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A Møøse once bit my sister ...
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Church here yesterday was highly ordinary. Songs and a sermon series. A few people I really cared to be with there, a bulletin insert reporting a projected $22,000 annual deficit, and not much else to write home (or here) about.

Yet roughly 60 miles away, a different congregation formed- one of 30 different places around the world where new fellowships began yesterday- all the music, all the inspiration, all the connectedness, just none of that-thar God stuff:

On Sunday morning — while sermons were beginning in churches throughout the city — Rochester ushered in its first godless congregation.

The Sunday Assembly, more commonly known as the atheist church, did not have a pastor or a traditional church choir; instead, the assembly held its first local service with an upbeat, rock band rendition of Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror."

Nearly 50 people attended the service at the the Rochester Academy of Science auditorium.

...Sunday Assembly Rochester, one of 30 new chapters to launch worldwide on Sunday, is part of the rapidly expanding movement of godless churches. The organization, which was founded in London in early 2013, now has 58 assemblies.

Local organizer Leslie Hannon said the congregation aimed to be "radically inclusive" and give the secular part of the community an opportunity to be acknowledged.

The article goes on to identify the movement's version of small group connectedness- something our denomination has always encouraged and our minister has always called for (and expressed frustration at the lack of overall interest in):

Hannon said small interest groups — which they call smoops — will meet in between the monthly services to give back to the community and foster camaraderie within the congregation. The Sunday Assembly Rochester's first smoop will be a photography walk thorough Mt. Hope Cemetery in October. Hannon said community service projects are also in early planning stages.

Antonio Cruz, 54, of Rochester had not been to church in 40 years, but was happy and at-ease during Sunday's service.

"Everyone here is so friendly," he said. "I've never experienced anything like this before."

I'm sure the movement will attract its share of nuts, both inside and out, with the Spaghetti Monstrous trying to co-opt the values and the Fundies trying to save souls on the way into the heathen pit.  Also, it's yet to hit Buffalo (although Canadians have a few outposts just over the bridges), where more conservative and set-in-ways values seem to prevail.

Still. If I or we wind up shopping for more opportunities than are coming from the current deity in the current vestments, I see no reason to rule this out. In fact, I see a whole lot of reason here.

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Three seasons of sport essentially ended today. As for two of them, the less said, the better.

The Bills lost. While they are only a quarter done with their season, the past two weeks have produced ugliness that portends yet another quiet January in our local lives, and probably yet another rebuilding campaign beginning in 2015.

Derek Jeter played his final game today, on the road in Boston. His final days in the Bronx were so over-the-top, I envisioned the Yankees providing him with a chariot of fire and horses of fire that would take him to heaven in a whirlwind and then return him for the final three at Fenway.  He was a good guy, but I'm just happy we won't get a third straight year of overpriced adulation from Team Steinbrenner next year.

Which brings us to the final finale- the meaningless Mets win today, which ends an eighth straight year with them going (in this case, staying) home at the end of the regular season with no Games That Count for more than half a calendar. The past six of those seasons- all of them under their new Citi Field umbrella- have been sub-.500 years, although this time they came their closest and wound up tied for second in their division, way behind even the one-and-done wildcard contenders.  I will not bore you with the reasons for their demise or the made-up (or Madoff, depending on who you believe) reasons for their lack of any real hope of improvement next year.

Rather, I want to talk about the group of fans, the group of friends, who make it all worthwhile to keep this team on my radar, and favorites list, and once-annual pilgrimage list, despite all of that.

"My Summer Family" is what a blogger friend Taryn called them, back when her rels had real and regular Shea Stadium season ticket seats.  These posts came as the demise was already under way, and ended not long after the move to pricier quarters next door broke up the assemblage.  But the term still holds, for me at least, even from this distance.

To put it in perspective: the Bills have already played two home games 15 miles from my home. I know dozens of people, in real life and/or online, who attended, or could easily have attended, those contests. Not a one of them ever asked me if I was going, or wanted to go. For the product, or the pre-game experience? Erm, no- both involve substantial risks of regurgitation.  But for the camaraderie, the shared experience? Yeah, I'd risk the loss of voice (if not the loss of cookies, as I would not drink during tailgating) to be with people I care about.

On the other hand? In the week prior to today's final Mets game, 400 miles from my doorstep, no fewer than four fellow fans specifically sought me out and asked if I'd be there.  (I held out remote hope through as recently as yesterday morning, but the funds to justify it did not arrive, and thus neither did I.) We'd have been holding down separate sections- from bleacherish to beaucoup-buck- but we'd all meet during the game, usually on the Shea Bridge connecting the first-and-third-base sides of the stadium, and reminisce about the better times behind and ones we hope will lie ahead despite the prognostications.

We're professionals and creative types, moms and dads of everything from college graduates to cats to stuffed bears. We all detest our team's owners, tolerate its frustrated managers of general and field, and live and die with the ragtag band of, mostly, the Very Very Old (one of whom won the final game today) and the Very Very Young.  We are blessed with the two best play-by-play men in the business not named Vin Scully and marvel at how they can make even the most pedestrian of this team's losses seem far more magical than they really are. We manage to have a good time confined to the Emperor's Club sections of the ballpark, yet somehow do just as well if not better when staring in from the cheap seats.  We mock the opposing teams and fans but do not hurt them.

I went an entire season without posting a single entry on my Met-oriented blog, despite following the outcomes of all of them, watching more than a few of them, and attending one of them not quite two months ago. As with the game itself, there's a rhythm you have to get into, and the injuries to so many players during the year, the absence of farmhands from Western New York, and the general stupidity of ownership all contributed to that silence.  Yet through all of it, the connections to those who make up that Family have meant as much to me as ever, if not more as we go through these times together. To our blogger contingent- Greg and Jason, Taryn and Ed, Jason and John, Susan and Andrew (I'd better stop before I name all twelve disciples;), I thank you whether you've made me smile every morning or just once or twice. To the fellow sufferers from East Meadow- another Susan, a returning Bill, and of course Dennis- I thank you for being there. And to those who maybe just posted a photo of a moment where you declared your love for this disease I cannot cure myself of- thank you for trying us.  We have cookies:)

Next year, the Mets open on the road, and the promise of a new season will not return to Flushing until April 13. We're hoping it will be a Harvey Day- something unseen in 2014 but full of a prospect of hope that was also rarely seen this year.  Yet we still laughed, and yelled, and tweeted, and threw out first pitches and called out "play ball!"- and when any one of us did it, we all did.

For we are Met fans. And we're stupid that way.
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And we all thought Canadians were so polite.

Rob Ford has turned out to be such a rude, obnoxious crackhead, not even his recent cancer diagnosis has gotten him any sympathy. Government officials in BC are a bunch of asshats, as several readers of this page have recently attested. Yet none of them have brought out the vitriol like the douchebag on a bus who's become known in the past few days as the TTC Leprechaun.



That's him, on an all-full #72 bus at the end of a workday earlier this week, when a fellow commuter asked him if he would mind moving his (appropriately named) Bag from the seat on his left so she could sit down at the end of a long day.

"No, my bag is there," he told her.

From there, it escalated into namecalling, F-bombing and some rather unpleasant Canadian Sign Language:



Security cams were unable to help with identification, but the Internet is mighty pissed at Hipster Dude. Already a fake #ttcLeprechaun Twitter feed has begun to try to shame him-

TTC

- and polite vigilantes are on the lookoot for his true identity. One of the reports above quoted a source claiming that he works at a downtown TO call centre and didn't show up for work yesterday; probably because he wouldn't have very happy to assist anybody:P

Seems simple enough to me to catch him: stake out the Air Canada Centre on a Leafs game night. Because anybody that douchey has to be a fan, if not an actual member of the team.
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We marked our 27th anniversary today, having dinner right here in our 20th year in this home. Among other things, we both had long days today (mine not nearly as productive as Eleanor's, given my having a meeting last-minute-canceled on me while she did an amazing job fixing a store computer), and it was a perfect early fall evening for burgers on the grill, jazz on the Bluetooth and memories in our hearts.

We celebrate the 27th as I near the end of the year following my 54th birthday. If you count the time we lived together before this day in 1987, that's more than half my life sharing a roof, a family and a future with my best friend ever.

We ended the evening watching the season premiere of Key & Peele- something she's watched more of in the past than I have, but which I found to be far more fun than their all-too-brief appearance in Fargo.

We also, almost, got each other the same anniversary card. Granted, we're both insufferable Wegmans honks, but they did have more selection than just the one;)

That's a lot of paragraphs beginning with "we," I know- but you can't commemorate "wedding" without starting there.

I love you, Eleanor:)


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And Bristol, Connecticut is best when ESPN leaves editorial control in the hands of its creative people. Such as this simply wonderful short-subject done in its 30 for 30 series.  This one's only half that, but it's more a story of the mind than it is about sports:



It's all the more touching on this end because it's about a player who became most famous for his days with the Mets. Even Eleanor remembers him, if only for his memorable name- Mackey Sasser. This team has always had great names on the roster- from Hobie and Choo Choo and Marvelous Marv at the beginning; to Butch Huskey, the Best Baseball Name Ever in the 90s; and in their in-between glory years, a crop of characters including Doc, Straw, Mex, Mookie, The Kid behind the plate, and, yes, Kid's backup:

Mackeysasser.

That's how my friend Dennis's oldest child pronounced it as a toddler, and it translated to us and eventually to Emily as Mackey's skills began to crumble.

They called it a version of the golf malady known as "the yips," only in his case it became "the taps"- because Mackey would repeatedly tap his mitt while trying to get the ball back barely 60 feet from behind the plate back to the mound. He could still throw quickly and accurately twice that distance to throw runners out at second, but that was reflex action; throwing back to the pitcher was too routine, and he thought about it too much, and that's what did him in as a fielder.

The Mets tried to fix the condition, strictly as a matter of physical therapy and it never worked, but it took decades after his mid-90s retirement before sports psychologists finally succeeded in fixing the person. It's a remarkable study of how fragile the mind-body connection is, and how delicate a process it is to fix it when it breaks down.

Good job, ESPN.

----

Now hold the rest of the applause, for when the networks's suits rather than its talents are calling the shots, ESPN can be horridly, horridly bad in its judgment.

One of its on-air personalities, Bill Simmons, did an offsite podcast for a site called Grantland, on which he out-and-out called NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a liar for his handling of the Ray Rice suspension. I learned today that ESPN suspended Simmons from all of its platforms for three weeks for daring to criticize the spokesperson for one of its billion-dollar content providers. That's 50 percent longer than the wrist-slap of a punishment that Rice himself got before the dirty laundry from the elevator came out.

The network has kowtowed to the Shield before, particularly in its coverage of concussion-symptom issues being faced by current and retired players. ESPN had co-produced a PBS documentary on the subject, but it mysteriously wiped its logo and credits from the finished product when it ran on Frontline last year. Once again, the wall between the "editorial side" and the "business side" has become as thin and stinky as a piece of toilet paper.

I wonder what one of the 30-for-30 directors would do if Bristol tried to censor their content in this same way. One thing I'm almost certain of: I'd never see the finished product on Cable Channel 26.
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Honest, I could make a full-time blog out of these stories- and you'd run away in terror, so I won't. Today, though, you get four, count'em FOUR, different tales of my brethren making all sorts of bad decisions:

* Still no acknowledgement in the Buffalo News coverage about the reasons behind my law school dean's sudden resignation amid charges of perjury.  It's been two days since the alt-weekly broke the story, years since the student newspaper has been covering it.  I can't wait for the next fundraising call from the Law School Development Office; maybe I'll make a big pledge and then tell them later I was lying about it.

* The bigger legal story of the week, though, is that once again, Dear Leader Party Chairmen got together over the weekend and essentially rigged the ballot for the five judges who will be added to our region's trial-level bench come January.  Republican and Democratic delegates have anointed four of a crop of potential nominees through "cross-endorsement," virtually ensuring their election.  The fifth seat will be contested by one from each party, the Republican being a 14-year incumbent with an "outstanding" rating from the local bar association. I have no idea how they're going to spin his exclusion from the back-room deal, and it makes me wish more than ever that both I and my colleagues had taken the idea of challenging this nonsense more seriously back in the spring.

* On the non-judicial side of the local Bar, we have our local hero from 2010, who rode to Tea Party prominence in challenging Andrew Cuomo for governor (and lost in a landslide), and who has since become a member of the Buffalo School Board in addition to his previous private roles as a lawyer, real estate developer and genuine meshugenah. Crazy Carl was at it again last night, where he introduced one of this area's most prominent political pundits as a "worm" (from the microphone) and as an "asshole" (off-mike, but to the man's face).  Stay classy, Horse Boy.

* But we have to leave our friendly confines for perhaps the weirdest legal tale of the week with perhaps the biggest gaffe. A county legislator from my old home town dropped out of the race for New York State Senate after it was revealed that he'd been sued by his former law firm for phony-billing a client of theirs for millions of dollars and bilking them for bonuses he wasn't really entitled to. (He remains in his county legislature seat, which seems right, since it may be a job qualification in Nausea County to be indicted at least once in order to hold public office.) The piece about the kerfuffle in Newsday was paywalled, but they did allow access to a Scribd copy of the state-court summons and complaint against him- and it's a scream. Not only because the allegations and the legal writing about are so completely over-the-top, but because the plaintiff law firm makes a Really Big Deal in the complaint about not naming the allegedly defrauded client- "At the request of the Client, it shall currently remain nameless. Denenberg is well aware of the identity of the Client, having been so informed in discussions with DHC"- and it then attaches an exhibit that NAMES THE CLIENT.

This is one of those things that happens to us more often than you'd think- the more you call attention to your attempt to conceal details, the more likely it is that you'll screw it up. Years ago, one of the judges near here published a decision involving attorneys fees- and he went out of his way to redact the name of the debtor from the dozens of  times he mentioned it in the decision. Yet at or near the beginning of the decision, he generically identified the debtor as being "a publicly owned hospital in X County, New York." There is only one publicly owned hospital in X County, New York, so that went well.

That's enough for one day, I guess- time to upload this, if I can only remember my LJ password....

[Spoiler (click to open)] MADE YA LOOK!
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Here we go again. Another professional athlete is charged with domestic violence against family members and both team and league officials give it a pass in the name of "due process."  Only this time, the game is soccer and the athlete is white and female- and there's little outcry about Hope Solo continuing to play while the charges of violence are investigated.

Well, except for this:

Why Hope Solo Should Be Suspended From Team USA -- Immediately

Hope Solo should not be playing right now for the U.S. Women's National soccer team.

Earlier this year, the star keeper was arrested for allegedly attacking her sister and 17-year-old nephew. The police report said Solo was "intoxicated and upset," and she allegedly called her nephew "too fat" to be an athlete. Also according to the report, the boy had blood on his shirt, and his mother (Solo's sister) was visibly injured.

After a flurry of media reports directly after the June altercation -- Solo has a court date set for November -- very little has been said or written in the media about the pending case. After a brief hiatus, Solo quietly went back to playing with her club team, the Seattle Reign, as well as with the national team, which is in the final stages of qualifying for the 2015 Women's World Cup.


To me, that last bit sounds awfully like what we condemned the Minnesota Vikings for, when they tried to reactivate Adrian Peterson after a 30-7 drubbing by New England. "Well, we deplore domestic violence, but we need the wins more!" Only the ensuing outcry led to him going on double-secret-probation status (during which he's still being paid) and the same treatment going to at least one other NFLer with pending charges.

Why is soccer different? The quote from the national team's governing body puts it in virtualy the same terms:

Neil Buethe, director of communications for U.S. Soccer, offered this explanation to USA Today for why Solo is still on the field: "We are aware that Hope is handling a personal situation at this moment. At the same time, she has an opportunity to set a significant record that speaks to her hard work and dedication over the years with the National Team. While considering all factors involved, we believe that we should recognize that in the proper way." (Solo recently broke the women's national team record for shutouts.)

So is Buethe saying that if Solo weren't close to breaking a record, perhaps she wouldn't be playing? Is he insinuating that Solo notching that last shutout is more important than sending a message to young soccer fans that actions have consequences, even if you're this close to setting a record? Finally, the euphemism of "personal situation" downplays the reality of what is happening, which is that Solo is facing charges of domestic violence against two family members, including a minor.

Anger knows no gender, nor does domestic violence.

U.S. Soccer needs to suspend Solo, and it needs to do so immediately.


Personally, I Hope they do.
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Earlier today, I saw a completely innoucuous little article in this town's daily newspaper of record that got a hmmm out of me: the dean of my law school was resigning effective December 19, but would remain on the faculty.

But that hmmm turned into an ohhhh myyyy just now- when, while looking for a book review on the local alt-weekly's website, I found this much more detailed version of the resignation story, which suggests that the dean may have committed perjury in a pending case in federal court (links in the excerpt below are Artvoice's):

The UB News Center reports today that Makau Mutua will be stepping down as Dean of UB’s Law School effective December 19. He’ll then return to the law school faculty as SUNY Distinguished Professor and Floyd H. and Hilda L. Hurst Faculty Scholar.

From the press release:

UB President Satish K. Tripathi said that through Mutua’s leadership the UB Law School is “well positioned to achieve even greater prominence in legal education and scholarship.”

“I want to express my heartfelt thanks and deepest appreciation to Makau for his leadership and service to our university during his tenure as dean,” Tripathi said.

Mutua was educated at the University of Nairobi, the University of Dar-es-Salaam and Harvard Law School. But the statement from UB doesn’t mention anything that was reported last month in The Star newspaper based in Nairobi, Kenya.

From The Star:
A Kenyan law professor based in US has been accused of committing perjury in an American court, his co-accused now wants the cases separated.

Makau Mutua, a human and civil rights activist, has been accused of lying in court.

He is sued for allegedly irregularly laying off Jeffrey Malkan, a lecturer at Buffalo Law School where Mutua is a Dean.

Evidence against Mutua is said to include sworn deposition testimony and sworn affidavits from seven tenured faculty members.

How embarrassing to all us local media outlets that this hometown story was broken over a month ago by a paper in Nairobi.

I then went back and read the earlier story from the News, and noticed several things I'd missed earlier. One, no mention of the "why" of the resignation- not even the obligatory "spend more time with his family" dodge. Two, the article did not carry a by-line- highly unusual for a piece about a leading executive officer at one of the region's largest employers. And, no mention at all of this case (which has been pending since 2012) or of the involvement in it of another famed member of the Law School faculty, Professor Charles Ewing.

I've never met, or had any dealing with, Dean Matua- he was after my time. But Chuck Ewing arrived in my final year and has become a recognized expert nationwide on juvenile crime- often testifying, or at least opining in public, on the social and other factors that go into why kids sometimes do bad things that get the attention of the courts.

I've read the memorandum in support of the Ewing motion mentioned in the Nairobi newspaper piece (some days it's good to be the lawyer with an electronic-filing account). It tells an all-too-familiar tale of modern academia, where the new-guy faculty goes up against the entrenched old guard who keep him out of their Tenure Club. I read the names of the promotion committee which New Guy had to pass in order to get in: at least eight of the eighteen were on faculty when I was there more than 30 years ago, and many of them are pushing closer to 40 years of tenure. (At least one of those eight, I've seen several times off-campus in the ensuing decades, who married one of the students in the class behind me and their kid went to our local high school with Emily.)

Did they promote him? And if so, who voted to do so? Those are among the contentions in the civil case later brought by New Guy, and the accusation is that the dean lied on the record of New Guy's employee-relations hearing following his decision not to renew his contract- and that he did it again in the course of the civil case brought thereafter.

This is about as powerful as shit gets between a bunch of academics, and both the university and the region's newspaper of record elected not to mention a word of it in announcing the resignation. There are, at present, no criminal charges in federal court on account of any of it, and the accusation is just that and no more at this point- but to sweep it under the rug is an outright embarrassment to the standards of truth that both a university and a newspaper should be upholding.

And the final irony? The governor of Our Fair State named the UB SUNY Buffalo Law School* dean to his crimefighting political corruption committee last year- which the Guv then promptly and unilaterally dissolved once it started investigating political corruption among some of Cuomo's own political cronies. A United States Attorney from downstate is now investigating whether anyone or everyone in the Executive Mansion can be charged with federal crimes over THAT.

----

* Although the Buffalo News article, such as it was, refers to the "University at Buffalo Law School," the school itself has rebranded itself in most of its own pitches to alumni as "SUNY Buffalo School of Law," to emphasize its statewide standing as the state university's only law school. I've written before, to them and in here, about my displeasure with the school acting ashamed of its 125-year roots in Western New York, and noting that my other state-supported alma mater, Cornell University, has somehow resisted the need to rechristen itself "SUNY Ithaca."

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Woke up for slopping the hogs around 5, deleted all the music on my phone.  Still not enough room for the iOS 7 install.

Deleted a bunch of pictures that had already been Clouded. That was enough. Started the download and went back to sleep.

Woke again to the new white-background iWorld. Went to sync to get everything back. Found they've moved podcasts to a separate app. Downloaded it.

Started the sync. With the extra app and the extra 7 bits, I needed to purge some tunes. Did.

Then noticed a butt-ton of old podcasts, not specified for sync, had downloaded themselves and were clogging the series of tubes.  Apparently, the Podcasts app is factory-set to "download every available podcast on your list whether you want it to or not."

Fixed that. Found sudden amounts of room.

Got all wanted music on, plus OneDrive, which will, hopefully, make this easier next time.

Which, apparently, will be in like a week, because now that I've finally conquered iOS 7, they've gone and come out with iOS 8.

Just iShoot me now.
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The Geeks of the world have their new toy now; the iPhone 6 has been out for more than a day. There's no real breakthrough like with previous upgrades, such as Siri or the first-ever bigger screen that came with the 5. Still, it's the Next Big Thing, and everyone and his bro wanted to be in line for one.

Rather, everyone and his indentured servant. If you've got an iPhone 6 minutes to spare, watch this mini-documentary of how the black market took over the launch date in New York City in Friday's wee hours:



This may not be quite as bad as the guy in LA who rounded up homeless people to stake his claim to iPhone 5s last time, paying them each only 20 bucks and plying them with cigarettes for their trouble (and then abandoning them 10 miles from their shelter when the Geniuses figured out what was going on and refused to sell to them); the folks in yesterday's video did get their phones (every one buying the two-phone maximum, every one paying in cash), and they look to be making meaningful money for their trouble. But there's still something wrong with a market that is so dependent on scarcity and regional restrictions to make these late-night purchases worth so much more overseas than they are where they're intended to be sold.

It wasn't my first second-hand experience with this today. During a midday workout, my trainer's husband came into the gym, as he usually does. This time, he came with a story about his recent purchase of a Mercedes. It was used, and he bought it from a business named (not exactly, but close) "Spectacular Motorcars." Last week, Kirk needed some warranty work done on it, and Mr. Spectacular sent it to the dealer for him. But not to the authorized Mercedes dealership two miles from the gym (where Iggy also goes for his Smartening-ups), but to one in Erie, Pennsylvania, a good 90 miles away.

Hmmmm, I speculated. Sounds like Mr. S. hasn't been paying his bills with Herr Benz on Main Street. To which Kirk replied, Worse.

Apparently, Spectacular ordered and paid for a brand-new Benz from the local dealership, only to turn around and sell it, brand-new, to a buyer in Dubai for quite a few more euros. Neither the manufacturer nor the government is keen on this sort of thing, and both Mr. S and the local dealership got fined $10,000 apiece for this transaction, which the dealer didn't even know about. So while Kirk is welcome to bring his car in there directly, Mr. S and his business are personas N.G. there for as long as he owns it.

It did remind me of one of the truisms gained from almost 30 years of collections litigation, more than a few against car dealers: the more prestigious a name is put on a car business, the likelier it is that they're going to turn out to be a bunch of sleazeballs. High End Automotive is painting a fake picture that Joe's Car Lot doesn't have to.

----

Back to the other kind of phone-y-ness:

There is no iPhone 6 in my future, even if I had the time to wait through the line. I'm trying to avoid upgrading altogether, but I'm still finding my old 4 to be in need of some help. Just now, I thought I'd found some, from the unlikeliest of places:

Microsoft.

This laptop has This Thing called OneDrive. It's Redmond's version of the Cloud, and a few programs on Tobor seem to want to default-store stuff up there. So Microsoft, feeling left out of all the hubbub, took the opportunity to announce that they would make 30 gigs of OneDrive space available to all users, including those using the OneDrive app on the iPhone, to help with the installation of the new phone's large and complicated software needs.

To which I responded, YAY! I can download this app and use the OneDrive space to store enough stuff to get my long-overdue IOS 7 upgrade onto the phone!

Except I can't: you need IOS 7 to be ON the damn phone in order to install the OneDrive app:P

So I'm going for broke here, charging the phone in preparation to delete my entire music collection, which should leave just enough room for the upgrade to install. From there, hopefully, I can restore it all next time it syncs with my iTunes once there's room again.

Or maybe I'll just mail the thing to Dubai and see if something good will sheik out.
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The Scots decided to stay in the Union, by a much wider margin than anyone had anticipated. The leader of the independence movement has fallen on his haggis bowl and resigned, and we will now see whether Westminster follows through with its promises of more autonomy Oop North- and whether they will also lead to changes to the west and across the Irish Sea.

Meanwhile, back here, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell finally came out of his hiding place and saw the shadow of his shame. He took the usual corporate approach to problems- forming a committee, which, he hopes, will have new and better policies in place by the beginning of February. (He must've been upset during that part of the announcement because he flubbed the words "Super Bowl," which is the single most sacred cow in the Pigskin Pantheon.)

Maybe if the Conduct Committee can't solve this problem, the Competition Committee can- just cut the size of the onfield roster to 10 players per side and get rid of the running back position. For whatever reason, it's the source of all of these crazed individuals going through the legal wringer right now (not to mention our own beloved Orenthal James Simpson, back when he was trim enough to run through an o-line or an airport).

I'm done with deciding things for the week- Day Five of court went okay, and I have only brief appearances on two days next week, so I'm hoping to catch up with lots of things.
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Began my day (more or less) with the sight of this guy at my early-morning gas-up:

Cut for the squeamishCollapse )

Ol' Rizzo there was positively stylin' on the pavement, rolling round in the early-morning sunshine. I wondered if it was some kind of weird Genesee County variant on Groundhog Day, where if this varmint sees his shadow, we get six more weeks of summer.  (Not bloody likely; it looked downright wintry driving home late this afternoon.)

Then, I ended my day (more or less) with the same species: Eleanor moved up the Farrelly Brothers' Three Stooges reimagining to the top of our Netflix queue, so we got to see Curly's pal, Nippy the Rat, working his way among the totally ridiculous plots. Still, I'll be nyuk-nyuking for a week now.

In between? Knocked off Day Four of my 5-for-5 court stretch, finished my 39th read of 2014, and finally got a copy of Cameron's speeding ticket which may, or may not, be scheduled for hearing on the afternoon of October 15th.  I also set  rather memorable date for something else for week after next, which I'll report on once I get to it.

And with that, goodnight, knuckleheads:P
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The Vote in Scotland is tomorrow, and the No's seem to be pulling ahead- thanks, in large part, to the fearmongering of recent weeks coming from many sources that come up online.  Most of the fearmongeriest of them seem to be coming from the Telegraph, which doesn't surprise me. When I lived there for a summer in Maggie's days, people called it the Torygraph.

In fact, I remember being taught an entire catalog of how to understand the slants coming through the British press at the time.  This is a quote of it from a 1987 episode of Yes, Prime Minister, but I'd heard the bit long before that:

Humphrey: "The only way to understand the Press is to remember that they pander to their readers' prejudices."

Hacker: Don't tell me about the press, I know exactly who reads the papers: The Daily Mirror is read by people who think they run the country; The Guardian is read by people who think they ought to run the country; The Times is read by people who actually do run the country; the Daily Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country; the Financial Times is read by people who own the country; The Morning Star is read by people who think the country ought to be run by another country; and The Daily Telegraph is read by people who think it is.
Sir Humphrey: Prime Minister, what about the people who read The Sun?
Bernard: Sun readers don't care who runs the country, as long as she's got big tits.

(Not responsible for the linkage; Wikipedia put those in).

Now, some of these may have changed over time; Rupert Murdoch had only recently purchased The Times when I was over there, so it may have since gone more off the right deep end (and/or toward more tits).  What say you there? Are these publications covering the vote in the ways these old-line stereotypes would predict?  And what effect is it having?

Enquiring minds and all that....

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The other day, I used this space to rip Amazon a new one. I guess the next place to go in the Pantheon of Puter, alphabetically anyway, is Apple.

There's a new iPhone 6 on the way. Yay! It'd be nice, though, if they did a better job supporting my poor old 4. It's had a software update stuck in it for months, if not years, which I can never install. Every time I try, I get this:

38GB

In turn, "Usage Settings" tells me I'm down under a gig on the phone itself, but that I have over 4 gig available on the cloud- but I can't move music to the cloud without buying an extra storage plan.  So I'm stuck.

I did move a lot of music to somebody else's cloud- yes, Amazon's. I don't like their physical shipping and receiving department, but every book and record I order from them shows up instantly on my tablet or phone, respectively.  So I do have room to add new music and podcasts to the phone that I hadn't had recently- except Apple is getting slow in delivering them.  Over the weekend, This American Life posted a link to an interesting story about local politics in a New York school district: I thought it was about a local imbroglio, but it's actually about one closer to New York City. Still, I wanted to hear it. Wasn't available Sunday; not available Monday (when the Store says it's uploaded), and, at least as far as my iTunes is concerned, not available now.  I was able to get it from the TAL site, but it had to be manually playlisted and downloaded into the phone, and it doesn't have the +15, -15 and pausing functions you get when iTunes downloads it as a podcast. But I was driving and got to hear it all in a shot, so no harm no foul- except for the inconvenience of it all.

Music, you say? I'd read about the free download U2 began offering last week, and just for giggles I decided to try it.  A click on the Store button showed a banner advertising the "gift"- but clicking it said I'd already "purchased" it and the download link didn't work.  It wasn't in my library, on my phone or even on Eleanor's computer (we share a single iTunes account), and it took a side trip to CNET to figure out how to get the bloody thing.

I know, First World Problems. And that these are all free and I should be lucky to have them. (Some people, indeed, are bitching about Apple auto-downloading the U2 album to their devices without even being asked and they've now had to post instructions on how to get rid of it.)  Still, I'm finding the actual technology coming from Cupertino isn't quite up to the cachet they've got us all imagining about it.
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Day One of five straight in court this week. None of them are terribly long or involved, but logistics (not to mention suits and ties) get in the way of all-day productivity. Today's was the only one with only an afternoon commitment, so I got to spend much of the day hearing from people I hadn't heard from in weeks, months or even years.

First was one of my oldest friends in the world; she hasn't emailed us in awhile (she'd become quite good email-pals with Eleanor as well), and when I first heard her voice I was afraid it was sad news about one of her parents, who've got to be well into their 80s. But no; in fact, she just saw them yesterday, still in the house next door to the one I grew up in. (Her 50-something brothers both still live with Mom and Dad, which is not unusual in that overpriced real estate market.) Rather, she and her husband are retiring to Florida, and she had some questions about paperwork, some of which I did for her probably 20-plus years ago.

We talked all the way through a horrid traffic jam near Transit Road, and my next out-of-blue call was in a construction zone at the end of a detour around that one. This one was a one-time client who also had a Florida issue; I'd heard, and referred, a few months ago to someone recommended by a Florida-admitted colleague of mine, and the guy was complaining to me that the second-hand referral hadn't been returning their phone calls. So now I get to play traffic cop to get them back in touch.

Following the court appearance, a call from the Rochester office as I was heading home: Client of theirs sent me information about three weeks ago; I looked at it, asked if they wanted to do X or Y, and they chose X. I wrote it up that way, emailed it out, and never heard back. Now, they're getting nervous and want to do Y. Which is fine- the work itself is just as easy (if a little more expensive and public), and I've already done most of it now that I know that's what they want.

And just now, yet another call from someone I hadn't heard from in months. I'll leave out the details on that one, but it just came as a surprise after a day full of them.

Now to see who comments on this who I haven't had a peep from in ages.
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There was a thought-provoking piece in the Buffalo News today, titled "It's TMZ's World Now; ESPN just Lives In It." The author is the paper's longtime arts editor, who recently recalled being sent off in his cub-reporter days to cover Woodstock- in a coat and tie. Now, in the twilight of his career, he's both bemused and befuddled by the way a "little gossip site created by a lawyer" has become such a vital source of news- both reporting it and, in recent weeks, shaping it. He cites the downfall of Donald Sterling and the big reveal on Ray Rice's violence as the most recent examples of it, and goes back to TMZ's earlier production of Mel Gibson's racist rants as proof of the influence now weilded by this purveyor of the prurient.

Yet there's one aspect of the TMiZation of reporting that Jeff Simon doesn't mention: this site, like many, does what Old Media officially refuses to do in order to get the news: it pays for it.  Six figures, if necessary to get the story.  That is a complete 180 from the reporting ethics I was trained in. My New Testament was The Gospel According to Sunstyle, which was not just a technical manual but a source of many do's and dont's for the words being written in that style.  Older, and more readily referenced online these days, was the Washington Post's version, which set forth a Torah for turning facts into capital-N News: We pay our own way. We make every reasonable effort to be free of obligation to news sources and to special interests. We do not misrepresent our identities and we publicly correct our mistakes. It was obvious that we would not stoop to bidding for news items; nor would we cede a scintilla of editorial control to a source. Pre-review of unpublished articles was prohibited, and pre-approval of their content was unthinkable.

Now, TMZ says, think again. It's all about the page clicks, and everything is on the table, including the checkbook. The concept is neither new or exclusively digital- the National Inquirer and other tabloids have done pay-for-play for decades. But responsible media did its level best to avoid even citing such "rag" stories, much less participating in the practices that journalistic ethics have always deplored.

Yet today? Time, Inc. is about as Old Media as you can get without getting grey ink on your fingers, but around the time TMZ was paying for the Sterling tapes, Time's Sports Illustrated was "breaking" the story of LeBron James's return to Cleveland. "Breaking," in this case, meant "getting an exclusive right to the announcement from its subject, assigning a senior writer to be the King's scribe, and scooping the competition with an 'as-told-to' manifesto that James certainly saw pre-publication and almost certainly had creative control over."

Edward R. Murrow must be spinning in his grave over the likes of this.

Throw in the blurring of the lines which should tie, but separate, the creation of news from its reporting and its ultimate distribution- the three old-line networks now being owned by a movie studio, a real-estate and tobacco oligarchy, and a soon-to-be-my cable company- and there's no longer any potential for conflict of interest among these roles. It's already here- and TMZ merely points to the Mogul Emperor and tells him that, forget the clothes, YOU have no ethics on, either.

If that doesn't deserve a WARNING in the corner of the screen like any other nudity gets, I don't know what does.
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It can't be easy- battling with Big Five publishers, buying legacy daily newspapers, designing drones- so maybe that's why the main business of amazon.com has proven itself so crappy for me in recent months.  Both times, their model worked great- for them.  I found music I loved, bought it through the "auto-rip" feature so I would have the songs immediately, also paid for the physical CD, and then found enough other stuff to get my order up to the $35 minimum for free shipping.

Last time, it was three things: the one autoripped CD and two pre-orders. One, of Orphan Black season 2 (released in mid-July); the other, the hardcover of my friend Lindsay's second novel (released on July 31st).  The first two shipped together, and arrived just about on the official release date of the DVD set, but they didn't bother to bill my card for, or ship, Lindsay's book until two days after its release date, so I didn't get it until after I'd been to NYC and back when I might have had a chance to congratulate her and have it signed.

Must be the pre-order complication then, right?

Wrong.

----

Earlier this week, a friend tipped me off to an amazing collection released last month, covering songs by Laura Nyro; a good review of it can be found here:

nyro-10-web

I thought about a bop into the Bop Shop to see if they had it, but I succumbed to the great God Bezos again, who said it was auto-rippable. It took a download of its music-specific app to get it this time, but I got it; Eleanor loves it, describing the listening to a truly religious experience.  No problem with that, then, but the physical delivery? I again needed two things to get to $35, and quickly found them.  John Hiatt also has a new album out, which I've heard quite a bit of on out-of-town NPR,so I ordered the CD of that with the auto-rip, as well. For the rest of the $35 minimum? Oddly enough, Eleanor was looking for a pop-up version of Alice in Wonderland. She discovered it on a Youtube about a phenomenon called ASMR, which both she and Emily have experienced for most of their lives and now understand by name.  I found it quickly and added it to the order (not before joking that the hardcover was out of stock but I was able to find the Kindle;).

And there it remains.  I paid nothing for shipping and am apparently getting exactly what I paid for: Amazon is not even preparing the order for shipping until September 29th, and that's when the 5-7 days start to run.  This is not a pre-order problem; all these physical copies exist, and appear to be in stock.  Our anniversary is the 26th, and I'd hoped to have at least the book in hand by then.  Which I totally might; I understand the marketing trick of overestimating wait times and then beating them, but what reason could there be to not even begin processing an order for over two weeks after it's placed?

With the last order, I wondered if it was an offshoot of Amazon's current fighting with Big Five publishers over its monopoly. But Lindsay's novel is from a Penguin imprint, and the current delayed pop-up book is Simon & Schuster. Neither is part of the spat with Hachette that has caused major delays and denials in getting authors' works to the Amazon market.  Or maybe they're just trying to push me into Prime by reducing the value of the "free" shipping.

It's enough to make you want to ::gasp:: go to a bookstore or a record shop.  Hmmmmm.....
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Three appointments today.  One took too long for what it proved to be- yet another spin on the foreclosure-modification merry-go-round for clients of mine- but I did get to meet their new puppy first thing this morning, so that's good:)

The second was at my office- client was on time but also took way longer for what he needed to do than I'd planned.

The third, non-existent: client never showed up.  We'll have to work THAT into next week when I have court every single morning.

Somewhere before the end of the last wait, Emily called: Cameron just got his first speeding ticket. I told them how to handle it and will have to head out there some night in the next month to get it disposed of.

I'm almost afraid to turn to the news today- between more sports-world violence and the reappearance of Trayvon Martin's killer in headlines for road-raging a motorist, I don't think there's enough blood pressure medication in this house to help with it all.

But it was all overcome just now by the Mets finally defeating an opponent at home who had beaten them something like 25 straight times. They did it wearing their Los Mets uniforms; I don't know how they would dare to cambiar those now.

Tomorrow brings a weekend, and hopefully more winning and less annoying:)
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I got to our polling place around 11:30 in the morning; polls had been open since 6.  I was the 50th citizen to bother, and it didn't get much better after that.  Statewide, barely half a million Democrats cast a primary vote for governor. The ragtag campaign of two progressives, who the incumbent refused to mention by name until after the primary, still pulled in more than 30 percent of the vote.

Headlines yesterday were all about CUOMO SURVIVES CHALLENGE, but the real story that could've been a story went unreported. The statewide results show it nicely:

BoohooWu
Over 20,000 voters- a significant portion of the voting electorate- tried to put Tim Wu on the November Democratic ticket without casting votes for his higher-profile running mate. Almost 30,000 Cuomo voters refused to cast a ballot for his Blue Dog Democrat choice for the lieutenant spot. And only a final-week flood of big-donor money saved the bacon of the establishment "ticket." Until Tim Wu got a New York Times endorsement and a lot of positive press, there was virtually no coverage of the Lieutenant Governor race- but suddenly, every major Dem politician in the state started talking up Kathy. We got robocalls aplenty from the candidate herself and from current and former U.S. Senators- and the State Democratic committee (which, by law, is not supposed to be spending money on primaries) rolled out dozens of supportive mailers in the last week before the vote to maintain the status Cuomo.

Democrats also succeeded in knocking a brave Republican off the ballot. Mark Grisanti, who cast the deciding State Senate vote allowing gay marriage in this state, was ambushed by a final-week blast of ads and flyers, not from Teabaggers, but from the state teachers' union, portraying him as a RINO and encouraging them to vote for his even Teabaggier Republican opponent. They succeeded in this effort, to make it easier for the Democratic challenger in that district to win in November. It's a sleazy strategy, and I hope it fails; there's talk that Grisanti may finagle his way onto the Democratic line for the general election, and I'd hate to be a teacher going to him to beg for money in future budget negotiations after the way they shat on him.

Other than those, not much happened in primaries around here. Massachusetts is still trying to go back to its Kennedy-era tradition of having three senators (as defeated Republican Scott Brown won a primary to challenge an incumbent New Hampshire Democrat for a seat there). But little of it got any notice, with the sale of the Bills and the whole Ray Rice clusterfudge dominating the headlines the past few days.

Democracy. It's what first-responders died for on this day- and less than two percent of New Yorkers participated in two days ago.

We need to do better if we want to get better.
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Sad. Surprised. Amused. Angry. Pleased. Relieved.

Throw in "tired" as a constant for most of the day and you get a full-on range of emotions over 12 hours from out the door to back in it. Going in order:

* I had to be in Bankruptcy Court in Rochester by 9, with the client told to be there by 8:30. I made it a few minutes late for being 30 minutes early, but I expected to be delayed a bit, since I heard news and saw signs on the way in about a massive downtown funeral for Daryl Pierson, a 32-year old RPD officer killed in the line of duty a week ago; his alleged shooter was also shot and is facing mutiple felony counts.

State troopers and uniformed officers from nearby towns were directing traffic and doing crowd control. By the time I got out of my hearing and went to file things in other courts, I came upon the relatively short but very dignified funeral procession- a Celtic band, a handful of crepe-hanging RPD squad cars, and Pierson's hearse.   The state court building was virtually empty- all the deputies and city judges were attending the funeral. I came out to this sight:

IMG_1715

He left a widow (who, I later heard, gave an amazing eulogy) and two very young children. He died tragically and was remembered respectfully, as it should always be.  And that more than covers the sad.

* Not long after that, before heading to my Rochester office, I got word from someone working in the office here: someone on the staff had finally been fired after years of complaints about attitude and mistreatment of everyone from attorneys to visitors.  I have no role in hiring or firing in either of the places I work, and much prefer it that way, but I genuinely wondered how this particular axe had taken this long to fall. So color me surprised.

* The amusement came from the office here. Rochester once again proving its small townie-ness, I saw a file on somebody's pile with a name I recognized, and not for anything good. It was someone who'd been in a nasty piece of business I finished up a few years ago and who, unknown to me, had been taken on as a client. But not as a permanent one- rather it looks like I will be getting to sue the jamoche and, if so, I will enjoy every minute of it.

* That left the final three hours of the workday to make two workstops- one near that office, the other a good 20 miles past Emily's new home way into her new county. The Mad came from the news, developing during that drive, that NFL officials had almost certainly had access to the inside-the-elevator video of Ray Rice and his then-fiance. Such evidence calls into question its commissioner's denials about him, or anyone in his office, having seen the tape before TMZ leaked it on Monday. There are increasing calls for the league owners to fire him, whether the cause is lying or incompetence in the investigation.  I joined those calls when I heard a scary stat toward the end of my drive: during the current commish's tenure, going back to 2006, there have been 56 documented cases of NFL players being arrested on domestic violence charges. The total number of game suspensions served by all of them (not counting Rice's two-game wrist-slap? Thirteen.  That, alone, is enough evidence for me to convict.

* I needed some brightening at the end of the day, and got it driving back through Palmyra to get home. Emily had gotten home, and I spent a little time with her and the kitties, who have come out of their hidey-holes and seem to be enjoying their new digs, as well as each others' company, way more than I remember in the last place. They still have a bit of unpacking to do, but the apartment looks much more like a real home than the last one ever did, and it was good to see her in what may be her element for quite some time.

* And, despite all that, I still got in the door just under 12 hours after leaving, relieved to have beaten a nasty projected passing storm, and happy to be here with my beloved, our furry people, and back in what I know is my element:)
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