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Archive for December, 2011

I maintain my faith in humanity – for now

Illustration by Ravenscraft Graphics, Photo by Wayne Slezak PhotographyThe American Bar Association has published its 5th Annual Blawg 100 list, naming its picks for the one hundred best blogs dealing with legal issues. (Law + blog = blawg. Get it? Ha!)

For the fifth straight year, I am not on the list.

This gives me reason to believe that the American Bar Association knows what it is doing and is an excellent judge of blog quality.

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Celebrating a Year of Censorship and Attempted Censorship!

This monkey wonders why people are such asshats to one another...The always-intriguing and entertaining Popehat has put out his nominees for the “Censorious Asshat of the Year,” and the field is indeed proud. I am of course reblogging this for reas0ns, but I invite my reader(s) to take a look at the whole list and marvel at the human capacity for inanity.

To those who would use our hallowed legal system to try to quiet the voices of  those who would dare to hurt their fee-fees, intentionally or not, I simply have this to say:

Photo credit: The Thinker… by law_keven on Flickr.

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Merry Winter-Holiday-of-Your-Choice to all

Whatever winter holiday you may celebrate, or if you celebrate none at all, I wish you a happy, peaceful, joyful day, and a bright and hopeful tomorrow. Calvin perhaps says it best here:

(h/t to Doobybrain for the image)

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Arabic numerals! They’re everywhere!!!

No 5 - ArabicThe keen eye of Jesus’ General has caught something that I had completely overlooked: the nefarious influence of Muslim extremism over our society at the numerical level:

Lowe’s may have bowed to God’s will and pulled advertising from TLC’s “All-American Muslim,” a show with the gall to depict Muslimolibs as human beings, but the hardware/appliance chain still promotes the Islamuninistoprog agenda. They do so by using Arabic numerals in their pricing.

Arabic numerals (e.g. 1, 2, 3…) were designed by a Muslim named Al-Khwarizmi in DCCCXXV A.D. They were then imposed on the West by the Great Whore of Babylon, Pope Sylvester II, a man who constantly fingered his astrolabe, in the late Xth Century.

Please write Lowes, today, and ask them to stop exposing our children to Arabic Islamonumbers.

Great Scott, he’s right! Not only did this Al-Khwarizmi fellow create this insidious numerical system, he also developed a form of mathematics that he called al-jabr, translated into American as “algebra.”

Algebra, of course, was the instrument used to torment me endlessly in MCMLXXXVIII, when I was in the VIIIth grade.

His name also forms the basis for the word “algorithm.”

You know what’s even worse? Pope Sylvester II was French. Our entire numerical system is a conspiracy of evil Islamofascists and cheese-eating surrender monkeys [source].

Or, maybe numbers are just, you know, numbers, and it’s just that the people who made the decision to pull Lowe’s advertising have made effective parody almost impossible to distinguish from actual crazy ideas.

Just my II cents…

Photo credit: No 5 – Arabic by kirstyhall, on Flickr.

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Grandpa lawyer doesn’t understand your newfangled technoggoly

I wrote the headline to this post on August 17, 2011, and I saved a draft that only consisted of four URL’s. Honestly, I have no idea exactly where I was going to go with this, but the headline was too, uh, weird not to post. Rather than try to piece together exactly what sort of thesis I was going after almost four months ago, I’ll just link to the articles that so inspired me.

Obviously it was something about older lawyers eschewing newfangled technology.

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see more Lolcats and funny pictures, and check out our Socially Awkward Penguin lolz!

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The Florida Family Association has gotten me to do something I never thought I would do

They have gotten me to willingly watch a TLC reality show.

You should understand that I hate reality television. I’m currently doing an improv show based on “The Amazing Race,” and I refuse to even watch that show for source material. But I have now Tivo’d all available upcoming episodes of TLC’s “All-American Muslim,” the reality TV show that has angered people whose anger and annoyance usually tickles the crap out of me. I can’t add much to what has already been said by people who are arguably more clever and insightful than me. To quote Popehat’s commentary on the matter:

It is beyond question that some Muslims are violent religious extremists who will kill Americans if they can. It’s even beyond question that some such Muslims are here in America. It’s clear that some Muslims favor imposition of Sharia law — antithetical to American values like equality and freedom of expression and worship — upon societies, and that some harbor a grand ambition to impose Sharia law here in America.

But those Muslims — however many of them there are — are powerless to change America’s nature by themselves. The most horrific terrorist act, the most aggressive campaign to impose their religious values upon us — none of that can, by itself, alter fundamental American traditions and values. Those traditions and values were born in rebellion and deprivation, raised on the frontier, toughened through slow and painful progress from wrong towards right. They include hard work, fair play, due process, equality before the law, liberty, and individuality. Terrorist bombs cannot quell them.

But Americans’ reactions to terrorist bombs could.

I’m going to watch as many episodes of this show as I can, and I am going to learn. I encourage everyone to watch this show and to learn. Educating ourselves is one of the best tools, dare I say weapons, we have against people like the Florida Family Association. I believe that they are the real enemies of freedom, preferring to have us cowering in fear, jumping at shadows and lashing out at anyone or anything they deem to be too unfamiliar, to strange, too other for their liking.

As a final note on the more capitalist aspects of this whole debacle, I feel a need to violate my self-imposed ban on excessive profanity, because quite frankly, some people and institutions do not deserve our politeness.

To the architects of Lowe’s decision to pull its advertising from this show, I say this: Go fuck yourself.

I will be buying my home improvement wares at Home Depot from now on. I hope you’re proud of yourselves.

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Washington court rules county “dangerous dog” policy unconstitutional, sort of

Working Like a DogExaminer.com (always a font of questionable journalism) ran a story last week about an appellate court in Pierce County, Washington that ruled the county’s “dangerous dog” policy to be unconstitutional. In fact, the headline reads “Dangerous dog policy in Pierce County deemed unconstitutional.” If only the story were that simple.

Now, I would be the first to welcome a bit of constitutional scrutiny of our dangerous dog laws. I’ve represented dog owners in dangerous dog proceedings, and I hope it doesn’t seem like too much of a pun to say they are frequently not much better than kangaroo courts. State, county, and municipal laws set out standards for how a determination of “dangerousness” is made, a hearing is scheduled, a judge or a panel of officials hear evidence from the dog owner, the victim, and others, and a finding of “dangerousness” almost always results. Because, at the end of the day, it is usually an injured person versus a dog, and the human almost always has more political clout.

Of course, I’m generalizing, but this has been my experience.

Now then, back to the constitutional question. The case in question involved a Great Pyrenees and a Pomeranian. I’d rather not get into the details of how that turned out, but suffice it to say the Great Pyrenees was the one on trial. The dog’s owner had to pay a fee to the county simply to obtain a hearing on the decision, made without her input at all, that her dog was dangerous.

The court in Washington did not rule that the county’s policy vis a vis the dogs themselves is unconstitutional. They ruled that the practice of charging fees to the dog owners to challenge determinations made by the county animal control authority to be unconstitutional. In short, if you live in Pierce County and you wanted to have an actual hearing on whether or not your dog is “dangerous,” you have to pay the county $250. That’s the fee for an “informal” hearing. For a “formal” hearing, you need $500. If you couldn’t afford the fee, the county could declare your dog dangerous, and you couldn’t do a thing about it. A “dangerous dog” designation could obligate you to obtain extra insurance, keep the dog confined at all times, or lose the dog entirely.

Charging a three-figure fee just to have a day in court, quite frankly, is crap, so the Court of Appeals did the right thing.

As for the policy towards the dogs themselves, unless and until the law starts to view dogs as something more than just chattel with teeth, it won’t be improving any time soon.

Photo credit: Working Like a Dog by KM Photography.., on Flickr.

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Would you like fries with your legal advice?

Strange story, awesome quote:

If you meet your lawyer for the first time at McDonalds and pay a $36 retainer fee to get your kid transferred out of jail to a psychiatric hospital, you’re probably not dealing with a real lawyer.

via Practical Paralegalism: One Sign You’re Not Dealing with a Real Lawyer.

(h/t Geri Dreiling)

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“You weren’t given a gift, you were given a life.”

Who knows where this originally came from.

T’was the night before Christmas and all thru the house
Not a creature was stirring not even a mouse.
Our stockings were hung by the chimney with care
in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds
with no thought of their dog that was filling their head.
With mom in her kerchief and I in my cap
I knew our dog was cold, yet didn’t care about that.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
figuring our dog was free of his chain and into the trash.
The moon on the crest of the new fallen snow
gave the luster of mid-day to objects below.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear
but Santa Claus with his eyes full of tears.
He unchained our dog once …so lively and quick…
last year’s Christmas present now painfully sick.

More rapid than eagles he called the dog’s name
and our dog ran to him despite all of his pain.
“On Dasher, on Dancer, now Prancer and Vixen,
on Comet, on Cupid, on Donner and Blitzen!”
To the top of the porch to the top of the wall
“Let’s find this dog a home where he will be loved by all.”

I knew in an instant there’d be no gifts this year,
for Santa had made one thing exceedingly clear.
The gift of a dog is not just for the season.
We had gotten the dog for all the wrong reasons.
In our haste to think of the kids a cool gift
there was one very important thing that we missed.
A dog should be family, and cared for the same.
You don’t give a gift, and then put it on a chain.
And I heard him explain as he rode out of sight,
“You weren’t given a gift, you were given a life.”

Baby Ruth
Photo credit: Baby Ruth by AAWLSPCA, on Flickr.

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I’ve got 72 problems, but a lack of topics to blog about ain’t one.

First, I should apologize for that horrendous appropriation of a hip hop lyric.

Second, I apologize for what is about to become a “why I haven’t been blogging” blog post, one of the more obnoxious cop-outs of the written word.

I’ve previously noted that I have embarked on a new journey of discovery as a freelance writer, spending a good chunk of my time as a “ghost blogger” for a legal marketing company. After a long day’s blogging, my brain is pretty mushy. It’s also generally easier to post things to my Tumblr blog and pretend that I’m being original.

Today, I carved out some time to do a bit of personal blogging, because:

a) It’s partly how I got this professional legal blogging gig in the first place, and it’s really something I should keep up with;

2) It keeps me sane;

C) It feeds my narcissistic need to see my name in print;

iv) I can’t write about topics like animal rights porn anywhere else; and

qq) Did I mention it keeps me sane?

Now then, WordPress has this handy feature called “Press This” that lets me put a button on the dash of my browser (Firefox at the moment) to bookmark stories for later blogging inspiration. Today I decided to tackle a few of the drafts I’ve saved since I discovered that feature back in August.

I had 84 “drafts” saved. I do not want to write that many posts, particularly on things that seemed like a good idea when it was still 100+ degrees outside and Texas was still on fire. So I took it upon myself to thin the herd, removing drafts that have become obsolete, drafts that no longer sound that interesting, and drafts that are somehow incomprehensible to me, even though I’m the one that wrote them (it happens).

Even after a good, hard winnowing, I still have 72 drafts sitting there. And here I am writing about those 72 drafts instead of just writing the dang posts. I guess that means I have 73 drafts. Sweet Jeebus, blogging is awesomely meta.

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