Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Lex Anteinternet: The Poster Gallery: Posters from World War Two.

Lex Anteinternet: The Poster Gallery: Posters from World War Two.: More posters that have been featured on this site, this set from the Second World War. ...

Lex Anteinternet: The Poster Gallery: Posters of World War One.

Lex Anteinternet: The Poster Gallery: Posters of World War One.: Our site has many threads featuring posters of various eras, including World War One.  World War One posters that have appeared here are rep...

The oldest marked grave on the trails

The oldest marked grave on the trails

Scots said “no,” but wow, did they care

Scots said “no,” but wow, did they care

Food: Seasonal, local, and from the grocery store. A revolution we don't often recognize.


World War One Canadian poster urging Canadians to preserve food for the winter.

Recently we blogged here about hunting, fishing and diet.  In response to that thread, Rich posted this comment:
I've always thought that there should also be something about seasonality to how a person eats.

There's something about that first asparagus in early spring, digging new potatoes out of the garden, peaches in summer, or venison in the fall that makes you appreciate it more than just going to the store and buying whatever you want whenever you want.

Eating a fresh-picked peach (if you can find one) in December doesn't seem quite the same as eating yourself sick on home-grown peaches in July.
As I noted in my reply, there's actually a movement that espouses that view, that being the "Eat Local", or "localvore" movement.  Sort of in the spirit of old norm returns as a trend amongst the well educated and well read, this movement, inspired in part by people like Michale Pollan and in part by people like Joel Salatin, the concept is that a person ought to try to obtain their food from a reasonable distance around them.  That isn't really what Rich espoused, but its sort of a related concept, as it would incorporate seasonality by default.

Of course, depending upon where you lived, it'd cause you to eat a very spartan diet as well.  I've blogged about that somewhere here before, but because the search feature of this blog doesn't always seem to work really well on the older threads, I haven't found it. Still, this is one of those areas that taps into the theme of the blog, and for which there are all sorts of interesting permutations.

 
Dick Latham, unintentional localvore, with an antelope in Wyoming.  This photo first appeared on our May 2, 2009 entry.

A year or two ago I was defending a deposition in Sheridan Wyoming and the law office I was in had a giant poster of the view in town from the courthouse.   One of the things that was visible was a sign on a building advertising a grocery that bought and sold local vegetables. That's fairly amazing for a variety of reasons, the most significant of which is that in the early 20th Century there were enough vegetables being grown in the Sheridan area to market them commercially through a local grocer, something that certainly isn't the case now there, or anywhere in Wyoming.  Farming still goes on in the area, but not commercial vegetable farming.  All the farming is commercial hay farming or wheat, in that area.  Indeed, while there may be exceptions somewhere in the state, all the commercial farming I'm aware of in Wyoming is a hay crop, wheat, or corn.

 

Indeed, at least as late as the 1940s, it was still the case that there was enough of a local demand that my family's packing house, which had some farm ground next to it which it generally used for hay production, put in a crop of potatoes for local sale.  That may have occurred elsewhere in the state after that, but if it did, I don't know of it. That might have been the last commercial potato crop in the state.  I can't think of a single conventional food crop being raised anywhere in the state at this time for sale in grocery stores.  A farm near Alcova Wyoming raises a crop of sweet corn for direct sale to customers, who harvest it themselves, but that's a bit different.  Near Riverton Wyoming there are some farms that likewise grow raspberries and pumpkins for sale in that fashion.  About the closest we get to the commercial sale of locally grown crops, in town, at an established market, is the vending of Colorado peaches and chili peppers that will happen on a seasonal basis, with those vendors setting up in parking lots to make their sales.  That's not really quite the same thing, however.

What's replaced this is the huge food distribution system we now have throughout the Western world. We don't even think of this, but frankly, it's an amazing thing in and of itself, and an amazing thing to ponder, if perhaps a little scary in some ways.

 World War One vintage poster urging conservation of wheat.

Go into any town or city in the state, like any town or city in any state, and you are going to see some grocery store chain.  This city has Safeways, Albertsons, Smiths, and Natural Grocers.  At one time it had an IGA as well, but that was before the Smiths.  These are present in many towns.  Guernsey has a Jack & Jills.  I'm sure there are others I've missed, maybe even here in town.  We do have a couple of surviving small grocery stores, however, those being Grant Street Grocers and Braddis' (which is now a meat market).  And this is before even taking into account that the "big box" stores, like Wal Mart and Sam's Club also have grocery sections.  That doesn't explain this change in and of itself, of course. Safeway, for example, has been around since the 1930s and was one of the first really widespread chain stores in the United States.  But it's emblematic of the consolidation and systematization of the food supply system.

What's really changed it, however, is how process and most particularly transportation has been employed both to process food and deliver it everywhere.  The change is so vast, we can hardly grasp it.


Let's go back, for a moment to the earlier condition. And in doing that, let's go back one century.  If we were here in Wyoming on an unusually warm September day in 1914, rather than 2014, what would we be seeing on our tables.

Well, just running through the day, there's still be coffee (thank goodness) on the breakfast table. Coffee was one of the earliest widely distributed mass produced crop items in the world.  Arbuckle's was particularly popular in  the American West, and it dates back as a company to 1864.  But unless I was extremely eccentric, I would note, preparing the coffee would be  bit different.  I use a coffee maker now, like most coffee drinkers I suppose, and struggle to get enough coffee against the intake of my coffee drinking son.  My father, however, always drank instant coffee for some reason.  I can't really stand instant coffee now, but I did drink it at one time, and will sometimes if camping, just because it's easy.  Instant coffee came in just before the First World War, and by accounts the process to make it is similar to the current one.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-7g2Su-sl7dE/VA8ZxZPPw_I/AAAAAAAAR3g/yweIUlksGKA/s1600/Washington_Coffee_New_York_Tribune.JPG 
 Washington's Prepared (instant) Coffee.  It was apparently pretty bad, but popular with soldiers as it was easy to make.

Okay, so much for what I'd drink, but what if you drank milk? Well, there too, it'd be available, but probably from a local dairy.  And indeed at one time my family owned the local "creamery", that being the the institution that processes and delivers the milk.

 

Former  Jersey Creamery building in Casper Wyoming.  Once an institution of nearly any decent sized town, these are now largely a thing of the past.

Most places, local creameries are a thing of the past, replaced by regional ones.  Oddly, at least one regional one that supplies this region notes that the milk goes basically straight from the farmer's cows to you, but those farmers aren't around here.  There are no longer any dairy herds here at all.  The old dairy isn't far from where I live, but it boards horses now and has for decades.

 
But still, so far no big difference. So what else? Well, I frankly usually have cereal for breakfast, and I have for most of my life.  My wife, on the other hand, during the school year cooks breakfast for the kids, a marker of her ranch background. So for the kids, breakfast most days hasn't changed much.  For cereal eaters, however, the story is different.

Some processed cereals were around in 1914, but not all that many.  The selection isn't what it is today.  Post is really the oldest cereal brand, and its been around since 1895, which makes it pretty darned old.  So you could eat cereal.  You could also eat oatmeal of course, or "porridge" as my mother called it.  You wouldn't be eating instant oatmeal, however.  There was no such thing.  You had to cook it.

 Corn Flakes advertisement from 1910.

On occasion, I'll cook oatmeal, and it does taste better, in my opinion, than the instant. It also takes more time.  It seems like it takes forever in fact, even though it really doesn't.  On odd occasions, when I've had Irish oatmeal here at the house, I've even cooked it the night before so as to save time the following morning.  But still, so far we're not seeing huge variety differences in our house.

You would, however, if you are one of those people who eats yogurt or drinks something exotic, like orange juice, at breakfast. Flat out not available in most places in the US in 1914.

Indeed, something like orange juice would have been exclusively home made, and rarely available.  Now, oranges are literally shipped in by ship year around, if not in season in the US.  Nobody shipped oranges in 1914 to the US.  It would have been a  seasonal crop, as would any single fruit crop.  Most of the year, no fruit.  This time of the year there would have been some, particularly apples in this region, perhaps from a tree out back.  Oranges, I'd note, were once sufficiently uncommon by mid winter that they were a common Christmas gift for children.

Perhaps we should leave the breakfast table and move on to other meals, although that proves in the case of midday to be a little more difficult.  Now at midday most people eat "lunch", although I often as not just skip it.  People in early eras didn't skip it, and they typically ate what we'd consider an enormous lunch.  For these reasons, it's practically beyond comparison. Depending upon what they did, they either ate a large home prepared meal they packed with them or went to a cafe, or ate at the house.  In any event, their lunches were more like our "dinners" or "supper", IE., the last (big) meal of the day.

Nothing in these meals was of the prepackaged type we see today.  No Lunchables or packaged cellophane wrapped sandwiches.  Nothing microwavable.  Unless you go out for lunch and stick to a pretty basic diet at that lunch, such as a beef sandwich or something, your lunch is different.

So is your evening meal, and in spades.

A lot of evenings we no doubt eat a meal that resembles one of a century ago, probably more than most families, particularly for this region. We have antelope, deer and a volunteer beef in the freezer.  While freezers were non existent a century ago, these meat sources would have all been fairly common here a century ago.  For quite a few folks around here, something they shot would appear on the dinner table from time to time, and beef was available.  Pork probably was, in small amounts, too.  Chicken, from local sources only, would have been too.

So what's different?  Well, we're talking 100% local.  Local beef, and local poultry, supplemented by local wild game.  Now, that's not common for most Americans.  

And normally it would have been fairly fresh too.  As in very fresh. Without very good refrigeration, you couldn't have kept meat for even more than a couple of days, unless it was of the salted or cured variety.

Which was around, to be sure. Corned beef and bacon are two good examples.  Corned beef and bacon will keep awhile, particularly as the corned beef of that day isn't the same thing, really, that people eat now.  Heavily salty, like hams of the days, it had to be boiled to drive the salt off in order to eat it.  Corned beef was a staple of European armies in this era for a reason, and it wasn't because its was tasty (which modern corned beef is).  And there were canned and "potted" meats by this time, for those who couldn't acquire fresh meat. But they were not popular daily items for most people, which is the same as today really.

Anything else on that dinner table likewise would probably have been fairly fresh, depending upon the time of the year, and highly local.  However, canning and preserving also existed, so canned vegetables and preserved vegetables were available other times of the year. Some sort of vegetables really keep, such as potatoes and onions, and these would have made a long presence into the looming winter.

 World War One vintage photograph, part of food preservation campaign.

What all that probably makes plain is that the diet was much less varied. That doesn't make it bad, I'll note, just less varied.  No Kiwis, hummus, yogurt, or any of the numerous other things people now routinely eat.  No canned refried beans.  No peppers in December.  No lettuce in January.  No grapes in March.  And so on.

Well, so much for a century ago. If we take it back one century further, to 1814, and therefore take out anything not being mass produced and packaged or canned, we're left with basically one item that was preserved and distributed, that being corn in the form of whiskey.  There was food that could be preserved, of course, by corning, smoking, or drying, including both meats and vegetables of various type.  The meat products are fairly obvious to us upon considering it, but probably the vegetable products, like dried beans, less so.

So to what can we attribute this huge change. Well, factory processing is surely one, and that's spread from its beginnings in the late 19th Century to the present point where even whole meals are prepared hundreds or thousands of miles from where they will be eaten, and shipped.  And that's caused an element of centralization in the system that didn't previously exist.

 Cutting fish for canning as sardines.

If we stop and think about this for a moment, the nature of it is really amazing. We receive vegetables from hundreds of miles, even thousands of miles away.  Lettuce is harvested in California, or northern Mexico, and transported to grocery stores all over North America. That required a pretty amazing transportation system, which the case of the United States is entirely dependent upon highway using trucks.  Or consider oranges, which we can now get year around.  Oranges are harvested in Texas, or Florida, or Belize and taken by, perhaps, ships to one spot, and then trucked to far distant points, and yet they are still affordable.

That they are still affordable is in and of itself amazing.  Each bears a fractional share of the transportation costs, and yet that turns out to be quite small in the end.  Of course, some of the costs are borne indirectly, such as the costs of maintaining and building the highways, but still it comes out pretty cheaply.  Its so efficient in fact that even if the environmental costs are added in, according to Freakanomics, it still comes out ahead of at least some alternative options.


This is a revolution that's hard for us to appreciate today, but its truly an amazing one.  I'm not saying, of course, that a person shouldn't till their own soil, and I've maintained substantial gardens of my own in the past, and my father always did.  Growing your own was its own reward, and the taste of freshly grown is indeed better from that grown long distances away.  And there's something to be said for maintaining local agriculture, the loss of which is disturbing on multiple levels.  Rather, what we note here is the change itself, which has been enormous.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Uncle Couvi s Rules For Visiting A Museum To Perform Research - SMH

Uncle Couvi s Rules For Visiting A Museum To Perform Research - SMH

Business Machines of Antiquity.


This is a lobby display in the office of DepMax in Salt Lake.  It's nicely done, really, and the amazing thing about it in contemplation is that the devices displayed were undoubtedly so routine as to not be regarded as worthy of display in their day.

The machine of the left is, of course, a type righter.  A manual Royal typewriter, to be precise.  Not particularly notable, but in fact revolutionary, in its day.  It wiped out the occupation of scriviner and it was instrumental in converting that male occupation into what ultimately became largely the female occupation of secretary, which didn't really do quite the same things, but where the latter basically absorbed the former to such an extent that the world "scrivner", when used in the law, no longer really means quite the same thing it originally had.  The typewriter also revolutionized all sorts of other writing professions, and there were portable versions, not much larger than the one seen here, for people who had to write on the road or in the field.  Now this is all largely a thing of the past, although a few diehards still will use manual typewriters.  Supposedly conservative columnist George F. Will does.

On the far right is a court reporters stenograph machine. These still exist, but certainly not in this form.  This form used a large roll of paper to type print out the court reporter's shorthand in a continuing roll, with the court reporter having to stop from time to time to change the roll.  This version of the machine is a manual one, like the typewriter, and it slowly supplanted handwritten shorthand, which a few court reporters were still using as late as the 1950s.  When I started practicing law in 1990 this manual type had been replaced by an electric version, much like electric typewriters had largely supplanted manual ones, but otherwise they were more or less the same.

About fifteen years ago or so, court reporter's stenographic machines started showing up with computer jacks, and laptops.  We could, all of a sudden, take a look at the raw transcript in "real time", as the computer translated the shorthand. This wasn't entirely trusted at first, but slowly it came to be, and now the overwhelming majority of court reporters use computers jacked into their machines and dispense with the paper roll entirely.  I've had one occasion on which a computer failure required the reporter to call in a second one, which was justified as when the reporter feels that things aren't working, they aren't.  Still, this photo shows the interesting way in which things have stayed the same, and very much changed.

I don't know what the wooden roll top thing in the middle of this display is.  Probably something having a connection with office work, but I have no idea what it is.

Monday at the Bar: Lawyers Office, Dover Deleware, 1940s.


The Big Picture: Cambrai, 1919


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Student Revolt in Jefferson County, Colorado

High school students in Jefferson County (part of the megalopolis of Denver) are now on day four of a walk out, in protest of their school district.  A "Massive Protest" is occuring outside of one of the high schools in the area today, in which 1,000 high school students from two different high schools are participating. What' gives?

Well, in part, getting a walk out rolling in nice weather probably isn't as hard as it might seem, but beyond that the protests are focused on the following, according to the Denver Post:
Community members are angry about an evaluation-based system for awarding raises to educators and a proposed curriculum committee that would call for promoting "positive aspects" of the United States.
I'm not sure what an "evaluation based system for awarding raises to educators" actually means.  That's vague enough that, without further explanaion, it'd be hard to know what they're talking about really. As for the curriculum, the post reports the following:

The curriculum proposal, crafted by board member Julie Williams, calls for a nine-member panel to "review curricular choices for conformity to JeffCo academic standards, accuracy and omissions," and present information accurately and objectively.

Williams' proposal calls for instructional material presenting "positive aspects" of U.S. heritage that "promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights."  Materials should not, it says, "encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law."
Interesting how this has worked. The students apparently are offended and feel that they're going to be fed propaganda, and are reacting.  So, accidentally, the materials are resulting in civil disorder and social strife.

Logic would or should dictate that students just get the straight scoop on stuff, whatever that is, science, history, or whatever. In recent years that has always been the case, on the political right or the political left.  At least in Jefferson County, students appear to have taken note to some extent.

Of course, the nice weather doesn't hurt either.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Some Gave All: Sharp, Franklin, Taylor, Doe, and Kelly, and the b...

Some Gave All: Sharp, Franklin, Taylor, Doe, and Kelly, and the b...: A marker locating the spot where various Oregon Trail immigrants lost their lives during the Indian Wars of the early 1860s, ...

Holscher's Hub: Competing modes of transportation.

Holscher's Hub: Competing modes of transportation.

 Interesting example of two very separate generations of transportation, but with the older carrying the newer.

Holscher's Hub: Mystery Plant

Holscher's Hub: Mystery Plant: Does anyone recognize what this very large leafed plant in the Laramie Range may be? The leaves are easily 5" across, and were g...

And what if Ireland. . . ?



As everyone knows, Scotland voted yesterday to keep on being a member of the United Kingdom, effectively keeping the United Kingdom as a entity. Without Scotland, no matter what it called itself, the country that was the United Kingdom would really be England.  Indeed, in some ways that was the point of Scot's separatist.  England has the dominant political and economic role in the United Kingdom, although perhaps a bit oddly in recent years, Scotland effectively has home rule on most things, and a vote in the English Parliament, while England lacks a vote in the Scottish Parliament.

 Flag of the self declared Irish Republic, somewhat ironically with text in English.  Attribution:  Wikipedia Commons, ArnoldPlaton - SVG version of Irish Republic Flag.jpg

Anyhow, a person of historical bent can't ponder the recent episode with Scottish separatist bidding for independence without considering the history of just over a century ago in regards to Ireland.

The United Kingdom was once the United Kingdom of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.  A Celtic land, of course, like Scotland (with which it shared interesting historical and ethnic connections), England's history in connection with Ireland, or perhaps we should say the United Kingdom's history, was considerably different from that of Scotland's, which perhaps makes any comparison between the two somewhat irrelevant. Still, there's some interesting things to consider.

Relating that history would amount to writing a treatise, and it isn't as if it hasn't been done before, but will simply summarize it so as to make the story informed enough to make sense in context.  While Scotland and Ireland shared ancient historical, ethnic and religious connections (Scots are descendant not only from the original native British population, but also from Irish invaders who gave the Scots their ultimate name, and Ireland Christianized Scotland), their paths really diverged during the Reformation. By that time, England was already the dominant political power in the British Isles, and it effectively dominated the area irrespective of the regions theoretical independence.  Ireland had effectively been an English possession since the time of the Anglo Norman invasions of Ireland, which it had resisted at the time and which it continued to resist off and on until independence. Scotland also retained waning independence aspirations, and resisted the English, but really less effectively.

The Reformation effectively sealed what was already the case at that time.  England, due to King Henry VIII, became a prime mover in the Reformation, but because its path way was mixed, confused and unclear, it flopped back and forth for some time between Protestantism, near Catholicism and a return to Catholicism.  Ultimate the "Settlement" of this issue, or rather the forced Crown decree on how it was to be settled, created the official Church of England, but in some ways the questions that have always existed continue to exist within it to this day.  Scotland, however, joined the most Protestant of the Reformation movements, or at least its monarchy did, adopting Calvinism in the form of Presbyterianism, which remains today the official Church of Scotland.  Ireland remained staunchly Catholic, however, and continued to do so even with the British Parliament briefly sided with Calvinist thought under Cromwell, whose forces famously attempted to fully subjugate Ireland.

Religious strife went on for a long time on Great Britain, something that's somewhat forgotten today, as the Crown and Parliament struggled over which branch of Protestantism would be the official one, and as, which is also forgotten, a fair amount of Catholicism remained amongst the rural peasantry and the Churches that served them.  Any religion other than the official one was suppressed, often violently, and the English spread this effort out to Ireland, which it fully controlled.  In England Catholicism was outlawed.  In Ireland, where completely outlawing it would have been impossible, Irish Catholics were extremely repressed.  As part of their effort to more fully dominate the island in this era, the English caused Scots Presbyterian immigrants to settle in Ulster, where they had no choice but to be loyal to the English Crown, as they formed a tiny Protestant island in a large Catholic sea.

Scotland became part of the United Kingdom in 1707, with the Act of Union.  Ireland didn't become part of it until 1801, although its role in the UK was at first necessarily constrained, given that so much of its population was really ineligible to vote.

This is all history that is well known, and of course the Irish continued to resist and occasionally rebel against the Crown.  Resistance to the Crown continued in Scotland, in a different context, for a time too, but eventually it died down, in spite of some good reasons to continue to resent England.

But lets leap ahead to the late 19th Century (skipping the famine and all of that). By the late 19th Century the British had really started to reconsider much of what had occurred before, and the Parliament began to back away from the repression it had levied in early decades and centuries.  Parliament lifted its ban on Catholicism in England and it ceased suppression of it in Ireland.  By the late 19th Century, the English Parliament was starting to seriously consider Irish Home Rule, so much so that it became a controversial subject in the English Parliament.  Home Rule was very much gaining ground in the early 20th Century, and it appeared, and looking back still appears, that but for World War One, home rule would have been achieved.

Had home rule been achieved, Ireland would essentially have today what Scotland has, it's own self governing parliament and laws withing in the United Kingdom. And because there was actually a Scottish independence movement that was gaining some ground in the early 20th Century as well, chances are high that had Ireland achieved that by 1920 or so, Scotland would have achieved the same shortly thereafter, and the United Kingdom would have gone on to be a federated state, which it now appears likely to shortly become.

That assumes, of course, that Irish independence wasn't inevitable, which it's easy to assume it was. But looking back, it doesn't appear to have been.

Home Rule, as a movement, was faced with two sources of opposition. One was in English nationalism, which very much opposed it.  Randolph Churchill, for example, somewhat made his name opposing it.  But beyond that it also faced Irish nationalism, which also opposed it as it wanted to take Ireland completely out of the United Kingdom, and by the early 20th Century was ready to do so by force if it could.  Armed nationalist militias were forming, and at the same time Unionist militias were also forming, both often quite in the open.  Strong support for Unionism was also found within the British officer ranks for Irish units, who reflected the fact that the British Army's officer corps remained a class within a class, largely recruited from well to do members of Protestant British families, who otherwise would have gone into the business of managing family estates or into the Anglican clergy.  Indeed, this was so much the case that a significant section of these officers made it known that if their units were called out of their barracks to suppress armed Unionist activity, they'd refuse the order and resign, resulting in a "rebellion" that threatened their careers.

Such was the case just a century ago.  Ireland appeared clearly headed towards home rule, with it being fairly clear that if that happened there'd be at least some Unionist armed revolts, and with it also being fairly clear that these would be met by Republican armed militiamen, who were less well armed, but more numerous. Those Republicans also were headed towards rebellion themselves.  A certain section of the Republicans were already working underground towards that aim.

Then, in August 1914, Europe erupted into warfare, with the United Kingdom joining in right from the onset.  The whole thing was put aside, Home Rule, Unionism, and Republicanism, at least for most people.  The Irish volunteered to serve in the British Army in large numbers.  The entire issue largely went away, although it was generally assumed that immediately after the war, Ireland would be granted home rule.

The United Kingdom tried, at first, to fight the war with all volunteer troops.  But the manpower requirements were simply to vast.  Britain therefore passed a conscription act that extended to Great Britain alone.  Ireland's unique status, and the fact that it might be a tinder box, was recognized in that conscription was not made to extend to it.  But, in 1916, with manpower waning, and with a feeling amongst British conservatives that omitting Ireland from conscription was unfair, conscription was extended to Ireland.

It was a mistake.  Ireland was already contributing manpower in such numbers that the conscription act would have had no actual effect on British manpower. But it was regarded as offensive on an island that had suffered from British repression and had only recently found its population being regarded as co-equal in rights with those living in England and Scotland. And it caused Republicans to believe that their moment had come.  On Easter, 1916, they staged a rebellion in Dublin.

 Proclamation of 1916.

That was also a mistake. The rebellion failed and Dubliners came out to protest a rebellion against the British when their sons were serving in France.  It didn't deter the Republicans, however, who shortly after World War One took the very unusual step of declaring Ireland independent and forming a parliament and ministries.  In essence, they were conducting a guerrilla war against the United Kingdom while simultaneously acting as the legitimate Irish government.

In what must be regarded as a peculiar move, and on that reflects how tired the United Kingdom was after World War One, the British chose to treat the Dail in exactly the fashion it regarded itself, and it negotiated with it. The results was the Irish Free State, which recognized an independent Ireland with the British Empire.  In short, Ireland was a dominion at that time, in the same fashion that Canada and Australian were.  Part of the 1922 treaty that recognized Irish independence allowed a vote in Ulster as to whether to remain part of the Free State, or to return to being part of the United Kingdom.  It opted for the United Kingdom, and the Irish Civil War immediately commenced over both Ulster's ability to do that (ironically, really) and the Dominion status of Ireland. The Free State won.

But, at that point, the point at which the rebel Dail signed a peace treaty and thereby became the defacto and de jure Irish parliament, were most Irish demanding full Independence.  It doesn't seem so.  Indeed, to the extent we can tell, even after all of that, the majority of the Irish hoped for home rule, even that late.  Had the Irish negotiators accepted that, which they could not given who they were an what the represented, the majority of the Irish would have achieved what they hoped to receive.  They received more than that in receiving independence with a dominion status, and the Republicans' dream came true. They also received, of course, a civil war, which went on in to 1923 before the National Army defeated the Irish Republican Army.  Eventually, the competing forces would uneasily come to live with each other, although a Republican desire to have the return of Ulster lingered on, and with some still does.

So, once again we have an application of Holscher's Fourth Law of History, War Changes Everything.  But for World War One, it seems certain that Ireland would have received home rule, with an accompanying period of messy civil unrest, probably in the mid teens.  That would have resulted in Scottish self rule almost immediately thereafter, and probably the United Kingdom would have become a federation, sort of like the United States, by the 1930s.   I doubt very much, in this scenario, if Ireland would have ever have become an independent state. The United Kingdom today would be a federated nation made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.  Northern Ireland would simply be part of Ireland.

Is this a better or worse result?  I hate to say it, particularly as two of my ancestors fought for Irish independence at Vinegar Hill, and one of them died there, but I frankly think it would have been a better one.  Ireland, in independence, became an economic backwater whose main export was its people for decades.  As a nation that managed to preserve its nationhood for centuries in spite of occupation, I don't think its culture was in danger, and indeed the fact that the Scottish are still that, would show that it wasn't.

Mid Week At Work: WPA Poster


Semi scary, nearly Nazi like, WPA poster.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

At war with ISIL

FA-18Es of the U.S. Navy launch from the USS George H. W. Bush yesterday, for airstrikes against ISIL  U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Robert Burck.

We are now in a full scale war with the Islamic State.  It is, for us, an air war.  On the ground, the troops will be natives of the region.  Iraqi Arabs and Kurds, and Syrians fighting their government and the Islamic State.  As a practical matter, while we do not wish to admit it, many of the ground troops that will be fighting the Islamic State in Syria, and who knows, perhaps in Iraq as well, will be Syrian regulars.   That's the practical reality of it.

It's popular to claim that airwars can't be won, but they can be and have been, if there's a substantial element on the ground, and here there is.  It isn't the best set of ground forces in the world, but then IS doesn't have a well trained army itself.  Compared to the Syrian army it's definitely a second string outfit, and it probably is compared to the Peshmerga, save for the fact that the Peshmerga is more attuned to fighting as a guerrilla army with light weapons, and IS is semi mechanized.

 F-35s of the U.S. Air Force, Florida.  This effort will undoubtedly provide the first combat deployment of the F-35.  Official U. S. Air Force photograph.

The Islamic State controls the roads, but that's about it.  It draws its support from vast stretches of territory it sort of influences beyond the roads, but the roads and the cities and towns attached to the roads are what it actually occupies for the most part. And a road dependent army can be degraded by raids.

The French army in Indochina was road dependent, and the Viet Minh controlled the countryside.  It took vast effort by the French Army to push out into the country, and they never lost their dependence on the roads.  In this war, IS is the French Army, and we're the Viet Minh.  Able to strike at any time day or night, there's not too many places for IS to hide. 

At some point, the war will go back to being a terrorist campaign by IS, which it was when IS was Al Queda in Iraq, its name before it rebranded itself in recognition of its nearly correct belief that it could establish an Islamic state on the Arab frontier, and make it a Caliphate, right now.  In that it nearly succeeded, but through the clever strategy of taking only the roads and major population centers.  That battle is probably over now and IS will go on the defensive.  

What will emerge is key.  To make this really successful, we must destroy ISIL.  Destroy it, not merely remove it from the population centers and roads.  And we have to plan for what comes after.  The Kurds have made it plain enough that what they don't want, really, is to have to rely on the anemic Shiia dominated Iraqi parliament. The Sunnis Arabs don't either, which is a lot of the reason ISIL has been so successful in this war, as Arab tribes united with it. Those same tribes will now abandon it, but that doesn't mean they want the Iraqi central government back.  Chaldean and Assyrian populations have also indicated that they feel they need their own state, as the lesson has now been fully learned what occurs to them when the winds shift suddenly over that Sunni sea.

The Big Speech: Socrates on Youth

Young people nowadays love luxury; they have bad manners and contempt for authority.  They show disrespect for old people and love silly talk in place of exercise.  They no longer stand up when older people enter the room; they contradict their parents, talk constantly in front of company, gobble their food and tyrannize their teachers
Socrates 400 B.C.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Lex Anteinternet: Pabst, Schlitz and Colt 45 to get Russian owner - ...

Lex Anteinternet: Pabst, Schlitz and Colt 45 to get Russian owner - ...: Pabst, Schlitz and Colt 45 to get Russian owner - MarketWatch The Russians owning Pabst? What is the world coming to?


While I posted my first entry in jest, this does bring back to mind an earlier post, which mentioned how many local breweries  there used to be.  In short, there were vast numbers. And there are starting to be vast numbers again.  Denver Colorado and the surrounding region seems to introduce a new brewery per week. Seriously, there's something like well over 100 small breweries in Colorado now, just in the Denver region.

But there were also a lot of large breweries making regional nor nationally distributed brews in the late 19th and for most of the 20th Centuries.  Budweiser is the best known example, but Pabst was another, having a major market share in its day.

Well, through the process of globalization and consolidation, the number of these companies has grown smaller.  Their brand names are still there in many (but certainly not all) cases. Budweiser, Pabst, etc., are still around. But they're part of bigger outfits.  Budweiser belongs to a Belgian alcohol concern.  Pabst will now belong to a Russian one.

This is simple, and global, economics, but it also brings to mind our earlier discussion on distributist economics.  Here, however, local breweries exhibiting the principle of subsidarity are plentiful, and some of them have grown in size themselves, repeating the original histories of Pabst and  Budweiser.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Pabst, Schlitz and Colt 45 to get Russian owner - MarketWatch

Pabst, Schlitz and Colt 45 to get Russian owner - MarketWatch

The Russians owning Pabst?

What is the world coming to?

Thanks To Nutella, The World Needs More Hazelnuts : The Salt : NPR

Thanks To Nutella, The World Needs More Hazelnuts : The Salt : NPR

Wyoming Brand Lard

10646787_442244832582818_2981191216607897998_n.jpg (JPEG Image, 960 × 720 pixels)

A lard can, depicting lard that was packed at my family's packing house in Casper Wyoming, before we owned it.

This must have been a brand name that the prior owner used, probably in the 1930s, maybe in the 1920s.

Interesting to see this.  I don't even think of lard being packed by a local company, and of course they sold regionally so it wasn't really local, but still, interesting glimpse into history, both regional and personal.

New Mexico Green Chile Advertising Act | Texas Agriculture Law

New Mexico Green Chile Advertising Act | Texas Agriculture Law

Scotland votes No.


The United Kingdom of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will continue to be.  As was really self evident, a "Yes" vote for independence would have meant the end of the United Kingdom, leaving it effectively the country of England with two much smaller nationalities appended to it.

Good for the majority of Scottish voters, who recognized that it is their country, and in the modern world, a Scottish separation from the United Kingdom would not have made political, national, historical, or economic, good sense.


AP Photos: Scenes from Iraq's Mosul then and now | CharlotteObserver.com

AP Photos: Scenes from Iraq's Mosul then and now | CharlotteObserver.com

Friday Farming: Fall Wheat


Here's How Young Farmers Looking For Land Are Getting Creative : The Salt : NPR

Here's How Young Farmers Looking For Land Are Getting Creative : The Salt : NPR

If Local Farms Aren't Local Enough, Buy From The Rooftop : The Salt : NPR

If Local Farms Aren't Local Enough, Buy From The Rooftop : The Salt : NPR

Better With Butter? Here's Why Americans Are Consuming More : The Salt : NPR

Better With Butter? Here's Why Americans Are Consuming More : The Salt : NPR

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Computerization, Transportation, Globalization, and the loss of the local

Some time ago I posted here on the Uniform Bar Exam, a development, in my view, which is wholly negative.  One of the selling points of the UBE, for its proponents, is that it makes bar admission "transportable".

 African American lawyer in the early 1940s.  Contrary to general supposition, law has long traditionally been an introductory occupation filled in part by members of minority groups and classes.  While this is contrary to the "rich lawyer" image many people erroneously hold of the law, it makes sense as the profession is traditionally one that has low start up costs in terms of everything but the education, and minority classes often have legal needs by the fact that they are minorities.  Indeed certain stereotypes and former stereotypes, such as "Irish Lawyer" or "Jewish Lawyer" are explained by this phenomenon.  A layer like this certainly didn't have a transportable career, and was part of his community.

It does, but is that a good thing?  And what does that mean?

"Transportability" is not a new phenomenon, but it is an accelerating one.  And its one of those little thought out byproducts of technology that have massive unintended impacts.  It might serve to look at it a bit, as while "transportability" is simply inevitable in some things, it isn't in everything, and its not necessarily that good of thing in some circumstances.

Transportability really means the ability to rapidly relocate from one place to another, as the immigrants qualifications will be equally valid in any location, or at least in multiple locations. But, and what is often missed when transportability is discussed, is that actual relocation is not necessary in this day and age.  Rather, a person can "transport" themselves and out of a location by telephone and Internet.  Indeed most current litigation attorneys already do this to some extent.  I do.  In addition to Wyoming, I practice in Colorado's Federal Courts, which I can do electronically for the most part.

Now, the advantages of this are fairly obvious, but right now the brake on "transportation," if you will, is that for lawyers you must be admitted by the other state's bar in some fashion, or at least you must be admitted in front of the other state's particular court you seek to practice in.  This is not new, and the UBE, discussed below, does not propose to change that.

What is proposed to be changed, however, is how a person does that.

Right now, a person must pass a bar exam for that state, so you still have to pass some bar exam recognized by the state. But what the UBE does is to allow you to take it in one state, and simply pay a fee to be admitted in other states that will recognize the UBE without requiring more. Wyoming still requires more, but what that more is, is to sit through a day long CLE class, which any person could do without any real effort other than sitting there and enduring it.  So, suddenly, the license becomes transportable.

So what's wrong with that?

Well, here it is.

I'm a type of lawyer whose practice is statewide, and my practice even laps a little into neighboring states, as noted, but I am of this state, and very familiar with it.  I was born here, grew up here, my wife is from here.  I went to the same high school, in different years, as my wife, father in law, mother in law, aunts and uncles, and father.  I have pretty deep connections here.

Which is not to say that there isn't movement in and out of here. When there's an oil boom going on, as there is now, there are a lot of new people here.  Some stay, some leave.  Some people from here move out as soon as they can (with that being a seemingly common desire of young people, who starting about 30 years after that become hopelessly nostalgic for what they left).  But moving in and out, is not the same as turning on your computer and "being there" in the form of a stream of electrons.

That's something that is seemingly missed by the advocates of transportability.  Not only has our society become more mobile, but it's less attached than ever.  Somebody who is located in a big city elsewhere, now, can pretend to be practicing in a completely different state with which they have no real connections.

They may believe that the do, but that's part of the delusion.  And once that connection is lost, it's truly lost.

Nearly every lawyer practicing in a state, no matter what he did, took on some projects and clients that were because he lived there. An organization, some local cause, or just people he knew.  Now, that won't be true. Will a lawyer in Denver represent  youth group for free in Casper, or sit on his Parish Council in Rock Springs?  Will a lawyer in Billings take on the cause of a widower in Sheridan.

Will he know what farmers and ranchers in Buffalo worry about, or what somebody whose road is now full of oilfield traffic experiences, or what the economic concerns of a man who has a roustabout company in Glenrock thinks, or will he even really care.

Making professions, professions of any kind, sort of like an Amazon service, remote, electronic and disconnected, is not a good idea.   Professions were to be of communities.  Indeed, any economic activity or occupation is.  By being so remote, we stand the chance of not only being disconnected, but harmful.

Indeed, it will also be highly self defeating, which the backers of transportability never apprecaite. They want their careers transportable, but only theirs.

With professions that can be made highly transportable, like the law, or accounting, there's no reason whatsoever that they can't be transported right out of the country.  There's no requirement, and nobody is proposing one, that to practice law anywhere in the US you must be a citizen of the United States.  So, if Wyoming's bar can be transported to Colorado or Montana, why not Mumbai?  Not only do I think that this can happen, I think it will happen.

Why not?  If the practice of law is, as it typically is, the writing and reviewing of documents and materials, why not have that done by a lawyer, admitted in Wyoming, who lives in Delhi?   Chances are high that some very highly skilled underemployed lawyers could be found there, who could do a fine product, and who could work in an area of the law where they rarely needed to appear in court.  So, for example, the vast droves of Colorado lawyers who claim to be "oil and gas" lawyers in Wyoming, could quite easily be replaced by the same in Delhi, to some extent, where the same lawyer would probably work for $25.00/hour.

Much of this, because of its nature, is something we are going to have to experience and deal with no matter what. But that doesn't make it all good, and technological advances that allow us to live in one city and work in another have their problems.  When it comes to professions, that's wholly negative, in my view.  We can do something about that, even if we can't do much about a lot of this, and we should.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Mid Week At Work: Enduring investigation.


Caption reads:
Navy's crack speed pilot faces Senate Committee seeking reason for resignation. Lieut. Al Williams, crack Navy speed pilot who recently resigned rather than accept a transfer to sea, appeared before a special Senate Naval l Affairs subcommittee today. The committee is investigating the reason for the resignation of the noted pilot. In the photograph, left to right: Senator Patrick J. Sullivan, Wyoming; Lieut. Williams; Senator Millard E. Tydings, Maryland, chairman; and David S. Ingalls, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Aviation

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

UW law school says it meets needs of state, energy industry - www.wyofile.com

UW law school says it meets needs of state, energy industry - www.wyofile.com

Holscher's Hub: University of Wyoming Women's Rugby: Wyoming v. U...

Holscher's Hub: University of Wyoming Women's Rugby: Wyoming v. U...: ...

After seemingly picking on (but not intending to) American football the past few days, I offer these recent photos I took of women's rugby at the University of Wyoming.

I don't have a clue what the rules are, but rugby is really fun to watch and I've always liked it. This is the first time, however, I've seen the women's team at UW in action.

It's a fast moving game, which is part of what I like.   It shares a common ancestor with American football, but to those of us who are big fans of it, American football seems slow.  Rugby is a much faster paced game.

Played without padding or helmets, it's also one which features a lot of injuries, but it doesn't seem to share the same percentage of really severe injuries, perhaps because of the lack of armor in the game.

Rootless

From Harrop's op ed this week questions whether we need a "place called home".  It's an excellent piece, questioning the value of rootlessness.  Ironically, the local paper today also features a front page article on an English woman who seems fairly rootless, having moved from a small city in England, to Paris, and whom is now studying range management at the University of Wyoming, after having worked on a Big Horn Basis ranch.

Harrop quotes from As You Like It in her article, although she doesn't quote the whole text, which reads:
Rosalind:  A traveler.  By my faith, you have great reason to be sad.  I fear you have sold your land to see other men's.  Then to have seen much and to have nothing is to have rich eyes and poor hands.
 Jacques:  Yes, I have gained my experience.
 Rosalind:  And your experience makes you sad.  I had rather have a fool to make me merry than experience to make me sad--and to travel for it too.

Forrop goes on to note who we seemingly envy the traveling, but there's something to be sad about their rootless lives.  And she wonders what occurs to these people in their old ages, do they settle in someplace new, where they have no connections, or return to the place they abandoned and pick up their old lives.

Well, by observation, at least some do.  My home state, for many years, exported its young population, some of whom remained sort of romantically attached to the state for their careers, and then whom return later.  As Americans, with Freedom To Travel written into their organic foundational and mythological law, the Constitution, they have that right.

But Farrop is on to something, although she's hardly unique in noting it.   Agrarian poet, educator and novelist Wendell Berry earlier noted it in his essay Becoming Native To This Place.  Berry notes that unless a person has real roots in a place, he's lacking a bit in something and by extension, everything suffers form a rootless population.

Indeed, that's the irony of travel. Travelers travel, usually, to see the authentic, unless they travel to one of the Disneyfied locations that Americans so love to visit.  Absent that, when the travel to see Hawaii, or Paris, or Ireland or Scotland, they travel to see the real places, not a bunch of people like themselves who have a generic culture and no roots.  They sense, really, that those cultures have something deeper, in being attached to the land and knowing it.

Americans have always been somewhat rootless, but in prior days they tended to move within their immediate regions.  In the Frontier era, people moved, but often less than ten miles before establishing a new home.  Some moves, of course, were huge, but they tended to be a big singular move.  Now some people move constantly, and while relocation within a region remain very common, and because they are within a region are not really the type of move we mention here, the phenomenon of some people moving again and again, following a career, or just moving, is not unusual.  

Well, it is a big sad.  By constantly moving they never become, as Berry would have it, "native" to a place, and they lack something as a result.  If our culture becomes more fluid, as it seems to threaten, and as some hope, this will become even more pronounced, and an era may arrive when people have no attachment to their region, don't even know it, have no attachment to their communities, and don't even know them, and have no attachment to each other.








Random Snippets: Trivial questions on the news.

This past weekend the new moderator for Meet The Press did an interesting and in depth interview of a member of President Obama's administration regarding ISIL and our plans to take that on.

At the tail end of it, the moderator suddenly shifted and told the guest that he was sure that the guest had spoken to the President about football player Ray Rice and did the President have a view on the NFL's recent actions regarding Rice, and if something should be done to the commissioner of that organization.

Seriously?

While it would be contrary to what the guest stated, I hope that in serious discussions at the White House the NFL's problems or those of its player, indeed the entire topic of professional sports controversies doesn't come up.  Here we're talking about war, and the moderator is asking about the NFL?  Rice's actions were inexcusable, but we're talking about the life and death of thousands here in war.  That's much more signficant than the NFL.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Football and Injury

I just posted a thread on being out of touch.  One thing I've noted here before, is that I'm really out of touch about sports.  Truly out of touch.


This is the start of the year where high school football becomes a bit deal for a lot of people, and its of course closely followed by parents and siblings who have family members playing football.  That's fine, and to be expected.  It's also the season where old alumni follow the games of their old schools, including high schools, and of course universities.

One of the things I've noted before in regards to this is that the best evidence is that American football has a hideous head injury rate.  Frankly, playing football is very dangerous for youth.  It simply is.  It amazes me, as an observer, how adults will worry a great deal about injury from activities that a person is highly unlikely to be injured at, and not at all from one where the injury rate is high.  I've heard, for example, parents worry about kids becoming interested in shooting sports, but at the same time feel that football is just fine.  A person is much more likely to be injured playing football that shooting or hunting.

I'm not campaigning for something here, but I'm making this post to note that the National Football League has released a study that finds 30% of its players will suffer from Parkinson's or Alzheimer's, with the suggestion being that this is due to game related head injuries. To be fair to the NFL, almost every single player in the NFL was a college player and a high school player before that.

Now, I'm not saying that we should ban high school football, or college ball.  But as a person who is so disinterested in football that I just can't follow a game no matter how hard I try, I have to admit that every time I see a young person I know suited up in a football uniform, it inspires concern in me. 

Seems pretty self evident that the head injuries associated with this sport are a present danger to the players,  and that needs to be addressed right away.  No amount of grid iron glory will seem worth it when a person starts to suffer neurological deficits.

Random Snippets: Out of touch

I've concluded that there's no better way to confirm that you are out of touch than to get a bit of the sports or entertainment news.

Right now, the news is full of stories about a football player, last name of Rice, who was caught on camera beating up the woman who is now his wife (I don't know if they were married at the time). The themes of that is what the NFL should do about that.

Now, I think it's horrible that he beat up his wife or girlfriend, but beyond that its one of those things that actually surprise me that its such big news.  I don't approve of that conduct at all, but what that means, it seems, would self evidently apply pretty much to him and her, and maybe society in general in terms of domestic abuse being horrible and it should be stopped.  But does the NFL as his employer have a unique duty here?  I really don't know why it would, unless every employer does.  That is, if I learn that somebody beat up their spouse, and I honor bound to fire them?  I hadn't thought that I was unless it was on company time.  Maybe this incident was on NFL time?  I don't know.  I do know that in my role as a lawyer I've learned of plenty of reprehensible behavior that I find personally repugnant at all sorts of levels, but unless they were on company time for somebody I hadn't thought that required the person to be fired. Does it?  Does the NFL have a morals clause in its contracts (now nearly a thing of the past)?  I have no idea.

Is this even a football player people have heard of?  I don't know the answer to that either.

Secondly, recently in the news there's been a huge outbreak of female personalities complaining about their private images (you can fill in the details here) being released.  I don't know who most of those people are, although in a couple of instances they're apparently well known singers.  No idea.  Now I've heard their songs, and I'm not impressed.

Likewise, recently the big song of the summer seem to be a song called "Fancy".  Now, I've heard that.  But why is this song so nifty.  Don't know the answer to that either.  For that matter, having listened to it on the radio prior to seeing any images of the songteuse, I assumed, quite incorrectly, that the singer was probably an American, and probably an African American from an urban background, given the accents deployed in the song.  Nope, she's an Australian.  I have to wonder if African Americans find this offensive.  I would. She's co-opted a black musical style and affected an urban African American accent.

Isn't that a little offensive somehow?  Are people offended.  And doesn't that pretty much mean that rap must truly be passe?  No offense to Australians intended, but if young Australian women are carrying the banner for hip hop, the genre has obviously moved on.

Finally, at our house, a movie about the filming of Mary Poppins has been getting a lot of air time. Showing that I'm not just out of touch on current events, but on lots of stuff, I don't have a clue why that would be interesting as a topic.  I've never seen but a few snippets of Mary Poppins, the film, in the first place, and it looks boring.  A movie about it would seem to be doubly boring.

Sunday Morning Scene.

St Peter and St. Paul Orthodox Church, Salt Lake City Utah



From Churches of the West: St Peter and St. Paul Orthodox Church, Salt Lake City, where there's more text on the same.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Scottish Independence?


This upcoming week we may see Scotland acquire something it hasn't had since the 18th Century, that being Scottish independence.  If a majority of Scottish voters vote "yes" on a referendum on September 18, Scotland will resume independent status and the United Kingdom will shrink to just being England and Wales.

Let's hope Scottish voters take a page from the Quebecois and vote "no".  Its a terrible idea.

Yes, the Scots remain a separate culture, but even before de jure unification the Scots, English and Welsh people had been so closely associated with each other, as they would have to be given that they all share a single large island, that the intertwining of their destinies was inevitable.  They've so impacted each other that they are a British people, with separate, but not that separate, national identities.  They further share a common history, and like or it or not, they'll continue to share a common fate as they move forward.   It'll be easier to deal with that fate together, rather than separately.

It'd be a shame to see the United Kingdom cease to be that.  Here's hoping that Scotland remains in it.

Thomas Berger passes

I learned, just tonight, that Thomas Berger, the novelist, died in July at age 89.

Berger was the author of Little Big Man, a great novel and one of my absolute favorite. Even though I'm engaged, slow motion, in trying to write a historical novel (for which this blog is supposedly research), I read very few novels of any kid. But this is a great one.

Most people familiar with this title are probably familiar with the now dated movie.  I like the movie, but in some ways the movie hasn't passed the test of time.  The book, however, certainly has.  It serves the function that the best historical fiction does, acting to illuminate the truth of which the fiction is based.  Its great.

I haven't read any of Mr. Berger's other novels, including the 1999 sequel to Little Big Man, which was well received.  I may read at least that latter novel. At any rate, however, if Mr. Berger had contributed only one book to the American library, Little Big Man would ahve been a great addition.

May he rest in peace.

Repeating History. Learning from the Crusades

I just bumped up the Myths thread, which includes a lot of historical myths.  I thought about adding this one to it, but it deserves its own thread, so here it goes.

 Depiction of the Sarcens outside of Paris in 732. That's right, outside of Paris.  The Islamic invasion of Europe in this early Caliphate stage advanced this far north, which it would do again (outside Vienna) 700 years later.

One of the most often repeated lines about history is George Santayana's observation that "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."  This is often changed to "those who have not learned from history are doomed to repeat it", and similar variants, all of which are true.  Probably something that can be added to that is that those who learn history incorrectly, or who misunderstand history, get to repeat it as well, frequently to their horror.

And so we have the Crusades.

The Crusades weren't called the Crusades at the time that they occurred.  That's a term tagged on them in later years, post Reformation, when they were understood as sort of a singular episode.  Even that understanding isn't really correct, as it seems to assume, quite falsely, that the Church declared war on Islam, and then the Crusades happened, and then they ended.  None of that is really right.  Looking at what really  happened is worth doing, as we didn't learn the history, and now we are in fact repeating it.

The Crusades were once more or less accurately understood, but over the past several decades there's been a lot of hand wringing in the western world about how awful we (Europeans) were, or sometimes how awful the Catholic church was, for picking on the Moslems in the Middle East. That's the current view now, backed up in self-righteous statements people have issued over the years, seemingly assuming that we enlightened folks would never do something like that now, and we just failed to comprehend Islam.  None of that is even close to being historically accurate.

The First Crusade was "called" in 1095.  By that time, however, the Christian world had endured Islamic armed invasion for about 400 years.  The first waive of it had come during Mohamed's lifetime when he expanded his new religion by the sword, taking over the Arabian peninsula in the process.  This lead him into Christian lands, which would remain Christian for decades thereafter, in spite of the invasions, and whose remnants even today still exist.  In the following decades Islam was spread by Arab armies in wars of conquest all over North Africa and into Spain. The Moslems' armies of conquest then spread over the Pyrenees and into France, until Charles Martel arrested their progress, and turned them around, in the Battle of Tours in 732, just mere decades after Mohamed's death.  This arrested the progress of Islam's advance by the sword, all the way up in central France, and the process began of rolling the Islamic tide back in Spain, a process that wouldn't be complete until 1492.

In Middle East, Moslem forces, by the 11th Century, were oppressing the Christian residents of that region, which in many instances constituted the majority of the population and were pressing into the Byzantine Empire.  The Great Schism had not yet occurred, although the differences that would lead to it in culture were starting to manifest themselves, and the Byzantines called for help. The result was the Crusades.

We have tended to view that as some sort of unwarranted invasion for some time, but in reality, in an era when history generally progressed slowly, it wasn't seen that way at all.  It was an armed expedition to help a Christian Ally, the Byzantines, and to protect the Christian population of the Middle East, which was often the majority in any one region, all against an aggressive Islam that was an unwanted and unrelenting invader.  It was seen as a massive existential threat to the region, and to the safety of the Western World.

In other words, the Arab Islamic Armies (and later the Ottoman Turks) were seen pretty much the way we're seeing ISIL right now.  In taking on ISIL, we're pretty much doing what they started doing in the 11th Century.

Well, we might want to quit picking on the Crusaders, I suppose, given that.

And we might want to consider that the defensive wars of the Crusades were initially a success, but ultimately failed.  As a defensive war, they succeeded in arresting Arab Islamic invasion of the Byzantine Empire and in removing Islamic over-lordship of Christian lands.  They no doubt also occupied some Islamic territory as well.  But ultimately, they failed.  The reason is simple.  It wasn't because Europeans were trying to control a foreign culture.  Recent research has shown that the majority Christian population in those regions where they were the majority adapted to the Europeans pretty quickly and even generally welcomed the European immigrants that came along after the armies.  No, what happened is that after the initial successes, the Europeans generally lost interest in the region and when it fell again, viewed it as a far off distant threat.  The threat wasn't even appreciated again until the Turks invaded Anatolia and took Constantinople in 1453.  Ultimately, the Moslem armies would be turned around in Vienna, in 1529.

So what can we learn from this? Well, a variety of things I suppose.  One thing is that before condemning our own culture for taking on a military project, perhaps we ought to consider what they were really thinking and why.  The other may be that when regarding a threat, just because it was in antiquity doesn't mean that it really has fully gone away, but maybe just gone smaller or larger.  The Battle of Tours was 300 years distant from the First Crusades, and 1400 years from the Siege of Constantinople. We're about 500 years from that Siege, and the similar one at Vienna, making us closer in time to those events than Charles Martel was.

I'm not saying that those who have invaded Iraq and who contest for Syria are fully analogous to Mohamed's armies of the 7th Century, nor to the Ottoman Turks of the 15th. But they see themselves that way, and we would be pretty naive to at least not appreciate their world view, and the world view of those faced with similar or at least somewhat similar threats in the distant past, and learn by them.