Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
It's Not Personal, Sonny. It's strictly business: "Codes of the Underworld: How Criminals Communicate" by Diego Gambetta.
Perhaps reading this book is an offer that you cannot refuse. And remember: Never take sides against the family again, ever...
Sunday, September 27, 2009
(Via Boing Boing)
Friday, September 25, 2009
The defendants allegedly took advantage of Astor's declining mental state to have documents executed that redirect the bulk of her sizable estate to Mr. Marshall instead of various charities. Marshall and Morrissey are charged with 18 criminal counts, including fraud and conspiracy.
Brooke Astor died in 2007 at age 105. She reportedly suffered from dementia. Her last will, created on Jan 30, 2002, gave an estimated $198 million to charity, but three later amendments instead gave Marshall most of her estate. Defense lawyers say that Astor knew what she was doing when she changed her will.
A year before Astor's death, Marshall's son Philip Marshall asked a court to remove his father as his grandmother's guardian. Subsequently, Susan Robbins, a specialist in guardianship and eldercare law, was appointed to represent Astor. Robbins came to believe that codicils to the will were forged. One clue cited by Robbins: Although Astor's signature on her third codicil was almost perfect, on prior codicils she had trouble writing her name.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
(Via Powell's Books)
Monday, September 21, 2009
Voting is open until October 21.
The nominees are:
I couldn't find a link to the complete contest rules at the NBF website. I assume the NBF employs lawyers and, therefore, rules must be out there somewhere. If you find them, please let me know so I can post a link here.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
- Fashion 101: A Crash Course in Clothingby Erika Stalder.
- Vintage L.A.: Eats, Boutiques, Decor, Landmarks, Markets & Moreby Jennifer Brandt Taylor.
- D.V.by Diana Vreeland.
Check out NPR.org for the rationale behind each of these picks.
I'd add to this list Style Evolution by Kendall Farr. Farr's book provides useful advice for selecting clothing that makes one look stylish, not foolish. Because after all, a frugal purchase is not a bargain if you don't look nice in it.
The Ottawa Citizen recently reviewed Nest of Spies, a new book by Michel Juneau-Katsuya, who served in the RCMP Security Service and Canadian Security Intelligence Service, and Montreal investigative journalist Fabrice de Pierrebourg. Their book, reports the Citizen:
[P]ortrays Canada as the world's No. 1 destination for legions of foreign government agents. Ottawa is crawling with them.
Led by the Chinese but including intelligence officers from at least 20 nations including allies, the book says, the infiltrators are stealing an estimated $20 billion to $30 billion annually worth of cutting-edge research in products and technologies, other scientific, business and military know-how and political secrets.
Others, it says, are infiltrating ethnic communities, suppressing criticism of homeland governments, recruiting industrial spies, stoking political violence among the diaspora and operating front companies and political lobbies aimed at manipulating government policies.
Proportionately, it estimates more spies operate here than in the U.S.
So the guy next to you in line at Tim Horton's could be planning a full day of espionage and political violence. Who knew?
(Via Boing Boing)
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
The Christian Science Monitor reports that Yevgeny Dzhugashvili, grandson of former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, is suing a Russian newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, for libeling Grandpa. The allegedly libelous statements appeared in an article published last April by a historian, Anatoly Yablokov, which said that Stalin signed “death lists” and committed “crimes against [his] own people.” The Novaya Gazeta reportedly stands by its story.
The Monitor's report is interesting not only for its coverage of the libel lawsuit, but also for covering the changing public opinion about Stalin (44 percent say he is not a state criminal), and current Russian government / media relations. On these issues, the Moscow Times reported on September 1st that:
Two significant events occurred last week. The first was the holding of the first session of the presidential commission “for counteracting attempts to falsify history to the detriment of Russia’s interests.”A "presidential commission 'for counteracting attempts to falsify history to the detriment of Russia’s interests'"? Well.
The second was the opening of Moscow’s newly renovated Kurskaya metro station, whose walls once again bear a verse from the 1944 version of the Soviet anthem: “Stalin raised us to be loyal to the nation; He inspired us to work and be heroic.”
This phrase had been plastered over during Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev’s campaign against Stalin’s personality cult. . . It is telling that so far not a single official has taken personal responsibility for allowing the public praise of Stalin.
Returning to the lawsuit, the plaintiff, Yevgeny, is the son of Yakov Dzhugashvili. Yakov, in turn, was the son of Stalin and his first wife, Ekaterina Svanidze.
Now, here is the Frank Lloyd Wright link:
Stalin's only remaining living child is Svetlana Alliluyeva. Svetlana is the daughter of Stalin and his second wife, Nadezhda Alliluyeva. Svetlana was for a time married to Mr. Wright's chief apprentice, William Wesley Peters. She lives in Wisconsin.
(Via Wall Street Journal Law Blog)
Friday, September 11, 2009
David Wondrich begins Esquire Drinks with a short look at the history of cocktails and advice on mixology. Then he sets down recipes for the classics, from Old Fashioneds and martinis to highballs, punches and toddies. Each recipe is accompanied by an informative and often amusing little bio.
Important rules are scattered throughout the book such as "Rule #564: Never have more than three cocktails," and "Rule #387: After three cocktails, switch to Highballs." The book's jazzy artwork and photos set a fun mood.
Who among us would not like to be able to offer our guests a Brainstorm, a perfect Sidecar, or a Vera Rush? Check out Esquire Drinks for these and more.
And of course, if you imbibe, do not drive.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Margaret Atwood, The Year of the Flood.
James Ellroy, Blood's a River.
Sherman Alexie, War Dances.
David Baldacci, True Blue.
Vince Flynn, Pursuit of Honor.
Alice Munro, Too Much Happiness.
William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.
Sam Savage, The Cry of the Sloth.
(Via The Millions, Decatur Public Library, my3books)
Monday, September 7, 2009
The time and location in which The Manual of Detection is set is unknown, but it has a bit of the ambiance of the old 1960s television program, The Avengers. The protagonist, Charles Unwin, is a clerk at a large, mysterious investigative agency that ostensibly works to protect the city from crime. Unwin is promoted after Travis Sivart, a star agency detective, disappears. This promotion is not what Unwin wants, and he seeks to reverse it by tracking down Sivart. Along the way to finding Sivart, Unwin encounters more surreal puzzles: Masses of sleep walking citizens, stolen alarm clocks, and old cases that were thought to have been solved by Sivart found to be solved incorrectly.
Reading The Manual of Detection reminds me a bit of a trip I took years ago to an odd tourist destination in Wisconsin, The House on the Rock: I was glad I went to see it, wished the tour was over well before it was finished, and am lukewarm about recommending a visit by others. Similarly, I'm glad I read The Manual of Detection, but don't insist that you do so.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
In politics you've got to dance with the one that brought you. Right now those that supported you in the last election oppose the war in Afghanistan. Further, leading editorial writers, including conservatives such as George Will, also oppose increasing U.S. troop levels in that country. The message is clear: Americans do not want our country to drown in the Afghanistan sinkhole. Accordingly, it is time for the Obama Administration to push hard for implementation of alternatives to increased U.S. troop levels there.
Polls show that liberals and Democrats oppose an increased military presence in Afghanistan. In August, the Washington Post reported:
Although 60 percent of Americans approve of how Obama has handled the situation in Afghanistan, his ratings among liberals have slipped, and majorities of liberals and Democrats alike now, for the first time, solidly oppose the war and are calling for a reduction in troop levels.
Overall, seven in 10 Democrats say the war has not been worth its costs, and fewer than one in five support an increase in troop levels.
Republicans (70 percent say it is worth fighting) and conservatives (58 percent) remain the war's strongest backers, and the issue provides a rare point of GOP support for Obama's policies. A narrow majority of conservatives approve of the president's handling of the war (52 percent), as do more than four in 10 Republicans (43 percent).
Among all adults, 51 percent now say the war is not worth fighting, up six percentage points since last month and 10 since March. Less than half, 47 percent, say the war is worth its costs. Those strongly opposed (41 percent) outweigh strong proponents (31 percent).Recent editorials urging a policy that avoids further troop commitments include:
- George Will: Time to Get Out of Afghanistan.
- Nicholas Kristof: Lighten Our Military Footprint in Afghanistan, Don't Double-Down.
- Thomas Friedman: With Americans Ambivalent About Afghanistan and Our Afghan "Allies" Unfriendly to the U.S., is an Additional U.S. Commitment to Afghanistan a Recipe for Disaster?
Committing more of our military on the ground in Afghanistan simply cannot be the only good solution to the global security and peace issues arising from there.
President Obama, in the past election your supporters believed you to be the person capable of implementing smarter, more nimble and creative policy on behalf of this country, both at home and in our nation's international relationships. Your supporters are looking now to see that capability in you.
Amazing, wonderful music. Check it out.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Mitchell, age 40, has published four novels including Black Swan Green and Cloud Atlas, which was shortlisted for the 2004 Man Booker Prize. According to the LA Times' book blog, Jacket Copy, a conference on Mitchell's work is being held this week at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Don't know if four novels provide sufficient material for an academic conference, but I do know that his 2006 book, Black Swan Green, is a wonderful read.
Black Swan Green, set in 1982, is about a year in the life of a 13-year old named Jason Taylor, who is growing up in Worcestershire, England. Jason, a budding poet, navigates being a boy at 13 and coping with all that age and that time, Margaret Thatcher's England, brings. Mitchell's writing is superb and the story enjoyable. If you can't jet over to Scotland for the conference, pick-up a copy of Black Swan Green instead and have a great weekend reading an excellent novel.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Other works by Lorrie Moore include Self-Help and Birds of America: Stories. Moore teaches creative writing at the University of Wisconsin - Madison.
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