Hello, Dairy Cows

Hello, Dairy Cows


Photo: Malcolm Morley / Wikimedia Commons

We love our cows more than they love us. Some say a cow doesn’t even love another cow so much as she loves being in a herd. This bony, barrel-waisted, thousand-pound bovine just won a beauty contest, but her handler is the one who smiles — at the sight of a cow who is all that a dairy queen should be. A Jersey cow typically has a ring of white around her nose.

Click photos for larger view.





Photo: Jamain / Wikimedia Commons

Cows are good at making milk, and humans have been very clever about making things from milk — butter, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and the whipped cream supporting the cherry on top of the prettiest form of pretty please. Historically, cheese was important as a storable food. It could also be carried during travel. To make cheese, you need rennet — a curdling agent found in a cow’s stomach. To avoid killing a valuable cow, American pioneers took rennet from deer stomachs.




Photo: Scott Bauer / USDA

Cows don’t eat horses because their famously serial stomachs can convert grasses into complete nutrition. They particularly enjoy rye and oats (not so much wheat or corn).

Getting all your nutrition from plants is an awesome superpower, on par with the ability of plants to make their food from chlorophyll and sunshine. Alas, human digestive systems are unable to make nine of the 20 amino acids we need for protein. So we devour animals for THEIR protein. Or drink their milk. Lamentably, we are the Klingons.

The cows in this photo are Holsteins — your standard-issue, black-and-white American dairy cow. About 90 percent of US dairy cows are bred from Holsteins.



Photo: Storye_book / Wikimedia Commons

It’s better to be a cow than a steer, from a snipping point of view. Even so, dairying is a business that relies on four-tube milking machines, and that means a dairy cow must have four teats and no more. Any extras are sheared off when the calf is two to six weeks old. It’s unpleasant, but ethically justifiable. We humans do lots of mutilations on ourselves (circumcisions, piercings, scarring, foot binding, etc.) as well as animals, with a lot less reason. The US dairy industry has agreed to stop docking cows’ tails by 2020.





Photo: David Merrett / Wikimedia Commons

Big arteries and veins route a high volume of blood through the high-production udder of a modern dairy cow. Judges at the fair look for a smooth, snug transition between udder tissue and the belly (not “loose”). From the rear, they look for a high point of attachment and a strong medial suspensory ligament (MSL), which holds the udder up in the middle. A cow with cleavage has a pronounced MSL.






Photo: Mike Sporcic / USDA

Judges evaluate a cow’s head for breed characteristics. It’s a low priority, being far from the udder, but we humans can’t help responding to a face. A cow’s face should be feminine, clean cut, and “slightly dished,” with wide open nostrils. Parrot jaw is bad, and so is a “wry face.” Nobody wants mockery from a cow.






GEA 50-stall Magnum Rotary automatic milking system. Photo: Midwest Livestock Systems

This 50-stall rotary milking carousel is fully automated. As a cow steps in, the system washes and dries the udder and scans the teats for mastitis. The vacuum nozzles attach, drain the milk, and retract without any assistance from a human — which may be fine with Elsie, given the massive indifference of cows to us as persons. A gate opens in front to send her on her way. Next!

See Youtube for a 3 min. video from New Zealand that demonstrates a fully automatic milking system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PoWpxWBlMpg&noredirect=1

Most dairy operations are too small to afford full automation. A dairy with only hundreds of cows to milk would still rely on humans to clean and inspect the udder and attach the nozzles.  http://jasonsmalley.photoshelter.com/image/I0000Nf8OOZyklpY

Here’s a wider view of a whole carousel: https://www.morningagclips.com/virtual-farm-tours-part-of-world-dairy-expo/




Photo: Jamain / Wikimedia Commons. Dream photo: Paradise Ranch (Nevada) / Library of Congress

A heifer begins giving milk at age 2. In today’s high-production dairies, a robust cow might stay on the job to age 12, but most are culled by age 6 — because of mastitis, bad legs, or not enough milk. A dairy cow that retires at 12 has given her all and deserves retirement in a pasture, but MBA economics forbids it. Culled dairy cows, too tough to offer filets, are generally sold for ground beef.





Photo: State Library of Queensland via Wikimedia Commons

Within living memory, dairy farming was a means of survival rather than industrial profit and loss. In this 1935 photo from Queensland, Australia, Annie Mallinson has two children with her in the milking shed — Florence Jean milking the other cow, and Arthur hiding behind a post. Note the skinny pins on the cows and the skinny legs on the humans.

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Local History — Assorted Angelenos

Local History — Assorted Angelenos

Harry Chandler (left) makes nice with bitter rival William Randolph Hearst (1930). Photo: LA Public Library / Herald Examiner Collection

Harry Chandler (left) and William Randolph Hearst, 1930. Photo: LA Public Library / Herald Examiner Collection

Harry Chandler

He proved to be the greatest land-development visionary since Moses. Harry Chandler came to Los Angeles in 1882 to recover his health, which was shattered after a fall into an icy pond at Dartmouth. Back then, LA was a lawless backwater, murder capital of the United States. Chandler went to work as a paper boy for the Times and not long after married the publisher’s daughter. Through hard ward work and imagination, Chandler became the guiding genius in the development of the nation’s fastest-growing city, conjuring up such landmarks as the Rose Bowl, the Hollywood sign, CalTech, the Ambassador Hotel, Douglas Aircraft, Santa Anita, and the 1932 Olympics. He didn’t invite the Dodgers to Chavez Ravine (his son Norman did that). But he created the Salton Sea — by accident (an irrigation scheme on the Colorado River went awry in 1905).




Moses Hazeltine Sherman (left) and Sheriff Bill Hammel on Hollywood Blvd, 1900. Photo: Title Insurance and Trust / C.C. Pierce Photography Collection, USC Libraries

Moses Hazeltine Sherman (left) and Sheriff Bill Hammel on Hollywood Blvd, 1900. Photo: Title Insurance and Trust / C.C. Pierce Photography Collection, USC Libraries

Harry Chandler bought a lot of real estate — maybe a little less than Thomas Jefferson but in the same league. Famously, he made a water wonderland of the semidesert San Fernando Valley. First, he and a cohort of investment partners bought 44,000 acres in the Valley on the cheap. Then the Times persuaded voters there was a dire water shortage. Voters said yes to bond issues for a 250 mile aqueduct from the Sierra Nevada, engorging the aquifer under Chandler’s land.

Moses Hazeltine Sherman, who lent two of his names to Valley thoroughfares, was among Chandler’s favorite investment partners.



Job Harriman


Job Harriman. Photo: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-DIG-ggbain-06415

Running for mayor as a Socialist, Job Harriman won the primary in 1911 but lost the general election when the radical unionist McNamara brothers pleaded guilty to setting off a bomb in the Times building. Harriman was a local defense attorney for the McNamaras, alongside Clarence Darrow.

In 1914, Harriman left politics to establish the Llano del Rio collective farm. Located just north of the San Gabriel Mountains, near today’s Devil’s Punchbowl Park, the utopian community started with five families, each buying shares in the collective. The colonists built houses, two hotels for visitors and prospective colonists, a cannery, and various specialty shops. The crops included 250 acres of alfalfa, 200 acres of orchards, and 100 acres of garden vegetables.

Llano del Rio grew to 1,000 colonists, and then Big Rock Creek began to run dry. In 1917, the colonists packed up and moved to Louisiana — out of the frying pan of the Mojave desert, into the vegetable steamer. As soon as the colonists moved out, nearby ranchers vandalized Llano del Rio. All that remains are stone foundations.


Llano del Rio, Christmas, 1914. Photo: County of Los Angeles Public Library

The ruins of Llano del Rio, with chimneys 12 feet high, are sometimes called the Socialist Stonehenge.

The ruins of Llano del Rio, with chimneys 12 feet high, are sometimes called the Socialist Stonehenge.








Note: Click photos to see full size.


Arna Bontemps


Bontemps (left), singer Etta Moten Barnett, and Langston Hughes. Photo: Chicago Public Library, Etta Moten Barnett Papers

Arnaud Bontemps graduated from Pacific Union College in 1923 and got the hell out of LA, which by that time was advertising itself  as The White Spot of America. Joining in the Harlem Renaissance, Bontemps drew attention as a poet and novelist. He later became the movement’s chief preservationist. At Fisk University, he assembled important collections based on the work of Langston Hughes and other African-American writers.

Bontemps’ first novel, Chariot in the Cloud (1929), was set in South-Central Los Angeles in the 1910s, when the city’s black population was small and mostly middle class. His first novel never found a publisher. His second, God Sends Sunday (1931), was based on the life and travels of a favorite uncle, who was a famous jockey.  When his racing days were over, Little Augie rode the rails to LA and lived for a while in Mudtown, an area of “three or four dusty wagon paths” and shacks overgrown with morning-glory, gourd, and honeysuckle. Mudtown was a straggly rural patch beyond the more suburban neighborhood of Watts. As Bontemps explains, “Mudtown was exceptional. Here, removed from the influences of white folks, they did not acquire the inhibitions of their city brothers. Mudtown was like a tiny section of the deep south literally transplanted.”


Sister Aimee

Aimee Semple McPherson loved God and loved putting on a show. She made a career of doing both, but eventually — like many uniquely gifted believers before her (St. Francis, Shakespeare, and Quaker painter Edward Hicks, to name a few) — she ran into trouble.

Aimee Semple McPherson. Photo: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-52ROzybe_kU/TfTgioB5oJI/AAAAAAAACNY/i5buM7haLdc/s1600/txu-hrc-5039-1000.jpg

Aimee Semple McPherson. Photo: Source unknown

Sister Aimee preached in white and wore high heels. Observers said she had a way of whooshing sexual energy around a room while preaching a simple Four Square vision of the Bible. Raising her arms was a favorite gesture, making audiences aware of the contours of her body, even in prayerful supplication.

Sister Aimee developed “illustrated sermons” with elaborate props, sets, and special effects, drawing on talents in nearby Hollywood. Big crowds came to her Angelus Temple on Sunday afternoons to see lavish productions such as “Arrested for Speeding,” based on the time she got a traffic ticket.


Recovering in Douglas, Arizona. Photo: Wikimedia

Overwhelmed by work, Sister Aimee disappeared for 36 days in the spring of 1926. Her followers were sick with worry, and the whole country read about it in the papers, especially after she turned up in Douglas, Arizona, telling an off-kilter tale of escaping kidnappers in Mexico. Other reports suggested she had been in Carmel, shacked up with radio technician Kenneth Ormiston. As shown in the photo, District Attorney Asa Keyes (left) and deputy Joseph Ryan (far right) went to Douglas to investigate. Also in the photo are Sister Aimee’s business manager/mother Minnie Kennedy, daughter Roberta Star Semple, and son Rolf McPherson. For a sense of how the scandal of Sister Aimee’s disappearance affected each of them, zoom for a closer look at their eyes and mouths.


Clifford Clinton

Clifford Clinton. Photo: Weird California weirdca.com

Clifford Clinton. Photo: Weird California weirdca.com

Los Angeles is famous for its salvationist kooks, but Clifford Clinton was their polar opposite. He dedicated himself to making this world (and his city) a better place.

Clinton opened the Golden Rule cafeteria in 1931, well into the hard times of the Great Depression. The cafeteria operated as a for-profit business but had a policy of turning no one away if they couldn’t pay. For a nickel, you could buy a meal of soup, salad, bread, Jell-O (it’s protein), and coffee. Clinton had to open a penny cafeteria to keep up with demand — people lined up for blocks for vegetable broth.

Combining his first and last names, Clinton changed the name  of the Golden Rule to Clifton’s and opened a second store. He remodeled both in 1939, with the original location getting an elaborate South Seas makeover, complete with a 20 foot waterfall. The Clifton’s still open today, at Broadway and Seventh, features a redwoodsy theme.

As a food consultant to the War Department in the 1940s, Clinton took it on himself to ask a Caltech biochemist to develop a food with complete nutrition for five cents a serving. The result was the soy-based Multi-Purpose Food (MPF), which fed the starving after WWII and later filled shelves in backyard bomb shelters. In 1946, Clinton organized Meals for Millions, now part of the Freedom from Hunger organization.

Unlikely as it might seem, somebody bombed Clinton’s house in 1937. It was not long after a grand jury investigation, led by Clinton, found rampant corruption in the police department. Suspicion fell on Captain Earle Kynette, who stood trial the following year for another bombing.

Clifton's Cafeteria. Photo: Jovon Shuck via roadfood.com

Clifton’s Cafeteria. Photo: Jovon Shuck via roadfood.com


Sleepy Lagoon Murder Trial

Eight suspects brought in for questioning. Photo: Special Collections, UCLA Library

Eight suspects brought in for questioning. Photo: Special Collections, UCLA Library

In the Sleepy Lagoon murder case of August 1942, everyone behaved according to stereotype.

+ A gang from Downey beat up a 38th Street Gang leader and his date, which led to a counterattack later that night, which ended in a young man’s death from a stab wound.

+ The police rounded up all the brown-skinned suspects they could find, 600 in all, of whom an unlucky 22 were selected to stand trial. (The eight seen here remind me of kids I knew from high school, called into the office. Guilty or not, they’re in trouble, thinking of how they will face whatever comes next.)

Henry Leyvas. Photo: UCLA Library Special Collections

Henry Leyvas. Photo: UCLA Library Special Collections

+ Henry Leyvas was the star among the defendants — handsome, brash, and politically aware.

+ Do-gooders organized the Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee, posturing in defense of a martyr made to order for the cause.

+ The judge, unable to tell one Latino from another, played his part to perfection, refusing to let the defendants have haircuts or decent clothes for the trial.

+ Mothers, sisters, and girlfriends celebrated and then grieved the vain heroics of young men.

Some 40 years later, the Sleepy Lagoon case inspired the play and movie Zoot Suit, about the stereotype of the defiant young man — how it empowers but also imprisons him. “My worst enemy, my best friend… myself.”

Photo: LA Public Library, Herald Examiner Collection

Photo: LA Public Library, Herald Examiner Collection

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Old Shoes and Socks

Photo: Fort Rock sandals, The Oregon Encyclopedia, https://www.oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/fort_rock_sandals/#.Yg5599_MK5c
5,500 year old shoe found in Areni,Armenia. Photo: Pinhasi R, Gasparian B, Areshian G, Zardaryan D, Smith A, et al. via Wikimedia

Photo: Pinhasi R, Gasparian B, Areshian G, Zardaryan D, Smith A, et al. via Wikimedia

The world’s oldest LEATHER shoe was found in a cave near Areni, Armenia, by the world’s luckiest grad student, Diana Zardaryan. The straw stuffed inside the shoe might qualify as the world’s oldest sock. Or it may have been filler to keep the shoe from drying out flat when not in use.

Like a moccasin, the Areni shoe was made from a cut-out of scraped hide. The laces were part of the cut-out, dangling from one side, with matching eyelets on the opposite side. The 5,500 year old Areni shoe has a bulge around the big toe, showing the wearer habitually put it on his right foot. The Areni shoe is 9 1/2 inches long (in the US, men’s size 6 1/2, woman’s 8).

FYI, the world’s oldest shoes are Fort Rock (Oregon) slip-ons, made from rope. Five lengths of rope, braided from the stringy insides of sagebrush bark, form the sole and fold back to form the upper. In 1938, archaeologist Luther Cressman of the University of Oregon unearthed dozens of Fort Rock shoes, preserved 10,000 years in a layer volcanic ash.


Photo: Cropped from the hi-res original by Marie-Lan Nguyen via Wikimedia

Photo: Cropped from the hi-res original by Marie-Lan Nguyen via Wikimedia


Artemis Rospigliosi, at the Louvre. Photo: Marie-Lan Nguyen via Wikimedia

In a way, the history of shoes has already come to an end by the time of the Artemis Rospigliosi, a first or second century Roman copy of an earlier Greek statue. Enlarge the closeup of her left shoe to see a sole built up in layers of toughened leather. The soft leather upper, a separate piece, is sewn onto the sole. The back and forth lacing is novel (only one lace) but recognizable in shoes that are in your closet right now. What’s left to invent but Velcro?

Between Artemis’ big toe and second toe, a tie-down holds the flaps of the upper in place. This practical detail confirms we are looking at a depiction of a real shoe, not an idealized icon.

The drapery around the top of this boot-like sandal, with its lion clasp in front — is it functional or purely for show, suggesting the lion’s mane?

Note: Click photos to enlarge.



Three British kings: James I, Charles I, and Charles II. Image: Composite of two portraits by Daniel Mytens and a portrait of Charles II by Simon Pietersz via Wikimedia

Closeup of Charles II's shoes

Closeup of Charles II’s shoes

High heels rode into Europe in the late 1500s, an innovation copied from Mongol horsemen. The stepped-up heels provided non-slip control in the stirrups.

In the portraits of three British kings, James I (left) wears a flat-soled shoe, tied with a showy bow.

His son Charles I wears riding boots with a modest heel and spurs. The yellow leather folds down fashionably. His white stockings, bunched at the knee, are held up by ribbons with metal “points,” attaching to the royal pants. No one, not even a king, can bear having their socks slip down in their boots.

On the right, Charles II knew how to ride a horse, though you wouldn’t guess it from his footwear. The height of his heel has nothing to do with riding, everything to do with personal elevation. The red color even calls attention to the added altitude.  In fashion, Charles II’s court followed the court of Louis XIV, where stockings to match one’s shoes were de rigeur. Open toes and backs, a large, waggly tongue, and sparkly ribbons proclaimed the importance of style and self-presentation. Charles’s grandfather, sponsor of the King James Version of the Bible, would surely have cringed in his flat-soled slippers.


09aStripeSockCompositeTo understand socks, we have to appreciate the foot — its subtle shape, kinetic repertoire, stress points, and absolute lack of help from the calf in keeping socks up. See how the stripes swell and bend when the socks are on, revealing a  continuum of curving, mobile surfaces beyond description by even the most advanced mathematical models. Hence the importance of knitting.

Knitting produces a fabric made of loops. Loops allow some “give” in fabric, which means socks can fit snugly to the uncanny forms of the foot. In contrast, woven cloth is an interlocking mesh, which does not stretch and has to be  cut and sewn for a close fit. Even then, there will be puckers.


World's oldest socks, at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Photo: Fæ via Wikinedia

World’s oldest socks, at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Photo: Fæ via Wikinedia

The world’s oldest extant socks — from a 4th/5th century AD Greek colony at Oxyrhynchus, 50 miles south of Cairo — were knit using a single-needle method  called naalbinding.

With a separate compartment for the big toe, these socks were likely made to be worn with sandals similar to flipflops.

For centuries, knitting was an art known only in the Muslim world.

Knitting came to Scotland from Spain in the 1400s. Until then, Europeans  wore stockings cut and sewn from cloth. Or they wore foot wraps, which could not “breathe” and tended to become very smelly indeed.


In 1589, William Lee invented a knitting machine and asked Queen Elizabeth for a patent. She said “not yet.” She didn’t want to deprive villagers of extra income from knitting.

Moreover, the work from Lee’s machine was coarse — only 8 stitches per inch. A few years later, he tripled the number of stitches, but the answer was still no.

A century went by. Eventually Lee’s machines — also known as stocking frames or framework knitting machines — made Nottingham more famous for knitted cotton stockings than for Robin Hood.

The key concept in Lee’s machine is the “bearded” needle, bent into a hook at the end. As shown, sinkers push the yarn down between the needles, forming half-loops. The needles then retract, pulling the new loops toward the previous loops. A presser bar closes the hooks on the bearded needles, allowing the new loops to be pulled through the old. The needle doesn’t snag because its point is pressed into a  slot in the body of the needle. These illustrations are from “The Art of Knitting.”

The Morning Toilet by Jan Steen. Image: Adapted from Wikimedia

The second version (1665) of Jan Steen’s The Morning Toilet shows the strangle marks on a woman’s calves from stockings . There is a footie sole in the stocking, Her wood-soled shoes, called pattens, have a slightly elevated heel. Poor thing, time for bed.

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