Sunday, July 24, 2011

"Tort Tales" and Access to Courts

The popular narrative that grew around the Liebeck suit is what political scientists William Halton and Michael McCann  refer to in their definitive book Distorting the Law as a “tort tale.” Tort tales are narratives about lawsuits developed for the purposes of politics and popular culture, and as McCann explains are usually “either completely fictional accounts or highly fictionalized, reconstructed accounts of actual events.” Substituting half-truths and outright falsehoods for actual facts made a joke of a sad story about a 79-year old woman who suffered severe injuries because of an unnecessarily dangerous product from a very wealthy corporation.

If tort tales were merely fodder for sitcoms and comedians, the distortions might be harmless. But these tales are often used (and sometimes created) for political purposes. A major strength of Saladoff’s documentary is that she links the false narrative about the McDonald’s coffee case to a larger - and pernicious - political cause. Tort reform groups funded by corporations have used the fictionalized portrayal of the Liebeck suit and other tort tales to compel legislatures to limit access to the courts and place arbitrary caps on damages.
 From a review of a new HBO documentary Hot Coffee by Scott Lemieux (of Lawyers, Guns, and Money)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Newspapers Good and Bad

David Carr of the NYT finds a nugget of hope in the News of the World scandal:
Still, how did we find out that a British tabloid was hacking thousands of voice mails of private citizens? Not from the British government, with its wan, inconclusive investigations, but from other newspapers... 

Newspapers, it turns out, are still powerful things, and not just in the way that Mr. Murdoch has historically deployed them. The Guardian stayed on the phone-hacking story like a dog on a meat bone, acting very much in the British tradition of a crusading press, and goosing the story back to life after years of dormancy...

Mr. Murdoch, ever the populist, prefers his crusades to be built on chronic ridicule and bombast. But as The Guardian has shown, the steady accretion of fact -- an exercise Mr. Murdoch has historically regarded as bland and elitist -- can have a profound effect. 

His corporation may be able to pick governments, but holding them accountable is also in the realm of newspaper journalism, an earnest concept of public service that has rarely been of much interest to him.
A newspaperman insisting newspapers are still relevant, perhaps.  I am hopeful and uplifted nonetheless.

Thanks, TNC

Friday, July 8, 2011

I support the Takeis

From Use Your Words


My grandmother had her first child at 16; she became a grandmother at 42.  42!  I have friends that age, who, like me, chose graduate degrees, careers (2nd careers!), travel, sometimes mortgages over marriage and babies.  Those could wait.  At 20, the flesh was willing, but the mind...not so much.

And now, now that we've decided we are ready, now that we yearn for those children we put off having, our bodies are unsure.  We work at pregnancy the same way we worked at school, with the same dedication we put into demanding jobs.  So much less predictable, though.  So much more fragile.

I wrote these lines a year ago, more, with one specific friend in mind who had just lost a child.  Sadly, she's no longer alone.  We've made choices, good choices no doubt.  But choices nonetheless, leaving other paths untrodden.

We continue to yearn.

Lines for ___

A moment I did hold my breath and her.
Then the name passed as a whisper through my lips,
Nearly lost and barely heard. The sips
I took of ecstasy that day did sear
My throat and burned their way into my womb.
The susurrations pierced and tore, and she
Ate all of me. I murmured, agonied,
That name—my heart, my head, my soul consumed.

She does not grow, but still I have been wrecked,
Depleted, paled. A near-forgotten word
Leaps to my tongue unbidden and unchecked.
My breath takes form. My prayer ignites in flame,
And she burns up; deaf heaven has not heard.
I'm left among the ashes of her name.

Summer Time

Well, May and June passed in a whirlwind of getting married, honeymooning, and starting school.  I'll write about the two big things once I have some time to correlate all the lovely pictures and all the lovely memories.  Here we are in July, though, and I've been thinking about you and about how lovely the summer is.

After getting back from Italy, I had about two weeks before school started.  I spent it reconnecting, lazing, swimming, and falling back into the pace of normal life.

The weekend after Phil returned to work, we met up with D&N and Skylan to check out the underground market and then, kimchi in hand,  headed to Four Barrel for some much needed American Coffee.  Espresso is delicious, Americanos are not.  Nowhere in Italy can you get brewed coffee, especially not delicious Four Barrel!

I did quite a bit of gardening the rest of the week - which meant I got to hang out with Nori quite a bit for nursery trips and things!!  I planted tomatoes, eggplant, anaheim peppers, taragon, basil (sadly, only one of the three basil plants survived), strawberries, pansies, lobelia, oregano, thyme, society garlic, and a sweet pea.  I also spruced up the rest of my little potted paradise, and everyone seemed to be happy with the tune up and the warm weather!

Buddy got his own kitty grass.  He goes out every morning and evening for a little salad, sometimes--bastard--with a side dish of pansy.

I also got some serious girl time in: Summer and Sarah and I spent a couple of nights in Discovery Bay (see dance party, left), and Nori and Khai and I hung out with their beautiful boys.  Auntie Nessa got some goooood baby time in--and some good lady time (at awesome Skates' on the Bay happy hour - I hadn't been there since Junior Prom night!).

There have been lots of other catchings-up since then, as well.  A wedding takes a lot out of you.  It's nice to get back into the normal rhythm and flow of life and family and friends.