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If you find out what it means, let me know

Sat., Nov. 22, 2008

I’d like to think that “Idaho” means something like “sun going up the mountain.” Or “gem of the mountains.” Or as Steve Crump mentioned in a Twin Falls Times-News column this week – the name of an Arapahoe chief who discovered “healing springs” in what’s now the north-central Colorado of Idaho Springs, population 2,000. The Idaho Springs Chamber of Commerce spreads the last yarn. Idahoan natives know that the origin of the state’s name is mysterious. Idaho, like Seinfeld, is a name about nothing. Idaho state historian Merle Wells said it doesn’t mean anything. Crump provides this background: “The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation creating Idaho Territory – what’s now Colorado – in 1861 before the territory’s delegate to Congress found he had been the victim of a practical joke, according to Wells … B.D. Williams discovered that his predecessor and political rival, George Willing, had simply made up the name … So on the eve of its passage by the Senate, Williams got a sympathetic senator to substitute “Colorado” for “Idaho” and the same bill was approved by the House.” Two years later, when Idaho Territory was carved from Colorado and Washington, the name Idaho resurfaced to replace the first new name considered, “Montana.” So who launched the legend that “Idaho” meant “gem of the mountains”? Joaquin Miller, an eccentric 19th-century poet from California, is the prime suspect. He told the story so much, Crump points out, that it made its way into Idaho history books. So Idaho means anything you want it to mean.

Call of the jury

Indeed, the Lord moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform. So does the Kootenai County jury system. At Huckleberries Online, Berry Picker JimmyMAC launched a thread by expressing relief that he wasn’t part of a panel selected for the jury trial that began Tuesday in the 2006 fatal accident on Kathleen caused by street racing. Jimmy knew several of the people involved in the trial and empathized with their pain. Some commenters responded that they’d never been called for jury duty. While Councilman Al Hassell was among those who are regularly called – in his case, about once every four years since 1972. Al served on a jury only once. Last time, he was dismissed because he said he knew every party involved in the case except the defendant. Why am I telling you this? Al just got another jury notice. There but for the grace of God go you and I.


The Idaho Statesman announced it will exercise restraint in reporting racist incidents that have increased since the election of Barack Obama. Quoth: “We will report on legitimate threats and incidents as they are investigated by authorities. Covering all incidents, however, is akin to reporting on bomb threats, which is something from which newspapers generally refrain. The coverage gives the perpetrators the attention they crave” … At Slate online, Bruce Reed, the CDA native and ex-Clinton advisor analyzed Walt Minnick’s victory over Congressman Bill Sali: “After a glorious, nearly uninterrupted three-decade run, Idaho’s 1st Congressional District has lost its claim as the nuttiest House seat in the country. The state just elected a new congressman so normal the nation won’t have Idaho to kick around anymore” … Boise State might whup UIdaho on the football field. But Moscow ranks No. 5 in the WAC, two spots ahead of Boise, in Coldwell-Banker’s ranking of “Major College Football Town’s Home Affordability” with an average home price of $280,000 to Broncotown’s $232,750 … You’d think that Hawaii would be No. 1 on the Coldwell-Banker WAC list with an average home cost of $780,000. But you’d be wrong. Honolulu is a distant second in home affordability to San Jose’s $1,077,575.

Parting shot

Tongue firmly cheeked, Berry Picker Idaho Escapee offered a PC version of the Pledge of Allegiance for those bothered by “under God” or other pledge issues. (This, in response to a move by parents to restore the pledge in a Vermont school): “I pledge allegiance, or not, to the flag of the United States of America, although because I’m reciting this oath, it doesn’t mean that I have to actually show any allegiance, and to the country for which it stands, one nation, divisible or otherwise, under God, or whatever I conceive God to be, or to no deity whatsoever, with Liberty and Justice for all, or at least for those who can afford Justice, otherwise they won’t really have any Liberty.” Yeah, I know, the words are so-so, and it’s hard to dance to.


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