Saturday, February 25, 2017

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Watergate

This is important. Republicans are starting to break in favor of independent investigation of Trump and Russian ties. Remember there are three problems starting from most solid to less so (and one and two are pretty solid):
1. Russian interference with US election.
2. Trump campaign and transition personnel contacts with Russia.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Historical Photos: Nevada to Australia and Back Again

There is this great guy in Hobart, Tasmania who became my friend through blogging. There ought to be a word for that like "Blogo-Amigo" or something except that he is probably a distant cousin anyway through the Welsh connection. He has photographic talents and helped out with a tricky little problem. 

We have our photo of Jane Vaughan Lewis Johns (1827-1890) through miraculous means. From the context, we believed the photograph to be taken in Virginia City, Nevada in the 1860s. It is a carte-de-visite of the period and the style of her dress fits the time.

All we had was her identity as "Jeanette Vaughan Servis Johns" and it took some work through the history of the Johns Family clinched with the 1860 Census for Jacks Valley, Nevada, that this was indeed Jane Vaughan, born 1827 in Hay, Breconshire, daughter of John and Elinor Vaughan, and handcart pioneer of 1856. The original of this photo has been donated to the LDS Church History Library as should all photos of handcart pioneers.
Then the other day, I was doing my usual googling around on the internet and found a couple of photos identified as "Mrs. Blasdel, wife of the first Governor of Nevada" (Sarah Jane Cox Blasdel (1826-1904)). I looked closer and saw what I thought was the same stand or plinth next to the first First Lady of Nevada that is in Jane's picture. Not having the skills to manipulate photos all that well, I sent it off to my friend in Australia hoping he might take an interest and do some manipulation.

Electronic ties that bind struck the right spark and my friend across the world sent me back this beautiful video analysis matching up the feature in the two photos. He, his wife, and I all agree with 99% certainty that it's a match!



Well, that's great! But what does it mean? As a skeptical historian, all we can only conclude is that the two photos were likely taken in the same studio with the same prop in close proximity of time and place. The photo of Mrs. Blasdel has 1867 written on it, some evidence of its date. Carson City was the capital of Nevada where we might conclude the Governor's wife would have her picture taken but the real boom town was up the hills in Virginia. (It wasn't known as Virginia "City" until later).

I only found one reference to a photo studio in Carson City that opened in 1873. It was the Sutterley Brothers who already had a studio in Virginia City and even one in Great Salt Lake City! The only other studios I could find in the 1860s were also in Virginia City, one by Hedger & Noe, the other by someone named E. Hurd. Some entertainment followed as I searched the web for cartes-de-visite from pioneer Nevada with much hilarity and not much help from Pinterest and some really good files from the University of Nevada-Reno. But I could not match anything up with that furniture in the pics with Jane and Sarah.

There was one that popped up from an auction site of a photo collection from Virginia City, Nevada. And there it was!


Sadly, some private collector won the auction an there is no further information about the specific picture. Why can't people put these in museums and archives where they belong?

So what we have is one more piece of a hint that the pictures are from Virginia City. I think it's pretty clear they were all taken with the same prop and most likely in the same studio.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Trump and Republicans Are Threatening the First Amendment

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
As entertaining* as Trump's Press Conference last Thursday may have been, it and recent actions of Republican officials are evidencing serious threats to the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Not all the fault lies on the Right, the Left in certain college campuses have restricted the expression of views of unpopular right-wingers. As obnoxious as they may be, all voices should be heard. And the voices restricted at some campuses are still loud and clear in many other fora.

But let's address the issues of Trump and his party.
1. "No law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

Monday, February 13, 2017

Eagle Scout - The End of Childhood


Probably among the top-ten best days of my life was that Eagle Scout Court of Honor and LDS Ward Scout Dinner. That picture is full of joy and pride untainted in myself of the pains of adulthood. Oh, I'd been through some teenage angst, but my family and security were solid. And I was blissfully unprepared for the clouds of Wyoming coal-dust snow and mud-rain summer that were to descend upon us.

Note the Council patch on my dad's shoulder below. He had already been to Rock Springs, Wyoming, as the new Council Executive of the Jim Bridger Council, BSA. It was a great honor to get your own council even if such a small one in membership if not in size stretching for a hundred miles in any direction with few roads and fewer people in between.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Nixon & Elvis


One of the strangest photographs ever of a President of the United States (well, until any photo of the current president over the last three weeks), was this one of Nixon meeting Elvis Presley. Presley presented himself to the President as one concerned about the way the liberal left and drug culture were leading the youth of America astray and away from the patriotic ideals represented by Nixon.

I just watched the Amazon production of Elvis & Nixon, my wife out of town so I could get away with it. I would give it four stars. ****

And the bigger point here is the realization that our current President is the perfect fusion of Nixon and Elvis. All the hypocrisy of both; espousing patriotic ideals while allowing personal demons to self-destruct in front of a national, no, international audience.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Fools' Gold


Yes, the State Legislature is in session. Every winter, the crazies gather in the state capitol building and allow their brains to putrefy on the poisonous air of the inversion or maybe they just came that way.

I really try to stay out of the turmoil of states' rights declarations against the Union, hiding liquor behind the curtain, polygamy vs. orgies, and lobbying/legislating for their own business interests. And then I see Ken Ivory's mug in the news again.

State Rep. Ken Ivory wants the state to invest in gold to prepare for world economic collapse. What in Holy Heck's name does he think the value of gold will be in a complete financial collapse? What exactly will it buy if civilization is over? Something tells me he must have a few bars socked away in the closet that he wants to unload now that his public-lands grab got in trouble in some other western states where they don't take so kindly to filthy lucre/lecturing/lobbying/legislating.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Marching Home

We arrived early enough that the crowd wasn't that big
Political rallies, conventions, caucuses, candidates of various parties have all been witnessed first-hand. But this was my first ever political march. I mean, we weren't in formation or lock-step in any way. It's just that I have never been a part of a protest. And I wasn't alone.

It helped that my daughter went with me. I had posted on Facebook that I was going to march for refugees and had friends say that they might make it or were with me in spirit as they were occupied elsewhere. My daughter didn't surprise as she had been with me and a friend to caucus for Bernie. And the cause is just.

Remember the Mormon Pioneers as refugees from New York, Ohio, Missouri, Illinois, and, of course, the despair of the coal mines and iron works of South Wales. Remember the promise of the Statue of Liberty which was my theme noting several others with the same in the massive crowd of yesterday. Remember the Pilgrims and the Founders of religious liberty in this promised land and the promises of the First Amendment.