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

May 31, 2007

whale-fare reform

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 10:11 am

whaleG Delta & Dawn:  I can’t decide what to think about the frenzy over Delta and Dawn, the mother-and-calf pair of injured humpback whales, which were discovered way off-course in the Sacramento River two weeks ago, and may have finally made their way back out to sea last night.  See “Whales vanish with the morning fog,” San Jose Mercury News (May 31, 2007) and “Thousands watch wales depart California port,” WISN.com (May 20, 2007).  The California Highway Patrol was unable to discourage folks from clogging the seaside roads trying to get a peek at D&D.  After Lt. Gov. John Garamendi named the whales Delta and Dawn, “after the Helen Reddy song,” CHP acknowledged its losing battle and advised the sight-seakers to bring water and a lot of patience.   Apparently, some whale watchers are quite disappointed that D&D didn’t put on a farewell-and-thankyou show before slipping past the Golden Gate Bridge overnight.  Today’s San Jose Mercury News gives a taste of the disappointment:

whaleDelta [AP photo] The dozens of rescue team members who tried to lure them with whale songs and push them with banging pipes, who scared them with fire hoses and nursed their wounds with giant syringes of antibiotics, spent Wednesday on the San Francisco Bay wondering which way the mammals went. “If we have learned anything about these two, they are going to do what they want to do, when they want to do it,” said Bernadette Fees, a spokeswoman with the California Department of Fish and Game.

Should we rejoice at the attention paid to Delta and Dawn, seeing it as an outpouring of love and interest for fellow mammals in distress and affirmation of human bonds to nature?  Or is it a sad demonstration that — if you’re not already a celebrity — you have to be very large or very cute to capture the fancy of the average American?  Perhaps it is both, and the episode will be an inspiration for some good haiku or senryu.  One result of the tale of Dawn and Delta is an interesting column in today’s New York Times,  “Speak Whale to Me” (May 31, 2007).  In it, professor of philosophy and music, David Rothenberg point out just how hard it is to figure out why whales do what they do.  For example, he says: 

“Because only the males sing, scientists long assumed that their songs were mating calls directed at females — like bird song in spring. But observation of humpback whale behavior has revealed that females actually pay no attention to the males’ singing. . . . So marine biologists tried playing feeding calls. This strategy worked 22 years ago when Humphrey, another humpback, was stuck in the same river. This time, it didn’t work.”

Rothenberg concludes, “It’s not easy to tell great whales what to do; it is even harder to figure out what drives them. But it is encouraging to see how many people have rallied round the cause of this stranded family.”


migrating whales  whaleG
all our footprints
wash away


unpacking a new home —
do whales strand themselves
in this bay?


…….. by paul m. – from The Heron’s Nest 
“migrating whales” – THN Poem of the Year  [2002]


hands on the rail . . .
the humpback whale
doesn’t resurface

…………….. by Randy Brooks, WHR Vintage Haiku of Randy Brooks


whale2 Speaking of not paying attention to males, check out Linda Greenhouse’s article, “Oral Dissents Give Ginsburg a New Voice on Court,” New York Times (May 31, 2007). Greenhouse say that the current term of the U.S. Supreme Court “will be remembered as the time when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg found her voice, and used it.”  Going against her collegial, get-along posture of prior years:

“Both in the abortion case the court decided last month and the discrimination ruling it issued on Tuesday, Justice Ginsburg read forceful dissents from the bench. “

Greenhouse points out that “To read a dissent aloud is an act of theater that justices use to convey their view that the majority is not only mistaken, but profoundly wrong.”  The article has quotes from numerous Ginsberg watchers on why she’s decided to speak out at this time.  [There is an NYT editorial today, “Injustice 5, Justice 4” (May 31, 2007), that sees this week’s pay discrimination lawsuit decision, Ledbetter v. Goodyear, as “the latest indication that a court that once proudly stood up for the disadvantaged is increasingly protective of the powerful.” You can read about the case at Legal Blog Watch, which has lots of links to other coverage of Court’s decision.]


 A Haibun by Andrew Riutta

 – Andrew Riutta

In two days she turns just twenty-one. Twenty-one. So young. So pale. I tell her she should stay away from the bars. I tell her she should go out west and save the whales, or a redwood-or the endangered laughter of working-class people who go out on porches at dusk to hum the same hymns over and over in their heads that their grand- parents did. She tells me that saving herself from her father is hard enough.

peaceful autumn-
a window display
of hunter’s orange
 – andrew riutta – Simply Haiku Summer 2006


murky sky—
the tug of emptiness
on a fish pole


distant foghorn—
a perfect stone
skips forever

…………………. by Andrew Riutta
“murky sky” – World Haiku Review Peace Bridge
“distant foghorn” – Haiku Harvest (Vol. 5:1, Fall/Winter 2005)


May 29, 2007

judges favor lawyers (and other unsurprising things)

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 8:49 am

 dandelion  Here are a few quickies on topics that deserve a much closer look than I can manage right now (are you surprised, after a lazy holiday weekend?). 

she tells me dandelion
is a weed
….. by Roberta Beary (Shiki Kukai, May 2007)

Judges Tilt Toward Lawyers: JudgeTilt

 “I believe that I have stumbled upon a heretofore undiscovered theory that explains and predicts decisions in any case that seriously affects the legal profession.

“Here is my lawyer-judge hypothesis in a nutshell: many legal outcomes can be explained, and future cases predicted, by asking a very simple question: is there a plausible legal result in this case that will significantly affect the interests of the legal profession (positively or negatively)?  If so, the case will be decided in the way that offers the best result for the legal profession.”

Those words are from U. Tennessee law professor Benjamin Barton’s interesting and insightful paper “Do Judges Systematically Favor the Interests of the Legal Profession?” (May 2007, 44-pp pdf;via Empirical Legal Studies Blog).  Using theoretical support from the new institutionalism, cognitive psychology and economic theory, Prof. Barton looks at caselaw and legal doctrine “from areas as diverse as constitutional law, torts, professional responsibility, employment law, evidence, and criminal procedure.”  He answers the following questions:

“[W[hy are lawyers the only American profession to be truly and completely self-regulated?  Why is it that the attorney-client privilege is the oldest and most jealously protected professional privilege? Why is it that the Supreme Court has repeatedly struck down bans on commercial speech, except for bans on in-person lawyer solicitations and some types of lawyer advertising? Why is it that the Miranda right to consult with an attorney is more protected than the right to remain silent? Why is legal malpractice so much harder to prove than medical malpractice?” 

Barton’s discussion of each area deserves separate treatment, and I hope other legal webloggers will take a look at topics in their areas of expertise.  I will simply point here to his discussion of an issue frequently featured at this weblog (most recently, here) — indefensible limitations on the commercial free speech rights of invidual lawyers based on the legal profession’s desire to uphold its image and enforce its pathetic notion of dignity. After showing the broad free speech rights given other vendors and professionals, Prof. Barton focuses on the Supreme Court decision in Florida Bar v. Went For It, 515 U.S. 618 (1995), which he notes “includes no allegation that the advertising at issue is actually or even potentially false or misleading. Instead, the biggest problem seems to be the effect upon the public perception of lawyers.”  He concludes:

Moreover, the harm to reputation justification is in direct conflict with the Court’s resistance to the suppression of commercial speech on “paternalistic” grounds,145 and the Court’s earlier holding that lawyer advertising cannot be banned on “the mere possibility that some members of the population might find [the advertising] offensive” or that “some members of the bar might find [it] beneath their dignity.”

a flying crow
has something in its beak
the silence
……………….. by Devar Dahl (Shiki Kukai, May 2007) 


old dog
up the stairs
in my arms
….. by Roberta Beary – Shiki Kukai (free format-1st place, May 2007)

wolf’s howl
the heat of the campfire
on our faces

……………… by ed markowski (Shiki Kukai, May 2007)

bottlesNYT  Bottles Bottles Everywhere: I hope you won’t miss Sunday’s New York Times article “The Unintended Consequences of Hyperhydration, by Jon Mooallem” (May 27, 2007)?  Focusing on the enormous problems caused by our nation’s new attachment to little bottles of water, the piece looks at the history of Bottle Bill legislation and demonstrates just how dificult it can be to fashion laws that fairly treat a problem that has economic, environmental and social ramifications — especially in the face of massive opposition from well-financed lobbyists.   Here are some of the most telling points made:  

  1. “This year, Americans will drink more than 30 billion single-serving bottles of water.”
  2. “Bills to update existing laws [which do not cover non-carbonated beverages and are still set at a nickel a bottle] or pass one in a non-bottle-bill state typically flail around in committee until, clobbered by the powerful grocery and beverage industry lobbies or skipped over for sexier environmental issues, they disappear. This year, however, the Oregon campaign, along with similar ones in New York and Connecticut, have gained greater traction.”
  3. “Bottled-water companies claim that, because water is not distributed in strict territories like soda and beer, keeping track of their nickels will be even more difficult.”
  4. “Several industry people told me that water’s most exciting growth is now in sales of large multipacks or flats of single-serving bottles — stockpiles that we keep in our pantries or garages and grab a few bottles from on our way out the door. The obvious question then is, why not fill up a reusable bottle from the tap and take that with us. “ [we know the answer don’t we? Americans are “too busy” to be responsible]

The article looks at the complex systems that have been created to recycle returned bottles; the unexpected rise of municipal curbside recycling; the impact of various proposals on the homeless and working poor who collect bottles to make a living.  As an old curmudgeon who has often noted that in my day we only needed to carry our own water supply when going hiking or camping (and then we used reusuable canteens!), I got a kick out of this passage in the NYT article:

Michelle Barry of the market research firm the Hartman Group told me, “Water is not really critically considered” — not even the object itself, it seems. “We believe bottled water has become less about the physical act of hydration and more about being a companion to people,” she said. “They like to walk around with it and hold it.” Increasingly, the typical consumer sips out of a bottle of water “to mark time.” “It’s like their bangie,” Barry added, meaning a security blanket. Or rather, each bottle of water is one in a readily available cast of interchangeable security blankets that we can capriciously acquire and toss throughout the day.

either side
of the privacy fence

……………………………………… by tom painting

dandelionClock  Most Americans Favor the Immigration Compromise: Gosh. People who are not swayed by exaggerated fears, prejudices and economic interests (or those of their constituencies) find a lot to like in the compromise package on immigration reform recently put forth by a group of Senators and the White House. See Immigration Bill Provisions Gain Wide Support in Poll, New York Times, May 25, 2007, which starts: “As opponents from the right and left challenge an immigration bill before Congress, there is broad support among Americans — Democrats, Republicans and independents alike — for the major provisions in the legislation, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.” The article continues:

Taking a pragmatic view on a divisive issue, a large majority of Americans want to change the immigration laws to allow illegal immigrants to gain legal status and to create a new guest worker program to meet future labor demands, the poll found.


ForestLawnMemDayS  Webloggers Take a Moment for Memorial Day: Even Baby Boomers who came of age fighting the war in Vietnam, and those who are fiercely against the war in Iraq have rightly been devoting pixels and bandwidth to remember and honor the million Americans who have died in our nation’s wars.  You can find an especially impressive posting at Biker Law Blog in Blawg Review #110, where lawyer-blogger-veteran Norman Gregory Fernandez has compiled much information (e.g., the history of Memorial Day, and of taps), some moving YouTube videos, and links to many web postings and articles of special interest relating to Memorial Day.  You can find quite a few Memorial Day haiku and senryu in our Memorial Day 2006 posting.   Here are a few, plus some new ones:


Memorial Day
he wears
his son’s dog tag

…….. by Hilary Tann – MagnaPoets; and Upstate Dim Sum (2005/II)


the parade ends
at the shopping mall —
memorial day

………. by dagosan – Magnapoets


the tulips
wide open 

………. by Carolyn Hall – The Heron’s Nest (Sept. 2005) 


LissaTulipTapsS  full-size haiga, MagnaPoets (May 28, 2007 )

taps’ last echo –
the vietnam protestor
wipes a tear

photo: Arthur Giacalone
poem: David Giacalone

the first notes 
squeezed from bagpipes
small town parade

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


ForestLawnMemDaySN  full size haiga, MagnaPoets (May 25, 2007)

Memorial Day —
and fireflies

poem: David Giacalone
photo: Arthur Giacalone


Memorial Day-
overwintered in the sandbox
             toy soldiers

………………. by Tom Clausen

dandelion  Lies on Job Applications Are Increasing:  To the surprise of virtually no one around here (see, for example, this post on rampant cheating), an annual report by the research firm Kroll on background screening tells us:

“Discrepancies regarding what applicants reported to potential employers regarding their past employment increased from 36.5% in 2005 to 49.4% in 2006; and discrepancies in education verifications increased from 14.1% in 2005 to 21.5% in 2006.”  (via The Virtual Chase News Alert)


p.s. I am most pleased to announce that my self-help law weblog shlep will have its grand reopening today, Tuesday, May 29, 2007, under new management.  The new co-editors are an able duo of law librarians:

    Teresa L. Conaway, who is just leaving her position as Head of Reference & Instruction, Texas Tech University School of Law Library, to become the Head of Public Services at the University of La Verne (California).  Terry was a professor of paralegal studies for 12 years before becoming a law librarian. 

    Tammy Pettinato, who received a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2005, and just finished her Masters in Information Science at the University of Michigan.  On May 16th, Tammy began working as a Reference Librarian at the UCLA Hugh & Hazel Darling Law Library

birthdayCake update (7 PM): Okay, This Might Be Surprising:  Against all odds, this weblog is celebrating its 4th Birthday this week.  I started posting at the then ethicalEsq in the last week of May 2003. Seems like I’m twice as cranky as I was when celebrating our Terrible Two’s two years ago (and doing half as much posting).  Nonetheless, I am most grateful for all the eyes that visit this weblog every day.


May 24, 2007

too few seconds, too much carbon

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 6:20 pm

    We apparently had an inadvertent visitor to this weblog today, when someone Google-searched the phrase /life is short/.  The querist ended up at our May 12th post “Life is short: get one,” about a divorce law firm’s sexy billboard and the over-reaction of our Dignity Police.  As often happens, tracing the referral backwards brought me to an interesting website and off on a tangent from lawyer punditry — this time, clicking on the search’s #2 result took me to The Death Clock website, which proclaims: 

DeathClock “Welcome to the Death Clock(TM), the Internet’s friendly reminder that life is slipping away… second by second. Like the hourglass of the Net, the Death Clock will remind you just how short life is.”

And, as gimmicky as the site is, it served its purpose.  Discovering that I may have only a half billion seconds remaining alive — about 16 years — made me immediately think: “That’s not enough.”  More important, I vowed: “I have to make better use of my time and energy.”  Given my birthdate in 1949, my gender and BMI below 25, and non-smoking status, here are my Personal Dates of Death, depending upon my “Mode“of life:

Normal: September 20, 2023
Pessimistic: Aug. 10, 1999
Optimistic: Dec. 7, 2040
Sadistic: September 20, 1986

    I don’t know the expert basis for the expectation differential due to one’s outlook on life.  The good news for me — since I am still breathing and posting — appears to be that I am neither a pessimist nor a sadist (no matter what various relatives and old girlfriends might say).  Clearly, I have a big incentive to start quickly leaning toward optimism: 17 extra years of life.  Of course, as far back as my high school salutatory speech, I insisted that (like most curmudgeon’s) I am a “pessimistic optimist” (and a loving cynic).  There is also a good incentive to watch my caloric intake and to exercise regularly, as weight clearly matters, too.   For example, if my Body Mass Index moves up to the edge of the obesity range of 30, I lose exactly a year of life expectancy.

DeathClockN  If you click on the Death Clock’s Extend Your Life link, you will find yourself at the cholesterol information page of Healthology’s Health Clock website (with its motto “life is good, why not extend it?”).  Along with a lot of ads, there appears to be some good information at Healhology on ways to increase your chances of a longer, high-quality life.

 news of his death
the cigarette smoke rises
straight up


dry leaves
trapped in the spokes
grandpa’s bike

…. by DeVar Dahl “news of his death” – New Resonance 3
“dry leaves” – a piece of eggshell (Magpie Haiku Press, 2004)

Death Clock used the CIA World Factbook as the source of its Life Expectancy estimates.  I’m hoping that it used the worldwide average life expectancy when coming to the dismal figure for me.  For now, I plan to give myself at least the additional 8 years of life expectancy of the average caucasian male in the U.S.A. who reaches my current age. (see CDC’s National Vital Statistics Report 2005, Table 6).  Got to be optimistic.


even to these old eyes–
cherry blossoms!
cherry blossoms!

my shadow looks
like the Old Man’s!
first winter rain


growing old–
even the cherry blossoms
a bit annoying


in leafy shade
an old one’s voice…
a frog!

… by Kobayashi Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue 

you!  Yes, You!  It’s been six weeks since I last complained at this site that the American goverment and public are doing far too little to help solve the global energy crisis and related environmental issues.  [Aside: Is there any chance that StepItUp2007 had any lasting effect?  How’s a guy ever going to become an optimist?]  Well, Frank G. Zarb’s op/ed piece yesterday in the New York Times, “How to Win the Energy War” (May 23, 2007) gives me the excuse to bring up the subject again — as if any responsible citizen of Planet Earth needs an excuse.  Zarb was the assistant to the president for energy affairs in the Ford administration (that’s in the mid-70’s for all you younguns).  He points out that:
“With gas prices hitting yet another all-time high, consider this: while history is littered with examples of countries that were forced to change their domestic and foreign policies because of the lack of a natural resource, there are very few notable instances of nations that had the ability to eliminate such a vulnerability but didn’t. America’s current energy condition, however, is a spectacular example of such a failure.”
The column basically tells us how courageous Zarb’s old boss Gerald Ford was to propose so many solutions to the energy crisis in 1975.  Of course, a cynic might point out that Ford didn’t plan to run again for the Presidency when he made his proposals.  Very little of the Ford plan got passed, and the problem then and now is that politicians won’t tell the voting public that we need to significantly reduce the use of energy, while paying higher prices and taxes to achieve energy independence.  More efficient products alone won’t sufficiently reduce our carbon footprint:
   We need, for example, to drive less, lower thermostats and live in smaller houses, get rid of our low-mileage cars, install those flourescent bulbs, etc. etc.  Symbolic actions — like planting trees and recycling plastic bags — just won’t make up for the gluttonous energy consumption of we Americans.  Click to calculate your impact or take the Ecological Footprint Quiz. For ideas on what you can do that will make a real difference, see ABCNews, “Reducing your carbon footprint” (June 7, 2006).
CO2percapitaMAPg  [larger] This CO2 per capita Map makes it clear: The USA is the biggest carbon culprit.  The ABCNews report noted that “On average, every American is responsible for about 22 tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year, according to statistics compiled by the United Nations. That is far above the world average of 6 tons per capita.”  In her posting “Law firm goes green, but could it do more?” Carolyn Elefant at LegalBlogWatch (May 23, 2007) reports that the prestigeous law firm Arnold & Porter is purchasing carbon credits to offset millions of miles per year in air travel mileage, but Carolyn rightly asks: 

 “[A]t a time when clients are complaining of burgeoning legal costs, it seems that Arnold and Porter could save clients money and protect the environment by using technology to avoid travel where ever possible.

jetTakeoffN “How much do you travel for business — and how much do you think you could eliminate?” 

 Despite my fledgling career as an optimist, I am going to leave you with pointers to three thought-provoking articles.  I hope they will provoke each of each to us ask whether our “green pronouncements” are matched by our actual lifestyles and choices:
  1. In “Al Gore’s Carbon Footprint Is Big,” Business Week, Feb. 27, 2007), columnist Bruce Nussbaum has some stats about St. Al’s energy consumption.  E.g., “Gore’s mansion, [20-room, eight-bathroom] located in the posh Belle Meade area of Nashville, consumes more electricity every month than the average American household uses in an entire year, according to the Nashville Electric Service (NES).”
  2.    In “False sense of satisfaction?” (February 19, 2007) the International Herald Tribune‘s James Kanter asks whether tree-planting and credit-swapping, etc., are doing more than soothing consciences.
  3.   Focusing on the heavy carbon footprint of jet planes, NewsBusters proclaims that “Jet-setting bands overpopulate Gore’s Live Earth” (April 13, 2007), and opines that the eco-elite of the entertainment world needs to change their lifestyles considerably before they can convincingly tell the rest of us to reduce our consumption.  I’d suggest that we shouldn’t wait for the stars to make responsible choices, but need to take a look at the numbers and resolve to do a lot less flying, along with less driving. 
 archLogoN While looking for information on global warming last year, Canadian Lesly Magrath, wife of our Honored Guest Poet DeVar Dahl, discovered the McDonald’s “global casting call” promotion — in which they asked everyone on the planet to say “what they love and how they live it.”  Lesly ended up entering the contest.  DeVar explains:
 “The prize was the opportunity to have your picture on McDonalds’ cups and bags.  Lesley sent in a picture of us taken while hiking in Waterton. She told them that we love to hike, we sing and tell stories as we do and we feel alive body and soul.”
    “Anyway, 13,000 people entered the contest with 500 of them coming from Canada. We were lucky enough to be selected and went to London in August 2006 for a photo shoot with 23 other people from around the world.”
You can click here to see Lesly and DeVar on their McDonald’s cup.  DeVar adds:  “In March 2007 the bags and cups came out. McDonalds told us that they are in 100 different countries and on any given day 52,000,000 could see our picture.  This has been quite the adventure and we are enjoying our ’15 minutes’ of McFame.”  DeVar is a high school teacher and his students — along with his grandkids — think it’s pretty cool to see Lesly and DeVar at McDonald’s.  Let’s hope McDonald is making a significant effort to reduce its own carbon footprint and negative effect on our environment. 
long summer day
a hawk holds its place
between the clouds
summer heat
the crickets wait
for me to pass
spring evening
knowing a new moon
is behind the clouds
the narrow place
between my neck and my collar
November wind
…. by DeVar Dahl
“long summer day” – New Resonance 3; pawEprint58
“summer heat” – New Resonance 3; Haiku Canada Newsletter XIV:3
“spring evening” – World Haiku Review, Robert Spiess Tribute, March 2002
“the narrow place” – A Piece of Egg Shell; Snapshot Press Haiku Calendar 2003
half a tank   gas pump g 
above the gas pump
Old Glory in tatters
……… by dagosan

p.s. Don’t forget to pause and consider the true meaning of Memorial Day this weekend (no, it ain’t hotdogs and the “official” start of summer).  See Blawg Review‘s posting; Norman Gregory Fernandez’s reflection at his Motorcycle Law Blog; and our collection of haiku from Memorial Day 2006.


May 22, 2007

baseball haiku party today in nyc

Filed under: Uncategorized — David Giacalone @ 1:29 pm

baseballDiamond  If you can hustle down to the National Arts Club by 8 PM tonight (May 22, 2007), you can participate in a Celebration of Haiku & Baseball with Billy Collins.  Here’s how the NAC Events Calendar describes tonight’s presentation:

Reading & Booksigning

Former poet laureate of the United States and bestselling author Billy Collins will read from and talk about his recent book of haiku, She Was Just Seventeen. Former president of the Haiku Society of America, Cor van den Heuvel, will then read and discuss haiku from his new book Baseball Haiku (co-edited with Nanae Tamura), and three of the featured poets in the book—Alan Pizzarelli, Ed Markowski, and Brenda Gannam—will read their baseball haiku

BaseballHaikuCover We’ve been sharing poems from Baseball Haiku (Cor van den Heuvel and Nanae Tamura, eds., W.W. Norton Press, April 1, 2007) over the past couple of months (see here, there, here).  f/k/a is proud to have so many of its Honored Guests featured in a volume of “The best haiku ever written about the game.”  We’re especially proud that over 20 of the 200 poems were penned by “our own” Ed Markowski.  dagosan and haikuEsq would love to be at NAC this evening to hear Ed read a selection of his poetry.   Here are a few:


April rain
my grandson practices
his infield chatter


late innings  infielderG 
the shortstop backpedals
into fireflies


bases loaded
the rookie pitcher
blows a bubble



spring training . . .
flamingoes graze
on the mansion lawn


winter reverie
the faint scent of bubblegum
on an old baseball card


 ……………………. by ed markowski 


NHDavidAtBat1953s larger: haiga, MagnaPoets, April 11, 2007

sacrifice fly —
on third

poem: David Giacalone
photo: Mama G. 

squinting to see him —
another generation
sent to right field

……….. by David Giacalone, Baseball HaikuRoadrunner Haiku Journal (V:4, Nov. 2005)

update (May 23, 2007): The newest edition of Simply Haiku (Vol. 5:2, Summer 2007) has a review of Baseball Haiku, by professor of English, and poet-editor Johnye Strickland.  The same issue features the baseball senryu of Cor van den Heuvel, with 7 poems from Baseball Haiku.

May 21, 2007

they’re enabling elder abuse for a profit

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,lawyer news or ethics — David Giacalone @ 12:17 pm

 phoneRingingS  In yesterday’s New York Times article “Bilking the Elderly, With a Corporate Assist” (May 20, 2007), Charles Duhigg tells the shameful tale of how “Large companies are selling vast databases of personal information to thieves, despite evidence their services are used for fraud.”  More often than not, the fraud is aimed at the elderly, who tend to be easy to find (at home), too-trusting, lonely enough to actuall enjoy chatting with telemarketers, and a little bit too desirous of striking it rich.   The NYT article deserves a full perusal.  You’ll learn how information brokers like infoUSA make millions of dollars selling information about people like you and me to shady characters seeking lists of victims.  Indeed:

“Telemarketing fraud, once limited to small-time thieves, has become a global criminal enterprise preying upon millions of elderly and other Americans every year, authorities say. Vast databases of names and personal information, sold to thieves by large publicly traded companies, have put almost anyone within reach of fraudulent telemarketers. And major banks have made it possible for criminals to dip into victims’ accounts without their authorization, according to court records.”

In case you think the information-sellers don’t know how the information is being used, consider this paragraph from the article:

phoneOldS InfoUSA advertised lists of “Elderly Opportunity Seekers,” 3.3 million older people “looking for ways to make money,” and “Suffering Seniors,” 4.7 million people with cancer or Alzheimer’s disease. “Oldies but Goodies” contained 500,000 gamblers over 55 years old, for 8.5 cents apiece. One list said: “These people are gullible. They want to believe that their luck can change.”

You can get helpful information for yourself or your beloved elders about telemarketing fraud and scams and what to do about it at the Federal Trade Commission website and the Federal Consumer Information Center’s Consumer Action Website. (The FTC seems to lump anyone over 55 into the “older American” category that is particularly vulnerable to telemarketing fraud!) Here are a couple of places to look:

  1. FTC brochures on Telemarketing and Telephone Sales phoneRingingS
  2. Consumer Action’s General Tips, discussion of existing federal Rules, and info on Vishing — using fraudulent phone calls to coax information that can be used to access your banking accounts and steal your identity.
  3. Putting Telephone Scams — On Hold, from the FTC tells you what to look for, how the elderly are victimized, how they hook you (travel prizes, lotteries, charities, fund transfer, and more), what to do about it and more.


park bench   
an old man slips deeper
into his dream


morning mist
a bent back sweeps
yesterday’s blossoms


picking strawberries
grandma’s rolled up sleeves reveal
pale tattooed numbers

phoneOldSN …………………………………… by Roberta Beary 
“park bench” – Hermitage 2006
“morning mist” Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival 2006
“picking strawberries” – Commended, Basho 300th Anniv. Intern’l Haiku Contest (1994); HIA (1996)


old passport
the tug
of my father’s smile


early bird special
rubbing elbows
with a stranger


around and around
learning the names
of one way streets

………………………………….. by Yu Chang  phoneRingingSN
“old passport” – Upstate Dim Sum (2001/II); The Loose Thread: RMA 2001
“early bird special” – Upstate Dim Sum (2004/II)
“around and around”  Upstate Dim Sum (2001/II)

early Alzheimer’s
she says she’ll have . . .
the usual

….  by John Stevenson – Quiet Enough (2004)

    p.s. I like the quote from Sgt. Yves Leblanc of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police: “Only one kind of customer wants to buy lists of seniors interested in lotteries and sweepstakes: criminals.”   Sgt. Leblanc reminds me to wish a Happy Victoria Day to all my good haijin friends in Canada.  If I wasn’t so lazy, I’d find a few fireworks haiku to help you celebrate (click here for a few).  Here’s one from Torontonian George Swede:

long after
the fireworks
        a shooting star

May 20, 2007

may you never lack a lilac (haiku)

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,viewpoint — David Giacalone @ 3:50 pm

GiacaloneFamily-lilacs1953 Art & Connie Giacalone, and kids, Rochester, NY (1953), in front of Grandma P’s lilac bushes.

In her Rural Life column for the New York Times, Verlyn Klinkenborg writes today (May 20, 2007) of “The Scent of Lilacs,” and says “It says almost enough about where I was raised to say that I was raised among lilacs.” This time of year, I often feel the same way. My hometown, Rochester, New York, calls itself “Lilac City,” and is just ending its annual, 10-day Lilac Festival, held in the incomparable Highland Park, where you will find over 500 varieties of lilacs, with over 1200 bushes covering 22 acres. See “Lilac parade struts through Highland Park,” Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, May 13, 2007, for stories and pictures.) Klinkenberborg speaks for me, when she says:

[W]hen I smell lilacs, I see a nearly bare yard in a small town and children playing in the weight of their scent, not knowing what it will come to mean to them in time.

lilacBreath [Jen Ryda/D&C] As wonderful as a parkful of blooming lilacs can be, I particularly enjoy enountering a single bush or small array while taking a stroll down the block or in a strange neighborhood, or merely sitting in a familiar yard. The heads-up from its scent and the beauty among the mundane make me smile — and make me want to share the experience.

lilacs next to
trash cans —
two scents mingle

…………………………. by dagosan

update (May 10, 2008): Today, I took a photo of the 2008 version of the scene that inspired the above poem (click it for a larger version):

Earlier this week, Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac for May 16, 2007 featured the poem “Stealing Lilacs” by Alice N. Persons, from Never Say Never (Moon Pie Press, 2004, Listen/RealAudio). Poet Persons tells of the two-week miracle each May, the fat lady lilac thief, and not being able to “begrudge her theft.” Although I’m not one to recommend poems of more than 17 syllables, I urge you to check this one out at the Writer’s Almanac webpage.

picnickers flee
a slate-gray sky —
lilacs glow

…………………………………….. by dagosan lilacG

evening walk
after office politics
lilac sent

. . . . . . . . . . . by Randy M. Brooks, Modern Haiku XXXIV:3

first kiss –
the lilacs still heavy
with last night’s rain

……… by billie wilson – The Heron’s Nest (April 2001)

lush scent of lilacs
line the driveway from childhood
–mother calls me home

….. by Pamela Miller Ness – driveway from childhood (1997)

lilacsDog [photo npr/Ketzel Levine]

In a recent NPR segment called “Beautiful Lilacs Tell a Tale About Climate” (Morning Edition, May 11, 2007), you can learn why “The lilac’s easy-to-read life cycle makes it a good plant for observing changes in the environment.” The narrator also tells us that “Lilacs . . . bloom in the Northwest for at least twice as long as they do in the Midwest.” That seems unfair:

“I hope you can imagine the fragrance of a lilac. If you’ve forgotten its scent, get to a nursery, quick! It’s so powerfully stirring and reassuring that within a century of their introduction here, lilacs were synonymous with ‘home’.”

Thanks to the National Phenology Network, parent to the citizen science project called Project Budburst, we’ve learned that “Observations based in part on decades of lilac data now indicate that spring is arriving 6.8 days earlier in the Midwest than when Professor Caprio first began counting lilac buds [in the 1950’s].”

LilacFestival You don’t need a giant Lilac Festival to enjoy the sight and scent of these wonderful bushes. I hope you’ve had your share this year. If not, it’s probably not too late to find them in a yard or park near you.

Gothic letters darken
on the granite slab —
graveyard lilac scent

…….. by Rebecca Lilly – Shadwell Hills (Brook Press, 2002)


in the middle
of some construction
a lilac blooms

…. by Tom Clausen – Upstate Dim Sum (2003/II) lilacBreath

May 18, 2007

cinemas, contingencies, and customs carping

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies,Schenectady Synecdoche — David Giacalone @ 3:20 pm

It’s another one of those days when there are simply too many topics in the news and around the blogisphere that pique my interest and lead me astray from the task of posting punditry and poetry here at f/k/a. Before Friday afternoon slips by completely, here are some of the things that have been on the slippery slope of my mind.

MovielandSchdy NYC-based Bow Tie Cinema opened its newest theater complex last night right here in Downtown Schenectady, New York. With six screens and a promise of “style and elegance,” Movieland Schenectady has raised the hopes of civic and business leaders, the public and the politicians. See “Rekindling the love of the big screen,” Albany Times Union, and “New movie theatre opens in downtown Schenectady,” CapitalNews9, May 18, 2007. It’s been decades since there has been a first-run movie theater in downtown Schenectady, which until very recently could only be called forlorn. To change that, the Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority has had the task over the past decade — fueled with a half-cent added to our county sales tax — of revitalizing the empty streets and storefronts of Downtown Schenectady.

summer day
a seat in the movies
away from others

………….. by john stevensonUpstate Dim Sum (2004/II)

With posts such as local schmocal and schmittal italy, we have reported on some of Metroplex’s more perplexing investments — including an attempt to put a 14-screen movieplex on the same block (which couldn’t attract financing, despite Metroplex putting up half of the $10 million price tag). Despite the fact that a number of movie theaters in our NY Capital Region have closed in recent years, Metroplex’s chairman Ray Gillen told the Times Union that “A lot of the (analysts) who looked in the market here consider it underscreened.” We all have good reason to be skeptical of the analysts used by development authorities, who always seem to think a locality needs more hotel rooms and another convention center. Nonetheless, living only half a mile from Movieland Schenectady, and desirous of an booming and interesting downtown, I send my best wishes to Bow Tie Cinemas and Metroplex on the success of this project. Of course, I have the (apparently congenital) need to make a few curmudgeonly observations:

  1. BowTieSchdy When I hear words like “elegance” and “style” thrown around by a vendor, I immediately worry about prices. Seeing that matinee tickets will be $7 and regular prices will be $9 — in a town with very-off-Broadway income levels and standard of living — I’confirms my concerns, especially after reading that Metroplex put up almost $5 million (of the total $13.3 million cost) for the building that houses Movieland and a few floors of office space.
  2. I like the Bow Tie promise to never have advertisements on its movie screens, but I’m going to scream if I hear about the “real butter” on the Bow Tie “signature popcorn” one more time. [Can’t wait to hear the price on a boxful.]
  3. The news that beer and wine will be served at the Movieland Cafe makes me cringe, given the lack of manners already shown in America’s theaters. Even worse, is the crowd-pleasing availability of “Gourmet Hot Foods – fresh-baked pizza, mozzarella sticks, chicken tenders, french fries & more.” Having to smell such delicacies while attending a movie, and dealing with their predictably sticky aftermath on the stadium seats and floors makes me want to stay home and wait for the release on dvd. Sure hope those seats are wide enough for all the folk who need a few thousand calories with their elegant cinematic experience.
  4. So far, my nominee for the silliest ribbon-cutting sound bite by a local pol: “If you take a date here, you’re going to fall in love. Let’s start with that,” said State Senator Hugh Farley.


wind-beaten marquee
saying only
“Coming Soon”

the summer sun
under the exit door

………….. by john stevenson
“wind-beaten marquee” – Some of the Silence (Red Moon Press, 1999)
“matinee” – Quiet Enough (Red Moon Press, 2004)

SlicingThePieF Federal Lottery for Lawyers Shut Down. Private lawyers who are hired by the U.S. Government to handle its lawsuits will have to settle for merely being handsomely paid for their services, instead of striking it rich by taking a giant slice of damages secured on behalf of the public. (via Overlawyered.com’s Ted Frank) Under Executive Order: Protecting American Taxpayers From Payment of Contingency Fees, dated May 16, 2007, contingency fees may no longer by used when hiring outside counsel. Here’s an excerpt from the Order:

Policy. To help ensure the integrity and effective supervision of the legal and expert witness services provided to or on behalf of the United States, it is the policy of the United States that organizations or individuals that provide such services to or on behalf of the United States shall be compensated in amounts that are reasonable, not contingent upon the outcome of litigation or other proceedings, and established according to criteria set in advance of performance of the services, except when otherwise required by law.

one third flip I’ve always believed that litigants who can afford to pay an hourly rate should have that option when hiring a lawyer in a tort, personal injury or malpractice suit. As discussed here, the ABA’s Formal Ethics Opinion 94-389: Contingent Fees (1994) specifies that lawyers must always give a client the option of paying by the hour or a flat fee rather than a contingency fee, and must base the percentage used for any contingency fee on the actual risk involved (of not being paid or being inadequately paid) in bringing the suit. Personal injury trial lawyers, however, virtually all refuse to work on any other than the contingency fee basis — with its promise of monster windfall fees. [In what looks to me like an antitrust violation, California’s trial lawyer association appears to require the use of contingency fees, as it brags that “CAOC members . . . . are paid only from those cases which are successful.”]

complaint bill The federal Government should be bringing cases only when they appear meritorious and worth the risk/use of taxpayer dollars — especially when deciding to use outside lawyers. Resulting damages in the billions or (merely) tens of millions should not be shared with the lawyers hired as surrogate government attorneys. Handing out plum jackpot lawsuits to politically-connected firms happens far too often on the state level, but it is good to see the new ban by the feds. [As Point of Law has reported, a California court recently barred the use of contingency fee arrangements by the government].

For more on this topic, see the Commentary of Jim Beck & Mark Hermann; although I don’t agree with every point made, it is an interesting read. update (May 21, 2007): Walter Olson‘s thoughtful Wall Street Journal piece on this topic, “Tort Travesty” (May 18, 2007), is now online at the Manhattan Insitute website. Among other points, Walter argues: “The fact is that most such suits are dreamed up by the private law firms and sold to the local officials, not vice versa. Competitive bidding is the exception rather than the rule in retaining the law firms, which routinely recycle handsome donations to the campaigns of the mayors, attorneys general and other officials who hire them. Pay-for-play is so routine that it hardly raises even a shrug anymore. When government legal officers refuse the overtures and instead employ their own staff attorneys to handle such suits, they can face bitter resentment and political pressure for not playing the game in the expected way.”

great clouds,
each one the size of
my hometown

phone message
from a stranger
with parakeets

……… by John Stevenson
“great clouds” – Mainichi Daily News, 10th Haiku Contest, 2007
“phone message” – Geppo, Sep/Oct, 2006

QkeyNs sKeyNs Carping not Consensus: It isn’t surprising, but it is nonetheless sad to see that the compromise immigration reform proposal unveiled by a truly bipartisan group of senators and the White House yesterday is already being attacked from all sides. Whether it is the Amnestyphobes (whose one-word rationale spells bigotry to me), the Familiaphiles (who want all family members to follow lawful immgrants and not just the spouse and minor children), the Unionistas, or the Pulse-taking Presidential candidates, I hope reasonable heads and the spirit of compromise will eventually prevail. See the New York Times article “Senators in Bipartisan Deal on Immigration Bill” (May 18, 2007) for a good summary of issues, slogans and candidate reactions.

by the lavish praise
I imagine getting

……… by John Stevenson – HPNC Senryu Contest, 2006

May 16, 2007

lawyers should fear more than outsourcing

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,lawyer news or ethics — David Giacalone @ 2:13 pm

      The article “The Future’s Bright…but Not For Lawyers and Accountants,” from the May 9th edition of London’s Daily Telegraph, has some law webloggers worrying about the outsourcing of legal jobs to low-cost countries.  Justin Patten of Human Law Mediation predicts “Long term some lawyers face the destruction of their jobs” (May 8, 2007) and Carolyn Elefant at LegalBlogWatch asks “Which Law Jobs Are Vulnerable in an Electronic Age?” (May 15, 2007).  In a rather superficial article, the Telegraph notes:

WolfDudeN   “Lawyers involved in family disputes, and criminal lawyers – they’ve got to stay around. But lawyers that write contracts, and lots of accountants, maybe that kind of education is not such a fabulous idea.”  

Patten observes: “Soft skills will come more to the fore. Welcome to the era of the cuddly lawyer. If everything is being automated you have to distinguish yourself somehow from the competition.”  I hope someone comes up with a far better notion than being “cuddly” as a way to differentiate one lawyer from another.  Most clients would prefer a lawyer to be efficient and reasonably-priced rather than touchy-feely.  

checkedBoxS Note: It is a little strange that “lawyers involved in family disputes” are singled out as being safe from the effects of outsourcing and digital communication.  In this country, as many as 70% of parties to family and domestic relations cases have no lawyer.  Courts across the nation are working to accomodate that reality with Self-Help Centers and pro-se-friendly procedures and forms.  Lawyers should, too.  Go here to find links to divorce and family-law self-help materials.

       We’ve been talking about outsourcing at this weblog since the days of ethicalEsq – -see “Corporate Outsourcing May Bring Trickle-Down Competition and Options in Legal Services” (Dec. 9, 2003); also this post and follow-ups.  I believe, however, that the biggest threat to lawyer livelihood is the growing realization by more and more average citizens (not to mention corporate giants like Cisco) that they can competently handle a very large portion of their legal needs with little or no assitance from lawyers, thanks to a great extent to advances in computer/digital technology.  As I said on the About page at shlep: the Self-Help Law ExPress:

By combining the existence of a literate public with the power of computer technology, with a judiciary that understands that our court system exists for the public (rather than for judges or the bar), and with lawyers willing and able to “unbundle” their services and perform discrete tasks for clients who want to handle their own legal matters, we can now make it possible for self-help to be a viable option for solving most of the legal problems of most Americans.   Of course, those who want to hire a lawyer, or who have issues that can only be adequately handled by a professional trained in the law, should be able to find reasonably-priced, competent legal assistance. 

Far more than adjusting to a loss of business to outsourcing, the legal profession should be ready to downsize, and to greatly streamline services and reduce fees, in response to the following trends:

  1. Unbundling (Limited Scope Representation), in which the lawyer and client agree that only a limited number of services will be provided by the lawyer in a particular matter, is allowing consumers to keep better control of their cases and their costs. California and a few other states already allow unbundlng in all civil matters. See this shlep posting for more information.   
  2. LegalZoomLogo  Automated Document Creation – intelligent software that uses an interview with the consumer as the basis for creating a sophisticated legal document or pleading — will allow many average Americans to resolve legal problems without using lawyers.  See this discussion at shlep of the National Public ADO (Automated Documents Online, or NPADO); and this shlep description of LegalZoom and similar online for-profit services.
  3. Improved and Expanded Self-Help Centers in Courthouses: Across the nation, judiciary systems (and legislatures) are adjusting to the necessity or desire (and the right!) of individuals to appear in court and participate as parties without a lawyer.  At the National Center for State Courts, you can use their Self-Help/Information Resources and Centers webpage to find out the kinds of services available in your state.  You can find much more at the shlep website.

     As I said here, when local politicians become smart enough to see the need for more and better courthouse centers to help the unrepresented litigant, and when they are savvy enough to know that such support can have political advantages, we will see much more being done around the country to give the public the kind of accessible court system that they deserve.  Consumers and their advocates need to take this message to their legislators.  It is a win-win issue for the public and political leaders who join the cause.  It will, however, mean that lawyers will have to make major adjustments in how or whether they offer related services.   Let’s hope the legal profession does not respond by attempting to stifle innovation and competition (see guide or guild?), but let’s be ready if/when they do.    

BigSkyRMA2006  Outsourced Haiku?  As big sky: The Red Moon Anthology 2006 (Jim Kacian, Editor in Chief, Red Moon Press, 2007) proves, Japan has outsourced much of the world’s supply of haiku to English-speaking countries over the past half decade.  And, quality has not suffered.  Here are a few more haiku from big sky written by members of the f/k/a family of Honored Guest Poets:

a bare space
under the willow
overdue books

…………. by DeVar Dahl – big skyrain song


northern lights . . .
the distance between


………………………… Laryalee Fraser – big skyHermitage III



night on the town–
how beautiful the girl
my wife finds fault with
………………… by Lee Gurga – big skyFrogpond XXIX: 3

among the splashes–   spiltBucket
a toy bucket of ocean
dumped back in
………………….. by Gary Hotham – big skyPresence 28


no ketchup–
I wish things had gone
the other way
……………………… by Peggy Willis Lyles – big skyModern Haiku 37:3


deep woods
a sapling with one leaf
changes color

……………………… by paul m.- big skyThe Heron’s Nest VIII:4


 GhostProf  Who You Gonna Call? The Ghost Cabinet: From The Barrister Blog‘s Tim Kevan comes news of a group weblog being launched tomorrow (May 17) in the UK — The Ghost Cabinet, which promises to be scarier than a Shadow Cabinet.  Organized like the British Cabinet, the team has appointed popular bloggers with a strong interest or expertise in the given policy area to be Ghost Ministers.  Each Ghost “vows to haunt the relevant government minister on a regular basis” and will “eschew normal political conventions by presenting ideas that will actually improve the country.”  Tim says that he is “delighted to have been asked to be the Ghost Attorney General and will take on the name of the Ghost of the Common Law!”   Our Prof. Yabut has offered to haunt the Ghost AG to make sure he lives up to his spectral vows.   

day at the zoo —
the elephant’s shadow
in a small place


more darkness
more fireflies–
more darkness than butterflies

 …….. by Gary Hotham 
 “day at the zoo –” –  The Heron’s Nest (March 2005)
“more darkness” – breathmarks: haiku to read in the dark

autumn light–
the smell of tomato vines
on my fingers


frozen pumpkin-
the little ghost’s
parka and mitts


……….. by DeVar Dahl   ghostSm 
“autumn light” – 1st Place Tie, Shiki Kukai (Nov. 2006)
“frozen pumpkin” – Shiki Kukai Halloween contest (2001)

tourist motel
the pattern of the bedspread
on your cheek


summer sunset—
baby finds his shadow
on the kitchen wall
………. by Lee Gurga  – Fresh Scent: Selected Haiku of Lee Gurga


May 14, 2007

better to be mistaken for a knave than a fool

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,lawyer news or ethics,viewpoint — David Giacalone @ 3:50 pm

spotlightS    In a posting last week at LegalBlogWatch (Road to Riches? Rate Lawyers), Robert Ambrogi told us about the recent Houston Chronicle article “Publications Cash in on Lawyers’ Egos,” by Mary Flood (May 6. 2006).   With names such as Super Lawyers, Top Lawyers, Lawdragon 500 and Best Lawyers in America, publications take advantage of the vanity of lawyers by giving them a chance to purchase ads alongside lists and commentary that tout a firm or lawyer as being especially successful or talented.  Ambrogi notes that some observers and lawyers believe buying the ads helps secure a top rating.  Bob also points to an important additional issue raised by Flood in a follow-up weblog posting at the Chronicle (“Lawyer lauding and reader confusion“): 

“[Flood suggests that] lawyers are contributing to consumer confusion by blurring the line between advertising and editorial. Flood cites her state of Texas, where Super Lawyers runs each year as an advertising supplement in Texas Monthly magazine. Texas Monthly has no say in the ratings of any kind, Flood points out, yet “many local lawyer bios brag incorrectly that they are rated as Super Lawyers by Texas Monthly.”

At LawBeat, Mark Obbie says this practice makes him cringe. “It’s designed to confuse ordinary readers about who’s honoring the lawyers, despite the agate-type disclaimers.”  Prof. Obbie also explains, “Mary Flood casts some light on the silly business of shaking lawyers down for advertising while lauding them in meaningless rankings. “

To those who might blame the lawyers, Bob Ambrogi says:  questionDudeT 

My sense is that many of the lawyers who wrongly claim they were rated by, say, Texas Monthly, are not being disingenuous. Rather, like many readers, they fail to perceive the lines between church and state in a news magazine. If it quacks like editorial content, it must be editorial content. If consumers are not to be misled, magazines need to follow strict guidelines for clearly distinguishing “advertorial” content produced by sales people from editorial content produced by editors and reporters. And whoever is selling these ads, whether it is the magazine or the directory, needs to make sure the lawyers who buy them understand what they are getting.  

This is another instance where I sincerely envy Bob Ambrogi’s experience within the legal profession — during an extensive career, he has clearly been exposed to a consistently more benign segment of the bar than I.  He is also far more trusting of other humans.  To my skeptical mind, it is almost insulting to lawyers who are deemed “super” and “best” (even if only by ad-peddling bunco-artists, or in their own minds) to suggest they are: a) so naive, b) so lacking in curiosity, c) so bad at issue-spotting, and/or d) so dimwitted, that they fail to understand exactly who is doing the rating and just how misleading the context can be for the consuming public.   At best, the lawyer or firm simply doesn’t want to look too closely.

dunceCap In our adversarial system, lawyers are constantly called upon — within the bounds of certain ethical and professional limits — to spin, cover-up or obscure facts, and to mislead the public, opposing counsel, juries and others.  In that context. I bet most lawyers would much rather be thought of as knaves than as fools — especially, by those who are in no position to know their state of mind and may very well be mistaken.  Knaves can serve their client’s interests very well in a large proportion of matters, and are often sought out.  Fools, on the other hand, are rarely an advantage and never desirable advocates or counsellors.  So, if only out of an abundance of kindness, I’m going to lean toward the knave explanation when it comes to misleading preening and vanity advertising by lawyers.   

BigSkyRMA2006  SuperHaijin:  There’s no hype around here when we say f/k/a features poetry by some of the very haiku poets in the English language (plus, thanks to who is knows, the slacker dagosan).  As we mentioned two days ago, a remarkable number of our Honored Guest poets achieved the Haiku Hat Trick this year: having three of their poems selected for the prestigious annual Red Moon Anthology.  Here are the poems from Carolyn Hall, Billie Wilson and Jim Kacian that can be found in the new volume big sky: The Red Moon Anthology 2006 (Jim Kacian, Editor in Chief, Red Moon Press, 2007).



circle of pines
God absent
from the wedding vows


so suddenly winter
baby teeth at the bottom
of the button jar


plum blossoms    
I make plans
for my ashes

…… by Carolyn Hall from  big sky: rma 2006 spotlightS  

“plum blossoms” – Spiess 2006 Constest
“circle of pines” – Frogpond XXIX: 1
“so suddenly winter” – The Heron’s Nest VIII:1


Valentine’s Day–
he tells me I’m number one
on his speed dial



letter from the war zone —
leaves shift
against the brick wall


late night rain–
he reads to me from the book
I read to him


……………. by Billie Wilson from big sky: rma 2006
“Valentine’s Day” – Frogpond XXIX:1
“letter from the war zone” – Hermitage 1 & 2
“late night rain” –  “Mayfly #40


I read her poem


spotlightS   camping alone one star then many


pleasantly drunk . . .
fireflies come out
of the moon

………………… by jim kacian from big sky: rma 2006  
“dusklight” – Spiess 2006 Contest
“pleasantly drunk” – Kaiji Aso Contest 2006
“camping alone” – Frogpond XXIX:2


May 12, 2007

Life is short. Get one.

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,lawyer news or ethics — David Giacalone @ 10:24 pm

Life is short. Get a Divorce. [big] FGAad2  

 The legal profession’s Dignity Police are scandalized again.  This time their focus is the billboard [tiny image above; click for large version in color] that went up on May 1st in Chicago for the “boutique” divorce law firm Fetman Garland & Associates. Besides showing teats-n-abs, the advertisement sports the slogan “Life is short. Get a Divorce.” (via Robert Ambrogi at LegalBlogWatch, “The Beefcake Approach to Marketing,” May 9, 2007, and Larry Bodine’s Law Marketing Blog, “Using T&A” to sell Divorce)  An outraged Chicago alderman has already had the billboard torn down (video), saying the necessary permit had never been obtained.  Of course, I’m more interested in the legal community’s response.  An ABC News report quotes John Ducanto, past president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers:

“It’s grotesque. It’s totally undignified and offensive.”

According to ABC News:

“Ducanto called on the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Committee of Supreme Court of Illinois to sanction Fetman. “I don’t think they’ll just let this pass,” said Ducanto, who seemed genuinely hurt by the ad. “I have been in practice for 52 years, and I’ve worked my ass off to change the image of this particular area of the legal practice, and to see some punk try and pervert the whole image in the interest of lucre. … Sure, she’s got a lot of attention, but it’s like a guy who spits on a table — you got the attention, sure, but what kind of attention is it?”

FGAadG  Happily, the same news report added: “But the ARDC’s deputy administrator James Grogan told ABC News that traditionally Illinois has been reluctant to sanction lawyers for anything short of false or misleading advertising.”  We shall see whether pressure makes the Grievance Committee decide it has to take action against the Fetman firm  As might be expected, Karen Enright, president-elect of the Women’s Bar of Illinois, agreed with Ducanto, saying “It’s actually a disappointment to the profession and to the institution of marriage, which is something our community holds as sacred.”   Enright added:

“Our profession, and lawyers in general, have been under attack for advertisements similar to this and I think,” she said, pausing. “I think that it’s not in good taste.”  

RaoulFelderMug  I was amused and disappointed to see that famous divorce lawyer Raoul Felder — who was recented defended here at f/k/a against New York’s Dignity Police, who want his hide for writing the book Schmucks — said the ad was a new low for the profession:

“This has to be the Academy Award of bad taste,” Felder told ABC News. Fetman is “not your run-of-the-mill Perry Mason lawyer,” he opined. “Hell, that’s not even ‘L.A. Law.’ It’s bizarre,” he said. “I don’t think anybody walks away from that ad thinking more of the legal profession that they did before they saw it.”

The billboard’s sponsor, saucy Corrie D. Fetman had a fitting response to the critics.  ABC News explains: 

But Fetman defends the billboard, almost gleefully. Recycling popular catch phrases seems to come naturally to her. “Lawyers don’t cause divorces. People cause divorces,” she said. “If you think somebody’s going to look at a billboard and go out and get a divorce as a result, you’re insulting the intelligence of people. If that’s the case, our next billboard is going to read, ‘Gimme Your Money.'”

FetmanCorri Fetman had, in fact, issued a press release the day before the billboard went up, touting the new ad campaign.  Excerpts:

    “Our “Life’s Short. Get a Divorce.” advertising campaign . . . is true to who we are, namely Aggressive, Non-Judgmental and Strategic.  The ad portrays what we believe which is that everyone deserves happiness.  In short, we believe that life is too short to stay stuck in an unhappy marriage.” 

     “The future of our ad campaign will also include other marketing tactics centered on the promotion of happiness without judgment.”

    “We think our advertising is fantastic and innovative and look forward to hearing your opinion.”

Clicking around the Fetman Garland website, I discovered that Fetman was featured in a Chicago Tribune article in 2003 about women coping with the male environment at big law firms — by starting their own firms.  “Leaving is the Best Way of Achieving,” Aug. 13, 2003.  It is worth clicking this link just to see the photo of Fetman and Lady Justice.  The article notes:

“A man also answers the phone at Corri Fetman’s Chicago Women at Law Ltd., a matrimonial law firm she started in 1995, after practicing law at several firms. She left the last one, she said, because she experienced sexual harassment, salary inequities, and what she described as a demeaning environment.  In contrast, she said she tries to create a comfortable environment for her two female associates and two male paralegal/secretarial workers.”

It seems to me that life is far too short for scare and underutilized lawyer discipline resouces to be used to shore up the profession’s image.  Some quick thoughts:

  1.   Fr.VentaloneS   As stated repeatedly here, it is the self-important, self-appointed role of Dignity Police that makes the profession look bad in the public’s eyes — Americans do not like hypocrisy and putting on airs.  (see our prior post)  They also really dislike having their intelligence underestimated.
  2.    Americans have the right to a divorce and lawyers have the right to remind the public of the availability of the law and their services.  If we are going to start telling lawyers they may not promote the use of certain legal rights that are deemed antisocial, I’ve got a few other places to start.
  3.   A profession that gives you the next lawyer’s name on the list, when you call a Lawyer Referral Service, has no place telling lawyers in good standing with the bar what factors are deemed “relevant” in a client’s selection of a lawyer. 
  4.  The public can’t tell much at all about the quality of a law firm from its ads (nor from an interview at a firm).  But, it can at least learn a bit about a law firm’s style and attitude from the ads it chooses to run.  Some people will be attracted to the Fetman ad and others repulsed.  That’s a lot more info than we get by pictures of Lady Liberty and the scales of justice in stock lawyer ads.

Life is indeed too short.  The Dignity Police need to get a life.  If they truly care about the profession’s image (not to mention the interests of their clients), they should concentrate on their own competence, diligence, service, commitment, and integrity. 


 sleuth Possibly-Related Inadvertent Searchee Adventures:  Search engines pointed their querists to f/k/a this past week thousands of times, but here are a few I found amusing or bemusing (and even strikingly relevant to this posting):

  1.     Speaking of dignity, our presentation of Pape & Chandler’s defense of their pit bull logo was the #3 result in a search on Google for /logo representing dignity/.  [the first results two related to gay pride Dignity Day] 
  2.    Whoever was looking to learn about /abstinence after marriage/ was probably led astray by our blurb on teens using Clintonian loopholes when promising to abstain.  Google made that post its #2 result, when we mentioned poor St. Joseph, who we dubbed the Patron Saint of Involuntary Celibates. 
  3.    Someone Googled /specious and example/ and the #1 result was a posting about irresponsible bar advocates in Massachusetts.  
  4.  sleuthSmF  Another searcher wanted /churchill liberal heart brain/ and the #2 Google result, out of almost 400,000 was our piece asking “did Churchill coin that over-30 maxim?“.  We hope the quest brought our visitor to f/k/a’s 21st Century rewrite on political maturation over age 30.
  5.    A budding linguist Googled “greek word for dog” and clicked on the #2 result — our explanation that the word “cynic” comes from the Greek word for dog [”kunos”].
  6.     Sadly, we only came in 4th (out of more than a million results) in the Google query /are lawyers, liars/.  Let’s hope the visitor was duly edified by our look at the subject, which included a discussion of the Bar’s scandalous misinformation about Shakespeare’s quote on killing all the lawyers.

 BigSkyRMA2006  Thanks to arts patron (and haijin extraordinaire) Roberta Beary, I came into possession this week of big sky: The Red Moon Anthology 2006 (Jim Kacian, Editor in Chief, Red Moon Press, 2007).  The RMA series “is a celebration of the best haiku and related work published in English around the world each calendar year.”  It contains  “Nearly 200 works of haiku, haibun, renku, criticism and analysis.”   There is a rigorous process and a board of distinguished editors who make the selections, and it is an honor to have even one poem included in the Anthology.   f/k/a‘s Honored Guest Poets can be found throughout each edition of RMA.  Each year, only a handful of especially fine poets have three of their haiku chosen for RMA.  This year, almost all of the haijin with three poems in big sky happen to be among our Honored Guests — allowing me to share their poems with you.  

  I’m most pleased, therefore, to present the chosen works from big sky: The Red Moon Anthology 2006, of w.f. owen, John Stevenson and Yu Chang.  To help soothe dagosan‘s unselected ego, John and Yu allowed him to win a game of bocce this afternoon at Schenectady’s lovely Central Park.  dagosan is still hoping that John and Yu’s poetic muses will occasionally visit him. 


unstrung pearls
the children divide
her estate


city folks
the farmer gives directions
in the dirt


early spring
checking the balance
of a new hammer

…….. by w.f. owen  from Big Sky: RMA 2006  WFOwenG
“unstrung pearls” – Modern Haiku 37:2
“city folks” – Shiki Kukai January 2006
“early spring” – Mariposa 14


Christmas party
an old friend empties
my wine glass


small town
my accents starts
a conversation


starlit sky
are you sure
we are alone

YChang ……… by yu chang
“small town” – Frogpond XXIX:1
“Christmas party” – Upstate Dim Sum 2006/1
“starlit sky” – The Heron’s Nest VIII:2


cold moon–
a moment of hestitation
years ago



midnight sun
I know for a fact
the bottle’s half empty


almost spring
she tells the whole story
in a single breath
……… by John Stevenson  JStevenson
“midnight sun” – Modern Haiku 37:3
“almost spring” – The Heron’s Nest VIII:3
“cold moon” – The Heron’s Nest VIII:4

CellphoneApe   Finally, I’m happy to see that the governor of Washington State signed the nation’s first ban on driving while texting this week.  “Hands on the Wheel, Not on the Blackberry Keys,” New York TImes, May 12, 2007.  It is a little discouraging, though, to read that states taking action against phoning while driving are still only banning held-held cellphones.  Listen up, legislators: The problem is having too much attention on the phone call, not having only one hand on the wheel.

May 11, 2007

a mother of an Identity Theft problem

Filed under: Haiga or Haibun,Haiku or Senryu,lawyer news or ethics — David Giacalone @ 1:01 pm

update (3 PM): Forty poems from our Honored Guest Poets can be found in the brand new f/k/a’s Mother’s Day Haiku Collection.  

AvoidIDTheft It seems that mothers don’t just shape our identity, these days, they steal it, too.  My hometown newspaper has a story today about a mother who stole her 2-year-old’s identity in order to set up utility and phone accounts, and then skipped out, ruining the child’s credit rating.  (The [Schenectady, NY] Daily Gazette, “Mom accused of toddler ID theft,” May 11, 2007, p. B1, $ub.)  At the time of the arrest, the child had already been taken from the mother, Hope C. Maxwell (27 years old), by our county Child Protective Services, for unrelated reasons.  It never occurred to me that parental ID theft would be a widespread problem.  Apparently, it is.  For example, see:

  1.       “Identity Thieves’ Newest Target Children: Targeted Kids Often Learn of Destroyed Credit Years Later,” ABC World News, Feb. 7, 2006, where you will learn of a woman whose mother ran up $150,000 in debt on a credit care taken out in the child’s name, when the girl was 8 years old.  The daughter only found out when she tried to buy a car at the age of 20.
  2.       “Child Identity Theft,”  Inside Edition, May 10, 2005, where you’ll meet Shiloh Puckett of Rockwall, Texas.  Shiloh is ten, but is already listed on credit reports as being $14,000, thanks to her Mother, who served six months in prison on forgery and fraud charges after running up the bad debt on at least 17 credit cards. Note: “Puckett insists she only used her daughter’s credit to pay for necessities.”
  3.        Young Entrepeneurs of America: The same Inside Edition episode focused on Bryce Dalton, whose father got Bryce a business license for a contracting company called “Dalton & Sons”, when he was only three.  Of course, daddy ran up unpaid debts related to the business, and to a few credit cards in Bryce’s name.

#1Mom If you want to be ID-theft savvy, and your mama didn’t teach you, go to the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft Website , which has lots of information on how to DETER identity thieves by safeguarding your information; DETECT suspicious activity by routinely monitoring your financial accounts and billing statements; and DEFEND against ID theft as soon as you suspect a problem.  You might want to take the OnGuard Online ID Theft Quiz (maybe with your kids).  Also, shlep has links to materials on identify theft and security fraud information.  Meanwhile, kids, be careful who gets to see your Social Security Number.  

Mother’s Day
the florist adds kisses
to my card
………. by Hilary Tann – Upstate Dim Sum (2005/II)


mother’s day  
a nurse unties
the restraints

…………………………… by roberta bearyThe Heron’s Nest VII:2
and Big Sky: Red Moon Anthology 2006


pity the daughters of beautiful mothers the years spent waiting to
grow into a beauty that never comes the sympathetic looks finally
understood at the moment when childhood ends

mother’s visit
side by side we outline
our lips


– haibun [prose with poem] by roberta beary, Modern Haiku Vol. 37:1 (Spring 2006) –



that spanking she gave    MomTwins50 2  Mama G.
the wrong twin —
all the other days

…………….. by dagosan


           Believe me, there is no connection between Mama G. and such financial hanky-panky.  But, with Mother’s Day only two days away, I want to send her my love and to remind you that we posted “a few haiku for mother’s day” In May 2005. In addition, later today, I will put up a much larger Mother’s Day Haiku Collection.  Check back here for the link.

Mother’s Day visit
  bringing home her smile
                    and her frown

. ………………………….. by dagosan, at MagnaPoets (May 11, 2007)

HaigaTulipsGS   orig. haiga at MagnaPoets (May 10, 2007)      

on mother’s day –
grandma’s favorite park

poem: david giacalone
photo: arthur giacalone


May 9, 2007

big news: accurate doesn’t always mean clear

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,lawyer news or ethics — David Giacalone @ 11:32 am

 questionDudeT The Seventh Circuit federal appellate court made it pretty clear to Equifax last week: credit reports must be accurate and clear — mere accuracy is not sufficient when disclosing information to consumers under the Fair Credit Report Act (15 U.S.C. § 1681g(a)(1).  Brian Wolfman at the Consumer Law and Policy Blog reported on the case of Gillespie v. Equifax Information Services, L.L.P., No. 06-1952 (May 3, 2007), over the weekend. (via Ambrogi at LegalBlogWatch)  Brian even edited his post the next day, to remove a potential ambiguity.  In fact, overtaken with the desire for clarity, Judge Kanne concluded the 7th Circuit’s opinion with a paragraph that began:

“In conclusion, we must note the scope of our decision and the next steps to be taken in this case…”  

Far too often, and especially where a decision sends the case back for further proceedings, the client and the lawyer, and often the lower court, are a bit confused or uncertain about what happens next.  Let’s be clear, however: The Gillespie opinion, which merely resolved a summary judgment motion and not Equifax’s actual legal liability, is based on a statute that requires the agency to disclose certain information “clearly and accurately.” 

questionDudeSN There is no general mandate in consumer or commercial law for clarity in disclosures — and, there’s absolutely no rule in our adversarial legal system for lawyers to be clear, even when they’re trying to be accurate.  Of course, it almost goes without saying that family law in no way helps assure that the tweener and adolescent “lawyers” at you house will — should they deign to respond to inquiries at all — be both truthful and easy to understand.

rainy day
the left hand


morning dew–
no hiding the way
we’ve come


seventh-inning stretch —  umpireF
dust from dragging the bases
hangs in the air 


ground fog
up to my ankles
in moonlight

walking in
the orchard      suddenly
                          its      plan

…… by Jim Kacian
“rainy day” – Roadrunner Haiku Journal (V: I, Dec. 18, 2005)
“seventh-inning stretch — ” – Baseball Haiku (2007) 
“morning dew” – Six Directions; snow on the water (RMA 1998)
“walking in” – Presents of Mind (1996; 2006); orig. pub Six Directions

p.s. Speaking of speaking clearely, I discovered at Kare Anderson‘s Say It Better weblog yesterday that Jon Winokur’s newest book is The Big Book of Irony.   In it Winokur “defines and classifies irony and contrasts it with coincidence and cynicism, and other oft-confused concepts that many think are ironic.”  Kare lists a few examples from the book.  f/k/a fans know that abuse of the word “ironic” is a pet peeve around here.

sun tea darkens–
bees in the hollyhocks
all afternoon


another scorcher–
the muddy river’s
slow flow
…………….. by Billie Wilson  eyechart
“sun tea darkens” –  Acorn #16 (2006)
“muddy river” – Acorn 13 (2004)


May 7, 2007

Older & Wiser, LLP?

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,viewpoint — David Giacalone @ 5:46 pm

RumpoleG  After yet another week writing about the perils ahead for our graying legal profession, I almost decided to pass over two pieces in yesterday’s New York Times Magazine (May 6, 2007) that dealt with issues of old age.  I’m glad I didn’t.  Although I’m still focused on aging and the legal profession, the two articles are interesting whether you care about old lawyers or not. 

In “The Older-and-Wiser Hypothesis,” Stephen S. Hall shows us how difficult it has been to define “wisdom,” and discusses the purported connection between being old and being wise.  In “A Longer, Better Life,” Sara Davidson interviews MIT biologist Lenny Guarente and Robert N. Butler, M.D., who won the 1976 Pulitzer Prize for “Why Survive? Being Old in America,” and now heads the International Longevity Center, on whether we can expect longer, better lives.

Stephens gives a brief tour of academic projects that have tried to define wisdom and devine who might be wise.  There is no consensus. Here are some highlights in the Stephens’ piece:

  1.    “From the outset, it’s easier to define what wisdom isn’t. First of all, it isn’t necessarily or intrinsically a product of old age, although reaching an advanced age increases the odds of acquiring the kinds of life experiences and emotional maturity that cultivate wisdom, which is why aspects of wisdom are increasingly attracting the attention of gerontological psychologists.”
  2.     “[I]f you think you’re wise, you’re probably not.”  Gandhi1931
  3.      “Indeed, a general thread running through modern wisdom research is that wise people tend to be humble and “other-centered” as opposed to self-centered.”
  4.     The so-called Berlin Wisdom Paradigm emphasizes several complementary qualities: expert knowledge of both the “facts” of human nature and the “how” of dealing with decisions and dilemmas; an appreciation of one’s historical, cultural and biological circumstances during the arc of a life span; an understanding of the “relativism” of values and priorities; and an acknowledgment, at the level of both thought and action, of uncertainty.
  5.      Sociologist Monika Ardelt looked at the trait of “resilience” (bouncing back from advesity). “In Ardelt’s working definition, wisdom integrated three separate but interconnected ways of dealing with the world: cognitive, reflective and emotional. . . 
  6.      In Ardelt’s analysis, the cognitive aspect “included the ability to understand human nature, perceive a situation clearly and make decisions despite ambiguity and uncertainty. The reflective sphere dealt with a person’s ability to examine an event from multiple perspectives . . .And the emotional aspect primarily involved feeling compassion toward others as well as an ability to remain positive in the face of adversity.”
  7.     Psychologist Laura Carstensen of Stanford University says older people “disattend” negative information.  In 1890, philosopher William James had a similar insight: “The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.” 

checkedBoxS  According to Stephens, the Berlin Group “were among the first to reach what is now a widespread conclusion: There’s not a lot of wisdom around.”  The Germans also:

“punctured one conceit about growing old when they found no evidence, in four different studies, that wisdom, as they defined it, necessarily increases with age. Rather, they identified a ‘plateau’ of wisdom-related performance through much of middle and old age; a separate study by the group has indicated that wisdom begins, on average, to diminish around age 75, probably hand in hand with cognitive decline.”

The Berlin group reported that the roots of wisdom can be traced, in some cases, to adolescence. Others have also pointed out that many people we consider to be wise have been “vaccinated” earlier in life by adversity.

Red Rock Canyon:
my whoop comes back
sounding older


one more friend buried
I shorten my list
of priorities

………………. by George Swede, from Modern Haiku

Meanwhile, the Davidson interview with Guarente and Butler in A Longer, Better Life,” has some interesting things to say about the science of aging.  But, it doesn’t suggest we’re about to make major breakthroughs that will help assure the mental acuity and emotional maturity needed to increase our society’s wisdom quotient.   On the macro level, our society doesn’t seem, despite how rapidly it is aging, to be putting its resources where they are needed:

BUTLER: Why does 50 percent of all cancer occur after 65? Why does 80 percent occur after age 50? As we age, there are changes at the cellular molecular level that predispose us to disease and disability. But so far, no government, no foundation, no corporation anywhere in the world has fully embraced the importance of longevity science. If we could target aging, that would have an impact on diseases.

America has also failed so far to recognize Alzheimer’s as a health crisis. Why is it a crisis?

BUTLER: It afflicts about four and a half million people now. As baby boomers grow older and live longer, there could be 14 million afflicted — about triple what it is now — by 2030 if we don’t find a means of prevention and treatment.

Finally, Davidson asks a question we all care about: “There’s a lot of advice given about how to maintain a healthy body, but do we know how to maintain a healthy brain and prevent dementia?”

checkedBoxS  BUTLER: I’m afraid there’s a lot of romance in the literature suggesting that we can stop Alzheimer’s disease by cognitive exercises.

Davidson: Like doing crossword puzzles? My mother has done them all her life, but she lost her memory anyway.

BUTLER: Just as exercise keeps the body in optimal shape, exercise — both physical and mental — can keep the brain in optimal shape in terms of thinking clearly, making judgments and solving problems. But having a healthy body doesn’t prevent you from getting cancer. Similarly, maintaining a healthy brain doesn’t prevent you from having memory loss or getting Alzheimer’s.

old tombstone
losing its name
faint first star

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

With this information in mind, I’m wondering whether we can expect declining mental acuity suffered by lawyers as they age to be offset by increases in widsom.  See, for example, Stephanie West Allen’s posting at Idealawg (April 9, 2007):  

“The head beneath the grey hair often holds much wisdom; perhaps the aging heart represents the glue in a firm’s culture and values. I hope we will appreciate what greying lawyers have to give, no matter what form those gifts may take.”

My own initial response is in the negative.  Although many of us — and it is especially males who seem to need it — do get a bit more mature in our mid-to-late 30s (e.g., less reckless and full of ourselves), I’ve simply seen no evidence that individual lawyers get appreciably wiser as they age, much less that the ones who stick around the  longest are the wisest.   Regardless of the meaning of wisdom, if you’re going to be a mensch or an old soul, you’ve almost always grown into that role or demonstrated the characteristics long before your late 60’s or 70’s.  Furthermore, no matter what my own mediator predilections might be, I’m fairly sure that many partners would be most displeased to find out that the Wise Old Counsellor is recommending fewer lawsuits and less adversarial approaches to solving legal problems, and I’m not at all sure that many clients are seeking (much less expecting) wisdom in a lawyer.

I forget my side
of the argument

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

On the other hand, I’ve seen quite a few Overtimer Lawyers stuck in monumental emotional ruts and intellectual deadends (and traffic circles).  Which reminds me.  While writing about the graying bar last week:

  1. I came across an estimate by medical researchers that there may be 8000 physicians with dementia who are still actively treating patients. “Cognitive Impairment in Older Physicians May Be Widespread,” Medscape Medical News (free registration may be required), by Richard Hyler, discussing the work of Greg A. Sachs, M.D. and Caroline N. Harada, M.D.  I had estimated a couple months ago that there might be 10 to 15 thousand lawyers with dementia.  The physician number is pretty scary.  Also,
  2. I was reminded that there are a quarter million practicing lawyers in American who are already over the age of 55 (with that number expected to triple in the next two decades); that 12% of practicing lawyers are over 65; and that 48% of private practitioners are in solo practices, with another 15% in firms having 2 to 5 lawyers. (See American Bar Association, “Lawyer Demographics 2006”) Both logic and studies suggest that it is the solo and small-firm lawyer who is most likely to postpone retirement, while having no plan for the handling of their practice if they become incapacited.  They are also most likely to have Main Street practices with the least sophisticated clients.

 Mohandis Gandhi and Abe Lincoln are probably the best-known historic figures who had been practicing lawyers and are widely thought of as having possessed wisdom.  Most other “wise” (as opposed to merely smart) lawyers that readily come to mind are fictional characters. 

 Leo McKern as Rumpole  RumpoleLeoMcKern


at the height
of the argument      the old couple
pour each other tea

…………………………. by George Swede from Almost Unseen (2000)

GriffithAsMatlock Andy Griffith as Matlock

someone else’s affair
you think…
lanterns for the dead
……………………………… by Kobayashi Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue 

Of course, literature and popular culture are far more likely to portray lawyers who are a bit shy of wise or are wiseguys.  For example, see OldRuin and HeadofChambers in BabyBarista‘s weblog serial.   But, I don’t want to close on a negative note.  Please let us know about elderly lawyers you have encountered who bring a lifetime of accumulated wisdom to the practice of law.  If you’ve got an especially useful definition or test for wisdom, share it with us, too.


MockingbirdPeck  Atticus Finch from to kill a mockingbird 


Divorce proceedings over
wet leaves stick
to my shoes


putting holes
in my argument
the woodpecker


thick fog lifts
unfortunately, I am where
I thought I was

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

KingsfieldPaperChase  For some readers, Prof. Kingsfield from Paper Chase may be an example of professorial wisdom (or at least tough love).  His ghost is filling in for Prof. Bainbridge today at Blawg Review #107, using what passes for the Socratic Method at many law schools to help illuminate the ideal lawyer weblogging (or, at least, the best thereof over the past week).  


May 4, 2007

another cuatro de mayo

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 3:44 pm

 pinataG Another day, another procrastination break.  And, another pointer to postings past.  Two years ago today, I wrote “cuatro de mayo: soups and sticks,” with the explanation “I’m writing a day early about Cinco de Mayo, to remind you to prepare for the celebration — with food, music and pinatas.”  You’ll find a good description of Menudo Soup, and a link to more recipes.  You’ll also find a bowlful of haiku on the soup theme.  A click on our “may 5th menudo” post from last year will tell you why the 1862 Mexican battle against the French that is commemorated on May 5th might have helped assure a Union victory in our Civil War. 

q.s.  If you came here looking for some law-related stimulation, I suggest checking out Robert Ambrogi’s “Forward this at your own risk,” at LegalBlogWatch (May 3, 2007). Bob tells us about Arkansas Law School professor Ned Snow, who believes “a 250-year-old common law tradition granting copyright protection to authors of personal correspondence” has not been preempted by the federal Copyright Act — and applies to email.  See Snow’s “A Copyright Conundrum: Protecting Email Privacy.”  I have a feeling that a lot of copyright experts would disagree with Prof. Snow.

another argument unfolds the futon   

………….. by w.f. owen, from A New Resonance 2 

 MenudoDVD  There are three haijin friends I haven’t seen enough of around here lately, and I wish I could share a big pot of Menudo soup with them – Andrew Riutta, Laryalee Fraser and Alice Frampton.  Almost as good, I’ll share some of their poetry with you:


campfire chili
a loon’s call stirs
the darkness



midnight moon
the coldness
of a stone bench




mute button —
the unexpected sound
of raindrops

…………………. Laryalee Fraser spotlightS  
“campfire chile” – 6th place & “midnight moon” – 3rd place, 
shiki kukai, 4th Annual Poets’ Choice Kukai
“mute button” – tinywords

ragweed blossoms . . .
the trailer park
teeming with romance



every time
a child blinks…
another dandelion

quiet night…
moth wings
stir the fog

…………………….. by Andrew Riutta
“every time” poetry bridge
“quiet time” – Simply Haiku

cloudy water
in the bud vase–
children grown and gone


hard rain
the sizzle of summer peppers
in the skillet



warm earth
the gardens
it makes


spotlightN ……………. by Alice Frampton 
“cloudy water” – Frogpond XXX:1
“hard rain” & “warm earth” – The Heron’s Nest Vol. VIII


his dusty cookbooks:
soup can
in the sink

………. by dagonsan


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