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3.Sept.2015 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Do not pass 'Go', Do not collect $200 Permalink to this item

Judge David L. Bunning of Federal District Court in Kentucky is not cutting the renegade Rowan County Clerk any slack. He ordered her jailed for contempt of court. “The court cannot condone the willful disobedience of its lawfully issued order,” he said. Her get out of jail card is to agree to comply with his order and issue the marriage licenses, but if her post-conversion word is reliable, she will be resisting that compulsion till kingdom come. One friend estimates the media circus has just begun. "Fox and CNN will run the story 24/7, and armchair prophets will warn of the end of days."

Beyond Ms. Davis' personal crusade, and the Liberty Counsel's use of her to fulfill its mission of "Restoring the Culture by Advancing Religious Freedom, the Sanctity of Human Life and the Family," you have to wonder if any of the crusaders are capable of thinking beyond this one issue that has them in a twist. County Clerks should all have the "religious freedom" to personally decide who gets to participate in civic life and enjoy their services? Also every and any government official of any stripe? To say they haven't thought this through would beggar understatement.

Davis' statement two days ago explained how she was saved four years ago, and how she must now "be obedient to [Jesus Christ] and to the Word of God," and she's not taking this lightly. "It is a Heaven or Hell decision."

That would make it worth sitting in jail for the rest of her life, I guess. This is looking more like mental illness than civil disobedience.

Last of the summer reading Permalink to this item

Something old, something new, both things borrowed, something blue.

Two books: Musicophila (Sacks) and The Unraveling (Sky)

More: book site for Musicophila with videos and stuff; and NYT Sunday Book Review for The Unraveling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq, by Emma Sky.

2.Sept.2015 Permanent URL to this day's entry

God help us if she moves to the DMV Permalink to this item

Jonathan Adler mines the Scalia archive to find his analagous explanation for why Kim Davis should either do her job or quit it. (Scalia and his cohort don't mind quietly revising their opinions after the fact however, so more research may be needed to positively affirm.)

Davis' plea for Court protection was rejected, so we won't hear from Scalia first-hand. We will find out whether the Rowan County, Kentucky clerk is officially in contempt, on Thursday, but the facts of the case seem clear that she holds the law in some contempt, or at least subservient to her supposedly firmly held religious principles.

Whatever those may be these days.

The actual law she's supposed to administer is sort of like Iran's president, just a figurehead, while the higher law, what she says God tells her to do, that's like Ali Hosseini Khamenei, the guy who's really in charge.

Davis' principles are newsworthy because they exclude anyone from being licensed to marry someone of the same sex. They have not yet excluded multiple divorces, adultery, and what-not on her part. From a friend of a friend of a Facebook commenter:

"Kim Davis has been showered with so many blessings. She was blessed to have her first sinful divorce filing processed by a non-judgmental clerk that didn't let Jesus' harsh pronouncement against divorce stop him/her from allowing Kim to receive her ungodly, society destroying divorce. And she was blessed to get a non-judgmental clerk to process the application for her second, adulterous 'marriage' licence. More blessings with her second divorce. And her third adulterous 'marriage' And her third divorce. And her fourth adulterous 'marriage' So many blessings. I do hope she appreciates them. I really do. Because it can be hard to find non-judgmental clerks who won't let their own personal feelings interfere with their official duties."

Never mind all that says Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, which is providing Ms. Davis' legal representation. She converted four years ago, and now has a clean slate. Not relevant! “She was 180 degrees changed.”

Old polls favor old pols Permalink to this item

Carly Fiorina complaining about unfair rules seems a little precious, but CNN announced a change in its qualification rules for its Sept. 16 debate, because of a paucity of polling. We won't know for sure who's in until September 10, but Fiorina claims she's in the top 5. Not that she could be trusted to report such a thing, but if true, that would put non-pols in three of the top five spots for the Republican nomination right now. No more politics as usual! Republicans as a group have been such a dismal failure, we want a non-Republican Republican, an anti-politician politician, an outsider, a neophyte, a business leader who knows a thing or two about failure, or perhaps a soft-spoken brain surgeon who says funny things about soft tissue.

The Upshot's dashboard does show Fiorina 5th in Iowa polls (but, Iowa), and now in a four-way tie for 6th in prediction markets. Quinnipiac U.'s poll has her in eighth place. The money (#13) and the national endorsements (#12) have not piled on the bandwagon as of yet, but that's a badge of outsider-honor, shared with Trump and Carson. Plus, Fiorina v. Trump would be good for ratings. Fiorina celebrate the triumph of yet another supposed challenge of the status quo, and Carson... bless his heart, urged CNN to include everybody.

1.Sept.2015 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Honorably mentioned Permalink to this item

Idaho Public TV has a Facebook page for its Outdoor Idaho show, and they've been using it to run a monthly photo contest for some time. A lot of the images will knock your socks off, and they seem to get better month after month. Last month, I decided that just maybe some of my images were good enough to contend, and submitted a few. The results are in, and as I clicked through and "liked" almost every one, I had a sinking feeling that the competition was just too good and I would have to get over the disappointment of not having any of mine picked.

They declared six "winners," but happily for all of us, there are 50-some "honorable mentions," and midway through, I was delighted to find one of mine among them. No Facebook account needed, just fill your biggest screen with a browser and click away through the "Iconic Idaho" August 2015 photo contest winners. (Mine is the down on my knees in the whitebark pine duff macro shot of Lewisia columbiana, an arrestingly beautiful, tiny wildflower that caught my eye on the way up to the top of the Seven Devils in the Hells Canyon Wilderness.)

July, 2015 photo
On top of the world, late July, He Devil

New horizons Permalink to this item

LinkedIn keeps me in touch with people who are still working more regular jobs than I am, and sends lists of postings for things that seem to line up with what I've told it about myself. They read rather like reruns at this point. I suppose I could do that, if I had to, but even expressing the necessary enthusiasm in an interview (let alone showing it 5 or more days a week) seems too high a bar. Subject line is "Tom, 10 new jobs for you," give them credit for a vivid imagination of how hard a worker I am. Also, somebody should edit these things so they don't sound like robots put them together out of spare parts. "Exciting opportunities exist to participate in the development of new emerging technologies." As opposed to the old emerging technologies, I guess. Everybody knows R&D, but "MSR integration"? LVS? DRC? EDA? Mixing sentences and sentence-like lists in search of a subject.

This one mentions "Perl," which is not something I've seen called out in a lot of job descriptions. I've done some of that for 20 years, and the cool kids don't capitalize the name of Larry Wall's scripting language from the 80s (even if Wikipedia does). It also reminds me about what one manager told me about not liking to hire a guy who smokes a pipe, because pipe smokers are "always messing around with that thing." True about perl hacks, too.

I see that successful candidates for this position will have "a strong work ethic that is driven to succeed," and wonder about an ethic with a (driven) mind of its own.

It has been and will continue to be the policy of this company to administer all human resource actions and benefits without regard to a list of things, and to use passive construction in odd ways. Don't forget your excellent communication skills, both oral and written, and the ability to multi-task with good organizational skills.

Yes, yes, I've got all that, but no I don't want to with a nip of fall in the morning air, and a cat on my lap and hot coffee right here without driving to work. Nice of you to ask.

If you aren't so comfortably situated yourself, and do want to get something useful from it, here's some accumulated advice from my friends in the HP Alumni Association: How to use LinkedIn, including why and how to use it, how to change the default privacy settings to avoid sending "distress signals," and a link to the Kaemmerer Group's suggestions for how to improve your chance of being found by a human or a bot, should you wish to.

30.Aug.2015 Permanent URL to this day's entry

The downside of Trump Permalink to this item

Jesse Berney: Donald Trump's campaign is built entirely on racism. I missed the "event" of Sen. Jeff Sessions sort-of endorsing Trump. But this:

The virtually all-white Alabama audience raucously cheered every word of anti-immigrant bombast Trump threw out at them like meat to the lions. One man told the New York Times he was hoping Trump would offer a bounty for every undocumented immigrant he murdered on the border.

“Hopefully, he’s going to sit there and say, ‘When I become elected president, what we’re going to do is we’re going to make the border a vacation spot, it’s going to cost you $25 for a permit, and then you get $50 for every confirmed kill,’ ” said Jim Sherota, 53, who works for a landscaping company. “That’d be one nice thing.”

Also, Matt Taibbi noticed that Trump stopped being funny (if you ever though he was being funny) about the time a couple of his "passionate" supporters beat up a homeless guy because "all of these illegals need to be deported."

"Trump is striking a chord with people who are feeling the squeeze in a less secure world and want to blame someone – the government, immigrants, political correctness, 'incompetents,' 'dummies,' Megyn Kelly, whoever – for their problems.

True patriot love in all thy sons command Permalink to this item

Turns out that among the other faults of Canada's prime minister, Stephen Harper seems to lack a sense of humor, and proportion. After a fellow by the name of Tony Turner posted the clever, catchy, choir-backed and quite pointed protest song, "Harperman," the government suspended Turner from his Environment Canada job, as if... he'd "violated the departmental code of values and ethics in that the writing and performing of this song somehow impeded his ability to impartially study migratory birds."

I say, let's all singalong on September 17th. Downloads, rants, lyrics, and much, much more on the Harperman Song Project website.

29.Aug.2015 Permanent URL to this day's entry

It's the economy, silly Permalink to this item

This happened. Trumpeters. Trumpservatives. Sarah Palin in her own echo chamber on One America News Network, interviewing Donald Trump, about his "avant garde" campaign. (That's, uh, from France, isn't it?) "You viewers, he's talking to you," she said, winding up her introduction about how the Donald's heart is in the working class.

Some questions she didn't ask occured to me. For example, given how terrible (you say) our economy's doing, isn't a little embarrassing for you to tout how rich you are? Haven't you profited at the expense of millions of those unemployed people you pretend to speak for?

11 minutes of unbuhlievable video

And what is it with you and escalators? Why would you think having an escalator in the background would be the thing to do? And especially a down escalator? What kind of message does that send?

You do know that while yes, our tax system is complicated, the vast majority of Americans do not spend "tremendous amounts of money on lawyers and accountants," don't you? Unless you mean $29.99 or a hundred bucks for tax software is "tremendous amounts"? But yeah, damn those "hedge fund guys" making a fortune.

Do you know stupid it is to say "you know better than anybody," period, but especially to Sarah Palin?

But she had a question, one that I'd like to see that smarty-pants Megyn Kelly come up with:

"Ah, you know, I wanna talk about the campaign and about that middle class that you're really resonating with, your message about fairness, just..., uhp uh, JOBS being created uh, in a, in a better economy, on the campaign trail, specifically, I know a lot of military folks, and I saw a guy walk behind you, Mr. Trump with an Army t-shirt on and it reminded me, hearing from so many military personnel, every day, personally, it's lately been all about you. It's, uh, a connection there, that I'd like to know more about, the respect that they have, for a "truth talker," as opposed to gettin' punched in the nose the last 7 years under Obama, how is it that you made that connection?"

Also: "Yer seein' some idiots in the press..." That's some major league truth talkin' there.

Last Peach Permalink to this item

It was the first picked
for some good reason I’ve forgotten
A bit undersized, short of ripe, tender
it bruised from its own weight
while its bigger, redder, riper
siblings came into their own
and were eaten.

We didn’t want it to be “crisper”
but that’s where it waited, gently padded
while nature took its course.
This morning, sliced in half, bruises and all,
I divided our existence into Before and After.

Something about poems and fools and trees
and one forgetful squirrel, who we remember
fondly, this morning.

2015 photo of peach petals


Tom von Alten
ISSN 1534-0007