Worst Outlaw in the West and A Big Ozone Hole

ECMWF Tues AM 540 Line (theorhetical freeze line) near Charlotte

ECMWF Tues AM 540 Line (theorhetical freeze line) near Charlotte

Look for perhaps a few peeks of sunshine late Thursday with moderating temperatures, but it won’t last. Front comes through on Friday and the mercury tumbles over the weekend. Low 40’s for highs on Saturday with perhaps a worthless flurry or wet snowflake. Later in the season this wouldn’t cause a ruckus but since its the first flake or two, watch the folks on the tube go crazy…Steve Burgin will be giddy. Mid 40’s on Sunday with again a few peeks of sun. Low 50’s on Monday but a cold front comes in and we may not get out of the 30’s on Tuesday. Remember, NOAA says this will be a warmer than normal winter. Winter doesn’t start until December 21.

Ozone Hole over Antarctica

Ozone Hole over Antarctica

This has nothing to do with Global Warming: Members of the 4th Estate, the Press, often get confused. In environmental issues, it is not uncommon to find the purveyors of the pen to link Global Warming and the Ozone hole. I’ve been on numerous speaking engagements and the public is often led to believe they are somehow intertwined. They are not. But, we haven’t heard much about the Ozone hole for years. Why is this? Why the Congress and legal bodies all over the world claimed the problem was solved when they banned the use of fluorocarbons. What people don’t realize is that it takes about 15-20 years for fluorocarbons to reach the top of the atmosphere where the ozone layer resides. While you may have thought we were safe, the hole has still been there all this time…the press just chose not to report it. Consequently, we have yet to find out if, indeed, man was the cause of ozone depletion. From this report, it would seem that we need to wait a little longer. The ozone hole over Antarctica was the 5th largest on record this past year. Here’s the story, that 20 years ago would have been headline news, but today is only found in odd places, like this blog.

Ozone Hole is still there

Al Jennings-Worst Outlaw in the West

Al Jennings-Worst Outlaw in the West

Crime Pays Or the Worst Outlaw in the West? Al Jennings was born in 1863 Virginia. His father was aTemple Houston-the one in the middle judge and Al began practicing law in the Oklahoma Territory in 1889. Al’s law-partner, brother Ed Jennings, was shot to death in October 1895 by another lawyer named Temple Houston. When Houston was acquitted, Al and another brother Frank vowed vengeance. They took off after Houston but never caught up to him. So, what does any good lawyer who fails at a vengeance killing do? Join a gang. He and Frank robbed a Santa Fe train with their new found friends in 1897. Well, they tried to rob a train. This may be where the scene in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid comes from because these guys tried to get the guy in charge of the mail car to open it up but he refused, just like Woodcock did with Butch. But, instead of blowing up the rail car, these desperados got chased away by the conductor.

They tried again. This time they piled up railroad ties across the tracks. instead of stopping, the engineer opened up the locomotive at full throttle and simply plowed through the obstruction. They then tried to rob an express office but a simple phone call from the office brought the town sheriff and a bunch of armed men. The would be robbers fled with nothing. Then they tried a bank but someone must have blabbed because when they arrived, the bank was surrounded by numerous armed men. The bumbling robbers left empty handed. So, they gang decided to return to what they knew best…train robbing!

In another probable Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid inspiration, they tried a 3rd time when they flagged down a Rock Island passenger train and tried to blow up the two safes on board in a box car. The safes did not open but they did manage to blow up the box car. They did get $300 from the passengers though. But, they got no more chances. They were caught and sentenced to 5 years in prison…except for Al, who got a life sentence for robbery with intent to kill.

Jennings Mugshot 1902

Jennings Mugshot 1902

Al goes to prison and who does he share a cell with but a guy named William Sidney Porter. After spending time listening to the tales of Jennings, Porter was released and took up the profession of a scribe, taking the pen name, O. Henry. O. Henry is considered one of the finest American short story writers of his time. Through his short stories, Henry managed to rehabilitate the image of Jennings and, On This Date in 1902, Al Jennings was released from prison after his sentence was commuted to 5 years by none other than President William McKinley. Jennings returned to Oklahoma to practice law. So, what does a lawyer who was a terrible train robber do? Why run for office. Not just any office…why not county attorney! In 1912, he ran on the promise that “when was a train robber, I was a good train robber. And if you choose me, I will be a good prosecuting attorney.” Obviously, Al had developed a politicians ability to stretch the truth and it helped because he won the nomination but lost the election. He ran for Governor in 1914 but opposition by newspapers left his campaign in third place when the votes were counted. So, where does a failed train robber and failed politician go? Why to Hollywood!

Jennings with Fatty Arbuckle's Cousin Andrew In Hollywood

Jennings with Fatty Arbuckle's Cousin Andrew

O. Henry had encouraged him to write so he went out west and ghost wrote several movies, several of which were supposedly based on his life. The westerns portrayed him as being more treacherous than Billy the Kid, robbed more men than Jesse James and was a participant in nearly 25 face to face shootouts. I would say that there wasn’t much mystery in who the ghost was behind those scripts. Al continued this sort of thing the rest of his life as he was behind many of the B-movie westerns through the 1950’s with the lame scripts that were as phony as the image Jennings created for himself. To perhaps illustrate the level of Al’s position in Hollywood, the photo to the left is not of Al with star Fatty Arbuckle, but instead Fatty’s cousin, Andrew. Nevertheless, it was an interesting and certainly long life for Al, who did not pass away, for real, until 1961. He lived through Reconstruction, the Indian Wars, the closing of the frontier, two world wars and the dawn of the space age. So much to write about yet he chose to write about…himself…and most of that was not true, except his name, Al Jennings. Here is a biography, which is really funny.


9 Responses

  1. Well, he may have been a failure as an outlaw but he had one thing that helped him to overcome his lack of skill as a train robber: good marketing! I’ll have to say one thing for Mr. Jennings, he certainly didn’t let a little failure mess his life up. Oh, well. At least he didn’t kill anyone…at least in REAL life.

  2. I hope more people look at this one. I think it’s pretty funny and a true movie about this guy’s life would be great. How about that Ozone hole?

  3. I kind of look at the ozone hole with a bit of skepticism, too (do you see a pattern here?). We have a pretty large amount of historic temperature and other weather data that would allow one to study real changes with time. However, I don’t think that we’ve been monitoring the hole in the ozone layer for long enough to talk about trends with any real gravity. Ozone is not a very stable molecule so a lot of things can catalyst its demize other than fluorocarbons. I would think that just about any other lighter-than-air hydrocarbon molecule would be oxidized by ozone so things like methane could also deplete the ozone layer. The holes may be a very normal thing but we haven’t been studying it long enough to really know. I would think that other factors such as volcanic activity might be causing the fluctuations in the ozone hole. So, we may have spent a bunch of time and energy converting all of our refrigeration to more expensive, often less efficient refrigerants for nothing!

  4. I had this discussion with my dad is say…1980. He was of the mind that we needed to wait for some substantial proof before we run around altering economies. My response then, as I think it is now, is that the trouble with the ozone layer is that I’m not sure that one can wait for proof..because the proof would be that every living thing on the earth gets fried. Global Warming, however, seems to me that it would be an inconvenience to humans, altering who can grow what where and also the destruction of some species, but it would not end life on the planet. Also, the earth seems to be living thing that adapts to change…but I don’t think it can adapt to solar radiation. So, my environmental policy would be probably to be very aggressive at cleaning up the water, very aggressive at controlling oceanic fishing, pretty aggressive with the study of the ozone and somewhat aggressive and responsible with looking at global warming, finding out if we are indeed the cause and if we can or should do anything about it if we are.

    Snow White and I went to a book presentation with the author of a new book on Daniel Boone. Twas interesting…but not as interesting as Al Jennings.

  5. I did a little searching and found a pretty balanced article on fluorocarbons:


    It took some searching since most articles state matter-of-factly that Roland and Molina’s theory of ozone depletion was proven when a giant hole in the ozone layer was found over Antartica in 1985. Well, the hole really doesn’t prove their theory is correct since we have no idea how long the hole has been there–or even if it hasn’t always been there. That would be like Eric’s Theory that excessive time spent in weather prediction activities causes thinning hair accompanied by dashing good looks…then finding Bob Symon! Anyway, look at the article and see if it doesn’t start sounding a lot like when the ‘ol global warming ball got rolling. The problem with all this gloom and doom of man-made catastrophy is that it becomes big business. It helps environmental groups get donations, researchers get grants, experts sell book, media get viewers / readers and politicians get elected. That’s all well and good if the cause is real but it seems like when the ball gets rolling then science goes out the window because no one wants to stop the gravy train with contradictory data.

    It’s kind of tough to tell the difference though. But when you start getting politicians like Al Gore using an enviromental cause to re-ignite his career with a bunch of “foo-foo”, scare-everyone-to-death science I get suspicious.

    Water quality is important. Air quality also. Radon? I’m suspicious. I’m not a nay-sayer with all environmental causes. I do recycle!

  6. Water quality is more than important. Our bodies are made up of 68% water. Yet, we are poisoning our rivers, oceans, bays and lakes to the point that no life can live there. Look at the Ohio River. We know that it is polluted, we know where the pollution comes from yet no one does anything about it.

    While what you say holds much truth, one must consider what I said about the ozone hole…if the bad stuff is true, then we are all dead. And if you wait until absolute proof, then it’s too late.

    If only Al Jennings had been elected Governor of Oklahoma…all of our problems would have been solved.

  7. […] Ozone Report  If you recall, a few days ago I brought to you a report that said that the ozone hole was the 5th largest ever recorded.  I suppose others had a similar […]

  8. We need a Coen Bros movie about him./….

  9. I’m such an old guy I don’t know who that is…but a movie about him would be pretty good.

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