Monday, April 29, 2013

Throwback and carrying on.

This is a current advertisement:
Subject: Mule Packing Instructor (Fort Campbell, KY) (UNCLASSIFIED)
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Caveats: FOUO

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Neat, really.  Every now and then you see an advertisement that shows that some things really keep on keeping on.

Op-Ed: The Nonexistent Line Between Justice And Revenge : NPR

I don't really subscribe to the speaker's thesis, but it is interesting. The speaker, Thane Rosenbaum, who is a lecturer at Fordham University in the College of Law, sets most of his points out well (stumbling one one point, about abstaining from vengeance in war) in only one place.  Rosenbaum's thesis is that all justice is based upon just and measured revenge, and any justice system that doesn't accommodate a desire for revenge is unjust, and probably unworkable.

Something that isn't mentioned in the interview is that Rosenbaum is Jewish and a writer on Jewish topics, in addition to legal topics.  I mention that due to something he said in the interview which is an often missed point, but which is quite accurate.  He cites the Old Testament's maxim that justice should be based on "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" as a limiting, not expansive, principal.  Oddly enough, it was just a few days after listening to this that I heard Catholic Apologist Jimmy Akin make the exact same point.

That is a significant point indeed.  Rosenbaum must have come to this in his studies of Jewish topics.  By the same token, Akin came to this via his work as an Apologist.  And it shows how truly erroneous our understandings of some things can be without the appropriate background.

Returning to the "eye for an eye" matter itself, how can that be a limiting law? Well, simply put, the "ancient law," i.e., the law that people seem to carry instinctively, generally accords that violence of any type can be met with supreme violence.  For example, one of the callers in to this show cited the example of Njals Saga, but I don't know if she understood why her comment was off the mark.  Njals Saga, a master work of Icelandic pre Christian literature, provides examples of a legal blood feud that never ends.  The law, seemingly, was not limited.  Killing was rapidly resorted to, and then everyone was off and running as there was no way to satiate the need for unlimited revenge.  An "eye for an eye," however, did the opposite.  It provided that if somebody blinded you in one eye, they could be similarly blinded.  They couldn't be killed. That was a significant limitation in the ancient world.

There are many similar Biblical examples which are misunderstood.  Slavery is discussed in the Old and New Testaments, for example, and some cite that as proof that slavery was sanctioned. However, the citations to slavery are either a limit on the conduct of the master, demonstrating that slaves were people too and not to be mistreated, or they refer to the ancient means of handling prisoners of war.  In ancient times, when resources were so thin, POWs generally became slaves or bargaining chips.  There wasn't much of an option as to anything else, economically.  Instructions on how to treat slaves do not amount to a ratification of it, anymore than an insistence that,  for example, hard drinkers not be abusive and provide for their families would amount to a modern legal sanction of alcoholism.

Another interesting example, also related to warefare, that is often misunderstood is the Old Testament provision that victorious Jewish combatants could take the widows of defeated enemies as wives, provided they allowed them time to mourn.  That seems harsh, but it actuality it was the polar opposite. The norm otherwise was that victorious combatants could simply have the women of defeated enemies, a type of horrific abuse that has carried down to the modern era in many places.  The Old Testament, however, says "no" to that, and requires a marriage.  Not only does it require marriage, however, but the poor woman is allowed to mourn her lost family.  If you think of that, it's pretty stunning.  A victorious soldier would have to be pretty taken with a woman to determine he was going to marry her, allow her to mourn somebody he just aided in killing, and then return to his native land with her.  I wonder how often it actually happened?

Anyhow, this simply brought up a very interesting point, and nicely demonstrates how modern understandings of ancient texts can be so badly off the mark.  Having said all of that, I don't think a modern justice system can really be based on revenge, but then I don't know what really does work in terms of an effective, modern, criminal justice system.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Depictions, Mispreceptions, Objectification, Shame, Shamelessness, Progress and Regression.

I started this post recently, and then I stopped it as it was pretty far off topic from my usual fare, and perhaps it just didn't fit in.  It started off as something I heard on XM Radio as a news story.  Later, however, I revived it as I heard a disturbing episode of Talk of the Nation.  One of the things about being a lawyer is that most lawyers have opinions on everything, and that being the case, we often tend to express them, so I'm back again.  However, the post take a bit of a different turn this go around.

Every once in a while, you actually read or hear a news story that suggests that things aren't in a hopeless downward spiral, and that just maybe there's actually real progress on something. And not the social movement of the moment type of progress, which more often than not is a passing fad, but an actual evolution in thought.  Of course, sometimes that's just people coming to their senses and returning to an earlier standard that made sense, was misunderstood, and then returned to as a new discovery.  Unfortunately, you can find plenty of evidence of the opposite as well, and both of these, in the same general area, are examined here.

On the topic of a positive evolution of thought, it seems that just such an event may be happening, and while it's hard not to be laugh a bit at some of the text associated with the story, this really probably actually does indicate a true, and significant, shift in views.  What that story entails is news that a campaign has been launched to take the "page 3 girl" out of the British newspaper The Sun.  Given the double entendre title, "Take the Bare Boobs Out of the Sun" the Internet effort, which looks as if it actually might succeed, seeks to get The Sun, one of the seemingly endless number of trashy British newspapers, to quit publishing photographs of topless models on page 3 of the newspaper.  The Sun started doing that about 40 or so years ago, in an effort to boost readership, which worked, showing, perhaps, that they, or maybe Britain in general, had a mostly male newspaper readership at that time.  Doubtless most women don't really want some topless tart showing up inside the newspaper.

What that significant shift may be is a real change and actually a change that matters.  The Sun is, once again, concerned about readership, but this go around its finding that women count in terms of readership just as much as men, and they're not amused.  Nor should they be. The Sun, a business like any other, is now finding itself the target of a campaign that seems likely to work.  If it does, and I hope it will, it may be the beginning of the end for the trashy Brit fishwrappers.

 It sounds insignificant, but it's not.  What The Sun did was to follow a trend that the US kicked off, or rather Hugh Hefner kicked off, with his one singular clever idea.  "Girly Mags," as they once were called, had been around for a long time, probably making an appearance only shortly after photography itself.  But they were disreputable trash.  Even magazines the crept up on such depictions, such as the World War Two GI journal "Yank," were regarded as a little unseemly.  Hefner's clever idea, and the only really clever one he ever had, was to make his magazine, Playboy, launched in 1953, glossy and slick, like Life magazine, and to hire some good writers to write in it.  And it didn't hurt that he found some lost photographs of Marilyn Monroe to use in the first issue, taken when she was a young starving actress.  Life magazine saved her career by publishing them first, so that the sting would be taken out of it, saving Marilyn from her early indiscretion, or maybe not. 

The impact of that was to make pornography more acceptable.  That's about it, but that's a lot.  All of the other claims for the magazine are baloney.  In terms of a trend setter, it isn't.  It's rarely on the cutting edge of anything serious, and its popularity really is based solely on chesty female 20 years olds.

But that impact has been huge.  It started off the pornographication of American society and, rather than liberalize sex, it demented it.  Much of what has gone wrong in this are since 1953 can be laid at the door of the ossified creep, Hefner.  And amongst the worst impact, is the trinkitization and objectification of women, reducing them from real people to toys.

It's coincidental that feminist movements came up at the same time Playboy did, as they have nothing at all in common.  Most American women, indeed most women everywhere, reject the radical propositions of feminism that suggest there's no difference between men and women, as there certainly are, but it cannot be denied that women's roles have changed enormously in society since 1945, although I'd argue for reason that feminist have very little to do with.  But, as the same time, pornography, which has spread from Playboy into everything, has really set women back.  Women will never achieve real equality with men as long as there are Page 3 girls, or perhaps as long as Kate Upton is willing to go bare chested in Sports Illustrated.  It just won't happen.

Given that, a spontaneous uprising against Page 3 girls is a good sign.  We can only hope that they succeed in getting The Bare Boobs out of The Sun and shed some light of day on women themselves.

So much for the hopeful part of this story.

Back to objectification.  Followers of the news have been the horrified spectators to two suicides of young women who were raped by boys they knew and who photographed it, and distributed it on the social media.  One is the Nova Scotia teen Rehteah Parsons, who in the words of her father took her own life as she was "disappointed to death."  The other was California teen Audrie Pott.  I know less about her motivation, but I suspect it was similar.  Both girls were crushed by the abuse at the hands of boys that they knew, who treated them or at least their bodies like objects. 

At least according to a story I recently heard on NPR, that view amongst males is shockingly common.  Apparently a fairly high percentage of rapist who take advantage of young girls being drunk or otherwise impaired, a situation that has increased with "equality," have no idea that they're doing something wrong, and they don't even grasp why what they've done isn't somehow funny. For the victim it certainly isn't and her trust is forever damaged.  All the more so, as whatever our claims to modernity are, at our root, we remain the primitive people we started out with, whose psychology does not accommodate a "sexual revolution" and which still expects men, at some level, to be their protector.  And men should be, no matter what feminist or academics in Ivory towers wish to be the case.

What's that have to do with The Sun and Playboy?  Well, everything.  Prior to Playboy stripping away the shame associated with being a nude in a men's magazine, it was understood that was a species of fallen state.  Not irredeemable, as no fallen state is. But a fallen state none the less.  After Playboy's influence worked its way into the general culture, however, young women became objects. At some point, the culture began not only treating them that way, but expecting them to behave that way.  The entire "hook up" culture is evidence of that (which is, thankfully, dieing away amongst teens today).   A serious model like Kate Upton appearing nearly nude in Sports Illustrated is another. 

So, back again to taking "the Bare Boobs out of the Sun."  Perhaps they'll not only come out of the Sun, but perhaps this will start of women saying enough is enough on being portrayed as toys.  It takes 100 Condalisa Rices, Margaret Thatchers, or Hillary Clintons to make up for just one topless tart, maybe more.  And women are, unfortunately, participating in that demeaning of their gender..  Once that occurs, and shame returns to being part of such depictions, women will be along ways towards real equality.  Or at least perhaps those who would appear on Page 3 might think of the unintended consequences for their young fellows, whom deserve better.

Photo a Day #112 « Just Another Day On The Prairie

Photo a Day #112 « Just Another Day On The Prairie

Photo a Day #113 « Just Another Day On The Prairie

Photo a Day #113 « Just Another Day On The Prairie

Someting no UW geology student could forget

532337_533021693408001_2075080309_n.jpg (JPEG Image, 546 × 768 pixels) - Scaled (77%)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Not noticing the familiar until its unfamiliar.

The west side of Natrona County High School is an area I didn't go to much when I was in high school.  I walked to school for one thing, so I didn't have cause to park over there.  And that area, surrounded by a bunch of very old small houses, was regarded as a bit rough for some reason.  Indeed, when I was a senior there was a riot on this part of the school, although I was there at the time.

Given all of that, I've never really taken note of the neighborhood to any great detail.  But now it's been torn down, as NCHS is gigantically expanding onto the neighboring blocks.  Over the next couple of years, it'll become a much bigger high school.

Now, because of my route to work, I drive through this area ever day.  And as it comes down, probably about a century after it first went up, I've actually taken note of its appearance for the first time, and what hte small houses all look like.

Today In Wyoming's History: April 23: The Man In The Arena

Today In Wyoming's History: April 23:

1910  Theodore Roosevelt delivered his famous Man In the Arena Speech at the Sarbonne.  
 Strange and impressive associations rise in the mind of a man from the New World who speaks before this august body in this ancient institution of learning. Before his eyes pass the shadows of mighty kings and war-like nobles, of great masters of law and theology; through the shining dust of the dead centuries he sees crowded figures that tell of the power and learning and splendor of times gone by; and he sees also the innumerable host of humble students to whom clerkship meant emancipation, to whom it was well-nigh the only outlet from the dark thraldom of the Middle Ages.

This was the most famous university of mediaeval Europe at a time when no one dreamed that there was a New World to discover. Its services to the cause of human knowledge already stretched far back into the remote past at a time when my forefathers, three centuries ago, were among the sparse bands of traders, ploughmen, wood-choppers, and fisherfolk who, in hard struggle with the iron unfriendliness of the Indian-haunted land, were laying the foundations of what has now become the giant republic of the West. To conquer a continent, to tame the shaggy roughness of wild nature, means grim warfare; and the generations engaged in it cannot keep, still less add to, the stores of garnered wisdom which where once theirs, and which are still in the hands of their brethren who dwell in the old land. To conquer the wilderness means to wrest victory from the same hostile forces with which mankind struggled on the immemorial infancy of our race. The primaeval conditions must be met by the primaeval qualities which are incompatible with the retention of much that has been painfully acquired by humanity as through the ages it has striven upward toward civilization. In conditions so primitive there can be but a primitive culture. At first only the rudest school can be established, for no others would meet the needs of the hard-driven, sinewy folk who thrust forward the frontier in the teeth of savage men and savage nature; and many years elapse before any of these schools can develop into seats of higher learning and broader culture.

The pioneer days pass; the stump-dotted clearings expand into vast stretches of fertile farm land; the stockaded clusters of log cabins change into towns; the hunters of game, the fellers of trees, the rude frontier traders and tillers of the soil, the men who wander all their lives long through the wilderness as the heralds and harbingers of an oncoming civilization, themselves vanish before the civilization for which they have prepared the way. The children of their successors and supplanters, and then their children and their children and children's children, change and develop with extraordinary rapidity. The conditions accentuate vices and virtues, energy and ruthlessness, all the good qualities and all the defects of an intense individualism, self-reliant, self-centered, far more conscious of its rights than of its duties, and blind to its own shortcomings. To the hard materialism of the frontier days succeeds the hard materialism of an industrialism even more intense and absorbing than that of the older nations; although these themselves have likewise already entered on the age of a complex and predominantly industrial civilization.

As the country grows, its people, who have won success in so many lines, turn back to try to recover the possessions of the mind and the spirit, which perforce their fathers threw aside in order better to wage the first rough battles for the continent their children inherit. The leaders of thought and of action grope their way forward to a new life, realizing, sometimes dimly, sometimes clear-sightedly, that the life of material gain, whether for a nation or an individual, is of value only as a foundation, only as there is added to it the uplift that comes from devotion to loftier ideals. The new life thus sought can in part be developed afresh from what is roundabout in the New World; but it can developed in full only by freely drawing upon the treasure-houses of the Old World, upon the treasures stored in the ancient abodes of wisdom and learning, such as this is where I speak to-day. It is a mistake for any nation to merely copy another; but it is even a greater mistake, it is a proof of weakness in any nation, not to be anxious to learn from one another and willing and able to adapt that learning to the new national conditions and make it fruitful and productive therein. It is for us of the New World to sit at the feet of Gamaliel of the Old; then, if we have the right stuff in us, we can show that Paul in his turn can become a teacher as well as a scholar.

Today I shall speak to you on the subject of individual citizenship, the one subject of vital importance to you, my hearers, and to me and my countrymen, because you and we a great citizens of great democratic republics. A democratic republic such as ours - an effort to realize its full sense government by, of, and for the people - represents the most gigantic of all possible social experiments, the one fraught with great responsibilities alike for good and evil. The success or republics like yours and like ours means the glory, and our failure of despair, of mankind; and for you and for us the question of the quality of the individual citizen is supreme. Under other forms of government, under the rule of one man or very few men, the quality of the leaders is all-important. If, under such governments, the quality of the rulers is high enough, then the nations for generations lead a brilliant career, and add substantially to the sum of world achievement, no matter how low the quality of average citizen; because the average citizen is an almost negligible quantity in working out the final results of that type of national greatness. But with you and us the case is different. With you here, and with us in my own home, in the long run, success or failure will be conditioned upon the way in which the average man, the average women, does his or her duty, first in the ordinary, every-day affairs of life, and next in those great occasional cries which call for heroic virtues. The average citizen must be a good citizen if our republics are to succeed. The stream will not permanently rise higher than the main source; and the main source of national power and national greatness is found in the average citizenship of the nation. Therefore it behooves us to do our best to see that the standard of the average citizen is kept high; and the average cannot be kept high unless the standard of the leaders is very much higher.

It is well if a large proportion of the leaders in any republic, in any democracy, are, as a matter of course, drawn from the classes represented in this audience to-day; but only provided that those classes possess the gifts of sympathy with plain people and of devotion to great ideals. You and those like you have received special advantages; you have all of you had the opportunity for mental training; many of you have had leisure; most of you have had a chance for enjoyment of life far greater than comes to the majority of your fellows. To you and your kind much has been given, and from you much should be expected. Yet there are certain failings against which it is especially incumbent that both men of trained and cultivated intellect, and men of inherited wealth and position should especially guard themselves, because to these failings they are especially liable; and if yielded to, their- your- chances of useful service are at an end. Let the man of learning, the man of lettered leisure, beware of that queer and cheap temptation to pose to himself and to others as a cynic, as the man who has outgrown emotions and beliefs, the man to whom good and evil are as one. The poorest way to face life is to face it with a sneer. There are many men who feel a kind of twister pride in cynicism; there are many who confine themselves to criticism of the way others do what they themselves dare not even attempt. There is no more unhealthy being, no man less worthy of respect, than he who either really holds, or feigns to hold, an attitude of sneering disbelief toward all that is great and lofty, whether in achievement or in that noble effort which, even if it fails, comes to second achievement. A cynical habit of thought and speech, a readiness to criticise work which the critic himself never tries to perform, an intellectual aloofness which will not accept contact with life's realities - all these are marks, not as the possessor would fain to think, of superiority but of weakness. They mark the men unfit to bear their part painfully in the stern strife of living, who seek, in the affection of contempt for the achievements of others, to hide from others and from themselves in their own weakness. The rôle is easy; there is none easier, save only the rôle of the man who sneers alike at both criticism and performance.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. Shame on the man of cultivated taste who permits refinement to develop into fastidiousness that unfits him for doing the rough work of a workaday world. Among the free peoples who govern themselves there is but a small field of usefulness open for the men of cloistered life who shrink from contact with their fellows. Still less room is there for those who deride of slight what is done by those who actually bear the brunt of the day; nor yet for those others who always profess that they would like to take action, if only the conditions of life were not exactly what they actually are. The man who does nothing cuts the same sordid figure in the pages of history, whether he be a cynic, or fop, or voluptuary. There is little use for the being whose tepid soul knows nothing of great and generous emotion, of the high pride, the stern belief, the lofty enthusiasm, of the men who quell the storm and ride the thunder. Well for these men if they succeed; well also, though not so well, if they fail, given only that they have nobly ventured, and have put forth all their heart and strength. It is war-worn Hotspur, spent with hard fighting, he of the many errors and valiant end, over whose memory we love to linger, not over the memory of the young lord who "but for the vile guns would have been a valiant soldier."

France has taught many lessons to other nations: surely one of the most important lesson is the lesson her whole history teaches, that a high artistic and literary development is compatible with notable leadership im arms and statecraft. The brilliant gallantry of the French soldier has for many centuries been proverbial; and during these same centuries at every court in Europe the "freemasons of fashion: have treated the French tongue as their common speech; while every artist and man of letters, and every man of science able to appreciate that marvelous instrument of precision, French prose, had turned toward France for aid and inspiration. How long the leadership in arms and letters has lasted is curiously illustrated by the fact that the earliest masterpiece in a modern tongue is the splendid French epic which tells of Roland's doom and the vengeance of Charlemange when the lords of the Frankish hosts where stricken at Roncesvalles. Let those who have, keep, let those who have not, strive to attain, a high standard of cultivation and scholarship. Yet let us remember that these stand second to certain other things. There is need of a sound body, and even more of a sound mind. But above mind and above body stands character - the sum of those qualities which we mean when we speak of a man's force and courage, of his good faith and sense of honor. I believe in exercise for the body, always provided that we keep in mind that physical development is a means and not an end. I believe, of course, in giving to all the people a good education. But the education must contain much besides book-learning in order to be really good. We must ever remember that no keenness and subtleness of intellect, no polish, no cleverness, in any way make up for the lack of the great solid qualities. Self restraint, self mastery, common sense, the power of accepting individual responsibility and yet of acting in conjunction with others, courage and resolution - these are the qualities which mark a masterful people. Without them no people can control itself, or save itself from being controlled from the outside. I speak to brilliant assemblage; I speak in a great university which represents the flower of the highest intellectual development; I pay all homage to intellect and to elaborate and specialized training of the intellect; and yet I know I shall have the assent of all of you present when I add that more important still are the commonplace, every-day qualities and virtues.

Such ordinary, every-day qualities include the will and the power to work, to fight at need, and to have plenty of healthy children. The need that the average man shall work is so obvious as hardly to warrant insistence. There are a few people in every country so born that they can lead lives of leisure. These fill a useful function if they make it evident that leisure does not mean idleness; for some of the most valuable work needed by civilization is essentially non-remunerative in its character, and of course the people who do this work should in large part be drawn from those to whom remuneration is an object of indifference. But the average man must earn his own livelihood. He should be trained to do so, and he should be trained to feel that he occupies a contemptible position if he does not do so; that he is not an object of envy if he is idle, at whichever end of the social scale he stands, but an object of contempt, an object of derision. In the next place, the good man should be both a strong and a brave man; that is, he should be able to fight, he should be able to serve his country as a soldier, if the need arises. There are well-meaning philosophers who declaim against the unrighteousness of war. They are right only if they lay all their emphasis upon the unrighteousness. War is a dreadful thing, and unjust war is a crime against humanity. But it is such a crime because it is unjust, not because it is a war. The choice must ever be in favor of righteousness, and this is whether the alternative be peace or whether the alternative be war. The question must not be merely, Is there to be peace or war? The question must be, Is it right to prevail? Are the great laws of righteousness once more to be fulfilled? And the answer from a strong and virile people must be "Yes," whatever the cost. Every honorable effort should always be made to avoid war, just as every honorable effort should always be made by the individual in private life to keep out of a brawl, to keep out of trouble; but no self-respecting individual, no self-respecting nation, can or ought to submit to wrong.

Finally, even more important than ability to work, even more important than ability to fight at need, is it to remember that chief of blessings for any nations is that it shall leave its seed to inherit the land. It was the crown of blessings in Biblical times and it is the crown of blessings now. The greatest of all curses in is the curse of sterility, and the severest of all condemnations should be that visited upon willful sterility. The first essential in any civilization is that the man and women shall be father and mother of healthy children, so that the race shall increase and not decrease. If that is not so, if through no fault of the society there is failure to increase, it is a great misfortune. If the failure is due to the deliberate and wilful fault, then it is not merely a misfortune, it is one of those crimes of ease and self-indulgence, of shrinking from pain and effort and risk, which in the long run Nature punishes more heavily than any other. If we of the great republics, if we, the free people who claim to have emancipated ourselves form the thraldom of wrong and error, bring down on our heads the curse that comes upon the willfully barren, then it will be an idle waste of breath to prattle of our achievements, to boast of all that we have done. No refinement of life, no delicacy of taste, no material progress, no sordid heaping up riches, no sensuous development of art and literature, can in any way compensate for the loss of the great fundamental virtues; and of these great fundamental virtues the greatest is the race's power to perpetuate the race. Character must show itself in the man's performance both of the duty he owes himself and of the duty he owes the state. The man's foremast duty is owed to himself and his family; and he can do this duty only by earning money, by providing what is essential to material well-being; it is only after this has been done that he can hope to build a higher superstructure on the solid material foundation; it is only after this has been done that he can help in his movements for the general well-being. He must pull his own weight first, and only after this can his surplus strength be of use to the general public. It is not good to excite that bitter laughter which expresses contempt; and contempt is what we feel for the being whose enthusiasm to benefit mankind is such that he is a burden to those nearest him; who wishes to do great things for humanity in the abstract, but who cannot keep his wife in comfort or educate his children.

Nevertheless, while laying all stress on this point, while not merely acknowledging but insisting upon the fact that there must be a basis of material well-being for the individual as for the nation, let us with equal emphasis insist that this material well-being represents nothing but the foundation, and that the foundation, though indispensable, is worthless unless upon it is raised the superstructure of a higher life. That is why I decline to recognize the mere multimillionaire, the man of mere wealth, as an asset of value to any country; and especially as not an asset to my own country. If he has earned or uses his wealth in a way that makes him a real benefit, of real use- and such is often the case- why, then he does become an asset of real worth. But it is the way in which it has been earned or used, and not the mere fact of wealth, that entitles him to the credit. There is need in business, as in most other forms of human activity, of the great guiding intelligences. Their places cannot be supplied by any number of lesser intelligences. It is a good thing that they should have ample recognition, ample reward. But we must not transfer our admiration to the reward instead of to the deed rewarded; and if what should be the reward exists without the service having been rendered, then admiration will only come from those who are mean of soul. The truth is that, after a certain measure of tangible material success or reward has been achieved, the question of increasing it becomes of constantly less importance compared to the other things that can be done in life. It is a bad thing for a nation to raise and to admire a false standard of success; and their can be no falser standard than that set by the deification of material well-being in and for itself. But the man who, having far surpassed the limits of providing for the wants; both of the body and mind, of himself and of those depending upon him, then piles up a great fortune, for the acquisition or retention of which he returns no corresponding benefit to the nation as a whole, should himself be made to feel that, so far from being desirable, he is an unworthy, citizen of the community: that he is to be neither admired nor envied; that his right-thinking fellow countrymen put him low in the scale of citizenship, and leave him to be consoled by the admiration of those whose level of purpose is even lower than his own.

My position as regards the moneyed interests can be put in a few words. In every civilized society property rights must be carefully safeguarded; ordinarily, and in the great majority of cases, human rights and property rights are fundamentally and in the long run identical; but when it clearly appears that there is a real conflict between them, human rights must have the upper hand, for property belongs to man and not man to property. In fact, it is essential to good citizenship clearly to understand that there are certain qualities which we in a democracy are prone to admire in and of themselves, which ought by rights to be judged admirable or the reverse solely from the standpoint of the use made of them. Foremost among these I should include two very distinct gifts - the gift of money-making and the gift of oratory. Money-making, the money touch I have spoken of above. It is a quality which in a moderate degree is essential. It may be useful when developed to a very great degree, but only if accompanied and controlled by other qualities; and without such control the possessor tends to develop into one of the least attractive types produced by a modern industrial democracy. So it is with the orator. It is highly desirable that a leader of opinion in democracy should be able to state his views clearly and convincingly. But all that the oratory can do of value to the community is enable the man thus to explain himself; if it enables the orator to put false values on things, it merely makes him power for mischief. Some excellent public servants have not that gift at all, and must merely rely on their deeds to speak for them; and unless oratory does represent genuine conviction based on good common sense and able to be translated into efficient performance, then the better the oratory the greater the damage to the public it deceives. Indeed, it is a sign of marked political weakness in any commonwealth if the people tend to be carried away by mere oratory, if they tend to value words in and for themselves, as divorced from the deeds for which they are supposed to stand. The phrase-maker, the phrase-monger, the ready talker, however great his power, whose speech does not make for courage, sobriety, and right understanding, is simply a noxious element in the body politic, and it speaks ill for the public if he has influence over them. To admire the gift of oratory without regard to the moral quality behind the gift is to do wrong to the republic.

Of course all that I say of the orator applies with even greater force to the orator's latter-day and more influential brother, the journalist. The power of the journalist is great, but he is entitled neither to respect nor admiration because of that power unless it is used aright. He cna do, and often does, great good. He can do, and he often does, infinite mischief. All journalists, all writers, for the very reason that they appreciate the vast possibilities of their profession, should bear testimony against those who deeply discredit it. Offenses against taste and morals, which are bad enough in a private citizen, are infinitely worse if made into instruments for debauching the community through a newspaper. Mendacity, slander, sensationalism, inanity, vapid triviality, all are potent factors for the debauchery of the public mind and conscience. The excuse advanced for vicious writing, that the public demands it and that demand must be supplied, can no more be admitted than if it were advanced by purveyors of food who sell poisonous adulterations. In short, the good citizen in a republic must realize that the ought to possess two sets of qualities, and that neither avails without the other. He must have those qualities which make for efficiency; and that he also must have those qualities which direct the efficiency into channels for the public good. He is useless if he is inefficient. There is nothing to be done with that type of citizen of whom all that can be said is that he is harmless. Virtue which is dependant upon a sluggish circulation is not impressive. There is little place in active life for the timid good man. The man who is saved by weakness from robust wickedness is likewise rendered immune from robuster virtues. The good citizen in a republic must first of all be able to hold his own. He is no good citizen unless he has the ability which will make him work hard and which at need will make him fight hard. The good citizen is not a good citizen unless he is an efficient citizen.

But if a man's efficiency is not guided and regulated by a moral sense, then the more efficient he is the worse he is, the more dangerous to the body politic. Courage, intellect, all the masterful qualities, serve but to make a man more evil if they are merely used for that man's own advancement, with brutal indifference to the rights of others. It speaks ill for the community if the community worships these qualities and treats their possessors as heroes regardless of whether the qualities are used rightly or wrongly. It makes no difference as to the precise way in which this sinister efficiency is shown. It makes no difference whether such a man's force and ability betray themselves in a career of money-maker or politician, soldier or orator, journalist or popular leader. If the man works for evil, then the more successful he is the more he should be despised and condemned by all upright and far-seeing men. To judge a man merely by success is an abhorrent wrong; and if the people at large habitually so judge men, if they grow to condone wickedness because the wicked man triumphs, they show their inability to understand that in the last analysis free institutions rest upon the character of citizenship, and that by such admiration of evil they prove themselves unfit for liberty. The homely virtues of the household, the ordinary workaday virtues which make the woman a good housewife and housemother, which make the man a hard worker, a good husband and father, a good soldier at need, stand at the bottom of character. But of course many other must be added thereto if a state is to be not only free but great. Good citizenship is not good citizenship if only exhibited in the home. There remains the duties of the individual in relation to the State, and these duties are none too easy under the conditions which exist where the effort is made to carry on the free government in a complex industrial civilization. Perhaps the most important thing the ordinary citizen, and, above all, the leader of ordinary citizens, has to remember in political life is that he must not be a sheer doctrinaire. The closest philosopher, the refined and cultured individual who from his library tells how men ought to be governed under ideal conditions, is of no use in actual governmental work; and the one-sided fanatic, and still more the mob-leader, and the insincere man who to achieve power promises what by no possibility can be performed, are not merely useless but noxious.

The citizen must have high ideals, and yet he must be able to achieve them in practical fashion. No permanent good comes from aspirations so lofty that they have grown fantastic and have become impossible and indeed undesirable to realize. The impractical visionary is far less often the guide and precursor than he is the embittered foe of the real reformer, of the man who, with stumblings and shortcoming, yet does in some shape, in practical fashion, give effect to the hopes and desires of those who strive for better things. Woe to the empty phrase-maker, to the empty idealist, who, instead of making ready the ground for the man of action, turns against him when he appears and hampers him when he does work! Moreover, the preacher of ideals must remember how sorry and contemptible is the figure which he will cut, how great the damage that he will do, if he does not himself, in his own life, strive measurably to realize the ideals that he preaches for others. Let him remember also that the worth of the ideal must be largely determined by the success with which it can in practice be realized. We should abhor the so-called "practical" men whose practicality assumes the shape of that peculiar baseness which finds its expression in disbelief in morality and decency, in disregard of high standards of living and conduct. Such a creature is the worst enemy of the body of politic. But only less desirable as a citizen is his nominal opponent and real ally, the man of fantastic vision who makes the impossible better forever the enemy of the possible good.

We can just as little afford to follow the doctrinaires of an extreme individualism as the doctrinaires of an extreme socialism. Individual initiative, so far from being discouraged, should be stimulated; and yet we should remember that, as society develops and grows more complex, we continually find that things which once it was desirable to leave to individual initiative can, under changed conditions, be performed with better results by common effort. It is quite impossible, and equally undesirable, to draw in theory a hard-and-fast line which shall always divide the two sets of cases. This every one who is not cursed with the pride of the closest philosopher will see, if he will only take the trouble to think about some of our closet phenomena. For instance, when people live on isolated farms or in little hamlets, each house can be left to attend to its own drainage and water-supply; but the mere multiplication of families in a given area produces new problems which, because they differ in size, are found to differ not only in degree, but in kind from the old; and the questions of drainage and water-supply have to be considered from the common standpoint. It is not a matter for abstract dogmatizing to decide when this point is reached; it is a matter to be tested by practical experiment. Much of the discussion about socialism and individualism is entirely pointless, because of the failure to agree on terminology. It is not good to be a slave of names. I am a strong individualist by personal habit, inheritance, and conviction; but it is a mere matter of common sense to recognize that the State, the community, the citizens acting together, can do a number of things better than if they were left to individual action. The individualism which finds its expression in the abuse of physical force is checked very early in the growth of civilization, and we of to-day should in our turn strive to shackle or destroy that individualism which triumphs by greed and cunning, which exploits the weak by craft instead of ruling them by brutality. We ought to go with any man in the effort to bring about justice and the equality of opportunity, to turn the tool-user more and more into the tool-owner, to shift burdens so that they can be more equitably borne. The deadening effect on any race of the adoption of a logical and extreme socialistic system could not be overstated; it would spell sheer destruction; it would produce grosser wrong and outrage, fouler immortality, than any existing system. But this does not mean that we may not with great advantage adopt certain of the principles professed by some given set of men who happen to call themselves Socialists; to be afraid to do so would be to make a mark of weakness on our part.

But we should not take part in acting a lie any more than in telling a lie. We should not say that men are equal where they are not equal, nor proceed upon the assumption that there is an equality where it does not exist; but we should strive to bring about a measurable equality, at least to the extent of preventing the inequality which is due to force or fraud. Abraham Lincoln, a man of the plain people, blood of their blood, and bone of their bone, who all his life toiled and wrought and suffered for them, at the end died for them, who always strove to represent them, who would never tell an untruth to or for them, spoke of the doctrine of equality with his usual mixture of idealism and sound common sense. He said (I omit what was of merely local significance):

"I think the authors of the Declaration of Independence intended to include all men, but they did not mean to declare all men equal in all respects. They did not mean to say all men were equal in color, size, intellect, moral development or social capacity. They defined with tolerable distinctness in what they did consider all men created equal-equal in certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. This they said, and this they meant. They did not mean to assert the obvious untruth that all were actually enjoying that equality, or yet that they were about to confer it immediately upon them. They meant to set up a standard maxim for free society which should be familiar to all - constantly looked to, constantly labored for, and, even though never perfectly attained, constantly approximated, and thereby constantly spreading and deepening its influence, and augmenting the happiness and value of life to all people, everywhere."

We are bound in honor to refuse to listen to those men who would make us desist from the effort to do away with the inequality which means injustice; the inequality of right, opportunity, of privilege. We are bound in honor to strive to bring ever nearer the day when, as far is humanly possible, we shall be able to realize the ideal that each man shall have an equal opportunity to show the stuff that is in him by the way in which he renders service. There should, so far as possible, be equal of opportunity to render service; but just so long as there is inequality of service there should and must be inequality of reward. We may be sorry for the general, the painter, the artists, the worker in any profession or of any kind, whose misfortune rather than whose fault it is that he does his work ill. But the reward must go to the man who does his work well; for any other course is to create a new kind of privilege, the privilege of folly and weakness; and special privilege is injustice, whatever form it takes.

To say that the thriftless, the lazy, the vicious, the incapable, ought to have reward given to those who are far-sighted, capable, and upright, is to say what is not true and cannot be true. Let us try to level up, but let us beware of the evil of leveling down. If a man stumbles, it is a good thing to help him to his feet. Every one of us needs a helping hand now and then. But if a man lies down, it is a waste of time to try and carry him; and it is a very bad thing for every one if we make men feel that the same reward will come to those who shirk their work and those who do it. Let us, then, take into account the actual facts of life, and not be misled into following any proposal for achieving the millennium, for recreating the golden age, until we have subjected it to hardheaded examination. On the other hand, it is foolish to reject a proposal merely because it is advanced by visionaries. If a given scheme is proposed, look at it on its merits, and, in considering it, disregard formulas. It does not matter in the least who proposes it, or why. If it seems good, try it. If it proves good, accept it; otherwise reject it. There are plenty of good men calling themselves Socialists with whom, up to a certain point, it is quite possible to work. If the next step is one which both we and they wish to take, why of course take it, without any regard to the fact that our views as to the tenth step may differ. But, on the other hand, keep clearly in mind that, though it has been worth while to take one step, this does not in the least mean that it may not be highly disadvantageous to take the next. It is just as foolish to refuse all progress because people demanding it desire at some points to go to absurd extremes, as it would be to go to these absurd extremes simply because some of the measures advocated by the extremists were wise.

The good citizen will demand liberty for himself, and as a matter of pride he will see to it that others receive liberty which he thus claims as his own. Probably the best test of true love of liberty in any country in the way in which minorities are treated in that country. Not only should there be complete liberty in matters of religion and opinion, but complete liberty for each man to lead his life as he desires, provided only that in so he does not wrong his neighbor. Persecution is bad because it is persecution, and without reference to which side happens at the most to be the persecutor and which the persecuted. Class hatred is bad in just the same way, and without regard to the individual who, at a given time, substitutes loyalty to a class for loyalty to a nation, of substitutes hatred of men because they happen to come in a certain social category, for judgement awarded them according to their conduct. Remember always that the same measure of condemnation should be extended to the arrogance which would look down upon or crush any man because he is poor and to envy and hatred which would destroy a man because he is wealthy. The overbearing brutality of the man of wealth or power, and the envious and hateful malice directed against wealth or power, are really at root merely different manifestations of the same quality, merely two sides of the same shield. The man who, if born to wealth and power, exploits and ruins his less fortunate brethren is at heart the same as the greedy and violent demagogue who excites those who have not property to plunder those who have. The gravest wrong upon his country is inflicted by that man, whatever his station, who seeks to make his countrymen divide primarily in the line that separates class from class, occupation from occupation, men of more wealth from men of less wealth, instead of remembering that the only safe standard is that which judges each man on his worth as a man, whether he be rich or whether he be poor, without regard to his profession or to his station in life. Such is the only true democratic test, the only test that can with propriety be applied in a republic. There have been many republics in the past, both in what we call antiquity and in what we call the Middle Ages. They fell, and the prime factor in their fall was the fact that the parties tended to divide along the wealth that separates wealth from poverty. It made no difference which side was successful; it made no difference whether the republic fell under the rule of and oligarchy or the rule of a mob. In either case, when once loyalty to a class had been substituted for loyalty to the republic, the end of the republic was at hand. There is no greater need to-day than the need to keep ever in mind the fact that the cleavage between right and wrong, between good citizenship and bad citizenship, runs at right angles to, and not parallel with, the lines of cleavage between class and class, between occupation and occupation. Ruin looks us in the face if we judge a man by his position instead of judging him by his conduct in that position.

In a republic, to be successful we must learn to combine intensity of conviction with a broad tolerance of difference of conviction. Wide differences of opinion in matters of religious, political, and social belief must exist if conscience and intellect alike are not be stunted, if there is to be room for healthy growth. Bitter internecine hatreds, based on such differences, are signs, not of earnestness of belief, but of that fanaticism which, whether religious or antireligious, democratic or antidemocratic, it itself but a manifestation of the gloomy bigotry which has been the chief factor in the downfall of so many, many nations.

Of one man in especial, beyond any one else, the citizens of a republic should beware, and that is of the man who appeals to them to support him on the ground that he is hostile to other citizens of the republic, that he will secure for those who elect him, in one shape or another, profit at the expense of other citizens of the republic. It makes no difference whether he appeals to class hatred or class interest, to religious or antireligious prejudice. The man who makes such an appeal should always be presumed to make it for the sake of furthering his own interest. The very last thing an intelligent and self-respecting member of a democratic community should do is to reward any public man because that public man says that he will get the private citizen something to which this private citizen is not entitled, or will gratify some emotion or animosity which this private citizen ought not to possess. Let me illustrate this by one anecdote from my own experience. A number of years ago I was engaged in cattle-ranching on the great plains of the western Unite States. There were no fences. The cattle wandered free, the ownership of each one was determined by the brand; the calves were branded with the brand of the cows they followed. If on a round-up and animal was passed by, the following year it would appear as an unbranded yearling, and was then called a maverick. By the custom of the country these mavericks were branded with the brand of the man on whose range they were found. One day I was riding the range with a newly hired cowboy, and we came upon a maverick. We roped and threw it; then we built a fire, took out a cinch-ring, heated it in the fire; and then the cowboy started to put on the brand. I said to him, "It So-and-so's brand," naming the man on whose range we happened to be. He answered: "That's all right, boss; I know my business." In another moment I said to him: "Hold on, you are putting on my brand!" To which he answered: "That's all right; I always put on the boss's brand." I answered: "Oh, very well. Now you go straight back to the ranch and get whatever is owing to you; I don't need you any longer." He jumped up and said: "Why, what's the matter? I was putting on your brand." And I answered: "Yes, my friend, and if you will steal for me then you will steal from me."

Now, the same principle which applies in private life applies also in public life. If a public man tries to get your vote by saying that he will do something wrong in your interest, you can be absolutely certain that if ever it becomes worth his while he will do something wrong against your interest. So much for the citizenship to the individual in his relations to his family, to his neighbor, to the State. There remain duties of citizenship which the State, the aggregation of all the individuals, owes in connection with other States, with other nations. Let me say at once that I am no advocate of a foolish cosmopolitanism. I believe that a man must be a good patriot before he can be, and as the only possible way of being, a good citizen of the world. Experience teaches us that the average man who protests that his international feeling swamps his national feeling, that he does not care for his country because he cares so much for mankind, in actual practice proves himself the foe of mankind; that the man who says that he does not care to be a citizen of any one country, because he is the citizen of the world, is in fact usually and exceedingly undesirable citizen of whatever corner of the world he happens at the moment to be in. In the dim future all moral needs and moral standards may change; but at present, if a man can view his own country and all others countries from the same level with tepid indifference, it is wise to distrust him, just as it is wise to distrust the man who can take the same dispassionate view of his wife and mother. However broad and deep a man's sympathies, however intense his activities, he need have no fear that they will be cramped by love of his native land.

Now, this does not mean in the least that a man should not wish to good outside of his native land. On the contrary, just as I think that the man who loves his family is more apt to be a good neighbor than the man who does not, so I think that the most useful member of the family of nations is normally a strongly patriotic nation. So far from patriotism being inconsistent with a proper regard for the rights of other nations, I hold that the true patriot, who is as jealous of the national honor as a gentleman of his own honor, will be careful to see that the nations neither inflicts nor suffers wrong, just as a gentleman scorns equally to wrong others or to suffer others to wrong him. I do not for one moment admit that a man should act deceitfully as a public servant in his dealing with other nations, any more than he should act deceitfully in his dealings as a private citizen with other private citizens. I do not for one moment admit that a nation should treat other nations in a different spirit from that in which an honorable man would treat other men.

In practically applying this principle to the two sets of cases there is, of course, a great practical difference to be taken into account. We speak of international law; but international law is something wholly different from private of municipal law, and the capital difference is that there is a sanction for the one and no sanction for the other; that there is an outside force which compels individuals to obey the one, while there is no such outside force to compel obedience as regards to the other. International law will, I believe, as the generations pass, grow stronger and stronger until in some way or other there develops the power to make it respected. But as yet it is only in the first formative period. As yet, as a rule, each nation is of necessity to judge for itself in matters of vital importance between it and its neighbors, and actions must be of necessity, where this is the case, be different from what they are where, as among private citizens, there is an outside force whose action is all-powerful and must be invoked in any crisis of importance. It is the duty of wise statesman, gifted with the power of looking ahead, to try to encourage and build up every movement which will substitute or tend to substitute some other agency for force in the settlement of international disputes. It is the duty of every honest statesman to try to guide the nation so that it shall not wrong any other nation. But as yet the great civilized peoples, if they are to be true to themselves and to the cause of humanity and civilization, must keep in mind that in the last resort they must possess both the will and the power to resent wrong-doings from others. The men who sanely believe in a lofty morality preach righteousness; but they do not preach weakness, whether among private citizens or among nations. We believe that our ideals should be so high, but not so high as to make it impossible measurably to realize them. We sincerely and earnestly believe in peace; but if peace and justice conflict, we scorn the man who would not stand for justice though the whole world came in arms against him.

And now, my hosts, a word in parting. You and I belong to the only two republics among the great powers of the world. The ancient friendship between France and the United States has been, on the whole, a sincere and disinterested friendship. A calamity to you would be a sorrow to us. But it would be more than that. In the seething turmoil of the history of humanity certain nations stand out as possessing a peculiar power or charm, some special gift of beauty or wisdom of strength, which puts them among the immortals, which makes them rank forever with the leaders of mankind. France is one of these nations. For her to sink would be a loss to all the world. There are certain lessons of brilliance and of generous gallantry that she can teach better than any of her sister nations. When the French peasantry sang of Malbrook, it was to tell how the soul of this warrior-foe took flight upward through the laurels he had won. Nearly seven centuries ago, Froisart, writing of the time of dire disaster, said that the realm of France was never so stricken that there were not left men who would valiantly fight for it. You have had a great past. I believe you will have a great future. Long may you carry yourselves proudly as citizens of a nation which bears a leading part in the teaching and uplifting of mankind.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Old Technology, New Technology, Techies, Open Minded and Luddites

One of the frequently visited topics of this blog is the change in various material items, or the introduction of technology.  Some might suspect that the author might be, therefore, a Luddite, or perhaps a Neo Luddite.  This is not so.

That is, I'm far from the vie that all technology is bad, but at the same time keep the point of view that the measure of a material things worth includes (but only includes) its effectiveness.  Something that works well, works well.  That means, of course, that something old that works well may work better than something new that doesn't work as well.  For example, those who are familiar with ranching can't help but note that the horse has outlasted several of its intended replacements, in some of its traditional roles.  I've seen the dirt bike, the three wheeler and the ATV all come and go as rivals to the horse. They just don't cut it in comparison, so the horse keeps on keeping on.

And many other examples of this can be found.  Old Coke was better than "new Coke" because it was.  Lots of old tools do the job as well or better than anything that comes after them.  The big old heavy Dodge Power Wagons are still coveted because nothing compares to them in their intended use.  Cast Iron cookery is better than newer items that are designed for the same purpose, not because they are old, but because the are better.  Espousing all those things doesn't make a person a Luddite, just open minded.

All that is fairly obvious.  When the truly open minded sometimes note that a really old technology or method remains applicable in the modern world in an unexpected way, however, it can be a bit of a shock. Retuning to the horse again, for example, its a mind bender to some to realize that there are armies in the world today that retain mounted troops, and that extensive field forces have been deployed of that type as recently as the 1980s, and actually much later.  Both Portugal and Rhodesia, for example, deployed mounted infantry into the 1980s, in combat.  And mounted rural patrols remain perfectly viable in some places, including parts of the U.S. border, today.  That the horse would remain a viable platform should be self evident, but it comes as a shock.  Its competitors, in this context, offer speed and lower training, but they also are inflicted with noise and cost.  It's a cost balancing matter, therefore, and in some instance, the costs favor the horse.  In a related sort of analysis, some work has been done by economist that show on small acreages horse drawn implements are actually more cost effective, if the cost of the human farmer's labor is deducted, than machinery, up until a certain point at which the speed of the machinery tips the balance. Noting that doesn't make a person a Luddite, just a bit eccentric.

What does make a person a bit of a Luddite, however, is refusing to accept that any technology is either an improvement or useful. . . or in sometimes necessary.  I recently ran across an odd example of that.

As folks who stop here know, I'm a lawyer.  Moreover, I'm a lawyer in Wyoming, which means that I travel around quite a bit.  I was also an "early adopter" of the Internet, which was coming into law firms just at the time I entered the law, which is about a quarter century ago now.  Most younger lawyers, I'm sure, can't imagine a day when every firm didn't have the Internet, but I do.  We were just getting dial in when I started up. We still had to go to the county law library to use Westlaw at that time, which I frequently did.  Now, of course, we all have West Law on our PCs, and were connected all the time, literally.  Is that good or bad?  Well, I've debated that, even here on this site, and there are good and bad elements to that.  But anyway you look at it, it is.

Part of that, of course, includes email.  We use email constantly.  And it has very much impacted how we work, I realized today.  And that's where, perhaps, the Luddite aspect of this kicks in.

I won't say that every type of business everywhere must have internet connectivity.  But law firms must.  A firm without the net is not only a rarity, but obsolete.  I've come to assume that most law firms have a webpage dedicated to their firm.   Having one wouldn't be absolutely necessary, but it's darned near necessary.  It's like having a sign out in front of your shop.

Email is necessary.  I don't know how any lawyer can operate without email.  But today I ran across one, to my surprise, that didn't.

In this case the lawyer was across the continent, literally.  I've been having trouble catching him by phone, and he's been having trouble catching me.  That's easy to occur in this situation.  When I first come into the office most mornings, I probably have a series of early morning emails to catch up with. At that same time, this fellow is doing his mid morning work.  By mid morning, when I might have the best chance of calling from my office, he's probably gone for lunch.  When he comes back and returns my call, I may be just getting back or be out doing something.  If I call him after 3:00, he's probably gone, and so on.  

However, if a person has email.  None of this matters.  I'd catch him first thing in the morning with an email, or vice versa, and we can exchange them over a day so that, in the course of one day, we'd probably be well on our way to having whatever it was all worked out.  So, I went to find his firm website so I could send him an email.

Low and behold, I couldn't find a website, or even an email address.  His state bar listing didn't even list a fax number.  Finally, I had my secretary call his to ask for a fax number or email address.  They did have a fax number.

Here I'll digress that whenever I call this office, the receptionist is invariably snooty.  That may be, in part, because I have a Rocky Mountain accent (yes, there is such a thing) and I'm dealing with somebody who has a certain distinct regional accent.  She might not be able to understand me, and I can't really understand her all that well.  Or she might just be a bit rude.  I always find that odd in a receptionist.  I'm just trying to call her boss on a work matter, which would seemingly be good for us both.  Treating me like an annoyance would not seem to be warranted.  Oh well.

Anyhow, I resorted to the fax, a technology that seemed pretty amazing when I started 23 years ago but which now seems sort of redundant to email.  Oh well.  But here, I can't grasp how, or even why, somebody in this line of work wouldn't adopt this technology.  Shoot, here we couldn't get by without it now, as everyone else has it, and that's the speed at which we must work.  Indeed, even Iphones are a necessity, as they pick up email.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Regional Comparisons and Terror in Boston

Generally, I try to stay away from domestic contemporary politics in this blog.  It isn't that I don't have a lot of views on the topic, I do, but rather, that's not what the focus of the blog is about, and the very few people who stop in here don't do that in order to read my political views on one thing or another.  And even in this post, I don't really mean to do that.

None the less, as the thought occurred to me, and as I've now heard the same thing from other people, including people I don't really know, I might as well note that the response to the recent Terrorist attack in Boston takes at least some people here off guard, just because we are pretty sure that things wouldn't play out the same way. That's not a criticism of Boston, but it shows that things really are not the same here.

In response to the attack in Boston by two radicalized Islamic Chechen brothers, the city was shut down.  And, as we know, it was shut completely down.  People were urged to stay indoors, and apparently they largely did. The fugitive brother who was on the run was discovered by a homeowner who noted that something was amiss with his boat and called the authorities.

Perhaps that's what would have happened here, but I doubt it.  I suspect here that the city would urge people not to run around and remain indoors, but not seek to require it.  Frankly, however, I think around here that a lot of people probably would arm themselves quickly, and the fugitives best chance for surviving the entire thing would have been to surrender to authorities as quickly as possible.  Being on the lam would expose a person in that situation, here, to an almost overwhelming risk of getting shot by a regular citizen.

I don't say this in order to argue a political point one way or another, it just is.  A fair number of people here have a gun nearby or on themselves all the time.  In the same circumstances I suspect that number would dramatically increase.  Wyoming allows for the concealed carry of firearms by everyone, without permit, if they meet the criteria for having a permit issued.  Quite a few people believe, erroneously, that this means all Wyomingites may carry a concealed weapon and quite a few do.  People would be surprised, even here, how many people casually have a handgun on them, or nearby, on any given day.

Our local newspaper, which is declining in quality and extent seemingly with every passing year, is owned elsewhere and runs anti gun material pretty regularly, probably part of the reason that the paper is fading away.  Recently the paper's editor ran an article noting that, in the 19th Century, quite a few Wyoming towns banned the carrying of arms, in the open, on the street, the attempt being to suggest that there was no carry culture in the West at the time.  The paper probably should have considered its point in context, but being able to discern and investigate is not the long suit of the paper.  What the paper might have also noted is that the towns were tiny at the time, and based upon the amount of shooting of one kind or another, and the lack of local law enforcement, and the general do it yourself nature of the law at that time, that might have not really meant particularly much.  At any rate, Tribune aside, there's definitely been easy familiarity with firearms in the West for quite some time,, and that's quite true now.

It's often pointed out that the 2nd Amendment, which protects the right to keep and bare arms, is tied to some sort of militia provision, with that being argued back and forth.  Critics of the right sometimes suggest that the amendment is an anachronism, because in the day in which it was written access to firearms might keep a person alive if suddenly attacked by Indians. . . or perhaps the British or the French, and that such local attacks no longer occur.  Maybe that's been over analyzed, however, as it now seems the greatest external military danger to average citizenry is in fact the random attack by Terrorist in our midst, which  is difficult to do anything about.  I'm not suggesting, or even beginning to suggest, that everyone should carry a firearm in order to guard against the extremely remote chance that they're attacked by a Terrorist.  Indeed that risk is infinitely small.  But rather, the only point in this post is to observe how different some things are in different regions of the country.  Once again, here, I suspect that in short order the guilty's best bet would be to surrender as quickly as possible, as it'd be far more likely that such a person would otherwise get shot by a common citizen.  Is that good or bad?  Hard to say really, but it is different.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Press

When I was quite young, in my teens, I briefly considered a career as a reporter.  Not long; the concept probably lasted less than a year.  I was on the high school newspaper at the time, and it seemed like fun, but it was just a passing fancy.  I think the idea sort of appealed to me as it was a writing job, and I like writing.

Since that time, through my work in the law, I've come to be exposed to newspaper reporters, and television reporters, form time to time, and I'm glad that the concept didn't take hold.  People criticize lawyers for manipulating facts, but I've learned to distrust reporters like no other group of people I have ever met.  It's terrible to regard an entire class of people as suspect, but my exposure to reporters has lead me to be very suspicious of all of them.

With only one clear exception in mind, I've also concluded that print reporters are ignorant of the topics they report on, and seemingly incapable of becoming informed on them.  Perhaps that explains, but only partially, what seems to come across as dishonesty.  It could be ignorance..  The one exception, I'd note, was a reporter for the Buffalo Bulletin, whose report on a trial I was in (as an attorney, of course) was highly accurate.  It was actually a surprise to me to read the article and find it fair and accurate, as I don't expect that out of reporters.  The Buffalo Bulletin is a small newspaper, and doesn't even report every day, but I'll give it credit for being accurate, at least in that instance.

In comparison to that, ever other item I've ever had that was reported on by a newspaper was reported on somewhat inaccurately, and in once recent case, massively inaccurately.

The recent example has been the most distressing, as the reporting has either been willfully inaccurate or negligently inaccurate.  I'd hate to think that reporters form an agenda and report accordingly, as they are so often accused of doing, but in this instance, I see little other choice but to conclude they have a view, and they're campaigning for it.  Shame on them.  Reporting inconvenient truths is one thing, manipulating news quite another, and printing outright errors as the truth quite another still. Even worse, to distance oneself from a second journalist that is a superior to the first, who then wrote an article that contained at least one outright, and material, mis-truth is inexcusable.

Perhaps even somewhat worse, the old virus of Yellow Journalism is still with us, which we often think is not.  Reporters like to deny that they have an agenda, but in at least two cases I've handled it seemed fairly clear that they did, and in one it would strain credibility to feel that they did not.  Accusations against journalist to the effect that they're basically a propaganda arm for the political left can be close to the truth, at least on a selective basis.  We like to think that the days of "You supply the pictures and I'll supply the war" are over, but at least on a more local level, they don't seem to be.  Perhaps that's because the Press needs a controversy, and a story which would relate that everyone is fully informed, and everyone in agreement, on any one public topic, doesn't make for much of a story.

That may provide the basis for coloring some truths, failing to report others, and just making stuff up otherwise, but it's no excuse.  Journalist like to proclaim that their first in the fight to protect the First Amendment, even while they'll be first in the fight to trample the rights of others.  But misuse of a right doesn't protect it, it tarnishes it. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

History through film:

Local announcement. Just sort of interesting:
 Natrona County Schools
The last unit that the students will be learning in 9th grade Social Studies this year covers World War II and we are starting this week. We will spend approximately 11 class days (about 1 month) learning and assessing this material.

While we are studying this unit we will be studying the Causes of World War II, The Holocaust, America at Home, Major Battles in both the European and Pacific Theaters, How WWII Ends, and a brief discussion of the start of the Cold War.

We know that this can be a very busy time of year for all of our students. We would really emphasize student attendance and participation during this unit. Some of the materials that we will be using during this unit will include pictures, first-hand accounts/journals, audio, and videos. Some of these materials will be graphic as they depict scenes of war and violence, the Holocaust, Internment camps, etc. We will be discussing with the students that we expect a higher level of maturity during this unit.

There are a plethora of great movies and literature that depict different aspects of this time period. While we will not be showing any feature films during class, they may offer an opportunity for you at home to connect with your student regarding the material. Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, Longest Day, Midway, Band of Brothers, The Pacific, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, and many others would be examples of this material.

General Agenda:
Day 1: Causes of WWII
Day 2: Holocaust
Day 3: (Quiz #1) America at Home
Day 4: Japanese Internment
Day 5: (Quiz #2) Early WWII Battles
Day 6: Cont. Battles
Day 7: (Quiz #3) Ending the War/Cold War
Day 8: Test
Day(s) 9-11: Genocide, Hate Groups, Nuclear Proliferation
Please do not reply to this email as it will be sent to an automated and unmonitored inbox.
 Natrona County Schools
Starting Friday, April 12, we will be showing some G and PG rated WWII movies at lunch time for any students looking for some enrichment. I can't guarantee that we will be able to stick to this schedule, but we should be close. We will push play at 12:55 most days to give everyone an opportunity to grab lunch and come up. I will let campus security know that this is happening.

4/12-4/16 Friday, Monday, and Tuesday lunches: We will watch "The Great Dictator" starring Charlie Chaplin in a parody of Hitler and Nazi Germany in the late 1930s. Rated G
4/17-4/22 Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday lunches: "Chicken Run" An animated re-make of Steve McQueen's "The Great Escape".
4/22-4/26 Monday, Thursday, Friday lunches: "The Longest Day" a film about the D-Day invasion that features one of the greatest assembled casts of actors in film history. Rated G.
4/29-5/1 Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday lunches: "The Sound of Music"
5/2-5/6 Thursday, Friday, and Monday lunches: "Midway"
5/7-5/9 Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday lunches: "South Pacific"
Please do not reply to this email as it will be sent to an automated and unmonitored inbox.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

'He Saved Hundreds': Army Chaplain To Get Medal Of Honor : The Two-Way : NPR

'He Saved Hundreds': Army Chaplain To Get Medal Of Honor : The Two-Way : NPR

Not that local. Dairies

Meadow Gold dairy truck.   "From local farms to local families."

Some time ago I was hiking from my mechanic's shop down to work, after dropping my truck off to be worked on, and saw this Meadow Gold delivery truck at our hospital.

Now, let me first note that I don't have anything against Meadow Gold milk, etc.  At any one time there's a good chance that there's a gallon of Meadow Gold milk in my refrigerator, although I also don't pay all that much attention to what milk brand I'm buying.  The big decision in milk purchases here is whether to buy whole milk or 2% milk.  My wife buys 2%, I buy whole milk.  I do this because I like the way whole milk tastes better and I disregard the whole fat content thing because, well, whole milk tastes better.  

I feel somewhat justified in this view, by the way, because a recent study suggests that whole milk wasn't as bad for you as some want to believe, but I mostly feel that way because it validates my desired view.  It's part of the same thinking, on my part, that causes me to chuckle a bit in glee with the fact that my coffee addition is turning out to be a good thing.  Ha!

But I digress.

What caused me to take this cell phone photograph is the truck's claim that the milt the truck is hauling goes "From local farms to local families."  What does that mean?

It doesn't mean that the milk comes from a farm outside of town, that's for sure.  In spite of very occasional attempted start ups, there hasn't been a local dairy milk farm here for decades.  There was one, or perhaps more than one, at one time, but that's an extremely long time ago.
Dairy farmer in Waterloo Nebraska.

Local dairies were, at one time, the rule nearly everywhere in the United States.  At that time there were dairy farmers who did indeed milk a herd of dairy cattle every day, and truck the milk to a local creamery. Casper had a local creamery at one time.  But this is very much a thing of the past.  There's no local creamery, and there's no local dairy farmers.

Downtown location of the Jersey Creamery in Casper Wyoming, now long gone.

The reasons for this are varied, with some being national in origin, and others being local.  Some, seem to me, to be obscure.  Locally, truth be known, Natrona County Wyoming was a hard place for a diary to start with.  The area is great cattle country, but very poor dairy cow country.  Beef cattle, in this region, basically wonder around the vast prairie and are fed in the winter out on the range.  Dairy cattle are fed on their farms all year long, and fed a lot, as producing milk is a calorie intensive business. This means that hay farming is an absolute local necessity for a dairy.  For beef cattle producers, hay is something we buy for the winter, and we can gauge which type is what we'll buy by need and price.  Dairy cattlemen, however, need a constant supply of high quality forage . . and they won't be finding that here on their farms on a  year around basis. This may explain why certain Quixotic efforts to start local dairies in the past two decades have rapidly failed.

Another aspect of this, however, is that milk more than other types of agricultural products, is uniquely suited for mass processing and delivery.  Milk was delivered to people's houses daily up until the 1970s (at least locally), which made a local distributor's economic viability a little easier, but even as early as the 1940s the large chain grocery stores would generally only carry their own brands.  This meant that local dairies had to principally rely on home deliveries, which of course, as noted, they did, also delivering butter in some cases and also taking specialty Holiday orders..  But its likely that societal changes slowly did that in.  I can't be precise on it, of course, but there must be some changes that caused the convenience of home delivery to give way to simply picking milk up at the store.  Indeed, as home delivery seems so convenient to me, and lasted so long, I'm struggling a bit to determine what the cause of the demise was, but it may simply have been that people work odder hours, and move around a lot more, than they once did.  Other types of home delivery have also fallen off in the past half century too, and it's fairly rare to find a grocery store that will deliver, like they once did.

 Milk man delivering milk to transient worker location, 1930s.  Note the uniform, which was the norm at the time.

Before I move on from that, for what it's worth, as home milk delivery seems like such an oddity to people who have never experienced it I'll simply note that, when I was a kid, this was done by men who drove around time very early in the morning with a refrigerated van.  We kept an insulated box, provided by the creamery, on our back porch and that's where he left the milk.  I remember that as I got a bit older if I was awake I could hear him drive up and delivery the milk, which seems to me to have been usually around 5:00 am. In earlier years, however, in most places this same service was done by a man who used a horse drawn wagon.  Both of my parents had recollections of milk being delivered in this fashion.  In my mother's case, her recollection was that the neighbor's dog hated the milk cart horses and would bark his head off at them.   My father remembered milk being delivered this way in Denver in what was probably the 1930s.

Anyhow, home delivery, no matter how convenient, couldn't keep local dairies going, even if I'm not sure why that was.  Perhaps the lack of a local source of milk contributed to that.  Perhaps also the price of fuel which shot through the roof in the early 1970s had a contributing influence.  And, I suspect, a more mobile society in which both men and women were routinely employed probably also had something to do with it.

Man delivering bottles to washed.  

Another factor, however, probably is that milk must be processed.  Milk, at least commercial milk, is pasteurized and it's no doubt easier to pasteurize a lot of it rather than smaller quantities.  As noted, milk is uniquely suited for mass production, in some ways.  And milk can pose a health danger if not processed adequately.  I suppose that means there is a danger that lurks in large facilities, but if there is, it seems to be pretty minor as milk is very efficiently produced at very low risk to the public.

I suppose given that, I've been very surprised that there's been a movement in the state to allow the local sale of unpasteurized milk.  Some ranchers have kept milk cows for their own families for a long time, and some people with small acreages do as well, but this is a bit different.  Ranchers with milk cows know cows very well in general, and they know what they're doing.  That milk tends to be consumed nearly immediately.  I think this is generally also the case with the very few people with small acreages.  But having a milk cow as a commercial proposition, or a share in a milk cow, which is another way this has been proposed, seems a very poor idea to me. That concept is part, generally, of the "local foods" movement, and whatever its merits otherwise are, it should be kept in mind that milk's a product that requires special care for safety reasons.  Ranchers with milk cows are generally consuming the milk immediately.  People who think that they're simply replacing Safeway with a cow, however, may not be, and may be exchanging safety for a loose concept of the product being better which, in the case of milk, might not match reality.  There has been, I'd note, at least one milk related illness outbreak in the US in 2012.

I also wonder if people who buy unpasteurized milk are in for a bit of a shock.  Most people have never had milk that hasn't been pasteurized and homogenized, and don't realize that unhomogenized milk  tastes different and that the cream separates out.  I've had it just once, when I was a kid, and still recall that it seemed to taste odd.  My wife, whose family did keep a milk cow when she was young, can't stand it, but then she prefers 2% milk, which I don't like.

At any rate, here's another example of something that's really changed, but which we must still look back upon to some extent.  There are no more Milk Men, at least there aren't very many, and in a lot of the country, the milk comes from a long ways away.  Local milk producers in some places are having a hard time, which is a shame.  For an area like central Wyoming, however, local milk production wouldn't make very much sense.  Some milk producers, as noted above, are emphasizing that they get their milk locally, but that would seemingly require a little explanation to make sense.  Probably what it means is that the milk was local to where it was processed, probably down in Colorado, but not to us here in Wyoming.  Nor could it be, really.