January 12, 1872 in my Neighborhood

Louis_Maurer_-_The_Great_Royal_Buffalo_Hunt_-_1895On 12 January 1872 a hunting party set off from North Platte, about 40 miles west of here. It’s guide was Buffalo Bill Cody, who lived in North Platte, General Sheridan was a member as was Lieutenant Colonel George Custer. The guest of honor they had gathered to hunt with was the Grand Duke Alexei of Russia, and so it was an important occasion. It is interesting (to me anyway) that I have been over all the places they talk about here, in the normal course of my life. Some are pretty (like Frenchman’s Creek) but most are pretty ordinary. The buffalo are gone a century and more, of course, but this time of year there are plenty of cattle gleaning the corn to get the idea.

And so in Buffalo Bills own words.:

Buffalo Bill kept a diary of his experience. We join his account as the Grand Duke’s special train pulls into the train station:

“At last, on the morning of the 12th of January, 1872, the Grand Duke and party arrived at North Platte by special train; in charge of a Mr. Francis Thompson. Captain Hays and myself, with five or six ambulances, fifteen or twenty extra saddle-horses and a company of cavalry under Captain Egan, were at the depot in time to receive them. Presently General Sheridan and a large, fine-looking young man, whom we at once concluded to be the Grand Duke came out of the cars and approached us. General Sheridan at once introduced me to the Grand Duke as Buffalo Bill, and said that I was to take charge of him and show him how to kill buffalo.
In less than half an hour the whole party were dashing away towards the south, across the South Platte and towards the Medicine; upon reaching which point we halted for a change of horses and a lunch. Resuming our ride we reached Camp Alexis in the afternoon. General Sheridan was well pleased with the arrangements that had been made and was delighted to find that Spotted Tail and his Indians had arrived on time. They were objects of great curiosity to the Grand Duke, who spent considerable time in looking at them, and watching their exhibitions of horsemanship, sham fights, etc. That evening the Indians gave the grand war dance, which I had arranged for.
General Custer, who was one of the hunting party, carried on a mild flirtation with one of Spotted Tail’s daughters, who had accompanied her father thither, and it was noticed also that the Duke Alexis paid considerable attention to another handsome reddskin maiden. The night passed pleasantly, and all retired with great expectations of having a most enjoyable and successful buffalo hunt. The Duke Alexis asked me a great many questions as to how we shot buffaloes, and what kind of a gun or pistol we used, and if he was going to have a good horse. I told him that he was to have my celebrated buffalo horse Buckskin Joe, and when we went into a buffalo herd all he would have to do was to sit on the horse’s back and fire away.
At nine o’clock next morning we were all in our saddles, and in a few minutes were galloping over the prairies in search of a buffalo herd. We had not gone far before we observed a herd some distance ahead of us crossing our way; after that we proceeded cautiously, so as to keep out of sight until we were ready to make a charge.
Of course the main thing was to give Alexis the first chance and the best shot at the buffaloes, and when all was in readiness we dashed over a little knoll that had hidden us from view, and in a few minutes we were among them. Alexis at first preferred to use his pistol instead of a gun. He fired six shots from this weapon at buffaloes only twenty feet away from him, but as he shot wildly, not one of his bullets took effect. Riding up to his side and seeing that his weapon was empty, I exchanged pistols with him. He again fired six shots, without dropping a buffalo.
Seeing that the animals were bound to make their escape without his killing one of them, unless he had a better weapon, I rode up to him, gave him my old reliable ‘Lucretia,’ and told him to urge his horse close to the buffaloes, and I would then give him the word when to shoot. At the same time I gave old Buckskin Joe a blow with my whip, and with a few jumps the horse carried the Grand Duke to within about ten feet of a big buffalo bull.
‘Now is your time,’ said I. He fired, and down went the buffalo.
The Grand Duke stopped his horse, dropped his gun on the ground, and commenced waving his hat. When his suite came galloping up, he began talking to them in a tongue which I could not understand. Presently General Sheridan joined the group, and the ambulances were brought up. Very soon the corks began to fly from the champagne bottles, in honor of the Grand Duke Alexis, who had killed the first buffalo.”

References: This eyewitness account appears in: Cody, William F. The Life of Buffalo Bill (1977);

OLD WEST ROGUES – Today in Old West History ~January 12.

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Happy Halloween

I would have said progressive, but that’s because I know some very good Democrats. But whatever.

Halloween Cartoon

H/T Objective Conservative

Heh! errr Boo!

A Snake in the Stubble


A center pivot system

Back in the day, I spent some years as a pivot tech. It was pretty interesting, there’s more technology in there than I would have guessed. It’s also a good way to get your exercise when you consider that the average machine is a quarter-mile long.  The dealer I worked for sold between 50 and 100 machines each year and they all had to be installed along with whatever options the customer had bought. That can range from a pressure switch to being able to control the entire machine from his iPhone, so it did have its moments.

But a lot of the time it was merely the pressure to get them hooked up. We rarely built the machines, contractors did, there just wasn’t time. We usually built one or two a year just to keep our hand in, but between wiring, and repairs, and even grain handling equipment we usually had other ways to spend our time.

We had one year where whoever the contractor had doing wiring, had a habit of nicking the wires at the motor. These machine use a specific style of cable, which has a corrugated metal shield, to help protect from lightning, and they are rather difficult to strip. And if you were careless, you would nick the insulation on the individual wires, most likely you wouldn’t notice it either. And he didn’t. And when we went over these machines at first start, before we turned them over to the customer, we didn’t either.


A center pivot control panel

But eventually, a nicked wire will burn off, stopping the motor. And, of course, it has to do with starting and stopping as well as running time. So the motor the furthest out, which works harder burned off first. Yay! By the time this started it was the middle of July, the corn was head high, and it was 90°+ and usually the pivot had been running so the local humidity (and mud) were plenty high. It’s an easy fix, usually though, restrip and reconnect the wire, although occasionally you’ll have to replace a motor. The hard part is walking anywhere up to half mile through the cornfield to do so. Fun days. So the next year we decided to wire our own machines.

Which was fine, of course it was, I was one of the people who pushed for that decision. But that also meant quite a lot of work for us to do. At every tower there are 30 wires to be connected plus odds and end, and some other stuff at the pivot point. When you’re rolling along, it takes about 15 minutes per tower, and with me it was mostly helper work, while I did the ends of the underground, panel options, and pivot point. When I had a helper, of course, which wasn’t always.

Anyway, one day we were doing this, on the way into the field, I had dropped my helper at the end tower, and he was working his way in, while I worked the pivot point, this one had a generator so it was somewhat quicker to wire, and I was doing the collector ring, which is that dome-shaped device on top, which allows the machine to go around in continuous circles, without tearing out its wiring.

I’m moving along when I hear this excited shout. I look around, and my helper is about four spans out, and dancing like a crazy man. So I get down to the ground and in my pickup, turn around and go bouncing down there, as fast as I can. That means about 30 miles an hour across a ridge tilled field. In a ridge tilled field, the ridges are anywhere from 18 to 24 inches high and 30 inches apart. It’s not a comfortable ride, slowly, let alone at 30 miles an hour, even with a pickup that weighs something over 9000 pounds.

A ridge tilled field

A ridge tilled field

Of course, I figure he’s managed to hurt himself, although the way he was dancing around, I was pretty sure he hadn’t fallen off the tower, which is the easiest way to get hurt. But, he hadn’t. When I slide to a stop, he runs around the back of the truck and grabs a shovel. He then proceeds to very energetically hack at the ground. By the time I get out, he’s pulverized about 3 square feet, and running out of breath. So I ask him what all the excitement is, cause I haven’t a clue.

He tells me that he finished wiring the tower box, and was coming down to do the motor, when he jumped off the base beam, (that’s the horizontal tube that holds the tower and the wheels). It’s a fair jump, many machines, like this one have 38″ tires, which puts that beam at about mid-thigh. When he hits the ground, something by his foot got his attention. Yeah I would say it did, it takes a fair amount of volume to attract the attention of someone doing something about 1100 feet away, even in a quiet field. But, he managed to make me think something was seriously wrong at that distance.

So, I clamped one hand on the steering wheel, and one on the cab roof to try to keep from getting a concussion as I flew across the field, so that I could watch him turn a 30 inch or so rattlesnake, into hamburger.

He had landed about three inches from its head, and what attracted his attention was its irritated rattling. But it paid for its irritation with progress…

with its life

Jeff Duncan: The Meat of the Syria Issue is Benghazi – Administrations Lack of Credibility and Accountability Video Transcript | Maggie’s Notebook

English: Official portrait of US Rep Jeff Duncan

English: Official portrait of US Rep Jeff Duncan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Congressman Duncan is exactly right. No matter how important and clear-cut it might be, the American people have no trust left for their government, and so for the present, anything other than a direct on attack on the Homeland or a close ally is not going to garner any reasonable amount of support.

In a related matter, I am very tired of the cliché, “Boots on the ground”. How about we call it what it is “American soldiers in harm’s way”.

From Maggie’s Notebook

South Carolina Congressman Jeff Duncan (R) gets to the meat of our problem today: Barack Obama has no credibility and accepts no accountability. Neither he nor Hillary Clinton have withdrawn the claim that the Benghazi attacks were prompted because of an anti-Islam video. They lied, our people died and we should never forget it. The lies surrounding Benghazi are so deep, neither the Executive branch nor the State Department (no matter who heads it or who has moved on) can be allowed to get a second chance to perpetrate such betrayal on this country. No great fan of Vladimir Putin here, but even he said this week he wouldconsider supporting action against Syria if the U.N. has evidence that Assad was clearly behind the sarin gas attacks and cleared the way for action. So far, it is clear sarin gas was used, but not entirely clear who released it – and the question roils: why would Assad use the one weaponry that would give the world the right to take action, when he was winning his fight? The video and the major parts of the transcript are below (all emphasis is mine). Applause for Mr. Duncan please.

Continue reading Jeff Duncan: The Meat of the Syria Issue is Benghazi – Administrations Lack of Credibility and Accountability Video Transcript | Maggie’s Notebook.

Related: Last night Senator Fischer of Nebraska was interviewed on PBS’s Newshour on the matter

Economic Development: Roadblocks

Taxes (wheel of Fortune) aren't the answerPlatte Chat that came to me courtesy of the Objective Conservative, which outlines many of the tax problems which are holding Nebraska business back.

As Nebraska state senators continue to figure out whether to reform the state’s tax system and while Nebraska’s lame duck governor fights to eliminate the income tax we get a favorable view of doing so from our friends at the Platte Institute.   

Whether it is practical for the state to entirely eliminate the income tax, reform reducing its high tax rates is imperative if the state is to continue to compete fore new business.   The Platte Chat article below well supports the need to do something.

The Key to Attracting Businesses

“Earlier this year, Texas Gov. Rick Perry made headlines for a bold advertising strategy aimed at four states with notoriously bad business climates: California, Illinois, New York, and Connecticut. Perry invited businesses there “to hit the emergency exit” and make a break for Texas.[1] While officials in these states dismissed Perry’s audacious campaign as little more than a stunt, Texas’ incredible success at creating new jobs demonstrates that it is more than just talk.  More people and businesses are voting with their feet to go where taxes and regulations are lower.
The success of Texas-which has no income tax-is clearly evident. In 2012 CNBC ranked Texas as the best state for business in the nation-overcome in 2013 by another no income tax state, South Dakota-and in 2013 Forbes placed seven Texas cities in its list of “Best Cities For Future Job Growth” with the top four all being from Texas.[2] In contrast, California, which has the highest income tax in the nation at 13.3 percent, was ranked 47th in CNBC’s 2013 poll and only saw one city-Santa Cruz-in the Forbes “Best Cities” list.[3]
Aside from rankings, Texas’ success in creating jobs is in the numbers. Despite accounting for only 8.4 percent of the United States’ population, Texas accounted for 43 percent of the jobs created between February 2009 and May 2013.[4] Over the past five years, Texas has added 889,685 jobs, including 303,000 in the past year alone, much more than any other state. Compare that to the high tax states of California, New York, and Illinois, as the Golden State-despite a larger population-added only 119,659 in the past five years, and New York and Illinois together lost 568,195 jobs over the same time period.[5] A 2010 article in The Economist even noted that the average New Yorker or Californian could take home between 9 and 11 percent more of their income by relocating to Texas.[6]

Continue reading Objective Conservative – The Voice of Conservative Thought in Nebraska: Nebraska Needs Tax and Regulation Reform.

Nothing in this article strikes me as wrong, in fact much of it is completely correct, and might well do a lot of good, in Omaha and Lincoln, and maybe marginally in Grand Island as well. While it won’t hurt the rest of us, I think, it’s not going to help much either. Why? Because taxes aren’t our major problem. We have other, structural problems, let’s talk about them a bit.

The big one is this: Corruption, It comes in two flavors, state and local. Let’s start with state.

Most of you know I’m an electrician, so that what we’ll talk about. Between Grand Island and Ogallala there are maybe 6 electricians that can efficiently troubleshoot industrial controls. I know 4 of them, 2 well. Good men that I would recommend to anybody. The only problem is that you’ll wait 3-9 months for them to get to you, if they’re even accepting new clients, that’s how busy they are.

Actually I know one more, me. I don’t practice though. Even though I have 40+ years of experience.Why? it’s very simple. Nebraska requires four years of experience to take the Journeyman test, the law provides for an apprentice card but, many of us out here worked on agricultural machinery (center pivots and grain handling systems) exclusively, which didn’t require licensing. Parenthetically, I’ve been here about 25 years, before that I lived in Indiana which has no state license. So, I never had an apprentice card, never needed one.

I called down to the state when I decided I wanted to branch out into general electrical work, they told me they wouldn’t accept my entire experience, at the time about five and a half years. That’s fine, it made sense, I hadn’t done residential in years. We settled that they would count two and a half years. So I hooked up with a Journeyman friend of mine who was on track to get his contractor license in about one-two years. Because I’m dumb and wasn’t doing much field work, I still didn’t bother with the stupid card.

Anyway what with one thing and another, by the time we got around to building in a job that would require us both, I was up to about six years including the agreed upon 2.5 from before. Since I do all the planning and such, it made more sense for me to take the contractor’s test, which would let me pull our permits. That requirement is five years. So, since an EC has to sign for you to take the exam, my EC buddy called down to make sure we were all on the same page. He was sitting in my office when he did and I could see the shock on his face.

The NSEB decided it wasn’t going to accept any of my experience, and they further threatened to lift his Contractor license just for asking. Luckily he was (and is) working for one of the ten largest electrical electrical contractors in the country so they didn’t quite dare try that. And that’s the story about why I have time to talk with you most days. I’m one of probably the 24 best electricians in the state, but because of *whatever* I’m not allowed to practice. And yes I’m too old, and crotchety to do another 4 years with some stupid 24 year old. I’d rather go on welfare than work for peanuts again.

Meantime there’s a factory less than a mile away from me, designed for medium manufacturing, I’d guess a few hundred thousand square feet, it’s been empty since the company moved it to Mexico, and then on to China. Very nice physical plant, I doubt it will ever be used again, even though the work force is still here, to set it up you’d need industrial mechanics, electricians (like me), pipefitters, and other industrial trades. Don’t forget to bring them with you. In any meaningful sense, they no longer exist here.

That’s part of the problems with the state, let’s talk about local for a bit, and then we’ll quit for today.

The Journeyman I spoke of earlier when he was planning to start this business before I was involved, figured he needed a shop and some storage, and maybe an office. He found a light manufacturing lot in another town, with a couple of quonset buildings and a small frame office, a bit run down but fixable. At the time he was living in a mobile home, and figured it reasonable to put that on the lot as well (it’s plenty big). So before he even bought it, he applied for a special use permit that would allow him to place his mobile home on the lot (it’s adjacent to a residential, although not fancy, area). He did the whole nine yards, talking to the neighbors, posting signs, whatever. So he was pretty confident when he went to the planning committee meeting, especially when no one complained, or even showed up.

So he was rather surprised when the mayor spearheaded a vigorous argument against allowing the permit, which was denied. That’s one thing, although nobody has ever offered a rational reason. The one that should have been a warning (he’s a bit bull-headed) was when the mayor asked the city attorney in open meeting if they could stop him from buying the property, including snide comments about raising goats which bewildered him no end. The answer was no.

So he bought it anyway, he’s had it now for better than ten years. In that time we have been cited for everything you can think of, including leaving material on trailers in our lot, which is zoned for outside storage. It has become completely impossible to function in that town, and so it’s sitting dormant, costing us money (although less than renting storage space for our stuff).

A good part of where we get whipsawed is that the city has it zoning code, which is reasonable, actually (or would be if properly enforced) it also has the International Property Maintenance Code which it enforces when it feels like it. By the way, you should read that code, it exists in most states and basically what it amounts to is that you will use your property exactly as the state and/or city says you will, not to mention that you will let their official into any or all of your property at any time, and yes it applies to your house as well.

Next time:



Legal Pot, Why Not?

English: Official portrait of United States At...

English: Official portrait of United States Attorney General Eric Holder Español: Retrato oficial de Fiscal General de los Estados Unidos Eric Holder (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


This is one of those issues that my beliefs have changed over the last 30-40 years. We all have a few like that, I think. When I was young I saw the wreckage made by heroin in the late 60s and 70s and basically said , “There oughta be a law”, and soon there was. And Nixon’s war on drugs, and for a time, things seemed better.


But, you know, Americans know perfectly well what happens when you outlaw something. We tried outlawing alcohol, and created the mafia. As always, if Shakespeare didn’t say it,  Churchill did, “If you destroy a market, you create a black market.” In the featured article here, Gene Howington reminds us of some of the good products we used to make of hemp, besides marijuana, like rope, and paper, and medicine.


Go ahead and read the article, and then we’ll talk a bit more.


From Jonathan Turley by Gene Howington, Guest Blogger

Propaganda 106 – Waging War (A Case Study)

“This thing, what is it in itself, in its own constitution? What is its substance and material? And what its causal nature [or form]? And what is it doing in the world? And how long does it subsist?” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, VIII – 11

“All war is deception.” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War

As previously discussed, “we need to differentiate between the terms ‘strategy’ and ‘tactics’.  Strategy is defined in relevant part by Webster’s as ‘the science and art of employing the political, economic, psychological, and military forces of a nation or group of nations to afford the maximum support to adopted policies in peace or war’.  Tactics, by contrast, is defined in relevant part by Webster’s as ‘the art or skill of employing available means to accomplish an end’ and ‘the study of the grammatical relations within a language including morphology and syntax’. By better understanding the tactics of propagandists, you not only gain a certain degree of immunity from their influence, but insight into their strategic ends.”

Today we will address strategy and tactics in the form of a case study. The context is the so-called “War on Drugs” and state’s efforts to legalize marijuana for medical and recreational use. The strategy is to exacerbate so called drug crime violence by obliquely attacking the burgeoning states effort to legalize marijuana and those who trade in legal marijuana by deliberately putting them at risk. The primary tactic in question is misdirection.  When analyzing propaganda, it’s important to ask who brings the message, what do they want me to think, why do they want me to think it and how do they benefit? The leader of this campaign against the American people?  United States Attorney General Eric Holder. Let’s examine the  what, why and who benefits from what Mr. Holder wants you to think.


Although preceded by a smattering of local laws and the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914 at the Federal level, prohibition via the 18th Amendment in 1919 and the Volstead Act of 1920 which were subsequently repealed by the 21st Amendment in 1923, the term “War of Drugs” entered the American lexicon in 1971 when used by Richard Nixon to (accurately) describe his continuation and expansion of policies started under the Harrison Narcotics Act via the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.  The Controlled Substance Act classified marijuana as a Schedule I drug with a high potential for abuse and no acceptable medical use. In 1982, then Vice President (and former CIA director) George H. W. Bush began pushing for the involvement of the CIA and U.S. military in drug interdiction efforts. The War of Drugs was being escalated in earnest. Many programs were started as cooperative ventures between the U.S military, the DEA and the CIA and foreign powers, resulting in billions of dollars flowing from the U.S. and into drug producing countries like Columbia, Mexico, Honduras and Panama – including the “stealth invasion” of Panama to overthrow former CIA front man, dictator and drug runner Manuel Noriega in Operation Just Cause. Many laws were passed, including the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 (ironically enough) that included the Sentencing Reform Act.

US_incarceration_rate_timelineMany people are outraged by the Federal and state government using private for profit prisons even though both have a long history of contracting out specific services to private firms, such as medical services, food preparation, vocational training, and inmate transportation. However, in the wake of the Comprehensive Crime Control Act and its included Sentencing Reform Act, the 1980′s saw explosive growth in the private prison industry. With traditionally government operated prison populations filled to overflowing by the War on Drugs and the mandated increased use of incarceration,  overcrowding and ballooning costs became increasingly used by all levels of government as a rationale for outsourcing prisons to the private sector.  Recognizing a gravy train when they saw it, private business interests moved from providing the simple (and reasonable) contracting of services to contracting for the complete management and operation of entire prisons in what they call in the business world (again, the irony) a turnkey solution.


Continue reading Propaganda 106 – Waging War (A Case Study) | JONATHAN TURLEY.


Cui bono


Cui bono is a latin phrase you’ve probably heard fairly often, if you what crime shows and such on TV. Essentially it means “To who the benefit” Who benefits from illegal marijuana? That first chart tells a lot of the story, doesn’t it?. That tells us that everybody that makes money from the prison system, and Mr. Howington did a good job of telling us who that is. If you would like to know more, a friend of mine at Montana Corruption. org works on it all the time. You could probably assume that the story is not that different where you live.


And this is what I finally saw. The endless circle of crony-capitalism. The legislature passes a law, the executive signs a contract (usually for a bloated amount) with a (well-connected) company to carry out the law, and the company makes generous contributions to the political party, and the lawmaker, and the executive. And so it goes, forever, regardless of the interests and needs of the country, let alone the people.


You did notice in this whole thing, didn’t you, that there is no incentive for anybody to ever be found innocent. Think anybody, especially poor anybody’s get railroaded? Yeah, me too. Read some more at Montana Corruption.


I would suggest that we are big boys and girls who can figure out for ourselves whether marijuana is hazardous. Let alone whether it is more hazardous than either Booze or cigarettes. Who decides? Right now  Uncle Sam. I think we need to stop letting Uncle Sam be our Mommy and Daddy until we’re ninety-six.


It’s amazing what you see when you start to apply those two little words. Try it. often.


Cui Bono



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