Saturday, July 31, 2004

I just sent this to Nathan, in response to his invitation to poetry reading (see his invitiation posted below): Can poets hear Republicans? Would that be a change? Can the party of Jefferson (I claim him) and Lincoln and Regan be heard? Or will the secret Boston handshake be required? I woke this morning with a poem on my mind "Pefect Life". Would that be allowed?

I just came across this: "Ray Flynn (Pro-Life Democratic Congressman) who was a sports star in his college days, once said that his experience as an athlete was a great preparation for politics: 'You practice, sweat, there's pain. You go out on the court and lose. And you pick yourself up. You look for the next game. You don't dwell on the losses. You move get hit in the nose with an elbow, you take the towel, wip away the blood, and get back out in the field.'" The Human Life Review, "Democrats for Life."

I've just posted your notice on my blog, Nathan. I'll hope to be at the reading... Let me know if only dims, I mean Dems, will be allowed.

What would you think of some sort of topic about all this being the topic at our first Highlands Socrates Cafe? (Each Thursday, 6:30 p.m., at Common Grounds on 32nd just West of Federal, starting August 12). What would the topic be? Something around poetry and politics? Of course, I'm open to that being the topic. But in keeping with Chris Phillips and our experience over the last two years at Denver Socrates Cafe, it is probably best if the topic not be announced in advance. But you could bring it up August 12, or 19 or whenever, if you want to.
I just got this from my friend Nathan:
Young and Growing, Older and Wiser:
Denver Poets for Change in America
Sunday August 22, 2004, 1:30 to 6:30
Mercury Cafe, 22nd Street and California, Denver

Beloved Friends,
That's the whole project, the mission statement, which came to me in the shower one morning recently. I need your help and support. I'll tell you the whole long story if you wish--another "God-job"--but suffice it to say we hope to get poets (including great-grandmothers and school children) together for a "feed-and-read" community gathering at the Mercury Cafe, two or three professional portable video cameras and recording equipment, to produce a thirty minute DVD we will send to every public-access television station. No ulterior motives here, no negatives, no vitriol, no partisanship; just positive hope for the future. We need to participate openly at the community level for the sake of our country and the world.
Marilyn McGinnity stood in the mist outside the Mercury Cafe last week as I walked up the sidewalk with Tony Wagner; like a full moon just rising over the far horizon, her serene pale visage framed in a big black picture hat about it, storm clouds receding dark behind her, she nodded greeting to you. We repaired to the bar to have a glass of tea, chose an open space in the Mercury's schedule, agreed to meet then, feed us all and read for the cameras and recorders of Joe Lyon, Steve Flanders and Ivan Suvanjieff--Young and Growing, Older and Wiser: Denver Poets for Change in America, Sunday August 22, 2004, 1:30 to 6:30 Mercury Cafe, 22nd Street and California, Denver.

There is pure harmony here, I assure you. There is hope. There is whole positivity. Change for us is growth only (for degeneration and dissipation need not be expressed; despair is not growth, not art). Each of us and all of us are poets, making music, making art with words. You will come together to read the rhythm and the image of America's growth. No one will tell you what to say; they cannot, for this is America and our speech is free, our imaginations unlimited. All of us are artists: this is for great-grandmothers and grade school children, workers and wanderers, small boys and tall girls of any age--especially for those of us who may have been silent until today. Walt Whitman will swell with pride.

Thank goodness I have been relieved of the burden of my own ego daily for the last fifteen years and more, and thank goodness I have a day job (for no one ever made a living as a poet). I can underwrite the basic expenses of the food and of the technical costs of production of our DVD of this American spiritual communion. Those of you who have day jobs also are welcome to contribute modestly toward the expenses (not so much as to threaten to inflate your own egos to the bursting point, but perhaps enough to deflate my own). This is a We project, We the People.

You will likely want a copy of the finished product, the DVD which includes the edited 28 minute artwork in words and images, sounds and color which we will send gratis to all the public access television broadcasters in the country. Whatever proceeds come from the sale of these DVDs will be used toward the technical expenses of production.

We all will volunteer in different ways, especially to spread the word. Tony will put out posters or flyers with your help. One of you artists should sketch a poster or DVD cover design; until then the attached flyer will be a start. You all will carefully select and forward this very message to those in your e-mail address books who need to know, who do write and should read. Readers will be paid handsomely with hugs and kisses and applause.

Poets in other communities are welcome to gather as Young and Growing, Older and Wiser: Poets of New York and Santa Fe and San Francisco and Seattle and Tulsa and Cleveland... This doesn't belong to Nathan or to Denver but to America. It's our growth, our future.

Just come on Sunday, August 22nd at 1:30 with your text (so we can display your very words on DVD), your friends and family and your appetite for joy.

Thanks for your help.

Peace and Love.


Young and Growing, Older and Wiser:
Denver Poets for Change in America
Sunday August 22, 2004, 1:30 to 6:30
Mercury Cafe, 22nd Street and California, Denver

Friday, July 30, 2004

Pay the lawyers in coupons, too
Class-Action Excesses
July 25, 2004 Rocky Mountain News
Hill & Robbins, a well-known member of Denver's plaintiffs' bar, is back in the news with yet another class-action lawsuit, this time on behalf of AT&T Wireless customers who were allegedly overcharged on bills which claimed they had exceeded their monthly allowance of minutes. The proposed settlement is a plaintiff's lawyer's dream, if not representative of much that's gone wrong with the nation's tort system.
Under the settlement proposal, AT&T subscribers would receive a maximum of $20 million in calling cards, air time and discount coupons on telephone accessories. Parceled out among 3 million eligible subscribers, that comes to a paltry $3 to $10.50 worth of benefits.

Hill & Robbins, on the other hand, stands to rake in a cool $3 million in cash, plus $750,000 to cover expenses. The proposal must still be approved by Denver District Judge Herbert Stern.
We wouldn't dream of advising Stern on how he should rule. But we don't mind addressing the larger issue of whether there isn't something terribly wrong with a legal system in which class-action lawyers can win settlements for their clients in the form of coupons while collecting hefty fees for themselves in cash.
We can think of several remedies to this problem. Some of them in fact are included in a class action reform bill that, no thanks to the plaintiffs' bar, is having no luck getting through the lawyer-heavy U.S. Senate.
The first thing we'd do is require the lawyers to be paid in the same specie as their clients. A Florida judge turned these tables in 2002, when he slashed a $1.4 million class-action legal-fee request by the New York law firm Zwerling Schachter & Zwerling to about $294,000 and ordered a quarter of the fees be paid in $10 to $60 travel vouchers - the same vouchers awarded to the 80,000 plaintiffs. The suit had accused Renaissance Cruises Inc. of padding port charges. But in his blistering 27-page ruling, Broward County Circuit Judge Robert Lance Andrews assailed the plaintiffs' attorneys for greediness, saying "Too often, lawyers use class actions as cash cows that ultimately don't yield much for plaintiffs . . ."
Another solution is to peg lawyer rewards to actual plaintiff payouts instead of to some pie-in-the-sky maximum. There's no way AT&T Wireless customers are going to avail themselves of $20 million worth of discounts. Why not wait and see how many sign up before compensating the lawyers?
Another alternative particularly applicable in this case is to prohibit class-action suits altogether against companies in regulated industries such as telecommunications. If customers are billed incorrectly or unfairly, shouldn't the Federal Communications Commission mandate rebates or adjustments, just as the Colorado Public Utilities Commission does for the customers of local telephone, electric and gas services? After the requisite hearings before the regulatory body, why shouldn't AT&T Wireless be able to credit your account in the same way Xcel Energy does?
As state Sen. Mark Hillman, R-Burlington, points out, "Consumers are paying taxes to support the Federal Communications Commission." Having it deal with billing disputes "is a much more efficient way of dealing with the problem than giving attorneys an incentive to always be looking for a big payday."

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Tuesday Roland Chicas, Randy Swan and myself were invited to a candidates forum sponsored by the Downtown Denver Residents Organization. Each of us and our Democrat opponents were given 4 minutes, there was an hour of question and answers, and then we each had 2 minutes. Roland had relatives there who, although they are Democrat, thought I came across very well. One very active Democrat came up to me after the meeting and said she thinks I have a very good chance of winning, despite the low GOP registration. I was very encouraged.

Yesterday and today I've been distributing my newsletter through out the district, and I've emailed it out to several hundred people and encouraged them to pass it along. If you are one of the few people in Denver who did not receive a copy, please email me at and I'll send one to you!

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

True Success: Start Now; Teach to Win!: "Welcome to Poor Richard's Website... the official website for Franklin Circles and Free IDEA Cafe Startup Workshops, both of which are part of CoCaCoP (Colordo Caucus Community of Practice, see
Benjamin Franklin formed his first Circle, a group of like-minded adult learners, in 1727 with his 'more ingenious acquaintances.'
Training Magazine in June, 1995 cited that first Franklin Circle as the embodiment of what we now know are the best techniques of modern self-directed learning. It may have been Franklin's best invention!
I organized what is now called the IDEA Cafe Startup Workshop in 1993. In Denver we now meet each Friday(see details to the right)to share startup experience, do brainstorming, and to explain more about how to start or join a Franklin Circles."
Welcome page: "The Pachyderm Club movement is one of the most practical means by which broad citizen participation in politics may be achieved.
Over 60 Pachyderm Clubs are located in 16 states around the U.S. and are growing every day. We are actively looking for individuals to help start additional clubs in new areas. Please enjoy our home page as you browse around to learn more about Pachyderm Clubs. "

George Parker, the founder of the Pachyderm Club movement has been helping us get our new Denver Pachyderm Club started. We meet each Friday from 7 to 8 a.m. (open for early birds at 6 a.m.) at Panera Bread Cafe, 1350 Grant St. here in Denver. Join us!
The Society for Philosophical Inquiry: "Our fundamental desire is to encourage and support people who are curious and perplexed and filled with a sense of wonder, so they can dialogue for discovery and dialogue for democracy. And we are here for those who would subscribe to the Socratic ethos that the examined life truly makes for a richer existence. "

Christopher and Cecilia Phillips maintain this website to help people start Socrates Cafes for "seeking truth by our own lights."

We started the Denver Socrates Cafe, by coincidence, the Friday after 9/11 and the group has been meeting ever since at Panera Bread, 1350 Grant here in Denver, each Friday from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

A new Highlands Socrates Cafe is starting Thursday, August 12 at 6:30 p.m. at Common Grounds, 3484 W. 32nd here in Denver. Hope you will join us!

Monday, July 26, 2004

Porn Plague / Has porn's proliferation desensitized us to its power?: "(T)here comes a point when it's reasonable to do a little hand-wringing, usually on behalf of 'the children.' We saw it in the aftermath of the 2004 Super Bowl, when the skin-movie trope of a man ripping away a woman's top became a little too real due to the unheeded appearance of Janet Jackson's breast. We see it every time Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera mounts a new, more sexually charged tour to entertain our tweens. I see it when I go shopping with my 14-year-old niece, who represents the audience consumer Nation writers Alison Pollet and Paige Hurwitz had in mind when they wrote a January 2004 piece called 'Strip Till You Drop,' indicting the 'cute and tawdry' stripper-chic clothing and accessories that have become a mainstay of teeny marketing. "
HBS Working Knowledge: Entrepreneurship: Seven Principles for Cultivating Communities of Practice:
"1. Design for evolution.
2. Open a dialogue between inside and outside perspectives.
3. Invite different levels of participation.
4. Develop both public and private community spaces.
5. Focus on value.
6. Combine familiarity and excitement.
7. Create a rhythm for the community. "
News from USJFCOM: Combatant commands, Services, DoD Agencies and Allies attended Worldwide Joint Lessons Learned Conference: "Due to Sept. 11, 2001, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom the conference marked the first time in more than two years that lessons learned teams from the various regional combatant commands, military services, and USJFCOM have met collectively as a 'community of practice.' "
Colorado Delegation-2004 Democratic National Convention Home Page: "This website is reserved for the Colorado delegation to
the 2004 Democratic National Convention to be held
in Boston from July 26 thru July 29, 2004.
Participating delegates will be uploading photos they
have taken during each day's activities and some
will be posting blogs that will detail their experiences."

Follow the National convention through local eyes, thanks to my friend Darryl Eskin.
The New York Times > Week in Review > What's the Presidential Tipping Point?: "when you are the incumbent the election is, fundamentally, about you."
The New York Times > Magazine > Wiring the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy: "In March of this year, Rappaport convened a meeting of wealthy Democrats at a Silicon Valley hotel so that they, too, could see Stein's presentation. Similar gatherings were already under way in Washington and New York, where the meetings included two of the most generous billionaires in the Democratic universe -- the financier George Soros and Peter Lewis, an Ohio insurance tycoon -- as well as Soros's son and Lewis's son. On the East Coast, the participants had begun referring to themselves as the Phoenix Group, as in rising from the ashes; Rappaport called his gathering the Band of Progressives. More recently, companion groups have come together in Boston and Los Angeles.
What makes these meetings remarkable is that while everyone attending them wants John Kerry to win in November, they are focused well beyond the 2004 election. The plan is to gather investors from each city -- perhaps in one big meeting early next year -- and create a kind of venture-capital pipeline that would funnel money into a new political movement, working independently of the existing Democratic establishment. The dollar figure for investment being tossed around in private conversations is $100 million. "

Sunday, July 25, 2004

The New York Times > Theater > News & Features > The Perils of Marital Honesty: "Though the Denver-born Mr. Dietz, now 46 and with a home in Seattle, has been making a living from his plays since he was 23, only four of them have been produced in New York until now, and to mostly lukewarm reviews.
This is odd, considering how well-received his work has been by regional theaters like the McCarter in Princeton, N.J., where 'Fiction' had its premiere in April, the ACT Theater in Seattle, the Actors Theater of Louisville and the Arizona Theater Company, among others.
Mr. Dietz, a graduate of the University of Northern Colorado and the son of a railroad conductor, now believes it was a good thing he didn't become a New York playwright. 'You could have never told me that then, when I was desperate to have my plays come to New York,' he said by phone from his home 'in central Seattle, where `Frasier' was set, though no one in Seattle really has his view,' and where Mr. Dietz lives with his wife, Allison Gregory, also a playwright, and their 4-year-old daughter, Ruby. 'But instead I got to write plays that worked, and, more importantly, I got to write a bunch of plays that didn't work, and it didn't matter.' "