History

The Indians of South Dakota and the Gold Rush (RW71)

There is a British company that manufactures acurate reproductions of uniforms from the Zulu wars, the French-and-Indian war, the Boer wars, Napoleonic costumes and all these great uniforms from those wonderful times. One of the items they had for sale was a reproduction of Al Swearengen's iconic western vest that he wears in the TV-show Deadwood. John didn't realize that that was a thing he wanted, but now he has seen it for sale. It is a great character and a great iconic vest. The show is about going to a place that is brand new, staking your claim, trying to get gold on it, or opening up a shop and living there. It played in South Dakota at a time when there was apparrently no law there. The government had struck a deal with the Indians that the Black Hills were going to be Indian territory in perpetuity. They promised that although they had broken treaties and stolen land from the Indians multiple times before, they were done with that!

Then some guys who weren't part of the government, but just some guys on their mules with pickaxes went into South Dakota anyway, found gold in the Black Hills, pulled some other guys back in Kansas City and all of a sudden the territory was full of miners and trappers and people trying to rush, ignoring the US government who told them they are in violation of the rules and should not be there. Over time it became clear that the gold rush was on and the US needed to enforce some law, because little by little every treaty there was got violated. It was a problem of enforcement, because although we had agreed that this was Indian land, nobody had figured out a way to keep whites out. A similar situation happened in Oklahoma during the late period of the Wild West: Somebody found oil and what formerly was agreed upon as a giant Indian territory that was going to be left alone was just besieged by white locusts. They claimed that whatever agreement we had before doesn't matter anymore because now there was oil.

Another example was the Klondike Gold Rush in Dawson City. The Canadian government was very meticulous about maintaining law. The American prospectors arrived the fastest way into the Yukon by taking a ship to Skagway, Alaska, and then go to the Yukon territories over the mountains with the Canadian border on top. There were mounties waiting for them with a scale and they would weigh and go through all their stuff. If they didn't bring enough food and enough supplies into Canada to ensure their survival for at least a year, they would send them back. Even today you can see wreckage along the Chilkoot trail like horse skeletons, boots and things that people had discarded as they were trying to climb over this mountain range called the golden stairs during the winter. By then, all of the gold claims were already grabbed and every one of these guys who showed up in Dawson City laden with a year's worth of supplies didn't find anything else than bars and Can-can girls. John's great grandfather went up on that gold rush when he was a young man and came back down with nothing, just like everybody did. Maybe he got a little poker gold, a poke.

Zar Nicholas II, King George V and Kaiser Wilhelm II (RL254)

Zar Nicholas II, King George V and Kaiser Wilhelm II were first cousins to each other and they were grandsons of Queen Victoria. The British royal family is a German house. Kaiser Wilhelm was the cousin in the family that nobody liked, because he was a jerk. There was a complication while he was born and one of the results was a deformed arm. Like Gary Burghoff, he had one hand he didn't like to show. In the 10 years they watched Mash every day they never noticed that Gary had one hand that was much smaller than the other. He is also a great drummer! At some point in the early-mid Twitter period, Gary Burghoff appeared on Twitter (although his feed is now cleaned out) and he was one of those people who went from 15 followers to 15.000 followers in two days, because he was doing a James Woods, was going crazy and taking a dump on Alan Alda every day. It was the time when Andy Richter was right in there. Everybody was enjoying Gary Burghoff imploding online, a bit like Charlie Sheen and it caused John to read some oral history of Mash. John's favorite quote was "Gary Burghoff was by far the best actor on Mash, he was doing a genius performance, because he was creating a character that was beloved by everyone in the country when he himself was the most awful man alive". The Kaiser had a chip on his shoulder because of his damaged arm, but the other two looked so much alike, were very chummy and vacationed together while the Kaiser felt left out. All three of them still stayed very pal-y, because they loved their grandmother Queen Victoria. Not long after she died, the cousins almost immediately squared off and started a world war over some stupid shit where millions died.

Newfoundland (RW16)

Newfoundland in Canada is the butt of jokes and people are known as Newfies. In WWI the volunteers from Newfoundland fought very heroicly in the trenches in Belgium. They played an enormous role in Canada's participation in WWI, so whenever John hears someone disparage the mighty people from Newfoundland, he feels he has to straighten them out.

The Basques in World War II (RL177)

John has a new friend of basque extraction. He had previously visited the Basque area and he loves it there, but then he was thinking about what the Basques did in WWII. John has quite a good sense of what everybody did in WWII and John usually greets people from European countries according to his preconceived notion of what their grandfathers did in WWII. Basques consider themselves as a single tribe although they are divided into France and Spain. Their language has no analog in any other language in the world, it is not an Indo-European language, but a cookie-wuaua-language that someone one day invented who lived up in the crazy hills in Northern Spain and it does not behave like other languages. The Basque territory is very mountainous and is impossible to invade, which is why nobody invaded them. They eat a lot of greasy fish and it is delicious, like herrings.

But then John discovered that he did not know what the Basques did in WWII and so he started rabbit-holing about it: First there was the Spanish civil war in the 30:s and the Basques were ostensibly neutral in WWII, so a lot of allied pilots who were shot down over France would be handed over to the Basques, from where they would get smuggled into Spain and the neutrality of Spain would allow those pilots to find their way back home, although the Spanish were pretty allied with the Nazis.

The hairstyle of the Royal Air Force (RW77)

The Royal Air Force managed to maintain a kind of rakishness through time. All the combat pilots in WWI were very rakish, because their job was exotic, exciting, and posh. They all had little mustaches because they were in their early 20:s and couldn't grow big fat mustaches. In WWII the Brits maintained a rakish, mustachy, silk scarf style of combat pilot while the USA pilots got more Pappy Boyington style, the more corn-fed, Iowa good old boy type of style. After Korea, a mustache was not really being in uniform and the USAF institutionalized the clean-cut Iowa kid. If you want to wear a little mustache today, you only have British pilots from 80 years ago to model yourself on. For somebody like Dan and John who can grow a full mustache, RAF:ing it involves trimming it so that it kind of looks almost like Dan's first mustache. You cut the tops down, not all the way to an Errol Flynn, but you make it a little smaller to approximate sort of a close cut style.

Random notes on war

At one point in the past John was discovering that it is possible to buy into original watercolor paintings by A.Htlr. that were available at a reasonable price. Although they would have been a conversation piece, the whole thing quickly went weird as soon as he was thinking more about the practical aspects, like hanging them in his house. There needs to be some other weird collection in order for such a painting to work. (RL???)

In RW62 there was a short discussion about the difference in recent wars. Dan said he does not want to watch war movies, because they are too emotionally investing, especially those about WWII. The reason there are not many WWI movies is because it was more or less a draw. The only thing interesting were the treaties signed afterwards, but that is only interesting to a small group of people. (RW62)

In Vietnam-movies there are a lot of cliches and you don't get to know the Vietnamese people on a personal level. In a WWII movie, it was the last time where the US fielded an army that was a cross-section of the country. It feels that it was happening to your neighbors. It was a segregated army, the conflicts inside the army were not racial, other than in the Vietnam war. (RW62)

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