Chicago Boyz

                 
 
 
 

 
  •   Problem? Question?
  •   Contact Contributors:
  •   Please send any comments or suggestions about America 3.0 to:

  • CB Twitter Feed
  • Lex's Tweets
  • Jonathan's Tweets
  • Blog Posts (RSS 2.0)
  • Blog Posts (Atom 0.3)
  • Incoming Links
  • Recent Comments

    • Loading...
  • Authors

  • Notable Discussions

  • Recent Posts

  • Blogroll

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Archive for the 'Americas' Category

    Harbingers

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 15th April 2014 (All posts by )

    I’ve been surfing my usual internet hangouts over the last week or so – in between working on various editing, formatting and sales projects for the Tiny Publishing Bidness – so although I did surf, and read and observe reports on a number of different and rather disturbing events – I didn’t have time to write anything about them until after I had finished the biggest of the current projects on my plate.

    The biggest of them was the new-old range war of the Bundy ranch. I suppose that technically speaking, the Fed Gov had some small shreds of technical justification in demanding grazing fees … but the longer one looked at the whole of L’affaire Bundy, the worse it looked … which is doubtless why the Fed Gov backed down. A tactical retreat, of course; The optics of a shoot-out between the minions of the Fed Gov and the various Bundy supporters would not have been good, for Harry Reid and his clan and friends most of all, although they may eventually act – seeing that they have a position which will be at risk by tolerating defiance.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Blogging, Business, Civil Liberties, Deep Thoughts, Just Unbelievable, Media, North America, Politics, Real Estate | 19 Comments »

    The New McCarthyites

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 7th April 2014 (All posts by )

    Seriously, I am wondering how on earth the politically correct of this blessed nation manage to keep a straight face and their heads from exploding; ritually demanding sympathy for the so-called victims of the 1950s black-list of various Hollywoodians of distinctly Communist sympathies, while in this present century demanding that those who are not vociferously laudatory with regard to same-sex marriage be cast into the outer darkness. Not that I can specifically put a finger and a link to a person or body doing exactly that – but it is noted for the record that same kind of so-called liberal, generous and tolerant thinker who routinely condemn the antics of Joe McCarthy with regard to Communist infiltration half a century and more ago, is in these degraded days prepared to drag those who decline to enthusiastically support same-sex marriage to the stake, the courts, or the unemployment line. The irony abounds … and is likely to achieve such a density as to drop it all the way to the core of the earth and out the other side.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Current Events | 19 Comments »

    Where Sgt. Mom Spent Saturday

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 6th April 2014 (All posts by )

    At the mighty Big Enchilada!

    Yes, at the San Antonio Book Festival. The exhibitor tables were across the street – and there were only two homeless that I spotted, from the Watercress Press table. Otherwise a mildly rewarding day, and a grateful return home to a frozen pizza and two episodes of Upstairs, Downstairs on the TV.

    Posted in Americas, Architecture, Book Notes, Business | 3 Comments »

    Is Venezuela Collapsing ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 14th February 2014 (All posts by )

    UPDATE #2: The western bloc is growing while the Atlantic bloc stagnates.

    Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina are languishing in differing shades of turmoil, steadily losing ground to regional underdogs. The Pacific Alliance, an historic trade agreement between Mexico, Peru, Chile, and Colombia (and coming soon: Costa Rica), has the potential to recolor Latin America’s economic map and introduce some new regional powerhouses to the world stage.

    More here.

    Four nations are developing an initiative that could add new dynamism to Latin America, redraw the economic map of the region, and boost its connections with the rest of the world—especially Asia. It could also offer neighboring countries a pragmatic alternative to the more political groupings dominated by Brazil, Cuba, and Venezuela.

    UPDATE: More on the role Cuba is playing in Venezuela now.

    Belmont Club has a good post today on the collapse of Venezuela. The car manufacturers have announced they are closing their plants.

    Toyota Motor Co. said it would shut down its assembly operations in Venezuela due to the government’s foreign exchange controls that have crippled imports and made it impossible to bring in parts needed to build its vehicles.

    The country’s other car manufacturers, including General Motors and Ford, haven’t even started operations this year, while waiting for needed parts to arrive.

    The oil field workers left years ago when the Chavez government cut oil workers’ pay.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Civil Liberties, Cuba, International Affairs, Iran, Latin America | 20 Comments »

    Sink It

    Posted by Jonathan on 12th February 2014 (All posts by )

    A couple of Iranian navy ships are slowly making their way to the Americas. What’s going on? J. E. Dyer has a long and thoughtful post:

    That said, two things are worth reiterating. One, the U.S. does not have a constant-ready missile defense network that would protect the central and southeastern United States from an MRBM threat emanating from the south. We are unprotected on this axis. Shifting to a footing of 24/365 alert and anti-missile protection – e.g., by deploying Patriot systems in the continental U.S. or Navy Aegis ships offshore – would constitute a new, un-resourced requirement. We’d have to cut back defense operations elsewhere to meet it.
     
    Two, our ability to react against the “shooter” is limited by the forces we have ready today. We don’t have extra ships and aircraft to deploy for a deterrent presence in Central America. We could react after the fact with B-2 bombers, and possibly other conventional forms of attack, such as submarine-launched cruise missiles and ballistic missiles with conventional warheads. But we would have to attack to mount a response, in (most probably) Venezuela or Cuba, and that response would be inherently escalatory.
     
    It’s quite possible that our current administration would view that as a bridge too far. Realistically, I think the military would view the prospect with strong disfavor. Our ready forces would not have such a preponderance of power, or such advantages of geography, that we could do it easily and without inconvenience.
     
    Bottom line: MRBMs down south would constitute a material transformation of our security footing in the hemisphere. It’s a development we couldn’t live with.
     
    [...]
     
    The “red flag” in this whole saga is the concentration of verbal threats from the Iranians, at a time when they are making an unprecedented naval deployment to the Americas; they are mounting an unusual outreach with Fatah; and they are close enough to nuclearization – even by the expected route, as opposed to the speculative North Korean option – that dashing to the finish line is the only step left.
     
    The quality of some of the Iranian threats is deeply silly. But this doesn’t have the feel of random nuttiness to it. The Iranians are up to something.

    I agree with Dyer, who implies in the post (and states explicitly in a comment) that the lowest-risk course of action for us would be to sink the ship of the two that has a hold big enough to transport ballistic missiles.

    Dyer’s argument is long and well supported. You will have to read the whole thing to get the full thrust of her reasoning.

    My take on Iran continues to be that if it gets nuclear weapons, as now seems certain, it will use them. It will not necessarily use them to attack Israel or otherwise blow some place up, at least not in the near future. It will use them to gain leverage, to extort valuable concessions from its adversaries, including us. Obama’s feckless appeasement of the mullahs has whetted their appetite for aggression and confirmed that they have at least three more years of clear sailing ahead. They will press this advantage. We are not going to be able to contain them, because they will continue to look for opportunities to place us in situations where our disinclination to fight will give them victories by default. The current situation, with the two ships, appears to be the opener. We have a lot to lose. If we want to stop Iran we are going to have to confront it militarily at some point. The sooner we do this the less costly it will be.

    Posted in Americas, Cuba, Current Events, International Affairs, Iran, Israel, Military Affairs, National Security, War and Peace | 61 Comments »

    Otherizing

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 29th January 2014 (All posts by )

    To put it in simple terms, that’s what I call it when a whole group, or sub-set of people are deemed the Emmanuel Goldstein of the moment by a dominant group, and set up as a focus for free-wheeling hate. In practice, this hate may range all the way from a mild disinclination to associate professionally or socially, all the way to 11 in marking the object of that hate as a suitable target for murder, either singly or in wholesale lots – and sometimes with the cooperation and blessing of the state. It’s more something that I have read about – either in the pages of history books, or in the newspapers – and increasingly on-line. Still, it is no end distressing to see it developing here in these United States in this century. Am I paranoid about this current bout of ‘otherizing’? Perhaps – but don’t tell me that it cannot happen here.

    Some hundred and fifty years ago, the ‘otherizing’ reached such a pitch that young men marched against their countrymen – they were clad in blue and grey, and fell on battlefields so contested that lead shot fell like a hailstorm, and swept away a large portion of men recruited by regional-based units. Passionate feelings, words and small deeds, public and private regarding slavery were balanced against states’ rights. The pressure built up and up, like steam in a boiler – and finally there was no means for them to be expressed but in death wished upon the ‘other’. By the end of twenty years of editorials, speeches, and political campaigns had been worked to a fever pitch. Civil war became not only possible – but in the eyes of the editorialists, the speech-makers and the politicians – a wholly desirable outcome. And a goodly portion of a generation lay dead, as if a scythe had swept over a wheat-field. Everyone was very sorry afterwards, but the words could not be unspoken, the hatred and resentment re-bottled in a flask, or the dead re-animated, to go about their ordinary lives as if the great divisive issue of mid-19th century America had never been.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Civil Society, History, Just Unbelievable, Leftism, Media, North America, Tea Party | 49 Comments »

    History Friday – The Man With a Past

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 24th January 2014 (All posts by )

    It was one of the clichés in the old Wild West – that part of it which featured in dime novels, silent serial movies, Wild West Shows, and television shows – the crooked lawman. It did have some basis in fact, though; the recently established cow-towns and mining towns were tough places. Very often the natural choice for keeping the local bad-hats in some kind of seemly order was to co-opt the biggest, meanest baddest bad-hat of them all to administer order as sheriff. Not infrequently, said bad-hat was also a gambler, owned a saloon or an establishment of negotiable affections, and alternated between managing said establishment or the cards and keeping law and order. Other law officers started off on the side of the angels and went to the bad – such as the sheriff of Bannock, Montana, Henry Plummer, who was hanged by the local Vigilante organization in Virginia City. (The vigilantes were convinced by evidence that he was the head of a gang of road-agents, stock thieves and murderers.) In other words, the path wavering back and forth between the darkness and the light was a pretty well-trodden one, and so was the one-way path from light to darkness. But for one who walked from darkness of a criminal life, into the light of upholding the law – and remained there for most of his life, nothing quite comes close to the life of one particular lawman.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, History | 5 Comments »

    History Saturday – The Two Samuels

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 11th January 2014 (All posts by )

    (OK, so I am late with the my usual History Friday segment. Stuff to work on in the real world, you know.)

    The annexation of Texas to the United States – the culmination of nearly a decade of mostly-back-stairs campaigning by Sam Houston – kicked off a war with Mexico, which had never really gotten over the loss of Coahuila-Tejas. Nearly half the Mexican states had rebelled violently when General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna had abrogated the Mexican constitution of 1824 and established himself as dictator. Santa Anna put down the resulting rebellion with particular brutality, but thanks to the luck and skill of Sam Houston, and Santa Anna’s own miscalculations, Texas slipped from his grasp, maintaining a precarious state as an independent republic. Mexico threatened war, if annexation was accomplished and when it was, practically everyone directly involved was spoiling for a fight. (Although many Americans were anti-war in this particular case, including many northern Whigs like soon-to-be statesman Abraham Lincoln, and abolitionists, all of whom detested the addition of a slave-state to the union.)

    Among those most keen to have it done and get it over with were the volunteer Texas Rangers. Jack Hays had recruited a Texas force to serve along with Zachary Taylor’s command as spies and scouts. Two veterans of Jack Hays’ legendary Big Fight were along with him – Samuel Walker and Robert Addison ‘Ad’ Gillespie – when Taylor’s army took Matamoros and Camargo, and converged in several columns on Monterray. That city-stronghold was protected by fortified heights; Independence Hill, Fort Soldado, the Bishop’s Palace – and there the U.S. Army fought a savage battle at the gates of the city and in the surrounding heights, until the Mexican commanders offered an 8-week long truce. They would surrender the city, if they would allow the American army to allow them to evacuate their surviving troops. At the start of the siege, the Rangers were reported to have amused themselves by riding out to the walls, making flamboyant demonstrations of their horsemanship, provoking the Mexican gunners into firing, and then skillfully dodging the resulting cannon-balls aimed at them. By the time the truce was over, many of the Rangers’s limited enlistments were up, and they returned home to Texas. (So did Ad Gillespie – fatally wounded in the assault on the Bishop’s Palace fortifications. His body was returned for burial in a cemetery in San Antonio; Gillespie County, in the Texas Hill Country, is named for him.)
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Diversions, History | 4 Comments »

    Here We Go Again …

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 20th December 2013 (All posts by )

    … or, haven’t I been to this rodeo before? Why, yes I have, and not all that long ago, either. First I called to mind was poor artless Paula Deen, celebrity cook-book author, metaphorically burned at stake in the marketplace of public opinion. But the Great Duck Dynasty Imbroglio of 2013 reminds me very much more of the Great Chick-Fil-A Ruckus of 2012, wherein some fairly mild published remarks by the CEO of the company sent the usual right-thinking suspects into a frenzy of shrieking like demented howler monkeys. Boycott, shun, divest and/or fire was the general ukase – for they are hateful hating bigots who shouldn’t be tolerated by truly tolerant people … and then the funniest thing happened. People went out and deliberately bought lunch, dinner and breakfast at their local Chick-fil-A outlet, to the utter chagrin of the usual right-thinking suspects. Chick-Fil-A nationwide had the best darned week they ever had, as far as sales went, and lines of hungry customers stretching for blocks.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Business, Conservatism, Current Events, Human Behavior, Media, Uncategorized | 28 Comments »

    History Friday – An Archive Post on the Uses of History

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 29th November 2013 (All posts by )

    (From 2006, in response to a then-current story on a local grade school principal cancelling a long-standing tradition of a Thanksgiving tableau enacted by the small children dressing as Pilgrims and Indians. The link to the original story is long-decayed, but in light of this particular blast, and this one from the eternally plastic Cher … well, still relevant.)

    Reader Mark Rosenbaum commented on one of my historical pieces this week: “Why couldn’t they tell history this well when I was in school a half century ago?” About that same time, I ran across this story—part of the run-up to the Thanksgiving holiday. Perhaps it might, in a small way, explain why people are not so enamored of history these days – at least, the sort of history taught in schools.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Blogging, Civil Society, Deep Thoughts, History | 16 Comments »

    History Friday – Letters From a lady

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 15th November 2013 (All posts by )

    (Since The Quivera Trail is launching next weekend – at New Braunfels’ Weihnachtsmarkt, no less – I have begun research for the next historical adventure, that picaresque California Gold Rush adventure which I have always wanted to write. This research takes the form of reading every darned history and contemporary account that I have on my shelves, or can get my hands on. One of these books is The Shirley Letters from the California Mines 1851-1852, by Louise Amelia Knapp Smith ‘Dame Shirley’ Clappe.)

    Louise Amelia – better known by her pen-name, Dame Shirley – was an irreproachably Victorian lady, possessing a lively intellect and observant eye, which the education typically given to girls at that time did nothing to impair. Conventional expectations for upper-class women of her day seem hardly to have made a dent in her either. She was born around 1819 in Elizabeth New Jersey and orphaned by the deaths of both parents before out of her teens. She had a talent for writing, encouraged by an unexpected mentor – Alexander H. Everett, then famed in a mild way as a diplomat, writer and public speaker. He was twice her age, and seems to have fallen at least a little but in love with her. She did not see him as a suitor, but they remained friends and devoted correspondents. Eventually she was courted by and consented to marry a young doctor, Fayette Clappe – who even before the ink was dry on the registry, caught the gold fever. Fayette and Louise Amelia were off on the months-long voyage around the Horn to fabled California. The gold rush was almost overwhelmingly a male enterprise – wives and sweethearts usually remained waiting at home, but not the indomitable Louise, who confessed in one of her letters to her sister Molly, “I fancy that nature intended me for an Arab or some other nomadic barbarian, and by mistake my soul got packed up in a Christianized set of bones and muscles.”
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Book Notes, History | 3 Comments »

    History Friday:War in the Borderlands – Juan Cortina

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 25th October 2013 (All posts by )

    In the last few years before the outbreak of the Civil War, another war stalked the borderlands of the Rio Grande Valley, this one between Mexico and Texas, personified by a reckless young Mexican grandee named Juan Nepomunceno Cortina. He was the ‘black sheep’ son of a large and wealthy family with considerable holdings on either side of the border; a handsome, dashing and impulsive man, quick to take offense at insult. For a number of reasons, most to do with his family wealth and influence, he was also seen as the champion of the poorer Mexican residents, who were not infrequently stung by Anglo contempt and injustice. For his own part, Cortina violently resented certain Anglo ranchers, including one Augustus Glavaecke, who had often accused Cortina of helping himself to his and other Anglo rancher’s livestock.

    In spite of this, in 1858, Cortina was living at one of the family properties near Brownsville – close enough that he rode into town every day and whiled away the morning at a popular local coffee shop, drinking coffee and reading the newspapers. But one mid-June day, a former employee of his – Tomas Cabrera was drunk and disorderly, disrupting the peace and quiet of the coffee shop. Robert Spears, the city marshal, tried to arrest Cabrera, over the objections of Cortina. Spears answered Cortina with an insult, whereupon Cortina whipped out his pistol and shot Spears in the shoulder. He then grabbed his horse, pulling Cabrera up behind him, and galloped out of town. It was a spectacularly theatrical exit, and made him even more popular than ever among the poorer Mexicans along the border.

    Cortina lay low at the ranch for some month, while those Anglo residents of Brownsville – especially those who entertained lively suspicions about him – wondered what he would get up to next. He was buying horses and recruiting men for some purpose, probably nefarious. It didn’t come clear until the end of September, the morning after a grand ball in Matamoros, which practically everyone of means, Anglo and Mexican had attended. In the wee hours of the morning, Cortina rode into town with a hundred of his mounted, well-armed new best friends, and took it over, lock, stock and both barrels. He was after a number of his bitterest enemies, rancher Glavaecke and Marshal Spears among them. They escaped, but three other Americans and a Mexican who tried to shield one of the Americans died at the hands of Cortina’s men. They broke into the jail, liberating about a dozen prisoners, but murdering the jailor. They also tried to hoist the Mexican flag over the deserted American compound of Fort Brown.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, History | 3 Comments »

    Emmanuel Tea Party Goldstein

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 23rd October 2013 (All posts by )

    You know, the last eight years or so have educated me – at least socially and politically – as much as the eight years that I spent in high school, college and the first year in the military ever did. Who says you stop intellectually developing after your mid-forties? I suppose the most-eye-opening development is that I have now seen for real and in real-time that which I had only read about in history books; mainly the development, perpetuation, care and feeding of “The Big Lie.” As defined by the erratic but invaluable Wikipedia, that is “a lie so “colossal” that no one would believe that someone “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.”

    But the ‘big lie’ has worked, over and over again – and most especially and effectively when it is chorused from every corner and by every authority. The latest example and the one which I find most personally outrageous is this one; (found through Legal Insurrection at the National Review); one Alan Grayson, a Democrat member of the House of Representatives has sent out an email to his supporters casually equating the Tea Party with the KKK. As a southern Democrat, Rep. Grayson is, of course, an expert on the KKK, seeing that they served as the shock troops of Southern Democrats. Other leading Democrat Party figures have passed remarks just as disparaging of the Tea Party; I suspect that they are actually mistaking the straw-man Tea Party construction of their own mind, rather than the earnest, hardworking and mostly middle-class fans of fiscally-responsible, strict Constitutionalist and free-market policies which made up most of the Tea Party members I am acquainted with. How such a body of people can be made out to be the sinister Goldsteins and calumniated with such vicious enthusiasm, solo and chorus is almost beyond belief – but they are, and it is only getting worse.

    A good portion of the citizens of the United States are being ‘othered’ by those who disagree with them politically and philosophically – and by people you would have thought would know better. The establishment media and pop-culture organs are aiding and abetting this, not realizing that it is only a short step from ‘othering’ to declaring open season – literally. The next step is already being contemplated, although it is hard to tell how seriously the petition to arrest and try the leaders of the Republican Party for sedition, merely for having had the temerity to oppose the current administration. There is something bad in the water, when being in political opposition is considered ground for criminal charges. The comments appended to this story, and this one are dispiriting to read, for too many commenters voice enthusiastic agreement and approval. To be fair, a good few commenters warned against this criminalization of political dissent – since the sauce for the Tea Party goose might just as easily be served up with the progressive gander. Taken all together, this does not augur well and it certainly heats up the cold civil war a couple of more degrees.

    Posted in Americas, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Conservatism, Just Unbelievable, Obama, Politics, Society, Tea Party, The Press | 27 Comments »

    Dakota Die-Off

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 16th October 2013 (All posts by )

    A Facebook friend posted a link to a blogpost regarding this story – which has apparently just barely made a dent in public awareness outside the local area.

    Last weekend western South Dakota and parts of the surrounding states got their butts handed to them by Mother Nature. A blizzard isn’t unusual in South Dakota, the cattle are tough they can handle some snow. They have for hundreds of years.
     
    Unlike on our dairy farm, beef cattle don’t live in climate controlled barns. Beef cows and calves spend the majority of their lives out on pasture. They graze the grass in the spring, summer and fall and eat baled hay in the winter.
     
    In winter these cows and calves grow fuzzy jackets that keep them warm and protect them from the snow and cold.
     
    The cows and calves live in special pastures in the winter. These pastures are smaller and closer to the ranch, they have windbreaks for the cows to hide behind. They have worked for cows for hundred of years.
     
    So what’s the big deal about this blizzard?
     
    It’s not really winter yet.

    The rest is here.

    (Crossposted at www.ncobrief.com, and at www.celiahayes.com)

    Posted in Americas, Business, Current Events, North America | 11 Comments »

    Possible South Florida Meetup, Saturday 28 September

    Posted by Jay Manifold on 25th September 2013 (All posts by )

    La Vallée-de-Jacmel, Haïti


    If all goes well, I will be arriving at MIA on American 1665 from Port-au-Prince at 3:35 PM local time this Saturday. The plan, such as it is, is that I call Jonathan once I am through customs. I somewhat inappropriately made reservations for lodging much closer to FLL, just because I like the place (Villa Europa in Hollywood) and haven’t had the chance to stay there in a while. So anyway, southern Floridians interested in a probable wide-ranging and somewhat ethanol-assisted discussion (#civilsociety #crisisof2020 #statefailure #younameit) are encouraged to contact Jonathan and … figure something out. Hey, I have people for that.

    Posted in Americas, Announcements, Blogging, Civil Society, Latin America, Personal Narrative, Predictions, Schedules, Transportation | 4 Comments »

    History Friday – The Tireless Mr. Colt

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 13th September 2013 (All posts by )

    Born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1814, Samuel “Sam” Colt was an innovator and inventor, single-minded, energetic to the point of hyperactivity, and the very epitome of a self-made man – of which there were a great many in 19th century America. At the age of seven years, his mother died. She was the daughter of a fairly well-to-do family; his father was a farmer turned minor industrialist, having gone into the business of manufacturing textiles with the aid of his in-laws. When Sam was eleven, his father went bankrupt. While the senior Colt attempted to regain his economic footing, Sam and his five brothers and sisters were farmed out to relatives and neighbors. Sam was apprenticed to a farmer, with the understanding that he attended school regularly. Which Sam Colt did, but likely did not learn anything beyond what he was really interested in – his handwriting was lamentable and his spelling a matter best left unmentioned. But he read widely and voraciously; his favorite was a then-popular scientific encyclopedia called the Compendium of Knowledge, and sometime in his early teens he resolved to be an inventor. At fifteen, he left school and went to work in his father’s mill, a splendid venue for tinkering – and indulging in a taste for showing off. On July 4th, 1829, he gained a degree of local notoriety by blowing up a raft in a local shallow pond, detonating a large quantity of gunpowder with a galvanic cell which he had built himself. He had advertised the event beforehand, by having handbills printed and distributed – so there was a substantial crowd gathered for the show. But the raft with the battery and gunpowder on it had drifted from position – and the resulting mighty blast showered the crowd with mud.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Business, History, RKBA | 4 Comments »

    History Friday: Some Curious Facts You Might Not Have Known . . .

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 9th August 2013 (All posts by )

    . . . . About the trans-Mississippi West, and the emigrant trails generally.

    In the interests of writing what now turns out to be seven books and counting, I spent the last couple of years immersed in a tidal-wave of books about the American West; the California and Oregon emigrant trails, the settlement of Texas, studies of various Indian tribes, the post-Civil War Army, cattle drives and all that.

    I have encountered all sorts of amusing things that either I didn’t know, or knew vaguely of, or that are not generally known, except by local historians and enthusiasts. Some of these may come as a great surprise to those who know only of the 19th Century American West through TV shows and movies. Such as:

    A flock of sheep was taken along the Oregon Trail in the early 1840ies. And in 1847 a large wagon of nursery stock: approximately 700 live young plants, of various types of fruit and nut trees, and vines. This at a time when it still generally took at least five months to cross two thirds of the North American continent.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, History | 15 Comments »

    Archive Post: The Shape of Things to Come … And Go

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 5th June 2013 (All posts by )

    (Just for fun, from out of my NCOBrief archives, an essay from July, 2010.)
    You know, out of all of the things that I was afraid might happen, after the presidential coronation of Obama, the Fresh Prince of Chicago . . . I never considered that race relations might be one of those things which would worsen. Hey – lots of fairly thoughtful and well-intentioned people of pallor voted for him, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, or at least in some expectation of him being a fairly well adjusted and centrist politician, or at least a fast learner. Wasn’t that what all the top pundits, and the mainstream media were insisting, all during the 2008 campaign . . . well, once they got up from their knees and wiped the drool off their chins.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Big Government, Blogging, Civil Society, Current Events, Elections, Leftism, Obama, Politics, Predictions, USA | 3 Comments »

    Quilt

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 5th May 2013 (All posts by )

    On display yesterday in Boerne, Texas – at the Haupstrasse Quiltfest – a celebration of a unique American art.

    Posted in Americas, Diversions, North America, Photos | 3 Comments »

    History Friday – Mickey Free, the Apache Indian Scout

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 26th April 2013 (All posts by )

    His name wasn’t really Mickey Free, and he wasn’t really an Apache Indian. The legendary Al Sieber, chief of Army scouts in the badlands of the Southwest after the Civil War once described him as ‘Half Mexican, half Irish and whole S-O-B.’ Mickey Free was one of Sieber’s scouts, enlisted formally into the US Army in the early 1870s at Fort Verde, Arizona, eventually rising to the rank of sergeant. He was a valuable asset to Sieber and the Army as a scout and interpreter as he was fluent in English, Spanish and the Apache dialects. Most observers assumed that Mickey Free was at least half-Apache: He raised a family, served as a tribal policeman and when he died, was buried at his long-time home on the reservation of the White Mountain Apache. But he was just as Al Sieber had said – Mexican and Irish – and his birth name was Felix Martinez. And what many didn’t know was that Mickey Free was entangled inadvertently in the bitter and ongoing war between the Apaches and the whites long before his enlistment in the Army.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Diversions, History, Military Affairs, North America | 14 Comments »

    The City of West, Texas Leveled by Fertilizer Plant Explosion

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 17th April 2013 (All posts by )

    The small town of West, Texas, north of Waco, has had its fertilizer plant blow up around 7:15pm CST. There was a fire with fire fighting units on-site when a tank in the plant exploded in a massive fireball described as “nuclear” by local residents.

    The plant, and buildings within four blocks — including the hospital, apartments & a nursing home — have been leveled with many on fire. The local school district is closed the next two days from damage and use as a trauma center.

    Dallas TV is reporting the West EMS director as giving a casualty count of 60-70 dead with hundreds injured in a town of 2,500.

    The local Dallas TV is showing most of West is on fire with a 10-mile back up on I-35 filled with 1st responders and other traffic. I-35 between Waco and West is currently in the midst of a major construction project contributing to this.

    The triage center at a local football field was evacuated at 10:00pm CST for fear of another tank at the plant exploding.

    Further Dallas media reports (10:50pm CST) are that Northern Waco is being evacuated for fear of toxic chemical releases from the West Fertilizer Plant fires.

    Update 11:20pm:
    The Mayor of West has held a press conference that just ended (11:15PM CST). The Mayor is also a fire fighter and was a block away, responding, when the plant blew. He did not give overall casualty numbers, but five West fire fighters were on-site when the plant blew and are unaccounted for. The nearby nursing home was evacuated. First responders are going house to house in the northern portion of town looking for survivors, wounded and dead. Areas north of West are being subjected to a potentially toxic smoke plume but the fire is under control.

    Earlier reports of Waco evacuation appear untrue.

    Update: 06:30 AM
    The death count dropped overnight from 60-70 to 5-to-15 “missing” mostly from the West Volunteer Fire Department. Facebook has a photo of the blast cloud here.

    The cloud has the characteristic mushroom shape of any really large explosion. FYI, that photo was taken from Arlington, Texas about 70 miles away.

    Update: 11:15am

    The blast photo was changed as there was a question the earlier photo was faked.

    Update: 12:40 pm
    The main tank that blew in West had a 12,000 gallon volume and CNN is now reporting multiple hospital victims with anhydrous ammonia burns. That tank is almost certainly the source of the anhydrous ammonia. See the comments section for a retired OSHA investigator’s view of the explosion videos.

    Update 12:50pm
    West is known for a couple of things in Texas. Really good kolaches (pigs in a blanket with alternete fruit or cheese fillings for you non-Czech-Texans) and Westfest a polka festival every Labor Day. I suspect Westfest is going to be much more somber this year.

    Posted in Americas, Current Events | 16 Comments »

    The Worst Auto Body Fix

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 1st April 2013 (All posts by )

    I have seen worse on ‘There I Fixed It’ - but never in real life, until now. Spotted on a black Honda Accord in my neighborhood. All points for creative thinking … but door hardware?! Really???!!!

    Posted in Americas, Photos | 19 Comments »

    History Friday: Disorder in the Court: 9-11-1842

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 21st February 2013 (All posts by )

    Re-enactors of an early Texas Court

    Strange but true – General Lopez de Santa Anna’s invasion of Texas in 1836 was not to be the last time that a Mexican Army crossed the border into Texas in full battle array – artillery, infantry, military band and all. Santa Anna may have been defeated at San Jacinto – but for the Napoleon of the west, that was only a temporary setback. In March of 1842 a brief raid by General Rafael Vasquez and some 400 soldiers made a lightening-fast dash over the Rio Grande, while another 150 soldiers struck at Goliad and Refugio. They met little resistance – and departed at speed before Texan forces could assemble and retaliate. All seemed to have quieted down by late summer, though: Texas had ratified a treaty with England, and the United States requesting that Texas suspend all hostilities with Mexico.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Civil Society, History | 6 Comments »

    Diversion – Paint Rock, Texas

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 11th February 2013 (All posts by )

    Small business, small-town Texas-Style


    Donna’s Beauty Parlor, on the courthouse square in Beautiful Downtown Paint Rock.

    Posted in Americas, Business, Photos | 3 Comments »

    History Friday – Border Incursion Early 20th Century Style

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 8th February 2013 (All posts by )

    Once there was a little town, a little oasis of civilization – as the early 20th century understood the term – in the deserts of New Mexico, a bare three miles from the international boarder. The town was named for Christopher Columbus – the nearest big town on the American side of the border with Mexico was the county seat of Deming, thirty miles or so to the north; half a day’s journey on horseback or in a Model T automobile in the desert country of the Southwest. It’s a mixed community of Anglo and Mexicans, some of whose families have been there nearly forever as the far West goes, eking out a living as ranchers and traders, never more than a population of about fifteen hundred. There’s a train station, a schoolhouse, a couple of general stores, a drug-store, some nice houses for the better-off Anglo residents, and a local newspaper – the Columbus Courier, where there is even a telephone switchboard. Although better than a decade and a half into the twentieth century, in most ways Columbus looks back to the late 19th century, to the frontier, when men went armed as a matter of course. Although the Indian wars are thirty years over – no need to fear raids from Mimbreno and Jicarilla Apache, from the fearsome Geronimo, from Comanche and Kiowa – the Mexican and Anglo living in this place have long and bitter memories.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Civil Society, Diversions, History | 4 Comments »