26 June 2008

California Psychics’ thorough screening process; Sometimes, problems aren’t “opportunities,” they are PROBLEMS; Guns, guns; Common Sense?

The Defense of California Psychics

Friend and client the Sublime Elu wrote some months back that he doubted the claim of a company called California Psychics that they “carefully screen” their psychics. Elu mentioned that he would look for things like predictions of the Dow, that sort of thing. In the process of looking after his affairs (he was last heard from beached in Barbados), I have received the following communication from someone representing themselves as associated with the company:

“I actually work for California Psychics and they are very well screened. The process described here is actually exactly what they do – http://www.californiapsychics.com/articles/about/90/Psychic_Accuracy.aspx

“If you don't believe in psychics that can't be helped but they take great pride in having the most qualified psychics in the country.

“Our evaluation team rigorously tests each applicant for acute psychic ability, dedication to ethical standards and customer care skills. If the applicant receives an excellent assessment, the information is then forwarded to the Psychic Management team for review. A Psychic Manager conducts an interview to establish that the Psychic not only has real gifts, but is professional, customer-oriented, friendly, and communicates clearly. We are very selective in this process and the majority of applicants do not make it past this stage.”

I’ve not spoken with Bro. Elu, but I’m sure he’d like to see a test involving predicting the Dow or something equally objective in advance. It’s only fair.

Two approaches to problems

“There are two types of people . . .” - Don’t you hate trite, presumptuous crap like that? As if the complexity of humanity can be distilled by a mortal into a cutesy little formula. With that in mind, I have encountered a couple of approaches to dealing with problems this week which are, upon reflection, vastly different:

“That can’t be done! Oh, my! When in trouble, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout!”

“Damn, that’s a helluva problem! How will we solve that?”

If you say you can solve a problem, you may be wrong. If you say you cannot solve a problem, you cannot be wrong.

Two gun things

I watch nearly zero TV. There is one substantial exception. On Sunday morning, real early, I get to No. 3 to putter, shower, and organize the day and the week. As the coffee is brewing, and while I’m reading the Sunday paper, I turn on the TV in the “den,” mainly for background noise or “company.” Last Sunday, one of those “shocking videos” programs was on. In this one, there was a grainy jewelry store security tape. It showed two “customers” at the counter talking to the jeweler. One of them one pulls a pistol on the proprietor. In a display of considerable guts and deficient brains, the proprietor knocks it aside and goes for his own gun hidden under the counter. (The deficient brains is because you can’t outdraw a drawn gun.) The armed robber and the proprietor exchange fire at point blank range, and they miss each other. That’s not unheard of, even by police. The armed guy and the apparently unarmed accomplice flee. As they are going through the front door, the last shot by owner hits the accomplice in the spine, putting him down and, according to the narrator, putting him in a wheelchair for life.

The first question is a legal one, whether the last shot is legally justified. I don’t have a great deal of trouble with that. It was the robbers who initiated the confrontation and who knowingly introduced deadly force. All either of them had to do was say, hey, screw it, this is a really stupid idea, let’s go apply for jobs and get money that way. The last shot was maybe 10 seconds from when the incident began, so the owner didn’t have time to reflect and balance the benefits and costs of each shot. The owner’s Body Alarm Reaction sharpened some senses and inhibited thoughtful reflection.

The second question is the moral and practical one. Was taking that last shot a wise choice? Was it possible for the owner to have determined that the threat was now diminished to the point that this shot was not necessary? Was it possible for the owner to realize that the total cost of a gunshot wound can be catastrophic? Mind you, I’m not advocating a civil action, a civil demonstration against armed jewelers or an outpouring of grief for robbers who get shot. You play, you pay. However, the cost to the robber in bodily loss is catastrophic; the cost to society (medical bills that will probably be absorbed somehow by public funds; disability benefits, ditto; lost productivity, on the uncertain probability that such an individual would have turned out productive eventually) catastrophic; and, macho posturing notwithstanding, the cost to the owner in lost hours of sleep staring at the ceiling catastrophic, even though he can truthfully say, he’s hurt, I’m not, and boy am I glad about that.

Earlier today, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the District of Columbia ban on possessing handguns in ones’ own home is unconstitutional. This is the first substantive decision ever on the Second Amendment, and weakens (perhaps to nothing) the argument that the “right” is dependent on the militia clause ("A well-regulated militial being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.") (Doing that purely from memory, hope I got it "letter perfect," as Bro. Billy used to say.)

It’s still all fluff. The problem with guns is not just their efficiency and availability. Indeed, that’s not even the biggest problem. The biggest problem is that there are people willing to use them criminally. This is a cultural issue that I will not dispose of in a few paragraphs.

There are also plenty of people who use guns irresponsibly. Out west somewhere, a magistrate who legally carried a handgun in her purse was shopping with a grandchild who somehow got hold of the weapon and shot herself. Whatever the explanation, this is inexcusable.


If you don’t know whether it’s right to say or do something, imagine that your mother is there. If you wouldn’t do it or say it in front of her, you shouldn’t do it or say it, period.

Energy increases proportionally to the square of the speed, so a crash at 80 mph has four times the violent energy of a crash at 40 mph, and that energy has to be dissipated on metal, flesh and bone.

There is no water holier than honest sweat off the brow.

Use “Ladies,” “Gentlemen,” “Sir,” and “Ma’am.” You’re not smart enough to decide if they “deserve” it.

Keep tires properly inflated.

Pippa passes.


15 June 2008

A Sunday evening's olio of miscellany

Dead people:

I was going to post a comment about the gushing praise of the late Tim Russert on the community blog of the Bookshelf Community. It became rather personal and local to Fairmont, though, so I’m putting it here:

Tim Russert was a valuable person.

So was Dr. S. K. Wang, who died Friday. He was a Harvard trained orthopedist who left mainland China in the war and then served as an officer in the United States Army. He was my friend, and even when he stuck a spear in my heart in a deposition, he did it with good nature. He was a brother Mason. English was his second language, and he knew it, so he spoke clearly and spelled medical stuff that his accent made unclear. I remember a deposition where he had said that a client had no impairment, but needed retraining. Aha! I had him in a contradiction! Why, doctor, I asked, would someone without impairment need retraining?!? He replied, well, I think she’s too lazy to work as a (whatever), so maybe something else will catch her interest. Sigh. And he laughed and laughed, and so did I.

So was Betty Leggett, a lady at our church, who spent a great deal of her life caring for a profoundly disabled daughter, as well as raising 3 other children. Life threw lots of garbage at her, and she kept her faith and good spirits. She loved to play bridge and was really good at it. She led an exemplary life.

Opening our minds for the one should not close them for the many. Each of us will die, corporeally. I don’t pretend to have made a whole raft of progress on the spiritual implications of that, but I have the progressions visible on an EKG down real good. In a normal life, each of us will have at least the opportunity to confront Thanatos, although many folks leave the room, go get coffee and wall off terror that cannot be named.

Like I say, there is a whole spiritual realm to all of this that I really don’t understand.


I love that word. I think I can define it by example. Yesterday, I was in B&N with LaJ prior to going to a flick. (Aside: Movie = Zohan. Thank God for ear buds and the MP3.) I saw a new book that looked pretty good. (Final Theory, by Mark Alpert) So I headed for the coffee shop to get a cinnamon dolce latte (reminds me of one of my favorite Far Side cartoons) and downloaded it for $10 to my ebook. I don’t know how big a competitor the ebook is going to be to the brick & mortar world. I have read that Borders is looking at an acquisition by Amazon.

Local Politics:

Partner Amy has a real race in the general election for Family Court Judge. The Republican candidate is Shirley Stanton. Therefore, there is no gender factor. Shirley is a VERY nice lady, and the sort of person who has the velvet glove covering an iron fist controlled by a jet engine mind. She is economically successful, so if she chooses to, she can dump 30K into the race and she presents herself very well. Shirley is my friend.

The canon:

I’ve submitted the current installment of the canon to the bar magazine, and I’ll publish it here when it’s published there. It’s really now a perpetual work in progress. Next month’s submission will include a few books on spirituality which, to those who have known me for years, will seem rather, well, bizarre. Or heretical.

By the way, the Committee on Heresy and Secularism (consisting of myself) met this morning before services, and renamed rooms at the church. From now on, the narthex shall be known as the “front room,” and the sacristy, the “kitchen.”

Life too short:

In the past week, several people have talked about being involved in unpleasant phone conversations with idiots. That should never be a problem. You should never hear more than one abusive phrase directed at yourself. And it is pointless to reply. Just hang the damn phone up and move on.


In Europe, gas costs the equivalent of $6 per gallon, and the Middle East is a lot closer.

Pippa passes.


12 June 2008

We are ending our Workers' Compensation practice line

We are ending our practice line in the area of Workers’ Compensation. We have steadily practiced in that area since about 1984. In 1987, my former partner and I divided the case load so that she was straw-bossing the Social Security Disability practice and I the Workers' Comp. When that firm terminated, the Workers' Comp followed me.

We are winding up existing cases and will only open new files in extraordinary circumstances, such as where there is also a Social Security Disability application or a personal injury/insurance claim.

Wow, this seems abrupt, doesn’t it? Far from it.

Since 1995, the Workers’ Compensation system has been undergoing stunning changes, all of which have worked to the disadvantage of individual workers. Some of those changes were necessary to keep any system at all, which benefitted ALL workers, and we remain staunch supporters of Governor Manchin in that regard. He asked EVERYONE to tighten up, and the workers and those representing them stepped up to the plate and did so. The “other side,” consisting now of insurance companies acted, well, like insurance companies and have basically said to hell with the workers, the Governor and everyone else. They are firm believers in the “Viking Motto,” that is, “Screw You, I Got Mine.”

This has resulted in a lot of things:

In 1994, there was a simple and efficient system to handle disputes. Cases were reviewed periodically at hearings before part-time “hearing examiners” (that’s how I got my start in the practice), and things didn’t “fall through the cracks.” Well, every problem can be made worse by throwing money at it, and an “Office of Judges” came about with full-time judges and rules out the wazoo which had little or nothing to do with getting a decision made on the facts of a case. They have rules, for example, which prevent judges from reading a doctor’s report if it is received one day late, no matter what the report says, no matter how the worker is (or is not) injured. Paperwork tripled, and results were cut in half, with everyone congratulating themselves on how much paper they were churning out.

The old system of estimating impairment (percentage “settlements”) sort of by a “seat-of-the-pants” method needed changing. So it was changed to follow the American Medical Association Guidelines to Impairment. That’s all well and good, but to the AMA, there is no such thing as crippling pain. So, a typical serious back injury to a coal miner in 1994 that would have merited a 40% impairment (around $40,000) became a 20% impairment in 1995. Then came “Rule 20,” because 20% for an injury that may have ended a coal miner’s career at age 40 was WAY too much money for the employers' interests – so under Rule 20, that injury topped out at 8% - a 5-fold decrease.

Permanent total awards exist where an injury knocks someone out of the ability to do any meaningful work. That happens, and is sometimes dependent on someone’s age, education, and work experience. A “threshold” for an application of 50% was imposed, meaning that you have to have 50% awarded before you can even ASK for a permanent total. And remember, the amount of impairment awards have gone WAY down. In the mid-90's, we were turning over about 1-1/2 permanent total cases per month, which was as many or more than any law office in the state. In the early 2000's, it went to 1-1/2 per YEAR, and now it’s gone to ZERO.

The state Chamber of Commerce said that anybody should be able to be retrained to work, and that it was essentially lazy to just be disabled. Well, insofar as people ought to get out and be absolutely as active as God lets them be, they’re right. But the retraining is a problem. The vocational rehabilitation system is a corrupt joke. Big companies collect big money to “counsel” people on how to write a resume and then bug them to go apply for jobs that they can’t do. There is a 7-step “heirarchy” of rehabilitation. Guess where an injured worker actually gets some training? Right, step 7.

More and more, the insurance companies are denying medical treatment and medication. This is not because they are not needed. This is because the worker will play hell trying to get the decision changed. The worker will NEVER get it done quickly, and if s/he needs medication NOW, they are just out of luck unless they have another way to pay for it. They have to go to the Office of Judges and present evidence on each denial, and it’s hard to get a lawyer to help – it is ILLEGAL for a lawyer to charge a fee to do that.

So all of this has resulted in our being able to do less and less for our clients. That alone is disturbing.

Also, to be mercenary, it means we are busting our asses getting less and less results for little or no compensation while our expenses are going through the roof. And it also means that when a worker gets screwed by the system (and believe me, that happens all the time), WE are the closest people, so WE are on the front lines with the frustrated people who have taken the screwing -- the folks at the insurance companies will just recite that it ain't their problem and hang up, so claimants often vent their frustrations here.

So, I must say, I love the practice of law, I love my clients, and I love helping people and making a difference. I smile when I think of many of them – my friend Charles, who was terribly injured and nobody believed him. We worked the HELL out of his case and finally got a PTD. My friend George, they used every trick in the book to delay him and block him, and we got his PTD right before he died. My friend Larry, I loved that guy, the kind of fellow who would boldly fly the Jolly Roger, and whose work ethic was fanatic. On his death bed, we promised that we’d keep his case going for his family. Wanda, who had a very peculiar chemical exposure case; Fred, who had what would have been a bad but not horrible leg injury, but he got osteomyelitis and reflex sympathetic dystrophy. There are just so many.

We never shied away from work. In 1995, when the first big attack came, I remember putting in 80 hours in the 4 days after a bill was introduced in the Legislature because I knew that the Supreme Court had to strike down the part of it that said it was effective from before it was passed. We got about 10 people permanent total awards from that, so it was worth it. We dealt with steadily worse and worse “whores of the court,” doctors who basically sold opinions against workers, no matter what the worker’s condition was. There's one doc they've dredged up and I've read about 100 opinions of this doc in the past year -- of these 100 people, TWO of them were hurt, according to him.

I just cannot help people it any more in the realm of Workers’ Compensation. I’m 55 and I’ve been doing this for 30 years. I have never focused on the money, and I have never sought “status” or worn $1,000 suits or driven a Mercedes. (My Audi is the nicest car I’ve ever owned. It’s now 9 years old, has 125,000 miles on it, and still runs like a bat out of Hell, which is why I keep it.) I keep joking with Judge B that I’m going to comply with the letter of the new dress code rules by wearing to court one of my Hawaiian shirts with one of my Santa Claus ties, because I'm just sort of anti-3-piece-suit. (As I write this, I'm sitting at my desk at the end of a day, and I've changed into one of the Hawaiian shirts, shorts and sandals, and I'm comfortable.) My contemporaries are retiring and going into semi-retirement because they HAVE focused on the money, whether or not that has meant good results – I know of some really wealthy lawyers with clients they have soaked who often REALLY needed told that they should forget the whole thing and not go to court.

There are other cases and other ways where we can honestly make a difference in people’s lives, and we have to turn our efforts to those.

This is very difficult for me to write. Practicing Workers’ Comp has gone from honest and vigorous litigation to tilting at windmills, and windmills will just beat the hell out of you. I should consult partner Amy before publishing something this open about our business. However, she is at the state Democratic convention this weekend and she would discourage me from doing this. I’m sure she would prefer some rather more dignified announcement that was absent any emotional content. Well, folks, this is who I am, warts and all, and I will continue to stand on these Wind Hills, spit into the wind, swing the tomahawk and persevere.

Pippa passes.


11 June 2008

Thomas Paine Reloaded

With reference to the continuing political crisis in the Bookshelf Community:

Comment the First:

Good discussion -
"Rags, you are wrong because . . ."

Bad discussion -
“Just shut the fuck up, Rags . . you’re an embarassment “

In the marketplace of ideas, we place different values on the products, but we don’t ban any of them. No one banned Coca-Cola from selling the New Coke - there were simply no buyers, so it vanished.

Comment the Second:

At any given time, there are at least hundreds of people genuinely qualified to serve as president. How do we pick which one of them actually serves? Not by any rational qualitative method. Rather, the selection is made by influence, personality traits unconnected to performance, corruption which goes undetected or which is excused/ignored, random chance (“luck”), cynicism, manipulation (of the candidate, of the electorate), intelligence (of the political operatives), the generous application of green poultices and other factors which are, at the very best, unrelated to how a particular person will discharge the duties of the office. Each person who has served as president has been the beneficiary of these things, to-wit:

Bush II - Son of Bush I, absent which he wouldn’t have been elected mayor of Crawford, Texas, which is a good thing, since a municipality cannot afford to run a $4 trillion debt.

Clinton - A good-hearted yet cynical political operative with flaws as deep as LBJ, just not as noticable. Brilliant guy who hides it well.

Bush I - Purely a “staff” guy, serving leaders competently until he was kicked upstairs. (That’s not a criticism - really good staff people are rare. Bush I bailed out the CIA and the RNC when each was in chaos.)

Reagan - An actor, i.e., “The Great Communicator.” Even rabid Reaganites talk about the Reagan conservatism coming from his mind with tongue firmly in cheek.

Carter - Nice fellow, and not Nixon. Very smart, but not so much so in government.

Ford - Nixon’s bud.

Nixon - Rode the Red Scare and knew when to get off. Then he was as nasty as LBJ, only sneakier.

LBJ - Hardest working of all the presidents, DEEPLY flawed and the stars aligned to cause those flaws to maximally damage the nation. He was elected to the Senate by blatant vote-fraud and stayed there by blatant intimidation.

Kennedy - Started out rich (family resources gained largely illegally) which was a strong base from which to use his personal courage and effort.

Eisenhower - Elected mostly on merit (although the undeserved lackluster perception of Adlai Stevenson helped), and his presidency was a disappointment.

Truman - An ideal person in office. Wouldn’t have been elected as a county judge in Missouri but for his connection with and loyalty to a Tammany-Hall-like organization.

Even my two heroes:

Lincoln - Very intelligent and effective speaker on an issue (slavery) which caused a 4-way contest in which he won a narrow plurality – in other words, he was in the right place at the right time. (Yes, the Civil War WAS about slavery.)

Theodore Roosevelt - Started rich (family resources), so he had the luxury of time to write, politic and ranch. His personality was very strong, prompting the national Republican leadership to kick him upstairs to the meaningless post of vice president, from which he became president by the happenstance of an assassin and primitive medicine. In other words, he was in the right place at the right time. He then held power by means as powerful as LBJ’s, only above-board.

The current candidates and near-candidate:

McCain - A naval aviator, which is a thing of great effort and honor, but is unconnected with the presidency. A POW which is an experience for which he should also be honored, but which is likewise a non-starter functionally. However, absent those things, he wouldn’t be running for president.

Obama - A good looking black guy, super intelligent, the nearest of the three to be in the race on merit alone.

Clinton - Brilliant lawyer, unlikely to have risen above the Merited Mass without having been married to Bill Clinton, the political operative.

ALL of these people were and are QUALIFIED to be president. But don’t get the idea that our system magically produces the best of the best for the job.

Sometimes, we get someone who is not among the qualified hundreds:

Warren Gameliel Harding

People right off the top of my head who could have done the job, too:

Sen. Edward Brooke: Moderate, brilliant, but black when black wasn’t cool.

Sen. Margaret Chase Smith - Moderate, brilliant, but a woman when femininity wasn’t cool.

Herman Kahn - Greatest & smartest social thinker of the 20th Century, but he spouted unpopular ideas bluntly, he was fat and he was ugly.

George Romney - Super effective, but wouldn’t act like enough of an extremist.

Ann Richards

Mario Cuomo

Jay Rockefeller - Probably kicking himself for not being the white guy from a small state who ran in 1992.

John W. Davis

Albert Gore, Sr.

Tom Dewey

How many can YOU name?

Pippa passes.


05 June 2008

OK, Doreen, here's a post!!!

It’s a big deal to me:

Yesterday, I was called by LaJ up to LaGrandmother’s house because LaG was quite ill. (She is now hospitalized, and so far the docs haven’t figured stuff out. Her respiratory status has diminished.) Anyway, for about the 4th time this year, I called 911. When I do so, I remember having spent time on the other end of those phone calls years ago, and I watch what unfolds with both the personal participation in the process as a citizen accessing help and with some sort of informed-observer-effect. In the 70's, we spent thousands of hours laying the foundation for the emergency response & communication system in West Virginia and Marion County, and participation in that is something that I’m genuinely happy to have done – along with a hundred other people I could just rattle off the names of.

The hours of planning, arguing, testing, revising, rending garments and so forth produced a creature that is still evolving and which works quite well in the present. The dispatcher seeks pertinent information promptly and calmly, then bangs out the alarm. The company(s) alerted head for the vehicles as the call is going out. By the time the driver has started the apparatus engine, they know the address (or will look it up in the address book in the truck) and will respond “Code 3,” i.e., with lights & siren. The first few times you do that, it’s a helluva rush – which is why new people DON’T get behind the steering wheel for MONTHS. On the way to the call, the people on the apparatus will talk about last night’s hot date, where they will stop for lunch after this call if they don’t get another, interspersed with the person in the passenger seat helping the driver by calling traffic in intersections.

The Marion County Rescue Squad (my old company) and the Fairmont Fire Department responded to LaG’s house. And again, the years of work by lots of unheralded people have led to the “point of the spear” working smoothly, calmly and efficiently. The paramedics loaded LaG (with the help of the fire guys, who then took off on another call), took blood & started an IV, and transported her to Fairmont General. No muss, no fuss, no heroics, no drama, just people doing their job efficiently. I don’t understand the public relations process very well (that’s Bro./Preacher Joel’s profession), but to me it’s a good thing when government and quasi-government activity occurs with a minimum of press attention.

This necessitated dumping a hearing today. Many places, that’s a nightmarish process. Here, everybody gives each other personal consideration and slack, and genuinely cooperates. Opposing counsel Pete Dinardi was totally gracious and helpful, in “the best traditions of the bar.” To illustrate how this consideration works, I have an appeal about to be filed. In the hearing on the primary issue, we appeared and as we were walking into the courtroom, the Judge was called that his father had taken quite ill. Opposing counsel (my law school buddy, Dan Ringer) and I told the judge to hit the road, we’d work it out. Dan and I knew what the evidence was going to show, and we also were pretty sure what the Judge was going to do. We just filed a stipulation of what the witnesses would say and, as expected, the Judge made a ruling based on a strong proposition of law which, if it is undisturbed on appeal, is in accordance with the state of the law in West Virginia. (For practititioners, the issue is the continuing role of the Whiting presumptions in PI settlement proceeds deposited in a joint account. The argument on appeal, I think, will be that Whiting should be modified to permit a “Jesus factor,” that is, a consideration of whether the easy ruling is just so fundamentally unfair that it should be made differently. I hope that I get an chance to argue the appeal orally at the Supreme Court – my friend Justice Maynard, for whom my support created a lot of personal noise directed at me, is really going to be hard on me in argument – which, paradoxically, is why I supported him in the election, he just applies what he believes is the law.) So, no one had to testify, the disputes were clearly stated and we received a fair ruling (OK, I’m appealing - how about a ruling in accord with existing law, which I think should be changed?) and the cooperation of everyone made that work.

Remember the OJ trial in California taking 9 months? Here, it would have been a long trial, too - around two weeks.


I’m submitting a column for The West Virginia Lawyer this weekend. It’s on books and such, and has a brief discussion of online communities. I here freely admit that I have described our Beloved Bookshelf Community in the following terms:

For 10+ years, I’ve been a citizen of a sort of snarling mutant community called the “Bookshelf.” (There is a link to the community blog, but only those with strong constitutions should go there – it’s not unlike watching the “Birth of a Baby” film in high school health class, some people just can’t take the stress.) “Custom” communities like that aren’t moderated as a rule, and the frequent obnoxiousness makes the Gazette’s opinion page sound like tea time at the Little Church in the Valley.

Lest someone reach for the phone to call their lawyer, they should know that truth is a defense to an action for defamation.

Acts of kindness:

Act the First: Last week, I was sitting in the café across the street from the Courthouse with Judge Dave drinking coffee early in the morning, and as usual we were solving all the world’s problems. Dave bought a new truck a couple of weeks ago, just beautiful and blacker than the shining gates of Hell. As we were sitting there, Dave got a phone call on his cell. (Aside - If you know the learned judge’s aversion to technology, you marvel at the fact that he has a cell. He still uses a dip pen and blotting paper in his court. No kidding.) I could only hear one side of the conversation: "Oh, shit . . . Are you sure you’re OK? . . . No problem, I’ll take it to the dealer, that’s why we have insurance." La Dave and a deer collided in the new truck and, for those of you in urban areas, trust me, hitting a deer on the interstate causes a bunch of damage.

Act the Second: The next morning, same café, same time, same company –– an old lady who is a "regular" for breakfast took her plate to the garbage essentially untouched. The owner, Jeri, came out and put her arms around her, reminded her that she needs to eat, that it’s good for her (she’s a very thin lady), and spent the time to extend human kindness.

Act the Third: Pastor Josh is out of town. I am singularly unqualified to do the pastoral kind of thing, and so I called the church’s “elders,” who took care of going up to FGH to provide spiritual support to LaG.

A Bunch of Opportunistic Cretins:

The new president of the University isn’t one of the “academic bluebloods,” which the tenured faculty has trouble getting a grip on. There is a “Scandal” going on, about Governor Manchin’s daughter improperly receiving an MBA degree (before he was Governor). The president’s critics are demanding his head, the Governor’s critics are crying “foul,” and the Sunshine Patriots are ducking for cover. The press, ever hungry for scandal, is interviewing people who were in high school with the Governor’s children, to find more scandal. Hell, they ought not to stop there, they need to talk to the kids who were in kindergarten with them – maybe one of them bit another kid or something. Here, again, is an example of the deterioration of reason and discourse. It’s not enough to say, damn, we disagree with you because the new president isn’t a classroom maven, and the reason that s/he should be is x, y and z. Rather, it has to be “you’re a bad human being and obviously are acting with bad motives.” And they call themselves intellectuals? I suppose that I could argue a university faculty entering into the political process from both sides. THIS particular faculty, however, is so inept at politics that they need to get back to work.


The Taylor County retiring teachers’ soiree is this evening at the Middle School, where LaJ will be among those honored who are retiring after their years laboring in the vineyards. I’m working around the hospital schedule, because I really want to make the soiree.

A Damn Shame:

A lawsuit over the workings of the Grand Lodge of the AF&AM in West Virginia has been filed in Circuit Court in Kanawha County. That this dispute has gone so far is a great distress to most of the brethren.

Pippa passes.