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Archive for the month “April, 2015”

Comic Books, Geek Life, and Trademark & Copyright Law Pod Cast

Anthony Verna, Esquire, a reputable copyright lawyer in New York, is the host of a podcast called The Law and Business Podcast (you can find it here).  He recently had me on as a guest on his podcast to talk about the various intellectual property issues surrounding comic books and movies based in comic books.  This seems especially relevant as the enormous blockbuster Avengers: Age of Ultron is about to be released in theaters this coming weekend.  I get the feeling that I was asked onto this podcast because I am such a huge comic book nerd as opposed to any legal expertise, but be that as it may I really enjoyed my time and I think we covered a lot of interesting topics, both legal and nerdy!

You can listen to (and hopefully enjoy!) the podcast here.

Suit Challenges Prayer and Bible Readings At School Board Meetings

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

“The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed suit last week against a California school board challenging the practice of prayer and Bible readings at school board meetings.  The complaint (full text) in Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. v. Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Education, (CD CA, filed 11/13/2014), alleges:

The Chino Valley School Board … begins each meeting with a prayer. Indeed the meetings resemble a church service more than a school board meeting, complete with Bible readings by the Board members, Bible quotations by Board members, and other statements by Board members promoting the Christian religion.”

You can learn more about this issue here.

Can Landlords Discriminate Against Criminal Tenants?

Most people recoil at the idea of discriminating against people and probably just as many presume that existing laws prohibit discrimination. What many do not realize is that the laws against discrimination, for the most part, only cover those in so-called “protected classes.” The typical protected classes are, as one may expect, based on race, gender, national origin, religion, age (over 40), and disability. Needless to say, it is unlawful for a landlord to discriminate against prospective tenants on the basis of any of these. Aside from these protected classes, can a landlord discriminate in choosing his or her tenants on the basis of other reasons?

Obviously, a landlord generally wants to create a safe environment for his or her tenants and the others who live in the vicinity of the landlord’s property. Although seemingly responsible, may a landlord attempt to achieve the goal of safety by discriminating against potential tenants on the basis of their criminal records? As criminals or former criminals are not among those within the protected classes described above, discrimination against people with criminal records is legal.

Of course, if a landlord elects to establish checking potential tenants’ criminal backgrounds as part of his or her vetting process, he or she must do so for all applicants. In other words, the landlord cannot check the criminal backgrounds of black applicants while opting not to check the criminal backgrounds of white applicants.

Finally, it should be noted that the Department of Housing and Urban Development has established a new rule regarding policies that have disparate discriminatory effect on a protected class. A landlord will be in violation of the Fair Housing Act if he or she enacts a policy that has a disparate discriminatory impact on a protected class, even if that policy is seemingly lawful on its face. For example, if a landlord enacted a policy that prohibited all tenants from covering their faces when entering the building, it might be considered a violation of the Fair Housing Act because it had a disparate discriminatory effect on Muslims.

In sum, landlords, at this point, may legally use criminal backgrounds to exclude applicants as part of their vetting process when choosing from potential tenants as long as they apply the same standards to all of their applicants, as discrimination against former criminals is not yet an unlawful form of discrimination.

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

Nuns Volunteering For Red Cross Were Not “Employees” Under Title VII

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

“In Marie v. American Red Cross, (6th Cir., Nov. 14, 2014), the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Title VII as well as 1st and 14th Amendment claims by two Catholic nuns who were dismissed from their long-time volunteer positions as disaster relief workers for the American Red Cross and the Ross County (Ohio) Emergency Management Agency.  The court rejected plaintiffs’ Title VII religious discrimination claims because ‘their volunteer relationship does not fairly approximate employment and is not covered by Title VII.”‘

You can learn more about this issue here.

Yes: where have you seen them?

[Updated on August 6, 2018]

I have posted a list of Yesshows I have seen a little while ago, which you can see here.  As you can see, I have seen Yes 26 times so far and in a variety of places since 1994.  Over the course of these years and shows, I have seen Yes in a variety of places, which I have decided to list here categorized by location.

As you can see my range of travel to these shows is to so far nine venues near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  If the band tours and does not come to Philadelphia, I try to go to the nearest venue within reasonable driving distance, which is why I went to shows in Allentown, Atlantic City, and Bethlehem.

Where all have you seen Yes?  Share your stories in the comments section!

Distributism Basics: Distributism vs. Christian Socialism

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

“One reaction to this Distributism Basics series is that a particular group of commenters has asserted that their economic and political theories are so close to distributism as to make them virtually indistinguishable. In various ways, they have assured me that, if I would only read the writings explaining their views, I would be left scratching my head wondering what separates them from my own. Is this true? Is distributism just another name for what others call “Christian socialism?”

Because this assertion is that distributism and Christian socialism are essentially the same, I’ve decided that this specific claim needs to be addressed as an addition to the more general explanation of the incompatibility of distributism and socialism I previously published. Therefore, even though this article has been written after the rest of this series, I am inserting it after the previous article on socialism, and it should be considered the third in the series.”

You can learn more about this issue here.



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


Recently I toured the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, and I really enjoyed it. Its concept is very different from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. The National Museum had exhibits featuring the lifestyle and culture of Jewish people who immigrated to America, starting in the 1700’s. It brought back memories of my parents and their relatives and friends, who immigrated to America after World War II having survived years in concentration camps during the Holocaust, and started new lives here. Everyone was poor, but they worked hard to improve their lives, and they banded together to improve their friends’ lives too.

Of particular interest were the displays of the tenement house living conditions on the East Coast. People were crammed into living spaces that were much smaller than any of the Kardashian sisters’ closets. Many people shared small living spaces and bathrooms, and then…

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Army Studying Religious Requirement for ROTC Prof At Christian College

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

“Fox News reported yesterday that the U.S. Army is conducting a review of its ROTC policies after a question was raised as to whether Wheaton College, a Christian school, can require that its lead professor of military science be of the Christian faith. The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which complained to the Army, contends that the Army cannot impose a religious test for an assignment.”

You can learn more about this issue here.

It’s Time for a Revolution II

Ken Kastle is a parishioner with me at our church St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church in Abington, PA. He writes a blog called “Looking at Things Through My Eyes.” Mr. Kastle has had a long career in education and often views his politics as I do, so I often find his blog posts compelling. Below is one of the posts to his blog, enjoy!

Looking At Things Thru My Eyes

Here is an example of what has happened to public education in this country over the last several decades and the disdain that has been shown for the country’s education profession.

U.S. Secretaries of Education

Shirley Hufstedler (1979-1981): Attorney

Terrell Bell (1981-1984): Educator

William J. Bennett (1985-1988): Attorney

Lauro F. Cavazos (1988-1990): Zoologist and Physiologist

Lamar Alexander (1991-1993): Attorney

Richard W. Riley (1993-2000): Attorney

Roderick Paige (2001-2005):  Educator

Margaret Spellings (2005-2009): Political Scientist

Arne Duncan (2009-    ): Sociologist and the President’s basketball partner (see “Arne Duncan, Basketball Star” at http://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2014/02/17/arne-duncan-basketball-star

Is there any other profession in which only two of the past nine  national leaders of the profession (22%) were members of the profession itself? Can you imagine the president of the American Medical Association’s being an attorney? Can you imagine the president of the American Bar Association’s being a doctor?

It’s time for a revolution.

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Yes Concert Review: 6/15/10

Here is another addition to my series of Yes music posts.  I started this series here and you can read the others here.

I saw the progressive rock band Yes play at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania on June 15, 2010 during the fourh part of their In the Present Tour.  You can read more about this show herePeter Frampton was the opening act.

The line-up Yes fielded at this show was:

The set Yes played was (the album from which the song comes in parenthesis):


This was my fourth time seeing this Yes line-up and my fourth show during this tour.  Unfortunately, although the tour lasted for about two years, the set list varied very little.  So, while I was really excited to hear rarities like “Tempus Fugit” and “Onward” in 2008, I was hoping they would have shaken things up by 2010.  Indeed, the tour had gone on so long by this point, the Roger Dean stage set they had been using had been abandoned due to its suffering wear and tear.

This was also my fourth of six shows I would see with David as lead vocalist.  You can read my comments about other David shows here and here and here.  This show really was the tipping point for David and the band.  The 2008 and 2009 shows were really good featuring great performances (even if David’s stage presence is a little goofy) and the February 2010 was good, but this show really revealed a band on the decline.  David’s voice started to weaken by this point as he really could not hold up under the strain of touring with Yes in the long term.  His singing was often off key and his voice was noticeably strained, sometimes even horse, at times.  To help compensate, the band started slowing down the tempo of many of their songs to help him breathe through the lyrics and not injure his voice further.   Also, politically speaking, Yes knew replacing founding, and much beloved, front man Jon Anderson was a very controversial decision with the fans, especially since it came on the heels of Anderson’s health problems which made the band look cold and unfeeling toward their old band mate.  Yes toured a lot, with a cool and interesting set, with David in order to try and get the fans used to this new Anderson-less Yes and to attempt to secure some authenticity or legitimacy among the fans.  So, I suspect that ditching their new singer less than two years after ignominiously reforming without Anderson would make the band look even worse in the eyes of the fans, and not to mention mismanaged and making impulsive and ill-conceived decisions.

So, they stuck with David as long as they could and, I would say, longer than they should have as their sound with a declining David, in my opinion, had a worse effect on the fans than firing David for someone more qualified.  While I appreciate what the band was trying to do, slowing down the songs really diminished the quality of the music.  Yes music is dynamic, exciting, and virtuoso.  Slowing it down really takes a lot away from the music and, quite frankly, makes the band appear old and tired.  I cannot say that the instrumentalists did not play well, as they always do, it is just that playing through the music slower than usual is not what Yes music is to sound like.

Finally, Wakeman’s keyboard playing became really boring at this point.  I completely understood trying to replicate the album sounds and playing for the first couple of legs of this tour.  It helped acclimate fans to the new line up and to assure them that this is the same Yes as always.  Unfortunately, this far into their touring, Wakeman’s keyboard parts seemed boring, unimaginative, and formulaic.  Yes fans, while they have respect for the source material, expect new musicians to put their stamp onto the music and Wakeman simply was not doing that.

Overall, I have to be honest, from a subjective point of view I enjoyed the show because I love Yes and I love Yes music and I am happy I went to it.  Indeed, even though they had played them other times on the tour, “Tempus Fugit” and “Onward” are still very rare to see live.  From an objective point of view this show was good because Yes music is good and was well performed, but it really showed a band in decline and revealed slower tempos, weak vocals, and boring keyboards.  I would not necessarily tell my wife this – who gets annoyed with my annual Yes pilgrimage – but this is a show I probably could have skipped as, after having seen it, I left a little disappointed and concerned for the band’s future.

Photographs: Enjoy the photographs I took at the show posted below!

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