Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Uniform Bar Exam, early tell of the tape.

One of the threads most hit upon here is the one on the Uniform Bar Exam.  As folks who stop in here will recall, Wyoming's adoption of the UBE put the state in a class of states which now uses it, and which basically allow a person taking the test in one state to be admitted to practice in nearly any other state which uses it. 

When this passed, I maintained that the end result would be the exportation of legal jobs from Wyoming into the hands of out of state law firms, probably mostly in Denver.  Well, the state reported admissions from the last test the other day, and therefore it might be interesting, in this context, to look at the results.  Now, it must be considered of course that this was the mid winter test, which is always a bit abnormal anyhow, as recent law school graduates do not take it, and the results of one single test might not mean that much. And even if they do, we might not quite recognize what they actually mean. With that said, here's the results, with the names admitted..

Wyoming State Bar Members,

The Wyoming State Bar today announced that 23 people have been recommended for admission to practice law in Wyoming.  An admission ceremony before the Wyoming Supreme Court and the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming will be held this fall. The ceremony will be a combined ceremony of both Courts at the Wyoming Supreme Court building.

The Wyoming State Bar and the Wyoming Supreme Court would like to congratulate these future members of the Wyoming State Bar.

The following people are being recommended for admission after receiving a passing score on the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) and meeting all other requirements for admission.

The Uniform Bar Exam consists of three major parts:
  1. The Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) - This portion of the UBE test has been used in Wyoming for many years and is now used in every state except Louisiana.
  2. The Multistate Essay Exam (MEE) - Essay questions on major areas of the law.
  3. The Multistate Performance Test (MPT) - Requires prospective lawyers to complete practical application of the law on tasks associated with certain resource materials. 

  •  – Cody, Wyoming
  •  – Ft. Collins, Colorado
  •  – Denver, Colorado
  •  – Cheyenne, Wyoming
  •  – Denver, Colorado
  •  – Enid, Oklahoma
  •  – Cheyenne, Wyoming

The following people are being recommended for admission after successfully transferring a passing score from another UBE jurisdiction and meeting all other requirements for admission. Scores are only transferrable between those states that have adopted the Uniform Bar Exam.        

  •  – Ft. Collins, Colorado
  •  – Ft. Collins, Colorado
  •  – Torrington, Wyoming
  •  – Dayton, Wyoming
  •  – Belle Fourche, South Dakota

The following people are being recommended for admission on motion. This applies when attorneys are licensed in another jurisdiction and meet all requirements without examination in Wyoming.

  •  – Lakewood, Colorado
  •  – Salt Lake City, Utah
  •  – Denver, Colorado
  •  – Bethpage, Tennessee
  •  – Riverton, Utah
  •  – Williamsville, New York
  • – Denver, Colorado
  •  – Ft. Morgan, Colorado
  •  – Castle Rock, Colorado
  • – Lakewood, Ohio
  •  – Denver, Colorado
 Pretty interesting results.

So we have twenty three people who are being admitted.

Of the twenty three, seven actually took the test here.  So, less than 1/3d of those being admitted, took the test in Wyoming.  Of those, three indicated that Wyoming was their home, but that may be deceptive.  Recent grads of a law school might really be from Wyoming, or might have long ago determined to make Wyoming their home but still reflect their homes of origin.  Still, interesting results.

Five transferred in scores from another state's UBE, almost the same number as which took it in Wyoming.  Of those five, two list their homes as Wyoming.  Again, the same caveats on home listings remain, and additionally its not really uncommon for new lawyers to take a bar exam in more than one location, so this may be a variant of that.

Finally, there are those being admitted by motion, which basically means being waived in.  I don't know what the current rules on reciprocity are, but basically that reflects states with which we had reciprocity prior to the UBE.  This is something that has been slightly controversial over the years as well, as at one time, within the past 20 years, the state Bar halted reciprocity, and then re authorized it.  Like the UBE, in my view, reciprocity isn't the greatest idea in the world, but it does generally take into account some years of practice usually as an element.  Eleven lawyers are coming in through reciprocity.  At least we know they took a real state specific bar exam somewhere.

So, what if anything does this tell us?  Well, maybe not much. But what's interesting about these mid winter results is that of the twenty three individuals being admitted to the bar, five claim Wyoming as their home.   Eleven claim Colorado as their home.  Our other neighboring states claim a combined.three.

Mid Week at Work: Sheeperder, Nevada late 1930s

The Casper Journal on the School Bond Issue: I’m a yes

I’m a yes

Monday, April 28, 2014

Naval History Blog » Blog Archive » #PeopleMatter: “Yeomanettes” Paved the Way for Women of All Ratings Today

Naval History Blog » Blog Archive » #PeopleMatter: “Yeomanettes” Paved the Way for Women of All Ratings Today

Society of the Military Horse • View topic - Snapshot from the war in Finland

Society of the Military Horse • View topic - Snapshot from the war in Finland

Society of the Military Horse • View topic - Transporting by rail

Society of the Military Horse • View topic - Transporting by rail

Society of the Military Horse • View topic - Skijoring Finnish Troops?

Society of the Military Horse • View topic - Skijoring Finnish Troops?

World War I in Photos: Introduction - The Atlantic

World War I in Photos: Introduction - The Atlantic

The Big Picture: General Fitzhugh Lee

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Mustang ROTC program turns 100

Mustang ROTC program turns 100

I posted this item yesterday, but did not comment on it.  In thinking on it, I should have.

As the article notes, NCHS's JrROTC program is a century old.  Indeed, I've heard, and believe it to be correct, that it's the oldest JrROTC program in the United States.  Pretty remarkable, really.

As such, it's an institution that's marked the passage of time, and tells us something about the times.  Therefore, it fits into the subject area of this blog ideally, and is worth a closer look.

I graduated from this high school, but was not in JrROTC.  My wife (also not in ROTC) graduated from there as well. . . as well as both of my inlaws, a lot of my cousins, and my father and his siblings.  Our connection with NCHS goes way back, but not all the way back to 1914.

JrROTC was incorporated in the curriculum of the school in 1914 as a mandatory class, on the nation's run up to World War One.  The high school is a land grant school.  We tend to think of land grant schools being colleges and universities, but that category included some high schools as well, and NCHS is one.  As such, back in 1914, the US could require NCHS to have a class on military preparedness, which it did.  The University of Wyoming introduced one about the same time.

This applied only to boys, of course, in an era when solders were in fact almost all male.  It was a very gender differentiated world in those days.  And it was a pretty serious course at that.  The young men were issued uniforms and taught basic solder skills. Drill and Ceremony, some marksmanship, and the like.  They didn't come out of it soldiers, but it took the edge off military ignorance in an era when most Americans hadn't had a family member in the service since the Civil War.   The Army was attempting to speed up training a bit, and it probably accomplished that.

After the Great War, the school kept the program, and kept it mandatory.  It was mandatory all the way up until the mid 1970s when, in the wake of the Vietnam War, the school board made it an elective.  By that time, the district had a second high school which didn't have an ROTC program at all.

In that intervening period, a lot had changed.  During the 1930s the program, I'm told, was one that parents appreciated as the school issued a set of uniforms in an era when money was really tight, and the extra clothing appreciated.  For a time the school even departed from the actual official Army uniform of the era and issued its own, very fancy, blue uniform, although this passed as the nation began to prepare for World War Two.  Keep in mind that money was so tight in this era that the 115th Cavalry Regiment of the Wyoming National Guard was effectively recruiting right in the schools, through a music teacher, and the kids and their parents were glad to join for the extra income.  Not all those recruits were of legal service age either.

It was probably World War Two that really started the changes in JrROTC.  The program was strong during the war, of course, but post war it actually saw some returning servicemen assigned back into it, as they went to complete an interrupted high school career. Suffice it to say, they were a disaster as ROTC cadets.  And the post war world saw a big military with a big training program, and a lot of men in the general population who had military service.  In short, JrROTC was no longer really needed anywhere in the same way that it had been in 1914.  I've actually heard of a story once where an NCHS graduate, who had of course been in JrROTC (he was male) found himself in a formation during basic training in which the DI asked if anyone had been an ROTC cadet. Indicating that he had, he found himself singled out by the DI, who instructed the other trainees to ignore whatever he did.

Juniors in NCHS, in 1946.  Note how many are wearing their JrROTC uniforms for their class picture.

Still, with a big military commitment existing during the early Cold War the district kept the program, and a person can find interesting recollections regarding it.  One really dedicated sports shooter I know noted that it was in JrROTC, which had a rifle team with actual .22 rifles as late as the late 1970s, early 1980s when I was in high school, where he was introduced to the sport.  Another individual I know recalled, in a less nifty recollection, that in the 60s when he was in NCHS they were still issued the old World War Two service uniform, which had wool pants and a wool jacket, and they never took them home for cleaning.

Locally, after Kelly Walsh was built in the early 1960s, and the decision was made not to have a JrROTC program there, an odd situation was created in that students had no choice as to what school to attend as this was determined geographically.  Boys at NC were in JrROTC.  Across town at KW they were not.  Amazingly, the program lived on through the Vietnam War, which says a lot about how the war was viewed in this region.  But times caught up with the program, and in the mid 1970s the decision was made to make it an elective.  I can vaguely recall the school board making that decision, when I was in grade school.  In my mind the number of years between that decision and my own period in high school seems vast, but it really isn't.  I only missed mandatory JrROTC in high school by a few years.

As an elective, it's lived on.  When I was in high school it was carried as a physical education class.  The students who enrolled in it seemed to do so either as they definitely knew that they were going into the service, or in order to have a PE credit that avoided the rough and tumble nature of high school PE here at the time.  Indeed, for some of us who may have been mildly interested, or even definitely interested, in the program the thought that we'd be regarded as shirking PE was enough to keep us out of it. Some no doubt joined it so they could get on the rifle team, which was the only way to do that, and I recall pondering that myself, as I wanted to be on the rifle team. By that time, girls as well as boys were in JrROTC, and there were female shooters on the team.  In that distant era, the indoor range was actually inside the school.

It's kept on keeping and I think today its simply an elective for people who are seriously contemplating military service.  I don't believe its a PE elective, and the atmosphere of the times that existed in my high school years is gone on a a lot of things.  In some ways the odd atmosphere created by the Vietnam War on all things military really didn't creep into Wyoming until the late 1970s, and of course never did to the full extent that they did in other regions, but JrROTC suffered for awhile because of that.  I also think that over time the program has evolved, like a lot of such programs, into more of a leadership and service program than a truly fully martial one. As late as my period of service in the Army National Guard the JrROTC cadets trained for a week at Camp Guernsey, engaged in some sort of annual war game, and had actual rifles for drill team use, none of which I believe to be true any longer.  I can recall being detailed to retrieve the trucks that had been loaned to them by the Army  Reserve, and can also recall having M1 Garands in our Armory that belonged to JrROTC. 

Anyhow, it's interesting how an institution like this, which has survived for so long in the schools, but which is a bit unusual for most schools, marks and reflects the times.


NC's JrROTC program is in the news again this morning, although this time it's for the fine performance of their air rifle team, which won a significant competition for the tenth year in a role.

I note that here, however, as this also illustrates the changing times. The article notes that the rifle team itself dates back to 1914, at which time they used M1903 rifles.  That means they were shooting service rifle competition at the time.

California National Guard rifle team at Camp Perry, 1908.  They are equipped with brand new M1903 rifles.

That's pretty remarkable in some ways as the M1903 is a fully sized rifle, although chances are that the boys on the team had all already shot full sized rifles.  The competition was not of the type that air rifles do at all, but was along range match.  In short, they were shooting in a fully adult competition using rifles that were the Army standard at the time.

Camp Perry, Ohio, where the national championship for service rifle competition was held, and still is.

When my father went to NCHS, JrROTC was equipped with M1917 rifles.  The M1917 rifle was a rifle that the US Army purchased during World War One to supplement the supplies of M1903s, which were arsenal built by the Army itself.  M1917s were built by Winchester and Remington, which had started off making them as the P14, in a different cartridge, for the under supplied British (the "14" stands for the year 1914).  More M1917s existed by the end of World War One than M1903s, although only barely so, and they continued on in some numbers in US use thereafter.  During World War Two the M1903 was used in great numbers, even though the M1 Garand became the most common rifle in US use during the war.  The M1917 saw much less use, but did see some, equipping Chemical Mortar and Artillery units early on, and State Guard units throughout the war.  Apparently it was also supplied to JrROTC units.  My father could remember the serial number of the one he had in JrROTC his entire life.

British Home Guardsmen with P14 during World War Two.

U.S. Marine training during World War Two with M1903 rifle.  One in Seven of all U.S. infantrymen were equipped with the M1903 during the war, and the rifle was the standard rifle for some formations, such as the Military Police.

Just before I was in high school the JrROTC unit there actually had M14s, which is a surprising thought.  I believe that they had the firing pins removed, but that both shows the extent to which JrROTC units had access to real arms, and the depth to which the M14 had fallen as a service rifle.  The M1903 was officially replaced as a line rifle after World War Two, and it had become a specialist rifle during the war at that.  It soldiered on for years and years after the war, but an improved variant of it in the new official NATO cartridge was adopted in the late 1950s. That rifle, the M14, never managed to supplant the Garand and it never even made it into Guard and Reserve units as the standard rifle before the Vietnam War brought on the M16, which ended up replacing it before it had really fully replaced the M1 Garand.  A highly regarded marksmanship rifle, the M14 lived on for a time as a service rifle competition rifle, but it also ended up in a lot of Guard armories and secondary use in the Army when its fortunes fell.

Soldier early in World War Two training with a M1 Garand.

Still, that JrROTC units had M14s is surprising.  At some point in the mid 1970s, however, they were removed and sent back to the Army, which began to reconsider the rifle for certain uses.  The rifle ended up coming roaring back into service in the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, where its accuracy and long range performance made them a better rifle for trained marksmen than the M16 which had originally replaced it.  

U.S. paratrooper in Vietnam, equipped with M14, during 1967's Operation Junction City.  Junction City, fwiw, is the town just outside of Ft. Riley, Kansas.

U.S. infantryman in Afghanistan with rebuilt updated variant of the M14.

When the M14s went, the M1s came back, and when I was in high school they had some M1s.   The drill team used M1903s, however.  About the only time I saw the M1s was when I was in the National Guard, as we had their M1s on some occasion.  They had the firing pins removed.

Well, now times have changed and the rifle team, which shot at a range inside the high school, no longer uses firearms but instead shoots air rifles.  A person can make of that what they want, but its quite a change over a century.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Standards of Dress. Attending school

This is a 9th Grade (Freshman) Class in high school, 1946.  Specifically, is the Freshman class at NCHS in 1946 (the Class of 1949).

Now, some will know NCHS who might read this, others will not. But in 1946 this class attended school in a city that had under 30,000 residents.  It was a city, but it was a city vastly surrounded by the country, as it still somewhat is. This class of boys (there were more in it than those just in this photograph) were from the town and the country.  None of them were big city kids. Some were ranch kids.  I recognize one of them who was.. Some came from families that were doing okay, some from families that were poor.

So how do we see them dressed?  One is wearing a striped t-shirt.  Exactly one.  Every other boy here is wearing a button up long sleeved shirt.  Of those, all but one are wearing ties.

One of the ones wearing a tie is one of my uncles.

Did they turn out with ties just for their photographs that day?  Probably they did.  I suspect so, but even at that, they all actually could come up with ties.  And somebody knew hot to tie them.  None of these boys appears to be enormously uncomfortable wearing a tie.

NCHS Juniors in 1946, this is therefore the Class of 1947.

Here's a few of the boys in the Junior class that year.  Here too, this is probably a bit different depiction of high school aged boys than we'd see today. For one thing, a lot of them are in uniform. As already mentioned in the thread on JrROTC, it was mandatory at the school.  Based upon the appearances of the boys at the time the photograph was taken, this probably reflects relatively common daily male dress at NC.  Most of the boys are in uniform.  Of those who are not, most are wearing button up shirts, but no ties.  A couple have t-shirts.  Nobody's appearance is outlandish in any fashion, and nobody is seeking to make a statement with their appearance.

NCHS girls, Class of 1947, as Juniors in 1946.

Here are the Junior girls that year.  As can be seen, NCHS had a uniform for girls at that time, which appears to have been some sort of wool skirt and a white button up shirt.  They appear to have worn their uniform everyday, as opposed to the boys who must not have.

Uniforms at schools are a popular thing to debate in some circles, and I'm not intending to do that.  Rather, this simply points out the huge evolution in the standards of youth dress over the years.  This is s cross section of students from a Western town.  The people depicted in it had fathers who were lawyers, doctors, packing house employees, ranchers and refinery workers.  They're all dress in a pretty similar fashion, and the dress is relatively plan really.  No t-shirts declaring anything, as t-shirts of that type weren't really around. And no effort to really make a personal statement through dress, or even to really stand out by appearance.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Mid-Week at Work: U.S. Troops in Mexico.

All around the water tank, waiting for a train
A thousand miles away from home, sleeping in the rain
I walked up to a brakeman just to give him a line of talk
He said "If you got money, boy, I'll see that you don't walk
I haven't got a nickel, not a penny can I show
"Get off, get off, you railroad bum" and slammed the boxcar door

He put me off in Texas, a state I dearly love
The wide open spaces all around me, the moon and the stars up above
Nobody seems to want me, or lend me a helping hand
I'm on my way from Frisco, going back to Dixieland
My pocket book is empty and my heart is full of pain
I'm a thousand miles away from home just waiting for a train.

Jimmy Rodgers, "Waiting for a Train".

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Burdens of History. Russia, and not getting it.

Russia has been in the news a lot recently.

That's obviously an understatement, and a cynic might state that "when isn't it?", but Russia hasn't always loomed large in our minds here in the US, like it has in the minds of other nations, principally its neighbors.  This is the case for a variety of reasons that have to do with its history, and also with ours.

Russians don't form, by and large, a demographic we think of much in terms of our immigrant past. This is not to say that there have not been Russian immigrants to the US, there have been, but not in the numbers that other European nations have, if we define Europe to be that land East of the Urals.  Yes, Russians have immigrated to the US, but even that immigration tells us something about Russia that we generally fail to grasp.

The Russians are not a European people, and the sooner we figure that out, the better.  Oh, I know that some student of geography will point out that Russia less Siberia is in continental Europe, which is perfectly true, and I know others would be shocked by that statement as the Russians look European, but they aren't.

How is this true.

Well, we have to look at what is Europe, and we can make a pretty good case that if it isn't Roman, it isn't Europe.

Most of what we think of as European today is European because the Romans were there.  The remainder is that area which Rome influenced, or at least the Latin Rite of the Church did in antiquity.  That's not only pretty significant, its enormously determinant of our cultural outlook.

The Roman Empire occupied all of Europe south of the Rhine River.  A pretty big patch of it.  It also came to occupy the Greek world, which at that time included Greece, the Balkans, Turkey and North Africa. Some will point out that not all of these regions were really "Greek", but it can be noted that they were more Greek than perhaps we suppose, as the Greeks had exhibited a strong influence in the regions where they had gone, even if they were a tiny minority there.  True, we wouldn't expect a majority population of Greeks anywhere in Libya  or Palestine, but that doesn't mean that the Greeks weren't part of that world. They were. And the Romans certainly came to be, although that's outside of our story.

South of the Rhine and south of Hadrian's Wall in Britain the world was Roman.  North of it, it wasn't Roman dominated, but the Romans exhibited influence.  When Rome fell in the 5th Century, it left much of its culture and it certainly left, by that time, the Church.

When Rome fell, and the Germans flooded south, and the Scots landed in Britain, a pagan non Romanized people were introduced to new lands. But that introduction flowed both ways.  It wasn't really long before these new people adopted some things that the Romans had left and they very quickly became members of the Latin Rite of the Church. The spreading of the Church took some time, to be sure.  Scandinavia, for example, was brought into the Christian fold late, and even Poland was pagan for much longer than we would generally suppose, but it did occur.

That's hugely significant in terms of culture. Rome had the view that nationality mattered less than central achievement.  The Roman Empire was founded on crime and was always corrupt, but amazingly it developed high concepts of human unity and it tended to disregard a person's ethnicity in favor of their abilities.  The concept that Celts, Arabs, Greeks, Italians and others could all belong to the same political entity was an amazingly broad one in that or any other era.  The Greeks had regarded non Greeks as barbarians.  The Romans regarded barbarians as being those who did not have the benefit of Roman rule, a distinctively different concept.  When Rome fell, and the Church remained, it left a situation in which the foundation of learning and knowledge was not tribal or national at all, but universal, vested in the institutions of the Universal Church.

So what does that have to do with Russia? Well, Everything.

Russia was a Slavic land on the crossroads of invasion from the East and West. From the East came Asian peoples who had a clear path of invasion, uninhibited by geography. From the west this was also true.  Russia's people fell to these invaders time and time again.  Even the name "Russia" comes from one, the Rus, a Scandinavian people who left their legacy in the form of a name, some cities, and in the strong strain of blue eyes and blond hair that Russians exhibit, unusual for Slavic peoples.

Russia was Christianized from Constantinople.  It wasn't the only country which received its Christianizing missionaries from the seat at Constantinople by any means, and the Church in East was part of the Universal Church at the time. But that still would have a different influence in some ways than being part of the Latin Church tended to be.  Vast expanses of territory proved so difficult in the end that, prior to the Great Schism, Constantinople granted Moscow its own seat, making the Eastern Church in Russia self governing.  When the Great Schism came, Russia went with Constantinople, although not to the degree now commonly imagined.  A major part of the Russian Church made an effort to recognize the Bishop of Rome as the head of the Church, but ultimately that effort mostly failed in Russia proper.

All of this means that Russia is a nation that is simply not European the way that other nations West of the Urals on the European Continent are.  It's been subject to repeated invasion to the extent that it is xenophobic.  It's culture owes little to the same influences that other European nations do.  In terms of its primary historic institutions, its leadership, its army, its Church, it does not look towards the same greater influences that other nations do. Even the introduction of European influences, sometimes occasionally wildly in vogue in Russia, have come as quasi-exotic, or have been forced upon the Russians by leaders who saw their advantages.

Okay, so if that's true, so what?

Well, we're having to live with, or put up with, a pretty active Russia right now. And we just don't get it.  It's clear that our last two presidents really don't get it, with this one not getting it to such an extent he probably ought to go sit in the corner and read up on Russia.

Russia is historically an imperial nation in which the Great Russians conceive of themselves as the protectors of the Slavic, and more particularly Orthodox, world in a way that we can't imagine as we haven't seen a power like this since for a very long time, outside of Russia itself.  They feel this way about things in the same way that the Japanese felt about Asia prior to 1945, or perhaps the way that Germans felt that way about all things German up until 1945., although both of these are imperfect analogies.  We would have supposed that the historically brief and failed experiment with Communism from 1917 (or really, for most of Russia, some point in the 1920s) until 1990 would have changed that, but you cannot really change a culture by force in 70 years.  Particularly not a culture that is as strong as the Russian culture is.  Their culture was, to be sure, extremely badly damaged, and the introduction of the virus of Communism lives on as a strain of infection in the culture in a way that we also don't grasp, but Russia re emerged, after the fall of Communism, ultimately as a Russian nation, after a brief experiment at being a European one.

So what does that mean?

Well, it means that the Russian people, outside of two species of dissident, are conservative in a traditional sense, and are not democratic by habit.  They're also Russian Orthodox in outlook, if not all in practice by any means.  They also will unite behind their ethnicity in a way that Europeans cannot even imagine being today.

Even their dissidents are largely Russian in character.   A few are heavily Europeanized, but that has always been the case. We look towards them, justifiably, as the ones who have the most in common with us.  But they're overwhelmingly located in urban centers, and frankly mostly located just in Moscow.  Others are really species of Bolshevik revolutionaries, fire breathers who would tear down everything in society as the extreme leftist of 1917 would have done, but we don't recognize them as such.  When Americans and Europeans cry for members of an all female band as if they're Jeffersonian democrats, we're foolish in the extreme. We're better off looking at them as the latter day kindred spirits of those who went Red deep in 1917 through 1930.

So, in looking toward Russia, we better get over the idea that it's going to become a true liberal democracy any time soon.  It isn't.  And we better get used to the idea that any place it once had imperial rule over, it would like to again.  Ultimately, only the fear that it will go to far in recapturing the Czars lands will keep it from reclaiming what it lost after the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Most problematic over all of that is that anywhere there's a large Russian population, and there is in most of the former Soviet lands, it's going to view itself as having a right to rule, or at least intervene on behalf of Russians.  Simply yapping at the Russians is not going to change that. And the idea that economic sanctions will is stupid.

But that doesn't mean that the  Russians are a new Soviet Empire in the making. They are not.  Looking back to the Czars empire is a better analogy, and Europe was always able to do that.  That will require Europe to resume having a sense of itself, however, which right now it doesn't seem to. And in a way, Russia can do the Europeans a bit of a favor in those regards.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Alas, (with apologies to Shakespeare).

Alas, poor XP! I knew him, Horatio; an operating system of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy; it hath borne me on its back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! My gorge rims at it. Here hung those icons that I have clicked I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now? Your gambols? Your songs? Your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar?

Mid Week at Work: The Barber

For this week's entry on our occasional series, Mid Week At Work, we have a photograph of a barber, circa the 1940s.  Caption data indicates that this barber had been in business 14 years at the time that this photograph was taken.

Our entry today was inspired by another item posted today on shaving, as shaves are something that barbers routinely did up until the safety razor became predominate, and most barbers still offer saves.  I think I've only seen one do one once, which was on the occasion of a fellow with a big beard coming in to have it shaved off.

Barber Shops are an institution, although oddly enough not as common of one as they once were.  It would have been impossible up through the 1950s at least to imagine an era when there'd be fewer barbers than their used to be, but starting in the late 1970s that in facdt became the case.  It probably started off with the long hair fashion of the 1960s, which came in at fist as a fashion, then evolved (with hair length) into a species of hairy rebellion (witness the musical "Hair!") and then returned to being a fashion.  By the late 1970s all that hair saw the introduction of an occupation called a "hair stylist" which looked dangerously close to the existing occupation of "hair dresser" to most men who were 40 years old or older at the time.  In rural areas, hair stylist still looks suspiciously close to hair dresser to a lot of men, although the stylist seems here to stay.

With the stylist came the decline of the barber and the barber shop, which is a shame.  Barber Shops remain unique places.  In a world in which very few places remain strongly male or female, barber shops are male.  They always have been. That doesn't mean that women aren't welcome to walk in one, and you'll occasionally see women do just that, but when they do, they aren't there to have their hair done so much as to drop a kid off or sometimes to chat about one of the topics that are bastions of conversation in barber shops.

And bastions of conversation they are.  Sports are a huge topic in barber shops.  In rural areas outdoors activities are as well.  My barber and I usually converse hunting, fishing and automobiles, I don't know much about sports, although the barber shop is the one place that I might be able to learn a little about sports.   Barber Shops are also places of great social equality.  Every occupation needs their hair cut, and Barber Shops have always been places where professions and occupations of all types mixed, side by side.  I've been in barber shops where, and I'm not joking, the clinically insane sat right next to lawyers, waiting for haircuts.  And I've seen everything from heavily tattooed roughnecks to Catholic Priests waiting for their turn at the chair. 

It's always surprised me that barber shops have declined because they are such unique institutions and because, quite frankly, economically they compete quite well with the stylists.  Perhaps they're something that we can hope for a revival of, in the future.

The Law, Scams, and why we will do stuff the old way.

Technology has enormously impacted the practice of law. But in an enterprise in which concerns for precedence and stare decisis are major concerns, it's sometimes the case that the institution baffles the public, and even lawyers, by its reluctance to more rapidly fully adopt changing technology. 

I've heard questions raised, for example as to why the law hasn't more rapidly adopted the internet for service of documents.  I think those of us who practice law right now are probably all getting an introduction in that.

Right now, some spammers, seeking to achieve what end I do not know, have launched a campaign in which they send out what appear to be summons of various types by email.  These appear to be jury summons, or court summons, or sometimes summons related to court cases great and small. All bogus.

No court sends anything like this out by email.  Process is still done mostly the old fashioned way, by hand through a process server of one kind or another.  Service by mail exists under the rules for some things, but that's specifically by a certain process. Likewise there is service by publication.  And once cases are commenced, service is now done electronically in Federal Courts, and in some state courts, via a court controlled system. Some courts now allow, in civil cases, service from one lawyer to another by email, but that's a different matter entirely than service of process via a cold email.

In no instance of which I'm aware does any court presume it knows your email address and email you a summons.

Here the wisdom of retaining the old ways are shown.  People abandon email addresses like yesterday's news.  Nothing could be more calculated not to work, than service by email. 

No doubt this scan, whatever it is aimed at, must work for something.  All the sadder in that case.

Society of the Military Horse • View topic - Polo

Society of the Military Horse • View topic - Polo


West Point Cadet shaving with a straight razor in the field.

The first thing I do every weekday, or at least every weekday that I work downtown, is shave.

I don't really like shaving.  I don't want to grow a beard however, so shave I must.  I've been shaving, but not every day, since I was 13 years old.

As noted, I frankly don't care much for it, and I'd likely skip shaving a lot of days if I had the option.  It sort of irritates my skin, and it's just not something that I look forward to doing in any fashion.  Still, for the most part it's been part of my daily routine for decades.  Having said that, prior to my practicing law, I'd skip days now and then, including week days, and I still skip Saturdays usually.  Just because I don't like it.

Shaving is one of those things humans do that go back into vast antiquity.  You wouldn't think so, but it does.  Shaving certainly goes back to classical antiquity, the Romans for example were normally (but not always) clean shaven.  But it goes further back than that.  People who have researched this topic claim there's evidence of ancient cultures sometimes shaving with pieces of obsidian, which is that sharp.  It's also be darned dangerous.

At some point that practice gave way to shaving with razors, a type of extremely sharp knife with unique angles.  Razors were a permanent fixture, i.e., unlike now you didn't toss them out after the edge grew dull, but rather resharpened the edge, or kept it sharp, with a leather strop.

It took some skill to shave with a blade like that, and getting cut was pretty common.  People often chose to get shaved in a barber shop, if they happened to be in one, probably simply to avoid having to use the difficult implement themselves.  Generally, barbers today still have them on hand, and some use them to finish a haircut where the hair meets the beard line or neckline.
 Soldier receiving shave from unit barber with straight razor.

Shaving is much less of a pain now than it was in prior eras.  Thanks to the safety razor.

Patent drawing for the Gillette safety razor.

The safety razors was an invention which allowed for a disposable razor blade to be held in a device that thereby allowed the user to dispense with a razor, i.e., the true super sharp knife.  The design was perfected in the early 20th Century and provided in large numbers to U.S. troops in World War One.  Thereafter it rapidly replaced the old razor.  The device was the safety razor, as it was safer to use than the old hand held blade.

Man shaving with "safety razor."  Dish was brush for making lather can be seen on sink.

Safety razors themselves are a think of the past now.  When I first started shaving, that's what I had, and I used them for what seemed like a long time but it really was not.  At some point in the late 1970s Bic introduced the disposable razor, which you started to see around a lot. And about the same time some company introduced a new style of razor with a disposable head.  When I went to back training, we were required to have two of that type (one of which we never used, as we stored it in our locker so that it was always clean for inspections.

 Soldiers hanging around, one shaving, 1918.

That was the first time I had used one of the new type razors.  When I came back from basic training I briefly went back to the old safety razor, but the new razors really were much better and much more difficult to cut yourself with. Even with safety razors cutting yourself accidentally was pretty common.  At some point in the 1980s the manufacturers stopped making blades for them entirely.

At some point in the 20th Century, most like in the 1920s or 1930s, and certainly by the 1930s, electric shavers started to make their appearance.  Early ones are downright scary to see in photographs, as they actually plugged in. Given that people were using them around sinks and what not, it's amazing that people didn't routinely electrocute themselves.  But by the 1950s they started to be battery operated.  My father had one that he hardly ever used, and which I think he bought for traveling.  I have one as well, for a similar reason.  If I go to industrial plants, and need to shave my mustache off due to plant restrictions, I have it with me.  Otherwise, I don't use it.

Electric shaver, 1930s.

When men used old fashioned razors, they also made their own lather.  This involved using soap chips, which we largely just throw away now, and mixing them up in a bowl with a brush.  You can still get all of these things, including the brush, if you want to do any part of this the old way. According to those who have tried it, the soapy lather made in this fashion is superior to the stuff in the can, but a good brush is outrageously expensive, with badger hairs being the favored material for construction of the brush.

While I never experienced, I've heard of the requirement of a brush being retained in some sorts of military kit well into the 20th Century, by which point hardly anyone made their own lather.  And probably the first time I saw a shaving brush outside of the barber ship was in a military use, albeit in the hands of a Vietnam veteran who had picked up the habit of continually dusting off his M16 with one.  But some people still do indeed use them, and those who do regard the lather they produce as far superior to canned shaving cream.

Canned shaving cream, by the way, is what people used to use around here to dress cattle up for 4H shows, fwiw.  It dries pretty stiff.

At some point in the 20th Century, commercially prepared shaving cream became available, with it first being available in tubes, like toothpaste.  The canned shaving cream wasn't invented until 1949, in spite of what hte clever series of Barbisol "Shave Like A Man" commercials might suggest (Barbisol did exist prior to that, but in tube packaged form).

It's been occasionally noted here, in spite of the routine departures from  it, that the main point of this blog is to explore the period of roughly 1880 to 1920.  Here a least is something that routine and strange at the same time, the change in the way men shave.  And I have to note that as much as I dislike shaving, and I do, I still shave most days.  I don't want to grow a beard.  But had I lived a century ago I'm afraid I would have liked shaving much less.  I can see why some individuals chose to grow beards even in well shorn eras, such as Henry Cabot Lodge who kept his beard in hairy and clean shaven eras.

Henry Cabot Lodge, not a shaver.

Indeed it amazes me that there were eras that were so clean shaven before the safety razor.  You have some eras, like the Civil War era, when everyone gave up on their razors and grew beards, but you have others where everyone is shaved like, for the most part, the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.  Indeed, in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries solders were not restricted from growing beards, like they started to be with the introduction of the gas mask during World War One, but almost none of them did (mustaches were another matter).  Likewise, you'll hardly ever see a photograph of a cowboy with a beard.    

The added amazing part of that, to me, is that these individuals were shaving in the field, which would have involved packing a straight razor and soap chips.  Pretty involved process for people living with a minimal number of things really.  I've shaved in the field, while in the National Guard and in basic training, but I never liked doing it and always felt like I was scratching my face up.  

In contrast, now we have quite a few men who like to have a couple of days beard growth all the time.  That's a look I don't get, but it's become extremely common and accepted.  To me, it always looks like these individuals need a shave, or are growing a beard, but they're not. That's the look they're shooting for.  I've even seen lawyers adopt it, albeit always young lawyers where that look is more common and in.

Anyhow, this post is another noting a trend, and an observation.  Had I lived a century ago, I suspect I would have disliked shaving even more than I do, or been one of those guys who just chucked it and grew a beard.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Estate dispute caused by 'E-Z Legal Form' is a 'cautionary tale,' says justice

Estate dispute caused by 'E-Z Legal Form' is a 'cautionary tale,' says justice

Rodney Dangerfield famously had the lien about "not getting any respect".  It's my guess that most lawyers have felt that way at one time or another, probably frequently.

Here's something I've wondered about for a long time. Now days there are all sorts of advertisements on television about do it yourself legal stuff.  It's easy for people to convince themselves that they can do it all themselves, but a lot of legal stuff is a lot trickier than people might suppose.  There's good reasons not to attempt it.

Entertainers and Drugs. Why?

Recently Philip Seymour Hoffman died of a heroin overdose.  This has been reported as a terrible tragedy, and of course it is.

Not more so, I'll note, than the hundreds of anonymous people who likewise die the same way, but whom aren't well known, or known at all.  Their deaths are equally tragic.

One of the odd things about something like this, as well, is the impulse to excuse away the tragic results of addiction on the basis that addiction is a disease.  As in this posts which maintains that addicts have no free will, and therefore cannot help themselves.  Addiction is a terrible thing, and indeed depending upon the type of addiction it is, they can become lethal, both in the need for the drug and in effects upon the body upon withdrawal from the drugs.  But the tendency in the modern world to label any vice seems self indulgent.  There is hardly any evil of any kind that somebody will not excuse away as a compulsion driven by addiction.  We all have our failings and weaknesses, to be sure, but some act against them and some act with them.  Many do both at different times, or even at the same time. By excusing every vice as an addiction, compulsion or personal quirk serves to excuse them, when perhaps the opposite is more in order.

There is, apparently, a rise in heroin use.  That catches me by surprise as what heroin mostly causes me to recall is the television police shows of the 1970s in which the police were always chasing down somebody distributing heroin.  From what i read in an article in The New Republic the other day, that in fact had its basis in truth as apparently the drug, which is amongst those which is most likely to kills it users, was in fact in big circulation in the 1960s and 70s amongst the poor.  It's a really bad drug, causing a true physical addiction that can result in the user's death.

That leads to the question of why the return of heroin now, and amongst those who don't fit into a dispossessed underclass.  According to the article, the reason has to do with prescription opiates.

Now, I'm not a pharmacist or a doctor, so that narcotics are generally opiates is something I wasn't aware of. But apparently they are, and the article claimed that prescription drugs are the modern gateway to heroin, the same way that marijuana once was.  I don't know that I'm fully convinced of this (it seems a stretch) but that prescription narcotics are now widely abused and stolen is well known. Apparently Realtors now ask people who are showing their homes to remove them from their drug cabinets, because people cruise open homes just to steal them. Anyhow, the thesis is that this has introduced opiates to a new class, who become addicted to them and then move on to an even more dangerous, unregulated drug.

I guess I have to count myself lucky here, and to be careful about being judgmental (which we should always be careful about anyhow) as I have a very hard time imagining why people want to use these drugs in general.  That is, in part, as the few times I've ever had prescriptions in this category, they've made me really sick and I determined after about a day of use that I'd rather just endure the pain, which wasn't as bad as the sad effects of the drugs.  And I can't see what effect they have that a person would enjoy. The one time I've had morphine, after ending up in the hospital due to a horse accident, I couldn't stand it, even though it didn't make me ill.  It made me sleep a weird chemical sleep that is just horrible.

I don't even like the feeling that conventional alcohol gives a person.  I like beer okay, but I don't like to feel any effect from drinking it, which means that I wouldn't be too inclined to sit and drink that much of it.  This doesn't make me virtuous, it makes me lucky.

Anyhow, having said that, even if it is true that the heroin boom is due to prescription drugs, I still can't see why this is so common amongst entertainers.  The most common cited reason is stress.  I guess I can see that a bit, as people in really stressful occupations are more subject to drug and alcohol abuse, and other sorts of vices.  I know that drug and alcohol addiction (as well as other addictions) are regarded as an occupational hazard for lawyers and most state bars have programs to address it.  But that just seems different to me.  Acting as a job wouldn't seem to be stressful in and of itself, although getting roles would be extremely stressful, I'd guess.  For that reason, I'd guess, most actors probably would want to have a back up career, but maybe they don't. And I'd guess that perhaps if a person has been successful that might actually prevent them from having one.  Still, I know that at least some, like Wilford Brimley or Paul Newman have, in the form of farms.  I guess it's easy for me to not appreciate the stress they're under.

Still, it does seem that as a class they're bizarrely subject to problems of a personal nature, and always have been.  It's certainly the case that going all the way back to the silent film days you can find examples of actors having extreme personal problems.  Is this unique to them, or is it perhaps that the vices that average people are subject to simply become better known amongst them. Or perhaps they have the means and opportunity to exercise their failings in a way that average people do not.  Probably the fact that people cater to their vices doesn't help, whereas most people have to hide theirs.  And at least in musicians, drugs have long been a problem.  There are jazz songs dating back to the dawn of recorded music that have drugs, sometimes in a hidden fashion, but often quite openly, as their topic. 

In the end, I guess, I don't know what to make of this topic. But I do feel that one of the tragedies of a tragedy like this, is that we don't really take note of the average people who fall prey to the same ill.

The Vikings are interesting, and complicated. MGM and the History Channel should have left them alone.

I'll confess that when I first read of the History Channel's series, The Vikings, I fully intended to never watch it.  But, I happened to catch an episode and parts of two others.  It's interesting and somewhat captivating I'll admit, but history it isn't.  That's too bad, as the Vikings as a group (and they aren't a group, actually) are interesting, and they should be given a serious treatment, particularly by the History Channel.

Part of the problem I have with the show, I'll note right off the top, is that it fits into Hollywood's recent trend to treat all Christian cultures as hypocritical, and pagan cultures as benighted. Well, baloney.  The Viking age coincided with an age in the British Isles that was deeply Christian, and by that I mean deeply Catholic.  One recent British historian has stated that Medieval England was defined by this, and it was.  Having been Christianized early in the Anglo Saxon period, the English became very devout, to be followed by the Irish and the Scots. The Welsh already were.

But this was a muscular Christianity, not one maintained by wimpy overweight men, as the show seems to want to suggest.  Christian clerics of this period didn't shy much from marching right into pagan cultures and giving them the what for.  When you look at saints associated with the British Isles, or with Scandinavia, of this period, they're a pretty hearty and hail bunch.  St. Augustine headed into the Saxon lands knowing little about them other than that they were ruled by Saxon pagans.  He actually scared those Saxons somewhat, so much so that an early encounter with a Saxon king was arranged to occur on an island, as the king was so afraid that something both supernatural and bad would happen to him, and he didn't want that to occur in town.  St. Patrick, coming decades later, returned to a land where he'd been a slave and started the process of converting it.  He was so tough that he didn't mind walking into druid strongholds and telling them to shape up.

This extends to the early  Christians in Scandinavian lands, I'll note.  Irish Christian slaves in Iceland refused to abandon their faith, and when Iceland experienced a severe earthquake late in this period, they pretty much told the Norsemen that they were getting exactly what they deserved.  Iceland converted by vote of the Althing, its parliament, when the deciding vote was cast by a Norse pagan priest of some sort.  He voted to for the entire island to convert.  Not exactly the portrayal you'll see on television of either Christians (Christian missionaries had landed) or of the Norse.

Additionally, the show has apparently maintained, at some point, that the Scandinavians were ignorant of their being a European world beyond their shores, and that the Europeans were likewise ignorant of them.  No, they weren't.

Europe might be thought of today as being bigger than it is now, which is to say that it was more difficult to travel around in, but it wasn't big.  It's definitely the case that European cultures were aware of their near, and even far, neighbors.

Taking the Anglo Saxons as an example, it should be remembered that they were fairly recent immigrants, in terms of the human time line, to the British Isles themselves, having shown up as invaders and raiders in the 5th Century.  If that sounds a lot like the Vikings, that's because the Saxons, whom seem to have been named after the sword they carried, the "Sax", were not much different at that time.  The Saxons were certainly aware of their near neighbors. So were the Angles, an allied invading group who seem to have lived along the coast of far northern Germany (or what is now Germany) and therefore actually bordered Scandinavian lands.  The Jutes, who apparently came from Jutland, lived in an area that jutted out to sea before they moved over, and likewise they would have been pretty familiar with other coastal people.

Indeed, the great early Anglo Saxon work of literature, Beowulf, is full of references to Scandinavians and the title character seems to be one, living in an area of what we'd regard as southern Sweden. The entire epic Saxon poem has nothing to do with the Saxons at all, but is all about Scandinavians, like the Geats and the Danes.

And the Vikings really got around, which is something that's worth remembering.  They raided far into Russia, giving that country its name, as the Scandinavian tribe that did that, and eventually settled there, was the Rus.  They'd ultimately raid as far south as what is now the coast of North Africa, pretty amazing really. And they hired out as mercenaries as far away as the Byzantine Empire.

That all took time to be sure, and the launching of their raiding did come as a rude to surprise to Europeans.  That sudden spike in violence, which was to last for a very long time, seems to have been due to an improvement in climate conditions giving rise to the Medieval Climatic Optimum. When that occurred, farming conditions improved, followed by an increase in the population all over Europe, but which ironically meant that Scandinavians, who were still living on marginal land, had to look overseas to make a go of it. Some made a go of it by raiding, the verb for which in Old Norse was "viking".  Most looked also towards emigrating, which ultimately took them to England and Ireland, where they moved wholesale communities once they realized that they could, to Iceland once they found it, to Greenland, again once they found it, and to the coast of France, which they scared the French into giving them.

They're an interesting group indeed, the last of the Europeans to live in that fashion, although certainly not the first, and coming in an age in which the Church had scribes who were literate so that the events could be recorded, but also coming at an age in which, by and large, the groups they attacked were stronger than they were, and survived the events to tell the tale.