Friday, October 30, 2009

A Public Service - Maybe

The link takes you to as article on preserving the life of the batteries in your laptop, camera, phone, etc.

It contains advice I've not heard before - keep your batteries charged between 20 and 80% and they'll last longer; there's no such think as "memory" in a lithium battery and you don't need to run them down to zero periodically, other than maybe, depending on the device's manufacturer's software, to recalibrate the discharge meter.

Reader beware!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

No Wonder it Costs So Much

I'll get to the title in a bit.

Today's mission (see the last post) was successfully accomplished. The surgery went well, now my friend the cop has to endure weeks of rehab torture. I had to sign a form that promised that that I would do a lot of things that I may not actually do to spring him (they won't let you leave unless a responsible adult promises to hang for 24 hours - I've reached the age of majority). The walk from my car to the front door was a bit slow; but, it was successfully accomplished. The cop is sleeping peacefully, aided by a couple of pills.

I haven't been in a hospital in a while. Piedmont Hospital here in Atlanta may not be typical; but, it is huge - a warren of halls in a hodge-podge of wings. When I went this afternoon to pick up my charge, I went to where I dropped him off this morning. The receptionist sent me from there to the "main waiting room" where I checked in again. The path took me though halls with labs, patient rooms, conference rooms, etc. Tons of workers in all of them (but no security that I could see). I realized by looking out a window on to Peachtree Street when I got there that I'd walked about a city block (the whole hospital takes up three or four blocks). From there I was directed to the recovery room which is better described as the recovery "wing," another half a block away. Piedmont is doing a booming surgery business. Again workers everwhere you looked (and again no security that I saw). In the recovery wing there was probably a two or more to one ratio of nurses/aides to patients.

Back to the title, all those halls, labs, rooms and people reminded me of why health care is so expensive. One nice thing, you get friendly people when you spend that kind of money. I didn't see a worker during my journey that didn't make eye contact and smile.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Getting Something Stuck in Your Head

I got up this morning at five and was in the car a half hour later, picked up some coffee, and was at my friend the cop's place early, five minutes before six.

"Why are you here? It's tomorrow."

I'd agreed a week or so ago to pick him up and take him to the hospital to get his ACL (MC?L) repaired and then pick him up afterword.

We'd talked about the day back then, I'd mentioned Wednesday and he corrected me, Thursday. I guess I just ignored it.

The alarm is already set for tomorrow morning.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Who says the Internet isolates us?

I've spent the last few hours laying on the couch, TV on, but mostly ignored, surfing and carrying on multiple conversations with my brothers (pulling in a friend to answer one of my brother's questions about streaming internet on a new TV), a friend/former client and some current clients.

It's kind of like sitting in the family room. Some of the family are watching TV, others have some music going on their headphones, there are a couple of sporadic, varying conversations going on. I even have the new commercials via Emails from the various companies I patronize - Special AirTran deals to the Carribean! Jersey Mike's One Day Specials! The phone rings and you answer, be it brother, friend or client. Repeat all as the evening progresses.

And it turns out, the former client is a returning client. Communication is a good thing whatever the medium.

Real Live Breaking News

RTW News Service. Atlanta.

There's a bunch of stuff on news sites today about the two Delta pilots not nodding off at 37,000 feet. None of what I saw reported what the NTSB put out about mid-day (thanks to one of my brothers for his heads up). I think I believe the pilots, though I don't feel all warm and fuzzy about their attention level (I don't use my laptop while I'm driving, I'm thinking you shouldn't while flying a big plane):


Sent: Monday, October 26, 2009 11:39 AM




National Transportation Safety Board
Washington, DC 20594

October 26, 2009


In its continuing investigation of an Airbus A320 that overflew the Minneapolis-St Paul International/Wold-Chamberlain Airport (MSP), the National Transportation
Safety Board has developed the following factual information: On Wednesday, October 21, 2009, at 5:56 pm mountain daylight time, an Airbus A320, operating as Northwest Airlines (NWA) flight 188, became a NORDO (no radio communications) flight at 37,000 feet. The flight was operating as a Part 121 flight from San Diego International Airport, San Diego, California (SAN) to MSP with 144 passengers, 2 pilots and 3 flight attendants.

Both pilots were interviewed separately by NTSB investigators yesterday in Minnesota. The following is an overview of the interviews:

* The first officer and the captain were interviewed for over 5 hours combined.

* The Captain, 53 years old, was hired in 1985. His total flight time is about 20,000 hours, about 10,000 hours of A-320 time of which about 7,000 was as pilot in command.

* The First Officer, 54 years old, was hired in 1997. His total flight time is about 11,000 hours, and has about 5,000 hours on the A-320.

* Both pilots said they had never had an accident, incident or violation.

* Neither pilot reported any ongoing medical conditions.

* Both pilots stated that they were not fatigued. They were both commuters, but they had a 19-hour layover in San Diego just prior to the incident flight. Both said they did not fall asleep or doze during the flight.

* Both said there was no heated argument.

* Both stated there was a distraction in the cockpit. The pilots said there was a concentrated period of discussion where they did not monitor the airplane or calls from ATC even though both stated they heard conversation on the radio. Also, neither pilot noticed messages that were sent by company dispatchers. They were discussing the new monthly crew flight scheduling system that was now in place as a result of the
merger. The discussion began at cruise altitude.

* Both said they lost track of time.

* Each pilot accessed and used his personal laptop computer while they discussed the airline crew flight scheduling procedure. The first officer, who was more familiar with the procedure was providing instruction to the captain. The use of personal computers on the flight deck is prohibited by company policy.

* Neither pilot was aware of the airplane's position until a flight attendant called about 5 minutes before they were scheduled to land and asked what was their estimated time of arrival (ETA). The captain said, at that point, he looked at his primary flight display for an ETA and realized that they had passed MSP. They made contact with ATC and were given vectors back to MSP.

* At cruise altitude - the pilots stated they were using cockpit speakers to listen to radio communications, not their headsets.

* When asked by ATC what the problem was, they replied "just cockpit distraction" and "dealing with company issues".

* Both pilots said there are no procedures for the flight attendants to check on the pilots during flight.

The Safety Board is interviewing the flight attendants and other company personnel today. Air traffic control communications have been obtained and are being analyzed.
Preliminary data from the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) revealed the following:

* The CVR recording was 1/2 hour in length.

* The cockpit area microphone channel was not working during this recording. However, the crew's headset microphones recorded their conversations.

* The CVR recording began during final approach, and continued while the aircraft was at the gate.

* During the hours immediately following the incident flight, routine aircraft maintenance provided power to the CVR for a few minutes on several occasions, likely
recording over several minutes of the flight.

The FDR captured the entire flight which contained several hundred aircraft parameters including the portion of flight where there was no radio communication from the flight crew. Investigators are examining the recorded parameters to see if any information regarding crew activity during the portion of flight where radio contact was lost can be obtained.

The Safety Board's investigation continues.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Things I Don't Know

Why when nothing is bad, do I have a bad mood?

Is it because I have less time to recover that I'm more concerned about this recession than the six or seven that I've lived through as a grown up?

Who the hell cares if the President plays games with boys rather than girls? (With respect to one of the games he plays, I'm in a deep rut. As to basketball, I wouldn't want to play even if it was a game with girls.)

How to do stuff fast when cooking (lo mein in a wok was marginal today).

Why is it easier to get up on the weekend than M through F?

Why does Netflix Streaming now refuse to stream a movie when there's a DVD in the machine when it used to do so?

Related, why do so many movie DVDs change the way you go back to the movie from the "special features?"

And while we're on that subject, why does clicking the main remote on either TV I have sometimes turn on everything and turn off everything and sometimes not?

Rodney King had a point, why haven't we paid attention all these years?

Why do people interrupt a conversation or your response to what they have just said to you?

And on that subject, why do people talk loudly in a place where you shouldn't?

There will be no discussion of driving today.

It's late October and there are still bugs inside, though they're little bitty ones?

Wouldn't you think that a lawyer and an electrician would think to look for the wall plate that actually controlled the ceiling fan before they took apart another wall plate, a ceiling light and the ceiling fan before discovering that the people that cleaned the carpets after the minor flood had switched off the wall plate that actually controlled the ceiling fan? (There's a back story, if you're interested, tell me and I'll write a comment.)

Why have I lost the ability to read other than obvious break on a green? And even when I can see it, why do I misjudge the amount? Actually, I know the answer to this one, I'm really sucking at golf, I don't practice, I don't take my time and I don't concentrate.

As the days get shorter, why do I not get tired when I did when they were longer; and, still wake up when I did when the were longer; and, thus am tired when I get up? See above, this is a M to F phenomenon, which may provide an answer.

Why do the questions get longer the longer I type?

Thursday, October 22, 2009


The title seems to describe something that is a theme in a couple of matters I've been dealing with lately.

Here's the problem, I can't give any details since they are legal matters. We'll see how I do.

I consulted with someone on a problem. What the person wanted to do wasn't do-able (doable?). There was a possible alternative that I suggested the person explore and I referred the person to a lawyer that specialized in the alternative area of law. No dice. I also suggested that the person may be able to negotiate a reasonable resolution to the problem. No dice.

A period of time passes and I get a couple of voicemails asking that I call. I do and get a "the telco customer is not available...." with no option to leave a voicemail. Today I get a voicemail that says "is this client abandonment?" So I write a letter to the person and outline what I had suggested and the person had rejected, suggesting that the person talk to another lawyer. And I really shouldn't have made the suggestion, grief will ensue for any lawyer that gets the call.

I have another case where the other side and its lawyer ("its" is easier than "the person") will not get down to the issue that is at the heart of the dispute. " I understand what you are saying; but, there are facts that go both ways." Of course there are facts that are in dispute, if there weren't there wouldn't be any lawyers involved. Then they act like the facts only go their way, which isn't going to get us anywhere. Getting to the heart of the matter will cost them money; but, delay will cost them more to my mind.

Then there's a third case where the other side (we won't personify or corporatize, if that's a word, this one) is between a rock and a hard place. Consider my side either the rock or the hard place. The middleman would love for my client to cave to the demands of the third party. But the third party is being totally unreasonable and the middleman knows it. The trouble is the middleman's bread is buttered by the third party and won't press them to get reasonable.

In all three instances there seems to be a hope against hope that by avoiding reality, reality will go away. Avoidance can make me money; but, in the long run it costs people and "its" more than they would spend if they met problems head on. I've been guilty of avoidance, I hope these cases teach me that it's a bad idea.

Private note: Still want to be a lawyer?

The Cost of Saving a Dollar

Like most passenger vehicles, my small SUV has moldings on the sides to protect against bumps by buggies, car doors and the like. They are fairly tall, maybe ten inches or so. After four years, the doors have been knocked a few times, something to be expected. But, I looked at the passenger side today. There are eight little chips, each exposing the white interior of the molding in sharp contrast to the black paint (Obsidian Black!). I guess it's time to go get some touch up paint.

But, if Hyundai had spent, what a buck, and made the molded pieces with impregnated color, I wouldn't have to do anything.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Morals, Math and Media Moguls

With no edits, from a comment thread on the (de)merits of Comcast on


October 19th, 2009
7:14 pm

My hubby is an electronic wiz, so thankfully, we managed to get Comcast cable and internet without paying for it for over a year. Eventually, we decided to pay for the service. Since then, my internet has been slower (that’s when it actually works) the television changing is slow, and on some channels I can’t get a decent picture to save my life. It took a week to get a contractor to come out and finally hook it up legally and when he came, the box was broken so we had to actually go to the store ourselves, or have another tech bring out another box which we would have had to pay for despite it not being our fault. The contractor was nice, but between him and Comcast, one hand never knew what the other was doing.

Hubby and I plan to go back to 'borrowing' the service for free, since when we pay for it, the service is crap."

I've always said you have to be careful with those women that use the word hubby. I wonder if Stef and Hubby have kids; and, if they do, can they tell me how many stolen cable connections there are in a neighborhood with 32 houses on 42 streets? They may well, based on the sentence structure in the comment - not a misspelling and there's only one misplaced comma - if Stef is as good at math as she is at grammar and the kids talk to the kids of the other thieving parents in the neighborhood.... How's that for abstract thinking? (If you're new around here, read yesterday's post.)

How do you know someone isn't a journalist?

There's an uproar about the Obama Administration and Fox News lately, more about that later.

So what's the answer to the title's question? I'm waiting. Give up?

OK, if you do commercials you aren't a journalist. You have to go back to the days of Edward R. Murrow and John Cameron Swayzie to find an exception to my test, I think.

The icons of the broadcast networks back in the sixties through now didn't and don't shill for Ruths' Chris Steakhouse (Hannity), logo ties (Rush) or anything else.

Now, mind you, this isn't a binary thing. Just because you don't do ads, doesn't make you a journalist. Exhibit A: Lou Dobbs.

Another clue can be had by finding out if someone does promos for "freedom concerts," whatever it was that Beck promoted a few weeks ago, "town hall meetings" that only have participants from one point of view, and so on and so on.

Now, that said, you can be a journalist and be a pundit in your spare time, though I think you risk your credibility. See Mara Liasson, Juan Williams.

All that said, the Obama Administration is not compelling in its recent attacks against Fox News for not being a news organization. It's true that Hannity, O'Reilly, et al. are nothing more than entertaining (to some) shills for right wing positions. But, it's also true that the news shows on Fox are for the most part, straight news. (I'd love to hear what Brit Hume has to say about his colleagues at home with friends after a pop or two.)

And too, the other networks are as guilty in skewing their non-news shows. Exhibit A: Lou Dobbs (there he is again). Exhibit B: watch some of the stuff on MSNBC.

A more honest and effective attack by the Administration would be against media in general's love of talking-head yelling, masquerading as public discourse. I'd suggest it announce that it won't have representatives appear on any of the talking head shows on any network. They'll appear on the hard news shows only and respond only to temperate questions with temperate answers - no spin by either party to the interview. Oh hell, that means the Administration has no representatives to appear - it's Axelrod's, Emmanuel's and the other's job to spin, just as the Hannitys spin their views. Never mind.

UPDATE: I may have been wrong about Fox and its news shows.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Teaching for tests, or testing teaching?

There's a short piece in the New York Times today about a charter school taking kindergartners to a suburban farm to learn that bacon comes from pigs and eggs are laid by chickens so as to be able to take achievement tests that start in the third grade.

A problem that stymied urban kids: if there 42 corn stalks in 32 rows, how many corn stalks are there? City kids screwed up because they didn't know what a corn stalk was.

The story mentioned that kids in New Mexico were flummoxed by test questions that had a context that included escalators and city blocks.

Beyond the fact that the teachers apparently aren't teaching logic and analytical skills, it bothers me that by the time city or rural kids get to the point that they are taking achievement tests they haven't been exposed between home and school to anything that isn't in their neighborhood and they are now being exposed only to give them a leg up on an achievement test.

I was a city kid that had the advantage of having two relatives with farms with in driving distance of home (Hedy: South Lyons and Milford). At an early age, I had no problem with chickens, eggs, pigs, bacon, escalators and running around the block. But, I had no exposure to the Great Wall of China, whales, ghosts, the planets in the solar system (they lied to me back then about Pluto) and so on.

I didn't know about them until my parents and teachers gave me access to books that told me about the greater world. And they didn't give me the books so that I could pass some test at the end of the school year (we took Iowa Achievement back in my grade school days).

Maybe this "teaching to the test' that I hear more and more about is a good thing; but, it isn't how I learned. It seems backwards to me. Shouldn't you start with deciding what people need to know, teach it, then figure out a way to determine if the teaching was good and then if the kids got it?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Living in Georgia, it's always good to have other governments to look down upon

Here's a pretty good summary of the guy in Louisiana that wouldn't marry an inter-racial couple. As has been said many times before, you just can't make this stuff up.

Throw away post: And what do you think about Balloon Boy?

I caught a bit of the drama yesterday; and, this morning I learned of the huge controversy about whether Falcon's (who would do that to a kid) parents staged the "tragedy."

I don't care too much either way. I do feel a bit tainted by having read the "Entertainment" section of to get what I know about this national obsession.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Some things I want that I probably won't get

Universal drivers for stuff that connects to computers. Back story: Why doesn't someone write a program that will connect my HP Laserjet 1000, my Xerox Documate 510, my Canon something or other digital camera and a few other things to my Mac computers. I'll give you some money, really, I will. HP, Xerox and Canon don't care about me; and, in the event they don't know it, I won't be buying their products until they do. Isn't there some smart computer programmer out there that could write the little baby programs and sell them? Am I missing something or is there some money out here to be had?

And, I want website czar that makes websites quit doing annoying things. My czar would make take me back to the main page rather than an unkown IP address which freezes when I'm accessing from my phone. He or she would make and many other sites have a button at the bottom of the end of the last page of a multipage story that would take me back to the page that I went to the story from.

And speaking of, isn't there anyone there that realizes the interstitial ads when I click on a story are annoying, and even more annoying when I see them again when I click back through the pages to get where I started? Don't tell the companies that pay you for these things; but, I don't "see" them; I've trained my brain to look for the "close" icon, no matter where you move it.

Why do I have to click on a story, and then click again to see the rest of it? Yeah, you want more page views; but, don't the people that advertise with you know you are manipulating the numbers?

Why have online papers gone away from having a place to click to get "today's paper?" You have to wade through the online sections and not get what you would see in the paper paper.

A slam at Android (Google), I send a text to three people, the replies don't come back to the three people thread, they come back to a new or old thread from each of the three people. I really don't like threads, put the stuff in my inbox, I'll handle it from there. And speaking of inboxes, Android really doesn't have one that I can find for Emails. Once I've looked at an Email, it disappears, only to be found by a search. Why?

Another slam at Android, why isn't there a way to turn off updates for an application? I installed Shop Savvy, an application that lets you take a picture of a product's UPC bar code and find out places it's sold and prices. The program has a new update that adds ads that I don't want and I can't get the phone to quit telling me about the update.

And, unrelated, why didn't DeKalb County fill in the two foot by three foot square hole someone dug in the right lane of North Druid Hills Road, about a quarter mile north of Lavista, prior to my hitting it with my left front wheel at about 4:00 p.m. today?

Why do none of the headlines mention Microsoft?

T-Mobile is taking a big hit for losing its Sidekick phone's users' data; though, it didn't really lose it, Microsoft the owner and operator of the servers lost it.

Yes, T-Mobile has the contracts with the users and is culpable for having entrusted the data with Microsoft, it having bought a company called Danger. I suppose that's a trendy name; but, to my mind, it's kind of like putting your money in Joe's Bank, would you?

People are pissed at T-Mobile and most of them probably have a Windows computer. And yes, I'm a bit out of sorts when it comes to MS this year having spent upwards of a week and a couple of thousand bucks getting rid of it after it ate the data on my office computer.

And what's with these people anyway? No backups? They deserve what they got, kind of.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Me is hopeful that whomever reads this post doesn't like this title

This is an offshoot of my "another word I don't like" posts.

I, myself have an undergraduate major in English and can't explain all the transitive, intransitive, intensive, reflexive rules or how to how to choose proper pronouns for subjects and objects on a formal basis. There are rules I follow and those that I don't follow. If you don't accept the following, OK; but, look it up, I'm right.

"Me and Joe." Don't do it. Forget the nouns' relationship with the verb, take away Joe in the sentence, if you would then say me, have at it; but, you wouldn't, so you can't say "me and Joe went to the store." And you can't substitute myself for either me or I. You have to use it with I, but not me. Besides, if you say "Joe and myself" or even "I, myself," though it's proper, you sound like a New York politician.

Hopeful. This one bugs me and I go out of my way to avoid it; but, you aren't allowed to say "hopefully people will understand the wisdom of this post." You have to say "it is to be hoped..." even if it sounds dumb.

Here's the one that I sometimes follow and sometimes don't. "Whom do you love?" is proper usage; but, rock and roll aside, it's stilted and I don't like it. I only write the word whom, I never say it. And I only use the word if I'm writing a legal brief, not a letter or an Email. Use of the word whom depends on who, and how, you're communicating with, to my mind. And, I don't like that sentence even though I'm pretty sure who is the right form of the pronoun. And, yes you can start a sentence with and.

It's a good thing I'm typing this post in a text editor rather than Word; the latter would go crazy.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Make sure you're guilty when you go to Guantanamo

From a article:

"According to the New York Times, Obama administration officials [are] worried that even if Ahmed was not dangerous when he was first detained, Guantanamo itself might have made him so, turning him against the United States."

Ahmed is one of the a number of Guantanamo detainees who judges have found the government has utterly failed to prove should have ever been detained who must be released immediately. The article is about the fact that they aren't being released. But, the quote struck me. We grabbed an innocent person, held him for a bunch of years in a cage. A judge tells us to let him out and we are worried that since we treated him inhumanely, we now can't can't let him out because he'll try to get back at us?

Did Obama just keep all the crazy Bush people; or, is it something about being in the executive branch that causes people to be stupid? And now, a bit more thought, they're probably right to worry. Had I been sitting in a cage in Cuba since the start of the decade and finally after fight after fight to be heard, been told that there was no reason to hold me even a day, I might have a chip on my shoulder.

The logical conclusion is to banish all falsely accused prisoners to a desert supermax prison for the rest of their lives. We'll just let out the guilty ones after they've served their sentences. They of course are rehabilitated.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

As It Turns Out

There's been a lot of media on Don't Ask Don't Tell this last week.

President Obama gave another inspired speech last night telling an LGBT group that he was with them all the way on passing a law to get rid of the half a loaf compromise on gay people in the military.

Bill Maher had a great "New Rules" diatribe on his show last Friday (you can read it at Huffington Post) saying that it was time that the President fulfilled his campaign promise and signed an executive order reversing Bill Clinton's order creating the problem.

I was ready to pile on; and, then I wandered around the Internet looking for a quote or two to build on.

Damned facts.

As it turns out, after Clinton's executive order, Congress enacted a statute codifying the silly policy. The statute has been given the Supreme Court's blessing. It's a stupid law, that Obama can't "poof" away by signing his name on an executive order.

How come no one is saying that? I hate the term "mainstream media;" but, not one place I went to that covered the issue (except two decidedly obscure sites) mentioned that small little fact. Why isn't Obama stressing that he can't he can't sign his name and make the silliness go away?
And, why is the gay community giving him shit over something that he can't change without the support of a Congress that wants nothing to do with the issue?

As it turns out, he's doing what he can do without much in the way of power or leverage.

I apologize for my former ire.

Water War

Here in the Southeast, specifically, Georgia, Florida and Alabama, we're in the midst of a water war.

You see, much of the water used in North Georgia, East Alabama and the Florida Panhandle comes from a watershed that starts in the Appalachian Mountains, making its way into the Chattahoochee River basin to Lake Lanier and then down the river and its tributaries to the Gulf of Mexico.

Back in the 1950's, the Army Corps of Engineers built a dam on the Chattahoochee north of Atlanta creating Lake Lanier for a number of purposes, one of which was not the water needs of Atlanta. That became a problem as Atlanta grew and diverted more and more water from the basin.

The three States have been suing each other over water use for the past decade or so. This summer, Georgia got the short end of the legal stick when a U.S. District Judge ruled that Atlanta has no legal right to water from the basin, as that wasn't one of the purposes of the creation of the Lanier reservoir. We've got three years to make a deal, if we don't, he says he'll order that Atlanta revert to taking 1970's amounts of water from the basin. Atlanta's population has grown by about 150% since 1970, though it only takes about a percent of the basin's water.

So will the water tap in the kitchen slow to a trickle in 1012? Of course it won't, a deal will be done among the three States and confirmed by Congress. (Or we'll run a big hose to the Tennessee River that used to be part of Georgia until a surveying error way back when.)

Oh, and if you think this is a regional problem, think again, there are 27 other states that have reservoirs that weren't built to supply drinking water, our fight will becoming to a river near you.

Friday, October 09, 2009


I'm listening to the Newshour on PBS. Some guy just said "he hasn't done anything yet!" The Chairman of the Republican party said something like his "star power cheated deserving candidates."

I'm thinking he got the prize for not being W who bulled his way through foreign policy on the unspoken slogan "our way or the highway."

Is the prize for achievement or promise or hope? If the first, they're smoking something in Oslo. If for the either of the latter two, maybe. And maybe, the prize will cause Obama to think again about domestic warrentless wiretaps, Guantanamo, and engaging in yet another unwinable war in Afghanistan.

In his speech this morning he said we can't "do it alone." But that is exactly what he seems to be about to do in Afghanistan.

It must be tough to be the Messiah.

One upon a time in America

The title of the post is nonsensical.

The post is an experiment to see if Blogger will play nice with a text editor, in this case Aquamacs, whatever it is, since it will not do so with Word or Word for Mac.

Now I'm typing in Blogger to see what if anything happens. I've also edited the first paragraph.

Here goes...

Damn it worked, assuming this comes through to the post too. I'm too happy to try a hyperlink and face crushing defeat.

Oh, and full and grateful credit to Pos for pointing me to the cause of and solution to my recent failures.

What I Should Have Said

I swear, when I wrote the “Of Crosses and Constitiutions” post on Wednesday, I wanted to make a couple of quick points.

1. The Supreme Court has at best a “muddled jurisprudence” with respect to the religion part of the First Amendment

2. Whatever it decides to do with the “desert cross” case it heard this week, it won’t much matter and won’t have any normative effect on how people view government involvement with religion. (For a much better description of the Court’s struggles with the case and the amendment, and a few laughs, read Dahlia Lithwick’s piece currently on

3. Regardless of what the First Amendment does or should do, I think government should rebuild the, now out of fashion, wall of separation between itself and religion.

Well, the comments to the post indicate that my concerns with the intersection of government and religion are with a matter that is a mere nuisance, a horrendous waste of time, something of minor irritation to non-Christians and their sympathizers, who should quit their whining. (Yes, to an extent I’m twisting what you said to set up what I have to say, don’t get bent out of shape.)

But, I still think it’s important that when government picks and chooses among people or groups of people, whether the distinction for disparate treatment is religion, color, place of origin or otherwise, that the Courts step in and rein in the majority by applying those pesky amendments in the Constitution along with its due process and equal protection requirements.

I’ve been a lawyer a long time, almost certainly too long a time. Put bluntly, I don’t care what the Framers’ intent was with respect to the effect of the words they chose two and half centuries ago on the societal disputes we face today. I do care, deeply about the framework they had the genius to craft to make sure the majority, whatever the majority is at any given time with respect to any given issue, can’t trample the time’s or issue’s minority.

I and most of you that visit here have the distinct advantage of being middle or upper middle class, coming from stable social and economic backgrounds, having genes that gave us the “right” skin color. We are the current inhabitants of the Framers’ social and economic stratum. (Even if we are a step or two removed, we have aspirations to their stratum and a pre-disposition to approve of our “betters’” behavior.) Thus, a symbol here and there isn’t a big deal, right?

To move away from religion for a bit, a story is in order. When I was a baby lawyer, I had occasion to go to the Rockdale County, Georgia Courthouse to file something. The area is now an Atlanta bedroom community and was starting to be one back then. In the main lobby there was a large plaque honoring our nation’s dead in our wars this century, a section for each war, each of which had a sub-section for “colored.” For all I know, that plaque could still be there, this is Georgia.

Was I justified in being shocked by the separate lists? After all, the Founding Fathers had slaves. Isn’t the plaque a harmless vestige of a less enlightened time? Are “colored” people and their sympathizers being overly sensitive about something that really doesn’t harm anyone?

Isn’t the plaque just another cross in the desert, erected in a time that we didn’t think about the U.S. being multi-cultural, multi-racial and multi-religious? The cross builders and the plaque installers had the same purpose, honor our nation’s war dead. They did it in a way perfectly in tune with the time. Then and now, most of the people in this country are white and Christian. Does that give the government license to favor one race or one religion?

Women have been traditionally subject to being “put in their place;” indeed, the GOP saw the need for that just this week. And, that’s OK because the GOP isn’t the government as much as it thinks it should be. Gays? “Don’t ask, don’t tell” a government policy. Sanctity of Marriage laws are government laws that discriminate between groups of people. Does the Constitution protect women and gays? Sometimes. It should do so all the time.

Consideration of such issues by our Courts is not a nuisance, a waste of time or giving in to whining minorities. It is at the heart of what the Constitution promises.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

I'm in an ornery liberal mood today

I know the following link isn't a hyperlink and doesn't have a catchy overlay, as I've said too often, Mac and Google and Word don't like each other.

Anyway, there are some scary Goppers out there as detailed in the non-link. Put the Speaker of the House "in her place?" A Senator who's a man, not needing maternity coverage, being opposed to insurance companies providing it? The list goes on.

Obama, I'm not thrilled with; but, he's a saint when compared with the troglodytes on the other side.

Relevant News

Somewhere in the past couple of days I saw a story about a guy whose minimum payment on a credit card went from about $300 to something like $900.

My immediate reaction: damn, what does he owe?

I got a bill on a Visa card today. I owe something like $350. That would normally result in a $10 or $15 minimum payment, not a problem as I pay as I go. Today, the minimum payment was a bit over $60, a four to six fold increase.

I'm thinking there's a lot of bill shock hitting installment payment America about now.

A friend of mine who has perfect credit got a notice from an unnamed bank a month or so ago telling him they'd cut his credit limit by something like half. He was of course a poor client because, like me, he paid what he owed each month. His reaction was to cancel his card.

If you increase the minimum by that much and cut the limits like they are doing, aren't you foregoing a lot of interest? I suppose I should look at the legislation or read some news reports to find out why the banks are getting rid of an income source. And if they increase the minimum to the extent they are and cut the limits, aren't they guaranteed a bunch of defaults? I wish I understood finance.

Is there another financial meltdown on its way that I don't understand?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Of Crosses and Constitutions

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...."

The first clause of the first amendment to the Constitution causes more, to my mind "low grade," trouble than all the rest.

The Supreme Court is hearing argument today about a cross in a park in the Mohave Desert. It seems it's been there for a long time and a park ranger was always troubled by it when he went by. After he retired, he went to the ACLU which was also troubled. The Park Service (or some similar federal entity) agreed and planned to remove it. Some people in Congress didn't like that and passed a law to convey the property to the VFW on the condition that it maintain the property and the cross. The ACLU and the retired ranger sued. They won in the trial court and in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, bringing us to today.

Did Congress violate the First Amendment? Of course it did. It went out of its way to preserve a religious symbol on public property by making the property "private." But you say, what about "In God We Trust," all the crosses on headstones in Arlington Cemetery and so on, and so on.

Were it up to me, I'd read the literal language of the amendment and enforce it. God and religion are not public matters and government should keep it's nose out of any matter that bumps up against them other than protecting our ability to freely exercise our flavor of faith. But that horse is long out of the barn.

So, every decade or so, the Supremes will decide where the slippery slope of establishment and prohibition lies and come down at a point they judge to be just up hill of the start of the slide.

Will it kill me if the cross stays put? No. Will it bother me if the cross is removed? Not at all. Will I be interested in the Supreme's Opinion that decides what happens? Nope, it will be tortured and of little or no value in deciding where the slippery slope starts next time around.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Why isn't plastic wrap an inch or so wider?

Not much more to this post than the title. I hate having to be very, very careful pulling the stuff out of the box and not get any wrinkles in it; because, if you get a wrinkle you have to get it out to get it to just, just go over the edges of a plate or a pan. And even if you don't get a wrinkle in it, you've got maybe a quarter of inch to spare. Another inch or two in width would make all the difference.

Can I patent a width?

Another Word I Don't Like

Presser, as in "at his presser following the game, the coach said...." Too insidy and cute.

Lawyers are as guilty as journalists: "I've got a hearing tomorrow morning and a depo after lunch." Deposition is only six more letters. And "rogs" for interrogatories, way too insidy and not very cute.

I guess that makes three more words I don't like.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Minor Torture

I'm hungry.

I have a chuck roast simmering away, wafting smells, very good smells from the kitchen.

It needs to simmer for another 45 minutes, then I have to put in the carrots and potatoes, another 45 minutes.

If it tastes anyway near how it smells, wow. I don't know if I'm going to make it.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Food Artistry

On the first Thursday of the past five or six months, some friends and I have been having dinner at a restaurant that none of us have been to before. Choice rotates, as do the results.

We’ve had good and bad food (not much of the latter); good and OK service (more of the latter than I’d like); and, last night, some of the best food and service I’ve ever had.

My friend the cop chose Abattoir, which has been open for a few months. It’s owned by the people that operate Bacchanalia, Star Provisions and Floataway CafĂ© here in Atlanta. (Bacchanalia consistently is rated as the best or near best restaurant in town, Floataway is highly rated and Star Provisions is a retail market selling the food used by the restaurants.)

But, this isn’t meant to be a restaurant review.

What I want to talk about is having a dinner that was perfect in all of its parts. There were no “wow” dishes. All of the appetizers and entrees were very subtle. Little flavors and textures combined to be something that was the ultimate expression of each dish. Each dish and course was served unobtrusively – service that you don’t realize was present until after the fact.

All this didn’t come cheap (though we could have cut the bill significantly by not drinking wine or drinking less of it). But, hours later (and even now as I type this) I was remembering and enjoying the meal. That is art, every bit as much as a painting, a film, a novel or a play.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Belief and Hitting and Pitching

We were missing the latter two nouns of the title in the last couple of days. The Rockies won today and we are left to the proverbial "next year" which doesn't look too bad.

We will return to regular programming tomorrow, with a new picture, which, I'm not sure.

One to go; and, a question

This is a two part post.

First, now I know why people use the word believe. Despite all evidence, you believe the Braves are going to win their next four games, the Rockies are going to lose all of their games and on Monday night we'll beat them in a "play-in" game.

The real post:

It just occurred to me that I may be doing something stupid since I've had a Mac.

I have a Xerox Documate 510 Scanner, a wonderful little machine. Unfortunately Xerox can't see its way clear to providing Mac drivers and I can't use it with the Mac.

Since I can't send scanned PDF's now, on Monday, I sent a Word document of a brief to the lawyer on the other side as a courtesy rather than serving it just by mail as her response time was short. While there isn't anything in the .doc file by way of revisions that I'm worried about anybody seeing, as a lawyer, it probably isn't a very good idea to send out a Word file for the world to see how it came to be.

I assume just translating it to a PDF file won't help as someone with a full version of Adobe can open it up (?). Is there a way to lock or wipe everything in a PDF or Word file except the final version?