by MICHAEL BOWEN & r & & r & Sanity Is Relative & r & & r & You know the type: crazed gleam in the eye, backing you into a corner and jabbering incessantly. Just the other night, one Binster got stuck on the bus next to Mr. All Talk All the Time. And did I realize how regressive Washington state's tax system is, and how little Bill Gates pays in taxes? Did I? Except that next, Mr. Logorrhea rattled off the exact margin of the Democratic majority in the statehouse, and the names of five state senators, and the amounts set aside for low-income housing in competing versions of the same recently proposed bill. And the thought occurred: How much better would our democracy be if more voters had this level of knowledge, along with -- admittedly -- just a teensy bit stronger social skills?

Four miles down the road, he was still complaining about taxes, and his ball cap was still askew. But in terms of civic engagement, he's an all-star.

A Gathering in July

The largest outdoor powwow in the Northwest is here for the 11th time, but did you even know that that's what "Julyamsh" means? (It's a blending of words from English and the Coeur d'Alene Tribe's traditional language, Schitsu'umsh.) It starts Friday at noon at the Greyhound Park and Events Center in Post Falls and runs day and night through Sunday. The first Grand Entry will be Friday evening at 6:30 pm: 50 drum groups and a thousand dancers. In an interesting sidelight, about 50 of those dancers will be here for the annual conference of the American Indian Physicians Association -- whose president, Dr. Jerry Ignace, is an enrolled member of the CDA tribe. Everyone's welcome, and it's free. Call (800) 523-2464 ext. 7382 and ext. 7276.

Brows Middle and High

Two notable authors at Auntie's this week: J.A. Jance reads from Damage Control on Monday, July 28, while Bainbridge Island's David Guterson (Snow Falling on Cedars) reads on Wednesday evening. In Guterson's The Other, a rich kid rebels by choosing an ascetic life on the Olympic Peninsula while his working-class high school pal opts for a conformist, bourgeois existence. Jance's novel has Arizona investigator Joanna Brady looking into an elderly couple's mysterious car crash.

American Original: The Life and Work of John James Audubon @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through Sept. 19
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