Thursday, October 28, 2010

Red Belts with Black Stripes

The boys haven't tested since April; we took a lot of time off from taekwondo this summer and they fell a bit behind. They are back in class three or four times a week now, and are on track to test for their black belts in May. Tonight they added a black stripe to their red belts; one more test and they are officially practicing for the Big Kahuna Black Belt. Over two years so far, and another eight months to go: these two are a object lesson in perserverance. I can't imagine being prouder of them.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Friday, October 8, 2010

Being a Zealous Advocate

For many years, lawyers were called upon to be "zealous advocates" for their clients. This language has fallen out of favor with the attorney-ethics community, and now no state in the US uses such term. The Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct (and is that title so lawyerly or what? Why use two or three words when you can use more?) requires "competent and diligent" representation, although it does use some more high-flown language in its preamble, where both "zealous" and "advocate" appear - just not next to one another.

But what did it mean to be a "zealous advocate?" Why did that term motivate attorneys for over 200 years? I dug out the OED (and accompanying magnifying glass) and looked for the word etymologies and definitions to see if I could find a clue:

advocate ... [a. OFr. avocat, ad. L. advocatus, one summoned or 'called to' another, esp. one called in to aid one's cause in a court of justice; prop. pa. pple. of advoca-re, f. ad. to + vocaire to call. ... lit. one called in, or liable to be called upon, to defend or speak for. ... 2. fig. and gen. One who pleads, intercedes, or speaks for, or in behalf of, another; a pleader, intercessor, defender. ... b. Specially, applied to Christ as the Intercessor for our sins.

zeal ... 2. In a specialized sense: Ardent love or affection; fervent devotion or attachment to (a person or a thing).

zealous ... 1. Full of or incited by zeal; characterized by zeal or passionate ardour; feverently devoted to the promotion of some person or cause; actively enthusiastic.

So, in essence, attorneys are ones who are called to be a passionate and enthusiastic voice for their clients, to plead for the promotion of their cause with fervor, and to (how odd) have an attachment and affection for their client and their client's interests.

Boiled down, we speak for them. We are called to be their voice. In representing them, we act not on our own behalf but always on theirs - we give our voice to them and their interests, never to our own. All of which sounds fairly easy when you think of the classic lawyer example in fiction: Atticus Finch, who gives a voice to a man who has none in society. But none of which sounds like what we do each day when we walk into the office each morning and pick up where we left off the night before - and that office is just one of thousands in the sea of minnows that make up a large corporation.

It is hard to square being a zealous advocate with working for a large company, full of people with competing interests. It is confusing sometimes to sort out the true interest of our company as the client, and make that our goal - shutting out all the competing voices in an effort to remember whose voice we are called to be and on whose behalf we are really interceding. Nevertheless, it is a calling, and a noble one at that. Being given the opportunity to be a voice for another is no small responsibility; may we all fulfill that responsiblity in a way that would make Atticus proud.

Postscript: Many thanks to the Livesays, who used this "advocate" definition in another context and got the wheels of my brain turning on the subject.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Smack, it's What's for Dinner

Here's just what we all need to bring sanity and reasonableness to the debate surrounding childhood obesity and what we should feed our kids:

Isn't this how you feel when you treat your kids to burgers? And don't you think this ridiculously-overboard load of guilt will help parents who feed their kids fast food more often than they should stop and give them tofu instead? Sure it will. Of course. Because nothing motivates people like hysteria and obvious manipulation. I don't know how I get the boys to do anything without those two key parenting tools. ::thickwithsarcasm::

HT: James Lileks.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Life in the "City"

I found this item in the free neighborhood newspaper dropped unwelcomingly on the lawn this week. It's from the police blotter of a nearby "city within Houston" - a "city" that has its own government, including its own police force.

"Police arrested a man Sept. 16 in the 6300 block of XXX Street for walking on the roadway where a sidewalk is provided."

No, really. That says "arrested" and not "ticketed", and is a perfect example of why I live in the real City of Houston and not in one of these miniature "cities" that are scattered throughout the Houston area. I can't imagine the real, actual Houston Police Department wasting its time on such things. Nor can I imagine them throwing one of my sons up against his car after stopping him for what amounts to "driving while teenager", which is what happens not infreqently in "cities" like these, with "police forces" such as they have.

We promised the boys when they were way too young to understand, and it's a promise I intend to keep: we'll never live where they have fake police, if you promise never to attract the attention of the real police. Deal? Deal.