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

May 2, 2006

haiku wars truce

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 6:31 pm

     Thanks to two appointments that resulted in waiting-room
reading opportunities — one with a mechanic, one with my
primary care physician — I finally read David G. Lanoue’s
latest haiku novel, Haiku Wars.  We discussed the book
at length here.

       HaikuWarsCover  Haiku Wars 

Like Prof. Lanoue’s prior haiku novels — Haiku Guy (2000;
our mini-review), Laughing Buddha (2004) [both from
Red Moon Press], and Dewdrop World (online for free,
2005) — Haiku Wars was fun and enlightening, and filled
with fine haiku by Kobayashi Issa and by David Lanoue.
Here are a few from David Lanoue:

the green jello-
gives a wiggle

old friends
in the rice field
Mars and the moon
dark swirls   LanoueSelf
in tombstone marble
I want ice cream
old man in the waves 
looking like
he lost something
the only cicada
without a girlfriend . . .
…… by David G. Lanoue from Haiku Wars (2006)     HaikuWarsCoverN

…….. potluck

If you’ve been following the great Curmudgeon “instant cult classic puffery

May 1, 2006

lawdy-lawdy, another Law Day

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 1:47 am


May 1st is Law Day. If you’re at all familiar with this weblog, you’re
probably expecting another sermon like “
Law Day, Not Lawyers’ Day,”
from 2004, or our 2005 “
towards a better Law Day.” This year, however,
we’re not in a preachy mood (not this very moment, that is), so we’ll
just refer back to those prior pieces as a matter of principle, and point to
Law Day: A time for self-examination, not self-congratulation,” by Ben
Cowgill (May 2, 2005). (and see Ben’s
promised Law Day version of Blawg
Review #55).


For Law Day 2006, a series of disjointed blurbs will have to do.

tiny check The Law Day Theme is promulgated each year by the American Bar
Association. This year’s theme is timely and important: “Liberty Under
Law: Separate Branches, Balanced Powers.” The f/k/a Gang knows well
how important check and balances can be — it’s difficult to imagine what
this weblog would be like if Your Editor, Prof. Yabut, or haikuEsq got to
run the operation alone. Rule of Law, justice, and efficiency, would be in
short supply.

It’s not exactly surprising that many Americans fail to understand
the basic principles of Balance of Powers. In urging its members
to participate in Law Day programs, the New York State Bar
Association noted:

“A Harris Poll commissioned by the American Bar Association
and conducted from July 22 through July 27, 2005, found that
less than half (48 percent) of Americans can correctly identify
the meaning of the separation of powers. The same poll found
that nearly two-thirds of Americans (64 percent) can correctly
identify the principle of checks and balances. Only just over
half of Americans (55 percent) can correctly identify the three
branches of government. And less than half of the poll¦#x2019;s res-
pondents (48 percent) correctly identified the role of the judiciary
in the federal government.

“The need for bar association members to get involved in Law
Day activities in their own communities has never been greater.”

[Despite this call to action, NYSBA does not appear to have
taken a major role in celebrating Law Day, and few county bar
associations are participating across the State.]


We’re not so sure members of the bar would have done significantly
better than the general public answering that Harris Poll. You can
Take the Law Day Quiz to see where you stand. [Did Alexander
Hamilton say that the legislature is the most dangerous branch?]

If you’re in D.C, today, head to the Library of Congress
for the 2006 Leon Jaworski Public Program (6th Annual),
which covers this years Law Day theme, with the focus of
“Madison’s Legacy.” Jeffrey Rosen of the New Republic and
George Washington Law School is the moderator for a dis-
tinguished panel of jurists and scholars. The program link
above will bring you to a list of Framed Issues, including this


“Of the three forms of government ¦#x2014; executive, legislative,
and judicial ¦#x2014; which do you think has been most dangerous
and capable of “everywhere extending the sphere of its activity”?
Why? Has this changed historically? Varies around the world?”

Go here to find out whether there are Law Day activities in your area
today or this week. And browse the ABA Law Day Program materials,
if you need referesher courses for yourself or want be dazzling at lunch
or dinner today.

tiny check For example, there are some interesting materials aimed
at Middle and High School students on the timely topic
What is Judicial Independence?” This one-page hand-out
presents a number of fact scenarios and asks whether the
practice violated the principle of judicial independence. As
they say, some are ripped from recent news headlines.

LawDayBalloons  Get Your Law Day Mementos:  Okay, we promised not to be preachy, but we can still have some fun, can’t we? It wouldn’t be Law Day at f/k/a without us mentioning the fun items available at the ABA Law Day Store. For example:


The Law Day Poster is only $4.95, and it is “A must-have”
for Law Day” — providing “a colorful and intriguing vehicle
for communicating our nation’s three branches of government.”

the anger from work
in my son’s birthday balloons

George Swede
Almost Unseen

Law Day Balloons come in a Package of 30 for only $8.50.
They are “fun for kids and adults. Strong, helium retentive,


The Law Day Cooler Pack is only $7.00, and apparently
needs no sales pitch — except for the reminded that it
“Keeps food and beverages fresh.”

warm beer–
heat lightning flickers
beyond the outfield

Billie Wilson
frogpond XVII:2 (2004)

2005 vs. 2006

Last year, we pointed out that the word ‘lawyer’ didn’t even appear
in the
White House press release proclaiming Law Day 2005. That
was a good thing, since we want to focus on Law and not Lawyers;
and it wasn’t surprising, considering the President’s prickly relationship
with the bar. This year, however, the White House Press Release
titled “
Law Day, U.S.A., 2006” (April 28, 2006) has the President
exclaiming that:

“Law Day is an occasion for us to celebrate our Constitution
and to
honor those in the judiciary and legal profession who
work to uphold and serve its principles
.” (emphasis added)

Did the President leave out the comma after the word “profession”
intentionally? We amateur linguists want to know.


Another contrast: Last year, ATLA (the Association of Trial Lawyers
pf America), had lots of materials at its website about Law Day 2005.
This year, not a word (as of May 1, 2006, 1 AM, ESDT) Of course, the
theme last year was ¦#x201C;The American Jury: We the People in Action,
and an ATLA Community Outreach/Politcal Action
memo reminded
members that they should visit schools
because“The children in our
schools today are our jurors of tomorrow.”

tiny check Of course, ATLA has been busy with its own version
of protecting separation of powers — making sure the
legislature doesn’t trample on ATLA turf or the rights
of its clients. (See April 13
press release, and a copy
of ATLA’s recent full-page ad in USAToday which asks
Haven’t the Big Corporation CEOs taken enough?). The
ATLA ad — which was placed to fight back “Against De-
ception from U.S. Chamber of Commerce” — ends by
exclaiming that the Chamber:

“has already overrun Washington with money

and lobbyists. Don’t let them run off with our


[Ed. Note: Don’t you love it when a group aims a

barb at its opponents that could have been used

verbatim by its opponents against it?]


“tinyredcheck” In Cumberland County, North Carolina:

“Judges and attorneys shut down the courts to visit
56 elementary schools as part of the 2006 Law Day
celebrations.To help explain the law to children, the
judges and lawyers showed the kids [a video version
of Aesop’s Fable “The Lion’s Share“].

“In the fable, a lion agreed to share food equally with
all the other animals before the hunt. When dinner came,
however, the lion took most of the catch.”

” . . . . At the end of the day, it was judgment hour for
the lion. The punishment was five days without food,
and the lion had to hunt for the other animals’ next meal.
It was justice, fifth grade style.”

You can read about and see a tv clip of the encounter here.
(News14Carolina, “Lawyers use fables to teach kids about the
law,” April 27, 2006)


Finally, we all want to end on a serious note. This past year, we have
seen a President acting as if he is unchecked by the Constitution when
it comes to fighting wars and terrorism — and watched a Supreme Court
that might be far to willing to agree with him. We’ve also seen members of
Congress threaten to slash judiciary budgets and remove particular pieces
of the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction (e.g., over flag-burning or Commandment-
placement). And, of course, we’ve seen a Supreme Court-nomination process
that was less than edifying in its attempts to control a candidate’s conduct
once on the bench. We should remember, therefore, that our Separation
and Balance of Powers do not work automatically. They need vigilance by
the public — perhaps, especially by the legal profession.

update (May 3, 2006): In an article in the May 2006 edition

of Washington Lawyer, A Defining Constitutional Moment,”

Bruce Fein sounds the alarm over the Bush Administration’s

claimed powers to order warrantless surveillance when

terrorism is involved. Fein says

If Congress flinches from its duty to reject

the legality of the president⦣x20AC;™s directive to the

National Security Agency (NSA) . . . a precedent

will have been set that will permanently cripple the

Constitution⦣x20AC;™s checks and balances. . . . Unless

rebuked, it will lie around like a loaded weapon,

ready to be used by any incumbent who claims

an urgent need.” (The Washington Lawyer, May



p.s. In case you think that Marbury v. Madison is well-understood
by the American publc, check out our “holy cow: of bull and manure
(Sept. 19, 2005). It seems that millions of Americans, unhappy with
Supreme Court decisions with which they disagree on “values” and

“morality” issues, agree with this statement from the group priests for life:

“This [Supreme] Court, which holds such an important place
in our system, is ¦#x201C;supreme¦#x201D; only in reference to the other
courts in the judicial branch of government, and not in
reference to the other branches! The President and the
Congress are just as capable of interpreting the Constitution
as is the Court. In fact, they are sworn to do so.”

So, the next time you — Mr. or Ms. Lawyer or Law Professor — are
asked, or can arrange, to speak to a group of adults or students
about the role of the judiciary in our governmental system, please
do it. The program materials on independent courts at the Law Day
2006 website are a good place to start your preparation.

infielderF While some worry about balance of power, my
haijin buddy
ed markowski, thinks of matters no less weighty:

– from Haiku Harvest (Spring – Summer 2006)

april rain…
my grandson practices
his infield chatter

spring equinox
i wash mother’s hair
with baby shampoo

sunday sunlight
somewhere, someone is praying
for the world to explode

– from Simply Haiku senryu page
(Featured Poet, Spring 2006 Vol. 4, No. 1)

new year’s day
like every other
we punch the clock

tax day
the soda machine
keeps my change

team reunion…
trying to recall
the catcher’s face

mediation day
the mediator’s hair
parted down the middle


April 30, 2006

sunday buffet: no mexicans, insurance, nor curmudgeons

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 5:38 pm

f/k/a‘s cracked investigator, sleuthEsq (try saying that

three times after a few mimosas), was a little late filing

his first Sunday Brunch Potluck report. Here are the

highlights, in time for dinner:


a day without a mexican

tiny check In an attempt to brief Pres. Bush on the planned May 1st

work stoppage and demonstrations by supporters of the

American immigrant community, new White House Press

Secretary Tony Snow is rumored to have played the DVD

version of “a day without a mexican” (2004) for G.W. Also

available in Spanish, as “Un Dia sin Mexicanos,” and directed

by Sergio Arau, the film was broadly panned (with a 30 out of

100 score at But, the scenario is surely one

that will help enlighten our Decider-in-Chief. As IMBD notes

in describing a day without a mexican:

Tagline: On May 14 there will be no Mexicans in

California.Plot Outline: One day California wakes up and not

a single Latino is left in the state. They have all inex-

plicably dissappeared, chaos, tragedy, and comedy

quickly ensue. (view trailer)

Sure, immigration is a very complex subject (see, e.g. Washinton Post,

“Immigration’s Bottom Line, April 30, 2006; “Hispanic Media Split on

May 1 Boycott,” New America Media, April 24, 2006), and one movie

might not do the topic justice. Nonetheless, the film’s weaknesses

might be just what our White House is looking for:



tiny check “. . As satire, however, the film is toothless. It doesn’t ask the

important questions of why the situation continues. It’s satisfied

to point out an injustice without going any deeper, satisfied to

remain infotainment, distributing some facts amid the laughs that

may make a few people ponder but won’t necessarily ruffle any

feathers.“Perhaps it is the filmmakers’ intent to make that one bold statement

¦#x2014; “Notice us! Appreciate us!” ¦#x2014; and then move on. There is some-

thing to be said about keeping a politically charged message simple,

but it also feels safe and geared to maximize the box office.”


Kevin Crust, L.A. Times, May 14, 2004



tiny check “A Day Without a Mexican plays like a Twilight Zone episode

conceived for Mexican television and padded out to three times

its half-hour storyline. Its narrative conceit will entertain for a

while, but eventually you will long to disappear with the rest

of the Mexicans.”


Marjorie Baumgarten, Austin Chronicle, Sept. 24, 2004




On a related topic, the ever-practical folk at Not One Damn Dime, sent me (and

thousands of others, of course) an email today declaring their support for tomorrow’s

“Great American Boycott.” With their usual perceptive grasp of economics and

politics they declare:

If the anti-immigrant politicians and hatemongers are right, that ‘immigrants

are a drain on society,’ then during the day on May 1st, the stock market

will surge, and the economy will boom. If not, we prove them wrong once

and for all. We know what will happen!

With their usual fine sense of what is politically doable (and morally correct) they

assert: “We will settle for nothing less than full amnesty and dignity for the millions of

undocumented workers presently in the U.S. ” The f/ka Gang confesses: NODD has

a big mountain to climb, after their first Not One Damn Dime Day silliness — before we

will be able to take them seriously. [see our prior post]





If Washington Post readers had been visiting the RiskProf weblog of Prof.

Martin Grace regularly, they would have been way ahead of the learning

curve this morning, when trying to digest “Insurers Retreat From Coasts:

Katrina Losses May Force More Costs on Taxpayers,” by Spencer S.

Hsu (April 30, 2006).

RiskProf Martin Grace “prof grace”


Although the WaPo article — which reports that many insurers

are refusing to write homeowner’s insurance in high-risk areas —

is quite informative, we suggest “More Consumer Disadvocacy

and RiskProf‘s entire Hurricanes page, for those who want to

understand the economics and politics of the insurance game

(and impress their friends at cocktail parties). update (May 2,

2006): RiskProf has added “More on Consumer Disadvocay”

May 1, 2006).



The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Practicing Law



Evan Schaeffer had high praise this week for a book by (p/i defense)

lawyer Mark HerrmannThe Curmudgeon’s Guide to Practicing Law

(ABA Press, release fairly imminent 2006). We were intrigued by a

book that promised to be curmudgeonly, witty and informative about

the art and science of practicing law, and which Herrmann claims:

became an instant cult classic among law students and law

firm associates. It is among ABA Publishing’s fastest-selling

books of all time.” (emphasis added)

You can only imagine, therefore, the let down, when we discovered

on the ABA webpage for CGPL that “This product is not yet available, but

can be pre-ordered. Also, the “where to buy” button at Herrman’s law firm,

Jones Day, links only to the ABA page. When queried, Evan suggested,

that there must be other “channels of distribution” and lots of pre-orders.

However, PriceGrabber states that the only source is, and saysThis item has not yet been released,” while noting

a “September 30, 2006” publication date.


Are we being too curmudgeonly to ask how a book that has not yet

reached more than a handful of readers/reviewers could be called “an

instant classic.” Doth pre-orders a classic make? More like “imminent

classic,” don’t you think”? It is a strange bit of puffery — and sounds like

lawyer hyperbole, to me. Of course, that should be a topic covered in some

detail in Herrmann’s book.

afterthought (May 2, 2006): Prof. Yabut left Your Editor a note

last night saying: please check out Meaning #6 in the American

Heritage Dictionary (4th Ed. 2000) for the word “cult.” Okay. Now,

I understand: The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Practicing Law is already

an “instant classic” among:

6. An exclusive group of persons sharing an esoteric,

usually artistic or intellectual interest.

honest The f/k/a Gang swears that the above blurb is in

no way sour grapes for the fact that Curmudgeon’s Guide has

snuck ahead of this weblog in the Google results for the query

curmudgeon lawyer>.

update (May 2, 2006): Mark Herrmann saw the discussion at Evan’s Illinois

Trial Practice Weblog and this site, and sent Evan an email, which resulted

in the following update by Evan:

An update: I received the following email from Mark Herrmann on 5/2/06–

I saw the exchange on the blogs about the release date of The

Curmudgeon’s Guide to Practicing Law.

I’ve contacted ABA Publishing, and the publisher has now fixed

the website to indicate that the book is in fact available and being


The pre-orders alone, however, had been enough to move the book

to the ABA Web Store’s “Best Sellers” list, so, not surprisingly, I

side with you in the bloggers debate.

Almost makes a guy want to come out of retirement and do a little cross-examin-

ation. The numbers intrigue me [e.g., what does it take to get on the ABA

“Best Seller’s List”? How many law students are coming across with the $34.95

to join the Curmudgeon cult?] And the definitions, too. Of course, since we don’t

use emoticons around here, we don’t know whether Mark realizes that — in addition

to giving his book some good publicity, Yabut-style — this blurb is one curmudgeon

pulling another’s leg. Mostly.


Thanks to Language Log‘s astute and amiable Mark Liberman for answering

our lamenting query from Friday: Why do so many news broadcasters…

end their show by saying “we’ll see you here tomorrow”? In “Out-of-time, out-of-

body seeing and hearing” (April 30, 2006,) Mark harkens back to the homey-

interactive, un-canned, feeling created on radio by the late Hank Williams, in

his Health & Happiness Shows, Mark notes that Williams ended with:

If the Good Lord’s willing and the creeks don’t rise, we’ll be sure

to hear from you again”. That’s pretty much the radio version of the

inverted meaning in TV closings like “We’ll see you here tomorrow.”

Mark continues: “It’s clear enough, I think, why Hank said “we’ll be sure to hear

from you again” and not “you’ll be sure to hear from us again”. In the first place,

he’s making a promise for himself and his band — it would be strange and even

rude for him to try to commit the listener to tuning in again. He could have promised

that “we’ll be sure to play for you again”, but that would highlight the very thing he

wants to overcome, the one-way, non-interactive nature of the medium. He’s trying

to make listeners feel that he’s right there with them, taking in their requests and

their reactions as if he were playing a live roadhouse gig rather than a canned radio



I’m always fascinated by the way two (giving myself the benefit of the doubt)

mentally competent speakers of the same langague can come away with very

different interpretations of the same words. For example, for me, “we’ll be sure

to hear from you again,” sounds exactly like Hank is rudely trying — in Mark’s

words — “to commit the listener to tuning in again.”

Mark ends with:

microphoneG  Hank chose an image that emphasized the empathy he wanted to feel,

and if he strayed a bit beyond the strict bounds of logic, surely an

author of “one-breath poetry” can forgive him.

To me, by skewing the meaning of the words, instead of saying something factually

true that invited the listener to come back, Hank — and I’m a fan of his music — is

manipulating the feelings of the listener and making our language a bit less useful

as a tool of communication. Surely, if Hank tried his “But, I’ve been here with you

all night” baloney with a sweetheart, from out of town, she’d call his bluff. And maybe

sing “Your Cheatin’ Heart.”

boy writing flip

I really do enjoy the virtual conversations with Prof. Liberman, but I have to make a

dissent from his last clause: “if [Hank] strayed a bit beyond the strict bounds of logic,

surely an author of “one-breath poetry” can forgive him.” Mark needs to read the

page he has pointed to (“is it or ain’t it haiku?”). Haiku is all about saying what your

physical senses are perceiving — what you actually see, hear, taste, touch, smell.

If done right, haiku is not a poetic genre that uses artifices and imagination to achieve

its results.

sleuthSm Speaking of haiku and late-breaking news, the latest edition

of Roadrunner Haiku Journal (Issue VI: 2, May 6, 2006) hit the internet

today. As usual, it has three haiku each from more than a dozen

fine haiku poets, plus a number of other special features. Here are

a pair of poems from our Honored Guest Andrew Riutta

it comes and goes
without a sound
evening mist

not one fossil
among these stones
graveyard parking lot

andrew riutta

tiny check here’s a teaser from John Stevenson

city moon


of renters

– and a sample from Tom Clausen

sharp curve-
a weathered cross
nailed to the tree

April 29, 2006

a question for True Majority

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 1:22 pm

Why do the good people at True (whose goal f/k/a endorses)

need to whitewash the role of Democratic politicians in our Nation’s rush to

war in Iraq?   True Majority has started a campaign to bombard Democratic

Leaders with the demand that they “Not Be Fooled Again” regarding Iran. They  

should instead stand up against the Bush Administration’s plans and arguments

for bombing Iran over its future nuclear weapons.   Their Petition to Democratic

Leaders (such as Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid) says:



Please, use all the influence you’ve got to convince Democrats to

find sufficient backbone to withstand any and all pressure from the

President or anyone else to go to war with Iran.

We wish we would could agree that they were duped and bullied —  that it was 

credulity and cowardice that got Democrats to vote to authorize the Iraq War. 

However, as we opined in “may I speak frankly about my fellow Democrats?” 

(Oct. 24, 2004, just prior to Election Day), it was political expediency that made

Democrats vote to invade Iraq (and to remain silent for so long about the “post-

victory” situation in that country).  They believed that going against a popular

President and against public sentiment would cost them votes.  So, they went

with the political tide.

rural interstate —

all the cars

exit together


   lee gurga 

        from Fresh Scent



The good news is that Democratic Leaders will almost surely do as True Majority

asks — “stand up, pound their podiums and loudly denounce the Bush Administr-

ation’s planning for bombing Iran.”



The bad news is that they’ll probably do the right thing for the wrong reasons.  They”ll

come out for using diplomacy rather than bombs against Iran because voters are sick

of war and its many costs, and because the President is unpopular and far weaker.  I’d

still prefer good policy and morality for their own sake — political integrity over political

expediency.  Nonetheless, right now, playing politics should help prevent bombing Iran

(with its unimaginably bad unintended consequences).   With politics in a democracy,

you’ve gotta be thankful for good policy, even when the motives are less than pure.


tiny check  Come on, True Majority: don’t let the Democratic Leadership off the hook.

Don’t make excuses for them, like the parent of some irresponsible adolescent. 

Why not just tell them: “Last time, you knew what was the right thing, but de-

cided to go for votes instead. This time, do the right thing, because it is the right

thing.  The next thing you know, you may start speaking with moral authority

again and end up getting votes despite yourselves.”

“tinyredcheck”  Another quibble with True Majority.  We complain that

the Republican Administration doesn’t ask for the sacrifice

from Americans that is needed to achieve many important

political and social goals.  Why then do you choose as your

website tagline this rousing call to commitment and action?

“Give us two minutes a month.  We’ll give you a better world.”

The world does not need more laptop revolutionaries, who think

two minutes a month gets them off the hook for the actions of 

their politicians and Government.  See our post on “slactivism

activism requires action (Jan. 22, 2005)


penny over potluck

tiny check Here’s a linguistic and social “tip from Steve Breen and “Grand Avenue” —

and it’s lots easier for we members of the unwashed masses to understand than the

typical post at Language Log.


more from Language Log: Benjamin Zimmer at Language Log adds an interesting

twist to Spanish National Anthem story.   With a better source than Washington Post‘s

David Montgomery, Ben says:

“I don’t know which ‘musicologists’ Montgomery consulted,

but Wikipedians have had better luck finding other foreign-

language versions of the anthem. So far contributors to the

Wikipedia page for Nuestro Himno” have turned up examples

in German, Yiddish, Samoan, French, and Latin. Not only that,

they discovered a number of other Spanish versions reproduced

on the website of the U.S. State Department. (Will this page be

removed now that President Bush has declared that the anthem

“ought to be sung in English”?)

Ben wrote an additional post today (April 29), discussing at length the infamous

quote that is often attributed to Texas Governor Miriam Amanda “Ma” Ferguson:



“If the King’s English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it’s good

enough for the children of Texas!”

Ben tries very hard to exonerate Ma Ferguson.  We don’t know enough about the

politics or religious philosophy of Gov. Ferguson to guess whether she might just

have meant this little piece of know-nothing bigotry and ignorance.  [We blurbed

about the same quote (or slight variations) in our post get a good translator.  Go

there to see examples of classic Japanese haiku that have received varied treatment

from various transators.]



WOlson  Here’s a story from Schenectady County [NY] that I hope Walter

Olson will cover at   Abraham Pearson was arrested in

2003, and is still facing child pornography charges for incidents that took

place in his home in Niskayuna, a Schenectady suburb.  Pearson is charged

with “videotaping  and assaulting his children’s baby sitter, then 17, over the

span of seven months on 64 separate occasions,” taping each encounter.

In June, 2003, he allegedly also attacked a 15-year-old girl, who disclosed

the abuse to her mother, leading to a swift investigation and arrest. (Schen-

ectady Daily Gazette, “Papers allege porn record,” April 29, 2006, at B1,

access by $ubscription). 


That’s just background.  We learn in today’s Gazette article that the family

of the then-15-year-old victim filed suit on Monday (April 24), in New York

State Supreme for Schenectady County, against Pearson’s wife, Elyse Pearson,

seeking unspecified damages.  The lawsuit was filed by attorney Kevin P. Hickey 

(admitted to the bar in 1999) of the Albany law firm of O’Connell and Aronowitz

According to the victim’s mother, the abuse took an emotional and financial toll

on the family.  The Gazette states that Plaintiffs had already filed suit against

Abraham Pearson back in 2004.  The newspaper reports her claims (at B3):

  “The girl, the younger of the two victims, needed programs to

work through the trauma, and her parents feared she might commit



   “The financial impact came as they fought insurance companies

after being told benefits for counseling had run out.  Meanwhile, the

girl sill needed the programs, her family said.”

The Gazetteexplains” the plaintiffs’ theory of liability:

   “[Hickey] said Pearson’s wife knew or should have known

what her husband was doing and could have prevented it.”

Elyse Pearson’s attorney, Lawrence Gordon of the Glenville, New York firm

Gordon Tepper & Decoursey, per the Gazette, “confirmed that divorce proceed-

ings are ongoing,” in a suit filed by Mrs. Pearson.  He declined to comment on

the suit.”   After a three-year federal investigation, no charges have been filed

against Elyse Pearson and, the Gazette reports that “the federal prosecutor said

this week there is no evidence she was involved.”




We do not for a moment want to minimalize the emotional trauma suffered by the

young victim of sexual abuse.  However, unless it can be shown that Elyse Pearson

knew what her husband was doing with those girls, it is difficult to agree that she

should be held civilly liable for not preventing his crimes.  (And, the cost of disputing

health insurance coverage limitations seems a bit far afield, when looking at proper

damages in the suit.)   Nonetheless, the Pearsons had a nice home in an upscale

suburb, so — Walter Olson might say — it would be very unAmerican to let Elyse

Pearson get away with part of the marital pie.


tiny check As dentist-haijin Lee Gurga surely knows: sometimes,

to heal, you need to take some bitter medicine, or

undergo a bit of pain.


silent prayer —

the quiet humming

of the ceiling fan




podium sf 




his side of it

her side of it

winter silence





my dream

awakens me . . .

I wake you



two little boys

paddling like mad —

the beached canoe






pine shade

the wooden bench

worn smooth



rows of corn

   stretch to the horizon —

      sun on the thunderhead



from Fresh Scent (Brooks Books,1998) and/or The Haiku Anthology

(3rd. Ed, edited by Cor van den Heuvel)




April 28, 2006

we’ve got questions

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 2:17 pm

 In a couple months, millions of Americans will ask the question:

When is the 4th of July?“. The week, in Mexico and across the

United States, I wonder who’s asking “When is Cinco de Mayo?


[Last year, f/k/a celebrated on May fourth.]

tiny check Why do so many news broadcasters — from PBS‘s Jim Lehrer

to ABC‘s Elizabeth Vargas — end their show by saying “we’ll see

you here tomorrow”? Yes, the transitive verb “see” does have many

meanings, but not one of them is “be watched by you.” Giving

the broadcasters the benefit of the doubt, I suppose they might

mean “we’ll perceive or visualize you being in our audience.” But,

that’s stretching it.



– Prof. Yabut Language Rule of Thumb: If you are in the

business of communicating with words, try really hard

not to take a common word and use it in a way that is

the exact opposite of its most common meaning.


– The f/k/a Gang swears never to use the phrase “we’ll

see you here tomorrow.” We might say: “Come back

and let our StatCounter perceive your presence.”


– Maybe Mark Liberman at Language Log can explain (or,

more likely, explain away) this language problem for us.


updates (May 1, 2006): Scroll down to the little microphone at our

sunday buffet post (April 30, 2006) for our response to Prof. Mark

Liberman’s heroic attempt at Language Log to answer our plaintive

question about “see you here tomorrow.”


And, see Mark Kay’s supplemental post at Language Log (May 1, 2006),

which focuses on the “here” rather than the “now.” and explains that the

broadcasters are trying to maintain “the pretense of a face-to-face encounter.

Prof. Kay (who is an expert in the fascinating field of color naming) concludes:

“It seems like a pretty harmless fiction: “I’m right there in your living

room, so I’m entitled to refer to your living room as ‘here’.”

Your Humble Editor must be overplaying the humilty pretense around here.

I sure hope that readers, including the Language Log professors, didn’t

come away from my original question above thinking that I wasn’t aware of

the pretense and manipulation that were the purpose behind the “harmless

fiction” of saying “see you here tomorrow.” My concern is with the resultant

deterioration in what I believe should be the primary purpose of non-fictional

and non-literary language: the accurate representation of reality. (Perhaps,

my legal and consumer-advocacy background makes me particularly sensitive

to manipulation of words aimed at the public. Haiku’s dedication to what is

actually being perceived by our senses surely increases that sensitivity.) Enter-

tainers, such as Mark’s example of Hank Williams, are expected to use pretense

in creating their product and enticing return customers. Are journalists?


microphoneN  Why would we want to make excuses for people who pride themselves on being

real journalists and presenting facts, when they are twisting the customary meaning

of words, merely to get the viewer to have warm fuzzies and return the next night?

It is not as if there are no easy, accurate alternative phrases that would also create

a feeling of intimacy or immediacy. Even if there weren’t, this member of the news-

broadcast audience just wants the facts — and wants words (especially those that

are used frequently) to have reliable meanings. As we stated at the top of this blurb:

None of the dictionary meanings of the phrase “see you” is “to be seen by you.” At

least, not yet.


questionDudeSN After all our preaching, why oh why, would anyone name

their weblog The Blogs Blog, and compound the error with the tagline –

“Blogging the Blogs of the web” ? Talk about needing to go hug a toilet


tiny check Despite that quibble, we want to thank the editor at TheBB

for pointing to this humble weblog yesterday. However, and

despite not wanting to look a gift link in the mouth, it was

sort of strange for this weblogiverse old-timer to read this


Ethics Blog Surfaces

ethicalESQ is a new blog by David Giacalone,

who promises a blog with practical treatment of

ethics issues.

We’ve had so many birthdays by weblog standards, that

the Gang plans to let our 3rd pass by unmentioned in about

four weeks.


fedupski Are the participants in today Bloggership Conference (via TaxProf)

at Harvard Law School following the ABA’s very useful guidelines for

Participating in a Dialogue? [Aside: 3L Epiphany has an interesting

interview with Judge Richard G. Kopf (U.S. District Judge, Nebraska) on

legal weblogs as secondary sources of legal authority. via Inside Opinion)




tiny check Why did someone Google Elle Woods and cinematic role of women

lawyers>? And, was the first result — our post discussing the article

Court TV’s 15 Most Memorable Movie Lawyers” (Hollywood Heat, by

Daniel Green, May 12, 2005), at all helpful?

tiny check When will we get a movie with a female law professor

protagonist? How about a female law professor-weblogger?


“questionDudeS” How much clout does Blawg Review have in the world of legal

weblogs? So many people link to each new edition of Blawg Review, that it

appears The Blawg Republic had to reverse its policy of ignoring f/k/a links,

as of the day we hosted Blawg Review #52. Here are the facts:

As explained on May, 24, 2005, in “free speech in the Blawg Republic,”
BR had stopped listing new f/k/a posts on Feb. 11, 2005, the day after
I left a Comment at Bob Ambrogi’s website questioning the usefulness
of their service. Then, shortly after I wrote the “free speech” piece, all
of the links to f/k/a postings were removed from the Blawg Republic
Legal Ethics page, and only the actual name of the weblog and its tagline
remained. However, I hosted Blawg Review #52 on April 10, 2006, and
dozens of weblogs pointed to #52 and f/k/a. The next day, the Blawg
Review editor wrote me to say he noticed that the Blawg Republic started
picking up my posts again on April 11, 2006.

[Yes, it is very hard to write about BR and BR and not get the
names mixed up. In this post, I have only used the initials “BR”
to refer to Blawg Republic — I think.]

I hope mature heads at BR decided a little constructive criticism is a
fairly stupid reason to ostracize a weblog. We’ll see. Meanwhile f/k/a
is the only weblog listed on Blawg Republic‘s Legal Ethics page that
has posted in many weeks. And, it’s nice to see that we can still pretty
much fill up its Top Blawg Posts page just by pointing other weblogs.



 Last question: Why have we waited so long to thank everyone

who said such nice things about BR#52 and f/k/a in general? We have

no good excuse — not even a note from our doctor (and believe me, Mama

Giacalone raised us all to be more polite). Here’s an official Very Big Hug

and Thankyou to all those who pointed to Blawg Review #52! Special thanks

go out to JD Hull at What About Clients? On days when making a weblog

seems too much of an effort, I shall click on this post from WAC? and keep

on typing, with a smile.

update question (April 29, 2006): Why are so many people so upset about

a Spanish version of our National Anthem, the Star-Spangled Banner? Eric

Bakovic at Language Log has a very interesting discussion of the “value” of

singing the new Spanish version, “Nuestro Himno” (“Our Anthem”). Eric

presents translations, and analyses of quotes from dissenters like G.W. Bush

and Francis Scott Key’s great-great-grandson George Key.


more: Ben Zimmer at Language Log adds an interesting twist

to this story. Using a better source than Washington Post‘s

David Montgomery, Ben says:

“I don’t know which ‘musicologists’ Montgomery consulted,

but Wikipedians have had better luck finding other foreign-

language versions of the anthem. So far contributors to the

Wikipedia page for Nuestro Himno” have turned up examples

in German, Yiddish, Samoan, French, and Latin. Not only that,

they discovered a number of other Spanish versions reproduced

on the website of the U.S. State Department. (Will this page be

removed now that President Bush has declared that the anthem

“ought to be sung in English”?)


tiny check (5 PM): As promised, poetry from our ever-questioning,

always-insightful Honored Guest Pamela Miller Ness:

Beach picnic
sharing our bread
with the one-eyed gull







Landing on the lintel

a pigeon and its shadow

become one

after her death

composing roses

instead of words



Mother’s library
I tuck
the ribbon I gave her
into a new book.

– from unrolling the awning, (Grand Central Station Tanka Cafe, 2003)


Alzheimer’s ward
again father counts
the afghan squares

Pamela Miller Ness

“beach picnic” & “landing” from her sequence “A Flutter of Wings

“after her death from “where the lily was,” a haiku sequence (2003)

“alzheimer’s ward” – bottle rockets II:1; A New Resonance 2
“packing” – tanka from Simply Haiku (Vol. 2: 3)




April 27, 2006

school (board) bullies — jamestown, ny

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 3:03 pm

It’s a psychological cliche that bullies are really insecure, immature

cowards. The students of Jamestown, NY, are getting a good lesson

in the pathology of bullying from their very own Board of Education. The

courageous “victim” has just returned to finish her assignment, but the

bullies on the Board have more mischief in store for her.(scroll to the end

of this news story from the Jamestown Post-Journal, April 27, 2006)




As we reported in our post on Feb. 1, 2006, the object of the school

board’s bullying for the past few years has been their fellow Board

Member Deann Nelson, Ed.D (who was represented by Your Editor’s

brother, Arthur J. Giacalone, in the federal first amendment suit,

Nelson vs Board of Education, WDNY, Jan. 27, 2006). What set off

Board President Joseph Pawelski and his posse (Members Timothy

Thomas,Joseph DiMaio, Laurel Lucas, Thomas Pope, and Christine

Schnars) was the insistence by Dr. Nelson that the Board do more than

merely rubber-stamp special education placements.

tiny check The proper placement of students has been a primary focus

of Dr. Nelson her entire time on the Board (see, e.g., Buffalo

News,New Board Member Puts Focus on Special-Ed Students,”

July 24, 2003.)

Deann Nelson had the temerity to claim the right to actually read each

Individualized Education Plan [IEP] before voting to approve or reject it.

The custom of the Jamestown Board, however, is to take action on each

IEP based solely on a one-page summary — called a “board action sheet”

— prepared and forwarded to the Board by the Committee that prepared the



safeschools/bullying  …..   

tiny check The response of the Board bullies? They insisted that IEPs

could only be read by Board Members at the School Board

Offices, during normal working hours, with no copies being


Dr. Nelson complied with these restrictions and read hundreds of IEPs.

However, she also started to object to individual Plans and voice concern

over various systemic problems and irregularities in the evaluation process.

tiny check The response of the Board of bullies? As described in detail

here, they passed a resolution on September 14, 2004, prohibiting

any board member from reading the Individualized Education Program

(IEP) of a district student, in the process of deciding whether to approve

or disapprove the IEP. The Board Member must rely solely on the brief

summary written by the Committee that prepared the IEP.


Dr. Nelson also asked to see Board records on amounts spent on outside

attorney fees. Denied that request, she filed Freedom of Information requests,

which were repeatedly refused over many months. The State Secretary of State

finally intervened on Deann’s behalf, telling the Board it had the legal duty to dis-

close that information. The Board again stalled and stalled. Finally, they called

Dr. Nelson and made an appointment for her to come to their offices, where she

would only be allowed to read the materials. Dr. Nelson, a diminuitive grand-

mother, arrived for the meeting, bringing a bagged lunch and expecting a long

day of reading.

tiny check The response of then Board Secretary Karen Peterson?

She kept Dr. Nelson waiting for hours and then told her the

papers would not be ready that day. When Nelson asked what

was going on, Peterson started screaming that she was being

“intimidated.” Dr. Nelson then followed Peterson into her office,

attempting to calm Peterson down and get an explanation.

Peterson continued yelling and other personnel called the police,

who came and arrested Dr. Nelson, charging her first with harass-

ment and then with felony unlawful imprisonment of Peterson

in her office (because she had closed the office door when enter-

ing the room).

The Board immediately held a press conference, charging Dr. Nelson with

causing a fight that required her arrest. As a result, Jamestown and Buffalo

media gave one-sided coverage blaming Dr. Nelson for the incident. See, e.g.,, “Jamestown School Board Member Arrested, Nov. 4, 2005; and

WKBWNews7, “Member of Jamestown of School Board charged faces charges,”

Nov. 7, 2005, which began: “Police say a member of the Jamestown School

Board, needs to learn a hard lesson, in the law.”)


The Board Bullies managed to soil Dr. Nelson’s reputation, without ever letting

her see the materials mandated to be disclosed under the State’s Freedom of Infor-

mation laws.

tiny check The further response of the School Board? They scheduled

a disciplinary hearing charging Dr. Nelson with official misconduct.

Among the enumerated charges, in addition to the arrest, was

the claim that Dr. Nelson takes too many notes at Board meetings,

thus intimidating other Board members [there’s that “i-word” again;

somebody must have had it on a spelling test last semester].

Originally scheduled for December, the hearing was postponed

to await action on the criminal charges.

On March 23, 2006, the county grand jury refused to indict Dr. Nelson on the

charges of false imprisonment, and the charges were dropped. (Jamestown Post

Journal, “Nelson Not Indicted on Criminal Charges,” March 24, 2006). Yesterday,

April 23, 2006, Dr. Nelson attended her first Board meeting since December, having

recused herself from Board activities until the criminal charges were resolved. (See

Jamestown Post-Journal, “JPS Names New Bush Principal,” April 27, 2006)

tiny check The response of the School Board? Per the Post-Journal: bully

“Joseph Pawelski, Jamestown board president, said Wednesday

the public [official misconduct] hearing will now be rescheduled,

but no date has been set.”

But, of course she’s misbehaving: Deann Nelson is still asking questions, taking

notes, reading relevant documents (when allowed to see them), and generally

making her fellow School Board members feel insecure and inadequate, and —

yes — intimidated, by doing the job she was elected to do. We would understand if

Deann decided to resign from this intolerable situation. But, we hope she’ll stand

up to the bullies.


afterthought (April 29, 2006): Is this just another example of the local/schmocal

phenomenon we discussed in January 2005 — with local government bodies being

populated by far too many fools and knaves? If you’ve got stories, feel free to share

them with us.

tiny check  Meanwhile, here are some resources that the Board might consider

reading and taking to heart:


– “Bullying Recognition & Response for School Employeesfrom Safe-


Bullying in Schools: Adult action can improve school safety;” and

When our own children are bullying, what can we do?“, from the extensive

online Library of The reply to the question, “What if my

child is the bully?,” begins:

“Children who bully in this way need safer tools for getting what they

want, better skills for handling the disappointment of NOT always

getting what they want, clear boundaries about what the rules are for

behavior, and consistently enforced consequences for breaking those




stepping on

sidewalk ants the boy

everyone bullies

in the howling wind

under the full moon

the snowman, headless

on the bus

the teenager pulls out a mirror

and adjusts her pout

George Swede

from Almost Unseen (Brooks Books, 2000)

Stifling heat

a palm frond suggests

there is a breeze

George Swede – The Heron’s Nest (Dec. 2005)

bully2 bully2

April 26, 2006

Open Letter to Gas-Whiners

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 8:14 pm

We all hate paying over $3 per gallon for gasoline. It seems to

Your Editor, however, that some of us have far better reasons for

complaining than others. Indeed, most of us should be pointing

our fingers at ourselves, and at most of Middle- and Upper-Class

America (and the residents of similarly affluent nations), before we

complain about petroleum companies that are profiting too much

or politicians who are doing too little. (See, e.g., Washington Post,

Bush Calls For Probe Of Rising Gas Prices,” April 26, 2006)


gasNozzleG When it comes to products that we all use and need, the marketplace makes all of us very interdependent. Excessive demand is bound to create painfully high prices for both sinners and saints. Energy Gluttons cause pain for everyone in the marketplace — for themselves and for the Energy Thrifty, who cannot escape the marketplace results of their wastrel countrymen (and fellow inhabitants of Earth). In my not-particularly-humble opinion, the following folk are among the people who should not be complaining very loudly about high gasoline prices:



– anyone who purchased or leased an automobile for
personal or family use in the past decade that achieves

less than 30 mpg on the highway (exception: the truly
poor who bought as gas-efficient a used car as possible)
– anyone who purchased a home in the past decade

that has more than 500 square feet per resident (that

number is probably too high, but I’m trying to be lenient)

afterthought (April 29, 2006): As if it needs to
be said, this list should include:
– anyone who travels by private jet

55 limit n

– anyone who has not made serious, good faith efforts to
engage in car-pooling for getting to work or schlepping the
kids to and from school or social activities

– anyone who has not slowed down to 55 mph, in order to
improve gas mileage up to 15% (see our post gas pain? and
the FTC Consumer Alert How to Improve Gas Mileage, May

– anyone who has enough disposable income to buy one or
more $5 cups of coffee daily, or who only drinks water pur-
chased in small bottles.

On the topic of high gasoline prices, the people in the first two categories

above should consider offering apologies rather than complaints. It’s their

American dream that is fueling our energy nightmare. [Yes, of course, there

are exceptions, and people who do not have meaningful choices, due to their

particular situations. See my customary implied disclaimers.]




My own neighborhood is high-density urban, with a broad spectrum of

social and financial strata intermingled. Residents go from the down-

and-out living in Single Occupancy Rooms at the YWCA and YMCA (who

often don’t have vehicles), to college kids living in small apartments, but

driving $50,000 cars (many of which are gas-guzzlers); to the working poor

with rusty old cars living in tiny apartment units; to professional families and

ancient widows living in large, poorly-insultated, pre-Civil War houses, and

driving any thing from Priuses, and Mini-Coopers, to large SUVs and full-

sized, granny-drivin’ GM cars.


Frankly, some of my neighbors have not earned the right to complain very

loudly about high energy prices. We have, at least, greatly reduced gasoline

consumption by choosing to live in town, rather in sprawling suburban locations.


Choices count; choices add up.


ecological footprint quiz



As I did last year, I urge readers to take the eye-opening Earthday Footprint Quiz,. which was developed by Redefining Here’s how it introduces itself:

Ever wondered how much “nature” your lifestyle requires?

You’re about to find out.

This Ecological Footprint Quiz estimates how much productive land and water you need to support what you use and what you discard. After answering 15 easy questions you’ll be able to compare your Ecological Footprint to what other people use and to what is available on this planet.




There’s even a test for school-aged children, available at the BobbieBigFoot website. There are lesson plans for teachers, including one with the important message: We are All Responsible.

Am I trying to make Americans — like you! and sometimes me! — feel guilty about their energy choices? Yep. The fact that “everybody does it,” shouldn’t make irresponsible lifestyle choices acceptable. The fact that we do some recycling should not get our consciences off the hook. And, it shouldn’t take the current voter revolt to get “conservative” politicians like local U.S. Representative John Sweeney (R-Clifton Park, NY) to support CAFE mileage standards for the very first time. [see this story]

update (Earth Day 2008): Many of the above links relating to your ecological footprint are no longer working. For a related exercise, I suggest checking out your Carbon Footprint, which is a measure of the impact our activities have on the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases we produce. It is measured in units of carbon dioxide. Earth Day (or any day) is a good time to calculate your carbon footprint. At Carbon you can also calculate the (incredibly large amount of ) CO2 you’ll use by flying to a destination.




rising gas prices–

an attendant changing numbers

in a pouring rain


Michael Dylan Welch from Modern Haiku (Winter-Spring 2005)


In Ecological Footprint of Nations2005 Update, you can learn a lot about how American consumption compares to other nations, and is a major contributor to the ongoing, unsustainable use of the Earth’s resources. For example:

– On a global level, humanity is exceeding its ecological limits by 39%. That means that at present rates of consumption,” we would need 1.39 Earths to insure that future generations are at least as well off” as the average inhabitant of Earth is now.

– However, if everyone on the planet consumed as much as North Americans, we would need 8 Earths to insure that future generations are at least as well off as we are now.

– That’s because, North America has an Ecological Footprint per capita that is 5.93 times greater than the amount of biocapacity available per person on a sustainable basis globally.

gasNozzleF – More than 90% of America’s immense Ecological Footprint comes from its use of fossil energy. “As was noted in the 2004 Footprint of Nations report, wealthier nations tend to run negative ecological balances, largelybecause of the high degree of correlation between affluence (expenditures) and fossil fuel consumption.”

Thanks to our large cars and homes, only two nations — the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait — have per capita “ecological deficits” (negative ecological balances) greater than that of the United States. The next closest “deficit” nations are Belgium/Luxembourg, whose ecological deficit is 30% smaller than ours per capita, and Netherlands, which has an ecological deficit 37% smaller than ours.


on the freeway–
the skywriting drifts

Michael Dylan Welch from Open Window -click here for orig. photo & poem

Belgium and the Netherlands may seem like energy martyrs to the average American, but I think you’d agree that their standard of living is not too shabby. Compared to the rest of the world, our consumption choices — what we consider to be our birthright and the indices of a “successful” life — are simply irresponsible. Who is responsible for the painfully high cost of energy? His/her reflection is coming back at you from the rearview mirror of your gas-guzzler and the steamy mirror in your home’s third bathroom.

p.s. Why does this newscast annoy me? When our local Fox23News tv affiliate did a

spot on April 24, 2006, called “Finding more fuel efficient vehicles,” it went to

Langan Motor Car, in Schenectady. We got to hear how “drivers are trying to

adapt” to high gas prices, with Langan’s Assistant Sales Manager, Jeff Keene,

saying, “We’re seeing a lot of people wanting to get out of SUV’s.�” Keene added:

“They come in specifically looking for the mileage but also for the all wheel drive.”

Langan Motor Car sells Audis (and Porsches). Why aren’t I getting all misty-

eyed for the poor consumer?

“MeNeFrego” Italian Hand Gestures – American Energy Consumer to the World?

update (April 29, 2006): npr‘s Morning Edition tells us that “Gas Prices Drive Some to Reconsider Habits,” April 28, 2006. This morning (April 30), the npr Saturday Weekend Edition had a piece you can hear here, that basically says people are still complaining, Lattes in hand. On April 27, npr Q&A on gasoline prices, that does a good job of explaining the why’s and how’s of oil and gasoline pricing, and that included the following:

Is there any evidence that people are starting to change their habits in response to higher prices?

When you ask drivers at the gas station, “Are you trying to conserve?,” they invariably say they are. But weekly data from the Energy Department show that we’re still using more gasoline than we were a year ago. It’s likely that the pace of growth has slowed because of the high price.

gas pump g It also appears that people shopping for new cars are paying more attention to fuel economy than they were a few years ago. Buyers of hybrid and fuel-efficient diesel cars are already eligible for tax breaks, and this week President Bush called on Congress to expand those.

update (May 4, 2006): “ftc unveils its high-test oil and gas info website” (The Federal Trade Commission announced its new Oil and Gas Industry Initiatives website today.)

morning bird song —
my paddle slips
into its reflection

beach parking lot —
where the car door opened
a small pile of sand

toll booth lit for Christmas —

from my hand to hers

warm change

Michael Dylan Welch from The Haiku Anthology (3rd. Ed, edited by Cor van den Heuvel) “morning bird” – Modern Haiku XXIV: 1
“toll booth” — Frogpond XVIII: 4
“beach parking lot” – Frogpond XXI: 2


water-torture bathtub suit still afloat

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 12:02 pm

No news is, alas, not always good news in the frivolous-litigation bizz.

A month ago, we wondered whether the newsless passing of a reported

court date in the noisy-condo-bathtub suit of Smith v. Peterson meant that

the suit had been dropped by loyal-son lawyer Sheldon Smith, or settled

(after a little suasion from his partners at Denver’s Holland and Hart).  For

more details on the facts and “law,” see our prior post from Feb. 28, 2006,

plus Overlawyered and Suz-at-large)  We can now report that the soggy suit

lives on.


     As you know, we dig Suz at Suz-at-Large.  Today, Suz proved that,

among her many talents, she can dig for interesting news to satisfy her

curious readership.  Suz went to one of the primary sources, defendant’s

lawyer and friend, Michael Dowling.  Dowling told her that nothing has 

happened in the case and that the newspaper article got it wrong — March 

22 was not a hearing date, but merely a status tickler for Denver District

Court Judge Ronald Mullins


     With Suz and Walter, and even Prof. Yabut, on the case, rest assured

that you will be among the first to learn of any further developments.


p.s.  In an email late last night (well, late on the East Coast),

Suz mentioned that she and Dowling discussed f/k/a’s coverage

of Smith v.Peterson.   We hereby offer our official invitation to

Michael Dowling to drop by with a Comment or send the Editor

an email, with any insights or perspectives to offer on the case

or our commentary (don’t worry: confidences are strictly held

around here).



spider in the bathtub —

she wants it caught

                  and brought outside






AAI issues Paper on AMD v. Intel and will hold Press Conference

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 1:05 am

As Vitaly Friedman asserted last year, “The stage is set for the biggest tech

battle in years: the antitrust lawsuit filed by AMD against rival Intel.”  Last week,

various sources noted that a Timeline has been set for the AMD/Intel case. (see

The TechReport, April, 21, 2006; Slashdot. April 21, 2006; via Antitrust Review,

 April 22, 2006).  TechReport noted

“A protective order designed to limit information disclosure in order

to protect trade secrets will be submitted on May 22. The parties

will meet again in September to agree on a trial date, and the cut-

off for document production will take place on December 31, 2006.”

NoloSharkSF “noloSharkS”


While others are reporting on surface issues, the American Antitrust Institute‘s

Senior Fellow, Jonathan Rubin, has prepared an 18-page analysis titled 

(April 25, 2006), which “describes the federal court case of AMD v. Intel, providing

background on the industry, on the case itself, and on the international context of

the case and of monopolization doctrine.”

“The primary purpose of this AAI Briefing Paper is to highlight the signifi-

cance of AMD v. Intel as a case that will affect virtually the entire high-

technology sector of the global economy while at the same time it will

have a dramatic effect worldwide on the jurisprudence of the law concerning

dominant firms. This AAI Briefing Paper provides background both on the

case itself and on a variety of developments in the monopolization field that

provide further context.



In addition, tomorrow, Thursday (April 27, 2006), Jon Rubin, Bob Lande, and AAI

President Bert Foer will do a telephonic press conference to summarize the paper

and take questions from the press


update: The telephone press conference will be held:

11:00 a.m. EDT (8:00 a.m. PDT) on Thursday, April 27th

  – Dial-in:  (866) 814-8478

  – Outside the USA: (703) 639-1371 

For more information, contract

Jonathan Rubin, author of the Briefing Paper

(202) 415-0616


Bert Foer, AAI President  

phone  (202) 276-6002 


or Prof. Robert H. Lande (U. Balt. Law) 

(301) 585-5229



                                                                               NoloSharkSFN   “noloSharkSN”




a battle royal
with radishes…



scrawny frog, fight on!
to the rescue






in plum blossom scent
they stop fighting…




in plum blossom scent
they stop fighting…







liesure time–
in cherry blossom shade
picking fights




fighting the mountain wind
on foot…
a wren


translated by David G.Lanoue   




April 25, 2006

spitzer & the sitzfleisher

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 6:20 pm

spitzerG Today, I learned a great new-to-me Yiddish word: “sitzfleish.” The Ariga Glossary of Yiddish Expressions gives this definition:

Sitzfleish – Patience that can endure sitting

(Lit., sitting flesh).

Please let me use it in a sentence:

“If New Yorkers do not display heroic amounts of sitzfleish, the State may be empty long before Election Day, November, 7, 2006.”

vote small Why do my fellow residents of New York State need great infusions of sitzfleish? Think (a) Spitzer; (b) TV ads; and (c) “New York Is Losing People at Fastest Pace in America, New York Sun, by Daniela Gerson, April 20, 2006.

Eliot Spitzer — for whom I will almost certainly vote, should he receive the gubernatorial nomination for the Democratic Party, as now seems nearly inevitable — has been flooding our airwaves and cable lines with election ads for well over a month. The ads are so self-congratulatory, self-righteous, and self-consciously serio-heroic, that I appear to have only two options to salvage my sanity [and supper]: 1) watch no commercial television until after Election Day, or 2) move far beyond the reach of Spitzer’s campaign ads.


spitzerG . . . spitzerG . . . spitzerG

Frankly, I don’t think I have the sitzfleish necessary to subject myself to more Spitzer2006 television ads. Luckily, I listen to virtually no commercial radio, so radio-induced nausea has not been a problem.

As we pointed out last December (reacting to Prof. Bainbridge’s question: Spitzer = Thug?), in German:

– the noun spitzer is a sharpener;

spitze is acuteness, the pinnacle, a sting or a prick;

– the verb spitzen is to nib or sharpen.

Candidate Spitzer is indeed way ahead in all the polls, But, his ads are nibbling away at the enthusiasm of a growing number of his supporters. Already seen as ” a sting or a prick” by his opponents, Spitzer may soon be seen as His Nibs by television viewers across the State, most of whom can never hope to have enough sitzfleish to sit through Spitzer2006 camgaign ads for the next 5+ months.

vote neg Mark Gilbert has pondered The unintended economic consequences” of Eliot Spitzer’s actions as NYS Attorney General. I worry about the demographic consequences, as we all head for the nearest State line. Blitzfleishers heading for the exits.

tiny check One of my fellow New York State haijin, who might just hit the highway, is Ithaca’s Tom Clausen.

the load tied down —
her painted toe nails
on the dashboard

always takes his time
the custodian watches
the floor dry

railroad crossing
an old man
waves at the rain

straight out
of a dream
another day

zoo safari trail…
ant caravans travel
the railing


……………. by Tom Clausen Upstate Dim Sum (2003/II)







sick of being sicced?

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 1:11 am


If you’re volunteering for the Battle of the Blang, you should check out

tonight’s lengthy update to Sunday’s post “that blankety-blank new word

‘blang’. ” The update was inspired by an interesting post at Language Log,

on Monday, by Mark Liberman, titled “Battling Blang” (April 24, 2006).


This post is “inspired” by the same piece.  Mark starts “Battling Blang” with

a lengthy exerpt from from f/k/a, which is always nice.   But, he spotted

a typo that I had missed in my piece and decided to “[sic]” it.  To wit:

“the Old Gray Lady becomes an accesory [sic] to languicide.”



This got me wondering about implicit and explicit, rigid and loose, policies

for when to use the adverb “sic,” which you surely already know stands for 

“Thus; so” and is (per the American Heritage Dictionary, 4th Ed., 2000):

“Used to indicate that a quoted passage, especially one containing

an error or unconventional spelling, has been retained in its original

form or written intentionally.”

Coincidentally, “Sic.” happens to be the abbreviation for (my ancestral home

of) “Sicily,” and for “Sicilian.”  Ironically (or is it?) sic is also a transitive verb


1. To set upon; attack. 2. To urge or incite to hostile action.


                                                                                           dog black

Mark, being a scientist, certainly had no ill-intent when he sicced me.  He

merely wants his readers to know that the error/quirk was in the original.

For most webloggers, however, I’m afraid that “siccing” is meant to attack

or embarrass the quoted author or to incite the reader to ridicule him or her.

tiny check Frankly, there might have been a time when I would use “sic”

offensively to embarrass an author who was in disfavor.  However,

I hope that I’ve grown out of that stage — even if a bit late in life.

Indeed, your Humble Editor is quite often humbled by his many typos (and

grateful to a certain Anonymous Editor who often spots them and alerts me). 

Besides not being a trained typist, I have always been terrible at proof-reading my

own writing — even when others counted on me to review their work and catch

their errors.  Things have gotten much worse the past decade, as a number

of my aging fingers are often rather numb (due to numerous medical problems),

while my old eyes have a hard time with screen glare and trifocal interstices.



her divorce lawyer

listed under “Martial Law” 




Perhaps for those reasons, and perhaps due to the sentimentality that comes

with finding out that one is no longer invincible or anywhere near perfect, I de-

cided shortly after I started this weblog that I would not use “sic” with a quote

when I am quite certain that I know which word was actually meant by the author 

and there is no good reason to embarrass the author by having the misspellation,

typo or mindo pointed out to my readers.  Instead of “siccing” the word, I simply

correct it in the quote.  If there is a doubt as to what the author intended, I have

at times first contacted him or her to see if the odd spelling or odd word was in

fact intended.


In the example above, if quoting the phrase “an accesory to languicide,” from the

f/k/a blang post, I would have noted the context of felony and crime and concluded 

that the poor old author surely meant “accessory.”   Then, even at the risk of appear-

ing condescending, I would have edited the misspelled word and had no need for a





Am I just an old, myopic and decrepit softee, with lax standards?  Am I making

excuses for my own sloppiness? (yes, of course)  What do you do at your weblog,

or what do you expect as a weblog visitor?  Peridemented minds want to know.


update (11 AM, April 25):  A wise weblogging patroon, who is surely too

humble to seek attribution, has pointed out a particularly good reason to

avoid using “sic” in a weblog quotation: a correction — if not already made

by the original author — is very likely to be quickly made once spotted in the

original post or spotlighted elsewhere.  Suddenly, it is the “siccer” who is in

error, with no apparent benefit to any of the parties involved.


an old man’s ways–
my backside warmed
by the wood fire








the old dog
looks as if he’s listening…
earthworms sing






exposing my spine
to the spring sun…
old age



Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue






April 24, 2006

Old Dorp: less backwards! less appealing?

Filed under: pre-06-2006,Schenectady Synecdoche — David Giacalone @ 8:47 pm

Pop quiz: which Upstate New York city is often called “Old Dorp“?

[Hint: it is the now-disowned birthplace of GE] Give up? The answer

is my adopted hometown of Schenectady, New York. As f/k/a

explained a year ago:

Probably because the name Schenectady is tough on headline

writers, our City is often called “Dorp” or “Old Dorp,” from the

Dutch word for village or hamlet.

We also noted, per Encarta, that

dorp” is especially used in South Africa to refer

to a village “perceived as backward or unappealing.”

That characterization drew no dissent from us at the time. But, Old Dorp

might be getting its high-tech aura back, and earning the name RoboDorp.

(You’ll have to decide for yourselves whether our image become more or less




Remington ELSAG



The exciting law enforcement news around here last week was that our city

of 62 thousand souls now has two SPD police vehicles equipped with the

Mobile Plate Hunter 900 from RemingtonELSAG. MPH900 is at the leading

edge of license plate recognition technology. What does that mean? Mounted

atop a police vehicle, the device can:

“scan 20 license plates a second and then feed the information into

a computer database to determine if the owners are wanted for any-

thing from unpaid parking tickets and lapsed vehicle registration to

murder and robbery.” [“Plate Hunter 900 has your number,” Times

Union [Albany], April 20, 2006 (reprinted here) ]

Granted, Los Angeles, CA, had the gizmo a year ago [see “,

Grand Theft Auto Meets Robocop,” June 17, 2005], but Old Dorp just had

its credit rating raised above Junk Bond status a week ago by Moody’s, and

this old town has not been cutting-edge in anything this Millennium. It’s no

wonder then that the media is all a-buzz: See, e.g., Fox23News; and Daily

Gazette,A high-tech hunt for scofflaws,” April 20, 2006.



As its creator tells us: MPH900 not only “operates independently of officer on
board (in the background) – enhancing officer safety by keeping hands on the
wheel and eyes on the scene,” it also

“Works at patrol and highway speeds – oncoming differential speeds
of in excess of 120MPH and passing speeds in excess of 75MPH+
(truly mobile-to-mobile). LPR translates the read plate data into a
digital image, checks versus an onboard hotlist, and returns an alarm
back to the operator in milliseconds for appropriate interdiction.”

The Editorial Page of our daily newspaper, the Schenectady Gazette, was

thrilled — praising the City’s ability to recoup the $20K per unit in a matter of

months by finding ticket scofflaws, and opining:

“Being harassed for a relatively minor violation will make the

scofflaws feel less welcomed in Schenectady; and if that en-

courges them to clean up their act or get out of town, so much

the better.”

The Gazette even added:

“Now that the city has embraced this kind of gee-whiz technology,

we have a suggestion for another: red-light cameras. They’re in-

stalled on traffic signals at busy intersections, and triggered when

motorists run red lights.”

[See “Let Big Brother do more to help police,” April 21, 2006; scroll

to Reply 5]



Normally quite opinionated, the f/k/a Gang admits to having mixed feelings

about this high-tech RoboCopping. Part of me is quite pleased to think that

parking and motor-vehicle scofflaws will be under the all-seeing eye of MPH900.

And, having Old 900 checking plates so that patrol officers can keep their eyes

on more important dangers to the community is a big plus. [As part of a commun-

ity policing seminar I took two years ago, I spent a couple hours on a night shift

in a patrol car. The officer has a lot of responibility out there, and both needs and

deserves to be focused on things other than unpaid parking tickets.

tiny check As a small boy, I remember asking my dad whether

the red lights left a mark on the top of your car if you

ran a red light. I can’t remember whether I was relieved

or disappointed when I learned they didn’t.

Still, I am a bit concerned about privacy rights (not to mention the fact that

those who can park in garages are beyond MPH900’s view).

traffic cop s The Times Union article states:

“Each computer can store up to 1.5 million license plates. Police said
they expected to keep a record of all scanned license plates, even those
that don’t register a violation, in the off-chance the vehicle surfaces in
connection with a future crime. Police could then search computer files
to determine if a suspect’s car was recorded in the vicinity of a crime

“That raises concern with civil libertarians. ‘That would be a privacy
concern of ours,’ said Melanie Trimble, executive director of the New
York Civil Liberty Union’s Albany office. ‘They shouldn’t be storing infor-
mation on people who are perfectly innocent. They should wait until
the person registers a violation.’

traffic patrol

“The Police Department was undecided about how long the records would
be kept, but [SPD Lt. James] Sanders said it was likely the memory would
be erased every 30 days.

What do you think? Don’t be shy (and don’t be as lazy as Your Editor). Please

think about the issues and let us know. Maybe Albany Lawyer weblogger Warren

Redlich, who handles lots of traffic tickets in the Capital Region, including Schenectady,

will post on this topic soon, or leave a Comment here.

update (April 26, 2006): RiskProf Martin Grace isn’t worried about MPH9000

(or, is he?) See “High Tech Scofflaw Detection System,” April 26, 2006.

“tiny check” Do you need a haiku break? For a little transition, I should

tell you that it has been raining a lot in Schenectady the past

few days. I’ve been wondering how two of our Honored Guest poets,

who work here in Schenectady, at Union College, have been coping

with all these April showers. Until I find out, proefssors Hilary Tann

and Yu Chang can speak to us through their haiku and senryu:

mud season

three brown cars

at the intersection

umbrella neg


the end

of the story

work load —

low clouds

over the swollen river

spring sun
the snake and I

Hilary Tann Upstate Dim Sum (2004/II)

turning over

a dead leaf

an earthworm twitches





nesting season

I drift

a little closer





a man in cowboy boots

asks for latte



umbrella vert



April shower —

making small talk

under the awning




back on shore

the river

pouring from his swamp boots


Yu Chang Upstate Dim Sum (2004/II)


Post Thoughts: You may have noticed over the past couple years, that I

never link directly to an online version of Schenectady’s Daily Gazette. That’s

because I refuse to pay $2.95 per week for an online subscription to the Gazette.

The paper — which was once available at no cost online — can be delivered to

your home for $3.50 a week. (The subscription page even explains that “7 day

delivery” includes Sunday.) Luckily, we have a community chat website that

often posts pirated images of Gazette articles that interest me. Still, it annoys

me no end that I can get “real” newspapers online for free (like the Washington

Post and the New York Times), but the folks at the Gazette — whose Circulation

Department often calls offering 6 free weeks of home delivery, no strings attached —

want money for online access.

A post from our Region’s main media weblog Albany Eye caught me eye and

my heart last week, therefore, when its anonymous Editor said:


“Let’s face it, most of you would sooner chop off one of your fingers

than pay for news on the web. Who can blame you —and what are

you really missing by not having The Gazette online, or the godforsaken

Amsterdam Recorder?


“Still, it’s frustrating that instead of figuring out how to profit from the

internet, papers like The Gazette slam shut the door. Is it possible to

make money with your newspaper on the web? Absolutely, but it takes

work. It also takes a new mindset from people who can’t get past the i

dea of you putting $.50 down on the counter. They call it a business

decision; I call it alienating your customers.”

Albany Eye even has a webpoll in the margin asking “How much are you willing

to pay to read The Gazette online?” So far, fewer than 4% of respondents would

pay anything at all (and quite a few have chosen the less-polite options offered in

the poll).

false dawn

the paperboy hits

the snooze button


Since the Gazette now offers “free” Saturday and Friday home delivery with its $1.50

Sunday subscription (which I do get for the comics, coupons and ad circulars), it

seems that the management wants more eyeballs badly. The web version is an exact

replica of the print edition. Albany Eye is right that, with a little work, The Gazette

should be able to make a profit from its website. With its grander competitor, the

Albany Times Union, offering a considerable amount of its content for free online, it is

difficult to figure out the Gazette‘s decision to hide behind an online subscription wall.

It’s going to be hard to shake our Old Dorp “backwards” image, even with new RoboDorp

gadgets, if search engines can’t even get to our newspaper of record. Does your home-

town newspaper have free online access? Does online availability keep you from buying

the hardcopy edition? Does f/k/a erode its readership everytime it mentions Schenectady?

p.s. She doesn’t use purple prose, but she sure does use purple: It’s Brandy Karl

and she’s hosting Blawg Review #54 at her bk! weblog this week.

traffic cop sf

April 23, 2006

that blankety-blank new word “blang”

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 8:44 pm

We campaigned long and hard against the ugly-little word “blog,”

invoking our duty to a joint language legacy.  Earlier this year, we

crusaded adamantly to make the word “blawg” obsolete.  Today,

the f/k/a Gang proclaims its dissent over another spawn of “blog” –

the neologism blang.”   See New York Times, “Coming to Terms

with a Wired Age, Part 2,” by Lisa Belkin, April 23, 2006, in which

— perhaps trying to be a bit too hip and youthful — the Old Gray

Lady becomes an accessory to languicide.

        trashman small

Lisa Belkin’s column builds on one published on April 9th.  The

focus is an important and interesting topic: the ability of language to

“make something official” — to “make a phenomenon fully exist.” As

we discuss below, Part I, focused on words that describe the down-

side of being overly-wired into modern technology.  (Just yesterday,

Your Editor discussed the topic in a confessional post on over-posting.) 

Unfortunately, Belkins ended the April 9th post with a request for more

technology-focused neologisms.  The result was this paragraph in

today’s column: 

“You have names for many other new concepts, too. The longest

list comes from Eve Fox (I can fit only part of it here), a vice presi-

dent for electronic campaigns at M&R Strategic Services in Wash-

ington, who suggests a whole new language. She calls it ‘Blang,’

as in ‘Web language,’ and says it is spoken by ‘Web wraiths’

April 22, 2006

a little less obsession would be nice

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 6:37 pm

Once again, it seems to be time for Your Editor to take about “12 Steps”

away from my laptop.  At least figuratively — and at least regarding the

punditry portion of this multi-personality-but-sole-proprietor weblog.  As 

it has on numerous occasions, contentious commentary is wearing me

out (see e.g.,thatthis and this — somewhat explained by that)


napper gray sm


Focusing on serious stuff even kept me from investigating K.D. Wenger’s

Opinions, until last night (thanks to a reminder at Suz‘s place). Although a

number of the mental illness categories seem potentially relevant to one or

more of my f/k/a alter egos, one passage from Wengler’s piece resonated

the most

Delusional. Bloggers who exhibit any of the following symptoms:

Belief that blogging counts as actual scholarship; belief that blog-

ging makes them sexy or desirable; belief that Glenn Reynolds

actually reads their blog; belief that blogging is an acceptable

substitute for a social life. Surefire diagnosis: Bloggers observed

making repeated, insistent statements that “blogging is not a

waste of time.”



So, I am once again making a public promise to myself to keep the

punditry less intense — or at least brief — for the time being.


Will this attempt to bite off less and savor more do me any good?  My

track record hasn’t been great when it comes to curing hyper-posting.

As “we” confessed on our About page: “So far, health-related attempts

to keep commentary as short as our poetry have failed.”  Wish “us”


tiny check  Although my going public as a chronic member

of Webloggers Anonymous is somewhat daunting,

there is one very good advantage to writing under

one’s own name (and acknowledged pseudonynms):

Your Editor does not have to join certain nameless 

editors at Anonymous Webloggers Anonymous.

Where would their chapter meet?


tiny check Advice for those Wanting to Spend Less Time Reading Weblogs:


laptop in bed

Do not stop by Suz at Large (like I did late last night) for a

supposed “quick visit.”   There is simply far too much inter-

esting material at Suz’s place — served up with attitude,

humor, and some great photography.

What can a humble editor say about a weblog

that is willing to use our entire tagline in its

Worth A Look” blogroll, so its readers might

have a better idea what lies behind the vague

weblog name f/k/a?  [“Thank you,” would be

nice, David.]  Suz‘s own tagline is on target.


tiny check Advice for those Wanting to Spend Less Time Reading

Great Haiku:


Do not purchase the recently-published, first annualized

version of The Heron’s Nest (Vol. VII, 2005).  For only 

$15, you’d get all of the poetry selected by THN‘s choosy

editors, for its quarterly online editions in 2005 – – about

500 haiku from 200 haijin.  And, please, stay away from

the subscription information at the THN website.


Further Warning: The Heron’s Nest (Vol. VII, 2005) includes

its Readers’ Choice Award winners and commentary.  As we

proudly announced back on Feb. 28, f/k/a‘s Honored Guest

poet Carolyn Hall received the Awards for both best poem and 

favorite poet for 2005.   Maybe, if you read a few of her haiku

here, you won’t be tempted to loll away a few evenings with

The Heron’s Nest (2005) in your hands, or THN’s website on

your computer screen.





in a foreign tongue
summer stars







rain-streaked windows
    how to paint
    the finch’s song



the tulips
wide open




river rock —

the folded wings

of a damselfly


Carolyn Hall from The Heron’s Nest (Vol. VII, 2005) 



tiny check  Advice to those Wanting to Make More Money as Prosecutors

(1) Do not meet with Boston Globe editors and reporters and 

suggest “that because defense lawyers hold key positions

in the House, members may tend to be more sympathetic to the

defense bar.” [See Boston Globe, “District Attorneys seek increase

in funds:State’s prosecutors say they can’t keep seasoned veterans,

April 22, 2006]

[obvious ed. note: The lawyers on the Mass. House appropria-

tions and judiciary committees are the very people the D.A.s

must butter-up to increased appropriations.]



(2) Do try to find a few “seasoned veterans” in the lobbying business

to vet your publicity drives.

[more subtle ed. note: Forget your image of “Boston Lawyers.”

Our bar advocate blurbs page and essay bar & guild should

suggest that Massachusetts lawyers can be rather oblivious

to decorum and appearances when they’re trying to increase

their own incomes.] 


(3) Do get more articles planted like this one in today’s Globe:



p.s. Where are our priorities?  Until the evening news, we forgot today

is Earth Day. (Gees, even G.W. Bush remembered!)  The same thing

almost happened in 2003: see earth to Yabut . . .   


earth’s birthday:


our Valentine cards




Earth Day:

driving her Hummer

to the Recycling Center





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