers and sailors has driven the Spanish flag. These are the men who fear the strenuous life, who fear the only national life which is really worth leading. They believe in that cloistered life which saps the hardy virtues in a nation, as it saps them in the individual; or else they are wedded to that base spirit of gain and greed which recognizes in commercialism the be-all and end-all of national life, instead of realizing that, though an indispensable element, it is, after all, but one of the many elements that go to make up true national greatness. No country can long endure if its foundations are not laid deep in the material prosperity which comes from thrift, from business energy and enterprise, from hard, unsparing effort in the fields of industrial activity; but neither was any nation ever yet truly great if it relied upon material prosperity alone. All honor must be paid to the architects of our material prosperity, to the great captains of industry who have built our factories and our rail- roads, to the strong men who toil for wealth with brain or hand; for great is the debt of the nation to these and their kind. But our debt is yet greater to the men whose highest type is to be found in a statesman like Lincoln, a soldier like Grant. They showed by their lives that they recognized the law of work, the law of strife; they toiled to win a competence for themselves and those dependent upon them; but they recognized that there were yet other and even loftier duties — duties to the nation and duties to the race.

We cannot sit huddled within our own borders and avow ourselves merely an assemblage of well-to-do hucksters who care nothing for what happens beyond. Such a policy would defeat even its own end; for as the nations grow to have ever wider and wider interests, and are brought into closer and closer contact, if we are to hold our own in the struggle for naval and commercial supremacy, we must build up our power without our own borders. We must build the isthmian canal, and we must grasp the points of vantage which will enable us to have our say in deciding the destiny of the oceans of the East and the West.
So much for the commercial side. From the standpoint of international honor the argument is even stronger. The guns that thundered off Manila and Santiago left us echoes of glory, but they also left us a legacy of duty. If we drove out a medieval tyranny only to make room for savage anarchy, we had better not have begun the task at all. It is worse than idle to say that we have no duty to perform, and can leave to their fates the islands we have conquered. Such a course would be the course of infamy. It would be followed at once by utter chaos in the wretched islands themselves. Some stronger, manlier power would have to step in and do the work, and we would have shown ourselves weaklings, unable to carry to successful completion the labors that great and high-spirited nations are eager to undertake.

The work must be done; we cannot escape our responsibility; and if we are worth our salt, we shall be glad of the chance to do the work — glad of the chance to show ourselves equal to one of the great tasks set modern civilization. But let us not deceive ourselves as to the importance of the task. Let us not be misled by vainglory into underestimating the strain it will put on our powers. Above all, let us, as we value our own self-respect, face the responsibilities with proper seriousness, courage, and high resolve. We must demand the highest order of integrity and ability in our public men who are to grapple with these new problems. We must hold to a rigid accountability those public servants who show unfaithfulness to the interests of the nation or inability to rise to the high level of the new demands upon our strength and our resources.

Of course we must remember not to judge any public servant by any one act, and especially should we beware of attacking the men who are merely the occasions and not the causes of disaster. Let me illustrate what I mean by the army and the navy. If twenty years ago we had gone to war, we should have found the navy as absolutely unprepared as the army. At that time our ships could not have encountered with success the fleets of Spain any more than nowadays we can put untrained soldiers, no matter how brave, who are armed with archaic black-powder weapons, against well-drilled regulars armed with the highest type of modern repeating rifle. But in the early eighties the attention of the nation became directed to our naval needs. Congress most wisely made a series of appropriations to build up a new navy, and under a succession of able and patriotic secretaries, of both political parties, the navy was gradually built up, until its material became equal to its splendid personnel, with the result that in the summer of 1898 it leaped to its proper place as one of the most brilliant and formidable fighting navies in the entire world. We rightly pay all honor to the men controlling the navy at the time it won these great deeds, honor to Secretary Long and Admiral Dewey, to the captains who handled the ships in action, to the daring lieutenants who braved death in the smaller craft, and to the heads of bureaus at Washington who saw that the ships were so commanded, so armed, so equipped, so well engined, as to insure the best results. But let us also keep ever in mind that all of this would not have availed if it had not been for the wisdom of the men who during the preceding fifteen years had built up the navy. Keep in mind the secretaries of the navy during those years; keep in mind the senators and congressmen who by their votes gave the money necessary to build and to armor the ships, to construct the great guns, and to train the crews; remember also those who actually did build the ships, the armor, and the guns; and remember the admirals and captains who handled battle-ship, cruiser, and torpedo-boat on the high seas, alone and in squadrons, developing the seamanship, the gunnery, and the power of acting together, which their successors utilized so gloriously at Manila and off Santiago. And, gentlemen, remember the converse, too. Remember that justice has two sides. Be just to those who built up the navy, and, for the sake of the future of the country, keep in mind those who opposed its building up. Read the “Congressional Record.” Find out the senators and congressmen who opposed the grants for building the new ships; who opposed the purchase of armor, without which the ships were worthless; who opposed any adequate maintenance for the Navy Department, and strove to cut down the number of men necessary to man our fleets. The men who did these things were one and all working to bring disaster on the country. They have no share in the glory of Manila, in the honor of Santiago. They have no cause to feel proud of the valor of our sea- captains, of the renown of our flag. Their motives may or may not have been good, but their acts were heavily fraught with evil. They did ill for the national honor, and we won in spite of their sinister opposition.

Now, apply all this to our public men of to-day. Our army has never been built up as it should be built up. I shall not discuss with an audience like this the puerile suggestion that a nation of seventy millions of freemen is in danger of losing its liberties from the existence of an army of one hundred thousand men, three fourths of whom will be employed in certain foreign islands, in certain coast fortresses, and on Island reservations. No man of good sense and stout heart can take such a proposition seriously. If we are such weaklings as the proposition implies, then we are unworthy of freedom in any event. To no body of men in the United States is the country so much indebted as to the splendid officers and enlisted men of the regular army and navy. There is no body from which the country has less to fear, and none of which it should be prouder, none which it should be more anxious to upbuild.

Our army needs complete reorganization, — not merely enlarging, — and the reorganization can only come as the result of legislation. A proper general staff should be established, and the positions of ordinance, commissary, and quartermaster officers should be filled by detail from the line. Above all, the army must be given the chance to exercise in large bodies. Never again should we see, as we saw in the Spanish war, major-generals in command of divisions who had never before commanded three companies together in the field. Yet, incredible to relate, Congress has shown a queer inability to learn some of the lessons of the war. There were large bodies of men in both branches who opposed the declaration of war, who opposed the ratification of peace, who opposed the upbuilding of the army, and who even opposed the purchase of armor at a reasonable price for the battle-ships and cruisers, thereby putting an absolute stop to the building of any new fighting-ships for the navy. If, during the years to come, any disaster should befall our arms, afloat or ashore, and thereby any shame come to the United States, remember that the blame will lie upon the men whose names appear upon the roll-calls of Congress on the wrong side of these great questions. On them will lie the burden of any loss of our soldiers and sailors, of any dishonor to the flag; and upon you and the people of this country will lie the blame if you do not repudiate, in no unmistakable way, what these men have done. The blame will not rest upon the untrained commander of untried troops, upon the civil officers of a department the organization of which has been left utterly inadequate, or upon the admiral with an insufficient number of ships; but upon the public men who have so lamentably failed in forethought as to refuse to remedy these evils long in advance, and upon the nation that stands behind those public men.

So, at the present hour, no small share of the responsibility for the blood shed in the Philippines, the blood of our brothers, and the blood of their wild and ignorant foes, lies at the thresholds of those who so long delayed the adoption of the treaty of peace, and of those who by their worse than foolish words deliberately invited a savage people to plunge into a war fraught with sure disaster for them — a war, too, in which our own brave men who follow the flag must pay with their blood for the silly, mock humanitarianism of the prattlers who sit at home in peace.

The army and the navy are the sword and the shield which this nation must carry if she is to do her duty among the nations of the earth — if she is not to stand merely as the China of the western hemisphere. Our proper conduct toward the tropic islands we have wrested from Spain is merely the form which our duty has taken at the moment. Of course we are bound to handle the affairs of our own household well. We must see that there is civic honesty, civic cleanliness, civic good sense in our home administration of city, State, and nation. We must strive for honesty in office, for honesty toward the creditors of the nation and of the individual; for the widest freedom of individual initiative where possible, and for the wisest control of individual initiative where it is hostile to the welfare of the many. But because we set our own household in order we are not thereby excused from playing our part in the great affairs of the world. A man’s first duty is to his own home, but he is not thereby excused from doing his duty to the State; for if he fails in this second duty it is under the penalty of ceasing to be a freeman. In the same way, while a nation’s first duty is within its own borders, it is not thereby absolved from facing its duties in the world as a whole; and if it refuses to do so, it merely forfeits its right to struggle for a place among the peoples that shape the destiny of mankind.
In the West Indies and the Philippines alike we are confronted by most difficult problems. It is cowardly to shrink from solving them in the proper way; for solved they must be, if not by us, then by some stronger and more manful race. If we are too weak, too selfish, or too foolish to solve them, some bolder and abler people must undertake the solution. Personally, I am far too firm a believer in the greatness of my country and the power of my countrymen to admit for one moment that we shall ever be driven to the ignoble alternative.

The problems are different for the different islands. Porto Rico is not large enough to stand alone. We must govern it wisely and well, primarily in the interest of its own people. Cuba is, in my judgment, entitled ultimately to settle for itself whether it shall be an independent state or an integral portion of the mightiest of republics. But until order and stable liberty are secured, we must remain in the island to insure them, and infinite tact, judgment, moderation, and courage must be shown by our military and civil representatives in keeping the island pacified, in relentlessly stamping out brigandage, in protecting all alike, and yet in showing proper recognition to the men who have fought for Cuban liberty. The Philippines offer a yet graver problem. Their population includes half-caste and native Christians, warlike Moslems, and wild pagans. Many of their people are utterly unfit for self-government, and show no signs of becoming fit. Others may in time become fit but at present can only take part in self- government under a wise supervision, at once firm and beneficent. We have driven Spanish tyranny from the islands. If we now let it be replaced by savage anarchy, our work has been for harm and not for good. I have scant patience with those who fear to undertake the task of governing the Philippines, and who openly avow that they do fear to undertake it, or that they shrink from it because of the expense and trouble; but I have even scanter patience with those who make a pretense of humanitarianism to hide and cover their timidity, and who can about “liberty” and the “consent of the governed,” in order to excuse themselves for their unwillingness to play the part of men. Their doctrines, if carried out, would make it incumbent upon us to leave the Apaches of Arizona to work out their own salvation, and to decline to interfere in a single Indian reservation. Their doctrines condemn your forefathers and mine for ever having settled in these United States.
England’s rule in India and Egypt has been of great benefit to England, for it has trained up generations of men accustomed to look at the larger and loftier side of public life. It has been of even greater benefit to India and Egypt. And finally, and most of all, it has advanced the cause of civilization. So, if we do our duty aright in the Philippines, we will add to that national renown which is the highest and finest part of national life, will greatly benefit the people of the Philippine Islands, and, above all, we will play our part well in the great work of uplifting mankind. But to do this work, keep ever in mind that we must show in a very high degree the qualities of courage, of honesty, and of good judgment. Resistance must be stamped out. The first and all-important work to be done is to establish the supremacy of our flag. We must put down armed resistance before we can accomplish anything else, and there should be no parleying, no faltering, in dealing with our foe. As for those in our own country who encourage the foe, we can afford contemptuously to disregard them; but it must be remembered that their utterances are not saved from being treasonable merely by the fact that they are despicable.

When once we have put down armed resistance, when once our rule is acknowledged, then an even more difficult task will begin, for then we must see to it that the islands are administered with absolute honesty and with good judgment. If we let the public service of the islands be turned into the prey of the spoils politician, we shall have begun to tread the path which Spain trod to her own destruction. We must send out there only good and able men, chosen for their fitness, and not because of their partizan service, and these men must not only administer impartial justice to the natives and serve their own government with honesty and fidelity, but must show the utmost tact and firmness, remembering that, with such people as those with whom we are to deal, weakness is the greatest of crimes, and that next to weakness comes lack of consideration for their principles and prejudices.

I preach to you, then, my countrymen, that our country calls not for the life of ease but for the life of strenuous endeavor. The twentieth century looms before us big with the fate of many nations. If we stand idly by, if we seek merely swollen, slothful ease and ignoble peace, if we shrink from the hard contests where men must win at hazard of their lives and at the risk of all they hold dear, then the bolder and stronger peoples will pass us by, and will win for themselves the domination of the world. Let us therefore boldly face the life of strife, resolute to do our duty well and manfully; resolute to uphold righteousness by deed and by word; resolute to be both honest and brave, to serve high ideals, yet to use practical methods. Above all, let us shrink from no strife, moral or physical, within or without the nation, provided we are certain that the strife is justified, for it is only through strife, through hard and dangerous endeavor, that we shall ultimately win the goal of true national greatness.

Califorinians who don't "get it" about their drought and water rationing.

 Stockton (vicinity), California. Mexican agricultural laborers harvesting sugar beets
 Imperial Valley, California, 1940s.

As those following the news are aware of, California has imposed water rationing in light of the severe drought they are suffering.

 Stockton (vicinity), California. Mexican agricultural laborer topping sugar beets


Some are now wondering why farmers haven't been subject to the same strict rationing.

 Stockton (vicinity), California. Mexican agricultural laborers throwing sugar beets into a truck

Well, because that's where the food comes from.

 Salinas Valley, California. Large scale, commercial agriculture. This single California county (Monterey) shipped 20,096 carlots of lettuce in 1934, or forty-five percent of all carlot shipments in the United States. In the same year 73.8 percent of all United States carlot shipments were made from Monterey County, Imperial Valley, California (7,797 carlots) and Maricopa County, Arizona (4,697). Production of lettuce is largely in the hands of a comparatively small number of grower-shippers, many of whom operate in two or all three of these Counties. Labor is principally Mexican and Filipino in the fields, and white American in the packing sheds. Many workers follow the harvests from one valley to the other, since plantings are staggered to maintain a fairly even flow of lettuce to the Eastern market throughout the year

At the end of they day, you can't eat your lawn, and in terms of economic importance, agriculture may be only 2% of California's economy, but its the percentage of that economy that people eat.  And not just people in California.  You can't eat a semiconductor, or intellectual property.

 Near King City, California. Large-scale agriculture (peas) and old style California ranch house

Not that there aren't problems of all sorts that this is exhibiting, one being that California in general takes more water to sustain its population than it actual has.  Of course, California's agriculture built that population in the first place, for good or ill, and it feeds more than California.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

This Day in US History… 1865: General Robert E. Lee Surrenders, ending the Civil War | Wyoming Postscripts

This Day in US History… 1865: General Robert E. Lee Surrenders, ending the Civil War | Wyoming Postscripts

Lex Anteinternet: Protesting Too Much: Lex Antein...

There's clearly something going on in conservative circles in which a general animosity towards the Federal government has started to translate into a goal to transfer Federal lands to the states.  I wrote about that last here, in regards to a bill in the State Legislature:
Lex Anteinternet: Lex Anteinternet: Protesting Too Much: Lex Antein...: Well the bill discussed here: Lex Anteinternet: Protesting Too Much: Lex Anteinternet: The return... :   I've commented several tim...
That bill passed the Wyoming legislature, but of course, in spite of what Wyoming may think, the Federal government isn't going to pay much attention to a bill of this type from us.  More signficantly, similar bills died in Colorado and Idaho, and they've now become deeply unpopular with Westerners and sportsmen.  65% of the Western population opposes this idea.

But apparently what ever is going on is strong enough that the U.S. Senate feels that it can ignore the feelings of the country.  They recently passed an amendment to a budget bill supporting such a proposal.

Supposedly the passage of the bill, introduced by a comittee chairman from Alaska, is non binding, but this almost surely signals that such an attempt will be made later in the year in an actual bill. The bill passed the Senate on a straight party vote, with one Republican voting against it.

It's already had repercussions.  Idaho sportsmen blasted their Senator who is now trying to defend his action and residents of Montana likewise did the same to one of their Senators.  No outcry has been heard in Wyoming yet, but in a state where the majority of the residents use the public lands, they will.   I know that I am strongly displeased with at least Mike Enzi, one of our two Senators, whom I formerly held a generally favorable view of.  I imagine I'm not alone, and I know that our other Senator already had a dedicated body of some who didn't think much of him.  Senators in the West that thought they had safe seats might find that this will not sit well with some who traditionally supported them.  The other Senator, who seems to be perpetually on the same flight back to Casper that I routinely am, is going to get an earful from me next time I see him, if I have the chance to talk to him.  I'm not pleased.

The excuse for this nonsense is that  the Federal government is slow to permit oil exploration, and that's hindering the oil producing state's economies. That's nonsense.  There was never a time during the recent boom with oil exploration was occurring on all of the leased lands.  There was always a backlog, and the hold ups in drilling were largely attributable to infrastructure and lack of equipment, not leasing.  Now, with oil down consistently around $50 bbl, the hold up is that American oil can not be produced at a profit, and with Saudi Arabia dedicated to keeping it that way, and with some suggestion that the price might decline to half of the present price, giving leases away wouldn't make a difference.

A broader thesis is that Westerners are oppressed by Federal regulations and actions, and in some ways that is somewhat true, but a land transfer will not impact that at all.  Focusing in on the land aspect of this focuses attention in the wrong area, where regional complaints are not really found.  Indeed, the one thing that Westerners really like about the Federal government is the free access to the public domain, something states have not been quite as generous with, at least as concerns our state.

Indeed, something that people miss here, if they're worried about government, is that a state government can be just as burdensome as a national one, and there are plenty of examples of the Federal government being the entity that imposes freedom on an area, rather than a state.  States react to their population more directly, to be sure, and part of that reaction is pushing certain sections of that population around from time to time.

People should make no mistake.  What such a transfer would do is fairly simple.  It would transfer land to the States, no doubt for gratis or nearly so, and the states would transfer it to existing lease holders sooner or later, who would then find themselves selling to out of state interests, and the entire culture that has existed here for over a century will be gone.

Critics of Wyoming's economy, and there are quite a few, have long held that Wyoming has a third world economy.  I dispute that, but those who maintain that hold that the land is agricultural and the industry is both foreign and exploitative. Again, I think that's a bit much, but I do think that the effect of this bill would be to give us a colonial economy.  The land will belong to somebody else  and all the wealth derived from it will go either to the government our out of state interests.  Locals will be mere landless peasants, not even able to go on what was formerly theirs.

Enough is enough on this idea.  It's time to let our leadership, or rather our representation, know we're not having it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Painted Bricks: A Casper Wyoming Plaza?

Painted Bricks is the oldest of our blogs, as we created it for a specific purpose.  Like most of our blogs, it's evolved somewhat, but stayed pretty close to its original purpose.  Having said that, we depart from that today with our commentary here:
Painted Bricks: A Casper Wyoming Plaza?: As reported this past week in the Tribune and in an article in the Journal , the Casper city counsel has given provisional approval to dedi...
We've never done commentary on that blog before, and are unlikely to much. But it seemed warranted for that topic.

Writing inspirations – posing answers to the questions left by an abandoned trailer « M J Wright

Writing inspirations – posing answers to the questions left by an abandoned trailer « M J Wright

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Lex Anteinternet: Lex Anteinternet: Lex Anteinternet: And the pumps ...

Our most recent look at the state of the oilfield was posted several days ago, here:
Lex Anteinternet: Lex Anteinternet: Lex Anteinternet: And the pumps ...: This past weekend, the week after I posted this Lex Anteinternet: Lex Anteinternet: And the pumps kept on. : And following on this: Lex...
At the time I posted that entry, Chesapeake energy was the regional bright spot, having announced a few weeks prior that it was keeping on with its oil exploration program in the state.

Well, now its reversed course and is scaling back, like everyone else.  If there's a bright spot in the oil economy, therefore, this isn't it.

We still here that some exploration is going on in North Dakota, in shallow fields (I'm told, but which I somewhat doubt).  As I don't get the North Dakota news readily, I don't know the full state of things up there, but I wonder.

Postscript

And, also today, Noble Energy has announced that its cutting employees in Colorado, Texas and Pennsylvania.