Friday, May 31, 2013

CPSC - Fred Meyer Recalls “Chicken Dance” Easter Chicks Due to Hearing Damage Hazard

CPSC - Fred Meyer Recalls “Chicken Dance” Easter Chicks Due to Hearing Damage Hazard

Okay, this isn't even vaguely related to the main topic of this blog, but nonetheless, I can't help but note that some new stories are  almost too weird to be true, such as this one.

Wardewll Field. Casper's second airport.


Photograph courtesy of Wyoming State Archives.

Neat photograph of the big hanger at Wardwell Field, Casper's second airport (many believe it was the first, but a field in what is now Evansville was actually the first).  Today, the hanger is used by a boat vendor, and the runways are streets for Bar Nunn.

Interesting to see it actually in use, with some fairly substantial aircraft.  This airfield continued to serve Casper until either the late 1940s or the early 1950s, at which time the government granted the airfield built during World War Two to the county, which is now the Natrona County International Airport.  The area depicted above still has an airfield in the vicinity, however, that being Hartford Field, which is a small private airfield just across the  highway.

Today In Wyoming's History: President Theodore Roosevelt's 1903 Horseback Travel Route Field Trip | WyoHistory.org

Today In Wyoming's History: President Theodore Roosevelt's 1903 Horseback Travel Route Field Trip | WyoHistory.org

This route would actually be fairly doable today.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Terrorism. Always with us.


September 16, 1920. Wall Street.  A horse drawn wagon laden with explosives blew up blew up at noon, killing 38 and injuring 143. Believed to be the work of Italian anarchists, it has never been officially solved.  It was the biggest such attack in the country's history. But even at that, it was only ten years following another such act.

Cartoon depicting bombers and organized labor in teh "flareback" of the Los Angeles Times bombing.

That act was the 1910 bombing of the Los Angeles Times by members of an iron workers union.  They were caught and convicted.  The bombs were timed to go off when nobody would have been in the building, but a faulty primer and a late addition of the paper sent the bomb off early, killing 21 and wounding 100.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Trailing Posts and Epilogs

Some may note that there are some posts that seem to revive and get re-posted from time to time. Why is that?


Well, for the most part, they fit into two categories, trailing post and posts with epilogs.


Trailing posts are posts that were designed to be updated as additional information comes in. For example, there's the They Had Been Lawyers post.  That tread will be updated as additional people are discovered to belong in the list.  Indeed, that's why it was updated just today.  The Working With Animals post is also in this category, and it's been re-posted several times as a result.


Working With Animals also has an epilog, meaning nothing more than that there was something topical added to it after it was posted.  Originally, I just did new posts when that occured, but this seemed a better route, as the old content often was just as relevant and added to what otherwise would have been the epilog.  Sometimes, the epilog wasn't noteworthy enough to justify a new posts, but did otherwise add to the original post.  The Novelty of the Normal is another example of this.  So is the Peculiarized Violence thread, and quite a few others.


I will not, of course, being doing this to every thread, so people do not need to fear that.  Even at that, however, a few old posts just get re-posted for one reason or another.  I know that this isn't the blog norm, but oh well.  Author's prerogative.


As I update entries, from here on out, I will post a date on the updated item, so that anyone following the posts doesn't have to re-read the entire thing, which I am sure would preclude them from doing it.

The Novelty of the Normal, and the Banalty of the Unusual... a writing dilemma.

The act of defending any of the cardinal virtues has today all the exhilaration of a vice.
G. K. Chesterton.
One of the problems anyone trying to write a historical novel is faced with is that not only do you have to get the material details of time correct as well as the spirit of the age, but also you have to somehow handle the modern sensibilities of the reading audience.  Or do you? It's actually quite a problem, although many people, not appreciating how their own views are part of the context of a time, may not grasp that.  It's particularly a problem for a writer of the current era.

I'll get into more detail on the particular dilemma addressed here in a second, but I'd note, for example, a couple of novels that attempt to do this, and which are very well known, but in my view are not equal in their handling of this problem.  Both the novels The Killer Angels and True Grit are historical novels, set in distinct historical novels, and both were hugely successful.  But, frankly, as good as The Killer Angels is, in terms of viewpoints of the characters, set forth as internal thoughts, it just doesn't quite get there.  That is, it really doesn't have the mindset of characters of that period, at least uniformly, set forth all that well.  It's sort of a mix of modern and mid 19th Century views, which perhaps is not surprising given the enormity of the attempted task.  True Grit, on the other hand, succeeds in it brilliantly.  Written as a fictional memoir of a middle aged woman looking back on the great adventure of her teenage years, the book achieves this in part by simply assuming that the reader knows certain things that the reader frankly is not likely too. References to local events are one such thing, but others are occasional theological references from the narrators strictly Presbyterian view.  Chances are most modern Presbyterians wouldn't know what she's referring to, unless they looked it up, let alone non Presbyterians.  But it adds a lot of credence to the book.

Indeed, True Grit is so remarkable in this context that it's difficult to appreciate how well this is done, without reading the boo, although a person can get a bit of the flavor of it from the most recent, Coen Brothers, version of the movie. The author, Charles Portis, makes references to three different Christian denominations in the book, referencing the Methodists and the Catholic church in addition to the Presbyterian.  Examples of Presbyterian theology are so specific that Portis  is obviously familiar with it, and his characters subtle disapproval of Methodism likewise shows not only the character of the fictional narrator, but a bit of the spirit of the times and location.  That the narrator bothers to note the religious affiliations of other characters is likewise a skillful reflection of the times and characters.  Such elements are so integral to character that they are picked up a bit in both films, although only very briefly and in a very muted fashion in the first one. It's reinserted true to the book in the Coen Brothers film to such an extent that some commentators have noted the religiosity of the movie and even that it has a subtle Christian tone; something that is all the more remarkable as the Coen brothers are Jewish in faith.  It speaks a lot for their "ear" for the times and the characters they are portraying in their films.

Another novel that does this very well is Little Big Man.  Remembered now principally for the movie, the book is much better and a type of masterpiece.  One of the amazing things it achieves is to be able to present the late 19th Century Plains Indian World through their eyes, something that has rarely been done. The book closest to it is the audio biography of George Bent, and it's notable that the novel came so close to the same spirit of observation set forth in that biography, but with a lot more topics to address.
I did try to found a little heresy of my own; and when I had put the last touches to it, I discovered that it was orthodoxy.”
― G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy 
More specifically, however a really big problem for the current author is that in the past 20 years the view points of popular media have shifted so dramatically on matters of what were common morality that addressing them in a historical novel is now a problem of epic proportions.  When this really started is hard to say, but judging by television, probably sometime in the 1980s.  If a person judge by films, probably a bit earlier.  By books, perhaps a bit later. But the problem is now well developed.

What this problem is, quite simply, is that standards of earlier eras, which are often retained standards for large segments of the current population, are not "quaint" or antiquated, for the most part.  They're neither so in context, or in reality.  And, in any one era, what seems to be a "modern" view, often will be regarded as  a quaint novel oddity of a later era.

For example, and taking the last item first, Prohibition was once regarded as a "progressive" movement.  To its founders, living in the alcohol soaked 19th Century, the movement was part of the same social progressiveness that advanced emancipation of the American slaves and the franchise for women. We, today, tend to view Abolitionist, Prohibitionist, and Suffragettes as three distinct groups, but they weren't.  Most early Suffragettes had been Abolitionist. And may Prohibitionist were Suffragettes.  We seek the movement to ban alcohol as some sort of weird fantastical delusional movement, but at the time, many political "liberals" saw the Prohibition movement as part and parcel of the same movement that sought to secure the right to vote for women, and to advance such other social causes as early Workers Compensation, child labor laws, hour of work laws, and the like.  Indeed, these movements were often much more related than we can conceive of today; one of the thoughts behind prohibition, for example, is that it stood a good chance of reducing violence against women, as men were drinking so much all day long.

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-wEoAbQAxw48/UHeCOfFAcQI/AAAAAAAAAWY/XTkUtTxMSpc/s1600/dry.jpg
A view that looks sappy now, but common then.  A husband dries out, once the town goes "dry", and ceases to be a problem to his wife.

Looked at properly, therefore, a movement like Prohibition isn't really as silly as it now seems.  People like to believe that it was advanced by large, overweight, Victorian bitties, but in reality, it was advanced first by radical social reformers who were in favor of radical social equality and who saw drying up the supply of alcohol as part of that.

Suffragette and pro prohibition demonstrator, Rose Sanderman (her name is misspelled on the photo).

While on this topic, ie., Prohibition, the complexity of these matters is well demonstrated by its actual, as opposed to imagined, history.  First of all, it had support in surprising places.  Prohibition was pushed over the top, in terms of Congress, by Wyoming Senator and Civil War Medal of Honor Winner Francis E. Warren. Warren wasn't a naive sentimentalist.  He'd been in Congress for eons and had seen war up front and close.  He was, however, a shrewd politician.  If Warren was backing it, it wasn't a naive act at the time.  And even if it meant that Kemmerer Wyoming, ironically located in a region of the state with a high percentage of Mormons, became the epicenter for regional bootlegging, it also meant that Warren felt, probably correctly, that he had the support of most Wyomingites on this issue.

 http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-qwzBJye6aM4/Tr0uVvPRg0I/AAAAAAAAACo/Lm9AS7zEtNE/s1600/Warren.jpg
Long serving Senator from Wyoming, Francis E. Warren.
Secondly, Prohibition, in actual medical health terms, was a actually a stunning success.  I'm not a teetotaler myself, but in actuality, Prohibition did pretty much what its backers claimed it would.  It dried up a huge problem and had demonstrable health benefits for the nation.  The popular myth is that the whole country was awash in bathtub gin, but it really was not.  In actuality, the amount of drinking, illegal or otherwise (Prohibition did not actually dry up all legal sources of booze) plummeted and the amount of alcoholism in the country not only greatly decreased, it never returned to pre Prohibition levels.  In fact, Prohibition was so effective in reducing the consumption of certain types of hard alcohol that their popularity has never returned.  

The point here is that a movement that seems "quaint" to us, might not only have been far from naive, but moreover it may have addressed a genuine problem that was present in society, or which may even now remain present.  Prohibition actually did take on the general widespread acceptance of public drunkenness and end it.  The drinking culture that emerged post Prohibition was not the same one that existed before it.  And the people who were backing it weren't doing it in a vacuum, but chances are high that that they were also backing the franchise for women and Indians, the early predecessors of Social Security, and the like.

Even the effort to repeal Prohibition isn't well understood.   The effort came about, sort of oddly, as politically liberal upper class women started to oppose it, which essentially caused them to be allied to demographic groups in the country who had never supported it.  Never popular amongst those of close Irish, Italian, German or Polish descent, these groups found common cause with an upper class movement. This made the effort to repeal Prohibition both conservative, ethic, and liberal, all at the same time.  And those opposing the repeal did so on sincere moral, and health, positions.  Just opposing Prohibition's repeal didn't make a person some sort of Victorian.  It might just make a person a physician.  Oddly enough, just as the effort to repeal it made for strange bedfellows, the effort to keep it did too, as even a group like the Klu Klux Klan came in to oppose repeal, probably mostly because ethnic Catholics supported repeal.  

This, it should be noted, is yet another aspect of these sort of topics.  Just because a view changes doesn't mean a lot of people don't continue to hold it.  Prohibition, for example, is no longer the law of the land, but a lot of people do not drink, and some of those people don't drink for the very reasons that caused people to back Prohibition.

 Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.
G.K. Chesterton
Okay, well so much for Prohibition, but what does that have to do with anything modern or current?  Well, perhaps quite a bit.

Anyone who is at least 45 years old or so has seen a massive public shift about certain types of conduct, particularly in regards to relationships between men and women, but even in regards to all sorts of deeply held beliefs.  This is most evident in terms of television, which has undoubtedly sought, for mercenary reasons, to push the envelope on such things as it gets people to watch.  The impact of such things is subtle, and perhaps not very permanent, but it is real.  Even such a popular television show as Friends displayed conduct which, even in the early 1970s, would have been regarded as deeply immoral.  Indeed, the "norm" portrayed on Friends and many other such shows would have been regarded as abnormal in many earlier eras, or at least scandalous.

As this isn't an editorial on shifting moral standards, I won't get into that too much further, but I would note that it seems that television has taken this to a new level in recent years as the number of channels has expanded greatly.  Perhaps the most prevalent examples of this are found on TLC, which seems to be dedicated in recent years to promoting the odd and portraying the normal as odd.  This, again, presents a problem for the historical novelist.

For example, a popular TLC show follows The Duggers.  The Duggers are a family that lives somewhere in the American South and which has a large number of children, something like 19 or so.  They are also, as the show makes fairly plain, members of a Protestant evangelical church.  All this, apparently, entitled them to a television show, but why?

Nineteen children is a lot of children by any measure, but it isn't really as freakish as television would like to suggest. Large families have been the norm for most of civilized history.  At least some of my relatively recent ancestors came from families where a married couple had up to 12 children.  Twelve isn't 19, of course, but you can see it from there.  There's something more than a little odd about a society finding a married couple having children to be so novel that it merits a television show.  Likewise, there's something odd about a television show finding that the same couple holds a deeply held religious set of beliefs to be novel.  When belief become novel, that's a bit distressing.  Perhaps its not as distressing, however, as basic biological facts being regarded as massively odd, which is essentially the point of the show.  

So then, what does a novelist do with this?  Up until extremely recently, having a lot of children in a married household wouldn't be worth noting.  Maybe having only one child in a married household would be.  And the fact that if there were two in the household that they would be married would be an assumption, not the opposite.  Indeed, in many localities, including Wyoming, cohabitation was illegal for most of the 20th Century, and for good reason as the state didn't want to bear the costs of children that might result from an unmarried union, and feared for what the mother of a child abandoned by the father, and potentially by her own family, would have to do in order to get by.  Again, the law wasn't naive, it served a legitimate purpose.

In a modern novel, however, such as in any one of McMurtry's set in Texas or Mexico of the 19th Century, the opposite would be portrayed as true.  I don't mean to suggest that everyone in the 19th and early 20th Century was a saint, that'd be far from true.  But in order to make the novels apparently interesting to certain readers, it's been necessary, in his judgment, to introduce what must have seemed to be a certain unseemly element at the time, but which now, because of shifting standards may not.  In his novel Horseman, Pass By, for example (his best novel in my view) he does not do this, but does portray the typical reactions to a young man to young women, in a rural setting, pretty accurately, even by today's standards, and also portrays the relationship between two middle aged single people pretty accurately as well.  By the later stages of the Lonesome Dove series, however, he's had to resort to the semi bizarre.

Getting back to the television example, in the last couple of years TLC has treated viewers to a polygamist family that they follow around, which seems rather extreme (particularly because the male figure in the family is constantly grinning in a rather weird way and seems to be hyperactive in a distressing fashion).  Sister Wives follows this family around presenting them as a model of family standards, in stark contrast to the polygamist groups that have otherwise been in the news, making a subtle argument that polygamy is normal than normal, or perhaps even the epitome of conservative standards. Polygamy having lost its luster, perhaps, this year they're following some young Amish and Mennoite men and women around as they abandon their faith in a show telling titled Breaking Amish.


Its this last item that inspired this post in the first place.  I've never met an Amishman, that I know of, although I've very occasionally met Mennonites or Hutterites.  Suffice it to say, I'm not in either of those groups, but I know a little about them.  I'm not going to dwell on their religious beliefs, and TLC doesn't even scratch the surface on them, but they're complicated and have utterly nothing to do with being "old fashioned" or "quaint". They don't live in the past, as TLC seems to think.  Indeed, in the real world they're afflicted with some particularly modern problems, some of which are unique to farmers, and some of which are unique to groups which are very closely related, biologically.

Perhaps, in some ways, the most telling aspect of the outlook of the show's makers is the frequent insertion of quotes from the Bible in a fashion that would seemingly demonstrate that the person inserting them not only does not understand the text in terms of Amish or Mennonite beliefs, but probably doesn't understand them in relation to Christianity as a whole.  The message therefore becomes, in a way, that not only are people who isolate themselves in a cloistered community odd and missing out, but that anyone who doesn't embrace modern secularism does as well.  It's interesting to compare this to the same use of quotes from the bible in the Coen version of the film True Grit.  That film starts off with a quote from proverbs, that being "The wicked flee when no man pursueth", setting the tone for the start of the film.  The use of the quote, not one that is one that commonly comes to many person's minds, is brilliant in effect and impact.  TLC, however, stretches or misconstrues the quotes it wants to make, perhaps because the underlying tone of the series is to criticize the religions its referencing through the quotes.

 Catholic Church, New Mexico

At any rate, there's something basically disgusting about following around a collection of very young people, who are likely not very representative of their demographic, in a manner that essentially suggests that these people need to come out of their isolated group so they can "make their own decisions", while exposing them to some conduct, or having them engage in some conduct, that's either questionable or even reprehensible.   Perhaps the only benefit of this effort, and an accidental one at that, is that it shows American urbanites to perhaps been just as freakish or naive as the show obviously wishes to portray the Amish as being.  Indeed, this is so much the case that to at least some degree the show unintentionally makes the Amish and Mennonite isolationist practices look pretty good in comparison to the cheap materialism that those being "broken" are exposed to in the show.  Again, this isn't to comment on Mennonite or Amish beliefs, about which I know only a little (but more, I suspect, than the producers of the show do) but rather to point out that popular entertainment has reached a point where it doesn't grasp any standard, not just some standards.

 Catholic Church, Trampas New Mexico

Finally, taking one further example, albeit this one a prime time example from a major network, one of the various networks has a television show entitled Parenthood.  I'm sure the show conceives of itself as showing the trials and tribulations of modern parents, but what it really is best defined as would be as a species of prime time soap opera. As such, it gives a stunning example of the topics under discussion here.

In the most recent episode of Parenthood, amongst the various other plots that are centered around the fictional extended Braverman family, we find a young woman engaging in sex with a new boyfriend on their second or third date, to be woken up early in the morning by her mother who is giddy to find out about this. That same mother is now living with one of the high school teachers of her high school aged son, who (the son that is) uses the vehicle of his aunt's cancer to seduce his former sympathetic girlfriend, also high school aged, who had been seeing a college aged young man.  In terms of the evolution of thought or standards, almost every single thing depicted in this show would have been regarded as far from normal even relatively recently.  For much of the 20th Century, in fact, a good deal of it would have been regarded as illegal.  Both the illegal and legal aspects of it (and it all would have been illegal a century ago) would have been regarded as scandalous behavior.  Now, it's depicted as maudlin or even sympathetic, and all as normal, a massive departure from common views of even relatively recently, and probably still a departure for many now.

But what's a writer to do with this?  If a person takes McMurtry's approach, the writer would get out ahead of it and wallow in it.  But that seems like a misrepresentative approach.  If a person takes the approach taken in True Grit or Little Big Man, particularly True Grit, they'd flat out present the views that where held as views.  That seems the better approach.  And perhaps that also serves the purpose of not only been less exploitative, but more exploratory in some meaningful fashion.

On one final note on this, as more of a postscript as opposed to anything else, I can't help but note that after I started writing this the news about Gen. Petraeus broke. At first blush, the reaction to the news of his affair, and his resignation due to it, might seem to counter what's noted here. But, in reality, it does not seem to.  It is true that the reaction shows that there remains at least a segment of society which publicly adheres to the older standards and which continues to recognize the concept of shame. But what is telling about this is that it only seems to apply to those in the highest office.  It's odd, and indeed its a bit of a reversal of the historic norm.  Conduct which nobody would have publicly acknowledged two or three decades ago is now very openly engaged in now, except in high office.  Perhaps ironically, in high office conduct which was not unknown in prior decades is now exposed to huge scandalous effect, when earlier it was simply ignored.  Prior to this scandal, for example, President Clinton nearly lost his office due to his sordid affair with Monica Lewinsky.  But nobody seems to have been too concerned with JFK's conduct with Mimi Alford, assuming that Alford's recent revelations are true.  Likewise, if the rumored conduct about FDR are correct, everyone seems to have turned a blind eye to it.  I'm not saying that these alleged affairs should, or should not have, been exposed, if they were real, but it's interesting that we've gone from an era when affairs were regarded as wholly illegitimate, and kept secret for the most part, even though they were not infrequent, to an era when they're routine amongst average people, relatively rare amongst those in power, and career enders in high office, but not private office, if discovered.  Again, not an easy set of standard evolutions which are easy for a modern writer to take into account.

___________________________________________________________________________________
Epilog:

Since I first published this entry in November, there's been a couple of times during the past year when something vaguely connected to it popped up.  Indeed, I did an entry that was fairly connected with it entitled "Fame."  

What causes me to republish it, and add the epilog, however is that in the past couple of weeks we've been treated to Amanda Bynes, former child actress, basically melting down, or  perhaps pretending to melt down, in public, with the predictable paparazzi like following of that, while at the same time it's been announced that Gen. Bryan T. Roberts, commanding general of the Army's Ft. Jackson, is being charged with adultery by the Army.

Now, I don't mean to excuse Gen. Roberts, but it is again interesting to note that in the case of Army officers and politicians, people expect the old moral standards to apply, but in regards to everyone else, they seemingly do not.  It's odd.

President Theodore Roosevelt's 1903 Visit to Wyoming | WyoHistory.org

President Theodore Roosevelt's 1903 Visit to Wyoming | WyoHistory.org

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Forgetting why things were built that way.

Recently, a series of events has reminded me of how much people have forgotten why certain things were built a certain way, to our occasional detriment.

One of these events happened when I was at Sunday Mass.  A power substation blew out that morning and took power down to at least half the town, including my house, and the Church. When I entered the Church, built in the classic style, the reason for the big stained glass windows was immediately apparent.  The interior was fairly well lighted via the windows alone.

Now this particular church was built in the teens or early twenties; well before audio systems.  At some point within the last 30 to 40 years, an audio system has been put in.  Somebody, used to the audio system, must have thought that we'd be unable to hear the Mass as everyone was seated as close to the front of the Church as possible, given a pretty compact feeling to the the pews.

That was completely unnecessary.  In actuality, traditionally built churches require no audio system at all.

 St. Luke's Church, Forest Hills, New York, circa 1940s.  This church has electric lights, clearly, but it wouldn't be hard to see inside without them. And it wouldn't have had a PA system at the time this photograph was taken.

The large vaulted interiors of traditional churches are more than ample to naturally amplify a person's voice, at least if they are speaking in a manner which projects their voice, which not all people do, of course. But for those who know how to do that, and it's an easy thing for at least most men to do, the mere design of a church is all the amplification enhancement that they'll require.  Indeed, the first speaker of the morning, prior to the audio coming back on, was plenty loud enough simply through his own voice.  We've just forgotten that churches were designed that way for a reason.

So were courtrooms.

The only people who really need to hear in a courtroom are the lawyers, the witnesses, the judge and the jury.  And just about any courtroom fulfills that requirement just as is.  Be that as it may, in recent years courthouses have been almost completely retrofitted to give everyone a microphone.  It isn't necessary, and I don't like it.  My voice is plenty loud enough without amplification, and I often find myself brushing the microphone aside or walking away from it, as I don't need it, and it's just an irritating distraction. But nobody else needs it either.  In those instances in which a person is extremely soft spoken, the microphone actually doesn't help much anyhow, so they aren't really achieving anything.   None the less, all the new courthouses have audio (and visual) systems and by this point in time, probably nearly all the old ones do as well.

 This is the photograph we use as a flag on this site.  It depicts the original Federal Courthouse in Cheyenne, now no longer standing.  Note the extremely high ceiling.  This room was built for natural audio, and natural cooling as well.

Just as older churches and courthouses have been retrofitted with audio systems, older office buildings have been retrofitted with new windows and air conditioning systems.  The two don't always work well, or even work together.

I work most days in a century old office building.  It's a nicely preserved building, but it was clearly built before any kind of air conditioning.  It was also basically framed up while in progress, which was very skillfully done, but which also meant that the windows were set by workers in a less standard way than today.  Indeed, only the front of the building really has a uniform window pattern, as the original thought was that the sides would probably not need them long, as it was anticipated other buildings would be built of a similar five story height along side of it.

None of that is a problem, but some years ago, quite a few now, the decision was made, and wisely, to put in a set of nice new windows. They look great, but they're modern office windows.  I.e., they seal up very nicely but they aren't really made to open.  Indeed, they take a key to open them, and when we first had the windows in, we never opened them up.

The problem there is that the building wasn't built with an air conditioning system in mind.  The air conditioning system was the windows.  As noted, an air conditioning system was put in, years ago, but its always fighting the basic design of the building.  At first, we would try to assist it by not opening the new windows, but over time, everyone has given up on that and we've unlocked some of them, although they don't open wide like the original, not very attractive, windows did.  The other day the air conditioning system was down and we actually had a very warm day. By the time I went home in the afternoon, I was sick from the hot, still, air.  It isn't that high heat actually bothers me, it does not.  But dead still air trapped in a building does.

I'm not suggesting that we do away with the air conditioning and put old style windows back in.  But what I do think is interesting is that it's been forgotten in most buildings of this type that when they were built, they worked in hot weather.  The east and west facing windows were opened, and the ceilings were high.  Probably a decent breeze flowed through them on such days.

Indeed, the 19th Century buildings at Ft. Laramie remain very cool even on blistering hot days.  I've been in them when the temperature was over 100F outside, and they were cool. The reason has to do with the construction.  They were built with very high ceilings. The builders knew that if the windows and doors were left open there'd actually be a nice cooling breeze flowing through them.  I'm sure today, if they were in private ownership, somebody would be trying to put in air conditioning.

 Old Bedlam, the oldest building in Wyoming, on the grounds of Ft. Laramie.

In the southwest there are very old, very stout, buildings also built with cooling in mind.  Thick adobe buildings were common in the Southwest, and quite a few still stand.  They do not get hot, in spite of very hot weather.  People just knew how to build them.

For that matter, when I was a kid here people generally did not have air conditioning.  A few people did, but it was uncommon.  For the most part, people just opened windows.  My parents house, before some additions were made to it, stayed uniformly comfortable in very hot weather.  An addition of a glassed back porch partially defeated that, but even then, comfortable areas of the house could be found.  Basically, you didn't need air conditioning.  When people did have it, at first, they tended to have a window mounted unit or a swamp cooler.

The schools here didn't even have air conditioning when I attended them.  Granted, school gets out here in May, before the weather generally gets really hot.  Some of the schools are pretty hot in the summer, based upon the limited number of times I've been in them. But I'll bet they're all built today with an air conditioning system.  When we attended them, if it was warm, they just opened the windows.

We have, at home, a swamp cooler.  Truth be known, I hate it.  It may be just me, but I always find about any setting on air conditioning in houses to be annoying, or even arctic.  I never turn ours on, but my wife, who likes air conditioning, and who is always hot, does.  I tend to be always cold, so I'm not keen on it.  It'd be different, no doubt, if we lived in a really hot climate.  And, indeed, a person needs to be careful what they complaint about.  While it was blistering hot in her recently, now the air conditioning is on line and it's absolutely freezing, in my view, in the building.  The system may be old, but it sure works.

Another thing that people have forgotten the purpose of is the strip of land, found in some areas of this town, and in many towns, that runs between the sidewalk and the city streets.  This feature is a thing of the past for the most part. The feature existed so the city could expand the streets if it needed to. It's nice for property owners, and pedestrians, as it allows people to walk away from the street.  But it's really just a convenience and that small strip of land actually belongs to the city.

This presents no sort of problem at all for the most part, but one somewhat bad thing is that in older neighborhoods people planted trees in these strips, which is again, perfectly find, unless they're obstructing vision on busy corners, which on some here they really do.  Nobody seems to recall that the strip actually belongs to the city, and perhaps the city ought to take those trees down when they obstruct vision at busy corners.  Of course, they aren't going to, and people would be upset, as the trees are nice. But, as with the other day when the traffic lights were out, some of those corners are really scary.

Traffic lights themselves are something that they city seems to have forgotten the purpose of.  In recent years the City, to save fuel, has changed the setting on traffic lights on weekends so that some of them, on very busy streets, just flash red (or yellow), rather than turn green.  Well, saving fuel isn't their purpose.  Stopping traffic on really busy intersections is. The weekend streets are really now a little scary.

Here's one that takes younger people completely off guard:


That's an ash tray.

More specifically, it's a nice stainless steel ashtray affixed to the wall by our elevator.  Nobody every uses it, but at one time people did. That's because at one time smoking was so common, and so accepted, that it could be anticipated that people would need an ash tray just standing there, waiting for the elevator.  Now, if you got on the elevator smoking, people wouldn't be happy, and smoking isn't allowed anywhere in this building. The very few smokers who work in the building have to go outside to smoke. But even when I started work here (which, granted, is a quarter century ago) people smoked in the building. Some smoked at work.  And just a little earlier than that, people smoked in waiting rooms and lobbies.  A thing like this was then needed.  Now, it's just a weird stainless steel oddity.

Speaking of weird oddities, how about this:



There's one of these on every floor of this building, in the stairwells.  What are they?  Little access panels for banks of phone connections. . .long since out of operation and disconnected, and totally inadequate for a modern phone system.  Indeed, updating a building, such has been done, is not easy, but one oddball thing it does is leave the entire old phone system there, just not connected.


Here's one that we were using up until just a couple of years ago, but which I've still heard people wonder about.  It's a mail box. That is, an official U.S. Mail drop box.  The post office doesn't let us use it anymore, however.

The reason that we can't use it is that the lobby of this building isn't open 24 hours a day, and there's a postal regulation that requires 24 hour, seven day a week, access to mail boxes.  That is, they must be open for people to drop mail in, 24 hours a day, and this one isn't.  But, at one time, every office in this building dropped its mail here, and the Postal carrier picked it up.  Pretty handy.  It's still here, of course, but it's blocked so that we cannot use it, and they don't pick the mail up from it anymore.  My guess is that people occasionally forget, and some mail will be in it forever.


From the obscure to the ultra obscure, this is a display case for cigars.  At one time some small scale merchant had his small shop here in this lobby.  It probably was that way from day one, up until maybe the 50s or 60s.  A little cigar shop that also sold newspapers and magazines.  No doubt a lot of businessmen bought their newspapers, and cigarettes and cigars, in the lobby everyday. There's still a cigar shop up the block, which also sells malts, but not newspapers.  Even when I first practiced law that cigar shop did a thriving business, in a space about the size of a closet, selling newspapers, cigars, cigarettes, candy and, oddly enough, pornography.  It was bizarre.  Now it's returned, under a new owner in a much cleaner fashion, selling only malts, cigars and, oddly enough, history magazines.

Natrona County High School — The High School Experience

Natrona County High School — The High School Experience

The high school I graduated from, in 1981, was built in 1923.

Its been added on to before, but not like this.  Hard to imagine, but the campus grounds, and that's what it will now be, is set to massively expand.  It's nice to see the old structure keeping on keeping on, but I do wish that the reconstruction wasn't set to take place over a period of years.  Anyhow, it's interesting to see what's in the anticipated works.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Crying Over Spilled Beer

A CLE announcement:

Crying Over Spilled Beer


Agren Blando Court Reporting & Video is proud to be a sponsor of “Crying Over Spilled Beer – Fermentation to Transportation Losses” conducted by RGL Forensic and PIE Consulting & Engineering.

With the ever-increasing trend of craft brewing in Colorado, we will of course see an increase in brewhouse industry related claims. In addition to learning about the beer making process and the exciting brewing trends in Colorado, the purpose of this class will be to look at the types of common associated insurance claims. 

Class Benefits: 4 Hours of CLE (Continuing Legal Education) Credits – Approved | 4 Hours CE (Continuing Education) Credits for Texas and Wyoming Adjusters – Approved
I suppose  where a trend is, litigation cannot be far behind.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Law schools should mostly ditch C grades, law prof argues - ABA Journal

Law schools should mostly ditch C grades, law prof argues - ABA Journal

In other words grad inflation has set in.

When I went to law school, a common phrase, sometimes repeated by professors, was "Cs mean degrees."  The message was that C was the average grade.  Yes, we aspired to grades higher than C, and almost all, if not all, of mine were above that, but C meant you were competent to practice law.  One professor noted that he "sent his parents to lawyers who got Cs."  Again, he meant he regarded that as a sign if competence.

Law schools are in trouble now anyhow, as the bloom is really off the rose of a law school degree as so many new graduates cannot find work and the value of the degree is being questioned.  Stuff like this won't help.  Rather, than loosen up the standards, tightening them up is in order.  Make the degree harder to get, so fewer get it, and it means more.  Unfortunately, it's unlikely that will be happening anytime in the near future.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Spats

This is a photograph of an item on display at the Wyoming Veterans Museum in Natrona County, Wyoming.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-ThwLKMUAO14/UXPgJYQZrmI/AAAAAAAAJLw/RMZUMJI56Uo/s1600/IMGP5630.JPG 

It's a really nice museum not, having improved tremendously over the years, and with a lot of  very nice displays.  This particular one displays the uniforms of a long serving National Guardsmen and Reservists, who had Federalized service during World War Two.  What surprised me here was the spats.

The reason the spats surprised me is that I didn't think the Army had ever issued spats, or that officers had worn them as an unofficial item, and as far as I can tell, I'm right.  It's natural enough that the donor included these spats in this material, as they look like they belong there. The Army, after all, did issue leggings and puttees, which are similar.  Indeed, leggings are sort of like giant spats.

Army supply  man fitting private with Leggings, World War Two.

Leggings, as a U.S. Army issue item go back at least as far as the early 20th Century.  When the Army started issuing leggings as a matter of course with certainty I"m not sure of, but it seems to have come in during the Spanish American War, which also saw a turn over in uniform designs reflecting the switch from bold colored uniforms to dull colored uniforms which was caused by the introduction of smokeless gunpowder.  Prior to smokeless gunpowder, the military problem was seeing soldiers, and allowing soldiers to see each other, in dense smoke.  Hence the bold colors of that era.  Once smokeless powder arrived, however, the problem became the opposite.  Soldiers in one unit could see each other well enough, but they were also pretty exposed to the enemy.  The British started the ball rolling with a switch to "khaki," which in that case meant any dull earth tone, and the US followed their lead right at the start of the Spanish American War.  Indeed, as the change came right at that point, most soldiers fought the war in an ad hoc uniform made up of bits and pieces of various uniforms.  The old dark blue wool shirt was nearly universal, but cotton duck stable trousers were usually worn in place of wool trousers.  The Army did start issuing leggings right at this time, but not everyone actually received them.

First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry on the San Juan Heights.  Theodore Roosevelt is wearing Army leggings.  One other trooper is wearing a non Army, perhaps leather, pair.  Many aren't wearing any at all.  These soldiers would be wearing cotton duck trousers, except for Roosevelt who is wearing khaki breeches.  The shirts are the blue wool shirt of that period.

Leggings actually saw use well prior to the Spanish American War, and both soldiers and civilians wore them at least as far back as the 18th Century. They were a standard item for both sides in the Revolutionary War, for example.  Some units wore them during the Civil War, although they were not a service wide item in either Army.  After the late 1890s, they'd carry on as an issue item in the Army, Marine Corps, and even the Navy, up through the end of World War Two, although the Army started phasing them out in 1943.  The Marines actually retained them up into the Korean War.  The Navy still issues white ones today as a dress item, on occasion.

At the same time, civilians started wearing them for field duty use as well.

United States Geological Survey, surveyor, wearing leggings, about 1920.

Since World War Two leggings have bit the dust, and now are a historical oddity, save for "gators."  Gators are only worn by certain outdoorsmen, and are a sort of heavy duty baggy legging designed to be worn with low cut boots.  Indeed, leggings in general were only ever worn with low cut boots, which is one of the oddities of them, as they're really a pain and a person would generally always be better off with a higher pair of boots.  Gators survive as certain really heavy mountaineering boots, or back country cross country skiing boots are low cut by necessity.

Okay, so what's that half to do with spats?  Isn't this a post about spats?

Well, maybe everything.

Up until I ran across them I never gave spats much thought, other than that they appear to be a particularly strange clothing item.  My basic supposition is that they were simply strangely decorative, and in the popular imagination, they have come to be associated with the wealthy, or at least the very well dressed, of an earlier era.

A spats wearing Senator Charles Sumner and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

It turns out that spats is actually a shortened version of the actual name, spatterdashes, and that another name for them is "field spats."  Hence, they served a purpose similar to that of leggings, in that they were designed to protect the shoes and socks from the elements.  So, as odd as they now appear to us, they had an entirely practical origin.  In the era in which they were common, people commonly had fewer items of clothing in general, people had to preserve what they had.

Additionally, and very easy for us to forget, people in earlier eras, in every walk of life, were out and about in the rough more than most people are today.  A lawyer, for example, might have spent most of his days in the office, but he had to walk or ride there, and the streets were very unlikely to be paved.  People kept livestock in town, and if he had to make a house call, and they did, that might well be at a farm. So, in other words, not only were his office shoes probably his only pair, and his socks probably hand knitted and one of a very pairs, the whole world was. . . well. . .dirty.  And he had to be out in it a lot more than most people are today.  Hence, they were practical.

Indeed, as an aside, there's a great depiction of this sort of thing in Sense and Sensibility, when the ladies attend a ball, but are warned, upon dismounting from a carriage, that "the horses have been here."  Not just there, they'd been everywhere.  A good reason to wear spats.

How spats became associated with the wealthy I don't know.  They are today, in a cartoon like fashion.  The top hatted Monopoly figure, for example, wears spats.  Maybe the wealthy just had the best shoes, and therefore a need to keep them clean more than other folks.  Anyhow, these were a practical item and, because of that, they're now gone. They were probably a pain to start with, and with no ongoing need for them, they went.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Blog Mirror: Today In Wyoming's History: Sidebar: Hispanics in Wyoming

Today In Wyoming's History: Sidebar: Hispanics in Wyoming: Recently, following St. Patrick's Day , I posted a sidebar on The Irish In Wyoming .  While it is, in no way, an equivalent holiday, we...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Beating the drum for Syrian intervention . . . and lessons from the Spanish Civil War.

I need to get back to the main historical them of this blog, which is beginning to get a bit too far ranging, but I can't help but note the current drum beat for intervention in the Syrian civil war and feel the need to be a pundit, even though there's nothing "historical" about this current event.  

Well, maybe that does actually have some things that are useful for a blog on historical topics. . . 

Anyhow, to start off with, the press, and some politicians, are really ramping up on the US intervening in the Syrian civil war.  It's famously noted that those who cannot remember history are condemned to repeat it, but it's amazing, in our new 24 hour news cycle, how quickly we do that.  The press was excited about getting into Iraq too, only to be opposed to it just seconds after the conventional war became a guerrilla war (really a second war, but an inevitable one).  Now we're doing that with Syria.  Maybe we ought to look a bit more closely at that, and realistically, and . . .take a less from the Spanish Civil War.

Ever since 1939, or at least 1941, historians have liked to look at the Spanish Civil War as World War Two light.  Indeed, some in the US were naively casting the Republicans as democrats right from the onset, so there's an element of miscasting the characters in the war just as we're now doing with the Syrian civil war.  Indeed,  part of the problem with books on the Spanish civil war is that they look at it through the lens of WWII, which is a mistake.   

Democracy was dead in Spain before the first shot was fired.  It had been given a mortal wound in the last election they'd had.  After that, it was going to become a Communist country, the question was just when and how extreme it was going to get.  The evidence is pretty good that it was going to get pretty extreme pretty quickly.  The days of Spanish democracy were failing fast.  For the anti-Communist, or just folks who weren't Communist, the only choice was to look towards somebody to rise up against the inevitable, and the army did that.  It wasn't democratic either, it was monarchist, but the monarchs were no more.

People like to look at it as the democrats vs. the fascists, but it simply isn't true.  It was really the Communist vs the Army.  Everyone else had to fit into that contest somehow, or hope to sit it out and live through it, a very difficult thing to do in a country torn by extremes and fighting a civil war.  If you were a democrat who figured that Communist values were better than monarchical ones, you went with the Communists.  If you were a democrat who figured that the Communist were worse than the Army, you went with the Army. Socialists and Anarchists went with the Communists, for which quite a few were killed by Communists, as Communism everywhere killed off close competitors first.   Fascists and Monarchist went with the Army.  The Basque, as usual, tried to go it alone.

That is the model for Syria.  There are no democrats.  If you are an Islamist, you want the Baath party out and an Islamic republic a la Iran, or pre 2001 Afghanistan, in.  If you are not an Alawite and you are a Moslem you want the government out also, even if you probably don't have any desire for a theocracy to replace the Baath dictatorship.  If you are an Alawite or a Christian, you probably want the Baath Party in, not because it likes everyone, but because it's a secular party that's equal or equally crappy to everyone.  There's not a lot of social melting that goes on in the Middle East, and for the minority groups that threw their lot in with the Baath Party, not out of love, but because it would give them more or less an equal deal, this has to be a nightmare of epic proportions.

The really disturbing thing is that the Press and U.S. interventionist seem wholly ignorant of all of this.  They want us to overthrow the rotten secular quasi fascist Baathists in order to put the rotten crappy really dangerous Islamist in.  We do not stand to benefit from replacing one crappy government with another.  Indeed, as horrible as the Syrian dictatorship is, there's no reason to believe that the replacement Syrian government wouldn't be much worse. 

Christianity was the majority religion in the Middle East up until the Crusader Kingdoms fell in the Islamic invasions in the Middle East (it happened, by the way, that way, and not the other way around).  Even after that, Christian communities hung on for centuries and centuries.  Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Palestine and Iraq proved to be the resilient reservoirs of the Faith.  I note this as our current actions are having the collateral impact of wiping out these ancient regional cultures, which predate the ones we seem so inclined to assist, only to our regret.  Our efforts in Iraq had the collateral impact of really weakening the remaining Christian communities there.  Aiding Al Queda overthrow the Baath regime, which is basically what we're going to end up doing, will be extremely detrimental to a culture so old that the New Testament informs us that St. Paul had his conversion on the road to Damascus.

My point here is not to argue that we need to do one thing or another for religious reasons.  Nor am I suggesting that we need to back the Baath government in any fashion.  We do not.  But we're fooling ourselves if we think that there's any Western democrats in this war.  And unless we're willing to actually go in, control the results, and govern Syria until it can govern itself in the same fashion that France governs itself, we are making a big mistake.

South Dakota lures lawyers to rural areas with annual subsidies - ABA Journal

South Dakota lures lawyers to rural areas with annual subsidies - ABA Journal

What an odd story, but what, in some ways, a disturbing one. 

The "country lawyer" is such an institution that the use of the term is nearly a joke, and frankly fairly abused.  When people claim it sincerely, you really have to wonder.  Having said that, for the entire course of American history, we've had small town rural lawyers. Some, such as Abraham Lincoln, have been pretty significant to our history.  

Now that seems to be passing away.  Why?  My suspicion is the aggressive focus on money in the law that came about in the 1980s has a lot to do with it.  About that time, the profession really started focusing on riches, and lawyers also started being portrayed as rich.  Consider that early depictions of lawyers:  
  • Atticus Finch, small town southern lawyer who actually takes produce and poultry in payment, on occasion.
  • Paul Biegler, defense lawyer in Anatomy of a Murder who has exactly one client, who stiffs him on a bill.
  • Parnell McCarthy, washed up lawyer in Anatomy of a Murder who still has abilities, but has pretty obviously been struggling with booze for years.
  • Barney Greenwald, big city lawyer who may, or may not, have made a lot of money in the law, but who is a wounded Marine Corps pilot at the time of his assignment as court martial defense in The Caine Mutiney.
  • Frank Galvin, an alcoholic lawyer who is just hanging on until he gets one significant case and dries out, in The Verdict.
  • Mickey Morrissey, Galvins' sober friend, who is also an attorney, but whom doesn't appear to be rich, in The Verdict.
  • The Judge in The Man In The Gray Flannel Suit, who is portrayed as the singularly decent representative of the law, and who has a tiny office in a tiny town.
  • Chief Judge Dan Hayword in Judgement at Nuremberg. Same sort of deal.
What do all of these depictions have in common? Well, nothing in them has much to do with wealth.  Indeed, some of them are the antithesis of that.  In at least two of these depictions the lawyers are decent, hardworking, sober men, who are basically living hand to mouth.   While movie and literary portrayals of lawyers shouldn't inspire somebody to become one, they do.  Anyone inspired by any of these depictions wouldn't have been inspired by the thought of getting rich.

That all changed with the claptrap of L.A. Law. Thereafter, lawyers came to be seen as wealthy and glamorous.  L. A. Law, of course, came up in the Gordon Geco era, and it shares a lot of the same basic style of portrayal.  And it isn't alone.  After L. A. Law we had Boston Legal and Alley McBeal, amongst others, all of which portray suited up lawyers with plenty of cash.

That sort of portrayal is far from accurate, which may explain the significant level of lawyer discontent that exists right now. But beyond that, it might also say something about the people being attracted to the law, if they found these portrayals attractive.  And that is only made worse by the unrealistic portrayals of the law given out by law schools and professional organizations, such as the ABA.  The ABA obsesses on the starting pay of "Big Law" associates, as if that even matters to most lawyers.  By focusing so relentlessly on it, they make it matter to some.

But that doesn't mean that the nuts and bolts of the law have moved into town and into high finance. They remain out in the small towns and cities.  If the lawyers don't go out there, that's not only bad for those localities, it's bad for everyone, including the law.

Epilog:

NPR's news show, Talk of the Nation (soon to be a thing of the past) recently ran a show on this topic, and on a similar problem with doctors no longer going to rural areas.  The person who investigated the topic was not optimistic about South Dakota's efforts.

Fame

Fame must be an odd thing.  Additive apparently.

I hit on Google News the other morning and found a news story about Amanda Bynes, who apparently has taken up publishing photos of herself nude or nearly nude, on the net.  All I know about Amanda Bynes is that she was a child actress with a show on television called, I think, Amanda Please.  I remember when the kids were young, they'd watch it, and like most shows of that type, I absolutely hated it.  It was extremely irritating.

I wouldn't expect a show like that to translate into adult success, so one would hope that somebody salted away some cash so that those early years paid off somehow later.  I have no idea if they did or not, but now it would seem she's imploding in the public eye, or so desperate for attention and the revival of her fame, that she's willing to exploit herself in the worst possible way.  Bizarre.

But not isolated.

Another child actress, Miley Cyrus is in the news a lot as well, and a lot of that has to do with presenting herself in as trashy of way as conceivably possible.  As a child actress (with another show that I absolutely hated) she had a pretty clean image, so in contrast she's presenting the opposite now. Why?  Who knows, other than it gets her name in the press a lot. It doesn't seem to be translating into work, however.

Also in the news it seems that some figure who was on the MTV show documenting the lives of teenage single mothers has been engaging in filmed pornography.  That's not only bizarre, but disgusting.  I suppose this is basically the prostitution of her image for cash, and perhaps indicates a certain degree of financial desperation, but my gosh, really?  Who would buy this. And did she forget how she ended up being eligible for a teen mother expose in the first place?

And then we have Lindsey Lohan, who is always in the news trying to get out attention.  She's busy getting arrested, getting stoned, or selling herself in print.  Why?  Again, she was a childhood actress and then a teen actress. That's probably more success of that type than a person can expect, so a person ought to be good with that.  No reason not to just retire and enjoy things from there on out. But apparently that won't be the case, and for some it's better to melt down in the public eye than just go on and live a dignified life. But why?

Closer to home, last week saw a weird, weird news story where a UW student anonymously threatened herself with violent physical assault.  Apparently there was a UW centered Facebook page where students could go on and publish their crushes on other students. That such a Facebook page would be monumentally stupid is self evident, but none the less, it apparently was.  Anyhow, a UW student threatened herself, in the guise of an anonymous poster, with rape.  Now why would somebody do something that stupid?

I don't really know, but what I do know is that the student in question came into the public eye with UW invited radical Bill Ayres to speak, and then dis-invited him.  That whole episode was pretty stupid also, but it sparked a lawsuit, in which this particular student was a plaintiff, and she had her moment in the sun as a sort of celebrity.  These things pass, of course, but she's apparently kept on keeping on as a feminist figure.

I don't know that this is about fame, and I don't care if she is a feminist campaigner. That's her absolute right.  I do feel sorry for her, however, as this misstep is a bad one.  People ought to back off and leave her alone, as it's just a silly youthful error and nothing more, and this moment will surely pass never to be remembered, but I do wonder if it's another example of the corrosiveness of fame.


Perhaps the worst example I can think of concerning the strange impact of fame is the entire Khardashian clan.  We're constantly being afflicted with news stories on the three (or four?) Khardashian sisters and their sort of icky lives. 

I have no idea what the Khardashians are actually known for. Their father was a well known California lawyer, but so what?  They aren't.  And lawyer fame dies quickly with the lawyer, with only a very few, and very rare, number of lawyers being remembered even shortly after their deaths.  I doubt, quite frankly, that most people even recall that their father was a well known lawyer.  As for this collection of sisters, what have they done?  I honestly don't know, but at any rate they're constantly in the news with marriages, divorces, pregnancies etc.  I think they're famous for being famous.  The problem with that kind of fame is that it trades on image alone. They're not bad looking, of course, but they have to sell that, and not even in the fashion with a model or actress might.  It's really unseemly.

Of course, none of this is new or even news.  People have traded in their fame for eons, or at least as long as there was some sort of media which could promote self-promotion.  As I'm not well versed in this class of folks, I couldn't give specific examples, I'm sure, but I am quite sure it's long occurred, and that that this isn't new.  Probably what is new about it is that it now seems to be a requirement to do something really shocking or really disgusting in order to get the spot light turned back on, no matter how brief that light may be.

But it doesn't have to be so.  I can think of at least a few actors or actresses who were child performers who have recently seemed to pass into real adulthood, some preserving careers, and others recognizing that the spot light is now off, and therefore moving into other things.  And in the past, there's been some examples of people who have gone on to much more dignified adulthood's than we're seeing here, just as there's been examples of those who have flamed out, self promoted, or just acted badly.  I suppose that this is just another example of the Internet allowing something to be sped up, and conducted more openly in the public eye, for good and ill both.