Thursday, June 30, 2005

Downhill for Downhiller

The model/ski instructor who sued the 14 year old girl for being in the way has lost her case. The jury of eminently sensible and rational people decided that Sarah Walker was 95% at fault for the accident. Walker had this to say:

Walker voiced disbelief that jurors found her 95 percent responsible. ''I don't think it was fair," she said.

So here is the result:

A federal courtroom, judge, clerk and stenographer were occupied on a trivial matter instead of something more important.

One lawyer (the defense) makes a good piece of change defending a crappy law suit.

One lawyer (plaintiff) makes nothing, assuming he took the case on a contingency. (If he took the case on an hourly fee basis, Sarah Walker is quite a fool, because she had to have known, or been told, going into this litigation that her chances were slim).

One 14 year-old girl has an experience she'll never forget or want to live through again.

And one self-centered young lady will, most likely, go on blaming other people for her misfortunes.

And I'll bet she doesn't slow down, either.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Limelight Fades to Black

A while ago, we reviewed the seamy underbelly of the feud between Mark Drago and Robin Dawson over who would be quarterbacking the development of film business in Massachusetts. In the meantime, both have gone to the Governor's office and been told to "straighten it out between yourselves," which they clearly didn't, running to the newspapers to resume bad mouthing each other.

Now, with the passage of the 2006 budget, both Drago and Dawson discover this little gem:

The ugly dispute over who is in charge of film production in the state appears to be over - and the winner is, Gov. Mitt Romney.

The $23.9 billion state budget sitting on Romney's desk contains language establishing a new state film office under the gov's Executive Office of Economic Development.

"The office shall be the primary governmental office or agency to facilitate motion picture production and development within the commonwealth,'' the measure reads.

The new budget leaves funding for Robin Dawson's Mass. Film Bureau on the cutting room floor. The budget language also appears to put Mark Drago and the Mass. Sports & Entertainment Commission out of the film biz.

If, as expected, Romney signs off on the measure, it will put an end to an embarrassing public feud that insiders say was hurting the state's chances to attract major motion pictures.

"It's a good conclusion,'' said Senate Minority Leader Brian Lees, who proposed the measure. "We worked with the House and the Sports Commission and everybody felt it was important to have a state agency to be in charge of film and to let the Sports Commission handle sports.''

Lees said the new film office will have an executive director who will be the state's official point person for film production. The budget also leaves intact funding for Drago's position at the Sports & Entertainment Commission and sources say he'll be told to refocus his efforts toward attracting major sporting events to the state.

What is not known, however, is whether Drago will go quietly. Yesterday, his people were insisting he would remain in charge of film and that the new office was inconsequential. But Dawson's people begged to differ.

"Saddam Hussein thinks he's still in charge of Iraq, too,'' said film bureau flack George Regan.
Meanwhile, Dawson, the former head of the state film office, said she's not interested in returning to that role but promised to work with the new agency.

Lovely ending to a sordid story. Heh heh.

A Federal Case Over Skiing

I hate to see this kind of nonsense.

A 23 year-old skiing instructor is barreling down an expert slope at Loon Mountain, slams into a 14 year-old girl who is traversing the trail (both advanced skiiers on an advanced trail), knocking the girl unconscious, and the ski instructor sues the teenager.

It may sound heretical coming from a lawyer, but people need to realize that accidents happen, and they're not always someone else's fault.

Having done a considerable amount of skiing during my lifetime, I find it difficult to believe that the ski instructor could not avoid the downslope obstacle, unless she was traveling (as Meat Loaf would say) LIKE A BAT OUT OF HELL.

Now if you'll excuse me, I must go put a bag over my head.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Burn Baby, Burn

Several months ago, I had an opportunity to assist a young man's effort to be admitted to law school. Since his father was CEO of one of the largest PR firms in the world, I thought that was a good idea. Following a firmly-held practice, I instructed the young man to call me so that we could discuss his resume and his motivation to become a lawyer. After all, there really are too many of us, and I don't want to abet lawyer proliferation for no good reason.

Before speaking with him on the phone, I reviewed his resume and discovered that he had spent considerable time in the music business, in the writing, recording and production fields; and he had even attended Berkelee School here in Boston for a time, studying the business end.

So, the question begged to be asked, "why do you want to become a lawyer?" "Because," he said, "I want to play a role in putting the major recording studios out of business unless they begin to treat the artists fairly."

His comment stunned me enough to guarantee my silence as he put forth his perspective on the current state of the music business, focusing on how the quickly-emerging technologies for direct-to-consumer downloading would enable thousands of artists to bring their music quickly and cheaply to the listening public, by-passing the major labels entirely and quadrupling the percentage of revenue earned by the artist.

"You mean," I asked him, "that you foresee a day when musicians without major label support can have their music affordably produced and presented to the public efficiently and cheaply, and they'll actually be fairly paid for their work?"

"And they'll own their songs too," he said.

"Dreamer," I said to myself -- and rapidly agreed to write him a letter of support, which, I should say, was the most effusive and enthusiastic letter I had written in years.

Clearly, the young man knew something I didn't, as this Boston Globe story reveals:

A new kind of online music store has arrived, singing a different tune: No major labels allowed!

Launched in the shadow of large digital distribution empires such as Apple's iTunes and Napster, these independents-only music stores are designed to serve musicians who find themselves buried beneath the major labels' artists. Even on the Internet, where inventory isn't limited by real-world display space, unsigned artists don't stand a chance unless they have a record deal.

But the tables are starting to turn, with the emergence of indie-only online music stores that not only give exposure to musicians on independent labels but to unsigned musicians.

Businesses like and are changing the way fans download music.

Audio Lunchbox, in Los Angeles, has become the largest indie-only online digital distribution store since it was launched in 2003. It has acquired the digital rights to 750,000 to 1 million tracks, 4,000 independent labels, and close to 50,000 musicians. Its a la carte downloading service is similar in cost to Apple's iTunes and to Napster, with singles selling at 99 cents and most albums at $9.99.....

....As more online businesses begin to pop up in support of independent music, it's clear that musicians can get a good deal. While artists get more direct revenue, usually 50 percent or higher, most companies like Audio Lunchbox and Magnatune are nonexclusive, allowing musicians to distribute their music anywhere.

Most independent music stores will take on nearly every musician who applies; Magnatune, which is based on a music label model, is the exception. Buckman said that out of the 400 CDs sent to Magnatune each month, 10 are picked. All of the online stores let musicians keep the rights to their music.

This is a dramatic and potentially explosive development that has the potential to reshape the music industry landscape. As digital downloading and satellite radio expand in popularity, major labels should begin to see their market share shrink, unless they reevaluate their practices. As popular indie labels attract more and more artists to their stable, they will develop the market power to drive radio programming. And the artists will be encouraged to go to the indies for the benefit of the longer-term payout of a fair profit on their sales.

Closer to home, this development better enables performers of less popular genres, like blues, to reach a wider audience. Over the past few years, I have been introduced to some fabulous blues artists via internet-based streaming audio; and I am then able to purchase a CD with a click. Want to try it? Check out Anthony Paule's "Hiding In Plain Sight." One of the best blues CD's you'll ever own. This development will only increase the listener's exposure to new artists.

My young friend was admitted to Tulane University Law School. I hope he is able to ride the crest of the wave before it gets too crowded.

And let's hope he's right about the major record labels.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Blogger Block

Summer is irresistible. The golf clubs are in use (far less than former days), and a variety of projects keeps me from posting new material. A temporary lapse in creative instinct, I think, except for manufacturing a crafty punch-cut four iron around the hemlock tree to the back pin at #2 on Winged Foot East.

I think I shall confine my activity to following the posts of others and commenting, for a while at least -- and be content to remain a Slithering Reptile a bit longer.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Be Patient, It'll Happen Posted by Hello

Monday, June 13, 2005

More Hot Air

I had just gotten myself calmed down following the authoring of the previous post when Carpundit led me to this story, wherein one Peter Watts, member of the Welfleet Zoning Board of Appeals, frets about the growing trend of people tearing down existing houses to replace them with bigger houses:

Peter Watts, member of the Wellfleet Zoning Board of Appeals, said he's concerned that with the current three-acre zoning rule in the Seashore, "someone can buy a preexisting house, tear it down and build a bigger house than we can have in Wellfleet, without having to go to the ZBA. If we don't do something about that, it would be ideal for wealthy people to buy real estate and build mansions."

Some people, Watts said, "think 'if it's out of sight, it's out of mind, but I don't agree. I think we have to do something about this."

The horrors!

For anyone unfamiliar with Cape Cod, Welfleet is a small town on the outer cape, where most of the land is comprised of the Cape Cod National Seashore (CCNS). It is one of the most pristine and environmentally protected areas in America (in my humble opinion). Welfleet is one huge sand dune, stretching from outer Nauset beach to Cape Cod Bay. The CCNS is home of some of the most stunning beaches you can imagine. [here's a picture of
The Beachcomber, one of the greatest drinking spots on earth -- heh heh].

Under the Welfleet zoning by-law, the minimum lot size for a residence in the CCNS is THREE ACRES. Care to guess how much three acres of residential land in the Cape Cod National Seashore is worth (if you can find one)? Uhhhh, welcome to the hotel Costa Plente.

Under the Welfleet Zoning By-law, the maximum lot coverage ratio (square footage of lot divided by square footage of house) is FIVE PERCENT. For a full three-acre lot, the maximum size residence would be 6,384 feet -- a palace, for sure, but what do you expect when you create such a prohibitively expensive price of entry? (In the remainder of the town, where the residntial lot size is 30,000 or 40,000 s/f, the maximum lot coverage is 15%.)

The stunning thing about Watts' comment is that he doesn't care if you can't see the new house. The fact that someone wants to build a big house is, in itself, the evil to be abated! He ought to be relieved that a wealthy person is willing to pay a huge property tax for the privilege of occupying his mansion for a fraction of the calendar, and not be bringing a family of school-aged children with him.

I'll just bet that Mr. Watts is one of those anti-windfarm environmentalists too.


Hot Air

The Boston Globe's lead editorial today is entitled "Powerful Wind," and is billed as the first in a series of pieces looking at the alternative energy technologies available to reduce "greenhouse emissions." The editorial comes at an interesting time, with deep-pocketed sides years into a bruising battle over a proposed 130-turbine wind farm in Nantucket Sound. But strangely, the Boston Globe can't seem to stake a position on the project.

Here's what the Globe editors have to say about wind power and the Cape WInd project in particular:

Wind, the world's fastest-growing form of electricity production, deserves consideration in the United States and elsewhere as a carbon-free alternative to fossil fuel power. In Massachusetts, the Army Corps of Engineers' draft impact statement on Cape Wind's 130-turbine proposal for Nantucket Sound found it would not have a major effect on birds or marine life, a first-stage green light that should move this well-designed project closer to completion as the nation's first offshore wind farm.

Much opposition to Cape Wind comes from residents of the Cape and islands who worry that it will mar the seascape. Here at Nysted, one of Denmark's first two big offshore wind farms stands 6.2 miles offshore in the Baltic Sea. For an observer on land who extends his arm full length and sights in on the 72 turbines with his raised thumb, the array is about half the size of a thumbnail on the horizon. When the rotor blades are straight up, they are 367 feet above the sea, somewhat lower than the 417 feet height the Cape Cod blades would reach, and Nysted's shore is about 10 percent farther from the turbines than Craigville Beach on the Cape would be from Cape Wind's proposed turbines. From the Cape, Cape Wind's turbines might measure two-thirds of a thumbnail.

Many residents of Nysted and Denmark's west coast, where the other offshore wind farm is located, initially opposed the projects, fearing their effect on tourism and housing values. Even onetime opponents now admit that the turbines have not had an impact on either. ''It's all going up," Nysted's mayor, Lennart Damsbo-Andersen, said of property values in his harbor town of 5,500. The town's chief engineer, Hans-Erik Johnsen, said his and others' fears that tourists, especially German boaters, would shun Nysted because of the windmills were misplaced.

So then, it would come as no surprise if the editorial were to conclude (as editorials usually do) with a position in favor of the Cape Wind proposal. Ah, but it doesn't; in fact, its closing position would stop the project in its tracks for a considerable period of time. Here's what they say:

Congress should renew the production tax credit for wind, due to expire at the end of this year, and it should pass comprehensive legislation governing use of offshore waters for renewable energy and similar purposes. (emphasis supplied).

Why, where did they come up with that idea?

When the initial comment period for Cape Wind's draft environmental impact statement was opened by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers back in November of 2004, here's what Ted Kennedy had to say:

"Serious questions about the need for federal and state rules to govern development on the outer continental shelf lands must be answered as part of this process. This first in the nation proposal to transfer public outer continental shelf lands to private control for unregulated large-scale commercial development requires us to take every possible precaution to protect the public interest."

Also at that time, Governor Romney, usually a very smart man, made the following statement:

"The question is, does the wind farm impinge on the beauty of one of the great natural resources on the East Coast? And it does. And it doesn't take a rocket scientist or hundreds of consultants to do an analysis on that." Apparently, the Globe disagrees, along with the Danes with all of the experience.

Romney then brought his fight to the White House, where he advocated to presidential Chief of Staff Andrew Card "the importance of coastal zoning to prevent the construction of wind farms such as the one proposed by Cape Wind." He had this remarkable statement then:

"If wind farms are going to be used to provide power for this nation, then one wind farm is going to lead to other wind farms," Romney said. "Let's not make the first one on the East Coast in Nantucket Sound."

Perhaps potential presidential voters in all of the other coastal states might wonder which location he considers preferable.

Opposition ot the project is by no means a political imperative, even for a liberal Democrat. The project has enjoyed strong support from an impressive array of organizations, including the Conservation Law Foundation, the Maritime Trade Council of Greater Boston and New England, SmartPower, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Clean Water Action, Cape Clean Air, the Massachusetts Climate Action Network, the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group, and Clean Power Now, which has chapters on the Cape and islands. All of these groups have encourage the Governor and Senator to reconsider their opposition to the project, to no avail. And in public comment periods across the Cape, the project has found considerable support. And two of Romney's key environmental advisors have publicly endorsed it.

Susan Tierney, former secretary of environmental affairs under Gov. William Weld, former commissioner of the Department of Public Utilities under Gov. Michael Dukakis, and former assistant secretary for policy at the U.S. Department of Energy during the Clinton Administration, was appointed chairwoman of the volunteer Massachusetts Ocean Management Task Force in June 2003 by Gov. Mitt Romney's Environmental Affairs Secretary, Ellen Roy Herzfelder. In a letter to the Army Corp of Engineers in December 2004, she said the Corps' draft environmental report "is one of the most thorough that I have ever seen. I agree with the Army Corps of Engineers' independent conclusions that this project is needed, and I agree that the project's overall portfolio of environmental and socio-economic impacts is minimal, especially in comparison to the public benefits associated with the production of energy without greenhouse gas emissions."

Also supporting the project is Romney's Secretary of Commonwealth Development, Douglas Foy, former head of the Conservation Law Foundation.

But well-heeled opponents are committed. Having lost their efforts to halt the project in the courts, opponents of the project, backed with funding from some of the Capes wealthiest property owners, are looking to Kennedy and Romney to use their political might to stop it.

One influential political leader whose voice has remained mute is -- well, guess. He is a Nantucket homeowner and the ranking Democrat on the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Fisheries, and Coast Guard. And he just finished campaigning for something. That's right folks, Jawn Kerry has yet to be heard from.The reason? Kerry feels that, as a Massachusetts senator, his obligation is to take his time before expressing any opinion.

Romney's White House ties and lobbying effort may be paying off. Last fall, Sen. Warner sought to slip language into a military appropriations bill that would have stripped the Corps of its authority over offshore wind. Reports at the time suggested it was at the behest of Kennedy. And in May, Senators Lamar Alexander and John Warner filed federal legislation that would disqualify wind farms located off coasts, near military bases, in national parks, and in other potentially sensitive locations from receiving a crucial federal tax subsidy.

The strategy of the opponents is clearly to drag the process out ad infinitum, until Cape Wind runs out of money or will power. The strategy appears to be having some success:

Testifying in Washington before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Dennis Duffy, vice president of regulatory affairs for Cape Wind Associates, said if the nation's offshore wind industry is going to thrive, the U.S. government must coordinate its energy and environmental policies.

''The federal regulatory process, under current law, is both thorough and comprehensive,'' Duffy said. ''But, importantly, it lacks any requirement that would limit the duration of the project review period, which in some cases can open the door for opponents to try to use delay as an end in itself.''

In my view, this controversy firmly pits the true environmentalist against the hypocrite. Chiefly at the instigation of the environmental advocates, the United States Congress and the federal government have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in wind energy research and development over the past several decades. It is now just beginning to come into its own as an economically viable source of clean energy in the United States (chiefly due to federal income tax credits for development), it has proven itself in other parts of the world. And yet here in Massachusetts, the political powers that be, including Senator Kennedy who trumpeted his support for green energy for decades, line up in favor of who? The first truly viable and meaningful project to make good on those hudreds of millions of federal dollars? The professional environmentalists who know what they're talking about and support the project?

No. They are siding with a band of ersatz environmentalists, who raise phoney issues about fishing and birds in an effort to protect the views of million dollar homes.

It's the Conservation Law Foundation, SmartPower, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Clean Water Action, Cape Clean Air, the Massachusetts Climate Action Network, the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group, and Clean Power Now against who? A bunch of wealthy Cape & Islanders who call themselves environmentalists because their precious "view" is at stake.

It is a view that, according to the Cape Cod Times editorial board, would amount to two-thirds of a thumbnail.

[I think I'll have to link this with the Beltway Traffic Jam -- Mr. Joyner should enjoy the irony!]
For a comprehensive list of news links covering the history of this project, go here.
Read Cape Wind's Draft EIS here.

Kennedy Settlement Reported

Both Boston papers are reporting that Friday afternoon, on the even of a trial over the Kennedy childrens' efforts to have their mother declared permanently mentally ill, a settlement has been reached.

Under the agreement, Mrs. Kennedy's assets (including, presumably, her residence in Hyannisport's Squaw Island) are set up in trusts and overseen by independent financial professionals (presumably chosen by agreement), rather than being under the control of Teddy Jr.

I have said before that I suspected the kids were upset at their mother's efforts to sell the Squaw Island home, which would have triggered a right of first refusal that would force them to match the sale price. The Herald story reports that her then-advisor, second cousin Webster Janssen, had a buyer for the house at the price of $6.5 million. Since the right of first refusal is so clearly stated in the title deed, one might wonder if (a) Mr. Janssen was indeed aware of it (I assume he was) and (b) whether or not he had notified the children of the offer and advising them of their obligation under the right of first refusal.

With the appointment of two independent financial advisors, it is possible that the transaction could still move forward, if the advisors were of the opinion that the sale of the home was in Mrs. Kennedy's financial best interests. That would compel the children and Teddy to match the price or say goodbye to the family's long-time summer home.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Aria Ready?

Stories like these (few and far between) are why I read the newspaper:

Michael Maul, a researcher at the Bach Archiv foundation discovered previously unknown work by Johann Sebastian Bach while sorting through a crate of 18th-century birthday cards removed from the Duchess Anna Amalia library in the eastern city of Weimar shortly before ithe library was devastated by fire. He said the two pages were among several hundred poems and greetings written by officials and clerics to honor the 52d birthday of Duke Wilhelm Ernst of Saxony-Weimar, whom Bach served as a court organist.

The composition, dated October 1713, is "an exquisite and highly refined strophic aria, Bach's only contribution to a musical genre popular in late 17th-century Germany," said Christoph Wolff, the foundation's director and a professor at Harvard University.

Specialists say the aria for soprano and string or keyboard accompaniment is the first new music from the composer to surface in three decades.

How extraordinary for Mr. Maul, while rummaging through box after box of musty old birthday cards, the drudgery of his profession before him, to come upon this extraordinary discovery!!

The period during which this music was written appears to have been a significant one in Bach's professional development:

Wilhelm Ernst (1662-1728) was a Lutheran ruler and a sponsor of the court music. He hired Bach as organist and member of the orchestra, and encourgaged Johann Sebastian to exploit his unique talents for the organ. Bach was also on friendly terms with Ernst August (1688-1748) and his younger half-brother Johann Ernst Jr. (1696-1715). In the long run, Johann Sebastian ran into some trouble with this double loyalty, because there were lots of tensions, intrigues, and even open hostilities between the courts of the two dukes, Wilhelm Ernst and Ernst August. Especially, Johann Ernst Jr., who died when he was only 19 years old, was musically gifted. He took composition lessons from Bach's friend and relative in Weimar Johann Gottfried Walther. Johann Ernst also had the the good idea to make a trip to Amsterdam, to return in 1713 with a rich collection of Italian music. Johann Sebastian Bach made various organ transcription of the Italian material, and particularly Vivaldi's 1712 collection of concertos, L'Estro armonico had a profound influence on Bach's style of composition. This was in fact a decisive moment in Bach's development: from now on he combined his earlier counterpoint style, with its northern German and French influences, with Vivaldi-like harmonic planning and thematic development.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Piracy Alive and Well in Middle East

Haven't most of us daydreamed of leaving it all behind and sailing around the world? I know I have -- and I've met plenty of people who have done it. But as you give it serious thought, consider the harrowing tale of two couples' encounter with a gang of pirates off the coast of Yemen:


The problem of piracy in the Gulf of Aden is well-known to sailors. Traveling together is one of the measures taken to discourage attacks.

''When you do this, you basically have to run the gantlet, so you hook up with boats that go your speed," Barry said.

He said the pirates, cruising on outboard speedboats, began tracking the two American yachts soon after they left Oman's port city of Salalah. In late afternoon, two boats, each with four gunmen aboard, closed in on the Americans.

''They were hiding in the sun and suddenly they started shooting," said Barry, who is tall and sports a mustache. ''They didn't give any warning or try to negotiate. I think it was clear they just wanted to kill us."

Barry said the men in the lead speedboat were spraying gunfire from Kalashnikovs, automatic rifles common in the Middle East. Bullets were hitting the cockpits of both yachts, smashing into Gandalf's mast, but, miraculously, failing to pierce the metal hull.

Barry recalled that Nowlin, on the other American sailboat, pulled a 12-gauge shotgun from below deck and fired three shots at one of the pirate boats. Smoke began rising from the engine.

Nowlin wrote later in his report: ''I am not sure I hit anyone at that point although I could see the driver of the boat crouched down behind a steering console."

On the Gandalf, Martini ducked below deck and was trying to reach nearby ships by radio. She remembered seeing Barry squat near the steering wheel and cover his head. ''Then he said, 'Hang on, Carol, I'm going to ram them,' and I heard a big boom," she said, pointing to the front of the yacht. Barry had crashed into the pirate boat's midsection, almost severing the vessel and, according to Nowlin's report, ''turning it almost completely over."

One pirate boat was disabled but the other pulled closer to the Gandalf, and Barry watched two gunmen lunge forward to board his yacht. ''They were so close to us as they fired, that casings from their bullets were landing in our boat," Martini said.

Nowlin, watching the men from the deck of his yacht, fired several more rounds, knocking both pirates back toward their boat and hitting the person at the helm, Nowlin described on the website. He wrote: ''If Jay on Gandalf had not had the presence of mind to veer over into one boat and ram it, the outcome of this attack would have been totally different. All they needed to do was stand off a ways and shoot us to pieces with automatic weapons."

None of the pirates' bullets hit any of the Americans, and both yachts were intact. Nowlin and Barry turned and sped away, sailing for another 20 hours before reaching the Yemeni port of Aden. Nowlin said in his report that their distress calls alerted a nearby commercial ship, which came to the scene and escorted them for a few hours to make sure they were safe.

The full story of the Gandalf and Mahdi can be read in the two reports filed at by Rodney Nowlin, USN Ret., skipper of the Mahdi.

For the benefit and delight of Bruce and Jay G, and the rest of the gunbloggers, I excerpt this particularly relevant gem:

"The bow of the pirate’s boat came right up against Gandalf’s stern and two men stood up on the bow to board Gandalf. That was a serious and probably fateful error on their part. I shot both of them. That boat then veered away and I shot the driver, although I am not sure of the outcome because they were farther away and I did not knock him down like the other two."

Bruce and Jay, I'll let you take it from there.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

John Kerry As Francis Muldoon?

Everyone is commenting about the comparative academic records and class pictures of John Kerry and George Bush.

Myself, I just can't get over the uncanny resemblance of John Kerry's college picture and Fred Gwynn's portrayal of Gunther Toody's beat-partner, Francis Muldoon. That's a Wizbang of a pic there, Jawn!

Oo! Oo!

The Price of Freedom

While some in America are busy comparing Guantanamo to the Soviet gulags, perhaps a bit of perspective is needed -- Tigerhawk links to a story of two UAE lovebirds who have been sentenced to a year in jail for hugging and kissing.

Apparently, the old chestnut "make love not war" doesn't go over well in the Middle East!

A World of Perfect Order

The fellow CoC members at have constructed a clever and amusing map of the World of Chillin, located betwen the Moonbat Ocean and the Wingnut Hoardes.

The humble kingdom of Wave is located in the northwest corner of the Iberian peninsula.

(Maybe it's more of a Duchy?)

Monday, June 06, 2005

Ezekiel Learns About Socialism

[this story is taken from Bert & I – although I have changed the names and time context – it is one of those perfectly witty and utterly incisive tales that shoots right to the truth of the human condition, at least the human condition of the Down-east Mainah named Ezekiel Gabbich]

Pervis Webber’s next door nay-bah, Ezekiel Gabbich, come back from a trip to Bangor, where he’d been to hear a speech by James Harris, candidate for President on the Socialist Worker’s Party ticket. He couldn’t wait to buttonhole Pervis at the back fence about “collectives” and such. Knowing Ezekiel don’t know better, Pervis asked him to ‘splain.

“Woy,” Ezekiel said, “if I’ve got two cows and you got none, I give you one of moyn.”

“Zat so,” said Pervis. Ezekiel nodded impressively.

“And,” he continued, “if I got two pigs and you got none, I give you one of moyn.”

Pervis nodded, leanin’ in the fence….and a moment later, asked Zeke:

“You mean to tell me, Ezekiel, if you had two HAY RAKES and I had none, you’d give me one of ‘em?”

Ole Zeke gasped.

“Damn you Pervis, you KNOW I got two hay rakes!”

Saturday, June 04, 2005

More on Joan Versus the Kiddies

Over the weekend, the Boston Globe reported the latest in the Joan Kennedy guardianship matter. Excerps here:

"When the legal efforts first began last year, Joan Bennett Kennedy wholly endorsed a move by her three children to give her son Edward M. Jr. temporary control over routine medical decisions and authority over her estimated $9.5 million in assets.

'I do not object to the appointment without prejudice of Edward M. Kennedy Jr. as my temporary guardian,' she wrote in a court filing on July 9, 2004.

But since then, relations have soured between Kennedy and her children, and a court battle largely fought behind closed doors is now expected to spill into public view on June 13 in Barnstable Probate and Family Court.

Kennedy's three children, led by Edward Jr., plan to ask a judge to name a permanent guardian who would have the final say on medical and financial matters.

'I oppose my children's petition,' Joan Bennett Kennedy said in a recent court filing.
Court papers released yesterday at the request of The Boston Globe show that Edward Kennedy Jr. was named his mother's temporary guardian for the first time on July 12, 2004, after the children convinced Probate and Family Court Judge Robert E. Terry that Joan Bennett Kennedy was 'mentally ill.'

'Ward [Joan Kennedy] is unable to properly care for her person and estate,' Terry found. She is 'incapable of taking care of herself by reason of mental illness,' he found.

The specific illness was not disclosed in the court papers, which had been impounded by the judge and were released in response to the Globe's motion to have them unsealed. Terry declined to release medical records.

'The ward's medical records and related reports contain sensitive, often detailed information,' Terry wrote. 'Although the ward's struggle with alcoholism has long been public . . . the disclosure of any aforementioned detailed records would not produce any public benefit.'


Terry has extended the temporary guardianship four times since July 2004. The most recent is set to expire July 7.


In court papers, Joan Bennett Kennedy's assets were identified as $8 million in real estate -- the family home on Cape Cod and a Beacon Street condominium -- plus $1.5 million in monetary assets.

But control of the real estate is another issue that mother and children are fighting over. Last fall after Edward M. Kennedy Jr. was given control of his mother's assets, she handed over her real estate and financial assets to Webster Janssen, a second cousin from Connecticut. Janssen has put the Cape Cod home on the market, but legal action by the Kennedy siblings have blocked him from selling it.

In the court papers, the Kennedy siblings said the court should reverse the transfers, a contention that Janssen is challenging before Terry...."

I surmised in an
earlier post that perhaps Joan's transfer of her Squaw Island home had been done after the initial temporary guardianship had expired. Apparently, that was not the case (if the current Globe report is correct), if the guardianships were indeed extended. It is still the case, however, that there was nothing on record in the Registry of Deeds that would give notice to the world about the temporary guardianship; although the transfer from Joan to Janssen may indeed be voidable, even if the Notice of Guardianship was not recorded as it was supposed to be. In any event, it is unlikely that Mr. Janssen could be classified as a bona fide purchaser for value.

Regardless of the lack of record notice, the kiddies have apparently obtained some sort of injunction against a sale -- and that troubles me. In order to obtain injunctive relief against the sale of the property, the children would have to demonstrate that the sale going forward would cause them
irreparable harm. Since the Kennedy children (and Teddy) have a Right of First Refusal on any putative sale, there is no prospect at all that they would be harmed, since they continue to have the right to purchase the property on the same terms and conditions as a putative buyer. Their rights under the original deed from Ted to Joan have not been impaired, and indeed, remain the same.

If they succeed, however, in gaining complete control over their mother's property, they would never have to come up with the money. In fact, a permanent guardianship would (presumably) prevent Joan from executing a will that disposed of the property differently than whatever will was in place before she was adjudicated mentally ill. Hence, all that the guardianship accomplishes is to allow the children to continue to keep the property in the family without having to exercise their obligation to pay their mother for that right. If that is the case, then one must wonder how such a move would not be in conflict with the exercise of their
fiduciary duty to their mother.

Forgive my skepticism, but I don't get a strong sense that fiduciary duty is foremost in their minds.

Scurvy Wench

Arrrrrrrgh, she slipped aboard me ship without so much as a whisper, and filched a tun o' rum and crock o' biscuits -- but she's welcome to 'em, cuz she's got a fine blog o' 'er own, and she put the name o' me vessel on 'er roll ----and she be another member o' the Chillin Coalition too. Go pay 'er a visit and give'er my regaaarrrds....Arrrrrrrrrrgh.

Friday, June 03, 2005

For the Caricatures ALONE, I love this. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Pervis the Great Fisherman

Pervis Webber had a solid reputation in Hancock County as the greatest fisherman since Barney Beale. Stories were legion of him leavin port in his sixteen-foot dory at dawn, and returning mid-afternoon, gun’ls brimming with Cod. Over time, he became such a legend that he attracted the curiosity of Cameron Shackford, head Fish & Game Warden up Augusta.

Shackford come down to Pervis’ village in Bah Hahbah, bent on finding his secret. After brief inquiry to the townsfolk, he was directed to Sampson’s, the local bah, where he found Pervis at his stool, holdin forth about this or that. Shackford took a nearby stool and waited for his chance.

After a pint (pronounced “point”) or two, Shackford coaxed Pervis into telling a few fishin tales, but Pervis, he’s a sly one and he was tight as a tick. But Shackford was persistent, and finally, just to quiet him, Pervis ‘vited him out next mornin, 5 am sharp.

Shackford met Pervis 5 am sharp. Down the dory they went, Pervis slipped the motor on and away they slithered into habah, and ‘bout 5 miles out past Nun Two when Pervis cut engine and they drifted for a bit.

After some silence, Shackford spoke up. “How you catch all them fish, Pervis??”

Pervis reached under his bench and pulled out a stick of dynamite. Reached under the other side, pulled out a short fuse. Put the fuse into the TNT, lit it and tossed it ovah’bawd. Followin’ was an explosion and a rain of seawatah, and when it quieted, a legion of fish slowly floated to the surface and Pervis began landin them with his net.

Shackford reached into his pea coat and removed his badge. “You undah arrest, you no good scoundrel! You! You built a legend of yaw'self bein a man of the sea, and heah you nothing but a common criminal!”

Pervis sat calm. Reached under his bench, pulled up another stick of dynamite and another short fuse, lit it just the same as the fust, tossed it into Shackford’s lap and said,

“Well Cam’ron, you gonna talk or you gonna fish?”
Payback Time Is Nigh? Posted by Hello

A Little Honesty, Please... the title of a Megan McArdle post I missed before the filibuster compromise --she says this:

"Can Democrats and Republicans stop pretending that there is some exquisitely fine distinction between judicial filibusters and legislative filibusters that makes flip-flopping on whatever they said five years ago something other than a gossamer-thin wrapping for the otherwise naked use of power? Or that they really, deep down, care about the deepest arcana of Senate procedure?

The fact is that Republicans are going to shove conservative judges down liberal throats because they can, not because there is some cosmic principle of justice involved. And Democrats should tone down the histrionics about the fundamental illegitimacy of Republican court-packing, when the reason the Republicans are so determined to pack the court is that it is the only way Democrats have left them to undo the quasi-legislation that liberal judges wrote after Democrats packed the court decades ago. Having remade the rules about how legislation gets made, you can't just tell the Republicans that it's some sort of metaphysical abuse if they try to touch the ball."

She sure is right, although her point doesn't address whether or not this down-throat shoving is something that is wise, necessary, or beneficial to the party or the Country. I've never been much a fan of the old excuse, "it all started when he hit me back."

From my perspective, the quest for honesty seems to me to be a Sisyphean task -- if Senators were actually intellectually honest in the way they approached judicial nominations, we'd have Robert Bork instead of David Souter, and the ABA ranking system would have some relevance and respect. Instead, one of the most brilliant legal minds of our time was relegated to the judicial sidelines (although his books have continued to provoke thought and sell well); and the ABA's official role in ranking federal judicial nominees, exposed as a thinly veiled ruse for opposing nominees who didn't toe their party line, was eliminated in 1997.

Now it's all about "interest group politics." The judicial selection process is now a significant means by which liberal and conservative interest groups raise money. They use it as a means to fire up their base, flooding the Capitol with letters and postcards and demonstrators with placards containing incendiary and vitriolic slogans. These demonstrations of grass roots power and organizational strength bolster the interest group's standing in the national party apparatus, increasing their power over such matters as platform planks and even Vice-Presidential selections.

It's power politics. And when in pursuit of more power, or the retenion thereof, intellectual honesty seems an insignificant commodity to all but the bravest and strongest of human souls.

Shocking Development

At while back I related the story about a bar fight between Doyle's Cafe and The Midway Cafe. Remember, Doyle's has succeeded in thwarting The Midway from expanding for many years, and they had, until recently, paid (virtually) nothing for an easement over Boston Water & Sewer Commission land for decades, until the Commission put the easement out to bid, as required by law.

Here's the Boston Globe update:

"The Boston Water and Sewer Commission has decided to convey public land below the historic political watering hole Doyle's Cafe in Jamaica Plain to one of the brothers who owns the pub above it. The commission favored the $5,000 bid by Doyle's co-owner Ed Burke over a $101,000 proposal submitted by Roslindale lawyer Michael Tobin. The commission said Burke's proposal acknowledges that the city will retain an easement on the property, which contains the Stony Brook Conduit, and that the Tobin proposal does not address plans for the property. Tobin said he may pursue legal efforts 'to find out why the city doesn't want $96,000 more than they could have gotten.' Owners of a nearby bar contend that Doyle's has benefited from favoritism from city pols who frequent the historic pub. Doyle's owners allege that a silent bidder working with Tobin put forward the proposal only to pursue a grudge against them."

Get that last sentence?

Gee, why would anyone have a grudge against the Burke brothers?

Supreme Court Justice Lous Brandeis once said, "Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman."

Mr. Tobin, please -- the people of Jamaica Plain deserve to know. Let's disinfect.

Here's a prediction: Mr. Tobin files a request for documents with the Commission under the Freedom of Information Act, receives no response and files an appeal with the Secretary of State who orders the Commission to produce the documents; the Commission ignores the Order and Mr. Tobin goes to Superior Court to get the Order enforced. The Superior Court upholds the Secretary of State's Order, and the Commission still ignores the court order. After many, many months and thousands of dollars of taxpayer-funded bureaucratic foot-dragging, the Commission says that it cannot find the requested documents because they have been "lost."

Footnote: Initially, the Globe's story was quite lengthy and comprehensive. The follow-up piece is quoted in its entirety above. Interesting that the portion of the story that involves the City's behavior in a bidding contest involving a well-connected family would have lost some of its luster as the election season progresses.
One Man's Opinion Posted by Hello

Herbert Warren Wind, 1917-2005

Herbert Warren Wnd, long-called the "poet laureate of golf," died on Memorial Day.

If you don't know the name, you'll probably care to pass on, since the notion of a man making his fame due to his writing on the sport of golf is liable to make you sleepy.

But write on golf he did, perhaps like no other man in history (save for perhaps Grantland Rice).

I remember reading Following Through, a book containing a collection of Wind's golf articles written during his thirty-five years at The New Yorker Magazine. It was difficult to believe that a man could utilize such elegant prose to describe a shot-by-shot contest between two individuals on a golf course across the Atlantic Ocean. But he did, and his writing provided one with a vivid image in the mind's eye, almost to the extent to one could smell the heather and hear the sparrows.

Here are excerpts from the Boston Globe obituary:

"Mr. Wind's unerring eye for detail, knowledge of the game's history, and penchant for classical allusions made him a must-read for golf writers and fans of the game. He wrote for The New Yorker from 1948 to 1953, and spent several years writing for Sports Illustrated before returning to The New Yorker from 1960 until his retirement in 1990.....

"...It was while writing for Sports Illustrated in 1958 that Mr. Wind dubbed the tricky 11th, 12th, and 13th holes at the Augusta National Golf Club, the ''Amen Corner." It was a name that stuck, and it can be heard frequently during coverage of the annual Masters Tournament, which he attended more than 20 times....

...Other subjects he covered for The New Yorker included tennis, writers, politicians, and social figures. He was the author or co-author of several books, most about golf, but also one about humorist P.G. Wodehouse...

...The son of a shoe company executive, Mr. Wind grew up in Brockton, where he began playing at the Thorny Lea Golf Club when he was 7 years old...

...He played whenever he got the chance, but he said it was a radio program that really ignited his passion for the game. In a story published in the Globe in 2001, he recalled listening to a radio show that golfer Bob Jones used to do with sportswriter Grantland Rice.

'It was marvelous,' he said. 'We huddled around the radio every Friday night to learn about golf.'...

...Mr. Wind graduated from Yale University and earned a master's degree in English at Cambridge University in England, which allowed him to play on many of the storied golf courses of the British Isles....He was accomplished enough on the links to compete in the 1950 British Amateur....

...During major tournaments in the United States and Europe, he was familiar figure walking the courses, usually dressed in a tweed cap and jacket, white shirt, and tie, even in the hottest weather....
'I think all his clothes were tweed,' said his sister. 'He really was a bit of an anglophile....'

...Mr. Wind even wrote glowingly about watching golf on TV. 'Is there any greater pleasure in this astonishing age of telemechanics and microcircuitry than to lean back on a wintry weekend and watch the latest installment of the professional golf tour?' he wrote in a story published about 35 years ago in Golf Digest....

...In 1985, a selection of his golf stories from The New Yorker was published in a book titled ''Following Through." A 1985 review of the book in the Globe, Charles Kenney wrote: 'Wind knows golf and its history so well -- and he writes so lovingly about the game -- that for one who cares about golf, reading his book is sheer pleasure. His unhurried tone is so relaxing that it makes reading these pages nearly as soothing as playing 18 holes on a sunny summer morning'...."

Imagine the talent of a man who can write glowingly about watching golf on television.

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