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Archive for the month “January, 2015”

Ministers Can Continue Using the Housing Allowance Per Court Ruling

This is from anglicansablaze.blogspot.com which you can find here:

“A federal appeals court has upheld the tax provision that allows ministers of all faiths to continue receiving housing allowances. As many had predicted, the court rejected an atheist group’s lawsuit seeking to strike down the law that had been in effect for 60 years.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago said the atheist group lacked standing, the legal right to sue, because they were not seeking an allowance for themselves. The court panel did not address the constitutionality of the housing allowance since the plaintiffs did not legally qualify to bring the suit.”

You can learn more about this issue here.

Rick Wakeman live, 10/29/03: Recollection and Photographs

This post is part of my series of posts that are something of a retrospective of my concert experiences.  This time, I am going to highlight the Rick Wakeman concert I saw on October 29, 2003 at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Rick Wakeman is a world class keyboard player probably most famous for his work as a member of the progressive rock band Yes.  In the early 2000s Wakeman was not in Yes and intermittently toured a solo show which interspersed his work with Yes, his solo work, cover songs/pieces, his session musician work (that he originally performed with, among others, the likes of Cat Stevens, David Bowie, Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath) and, would you believe, some stand up comedy, mainly in the form of him telling hilarious stories from his career as a world-traveling rock musician.  A show from this series of shows has been captured on the DVD The Legend (Live in Concert 2000).  A good review of the show I attended has been preserved on Rick Wakeman’s website here.

I attended this concert with my girlfriend, who is now my wife, who joined me for this show among a handful of others during this time (this being her last), and I can honestly say that I think she actually and genuinely enjoyed this show (which cannot be said for some of the other shows she attended with me).  I think she liked it because Wakeman is such a great showman and a personally hilarious person; she is also impressed by good piano playing.

His stage setting was very simple.  One the left side (from my point of view in the audience) he had a large grand piano with a large candelabra on it like Liberace used to do.  On the right side was a wedge of four keyboards.

I did not really know what to expect from this show.  I did not get the DVD referred to above until after this concert.  Obviously, I knew to expect a lot of keyboard playing but, quite honestly, I was not sure how long I could remain interested in listening/hearing simply solo keyboard work beyond maybe for 30 or 45 minutes.  I think Wakeman may be cognizant of this which may be why he added a comedy routine into his shows.  Wakeman is known for being funny, and has a quick dry wit, and he was able to translate that to the stage for a truly funny routine (see here for an example of his comedy; he told this story when I saw him).  His comedy portions helped flesh out the show, provide interesting insights into his music and career, and break up the potential monotony of simply playing keyboard piece after keyboard piece.  Wakeman also included a couple of other fun tid bits.  After the intermission, he re-entered the theater wearing a full K.G.B. uniform he acquired playing a rare show in the Soviet Union.  He also had some audience participation by choosing some random woman to help him play chords in a piece in a funny and goofy way.

He played a good spread of the music he helped create over his career, all arranged (or rearranged) for a solo keyboard player.  He played a fair share of Yes songs.  He played a variety of his own solo material.  He reworked nursery rhymes in the style of famous composers and played some cover songs.  He also played some things from his days as a successful session musician.  The one that sticks in my memory is “Morning Has Broken.”  “Morning Has Broken” is a Christian hymn famously reworked into a hit song by Cat Stevens in 1972 (you can hear it here).  Unbeknownst to many, Rick Wakeman was the piano player on Stevens’ version of the hymn.  Surprisingly (at least to me) was that Wakeman was more than just a hired gun for Stevens, but actually helped arrange the version of the hymn that became such a huge hit.  According to Wakeman, when Stevens first recorded the hymn he discovered that it only lasted about a minute and a half (a single should be at least three minutes in length).  Searching for ideas to lengthen it, Stevens turned to Wakeman to write a piano introduction to the hymn, which Wakeman promptly did in the studio. The introduction added a few more seconds which prompted Stevens to have Wakeman play variations on the introduction as an interlude between verses and conclusion to the hymn.  Wakeman then suggested to repeat a verse.  After Wakeman’s suggestions and piano work were inserted, the hymn reached (and slightly exceed) the three minutes needed for it to become a viable single.  As the story goes, Wakeman waited for his modest check for his session work (which amounted to about $12), but it never came.  The hymn became a big hit for Stevens who, as a result, wanted to play it on tour and, accordingly, asked Wakeman for the sheet music for his piano parts.  Wakeman refused due to not being paid for his work in the studio with Stevens and, apparently, Wakeman has never produced it to anyone, let alone Stevens, as he, to this day, still has not been paid for his work on the hymn.  Just to add some melodrama to the show that is the subject of this post, Wakeman pushed his piano on stage in such a way so as you could not see his fingers from the point of view of the audience.  You can hear Wakeman tell this story in his own words here and a more comprehensive version can be heard here.

I took some photographs from the show which are below.  There was a “meet and greet” after the show and I got the chance to meet Wakeman, shake his hand, and get him to autograph a couple of things.  I had my photograph taken with him.  Wakeman is a pretty big guy with rather large hands!  Unfortunately, this was back in the days of film cameras, and I took my film to a drug store near my office in downtown Philadelphia for development and they lost my photographs (and negatives!) of me together with Wakeman!  Luckily my wife was there and can verify that I did, indeed, meet him!  The photographs they did not lose are posted below.

Enjoy the photographs:

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A Supreme Court Case to Watch

This is from anglicansablaze.blogspot.com which you can find here:

New York mayor Bill de Blasio campaigned on the promise of letting churches rent school space. Now he’s asking the Supreme Court to prohibit it.

When Bill de Blasio campaigned against Michael Bloomberg in 2013 to become mayor of New York City, he promised to reverse a highly contested city policy that prohibited churches from renting public schools for worship services. In response, religious voters helped de Blasio trounce his opposition with 73 percent of the vote.

But after de Blasio took office in January 2014, he didn’t make the change, even though it could be done executively. Keep reading

A Supreme Court ruling banning churches from renting school space would be a major setback for new church plants. It could be interpreted to include fire station community rooms, community centers, park shelters, and other public buildings that church plants use as meeting places.”

You can learn more about this issue here.

ASKING FOR A LITTLE RESPECT

Check out Faye Cohen’s post to her blog Toughlawyerlady!

ToughLawyerLady

As Aretha Franklin sings in her song, all of us want, need, and expect a little respect. As a lawyer, and as a frequent participant in the legal system, because I regularly appear in courts and at hearings of all types, and I am often in court and government offices doing one thing or another, I too expect a little respect. Of course, I am not the only one, as all participants in any government and court processes expect to get a little respect. Not only do they expect a little respect, but they often look toward courts and agencies as their savior in a given situation. This inclination should be controlled, as the bottom line is that all systems are operated and staffed by people and people are imperfect, people often have their own agendas, people are subject to influence and corruption, and people have their own lives and…

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January 2015: “The Evangelist” Newsletter from St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church, Abington, PA

The Evangelist is the monthly newsletter of St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church in Abington, Pennsylvania.  Below is the January 2015 issue of The Evangelist which you can also read here in .pdf format.

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Federal District Court Holds Humanism Is A Religion

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

“In American Humanist Association v. United States, (D OR, Oct. 30, 2014), an Oregon federal district court held that “Humanism is a religion for Establishment Clause purposes,” observing that “such a view is consistent with longstanding Supreme Court jurisprudence.” The holding comes in a case in which a federal prisoner sought recognition of Humanism so the prison would create a Humanist study group.”

You can learn more about this issue here.

Yesshows: Line Up Stats

[Update on August 17, 2017.  You can see a catalog of my Yes posts here.]

I have developed some statistics regarding the Yes concerts I have seen (see here), specifically regarding the songs I have heard by album (here) and by number (here).  As any Yes fan knows, Yes is known for it’s shifting line up.  As a result, due to the number of Yes shows I have seen, I thought it would be fun to run some numbers on what Yes line ups I have seen over the years.

To see precise information on the shows I have seen (which are mentioned below) you can do so here; all of the numbers below are derived from that post and not repeated herein.  I guess the easiest place to begin is to simply list the Yes musicians I have seen (with the years I have seen them in parenthesis) categorized by instrument:

What line ups have the above been formed into and when?

  • Squire/White/Anderson/Rabin/Kaye/ plus Sherwood: 1 time (1994)
  • Squire/White/Anderson/Howe/Khoroshev/Sherwood: 3 times (1997, 1998, 1999)
  • Squire/White/Anderson/Howe/Khoroshev: 1 time (2000)
  • Squire/White/Anderson/Howe, plus Brislin and Orchestra: 1 time (2001)
  • Squire/White/Anderson/Howe/R. Wakeman: 4 times (2002 (2), 2004 (2))
  • Squire/White/David/Howe/O. Wakeman: 5 times (2008, 2009, 2010 (2), 2011 (1st))
  • Squire/White/David/Howe/Downes: 1 time (2011 (2nd))
  • Squire/White/Davison/Howe/Downes: 4 times (2012, 2013 (2), 2014)
  • Sherwood/White/Davison/Howe/Downes: 1 time (2015)
  • Sherwood/Davison/Howe/Downes/Schellen: 1 time (2016 (1st one))
  • Pomeroy/Molino/Anderson/Rabin/Wakeman (2016 (2nd one))
  • Sherwood/Davison/Howe/Downes/White/D. Howe (2017 (1st one))

So, based on the above, I have seen 12 different Yes line ups thus far.

What Yes line ups have you seen?

‘Kids Are Resilient’ and 7 Other Lies Divorcing Parents Should Stop Believing

Every now and again Yahoo posts an article that I find really good.  As it turns out they posted one this week entitled “‘Kids are Resilient and 7 Other Lies Divorcing Parents Should Stop Believing” which they reposted from www.yourtango.com.

As a family (e.g.: divorce and custody) lawyer I found this piece confirmatory of the things I have seen in my practice over the years and, indeed, have heard each of these “seven lies” countless times over those years.  Of course, I approach these issues from a Christian perspective as well and, unsurprisingly, all of these “lies” run contrary to Christian teaching as well.  Indeed, it is refreshing to see what appears to be an entirely secular article, written without any apparent religious overtones, totally confirm what Christians have been saying for centuries.  Maybe secular science and sociology and other such fields will finally catch up to the Church after all?

Here is an excerpt from the article which you can find here:
“As a former divorce mediator, and current couples and family mediator, I have heard every excuse that parents use to feel better about breaking up their family. In this article, I’ve outlined several of the most common lies that you might be telling yourself if you’re considering divorce. Before you believe them, or give up on your marriage, you might want to check out my Marriage SOS book series and do some serious soul-searching.”

Is Working on the Sidelines Out of Bounds for UC?

As the economy remains precarious, unemployment compensation benefits remain vital to keeping many Pennsylvanians afloat. Of course, many applicants for unemployment compensation benefits attempt to make ends meet by doing some sort of job on the side, such as flea marketing or landscaping on the weekends for a few dollars here and there. The issue the courts have struggled with is attempting to determine whether that flea marketer or landscaper is an independent contractor or merely engaged in a sideline activity.

Under Pennsylvania unemployment compensation law, an independent contractor is considered to be self-employed and, therefore, ineligible for unemployment compensation benefits. An independent contractor is generally someone who is free from the control or direction of an employer but, rather, works for himself or herself. As the independent contractor is not an employee, he or she is ineligible for benefits if no further work is available under his or her contracts. The issue, of course, is that someone who works at a sideline activity is also similarly free from the control or direction of an employer. Would that person be similarly ineligible for benefits? The courts have generally indicated that engaging in a sideline activity does not render one ineligible for benefits, but the precise definition of what constitutes a sideline activity is still being developed.

The primary lines of distinction between independent contracting and a sideline activity include when the activity was first undertaken and whether someone is “customarily engaged” in the activity per the language of 43 P.S. Section 753(l)(2)(B) defining “employment.” The courts have ruled that earning money or engaging in a money-making enterprise for a few hours per week or month does not necessarily equate to independent contracting. The question is, after findings of fact, whether someone could be considered “customarily engaged” in the sideline activity. In fact, it is significant to note that a potential claimant engaged in a sideline activity may even consider himself or herself an independent contractor; however, this claimant’s self-identification is irrelevant, as the analysis is exclusively based on the factual underpinnings of each case.

For example, if someone, say a truck driver, loses his job and elects to work a few hours landscaping thereafter in order to earn some money to tide him over, does that make him a contractor or engaged in a sideline activity? It all depends on whether this former truck driver is now pursuing a new business venture as a landscaper or just trying to earn a little money to scrape by before he can engage actual employment. Obviously, the analysis to determine the difference between a new business venture and sideline activity is extremely fact-intensive and focuses on the number of hours spent at the work done and the amount of investment the person makes into the work. For instance, does this former truck driver help mow his neighbor’s lawns for $20 a cut every other week, or has he established “Ryan’s Lawncare” and purchased materials and advertising toward it? It likely goes without saying that the former is a sideline activity, which would not render him ineligible for unemployment compensation benefits, while the latter would be considered establishing a business (i.e., becoming an independent contractor), rendering him ineligible for benefits.

The other relevant issue in determining whether something is independent contracting or a sideline activity is when and how the work was established. If it began while one already had an established full-time job, it is more likely to be considered a sideline activity. For example, after a few years of practice, a full-time accountant may discover he enjoys doing Web design in the evenings or on the weekends for a few hours here or there for limited compensation. Would he be considered as customarily engaged as a Web designer? The likely answer would be no, as the Web designing a few hours per week arose while he was otherwise employed as a full-time accountant as opposed to after he became unemployed from his position as an accountant. Further, the accountant’s income and time is overwhelmingly because of being an accountant and, more than likely, when asked what he does for a living, he identifies as an accountant.

Finally, it should be noted that the precise number of hours or rate of compensation is not necessarily relevant to the analysis as neither is specified by the law. Take our accountant above as an example: If his five or six hours per week of Web design expanded to 10 or 15 after he lost his job as an accountant, the Web designing would likely remain a “sideline activity” and not render him ineligible for benefits. As far as compensation is concerned, someone who works on commission and, therefore, has compensation delayed for months, perhaps weeks, could be considered employed despite having no compensation for a long period of time, as compensation is contemplated in the future for the present work.

As the cases continue to be decided on the issue, the definition of “customarily engaged” will become more refined and clear. The fact pattern of each subsequent case will further refine and crystallize what a sideline activity is and help guide potential claimants in deciding whether to undertake such an activity. Of course, before embarking on an activity that could potentially risk one’s eligibility for unemployment compensation, it is always recommended that a claimant consult with an attorney first.

Some cases on this issue that the reader may find helpful include the following: Crocker v. Unemployment Board of Review, 63 A.3d 496 (Pa.Cmwlth. 2013), Minelli v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 39 A.3d 593 (Pa.Cmwlth. 2012), and Kelly v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 840 A.2d 469 (Pa.Cmwlth. 2004).

Originally published in The Legal Intelligencer Blog on August 2, 2013 and can be viewed here.

What is the answer?

This article is part of my posts on the economic system of distributism.  This is from practicaldistributism.blogspot.com/ which you can find here:

“I sincerely recommend Mr. Pahman’s article. It not only clearly illustrates a point I have tried to make from time to time in my own articles, it takes that point a step further. It is an excellent reminder to pause the fingers poised over the keyboard. Take a moment to reflect before pounding out word after word in attack against “those systems” that stand in opposition to that which we support. Consider for a moment the people involved and the reality of the world in which they live.”

You can learn more about this issue here.

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