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Sunday, December 18, 2016

On Goats, Donkeys and Charles Dickens

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We've covered a lot of ground here, maybe too much ground. Above and beyond it all, though, I still am plagued by a persistent pet peeve... Which is in nearly all ways better than being plagued by a persistent pet goat.

It's the misuse of metaphors. Can't have it. Drives me nuts.

One of the greatest victims, they say, of this abuse is the fictional character created by Charles Dickens: Ebenezer Scrooge. That's a name we improperly affix to cheapskates, skinflints, chiselers and the like.

By the end of "A Christmas Carol", you ought to recall, the old tightwad had seen the light - or, rather, the dark. Not ringing a bell? Remember, he gave the dopey peasant kid a Christmas goose? (Wot? The one that's big as me?)

That's just a small pet peeve, though. I'm only reminded of it because of the holiday season. I find it annoying, but not offensive.

The messed-up metaphor that most makes me mad is the dumbest, easiest one of them all... One that I had down pat at the age of seven. It's the one about the carrot and the stick.

Everybody blows this one. I'm mystified as to its everyday misapplication, since it seems straightforward enough.

Prominent people routinely display their naked ignorance where the carrot-and-stick metaphor is concerned. They've done it so much as to change its definition. It is referred to now as an "idiom" referencing rewards and punishments.

It is not. The way the pundits use it now would have us believe that there are two choices in a given scenario - the carrot, or the stick. That translates into, "You either take the damn carrot, or I'm going to beat you with this stick."

Uh, no.

It's probably too late now, but it might have been more useful to have called it the Carrot, Stick and String approach. Because the actual idea behind the metaphor is quite simplistic as well as pragmatic, a vestige of humanity's rural upbringing. It goes like this:

If you want a stubborn donkey to move, all you do is dangle a carrot, tied to the end of a stick with a piece of string, in front of him. If he wants the carrot - and he does - he'll have to walk forward to get it but he won't be able to, because you've... Oh, forget it. WHACK (Heeyaw!) WHACK (Heeyaw!! Heeyaw!!) WHACK WHA--

See how badly these things can turn out? It's serious. We could well end up in a thermonuclear exchange with the North Koreans because of something that stupid.

It's not just an opinion, like the idea that we humans peel our bananas from the wrong end, or just plain idiocy like "escape goat". It's more insidious, less innocent, than that.

When will it ever end? Hard to say. Certainly not 'til the cows come home... Perhaps when pigs fly. Or when the chickens come home to roost. Whatever.

pH 12.18.16

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Sunday, December 11, 2016

All Right Then

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This letter was sent to my sister, a grieving Mom who held her dead child in her arms until the police separated them, right in her own front yard. I am authorized by my family, by the Founding Fathers and by God to respond:

Dear Ms. Heller,

By way of introduction, please know that I have been retained by the Redmond Funeral Home to demand that you cease and desist all contact with the Redmond Funeral Home.

I understand that you have contacted the Paw Paw Michigan State Police post no fewer than 37 times, that you have posted many untrue things on the internet, and that you have been sighted driving by the funeral home on several occasions, among other things. You have made numerous negative postings on social media regarding my client.

My client respectfully demands that you cease and desist all such activity, have no further relationship to the funeral home, and that you retain an attorney and file a lawsuit should you feel the need to do so. My client further demands that you refrain from all social media postings whatsoever. Should you feel the need to contact the Redmond Funeral Home, I respectfully request that you do so through my office. Lastly, should you fail to conduct yourself accordingly, my client has asked me to file a Complaint in the Circuit Court seeking an injunction restricting your conduct.

For these reasons, the Redmond Funeral Home demands that you agree in writing to immediately cease and desist from all future conduct and untruthful allegations that you have alleged. 

Very truly yours, 


Lewis Reed & Allen PC 

Ronald W Ryan

(It was cc'd to Martha Redmond.)

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Very quickly, line by line:

Thanks for the intro, I'm Paul Heller. Please know that I'm a jury consultant in my spare time, that I have handled some pretty big cases in which I worked with and against some very good attorneys... And this letter is less than sterling, in my professional opinion, and other legal minds I know concur. Here's why.

"I understand that you have contacted the Paw Paw Michigan State Police post no fewer than 37 times..."

Ms. Heller is perfectly aware how many times she has been in contact with the Paw Paw Michigan State Police post. If her regular contact there worked at the Wayland post, she would have contacted the Wayland post 37 times -- anyway, it's more like 40 by now. Also, the State Police say they didn't call your firm about it, so...

"... that you have posted many untrue things on the internet..."

Well, what is an "untrue thing"? I can post that I believe in Unicorns, which is an untrue thing in that (A) I don't really believe in them because (B) they don't exist. But I can post it on the internet. As a matter of fact, I just did.

"... and that you have been sighted driving by the funeral home on several occasions..."

The funeral home, a big gaudy thing that looks like a cross between a bank and a plantation, is situated on Kalamazoo's main traffic artery, literally 4 blocks South of her home, and is also located across the street from Charlie's resting place. Additionally, Ms. Heller does not own a motor vehicle.

"...among other things."

List 'em.

"You have made numerous negative postings on social media regarding my client."

List 'em, I said. Go for it. I dare you to publicly reveal the complaints and concerns, however indelicately worded, that my sister has made about your client and her employee. Or I can.

"My client respectfully demands that you cease and desist all such activity, have no further relationship to the funeral home, and that you retain an attorney and file a lawsuit should you feel the need to do so."

In order: No, it depends, and... Okay.

"My client further demands that you refrain from all social media postings whatsoever."

Wow; really unbelievable. To paraphrase the late, great Molly Ivins, that sentence probably comes across less awkwardly in its original German version. Astonishing. Ridiculous... Illegal?

"Should you feel the need to contact the Redmond funeral home I respectfully request that you do so through my office."

Oh, so after making no small amount of pointy demands, you're suddenly softening your stance and making a respectful request? She respectfully declines.

"Lastly, should you fail to conduct yourself accordingly, my client has asked me to file a Complaint in the Circuit Court seeking an injunction restricting your conduct."

That sounds more serious than getting sent to the principal's office. While you're down there, you can file a Complaint against whatever ham sandwich seems to have upset you so.

"For these reasons, the Redmond Funeral Home demands that you agree in writing to immediately cease and desist from all future conduct and untruthful allegations that you have alleged."


Quite honestly, that's about all I'd really expect from a Hillsdale College graduate. You have your answer, sir. Now if you'll pardon me, I'm going to say a few things to your boss.

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Since Dean Lewis croaked a few years ago and Fred Allen has retired, that just leaves Mr. Reed, to whom I say this: I know every ugly thing about your alleged client, because it's all a matter of public record. 

You tell Bill Redmond he isn't the only guy who will stick up for his sister. The difference is that mine lost her son, and his employs a pedophile, who had access to her boy's body.

Official Response: Try me. The last guy who did found it not to his liking.  Go one step further in this sick charade, and you and your client will find out what I can really do as a researcher and a writer... Not this Vaudeville act, I assure you.

pH 12.11.16

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Friday, December 9, 2016

But First...

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A copy of the email I sent to our attorney:


Hi, T******. Some thoughts about this letter...

First, if you look up Ryan's profile you see that he is a divorce lawyer who also does some estate planning and workman's compensation. This isn't his area of expertise, either... And the ham-handed language of the letter bears that out.

The fact that William Redmond is also with the firm makes me believe that Martha Redmond called up a relative, who handed it off to another junior where he worked.

Also, this document is not on company letterhead. The entire thing was run from a copier... I can tell from my years in the printing business. Ink smudges; toner doesn't. You can literally knock it off the surface of the paper, especially a linen fiber paper like this one (see attached pic). 

Why would he do that when the company already paid for letterhead printed in ink, matching the envelope?

For the same reason he's doing things - supposedly on retainer - that aren't really his brand of law. Because he didn't tell his boss, that's why. I doubt that, had Martha Redmond retained this firm, they'd have handed a C&D/harrassment assignment to someone who does estate planning, workman's comp and divorce. I smell a rat, Godfather!

The clincher: The watermark is backward. No pressman would ever, ever print on the wrong side of a watermarked letterhead... Not for a law firm.

So this smells like made-up bullshit to me. I bet if you called up Richard Reed, the lone remaining Partner, he'd have no idea what you were talking about.

We'll see.

Paul

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Followed up with:


Further grist for my theory... Companies print letterhead for several reasons, mostly aesthetic ones but also for technical ones.

Letterhead and envelopes are ordered at the same time. Makes perfect sense.

No company would simply generate their letterhead through their in-office copier, because they're fussy about "tick marks". They like a clean sheet...

But more than that, if you intend to print out a letterhead with information on it, as firms do, you have to print it on a press in ink. Because toner doesn't sink into stock. So a stack of paper that had been copied as letterhead (with the company info at the top) is taller on the printed half than on the blank half. So running a copy through a copier again won't work. Why?

The thicker side of the sheet goes more slowly through the fuser rollers (think of an old-school laundry press) than the blank side, causing skewing, which ruins the job.

Further, not all copy machines are equal. Some use higher temperature rollers (the toner is baked onto the sheet via heat, pressure and oil). It is very common for pre-copied materials to have their text/images melted off the page and the text/image is then "ghosted" onto every following sheet - again, ruining the job.

That's why letterhead is universally printed on a press, using real ink, which does not increase the thickness of the paper, and is impervious to heat/oil/pressure once it dries. The purpose of letterhead is to add info later. And that can only happen one way.

So that letter is, in all likelihood, a back-door deal that Martha's trying to pull off. Let me know what you think.

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See where I'm going with this, Dear Reader? That's okay... They don't either. The other hotshot big city lawyer I know, an old friend, had this to say:

Agree that it is not the most professionally written letter. Possibly just a formality and as a precursor to a TRO. Listen to your lawyer - that's why you pay him or her! :-)

Yep.

You want to know what that letter says? You really do, don't you? I want to tell you so badly... No, seriously, if I did you wouldn't believe it, I know. Let me think about it. Maybe I will, I don't know. Should I? You think I should?

Why not? What the hell do I have to lose?

pH 12.o9.16

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