Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Jezebel follows up on the Pearls and Cashmere story. It seems Ms. Spurzem's remarks were taken out of context, or were off the record or something.

I also note with pleasure that my former colleague-- the woman who sparked my interest in Smith College, and who can therefore be said to have had an hand in inspiring my daughters' interest and attendance there-- is quoted in the Greenwich Times article. She is as gracious and right-thinking as ever.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Out of nowhere I've got Gordon Lightfoot's "If You Could Read My Mind" stuck in my head. My gosh it's annoying:

If you could read my mind, love,
What a tale my thoughts could tell.
Just like an old time movie,
'Bout a ghost from a wishing well.
In a castle dark or a fortress strong,
With chains upon my feet.
You know that ghost is me.
And I will never be set free
As long as I'm a ghost that you can't see

An old time movie about a ghost from a wishing well. What the hell is that supposed to mean?

I'd walk away like a movie star
Who gets burned in a three way script.

What's a three-way script? How does it burn?

Arrggh! It's not like there aren't Gordon Lightfoot songs that I like. "Ten Degrees and Getting Colder" is great, and "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" clumps along satisfactorily. Why the one about the paperback novel, the kind that the drugstore sells? How did this happen?

Monday, February 27, 2012

To the Enrico Rava Quintet at Bruce Eaton's Hunt Real Estate Art of Jazz at the Alright-Knox yesterday, a terrific show. Rava's label contacted Bruce last year after Charles Lloyd came through, and told him that Rava was coming to the US to play a stand in San Francisco, appear at the Portland Jazz Festival,play a stand at Birdland, and then pop into Buffalo before returning home. In other words, Bruce has turned The Art of Jazz into the sort of prestige booking that artists ask to come to. Lucky us. Rava was terrific. I love that sort of post-bop stuff, and I love trumpet, and I love trombone. I think it is great when an elder statesman fronts a band full of musicians he clearly digs playing with.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Cashmere and Pearls update: Jezebel weighs in here.

UPDATE: CNN has picked up the story.

See, also, Smif^3.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Regular visitors to Outside Counsel know that two of our daughters have graduated from Smith College, and that our youngest is presently a student there. We have no other family connection to the school. I once worked with a lawyer who had gone there, and found that she was intelligent, poised and gracious, so when it was time to look a schools for our oldest Smith came to mind. (An illustrative anecdote about Marianne, my former colleague. Early on in our acquaintance I made some sort of teasing remark about her fancy college. Instead of taking offense she merely said that her school wasn't like that at all, and moved on. She was, of course, correct, and I was being a jerk, but she managed to look past it. That is what classy does.) After EGA's experience at Smith Northampton just seemed like a good place to start looking, and remarkably enough Smith has served the completely different needs, and provided completely different experiences, for all three daughters.

This week a Smith alum wrote a letter to the Sophian, the student newspaper, which is worth reproducing in full:

To the Editor,

I am the president of the Smith Club of Westchester County. I enjoy reading the Sophian online because it helps me stay abreast of developments at the school.

I read your article about [President] Carol [Christ]'s resignation and it had some interesting statistics. It mentioned the percentage increase in the population of women of color and foreign students. The gist of the article was that one of Carol's objectives coming into the position was to increase diversity and the article gave statistics that showed that she did.

As someone who has followed admissions for many years, I can tell you how the school is viewed by students in Westchester and Fairfield Counties. First, these counties are some of the wealthiest in the country. The children have parents who are highly educated and accomplished and have high household incomes. The children are programmed from day one to get into Ivy League schools.

To this demographic, Smith is a safety school. Also, very few of these students want to go to a single sex school. With the exception of Wellesley, it is not hard to get into the Seven Sisters any more. The reason why Wellesley is more selective is because it is smaller than Smith and in a better geographic location – Boston beats Northampton.

The people who are attending Smith these days are A) lesbians or B) international students who get financial aid or C) low-income women of color who are the first generation in their family to go to college and will go to any school that gives them enough money. Carol emphasizes that this is one of her goals, and so that's why the school needs more money for scholarships or D) white heterosexual girls who can't get into Ivy League schools.

Smith no longer looks at SATs because if it did, it would have to report them to U.S. News & World Report. Low-income black and Hispanic students generally have lower SATs than whites or Asians of any income bracket. This is an acknowledged fact because they don't have access to expensive prep classes or private tutors.

To accomplish [President Christ's] mission of diversity, the school is underweighting SAT scores. This phenomenon has been widely discussed in the New York Times Education section. If you reduce your standards for grades and scores, you drop in the rankings, although you have accomplished a noble social objective. Smith has one of the highest diversity rates in the country.

I can tell you that the days of white, wealthy, upper-class students from prep schools in cashmere coats and pearls who marry Amherst men are over. This is unfortunate because it is this demographic that puts their name on buildings, donates great art and subsidizes scholarships.

-Anne Spurzem '84

It is hard to know what would prompt a person in her 40's to send a letter like this to a student publication, and my default response was to resort to mockery and hostility. I stay my hand because of the response that the Smith community has made instead. With LCA marching at the head of the parade, students and alumnae have created a Facebook event and a Tumblr, both called Pearls and Cashmere, where past and present Smith women are invited to announce their identities and declare their pride in their college. It is a moving rejection of Ms. Spurzem's opinions, and it has made us very happy.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dammit, I really need to make a point to not read George F. Will. Strawmen for miles around cower when he takes pen to hand, and it is exhausting to point out where and how he is wrong. Everywhere and about everything about covers it, but there must be people that buy into his faux intellectualism, and I can't decide if that is comical or nauseating.

Today he says, "No domestic problem -- not even the unsustainable entitlement state-- is more urgent and intractable than that of family disintegration. ". One hardly knows where to begin when confronted by a statement like that. Will goes on to talk about crime, lousy schools and "the inter generational transmission of poverty" as problems that flow "from the fact that now more than 50% of all babies born to women under age 30 are born to unmarked mothers. ". The fact that there was poverty, and crime for as long as we have recorded history, and that schools in the US have been struggling for approximately the last seventy years is neatly overlooked by Will, who sees causation where there is merely correlation whenever it occurs to him that the plight of the poor is their own damn fault. Which is to say, all the time.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Peter Bogdanovich was the Coen brothers before the Coen brothers were.

I love this sort of stuff:
Because of its commitment to clarity, analytic philosophy functions as an effective lingua franca for any philosophical ideas. (Even the most difficult writers, such as Sellars and Davidson, find disciples who write clarifying commentaries.) There is, moreover, a continuing demand for analytic expositions of major continental figures. It’s obvious why there is no corresponding market for, say, expositions of Quine, Rawls or Kripke in the idioms of Heidegger, Derrida or Deleuze. With all due appreciation for the limits of what cannot be said with full clarity, training in analytic philosophy would greatly improve the writing of most continental philosophers.
(Bridging the Analytic-Continental Divide.)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

‎Christopher Schobert, Jared Mobarak and I consider the Best Actor field at Buffalo Spree. One of my favorite things about writing for Spree is that it makes me feel like a mavin.

The Mets-Madoff connection is painful to read about:

Katz and Wilpon, according to the trustee, structured player contracts to draw out the timing of their payments. They would then invest the money they owed the players with Madoff and make a profit across the many years of the contract payments. That, too, was the vig.

The men, real estate moguls, also invested the excess proceeds from mortgages they refinanced with Madoff’s brokerage operation on the belief that his returns would be greater than their mortgage payments. That was the vig.

Finally, instead of paying disability insurance premiums for key players on the team, the trustee says, Katz and Wilpon put the money into an account — called “Saul’s cookie jar” — to pay injured players. That, as well, was the vig.

Ouch. Of course, as with any court procedure this story is surfacing for a reason, but it certainly paints Katz and Wilpon in a light that strongly hints at scienter. And how delightful that these were the dollars that are (still) paying Bobby Bonilla.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Outside Counsel is sorry to learn that Ben Gazzara has died. I teach Anatomy of a Murder in my Lawyers in Movies course, a movie in which he absolutely sizzled along with Lee Remick. As I think about those performances it occurs to me that they were the only two sexual characters in the film, and that this gives the movie a somewhat twisted view of sexuality. Remick is a rape victim, probably, and in a key scene Gazzara, as Lieutenant Manion, casually says, "A man gets used to the way his wife looks," as he carefully fits his cigarette into an ivory holder. It is a perfect bit of understated method acting. He was perfect in everything he did with John Cassavetes, one of those performers you can't take your eyes away from.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Gary Carter was responsible for some of the most memorable moments I've ever spent watching baseball. A. and I were in the stands (field level box, actually, just beyond 3rd base) when he hit the 10th inning walk-off home run on the Opening Day he debuted as a Metropolitan. We knew then-- who didn't?-- that he was the missing piece we'd needed. He finished his career where he started, in Montreal, and for his last at-bat he hit a double that was the game winning RBI in a 1-0 nailbiter. When he was drafted by the Expos he took a Berlitz class in French, which, when you think about it, is exactly what Gary Carter would do. He came to the Mets in a trade that was a pretty fair deal-- Hubie Brooks, Mike Fitzgerald, Floyd Youmans and Herm Winningham
 He was the real deal-- as good as you expected him to be. Alan Barra puts it nicely:
And here's something else: the 1985-1988 Mets had as much talent, at their peak, as any team baseball has ever seen. They were loaded with young players who seemed destined for the Hall of Fame. Who could have watched Dwight Gooden or Darryl Strawberry at that time and not thought they would eventually rank with the game's immortals?

Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling, Jesse Orosco, Howard Johnson, Kevin Mitchell, and Lenny Dykstra all had the talent to be in Cooperstown. To doubt this is to remember them as they were when they hung around too long, just trying to make the roster and collect a paycheck. But at their best, they played like Hall of Famers. But only one of them made it.

I never saw an at-bat where he wasn't focused, and he made that Mets pitching staff what it was, which was pretty great. I hope it went easy for him.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I like the "Training for" Boilermaker shirt. I wish CLA was running it with me again, but Boilermakers are like snowflakes and this year's will be great.

Christopher Schobert, Jared Mobarak and I are handicapping the Oscars for Buffalo Spree again this year.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Good post by Eric Loomis at LGM about Anthony Comstock. I mention it mostly because I want to use this graphic, but also because it is a pretty illustration of how far back in our history the culture wars go. Of course, they actually go all the way back-- the first Europeans to arrive here were world-historical prudes-- but I am struck by how well Comstock's views would fit into the Republican Party platform in 2012.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Contraceptives. I cannot believe that access to contraceptives is a hot button issue in 2012. How did this happen? Griswald v. Connecticut was decided in 1964. How far back do you imagine the American Right wants to roll constitutional jurisprudence? And just who do they think they are appealing to with this anti-contraceptive drivel? I suppose there are some American Catholics who believe that birth control is a sin, but most of them are men, and nearly all of those men are priests. (According to this study 98% of Catholic women who have had sex have used birth control. I know it is not in the nature of Catholic clergy to shut the hell up, but sex is a particularly stupid thing for Catholic bishops to be on about. They spent that particular credibility coin a while back, and ought not to be complaining about the motes in other people's eyes, you know?

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

I was already impressed with Justice Sonia Sotomayor but her appearance on Sesame Street ices it: Best Supreme Court Justice Ever.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Good account of yesterday's Mr. Ed's race from CLA.

Friday, February 03, 2012

A big congratulations to CLA, who just learned that she's been accepted into the Nurse Midwife program at Johns Hopkins.

Excellent 24 Hour Comic. (Via Boing Boing.)

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