Monday, August 31, 2015

Monday at the Bar: The Op Ed in the Wyoming Lawyer on the UBE

When we were approaching the UBE I wrote an Op Ed piece for the Casper Star Tribune.  Obviously, my opinion didn't succeed in doing much to stop it.

Since that time we've endured the UBE as the bar exam for Wyoming and started to live with the sour fruits of that adoption.  In this month's issue of the Wyoming Lawyer, the magazine that members of the Wyoming State Bar all receive, an excellent op ed appears regarding how Wyoming lawyers are carrying the freight for the massive increase in out of state lawyers admitted to practice here.

Monday at the bar: New York Times: Too Many Law Students, Too Few Legal Jobs

Too Many Law Students, Too Few Legal Jobs.

The Big Picture: Holscher's Hub: Whittier Harbor, Alaska

Holscher's Hub: Whittier Harbor, Alaska

Monday at the Bar: Courthouses of the West: Town of Jackson, Wyoming Municipal Bulding

Courthouses of the West: Town of Jackson, Wyoming Municipal Building:

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Lex Anteinternet: Lex Anteinternet: Lex Anteinternet: And the band p...

Lex Anteinternet: Lex Anteinternet: Lex Anteinternet: And the band p...: Today the price of oil actually declined below $40/bbl.  This is probably temporary, but how amazing.
And indeed it did prove to be temporary, but perhaps signalling how down in the dumps and perhaps permanent these price depressions may be (as in economic permanent, that is long term), a jump in the price to $45-$47/bbl was due to Saudi Arabia sending troops into northern Yemen in order to keep rebels there from consolidating their forces.  So it's regional instability in the Middle East, with a major oil producer, i.e., the one keeping the price low, that's caused the price to jump.

On the other hand, it turns out that Ecuador has been producing  oil below its cost.  It's oil has been selling for $30/bbl, and they only break even at $39/bbl.  Its crazy for them to sell it at that cost, but there must be some internal economic reason for them to keep selling it at a lost.  In most real free markets, they'd shut their wells in.  Perhaps they will, and indeed, they'll have to, resulting in taking that oil off the market for a time.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

G.K. Chesterton: "He believes in himself"

G.K. Chesterton: "He believes in himself": "THOROUGHLY worldly people never understand even the world; they rely altogether on a few cynical maxims which are not true. Once I rem...

WHEELS THAT WON THE WEST®: Giant Western Freight Wagon Built By M.P. Henderso...

WHEELS THAT WON THE WEST®: Giant Western Freight Wagon Built By M.P. Henderso...: Some things are hard to forget.  To that point, almost twenty years ago, I purchased a book by Don Berkebile entitled, Horse-Drawn Commerci...

 That is one freakin' huge wagon.

Fickle fame

Some recent news items have interestingly portrayed the fickle nature of American fame, and how shallow and vapid it is.  Interesting to watch in progress.

One aspect of American fame is that the same things and personages that raise somebody to fame stand eager to rip them to shreds when they get there.  It'd be easy to say, and potentially correct as well, that having participated in the creation of their image, they are set up for a fall if they don't meet that expectation, but it's a little more than that in my view.

A recent example of that would involve the entire Josh Duggar saga. Now, readers of this blog, and there are darned few, know that I'm not a fan of the Duggars and never have been.  I always thought them a bit odd, or perhaps more than a bit odd, and I've chaffed at the occasional comments that they represent "conservative Christianity".  No they don't, if "conservative" Christianity is meant to include the millions of conservative Christians in the Catholic and Orthodox churches (the majority, fwiw, of Christians on earth), or those conservative Christians in numerous other denominations. No, the Duggars were interesting because they clearly belonged to something akin to a tiny sect, given their dress and lifestyle, and that provided part, but only part, of the fascination.  The remainder of the fascination was based on their just having a big family, something that wasn't unusual in the world until very recently.

Now, the Duggars traded on that fascination and turned it into a television career.  I have a problem with that, although I guess I can't fully blame them. But then, they were perfectly set up to be ripped apart when things went bad, and they did, in a bizarre fashion, mostly due to the icky behavior of Josh Duggar, who turns out to have lived a fairly hypocritical life.

The point isn't to defend him. Registering on a cheaters website is downright icky, in my view (and says a lot about how bizarrely dependant on technology we've become. . . do we need to register to cheat on spouses. . . seriously?).  No, it's just that the same media that made such a big deal out of them, is now ripping them down, and for conduct that it pretty much celebrates in other people (the cheating that is, not the other stuff).

Indeed, it's weird how fickle fame is.  If a public figure of the Duggars type, or a politician, cheats on his spouse, he's pretty much doomed.  Hollywood stars, on the other hand, get a pass and it'll just be passed off as some sort of tragedy for everyone, including the cheater.  Very fickle.

In contrast to this, we  have people who seemingly trade on their good public images for ongoing fame, as they convert their prior lives into one of trouble.  Fame is not only fickle, it's apparently addictive.

We've been given a potential example of that in the story of Bruce Jenner.  Jenner was originally famous for being an Olympic athlete.  Even at that time, fwiw, it seems to me that people speculated on him having same gender attractions, but that's another story.  Later, long after most athletes would be a thing of distant memory, he became famous again for being the second spouse of a family that's become seemingly fasmous for its female members being famous.  Or perhaps appearing on the cover of magazines with very little clothing on.  Now, he has announced as have a gender issue and he's becoming a woman, if a person can changed genders, which our DNA says we may not.

That's been celebrated and he's been announced as some species of hero.  In the meantime, he was involved with a fatal car wreck and will be charged with manslaughter, apparently.  That gets less press.  Odd.

It's particularly odd if we recall that Tiger Woods had a car accident that resulted in endless press attention, in part because he was . . . cheating on his spouse.  

Now, both are athletes, so why does Woods get the negative attention and Jenner does not.  I guess there's the cheating angle again, but Woods never set himself up as a public paragon of virtue (nor did he do the opposite).  Indeed, Woods is a Buddhist and therefore he certainly isn't a Duggaresque figure, although I'll confess I have no idea what the Buddhist position on monogamy is.

For another example, we have the weird story of the constant "look at me" displays by a certain female singer that rose up in the Disney child star factory.  I have problems with that entity in and of itself, but the displays, rather than the bold acts of individualism they're proclaimed to be, are more in the nature of childish spoiled brat displays.  Yet they are both fascinated and gawked at.  A similar meltdown, much less spectacular, has been given to at least one other female actress who ended up in constant trouble with the law, and while on a break from court displayed what she had in the Ossified Freak's journal.  Not so celebrated.  Yet another is just regarded as a pathetic meltdown.  Why is one celebrated and the other pitied?  Who knows.  Perhaps the difference is the degree to which the meltdown is genuine.

Speaking of the Ossified Freak, a young woman who rose to some level of fame as being one of the "girlfriends" of that fellow, which presumably entails certain conduct and to which other titles would have attached in a prior era, went on to marry some sort of athlete and convert that marriage into a television show. Why anyone would care about this sufficiently to watch it is hard to explain.  Following that, that fellow fell into some sort of scandal and now the same female figure is a character on a "boot camp" for troubled marriages.  I'd think that a television camera following you around in these circumstances would be troublesome in and of itself, but there you have it.  But here too, why do we care about this, and why does this sort of weirdness lend itself to a televised following? 

Indeed, that sort of public voyeurism may have been at least partially pioneered when it turned out that a really boring married couple, but one that included a former actress known for her portrayal of a girl in a California upper class high school, took that turn when it turned out that the husband was cheating on her.  He didn't get the Duggar treatment, as after all, he's an actor.  But from there on out there were endless episodes of the wife blubbering.  Heck, they both were cheating on other spouses when they started their relationship, so, D'oh!  But apparently not.  Anyhow, why would a person attempt to trade on that misery for fame?

Perhaps the most famous celebrity meltdown of recent years was the sad tale of Michael Jackson, who rose to fame on his music (which I never liked) but who spent his later years sort of freakishly altering himself.  Very odd and sad, but while the press noted his sad decline, the fame had clearly precipitated it.  So, he essentially was on display as a circus star the entire time. Very odd indeed.

Mid Week at Work: Making Army Cooks

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The lonliness of the Pentax user. . . not even a "dummies" book.

The cold time

Fall has started here.

At night, temperatures are dropping way down.  It's in the 40s in the morning, which means its probably creeping into the 30s up here at night.

I used to love Fall and Spring temperatures, although I have some bad fall allergies.  But now I dread them.  It's not because I dread cold weather, I like it. Rather, it's because my wife is always hot.

I hate air conditioning and I never turn on the swamp cooler in our own house.  But this time of year, I absolutely freeze.  My wife believes it's hot, and throws open all the windows in the house at night.  I can hardly stand the arctic temperatures that result, but there's no explaining to a hot person that your cold. They just won't believe it.

Holscher's Laws of Behavior

Having recently delved into laws of history; we now, without proper qualification or training, delve into sociology.  Well, maybe we actually do have the training, as law is a about analysis and observation, and the law is really just a set of rules.  At any rate, like with history, there are certain laws that govern human behavior.  In some ways, that's probably for the same reason. Certain things are part of our natures, like it or not, and they'll determine how we act, in spite of our best efforts.

The amusing, perhaps, thing about this is that this is so massively ignored, even by sociologists, and we often have a completely wrong idea about ourselves.  I suspect that's part of the reason that so many modern Americans are unhappy in some ways.  We've forced ourselves out of our individual natures.  We'll look at that as one of the laws below

Holscher's First Law of Behavior.  You are going home again.

Thomas Wolfe is famously quoted as having written "You can't go home again.".  I believe that the more accurate quote is "You can't go home again, and stay there."  I'll be frank that I've never read Wolfe's work that this quote comes from, or much of Wolfe at all, so I can't really say how the quote should be taken in context.  The bad thing about pithy quotes is that it's very easy to do that, and loose the meaning that the author intended for it.

Be that as it may, the quote that people like to cite to here, in the context that the quoter makes of it, is completely in error.  Not only can you go home again, you are going to.  At least you're going home again in terms of your basic personality.

From long observation, I'm pretty convinced that everyone's basic personality is set by the time they're about five years old.  Likes, dislikes, intense interests, the whole smash, in some way, is there.  Kids who are outdoorsy at five will be outdoorsy as old men.  If a kid is fascinated with fishing at that age, he'll be fishing when he's 80.  A dedicated reader at five will be at fifty.  Nerdy at 5, nerdy at 95.  And so on.

This is a fact, I think, that's hardly appreciated, but it's there.  I've watched kids who loved one thing or another grow up and continue to love it.  I've also seen those same people suppress something that they loved early on, and suffer for it.

This doesn't mean that people can't learn or develop new interests. They certainly can. But something of that spark of interests is in there very early as a rule, even if it's only really intensely brought out later.

What's also important about this, however, is that a person's real personality can be suppressed, but very often with bad results.  Some people suppress it, to their misery, their entire lives.  Everyone has seen people who are unhappy in a career or occupation, and wondered why. Well, perhaps that accountant saw himself as a kid as a commercial fisherman, and still does.  Perhaps that cubicle dweller wanted to be a forester, and it hasn't left him.  Perhaps that math teacher really loves baseball, and that's all that he thinks about each day.  These things can't be fully repressed.

They can come roaring back, however, and I've seen that from time to time. Every adult knows one or more instances in which somebody in a seemingly solid career up and bolted for something surprising.  I've known, for example of several instances in which successful lawyers suddenly quit and entered the seminary, or in one instance, Rabbinical school.  I doubt that was a simply newly discovered interest, it'd likely been there all along in some fashion.  I've known other instances in which which lawyers became teachers, teachers became lawyers, or successful business people took jobs as poor farm hands.  I've seen a lot of instances in which a person left a rural area for career in business where they accumulated a fair amount of wealth pretty much with the exclusive desire to go back to their original hometown and live the lifestyle of their youth, often when they're too infirm to do so, which they could have done had they never left.  And, most strikingly at all, I've seen people who lived face paced modern lives, focused on careers and wealth where they had abandoned a simpler rural lifestyle and the religion of their youth, struggle with it in middle age, and return to what they had originally been. That really was who they always were.

That doesn't mean that things don't wax and wane, in terms of interest. That's another oddity all to itself.  Some people have genuine intense loves that they slowly loose. But they can come back.  Absent some other sort of degeneration, people who were intensely interested in one thing, to seemingly loose their touch, can suddenly regain it and do.

This also doesn't mean that if a person was a snotty brat at 5 their doomed to a life of snotty bratness, although that can also happen.  Indeed, for some, a  personality trait can become a cross to bear that's lifelong, but still one that can be handled.. Being a brat is more of a personality defect, at least normally.  Just as a person with abominable speech can learn to speak like a gentleman, a snot can learn correct behavior.  No, what we're speaking of here is core personality traits. Those are pretty fixed by about age five.

Holscher's Second Law of Behavior.  "Every man is an actor". . . at least in their late teens and early twenties.

Shakespeare famously observed that the world was a stage and every man played many roles in this lifetime, although that was much more true in his day, before the age of certification, than it is now.*  But what is also true, and what he didn't really mean by this quote, that some (but not all) humans go through an age of assumed personality.  Or perhaps, more accurately, some men do, or more accurately yet, a lot of men do, but not all.  Women do not seem to do this to nearly the same extent, and some young men do this much more intensely than other.  Some young women also do this, which is a bad sign, generally, when they do.

What I mean by this is that, starting at some point in the teens, and that point varies, or even in the early twenties, a lot of young men enter a period of falsehood, but not all by other means.  Many who do, do only mildly, to their credit and unknowing relief.

What seems to bring this on, more than any other things, is the discovery of the opposite sex.  Ideally, people are who they are, and they should be that person. But, many young men become somebody else, slightly or greatly, during this period.  Young women, generally given that they are the pursued, and not the pursuer, do not seem to be as equally afflicted.  When they are, its invariably a very bad sign, as they begin to compromise large sections of their personality or persons, which inevitably leads to some trouble, if that's only an element of personal misery.

For the most part, the way this manifests itself is in acquiring false personality attributes that aren't part of their natural ones.  People develop likes they don't really have, and profess dislikes that aren't really theirs.  Perhaps the most amusing treatment of this (in an adult context) was by essayist Reg Henry, who some years ago wrote an entire column of things that people regard as higher class and how he admired them, such as Guinness Stout, and modern jazz, but how in reality he couldn't stand to actually experience them. That's pretty much the way this works.  Young 20 year old men who are active outdoorsmen suddenly become tofu eating Granolas, boys in their late teens who were listening to light rock suddenly declare that they really like some "alternative" music that a girl their interested in likes.  People see films that they actually despise.  They read Catcher in the Rye and declare they loved it, when in actuality they think the protagonist is a whiny self indulgent Boofadore, and so on.

For the most part, this corrects itself fairly early on.  Suddenly people find themselves again and return to their true selves, as per Holscher's First Law of Behavior, but for some this can become a decades long diversion and problem.  People will take up whole careers and decades of behavior based upon their false personality.  When that occurs, the end result tends to be that they come ripping out of it at some later point.  I've seen it more than once.  Some person who was basically a farm hand at heart, with a conservative religious background, will live the big city television told me what to do life for two or three decades, acquiring material items and living in the glass and concrete jungle.  All of a sudden, one day, they'll up and announce that they're moving into an Amish community and have traded in the Lexus for Percherons, leaving their spouse and children baffled.  But that's who they always were.

Holscher's Third Law of Behavior.  I know why the caged tiger paces.

Everyone has been to a zoo and has seen a tiger pace back and forth, back and forth.  He'll look up occasionally as well, and the deluded believe "look, he wants to be petted," while the more realistic know that he's thinking "I'd like to eat you."  You can keep him in the zoo, but he's still a tiger.  He wants out.  He wants to live in the jungle, and he wants to eat you for lunch. That's his nature, and no amount of fooling ourselves will change it.

It's really no different with human beings.  We've lived in the modern world we've created for only a very brief time.  Depending upon your ancestry, your ancestors lived in a very rustic agrarian world for about 10,000 years, long enough, by some measures to actually impact your genetic heritage.  Prior to that, and really dating back further than we know, due to Holscher's First Law of History, we were hunters and gatherers, or hunters and gatherers/small scale farmers.  Deep down in our DNA, that's who we still are.

That matters, as just as the DNA of the tiger tells it what it wants, to some degree our DNA informs us of what we want as well.  I do not discount any other influence, and human beings are far, far, more complicated than we can begin to suppose, but it's still the case.  A species that started out eons and eons ago being really smart hunters combined with really smart gatherers/small farmers has specialized in a way that living in Major Metropolis isn't going to change very rapidly.  Deep down, we remain those people, even if we don't know it, and for some, even if we don't like it.

This also impacts the every sensitive roles of men and women.  Primates have unusually great gender differentiation for a  mammal.  Male housecats, for example, aren't hugely different from female housecats.  But male chimpanzees are vastly different from female chimpanzees.  Male human beings are as well, but even much more so.

That's really upsetting to some people, but it simply isn't understood.  If understood, this does not imply any sort of a limitation on either sex, and indeed in aboriginal societies that are really, really, primitive there's much less than in any other society, including our modernized Western one.  Inequality comes in pretty early in societies, but some change in condition from the most primitive seems to be necessary in order to create it.  So, properly understood, those very ancient genetic impulses that were there when we were hiking across the velt hoping not to get eaten by a lion, and hoping to track down an antelope, and planting and raising small gardens, are still there.  That they're experienced differently by the genders is tempered by the fact that, in those ancient times, a lot of early deaths meant that the opposite gender had to step into the other's role, and therefore we're also perfectly capable of doing that.  It's the root basic natures we're talking about, however, that we're discussing here, and that spark to hunt, fish, defend and plant a garden are in there, no matter how much steel and concrete we may surround ourselves with.

The reason that this matters is that all people have these instincts from antiquity, some to greater or lessor degrees. But many people, maybe most, aren't aware that they have them.  Some in the modern world spend a lot of their time and effort acting desperately to suppress these instincts.  But an instinct is an instinct, and the more desperately they act, the more disordered they become.

This doesn't mean, of course, that everyone needs to revert to an aboriginal lifestyle, and that's not going to happen.  Nor would it even mean that everyone needs to hunt or fish, or even raise a garden.  But it does mean that the further we get from nature, both our own personal natures, and nature in chief, or to deny real nature, the more miserable they'll become.  We can't and shouldn't pretend that we're not what we once were, or that we now live in a world where we are some sort of ethereal being that exists separate and apart from that world.  In other words, a person can live on a diet of tofu if they want, and pretend that pigs and people are equal beings, but deep in that person's subconscious, they're eating pork and killing the pig with a spear.

Nature, in the non Disney reality of it.

Holscher's Fourth Law of Behavior.  Old standards existed for a real reason.

Not every standards that used to apply to human behavior and institutions needs to be retained for all time, but it's a mistake to believe that they existed at whim.  There's trend, fashion, and fancy, and then there's long term standards.

From time to time, almost every society throws off a bunch of old standards.  When they do that, they usually declare them to have been irrelevant for all time, but they hardly ever are.  They were there for a reason.  Sometimes, they no longer apply, but that's because something deeply fundamental has changed.  Other times, the underlying reason keeps on keeping on and the reason for it tends to be rediscovered, slowly, as if its a new discovery.  People fail to think about the deep basis for standards, the really deep ones, at their behavior.  Again, that doesn't mean that some shouldn't be changed, or should never have come into existence, but even in those rare instances careful thought should be given to the matter so that the basic nature of the underlying error can be understood.

Holscher's Fifth Law of Behavior.  In pop culture, we're always modern and people two or more decades back laughably naive.

A real oddity of human behavior is that people tend to look back as if there was a Golden Age (Holscher's Sixth Law of History) somewhere in the past, while at the same time people think that, in whatever age they currently live, we know everything.  Neither is true.
People look back at all sorts of topics; medicine, science, etc., and laugh at whatever was the current state of the art 20 or 30 years ago, and the applaud whatever we think now, including stuff that's nothing more than a modern medicine show.  Rest assured, a fair percentage of current thought in these areas will be obsolete 20 or 30 years from now.  Interestingly, during the course of that time, it's almost a certainty that some of the old (20+ years back) ideas we're laughing at now, will come back into currency and be current again, replacing whatever we think is now the definitive thought.

Holscher's Sixth Law of Behavior.  A lot of folks believe they live in the worst times ever even if they don't.

Human historical memory is amazingly short.  As a result of that, people often think that they're enduring epic hardship and live in hideous times, even if they do not.

Current times are a good example.  Many people believe the entire world is awash in a sea of massive violence such as the world has never known.  In actuality, things have never been so peaceful. Crime of all types is down all over the globe.  Warfare between sovereign states has almost disappeared.  Civil wars continue to rage on, but not at the level they once did.  

Consider the 1930s and 1940s. For much of that time every major nation was engaged in a war so violent that destroying entire cities was regarded as okay.  Now, if we look at sovereign states  at war we'd find. . . well, only one example.  North and South Korea are in a legal state of war, and have been since 1950, but in which they don't shoot at each other.

Or consider crime.  In the US, in spite of a recent horror, murder, the worst crime, is way, way, way down.  This doesn't seem to make the news, but its' the case.  For folks with long memories, you should be able to recall a time a couple of decades ago in your own neighborhoods where your town was much more violent, because it was.  But most people don't have memories that really stretch back that far.

Holscher's Seventh Law of Behavior.  The curse of the early risers is the late risers.

Every human being on the face of the plant can wake up at any appointed hour of the day at night without an alarm, and without aid. In Western societies, however, most don't.

Rather, a lot of people, completely unnecessarily, rely upon artificial aids.  Alarm clocks, for example.  But, in households were there are multiple people related to one another, it is invariably the case that at least one of those people has not lost the natural ability to wake up whenever the appointed hour arrives.  That person just wakes up, on schedule.

Unfortunately for that person, that person will be tasked with waking up the late risers, those who have suppressed their natural ability to wake up. Everyone in that category believes that they're a joy to wake up, and that they spring from bed in a good mood fully ready for the day.

In reality, however, the people who have to be awakened are about as pleasant to deal with as a badger poked with a stick, who needs a flea collar, and which is having a bad day.

For that reason it is clear that most of the worlds historical baddies actually were just people acting in that state between sleep and getting up.  Stalin, for example, committed all of his real nastiness after Molotov tried to awaken him daily.  "Humph, hmmm.. . .huh?. . . I'm AWAKE, send everyone in Leningrad to the Gulag. . ..ZZZZZZZ"    He probably thought he was a really nice guy.  "Molotov?  Where's everyone in Leningrad today?  Well, I'm out to rescue stray kittens and puppies. . . watch the Kremlin for me."  Or take Attila, the Hun.  "ZZZZZZ. . . . What?, WHAT?  I'm awake!  Sack Europe!. . . .ZZZZZZ".  Later, "Where is everyone?   Todays' the day we we were going to the tea cotillion."

Holscher's Eighth Law of Human Behavior.  People like to be scared.

People like to be scared. Not all people, but probably most people, to some extent, and some people love to be really, really, scared.

That's why people go berserk for things like end of the world predictions based on things like the Mayan calendar.  And it's the same reason that people completely ignore the Biblical injunction against trying to figure out the Last Day (even Christ said he did not know the day nor the hour), and come up with fanciful calculations about when things end.  And it's also why they make the ending as horrific and ghastly as conceivably possible. People like that.

It's probably also why a lot of prognosticators go for the worst possible of all outcomes in anything.  We will,in the future, have recessions and periods of growth, but some folks just love predicting a complete financial collapse.  Take any one hobby or avocation, and some folks are busy predicting its end.  The weird Australian film Mad Max, for example, picked up on that entire theme, starting off with "the last of the V8s," to the undoubted delighted horror of muscle car fans.  There will be a day in which, prognosticators tell us, corn, meat, gasoline, Hello Kitty dolls. . .whatever, will be all gone."

Some things do indeed end, and there's genuine reason to worry about some long term trends or possibilities.  But those are generally amongst the least likely to inspire real panic, as they're not as fun to ponder.

Holscher's Ninth Law of Human Behavior:  Some people would rather preserve options than make a decision, and they can't be compelled to decide no matter what.

 Everyone must make decisions in life, of course.  But not everyone has the same decision making style. Some people are highly analytical, others highly instinctive. Some make decisions based on facts, others on emotions.  Some make decisions rapidly, while others prefer to deliberate slowly.

But there are some people who actually prefer to have options, rather than make decisions at all. For highly decisive people, these people are aggravating in the extreme.

Chances are high that everyone knows somebody like this. Confronted with the necessity of deciding something, they tend to go to a decisive person and lay out the options. The decisive person will decide. Rather than accept it, the other person will set out 27 more options, and go on and on actually past the point where the other person  has committed a decision, with that person usually aggravated in the extreme by that point.

These people like options more than decisions, and are often able to get by on a lot of decisions by not deciding.  Somebody else will end up doing it, usually to the declared surprise of the option lover, who doesn't like having options eliminated, and who has added an other 72 options by the time the decisive person forces a commitment. 

Originally published on June 10, 2013

Holscher's Tenth Law of Human Behavior:  Dulce bellum inexpertis.**  Just because you are fascinated by the portrayal of something doesn't mean you'll like it.

Human beings have a distinct characteristic of being fascinated by portrayals, in written or cinematic form, of events which in reality are horrifically stressful and painful to many who experience the same thing in reality.  In certain instances, portrayals of certain events tend to even glamorize them in spite of their realities, and there's just something about those events which cannot keep them from being somewhat glamorous in portrayal.

War is the classic example.  War has been written about and studied since humans could first write, and war movies are one of the earliest genres of film.  Something about these portrayals touches something so deep in our natures that they glamorize war no matter what.  As more than one sage has noted, even "anti war" films end up glamorizing it.  

Most people would not take that to mean war is nice, but it is still the case that some will in fact confuse their fascination for the topic with a love of all things martial, and then learn when they experience it first hand, they don't like it to their shock.  Indeed, that's a relatively common experience.

War of course is an extreme example, but there's any number of similar things that have the same feature.  People like the depiction of all sorts of stressful events.  One genre, for example, is the courtroom drama.  I've met people who became lawyers due to courtroom dramas (I'm not one of them; I rarely will watch a courtroom drama). They went into law believing that it was excitement and drama because they were excited by cinematic dramas, but in reality they find that it's a lot of stress, to their shock.  A friend of mine who entered the filed due to the written portrayal of lawyers left it a while back, and when I later spoke to this person they were left pretty much with contempt for the profession they were once members of, in a rather extreme example of this path.

Police work is another such example.  People love crime dramas and a lot of people will actually enter police work because of how it is portrayed.  I've met more than one person who specifically cited "CSI" as the formational basis of their career path. But real on the streets police work is hard and depressing, and again I've know more than one policeman who abandoned it, in once case after just barely trying it, when they learned the reality of it felt different than watching it on television.

Of course, this isn't uniform by any means. There are people who love all of these endeavors (there are even people who like fighting in wars), but what this reveals is that there's something about our human natures that causes us to mentally role play stressful situations, and to like doing so, even though in reality we might not like living them.  Chances are this has something to do with our aboriginal past, when listening to the time Ooot Goonk was attacked by a lion for the tenth time armed us mentally for the era when a lion decided we'd be a fun plaything.

Holscher's Eleventh Law of Human Behavior:  Men and women are different.

What?  You're joking, right?  That's obvious.

Well, you'd think so but to a surprising degree people don't really grasp that and occasionally even when they do they want to explain it away to socialization.  It isn't due to that, it's deep in our DNA.

By different, I don't mean that our physical morphology is different, that's obvious.  No, I mean psychologically, and not due to our society or learning or early childhood experience.  We were truly made that way.

For anyone who has spent any time at all on this planet, this would seemingly be obvious, but it's something that some people seriously will dispute.  Indeed, I heard a radio show the other day in which a caller, a university professor (without children, which is probably critical to his delusion) argue, in spite of being married, that gender differences were entirely due to socialization.  Baloney.

We're all in the same species, to be sure, and as human beings we share more than we are different, but there are deep differences in the psychological make up of men as opposed to women.  Over time, this has been very much supported by the sciences of biology and evolutionary biology.  Men and women handle stress differently, with women generally handling it better than men.  The anger and return to norm curves are significantly different in men and women. Women generally have better language skills than men (which isn't to say that there aren't those with good language skills in both genders).  Women also tend to see shades of color more distinctly than men, which isn't really a psychological aspect of our beings but  which is related to it in that color perception is processed in the brain.

And whether we like to admit it or not, just watching a group of men and women over time will demonstrate a significant difference in what they generally like as amusement.  In spite of all the efforts to create a different situation, women do generally like personal relationship dramas much more than men, and men tend to like stories of violence more than women (see the Tenth Law of Human Behavior above).  

Again, all this goes back to our primitive pasts and the different roles men and women played in that past. This doesn't mean that we must recreate and be frozen in the roles, but it does mean that we have a certain mental makeup and which it serves us to be aware of.

Holscher's Twelfth Law of Human Behavior:  Logic isn't the default decision maker for a lot of people.

This is another one of those items which sounds like criticism, but it isn't.  The fact of the matter is that not all human beings come to decisions in the same manner, even though we tend to act as if they do.

Indeed "logic", the process of analytical thinking, is not the default means of decision making for most people. That shocks and even frustrates those who do engage in analytical logical thought, as they presume, logically, that everyone makes their decisions that way.  For professions where their occupants think logically, either by nature or training, this can be particularly frustrating, as these professions are problem solving by nature, and its hard to grasp why a person will not grasp the solution derived for them.

The reason they won't is that people quite commonly make their decisions by emotion and world view, which are powerful factors indeed.  They're so powerful that they can operate to the detriment of a person in certain stressful situations and are very difficult for an individual to overcome.  Indeed, a failure of a person's view to prevail when based on these factors is often extraordinarily frustrating to them with anger being the common byproduct.

As an example, I've seen on multiple occasions where a party in litigation has a certain view of things, based upon what they internally believe or feel, or both.  They very often believe that because they feel and believe that way, that everyone who is informed as to their feelings and belief will adopt that view as well. They typically start off with the "just explain" position, not realizing that their opponent is probably locked into a similar method of arriving at a conclusion, and when that explanation does not convince the opponent, they become convinced the opponent is acting out of malice.  In a broader sense, just looking around at large political issues, from a logical prospective, can provide many examples where people act out of a deeply felt belief, rather than logic.

This can be extremely problematic, as with genuine problems, a logical solution is very often the only workable solution. But the fact that most human beings don't make their decisions that way routinely, and almost all people don't base all their decisions on logic, is part of our natures and probably a good thing.  Taken to its extreme, those who advance their aims in society or personally solely on logic can actually be destructive, as they fail to recall that this isn't how most people perceive the world.  Indeed, people who listen only to economics, for example, reduce the world to a logical construct which almost no human being actually appreciates or wishes to live in.  We're a rational animal, to be sure, but an emotional one as well.

Holscher's Thirteenth Law of Human Behavior:  The measure of the utility of something is how well it accomplishes a task, not how new it is.  Nonetheless, people tend to go with the new, even if less useful.

People tend to believe that they adopt new technology or implements because they are better or more efficient than what came before them.  Very often they are. But they aren't always.  Nonetheless, the new tends to supplant the old, simply because its new.

There are plenty of examples of this.  Some old tools and old methods accomplish any one job better than things that came after them, and some things remain particularly useful within certain condition or niches.  Nonetheless, it takes educating a person to that to keep those older things in use, because they are, well. . . older.

Holscher's Fourteenth Law of Behavior.  Democratic behavior is the small scale human norm, and the large scale human exception.

Americans are so used to the ideal of democratic thought that they believe, in their heart of hearts, that all people everywhere will behave in a democratic fashion.  They will, but only on a very small scale.

People instinctively behave democratically in small groups, and probably always have.  With a group of your immediate friends and neighbors, everyone generally gets a vote.  In a tribal society, which is the human default norm, everyone is your friend, neighbor and relative anyhow, and that's how tribal societies act within themselves.  Plains Indians were highly democratic, for example, with no real "chiefs" like movies like to pretend their were.  Germanic tribal war raiding bands were democratic.

The problem is that tribes aren't democratic in a larger society, they remain tribal. Tribes are xenophobic, or even violently hostile, to other groups outside the tribe. 

Overcoming that is hard to do, but that's what has to be done to even create a nation state.  If people don't become more loyal to their nation, than their tribe, the nation ultimately fails under stress.  And going the next step, and making it so all those people of different backgrounds can accept majority rule, is really tough.  

It's also learned behavior, and even in democratic nations if sufficient stress exist, some people will fall back into tribalism. Criminal gangs are actually just types of tribes, as a rule, recognizing only themselves and finding value only within the tribe.  Overcoming this type of behavior is a matter of constant education for a democratic society, until it become so ingrained that people are taught it by the circumstances of them simply living within the society.

Holscher's Fifteenth Law of Behavior. The Hot People are the curse of the Cold People.

Some people have a temperature or metabolism or something that makes them feel hot all the time. These people absolutely believe the rest of the world feels the exact same thing.

In spite of complaints and reactions, the hot people will throw open windows in cold weather or turn on air conditioners when everyone else in the same locality is shivering.  If a compliant is lodged, they'll complain "people are hot in here!".  No, people aren't, just the Hot Person is, but as that's how they perceive the world, everyone in the world must feel that same way.

Date 10th, 11th, and 12th Laws added:  June 13, 2014.  Thirteenth added July 7, 2014. Fourteenth November 26, 2014.  Fifteenth added on August 23, 2015.

*The full quote is:
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
 ** Roman proverb.  "War is sweet to those who have not experienced it".

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

Churches of the West: St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Sheridan Wyoming:

This is St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Sheridan Wyoming.

I don't know anything about the history of this Church, although I would note that it has a very English appearance. At one time, there was a substantial English expatriate population in Sheridan, which may have influenced the design of this attractive church somewhat.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Recalling the WC-56/57

The World War Two vintage Dodge WC 56/57 series of vehicles are among my all time favorites.

I've certainly never owned one, and I haven't even seen one for sale. And outside of World War Two, they weren't around long.  They're just neat.  Based on the WC truck frame, they were bigger than the Jeep, but not too big. Almost the ideal size.

Which is what make this Jeep concept car so neat.

It's obviously a shout out to the WC 56.

I know that they're not going to make it. But I wish they would.


Friday, August 21, 2015

Lex Anteinternet: Lex Anteinternet: And the band played on. . .well ...

Today the price of oil actually declined below $40/bbl.  This is probably temporary, but how amazing.

Vehicle comparison and contrast

Model A, downtown Casper, which somebody has recently been using as a daily driver.

 SUV belonging to Jackson Hole, which notes that it runs on vegetable (I hate the diminutive "veggie") oil.  This vehicle must be a diesel. Why, exactly, burning vegetable oil is more "green" than diesel fuel, as both are oils, somewhat escapes me.  It must be because you don't drill for vegetable oil, or that its recycled vegetable oil.  Well, unless it was carrying a bunch of vegetable oil with it, or it gets really good mileage, it must be able to burn diesel too.

Some days when you read the news. . .

and things seem so uniformly grim, all bad news, and everything you are and like to do being pointed at in some negative way. . . it serves to remember that, at anyone time, the news is always bad.  But only prospectively.  Some bad news gets worse, but most doesn't, and most grim things never happen.

Random Snippets: Chesterton on nature

The main point of Christianity was this: that Nature is not our mother: Nature is our sister.

G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Friday Farming: Lex Anteinternet: Lex Anteinternet: UW Foundation intent on cashing-...

The marketing brochure for the Y Cross Range:  Y Cross.

Pretty, ain't it?

And at $25,000,000, that's a pretty penny.  I'll bet that went to somebody serious about raising cattle for a living, eh?

We recently ran this item on the University of Wyoming and Colorado State University, football rivals but land sale allies:
Lex Anteinternet: Lex Anteinternet: UW Foundation intent on cashing-...: This past week the respective Wyoming and Colorado university benefactors (or actually the Colorado one, in what I read) of this substantial...
Following up on this, we now read the following on the on line Oil City News that the sale has been made. the News reports:

(Cheyenne, Wyo.) – The University of Wyoming Foundation and Colorado State University Research Foundation have completed the sale of the Y Cross Ranch, setting the stage for significant long-term funding of scholarships and internships for agriculture students.
This sale is explained in the following fashion:
“This is a very exciting development for students and faculty in agriculture and the related natural resources at UW,” says Frank Galey, dean of UW’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “The proceeds will provide them with tremendous opportunities and experiences in an industry of utmost importance to Wyoming and its people.”
UW will apparently make $10,000,000 on the sale, which will yield, it is claimed, $400,000 in annual returns.  CSU probably comes out about the same, of course.  Some real estate agent has a fair payday too, of course.

It should also be a warning to anyone who donates a specific item without a specific instruction on how it is to be used restricting the use of, or burdening if you will, the gift.  This problem is a fairly common one for donations, and it's common for the donor to assume that the recipient will keep and maintain the gift, when often the recipient has no obligation to.  In this case, the example is both spectacular, and very sad.  While the universities were found to have a legal right to do this, shame on them.  And for anyone thinking of giving either of them funds for anything, in any department, this ought to be recalled.

Of interest is this quote from former Wyoming Jim Geringer:
If the two universities could have been more effective with the money than the ranch, the donor would have sold the ranch herself, at a much better price, and given the cash directly to the universities. She saw higher value in what the ranch and its operations could pass along to students for many generations. Instead, the boards of trustees envisioned a bank account without a soul. Neither university should be run as a profit center. Rather, they should endow the passing of the heritage and values of what makes our two states unique. For us I say. Wyoming is what America was – and what America ought to be. So – trustees: you violated your very title. Trust is never taken. Only you can give it away. And you did. In biblical terms, you sold it for a mess of pottage.
Also of interest is this recent, pre sale, quote by one of trustees of one of the two universities' foundations:
We have always taken our commitment to stewardship very seriously, and we will continue to do so by marketing the ranch for sale in a deliberative and transparent process open to all potential buyers for an outcome that will be a tremendous benefit to students at both institutions"
I can't say that the sale hasn't been transparent, but according to the news reports the universities were not disclosing the identify of the purchaser. According to an informal organization opposing the sale, the purchaser is a Press L III, LLC.  A net search doesn't reveal a "Press L III, LLC" as having a net presence, and it isn't a registered Wyoming entity with the Wyoming Secretary of State. It'll be interesting to see what this outfit intends to do with this large block of Wyoming ranch land and if that squares with their role as a "steward".  I have grave concerns about this, but we will see.

Donors, beware.  UW, shame on you.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Slaves and Objects

I've run a series of items recently that have been probably somewhat calculated to offend. Well, as some say, if you aren't offending somebody with your commentary, you are probably doing no good.

The first of these would be the one that dealt with the decline in the standard of dress.  The second one had to do with how women are increasingly treated like objects.  Whether these topics offend or not, they apparently do interest people, as the the dress story, for example, had way more hits in a day than most of my entries here every have, ever.  It isn't in the top ten list yet, but if the trend continues, it might make it.

The reason that some might find these offensive is that people don't like to be told what to wear, they don't like being told how to behave, they don't like being told that something they're doing may be having a negative impact on others, and people generally don't like bad news if they're somehow participating in it.  I haven't received any negative comments so far, but most people don't comment anyhow.

Okay, so that's how I probably offered offense.

Now, I'll increase the offense, going back specifically to my comments on viewing women as objects, and how marketing and magazines have caused us to do that.  I'm going to relate that behavior as being in the same category as what ISIL is doing to women in Iraq and Syria.

And what is that?

Well, mass assault and the most primitive horrific slavery imaginable.  Field hands in the Old South were subjected to horrors no less unimaginable to what is happening to non Muslim women in those suffering lands.

Now, no doubt, up in arms, people are saying "are you saying that's the same thing as my buying Old Ossified Freak's Rag?

No, I'm not, but I'm saying that those rags swim in the same pool.  Maybe in the shallow end, but in the same pool nonetheless.

Hugh Ossified Freak's genius in taking what was clearly trash and marketing it as something that should be a male dominated norm managed basically to enormously expand the over the tracks part of the mental city, so that all girls ended up living there to some extent.  Prior to the publication, there were women in the occupation of vending their services, but over time, Hugh put them all there, except even the market place aspect of that exchange disappeared, and it became an expectation, wanted or not.  When that occurs, the value indeed is gone, and we've seen the results.  Women not only have been personally objectified in this fashion, but now their image is everywhere, offering the same, in support of the sale of everything.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his adherents share that view, except that their view of their right of expectation is modified to include only non Muslim women.  They're acting physically on their view, over thousands of non Muslim women in the region, and as we now know al-Baghdadi himself did so with American Kayla Mueller. The Mueller story is tragic in the extreme, but it's shared by numerous nameless women and girls who have been reduced to slavery by their ISIL masters.

The common thread here is how these women are viewed.  In spite of its claims to later be in the forefront of "liberation" of women, Hugh's rag held them out, and still holds them out, as toys for men.  Any man who bought the magazines was entitled to view the women featured in them in the same physical fashion that ISIL's combatants view non Muslim women.  Indeed, the secular Hugh was offering a paper variant of what the religious ISIL combatants feel that they will gain in the next world, and endless supply of exactly what's portrayed in the magazines.  Indeed, a critical element of those magazines is that their portrayal, at least at first, did not portray the subjects as fallen, as prior magazines had, but rather the opposite. Special, in more ways than one, just for you.  

The sole real distinction, therefore, is that the creepy ossified purveyor of the print version of this view in the United States, and now around the globe, takes a violently secular view of things.  He's hedonistic and in it for right now, and his justification for the objectification is accordingly not only thin, but darned near non existent.  It's the most primitive justification imaginable, "I'm a man and I get what I want."  Al-Baghdadi and his adherents, however, justify their violence in this area upon the Koran, which, no matter what its apologist may claim, specifically allows the campaigning Islamic fighter to do just what they're doing, take slaves and do what you will with them.

Now, I'm not claiming, anywhere, that the majority of people who have shoved cash at Hugh all these years have done something intentionally to enslave women. But I am saying that the impact of it is wrong and it serves to reduce them to objects.  I'm also not saying that the majority of Muslims now, or at any time, have held this view about assault. Indeed, I'm confident that even in the periodic episodes of violent Islamic expansion, most don't.  But I am saying that this stuff is going on right now, and that its symptomatic of a view of women that's simply intolerable in this or any other age.  And, by extension, if this sort of conduct bothers a person, they ought to act up on that, whatever that means for them personally.

Lex Anteinternet: And the band played on. . .well maybe not so much

Earlier this week we ran this:
Lex Anteinternet: And the band played on: In Saturday's Tribune an article appeared noting, again, the loss of over 3,000 oil industry jobs in Wyoming, and a 50% reduction i...
Yesterday, however, Governor Mead sang a different tune, and one that wasn't nearly so rosy.  We have to given him credit for that.

Mead, in a press conference flaty stated that Wyoming is entering a "difficult period" and that the State may need to consider tapping into its "rainy day" funds. For those who might not be aware of what those are, they're funds that the state specifically puts aside for stressed times.

Governors do not, to my recollection, ever suggest this. That's truly a dramatic statement for a sitting Governor, indicating just how dire the state's condition may be.  That Mead would suggest considering it speaks very much in his favor, as this has tended to be something that simply isn't discussed.  Reactions to the Governor's speech have been generally favorable, although there's no present support for actually tapping into the funds.  Mead, of course, wasn't requesting to do so right now, only indicating that it might become necessary.

Today In Wyoming's History: August 18. You can take the chicken out of the town. . .

Today In Wyoming's History: August 18:

1813         Battle of the Medina River at which Royalist forces defeat Mexican-American Republican Guetierrez-Magee Expedition south of Sa...


2015  Casper's city counsel votes to allow chickens to be kept in the city, by a vote of seven to one.

Random Snippets: Red sky in the morning

Red sky in the morning, sailor take warning.
Red sky at night, sailor's delight.

Seafarer's adage.

Like a red morn that ever yet betokened, Wreck to the seaman, tempest to the field, Sorrow to the shepherds, woe unto the birds, Gusts and foul flaws to herdmen and to herds.

Shakespeare,  Venus and Adonis

The Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to put him to the test they asked if he would show them a sign from heaven.  He replied, 'In the evening you say, "It will be fine; there's a red sky," and in the morning, "Stormy weather today; the sky is red and overcast." You know how to read the face of the sky, but you cannot read the signs of the times.

Matthew, Chapter 16, Versus 2 through 3.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Big Careers. Monetary Nomads

I went to a deposition the other day at which, upon its conclusion, the other lawyer, whom I really don't know, told me about what all of his adult children were doing career wise.  He was obviously very proud, and had reason to be. They all had advanced degrees or were working on them, and they were all in high paying careers. Even the one who was working on an advanced degree still was presently in a high paying career, and no doubt set for an even higher paying one.

Now, this deposition took place in a law office in a Wyoming city, the largest of which is still only a mid sized, at best, Mid Western city.  I note this as its an interesting feature of Wyoming life, and perhaps of American life in general, that people are from somewhere, but of nowhere. And in the West and Midwest, it seems a common progression is from lower middle class, to professional class, to "you have got to get out of here and make a big career" class.  That strikes me as odd.

Perhaps it strikes me as odd as I'm one of that collection of Wyoming natives, not uncommon  here, who has that attitude expressed in the film variant of Doctor Zhivago, in response to the comment by Komarovsky to Laura when Zhivago is late leaving for the train out that "He'll never leave Russia".  Zhivago, we're made to understand, is so Russian, and loves Russia so deeply, indeed is so much apart of Russia, that he can't leave it.  A section of Wyomingites are like that, and I'd put myself in that category.  When I was young and contemplating careers, although I did ponder a career in the Army, I never really considered anything that would have separated me from Wyoming permanently or at least, given economic realities (which I was more realistic about back then, than I am now), which would have separated me from the greater Rocky Mountain Region.  I would not have even considered moving to Denver, which is a big city in the Rocky Mountain Region.  I guess that's just a pronounced part of my character.

As I've grown older, and of course as I've worked for what is now a very long time as a lawyer, I've traveled a lot.  That's something I was frankly very much unaware that lawyers did. This year alone I've been to Toronto, Tampa, Santa Fe, Anchorage, Denver and other distant localities.  There's more travel to come.  But in spite of that, my view hasn't really changed.  Indeed, I feel a lot like the guy who runs the Old Picture of the Day blog, where he notes:
I grew up in West Texas, and could not wait to get away. I got away, and went to the University of Texas, and then on to Stanford. I saw the world, and decided what I really wanted was to be in West Texas. So here I am, right back where I started. I had it all, and found it was not that great.
I'm not quite that jaded.  But I never wanted to get away either, and I can't say that I've ever "had it all".  I can say that I haven't gone far from where I started.  My observation here is, however, that I'm not sure why so many do and why that's a measure of success, unless a person measures success only in money, which is a very shallow measuring glass.

Now, I can understand why some do, as some people's passion, vocation, avocation, or at least their interest, mandate that. If a person loves, for example, high finance, they're gong to a location where you can do that sort of thing.  I've known people who loved military life, and indeed as noted I contemplated such a career at one time, and of course that means going where you are sent, and always has.  A person can given any number of such examples.

But the one I really don't quite grasp is the one in which people have followed a dollar sign career, and let them take them wherever.  Indeed, I don't quite understand why some people seemingly undertake no further analysis than that.  It's quite common.  I've met lots of people who move from one large city to another, due to their career, and its quite clear that only the dollar aspect of matters to them.  They form weak attachments to everyone and everything, except their pay.  And I've met more than one person, and this is common with Wyoming ex-pats, who leave to pursue an education, get a job, and then work in big cities, only to return when their career is over and they are old, claiming they missed the state the entire time.  Well, then, why did you leave? And if that thing was so important to you, should you have come back?

The worst examples I find are when people move some place which is nearly incomprehensible to grasp the attraction to.  In some instances, I find some people stating that "I hate this city, but . . . ".  But what?  I love money, and I could live anywhere for that?  I guess.  I fairly recently had a conversation with a very successful, by monetary standards, lawyer who told me about his youth in the Mid West, how he went to our state frequently, but as his career was based in a Gigantic City Elsewhere, which he did not like, he must stay there. Thirty to Forty years of commitment based, apparently, on cash.  He sounded depressed about it.

Some of this must absolutely be me.  And I worry about it. I'm probably a bad example to my kids, as I just don't think some of these worldly achievements mean very much.  In that fashion, I guess, I'm more in tune with the Gen Xers than the Boomers.  But then that's how my father was too.

This isn't, I should note, an argument for poverty.  When I take the depositions of men who came up from Chihuahua to work in the oilfields, I know why they came and understand it.  Rather, however, it's the seeming belief, so common in American life, that upwards mobility means that some generation must live in a series of huge cities and base their value on a paycheck that I don't grasp.  It seems hollow to me.

Hilaire Belloc: Land-Tenure in the Christian Era

Hilaire Belloc: Land-Tenure in the Christian Era: THE way in which land has been held or owned during the nineteen hundred years which have seen in Europe the rise and establishment of the C...

Mid Week At Work: British soldiers gathering oats, 1917

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Returning Women to the 1st Century BC

 A slave girl in holiday attire, Chinatown, San Francisco
 Chinese slave girl, early 20th Century, in San Francisco.  Slavery was long abolished at this point, but cultural slavery is a harder thing to crack.

And no, I don't mean the recent news of the horrors being perpetrated by ISIL, although I should comment on those somewhere in this blog.

Rather, I recently posted an item on standards of dress, and when I did that, I briefly touched on this topic. While I'm sure that there are those who will vehemently disagree with me, after having observed it for some time, I'm fairly convinced of the following. The result of what started off as an effort to "liberate" standards to the benefit of women has, in the Western World, returned them to the status they were in during the 1st Century BC, chattel for men.

Sound radical, I suppose it is, but that's what's happened, to some degree. 

I think in part the reason for that is that it's become, in modern times, and by that I generally mean anything after 1900 or so, a standard accepted theses that the bounds of "liberty" are ever expanding to everyone's benefit. Well, they quit doing that for women during the last 40 years, and that's a bad thing. To add to it, however, the thesis of ever expanding beneficial liberty was flawed to start with.

That thesis essentially is grounded in a relativistic thesis that all standards are bad and are simply negative social constructs.  In the case of women, the the assault on them came from the supposed concept, or at least the stated one, that they were shackled to roles determined by males, and that by liberating them from them, they'd achieve fulfillment.

That thesis was pretty flawed in the first instance.  Men and women are more than a little "shackled" by what is now an equally unpopular idea, biology, and the history of the last 70 years has shown that.  Men and women remain, at the end of the day, men and women, and much about what we want in life is determined by that.  We were evolved in a certain fashion, and while we're rational scientist intelligent animals, we're still a product of our early nature.  We can act contrary to it, but the drive to do what we were evolved to do will always be there, and just as a tiger wants to be in the jungle, not in a cage, those drives will make us unhappy if we try to excessively suppress them.

Any social change that ignores basic evolution and biology is doomed to produce a bad result, at least in part, and likewise any such change that is ignorant of real conditions and their history is going to be dangerously based on false premises. That's what's happened here, so that's what we'll start with.

It's popular to present the theory that, in the 1970s, a Women's Liberation movement got women out of the home and (back) into work.  That's partially correct, as we'll see. But added to that is the idea that women were being kept down  by Victorian social standards that were basically designed to repress them, and everything about those standards, from a woman's role in marriage, to their role in work, to their personal conduct, was sort of a result of a conspiracy by men, probably upper class men, but men in general. That's where the theory went off the rails, and in some ways that's created the very real problems that women face today, including their return to objectification.

We've written on this history before, and as that post was quite extensive, we'll just refer to it here. Suffice it to say, we feel that the entry of women and the increasing equality of women in the workplace is an economic and technological story, and that the supposed societal element to it was merely following that, not leading it at all.  Like we said at the time, it was Maytag, not World War Two, that took women out of the home and into the workplace.

Rosie the Riveter, in popular myth she blazoned the trail out of the home and into the office.  But that trial had already been taken by her mother during World War One.

 The Women's Land Army.  Organizations like this put women in the role of the farmer in the US, UK, Canada and France during World War One.  They were also in the factories during the war, and even on the front in the form of nurses.  Among the Western Allies the roles open to them in labor were about as broad as they were during World War Two, although this was less the case with military roles, save for Imperial Russia which saw the symbolic deployment of the Women's Battalion of Death just before the imperial regime collapsed.

So lets just skip to the 1950s and on.

We know that by the 1950s, it was no longer economically necessary to have the division of labor that had existed prior to that time.  Indeed, technologically, that division wouldn't have been necessary in the 1930s, but the Great Depression retarded the inevitable and kept a lot of technologies of all kind from entering into use. So when the changes came on, they came on pretty fast, as it was basically the case that 20 years of very real technological change, accelerated by the advance of technology and its deployment during World War Two, came on all at one.  That would have been bound to be disruptive to some extent.

But the 1950s were not, in any event, the really conservative Happy Days type of society that television has popularized. Societally, after the foment of the 1920s and the extensive political and societal liberalization caused by the Great Depression and World War Two, the country was actually much more politically and societally liberal than it is now typically remembered.  A whole host of conditions therefore combined to put women into work, and into college.  This isn't to say that everything changed overnight, which is never true.  But, we can say that society has acclimated to having women in the workplace, and since about 1920 or so, advances in domestic machinery essentially necessitated a redeployment of the female demographic into a different role in labor.

So far, so good, right? Well, basically yes.  In economic terms, the domestic machinery revolution that occurred in the first half of the 20th Century meant that women didn't have to occupy a domestic role if they didn't want to, and coincidentally made it easier for men and women to live singly, something that had heretofore been pretty difficult.

So, given that, we can imagine a progression from 1950 forward with women entering the workplace relatively seamlessly.  And, that's been part of the story.  Indeed, a bigger part of that story would tend to be that the liberal movements of the late 60s and 1970s may very well have had little to do with what was an economically driven process in any event  And it would appear clear that, for the most part, most women never fully accepted the thesis that the Women's Liberation movement advanced on a truly genderless society (a thesis which was interestingly very close to Marxist social thought from the teens forward, in theory but not practice).  So, what's my point.

Well, as this occurred, and wrapped up in it to an extent, an anti female social movement based upon economic gain and a pharmaceutical revolution came at the same time, decaying what had been a social and economic evolution, and confusing people on all of it.

Here too, we'll jump back and go forward through these things.

I"m going to be a bit vague on some of these details, intentionally, from here on out, as I don't want to popularize what I'm condemning.   If that makes it a bit confusing, and I don't think it will, well oh well.

The first element of this was the introduction of a publication that was slickly marketed.

Magazines featuring photographs of women are about as old as magazines. But starting in the very early 1950s, a clever fellow working for one of the older magazines conceived of a new marketing strategy for them.

Prior to this period, there had been such rags, but they were sort of gutter marketed. That is, they knew what they were, and the market to which they were pitching. Vice was part of their appeal. During World War Two, however, that altered a bit as one of the magazines that existed at that period improved its production values, and another came out marketed directly to soldiers.  Those elevated the standards of the magazines a bit. At the same time, the removal of millions of young men from their homes and the influence of their communities operated to lower moral standards anyhow, and that found its expression, among other things, in the exaggerated illustrations of women on one thing or another, principally aircraft (you don't go around painting bright images on combat vehicles, as a rule, as you don't want to draw attention to them if at all possible).  Coincident with that, that illustration style became popular in the above mentioned media, making the next step that was taken perhaps not as revolutionary as some have suggested.

Indeed, it definitely wasn't as revolutionary, as the common claim is that this fellow invented the medium, which simply isn't true at all.  Rather, the medium existed and had changed, but he perceived that and put out a new publican which was very slickly marketed.

The really slick part of the marketing aspect of it, more than anything else, is that it presented an image which suggested that a man didn't need to hide the magazine, and that this represented the life of the affluent male.  Very clearly part of that, the affluent male could have as many (top heavy) women as he wanted, without committing to them at all, and without fearing that they'd get pregnant or have demands.

This is, we'd note, completely contrary to the later myth about the publication, because the gist of it was massively anti woman.  In later years, following the 1960s really, the publication would claim that it was in the forefront of the liberation of women because, it claimed, it had liberated them to act up their desires.  Complete bull.  The entire publication was (and remains) entirely male-centric and male self centered. Women don't count in the calculation at all, are only toys.  The women in the earlier rags weren't really toys, but rather were fallen, something else entirely.

The publication became a huge hit, but it didn't really create a real revolution in and of itself, and it never would, contrary to what has otherwise been claimed by it. Rather, it's one piece in the overall puzzle.  It was corrosive, but not sufficiently corrosive to corrode things completely on its own.

What assisted that was the introduction of pharmaceuticals that operated to allow the conduct urged by the publication in the manner in which the publication portrayed it, without potential immediate biological consequence.  That came on and really did change the calculations, and it brought women over, to an increasing degree, to the conduct that men like the now ossified freaky publisher urged.

Now, I know that this sounds like a moral text, and it doesn't really intend to be.  A person could take this from there, but that's now what we'll do, rather, we play this story's history out in another direction.

As the conduct became more and more common, what also became more and more common is the portrayal of women in this fashion. Now its epidemic.  We've seen piles of advances for women in society, but we now also see young women who advertise themselves as nothing other than object. They've effectively reduced themselves, in some instances, to a class which hasn't existed in our society ever, the object.

This is an indescribably bad development.  No human being should be an object.  Most of us have to sell our labor, but nobody should have to sell themselves.  But some young women effectively act as if they believe they have to, and the massive societal message is that they do.  And as long as some are, they all will be to some extent.  Nobody should be an object, and nobody should want to be one.