Category Archives: Uncategorized

Special Veterans Day Alert: Good news for NC veterans

VA Kernersville Health Care Center

MidLaw wishes to join the great chorus of the day with a message for veterans.

If you are a veteran who lives in central North Carolina, don’t believe what you may have heard. The outpatient medical services available to you at the Veterans Administration are quite amazing.

The Health Care Center in Kernersville is a marvel.

It’s new. It’s nicer – a more inviting place to be – than any medical facility MidLaw can name.

There’s a computer there that’s just waiting to hear from you – and it will ensure that when you come to the Center, there will be virtually no waiting. Computer though it is, it’s surrounded by all these people who seem very highly motivated to ensure that you are attended to.

Best of all: free hearing aids! State-of-the-art, top-of-the-line hearing aids and audiologists with accompanying equipment who are expert, responsive and experienced.

As far as I know, any hearing impairment is eligible for treatment. But, in particular, if you have a bit of a gap in the range that your left ear can hear, that’s consistent with exposure to firearms in a military setting. And, the VA’s the place for you to be.

And what devices they supply! My cell phone calls now come directly into my head. Nobody hears it ring but me. Music, podcasts – they all come straight into your head (if you want’em to).

Most astonishing! Since acquiring these devices, I’ve learned that very often, when people’s lips are moving that means they are seeking to communicate with you. And, my television has begun to function much better. Somehow though, there has been little improvement in my ability to hear certain communications from Sally. Nothing’s perfect.

MidLaw, at least, thanks the Veterans Administration for its service.

Advertisements

Partisan judge elections in NC have gone all bizarre in the past

MidLaw has sought to be clear about it. Partisan elections of judges is not a good idea.

North Carolina Supreme Court

For a mild-mannered, fence-sitting blog, MidLaw spoke pretty straightforwardly to the point several years ago. It said, “Partisan election of judges has led to assassination plots, cannibals & pirates in NC courts.” To be clearer, I suppose MidLaw might have added, “and, therefore, partisan elections are not good policy.”

Well, somebody was not listening. A bill has been introduced in our General Assembly that would amend the North Carolina Constitution to cut terms of office for all justices and judges to two years. Every two years every judge would be forced to stand for re-election in a partisan election.

Very quickly, North Carolina’s Chief Justice Mark Martin opposed this bill. He said:

Nowhere in America do voters elect their general jurisdiction judges for two-year terms of office. This is as it should be. Electing judges for two-year terms would force judges to campaign and raise money constantly, and would disrupt the administration of justice.

Judicial terms of office are longer than executive and legislative terms of office because judges have a different function. Judges are accountable, first and foremost, to the federal and state constitutions and to the law. They apply the law uniformly, and equal justice under law is the ultimate goal of any court system.

Just as quickly, former Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr, characterized the bill as

“just wrong”

“an effort to intimidate the judiciary” and

“fundamentally a bad policy.”

Neither Chief Justice Martin nor Justice Orr played the cannibalism card. But maybe they made the point better without that.

The separation of powers, an independent judiciary, and the authority of judges to nullify unconstitutional legislation are bedrock principles of American democracy — and North Carolina no less is where those ideas were born.

Separation of powers: good. Independent, merit-selected judges: good. Frequent, partisan elections of judges: not good.

Guilford College facing acutest issues of social change in forthright, creative ways

Interesting to see how Guilford College President Jane Fernandes’ most recent post at her blog, Jane’s Friendly View, “What #metoo Compels Us to Do” parallels the core theme of Guilford creative writing professor Mylène Dressler’s new novel, The Last to See Me.

To victims of sexual assault and harassment, Jane says “We see you. We understand you. You are real.” Professor Dressler comes at the same thing in a ghost story.

I’m pretty sure the two did not coordinate what they have done. (That would be a conspiracy, wouldn’t it?)

Since 1837, the Guilford College community is always wrestling with the acutest social issues of the times. Always learning. Always creative. Always facing forward.

Hot new book from crackerjack Guilford College novelist

Greensboro author and ace Guilford College professor, Mylène Dressler, who is the Director of Guilford’s Sherwood Anderson Creative Writing Scholarship Progam, has a new book out. The Last to See Me. It’s a good one, a ghost story.

Ghosts, one of her characters says, are

[l]ike those waves out there hitting on the beach. Again and again and again. Unsettled souls are like that. They don’t release emotion the way that we do. If they did, we’d have to say they were still living. We can try to imagine what they’re feeling, but we can’t really do it. Because they are what they are, and we are what we are. The charge isn’t life. The charge is all that’s left.

Professor Dressler says that her book is about “work, class, and justice, and what it means to be visible or invisible in history.”

The story is set on the West Coast and it is indeed about justice and class, and unreleased emotion, and invisibility in history. But those are themes that are not limited to the West Coast. They come up in almost every place where there’s a past. In M. Dressler’s telling though, there’s also this woman whose face is gone from being underground.

It pops at the end. (The story, not the face.)

I got me a copy of The Last to See Me. You should too.

Cahiers de Hoummous: At the right end of the Mediterranean they make hummus, at the left end …

I have come among the people who invented mayonnaise.

If you live in a warm, dry place adjoined by the Mediterranean Sea, which is full of good food, not the least of it shellfish, and if, already, you have wines that complement the climate, and then you invent mayonnaise – and fresh allioli – might you not conclude that you have come to the end of history?

My last challenge is that, as I doze, the sun moves across the sky. I must shift my position to stay in the sun. It keeps me young.

 

Sound off!

I was at the Veterans Administration Health Center this morning, getting lined up for hearing aids. I went down to the Audiology section to check in, where I was second in line.

The receptionist asked the guy in front of me what his name was. He said, “I’m sorry, what did you say?”

I was in the right place.

The VA Health Center in Kernersville, N.C., is one of my new favorite places. The facility is fantastic. The place is well organized. There is virtually no waiting. The service and care are spot on. And, after virtually every encounter, they say, “Thank you for your service.” This morning, a lady told me that I look nice today.

I’m going back.

Richard Posner leaves bench to invest time in promoting access to justice

Thirty-five years ago, Ronald Reagan appointed Richard Posner to the Seventh Circuit United States Court of Appeals. At the time, Posner was a well-known conservative legal scholar, particularly identified with the “economic analysis of law.” He had written a book with that name.

Recently, he announced that he is leaving the bench. The New York Times says

The immediate reason [was that] he had become concerned with the plight of litigants who represented themselves in civil cases …. Their grievances were real, he said, but the legal system was treating them impatiently, dismissing their cases over technical matters.

“These were almost always people of poor education and often of quite low level of intelligence,” he said. “I gradually began to realize that this wasn’t right, what we were doing.”

Posner’s goal now is “to bring attention and aid to people too poor to afford lawyers.”

Posner’s concerns about access-to-justice place him in line with Antonin Scalia and Neil Gorsuch.

The Splendid Table comes to Greensboro, not for the hummus

The Splendid Table” is readily recognized as a radio program/podcast/website/blog focused on food. To see “Greensboro” identified as a subject of a recent installment was a minor jolt.

My knee jerked: “Please, not another paean to North Carolina barbecue.”

Maybe, hummus?  MidLaw was the first to posit the theory that hummus originated in Greensboro.

As it turns out, The Splendid Table’s focus is neither barbecue nor hummus. It is “the Greensboro Four” who historically sat in for lunch at Woolworth’s in the 1960’s. In a brief interview, Joseph McNeil gives a dignified and generous account of the sit-ins (it’s impossible not to like the guy), reprising the now iconic, unidentified white lady who encouraged the students, and crediting the solidarity of the UNC-G (then, Women’s College) students who came out to support the Four. But he trashed the food.

The Splendid Table picked up the interview from New York’s Other People’s Food. The theme is “the universality of food to find common ground amid racial and cultural differences.”

MidLaw is able to attest: “universality” and not “quality” is the right theme for downtown food in Greensboro at the time. In the 1970’s, when MidLaw set up shop at Brooks Pierce in downtown Greensboro, Woolworth’s was one of a limited few venues for lunch downtown.

Joseph McNeil does not recount being served in 1960, but he does recall returning to Woolworth’s in the 1970’s after the lunch counter was integrated. He says the coffee was bad and the apple pie was bland (“it sucked,” he says).

There weren’t many choices for lunch in downtown Greensboro back then. The big department stores were departing for the shopping centers, taking with them their cafeterias and dining rooms. What was left were lunch rooms in office towers and a small handful of stand-alone restaurants. MidLaw recalls Mathews Grill, a meat-and-two-vegetables place whose proprietor was busy parleying restaurant proceeds into real estate; The Lotus, a mid-century Chinese restaurant that was far from home; Randy’s Sandwich Shop, which served the standard sandwiches of the day; the Southeastern Soda Shop; and a delicatessen whose name I can’t recall that famously served “Kosher Dogs” (hot dogs smothered in sauerkraut). And Woolworth’s. Mr. McNeil’s word captures everything except the kosher dogs: “bland.”

Woolworth’s led the way. The meats at Woolworth’s were such that the smartest order was a Vegetable Plate. The vegetables came largely from cans and frozen packets. Macaroni and cheese was prepared in large sheets and cut into squares with a knife to make a serving. Greens from a can. The squash casserole was redeemed, if at all, by cheese melted in the juices of the squash and onions. Salt was the key ingredient.

Except those who were members of the Greensboro City Club, lunch most often required flight to the shopping centers, where the great American culinary innovation of the day awaited: the all-you-can-eat salad bar.

So, Joseph McNeil’s commentary on mid-1970’s downtown Greensboro food is about right.

Today though is different. Today, there are a couple of places downtown who might actually earn a place on The Splendid Table.

Here again, McNeil gets it right. He says “we’re going to make progress sometimes in spite of ourselves.”

Hummus Alert — Time Sensitive — Tomato-hummus perihelion at peak this weekend

This seasonal notice should, ideally, have been posted earlier. Regrettably, it was not.

Of course, the foundational post was here all along as loyal followers know. You might have protected yourself.

There is still time. This weekend marks the peak of the tomato-hummus perihelion. Act now. Here is what you do.

Although a preference for Edgecombe tomatoes has been identified in the past, those sourced at the Greensboro Farmers Market have been determined to be equivalent in quality and most dimensions of flavor. MidLaw acknowledges that vine-ripened tomatoes from other North Carolina sources may also meet immediate needs.

WARNING! This alert is subject to unpredictable forces in the tomato markets, including spikes in demand and supply imbalances.

Caveat emptor.

                                  

I need a good statue – the ones we have don’t get the job done


My North Carolina heritage started in the mid-18th Century. After about 1760, my ancestors are from North Carolina all the way down.

Some of them were slaveholders, most not.

One, from Perquimans County, is identified as the first person in North Carolina to have liberated all his slaves because he concluded that slavery itself was immoral. Another, said to be the largest slaveowner in Guilford County, provided for his slaves to be liberated upon his death. This provoked litigation (to the Supreme Court) contesting his will by his disappointed son. His widow, evading local law enforcement, took off with the people to Ohio.

Others included founders of the North Carolina Manumission Society, secret participants in the underground railroad (a participant as best I can tell, it was secret after all), and abolitionists.

But, still others continued to hold slaves. And probably more than anything else my forebears were small farmers, laborers, teachers, and lawyers, preachers. One was an indentured servant.

When war came, two were Confederate officers: one was killed in a daring charge; another served for an initial term, then returned home to his family in Randolph County. Two more were private soldiers, one of whom spent much of his war as a prisoner, while the other one got trounced at Gettysburg then nearly starved to death on a long, solitary walk back to Edgecombe County.

Others opposed the war. One paid the fee that exempted members of peace religions from military service. He provided succor to deserters and escaped POWs for whom Guilford County was a gathering place. Another was imprisoned for refusing to serve in the Confederate army. He was tortured by his North Carolina neighbors at the infamous Confederate prison at Salisbury.

So, what is my heritage? What monument do I claim?

I am not unusual. North Carolina’s story was never one of united, unreserved support for the Civil War. It was never so simple.

Few, if any of us, tie back to only one narrative — or to a simple, narrow “heritage.”