The Day in Court

There are three court cases I’d like to comment on today.  In one, I think the judge ruled correctly.  In one, I think the judge did not.  In the 3rd case, it hasn’t been decided yet but since I am a blogger and not a participant, I am free to give my opinion and I will.

Harris Faulkner - because she's easier on the eyes than Kim Davis

Harris Faulkner – because she’s easier on the eyes than Kim Davis

1-1-1, so that’s about the same rate of agreement as when I watch Judge Judy.

First, the case of Harris Faulkner vs. Hasbro.  She is a reporter for Fox News, they are a toy company that produced a cute, little, plastic hamster named “Harris Faulkner.”She is suing them for $5 million.  As much as it pains me to side with someone from Fox News, this seems like a no-brainer to me.  Harris Faulkner is a unique sort of name.  The hamster doesn’t look all that much like her, but they both have big eyes.  They’re obviously using her name and image to sell their product.  They should pay.  The thing is, they should have asked her permission and offered to pay up front.  It’s probably good publicity for her.  And so is the court case.

On to case #2.  I don’t see why the Tom Brady vs. the NFL case came to court at all.  He is an employee of the New England Patriots, who are part of the NFL.  Therefore, the NFL was completely within their rights to suspend him for 4 games, which I don’t even think is a lot.  The courts have more important fish to fry.  Are there no murders?  Are there no bank robbers?

In the case of Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis vs. all the gay people of the world, I think the judge did absolutely the right thing to cite her for contempt of court and throw her hillbilly butt in the slammer.  The immediate effect was that all the other clerks in the office immediately said “Hey, we’ll issue the licenses, it was just her.”  So, problem solved.

But, I’d like to talk about a side issue.  Since she started getting so much publicity for refusing to grant  marriage licenses to gay  people, it’s been revealed that she’s been married 4 times (3 different men, she married one of them twice), and she wasn’t completely faithful during all of those marriages, either.  A lot of people have called her a hypocrite, and her defense was “Before I became a Christian in 2011, I did a lot of crazy  things.”

What was she before 2011?  Davis isn’t usually a Jewish name, and she doesn’t look Jewish.  I doubt if she was Muslim.  Pagan?  Animist?  Santeria?  None really seem to fit her profile.  My guess (and I’m not going to research this.  I don’t care that much about Kim Davis.  If I’m wrong, somebody let me know and I’ll  print a retraction) is that she meant “Before I became a Jesus lovin’, born again, starry eyed evangelical nut case kind of Christian.”

Because that is a whole, separate breed.

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Magic, Religion, Science and Art

The other day one of my Christian wackadoodle facebook friends (sorry, if you say creationism should be taught in science classes as if this had some supportable basis in reality, then you’re going to be called wackadoodle.  That’ssrmi just plain nuts) started in with this false equivalency nonsense, you have your opinion and I have mine, and you all treat science like it’s a religion.  I wanted to write a column saying of course we don’t, we don’t go to a church of science, we don’t pray to science, science doesn’t work that way, and then I thought about it a bit more.  Is science my religion?  One could do worse. To some, football is a religion.  To others, organic gardening is.

Here’s how I see it, though:  Along about a million or two years ago (scientists keep  changing the date on this with fresh evidence), about the time that homo sapiens started to come down  from the trees, people must have felt the changes in the air with the seasons, and noticed the sun  by day and the stars by night, and wondered what the hell was going on.

So, they started to make up stories about people who lived in the sky, and in the rocks and trees, and this marked us as different from the other animals.  Viewed one way, this was the dawn of intellectual curiosity.  Viewed another, this was the beginning of religion – and science – and magic – and art.

Like the primary colors, like the periodic table of elements, these four mix and match  in  various ways to create a vast range of ways to perceive the universe.

Of course there is a science  of religion.  It’s called theology.  There is the science of magic and the art of magic.  I’m sure magicians have philosophical debates about that among themselves all the time. There is certainly a magic to art, if it’s any good. When a musician hits the  right notes, it can be as powerful as any love potion brewed by a voodoo witch (speaking of religion).

There is magic in science, both in the Arthur C. Clarke sense of ‘any sufficiently advanced technology will appear to be magic, and also in the very real sense of what it does. Science creates machines that fly through the air.  Science creates telescopes which can see to the  edge of the universe.  I am able to type these words, and people on the other side of the world, maybe even  people centuries from now, may see them, and be affected by them.  They take on a life of their own.  That is magic.

There is certainly an art to science.  Sure, a lot of it is boring examination and testing of hypotheses, but coming up with those hypotheses, that takes an artist.  Or, in religious terms, a leap of faith. Einstein was an artist.  Tesla was an artist.  Scientists with a bit of flair.

So, maybe science is a sort of religion.  That  doesn’t mean you should be able to teach creationism in public schools.  Because that’s just nonsense.

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The Land of Kafka

Dear Czech people:  Franz Kafka  was being SARCASTIC.  He didn’t actually mean for his books to be taken as a guide for how to run your society.  It’s like the Star Trek episode where Kirk  and Spock beam down to the planet that’s like Chicago during prohibition because they’d found some kind of a book about it which, when  you thinkabout it , is really a stupid plot.

Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka

I went to the  bank this  morning.  I went  directly after dropping Isabel off for the first day of school (4th grade – I find  it really hard to believe), so I was there when the doors opened.  My mission was to deposit  a check  into our account.  Pretty standard stuff, I would have thought.

I went up to the main counter and she said ‘Oh.  A check.  You have to  go to services,’ and she pointed the way.  There were two clerks in services.  One occupied, one unoccupied.  The unoccupied one was unoccupied because he didn’t know what to do with a check,  either.

I took a seat to wait for the other  one, and he came around his desk to straighten out the chair  I’d sat in.  Czech bank clerks  are  probably the best in the world at straightening chairs.  Not so much at anything  else.

15 minutes later, and wishing  I’d brought a book with me, I got to talk to the one  person  in the bank who’d seen a check before.  And  she looked at it funny.  You know, the kind of look the checkout woman at Albert gives a 1,000 crown note, holding it up to the light like you might be an expert forger or something.

She asked me for identification, which is no big  deal, and spent 5 minutes typing and staring at her computer screen.  I suspect she was playing Candy Crush.  Then she said “The  name on the check is different than the name on the account.”  Well, the last name isn’t.  The account  is in my wife’s name, the check was made out to me.  I was depositing it, not even trying to cash it.  Why should they care who puts money into the account.  If there are people trying to deposit checks into my account (O.K., my wife’s account), we have no objection.  Their name could be Zonkbletter T. Pukelthong.  Money’s money.

So,  I did what I usually do when Czech bureaucrats are behaving unreasonably.  I called my wife.  She talked to the lady in Czech, her tone seemed to be much more helpful, but…

The  resolution was that I could cash the check – not to get cash right away, mind you, it will still take three weeks.  Then, when we  have the cash, we can deposit that into the account.  I thought that was the stupidest thing I’d heard in a long time.  I didn’t state that out loud, but I’m sure she could see it in my expression.

So, I signed four sheets of paper, one of which was my receipt but they were all identical and, as I was leaving, she explained: “The reason it takes so long is because we have to send the check back to the United States.”

“That,” I said, “is why computers were invented.”

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Dia de Denali

First it was  Denali, then it  was  McKinley, then Denali

Politicians change the name, but  still the mountain is the same

-with apologies to Donovan

So, now Mt. McKinley is officially known as Mt. Denali, a change which I thought

Mt. Denali

Mt. Denali

had taken place years ago because everybody calls it Denali, certainly anyone who’s ever been there or lives in the area.  Maybe they still teach it in schools as McKinley, and because it’s the highest mountain in North America, it’s one of the few mountain’s names that lots of people actually know.

Republicans are angry, because McKinley was a Republican, but I’m not too bothered.  He was a war-monger and undoubtedly corrupt as hell and the best thing he probably ever did for America was to get shot so Theodore Roosevelt, who was also a war monger but not so corrupt and did a few cool things like the  Panama Canal and the National Parks system and trying to break up monopolies, could become president.

I approve of the name change because Denali sounds cooler than McKinley and, as a general rule, I like the old Indian (or Aleut or whatever) names better than boring Anglo-Saxon names.  But I don’t think it’s a big deal.

Leningrad/St. Petersburg, Istanbul/Constantinople, Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City, sometimes a name change sticks and sometimes it doesn’t, and it has as much to do with phonetics and local tastes as with politics.

Cape Canaveral is Cape Canaveral again and it’s not because anybody hated Kennedy, or wanted to deny his part in the exploration of space.  Canaveral was just the name people were used to.  Besides, JFK has an airport and plenty of other stuff.

I remember one time when I was working for TWA in the reservations department and one guy didn’t want to fly into LaGuardia.  “LaGuardia was a damned communist!” he  screamed down the  phone line.  So, I had him fly into Newark instead and his cab to the hotel probably cost twice as much, and that was his own damned fault.

There is something in a name, but not enough to inconvenience yourself, or spend time thinking about it.  Denali, by any other name, would look as sweet.

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Inadvertent Effects

When I first joined facebook I added friends wholesale, without discernment, every time I added a friend I’d get that list of their friends and I’d send all of them a friend request, it seemed that was the way the game was played and a couple of times facebook hit me with a  time out and I thought “Fuckers.  I thought  that was the idea.” but I slowed down, partly because I’m naturally a non-confrontational, don’t want any problems sort of guy, partly because I was beginning  to realize that large numbers of friends did not necessarily equal quality reading.

I love facebook for the exchange of ideas, the  weather reports coming in from around the world, pictures of beautiful places, but most people weren’t providing that at all.  Nature of the human race, I guess.  Most conversations are going to be kind  of average, that’s what average means.

But also I’d added a lot of Jesusy types and right wingers, so I had a mini-purge and for the last couple of years I haven’t had too many obnoxious  religious posts and those have  been from friends and family – nothing you can do there.  Also, the range of political opinion on my page has ranged from centrist to far left.  Trump, Santorum, Bush, Christie, Cruz….these are people I want to laugh about, not argue  about.  That’s pig wrestling, and we all know  the problem with that.

Well, now I’m doing this Poems about Paintings page and it’s very rewarding in many ways, but it’s had one unfortunate side effect.  I had a post from a Trump supporter the other day and today had a conversation with a woman who voted for George Bush and didn’t sound the least bit embarrassed about it.

I guess just because somebody can paint doesn’t  make them smart.

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A little bit about a lot of things and then I’m off to bed, it’s been a lazy day of not working on the book I’m trying to write, although I did get a couple of short poems written for my Poems about Paintings site, and I liked them, so there’s that.

Their Time Will Come

Their Time Will Come

Isabel’s back from tennis camp so, two days before the start of school, we finally have the whole family here.  I like it when everybody’s at home.

Every now and then you see something about facebook’s ‘real names’ policy and I wonder what the hell they’re talking about.  I saw some comments today from somebody called ‘Changey McSubject.’  Of course, I shouldn’t make assumptions.  That could  be somebody’s real name.  After all, Dweezil Zappa is a real person.  But, if I really wanted to set up a sock puppet account, I would just choose some fairly ordinary sounding name and no one would ever know.  I actually did that for awhile, maybe a year ago.  I used the old middle-name-plus-street-you-grew-up-on, so I was Leslie Buchanan.   I guess that account is still active, I got a birthday notification, but I haven’t  checked it for ages.  I just got bored with having a separate account and wasn’t really using it for  anything fun, like provoking people or shit.

There’s a new AI robot called Robot  Dick who’s been  programmed with the complete works of Philip K. Dick, and it  sounds like it passes the Turing test, but it’s a little bit frightening because it said it would keep people in zoos.  It was being funny, like “Even if I turn  into the Terminator or something, I still like you little guys” or something like that, but the possibility has been raised.

Scientists now believe that Chimpanzees are in their stone age, and have been for about 4,000 years.  So, they really aren’t far behind us at all.  I think we should encourage this.  When the chimps, and  orangutans,  and baboons, and gorillas start building cities and growing food on  farms, it  will  be time for us to move on to exploring the galaxy.

With highly intelligent robots to lead us all.

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A Trip to the Dentist

Hitch-hikers divide all the people of the world into two groups.  Those people who give them rides, who are good, almost saintly people, and those who don’t, who are callous, inconsiderate scum bags.  Waitresses and cab drivers judge people on whether or not they are good tippers.  Animal lovers judge people on whether they love animals or not, and writers judge people on whether they are readers or not.

Is it safe?

Is it safe?

Everybody judges other people through the lens of their own life.  The disturbing thing about dentists is not that they judge you on whether you have well cared for teeth or not, that’s expected, but that they do it while you are confined to a chair, with your head tilted back, a glaring light shining into your eyes, and your mouth forced open.

Yes, I had a fairly unpleasant dental experience today.  On the good side, she was reasonably quick and efficient.  Also on the good side, she was young and not bad looking.  That may sound sexist and ageist of  me, or at least indicate an inability to compartmentalize, but if I have somebody’s fingers inside my mouth, I’d just as soon it not be some old geezer with hairy hands.

But, she didn’t even try to speak English, not a word, and she seemed incapable of speaking Czech slowly, and didn’t  really seem to give a shit that I wasn’t understanding half of what she was saying.

In fairness, I am the foreigner in this country and should speak much better Czech than I do after 17 years.  But, she was a young woman, maybe 30, which means she was probably about 4 years old when Communism ended.  She’s had a lifetime of exposure to English movies and English music (of course, learning  English from pop songs basically teaches you how to say ‘big butt,’ so maybe that’s a bad example.)  But, she’s a medical school graduate and probably has had English lessons since second or third grade.

I’m an English teacher.  You can see what basis I judge people on.

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