Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Friday, March 27, 2015

Today In Wyoming's History: March 26

Today In Wyoming's History: March 26: 1895  University of Wyoming Alumni Association founded.

Amazing to think that it's that old, or that it was founded so soon after the University was established.

Unsolicited Career Advice No. 5. How do you become a rancher?

Well, if you aren't rich, or born into it, I"m not too sure you can, at least in the ranch example.

I hate to say that, but this is a question that I've also been asked, which stands quite a part from the "should I go to law school question".  I suppose on the occasional instances in which I get asked this, its because we have cattle and ought to know.

Just here recently I ran a series of posts due to it being National Agriculture Week. And I've run quite a few posts on farming and ranching, and even agrarianism, in the past.  Anyone who has looked at these and seen any career type comments I've made there knows that I'm pretty pessimistic about people who aren't born into agriculture getting into it, although some do manage to do it. One thing about the law that's sure, you don't have to be born into it in order to get into it (and a lot of people born into it, but not all, don't go into it).

All agriculture, it should be noted, is local.  People very often fail to realize that.  Practices that are common 200 miles away might not be where you are, and for that matter, they might even work in your locality.  So it's perfectly possible that a person might be able to walk right on to a farm in some other locality, while they'd never be able to do that in another.  So, Caveat Lector.

Anyhow, at one time, the dream of owning a farm or ranch, and by that I mean a real operation, not 20 acres near a big city which you call a farm or ranch, was a common one.  It's so much a part of the American mentality that, in spite of the fact that agriculturalist are often dismissed as "hicks", it still makes up a common theme in stories, particularly B grade romantic ones.  In the old film Splendor In The Grass the main male protagonist, whose father has big hopes for his career, ends up disappointing the family and becoming a farmer, which we take to be the better (and more American) choice.  In zillions of "Lifetime" type movies, people inherit a ranch in trouble, which they then rescue, or move to a relatives rustic ranch, where they become involved in its operation after an initial desire to avoid it.  A stock background in film is that a person's parents or grandparents have a farm or ranch somewhere.  And a fairly significant number of people obviously aspire to farm or ranch.

But how realistic is it?

Not very, at least by my observation.

I've written on it before, but land prices are perhaps the major reason why.  They've simply gone out of sight, due in no small part to the land's value for subdivision or for the rich to buy essentially as a playground.  And there's no region of the United States that I'm aware of that is immune from it.

Some regions, of course, are particularly influenced by this. The West, which ironically retains the romantic image of being "wide open", is pretty much closed for new agricultural entrants.  This trend has been going on for some time, and at some point in the 1950s or early 1960s this became basically true, although there was still a little room to get in as late as the early 1980s.  No longer.  Ranches here now sell for such values that only the very wealthy or the those who are already possessed of large amounts of land they can leverage can get in.

Well, so what?  That's just the way it is, right?  After all, that's what happens to agricultural and in every free society, absent government intervention (which is another topic entirely, and which isn't going to happen). And, if you subscribe to the views advanced in the article written by George F. Will and reported here yesterday, it's all for everyone's good.

And I've read that thesis with this sort of thing before.  The classic one is that the automobile manufacture puts the wagon maker out of business, but the auto maker makes more jobs, and the displaced wagon maker goes on to get a cubicle job for higher wages where he can buy Starbucks every day. Great, eh?

Or, more precisely, sure this means that fewer people are in agriculture, but with economies of scale, this keeps food cheap and that's good for everyone. People who would have been farmers can compete for jobs with those who own the land, or they can go into town and become podiatrists where they'll generate even more money, and their kids will become neurosurgeons and make even more.  More and more money will result.

Well, maybe, but that's if that matters, and the evidence is that at some point, it doesn't.

Poverty matters, that's for sure. But there's no good evidence that after some point affluence does.  Indeed, it doesn't seem to. And at that point, having closed off certain opportunities and occupations matters a lot.  

This is particularly true when occupations that are close to the land are closed off.  As a species, we have next to no experience with that condition, as up until recently the majority of human beings lived close to the land.  Even those who didn't live on the land, often lived and worked close to those who did.  Now this is rapidly becoming no longer true, but people still crave it at an elemental level.

And there are open questions about what sort of society this will be, for people.

Which digresses.

So, "how can I become a farmer or rancher"?  I don't know.  You might be able to become a farm manager a ranch manager for a landowner.  I know several young men who have done that.  It's a career path that doesn't offer a lot of wealth, but perhaps that doesn't matter, and it probably shouldn't.  Over time, the men I've known who have done that (and they've all been men, fwiw) have married and had families, so certainly a normal life is possible. As for owning a place of your own, well, maybe or maybe not.  Probably not, at least if what you hope for is a working ranch.  But if that's your heart's desire, it might not matter what anyone tells you anyway, as it'll probably remain close to your heart.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Old Picture of the Day: President Roosevelt

Old Picture of the Day: President Roosevelt: Today we feature a picture of Roosevelt looking presidential. The picture was taken during the last part of his presidency.  I like th...

Old Picture of the Day: Roosevelt in Knickers

Old Picture of the Day: Roosevelt in Knickers: It is not just every man that has the self confidence to wear Knickers. I would say Roosevelt was one man who could pull it off. The b...

Old Picture of the Day: Teddy Roosevelt in Earlier Days

Old Picture of the Day: Teddy Roosevelt in Earlier Days: This is  a picture of Teddy Roosevelt in days before he was famous as a military man or president. He is posed here as a hunter. He rea...

Old Picture of the Day: TR

Old Picture of the Day: TR: Today we have another picture of Teddy Roosevelt during his Military Years. The picture was taken in 1898. Also, we have another quote ...

Old Picture of the Day: Teddy Roosevelt

Old Picture of the Day: Teddy Roosevelt: This is another military portrait of Teddy Roosevelt from back in his Rough Rider days. Also, another of my favorite quotes from Teddy...

Old Picture of the Day: Colonel Roosevelt

Old Picture of the Day: Colonel Roosevelt: Welcome to Teddy Roosevelt Week! We will be looking at pictures of one of my favorite presidents. Roosevelt was genuinely a larger tha...

Closing our eyes

A long time ago I write this essay here, which at one time was one of the most popular ones on this site:
Lex Anteinternet: Peculiarized violence and American society. Looki...: Because of the horrific senseless tragedy in Newton Connecticut, every pundit and commentator in the US is writing on the topic of what cau...
That essay came in the wake of a tragic mass killing and it looked at root causes, at a time during which a lot of public commentary was focused on proposed efforts that would not address them.

I mention that now, as we've just had yet another example of a senseless mass killing of a type we've seen several of in recent years, but we don't seem to see much proposed in the way of doing something about it.  That is, the co-pilot of the Germanwings plane that crashed into the Alps this week turns out to be mass murderer.

This isn't the first time in recent years where a commercial pilot has chosen to kill himself and all of his passengers.  It's totally inexcusable on every level.  A question remains about this, that being, why is so much attention focused on controlling implements for which the legislative control of which will not have a demonstrative effect, while there hasn't been any outcry about whom is allowed to pilot hundreds in the sky?

Yes, I know there's commercial licenses, but even on the simple applicable standards level, it would appear that around the globe various pilots simply don't measure up to the American standard. They should, and there's no reason that a universal, very high, standard can't apply to all commercial air carrier pilots.  But beyond that, perhaps the time has come to place these men and women through some sort of psychological battery every six months.  It won't catch them all, but it might catch some who are getting dicey, or even just sloppy.  And maybe the time has come for a third pilot to be in the cabin, just in case. These are big complicated planes and there's been a lot of accidents, which might be reason enough, and might help to keep something like this from reoccuring.  

Lex Anteinternet: The Distrubing Thesis of Capital in the Twenty Fir...

Almost a year ago I was writing about Thomas Piketty's disturbing thesis in this entry:
Lex Anteinternet: The Distrubing Thesis of Capital in the Twenty Fir...: I haven't read it yet, but I've been reading a lot about Thomas Piketty's new book, Capital In The Twenty First Century. The b...
This morning, in reading my local newspaper, George F. Will reviews a new book with a counterveiling thesis, that being John Tanny's new  "cheerful, mind-opening book, “Popular Economics: What the Rolling Stones, Downton Abbey, and LeBron James Can Teach You About Economics.".  Will's article is boldy entitled "How income inequality benefits us all".

Will characterizes Tanny's book which I also haven't read, as boldy presentign a new thesis, but it what it apparently does is bodly defend an old one, that being that Adam Smith was right and we need not worry about jobs being exported overseas.  The book apparently expertly cites numerous examples, with the basis nature of them being that when jobs like making Iphones go overseas, the price lowers so much that in real terms all of our incomes rise.  The book isn't limited to that type of analysis, however, and also, apaprently, defends monopolies.

This is obviously quite the opposite of Piketty, whom I still haven't read, but it strikes me that in some odd ways they may both be correct and incorrect at the same time.  Will's Tanny is correct, that buying at Wall Mart or from monopolies, and from companies that manufacture in the cheapest possible fashion, means less of our income goes into purchases, but it also can't be denied, as Piketty demonstrates, that the wealth that's generated gets concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, who are by extension more and more powerful. 

The overarching thing, however, is that Will's cheerful defense ignores something, which Froma Harrop has been exploring in her recent articles. Nobody wants to be poor, but at some point an economy that serves only to produce wealth and do so efficiently is really soulless and concentrates people into jobs that they might not really like.  In other words, what if some people, indeed a lot of people, are just flat out happier working as a machinist on the factory floor, rather than in some clerk job in the cubicle forest? 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Writing inspirations – the wonder of Packard « M J Wright

Writing inspirations – the wonder of Packard « M J Wright

Wyoming Fact and Fiction: The Peace Council of 1866

Wyoming Fact and Fiction: The Peace Council of 1866

Lex Anteinternet: And the pumps kept on.

And following on this:
Lex Anteinternet: And the pumps kept on.: Saudi production has reached 10,000,000 bbl per day, near (or perhaps) an all time record high.  This comes in the face of Saudi resistance ...
I read in the paper this morning that the solar panel industry now employers more people in the US than coal mining.

Indeed, an irony of this is that there's now an effort in some states to tax homeowners who install solar panels, using the logic that they use power on the grid when they cannot generate power on cloudy days. While that's generally true, the law has generally been, or at least was (I haven't kept up on it) that power companies actually had to buy power sent back down the line by domestic solar and wind electrical generation.  This has likely been regarded as a minor inconvenience by power companies for a long time, but now they're becoming irritated in some areas, apparently.

Irrespective of that, solar has quietly come a long way in the past 40 years.  40% of German electrical output is now solar (and if they'd continued to allow nuclear power generation, they'd have darned near 100% non emitting power).  There's no reason to believe that a high American output isn't similarly possible, and perhaps now even probable.

All of this is hugely important to the state of Wyoming, and of course other energy producing states.  With an oil industry that dates back to the 1890s and a coal industry that started when the Union Pacific was first constructed, the state has acclimated itself to the extractive energy industry being the main economic engine of the state.  Coal severance taxes, which were at first stoutly opposed by some, have been funding the state government here for over 40 years now.  The schools are nearly entirely constructed using money generated from taxes on coal.  Coal production has been declining now for several years, and the coal industry's backers have been quite vocal about what they feel should be done to aid the industry, and that it can generate "clean coal".  But the long term trends seem hard to ignore at present.  Coal is being supplemented in the U.S. as a fuel, in Europe its being supplanted.  The trend line in the US seems headed in the same direction unless major technological developments can change the dynamics of the situation.  The coal market right now seems to be mostly China, but Pacific coast states and provinces object to the loading of it, and transportation of coal by sea has its own costs and problems.  So, in spite of hopes in that quarter, and in spite of efforts by Wyoming's politicians in that direction, the Chinese saving the market seems unlikely.

And, as explored here earlier, it seems difficult not to conclude at this point that the Saudi Arabians have made a similar conclusion about future of petroleum oil, and have decided to keep the price on the floor so that they dominate the market during what they have calculated will be the transition phase.  Probably calculating that the beginning of a technological transition from petroleum has commenced and that the process will take about the same amount of time one way or another, by keeping the price low, they'll dominate it during that period of time.  In other words, the money is going to go somewhere, and it might as well go to them.  By keeping the production high, and selling what they'll have, they'll make the most money possible out of their resource and probably try to use that to transition to some other type of economy.  Goodness, knows they need to, as their current culture and economy isn't viable continuing on with its current model.

But for states like Wyoming, which have relied on these industries, the trend line is a bad one for the traditional economy.  Agriculture, Extractive industries, and Tourism have been the three legs of the stool of Wyoming's economy.  There's a pretty good chance that one of those legs is now broken, and there's no really solid idea of what to do to replace it, if it needs to be.

As a final observation, folks who note things like this here are often branded as "antis".  However, as a Wyoming native, and a former crewman on a workover rig, and as a person with a geology degree, I think I can stand on my bonafides.  I'm not declaring this as part of a manifesto, but rather observing as a person given to that by training and inclination.  We probably need to be pondering these topics here.

Monday, March 23, 2015

And the pumps kept on.

Saudi production has reached 10,000,000 bbl per day, near (or perhaps) an all time record high.  This comes in the face of Saudi resistance to pressure to decrease production.

Accompanying, this Chinese economy, long seen as a potential major oil importer, has been slowing down over the past 11 months.

Neither of which is a good sign for American oil production.  Hovering in the $50 to $60 bbl range for months now, a decrease in the Saudi price and a maintenance of Saudi production can't help but be noticed by the domestic industry's planners.

Monday at the bar: Courthouses of the West: United States Bankruptcy Court, Denver Colorado

Courthouses of the West: United States Bankruptcy Court, Denver Colorado:


Friday, March 20, 2015

The faces of farming during National Agriculture Week - Farm Progress

The faces of farming during National Agriculture Week - Farm Progress

Ranch Life - Wyoming Chronicle

Texas Landowner Liability Part II: Premises Liability – Legal Status and Duty Owed | Texas Agriculture Law

Texas Landowner Liability Part II: Premises Liability – Legal Status and Duty Owed | Texas Agriculture Law

Texas Landowner Liability Part I: Negligent Act v. Premises Liability | Texas Agriculture Law

Texas Landowner Liability Part I: Negligent Act v. Premises Liability | Texas Agriculture Law

Questions from Tiffany’s Desk: Set Back Rules for Pipelines and Oil Rigs | Texas Agriculture Law

Questions from Tiffany’s Desk: Set Back Rules for Pipelines and Oil Rigs | Texas Agriculture Law

Impact of Pipelines and Powerlines on Ranches | Texas Agriculture Law

Impact of Pipelines and Powerlines on Ranches | Texas Agriculture Law

Thursday, March 19, 2015

On Law, Corruption and Puritanism in American Politics

It is widely assumed, as we all know, that there's vast corruption in American politics.  Indeed, there's a new television series out right now based on that thesis.  And I'll freely admit that this country has had its share of corrupt politicians, or ones who acted in what I'd regard an amoral or immoral fashion.  I could go into that topic and express my views on those people now, but I'll forgo it for another point.

I wonder, quite frankly, to what extent American politics are characterized not by corruption, but by lingering Puritanism.  Quite a lot, I think.

Take the current flap over Hillary Clinton's email, and her use of a private rather than a government account.  Who cares?  I don't.  In most countries, quite frankly, this would not be a matter of the slightest concern. But, in the same spirit that caused the Puritans to ban Christmas, the whole country seems to be having a big to do over this.  Only in the US would such a minor matter be regarded as really serious.

Or take the personal behavior of our politicians in other areas.  In recent decades this has been a huge issue (although it seemingly was not in prior decades, and for reasons that baffle me JFK still gets a pass in this area).  We've nearly deposed a President in recent years over this, while in contrast a trial is going on in Italy over  a politician whose behavior in this area was wild in the extreme.  It isn't that something is being done in Italy so much as its the case that things have to get hugely out of hand before anything is done.  Here, matters that are unseemly but not really threatening the nation can get you almost impeached.

Or take our insider trading laws. We've actually made it a crime to act on knowledge you pick up in the course of your employment.  That's frankly amazing, and criminalizes a natural part of human nature. We tell people that they can't act on what they know, as that would be unfair to those who don't know, what they don't know.  Fairness is nice, to be sure, but criminalizing knowledge is pretty extreme really.

Corrupt?  I don't think so much.  Puritanical is more like it, in these regards.

National Agriculture Week: Holscher's Hub: A second post World War One homestead

Holscher's Hub: A second post World War One homestead:

An abandoned post World War One hay farm, now returned to pasture.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Lex Anteinternet: Travel in Ireland, a little over a century ago.

Lex Anteinternet: Travel in Ireland, a little over a century ago.

Television is stupid

Truly, amazingly stupid. So stupid, it's depressed the collective IQ of the population of the Western World 100 points. It's so darned dumb that its impact would be like burning 1,000 libraries at Alexandria.

It's dumb.

And getting dumber.

In 1961 the Chairman of the FCC, Newton Minnow, observed the following:
When television is good, nothing — not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers — nothing is better.
But when television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite each of you to sit down in front of your own television set when your station goes on the air and stay there, for a day, without a book, without a magazine, without a newspaper, without a profit and loss sheet or a rating book to distract you. Keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland.
You will see a procession of game shows, formula comedies about totally unbelievable families, blood and thunder, mayhem, violence, sadism, murder, western bad men, western good men, private eyes, gangsters, more violence, and cartoons. And endlessly commercials — many screaming, cajoling, and offending. And most of all, boredom. True, you'll see a few things you will enjoy. But they will be very, very few. And if you think I exaggerate, I only ask you to try it.
Truer words were never spoken, and things have gotten infinitely worse since then. Indeed, the era that Minnow was writing about is now regarded as "The Golden Age of Television", with entire channels devoted to rerunning the very programs that Minnow complained about.

In comparison, the "vast wasteland" that Minnow wrote about has become some sort of tar pit of stupidity.  Consider what's on.

There are, for example, an entire collection of "reality shows" based upon the goings of of allegedly "beautiful people" of one kind or another.  Some, set in the epicenter of vapidity, Hollywood California, feature people whom we are clearly supposed to believe are beautiful, wealthy and interesting. They may be wealthy, but that's it.  And yet the impressionable minds that watch this slop are fed hours upon hours of programming that this or that aging actress or personality must be beautiful, rather than plastic, and their sad lives of bitchiness and cattiness are interesting. 

As part of that, I'd note, there's a clearly some sort of program going on, probably run by the UK's MI6, to export the village idiots of England to the United States.  We're on to you, United Kingdom.  It can't be the case that the US is lacking idiots, so this is clearly nefarious.  Having a British accent doesn't make a person interesting, television it makes them English.  They can stay home and pollute the BBC if they must be on television.

Or, for another example, take Guillianna and Bill.  Here's a married couple that works on television or in entertainment, but they're so boring, they make oatmeal look fascinating in comparison. They're boring with a side order of dull, served on cardboard. Boring. And yet television serves up a series based on their boringness.

Or let's take TLC, which started off as "The Learning Channel".  Now, it seemingly is focusing on people who are violating the laws of their states by having multiple boring spouses.  Why is this on television?  TLC virtually serves as some sort of propaganda channel for a lifestyle that is pretty uniformly regarded as horrific by those who escape it, and yet they serve it up every week. 

Kids' programming doesn't escape this either. The dreaded Disney Channel looses nothing in methods to the glory days of Ford Motors.  It's a factory, serving up show after show based on absurdly precocious children with bizarrely naive friend, living in homes with childlike almost stupid parents. Anyone who has watched more than two Disney Channel episodes ought to be able to write an entire series effortlessly.

Regular programming, to the extent it exists, is not much better.  Ever single season television outdoes itself to be more "edgy" or "contemporary" by taking things further and further in a moral swamp, and portraying it as cool.  The hallmark for this may be the former really popular series "Friends", which is supposedly really funny, but if you stop and consider what the real lives of somebody living in the fashion portrayed would be like, it wouldn't be so funny at all.  Quite the contrary, actually.

Or even the alleged "news" now fails.  Entire channels are more or less in the category of political cheerleaders for one political view or another, and not real news.  Edward R. Murrow must be crying in the next world.

Probably ought to just turn the whole stupid thing off.

Ireland in film

Folks will notice that today I've either posted, or mentioned, a series of films that are set in Ireland.

A few days ago, I did a post on an entire series of movies which feature Americans crossing the border into Mexico.  I suppose I could have done this the same way, but I've seen a lot more films on the cross border Mexican theme than I have ones set in Ireland.

Indeed it occurs to me that there's a lot of well regarded films about Ireland I just haven't seen, and at least one that I saw so long ago, I've forgotten it.  I haven't seen Ryans Daughter, which a lot of people highly regard.  I've seen The Field, but I saw it so long ago, I've forgotten it and I think I was rather distracted back when I saw it in the first place.  I'll have to remedy these omissions.

There also some films that were filmed, but not set, in Ireland that I have seen, and might be worth mentioning just because of that, but which fit outside of the scope of what I'm addressing here with the Irish films today.  One if the historical drama Barry Linden, which is well filmed in Ireland. Another is The Blue Max, the drama about a German World War One aviator, which was filmed over Ireland as it was much less developed, and therefore appeared right, than post World War Two Germany or France (the United Kingdom just stood in, interestingly, for Germany in Fury).

One I ought to see, but have not, is The Commitments, which is about an Irish soul band.  It has a good reputation, but it's one I haven't made it around to.  And one that I intend to see, but have not yet, is Cavalry, which is a new, and very highly regarded drama, about an Irish priest.

Of course, a lot of the films I've seen that have been listed in this series of movie threads are ones that I've seen on television (not all, however).  Some of the ones noted here just don't get that much television play time.  It's easier to catch the crossing into Mexico ones really.  Anyhow, some interesting films here.

Movies In History: Michael Collins

Michael Collins

This is a historical drama in film treatment of Michael Collins' life during the Anglo Irish War and the Irish Civil War.  Collins, for those who might not know, was the military genius behind the IRA's terrorist campaign against the British, and also the subsequent military leader of the Irish Free State's successful struggle against the Irish Republican Army. For those unfamiliar with the history of those two struggles, that may be a bit confusing, in which case this film actually isn't 100% historically accurate.

Even so, it does a pretty good job of portraying the events from about 1916 through 1922, including contrasting Collins role in these events with those of Éamon de Valera, which is not an easy task really.  De Valera comes out the worse in the treatment, which he tends to also in objective histories.  The film does push this a bit further than it should, however, as it dramatically portrays de Valera as directly involved in Collins roadside assassination which is not true.  De Valera undoubtedly knew nothing about that until after it had occurred.

Otherwise, keeping in mind the limitations of film, this film does a really nice job of portraying very complicated events, including events which were really psychological in nature.  Irish penetration of the English police is well done.  The terrorist nature of the IRA's role in the Ango Irish War is well portrayed.  Material details are correct for the film.

This 1996 film is little known in the US, which is too bad as it is a good film with a good cast.  Liam Neeson portrays Collins, whom he somewhat resembles.  Alan Rickman portrays de Valera, whom he also somewhat resembles.  Worth seeing.

Movies In History: The Informer

The Informer

This is the first of John Ford's two movies set in Ireland, the other being the "small story" The Quiet Man.  T his movie is of an entirely different character.

Filmed in 1935, and set in 1920, this film is unabashedly pro Irish Republican Army and involves an IRA man who turns on his fellows.  Victor McLaughlin, who typically was cast in a supporting role as an Irishman (he was a Canadian) is cast in the lead role as the simple minded Gypo Nolan, who wants to immigrate to the United States and who is duped, more or less, into betrayal.  Nolan spends the rest of the film wrestling with his conscience as the IRA closes in on the identity of The Informer.

All in all, this film is well regarded for its time, and is an Academy Award winner, although its frankly really odd to see a film that's so unabashedly pro IRA.  Filmed when it was, it was almost certainly filmed entirely on a film set, so we see very little of any place really.  Dublin, where the film is set, is mostly a foggy grimy urban location which we never really get a very good look at.  In terms of material details, they're probably more or less correct as there's very few of them, but at least in terms of clothing, the film does a really good job of getting the look right.  The actual period photo below of British anti Republican agents in Ireland, for example, gives a pretty good idea of what characters in the film look like.


All in all, a heavily dated film, but one worth watching if it happens to be on, if for no other reason than that it's well regarded for the time in which it was made.

Movies In History: The Quiet Man

The Quiet Man

Last August I mentioned in this series of threads a movie on Irish life that I think is better than this one, although this film is justifiably regarded as a classic.  That movie is Durango, which all in all is a better movie.

Durango is set early in World War Two.  The 1952 film The Quiet Man is filmed is set in a seemingly newly independent Ireland, but the exact year is never really revealed.  It's probably, therefore, set in the 1920s, or maybe in the 1930s.  An off reference to the Irish Republican Army, which at that time would have been set against the government of the Irish Free State, is included in the film, an orphaned part of a plot line that was abandoned as the film was made.

The film follows the adventures of "Trooper" Thorne, an Irish American boxer who has retired after a ring tragedy and who takes up residence in an Irish cottage near where his mother had been from.  He's the "quiet" man of the movie, portrayed by John Wayne in  this film directed by John Ford.  Ford's film does a good job of showing the rural nature of Ireland at the time, which indeed was still the Ireland of the time in which the film was shot there.  It's a charming, small story, film set in rural Ireland, and overall it does a good job of portraying it correctly, which isn't too surprising given that the Irish American Ford was enormously enamored of Ireland. The cast is excellent, and the material details are pretty good.  It'll likely be shown all day today on some television channel, as it usually is on St. Patrick's Day.

Lex Anteinternet: Civil Holidays

Lex Anteinternet: Civil Holidays:  Leann posted an item on her blog about Columbus Day, urging Congress to consider changing it to Indigenous Peoples Day .  I'll confess ...

Today In Wyoming's History: Sidebar: The Irish in Wyoming. A St. Patrick's Day Observation during National Agriculture Week

The Kistler Tent and Awning building in downtown Casper Wyoming (the company still exists, but not in this location).  Note the reference to Sheep Wagon covers, herder's tepees and lambing tents, all things that many an Irish immigrant to Wyoming became familiar with.

I linked this item (which is one of the most popular on the blog noted below) to this site way back when I first wrote it.
Today In Wyoming's History: Sidebar: The Irish in Wyoming: Just recently we posted our "green" edition of this blog with our St. Patrick's Day entry .  Given that, this is a good time ...
I'm sure it's bad form to do that again, but today is St. Patrick's Day and its National Agriculture Week. What do the two have to do with each other?  Well, quite a lot. 

At least as late as the 1990s, agriculture made up the largest sector of the Irish economy. I don't know where it stands today, but Ireland has also undergone a tremendous economic and cultural revolution since that time, not all of which is good by any means.  Perhaps Ireland is sort of a cautionary tale, on some things, today, as well as being an example of a host economic lessons of one kind or another.

Be that as it may, Ireland's history, as anyone who has looked at it well knows, has been far from pacific or bucolic.  The Emerald Isle has a tragic history in the extreme, with its principal exports for many years including its young.  Some of those people include my ancestors, on both sides of my family.  Indeed, my great grandmother came from Ireland at age 3, with her sister who was 19.  They were the only two members of that family that the family could afford to send to the United States.  I don't know what became of the rest of them, save for one brother of hers who joined the English army and made a career out of it.

A common concept of the Irish in America depicts them in the urban setting, that was so common for many of them. And, indeed, on my mother's side that would be accurate, as they went to Montreal.  But another very common path for a very rural people was to try to get some land and farm.

Indeed, the Irish were manic about agriculture and land.  In Ireland, having land was paramount, and most of them didn't have it.  To be able to obtain land was everything to many of them, and in the US they had that chance.  Not just in the U.S., of course.  This was also true of much of the English Empire and it was also true for all of North America.  Mexico, for example, first drew the attention of Irish immigrants at the time of the Mexican War, where the Mexicans picked up on the fact that land could be a powerful inducement to desertion for an oppressed, land starved, Catholic, population.  And it worked in some cases.  Young Irish soldiers in the U.S. Army, crossing into Mexican towns to attend Mass, seeing attractive Mexican young ladies, and being offered free land. . . . that went a long ways towards breaking the bonds of loyalty, in some cases, for some so situated.

Anyhow, the Irish are part of the story of American agriculture in the west for that reason and they're particularly associated with the history of sheep ranching here.  Sheep were an animal that they were already familiar with and they became one of the foundational pegs of Wyoming sheep ranching quite rapidly.  The Irish and sheep were a story in Wyoming well into the 20th Century.

Now, of course, in the somewhat glum thread I've been sewing with here recently, it would be wholly impossible for an immigrant to come over and establish a viable ranching operation in the U.S., let alone become rich doing it as some Irish immigrants did.  It isn't even really possible for the average American to get into it.  That should give us some pause.

Monday, March 16, 2015

National Agriculture Week

This week is National Agriculture Week.  This commenced, of course, yesterday, so I'm a day late in noting it.

The photo above is of a high mountain pasture in the southern Big Horns, this past November.   There's still snow on it now, and it'll get more before summer arrives there. 

To those who imagine themselves to be hardcore environmentalist, this is a nearly pristine wilderness.  To sportsmen, this is elk habitat.  To those who like ATVs, there's a road not too far away which makes this prime roading (or whatever the term would be) country.  To fishermen, it's a mountain spot between streams.  It's all these things, because it is a high mountain pasture. Agriculture keeps it that way.

In yesterday's tribune the Governor, in a special section, noted that agriculture is the third biggest industry in the state, behind mineral exploration and tourism, and he stated that agriculture "supports the other two".  I don't agree with him that agriculture "supports" mineral extraction so much as I feel they live side by side, uncomfortably, but agriculture surely does support tourism. Without agriculture here we'd have much less of it, as there'd be much less wild land to view.

Still, it's become, as often noted, a hard way to make a living in the state.  At some point in the 1950s, or maybe the 1940s, it became nearly impossible to really take it up as a vocation here if you weren't born into it.  In recent years, it's tended to be people with vast wealth, usually outsiders, who purchased working ranches intact, if they did.  Rarely it was a local, but if it was, it was probably somebody who was quite wealthy.

This isn't a good trend.  I've written on it before, but its in our human interest to keep real farmers and ranchers on the land and in our society. And its certainly in the interest of our wildlands.

Lex Anteinternet: Lex Anteinternet: A legal Gerontocracy?

The bill discussed here:
Lex Anteinternet: Lex Anteinternet: A legal Gerontocracy?: Like a vampire from a movie, the topic I wrote about last legislative session here, is back again: Lex Anteinternet: A legal Gerontocrac...
failed again.

I'd like to hope that this bill stays dead, which it deserves to, but it probably won't.  Like a host of other bills in recent legislatures, bills that have been failing recently tend to come right back the next session.  It might almost be worth considering a rule that precludes repeat failures from being introduced in successive sessions.  This session, I'd note, the bill turned out to have next to no support whatsoever.

This bill has some particularly troubling aspects to it, one of which is that it darned near amounts to special legislation in that those introducing it keep referring specifically to one single Wyoming Supreme Court justice. That he's doing well and capable of keeping on keeping on does not mean, of course, that everyone is.  Some brilliant lawyers have minds that fail in their 60s or 70s.  If we experience that, and at some point we will, what are we to do?  We can't legislatively remove a single justice absent impeachment, which seems a might bad way to conclude a distinguished career.

Indeed it might be worth noting that this year has not been a good one in our state's history for the fate of older, brilliant, men.  Things don't always go well for everyone. We know, from the example of the United States Supreme Court that older justices often feel duty bound to stay, with it sometimes being the case that they steadfastly believe that they are the best possible occupant of the post, or alternatively, like DeGaulle, "apres mois, le deluge".  In real, and admirable, contrast, we've had one very long serving Circuit Court judge step down this past year specifically noting that he wanted to leave the bench (in his 60s) while his mind was still strong, and this past week Justice Marylnn Kite (whose brother was a county and then district court judge who retired some time ago) announced that she's stepping down soon, at age 67.  The more power to them.

The Big Picture: Railhead: Abandoned rail line, North of Casper Wyoming

Railhead: Abandoned rail line, North of Casper Wyoming:

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Movies In History: They rode into Mexico

A few weeks ago I wrote an entry on the Mexican Revolution.  In that entry, I touched on the Punitive Expedition and the occupation of Vera Cruz.  It occurred to me at the same time how many movies are based on the them of Americans, sometimes military, and sometimes not, entering Mexico in this period, and earlier.  Quite a few.  It might be interesting to look at the history portrayed in those films and how it holds up, and how they just hold up as films. So we'll take a look.  Discussed, in no particular order, are the following.

The Professionals

This film from the 1960s is in the star packed genera, which many films of this period were.  Featuring Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan, Woody Strode, Burt Lancaster, and others, the film is set in the Mexican Revolutionary period, with a plot centered on American soldiers of fortune being hired by a wealthy rancher to retrieve his kidnapped wife.

All in all, this film is pretty entertaining and is done pretty well.   In terms of history, it has some interesting features including the fluid nature of the border and the confusing  nature of Mexican revolutionary forces. The film has an offhand referenced to the "Colorados", who were an actual faction in the Mexican Revolution and who were followers of Pascual Orozco, and who fought for Modero at first and then switched to Huerta against him.  This would also place the film in the 1913 to 1915 time frame and would place the revolutionaries generally depicted in the film into some category of Villistas, more or less. 

The firearms in the film are period correct, and small details, such as Marvin's clothing (he's supposed to be a former professional soldiers) show some surprisingly small scale correct details that are generally omitted in films in this period.  One of the better films of this type.

The Wild Bunch

This film was made pretty close in time to The Professionals, but is much different in character.  The film is frankly one of my guilty pleasures, and is a good, but not great, film.   It's also one of the most controversial movies ever made.

This film takes place in 1914 or 1915.  We learn from a minor line in the film that Huerta is the dictator of Mexico as the film's scenes take place.  We also learn that World War One is going on.  Very unusual for any movie, this film centers on totally unredeemed criminals who, at the onset of the film, conduct a very violent raid on an American border town, in order to rob a bank.  The film follows their retreat into Mexico and their pursuit by bounty hunters and the U.S. Army, before they become entangled with Mexican revolutionaries and the Mexican army.

This film might be summarized as gritty, to say the least, but it does a very good job of portraying chaos and violence, and its a well done film.  The concluding scene of the film is one of the most famous, most violent, and most misunderstood scenes in any movie of any era.  Director Peckinpah's point in the film, that Americans like films about criminals because of their criminality, not because they have "a heart of gold", is typically missed by viewers.

In terms of its history, the film does a good job of getting the confusing and violent nature of the era right, but it's poor on material details.  Firearms are not all period correct, and there's at least one plot device about one that's inaccurate.  The inclusion of German officers is a nice suggestion of what would be coming and what was going on in Mexico at the time, so while their placement in the film is unlikely, what it suggests is interesting.  Depictions of the nature of transportation at the time are well done.

They Came to Cordura

Another film set during the Mexican Revolution is They Came to Cordura.

I'll be frank, I've never seen this entire movie and I haven't found it engaging enough to watch all the way through.  I probably, therefore, shouldn't be including it, but as I've seen the beginning and the end, and as its in the category, I've included it.

This film concerns a group of American soldiers who have distinguished themselves in the Punitive Expedition and whom are being taken back to the United States to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor.  The lead character in the movie is a cavalry officer portrayed by Gary Cooper, in his typical understated style.  His character, and every single other character in the film, has some horrible skeleton in his closet, and so the movie is a character study of a group of men who are supposed to be heroes but whom are actually deeply flawed.

That thesis is a fine one, but it just doesn't work well, in my view, in this film. All the hidden character traits are too overdone and the entire thesis of that many men winning the CMH, and being taken across hostile Mexico in a small mounted party, is really strained.  Also strained is the portrayal of a largely empty Mexico, which is rather odd.  The Mexico of The Wild Bunch, with small villages and the like, is much better done. 

Major Dundee

This film is set during the American Civil War, and like The Wild Bunch, it was filmed by Sam Peckinpah.

This film is often noted as being a deeply flawed film, but it's deeply flawed in its original version in part because the movie editors cut huge amounts of significant material from it, actually omitting some critical scenes. This film seems to be missing something when viewed in its original form, because it is.  The restored version, which wasn't able to incorporate everything left on the editing floor, is much better and restores some very necessary details to the film, as well as incorporating a much better soundtrack. This is one of those rare films where a "directors cut" is indeed much better than the version that toured in the theaters.

It's actually a very good film and its unique amongst movies showing the frontier American Army in that many of the minor material details portrayed in the film are accurate where, in other films, they're incorrect.  Uniforms, for example, while not done perfectly in this film, are more accurate than in most other American frontier Army movies, and the U.S. cavalry is depicted wearing short boots, rather than cavalry boots, which is an oddly correct item as cavalry boots were only just coming into service at this time.  The firearms are also period correct, sometimes in odd ways. The use of Henry rifles, always a movie favorite, is a bit of a questionable item, but they were in the service at the time and are depicted as an unusual military arm.  The handguns are generally all cap and ball revolvers, with one single exception which depicts a cartridge conversion to a cap and ball revolver, which in fact is not only correct but probably an actual example of the rare conversion depicted.  The use of cap and ball revolvers, it should be noted, is quite rare for films of this period, which generally used later handguns instead.  All in all this is a well done film.

It's also one of at least three movies that all have a nearly identical scene of a waterfall that's in a Mexican national park, the other two being The Wild Bunch and Big Jake.


This film mostly takes place in the American southwest, but it does include a scene where two American cavalry officers and a scout go into Mexico in an effort to make contact with Geronimo.

This film is based on real events, and is based on a book by Britten Davis, who was a frontier cavalry officer who did in fact make contact with Geronimo.  I'm not familiar enough with his story to know if he ever crossed into Mexico as part of that effort, but I do know that the scout who is depicted as having gone over the border in the scene, and who is shown getting killed in a gunfight against scalphunters, in fact lived well after the frontier period and died during the construction of Hoover Dam.  Indeed, the accident that killed him, involving a large rock rolling down on him during construction, is sometime suspected of being the work of Apache workmen who remembered his earlier role.

In material details this film is well done.  Being a later frontier movie, the uniforms and equipment are correct, and in fact some of the weapons depicted are not only correct, but obscure.

Rio Grande

I haven't seen this film in years and years, but it's one of John Ford's Cavalry Trilogy, and is, I believe, the last one to have been released.

In this film John Wayne reprises his role as Kirby York, a frontier Army officer.  York first made his appearance in the first of these three films, Fort Apache.  In the second, and best of the three, Wayne plays a different character, Cpt. Nathan Briddles.  Well cast with members of the John Ford Acting Repertory Company, the  movie includes a scene in which the Army crosses the border into Mexico.  For that matter, She Wore A Yellow Ribbon includes a border sense, but one in which the soldiers do not cross.

All in all, all three of these films are well done, but they do tend to miss the point that border crossing by military forces in hot pursuit of Indian bands was in fact tolerated by the US and Mexico, so the crisis that it seems to create in these films didn't exist in reality, to the same degree.  In this film, the crossing is shown to be an illegal oral order, but in reality, it would have just been done.

Like all of these films, material details are only so so.  Filmed in the era in which it was, departures from period uniforms and weapons was generally not a matter of great concern.  Ironically, these three films tended to actually define what people came to believe the frontier Army actually looked like.

Big Jake

This is one of John Wayne's better films, and its interesting a 20th Century western.  Set in 1909, a persistent theme of the film is the lingering of the old west as it yields to modern times.  Wayne symbolizes the endurance of the old west in the film.  The plot revolves upon a criminal raid on a ranch which results in a kidnapping of Wayne's grandson, whom he's never seen, who is taken over the border to Mexico.

Truth be known, Mexico oddly hardly figures in this movie in any fashion, even though the last half of the movie is set there.  The Mexican border town in the film is more like a typical movie Texas town, so we can't say much about that aspect of the film. It is a good film, however.

On material details, this film isn't bad, particularly given the era in which it was filmed.  The transition in firearms and the arrival of automobiles and motorcycles is accurately portrayed, as is the ongoing importance of the horse.  The arrival of oil exploration is also inserted accurately.

Rio Conchos

Mostly a film vehicle for the gravelly voiced Richard Boone, this isn't a very good film.  It's one of several based on the concept of Confederate holdouts going into Mexico to build a new Confederate life.  None of these films is very good, including this one.  Boone's acting is good, but it almost always is.  Silly plot with improbable thesis, with Mexico seemingly unpopulated enough for a Confederate empire to be rebuilt there without the notice of the Mexicans. 

The Shadow Riders

See Rio Conchos, just filmed later, and a vehicle for Sam Elliot and Tom Selleck.  This film, like the earlier one mentioned, involves die hard Confederates going into Mexico, except this time they raid a Texas ranch and take family members captive, for sale in Mexico.  This is, apparently, based on a Louis Lamour novel, none of which I've ever read.

The plot is awfully strained, and this film isn't really worth bothering with.  Like a lot of these Confederates going into Mexico movies, some Confederates seem to have strangely well preserved uniforms even after years in the field and defeat at the hands of the Union, I'd note.

The Undefeated

Yet another so so effort involving Confederates attempting to go into Mexico, although this time they succeed and are sort of the good guys.  Not worth viewing and improbable as the rest of these films.

In this one, Rock Hudson is the defeated Confederate officer (who oddly also retains a well preserved uniform) and John Wayne is a former Union officer, just back from the Civil War.  The Confederates are taking their families and horses into Mexico to be sold to Juarez's forces.  A strained plot in the extreme.

A Fist Full of Dollars
For A Few Dollars More
Once Upon A Time In Mexico

Sergio Leone managed to make an entire franchise out of the concept of really gritty Mexican border towns. The best of these films is A Fist Full of Dollars, but quite frankly none of these movies is really very good.  The Mexico they portray didn't ever really exist, and the films don't do Mexico, or the old west, justice in any fashion.  At best, A Fist Full of Dollars is worth watching to contrast it with its Japanese inspiration, Yojimbo. The worst, in some ways,is Once Upon A Time In Mexico which takes all of the elements of these films that made them a surprise hit, and ramps them up to the extreme.

The Magnificent Seven

Like A Fist Full of Dollars, this movie is actually based on a Japanese film, and that film is an absolute classic.  The Magnificent Seven takes the classic Seven Samurai, and resets the story in the west.  It's pretty faithful to the Japanese original, although its considerably shorter, and not as good.

Which isn't to say its bad.  Its a great film.

It can't be said to really portray Mexico accurately, but  in some ways it does touch upon elements of the isolated Mexican agrarian life (as the original did upon the Japanese agrarian life of the Japanese middle ages) fairly accurately.  Its very well done.

In terms of material details, this film is a typical 1950s-60s western, and it just doesn't bother.  The clothing for the seven is closer to mid 20th Century western clothing than late 19th Century western clothing, which is frankly the norm for western movies of the time.  The Mexican people are uniformly portrayed more accurately, however.  All in all, it's a good film worth seeing.

I should note that, like A Fist Full of Dollars, this film inspired a franchise with there being a series of films based on it.  None of them are worth seeing, in my view.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

An absolute classic, this film was filmed in 1948 and takes place at some point within the prior 20 years prior to that.  The date it is set in is never explained, but the suggestion is that it takes place during the Great Depression.

This film follows three down and out American ex patriots in their effort to become wealthy gold prospectors.  It's a wonderfully filmed movie and is one that can be watched on more than one level.  Indeed, it's one of those films in the American film library that a person should really see.  The cast, including Walter Houston and Humphrey Bogart is fantastic, and it includes some of the all time great movie stock lines.

In terms of material details, its more accurate than a person might suppose, portraying the wide open nature of northern Mexico relatively accurately.

All the Pretty Horses

This movie is set just after the Second World War, and is another one worth seeing.  A very bittersweet movie, this movie follows two American cowboys, who pick up an American runaway, who venture into Mexico.  One comes from a ranch that has just been sold and is without work or purpose, and the other simply follow him.

A beautifully filmed movie, this movie does again capture the wide open nature of northern Mexico but at a time when its really entering the modern world.  It also portrays the corrupt nature of Mexico at the time, as well as the still very rural nature of southern Texas.  A sense of loss is sewn throughout the film, starting with the protagonist loss of his family ranch at the hands of his selling mother, to the loss of the heavily rural nature of Texas due to changing times.

It's a sad film, but a good film worth seeing.

Lonesome Dove

This movie has been addressed elsewhere, so I wont' repeat that, but I would note that the films early scene of a cattle theft raid into Mexico is pretty accurate for the time.  Indeed, this film scores high overall in terms of accuracy, as earlier noted.

Two Mules for Sister Sara

A Fist Full of Dollars converted Clint Eastwood from a good looking television cowboy, Rowdy Yates, into a tough, grizzled, movie cowboy.  This film is not part of the Sergio Leone franchise, but Eastwood is cast in the role, in essence that he was in the Leone films he was in.

This movie isn't a good film.  It basically is set around the Eastwood's role during the Juarez revolution against Maximilian, with "Sister Sara" actually being far from a nun, and merely assuming that role as part of a similar effort.  Basically not worth viewing.

Sunday Morning Scene: Churches of the West: Grace Bible Baptist Church, Casper Wyoming

Churches of the West: Grace Bible Baptist Church, Casper Wyoming:

Saturday, March 14, 2015

An observation about the dangers of contemporary histories.

 [Waiting for a job (donkeys), England]
 Saddled British donkeys, turn of the prior century, waiting for a hack.

I've noted this before, but it's a dangerous matter, when writing history, to rely too heavily on the first hand observations of those close to events.  Indeed, I've sent it out here, in a slightly different form:

 Holscher's Seventh Law of History.  No accurate history can be written until 60 years have passed since the event.

A really thorough history of  an event cannot be written close in time to the event.  Indeed, several decades must pass from the event's occurrence before an accurate history can be written.

That may sound shocking (although at least historian Ladislas Farago noted this in the introduction to his early biography of George S. Patton; Patton:  Ordeal and  Triumph) but its true.  Close in time to an event, authors tend to be too much men of their own times with their views colored by the context of those times. Such influences tend to remain at least as long as twenty years after an event occurs.  Direct participants in an event have a stake in what occurred, which also tend to inform and color their views.

Beyond that, however, and very significantly, authors who write close in time to an event, including those who participated in it, tend to simply accept certain conditions as the norm, and therefore diminish their importance int their writings or omit them entirely.  Conversely, they tend to emphasize things that were new or novel, for the same reasons.  Given that, early written records tend to overplay the new and omit the routine, so that later readers assume the new was the normal and they don't even consider the routine.

Take for example the often written about story of the German army during World War Two.  Only more informed historians realize that most of the German army was no more mechanized during World War Two than it was during World War One.  Fewer yet realize that a fair number of German soldiers remained horse mounted during World War Two for one reason or another.  Period writers had little reason to emphasize this, however, as it really wasn't novel at all at the time, and not very dramatic either, and reflected similar conditions in many armies.

This doesn't mean that early works and first hand recollections aren't valuable.  Rather, it means that a person cannot base his final view on those early works, however.  It also provides the answer as to why later historical works on a frequently addressed topic are not only valuable, but necessary.  Rick Atkinson's and Max Hasting's recent works on World War Two, for example, really place the conflict in context in all sorts of ways for the very first time.  The plethora of new books on the First World War that were at first regarded as revisionist are in fact corrective, and likewise the war is coming into accurate focus for the first time.
  Fort Riley, Kansas. Soldiers of a cavalry machine gun platoon going over an obstacle during a field problem
 Cavalryman, Ft. Riley Kansas, 1942.

I don't mean to rehash myself, and goodness knows I don't need to, as I blabber here enough.  But this is something that occurs to me again and again, in terms of writing history.  Contemporary accounts of things are naturally geared towards the dramatic and unusual, not the routine and normal.

News accounts from World War Two emphasized the mechanized nature of the German army, as mechanization was new and spectacular.  The fact that most of the German forces weren't mechanized wasn't interesting to contemporary journalist, as that was the long historical norm.  You can't expect, really, the average journalist to write that most of the German troops he was viewing were walking, or that the Germans deployed cavalry in France.  You'd have expected the Germans to do that, as every army would have done that.

For that matter, you wouldn't get too excited, if you were writing about farms, noting that men were in their fields plowing with horses in the 1940s.  Men had always done that, so it was hardly worth noting.  That there were new tractors and automated implements would be more interesting.

If you are writing about daily living today, you probably don't write about how many ink pens, or pencils, you have in the house.  Computers are still new enough, even now, that they're the exciting thing. That the old writing tools are around, probably doesn't interest you that much.  But they are.

The point generally is that, when looking at history in any context, you have to recall that the mundane and normal of the times often goes unrecorded, the weird unusual and spectacular does. But that colors our view of what was written about any one time, and often the mundane and normal of the past is what would interest us now.

Why do you have to write? « M J Wright

Why do you have to write? « M J Wright

A few random thoughts on Putney Piddleboms and other classic British cars « M J Wright

A few random thoughts on Putney Piddleboms and other classic British cars « M J Wright

Friday, March 13, 2015

Toyota Landcruiser: The Prime Mover of the Third World Military.

 Moroccan troops with some sort of Toyota, United States Marine Corps photograph.

Americans may have invented the  Jeep, but based on what you see in the news, the Japanese surely perfected the type.  The Toyota Land Cruiser of the FJ type is surely the prime mover of the third world and irregular military.   This past week, I saw news footage of a fairly  new pattern of Toyota Landcruiser (or whatever they're calling them now) that had been fitted out with a rocket launcher, being used in Iraq, by the Iraqi army.

Whatever that pattern is, they don't import it here.  Universal (i.e., light small 4x4 trucks of the Jeep type) have gone from being a product offered solely by Willy, to being one, as I've noted before, that was offered by many manufacturers, to include Toyota, Rover, Nissan, and Ford, amongst others.  Now the numbers have dwindled back down so that the only common one is the Jeep once again, now a Chrysler product, unless you include Toyota's somewhat larger option.  Mercedes does make a Jeep type vehicle that's imported into the US, but you rarely see one.  And I know at least Steyr makes one overseas.  Jaguar, the current owner of the Rover brand, might as well.

No matter, it's Toyota that has the light military vehicle role all sewn up all over the glove.  Every third world army everywhere, and every mobilized irregular guerrilla outfit, uses them too.  They must be a fantastic light truck.  While I know it'd be very politically incorrect, were I in the Toyota advertising department, I'd propose the slogan "Toyota Landcruiser:  The prime mover of the third world army".