Pancho Villa and the Ides of March
March 15, 2010

Doroteo Arango Said, "Et tu, Uncle Sam" On the Ides of March

Caesar's Last Moments with Marlon Brando Looking on March 15, 44 BC

On This Date in History:   It’s March 15.  If it weren’t for William Shakespeare, most people would probably have never heard of the Ides of March.  Of course, the Ides of March is when Julius Caesar was stabbed to death my several members of the Roman Senate.  Even now, most people probably don’t even know that there are ides of other months.  Believe it or not, there have been other significant events of the day.

Doroteo Arango

In 1878, Doroteo Arango was born in Mexico.  Through his early years, he witnessed the ascent of the wealthy in Mexico and the difficulties of the poor.  Conditions have improved since Arango’s early days but, even today, the Mexico class structure is one in which nearly 25% of the population is in poverty with a 2008 per capita income of less than $10,000. (World Bank Data)  However, the unemployment rate in 2008 was just 3 percent.  To make things worse for the Arangos,   the patriarch of the family died when Doroteo was 15 and he became a sharecropper to support his mother and siblings.   In 1894, the 16-year-old Doroteo returned from a day in the fields to find the owner of the hacienda attempting to sexually assault his 12-year-old sister.  So, the teenager grabbed a pistol and shot the wealthy owner.  That sent the teenager on a life of eluding the law.

Villa Spent Much of His Life on A Horse On the Run

He went to the mountains and after a couple of years of difficult survival, he joined up with a group of bandits and he quickly became thier leader.  They stole cattle, robbed various forms of transit carrying money and generally committed crimes against the wealthy.   By giving some of the spoils of their trade to the poor, Arango and his compadres saw themselves as modern day Robin Hoods as did many in the general population.  Authorities, however, viewed them as nothing but hoods and stepped up the attempts to apprehend Arango and the banditos. 

Heroic Image of Pancho Villa

As his imfamy rose, it seemed like a good time to create an alias.  Now, some say that Arango took the name of a fellow bandit he had met along his journey.  Others say that the name Francisco Villa was a derivative of his grandfather’s last name.  But, either way, Doroteo Arango became Francisco Villa.  Since, “Pancho” is a popular nickname for “Francisco,” Franciso Villa quickly became Pancho Villa.  Now, while the authorities were not too enthused at Villa’s propensity for avoiding capture and escaping seemingly impossible odds, one group took an interest.  That would be a political group of revolutionaries who thought that Villa had the skill set to lead guerilla operations.  Porfirio Diaz was the President of Mexico and many of the poor blamed their plight on him.  His political opponent, Francisco Madero, came to the forefront on a promise of change.  He called for big changes to help the poor and, presumably, adversely affect the rich.  That seemed like a good idea to Villa so he agreed to be a leader of Madero’s revolutionary army.

End For Villa Not Pretty or Heroic

He did pretty well for a couple of years but abrutly resigned his position in 1911 following a dispute with another revolutionary commander, Pascual Orozco, Jr.  Madero became Mexican president and, not long after he resigned his position, Villa got married and tried  to settle down to a life of normalcy.  But, that was not to be.  Seems that Orozco was not included in the new president’s governmental plans so, he started his own revolution in 1912.  Villa agreed to join forces with a general in support of Madero but the general accused Villa of stealing his horse and ordered him executed.  While, Villa escaped the gallows with a reprieve, he was left in prison for 6 months until at the end of 1912 when he did what he was good at doing: he escaped.

Villa and Pershing in 1914...Before They Became Enemies

Now, this general, General Victoriano Huerta, switched allegiances and turned against Madero.  On George Washington’s birthday in 1913, Huerta killed Madero and named himself as president.  As part of the pattern, Villa joined up with another person opposed with the president.  This time it was Venustiano Carranza and Villa had a string of victories across much of North Mexico where he redistributed land and tried to stablize the economy.  I dunno…maybe Carranza got jealous or maybe he was afraid of the power his partner was gaining…but for some reason, Villa and Carranza went from friends to enemies and a Civil War between the two factions continued for a couple of years.  Enter Uncle Sam, who decided it was time to support Carranza after initially backing Villa.  Villa responded on March 9, 1916 by crossing the border and attacking Columbus, New Mexico.  Now, that old arbitor of peace and law, President Woodrow Wilson, was not about to let the first attack on American soil since the War of 1812 go unanswered on his watch.  So, on this date in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson ordered the invasion of Mexico by 12,000 US troops led by General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing in an attempt to kill or capture Villa.

Recruiting Poster to Join US Army to Capture Villa

   As part of the American Expedition was a young George S. Patton, Jr.  After a year, the United States Army failed to capture Villa and Carranza was assassinated.  Interim Mexican President Adolfo de la Huerta negotiated a peace that involved Villa retiring to a nice hacienda in Chihuahua.  Villa enjoyed himself until in 1923, he was gunned down while sitting in his car.  They made a movie about the Death of Pancho Villa in 1974

So, you see, in the early 20th century, the United States invaded a sovereign nation to kill or apprehend an individual who had orchestrated and participated in an attack on US soil.  While history really doesn’t repeat itself, the early 20th century and the early 21st century do have some interesting parallels.

NAM calls for clearing at 700 mb by 2pm Monday

Weather Bottom Line:  Everything is pretty much running down the line.  The weekend was as gloomy as I said it was and the temperatures in the 40’s felt a little chillier now than it would have a couple of weeks ago because last week we had highs in the low 70’s.  Now, the low behaved as expected and therefore there is no reason to think that it won’t move off to the northeast with clouds over our area on Monday before things improve.  In general, we should begin to warm up slowly as the week progresses but, there is one fly in the ointment.  Midweek, both the GFS and NAM call for an upper low to drop down, cut off from the main flow, over the Ohio Valley.  Its my guess that we may be a little cooler on St. Patrick’s Day than some forecasts suggest.  Otherwise, we move toward the 60 degree mark by the end of the week.  There is some indication of a trof late next weekend that may keep us in the 30’s on Sunday and some models are trying to throw out snow…though at this point, ground temperatures won’t support much accumulation and I’m not so sure we will get cold enough for it anyway.  But, it’s something to file away.

Right to Smoke Non-Tobacco, Rights to Monopoly, Wrong to Kidnap Kaiser
January 5, 2010

Freedom of Expression!

Courts Haven't Ruled in Favor of This Kind of Free Speech

This one may be headed to the legal history bin:  Many municipalities have enacted anti-smoking laws.  I do not understand how constitutional position of such laws in relation to private business,  but I suppose that has probably been adjudicated.  But, the laws typically specifically address the smoking of tobacco products.  They often say nothing about non-tobacco products.  My history professor, Dr. Thomas Mackey, always reminded me of the importance of words and to write what you mean and mean what you write.  Legal professionals are supposed to write with such specificity but sometimes they fall short.  In Denver, apparently the law bans smoking of tobacco products so The Denver Curious Theater says it will go to the Supreme Court of the United States to argue their right to smoke non-tobacco products during theater productions.  Gee…I wonder what non-tobacco product they are considering?  They’ve been arguing for three years before state courts that the non-tobacco smoking is a form of free speech and should be protected as a right of free expression.  The Colorado Supreme Court didn’t buy it, serving up a smoking 6-1 ruling against the plaintiffs.  It will be interesting to see if the SCOTUS decides to hear the case.  I’d love to hear what Justice Scalia has to say.  Actually, if you look at some of Scalia’s less celebrated opinions, it’s possible that he may surprise some folks if he gets the chance.

Monopoly "Inventer" Cashed In, But Was it Legit?

Monopoly "Inventer" Cashed In, But Was it Legit?

I Doubt That Darrow Could Beat Tom Cruce

I Doubt That Darrow Could Beat Tom Cruce

On This Date in History:

When I was a kid…I’m talking kidnergarten through second grade…we played Monopoly all the time. We’d have games that lasted for days. Tom Cruce was always hiding money under the board and so we never knew how much he had. I think sometimes we made up our own rules. The game would often be transferred from one house to another, depending on the mood of the mother of whatever house we began the game. If the atmosphere became too tense, we simply moved to someone elses house.

1935 Version

1935 Version

That is my history of Monopoly and its probably a little more clear than the history of the game itself. Parker Brothers made a lot of money selling the game after it bought the rights in 1935. It had always been believed that Charles B. Darrow sketched the original version on a piece of oil cloth. Darrow, an out of work salesman, did not have the means to distribute the game so he offered it to Parker Brothers. But the game company thought it was too complicated and took a pass. So, Darrow joined forces with a friend and sold several sets in and around Philadelphia. Parker Brothers took another look at it and bought the rights. But, the story may be a bit more complicated than that.

Magie's 1904 Patent

Magie's 1904 Patent

In 1971(1973 or 1974 in some sources), someone came out with Anti-Monopoly. Naturally, Parker Brothers wasn’t too enthused and off to court they went. In the testimony, witnesses claimed that the game had been patented on this date in 1904 by Elizabeth J. Magie. Ms. Magie followed the theories of economist (now thought of as a socialist) Henry George and came up with the game to show the evils of real estate monopolies. Her early version was known as the Landlord Game and spaces sported names like Lord Blueblood’s Estate where trespassers were sent to jail. There was also Poverty Place. By the 1920’s, the game was being played in eastern universities by students who held left-wing ideals. At the Quaker Haverford College in Philadelphia, the student yearbook in 1924 made reference to the game and called in Monopoly.

Five years later, the students at Atlantic City Friends School were introduced to the game by a Quaker teacher. The spaces were given names found in Atlantic City with property values assigned and spaces painted in the colors that are familiar today. The story goes that a visitor to the school

1935 Marvin Gardens Card Misspelled

1935 Marvin Gardens Card Misspelled

took the game back to Philadelphia and showed it to a Quaker hotel manager named Charles Todd. Todd, in turn, showed it to Darrow. Todd said that Darrow was slow to catch on to how the game was played. Todd claimed that Darrow asked him to write up the rules and make a copy of the game board for him. Todd then asserted that “he(Darrow) stole the game and took it from there.” As proof, Todd said that when he made a copy for Darrow, he misspelled Marven Gardens. Instead of an “e” he used an “i” and that is why Marvin Gardens is not spelled properly on the board game.

So, Charles Darrow may indeed have been a fraud…but he did gain a monopoly…at least for awhile after he received U.S. Patent 2,026,082 for the game in 1935. Darrow became the first millionaire game designer in history and three years after he died in 1967, Atlantic City put up a commemorative plaque on the boardwalk near Park Place to honor the man who may not have invented Monopoly, but certainly profited from it. It looks like to me that the Quakers must have felt like that they got stuck with Baltic and Medeterranean while Darrow had Boardwalk and Park Place.


Kaiser Wilhelm II

Hand Over the Kaiser!  Well…Never Mind: 

After World War I, Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II found haven at a friend’s castle in Holland.  American Colonel Luke Lea was outraged, thinking that the former head of Germany should be tried as a war criminal.  Tennesseans from the days of Davy Crockett and his Tennessee Volunteers at the Alamo have been known for their toughness and hard headedness and Lea and his pals decided to hold up that tradition.  Lea got 7 other guys from his home state and plotted to capture the Kaiser and present him to President Wilson  as “a New Year’s Eve gift” at the Paris Peace conference.  So, the 8 Tennesseans acquired some passes, stole a couple of cars and, on this date in 1919, went to the Dutch town of Amerongen.  When they got to the castle, they BS’d their way past some guards and demanded to see the Kaiser.  Count von Bentinck asked what they wanted and they said they’d only tell the Kaiser.  The Kaiser refused to see them.  They argued a bit and then just decided to say “never mind” and left politely.  By that time, a crowd of soldiers had gathered but the octet managed to get in their stolen cars and made a clean getaway.  Or so they thought.  They were eventually apprehended and squeaked past a court martial, though I don’t think that was ever too much a concern.  See, the American commander, General John J. Pershing later said that he’d have given a year’s pay to have gone with Lea and his private expeditionary force.  It’s good to have the king on your side. 

CONUS Snow Depth NAM 7 AM Friday

Weather Bottom Line:  As of January 4, 2o10 58.1% of the United States was covered with an average of 5.9 inches of snow.  In a few days, that coverage will expand as a pretty quick moving shortwave dives down from the northern Rockies, across the plains, through the Ohio Valley and into the Carolinas.  Behind it will be another shot of arctic air that promises to keep Kentuckiana in a deep freeze.  As it passes on Thursday, it still appears to be the best shot this season for some decent snowfall.  Some models have over 4 inches of snow but I kinda like the 2-3 inch range a little better. The NAM has come in line with this thinking as it calls for a 2.5 inch snow depth over our region by Friday morning.  It’s possible for more than that, depending on the humidity of the air.  Lower dewpoints may result in a great snow to liquid ratio and so a fluffy snow may be closer to 4 inches.  Either way, I wouldn’t be surprised to see schools closed on Friday given its the first snow, its  the first week of school for the new year and it’s a  Friday and everyone wants a long weekend.  With snow on the ground, easily single digits and maybe low single digits could be in the cards Saturday morning.  You probably heard that here first but others will come around.