Saturday, April 23, 2022
Friday, April 15, 2022
Wednesday, April 13, 2022
)h, look! Mr. Blogger is angry again!
The world is now as full of annoying things as the oceans are full of salt water. Most people are annoyed, even though they try to hide it. Most people are afraid, although they don't admit it. Many people are participating in one or more of the annoying things, while carefully hiding that fact from their coworkers and families. I find that annoying too.
The most annoying thing from my point of view is that so many people are maintaining their composure and publicly acting as though nothing unusual or annoying were happening. Nope! We're fine here! Jobs are secure. Banking apps are working. Investments are generating earnings. Wi-fi is strong. Starbucks is still delicious. Weather has been beautiful. I love my new hybrid Camry. Nothing to see here! Keep it moving.
I can't help but wonder: are these folks all okay with our new world of drought, fire, floods, atmospheric rivers, wars, refugees, corruption, political terror, internecine warfare between generations, between races, between world-views, between political tribes, and between demographics?
Are they okay with the very popular abandonment of reality-based thinking, Enlightenment values, and, apparently, the whole concept of reading and knowing things?
It's almost like we were forbidden to discuss the terrible trouble that we are in. That would be strange.
I shouldn't get into specifics, because I am sure that I have annoyed enough people already. Is it even legal to express possibly aberrant opinions anymore? But since when can I help myself?
I don't want to harsh anyone's mellow, but it might be more appropriate if you got mad about...
The melting sea-ice and permafrost
The war in Ukraine in general
In particular, the first steps of the war in Ukraine into outer space (today we were informed that the Soviets, I mean the Russians, have cut off Sweden and Finland from the GPS satellites that they rely on, which are not, by the way, Russian satellites)
The upcoming election in France (if you liked Brexit, you'll love Marine le Pen; so will Putin)
Saudi billionaires handing over two billion US dollars to a certain Trump White House flunky as an “investment,” after the flunky facilitated a hundred-billion-plus arms sale to the Saudis for use in their genocidal war against Yemen, I mean Iran, I mean Yemen
The total mess that is being made of our Constitution and our democratic institutions by a bunch of idiots that is getting stupider year by year
Sri Lanka slipping into darkness, along with the usual suspects around the world, without anyone seeming to give a good God damn.
There are many things that are going horribly wrong. Most of which we are no longer allowed to discuss. I've been reading that maybe this Ukraine debacle will be the slap across the face that wakes us the fuck up, but I'm not so sure. Maybe people are waiting for Putin to actually blow off a smallish tactical nuke in Ukraine. We may get a chance to see what will happen in that case.
Any of those things would be worth an ounce of rage. Myself, it enrages me that simply saying that Hon. Ketanji Brown Jackson is extremely qualified to serve on the Supreme Court causes certain people to label me “pro-pedophile,” or even “a pedophile,” or at least part of the “radical left.”
It enrages me that expressing anything less than total endorsement of the limitless availability of sex-change operations to people of any age group makes one automatically a homophobe.
It enrages me that any objection to people “choosing their own pronouns” makes one a homophobe.
It enrages me that simply saying the name of a certain nation of people who live in the Levant, have pretty much always lived in the Levant, and until recently lived in a country named after them, well, now just saying their name makes one an anti-Semite. This happens regardless of how well documented your love for the Jews may be, and overlooks for the moment the fact that both nations are Semitic.
I am quite angry about the entire concept of “cancellation,” and the possibly related concept of “woke.” I swear, if anyone so much as tells me that they are “non-binary,” and instructs me in which pronouns that I am required to use, I'm moving to a smallish, more-or-less developing country. Oh, I forgot. I already have moved away.
Honestly, does anyone else agree with me that more thought and care should go into our consideration of the entire world south of the equator? Admit it, no one seems to think about them, with the possible exception of Australia and New Zealand. We think about those two because they are white and they speak some weird simulacrum of the English language. The white ones and the brown ones are equally our brothers and sisters, and most of them are in terrible shape.
Corruption? I could harp on the corruption problem all day. I'm afraid, however, that corruption has won its battle for our souls, and that it will destroy us sooner or later. Corruption has co-opted our opposition by extending its benefits through a sufficient portion of the population. A preponderance of the key people around the world receive benefits in sufficient measure to bind them to the engines of corruption. These can come in the form of cash, artificially inflated salaries, long term benefits, big retirements some day, book deals, jobs for dependents, otherwise unobtainable fantastic health care, titles and honors, access to devices and properties, scholarships for children, or other things of value. It's all chump-change to the real money, but it's enough to bind the necessary collaborators to the corruption teats.
There is a great deal of corruption in the southern hemisphere as well, but down there it's all on a more affordable scale. Freedom from hunger is a miraculous benefit for a hungry family. A mobile phone will buy a vote in a surprising number of countries. Terror, of course, remains a cost-effective way to facilitate corruption.
Our prosperity, for those of us who are lucky enough to qualify for the term, is on a year-by-year basis now. First, therefore, let's all hope that we get through this year okay. The next few years will be real Wild Cards. Maybe we'll get lucky. That would be nice. Or maybe not so lucky. Maybe it'll be a bust-out. Time will tell.
What will you do on the morning that we all wake up to find that the entire Internet is gone? Gone for years, all of it, four-corners gone. It might be a good idea to start keeping more flashlights, batteries, real books, and cash around the house. Small bills, please. I wonder about small gold coins sometimes. Anything could happen, and probably will.
Wednesday, April 6, 2022
Saturday, April 2, 2022
Anyone who has ever been involved in a court case will tell you that it's a tough row to hoe. Plaintiff or defendant in civil court, or, for the truly unlucky, defendant in a criminal case, you have passed through the looking glass into a world of strange linguistics, arbitrary decisions, and bored participants. A world where the law is whatever the judge says it is, and the truth is generally left up to a jury, whether they understood the case or not. If you think the judge made mistakes of law, you can, perhaps, appeal the error. That takes money, and comes with no guarantees. If you think that the jury was wrong in their decision, well, there is really nothing that you can do about it. Almost always, “nothing.” They often get it wrong, sometimes on purpose (see, State of California v. Orenthal James Simpson).
Appearing before the court as a party to a case is a lot like making sausages, with the state providing the casing, and the parties providing the chunks of meat, gristle, and bone. Spices optional.
(Redacted) are going through a divorce right now. The petitioner has retained counsel, filed the case, and served the petition on respondent. Respondent had retained counsel, and they had answered the petition, but around that time things took a wild swing towards the ditch. People who appear quite reasonable in good times may discover that they are capable of great mischief without half trying. They ask unqualified friends and acquaintances for advice, and they get it. And they may act on it. Destination: misadventure! In this case, the fallout included respondent's attorney substituting himself out of the case, which is a nice way of saying that he fired respondent as a client. His potential billing in this case was a vast treasure, so one is driven to the conclusion that respondent did something that had the potential to get them all in trouble. Lawyers prefer not to go down with the ship.
Friends and neighbors, finding yourself in court is so far away from fun that you would need the Hubble telescope to see fun from the courtroom. It was Oscar Wilde that said that he had had a good life, all in all, but that in the course of said life two very terrible things had happened to him. Once, he was sued in court, and he lost, even spent some time in prison, and that had been a terrible experience. Another time he had sued someone in court, and he won! That, said Oscar, was just as bad as the other thing.
In my opinion, the only winners in the courtroom are the court reporter and the interpreters. They don't care who wins; they get their money either way; and they are almost never sued. Even the court clerk has pressure on him, and the bailiff's life can often become very lively, suddenly. Of the parties, no one wins, not really. All of the parties go home worn out and poorer for it, unless they are criminal defendants who get carted right off to prison.
I went through a divorce myself about ten years ago. My ex-wife and I had been married for over forty years, so there were no issues of child support or custody. I am confrontation-adverse, so I did not wish to push for settlements that were well within the reach of a decent family lawyer. (I make no claims for my abilities in the field, although I rubbed up against it in my own practice.) My advice to my wife was that we should jointly hire a specialized divorce mediation lawyer. Let's just go with the simplest, most straightforward division of the property. It went well and was handled expeditiously by a talented young woman with good experience. I lost money on the split, but I would have lost any likely additional benefit by having to pay a good family lawyer.
Isn't that a nice euphemism? Family lawyer. The lawyers who preside over divorce battles are called “family lawyers.”
Most lawyers are simple journeymen, dragging a briefcase around all day between courthouses and the offices of other lawyers, trying to find odd moments to either bring in new clients or work on pleadings and correspondence. The greatest lawyers are like magicians. They are great actors, adept at mind-control and misdirection. There were a huge number of lawyers in the jurisdiction that I worked in, and most by far were either sleepwalking or operating at the top of their limited capacity. When a great one showed up in the middle of a case that you were involved with, they were a joy to watch.
Not to mention the driving! I often had days where I would appear in San Bernardino in the morning (one hundred miles each way), and be at a law office in Newport Beach in the early afternoon. Substitute Ventura, followed by Pasadena. Every single thing that a lawyer does between about six in the morning and, if she is lucky, seven in the evening is stressful. It should be a mystery to no one why many lawyers drink too much.
It's much the same with judges, without the driving. Oh, they also have more predictable hours. Their jobs are stressful though. They are under close scrutiny, and they must sit there all day and listen to lawyers lie to them. They all understand that the lawyers are probably lying, or at least holding something back. All judges were lawyers once, and they did their job the same way. My greatest shock as a lawyer was the realization that telling the truth was often considered unethical under the rules of legal ethics. Telling the truth could be malpractice, and you could be sued.
Most judges are just trying to color within the lines and not get themselves into trouble. The occasional highly intelligent judge was a rare treat. The more pedestrian judges have a threshold issue when they are deciding a matter: is this lawyer or law firm likely to take me up on a writ or appeal if I rule against them? If the answer is “yes,” that side wins, regardless of the merits of the issue.
Self interest is evident at every stage of every proceeding.
It's nothing like what you've seen on TV. No, on TV someone commits a crime, the matter is investigated, the alleged perpetrator is arrested, and there is a trial to a final verdict, all within one hour. Even in theatrical movies, it is a rare example that gives you any sense of the real timeline, which can seem like forever.
My friends, my sincerest wish for you is that you and your loved ones can manage to avoid courts and hospitals for the rest of your lives! Do whatever it takes to avoid them.
If you are already stuck being a lawyer, keep your nose clean and learn to stay loosey-goosey without drinking too much. For you judges, may I suggest that you place a nice sign on your bench where only you can see it, reading, “Not My Circus; Not My Monkees.” You didn't get those Jimbonies into this trouble, and it's not your job to get them out of it.