Sunday, May 30, 2010

What is so hard about this? UPDATED

I’ve been seeing a lot of sound bites and reading bits of politician and military brass talk about the “rush” to pass a law repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

Even those in favor of the repeal seem to think that it’s imperative that the Pentagon poll the troops to determine the “implications” as put by Colin Powell.

The implications are that some people are going to be pissed. Other people are going to be happy. Neither has anything to do with whether the law should be repealed.

The one red herring that might have validity, were it not a red herring, is that repeal would damage our national defense. Do you really think that people in the military don’t pretty much know who’s gay and who’s straight? Does anyone think that self-outing by said gay people will cause a collapse of our military?

The military, kicking and screaming, absorbed black people into unsegregated ranks. I’m betting two or three of them every now and again have been gay. The military is still around and pretty effective within the bounds set by the politicians.

Women can’t serve in the military because….. Women can’t serve in combat positions because…. Yep, women are soldiers and the Republic hasn’t collapsed.

Just do it.

UPDATE: I got an Email from a manager at suggesting I link to it's video about the current debate about delaying repeal of DADT. Here's the link:

You know you're at a good party when...

the beer coolers have labels telling you what’s in them. Then too, when you get to take bits of pork shoulder (marinated over night, grilled for a few hours and baked for a few hours) from the cutting board as the chef is carving. Or, you’re escorted to the gorgeous back porch to look at the backyard woods. No need to talk about the conversations.

Or, you can just accept when Fermi and PDM invite you to a party: good.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Rand Paul, Babies and Dark-skinned People

Rand Paul is expanding his list of people deserving of discrimination.

When last we heard from him he was back-pedaling from his attack on the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Now, he wants to build an underground electric fence along the Mexican border “with helicopter stations to respond quickly to breaches of the border.” And if that doesn’t work? He’s a bit p.o.’d at the little brown kids born after their moms sneak across the border. “We’re the only country that I know that allows people to come in illegally, have a baby, and then that baby becomes a citizen. And I think that should stop.” The birthing, conferring citizenship, both?

“All persons born … in the United States … are citizens of the United States….” Homework for Dr. Paul: from what document have I taken that quote? Hint: it came into existence because of some of our ancestors’ antipathy to people of color, currently being exhibited by Dr. Rand.

And if electrocution, helicopter machine gun fire and sending the babies crawling back across the border doesn’t work, Dr. Paul supports “making English the official language of all documents and contracts.” * You know, to rub it in that they’re different than we are.

*(I could go on about the this odd sentence. Documents and contracts? Not speech, unless it’s an oral contract?)

Finally, enjoy your Memorial Day weekend. Remember that some of the people in the graves with the little American flags waving over them that we honor had brown and black and yellow skin; indeed, some weren’t citizens.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Something of "No Nevermind"

Though the title has little to do with this post, I like the phrase.

As to the something that’s not important, I got a response to a Freedom of Information Act request today from a federal agency. It’s been some time since I’ve had any dealings with an agency; but, it’s nice to see that some things don’t change.

The feds, though they’ve started using computers instead of typewriters, still use a Pica typeface. They’ve managed to duplicate the somewhat faded look of a letter done on a typewriter that will need a new ribbon soon. They do not use line justification, nor do they indent paragraphs. Most nostalgic, instead of typing the date on the letter, they have a little stamp, one of those things with separate rollers for date and month and year (in that order, not like the rest of us with month, date and year). The date is always a little off-line and has a different typeface than the month and year. They are using recycled paper now, the watermark says so.

That’s it, you may resume surfing, or if pressed, get back to work.

Have you dined with us before?

“My name is Joe and I’ll be your server tonight. Have you dined with us before? (No pause.) We have several great specials. First, there’s………………………….. "

Three or four are rattled off, reminding me of me back in grade school when I had to recite memorized Bible passages and I could only do it fast. Stop me and I had to start again.

Two questions. If you don’t want to hear the specials since you have your stomach set on the veal parmesan, how do you politely cut Joe off. And, if you do want to hear what Joe is saying, how do you politely get him to slow down?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ignore me, pay attention to my clothes

Rand Paul having put his foot in his mouth last week a couple of times, followed the tradition of politicians who try to create an image that is attractive to the electorate but has nothing to do with their ability to lead.

Yes, I'm a little goofy with the anti-Civil Rights Act stuff; but, look, I'm a doctor!

W did it with his look at me, I'm a fighter pilot pose.

Perhaps most infamously, Michael Dukakis having been labeled as weak on defense, when we were still contending with the Soviet Union, donned military gear and tried to channel Patton but could only pull off Donald Sutherland as Sgt. Oddball in Kelly's Heroes.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


President Obama wants a compromise on ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t” tell. I didn’t read the article. (If you're a Facebook friend, I posted a link to it yesterday.)

But I don’t need to read the article.

You’re one of the Israelites in ancient Egypt. Want a compromise on your slave status? It took a plague, a few first born sons and a parting of the sea.

You’re a Jew in Europe in the Thirties or Forties? Thinking a compromise with the Nazi’s is going to set you free?

Black person from 1600 something until say sometime in the 1990’s in America? What got you to where you are wasn’t compromise, it was the judicial system dragging reluctant politicians, dragging violently opposed people….

The man is doing nothing to live up to the socially liberal cred he pushed when running for office.

Guantanamo? We’re working on that, there’s a compromise with the GOP in the works.

He never did “come out” for gay marriage, probably due to the Black conservative Christian block he didn’t want to alienate. He’s kind of OK with civil unions.

You need to reach a consensus and compromise on some things. Health care, financial reform, OK. Foreign policy, less OK, but I understand it.

Human rights? It seems to me to be a binary choice. You’re “fur it or agin it.” Obama is a fence sitter, waiting for the people on both sides of the fence to tear it down and join hands. Sometimes you just have to tear it down.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Another Short Conversation With Annie

Over time I’ve become insular. I like what I like, or I tell myself that.

My last post was about my less than expansive selections on TV; and, I suppose I took a little pride in my professed non-snobbishness.

So, based on never having heard, and having only seen a few pictures (though quite regularly) on the Internet, I dismissed Lady GaGa.

“She was accepted as a student at Julliard. Her lyrics are brilliant.” I have no idea whether the latter statement is true. I don’t know that declining to go to Julliard is a credential.

But, I do know that I need to expand my horizons, though it might lead to disappointment rather than pleasure. Staying within my métier is comfortable and safe. Moving beyond it is unsettling but just may lead to small delights, with the necessary failures.

Baby steps.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


I’ll be missing my last chance to watch a first run episode of Lost tonight. I’ve never see an episode of 24. I watched Everyone Loves Raymond once while at a brother’s house. It wasn’t bad. Friends, part of an episode when I was flipping channels. I’ve probably caught parts of Seinfeld a couple of times.

I don’t think I’m a TV snob. I just gave up on episodic TV a long time ago. My last “must see” network TV was Fox on Sundays with The Simpsons and Futurama.

I suppose I miss some good stuff; but, I just lost the habit. And given the best invention of all time (other than the computer) the DVR, coupled with cable/satellite and Netflix, there’s way too much stuff available to occupy my time.

UPDATE: Comedy Central is airing new episodes of Futurama starting in June.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Just Call Me Sweetie

Some years back, I lived in Miami. Most Sunday mornings, I went to a deli for breakfast, my fat Sunday Miami Herald in hand. Wolfie”s, Pumpernick’s and a few others.

All delis in Miami are busy on a Sunday morning and the servers, usually middle-aged women, tended to be brusk. “So, sweetie, what’ll you have?” “Refill on the coffee, hon?” “Ready for the bill, sugar?

You get the same sort of endearments from waitresses in a southern “meat and three” place, though a bit less rushed.

I was reminded of this today at lunch in an unsettling way.

A couple or three times a month I eat lunch at a place on Cheshire Bridge in Atlanta. Very good food and pretty good service. And, all of the staff and 90% of the clientele are gay.

One of the waiters always uses these endearments when talking to me. “How’s your lunch sweetie?” And I’m jarred. Not world ending jarred. Not offended. Just a touch put off. I’m secure in my heterosexuality. I’ve had a lot of gay friends and acquaintances over the years, though they don’t use terms of endearment with me, however generic and bland they may be. My gay waiter means nothing by using the terms, as did neither the Miami or meat and three waitresses. I notice the words of all three; but, I’m put off kilter only by the guy. I guess I have some social evolving to do.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

How to Spend a Really Boring Couple of Hours:

Go to the annual Atlanta Bar Association Awards Luncheon.

I applauded each time I heard applause. I’m sure the recipients of the awards were worthy, for just what, I’m not at all sure.

I did see a fellow lawyer I hadn’t seen in awhile and enjoyed a conversation.

Finally, Google Navigator: if you turn from 12th Street onto Piedmont, you don’t make a left turn after 600 yards to get to the Piedmont Driving Club of which I’m not a habitue. Rather you go over into the far right hand lane, drive about a hundred yards and pull into the fancy pillared, gated driveway where the nice police officers are blocking traffic (something I learned in my third loop of a few blocks in Midtown Atlanta).

Finally, finally, the iced tea was pretty good, the seafood crepes, not so much.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Rumination on a Subject About Which I Know Little

The subject would be stock market.

I noticed the other day that the Dow, NASDAQ and S & P go up and down in almost perfect lockstep. If the Dow is up 150 points, about a percent, the other two exchanges almost always go up the number of points that make up about one percent of their total value. What does that say about how the markets function?

Everyone noticed a couple of weeks ago when the Dow plunged a thousand points before recovering some of the loss by the closing bell. From what little I’ve read, the cause was “computer panic” due to a big trade made by a broker. Seems to me that this is a big example of an everyday problem.

From, of course, Wikipedia:

“The stock market is one of the most important sources for companies to raise money. This allows businesses to be publicly traded, or raise additional capital for expansion by selling shares of ownership of the company in a public market. The liquidity that an exchange provides affords investors the ability to quickly and easily sell securities. This is an attractive feature of investing in stocks, compared to other less liquid investments such as real estate.”

In practice, capital formation seems to be only a very small part of what the Markets do. The biggest part seems to be providing a platform for gambling among the big boys. The game they play, from my uneducated viewpoint, has little to do with the viability of the companies whose stock is used for chips. Indeed, the players seem to operate more in the roll of bookies, hedging their bets with side bets against the positions they are counseling their clients to take. Individual investors most in need of stability, are pawns in the game.

Here’s where I get dangerous. Maybe we need to get rid of the side bets. Should brokers be barred from trading for their own account? Get rid of options which seem to create volatility, not capital? Outlaw hedge funds – make your best judgment and be stuck with it, or sell what you bought at the then current price.

In short, strip the markets of the ability to any more than provide a means to offer, buy and sell company stock. Open season for MBA’s, have at me.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Pleasant Day

I forced myself to stay in bed beyond the time I woke up, a victory.

I changed the coffee to water ratio for the French press with good results.

There was a bunch of stuff on the news websites to read while drinking improved coffee.

On a whim, I played golf late as a walk-on, sucking on the front and playing well on the back.

The guy I got paired with, having never played the course, shot a four over and had the grace to cheer my good shots.

I met a friend for a drink.

I Watched the Braves blowout the Diamondbacks.

I have a nicely marinated pork chop and some corn-on-the-cob ready for dinner.

I’m not going to do the housework that needs to be done. I’m contemplating whether I’m up to taking the clothes out of the dryer and putting them on hangers. I really should, right?

It should be a good overnight - going down to the mid-Sixties with a predicted rainstorm – good sleeping.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Law at the Margins

There’s a young woman that lives in suburban Atlanta. She got pulled over and it turns out she isn’t a U.S. Citizen; so, she got to go to jail and she may be deported.

Fair enough?

She came here with her parents when she was a little kid. She did really well in school and is about to graduate, maybe given recent events, from college.

From what I’ve seen, she did lie on a form to either get in college or to get a scholarship or grant for college.

At just what point should she have upped and returned to her country of origin so as to remain a pure and blameless person? 10, 15? Before she lied on a form to go to, or be able to afford, college?

If your parents took you illegally to say, Germany as a kid, and it is all you knew, just when would you have made the decision to come back here? And just how would you have managed it?

Friday, May 14, 2010

My friend the cop doesn't read my blog

First, I tried to do a drawing online to paste here to help you "see" what I'm going to describe. Wouldn't work, none of the online sites let you save your drawing to your computer; or, I couldn't figure out how to do it.

So work with me here.

I was at a light on the way home in rush hour traffic, cars to the left of me, cars to the right. And cars just past the light in the three lanes of Southbound traffic of North Druid Hills leading to I-85. The only lane with no cars in it was the right lane which is the access to I-85.

I saw a police car sitting in the driveway of the Exxon station as he turned his lights on, pulled, the wrong way, into the access lane, then turned into a restaurant parking lot driving through it to exit onto the road that had the traffic light that I was stopped at. When he got to the light, he turned off his lights and waited for the light to turn green for him to make his left hand turn, that he couldn't make when this story started because he was blocked by traffic.

I want one of those light bars that let me drive illegally.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

This Time, a Speech I Don't Like

We’ve all heard it.

I call the bank, the computer company, the cable company. I tell them what my problem is.

“Dave, may I call you Dave? (No pause, they just continue on) I can certainly understand your concern (I’ve expressed no concern, just told them what my problem is). I’m taking ownership of your problem. May I put you on hold for three to five minutes to …(whatever it is they are going to do – I think it’s finish up their current IM chat session)?”

Ownership? Google “ownership of problem” or “problem ownership” and you get a bunch of pages full of touchy-feely stuff about workplace and family problem resolution. Jim or Joe or Sue on the other end of the line has no intention of owning my problem, they are reciting a script that their boss says they have to read to me. Jim or Joe or Sue probably will be on another call or at home tipping a cold one if I have to call back for further help.

Then there’s that magic “three to five minutes.” I’ve heard it too many times. I want to know the social engineer that came up with the idea that it was better to tell someone an amount of time that they had to sit and stew and then decided that three to five minutes was the perfect time that would not piss me off.

I actually don’t mind sitting on hold if something is really being done to help me. All my problem calls are made at work on a speakerphone. While they are off doing whatever they are doing, I’m doing other things. How about call centers ask if they can put me on hold and then, if we get to the five minute mark, a recording comes on and Jim or Joe or Sue, in their own voice, tells me he or she hasn’t finished whatever and they are sorry, they’ll get with me as soon as they can, please don’t hang-up.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The minute you start yelling, you lose

Here’s an interesting piece on a recent incident in a New York restaurant where a patron, who happened to be a New York Times reporter, walked in to a kitchen to dress down a chef who was yelling at a waiter and being heard in the dining room:

There seem to be three responses in the comments to the incident, stay out of it, walk out or good for you.

I’m not an “A” type personality. I stew, I don’t spew. Over the years I’ve learned that the less said, the better. I break that rule; but, I try not to. I’ve especially learned that you don’t get anywhere by yelling, even if you are dealing with a yeller. To use a clichéd phrase, you’ve stooped to their level.

Way back when, for a year, I taught the sixth grade. I almost never raised my voice, something I’d come across somewhere in college, the theory being that if you speak softly, people strain to hear and in the process actually hear and pay attention to what you are saying. In practice, it worked. Then too, a couple of times, I raised my voice causing the kids to have minor heart attacks. No yelling necessary.

The other problem with yelling is that it leaves the other person with nowhere to go. If you’re going to get what you want, or something near it, in a dispute, you’ve got to give the other side a way to save face. Screaming at someone in public isn’t a very good way to do that.

Dear Superior Plumbing,

I listened to a commercial on the way to lunch from Superior Plumbing (cue the music) “… the Honest One, call 770- 422-Plumb.”

I was told Superior “warranties all of its work.” No, you warrant your work by providing a warranty, the latter word is a noun, the former, a verb.

You may be confused by the fact that guaranty is both a noun and a verb, though when used as a verb it is usually spelled guarantee.

Thank you for your anticipated correction of the commercial.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

So Annie and I were talking...

She has this look when she thinks you’re wrong. She’s too polite to say “you’re wrong, you may be an imbecile.”

I told her I had “Swedish pancakes” at IKEA on Sunday morning. She wasn’t sure what Swedish added to the basic pancake. I said “kind of like crepes,” pronounced with a short “e” as in bed. The look. Me: “I think it’s pronounced that way; but, I’m never happy saying it.” I went online and the consensus is I’m right, if I’m speaking French and wrong if I talking in my native language, then its “crapes.”

She’s a word purist. Pronounce the letters, use the word correctly. And she’s a bit PC for my taste.

Today I was talking and used the word “Orientals” and got the look. “What?”

“Well, if we’re going to go there, how about ‘Asians?’”

“What, Oriental is archaic and you think it’s derogatory?”

She didn’t say anything; but, I knew that’s what it was.

So I went online. Here again, a split of opinion. There are those that feel that Oriental (from the East, as opposed to Occidental, from the West) is perjorative as it lumps people together who shouldn’t necessarily be lumped together. A Japanese person isn’t Chinese and a Korean isn’t….

But, if you use Asian instead of Oriental, aren’t you doing the same thing?

Perhaps my original mistake was in labeling. When you go to law school you take a class that’s labeled something like “Elements of Law” or “Legal Reasoning.” I remember a class that dealt with an opinion written, I think, by Benjamin Cardozo (you can Google him if you have legal wonkish tendencies). The lesson was about relevancy and description. The opinion was about a car accident. In the factual description that always comes before the presentation of the issue, the reasoning and the holding (conclusion for non-lawyers) one of the cars involved in the wreck was described as, again I think, a “blue Buick.” So, the professor asked, why not just call it a car, or perhaps a vehicle? Is blue relevant to the issue presented in the opinion. Is the fact that it’s a Buick? There was much more, only interesting to lawyers.

The lesson as applied to the Oriental/Asian conversation: Be spare in your language, using only those words necessary to make your point. I should have just said “some people.”

Facebook knows where you wander on 100K sites

If I’ve read this article correctly, and the author is correct, Facebook now has plug-ins on 100,000 sites and growing, that tell it if you wander by, if you are “logged in” to Facebook.

I just went to Facebook, which is set to come up on my Profile page, then I went to the account settings, which gave me the choice to Log Off. To me, that means you don’t log off automatically when you click away from Facebook.

Thus, Facebook has a record of your browsing history, I assume available to the highest bidder. Google knows where you’ve been; but, somehow that’s not as creepy. I don’t think I like this; but, do I shut Facebook down; or, do I log out every time I leave it?

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Don't blame the tools, blame the craftsman

President Obama gave a commencement speech today:

"You're coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don't always rank that high on the truth meter," he told the students. "And with iPods and iPads, and Xboxes and PlayStations -- none of which I know how to work -- information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation. So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it's putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy."

I don't know how to work them either, so? He's absolutely right on all of the distractions; but, he's wrong in the message. Electricity way back allowed diversion from the basics of existing; though, it was indeed a tool of empowerment (a word I don't like). There are lots of things that can have bad results.

Things aren't the problem, people are. Choose your tools wisely. Then use them well.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Here's a new pain in the disk

As I type, I’m watching a “pre-roll BD Live” promo of a movie that a Google search for the quoted words tells me is a win for me because I “get to view fresh and relevant content every time [I] insert [a] Blu-ray disc into a BD-Live connected player…." The "feature" forces me to wait while it fetches a promo for a movie from the Internet. I don’t want to watch the previews, be they stale or fresh.

I’ve tried to fast forward this wonderful fresh content and am told such is not “available.” Forwarding to the end freezes the whole process and I have to wait it out for a couple of minutes while it cuts off the Internet connection and starts loading the disk for the movie that I DO want to watch.

I’ll solve the problem by disabling BD Live, which has always been lame; but, in the meantime, Deluxe Digital Studios, Inc., the purveyor of the annoyance, sucks.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Free Speech in Georgia - Republican Style

There’s a goofball, and maybe a criminal that got away with it, that’s running for the Republican nomination for Governor. He doesn’t have a chance.

Karen Handel, our recently resigned (so she could collect money while the Legislature was in session) Secretary of State announced recently that she wouldn’t attend a debate that the goofball attended.

This from the Columbia County Young Republicans:

“Due to recent allegations, and the refusal by former secretary of state Handel to appear alongside Ray McBerry, we made the difficult decision to not include Mr. McBerry in this debate.”

What’s so difficult about the decision? Oh, that part about the press tearing the goofball apart to the detriment of your other candidates. The one that was under investigation by the Feds, the one….. hell there’s too much to list and its just garden variety Georgia corruption.

Oh, and there’s a GOP guy that’s rich and decided to run for the nomination on a throw the bums out platform with his own money. He wouldn’t sign the loyalty oath demanded (and legally allowed) by the GOP. He’s now an independent candidate.

Finally, here’s the sad thing, one of the GOP people swearing fealty to the Party, having suppressed debate, will probably win in November. We are a Red State, though we take the money from the Socialist Feds; but, that's okay, we trash them before, during and after we pocket the money.


Pronunciation: \ˌän-ˈwē\
Function: noun
Etymology: French, from Old French enui annoyance, from enuier: to vex, from Late Latin inodiare: to make loathsome
Date: 1732
: a feeling of weariness and dissatisfaction

I’ve always understood the word to be semi-depression in reaction to events: a sense of being overwhelmed by life.

So let’s see:

Bad people with Muslim names are still trying to kill us.

The Gulf of Mexico and maybe the Gulf Stream may be on their way to being devoid of life. (We won’t talk about the economic hit on the Gulf Coast, just now recovering from Katrina.)

Warren Buffett thinks Goldman Sachs is just peachy. Goldman Sachs, as evidenced by Emails, thinks we are stupid and deserving of our fate. It may well be right.

Financial market reform seems to be dead in the water.

Arizona has been watching too many old movies, “Your papers please!”

The DeKalb County, Georgia School Board, faced with laying off hundreds of teachers, is soliciting bids for a public relations campaign. I know its not very significant, just one more thing to shake your head at.

Much more significant, according to a PBS special last night, total student loan debt in the country is in the neighborhood of $750 billion, with a good sized chunk of it in or near default. When will that “market” collapse?

Then there’s the little noticed condition of the commercial real estate market – hundreds of billions of dollars of bad loans are on the books with values far below the money loaned.

Comparing all the spending done and proposed by governments (foreign and domestic) in the last couple of years with collected and to be collected taxes, how far off do you think class and generational warfare is?

That’s enough for now.

Monday, May 03, 2010

The Need to Blame

The weekend’s news brought stories of how the Gulf oil spill is the equivalent of Hurricane Katrina with respect to the government’s failure to cope.

There seem to be two aspects to dealing with catastrophes: prevention and response. We always assign blame for failings in either.

To put the two more recent events and blame for them, in context, Bush didn’t get much flack over the response to 9/11. Why?

Let’s compare and contrast.

9/11 was a “man-made” event, the result of terrorism and our failure to anticipate and prevent it. Katrina’s devastation was a combination of an act of God and human failure (the levees). The oil spill appears to be the result of human failure; Obama is doing his darnedest to draw attention to BP’s culpability for it. Bush deflected any blame for 9/11 on the part of the U.S. Government to anticipate and prevent by focusing our attention on Al Qaeda; but, he didn’t have a convenient terrorist group when it came to Katrina. He, the Corps of Engineers, FEMA and Brownie took the necessary fall.

There was no plan to deal with the severity of any of the three events. Obama seems to be running a better PR effort for the oil spill than did Bush with Katrina. Neither dealt with the aftermath of 9/11 very well in the larger context of stopping terrorism and foreign adventurism; but, over time the need to blame lessens as other events overtakes us.

We humans need devils to blame for things that a benevolent god wouldn’t do to us. Our politicians know this and provide them for us. What they don’t do is take the lessons presented by catastrophes and apply them going forward. A case in point, the financial meltdown of the last couple of years. Who’s to blame? Greedy, rapacious banks. What’s being done about them? Little or nothing. But don’t blame our “leaders” entirely. We taught them to show us a devil or two and things would be OK until the next time.