Saturday, January 29, 2011

Encouraging Claw-Back, but It Falls Somewhat Short

The WSJ reported this morning that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac received $20.9 billion over three years from US banks that they forced to buy back shoddy mortgages. The "largest target" for the recovery was Bank of America, which paid $3.1 billion to Fannie. Of those repurchases, $2.1 billion were loans sold by Countrywide Financial Corp., which BofA acquired in 2008.

Countrywide Financial is the bank that gave "Friends of Angelo", preferential mortgage loans to Senator "Chris" Dodd of Connecticut. Dodd was the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee until his "retirement" last year. I would describe his "retirement" (his term expired and he "chose" not to run again) as a dishonorable discharge. The man makes me embarrassed to have gray hair. Too bad we can't claw back the value of his salary and perks as the longest serving Senator in Connecticut history. (Nice job, Connecticut.)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Insanity Offense - How America's Failure to Treat the Seriously Mentally Ill Endangers its Citizens

I just purchased this book by E. Fuller Torrey. The preface is required reading, even if you don't pick up the book.

Don't Mess with a Mom

As the public mood changes [from pro-abortion to pro-life], some existing laws are now being enforced, thanks to people with determination. Eileen Smith is one of them: After her 22-year-old daughter Laura died in 2007 on the operating table of Rapin Osathanondh, an abortionist who was a research associate at the Harvard School of Public Health, Smith's lawyer told her that calls to the district attorney and medical examiner were probably futile. But the mother—who was living at her sister's house and falling asleep at her computer each night in her quest for justice—persisted.

Prosecutors eventually charged Osathanondh with manslaughter, alleging that he failed to monitor her while she was under anesthesia, delayed calling emergency services when her heart stopped, and later lied to try to cover up his actions. The state Board of Registration found that Osathanondh did not have any means of monitoring the heart of Smith, who was 13 weeks pregnant, and did not have oxygen or a functioning blood pressure cuff in the room. The Board also alleged that he "failed to adhere to basic cardiac life support protocol" and did not call an ambulance in a timely manner.

Laura Smith's father, Tom Smith, described how he and his wife adopted Laura after she was left in an orphanage in her native Honduras and later abused by an American couple. He said she sang in a choral group and was in demand to sing the national anthem at school ball games.

On Sept. 13, 2010, just as his trial was about to begin, and facing a potential prison term of 20 years, Osathanondh pleaded guilty to manslaughter. He received a sentence of six months in prison and a ban on ever again working as a doctor or teaching medicine. The plea bargain required him to pay the Smiths $1 million out of his own pocket along with the $1 million the insurance company paid out.

Eileen Smith had an opportunity in court to give a victim's impact statement. She turned to Osathanondh and said that she prayed he would turn to God's mercy so that he didn't have to fall on God's justice. Smith has become a national speaker on pro-life issues: Mothers who turned against abortion after hearing Laura's story sometimes send her pictures of their babies, which leads Smith to conclude that Laura "didn't die in vain. God is using her death to save babies, and that's a comfort to me, that justice continues to be done."

-from "Red Zone Defense," an excellent report on the pro-life situation in our country (and it's not all bad) in the January 29, 2011 issue of World Magazine.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"Kill off the bottom 100 law schools."

Prof. Bainbridge here.

I doubt it will happen. Law schools make too much money for the universities that create them.

Juan in Court

Juan commenced an important case on Monday, and here he is with members of his client's family during a recess. It is a photo on the AP wire, with the following caption:

Juan Antunez, left, attorney for Blanca Rodriguez de Perez, wife of former Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez, talks to Carolina Perez, second from left, her sister Martha Perez Rodriguez, second from right, and Maria Andreina de Gonzalez, right, daughters and granddaughter respectively of ex-Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez, during a recess in court in Miami, Tuesday Jan. 25, 2011, as the hearing continues over the final resting place of former Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez. Perez died Dec. 25 in Miami at age 88. He was president from 1974-79 and 1989-93.

More on the case, as of end of day, here.

Enthusiasm Compromised

Art Kehoe, a member of the UM Sports Hall of Fame and the only man to earn all five UM national championship rings as a coach, is back after a five-year absence. Kehoe accepted a job as the Hurricanes offensive line coach Sunday night, then packed his bags and drove all night from his home in Taylor, Miss., arriving in Miami on Monday evening. He’ll soon be on the road again recruiting.

But what about this from the same article in this morning's Herald?:

Kehoe has resided in Taylor, Miss., with his fiancĂ©e, Diona Williams, their 6-year-old son Jake, and Kehoe’s stepdaughter, Madison, 11.

The man is 53 years old. Good grief.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Good for You, Perdue!

After my walk this morning, I brought in the typically thick Sunday Miami Herald wrapped in a bag with a Perdue Chicken ad blazed across it. Here is what the ad said:

Perdue - the First Chicken Company with USDA Process Verified Programs

All Vegetarian Diet

No Animal By-Products

Raised Cage Free

Tenderness Guaranteed

Products participating in the USDA Process Verified Program contain the USDA PVP seal on individual packaging.

No Hormones or Steroids Added

The last statement about hormones or steroids has a footnote: "Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones or steroids in poultry" - a good reason to stay away from other meat I would think, assuming that the chicken farmer complies with the regs. The point is that Perdue participates in a program that is supposed to verify compliance.

Here isthe USDA webpage that describes its verification program. If you go to the pdf link on that page, you will find a list of farms in compliance, and Perdue farms are on the list.

Inside the Herald, there is a coupon for 75 cents off a package of "Perdue USDA Process Verified Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast." More from the Perdue website here.

Here's a question: Does all Perdue chicken comply or just Perdue chicken with the seal on the package? (I sent an email to the company this morning, asking that question.)

UPDATE: I heard back from the company. The answer I received was not exactly to the point. It said that Perdue products with the "verified process" label had the characteristics noted above. It did not say whether all Perdue products had those characteristics. I infer that not all do, therefore. So look for the label, if you are into this.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Education Debt as Slavery (or as Risk?)

This link to a graphic presentation about the government's student loan program is simply shocking. Keep reading all the way down to the end for suggestions about how to avoid such slavery.

Glenn Reynolds pointed to this webpage. Many thanks to him. (He's amazing.)

As Mary was graduating from college, we discussed her going to law school, but the only ones that made educational sense to us at that time, were the top ones, such as the one at UChi. (We might have been wrong about the need to attend an elite school, but that has been our thinking - put our children among the brainiest kids we can find, and maybe some of that will rub off on them.) Had she gone to Chicago, the cost would have exceeded $150,000.

Upon graduation, could she have chosen a smaller, more humane law practice situation? Or, absent help from us, would a large education debt have forced her to go into a large firm. Such firms often treat their young lawyers as so much cannon fodder. (We presume she could get a job at a high paying, big firm, having graduated from an elite school.)

But let me also add that if one is able to finance his education and then move into a career suited for that person, a career by which the person can pay off the debt within a reasonable period, and if the long-term economic return more than compensates for the cost (and risk) of the debt, then education debt is not necessarily a bad thing. The risk is that the longer-term economic return will not be there, as appears to be the case with a legal education these days. Risk, of course, is not bad. It simply needs to be reasonable. One should take it on with eyes wide open.

A South Florida Chapter of the Jane Austin Society of North America in the Making

Another reason English majors should (eventually) settle here.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Bob Haworth's Daughter, Amanda, Killed in the Line of Duty

Amanda was one of two Miami-Dade police detectives gunned-down yesterday by a violent career criminal wanted for murder.

Her dad, Bob Haworth, was Walter's little-league baseball coach [and Mary's too, see her comment] and a super guy [see Carol's comment].

More on Amanda and her family here.

Carol pointed out to me that Herald Columnist James Burnett's comments are worth reading.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

No to "The Pacific." Yes to the pilot for the "Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency."

I was eager to see this Stephen Spielberg production, which promised an account of WWII campaigns in the Pacific in the tradition of his earlier "Band of Brothers." I saw four episodes and bailed. Simply too much soap opera and too many cliches. (Great production values, of course. But the medium here does not save the message.)

Not recommended.

On the other hand, we saw the pilot for the "Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency," and it was a delight. It came via Netflix. We will be watching the episodes and let you know if they live up to the pilot.

Angela's Organic Buying Club

Lindsay pointed me to this video about an organic food buying coop here in S. Florida. Her friend Angela, from Homestead, is one of the people in the newscast video. Pretty neat. Thanks, Lindsay!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Buy the Most Expensive House One Can Afford?

When we were shopping for our first house, the mantra among the older lawyers at my firm and among most other older adults was "buy the most house you can afford."

I have been going through my AIER Research Reports today, and I came across one published on March 15, 2010, entitled "Rethinking the Home as an Investment." The concluding paragraph reads as follows:

Everyone needs a place to live, and homeownership is preferable to renting if you will stay long enough. But on a purely financial basis, it pays to buy the least expensive property that serves your needs, and to invest the savings in stocks or other assets that are more liquid and offer a better track record.

Those in my generation and a little older, who thought that they would be able to store increasing value in a big house until retirement and then cash out with a sale of that big house and a move to a smaller residence, are confronting significant disappointment.

I think the problem is really a matter of diversification and timing, because I know older adults who were able to realize a substantial profit before the bubble broke. The problem arises when a disproportionate share of one's savings is in a particular class of asset and the time to cash out of that asset arrives in the midst of a downturn in values for that asset.

No times out for Dad

We hear a lot about moms having few times out, and it's true. But here's a blast for the dads. (Hooray!) But I doubt that any of us would sit for two weeks on a beach reading a book. A couple hours a day would be nice. Now and then.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bad Cow! Bad, Bad Cow!

Dairy had been a major trigger for my asthma all my life, and not one doctor (until Dr. McDougall) ever suggested the possibility that eliminating it could be a virtual cure for me. In fact, when I asked my doctor point blank if a vegan diet would help my asthma, he said, “No.” It’s a good thing I didn’t listen to him. Back when I was in college, when I was a lacto-ovo vegetarian, I ate a ton of cheese and drank a lot of milk. I realize now that I actually made myself sicker by replacing meat with dairy.

-from a testimonial by Cathy Stewart on Dr. McDougall's wesite.

Here's a video on Dr. McDougall's 10 day program. Here's a link to an earlier post about diary. That post is worth looking at, if only for the photo, if I do say so myself. (Which I do.)

Having suffered asthma into college and very severely until I was in the ninth grade, I wonder what difference it would have made in my life had my family avoided dairy. But, as they say, who knew?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Dick Winters, the "Band of Brothers" Leader Dies

Here's the NY Times report.

Passion 2011

One of the college students at our church attended this event in Atlanta last week. She was really charged up. I had never heard of it before. There is a similar event to be held in Ft. Worth in April.

I worked back to its parent organization, Choice Ministries, Inc., and found this:

Founded by Louie Giglio in 1985, Choice Ministries began as a campus-based student ministry at Baylor University in Waco, TX. After 10 years of ministry at Baylor, Louie and his wife, Shelley, moved to Atlanta where Passion Conferences was birthed under the banner of Choice Ministries, Inc.

With a desire to see spiritual awakening come to the college campuses of the nation and the world, Passion Conferences became a reality in 1997 as its first conference took place in Austin, TX where thousands of young people gathered.

Born out of Giglio’s desire to see the 13 million college students (over 16 million today) of the nation awaken to the reality of a glorious God, the vision took shape under the leadership of men like Giglio and the board of Choice Ministries, Inc. the non-profit umbrella for Passion Conferences. Like-minded campus ministers then met together in 1996 and paved the way for the first of six Passion gatherings (1997, 1998, 1999, 2005, 2006, 2007) that united over 71,000 college students. In addition to these events, millions have connected with Passion through one of several gatherings, such as the OneDay gatherings and the Passion Experience Tour featured by the New York Times, CNN, among others, or through Passion worship recordings and DVDs that have been released worldwide, selling well over one million copies.

The domino effect has spawned a movement that has circled the globe, most recently with the 17 city Passion World Tour where over 100,000 university-age young people gathered in worship and prayer for their generation.

Monday, January 10, 2011

BCS' Sell-out to Cable

The BCS championship game is tonight, but, like all of the major bowl games with one exception, it is on cable. I suppose this is the future - or at least the immediate future. That future will go on without Carol and me.

We are fighting back with Roku, by the way. I like its approach, because it is a libertarian alternative to the cable idea. The cable idea is that a viewer must subsidize the cable company's choice of viewing alternatives.

The Roku choices are slim presently, but there will be more. There is no cost to have choices on Roku, except the initial cost for the small unit that sits next to one's TV. Beyond that, there is only a cost if you make a choice, although even some choices are free right now.

And, as to college football, maybe we will simply go the Cane's games. What a concept.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Big Banks Marketing to Same-Sex Couples

In the Miami Herald today is this article about Northern Trust Company's "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) and Non-Traditional Family Practice." Northern Trust is "the" name in trust companies and trust departments in South Florida, as well as a giant in the trust industry nationwide. The article also notes that other financial institutions have similar marketing efforts underway.

Would it be politically incorrect to observe that one of the reasons that same-sex couples may have more money than the rest of us is that most of them DON'T HAVE KIDS! That issue has a number of profound implications beyond making same-sex couples interesting to trust companies.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

The Travis Family Connection

My great-grandmother, Mattie Travis, is in the photograph below with her husband, Asa C. Hemperley. She is of the same Travis family that gave to Texas its Alamo hero, William Barret Travis, and to the US a number of other warriors. They and other Travis family members (including yours truly - not a warrior) are mentioned in a well-written gyneology, The Travis (Travers) Family and its Allies: Darracott, Lewis, Livingston, Nicholson, McLaughlin, Pharr, Smith and Terrell. Including Royal Lines of Descent. (Savannah 1954).

The author was Major Gen. Robert J. Travis. (Be sure to go to the link, which is a webpage from the Emory University Libraries and contains a biography of General Travis, who was also a distinguished Savannah attorney.)

I remember a telephone conversation that my mother had with General Travis as he was writing the book. Sometime later, my parents purchased from him several copies of the book, and I have one of them.

Here is the entry for my mother and her line as of the mid-fifties (page 54):

Juliette Juanita Hemperley, b 17 Nov. 1920 m Mch 1944 [it was 1943, and the book I have has a penciled correction] Walter J. Stokes and had: 1. Paul Mason Stokes, b 17 July 1946; 2. Walter J. Stokes, Jr. b 8 Sept. 1948 d 21 Mch 1951; 3. Julia Juanita Stokes, b 10 [it was 11 - another error with a penciled correction] Dec. 1952.

Here is part of the entry on page 33 for the line of "Mark Travis, b 2 Feb 1783, d 4 Sept. 1836 m Jemima Stallworth and d. in Ala.:"

Mark Travis, s of Barrett and hw had: 1. Col. William Barrett Travis, the famous commander of the Alamo, b 1 Aug. 1809 about 4 miles from Red Bank Church, Edgefield Co., and fell in command of the Alamo, 6 Mch 1836, who left a record of undying fame, whose name is preserved and honored not only through Texas but gives a thrill to every American who reads the story of his life . . .

The Hemperleys: Four Generations of Distinguished Georgia Funeral Directors

Three of those generations had a president of the Georgia Funeral Directors Association. See the entry for 1941 (my maternal grandfather, Carlos M. Hemperley), 1967 (my uncle, that is, my mother's brother, Carlos M. Hemperley, Jr.), and 1994 (my cousin, Butch, Carlos M. Hemperley, III). But it was not my grandfather who founded the family funeral home, A.C. Hemperley & Sons. It was my great-grandfather, Asa Chester Hemperley. The photo is of "Papa Hemperley" and my great-grandmother, Mattie Travis.

The bio of Papa Hemperley at the link mentions that he worked for C.H. Mason Brothers Furniture Company before he went into the funeral business. (The furniture company made caskets, I was told.) The "Mason" of my middle name is in honor of the Mason brothers with whom Papa worked. It is also the middle name of my grandfather, uncle, and cousin, whom I identified above.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

No Rose Bowl for you TV Antenna Peons

Of the five bowl games on television today, a viewer who depended on traditional broadcast had only the Outback Bowl to watch and no other. (It was a pretty good game, as Florida beat Penn State.) The other games were on cable, the Capital One Bowl (Michigan State vs. Alabama), the Gator Bowl (Michigan vs. Mississippi State), the Rose Bowl (TCU vs. Wisconsin) and the Fiesta Bowl (Oklahoma vs. Connecticut). All five of the games were controlled by Disney, as ABC carried the Outback Bowl and the others were on one of the ESPN cable networks. The Mouse owns all those networks (or maybe he's a Rat after all.)

I suppose one could access the cable games via the internet. But the quality of the internet broadcasts that I have seen are not yet up to the viewing standards of those via broadcast or cable.

On the other hand, think of the time this circumstance released for so many people today!

UPDATE: No Orange Bowl game either.

The U's Football Season is Finally Behind Us. But Sunday's Coming!

What a sad game that was in El Paso yesterday. One can question why Harris started and why the offensive plays were otherwise so uninspired. But the assistant coach for offense is now gone, and today the 'Canes belong to the new head coach, Al Golden. So 'Canes fans have a hope and a future.

Golden attended the game yesterday, sitting up in one of the VIP boxes, however, and appropriately not on the field. He gave interviews at half-time to the pro-ND CBS announcers and was very diplomatic about the old UM program but still candid and intelligent about assessing where the 'Canes need to go. I think the U did a very smart thing hiring Al Golden.

Speaking of CBS - one could say that at least Brent Musberger didn't call the game. Lunquist and whatshisname weren't much better. It really fried Carol and me when Lunquist referred to the old ND-UM rivalry with the "Catholics vs. Convicts" libel. The phrase "stupid jerk" comes to mind.

But what else is new? All the best to the 'Canes in 2011 and God bless and keep safe Al Golden (a Red Bank Catholic High School grad) as he flies around the country for the next several weeks on his recruiting mission.