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Archive for the month “March, 2018”

Check Your Condescension

Every now and again I come across a fantastic article the warrants posting here; I recently came across one in Splice Today by my old philosophy professor Dr. Crispin Sartwell from back in my Penn State days which, I thought, was pretty insightful. Be edified.


Nothing could be more obvious than the effects of our brainless political polarization on our media behavior.

I’m concerned about Russian and other meddling in the American political system. I’d rather not have hostile forces hacking and releasing people’s emails, probing voting-machine systems and voter rolls, directing American candidates on foreign policy in exchange for hotel contracts, and so on. But I’m not that worried about Russian advertising on Facebook.

First, “social media” has become a ubiquitous non-explanation for all phenomena, and second, “social media” has become a decade-long amorphous moral panic. What explains world Islamic terrorism? “Social media.” The problems of all teenagers in the world, and the decline of our youth? It’s Instagram, I guess. Now leftists and “experts” want to blame SM for the election of Donald Trump. They want to spend the next couple of years raking Mark Zuckerberg over the coals. Really, they’re just pounding out the very messages and making the same moral mistakes (call them collectively by the name “elitism”) that did, in fact, lose them the election.

Let me ask you who are bemoaning the fact that some voters in Wisconsin were “exposed to” messages such as SATAN: “IF I WIN CLINTON WINS”: are you concerned that you were successfully manipulated by Russian memes? Or do you think that, in an environment where you have very many possible sources of information and are constantly bombarded, you could’ve been? For example, let’s say your news feed the night before the election featured accusations that Hillary Clinton was a murderer. Do you think that could’ve made you vote for Trump?

None of the punditocracy, or the professoriate, for example, is concerned about their own sources of information, or their own manipulability, though they ought to be. They’re concerned about the great unwashed, the ignorant, manipulated dolts who populate flyover America. The fact that these people are dolts is shown by their political disagreement with New York Times columnists, MSNBC hosts, and psychology professors. The experts demand the implementation of greater controls over the flow of information to these chumps, whether it’s through prescribing pre-school curricula or editing their Twitter feeds.

How to control the information available to “working-class white people” has been the dominant theme of lefty self-reflection on their election loss, or rather the dominant theme of their prodigious efforts to avoid self-reflection. One form of their sneering concern on behalf of their opponents is the ubiquitous trope of the “post-truth era.” The post-truth era is without gatekeepers, an era in which the quasi-progressive technocracy has lost control of the information flow. On the other hand, it never had control in the first place.

When people start talking about the “post-truth era,” they mean an era in which they’re aware of the truth, but in which their opponents believe a bunch of bullshit. They’re engaged in historiographical periodization or metaphysics or sociology; they’re simply hurling insults. Or rather, this whole brand of discourse is aimed above all at self-congratulation, which might be termed the God of American technocratic leftism. Perhaps that’s unfair; after all, it’s also the God of the left in the UK.

We all basically understand how Americans consume advertising and social media feeds, categories which substantially overlap. We see hundreds or thousands of items every day. Our obvious default is to skip right over them, or to cock a cynical eyebrow at them. If we responded much to most stuff like that, we’d never do anything else. Perhaps you’ve seen ads for Xarelto dozens of times. Closer to trying to buy some? It’s the same in rural Michigan. If there’s one thing that Americans understand, it’s advertising.

Furthermore, nothing could be more obvious than the effects of our brainless political polarization on our media behavior; everybody wants to see whatever confirms them in their group membership, especially expressions of hatred for the other side. It’s not even that you necessarily believe a particular rumor or wild “news” story, for example, but you gleefully pass it on because of its community-building effect. Indeed, memes for the most part are neither true nor false, just nasty or funny juxtapositions of words and images, like political cartoons though that thing about Satan and Hillary has a certain plausibility.

We hardly need the FSB to create divisive memes, and I’d like to know what tiny percentage of such things, circulating around election time, emerged from foreign propaganda operations. For God’s sake this is quite the same on both sides, only Democratic types don’t appear to see that about themselves. Before you come to us trying to heal society with condescension, I prescribe a decade of withering self-reflection.

At any rate, when the experts and the columnists start describing how they were also manipulated into a change of views or voting habits by nasty memes, then I’ll take them seriously. Really, it’s an application of the golden rule; you might extend to others your account of yourself; you might want to try to take each of them as seriously as you take yourself as a thinking human being. If you don’t, you can hardly expect them to listen to you, or indeed not to despise you right back.

By Crispin Sartwell, published in Splice Today, and can be found here.


Yessource: Live in Binghamton, 6/18/94

Here are my latest uploads to YesSource, my Yes rarities youtube page (about which you can read here).  This post is another addition to my series of Yes music posts and a collection of all my Yes-related posts is here.  Yes, of course, is a, if not the, premier progressive rock band, and I am an enormous fan of it.

You can see all of my Yessource uploads here.

My latest YesSource uploads can be found here:

Don’t Like An Award From Compulsory Arbitration? You Must Appeal

Can a party to a case where a judgment has been entered in compulsory arbitration have that judgment modified without appealing? This is the underlying question in the recent matter heard by the Pennsylvania Superior Court, captioned as Blucas v. Agiovlasitis, 2018 Pa.Super. 25.

In Blucas, tenants brought suit against their former landlord for the return of their security deposit. The landlord, of course, claimed the leasehold had damages for which he incurred expenses and he needed compensation/reimbursement from the tenants.

The case was tracked into compulsory arbitration pursuant to 42 Pa.C.S.A. Section 7361. After a hearing before a panel of arbitrators, a judgment was entered awarding the tenants $10,000 and the landlord $1,450, for a net award to the tenants of $8,550.

Pursuant to Pa.R.C.P. 1307 and established case law, the entry of an award following compulsory arbitration has the force and effect of a final judgment. The court contrasted an award flowing from compulsory arbitration with one following statutory or common law arbitration. Unlike an award from compulsory arbitration, a party must petition the trial court to confirm an award from statutory or common law arbitration 30 days or more following the date of the award. For an award from compulsory arbitration neither party must file a præcipe to enter judgment on the award.

In July 2016, an award and notice of the same was entered on the docket in this matter, and was final (unless appealed). A judgment on the award was entered in November 2016. Within less than two weeks following the entry of the judgment in Blucas, the landlord remitted a check to the tenants for the full amount of the judgment ($8,550). Pursuant to Pa.R.C.P. 1307, a party must file an appeal within 30 days from when the award and notice are entered on the docket in order to further litigate the matter. No appeal was ever filed. Instead of appealing, the tenants, in April 2017, filed a motion for costs and prejudgment interest (motion) requesting a recalculation of the award.

The court reviewed the various case, statutory, and procedural laws applicable to the instant matter, and unequivocally concluded that the sole remedy for an adverse or unsatisfactory compulsory arbitration award is an appeal within 30 days from the award and notice. The only exception to the above the court could discern is Pa.R.C.P. 1307(d), which provides for a means to “mold” a previously entered award for obvious errors, in either arithmetic or language, that do not go to the substance and/or merits of the award.

The tenants’ motion did not address basic errors in arithmetic and language but, rather, asked the trial court to award them additional damages in prejudgment interest and costs. Inexplicably, and without citing support, the trial court granted the tenants’ motion, which led to the landlord’s appeal to Pennsylvania Superior Court, resulting in the decision, cited above, that is the subject of this article.

Superior Court noted that the motion did not comply with the law and procedure cited above.  The motion clearly is not an example of “molding.” More importantly, it was not filed within 30 days of the award.  The trial court was unclear as to precisely how it calculated the award and what the figures in the award exactly represented (e.g., interest and costs? security deposit? pet deposit? etc.). As a result, there is no way for Superior Court to even attempt to “mold” the award regarding prejudgment interest, even if it could. Consequently, as the tenants did not file an appeal of the compulsory arbitration award, the trial court was without authority to attempt to revisit the award with regard to prejudgment interest.

As always, it is absolutely critical for practitioners to be totally cognizant of the applicable deadlines and time periods mandated by law or procedure and act accordingly to ensure compliance with the same and opportunity to litigate a matter as fully as possible.

Originally published in The Legal Intelligencer on March 19, 2018 and can be found here.

New Jersey Court Invalidates Capital Grants To 2 Religious Colleges

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

In American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey v. Hendricks(NJ App., May 26. 2016), a New Jersey state appellate court held that grants to two religious colleges for capital improvements violate the provision in the New Jersey Constitution, Art. I, Sec. 3, that bars taxation “for building or repairing any church or churches, place or places of worship, or for the maintenance of any minister or ministry….” The Department of Higher Education had awarded two grants totaling over $10 million to a Jewish school, Beth Medrash Govoha, and three grants totaling $645,323 to Princeton Theological Seminary. The court said that a 1978 New Jersey Supreme Court ruling interpreting Art. I, Sec. 8 compelled it to conclude that these grants of public funds were invalid. NJ.com reports on the decision.

You can learn more about this issue here.


Appeals Court Upholds Saturday Murder Trial Despite Defendant’s Religious Objection

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

In State v. Victor2016 La. App. LEXIS 1030 (LA App., May 26, 2016), a Louisiana state appeals court held that defendant’s free exercise rights were not violated when the court refused to adjourn his second degree murder trial on Saturday, which defendant claimed was his Sabbath.  Defendant was on trial for the murder of his 8-year old stepson who died after a severe beating that was allegedly administered as discipline for stealing ice cream. In upholding on compelling interest grounds the trial court’s refusal to adjourn for Saturday, the appeals court said in part:

the record reflects that the trial judge carefully considered defendant’s concerns as well as his delay in raising this issue, including his failure to object when the prospective jury was advised numerous times of the possibility that they would be required to work on Saturday, his lack of a specific religious affiliation or particular church membership, the unavailability of the State’s key expert witness the following week, and “the justice system as a whole,” in denying defendant’s request not to hold trial on Saturday.

You can learn more about this issue here.

Joe Arcieri Songs: Hall of Fame

Joe Arcieri is a friend of mine who I worked with for many years during my ten years working for Acme Markets.  Joe, when not stocking milk or saving lives as a nurse, is an excellent guitar player.  I have had the privilege, from time to time, of (badly) plunking my bass guitar with Joe as he melts a face or two with a great solo.

As great musicians do, Joe has written some of his own songs and keeps a soundcloud site to post them.  When I have opportunity, I will post his music here as well.

Here is his composition called “Hall of Fame” which you can find here.

Here are the links to the previously posted songs by Joe:

A Collection of Traffic Law Writings by James W. Cushing

Over the course of my career, I have written extensively on traffic law.  These writings have been published in The Legal IntelligencerUpon Further Review, and The Pennsylvania Family Lawyer as well as posted onto my blog.  I have collected these articles and blog posts and have listed them below.  Thanks for reading!


Blog Posts:

Yessource: Talk Premier Party in LA on 3/16/94

Here are my latest uploads to YesSource, my Yes rarities youtube page (about which you can read here).  This post is another addition to my series of Yes music posts and a collection of all my Yes-related posts is here.  Yes, of course, is a, if not the, premier progressive rock band, and I am an enormous fan of it.

You can see all of my Yessource uploads here.

My latest YesSource uploads can be found here:

Ecclesiastical Abstention Doctrine Leads To Dismissal of Consumer Fraud Complaint Against Cemetery

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

In Mammon v. SCI Funeral Services of Florida, Inc., (FL App., May 25, 2016), a Florida appellate court invoked the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine to dismiss a consumer fraud complaint against a cemetery brought by a widow who claimed that the cemetery gave false assurances that her late husband would be buried in accordance with Jewish burial customs and traditions. A month after her husband was buried, the widow discovered that the cemetery allowed non-Jews to be buried in the same section of the cemetery, a practice which she alleged violated Jewish burial traditions. Defendants however cited theological debates among rabbis on whether there are exceptions to the ban. The court held that:

although the widow’s complaint is framed in counts alleging deceptive and fraudulent misrepresentations regarding “Jewish burial customs and traditions,” the disposition of those counts cannot be accomplished without first determining, as a matter of fact, what constitutes “Jewish burial customs and traditions.” *** That preliminary determination would violate the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine.

You can learn more about this issue here.

Yessource: Yes Album Symphonic Music of Yes

Here are my latest uploads to YesSource, my Yes rarities youtube page (about which you can read here).  This post is another addition to my series of Yes music posts and a collection of all my Yes-related posts is here.  Yes, of course, is a, if not the, premier progressive rock band, and I am an enormous fan of it.

You can see all of my Yessource uploads here.

My latest YesSource uploads can be found here:

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