Attorney in the Del.

Reporting on life in Wilmington, Delaware, a small city in a small state. (Note: Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this blog are Copyright 2006, Michael Collins, and cannot be used without permission.)

Saturday, December 31, 2005

"Only Two Beers"

A timely reminder for New Year's. In the context of New Year's traffic stops, the Washington Post writes about the "I only had two beers" phenomenon:

The "two beers" line has been uttered so often that it's a joke among police officers. In 20 years of patrolling highways, Virginia State Police Trooper L.L. Parker has heard that slurred lie more times than she can remember.

"I don't know of any officer out here who, if you tell them you only had two beers, they'll tell you, "Okay, then, have a nice night,' " Parker said, chuckling. "But drunks, for whatever reason, they say it all the time."

I link to this story because my doctor friend, Doctor Mike, cites this same "two beers" excuse as the player behind some of the most horrific cases that come through the hospital doors.

How did this axe end up in your leg? I was cutting wood, when, after two beers, I swear...

How did you cut your hand off with a circular saw? Well, I had two beers, and then...

How did you get impaled by this iron bar? It all started after I had two beers...

Two beers. Never more, never less. Always two beers. Conclusion: Two beers = bad news.

I suggest to you this for the New Year. If you are going to drink beer and operate machinery, have no more than one. If you are going to drink more than two beers, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Stay home, walk home, or have someone drive you. Do not handle sharp objects or power tools.

And never, EVER, stop at just two beers.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Chinese Style Population Control in the Catholic Philippines?

The Philippines is currently considering a population control law that would give incentives to families that limit the number of children to two.

The House of Representatives has agreed to hold a plenary debate, starting around mid-January, on the "Responsible Parenthood and Population Management Act," known locally as House Bill (HB) 3773.

Proponents say the bill is urgently needed to curb population growth and fight poverty in the Southeast Asian nation -- a country of 84 million people, an estimated 40 percent of whom live below the poverty line.

That would be unexciting news in place like China or the Soviet Union, but the Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country. As should be expected, the Catholic Church is none too happy with the proposed law. Catholic teaching flatly prohibits the use of contraceptives and abortion as birth control methods.

Having been to the Philippines and seen the conditions there first hand, I can tell you they are truly heartbreaking. In Manila, once one of the most modern cities in Asia, the streets are filled with beggars, the homeless, and thousands upon thousands of roaming children. Some packs of kids I observed walking along main thoroughfares unattended were ages 5 and younger. At night, it seems like half the city lives on the streets. The rest seem to live in hovels along the train tracks or in ramshackle ghettos lined with trash and patrolled by scores of ownerless mangy dogs. It both sickening and gutwrenching to see people living that way. I didn't snap one photo in Manila I was so horrified by what I saw.

Being a Catholic country with such conditions, naturally critics' first target is the Church. If it wasn't so adamantly opposed to birth control, the tired argument goes, then the Philippines would have to be a better place to live! "Too many people = poverty" seems to be the argument.


The most truthful statement in the article linked to above is this short, but accurate one:

"Too many people don't cause poverty," said one opposing lawmaker, Rene Velarde. "Bad governance and policies do."

As a lifelong news junkie and political science/history buff, I couldn't help but take my own unscientific sampling of the population regarding their views on what's wrong with the Philippines. Nobody cited population. Nobody cited religion. Everyone, without exception, pointed directly at the government. Particularly, they felt that Ferdinand Marcos's tenure as president/dictator bankrupted the country. (Everyone remembers his wife's 20,000 pairs of shoes.) As one man pointed out, when an individual raids the treasury over the course of 30 years at the expense of the people, it is difficult to recover. It is even more difficult to recover when subsequent regimes also exhibited a propensity for corruption rather than reform.

The Filipinos are some of the best people you'll ever meet. Personally, I'd prefer that there were more of them, rather than a government sponsored fewer. If there was any country where the government should have less influence over the lives of its people as opposed to more, it's the hapless Philippines.

If It Makes You Happy, It Can't Be That Bad

According to a recent study, Republicans enjoyed 2005 much more than Democrats.

Q.: Do you think 2005 was better or worse than 2004 for you personally?

Better: 65%
Worse: 22%

Better: 41%
Worse: 45%

I thought 2005 was quite nice myself. With the exception of leaving Chicago for Delaware, 2005 was a banner year for me personally. I married the best girl out there. I successfully completed the Delaware bar exam and became a Delaware lawyer. I started practicing law at a very enjoyable workplace. I bought my first house. I'm on pace to finish the year alive and in good health.

Oh yeah. Then there's this interesting development:

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Back to Work

Spent the Christmas holiday visiting the Indiana side of the family in Brookston, IN. Actually, we nearly spent as much time on the road as we did on the ground in Indiana. Although remnants of a previous snow remained on the ground throughout the state, it was hardly a white Christmas. Rain passed through the area as we drove into town, and temps rose with the storm. This created something resembling a "white" Christmas, but the white part was really a thick fog. Oh well, we'll take what we can get.

As a gift, we gave my wife's father a Petzl headlamp. As a farmer, we figured the headlamp would come in handy (or handless) as he worked around the farm. Having to hold a flashlight in one hand, while working with the other is not always easy. The headlamp had been a hit each of the other times I gave it as a present. My wife thinks they're ridiculous.

We "beamed" as we discovered my wife's father loved the gift. So much so, that he wore it quite a bit during the weekend...such as when looking for things in dark places or reading his mail or greeting visitors at the door. One thing about headlamps, it's not easy looking directly at a person wearing one. The light is intense. Or if you're my wife, you just think it looks goofy and can't stop laughing.

On Monday we discovered that the giving of our gift couldn't have come at a better time. Early in the morning, the power went out for about 45 minutes. As we all grappled around in the dark, the headlamp was at the ready. I regretted not bringing my own. Shaving by candlelight is not an easy task.

But we got to thinking. Considering the popularity of the headlamp with my wife's father, wasn't this sudden power outage a little too convenient?

The drive back from Indiana was nice. The winter countryside through Indiana and Ohio looked postcard perfect and the Pennsylvania mountains had just received a fresh coat of snow as we passed through, so the scenery couldn't have been better. A great weekend by any measure.

Thursday, December 22, 2005


For the price of a couple of these babies, could probably pay North Korea and Iran not to fight us.

Top News Story of the Day

From the Chicago Tribune:

Jeremy Majorowicz thought something was wrong when he saw a dog sitting on railroad tracks for at least two hours.

But he didn't realize how wrong until he and several other men determined that the gray and white husky had been literally frozen to the ties in below zero weather.


Strand then determined the dog was frozen to the railroad ties.

"I lifted his tail and hind quarters, and saw he was literally frozen to the tracks," Strand said.
"He was pretty hunkered down."

Strand pulled hard on the dog's tail, and was able to release him, but he said the move pulled a lot of hair from the dog.

"He gave a heck of a whelp," the officer said.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Score Another One For Chicago

I think this blog long ago established that nothing about Wilmington, DE holds a candle to Chicago. This isn't so surprising considering Chicago is home to 7 million people, and Wilmington boasts a paltry 80,000 or so. But still. Sometimes, it just seems like Wilmington isn't even trying.

Today's unequal comparison is between the trees that each of us recognize as "Christmas trees", but may or may not be called "Holiday trees" by the know, because the tree is a traditional symbol of Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or something (each component of the aforementioned "holiday" which season we celebrate and complain about this time of year).

To the left, we have the Wilmington, DE tree. It's size is impressive, no doubt. The tree also sits in a prominent spot: Rodney Square, the city's centerpiece public park. I'm not sure whether they chose this location for it's central location, or because it would give all the loiterers in the square something to urinate on while they slouch around the park all day. It's the best location in the city, nonetheless, because there really isn't anywhere else to put it. So far we have two plusses in the Wilmington tree's column: size and location.

But what's the deal with the lame decorations? If you look really hard, you can see a bunch of red ribbons tied to the tree. I can also vouch for the existence of lights, which are positioned longitudinally on the tree. That's it. No star, no balls, no nothing else. There may be a rat nest in there somewhere or a homeless guy, but no other official decoration. Pure speculation here, but I bet there is no star because it is deemed a religious symbol, totally taboo here on the East Coast.

In other words, in the tradition of Wilmington, the tree is entirely uninspiring.

Now take a look below at the Chicago tree, located on Daley Plaza in the Loop. It's big, it's bright, it's festive. This is a humdinger of a Christmas tree. We have size, location, and the right holiday feel. In addition, what you can't see in the picture is that just beneath the tree is Santa Claus's House and the amazing Kristkindlmarket (a market selling German arts and crafts, sausages, pretzels, and big mugs of German beer and hot, hard cider). That's what I'm talking about! I could cite one example after another of how Chicago goes all out for the holidays, but it would take up more space than a blog reader has the attention span for. Downtown Chicago during Christmas is unmistakably holiday-rrifc.

Chalk up another for Chicago.

My next installment will compare the rogue Nativity scenes placed near the trees in the respective cities. Credit goes to those trying to keep Christ in Christmas. But again, as you will see, the displays offer another study in personality between the two cities.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Do you know how to fold a shirt?

Maybe you think you do. Click on this video for a lesson.

Delaware Bar Civility

If there was one thing they didn't let us forget during the bar review, clerkship, and ethics training programs in this state, it's that the Delaware bar is small and has a reputation for civility. The inside joke became, "Did you read the QVC case?" We could have crafted a drinking game around the mention of the decision. Here is an overview of QVC's facts:

April 19 -- From the incivility frontier. Richard F. Ziegler, writing in the Feb. 7 National Law Journal: "Until recently, the classic example of incivility in litigation was famed Texas lawyer Joe Jamail's defense of a deposition witness in the 1993 Paramount-QVC Network-Viacom takeover battle. According to the excerpts of the deposition transcript included in an addendum to an opinion by the Delaware Supreme Court, Jamail told the examining lawyer that he could 'gag a maggot off a meat wagon' and made other vituperative remarks that the Delaware court labeled 'extraordinarily rude, uncivil and vulgar.' "

There is always someone who forgets to read the QVC case. Just recently, another lawyer in Delaware was sanctioned for, in his brief, comparing the counterparty (a board of directors) to "apes" and a "group of monkeys", as well as making other editorial comments on their integrity and business acumen. For more on this, including a link to the short decision, click here.

If the sanctioned attorney needs a copy of the QVC case, I think I have several copies still floating around in my basement...

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Hearsay Movie

For the lawyers out there, and especially the law students studying for their evidence finals, you must see the Hearsay Movie. Forget King Kong. You can actually learn something from watching this movie. The cinematography, acting, sound effects and soundtrack rival anything you will see in King Kong. Mind you, I haven't seen King Kong yet, so this is just a guess.

Check it out. I guarantee you'll make an excited utterance after viewing this hoot of a flick.

The Incredible Disappearing Christmas

You may have heard that Christmas is under seige. (Old school readers may remember that I've posted on this before.) The attentive are noticing that public and private institutions, whether consciously or not, are increasingly omitting "Christmas" from the Christmas season. The single reason for this, of course, is the holiday's namesake: Christ. The PC police long ago started removing religious references (usually Christian) from everything in order not to "offend" some miniscule minority of over-sensitive activists. That's why we have "holiday" parties and "season's greetings," rather than Christmas parties and hearty "Merry Christmas!"-es in public anymore. Sad, but apparently true. I'll post later on Wilmington's excessively lame "holiday" tree.

Speaking of trees, as this year's season of Christmas whitewashing started heating up and the media began their largely sarcastic reporting on it, I came across this article in the Washington Post. The story is about the politics behind the lighting of three of the country's best known Christmas trees: the White House, Capitol, and Rockefeller Plaza trees. The Post, not surprisingly, fell into the same de-Christmasing of Christmas trap everyone seems to fall into these days. The Post's treatment of the story on the web is the better story than the subject of the article.

When I first clicked on the story, the headline read: "Three holiday trees, only one star".

The next time I clicked on it (same day), the headline read: "Three Christmas trees, only one star".

I'll stop here to mention that the day this article appeared the outcry on the subject was particularly rabid. Fox News that morning had reported that Boston's tree would be renamed a "holiday" tree and talking heads were in a frenzy and articles on the subject were popping up everywhere. As the foregoing makes apparent, the WaPo itself couldn't decide what to call these large, festively decorated pine trees that stand in prominent spots in cities across the country during only one consumer-crazy month a year. Gosh, what the heck are they?

The solution for the Post's editors, it seems, was to just give up. The headline now reads: "Three trees, and only one star".

Absurd. Can't we all agree to call these glittery wooden seasonal mainstays "Christmas trees" because, let's just admit it, everyone knows that's what they are?!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Something Worth Praying About

My wife is currently involved in a campaign to fight a bill in the Delaware legislature whose passage could result in the deaths of thousands of innocent lives. Please read the message below and get praying!

I know you're not all Delawareans, but we could use some of your prayers anyway.

On January 12th, the Delaware State House of Representatives will take a vote on whether or not to allow embryonic stem cell research. It's a really hot issue out here right now. My boss is very involved in pro-life activities and has in fact created a campaign with some other DE pro-lifers to stop this horrible bill from being passed. It is a campaign to get 8 straight days of continuous prayer between the House hearing and the House vote to stop the bill.

It's called "A Rose and A Prayer." You can go to the website ( and sign up for an hour of your convenience to pray. There is also a link where you can send a rose to a legislator[.] [I]f you could sign up for an hour to pray I'd really appreciate it! We will need all the help we can get!

I know this doesn't necessarily affect all of you in your state, but I know that you care about embryos being saved everywhere! Let me know if you have any questions and thanks in advance for your prayers!

Rip Off

During the two winters I lived in Chicago, I looked forward to experiencing the rumored harsh Midwestern winters. It was plenty cold, believe you me. But I was a little disappointed on the precipitation side. There was probably little more than two feet of snow total in two brutally cold winters.

Tomorrow, Chicago is getting another dose of snow, after the foot or so that blew through last week. And it's only mid-December! As usual, the real fun begins after I leave.


William Stuntz of Harvard University has written an excellent piece on what it means to suffer and why it is a "duty" as believer in God. It is fair to say that Professor Stuntz and I share a similar outlook on this issue.

UPDATE: I just want to point out that I am doing extra-special duty by living in Delaware.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Top 10 Things To Do In Delaware

10. Sleep (if you're lucky, you'll dream you're somewhere else)
9. Go to work (especially if you commute to destinations in surrounding states)
8. Watch a speech by your Senators and imagine a laugh track
7. Watch grass grow
6. Come home from work (especially if you commute from destinations in surrounding states)
5. Be silly or out-of-your-mind...bored
4. Buy something and look at the $0.00 on the sales tax line (never gets old)
3. Cross the border into MD, PA or NJ for any reason
2. Watch paint dry
1. Join a suicide cult

Sunday, December 11, 2005

We Are The Champions... soccer. Go Terps!

UPDATE: More on the Terps' soccer championship here. Well done!

What a great weekend to be a DC sports fan. First, the Terps win the NCAA soccer title. Then the Redskins keep their theoretical playoff hopes alive with a win over Arizona (too bad KC and Philly failed to beat Dallas and NY late to really tighten things up in the East). And finally, the Terps men looked very steady in a big college hoops win over #6 Boston College in their ACC opener. That's the way to welcome the newcomers to the ACC!

Pardon me if I have a big smile on my face all week.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Attorney in the Del, Esq.

As of yesterday afternoon, it's now official: I am a Delaware lawyer. The Delaware attorney admission ceremony was held yesterday in Dover. I, and 96 of my closest bar exam-passing colleagues, were sworn in in a 2.5 hour ceremony.

The ceremony is officially a session of the Delaware Supreme Court. Each of the five justices sat on the stage of the Schwartz Center for the Arts in downtown Dover to preside over the proceeding. One by one, each new attorney was called forward to sign an affidavit swearing (or affirming, if one happened to be a Quaker) to uphold the laws of the state. In Delaware, each attorney applying for admittance must not only take the bar exam, but must also complete a list of 30 clerkship requirements under the supervision of a Delaware attorney, called a preceptor. This Delaware attorney must have been admitted to the bar of the state for at least 15 years. Prior to signing the affidavit before the court, the preceptor moved to admit the candidate attorney to the bar of the State of Delaware.

Once the court welcomed the candidate, he or she signed the affidavit. The court repeated this routine 97 times before moving on to the administration of the attorney's oath. Upon taking the oath, the full Supreme Court welcomed the candidates to the state bar as full-blown Delaware attorneys. The long process of admission...the mindless and seemingly endless nights and days of bar review, the hand cramps and exhaustion suffered over three days of taking the bar exam, the repeated trips to the court house to complete the clerkship requirements, the two excruciating days of ethics training, the character and fitness interviews, and the continuous filing of forms...was finally over. A couple speeches later, the 97 were back on the streets, now officially the punchline of many thousands of lawyer jokes.

My wife and I left at the conclusion, and celebrated quietly at the local Chicago-style Pizzaria Uno's...basking in accomplishment signified by the day, and wondering how the heck we ended up in Delaware.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Do We Have Enough Milk and Toilet Paper to Survive?

I hope your kids got their homework finished last night because, ladies and gentlemen, as I predicted yesterday here is your 4-8 inches of snow in all their glory.

And yet, again being the East Coast, we are doomed. This morning's rush hour will resemble Lord of the Flies. How many times do I need to mention that I am glad I walk to work?

Monday, December 05, 2005

Past Its Expiration Date

Is the US Congress useful anymore? Perhaps no. This story from today signals loud and clear that the Congress has officially jumped the shark into irrelevance:

Calling the Bowl Championship Series "deeply flawed," the chairman of a congressional committee has called a hearing on the controversial system used to determine college football's national champion.

I think it is now time for Congress to pass only two types of law: 1) one that will turn Congress into a part-time institution, and 2) others that serve only to repeal wasteful, irrelevant, and confiscatory laws already on the books.

First, Congress investigates steriods in baseball, now they want to get to the bottom of the BCS. Isn't there a war going on or something?

East Coast Weather Translator

We are forecast to receive between 4-8 inches of snow tonight. Being the veteran of many an East Coast winter weather forecast, I make this translation for the unitiated:

4-8 inches = 2 inches on grassy surfaces, snow turning to sleet and/or rain

We'll be lucky to have anything but a hard crust of ice on the fringes of the streets. The trucks are already out in full force spreading salt and there has been nothing but a flurry so far. Snow was forecast to begin at 4pm. It's now almost 7pm...and still just a few random flakes apparent.

Somehow, the forecasters always keep their jobs.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


Mirror, mirror, on the wall,

Who's the dumbest cat of them all?

Big News Out of DC

This is good to hear. After something like one playoff appearance in the last 13 or so years, the Washington Post today had this shocker of a headline:

Redskins Interested in Playoffs, Not Division

Whew. I was under the impression that we weren't interested in the playoffs after all these years. Regarding winning the division, I agree. Let's just make sure we get to the playoffs first. Baby steps.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Stop the Presses! The New Most Ridiculous Statement Ever!

Ask wacky as the statement by the aid worker in my last post was, I think the following now ranks as the most ridiculous statement ever. It's so funny, it almost can't be true...but it is!

In an articled titled, "Top Democrats question Alito's credibility", this gem is the featured Democrat's statement:

''The more I learn about Judge Alito, the more concerns I have. A credibility gap is emerging with each new piece of information," Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, said yesterday. ''He bears an especially heavy burden at the hearings in January to explain the growing number of discrepancies between his current statements and his past actions."

Hahahahaha! Sorry, I couldn't contain my laughter. This coming from a guy who still denies that he killed his former girlfriend after driving drunk off a bridge into a river, leaving the girlfriend to drown, then swimming across a bay to avoid police questioning.

That was a good one, Senator. Thanks for the laugh.

The Most Ridiculous Statement Ever

This morning, I read a story about a refugee family from Hurricane Katrina that resettled in Maryland by virtue of the generocity of the DiMaggio family. The DiMaggio's had an extra, vacant house and donated it to the Brown family, who had lost everything in the storm. The Brown family returned the favor by vandalizing the house and trashing it throughout.

Why would they do this? It really is confounding. But the explanation given by a spokesperson for a charity ranks as the most ridiculous statement ever:

"There are times when people expect a grateful victim," said Ande Miller, the executive director of National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, a Virginia association of faith-based institutions and other disaster relief agencies.

"We don't always pay attention to the fact that they've had a terrible thing happen to them, and it's hard to be grateful when your home was just destroyed. You have to put in perspective what we're asking them to be grateful for."

By this logic, because of Katrina the Browns have an excuse for the following behavior:

[M]ost of the Brown family left for Louisiana on Sunday without so much as a "thank you" to the congregation, church members said.

When Firm Foundation Worship Center pastors and several members of the congregation visited the home shortly after the Sunday service, they found piles of donated clothing littering the porch. A trampoline lent to the children was slashed. A small hole around the electrical socket in the bathroom is now much larger. Trash, broken glass and clutter filled the house, said the DiMaggios, who have since cleaned up with help from volunteers.

"We gave them a house to live in for free, so that they could work and save their money to get back on their feet," said Marge DiMaggio. "They had nothing when they came, and we were happy to help them. We passed on donations that came to us for them." Donations included a car, a refrigerator, washing machine and clothing for the family.

The DiMaggios trid to help out a family, and this is the thanks they get. But it's OK to act this way. A natural disaster displaced the Browns, so they have the right to take advantage of other people's generocity and act like animals. Right.

Best Game of the Year

Tomorrow is the Army/Navy game, just down the road in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, tickets are sold out and I'm not going.

For pregame hype, go here. And GO NAVY!

The Gauntlet Has Been Thrown Down

For all the Big Ten readers of this blog, the ACC Basketblog has thrown down the gauntlet on your league. Will you defend it?

Thursday, December 01, 2005


I guess if anyone is still checking this blog, you've noticed I haven't written much lately. Why? Mainly because nothing much is worth writing about. Little of consequence is happening in the news, my sports teams are awful, and I live in Delaware. Wilmington is such a dull town, that not much inspires me to write. Work keeps me busy, but outside of it, not much is happening right now. That will change soon. But for now, I'm just hoping to find something of interest on a daily basis to write about. Sorry for the lack of posts.

Good Old Fashioned Divine Intervention

Putting aside the politics, if what Harry Reid said is true, it looks to me like a case of good old fashioned Divine Intervention.

Last Wednesday, the Minority Leader appeared on KRNV-TV's "Nevada Newsmakers" program and dropped a stunning revelation. He had been informed just that day that Osama bin Laden was killed in the giant Pakistan earthquake last month. "I heard that Osama bin Laden died in the earthquake, and if that's the case, I certainly wouldn't wish anyone harm, but if that's the case, that's good for the world."

PS: Back to politics, why wouldn't he "wish harm" on the guy responsible for killing 3,000 American civilians on 9/11? And this guy is the face of Democratic leadership?