The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Pumpkins for Change

Via Evanston Now:

Evanston real estate broker Alan May says he's put a new twist on an old family tradition this year.

With help from an online site called YesWeCarve.com, he's turned the annual carving of the family jack-o-lantern into the creation of a Barack O'Lantern -- suitable for display on many a liberal-leaning Evanston front porch this year.

Diaz murder suspect caught; extradition soon

The Chicago Sun-Times reported late yesterday that New Mexico authorities have arrested William Bahena, chief suspect in Tuesday's murder of Elva Diaz, and will extradite him back to Illinois next week:

Almost a year after he was arrested for violating an order of protection involving his girlfriend, a 31-year-old Near West Side man is accused of killing her, authorities said Friday.

On Sept. 10, 2007, Diaz obtained an emergency order of protection against Bahena.

On Christmas Day, he was arrested for allegedly violating the order of protection, but she declined to bring charges against him, court records show.

Elva's funeral is tomorrow; there is a visitation today at St. Gall's on the Southwest Side.

I need to mention another thing about this. A couple of Elva's friends have told me she died intestate, meaning she did not have a will. They specifically asked me to blog about the difficulty this is causing her kids, and I'm happy to do.

As an unmarried person with children (ages 12, 11, and 6), the distribution of her assets is straightforward, but her children have no access to those assets until the court can appoint an administrator. Five days after her death this hasn't yet happened. It could take weeks. Meanwhile, though her children are safe, they still need food and clothes, and it will take some time before the court can determine their permanent custody arrangements.

This isn't an appeal for grocery-store gift certificates (which, nonetheless, would help). Rather, I urge anyone with children to write a will.

As a law student, I drafted several wills for attorneys, and I can tell you they can be very, very simple documents. At the very least a will should dispose of all your property, nominate an executor to manage the dispostions, and recommend who should have custody of your children. Now, I don't know Illinois child-welfare law at all, so it's possible that had Elva died any other way than at the hand of her children's father, he would be the presumptive nominee for custody. (I think the order of protection against him might have overcome that presumption, and certainly murdering his children's mother would; but this is why you need an attorney, because it can get knotty. I also have to remind people that no one has been convicted of any crime relating to Elva's murder yet. I am merely discussing the possible legal ramifications of a scenario of unknown likelihood.)

But still, if the Public Guardian has a document saying "I nominate Aunt Mildred custodian of my children" then he has an idea of who's best for the kids. Further, if the will nominates a qualified executor, then the executor can make this happen as well--by representing the estate against the Public Guardian, if necessary.

Elva's death has affected a lot of people, including me, but most especially her children. Writing a minimal will takes half an hour, and a neighborhood attorney can do it inexpensively and efficiently. It can really help your kids at their worst hour should something happen to you.

Zo zad

MillerCoors has decided to discontinue Zima:

Chief Marketing Officer Andy England says the decision was due to weakness in the "malternative" segment and declining consumer interest.

He says distributors can get remaining Zima inventories most likely through December.

I guess that means it won't ever be sold in the Babylon 5 Zocalo...

419 Poetry

The African email scams have haunted our inboxes for so long now I hardly notice them any more. But this one I received today had such fluidity and verve, such poetry, that I feel impelled to share it:

From the Desk of Dr.Anddy Vaina,
And Counselors at Law,
06 Bp 1704 Akpakpa Cotonou
Benin Republic.

Dear Friend,

How are you together with your Family today? My Dear our latest news to you today is that our Federal Government has approved all the funds owned by foreigners to be converted into ATM SWITCH CREDIT CARDS in which you can easily received through Atm Credit Card Service Department Center here in Benin republic for security reason.

Meanwhile your funds $1.250.000.00USD has been convert into the Atm Switch Cards which has been approve by the Government and the Switch Card code of your funds are stated below (4008b) which you can use to struck your fund like $1,500.00 per day to any ATM Bank nearest you in your Country.

So we have make the arrangement to the Atm Department Service here in Cotonou Benin Republic to Deliver you your Atm Card to your destination house address which take's under 2working days to get to your Address, Meanwhile you have to Contact Atm Office Department immediately and the only money you have to send to received your Atm Card from them is there processing fee which is $107.00 only to receive your Atm Card from Atm Department. Here is their Contact Information Address, so Contact them with below information; Atm Sheping Department Center Cotonou Benin Republic. Director: Rev Dr. Isaac Momoh.
Email:atmcddb_rep@yahoo.fr
Telephone: +229-9340-7932.

Contact them immediately and get back to us as soon as you get intouch with them: below is what they need from you to Re-confirm to avoid Delivery Mistake.

1.Your Full Name......................
2.Country Locate......................
3.Home address........................
4.Telephone...........................
5.A Copy of your picture..............

Immediately you contact them you get back and let us know.

With Best Regards Mr.Anddy Vaina..

I mean, I don't even know what they're hawking here. At least with the traditional 419 scams you could kind of see where it was headed.

Good morning, I think

Take out the trash day? Or just an ordinary Friday during these interesting times? Since lunch yesterday:

  • Despite all the McCain Campaign's efforts to keep it under wraps for just three more weeks, an Alaskan legislative investigation released a report alleging Gov. Palin abused her power by trying to get her brother-in-law fired from a state job.
  • Chrysler and GM are in merger talks.
  • The administration (101 days, 4 hours left) took North Korea off the list of state sponsors of terrorism, leaving only one country in what can't really anymore be called the "axis of evil."
  • Oil dropped to $78, its lowest price since last September, on fears of a global slowdown.

Finally, a wonderful quote whose attribution I can't find: "President Bush isn't so much a lame duck at this point as a wooden decoy."

Alpha and Omega

It just occurred to me: three of the four candidates for President and Vice President live in the 1st, 48th, and 49th states, and the fourth was born in the 50th. One way or another (and you know which way I prefer), a state that didn't exist when half of the candidates were born will send its first citizen (or native) to the White House.

Did anyone else notice this?

End of the summer

Living in a temperate climate means everything changes constantly. But there are rhythms. Things change fastest in late August and early March, for example: the sun set after 8pm from early May until just three weeks ago, but last night, the sun set at 7:30; in two and a half weeks it sets at 7; three weeks after that, at 6:30.

So what prompted this nearly-inane observation? The insects. It's late evening and my windows are all open, so I can hear thousands of cicadas, grasshoppers, crickets—yes, even in the center of Chicago. And the spiders have come out by the hundreds, anywhere they can get two anchors and a cross-beam. While Parker and I sat at Ranalli's on Monday, two of them spun webs side by side in alternating gaps in the patio fence; there are four new webs on our back staircase in the last week.

To everything there is a season, at least above the 30th parallel.

Mickey Mouse copyright case

This is interesting. I opposed the Mickey Mouse Protection Act of 1998 (officially the Copyright Term Extension Act), sponsored by Sonny Bono (R-CA), because I (a) believe that copyright protection already went on too long (50 to 70 years), and (b) it was such a naked lobbying bid by Disney.

Well, it turns out, Disney's copyright in the Mickey Mouse character may actually have lapsed in 1998 despite the Act:

Film credits from the 1920s revealed imprecision in copyright claims that some experts say could invalidate Disney's long-held copyright, though a Disney lawyer dismissed that idea as "frivolous."

...

Today, title-card claims are no longer required. But when courts rule on historical copyright issues, they follow the laws in place at the time—in this case, says [Georgetown University law graduate Douglas] Hedenkamp, the 1909 law requiring that the word copyright or its symbol be "accompanied by the name of the copyright proprietor"—a rule scholars said means in the immediate proximity.

The article isn't exactly law-journal ready, but it gives a reasonable outline of the issues. I'm not expecting anyone to challenge Disney on this, but it's funny to me how they spend a lot of time yelling and screaming to protect their Mickey Mouse trademark even when they know they've lost the copyright on several films, and possibly the character itself.

I leave for four days...

...and bison start wandering the Chicago suburbs:

Illinois State Police say four buffalo escaped from a farm in Braidwood and were shot after they blocked morning traffic. The buffalo wandered onto Interstate 55, shutting down the highway in both directions from Illinois Route 29 to Route 113 in the Coal City and Braidwood area.

First we get coyotes in downtown Chicago drink coolers, now this. These guys must think they own the place or something.

Northalsted Market Days

Parker and I checked out the annual festival in Boystown, and lasted 45 minutes before both of us suffered serious crowd fatigue. The walk did both of us some good, though my sunscreen, nowhere nearly as effective as the natural stuff he sheds all over the place, seems not to have lasted, so I'll definitely feel the walk longer than he will.

Crowds, though. My goodness. The weather was perfect today—I mean, perfect—so the entire city squeezed itself into four blocks of Halsted Street. Parker got his tail trod upon twice, patted on the head by perhaps a hundred people, and looked at me on the walk home as if to say, "how much farther to Bataan?" Poor guy.

Also, I finished Small Gods, a literary amuse guele before tackling Howard Zinn's People's History of the U.S..