Monday, November 20, 2017

County Fair

It's riffmaster Joe Walsh's 70th birthday today!  We've written before of his approach to metaphysics which is reprised here:
You know, there’s a philosopher who says, “As you live your life, it appears to be anarchy and chaos, and random events, non-related events, smashing into each other and causing this situation or that situation, and then, this happens, and it’s overwhelming, and it just looks like what in the world is going on. And later, when you look back at it, it looks like a finely crafted novel. But at the time, it don’t.”
Building upon that insight we present County Fair, a further Walshian inquiry into the fate of humanity and the meaning of life.  Plus it's got some nifty riffs. 
Found an old puzzle that somebody quit
Try to fit pieces and hope that they fit
But they're going together so slowly
It may take me forever to know
And it's only a puzzle 

Parts of the puzzle will never be found
And even though pieces are gone
It's a county fair picture
Part of me's there
Some of the pieces are still at the fair
And it may be forever

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Talk Of The Town

One of the finest songs from the Pretenders, featuring the incomparable vocals of Chrissie Hynde.   This 1980 video is of the original band lineup.  In 1982 lead guitarist James Honeyman-Scott died from cocaine abuse. The same year bassist Pete Farndon was fired by the other band members for his out of control drug habits and he died shortly thereafter of an overdose.  Chrissie, along with drummer Martin Chambers, goes on.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Texas Invades New Mexico

Yes, it happened and eventually got to the point where an American president threatened to use U.S. troops against Texas.

It started with the Texas War of Independence in 1836, at the end of which the Republic of Texas became a nation and the Mexican army withdrew (for more on the war, read Remember (My Visit To) The Alamo! series, and Sam Houston: The Raven).  The treaty signed by Santa Anna left the boundaries of Texas ill-defined and the refusal of Mexico, after Santa Anna's removal from office, to recognize Texas as an independent nation created an unstable situation where Texas was both expansionist and constantly worried about the prospects of another Mexican invasion.

Most Texians asserted that their country's western boundary extended to the Rio Grande and encompassed all of present day New Mexico and Colorado east of that river.

(From wikipedia)

Initially the situation was contained by the Republic's first President, Sam Houston, who did not press boundary issues and followed a policy of reconciliation with Mexico as well as with the powerful Indian tribes in the area.  Limited to one term by the Republic's constitution, Houston was succeeded in December 1838 by Mirabeau Lamar who was elected to a three year term.  Lamar's policy was of aggressive expansion, hostility to Mexico (going as far as sending support to an independence movement in the Yucatan), and undertaking of punitive expeditions against the tribes.

In 1840, Lamar appointed three Texians living in Santa Fe as commissioners and sent them a letter they could use to invite the people of Neuvo Mexico, then part of Mexico, to join the Republic of Texas.  The overture was not successful and the following year, Lamar decided to send an expedition to Santa Fe, despite the opposition of the Texas Congress.  The expedition was to be initially presented to New Mexico authorities as for the purpose of commerce but its real purpose was to seize control of the lucrative trade of the Santa Fe Trail and to annex New Mexico.  Lamar's deception was fairly obvious as the "trading" expedition was accompanied by five companies of infantry and one of artillery under the command of General Hugh McLeod, a West Point graduate.

(Mirabeau Lamar, from wikipedia)

Three hundred and twenty one men set out from Austin in June 1841.  They had little knowledge of the route to Santa Fe, at one point mistaking the Wichita River for the Red River and following it in the wrong direction for twelve days.  Food supplies ran low and they lacked sufficient water.  One attack by Kiowas killed five soldiers, while another attack resulted in the expedition losing all its cattle and a large number of horses.  These troubles were exacerbated by the desertion of their two Mexican guides who made way to Taos where they warned Governor Manual Armijo of the approaching Texians.

Armijo quickly mobilized more than 1,000 soldiers and advanced east, surrounding the main body of hungry, weary and thirsty Texians near Tucumcari.  McLeod and his men surrendered on October 5, without firing a shot.  Over the next ten weeks the prisoners were marched to El Paso, then to Mexico City, and finally imprisoned in Veracruz.

Lamar's tenure, which ended in December 1841 was a disaster between the failure of his Mexico policy, the wars caused by his Indian policy and the decrepit finances of the Republic.  After annexation, Lamar served in the state legislature and was appointed by President Buchanan as minister to Nicaragua and later Costa Rica before dying in 1859.

The US minister to Mexico intervened on behalf of the prisoners and was able to obtain their release in April 1842.  After his release, Hugh McLeod served in the Texas legislature and married a cousin of Mirabeau Lamar.  A fierce opponent of Sam Houston (for a quarter century Texas politics was about whether you were for or against Houston) McLeod joined the Confederacy, serving as colonel in Hood's Texas Brigade before dying of pneumonia in Virginia in early 1862.

In the meantime tensions between Mexico and Texas exploded.  In March 1842, Mexican troops occupied Goliad, Victoria, and San Antonio causing panic across Texas.  Though the occupation forces soon retreated, San Antonio was reoccupied by the Mexicans for several days in September.   Sam Houston, reelected president in December 1841, order a punitive expedition towards the Rio Grande, apparently more to appease Texian public opinion than to engage in pitched battles.  After capturing Laredo the expedition's commander ordered a retreat but more than 300 Texians refused and, under the leadership of political opponents of Houston, decided to cross the Rio Grande.  They were defeated in a battle near the town of Meir with thirty killed and the rest captured.

While being marched to Mexico City, the Texians made a mass escape eluding capture for seven days.  An enraged Santa Anna (president, once again) ordered their execution.  The Governor of the state of Coahuila refused to obey the order which was finally modified to require the execution of every tenth man, to be determined by the drawing of lots.  On March 25, 1843 seventeen of the prisoners were shot.  Many of the survivors died in prison while others were released from time to time, with the last obtaining their freedom in September 1844.

Meanwhile, Texas made two additional attacks on Nuevo Mexico in 1843.  Charles Warfield, fur trapper and Texas army officer, led 24 men in a retaliatory campaign, attempting to seize Mora, New Mexico (northeast of Santa Fe).  Driven off, his band later murdered Mexican trader Antonio Jose Chavez, on the Santa Fe Trail.

This was followed in the same year by an expedition of 200 men led by James Snively, quartermaster of the Texas army, to attack Mexican merchants on the Santa Fe Trail and, if possible, seize the town.  In June, Snively's band defeated a unit of Mexican soldiers. However, their was broad dissatisfaction with Snively among his men and the command voted to divide itself.  Several days later Snively's command unexpectedly encountered a troop U.S. Army Dragoons under Capt Philip St George Cooke which had been sent to protect Mexican caravans on the trail after the killing of Chavez.  Cooke informed Snively he was on American territory  Though Snively protested he was on Texas territory, Cooke surrounded the Texan camp and disarmed the men, ending the expedition.

Phil Cooke was a noted Indian fighter, and served under George McClellan was a cavalry commander during the Peninsula Campaign in 1862.  He was removed and sent to non-combat posts, in part because of the army's humiliation when Cooke's son-in-law, Jeb Stuart led his cavalry command on a successful ride around the entire Union Army.   You can still buy Cooke's memoirs on Amazon:

Snively went on to join the California Gold Rush in 1849, moving on to the Arizona Territory in 1858 where he played a role in organizing Yuma County while continuing to prospect.  He eventually settled in the Phoenix area and was killed by Apaches while exploring near Wickenburg, Arizona in 1871.

In 1845, Texas agreed to be annexed by the United States but it was not the end of its aspirations to expand its border westwards.  The following year General Philip Kearny seized Nuevo Mexico which became part of the United States with the end of the Mexican War in 1848.  Texas continued to assert that its western boundary was on the Rio Grande, actually sending a commission to organize Santa Fe County under Texas Law, prompting local citizens to file a petition with the American government to allow New Mexico to be organized as a territory.

New Mexico now became part of the greater crisis over slavery that engulfed the Union.  With the legal status of slavery in both California and New Mexico in question and Texan claims regarding borders the situation once again became explosive.

In March 1849, President Zachary Taylor took office.  Taylor, hero of the Mexican War and Louisiana slave owner was expected to look favorably on the expansion of the peculiar institution but, to the South's surprise and outrage, Taylor proved a fierce opponent to slavery's expansion into the territories.  To end the dispute, President Taylor urged the citizens of California and New Mexico to draft constitutions, apply for statehood, and avoid becoming territories.

(President Taylor, from

Tempers grew hotter.  Texans who favored both territorial and slavery expansion began to agitate to secure their Rio Grand boundaries by force, with the Governor of Texas threatening to send troops to Santa Fe, as well as threatening secession.  In February 1850 Taylor met with Southern leaders and warned them that anyone "taken in rebellion against the Union, he would hang ... with less reluctance than he had hanged deserters and spies in Mexico."  He ordered reinforcement of U.S. Army garrisons in New Mexico and instructed that any attempt by Texas to assert its claims to New Mexico be met with force.

Taylor began writing a message to Congress about the crisis but never finished it.  After an Independence day ceremony and picnic at the White House, the president fell ill, dying five days later.  His successor Millard Fillmore, was a much less formidable character, and Congress reasserted itself eventually passing a series of measures that became known as the Compromise of 1850.  The first bill passed, on September 9, was the Texas and New Mexico Act which established the current boundaries of Texas, made New Mexico a territory and allowed it to choose whether to be slave or free when it became a state (which did not happen until 1912), and provided that the United States would pay off $10 million of the debts of the Republic of Texas (which had teetered on the edge of bankruptcy throughout its nine years of independence).

With that the dispute between New Mexico and Texas came to a close.
Though with those Texans you can never be sure.

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Veil Nebula

From Astronomy Picture of the Day.  The Nebula is the remnant of a supernova and about 1,500 light years from earth.

See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Red Hot Chili Peppers Carpool Karoake

The Red Hot Chili Peppers drive around with James Corden singing songs and having fun.  Along the way Anthony Kiedis and Corden wrestle on someone's lawn.  I like that they start on with my favorite Chili Pepper song, Don't Stop.  You can hear the full song here.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Last Of The Four Friends

He was the oldest living major league player, the only one left who'd played against Lou Gehrig.  Bobby Doerr died yesterday at age 99.

They came to the Red Sox within a few years of each other, Doerr in 1937, Ted Williams two years later, Dom DiMaggio in '40, with Johnny Pesky joining them in 1942.  They were all West Coast kids at a time when that was more unusual for baseball; Doerr from LA, Williams from San Diego, DiMaggio from the Bay Area and Pesky an Oregon native.  They became life long friends and they all lived long lives, Dom passing at 92, Pesky making it to 93, while Ted at 83 went first and youngest.

(Below, Williams, DiMaggio, Doerr, and Pesky)

The Hall of Fame second baseman for 13 seasons for the Red Sox retired at the age of 33 after injuring his back, returned to the West Coast, and became an Oregon farmer.

(Below, DiMaggio, Doerr, and Pesky throw out first ball, Game 2, 2004 World Series; Williams passed in 2002)
Image result for bobby doerr

Bobby Doerr lived long enough to be at Fenway Park for its 100th anniversary in 2012, a park that was only 25 years old when he made his debut.

(Below, Doerr and Pesky at 100th anniversary, behind them are Varitek, Big Papi, and Wakefield.)
Image result for bobby doerr