Monday, August 24, 2009

the law according to parkinson, rodriquez, moore and bwendo
yesterday a newspaper story about filmmaker robert rodriqeuz reminded me of my continuing love for something called ‘parkinson’s law’. rodriquez’s mother had taught her son to get into multiple projects by citing her rule ‘if you want something done, give it to a busy man’. momma rodriquez’s law was a presumably unintentional update of parkinson’s first announced in
parkinson’s law, a 1955 tongue in cheek article written in the economist by one c. northcote parkinson.

'it is a commonplace observation that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. thus, an elderly lady of leisure can spend the entire day in writing and despatching a postcard to her niece at bognor regis. an hour will be spent in finding the postcard, another in hunting for spectacles, half-an-hour in a search for the address, an hour and a quarter in composition, and twenty minutes in deciding whether or not to take an umbrella when going to the pillar-box in the next street. the total effort which would occupy a busy man for three minutes all told may in this fashion leave another person prostrate after a day of doubt, anxiety and toil.’

in 1958 parkinson used the concept and name as the basis of a best-selling book which a wikipedia bio says ‘led him to be also considered as an important scholar within the field of public administration’.* the law itself maintained speed over the years and apparently developed a new following and even opposition in the computer/internet age.* a writer calling himself ‘lazy man’ applied parkinson to space/clutter and personal finance and has informed me the comparable term is ’lifestyle inflation’. are your resources swallowed up by parkinson's law?. he also came up with my lead picture.
a less sanguine author wrote wrote
debunking parkinson's law which seems to stem from a belief that parkinson had actually written a law. parkinson himself came up with a couple of logically similar sayings: ‘the man who is denied the opportunity of making decisions of importance begins to regard as important the decisions he is allowed to make.’ and something called the law of triviality.
in 1960 i began securing a liberal arts education in the guise of a freshman year at the wharton school of finance and commerce. in the class room of one of my dearest professors, richard rowan, i was first exposed to parkinson’s law and i repeated it at various times for the next 40+ celebrating both it’s meaning and applicability and the fact that it had been delivered as a ‘law’ with classic british humor.
a few years ago i discovered that i had been regularly misquoting the original law during one of the more interesting interactions i ever had with an oklahoma judge. i was in the blaine county courthouse in watonga, oklahoma, during a no court time. I was visiting with judge mark moore and somehow we got around to talking about parkinson’s law. we ended up doing a kind of google-off looking for the original statement of the law and i found out that i had substituted the word ‘allotted’ for parkinson’s ‘available’. judge moore and i both agreed at the time that there was a corollary of the law - a shorter time available for a task often results in its completion more efficiently. judge moore then incorporated the latter version of the law into a an inspirational judicial directive to lawyers moving a bit slowly - and, for better or worse, let parkinson and me share credit for the concept.
but i meander. i must exit because it seems i have followed bwendo’s blog and other writing law - the work of writing expands so as to exceed the time available for its completion

* parkinson continued a successful career in the area until his death in 1993. a couple of side notes suggesting other aspects of his life: 1]
the northcote parkinson fund, now called the train fund, sponsors a civil courage prize honoring very special people. a lyndon larouche backer claims larouche was the victim of a conspiracy involving parkinson, john train, and the fund and paints a politically bizarre picture of all three: john train and the bankers' secret government. 2] on the other hand a fan of his fiction tells us that parkinson wrote both naval historical fiction and his own take on p.g. wodehouse’s jeeves character: happy birthday, c. northcote parkinson

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

footprinz - a youthful king penguin.
official title or reference - 'leave only a footprint', as in the "eco-traveller’s mantra" . i sense a better message if we allow for the possibility that the penguin may not believe the footprint should be there at all.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

égalité and anatole
"autre motif d’orgueuil, que d’ tre citoyen! cela consiste pour les pauvres soutenir et conserver les riches dans leur puissance et leur oisivit . ils y doivent travailler devant la majestueuse galit des lois, qui interdit au riche comme au pauvre de coucher sous les ponts, de mendier dans les rues et de voler du pain."
an august weekend indulging in my somewhat predictable melange of physical and mental meanderings with penguins and the computer always lurking. then came the convergence moment which i love so much. the result is an opportunity to begin a blog with one of those nonenglish quotations that imply sophistication in the writer.
i never put together two things i knew about a nobel prize winning french writer who chose the pen[guin] name of anatole france. françois-anatole thibault lived from 1844 -1924.
wikipedia describes him as a french poet, journalist, and novelist. ‘ironic and skeptical, he was considered in his day the ideal french man of letters.’ his official nobel prize bio has a formal history of his literary life which concludes coyly: ‘in his later years france became increasingly interested in social questions. he protested the verdict in the dreyfus case and developed some sympathies for socialism'
it seems that monsieur france and i share a healthy disrespect for the religion of our upbringing, christianity, and a perhaps resultant appreciation for irony* to help deal with its omnipresence. france let his feelings out in a wonderful satirical novel which i am finally reading on line as the weekend goes on. it’s the only novel i know of featuring my little flightless friends:
penguin island. in it france tells us about an aging nearly blind priest who lands on an island inhabited only by penguins and mistakes them for humans needing baptism in his faith. his actions provoke a meeting of the divine powers that concludes the only solution is to convert the penguins into humans**. so far i have read what happens as the now human birds are lead to the need to wear clothes and have their own property. i wont force feed anyone his description of the results and their religious base except to note that they do fit with my own preconceptions.
france is also responsible for another literary statement of things i myself believe. i have long quoted one english version of the quotation i started this thing with.
"the law, in its majestic impartiality, forbids the rich and poor alike to sleep under the bridges of paris."
france identified a basic flaw in application of the principle of equal treatment of disparate people. today, as in his time, the law creates crimes and procedures that fall harder on minorities and the poor. a current bad example: paying for your jail stays. in many cases they are more likely to have orders to pay for their jail stay and less able to pay while richer lighter defendants are less likely to go to or stay in jail and can buy a more comfortable incarceration.
it recently occurred to me that there is also a parallel fault in those cases claiming ‘reverse’ discrimination against white people and/or males. i’ve always been deeply offended by this whole idea. i have lived thru the time when discrimination went from an unchallenged norm to a time when the constitutional protection of equal treatment was brought into ‘real’ law by being acknowledged in statutes and judicial decision. there have been positive results - can you say barack. but those claims are part of a recent history of coopting and undercutting of the protections. suddenly equality is what lawyers sometimes call black letter law - law that must be enforced literally. those who received the benefit of discrimination now receive the benefit of laws against it. the fight against real continuing discrimination is demeaned by reinforcing the right of all to sleep under the bridge.
i wonder what blind justice translates to in french
* "irony is the gaiety of reflection and the joy of wisdom."
** france’s description of the formal conclusion reminds me of the comments of bertrand russell who first taught me that i need not believe everything i was told: "'let us not deliberate any longer,' said [god]. the opinion broached by gentle old hermas is the only one conformable to my eternal designs. these birds will be changed into men. i foresee in this several disadvantages. many of those men will commit sins they would not have committed as penguins. truly their fate through this change will be far less enviable than if they had been without this baptism and this incorporation into the family of abraham. but my foreknowledge must not encroach upon their free will.
in order not to impair human liberty, i will be ignorant of what i know, i will thicken upon my eyes the veils i have pierced, and in my blind clearsightedness i will let myself be surprised by what i have foreseen."

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Sunday, August 09, 2009

birthdays and betties
sunday, august 9, the 89th birthday of betty the boop, two days after the unlisted birthday of a special friend and colleague who retains the formal elizabeth officially. for this sunday morning i offer a minibirthday party for both of them complete with a picture of a white hibiscus for all of us.
i have now lived and worked in the capitol hill area of oklahoma city for at least 30 years. when i arrived there were still remnants of its past as the home of lawyers who represented the indian, white and hispanic, often poor, people of south oklahoma city, which was itself an unknown and unloved foreign country to my northside upbringing. southside economics picked up and eventually many capitol hill lawyers prospered and moved, often further south.
capitol hill itself caught little of the new economics except for the influx of hispanics and the rich variety of businesses they support. but elizabeth richards and i remain the 2 survivors of the old era, still happily basing our legal lives here. she continues to practice probate and domestic law in a wonderful office converted from a home on commerce street while i have occupied various spots around the intersection of commerce [southwest 25th] and robinson which officially define capitol hill. for her friendship and help over the years my gift to her is this page and two appropriate betty boop’s cartoons: betty’s birthday party from 1933 and judge for a day from 1935.

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