Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Divorce update

Rough day yesterday. Highlights, tactfully expressed:

  • Trial has been reset for early October, meaning this drags on for at least a couple more months unless we agree to a settlement.
  • The results of mediation made it clear that not in ten million years will we agree on the issues surrounding the children, and therefore I will take it for granted going forward that a trial is unavoidable.
  • Plus, since Dessie got fired and has no income, I now have to pay her lawyer as well as mine; and since that debt's already up to three grand, that was a dance-of-joy item and a half. Hey, buddy, great news: your wife has hired somebody to do everything in her power to see to it that your children are taken away from you -- and she's sending you the bill. Woo-hoo!

All of which is bad news.

On the other hand, once it became obvious that there is going to be a custody battle in court and that the court was going to appoint an amicus for the children anyway (that is, a lawyer who represents the children's interests, as opposed to the parents' respective lawyers who are obliged to represent the parents' respective interests), our two lawyers were able to agree on a particular lawyer to serve as the amicus. This lawyer is known to and respected by both my lawyer and Dessie's, and even more importantly our judge is known to have a high regard for this lawyer's opinion. So we'll be able to get that moving now, rather than waiting until October 6th only to have the judge say, "Well, we obviously need an amicus; so I'm going to appoint an amicus and then reset your trial for, say, January of 2014."

And since I've been trying to get Dessie to agree to the appointment of an amicus for some time now, the fact that we walked out of there yesterday with the amicus question settled certainly counts as good news.

Brutal day. I certainly do appreciate all the prayers. Please do keep 'em comin'. In particular, finances are going to be a major issue for me over the next few months with this increased burden of legal costs; so if you could for a while amend your personal Lord's Prayer to say, "...give us, especially Kenny, our daily bread..." I'd be very grateful.

[chuckling] Maybe I should start a Pierce Children's Legal Fund to cover the cost of the amicus, which is also going to come out of my pocket (it never ends, I'm tellin' ya)...I'll hold a bake sale or something. [shuddering at the thought of what the baked goods would taste like considering that I'd be one baking them]

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Another divorce update

Court hearing Monday, but both lawyers are asking for a continuance. We have a mediation session set up for the afternoon that I suspect will leave me a grand or so poorer; but if we manage to reach a final settlement it'll be cheap at the price.

The Onion's Man-On-The-Street Opinion of the Day Dept

Under the heading, "Talking Through Tragedy Not Necessarily Beneficial," the Onion asks, "A study conducted by the University of Buffalo found that people who discuss their feelings following a tragedy are no more likely to feel better later than those who don't. What do you think?"

The response of Tim Pew, Woodcarver:

"This is all the more reason not to listen when people start yammering about their problems."

My sentiments exactly.

This reminds me of the late Cathy Seipp's priceless takedown of the therapists who ran around pestering children after the 1994 California quake:
One disturbing thing I remember from the 1994 quake is the arrival of a swarm of dog puppets, introduced by wandering psychotherapists who invaded Red Cross shelters to counsel children about how scary the earthquake was, in case they hadn't quite realized. If eventually they — or you — tired of talking about how scary it was, well then, you were in earthquake denial, and everyone and his dog puppet would know it.

Cathy died of cancer not that long ago, but if ever there was a person who didn't whine about her problems, that would have been Cathy. I can't remember where I saw this, but one of friends reminisced about the time a bunch of Cathy's friends had a party to celebrate Cathy's cancer's having gone into temporary remission, and Cathy stood up and said, "I just want everybody to know that cancer hasn't made me a better person..."

Oh, sorry, back to the Onion (I'm not supposed to ambush you Gentle Readers with serious stuff inside "Dept" posts; my bad):

Under the heading, "Pope Decries Materialism," the Onion asks, "During a visit to Australia, Pope Benedict XVI spoke out against the "sense of despair" that accompanies material prosperity. What do you think?"

The response of Kevin Sidorov, Night Watchman:

"Then the pope must be the saddest person in the world."

Finally, under the heading, "McCain Addresses NAACP," the Onion asks, "Presumptive Republican presidential candidate John McCain spoke before the NAACP on Wednesday. What do you think?"

The response of Oren Sobotka, Police Officer:

"That's a good start. Now he should address all of the black people who aren't in the NAACP. Which is most black people."

Magnificently Witty Put-Down Line of the Day Dept

In response to the following indescribable performance (Edward Christie's attempt to describe it is better than I could do: "an amalgam of indiscrete, desecration, screech and warble"), Ed's co-blogger Stephen served up this priceless one-line review:

"If she hit a note, it ought to get up and punch her back."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Divorce update

No big shock, Dessie cancelled the proposed settlement discussion today. The court hearing is scheduled for Monday, but as far as I know there's agreement that we will request the judge to postpone the final hearing, and my lawyer has suggested that we all show up at court on Monday, request the continuance, and then sit down someplace at the courthouse and try to work out an agreement.

In the meantime I continue to search for a house, as my lease is up at the end of this month and I need to stop having my living room filled with children and air mattresses during periods when the kids are with me.

So you guys can keep praying on both those fronts.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Family blog or not...

...the following bumper sticker (which, in deference to Baptist readers, I am putting below the fold) captures my take on the upcoming election so perfectly I had to link to it (you can buy it here): ...continue reading...

HT: Vodkapundit

Thursday, July 17, 2008

So much for the light at the end of the tunnel

Well, some of us were cautiously optimistic about the settlement hearing on the 23rd; Kris, for example, observed, "Holy Moly, the light at the end of the tunnel may not be an oncoming train!"

Then today I got an e-mail from Dessie's lawyer, informing me and my lawyer that Dessie had gotten laid off. That means no job, no income, no health insurance...

[sigh] So I think we're still planning to meet on the 23rd but that sort of upsets the applecart a bit.

Pray for Dessie and the kids, if you guys don't mind...that house can't be a very happy place at the moment.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Divorce update

Settlement discussion tentatively scheduled for the 23rd, but not confirmed yet.

You guys can pray that an agreement is reached...[sigh] Been a long road.

Another round of Te Deum is called for

Michael Yon has been for years by far the most reliable source of information on the Iraq War and its progress -- a fierce critic of Bush in the early days (I believe it was from Yon that I first found out that Iraq had descended into civil war, long before the mainstream media clued into it), but also one of the first -- months ago -- to announce that the surge had turned the tide, something that the mainstream media seems to have realized last Tuesday morning, more or less. Yon, you see, is not on the side of the Democrats or the Republicans. He's on the side of the soldiers, and of America. In a world of CNN and Fox News he's one of the few news sources you can read and pretty much take at his word without correcting for unrestrained political bias.

So I'm on Yon's mailing list, and I just got an e-mail from him that began thusly:

We have won the war in Iraq. By "we" I mean the Coalition and the Iraqis.

So, you know what? That man has earned his credibility over and over. So I think that, having finally gotten rid of The Smartest Man in the World (I refer to Ronald Dumsfeld and to his own self-evaluation) and handed the war over to a guy who actually knew what the heck he was doing (Petraeus, obviously, whose worth Yon, once again, was touting long before I heard anybody else talking about him)...I think Bush's Iraq War is probably pretty much won.

Boy, I can't even imagine how furious the Democratic Congress must be -- eight years of doing their damndest to ensure America's defeat and we won anyway.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Jesse "Breshnev" Helms Dept

Chris Hitchens didn't like Jesse Helms much. Well, I didn't either (though I object to Hitchens's apparent opinion that being a redneck disqualifies one for influence on American foreign policy), but I doubt I detested him quite as much as Hitchens. All the same, the following story is so utterly delightful I don't dare check it against Scope for fear of finding it to have been untrue:

[Helms] once introduced Benazir Bhutto as the prime minister of India. All right, that could have happened to anybody. But what about the hearings on North Korea in which he made repeated references to "Kim Jong the Second"? In order to prevent any repetition of this idiotic gaffe, Helms' staff propped up a piece of card on which was clearly written the pronunciation "Kim Jong ILL." The senator from North Carolina duly made the adjustment, referring thenceforth to the North Korean despot as "Kim Jong the Third."

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Papa takes over publicity for the Troika...

...'cause they need work.

Kinya, by the way, has babysat three times now for Miss Ella (not to be confused with Miss Ellie; Miss Ella is an extremely sophisticated Russian brunette with a very cute little boy) -- and this afternoon Kinya landed a babysitting gig for tomorrow night with one of Miss Ella's Russian podrug (friends, feminine) who had gotten a glowing recommendation of Kinya from Miss Ella. But with Achmed having replaced Anya and Natasha with family members (understandable, and I'm not upset with him over it), I need to get those two back to work.

So the following flyer (with uncensored telephone numbers, of course) is now going up on a coffeeshop bulletin board near you:

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Highlights from Redding v. Safford Unified School District

I have, as long-time readers know, the odd hobby of reading judicial opinions, and Ace pointed me to the recent decision on the Savana Redding case, in which sanity at long last has prevailed (but only by a 6-5 vote and only by overturning multiple lower courts' decisions).

Briefly, you can sum up the case like this:

1. School officials had a zero-tolerance policy against drugs on campus -- including Advil.

2. They caught a student with prescription-strength Advil, thanks to a tip from another student who said she had it and said several kids were planning to get it from her at lunch.

3. She said a different student, honor student Savana Redding, had given her the ibuprofen. There was no other evidence to implicate Savana.

4. So the school officials called Savana in and searched her backpack and personal belongings, and found nothing.

5. Whereupon they strip-searched the child, forcing her to expose her genitalia, lest she be hiding that mother of all evil...ibuprofen.

I have comments about the way in which this case relates, in my opinion, to my long-held belief that putting our children's education in the hands of the government rather than leaving it to the marketplace, is insane on practically every level, for half a dozen different reasons; but those being political opinions, I'm going to put the on the politics blog instead of here. Here I just want to include my favorite bon mots from the opinion. (I get a huge kick out of the evisceration of stupid opinions that you tend to get when a court is called upon to resolve a dispute that is patently absurd on its face; and any attempt to say that an assistant principle ought to be allowed to get away with having a thirteen-year-old girl strip-searched for ibuprofen, is the very embodiment of "patently absurd on its face.")

My single favorite bit is the parenthetical comment here (the emphasis is added), which takes advantage of the fact that Idiot Wilson had tried to argue that the school had a pressing interest in doing whatever it took to find the ibuprofen because they thought Savana might be (gasp) distributing, i.e., passing them out to other students:

Here, the public school authorities adopted a disproportionately extreme measure to search a thirteen-year-old girl for violating a school rule prohibiting possession of prescription and over-the-counter drugs. We conclude the strip search was not reasonably related to the search for ibuprofen, as the most logical places where the pills might have been found had already been searched to no avail, and no information pointed to the conclusion that the pills were hidden under her panties or bra (or that Savana’s classmates would be willing to ingest pills previously stored in her underwear).

Another good zinger here:

As the Court pointed out in T.L.O. [that is, the landmark Supreme Court case New Jersey v. T.L.O., which established that students retain their Fourth Amendment rights even when attending public school], a school is not a prison; the students are not inmates. See 469 U.S. at 338. We hasten to note, however, that if Savana had been accused of a federal crime, she would have been entitled to more legal protections that she received here. See 18 U.S.C. § 5033 (“Whenever a juvenile is taken into custody for an alleged act of juvenile delinquency, the arresting officer shall . . . immediately notify the Attorney General and the juvenile’s parents, guardian, or custodian of such custody.”); United States v. C.M., 485 F.3d 492, 499 n.1 (9th Cir. 2007) (noting that “the officer must also advise the parents that they are permitted to speak with their child before the child is interrogated”).

Idiot Wilson's defenders tried to say that he ought to have immunity from lawsuits because there was no previous case in which a school official ordered a child strip-searched on suspicion of possession of ibuprofen, and therefore the courts had never explicitly said, "You're not allowed to do that," and therefore he couldn't be expected to know better. Yes, that is indeed the level of personal responsibility that a lot of people think should be expected of the persons to whom you are forced, by compulsory education laws and by school zoning laws that don't let you choose your own children's schools, to entrust your children. Fortunately the Ninth Circuit is not quite that lost to reason, and is aware of the fact that T.L.O. requires school officials to apply reason and common sense; and thus we get this trenchant passage:

As of 1985, when the Supreme Court issued T.L.O., the legal framework was clearly established that would put school officials on notice that a strip search was not a reasonable measure to use on a thirteen-year-old girl accused by an unreliable student informant of having ibuprofen in violation of school rules...The Safford authorities conducted their search almost twenty years after the Supreme Court’s instructions issued in T.L.O. A reasonable school official, seeking to protect the students in his charge, does not subject a thirteen-year-old girl to a traumatic search to “protect” her from the danger of Advil. Indeed, the school officials’ actions here were so patently in defiance of the considered approach T.L.O. dictates, that it is little wonder that we can find no case presenting identical facts...The T.L.O. Court expected no less of those to whom we entrust our children, leaving teachers to “regulate their conduct according to the dictates of reason and common sense.” 469 U.S. at 343. Simply put: “It does not require a constitutional scholar to conclude that a nude search of a thirteen-year-old child is an invasion of constitutional rights of some magnitude. More than that: it is a violation of any known principle of human dignity.” ...

Justice Hawkins's dissent does have a couple of decent points in it. Unfortunately, those of his points that are worth making, do not actually serve to defend the sanity and reasonable of Wilson -- they serve to highlight problems inherent in the reasoning and guidelines of T.L.O. itself, which problems are, I believe, intrinsic to the whole problem of government-operated compulsory education, and therefore not solvable by the courts. Though, I'll grant you, the Supreme Court of the mid-'80's would have been hard put to it to solve a playground dispute on the rules of tic-tac-toe without confusing itself into logical incoherency; and so if somebody wanted to argue that a competent Court could have done a better job than the 1985 collection of black-robed morons, I'd certainly be willing to listen to the case. But, whether you and I could come up with a better approach than T.L.O. or whether T.L.O. is the best jurisprudence that could have been crafted under the circumstances...either way, that is a topic for the politics blog.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Criminal Mastermind Thespian of the Day Dept

The story of "Giovanno Venosa" is amusing, perhaps even instructive. Here's the Peril's summary of events:

1. A big-shot in the Naples branch of the Italian mafia finds out that somebody's making a movie about his own crime outfit.

2. He's always wanted to act, and he figures, "Now this is a role I oughta be able to play;" so he auditions for a bit part and wins it.

3. The movie is shown in the local prison, where certain members of that same crime outfit have taken up involuntary temporary residence.

4. When the "actor" shows up on the screen, the inmates say, "Hey, cool, look, there's Big Vinnie! Way to go, Big V!" High fives all around for their buddy who's made it to the big screen.

5. The police say, "Really? How interesting." And then they go arrest the gentleman.

My day is officially made.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Count Your Blessings Attitude of the Day

I'm all for looking on the bright side, but I'm not in the running with Shakira, who decides (in "Suerte") that she is lucky because...well, I'll just let her say it herself. And since it's a bit risqué I'll leave it in her original Spanish so that if my children want to get the mildly dirty joke they'll at least have to learn a bit of a foreign language. How's that for educational motivation?

Anyway, why does Shakira tell her guy that she considers herself fortunate?

"Suerte que mis pechos sean pequeños
y no los confundas con montañas..."

So, um, I suppose that among Dolly Parton's problems are some I had never imagined, eh? (I'm just wondering what Shakira thinks her guy would do si él los confundiera con montañas -- start yodelling? I suppose that would break the mood, rather...)


Oh, okay, fine, I'll translate it:

"It's a good thing my breasts are so small; otherwise you might mistake 'em for mountains."

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Jennifer realizes that she is bilingual

SCENE: Jennifer, Felicia and the Peril are in the Peril's temporary office, which he has obtained by the simple tactic of going and sitting in it since nobody else seems to be using it. They are wrapping up a discussion of what needs to be done the rest of the day on the S&O project, when the Peril's BlackBerry rings.

PERIL: [thanks to call waiting, he knows which language to answer in] Allo, dyévochka.

[Jennifer, who has gotten all the information she came for, gets up and heads for the door]

PERIL: Khoroshó, no, dóchenka, ya pozvonú tebyé potóm -- ya s'chas na fstréche.

JENNIFER: [coming to an abrubt halt and swinging back around with a look of surprised triumph on her face] Hey, wait a minute -- I recognized that! You just said, "I'm in a meeting," didn't you?

PERIL: [into phone] Paká. [Hangs up and grins at Jennifer] Hey, whaddaya know, you've learned some Russian. [For in point of fact, he has indeed just said to his sixteen-year-old daughter, "Fine, honey, but I'll call you later -- I'm in a meeting."]

Okay, the third-person thing is getting annoying...obviously I get interrupted in meetings a lot by phone calls from the girls, if my friends have gotten to the point where they recognize the phrase, "Ya s'chas na fstreche." I think I'll have to stop using all that Russian profanity in front of Jennifer before she figures that bit out too...having already tossed Proverbs 11:22 her way recently I should probably adopt the motto of Clan Drummond for a while.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Possible divorce breakthrough

I would now, as of a recent surprise e-mail from Dessie's lawyer, upgrade the possibility of an out-of-court settlement from 0% to 10%. "Slim" is not very good but it's a heckuva lot better than none.

I don't think further details are appropriately shared on this forum. But you guys certainly can, however vaguely and imprecisely, pray.

Meditations on the Golden Rule and Matthew 18...

...now up on Contriti Corde.

New rule

No man should ever -- I mean EVER -- have to serve as translator during his daughter's gynecological exam.

And that's all I have to say about THAT.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

I can't understand how the boy wound up a criminal...

...with tough-love grandparents like these.

UPDATE AND MEA CULPA: Before we continue: this post is proof that (a) I'm not nearly such a nice guy as many of you seem to think, and (b) if I want to keep the nice-guy illusion alive then I need to not post at 2:00 a.m. when cranky from overwork.

My points were valid. But piling on the grandparents in this situation...not cool. Some things, even when true, ought to be left unsaid.

I'm leaving the post up as a sort of confession: I really was enough of a jerk to post this thing.

Carrying on with my original bile...

I mean, you have to read that to believe it: two armed robbers are shot by a 71-year-old customer whom they tried to bully into the bathroom because (a) he looked old and non-threatening, (b) they didn't know he was an ex-Marine, (c) they didn't know he had a permit to pack concealed heat, and (d) sometimes Fate actually sees to it that people get what's rightfully comin' to 'em. So, Rosa Jones, your grandson is an armed robber -- pretty much a complete loss to society, and in fact worse than that, since dead people don't contribute to society but they at least don't actively go out and attack it. So, Miz Rosa, what apology do you have to offer for your family's failure to raise the boy in such a way as to keep him from being a menace to society?

"He should not have taken the law into his own hands."

Well, yes, your boy certainly shouldn't have been running around pointing guns at people like he was a cop or something, but "taking the law into one's own hands" is an odd way to describe the act of robbing a Subway...oh, wait a minute, you mean the Marine was being a bad boy?


I see.

Well, women do tend notoriously to lose their sense of perspective and justice when their kids and grandkids are involved; so let's chivalrously put her reaction down to grandmotherly partisanship. What about you, Grandpa Ivory? How do you feel about the fact that your grandson went and got himself shot, and that he richly, oh so richly deserved what he got?

"I don't condone what they [the grandson and his now-dead co-robber] did..." Ah, there we go. -- Oh, wait a minute...No, no, wait, Mr. Jones, don't keep going! Stop while you're ahead...[sigh] too late. He's gonna keep talkin': "...I definitely don't condone the news people making him out to seem like they're making a hero out of this man because he shot somebody down."

Guess what, Mr. Jones? Somebody needed to shoot your grandson down before he killed some innocent person. Mr. Lovell stepped forward and did what needed to be done. My verdict? Hero. In spades.

And your reaction, Mr. Jones, and yours, Miz Rosa, say a lot about how your boy came to be the way he is today, I suspect. Every time he got into trouble before now, I wonder whose fault you tried to make it out to be?

One perceives a certain difference between the Joneses' reaction to their own grandson's sociopathy, and the South Korean community's response to the Virginia Tech shooting:

When the citizenship of the shooter became known, South Koreans expressed shock and a sense of public shame, while the South Korean Cabinet convened an emergency meeting to consider possible ramifications. A candlelight vigil was held outside the Embassy of the United States in Seoul. South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun expressed his deepest condolences. South Korea's ambassador to the U.S. and several Korean American religious leaders called on Korean Americans to participate in a 32-day fast, one day for each victim, for repentance.


I certainly don't hold the South Korean Cabinet responsible for the actions of Seung-Hui Cho, but my goodness, don't you think the grandparents of an armed robber, even if they can't bring themselves to express public shame at their kid's behavior, ought at least to be able to manage not to criticize the other people involved???? If nothing else, just don't say anything, eh?

Look, I know they're upset, and I'm trying to cut 'em some slack, really I am (I've moderated my tone, actually, from my first cut, when I was really outraged). But I just can't imagine being in their position and criticizing the guy who stopped the robbery, no matter how much I might love my grandson. There's such a thing as right and wrong, you know? And right and wrong don't change their nature just because somebody you love gets on the wrong side.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Old post reposted on Contriti Corde

Just an FYI in case you missed it the first time...some meditations on the art of giving are now up over at Contriti Corde.