March 31, 2007

What I don't always enjoy about being a corporate litigator

Well, it is Saturday morning and here I am at my desk. Taking a quick second between emails with a client. He retained us (me) yesterday after receiving a notice from his lender that things were not going well with his $100 million loan. He (my client) also signed, I am so sorry to say, a personal guaranty on that $100 million loan. The collateral securing the loan may be, shall we say, impaired in terms of value. I don't want to say that the loan is upside down. Yet. But I spent the entire day yesterday plowing through several 100 plus page loan agreements. There is nothing more byzantine, and deliberately so, than a commercial loan agreement. Also, probably, nothing as restrictive and cumbersome and burdensome and odious. Scary stuff, really.

I printed out all of the documents (as far as I know) associated with the loan transaction. They have covered the surface of a conference table that can seat about 18 people.

I am alone in the office today trying to determine, under some pressure, what wiggle room my client has, if any.

Yup, days like this, when I have a client with a huge problem, a conference room table full of 100 plus page documents, a headache, and I cannot find an out for him, are days I dislike my job. I would be happier if I could find just a little out. A teeny little mistake made by the drafter of the loan documents. It don't look good. For him or for me today.


Posted by Random Penseur at 09:26 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

March 28, 2007

Medical advice: science or politics?

I guess I have always had some kind of faith in the medical advice doctors have dispensed to me over the years. I have assumed that the advice I have been given has been truthful, that it is the distillation of years of rigorous study, of carefully monitored tests, of repeatedly observed phenomena, that it has all the indicia of truth gleaned from years of practice. I have thought that medicine is truth and that it is derived from good science.

I forgot that medicine, while it may be applied truth, is applied by human beings. Medical professionals bring to the scientific process of dispensing medical advice all of their own biases and preconceptions, all of their own political and social world views, all of their own narrow prisms. These people are just as imprisoned by their tunnel vision as the rest of us.

Scary, isn't it?

What do I mean, you may be wondering at this point?

I have just finished a very short, very compelling, terribly frightening book: Unprotected: A Campus Psychiatrist Reveals How Political Correctness in Her Profession Endangers Every Student .

Go forth, buy it, read it, and give it to your daughters. I am completely serious.

But back to my topic. The book brought me to this realization because it makes terribly clear how ideology guides and informs mental health treatment and risk education for college age, and younger, women.

The bias is this: women are just the same as men. The translation of the bias into action is social activism and is praised by mental health counselors who are hoping to help break gender constructs in an effort to achieve a more just and equitable society. How? By telling girls that having any kind of sexual relationship they want, no matter how casual, is just fine. It is risk free and without consequence, so long as "safer sex" is practiced.

The author of the book makes clear that is ideologically driven and contradicted by medical fact. How? First, venereal disease is not so easily cured by a one day treatment of some wonder drug, as the ideologues would have you believe. There can be grave physical consequences to a woman's ability to conceive later in life. Second, there are serious mental health consequences which appear to be neurologically driven. Oxytocin is a chemical released during breast feeding to promote the bonding between woman and child. It also is released during sex. It means, to boil it down very much, a woman is more likely to bond with a man during sex and thus, when the man blows her off because they were just hooking up for a no strings attached thing, she is more prone to become depressed. These consequences are not shared with women because they might blow away the political agenda -- female equality. Women, as a result of the agenda applied, are not being told that maybe it would be better to wait until they have fallen in love to have sex and then to have sex within a monogamous relationship. It conflicts with the agenda.

Read the book. I could go on. Instead, I am putting it on the shelf until my daughter just about hits puberty, and then I am going to make her read it and discuss it with her. Just so that she can make informed decisions about her own life in the context of knowing that all the facts and further knowing that the advice she may be getting about a healthy lifestyle is coming from a place more concerned about the end result of a political agenda than about keeping her safe.

By the way, the author originally wrote this as "anonymous" out of the fear she had for the consequences for her own career. She has since come out: Miriam Grossman, M.D., psychiatrist in the UCLA health services.

Here's an interesting piece about her and the book.

Posted by Random Penseur at 10:49 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Math and Beach

The Girl Child had a math day at school yesterday where the students took the parents through various math stations and showed them how they were learning addition, comparison (greater than, less than, and equal), geometry (how to manipulate shapes), patterns (which she told me is a design that is repeated), and a little bit about probability. It was great fun, although it was scheduled at 12:00 to 1:00. GC really enjoyed being my teacher as she explained each activity to me. The Viking Bride had an obligation at the Boy Child's school so I got to go to the GC's program.

After school, I took her away with me for lunch, just the two of us. Well, I had lunch and I let her just have dessert since she had eaten lunch earlier at school. Over lunch, we had a wide ranging conversation and I told her that I was having difficulties with her definition of pattern since I thought that the word design implied a conscious decision to create something and that seemed to me that it would leave out the patterns created in nature. She thought for a second and told me that wasn't right. First, she said, the patters in nature were created by God. She pulled a leaf off of her sprig of mint and held it up to show me the tracing of lines that constituted a pattern. She reminded me that the world and everything in it was created by God and therefore it was all a conscious design. Or, didn't I believe that God created the world? I decided simply to assure her that I did and enjoy her reasoning, complete with visual aid.

It was a gorgeous day in Westport. It was 75 degrees (or 24 celsius) and blue skies everywhere. I came back with the GC and collected the BC, changed into shorts, and took them both to the beach playground to run around for an hour or so. The ice cream guy was out and, after playing, I bought them each a popsicle and we sat by the edge of the ocean while they ate their ice cream and we all chatted. It was idyllic.

Hope you are all as great as we were yesterday!

Posted by Random Penseur at 08:23 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 23, 2007

Google Search happiness

I have several high placed Google Search Results:

*No. 3 for the Battle of White Plains

*No. 2 for Taking Things for Granted

*No. 2 for stupid celebrity comments

*No. 1 (!!!) for Oggi, Oggi, Oggi, Oggi

*No. 2 on the mighty Ghurkas

*And No. 1, in Argentina, for "matrimonial part" definition

All in all, I have absolutely no idea what to make of all of this.

Posted by Random Penseur at 02:07 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Cheese it, its the cops!

Ok, not quite. Still, the Viking Bride was lurking outside the Boy Child's classroom yesterday (or the day before) so she could observe him at play without his knowing it. Her lurking skills require work. The Boy Child spotted her and exclaimed to his little friends:

Yikes! Its my mom!

We have no idea why he said that but I have been amused all day by it.

Posted by Random Penseur at 01:15 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

I'm the customer, you stupid bitch

Welcome to theKensington post office, Brooklyn. Please take a number and I will be yelling at your sorry ass, shortly. Video shot with a cell phone:

Like watching a slow motion train wreck. Although, I gather that this post office is well known for horrible service.

Posted by Random Penseur at 01:09 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

A disconnected feeling to life, all of a sudden

I think I may have unplugged a year from my machine. All of a sudden, I find myself rounding up my age. I am telling people that I am 40 when I know darn well that I won't turn 40 until November. I have been doing it since I started playing squash with 26 year olds, I think. But I suspect I have always had a tendency to round up. Just, I never saw myself rounding up my own life.

What am I missing by sliding past 39? What am I going to do when I do actually get to 40? Have I somehow contrived to deny an entire year of my life? I wonder, can you do that? Can you decide that the year doesn't count and thus, by fiat, make it go *poof* and disappear? Truthfully, so far, 39 has been filled with exceptional stresses -- my mother's cancer, the firing of a nanny, the Viking Bride re-inventing herself as a stay at home mother, becoming a partner at my firm, dealing with a huge fall out at an organization I am a member of (I never really wrote about this and am probably not likely to, let's just say it approached the highest levels of suckitude) -- but does that mean I should deny it exists? I suppose I really shouldn't, should I?

Besides, what could the hurry possibly be to get to 40? Sure, I am going to throw a big party (jointly with the Viking Bride) but, truth be told, I don't really like to throw parties that much.

Maybe it is because I feel my body creaking and aching more after the morning workout. Maybe that's why I am rounding up -- because my body feels like it is at least 40 years old, if not a few years more.

Either way, I have to stop this.

I am, after all, only 39 years old and there is a long way to go until I get to 40. I hope.

Posted by Random Penseur at 10:41 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 22, 2007

The baby shall be called

I have finally decided on a name for the baby for the blog. I have a Girl Child (who last night, when I essayed one of my witty remarks on her, pranced by me and announced, "I am going to pretend I didn't hear that") and a Boy Child and, as you may know, another baby boy, aged almost one year -- 04/05/06 is his birthdate. And what to call him? I have not worried overly much about this as he has yet to really speak. But now he has begun to call me da-da and to wave good night. Clearly, the time has come to bestow a non-de-blog on him.

As I have two sons, I am leaning towards the French system. The Boy Child, le fils aîné, is the older son. He shall remain the Boy Child. The baby, being the younger son, shall simply be called le fils cadet, meaning, the younger son. Fils cadet or FC, as the spirit moves me.

Anyone got anything better? I'm open to all suggestions.

Posted by Random Penseur at 02:36 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

March 20, 2007


The Boy Child has a cold. Things leaking from his nose all over the place. The Girl Child is a little hoarse. I woke up at 12:30 this morning with a huge sneeze that, much like a trumpet, heralded the arrival of full congestion. Yuck.

Thank goodness for Sudafed. I am just starting to feel human again. As human as any lawyer feels, that is.

Posted by Random Penseur at 02:36 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 19, 2007

Weekend plans: pizza and fossils

We escaped this weekend. We bundled the children into the car and escaped with them to that well known tourist destination: New Haven, CT. Ok, it actually was a lot nicer than I had expected. There were loads of beautiful buildings and nicely groomed streets.

We started off at Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, making pizza in New Haven since 1925 in coal fired brick ovens. The pies came out on superbly crisp crusts. The kids and the Viking Bride split one pizza while I had my own small one with anchovies, sausage, cheese and mushrooms. The kids bravely tried the anchovies but did not care for them. The pizza was worth a trip all by itself. Really. Pepe's is most famous for the white clam pizza, which I will certainly try next time. Here's a review of the place, if you are interested.

Apres lunch, we got back in the car and headed over to the Peabody Museum of Natural History to check out the dinosaurs. There were plenty of fossils to excite interest. One of the guidebooks said that the musuem had a collection of shrunken heads which sparked a nice little discussion in the car about cannibals. The kids were interested in cooking methods, among other things.

The museum was quite lovely and we went ahead and joined, especially since we found out that we could then sign up for sleepovers with the dinosaurs, which I think that the children would adore doing. I would, of course, hate it, but would force myself to go. Ahem. Small museums, while lacking the resources and world beating curatorial staffs, are almost always worth a visit and have quite a lot of charm on their own.

All in all, a successful Sunday outing.

Posted by Random Penseur at 09:57 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


So, if site meter allows one to predict with any kind of accuracy, I ought to get 10 more visitors shortly and thus go over 95,000 since I started this.


Thank you, in advance, for all the visits and especially for all the comments. I love the comments. I try to tell myself I write to fulfill some need to express myself but, and while that may be true, I also write because I looooove the comments, both good and bad. So, to all of my very kind and faithful readers (all six of you), let me send to you my heartfelt thanks as I close in on 100k.

Posted by Random Penseur at 09:38 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Zimbabwe: checking in

I have written at length in the past about Zimbabwe and the slow motion train wreck that is was becoming over the years. I have despaired of it entirely. I despair no longer. It has ceased becoming a slow motion train wreck and become a fast moving train wreck. Amazing thing progress, no?

Zimbabwe is worsening fast. The NY Times summed it up as follows this morning:

Zimbabwe’s political stability has deteriorated in recent weeks in lockstep with its economy, now plagued by ever-steeper inflation and worsening shortages of basic commodities. The annual inflation rate is now more than 1,700 percent, and the black-market value of Zimbabwe’s beleaguered dollar plunged 57 percent last week alone, to 17,500 for one American dollar.
(Emphasis supplied).

The result? Emboldended opposition parties are forming to pressure Mugabe and to try to change things. The reaction? Beating them with iron rods, crushing skulls and eye sockets.

And as much as things change within Zimbabwe, the most influential neighbor, South Africa, does nothing. So, the more things change, once again, the more things stay the same.

Think of the effects on the people, if you will, as their savings evaporate.

Posted by Random Penseur at 09:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 16, 2007

How to tie a tie: three basic knots

I found this on the Wall Street Journal -- Europe Edition -- Weekend Section and thought I would post it here. The big knot is back my friends and here's how to do it:

Posted by Random Penseur at 10:32 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

A happy cooking experience

In order to make sure that my Viking Bride continues to get to experience the joys of adult conversation, I invited another couple over to our house for dinner last Saturday night and then made sure to do all of the cooking. I thought I might share with you all the very successful recipe I made up as I went along.

I took one butterflied and boneless leg of lamb, about 4 pounds, and covered it with fresh chopped rosemary, fresh chopped sage leafs, crushed garlic cloves, some sea salt, cracked black pepper, and then drizzled it with olive oil. I let it sit in the roasting pan for a couple of hours.

Oven to 475 and roasting pan in for about 25 minutes. The lamb is nice and pink that way and the herbs and garlic get all crispy and yummy and the house smells wonderful.

Remove the lamb from the roasting pan and put on a warm platter.

Put the roasting pan over a burner and deglaze the pan with a very healthy amount of cognac and a little bit of water. Let the cognac/water mixture boil up as you happily scrape all the crispy bits off the bottom of the roasting pan. Sprinkle into the liquid some dried sage, be liberal with it.

Pour the accumulated meat juices from the platter back into the pan.

Take the pan off the heat and stir in some heavy cream, as much as you feel you want, really. When well mixed, pour it into a gravy boat and away you go!

I served this with a Pinot Noir, roasted asparagus (that I roasted on the bottom rack while the lamb cooked) and mashed sweet potatoes.

It was a huge success. I was so pleased with the cognac/sage/cream pan sauce that I created that I just had to share.

Happy eating!

Posted by Random Penseur at 09:56 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 15, 2007

Copies are being made

and the briefs, notices of motion, affirmations in support, volumes of exhibits, and the request for judicial intervention are all then going to be bound. The briefs (not very brief) total over 70 pages. This project has consumed my professional life for over a month. That's what happens when you come into a 20 year piece of litigation completely cold on the facts and the prior proceedings and those prior proceedings include at least two appellate decisions.

I think that the papers are pretty good. I think that some of the arguments are going to give the other side fits.

But here's the thing. I have been running so hard and so long on adrenalin that I feel drained and let down now that the papers are ready to be served. Anyone else get like that at the end of an intense project?

Posted by Random Penseur at 11:09 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Sub Prime Mortgage implosion

I was kind of hoping that now that the sub prime mortgage market has imploded and taken the Dow Jones and S&P indices with it, that the amount of mortgage solication email s*p*_m I received on an hourly basis would recede. No such luck.

Man, these emails are like voices reaching to you from the grave.

Posted by Random Penseur at 10:24 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Favorite new song

This is Israel's Eurovision song contest entry:

The song is sung in English, French and Hebrew. It is kind of odd but I really like it.

Posted by Random Penseur at 09:14 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Something to ponder

My dad sent me the following email and I thought it contained so many things that smacked of truth that I wanted to reproduce it here for your pleasure:

#10 Life is sexually transmitted.

#9 Good health is merely the slowest rate at which one can die

#8 Men have two emotions: Hungry and Horny. If you see him without an erection, make him a sandwich.

#7 Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day; teach a person to use the internet and they won't bother you for weeks.

#6 Some people are like a slinky... not really good for anything,but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs.

#5 Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in the hospital dying of nothing

#4 All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.

#3 Why does a slight tax increase cost you two hundred dollars, and a substantial tax cut saves you thirty cents???

#2 In the 60's, people took LSD to make the world weird. Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.

AND THE # 1 THOUGHT FOR 2007: We know exactly where one cow with mad-cow-disease is located among the millions and millions of cows in America , but we haven't a clue as to where thousands of illegal immigrants and terrorists are located. Maybe we should put the Department of Agriculture in charge of immigration.

Posted by Random Penseur at 08:07 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack