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

January 15, 2009

flight 1549: fatalities — a big goose egg!

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 7:09 pm

US Airways Flight 1549:  It’s very cold here in Upstate New York, but I’m still taking off my hat to praise the pilot (Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, of Danville, Calif.), crew and passengers of US Airways Flight 1549, and all of the rescue workers (fire department, police department and Port authority police).  Together, they were able to bring today’s plane crash into the Hudson River to a remarkably happy ending — with all aboard surviving (most not even getting wet) and no apparent serious injuries. “All 155 survive plane crash in NYC’s Hudson River” (AP/Charlotte Observer, Jan. 15, 2009); “Jet Ditches in Hudson; All Are Said Safe” (New York Times, Jan. 15, 2009) [Click for “latest updates on the Hudson jet rescue” from the NYT City Room weblog.]

NY Gov. David Paterson got it right, when he said:

This is a potential tragedy that may have become one of the most magnificent days in the history of New York City agencies.”

Apparently, the plan encountered a flock of geese. We now know what a “double bird” means to airline and safety workers — a bird or several birds entering engines on both sides of the plane.  According to a side article in the Charlotte Observer, there were at least 6 bird-plane collisions in 2008 — geese, hawks, owls and more.

— we’re left with yet another perspective on flocks of geese —

update (Feb. 12, 2009): The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board reported today that experts at the Smithsonian Institution have determined it was indeed Canadian geese that brought down Flight 1549, after examining 25 samples of bird remains found in the plane’s engine.  See AP report on, and CNN.

Master Issa wrote hundreds of haiku about geese, in the 19th Century.  Here’s a sample (find many more here)

another year
they’re back for the massacre…
rice field geese

wind is blowing
and so the geese
are honking

settling back
to dead silence…
rice field geese

finalizing the divorce
leaving my house behind…
departing geese

the departing goose
drops an enormous

after many nights
telling me bedtime stories
the geese have left

straight out of a full moon
the geese depart

evening wind–
the geese turn around

after the geese depart
back to normal…
Sumida River

…….. by Kobayashi Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue

honking at my window –
geese above
cabbie below

… by dagosan

January 11, 2009

can Grimmy be my Service Dog?

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 4:08 pm

Grimmy . . .

holidays over  –
the dog puts a halo
on my snow angel

… by dagosan

.. f/k/a is going to the dogs today, inspired by a few stories in the news (about Colombian coffee, assistance creatures and Pavlovian partisan politics, which are discussed below), plus a haiku or two.

distant thunder
the neighbor’s dog
scratches the door

in the park
my dog fetches
a better stick

… by w.f. owen — from haiku notebook

tripping over the dog
night of winter rain

… by Kobayashi Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue

[full cartoon; Mother Goose & Grimm, Jan. 2, 2009]

Canned Canine? We reported last year that drinking coffee enhances your mood and makes you more sociable.  Apparently, the same cannot be said for growing coffee. Grimmy’s cartoon sidekick Attila brought the wrath of the Colombian coffee cartel down on his master Mike Peters, this week.  Attila made a crack in the Mother Goose & Grimm comic strip of January 2, 2009 [detail above; full cartoon] about the nation’s crime syndicates and finding “a little bit of Juan Valdez,” the fictitious symbol of Colombian coffee growers, in every can. See “Colombian coffee growers sue U.S. cartoonist,” Columbia Reports (Jan. 6, 2009); more coverage at Robot 6 (Jan. 7, 2009); The Associated Press, Jan. 8, 2009; and the SSFeral Children weblog (Jan. 7); via (Jan. 9).

Sun-scorched slope– 
an old donkey rubs his rump
against a mud-crusted post

…… by Rebecca Lilly – Shadwell Hills (Birch Press, 2002)

Feeling its national dignity, and that of the 300,000 small, independent coffee growers that it represents, was insulted, The Federation of Colombian Coffee Growers announced a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Mike Peters because his cartoon linked Colombia’s coffee with its crime syndicates.

The Juan Valdez strip, which is not one of Peters’ funniest, was part of a week-long series based on the fact that the inventor of the Pringles potato chip can had his ashes buried in one.

Going a bit over the top, federation director Gabriel Silva said last Tuesday that the guild seeks:

“not just an economic compensation for something that damages the intellectual heritage. We also want moral compensation. A public manifestation.”

Mike Peters is also a well-known editorial cartoonist. It’s a bit surprising (unless you take into account the $20 million request for damages) that he held back his tongue in responding:

“I had no more thought to insult Colombia and Juan Valdez than I did Pringles, Betty Crocker, Col. Sanders, Dr. Pepper and Bartles & Jaymes. . .

“I thought this was a humorous subject and all of my Mother Goose & Grimm cartoons are meant to make people laugh. I truly intended no insult.”

We’re pleased to see that some of Colombia’s most respected cartoonists are scoffing at the law suit and calling it a waste of time. Although the f/k/a Gang will continue to drink Colombian coffee every day, Grimmy and I are symbolically raising our legs, not our mugs, to salute the litigiously-over-caffeinated Cafateros Cartel and their New York lawyers.

the taste
of coffee –
the aftertaste

Park Closed ’til Spring
yellow snow
behind the Rest Rooms

… by dagosan

.. Look Who’s Coming to Dinner: An article in last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, “Creature Comforts” (January 4, 2009) by Rebecca Skloot, has left me more knowledgeable and open-minded than I was when I started the article.  But, I’m still not sure where I would draw my bottom line about how to define “service animal” for the purposes of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which says businesses must allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals into all areas of the business where customers are normally allowed to go. Only if a service animal is out of control and presents a direct threat to others, may you ask the customer to remove it from the premises.

For me, the whole topic of Service Animals and Therapy Animals (a/k/a Creatures) was, frankly, colored by my dislike of people who drive with dogs in their laps (see prior post) and other pet-lovers who insist upon bringing their much-loved “family members” everywhere they go — even into places like restaurants and drug stores, where pets are not normally allowed.

The NYT piece taught me one important point: To distinguish between Service Animals and Therapy/Comfort Animals, which are treated differently under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

  • “Service animals” are animals that are individually trained to perform specific tasks for people with disabilities.
  • “Therapy animals” (also known as “comfort animals”) are used for emotional support, comfort, companionship, or therapeutic benefits, but are not trained to do any particular tasks for an individual. They are not considered to be service animals and business do not have to let customers bring Comfort Animals into their establishments.

It sounds like I won’t be able to bring Grimmy along with me as my Service Animal — the therapeutic effects of his humor on my mood and well-being only place him in the Comfort Animal category.  It’s a good thing that I can sneak Grimmy into a restaurant in a briefcase (and that he’s paper-trained).  Mother Goose can’t claim his fetching the morning paper for her as a covered “task,” either, since she’s not disabled.

Seeing-eye Dogs are our archetypical example of Service Animals.  But, Skoot tells us in her article that:

“a growing number of people believe the world of service animals has gotten out of control: first it was guide dogs for the blind; now it’s monkeys for quadriplegia and agoraphobia, guide miniature horses, a goat for muscular dystrophy, a parrot for psychosis and any number of animals for anxiety, including cats, ferrets, pigs, at least one iguana and a duck. They’re all showing up in stores and in restaurants, which is perfectly legal because the Americans With Disabilities Act (A.D.A.) requires that service animals be allowed wherever their owners want to go.”

Naturally, the line between therapy animals and psychiatric service animals has always been blurry, because it comes down to varying definitions of the words “task” and “work” — and whether something like actively soothing a person qualifies. D.O.T. guidelines for airplanes muddied the waters considerably, however, with new guidelines saying, “Animals that assist persons with disabilities by providing emotional support qualify as service animals.”  People started thinking they could bring their Comfort Animals everywhere, so long as they had documentation that the animal was needed.  As Skloot notes:

  • “Soon, a trend emerged: people with no visible disabilities were bringing what a New York Times article called “a veritable Noah’s Ark of support animals” into businesses, claiming that they were service animals. Business owners and their employees often couldn’t distinguish the genuine from the bogus.”
  • However, “To protect the disabled from intrusive questions about their medical histories, the A.D.A. makes it illegal to ask what disorder an animal helps with. You also can’t ask for proof that a person is disabled or a demonstration of an animal’s ‘tasks’.”  You can only ask whether it is a service animal and what particular task it performs.  You many not ask for documentation.

.. how do you feel about service animals? .. ..

The article focuses on the fact that the U.S. Department of Justice is considering a proposal that would ban all but canine service animals and leave “therapy animals” out of the definition.  At her Culture Dish weblog, Rebecca Skloot follows-up on the magazine article with several helpful and thought-provoking posts.  One gives you DoJ’s Rationale Behind Banning Non-Canine Service Animals (January 7, 2009); another has DoJ’s reasoning for allowing Psychiatric Service Animals but leaving Therapy Animals out of the definition.  Skloot also gives more details about various non-canine service animals, including Panda the miniature horse, Sadie the Parrot and an assistance monkey.

By the time I finished reading Skoot’s materials, I was far less skeptical of Skloot’s assertion that “What’s most striking about Edie and Panda is that after the initial shock of seeing a horse walk into a cafe, or ride in a car, watching them work together makes the idea of guide miniature horses seem utterly logical. Even normal.”  Nonetheless, I’m not sure yet where I would come down on the question of whether only dogs should be considered as Service Animals.  I am, however, still certain that businesses should be able to ostracize mere Comfort Animals.   The definition of Service Animal and the scope of related obligations and rights under the ADA is a topic that is both interesting and important.

cloudy valley
the dog barks
at himself

… by David G. Lanoue author of the novel Haiku Guy

.. Pavlovian Lapdog Politics:  Last August, we wrote of our dislike for the Norwellianly-named Employee Free Choice Act, while scoffing at the claims of its proponents that the Act has bi-partisan support. Our main complaint was that — as Carl Strock wrote in the Daily Gazette — it should have been called the “Election Suppression Act” or the “Strong-Arm Sign-Up Act.” As Strock noted in his post “Employee Free Choice?” EFCA permits “signing a card handed to you by a possibly pushy or intimidating organizer” to count just as much as a secret ballot.

We don’t like it any more today, and in fact find that the economic arguments made by those against EFCA, about hurting small business and their employees, ring true.  See, e.g., “A Labor Dilemma for President Bam,” at Point of Law.   One thing for sure: It is not change, nor new politics, for a Democratic President to be seen as the lapdog of organized labor.  Our only hope is that Barack Obama, should he hold his nose and sign EFCA, can now say to the unions who helped elect him, “That’s the last time I will support a bill on your behalf that does not meet my standards of fairness and intelligent economics.

in the park
my dog fetches
a better stick

… w.f. owen — from Haiku Notebook

all day rain
on the playing field
a stray dog

… by Tom Painting – from A New Resonance 2: Emerging Voices

traffic jam
a plastic dog
keeps on nodding

………Yu Chang – Upstate Dim Sum (2002/I)

the village dog
suddenly disapproves…
the scarecrow

a long day–
the dog and the crow

… by Kobayashi Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue

distant thunder–
the dog’s toenails click
against the linoleum

not much afternoon left–
his dog runs loose
ahead of him

the dog out–
the stars in

. . . . by Gary Hotham – breathmarks (Canon Press, 1999)

January 4, 2009

cardinal sins from Charon and Zevon

Filed under: lawyer news or ethics,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 7:27 pm

As regular readers know, the f/k/a Gang considers Thematic Excess to be among the deadliest of sins when it comes to hosting the weekly Blawg Review carnival.  So, we were duly scandalized this evening seeing the content of Blawg Review #193, which appears at Charon QC‘s eponymous weblog.   The fictitious Charon teaches law in the U.K., and has decided to pen Blawg Review #193 in the guise of The Lord of Misrule (whoever that is), presenting his selection of the best recent posting from law-related weblogs in a prolix list formulated around the Seven Deadly Sins.

In the spirit of the New Year, however, we’ve decided not to chastise Charon excessively.  Three things helped us turn to mercy rather than mud-slinging:

  • Buried in the Avaritia-Greed category, we discovered this plum:

“Perhaps this would have been better in the Lust category… but David Giacalone of f/k/a had a sparklingly Savage year in 2008.”

. . . thanks, Charon.

If you’re not familiar with the polka-beat song (which Prof. Yabut can often be heard mangling in the shower), here are a few representative stanzas:

from “Mr. Bad Example
(Warren Zevon & Jorge Calderon)

I’m very well acquainted with the seven deadly sins
I keep a busy schedule trying to fit them in
I’m proud to be a glutton, and I don’t have time for sloth
I’m greedy, and I’m angry, and I don’t care who I cross

Of course I went to law school and took a law degree
And counseled all my clients to plead insanity
Then worked in hair replacement, swindling the bald
Where very few are chosen, and fewer still are called

I’m Mr. Bad Example, intruder in the dirt
I like to have a good time, and I don’t care who gets hurt
I’m Mr. Bad Example, take a look at me
I’ll live to be a hundred and go down in infamy

  • Finally, Charon’s recital of his own vices and peccadillos has convinced us he’s unlikely to be affected in the least by our opinion of his (confessedly award-winning) style.

So, you’re off the hook this time, Charon.  But, please, a little more discretion — and a lot less theme — next year.

no good deeds
but also no sins…
winter seclusion

caged bird–
watching the butterfly
with envy

… by Kobayashi Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue

p.s. Speaking of Greed, Anger, Pride and other such vices, the launching of LexTweet by the folks at LexBlog [see Legal Blog Watch, Jan. 2, 2009] seems to explain why Kevin O’Keefe slammed me so hard when I refused to jump on the Twitter bandwagon, and made a grudging apoplogy that was so meaningless.

January 2, 2009

new year already old hat

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 9:48 pm

January 3rd 
only the panhandler
says “happy New Year!”

… by dagosan

It looks like I’m going to have to edit that senryu I wrote a couple years ago.  This afternoon (January 2, 2009), the pretty and popular young check-out girl at our public Library was quite taken aback when I handed her the items I wanted to borrow and said “Happy New Year.”   A few hours into her first work shift of 2009, and the idea of offering good tidings for the new year to someone she sees and chats with a few times a week had already floated into “whatever” oblivion for the young college student and part-time civil servant.  The same thing happened when I passed a neighbor on the sidewalk a block from home around noon.

Sigh. After expending all that effort trying to work up a head of steam of Christmas cheer, people are already sticking pins in my holiday balloon.  Well, I’m going to see what happens tomorrow — and Sunday, too — when I extend New Year’s greetings to folks encountered as I do my quotidian weekend tasks [Don’t you hate that over-used, pretentious word for “everyday”?  Maybe the New York Times could resolve to eschew quotidian in 2009].  Of course, by Monday (January 5th), if I’m still chirping “Happy New Year!” at all the passersby, people will be wondering if I’m going to hit them up for the price of a pint of dago red.

. . .  . While my old HLS classmate Christopher Edley (now dean of UC Berkeley law school, as I fiddle around with this darn weblog) and a few other deans are worrying about finding admissions criteria to help determine success after law school (via Court-o-rama); and USF law dean Jeffrey Brand is seeking lawyers with skill sets such as “empathy, persuasiveness and the willingness to have the courage to do the right thing — which the LSAT does not measure;” I’m going to settle for posting a handful of New Year’s poems by Master Haiku poet Kobayashi Issa, who always seems to find the right balance of bitter and sweet, hope and realism.

a present, a present
a New Year’s present!
her pink cheeks

my tumble-down house
just as it it…
“Happy New Year!”


the cat steals
a New Year’s nap…
sitting room

here and there
hanging in the thicket…
New Year’s ropes

a full round
of New Year’s greetings
at the inn

with a cheer
my hut’s New Year’s decorations
up in smoke

………………… by Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue

afterwords (Jan. 3, 2009): Scott Greenfield expands (as he does so well) on this topic this morning at Simple Justice, in “A New Year’s Shelf Life,” where he laments that the problem of the “contraction of the Happy New Year greeting opportunity” is part of a broader societal insistence on immediacy and brevity.  Despite agreeing with Scott that most topics worth discussion require nuance and explanation, dagosan and the rest of the f/k/a Gang want to point out that demanding immediacy and brevity is just fine when it comes to certain poetic genre.

December 29, 2008

2008 melts away

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 12:35 pm

As the old year comes to a close, the only bakers I want to be contemplating are Mama G., (Aunt) Grace Papagni, Sylvia Briber, and other selfless souls who have been stuffing the entire f/k/a Gang with all sorts of Christmas cookies and similar treats over the past week.

empty cookie tin —
letting out last year’s
santa suit

to curb –
pine needles and tinsel

…. by dagosan – from “Holiday Haiku from Schenectady

Nonetheless, I’ve been spending far too much time the last two days responding to Ron Baker and Ed Kless, who are defending Value Pricing (their version of vale billing) in comments to a prior post here at f/k/a.

. . . .  Despite his adopting a new-agey, feel-good image, and condemning hourly billing as unethical, it seems quite clear to me that Value Pricing guru Ron Baker wants lawyers to charge (and clients to pay) higher fees than can be generated using hourly billing. Value Pricing is the mechanism he touts — in books, seminars, private consultations, articles, and more — as the way to achieve those premium fees.

If that topic interests you, click the above link (and see our prior post and the links therein).  For another perspective on a topic that kept us busy at this weblog again in 2008, see the Washington Post article “Laws to Track Sex Offenders Encouraging Homelessness” (via The Moderate Voice, Dec. 27, 2008).

holiday thaw
a trooper emerges
from the snowmelt mist

… by dagosan

The f/k/a Gang would much prefer to be focusing on more pleasant topics.  Like seasonal haiku and senryu, and the wonderful sunset last night along the Mohawk River (at the end of my block of Washington Avenue, in the Schenectady Stockade), which I tried to capture with my Canon Powershot.

rising river…
sandbaggers pass
a brown paper bag

.. by Ed Markowski

— looking eastward into Riverside Park; Dec. 28, 2008 —

year’s end
the bartender
blocks my reflection

…… by Tom Painting – The Heron’s Nest

New Year’s Eve –
the lentil soup

…… by Tom Clausen – from Homework (Snapshot Press 2000)

blue sky
behind bare branches
year-end bonus

…. by David A. Giacalone – Legal Studies Forum XXIX:1 (2005)

……………….. ..

.. the view west toward the Western Gateway Bridge; Dec. 28, 2008 —

last week of the year
ice floes rush
to the waterfall

… by David Giacalone – Roadrunner Haiku Journal (Feb. 2006)

December 26, 2008

inflatable spirits at a time of deflation

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 2:08 pm

Boxing Day drizzle –
the inflatable snowman
keeps smiling

…………… by dagosan

A year ago, I reported that the inflatable snowman across the street from Mama G’s place in Gates, NY, was still smiling on a rainy December 26th. I’m not sure if it’s a sign of our rocky times, or just a result of 55-mph winds on Christmas Eve, but that same vinyl Snowman was rather tipsy — or maybe playing Peeping Tom — around sunset on Christmas Day:

Of course the big non-bio-degradable Snowman might have been trying to catch a glimpse Christmas morning of ABC’s Good Morning America and its segment featuring Bob Eckstein, author of ”The History of the Snowman [see our prior post], If you missed Bob on GMA, click here Science of a Snowman (Dec. 25, 2008) However, like the f/k/a Gang, Bob might not be too popular with inflatable snowpersons or their supporters. As we pointed out back in February, our friendly Snowman Expert told USA Weekend that:

Every 8-foot-high blow-up snowman is a lost opportunity of a God-given gift we all have: artistic expression.”

The inflatable Frosty across the street is apparently sleeping in this afternoon, so I can’t describe his current state of uprightness. At a time when global warming might be reducing our opportunities to make art and fun from newly-fallen snow, I agree with Bob Eckstein’s assertion in today’s New York Daily News, that “As everything melts down, there’s no man like a snowman” (op/ed, December 26, 2008):

“We have all waited a long time for change. Change of leadership, change of seasons. And what we need to lift our spirits now is snow: cold, beautiful, malleable snow. We need joviality, an inexpensive treat that reminds us we don’t have to plug something in or stare at a screen to have fun. We only need the sky to open up and cloak our city with the fluffy stuff.

So, let us return to our roots. And begin the new year with a return to the basics. As never before, we need to make snowmen.”

winter fog
i stub my toe
on the snowman

………… by ed markowski

If you need a little post-Christmas inspiration today, the f/k/a Gang suggests reading the op/ed reminder in today’s New York Times, that “Boxing Day Is for Giving” — charitable giving (Judith Flanders, Dec. 26, 2008). Ms. Flanders gives us a history lesson:

“Boxing Day, usually thought of as Dec. 26, but technically the first weekday after Christmas, has a distinguished pedigree in Britain, and during this time of economic crisis, it is good to be reminded of it. It is on Boxing Day, after all, on the “feast of Stephen,” that “Good King Wenceslas” looked out and saw the snow, “deep and crisp and even.” The cold was notable not for its beauty, but for the hunger that it brought with it. The king calls for food, wine and “pine logs” not for his own feast, but that he and his page may “bear them thither” to give to the poor.”

She concludes with a suggestion that we make Boxing Day a national holiday in the USA — but, not just “another day in the round of shop-eat-family-family-family.

“Instead Boxing Day could return as a day of giving. Not necessarily cash — and not material to make uniforms — but rather one day a year to donate skills or effort, a day for sharing something of value in the larger community. . .

“What we really need to do is put down the punch bowl and pick up on what Punch magazine wrote more than 150 years ago: Don’t just keep the Christmas of the belly: keep you the Christmas of the heart. Give — give’.”

.. Boxing Day technically lasts the entire last week of the year. So, Prof. Yabut, dagosan and the rest of the Gang will first be catching a sugar-filled-tummy holiday season nap this afternoon, and then be putting Ms. Flanders’ Boxing Day advice into action. We hope that — unlike the family of Inflatables across the street — our charitable-sharitable feeling won’t be just a lot of hot air that is packed away the rest of the year. Happy Boxing Day to our readers!

December 22, 2008

another East Aurora snow day

Filed under: q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 3:52 pm

School children woke this morning to another Snow Day in the Buffalo suburb of East Aurora, New York.  I’m not sure whether my eight-year old nephew James would have preferred to join his friends and teachers in a day of pre-Christmas classroom adventures.  And, I really don’t know whether his solo-practicing lawyer daddy Arthur needed to concentrate on clients rather than shoveling this morning.

[click to enlarge]

I’m glad, indeed, that they sent me the above photo from their driveway.  It’s surely worth more than a thousand words from the Buffalo Weather Man about blowing snow, “lake effects” and wind-chills.  Naturally, we’re all hoping Baby Boomer Santa has the energy and night-vision needed to make all of his appointed rounds on Christmas Eve.

p.s. Just in case we actually do get too busy with Holiday To-Do to post again before Christmas, the f/k/a Gang sends best wishes for a joyous holiday — and safe travel — to all of our readers and weblogging friends, who have helped keep us on our toes and up to mischief in 2008.

Congratulations to all the winners of Dennis Kennedy’s 2008 Blawggies, including Jordan Furlong, whose often challenging and always interesting Law 21 weblog won Dennis’ award for Best New Law-Related Weblog.

December 21, 2008

let’s move Christmas to May

Filed under: Haiga or Haibun,q.s. quickies,Schenectady Synecdoche — David Giacalone @ 11:41 am


Christmas Eve
in an airport lounge
grandpa paces

poem: by dagosan; photo by Arthur Giacalone

This kind of headline is never really news at Christmas Time in America:

Fierce Northwest storm adds to nation’s numerous weather worries as holiday approaches” (Associated Press, December 21, 2008)

As is all too much a part of our nation’s holiday tradition, tens of millions of Americans are facing harsh and dangerous weather conditions this week, while rushing to create joyous Christmas celebrations and reunions for their families and loved ones.  We never know when or how the weather will turn our plans upside down, nor who will spend Christmas Eve in an airport lounge or roadside ditch.

We noted this time last year, in our post “Christmas and Winter Don’t Mix“, that:

It looks like a Winter Wonderland, but it has me wondering yet again why we jeopardize our physical and psychic health every year trying to perform an already-stressfully-long list of holiday chores — and accomplish the related travel — in the time of year that is most likely to have the most inhospitable weather.

It’s quite clear that the historical figure Jesus of Nazareth was not born at this time of year (see our prior post).  Christmas was placed around the Winter Solstice (click for related haiku and discussion) to make Christianity more popular by piggy-backing on the traditional pagan solstice celebration.  That’s simply not a good enough reason for subjecting the nation (and all its grandmas) to the vagaries and worries of winter in North America.

where I sat as a child
I wait out the storm

……….. by Hilary Tann, in Holiday Haiku from Schenectady; orig. pub. in Upstate Dim Sum (2004/I)

Prof. Yabut opined last year:

We need to get over [the childish desire to have snow on the ground for Christmas] — if only to help assure that as many of our loved ones as possible can travel in safety and with some assurance that they will arrive and depart when planned. As a bonus, we wouldn’t have to dig our cars out, before heading (in bulky, hot clothing unsuitable for indoor shopping), on treacherous roads with ineffective defrosters, to mall parking lots cluttered with space-stealing snow banks, in order to buy and return Christmas presents.

In this season of hope, as we usher in a political era of hope and practicality, the f/k/a Gang implores President-elect Barack Obama to get behind a campaign to move Christmas to a more reasonable time of year.

The Saturday before Mother’s Day might be a good substitute, since we already focus on motherhood and familial love and sacrifice (rather than gifts and greed) that weekend.

The new date might just allow us to put the loving spirit-of-Christ back into Christmas, and to shake off the commercial excess symbolized by Santa Claus.

Given our current economic woes, this might be a particularly good year to celebrate Christmas in the Spring.  It will bring a well-needed economic stimulus early in 2009, while leaving the option open for another buying spree in December around the optional old-timey feast of Giftmas.

snow emergency
santa’s running
a little late

poem: by dagosan; photo by Arthur Giacalone

Meanwhile, we wish all of our readers, kith and kin, safe travels and smooth itineraries, as they work to re-unite with their families in the face of Mother Nature’s whims.

If you’re sitting home waiting for delayed and waylaid guests to arrive, a photo display in today’s Schenectady Sunday Gazette might help to bolster your holiday mood.  It’s “Grand Entrances” (Dec. 21, 2008), which features thirty Stockade doors decorated with wreaths and garland for the holidays.  They are all located in my neighborhood, the Stockade Historic Distric.  The Gazette display inspired me to bundle up and walk up the block with my Canon PowerShot 5, to 32 Washington Avenue, the home of the Schenectady County Historical Society, which somehow did not make it into the Gazette display.  Here it is for your enjoyment:


.. Schenectady County Historical Society, 32 Washington Avenue, Dec. 21, 2008..

Christmas snow
my father’s footsteps
bigger than mine

………………….. by yu chang

December 19, 2008

a punch and punditry-free zone today

Filed under: q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 4:33 pm

Want cogent commentary this snowy Friday?  Forget the sleepy f/k/a Gang, which is struggling to stay awake and work on our Holiday To Do List, while watching Schenectady’s first big snowstorm arrive out my window. Better head to Simple Justice, where Scott Greenfield is cranking ’em out as he does so consistently and well.  The past couple of days, Scott has discussed the appropriate bail and sentence for Bernie Madoff, the wonder of $605 per hour lawyer fees for associates (and $285 for summer student hires), some likely Rooms in the George W. Bush Library, and much more — while dealing with yokels who can’t remember his surname.

Here are a few poems reprised from last year’s post, “Holiday Hell Week at Family Court” (Dec. 18, 2007), which aimed to help families with parents and minor children living apart:

Christmas Day
the exchange
of custody

…….. John Stevenson – from Some of the Silence

from Mom’s to Dad’s
the clickity-clack
of suitcase wheels

. . . . by alice framptonNew Resonance 3: Emerging Voices (2003)

ides of december –
santa asks the judge
where to find the kids

… by dagosan

.. Don’t forget our Christmas Season Haiku page.

December 16, 2008

we need our traditional pre-holiday nudge

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 10:16 pm

Maybe Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler can help . . .

married a decade
she hides
the mistletoe

setting up the creche –
the Baby’s name
uttered over and over

“easy to assemble”
I put it back and
grab a teddybear

nine days ’til Christmas –
the tree and the cat
both shedding

…. from the “not quite the holiday” sequence at dagosan’s haiku diary (Dec. 6, 2007)

.. In a week, I’ve got to head home for Christmas with the Family of Origin.  Like every other year of my adult life, pre-Christmas Scrooge Syndrome has paralyzed me (e.g., 2007 and 2005). Neither the flesh nor the spirit seems willing to work through that ever-growing Holiday To Do List.

I was about to despair, until I saw an article in the new Harvard Law Bulletin: “Intelligent Design: Cass Sunstein shows how ‘choice architecture’ can help people make better decisions” (Fall 2008).  It reminded me that I’ve been meaning since last April to read Sunstein and Thaler’s much-praised book “Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness” (Yale Univ. Press 2008).  A lifetime of Mama G’s “catholic maternalism” hasn’t helped me get my Holiday Act together, but surely the “libertarian paternalism” extolled in Nudge can lead me out of my annual Yuletime wheel-spinning and teeth-grinding.

wrapping and
packing –
she pastes on a smile

…. by grinchosan

Thaler and Sunstein seem to have me in mind when trying to understand how human beings make choices — and how to “nudge” them into making the best choices (for themselves and society) by better structuring the context in which our choices are made.  According to HLB:, S&T’s “choice architecture . . . acknowledge[s] that many people will take whatever option requires the least effort.”

. . . “Human beings will often consider required choice to be a nuisance or worse, and would much prefer to have a good default,” they write. “And, these tendencies toward doing nothing will be reinforced if the default option comes with some implicit or explicit suggestion that it represents the normal or even the recommended course of action.”

Naturally, I was hoping they’d already have a relevant Holiday Nudge to get me working on that To Do List right now.  But, a quick search at their Nudge weblog turned up nothing specific for turning on (much less sustaining or modeling) holiday spirit — no “holiday decision tree” for working past my punchbowl procrastination and finding seasonal renewal and inspiration.

I did find a link at their weblog to a dozen sample nudges from the book, and I’m planning to read them before heading to bed tonight.  If I sleep on it, I’ll surely wake up as converted as the post-visitation Scrooge.

Just in case that doesn’t work, I picked up a copy of Nudge from the Library today.  It’s almost 300 pages.  If it takes me a couple days to read and absorb Nudge — and construct my own Holiday Choice Architecture — I’ll surely have time to get that To Do List done. Buy those cards and write them on Thursday.  Start shopping Friday afternoon, and wrapping on Saturday.  Get together with my best Schenectady-area Friends on Sunday and Monday.  A bit of panic-packing on Tuesday. And, . . .

By the way, how late is the Post Office open on December 23rd?  And, does Santa have a Default Position?

update (Dec. 17, 2008; 11:30 PM): Thanks to the Nudge Blog for soliciting suggestions and solutions in response to our plea for help.  It remains to be seen whether the Nudge experts and their disciples can solve our chronic Christmas crisis.  As of this update, they’ve only attracted an additional To Do List for me.  Hmmm.

afterwords (Dec. 31, 2008):  As we wrote on December 22, a maternal nudge got us on the road to a happy holiday.   And, see this post for a Boxing Day de-briefing.

first doubts
santa sounds
like Uncle Al

…… by dagosan; photo by Mama G. (1952; larger haiga here)

December 15, 2008

it’s Bill of Rights Day

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 12:57 pm

.. As Blawg Review‘s righteous editor reminded us a few days ago, President Bush has declared today to be Bill of Rights Day.  You’ll find the text of the Bill of Rights — the first ten Amendments to the U.S. Constitution — at the foot of this posting (click more).  The Bill of Rights was ratified by Congress on December 15, 1791.

No matter how ironic it might seem that GW is celebrating the Bill of Rights, I’m happy to say that you can find tributes and reminders of our rights (and our responsibility to work to uphold those rights) across the web, and especially on lawyer weblogs.

  • For example, see Eric Turkewitz’s tribute to John Peter Zenger, who helped establish the right of freedom of the press in Britain’s American colonies. Eric’s post includes an inspiring reference to a shopping mall, Bill of Rights Plaza in Eastchester, NY.

It is no coincidence that our blawging paisan, the oft-irreverent libertarian Prof. Marc Randazza, is hosting Blawg Review #190 today at The Legal Satyricon.  Normally not fans of theme-based Blawg Reviews, the f/k/a Gang (like Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice) is grateful that Marc has focused on each of the ten Amendments, reminding us that (beyond the Biggies that get all the attention) there are several important Rights that rarely get mentioned in the media or in our everyday conversation.  Head over to Blawg Review #190 to find links to recent posting at lawyer weblogs about every one of the Amendments contained in the Bill of Rights.

Fresh from a liberating weekend, during which an ice storm prevented us access to the internet and freed up a bit of time for just lazying around our 4th-Amendment-protected home, the f/k/a Gang doesn’t feel much like heavy pundit-lifting this morning.  So, we’re merely going to praise the Founding Fathers for adding the Bill of Rights:

“in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of [the powers of the federal Government . . . and] best insure the beneficent ends of its institution.”

And, as we have every right to do, we’ll also try again to clear up a misconception that is far-too-prevalent about the First Amendment.  To wit, as we’ve said before:

. The mistaken invocation of the First Amendment against private action is something that every American has heard since birth. [Try living with a teenager and see how often you face such arguments.]  Those who erroneously believe that all Americans have the right to say whatever they want whenever they want come from all walks of life and all ideologies and parties.  . . .  The Bill of Rights limits Government action, not private action. It is basic ignorance of the meaning of the Bill of Rights . . and not some “lex-centric” liberal worldview that causes most Americans to decry private forms of “censorship” as unAmerican.

In the context of weblogs, Walter Olson put this right rather well last week at the new website Secular Right (via SHG):

“Let’s make it clear right now, though, that this is a moderated comments section. It may resemble a very broadminded letters-to-the-editor column; it is not going to resemble a public-access cable channel, graffiti wall, or Hyde Park Speakers’ Corner if I or DH can help it.

“What’s more, it’s moderated for the benefit of this site’s intended audience, bearing in mind that some lines of discussion more quickly become tedious and irrelevant to that audience than others. . . .

“One group we’d be better off without are those who feel that commenting on this site is somehow a matter of right, no matter what the tedium factor, and radiate wounded entitlement when they learn that’s not how it’s going to work. They really would be happier elsewhere.”

Finally, here are some favorite haiku from two Bills who never bring tedium or irrelevance to this website:

early spring
before she can tie it
the balloon escapes


in the park
my dog fetches
a better stick

werewolf movie
at the commercial
letting the dog out

prostate exam
the doctor and I
trade jabs

long day
his finger slows
the spinning globe

… by W.F. “Dr. Bill” Owen
“prostate exam” – HSA Brady Contest 2001; The Loose Thread: RMA 2001
“werewolf movie” – HSA Brady Award — Second Place 2001
“early spring”  – Selected poems by w.f. owen
“long day” – Two Autumns Reading (San Francisco, 2003)
“in the park” – Modern Haiku XXXI:3 (2000); A New Resonance 2

November chill–
a barefoot man waits
for the northbound ferry

avalanche warning–
how very still
this winter night

storm clouds roil
across the prairie—
she marks her place

trail’s end—
the taste of wild onion
still sharp on my tongue

… by Billie Wilson . . click for publication credits


December 13, 2008

ice storm interruptus

Filed under: q.s. quickies,Schenectady Synecdoche — David Giacalone @ 11:34 am

We got lucky on my block yesterday.  Lots of my neighbors in the Schenectady Stockade have no power due to the ice storm we had on Thursday and Friday, and 160,000 homes still have no power across the Capital Region of New York State. Giant, healthy century-old trees, plus a lot of limbs, were brought down by the ice, disrupting power lines and causing lots of mischief.  See “Storm leaves region in the dark” (Schenectady Gazette, Dec. 13, 2008)

Besides keeping me off the road yesterday, it has kept me offline.  Roadrunner is out of commission (including the modem that lets you use their dial-up services). So, I am here at the Schenectady County Public Library’s central branch, using their WiFi.  This is going to be a quick, punditry-less post, as weblogging from the Library has far too many drawbacks (for cranky, spoiled curmudgeons) — like no coffee or food, no futon for naps, and a really smelly Men’s Room.

My stroll yesterday morning taking ice-storm photos was not very successful — possibly due to a lack of sunlight to make the branches and fences, etc., glisten.  I did have to step lightly around a couple of sparking, downed power lines. When I got back home, a little bit of blue sky was opening, and I caught this sight from my backyard along the Mohawk:

– backyard on the Mohawk (across from Scotia), Dec. 12, 2008, by David Giacalone –

No telling when I will post again.  I hope all my friends out there in the blogiverse are safe and warm and having a lovely mid-December weekend.  If I weren’t so lazy, and it wasn’t so cold today, I’d be looking for a strong, artistic woman to help make a snowman or a snow buddha, or two.

afterwords: Here’s another photo from the December 12th snowstorm:

.. .. Riverside Park esplanade . .

a sparrow chirping
in his lap…
snow Buddha

he’s holding one
the Buddha

…. by Kobayashi Issa – translated by David G. Lanoue ..

– click here for two dozen snow/buddha haiku by Issa

wintry mix
the minister’s kids make
a snow buddha

surprisingly warm out
a puppy laps up
our snow buddha

snow turns to rain –
our Buddha’s visit
cut short

………………….. by dagosan

December 10, 2008

the hourly-billing procrastinator . . . and other contrary thoughts

Filed under: lawyer news or ethics,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 1:02 pm

. . a quartet of contrarian quickies from Prof. Yabut . .

naughty child–
instead of his chores
a snow Buddha

….. by Kobayashi Issa
translated by David G. Lanoue

.. In Praise of the Hourly-Billing Procrastinator: A quick stop at Idealawg yesterday somehow led me to yet another piece that wants to cure procrastinators of their supposedly dangerous and faulty ways.  In the Scientific American article “Procrastinating Again? How to Kick the Habit” (November 26, 2008), Trisha Gura describes a 2007 study by University of Calgary economist Piers Steel, and tells us that:

  • “a worrisome 15 to 20 percent of adults, the ‘mañana procrastinators,’ routinely put off activities that would be better accomplished ASAP.”
  • Procrastinators do not merely prioritize by putting off less-urgent matters ’til later; according to Piers, they voluntarily delay an intended course of action despite expecting to be worse off for the delay.
  • Procrastination carries a financial penalty, endangers health, harms relationships and ends careers.

Gura insists that “Succumbing to [procrastination] can be costly. Experts estimate that 40 percent of people have experienced a financial loss because of procrastination, in some cases severe.”  She also starts her article with this sentence:

“Raymond, a high-powered attorney, habitually put off returning important business calls and penning legal briefs, behaviors that seriously threatened his career.”

I want to disagree on behalf of clients of hourly-billing lawyers.  If a firm bills by the hour, the lawyer’s waiting until the last moment can often result in significantly smaller fees. As I said in a comment last August:

Don’t forget, however, that procrastination is the greatest labor-saving device ever. Lawyers who do things right away, for example, later find out that something has made the task unnecessary (the case settles, the opponent stops the annoying behavior, the judge cancels a hearing).

Waiting until the last moment also focuses the mind and increases the likelihood that tasks will be prioritized and efficiently performed. Some of the very best lawyers I know are chronic, ardent procrastinators and their work-product is excellent.

Of course, older lawyers are not as capable of doing all-nighters as we were in our early days in the profession.  That means that “the last minute” comes a little sooner.

Naturally, if paying a fixed fee (especially upfront), a client might want to do some pointed and persistent nudging to keep a procrastinating lawyer on task.

..Twitter/Fritter the Day Away:   While we had our own personal birthday yesterday (Dec. 9, 2008), our weblogging friend Carolyn Elefant was celebrating the 6th birthday of her much-honored weblog, My Shingle, which focuses (with cheerleader-like energy and loyalty) on the needs and achievements of solos practitioners and lawyers in small firms. Congratulations, Carolyn, and thanks for all your blawgy inspiration and inter-action all these years.

To celebrate, Carolyn is sponsoring two contests.  The first has a computer for first prize, and asks SmallLaw-yers to write a weblog post or essay on “Why I Matter” or “How Technology Helps Me Serve Clients or Make A Difference.”  That seems like an excellent idea. However, the second “light-hearted” contest has my tummy all-atwitter with agita.

You see, Carolyn wants participating solo and small firm lawyers — in order to capture “data on the minutia of our experience” — to:

“pick a day between now and December 20 to Twitter the day away.  Try to pick a day that’s typical for you as a solo or small firm lawyer, that shows how you balance your life, your cases and your clients.”

I’m sorry, and it should come as no surprise, but this seems like a terrible idea from the perspective of the client, employer or partner of such lawyers.  Constant interruption of your work-flow and flow of thought in order to tweak about every detail of your day for prosperity can only mean less efficient lawyering (not to mention parenting, and even puttering).

Virtually every solo practitioner I know (and I spent my last decade in practice in a tiny firm, or being a solo, or advising them), fits into either of two categories: 1) the ones who are woefully under-employed (and often somnolent); and 2) the ones who are chronically over-employed (and often frantic).  I can’t see how constant Twittering can possibly help either group of lawyers serve their clients (or families) well.  If I got a bill that includes work done on my lawyer’s My Shingle Twitter Day, I’d ask a lot of questions about the hours that were supposedly worked.

.. Hey, did I promise four topics at the start of this post?  Well, this old procrastinator hasn’t had lunch (nor breakfast) yet, so I’m gonna finish later; maybe much later.

breakfast rice
stuck in his whiskers…
lover cat in a rush

… by by Kobayashi Issa
translated by David G. Lanoue

If you really need another diversion right now, I suggest viewing this great little video (lesss than two minutes long), recorded on December 6, 2008, by Curtis Dunlap, of Roberta Beary reciting a haibun (a short prose piece with a linked haiku). We dare writers who are penning prose-less pieces purporting to be haibun to try to recite them (and keep an audience).

Evening Session:  We’re back, but can we talk?  I can’t for the (long) life of me remember what the 3rd and 4th blurbs were going to be about.  But, a promise is a promise, so here are two substitutes, the first a minor quibble, the second more weighty. (And, please no teasing about my oft-evident Boomer Memory Syndrome.)

Short-Attention-Span Journalism:  Your editor has been away from antitrust prosecution for a couple decades.  But, things could not have changed this much. In The American Lawyer this morning (see “In Once-Every-Fifty-Years Case, Whole Foods Sues FTC“, Dec. 10, 2008), reporter Zach Lowe tells us (emphasis added):

“The $565 million merger struck between Whole Foods Market and Wild Oats Marketplace in mid-2007 is becoming one of those legal battles that’s so protracted it’s hard to keep up with.”

A year and a half is a “protracted” lawsuit at the FTC?  Our memories and memory banks are over-taxed by a case that made it to an appellate court and back to the Commission for further activity?  Maybe Zach needs a break from the antitrust beat.  Spelling Bees and pie-baking contests might better fit his attention span.

on the face
that last night called me names
morning sunbeam

I forget my side
of the argument

George Swede from Almost Unseen

.. In Praise of Productive and Playful Teasing: On Sunday, Dacher Keltner had a long piece in the New York Times that struck a resonant chord with me — “In Defense of Teasing” (Dec. 7, 2008). The UC-Berkeley psychology professor worries about a phenomenon that has long concerned the f/k/a Gang: A generational Teasing Gap in our society, due in large part to a “zero tolerance” toward teasing now found in American schools these days, and the creation of “tease-free zones” in many American offices.  Dr. Keltner notes:

“The reason teasing is viewed as inherently damaging is that it is too often confused with bullying. But bullying is something different; it’s aggression, pure and simple. Bullies steal, punch, kick, harass and humiliate. Sexual harassers grope, leer and make crude, often threatening passes. They’re pretty ineffectual flirts. By contrast, teasing is a mode of play, no doubt with a sharp edge, in which we provoke to negotiate life’s ambiguities and conflicts. And it is essential to making us fully human.”

He rightly asserts that: “In seeking to protect our children from bullying and aggression, we risk depriving them of a most remarkable form of social exchange.”  That’s because:

“In teasing, we learn to use our voices, bodies and faces, and to read those of others — the raw materials of emotional intelligence and the moral imagination. We learn the wisdom of laughing at ourselves, and not taking the self too seriously. We learn boundaries between danger and safety, right and wrong, friend and foe, male and female, what is serious and what is not. We transform the many conflicts of social living into entertaining dramas. No kidding.”

The lengthy article is worth reading in full.  You’ll re-discover the benefits of Romantic Teasing — “a battle plan for what Shakespeare called ‘the merry war’.”  And find guidance to help distinguish productive teasing from the scarring, humiliating variety, and hostile teasing from the playful kind.  Don’t forget:

“[S]ocial context means a lot. Where teasing provides an arena to safely explore conflict, it can join people in a common cause. Especially when they’re allowed to tease back.”

April rain
my grandson practices
his infield chatter

.. by Ed Markowski – The Old BallGame (April 2006); “American Sports . . . American Haiku” (June 2008)

their laughter
is not about me
but would sound
just like that
if it was

…… by John StevensonQuiet Enough (2004)

mocking the farmer
plowing, the strutting

even the scarecrow
turns his back to it…
my home

… by Kobayashi Issa – translated by David G. Lanoue

December 9, 2008

boomer birthday be-musing

Filed under: Haiga or Haibun,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 12:42 pm


poem: David Giacalone
photo: Mama G.  (Dec. 9, 1950)
– haiga orig. posted at MagnapoetsJF weblog
“mom’s arthritis” – Roadrunner (Nov. 2005)

Affectionate Birthday Greetings to Mama G. (Connie, 82 yesterday), and to Brother G. (Arthur, 59 today).  Long before they provided photos for dagosan‘s haiga, my mother and twin brother obviously played large roles in forming — for better or worse — the person I have become.  We also share a genetic heritage that seems more pressing now than it did back in my youth. Therefore, as I begin my 60th year (and, especially since I’m known both for sounding the alarm over the Graying of the Legal Profession and for trumpeting the broadened horizons that come with appreciating the haiku moment), it would be most appropriate to ponder how nature and nurture have prepared me for my remaining time on this planet.

However, with my body and brain definitely feeling their age this morning, my credentials as Nap Room advocate and overall napping expert seem more pertinent and pressing than any pretensions as pundit or poet.  That little voice in my head, which has done so much to sharpen my procrastination skills over he past six decades, is telling me I’d be nuts to work any harder than necessary on my birthday.  Therefore, I’m merely going to point you to a couple articles that ask questions and try to provide answers to the question “am I too old to be doing this?”

.. ..In My 60 Years is Jacob A. Stein’s Legal Spectator column this month in the D.C. Bar’s Washington Lawyer magazine (Dec. 2008): The dean of lawyer pundits says:

Well, October marked my 60th year of practice, and I think I have earned the prescriptive right to stand up and declare, “In my 60 years of practice, …” for whatever effect it may have. However, I have yet to do so.

I was speaking with a friend who also is a member of the 60-year club. We questioned whether age denies us what it takes to read documents, court rules, fine print, and appellate opinions that run more than 10 pages. Do we still have that vigor of mind?

Do we still have that vigor of mind?” is certainly the question.  In their more candid moments, quite a few of my Baby Boomer friends have admitted that they’ve seen a diminution of that mental vigor (not to mention the physical variety).  Stein’s column seems to wander more than usual, and we see that he is unhappy with the mindset that “gradually moved the practice of law into the culture of the marketplace.”  I know quite a few small-law practitioners who will get a warm glow from this observation from Jacob Stein:

“There continues to be a thriving practice that is separate from the marketplace. It is made up of lawyers who vindicate the constitutional rights of people, lawyers in small firms who practice in the counties surrounding the big cities, and specialty lawyers in domestic relations, personnel matters, and probate matters. However, it is the marketplace firms that define the big-time practice.”

After 60 years of practice, the only personal platitude for lawyering that he leaves us with is: “you must make your own mistakes and you must learn your own limitations.”  He ends with a few more maxims that “may also work for you,” including:

  • Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.
  • Most irrationality has some connection, however attenuated, with reality.

And, this one, that comes in handy for weblog pundits (like Scott Greenfield), too:

“This day I shall have to do with an idle curious vain man, with an unthankful man, with a talkative railer, a crafty, false or an envious man. An unsociable sarcastic man. A greedy man. A deceiver. Such is the way of the world, and I shall be no more affected by it than I am about changes in the weather.”

–Marcus Aurelius
(Stein’s translation from the Latin)

“Where age matters less: newspapers” — Rex Smith, managing editor of the Albany Times Union, offered his take on aging boomers in the workplace a few days ago (December 6, 2008).  Rex was responding to the New York Times article “A Generation of Local TV Anchors Is Signing Off” (by Brian Stelter, Dec. 1, 2008).  In that article (in a warning to other high-priced “veteran” talent like lawyers, perhaps), Robert Papper, chairman of Hofstra University’s journalism department, says longtime anchors at top-rated stations in local markets are at little risk of being laid off. But:

“if I were a very highly paid anchor of a No. 3 station, I’d be really nervous.”

Smith lists and explains the attributes he is looking for in a newspaper journalist: intelligence (a  “clever, analytical brain” to interpret what’s going on), energy; curiosity; and (not until fourth) communication skills.  He concludes:

“So by my reckoning, the only key skill for a newspaper journalist that is likely to diminish over time is energy. That’s not why those aging TV anchors are losing their jobs. Their problem is that the skills a TV station values aren’t the same as those that matter to we newspaperfolk, and the anchors are mighty expensive.”

Your assignment (hey, it’s my birthday, I’m taking the rest of the day off) is to read the entire column and let us know how the attributes chosen by Rex Smith for journalists compare to your own list for lawyers — which, if any, diminish over time.

Discovery channel –
an older male vanquished
heads for the hills

within the red wine
a nap in my chair

……………………. by Tom ClausenUpstate Dim Sum (2003/II)

— find more Giacalone Birthday Haiga here

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