f/k/a . . . the archives

May 31, 2006

the haibun pundit: our premature arrival [and departure]

Filed under: Haiga or Haibun,Uncategorized — David Giacalone @ 7:54 pm

Welcome to the very premature unveiling of the haibun pundit. Due to recent chronic problems at the old Harvard-weblog webserver, the Editor of f/k/a has decided to rush this very imperfect version of his “next stage” weblog into online publication on the new, improved Harvard webserver. If you travel down this Home Page, you will find a few sample posts featuring the new theme and haibun format. [update:  See our About Page to follow the many changes in this weblog since this post was written.  Someday, the Editor hopes to start a separate, group weblog focused on Haibun Punditry.]

The f/k/a Gang has been searching for something a bit less stressful (and maybe even more effective) than sermons or commentary on the legal profession and its ethics. Frankly, being judgmental has become a physical and psychic drain on all of us here. We’d also like to become a bit more creative and “literary”.

Although we are going to continue to feature haiku and senryu from some of the very best haiku poets around — see our Guest Poet Archive — we are also going to experiment with the “haibun” genre, twisting it a bit to fit into a weblog format that focuses on current events and issues of interest to its Editor (and his alter egoes), and contains relevant links and blurbs.

“Haibun” is a literary and poetic genre with origins in 17th Century Japan and the writings of Master Haiku poet Bashō. It is a “linked form” — and, as the haibun editor of Simply Haiku magazine tells us, “The link is between narrative, prose sections and one or more haiku.” We will be presenting our brand of “haibun punditry” using prose and poems written by the Editor (aka “dagosan“), as well as published haibun written by our Honored Guest Poets.

winding road –

under the influence

of a strawberry moon

- by dagosanThe Heron’s Nest (VII: 4, Winter 2005)

Disclaimer: It is novel, and rather unorthodox, to try to use haibun in a “punditry” context, since haibun usually steers clear of drawing conclusions. Our hope is that it is the punditry rather than the haibun aspect if this union that will be influenced most by the linkage. In addition, please bear in mind that your Editor has never attempted to write “real” haibun before this week. This is, then, a bit of brash experimentation and perhaps a neophyte’s folly. It’s hoped that those who already appreciate the haibun genre will forgive my taking the name in vain. I hope to quickly get the hang of writing passable haibun, while figuring out how to do it in a weblog-commentary context.

We’re going to try to present “non-judgmental” commentary, using a haibun sensitivity — meaning “showing rather than telling,” and using imagery and narrative rather than conclusions, with as much brevity as is possible, given the DNA of the Editor. Most of our home-grown haibun will be followed by links to online news articles and other resources that are (more or less) relevant to the topic. Please let us know how this new approach to our weblog is working for you — and don’t forget that this website will continue to contain the Archives of both ethicalEsq and f/k/a.

full tummies

and empty bladders –

soon, vice-versa

…………………. dagosan from  simply senryu

p.s. Please bear with us on the formatting of this weblog. We have much work to do with the SideBar, as well as learning some of the basics, like spacing and font use, not too mention images. It’s like starting all over again, after getting too used to the prior weblogging software and architecture..

p.p.s. For a better idea of what good haibun should be like, please go to the website of Contemporary Haibun Online, which has lots of examples, a good definitions page and many helpful links. The haibun editor at Simply Haiku, who is now w.f. owen (one of our f/k/a Honored Guests), offered the following perspective on what makes good haibun:

Readers of this and other journals will see the wide range of styles of haibun writing. Content also varies. Traditional haibun have focused on such “mundane” topics as a broom or a gate or a tea cup. Some prose presents stream-of-consciousness, occasionally surreal, writing with little or no punctuation or conjunctions. Other prose sections use reflective memories set off by ellipses and still others offer autobiographical events. Bashô’s writings give excellent examples of one’s travels (e.g., Narrow Road to the Interior). All of these forms of haibun are welcome.

In the context of this flexibility, there are some common standards or criteria submitters should heed. One criterion is to limit or eliminate repetition of words and phrases. Just as haiku are sparse and economical in wording, so too are good haibun. This does not mean a haibun needs to be short in length; it means what is written is tightly constructed. Another major criterion for a successful haibun is a successful haiku. So many fine narratives fail to be good haibun because the haiku do not stand alone as solid poetry. And there is more. Haiku, especially those that end a haibun, need to relate to previous prose sections yet not be an extension of the prose. The oblique but relevant association between haiku and prose is the defining moment of the haibun. Thus, I look for an ending haiku that does not repeat, nor does it seem so unrelated as to leave the readers scratching their heads. The haiku link offers readers a springboard to multiple, and often unexpected, meanings. That is the challenge I hope you embrace.

Note: Your Editor will be on the road June 1st and 2nd and apologizes in advance for any tardy response to Comments.

“bad for the gander” — a haibun tale

Filed under: Haiga or Haibun,Schenectady Synecdoche — David Giacalone @ 6:53 pm

bad for the gander – a tale from the news, by the Haibun Pundit

She had me up at sunrise making “Save the Geese” signs. This must be penance for ogling that waitress with the great legs last weekend. Instead of picnicking, we’re spending a hot and humid Memorial Day on a picket line, on about the only shadeless stretch of road in the Village of Scotia, New York.

Back in 1989, a pair of Canadian geese were brought from a state game farm to our nature preserve. As the flock grew, we’d bring the kids to see them on Collins Lake — sitting on that knoll that’s covered in bird shit today. “Which ones are coming, Daddy?” . . . “Which are going?” . . . “Which ones live here?” By now, almost two hundred of them are considered “resident birds,” staying until the 50-acre Lake is frozen and coming back in the Spring

The beetle I righted
flies straight into
a cobweb

George Swede from Almost Unseen

Most Scotians love the idea of hosting those honking immigrants, but there’s so much goose excrement around Collins Park, no one wants their children to play here, and the Lake and beach had to be closed last summer. Still, the Wife and her Geese-Savers want to stop Mayor McLaughlin from euthanizing part of the flock. They say it’s inhumane and he hasn’t tried hard enough the past ten years to use nonlethal methods — like border collies and noise-makers, and the always-mysterious “egg-addling”.

Except for that one guy with the graying pony tail and Birkenstocks, who keeps trying to start those lame cheers, every male on this line — from 8 to 80 — looks dispirited, drafted, drug-here. It wasn’t enough that I gave up hunting geese years ago, to please her and the kids. Now I’m spending a perfectly good holiday baking my buns on the pavement, not grilling burgers in the backyard. Her crusade has become mine.

There is one consolation: my sweaty face and “Kinky Friedmant-shirt embarrass the crap out of her.

a spider spirals
down the drain –
the cricket keeps singing

- haibun by dagosan (with thanks to George Swede for “the beetle”)

In the News, see:

- – “Protesters reacting to decision to gas Canada geese(CapitalNews9, May 28, 2006) “The clock is ticking for 150 Canada Geese in Scotia, and residents are rallying against plans to exterminate the birds. The village is planning to control the geese population in Collins Park by trapping, and then gassing them. Officials approved the plan and said it’s the only way to stop the birds from contaminating the pond. But members of a group called, “Save the Geese in Scotia” said the plan amounts to cruelty to animals [and that "proven nonlethal management techniques are more effective and humane".] . . . “Protestors also said that instead of killing the geese they should be relocated. However, that approach would not be legal under current-state law.”

- – See the story as it unfolded and continued at Jerry Moore’s School Talk website.

guest haijin:

clouds of pollen
drifting through sunbeams —
a sparrow’s sudden flight

the web between stumps —
a tree frog answers
the pond frog

a white swan shakes her tail
at last the ripples
reach her mate

stones on the trail . . .
a downy feather
wafts in the breeze

by Michael Dylan Welch from Thornewood Poems at Captain Haiku’s Secret Hangout.

droping stone after stone
into the lake I keep
reappearing

seventeen
starlings on the telephone wire
sixteen

George Swede from Almost Unseen

* Don’t forget #59, the special Memorial Day edition of Blawg Review, hosted by their very own Edit.

May 30, 2006

silly woman

Filed under: Haiga or Haibun — David Giacalone @ 8:56 am

Such a silly woman. I had to change my dress before he drove baby-&-me to the hospital. As if maternity nurses never saw hemorrhaging or a bloody skirt. “I’ll be right back, Dear,” I promised, as I stepped off the curb and hurried to the house. Never said how dizzy I felt.

Such a silly man. Herbert did a little eye-roll, but didn’t argue with a woman going into labor. Then, I collapsed onto the street behind our old car. Herbert saw that gray Buick sedan passing by — with the license number he got almost right — and thought “hit-’n’-run.” Over and over, he yelled “Call 911! Call 911!” to everyone, and no one, his tears wetting my face.

Silly police. Hours of roadblocks and interviews. On the tv news, neighbors outraged over a “black driver” who would knock down a full-term, pregnant woman and keep on going. A “very nice woman” I was.

Silly Medical Examiner. It took him a day to figure it out. “ ‘The cause of death was not consistent with injuries being struck by a motor vehicle,” said Amsterdam Chief Thomas Brownall. She fell backwards at just the same time the vehicle was going by. Fell backwards, struck her head and died of those injuries.” [WNYT.com]

They did a C-section, but my baby was dead. They examined the gray car and it never hit any body. When I got to the hospital, my clothes had more rusty splotches. I can hear my mother wailing in Uganda. Such a silly woman.

midnight fire alarm –
stumbling toward
the wedding album

.. by dagosan

from the news:

- “Amsterdam Woman’s Death Not Caused by Hit and Run,” WNYT.com, Albany, NY (May 27, 2006) “So it appears when all is said and done, this was just a tragic circumstance where the initial report of the vehicle striking the person was inaccurate” said Chief Brownall. Police say it helps to know that what was believed to be a heinous crime is just rather an unfortunate event, but they add it doesn’t make the situation any less tragic.

- “Autopsy: Aneurysm killed mom“, Albany Times Union, May 28, 2006

afterwords: “Silly Woman” has been published in Contemporary Haibun Online Vol. 3 #3 (September 2007), and was selected to appear in the associated annual print journal “Contemporary Haibun, Vol. 9” (Edited by Jim Kacian, Bruce Ross, and Ken Jones, 2008), from Red Moon Press.

guest haijin:

under the
blackest doodle
something unerasable


stairway
descending into
her perfume

… by John Stevenson
“under the” – Something Erasable (1995)
“stairway” – Some of the Silence (1999)

May 29, 2006

“Anonymous Lawyer: a novel” — way too much of a good thing

Filed under: Book Reviews,Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 9:38 pm

[from f/k/a, May 23, 2006]

Anonymous Lawyer, the narrator-protagonist of the eponymous weblog and soon-to-be released novel, by Jeremy Blachman, has no problem verbally shredding young lawyers, when their work does not meet his expectations. Prof. Yabut and the rest of the f/k/a Gang, however, feel a twinge of regret writing this review of Anonymous Lawyer: A Novel, after reading an advance copy sent by Jeremy and his publisher, Henry Holt & Co.). The book will be officially released July 25, 2006.

We already know that Jeremy Blachman can write scathingly funny, satiric prose, stay in character, and attract a large following, writing frequent postings in the weblog format. Fans of AL (the weblog) discovered he was the author behind the cynical “fictional hiring partner at a large law firm in a major city,” when Sara Rimer of the New York Times exposed him in “Revealing the Soul of a Soulless Lawyer” (Dec. 26, 2004). Many were shocked that a third-year Harvard Law School student could convince readers in the thousands that he was an experienced lawyer-combatant in wars between and among partners and associates at an elite law firm.

What we didn’t know, when Jeremy turned his NYT unmasking into a book deal, was whether this law school graduate — who’d rather be an author than a lawyer — could also write a novel. Unfortunately, after reading AL:a novel, I still don’t know.

Yes, the book is filled with funny, bitter, and (at times, insightful) zingers, just like the weblog. But, there are far too many other aspects that are just like the weblog. The first-person narrator continues to be soullessly cynical, conniving and cruel — there is no background, no depth or growth to the Anonymous Lawyer character. The other characters, with the slightest of exceptions, are not even cardboard cut-outs; they are simply nicknames — e.g., the Jerk, the Guy with the Giant Mole, the Suck-Up, the Bombshell. As for plot, it is so thin as to be virtually transparent. We end up with a hard-copy version of seven weeks of the fictional partner’s weblog.

The publisher apparently wanted a novel based on the weblog (to exploit the publicity bonanza created by NYT and all the weblogger buzz). Someone with editorial authority decided to write the entire book in weblog form — using time-dated “postings” varying in length from a few lines, to a few paragraphs, and occasionally a few pages. It might be possible to use that format and write an excellent novel, but I believe this gimmicky choice made Jeremy’s task of creating a satisfying narrative, plot and resolution, and having satisfying depth of scene and characterization, much harder. (Having a true narratvie and storyline that was punctuated with weblog postings would probably have created a structure far more conducive to success.)

In his Acknowledgments, Jeremy thanks a long list of friends for “useful feedback on structure, character development, plot, and more.” If the “Anonymous Lawyer” had any friends, he would surely have been far less generous.

So far, there have been only a few “reviews” of the book:

Crime & Federalism‘s Mike Cernovich says he stayed up late and finished the book the same day he received it, and “The book is brilliant.” Howard Bashman’s wife, “tremendously loved the book.” Inside Opinions quotes Great Teacher Onizuka, at AutoAdmit, who thinks it’s “very funny” and “This is going to be the “One L’ for 2Ls, summer associates, and biglaw attorneys.” I am looking forward to Denise Howell’s review and hope that Evan Schaeffer will give us his frank opinion. [update: On July 5, 2006, Ernie-the-Attorney Svenson enthusiastically recommended the book as "friggin' hysterical."]

My own conclusions are far more like those of Prof. Ann Althouse than of those praising the book. Althouse said on May 21, 2006: “I’ve formed a resistance to it after reading 20 pages.” She explains:

“My resistance is based on the thinness and emptiness of the narrator, who is a partner in a big law firm. . . .

“I already understand the bad feeling many young people get from working in law firms, and I don’t want to spend my time reading what I think is merely projected hatred and not a real character that can be understood.”

Prof. Althouse wondered if readers could give her any sufficient reasons for reading further. Your editor felt a similar “resistance” after reading a couple dozen pages of the book — the feeling that there was nothing happening beyond the one-note satire of the weblog — but decided that we “owed” it to Jeremy to see if the book turned into a satifsying novel. [I even sought out definitions of "novel" -- like here, and there -- to make sure I wasn't being too harsh. At this point, I'm not even sure if you could call this a novelization of the weblog.]

Jeremy took a good thing, that offers a fun time to those interested in the arcane world of large law firms (and lawyer bashing), and gave us too much of it — without an expansion of scope and perspective that could keep a wider audience interested and satisfied. We like dark chocolate a lot around here, but on those dark nights when we eat not one large block candy bar, but five or six of them. the pleasure is soon replaced with the queasiness of obsession and excess.

My personal test for the success of a novel (and, of course, all I can give here is my personal reaction to AL: a novel, as I make no pretense to having expertise as a literary critic) is whether I want to share it with others — whether I want to lend it to them or recommend they invest the money and the time on the book. I can’t think of anyone in my circle of friends and acquaintances to whom I would hand this book with the expectation that they would enjoy or appreciate the experience of reading the entire book.

Yes, I might read aloud or email a sentence or two to a friend, for the wit or satiric insight. And, I might suggest they try the Althouse 20-page experience — which should suffice for getting the notion (and hopefully keeping them or their children from a life in BigLaw). Then, if someone new to Anonymous Lawyer found they enjoyed the humor or perspective, I would point them to the weblog, where they can get plenty more, in portions that are far more digestible, and without any great investment or literary expectations.

Scot Turow wrote a memoir of his first year in law school [One L], which had depth and vitality and genuineness. He then went on to become a highly-regarded novelist. I think Jeremy Blachman has a fine writing talent, but I do not know if he can find, structure, and sustain the depth and genuineness that it takes to write a good novel. I hope he gets the chance to do so, and to make a good living using his writing skills.

note: In migrating the weblog f/k/a to a new webserver in May 2006, we lost the original posting of this book review. Although we had the text elsewhere and are re-posting here, we do not have the Comments that were left by Evan Schaeffer and others (nor our reponses). Please accept our apologies. Previous Commentors are urged to repeat their thoughts and/or amplify on them at this reprise posting.

tagging along
with an ice cream cone
the senior partner

his quiet funeral—
a man who did
most of the talking

barry george, j.d.

mid-argument
the senior partner
has a senior minute

mid-argument -
opposing counsel crosses
her legs
……………………………………….dagosan

a yearling
inching into the field
woodland shadow

first blossoms
my cell phone
set to vibrate

lengthening shadows
a stray dog
joins the picnic


hands in pockets–
the wait to view
VanGogh’s sunflowers

…………………………. paul m

“first blossoms” – Walking the Same Path; Heron’s Nest VI:4
“hands in pockets” – Frogpond XXVIII:3 (2005)
“lengthening shadows” – The Heron’s Nest (2004)
“the yearling” – TIny Words, May 23, 2006

Haibun Preview

stranger danger
by roberta beary
IN SCHOOL THEY WARN YOU about stranger danger beware
of all the people you don’t know don’t walk near the bushes keep
to the open street watch out for vans with sliding doors at home
keep the door locked don’t open up for strangers and they leave
out the part about the one with you in a place where no locks
can save you for years too long to count.

funeral over
the deadbolt
slides into place

by Roberta Beary, Frogpond XXVIII:2 (2005)

* from the news:- WFIE.com, “IL Doctor kills children and Himself”
(Evanston, IL, May 28, 2006):

”Police say a man killed his two young children by throwing them off the 15th floor of a Miami Beach hotel, then jumped to his death. It happened Saturday at the landmark Loews Hotel in South Beach. “The children were four and eight years old. Police say the vacationing couple from Alton, Illinois were celebrating their tenth anniversary.”

– Also, Miami Herald.com, “Jumper ‘distraught’ in call” (May 29, 2006)

guest haijin:


thin winter coat
so little protection
against her boyfriend


John Stevenson
– from Quiet Enough (2004)

May 28, 2006

memorial day 2006

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 5:37 pm

 

Memorial Day –
choosing fireflies
over fireworks

 

the old protestor
sheds a tear
vietnam memorial

………… by dagosan

 

Arlington
the tulips
wide open 

 

 

slave cemetery
the tug of the current
on willow fronds

….. by Carolyn Hall
“Arlington“- The Heron’s Nest (Sept. 2005) 
“slave cemetery” – tug of the current; The Heron’s Nest V:12

 

the first notes
squeezed from bagpipes
small town parade
 

 

cricket sounds cometB 
rise into night
the names of the dead

 

…. by Peggy Lyles from To Hear the Rain

long after
the fireworks
        a shooting star

 

 

old tombstone
losing its name
faint first star

 

Burial
mourners and bare trees
blend

cometB ……. by George Swede
“long after” -  Almost Unseen (2000)
“old tombstone” – The Heron’s Nest
“burial” – The Heron’s Nest  (June 2005)

 

Remembrance Day
—my insignificant wince
at the misdirected poppy pin

 

old folks’ home
            the square of light
                             crosses the room

…………….. by michael dylan welch
“Remembrance Day” – The Heron’s Nest (Dec. 2005)
“old folks’ home” – Open Window [photo-haiku pairs]

midday heat
one petal of the red poppy
sways

…. by Pamela Miller Ness – “Summerday, Puget Sound”  cometB 

missing in action
she dusts off his guitar,
returns it to the shelf

…………………………………… by Randy Brooks
from WHR Vintage Haiku

 

Memorial Day-
overwintered in the sandbox
             toy soldiers

…………………………. by Tom Clausen

May 10, 2006

more than dandelions

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 5:50 pm

You can never have enough Morden haiku.  Your daily dose
can be found at Morden Haiku, and more are waiting to be un-
covered by browsing the f/k/a archives page for Matt Morden.
tiny check Here are a few samples from this week’s
Morden Haiku:
midday sun
a man gathers
dandelions
from a roadside verge

“tulipsMorden” larger/ in color

sudden storm
the tulips
brim over

(May 8, 2006)

dune slack
a dandelion clock
fades before orchids

dandelionClock
tiny check Here are a few more dandelion haiku from
our Honored Guests:
spring morning
my dog marks
a clump of dandelions
a dandelion field
today…wisps
beneath this moon

breezy afternoon–
dandelion ghosts
float past the daisies
dandelion

my eyes blur –
dandelion clocks
become sidewalk clouds                
                                   

potluck
We know that representing yourself often makes good sense in civil
legal matters. [An ABA study showed pro se litigants being more
satisfied with their results than those who had lawyers.]  Well, The
Baltimore Sun reports on an interesting new study about pro se
criminal defendants: 
“Erica Hashimoto, a professor at the University of Georgia
School of Law, recently set out to determine whether empirical
data supported the assumption most lawyers make: that pro se
defendants, as they are technically called, are “either mentally
ill or stupid.”
jailbird neg
“In the study, which is scheduled to be published in the North
Carolina Law Review, Hashimoto found that pro se felony defendants
in state courts were as likely as defendants with counsel to win
complete acquittal. In addition, they were more likely to be convicted
of lesser offenses – misdemeanors rather than felonies.”
The newspaper article has more details.  [via Mark Godsey at CrimLawProf]
dandelionClock

pretty face/ party face/ pouty face

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 11:34 am

It’s hard to say which is more annoying: the kneejerk accusation of sexism by women in politics, or their refusal to take responsibility for such a claim, after hurling implications at an opponent. Since the weekend, newspapers (e.g., AP/Daily Freeman, May 9, 2006) have reported that:

Rep. John Sweeney

“The former chairwoman of the [NY] state Democratic Party attacked Rep. John Sweeney [R - Clifton, Park] Tuesday for referring to a woman challenger as ‘a pretty face,’ saying such remarks are inappropriate.

“Sweeney . . . was criticized by Judith Hope for remarks he made over the weekend about his main Democratic challenger, Kirsten Gillibrand.

“You can’t take a resume and a pretty face from New York City and say to people this is good for you simply because we can spend a lot of money and raise a lot of money,” Sweeney told the Troy Record. [The Troy Record, May 7, 2006]

Ms. Hope opined that “Someone should tell John Sweeney that it’s 2006, not 1906.” However, per the Daily Freeman:

“Asked if she thought the comment was sexist, Hope said: ‘That’s for voters to decide’.”

Kirsten Rutnik Gillibrand

Hope continued, nevertheless, saying, “The remarks jumped out at me because I think it’s so inappropriate for the congressman to use. … As a woman in politics, I call on Mr. Sweeney to represent the district and address the issues and provide accountability and some answers.”

Hope also charged the congressman’s behavior has embarrassed himself and his constituents, apparently referring to Sweeney’s much-publicized recent visit to a frat party at Union College in Schenectady.  I’m with her on the frat party issue — but, I’ve never liked drunken frat boys! [And, note: If I lived in their district, I would surely vote for Gillibrand over Sweeney.]

The f/k/a Gang wants to point a few things out (and/or ask a question or two):

1] Sweeney never said Gillibrand was “just a pretty face,” and he surely could not do so, given her experience in both private and public sector law. She is currently a partner with Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP. Read her firm bio here. (now taken down) [update (Jan.23, 2009): Gov. David Paterson must think very highly of now-Congresswoman Gillibrand, as he has chosen her to fill Hillary Clinton's vacated seat in the U.S. Senate.]

2] For many persons, especially those past a certain age, being called “a pretty face” is a compliment — politics or no politics.

3] Kirsten Gillibrand is pretty, and being attractive is often a criteria used by political bosses, and the electorate, in choosing candidates.

4] If Gillibrand’s campaign wanted to play down her good looks, they should not be highlighting this photo, which surely shows her to great advantage over a popular New York politician:

K. Gillibrand & E. Spitzer

5] Men have also been called “a pretty face” — for example, Sen. John Edwards (D – NC), during his run for the vice presidency in 2004. See this PBS NewsHour piece, where John McCain and John Cheney poke fun at Cheney — and indirectly at his VP opponent Edwards:

KWAME HOLMAN: In Missouri, Arizona Sen. John McCain introduced the vice president with a jibe at the youthful-looking Edwards.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: In short, my friends, Vice President Cheney is not just another pretty face.

KWAME HOLMAN: Cheney followed up on the comparison of vice presidential candidates.

VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: Somebody said to me the other day that Sen. Edwards got picked because he’s sexy, good looking, charming. I said, “How do you think I got this job?”

You may recall, in addition, that Pres. George W. Bush mentioned back in Jan.2004 that Scott Reid, the senior strategist to Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, has “a pretty face.”

boxer smf

6] In general, unless something really important is at stake, a sense of humor is always a better reaction than a sense of outrage in the battle for gender equality. Next time Kirsten Gillibrand is called a “pretty face”, her supporters should consider lightening up, and singing Shania Twain’s rebuttal, “Not Just a Pretty Face” (lyrics).

7] In passing, we note this article from the Chicago Tribune, “Daddy material, it takes just 1 look” (May 9, 2006), which begins:

“Just from looking at a man’s face, women can sense how much he likes children, gauge his testosterone level and decide whether he would be more suitable as a one-night stand or as a husband, new research published Tuesday suggests.”

Of course, you the voter will have to decide its relevance to the rest of this posting and to charges of sexism.

p.s. Looks like it’s time to link once again to one of my very favorite comic strips by John Callahan. Go here.

afterwords: Click for more thoughts on what is or isn’t sexism and when playing the sexism card is appropriate (May 20, 2008).

on the bus
the teenager pulls out a mirror
and adjusts her pout

the son who
argues everything
I study his face in a puddle

droping stone after stone .ooh.
into the lake I keep
reappearing

on the face
that last night called me names
morning sunbeam

through a hole
in the fog billboard girl’s
radiant face

A sigh from her
then one from me—
two pages turn

……………….. by George SwedeAlmost Unseen (2000)

Peering into
the deep well, two boys
talk about girls

……………………. by george swedeThe Heron’s Nest (Dec. 2005) femaleSym maleSym

May 9, 2006

lawyers and cashews (and premium pricing)

Filed under: lawyer news or ethics,pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 9:59 pm

cashewSplitsEvery time I see IBM‘s “$8 jar of cashews” commercial, with its touting of “premium pricing” as “our Holy Grail,” I shudder. The commercial reminds me of Ron Baker‘s example of movie theater popcorn as an acceptable pricing strategy for professionals (discussed here and below), and of the promises from Baker and other gurus of lawyer value billing and law firm branding, that their techniques offer the key to unlocking premium prices from clients. (See many prior posts, e.g., “ethics aside”; ron baker: sensitive guy?; Brand LEX, and Value Billing or Venal Bilking? )

update: In this post at his Verasage weblog, Rob Baker mocks my worries about premium-priced cashews and admits he uses this commercial as a case study in his seminars.  He also offers this link to the 30-second IBM Mini-bar Commercial.

cashewsGthe nut factory

You probably know the ad, if you watch the talking-heads news shows. I’m most likely to catch it on Sunday morning, viewing ABC’s This Week. Not having a transcript (nor a photographic memory) for the ad, I must paraphrase:

A man in hotel room picks up a small jar of cashews, but returns it to the shelf on the room’s mini-bar. A voice-over tells us that it is quite a markup taking a $2 jar of cashews and selling it for $8. But, that’s premium pricing, which is “our Holy Grail.”

Meanwhile, the fidgety man goes back to the cupboard and picks up the $8 jar for his snack The announcer then says you can achieve such premium pricing by being there at the right moment — and, of course, that IBM has the resources that will allow you to reach that goal.

PlantersNutsG Planters Nuts

[As mentioned above, Ron Baker endorses the approach in this commercial and provided us with this link -- IBM Mini-bar Commercial.]

Of course, cashews already fetch a “premium price,” as shown by the tiny “$2 jar” seen in the IBM ad, and by our current Rite Aide weekly circular (May 7, 2006, at 10). Rite Aide has a sale price of $2.99 this week on various packages of nuts. For that price, you get 24 oz. of peanuts, 11.5 oz of Mixed Nuts and 9.25 oz. of Cashew Halves (not even whole cashews!).

Lawyers have a similar built-in premium for their services, as compared to most other service providers and workers. Among lawyers, too, there are firms analogous to whole, half and split cashews. Not satisfied with getting $2 for a tiny jar of “lawyer-cashews”, however, Ron Baker, his acolytes, and fellow gurus and hucksters, want to use value billing, price sensitivity, firm branding, and other modern marketing tools, to propel professionals into the world of $8-jars of cashews. [e.g., Suzanne C. Lowe, discussed here]

cashewSplits

In writing our post on price sensitivty, we looked at articles like “Pricing Strategies” (SmartPros, Jan.2000), and Hourly Billing Limits Profitabiltyby Ron Baker, and browsed in his book The Firm of the Future. Your Editor pointed out the centrality of price (in)sensitivity in Ron’s pricing strategy, as he campaigns against hourly billing and its”‘limited profits,” and we summarized:

Baker advises professionals to maximize their “leverage” over each client, maneuvering so that the client is far less price-sensitive. This allows the professional to charge “premium fees,” well over the amounts that would be yielded using the billable hour method, resulting in increased profits (and more leisure time for the professional). This is apparently Ron’s ethics-sensitive alternative to client dissatisfaction with hourly billing — fueled with a righteous theory, in which it is the billable hour that is condemned as unethical. The professional gets significantly richer and the client gets the subjective feeling of receiving more value.

Frankly, then, IBM’s cashews ad reminds me of the perils of value billing for the client.

Am I being unfair to Baker and his cronies by making the leap from IBM’s cashews ad to value billing by lawyers and charging clients similar “premium” prices? Well, two years ago, Matt Homann of the [non]billable hour called Ron Baker “an absolutely amazing visionary.” A few months ago, he did it again, handing his weblog over to Baker, to let him promote his new book Pricing on Purpose.

The very first chapter to Pricing on Purpose is devoted to explaining why movie theater popcorn costs so much — and to justifying the price. At page 2, Baker explains that the theater owner wants to maximize his profits and knows that some movie goers love popcorn more than others. Therefore:

“The purpose of expensive popcorn is to extract different sums from different customers.”

Amplifying on the explanation of economist Steven Landsburg, Baker explains that the movie-goer buying a ticket to the theater is buying “an opportunity set” — “an opportunity to enjoy the movie, or to enjoy it with popcorn.” This two-part tariff is, according to Baker, a form of price discrimination that increases overall welfare. Instead of charging everyone a higher fee to maximize profits::

“By engaging in price discrimination, businesses are actually increasing social welfare, and making more products and services available to the poorest members of society.”

We don’t want to sound cynical, but this saintly rationale just doesn’t ring true coming from Ron Baker — except for the maximizing profits part, and the strategy of charging more to those who are less price-sensitive (even if you have both fiduciary and ethical duties to avoid excessive prices). More important, price discrimination increases overall welfare when the seller continues to sell to all consumers, but Baker has no such intention — he is cherry-picking and pruning away clients who won’t pay premium prices.  Also, those paying higher prices have a decrease in their own welfare (and lose the ability to make other purchases with the increased portion of the price), which is absorbed by the seller.

This “visionary” has a track record and a paper/pixel trail:

In the Introduction to his The Firm of the Future, Baker “affectionately” calls a chart showing price sensitivity The Beloved Value Curve” [at 4]. He coos over his curve [at 5]:

scales rich poor neg “The curve shows the relative value added by the professional has an inverse relationship to the price sensitivity of the customer . . . For now, it is important to understand your firm is all over this curve for any one given customer, at any one point in time. The major mistake professionals make is in treating all customers equally by pricing their services with one hourly rate method, no matter where they are on the curve.”

In The Firm of the Future, and in the article Hourly Billing Limits Profitabilty“, Baker gives a tutorial on “pricing psychology, and emphasizes that “Regarding price leverage, the important point to remember is that you want to set prices when you possess the leverage.”

As an example of leverage, see Baker’s article “Change Orders: What a Concept!“, where Ron says:

“A favorite way to make the client insensitive to premium fees is the use of Change Orders when services are needed beyond those covered in the initial fixed-price arrangement [no kiddies, pricing can't really all be done up front]. ”

(Ed. note: those are Baker’s words in the brackets, not your Editor’s)

In “Change Orders and Innovative Pricing Methods,” Baker brags about the results he has seen from those using his pricing techniques: if properly “leveraged,” clients will offer to pay two or three times as much (sometimes ten times as much) as a professional’s regular fees.

blackboardAdd But, you ask, doesn’t that mean that the client is receiving more “value”? Well, take a look at Ron Baker’s idea of the customer getting greater value: In “Burying the Billable Hour,” he emphasizes that the following pricing strategy from Harry Beckwith is central to his theory of value and value billing:

“Like money, price talks. It changes perceptions. Price changes the actual experience of using the service: A high price actually improves the experience. Watch what your price says. Push price higher. Higher prices don’t just talk, they tempt.”

Still, you say, Baker doesn’t look out for the little guy — telling firms to discriminate in pricing so that the poor will also get needed services? Let’s let Baker answer you himself, with this piece of advice fromPricing Strategies“:

“. . . If you cannot conquer price resistance through educating the customer, then I would seriously suggest you not take the engagement. Never decrease your price in order to acquire a customer suffering from price resistance – that cheats your firm’s best customers, those who value what you provide, and subsidizes your worst customers, those drawn to you by price considerations alone.”

So, yes, cashews remind me of popcorn, and IBM’s promise to help you achieve premium pricing reminds me of Ron Baker’s similar siren call for lawyers.

The f/k/a Gang believes that the gurus of value-billing — along with those easily-tempted lawyers, who buy their books and attend their seminars, and applaud from their websites, in the hope of obtaining premium clients and fees (with both increased profits and more leisure time) — have forgotten or ignored the ethical and fiduciary duties of the lawyer to insure that the client is treated fairly (without manipulation), fully informed, and, in the end, charged a fee that is reasonable.

No, it’s not okay for lawyers to charge fees significantly higher than their hourly rates as an ironic response to client complaints that bills are too large under the hourly-fee system. Fiduciaries don’t manipulate clients to reduce their price sensitivity. Period.

The price of cashews in restaurants and popcorn in theaters are simply not relevant to our learned profession. If you want to “leverage” premium prices from the price-insensitive, please find a job outside the legal profession. And, please, don’t tell us that your premium fees themselves create client value, or that they are automatically an ethical improvement over hourly billing. Paying $50 or $150 for one of Ron Baker’s books, or many times that for his seminars, may soothe your conscience by telling you what you want to hear, but it is not like buying an indulgence that will absolve you of your sins.

Baker is right about one thing: better service will help create client loyalty and attract new clients. However, where I come from, excellent service is part of the regular fee.

tiny check More chestnut haiku from Kobayashi Issa translated by David Lanoue:

worm-eaten–
the best chestnut!
the best!

in mountain shade
rest without a care!
nut-less chestnut tree

big chestnuts–
the travelers stop
and gathe

fallen chestnuts–
the crow gets first
dibs

knocking chestnuts
out of the little garden…
thief cat


tiny check And, a reprise from last May, from gary hotham:

flashing ambulance lights–

rain still filling

every puddle

at the bus stop

our backs to the wind

the sunrise changes color

she comes back–

the ocean drips off

every part of her

huge trees in the park–
a different dog
chasing the stick

gary hotham

“she comes back” & “at the bus stop” – breathmarks: haiku to read in the dark

“flashing ambulance lights–” – Walking the Same Path (HSA 2004 Memb. Anth.)

huge trees in the park–the heron’s nest (April 2001)

cashewSplitsthe nut factory

the world today–
even for mountain chestnuts
a night watchman!

… by Kobayashi Issa, translated by David Lanoue

chestnuts from issa

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 2:16 pm


While I’m trying to write a post on cashews and premium pricing,

here are some priceless chestnut haiku from Kobayashi Issa

(translated, of course, by David G. Lanoue).

 

 

 


little chestnuts
pissed on by the horse…
shiny new


 

 


cat neg

 









grassy meadow–
letting the child harvest one
chestnut

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


ashamed–
eyes glued to the chestnut
beyond reach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 






a chestnut hit
an old man…
so the legend says

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

foolish cat–
eyes returning to where
the chestnut was

 

 

 


translated by David Lanoue    










HideGoTree

 

May 8, 2006

upl and the Ohio lawyers’ guild

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 6:28 pm

Thanks to Blawg Review #56, which is hosted by Point of Law this week, I learned today that another bunch of Ohio lawyers [prior post] is “protecting” consumers by protecting themselves from competition. Walter Olson writes for BR#56:

“If you set out to devise a case that would bring unauthorized practice of law statutes into public disrepute, you could hardly have done better than the Cleveland bar, which is seeking to punish a nonlawyer for representing his own autistic son in IDEA (special-education) proceedings–even though the father and son prevailed in the proceedings, undercutting any consumer-protection line of argument. Prof. Ribstein isn’t impressed with the bar’s action (“I am beginning to wonder whether it’s worth preserving any piece of lawyers’ monopoly on legal representation”), and neither is the Berkeley, Calif. blogger who posts at Bookworm Room. [But see: Jonathan Wilson, "Is Lawyer Licensing Necessary? A Response to Professor Ribstein, " May 8, 2006]

A similar case that is worth a look came out of Delaware, in 2000. In the Matter of Arons (Delware Supreme Court, 456 A.2d 867, 2000), cert. den. 121 Sup. Ct. 2215 (2001), the Delaware Supreme Court ruled that, by representing families of children with disabilities in due process hearings, Marilyn Arons and her partner, Ruth Watson, were engaged in the unauthorized practice of law (UPL). (related article) The local School Board had accused Arons of UPL — in a situation where the Board was being asked to pay the expenses of victorious parents, who had fought the Board over their children’s educational rights, with the help of Arons and Watson (and their Parent Information Center).

Public Citizen represented Arons in her unsuccessful petition for certiorari, which can be found here. One very important point was emphasized in Public Citizen’s cert petition — the experience and competence of the nonlawyers:

“[T]here is no question that non-lawyers like Ms. Arons and Ms.Watson are competent to advocate effectively on behalf of families with disabled children. To be effective, an advocate at an IDEA hearing must be familiar with the clinical aspects of the child’s condition (skills that lawyers ordinarily lack), as well as the rules governing the conduct of the hearing. [cite omitted] Non-lawyers with “special knowledge and training with respect to the problems of children with disabilities” are fully capable of presenting the parents’ case to the panel. Indeed, Ms.Arons and Ms. Watson obtained significant relief in each of the five cases at issue here, even though they were matched against members of the Delaware Bar.”

tiny check The same school district is involved in a case argued before the US Supreme Court last month (April 19, 2006), over whether Arons should be awarded fees for nonlawyer advice and advocacy in a disabilities case. See Murphy v. Arlington Central School District, 2nd Cir. 2005, and find a summary at WrightsLaw.com.

scales rich poor neg To learn more on the unauthorized practice of law (or its obverse: defining the practice of law), I’d suggest taking a look at our ethicalEsq UPL Page. The article Lawyer vs. NonLawyer,” by HALT’s Executive Director, Jim Turner, has a useful discussion on crafting a consumer-friendly defintion of the practice of law. (from Legal Times, Feb. 3, 2003, 2 pp, pdf.). And, HALT’s UPL page sets forth the principles endorsed by the consumer legal reform group for treating the unauthorized practice of law:

One of the most effective ways to increase consumer choice in legal services would be to abolish unauthorized practice statutes. As the simple and routine legal needs of millions of Americans continue to gounmet each year, it is critical that consumers be able to utilize independent paralegals and other nonlawyer resources.

At the core of HALT’s efforts to reform restrictions on unauthorized practice are three principles:

  1. The unauthorized practice of law means saying you are a lawyer when you are not;
  2. Innovative partnering between lawyers and nonlawyers is permissible with client consent after full disclosure of work and fee arrangements; and
  3. A client or customer complaint should be required before unauthorized practice of law proceedings can be initiated.

scales over

On the broad topic of professional licensing, there are many viewpoints. For example, see: Restrict Lawyers’ LicensesAuthored by attorney Ralph Warner, this Nolo.com Soap Box Column states that “A license to practice law is no guarantee of legal knowledge, skill or experience. Incompetent lawyers regularly mislead and defraud clients who rely on the promise of expertise that the lawyer label brings.” Warner concludes:

“When it comes to lawyers who sell personal legal services, a lawyer’s license should be limited to specific subject areas — for example, family law, criminal law, tax or probate. A separate exam should be given for each specialty. That way, an exam could test the skills and knowledge needed by a lawyer who wants to represent clients in a particular legal subject area.”

Protecting lawyers, not clients — In this article by George C. Leef (for the Cato Institute), the author argues that “The best means of delivering affordable legal services to the public with minimal risk of harm is through a competitive marketplace, backed up with remedies for fraud and incompetence. Professionals want to do competent work for their clients. Fear of failure and financial loss is a stronger deterrent to incompetent work than any licensing scheme” and concludes that Competition works as well in legal services as in other markets. But we’ll have to get rid of the UPL statutes to enjoy the benefits.”

The Objective of Professional Licensing — In “What is the Objective of Professional Licensing? Evidence from the US Market for Lawyers” (Nov 2004), Turin Univ. Professor Mario Pagliero finds that the objective of such regulation in the USA is explained by capture theory, rather than public interest theory, and that “licensing increases annual entry salaries by more than $20,000, ” with a total welfare loss of over $6 billion. (This link accesses an abstract, but the entire study is available with a free registration.)

Prof. Ribstein’s suggestion that no licensing might be a better alternative for clients seems rather extreme. For example, first moving to a disciplinary system that is not dominated by the legal profession seems more prudent [see our post "Should Lawyers Control Lawyer Discipline?," as well as the post "UK Gets Improved Lawyer Discipline System] The analysis given byJonathan Wilson in support of continued licensing rings true:

“My defense of lawyer licensing is not a defense of the status quo with respect to the various bars.More accurately, though, lawyer licensing is necessary because legal services are precisely the kind of good for which the market is an inefficient method of regulation. . .

“Corporate buyers of legal services do, in fact, have little need of state licensing. The corporate legal marketplace, if left to its own devices, would, in the long run, produce an efficient price and tend to wean out poor producers of legal services.

“A second market, however, is the consumer market. Consumers are generally ill-equipped to evaluate their own legal needs and are generally unable to evaluate the merits of competing producers.Consumers cannot evaluate competing price proposals . . .

complaint billF

“The current state of lawyer licensing may be flawed, but it is better than the state of affairs that would exist if lawyering was utterly unlicensed.” . . .Nonetheless, as can be seen in materials on our Access/Self-Help/Pro Se Page, the f/k/a Gang believes that much more should be done to enable consumers to handle much of their legal problems on their own. In addition, so long as the consumer clearly understands that a particular service provider does not have a law degree, and general consumer protection laws against fraudulent, unfair, or deceptive practices are adequately enforced, consumers should be allowed to choose nonlawyer providers. Consumers who want a “real” lawyer should have the protection of well-crafted and implemented licensing regimes. Informed choice and oversight by consumer-oriented regulators (not by the local lawyers’ guild), should increase options and price competition.

p.s. Thanks to Carolyn Elefant, writing at Inside Opinions, I learned this evening that, making some rather lame excuses, the Cleveland Bar has dropped its UPL case against Brian and Susan Woods, the parents who had (successfully) represented their child. See Cleveland Plain Dealer, “Lawyers’ Group drops claim against parents,” May 5, 2006; and NYT, “Nonlawyer Father Wins His Suit Over Education, and the Bar Is Upset,” May 6, 2006.

tiny check A haiku break with Prof. Randy Brooks:

missing in action
she dusts off his guitar
returns it to the shelf

empty farm wagon
a cell phone
buzzing under the hay

lock out . . .
workers burn the editorials
to warm their hands

- from World Haiku Review, Vintage Haiku

gramma hoes the beans
a weed clings
to her nylon anklet

door left open . . .
there he goes
with his kite

………….. from School’s Out (Press Here, 1999)

will we see you at IP Grab?

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 2:20 pm

Have you registered yet for IP Grab – The Struggle Between Intellectual Property

Rights & Antitrust?   The Conference, which takes place on June 21, 2006, at the

National Press Club, in Washington, D.C., is the Seventh Annual Conference of













bully2

Your Editor rarely travels outside of upstate New York, but tries to get to the AAI

annual conference each year (AAI’s president, Bert Foer, is a former boss and old

friend, and let me put together AAI’s online Guide to Antitrust Resources on the Web). 

I’m hoping that this posting will help bring some fellow webloggers of the IP variety

to the Confernce.


     tiny check  It would, for example, be great to meet the proprietors of




Patent Baristas, and many, many others.

aaiMastN

 

Here are IP Grab Topics and Participants::


Is There an IP Grab?
Harry First, Director, Trade Regulation Program,

New York University School of Law

 

Where is the Antitrust Modernization Commission

Heading on IP?  Michael Carrier, Associate Professor,

Rutgers School of Law-Camden

 

IP and the Collapsing of Aftermarkets
Bruce Abramson, President, Gordian Solutions and

Senior Consultant, CRA International







“ftcMasthead”

A Government Perspective on IP and Antitrust
Deborah Majoras, Chair, Federal Trade Commission

 

The EC, IP and Competition Policy
European Commission Representative


There will also be Break-out sessions to choose from: on Patent Tying  (with

economist Phil Nelson and Barry Brucker, President, Independent Ink, Inc.);

Standard Setting (with Howard Morse, Attorney, Drinker Biddle; and Jonathan R

ubin, Senior Fellow, AAI); and Aftermarkets  (with Gregory Gundlach, Professor

of Marketing, University of North Florida, Bruce Abramson, President, Gordian

Solutions, and Joseph Farrell, Professor of Economics, UC, Berkeley)

 

In addition, the Luncheon topic is “Fair Fight in the Marketplace;

Herbert E. Milstein, of Cohen Milstein Hausfeld & Toll, will receive 

an award for antitrust scholarship, and the AAI Antitrust Achievement

Award will be presented to Senators Mike DeWine (R-OH) and Herb

Kohl (D-WI), by Hon. Jonathan Leibowitz, Commissioner, Federal Trade

Commission.  

 

So, check out the registration information and see you there, on June 21.

 


tiny check  If you’re interested in Aftermarkets, you should know that AAI

is having a Symposium, by invitation, The Future of Aftermarkets in

Systems Competition, on June 20, 2006, the day before the conference.

An AAI background memo states:  

 

fragile neg

 

Why are aftermarkets important for antitrust? The choice of “aftermarkets”

for AAI

May 6, 2006

Madeleine, the Georgetown Mafia, and Me

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 5:58 pm

Over the past few days, I’ve been thinking about the remarkable change

 

in the role of women in the realm of diplomacy and international relations,

 

since I entered college in 1967, at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. 

 

AlbrightAlmighty

 

My musing was touched off by Madeleine Albright’s appearance on the 

 

Charlie Rose Show on May 3, 2006 (guest host Andrea Mitchell; $.99

 

video download from Google.com). Albright was touting her just-released

 

book, The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God and World

 

Affairs. More musing was sparked yesterday, when I heard that British P.M.

 

Tony Blair had named Margaret Beckett Britain’s first woman Foreign Secretary

 

(BBC profile, May 5, 2006).

 

 

Albright, the first female U.S. Secretary of State, mentioned that gender did not

 

seem at all relevant when Condoleeza Rice was named as President Bush’s top 

 

security advisor, nor when she was elevated to Secretary of State in 2005.  She

 

then noted that the State Department now had so many women in important staff

 

and policy positions, who have been educated at Georgetown, that they are called

 

the “Georgetown Mafia” within the Department. [Albright used the phrase to close

 

a commencement speech at Georgetown in 1999: "the best of luck and come to

 

the Foreign Service and join the Georgetown Mafia."]   

 

 

Read on for the tale of how a Georgetown Mafia came about.  Let’s look at

 

Albright’s path and my own:

 

 

AlbrightMug

 

 

In 1963, Madeleine Albright gave birth to twins girls (Anne and Alice) and, in 1967,

 

her third daughter (Katharine) was born.  For the next eight years, she was very

 

busy working on a doctorate from Columbia University (awarded in 1976), while

 

raising her children, serving on the board (and then as the first woman Chairman)

 

of the Beauvior School and working on the Muskie and Mondale presidential cam-

 

paigns.  From 1976 to 1978, she served as Chief Legislative Assistant to Senator

 

Edmund S. Muskie, and then left to take a staff position at the National Security

 

Council.

 

 

In 1982, Albright came to Georgetown to teach.  In Madam Secretary : A Memoir

 

(2003), she explains [at 99 - 100]:

 

“My charge at Georgetown was threefold: teach, create the Donner
women’s program [established "to encourage women to enter interna-
tional relations"], and serve as a role model for the young women there.
I believed that if women were to compete with men in the international
arena, they needed to receive an education that prepared them for every
challenge, including those no woman had faced before.”

 

In contrast, here’s my tale for the same time period:

 

1963 – 1967  newspaper carrier, high school student
1967 to 1971  student at GU School of Foreign Service
1973 – 1976  law student
thereafter — practiced law for 20 years, with no international
                relations subject matter;
currently – occasionally offer amateur punditry on international
                affairs issues; still wish there were more women around

 

Back to the issue of gender and international affairs:  When I headed off to

 

Washington, D.C., in early September, 1967, I had all the usual hopes and

 

worries of a college freshman.  One thing seemed strange about the SFS:

 

only 20 of the 220 freshman were female.  For a guy who was shy in the

 

dating depatment that was not a good sign.

 

          DAG71g
             dagosan 1971

 

Things moved rapidly at that time.  With the Vietnam War becoming a very

 

hotly disputed issue, many classmates found ourselves disillusioned with the

 

whole notion of — in the words of the SFS catalogue — “promoting and protecting

 

the nation’s international interests” through foreign service.  (see Washington Post,

 

“GU Foreign Service School Seeks Identity,” March 24, 1970, which noted a 21

 

percent drop in applications to SFS in the past year, and quoted an idealist 21-year–

 

old chap named David Giacalone, who decried the School “making us agents of Amer-

 

ican foreign and economic policy” and hoped SFS graduates could go out into the

 

international realm as “world citizens.”)

 

 

Several agitators (on a rather conservative and apathetic campus) started to 

 

seek more student input in course requirements and content.  My own inter-

 

est in broadening the notion of “international service” led me to run for the very

 

first elected student seat on the SFS Executive Committee, which was the School’s

 

policy-making board. [The first student on the Committee had been appointed the 

 

prior year.]  It was 1970. When I won (and I truly can’t remember if any one else

 

even wanted the position), I found myself in the lofty company of all the department

 

heads, the Dean, and a few other venerable faculty members.  It was a bit stressful,

 

especially since none of the other Executive Committee members looked like this

 

Luckily, my academic reputation was excellent, and my demeanor respectful, and

 

there were some friendly faces on the Committee, including the Dean. 

 

 

femaleSymN

 

 

By that time, I had learned that the paucity of female SFS students was not due

 

to a lack of applicants, but was caused by a quota — only 10% of the student body

 

was allowed to be female.  (This was before federal laws banned such gender dis-

 

crimination.)   My first proposal to the Executive Committee, therefore, was that

 

acceptance to the School be gender-neutral.   The reaction from the “conservative”

 

and “traditionalist” members of the Committee (even a woman or two) was strong

 

and emphatic:

 

“There are no jobs for women in the diplomatic field.  (E.g.,
Many countries would not accept women in American diplo-
matic positions.)  Therefore, it would be extremely unfair to
young women to hold out the false hope of careers in inter-
national relations by accepting them in large numbers to
the School of Foreign Service.”

 

I literally cannot remember how the voting broke down (I never kept a diary and

 

there were no personal computers, much less weblogs).  Nor can I say what argu-

 

ments saved the day — although I’m betting the sharp dropoff in applications had 

 

swayed a few minds.  Nonetheless, my proposal was eventually adopted.  The

 

oldest and largest school of international relations in the nation would henceforth

 

have a gender-neutral admissions policy. 

 

                     femaleSym “malesym”

 

The change was not quick enough to help my social life.  A decade later,

 

when Madeleine Albright came to the School of Foreign Service, and created

 

the Donner Foundation to encourage women to enter the field, there was a

 

student body at the SFS that had a significant female presence, and a sizeable

 

cadre of well-educated women were ready to enter into the foreign service, and to

 

take public, private, and nonprofit positions in the field of international relations.

 

 

Yes, the change in admissions policy and in gender equality at the State Depart-

 

were certainly inevitable.  Nonetheless, I’m proud to have played a part in helping

 

to lay the foundation for the Georgetown Mafia.  

 

 

If you educate them [and they take advantage of opportunities, work extremely hard, and 

 

have mentors]  they will thrive.  An important notion for many aspects of

 

our often unjust and unfair world.

 

 

podium sf

 

 

afterthought (10 AM):  You’ll have to decide for yourselves whether the following

 

excerpts from Albright’s Madam Secretary : A Memoir [at 100 - 101] are — or should

 

be — analogously applicable to the legal profession in the 21st Century:

 

“I taught classes on international affairs to women and men, drawing
on what I had learned in the Carter White House. . . . I had female
students play roles they wouldn’t have had at that time in government
and had male students report to them.  I invited women professionals to
discuss their varied and jagged career patterns to illustrate that the shor-
test distance between two points might not be a straight line.” . . .
“I discussed the difficult choices women face and implored my students
not to let others see the chips that might have settled on their shoulders —
especially during job interviews.  I spoke with passion about how women
must make sure not to push the ladder of success away from the building
after they have climbed to the top but must help each other succeed.”
[Ed. Note:  Is Albright being too hard on herself when she adds:]   podiumS
“I was confident about the logic of all this, but my shift in marital status
[with her divorce finalized] had in my own mind made me lose credibility.
When my students asked how I had managed to be married and have
children and work at the same time, I felt like a phony because I hadn’t
succeeded.”

 

p.s.  If anyone reading this post has further details (or any corrections) on the topic

 

of SFS’s admission quotas or goals concerning women, please let me know.

 

 

 

 

fund drive
the ivy covered building
has a new name
new dean
all blackboards
turn white
windowless classroom
the blank look
same as last term
around and around
learning the names
of one way streets
winfow box —
between flowering pansies
my daughter’s face
                                                                                                femaleSym

menudo: second helpings

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 1:08 am

Maybe I’ve had a little too much menudo e-soup today (tripe, hominy

and chili might tend to keep one up), or maybe I’m finding far too many

interesting things that I want to write about.  Whatever the cause, here’s

one more helping of weblog “small change” for the f/k/a faithful, as Cinco

de Mayo 2006 fades into history:

 

laptop in bed  30L Epiphany: An encounter today with the famous 3L web-

logger Ian Best of 3L Epiphany reminded me both that (a) thirty years ago

this week, I was “studying” for my 3L law exams and (b) it was a lot

harder back then for congenital procrastinators to practice their art. You

see, this morning, I finally got around to asking Ian to add f/k/a to his

list of legal ethics weblogs. [Yes, I, too, was shocked by its omission.]

About two seconds after I posted my Comment with the request, I got

an email from Ian saying “Thanks David!! I’ll add it as soon as I’m done

with exams.”

 

That got me thinking that Ian was obviously paying more attention to

his weblog than to his studying — looking for a reason to take a quick

study break.  Then, it hit me:


tiny check 30 years ago, you really had to work hard to find things to

occupy your time, other than actually studying for finals. 

No one — and especially no humble law student — had a

worldwide audience hanging on our next post, or Commenting

on our last one.  We didn’t have an entire internet of distractions

that could be found without even getting up from our desk or study

nook. 









quill pen

The Lesson: Dear Younguns, back then ,successful procrastinators were made

of a much heartier stock.  And don’t you forget it (even as we start to get a wee

bit forgetful).

 




long winter –

prayer bundles sway

in the cedars

 

    The Heron’s Nest (Nov. 2004)

 

 






late night rain–


he reads to me from the book


I read to him


 


       Mayfly #40 (2005)


 


  Billie Wilson 


 

tiny check Really need exam help? see our


 

“pleasevoteforusG”

see orig. at This Modern World

 

Greg Saunders (of The Talent Show) had a nifty graphic and a few well-

chosen words aimed at the GOP last week at the This Modern World weblog,

in his posting “If you can’t earn a vote, buy it” (April 27, 2006)   Noting that

Sen./Dr. Frist had floated the notion that most American taxpayers would

get $100 rebate checks to offset the pain of higher pump prices for gasoline,

Greg wonders:


“Didn’t he learn anything from dating?  Desperation isn’t attractive.

It’s pathetic.”








“pleasevoteforusN”

For a less colorful, but more thorough, analysis see: NYT,  “$100 Rebate: the rise 

and fall of a GOP idea” (May 5, 2006)










 

embrace small  Robert Ambrogi, writing at Inside Opinions, summarized a

debate that I had missed this week: “Sex in Public. Need I Say More?”

(May 5, 2006).  Bob asks:


Riddle: What is almost as interesting but not quite as titillating as

sex in public?


Answer: Watching libertarian legal bloggers debate sex in public.

When you think about it, this is an intriguing and very complicated issue.

Check out Bob’s summary and one compiled at prettier than napolean.

 



good morning kiss

wing beats

of the hummingbird

 


         To Hear the Rain

 

 







quiet house–

the chess game

where we left it

 


 New Resonance 3; Haiku Light 2001

 

 

bainbridgePix  When Prof. Bainbridge is right, he’s right.  And, his is the only

reasonable response to the news: “Blazing Saddles Banned” (May 5, 2006)

A high school teacher had to apologize for showing the classic comedy/satire

to twelfth graders, after one parent complained about “racist language. Steve

notes:


“What really got me about the story, however, was the reporter’s

description of Blazing Saddles as a “racist film.” Nonsense. While

Blazing Saddles pervasively uses ethnic slurs and stereotypes, it

does so to lampoon racism. The worst thing you can do to bigots

is to laugh at them, which is precisely what Mel Brooks does in this

hysterical film.”

Here’s the plot summary for Blazing Saddles (1974) from Amazon.com:


Tagline: Never give a saga an even break!

 

Plot Outline To ruin a western town, a corrupt political boss

appoints a black sheriff, who promptly becomes his most formidable

adversary.  






wind-beaten marquee

saying only

“Coming Soon”


 


        Some of the Silence 

Plot Synopsis: The Ultimate Western Spoof. A town where everyone seems

to be named Johnson is in the way of the railroad. In order to grab their land,

Hedley Lemar, a politically connected nasty person, sends in his henchmen to

make the town unlivable. After the sheriff is killed, the town demands a new

sheriff from the Governor. Hedley convinces him to send the town the first Black

sheriff in the west. Bart is a sophisticated urbanite who will have some difficulty

winning over the townspeople.










movie film sm

If there’s anything worse than kneejerk political correctness, it’s kneejerk policial cor-

rectness from people with no sense of humor (or is that redundant?).  What a stupid

lesson to teach your children: some words are always inappropriate, regardless of

context or intent.  Sure wouldn’t want to learn how to make discerning choices and

judgments.  Makes a guy want to turn in his Liberal Card.

 





 


sunny morning —
pink tulips in bloom
on the preschool’s walls

 

 

 

 




the wind storm moves on —
once more the songs of sparrows
in the pines

 

 


      Haiku Harvest  (Spring 2001) 

 

 

deskCalG   Maybe Evan Schaeffer could start a class action suit for me against

Office Max.  For quite a few years now, my brother and sister-in-law have put

together a CopyMax Calendar, featuring pictures of my niece Lissa and nephew 

James, and given them as Christmas gifts to lucky family members. 

 



mother-daughter

    small-talk

    snap beans




 

The calendar is then hung in a place of honor in my kitchen as used as my primary

date-keeping wall calendar.  So, I rely on the dates that are designated as holidays

or special events on my CopyMax calendar.  Well, for the past couple of months,

I’ve been under the misperception that Mother’s Day is May 7th this year — because

said calendar says so.  It was only this week, when I was turning down an invitation

to a belated Cinco de Mayo dinner Sunday night, due to its “conflict” with Mother’s

Day, that I learned of my misplaced trust in CopyMax. This has caused lots of

mental anguish in my household, and I’m not the only Giacalone male who made

this mistake.  Indeed, I rushed out last week to purchase a Mother’s Day Card

to give Mama G, and was just about to mail it prematurely.   

 









spring breeze –
I teach my granddaughter
hopscotch




 


“tinyredcheck” So, in case you have a CopyMax Calendar for 2006, please let me

remind you that Mother’s Day 2006 falls on May 14th, not May 7th,

this year.  Of course, early is better than late, but there’s got to be

a lawsuit in here somewhere.  Right, Walter?





another argument unfolds the futon 

 

         W.F. Owen 

              A New Resonance 2

 

tiny check  One good thing about this situation:  I learned from online

research that U.K. has its own Mothering Day, which fell on March

26th this year.  It’s a good thing Mama G. lives in the USA.

 


“realtorSign”

 

The Schenectady Daily Gazette published an interesting article in a “special”

Spring Home section, on Friday (May 5, 2006; available by $ub.)  Luckily, I found

it on line to share with you: “Humble and Prolific Rambler is Becoming Retro Chic,”

(13WHAM.com, Feb. 15, 2006)  The “rambler” style home is also called “ranch”

in some parts of the country.  I have just two quick points: (a) from an energy-

conservation perspective [see our prior post], it is great that these modest houses

(usually about 1000 sq. ft.) are making a comeback; one reason is their lower price

tags, and another is the fact that baby-boomers and their parents, as their knees

start to give out want homes that are all on one floor.


lifting the hammer
the old carpenter’s hand
stops shaking

 


    A New Resonance 2 ; Mayfly No. 30








her eyes narrow,

seeing for the first time

my little house

 

       John Stevenson

 

(b) from a Euphemism Police perspective, I am issuing a warrant for the Star Tribune

reporter, Darlene Prois, who described one couple who just bought a rambler as:


“Betty and Mike Lovejoy, empty-nesters in their early 70s.”

Sorry, Darlene, but an empty-nester is someone whose children have moved out 

and have their own places — not someone whose grandchildren just left for college

or bought ramblers of their own as starter houses.




 


Monday again–


folks in the latte line


praise this morning’s moon


 


          Mariposa 11 (2004)


 









same old argument–


she pulls silk


from the sweetcorn


 


     Mayfly #37 (2004)



 

 

hand prints upL

 

The news from Sudan and Darfur is cautiously optimistic tonight.The Guardian,

Government, Main Rebels Sign Peace Accord” (May 5, 2006)  We all need

to press our Government to re-triple its efforts to convince the two smaller rebel

groups to make a truce.  If you pray, some prayers for those who still suffer from

hunger, injury and fear in Darfur — and for those who will help bring and keep a

peace — are surely needed.  

 




their children

never cry

never stop crying

 

 

: 









it is!   it isn’t!

genocide – -

just stop it  


 

afterthought (noon, May 6):  The morning news reminded me that

Sigmund Freud was born 150 years ago today.  (“150 years of Freud,”

CNN.com, May 5, 2006)  I’ll let others tell of his contribution to modern

medicine and culture, as the Father of Talk Therapy (we’re more into

“blawk” therapy around here).   My contribution to the Freud anniversary

is to quote a few lyrics from a song I was listening to a couple days ago,

by Warren Zevon, from the title cut of his greatest hits album Genius:

 

FreudBust sigmund freud, 1938





excerpt from “Genius

(Warren Zevon and Larry Klein)

 

. . .

 

Albert Einstein was a ladies’ man
While he was working on his universal plan
He was making out like Charlie Sheen
He was a genius

 

. . .

 

Everybody needs a place to stand
And a method for their schemes and scams
If I could only get my record clean
I’d be a genius

 

What’s the connection with Freud?  If you have to ask, you can’t

afford the therapy.












pinataF

 

May 5, 2006

may 5th menudo

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 3:36 pm

The Spanish word “menudo” has several meanings. It is not only the official soup/stew

of Cinco de Mayo, it also means “small change.” Of course, the term is probably best

known in the non-Hispanic community as the name of a certain Boy Band. Here is a

handful of “menudo” blurbs for the Fifth of May, which prove that small can be priceless:

MenudoDVD

tiny check The history of Cinco de Mayo gives an ironic twist to the week that saw

much sturm und drang across the nation over the May 1st activities supporting immi-

gration (prior post) As the folks at VIVA! CInco De Mayo (San Marcos, TX) point out:

“So, why Cinco de Mayo? And why should Americans savor this day as well?

Because 4,000 Mexican soldiers smashed the French and traitor Mexican army

of 8,000 at Puebla, Mexico, 100 miles east of Mexico City on the morning of May

5, 1862.

 

“… When the battle was over, many French were killed or wounded and their

cavalry was being chased by Diaz’ superb horsemen miles away. The Mexi-

cans had won a great victory that kept Napoleon III from supplying the confed-

erate rebels for another year, allowing the United States to build the greatest

army the world had ever seen. This grand army smashed the Confederates at

Gettysburg just 14 months after the battle of Puebla, essentially ending the

Civil War.

 

withoutMexicanNS a day without a mexican

 

“It might be a historical stretch to credit the survival of the United States to those

brave 4,000 Mexicans who faced an army twice as large in 1862. But who knows?

 

” . . .Mexicans, you see, never forget who their friends are, and neither do Americans.

That’s why Cinco de Mayo is such a party — A party that celebrates freedom and liberty.

There are two ideals which Mexicans and Americans have fought shoulder to shoulder

to protect, ever since the 5th of May, 1862. VIVA! el CINCO DE MAYO!!”

sparkyN Political cartoonist Tom Tomorrow postedAnother unsolicited testimonial” at his

This Modern World weblog yesterday (May 4, 2006). Regular readers of f/k/a surely know

already how much we appreciate TT’s insightful (and painfully humorous) commentary —

see, e.g., this post and that one. But, Tom probably doesn’t. So, we want to add one more

unsolicited [does fishing for compliments count?] testimonial about Tom’s This Modern World

comic strip.

“Every week, Tom Tomorrow finds a way to (a) insightfully lampoon

the inept-amoral Bush Administration and/or the cowardly and

self-serving Democrats; and (b) make me smile and want to share

the newest strip with all the thoughtful and/or witty people I know.”

david giacalone, editor, f/k/a

 

HellHandbasketTT

Hell in a Handbasket

 

This week, my copy of Tom’s newest book-compilation, Hell in a Handbasket, arrived

and it has made my long sessions in the f/k/a Bathroom/Library most enjoyable. His

October 3, 2002, strip would have been a wonderful adjunct to last weekend’s post

a question for True Majority,” and I wish I could link to it. The strip starts with Senators

Clinton and Daschle voting to give Pres. Bush the authority to go to war, but threatening

to spring into action after the election. After a few more years of Democratic waffling, it

ends in 2143, with the cryogenically preserved brains of the two Senators considering

whether to issue a statement supporting the restoration of democracy.

sparkyG Note: you can find each week’s new TMW strip at Working for Change.

It’s TMW archive goes back to Feb. 4, 2003. If the strip is not available in

one of your local newspapers, complain about it.

 

tiny check When the hassles of putting together a weblog every day seem far too

great, I can always get some sustenance from my “Referer Page,” which reminds

me just how often Mr. Google and Ms. Yahoo! send their little querists to our humble

website. For example:


May 5, 2006


As happened in November 2005, a Google search today for democratic morality>


placed our post towards a “democratic morality” and majority in the #1 spot.


There are more than a 9 million results now; last November there were 4.6 million.



meaning of virtual firm> The first result out of 13 million in this Google search


was our post decrying the loose use of language by the first-user-techies. See


Can We Talk About “Virtual” English?



legally insane Kentucky> Okay, this is rather inadvertent, but still fun in a Prof.


Yabutty kind of way. Our Kentucky says every blawg post is an ad is the first


Google result (out of 1.2 million) for this query.

noloShark nolo.com

 

May 4, 2006


how to spell goombah> This Google search led directly to our educational post


“goomba goombah gumba gumbah,” where — as the title suggests — we equivocated


(with explanation) on just how to spell this Sicilio-American slang term, but gave


a great lecture on its meaning.




mph900> Our discussion of this leading edge bit of police gadetry was the #1 result


(out of only 28) in this Google search. See Old Dorp: less backwards! less appealing?


In case you forgot:




Mobile Plate Hunter 900 from RemingtonELSAG. MPH900 is at the leading


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) ]



tiny check Speaking of inspiring search engine results and Cinco de Mayo, you will find this


entry on our TISK! pt. 3 page:


August 10, 2005



+”new jersey” +soup slurping> #1 out of 856 results in this Google search


was the May 4, 2005 dual posting of omertaEsq? gagged in new jersey (about


N.J. lawyer disciplinary procedural rule 1:20 – 9(a), which has been interpreted


to bar anyone filing a complaint against a lawyer from making the complaint


public) and cuatro de mayo – soups and sticks (about Mexican Menudo soup),


which included this haiku from Kobayashi Issa:



plum blossom scent–

slurping it in
with the vegetable soup

Kobayashi Issa

translated by David Lanoue


We tried this same Google search today, and had slipped to the #2 slot, behind


Dumb.com‘s listing of dumb New Jersey laws — which says that soup-slurping is


unlawful in NJ (a Commentor there disagrees). There were fewer than 900 returns


last year, but over 10,000 today.

Don’t forget, there are dozens of additional examples of strange, silly or supurb search engine results on our Inadvertent Searchee pages.


tiny check Earlier this week, we wondered “When is Cinco de Mayo?” My celebration (big


Mexican dinner with friends) won’t be until Sunday. Whenever yours may happen,


may it be with much menudo and many amigos.



Heaven’s River

of stars

in my soup

David G. Lanoue from his novel Haiku Guy


dusty cookbooks:

his soup can

in the sink


dagonsan

pinataG

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