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.)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Whither the American Ostrich?

Living in a country in which emus, kiwi, ostriches and virtually all flightless birds don't run free, I was struck by this news today:

U.S.-Mexico border fence may harm animal migration

A plan to fence off a third of the U.S. border to stop illegal immigration from Mexico may harm migration routes used by animals including rare birds and jaguars, environmentalists and U.S. authorities warn.

The House of Representatives passed a bill this month authorizing the construction of about 700 miles (1,120km) of double fencing along the 2,000-mile (3,200-km) border, which was crossed by more than one million illegal immigrants last year.

The proposal, which the Senate is expected to vote on in coming days, seeks to build continuous barriers separated by an access road for patrol vehicles on long stretches of the border in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

Environmentalists and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wardens say the barrier would disrupt the migration of scores of species from jaguars to hawks and humming birds along a wildlife corridor linking northern Mexico and the U.S. southwest known as the "Sky Islands."

Not surprisingly, environmentalists are up in arms about a massive construction project. Also not surprisingly, environmentalists care more about the safety of humming birds than their own species and fellow Americans.

What did surprise me is that I am supposed to be persuaded that a land borne fence is going to stop hawks, hummingbirds, and other flying birds from migrating. Assuming that fence isn't going to be built high enough to disrupt air traffic, am I to believe that a noble avian species such as a hawk is not going to be able to fly over this thing? Even low flying birds like humming birds shouldn't have too much trouble.

A wall like the border wall separating Israel from Gaza is probably what we have in mind. This post from Michael Totten's trip to Israel during the Hezbollah uprising contains a few photos of how our wall will likely appear and be sized. Again, birds won't be able to get past this thing? Are you kidding me?

Like I emailed my father after reading this story:

Natural selection would seem to dictate to me that any bird species that can't fly over a fence probably doesn't deserve to escape extinction.

Changing the Calculus

Robert George makes the case at First Things that for Catholics, voting Republican is usually the only moral option. But he dreams of being able to vote on matters of importance other than abortion.

I wish that it were possible for pro-life citizens legitimately to support Democratic candidates. I wish that the party of my parents and grandparents had not placed itself on the wrong side of the most profound human rights issue of our contemporary domestic politics. I wish that the killing of embryonic and fetal human beings by abortion and in biomedical research were resolutely opposed by both parties so that we could cast our votes based on our assessments of the candidates’ and parties’ competing positions on taxation, immigration, education, welfare, health-care reform, national security, and foreign policy.

I think this is a wish held by most Americans who desire what is best for their country. Our democracy would be much healthier if the broad range issues weren't so necessarily trumped in many voters minds by this single, sad issue.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Shapes Pt. I

Seen around the Wilmington skyline...


An interesting theory:

Civilization was invented so that ordinary folks could leave the tasks of vengeance and justice to a state who would presumably dispense it impartially according to laws enacted by common consent. But as states fail to do their job, and as the "International Community" gets reduced to impotence and symbolic acts by the dead weight of political correctness, a growing number of people are finding themselves living in a world of increasing anarchy. Paradoxically, the amount of real civilization in the world -- as represented by actual security and effective governance -- is declining in direct proportion to the increase in the number of filigrees and curlicues in the treaties, declarations, understandings and covenants that the "International Community" has barricaded itself with. Two parallel universes begin to coexist. An imaginary universe obsessed with Global Warming, multiculturalism, world governance and image inhabited by bureaucrats and intellectuals, and a real universe shot with poverty, rife with ethnic hatreds, chaos and inhabited by militias; with the imaginary universe pretending it is in control of the real universe.

I certainly saw evidence of this on my last trip to the Philippines.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Boilered Up

Someone's happy about Purdue's 4-0 start to the football season!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Function Over Form

This architectural monstrosity sits atop the hill a block from my Wilmington house.

Though I'm sure one could pack the cars into this garage as well as any other in the city, I'm equally certain the designer of this soulless checkerboard of drab concrete didn't receive any artistic awards.


Some important words regarding forgiveness from Roman Catholic Blog, a site that is quickly becoming one of my favorites.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Sunday, September 17, 2006

Sunset Over Wilmington

The sun put on a nice show last night as it headed below the horizon.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Another Walk in the Park

The weather turned out much nicer today than expected. In order to placate a cabin-fevered baby, we took a walk through the Brandywine Creek park to get some fresh air. These photos make Wilmington look like not such a bad place after all.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Everything Isn't Enough

If you owned a private park and wanted to disclaim any responsibility for anything possible that might happen to your visitors, how would you draft your disclaimer? This is a great start:


Nature is unpredictable and unsafe. Mountains are dangerous. Many books have been written about these dangers, and there's no way we can list them all here. Read the books.

Nelson Rocks Preserve is covered in steep terrain with loose, slippery and unstable footing. The weather can make matters worse. Sheer drops are everywhere. You may fall, be injured or die. There are hidden holes. You could break your leg. There are wild animals, which may be vicious, poisonous or carriers of dread diseases. These include poisonous snakes and insects. Plants can be poisonous as well. We don't do anything to protect you from any of this. We do not inspect, supervise or maintain the grounds, rocks, cliffs or other features, natural or otherwise.

It goes on for nine additional, even more comprehensive paragraphs from there.

And they still had to shut down their rock climbing operation for fear of litigation!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Random Roll

Just had another roll of film developed. As usual, pictures were taken over the course of several months. Some random photos from another random roll...

Friday, September 08, 2006

Not a Day at the Beach

Last weekend, we made our first foray into New Jersey for a long weekend in Atlantic City. Literally following in the massive wake of Tropical Storm Ernesto, our first day at the beach was anything but. High water blocked several roads, and some hotel parking lots on the bay side were literally under water. Debris from trees lay scattered about, and the huge nylon sign overlooking the front entrance of a Quality Inn hotel cracked lazily in tatters in the wind. Pretty impressive for a storm that was supposed to have been only a "remnant."

Like usual, my brother in Wilmington, NC, suffered a direct hit, so I'm sure these photos don't impress him. But in upper Mid-Atlantic, this is rare stuff.

Of course, being in the North East, there has to be some measure of overlawyered absurdity thrown into this display of nature's fury. I'm lucky to have fired off the few photos I have posted here. Mere moments after I walked onto the beach, I was accosted by a member of the local fun police who told me I was not permitted to be there because it was "too dangerous." Thanks, mom. As you can see from the photos, the water boiled furiously beyond the beach, but only a moron would be stupid enough to take a dip in that cauldron of chaos. Anyway, I was clad in blue jeans and a fleece vest, not a candidate for a swim. The only danger for those of us with our wits might have come from getting a piece of flying sea foam in the eye. Big bubbly tumbleweeds rolled atop the sand here and there at the whim of the remaining wind. Not exactly the stuff of nightmarish accidents.

Nonetheless, and despite pleading that it was and is communist and absurd to tell a person that he cannot go on a public beach with dozens of yards of open sand left between the dunes and the beach because of "danger." Please. But there always has to be some government lackey to tell us what's advisable for us to do. Good old fashioned common sense won't do anymore. Heck, the better policy is, if you're stupid enough to try to get in the water, you're on your own buddy. They could even post a sign to that effect.

I took a couple photos and was ushered away, fuming. I get the feeling more and more these days that maybe the Soviet Union did prevail after all and we're just slowly edging into the same government heavy abyss. Then again, I'm a lawyer, so I shut should up. What credibility do I have when my profession is giving the public hardest shove over that ledge?

The final day of the weekend turned out to be the best of the three. Ernesto finally a distant memory, the sun a current companion, and the breeze just right for a prototypical "day at the beach." I ran in a sandy five mile race along the just retreated Atlantic at sunrise (placed a pathetic 129 of 170) then joined the family for what would be our four month old son's first taste of the ocean. What could ruin such a perfect confluence of circumstances?

You guessed it. The good old fashioned government tax collectors. Want to enjoy nature's bounty on a state beach in New Jersey? Apparently, that privilege will cost you a cool $5.oo per person.


Karl Marx is smiling in his grave somewhere. I knew there was a reason it took me this long to venture into New Jersey.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

I Hereby Dispose of Myself

Looking through some form wills today, I came across a provision that struck me momentarily off balance. Imagine walking into a law office expecting to sign a document setting forth the framework for disposing of your property in the event of your untimely death, and walking out having arguably signed your own death warrant. Only poor legal drafting could result in such an unintended consequence, but it happens. The offending provision states as follows:

I authorize and direct that my body shall be cremated and my ashes scattered over the garden of the residence where I am living immediately prior to my death.

Why wait until you're actually dead to be cremated and scattered with the wind? And is there a provision setting forth who has the authority to declare at what time death will occur so that preparations can be made for such preemptive cremation and scattering?

If you find this provision in your will, better hope Justice Scalia never hears your case.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Not Savvy

We bought a Linksys wireless router several months ago. Worked like a charm for several weeks until I tried to turn on the security feature. Suddenly, no more internet connection. After spending several hours on the phone one night with a Verizon representative in what I think was India, we made no progress and I decided that those several hours of my life we not worth fixing the router problems. Tonight I decided to waste several more hours of my life on the same project.

I tried everything. The Linksys website, various diagnostic tools, turning everything off...then on, restarting the computer, changing passwords, connecting different wires...I even enlisted an old DSL box that hasn't seen action since I lived in Chicago.

And finally...success (I think)! The last trick in my book was to try basically turning an ethernet cable around. I remembered somewhere in law school I became aware that some ethernet cables have "male" and "female" ends. I dared to act on my hunch, and voila, I'm finally again able to access the internet through the wireless router. The real test will be in a few minutes when I go downstairs and see if my laptop can access the internet through the waves in the air.

Fingers crossed...(as you can tell, I am the definition of a layperson when it comes to technology, if turning the machine off and on doesn't solve the problem, I'm in for several long hours of misery).


Prior to Ernesto's arrival on Friday, the thought of building an ark never crossed my mind. August's sun baked everything in our front yard to a crispy brown. Now, after several days of hard rain, and at least one more to go, I'm considering swimming to Home Depot tomorrow to get a few cubits of wood.

In memory of dryer days, a photo of Wilmington along the Brandywine.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Friday Bug

One more bug to top off your Friday. Elkton, MD. August 12, 2006. Posted by Picasa

Wacky Weather

A couple days ago a siren went off in the city warning residents that a tornado was in the area. The firm directed everyone into the hot, lower level stairwells for 15 minutes while we waited for word that the tornado threat had passed.

Today we begin the first of a couple of days of pounding rains from Ernesto. Six inches or so are forecast after an August that was so hot and dry that my front yard looked like brown brillo pad until the rains of the last few days. Naturally, we're headed to the beach this weekend for what looks to be a washout.

At least there is some excitement here in the Del. for once.