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

October 31, 2007

nice costume, dude

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 12:58 pm

  We didn’t get to take Art History at the G.U. School of Foreign Service back in the late 1960’s, so I’m not sure whether I ever “knew” that ancient Greek and Roman statuary used to be painted. But, now I know, thanks to a great article in the latest Harvard Magazine, “Dazzlers: Ancients reborn in bright array” (Nov-Dec 2007), which includes photos of works appearing in the exhibit Gods in Color: Painted Sculpture of Classical Antiquity, which is at the Arthur M. Sackler Museum through January 20, 2008. The exhibit presents 22 painted, full-size copies of Greek and Roman originals.

According to the article, which quotes Susanne Ebbinghaus, Hanfmann curator of ancient art at the Harvard University Art Museums:

   The color reconstructions are based on close examination of the originals and on scientific analysis of the scarce traces of paint remaining on them. Ultraviolet light, says Ebbinghaus, “brings out ‘paint ghosts,’ differences in the surface structure of the stone caused by different paints and by the weathering of the paints. It can often give you an idea of patterns, even if no pigments survive.”

“We now assume that almost all Greek marble sculpture was painted,” she says. “These reconstructions can only be approximations,” but at least they dispel a popular misconception—that most statues of antiquity were plain old white. Plain would not be thought ideal until the Renaissance.

statues in the square
the raised hand of the war hero
fills with snow

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

The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor presents an excellent mini-history of Halloween today (October 31, 2007). The Celts believed Halloween was the day of the year when spirits, ghosts, faeries, and goblins walked the earth. And, “Historians believe that they dressed up as ghost and goblins to scare away the spirits, and they would put food and wine on their doorstep for the spirits of family members who had come back to visit the home.” Apparently, “Pope Gregory III turned Halloween into a Christian holiday” (but it didn’t quite work out as he planned). Indeed, “It wasn’t until the early 20th century that Halloween became a holiday for children.” However:

“Tonight, about 70 percent of American households will open their doors and offer candy to children, and Halloween parties are becoming increasingly popular among adults. It’s the one day a year that people can freely dress as the opposite gender, as criminals, superheroes, celebrities, animals, or even inanimate objects. But retailers report that the most popular costumes remain some variation on witches, ghosts, and devils.”

With all sorts of grinches out there trying to put a politically-or-religously correct damper on Halloween, we make out annual plea to “let the kids enjoy Halloween“. (You’ll find a bagful of Halloween-themed haiku and senryu by clicking that link.)

halloween twilight
again this year my son waits
alone by the door

easter brunch
his daughter’s hair
a new shade of pink

……………………… by Roberta Beary, The Unworn Necklace (2007)
“halloween twilight” – 1st place, Tokutomi Memorial Haiku Contest 2006
“easter brunch” – Modern Haiku (Fall 2007)

“No Costume No Treat”
goth kids
at my door

…………………….. dagosan – see the original haiga at MagnaPoetsJF

vampCvampC Looking for some theory on why we like scary stories? In “The Horror and the Beauty” (Harvard Magazine, by Craig Lambert, November-December 2007) you can read about Maria Tatar, who “explores the dazzle and the ‘dark side, in fairy tales—and why we read them.” It’s an interesting piece. I find this little glimpse at academia kinda scary:

DAGself “Tatar’s passions for the Brothers Grimm and Anne Frank stayed with her, but at Princeton in the late 1960s, she discovered that both were verboten at the graduate level. “The Grimms were off limits because fairy tales were not deemed worthy of scholarly attention,” she explains, “and studying the Holocaust was taboo because it raised too many anxieties about the status of German culture in the academy.”

“Why always the pathological?” Tatar has a ready answer. “It seems so much more interesting than the good, the true, and the beautiful. Trying to understand why things go wrong seems to me more productive than just focusing on what is right.”

winter solstice
our son reads a fairy tale
to his unborn son

sleeping bats–
an echo suggests
the depth of the cave

………………………………………………………. by Peggy Lyles
“winter solstice” – To Hear the Rain (Brooks Books, 20020
“sleeping bats” – Frogpond XXVIII: 3 (2005)


It’s traditional to ask what our Halloween costume choice tells us about ourselves. In a twist, a recent New York Times article asks what a candidate’s choice of fashion gear says about their campaign and their psyches. See “Their Looks for Fall 2008” (Oct. 25, 2007).

halloween party —
the shrink can’t decide:
tarts or cheese cake?

…………………………………….. by dagosan –

October 29, 2007

Complaint Department: open 24/7

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 4:56 pm

thumbDown An all-too-familiar combination of not enough time and not enough energy has the f/k/a Gang feeling particularly cranky today. So, we’re spreading the misery by sharing a quickie-complaint or two (or more) that have been accumulating on our To-Blog list. As usual lately, we’ll be posting in spurts, so come on back later tonight for more.

fridgeNotesN update (Oct. 30, 2007) We could use an Assignment Editor here at f/k/a — perhaps “TasksterEsq.” Then, we might just remember to remind ourselves and our readers, in a timely manner, of important events, holidays, commemorations, etc. For instance, a nice heads-up would have been helpful about Wellcat.com ‘s annual October 30th celebration of Haunted Refrigerator Night — a time to gather your courage and see “what evil lurks in the refrigerators of men . . . and women.” Around our place, some of the fridge to-do notes are haunted (and faded). Last year, f/k/a celebrated Haunted Regrigerator Day with some haiku and senryu, including:

new fridge
the motor’s faint hum
still there

home alone
sniffing leftovers
in the fridge

. . . . . . …………………. . . by Yu ChangUpstate Dim Sum
from the Haibun “refrigerator” (Am. Haibun and Haiga 2)

october 30th
orange mold creeps across
a long dead rainbow trout

. . . . . . . . . by Ed Markowski
Modern Haiku (Vol. 37.2, Autumn 2006)

Advanced warning would also have led us to commemorate October 30th as the 8th Create a Great Funeral Day. Thanks to Stephanie West Allen of Idealawg for inventing the event, and penning an accompanying Workbook. Although it’s an activity even less popular with single guys than refrigerator cleaning, I hope to get back to this important topic in the very near future.

Estupido! That’s the first word to come to mind when thinking about a weblawgger who writes more than a dozen posts about sex offenders, and never reads or links to the related commentary by KipEsquire at A Stitch in Haste. Check out his take on Halloween and Sex Offenders, and his thought-provoking look at the issues raised by the registry listing of minors under the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, as seen through the Genarlow Wilson case. [Thanks to Ed at Blawg Review for the tip]

baby sparrow–
his face unaware
of his parents’ fights

scrawny frog, fight on!
to the rescue

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

A few days ago, we offered a big Bronx Cheer to all those New York Yankee fans who couldn’t bring themselves to cheer for the Boston Red Sox in this year’s World Series. The Bronx-Bombing Bad Losers surely went to bed miserable last night, when the Sox won the World Series in just four games, over the Colorado Rockies.

Therefore, although not a Rudy Giuliani fan, I was pleased last week when Rudy, a lifelong Yankee fan, said that he was rooting for the Red Sox, since he always backs the team from the Yankees’ league. It was not at all surprising, however, when the “New York media took Giuliani to task for his team turnabout. In front page placements, the New York Post called the former mayor a ‘Red Coat,’ and the New York Daily News proclaimed him a ‘traitor.’ (See “Giuliani shocks Yankee fans; backs Red Sox in World Series,” CNN.com, October 24, 2007)

October revival
all hands lift
to the foul ball

…………………………………………………………. by Jim Kacian
from – Piedmont Literary Review (Circa 1992)

On the other hand, I was shocked Saturday morning when National Public Radio’s Scot Simon took Giuliani to task for his position. See “New Yorker Rudy Giuliani Claims Boston Red Sox” (Weekend Edition Saturday, October 27, 2007) Simon’s Saturday hour on NPR is the only sports show I’ll keep turned on, if I should find it coming out of my radio. That’s because [although his laugh is really annoying] he usually brings an intelligent, often humorous, sometimes ironic, human-interest approach, to sports coverage. Thus, it was disappointing to hear low-EQ, childish intolerance coming out of Simon’s mouth about Rudy and the Red Sox:

“I don’t feel I have the right or sense to judge another man or woman’s religious faith, sexual orientation, or family relations.

“But I’m sorry: Yankee fans don’t root for the Red Sox. It would be like Sylvester rooting for Tweety. . . .

[T]his week’s declaration that he’s rooting for Boston in the World Series makes Mr. Giuliani sound positively Clintonesque. . . .

“If next year’s elections come down to a Clinton-Giuliani contest, it will be interesting to see two Yankee fans run against each other — claiming that really, they’re Red White Sox Dodgers Tigers Cubs Angels Marlins fans; depending on where they need the electoral votes.”

I’m sorry, Mr. Simon, but there is a great difference between a Clintonesque attempt to be a fan of each team from every electorally important state and the Giuliani decision that, as an American League fan, he wil vote for the AL pennant winner in the World Series — even if it is his Yankees’ historic rival Boston Red Sox. It’s even the politically courageous thing for Rudy to do, since he surely wants New York’s vote in the Presidential election next year (and is unlikely to win the Massachusetts vote under any scenario). Baseball might be a game for men who are still boys, but that doesn’t mean that its fans have to be cry-babies, who never grow up enough to act with grace when a league rival makes it to the World Series.

p.s. For the record: Born in Rochester, NY, I was an avid Yankee fan throughout my childhood, and never switched my allegiance over the decades when I lived out of State. The Yankees are still the nearest big league team to my current home in Schenectady, NY, and — although I don’t pay much attention to baseball during the regular season — I do root for them when they are in the playoffs, despite having gone to law school in the Boston area.

Season’s over, but don’t forget f/k/a‘s Baseball Haiku Page. baseballG baseballG

season’s end
every pennant on the stadium roof
pointing south

first red leaves
i swing late
on a change-up

rainy night
a hole in the radio
where a ballgame should be

………………………………… by ed markowski

October revival vampC
all hands lift
to the foul ball

…………………………………………………………. by Jim Kacian
– from Piedmont Literary Review (Circa 1992)

crack of the bat
the outfielder circles
under the full moon

abandoned ballpark
gopher mound covers
home plate

……………………………………. by George Swede from Almost Unseen (Brooks Books, 2000)
“crack of the bat” – Baseball Haiku (2007)

opening day . . .
green of the field
through the ticket gates

……………………………………….………by Randy Brooks – Baseball Haiku (2007);
Past Time (1999)

WrongWayN Like the New York Times, we wonder why Your Editor’s former employer, the Federal Trade Commission is shirking its duty to protect the American consumer from Intel’s apparently misuse of its market power. See “F.T.C. Goes AWOL” (Editorial, Oct. 29, 2007). After noting that European antitrust authorities have accused Intel of “mproperly protecting its stranglehold of the microprocessor market by offering big discounts and rebates to computer makers who minimize the use of processors made by rival Advanced Micro Devices, and punishing those who stray with higher prices,” the NYT complains that the FTC “seems largely unconcerned . .. [and] is still holding back from opening a formal inquiry into the company’s practices.” They opine that:

“The F.T.C.’s Republican majority clearly shares the “starve the regulators and coddle industry” philosophy that has driven the Bush administration for seven years. It is bad for America’s consumers and it is bad for American business.”

If you’d like to learn more about the facts and policy of this case, you’re in luck: The American Antitrust Institute has issued AAI Working Paper #07-10, byNorman Hawker, which is titled “Wintel Under the Antitrust Microscope: A Comparison of the European Intel Case with the U.S. Microsoft Cases” (Oct. 29, 2007). In it, Hawker provides “a briefing that amplifies today’s NY Times editorial calling on the FTC to conduct a formal investigation of Intel.”

FTC Headquarters, Wash, D.C.

third day raking leaves —
the retiree breaks
for lunch

………………………. by david giacalone — see orig. haiga at MagnaPoets Japanese Form (Oct. 29, 2007)

watchStepSign And, why is the FTC spoiling our Halloween fun by warning consumers that “all contact lenses, even those that are cosmetic, require a prescription. Businesses that sell cosmetic lenses without requiring a prescription are violating the law”? Actually, because we do all need a good National Nanny at times. Check out Avoiding an Eyesore: What to Know Before You Buy Cosmetic Contacts.

halloween party —
the shrink dances with a witch
and a cheerleader

Poem: David Giacalone
Photo by Cynthia Miner (1992)

…………………………………………see the orig. haiga at MagnaPoetsJF (Oct. 28, 2007)

for a mime —
the vampire ________

Poem: David Giacalone
Photo by Cynthia Miner (1992)

Help from My Friends: You’re invited to help me finish this haiga-haiku at MagnaPoets JF

Sorry, got to run and do a few errands. There will be more kvetsching here later this evening.

leisure time–
in cherry blossom shade
picking fights

escaping the fight outside
my hut’s

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

October 28, 2007

The End of Lawyers? or The Cartel’s Last Stand?

Filed under: lawyer news or ethics,viewpoint — David Giacalone @ 4:09 am

. . . . Richard Susskind, OBE — author of the critically acclaimed “The Future of Law: Facing the Challenges of Information Technology” (1996) and “Transforming the Law: Essays on Technology, Justice, and the Legal Marketplace” (2001) — says a lot of things lawyers really don’t want to hear about the impact of information technology and the increased “commoditisation” of legal services on the future of the profession. You’ve read similar things from the f/k/a Gang over the past four years (usually using smaller words), but neither ethicalEsq nor Prof. Yabut has the OBE, nor have we been called “jurisprudent, legal business guru, government strategist and visionary.” Like, us, however, Susskind has been pretty much ignored by the American legal profession and weblawg community.

The End of Lawyers? Rethinking the nature of legal services,” by Richard Susskind, OBE (Oxford University Press, due May 2008)

Nonetheless, now that the [London] Times Online is presenting six draft excerpts from Susskind’s forthcoming book, “The End of Lawyers? Rethinking the nature of legal services,” I want to urge lawyers, current and prospective law students, and consumers of legal services to closely read and consider what he has to say. [via LegalBlogWatch, “Are Lawyers Going to Become Obsolete?” (Oct. 23, 2007); and Human Law; and see SLAW.ca (Oct. 23, 2007); “Strategic planning case study: the future of the legal profession,” at David Jacobson’s External Insights; and Rob Millard’s thoughtful post at Adventure in Strategy (Oct. 28, 2007)]

The first excerpt in the End of Lawyers series, dated October 19, 2007, is titled “Legal profession is on the brink of fundamental change.” In it, the IT Adviser to the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales says “I write not to bury lawyers but to investigate their future. My aim is to explore the extent to which the role of the traditional lawyer can be sustained in coming years in the face of challenging trends in the legal marketplace and new techniques for the delivery of legal services.” Susskind’s main points are (emphases added):

  • “[T]hese articles will point to a future in which conventional legal advisers will be much less prominent in society than today and, in some walks of life, will have no visibility at all. This, I believe, is where we will be taken by two forces: by a market pull towards commoditisation and by pervasive development and uptake of information technology. Commoditisation and IT will shape and characterise 21st century legal service. “
  • “I do not believe lawyers are self-evidently entitled to profit from the law. As I have said before, the law is not there to provide a livelihood for lawyers any more than ill-health exists to offer a living for doctors. . . . And, just as numerous other industries and sectors are having to adapt to broader change, so too should lawyers. “
  • This series calls for the growth and the development of a legal profession not by ring-fencing certain categories of work as the exclusive preserve of lawyers; nor by encouraging cartel-like activity which discourages all but lawyers from engaging. Rather, it calls for lawyers, their professional bodies, their policy-makers, and their clients, to think more creatively, imaginatively, and entrepreneurially about the way in which lawyers can and should contribute to our rapidly changing economy and society.

Susskind challenges all lawyers “to ask themselves, with their hands on their hearts, what elements of their current workload could be undertaken differently — more quickly, cheaply, efficiently, or to a higher quality — using alternative methods of working.” And, he predicts that the market:

  1. ProfPointer“is increasingly unlikely to tolerate expensive lawyers for tasks (guiding, advising, drafting, researching, problem-solving and more) that can equally or better be discharged, directly or indirectly, by smart systems and processes.” And,
  2. “will determine that the legal world is over-resourced, it will increasingly drive out inefficiencies and unnecessary friction and, in so doing, we will indeed witness the end of outdated legal practice and the end of outdated lawyers.

In sum, Richard Susskind challenges the legal profession — not to try to prevent change and protect its traditional ways, but — “to find and embrace better, quicker, less costly, more convenient and publicly valued ways of working.”

Rather than publish his new book and then incorporate comments and related changes in a new edition, Susskind has decided to “release the ideas and arguments earlier and incorporate responses into the book.” Therefore, Times Online asks “Will lawyers exist in 100 years?” (Oct. 23, 2007) and asks readers to ” Join the debate” by leaving Comments.

An urgent (if somewhat selfish) request to Richard Susskind: Please start a weblog and bring your insights and commentary about the Future of Lawyers to us every day. For the f/k/a Gang, it gets tiring being just about the only voice speaking realistically and consistently about the evolving market-and-digital revolution. Your presence is much needed, Richard.

Frankly, within the American Bar and its weblawg community, the members who most pride themselves on being future-oriented and “proactive” (and their consultants and coaches) all paint a happy-face future, where they’ll use tactics such as law firm branding, value billing, and price sensitivity (along with a large dollop of psycho babble) to achieve premium pricing and increased income, in the face of marketplace realities, and at the expense of their clients (while, miraculously, satisfying them more, and somehow working fewer hours, freed from the hourly-billing bogeyman). [See, e.g., the f/k/a posts “Brand Lex,” “Internet Websites Encounter the Bar’s Guild Mentality,” “Valuable Debate on the Ethics of Value Billing,” “LexThink (about higher prices)“, and “Pro bono is not the answer to the access problem.” Also, see the SHLEP About page, “Intro to document assembly online,” and “a guide or a guild“.] We need to bring Susskind-style reality, IT expertise and professorial eloquence to the issues that are so important for legal consumers and the cause of civil justice for all.

update (Oct. 28, 2008): We featured “The End of Lawyers” in a post one year after this one, again repeating our request that Richard Susskind start a weblog.  To our surprise, Richard left a comment, saying,

“Thank you for the support and the suggestion.

“In the interim year, I have been finishing the book and have had not much time for anything else. It is to be published on 20th November. I am now turning my thinking to how best to keep my ideas in play, so I will give the weblog proposal some serious thought. All the best, Richard”

noloShark Whither the American Bar? After three decades watching the legal profession in the USA from the perspective of a competition and consumer advocate, it is difficult to be optimistic that Susskind’s hoped-for introspection will yield progress rather than cartel-style roadblocks to change. Here are a few signs to look for that will help determine whether the American bar is choosing to (or able to) act like a guild protecting its own interests first, or like a learned profession seeking to best serve the public interest in creating a truly accessible and affordable legal system:

  • will bar associations choose to act like “a guide or a guild” when it comes to spreading the benefits of digital/IT breakthroughs to consumers of legal services? or do they go the way of America’s Realtors, seeking special laws to protect themselves from unbundling of service and price competition? [See “finding self-help info on bar association websites;” and the post “bar & guild,” which notes that “Most bar groups spend much of their time acting like guilds — promoting the interests of their members, and ‘protecting’ the public from competition, information, innovation and choice.” ] And see, “Internet Websites Encounter the Bar’s Guild Mentality,” where ethicalEsq said in May 2004:

[I]t seems that most lawyers expected a very good lifestyle to come automatically with their J.D., along with high social status. They are angry and worried that the marketplace doesn’t value their services as highly as they had expected, and they are bewildered that society doesn’t give them the anticipated respect. Good intentions of any one individual lawyer can be readily overwhelmed by the demands of partners (at work and home) to keep the income stream flowing. The result, as individuals and as a group, is resistance to any change that threatens to further undermine their financial and social position. As stated with refreshing candor in a recent bar association publication, “the top concerns of the practicing bar are the economics of the practice and the image of the profession.” (Illinois State Bar Association Bar News, June 16, 2003)

  • are UK-style legal reforms (improved disciplinary systems, entry of nonlawyer firms, etc.) proposed and adopted in the 50+ American legal jurisdictions?
  • will the public start demanding to take back the justice system? (see SHLEP‘s About Page, which states that “Our courts have become costly, complicated, lawyer-centered bureaucracies, rather than the accessible, client-centered dispute resolution centers they should be. As a result, studies show that 80% or more of the legal needs of the poor and working poor currently are unmet in the United States, while even solid members of the middle class often cannot afford to hire a lawyer when a legal need arises.” But, notes that:

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.

[Click for information on “divorce self-help,” “bankruptcy law self-help“; “will-making self-help“, and “real estate sale unbundling“.

And, from shlep, see “Cisco turns to legal self-help and unbundling“;”LegalZoom and the future of lawyering“, and “resources at Illinois legal aid online.”]

  • Will our political leaders begin to fight for better access to the courts for the majority of Americans who cannot afford legal representation? See “getting politicians to back self-help centers” (shlep, Nov. 16, 2006):

When local politicians are smart enough to see the need for courthouse centers to help the unrepresented litigant, and when they are savvy enough to know that such support can have political advantages, we should 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.

  • Are weblawg pundits continuing to dream up ways for lawyers to extract more money from clients without giving them a better product? (for example, scroll to the second item in this prior post) Are they turning the problem of sky-high hourly-billing quotas into an excuse for using alternative billing methods that promise higher fees to lawyers? See “broadening the billable hour debate,” includes an extensive discussion and review of f/k/a posting on the issues, and makes a plea “those who sincerely want to fix what is wrong with hourly billing spend some serious time figuring out how the alternatives will result in fees (and a work environment) that are fair to lawyer, law firm and client — and how they will function within an economy that, if working competitively, can be expected (due to technological breakthroughs and an excess of service providers) to drive prices down to their marginal costs.” Also, see “Valuable Debate on the Ethics of Value Billing,” which responds to Comments about using value billing and percentage-of-the-transaction billing, by noting: “And, see, “The ‘reality’ ” is that technological advances and efficiencies are expected — in our economy and in basic economic theory — to bring prices down. So is an oversupply of service providers. Your approach seems to be stripping the client of both normal market benefits and fiduciary protection.”

We’ll bring you updates, as Richard Susskind continues to share excerpts from The End of Lawyers at Times Online. We hope, in addition, to announce his new weblawg someday soon.

update: (Oct. 29, 2007): Susskind’s second excerpt is now online. See “A decade on: much changed, much still to unfold,” in which “The author revisits some of the radical predictions he made about technology and legal services in his first book.”

ProfPointer update (Nov. 5, 2007): The third Susskind Excerpt was posted today. In “How the traditional role of lawyers will change” (Nov. 5, 2007), Richard Susskind argues that ‘black letter’ lawyers will give way to multi-disciplinary, ‘hybrid’ advisers. He notes that “If lawyers want to re-invent themselves and carve out new multi-disciplinary roles that allow them to deliver new value, then their commitment to these neighbouring areas of expertise must be deep and our law schools should be gearing up accordingly.” There will be less need for traditional legal advisers, because “new ways of satisfying legal demand will evolve and old inefficiencies will be eliminated.”

In addition, Susskind “envisage[s] the emergence of a third grouping: the legal knowledge engineers. These are the highly skilled individuals who will be engaged in the jobs of standardising, systematising and packaging the law. They will be the analysts who reorganise and restructure legal knowledge in a form that can be embodied in smart systems, whether for use by lawyers, para-legals or lay people.”

update (Nov. 13, 2007): See the fourth installment: “Outside investors will demand a very different type of law firm” (Nov. 12, 2007). More detail at the bottom of this post.

Yes, even skeptics can hope — and enjoy another export from the UK, the haiku of Matt Morden, in Wales:

halloween —
part of the moon
follows a bicycle home

harvest festival ProfPointer
small fingers trace
a saint’s name in slate

post inspection
a bean-counter shakes
my cool hand

thousands of starlings
flux together

………………… by matt mordenMorden Haiku

p.s. Grant Griffiths is hosting Blawg Review #132 on Monday, October 29, and is especially looking for suggestions from lawyers who work out of an at-Home Office. I’m hoping Grant will help a lot of lawyers transition to jobs and careers that not only bring them a better work/life balance, but that better align with the needs of clients in the 21st Century.

ProfPointerupdate (Oct. 29, 2007): Grant has indeed posted Blawg Review #132 this morning, at his Home Office Lawyer weblog. He’s found quite a few recent blawg posts for your consideration. Grant begins the presentation by saying that “Solo’s, independent practitioners, those that practice law from a home office tend to be innovative. We tend to be out in front. If for no other reason we have no one to answer to. We are the partnership committee. We are the marketing committee and we are the technology committee. For that reason, we tend to adopt new advances in those areas, dare I say, quicker.”

Although the generalization (as always) is surely often on the mark, it is by no means a universal truth — at least not for older solos or for some of the more financially and geographically challenged members of our profession. Being solo amplifies the individual’s personal traits and straits. In many ways, they are a great laboratory for Richard Susskind’s challenge on facing the future as individual lawyers and as a profession.

update: See Susskind’s “End of Lawyers?” series ends with a warning (Nov. 27, 2007) ProfPointer

October 26, 2007

don’t miss tonight’s Hunter’s Moon

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 9:09 am

full moon Tonight’s full moon, which rises at about 6 P.M. on the East Coast, is called the Hunter’s Moon (and sometimes the Blood Moon). As the Old Farmer’s Almanac for Kids explains:

“With trees loosing the leaves and fields being harvested, it’s easier for hunters to spot deer and other animals in the wild.”

Mike Lynch reports in his “Star Watch” column this week that tonight’s full moon is the closest and largest of the year. He amplifies:

“This month it works out that the full moon and perigee are at about the same time. Because the full moon is closer to Earth this month, its gravitational tug is a bit stronger. Not only does that have an amplifying effect on ocean tides, but it’s also argued that its effects on people and their behavior may be just a little more profound than a conventional full moon. Be careful out there!”

so orange!
tawny, she corrects
– Blood Moon

…………………………………………………….………….. by dagosan

[click for a larger image, by Lloyd Overcash] Hunter's Moon sm:

You may recall that three years ago the Hunter’s Moon coincided with a Blood Moon lunar eclipse — and the even-rarer appearance of the Boston Red Sox in the World Series. We did a “live lunar eclipse webcast,”, and then did a “lunar eclipse haiku recap.”

clouds encircle
the full moon
– awaiting the hunter

floating on the river
Hunter’s Moon tonight

………………………………………………….……………………….. by dagosan

[orig.] Although we make no predictions on just when the Colorado Rockies will be eclipsed in World Series 2007 (and bemoan the childish Yankees fans who can’t bring themselves to cheer for the American League pennant-winners), here’s the last poem from dagosan‘s 2004 Lunar Eclipse sequence:

out of the shadow


October 24, 2007

hauntingly familiar: pols, sex offenders and Halloween

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,Schenectady Synecdoche,viewpoint — David Giacalone @ 10:59 am

After writing seventeen lengthy pieces since June about ineffective and unconstitutional sex offender residency restrictions, I’m not the least bit surprised that politicians are again this year making hay for Halloween, by targeting their favorite overblown bogeymen. (update: October 9, 2008): there are even more scary laws in 2008) But, I am disappointed that nothing has changed since our post two years ago “Halloween tricks: pols vs. sex offenders,” when we opined:

The scariest sights I’ve seen so far this trick-or-treat season are the stern faces and contorted postures of politicians, masquerading as super-heroes in the fight to protect our children against a horde of halloween sex offenders. As the New York Times described earlier this week (”Sex Offenders See New Limits for Halloween,” Oct. 26, 2005):

“All across the country this year, local and state authorities are placing registered offenders under one-night curfews or other restrictions out of fear that in only a few days, costumed children asking for candy will be arriving on their doorsteps.”

Here are some of the many examples of governmental action that can be found at Google News:


i only tell the priest
so much

………………………………….…… ed markowski

One practice that seems particularly ill-advised is described in “Maryland police plan no-candy signs” (YahooNews, Oct. 10, 2007; also covered at WizBang):

To discourage contact with children, some registered sex offenders in Maryland will be asked to post signs at their homes that say “No Candy at This Residence,” on Halloween.

That’s right, on a night infamous for roving gangs of youthful tricksters and vandals, Maryland authorities think it’s a good idea to help them figure out which houses to target for an extra prank or two. [Indeed, as I noted in 2005, “These overblown promotional campaigns might be the cause of some ugly vigilantism.”] And, at a time when people fight tax increases that would pay for important school supplies and after-school extracurricular activities, and for public libraries, tax payers will be footing the overtime bill for parole and probation officers to be out in force on the streets, or holding seminars for sex offenders at community centers. I can only reply with words first posted here in October 2005:

vampC There must be a good reason for all this extra protection at Halloween, right? . . .

In “Megan’s Law vs. Halloween” (Oct. 26, 2005), Prawfsblawg’s Dave Hoffman asks cogently whether “the state had empirical evidence of a higher-than-average rate of illegal behavior on Halloween?” Not according to the NYT article, which stated: “In effectively detaining sex offenders on Halloween, most officials say they are not responding to any attacks known to have occurred on past holidays.” For those who don’t trust the Gray Lady:

An editorial from Indiana notes today that: “there are no known attacks of trick-or-treating children on past Halloweens.” (KPC Media Group, “Offender series shows need for open eyes, Oct., 30, 2005). Also, per CBS3.com, the Spokeswoman for the Delaware Department of Corrections “says no Halloween incidents involving sex offenders and trick-or-treaters have been reported in Delaware”

In Allen County, Indiana, Detective Jeff Shimkus has the best advice: “ISo, the main thing we tell parents to never let their child trick or treat alone.” See “Check for Sex Offenders before Halloween” (Indiana News Center, Oct. 22, 2007) If a parent wants to do more, Detective Shimkus adds:

[E]specially on Halloween, parents need to take advantage of the registry websites that allow you to check to see if a registered sex offender does live near your home within a one-mile radius. All you need to do is enter your address and a detailed map pops up. Parents should then choose a trick-or-treating route that obviously doesn’t include those homes. At the end of the year, the registries will be updated to include more detailed maps and safety tips for parents.

Having given sex offender restrictions much more thought over the past two years, I find myself with the same conclusions as for Halloween 2005:

This is not, in my estimation, a close call. The Halloween Sex Bogeyman laws and restrictions have far too many costs, are far too likely to create a false sense of security among parents, and seem certain to have no real effects, other than giving grandstanding politicians a boost in the polls. I hope my fellow weblawgers will voice their opinions, and that parents will keep a close eye on their young children and a skeptical ear when dealing with their teenagers and their politicians this Halloween season.

batSN If you would like to combine fun and safety education, click for the NYS Troopers Halloween Safety Coloring Book.

update (Nov. 1, 2007): For Halloween 2007, 13WHAM.com, the ABC affiliate in Rochester, NY, did a nice balanced piece, “Pastor Questions Sex Offender Halloween Surveillance” (Oct. 31, 2007). The pastor in question is David Hess, of West Henrietta Baptist Church, and the parson.net. (For a video of the broadcast see YouTube: Sex Offender Halloween Hype.)

In addition, see this CNN article, “Sex offenders locked down, in the dark for Halloween” (CNN.com, Oct. 31, 2007; video), which lists examples of restrictions, but then states:

But some say the sex offender roundups and restrictions are more show than safety.

“There has not been a single case of any child being molested by a convicted sex offender while trick-or-treating,” writes columnist Benjamin Radford on LiveScience.com.

Rebecca Brunger, an Alaska probation officer, told the Anchorage Daily News her state doesn’t put any extra restrictions on sex offenders on Halloween as there’s never been a case there of a trick-or-treater being molested by a registered offender.

Idaho defense attorney Tim Gresback told the Spokesman-Review, in Spokane, Washington, that extra Halloween restrictions on sex offenders are unnecessary.

“Here we’re creating a new police action squad to go out and address a problem that has never manifested itself in the community,” Gresback told the newspaper. He said in 20 years he’d never run across a case of a sex offender attacking a child on Halloween.

afterwords (Oct. 26, 2007): A truly scary Halloween scenario from today’s Schenectady Daily Gazette — an All-Susan-Savage Sex Offender Council.

goblins at the door
in the darkness behind them
a cigarette flares

battery weakened vampC
the low, slow laughter
of a demon

……………………………… by John Stevenson from Some of the Silence

Two more perennial issues have come back to haunt us overnight. Check out:

  1. Despite our heroic attempt to bury it two years ago (see “more bad neology: law porn“), the silly phrase “law porn” is once again been dug up by law professors who should know better. See Concurring Opinions. Thankfully, Prof. Ann Bartow tries to put a spike through its heart. However, from under his ghostly sheet of anonymity, the Editor of Blawg Review responds with the eerie “Why ‘Law Porn’?“.
  2. This morning, the student-run Illinois Business Law Journal posted “Billable Hours Be Gone: Should the Hourly Billing System Be Replaced?” (Oct. 24, 2007). I am pleased to say the authors from UICL got it right: “Hourly billing is not to blame for the staggering workload, but the fees required of an associate who hopes to make partner one day.” They correctly concluded that: “The demand for ever increasing salaries for everyone from young talent to senior partners makes the 60 hour workweek unlikely to shrink. Until there is enough discord in the profession to demand a better balance, and perhaps some sacrifice in salary, those who venture into life in a big firm can only expect to be pushed to their physical and emotional limits.” They were kind enough to quote Your f/k/a Editor, and I hope that pieces here, such as “broadening the hourly billing debate“, helped them think through this important issue.

October 23, 2007

search and ye shall find . . .

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 3:13 pm

sleuth Query: Are Prof. Yabut and the rest of the f/k/a Gang the only fans of our Inadvertent Searchee pages? We’re often intrigued by the strange mix of serendipity and opportunity that search engines bring to writing and reading websites. Indeed, they bring over a thousand visitors a day to this humble little weblog — often by mistake, but frequently quite advertently, after we’ve written about a topic that truly troubled or inspired us. So, even if we’re merely entertaining ourselves, the f/k/a Gang plans to continue updating the adventures of the Google and Yahoo querists who land at our site. Below are some of the recent search engine queries that sent errant and avid searchers in our direction.

  • [larger] The guy who Googled [farmer goose spanking] might have been your run-of-mill poultry pervert, but if he was looking to learn about Andrew Marsinko’s $7.5 million lawsuit over the use of his image on a greeting card, he actually came to the right place, when he clicked on our “kinky” post, which was the #1 result out of 665,700 for that Search.
  • On a related topic, Mr. Goose was probably seeking absolution when he Googled [for the gander]. Clicking on the first result brought him to dagosan‘s haibun — short prose piece with a linked haiku — “bad for the gander.” As its title suggests, that gander’s goose was well cooked.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. magglass

  • We’ve gotten used to being the #1 Google result when someone searches the Italo-American slang word “goomba” or “gumbah.” Even Prof. Yabut was surprised, however, when our discussion of agita and ADD ended up the top result for the rather arcane query [gumba deficit disorder].
  • Being inflicted with a short attention span has taught the f/k/a Gang to be quite tolerant of the foibles of others. So, perhaps we earned our #2 slot (out of about 66 million results) in the Google query [how to treat all people], with our preachy post about immigrants and sex offenders. Of course, coming in second place keeps us humble, and might explain why the discussion about disbarring prominent New York attorney Jonathan A. Weinstein was only the #2 result for the search [self-aggrandize].

the coolness of sand
under our umbrella

the pond ice sleuthSmF
holding its own
midwinter rain

………………… by Tom Painting – from Frogpond XXX:3 (Fall 2007)

  • I suppose Your Editor’s reputation for serial napping helps explain our top ranking in the Google search [advantages of sleeping late] — but, we admit that our post might not have been particularly helpful.
  • [how do you blush?] is a perfectly respectable question, and we were humbly pleased to have an answer in our recent piece “what makes you blush?,” which was #1 of 2.5 million Google results.
  • On the other hand, we surely — despite the aforementioned expertise relating to geese — were surely no help at all for the person who asked about [“restless cows” ]. They had to settle for this dreamy poem from our Honored Guest Poet Laryalee Fraser:
    • restless cows
      head toward the barn –
      milky way
    • ……………………………… by Laryalee Fraser – WHC Beginners


caught by someone
waiting for the stars

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

Memorial Day–
smoke from far-off fires
makes it hurt to breathe

……………………………………. by Peggy Willis Lyles – from Frogpond XXX:3 (Fall 2007)

afterthought (7 PM): Here are a few Searchee blurbs we inadvertently left out when we posted a few hours ago:

It’s great to have a little venting or ‘splainin’ about a pet peeve discovered by readers new to f/k/a. So, we were happy to find the following links on our Referrer page:

   I don’t know if it was a fan of Lemuel Gulliver who was looking for [Lilliput sex], back on Oct. 8th, but mention of the haiku journal The Lilliput Review inadvertently landed our post on Ohio sex offender laws in the second slot in that Google search.

farewell party—
the sweetness of the cake
hard to swallow

……………………………………………… by Gary Hotham – (Missed Appointment, Lilliput Review, Modest Proposal Chapbooks 2007)


quarter note gray Making a tiny splash in the realm of pop culture is always nice. The lyrics from one of our favorite songs and a few lines of verse from a favorite old movie brought f/k/a some visitors this month:

“I can’t do
what the big boys do” –
Old man sat down, he cried too

Ain’t me, it’s the people that say
The men are leadin’ the women astray
But I say, that the women today
Are smarter than man in every way

  • scarpimp On October 3rd, there were 16 million results to the Google query [they seek him here]. I hope the searcher who clicked on the first result was another fan of “The Scarlet Pimpernel” and Sir Percy Blakeney. and enjoyed our treatment of the movie and poem in the post “they seek him there.”

rusty blades –
she skates backwards
so we can chat

……………. by david giacalone – Frogpond (XXX:3, Fall 2007)



October 22, 2007

frogs and katydids and other traditions

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 6:32 pm

WrongWayN Unseasonably warm weather and unreasonable amounts of sex-offender-related hot air have thrown the f/k/a Gang off our usual content routine. So, this evening, I’m hoping to post more traditional fare. Given my continuing low level of energy and short attention span, I’ll be doing it in spurts. So, please come back later for more (including, an update on our strange and inspiring “inadvertent searchee” results; and new poetry by our Honored Guests from Frogpond).

Two subjects we first focused on in early 2004 were getting attention in cyberspace today:

  1. We asked back in March 2004 whether legal marketing is spoofable. Now, Charon QC posts Marketing for Dummies? about an unusual marketing campaign at Eversheds (via Blawg Review #131); and, after the ABAJournal lists 50 ways to market your [small] law practice, Grant Griffiths thinks they forgot a big one, and Above the Law wants to know which of the fifty you think are the most ridiculous.
  2. Meanwhile, the New York Times asks and answers “How Many Site Hits? Depends Who’s Counting” (Oct. 22, 2007). Back in Feb. 2004, ethicalEsq wrote “those misleading traffic stats” and “three times nothin’ is . . .“.




night in the hut
searching on the shelf
. . . katydid

– see our Inadvertent Searchee pages –



A little carny incest: The Carnival of the Captitalists #211 is being hosted this week by the Anonymous Editor of Blawg Review (the carnival of law-related weblogs). Although the ubiquitous Ed fears that “this granddaddy of blog carnivals is showing its age–and it’s not pretty,” he scoured the blogiverse for relevant and worthy offerings from recent weblog posting and certainly put some sparkle back on the CotC logo.

— One set of links worth clicking concerns the New York TimesCompeting for Clients and paying by the click,” which was covered by Overlawyered.com, TortProfBlog and the WSJ Law Blog.


I think I hear him
grumble good morning
and grumble good morning back

…………………………………………………… Barry George, JD, from Frogpond XXX:3 (Fall 2007)



BusinessMeisterGuru: Meanwhile, the one and only David Maister — author of the upcoming Strategy and the Fat Smoker — presents this week’s Blawg Review — it’s #131 at his Passion, People and Principles weblog. Being humble and risk-averse, nonlawyer Maister “focused on issues relating to the business of law, rather than legal matters (which I am not qualified to judge.)” [Of course, I’ve never noticed prior Blawg Review hosts making legal judgments.] David presents recent posts on lawyer Marketing, Leadership, and Economics, and more. I was intrigued by this blurb and clicked on through:

Michelle Golden, president of Golden Marketing is also an active member of the VeraSage Institute, which is committed to abolishing the billable hour. She reports on the advice given by another consultant on how to implement a value-pricing approach.”

What I found sounded an awful lot like more value-billing b.s. (see this and that prior post, for example), aimed at generating fees even higher than you can get from hourly billing (through what looks like price sensitivity manipulation). Oh, and I wonder if I’m the only one who wonders what the heck this bit of practical advice means: “Assign an intellectual capital task force. This team should inventory intellectual capital, then document, name and package it so that the firm can train to unique processes and price on value, rather than hours multiplied by dollars.”


froglegs ………………. coming later tonight (unless I get a better offer): haiku from the brand new Frogpond, the journal of the Haiku Society of America: such as

tall spring grasses
a new path leads
to the old path

……………………… by Carolyn Hall



10 P.M. Frogpond break: HSALogo

Alzheimer’s ward
the faded blue numbers
on a resident’s arm

……………………. by Pamela Miller Ness

after all these years
just the blip
of his heart monitor

lime-green moss
blowing from the pine
on the logging truck

……………….. by Michael Dylan Welch

warm day
tractor mud dries
on the country road

………………………….. by Hilary Tann

…………………………………………….. all from Frogpond XXX:3 (Fall 2007)


Plus (coming in the morning), answers to deep questions such as What’s the first Google result for the queries [farmer goose spanking] and [gumba deficit disorder]?




our first look at the Schenectady County Council to Prevent Sex Offenses

Filed under: lawyer news or ethics — David Giacalone @ 12:55 pm

Prof. Yabut is biting his tongue and standing on his head this morning, trying to keep this first glimpse at the workings of the Schenectady County Council to Prevent Sex Offenses objective and non-hysterical. Please excuse us if we occasionally lapse into polemics or preaching.

On August 23rd, 2007 (see our prior post), the Schenectady County [NY] Legislature took a step back from the draconian sex offender residency laws it had passed in June (as we reported here). However, rather than totally rescinding those laws and fully studying the issues, it chose to continue to impose a 1500-foot residence exclusion zone (around schools, parks, playgrounds, and child care facilities) on all Level 2 and 3 sex offenders, with current residences grandfathered-in. See “Law to protect kids is altered Sex offenders already in county allowed to stay put” (Schenectady Daily Gazette, Aug. 24, 2007; reprinted).

SchdyCountySeal In addition, the Legislature voted to create the Schenectady County Council to Prevent Sex Offenses, a large committee composed of various office holders and community representatives, which was given the job of studying the overall issue of preventing sex offenses against children, and ordered to report back in 90 days. The Legislature would then have 30 days to act upon the Report.

To be frank, a lot of observers were a bit surprised by the cart-before-the horse(‘s ass) nature of the resolution creating the Sex Offense Council (see our prior post). It’s large size (purportedly over 30 members) and short duration seemed to condemn the project to the realm of futility or pathos. But, the public and public-minded civil servants and leaders had little choice but to wait and see. Well, last week — almost two full months into the 90 day mandate period — we got our first chance to watch the SOC process in action.

  • On October 16, 2007, Duanesburg Town Supervisor Rene Merrihew received a letter telling her that the first meeting of SOC would be at 4 PM Friday, October 19, 2007, and she informed the Rotterdam [NY] Internet Forum.
  • On October 17, JoAnn Schrom, Administrator of the Rotterdam Internet Forum emailed Susan Savage asking for a list of SOC members and inquiring whether the public could attend. Leg. Chair Savage replied that she had forwarded the request to the County Manager, Kathleen Rooney. On the afternoon of October, 18, Ms. Rooney wrote to Ms. Schrom, saying that “the first meeting will be held Friday at 4pm in the McChesney Room of the Central Library” and that “the public is certainly welcome to attend.” She added thather assistant would forward the list of SOC members.
  • A list of SOC members was sent to the Moderator of the Rotterdam Info Internet Forum on Thursday, October 18, by Jason Cuthbert, Assistant to the County Manager. Below the fold, at the bottom of this post, I’ve pasted in the 26 names supplied by the County. That may be the full Council.
  • It should be noted that there are no outside experts on sex offender management or treatment on the list. In addition, no Legislator who spoke out against having residency restrictions has been named to the Council, which does include Susan Savage, the Legislative Chair, and main proponent of the restrictions. Nor was any member of the public who spoke against the laws included. Instead, at least two of the three “Community Representatives” — Jeffrey Parry and Olivia Adams, local NAACP President, were strong supporters of the law at public hearings.

There was no mention of the meeting in any local media, and I had not recently visited the Rotterdam Forum. However, thanks to a phone call from a friend in rural Schenectady County, who was told about the meeting by a member of SOC, I learned around noon on Friday, October 19, that the first SOC meeting would be held at 4 PM that day. When I arrived for the Meeting shortly before 4 PM, there were no other members of the public/community there. Carl Strock, columnist for the (Schenectady) Daily Gazette appeared just before Mr. Gardner called the meeting to order. Here is what Carl wrote about the SOC’s first meeting:

Carl Strock: The View from Here (Schenectady Sunday Gazette, October 21, 2007, B1)


In case you’re wondering how the 29-member task force is doing that was created by the Schenectady County Legislature to make recommendations on sex-offender laws, after the Legislature itself stepped in a big cow pie over the issue, I can tell you it’s doing about as well as its parent body. It started off on Friday with a meeting at the county library that was not announced to the public and was therefore illegal, and the members droned and rambled aimlessly for an hour, the dominant voice being that of a soft-spoken Scotia resident who is the most fanatical on the subject of sex offenders, while assorted probation officers, politicians and bureaucrats basically listened.

Listened to what? To the proposition that we don’t want sex offenders in our community. Mixed in with some reports on how things are done now.

The legislature gave this task force 90 days from Aug. 23 to come up with recommendations on as many as 14 possible local laws to deal with the danger, largely imaginary, posed by those who were once convicted of sex offenses.

At the rate they’re going, I don’t see how they can accomplish their objective in less than 90 years.

When I returned home from the meeting, I put this Comment up at the Rotterdam Internet Forum, describing the event:

Carl Strock and I were the only two members of the public attending the Meeting (there was only room for many a dozen people to observe). Not even half of the committee attended. No judges were there, nor was [Schenectady] Mayor Stratton (who sent an aide).

There was no apparent organization. County Attorney Christopher Gardner chaired the meeting. Carl Strock asked whether the requirements of the Public Meetings laws had been met regarding Notice of the event; he was not given a direct answer. With no introduction or suggestion of future structure for the meetings or the group, Gardner immediately asked the group to discuss Notification — giving no summary of what the issue might be, nor of what problems or benefits or costs increased notification might entail.

ExitSignArrow Most discouraging is the fact that Community member Jeffrey Parry basically monopolized the discussion and questioning. He made it clear that “we don’t want them in the community.” GPS monitoring is not enough. Parry wanted to know if some form of secured housing could be built for sex offenders, at least for a couple of transitional years. He said “we’re just wasting our time,” if we’re going to allow sex offenders to come and live in our neighborhoods.

A member of DA Carney’s staff. who runs the special victims section, tried to inject a bit of common sense (on the need for a place to live, job, treatment, etc.) and Rene Merrihew also tried a few practical questions, but the meeting was quickly steered back into the ozone.

At this pace, I’d estimate that another 600 or 700 meetings will be needed to cover the many points mandated in the Resolution. Drafting and voting on the issues might take another couple of years. Based solely on the first meeting, there is no reason to expect a useful or enlightened report.

For more detail and perspective, see this account by Rene Merrihew, the Supervisor of the Town of Duanesburg, a member of SOC (who, for instance, insisted that official minutes be kept of the Meeting). I later added a second Comment at the Forum, which concluded:

When Rene asked [County Attorney] Gardner what will happen when people getting out of prison come back and can’t live in the City, he replied that “they presumably had residences when they were arrested,” and therefore — due to grandfathering — they could go back to those residences, if they lived there prior to June 2007. That is an interesting interpretation of the law that I would expect to hear from sex offender advocates and lawyers in the future, but I doubt that Ms. Savage would agree to that interpretation of Legislative Intent.

Clearly, this is a sad start for those who had hoped the Committee would make a good faith attempt to examine residency restrictions. If, however, we had hoped to be able to deride its process and findings, it is a grand beginning.

At the foot of this posting, I have included an excerpt from a Daily Gazette article of Aug. 24, 2007, listing many of the issues and potential laws that the Council has been told to study and report back on. I’ve also included some of the statistics about Sex Offenders in Schenectady County that I were mentioned at the SOC Meeting.

ooh All observers and participants would surely agree that Community Representative Jeffrey Parry, of Scotia, was the most active participant in the first SOC meeting. He first came to our attention at the Public Hearings on the sex offender laws, where he supported strong measures. The Daily Gazette article “Citizens speak on sex offender laws” (Aug. 23, 2007) noted, for example:

“Scotia resident Jeff Parry, who said the law should remain. To address [Niskayuna Supervisor Luke] Smith’s concerns [about the restrictions causing sex offenders to go underground], he said convicts should be punished with 25-year prison sentences if they stop reporting their address.
“We need effective counseling, we need to monitor them and we need to keep them away from society,”

This morning, Mr. Parry was kind enough to leave a thoughtful Comment here at f/k/a, at our earlier posting about the amended laws and establishment of the Council. To assure a broader audience for his Comments, I’m reposting them here:

Comment of Jeff Parry: The Schenectady laws were indeed a flawed attempt to deal with a serious problem. My personal feeling is that the perspective that is advocated in this website is probably mostly correct. Unfortunately the approaches advocated here do nothing to relieve the anxiety of parents or property owners. Rightly or wrongly, the only thing that will remove the stress from the neighborhood is the removal of the offender.

Those who frequent this website may feel that this point of view is hysterical overreaction and ignorant of the facts but it is also the reality on the ground in the affected neighborhoods. A sex offender in a neighborhood leads inevitably to the decline of the neighborhood. Among my peers the checking of the sex offender registry has become a regular part of life and whether it makes sense from an intellectual perspective or not, no one with children who has the means to do otherwise is going to buy property or move into a neighborhood where there are sex offenders.

I don’t know if this ‘irrational fear’ can coexist with a rational approach toward helping/containing sex offenders but I am hopeful that the newly formed “Schenectady County Council to Prevent Sex Offenses” will explore the issue.

Here are my first thoughts in response to Jeff Parry’s Comment:

Reply by David Giacalone: I very much appreciate your taking the time to help us understand your position, Jeff. We both want to prevent the sexual abuse of children. We appear to disagree on how to do so effectively and lawfully. I believe that our overall approach needs to take into account the benefits that our society receives from enacting laws based on practicality, experience and expertise, rather than simply fear, and from living within the State and federal Constitutions — restrictions on majority rule that are needed to assure that every member of society receives basic civil rights.

Unlike other advocates of strong sex offender residency restrictions, you speak in a calm voice, and I appreciate your demeanor. I have also tried to avoid using the word “hysteria” when talking about proponents of such laws, because the word connotes uncontrollable laughter or crying or raised voices. But, calmness doesn’t necessarily mean that the fear behind the residency restrictions isn’t excessive and perhaps irrational. I don’t deny that “the reality on the ground in the affected neighborhoods” is one of great fear and concern with sex offenders. But, public policy can’t be based on overblown fears of some members of the public, and the desire to “do something” can’t possibly become an excuse for doing something that is likely to be ineffective and counterproductive.

I believe that a fair reading of the literature on this topic makes it clear that your preoccupation is far greater than is warranted by the facts, by experience, and by common sense. The materials cited and discussed in our series of f/k/a sex offender posts convinces me that there is virtually no connection between the block or neighborhood where a sex offender lives and whether he/she reoffends or who the victim is likely to be. (The only connection seems to be that the sex offender is not likely to choose a stranger for a victim who lives nearby.) Furthermore, banishing sex offenders from society and treating them like a group of sub-humans with no rights seems far more likely to increase tendencies toward recidivism than to reduce it.

When a child has an irrational fear — bogeymen under the bed or in the closet, for instance — the parent’s job is to reassure the child that he or she is safe and to provide an emotional comfort zone. It surely isn’t to underscore the fear and to take drastic, unnecessary actions to banish the bogeymen. When adults have excessive fears, they actually make things worse for their children, who perceive that fear and their parents’ powerlessness, and feel especially vulnerable.

You seem to be asking your political leaders, and the rest of the public, to take the fears of your “peers” as an unchangeable given and to overact-in-kind in order to placate those fears. My hope is that — for the sake of your children and your own peace of mind — you and your highly-concerned neighbors take another look at the facts and realize that your fear of the stranger-predator living on your block is miss-directed and excessive (see for example, this, this and that posting). The fact that the Constitution won’t let you permanently banish them should be another factor helping you to “learn to live with it” — to realign those fears and instead focus (as Patty Wetterling suggests) on things that a family can do avoid sexual abuse. In addition, the reality that sex offenders live in every neighborhood (and always have) should help reduce the fear that your property values are going to plummet should one of them move or continue to reside near you.

Sexually abusing a child is a dreadful crime. But, we know that the crime is perpetrated far more by relatives and acquaintances with access to children than by the stranger — especially the stranger next door. Our children are far more likely to be harmed by the driver on a cellphone or the addict seeking funds to buy drugs than by a registered sex offender who lives in the neighborhood. Talking about keeping “them” away from society will get the Sex Offender Council nowhere. You are not doing “the Community” a favor by suggesting unconstitutional, impractical, highly expensive “solutions”. For a voice to be listened to, it needs to be much more than calm and unhysterical. It needs to be reasonable and well-reasoned.

For more info, click for a list of f/k/a sex offender posts.

update (October 25, 2007): The Daily Gazette‘s Carl Strock returns to the topic of the Sex Offender Council in his column today, entitled “Sex-offender task force: stacked deck ” (you can find it reprinted here). Carl makes a lot of good points, including this paragraph:

“No Richard Hamill or other professional who actually knows anything, nor anyone else who has any qualms or misgivings about the measures that the Legislature itself had to back away from. Keeping in mind that Susan Savage didn’t back away from them. She was one of two legislators who voted to keep them in place. Meaning she simply picked people who agree with her own hard-line position.”

He also tells us that the third “Community Representative,” Karen House “told me by telephone that she is a Niskayuna mother who is ‘concerned about the dangers that predators pose to children,’ who fully supports the laws the Legislature passed, and who simply spoke to Susan Savage about serving on the task force. “

Accused of not consulting “stakeholders” and experts, Legislative Chair Susan Savage has set up an advisory Committee of cheerleaders (including teammates cheering themselves on) and of rival elected officials who she surely hopes to either co-opt or put on the spot politically. As Carl puts it, she’s created, “a stacked deck. A bunch of fellow enthusiasts in promoting the myth of predators lurking behind trees waiting to snatch children from playgrounds.  Trying to scare people out of their wits. ” Ms. Savage (and her purported co-strategist County Attorney Chris Gardner — who is forced to play the role of ignorant frontman and Stooge to keep his job) must have some sort of Game Plan in mind. Watching it unfold will surely not be edifying. Once again, I can only hope that a group of reasonable people will offer the Sex Offender Council an alternative plan, and that a good Minority Report will be issued — even if unofficially — for the public to consider.

[On a related note, see this article from the Sun Journal of Lewiston, Maine: “Shadowed by the past: Should we care that laws against sex offenders in Maine may have gone too far? Even some law-and-order types are now saying yes,” Oct. 21, 2007; via Prof Yung at Sex Crimes]

update (Dec. 6, 2007): Carl Strock’s Dec. 4, 2007, column in the Daily Gazette included two important blurbs::

RED-FACE DEPT. Recently I took to task the Schenectady County task force on sexoffenders for holding their first meeting without any announcement to the public, which I confi – dently declared to be illegal.

I stand corrected by no less an authority than Bob Freeman, executive director of the state’s Committee on Open Government, who assures me that as an advisory body, the county task force is not subject to the Open Meetings Law. I apologize.

DEAD DEADLINE: Speaking of Schenectady’s task force on sex offenders, you can forget about its 90-day deadline for reporting back to the county Legislature, a deadline that has already passed.
County Attorney Chris Gardner, who chairs the task force, says it hasn’t even met since the first unproductive one-hour session, but no matter —it will meet again soon, he promises.
I guess the deadline just doesn’t mean anything, despite being part of the law that created the body.
As for whether Gardner will let us, the public, know about future meetings so we can listen in, despite not being legally obliged to do so, I could not elicit a commitment.

Happily, over at the Rotterdam, NY, Internet Forum, Duanesburg’s Town Supervisor, Rene Merrihew, who is an ex officio member of the advisory Council,  reassured Carl that she would let him know about the next meeting.

update (Oct. 26, 2007): A truly scary Halloween scenario from today’s Schenectady Daily Gazette — an All-Susan-Savage Sex Offender Council.


October 21, 2007

not that Cynthia Miner — this one

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,viewpoint — David Giacalone @ 8:06 pm

Last night, my dear friend Cynthia Miner (a/k/a Cyndi) revealed — while serving a perfect combination of meatloaf and whipped potatoes — that she has never Googled herself and was sure there would be no trace of her on the internet. I immediately decided that one of my very favorite human beings, and the lovely inspiration for several dagosan haiku (like the one immediately below), deserves to make her mark in the realm of cyberspace and search engine queries. Thus, this posting was born.

rusty blades —
she skates backwards
so we can chat

……………. by david giacalone – Frogpond (XXX:3, Fall 2007)

When I Googled “Cynthia Miner” this morning, I found a few pretenders to her crown. So, I want to make clear which Cynthia Miner I’m talking about.  It’s Cynthia L. Miner, nee Koser.  [The “L” stands for Louise, but she rarely offers that information.] Although she loves her 99 acres of woods, ponds, pasture and swamp, she’s not the Forest Service biologist and communications director in Portland, Oregon.  While, she adores her little island casa in the Caribbean, she’s also not the Cynthia Miner on St. Croix. And, although she’d probably be a wonderful massage therapist, the f/k/a Gang is not talking about the one in Olympia, WA. Furthermore, “Our Cyndi Miner” is

She is, however, the proud (and occasionally exhausted) mother of Anny Miner (plus Dawn and Mark), and they starred together in this photo from 1991:

gets all the treats –
first Halloween



. (haiga, originally posted at MagnaPoets Japanese Form)


To be more specific, this posting salutes Cynthia Miner of Duanesburg, New York, and Cozumel Island, Mexico. She cannot be labeled nor bottled, but is the wife of William Miner (of Miner’s Farm Art & Antiques); mother of Dawn Denise, Mark and Anne Miner; sister of Cecelia McPhie (formerly of Cardiff, CA and now Delanson, NY), mistress of Miner’s Farm, befriender of hungry squirrels and cranky old coots, nemesis of many a dam-building beaver, tireless community volunteer, peerless party-thrower and flower-planter, and much, much more (including lawn bocce queen).

This watercolor portrait of Cynthia L. Miner was painted by the well-known watercolorist John Koser, her father.

Her countless friends and admirers (secret and overt) are urged to leave encomia and other verbal bouquets for Cynthia in our Comment section. Just in case my buddy Bill Miner is the jealous type, I shall say no more.

winter solstice
adolescent wiccans
flunk their spelling test

hazy Harvest moon
the face I met
when our skin was smooth

3 P.M.
mom’s shoveling wakes
the cranky teen

freezing rain
two Baby Boomers
steam-up the Volvo

…………………………………………………….. by dagosan

[big] Like her mom, Anny Miner has also inspired posting and haiku here at f/k/a. See, e.g., “anny is thirteen” (June 4, 2004).

p.s. Although Cynthia Miner may be too busy or too humble to Google herself, don’t forget that there are some fairly good reasons for we mere mortals to do it regularly. See, e.g., “Why you should Google yourself–and often” and “Idea #14: Google yourself” and “Google Yourself: Maximize Your Visibility and Monitor Your Reputation“.

October 20, 2007

chalk up another lazy saturday

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 12:46 pm

napHammockIt’s rare that the third Saturday in October still feels like hammock weather here in Schenectady. A sunny weekend with temperatures in the 70’s has dispelled any illusion that the f/k/a Gang might do some heavy-duty punditry any time some. Instead, we’ll just post a few news-and-views Quickies and a stream of semi-conscious one-breath poems.

in the hammock
the undertaker dozes arms crossed
on his chest

……………….. by george swede from Almost Unseen (Brooks Books, 2000)

lazy slugs –
one in the hammock
watching one on the ground

…………………………………… by dagosan

New face of vandalism?” (The Brooklyn Paper, Oct. 13, 2007)

As usual, a short stroll over to Walter and Frank’s Overlawyered cafe, turned up a couple interesting subjects for those wanting to wax poetic over a cup of java about the sorry state of the American legal system.

  • Read about the “6-year-old girl in Park Slope, Brooklyn, [who] faces $300 fine for drawing pictures with sidewalk chalk ” (Oct. 19 roundup)

I know this wall scribbler’s
autumn dusk

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

  • And, have your suspicions confirmed, with “You mean it’s not the videogames?,” which points to new research suggesting that “It is not the cartoons that make your kids smack playmates or violently grab their toys but, rather, a lack of social skills, according to new research.” See “Taming Baby Rage: Why Are Some Kids So Angry?(Scientific American, Oct. 16), which quotes Richard Tremblay, a professor of pediatrics, psychiatry and psychology at the University of Montreal, who says: “It’s a natural behavior and it’s surprising that the idea that children and adolescents learn aggression from the media is still relevant,” after spending more than two decades tracking 35,000 Canadian children (from age five months through their 20s) in search of the roots of physical aggression.


chalk dust
in the eraser trough
autumn chill

…………………………………. by Peggy Lyles – To Hear the Rain (Brooks Books, 2002)

twilight shadows
the outline of a child
in sidewalk chalk

………………. by Randy Brooks – snapshots haiku magazine #9 (2001)


“a flower,
not a dragonfly” —
she wags a small, chalky finger

…………………….. by dagosan

Run Out of Town on a Poll: New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer apparently decided it was about time to do some ‘splainin’ about his plan to grant driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. (see our prior post) He held a press conference yesterday announcing some big-gun support for his plan from Richard A. Clarke, the former White House counterterrorism czar. See “Former U.S. Terror Official Backs Spitzer’s License Plan” (New York Times, Oct. 20, 2007) Clarke didn’t appear at the press conference, but released a statement making a reasonable point:

“From a law enforcement and security perspective, it is far preferable for the state to know who is living in it and driving on its roads, and to have their photograph and their address on file, than to have large numbers of people living in our cities whose identity is totally unknown to the government.”

The NYT article reports that “Spitzer said he was unconcerned about a recent poll that showed that more than 70 percent of voters disapproved of his plan,”

“I don’t base security decisions about the state of New York based on polling numbers,” the governor said. He continued: “When I decide something is important for our security, I’ll do it if it’s right, if it’s constitutional, and it’s legal and it’s necessary. I also feel that those poll questions were structured in a way that was almost designed to get to that answer. I think if people listened to an articulation based on facts and based upon what we intend to do, they will recognize that this is smart security policy and probably support it.”

Meanwhile, “The usually vocal US Senator Charles Schumer Wednesday said he didn’t want to get involved with the state debate over whether illegal immigrants should be issued New York State driver’s licenses without possessing Social Security cards.” See “Schumer steers clear of New York debate over driver’s license policy change” (and see WNED-AM)

update (Oct. 21, 2007):  In New York’s Fight Over Driver’s Licenses, a New York Times editorial today says:  “What is getting lost in all the fury is that Mr. Spitzer’s plan is actually a practical step to make the state and the streets safer.”  . . . “Mr. Spitzer recently announced that New York would join eight other states that do not require licensed drivers to prove that they are in the country legally. Instead, prospective drivers will need to prove exactly who they are, that they can drive safely, that they have car insurance, and that they live in New York State.” . . . “The frustrations of the plan’s critics are understandable, but their quarrel is with Washington, which continues to avoid addressing the immigration problem head-on. Mr. Spitzer’s proposal for making driver’s licenses more broadly available is a calm injection of reason into a subject that has seen too little of it.”


ambulance ambulance f Health Care 2008: The Kaiser Family Foundation has made it a lot easier to understand the health care issues addressed by the presidential candidates, at its comprehensive HealthCare08 website. Besides providing news and analysis, for example, it now allows you to create a Side-by-Side Summary 2008 Presidential Candidate Health Care Proposals. “This online tool allows users to customize side-by-sides by selecting as many as four candidates for comparison that can then be formatted into a printer-friendly pdf. The tool summarizes positions in four overall categories of access to health care coverage, cost containment, improving the quality of care and financing.” (via David Harlow at HealthBlog)

first autumn morning–
a fever-curing
kind of sky

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


Over My Near-Dead Body: You know I’m feeling especially lazy when I can’t get up the energy to write at length about the Tom Collins post this week at More Partner Income, titled “Surveys Show Most Law Firms Are Underpriced” (18 Oct 2007;via What About Clients?) He is unhappy about “Billing attorney downward adjustments prior [to] issuing client bills” and ‘unrequested or non-negotiated’ courtesy discounts.” As suggested here, hourly billing lawyers often have to make those adjustments to keep the automatic multiplication of a fee rate by “actual” hours worked from becoming an unreasonably excessive fee. Suffice it to say that Tom and I differ greatly on this topic and on the relationship between the price and the value of attorney services.


drift-covered hydrant —
the dog puts a halo
on my snow angel

…………………….. by dagosan


HaigaFootSnowGS orig. Just a Year Ago: Western New York was melting its way out of 20 or 30 inches of snow (as memorialed by dagosan in the poems below, and related haiga). As much as I dislike hot and humid weather, my old bones are starting to dislike the excesses of winter even more — especially when they show up in the Fall. So, I’m going to do the only sane thing and head outside right now (well, right after a short nap) for a last shot at our October heatwave. Inside or out, please enjoy your weekend.

a foot of snow
a month too soon
candles for nightlights

. ………………………………. . haiga by Arthur Giacalone (photos) & David Giacalone (poetry); Simply Haiku Journal, Vol. 5 no. 1 (Spring 2007)

pumpkins and snowsuits
on the mudroom floor —
the ides of october

…………………….. by dagosan – click to see a related haiga photo/poem

October 18, 2007

Gov. Spite-zer needs more EQ

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,viewpoint — David Giacalone @ 2:21 pm

I confess: When it comes to my family and friends, I’m biased — I expect much more from them (e.g., better behavior, reasoning and argument) than from other human beings. The same is true for people with whom I share a political party and/or philosophy. That’s why I was especially disappointed this summer that Schenectady County’s Democrats were the leading PanderPols pushing through sex-offender residency bans; and I’ve taken national Democrats and True Majority to task over Iraq, and winced this year over the procedural bullying tactics of the new majority in Congress. In addition, as I suggested last week, having a high IQ is never an excuse for having a low EQ; it’s a reason to demand that our leaders (and our kids) demonstrate and nurture a robust “Emotional Intelligence.” That brings me to New York’s Democratic Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

Although I voted for him in 2006, I noted during the primary campaign last year how turned off I was by a barrage of “self-congratulatory, and self-consciously serio-heroic” tv ads by gubernatorial candidate Eliot Spitzer. (see “spitzer and the sitzfleisher”) As feared, after his large electoral victory and early popularity, we soon saw the arrogant and obnoxious side of Eliot “the f**king steamroller” Spitzer. Despite his clearly high IQ and vibrant verbal skills, Eliot Spitzer has somehow confused the privilege and power of the governor’s “bully pulpit” with acting like a bully (who, in fact, rarely deigns to use his pulpit to explain his positions, strategies, goals).

stepping on
sidewalk ants the boy
everyone bullies

in the howling wind
under the full moon
the snowman, headless

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

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

bully2 Things have gotten much worse recently, in the wake of Troopergate, with the controversy that has arisen around the Spitzer proposal to — by administrative fiat — permit unlawful aliens to obtain driver’s licenses. Although many Democrats, even liberal ones like Cong. Kirsten Gillibrand, disagreed with the largely unexplained policy, Spitzer called his Republican opponents part of the “rabid right.” See “Rhetoric drowns out any rational discussion” (Troy Record, editorial from The Watertown Daily Times, Oct. 17, 2007):

“Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer’s unilateral decision to change the rules on obtaining a driver’s license unleashed a barrage of scathing criticism which has been followed by the governor’s intemperate defense of his decision.” . . .

“An irascible Spitzer accused his critics of “fear-mongering and extremist rhetoric,” “knee-jerk reactions” and engaging “in the politics of fear and selfishness.” Spitzer lashed out at Bloomberg as “wrong at every level – dead wrong, factually wrong, legally wrong, morally wrong, ethically wrong.”

“Spitzer maintains his policy, when it takes effect in December, will improve security by bringing illegal immigrants out of the shadows, improve safety on state highways and reduce insurance premiums since unlicensed drivers are more likely to be involved in car accidents.

“That may be true, but rational discussion of the policy is being drowned out by the rhetoric on both sides. Spitzer has missed an opportunity. He failed to anticipate the opposition, which might have been avoided by laying the groundwork for acceptable change through dialogue rather than imposing it by fiat.”

When the county clerks, who woud have to administer the new interpretation of the law, collectively said “Hell, No,” the Spitzer administration threatened to sue them. Republican leadership in the state legislature (they control the Senate, but not the Assembly) responded by saying the cost of such litigation should fall on the State, not the Counties. Assembly Republican Minority Leader James Tedisco (R-Schenectady) in introducing a bill he dubbed the County Clerks Protection Act. He declared (see NYPost, Oct. 12, 2007):

“Without question, county clerks who refuse to enact Gov. Spitzer’s risky, reckless, irresponsible proposal must be defended and indemnified from any frivolous lawsuit he may bring.”

. . . I’m not supporting the childish name-calling and posturing of Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco, with his chant of “Illegal Eliot.” But, I’m going to let my Republican friends call out Tedisco and misbehaving members of their party. update (Oct. 19, 2007): an editorial in the Albany Times Union, “save the clinic” says “Mr. Tedisco has been in politics long enough to know what buttons to push to provoke a crisis, and that makes his latest posturing truly offensive.”

Yesterday, the antagonism was ratcheted up, and the level of discourse and debate brought down even further. As the New York Post reported: “SPITEFUL SPITZ KO’S HEALTH $$ IN ID SPAT,” by Fred Dicker, Oct. 17, 2007):

“Gov. Spitzer yesterday played vicious hardball with his chief opponent in the battle over driver’s licenses for illegal aliens – canceling $300,000 in state-funded health-care and education projects in Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco’s district, The Post has learned.

” ‘It’s governance by vengeance. He doesn’t care who he hurts,’ a furious Tedisco (R-Schenectady) told The Post. ‘You disagree with him and he tries to steamroller you,’ said Tedisco, a Republican.”

As the Post reminded readers, “The Democratic governor made his infamous “I’m a f- – -ing steamroller” remark to Tedisco earlier this year.”

spitzerG Local television and newspaper outlets have been covering this story in depth. See, e.g., “Funding cut called political punishment: Tedisco claims Spitzer is penalizing Schenectady health clinic in GOP district” (Albany Times Union, Oct. 18, 2007; reprinted); “Spitzer blocks local funding” (Schenectady Daily Gazette, Oct. 18, 2007); and “Tedisco accuses Spitzer of ‘dirty tricks’ ”  WNYT.com 13, Oct. 17, 2007). [update: compare editorials in the Schenectady Daily Gazette, “spitzer steamroller fails again,” and the Albany Times Union, “save the clinic , Oct. 19, 2007.] The October 17th NYPost article yesterday explained that:

  • Tedisco says the Schenectady Free Health Clinic is one of the programs that will lose funding. . . . . Staff at the clinic volunteers their time and skills to serve the uninsured working poor. Doctors say the facility will simply not last long if they don’t get funding from the state. . . . “If we were to close there are 2,500 to 3,000 people today who will lose their care,” Dr. Robert Pletman said.
  • “[Spitzer’s budget director, Paul Francis] wouldn’t say why, but I have no doubt it’s a direct result of my opposition to the governor’s plan to give licenses to illegal aliens,” said Tedisco. . . . “Here’s another dirty trick from this governor. . . . “He’s out there bashing President Bush for not signing a health-care program for kids and he’s going to close down a health-care program for the poor in my district and these people will now be at the doorstep of hospital emergency rooms at 10 times the cost,” Tedisco continued.
  • “Spitzer spokeswoman Christine Anderson insisted the governor wasn’t retaliating against Tedisco but was only ‘trying to get state budget spending under control.’

In their defense, Spitzer’s people say Tedisco was told in January that the funding would no longer be available. However, email released by Tedisco appears to directly contradict that claim. According to a follow-up article in today’s New York Post, “Spitzer’s office e-mailed Tedisco’s on Sept. 6, saying: ‘We’re prepared to process this project along with the other items’.” See “E-MAILS THE ‘SMOKING GUN’ IN GOV VENGEANCE” (New York Post, Oct. 18, 2007) The article also notes that “an aide to Spitzer conceded” there was no written proof that a notification was sent to Tedisco about not funding the projects.

That reminds me: Have I told you lately how much I hate it when I’m lied to by anyone, politicians included — and especially political leaders in my party?

This is all, to my mind and viscera, rather disturbing. Eliot Spitzer is supposed to be a bright light among Democratic politicians, and you know he dreams of an 8-year sleepover at the White House someday. Is it really too much to ask our political leaders to act like mature adults? To demonstrate, consistently, a high EQ and Emotional Intelligence? (Click for a quick recap of the “Four Components of Emotional Intelligence“)

Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman

As my post in January 2005 states, I have long been worried over the tendency of my leftish friends and allies to demonize their opponents — apparently based on a premise of moral and intellectual superiority, and a refusal to concede that those with opposing views are acting in good faith. With this certainty comes a willingness to use virtually any means to achieve power and maintain it. [Yes, this happens on the Right, too, but that is not my fight today.] This self-righteousness on the Left (along with a willingness to bend the truth and the rules) is one of the main reasons that I am so suspicious about the current presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton, another New York Democratic leader.

his side of it
her side of it
winter silence

two little boys
paddling like mad —
the beached canoe

…………. by lee gurga from Fresh Scent (Brooks Books,1998) and/or The Haiku Anthology 3rd. Ed

There’s not much I can hope to do today to help encourage Eliot Spitzer to nurture and demonstrate Emotional Intelligence in his role as Governor and head of the Democratic Party in New York State. He seem to be re-acting to sharply plummeting poll numbers by getting more shrill and becoming more of a bully. Perhaps it will take a major political setback or two on important issues to encourage a bit of personal introspection and reform — to go along with the goal he sets out on the Spitzer 2010 website: “We must transform our government so that it is as ethical and wise as all of New York.” Wise isn’t just IQ, of course, it’s also acting with emotional maturity, empathy, responsibility.

Primal Leadership

Eliot Spitzer is going to have to admit he needs to work on his EQ, and make a real commitment to do so. If he’d like some help from the experts, I’d suggest spending some time with “Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence” (by Daniel Goleman, Annie McKee, Richard E. Boyatzis; Harvard Business School Press, 2002), where Eliot can learn about the difference between dissonant leadership and resonant leadership. [I know he’s busy and on a budget, but the Audio CD, available today used for under $4 at the Amazon Marketplace, should be convenient.]

Clearly, it’s way too late for “How to Raise a Child with a High EQ: A Parents’ Guide to Emotional Intelligence,” by Dr. Lawrence E. Shapiro, PhD (Harper 1998). But, his lovely wife might find a few helpful spouse-rearing pointers.

Of course, having EQ doesn’t mean not having a sense or humor. The f/k/a Gang doesn’t really believe that Name Is Destiny, but we do enjoy musing over Gov. Spitzer’s surname and how it might affect his personality and fate. Indeed, the name “Spitzer” offers many destinies for Eliot, who — like most adults — can choose a life (and career) filled with emotional health and harmony rather than destructive emotions and strife. As we pointed out in December 2005 (reacting to Prof. Bainbridge’s question: Spitzer = Thug?), in German:

– the noun spitzer is a sharpener; or a shiv;

spitze is acuteness, and the pinnacle, but also a sting or a prick;

– the verb spitzen is to nib or sharpen.

We’d like to urge Eliot Spitzer to go for the healthy, inspiring aspects of being a “spitzer.” He doesn’t need a higher IQ (and is surely too old to do anything much about it), but it’s never too late to work on your EQ. The results could be just what New York needs in a governor. That political pinnacle has your name on it, Eliot Spitzer, but you won’t get there through spit and spite.

update: We couldn’t possibly have known just how low Gov. Spitzer’s EQ really was, until his big prostitution-ring scandal. See our post “spitzer: maybe name is destiny” (March 11, 2008); and see Dr. Susan Dunn’s resultant look at Spitzer and EQ (and her attempt to drum up some new business).


through the open door . . .
her smile doesn’t forgive
all my sins

snowblind on the range:
homesteader feels
the barbwire home

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

October 16, 2007

tuesday tips

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 10:53 am

sunday shorts monday moments If I don’t get this collection of quickie blurbs posted by midnight, I’m going to have to come up with an alliterative phrase using “w’s” for my diminuitive punditry and pointers. Here are a handful of news items and notions I just had to share before they got stale.

With a nice touch of topical serendipity, UNC-Chapel Hill law professor Eric Muller followed our Saturday posting on Violet de Cristoforo and her Japanese-American internment camp haiku with the announcement at his Is That Legal? weblog that “October 15 is the official publication date of my new book American Inquisition: The Hunt for Japanese American Disloyalty in World War II. [also posted at PrawfsBlawg] It’s an account of the secret inner mechanisms of racism within the episode we call the Japanese American internment of World War II.” Historian Roger Daniels says the book presents a new story of “bad news from the good war.” Muller will be “blogging about the book’s claims” for several days at Is That Legal?. His Oct. 14th posting offers “a very brief account of how the federal government ended up in the business of passing judgment on the loyalty of more than 40,000 U.S. citizens of Japanese ancestry between 1943 and 1945.” Today’s post explains How The Government Got What It Thought Was “The Goods” On Japanese Americans (October 16, 2007). Muller’s look at racial prejudice is important topic and reminder, in all seasons. [hat tip to Ed at Blawg Review for the pointer.]

If our Prof. Yabut ever writes his autobiography, he’ll probably note that he chose the Japanese-American Internment during WWII as the topic for a 9th grade term paper. It was his very first substantial research project (using cutting edge 1960’s technology — various encyclopedia volumes, microfiche, and 3″ X 5″ index cards). It was also his first realization that our American government and society easily falls back upon racial prejudices and fears. To this day, Prof. Yabut can recall his surprise over the hate-filled, publicly-uttered demagoguery of General John DeWitt of the Western Defense Command [“The Japanese race is an enemy race.’] and the editorial writers of the Sacramento Bee.

To my surprise and delight, the central branch of the Schenectady County Public Library had a copy of Violet de Cristoforo’s May Sky: There Is Always Tomorrow; An Anthology of Japanese American Concentration Camp Kaiko Haiku (Sun & Moon Classics, 1997), when I searched its catalog and poetry shelves yesterday. That allows me share a few haiku from de Cristoforo’s life-work, May Sky [see our prior post], with you today, and over the next few weeks.:

Rhododemdron blooms
about to leave this house
where my child was born

………………………………….. by Yotenchi Agari

Migrating birds chirp
this morning blooming flowers
are scarce

…………………….. by Konan Ouchida

Living in barracks
front and back
sunflowers blooming
……………………………. by Shonan Suzuki

Frosty morning
handed a hatchet
today I become a woodcutter

……………………………. by Senbinshi Takaoka




between the pages
I flip back to —
a hair from my head

between the rocks
water the ocean
didn’t take


……………………….. by Gary Hotham – from “Footprints & Fingerprints” (Lilliput Review, Modest Proposal Chapbooks, 1999)


Cosby’s Come On: Tim Russert had a special edition of Meet the Press on Sunday that truly was special (Oct. 14, 2007, transcript; full netcast at mtp.msnbc.com.). The hour was devoted to a discussion with entertainer Bill Cosby and Harvard psychology professor Alvin F. Poussaint, M.D. about their new book “Come On People: On the Path from Victims to Victors” (Thomas Nelson Pub., Sept. 2007; Amazon.com online reader). Their publisher says that Cosby and Pouissaint

“have a powerful message for families and communities as they lay out their visions for strengthening America, or for that matter the world. They address the crises of people who are stuck because of feelings of low self-esteem, abandonment, anger, fearfulness, sadness, and feelings of being used, undefended and unprotected.”

Come On People challenges readers to:

* engage in political activism
* take their neighborhoods back;
* become purposeful and effective parents;
* get actively engaged in shaping the lives of their children;
* take care of their physical and emotional health;
* encourage their families toward higher education; and
* think entrepreneurially about employment and economic advancement.”

I don’t know whether the book, described as “Suffused with humor and moral clarity,” is worth reading in its entirety (especially if you already believe in its message), but the tv show was an hour well spent and I am pleased to see the book getting so much attention. Cosby’s first words to Russert were “I want you to go back to parenting.” In a similar vein, Bob Herbert talks about the book, in a column today at the New York Times, and says “The most important step toward ending the tragic cycles of violence and poverty among African-Americans also happens to be the heaviest lift — reconnecting black fathers to their children.” “Tough, Sad and Smart” (NYT, Oct. 16, 2007)

Cosby has taken a lot of flak over the past few years for “blaming the victim” and “airing dirty laundry.” In commentary posted yesterday at New American Media, entitled “Come On Cosby!” (Oct 15, 2007), Earl Ofair Hutchinson insists that Bill Cosby has “fanned dangerous and destructive stereotypes.” Hutchinson continues:

This is hardly the call to action that can inspire and motivate underachieving blacks to improve their lives. Instead, it further demoralizes those poor blacks who are doing the best to keep their children and themselves out of harm’s way, often against towering odds. Worse, Cosby’s blame-the-victim slam does nothing to encourage government officials and business leaders to provide greater resources and opportunities to aid those blacks who need help.

I have to say that I don’t see justification for Hutchinson’s negative reaction to the Cosby message. His factual rebuttal to Cosby is quite weak. From my experience (as a Law Guardian representing children) with black single mothers, black father’s fighting for a larger parenting role, and grandmothers raising another generation of children, I bet they welcome the message and will be further encouraged rather than demoralized by it. Cosby clearly wants more political action (and urges blacks to use their political clout), but — as Herbert points out in discussing Come on People — “hand in hand with its practical advice and the undercurrent of deep love for one’s community is a stress on the absolute importance of maintaining one’s personal dignity and self-respect.” The message I took away from the Meet the Press show jibes with Herbert’s impression of the book:

“It’s a tough book. Victimhood is cast as the enemy. Defeat, failure and hopelessness are not to be tolerated.

“Hard times and rough circumstances are not excuses for degrading others or allowing oneself to be degraded. In fact, they’re not excuses for anything, except to try harder.”


the wave we avoid
pulls the dead fish


snow shoveled on top of snow —
she breathes slowly
on her fingers

……………………….. by Gary Hotham – from “Footprints & Fingerprints” (Lilliput Review, Modest Proposal Chapbooks, 1999)

. . .

Across the Universe” (NY Times review; dvd soundtrack) . .

To be honest, despite having been a Beatles fan for almost half a century, I wasn’t at all sure I was going to enjoy Across the Universe — a film structured as a mix of conventional poor-boy-meets-rich-girl love story, phantasmagoric cinematography, MTV videos, and musical theater set-pieces and choreography. Well, I enjoyed every minute of it and (although I rarely purchase music these days) have ordered the Deluxe Edition dvd, which is being released next week and has 29 tracks — mostly sung by the main featured performers, but with cameos by the likes of Joe Cocker, Bono and Eddie Izzard.

Directed by Julie Taymor; and written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, the movie features Evan Rachel Wood (Lucy), Jim Sturgess (Jude), Joe Anderson (Max), Dana Fuchs (Sadie), Martin Luther McCoy (Jo-Jo) and T. V. Carpio (Prudence). Go to see this movie with someone you love — or someone you’d like to fall in love with you; take a Beatles fan — or someone you hope to make a Beatles fan.

If I were going to go home with a crush, it would definitely have been on T.V. Carpio (who sang “I Want To Hold Your Hand” and “Because”).

In his NYT review, Stephen Holden says: “The movie is completely devoid of the protective cynicism that is now a reflexive response to the term ‘the ’60s’.” He confesses: “I realized that falling in love with a movie is like falling in love with another person. Imperfections, however glaring, become endearing quirks once you’ve tumbled.” Sure, we known the endearment might not endure, but “during the time it lasts, the intoxicating passion of Jude and Lucy, both innocents by today’s standards, convinces, for a moment, that love is all you need.”

creaky old rocker –
two gray pony tails
keep the beat

……………………………… by dagosan


The Too-Quiet Generation? In “Generation Q” (October 10, 2007), New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman tells us he’s been both impressed and baffled by the current generation of college students.

“I am impressed because they are so much more optimistic and idealistic than they should be. I am baffled because they are so much less radical and politically engaged than they need to be.”

Friedman’s been calling them “Generation Q” — “the Quiet Americans, in the best sense of that term, quietly pursuing their idealism, at home and abroad.” But, he also worries that “Generation Q may be too quiet, too online, for its own good, and for the country’s own good.” He explains:

“When I think of the huge budget deficit, Social Security deficit and ecological deficit that our generation is leaving this generation, if they are not spitting mad, well, then they’re just not paying attention. And we’ll just keep piling it on them.”


[haiga] With Across the Universe fresh in my memory (reminding me of the relative financial, intellectual, emotional and political freedom we Baby Boomers had in our college years), I have to agree totally with Friedman’s call to action of Generation Q (even though I won’t agree with all of their reasoning or conclusions): Friedman insists:

“Generation Q would be doing itself a favor, and America a favor, if it demanded from every candidate who comes on campus answers to three questions: What is your plan for mitigating climate change? What is your plan for reforming Social Security? What is your plan for dealing with the deficit — so we all won’t be working for China in 20 years?

“America needs a jolt of the idealism, activism and outrage (it must be in there) of Generation Q. That’s what twenty-somethings are for — to light a fire under the country. But they can’t e-mail it in, and an online petition or a mouse click for carbon neutrality won’t cut it. They have to get organized in a way that will force politicians to pay attention rather than just patronize them.” [emphasis added]

Here at f/k/a, we’ve been know to sneer at the “slacktivism” of America’s 20-somethings (most recently here). So, we nod in agreement when Thomas Friedman points to the word “Courage,” on an archway above a statue of James Meredith at the University of Mississippi, and reminds Generation Q: “That is what real activism looks like. There is no substitute.”

in both hands —
the water she carries
from the ocean

today she’s ten —
the wind too big for the hand
she holds open

……………………….. by Gary Hotham – from “Footprints & Fingerprints” (Lilliput Review, Modest Proposal Chapbooks, 1999)

computer weary Yes, I promised earlier today to get a few more items posted, but it’s just not gonna happen.
Instead, I’ll do some quick pointing (and prodding), and you’ll have to do your own quickie punditry:

  • Re: Greedy Dentists. See if you can read the New York Times article, from October 11, 2007, without comparing the tactics of the American Dental Association with state bar associations, who often seem far more interested in maintaining and increasing the wealth of their members than with helping to make access to civil justice available — that is, affordable (since, there may be too few dentists dentists and dental schools, but there are plenty of lawyers) — for the un-wealthy members of our society.  Meanwhile, over at Concurring Opinions, Seton Hall health care law professor takes a look at the Dental Cartel, and questions the wisdom of using a “free trade” approach (importing from other countries) to solving our shortage of dentists.


  • [Bumper Sticker] As you have surely noticed, Al Gore’s winning the Nobel Peace Prize this week [see “Gore Shares Peace Prize for Climate Change Work” (NYT, Oct. 13, 2007)] has brought renewed calls of ‘Run, Al, run’ (Christian Science Monitor, Oct 14, 2007), as the Prize propels Gore into kingmaker role  FT.com, Oct. 12, 2007). Please break into small groups and discuss how Sen. Barack Obama might be best able to obtain and utilize an endorsement by Al Gore, so as to derail Hillary Clinton’s march to the Democratic nomination and propel Mr. Obama into the presidency.
  • Finally, and related to the last blurb, check out Tom Friedman’s article from earlier this week, “Who Will Succeed Al Gore?” (NYT, October 14, 2007). He notes: “So we still need a president who can unify the country around meaningful action on energy and climate. Most of the Democratic candidates mouth the right words, but I don’t sense much real passion. Most of the Republican candidates seem to be brain-dead on the energy/climate challenge,” making this crucial point: “They can’t see what is staring us in the face — that in pushing American companies to become greener, we are pushing them to become more productive, more innovative, more efficient and more competitive.”

snow shoveled on top of snow —
she breathes slowly
on her fingers

early in the night —
the stars we can see
the space for more


…………………….. by Gary Hotham – from “Footprints & Fingerprints” (Lilliput Review, Modest Proposal Chapbooks, 1999)


first red leaves

i swing late

on a change-up

………………………………. ed markowski

October 14, 2007

painting & painting: Mount Hope Haiku

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 4:49 pm

. . . . . . Mount Hope Haiku (September 16, 2007)

…….. by Sarah B. Painting (9 years old)

…………………… by Tom Painting

…. from the chapbook Mount Hope Haiku: September 16, 2007
Sarah B. Painting, Editor/Illustrator/Publisher, Rochester NY, September 2007,
to commemorate the RAHG/HSA Meeting & Ginko [haiku walk], Mount Hope Cemetery,
Rochester, NY, September 16, 2007

……………. by dagosan – from Mount Hope Haiku

autumn light
I lower the window
cover my child’s feet


paint by number
the child’s river
escapes its bank

………………………. by Tom Painting .. “autumn light” – piano practice
“paint by numbers” – bottle rockets #10; red moon anthology 2004


p.s. Update (oct. 15, 2007) Looking for Law-relating posting? See Blawg Review #130. This week, the compilation of notable recent material from across the blawgisphere is coming simultaneously from two mediation-oriented weblogs and continents — Geoff Sharp has the Southern Hemisphere edition from New Zealand at his mediator blah blah site, and Diane Levin has the up-over edition, from Boston, at Online Guide to Mediation. Diane and Geoff remind us that this Thursday, Oct. 18, is Conflict Resolution Day. Each semi-Blawg-Review would have been a fine compilation on its own, and each has both a focus on mediation-related posting and a overview of the rest of the blawging universe.

f/k/a recently asked “what makes you blush?“, and I can reveal this morning that seeing Diane Levin’s overly-generous tribute to this weblog, at the end of her Blawg Review #130, certainly put a bit of rosy blush on my cheeks, and left me wondering how I’ll be able live up to her compliments . I’ll be attending to that task, and perhaps do a little issue-reframing, after crawling back on my futon for the first nap of this nippy Monday morning. If you came here looking for the “conscience of the blogosphere”, check out my latest cautionary advice over climbing on the anything-but-the-billable-hour bandwagon. If you’re looking for “thoughtful” commentary, you’re on your own, but welcome to browse to your heart’s (and brain’s) content. Many thanks, Diane, for your “neutral” vote of confidence.

October 13, 2007

internment camp haikuist remembered

Filed under: haijin-haikai news,Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 10:03 pm



Mayskyhaikug [Image: cover of May Sky:]

October sky —
the ginko crowd
complains about the rain

……………… by david giacalone (In mem. Violet Kazue de Cristoforo, d.o.d Oct. 5, 2007)

Violet de Cristoforo is best known for writing and collecting “kaiko” [modern, free-verse] haiku about life in the Japanese-American internment camps of World War II. Her life’s work culminated in the publication of the 287-page volume May Sky: There Is Always Tomorrow; An Anthology of Japanese American Concentration Camp Kaiko Haiku (Sun & Moon Classics, 1997). In 1987, she published a 35-page book of her own haiku, “Poetic reflections of the Tule Lake Internment Camp, 1944,”

Shortly before she died this month, at 90 years of age, Ms. de Cristoforo was honored as a 2007 National Endowment for the Arts, Heritage Fellow.

An L.A. Times article earlier this month, celebrating her life, contained three internment camp poems by Violet de Cristoforo:

Myriad insects
in the evening
my children are growing

Misty moon
as it was
on my wedding night

Foolishly — simply existing
summer days
Castle Rock is there

Violet de Cristoforo was featured this morning in a Remembrance on Weekend Edition Saturday, at National Public Radio (October 13, 2007). You can read much more about her in the L. A. Times book-section obituary, “Violet de Cristoforo, 90; California haiku poet survived WWII internment camps” and the IHT/Associated Press story, “Violet de Cristoforo, known for haikus on Japanese-American internment camps in US, dies” (October 5, 2007). Last year, the California Writer weblog had a lengthy post on her work.

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