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

October 10, 2005

have gavel, will travel

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 11:20 pm

Have court, will cavort.   My first-time-visit weblog of the week

is Have Opinion, Will Travel.  Naturally, I found it perusing today’s 

Blawg Review #27, at Lisa Stone’s Inside Opinions  


mjudge  HOWT‘s anonymous proprietor gives the impression of

being a jurist, but I can’t vouch for that. I can, however, vouch for his

fine-tuned sense of what is fun and interesting (at least to fossils in

my age cohort).  There’s also enough meat there for those who insist

on serious content at a weblog.  I plan to revisit a discussion on how 

public judicial discipline hearings should be, a topic occasionally on

the troubled mind of ethicalEsq and of our friends at HALT.


                                                                                bigger   RumpoleG 


In a post titled What Would Rumpole Say?, HOWT informed  

us that UK defense lawyers were about to engage in a

walkout, to protest the failure to receive legal aid fee hikes

since 1997 for criminal trials that last less than 10 days.

Last year, your Editor confessed to enjoying an audio book

involving the beloved and crusty Rumpole, noting he was

an “indigent defense lawyer who takes every case.”  Of

course, that was in the context of the Massachusetts

Bar Advocate boycotts — a subject that has given me

more than enough agita for this Century, thank you. Let’s

hope some ethics-minded barrister will take up the cause

over in Britain. 


If you haven’t discovered Have Opinion, Will Travel yet,

get over there and give it a look.



gavel neg  Since we mentioned Blawg Review above,

and Lisa Stone, and having opinions, I should probably

say something about the new arrangement making Blawg

Review part of the Weblog Network.  Although

my initial reaction is not extremely negative (like that of

Colin Samuel), I’m not certain that there will be much

effect where it counts — actually resulting in more click-

throughs and new readers at the featured weblogs, and

not just bringing more people to glancce at the weekly

compilation of legal weblog posts.  Only time will tell.

On one score though I do have an instant opinion:

That big, ugly ad box, which is required   “soldsign”

of all Network members, can be found in the Sidebar

or Margin of prior members.  It may indeed be a bit

less obtrusive at Blawg Review, where it is placed 

after the introductory post.  Nonetheless, invading the

body of the weblog seems to make it — on principle — 

more obnoxious.  Sorry, “Ed,” I know you tried. (see




while selling his dumplings
and such…
blossom viewing


morning frost–
yet still a child
sells flowers




  translated by David G. Lanoue   





it’s hard to discover Columbus

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 5:17 pm

the nina As you may know, in the USA, “Christopher Columbus Day” is observed in 2005 on October 10th. Despite sailing around the wideworld web all day, I — like Columbus — never quite got to my destination. I had hoped to discover resources for making a highly entertaining-plus-enlightening post about the mixed feelings that are evinced by Cristoforo Columbo across the continent he purportedly “discovered.” Instead, no theme having gelled, I offer you a chest filled with a few gems, a few duds, and a lot less gold than promised — which is about what Columbus brought back for his royal patrons in Spain.

columbus While listening to the noon tv news from Albany’s WNYT, my ears perked up when told the next segment was on the topic, “Life Lessons from Christopher Columbus.” The anchor then interviewed Merci Miglino, whose “life coaching” business is called Matpounders. Merci’s info page says she had “served as Director of Communications for both houses of the New York State Legislature and as chief of staff for a prominent New York City congressman.” The skills needed for (or learned at) those jobs must have honed her ability to find a positive message (cynics call it spin) in almost every situation.

As for Columbus, Merci said he teaches us (with my paraphrasing of her remarks plus editorial comments in brackets) to:

Dream Big – even when others think you’re a kook, aim high,

persist until you find backers [promise to make them all

really rich and maybe acquire further empire, and save a

lot of heathen souls]

Keep your sails moving – go with the flow, even if you don’t the nina

end up at your original destination [and, in Cristoforo’s case,

never admit you failed to get there]


Act Like a Monk – spend time alone, reflecting, in clerical

garb [one advantage when charged with various kinds of

malfeasance: it allows you to say you didn’t know what your

crew members were doing to the natives and your brother was

doing cooking the books]

tiny check The motto on my family’s coat of arms, appears to be: “When at

a loss for words, talk about the weather:” So, I’m sure my Mother would

be intrigued to know that Columbus, Ohio is having the same dreary/drizzly

as we have here in Schenectady, with a high around 60 degrees.

Actually, my weather gambit turned out to be quite serendipitous. While

checking out the forecast for Columbus, Georgia, (where it is also drizzly, but

20 degrees warmer), I discovered Peter van der Krogt’s comprehensive website

Columbus Monuments, which lists all the places in the world named after

Columbus and all the places with monuments to him (I learned my city of

Schenectady has one — which I managed to ignore for over a decade,

although it was a few yards from my office and I passed thousands of times

walking to Family or Supreme Court. The site also tells you how to spell his

name in just about every language.

ColumbusBench original [scroll down]

tiny check It the fountain won’t come to Columbus . . . Columbus would never admit

that he never found the route to Asia. If he has a sense of humor, wherever

he currently resides, Chris might be bemused to see that some nice people

in Kiryu, Japan, sent a lovely park bench and drinking fountain to their sister

city of Columbus, Georgia in the hope “this gift will offer rest and cool

refreshment to all who visit this place, symbolizing the goodwill which exists

between our two textile-oriented cities.”

tiny check “The article The Real Story Behind Columbus (Oct. 15, 1998), in the

Pace University New Morning, with an unidentified author, summarizes one

skeptical modern view of Columbus:

“When I was young, we never spent a whole lot of time discussing

the real Christopher Columbus. We all knew we had a day off, loved

the man for it, and would listen to anything the teacher would have to

say about him…even if the teacher was wrong. . . .

“We have a National Holiday for a discoverer, and adventurer, pirateS

and a hero who was, in reality, a mass-murderer, a rapist, and

a greedy miser who was out to become rich.”

On the other part of the Columbus-watcher spectrum, I was rather amazed to

learn last year from a true-believer Catholic just how important Columbus was

in God’s plan for the world — since he brought the True religion to a continent

without it, and paved the way for our exceptional nation. The Catholic Encyclopedia


“Columbus was also of a deeply religious nature. Whatever influence

scientific theories and the ambition for fame and wealth may have had

over him, in advocating his enterprise he never failed to insist on the

conversion of the pagan peoples that he would discover as one of the

primary objects of his undertaking.”


tiny check Columbus might have been religious and at times monklike, but he

surely never took a vow of humility. Click for a picture of the cover page of Columbus’

Book of Privileges, which is discussed here. Columbus drove a hard bargain, and

“Queen Isabel and King Fernando [] agreed to Columbus’s lavish demands if he

succeeded on his first voyage: he would be knighted, appointed Admiral of the

Ocean Sea, made the viceroy of any new lands, and awarded ten percent of any

new wealth.” The Book of Privileges includes all of the many concessions given

by the monarchs to Columbus — a very long list indeed.

crusade ship A story of Vatican intrigue concerning Columbus, that I had never

heard before came to my attention today. In “What is the real Columbus story?.”

retired Michigan columnist James Donahue explains the position of Italian historian

Ruggero Marino :

“Marino says the late Alessandro Bausani, professor of Islamic

studies at University of Venice, discovered evidence in an early

16th Century Ottoman map that Columbus went to America on a

secret mission for the Pope in 1485. . . .

“He claims the Columbus story as told in contemporary textbooks

is filled with misinformation generated by King Ferdinand and Queen

Isabella of Spain.

“According to Marino, Innocent VIII, an Italian, dispatched Columbus

on his voyage hoping he would find gold to help finance the Crusades.

But the pope’s death in 1492 set the stage for a big change in the

Vatican. The succeeding pope, Alexander VI, a Spaniard, covered

up the story and allowed the Spanish throne to take the credit.”

Donahue’s column fills in the details of the evidence for Marino’s claims.

tiny check Today’s Googling brought the book Imagining Columbus by Ilan Stavans to my

attention. It sounds great and I plan to locate it at our public Library and “check

it out.” Stavans, who recently wrote Spanglish, says “My purpose is to revisit,

to investigate, to play with the asymmetrical geometries of the admiral’s literary

adventures in the human imagination.” Stavans argues writers have portrayed

Columbus in three ways—as prophet or messiah, as ambitious gold-seeker, and

as a conventional, rather unremarkable man. He examines many poems, novels,

short stories, dramas, and other works

ColumbusStavans Library Journal said: “Especially fascinating is the chapter on Columbus

as villain, which examines works of Alejo Carpentier, Michael Dorris, and

Louise Erdrich, among others, and on Columbus as symbol,which analyzes

writers from William Carlos Williams to Carlos Fuentes.”

tiny check This time last year, this weblog asked who do you want Columbus to be?

It is no surprise that the question is just as relevant this year. We again

point out that the The Florida Museum of Natural History has an informative

page about Christopher Columbus. And we’ll leave you with our quote from

last October, from the article Columbus: Hero or Heel? (Vista, March 1991) ,

by William F. Keegan:

“For over 500 years there has been only one answer to
the question, who was Columbus? . . . Who do you want him
to be?”

update (Oct. 10, 2005, 9 PM):Tonight’s PBS News Hour included a conversation with Charles C. Mann, author of “1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus” (2005). The main review gives a good summary of Mann’s main points, and includes a useful timeline. The book argues that

“[T]he Americas were a far more urban, more populated, and more

technologically advanced region than generally assumed; and the

Indians, rather than living in static harmony with nature, radically

engineered the landscape across the continents . .

Mann1491 “And those who came later and found an emptied landscape

that seemed ripe for the taking, Mann argues convincingly, encountered

not the natural and unchanging state of the native American, but

the evidence of a sudden calamity: the ravages of what was likely the

greatest epidemic in human history, the smallpox and other diseases

introduced inadvertently by Europeans to a population without immunity,

which swept through the Americas faster than the explorers who brought

it, and left behind for their discovery a land that held only a shadow of the

thriving cultures that it had sustained for centuries before.”

p.s. You know, I need to have an Honored Guest or two with Italian surnames.
Maybe I can find one by October 12, the real Columbus Day. Until then,
here’s a guy who might not be a real haiku poet yet, but he’s got the right
last name:

Columbus Day trip
red and yellow crayons
turn into stubs

…………………………………. [Oct. 12, 2004]

perched on

the sitting sumo’s belly —

one large pumpkin

…………………………………… [Oct. 10, 2005]

by dagosan a/k/a David A. Giacalone: the nina

afterthought: Lee Gurga is never just an afterthought in the

haiku community. But, I just realized that “Gurga” certainly sounds

like an Italian name. [It isn’t, but lets make Lee an honorary pisano

anyway.] That vowel hanging on the end of his surname, is a good

enough excuse for me to share a few of Lee’s haiku.

autumn rain–

old man’s furniture

in the pickup

cold drizzle– pickup n

a puff of diesel smoke

rises from the freight

blast of wind

flattens the roadside grass–

hitchhiker on her suitcase

………. by

Lee Gurga

from Fresh Scent: Selected Haiku of Lee Gurga (Brooks Books, 1998)


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