Saturday, January 21, 2017

Poster Saturday: Pour La France.

I understand what this poster was for, "Combat gold for Victory", but my gosh its odd.

Senator Bebout reads the tea leaves

Yesterday, after the Inauguration, Senator Bebout announced that he was killing the proposed public lands transfer constitutional amendment by refusing to assign it for consideration. That's his option as President of the Senate.

He acknowledged, in doing that, the full force of public opinion, although he maintained that the whole effort was misunderstood.

To the extent it is misunderstood, and that wouldn't be misunderstood much, it would apparently be by our Senators and Congresswoman back in Washington D.C., who still appear to be clueless on this.  Faced with a public revolt, Bebout took the wise and politic route and sidetracked it before the legislature and individual legislators had to pay a price for refusing to listen to the public.  Located more remotely, we haven't seen any similar reactions out of D. C. yet.  But that may be coming . . . if people like holding their seats.

The Sunday State Leader for January 21, 1917. US Withdrawing from Mexico

The plant to withdraw from Mexico hit the press, along with a prediction that Villa would fill the vaccum.

Wyoming Guardsmen got high praise however.

And the Legislature was looking at Blue Laws.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Small Arms of WWI Primer 002: French Berthier Rifles

Small Arms of WWI Primer 001: Rifle Modèle 1886 M93 "Lebel"

Part of the series we started doing on weapons of the 1910s, given on our focus on that era.  The WWII era "Lebel".

I'll confess that I know very little about French weapons, other than they're odd looking.

Today In Wyoming's History: January 20. The Legislature sends Prohibition to the voters.

People tend not to think of Wyoming in the context of Prohibition, but the state was part of the big sweep that lead to it.  Indeed, while the story lays in the future from this post, Wyoming would push prohibition over the top with Sen. Francis E. Warren's vote in favor of the Volstead Act.

On this day, a century ago, the Legislature, which was predicted to pass a pro-Prohibition bill, did:
Today In Wyoming's History: January 20:

1917   Legislature passed an act submitting an act for a constitutional amendment that would allow people to vote on prohibition. Attribution:  On This Day.
The introduction of the bill had been widely predicated by the Cheyenne newspapers, in the form of predicting some bill.  That it would have taken the form, in 1917, of a proposed amendment to the state constitution is a bit of a surprise, but that would have served the dual purpose of making anything that passed really difficult to get rid of and, additionally, sort of passing the buck to the voters, as such an amendment requires the voters to approve it.

Which they didn't.

I'm not certain how it played out, but if the regular process took place, the voters rejected the measure that following fall.  Wyoming was the last state in the Rocky Mountain region to adopt Prohibition and the proposed amendment did not become law.

Which might have been a sign of things to come. While the state did pass Prohibition into law voluntarily, and in fact pushed it over the top nationally, it took to violating it nearly immediately.  Indeed Western Wyoming would become a bootleg liquor center, with wine being fermented in the Italian sections of Rock Springs and, ironically, heavily Mormon Kemmerer becoming a location for the distillation of high quality bootleg whiskey made with locally grown grain.

As outlined by Phil Roberts in an excellent article in Annals of Wyoming recently, Prohibition did break the back of the saloon trade in Wyoming, which in the end was a good thing. When alcohol returned in the 1930s it was stepped in over time, and with a new system which we retain today. That system, oddly enough for "free enterprise" Wyoming, runs all alcohol through the State Liquor Warehouse, which is the wholesaler for Wyoming, with no legal exceptions.

Prohibition would have the unfortunate impact of killing off a lot of local breweries, including those in Wyoming.  This has changed only recently, although there are quite a few small breweries now and even two distilleries.

A bottle of Wyoming Whiskey.  Something the legislators of 1917 would probably not have appreciated seeing at the time.

Blog Mirror: Friday Farming: The Salt: The Lost Ancestral Peanut Of The South Is Revived

The Salt

Vice President Marshall receives California Electoral Vote, January 20, 1917

Vice President receiving the official California votes.

Why it was received so late, I have no idea.  And why the Vice President received it I don't know either, other than this was the same day that Admiral Dewey's funeral occurred on and I suspect that President Wilson was at that.

Admiral Dewey laid to rest.

Admiral George Dewey, who died on January 16, 1917, was laid to rest on this day.

Dewey was critical to the US's rise to power as a naval power during the Spanish American War.  In some ways the results of that rise were about to play out on an even bigger world stage.

The escort here is an Army and Navy one, with his coffin born on a caisson.

Suffragette pickets at the White House, January 20, 1917

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Wyoming Fact and Fiction: Today Mostly Fact – Not Much Fiction

From Wyoming Fact and Fiction, a difficult question:
Wyoming Fact and Fiction: Today Mostly Fact – Not Much Fiction: The news dominating Wyoming right now   -  The Legislature is in session, I hope to visit in the next couple of weeks and sit in on some ...

Military Small Arms of the 10s: Small Arms of WWI Primer 014: Canadian Ross Rifle Mark III.

I've been dealing, of course, with the 10s a lot recently.

Well, always actually.

But more specifically, starting in March, I started dealing with 1916 a lot, and now with 1917.  And more specifically than that, while I've been trying to give a lot of contemporary events from a century ago, a lot of those events were military events. 

So, I may provide a few details on the weapons of the period, which were making a lot of noise, literally and figuratively, and for no particular reason, I'm starting here, as it was an easy video to find.

Yes, this doesn't have much to do with any store we've followed closely, except slightly with the Irish Canadian Rangers, but I'll add more details on that later.

Admiral Reginald Hall of the Royal Navy reveals the Zimmerman Note to Edward Bell . . .and the telegram makes it to Mexico City.

Royal Navy Admiral Reginald Hall, who was involved with British signals intelligence in World War One, after the British spent a couple of days pondering what to do with the information, revealed the contents of the Zimmerman Telegraph to Edward Bell, Secretary of the U.S. Embassy in the UK.  Bell at fist refused to believe the note was genuine but then became enraged upon changing his mind.

Admiral Hall.

Hall would informally present the contents of the telegram to American Ambassador Walter Hines Page the following day.  Arthur Balfour would formally give the deciphered and translated text to Hines on February 23, who reported the same to Woodrow Wilson.

Ironically the first news of the telegram was provided to the United States, albeit informally, on the same day that it arrived in Mexico City. Given the nature of wire communications at the time, it didn't arrive in Mexico City until February 19.

The Somme viewed from the air, January 19, 1917

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Secretary of War Newton D. Baker informs Maj. Gen Frederick Funston that the US withdrawing from Mexico.

The caption says it all.

Newton D. Baker.

Frederick Funston.

Well, I suppose it might not if you don't know  who Frederick Funston was.  He was the commander of American forces in the Southwest and in overall  charge of the forces then in Mexico, contrary to it being John Pershing, whom people typically imagine to have been in overall charge.  Pershing was the commander in the field, and Funston was his superior.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Confessions of a Writer of Westerns: Writing Short

Confessions of a Writer of Westerns: Writing Short: Books seem to be getting smaller, at least that is what I have been reading. Many traditional publishers, in their author note sections, ar...

Joint Mexican American Committee Concludes

 Wealthy Mexican in flight

The Joint Committee between the US and Mexico concluded its business.  With the agreement of December 24, 1916 having been made, with Carranza having refused to sign it, and with events overcoming the United States that would give Carranza the result he wanted anyway, there was no more work to be done.

Porfirio Diaz 
Porfirio Diaz in full military costume.  The collapse of his rule lead to the long civil war in Mexico.

Some have stated that the mere existence of the Joint Committee was a success in and of itself, and there is some truth to that.  The committee worked for months on an agreement and came to one, and even if Carranza would not execute it as it didn't guaranty the withdraw of American forces, the fact that the country was now hurtling towards war with Germany made it necessary for that to occur without American formal assent to Carranza's demand.  By not agreeing to it, the US was not bound not to intervene again, which was one of the points that it had sought in the first place. Events essentially gave both nations what they had been demanding.

 Gen. Carransa [i.e., Carranza]

Even if that was the case this step, the first in the beginning of the end of the event we have been tracking since March, has to be seen as a Mexican Constitutionalist victory in the midst of the Mexican Revolution.  At the time the Commission came to the United States it represented only one side in a three way (sometimes more) Mexican civil war that was still raging.  Even as Carranza demanded that the United States withdraw his forces were not uniformly doing well against either Villa or Zapata.  Disdaining the United States in general, in spite of the fact that Wilson treated his government as the de facto government, he also knew that he could not be seen to be achieving victory over Villa through the intervention of the United States, nor could he be seen to be allowing a violation of Mexican sovereignty.  His refusal to acquiesce to allowing American troops to cross the border in pursuit of raiders, something that the Mexican and American governments had allowed for both nations since the mid 19th Century, allowed him to be seen as a legitimate defender of Mexican sovereignty and as the legitimate head of a Mexican government.

 Gen. Pancho Villa
Emiliano Zapata, 1879-1919

As will be seen, even though the war in Mexico raged on, events were overtaking the US and Mexico very quickly.  The Constitutionalist government was legitimizing itself as a radical Mexican de jure government and would quickly become just that.  Revolutions against it would go on for years, but it was very quickly moving towards full legitimacy.  And the United States, having failed to capture Villa or even defeat the Villistas, and having accepted an effective passive role in Mexico after nearly getting into a full war with the Constitutionalist, now very much had its eye on Europe and could not strategically afford to be bogged down in Mexico.  A silent desire to get out of Mexico had become fully open.  The rough terms of the agreement arrived upon by the Committee, while never ratified by Carranza, would effectively operate anyway and the United States now very quickly turned to withdrawing from Mexico.

 Gen. Alfaro Obregon & staff of Yaquis

Monday, January 16, 2017

Lex Anteinternet: Civil Holidays. Their observance, or lack thereof. A Wyoming Equality Day observation.

This is an old post that I've bumped up in this fashion on at least one prior occasion.
Lex Anteinternet: Civil Holidays:  Leann posted an item on her blog about Columbus Day, urging Congress to consider changing it to Indigenous Peoples Day .  I
I was reminded of it as it's both Martin Luther King Day nationally and Wyoming Equality Day in the state, but outside of state and Federal employees, it's not observed much here. That doesn't mean its not observed at all, but not much.  To the extent it is observed it tends to be observed almost ethnically or politically.  Indeed, people were slow to get to the office today and I had two employees ask me "Is this a holiday?"  It is, but not one that anyone takes off.

I'm not sure of what to make of that.  But I do know that if civil holidays aren't observed by employers there not really holidays.  That may sound harsh, but that's the reality of it.  It's just a day at work without mail.  In some cases, like Veterans' Day, its a day where things might be observed in some fashion; a lot of businesses give breaks to veterans and the movie channels run war movies non stop, but still, a holiday that businesses don't take off isn't a real holiday.

And that's a shame.

If these days are important, well, they should be observed. But unless the government affirmatively requires them to be taken off, most will not be.  Only the self employed who are very secure about their place in the world is going to observe some of them.  But in the United States, which has an aggressive attachment to concepts of free enterprise in the current era, a legal effort to require that business stand down would not go anywhere and would instead be controversial.

And, indeed, this has spread even to weekends, which used to be very widely observed, or at least Sundays were.  Even around here, in a region that notoriously has not had blue laws, it used to be almost impossible to get much more than basic grocery services on Sundays.  As a kid I recall you could not find an open gas station here on a Sunday.  On the 4th of July weekend you had to buy your gasoline early if you intended to go anywhere, or you were going nowhere.

I'm not sure the change has been for the good.

Admiral George Dewey dies

George Dewey, a hero of the Spanish American War and the only U.S. officer to ever hold the rank Admiral of the Navy died at age 79 on this date in 1917.  He had been an officer in the U.S. Navy since the Civil War but obtained fame during the war with Spain during which his fleet took Manila Bay, securing the Philippines for the United States.

 Dewey as a Captain while with the Bureau of Equipment.

Dewey was a Naval Academy graduate from the Class of 1858.  He saw very active service during the Civil War with service on a variety of vessels.  He married Susan Goodwin after the Civil War and had one son, George, by Susan in 1872, but she died only five days thereafter leaving him a widower with a young son.  He none the less shortly received sea duty, retaining it until 1880 when he was assigned to lighthouse administration duty, a serious assignment at the time.  His son was principally raised by his aunts and would not follow the military career of his father, becoming instead a stock broker who passed away, having never married, in 1963.  Dewey himself asked for sea duty again in 1893 as he felt his health was deteriorating with a desk job.  He was therefore assigned, at the rank of Commodore, to command the Asiatic Squadron in  1897.

Seeing the war coming and receiving what were essentially war warnings from Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt in the weeks leading up to the Spanish American War, he based himself at Hong Kong, the British possession, and began war preparations from there.  His fleet was ordered out of harbor at Hong Kong only shortly before the declaration of war with Spain as the British, knowing that the war was to come, did not want a belligerent power in their ports, which they were effectively doing in the run up to war. His squadron was therefore well situated, if not completely re-outfitted, to attack Manila Bay only a few days later, on April 30, 1898 after war had been declared.  In a one sided victory which cost only one American life (of course the "only" wouldn't mean much to that sailor) Spanish naval power in the Philippines was essentially eliminated in the battle.  As a result he became a household name and a great American hero of the era.

 Heroic painting of Dewey in the Battle of Manila in the Maine State House.

Dewey married for the second time (second marriages were somewhat looked down upon for widowers) in 1899, this time to the widow of a U.S. Army general.  The marriage to Mildred McLean Hazen would be a factor, amongst several others, in keeping him from running for President in 1900, which was a semi popular position with some people and which he entertained.  His second wife was Catholic and the marriage had been a Catholic ceremony, which angered Protestants at a time at which it remained effectively impossible for a Catholic to run for that office.  In 1903 he was promoted to the rank of Admiral of the Navy in honor of his Spanish American War achievement making him the only U.S. officer to ever hold that rank.

 Dewey in 1903.

The extent to which Dewey was a huge hero at the time cannot be overestimated.  That he would seriously be considered as a Presidential contender, and seriously consider running, says something about his fame at the time.  His promotion to a rank that is matched only to that held by John Pershing in the U.S. Army, and which of course Pershing did not yet hold, meant that he was effectively at that time holding a rank that exceeded that granted to any other American officer during their lifetime and which has never been exceeded by any Naval officer since.  A special medal was struck bearing his likeness and awarded to every sailor or marine serving in the battle, a remarkable unique military award.  That he is not a household name today, and he is not, says a lot about the fickle nature of fame.

Armour's meat packing calendar from 1899, Dewey medal, as it is commonly known, on lower left corner.

There's no denying that Admiral Dewey's death had a certain fin de siecle feel to it, particularly when combined with the passing of Buffalo Bill Cody, which happened the prior week, and also in combination with the death of another famous person which was about to occur.  It is not that Dewey and Cody had similar careers or that they'd become famous for the same reason, but there was a sense that the transition age which began in the 1890s and continued on into the early 20th Century was ending.  Both Cody and Dewey had careers that started at about the same time. Both were Civil War veterans.  If Cody became famous well before the 1890s, which he did, it was also the case that in some ways the full flower of his Wild West Show came during that period.  Indeed, Cody had modified his show after the Spanish American War to feature the "Congress of Rough Riders", building on the romantic notions that the term "Rough Rider" conveyed. That term, of course, had come up during the Spanish American War to describe members of the three volunteer cavalry regiments raised during that conflict, never mind that only one of them, the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry, saw service in the war and that it was in fact deployed dismounted.

 Dewey receiving Roosevelt on board the Olympia, 1909.

Indeed, the actual Spanish American War had been a fully modern war, much like the Boer War was, and which saw the US attempting to belatedly adapt to that change.  The Navy was really better prepared for it than the Army.  That contributed to the peculiar nature of the era, however, with combat being much like what we'd later see in World War One but with the service still having one foot in the Civil War era.  By the war's end, of course, the US was a global colonial power, whether it was ready to be or not, and that was a large part of the reason that Dewey was such a celebrated figure.  His actions in the Philippines had significantly contributed to the defeat of a European colonial power, albeit a weak and decrepit one, and which helped to make the US a colonial power, albeit a confused and reluctant one.  The passing of Dewey and Cody seem, even now, to have the feel of the people who opened the door stepping aside to let they party in, just before they go back out.

Dewey in retirement, 1912.

The United States ratified the treaty of sale for the Danish West Indies . . .

on this day in 1917.

The sale had been arranged in 1916 and a treaty signed by the Danish Minister and U.S. Secretary of STate on August 4, 1916.  The U.S. Senate approved the treaty making the transfer on September 7, 1916.  But this was not without considerable controversy in Denmark and it was scheduled for a referendum in Denmark, which was held, passing the sale, on December 14, 196.  On December 22, 1916  the Danish Parliament approved the treaty.  Woodrow Wilson ratified the treaty on this day in 1917.  Ratification exchanges would occur the following day and the treaty proclaimed on January 25 by  the United States and March 9 by King Christian X.  The warrant for payment would be made on March 31, 1917, and the exchange of ownership occured on April 1.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

T. K. Whitaker as a model for Wyoming?

Irish politician T. K. Whitaker died this past week.

He would note be well known, or indeed known at all, to Wyoming's politicians. But maybe he ought to be.  He was a conservative politician whose economic reforms revolutionized the Irish economy.  As one of the columnists for the Irish Times related the other day:
In Giuseppe de Lampedusa’s great novel, The Leopard, a conservative 19th-century Italian aristocrat is shocked to find his beloved nephew is running away to join the revolutionaries. But the nephew famously explains: “If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.”
TK Whitaker was the greatest of Ireland’s conservative revolutionaries. He wanted things to stay as they were and, in a culture ravaged by mass emigration, people to stay where they were. He grasped the great paradox of his time: that Ireland could not be stabilised without radical change. He did not imagine just how deep the transformation would be. But he had the intellectual authority, the political skill and the quiet charisma to force a sclerotic state to alter the way it thought about itself.
Whitaker sponsored reforms that revolutionized the Irish economy with the goal of keeping the Ireland of the past.  He didn't quite succeed as his reforms sparked more change than he anticipated, but in some ways, he was a huge success.  Ireland went from being a country that, as late as the 1950s and 1960s, was hemorrhaging its young population at a stunning rate to being one where its Irish expatriates have been returning home for a long time. Ireland, which has a relatively small population by European standards, lost 500,000 people from 1945 to 1960.

Ireland's post independence economic policy was based on the one thing it had, farm ground, and the economy was based on protectionism from 1932 on.  It had an inward looking economy, which is admittedly different from Wyoming's but the way Whitaker approached the economy should be instructive to us nonetheless.

The key to that was Whitaker's realization that the Irish economy created a situation where there was no economic evolution or growth at all  Ireland completely missed out on the post World War Two European economic boom.  In part this was almost intentional in that Irish politicians wanted to keep Ireland Irish, which in their view meant protecting the near agrarian lifestyle that seemed to define Ireland.  Whitaker, a conservative, wanted to preserve that too but he also realized that perpetually hemorrhaging its young population was not going to achieve that goal.  Whitaker worked on slowly changing the economy to open it up to industry which in turn lead to the Celtic Tiger era of the 1970s-2000s and the Celtic Phoenix economy since 2007.  That stemmed the loss of the young.

A person can debate, of course, whether Whitaker's goal was really realized.  Ireland, like other countries that go into sudden wealth, hasn't handled all of it well and its culture has been done some damage.  Some nations, such as Norway, have handled such transitions better than others.  But his legacy cannot be ignored and provides a lesson.

Just this past week Governor Mead address the hemorrhaging of Wyoming's young.  This has been something I've heard politicians speak about since I was young, and I'm older than Governor Mead, a bit.  Living in Wyoming long term is not easy and it involves a conscious choice of choosing to live here over better economic prospects elsewhere.  It also means living in an economy that somewhat mirrors Ireland's in that the soul of the state is in agriculture, no matter what the Legislature may believe, but it is not possible for average Wyomingites to enter that field.  Like Ireland, you have to be born into the land to work it, usually.

I'm not suggesting that we should abandon agriculture in any fashion, and Ireland did not. But Whitaker realized that the traditional Irish economy was depleting the country of its young.  Wyoming has over the years emphasized an economy built almost exclusively on mineral extraction. That brings people in, usually temporarily, in boom cycles and takes a lot of people out, including natives, during bust cycles.

Moreover, because the economy is so heavily based on the extractive industries it puts the state's young in a difficult situation in which they have to determine if they want to enter that industry themselves, which many do not wish to do so, or one of the industries that supports the extractive industries in some fashion, or leave. That's a harsh thing to have to decide.  Quite a few people spend their entire careers until retirement living elsewhere and then coming back by which time, frankly, they aren't really the Wyomingites they were when they left.  You can't really work in Los Angeles for 40 years and come back the same person, with the same likes, and some concerns.  Indeed, that's not really even fair to your adopted state which supported you in your livelihood and which maybe has some claim on you when you retire.

As I'm not a T. K. Whitaker so I don't know what that economic change would fully entail, although I've given my views of it before.  I'm sure, however, that it entails looking outside the box at what we have and what we don't.  But when we've said that before, we've largely done nothing.

Sunday Morning Scene: Churches of the West: Unknown, Lander Wyoming

Churches of the West: Unknown, Lander Wyoming:

This building obviously was built as a church, but no longer is used as one.  I don't know what its use is today.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Is President Elect Trump seriously insulting John Lewis?

President Elect Trump would do well to remember that he was unpopular with the voters.  The voters basically, for the most part, didn't like him.  They disliked Hillary Clinton more.  Part of the story of Trump's election isn't necessary that he won but that the Democrats lost.

John Lewis stated recently that he wasn't going to the inauguration and that Trump was an illegitimate President.  Some of Lewis' comments recently have struck me as a bit childish, and this is one, but its not like he has to go, and its not like people who feel differently need react.

Trump did.

On Twitter.
Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to......mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk - no action or results. Sad!
There are some things you don't do, and this is one of them.

I don't know what the situation is in John Lewis' district.  I know that he's 76 years old and has a legitimate background in the Civil Rights era.  I also think that Mr. Lewis' refusal to attend the inauguration and calling Trump "illegitimate" is childish, but by the same token a President responding is worse.

Trump may not have the credit with the GOP on everything he thinks he does. Since the election the GOP has tried to get behind him for obvious reasons. But whether this will fully continue is yet to be seen.  Nebraska's Ben Sasse, who for many in the GOP was a last ditch "never Trump" alternative has come out in Lewis' defense and already some in Congress are showing more independence in bucking and questioning Trump than might be expected.  A few more ill advised comments like this and he might find himself being effectively a lame duck right out of the box, except where Republicans in Congress can use him.

Road Hazards

Yesterday, on my way to work, I had to divert my Jeep down at a busy intersection in order to drive around Tom the Turkey.

Tom is a local celebrity.  He's a great big tom turkey, a turkey Lothario, and he's mean.  He's also stupid and hangs around on busy streets continually.  I have to drive around him frequently, as to many others.

Only a few minutes before that, I had to slow to a near stop to miss antelope that were down by the college.  They've added the southern part of the college grounds and the municipal golf course to their winter range.

On the way home, I had to nearly come to a screeching halt near the same place as a herd of antelope again crossed the road. By this time the sun was going down and the light poor, and given where they were, they were not easy to see.

When I got home I had to run to the grocery store.  I took one the bypass roads to do it, a very busy one, and was confronted with a buck deer standing in the road.  Just standing there. Again, I missed it, but I was lucky that nothing was behind me as I slowed from 40 mph down to about 20 mph before it moved.

I came back the same way, and antelope bolted across the road.  A pickup barely missed one.

All of this was in town.

I like wildlife, although as a stockman and hunter I don't have the Disney view of wildlife so common amongst the urban naive. But something needs to be done.  This has gone from a few head of antelope that eccentrically hung out near the college to entire large herds.  The antelope are now using a large area as winter range and there are a considerable number.  Deer have penetrated fairly far into the town. 

Somebody is going to get killed.

Best Posts of the Week for the Week of January 8, 2017

The best of the past week:

Monday, January 9, 2017


Friday, January 13, 2017

Meryl Streep, The Arts, Katie Nolan, Sports, and Leisure as the basis of Culture

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, January 11, 1917

Poster Saturday: Patria

The headlines, sort of, were invading theaters fairly regularly by this time.

This film was a fifteen part serial released on this date in 1917. The plot involved espionage and intrigue as Japanese spies seek to steal the Channing "Preparedness" fortune and then invade the United States through New York while allying themselves with Mexico.  The feastibility of the Japanese invading through New York, or indeed at all, was apparently not an issue for the script writers but it is odd that a film based on an enemy alliance with Mexico would have come out during that period of time in which a German diplomatic note proposing just that was sitting in the U.S. Embassy in Berlin.

Patria Channing, with the assistance of U.S. Secret Service agent Donald Parr, foil the plot.

The film, which was financed by William Randolph Hearst , was investigated after World War One to see if it might have been German financed propaganda based upon a scheme discovered to have been proposed to influence movies by a German propagandist whose articles appeared in Hearst's papers, which was similar to the plot of the movie, but presumably this was found to be a mere coincidence.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Meryl Streep, The Arts, Katie Nolan, Sports, and Leisure as the basis of Culture

I didn't watch the Golden Globe awards.

And not just this year.

I never watch them.

So, as a result, I missed the entire Meryl Streep makes comments alluding to Donald Trump thing.

Now, let me note that given as I have not watched them, I'm not commenting on what she said.  As people who've read my prior comments here know I generally don't grasp why people listen to entertainers or sports figures on any issue.  Their job is entertaining and generally, while there are exceptions, I don't find their commentary particularly illuminating on anything.

That doesn't mean, in my view, that they should simply shut up.  People in a democracy have a right to speak, no matter how ill informed or vapid their comments may be. And, I'd further note, that Donald Trump, about whom she was commenting, came up partially due to the entertainment industry and hence there's a certain peculiar element to this.

What I take to be the case is that Streep, apparently, was condemning a comment Trump made about a crippled person who appeared in opposition to him at one of his rallies. As I didn't follow Trump that closely during the election and never thought he stood a chance, I'm not even prepared to comment on that.  If he said such things, that's terrible and he shouldn't have.

And, going to where I will comment, he ought to stop all this Tweeting.  It's embarrassing and not dignified and he should knock it off or at least be restrained.  Governor Matt Mead has a Twitter account and he's restrained.  Perhaps Trump could take Tweeting lessons from fellow Republican Mead.

Anyhow, that aside, sometimes you find really interesting and illuminating commentary even where it's not really intended to be.  Such as here:

This is commentary, in jest (but I suspect not entirely in jest) by Katie Nolan of Garbage Time.

Now, for those of you who do not know, Garbage Time is a sports, mostly football, commentary program that was designed to run, apparently, in "garbage time."  According to Wikipedia the term means:
Garbage time is a term used to refer to the period toward the end of a timed sporting event that has become a blowout when the outcome of the game has already been decided, and the coaches of one or both teams will decide to replace their best players with substitutes.
Okay, so that's what Garbage Time is and that's what Nolan has named her show.

Now, long time viewers here know that I don't really know much about professional sports and I'm particularly ignorant on football, which I don't like.  How, therefore, would I know about a show even called Garbage Time?

Simple enough.  I fly United.

United Airlines, as viewers here also know, runs a series on its planes, and on the Internet, called The Big Metal Bird.  It's clever and I like it. The host is Katie Nolan.  I wouldn't have known that Katie Nolan hosts and is well known because of Garbage Time, but YouTube does and as a result of having linked in all the Big Metal Bird episodes I did here Garbage Time now shows up in my suggested viewing links on YoutTube.  I rarely view one, as I don't know anything about the topics the show addresses.

But I did view this one because of the title.  And, while I'm not getting into the Streep/Trump flap, there's something here worth nothing.  Go and view the video.

Did you watch it?

Okay, if you did, you heard Streep say:
Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners and if we kick them all out you'll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts which are not the arts.

That comment is really worth breaking down.

First of all, I'd note, when I heard that "Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners" I immediately thought of the Vanderpumps.  I'm not a football fan and I've never watched a MMA contest but if having television be all football and MMA matches is the price I have to pay to send the Vanderpumps back home, or preferably to Aleppo, bring it on.

My second thought was, well, . . . . Streep may not be over rated, but that sort of comment does come across as something being said by a self impressed pretentious snot.

Let's be honest to start with.  A lot that's put out by Hollywood, or any other moving picture endeavor, isn't art.  So, if football and MMA aren't art, well, probably Friends and The Big Bang Theory, let alone the whole Grownups franchise, certainly aren't either.

Which is an important point, as it Streep's comments, and indeed a lot of the concepts about film as art, misunderstand its relationship to leisure, which is not only significant, but frankly paramount.

Let's start first however, with the concept that film is art.

Some film is clearly art.  Every David Lean film is art in moving pictures.  Some John Ford films, and I'd argue in particular  The Searchers, is art.  But is all film art. . . well. . . . I doubt it.

Is Grownups art?  Are the appriximately 4,000,000,000 tear jerker football movies art?  What about The Hangover?  No, none of these are art.  What they are is entertainment, allegedly, but they aren't art.  And there's a lot more Hangover's filmed than Lawrence of Arabia's.   

Indeed, in recent years there have been so many trash films made that they simply overwhelm those which might be considered as art.  Bad films, low budget films, and the like, have always been made, and there are scads of examples going all the way back, but it's also the case that since external controls on the contents of movies have been largely removed they have tended more and more towards blue films even in allegedly family offerings.  A piece of crap like Grownups would have been a piece of crap if it had been filmed in the 1950s, but it wouldnt' have had a running series of jokes about boobs in it. Even doubtful propositions from the 50s and early 60s that edged on being quasi scandalous don't compare to the regular fare today, much of which is complete and total junk.

The fact that junk, the run of the mill, the bland, and the vapid grossly outnumbers art says something, however, and that needs to be taken into account.  Movies are entertainment. And there's nothing wrong with that.

Which takes us on to sports.  Quite frankly, there is art in sports and while Katie Nolan is joking, anyone who has truly watched sports has seen athletic art in motion.  A person has to be pretty dead to art if they find no art in Pele's soccer playing of old, or Sugar Ray Robinson's boxing, or Jim Brown's football field performance.  Seriously, there's more art in Jim Brown on the field in the 1950s than there is in the entire series of Friends.  But we have no delusions that sports are entertainment.

And entertainment is for leisure.

Josef Peiper, the German philosopher, claimed that leisure was the basis of culture, and there's good reason to believe him correct.  In this context, leisure isn't doing nothing, it's doing something, but what it isn't doing isn't is simply toiling.  If we think about it, cultures that have appreciated arts had the leisure to produce and enjoy them.  And you wont' find one of those culture that didn't also have sports.   Sports have been with us in every society that produced anything cultural and are, frankly, part and parcel of culture.

This doesn't mean that a person has to appreciate or participate in some fashion in every sport.  But it does mean that those people who take shots at sports in their entirety based on their concept of worthwhile cultural endeavors are taking shots at themselves.  People this year who go to see a film like Manchester By The Sea and who believe that its a fine work of art ought to realize that the same culture that produced it produced NASCAR.  Now, I'm not a NASCAR fan, but I also am not so naive to believe that NASCAR fans ought to be dragooned into a viewing of Manchester By The Sea.  Nor am I so naive to believe that there aren't a lot of NASCAR fans who will see Manchester By The Sea as well.

All  of this is perhaps all the more relevant in the era in which we find ourselves.  It wasn't always the case that a wide gulf between "art" and everything else was believed to exist, although that sort of snobbery has been around for a long time.  While I haven't studied it and therefore can't claim expertise on it, a lot of the current snobbish attitude of the type expressed by Streep seems to have had its origins, potentially, in the teens and twenties when the hardcore left was on the rise and its never left since.  One of the real hallmarks of radical leftism is that it had sort of a perverse Puritanical view of a lot of things in its early days, and really debased views on other things.  Suffice it to say the sort of eggheady psuedointelletuals who sat around and pondered Marx in the 1920s wasn't exactly in your sporting set.

In contrast, there was a time not all that long before that, and indeed concurrent with that, that the highly educated, and those with refined educations at that, regarded the appreciation of sports as an aspect of culture.  University students risked their lives playing football in an era when only a small percentage of Americans attended university and those who did were all destined for high paying employment as a rule.  The well to do often participated in the equine sports. Hunting had a broad popularity across classes.  The authors of the agrarian defense I'll Take My Stand based part of their argument on a Southern culture which emphasized leisure and field sports (conveniently ignoring, I'd note, that Southern Blacks weren't participating in that much).

Perhaps this is making much out of Streep's ill advised snobbish comment, but maybe not.  One of the things that sociologist have worried about in regards to modern life is the decline in leisure. This can be argued in more than one way on whether this observation is real or not.  But irrespective of that in the general population, it seems quite true in the Middle Class.  Returning to politics, I suppose, part of this last election was a signal on the part of that class that they've basically had enough of everything and want a not all that long ago past back, if they can.  Being a snot about what those people like is not only arrogant, but incredibly naive.

Friday Farming: Blog Mirror: Food For Thought By Returning To Farming's Roots, He Found His American Dream

Food For Thought

By Returning To Farming's Roots, He Found His American Dream

The USS Milwaukee wrecked.

Back on December 14, 2016, we ran this item about an event that occurred on December 14, 1916:
Lex Anteinternet: The Submarine H3 runs aground, leading to the ulti...: The U.S. submarine the H3, operating off of Eureka California with the H1 and H2, and their tender the USS Cheyenne, went off course in heav...
On this date in 1917 the USS Milwaukee, a cruiser, was beached and wrecked during the efforts to refloat the H3.She'd ultimately break up and was a loss.

The wrecked USS Milwaukee.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Holding back the breeze?

King Canute proving that he couldn't hold back the tide.

Last week I had a couple of posts on coal and its prospects.

One of them related that the Tribune was reporting that coal was up to 75% of its pre bust production, an impressive recovery.  As that article noted this level of production might be market reasonable, rather than market overheated, and reflect the actual level of ongoing demand for the time being. That's really good news for coal.

The other article discussed the long history of coal's decline as an energy source.  The two articles aren't really inconsistent with each other and reflect, I suspect, the truth of coal's situation.  Long term, it's been in decline for market share for over a century.  Short term, it captures new markets from time to time and its still around right now, and will be for a long time.

Well, not if a handful of Wyoming's legislators have their say.

It's really unlikely to pass but some of our state's lawmakers want to pass a bill that requires power generators to stop supplying power via wind energy and which will financially penalize them if they do.  The idea is that this forces the power companies to stick to hydroelectric and coal in Wyoming.

This is really silly.

It may also be unconstitutional as an act in restraint of legitimate legislative power in restraint of trade, including trade across state lines, and "special legislation" favoring one type of company over another.

But beyond that, it's just flat out silly.  

Wyoming is such a small domestic electric market that, at best, all this would do is harm domestic industry, such as wind farms and power companies with wind generators, while benefiting nobody.  How much electricity do these fellows think we consume?  Power generation is on a big grid, gentlemen, and those power plants are generating power for people in California, not you, really.

And Wyomingites benefit from the wind generation industry, just like they do the coal industry.  Jobs constructing and maintaining wind farms, etc., all play their part in our employment picture.

It's odd how in Wyoming everyone routinely claims that we're radically in favor of the free market. . . right up until it impacts our pocket books and then some of us aren't so keen on it anymore.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, January 11, 1917

This illustration by Norman Rockwell has appeared here before, but we're running it today on the anniversary of its publication.  It's called "Fact and Fiction".

The birth of the "pickup"

Courtesy of the 100 Years Ago Today Subreddit and the 365 Days of Motoring website we learn that today was the day that Ford introduced the TT, that is, its Model T based pickup truck.  Or rather, truck, they weren't all boxed trucks, but trucks in general.

It wasn't simply a Model T conversion. The chassis was heavier than that of the Model T, reflecting its intended use.

Apparently it was originally just a chassis, and the body was up to the owners.  According to 365 Days of Motoring, Ford offered the complete package, body and all, starting in 1924.  The grand total for production for 1917 was three.  Yes, only three, but the following year over 40,000 would be built and numbers were always higher than throughout its ten year production run.

Pickups have always been a big deal in the American West. Somehow, however, they've come to be a huge deal in the American automotive market in general and make up a big percentage of vehicles sold each year.

Swept away in the Amazon's flood?

This is posted in the window of a small local business.

I wonder if its correct?

On a related note, recently some group claimed that the appeal of the Affordable Health Care Act will cost Wyoming 4,000 jobs. That's nearly impossible to believe.  When the AHCA was passed it didn't seem to add 4,000 jobs.   I note this in not taking a position on the AHCA, but merely to note that statistics aren't always on the mark on such things and reality is more complicated that simple, or even complicated, statistics would often maintain.

Which takes me back to the Amazon thing.  No doubt, I think, on line retailing does take away from local retailing, especially on some sorts of things.  On the other hand, particularly in the West and rural areas, catalogs used to fill a lot of the same role, in slow motion.  A person could order darned near anything from Sears including, starting in 1916, entire houses. Even really big houses.

Of course, ordering a house, I guess, from Sears is one thing.  But now a person can order darned near anything over the net and have it come to their mailbox, and that definitely is new.  Indeed, not only can you do that, but it's becoming so that you have to do that.  I wrote here the other day about shoelaces, for example, and even though I've tried once again to find some locally, I just can't find them.

Probably if you are in retail you'll notice this the most and appreciate the impact of it the most.  Contractors don't have to contend with Sears mail order homes anymore (which were quite nice, by the way) but book sellers and the like do have to content with Amazon. And that no doubt does have a negative impact on them, and on us all as well. Quantifying it however, isn't easy.

Massive explosion in Lyndhurst, New Jersey

On this day in 1917 a massive explosion occurred at a recently constructed ammunition plant which was providing ammunition under contract to Canada.  Sabotage was suspected at the time but a commission found in 1931 that there was no evidence to support that claim.

The disaster was bad enough but would have been worse but for the heroic act of Theresa Louise "Tessie" McNamara in staying at her post as a switchboard operator and providing notice to each link on the circuit that a fire had broken out and people needed to evacuate.  She's credited with saving up to 1,400 lives.

The belief at the time that the explosion was caused by German sabotage contributed to growing American support for entering the war in Europe.  Ironically, the Black Tom explosion of that past July had been caused by German saboteurs but that was not known at the time. So the Germans were blamed in the minds of some for an explosion they had not caused, but were not blamed for one which they had.

The Zimmerman Note sent

A encoded telegram was sent from the Foreign Secretary of the German Empire Arthur Zimmermann to the German ambassador to Mexico, Heinrich von Eckardt reading as follows..
We intend to begin on the first of February unrestricted submarine warfare. We shall endeavor in spite of this to keep the United States of America neutral. In the event of this not succeeding, we make Mexico a proposal of alliance on the following basis: make war together, make peace together, generous financial support and an understanding on our part that Mexico is to reconquer the lost territory in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. The settlement in detail is left to you. You will inform the President of the above most secretly as soon as the outbreak of war with the United States of America is certain and add the suggestion that he should, on his own initiative, invite Japan to immediate adherence and at the same time mediate between Japan and ourselves. Please call the President's attention to the fact that the ruthless employment of our submarines now offers the prospect of compelling England in a few months to make peace.

The text proposed to invite Mexico into World War One as a Germany ally with the enticement that it was to receive those territories lost during the Mexican War.  Rather obviously Germany lacked a concrete understanding as to the degree of Mexican military strength, but as absurd as it sounds, in 1915 some vague Mexican revolutionary forces actually considered, and indeed attempted, to sponsor an uprising in that territory, albeit to little effect.  And Carranza's government did study the proposal, finding it unrealistic.

The note was decoded by the British in subsequent days, as will be seen, with negative consequences for Germany

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A monumental day in the petroleum industry. January 10, 1901

It was on this day in 1901 that a well, after many persistent efforts by its backers, struck oil at Spindletop Dome near Beaumont Texas.

Lucas Gusher.

The Lucas Gusher, as it was known, blew petroleum oil 150 feet in the air at a loss of 100,000 bbls per day for nine days before it was brought under control. It was the first producing well on the Gulf Coast and gave rise to Texas' oil industry and, for that part, to much of the oil industry in the United States.  The population of nearby Beaumont went from 10,000 to 50,000 people rapidly and the culture and industry of Texas was forever impacted.

Port Arthur, Texas, south of Beaumont.

Liz Cheney, Congresswoman from Wyoming?

 The small size of the "official portrait" is the one easily downloadable, and in the public domain, but it reflects the views of a lot of Wyoming natives about "our" Congresswoman, born in Wisconsin, raised as a child in Casper and Washington, graduating from high school in Virginia and rediscovering Wyoming when she correctly assessed that she might be able to use her father's memory to launch a political career here.

Recently elected Congresswoman Liz Cheney, of Virginia but a Wyomingite by way of the thin connection of Jackson Hole, has, in the words of the Tribune "irked" sportsmen by her vote to make the transfer of public lands budget neutral.

"Outraged" was the world used in the article itself.

I'm not outraged as I never expected her to act like she was from here. She's from the State of Money and Power.  Not Wyoming.  I truly wonder to what extent, on an issue like this, she's even bothered to inform herself.  Of course, in a theoretical defense of her actions, votes on these sorts of resolutions are extraordinarily anti democratic and basically make a joke out of democratic pretenses as they lump so many things together that nobody really knows what they are voting for, quite often.  The newly nominated Secretary of the Interior, who is from Montana and who is opposed to such transfers, also voted for this and is catching a lot of flack.

Unlike that fellow, however Cheney's spokesman had come out with the bottle of pablum to feed to the voters about how this assures that such lands will be administered by those in Wyoming and Wyoming industry. No, they won't. They'll assure that they are sold to the highest bidder and that's not going to be anyone we know. They won't even live here.

Well, while she likely thought that everyone holds the same views of her circle, she's likely learning otherwise now. She probably wants to hang on to her seat at least until she can secure an appointment to something else, which I'd bet dollars to donuts is her goal.  Wyomingites who do not wish to transfer public lands into the hands of the out of state wealthy should get in touch with her and let her know how they feel.  The next higher office or appointment is always on the minds of politicians, but keeping their current seat is usually the first thing on their minds.

William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody passes on

William F. Cody, a figure truly "fabled in song and story", died on this day in 1917 in Denver, Colorado.

 Cody in 1903.

Cody was born in 1846 in Iowa but spent his early years in Toronto, Ontario, before his family returned to US, settling in Kansas.  His father died when he was eleven and he went to work as a mounted messenger.   He jointed the Pony Express at age 14.  And he served as a teenage civilian scout to the U.S. Army during the Mormon War.  He served in the Union Army during the Civil War and then as a scout for the Army thereafter, winning the Medal of Honor in 1872.

 William F. Cody as a Union soldier.

His award of the Medal of Honor was at a time at which it was the nation's only military medal and the criteria were less severe than they later became.  His was one of hundreds stricken under a military review that was tightening up the requirements in 1917, although mercifully that came the month after his death.  The medal, however, was restored in his case, in 1989.  The restoration included four other civilian scouts.  Interestingly, although Cody was a showman, he never made a big deal of having received the medal.

 Cody as an Army scout.  His appearance here is typical for the era, including some shirt embellishments that were quite common, but not what we'd normally associate with the rugged frontier today.

After serving as s civilian scout Cody became a buffalo hunter, as is well known.  He hunted under a contract with the Kansas Pacific Railway in order to supply meat to railroad construction crews.

Cody in 1880.  Cody appears to be armed with a sporting version of the trapdoor Springfield military rifle in this photograph.

In 1883 he founded is Wild West Show, which resulted in the spread and preservation of his name, although he had appeared on stage as early as 1872.  His show toured the globe.

In 1895 he was instrumental in founding the town in Park County, Wyoming, that bears his name.  He entered ranching in the area at the same time.  He also founded the Erma Hotel.

He was for forty years to Louisa Frederici, although in the early 20th Century Cody sued her for divorce. Divorce was not automatic in those days and he lost the suit and, in fact, the couple later reconciled.  The couple had four children but Cody would outlive three of them and Louisa outlived all of them.  He was baptized as a Catholic the day prior to his death.  His funeral was held in Denver and buried at Lookout Mountain near Golden Colorado that summer.  Efforts by partisans in Wyoming to have him relocated to Cody lead to the grave site being reinforced to prevent that from occurring involuntarily.