Occasional comments about business and politics in Portland, Oregon, mixed in with stories from our city's colorful if not always compliant past.
"The more pity, that fools may not speak wisely what wise men do foolishly." -- Touchstone
One of the refreshing surprises of the 2014 congressional elections was to see how so many of America's working classes and family farmers gave Congress a resounding mandate to protect the rich from starvation.
I've sometimes wondered if the Congress of 1845 wasn't showing a bit of collective spirit when it set our national election day to be the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November - hence always on or between November 2 and November 8 - because the central day of that span, November 5, had been celebrated in England as a day of Thanksgiving since 1606 by reason of the discovery on November 5, 1605 of a plot to create hundreds of vacancies in the House of Lords by setting off a large gunpowder charge in the building's basement. Later known as Gunpowder Treason Day, it is now celebrated as Guy Fawkes Day. Standard historians say that Congress chose that week in November because it allowed enough time between Election Day and the date in December on which the presidential electors gather in the state capitols to cast their ballots, but I like to think that Congress was, in a sly way, fixing our election date to commemorate the day, 240 years earlier, on which the spiritual ancestors of the United States Senate were saved from a treasonous attempt to impose term limits.
I haven't figured out a larger societal principle from comparing Governor Kitzhaber's election results today with those of the marijuana measure, but I think there's something interesting lurking in the data. Measured by percentages, the Governor outpolled legal weed by a noticeable margin only in ultra-conservative Wheeler County. Marijuana outpolled Dr. Kitzhaber by a consistent margin in most of our other counties, and by 10 points or more in six conservative counties around the east and south edges of the state: Baker, Curry, Harney, Josephine, Klamath, and Lake. I understand the appeal of legal marijuana in Curry and Josephine Counties, where the stuff is said to grow well and may be the largest cash crop in the area, but I don't have a theory for why the marijuana measure outpolled the governor in Baker, Harney, Klamath, and Lake Counties. It may be that the good voters of those four counties believed that four years of a Dennis Richardson administration would be easier to take with a toke.
At least, that's what I make of Safeway marketing an Oroweat product described as "Jewish rye bread" with a sticker that suggests using it to make sandwiches of ham and cheese. Gastronomically it's a fine idea, but theologically it leaves something to be desired.
As Congress often inadvertently provides comic relief to the public, and comes in for a full meed of satire and derision, it's remarkable to see two conservative Congressional candidates brave enough to advertise their campaigns by doing stand-up political comedy. This unusual event (the promoters say it's the first time ever that candidates have tried to raise funds by being intentionally funny) happens tomorrow evening at Harvey's Comedy Club, under the name of Standup for the Constitution. James Buchal (Republican candidate for the Third District, running against Earl Blumenauer, shown in this video) and Jason Yates (Republican candidate for the First District, running against Suzanne Bonamici). I don't know Rep. Bonamici's sense of humor, but Rep. Blumenauer's ability to be self-deprecatory might give Mr. Buchal some challenges to equal; some years ago when Rep. Blumenauer was on the ballot three times in one year he cheerfully used the slogan "Vote Earl, Vote Often."
I will believe what happens next in videos. I won't know which "Lord of the Rings" or "50 Shades of Grey" character I am. No one will suggest posts to me. I will have to find my own pictures of acrobatic cats. And I'll have to find my own good deals on car insurance.
I recently applied for the TSA's Global Entry program, which for a small fee will allow me to keep my shoes on when I go through airport security. At the end of a short interview with a very pleasant and professional TSA agent at the airport, he told me that I would receive an e-mail in a few minutes with the approval, and in fact I received an approval eight minutes later.
If you enrolled in Global Entry, you may begin using the kiosk immediately. Global Entry cards are only issued to Global Entry members who are U.S. citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents or Mexican Nationals (who are not current SENTRI members). Global Entry cards are not valid at the Global Entry kiosks.
I was gratified to learn that I can begin using the kiosk immediately, but bemused to read that Global Entry cards are not valid at the Global Entry kiosks. Where, then, would they be valid, if not with the agency that issues them? I've thought about trying to use mine to ride the streetcar.
Wanting to download Google Earth to my computer, I used Google to find the website. Picking one on the first page, I clicked to obtain the download. As all good sites do, this one asked me to read and click-sign a licensing agreement. Here's a portion of the licensing agreement that Google offered me, obscurantist even by my high standards::
إليهما معًا بالاسم "بنود الخدمة"). تتم الإشارة في هذه الاتفاقية إلى برنامج Google أو أي جزء منه باسم "البرنامج".
1. استخدام البرنامج؛ القيود
استخدام البرنامج. بالنسبة لمستخدم نهائي بمفرده، يتاح البرنامج من أجلك كما يمكن لك استخدامه فقط للاستخدام الشخصي وغير التجاري وفقًا لبنود الخدمة هذه ولوثائق البرنامج. بالنسبة للمستخدمين النهائيين من المؤسسات أو الهيئات الحكومية، يجوز استخدام البرنامج بواسطتك أو بواسطة موظفيك للاستخدام الداخلي وفقًا لبنود الخدمة ووثائق البرنامج هذه (يتم الإشارة إلى المستخدمين النهائيين من الأفراد والمؤسسات والهيئات الحكومية في هذه الوثيقة بالاسم "أنت"). القيود. باستثناء الأمور التي اختصتك Google بترخيص القيام بها، لا يحق لك استخدام هذا البرنامج فيما يتعلق بأية منتجات أو أنظمة أو تطبيقات مثبتة أو متصلة بشكل آخر، أو ترتبط بمركبات تستخدم أو ذات صلة بما يلي:
(أ) التوجيه المتزامن على الطريق (بما في ذلك، على سبيل المثال وليس الحصر، التوجيه التفصيلي على الطريق وعمليات التوجيه الأخرى المُمكّنة من خلال استخدام جهاز استشعار)؛
ب) أية أنظمة أو وظائف للتحكم الآلي أو الذاتي في حركة المركبات؛ أوالسعة أو الموجزات المجمعة للإحداثيات الرقمية لخ
As is our custom, we celebrate Tax Day with a reading, usually drawn from the British lawyer, novelist, and humorist A.P. Herbert, best remembered for his series of Misleading Cases in the Common Law. Today's reading comes from his report of the case of Rex v. Puddle, in which, relying on information from that pertinacious litigant Albert P. Haddock (the author's alter ego), prosecuted a tax collector for blackmail. As Mr. Justice Trout, the judge in Mr. Herbert's story, gives his instructions to the jury, he says:
The prisoner in the dock, a Collector of Taxes for the district of South Hammersmith, stands charged with the odious crime which is commonly described as blackmail. That expression dates from very early times, when it was the custom to pay tribute to men of influence who were allied with certain robbers and brigands for protection from the devastations of the latter. The practice was made illegal by a statute of Queen Elizabeth's time, and ever since it has been classed by our Courts among the most contemptible and dangerous offences. A person, who, knowing the contents, sends or delivers a letter or writing demanding with menaces and without reasonable cause any chattel, money, or other property, commits felony and is liable to penal servitude for life. * * *
Now Mr. Haddock, the prosecutor in this case, received a letter from the prisoner demanding money. The letter was printed in ink of a bright red colour, and that is a circumstance which you may will take into account when you come to consider the intention of the letter and the effect which it may have had upon the mind of the recipient. For red is notoriously the colour of menace, of strife, of bloodshed and danger; and it is worthy of note that the prisoner's previous communications to Mr. Haddock had been printed in a quiet and pacific blue. The letter was as follows:
Previous applications for payment of the taxes due from you * * * having been made to you without effect, DEMAND is now made for payment, and I HEREBY GIVE YOU FINAL NOTICE that if the amount be not paid or remitted to me at the above address within SEVEN DAYS from this date steps will be taken for recovery by DISTRAINT, with costs.
E. Puddle, Collector.
'Collector,' I may observe in passing, was in other centuries a word commonly used to denote a highwayman. But you will not allow that point to influence you unduly. * * *
You will then have to ask yourselves, Was this menacing demand for money made with reasonable cause? You will bear in mind that Mr. Haddock is not a debtor or criminal; he has not taken another's property or done any disgraceful thing. his only offence is that by hard work he has earned a little money; and the suggestion is now made that he shall give away a fifth part of that money to other people. That being his position, you might well expect that he would be approached not with brusquerie but with signal honours, not with printed threats but with illuminated addresses.
[The jury eagerly found the prisoner guilty of blackmail, and he was sentenced to penal servitude for life, and solitary confinement for ten years, the sentences to run consecutively. The Court congratulated Mr. Haddock.]
Tomorrow we will return to our usual jovial support for the social welfare state.