Unfinished Work

It might be inadvisable to put up unfinished work. I don’t know. Anyway, I spent a large part of yesterday working a few comics panels. I’ve been experimenting with different ways of working using the computer instead of working at a drafting table. I haven’t added the word balloons or anything yet. I’m not really sure how the panels will be integrated into pages. The question of the medium in which it will be viewed is problematic.


A digital painting of two women talking.

Spring Ephemeral

I’m still trying to get out a serious post. In the meantime, I took quite a few pictures yesterday, not only of the birds. Many were of flowers. Here’s several photos of a lovely flower that I look forward to seeing every year. It’s called Spring Beauty or Claytonia virginica. They truly are spring ephemerals in that they bloom for a very short time and then die back to nothing. Later in the season it becomes impossible to tell where they were. They’re easy to overlook even when they’re blooming since the flowers are only about two or three centimeters in diameter. The leaves are long and narrow and blend in with the grass. Mainly the flowers are pale pink, almost white. It’s always the more brightly colored specimens which first catch my eye and then I suddenly look down and realize that they’re all over and I’ve just over looked them. They grow from a tuber. I have never eaten them myself, but they are supposed to be edible. (Never eat anything you can’t positively identify and you are certain it’s edible.)





Action Shots: Squirrels and Robins


Twice, on consecutive days, I've seen a squirrel come out of this hole. I'm  wondering if there's babies in there.

Twice, on consecutive days, I’ve seen a squirrel come out of this hole. I’m wondering if there are babies in there.

Once squirrel chased another down a tree and across this path. I missed the first squirrel, but here's his pursuer.

One squirrel chased another down a tree and across this path. I missed the first squirrel, but here’s his pursuer.

An American Robin.

Two Robbins foraging on a slope.

Two Robins foraging on a slope.

This is one of the previous two Robbins a few minutes later. He'd (or she) been doing a lot of eating.

This is one of the previous two Robbins a few minutes later. He’d (or she) been doing a lot of eating.

A face-off between two squirrels.

Then one chased the other.

Perhaps he was defending his hoard of nuts. Squirrels are scatters hoarders. The deposit nuts all over the place and it's quite a feat of memory that they can remember where.

Perhaps he was defending his hoard of nuts. Squirrels are scatter hoarders. They deposit nuts all over the place and it’s quite a feat of memory that they can remember where.

The moon.

The moon.

A neighbor's cat. He was crying at a door, but I've seen him go into another house in the past. Then the moment he saw me, he came to get pet.

A neighbor’s cat. He was crying at a door, but I’ve seen him go into another house in the past. Then the moment he saw me, he came to get pet.

I nearly forgot, a saw this bee in a Magnolia.

I nearly forgot, a saw this bee in a Magnolia.


Some Thoughts on Brendan Eich

In the U.S. people can be fired from jobs for political views. In 2002, Goodwill Industries fired Michael Italie, a sewing machine operative, for being a member of the Socialist Workers Party. He was not fired for anything he had done at work.

Goodwill makes no bones about the fact that it fired Italie not for any on-the-job conduct but for holding views it does not wish to be associated with. “We cannot have anyone who is attempting to subvert the United States of America,” Dennis Pastrana, chief executive of Goodwill in South Florida, told the Miami Herald on Oct. 30. “His political beliefs are those of a communist who would like to destroy private ownership of American enterprises and install a communist regime in the United States.”

According to Lida Rodriguez-Taseff of the ACLU commenting on the case “The law is pretty clear that a private employer can fire someone based on their political speech even when that political speech does not affect the terms and conditions of employment.”

Bryan Keefer, a research assistant who blogged about political rhetoric online, quit his job after being told that criticism of left leaning politicians could get him fired.

According to Missouri Lawyers Weekly

Most people are familiar with the standard protected classes: race, sex, age, religion, etc. But beyond that, many people feel that if something is unfair, then it must somehow be illegal.

Yet that is often not the case, at least in employment law.

You can be fired for a host of reasons in at-will employment, such as for being a Cubs fan (an option I’m thankful my employers have decided to forego) or for not inviting someone to your happy hour (something you would never do, of course, because you like everyone you work with). And, perhaps most pertinently these days, you can usually be fired for being of the “wrong” political affiliation (not your political affiliation – the other one).

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is legislation that has been proposed that would make sexual orientation and gender identity protected classes under federal law. However, currently, you can be fired for being gay in 29 states.

A school administrator at a Catholic school in Ohio was fired last year for a Facebook post supporting marriage equality.

Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Archdiocese has a new contract for the teachers in its schools that clamps down on their personal lives, including their ability to voice political beliefs that run counter to those endorsed by the Catholic Church. Teachers are prevented from expressing support for “living together outside of marriage,” “sexual activity out of wedlock,” “homosexual lifestyle,” “abortion,” “a surrogate mother,” “in vitro fertilization or artificial insemination.”

When I first heard that Mozilla’s new CEO had taken a stance about gay marriage, it was in a comment thread. There were some intimations that perhaps people should not use Firefox, but I hesitated to jump to any immediate conclusions in large part because the information was so vague and I didn’t know whether or not it was even correct.

In the past, I’ve struggled in the past over the question of whether or not I should boycott a product because of the political beliefs the a company owners. Frequently, my decision turns on how intimately the company is tied up with the beliefs of its owners. To take Hobby Lobby as an example, I wouldn’t boycott the company simply because the owners privately hold beliefs that are counter to my own, but because they have made their corporation an instrument of their beliefs.

Although the above cases regarding people who were terminated for their political views were legal, I can’t help feeling that employers in many of these cases have overstepped their bounds and when I first heard that people were calling for Brendan Eich to resign, I felt conflicted. Then I made an analogy.

Eich, was the CEO, a very different role than that of a lower level employee. My sister, as it happens, is a C-suite executive. There has been the occasional speculation as to whether or not she will be made CEO when, and if, her boss retires. Now, I’m not saying that anyone has said that she will be, but who might succeed the current CEO has been brought up and my sister’s name has, at times, been among them. Now, we live in Baltimore, which has a majority black population. My sister is white, but many of the people with whom she works are black, as are many of the other people with whom her company must cooperate in government or at other companies. Were my sister, or any of the other people who have been talked about as possible CEOs, to give a large amount of money to an organization actively fighting to end affirmative action would this disqualify them from consideration? In all likelihood it would, because it would make it very difficult for her to lead the organization. (For the record, this is not my sister’s view. It’s purely hypothetical.)

Of course, it was unfortunate that Eich was elevated to this position to begin with. He was one of the co-founders of Mozilla and had been the Chief Technology Officer. In 2008, while holding his previous position, he donated money to support Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative to ban same-sex weddings in that state. The company would have been well within its rights to fire him for that since firing people for their political positions is perfectly legal. However, I would have felt that the company was overstepping its bounds much as I feel that Goodwill Industries was wrong when it fired Michael Italie for being a socialist, unless the company felt that it directly affected his ability to do his job. In the case of his role as CEO, it is clear that it did hamper his ability to do his job. In fact, his views directly threatened the company. According to The New Yorker

The real mystery here, then, is not why Eich stepped down but why he ever got hired in the first place. His unquestioned technical ability notwithstanding, this was a candidate who divided the board, who had already been controversial, and whose promotion was guaranteed to generate reams of bad publicity.

What has puzzled me is the hand-wringing that has accompanied Eich’s departure. Conor Friedersdorf, writing in The Atlantic, says

Calls for his ouster were premised on the notion that all support for Proposition 8 was hateful, and that a CEO should be judged not just by his or her conduct in the professional realm, but also by political causes he or she supports as a private citizen.If that attitude spreads, it will damage our society.

Conor Friedersdorf is wrong to wonder what will happen “if this attitude spreads.” This “attitude”, the notion that an employee can be fired for political views, already exists. The only thing surprising here is that an CEO has been held to the same standard as other employees. I hope that conservatives mount an enthusiastic defense the next time a seamster in a factory is fired. Somehow, I doubt they will.

Update: Since posting this, I came across another post pointing out that Brendan Eich resigned, he was not fired and that he was not forced out by employees. I was aware of that and it is why I wrote that the company would have been able to fire him for his political views. However, in retrospect, it could be misleading to someone who wasn’t already informed about the situation.

Can You Spot the Bird?

My sister injured her back, so yesterday I went to visit. I brought my camera with me because, as I said to my sister, “If I don’t bring it the animals are sure to do something cute.” So, I sat outside for a time taking photos. I got one picture that made me think about all those pictures you see showing “nature’s wonderful camouflage.” So, go below the fold and see if you can find the bird…

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When the Stars Align

Some days, I am in the mood for sweets. Other days, I am in the mood to cook. Then there are those special days that I am both in the mood to cook and to eat something sweet. Today was one of those days. There was this jar of poppy seed that I’d bought for something some time ago but never used that’s been haunting me the past few days, saying, “Eat me. Eat me.” Since poppy seed doesn’t last forever and it had been sitting on the shelf for a while, it’s been weighing on my mind. “Got to do something with that poppy seed.” So, I started with the idea of making a poppy seed cake. So, I started thinking, what goes with poppy seed. I got it in my head that an apricot filling with a honey flavored icing would be great. Then, I realized that I had everything I needed minus dried apricots. That seemed to be a big clue to be lazy, so I looked back in the cabinet and found a jar of cherry preserves.

All in all, I think it came out very well. The apricots probably would have been better. The honey icing was essentially a meringue frosting made with honey instead of a sugar syrup.



Photos That Didn’t Fit

Sometimes, I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenges. This week’s challenge was ‘street life’ and I’ve put a related post up over on my other blog where I put most of the photography. I use the challenges as creative inspiration to make new photographs and only occasionally put up old ones. So, after seeing this week’s challenge, it was a bit disappointing that we had a rainy weekend. However, yesterday was beautiful, and I was able to get out and take pictures. Since street photography is usually about people, it was a little bit of a challenge for me because I’m always so afraid of being intrusive. However, it gave me the opportunity to have small conversations with people, which was nice.

As always, if anyone ever appears in a photograph and doesn’t like it, just let me know and I’ll be glad to take it down.

There were a few pictures that didn’t fit in my little collection, so I’ll post them here instead.


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