Monday, May 22, 2017

Monday At The Bar: Comparison and Contrast

I was supposed to start a trial in Laramie today, but as it settled at the last moment, I am not.

In preparing for that, I went to check out the courtrooms.  I've been in the Second Judicial Distric's courtroom before, but I haven't done a multi-party trial there before, so I thought I better see what the accommodations were like in that context.  I also thought I better update myself on the court's technology, which is increasingly becoming a big deal.

Here's the courtroom for the state district court there:
 Second Judicial District's courtroom.  As you can see in this photograph, the courtroom is equipped with two tables for the parties and and its now wired for computer access, with a big screen on the wall.

As we've previously discussed here, this courthouse was built in 1931, making it one of several Depression Era courthouses still in use in Wyoming.  Since 1990, when I started practicing law, these courthouses have had to be updated to take into account electronics.  It's interesting to note, I guess, that when I started practicing in 1990 none of the older courthouses, and I've tried cases in courtrooms considerably older than this, had such features, no did anyone think think they were necessary in any fashion.  Now a person wouldn't dare build a courthouse without such features and the old ones that are still being used are being retrofitted.

I also checked out the courtroom facilities at the law school as the space considerations somewhat concerned me and I thought I better inform myself on what else was around, just in case.  I had heard they'd put in a nice moot courtroom (they actually put in two), but I hadn't seen them.  Here's the big one, an intervening wall makes this somewhat confusing but that wall can be folded up to increase the size of the courtroom.

 Big Moot Court courtroom at the College of Law.  This bench has seats for multiple jurist so it was obviously built taking into account appellate arguments, but it also features a jury box.  Big screens can be seen above for electronic interface.

The wall here folds in, which would expand the size of the courtroom.  Looked at this way, what we're seeing here is the bar of the courtroom and some additional space behind the parties' tables.  In this configuration this courtroom is obviously set up as a lecture hall, which is what this space was when I was in law school.

It's interesting. The students, for trial practice, clearly have one of the nicest courtrooms in the state.  And I don't think that's bad.  And I'm not saying that the courtroom downtown in the same town is bad either. 

But field conditions, in all things, often don't match the school ones.

I'm sure such things will soon be a thing of the past here, and darned near are now, but I have tried a case in a 19th Century Wyoming courthouse (no longer in use) and at least one whose construction predated World War One.  In the former case neither counsel (me and opposing counsel) opted for any high tech things of any kind so the lack of electronics was not a hindrance.  But that's becoming increasingly rare.

But has the quality of the presentation of information  actually improved?

Some Gave All: Wyoming Veterans Museum: World War One Display

Some Gave All: Wyoming Veterans Museum: World War One Display: Display dedicated to George Ostron, who was an accomplished armature illustrator and who won a contest to design what became the unit ins...

Wet Subsidariaty

Distributism can be found, on occasion, in odd places.

I went to the grocery store over a couple of weekends ago (I started this post a couple of weeks back) and, on the way out, stopped in the liquor store.  There was a big display saying "buy local", and a huge selection of various alcoholic products made in Wyoming.

I was, quite frankly, quite surprised. There are now a lot of them.  As recently as a couple of decades back there were none.  Now there are several breweries and a couple of distilleries.  Indeed, there's one distillery here in town and there's rumors (I haven't followed it) that a second one will soon be here.  And there's going to be a couple of microbreweries here in town soon, something that has occurred all around the state.

According to Wikipedia we now have twenty three Wyoming breweries, and my guess is that list is probably a little light.  I don't how many distilleries we have but it'll soon be at least four and my guess is that there are more than that.  And there are even apparently a handful of wineries.

I'm not sure what all this says, but it is quite a reversal of the trend towards bigger and bigger just a couple of decades ago. Consolidation is still going on in the alcohol industry on the big end, with some giants seemingly buying up everything. But down on the consumer end the local is really making a comeback.

I like the trend.  I'm not going to go out and buy a bunch of local whiskey or wine, but I'll sample the beer, and I like that this is very local.  Subsidiarity in action, if wet.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Today In Wyoming's History: Como Bluffs: Dinosaur Graveyard and Train Robberi...

Today In Wyoming's History: Como Bluffs: Dinosaur Graveyard and Train Robberi...: These two historic markers are located at Como Bluffs, between Rock River and Medicine Bow Wyoming. I'm sure I've stopped at ...

The Dense Nature of Political Commentary---Just because you would think that way doesn't mean others would.

David Frum is a Republican Neoconservative.

Well, actually, and quite frankly, he's really a Canadian conservative (which would be a mild liberal by American terms) who has passed through Harvard and acquired naturalization, all of which may be fine but which doesn't make him a Conservative even if he thinks he is, or if his employer The Atlantic thinks so.

The reason Frum matters to this entry is that Frum is undoubtedly a super smart guy, but he's also a guy who shares about as much in common with the average American conservative as I do with the Imperial Japanese family.  Not much.  But he doesn't know that.  He thinks he does.  And he's not the only one in his boat.

Now, the reason I"m picking on Frum here is simple.  He's been showing up a lot recently on commentary outlets, standing in, in the eyes of the Press, as a Conservative against Trump.  In reality, he's part of the urban "I went to Harvard law school" elite and while he's on the conservative end of that, he's clueless on what the Conservative constituency actually thinks.

And he's not alone.

For that matter, the Democratic elite is pretty clueless on what the average liberal American thinks as well.

And that's a big problem.

I'm not commenting on any actual current event.   But the widespread, and it is very widespread, view that "I have analyzed the stuffing out of this and determined what is best for Demographic X and therefore I know that Politician Y has just slit his own throat" is complete and utter nonsense.

It can work that way. . . but it often doesn't.

Sunday Morning Scene: Churches of the West: St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Hanna Wyoming

Churches of the West: St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Hanna Wyoming:

This is St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Hanna Wyoming, which according to the sign on the building was built in 1922.  They style is somewhat unusual, and not easily characterized, but it does have hints of Gothic styling.  The name "St. Mark's" is particularly associated with Episcopal churches in Wyoming.

Saturday, May 20, 2017


By a curious confusion, many modern critics have passed from the proposition that a masterpiece may be unpopular to the other proposition that unless it is unpopular it cannot be a masterpiece.

GK Chesterton

Poster Saturday: Lamp Day

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Congress Passes the Selective Service Act of 1917 and the Wyoming Guard gets the word

On this day, in 1917, Congress passed, finally, a much debated selective service act, ushering in a new era of "the draft".

The bill passed was massive and covered a plethora of topics.

At the same time, the mobilized and mobilizing Wyoming National Guard got the news that it would be taken into Federal service in July.

The odd thing about this is that the National Guard in Wyoming, and pretty much everywhere else, had been called out just as soon as war was declared.  But the government did not Federalize it right away.  Another example of how things were quite a bit different in World War One as compared to World War Two.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Bike to Work Week in Bike Month

Bike Month Dates and Events

I'd forgotten that May was Bike Month.

I did recall that there's always a Bike To Work Week.  Unfortunately, it's always in May, which means that it comes here in a month that's still slugging it out with winter.  Indeed, snow is predicted for later this week. . . just after I took the side panels off of the Jeep, of course.

I often do bike to work, but rarely in May.  The weather just doesn't accommodate it here.  So this week, I won't be biking to work, and will even miss bike to work day, May 19.  Of course, my schedule isn't allowing for it this week either.

Which is part of the problem in the task of restoring the bicycle to its former status that once rivaled the automobile.


Related Threads:

Riding Bicycles: 

Our big thread on this topic.

Bicycle Delivery Boy, aged 13, Oklahoma City.

A photograph.

The bicycle messenger

Another photograph.

Western Union Messenger No. 38. March 14, 1917

Yep, a photograph.

Mid Week at Work: Delivering the mail in Washington D.C., 1919.

Another photograph yet again.

On Riding A Bicycle

Commentary on riding a bike.

The high tech alternative to horses. . . . the bicycle

A look at the topic from a different prospective.


Net Security calmly whacking the beast of hackery. . . or something like that.

From the New York Times:
SAN FRANCISCO — Hackers are discovering that it is far more profitable to hold your data hostage than it is to steal it.
A decade-old internet scourge called ransomware went mainstream on Friday when cybercriminals seized control of computers around the world, from the delivery giant FedEx in the United States to Britain’s public health system, universities in China and even Russia’s powerful Interior Ministry.
Oh great.

It would seem that things like this are getting more and more common, and will become an increasingly severe problem.  All we can do, it seems, is to be vigilant and hope that technology to counter such things stays apace, which it only does barely.  Today, and probably all week along, all sorts of companies and individuals will be paying ransom to recover their computers, basically.

Who are they, and where do they come from?  They aren't easily identifiable, like Pancho Villa or Baby Face Nelson.  They're more like vikings of old, or the endless groups of roaming bands that once rode out of the east. 

An example, I guess, of how the more things change, the more they stay the same, or close to it.

I've been missing a lot of the news, and commenting on it even less. . . .

as I've been super busy.

It's funny how when things are like that, you can put big events up on a shelf that you'd likely normally pay quite a bit of attention to.

For example, I'm not shocked and dismayed that ESPN has cancelled Garbage Time and has yet to assign a new role to Katie Nolan, as a news clip revealed  yesterday. . .

. . . so nobody is too worked up about that here? Well, okay.

More seriously, Donald Trump fired FBI director James Comey.  That's big news, but I haven't had time to really pay much attention to it.  I do note that the New York Times is already after Trump about it, but I'm pretty much ignoring my NYT feed these now days. Ignoring gives some credence that the NYT is at war with Trump so much that they'd criticize his breakfast choices if they knew them, which doesn't mean that the Comey story isn't a big one.  Still, I find myself strangely disinterested in it as I haven't been able to catch up with it.

Likewise the passage of a new health care bill in the House.  That's big news, but I haven't had time to really pay much attention to it.

I wonder, quite frankly, for busy folks in 1917 if that's how all the grim war news was.  Just more news"  We look back and figure everyone must have been wrapped up in it every day, but not necessarily.  Super busy people, and there were super busy people, might have been just as distracted then as now.

Which doesn't mean I'm completely unaware.  No, I'm picking up the paper every day and reading it.  But I'm so busy on some other projects I just don't focus a great deal on it. Some of that is bad, and quite frankly, perhaps some good.

Blog Mirror: Decent Films: Our Lady of Fatima at the Movies

Our Lady of Fatima at the Movies

SDG Original source: Catholic Digest

May is the Month of Mary, and May 13 is the memorial day of Our Lady of Fátima. On this day in 1981, Pope John Paul II was shot in St. Peter’s Square, and he ascribed his survival to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, linking the attempt on his life with the “Third Secret” of Fátima. . .

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Sunday Morning Scene: Churches of the West: St. Malachy Catholic Mission Church, Medicine Bow, Wyoming

Churches of the West: St. Malachy Catholic Mission Church, Medicine Bow, Wyoming

Original caption:  "This is St. Malachy's Catholic Mission Church in Medicine Bow, Wyoming. The Church is served by the parish in Saratoga Wyoming."

I'll note that I'm not too certain that this church is currently being used.  Indeed, I think it is not.  Medicine Bow's fortunes have declined in recent years.

Best Posts of the Week of May 7, 2017

A Mid Week At Work Query: How did you end up doing what you do? Is it what you expected?

Dog Pile

Female Railroad workers, Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, May 14, 1917.

American Federation of Labor Conference, May 14, 1917.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Scenes of Arizona, May 12, 1917

Globe Arizona, Copyright deposit May 12, 1917.

Miami Arizona, Copyright deposit May 12, 1917.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Lex Anteinternet: Riding Bicycles

Shoot, yesterday I missed this:

Bike to School Day

Join the Celebration on May 10!

Thousands of students, families, community partners, and elected officials around the country will celebrate the benefits of biking and walking to school during National Bike to School Day.
I only became aware of it due to this:
I don't recall anything like that happening myself, but then in 1974 I was only eleven years old. Given local distances, this sort of thing almost certainly did not occur here, however.

So in belated honor of the day, I'm linking in an old post on bikes as transportation:
Lex Anteinternet: Riding Bicycles:

 Catholic Priest riding a bicycle in South Dakota, 1944.
As well as our prior commentary on biking in general:

On Riding A Bicycle

Most summers I ride my bicycle to work quite a bit.  I do that as it forces me to get a bit of exercise, it saves on the use of diesel fuel, and because I just like doing it. This year, however, I got around to that for the first time today.  I didn't get a chance earlier as it seems the City of Casper and the State of Wyoming has determined to rip up every street I might conceivable wish to ride on this summer, simultaneously.  On my way here today, for example, I went through two construction zones.
I have to say, yesterday, May 10, was a pretty nice day here, but it didn't start out very warm and early on the weather looked a bit threatening.  It cleared up, however.  Still, for here, this time of year can be a bit dicey for riding a bike to school.  Having said that, I walked to school my entire school career, all of it. Seems like that's a rarity now.

Blog Mirror: Everyday Lives In War: Join us! Shape the future of the First World War Network

Join us! Shape the future of the First World War Network

Elsewhere on May 11, 1917. . . .

Kurdish girls, carrying water.

U. S. Rifle Model of 1917 accepted

As we noted yesterday, we've quit daily "on this day in 1917" entries, although we have one here, unusually, for the second day in a row.  The reason for that is that we are trying to track a few things of interest or relevance to the overall theme of our blog, and changes in material items is one of them.  We have done quite a few of those over time.

While we posted a lot of items from March 2016 up until March 2017 that were on a daily basis, a few of the posts we did were on material changes, mostly in connection with the Punitive Expedition. We had intended to try to address the story of firearms that were used as part of that event, but we never really got around to it (and never had time to research it, frankly, particularly in regards to Mexican combatants, which would have been quite a project), other than to include a reference to it in a post that covered a lot of other items.  Now, of course, we've moved into World War One.  There's no earthly way that we're going to be able to cover every firearm used in the Great War, and indeed the outfit that the film below is from is doing that anyhow.  But we're making an exception today specifically because we covered this, a little, in the Punitive Expedition thread.  the reason is that here we find things really beginning to materially change in regards to the U.S. Army as it found itself just out of the "Border War" and into a World War.  Logic would hold that the Army should have at least had a good handle on small arms supplies going into the war.  Not so.

On this day, in 1917, it started to address that: (See:  The Story of Eddystone, page 22)

It's story:

Take a look, of course, at the story of the Pattern 14 and the Pattern 13, which are just in front of this.

It's tempting to categorize the M1917 as a "forgotten" rifle, although that might be going to far.  It's fair to say, however, that its story isn't accurately remembered by most.  The rifle equipped half of all U.S soldiers during World War One and was the rifle by far the most likely to be carried by a conscripted soldier.  While there was mass production of the M1903 Springfield, a great rifle in its own right, the fact of the matter was that the two government arsenals that were producing that rifle simply could not manufacture sufficient numbers  in which to equip the massive Army the United States determined to raise during the Great War.  Existing stocks of M1903s had already been assigned out to the Regular Army and the National Guard at the time the war commenced and ongoing production was really only sufficient to supply the needs of the Regular Army, the Federalized National Guard (which of course became part of the regular establishment during the war), the Navy and the Marine Corps (both of which had adopted the M1903 to replace the Navy Lee following the Spanish American War).  Therefore the large conscript Army raised by the US during the war relied, in large part, upon the M1917.

Indeed, the M1917 is likely to be the rifle carried by Sgt. Alvin York at the time of his famous deeds, as that was the rifle that equipped the 82nd Division, which he was in.

Sometimes oddly condemned by folks not terribly familiar with it, the rifle (watch the video) was an excellent rifle and had features that were somewhat more advanced than those on the slightly older M1903.  The sights in particular were very good and probably the very best on any rifle used by any army during the Great War.  Heat treatment problems made the actions brittle on some rifles made by Eddystone, a Remington facility, but this is also true of very early M1903 actions made by government arsenals.

The rifle was sufficiently good that it nearly went on to replace the M1903 following World War One, but it obviously did not.  It was retained in a more significant role than sometimes imagined, however, and not simply stored, as some will claim.  For some odd reason, it became the rifle that equipped chemical mortar units in the Army all the way into World War Two.  It also was issued to field artillerymen early in World War Two, who carried them at least as late as Operation Torch.  Stocks of the rifle were issued as well to Free French troops who used them in North Africa and on into Europe, and they saw action in Chinese hands during the war as well.  Finally, M1917s equipped various State Guard unis throughout World War Two, likely putting the rifle back in the hands of many men who had carried them twenty years prior.  In the category of men who had not carried them previously, they also equipped JrROTC units during these years.

An entirely civilian production item, not too surprisingly the rifle went on to have a sporting expression.  Thousands were converted by sportsmen and gunsmiths into sporting rifles. Beyond that, Remington kept the rifle in production as the Model 30, starting off at first using actions it was left with when the government abruptly cancelled orders following World War One.  Remington even took a run at making a sniper variant for the government but production ceased with the onset of World War Two and terminated forever following the war.

This wasn't, we should note, the only rifle that supplemented supplies of M1903s during World War One.  Obsolete models of rifles were brought back out and issued, and Mosin Nagants rejected by Imperial Russian inspectors would see use in the Polar Bear expedition. 

The British Pattern 14 Rifle.

This is the story of the British Pattern 14 Enfield, which turns out to be a story that's more important for the US than for the United Kingdom.

Not that its as unimportant for the UK as some would have it.  It was issued on the front lines early i the war and, as it was a more accurate rifle than the SMLE, it was used, with telescopic sight, as a sniper rifle by the British during the Great War.  It would not reprise that role in World War Two in the British Army, but it did in the Australian Army.

Blog Mirror: May 11, 1917, EO 2617 Calls for Enlistment of Women Telephone Operators into Army Signal Corps

May 11, 1917, EO 2617 Calls for Enlistment of Women Telephone Operators into Army Signal Corps

The British Pattern 13 Enfield

This is part of a series, which will lead up to the M1917 Enfield, whose adoption date this is.  You'll have to read the later post for the story of the "American" Enfield.

The British Patter 13 Enfield.

It never served, but it darned near did.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

John J. Pershing informed he is to lead American troops in France.

I've backed off nearly daily entries from 1917 here, now that we no longer have the Punitive Expedition to follow, and returned more of the traditional pace and focus of the blog, but there are exceptions and today is one.

On this day, in 1917, John J. Pershing, recently promoted to Major General, was informed by Secretary of War Newton Baker that he was to lead the American expeditionary force in France.

This now seems all rather anticlimactic, as if the appointment of Pershing was inevitable, and perhaps it was, but he was not the only possible choice and his selection involved some drama, to some extent.  Pershing was then 56 years old, an age that would have put him in the upper age bracket for a senior office during World War Two, but not at this time in the context of World War One.  Indeed, his rise to Major General had been somewhat unusual in its history and course, as he had earlier been advanced over more senior officers in an era when that was rare, and it is often noted that his marriage to Helen Warren, the daughter of powerful Wyoming Senator Francis E. Warren, certainly did not hurt his career.  Often regarded as having reached the pinnacle of his Army career due to "leading" the Army during the Punitive Expedition, he was in fact technically second in command during that event as the commander of the department he was in was Frederick Funston.

Funston is already familiar to readers here as we covered his death back in  February.  Not really in the best of health in his later years, but still a good five years younger than Pershing, Funston died suddenly only shortly after the Punitive Expedition concluded leaving Pershing his logical successor and the only Army officer then in the public eye to that extent.  Indeed, as the United States was progressing towards entering the war it was Funston, a hero of the Spanish American War, who was being considered by the Wilson Administration as the likely leader of a US contingent to Europe.  His sudden death meant that his junior, Pershing, took pride of place.

But not without some rivals.  Principal among them was Gen. Leonard Wood, a hero of the later stages of the Indian Wars and the Spanish American War who was a protégée of Theodore Roosevelt.  Almost the exact same age as Pershing, Wood was backed by Republicans in Congress for the position of commander of the AEF.  Not too surprisingly, however, given his close association with Roosevelt, he was not offered the command.  Indeed, it was this same week when it became plain that Roosevelt was also not to receive a combat command in the Army, or any role in the Army, for the Great War, to his immense disappointment.

Pershing went on, of course, to command the AEF and to even rise in rank to the second highest, behind only George Washington, rank in the U.S. Army.  That alone shows that he was an enormous hero in his era. He lived through World War Two and in fact was frequently visited by generals of that war, many of them having a close military association with him from World War One.  His personality dramatically impacted the Army during the Great War, so much so that it was sometimes commented upon to the effect that American troops were all carbon copies of Pershing.  Still highly regarded by most (although some have questioned in recent years his view of his black troops) he is far from the household name he once was for the simple reason that World War Two has overshadowed everything associated with World War One.

A Mid Week At Work Query: How did you end up doing what you do? Is it what you expected?

Iris Gaines: You know, I believe we have two lives.
Roy Hobbs: How... what do you mean?
Iris Gaines: The life we learn with and the life we live with after that.
The Natural

This past couple of weeks we've posted queries regarding whether your adult occupation, or occupations, match your childhood aspirations.  So far, in my case, of the variety of things I've done as an adult, a few did in fact match them.

Which doesn't take us to how we end up doing that thing.  Our job, our vocation, our occupation, which even presumes, likely inaccurately, that those things are in fact the same thing.

At some point, at least for most of us, we end up doing something fairly steadily.  Not everyone does, of course.  Some people drift from job to job, and some people frankly like doing that.  I'm occasionally amazed by people who are truly so varied in their talents that they can do that fairly effortlessly.

For most people, however, once they lose a job its a disaster.  They have, at some point, little ability to move occupations, which isn't the same as having no ability.  Of my close friends I think probably half of them have moved occupations as adults.  I definitely have not, but I've been unusually employed in multiple things as well, even while having a main vocation.   Still, the more specialized their occupation, and the more training that goes into it, the harder it is for a person to switch away from it even is desperate necessity requires it.  A lawyer friend of mine, for example, once observed when he decided to try to leave the law (which he ultimately did, returning to school in his 40s in order to become a teacher. . . his third career) that "lawyers are occupationally illiterate".  It isn't just them, if a physician walked into NAPA for example, hoping to pick up a counter job, he'd be unqualified for it.

But, amongst the same group of friends of mine noted above, a bunch of them didn't end up where they started to go.

Of my close high school friends, including myself, none of us did.  A friend who started off to be an engineer ended up a restaurateur.  One who aspired to be a dentist ended up a very successful electrician.  A friend who was hugely musically talented attended a first rate music school but has only played in bands on weekend gigs, basically.  He is principally employed as a big IT guy, self taught.  And I'm not working as a geologist.  Indeed, after I started practicing law the state started licensing geologist and I never took the exam for a license.  So I couldn't easily work in that field now if I wished to.

A lifelong friend who wanted to be a marine biologist had to switch gears to obtain a teaching certificate and never found employment in that.  He's worked as a chemist for many years.

Looking at my college friends the story is more or less the same. My closet college friend burned out on our mutual geology degrees (a very common story, frankly, and part of the reason I didn't go on to geology grad school) and never completed one final class for his degree.  He went on to work in retail for many ears and then switched to school infrastructure.  Of the other geology students I knew at the time, four were able to actually find full time work in the field, or closely related ones, and three remain employed in it today.  The fourth quit to become a lawyer, something that one of only two of us who graduated with Bachelors degrees and job offers in my class also did, refusing an offer of a job in  Australia after his family objected.

Law school, where I ended up, was a sea of altered dreams mixed in with islands of long held aspirations.  My closest friend in law school had a history degree but had spent a hitch in the Army as an enlisted man.  He nearly returned to that when we were in law school and did go on to a hugely successful career in the Army JAG Corps.  A friend of mine from basic training, who was discharged due to shin splints but who managed to get back in, to my surprise, completed a career as an Army officer, something I would never have guessed was a goal of his.  One of my better friends in the law started off as a U.S. Army Ranger (indeed two of my friends in the law were Rangers, and the individual mentioned above was in the Special Forces in a reserve unit for a time), then went to school to be a game warden and then switched to geology, a career path that isn't unfamiliar to me.  Most of us in law school, of course, did end up lawyers.  Its sort of the end of the road in terms of career change.

Indeed, one of the huge lies about law school is that "you can do anything with a law degree".  That fable is absolutely true as long as what you want to do with your law degree is practice law, which of course is actually the one and only point in getting a law degree so generally it works out well in terms of finding work with the degree.

Or it did.  I read that is no longer true and there are a lot of unemployed or underemployed lawyers.

Anyhow, I think it's interesting that when I talk to people their career paths often aren't what we think they are. We'll often read a trade journal and it'll say something like "Geologist Bob decided to enter the field when, at age 12, he found a triceratops roosting on his parents barn door. . . ." or "When I think back on my career in the law that has lead me to be appointed a United States Supreme Court Justice, I think back warmly on that time my little sister stole my Wheaties and I looked up on how to obtain a Writ of Replevin to get them back. . .I was six".  Hmm, probably not.  Indeed, many of those folks who obtain real pinnacles in their careers started off somewhere else.  The two now passed gentlemen who started the firm where I work now both started off with other career goals, but how many know that?  Not many, probably.

I'm' not sure what the point of this really is.  Many later career goals do work out.  Three of my close friends from my geology days have made careers in that field, or very closely related ones, for decades. Maybe more of the students I knew then are employed in the field other than the one I mentioned above.  Most of the engineering students I knew did become employed engineers.  More than a few of the people I knew who took up pursuing a teaching degree found work in that, and indeed, at least one of them is retired from it.

So what about you?  Did you have career goals, and did you end up where you planned to be?

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

All the further I've managed to get. . .

between chores and the weather.

After work on May 5.  Put in all the potatoes.  The next day all I did was work around the house on a fencing project.  And the day after that completed that, did some 4H leadership stuff, but did manage to complete the last row.  Found my hooked up hose was broken and that the rainbird type sprinkler, which admittedly left out all winter long, was no longer functioning (I can never get those to last more than one year).

And then it started raining, again.

So, reds, whites and one row of purples.  That's it so far.

Man, it's been wet.

The cell phone outnumbers the landline.

 LoC Caption:  "The Story of the Telephone. Speeding the spoken word. Scene from the new American Red Cross motion picture, "Speeding the Spoken Word," in which the romance of the telephone is graphically portrayed on the screen".  1920.
The number of mobile-phone users in the U.S. surpassed the number of conventional land-based phone lines in the second half of 2004, the government said Friday.
By the end of the year, there were 181.1 million cellphone subscribers, compared with 177.9 million access lines into U.S. homes and businesses, the Federal Communications Commission said in a biannual report.
Los Angeles Times.

A person has to be careful with statistics as they can lead to incorrect assumptions.  For one thing, this may tend to lead to an erroneous assumption that the number of households with landlines is outnumbered by the number with cell phones only, which would be erroneous.  For example, our house has a landline, but all three of us who live here have cell phones.  In contrast, my son, who is in college, lives in a house in which there are no landlines in use.  There might be for internet service, but no actual landline phone. 

The point is, however, that sheer number of cell phones doesn't equate with households served only by cell phones, although that day is coming.  Indeed, the tyranny of the cell phone is at the point at which a lot of homes have one landline but a lot of cell phones.

Good, bad?

Well, both, I suppose.

FWIW, I'm actually surprised it took this long to reach this point.

Monday, May 8, 2017

The debate on a national health care system. A few random thoughts

 Ambulances, Ft. Huachuca, 1918.

I should pay more attention to the debate going on about health care than I do.  I really should. It really matters.  I've posted on it a few times, but for some reason it just isn't the burning issue for me that it with some.

Which leads me to my first point. There are some pundits out there declaring that the GOP sponsorship of a new bill, repealing the Affordable Health Care Act, means they're doomed in the mid terms as they're hurting their constituency.  

The pundits, once again, are delusional.

This entire talking point assumes that the entire nation including the rust belt voters have immersed themselves in the topic of medical provision, concluded that a national health care system is needed, and are now debating the best one, and have concluded that was the ACA.  Learning that they personally will loose benefits, they'll become outraged.


The debate on health care on the street level isn't about this at all.  It's more visceral.  And it really deals with how much the government should do.  You can have a visceral negative reaction to something that's good for you.

Take Prohibition for example.  It was a health care success, benefiting those at the bottom of the economic rung the best. So we kept it, right?

No, we repealed it, and the reason we did is we just didn't like people telling us not to drink.  The health care debate is like that.

Which doesn't mean it isn't being treated like the opposite, and doesn't have some of its features.  Demonstrating another point.  When the government gives out benefits its deuce difficult to take them back, and that is something that really should be taken into account whenever that is done.

Free and reduced school lunches, Federal involvement in pre school education, Medicare, Medicaid and a million other programs are such examples.  I'm not saying that they are good or bad.  What I'm saying is that whenever these are debated, they're debated in terms of adjustment, not taking away. Because once you give a benefit, it's really hard to take it back, and soon it becomes viewed as a right.

Free and reduced school lunches, and now breakfasts at least here, are a good example.  When I was attending school everyone, no matter how poor, had food provided by their parents.  If a parent had failed to provide this basic need, they'd have been looked down upon by everyone and they probably would have received a hostile visit from the state.  Now, nobody views this in this fashion and its accepted that the local taxpayers will feed the children of those who can't feed their own.  Is this bad?  I'm not saying that (although there are interesting moral elements of it all the way around). But what I am saying is that good or bad, and in economic times of plenty or lean, it's going to be done. We started doing it, and not doing now seems unthinkable.

Which brings me back to why some folks have true complaints about the Affordable Care Act.

Most people do feel that everyone needs basic medical care.  But what does that mean?  Democrats, in this debate, like to throw in "Women's Reproductive Health" and indeed there are now quite a few people who feel this is a national right.  But what that really means is that the Federal Government is subsidizing sex.  

There's something flat out weird about that, but beyond that a lot of people find that when we reach this particular point we are reaching the limits of what they can tolerate under their own belief set, and they'll push back irrespective of what people like David Frum think about it.  

To some who hold philosophical ideas about the nature of liberty, this entire concept is truly abhorrent.  How can we justify taxing everyone so that some can avoid the natural results of their biological acts?  Does this impinge on a concept of individual liberty as it creates universal responsibility for an individual act?

To other social conservatives this is just childish. The basic argument would be "grow up and take care of yourself if you are acting like adults". And there's more than a little to that.  If people are adult enough to act like adults in this fashion, well, what happens is their problem, this argument would go.

For fiscal conservatives it couldn't be weirder.  Taxing everyone to pay for an individual biological act is bizarre.  It would make just as much sense to tax everyone to pay for food for everyone, and indeed it'd make a great deal more sense.

And of course for some its deeply offensive to their religions, and they're put in crisis by such a bill.

Which brings us to this.  A lot of "affordable care" isn't medicine, but sociology.  When you medicate to prevent the results of a healthy body doing a biological act that's not medicine or it certainly isn't necessary medicine. It's nearly the opposite. And objecting to that makes a lot of sense.

Which, in this particular era, brings us to the topic of how much do we want to cover?  Nobody wants the ill to go untreated.  But do we extend to the margins of science?  Are we going to cover birth control, abortions, cosmetic surgery based on self identity?

If it seems like we haven't really discussed all these things its because, well, we haven't.

And what about costs?

A lot of the reasons that health care is so expensive is that its improved so much over the past half century.  But another is that we don't regulate the price of things in our sort of economy.  We don't really know why things cost what they do.

But we do know, if we are honest, that a national health care system that actually works, and we aren't there yet, will control costs.  People who think otherwise are delusional on this point.  No national health care system that includes everyone will function until taxes are levied to pay for it and costs are controlled by the payer. That's a fact.  And in that sort of system, the money flowing into medical practices and medical industries will have to ultimately decline massively.  And some of this will result in reduced services, probably, and indeed perhaps rationing of one thing or another.

Again, I'm not saying that is good or bad.  I'm saying that flat out is.  It happens to an extent already as health insurers never pay the full rate of anything, nor do government entities like state run workers compensation systems.  But the extent which this would have to occur in a national system is huge.

Which takes me to a prediction. 

At the end of the day, in a nation as big and diverse as we've become, but in an era in which medicine is so advanced and so expensive, we're going to end up with some type of single payer system sooner or later.  We'll have to. We've started down this road, and that's where we will end up.  We're not going back to the pre Affordable Care days, and we're not going to wipe out health insurance and go back to 1939.  So we're going forward, and that means sooner or later we're going forward into one system.  It might be fifty systems mandated by the Federal government, perhaps with health carriers bidding in, or it might be a giant workers compensation type system. But that's what we'll end up doing.  When we get there, there's a good chance that what it provides will be limited by national consensus, or discord.  In other words, my guess it'll pay for all emergency medicine, basic treatment, but if you want birth control pills, your hooters enhanced, or an ugly scar across your chest removed, you'll have to pay for that yourself.

Later rather than sooner, but that's my guess, for good or ill.

Dog Pile

What's right isn't always popular, and whats popular isn't always right--Albert Einstein
Kids play a game, or used to, that was called "dog pile". Basically it involved a group of children jumping piling on one kid in a big pile.

James Montgomery Flagg illustration for Leslie's Magazine, May 3, 1917.  Civilization, which presumably was represented by the Allies, is depict ed about to strike down the German Beast, which is wearing the classic German helmet of the time,and has a turned up Kaiser Wilhelm mustache.  This post isn't actually about World War One, but illustrates my point.  The German Empire was only marginally less civilized, if at all, than quite a few of the Allied powers of the Great War, and wasn't particularly beastly or uniquely so.

I'm often amazed by the extent to which adults play this game.

Adults, of course, don't recognize that they're doing it.  No, not at all.  But they do.
Public opinion is the worst of all opinions.--Nicolas Chamfort
Often when they do, they believe that their being pioneering in their views.  Not always, but often.  You can tell what current social trend of the day has achieved widespread acceptance when everyone, most people, college protestors, and the media, dog pile on whomever holds the opposing view.

Journalist do control public opinion; but it is not contolled by the arguments they publish--it is controlled by teh arguments between the editor and the sub editor, which they do not publish. --G. K. Chesterton.
Now, that means that holding those views involves an element of bravery.  It doesn't make those views right, but merely because a majority of people hold the opposing view at any one time doesn't make those views right either.

A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.--G. K. Chesterton
In my lifetime, I've seen the public jump on the bandwagon on opinions and movements in a major way, and then back away from them just as strongly.   

Nearly everyone was for invading Iraq in the first Gulf War, no matter what they say now.  Journals that went after the government for the war later on were enthusiastically for it before the first shot was fired, and on the march to Baghdad there was hardly a dissenting voice.

At the end of the Vietnam War everyone was against it, and all veterans were drug addled baby killing dangers to society.  A few years later, the war was simply a mistake (oops) and the veterans were all mistreated heroes.

And so too, I'd note, with big social movements that touch on the very nature of human beings and our natures.  Its interesting to watch the consensus move to the point on some things that people can declare the opposing view wrong in every way and still think themselves trendy, which in fact the opposite is the case. None of that, however, changes the nature of nature, including our own natures.  Nature doesn't care much about our opinions.

People can tell you to keep your mouth shut, but that doesn't stop you from having your own opinion.--Anne Frank


Too much capitalism does not mean too many capitalists, but too few capitalists.

GK Chesterton

Signing the French War Loan, May 8, 1917.

The Big Picture: Stock Yards, St. Paul Minnesota. May 8, 1917

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Seems odd

The French have their national elections on Sunday, and are having one today.

That seems odd for some reason.

Hate and Love

There are those who hate Christianity and call their hatred an all-embracing love for all religions.

GK Chesterton

Sunday Morning Scene: Churches of the West: Unidentified, Medicine Bow Wyoming

Churches of the West: Unidentified, Medicine Bow Wyoming:

This is an old Prairie Gothic style church in Medicine Bow, Wyoming, but other than that, I don't know anything about it.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

A Mid Week At Work Query: When you were a teenager, what did you want to be?

Pop Fisher: You know my mama wanted me to be a farmer.
Roy Hobbs: My dad wanted me to be a baseball player.
From The Natural

Just a week ago I posted a query about your dreams about what you wanted "to be" when you were a child.

And now I'm going to those troublesome teen years.

About this time, coinciding really with entering junior high school, or middle school as it apparently is more commonly called, this question comes up with increasingly frequency in direct and implied fashion for nearly everyone.  "What are your plans?"  "What do you want to do?"  Everyone has experienced it.  For many people, for the first time in their lives they're forced to consider that question.  Indeed, the education system itself is partially geared towards helping you to make that decision, or should I say forcing you to make it?

And I'm not necessarily saying that's bad, I'm just saying it occurs.

It's really at this stage that I start to take some people seriously when they declare that their later vocations were their earlier goals.  As earlier noted, when somebody tells me "I've always wanted to be a lawyer, doctor, accountant" etc., I think "oh bull". But if somebody tells me that they formed that goal in high school or middle school I credit it.

But how often do those high school dreams pan out?  I wonder.

When I was in middle school I didn't have any sort of really defined career goals.  I had a bunch of potential aspirations. This carried on, really, to high school, or at least up to my senior year of high school.  I thought about entering the service. . .maybe the Army. . maybe the Marine Corps. . . maybe the Air Force (the Navy always struck me as something I didn't want to do) but by the time I was in middle school that childhood aspiration had really declined a great deal.  By the time I was in the later stages of high school I knew that what I really wanted to do was to be a rancher, a particularly frustrating goal if deeply felt, which it was, and you live in the later part of the 20th Century.  By that time I was well aware that buying ranch land was out of sight for my family and that homesteading had ended in 1932.  That didn't keep me, however, from investigating northern Canada (homesteading, oddly enough, in the far north had just been halted) and Alaska (where it still goes on, on a state level, but where it's frankly geared towards the hobbyist and outdoorsman, not the real farmer).  So that was clearly out. So what then?

Well, clearly, an outdoor occupation.

The one I strongly considered was becoming a game warden. Indeed, by the time I was a senior in high school I'd decided to become a game warden.  

I'm not a game warden.

I changed my mind on that for the simple reason that my father noted that there were a lot of guys around here with wildlife management degrees who weren't working in that field, which was likely true.  In retrospect, that was an example of making a big decision on little information and, hindsight being 20/20, I doubt it was the right decision. The field I did enter involved an extremely difficult course of study and ended up in no employment anyhow, not necessarily a better result.  Indeed, likely a worse one.

Sometime around my senior year I vaguely decided to enter the field of geology.  And I do mean vague as I can't recall  it every being  a hard and fast decision at that point and it didn't really fix until I was in college.  Geology, I thought, was an obviously outdoor career.  That was my reason for entering it; that and that my mother used to note, probably in the form of encouragement, that I was good at science.  I was, but I was never any good at math, and that meant I ended up taking a lot of math in college, but I also ended up doing fairly well at it.  

One thing I was good at was writing, and I seriously thought about trying to become a writer.  I knew even then, however, that breaking into writing in a serious way was a tough thing to do.  I really wanted to write history, but a person can't really just write history.  I briefly considered majoring in history in college but I didn't know where I could take that, so I didn't (again, as it happens it would have qualified me as much for my ultimate occupation as my geology degree did).  When I was in high school I was on the school newspaper for a year and I entertained trying to be a newspaper writer, but for whatever reason its an aspiration I dropped fairly quickly.

So returning to the question, what did you want to do as a teenager, and are you that?  Of the five things I thought I wanted to be when I was a teenager; solider, game warden, writer, geologist, and rancher, I've been three on a part time basis. I guess those aspirations sort of worked out, but sort of not.  Being a part time soldier worked out well, but being a part time rancher was something that came late and never fully.  I've written quite a large number of magazine articles and one book, but I have found that my occupation precludes me from really having the time I need to write history like I want to.  And I've started a novel, but it's slow moving and has been slow moving for years.  Again, a writer needs time to write.

Lessons learned?  

Well, I don't know that there are any.

How about you? What did you want to do, and did you do that?

Horse Show, Washington D.C. May 3, 1917

The Casper Daily Tribune for May 3, 1917: Lazy men and soldiering, and the start of a Casper landmark

There are a couple of items in this May 3, 1917 issue of the Casper Daily Tribune that are relevant for later eras.

For one thing, the boom in the town was now reflecting itself in the new professional appearance of the newspaper.  Gone was the small town appearance of purely local news.  Casper, for the first time, now had a paper that was starting to rival the big established papers in other regions of the state.  This paper doesn't even resemble the appearance of the Casper papers of just a couple of months ago.

The church, as can be seen above, is of substantial size and that also points to the change in Casper's economic fortunes in this period. 

Finally, from the various news articles I've seen, I've sort of taken it to be the case that Casper, which was a tiny town prior to 1917, did not have a National Guard unit up until this time.  I could be in error, however, as Casper's newspapers were of a fairly poor quality and they aren't all available by any means.  Douglas had one, however, and its small papers reported on that unit extensively.  Over the last couple of issues, however, its clear that the National Guard, which was actively recruiting for new units in the opening weeks of American participation in World War One, was recruiting for just such a unit to be formed in Casper.

Earlier we noted that 1917 was the year that really made Casper. This newspaper, in and of itself, provides some pretty good examples of how that is true.

Blog Mirror: Analysis | History suggests there is a way to lower inequality. But you’re not going to like it

History suggests there is a way to lower inequality. But you’re not going to like it

Blog Mirror: Seven Office Menswear Dilemmas—and How to Manage Them

Seven Office Menswear Dilemmas—and How to Manage Them

A suit and tie was a cinch. But relaxed dress codes have left men tense about workwear. Here, some angsty issues and solid advice

“ARE YOU GOING FARMING?” Not a question you want to find yourself fielding at the water cooler, but when Glenn Yarris wore light-wash denim jeans and a thick belt to work, he received exactly this reaction—from his boss. Mr. Yarris, 32, had unwittingly strayed from the uniform of dark jeans and sport-coat to which the men at Humanscale, an ergonomic furniture company in Manhattan, he . . .
Ah, standards of dress.

A topic we've touched on quite a few times here.

Good stuff in this article.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Baseball's Only Double No Hitter, May 2, 1917

On this day.

 Winning pitcher Toney.

The Reds v The Cubs.  Ten innings.  One run.  Victory to the Reds.

 Hippo Vaughn.

Fred Toney v. Hippo Vaughn.  They both pitched the entire game.

When the run came in, and the Cubs lost, Cubs owner Charlie Weeghman stuck his head into the Cubs clubhouse and yelled at the team, “You’re all a bunch of asses!

 Charlie Weeghman, far left, in 1914.

The Vision Blues

Some time ago here I posted about my struggle with vision in the context of work and daily life.

It isn't that I have really bad eyesight.  I don't. But my eyesight has arrived at the point where my distance vision isn't changing but my near in vision has reached the point where I need my regular glasses, which are bifocals, for reading and distance vision, but I needed a separate set of "computer glasses" to work with computers.


The problem that presents is a lot more irritating than it sounds.  With computer glasses on, my vision is clear for maybe about three feet. Or, more accurately, from about 12" out to about 3'.

Now, one of the things about practicing law is that you use your computers anymore a lot.  It's something that I'm highly acclimated to and its something that newer lawyers can't imagine not being the case.  But, when I stop to think about it, it's been enormously revolutionary.  That wasn't always the case by any means.

Lawyer Mabel Willebrandt in her law office, probably about 1920. She became an Assistant U.S. Attorney in 1921, something really remarkable for woman in that era.  She's doing what we used to all do, read hard texts in an office full of books.  We still do that, but we are also typically on the computer all day long.

And that has meant that I must put on my computer glasses for large stretches of the day.

What this has taught me, however, is that a lot, and I do mean a lot, of people drop in my office all day long.  I hadn't really appreciated that until I started wearing computer glasses.  As I couldn't see them clearly, what that meant in turn is that I was taking my computer glasses off and putting my regular glasses back on constantly.

That's a pain.

That's particularly a pain if, as in my case, you wear glasses that have a temple frame, which very view people do.  As I noted in an earlier post on my glasses tribulations:

Temple frames, as you can see, have those ear hook things.

Very few glasses have that now.

I don't know exactly why they were so common at one time and are not now, but what I do know is that glasses reached this basic configuration, nose pieces and ear hooks, due to horseback riding.  They went to that basic style as these sorts of glasses are more secure than others.  Frankly, that's why I liked them as well, in part.  Not only are the lenses smaller than those so typically found on eyeglasses today, save for "fashion" glasses, but they hooks mean they stay on.  Having had glasses come off, on odd occasion, in the field, I can tell you that's bad.

Indeed, at least as late as the 1980s one of the two pair of highly ugly eyeglasses issued to enlisted soldiers in the Army had the hook type ear pieces.

 Me, wearing my GI glasses, at Ft. Sill.  We were apparently shooting on the day this photo was taken, as I'm wearing my glasses, and we're cleaning M16s.
Well, while I like that sort of frame as they stay on, if you are taking them off and putting them back on a million times a day, it really becomes a pain.

 My computer desk. . . okay, that's actually a very old "secretary" that I've re-purposed as a computer desk, which it does very well as I might add.  I'm embarrassed by the state of messiness in this photo, but it shows where I spend most of my day most days.
Which is why I finally reached a point I couldn't stand it, and now I'm wearing contact lenses at work for the first time ever.  And wearing contact lenses again for the first time since probably 1985 or 1986.
I don't really like it, even though everyone says that I would (pretty much).

I really hate putting them in.  Next to that, I hate taking them out.

And I hate feeling vain. That may sound odd, and I wasn't expecting to feel that way, but I do.

I guess that's because I'm old enough that contact lenses weren't the default eye correction for most people.  When I first had them in my early twenties they were sort of a way of not wearing glasses, and as I hated my glasses at the time (and that was a particularly ghastly era for glasses) that's sort of what I was seeking to to at that time.  That isn't really the case any more.  Even my recently departed next door neighbor at work wore contact lenses, and he was in his 90s when he passed away.

And it wasn't what I was seeking to do now, and in part that may just be because I do look different without my glasses, I'm used to them (and like them) and its odd. The glasses sort of became a part of my established appearance even to me.  And of course people noticed.

But. . . . it did solve the dilemma I was facing.  I change my glasses much less often now.  So it worked.