Monday, February 28, 2011

Do You know the way to San Jose?
Silicon Valley Lawyers Are Nation's Highest Paid

The New York Times is reporting on an ABA Journal study of Labor Department salary statistics for lawyers in various markets. The study found that Silicon Valley, California has the highest paid lawyers, with an average salary of $192,020. The top 10 cities are all all in California or on the East Coast, with the exception of Chattanooga, Tennessee, which rounds out the top ten where 710 lawyers average of $148,350 per year. Note that this study does not include equity partners or sole practitioners.

These figures seem pretty inflated to me, but what do I know.

Now a marginally relevant video:

Saturday, February 26, 2011

From the "For No Particular Reason" file

A MOST awesome song.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Debt Buyer's Association Adopts Ethical Code of Conduct

Per CCR, DBA International, the largest trade association of debt buyers (think bottom feeders), had adopted its "Statement of Principles and Guidelines for the Sale and Purchase of Consumer Debt".

Based upon my experiences with this industry the code probably has one word: "whatever".

No marginally relevant video for this one, sorry.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

NYT: Meet the Billionaires behind the Anti-union Movement

The New York Times has a piece uncovering the two billionaires behind the anti-union drives in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Ohio. David and Charles Koch are behind Americans For Prosperity, a group that has provided funding for the anti-union drive. The Koch brothers are principals in Koch Industries, one of the country's largest private corporations.

While Americans for Prosperity has been lobbying for deregulation of the oil and gas industries and against climate and energy taxes, the Koch Industries homepage is rife with "green" imagery and environmental platitudes. Under a claim of fair use, I'm embedding a beautiful picture from the environment page.

Here's Rachel Maddow with a rebuttal.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

From Fox News: The Obama is the Antichrist Expert.

I've always enjoyed a good conspiracy theory, but a guy named Joel Richardson has been given airtime by Fox to explain not just how Obama may be the antichrist, but that this guy is even being booked as an expert on the Wisconsin protests. Per Rachel Maddow, in 2009 35% of concervatives in New Jersey either think Obama is the antichrist or are not sure.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
On Wisconsin - AFSCME is Under Attack in its Home Turf

AFSCME began as a union for public sector employees in Wisconsin. There's a huge battle now at the Wisconsin statehouse with a Republican effort to bust the Wisconsin public employee union. The public employees have volunteered to make the financial concessions sought, but that's not good enough for the new Tea-Party-led Republican majority, they want to gut the union entirely. The Democratic members of the house fled the state to avoid a quorum, but if even one Democat breaks, the Republicans will have the quorum they need. Today there was a 70,000 person march on the statehouse. Even though we in local 3357 are not public employees, I think we need to look for opportunities to show solidarity with the public employees, because if the public employees are broken, the race to the bottom will just accelerate.

Car and Driver - Rental Car Olympics

Perhaps Car and Driver is returning to its old form of adventurous automotive journalism. Check out the Rental Car Olympics feature, wherein the intrepid C&D drivers "vigorously probe the outer limits of the rental car agreement". I don't know anywhere else you can find out how much over 60 MPH a Lincoln Town Car can go backwards.

Friday, February 18, 2011

WWJD - What Would Joey (Lawrence) Drive
- Sitcom Star reviews $29,000 SUVs

On a "very special", a "VERY special", comparison test, sit-com star, Joey Lawrence, and his real-life wife, Chandie, are guest auto reviewers surveying a bevy of $29,000 compact and midsized SUVs. You can read the whole thing here. But if you don't mind a spoiler, I'll tell you that Lawrence and Lawrence picked the Chevrolet Equinox as their favorite.

Now it's time for a very special, marginally relevant video. Hey Joey, I think Robin Sparkles might have really been the girl for you.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Agard Case: MERS Assignment Arguments Crash and Burn

Last week there was a bankruptcy court decision in New York, In Re Agard, where Judge Robert Gossman completely evicerates MERS's arguments for authority to assign mortgages. Why is this important? MERS, or Morgage Electronic Registration Systems, is the "nominee" of most mortgages that pass through the securitization system -- in other words, most mortgages. Until a year or so ago, foreclosures would be filed under MERS's name, but a series of court decisions cast doubt on MERS's authority to foreclose, so the recent practice has been to assign the mortgage to a different entity. In Agard, Judge Grossman repeated the rule that to foreclose a mortgage, the plaintiff must show ownership of the note and the mortgage, and when not the original party, mus be able show a trail of assignment. Historically, MERS has not concerned itself with the note, and that's been a big cause of the current foreclosure mess. For a more detailed writeup on the Agard case, check out this link at the Foreclosureblues blog.

By the way, I was going to link the MERS Wikipedia entry above for a brief explanation of MERS; however this is one of rare cases where Wikipedia fails as an objective and current source. Right now, it looks like Wikipedia's MERS entry has been taken over by MERS loyalists who cite the cases that have gone in favor of MERS, but not those that have gone the other way.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

It's Official: The Prescription Drug Industry is More Corrupt Than the Defense Industry.

According to a study by Public Citizen, the pharmaceutical industry is the biggest defrauder of the federal government. The study found that pharmaceutical cases accounted for at least 25% of all payouts under the False Claims Act over the last decade. This far exceeds payouts by the traditional leader, the defense industry. During the past 20 years, there were 165 settlement payouts by the pharmaceutical industry, comprising 19.8 billion in penalties, and 73% of the settlements and 75% of the payouts occurred during the last five years.

Two things stand out to me about this trend. The first is that the penalties and fines don't seem to be deterring illegal behavior. Secondly, CEOs of drug companies aren't getting fired willy-nilly even when their companies are paying BILLION dollar fines. Something is seriously wrong here.

Time for the marginally relevant video of the day: Bill Maher on big pharma.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The Confession App
SNL got there first

As a Catholic, I really enjoy the buzz surrounding the new confession ap for the iPhone. A groundbreaking idea, right? Well, fiction got there way ahead of fact. On September 24, 1977, Season 3, episode one of Saturday Night Live (available on Netflix), the show featured a sketch called "Computerized Confession" featuring a new computer system called the Trinity-3000. From the SNL Transcripts site:

77a: Steve Martin / Jackson Browne

Computerized Confession

Woman.....Rosie Shuster
Priest.....Dan Aykroyd
Man.....Garrett Morris
Woman.....Rosie Shuster

[ open on exterior, confessional ]

[ a woman, kneeling, makies the Sign of the Cross and then exits, as ?? steps forward and kneels at the confessional on the opposite side ]

[ cut to interior, confessional, as the Priet slides the partition to begin ]

Man: Forgive me, Father. It has been six years since my last confession. In that time, I've received absolution and I've performed my penance. These are my sins.

Priest: Well, it's been a while since you last came to confession. [ he smiles ] There's been a lot of changes in six years. Go ahead with my, uh -- your confession, my son.

Man: Well, where should I start? My life's a mess, Father! I have so many sins...

Priest: Well... which one troubles you the most?

Man: Well, you see -- I'm married, and I have BEEN with another woman.

Priest: Mmm-hmm. Is she, too, beholden to another man?

Man: Yes! She's married.

Priest: I see. So you've broken the sixth and the ninth commandments?

Man: Mmm-hmm.

[ suddenly, a machine begins to beep wildly ]

Man: Hey... hey... Hey, Father, wh-wh-what's that noise...?

Priest: I told you, my son -- the church has undergone quite a few changes. Contrary to what you might have been reading, the Church IS progressive, and, uh, has modernized. [ he acknowledges a computer system before him ] This is the Trinity-300 Central Processing Unit, with an address capacity of 70 bits of information.

Man: [ curious ] Uh, well, what's it for?

Priest: Well, basically, it's a modern priest's companion. This terminal, here, has a direct link-up to the arch-darabank in Rome. It assists the priests in, uh, analyzing transgressions in the assignment of appropriate penance. Now, you said this other woman was married, didn't you?

Man: Yeah.

[ the Priest types the information into the CPU ]

[ screen reads: "Sin Series #10148" ]

[ screen reads: "Commandment #6: Adultery" ]

[ screen reads: "Commandment #9: Covet: wife" ]

[ screen reads: "Transgressions to date: Anno Domini 1977 - 2,600,808" ]

[ next screen reads: "RECOMMENDED PENANCE (flashing) 10 Hail Marys" ]

Priest: Alright, ten Hail Marys. Okay, anything else?

Man: Yeah, well, I got rid of her husband.

Priest: How did you do that?

Man: Well, I'm the Personnel Director for a large chemical company. We have offices all over the world.

Priest: All right.

Man: Her husband worked for me, and it got to be a hassle, Father, so I transferred him to Beirut. I put him up in the Holiday Inn, and his room got shelled. Now, did I kill him, or not?

Priest: Beats me. Let's check. [ he types the information into the CPU ]

[ screen reads: "ACTED TO REMOVE HUSBAND" ]

[ screen reads: "INDIRECTLY CAUSED DEATH" ]

[ next screen reads: "see : David and Bathsheba" ]

[ next screen reads: "SIN OF PASSION -- Not directly responsible" ]

[ screen reads: (flashing) "NO PENALTY" ]

Priest: Nooo, I don't think you have anything to worry about. You didn't commit murder.

Man: [ aghast ] Well, I wish you would tell his son that! He's after me -- for breaking up his family!

Priest: Well, what do you mean he's "after you"?

Man: Well, he hired two guys to follow me, man. They're out there NOW -- Father. Excuse me for calling you "man". They're out there NOW! That's why I ducked in here in the first place!

Priest: I see... hmm... hmm...

Man: I've got to get OUT of here, get away, think things over...

Priest: [ thinking ] Well, where do you think it would be safe for you to go?

Man: Well, I've got relatives in Chicago... maybe I could get a flight out tonight...

Priest: [ typing ] Will that be First Class or Coach?

Man: That would be First Class.

Priest: Smoking or Non-smoking?

Man: Smoking.

Priest: Okay. Would you like a rental car waiting for you when you get into Chicago?

Man: Yeah, whatcha got?

Priest: Let's see... [ typing ] We've got a mid-sized sedan, or a little hatchback.

Man: Hatchback!

Priest: Good choice. It's a gas saver. [ types the final few keystrokes ] Okay, are you sorry for your sins?

Man: Yeahhhh, sure!

Priest: Say those ten Hail Marys now?

Man: Uh, I certainly will, Father!

Priest: [ hands his tickets over ] Alright, bless you, my son. Have a nice flight.

[ the man smiles and makes his exit ]

[ fade ]

SNL Transcripts

This was a great episode. It also included Steve Martin's "Mike McMack, Defense Lawyer" skit and Jackson Browne peforming Running on Empty and The Pretender.

Dodge Introduces the "Man Van"
The Grand Caravan R/T

Chrysler hopes to get rid of the stigma of minivans as something only soccer moms drive with a new trim level on the 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan. Though it's not named "the man van", the R/T package is clearly aimed at the XY chromosome crowd. The R/T has a unique exterior package with arrest-me red paint, special wheels and blacked-out trim. On the inside it has black seats with red trim and all the electronic goodies. To back it up, it has the new Pentastar V6 engine, good for 283 horsepower, almost double the power of my first minivan a decade and a half ago. If you absolutely need all-wheel-drive or can't abide 4 doors, you can get the same trim package on the Dodge Journey for a little less money. I'm not sure if the B-25 is part of the package.

Now it's time for the marginally relevant video of the day. This one comes courtesy of comedian Sean Morey.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Tobias Boyland (a/ka "Bags of Money"), America's Most Wanted Debt Collector, is on the Run
Presumed Armed and Dangerous

Tobias Boyland gained his 5 minutes of fame when his multitude of debt collection agencies were spotlighted by ABC's 20-20 for their outrageous collection methods which included racial epithets and threats of physical violence.

The agencies were shut down sometimes afterwards, and Boyland was convicted of illegal gun possession. Apparently it's illegal to own an AK-47 if you are a convicted felon (like Boyland), who knew?

Well just when you think that it's okay to give a repeat offender an even break, wouldn't you know it that Mr. Boyland decided that it would be appropriate to not go to prison when ordered, thereby becoming a bail jumper. I want to see Gerald Butler pick up Tobias Boyland under his arm like he did Jennifer Aniston in The Bounty Hunter. There would be a lot more entertainment in just that image than the entire Bounty Hunter movie. Then again, there was more entertainment in my last root canal than the entire Bounty Hunter movie.

Story link:

Is Christina Aguilera Related to Leslie Nielsen?

Where is Enrico Pallazzo when you need him?