f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

April 30, 2007

honoring Virginia Tech’s dead

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,viewpoint — David Giacalone @ 1:03 pm

        As we mentioned last week, today is being observed as One Day of Blog Silence at weblogs throughout the blogisphere to pay respect to the victims of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute massacre, as well as worldwide victims of violence.  In general, the world could use more silence — mostly so that we can learn to listen better to eachother. Rather than silence at this weblog today, however, I want to acknowledge:

  1. the deep feeling of loss for the families, our nation, and the world, due to the deaths of those 33 unique individuals at Virginia Tech;
  2. the realization that the VPI campus was an excellent example of how the love and desire for education can bring the world closer together — with our nation serving a positive role nurturing learning and community;
  3. my growing frustration over groups who put grandiose or absolute assertions of  individual rights over our society’s joint, interdependent, and fundamental need to take reasonable, effective steps to protect itself and its members from violence of all kinds.

 window There is no single way to appropriately mourn any one person, much less so many, diverse and undeserving victims.  And, mourning will have many meanings as the seasons and years pass.  The best that I can do is this collection of haiku and senryu from the f/k/a Honored Guest family of poets:



the first notes
squeezed from bagpipes
small town parade


cricket sounds
rise into night
the names of the dead


…………………… by Peggy Lyles from To Hear the Rain



news of his death
the cigarette smoke rises
straight up

another year
the tallest trees shade
the oldest headstones



spring evening
knowing a new moon
is behind the clouds


…………… by DeVar Dahl   gullsFN  
“news of his death” from New Resonance 3
“another year” – Simply Haiku (Spring 2005)
“spring evening” – WHR, Robert Spiess Tribute, March 2002


strewn driftwood
a boy asking
about his father


summer’s end—
riding a borrowed bicycle
past the graveyard


……………….. by paul m.
“strewn driftwood” – A New Resonance 2
“summer’s end” – from finding the way



Stillness of sand
in the hourglass bottom–
the sound of wind



autumn evening —
yellow leaves cover
the plot reserved for me



An obituary
circled in the newspaper–
pale winter moon

Snow tapering off . . .
at the graveyard, one tombstone
leans on another


My small family gone–
ants crawl on their graves
in the pale autumn sun

window neg …………………… by Rebecca Lilly 
“Stillness of sand” – Acorn #18 (2007)
“Autumn evening” — Modern Haiku XXX:2, and A New Resonance 2
“An obituary”  – edge of light  (Red Moon Anthology 2003); Acorn 10
“Snow tapering off” — Modern Haiku XXX:2; A New Resonance 2
“My small family gone–” – Shadwell Hills (Birch Prees Press, 2002)


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


funeral procession . . .
snowflakes blowing
into the headlights

……………………………. by Randy Brooks from School’s Out



cherry blossoms
the one that falls
on mother’s headstone


       an amber crow sits behind
             the altar glass


. . . . . . . . by ed markowski


old tombstone
losing its name
faint first star

…………………….. by George Swede – The Heron’s Nest


after her death
composing roses
instead of words


Mother’s Day alone —
a neighbor’s first iris
pokes through the fence


after her death
finding the old scar
in my eyebrow

………………….. by Pamela Miller Ness
“Mother’s Day alone-” – The Heron’s Nest (Sept. 2003)
 “after her death” –  The Heron’s Nest (Dec. 2002) 


among the graves
of strangers

… by paul m. from called home (Red Moon Press 2006) CalledHomePaulM

April 29, 2007

vote Education in ’08

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies,viewpoint — David Giacalone @ 5:26 pm

   Although their logo/slogan EDin’08 seems poorly chosen, billionaire philanthropists Eli Broad and Bill Gates get an A for Effort and Commitment for creating the new Strong American Schools project, and donating $60 million dollars to put education high onto the agenda of the 2008 presidential race (press release, April 25, 2007).  You may have already seen their Histery of IRAK newspaper ad, which says — under the chalky mispelled words — “Debating Iraq is tough.  Spelling it shouldn’t be. America’s schools are falling behind. It’s a crisis that takes leadership to solve. So to all presidential candidates we say, ‘What’s your plan to fix our schools?’ ”  

EDin08LogoF  Before writing a few serious paragraphs, I must do a school-masterly tsk-tsk over the choice [by education (and good-spelling) advocates!] of “ED in’08” as the Project’s logo.  In 2007, virtually everybody from Bob Dole to Jay Leno, and from Merriam-Webster or the OneLook Dictionary‘s Quick Look, to Wikipedia and the acronym experts at Stammtisch Beau Fleuve, knows that “ed” as a word or an abbreviation means “education,” while ED is an initialism that stands for Erectile Dysfunction.  You don’t have to be a stickler for linguistic precision, or even a too-quickly-aging Baby Boomer (and his significant other), to be turned off by a campaign promising more ED in ’08.  Of course, certain pharmaceutical companies, and hordes of email spammers, might feel differently, but they don’t get a vote here at f/k/a.  We prefer “ed in ’08” or “educate in ’08.”


during discussion
on the meaning of life       the crunch
of a student’s apple

………….. by George Swede from Almost Unseen (Brooks Books, 2000)


  SASlogo  Logo logos aside, citizens (and aliens) who want to see much more done to improve the education of America’s youth can readily agree with Bill Gates that “The lack of political and public will is a significant barrier to making dramatic improvements in school and student performance.” (New York Times, “Billionaires Start $60 Million Schools Effort,” April 25, 2007)  A campaign backed with scores of millions of dollars for publicity, organization and follow-through should go a long way to assure that presidential candidates (and the public) take education seriously enough to make it a top priority and construct (or demand) specific proposals.   As project director Roy Romer, former Colorado governor and recent school superintendent of Los Angeles, noted at his related weblog, they want the next President of the United States, on his or her first day in office, to “make a Kennedyesque or Reaganesque call to get this done.”  (Roy Romer’s Blog on Schools, “Why involve the presidential candidates in Education?“).  Romer continues:

“The next president will pick one issue on that first day in office … and we want it to be education, because people will listen, they will pay attention and they will start acting.”

In their press release and public statements, the leaders of Strong American Schools make it clear that they will not be endorsing any candidates, but will instead focus on creating conversation, brainstorming and debate on three main areas (as outlined and expanded by Romer):

  1.     American standards (agreed upon by the states not forced down their throats by the federal government). That means a fourth-grader is learning what she needs to be successful no matter where she lives, whether Iowa or South Carolina or California.  All youngsters need to prepare for college and compete for good jobs, so they should have the educational foundation. That’s number one.
  2.     [E]ffective teachers in every classroom. A lot of people would like to interpret this to mean that we are knocking teachers. That’s just wrong. We are trying to identify the best ways – notice I say ways, not one single federal way – to attract and support and reward the most effective teachers for every subject and every classroom.  And that means compensating teachers based on performance and willingness to take tougher jobs.  But again, there are many ways to do that, and we will be highlighting lots of different ways over the next few months.
  3.     [M]ore time and support for learning. Again, there are a lot of ways to get this done. We want to explore the many possible ways to do that with people.

first day of term
her new school uniform
bright in the mist

……………………… by Matt Morden from A New Resonance 2

EDin08Logo  It looks like Roy Romer’s Blog on Schools will not be a mere trend-conscious afterthought.  Romer seems to enjoy the weblog format and has already used the platform to “clarify” issues. For example, in “It’s Not About Specifics … Yet,” he tells those who want specific proposals that the Project wants to start a conversation, providing “some hard information and statistics and direction,” but listening to the ideas of others.  Additionally, in “Great Launch … But Let’s Be Clear About ED in 08,” he says that “a couple of misperceptions have arisen, and I want to address them right now.”  He worries that “Some of the news coverage used loaded terminology that we don’t use and we don’t agree with. When that happens, it’s easy for anyone to read and get the wrong idea about our positions,” and says “Let me give you two examples”:

  1. “National curriculum” – Somebody wrote that we are calling for that. Let’s be clear: Strong American Schools and the ED in 08 campaign are not calling for a national curriculum, period.
  2. “Merit pay” – Somebody said we want that. That’s wrong. We are not pushing some narrow merit pay scheme. The bottom line is … good teaching, effective teaching.  What we want is to find a way to focus on good teaching. That is the outcome that matters. Good teaching … how do we value it … how do we support it … and how we reward it so we can get more of it.

Romer might have been concerned about coverage such as found in the NYT article cited above, which stated, for example: “While the effort is shying away from some of the most polarizing topics in education, like vouchers, charter schools and racial integration, there is still room for it to spark vigorous debate.”  It went on to point to the dislike of usually-Democratic teachers unions for “merit pay,” and the disdain for a “national curriculum” by state’s-rights conservatives.


windowless classroom     ReportCardN      
the blank look
same as last term


fund drive
the ivy covered building
has a new name


……………………….. by Yu Chang  from Upstate Dim Sum 

 EDin08LogoS  I’m looking forward to watching the conversation — and the dance of the candidates — unfold over the next year.  Even beyond the crucial importance of the subject, it should be fascinating and instructive to see how so much money from a nonpartisan, nonprofit issue-group impacts a presidential election.   I hope Roy Romer’s weblog will be a good place to find out what issues and controversies are bubbling to the top of the presidential stew, now that education has been taken off the backburner.


school’s out —
on the child’s forehead
a blue reward star


youth orchestra
two rows of harps
bow to applause


after school meeting
collage clouds turn
round and round


 first day of term
 a mother pushes scooters
 away from the school

……………… by Matt Morden from Morden Haiku


chalk dust
in the eraser trough
autumn chill


a new term
clear water tumbles
over stones

…………………………………. by Peggy Lyles
“chalk dust” – To Hear the Rain (Brooks Books, 2002)
“a new term” – Snapshots Haiku Magazine #9 (2001)


 q.s. quickies …………… 

failG  Less Stress In Deed: A couple days ago, Phillip L. Clay, chancellor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was quoted saying “In the future, we will take a big lesson from this experience.”  (New York Times, “Dean at M.I.T. Resigns, Ending a 28-Year Lie,” April 27, 2007)  Chancellor Clay was referring, of course, to the tale of Marilee Jones, M.I.T.’s dean of admissions, who has become well known nationally for urging stressed-out students competing for elite colleges to calm down and stop trying to be perfect. As the Times, reports, Jones admitted this week that “she had fabricated her own educational credentials, and resigned after nearly three decades at M.I.T. Officials of the institute said she did not have even an undergraduate degree.” The article explained further:

“Ms. Jones, 55, originally from Albany [NY], had on various occasions represented herself as having degrees from three upstate New York institutions: Albany Medical College, Union College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. In fact, she had no degrees from any of those places, or anywhere else, M.I.T. officials said.”

I’m not sure how much coverage Ms. Jones’ scandal got elsewhere in the nation.  Here in the Albany area (and, in my town of Schenectady, home of Union College), the papers gave it a lot of space.  Is this a tale of irony or simply hypocrisy?  NYT tells us Jones was considered “a kind of guru of the movement to tame the college admissions frenzy.”  She’s been touring the nation as co-author of the book “Less Stress, More Success: A New Approach to Guiding Your Teen Through College Admissions and Beyond.  If the book tour continues, a lot of people might show up to see a prime example of getting through the higher education machine with about as little stress and as much success as possible.   As a good weblogger should, I must caution my readers: Don’t Try This At Home.

drama class
the novice
botches a death scene

………… tom painting – frogpond XVII:3 (2004)

pentacleFlowerN  Pentacle Spectacle: Did you see that the “Use of Wiccan Symbol on Veterans’ Headstones Is Approved” (New York Times, April 25, 2007).  Yep, it took them years, but the VA settled a lawsuit — to save the taxpayers the cost of litigation —  agreeing, according to the Times, “to add the Wiccan pentacle to a list of approved religious symbols that it will engrave on veterans’ headstones.”  I’m pleased to see that Americans United for the Separation of Church and State represented the plaintiffs in the case. In a country with religious freedom at its cornerstone, it seems to me that the VA has no place banning a requested symbol from the headstone of a deceased veteran — no matter that it is paid for with taxpayer dollars.  They say there are no atheists in a foxhole, but I hope an agnostic or two will be suing soon for the right to have their symbol of choice engraved on their headstones, too. 

pentacle FYI: Per NYT: “Though it has many forms, Wicca is a type of pre-Christian belief that reveres nature and its cycles. Its symbol is the pentacle, a five-pointed star, inside a circle.” An “Altreligion” website tells us that: “The pentacle, a pentagram within a circle, is the most recognizable symbol of Wicca. The pentacle represents the integration of body and spirit, and the spiritual mastery of the four elements.”

winter solstice
adolescent wiccans
flunk a spelling test

………………. by dagosan

p.s. Update (April 30, 2007): Thanks to Brett Trout at Blawg IT for including f/k/a‘s post on Florida’s capricious Dignity Police in this week’s Blawg Review # 106.  As I haven’t had time to cover the story, I was pleased to see in BR#106 that both Ted Frank at Overlawyered.com and Carolyn Elefant at LegalBlogWatch skewered D.C. Adminsistrative Law Judge Roy L. Pearson, Jr. for the abusive lawsuit he has been prosecuting against a neighborhood cleaner shop, in which he is seeking $65 million in damages for a pair of misplaced suit pants.  The beleaguered mom-and-pop defendants offered $12,000 in settlement, but were rebuffed (see Washington Post article).  Carolyn seems to have it about right, when she says

“As for Pearson, I can imagine the appropriate remedy for a lawyer who persists in pursuing $65 million for a pair of lost pants: How about a lost license to practice law? That seems like a fair trade.”

At the very least, a large dose of e-shaming for pro se plaintiff Pearson seems in order.


April 27, 2007

r.i.p. bobby “boris” pickett

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 2:50 pm

 spotlightS Over the past few years, it has been death that brings the spotlight back to many of the musicians “of my youth.”  Some played major roles entertaining and sustaining me (e.g., Warren Zevon, Ray Charles).  Others had no great significance forming my psyche, but surely did make me smile (or dance).  Bobby “Boris” Pickett, who died yesterday fits into that category. (see CityNews.ca‘s article, and cbc.ca, “Bobby Pickett, voice of ‘Monster Mash,’ dies;” and hear the npr remembrance; April 26, 2007) Pickett’s performance of “Monster Mash,” which is probably the most-played oldie in the nation around Halloween, brought him fame but also the “one-hit wonder” label.  Monster Mash was such a novelty smash hit that Pickett could not get out from under its spell to have a broader musical or acting career. Here’s a stanza from Monster Mash that seems fitting today:

Now everything’s cool, Drac’s a part of the band
And my monster mash, is the hit of the land,
For you the living this mash was meant too
When you get to my door tell them Boris sent you

Click for all of the lyrics (get the chords, too), and here’s a link for a free mp3 download.  Pickett’s own Monster Mash website is here. There’s a lot of great Monster Mash trivia.  For example:

  1. Boris Karoff did a version of Monster MashMonsterMashCover  
  2. Leon Russell played piano for Pickett’s version, as part of the fictitious Cryptkickers Five.
  3. Pickett’s Monster Mash is the only record to ever reach the top of charts three separate times in three separate releases – once in 1962, again in 1970 and a final time in 1973.
  4. For the 2004 Presidential Campaign, the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund produced an anti-Bush spoof flash move, entitled Monster Slash.  Bobby Pickett did the vocals with the revised lyrics.  Click for an mp3 version of the song. See Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article (Oct. 29, 2004)

According to several sources, when Elvis Presley heard the song for the first time, he said that it was the dumbest song he had ever heard (MusicChoice Trivia; Wikipedia).  Yes, it was a silly song, but it caused a lot of smiles and got a lot of stiffs up on the dance floor.  Thanks, Bobby Pickett.  Come back to haunt us any time.


spring rain–
a child gives a dance lesson
to the cat


the flute-playing servant
is the village headman!
butterflies dance

………………. by Kobayashi Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue


thin ice
we dance

    PhantomMask …………………….. by dagosan

the widower
coaxed to the dance floor
spring equinox

………………. by Tom Painting – A New Resonance 2

palm sunday
the gospel choir
hypnotically swaying


thunder . . .
the mustang’s tail
begins to sway


cherry blossoms free fall
into the pond . . .
baby’s first steps


                   * other
                             * pales

WolfDudeN  ………………………. by Ed Markwoski
“palm sunday” –  Haiku Sun  (Issue X, Jan. 2004) 
“thunder” – The Heron’s Nest VII: 4 (Dec. 2005)


turning off the music
a few miles before
getting there

morning fog. . .
a mash of wild apples
on the road


……… by tom clausen from being there   (Swamp Press, 2005)

spotlightN   Speaking of monsters, we all better be on guard against the creatures lurking at websites throughout the internet.  See CNETNews.com, Web threats to surpass e-mail pests, April 24, 2007 (via The TVCAlert, which warns: “By next year, internet users can expect more cyberattacks to originate from the Web than via e-mail, security firm Trend Micro predicts.”

“E-mail has traditionally been the top means of attack, with messages laden with Trojan horses and other malicious programs hitting inboxes. But the balance is about to tip as cybercrooks increasingly turn to the Web to attack PCs. . . . The reason for the flip is simple. Security tools for e-mail have become commonplace, but the same isn’t true for Web traffic. Security firms have found it tough to secure what comes into a network and computers over port 80, the network port used to browse the Web using the hypertext transfer protocol, or HTTP.”

There is even a “classic rat race between security firms and cybercooks. This has spawned an underground market for security vulnerabilities. Many of the bugs offered will let an attacker silently commandeer a PC through the Web when the unsuspecting user hits a site that packs an exploit, so-called ‘drive-by’ installations.”   It appears that “Criminals are offering up to $75,000 for a Windows XP vulnerability and $50,000 for a Windows Vista vulnerability.”  So, beware and be ready.  According to “Web Travels Become Increasingly Dangerous,” The Virtual Chase, March 2007:

“The best defense is awareness. You should keep your anti-virus, firewall, anti-spyware, browser and operating system software up to date, and run anti-virus scans daily (assuming you connect to the Web daily). You should also be aware that none of these preventions will keep you safe 100 percent of the time.”

single again
soap bar slivers
mashed together


snow flurries
the square dancers

……. by w.f. owen 
“snow flurries” – Hon. Men. Spiess Mem. Contest
“single again” –  frogpond XXVIII: 2 (2005)


April 26, 2007

turn-offs and turn-ons

Filed under: Haiga or Haibun,Haiku or Senryu,lawyer news or ethics,viewpoint — David Giacalone @ 11:36 pm

      My biggest turn-off by far this week comes from the self-serving California lawyers who are opposing a proposal that would merely require lawyers to tell clients whether or not they have malpractice insurance. [It’s estimated that a third of all lawyers carry no malpractice insurance.].  As you know, I have to hold my nose whenever I smell groups of lawyers acting like guilds — protecting their own financial interests rather than putting their clients’ interests first — so, I’m forced to type this posting with just one hand.  The State Bar of California‘s Task Force studying the issue supported mandatory disclosure last year.  Despite receiving mostly negative responses from the profession, it is expected to release a final proposal for comment tomorrow (Friday, April 27, 2007) again recommending mandatory malpractice insurance disclosure. (See Calif. Bar Still Wants Insurance Disclosure Rule, The Recorder/Law.com, April 23, 2007)  See our prior post supporting mandatory disclosure, which discusses a very good piece in GPSolo magazine (April/May 2003) presenting a debate on the pros and cons. 

PhantomMask James Towery, who chairs the CalBar Task Force, supports the disclosure and wrote in the GPSolo article that the issue is: “When a client hires a lawyer, is the lawyer’s lack of insurance a material fact that the client is entitled to know?”  Virtually all clients simply assume every lawyer carries malpractice insurance — and would very much want to know otherwise.  Towery correctly states: “It is difficult to fashion a persuasive argument that clients are not entitled to that information.” 

Given their position as fiduciaries and their constant assertions of putting clients first, you’d think lawyers — or at least their leaders — would agree with Towery and the Task Force (even if reluctantly).  Nonetheless, many bar groups in California have fought hard for years to remove a prior disclosure requirement and to block it from being reinstated.  Leading the charge against the disclosure rules are several “voluntary” bar associations, including: a) the former state Trial Lawyers Association, which now has the nerve to call itself Consumer Attorneys of California (and soon perhaps the California Justice League); b) the Los Angeles County Bar Association, whose ethics committee chairman weighed in against the proposal; and the umbrella-group Conference of Delegates of California Bar Associations, which once had a website accessible to the public, but now apparently only wants members to know what they’re up to.   Why the fight against the State Bar?

  1.    CalBar is a “unified” or “mandatory” bar organization: It is a “statuatory public corporation in the judicial branch of state government.  As a unified State Bar, it “unifies” both the regulatory licensing activities applicable to the practice of law as well as the association activities of a professional association. In a unified bar, “membership” is mandatory for all attorneys who must pay “membership” or licensing fees to maintain their license to practice law.” (from Martindale.com profile) Of course, unified bars take anti-client positions at times but, with the right leadership, they can often stand up against the worst mob-psychology of organized groups of fearful lawyers.
  2.    About two-thirds of all state bar associations are “unified.”  Most state bar associations in the northeast and midwest are “voluntary” organizations (see ABA map), as are all county, city and national bar associations. (The pros and cons of voluntary and mandatory state bars are discussed in this Wisconsin Bar Journal article)  Because no lawyer is required to join a voluntary bar association, and thus be required to pay their dues and subscribe to their rules of conduct, voluntary bar association must “earn their keep” by providing services and results that their members like.  Despite doing many good deeds (especially for the poor and various “victim” groups), far too many voluntary bars attract and keep members by fighting to enhance lawyer income, stifling competition and innovation, and concocting horror stories and fairy tales to justify opposing rules and laws that protect their clients.  It’s not surprising, then, that the voluntary bars of Arkansas (see this post) and Massachusetts (discussed here) have voted down proposals to require malpractice insurance disclosure.

WolfDudeN It will be interesting to see whether (as suggested by Law.com), the CalBar task force has watered down their proposal to appease all the angry attorneys, who don’t want the pressure to purchase malpractice insurance or the embarrassment of telling clients they don’t have it.  In our prior post, you can see some of the specious, scary and unprofessional arguments made by the opponents of disclosure.  Another posting, tells of the status of disclosure rules across the country.  The legal reform group HALT supports mandatory insurance disclosure , but would prefer mandatory malpractice insurance coverage for all lawyers.

hidden in shadows 
a laughing mouse…
New Year’s inventory

midday’s mosquitoes
hidden behind
the Buddha of stone

……….. by Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue 

fortune-telling machine
I re-pocket
my quarter


…………. by Carolyn Hall – Acorn #18 (2007)


 WolfDudeN……..  You can always get the straight scoop from lawyer-haijin Roberta Beary, like in this domestic haibun, from Hermitage 2006:

blue room

it is 6:30 a.m.  my boy has overslept for school again  i am his alarm
clock  for a few more months at least… by this time next year  he
will be gone  please god  not in that faraway war but under a blanket
of textbooks and rock music in the snowy heart of his homeland

empty house
pencil lines streak
a blue wall



         TVTurnOffLogo  To my surprise, I’m turned on by TV-Turnoff Week, which is April 23 to 29, 2007.  Frankly, I’ve often been annoyed by the “won’t-have-a tv-in-my-home” crowd, who seem just a wee bit too self-congratulatory in their presumed cultural and intellectual superiority, and rather ignorant of the good programming to be found on occasion on the tube.  Nevertheless, my reaction is quite positive to the TV-Turnoff project, which is organized by the Center for Screen-Time Awareness.  (That may be because of my own creeping addiction again to sitting at my computer engaged in weblog punditry.) The Center’s approach seems intelligently moderate: they stress all the good things that can be done with our non-screen time; advocate that we (especially our kids) greatly reduce screen time; and hope that a week [or, if you’re starting late, a few days] without tv and similar devices will help us realize just how addicted we are to television.   There are a few enjoyable quotations on their quotes page (along with some ponderously preachy ones):

  1. “The remarkable thing about television is that it permits several million people to laugh at the same joke and still feel lonely.” -T.S. Eliot
  2. “I really didn’t like TV-Turnoff Week except I did notice that my grades went up and I was in a good mood all week.” -Drew Henderson, 2nd grader, Donora, Pennsylvania
  3. “The one function TV news performs very well is that when there is no news we give it to you with the same emphasis as if there were.” -David Brinkley
  4. “I  find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.” -Groucho Marx
  5. “Television is a chewing gum for the eyes.” says Frank Lloyd Wright.

Speaking of Frank Lloyd Wright, and not watching tv, click here to see a haiga based on one of his creations, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City:

HaigaLightShowS  orig. haiga at Magnapoets (April 25, 2007) 

light show
behind eyelids —
free admission



 TVTurnOffLogo  Any haijin can tell you, there’s a world of things to do communing with nature, detached from television, computers and Blackberrys.


vastness of the stars
my gum


a deep breath
of mountain air
shooting stars


soft earth  seesaw 
I might risk
a cartwheel


………… by John Stevenson 
“vastness of the stars” – Hermitage, Vol. 2, 2005
“a deep breath” – Geppo, Jul/Aug, 2005
“soft earth” – Acorn, No. 14 (2005)


 dwindling heat
a butterfly lengthens
the rosevine


park bench    sunglassesG    
an old man slips deeper
into his dream


unveiling i listen hard  for spring rain


…………………………………… by Roberta Beary – Hermitage 2006 


the boy casts   HaigaLightShowSN 
farther than his father–
fine spring rain

………………….. by Carolyn Hall – Acorn #18 (2007)


April 25, 2007

in the eye of the bar-holder

Filed under: lawyer news or ethics,viewpoint — David Giacalone @ 6:43 pm

   An email yesterday from lawyer Marc Chandler plunged me back into the dizzy-ditsy world of the Florida Bar’s Dignity Police and Advertising Nannies.  Marc is half of the Ft. Lauderdale law firm of Pape & Chandler, which is best-known for fighting the Florida Bar Association all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005 and 2006, in a losing attempt to continue to use a pitbull logo and 800 Number in promoting their motorcycle injury law practice.  We’ve covered their story often and at length (e.g., here). Pape & Chandler tell about their fight with FBA in their own words, with links to many legal documents, here.

PanterPantherR Panter Panter & Sampredo  PanterPantherL [prior logo]

   Mark’s note intrigued me by including the answer to a question we raised last April: If FBA can ban the image of a sleepy-eyed, non-growling pitbull — calling it fierce, combative and demeaning — what will it do about the slinky panthers used by Miami’s Panter, Panter & Sampredo?  As we noted in our post, Arne C. Vanstrum, Advertising Counsel for The Florida Bar, told Chandler in a telephone call that lions are not as vicious as American Pit Bull Terriers, but panthers are vicious and they are investigating the panther logo.  Marc and I both thought it might have been a little dignity-cop joke.  However, the July 2006 Minutes of the Florida Bar Board of Governors (led by the current President, Henry M. Coxe, III) shows just how arbitrary and subjective the FBA’s Dignity Police can be:

    9.   Report of Board Review Committee on Professional Ethics.   1) Advertising Appeal 03-02483 concerns application of Rules prohibiting visual depictions that are false, misleading or manipulative.  A law firm has been using an illustration of a pair of panthers for several years as part of the firm’s logo in part as a play on the name of two of the partners (Panter).  . . . The law firm filed a revised advertisement on November 28, 2005.    In the interim, the Supreme Court of Florida publicly reprimanded two Florida Bar members for use of a pitbull in a television advertisement in The Florida Bar v. Pape . . . Based on that case, staff requested guidance from the Standing Committee on Advertising regarding the filing law firm’s use of the panthers. 

PanterFirmLogo  At its February 21, 2006 meeting, the Standing Committee on Advertising was divided on the issue of whether use of the panthers violates any lawyer advertising rules in light of the Pape & Chandler case.  Based on that guidance, staff issued an opinion on February 28, 2006 that the illustration of panthers does not comply with Rule 4-7.2(b)(4) (emphasis added), which prohibits visual portrayals or depictions that are false, misleading, or manipulative.  The Standing Committee on Advertising upheld staff’s opinion on April 24, 2006.

    The attorney subsequently requested Board of Governors review.  The Board Review Committee on Professional Ethics voted 4-0 to remove this item from the consent calendar and reverse the SCA decision. The board approved the board review committee’s recommendation by voice vote. 

PanterLogoCrop So, FBA’s Standing Committee on Advertising indeed held, a year and a day ago, that the cuddly pair of panthers at the head of this paragraph violated the code of legal ethics, as a visual depiction that is “false, misleading, or manipulative.”  The Board of Governors reversed that decision — but did it on a voice vote, without giving reasons. The end result is a good one, but I wonder what the process says about the treatment of Pape and Chandler.  Please recall that the following masthead contains the only pitbull depiction ever used by Pape & Chandler: 

 pitBullLogo orig.

How can this little doggie be condemned when the panthers are exonerated?  How can the Florida Supreme Court agree that the depiction of a ferocious pitbull demeans the profession, and FBA president Alan Bookman admonish Pape and Chandler that “The advertising devices would suggest to many persons not only that you can achieve results but also that you engage in a combative style of advocacy”, when panthers are okay? (see prior post


spring-like day
the cat grapples
with a catnip bird

                                         spring rain the cat’s pink nipples

wilderness trail     FloridaMap  
the manicured poodle
still on a leash  


…………………….. by Carolyn Hall 
“spring-like day” – The Heron’s Nest (Vo. VI, 2004)
“spring rain” – 2003 Henderson Hon. Men.; Frogpond XXVII: 1
“wilderness trail” – The Heron’s Nest (II:11, Nov. 2000)

boxerGrayS  Speaking of “combative style of advocacy“: Marc Chandler’s email informed me that the Board of Governors has also recently permitted a new ad from the firm of Dell & Schaeffer in which the Dell & Schaeffer attorneys are standing inside a boxing ring with the tag line “Let us be in your corner.”

Ferocious?  It’s also a bit strange that the simple depiction of the head of a pitbull by P&C (shown above) is decried as suggesting an unacceptably fierce brand of lawyering, when the high-profile, immensely successful, well-connected law firm of Robert M. Montgomery, Jr. (who was lead counsel for Florida in its $13.5 billion settlement with Big Tobacco) gets to use the following masthead


and to open the website with the words “we pride ourselves on being fierce trial attorneys.”   In deciding whether the Florida Bar is truly worried about misleading and manipulating the public with a depiction, or instead about some pathetic notion of Dignity of the Profession, consider the cleancut Panter Brothers:

PanterBrett & PanterMitchell   Brett and Mitchell Panter,

and pillar of the community, RMMJr Bob Montogomery; also, take a look at the photo of the partners at Dell & Schaeffer.   Ads from these “suitable” firms have passed muster with FBA.  Now, compare their “image” with   

the motorcycle-riding, suitless John Pape and Marc Chandler p&c   full tv image

It sure makes me want to scratch my head, and to quote to you from the new-look Pape & Chandler website:

“When you hire Pape & Chandler, you hire John Pape and Marc Chandler. We refuse to water down our legal product by hiring a gaggle of assistants. We have to work harder because we do everything ourselves. . . ..  

Beware the attorney who assumes that he’s dignified and professional merely because he sports a neat little newscaster hairdo, sleeps in a business suit and works for or represents large corporations. You know the type of stuffed shirt we’re talking about. Professionalism and dignity are not products of such superficial nonsense. Some of the most dignified, loyal and trustworthy people we know haven’t worn a suit in years and have long hair and multiple tattoos. At Pape & Chandler, we believe that dignity and professionalism are qualities that you have to earn like a soldier earns his stripes.

“As attorneys we earn those traits by how well we treat our clients, how loyal we are to them and how tenaciously we work on their behalf. We earn those traits by being fully and completely prepared every time we represent a client’s interests inside or outside of the courtroom. We don’t assume that graduating law school and passing the bar exam automatically imbues in us the qualities that smart clients should seek in their attorneys-loyalty, tenacity, commitment, and preparation. We have earned those characteristics one client at a time over the course of our combined 20-plus years of legal practice.”  

 papechandler2007  You can now reach John and Marc at 1-888-MOTOLAW.

 lightning flash–
only the dog’s face
is innocent
………… by Kobayashi Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue

country graveyard
a dog burying
a bone

nobody on the street
stray dog stops to bite
its wagging tail

 ………………………. by George Swede from Almost Unseen
       FloridaMap   We recently detailed the dignity indictment by FBA against Steven Miller, Esq. and DivorcEZ.   In case you think that I’m picking on the Florida Bar, here are some of the ethics actions taken over the past year by its Advertising Nannies:

     Per the September 29, 2006 Minutes of the Florida Bar Board of Governors [BOG]: a) Staff concluded, and the BOG agreed that the language “Avoid Time in Court” and ““SAVE VALUABLE TIME!” in a direct mail advertisement to handle traffic ticket cases was likely to create an unjustified expectation about results the lawyer can achieve, in violation of Rule 4-7.2(b)(1)(B), among other
rule violations.   b) Staff and the Standing Committee on Advertising concluded that the language “When justice is done for a mother, a child a family you can’t beat that” is likely to create an unjustified expectation about the results the lawyer can achieve.  The Board Review Committee ane full BOG disagreed, finding the above language permissible.  c) The visual depiction of a crashed car with people inspecting the crashed car, including a deployed
airbag, was found to be manipulative and therefore impermissible under Rule 4-7.2(b)(4).   and d) Background sounds such as horns honking, traffic, wind through a car window, squealing brakes, and a heart monitor were found to be impermissible.

boxerSignN   Per the BOG December 8, 2006 Minutes: a) the phrase “legal firepower when you need it most” was determined to be a statement that characterized the quality of legal services, in violation of Rule 4-7.2(b)(3).  b) when the same law firm then submitted the phrase “Protecting you and your family for 25 years” was deemed impermissible, because likely to create an unjustified expectation about results the lawyer can achieve, in violation of rule 4-7.2(b)(1)(B).  c)  Based on guidance from the Standing Committee on advertising, staff rendered opinions that television advertisements using the telephone numbers 1-800-Justice and 1-800-Justicia were misleading.  Eventually, the Board Review Committee and full BOG reversed and allowed the use of the numbers (although owned by an out-of-state company).  And, d) the Board accepted a proposal that use of the term “Doctor of Law” or “Doctor of Laws” is misleading in the context of an advertisement published in English.  It took the position that “lawyers can state their own actual degrees, but that use of anything other than the degree is misleading and impermissible.

Two final points before I get accused of being too combative and demeaning to the legal profession:

  1.     According to the Orlando Business Review, “Florida Bar’s board favors Web ad regulation.”  Under the proposed Website Rule 4-7.6, the homepage would be treated like all other advertising (except for needed prior approval), with lawyers allowed to advertise their past results and the quality of legal services through testimonials on Web pages that are just one click past the homepage. (BizJournals.com, March 30, 2007).  That is not very surprising, of course.  What is a bit unexpected, however, is the assertion by Charles “Chobee” Ebbets, chairman of the special committee that developed the proposed Web advertisement rule, that the proposed rule would make Florida the first state to address lawyer advertisements via the Internet.
  2.       Possibly Relevant Blast from the Past:  In Ethics Opinion 82-1 (April 1, 1983), the Board of Governors (going against the majority of members of the ethics committee) concluded that “A lawyer’s inclusion of the statement ‘Jesus is Lord‘ with a drawing of the dove of peace in his advertisements does not violate the commands of the Code of Professional Responsibility.”  The opinion noted that the words and drawing does not appeal primarily to “fear, greed, desire for revenge or similar emotion” and is not “showmanship, puffery, self-laudation or hucksterism.” [There is no mention about whether the items are likely to promise results or suggest an undue connection to a decision-maker.]  The Ethics Opinion also explained (are you listening, current FBA leaders?): “While the inclusion of such a message in a commercial advertisement may be viewed by many as ‘professional bad taste, the United States Supreme Court in In The Matter of R.M.J., [455 U.S. 191 (1982)], declined to recognize bad taste as a viable ground for restriction of commercial speech.” 

slanted light
through meadow grass
the jackrabbit’s ears


lopsided moon
a phone message saying
the cat is dead

…………………….. by Carolyn Hall  – Acorn #16 (2006) 


April 24, 2007

around here silence is for driving not grieving

Filed under: viewpoint — David Giacalone @ 10:09 am

onedaysilenceV  vpi mumorial? is it just silent slackivism? Steli Eftihad to do something” about the terrible tragedy last week at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, where 33 victims died.  So, he came up with the idea of the One Day Blog Silence on April 30th, to honor the VPI victims and their families; he later extended the scope of the event to include “all victims” of violence worldwide.   For Steli (who calls himself The Supercool Principal of Supercool School and “a serial entrepreneur with expertise in sales, marketing, neuro-linguistic-programming & learning techniques”) “doing something” is not writing at his weblog and launching a non-writing memorial event.  Although I don’t want to fall into the negativity trap decried at The Wrong Advices, I do want to:

  1.       Declare that having my weblog go dark for a day does not — for me — seem like a useful way to honor the VPI victims.  It certainly does not have the impact of the two-minute national silence in Israel on Holocaust Remembrance Day (beautifully described by Lorelle in her post “Silence is a Memoriam, Not a Reason to Stop Blogging”)  Like Diane Levin at Online Guide to Mediation, I intend no disrespect to the many good-intentioned bloggers who join One Day of Silence, “But I have to ask, why?  Why be silent?  What is the point?  Why not use this as an opportunity to speak out? To rage against the machine? To stand up for whatever cause you believe in that will reduce human suffering or end violence?” (via LegalBlogWatch)
  2.      Point out the similarity of One Day Blog Silence to the symbolic and too-easy gestures that have been called slacktivism.  Diane Levin has a good point, when she saysOr, better yet [than writing about a cause], get away from the keyboard and actually do something?” As I noted in the posting “activism requires action,” discussing Not One Damn Dime Day:
    1. activism takes action not faux-action, as with  NODD 
    2. likely results are highly correlated with amount and duration of effort
    3. preaching to the choir is not an effective way to change minds (and neither is self-congratulation over your moral or intellectual superiority)
  3.     Opine that respecting the good intentions of others and their mode of expressing grief, dissent, or support, does not require instantly adopting their suggestions and passing them around the internet.  We each get to say, or at least ask ourselves: Does that make sense? For me?  Is it likely to be effective? Are there better ways to make the point effectively? [see our post “another one-day-gas boycott.” update: 9 PM: by coincidence, someone did a search today at Google for /gas boycott effective/ and our one-day boycott post was the #1 result.]
  4.     Note my confusion over the posting at geeksugar.com,  which asserts: “One Day Blog Silence does not mean that all of us bloggers need to set our computers aside and stop writing.  Rather, it is a chance for us to post the One Day Blog graphic on our sites to show remembrance and respect for the victims and their families.  No words and comments are needed.  Although you are encouraged and welcome to discuss this tragedy if you feel the need to do so.”  For me, being nice and showing solidarity does not mean posting someone’s logo and then ignoring its message.

Those of us who do not join the One Day Blog Silence perhaps have a responsibility to spend some time preparing a thoughtful posting for that day related to the violence at VPI.

Stillness of sand
in the hourglass bottom–
the sound of wind


The all-day snow–
in its bud vase
one rose tightly closed


Regulars gone
from the bus stop–
late autumn sun

………… by Rebecca Lilly, from Acorn #18 (2007)


 . . .  DriveNowTalkLaterN   On the other hand, when tempted to use your cellphone while driving, it is almost always a good idea to maintain your silence.   I’ve been writing about this topic for years (e.g., here and there) — and about the fact that banning handhelds is not sufficient, because the problem is one of distraction, which is just as bad when using headsets or speakerphones.  However, I  won’t get on my soapbox yet again to rail about the irresponsibility and purposeful denial of those who put themselves and others in danger by attending to cellphones or Blackberries instead of attending to their driving.  Nonetheless, in the spirit of doing (a little) something about it, I am mailing away today to the good folk at npr’s Car Talk show, for their yellow, red and gray bumper sticker, “Drive Now .. Talk Later!”  And I am telling you how to get a free copy yourself.  (You can get multiple copies for 20 cents each, but must agree not to resell them).  As Tom and Ray Magliozzi explain (while also revealing their preferred, but npr-rejected, wording):

CellphoneApe  For a free “Drive Now, Talk Later” Car Talk bumper sticker, just send a self-addressed business-size envelope with 39 cents [or the current first-class] postage on it to:

Bumper Sticker  
Car Talk Plaza
Box 3500 Harvard Square
Cambridge, MA 02238

I’ve never attached a bumper sticker to any vehicle of mine.  I plan to put one instead at on the inside bottom of my rear window, and place another one on the window behind my driver’s seat. 

DriveNowTalkLaterG Special thanks to the woman in the brandnew blue SUV on Clinton St. in Schenectady last Thursday, who inspired me to finally send for the Car Talk bumper sticker.   First, she almost ran over me as a pedestrian in the crosswalk, as she illegally used a handheld cellphone while turning from Union St.  Then, she blocked my driving away from my parking space for a couple of minutes, because she continued on the phone while simultaneously attempting to parallel park in the space ahead of me.

the old man stops
at a green light
driving into the sunset

….. by dagosan


April 23, 2007

libro et limbo etc.

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 11:12 am


WorldBookDay2007n Thanks to Toronto law librarian — and “info diva” — Connie Crosby, I discovered on Saturday that April 23rd is UNESCO’s World Book and Copyright Day.  To help celebrate that day, Connie is hosting Blawg Review #105 this week at her Connie Crosby Weblog. The organizers of World Book Day explain:

By celebrating this Day throughout the world, UNESCO seeks to promote reading, publishing and the protection of intellectual property through copyright. . . .

23 April is a symbolic date for world literature for on this date and in the same year of 1616, Cervantes, Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega all died.
The idea for this celebration originated in Catalonia where on 23 April, Saint George’s Day, a rose is traditionally given as a gift for each book sold.

Apparently, many gentlemen in Catalonia give a lady a rose on April 23rd and receive a book in return (and, let’s hope a kiss, too). The Wikipedia entry for the event tells us that: “On World Book Day a free book token is given to all school children in the United Kingdom and Ireland [where the Day is now inexplicably celebrated on the 1st Thursday in March]. . . . They can be used to buy one of the books that are released especially for the day and cost the value of the token or any other book or audiobook. Many schools also choose this day to hold a readathon or a book sale.” 

checkedBoxSRather than stress the Copyright Law protection aspect of the Day, I hope you’ll learn about the Fair Use exception to copyright.  We have an essay on Haiku and the Fair Use Doctrine here at f/k/a (which goes into the basics).  At shlep, you can find a discussion and collection of links to Fair Use materials, as well as excerpts from Brooklyn Law Prof. Jason Mazzone’s writing on the intriguing topic of Copyfraud — . . . . “false copyright claims, which are often accompanied by threatened litigation for reproducing a work without the owner’s permission, result in users seeking licenses and paying fees to reproduce works that are free for everyone to use.”

Thanks to the folks at UNESCO, you can download the 2007 World Book Day poster “in high-resolution PDF for your printing and reproduction needs”:

  1. Poster with text in English and French
  2. Poster without text (for you to add text in your language) 

on the bridge
hundreds died to defend
end-to-end graffiti

………………. by George Swede – Acorn #17 (2006)

cheek on her hand
… the pages
turn themselves

…………………………………. by peggy willis lyles

lunch alone
without a book
i read my mind

…………………………… by tom clausen 

LimboDante Limbo illustration orig. 

Lower Limbo Now: You surely read over the weekend that the Vatican has thrown into doubt the existence of limbo, and more directly throws doubt on the virtually universal Catholic belief (never deemed to be actual dogma, they note) that a baby who dies without baptism can never go to Heaven to be with God eternally, but must live outside the beatific vision in Limbo.  That’s because the infant “is with original sin.” It is all still very iffy, but after almost three years studying the issue, the Rev. Luis Ladaria (secretary-general of the Church’s International Theological Commission) gave the good news:

“We can say we have many reasons to hope that there is salvation for these babies.”

Happily, the blawgisphere had a refresher course on Limbo at Infamy or Praise, in Blawg Review #35. According to Dante’s Divine Comedy, the first circle of Hell comprises the souls of people who did not commit evil acts but who were not baptised and therefore cannot enter Heaven (several translators refer to these as the “Virtuous Pagans”) It includes the Limbo of the Children/Babies and Limbo of the Fathers.  More specifically, as to babies, the Associated Press tells us:

“Catholics have long believed that children who die without being baptized are with original sin and thus excluded from heaven, but the church has no formal doctrine on the matter. Theologians have long taught, however, that such children enjoy an eternal state of perfect natural happiness, a state commonly called limbo, but without being in communion with God.”

The new report has been approved by Pope Benedict XVI.  It is, however, far from a definitive statement on Limbo for Children.  The document stressed, that “these are reasons for prayerful hope, rather than grounds for sure knowledge.”  Therefore, “Catholic parents should still baptize their children, as that sacrament is the way salvation is revealed.”

passion flower
your faith
or mine?

open window
I polish a mirror
from my childhood home


cemetery road
the chain gang
breaks for lunch

traffic jam
my small son asks
who made God


…………….. by peggy willis lyles
“dust on the pews” & – “traffic jam” from To Hear the Rain (2002)
“open window” – FreeXpressSion, February 2007
“cemetary road”- Modern Haiku 37:3, Autumn 2006

As we noted at the time, a 2005 New York Times article gave details of the Vatican committee that would be looking into the limbo concept and outlined some of the issues at stake. “Limbo, an Afterlife Tradition, May Be Doomed by the Vatican” (Dec. 28, 2005). As Ian Fisher wrote for the Times:

“Unlike purgatory, a sort of waiting room to heaven for those with some venial faults, the theory of limbo consigned children outside of heaven on account of original sin alone. As a concept, limbo has long been out of favor anyway, as theologically questionable and unnecessarily harsh. It is hard to imagine depriving innocents of heaven.”

Actually, Fisher explained that Limbo was originally conceived as a more palatable possibility for unbaptized babies (and “virtuous pagans”).  Before its “creation”, St. Augustine’s vision was the Church’s position:

Fr.VentaloneS “The theology is complicated, but the bottom line is that Augustine, believing in mankind’s original sin, persuaded a church council in 418 to reject any notion of an ‘intermediary place’ between heaven and hell. He held that baptism was necessary for salvation, and that unbaptized babies would actually go to hell, though in his later writings he conceded that it would entail the mildest of [hellish] conditions.” 

The NYT article notes why the Church would give this lengthy bureaucratic assignment about a “theological hypothesis” to so many of its most talented experts at a time when its resources could be used so well elsewhere:

“But [limbo] remains an interesting relic, strangely relevant to what the Roman Catholic Church has been and what it wants to be. The theory of limbo bumps up against one of the most contentious issues for the church: abortion. If fetuses are human beings, what happens to their souls if they are aborted? It raises questions of how broadly the church – and its new leader – view the idea of salvation.

“And it has some real-life consequences. The church is growing most in poor places like Africa and Asia where infant mortality remains high. While the concerns of the experts reconsidering limbo are more theological, it does not hurt the church’s future if an African mother who has lost a baby can receive more hopeful news from her priest in 2005 than, say, an Italian mother did 100 years ago.”


waiting for you–
the faces
of missing children


children’s ICU–
a tissue box beside
the pay phone


……………………… by John Stevenson from Some of the Silence (1999)  


Fr.VentaloneN  There will surely be dissenters to this bleeding-heart approach to limbo and unbaptized babies and fetuses.   One priest wrote of his “serious concern” over tampering with the limbo doctrine, when the task was first assigned.  Writing “Could Limbo Be ‘Abolished’?“, in Seattle Catholic (Dec. 7, 2005), Fr. Brian W. Harrison, O.S.

 “Hence, I feel it important to stand by, and indeed, reinforce, the position I expressed earlier, to the effect that this potential new ‘development’ of doctrine is a matter of serious concern.  . . .  For such a document would inevitably accentuate the already-existing tendency for Catholic parents to be lax and negligent about having their children baptized promptly after birth, and would therefore run the risk of being partially, but gravely, responsible for barring Heaven to countless souls, in the event that Limbo does turn out to exist after all.”

If you’re interested, Fr. Harrison presents “a survey of recent and ancient magisterial teaching on this difficult question,” including this discussion of abortion victims:

“[I]t appears that the only papal statement expressly mentioning the destiny of aborted infants is that of Pope Sixtus V, whose Constitution Effrænatam of 29 October 1588 not only abstains from raising any hopes that they may attain the beatific vision, but positively affirms that they do not attain it!”

” . . . The soul of the unborn infant bears the imprint of God’s image! It is a soul for whose redemption Christ our Lord shed His precious blood, a soul capable of eternal blessedness and destined for the company of angels! Who, therefore, would not condemn and punish with the utmost severity the desecration committed by one who has excluded such a soul from the blessed vision of God? Such a one has done all he or she could possibly have done to prevent this soul from reaching the place prepared for it in heaven, and has deprived God of the service of this His own creature.”

LimboStick   In his hit song Limbo Rock, singer Chubby Checker urges dancers to “limbo lower now,” and asks “how low can you go“.  This issue limbo has struck a chord with me (causing me to belabor it here today), because Limbo for Babies has always symbolized my biggest complaint about the God that was described to me during my Catholic upbringing: He is supposedly all-loving and all-just (not to mention all-powerful), and yet he banishes otherwise innocent infants from His sight, because they carry guilt and degredation due to the purported sins of Adam and Eve.   Fr. Harrison asks who could be more terrible than an abortionist, “who has excluded such a soul from the blessed vision of God?”  Well, it’s apparently God who Catholics have for two thousand years saddled with responsibility for making the no-baptism-no-salvation rule.  

checkedBoxS As I’ve often said to my still-in-the-Church Catholic friends and loved ones: You paint a picture of God that insults both God and mankind.  I don’t buy it. The new, wishy-washy alternative possibility for the fate of unbaptized babies doesn’t make the Catholic version of God or mankind much more palatable.  I again have to wonder what the historical Jesus Christ would make of what the Catholic Church has done to his humble message of love.

Other views on putting Limbo into Limbo:

  1. At Seattle PI’s Snark Attack, D. Parvaz warns “I think Catholics are making a big mistake here in not realizing just how evil (and hence, doomed) unbaptized babies are. Really. Way to let ’em off the hook, Pope.”
  2. Michael Fountain laments the possible loss of limbo for the Virtuous Pagans: “That first generation of Christians had a problem, as if the Romans weren’t enough. If knowledge of Christ was a ticket to Heaven, what about their beloved grandparents, dead these many years, who wouldn’t know a Christian from Adam? If you love your grandma, you wouldn’t want to see her roasting in Hell with Nero…? The “Virtuous Pagans” teaching solved this psychological problem, and reconciled Heaven with the pagans’ Elysian Fields. “
  3. L.A. Catholic doesn’t seem to like the kinder-gentler fate for unbaptized dead babies, stressing “We should all tell everybody: The document is NOT infallible, and it does NOT say anything definitively.” 


cathedral garden
cardinals in the birdbath
scatter drops of light


river baptism
another frog
with just three legs

…………….. by peggy willis lyles
“river baptism” & “cathedral garden” – from To Hear the Rain (2002)


HelpWantedSign   Speaking of limbo, shlepother weblog, is still waiting to be adopted.  If you are interested in taking on management responsibility for an award-winning weblog focused on pro se litigation and the self-help law movement and community, please check out the above link and get in touch with me.


 Startling Starlings: photo by Richard Barnes in NYT orig.  starlingsRBarnesBYT 

         In his New York Times op/ed piece Flight Patterns (April 22, 2007), bird-watching maven Jonathan Rosen spotlights some amazing photography taken in Rome by Richard Barnes — looking at the swarming starlings that are “beloved by tourists and reviled by locals.”  Rosen tells us:

“Richard Barnes’s photographs capture the double nature of the birds — or at least the double nature of our relationship to them — recording the pointillist delicacy of the flock and something darker, almost sinister in the gathering mass.”

He concludes that “Bird-watching thrives on the recognition that the urban and the wild must be understood together. We are, after all, urban and wild ourselves, and still figuring out how to make the multiple aspects of our nature mesh without disaster.”  That juxtaposition of human nature with nature, and the tension of being both wild and “civilized” is at the heart of haiku.   I believe you will enjoy the multimedia interactive feature that accompanies this interesting article.


starlings on the telephone wire


……………….. by George Swede from Almost Unseen

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

…………… by Michael Dylan Welch – Thornewood Poems  


corporate parking lot
another starling
settles on the power line

…………….. by Yu ChangUpstate Dim Sum (2005/I)

April 22, 2007

around here the ice is already melted

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 10:17 pm

BlackberryNYT  Blackberry Blackout: In Sunday’s New York Times April 22, 2007), Matt Richtell has an op/ed piece that delves into the psychological reasons for the excessive attachment so many people have to their Blackberry devices — as especially demonstrated during the 12-hour blackout of the Blackberry network last week.  In “It Don’t Mean a Thing if You Ain’t Got That Ping,” Richtell asks, “what if what the users were missing was more primitive and insidious than uninterrupted access to information?”  Here are some of the notions he uncovered:

  1. “Experts who study computer use say the stated yearning to stay abreast of things may mask more visceral and powerful needs, as many self-aware users themselves will attest. Seductive, nearly inescapable needs.”
  2. “Some theorize that constant use becomes ritualistic physical behavior, even addiction, the absorption of nervous energy, like chomping gum.  This behavior is then fueled by powerful social motivators. Interaction with a device delivering data gives a feeling of validation, inclusion and desirability.”
  3. CellphoneApe “Several years ago, [Harvard psychiatry professor John] Ratey began using the term ‘acquired attention deficit disorder‘ to describe the condition of people who are accustomed to a constant stream of digital stimulation and feel bored in the absence of it. Regardless of whether the stimulation is from the Internet, TV or a cellphone, the brain, he said, is hijacked. “I liken it to a drug,” Mr. Ratey said. “Drug addicts don’t think; they just start moving. Like moving for your BlackBerry.”

Dr. Ratey likens the Blackberry problem “to a food addiction, which is one of the most beguiling for psychiatrists.” After all, he said, “food is essential for life, but problematic in excessive doses. And that’s what makes breaking technology addiction so difficult.”

his power out,
my son calls to talk about
nothing special

…………………………….. by John Stevenson – Acorn, No. 14, 2005


home alone
she blows a kiss
into a cellphone


around and around    blackberryG
learning the names
of one way streets


just long enough
to leave an impression

……………………………… by Yu Chang
“just long enough” – Upstate Dim Sum (2005/I)
“around and around” – Upstate Dim Sum (2001/II)
“home alone” –  Upstate Dim Sum (2004/II)  


skaterSignN  Thin Ice. Speaking of digital obsessions: I spent far too much time today re-formatting my Jan. 2006 post exploring the source of the maxim “if you’re walkin’ on thin ice, then you might as well dance.”  As often happens, I follow a link from our SlimStat page and discover that a visitor came to f/k/a because we had the #1 result in a Google search.  This time it was the query: dancin’ thin ice.  When I went to see our post, I discovered — as usual — that the formatting of the piece was in some way or other messed up when we changed webserver and weblog software last June.  My perfectionism then leads me to try to quickly fix the problem, and the result is almost always a bigger formatting mess (usually having to do with spacing and indentation).  

After several repair attempts, I ended up re-doing the entire piece as a new f/k/a Page — again called “dancin’ on thin ice.” The effort was not worth the time and aggravation, but the posting is pretty interesting, for those who missed it the first time and have a little spare time. 

    The talk of ice, coming as we are receiving our first too-hot (for me) weekend of 2007 here in Schenectady, NY, makes me want to reprise the ice-skating poems from that earlier posting:

coldest day of the year
the lone skater laps
his breath

………………… by George Swede from Almost Unseen 


figure skaters on lac la belle pirouetting into snow squalls  iceSkatesG


cold wind  
      the sweep of the speed skater’s arms

…………………………………… by  ed markowski  


dancin’ on thin ice?
the old guy’s
doin’ The Slide

….……………………. by dagosan  

 HaigaThinIceMagnaPs haiga from MagnaPoets (April 22, 2007)

round and round with you
on thin ice

photo: ARTHUR GIACALONE  orig.photo


April 20, 2007

CiteBite excitement

Filed under: q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 12:46 pm

 Before I stop my frantic weblogging, and head out to a gorgeous spring day, I must tell you about CiteBite (via today’s TVCAlert, pointing to LawLibTech).  Here’s how law librarian Cindy Chick describes Citebite:

  checkedBoxS    You’re heard of deep linking, which is one way of directing someone to a specific page in a web site. But often you want to point to a passage or quotation somewhere on that page. In that case, you need Cite Bite.

It’s very easy to create a Cite Bite page. You don’t have to install anything. Just visit Cite Bite, and cut and paste the URL and quotation into the appropriate boxes; Cite Bite will create a link that you can send on to others.  . . 

The concept is simple and useful. I would imagine that any researcher could use Cite Bite on a daily basis to make it a little easier to deliver just the necessary piece of information.

I hope I don’t go overboard with Citebite.  I’m sure, however, to use it regularly, and I bet a lot of webloggers and just plain folk will, too.  For example, even I have trouble finding passages in my 30-page magnum opus on the Graying of the Bar.  If I want, for example, to direct you (or myself) to the discussion of two important ABA Formal Ethics Opinions featured in the essay, I now can do it with this link created quickly at Citebite.

   Likewise, if I’d like a friend to enjoy a particular haiku by Martin Gottlieb Cohen that is easily lost among the many on its Roadrunner Haiku Journal page, Citebite gives me a deep link that goes right there to the poem.  Similarly, dagosan‘s first poem to win a prize can be located quickly at Roadrunner, by clicking here.


storm windows off:
the old man curses
the noisy neighbors

. . . . . . . by david giacalone, Nisqually Delta Review (Winter-Spring 2006, Errata Page

corzine and other incorrigibles

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 9:54 am

JonCorzine  The slogan atop the official website of New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine is the quote “Nothing is more important than the safety and security of our citizens . . . ”  It can now be revealed that the ellipsis replaces the words “unless the Governor’s in a hurry.”  As has been widely reported [Google news query], Gov. Corzine’s official SUV was involved in a traffic accident on April 12, along the Garden State Parkway near Atlantic City.  Despite his state’s strict, “primary violation” seatbelt laws, Corzine was riding in the front passenger seat without using his seatbelt.  In addition, the state trooper-driven SUV was traveling 91 mph in a 65 mph zone when it was clipped by another driver who swerved to avoid a third vehicle.  (See Many hope Corzine will become leading seat belt advocate, Newsday/AP, April 19, 2007).  The driver had his seatbelt on.  Corzine was thrown into the rear of the vehicle and was seriously injured by the impact; he is slowly recovering and was the only person injured in the accident.

Note: Corzine was purportedly late for a meeting between Don Imus and the defamed Rutgers U. women’s basketball team.   NJ law allows police officials to exceed the speed limit for emergencies, but I don’t think any reasonable person would consider this an emergency or 91 mph to be a reasonable speed under the circumstances.  Also, I’ve got to tell you: when I’m a passenger and the driver is speeding over 75, I always doublecheck to see that my seatbelt is securely fastened.

 “Seatbelt Laws . . . What Next, Comrade?”  (from victorystore.com ) seatbelt laws 

The lessons to be drawn are too obvious to belabor, but I’m in full agreement with the New York Times editorial “A Government of Laws and Seat Belts”  (April 19, 2007), which says “Whether you’re an ordinary citizen or the chief executive of a state, traffic laws cannot be considered optional — for your own safety and the safety of all those traveling around you.” and “Political leaders have a responsibility to set an example for the public.”  Corzine, a liberal Democrat, doesn’t even have the excuse of being a die-hard libertarian engaged in civil disobedience against seatbelt laws (see our prior post).  Corzine top aide said the Governor should be given the customary $46 ticket for violating the State’s seatbelt laws.  We shall see.

ProfMGrace I’m surprised that yesterday’s Insurance Journal article, “As Injured Gov. Corzine Recovers, N.J. Asks, ‘Why No Seat Belt?’” (April 19, 2007), doesn’t mention that irresponsible seatbelt scofflaws raise all of our insurance premiums with their unnecessary, additional injuries.  See this quick explanation from RiskProf‘s Martin Grace, in a Comment to an f/k/a posting.  Jon Corzine might ask himself how his seatbelt habits jibe with his goal of More Accessible, More Affordable Health Care for New Jersey (5/23/2005), and his seatbelt advocacy as a US Senator.

 Valentine’s Day
she reminds me
to fasten my seatbelt 

. . . . by michael dylan welch  
HSA Brady Contest; a glimpse of red: RMA 2000

Thanksgiving snow storm –
a seatbelt protects each
steaming pie

she eyes his wrinkled shirt —
a seatbelt saves
another life

………………. by dagosan

the big cat sleeps
in the same seat…
with the doll

………………………… by Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue

NoloSharkS  Speaking of New Jersey, irresponsible politicians and Prof. Grace, Martin’s quickie posting “The New Jersey Legislature is Made up Rocket Scientists” (April 17, 2007) led me to check out the linked NYT article abstract: New Jersey Diverts Billions, Endangering Pension Fund (April 4, 2007). If you love tsk-tsking over bad government check it out, along with the longer version of the story still available online from the Trentonian/AP, “New Jersey pension system could face $175 billion deficit” (April 5, 2007).  Former Goldman Sachs CEO Jon Corzine made cleaning up government an important part of his gubernatorial campaign.  Here’s a related excerpt from The Trentonian:

“Last year Governor Corzine told us he was going to put a stop to the pension fund shenanigans once and for all, and we took him at this word,” said Assemblyman Joe Malone, R-Bordentown. “But while he did end the practice of not making contributions to the fund, his administration apparently has continued to cook the books to artificially prop up the health of the system.”  

who knows where
their money’s been
scent of the marsh 



early spring
how much we make
of a little warmth


on the highway      pickup g   
everyone has passed me
clouds, moon, and stars

…………………………………………….. by John Stevenson
“on the highway” – Hermitage, Vol. 2, 2005
“early spring” – Geppo, Mar/Apr, 2005
“who knows where” – Reeds, No. 3, 2005 (haiga)

at least one third  bar assoc.  . . . . .

    Speaking of incorrigibles, insurance and rocket scientists, the American Trial Lawyers Association has managed to irk me yet again.  Their hypocrisy over the standard contingency fee is, of course, my worse problem with ATLA (see, e.g. prior post), as it often takes money unjustifiably out of the pockets of their clients to enrichen the lawyers.  Their silly and presumptuous public relations ploy of changing ATLA’s name to the American Association for Justice is also galling (see D&E, Overlawyered and LegalBlogWatch), as is their twisted use of Abraham Lincoln as their poster boy (prior post).  Now, as I discovered yesterday at the NPR Talking Justice weblog forum, ATLA/AAJ is blaming the insurance industry’s partial exemption from the antitrust laws under the McCarran-Ferguson Act [15 USC 1011, et seq.; MFA] for the woes of the victims of Hurrican Katrina.  In a posting titled “Stacking the Deck: A Closer Look at McCarran-Ferguson” (April 13, 2007) AAJ’s Josh Goldstein gives a sketchy hsitory and description of MFA and asserts:

“The result has been arbitrarily high insurance premiums and a stubborn unwillingness on behalf of the companies to provide policy holders with the sort of assistance they often desperately need. This particular tragedy played out on the national stage in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. But it often has proved true in the handling of other, less publicized, disasters.”

exit   “Under the present system, giant insurance companies, like Allstate and State Farm, can legally collude to fix prices, a chilling practice that serves as the very definition of anti-competitive conduct. McCarran-Ferguson also opens the door to agreements that assure policy holders don’t receive appropriate compensation in the wake of instances like Hurricane Katrina. And they can even divvy up areas, with one company agreeing to avoid areas monopolized by an alleged competitor.”

I’ve been for reform of the MFA exemption, which applies to “the business of insurance” when regulated by state law, for twenty years (and in fact drafted the FTC/DOJ proposal for MFA reform that was adopted by the President’s Commission on antitrust exemptions in 1978).  However, I can see no way that removing the insurance industry’s partial antitrust exemption would have helped Katrina victims.  For a more realistic picture of what reform of McCarran-Ferguson can and can’t achieve, see the Comments to this post at George Wallace’s Declarations & Exclusions website.

In addition, Goldstein has forgotten to mention that MFA specifically continues the applicability of the Sherman Act “to any agreement to boycott, coerce, or intimidate, or act of boycott, coercion, or intimidation.” [Sec. 1013(b)] This makes his “divvying up areas” scenario a little farfetched — as does the fact that many states have passed statutes that apply their own antitrust laws to insurance companies.  [This Cato Institute study by Professor Patricia M. Danzon concluded: “The practical import of the antitrust exemption has been eroded in recent years as courts have narrowed the definition of the business of insurance and broadened the definition of boycott and as an increasing number of states have subjected the industry to state antitrust law.” Danzon also found no evidence of harmful price fixing.]

Talking Justice is a very interesting place for the exchange of ideas, but for it to work the participating organizations need to take responsible, knowledgeable positions.

spring snow . . .  NoloSharkS 
melting before
our confidence


Palm Sunday  
young rabbits
in the pet store


Easter rain
you can tell
it was a snowman

…………………………………………….. by John Stevenson
“spring snow” – Hermitage, Vol. 3
“Palm Sunday” & “Easter rain” – Pilgrimage, 2006

hairyChestG   p.s. Whether or not you agreed with it, you probably enjoyed our blurb two days ago (via The Psychiatrist Blog) about the positive correlation between intelligence and excessive body hair.  A clarifcation is in order (and not just because I have neither a hairy back or arms): The story is not new, but was reported in the London Independent on July 12, 1996, under the headline “The hirsute of higher intelligence.”  

April 18, 2007

overly-protective orders?

Filed under: Haiga or Haibun,lawyer news or ethics — David Giacalone @ 8:31 pm

bpmbFuse The current edition of the Harvard Law Bulletin (Spring 2007) brings news of an important discussion, which I missed when it first arose last Fall, about the proper role of domestic violence protective orders.  This issue’s Ask the Professor column is by Assistant Professor Jeannie Suk, and titled “‘Divorce’ by prosecutorial demand: When do protection orders go too far?.”

        Prof. Suk argues that the feminist movement’s success in getting our society to recognize domestic violence as a crime has had an unintentional result: the overprotective intrusion of the criminal justice system into the homes of the women it meant to protect.  Suk asserts that “The point of domestic violence protection orders — in fact, the point of legal measures against domestic violence — is to protect the automony of women.” (emphasis added)  She complains that plea agreements that make a protection order permanent, keeping the defendant out of the home whether the woman wants him out or not, effectively divorce the couple. Prof. Suk points out that convicting the partner of a violation of a protection order has become a “proxy crime — a way of circumventing the burden of proof.”   Suk’s 69-page article, Criminal Law Comes Home, which details her arguments, appeared last year in the Yale Law Journal, Vol. 116, p. 2, 2006.  Click for an SSRN Abstract

I’m a longtime advocate for criminalizing domestic violence.  As a representative of scores of children who lived in households tainted by domestic violence, I often said that the best way to keep the children safe is to keep their mother safe.  Nonetheless, while being sympathetic to Prof. Suk’s concerns (and believing prosecutors can and should use more discretion and finer-tuned approaches), I am troubled by her notion that “the point” of criminal measures against domestic violence is “to protect the automony of women.”  A society chooses to criminalize behavior because we deem the behavior unacceptable and harmful to the society, no matter who commits it or who the victim is — not to fulfill the political or philosophical agenda of a particular gender. 

bombFuseN It doesn’t take much time observing couples and families with histories of domestic violence to know how high the recidivism rate is and how often a victim who invites the batterer back into a relationship and a home is quickly reinjured, threatened or terrorized.  Prosecutors can and should take this experience into account when shaping remedies and responses that also respect the unique situation of each couple and family.  A mechanism should be in place that permits a stay-away order to be lifted, after an appropriate period, when voluntarily sought by the former victim and buttressed by proof that the defendant has worked on dealing with anger management and any substance abuse or similar issues that may contribute to the likelihood of repeat violence.  If children are involved, special care must be taken, but arrangements should be made for a defendant parent to have appropriate (perhaps supervised) visitation.

  thin winter coat
so little protection
against her boyfriend

. . . . . . . . . . . . by John Stevenson – Quiet Enough (2004)   

    With a little research, I discovered that this topic was previously covered last December by Walter Olson at Overlawyered.com.  He pointed us to an article by Vermont Law School professor Cheryl Hanna, titled “Because Breaking Up Is Hard To Do,” 116 Yale L.J. Pocket Part 92 (2006).  Walter says Hanna “argues that current legal trends appropriately treat alleged domestic violence as a crime against the state and not just against the nominal victim, and that it is wrong to place too much emphasis on accusers’ supposed right to forgive abusive conduct ”  Her article is a bit more nuanced.  Prof. Hanna is troubled by Suk’s “near obsession with basing law and policy on what victims want.”  Hanna makes a number of excellent points, including:

  1.  “To base any legal doctrine or policy on autonomy compromised by violence is misguided and will likely undermine the progress that has been made in protecting intimate partners from abuse.”
  2. “. . . I am more concerned about the under-enforcement of domestic violence laws throughout the country than the over-enforcement that troubles Suk.”  And,
  3. “The goal, then, is to refine our practices, but not to return to a time when the law and its officers were unable or unwilling to intervene when abuse happened behind closed doors. Violence cannot seek sanctuary in our homes. The criminal law’s role is to exorcise it so that love and intimacy can flourish.” 

Prof. Hanna’s piece deserves a full reading, as does Prof. Suk’s.  For now, though, I suggest you first consider this excellent haibun (prose plus haiku) by lawyer-haijin Roberta Beary:


stranger danger

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)   bpmbFuse

April 17, 2007

lawyer survey: when do you plan to retire?

Filed under: lawyer news or ethics,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 5:30 pm

 exitSignArrow  You may recall that I speculated last month, in the giant essay on the Graying Bar, about large numbers of lawyers working well past “normal” retirement age.  Many experts are predicting delayed retirement by lawyers, and a study last year in Ontario, Canada, showed the trend has already begun.  With leaders of the organized bar, including the New York Bar Association (see our April 2 post), pressing for an end to mandatory lawyer retirement, and the EEOC litigating law firm age discrimination in the Sidley & Austin case, more and more lawyers will surely be working into their 70’s.

      Recently, I ran across an article that details the results of a survey on retirement and disability planning done last summer by the Oregon Attorney Assistance Program.  The findings are more than interesting.  For example, “Speaking of Retirement” (OAAP In Sight Magazine, Sept. 2006) notes that:

“About 80% of sole practitioners report that they have not made any arrangements with another attorney to cover their practice if they are temporarily unable to practice due to disability or extended absence or to close their practice due to permanent disability or death.”

In addition, “over 40% of the Oregon lawyers surveyed plan to continue to practice law or work after age 70” and “11% to 12% of the Oregon lawyers surveyed do not plan to ever retire.”  Here are some of the findings from the Envisioning Retirement section of the survey:


• 11% to 12% of the Oregon lawyers surveyed do not plan to ever retire. They plan to continue to practice fulltime or part-time until they die or are no longer capable of practicing.

• 30% plan to continue practicing law part-time after age 65 mainly for the stimulation, sense of purpose, and satisfaction it provides.

• 11% plan to continue practicing law part-time after age 65 primarily for the income it will provide.

• 18% plan to retire completely and no longer work for pay by age 65; almost 60% plan to do so by age 70; over 40% of the Oregon lawyers surveyed plan to continue to practice law or work after age 70.

These numbers make the questions about the continued competence of superannuated lawyers raised in the Graying Bar essay seem even more urgent.  If you know of other surveys on this topic, please let me know in a Comment or by email. If you’d like to tell us your retirement plans (or lack thereof), you’re invited to leave a Comment.  [update (7 PM).  As we lawyers like to say: but see 100-year-old attorney beats law of averages,” Deseret [UT] Morning News (April 13, 2007) Solo practitioner “Richard Bird has not only turned 100, but he still has his driver’s license (it expires in 2010), his downtown law practice, his wood-paneled law office and a mind that remains, if my recent conversation with him is any indication, as sharp as the day he graduated from Harvard Law School in 1933.(via LegalBlogWatch and MyShingle)]


retirement options
          first ice
rims the campus pond

……… by George SwedeThe Heron’s Nest Vol. 5:5


 ………………………….  q.s. quickies QkeyNs sKeyNs  

DrMTempest  Are you aware of the Body Hair Correlation? At The Psychiatrist Blog, Dr. Michell Tempest notes (via Barrister Blog Weekly Review):

[I]n a study published by psychiatrist Dr Aikarakudy Alias, it was found that men with excessive body hair may be associated with higher intelligence.

Alias’s research focused on mecial students in the USA, which showed that 45% of male student doctors were ‘very hairy’, compared with less than 10% in the general population. Further investigations showed that hairer men got better grades when student academic rankings were compared.

hairyChestG  Alias went onto study 117 Mensa members (who have an IQ of at least 140) and found that this group tended to have thick body hair. In fact, men with hair on their backs as well as their chests seemed to have the highest IQ’s within the Mensa members.

Hairless Arizona Appraisers?  The above blurb makes me wonder just how hirsute the members of the Arizona Board of Appraisers might be. (via Overlawyered.com)  You see: “Arizona regulators have ordered a Seattle-based online home price estimator to stop doing business in the state.”  According to the AP/Tucson Citizen, “Arizona bars online home price estimator” (April 15, 2007):

hairyChestN “The Arizona Board of Appraisal issued two cease-and-desist letters to the company that operates the popular real estate Web site Zillow, saying it needs an appraiser license to offer its ‘zestimates’ in Arizona.  ‘It is the board’s feeling that (Zillow) is providing an appraisal,’ Deborah Pearson, the board’s executive director, said Friday.” 

As you may know, Zillow.com provides free information on over 70 million homes in the USA, giving its zestimates of the value of more than half of the residences. (It even as a weblog)  Zillow makes clear that its zestimates are not appraisals, giving much cautionary advice about how to use the numbers and get better information.  On a page called  
What’s a Zestimate™ value?, their explanation begins: “The Zestimate™ (pronounced ZEST-ti-met, rhymes with estimate) home valuation is Zillow’s estimated market value, computed using a proprietary formula. It is not an appraisal. It is a starting point in determining a home’s value.”  Almost makes me nostalgic for lawyer Unauthorized Practice committees.

NHTaxDeadlineMagnaS orig. Have you enjoyed the MagnaPoets Japanese Form weblog yet?  Why not?  The image above is my recent MJF nod to Tax Day; it’s a haiga posted April 15, 2007. Click to see the larger image.  Here’s the accompanying poem:

 tax deadline
     we count dependents
            and contributions

 photo: MAMA G.


Dignity Police censure Felder for penning “Schmucks!”

Filed under: lawyer news or ethics — David Giacalone @ 11:26 am

       If Prof. Vololkh is right about the First Amendment and lawyers (see our prior post), (in)famous divorce lawyer Raoul Felder should have made a porno flick, instead of co-authoring the naughty and purportedly hilarious book Schmucks!: Our Favorite Fakes, Frauds, Lowlifes, Liars, the Armed and Dangerous, and Good Guys Gone Bad with the notoriously caustic and crude standup comic Jackie Mason (video weblog).   And, if you need proof that the law profession’s Dignity Police are in charge in New York State, this episode should be Exhibit A (see our post the bar’s undignified self-importance). 

RaoulFelderMug Felder is currently the Chair of the NY Commission on Judicial Conduct, but he won’t be for long, if his ten colleagues on the Commission and Governor Eliot Spitzer have their way.  Schmucks! was released the last week of March.  On Friday, the CJC — without any input from their Chair — met and unanimously voted to censure Felder, in a Statement of No Confidence (April 13, 2007; the accompanying press release identifies and notes who appointed each of the commission members; via Room8).  Here are excerpts from the No Confidence statement (emphases added):

  1. The members of the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct hereby express a loss of confidence in the judgment and leadership of the Chair of the Commission, Raoul Felder.
  2. As the agency of government charged with the serious and sensitive task of reviewing allegations of misconduct against judges … the Commission must at all times be and appear to be an example of probity and discretion, as well as independence, integrity and impartiality – the very qualities we require of our judiciary.
  3. We expect all members of the Commission, and especially the Chair, to forgo certain rights and privileges in order to avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety and to maintain the trust and confidence of the public and the judiciary. The Chair is not free, for example to express publicly, even in his private capacity, opinions that might reasonably cast doubt on the Chair’s or Commission’s ability to be and appear fair and impartial, or opinions that undermine the integrity and dignity of the office of Chair.

Schmucks!CoverThe Commission asserts that its “loss of confidence in Mr. Felder’s judgment is rooted in a book he recently co-authored,” and goes on to say:

Much of the material in this book, and the work as a whole, undermine the appearance of impartiality, and the dignity and probity that is required of the Commission and its Chair. Although the book purports to be a work of humor, much of it is crude, biased, vulgar and otherwise demeaning. . . .
• The book repeatedly invokes racial, ethnic and religious invective. …
• The book asserts that “anytime you hear the word ‘allegedly,’ you can bet it’s true.”…
• The book claims that “nothing in our country is more insidious than affirmative action.” …

The last words of the Statement are “We are exploring our options in terms of removing him as Chair.”  According to the New York Post, so is our politically-correct NY Governor Eliot Spitzer.  “GOV TO RAOUL: QUIT – OR ELSE,” by Inside Albany columnist Fred Dicker, April 16, 2007. (and see today’s AP coverage) The Post says that Spitzer “called on celebrity lawyer Raoul Felder to quit the state Commission on Judicial Conduct or face possible ouster [in a disciplinary procedure] because of ‘inappropriate’ comments in his new book, “Schmucks.”  Spitzer, “a former attorney general and a Harvard Law graduate,” told the Post

“The comments that are in the book are inappropriate and simply wrong for one who sits, as Mr. Felder does, in a position as chair of a commission that judges the behavior of judges.”

SpitzerE “It is one matter for him to say, ‘I have First Amendment rights,’ as, of course, he does. But it is a totally different matter for him to make comments that would be highly inappropriate for members of the bench and for him to sit and pass judgment on our judges, who made similar comments that would be appropriately criticized and lead to sanctions.”

Columnist Dicker has this to say about Schmucks!:

“A review of the new book by The Post found many crude and insulting references to prominent people on the liberal or left side of the political spectrum – including Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, former President Bill Clinton, and the Rev. Al Sharpton – deemed “schmucks” by the generally right-of-center authors.

“While there were several “ethnic” references, including several gibes at Felder’s and Mason’s fellow Jews, there were no explicit examples of racial insults and several statements in favor of racial equality.”

A New York Times article on Saturday also described the book, noting that it includes a chapter on the NYT (calling it “unfit to print”), for example:

Mr. Felder and Mr. Mason, longtime friends, appear as cartoon superheroes on the cover of the book…

They take shots at a number of public figures and ethnic groups. Barbra Streisand is dubbed “Mentl” and the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, is “Botox-addicted.” Chapters in the book take on Tom Cruise and France and have titles like “Al Sharpton, Praise the Lard.” . . .

The tone of the book is a familiar one to fans of Mr. Mason, who has been condemned by various groups in the past for jokes that veered over racially sensitive lines. . . .  

Referring to Saudi Arabia, the authors write, “We never cared much for men who wear bedsheets as clothing. Like the Ku Klux Klan. And the Saudis.”

Felder was quoted last Friday by SILive/AP:

“Loosen up guys, this is humor,” Felder said Friday. “This is America. This can’t happen here.”

“I would feel better as an American if they could point to something, some official act I have done, where I haven’t acted appropriately or somebody feels their rights were infringed by anything I’ve done. And they can’t do that.” 

Just when I was about to wind up this posting, I hit Google News again and see that the Felder story is getting a lot more coverage today. According to the New York Sun, “Floyd Abrams may stand by Raoul Felder’s Side,” April 17, 2007.   The NY Law Journal/Law.com posted “N.Y. Judicial Conduct Commission Throws the Book at Chairman-Author.”  The NYLJ article notes that “Felder is known for his ability to come up with a provocative phrase” and that “Felder has teamed up with Mason in a number of ventures, ” including a weekly TV show for the Public Broadcasting Service, “Crossing the Line,” and a show on BBC called “The Mason-Felder Report.”   The NYPost‘s Fred Dicker takes up the subject again today, in a piece headlined “Raoul Defiant: Refuses Gov’s demand to quit.”

Today’s NYPost article makes it clear that Felder will continue the First Amendment theme:

“I supported Gov. Spitzer. I still support him. He understands that I cannot step down for this reason, and we’ll battle it out,” Felder told WROW-AM in Albany.

Felder called the fight a “First Amendment question” and predicted that if the governor seeks his ouster – as Spitzer said was likely – the case will wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court.   

“They’ve made it impossible for me to step down,” said Felder, adding that he had been considering resigning in late August before the book flap developed.

“The next time they may not like something that next guy likes. It’s scary, so I can’t do it,” Felder continued.

According to a Press Release by Dean G. Yuzek, Attorney for Hon. Marian R. Shelton (April 16, 2007), it was a letter on April 12, 2007 by the embattled Judge Shelton that spurred the No Confidence vote by the Commission.  The press release makes some interesting points, including (emphasis added):

JackieMasonLogo  “Although Chairman Felder’s “Schmucks” book has been out since March 27, similar material from Mr. Felder (“crude, biased, vulgar and otherwise demeaning” in the Commission’s phrasing) appears as well in his earlier books, about which the Commissioners knew or should have known. That the Commission acted as it did only under Judge Shelton’s prodding (and has not acknowledged that her letter caused it to address the issue) is hypocritical. Indeed, the vote of no confidence begs the question of where Mr. Felder’s fellow Commissioners were before last Friday.

“A small caveat is in order: although as a first step towards Mr. Felder’s possible removal the other members’ vote is important, it should be a matter of concern that Mr. Felder was hardly provided with due process by his Commission colleagues. Within four hours of receipt of Judge Shelton’s letter- and the knowledge that it was in the hands of the press – he had been tried and his fate sealed. One would have thought that a panel which counts among its members eminent civil liberties champions would have given him a meaningful opportunity to defend himself. However, because of her belief that Mr. Felder leads a group that thinks it is appropriate to trample on a judge’s due process rights and is willing to impose “career capital punishment” using the lowest evidentiary standard, Judge Shelton’s sympathy is muted.”

Like Judge Shelton, I also wonder how it can be that the Commission just realized that Rauol Felder says controversial and crude things (and pals around personally and professionally with Jackie Mason)?   Ten years ago, Felder wrote the New York Times op/ed piece Two-Fisted Lawyering: “I’m Paid to Be Rude” (July 17, 1997), dissenting to Chief Judge Kaye’s push for a code of civility for New York lawyers (and suggesting that the code was an inept attempt to counter the bad reputation that lawyers received due to the O J Simpson murder case).  Since then, his reputation for controversy and the frequent barbaric barb has certainly not diminished.  Nonetheless, only last year, his colleagues on the Commission selected him as their Chair, after serving with him since 2003.  (“Lawyer Attacked for Book His Panel Deems Offensive,” New York Times, April 14, 2007)  

          Schmucks!CoverN  What has changed so much that the Commission rushed to condemn Felder publicly, without giving him a chance to reply?   Well, the weekend New York Times article notes that the No Confidence vote “came amid a heated national debate over the racially and sexually charged language used by Don Imus to describe the Rutgers University women’s basketball team. . . . The commission said its decision was not related to that controversy.”    New York’s legal Dignity Police (and political correctness watchdogs) need to be curbed.  I’m looking forward to Felder’s First Amendment fight [and to the June trial in federal court on the new NY advertising rules; via legalblogwatch

    update (April 18, 2007): Prof. Euguene Volokh posted thoughtfully today in a piece title “Should Condemning Affirmative Action Disqualify You from Membership on a State Judicial Conduct Commission?”  After noting “I do not want to argue that the Commission’s action is unconstitutional,” Eugene states:  “But I’m quite troubled by the theory that criticism of affirmative action — even somewhat overstated criticism (I’m sure something in our country is more insidious than affirmative action) — should be seen as casting doubt on the person’s fitness to serve on a judicial conduct commission, or as the judicial conduct commission’s chair.” He gives examples of other programs that a public official might disagree with and argues:

“We assume that people who disapprove of programs are nonetheless able to fairly decide factual and legal questions raised by people who happen to be beneficiaries of the programs; otherwise, nearly no-one would be eligible for judicial or quasi-judicial office. Why would affirmative action be a sacred cow to which this assumption doesn’t apply?”

Prof. V concludes: “I speak here of the Commission’s statement and its reasons for the statement; perhaps the book’s discussion of affirmative action deserves censure, but I’m relying on the Commission’s defense of its own position, which strikes me as quite unpersuasive.”   Meanwhile see Fred Dicker’s JACKIE [Mason] RIPS BOOK-CRITIC GOVERNOR, NY Post (April 18, 2007) and N.Y. Governor Criticizes Judicial Conduct Commission Chairman Over Humor Book, NYLJ/Law.com (April 18, 2007). 

    After all this controversy, I need a few haiku from a New York haijin who’s judgment I always trust, Tom Clausen:

the cat’s grave
our dog


after speaking importantly  microphoneG  
  she quickly resumes
  sucking her thumb


playing a childs game
    I learn all
     his rules


the load tied down —
her painted toe nails
on the dashboard

………………………….. by Tom Clausen 
“marking” – The Heron’s Nest (March 2007)
“after” & “playing” from Homework (2000); “the load” Upstate Dim Sum (2003/II)


April 16, 2007

tax day: self-pity and better attitudes

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,viewpoint — David Giacalone @ 10:21 am

       We don’t know who Googled [opposite of self-pity] yesterday afternoon, April 15.  The searcher found his or her way to f/k/a, because the very first Google result (out of over a million) was our Thanksgiving 2005 posting “self-pity: the opposite of thanksgiving.”  There’s a good chance the querist was an American despairing over his or her last-minute income tax preparation chores.  If so, I hope the message in our Thanksgiving piece brought some peace of mind.

We discussed Ted Koppel’s last Nightline show.  MorrieDVD the movie

Ted decided to bow out by reprising highlights from his acclaimed interviews with Morrie Schwartz, the wise retired professor who wanted to talk about dying (he had ALS), and who became the subject of Mitch Albom’s mega-hit book, Tuesdays with Morrie.  Despite their popularity, the Albom book and the Nightline interviews contain much wisdom about dying and living with dignity, grace, humor and hope.   In a nation where we find rampant discontent, among people enjoying a myriad of blessings, Morrie Schwartz’s refusal to wallow in self-pity as he lost control of his body and neared death, is not merely a good example — it is a recipe for much fuller and happier lives. 

TuesdaysMorrieCover  Albom asked Morrie if he ever felt sorry for himself.  Morrie replied that he cried a little first thing in the morning, as he surveyed which parts of his body he could still move, adding, “Mitch, I don’t allow myself any more self-pity than that.  A little each morning, and few tears, and that’s all . . . “It’s only horrible if you see it that way.”  The next result to the Google query had a similar message.  See “Torah with Morrie,” by Rabbi Boruch Leff, who says: “The essential ingredient of our joy is not what we have but what we are and how we think. We can control our thoughts and attitudes.”

Tax Day. Which emoticon did you choose?  tax day 

Of course, if you’re the kind of Tax Whiner who needs a kick in the butt rather than a few words of philosophic wisdom, before improving your attitude toward rendering to Caesar, feel free to check out any or all of our prior Tax Day harangues:



ghosts of tax days past [The Easter Carol] (2006)
tax day —   erasingS 
a battery-powered breeze
stirs the desk chimes

nearly dark–
snow deepens
on the baseball field

. . . . . . ………… by billie wilson 
“nearly dark” – Acorn 15 (2005); “tax day” –  The Heron’s Nest

QkeyNs sKeyNs   q.s. quickies  There are a number of tax-related articles in today’s New York Times (April 16, 2007) that merit a mention and a look:

  1. In “A Few Good Lawyers,” Columbia Law School dean and tax lawyer David M. Schizer says that
    “The tax system can be only as strong as the people who run it, so the government has to recruit and retain the most promising talent.”  He stresses that senior IRS lawyers make only 10% of the million-dollars+ a year tax partners bring down in law firms.  His solution, of course, is to have the Government pay a lot more for its tax lawyers.  Dean Schizer makes me rather nostaligic for the days when we served the public without needed to become millionaires. 
  2. David Cay Johnston notes in “I.R.S. Audits Middle Class More Often, More Quickly,” the the I.R.S. has nearly tripled audits of tax returns filed by people making $25,000 to $100,000 since 2000.
  3. The NYT editorial Cleaning up the alternative tax correctly argues that “The alternative tax should be reformed so that it does what it is supposed to do: make wealthy taxpayers with excessive tax shelters pay up.” Of course, only capturing the very rich with AMT will require that monies be recouped elsewhere.  The editorial suggests how to do that, noting “The lower rate for capital gains is one of the biggest breaks in the code. But under the law, capital gains are not classified as sheltered income subject to the alternative tax.”  That should be fixed when AMT is repaired —  capital gains should be treated the same as other tax breaks under the alternative tax.
  4. In “Tax Returns Rise for Immigrants in U.S. Illegally,” by Nina Bernstein, we learn that many illegal immigrants feel an obligation to pay their share of taxes, and others hope to create a paper trail that could lead to citizenship one day.

tax audit —
dents in damp grass
from the mower’s wheels

………………………… by michael dylan welchThe Heron’s Nest (July 2004)

p.s. Blawg Review has literally and figuratively “gone to the dogs,” with Sheryl Schelin’s posting today of Blawg Review #104 at her SC Employment Law weblog.  Don’t let allergies to canine creatures or concept-carnivals keep you for checking out Bad Dog’s discussion of the best lawblog posting from the past week.  Thanks to Bad Dog for pointing (unmentionably) to our Saturday post on softpornEsq and the First Amendment.

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