LEARNING SOMETHING NEW EVERY DAY – Marilyn Armstrong

I thought because I asked someone and got the wrong answer, that you can’t bury a body on private land. As it turns out, it depends on the state in which you live.

Laws vary by state AND also by county. I’m betting Boston is a no-no as is any well-populated suburban area, but out here where we are embarrassed to admit we “only have 4 and a half acres” because everyone else has a much bigger area, you can not only be buried yourself but can start your own private family cemetery.

I suppose this assumes you are planning to stay on that property. I did know a lovely home in upstate New York that had been a rectory. A minister was buried in the backyard and there was a huge apple tree over him.

Small Bobcat excavator

So for the “broke but needing a place to put the body” people of whom, given the insane prices of “real” funerals, this is one more advantage to country life.

Price? The cost of one canvas shroud — I’m pretty sure that’s affordable for most people —  which I assume is a big bag in whatever color suits your eternal mood. Drawstring optional.

Of course, you can’t just stick the body in the bag. You also need a hole in which to bury it. For this, you need a bobcat or maybe a small John Deere. The cost of renting a bobcat? I’m afraid the price wasn’t posted on the site, but our local lumberyard rents them. And you can get ready in advance since this is great equipment for any small to medium-size farm or landscaping venture.

Breaking the ice on our frozen driveway. Local volunteer!

They are frequently used in cemeteries to dig graves. Easier on the back than the whole shovel thing. But you need a hydraulic license, so it might be cheaper to hire a guy who already knows how to use the equipment.


Free shipping and eco-friendly. I think you can get them with wheels so you can roll the body into the hole. Shrouds are used as an alternative to clothing and are suitable for transportation, burial or cremation. The shroud with handles can be used on its own and is lift weight tested to 300 lbs. A sewn-in pouch allows a rigid board to be inserted under the shroud to provide support for the body if desired. Instructions on shrouding the body are available here. Sizes: Large 112” L x 73” W – Extra Large  118” L x 78” W – Please allow 3-5 days for shipping or contact us for overnight delivery.


It can push like a tractor, pull or lift pretty heavy material. It is lighter and far more maneuverable than a tractor front loader. Typically used in light to medium construction as well as landscaping. Think building a swimming pool or a septic system. Or, for that matter, the basement of a house or the extension to an existing house.

You can put various fronts on it, so it’s also great for pushing snow (much better than a garden tractor) and it hauls well. I’ve always wanted a tractor or bobcat. I don’t need one. I just want one.

The only reason I didn’t get one when we moved here was the price. A good tractor costs a bit more than I could justify. Anyway, I’m pretty sure nobody trusted me with my own tractor.

THE ODD LEGALESE OF WINNING AND LOSING – BY ELLIN CURLEY

My ex-husband, Larry Kaiser, was a young litigation attorney in New York City in 1979. His law firm assigned Pro Bono Appeals cases to junior associates as part of a public service program.

Larry was given the appeal of a defendant, Eric Michaels, who had been convicted, in a second trial, of rape, sodomy, robbery and burglary. His first trial had been declared a mistrial. It was clear that the defendant was rightfully convicted. He had definitely done it. So Larry had to look for a procedural irregularity that he could exploit to try to get the conviction overturned on appeal. That was his job, unsavory as it was.

Larry discovered that the trial judge, Judge Arnold Fraiman, had declared a mistrial for a questionable reason – he and several jurors were scheduled to leave on vacations. I believe the judge even had his wife and his packed suitcases in the courtroom. If this was seen as an abuse of discretion by the appellate court, it would invalidate the guilty verdict of the second trial. The entire second trial would be considered invalid as a violation of double jeopardy. You can only be tried once for any crime or crimes.

Larry was drowning in work so I helped him write this Pro Bono brief. It was very much a joint effort. I was practicing law at a small New York City law firm at the time. We won the appeals case and Eric Michaels was released from prison.

One morning shortly after the appellate verdict was rendered, I was getting out of bed and I heard Larry yelling from the living room. He had just opened the New York Times and found his case on the front page! The misconduct of Judge Fraiman was considered a big enough deal to warrant a prominent story. This was particularly true because his misconduct resulted in the release of a convicted rapist. The District Attorney of New York had described Eric Michaels’ crimes as some of the more vicious crimes prosecuted by the state in years.

Judge Fraiman was now in the spotlight. Larry was interviewed by several newspapers. Over the next few days, reporters dug into the Judge’s prior cases. And they discovered that the exact same thing had happened before. Judge Fraiman had previously declared a mistrial for the same reason – he was due to leave on vacation. His prior mistrial declaration had also been considered inappropriate by an appellate court. And again, an appellate court had released another guilty defendant back onto the streets because of Judge Fraiman’s actions in court.

This was now a really big judicial scandal. The story stayed in the news for a while and destroyed Judge Fraiman’s reputation. I think he may have been censured by the judiciary or by the Bar Association.

Larry always had mixed feelings about this case. He had won a major legal success and got his name in the New York Times.

On the other hand, he also helped get a rapist released from jail. This is often the plight of lawyers in the criminal field. It was also a prime reason I didn’t go into criminal law. Winning isn’t everything.

VIOLENCE OF THE SENSIBLE KIND – Marilyn Armstrong

The thing about “senseless violence” is that it implies there’s some other kind. The sensible kind.

Everybody talks about senseless violence … but what about the other kind of violence? How come no one talks about sensible violence?

sensible violence

Sensible Violence: Good reasons to kill


“He needed killing” is still accepted in some American courtrooms as a defense against a charge of murder. If he needed killing and you kill him, you have committed an act of sensible violence.

“No one was supposed to get hurt.” You found yourself short of money, so you held up the bank. Using automatic weapons. You had a perfect plan which went unaccountably wrong. “But your Honor, no one was supposed to get hurt!”

“I had no choice.” You could have gotten a divorce, but you were put off by all the paperwork, lawyers, and courts. Not to mention having to share your stuff. So, you killed your husband and shoved his body in the wood chipper and use his remains as fertilizer. Sensible. tidy, and green.  “Your Honor, he really pissed me off. And it wasn’t easy getting him into the machine. He was being really mean to me, so what choice did I have?”

“Anyone would have done the same thing.” Really, no kidding. Anyone. It was the only sensible response. “Your Honor, she burned the roast. I had to kill her. Anyone would have done the same thing.”

“I lost my temper.” You said I wouldn’t like you when you were angry. You were right.

So you see? Not all violence is senseless. If you didn’t mean it, you had no choice, anyone would have done the same thing, or your plan went awry … it’s sensible violence. The good kind.

WHAT HAPPENS IF NO ONE CARES ABOUT LAW OR ORDER? – Marilyn Armstrong

We make laws. We enforce laws or try to enforce them, anyway.

We’ve done such a great job trying to enforce stupid, meaningless laws while doing such a poor job enforcing more important laws, we’ve got millions of people in prison for doing nothing much — while corporate killers laugh among themselves.

Laws don’t apply to them.

In fact, we do not and could not actually enforce every law we make. The only way a nation can exist is when the population — which is to say most of its citizens — have a fundamental regard for law and carry with them the belief that order is a good thing.

Without a citizenry who respect the law, you have chaos, disorder, disunion and ultimately, the worst kind of tyranny. No country can maintain a police force to make everyone do the right thing. Most people do the right thing because they understand it’s right. That’s all the reason they need.

I don’t need enforcement. I get it. I understand. Probably, so do you. That’s the basis of a free society.

We should be crying out for mature, educated, reasonable men and women who can work together even when their parties utterly disagree about pretty much everything. We need people who care about the people they represent. When governments don’t care for people and stop believing the good of the nation supersedes their personal squabbles, it’s the end of democracy and freedom.

After that, the only way to maintain order is for everyone to be afraid, which is the definition of a police state.

If we can’t find bridges to cross, we have no government. We can make all the laws we want, but unless people believe in law and for the most part, live within it, life as we know it is over. The reason this — or any country — works is that most citizens do “the right thing.” They don’t need a gun pointed at them. There aren’t enough cops, guns, or prisons to make everyone obey if no one cares.

We either learn to behave like civilized people or it’s back to the dark ages — a world where only “might makes right.” But this time, we’ll have mobile phones!

I’m sure that will change everything.

YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP – Marilyn Armstrong

When in 2012, Rob Reid wrote Year Zero, a science fiction novel about the music business and its impact on the universe, many people sat up and took notice. Who better to write about the Byzantine complexities of the music business than Rob Reid?

The author of Year Zero, Rob Reid doesn’t have the kind of bio one would expect of a science fiction author. In fact, he was and is an entrepreneur and multi-millionaire, the kind of self-made multi-millionaire who makes many of us realize what failures we truly are.

Born in New York City, raised in Darien, Connecticut, got his undergraduate degree at Stanford University in Arabic and International Relations. Earned an MBA from Harvard. In 1994 he moved to Silicon Valley where he managed Silicon Graphic’s relations with Netscape. In 1999 he became a founding member of IGN Entertainment which went public in 2000. IGN was acquired by News Corp in 2005 for $650 million.

File:RobReid.jpgReid was the sole founder of Listen.com for which he served as CEO and Executive Chairman. Listen.com launched Rhapsody, a music streaming service, the first legal service of its kind. Rhapsody was bought by RealNetworks in 2003 and Reid continued to serve as one of its vice presidents until MTV purchased it for $230 million.

Year Zero is one of the funniest, scariest, weirdest science fiction novels I’ve ever read — up there with Jasper Fforde and the great Douglas Adams and certainly the only book of its kind that includes footnotes. Which are hilarious too.

The scary part of the novel is not the story but how it mirrors the realities of the music business.

The music business is very scary.

It turns out that Earth is the only planet in the universe that can create music worth listening to. It is not merely the best music in the universe. For all practical purpose, it is the only music.

Other worlds have made something that had been called music, until the discovery of Earth’s music. From the moment our music was heard by the highly advanced sentient cosmos, there was no turning back. The year of the discovery of Earth’s music was Year Zero, the dawn of a new era for every planet in every galaxy everywhere. It also signaled the probable end of life on Earth unless some legal loophole could be found in our insanely punitive copyright laws.

If not, the combined amount of money owed to Earth’s music corporations would be so monumental it would bankrupt the universe. Unable to pay the bill yet obligated by inter-galactic law to pay it, the easier choice would be to destroy Earth, eliminating the problem and de facto, canceling the debt.

Whether or not you will find the book as fascinating and funny as I did is probably a matter of what you find funny, but it totally killed me. No one knows the intricacies of the law and the music biz better than Rob Reid.

Did I mention the footnotes? They are even funnier than the text.

Humans are oddly heroic, each in his or her own way. People rise to the occasion. The aliens are deliciously bizarre and some of them also rise … or fall … to the occasion. The combination of real law and the idiocy of the situation is the stuff that makes you read and laugh, then read and laugh some more.

Although Year Zero is every bit as weird as any of Douglas Adams’ books to which it has been compared, the strangeness of the story is based on real facts. The “facts” are so odd, you have to sit there and let your jaw flap a bit.

Taking into consideration the world in which we are living, this book makes more sense than it used to … if anything makes sense at all.

Douglas Adams created the Improbability Drive from his imagination. Rob Reid only has to quote laws that exist which are as crazy as whatever you might imagine. Right now, nothing seems as scary as life. But I digress.

I loved this book. I have read it half a dozen times and I think maybe I’ll read it again. Like, today maybe. I bought the audiobook too and listened to it a few times. I’ll probably read that more also. Some books are worth memorizing.

There is no sequel. It’s the only novel Rob Reid wrote (well, he recently wrote something else, but it was awful and I try not to mention it). He has written other non-fiction books including Architects of the Web about Silicon Valley, and Year One about life as a student at Harvard Business School.

This is a great, fun, science fiction book. Give it a read.

If nothing else, you’ll learn everything you never wanted to know about the music business. Right now, reading about music seems a great idea to me. A million percent better than the news.

A WOMAN’S RIGHT TO LIVE – Marilyn Armstrong

One-Liner Wednesday — Women’s Rights

I remember the awful days before legalized abortion. When women’s jobs were listed separately in the paper. When the first question you got asked on a job interview was “How fast can you type,” and the second was “Who will take care of your child if he or she is sick?”

When contraception was nearly impossible and a lot of it hadn’t even been invented, so no matter how hard you tried, you could end up pregnant anyway. We fought a lonely battle to retain control over our own bodies.

We won. I was sure we won, didn’t we?

Roe V. Wade put an end to getting abortions in a back room somewhere. Right?

pro-choice-advert

I remember backroom abortions performed with chlorine bleach, coat hangers, and turkey basters. When sepsis or perforation of your uterus was not an unusual price to pay to end a pregnancy and as likely as not ended in death for both the fetus and you. When young women, unable to obtain an abortion threw themselves off bridges rather than have an unwanted baby, or tried to abort themselves, with terminal results for mother and child.

Despite conservative backlash and brainwashing on this issue, and despite the current frenzy in Washington DC, having an abortion was not and is not a sign one is irresponsible or anti-life. It’s a choice to have a good life when the alternative is at its best, bleak. These frenzy has been going on for my entire life. I’m 72 and women have been fighting this battle since before I was born.

suffragettes

Women have abortions for all kinds of reasons, including a desire to be more than a mother.

Physical health. The welfare of living children. The basic need to survive. A career that leaves no time to properly care for a child. The lack of a career that makes it possible to bear and raise children in a life that is not squalor.

Meanwhile, these so-called men are trying to stop a woman’s access to abortion are simultaneously determined to keep women from getting effective birth control, a weird set of beliefs that no matter how hard I try to make sense of it, doesn’t make any sense. And the worst part of the “pro-life” movement is that these same people care nothing about what kind of life this not-yet-a-person will lead following birth. They only care about being born, not about living. Squalor is fine, abortion or even birth control is not.


This is not “pro-life.” On every level, it is “anti-woman.”

This has little to do with preserving life. It’s about power. Isn’t it always?

Getting women back to their position of subjugation so old white men can own the world. They already control most of its assets, so let’s finally get those pesky women back where they belong.

It has always been about that.

So many women my age went through an abortion. Were we happy about it? No, but we weighed our options, then did what we felt was our best (only) choice.


The most significant gains in personal freedom women
have won are at risk. If we don’t speak up, speak out,
and stand together, we will lose it all.

I never imagined that I would have to fight this battle AGAIN. I remember my friends looking for someone to perform an abortion, terrified of the consequences, but even more terrified of what their lives would become should they be required to go full term with pregnancy.

I am many years past child-bearing. This is about women. All women. Whether or not we are fully equal in this world, this nation — and have the right to decide what happens or is done to our bodies.

If there is a right to life involved, how about the right of women to have a good life, to bear the number of children we want from none to many.


No one wants an abortion, but sometimes, you need one.

No woman should be forced to bear children.

This is a position I have held since I was very young and before I’d ever had sex. If you don’t own a uterus (and never did), you have no right to be part of this conversation. As a person who will never carry or bear a child– or even be responsible for those you had a part in creating, what right have you to speak on the matter? Old, childless men who want to force women to be baby machines are particularly loathsome.

I had an abortion. It wasn’t a “real” abortion because it was too early to even be sure it was a fetus. That was before tests made it possible to determine whether or not you were pregnant until pregnancy at least 8 weeks advanced. I had a husband in the hospital with cancer, a young child, a career just getting off the ground, and issues in the marriage that would later end with divorce. There was no way we could survive a new baby. Not to mention significant genetic issues that still haunt the family into new generations.

I am horrified by these people and their cruelty. Disgusted, revolted and sickened. I do not care who knows it.

#1linerWeds – One-Liner Wednesday and yes, this is way too long, but this is a big issue for me and always has been. I cannot keep this funny. It isn’t funny.

PRONE TO READING THE MUELLER REPORT – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Prone

I had other plans for the day … and then I saw that the Mueller Report – redactions and all — was out. While I was prone to go grocery shopping, this changed everything for me. Garry is reading it. I am reading it.

If you have the time, read at least the first 8 pages (after the table of contents which, unfortunately, it not live). You’ll need to do a lot of scrolling and you might want to enlarge the type because it’s really tiny.

Redactions and all, it may not show Trump as an intentional criminal. It does show him as an incredible fool and about as “ready” to be president as my dog Duke.

Come to think of it, I believe Duke would make a much better president.

I also have a funny feeling that our government is going after social media, especially Google, Facebook, and Instagram … but WordPress played a big role in this mess, too. Read as much of it as you can. It’s heavy-duty stuff, so you are going to want to do it in pieces.

After you read pieces of it, you will find yourself prone and unable to breathe.

Holy moly! What a mess!