Don’t. Mess. With. Me.

by Joey deVilla on December 13, 2017

Found via They Might Be Giants.


The second-greatest moment of yesterday’s Senate election in Alabama was when CNN anchor Jake Tapper had to explain to Ted Crockett, a Roy Moore campaign spokesperson, that you do not have to swear on the Bible when taking the oath of office.

When this fact was explained to him, he sat in stunned silence for a few seconds, like one of those robots on old-school Star Trek who’d just been told a contradictory fact by Captain Kirk:

Crockett valiantly tries to rally by reminding us that he and Trump swore on Bibles when they took their oaths of office, and Tapper pointed out because they’re Christian (well, at least in name), and that was their choice. Tapper had to state that it’s not required by law.

Other politicians have taken their oaths of office by swearing on other documents:

  • Bob Scott (mayor of Franklin, North Carolina) and Krysten Sinema (congressperson from Arizona) swore on the U.S. Constitution
  • Keith Ellison, first Muslim in Congress, swore on the Qu’ran
  • Tulsi Gabbard, first Hindu in Congress, swore on the Bhagavad Gita
  • Debbie Wasserman Schultz swore in on the Tanakh

Crockett closed out the interview with a weakly uttered “Merry Christmas”, which sounded rather like a poorly-disguised “fuck you”. It’s funny-sad how these “freedom of religion” guys usually mean “freedom of religion for me, but not for thee.”

If you’re looking for a legal precedent, check out the 1961 Supreme Court ruling for Torcaso v. Watkins. It reaffirmed that the U.S. Constitution prohibits the U.S. state and federal governments from requiring any kind of religious test for public office.

It came about when the governor of the state of Maryland appointed Roy Torcaso, an atheist as a notary public. Maryland’s Constitution at the time required “a declaration of belief in the existence of God” in order for a person to hold “any office of profit or trust in this State”. Torcaso refused to make such a statement, and they revoked the appointment. He took it first to Maryland’s First Circuit Court, and then the Court of Appeals, where he lost both times. It was only when he took it to the United States Supreme Court, which used the ruling from Everson v. Board of Education

The “establishment of religion” clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion.

…and Torcaso — and hey, the rest of us — won the case.


The REAL lesson of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”

by Joey deVilla on December 12, 2017

If you’re going to be a weirdo, be a useful weirdo.


My week, December 3 – 9, 2017

by Joey deVilla on December 12, 2017


This was a busy one. That morning, Anitra and I caught up with our friend Elizabeth for brunch. She’s from around here, but currently lives in Philly for work, and was passing through town. We met up at Brunchies, which has not just great breakfast food, but also Ginger Beard’s excellent nitro-pumped cold brew coffee, pictured above.

Next stop: our friend Gary, who lives in Brandon. He’s our go-to guy for board games, and that afternoon’s game was Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar, in which the goal is to become the village with the most resources and accomplishments. The game is organized around a set of interlocking gears representing the Mayan calendar, which determines the movement of time, the progress of your game, and the advancement of your workers. It was a lot of fun, and a far cry from “Monopoly” — our session took four fun-filled hours from start to finish.

Want a review of Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar? Check out this one by Tom Vasel of the boardgame podcast Dice Tower:

Then, after a quick dinner, we were off to the Straz…

…where we caught the very last show of Fun Home, the musical based on Alison Bechdel’s memoir. If the name rings a bell, it may be because you’ve heard of the concept bearing her name: the Bechdel test. It comes from a comic she drew in 1985 where a character says that she has specific rules about movies she’ll watch:

  1. It has to have at least two women in it…
  2. …who talk to each other…
  3. …about something other than a man.

Fun Home is about Bechdel’s coming of age and coming out as a lesbian, which is made complicated by the fact that her father, Bruce, was a closeted gay man having affairs with underage men. It’s a funny piece with great numbers and a great story, and it was performed beautifully with the U.S. touring group. The show we saw was not only the last one for Tampa, but the last show of the entire tour (which started in 2016), which is probably why they put a lot of heart and soul into their performances. We were sitting in the second row, and could not just see, but feel, that it was the closing show, and that they wanted to put on a grand finale.

Here’s Tampa Bay Times’ review of Fun Home: You should go see terrific ‘Fun Home’ at the Straz, and here’s the Washington Post’s review of the same touring company earlier this year: ‘Fun Home’ is pure musical satisfaction.


We had clients from out of town visit Sourcetoad earlier in the week, and we decided to show them a good time. After successfully completing the escape room at Rabbit Hole Escape Games (which I’ll write about later), we went to the Independent, which was packed with people who were there to celebrate both Krampusnacht and the fact that the Seminole Heights Killer had been caught.

In case you were wondering, Krampusnacht is German for “Krampus night”. Originally a pagan tradition, Krampus is the Christmas yang to Santa’s yin — just as Santa rewards well-behaved children with gifts, Krampus punishes children who misbehave. He’s typically depicted as a demonic creature with horns and hooves, and often carries a bundle of switches with which to beat der kinder.

The Independent was celebrating Krampusnacht with a buffet of German dishes that sounded tasty (especially the sausages and spätzle) and a Krampus costume contest, where the entrants ran the gamut from “Santa with horns” to “full-on goat demon”. I posed with a couple of them, as you can see from the photos above.

The buffet had been eaten up by the time we arrived, so we went to The Refinery instead, where I finally tried the Refined Burger, which is topped with peanut butter and marshmallow fluff, and it was delightful.


On Wednesdays, Sourcetoad’s marketing manager Graeme, brings in his Shiba Inu, Sun Sin, to the office. Sun Sin’s an older dog — 12 years old, which would put him in his 80s if he were a human — and he’s oddly cat-like in his aloofness. He’s free to roam the office, and he’s welcome in the one I share with Nick, the director of projects, which is where I found him when I took the photo above. I gave him a ear rub, and worked on a big presentation while he chilled out.

If you’re wondering about the name Sun Sin, it’s an homage to Yi Sun Sin, the 16th century Korean “Immortal Admiral” who had several major victories over the Japanese navy. His life has been dramatized in the Korean TV series Immortal Admiral Yi Sun Sin. I will admit to having saluted the dog and addressing his as “Admiral”.

Here’s another photo of Sun Sin in action. I’ve titled this one “Such sleep. Much tired.”


Anitra and I went to Tampa Bay Brewing Company in Ybor City for the holiday party thrown by Tampa Bay’s Agile, Java, User Experience, and Front End Design Meetup groups. They’ve got a good stout on tap, and I also tried Keel and Curley’s mango cider, which is downright amazing.

They had an “Ugly Christmas Sweater” contest, in which Anitra (pictured above and on the right) won the prize for Most Hilarious Sweater — her Christmas with Darth Vader sweater, complete with red LED-illuminated lightsabers.


My schedule has kept me rather busy lately, and as a result, I haven’t been able to attend Café con Tampa as much I’d like to. After a hiatus of a few weeks, I attended Friday’s session, which featured Tallahassee mayor and gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum. You can see my writeup and photos here.

If you’re in Tampa Bay and would like to have the opportunity to mingle with the area’s most active, engaged, involved, and well-dressed citizens and hear important topics given by interesting speakers while enjoying a delicious breakfast in beautiful surroundings, you owe it to yourself to head down to Oxford Exchange on Fridays at 8:00 a.m. to attend Café con Tampa.


My impression of Tommy Wiseau’s “Ha ha ha, what a story!”

On Saturday, I dressed up like Tommy Wiseau’s character from The Room and watched the film about its making, The Disaster Artist. It was hilarious, had a lot of heart, and was a far better film than I’d expected.

Afterward, we headed to our friends Monique and Gian’s place to celebrate their birthdays. Happy birthday, you two!


Christmas tree ornament of the day

by Joey deVilla on December 11, 2017

“Yippee-ki-yay, Merry Christmas!”

And remember: Die Hard is a Christmas movie. In fact, it’s the perfect Christmas movie.

Thanks to Todd Lamothe for the find!


“Treason for the season” makes undermining rule of law and democracy in favor of autocracy-at-all-costs sound so festive!

You may want to check out this article: The flowchart for dealing with greetings this holiday season.


Photo by Tampa Bay Times. Click to see the source.

Someday, perhaps a decade from now, when we’re all looking back at how far the Tampa Bay area has come, we’ll look back and remark at the key role that Café con Tampa played. Every Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. in the Oxford Exchange’s Commerce Club, Tampa’s most active, engaged, involved, and well-dressed citizens gather to hear important topics given by interesting speakers while enjoying a delicious breakfast in beautiful surroundings.

Friday’s speaker at Café con Tampa was Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum, who’s campaigning in the Democratic primary and aiming to become Florida’s next governor.

Photo by Yours Truly. Click to see at full size.

It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to attend Café con Tampa, as work and my speaking and conference schedule have kept me busy. This was the first one I’d been able to attend in weeks. It was good to be back.

Traffic and a shortage of parking spaces (there’s a lot of construction around Oxford Exchange) meant that I missed the first twenty minutes of Gillum’s appearance. As I entered and paid my admission — $12 well spent, in my opinion — I was told “You’re in time for Q&A…the best part!”

Photo by Yours Truly. Click to see at full size.

I walked in just in time to catch a rather aggrieved older gentleman asking where Gillum got the notion that the law preventing former felons from voting even though they have served their time in prison is a relic from the days of Jim Crow. Gillum, who’s probably no stranger to this sort of question, explained the true intent of this kind of voter disenfranchisement with great aplomb and considerable charm.

Photo by Yours Truly. Click to see at full size.

Among the other topics discussed were:

Photo by Yours Truly. Click to see at full size.

Near the end of his session, Gillum talked about the traditional greeting of the Masai people of southern Kenya and northern TanzaniaKasserian engeri?, which translates as “And how are the children?” He pointed out how that greeting underscores the high value that the Masai assigned to the well-being of children, and how much better we all could be if we adopted the same attitude.

Note: There’s a little more to the greeting “And how are the children?”. According to this 2012 Guardian article, the typical Masai greeting is sopa, which translates as “Hello”, and it’s the start of a long greeting process which can include “How is the homestead?”, “How is the weather?”, “How are the cows?”, and “How are the children?”. This isn’t all too different from conversations that any one of us may have had here in North America, where the question “And how’s your family” is likely to come up. Still, the fact that the use of “How are the children?” as a greeting is surprising enough to be a memorable rhetorical device while “How’s business?” isn’t illustrates where our priorities lie.

Photo by Yours Truly. Click to see at full size.

As with most Café con Tampa gatherings, there were more questions than time for them. The questions continued in the atrium, with Gillum surrounded by all manner of recording devices:

Photo by Yours Truly. Click to see at full size.

I went down to the atrium to hear the questions they were asking Gillum, and in the process met with two gentlemen from St. Petersburg’s ACT (Arts Conservatory for Teens): Herbert Murphy and Alex Harris, who spoke at Café con Tampa a couple of weeks ago. They saw the accordion — which I bring to events like this because it starts conversations — and we got into a great conversation about music, technology, and where the two intersect. Herbert and I even talked about having me do a presentation with their students, and I’d be more than happy to take them up on that offer. If you want to meet interesting people in Tampa Bay, and possibly collaborate with them and start something potentially great, you should check out Café con Tampa.

Café con Tampa is a weekly gathering where people interested in the issues that affect Tampa Bay and the world beyond meet to learn and share ideas with interesting, entertaining (and sometimes infuriating) guest speakers. It takes place every Friday between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. in the wonderful setting of Oxford Exchange, a combination of restaurant, book store, gift shop, co-working space, design studio, event venue, and one of the best “third places” I’ve ever set foot in. It’s attended by an interesting audience that’s often a mix of movers and shakers from the worlds of arts, business, academia, and government, and put together by local heroes Del Acosta and Bill Carlson, President of the communciations agency Tucker/Hall. Admission is $12.00, and it not only lets you into the event, but also gets you Oxford Exchange’s delicious breakfast spread. If you want to see interesting presentations and have great conversations with some of the area’s movers, shakers, and idea-makers — myself included — you should attend Café con Tampa!

Here are Café con Tampa presentations that I’ve written about: