The Rabbi, the Airline, and the Supreme Court

March 3, 2014

Got miles? No, not milk, miles!

The U.S. Supreme Court has before it for a decision Northwest, Inc. v. Ginsberg. The case was argued on December 3, 2013, and will almost surely be decided by the end of the Court’s 2013-14 Term.

Rabbi S. Binyomin Ginsberg got fired from the Northwest Airlines frequent-flyer program for calling too often and complaining too much. No more miles, so he sued.

The case involves the Airline Deregulation Act, as amended as recently as 1994. Basically, the law preempts, or bars, claims brought by individuals that relate to “a price, route, or service of an air carrier that may provide air transportation … .” Rabbi Ginsberg sued, claiming Northwest breached its contract with

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Will Basics

March 2, 2014

A Last Will and Testament provides your instructions about your estate, both with respect to administration and distribution. Wills also often include instructions about minor children. If you have minor children you need a will, for sure. Even if you don’t have minor children, having a will should be on your bucket list.

A will addresses administration most directly by identifying a Personal Representative. (Personal Representative is the gender neutral substitute for executor/executrix, and became part of the proper terminology in Arizona when the state adopted the Uniform Probate Code 40 years ago.) The Personal Representative has as his or her tasks, in simple terms, gathering and distributing assets after paying creditors. There’s more to it than that, but those

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Pizza Primer

February 28, 2014

Ms. J doesn’t eat pizza much anymore. I think she’s a victim of anti-gluten disease, a condition caused by a generalized phobia for anything which a bunch of people are shunning. (Alas, Ms. J feels better than she ever has, and is as fit and trim as can be! So, who am I to talk?)

Me? I’m still a fan, but only when the pizza’s worthy. No late nights with Dominos, Papa John, or Little Caesars for me. And I find myself, increasingly, favoring what I make at home.

I like my pizzas lean and dry, mostly. Barely there with the cheese and less/no sauce, and I’m happy. And, as it is with the soaked salad you asked the restaurant

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Five Chiefs by John Paul Stevens

February 27, 2014

John Paul Stevens served as an Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court from December 1975 until June 2010, about 34 and one-half years. During his tenure—the third longest in Supreme Court history[1]—he served with Chief Justices Warren Burger, William Rehnquist and the current Chief, John Roberts.

Five Chiefs is a delightful, 250-ish page memoir of the first 91.5 years of John Paul Stevens’ life. (He’s alive and fast approaching his 94th birthday.) The five Chiefs include, in addition to the three I already mentioned, Fred Vinson (in place when Justice Stevens clerked for Justice Wiley Rutledge) and Earl Warren, before whom he appeared in his only oral argument before the Court. (Non-attorney readers:  an appearance

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Signing Matters!

February 26, 2014

Signing matters! With attorneys, signature lines often reflect the signor’s capacity, i.e., whether the signor signs as an individual maker or as an authorized signor for a business entity, and whether the signor is guaranteeing the debt of another. In form settings—you are leasing a copier, or buying web or Yellow Pages advertising—much gets murkier. And in the guarantee setting, both borrowers and lenders often pay too little attention to the rules. (We’re talking about extending credit here, so lender/borrower terms are used more broadly, and are not terms limited to situations involved traditional loans.)

Here’s on primer on signing:

Form Contracts.  If the contract involves a business matter, and your business operates through a limited liability company

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The Wednesday Curator – 2/26/14

February 25, 2014

So my friend Gary Stuart, great attorney and author, gave me a working over about the curator thing. Said I’m a curator. Not going to argue. Look for The Wednesday Curator for the foreseeable future. On Wednesdays.

Here’s what I’ve read this week that has stuck with me:

The Case for Blunders, a review of Brilliant Blunders:  From Darwin to Einstein—Colossal Mistakes by Great Scientists That Changed Our Understanding of Life and the Universe by Mario Livio. The review by Freeman Dyson, really smart scientist (and very charming writer), appears in the March 6 issue of The New York Review of Books. (I love reading reviews of books about science; I almost think I understand the stuff!)


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Make a Will Month

February 24, 2014

Saturday March 1 marks the beginning of Make a Will Month. I can find no information on the origins of this event, but I believe it’s a creation of the nonprofit sector, having as dual purposes encouraging people to make sure their affairs are in order and leaving some money for those in need.

Whatever its origins, Make a Will Month provides an excellent opportunity to focus on the task that, for far too many of us, always seems to be at the bottom of the “to do” list. For some the delay factor is perceived immortality. For others it is mortality and the fears that attend the certain outcome we all face. And for others the issue becomes “who

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Guardians and Conservators/The Basics, in 663 Words

February 23, 2014

In Arizona guardians look after the person, while conservators take care of their assets. (Labels vary from state to state.) Guardians may be appointed for minors or incapacitated adults. Minors need guardians when their parents have died, or when parental rights have been severed. Incapacitated adults need guardians when they lack capacity, often because of Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.

Courts appoint conservators for minors, who cannot have money (allowance and a savings account do not count) and for adults who need help with their financial affairs. For children, the most common events that trigger the appointment of a conservator are the receipt of money from an accident settlement and the death of a parent whose will has no

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February 22, 2014

Almost three years ago, Ms. J–yes, the same Ms. J who serves as my “food foil”–and I took a summer vacation. An unfinished essay about spaces grew out of the trip. Here it is, completed.

Lots of confined spaces. An apartment, just like all of the others in the 10-stack, next to other vertical rows with similar floor plans on either side. A hotel room, tight and small and, as it happens, in the most romantic hotel in America (the Spindrift Inn, in Monterey, CA), according to the 2011 TripAdvisor Travelers Choice Hotel Awards. (That’s what you sometimes get when you get your hotel through Priceline, when you are parked on a side street in Santa Barbara, CA

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Inequality – Part 1

February 22, 2014

Inequality has become the new buzzword.[1] I have plenty to say about this issue. We live in a society that, less and less, aggregates at the mean, which is fancy talk for “the very rich are outdistancing us, as we all run in place.” Expect several posts in the coming weeks. In the meantime, one of the problems with the inequality discussion involves a lack of information, Herewith, some information:

We hear plenty about the middle class, protecting the middle class, building the middle class, the evaporating middle class, etc. So who belongs in the middle class?

Income and wealth get very much blurred in our discourse. But for the lucky few with inherited wealth, wealth is a function

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