Monday, January 28, 2013

Railhead: Arminto Wyoming

Recently I received some interesting comments on my post on the Railhead blog on Arminto Wyoming.  The link to it is here:
Railhead: Arminto Wyoming: This is what is left of the sidetrack at Arminto Wyoming, and of a hotel along the rail line, which was located where the grove of t...
The comments were from a former resident of Arminto who lived there in the commentor's youth.  The first hand recollections are very interesting as to what the town was like at that time.  As people familiar with the town know, it's  mere shawdow of its former self today, and is even less now than what it was when I was in my late teens in the early 1980s.

This provides a really interesting example of how the fortunes of a town can rise and fall. Arminto was once the busiest sheep shipping point on Earth. Not in the US, but on the planet.  Now the sheep are mostly gone, and the town is mostly gone as well.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Field Bread from The Joy of Field Rations

As it looked interesting, Marcus tried the field bread recipe that's found on the Joy of Field Rations Blog.  Here you see the results.  It came out very well, and it's good tasting bread.

I make soda bread from time to time in a Dutch oven, a type of bread that's sometimes called "Sheepherders Bread" as sheepherders make it (or at least used to) by preparing the recipe and then putting it in coals over night.  Soda bread, of course, doesn't use any yeast, and I've never had the slightest bit of luck cooking with yeast, outside of a bread maker.  It wouldn't really have occurred to me that anyone would attempt to bake yeast bread out in the boonies, but following the recipe, he did something I've never been able to, which is to make some very tasty yeast bread.  This recipe, if you follow the instructions and cooking method found on the Joy of Field Rations blog, would be very suited to a similar cooking method, as you could leave the mess kid tins in the coals overnight, although given that they are Aluminum, a person would have be quite careful about that.

Part of the purpose of this blog, as the very few readers are aware, it to explore topics of the turn of the previous century, and as we're looking into Punitive Expedition themes, this proved to be a topical project.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Holscher's Hub: The Conversion of St. Paul

Holscher's Hub: The Conversion of St. Paul: The Conversion of St. Paul by Caravaggio. January 25 is the memorial of the Conversion of St. Paul, so I'm posing this (public domain...

Thursday, January 24, 2013

January 24. St. Francis De Sales

Painting of St. Francis de Sales, public domain in the United States.

Today, January 24, is the memorial day on the Roman calendar of Saints for St. Francis De Sales, the patron of writers.

St. Francis, 1567-1622, had started off studying law, but his hear lay elsewhere, and he became a cleric, ultimately rising to be a Bishop. In that capacity, he was also a writer, and one whose books remain both highly readable, and in print today.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

When Prohibition Ended

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1933 vintage Budweiser advertisement.

Prohibition didn't actually end in Wyoming in 1933, that was the national repeal of the Constitutional prohibition on the manufacturing and distribution of alcohol.  3.2 beer was allowed in Wyoming in 33, and full repeal of the state ordinance concerning prohibition came in 1935.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Wyoming State Archives: John Sparks photo

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With the extreme cold outdoors, we hope everyone is safely tucked indoors. Or if you must venture out, that you are as well equipped for the cold as Mr. John Sparks seemed to be.

Sparks was born in Mississippi in 1843. Rumor has it that he joined the Texas Rangers in 1861 to avoid being drafted into the Confederate Army. After the war ended, Sparks saw opportunity in the cattle business and drove several herds North out of Texas. In 1873, he purchased his own herd and trailed them to Chugwater, Wyoming, where he established a ranch. In 1874, he sold the outfit to the Swan Land & Cattle Company. Sparks had learned how to cash in on the cattle boom and over the next several years, he established and quickly sold several more ranches on the North Platte River, raking in the profits as he went.

In 1881, he partnered with John Tinnin in establishing the Alamo Ranch in Elko, Nevada, where he continued to prosper. Sparks is credited with promoting the use of Hereford cattle in Nevada and claimed that nearly all of his cattle that survived the state's catastrophic winter of 1889-90 were at least part Hereford.

Sparks became one of the most influential businessmen in Nevada and leveraged this into a short political career. He was elected governor in 1902 and again in 1906. Unfortunately, he died in 1908, only halfway through his second term.

This photo is a part of the Van Tassell Collection, which came to us from Louisa (Swan) Van Tassell. Louisa's father, Alex Swan, and her uncles purchased that first ranch from Sparks at Chugwater. Louisa's husband, R.S. Van Tassell, was also a Wyoming cattle baron before the disastrous winter of 1886-87.

Great stuff from the Wyoming State Archives.  Great coat too.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Weather reports

Today is the anniversary of the horrible blizzard of 1888, which holds status as the worst storm to have ever hit the northern plains.  The winter of 1888 was horrible anyway, and blizzard of 1888 was a killer storm that lasted several days and killed a fair number of people, and a huge number of cattle. There would have been very little warning.  For most people, only the warning that being able to read the weather gives.

This week, my Iphone Weather Station App has been predicting a late week winter storm at the "severe" level.  I suppose that this is what the National Weather Service has been declaring.  Since I've had that App, there's been quite a few such advisory statements, but no storms that really meet that level, in my view.  Indeed, it seems to me that recently that App has been wrong quite a bit, meaning the Weather Channel has been wrong.  I'm beginning to disregard it, particularly the warnings.

Weather reports are so part of our regular lives now that its hard to imagine an era when they just didn't exist, but that has to have been the case not all that long ago.  The ability to predict the weather has only really been around since the 1890s, when the science of meteorology really started to develop.  When regular weather reports became newspaper items, I don't know.  If anyone knows, I'd be curious to learn when that occurred, and a comment on it would be great.  Regular weather reports became a newspaper feature, at any rate, by the 1930s, and I'm guessing earlier than that.  They were suspended, however, during World War Two in order to deprive the Germans of weather information that would have been useful for German U-boats. That weather reports for the Continental US would be useful for submarines in the Atlantic seems surprising, but it shows how advanced meteorology already was.  Indeed, the Germans landed weather reporting parties in Labrador, Greenland and Iceland in order to provide weather information, and at least one source I've read claims that the Germans did have some operatives who broadcast UHF weather observations from inside the Continental US. 

Anyhow, we now can check predicted weather on our phones, radios, televisions and newspapers.  The Weather Channel is actually fairly popular as a television channel, as odd as that would have seemed to people a couple of decades ago, when we watched for televised weather predictions on the nightly news.  The Weather Channel has even taken up naming winter storms, like has been done with Hurricanes officially for a long time.  Whether this just makes the routine mundane may be another question.  So far, a lot of this winter's predicated severe weather here, hasn't been.

It's a far cry from 1888, however.  At that time winter storms must have just hit with hardly any warning at all.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Why not John D. Pedersen?

Followers of Wyoming's Legislature will note that there's a bill in the current legislature seeking to designate Freedom Arm's .454 Casull pistol the state firearm.  For those who don't know, Feedom Arms is a Wyoming company and its signature product is a really huge revolver.  

The move has been subject to some criticism, partially based upon its timing, and partially based upon the logical question as to why we need a state firearm. To raise that question doesn't make a person anti firearm by any means, it's just a logical question.  We seem to have run through all the logical state things that a legislature might be expected to designate and now we're on to items that seem to be a bit off the beaten path.  Having said that, Utah designated John Browning's M1911 pistol as their state firearm some years ago.

That move might actually make more sense than the one being pondered down at the legislature.  John Browning was an inventive genius and is generally regarded as  the greatest firearms designer of all time.  The M1911 pistol was one of his greatest designs, by all accounts.  And he was a Utah native.  Essentially, Utah was honoring one of their native sons who made a massive contribution to the firearms design and even to the nation's defense.  The .454 Casull, whatever its merits, pales to a ghostly shade of white in comparison to Browning's designs.

But why not take a page from Utah's book?  If we're going to designated a state firearm, perhaps we should designate something  designed by John D. Pedersen?

Pedersen wasn't born here, but he ranched here for many years, being one of the early ranchers in Teton County, one of the locations that out of state folks regard as emblematic of Wyoming.  The Pedersen ranch was in Jackson Hole, and to a lot of people that defines their mental image of Wyoming.

In addition to being a rancher, Pedersen is the most prolific and most successful of any Wyoming inventors, holding more patents than anyone else.  In addition to ranching, he was a firearms designer.  And his designs were firearms designs, here's an example of one such patent here.  Note that his address is given as "Jackson Wyoming."

Now, Pedersen isn't as famous as Browning, and that's in part due to. . . well. . . Browning.  They were contemporaries of each other, Browning was a giant.  Pedersen was an inventive genius however.  And some of his designs did to on to be well used, apparently.  The pistol depicted in the patent referenced above competed, unsuccessfully, for Army acceptance against Browning's M1911.  Pedersen is responsible for one really famous, albeit stillborn, design, that being the "Pedersen Device", an implement that, when inserted in the M1903 Springfield bolt action rifle converted into a light semi automatic rifle.  Okay, that idea is kind of weird, but it was inventively weird.  It also apparently went nowhere as the Army bought a bunch during World War One, when the invention was patented, but the war ended before they were used, so nobody will ever really know if it was a good idea or not.

Be that as it may, Pedersen is mostly forgotten to Wyoming.  Right now the Legislature is pondering adopting a "state firearm" that would seem to be sort of a one off proposition. If we're going do do that, why not honor somebody who was a prolific Wyomingite and fairly well known in his day?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

What people read

We've had this blog up for a couple of years now, with the first posts being in 2009. There were none in 2010, but we really took off in posting in 2011.  The purpose of the blog, as indicated in our very first post, was set forth with this comment:
What the heck is this blog about?

The intent of this blog is to try to explore and learn a few things about the practice of law prior to the current era. That is, prior to the internet, prior to easy roads, and the like. How did it work, how regional was it, how did lawyers perceive their roles, and how were they perceived?

Part of the reason for this, quite frankly, has something to do with minor research for a very slow moving book I've been pondering. And part of it is just because I'm curious. Hopefully it'll generate enough minor interest so that anyone who stops by might find something of interest, once it begins to develop a bit.
Since that May 1, 2009 entry, the blog has changed a lot and is much more free ranging, and has a lot more direct commentary, than it used to.  I hope its a more insightful and fun blog.  I also hope that at some point we might get more comments from folks.  It's a very little read blog, I'm quite sure, which would help explain the low number of comments.  We'll keep doing it, however, as writing is a developing avocation, one of those things its fun for us to do in its own right, and because it helps to make writing a habit.  And it is helping to develop additional concepts and ideas for the book that was noted above.

It isn't actually our only blog, which the few regular readers here know.  It started off as the least likely to be posted on, explaining the 2010 writing drought, but that's changed.  Still, it's interesting to see what blogs and posts people stop in here, and in the associated blogs.

To my ongoing surprise, of all of our blogs, Holscher's Hub leads the charge in actually views, at just over 12,000 presently, even though it's mostly photographs.  Maybe that's why it leads the charge. People like photographs, and it has some really widely ranging ones.  The most popular post there is one showing my father's photographs from Wake Island in the 1950s, and I suspect that a lot of folks just surf onto the site with some sort of search about Wake Island.  The Wyoming 2011 Machinegun Shoot is next, which may be because that had some outside circulation.  One depicting a M110 Howitzer follows, and I suspect that's also the case with it.  The Casper Mountain Fire of 2012 resulted in daily posts on Holscher's Hub for awhile, and in turn one of those posts, but only one, is a top contender.  I know from a friend that at that time, if you Googled that topic, posts on that site showed up and for a while a series of them were in the topc category, including one depicting a much older fire.  The B-25 Maid In The Shade comes after that, which is no doubt from people otherwise looking up the airplane, followed by cattle trailing photos from 2011.  What's interesting to note here is that most of the top contenders fit into categories people would just be surfing for, and most of the simple landscape photos really don't get that much viewing.  On the cattle photographs, there's ranching photographs on the site going back to its origin, so I'm a little surprised that some of those aren't higher up.
Wake Island in the 1950s, as photographed by my father.

Of our blogs, Churches of the West gets the second most views, which surprises me.  Churches of the West only dates back to 2011, and came about because I have an amateur interest in architecture and take a fair number of photographs of churches.  That number has now gone way up, as I've started intentionally taking them.  I travel a fair amount, and so I see a lot of interesting churches, and I thought it would be fun to put them in a blog.  As I started doing so, I noted various odds and ends about them and put them in the posts.

As noted, it surprises me how often that blog is viewed, and it rivals Holscher's Hub in that it has over 11,000 views.  In looking at the popular posts, I think I partially know why.  Quite a few of the searches there are by people looking for a church, probably hoping to find out where it is or when services are, or maybe just something about it.  Immaculate Conception Chapel in Rapid City South Dakota now leads with the most views, which I would never have guessed, but it offers Masses in Latin, and probably people looking for a Latin Mass are searching for it, or for information about it.  The Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, the Catholic Cathedral in Denver, is in second position there, which again probably is explained by people looking for its location.  St. Mary's Cathedral, the Catholic Cathedral in Cheyenne is in fourth place and has consistently been in the top five since it was posted.  That photographs was actually just recently used, with permission, by Wyoming Public Television for their Christmas coral program and they informed me that they'd found the coral in a search which lead first to my blog, which is sort of neat.  Salt Lake's First Presbyterian Church is in fifth place.  Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Casper has been in the top five ever since it was first posted.

 Immaculate Conception Chapel in Rapid City, South Dakota.

The top five of Churches of the West have changed, with various churches moving up and down, or even off the top five, ever since the blog was first up. This makes a lot of sense, as the blog gets a lot of traffic and as new churches are added, some will be churches that a lot of people are looking for.  Nonetheless, the presence of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church really surprised me on the list, where it has remained the entire time, really surprised me as it must be a fairly small parish and most of the parishioners know where it is.  But in thinking on it, the nature of the churches on the top five have tended to show some consistent themes.  Catholic churches have consistently been on the top five, even though individual Catholic churches have dropped off. Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church has never left the top five.  And it's a church that's hard to find if you don't know where to look for it, being in an unusual location.  The reason for this has to do, I think, with a basic feature of the Catholic and Orthodox faiths, which are very closely related faiths, and which regard each others sacraments as valid.  I generally do not get into doctrinal matters on that site, unless absolutely necessary to explain what a church is or what it is named, but both of these faiths feature a strong concept of universality in their membership, i.e., you belong to the Faith, not any one individual parish, and they both strongly emphasize attendance at Sunday Mass/Divine Liturgy.  So what I think I may be seeing in those individual popular posts is an effort by individuals to locate an out of town church by somebody anticipating attending them while visiting those locations.  Of course, I may be wrong and there may be other reasons that anyone church has more "hits" than another.

One thing that's surprised me, in a good way, about Churches of the West is that I haven't received any complaints from anyone, and I expected that I might.  I don't photographs every church in every town, and I don't even pretend that I do.  A lot of the churches and religious buildings depicted there I simply happened to run across, such as the Temple Events Center in Denver, while others I went looking for.  One of my favorite photos on that blog is of a church I just ran across and photographed with my cell phone, that being the St. Peter and St. Paul Orthodox church in Salt Lake City, which I like because it was such a surprise and because my old cell phone took pretty good photos before I accidentally washed it.  At any rate, I thought I might get complaints from people who were upset I haven't photographed their particular church, and I haven't.  I haven't even photographed all of the churches in my hometown, so there's no intentional slight, but people can get upset over perceived, if unintended, slights.

I should note that it's a bit of a disappointment there that one of my very favorite subjects on that blog, which inspired the blog in the first place, long ago slipped off the top ten, that being The Cathedral of the Madeline, also in Salt Lake.  I didn't know it was there but a friend showed it to me while we were working in Salt Lake City.  The first set of cell phone photos I took there were so good, that I decided to display them in that format.
The Cathedral of the Madline in Salt Lake City, in one of the photos that inspired the blog.

Coming in third place is Today In Wyoming's History, which I thought would have had first place, as its updated everyday.  It has just over 10,000 hits.  Chances are that it will surpass the others in hits relatively soon.  It's only been up and running for about a year, and the original plan was to cease updating it once it was a year old, and install a calendar so that people could locate dates as they desired.  But I couldn't figure out how to do that, and additionally I wasn't happy with the state of the blog once it was a year old this past October.  As November dates now predominate in hits, my thought that a lot of information was lacking and could be added seems to have been proven correct.  Even at that, however, the blog has a long ways to go before it's really halfway decent.  

The popular hits on Today In Wyoming's History are interesting in that I think it shows what topics are being looked into, in Wyoming, and about Wyoming, at any one time.  I'd have thought some big events, like the Johnson County War or the Fetterman Fight would predominate, but that doesn't seem to be generally the case.  One post about the Johnson County War, the April 5 entry, does make the top ten (there's 10 tops on that site).  December 7, Pearl Harbor Day, has always been the date most hit, showing I suppose that a lot of people are looking December 7 up around that time of year.  Fully five entries from November, however, that are in the top ten, all of which deal with elections, and one of which is a sidebar just on Wyoming politics. They all leaped up into the top ten during or just after November, after all those dates had been updated to include a lot of new election information, and after the Sidebar was posted.  There's no sign that they'll descend back off the list.

Queen Marie of Romania's photograph appeared for November 9, but it was likely the election news that caused that day to be in the top 10.

Other than those days, January 27 comes in as number ten, but I have no idea why.  No entry there seems particularly earth shattering.  September 9 comes in as number two, but I also don't know why it rates so high. There are a number of interesting events that day, but no more so than many other days.  That entry also lacks a photographs, which every other really popular post has.

Following Today In Wyoming's History in popularity is this blog, with many fewer views.  It comes in at about 6,000 right now.  That surprises me as it's the second most active, and by far has the most text.  Today In Wyoming's History is only more active as its updated daily by design.  The top most viewed post here really takes me by surprise, as it's the photo entry of Queen Elizabeth II in Canada.  I've never understood why anyone who isn't British finds the modern English monarchy interesting, but people really do.  Far more people have found and examined that post than any other, and for the time being, it looks like it will stay that way.  I posted that entry as I found that photograph in my mother's photos and couldn't recall what it was actually of.  I found out, and apparently people like the photo, as it's far more viewed than any other.
The ever popular Queen Elizabeth II.

A photograph of my mother comes in at 6th place, although there I'm sure it became a popular post as people were very curious about the very odd aircraft in the photo, which is what caused me to post it.  There to, it sort of shows what's generally interesting to people. Both of these thread had outside circulation on some lists.  

The Niobrara County Courthouse thread has consistently been really popular here, even though the Courthouses of the West blog generally falls far below the others.  That makes me think that this blog has a different type of audience than the limited one the courthouse blog has.  The same photo appears on the other blog, where it doesn't get as many viewers.  Right now, here that photo and text comes in at a whopping number two.

Two commentary essays come in at three and four, which is a bit gratifying as they're thought and opinioin pieces. The first one is on pecularized violence, and its had outside circulation.  It's the third most viewed post on this site. The next one is on evolving social and moral standards, and it has not, as far as I know, but it's nearly as popular. Both became widely viewed nearly after they were posted, which is intersting.  The eight post, on Wyoming's adoption of the Uniform Bar Exam, is also in that category and has had outside circulation.

The seventh post is one of my favorites, and is on one of my favorite topics, changes in transportation.  I've posted on it several times, but that's the only such entry to rise up into the top ten.  Filling out the slots, one post that's on a Library of Congress list of Books that Shaped America has received a lot of views.  Number ten is a link to a now obsolete post on the old painted signs on the Townsend Building in Casper Wyoming.  Given that this particular thread is obsolete, but still in the top ten, I'm likely to eliminate it as its deceptive at this point.  The topic itself is very much updated on the little viewed Painted Bricks blog.

One disappointment on this blog is that there is invariably some topics which you think are great, but you're probably the only one.  I've posted poll attempts on the topic of working with animals three times, once on November 9, 2011, once on August 17, 2011, and once on March 9, 2012.  They just don't get any responses.  I've cross posted this topic elsewhere, and gotten a few, but very few.  It's something that seems significant to me, i.e., the number of people who worked with or around animals in prior decades, but I'm pretty alone in finding that topic interesting.  Nonetheless, I'll likely bump one of those threads up here soon in the near future.

That's because, particularly here, I'm always hoping for comments.  I do get a few, and have been getting more, but I don't get a lot, and of course, this blog no doubt falls far behind the type of blogs that would get quite a few. That's just the nature of it, and that's fine.

Our blog Some Gave All, which depicts war memorials, is in next place. After creating a blog for Churches I'd photographed and courthouses I'd photographed, this one seemed a natural at the time.  Having said that, it's really slow and I don't know that I'd do it again, although now that it's up and running, I'll keep it up and running.  It has fewer than 4,000 views right now.  It has a top ten list, but with so few views right now, I don't know that this says much.  It is interesting that the memorial to the USS Barbel, a submarine, is in the top ten, and its the only item that I know of to have received commentary on another blog.  A couple of items associated with Ft. Phil Kearny are also popular, which is interesting, with some of those entries being amongst the best on that site, in my opinion.

That blog has allowed me to appreciate small town memorials, which I hadn't really noticed that much before.  There are a lot of World War One memorials in the west, which I hadn't really appreciated before, such as this typical one in Hanna, Wyoming.  In many instances these memorials are very revealing, as they show very tiny towns to be much more populated at that time, and they also demonstrate the extent to which the war drew on entire male populations of the towns.  The number of soldiers serving from any one town turns out to be huge, which I should have realized, but didn't really appreciate.

Like our other blogs, Some Game All has expanded beyond its original purpose and now includes some memorials that are not war related.  As I run across these from time to time, it just seemed appropriate.  Quite a few of these we probably pass by everyday, and don't notice.  An example of this would be the Mine No. 1 Memorial in Hanna, which is off the beaten track to be sure.  The only example of a non wartime memorial to have made the top list is one in Casper to the Pony Express, although the interesting memorial to the 115th Cavalry Armory in Casper isn't a solely wartime memorial either.

At almost 3000 views is Courthouses of the West. What interests me here is that this blog was started at the exact same time as Churches of the West, but it receives a fraction of the views and that it falls behind Some Gave All, which is updated quite a bit less.  People are obviously a lot more interested in churches than courthouses, which I think to be a good thing.  They also apparently are a lot more interested in war memorials, which I suppose is also good.  Still, a lot of old courthouses are really pretty structures, and I've learned that photographing courthouses is a bit like train spotting, in that there's a community that does it and posts their photos on Flickr.  They apparently don't stop in here.  Even with the few views, I think this blog is basically viewed the same way the much more popular Churches of the West is viewed.  People seem to hit courthouse entries of courthouses they're trying to find.  This would seem to explain why courthouses in urban areas get a lot of hits, even where my photos of the courthouse is bad.  This would also explain why a hard to find courthouse, like the courthouse for the Wind River Indian Reservation, gets a lot of hits.  Early on the new courthouse for the 7th Judicial District in Casper got a lot of hits, which I think was almost certainly because the district and county courts had moved from the old Natrona County Courthouse and Hall of Justice and it confused people. The exception to this rule would seem to be the old Federal Courthouse in Lander, which is no longer a courthouse. But that post is linked into one here, which may explain why it comes up to number four.
 A lot of pretty old courthouses are on Courthouses of the West, like this one in Lewistown Montana, but that doesn't get them into the top ten.

Our blog Painted Bricks is the oldest of our blogs, going back to 2008, but it only comes in at about 2700 views.  That surprises me too.  It's dedicated to painted signs on buildings, and it originally was called Painted Bricks of Casper Wyoming, as that's all it dealt with.  There's a lot of interesting signs there, but these apparently have much less interest to people than the other topics, or the blog is so obscure that it rarely gets viewed. As with Some Gave All, I don't know that I could discern any trends.
 Over time, Painted Bricks has gone from only dealing with painted building signs in Casper Wyoming to even include elevators.  It still doesn't get a huge number of views, however.

Finally, Railhead, our blog on railroad topics, comes in dead last in every sense.  It's the least active, and by far the least viewed.  Interestingly, trains have a huge following on the Internet, but that doesn't make much of a difference in terms of viewership there, perhaps because the blog is so darned inactive.  A couple of depot photos take first positions there, with the most popular topic being the one that depicts the classic Union Pacific depot.  I only started this blog as I ran across a really neat depot in Newcastle, and thought it might make for an interesting separate subject, and I suppose it sort of does.  The oldest topic I photographed, however goes back to 1986, depicting a derailed train I saw in Minnesota. The absolute oldest photos on the thread are some taken by my father, including some of rail lines in Japan, which I think are the most interesting on the site.

Anyhow, I don't know that this reveals a great deal, it's just interesting, and sometimes surprising, to see what gets the most attention.  A few items here and there get some commentary too, and I hope that more is received in the future.  That anyone finds any of this interesting, other than me, is a gift in and of itself.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Folks without enough to do?

From the ABA:

Top Chicago Litigators to Retry 2,400-Year-Old Socrates Case Before 7th Circuit’s Judge Posner

Star litigators in Chicago are preparing to retry a controversial 2,400-year-old free speech case that famously resulted in the death of Socrates, now considered the father of Greek philosophy, when he drank a cup of poisonous hemlock.
Dan Webb of Winston and Strawn and plaintiffs lawyer Robert A. Clifford, a former chair of the ABA Section of Litigation, will represent Socrates at the Jan. 31 proceeding, which is being held as a fundraiser by the National Hellenic Museum in Chicago. The case for the City of Athens will be made by former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, now a partner at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, and Patrick M. Collins of Perkins Coie.
Judge Richard A. Posner of the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will head a three-judge panel that also includes his federal appeals court colleague William J. Bauer and Cook County Circuit Judge Anna Demacopoulos.
Are there no more current issues to decide?

And as Socrates was executed by a decision rendered by a forum,in a pure (no restraining restrictions) democracy,  how could the trial even be replicated?

The Best Post of the Week of June 2, 2013

Wyoming Adopts the Uniform Bar Exam, and why that's not only a change, but a bad idea.

Swimming against the tide, but an important point.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Joy of Field Rations

Somebody recently drew my attention to this blog, and it is neat;  The Joy of Field Rations.

Now, most people wouldn't regard field rations as joyful, but they'd sort of be missing the point of the blog if they didn't look beyond the title.  The blog isn't really about compressed rations, like C Rations, K Rations, or the dreaded Armor Rations.  It's about Army food served in the field. And not just the American Army, but all armies.  Most of the entries are actually about the rations of foreign armies.

It's really interesting, particularly in light of the theoretical focus of this blog, as its also a look into food habits and field food of earlier eras.  Now, nobody would claim that, in the case of most armies, that armies in the field routinely ate well.  But what could be done, and therefore was done, is interesting.  So, while we know about hard tack and bad bacon for the U.S. Army, those who have studied the topic also know that this is an incomplete picture.  This blog presents a much more complete picture.

Many of the entries are really interesting.  For example, here's one for Beef Pot Pie, but with biscuits for the crust. This recipe dates to the 1940s, but given its nature, I suspect it was probably a much older one that was still around.  I really like pot pies, and this one is cooked in a dutch oven.  I've made pot pies with pie crust in dutch ovens, but it would never have occurred to me to try this.  I may give it a try.  I note that there's some similar recipes for British meat pies.

More in keeping with the time period we're trying to focus on here, here's one for Beef Hash.  I don't know if I've never had beef hash (although this recipe will work for pork or corned beef, according to the blogger), but I love corned beef has.  Problem is, I very rarely ever have it. And by rarely, I probably mean once ever five years or so. Again, this is another recipe I'll have to try.  I'm surprised to find it as a U.S. Army recipe, but I probably ought not to be, given as its something made from scraps.

Army menus, even early on, were more varied than most suspect, and I've seen a recipe for Army chile dating back to the 19th Century.  The recipe isn't that much different from generic ones now, except that it was pretty much a complete do it yourself type of deal, rather than "dump in canned beans now", type of affair.  I really like chile, and make it quite often, but mine does feature the "dump in canned beans now" type of procedure.  Anyhow, one thing this blog helps illustrate is the variety in Army cookbooks, even quite a ways back.  For instance, here's a recipe for El Rancho stew, which apparently is still in the Army cookbook, but which has evolved considerably since its 1917 appearance.

There are a lot of bread recipes on the blog, which probably isn't surprising, given how much of a staple bread is.  And I must say, they look good.  Sheepherders bread is the only type of bread I've ever tried to cook in the sticks, and its easy to do.  Some of these are probably tougher, but they look good.  For example, there's this field recipe from 1916 for a yeast bread.  It looks good.  Here's another, meant to be cooked in a mess tin.  And regarding breads, here's one for coffee cakes.  Given that its' from 1941, this shouldn't surprise me, but it does.  I'd think of this as more of a mess hall item, and I wonder if it was.

Anyhow, this is an interesting effort, and I hope the blogger keeps it up. It's surprisingly varied too, with German, British and Russian entries, in addition to US ones, so far. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Violent society?

From the New York Times:

Murders in New York have dropped to their lowest level in over 40 years, city officials announced on Friday, even as overall crimes increased slightly because of a rise in thefts — a phenomenon based solely on robberies of iPhones and other Apple devices.
There were 414 recorded homicides so far in 2012, compared with 515 for the same period in 2011, city officials said. That is a striking decline from murder totals in the low-2,000s that were common in the early 1990s, and is also below the record low: 471, set in 2009.
Interesting, isn't it?  To listen to the news, you'd think we were awash in a sea of violence. But, in actuality, violence is down everywhere in the United States, indeed, everywhere in the Western World.  And there seems to be no statistical correlation at all between what people traditionally argue for, such as ignoring the 4th Amendment restrictions on search and seizures and gun control, and this phenomenon.  On the other hand, our perception that the world is extremely violent has everything to with the media focusing on what violence is around, and on the common erroneous assumption that we must live in the worst of all times (Holscher's Sixth Law of Human Behavior).

“The essence of civilization is that you can walk down the street without having to look over your shoulder,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said.
Hmmm. . . is that the essence of civilization?  That sort of argument is quite fascistic, actually.

I'd think the essence of civilization is that you love your neighbor.  That's  what brings about civilization.  There have been societies that had low levels of civil violence that none of us would want to live in. For that matter, societies like Saudi Arabia today are like that, but not too many of us would wish to live in them.
The Police Department said thefts of Apple products had risen by 3,890, which was more than the overall increase in “major crimes.”
Sign of the cyber times, I guess.  Folks who stole Ford automobiles in earlier eras, now still Iphones.  Maybe that's progress in and of itself.
Of the 400 murders in 2012, 223 were gunshot victims, 84 victims were stabbed to death, 43 died of blunt trauma and 11 died of asphyxiation. More of the 400 homicides occurred on a Saturday than any other day, followed by early Sunday morning. More occurred between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. than any other time. People were more likely to be killed outside than in. Nearly 70 percent of the victims had prior criminal arrests, the police said.
Another telling set of statistics. What does this tell us? Well, about half of all people who are murdered in New York are murdered by a primitive implement.  They'd be dead if there were no firearms at all.  Probably quite a few of the remaining also would be.

People seem to kill each other on the weekend. That seems odd, but it's the time when a lot of people are out and about.  So perhaps it isn't particularly when you consider that 70% of the victims had criminal records. Recidivism being what it is, this would suggest that a lot of people get killed because they choose to associate with a criminal element and, in all liklihood, quite a few of them are engaging in some sort of criminal activity.

Again, that suggests the current debate about what to do about "gun deaths" or homicide is probably off the mark, at least as to New York City, and probably everywhere, more murders occur in the big urban areas than anywhere else.  It seems a lot of people who have been involved with crime, hang out with criminals, and that can go wrong.  There's nothing a person can regulate or ban that's going to address that.  On the other hand, overall crime is going down, so these deaths are too, which is a good thing.
The likelihood of being killed by a stranger was slight. The vast majority of the homicides, Mr. Kelly said, grew out of “disputes” between a victim and killer who knew each other.
Same story.  People mad enough to kill, or motivated to kill by greed, revenge or drugs, kill.  Seems pretty obvious.

Left out of this, of course, are events like Newton Connecticut.  But if we throw them in, what do we have? That said events are extremely rare, and are almost exclusively committed by somebody with a severe and obvious psychological impairment that we're ignoring as a society.

So, do we think this information will enter our current analysis?

Probably not.  It's not what we mistakenly believe, and it's not what a lot of people want to believe.

Today In Wyoming's History: Sidebar: Confusing fiction for fact

Today In Wyoming's History: Sidebar: Confusing fiction for fact: One of the things that's aggravating for students of history is the way that popular portrayals botch the depiction of the topic of their i...

Friday, January 4, 2013


Businessmen starting the day off with coffee.

The other day, I had an appointment at a doctor's office that required me to abstain from caffeinated beverages for a twelve hour period.  I never drink caffeinated beverages after mid afternoon, as they'll keep me awake at night, so normally this wouldn't be a problem, save for the fact that my appointment was at 10:30 am.

Oh my gosh.  What a horror simply abstaining from coffee turned out to be.  I'm quite obviously addicted.

I drink a pot (yes a pot) of coffee every morning.  This is a level of coffee consumption that, at one time, would have been regarded as unhealthy, but in accordance with Holscher's Fifth Law of Behavior,  no  longer is.  Indeed, ti's now known that some level of coffee consumption is associated with a reduced risk of some fairly serious diseases, for reasons that aren't very clear to anyone, and that generally you don't need to worry about drinking too much of it. That's a good thing for me, as I start off every day with coffee.

 Truck driver and sailor drinking coffee, early in the morning, in a cafe.  I've eaten in a lot of places like this early in the morning prior to the advent of business motels, so I could get breakfast. . . and coffee.

Indeed, my current level of coffee consumption is actually a reduction in the amount I drink.  At one time, I drank a pot here in my office and more at work.  I found, however, that this was making me really jittery, and one Lent I gave up coffee at work and I know completely avoid it after breakfast, with very rare exceptions.  People at work sort of now assume I no longer even drink coffee, which of course is an error, but it's probably a widely believed error, as I usually decline it whenever I go somewhere and its offered, assuming that I had it with breakfast.

But, I do like coffee.

And apparently, I'm really physically addicted to it, as I found out.

I was okay at first.  I generally get up very early, and I made it to about 8:30 before the really negative impacts began to set it.  I became extremely tired.  So tired, I could have fallen asleep at my desk quite easily.  I remained that way until about 1:00 p.m., save for the period at the doctor's office (which nicely confirmed that I'm apparently in fine physical health, coffee addiction notwithstanding).  I picked up in the afternoon, even though I never felt completely okay, but a headache had set in by early evening and by 8:00 p.m. I was so tired, I went to bed.  Pretty pathetic.  When I woke up in the morning I still had the headache, but after a cup of coffee, I felt fine.

 World War One YMCA girl passing out a cup of coffee, a welcome site, no doubt, to folks like me.

It occurs to me that I almost never go without coffee in the morning, no matter what I'm doing.  I wonder if that's a problem, but I probably won't do anything about it.  I drink it if I'm heading out to the sticks early.  I also drink it if I'm camping out in the sticks.  I have it usually before I trail cattle, if we're trailing cattle, unless the cattle, who do not drink coffee, cruelly pick up and run off before I can have any coffee.  In the 19th Century, I would have been one of those coffee drinking cowhands that figure in stories today.  And, I now understand why Plains Indians stopped wagon trains just to have them make coffee.  Had I been a Plains Indian, I would have done the same.

It's an interesting long-lasting American custom. The morning cup of coffee.  I suppose it's no longer as strong as it once was, what with so many other options, and a lot of folks who skip breakfast entirely now.  On the other hand, the high end coffee shop, spurred on by the advent of Starbucks, is stronger than ever, so maybe coffee is too. Anyhow, I now know that in the morning, I really miss it if I don't have it.

The Club

There's an early 1960s film comedy (a genera which should be of its own class, as they tend to fit a pattern) based on an early 1960s or late 1950s musical comic play (again, should be its own genera) called How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying.  The farcical film follows the life of an ambitious window washer who seeks to rise to the top of a larger corporation through the exploitation of personalities and connections, including, in one instance, a suggestion (false) that he attended the same university as one of his superiors.  The movie is genuinely funny, but highly dated.  Of course (spoiler alert, sort of) the protagonist rises to the top in spite of improbable odds (at the very top, it turns out the CEO was also a window washer originally) but it actually manages to satire a few things fairly accurately.  The school connection item was probably accurate at that time, when college degrees were much more rare, and even the window washer CEO was semi accurate, the film having come at the end of the Non Certification era, but its obviously dated enough (particularly in its depiction of women, who are all secretaries in the film).  I only mention it as the depiction of a common school background remains oddly true in one area. . . graduating from an Ivy League Law School.

Now, connections are what they are, and to some great extent, they're simply natural.  If a person shares your background and interests, you'll know them, and that's a connection that somebody else is unlikely to have.  That's just the way that works.  But in the law, Harvard law degrees in particular, have a strange aura that attaches to them as if the graduates of that school know a whole lot more law, a whole lot better, than everyone else. 

Those who follow blogs that address concerns of law students know that there's vast amounts of cyber ink spilled on the topic of "top tier" law schools, with the routine suggestion being that if you didn't graduate from a "top tier" law firm, you might as well have dropped out of school in the 3d grade.  What that hyper excited commentary really means is that if you want into one of the super-sized law firms that pay high dollars in exchange for their new hires having no outside life whatsoever, you must go to a "top tier" school. That's probably unfortunately correct.  But Harvard law is something else, occupying a position, in my view, somewhat akin to that of the English Royal Family. That is, graduating from it makes a person royalty, whether or not they otherwise deserve it.

For example, President Obama is a Harvard Law graduate.  Mitt Romney is a Harvard Law graduate.  They're both very intelligent men, to be sure, but to what extent has simply being a Harvard Law graduate opened doors for them?  Well, probably not that much in Romney's case, given that his family background gave him an advantage in life that many would not have, but it certainly opened doors in President Obama's case.  This is not their fault, and I'm not suggesting there's anything wrong with their taking advantage of that.  It's just odd how there's a widespread assumption that being a graduate of Harvard Law makes a person some sort of super lawyer. 

Indeed, graduating from Harvard Law is like gaining admittance to a club.  To fail in life after graduating from Harvard Law would take more effort than succeeding.  You'd really have to work at it. All the time you'll hear that some Harvard Law grad has been a Supreme Court clerk, or is working at some think tank, or the like.  And, of course, you'll hear of the practicing law in some big firm too.  They seem to be able to go where they want based on that degree.

Well, is it that much better?   I guess I have no real frame of reference, but I read the opinions of the courts and whatnot, and sometimes hear their opinions in other venues, and frankly, they're not that much more erudite than the best lawyers out of any other law school.  And I suppose I don't hear from the Harvard grads who aren't in a public venue. 

The law is the law, no matter where you study it, and a good legal education is the result of good students and good professors. The good students exist everywhere.  Are Harvard's professors that much better?  I really wonder.

I guess part of this comes from a very local prospective on my part.  I've tried a bunch of cases in court.  I've seen some really brilliant courtroom work.  I've appeared in front of a lot of state and Federal judges.  But so far, I have yet to come across a Harvard lawyer in any courtroom setting I've been in.  I have no doubt that they'd be individually good, but there's a lot of individually good people out there who have no connection to Harvard Law.

Well, so what?  Should this matter?

Well, yes it should. Again this year a lot of big time courts, and big time entities, will employ Harvard Law grads, right out of school, because they are Harvard Law grads, in part.  That means that these institutions are fishing from a pretty small pond, and it should be remembered that even a guppy can be a big fish in a cup.  Perhaps they should cast their nets a bit broader.  I'd like to see, for example, a decade where every Supreme Court clerk came out of a land grant college law school, and all think tanks employed guys who were, let's say, accountants, rather than law school grads, to mix the institutions up a bit.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

SCOTUScast » Publications » The Federalist Society

SCOTUScast » Publications » The Federalist Society

Nice set of discussions on Supreme Court decisions and arguments.

Some native examples of Holscher's First & Second Law of History

Recently I posted an entry on Holscher's Law of HistoryIn doing that I expounded that the first law is "Everything first happened longer ago than you suspect" and the second law is "Everything last occurred more recently than you suppose.". 

Here's some interesting example from the story of American Indians.

This photograph was taken in 1906.  We'd tend to think of it as well after the Indian Wars, but it really is not.  Indeed, at this point in time, amazingly, one last conflict between Native Americans and the U.S. Army was yet to occur, although that scrap was an accident.  Be that as it may, we see a family with some native attire, and some not.  The degree to which native attire is hanging on in this photographs is a little surprising.  This photo, for context, was taken after the invention of the airplane and the introduction of the Model T.

But what's really surprising ins the sewing machine.  I wouldn't have expected that.  An example of the first law, to a degree.

This family, by the way, was photographed on the  Crow Reservation of southern Montana.

How about this photograph of a woman drying fish?  She's in a traditional camp, with a teepee and all, drying a traditional food.

This photograph was taken in 1913.  World War One would break out the following year.  Here we see, however, an Indian woman engaged in a very traditional activity.

What about this photograph?  For all the world, this photo looks like it was taken in the 1870s or so, but for the fact, perhaps, that the Indian rider (here a Crow Indian in Montana0 is riding a western stock saddle, a detail that's hard to catch without knowing what to look for.  But this is also a 20th Century photograph, taken in 1908.

While this scene comes near, if not in, the 20th Century, it's telling none the less.  This member of the Crow tribe is out riding in winter, probably hunting or otherwise out in some activity that requires his presence outdoors.  In Wyoming, I've seen photos of Indians from the Wind River Reservation out tenting (with teepees) while hunting, on the North Platte, as late as 1912, long after some maintain that long range native hunting forays did not occur.

What about this photograph?  The front rider (the father of the boy in back) is dressed in fairly typical Western attire with modern tack.  He retains the long braids of traditional Indians.  The boy, or rather young man, in back is wearing a newsboy cap.  The 1910s?  1920s?

No, 1941.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Bomb Sight - Mapping the World War 2 London Blitz Bomb Census

Bomb Sight - Mapping the World War 2 London Blitz Bomb Census

Interesting interactive map.

Maps are neat, in general, but a think like this takes a map in a bit of a new direction, that only the computer can do.  Interesting project.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Inflation Calculator 2012

Inflation Calculator 2012

Useful link for looking at the change in value of money.

Perhaps a grim way to start off 2013, but an interesting look how the value of individual dollars has changed over time.  Having said that, some caution on such things is always warranted, as social and employment conditions greatly impact this, but that the dollar's value has changed massively over time cannot be disputed.

Carnegie Library, Lewistown Montana.

This is the Carnegie Library in Lewistown, Montana.  The library has an addition, clearly visible, which makes for quite a juxtaposition of architectural styles. Still, in spite of that, it works quite well.

Just recently Natrona County Wyoming's voters turned down an effort to build a new library, thereby opting to keep the county's strained library.  The current library in Natrona County dates back, I think, to the 1970s, with an older portion of that library dating back to the 30s or 40s. That older portion replaced a library that was an original Carnegie Library of the same approximate vintage as this one. 

I note that as it shows, perhaps, how the importance of libraries has changed to communities over time.  Or perhaps it says something only locally, as at least one other Wyoming community recently passed a bond measure to expand their library.  Anyhow, I've been in libraries all over Wyoming, and indeed, in a few in other regions of the country, and note how much use they still receive.  They don't, however, always figure in the public's mind like they once did.

This library is a good example of how central they once were.  The original small library is direction across the street from the courthouse in Lewistown, and courthouses tend to get pride of place in a community's downtown. That this library was constructed in such a central location says a great deal about how the residents of Fergus County Montana viewed it at the time they received a grant from the Carnegie Foundation to build it.

Stuff that's good to know.

From West's Headnote of the Day, something that's good to know:
230 Jury
230II Right to Trial by Jury

230k30 Denial or Infringement of Right

230k33 Constitution and Selection of Jury

230k33(5) Challenges and Objections

230k33(5.15) k. Peremptory Challenges.
Venireperson may be properly excluded for nonserious demeanor.

People v. Thomas, 641 N.E.2d 867 (1992)

Calvert Hotel, Lewistown Montana

I've written a bit on old hotels here from time to time.  Here's another example.

This is the restored Calvert Hotel in Lewistown Montana.  This hotel, however, didn't start out as one, which may explain why I was surprised that it wasn't near a rail line.  This hotel was built in 1912 as a girls dormitory, for rural Fergus County Montana students.  It says something about conditions at the time that girls would have been housed by the county in a dormitory, like college students are today, in order to attend high school.  I didn't take a picture of it, but a building that was obviously built as a high school, but which is now used for some other purpose, is nearby.

The big dorm went idle in the 1920s but was revived decades later as a hotel, for which it was likely well suited.  In 2007 it was purchased again and rebuilt.  It's been nicely done, and some of the original features remain.  It's located nearly in the center of Lewistown, and the dome of the Fergus County Courthouse is visible on the right hand side of the photograph.

This is a nice hotel, and the room rates are really reasonable.  There's a nice restaurant in the basement, which is a restaurant that serves the towns people of Lewistown in addition to the hotel's patrons.  Like older hotels, and perhaps like older dormitories, the rooms are small. The one thing I noted about staying in it is that the walls are thin, but the walls are just as thin on a lot of modern motels as well.  Usually in these solid older buildings that's note the case, but this hotel wasn't originally built as one.  Perhaps the original dorm had fairly thin walls as well, reflecting either a relatively regimented life in the dorm, or perhaps an acknowledgement that it was going to be noisy anyhow.  Or maybe the rooms were added much later.

 Early morning view.