Sitting Bull Part 2

That detail about the meadowlark is from Nathaniel Philbrick, The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull and The Battle of The Little Bighorn.  At best the second-best book about the Little Bighorn battle, first of course being:

but that image is amazing.  Good on Philbrick.

What is amazing about “Son Of The Morning Star” is Connell doesn’t just tell the story, he follows the meandering lines that lead to it and out of it, and the people who traced them.  He demonstrates that as soon as you focus on any particular incident, you can keep finding new dimensions of weirdness in it.

Take, for example, this meadowlark warning Sitting Bull.  Philbrick cites that detail as coming from the recollections of One Bull, Sitting Bull’s nephew, found in box 104, folder 21 of the Walter Campbell collection.  Walter Campbell was born in Severy, Kansas in 1887.  He was the first Rhodes Scholar from the state of Oklahoma.  He wrote under the name Stanley Vestal.  Why?  I don’t know.  According to the University of Oklahoma, where his collection is kept, he was adopted by Sitting Bull’s family, and “was named Makes-Room or Make-Room-For-Him (Kiyukanpi) and His Name Is Everywhere (Ocastonka). Kiyukanpi was the name of Joseph White Bull’s father, and Ocastonka is a reference to the Chief’s great fame.”

Here’s a picture from the Walter Campbell collection:

That’s Young Man Afraid Of His Horses. Here’s another:

Regrettably OU won’t let me make that any bigger.  Campbell/Vestal/His-Name-Is-Everywhere died of a heart attack on Christmas Day, 1957.

There’s also a Walter CAMP who is very important in Bighorniana.  Camp worked for the railroad, and so could travel all over.  An unsourced detail from Indiana University’s Camp collection is that this is how he “spent his summers,” finding lost battlefields and interviewing old Indians and soldiers.  Here is a picture from Camp’s collection:

As for One Bull, here he is.  This is a photograph by William Cross (which I found here):

On wikipedia’s page for One Bull, however, they illustrate him with a picture of his spoon:

This spoon is now in the Spurlock Museum, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaigne, where they also have collections of Japanese wood carvings, Arctic artifacts, and Babylonian clay tablets.

Sitting Bull

In August of 1890, Sitting Bull left his home to check on his ponies.  After walking more than three miles, he climbed to the top of a hill, where he heard a voice.  A meadowlark was speaking to him from a nearby knoll.  “Lakotas will kill you,” the little bird said.


from the Paris Review interview with J. P. Donleavy


How did you motivate yourself?


That was easy. It was simply money and fame. I was aware as anyone is, that in this world you can just be swept away. I’m aware of this just as much now. New York is a great place to be reminded of it. You arrive here, and Good Lord, you find out in ten seconds that nothing whatever matters, especially your own small life. So I knew I had to write a book that would be the best work in the world. It was that simple.

rest here.  FYI The Ginger Man is not the best work in the world.  Some writers are better at playing writer than writing.  There is a sentence or two in The Ginger Man that I think about lots, though.

Hills around the Bay of Moulin Huet, Guernsey (Renoir, 1883)

Met Artwork of the Day nails it again.  This might be in a similar spot, anyway the closest photo I can find on Google streetview.


Helen DeWitt pulls a great thing from this interview with David Graeber, author of Debt: The First 5,000 Years.

David Graeber: An anthropologist who studied people in central Nigeria showed us how we were completely clueless. She doesn’t really speak the language and she gets a house, and immediately women start showing up from the neighborhood and dropping off little baskets of stuff: somebody bringing some okra, somebody bringing some fish. And she doesn’t know what to do so she takes out her little notebook and eventually somebody takes pity on her and starts explaining how things work. The person says, “Well, you know, you give something back to these people. But the key is you have to figure out exactly what it’s worth, and then give them either something slightly more valuable, or slightly less valuable. So if it’s worth twelve shillings, you give them something worth eleven or thirteen, never give twelve. Because if you give twelve, that’s like saying, ‘go to hell, I don’t ever have to see you again.’” So everyone has to be a little bit beholden.

Peter Thiel on pitching

Definite crossover with movie/TV pitching:

One of the most important things to understand is that, like all people, VCs are different people at different times of day. It helps to pitch as early as possible in the day. This is not a throwaway point. Disregard it at your peril. A study of judges in Israel doing parole hearings showed prisoners had a two-thirds chance of getting parole if their hearing was early in the day. Those odds decreased with time. There was a brief uptick after lunch—presumably because the judges were happily rested. By the end of the day people had virtually no chance of being paroled. Like everyone, VCs make poorer decisions as they get tired. Come afternoon, all they want to do is go home. It does indeed suck to have to wake up early to go pitch. But that is what you must do. Insist that you get on the calendar early.

A related point: It’s also important not to provide too much choice. Contrary to the standard microeconomics literature which extols the virtues of choice, empirical studies show people are actually made unhappy by a lot of choice. Too many choices makes for Costco Syndrome and mental encumbrance. By the end of the day, the VCs have had a lot of choices. So in addition to getting to them early in the day (before they’ve had to make a lot of choices), you should keep your proposition simple. When you make your ask, don’t give them tons of different financing options or packages or other attempts at optimization. That will burden them with a cognitive load that will make them unhappy. Keep it simple.

Whole thing is interesting.  HT Tyler Cowen.

Nuns at Tatsang, 1931

Wish I had a larger version of this.  The photographer is Frank Smythe, who went on the 1938 Shipton-Tilman Everest expedition.  My source is the Royal Geographic Society.

In 1949, in Delhi, [Smythe] was taken ill with food poisoning; then a succession of malaria attacks took their toll and he died on June 27, 1949 two weeks before his 49th birthday.