f/k/a‘s cracked investigator, sleuthEsq (try saying that
three times after a few mimosas), was a little late filing
his first Sunday Brunch Potluck report. Here are the
highlights, in time for dinner:
In an attempt to brief Pres. Bush on the planned May 1st
work stoppage and demonstrations by supporters of the
American immigrant community, new White House Press
Secretary Tony Snow is rumored to have played the DVD
version of “a day without a mexican” (2004) for G.W. Also
available in Spanish, as “Un Dia sin Mexicanos,” and directed
by Sergio Arau, the film was broadly panned (with a 30 out of
100 score at metacritic.com). But, the scenario is surely one
that will help enlighten our Decider-in-Chief. As IMBD notes
in describing a day without a mexican:
Tagline: On May 14 there will be no Mexicans in
California.Plot Outline: One day California wakes up and not
a single Latino is left in the state. They have all inex-
plicably dissappeared, chaos, tragedy, and comedy
quickly ensue. (view trailer)
Sure, immigration is a very complex subject (see, e.g. Washinton Post,
“Immigration’s Bottom Line, April 30, 2006; “Hispanic Media Split on
May 1 Boycott,” New America Media, April 24, 2006), and one movie
might not do the topic justice. Nonetheless, the film’s weaknesses
might be just what our White House is looking for:
“. . As satire, however, the film is toothless. It doesn’t ask the
important questions of why the situation continues. It’s satisfied
to point out an injustice without going any deeper, satisfied to
remain infotainment, distributing some facts amid the laughs that
may make a few people ponder but won’t necessarily ruffle any
feathers.“Perhaps it is the filmmakers’ intent to make that one bold statement
¦#x2014; “Notice us! Appreciate us!” ¦#x2014; and then move on. There is some-
thing to be said about keeping a politically charged message simple,
but it also feels safe and geared to maximize the box office.”
Kevin Crust, L.A. Times, May 14, 2004
“A Day Without a Mexican plays like a Twilight Zone episode
conceived for Mexican television and padded out to three times
its half-hour storyline. Its narrative conceit will entertain for a
while, but eventually you will long to disappear with the rest
of the Mexicans.”
Marjorie Baumgarten, Austin Chronicle, Sept. 24, 2004
On a related topic, the ever-practical folk at Not One Damn Dime, sent me (and
thousands of others, of course) an email today declaring their support for tomorrow’s
“Great American Boycott.” With their usual perceptive grasp of economics and
politics they declare:
If the anti-immigrant politicians and hatemongers are right, that ‘immigrants
are a drain on society,’ then during the day on May 1st, the stock market
will surge, and the economy will boom. If not, we prove them wrong once
and for all. We know what will happen!
With their usual fine sense of what is politically doable (and morally correct) they
assert: “We will settle for nothing less than full amnesty and dignity for the millions of
undocumented workers presently in the U.S. ” The f/ka Gang confesses: NODD has
a big mountain to climb, after their first Not One Damn Dime Day silliness — before we
will be able to take them seriously. [see our prior post]
Martin Grace regularly, they would have been way ahead of the learning
curve this morning, when trying to digest “Insurers Retreat From Coasts:
Katrina Losses May Force More Costs on Taxpayers,” by Spencer S.
Hsu (April 30, 2006).
RiskProf Martin Grace “prof grace”
Although the WaPo article — which reports that many insurers
are refusing to write homeowner’s insurance in high-risk areas —
and RiskProf‘s entire Hurricanes page, for those who want to
understand the economics and politics of the insurance game
(and impress their friends at cocktail parties). update (May 2,
2006): RiskProf has added “More on Consumer Disadvocay”
May 1, 2006).
Evan Schaeffer had high praise this week for a book by (p/i defense)
(ABA Press, release fairly imminent 2006). We were intrigued by a
book that promised to be curmudgeonly, witty and informative about
the art and science of practicing law, and which Herrmann claims:
“became an instant cult classic among law students and law
firm associates. It is among ABA Publishing’s fastest-selling
books of all time.” (emphasis added)
You can only imagine, therefore, the let down, when we discovered
on the ABA webpage for CGPL that “This product is not yet available, but
can be pre-ordered.“ Also, the “where to buy” button at Herrman’s law firm,
that there must be other “channels of distribution” and lots of pre-orders.
Amazon.com says “This item has not yet been released,” while noting
a “September 30, 2006″ publication date.
Are we being too curmudgeonly to ask how a book that has not yet
reached more than a handful of readers/reviewers could be called “an
instant classic.” Doth pre-orders a classic make? More like “imminent
classic,” don’t you think”? It is a strange bit of puffery — and sounds like
lawyer hyperbole, to me. Of course, that should be a topic covered in some
detail in Herrmann’s book.
afterthought (May 2, 2006): Prof. Yabut left Your Editor a note
last night saying: please check out Meaning #6 in the American
Heritage Dictionary (4th Ed. 2000) for the word “cult.” Okay. Now,
I understand: The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Practicing Law is already
an “instant classic” among:
“6. An exclusive group of persons sharing an esoteric,
usually artistic or intellectual interest.
The f/k/a Gang swears that the above blurb is in
no way sour grapes for the fact that Curmudgeon’s Guide has
snuck ahead of this weblog in the Google results for the query
update (May 2, 2006): Mark Herrmann saw the discussion at Evan’s Illinois
Trial Practice Weblog and this site, and sent Evan an email, which resulted
in the following update by Evan:
An update: I received the following email from Mark Herrmann on 5/2/06–
I saw the exchange on the blogs about the release date of The
Curmudgeon’s Guide to Practicing Law.
I’ve contacted ABA Publishing, and the publisher has now fixed
the website to indicate that the book is in fact available and being
The pre-orders alone, however, had been enough to move the book
to the ABA Web Store’s “Best Sellers” list, so, not surprisingly, I
side with you in the bloggers debate.
Almost makes a guy want to come out of retirement and do a little cross-examin-
ation. The numbers intrigue me [e.g., what does it take to get on the ABA
"Best Seller's List"? How many law students are coming across with the $34.95
to join the Curmudgeon cult?] And the definitions, too. Of course, since we don’t
use emoticons around here, we don’t know whether Mark realizes that — in addition
to giving his book some good publicity, Yabut-style — this blurb is one curmudgeon
pulling another’s leg. Mostly.
Thanks to Language Log‘s astute and amiable Mark Liberman for answering
our lamenting query from Friday: Why do so many news broadcasters…
end their show by saying “we’ll see you here tomorrow”? In “Out-of-time, out-of-
body seeing and hearing” (April 30, 2006,) Mark harkens back to the homey-
interactive, un-canned, feeling created on radio by the late Hank Williams, in
his Health & Happiness Shows, Mark notes that Williams ended with:
If the Good Lord’s willing and the creeks don’t rise, we’ll be sure
to hear from you again”. That’s pretty much the radio version of the
inverted meaning in TV closings like “We’ll see you here tomorrow.”
Mark continues: “It’s clear enough, I think, why Hank said “we’ll be sure to hear
from you again” and not “you’ll be sure to hear from us again”. In the first place,
he’s making a promise for himself and his band — it would be strange and even
rude for him to try to commit the listener to tuning in again. He could have promised
that “we’ll be sure to play for you again”, but that would highlight the very thing he
wants to overcome, the one-way, non-interactive nature of the medium. He’s trying
to make listeners feel that he’s right there with them, taking in their requests and
their reactions as if he were playing a live roadhouse gig rather than a canned radio
I’m always fascinated by the way two (giving myself the benefit of the doubt)
mentally competent speakers of the same langague can come away with very
different interpretations of the same words. For example, for me, “we’ll be sure
to hear from you again,” sounds exactly like Hank is rudely trying — in Mark’s
words — “to commit the listener to tuning in again.”
Mark ends with:
Hank chose an image that emphasized the empathy he wanted to feel,
and if he strayed a bit beyond the strict bounds of logic, surely an
author of “one-breath poetry” can forgive him.
To me, by skewing the meaning of the words, instead of saying something factually
true that invited the listener to come back, Hank — and I’m a fan of his music — is
manipulating the feelings of the listener and making our language a bit less useful
as a tool of communication. Surely, if Hank tried his “But, I’ve been here with you
all night” baloney with a sweetheart, from out of town, she’d call his bluff. And maybe
sing “Your Cheatin’ Heart.”
I really do enjoy the virtual conversations with Prof. Liberman, but I have to make a
dissent from his last clause: “if [Hank] strayed a bit beyond the strict bounds of logic,
surely an author of “one-breath poetry” can forgive him.” Mark needs to read the
page he has pointed to (“is it or ain’t it haiku?”). Haiku is all about saying what your
physical senses are perceiving – what you actually see, hear, taste, touch, smell.
If done right, haiku is not a poetic genre that uses artifices and imagination to achieve
Speaking of haiku and late-breaking news, the latest edition
today. As usual, it has three haiku each from more than a dozen
fine haiku poets, plus a number of other special features. Here are
a pair of poems from our Honored Guest Andrew Riutta
it comes and goes
without a sound
not one fossil
among these stones
graveyard parking lot
here’s a teaser from John Stevenson
- and a sample from Tom Clausen
a weathered cross
nailed to the tree
April 30, 2006
April 29, 2006
Why do the good people at True Majority.org (whose goal f/k/a endorses)
need to whitewash the role of Democratic politicians in our Nation’s rush to
war in Iraq? True Majority has started a campaign to bombard Democratic
Leaders with the demand that they “Not Be Fooled Again” regarding Iran. They
should instead stand up against the Bush Administration’s plans and arguments
for bombing Iran over its future nuclear weapons. Their Petition to Democratic
Leaders (such as Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid) says:
Please, use all the influence you’ve got to convince Democrats to
find sufficient backbone to withstand any and all pressure from the
President or anyone else to go to war with Iran.
We wish we would could agree that they were duped and bullied – that it was
credulity and cowardice that got Democrats to vote to authorize the Iraq War.
However, as we opined in “may I speak frankly about my fellow Democrats?”
(Oct. 24, 2004, just prior to Election Day), it was political expediency that made
Democrats vote to invade Iraq (and to remain silent for so long about the “post-
victory” situation in that country). They believed that going against a popular
President and against public sentiment would cost them votes. So, they went
with the political tide.
The good news is that Democratic Leaders will almost surely do as True Majority
asks – “stand up, pound their podiums and loudly denounce the Bush Administr-
ation’s planning for bombing Iran.”
The bad news is that they’ll probably do the right thing for the wrong reasons. They”ll
come out for using diplomacy rather than bombs against Iran because voters are sick
of war and its many costs, and because the President is unpopular and far weaker. I’d
still prefer good policy and morality for their own sake — political integrity over political
expediency. Nonetheless, right now, playing politics should help prevent bombing Iran
(with its unimaginably bad unintended consequences). With politics in a democracy,
you’ve gotta be thankful for good policy, even when the motives are less than pure.
Come on, True Majority: don’t let the Democratic Leadership off the hook.
Don’t make excuses for them, like the parent of some irresponsible adolescent.
Why not just tell them: “Last time, you knew what was the right thing, but de-
cided to go for votes instead. This time, do the right thing, because it is the right
thing. The next thing you know, you may start speaking with moral authority
again and end up getting votes despite yourselves.”
“tinyredcheck” Another quibble with True Majority. We complain that
the Republican Administration doesn’t ask for the sacrifice
from Americans that is needed to achieve many important
political and social goals. Why then do you choose as your
website tagline this rousing call to commitment and action?
“Give us two minutes a month. We’ll give you a better world.”
The world does not need more laptop revolutionaries, who think
two minutes a month gets them off the hook for the actions of
their politicians and Government. See our post on “slactivism”
– activism requires action (Jan. 22, 2005)
and it’s lots easier for we members of the unwashed masses to understand than the
typical post at Language Log.
more from Language Log: Benjamin Zimmer at Language Log adds an interesting
twist to Spanish National Anthem story. With a better source than Washington Post‘s
David Montgomery, Ben says:
“I don’t know which ‘musicologists’ Montgomery consulted,
but Wikipedians have had better luck finding other foreign-
language versions of the anthem. So far contributors to the
Wikipedia page for “Nuestro Himno” have turned up examples
in German, Yiddish, Samoan, French, and Latin. Not only that,
they discovered a number of other Spanish versions reproduced
on the website of the U.S. State Department. (Will this page be
removed now that President Bush has declared that the anthem
“ought to be sung in English”?)
Ben wrote an additional post today (April 29), discussing at length the infamous
quote that is often attributed to Texas Governor Miriam Amanda “Ma” Ferguson:
“If the King’s English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it’s good
enough for the children of Texas!”
Ben tries very hard to exonerate Ma Ferguson. We don’t know enough about the
politics or religious philosophy of Gov. Ferguson to guess whether she might just
have meant this little piece of know-nothing bigotry and ignorance. [We blurbed
about the same quote (or slight variations) in our post get a good translator. Go
there to see examples of classic Japanese haiku that have received varied treatment
from various transators.]
Here’s a story from Schenectady County [NY] that I hope Walter
2003, and is still facing child pornography charges for incidents that took
place in his home in Niskayuna, a Schenectady suburb. Pearson is charged
with “videotaping and assaulting his children’s baby sitter, then 17, over the
span of seven months on 64 separate occasions,” taping each encounter.
In June, 2003, he allegedly also attacked a 15-year-old girl, who disclosed
the abuse to her mother, leading to a swift investigation and arrest. (Schen-
ectady Daily Gazette, “Papers allege porn record,” April 29, 2006, at B1,
access by $ubscription).
That’s just background. We learn in today’s Gazette article that the family
of the then-15-year-old victim filed suit on Monday (April 24), in New York
State Supreme for Schenectady County, against Pearson’s wife, Elyse Pearson,
seeking unspecified damages. The lawsuit was filed by attorney Kevin P. Hickey
According to the victim’s mother, the abuse took an emotional and financial toll
on the family. The Gazette states that Plaintiffs had already filed suit against
Abraham Pearson back in 2004. The newspaper reports her claims (at B3):
“The girl, the younger of the two victims, needed programs to
work through the trauma, and her parents feared she might commit
“The financial impact came as they fought insurance companies
after being told benefits for counseling had run out. Meanwhile, the
girl sill needed the programs, her family said.”
The Gazette “explains” the plaintiffs’ theory of liability:
“[Hickey] said Pearson’s wife knew or should have known
what her husband was doing and could have prevented it.”
Elyse Pearson’s attorney, Lawrence Gordon of the Glenville, New York firm
Gordon Tepper & Decoursey, per the Gazette, “confirmed that divorce proceed-
ings are ongoing,” in a suit filed by Mrs. Pearson. He declined to comment on
the suit.” After a three-year federal investigation, no charges have been filed
against Elyse Pearson and, the Gazette reports that “the federal prosecutor said
this week there is no evidence she was involved.”
We do not for a moment want to minimalize the emotional trauma suffered by the
young victim of sexual abuse. However, unless it can be shown that Elyse Pearson
knew what her husband was doing with those girls, it is difficult to agree that she
should be held civilly liable for not preventing his crimes. (And, the cost of disputing
health insurance coverage limitations seems a bit far afield, when looking at proper
damages in the suit.) Nonetheless, the Pearsons had a nice home in an upscale
suburb, so — Walter Olson might say — it would be very unAmerican to let Elyse
Pearson get away with part of the marital pie.
As dentist-haijin Lee Gurga surely knows: sometimes,
to heal, you need to take some bitter medicine, or
undergo a bit of pain.
silent prayer —
the quiet humming
of the ceiling fan
his side of it
her side of it
awakens me . . .
I wake you
two little boys
paddling like mad —
the beached canoe
the wooden bench
rows of corn
stretch to the horizon —
sun on the thunderhead
April 28, 2006
In a couple months, millions of Americans will ask the question:
“When is the 4th of July?“. The week, in Mexico and across the
United States, I wonder who’s asking “When is Cinco de Mayo?‘
[Last year, f/k/a celebrated on May fourth.]
Why do so many news broadcasters — from PBS‘s Jim Lehrer
to ABC‘s Elizabeth Vargas — end their show by saying “we’ll see
meanings, but not one of them is “be watched by you.” Giving
the broadcasters the benefit of the doubt, I suppose they might
mean “we’ll perceive or visualize you being in our audience.” But,
that’s stretching it.
- Prof. Yabut Language Rule of Thumb: If you are in the
business of communicating with words, try really hard
not to take a common word and use it in a way that is
the exact opposite of its most common meaning.
- The f/k/a Gang swears never to use the phrase “we’ll
see you here tomorrow.” We might say: “Come back
and let our StatCounter perceive your presence.”
- Maybe Mark Liberman at Language Log can explain (or,
more likely, explain away) this language problem for us.
updates (May 1, 2006): Scroll down to the little microphone at our
sunday buffet post (April 30, 2006) for our response to Prof. Mark
Liberman’s heroic attempt at Language Log to answer our plaintive
question about “see you here tomorrow.”
And, see Mark Kay’s supplemental post at Language Log (May 1, 2006),
which focuses on the “here” rather than the “now.” and explains that the
broadcasters are trying to maintain “the pretense of a face-to-face encounter.“
Prof. Kay (who is an expert in the fascinating field of color naming) concludes:
“It seems like a pretty harmless fiction: “I’m right there in your living
room, so I’m entitled to refer to your living room as ‘here’.”
Your Humble Editor must be overplaying the humilty pretense around here.
I sure hope that readers, including the Language Log professors, didn’t
come away from my original question above thinking that I wasn’t aware of
the pretense and manipulation that were the purpose behind the “harmless
fiction” of saying “see you here tomorrow.” My concern is with the resultant
deterioration in what I believe should be the primary purpose of non-fictional
and non-literary language: the accurate representation of reality. (Perhaps,
my legal and consumer-advocacy background makes me particularly sensitive
to manipulation of words aimed at the public. Haiku’s dedication to what is
actually being perceived by our senses surely increases that sensitivity.) Enter-
tainers, such as Mark’s example of Hank Williams, are expected to use pretense
in creating their product and enticing return customers. Are journalists?
Why would we want to make excuses for people who pride themselves on being
real journalists and presenting facts, when they are twisting the customary meaning
of words, merely to get the viewer to have warm fuzzies and return the next night?
It is not as if there are no easy, accurate alternative phrases that would also create
a feeling of intimacy or immediacy. Even if there weren’t, this member of the news-
broadcast audience just wants the facts — and wants words (especially those that
are used frequently) to have reliable meanings. As we stated at the top of this blurb:
None of the dictionary meanings of the phrase “see you” is “to be seen by you.” At
least, not yet.
After all our preaching, why oh why, would anyone name
their weblog The Blogs Blog, and compound the error with the tagline –
“Blogging the Blogs of the web” ? Talk about needing to go hug a toilet
Despite that quibble, we want to thank the editor at TheBB
for pointing to this humble weblog yesterday. However, and
despite not wanting to look a gift link in the mouth, it was
sort of strange for this weblogiverse old-timer to read this
ethicalESQ is a new blog by David Giacalone,
who promises a blog with practical treatment of
We’ve had so many birthdays by weblog standards, that
the Gang plans to let our 3rd pass by unmentioned in about
at Harvard Law School following the ABA’s very useful guidelines for
interview with Judge Richard G. Kopf (U.S. District Judge, Nebraska) on
legal weblogs as secondary sources of legal authority. via Inside Opinion)
Why did someone Google Elle Woods and cinematic role of women
lawyers>? And, was the first result -- our post discussing the article
"Court TV's 15 Most Memorable Movie Lawyers" (Hollywood Heat, by
Daniel Green, May 12, 2005), at all helpful?
When will we get a movie with a female law professor
protagonist? How about a female law professor-weblogger?
"questionDudeS" How much clout does Blawg Review have in the world of legal
weblogs? So many people link to each new edition of Blawg Review, that it
appears The Blawg Republic had to reverse its policy of ignoring f/k/a links,
as of the day we hosted Blawg Review #52. Here are the facts:
As explained on May, 24, 2005, in "free speech in the Blawg Republic,"
BR had stopped listing new f/k/a posts on Feb. 11, 2005, the day after
I left a Comment at Bob Ambrogi's website questioning the usefulness
of their service. Then, shortly after I wrote the "free speech" piece, all
of the links to f/k/a postings were removed from the Blawg Republic
Legal Ethics page, and only the actual name of the weblog and its tagline
remained. However, I hosted Blawg Review #52 on April 10, 2006, and
dozens of weblogs pointed to #52 and f/k/a. The next day, the Blawg
Review editor wrote me to say he noticed that the Blawg Republic started
picking up my posts again on April 11, 2006.
I hope mature heads at BR decided a little constructive criticism is a
fairly stupid reason to ostracize a weblog. We’ll see. Meanwhile f/k/a
is the only weblog listed on Blawg Republic‘s Legal Ethics page that
has posted in many weeks. And, it’s nice to see that we can still pretty
much fill up its Top Blawg Posts page just by pointing other weblogs.
Last question: Why have we waited so long to thank everyone
who said such nice things about BR#52 and f/k/a in general? We have
no good excuse — not even a note from our doctor (and believe me, Mama
Giacalone raised us all to be more polite). Here’s an official Very Big Hug
and Thankyou to all those who pointed to Blawg Review #52! Special thanks
go out to JD Hull at What About Clients? On days when making a weblog
seems too much of an effort, I shall click on this post from WAC? and keep
on typing, with a smile.
update question (April 29, 2006): Why are so many people so upset about
a Spanish version of our National Anthem, the Star-Spangled Banner? Eric
Bakovic at Language Log has a very interesting discussion of the “value” of
singing the new Spanish version, “Nuestro Himno” (“Our Anthem”). Eric
presents translations, and analyses of quotes from dissenters like G.W. Bush
and Francis Scott Key’s great-great-grandson George Key.
more: Ben Zimmer at Language Log adds an interesting twist
to this story. Using a better source than Washington Post‘s
David Montgomery, Ben says:
“I don’t know which ‘musicologists’ Montgomery consulted,
but Wikipedians have had better luck finding other foreign-
language versions of the anthem. So far contributors to the
Wikipedia page for “Nuestro Himno” have turned up examples
in German, Yiddish, Samoan, French, and Latin. Not only that,
they discovered a number of other Spanish versions reproduced
on the website of the U.S. State Department. (Will this page be
removed now that President Bush has declared that the anthem
“ought to be sung in English”?)
(5 PM): As promised, poetry from our ever-questioning,
always-insightful Honored Guest Pamela Miller Ness:
sharing our bread
with the one-eyed gull
Landing on the lintel
a pigeon and its shadow
after her death
instead of words
the ribbon I gave her
into a new book.
- from unrolling the awning, (Grand Central Station Tanka Cafe, 2003)
again father counts
the afghan squares
“beach picnic” & “landing” from her sequence “A Flutter of Wings“
“after her death from “where the lily was,” a haiku sequence (2003)
April 27, 2006
It’s a psychological cliche that bullies are really insecure, immature
cowards. The students of Jamestown, NY, are getting a good lesson
in the pathology of bullying from their very own Board of Education. The
courageous “victim” has just returned to finish her assignment, but the
bullies on the Board have more mischief in store for her.(scroll to the end
As we reported in our post on Feb. 1, 2006, the object of the school
board’s bullying for the past few years has been their fellow Board
Member Deann Nelson, Ed.D (who was represented by Your Editor’s
brother, Arthur J. Giacalone, in the federal first amendment suit,
Nelson vs Board of Education, WDNY, Jan. 27, 2006). What set off
Board President Joseph Pawelski and his posse (Members Timothy
Thomas,Joseph DiMaio, Laurel Lucas, Thomas Pope, and Christine
Schnars) was the insistence by Dr. Nelson that the Board do more than
merely rubber-stamp special education placements.
The proper placement of students has been a primary focus
of Dr. Nelson her entire time on the Board (see, e.g., Buffalo
July 24, 2003.)
Deann Nelson had the temerity to claim the right to actually read each
Individualized Education Plan [IEP] before voting to approve or reject it.
The custom of the Jamestown Board, however, is to take action on each
IEP based solely on a one-page summary — called a “board action sheet”
– prepared and forwarded to the Board by the Committee that prepared the
The response of the Board bullies? They insisted that IEPs
could only be read by Board Members at the School Board
Offices, during normal working hours, with no copies being
Dr. Nelson complied with these restrictions and read hundreds of IEPs.
However, she also started to object to individual Plans and voice concern
over various systemic problems and irregularities in the evaluation process.
The response of the Board of bullies? As described in detail
here, they passed a resolution on September 14, 2004, prohibiting
any board member from reading the Individualized Education Program
(IEP) of a district student, in the process of deciding whether to approve
or disapprove the IEP. The Board Member must rely solely on the brief
summary written by the Committee that prepared the IEP.
Dr. Nelson also asked to see Board records on amounts spent on outside
attorney fees. Denied that request, she filed Freedom of Information requests,
which were repeatedly refused over many months. The State Secretary of State
finally intervened on Deann’s behalf, telling the Board it had the legal duty to dis-
close that information. The Board again stalled and stalled. Finally, they called
Dr. Nelson and made an appointment for her to come to their offices, where she
would only be allowed to read the materials. Dr. Nelson, a diminuitive grand-
mother, arrived for the meeting, bringing a bagged lunch and expecting a long
day of reading.
The response of then Board Secretary Karen Peterson?
She kept Dr. Nelson waiting for hours and then told her the
papers would not be ready that day. When Nelson asked what
was going on, Peterson started screaming that she was being
“intimidated.” Dr. Nelson then followed Peterson into her office,
attempting to calm Peterson down and get an explanation.
Peterson continued yelling and other personnel called the police,
who came and arrested Dr. Nelson, charging her first with harass-
ment and then with felony unlawful imprisonment of Peterson
in her office (because she had closed the office door when enter-
ing the room).
The Board immediately held a press conference, charging Dr. Nelson with
causing a fight that required her arrest. As a result, Jamestown and Buffalo
media gave one-sided coverage blaming Dr. Nelson for the incident. See, e.g.,
wgrz.com, “Jamestown School Board Member Arrested, Nov. 4, 2005; and
WKBWNews7, “Member of Jamestown of School Board charged faces charges,”
Nov. 7, 2005, which began: “Police say a member of the Jamestown School
Board, needs to learn a hard lesson, in the law.”)
The Board Bullies managed to soil Dr. Nelson’s reputation, without ever letting
her see the materials mandated to be disclosed under the State’s Freedom of Infor-
The further response of the School Board? They scheduled
a disciplinary hearing charging Dr. Nelson with official misconduct.
Among the enumerated charges, in addition to the arrest, was
the claim that Dr. Nelson takes too many notes at Board meetings,
thus intimidating other Board members [there's that "i-word" again;
somebody must have had it on a spelling test last semester].
Originally scheduled for December, the hearing was postponed
to await action on the criminal charges.
On March 23, 2006, the county grand jury refused to indict Dr. Nelson on the
charges of false imprisonment, and the charges were dropped. (Jamestown Post
Journal, “Nelson Not Indicted on Criminal Charges,” March 24, 2006). Yesterday,
April 23, 2006, Dr. Nelson attended her first Board meeting since December, having
recused herself from Board activities until the criminal charges were resolved. (See
Jamestown Post-Journal, “JPS Names New Bush Principal,” April 27, 2006)
The response of the School Board? Per the Post-Journal:
“Joseph Pawelski, Jamestown board president, said Wednesday
the public [official misconduct] hearing will now be rescheduled,
but no date has been set.”
But, of course she’s misbehaving: Deann Nelson is still asking questions, taking
notes, reading relevant documents (when allowed to see them), and generally
making her fellow School Board members feel insecure and inadequate, and —
yes — intimidated, by doing the job she was elected to do. We would understand if
Deann decided to resign from this intolerable situation. But, we hope she’ll stand
up to the bullies.
afterthought (April 29, 2006): Is this just another example of the local/schmocal
phenomenon we discussed in January 2005 — with local government bodies being
populated by far too many fools and knaves? If you’ve got stories, feel free to share
them with us.
Meanwhile, here are some resources that the Board might consider
reading and taking to heart:
- “Bullying Recognition & Response for School Employees” from Safe-
- “Bullying in Schools: Adult action can improve school safety;” and
“When our own children are bullying, what can we do?“, from the extensive
child is the bully?,” begins:
“Children who bully in this way need safer tools for getting what they
want, better skills for handling the disappointment of NOT always
getting what they want, clear boundaries about what the rules are for
behavior, and consistently enforced consequences for breaking those
sidewalk ants the boy
in the howling wind
under the full moon
the snowman, headless
on the bus
the teenager pulls out a mirror
and adjusts her pout
from Almost Unseen (Brooks Books, 2000)
a palm frond suggests
there is a breeze
April 26, 2006
We all hate paying over $3 per gallon for gasoline. It seems to
Your Editor, however, that some of us have far better reasons for
complaining than others. Indeed, most of us should be pointing
our fingers at ourselves, and at most of Middle- and Upper-Class
America (and the residents of similarly affluent nations), before we
complain about petroleum companies that are profiting too much
or politicians who are doing too little. (See, e.g., Washington Post,
“Bush Calls For Probe Of Rising Gas Prices,” April 26, 2006)
When it comes to products that we all use and need, the marketplace makes all of us very interdependent. Excessive demand is bound to create painfully high prices for both sinners and saints. Energy Gluttons cause pain for everyone in the marketplace — for themselves and for the Energy Thrifty, who cannot escape the marketplace results of their wastrel countrymen (and fellow inhabitants of Earth). In my not-particularly-humble opinion, the following folk are among the people who should not be complaining very loudly about high gasoline prices:
- anyone who purchased or leased an automobile for
personal or family use in the past decade that achieves
less than 30 mpg on the highway (exception: the truly
poor who bought as gas-efficient a used car as possible)
- anyone who purchased a home in the past decade
that has more than 500 square feet per resident (that
number is probably too high, but I’m trying to be lenient)
afterthought (April 29, 2006): As if it needs to
be said, this list should include:
- anyone who travels by private jet
- anyone who has not made serious, good faith efforts to
engage in car-pooling for getting to work or schlepping the
kids to and from school or social activities
- anyone who has enough disposable income to buy one or
more $5 cups of coffee daily, or who only drinks water pur-
chased in small bottles.
On the topic of high gasoline prices, the people in the first two categories
above should consider offering apologies rather than complaints. It’s their
American dream that is fueling our energy nightmare. [Yes, of course, there
are exceptions, and people who do not have meaningful choices, due to their
particular situations. See my customary implied disclaimers.]
My own neighborhood is high-density urban, with a broad spectrum of
social and financial strata intermingled. Residents go from the down-
and-out living in Single Occupancy Rooms at the YWCA and YMCA (who
often don’t have vehicles), to college kids living in small apartments, but
driving $50,000 cars (many of which are gas-guzzlers); to the working poor
with rusty old cars living in tiny apartment units; to professional families and
ancient widows living in large, poorly-insultated, pre-Civil War houses, and
driving any thing from Priuses, and Mini-Coopers, to large SUVs and full-
sized, granny-drivin’ GM cars.
Frankly, some of my neighbors have not earned the right to complain very
loudly about high energy prices. We have, at least, greatly reduced gasoline
consumption by choosing to live in town, rather in sprawling suburban locations.
Choices count; choices add up.
Ever wondered how much “nature” your lifestyle requires?
You’re about to find out.
This Ecological Footprint Quiz estimates how much productive land and water you need to support what you use and what you discard. After answering 15 easy questions you’ll be able to compare your Ecological Footprint to what other people use and to what is available on this planet.
CAUTION: THIS QUIZ MAY SURPRISE YOU, SHOCK YOU, OR MAKE YOU THINK. PLEASE REMAIN CALM…BUT NOT TOO CALM!!
Am I trying to make Americans — like you! and sometimes me! — feel guilty about their energy choices? Yep. The fact that “everybody does it,” shouldn’t make irresponsible lifestyle choices acceptable. The fact that we do some recycling should not get our consciences off the hook. And, it shouldn’t take the current voter revolt to get “conservative” politicians like local U.S. Representative John Sweeney (R-Clifton Park, NY) to support CAFE mileage standards for the very first time. [see this story]
update (Earth Day 2008): Many of the above links relating to your ecological footprint are no longer working. For a related exercise, I suggest checking out your Carbon Footprint, which is a measure of the impact our activities have on the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases we produce. It is measured in units of carbon dioxide. Earth Day (or any day) is a good time to calculate your carbon footprint. At Carbon Footprint.com you can also calculate the (incredibly large amount of ) CO2 you’ll use by flying to a destination.
rising gas prices–
an attendant changing numbers
in a pouring rain
In Ecological Footprint of Nations – 2005 Update, you can learn a lot about how American consumption compares to other nations, and is a major contributor to the ongoing, unsustainable use of the Earth’s resources. For example:
- On a global level, humanity is exceeding its ecological limits by 39%. That means that at present rates of consumption,” we would need 1.39 Earths to insure that future generations are at least as well off” as the average inhabitant of Earth is now.
- However, if everyone on the planet consumed as much as North Americans, we would need 8 Earths to insure that future generations are at least as well off as we are now.
- That’s because, North America has an Ecological Footprint per capita that is 5.93 times greater than the amount of biocapacity available per person on a sustainable basis globally.
– More than 90% of America’s immense Ecological Footprint comes from its use of fossil energy. “As was noted in the 2004 Footprint of Nations report, wealthier nations tend to run negative ecological balances, largelybecause of the high degree of correlation between affluence (expenditures) and fossil fuel consumption.”
Thanks to our large cars and homes, only two nations — the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait — have per capita “ecological deficits” (negative ecological balances) greater than that of the United States. The next closest “deficit” nations are Belgium/Luxembourg, whose ecological deficit is 30% smaller than ours per capita, and Netherlands, which has an ecological deficit 37% smaller than ours.
on the freeway–
the skywriting drifts
Belgium and the Netherlands may seem like energy martyrs to the average American, but I think you’d agree that their standard of living is not too shabby. Compared to the rest of the world, our consumption choices — what we consider to be our birthright and the indices of a “successful” life — are simply irresponsible. Who is responsible for the painfully high cost of energy? His/her reflection is coming back at you from the rearview mirror of your gas-guzzler and the steamy mirror in your home’s third bathroom.
p.s. Why does this newscast annoy me? When our local Fox23News tv affiliate did a
spot on April 24, 2006, called “Finding more fuel efficient vehicles,” it went to
Langan Motor Car, in Schenectady. We got to hear how “drivers are trying to
adapt” to high gas prices, with Langan’s Assistant Sales Manager, Jeff Keene,
saying, “We’re seeing a lot of people wanting to get out of SUV’s.�” Keene added:
“They come in specifically looking for the mileage but also for the all wheel drive.”
Langan Motor Car sells Audis (and Porsches). Why aren’t I getting all misty-
eyed for the poor consumer?
update (April 29, 2006): npr‘s Morning Edition tells us that “Gas Prices Drive Some to Reconsider Habits,” April 28, 2006. This morning (April 30), the npr Saturday Weekend Edition had a piece you can hear here, that basically says people are still complaining, Lattes in hand. On April 27, npr Q&A on gasoline prices, that does a good job of explaining the why’s and how’s of oil and gasoline pricing, and that included the following:
Is there any evidence that people are starting to change their habits in response to higher prices?
When you ask drivers at the gas station, “Are you trying to conserve?,” they invariably say they are. But weekly data from the Energy Department show that we’re still using more gasoline than we were a year ago. It’s likely that the pace of growth has slowed because of the high price.
It also appears that people shopping for new cars are paying more attention to fuel economy than they were a few years ago. Buyers of hybrid and fuel-efficient diesel cars are already eligible for tax breaks, and this week President Bush called on Congress to expand those.
update (May 4, 2006): “ftc unveils its high-test oil and gas info website” (The Federal Trade Commission announced its new Oil and Gas Industry Initiatives website today.)
morning bird song –
my paddle slips
into its reflection
beach parking lot –
where the car door opened
a small pile of sand
toll booth lit for Christmas —
from my hand to hers
No news is, alas, not always good news in the frivolous-litigation bizz.
A month ago, we wondered whether the newsless passing of a reported
court date in the noisy-condo-bathtub suit of Smith v. Peterson meant that
the suit had been dropped by loyal-son lawyer Sheldon Smith, or settled
(after a little suasion from his partners at Denver’s Holland and Hart). For
more details on the facts and “law,” see our prior post from Feb. 28, 2006,
among her many talents, she can dig for interesting news to satisfy her
curious readership. Suz went to one of the primary sources, defendant’s
lawyer and friend, Michael Dowling. Dowling told her that nothing has
happened in the case and that the newspaper article got it wrong — March
22 was not a hearing date, but merely a status tickler for Denver District
Court Judge Ronald Mullins.
With Suz and Walter, and even Prof. Yabut, on the case, rest assured
that you will be among the first to learn of any further developments.
p.s. In an email late last night (well, late on the East Coast),
Suz mentioned that she and Dowling discussed f/k/a’s coverage
of Smith v.Peterson. We hereby offer our official invitation to
Michael Dowling to drop by with a Comment or send the Editor
an email, with any insights or perspectives to offer on the case
or our commentary (don’t worry: confidences are strictly held
spider in the bathtub –
she wants it caught
and brought outside
As Vitaly Friedman asserted last year, “The stage is set for the biggest tech
battle in years: the antitrust lawsuit filed by AMD against rival Intel.” Last week,
various sources noted that a Timeline has been set for the AMD/Intel case. (see
April 22, 2006). TechReport noted
“A protective order designed to limit information disclosure in order
to protect trade secrets will be submitted on May 22. The parties
will meet again in September to agree on a trial date, and the cut-
off for document production will take place on December 31, 2006.”
While others are reporting on surface issues, the American Antitrust Institute‘s
Senior Fellow, Jonathan Rubin, has prepared an 18-page analysis titled
(April 25, 2006), which “describes the federal court case of AMD v. Intel, providing
background on the industry, on the case itself, and on the international context of
the case and of monopolization doctrine.”
“The primary purpose of this AAI Briefing Paper is to highlight the signifi-
cance of AMD v. Intel as a case that will affect virtually the entire high-
technology sector of the global economy while at the same time it will
have a dramatic effect worldwide on the jurisprudence of the law concerning
dominant firms. This AAI Briefing Paper provides background both on the
case itself and on a variety of developments in the monopolization field that
provide further context.
In addition, tomorrow, Thursday (April 27, 2006), Jon Rubin, Bob Lande, and AAI
President Bert Foer will do a telephonic press conference to summarize the paper
and take questions from the press.
update: The telephone press conference will be held:
11:00 a.m. EDT (8:00 a.m. PDT) on Thursday, April 27th
– Dial-in: (866) 814-8478
– Outside the USA: (703) 639-1371
For more information, contract
Jonathan Rubin, author of the Briefing Paper
Bert Foer, AAI President
phone (202) 276-6002
or Prof. Robert H. Lande (U. Balt. Law)
a battle royal
scrawny frog, fight on!
to the rescue
in plum blossom scent
they stop fighting…
in plum blossom scent
they stop fighting…
in cherry blossom shade
fighting the mountain wind
April 25, 2006
Today, I learned a great new-to-me Yiddish word: “sitzfleish.” The Ariga Glossary of Yiddish Expressions gives this definition:
Sitzfleish – Patience that can endure sitting
(Lit., sitting flesh).
Please let me use it in a sentence:
“If New Yorkers do not display heroic amounts of sitzfleish, the State may be empty long before Election Day, November, 7, 2006.”
Why do my fellow residents of New York State need great infusions of sitzfleish? Think (a) Spitzer; (b) TV ads; and (c) “New York Is Losing People at Fastest Pace in America,“ New York Sun, by Daniela Gerson, April 20, 2006.
Eliot Spitzer — for whom I will almost certainly vote, should he receive the gubernatorial nomination for the Democratic Party, as now seems nearly inevitable — has been flooding our airwaves and cable lines with election ads for well over a month. The ads are so self-congratulatory, self-righteous, and self-consciously serio-heroic, that I appear to have only two options to salvage my sanity [and supper]: 1) watch no commercial television until after Election Day, or 2) move far beyond the reach of Spitzer’s campaign ads.
. . . . . .
Frankly, I don’t think I have the sitzfleish necessary to subject myself to more Spitzer2006 television ads. Luckily, I listen to virtually no commercial radio, so radio-induced nausea has not been a problem.
- the noun spitzer is a sharpener;
- spitze is acuteness, the pinnacle, a sting or a prick;
– the verb spitzen is to nib or sharpen.
Candidate Spitzer is indeed way ahead in all the polls, But, his ads are nibbling away at the enthusiasm of a growing number of his supporters. Already seen as ” a sting or a prick” by his opponents, Spitzer may soon be seen as His Nibs by television viewers across the State, most of whom can never hope to have enough sitzfleish to sit through Spitzer2006 camgaign ads for the next 5+ months.
Mark Gilbert has pondered “The unintended economic consequences” of Eliot Spitzer’s actions as NYS Attorney General. I worry about the demographic consequences, as we all head for the nearest State line. Blitzfleishers heading for the exits.
One of my fellow New York State haijin, who might just hit the highway, is Ithaca’s Tom Clausen.
the load tied down –
her painted toe nails
on the dashboard
always takes his time
the custodian watches
the floor dry
an old man
waves at the rain
of a dream
zoo safari trail…
ant caravans travel
If you’re volunteering for the Battle of the Blang, you should check out
tonight’s lengthy update to Sunday’s post “that blankety-blank‘ new word
‘blang’. ” The update was inspired by an interesting post at Language Log,
on Monday, by Mark Liberman, titled “Battling Blang” (April 24, 2006).
This post is “inspired” by the same piece. Mark starts “Battling Blang” with
a lengthy exerpt from from f/k/a, which is always nice. But, he spotted
a typo that I had missed in my piece and decided to “[sic]” it. To wit:
“the Old Gray Lady becomes an accesory [sic] to languicide.”
This got me wondering about implicit and explicit, rigid and loose, policies
for when to use the adverb “sic,” which you surely already know stands for
“Thus; so” and is (per the American Heritage Dictionary, 4th Ed., 2000):
“Used to indicate that a quoted passage, especially one containing
an error or unconventional spelling, has been retained in its original
form or written intentionally.”
Coincidentally, “Sic.” happens to be the abbreviation for (my ancestral home
of) “Sicily,” and for “Sicilian.” Ironically (or is it?) sic is also a transitive verb
1. To set upon; attack. 2. To urge or incite to hostile action.
Mark, being a scientist, certainly had no ill-intent when he sicced me. He
merely wants his readers to know that the error/quirk was in the original.
For most webloggers, however, I’m afraid that “siccing” is meant to attack
or embarrass the quoted author or to incite the reader to ridicule him or her.
Frankly, there might have been a time when I would use “sic”
offensively to embarrass an author who was in disfavor. However,
I hope that I’ve grown out of that stage — even if a bit late in life.
Indeed, your Humble Editor is quite often humbled by his many typos (and
grateful to a certain Anonymous Editor who often spots them and alerts me).
Besides not being a trained typist, I have always been terrible at proof-reading my
own writing — even when others counted on me to review their work and catch
their errors. Things have gotten much worse the past decade, as a number
of my aging fingers are often rather numb (due to numerous medical problems),
while my old eyes have a hard time with screen glare and trifocal interstices.
her divorce lawyer
listed under “Martial Law”
Perhaps for those reasons, and perhaps due to the sentimentality that comes
with finding out that one is no longer invincible or anywhere near perfect, I de-
cided shortly after I started this weblog that I would not use “sic” with a quote
when I am quite certain that I know which word was actually meant by the author
and there is no good reason to embarrass the author by having the misspellation,
typo or mindo pointed out to my readers. Instead of “siccing” the word, I simply
correct it in the quote. If there is a doubt as to what the author intended, I have
at times first contacted him or her to see if the odd spelling or odd word was in
In the example above, if quoting the phrase “an accesory to languicide,” from the
f/k/a blang post, I would have noted the context of felony and crime and concluded
that the poor old author surely meant “accessory.” Then, even at the risk of appear-
ing condescending, I would have edited the misspelled word and had no need for a
Am I just an old, myopic and decrepit softee, with lax standards? Am I making
excuses for my own sloppiness? (yes, of course) What do you do at your weblog,
or what do you expect as a weblog visitor? Peridemented minds want to know.
update (11 AM, April 25): A wise weblogging patroon, who is surely too
humble to seek attribution, has pointed out a particularly good reason to
avoid using “sic” in a weblog quotation: a correction — if not already made
by the original author — is very likely to be quickly made once spotted in the
original post or spotlighted elsewhere. Suddenly, it is the “siccer” who is in
error, with no apparent benefit to any of the parties involved.
an old man’s ways–
my backside warmed
by the wood fire
the old dog
looks as if he’s listening…
exposing my spine
to the spring sun…
April 24, 2006
Pop quiz: which Upstate New York city is often called “Old Dorp“?
[Hint: it is the now-disowned birthplace of GE] Give up? The answer
is my adopted hometown of Schenectady, New York. As f/k/a
explained a year ago:
Probably because the name Schenectady is tough on headline
writers, our City is often called “Dorp” or “Old Dorp,” from the
We also noted, per Encarta, that
“dorp” is especially used in South Africa to refer
to a village “perceived as backward or unappealing.”
That characterization drew no dissent from us at the time. But, Old Dorp
might be getting its high-tech aura back, and earning the name RoboDorp.
(You’ll have to decide for yourselves whether our image become more or less
The exciting law enforcement news around here last week was that our city
of 62 thousand souls now has two SPD police vehicles equipped with the
edge of license plate recognition technology. What does that mean? Mounted
atop a police vehicle, the device can:
“scan 20 license plates a second and then feed the information into
a computer database to determine if the owners are wanted for any-
thing from unpaid parking tickets and lapsed vehicle registration to
murder and robbery.” ["Plate Hunter 900 has your number," Times
Union [Albany], April 20, 2006 (reprinted here) ]
Granted, Los Angeles, CA, had the gizmo a year ago [see "Wired.com,
"Grand Theft Auto Meets Robocop," June 17, 2005], but Old Dorp just had
its credit rating raised above Junk Bond status a week ago by Moody’s, and
this old town has not been cutting-edge in anything this Millennium. It’s no
wonder then that the media is all a-buzz: See, e.g., Fox23News; and Daily
As its creator tells us: MPH900 not only “operates independently of officer on
board (in the background) – enhancing officer safety by keeping hands on the
wheel and eyes on the scene,” it also
“Works at patrol and highway speeds – oncoming differential speeds
of in excess of 120MPH and passing speeds in excess of 75MPH+
(truly mobile-to-mobile). LPR translates the read plate data into a
digital image, checks versus an onboard hotlist, and returns an alarm
back to the operator in milliseconds for appropriate interdiction.”
The Editorial Page of our daily newspaper, the Schenectady Gazette, was
thrilled — praising the City’s ability to recoup the $20K per unit in a matter of
months by finding ticket scofflaws, and opining:
“Being harassed for a relatively minor violation will make the
scofflaws feel less welcomed in Schenectady; and if that en-
courges them to clean up their act or get out of town, so much
The Gazette even added:
“Now that the city has embraced this kind of gee-whiz technology,
we have a suggestion for another: red-light cameras. They’re in-
stalled on traffic signals at busy intersections, and triggered when
motorists run red lights.”
[See "Let Big Brother do more to help police," April 21, 2006; scroll
to Reply 5]
Normally quite opinionated, the f/k/a Gang admits to having mixed feelings
about this high-tech RoboCopping. Part of me is quite pleased to think that
parking and motor-vehicle scofflaws will be under the all-seeing eye of MPH900.
And, having Old 900 checking plates so that patrol officers can keep their eyes
on more important dangers to the community is a big plus. [As part of a commun-
ity policing seminar I took two years ago, I spent a couple hours on a night shift
in a patrol car. The officer has a lot of responibility out there, and both needs and
deserves to be focused on things other than unpaid parking tickets.
As a small boy, I remember asking my dad whether
the red lights left a mark on the top of your car if you
ran a red light. I can't remember whether I was relieved
or disappointed when I learned they didn't.
Still, I am a bit concerned about privacy rights (not to mention the fact that
those who can park in garages are beyond MPH900's view).
The Times Union article states:
"Each computer can store up to 1.5 million license plates. Police said
they expected to keep a record of all scanned license plates, even those
that don't register a violation, in the off-chance the vehicle surfaces in
connection with a future crime. Police could then search computer files
to determine if a suspect's car was recorded in the vicinity of a crime
"That raises concern with civil libertarians. 'That would be a privacy
concern of ours,' said Melanie Trimble, executive director of the New
York Civil Liberty Union's Albany office. 'They shouldn't be storing infor-
mation on people who are perfectly innocent. They should wait until
the person registers a violation.'
"The Police Department was undecided about how long the records would
be kept, but [SPD Lt. James] Sanders said it was likely the memory would
be erased every 30 days.
What do you think? Don’t be shy (and don’t be as lazy as Your Editor). Please
think about the issues and let us know. Maybe Albany Lawyer weblogger Warren
Redlich, who handles lots of traffic tickets in the Capital Region, including Schenectady,
will post on this topic soon, or leave a Comment here.
(or, is he?) See “High Tech Scofflaw Detection System,” April 26, 2006.
“tiny check” Do you need a haiku break? For a little transition, I should
tell you that it has been raining a lot in Schenectady the past
few days. I’ve been wondering how two of our Honored Guest poets,
who work here in Schenectady, at Union College, have been coping
with all these April showers. Until I find out, proefssors Hilary Tann
and Yu Chang can speak to us through their haiku and senryu:
three brown cars
at the intersection
of the story
work load –
over the swollen river
the snake and I
a dead leaf
an earthworm twitches
a little closer
a man in cowboy boots
asks for latte
April shower –
making small talk
under the awning
back on shore
pouring from his swamp boots
Post Thoughts: You may have noticed over the past couple years, that I
never link directly to an online version of Schenectady’s Daily Gazette. That’s
because I refuse to pay $2.95 per week for an online subscription to the Gazette.
The paper — which was once available at no cost online — can be delivered to
your home for $3.50 a week. (The subscription page even explains that “7 day
delivery” includes Sunday.) Luckily, we have a community chat website that
often posts pirated images of Gazette articles that interest me. Still, it annoys
me no end that I can get “real” newspapers online for free (like the Washington
Post and the New York Times), but the folks at the Gazette — whose Circulation
Department often calls offering 6 free weeks of home delivery, no strings attached —
want money for online access.
A post from our Region’s main media weblog Albany Eye caught me eye and
my heart last week, therefore, when its anonymous Editor said:
“Let’s face it, most of you would sooner chop off one of your fingers
than pay for news on the web. Who can blame you —and what are
you really missing by not having The Gazette online, or the godforsaken
“Still, it’s frustrating that instead of figuring out how to profit from the
internet, papers like The Gazette slam shut the door. Is it possible to
make money with your newspaper on the web? Absolutely, but it takes
work. It also takes a new mindset from people who can’t get past the i
dea of you putting $.50 down on the counter. They call it a business
decision; I call it alienating your customers.”
Albany Eye even has a webpoll in the margin asking “How much are you willing
to pay to read The Gazette online?” So far, fewer than 4% of respondents would
pay anything at all (and quite a few have chosen the less-polite options offered in
the paperboy hits
the snooze button
Since the Gazette now offers “free” Saturday and Friday home delivery with its $1.50
Sunday subscription (which I do get for the comics, coupons and ad circulars), it
seems that the management wants more eyeballs badly. The web version is an exact
replica of the print edition. Albany Eye is right that, with a little work, The Gazette
should be able to make a profit from its website. With its grander competitor, the
Albany Times Union, offering a considerable amount of its content for free online, it is
difficult to figure out the Gazette‘s decision to hide behind an online subscription wall.
It’s going to be hard to shake our Old Dorp “backwards” image, even with new RoboDorp
gadgets, if search engines can’t even get to our newspaper of record. Does your home-
town newspaper have free online access? Does online availability keep you from buying
the hardcopy edition? Does f/k/a erode its readership everytime it mentions Schenectady?
p.s. She doesn’t use purple prose, but she sure does use purple: It’s Brandy Karl
and she’s hosting Blawg Review #54 at her bk! weblog this week.
April 23, 2006
We campaigned long and hard against the ugly-little word “blog,”
invoking our duty to a joint language legacy. Earlier this year, we
crusaded adamantly to make the word “blawg” obsolete. Today,
the f/k/a Gang proclaims its dissent over another spawn of “blog” –
with a Wired Age, Part 2,” by Lisa Belkin, April 23, 2006, in which
– perhaps trying to be a bit too hip and youthful — the Old Gray
Lady becomes an accessory to languicide.
Lisa Belkin’s column builds on one published on April 9th. The
focus is an important and interesting topic: the ability of language to
“make something official” — to “make a phenomenon fully exist.” As
we discuss below, Part I, focused on words that describe the down-
side of being overly-wired into modern technology. (Just yesterday,
Your Editor discussed the topic in a confessional post on over-posting.)
Unfortunately, Belkins ended the April 9th post with a request for more
technology-focused neologisms. The result was this paragraph in
“You have names for many other new concepts, too. The longest
list comes from Eve Fox (I can fit only part of it here), a vice presi-
dent for electronic campaigns at M&R Strategic Services in Wash-
ington, who suggests a whole new language. She calls it ‘Blang,’
as in ‘Web language,’ and says it is spoken by ‘Web wraiths’Comments Off
April 22, 2006
Once again, it seems to be time for Your Editor to take about “12 Steps”
away from my laptop. At least figuratively — and at least regarding the
punditry portion of this multi-personality-but-sole-proprietor weblog. As
it has on numerous occasions, contentious commentary is wearing me
Focusing on serious stuff even kept me from investigating K.D. Wenger’s
Opinions, until last night (thanks to a reminder at Suz‘s place). Although a
number of the mental illness categories seem potentially relevant to one or
more of my f/k/a alter egos, one passage from Wengler’s piece resonated
Delusional. Bloggers who exhibit any of the following symptoms:
Belief that blogging counts as actual scholarship; belief that blog-
ging makes them sexy or desirable; belief that Glenn Reynolds
actually reads their blog; belief that blogging is an acceptable
substitute for a social life. Surefire diagnosis: Bloggers observed
making repeated, insistent statements that “blogging is not a
waste of time.”
So, I am once again making a public promise to myself to keep the
punditry less intense — or at least brief — for the time being.
Will this attempt to bite off less and savor more do me any good? My
track record hasn’t been great when it comes to curing hyper-posting.
to keep commentary as short as our poetry have failed.” Wish “us”
Although my going public as a chronic member
of Webloggers Anonymous is somewhat daunting,
there is one very good advantage to writing under
one’s own name (and acknowledged pseudonynms):
Your Editor does not have to join certain nameless
editors at Anonymous Webloggers Anonymous.
Where would their chapter meet?
Advice for those Wanting to Spend Less Time Reading Weblogs:
Do not stop by Suz at Large (like I did late last night) for a
supposed “quick visit.” There is simply far too much inter-
esting material at Suz’s place — served up with attitude,
humor, and some great photography.
What can a humble editor say about a weblog
that is willing to use our entire tagline in its
“Worth A Look” blogroll, so its readers might
have a better idea what lies behind the vague
weblog name f/k/a? ["Thank you," would be
nice, David.] Suz‘s own tagline is on target.
Advice for those Wanting to Spend Less Time Reading
Do not purchase the recently-published, first annualized
$15, you’d get all of the poetry selected by THN‘s choosy
editors, for its quarterly online editions in 2005 – - about
500 haiku from 200 haijin. And, please, stay away from
the subscription information at the THN website.
its Readers’ Choice Award winners and commentary. As we
proudly announced back on Feb. 28, f/k/a‘s Honored Guest
poet Carolyn Hall received the Awards for both best poem and
favorite poet for 2005. Maybe, if you read a few of her haiku
here, you won’t be tempted to loll away a few evenings with
The Heron’s Nest (2005) in your hands, or THN’s website on
your computer screen.
in a foreign tongue
how to paint
the finch’s song
river rock —
the folded wings
of a damselfly
Advice to those Wanting to Make More Money as Prosecutors
(1) Do not meet with Boston Globe editors and reporters and
suggest “that because defense lawyers hold key positions
in the House, members may tend to be more sympathetic to the
defense bar.” [See Boston Globe, "District Attorneys seek increase
in funds:State's prosecutors say they can't keep seasoned veterans,
April 22, 2006]
[obvious ed. note: The lawyers on the Mass. House appropria-
tions and judiciary committees are the very people the D.A.s
must butter-up to increased appropriations.]
(2) Do try to find a few “seasoned veterans” in the lobbying business
to vet your publicity drives.
[more subtle ed. note: Forget your image of "Boston Lawyers."
suggest that Massachusetts lawyers can be rather oblivious
to decorum and appearances when they're trying to increase
their own incomes.]
(3) Do get more articles planted like this one in today’s Globe:
Prosecutors moonlight to make ends meet (April 22, 2006)
p.s. Where are our priorities? Until the evening news, we forgot today
is Earth Day. (Gees, even G.W. Bush remembered!) The same thing
almost happened in 2003: see earth to Yabut . . .
our Valentine cards
driving her Hummer
to the Recycling Center
April 21, 2006
With Overlawyered‘s Walter Olson taking a few days off for family duties, I guess it’s up to us to point you to today’s Tina’s Groove comic strip on Restaurant Lawsuits. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, April 21, 2006) It’s well worth a click. (Hey, buddy, can I borrow your placemat?)get Tina products hereearly Alzheimer’sshe says she’ll have . . .the usualdining aloneI rehearsea conversationhomeand homesickall-night dinerlate night –a waitress repeatsthe list of pies“dining alone” – Quiet Enough (Red Moon Press, 2004)“early Alzheimer’s” – Quiet Enough (2004). . .
One of the worst things about having the medical diagnosis (as I do) of “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” is not being able to point to specific, scientific/medical causes for the myriad symptoms. Because you do not “look sick” and can’t “prove” how worn out your body seems or how much pain you’re feeling, many of the people in your life – including some doctors — start thinking you are “crazy or lazy,” which can affect your own self-image.
“An intense battery of medical and psychological tests of people with chronic fatigue syndrome has strengthened the idea that the mysterious ailment is actually a collection of five or more conditions with varying genetic and environmental causes, scientists reported yesterday.“But though the syndrome comes in many flavors, these experts said, the new work also points to an important common feature: The brains and immune systems of affected people do not respond normally to physical and psychological stresses.”. . .” . . . in one analysis, the activity of just 26 genes did accurately predict which of six categories of chronic fatigue a patient had on the basis of symptoms and other clinical tests. That is a powerful hint that those genes — many of them involved in immune system regulation, the adrenal gland and the brain’s hypothalamus and pituitary gland, which are involved in the body’s response to stress – may hold clues to the disease variants.. . .” . . . It is already known, [CDC's Suzzane D.] Vernon said, that the brain can literally rewire itself — breaking old connections between neurons while building new ones — in response to various physical or emotional events. Chronic fatigue syndrome may be the result of a bad rewiring job, she said, in people genetically predisposed to handle stress poorly.”“The specific implications remain uncertain for now, said Vernon, a CDC molecular biologist. “But everybody’s finding the same five genes to be involved, which is pretty cool.”“Several other studies on the Wichita samples found abnormal levels of various hormones relating to stress and mood – additional evidence that chronic fatigue syndrome patients are genetically and neurologically “wired” to respond to stress abnormally.”If you think it’s strange to be thrilled finding out you may indeed have genetic abnormalities, you probably have not lived with the uncertainties of an illness like CFS. For now, I plan to chastise myself less when stressful topics (like here yesterday) seem to leave me so drained. I will also keep in mind this crucial sentence in the WaPo article:“The researchers predicted that continued clarification of the precise genes and hormones involved will lead to better diagnostic tests and therapies for the ailment, which may affect close to 1 million Americans.”. . .mom’s arthritis
acting up –
I take two Advil
her beer breath –
we both have headaches… by dagosan
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