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William C. Altreuter
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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Beheadings, stonings, chopping off hands. Hideous misogyny.  Lavish financing of Sunni terrorists. Actively outlawing religions other than Islam. The world is full of horrible places, but Saudi Arabia has to be right at the top of the list, don't you think?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

New York's Legislature is pretty awful, and I don't know anyone outside of the political machine that would disagree. There are a lot of things that are bad about it, but one big thing is that the legislators are allowed to take outside employment. In fact, so are their staff members. This means that they can practice law, or sell insurance, or run other sorts of businesses, and in their "private" dealings they are allowed to do business with the state. Being an Assemblyman or a state Senator is thought to be part-time work, notwithstanding the six-figure salary. Being a staff member is likewise part-time, so you can be a state Senator, and have a staff member who draws a salary from the state, who is also employed by, e.g. your law firm, or insurance brokerage or what have you. As stupid and wrong as that seems, one universal rule still applies: Pigs get fat; hogs get slaughtered. I have no insight into whether Sheldon Silver is guilty as charged or not, but the mere fact that he has disclosed three  quarters of a million bucks a year in income from Weitz & Luxenberg is enough to make even the most cynical observer believe that there is more than merely smoke emanating from the Speaker's office.

UPDATE: Five Thirty Eight provides us with this handy table to help us get our heads around political corruption in the fifty laboratories of democracy. Here's the thing: apart from the difficulties associated with enacting legislation that inhibits legislators from doing what they want to do it shouldn't be so hard to craft decent ethics laws, and it certainly shouldn't be hard to enforce them. I'm all about the presumption of innocence, and I wouldn't want to suggest that Sheldon Silver be suspended from representing his constituents while this thing plays out, but it is not encouraging to hear my former classmate and present Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle on the radio first thing in the morning talking about how the Democratic caucus stands behind Speaker Silver. Wouldn't the right thing to do be to step aside from the Speaker's podium while the case was pending? Shouldn't Joe and his fellow caucus members have gently suggested this? I pick on a lot of places in this space, places that are racist or generally bigoted, places that elect horrible people to high office, that sort of thing, and then I look around and realize that my glass house is in need of some glazing. Criminal law is a pretty blunt tool for this sort of work-- what we should be doing is buttonholing our representatives and telling them that we're tired of this bullshit.


Friday, January 16, 2015

Kim Fowley dead. It seems to me that the current generation of rock and roll musicians have become so professionalized that you wonder whether they are getting enough joy out of what is a difficult and frequently under-remunerative career. I mean, would you want to party down with Arcade Fire? Or even play an Arcade Fire side at a party? Make no mistake about Fowley, his was a rock and roll life that embraced it all. Many thanks to Steve Van Zandt for giving Fowley a radio outlet on The Underground Garage: it was Fowley's final gift to us. Here the indispensable Aquarium Drunkard gives us two prime Fowley cuts

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Honorable Eugene Fahey has been named by the Governor to the Court of Appeals. Good pick-- Judge Fahey, who used to have a locker next to mine at the Y, is an intelligent cat who thinks seriously about the way that law operates.

The Court of Appeals, which is New York's highest court, was created in 1846, and over the years there have been several methods used to select its judges. Originally four were elected and four were selected from sitting Supreme Court justices. In 1870 the state constitution was amended and judges the court went to an elected judiciary, and in 1974 that rule was changed to the present system-- a bench of judges appointed by the governor and approved by the Senate. I could be wrong about this, but I think this appointment marks the first time since then that there will be two judges from Western New York on the court together.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

How is it even possible that Anita Ekberg could have been 83?

Monday, January 12, 2015

I hate PACER, the electronic filing and access system for the federal courts. The interface is horrible, but what really pisses me off is that it's expensive. 10¢ a page doesn't sound like a lot, but it adds up quick, and as far as I can tell there is no good reason for it to be anything other than free. It should be searchable, too.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Banned Words.

CURATE / CURATED


"It used to have a special significance reserved mainly for fine art and museums. Now everything is curated. Monthly food and clothing subscription boxes claim to be finely 'curated.' Instead of abusing curated, why don't they say what they really mean: 'We did an online search and posted the first 25 items we found' or the 'curated selection of items in your box this month are a mix of paid placements and products that have failed to sell elsewhere.'"


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