Friday, November 6, 2015

Fish for Friday

Maremma sheepdogs of Middle Island, Australia
Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

“Australia Deploys Sheepdogs to Help a Penguin Colony Back From the Brink.” [Austin Ramzy, NY Times] Excerpt:
“Massacred,” read the banner headline in the local newspaper — just the single word, as if describing an act of war. Below it was a photo of dead penguins and other birds, the latest casualties in Australia’s long history of imported species’ decimating native wildlife.
    Foxes killed 180 penguins in that particular episode, in October 2004. But the toll on Middle Island, off Victoria State in southern Australia, kept rising. By 2005, the small island’s penguin population, which had once numbered 800, was below 10
    Today, their numbers are back in the triple digits, and much of the credit has gone to a local chicken farmer known as Swampy Marsh and his strong-willed sheepdogs.... [read more]
Only in Australia:

Oneida community
[photo from Syracuse University Library]
This seems relevant to the last two Thor’s Day columns [on pornography and erotica]: “Group Marriage: Oneida Community.” [Peggy Payne, Novels of Sex & Spirituality blog] Excerpt:
“Because of its endearing sexual code,” it was “the merriest” of America’s 19th century utopian communities, wrote critic and memoirist Alfred Kazin.
    The name Oneida is one you may recognize as a brand of forks and spoons — if you know the name at all.
    But the original Oneida metalsmiths were a commune that preceded by more than a century the latter-day hippie free love groups.
    And the real surprise, given its sexual code of “complex marriage”: Oneida community was Christian. They called themselves Christian Perfectionists, based on the idea that as Christians they had transcended sin. [read more]
Always remember the “child” within you & laugh—often—with your whole body, being, & self! It releases endorphins & other beneficial hormones & substances to keep you in the peak of health.

Merry Cemetery - Romania

The door sign above is curiously pertinent to a 3-part series in the NY Times about the contracts by which you agree to settle disputes by private arbitration [think of those agreements you sign to apply for a credit card, use a cellphone, get cable or Internet service, or shop online]. The first part of the series is “Arbitration Everywhere, Stacking the Deck of Justice.” [Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Robert Gebeloff] Excerpt:
Some state judges have called the class-action bans a “get out of jail free” card, because it is nearly impossible for one individual to take on a corporation with vast resources.
    Patricia Rowe of Greenville, S.C., learned this firsthand when she initiated a class action against AT&T. Ms. Rowe, who was challenging a $600 fee for canceling her phone service, was among more than 900 AT&T customers in three states who complained about excessive charges, state records show. When the case was thrown out last year, she was forced to give up and pay the $600. Fighting AT&T on her own in arbitration, she said, would have cost far more.
    By banning class actions, companies have essentially disabled consumer challenges to practices like predatory lending, wage theft and discrimination, court records show. [read more]

Limerick of the week:
Writer and editor since mother’s teat,
in old age manages a weblog beat,
    sometimes opines
    in rhyming lines,
and chooses words to set in measured feet.
[ case you haven’t seen what the sidebar says about the blog’s editor in chief – or didn’t realize it was a limerick.]

Copyright © 2015 by Morris Dean


  1. Thank you, thank you! Australia deploys sheepdogs to help a penguin colony. Only in Australia photo. A 19th century Christian sex commune. Remember your child within. Merry cemetery. Door knockers, please note. Arbitration everywhere. Friends furever. Writer and editor since mother's teat....

  2. I asked our columnist James T. Carney, who is an attorney and has served as an arbitrator on a number of occasions, if he would comment on the fish that refers to the NY Times's 3-part series on arbitration:

    I have several thoughts.

    1. In an arbitration case, someone wins and someone loses. 50% of the people will be dissatisfied.

    2. Many people bring chicken shit complaints in consumer arbitration.

    3. Even good arbitrators make mistakes. There is no fool proof way of resolving credibility questions, which are the ones that I find most difficult.

    4. In labor arbitration, both sides have to agree on an arbitrator or select one from an American Arbitration Association or Federal Mediation and Conciliation panel. Most arbitrators are extremely fair; otherwise, they will not be rehired. I have never been a labor arbitrator, but I have tried over a hundred labor arbitration cases and, although there were obviously some I lost that I should have won, that is the view of any litigator.

    5. In commercial and employment arbitration (as in American Arbitration Association labor arbitration), the parties select arbitrators from a panel assembled by the AAA. AAA arbitrators have to be trained and take continuing legal education each year.

    6. The AAA has a consumer arbitration panel. I have heard one case – someone bought a used SUV with 121,000 miles on it and complained when the transmission went out after 12,000 more miles in 7 months. See comment 2.

    7. FINRA [Financial Industry Regulatory Authority], which deals with disputes involving brokers, follows somewhat the AAA pattern in selecting arbitrators. I have heard only one FINRA case. I have been assigned to a dozen others as part of a panel but the cases have always settled out.

    8. I have never heard of an arbitration firm, so I had some difficulty understanding what the article was referring to. Clearly, however, if an employer forced a customer/employee to use a particular arbitrator, there is a great potential for abuse. However, any arbitration organization I have ever been involved with either gives both parties a choice or assigns arbitrators at random.

    9. Both the AAA and FINRA are adamant on the arbitrators disclosing any contact – business, social, etc. – with parties, attorneys, and witnesses, to safeguard the process.

    10. Obviously, any arbitrator who has the kind of contacts with parties during arbitration described in the NYT article is acting unethically.

    11. USS [United States Steel] Law Department policy is opposed to arbitration because of the absence of any ability to appeal to court except if the arbitrator exceeds his authority, etc. Nevertheless, I got two out of the three arbitration awards I challenged in court vacated.