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

November 30, 2007

“best of” lists: the unbearable truth bared

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,viewpoint — David Giacalone @ 2:03 pm

In the wake of the controversy (see, e.g., Kevin O’Keefe, Eric Turkewitz, David Gottlieb, and Carolyn Elefant) created by the recently-announced “ABA Journal Blawg 100” list of the “best web sites by lawyers, for lawyers” (featured in our prior post), and just in case you’re too dull-witted or naive to have figured it out, I thought I’d provide a quick list of things to keep in mind when you encounter a best-of list created by a newspaper, magazine, or other publication, or any website, or produced by either a for-profit or nonprofit organization or interest group:

  • virtually no one puts together a “best of” list merely because a bunch of people really deserve to have their efforts or abilities honored
  • the List-Maker [“Lister”] has an ulterior motive for the compilation, usually to garner attention for itself or him/herself, in order to create more of whatever it needs to achieve corporate or personal goals (such as, making income, swaying opinion, raising money, getting dates, etc.)

losing the contest
I discover
the lord’s mum won

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

  • therefore, a publication or website is surely trying, with its Best Of List, to get more readers, by attracting individuals especially interested in the topic covered by the list, getting coverage in other media, getting lots of word-of-mouth referrals (and, eventually, getting more advertisers, and hopefully an audience for the next edition of its List)
  • human nature being what it is, the Lister especially expects the Honorees on the Best of List to tell as many people as possible about the great Honor and to refer/point others to the source of the List
  • because the staff compiling a list, especially if merely human, has only limited knowledge about the universe of actors, and because the Lister has its own ulterior motives and related perspective, it is very likely that the list will be both under-inclusive and over-inclusive if your actual standard is excellence and worthiness
  • it is even more certain that those not selected (and their kith and kin, or friends and fans) will be miffed, irked, insulted about failing to make the list and that those who complain the most in public have their own motives for doing so
  • people with “niche” or specialized interests, or who dwell in tiny demographic categories or market segments, often feel left out of global, generalist Best of Lists — as Honorees, fans, and consumers (and they need to get over it)

the best New Year’s
her pink cheeks

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

  • it’s always very difficult to decide how large to make a Best of List. [In “When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?,” George Carlin, remarks on the strange popularity of the number ten, and winnows the Commandments down to just two (be honest, be loyal).] If the List is too small, the Lister doesn’t get enough built-in Honoree Goodwill, and runs the risk of insulting someone powerful and important within its sphere of interest.
  • If the List is too big, getting the honor is not as valuable, and — more important — the utility of the list plummets, as it’s no longer an easy tool for finding high-quality Listees and fails to eliminate the transaction costs of searching (which is an actual important side-effect of Best Of Lists).

In early October, when expected to come up with a Ten-Best-Blawg list of my own, your humble f/k/a editor lamented, opined and confessed:

Purporting to choose the “best blawgs” is especially difficult and misleading because (very much like choosing the “best” poem in a haiku contest), what you’re really doing is revealing your particular preferences and predilections (”favorites and friends”?) and — unless you happen to be Ed at Blawg Reivew or Bob Ambrogi, who regularly peruse hundreds of weblogs — demonstrating the very limited scope of your normal blawg-surfing habits.

Given the above “truths” about Best of Lists, it should surprise no one that the ABA Journal:

  1. probably created its Blawg 100 list mostly to do what every publicly-issued, bottomline-oriented publication wants to do: get attention for itself and more readers (and, thus, eventually be able to charge more for online and in-print advertising)
  2. was successful in motivating Honorees to spread the word
  3. focused on weblogs that — as it explicitly touts — are “for lawyers” rather than for clients and other humanoids
  4. tended to include topics/segments within the profession that are of greatest interest to ABA leaders and potential advertisers (and even the poor staffers who got stuck with the thankless job), and exclude those — like family law and personal injury law — that for some reason are not of foremost interest to bar leaders and likely advertisers

Of course, there are many, many blawgs that did not make the ABA Journal Blawg 100 that are well-worth the attention of the general public, the legal profession, and especially the narrowly-focused seeker of legal information (which might be why the ABA Journal‘s Blawg Directory includes thousands of weblogs in about 80 categories). No Best of List is immaculately conceived and none will ever be miraculously perceived as perfectly executed nor universally acclaimed.

p.s. It goes without saying, here at the home of Prof. Yabut and skepticalEsq, that the entire notion of an online voting competition for “best” or “favorite” weblog in particular categories is statistically meaningless and, in general — to use a little legal jargon — silly as hell. If you’ve read this posting, you will be able to figure out a few of the reasons why the ABA Journal decided to hold the contest anyway.

the best chestnut!
the best!

spring rain–
better than the flowers of others
my little thicket

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

. afterthought (7 PM, est): Speaking of Blawg 100 Honorees and the related Popularity Contest: Have you noticed that almost all of the blawggers (but, thankfully, not Ernie nor “Ed“, or even our show-boating Prof. Yabut) have chosen to display a “badge” designed by the ABA Journal that says “Vote for this Blog“? (Indeed, some are using a really big version of that message.) You might be surprised to know, therefore, that we all had the option to post a badge saying “Vote for your favorites.” Now, I don’t want to be judgmental, ’cause I’ve long advocated allowing lawyers to be tacky despite the profession’s image problems. But, I wonder what the chosen badge says about the needs and creeds of the lawyer-weblogger.

better than me
at long distance!
the fart bug

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

afterthought/afterlife (Dec. 3, 2007): Speaking of lists and controversy, Blawg Review #137 is up at the oft-entertaining and insightful Infamy or Praise weblog.  Unfortunately, by completing his Dante-themed Blawg Review trilogy and thus focusing #137 on the Divine Comedy‘s third cantica, Paradiso, Colin Samuels (who led me into temptation regarding Purgatory a year ago) has again taxed my patience and consumed far too much of my blawg-surfing time this morning. (If you like that sort of artsy-pretentious thing, or are enjoying a Snow Day and have plenty of time to kill, I guess you’ll have a divine experience, but it has confirmed my beliefs both about the disutility of themed-blawg-reviews — they are often “annoying, strained and distracting” — and about the tediousness of spending eternity in Paradise.)

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

……………….. by barry george – from frogpond XXVIII: 1

The only redeeming element of Blawg Review #137 is that it comes in the form of written words (rather than a podcast), so that I easily could skip and skim the excess verbiage, such as Dante quotes and parody verse, and find the highlighted hyperlinks to deserving recent blawg postings (such RiskProf’s look at Risk and Race, questioning the application of Civil-Rights-Act disparate impact analysis in the context of credit scoring).

father’s eulogy…
it’s not the first commandment
i’ve shattered

. . . . . …………….. . . by ed markowski

Colin did note that f/k/a is one of only three weblogs to be featured in each of his Blawg Reviews. Thanks, CS, the check’s in the mail. On the other hand, his reference today to this very post about Best of Lists, states that “David Giacalone of the f/k/a blog was somewhat dubious about the value of the ABA’s list. He questions the magazine’s motives. . .” I don’t think I’ve questioned the value of Blawg100, nor denigrated the ABA Journal‘s motives. I’ve merely pointed out the probable motives, to help readers avoid the expectation of perfection and decide for themselves on its value. Like Anne Reed, quoted at Blawg Review #137, I think that “whatever the effort’s weaknesses, some good will come of it.”

Colin, you’ve done your penance (and hopefully learned your lesson), and I look forward to a more seemly, unthemed Blawg Review, the next time you host this carnival of legal weblogs.

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

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

November 29, 2007

short but tart

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 4:32 pm

Here are a handful of items that deserve more attention than I can give them this week. Feel free to contribute your own deep thoughts, skeptical reactions, or studied indifference. And, enjoy a few poems from the echoes 1 “New Resonance” reunion anthology from Red Moon Press.

Indian summer
a spent salmon
washes ashore

the picture on the wall
straightens itself

…………………………… w.f. owen – from echoes 1 (Red Moon Press, 2007)
“Indian summer” – HSA Henderson Haiku Contest 2004, 1st Place
“aftershock” – HSA Brady Senryu Contest 2003 1st Place

Now it can be revealed: Rich McNally, the self-proclaimed “lunch pail lawyer” and recently-elected District Attorney of Rensselaer County [NY], wrote last week in response to our piece asking “what’s a lunch-pail lawyer?.” Click on that link, where we just added an update in which Rich explains the origin of the sobriquet. After seeing our speculations, Rich revealed: “FYI: I have a Coleman mini cooler type lunch box.” [I’m sort of glad it wasn’t the inspirational insulated ABA’s Law Day Cooler Pack.] The smallest Coleman mini-cooler we could locate, with a bit of Googling, was the 5 Quart Blue Take 6™ Cooler. It “Holds 6 12-oz cans plus ice” and brings to mind the familiar ethnic joke about “an Irish 7 course meal.”

smelt run …
my father’s bucket
full of beer cans

Paul Quirk has supplied us with a great photo, featuring the Classic St. Patrick’s Day Feast.

become months
become years . . .
in moonlight
my beer stays cold

……………. by Andrew Riutta
“smelt run” – Haiku Harvest Vol. 5:1 (Fall/Winter 2005)
“days” – Simply Haiku tanka (Summer 2006)

On Nov. 21st, we wrote at some length about the Georgia Supreme Court decision striking down the state’s sex offender residency ban. Here in the New York Capital Region, the Albany Times Union ran a story yesterday titled “Local echo in overturning of Georgia law” (Nov. 28, 2007) . In it, veteran Law Beat reporter Carol Demare reported that “Similar local laws have popped up throughout the Capital Region. Albany attorney Terry Kindlon, who has has filed suit against three counties that passed similar legislation, said Monday he intends to step up efforts to get the residency restrictions ruled unconstitutional.” The article has some tasty quotes from well-respected criminal defense lawyer Kindlon, of Kindlon Shanks & Associates, who was one of my co-signers on a letter from the NYCLU threatening to sue Schenectady County over its SORR. The TU states:

Kindlon represents registered sex offenders in separate lawsuits in state Supreme Court in Albany, Rensselaer and Washington counties. His clients, who want to rent apartments in cities with public transit, contend they have trouble finding homes that do not violate the bans. Kindlon and an associate, Kathy Manley, are handling the cases pro bono.

He will ask acting state Supreme Court Justice Judith Hard, to whom the case was assigned, to declare the law to be unconstitutional.

“We can move for summary judgment because there is no dispute about the facts,” Kindlon said. “The only thing that needs to be resolved is the legal question” surrounding the constitutional issue.

Naturally, I’m hoping Kindlon and Manley will be successful. I wish, however, that the TU article had said a bit more about the relationship between the Georgia decision in Mann v. Dept. of Corrections and the laws passed in the counties of Upstate New York. The TU merely says:

Last week’s decision in Georgia doesn’t have a direct impact on the local laws, [Kindlon] said, other than that the unanimous opinion by the Georgia Supreme Court is “instructive.”

“That’s what lawyers and judges do, look to other states,” he said.

The problem is that the Georgia decision was based on the lack of a grandfather clause in the state statute — on the forced eviction of a homeowner from his residence and the violation of his property rights. Schenectady County’s original law did not grandfather-in existing residences, but that portion of the law has been rescinded. The current laws under attack in Kindlon’s three lawsuits do not, as far as I know, present that issue — they all apply to sex offenders moving into the exclusionary zones (around schools, playgrounds, day care centers) after the laws were passed. There are some other very good reasons for striking down the local SORRs, but the differences between them and the Georgia statute and decision should have been mentioned.

first day of spring
my bull’s eye dart
doesn’t stick

……………………………………. by Carolyn Hall – from echoes 1 (Red Moon Press, 2007) Winner, 2006 Snapshot Haiku Calendar Competition

femaleSym maleSym It has been two weeks since the National Association of Women Lawyers released the results of its survey on the newest report about the income gap between male and female lawyers at the 200 largest firms. The ABA Journal News had another article about the income gap today, “Women Lawyers at the Top Earn Significantly Less than Men,” Nov. 29, 2007), which quotes one female bar leader who finds the widening differences in mean income to be “unsettling,” and points to an article in The Legal Intelligencer. When the results of the report were first released, this weblog worried about the “perils of advocacy group statistics” and lamented the fact that the actual survey was not released, so that we might discover whether there could be non-discriminatory explanations for the income discrepancy between male and female equity partners (e.g., the males are on average older and hold larger equity shares than younger partners of either gender; or they simply “make more rain”). Carolyn Elefant raised some of the issues two weeks ago in her post at Legal BlogWatch.

she cleans the ring
around the tub

…………………………… w.f. owen – from echoes 1 (2007) – HSA Brady Senryu Contest 2002, 1st Place

I just went to the NAWL website, and again could only find their press release summarizing results, but not the survey. Frankly, on a topic this important, the failure to release the survey is quite irksome and troubling — and maybe telling. So is the silence among blawggers and the legal press regarding the lack of transparency about the income statistics and how they were formulated.

As I have said often, there is no room for gender bias in the legal profession. But differences — even on the macro level — do not by themselves prove undue discrimination. Sorry, but women who want equality don’t get to play victim and hide from scrutiny, when they hand out worrisome conclusions that suggest gender bias, while providing insufficient data to allow those who truly care about gender discrimination to judge the meaning of the numbers. Is it impolite to ask? Unfair? Non-chivalrous?

computer weary Sadly, as happened yesterday, my computer is acting up, acting sluggish, and acting like it might crash any minute now. I therefore am going to quickly point to a number of recent posts by Scott H. Greenfield at Simple Justice, without doing them even Quickie Justice.

  • Scott makes a very important general point in “too much applause for aimless rambling.” The post deals with the performance of Gerry Spence in a criminal trial, but it makes a point I often want to press in many contexts (like at certain poetry sites) that “We want to be positive, praise success and support those with whom we share the bond of the ‘good fight.’ But we need to be cautious about applauding things that are undeserving to avoid sending the wrong message.”
  • Criminal defense lawyer Greenfield also notes: “Tasers don’t care if you’re Canadian.” I was pretty surprised to find out that Canada (with its 33 million residents) has been experiencing police-related taser deaths over the past five or six years that are just as bad per capita as in the USA. Scott is correct to ask: “If they use the words ‘extremely agitated, aggressive and combative,’ does it serve to eliminate the need for any factual explanation of what he did to deserve death?”

retreating glacier–
how long since we’ve heard
the black wolf’s song

winter wind–
a cradlesong sung
in an ancient tongue

……………. by billie wilson – from echoes 1 (Red Moon Press, 2007)
“retreating glacier–” – Modern Haiku 38:1
“winter wind–” – The Heron’s Nest VIII: 4, Readers’ Choice 2006, Award Grand Prize

  • In the “The Death of Writing” (Nov. 26, 2007), Scott points to a video posted at Concurring Opinions showing a law student symbolically shooting his legal research memo, and he aptly explains why “Writing is one of the most important things lawyers do. . . . If we can’t write, and write clearly and persuasively, we can’t do our job. I don’t mean we can’t do it well. I mean we can’t do it at all.”

I agree that there are is far too much bad legal writing, but I disagree with the part of a Comment by my friend Carolyn Elefant saying, “Legal writing takes time and lots of drafts and contemplation – and typically, large firm attorneys are the only ones who have this luxury.” Good legal writing does not have to take “lots of drafts.” If you need lots of drafts to produce good/competent legal writing, and are charging by the hour, you should be discounting those bills significantly.ed

  • Carolyn also start a conversation with Scott over mutual respect between BigLaw attorneys and Solos. She says that solos being respected is very important to the clients of solo practitioners. Scott backs and fills and continues this interesting discussion in this post from Nov. 28, 2007.

winter hills–
what the truck’s insurance
doesn’t cover

………………. by paul m. in Called Home and echoes 1

  • Treating a story that was covered in the Albany Times Union two days ago (“Town justice receives his fourth reprimand: Columbia County judge censured once again, but keeps his position,” Nov. 27, 2007), Scott Greenfield also wonders why infamous legal mischief-maker, Raoul Felder is so empathetic and “feels for challenged judge” (Nov. 28, 2007). Felder’s dissent on the Judicial Conduct Commission seems to suggest that this multiple-offender (non-lawyer) local judge should have been given a pass, because he has suffered enough due to quadriplegia. I agree that Valatie Village and Kinderhook Town Justice Edward J. Williams’ wheelchair did not make him do it.

p.s. Finally, for a strange story about Dangerous Art, see Declarations & Exclusions, “crack of doom,” by the artsy Pasadena insurance lawyer George M. Wallace, the enormous exhibition of Colombian artist Doris Salcedo’s Shibboleth, at Turbine Hall of London’s Tate Modern museum.

migrating whales
all our footprints
wash away

……………….. paul m. The Heron’s Nest IV:11 and echoes 1

November 28, 2007

the ABA Journal Blawg 100

Filed under: lawyer news or ethics — David Giacalone @ 2:22 pm

The December 2007 edition of the ABA Journal has arrived online, and is surely getting a lot of attention today across the blawgiverse, with the cover feature, titled “The ABA Journal Blawg 100.” The f/k/a Gang is even skipping its afternoon nap, to tell you how pleased we are to be among the inaugural Blawg 100, chosen as one of the “best web sites by lawyers, for lawyers.” You’ll find the entire list of the 100 honored blawgs here. And, you are invited to vote for your favorite law-related weblog, in a dozen categories:

Go here to vote in one of 12 categories: Generally Speaking, Ivory Tower, Your So-Called Life, Lawyers Behaving Badly, All Business, Black Letter Law, Crime Time, Gossip, Politics for Sport, Lawyer’s Toolkit, JDs in Training, and Benched. You can also “see how ABAJournal.com readers rank the blawgs in each category. Voting ends Jan. 2. You may vote for as many blawgs as you wish, but you can vote for any particular blawg only once.”

ABA Journal staffers Molly McDonough and Sarah Randag explain that “When we set out to name the ABA Journal’s inaugural Blawg 100, we knew we were up for a challenge. There are between 2,000 and 3,000 legal blogs—what we call blawgs. How many of those are worth a click? Turns out, quite a few.” And they are clearly correct that:

“The trick is fitting them neatly into a category. By their very nature, bloggers defy categorization. What in one week is a blog devoted to the black-letter practice of law is the next week a heartwarming chronicle of a baby’s first steps or a devastating battle with cancer.”

We held our breaths to see which category this split-personality scatter-shot easily-distracted multi-faceted website would be competing in, and were please to be among five weblawgs in the ethics category, which the ABA Journalistas have dubbed Lawyers Behaving Badly. [f/k/a was the very first ethics-related blawg and, as our URL suggests, was once known as known as ethicalEsq] Click this link to vote for your favorite legal ethics weblog.

As part of its weblog focus, the new ABA Journal includes the article “ForeBlawggers,” which has profiles of “Seven lawyers who started the blawg revolution.” They are Denise Howell (of Bag and Baggage which celebrates its 6th anniversary today, Nov. 28, and more), Thomas C. Goldstein (of SCOTUSblog), David Lat (formerly of Beneath Their Robes, and now gossiping at Above the Law), Prof. Eugene Volokh (of The Volokh Conspiracy), Judge Richard A. Posner (of The Becker-Posner Blog), Howard Bashman (of How Appealing), and Glenn Greewald (of Salon’s Unclaimed Territory)

Thanks to ABA Journal for this honor and attention. Thanks to all those lawyers who give me something to complain about (although a little less aggravation, and more edification, would be nice). And, thanks to all our readers for making the making of f/k/a worth the effort.

proud host
his orchard bursting
with fireflies

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

November 27, 2007

Susskind’s “End of Lawyers?” series ends with a warning

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,lawyer news or ethics — David Giacalone @ 11:19 pm

As we told you at the end of October, Times Online has been presenting six weekly excerpts from “The End of Lawyers? Rethinking the nature of legal services,” by Richard Susskind, OBE (Oxford University Press, due May 2008). Susskind believes that Commoditisation and IT will shape and characterise 21st century legal service.” Last month, while asking at length whether the Bar’s reaction to those forces would be the “cartel’s last stand,” we summed up:

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.”

The End of Lawyers?” by Richard Susskind

Last week, in an installment titled “No one has a vision for the next generation of lawyers” (Nov. 19, 2007), Susskind lamented the short time-horizons of law firm managers, who never seem to look beyond the next five years. He states:

“In short, no one who might be thought to be in the driving seat of the legal system is thinking systematically, rigorously and in a sustained way about the long term future of legal service. No-one seems to be worrying about the fate of the next generation of lawyers.

“All that can be discerned in relation to the long term is a common assumption — whether on the part of scholars, professional bodies, government agencies or leading law firms — that legal service of tomorrow will be quite similar to that of today; perhaps more efficient and more business-like but not fundamentally different in nature.”

Yesterday, in the sixth and final excerpt, Susskind warns that “Only a foolhardy lawyer will fail to embrace change” (November 26, 2007). Even if you’ve missed the earlier installments (which are linked at the foot of this post), I urge lawyers, their regulators and educators, as well as their clients, to read this last installment.

In this last excerpt, Susskind tells how the title The End of Lawyers? came to him, while he was musing on the fate of mercers and other guilds over the centuries — ancient trades and craftsmen now scarcely remembered.

“It occurred to me that the fundamental demand for the products of these trades —cloths, candles, wheels — had not diminished; indeed it had often increased. But new technologies, methods of production and innovations had served to displace most of the associated craftsmen.

“I reflected upon the legal world and the possible impact of information technology. And I wondered then — and this first thought inspired the title of the book — whether lawyers might fade from society as other craftsmen have done over the centuries.”

He continues: “Perhaps 100 years from now, maybe more or maybe much less, people might sit in fine comfort in some vestige of today’s legal world (perhaps an ancient courtroom refurbished as a restaurant . . .) and . . . speculate in a leisurely manner about solicitors and barristers and advocates and attorneys.”

noloShark Who exactly were these people, these lawyers? What was their craft? They were involved with the law, of course, but what did they actually do? Why did we need them? How did they contribute? And why do we not have them any more? What brought about the end of lawyers?

Susskind goes on to answer his critics, who smugly assert that “computers cannot replace legal work.” He explains that, in pointing to Information Technology, he is concerned with “the extent to which some, much or all of what lawyers do can be undertaken more quickly, more conveniently and less expensively, and in a less forbidding way, by systems than by conventional work.”

Therefore, the question Richard Susskind prefers to ask is: “from the clients’ point of view, what tasks of lawyers will be better undertaken in the future by systems?”

Susskind then gives this frank warning: “It is a foolhardy lawyer indeed who unreflectively and dogmatically replies to this question by asserting ‘none whatsoever’. Open-minded lawyers, and those who genuinely care about the interests of their clients should, in the internet age, continually be looking at ways in which IT can play a more prominent role in their services.” (emphasis added) He explains that “disruptive legal technologies” threaten the work of today’s lawyers and law firms, in whole or in part.

Finally, Susskind notes: “Politely, it puzzles me profoundly that lawyers who know little about current and future technologies can be so confident about their inapplicability.” He wrote The End of Lawyers? to provide our profession with the insight needed to competently and diligently answer those important questions.

Two Cents from the f/k/a Gang: Because the Bar’s response is so important for the clients it exists to serve, and for society’s goal of full access to legal services and civil justice, I hope lawyers who feel that igorance is bliss will smarten up, and listen to Richard Susskind’s message. Moreover, I hope those who arrogantly believe they can use guild/cartel tactics to protect their own status and financial interests, by preventing the improvements that can come from IT and commoditization in client service and value — or by somehow keeping the monetary gains for themselves — will remember our oath to put client’s interests first.

If those principles won’t suffice, the public (and our political leaders and consumer advocates) must help the legal profession to recall the fate of the ancient guilds that tried to stop the forces of technology and the desires of the well-informed consumer, and help push the Bar to the right side of history.

Here are links to the six-part series from Times Online on Richard Susskind’s upcoming book, The End of Lawyers?:

The f/k/a Gang won’t bet on whether the End of Lawyers is near, but we confidently predict that there will always by a demand for haiku from lawyer poets such as Barry George and Roberta Beary. Here are poems from Barry and Roberta from the new anthology echoes 1 (Compiled by Jim Kacian and Alice Frampton, Red Moon Press, 2007):

first trick of treat . . .
the toddler reaches for
her mother’s face

frigid night–
a drip in the sink
fills the whole house

snow buntings–
his new bride
waits in the car

…………………….. by Barry George, from echoes 1 (Red Moon Press, 2007)
“first trick of treat” – Hon. Men, Betty Drevniok Award 2005
“fridgid night” – HM, Kaji Aso International Haiku Contest 2005
“snow buntings” – HM, Gerald Brady Contest 2001

autumn rain
mother turns her face
to the wall

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

………. by Roberta Beary – from echoes 1 (Red Moon Press, 2007)
“autumn rain” – Haiku Ireland Kukai 2007, 1st Place
“halloween twilight” – 1st Prize, Tokutomi Memorial Haiku Contest 2006

Bonus: Here’s Roberta’s honored poem from the Basho Poetry Offerings 2007 — the Haiku Competition held by Basho Memorial Museum, during the Basho Festival in October 12, 2007 in Iga city, Mie prefecture, Japan.

Selected Haiku

winter darkness
one by one
streetlights awaken


Roberta Beary、 USA

November 26, 2007

cyber monday at f/k/a

Filed under: Book Reviews,Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 11:23 am

shoppingCart Because time is the only thing you can spend here at f/k/a (along, perhaps, with your patience), we can’t offer you any Cyber Monday Specials this morning. You can browse the pixelated aisles of our Main Page for free any day to stumble serendipitously across haiku and senryu from some of the finest haijin around (and by the Editor’s nepotistic alter ego dagosan), along with the priceless punditry of Prof. Yabut, ethicalEsq and the rest of the f/k/a Gang.

And, you can always head to our Guest Poet Archives Index to find the home page of a particular poet: from roberta beary to billie wilson and everyone in between (randy brooks; yu chang; tom clausen; devar dahl; devar dahl; alice frampton; laryalee fraser; barry george; lee gurga; carolyn hall; gary hotham; kobayashi issa; jim kacian; david g. lanoue; rebecca lilly; peggy willis lyles; paul m; ed markowski; matt morden; pamela miller ness; w.f. owen; tom painting; andrew riutta; john stevenson; george swede; hilary tann; michael dylan welch).

Nonetheless, if you’re itching to spend some money on Cyber Monday, I thought I’d remind you about a few books we’ve highlighted this year at this weblog. Each contains haiku or senryu written by one or more of our f/k/a family of Honored Guest poets, and each is a bargain at its everyday price. [In the next couple of days, I hope to spotlight echoes 1, the new anthology from Red Moon Press, which updates the haiku careers of the poets featured in Red Moon’s always-giftable “New Resonance” series of “emerging” English-language haiku poets — many of whom are now part of the f/k/a family.]

BaseballHaikuCover We’ve told you often about the 200-page Baseball Haiku (Cor van den Heuvel and Nanae Tamura, eds., W.W. Norton Press, April 2007), with sampled poems by our Honored Guests, such as here, there, here, can there. One reviewer correctly noted that this book might make baseball fans out of haiku lovers and haiku lovers out of baseball fans. You do not have to be a weblog-diva Yankee partisan, nor a Bay State blogging BoSox booster, to ask Santa to bring you this book. Don’t just take my biased opinion (as a two-poem contributor to the book and friend of many of its writers); see the review of Baseball Haiku by npr’s Scott Simon in the Summer 2007 edition of Modern Haiku.

empty baseball field
a dandelion seed floats through
the strike zone

village ball game
through knotholes in the old fence
evening sunbeams

…………………… by George SwedeBaseball Haiku (2007)
“empty baseball field” – orig. pub. Almost Unseen (2000)
“village ball game” – orig. pub. As Far As the Sea Can Eye (1979)

p.s. Additional proof that this book belongs in your collection: It will be featured, on June 26, 2008, at the Chautauqua Institute [NY], during its Sport in America week (2008 program page). Cor will lead a discussion and readings from the book, joined by two other major contributors, Alan Pizzarelli and our Ed Markowski.

In October, we got all dreamy-eyed telling you about The Unworn Necklace: Haiku and Senryu, by Roberta Beary (Snapshot Press 2007). It’s Roberta’s first individual collection and is a classic for the ages. Indeed, your favorite divorce lawyer, blawger, or mediator, or recently-divorced friend, won’t have to be a haiku lover to love this book — for its truths and its hope.

autumn breeze
the new smell
of my red jacket

laundry day
rain becoming snow
becoming rain

custody weekend sunglassesG
inside her backpack

it’s over
slicing his shirt
for the ragbag

…………… Roberta Beary, The Unworn Necklace (2007)

See our post reproducing Pamela Miller Ness‘s chapbook “The Hands of Women,” which celebrates the “needlewomen” in Pamela’s life with a remarkable sequence of 6 haiku and 4 tanka. At the foot of the post, you will find details for ordering the lovely little book directly from Pamela; it’s the perfect $5 stocking-stuffer for someone who knits or crochets in your family. Here are the opening and closing poems:

first day of the year
I take up my needles
and knit a row

Binding off
the baby blanket
I wind
and store the unused yarn.
Last day of the year.

Just last week, we wrote at length praising Stumbles in Clover by Matt Morden (Snapshot Press 2007). If you, or a weblogger you know (like the Host of this week’s treat-filled Blawg Review #136), likes the “u’s” left in your haiku (or knows what a “cockle truck” is), this volume out of the UK might be just the thing:

afternoon thaw
a car parked across
two lined spaces

bend in the road
what little colour’s left
in the floral tribute

…………………. Matt Morden, Stumbles in Clover (Snapshot Press, 2007)

If your giftee would prefer to eschew the soft, artsy haiku realm, don’t forget our review of The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet (Yale Univ. Press, October 2007; download Chapter 1 here for free).

googling the poet
she finds an advocate and
a sex offender

……………………………………………. by dagosan

afterthought (Nov. 28, 2007): Many thanks to Anne Reed at Deliberations, for pointing to this post, and then compiling her own “Gift Ideas for Jury Fans” (Nov. 27, 2007). Anne notes “None of these books is about the courtroom, or even about the law. There are lots of books about juries and trial work, and many are tremendous, but they’re not where my focus has been lately. Instead, writing about juries has drawn me to authors who challenge my thinking about how other people react, respond, decide, and simply are.”

In case Anne’s family and friends miss her hint, wishing for a haiku book for Christmas, I hope she does a little self-help and prints out one of dagosan’s tri-fold haiku/senryu brochures.

As noted above, we plan to do a positive mini-review of echoes 1, soon. It contains this poem, which belongs in one of our posts on sex offender hysteria:

summer’s end
i stop myself talking
to a stranger’s child

………………………… by matt morden, orig. pub Presence 19

November 24, 2007

a little holiday argument over guns

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 5:07 pm

ooh In case you’ve already learned all you need to know about your rights as shoppers, and come to a consensus on the traditional Black Friday over-commercialization of the holidays issue, and the St. Nick vs. Santa debate, here’s a quickie post for readers who have run out of things to argue over pontificate about debate amiably discuss with gathered families and friends this Thanksgiving Weekend. As you surely heard, the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to rule on the constitutionality of the District of Columbia’s ban on handguns, in the case of DC v. Heller. In Heller, the question will be:

“Whether the following provisions — D.C. Code secs. 7-2502.02(a)(4), 22-4504(a), and 7-2507.02 — violate the Second Amendment rights of individuals who are not affiliated with any state-regulated militia, but who wish to keep handguns and other firearms for private use in their homes?”

The New York Times noted in an editorial that the Court “has inserted itself into a roiling public controversy with large ramifications for public safety. The court’s move sowed hope and fear among supporters of reasonable gun control.” But,

“The hope, which we share, is that the court will rise above the hard-right ideology of some justices to render a decision respectful of the Constitution’s text and the violent consequences of denying government broad room to regulate guns. The fear is that it will not.”

The federal government has long opined that the right to bear arms was related to forming state militias and not a personal right, but the current Administration has signaled the Court that it supports a personal right, which could greatly limit the ability of states to regulate guns. Surely, there is something virtually everyone around your holiday table (or in the over-crowded Family Room) can differ about when it comes to gun control and the Second Amendment. To easily find lots of informative materials from the blawgiverse, we suggest two sources:

  • pilgrim hat The SCOTUS Blog Wiki on DC v. Heller, compiled largely by Lyle Denniston, where you’ll find analysis and links to important documents. Lyle reminds us: “Nearly seven decades ago, the Supreme Court analyzed the meaning of these words: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Those are the words of the Second Amendment, written into the Constitution on Dec.15, 1791. The Court has not examined the meaning of those words since the ruling in U.S. v. Miller, on May 15, 1939. The debate over what the Court meant — and over what those words mean — has continued with growing intensity. Until now, the Court had refused repeatedly to resolve the constitutional debate. The case of District of Columbia v. Heller (07-290) is a pure, and outwardly simple, test of the Second Amendment — although there are complications that might limit the scope of any final decision.” And, The SCOTUS Blog DC Guns Blog Round-up and Commentary
  • The Volokh Conspiracy ‘s multi-layered commentary on DC v. Heller, which can be found collected on one page. For those who are really serious about studying before debating, UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh has even given us the link to his formidable list of “Sources on the Second Amendment and the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.” Those who don’t need footnotes to bolster an argument can find lots more at the VC site: For example: Eugene Volokh reminds us what a great teaching tool the Second Amendment has been in law schools, since it has gone relatively untouched by the Supreme Courts until now, and Jonathan Adler brought together links on what the presidential candidates have said about the Second Amendment.

turkeySil For a gun control twist, see Ambrogi’s “The Right to Arm Turkeys,” at LegalBlogWatch. Or, for a completely different way to antagonize a relative or two, see Paul Gowder on Why You Shouldn’t Go to Law School, and responses by Kerr and by Froomkin.

I’ve got some relatives to visit across town (favorites ones, this time), and shall leave you with a bit of one-breath poetry for those who like guns and/or butter. [Please excuse any formatting problems; I’m working on the quick at Mama G’s computer, without many of my usual techno-shortcuts and crutches.]

pawn pawn horiz

high noon
the boys refill
their water pistols

…. by Tom Painting – July Selection, Snapshot Press, 2005 Haiku Calendar

midday heat

the staccato staccato

of a nail gun

against the rumbling
of the thunderhead:
his toy gun

pawn horiz ……………. Lee Gurga from Fresh Scent: Selected Haiku of Lee Gurga

midday heat“- tug of the current: rma 2004; Modern Haiku XXXV:1

delta autumn
the storyteller cradles
his gun

………………………… Peggy Lyles from To Hear the Rain (2002)

first autumn wind
not feeling the knife
slice my finger

. …. Jim Kacian – Modern Haiku (Summer 1996); lz Kamna pawn

door left open

there he goes

with his knife

pawn horiz

show me yours.

you first.

barn roof creaks

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

with a kitchen knife
choosing eels…
a cool evening

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

homemade bread

a pound of butter

softens by the stove

the narrow place pawn

between my neck and my collar

November wind

………………………. DeVar Dahl from A Piece of Egg Shell, (Magpie Haiku Poets, Calgary, 2004)

“homemade bread” – WHC World Haiku Review 3-2

april snow
a pat of butter
melts in the pan

…………….. matt morden – “april snow” – Mayfly #27

still learning
to chew slowly:
peanut butter on toast

drawn butter

and chardonnay —

he sets the trap

morning shadows – pawn horiz

the gunslingers wait

for high noon

………………………………….. by dagosan

……. “drawn butter” original haiga – at Haiga Online Spring 2007; and b&w: MPJF June 23, 2007

………. “morning shadows” – see the original haiga at haiga Online Autumn 2006 ]

November 23, 2007

pity the baby-boomer raconteur

Filed under: Haiga or Haibun,Haiku or Senryu,viewpoint — David Giacalone @ 11:41 am

questionDude He’s always styled himself the family’s raconteur. Around the holiday table, where food, weather and health reports tend to be the primary topics of the elder generation, he would spice the conversation with odd tales from the internet, barbs for politicians and celebrities in the news, and opinions on new movies and recently-read books.

the pretty one?
not even
on the tip of my tongue

……………………… by dagosan

This year, though, he’s driving to Thanksgiving Dinner with a suitcase overstuffed with self-doubt. After years of joking about his “peri-dementia,” the joke is getting stale and the reality far from funny.  That damn tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon seems to happen all day, every day. And, frankly, the lost name or word sometimes is nowhere near the tip of his tongue.

erasingF “All the wrong synapses seem to be broken,” he said a few weeks ago, after flawlessly singing all the words to “Off My Cloud” and “Angie” on a Halloween party dance floor, but forgetting the name of the lovely, recently-divorced judge who convincingly exchanged her black robe for a cheerleader costume that night.

Heading down the Thruway, he can’t seem to recall the title (nor the plot) of either of those films he watched on dvd and really enjoyed earlier this week — much less the names of their Generation X leading men.  And, he can only picture the face of that annoying Senator from, um, that Rocky Mountain Red State, who wants to round up all the aliens at the meat-packing plants in one of those primary states.  He wonders if he’ll get a chance to see that new movie while home; the one based on the novel he praised so much a year or two ago, by — you know — that guy who wrote that trilogy and won the Pulitzer (or was it a Nobel)?

Uncle Vito’s scratchy voice returns from four decades ago, saying the pudgy 10-year-old “tells jokes like a girl” — restarting twice and forgetting the punchline. He wonders whether Vito’s widow will be bringing her infamous jello salad concoction, and if her hip operation was a success.

the octagenarian
fills in my blank ………….

………………………………. by dagosan, a/k/a david giacalone

The Joy of a Peanuts Christmas” by Charles Schulz (Hallmark Books, 2000; cartoon originally published, Nov. 21, 1990)

mountain village–
the old man doesn’t know
the dance

what did you forget?
retracing steps

……… by Kobayashi Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue don't forget

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

………………… by John Stevenson from Quiet Enough

the senior partner
has a senior minute

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . by dagosan

November 21, 2007

Georgia’s sex offender residency ban struck down: no grandfather clause

Filed under: lawyer news or ethics — David Giacalone @ 4:25 pm

update (Dec. 13, 2007): The Georgia Supreme Court today changed a few words in its Mann opinion, which struck down the state’s residency restrictions as applied to a homeowner who would have been forced to move.

Georgia Supreme Court Press Release


Atlanta, December 13, 2007 — The Georgia Supreme Court today made a slight change to its recent ruling in Mann v. Georgia Department of Corrections et al. (S07A1043). In its order of November 21, the Court wrote, “We therefore find that OCGA § 42-1-15 (a) is unconstitutional because it permits the regulatory taking of appellant’s property without just and adequate compensation.” In today’s order, the Court substituted the word, “because” with the phrase, “to the extent that.” The rest of the 16-page order remains unchanged.

According to an article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, “AG: Sex offender law only applies to homeowners” (Dec. 13, 2007), the State Attorney General had asked for the clarification and claims that the change means the opinion protects homeowners from having to move, but not renters or other nonowners. “Sarah Geraghty, a lawyer for the Southern Center for Human Rights, disagreed with the attorney general’s office’s interpretation of the decision. ‘Courts in Georgia have repeatedly held that people who rent their homes have a property interest protected by the Fifth Amendment,’ Geraghty said in a statement”

noYabutsSN From the very first of our two dozen postings since last June on sex offender residency restrictions, we’ve been arguing here at f/k/a that — at the very least — it is unconstitutional to ban sex offenders from living near schools, day care centers, playgrounds, etc., without including a grandfather clause that would prevent their eviction from current homes that are too close to current or future locations of child-centered activities. This morning, the Georgia Supreme Court agreed, in Mann v. Dept. of Corrections (SO7A1043, decided Nov. 21, 2007, 17-pp pdf; via How Appealing and The Parson)

According to the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the highest Court in Georgia “tossed out the state’s restrictions on where sex offenders can live if they own the property, saying it is unconstitutional to force them to move if a child care facility, school, church or other place that attracts children locates within 1,000 feet of their homes after they have moved there.” “Ga. court overturns restrictions on where sex offenders live” (Nov. 21, 2007)

Similarly, the Associated Press reports, in “Ga. Court Overturns Sex Offender Law” (AP, Nov. 21, 2007):

“It is apparent that there is no place in Georgia where a registered sex offender can live without being continually at risk of being ejected,” read the unanimous opinion, written by presiding Justice Carol Hunstein.

. The Georgia Supreme Court ruling said even sex offenders who comply with the law “face the possibility of being repeatedly uprooted and forced to abandon homes.” It noted that the offender would be in violation of the law whenever someone opts to open a school, church or other facility serving children near the offender’s home.

At his Sex Crimes weblog, Prof. Corey Yung excerpted this important section of the decision, and provides important commentary on the limited scope of the case:

“Unlike the situation in the typical regulatory takings case, the effect of OCGA § 42-1-15 is to mandate appellant’s immediate physical removal from his Hibiscus Court residence. It is “functionally equivalent to the classic taking in which government directly . . . ousts the owner from his domain.” Lingle, supra, 544 U.S. at 539. As long as the day care center remains in its current location, appellant cannot reside in his home until he is released from the registration requirement by a superior court, OCGA § 42-1-12 (g), which cannot occur until a minimum period of ten years has passed after his release from probation.”

“It’s important to note [says Prof. Yung] that this decision was entirely premised on a takings challenge because the Georgia statute as applied didn’t “grandfather” existing residences. As the opinion itself makes clear, most other states have not followed the Georgia approach. So, in itself, this decision doesn’t call into question most residency restrictions across the nation. Still, it’s a big victory for the Southern Center for Human Rights and for those who question the efficacy of residency restrictions in general.”

It was the fact that Schenectady’s original SORR had no such grandfather clause that got me interested in this topic last June. See, e.g., our post NYCLU Letter threatens lawsuit over Schenectady County sex offender law (Aug. 7, 2007). A long-time lawyer for neglected and abused children, I had never before advocated on behalf of sex offenders, but the blatant unfairness of these laws piqued my conscience, and their likely ineffective and counter-productive results stirred my logical mind.

The Georgia Mann decision is one more thing to be thankful for this holiday season. The “property right” to remain in one’s chosen home should be an important bar to retroactive application of residency bans that would evict people from their homes based on their sex offender status. Courts and legislators in New York State have recognized an “individual’s interest in not being displaced involuntarily” from a residence, when the exercise of police power makes his or her use of the property unlawful. See Village of Valatie v. Smith, 36 NY2d 102 (1975). I believe that these right should apply to tenants to the same extent as to homeowners.

p.s. A Googling visitor came to this website two days ago inadvertently, but I hope he or she had an open mind and learned something about sex offender restrictions. The query was /articles that proove that sex offenders should be named and shamed/. And, thank you Mr. Google, the #1 result was our Schenectady’s PanderPols vote to evict sex offenders.”

Stumbles in Clover by Matt Morden: more is more

Filed under: Book Reviews,haijin-haikai news,Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 2:38 pm

Stumbles in Clover by Matt Morden (Snapshot Press 2007)

a bumblebee
stumbles in clover

If you’re one of the many, mildly-manic fans of Matt Morden’s haiku and senryu, you surely have been wondering just when we’ll have a full volume of his one-breath poems to munch, mull over, or otherwise savor. Seeing Matt’s work in an occasional journal, or even at his personal weblog Morden Haiku, seems far too much like a tease, an appetizer setting the taste buds for the filling, main course stew.

If so, Stumbles in Clover (2007; order form), from UK haiku publisher Snapshot Press, is not merely a most-satisfying meal — it is a haiku lover’s Holiday Feast, combining an abundance of tastes and textures, traditional and modern, to please a multi-generational family of both fussy and hearty eaters. Moreover, unlike the proverbial cake, you can have it, and eat, and have it again.

washing away
the thunderstorm

autumn rain
the ice cream van chimes
out of tune

shortest day
all of the yellow
beaten out of eggs

I’m still not used to reviewing haiku books, and am as reluctant as ever to try to summarize or encapsulate any book with a string of literary, artsy-sounding adjectives and motifs. So, I’m going to let Matt’s poems and a few of his friends do the talking, except for this simple summation:

By bringing 72 of his poems together as Exhibit One, Stumbles in Clover provides more than ample evidence that Matt Morden is one of the finest haiku and senryu poets writing today — that he brings depth and staying-power to his art. Matt writes the kind of poems I wish would come readily and often off the tips of my own tongue and fingers. I don’t need an Exhibit Two to rule on this matter, but I’d love to pore over the evidence at length, as soon as his next collection is submitted for our consideration.

end of the holiday
a square of pale grass
beneath the tent

Those who hang around the Comment section of the group weblog MagnaPoets Japanese Form, know how much I hate to agree in public with the MagnaPoets proprietrix, my friend poet-artist Aurora Antonovic, who is also the haiga editor of the Simply Haiku Journal. Nonetheless, I must admit, the quote you will find by “Agitaora” on the back cover of Stumbles in Clover is spot on:

“The resonant haiku in Stumbles in Clover bear the hallmark of a honed writer. Precise, keen, and image- and nature-rich, these multilayered poems explore ordinary occurrences in an unordinary way. Classic topics such as life, death, relationships, and change are treated with Morden’s fresh touch, ensuring each poem is relevant, open-ended, and highly authenic.”
……………………………………………. Aurora Antonovic

snowed in
ice takes
the shape of wire

Matt’s fellow Welshman, poet and journalist Nigel Jenkins, also adds his praise for Stumbles in Clover, with which I concur:

“These seventy-two haiku — with not a makeweight among them — are instinct with the ‘loneliness, tenderness and slenderness’ that Tony Conran has characterised as the essence of haiku. They are as spare and translucent as it’s possible to be, yet they are deeply affecting (especially the family-based poems) and, particularly when in senryu mode, wryly humourous.”
……………………………….. Nigel Jenkins

march wind
mother and baby
share a shawl

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

summer’s end
my children try to teach me
how to smile

Likewise, poet-editor Ferris Gilli captures the spirit of this volume with a handful of words: “Matt Morden infuses his beautifully concise poems with appealing light, color, sound and texture, vividly presenting everyday events so that readers can discover unexpected drama in the substrata. Stumbles in Clover will keep fans coming back for more.”

higher and higher
on the trampoline
spring rain

I’ve got packing to do, before I head home for Thanksgiving. So, I’m going to end this little review of Stumbles in Clover. I hope someone treats you to a copy of Matt’s first collection during this holiday season (order; a steal at $14 American, so pamper yourself). Until you have one of your own, you’ll find many samples of his work by clicking the links on Matt’s f/k/a archive page and by heading over to Morden Haiku. No more stumble puns or clover cliches. Get this book, if you love really good haiku, and be thankful for more Morden haiku.

p.s. Thank you, Matt Morden, for this fine collection, and for leaving out the psyku and similar “tell-ems” that have been plaguing so many haiku publications in recent years.

Below the fold, you’ll find credits for the original publishers of the above poems.


November 20, 2007

who are you missing and thanking at Thanksgiving?

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 11:48 am

Thanksgiving Without You (larger, or in color)

bowed over
turkey and stuffing —
fewer, grayer heads

wintry mix –
a seatbelt protects each
thanksgiving pie

……………………………………. by dagosan

Tdayhatn As we’ve said before, the f/k/a Gang is thankful for every visitor, each Honored Guest Poet, and for all our weblawger and haijin cyber-friends. We will be missing them, along with many decades-worth of friends from college, law school, and career — and, of course, relatives living or gathering in distant spots across the nation. [Click here for dagosan‘s wry senryu look at Thanksgiving.]

men washing dishes –
an early alarm ends
her Thanksgiving dream

…………………………………………………………… dagosan

Please, as we face (and so many embrace) Black Friday and the commercialization of our holidays, don’t forget the millions of Americans who are not prospering financially this winter of 2007. Many thanks to all the community groups (like Equinox in Albany, NY), who help prepare and share so many holiday meals for the needy. But, let’s not forget that we as a nation have responsibilities every day to care and share for each other. In fact, Thanksgiving might be a great time to watch Michael Moore’s film Sicko, which is out in dvd, and to reflect on its message with those you love. Of course. courtesy and etiquette are mandatory, so don’t forget the important lesson of Uncle Frank (“Poor Table Manners Lead to Stabbings,” AP/ABC, Nov. 26, 2004).

laid off
she asks the mall santa to
bring dad a job

NoSanta See our “St Nicholas vs. Santa Claus” (which starts “If Saint Nicholas had had a good team of lawyers, his morphing into the Americanized-commercialized figure of Santa Clause might never have happened.) and “the so-called War on Christmas.” [The No Santa Symbol, is from St. Nicholas Defense Action Committees, Netherlands.]

laid off
she tells the mall santa
dad can make toys

…………………………….. ed markowski from his Mall Santa sequence

family album–
the black and white
of my youth

………………………………… Jim Kacian from pegging the wind & a second spring

p.s. If, like myself, you are one of the lucky Baby Boomers who will have a parent or two at your Thanksgiving table, you might want to check out the interesting new website, Caring.com, which has lots of useful information to help you care for your parents (with respect), including how to talk to them about tough topics. (via Idealawg)

pilgrim hat Pilgrim’s Hat Tip and thanks to Ed at Blawg Review (as well as Ray Ward and Anastasia), on behalf of writers of all kinds (from hi-tech, to High Court, to haijin), for pointing us to “150 Resources to Help You Write Better, Faster, and More Persuasively” at Online Education Database (July 30, 2007).

afterwords: Thanks to Stephanie at Idealawg, for pointing us to the amusing “Thanksgiving Guest Liability and Indemnification Agreement” prepared (and you can print it out for your guests to sign) by those jokesters at the The Center for Consumer Freedom, who say “Don’t Let Lawyers Sue The Stuffing Out Of You This Thanksgiving” (Nov. 16, 2007).

November 19, 2007

bonds/schmonds — baseball haiku to the rescue

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 11:20 am

umpireS If the indictment of Barry Bonds for perjury has given you a case of The Baseball Blues (because it tarnishes further our National Pastime, or reduces the value of your Bonds memorabilia), we will spare you further discussion of the tragedy here at f/k/a.

If, on the other hand, you really want to know what the blawgisphere is saying on this topic, you’ll find an issue and link summary at “Barry Bonds Indictment for Perjury” (LegalBlogWatch, Nov. 16, 2007). Will he use the “literal truth defense“? (and is this really “white collar crime?); how much time is Barry facing? Is he gonna get in the Hall of Fame? (And, for a cluster of news links on the indictment, see How Appealing)

Old Timers Game at bat neg
the glint of a mirror
in the centerfield bleachers

the smallest boy hits
the game winning homer

………………………. by ed markowski

The antidote to Barry Bonds Agita? Serious immersion into Baseball Haiku, of course — either on our all-season f/k/a Baseball Haiku Page, or (for the truly fortunate) by spending extra innings with the naturally-bulked up, 200-page volume Baseball Haiku (Cor van den Heuvel and Nanae Tamura, eds., W.W. Norton Press, April 2007), which we’ve spotlighted with sampled poems by our Honored Guests in many postings, such as here, there, here, can there.

BaseballHaikuCoverIf you’ve already got a Kindle, you can be reading Baseball Haik: the book in moments for just $9.99!

late innings
the shortstop backpedals
into fireflies

April rain
my grandson practices
his infield chatter

Seattle sunset
Ichiro sends one
toward the Sea of Japan

summer loneliness . . .
dropping the pop up
i toss to myself

lightning… infielderG
i lose jeter’s pop-up
in a blaze of static

……………………………… by ed markowski

OldBallGameLogo Big Cheer: At the same time that the Bonds indictment was clouding our autumn skies last week, the Baseball Gods (or maybe it was the Patron Saint of Baseball Fans) put a wonderful ray of sunshine in the ears of the f/k/a Gang: We accidentally found two minutes of Ed Markowski baseball poems in tiny media files hidden on our hard drive. They were recorded in April 2006, by Joe Harnett, longtime radio host of The Old BallGame.

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

We told you about Joe Harnett and linked to his four one-minute readings of Ed’s poems, in our post markowski: in your ear & “at the ballgame” (April 12, 2006). Unfortunately, the The Old BallGame website is no longer accessible, the original links are broken, and we feared that we would never be able to listen to Harnett read Markowski again. Therefore, this discovery of two of the four Cuts made even Prof. Yabut smile. It’s especially surprising, because Your podcast pariah Editor has never knowingly downloaded any MP3 file from the internet. Through the wonders of our cyber-klutziness, however:

infielderG You can now click to hear Cut One and Cut Two (of the four original cuts).

As we wrote in April 2006: Most of the selections already appear on our f/k/a Baseball Haiku page. But hearing them so well rendered orally adds a great new dimension. (The only thing we’d do differently is to leave out the Asian sounds — Ed’s poetry and the game sounds are All-American.) Whether you use eyes, ears, or both senses, please let Markowski help you forget about Bonds.

first red leaves
i swing late
on a change-up

distant thunder at bat neg
the home run hitter
drops a bunt

“red hots!”
for an instant i’m ten
father’s still alive


bases loaded
no one out…..
the pitcher
blows a bubble

the roar of the crowd
through a transistor radio…
summer solitude

EdMarkowski Ed Markowski
Credits: “a long fly ball” – 9th mainichi haiku contest, 2nd place (June 20005)
“summer loneliness” – from the pinch-book pop up, tribe press, 2004
“spring rain” & “bases loaded” – Haiku Sun (Issue X, Jan. 2004)
“distant thunder” & “lightning…” – games (pawEprint 78, 2004)
Other Credits: The Old Ball Game (April 2006); Baseball Haiku (W.W.Norton, 2007)

winter reverie
the faint scent of bubble gum
on an old baseball card

………………………………. by ed markowski

[orig. haiga, MagnaPoetsJF]

sacrifice fly —
on third

poem: David Giacalone a/k/a dagosan
photo: MAMA G.

November 17, 2007

things inadvertent

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 2:03 pm

If I get wise, on our sunny mid-November Saturday, this is going to be one of those stop-n-start, serial weblog posts: a blurb or barb here and there throughout the day, or even the entire weekend. Of course, if you don’t like having to revisit, I’ll gladly refund your subscription fee. [Count me with Carolyn, who finds it hard to imagine “25 more years of weblogging.”]

typing past sunrise
he pencils in

…………. by dagosan

9 AM Monday, Installment #4: Talk about getting here inadvertently:

The least we can do now is offer some one-breath insight on having children:

Father’s Day
she tells me
I’m not the father

……………………………….. by John Stevenson – from Quiet Enough

his vomit wiped up
my bowl of wheaties
soggy now

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

sick in bed –
my son pelts the window
with snowballs

…………………………………… by Tom Clausen – from Homework (Snapshot Press 2000)

almost sunset
the weekend dad
drags a sled up the hill

………………… by dagosan – frogpond XXIX: 2 (2006)

me in one hand
a belt in the other
dad sings a lullaby

……………………………..……….. by roberta beary -from Taboo Haiku

and, to our entire Quickies category, where we had discussed Feiger’s first amendment victory over the overbroad prohibition against “undignified or discourteous conduct” toward judge. We have no idea when Jeffrey became a dad, but we can preduct an interesting Terrible Two’s experience for the feisty attorney .

  • And, the querist (don’t you love that word?) hoping to learn through Google about <kinky disciplinary methods> might have wanted to send us to the corner for a time out (without a spanking, I’m sure), when he clicked on the #1 result and found our tame, almost-scholarly discussion of “bar admission and kinky discipline.”

lemon-ice stand –
the lawyer-dad looks for
a Brain Freeze Warning

…………….………………………………… by dagosan

To nobody’s surprise, and probably quite appropriately, the #1 result was about flowers.

p.s.  There’s nothing inadvertent about the timing and theme of this week’s Blawg Review #135,  Reminding us that in 1957 Pres. Eisenhower declared Nov. 18th to be Equal Opportunity Day, Prof. Jillian Dodd of the Transgender Workplace Diversity weblog, presents an impressive array of blawg resources touching on equal opportunity under law half a century later.

ooh 9 AM Sun. Installment #3:

Buxom Paralegals? Search Engine Serendipity had me thinking momentarily yesterday about well-known paralegals, which then quickly brought my alter ego etymologEsq to ponder the meaning of the word “buxom.” In the process, I came to appreciate again an upside to my deteriorating Baby Boomer memory — the joy of rediscovering, as if indeed for the first time, things that bemused or amused me earlier in my weblogging career, and then appreciating my earlier work here at f/k/a (but worrying, thanks to Carolyn Elefant’s recent discussion of Long Haul Blogging, that I might be turning into “some kind of blogging-egomaniac, forever citing my own self-created body of work.”) Here’s what happened:

  • checking the f/k/a SlimStat page yesterday afternoon, I saw that we had a visitor who was searching at Google for /famous paralegals/. The #2 result for that query was our Sept. 2005 post “too much disclosure? (erin go bra!)“, where we wondered just how much personal disclosure and décolletage was appropriate/optimal at law firm websites — inspired by the exposure given to movie-famous paralegal Erin Brokovich at her former firm Masry & Vititoe.

larger EBustovich

unaware of the thief’s
eyes, melons
cooling in water

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

  • That reminded me to point our readers to Update: Erin Brockovich vs. Beverly Hills High School (Overlawyered.com, Nov. 15, 2007), where Walter Olson pointed out that one of Erin’s stinkier lawsuits has resulted in the rather rare payment of defendant’s legal fees by the losing plaintiffs. Walter’s remarks led NY Personal Injury lawyer Eric Turkewitz (happy 1st Blog Anniversary, Eric!) to start a Comment-section debate over whether lawyers for the plaintiff or lawyers for defendants (and contingency fee or hourly-fee lawyers) are more likely to drag out a case. As interesting as such things might be in theory or practice, I quickly realized that it simply was not my top priority for a sunny Saturday (despite how opinionated I can be about the Bar’s canonization of contingency fees and demonization of hourly billing). That is especially true, because, at my original post about Erin, I had re-discovered . . .
  • ooh The etymology of the word “buxom.” Sure, I know buxom means “Healthily plump and ample of figure” or “Full-bosomed.” But, I had forgotten that in 2005 I also knew that an archaic meaning of the word was “Lively, vivacious, and gay” and an obsolete definition had been “Obedient; yielding; pliant.” That sent me back to the Online Etymology Dictionary, which has this entry:

buxom: c.1175, buhsum “humble, obedient,” from buh- stem of O.E. bugen “to bow” + -som, for a total meaning “capable of being bent.” Meaning progressed from “compliant, obliging,” through “lively, jolly,” “healthily plump, vigorous,” to (in women, and perhaps infl. by lusty) “plump, comely” (1589).

Well, I thought, no wonder (insecure, mother-missing) men like buxom women so much!

fine print on her t-shirt –
she glares at me
for squinting

……………………….. by dagosan

femaleSym maleSym Which somehow made me momentarily remember that I was going to write this weekend about the National Association of Women Lawyers’ newest report about the income gap between male and female lawyers at the 200 largest firms. (via ABAJournal News) So, I dug up our post from January 2006, “maybe women lawyers are just wiser than the men.” And, I thought about the perils of advocacy-group statistics (especially when we’re given conclusions but not the full report), and was getting all revved up to waste a good chuck of my weekend pontificating and thinking too hard, when — thankfully — my eyes went back to the top of this post, and I decided to let Carolyn Elefant raise the issues for me in her post at Legal BlogWatch.

training bra
on the clothesline
half moon

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

Speaking of serendipity, my easily-distracted and peridementiaed brain was about to jump back on my cyber surf board in search of ever-more weblogging materials, when today’s New York Times saved me from myself (at least temporarily), by running the article “In Korea, a Boot Camp Cure for Web Obsession” (Nov. 18, 2007). So, I’m going to take the rest of the daylight day off from f/k/a. In fact, I’m not even going to read that Web Obsession article, or find more poems to post. Have a great Sunday, and step back from that computer, please (right after you finish reading this posting, of course).

9 PM Sat., Installment #2: Kevin Colvin (orig. photo)

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

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

Knave & Fool: While I’ve been busy worrying about the ethics and mechanics of e-shaming an internet Seller who failed to deliver the goods, Kevin Colvin has achieved instant web-infamy the past few days for helping to shame himself (and get himself fired) with a picture he himself placed on his Facebook page. See “From Facebook Follies to MySpace “My Bads:” The Age of Global Viral Embarrassment” (Washington Post, by Emil Steiner, Nov. 13, 2007); and “Bank Intern Busted at Facebook” (Valleywag.com) As EricB wrote at MetaFilter:

“Kevin Colvin e-mailed his boss to say that he’d miss work due to what colleagues took to be a ‘family emergency.’ His boss turned to Facebook and found a photo of Colvin, dressed as a fairy at a Halloween party — one which he apparently missed work to attend. The boss attached the image to his reply, copying the rest of the office as he did it.”

Kevin, who is clearly another honesty-challenged member of the Whatever Generation, has proved himself to be one of the “future-oblivious young adults” I’ve suggested needs to be hit upside the head with a copy of Dan Solove’s The Future of Reputation. But, note, Kevin didn’t get in trouble for the funny costume he wore on Halloween. When placing the photo on Facebook, he could have reasonably concluded both that his current employer would not mind and that he wouldn’t want to work for a company that would frown on such frolic. He got in trouble for trying to deceive his boss and then being stupid enough to put evidence of his deceit on the internet. I sure hope he’s not the sole support of an infirm parent or two.

It was a Google search for /dude dressed as a fairy/ that led me to Kevin’s story. While the #1 result was the MetaFilter post quoted above, #2 was our post “nice costume, dude.” So, the f/k/a Gang thanks the Inadvertent Searchee who stumbled on our little weblog while looking for Kevin and his wand.

No Costume No Treat”
goth kids
at my door

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

2 PM: installment #1:

Can you relate? Earlier this month, I enjoyed listening to an audio version of Max Byrd’s 2000 book “Grant: A Novel” (George Guidall narrator, Recorded Books, 2001). In it, American novelist, journalist, historian and academic Henry Adams is a snotty, snobby, quite unlikable figure. However, I can definitely empathize with Adams-the-writer, if one passage in the book is true. Purportedly:

In 1883, Henry Adams started making use of the new device the typewriter, by sending his handwritten drafts to be “typed”by a stenographer. According to a sympathetic observer, it was “the ruin of poor Harry,” because it allowed him to “effortlessly revise” his work. Every draft became “more complicated and convoluted than the one before” and “his style was completely changed by technology.”

Well, Hank, just try getting anything done quickly now that we “input” our drafts ourselves and can continually (and at no additional expense for materials or staff) “effortlessly revise” our work. Talk about making progress and inadvertent consequences or getting a small marginal return for great added effort self-generated agita. [Has anyone studied how many typos are created when authors or editors try rearranging sentences but leave a spare preposition or two behind or out of place?]

under the
blackest doodle
something unerasable

revising poems
a third cup of tea
from the same bag

…………………………………… by John Stevenson
“under the” – Something Unerasable (1996)
“revising poems” – “Some of the Silence” (Red Moon Press, 1999)

[more, later maybe; until then:

If you’re stuck inside and want a large does of haijin inspiration, head over to the brand new edition of the online journal/magazine Simply Haiku (Winter 2007, vol 5 no 4). It’s filled with all sort of good Japanese-style shortform poetry, including new work at the links below from the following f/k/a Honored Guests:

microphoneG Plus, there’s a very favorable review by Johnye Strickland of Roberta Beary’s book The Unworn Necklaceno es una soprisa! see our post Roberta’s gems]. After praising Roberta’s remarkable poems, Johnye tells of her talent reading haiku in public, and says “I would like to suggest that the poet and publisher consider producing a CD of her reading her own poems.” Although still a podcast pariah, I would be thrilled to feature a link to an MP3 file of Roberta reading from The Unworn Necklace here at f/k/a.

Brightest moon —
fireworks take
the place of stars

………….. by Matt Morden, original haiga in Simply Haiku (Winter 2007)

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

……….. by Barry George – Simply Haiku senryu page (Winter 2007)

By the Way: have you echoed yet today?



November 16, 2007

derek buckner delivers (after an e-shaming push)

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,viewpoint — David Giacalone @ 7:00 pm

Such a pleasant surprise at my mailbox this afternoon: A padded envelope with a Pevely, MO, return address, containing the 12 dvds that comprise the Destinos: An Introduction to Spanish video instructional series (52-half hour shows produced by by WGBH in Boston). There was no name in the return address and nothing inside the envelope other than the dvds, in paper sleeves. Still, I’m pretty sure the package comes from the only person I know who purports to have a Pevely address: Derek Daniel Buckner, the subject of our November 12th post, “should we e-shame Derek Buckner (the cyber-peddler not the City-painter)?.”

Our earlier post describes in detail “my highly unsatisfactory consumer interaction” with Mr. Buckner (not the Brooklyn painter with the same name), who was a very responsive correspondent before I sent my check, but who had failed to send Destinos, a month after that check had cleared. His last “communication” was a Yahoo Auto Response claiming that he could not access his email in-box but had shipped all items to his DB Liquidations customers as of October 25, 2007.

Because the metered postage label on the package that I received today has the date “Nov 14, 07,” and Derek hasn’t sent any explanation for the delay or timing, it looks like it was our “e-shaming” of him that nudged Mr. Buckner to fulfill his obligations as a Cyber-Seller. So, I’m quite happy that I took the time to memorialize our transaction, and that the post achieved such robust search engine presence. [Today, it’s the 7th result in the Google search /”Derek Buckner”/ (despite the many links featuring the popular painter), and the first result for the query /“Derek Buckner” Missouri/.]

e-shaming can work (at least, when you have a well-linked weblog): I probably would have never received the purchased product or a refund of my money from Derek, had I not brought our situation to the internet. He had apparently lied about his bank holding my check for ten days, and then about shipping the item by October 25th and getting back in touch after establishing a new email account, so there’s little reason to think he was suddenly going to act in good faith and send the Destinos discs.

The Abuse Department at craigslist wrote back a few days ago, saying that they would not be able to do anything for me, and “this may be a matter for law enforcement.” They suggested that I might try “consumer mediation services available in your area” (with someone several states away who I had no way to contact and no reason to trust!) and that I file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (not noticing that I had attached the complaint I had already filed with IC3 and mentioned it prominently in my e-mail complaint to craigslist — nor that their reply to me had that same IC3 complaint attached to it.).  On the law enforcement front, the St. Louis County Police internet fraud officer called this morning, saying they wouldn’t take any action over a $60 dispute (unless they get more complaints about the same seller). So, it looks like a little cyber self-help was apparently my best bet, and it worked this time.

Nonetheless, I am sensitive to the issues raised by law professor Daniel J. Solove in The Future of Reputation (which f/k/a reviewed on Nov. 8, 2007), about permanently shaming a person on the internet. Therefore, I need to decide what to do with my original posting about Derek Buckner. Naturally, I will place an update blurb in the post tonight, saying that I have now received the merchandise. But, should I expunge it, or otherwise help give Derek a chance to rehabilitate his reputation?

For many reasons, I’ve concluded that I should not remove the earlier post (or details identifying Derek Buckner of Missouri) — at this time. Here’s why:

  • as indicated in the earlier post, this does not appear to be the first time Derek Buckner, d/b/a “DB liquidations” or “wrestling_king”, has given buyers unsatisfactory service of this nature;
  • Derek was willing to mistreat me as a customer, despite my first telling him (truthfully) that I was on disability and a very limited budget, and was therefore very pleased to find his low price for Destinos; and, even after I informed him that I’m a retired lawyer, but active consumer advocate, with a weblog, who expected fair treatment. That information merely got the dubious stalling response that his bank was holding my check for ten days. So, I finally got a bit more specific, telling Derei:

Unless you give me a very good reason not to do so, I will begin tomorrow to send alerts to Craigslist and other online vendors about doing business with you, and contact US Postal authorities (mail fraud is serious business), and local law enforcement in Missouri.

I will also be posting at my weblog about the risk of doing business with you. My website has about 2500 visits a day and is the #1 Google result for many of the topics discussed there.

ooh That message basically made Derek go into hiding, and garnered the Yahoo Auto Response saying that his email In Box was broken, but he had shipped all orders.

after biting the horse
the horsefly hides out…
lotus blossoms

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

  • Clearly, Derek Buckner, who calls himself “midwestpokerplayer” at his MySpace.com webpage, was gambling that I would not do anything over losing a mere $60.00.
  • Standing alone, then, Derek’s decision to mail me the merchandise — two days after I wrote about him here at f/k/a and received healthy search engine results — with no explanation and no way to reach him, is not much of a guarantee that Mr. Buckner has resolved to be an honest Seller in all transactions from this point forward.

For the sake of others who might be considering a purchase from cyber-peddler Derek Daniel Buckner — especially doing so directly, without an organization offering recourse –I believe the message in our Nov. 12th post needs to stay online, where it will be easy to find using Google or Yahoo or other search engines. It will be informative for other consumers, who mostly do not have the leverage of a weblog with relatively good visibility to encourage Derek to be on his best behavior.

Sunset Clause: Nonetheless, Dan Solove is correct: forever is a very long time. So, I’d be willing to sunset my e-shame post about Derek in two years, if he contacts me requesting that I remove the identifying information in the post (which also has useful lessons and links for consumers). At that time, if my research shows no continuing misbehavior by him as a seller online, I will sunset the e-shaming aspects of the post.

selling morning-glories
wet with morning dew…
a tough character

waiting and waiting
for sunset…
the willow tree

rain from the eaves
a late sunset

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

special delivery –
a smile from
the pregnant mailman

………………………………. by dagosan

McNally will be the Lunch Pail D.A.

Filed under: lawyer news or ethics — David Giacalone @ 12:41 am

. . . . In true blue collar “lunch pail” fashion, defying the predictions of political pundits, Rich McNally has won the Rensselaer County [NY] District Attorney’s race — with a margin of 227 votes (out of about 39,000) over Republican Greg Cholakis. See “McNally unofficial winner of DA race” (The Troy Record, Nov. 16, 2007); “McNally wins Rensselaer Co. DA’s race” (CapitalNews9, Nov. 15, 2007). Beyond his own reputation for integrity and hard work, McNally can surely thank voter dismay over the often-backfiring extralegal antics of out-going D.A. Patricia A. DeAngelis (see our prior post) for his becoming the first Democrat to hold the position since 1989.

After hearing McNally’s slogan in ad after ad, we had fun last week asking “what’s a lunch pail lawyer,” and now we’ll see if Rich can demonstrate his lunch pail work ethic in the tough job of district attorney. While avoiding histrionics, McNally says he’ll be an active litigating prosecutor as well as chief administrator in an office that needs major revamping and refocusing on fundamentals (like the rule of law).

lunch at the zoo
even among gorillas
some who sit apart

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

“red hots!”
for an instant i’m ten
father’s still alive

dreary morning
a loaf of wonder bread
tops the shopping list

…………………… ed markowski

Troy’s most famous historical figure, Sam Wilson, was known for the (luncheon) meats that fed an army. I’m still hoping that an enterprising supporter or staffer will find an Uncle Sam lunch pail for D.A. McNally — to symbolize his no-baloney, no-hot-dogging focus on fundamentals, preparation and vigilance. Congratulations and best of luck to Rich McNally!

a stuffed briefcase
and an Uncle Sam lunchbox —
the new D.A.

……………………………….. by dagosan

– click to hear the band Lunch Box doing their song “Uncle Sam.”

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