Friday, May 29, 2009


When I was a kid I had hair down to my shoulders and a full beard. My wardrobe was mostly tee shirts and jeans. My college graduation picture was not on the "picture wall" at my parents' house - they stuck with the high school shot with the short hair.

My and my middle brother's grooming and attire (he's three years younger), drove my father nuts. Then, we got out of school and had to get jobs. Off with the hair and jeans and we've conformed ever since.

I have "father" moments on occasion these days, shaking my head when I see rings not on ears or fingers, guys in pants the legs of which come up to about their knees, the waist of which rides just below their crotch and tattoos everywhere.

But, you don't see the look, for the most part, once they hit their late twenties and reality intervenes. I wonder what they'll shake their heads at in few decades.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Government program with which AirTran will not let me comply

I kind of like that stilted title. Here’s what AirTran told me today:

"Recently, the Transportation Security Administration announced changes to their watch list matching process called Secure Flight. The mission of Secure Flight is to enhance the security of domestic and international air travel through the use of improved watch list matching. Another benefit will be greatly reduced incidents of passengers being misidentified with names on the TSA's watch lists.

"What does this mean for me? Starting today, when purchasing a ticket you will be required to provide your full first, middle and last name, exactly matching the valid government-issued ID you will present at the airport (e.g. driver's license, passport, etc.). Beginning August 15, 2009, you will also be required to provide your gender and date of birth when booking flights.

"How will I benefit?You will benefit from the Secure Flight program through improved security on all flights and reduced rates in misidentification of passengers who have similar names on the TSA watch list. Also, by updating your A+ Rewards profile information, you will experience a faster booking process.

"So what do I do?At AirTran Airways, we like to make flying as convenient as possible for all of our A+ Rewards members. We have added all of the TSA mandatory fields to your A+ Rewards member profile, so to ensure a quick and easy ticketing process, please update your profile today.Take a few minutes now to update your information and we'll take care of the rest, passing on the necessary information to the TSA every time you fly with us."

So, I have to give them the exact name found on my “government-issued ID” which includes my middle name. If you click the link to update your “information,” there is no place to put my middle name, nor my middle initial, which is on my drivers license. Also, there is no space to put my date of birth. There was a place for me to add “Mr.” to my profile as opposed to Ms., Mrs. and Doctor – no place to put male or female.

Why did Airtran lie, telling me they've added "all of the TSA mandatory fields" to my profile?

Am I done flying? Will I really experience a faster booking process? Since I’ve never been identified as someone on the watch list, will I see a reduced rate of my misidentification?

I'm thinking we have a left hand, right hand and third person hand disconnect. And everyone rags on TSA.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Trip Tidbits

Here's where I was

Here's where I am.

I left Atlanta Friday for Flint, Michigan, ended up not going there as AirTran had "mechanical difficulties" with the plane. They sent me to Detroit which put me a couple hours behind schedule; but, they gave me a voucher for a free flight.

Rented a car (Toyota Prius - cool - it's averaging just under 50 MPG) and drove to Traverse City, playing golf Saturday, Sunday and this morning. Won $70 playing roulette for 45 minutes. Raced go -carts and ate a lot of food. The view from my balcony at the Grand Traverse Resort is the first picture.

Drove to Mesick, Michigan this afternoon and hung with my brother and sister-in-law for a couple of hours.

Now I'm in Grand Rapids. The second picture is my view. No balcony.

Vacation's over. Time to get ready for a hearing on a Motion for Summary Dispostion in the morning.

Then a leasurely drive to Flint and a jet to the ATL.

Happy Memorial Day.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sometimes law doesn't work

Troy Davis’s lawyers filed an appeal to the United States Supreme Court this week. From what I gather, this is his last chance to avoid the death sentence he has. If you want to read all of the background, use Google. Short story, seven of nine witnesses at his trial have recanted their testimony.

Here’s a link to a story about judges, prosecutors and conservative politicians filing a brief with the Supreme Court asking that it give him a hearing on his claim that he is innocent.

I could go on about the legal garbage about the burden of someone like Davis trying to win this sort of appeal. I won’t. If you have seven of nine witnesses and a bunch of lawyers and politicians that are not sympathetic to defendants saying something’s wrong with a criminal conviction, chances are that something is wrong.

The Supreme Court can, quite properly, using legal precedent on the issue, deny the appeal. My quick reading of the law indicates to me that he shouldn’t get any relief, even though he may well not have committed the crime for which he’s sentenced to die. Or, the Justices can do what is right and send the case to a trial judge to hear what the witnesses have to say.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I may have conquered fried chicken

As a kid I watched my Mother make hundreds of skillets of fried chicken; but, as is the case with kids, watching isn’t always paying attention to detail.

There’s the cut up chicken, some salt, pepper, flower, milk and in my Mother’s world, Crisco.

Crisco into the skillet, turn up the heat (to what?). Dip the chicken in the milk, salt and pepper and then dredge the pieces in the flour. Let it fry for a while, take it out, put it on a rack. Eat wonderful, somewhat greasy pieces of chicken – thighs and legs for me and my brothers and my Dad, the breast for my Mother.

As I grew older, the greasy part became more and more unappetizing. Equally unappetizing is dry. But the middle ground eluded me.

Grease is eliminated by proper oil temperature (canola, not Crisco) until the chicken gets to the right internal temperature, eliminating over-cooking, which always seems to be hit and miss with me. Dry, it turns out, is avoided by brining the chicken for an hour or two. That solved, I returned to the grease and over-cooking problems.

Were my Mother around, she’d look at me with a loving look on her face. You heat the oil till it’s ready and cook it until it’s done, she’d say. But how hot, how long?

I broke down and bought a temperature probe. Oil goes to 335. About eight minutes on each side till the smallest piece is about 160. Take it out, then the rest. Carry over takes them all to perfect done. No grease, no dry, no over-cooking. Better than most restaurants.

You can chuckle, it’s OK. But I’m feeling pretty good.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Equal Time

I took off on President Obama recently for changing his mind about some pictures. (Life Hiker and J, I know both of you, you are good people.)

Mitch McConnell of the opposition seems to be pandering to what he hopes are our fears about the remaining Guantanamo prisoners. “I can’t imagine anyone wanting them in their community.”

Mr. McConnell makes a totally specious argument, and having typed that, I realized that I’m being charitable as there is no argument made so as to be specious.

There are 241 men at the prison in Cuba. All of them can fit, say fifty each at the Atlanta federal prison, a supermax or three, Pelican Bay, Leavenworth and so on. Does anyone really think they are going to escape?

Oh that Obama, he really needs to rethink that arbitrary deadline of the end of the year for closing the prison. We need to think this thing through. Think what through?

Leave the prisoners where they are or move them. As to their trials, which are the real issue, where they are held - there is no relevance.

And to move back to Obama, who is moving to the Bush Administration’s military court system for trying 20 (why 20?) detainees, with rules that apparently mirror a trial in a federal court, why the hell not try them in a federal court?

All y’all politicians are goofy.

Who Knew?

Want to read the blog in Japanese? Here it is.

Yes, I'm bored this morning. I cancelled my tee time thinking it would be raining and cold. It is neither. Now I'm left with cleaning things - dishes, clothes and next, carpets.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Why doesn't anyone just do news in the morning?

Radio or TV – there really is no place to go to get just news without fluff in the morning before you leave home or while you are driving to work. Yes, I could go online and read were I not doing all the other things that get the day going.

When I travel, I used to flip to Headline News on the hotel TV, which over the years has devolved. When I watched it years ago, it was indeed what its name said it was, in a half hour you got what was going on nationally and internationally while you were doing other things. Recently, it got a new name HLN, I suppose to indicate that it really isn’t what the letters would otherwise indicate. Now it's a national version of the local happy news and an equivalent to Fox and Friends and whatever CNN calls its morning show.

Even WSB Radio (750 AM) here in Atlanta, the only marginally actual news station in town and Morning Edition on the local PBS radio outlet are going slowly to interspersing fluff with hard news in the morning.

Mind you, I read and watch fluff - as you know, I write a bunch of fluff; but, I’d really like an aural source for straight news to listen to in the morning.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Some stuff to read, if you like

I'm thinking President Obama needs to take some deep breaths before making decisions

The President has decided to oppose release of pictures showing U.S. Military personnel torturing prisoners on the grounds that it would inflame anti-American opinion and “affect the safety” of American troops. This after he had said the pictures would be released.

Both decisions were poor. Without reference to the legalities, there was no reason to inflame in the first place. Having decided to do so, who does he think he is fooling?

“That infidel has decided to withhold the pictures that he already said existed, we’re going to have to re-think our current anti-American opinions; and, more importantly, we are going to call off all of our terrorism directed at American troops!”

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Technology and Law, New York Style

A New York Appellate court has ruled that the police can’t attach a GPS transmitter to your vehicle while it’s sitting on the street and track you as you travel unless they get a warrant first.

You can read about it here.

I hate to say it; but, maybe, the court got it wrong constitutionally. A dissenting justice said: “while ‘I do not care for the idea of a police officer — or anyone else — sneaking under someone’s car in the middle of the night to attach a tracking device,’ the State Police only violated Mr. Weaver’s property rights, not his right to privacy.”

Law moves at the margins. It’s OK for the police to follow you 24 hours a day as you wend your way through public places, writing down where you go and who you see. Once you put your garbage out on the curb, it’s fair game. The constitutional formulation is that you have no expectation of privacy in those circumstances. Property and privacy. They’re closely related, privacy having evolved from property. “A man’s home is his castle,” and so on. On the other side of the equation, it is a constitutional violation to tap your phone and listen to what you say without a warrant (unless you are a member of the Bush Administration).

So where does GPS tracking fall in the continuum? It’s in, or can be attached, to your car, it’s already in your cell phone. They aren’t listening to what you say (we think), they are just saving manpower and using a computer to see where you go and who you see, just a bit more comprehensive than all the cameras sprouting in cities. If you are up to no good in a public place, why is it OK for the police to see you’re up to no good, casing the site of the burglary, rather than knowing you were in the parking lot of burglary targeted store, presumably casing the joint, because the GPS says you were there?

Do we want the government tracking us? Me? No. If we don’t, we should put the matter to the state legislatures and Congress. Leave us alone. And here’s the problem, we won’t; because, there’s no outrage when a guy gets caught doing something he shouldn’t do. Legislatively, it isn’t going to happen. Judicially, it probably shouldn’t happen.

A Day in the Life

Here's how I've spent my day.

I had a conference call with a client's personnel and discussed the interplay of three different state materialmen's lien laws, bankruptcy preference law and the efficacy of a field warehousing agreement versus a deed to secure debt in light of the previously mentioned laws and accounting. We have a plan of action; and, we'll see how it works out.

Then I reviewed a bunch of documents in a case to be able to outline what I see as the relevant facts in a dispute and researched various aspects of Colorado and Kentucky law to put in a letter to the other side's lawyer which politely threatens litigation if his client doesn't get reasonable.

About an hour ago, I called a person who had sued my client. He had filed a response to a motion but hadn't served me with the papers as the court rules require (he isn't a lawyer and didn't retain a lawyer). He said he'd fax the papers right over to me. No papers.

Got a settlement check in, that was nice.

Then I reviewed a letter from a railroad denying my client's claim for lost market value of a shipment that the railroad "lost" for five months, during which time the price for the material sky-rocketed, and just before the time the cars were "found," started precipitously dropping. Then I looked at the bills of lading, various tariffs and price lists to determine if a particular document, which would bar my client's claim, was a part of the deal. I'm not sure and am typing this instead of delving further into the concept of incorporation by reference in the age electronic commerce.

Mothers, don't let your babies grow up to be lawyers.

Friday, May 08, 2009

I need to come up with an idea that

Oprah likes.

Here's the plan:

Somehow I get her people to read and love the blog. I add ads. She tells every middle-aged woman in the world that they really need to read what Dave writes.

That, or I let her know I make the best Sloppy Joes and potato salad known to mankind and we split the proceeds.

Who needs Mega Millions?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Fallacy of Groups

This post will put me in danger of losing my liberal credentials. That notwithstanding, here goes.

President Obama finds himself in the middle of his, if not first, his biggest, campaign versus governance issue.

He gets to nominate a justice to serve on the Supreme Court. These nominations are always big things. FDR failed in his attempt to "pack" the Court. Subsequent Presidents are sometimes disappointed by their choices - Eisenhower and Warren, Nixon and Blackmun, GHW Bush and Souter. Other times, they hit a homerun - Nixon and Burger, Reagan and Scalia, GHW Bush and Thomas, GW Bush and Roberts/Alito.

So what is the cause of their buyer's remorse or delight? They picked their nominees based on a political agenda, trying to "shape" the Court.

Obama's choice is even more complicated. Though Republicans are making noises, none of them expect him to pick someone with whom they would be happy. Most people, left and right, expect the nominee to skew "liberal" and to be a woman, possibly a black or Hispanic woman.
But here's where it gets interesting. It turns out two of the "short list" candidates are openly gay. So now LGBT groups are making noises about his campaign promises and his failure to follow through on them. He's damned if he does and damned if he doesn't.

Not that it will happen; but, here's what Obama should do. He should forget about groups be they black, white, Hispanic, male, female, gay, straight, left, right, majority, minority. He should try to find the smartest, most well-rounded, most experienced, caring, thoughtful, gracious, tolerant lawyer available and make the nomination.

Group politics is for the other two branches of government. The Supreme Court should be peopled (not manned or womaned) with justices who don't have an agenda. When you select based on group representation it more likely that you will not get the best person. Choosing only among men can well mean that you skip a spectacular woman. Choosing only among lesbians would cause you not to consider a gay or straight guy that would otherwise be the best choice based on merit.

And think of the legacy that all presidents seem to care so much about. Twenty years from now the Supreme Court could be populated by justices who are the very best the country has to offer, rather than nine probably pretty good people divided into floating groups of ideologies that drive their analysis and decision making. Don't worry, as I said above, it isn't going to happen.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

This is supposed to make me feel good?

Obama seeks to trim 2010 budget by $17 billion

That’s about half of the latest Bank of America shortfall.

What, a few weeks or so of Iraq/Afghanistan costs?

It is more than the $100 million Obama wanted each Cabinet Secretary to save.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

*^$(@#! Drivers!

In no particular order as to the irritation they cause:

1. Drivers who apparently realize they are entering an expressway about ten feet before the entrance while driving 40 m.p.h., stay at that speed until one unlucky driver has to hit the brakes or hit the idiot and the next six or seven cars have to hit their brakes, at which point the idiot speeds up to the expressway speed.

2. Drivers on a busy surface street who weave among the lanes, cutting people off, slamming their brakes, swerving toward open pavement, all to get to the red light a good five cars ahead of me.

3. The above drivers' cousins on expressways who act the same, getting to the exit 200 yards ahead of me.

4. Drivers that think their turn signal causes me to magically move from the space they are about to move into without looking.

5. Tailgaters and other drivers on the Interstates that pull up behind you to momentarily tailgate, move left and accelerate past you, only to pull in ahead of you and drive slower than you were driving when the maneuver started, then do it again five miles down the road.

6. Drivers on expressways who need to get into the right lane to get to the exit and slow down before they exit (causing the same braking as described in the first paragraph) and their even more moronic friends who cut you off to get in the right lane two feet in front of you.

7. Drivers on a five lane road who don't pull into the center lane to make a left turn.

8. Drivers who don't want to sit in a turn lane behind twenty other cars and pull up to the light in the left through lane, sitting until someone lets them in, blocking another ten drivers behind them who were planning on going through the intersection during THAT green light.

9. Drivers on a crowded street who don't let you in.

10. Drivers that don't nod, smile or wave when you let them in.

Feel free to add your own.

Monday, May 04, 2009


I never get to go anywhere good, at the right time of year, for business. The Midwest during the winter, Florida on August First, are the kind of trips I take for business.

I have to go to Wyoming, Michigan, near Grand Rapids, later this month for a hearing. I Emailed the client this morning about it. It turns out the hearing is immediately after the client’s annual weekend at the Grand Traverse Resort to which I’m always invited and never get around to attending.

So, I will be jetting to Flint, MI, driving to the resort and playing golf and eating for the weekend, plus Monday. The resort even has a shuttle to a casino so I can indulge in some roulette. I wonder if they have Pai Gow poker in northern Michigan?

A bonus, my youngest brother lives in Mesick, near Traverse City. I’ll wave at his house on the way to the resort and stop on the way to Grand Rapids.

The picture is of the 15th and 16th holes at one of the resort’s courses – The Bear, by Jack Nicklaus, according to the website. There are some tee boxes on the left of the picture, beyond that, I have no clue. Wish me luck.

Saturday, May 02, 2009


The Supreme Court of the United States won’t be changing in any meaningful way as the result of Justice Souter’s retirement.

Souter for the most part votes with the more liberal members of the Court. Obama will nominate someone like him, possibly someone a bit more liberal. And that won’t change the conservative skew of the Court. The only way things would change in the short term would be if the new justice was someone who by force of personality/intellect would influence Justice Kennedy, the Court’s swing vote, to skew more to the left.