Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter
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Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Today's festivities consisted of getting ready for, and then attending, an arbitration in a case we have been living with for some time now. My piece of it was the cross of the opposing neuroradiologist, a delightful task, seeing as I got an "A" in Neuroradiology when I went to law school.

I have no idea how it went, although it seemed to go all right. What was notable beyond how the proof went, I thought, was that the way that the arbitration format changes one's presentation of proof-- or not. We'd kinda thought that the lawyer for the other side would come on like ten men, and he started to, but a lot of the stuff that we use for juries doesn't cut it when you are sitting around a conference table, and he dialed it back a notch or two when it became clear that our neutral wasn't buying into his schtick. I'm the same way, really. When I have a doctor on the stand, there are a number of things that I can do to suggest that either the doc is a hired gun or that the lawyer who retained him is a snake who cooked the data before asking for the expert's opinion, but in an arbitration those sort of theatrics get you nowhere, and can hurt you. We talked about this a little on the way back. My partner had handled the direct examination, and did a very nice job. I told her that she'd struck just the right tone, and she said that she'd have done it exactly the same way with a jury. I'm not sure what to make of that, although one thing might be that I need to re-think my schtick so its less schtick and more substance. Maybe.

Students at the school LCA and CLA attend have different commutes. The high school kids take the regular NFTA Metro bus to get to school, while the middle school kids are picked up by school buses. After school there are Metro buses waiting on the corner for the high school students-- these are "Specialties", because they are not the regularly routed Metro buses. Middle schoolers take the school buses, which is referred to as "Riding the cheese." I like that a lot.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

EGA writes: "I have been elected Student Academic Adviser for next year, which makes me happy- I will be serving on house council, I will be returning to campus a week early, and I will get to control the house library, which is currently referred to as the "porn room" in the basement. I got a lot of compliments on my "speech": 'I've been the house SOS rep this year, and I'd really like to serve on House Council, and I've come to the conclusion that this is the job for me, because if there is one thing I can do, it's school. Numbers, no. Taking notes, not so much. Being consistantly outgoing and enthusiastic... no. But school, yes, it's a talent I have. I fear the day they're going to make me stop. The sooner they let me back in here in August the happier I'll be. And that's why I want to be your SAA.'"

I don't, as a rule, make a big deal about my time with Kelner & Kelner. It was a long time ago, and my time there was comparatively brief. I learned a lot, though, and saw a lot more, and for whatever it's worth, I'm pretty proud to say that I worked withthe man who is representing Danny Pearl's widow.

Monday, March 29, 2004

I spent a part of Friday helping to prepare a witness for a deposition. There are as many ways to do this as there are lawyers, I suppose, but we like to take a two lawyer approach. The first lawyer sits down with the client, and reviews the facts that the witness is expected to testify to, after explaining a few base concepts. "Always tell the truth," is the first thing we tell them, and the last. "Listen to the question, and answer the question you are asked," is another. "Testify to what you know; don't guess." There are other rules, we go over all of it. When the witness seems comfortable with the concepts, the second lawyer comes in to apply a high gloss to the witness. This is done by role playing the attorney for the adverse party, and asking questions in the way we expect the lawyer for the other side will proceed. Sometimes this is pretty vanilla, sometimes it means taking a belligerent tone, and sometimes it means that we employ what I believe the lay community refers to as "lawyer's tricks". You'd be surprised how seldom the few threadbare tricks that are out there get used: most of them were hackneyed when "Perry Mason" was must see t.v.. Every now and then, however, someone will roll one out, and since our witness Friday is a high school student, and our opponent this week is an asshole, I figured it might be a good idea to show her how three card Monte gets played. It was a good thing I did-- she fell for every one of them, at least to the extent of becoming confused, and starting to say things that she didn't mean. "I'm scaring you, aren't I?" I said. She nodded, too scared to even say "Yes". "Look," I said, here is how it goes. Can I make you lie?" She shook her head. "Can I make you say something that isn't true?" Again, she shook her head. "I can't make you say whatever I want as long as you are determined to tell the truth, can I?" This time she spoke: "No." "Right," I said, "So stop thinking that I can, and just tell the truth."

The next time through, she got it, but it's funny how often that comes up. Clients think that because we are the lawyers we are going to tell them what to say; and they think that we have some sort of hypnotic power that clouds minds and distorts facts. It would be interesting if that was how it worked, but it would be a very different legal system than the one we have.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

To the Bad Plus last night, at the Albright Knox' Art of Jazz series. We've been looking forward to it since it was announced last year, and they absolutely lived up to our expectations. I love piano trio stuff anyway, and these guys were all that the format should be: they played so well in unison that the sound was a unified whole-- it was sometimes difficult to tell if it was Anderson's bass or Iverson's left hand, and King's percussion swung like crazy. They were showmen too, with a lot of little moves that didn't distract, but underlined what fun they were having. Mostly new stuff, they didn't do the Nirvana or the Blondie covers, "Iron Man" was the encore. It was a crowd that knew the bad, which isn't always how it goes at these shows; when they started "Big Eater" it drew the sort of recognition applause the hit gets. I was a little nervous about "Iron Man" actually-- when I heard that it was on their new release my first thought was that it was a rather cliched choice for a band like this. My concern was misplaced: they used the riff as a launching spot for a series of inventive solos, mostly drums, that demonstrated how far you can go from one of the simplest vamps in blues based music. What was particularly notable live was the melodic creativity of bassist Reid Anderson's compositions. Turns out this is the second time we've seen him: when Claudia Acuna came through a year and a half or so ago one of the things I was struck by was the quality of her band. The CD she was touring to support featured a lot of name brand musicians-- Dave Holland, "Tain" Watts, and it didn't really capture what she did live. Anderson was the bassist we saw that night and the story we got last night was that he had gave the series promoter a demo of the music he was working on with The Bad Plus. Bruce Eaton, a guy with big ears, liked what he heard, and signed them up,gettingg in out front, the way he often seems to. As good a show as I've seen in some time, and I'd see them again tomorrow, confident that they'd do something I didn't see last night-- and if that isn't what great jazz is supposed to feel like, then I don't know what is.

We have seen some amazing stuff over the years at this series, but these guys vaulted right into the Hall of Fame. What is particularly great is that they seem like they may be able to keep on doing this, and being this good. That's hard to do in jazz-- the creativity part is exhausting, and it is hard to get the sort of financial support from the labels that allows artists to keep working and keep body and soul together. Claudia Acuna , actually, is an example: she has a new side out, but Verve has dropped her, and I very much doubt that she is able to afford touring with a full rhythm section, vibes and a trombonist these days. Too bad. I expect she'll be around for a while, but now she is burdened with the fact that she didn't break through commercially. The Bad Plus seems poised to avoid that fate. It's always interesting to see who shows up fothesese shows-- the base group of subscribers is always there, the hard core, but last night we saw a lot of younger people than is usual. Cover Nirvana (or the Pixies) and that'll happen. These guys know what they're doing, they play like crazy, and it looks like they are on for the long haul.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

To Just Pasta for dinner last night-- A. wanted grilled lamb, and LCA wanted fish. I had Barolo braised shortribs Provencal-- the time to eat braised food is drawing to a close, even in Buffalo. Not bad, but I think a bit over-marinated. The meat was good, but lacked the smooth texture that braising should give it, and some of it was actually sort of spongy. I think proper braising would have made the sauce silkier, too, more like the Beef Daube Provencal that I used to make before my household moved away from red meat.

Somewhere or other, probably in the previous edition of "Outside Counsel", I have written about the fact that the Netherlands is one of the places in the world where I immediately feel at home. Part of it is the look of the place-- Holland is flat, and smells like the sea, just like my Long Island boyhood. Most of it is the people-- the Dutch are more like New Yorkers than anyone else anywhere in the world. New Amsterdam is deep in New York's DNA. I was stunned when I saw this video of Jan-Peter Balkenende, the Dutch Prime Minister visiting the unelected leader of the free world in the Oval Office. Is it possible to not be embarrassed by Bush? What does it say to the rest of the world when this is how the representative from one of our country's staunchest allies is treated? (Via Ernie.)

Thursday, March 25, 2004

From Bluishorange, an interesting question to ask at parties, or just to think about: "What's the one thing you know a lot about that nobody ever asks you about?"

I suppose I should get it out of the way and admit that I seldom wait to be asked, about anything, but that's not where I am wanting to go with this. Anyone?

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Drink the Kool-Aid. (Via Loaded Mouth, which Kate told me to read.)

Driving back from Elmira Sunday A. noticed that there were an unusual number of farms along the way advertising maple syrup. We pulled into one, and found that the whole operation was going great guns, and that there were other people who were taking the syrup equivalent of a winery tour. Turns out it was Maple Weekend (we were at Hillside Acres). I'd always wanted to visit a sugar shack, and I'd definitely go back and see more next year. I had some of the syrup last night, and it was terrific. Generally the maple syrup you get in the store is a lighter flavored version: although only Vermont actually grades syrup, it sets the standard, and Vermont Grade A doesn't have that strong maple flavor. In colonial times maple syrup was a substitute for cane sugar, which was heavily taxed. The lightest flavored syrup was "Grade A" because it was the most neutral tasting. The folks at the sugar shack had the light stuff, but they also had some darker syrup, and I was really impressed with its rich, complicated flavor. I shoulda bought more.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Douglas Wolk asks, "Has there ever been a less-influential great band than Fleetwood Mac? ". It's an interesting question, and I'm not so sure he gets the answer right. What are we talking about when we say that an artist or a band is "influential"? Do we mean that a lot of imitators were inspired by the band? By this measure the existence of the Knickerbockers and Badfinger establishes The Beatles as influential, but that doesn't seem to really address why The Beatles were great. We are about million or so New Dylans down the road, and that hardly defines him either.

Seeing Springsteen on the last tour it occurred to me that the Boss was less the vision of rock'n'roll future Jon Landau thought he saw, and more the culmination of a complex set of influences-- Phil Spector, Roy Oberson-- lest we forget, Springsteen was a New Dylan for a while. Rethinking it a bit, it occurred to me that this was not altogether true-- we owe Bruce for Thin Lizzie, and Melissa Etheridge, and Meatloaf.... I don't know that this is a good thing, but there is no denying the influence.

Do we value Rod Stewart because Bonnie Tyler sounds like him? I would submit that The Who were influentially primarily to the extent that they inspired a lot of bands to produce overwrought concept albums. We have a lot of bad Kinks albums that should be on Pete Townsend's conscience, let me tell you, but we still know that The Who were great.

So perhaps that's not what we are getting at. I would submit that the value of "influence" is something more like what Brian Eno was talking about when he said of the Velvet Underground, "Only five thousand people ever bought a Velvet Underground album, but every single one of them started a band." The DIY aesthetic inspired by the Ramones (and others) had a similar effect-- and I think the same could be said for Chuck Berry, and James Brown, and a handful of others-- but if that is the standard of greatness, it is a pretty high bar. In the jazz realm we think about the founding fathers of bebop-- Charley Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk-- in those terms; and, of course, Miles Davis made a career of inventing jazz forms that others would devote careers to exploring. Is it fair to Fleetwood Mac to be held to the standard of artists like Miles, or Dylan, or the Vevets? I hardly think so, but I agree with Wolk that they were a pretty terrific band for a while there.

This sort of hierarchy is impossible to quantify. It is why being a fan is fun, of course-- making lists and arguing about this sort of thing is entertaining. It is also why the idea of a Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame is absurd. I would submit, however, that the significance of Fleetwood Mac may be twofold: although it is probably true that nobody aped their sound, everybody became the sort of studio obsessives that they were, and for a good long while that sort of high gloss production was the gold standard in pop music. I would also argue that our notion of what constitutes a blockbuster album may have been largely shaped by "Rumours"-- it was a gigantic seller before "Thriller" and its progeny, and in an interesting way shaped the music distribution industry's idea of what constituted success for years. It is notable that "Rumours" was the album that Reprise used to introduce the new album list price of $7.98 (bonus trivia question: What was the first album released with that list price?). I keep thinking that the intersection of Art and Commerce is where the next great study of American popular music is going to take place, and maybe Fleetwood Mac would be a good case study. If that's not influence, I don't know what is.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Justice Scalia's decision on why he has declined to recuse himself is as disingenuous piece of work as anyone is likely to see anywhere. As usual, Dahlia Lithwick gets it spot on. It is easy enough to joke about this contretemps-- Lithwick thoughtfully provides a link to Letterman's Top 10 List-- but it is no laughing matter. So many things have gone horribly wrong in this country and in the world over the last three and a half years that it is almost possible for me to forget the sinking feeling I had as I read the decisions in Bush v. Gore, but the fact is that that bit of outcome determanative jurisprudence badly damaged the only American governmental institution left with a claim to a shred of credibility. I really have no complaint with Clinton's presidency, but his poor judgment shook the faith of a lot of people. Congress made a cartoon of itself over the whole thing, and then we had an election where the margin of victory was smaller than the margin of victory. Into the breach stepped the Supreme Court-- the branch that depends the most on its reputation for probity, and the lot of them proceeded to demonstrate that there was no principle that any of them (except Stevens, g-d bless him) cared enough about to hang onto when the stakes were high enough. I think that one of the reasons that we have not seen a resignation from the Court in the ensuing three years is that the Justices themselves realized what they had done, and as a matter of personal responsibility decided to sit out this round, and see what the next election brings. If that's true, and I hope it is, we can include Scalia out of the mix. He obviously never sees anything wrong with anything he does, and he is prepared to go on about it, in a wounded tone, for 21 pages. He just doesn't get it: it isn't about his personal integrity. Nino, you are spending the Court's credibility-- coin it doesn't have much of, and that it is not your right to squander.

I make my living working in the courts, and in order to do that I frequently find myself in the position of explaining to clients that the system works, and the system is fair. When judges act in ways that reinforce the perception that it's all a fix, my job becomes impossible. People want to believe that they can get a fair shake if they rely on the law, but they are suspicious, and you really can't get justice if you don't have faith that the system works. Scalia had an opportunity here to buy back some of what the Supreme Court had lost. What a shame he decided that his credibility was more important than that of the institution he serves.

Even though it is a disturbing mental picture, Timothy Noah has done the math: "Dedicated students of obstetrics will observe that Elizabeth Cheney's birth date falls precisely nine months and two days after the Selective Service publicly revoked its policy of not drafting childless men. This would seem to indicate that the Cheneys, though doubtless planning to have children sometime, were seized with an untamable passion the moment Dick Cheney became vulnerable to the Vietnam draft. And acted on it."

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

From the deposition of a doctor in an asbestos case:

"Q. Is it true, isn’t it, that paragraph 5.253 does not even use the words “relative risk”?

A. It says “tenfold,” and to a scientist and epidemiologist, tenfold is relative risk. The words are not there, but as I indicated, words are words, and facts are facts, and truth is truth.

Q. Okay.

A. A rose is a rose is a rose — and if you get one word wrong in a sonnet, A rose is a rose is a rose. And if you get one word wrong in the statistics, a tenfold increase is a vast increase and should satisfy any person interested in truth.

Q. Are you as sure of the facts that the line “A rose is a rose is a rose” appeared in a Shakespeare sonnet as you are of the rest of your testimony in this case?" (From Say What?, via Unfashionable Observations, via Crescat Sententia which I found on Sua Sponte. Man, this law blog thing has really taken off, hasn't it?)

If DeNovo is going to have stuff like this piece by Dahlia Lithwick,or this piece by Scheherazade Fowler all the time, I guess I'm just going to have to read it all the time.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

"So," you say to me, "What did you get from twelve years of Catholic education?" "Well," I might tell you, "I learned about faith." "What did you learn?" "I learned that even though tomorrow is March 17th, and a foot of snow has just fallen, I should take the garbage to the curb, and yea, verily, the recycling too."

It has been one of those winters. We didn't get all that much snow, but what we got, we got all at once, and then the deep freeze set in, just as we'd all taken our Christmas trees out to the curb. For the next two and a half months they sat there, the nubs of them sticking out, the rest of them deep frozen in the snow banks like popsicle sticks. When the break in the weather finally came, there they were, the denuded Christmas trees, their needles carpeting the sidewalks, just as they'd carpeted our living rooms in early January. For a couple of days the whole neighborhood smelled like Christmas-- and dog shit. Mostly Christmas, so that was good. Now, in the perverse way that Buffalo has Spring, we have a foot of snow, and it looks like the children will have a snow day for St. Pat's. I put the garbage at the curb, serine in the knowledge that if St. Patrick's Day isn't a negotiated holiday in the sanitation worker's collective bargaining agreement, a snow day like tomorrow will surely be certainly is, and my garbage will be picked up bright and early.

As I mentioned yesterday, over the weekend I found myself doing computer tasks to set EGA up. Yesterday I set up a client's computer, then found myself looking at an error message on my laptop advising me that I didn't have enough disk space to run Picasa. A quick check, and whadda ya know, my hard drive was indeed so close to maxed out that I was on the verge of not being able to run anything.

I set about bailing stuff. Since Picasa was what had first alerted me to the situation, I started by ditching image files. Then I weeded out duplicate word processing files. I emptied caches, and deleted .temp files. Then I tried to defrag, only to be told that I still lacked meaningful disk space.

It then dawned on me that I had close to 20gb of music loaded. Since most of my music is ripped from CDs, this constitutes an inappropriate allocation of resources, I'm afraid. I don't listen to music on my computer as a rule-- I travel with my iPod, and listen to CDs at home. As nice as it is to have my entire music collection in a device the size of a deck of cards, I don't need to have it on the iPod and in my living room and in my computer. I have pruned my iTunes library back by about half, which is still way too much, but as much as I have the stomach for just at the moment. The nice thing about having it all there is being able to make playlists, but I'll limp along somehow. Digital storage is cheap, and I have a feeling I will have more soon enough.

Monday, March 15, 2004

I guess the rap on St. Joseph's is that they aren't so tough. Strength of schedule, blah, blah. I don't care-- the reason we like sports, I think, is that 50/50 is better odds for getting good news than the rest of life gives us; and because even when things don't turn out the way we wish they had, there is always a good story. St. Joe's is a good story, and maybe it is part of a larger story. It would be nice if this year the college hoops story was about upperclassmen providing leadership-- and maybe even graduating. St. Joe's has a left field sort of connection to Buffalo, and they are starting out the tournament here, so I am liking them this year. The way I see it, a streak is more mentally challenging than anything else, and St. Joes hung pretty tough. If you are going to break a streak, a good time to do it is before it matters, to let a little of the steam out. They might have benefited from a number 2 seed, but that's in the past now-- let's see how many they can win in a row when it is all on the line.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

There is a good study to be written someday about the way music distribution effects music. Sheet music; piano rolls; the fact that most early record labels were owned by companies that sold or manufactured record players; the effect of radio, then radio networks; taping and, of course downloading. There's been stuff written on how LPs changed both jazz and pop (stuff that mostly seems to overlook classical music, but I'm sure there is a reason for that). There has been stuff written about the effect of technology, ("Everybody knows Muddy Waters invented electricity,") but nothing worthwhile about the economics of distribution , that I'm aware of. One thing that I've noted is that there is a tendency for music distribution to trend towards consolidation, then splinter. One effect of this trend seems to be a tendency in homogenization in the music itself, which then ends when some 'revolutionary' new sound finds its way into the marketplace through a new channel. There are a lot of examples of this, but consider for a moment that some of the biggest acts of my late high school/early college years were all managed by the same guy. Ever wonder why Steely Dan, The Eagles, The Doobie Brothers, REO Speedwagon, Dan Fogelberg, Journey, and Boz Scaggs all sound alike? Ask Irving Azoff, as good a reason to go to a club and hear the Ramones as ever existed. (Follow Me Here raised the question, and pointed me to the article.)

Two cups of coffee and my hands are like ice. How stupid is that? Sure, switch to decaf-- man, I drink coffee because of the caffeine, and anybody who tells you they don't is a liar. Let's face it, if it weren't for caffeine, coffee would be nothin' but a cup of hot brown bitter water, just like tobacco without nicotine is just burning newspaper.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

EGA is home for Spring break. She is very hip, being a college d.j. and all, and made a point of sharing some of the music she has been listening to lately. I really like The New Pornographers

Thursday, March 11, 2004

I am delighted that Kerry is visiting with Dean-- he needs all the backbone lessons he can get. I have no idea what kind of legs the story about calling Bush "crooked" will have, but under no circumstances should he backpedal or apologize. I'd like to hear him say, "I said 'crooked' because that's what I meant."

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

I just got an invitation for a Dyngus Day benefit for the Broadway Market. Dyngus Day, if you aren't from Buffalo, is a Polish tradition-- a sort of Easter Monday Sadie Hawkins event. The Broadway Market is a structure that houses a number of small vendors of this and that, mostly food, mostly traditional Polish fare. Around here Easter has a particularly Polish aspect to it, and a visit to the Broadway Market is something that a lot of people do once a year, to buy butter molded in the shape of lambs, and kielbasa, and other stuff like that. My mother-in-law is of Polish extraction, and Easter breakfast is her party, but I am not partial to this sort of cooking, and since I am not from here I do not view the Broadway Market through the veil of nostalgia that many people do-- it's okay, but I hardly think that it is the colorful bit out of the Old World that a lot of people say it is. And what's up with the idea of a benefit for a market? Only in Buffalo could an institution which has as its name the foundation term for free enterprise economics require a fund raiser.

Howard Dean had some very sensible things to say at the Gridiron Club Luncheon the other day. I feel the way the people who voted for Adlai Stevenson must have felt-- how can such an intelligent, thoughtful person not be President? (Via Electrolite.)

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

To Lost in La Mancha last night, a special screening to benefit SqueakyWheel. Co-director Keith Fulton came to town with a print of his documentary about the collapse of Terry Gilliam's Don Quixote. The movie works beautifully well on a number of levels: it is fascinating to see what goes into the making of a movie like this, of course; and it is even more interesting to see how precarious a project like this really is. This was the biggest budget movie ever attempted with exclusively European funding: as a result the documentary sometimes resembles a AIJA meeting, with a lot of French speaking lawyers smoking and talking on the phone and saying that something is "impossible". A major plot development turns on the meaning of "force majeure", which is funny if you go in for contractual language humor. Perhaps most importantly, the documentary is as close as we are likely to come to Gilliam's movie, which looks like it would have been brilliant.

Mr. Fulton was charming. His presence really made the event, and I think this is something that SW should try to do again.

Friday, March 05, 2004

A big, complicated, multiparty case that I've been working on for eight years settled on the eve of trial yesterday. Our position was vindicated, which was nice, and it settled at about what we had always said was the right price, which was satisfying, but what was really interesting about the whole thing to me was that I think it settled, finally, because over the course of the years the lawyers who were on the case changed, until there was finally the right combination of personalities in the room to allow for a discussion of the matter that was more or less free from the sort of posturing, and chest thumping and heel digging in that had gone on before. The people in the room finally started listening to what was being said, instead of holding fast to their opinions about the case. And, of course, if it hadn't settled when it settled we were going to be picking a jury. Sometimes that's what you want, but when the stakes are as high as they were here, and the outcome is as uncertain, everyone becomes very focused-- and that's when a deal can get done. It's really a question of ripeness-- and not just for the lawyers. The plaintiffs in this matter-- the people that is, the clients-- had lived with the case for so long that it had become a part of the fabric of their everyday lives. They went to bed with it every night, talked about it a family gatherings, brooded over it on car trips. It was about to come to an end, one way or another, and they were confronted with the idea of what the world would be like once this case was over. They started focusing too.

I relate a lot of what we do to "The Maltese Falcon", and this reminds a bit of that. When Spade is reunited with Gutman and the others for the final negotiation the fat man gives him an envelope with ten thousand dollars inside. Spade counts the money, then says, "We were talking about more money than this."

"Yes, sir, we were," Gutman agreed, "but we were talking then. This is actual money, genuine coin of the realm, sir. With a dollar of this you can buy more than with ten dollars of talk."

Every negotiation I've ever been involved in, every deal I've ever made has always come down to that.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

222 other people in my Congressional district voted for Dean. A. and I account for the other two that I know of.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

I just got back from court, where the judge who had taken on what promises to be a complicated, lengthy and thankless trial from another judge found that he was obliged to recuse himself. In the end he was stuck-- he has a direct financial interest in the outcome, due to his former partnership arrangement with an attorney who is involved in the matter. What was interesting to me was that he was obviously pained by the fact that this creates all kinds of headaches for the lawyers, the parties and the administrative system that runs our local courts. He couldn't have wanted the trial, but when it was clear that the judge who'd had it before him couldn't do it, he stepped up to the plate. He really wanted to be able to help out, and was upset that he couldn't. It is always a delicate thing, the question of recusal. There are lots of times when one feels that a judge ought to hand a matter off to someone who is better able to maintain objectivity, but one is frequently hesitant to raise the issue, for fear of pissing off the person who is already in a position to hurt you. Ironically, the judges you usually most wish would recuse themselves are seldom the ones that do so, and are usually the ones most likely to take umbrage-- and take it out one the requesting partyseldom see any problem. Certainly Justice Scalia fits this mold: he'll recuse himself over a trip to Croatia, , but duck hunting is apparently another matter. I'm sure that in his mind there is a complicated rule about overseas travel, or travel to Eastern Europe, or an exception when Labrador Retrievers are involved.

Who buys music? Creaky old bastards, apparently.

"Old gits, of course, are nothing new. Rock'n'roll itself turns 50 this year and its first wave of fans are pensioners. The term "adult oriented rock", meaning the Eagles if you were lucky and Boston if you weren't, was common currency 30 years ago.

"The 50-quid bloke is a big user of the web, Hepworth says, but unlike his children, he wants to own things. He shops at Amazon as well as the high street. [H]e is defined more by his likes than his dislikes and, crucially, he wants to keep up. He likes the White Stripes, Coldplay and Blur and has persevered with Radiohead through the difficult last three albums. His latest buys are the debut albums from the Stands, who remind him of the Byrds, and Franz Ferdinand, who remind him of the Glasgow art-school bands of 1982. The fact that most of the new bands sound old is a definite help.

"His favourite recent film is Lost in Translation, in which Bill Murray shows his own 50-quid tendencies by crooning a karaoke version of the Roxy Music song More Than This.

"He has been in love with music all his life - "He's got the High Fidelity chip embedded in his brain."

Yeah, I know him.... (Via Bifurcated Rivets.)

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Something possessed me Friday, and I found myself listening to a bunch of old Stones sides. It occurred to me that the string of releases starting with "Beggar's Banquet" and running through "Let It Bleed", "Sticky Fingers" and culminating in "Exile On Main Street" may be one of the greatest sustained bursts of genius in popular music. What can match it? Sinatra's work on Capitol with Nelson Riddle, perhaps ("Songs for Swingin' Lovers", "In the Wee Small Hours", "Frank Sinatra Sings For Only The Lonely", "A Swingin' Affair"). I think the work Miles Davis was doing in 1956 for Prestige-- "Workin'", "Cookin'", "Steamin'" and "Relaxin'"-- then with Columbia, on "Round About Midnight" through "Kind of Blue"-- fits into this category. I am sort of stuck trying to think of other examples. The Stones' run is all the more remarkable when you consider that it is bracketed by a couple of their most mediocre sides-- "Satanic Majesties" and "Goat's Head Soup".

Monday, March 01, 2004

My prediction is that Martha walks. Stephen Bainbridge argues that the case should never have been brought, and I'm inclined to agree. There is a big world of crime and corruption out there, and while it may be true that white collar cases work as deterrents better than any other criminal prosecution, the sort of resources that went into this case could have, and should have, been spent on any number of more serious matters. "We have here a case in which is the government flung allegations at Stewart, which they ended up deciding not to charge her with. The government then prosecuted Stewart for having denied the very same allegations the government decided it couldn't prove." Exactly. (Via Ernie.)

Although I think of myself as a creative person, I do not really have any hobbies that furnish as an artistic outlet. I've dabbled a little bit, I suppose, but not much. I think that, as with writing, it is the doing of it that is what is necessary, and I never get around to that. If I had $1,800 bucks to throw around on a artistic outlet where I have no track record whatsoever, I'd get the Leica Digilux2, and carry it with me everywhere. I say that even though as I write this I have a disposable camera on my desk half full of photos that I will not finish, or have processed for months and months. I can't just want this camera because it is so stylin', can I?

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