Archive for the hollywood Category

Al Qaeda Goes to College: First Book Review

Posted in 1966, 2008 Election, aecond amendment, AIDS/HIV, alcohol, alcoholism, animal house, animals, arrest, art, asia, athletics, Barack Obama, baseball, bichons, Biden, Big Business, binge drinking, blogging, Blogroll, books, breaking news, cars, cats, ceo compensation, Christmas, chrysler, Crime, criminal justice, culture, cyberspace, Democrats, diets, Disabilities, Disability Discrimination, discrimination, divorce, dogs, election, Employment Discrimination, entertainment, environment, films, food, fraternities, Gay Literature, gun control, high education, Higher Education, history, HIV/AIDS, hollywood, immigration, intelligent design, international, internet, Israel, journalism, Law, Law and Justice, leadership, literature, marriage, mccain, media, medicine, middle east, movies, murder, murder in the 20th century, news, North Pole, novels, obama, Oil Companies, Palin, pennsylvania, pets, Pigs, Pit Bulls, Polar Express, Politics, pornography, president, Presidential Election, prisons, professors, random, relationships, religion, Republicans, Santa Claus, Sarah Palin, science, science fiction, sciencec, second amendment, shooting, sports, study abroad, technology, Terrorism, time travel, Uncategorized, United Nations, universities, vegans, Vice President, Violence, VTU, war, war on terror, world affairs, writing on February 21, 2009 by castagnera

February 21, 2009

Book Review Highlight Al-Qaeda Goes to College

AlqaedaOn Jan. 23, 2009, Adjunct Prof Blog announced  that James Ottavio Castagnera, a well known lawyer and professor at Rider University, just wrote an exciting new book entitled “Al-Qaeda Goes To College.” Professor Castagnera was kind enough to provide me with an advance copy and I could not put it down. 
The book starts off by detailing how Professor Castagnera world began to change on 9-11. It then goes on to discuss the Anthrax scare that occurred at the Hamlton New Jersey Post Office, just a few miles a way from Rider University.    
The book’s research is excellent and it is full of detailed footnotes that others will undoubtedly find helpful.  Professor Castagnera central thesis, however, is on the impact  9-11 had on higher education. He views 9-11 as a double edge sword. On the one hand universities lost their innocence at great cost (increased governmental regulations, security costs etc.), but on the other hand universities also got a windfall because now they offer more programs and research on national security. Professor Castagnera believes that American universities have met the challenge of 9-11 and we are better off because of it. He compares 9-11 to WWII and states that America became a super power because of WWII.

The book goes on and covers such topics as universities’ roles in training counter-terrorism experts, particularly anthropologists working in Iraq and Afghanistan; bio-terrorism research on campuses; inflammatory critiques by the likes of Ward Churchill; the conspiracy theories advocated by some academics regarding 9/11; lawsuits against universities by terror victims trying to get settlements from countries like Iran by seizing archaeological artifacts in American universities; accused Islamists teaching at American colleges, like Sami al-Arian at USF.

This book not only presents well researched factual information, but it also contains legal analysis. For example with respect to the discharge of Professor Ward Churchill, Professor Castagnera outlines the First Amendment rights of public employees and in particular academic freedom. 

To my knowledge, this is the first book on how 9-11 has changed the world of higher education.  This book will be available around April 30th and you can pre-order it now from the above link. You will be glad that you did.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein


Read a sample chapter from my newest book, “Al Qaeda Goes to College”

Posted in 1966, 2008 Election, aecond amendment, AIDS/HIV, alcohol, alcoholism, animal house, animals, arrest, art, asia, athletics, Barack Obama, baseball, bichons, Biden, Big Business, binge drinking, blogging, Blogroll, books, breaking news, cars, cats, ceo compensation, Christmas, chrysler, Crime, criminal justice, culture, cyberspace, Democrats, diets, Disabilities, Disability Discrimination, discrimination, divorce, dogs, election, Employment Discrimination, entertainment, environment, films, food, fraternities, Gay Literature, gun control, high education, Higher Education, history, HIV/AIDS, hollywood, immigration, intelligent design, international, internet, Israel, journalism, Law, Law and Justice, leadership, literature, marriage, mccain, media, medicine, middle east, movies, murder, murder in the 20th century, news, North Pole, novels, obama, Oil Companies, Palin, pennsylvania, pets, Pigs, Pit Bulls, Polar Express, Politics, pornography, president, Presidential Election, prisons, professors, random, relationships, religion, Republicans, Santa Claus, Sarah Palin, science, science fiction, sciencec, second amendment, shooting, sports, study abroad, technology, Terrorism, time travel, Uncategorized, United Nations, universities, vegans, Vice President, Violence, VTU, war, war on terror, world affairs, writing on February 10, 2009 by castagnera

My new book is now available

Posted in 1966, 2008 Election, aecond amendment, AIDS/HIV, alcohol, alcoholism, animal house, animals, arrest, art, asia, athletics, Barack Obama, baseball, bichons, Biden, Big Business, binge drinking, blogging, Blogroll, books, breaking news, cars, cats, ceo compensation, Christmas, chrysler, Crime, criminal justice, culture, cyberspace, Democrats, diets, Disabilities, Disability Discrimination, discrimination, divorce, dogs, election, Employment Discrimination, Higher Education, history, HIV/AIDS, hollywood, immigration, intelligent design, international, internet, Israel, journalism, Law, Law and Justice, leadership, literature, marriage, mccain, media, medicine, middle east, movies, murder, murder in the 20th century, news, North Pole, novels, obama, Pit Bulls, Polar Express, Politics, pornography, president, Presidential Election, prisons, professors, random, relationships, religion, Republicans, Santa Claus, Sarah Palin, science, science fiction, sciencec, second amendment, shooting, sports, study abroad, technology, Terrorism, time travel, Uncategorized, United Nations, vegans, Vice President, Violence, VTU, war, war on terror, world affairs, writing on January 6, 2009 by castagnera

Serialization: Why My Dad Hates Ice Cream (5)

Posted in 1966, AIDS/HIV, alcohol, alcoholism, animal house, arrest, art, athletics, binge drinking, blogging, Blogroll, books, breaking news, Crime, criminal justice, culture, cyberspace, Disabilities, Disability Discrimination, discrimination, Employment Discrimination, entertainment, films, fraternities, Gay Literature, Higher Education, history, HIV/AIDS, hollywood, internet, journalism, Law, Law and Justice, leadership, literature, media, movies, news, novels, Politics, pornography, professors, random, religion, Terrorism, universities, war on terror, writing with tags , , , , , on December 18, 2008 by castagnera

åChapter Eleven
     When I came back downstairs Claire was waiting for me in the

front hall.  I guess she didn’t want to make a solo appearance.  We

walked out to the kitchen, which smelled of baked beans and onions,

through the sun room and out the back door into our yard.
      The six adults were all seated around a big round table that

I recognized as belonging to our neighbor, Charlie Halleck.

Knowing old man Halleck, I’d have bet anything he wouldn’t have

loaned it to dad if he had known what kinds of people would be

eating at it.  Off to the right a teeange boy and girl were playing

a lethargic game of badminton across the net that Arch must have

hastily put up earlier in the day.
     As Claire and I walked across the lawn to the table, I felt a

sudden rush of anxiety.  I recognized Dad’s co©counsel, Lawrence

Fishbine Berger, because Archie had done some real estate work with

him in the past.  And I recognized Dorothy Berger, his wife, who

had been to dinner at our house a couple of years ago.  By process

of elimination the third, and youngest, male at the table had to be

Dennis J. Lustig.
     My first impression of Denny Lustig was that he had to be

related to the actor Tom Cruise, who had just burst upon the movie

scene with a sexy little comedy called “Risky Business.”  Cruise

had played a teen who, left alone at home for the weekend, turned

his house into a brothel for two days.  Naturally, Mom had objected

to my seeing it, but I had managed to catch it at the Lawrence Park

Shopping Center on a Saturday afternoon anyway.‘’3[1]0*†(†(∞

‘å     Every girl I knew, who had managed to see the picture despite

her parents’ protests, was in love with Cruise, and for that reason

every guy who, like me, had slipped in to see it, hated him.  And

Lustig was just about as good looking as the famous young actor.
     Lustig looked particularly appealing, placed as he was between

Archie and Larry Berger.  If ever there was a Laurel and Hardy of

the law, my Dad and his sometime co©counsel were that duo.  As big

and round and fat as the old man was (and pretty much still is,

despite the ice cream aversion), Berger was as thin and stooped and

stringy.  If Lustig was the Tom Cruise of the case, Berger was the

Walter Matthau.  But I’m probably getting you confused with all my

movie allusions.  Suffice it to say that, if and when they ever

entered a Bucks County courtroom, the client ©©© even though he was

under an HIV death sentence ©©© was going to look dazzling in

contrast to his two attorneys.
    As Claire and I came into the backyard from the sun room we had

let the screen door slam behind us.  Everybody at the table had

looked up at once, and Archie lumbered to his feet, knocking his

molded plastic lawn chair over behind him.  He looked beleaguered

and the blue barbeque apron he wore was smeared with drying red

sauce and sundry other, unidentifiable food products.
    “Hey, kids, glad you finally made it,” he said in what I

recognized as phony©jovial tones.  The stress Archie was enduring

was hidden just below a very thin layer of congeniality.

    “Ned… Claire… I’m sure you remember Mr. and Mrs. Berger.”‘’40*†(†(∞

‘å     “Hi.”
Claire and I smiled insincere, forced little smiles at the Bergers.

Mr. Berger, slumped back in his molded plastic chair… one of a

dozen Dad had purchased en masse from an end©of©summer sidewalk

sale at the Manoa Shopping Center last August and then left stacked

in the backyard all winter to turn from white to a cruddy©looking

shade of gray… lethargically waved the hand that wasn’t holding

his scotch on the rocks. “Hi, kids.  Great to see you two again.”

Yeh, sure.
    Mrs. Berger, by contrast, leaned forward so that her cleavage

became clearly visible to my pubescent stare.  Two very thin

shoulder straps, which seemed to be little more than bits of twine,

held up her dress, which barely contained her ample bosum.  She

flashed a big smile at us, revealing a mouthful of braces.  By 1985

middle©aged orthodontic work had become all the rage and Mrs. B.

obviously was right on the cutting edge of the trend.  Her big

smile compressed her eyes down to two slits and some of her

heavily©applied sky©blue eyeshadow cracked and flaked.
    “Oh, my, you two have gotten so big.  Claire you’re quite the

woman.  Your father reminded me before you got her that you’re

almost Gwenny’s age.”
    Turning round in her chair, so that I now got to study her

bare, freckled right shoulder and back, she shouted as if her

daughter were two or three backyards away.  “Gwenny, get over here‘Ä%50*†(†(∞

and meet the McAdoo children.  You too, Justin.  Put those racquets

down and come here.” 
    The Berger offspring appeared to be no more enthusiastic about

this close encounter of the teenage kind than Claire and I were.

But we went through the motions of shaking hands and getting

acquainted.  Then Archie, still standing uneasily throughout this

ritual completed the introductions.
   “Claire… Ned, this is Mr. Lustig.”
    Claire smiled at Dennis Lustig.  Being a girl she could get

away with not shaking his hand.  But I was a boy,,, a young man…

of 16.   I leaned across the table and proffered my limp right hand

to Mr. HIV himself.  Lustig practically leaped to his feet and took

my flaccid paw in his own strong right hand and pumped it

enthusiastically.  My arm undulated like a length of linguine.
     “Ned!  What a pleasure.  Your father tells me you’re now part

of the Lustig litigation team,” he bubbled.  “If you’re anything

like your heroic father, I’m just thrilled to welcome you onboard

our Starship Enterprise.”
     I found it disconcerting the way he stared right into my eyes,

his own a mix of mischievousness and a probing quality, as if over

time he had developed the habit of trying to ascertain what the

people he met really thought about him.  The other disturbing

quality about his eyes was their color… a sort of violet that

seemed at once beautiful in a feminine way and quite unnatural.‘#60*†(†(∞

‘å    “Uh, yuh… I’m pleased to meet you too.”  But of course quite

the opposite was true, and I knew Lustig could see that in my eyes

and feel it in my ‘dead fish’ handshake.
     I pulled back my hand and suppressed the urge to wipe the palm

on my pants leg.  Lustig’s eyes held onto mine for another long

second or two, the obvious amusement in them very disconcerting to

     “And this,” my Dad chimed back in, “is Marsha Milhouse, the

executive director of the Pennsylvania AIDS Law Project, which is

co©counseling Dennie’s case with us.”
     For the first time I noticed the woman sitting to Archie’s

left at the picnic table.  Her hair was brown and cut almost

boyishly short.  Her face was round and full, her body a bit

chunky, maybe even muscular… for a woman, that is.  She smiled,

stood up and shook my hand far more firmly than even Lustig hand

done.  (And his handshake had been pretty firm for a f… I stopped

myself from thinking that word.  That word was for Big Will Hadden

and his fascist father, not for Archie McAdoo’s son.)
     Milhouse also held out her hand to Claire, who took it and

shook it awkwardly.
     “Ned,” said Milhouse, turning her attention back to me and

still standing up, “your father tells me that you’ll be helping

prepare our case for trial this summer.”
     “Uh, yeh, right,” I said somewhat uncertainly. ‘#70*†(†(∞

‘å     “”That’s right, Marsh,” Archie added.  “As Denny so aptly put

it, young Ned, my son and heir, is officially a part of the crew of

the Starship Enterprise.”
     With that, the old man bent over, hoisted his bottle of

Budweiser from the table and toasted me with it. 
     “Welcome aboard, lad,” said Larry Berger, taking a long pull

at his glass of scotch.
     “Here, here,” said ‘Marsh’ Milhouse, picking up her own beer

bottle and taking a swig from it.
     Lustig and Mrs. Berger each picked up some kind of a foamy

pink drink that they had in front of them, gave a little toast in

my direction and took little sips that left flecks of pink foam on

their upper lips.
    Licking off the foam, Lustig added, “I adore your dacquerys,

    I noted furtively out of the corner of my left eye that Mom,

who had remained silent through this whole get©acquainted ritual,

didn’t pick up her drink… a Diet Coke, if I knew my Mother… to

toast my being beamed onboard the Lustig spaceship.  Whatever

planet I was bound for with my Dad and his “team”, Mom was not

making the voyage either in person or in spirit.
     By the time the little ritual was completed the Berger kids

had managed to finish their badminton game and swagger over to the

picnic table.  Archie and Mrs. Berger handled the introductions

among us kids.  ‘Ä%80*†(†(∞

‘å     “The food won’t be ready for another half hour,” added Archie.

“Why don’t the four of you go listen to some tapes in the family

room and get to know each other better?  I’ll give you a shout when

the chow is coming off the grill.”
     The four of us looked at each other a little uncertainly and

shrugged in acceptance of Dad’s suggestion.
     As we turned to head inside, Lustig was on his feet, the eyes

still sparkling their violet mischief.  “I love music,” he

proclaimed.  “Does anybody mind if I tag along?”


‘åôChapter Twelve
     The first few minutes down in the family room were a little

awkward.  The room was pleasantly cool, the old couch and chairs

the most comfortable furniture in the whole house.  Dennis Lustig

had refilled his dacquery glass before leaving the backyard.  The

rest of us got cans of soda from the refrigerator at the foot of

the basement stairs.  The awkwardness began to fade from the room

as we discovered that we all shared a liking for Lou Reed.
     I put the tape on the stereo and soon Lou was half singing,

half speaking, “take a walk on the wild side.”  When Reed reached

the line in the song that says, “he shaved his legs and then he was

a she… take a walk on the wild side,” Lustig, who was sitting

alone in a chair diagonally to the left of the couch where Jasaon

Berger and I were sprawled, looked at us with those weird but

appealing eyes of his and said,
   “He’s gay, you know.”
   There was a moment of awkward silence and surprise. 
   Finally, a second before all the earlier awkwardness could fall

on us like a wet blanket, I responded.
    “Who?  the guy in the song?  Obviously.”  I tried to sound

     “Well, sure, him too,” replied Lustig.  “I meant Lou Reed.”
     Jason apparently had recovered from his initial surprise,

shared I’m sure by all four of us kids, that Dennis Lustig would be

so up front about a subject that was still pretty much taboo in

‘burbs the likes of Havertown.‘’:[1]0*†(†(∞

‘å     “How can you possibly know that?” Larry’s rather pudgy son and

heir asked in a challenging tone of voice. ” I never heard that he

     Lustig flashed Berger the Younger a condescending smirk. 
“Trust me, my dear,” he almost purred, “I make it my business to

know the queens who are making their marks.”
     This deliberate gender switching had a titillating effect on

me, though it clearly made Jason uncomfortable and more defensive.

Claire and Gwen were flipping through Claire’s albums and tapes,

close by one of the stereo’s two speakers.  If they had heard this

dialog they never let on.
     “So √
ƒ do you know?” Jason pressed, crossing his legs and

holding his Diet Coke can with both hands in his lap.
     “How do I know?” Lustig replied in even, velvet tones.  “Well,

young Jason,” he continued after a delicate sip of his daquery,

“first, I would be quite certain of it ©©© even if I didn’t know

Lou personally ©©© merely by his voice, his clothes, his lyrics,

his phrasing… Dear God, it all says, ‘I’m queer as a three dollar

bill and proud of it, darlings.'”
     Of course, it was the parenthetical that had hooked us.
     “You know Lou Reed?” Jason and I seemed to ask simultaneously.

Our duet caught the girls’ attention, and all eyes turned to Dennis

Lustig, who seemed to bask in our gazes as if they were eight

spotlights turned on him.  For the first time I discovered how much

Dad’s pro bono client loved the limelight.

‘åô     For the next ten minutes, Lustig held his little audience in

the palm of his hand, as he described the gay scene in New York and

in New Hope, Pennsylvania.  He told us about the weird behavior and

kinky clothes that were part of “Cruising” in Greenwich Village,

which Al Pacino had dramatized in a scandalous film none of us had

been permitted by our parents to see (although Jason chimed in with

a slightly aggressive assertion that he and a friend had managed to

slip in to see it at a local mall multiplex theater).
     Lou Reed liked to perform in a black t©shirt and a leather,

billed cap that evoked Marlon Brando and motorcycle gangs.  Pacino

had been pictured on the movie posters in such a leather jacket and

cap, the jacket decorated with chains.  I now could picture Dennis

Lustig doffing his restaurant manager’s blue blazer and striped tie

and exchanging them for Reed’s black t©shirt and Pacino’s black cap

and shiny leather motrocycle jacket.  I saw him jingling in his

chains around my mental image of Greenwich Village.  
     Denny… we were all to call him Denny… had a knack for

making eye contact and of speaking in a hypnotic, conspiratorial

purr that kept even a teen’s short attention span in his firm

grasp.  The sense of being given a glimpse of not an “R” but, yes,

an “X” rated movie, and a documentary at that, insured our rapt

attention as he painted verbal images of cowboy bars and wild

parties.  Weaving through all the images were Lou Reed, “queer as

a three dollar bill,” and Denny himself.
     Even Jason had left off challenging Denny’s verasity after the

first five minutes of detailed descriptions, including how Lou‘'<[1]0*†(†(∞

Reed’s creative energy flooded through the front door when he

entered one of the Washington Square watering holes he and Denny

both frequented, announcing his arrival before anyone inside

actually spotted him.  Denny was the smiling, hissing serpent,

feeding us forbidden fruit and we loved it.
    Before we had quite had our fill, Archie shouted from the top

of the basement stairs, “Hey, you guys, dinner’s ready.  Come and

get it  before I eat it all myself.”  With Pop that might be no

idle threat.
    Claire turned off the tape and we all headed upstairs and out

to the backyard.  I was the last to leave the family room, turning

off the lights, as Mom had trained Claire and me to do.  As I

started up the stairs I saw that Denny was waiting at the top.
     As I climbed to where my head was about level with his chest

he put his right hand on my left shoulder and said,
     “You found all that pretty exciting, didn’t you, Ned?”
     My reaction was automatic.  I brushed his hand from my

     “Hey, relax,” said Denny in his most soothing voice.  “I can

tell you’re not cut out to be a sister.  I’m just pleased to see

that the new member of my trial team isn’t homophobic.  I can see

you appreciate the validity of alternative life styles.  That’s

all.”  He stayed where he was, forcing me to brush past him. 

Buy this book at

Serialization: Why My Dad Hates Ice Cream (4)

Posted in art, blogging, Blogroll, books, Crime, criminal justice, culture, cyberspace, entertainment, films, Higher Education, history, hollywood, internet, journalism, Law, Law and Justice, leadership, literature, media, murder, news, novels, pennsylvania, Politics, pornography, professors, random, relationships, Uncategorized, universities, Violence, writing on December 8, 2008 by castagnera

åôChapter Six
Looking back from the perspective of more than a decade, I see
a comical pair of guys facing each other across the few feet which
separated the desk chair from the foot of my bed.  In my mind’s eye
my dad is a Buddha in a business suit:  large and round of face and
belly and thighs, his feet tucked beneath the chair’s seat, crossed
at the ankles, beefy hands resting in his lap, his whole great
carcass seeming to be on the verge of a melt©down into a huge blob
on the floor.
And I am a sorry looking sixteen©year©old, hair dishevelled,
left eye swollen shut and surrounded by a mixture of putrid colors,
about half of Archie’s weight and still several inches shorter than
he was.
I favored Mom in her thinness, and the length and straightness
of her nose.  Unfortunately I favored my father in that my face was
sprinkled with half a dozen zits in various stages of development
or decline.
Staring at the carpet near my sneakered feet, Archie continued
talking softly, deliberately, as if considering every word.
“Ned, I’ve spent my whole life ©©© 45 years ©©© feeling
different.  In school I was always the fattest kid in the class.”
He shuffled his large buttocks on the vinyl seat, which was smaller
than they were, as if he was anxious about tipping off the chair.
“In high school and college I was the guy with the biggest and
nastiest©looking pimples.  The Haverford High bully used to lay for
me, too. His name was Herman Hilderbrand, incidentally.  He used to‘      ‘          0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘
call me ‘Ol’ King Clearasil.’  He once told me I was nothing but a
200©pound sack of pus.’  In college I stayed a virgin longer than
any other guy in my fraternity.”
At that point he looked up and his eyes met mine.  We both
blushed a little and found ourselves smiling at one another.
“I guess I went to law school because I thought being a
lawyer would give me the self©confidence and the weapons to fight
back a little better against a hostile world.  Instead I discovered
that under extreme pressure ©©© such as in a courtroom ©©© I break
into a stutter.
“That little surprise came during my second semester at
Temple Law, when we all had to finish off our first year with an
oral argument for moot court.  I barely got through it.  After that
I thought about dropping out.  But I stayed with it, though I
didn’t study very hard after that.”
Archie reached into his back pocket and dragged a handkerchief
out.  He blew his big, red nose really hard, then opened the
handkerchief to inspect the results… a habit of his that had
always disgusted me.  Seemingly satisfied with the results, he
rolled the end product up in the hanky and jammed it back into his
pants pocket.
“A two©three GPA from Temple didn’t get you many job offers
back then, anymore than it would today I guess.  Anyway, that’s why
I ended up in a solo practice right back here in my home town.  I
was lucky that a working girl ©©© your Mom ©©© would have me. ‘     Ä%¬         0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘
Otherwise I probably would never have been able to afford a house
and a family.”
Archie reached back toward the pocket where he kept his hanky
and I thought, “Oh, no, he’s gonna blow it again.”  But this time
he just readjusted the handkerchief, and then shifted his rear end
a little on the shiny black vinyl seat, his buttocks making a
squeaking noise on the seat.  He looked at me a little embarrassed,
as if fearful that I thought the sound was him breaking wind…
another nasty habit of Archie’s, when he thought no one was paying
any attention.
As for me, I seemed to be noticing all these little details of
my Dad’s behaviour… in fact, can see them clearly still across
the gap of a dozen very busy years… as if the day’s traumatic
events had left me with new found powers of concentration.  I can’t
recall shuffling my feet or interrupting Archie’s monologue even
“Ned, I know your Mother thinks this Lustig case is just one
more of my follies, like the time I took three months off from the
practice to try and write that mystery novel.”  He paused a second,
as if considering his opponent’s argument, and perhaps finding it
to have merit.  “And I have to admit there are some similarities.
What I mean is, part of this is another try at amounting to
something better than just a small town attorney.  I have to admit
that.”  He was staring at that spot on the carpet just in front of
my feet again, shaking his head back and forth ever so slightly.‘     Ä%          0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘å     Suddenly he raised his head and caught my eyes with his big,
watery blue ones.  The intensity of his gaze startled me a little
“But, Ned, there’s a lot more to it than that.  Ned, son,
Dennis Lustig is in his special way different, the way I’ve always
felt a little different in mine.  First of all he’s gay…
not a ‘queer’ or a ‘faggot’, by the way, no matter what that Hadden
kid or his neo©Nazi father may want to call him.”  Was this passion
I was seeing in Pop’s face, hearing in his voice?  I straightened
up and returned his stare with my one open eye.
“Additionally, son, Lustig is sick.  He’s HIV positive.  Do you
understand what that means.”
Trying to reply, I realized I had been listening silently all
this time and had never cleared the phlegm that had accumulated on
my throat when I had been sobbing on my pillow a few minutes
earlier.  I cleared it now.
“Sure, Dad.  I know.  Everybody knows about HIV and AIDS.
They teach us about them at school.”
“You say that with such certainty, Ned.  But, you know, just
four or five years ago, not one American in a hundred could have
told you what either one of those conditions was.  Even today,
about all that’s known is that its usually sexually transmitted,
there’s no cure, and so if you get it, it’ll eventually kill you.”
Another pause, then, “That’s what Denny Lustig lives with
every day now.  It’s what’s waiting for him when he wakes up in the‘     Ä%!         0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘
morning.  And now he’s been denied the dignity of even holding a
“That’s the other reason I took this case, Ned.  Just once I
want to do something that really matters in the scheme of things.
This disease, this AIDS thing, is gonna be around for a long time.
It’s gonna hurt a lot of people.  People, such as their employers,
can make things better for these victims, or like Freeman’s Dairy
Bar, they can make it much, much worse.  The law should protect the
Dennis Lustigs.  That’s part of why I became a lawyer in the first
place.  I sort of lost sight of that for… ”
He smiled a little, at himself I guess. “…for the past 19
years.  Can you understand what I’m trying to say, son?”
This time it was my turn to shift my bottom around a little
nervously, and to clear my throat again.  A swirling mixture of
images and emotions filled my head.  I felt both anger and
something new… respect? …
“Yeh, Pop, I understand.  But…”
“But, like your Mom, you didn’t bargain for all the flack
that’s apparently coming your way because of my decision. Right?”
Now it was my turn to look him in the face with my one good
eye.  “Yeh, Dad, that’s right.  Look, I’m a little bit of an
outsider at school, myself.  You know?  And I don’t need Will
Hadden and his merry band of apes stalking me in the hallways.
Okay?  I mean…”  I dropped my head, my righteous anger suddenly
dissipated, feeling as if I might start bawling again.  “Look, Pop,‘     Ä%”         0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘
I don’t need to be a one©man leper colony.  I don’t think I can
handle it.”
Quicker than I thought my old man could move his 290 or 300
pounds, Archie was on his knees in front of me, drawing me towards
him with his big, beefy arms, and hugging me like I was about to
drop off the edge of the earth and he was hanging on to keep me
from going.  He seemed to be sniffling.  And, just as if I were six
or seven again, I put my head on his broad right shoulder and tears
streamed again from my good right eye.

‘      ‘#         0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘åôChapter Seven
Like so many of our adolescent fears, my fear that my junior
year at Haverford High would turn into a living hell proved to be
extremely exaggerated.  Even we top©track students called him
‘Weasel’, but Mr. John Brennan, the school’s assistant principal
and head disciplinarian, was known for absolute fairness and for
taking no prisoners.  His investigation of the Hadden©McAdoo close
encounter resulted in no punishment for me, beyond what had already
been imposed on my face by Big Will himself.
As for Hadden, he not only missed the Lower Merion meet ©©©
which, thank heavens, Haverford won without him ©©© but was
suspended from the wrestling team for an additional two weeks.
More importantly, Mr. Brennan let it be known that Archibald McAdoo
was off limits to retribution.  So while I was subjected to some
harsh glares from Hadden and his cronies, no one laid a hand on me
or openly harassed me after that.
Meanwhile, like all lawsuits, √
√Lustig v. Freeman’s Farm Dairy
Bar and Restaurantƒ
ƒ settled into the rhythm of its investigatory and
preparation stages, when the news media more or less loses sight of
it and the professionals ©©© in this case Pennsylvania Human
Relations Commission fact finders and the attorneys for the two
parties ©©© quietly go about their business behind the scenes.  Pop
lost a couple of clients over it, Mom continued to stiffen every
time the case was brought up within her hearing, but the Haverford
community, including the kids at Haverford High, put the case in
the back of its collective mind.‘      ‘$         0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘å     To my surprise there was one more reason why my fears of daily
persecution in the halls of Haverford High never came to pass. Mr.
Brennan, it turned out, was not the only person there of whom the
students were now wary.  The word had spread among all 4000 of them
that a top©track honor student, and one with a reputation (to the
extent they had heard of him at all) of being a bit of a wimp, had
attacked Big Will Hadden… and left him writhing in agony on the
cafeteria floor.  Like a latter day Billy the Kid, I had become
something of a legend in my own time.  Friends told me the rumors
included speculation that I was a black belt in karate or kung fu.
And so, life went on.
January passed, as did the spring term, and then it was June.
The Human Relations Commission found merit in Dad’s charge that
Dennis Lustig was the victim of handicap discrimination when he was
fired by Freeman’s restaurant, the Freeman family predictably
refused to rehire Lustig, and the old man and his co©counsel, Larry
Berger, filed a complaint in the Bucks County Court of Common
Pleas.  This step resulted in a news conference.  The fresh
publicity cost Archie another client.  But by then I was out of
school for the summer, so whatever the kids at Haverford High were
thinking didn’t matter much to me.

‘      ‘%         0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘åChapter Eight
It was another Thursday night, this time in mid©June, and the
Clan McAdoo were celebrating, as was our family tradition, the end
of another school year.  Having walked on those figurative eggs for
the past five months, since the infamous Big Will Hadden incident,
I felt special reasons to party.
“Uno!” declared Claire, laying down a yellow ‘Draw Two’.
Archie made a great show of grummbling as he drew two cards from
the deck.
Okay, okay… to those of you who are thinking that ‘Uno’ is
a kid’s game, and that everyone around that kitchen table from
Claire on up through me and Mom to Pop was too old to be playing
it, let me say that the card game had become another McAdoo
tradition.  In fact we had a score book dating back to around 1980,
that contained a running tabulation of our individual victories.
For instance, my page reflected the four hundred and twenty©two
wins I had achieved to date.  I should also note that another
McAdoo family tradition was to be absolutely merciless toward one
another when it came to any game we played together, but especially
when it came to Uno.
“Sorry, Mom,” I said in a tone of mock contriteness, as I
played a ‘Draw Four” card.  “The new color is blue,” I added
“I’m sure your poor little heart is just breaking,” said Mom,
picking her four cards from the deck.  “You wait until the order
gets reversed, smart guy.”‘      ‘&         0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘å     Claire, who had just shovelled a big paw©full of popcorn into
her mouth, tossed a blue three onto the heap and shouted “I’m out”,
sending several pieces of popcorn leaping from her mouth onto the
The rest of us started counting up the points we were stuck
with in our hands.  Claire, who was by another McAdoo tradition
always the score keeper, gleefully recorded our points.
“Three,” Archie reported.
“Eighteen, Dad,” said Claire, making the notation in our record
book.  “That gives you a big eighteen.”
“Five,” I mumbled.
“Whoopsie, Nedster,” chortled my litle sister.  “That puts you
over the top with a big twenty©two. So©o©r©ry.”
“Yeh, I know you are, Sis,” I said.
Claire’s big brown eyes turned to Mom.
“Eleven,” admitted our mother, who hated to lose.  (Archie
always said she would have made the better lawyer in the family.)
“Twenty©seven, Momsy,” giggled Claire.  “Looks like it’s just
you and me, Poppo.  And I only have twelve little points.  Care to
I got up to go and use the bathroom, not much interested in
the outcome of the game, since I was out of the running.  As I
headed out of the kitchen, Archie asked, “Where you going, Ned.”
“Little boys’ room, Dad,” I responded, turning back to face
“You’re coming back, right?”‘      ”         0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘åô    “Aw, I don’t know, Pop.  It’s not my night.” I said.
“Well. let’s just play one more game,” he said.  This should
have put me on my guard, as much as if Arch had cleared his throat,
because Uno was definitely not one of the old man’s great loves.
He played because he believed, as he often said, “A family that
plays together stays together.”  The way we usually bickered during
these cards games, I wondered sometimes if the cliche shouldn’t be
rewritten to read, “A family that plays together brays together.”
Whatever, by sixteen it was clear to me that Archie did his part in
maintaining this McAdoo tradition out of a sense of commitment, not
out of love of the game.  And since we had played the mandatory
three games per session, I should have known his demand for a
fourth game had an ulterior motive.
I used the powder room in the center hall and then sat back
down at the table.  Pop picked up the deck and bgan dealing… a
task he particularly disliked.   As we picked up and sorted our
cards, Archie’s throat©clearing ritual began.  At last my guard was
aroused.  Furthermore, I could sense Mom tense up too.  Only Claire
went on sorting and resorting her hand, while stuffing the last of
the popcorn into her mouth.
“Ned, Mom tells me you’re planning to drive down to Wildwood
this weekend and look for work,” was the old man’s opening gambit.
“Yeh, Pop, that’s right,” I responded uneasily.  The card game
proceeded lethargically, as Pop continued, “You’re getting
close to college age.”  He indulged himself in a last round of
throat clearing. “And I think it’ll improve your chances a lot of‘      ‘(         0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘
getting into a good school if you have some worthwhile experience
on your resume.”
So, okay, I was ready to bite. “Like what, Dad?”
“Yes, Archie, like what,” Mom chimed in warily, playing a card
as she did.
“Like how about the Peace Corps?” Claire contributed merrily.
“Do they have an office in Afghanistan?”
“No,” said Archie, giving Claire a warning look. “Like working
for me.”
Obviously ol’ Arch had not talked this over with Mom in
advance, or even given her a little clue.
“Doing what, exactly?” she asked, taking the words out of my
“Well, hey, there’s the sweeping, and the filing, and…”
“Ease up, Claire,” said Archie, a little edgy as he pushed
“Larry Berger and I can use some help with the Lustig case.
Since it’s pro bono, we really can’t afford to hire a law student
as a summer clerk.  And it’s all stuff that with a little training,
I think Ned could handle.  It looks like we might be coming to
trial by the end of the summer.”
“You mean I won’t get paid, Pop?”
“Oh, sure, I’ll pay you.” Archie paused.  “When we’ve won the
case.  Even though it’s pro bono, when we prevail, the law allows
us to collect reaosnable attorney fees.”
“Don’t you mean if you win, Dad?” I pressed.‘      ‘)         0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘å     It was Mom’s turn to play again.  But she put her cards down
on the table in front of her and folded her hands in front of her
“Archie, I don’t think I want Ned involved with that case.
Remember what that Hadden kid did to him back in January?  And what
about this Lustig person?  He’s a homosexual.  And he has an
incurable disease.  I don’t want Ned exposed to him.”
Sound arguments, thought I.  But the old man was more
determined than I would have expected.  He had his arguments ready.
He marshalled them now and pushed ahead.
“Yes, Karen, Dennis Lustig is gay.  But he isn’t flagrant about
it.  He wouldn’t try to seduce Ned.”  Claire giggled at this,
winning warning looks from both our parents at once.
“Second, he isn’t ill.  That is, not in any way you would
recognize to look at him.  Yes, he is carrying HIV in his
bloodstream.  But you can’t contract it from casual contact.”
Mom looked skeptically at Archie, but didn’t interrupt him.
“That’s the whole point of this lawsuit.  Even working with the
food at the restaurant, he can’t pass the virus on to any co™workers or customers.  He should never have been fired.  We’re
moving for an order to reinstate him.  That’s why the case is
coming up so quickly.”
At this point, Mom made one of her very few fatal blunders in
her many years of dealing with my Dad.  And her misstep cost me a
summer on the beach in Wildwood, New Jersey.‘     Ä%*         0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘å     “Archie, even if all that is true, that man is a complete
stranger… to me and to Ned.”
At the distance of a decade I could swear that a smile ©©©
only a real small one, mind you ©©© crossed Archie’s face in that
instant. “I gotcha.” it seemed to say.
“I thought about that, honey,” he replied.  “That’s why I’ve
invited Denny over for dinner next Saturday.”
“You did what?” Mom alsmost shouted.  At this point Claire
flashed me a quick glance that said eloquently “I’m oughta here,”
and slipped from the table without even pushing her chair back.
A pause… then, “Don’t think I’m cooking.”
But Archie was as prepared as any good attorney in a court of
law.  “No problem,” he responded.  “I’m going to do a barbeque in
the back yard.  Larry Berger will be here too.  You’ll love his
wife, Ina, and they have a couple of kids who are pretty close to
Claire and Ned’s ages.”
Now it was Mom’s turn to leave the table, but much less quietly
than Claire had gone.  Her huffy departure left Archie and me
together in the kitchen.  Pop looked down at the cards which he
still held in his right hand and then up at me.
The small, sly smile of a winner returned to his big moon face.
“I guess we can just call it a draw, Ned.  What do you think?”
Chapter Nine
Mom was true to her word.  During the following week she said
nary a word about the upcoming barbeque feast.  Neither did the old
man.  At meals and other times that Mom and Pop had to be together‘      ‘+         0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘
in the house they circled each other warily, like two wolves,
destined to be mates but each appreciating the other’s potential
for suddenly snapping the tip off of an ear or a tail.
As for me and Claire, like two wolf cubs instinctively aware
of the tension between their parents, we steered clear of them both
so far as we could.  The weather that mid©June week was balmy and
inviting to two teenagers.  Most days we biked together to the
Hilltop Swim Club and spent our days hanging with our respective
cliques of friends and working on our summer tans.  I feared it
might be my only uninterrupted opportunity to develop the kind of
bronzing every sixteen year old boy desires.
Big Will Hadden’s family didn’t belong to Hilltop.  His Dad was
a member of the more prstigious Llanerch Country Club, which had
its own indoor and outdoor pools.  But a couple of Hadden’s best
buddies did belong to our pool club.  They, too, were on the scene
that week, which resulted in a second instance of careful circling,
as if young male wolves were vying for primacy in their pack.
Fortunately, Big Will’s buddies didn’t realize just how scared
of them I really was.  My attack on their leader in the high school
cafeteria back in January, and my great good luck in disabling my
opponent, were not events I had any hope or wish
of repeating.  I was careful not to be alone in the men’s shower
room or in the deep end of the pool when “the boys”, as I began to
think of them, were around.
From Monday through Thursday of the week of the ‘Big
Barbeque’, as I now like to remember it, there was a sameness to‘      ‘,         0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘
everything.   The weather was a balmy 80 degrees, the skies clear
and blue, the pool water almost as blue.  Archie and Mom steered
clear of each other, and the one time we McAdoos all got together,
dinnertime, the topic of the barbeque was carefully avoided.  In
fact, conversation was kept to a minimum.  After dinner, Mom,
Claire and I all retreated to our respective rooms while Archie
went into his study, ostensibly to work.
By Friday evening Claire and I shared an unspoken need to
break the tension.  In my memory Claire was the one to suggest that
we try our long©neglected gambit ©©© our lawyer jokes.  It’s no fun
being in an uncommunicative family, especially when that family
seems headed for an imminent disaster.  Desperate times called for
desparate acts and so I agreed.  Claire and I reviewed and
rehearsed a few of our old favorites in her room.
“How do you keep a lawyer from chasing ambulences?”
“Why have all the research labs switched from white rats to
“The scientists tend to develop some affection for the rats.”
“What do jackels and lawyers have in common?”
“They both eat what they kill.”
“Whew… that one’s really a low blow. It’s what Dad used to
say before he took the ‘you know who’ case.”
“Yeh, we’re ready.  Let’s go!”
As quietly as possible we slipped out of Claire’s room and
past Mom’s partly opened door.  She was watching TV and reading a‘      ‘-         0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘
paperback book, something Mom liked to do simultaneously.  She
never noticed us shuffle by and head down the front stairs.
We tiptoed up to Archie’s closed door.  Claire was already
stifling nervous giggles in anticipation.  I myself was in a
vengeful mood.  We took our positions up close to the door and were
about to launch into our routine, when we heard an un©
characteristic clanging sound come from inside the sanctum
sanctorum.  This was followed by a series of four©letter words,
just as uncharacteristic where our father was concerned.
Claire and I looked at one another in shared bewilderment.
Another clang was followed by another string of naughty words.
“What the heck’s going on in there,” Claire asked in a high,
squeaky voice.
“Shh… not so loud,” I commanded, then, “Beats me.”
We must have had the same idea at the same time again,
because we looked into each other’s eyes, then turned our heads and
simultaneously stared at the door knob.  I was the one to gently
reach out and turn it just enough to be able to open the door a
mere crack.  Claire and I almost bumped heads as we turned and bent
down to peek into Archie’s study.
Our Dad was sitting on the small, round Oriental carpet in the
middle of the floor.  In one hand he held a pair of pliers, in the
other a screw driver.  He mumbled incessantly to himself, so that
he would have been unlikely to have heard even our lawyer jokes,
had we proceeded with them.  Plans and booklets were strewn around
him, together with screws and bolts of all sizes and a number of‘      ‘.         0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘
oddly©shaped metal parts.  Half assembled in the very center of the
rug was a strange black creation.
“What…?” Claire began in a shrill whisper.
I put my finger to my lips, signaling silence.  I looked at
the strange concoction, then at the remaining parts scattered
around it and my Dad.  It hit me.
I carefully closed the door and motioned for Claire to follow
me into the living room.  She was just about bursting.
“What is it?  What’s he doing, Neddy?”
“It’s a new propane grill, Sis,” I responded.
“Holy cow.  Dad’s really going ahead with the ‘Big Barbeque’.”
“Yeh,” I said with a lot less enthusiasm than Claire was
projecting.  “It sure looks as if he is.”
“Well, it ought to be interesting,” said Claire.
“Oh, I have no doubt about that,” I replied.  My wistful hope
that the past week’s stalemate signaled Archie’s abandonment of the
‘Big B’, and perhaps even his plan to employ me for the summer,
evaporated like one of the little puddles left by our wet feet on
the concrete pavements beside the Hilltop pool.

‘      ‘/         0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘åôChapter Ten
The next day was a study in role reversals.  Although Mom had
almost always worked, like many working mothers she also got stuck
with shouldering most of the household chores.  The kitchen was, as
a matter of McAdoo rule and custom, a part of Mom’s domain.  But
this Saturday morning Mom was nowhere in evidence.
“Mom had to go in to the office,” Archie announced to Claire
and me when we walked into the kitchen at around 10 in the morning,
encountering him hard at work on some sort of chicken, which he
seemed to be cleaning in the sink.
Unlike Mom, the old man didn’t inquire about what we’d like
for breakfast or offer us any orange juice.  He just continued with
his labors, which turned to some kind of sausages which were so fat
and red that they reminded me of bruised appendages of some sort in
a horror movie lab.  He was mummbling softly to himself again, just
as we had caught him doing in his study the night before.
Claire and I exchanged wary glances and got our own orange
juice and raisin bran, ate up and slinked off.
More precisely, we got our bikes from the garage and rode off
together with no particular destination in mind.  We wound up at
the swim club.  Lacking suits and towels, we played some
shuffleboard and Claire watched as I held my own in a pick©up game
of hoops on one of the club’s three basketball courts.
The whole family had been so circumspect all week about
Archie’s infamous barbeque that Claire and I really weren’t too
clear about when the guests were arriving or whether we were‘      ‘0         0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘
expected to be in attendance.  Mom’s intentions remained a complete
mystery to the two of us.
After spending a couple of hours at the swim club we biked
back toward home but stopped off at the Manoa Shopping Center,
where we slipped into a booth at the Deli and had two chocolate
malts each.  We checked out new arrivals at the book and record
stores, and fiddled with the latest computer games and gadgets at
Radio Shack until the clerk asked us to leave if we weren’t
intending to buy anything.  By that time it was two o’clock.  We
had just about run out of diversions and excuses, and besides, our
curiosity had just about overcome our caution.  And so Claire and
I cruised back home.
Coasting down our street we spotted a couple of strange cars,
one a Jaguar, the other a ’56 Chevy, parked in our driveway.
Claire and I exchanged glances and started pedaling.  We scooted
past the cars in the driveway and leaned our bikes against the side
of the house.  Cautiously rounding the back corner of the garage
and peeking into the backyard we saw Dad and Mom talking to four
people Claire and I didn’t know.
Pulling our heads back before anybody spotted us, Claire and
I exchanged another cautious glance.
“I think we better get changed and put in an appearance, Sis,”
I said softly.
“I can’t believe Mom is back,” she replied, raising her
eyebrows to emphasize her sense of surprise.  That caused Claire’s‘     Ä%1         0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘
forehead to wrinkle in a way that I thought was cute even way back
“Yeh, that’s a shocker, alright,” I observed.  “Well, if she’s
partying, I guess we have to party too.”  Claire nodded in
agreement and we simultaneously turned and walked round to the
front of the house, went inside and upstairs to change from our
cutoff jeans and t©shirts into some more suitable clothes.

Buy this book at

‘      ‘2         0*†(†(∞ ∞    ‘å

Why Reforming Education Is a Critical National Priority

Posted in 1966, 2008 Election, aecond amendment, alcohol, alcoholism, animal house, animals, arrest, art, asia, athletics, Barack Obama, baseball, bichons, Biden, Big Business, binge drinking, blogging, Blogroll, books, breaking news, cars, cats, ceo compensation, Christmas, chrysler, Crime, criminal justice, culture, cyberspace, Democrats, diets, divorce, dogs, election, entertainment, environment, films, food, fraternities, gun control, high education, Higher Education, history, hollywood, immigration, intelligent design, international, internet, Israel, journalism, Law, Law and Justice, leadership, literature, marriage, mccain, media, medicine, middle east, movies, murder, murder in the 20th century, news, North Pole, pennsylvania, pets, Pigs, Pit Bulls, Polar Express, Politics, pornography, president, Presidential Election, prisons, professors, random, relationships, religion, Republicans, Santa Claus, Sarah Palin, science, science fiction, sciencec, second amendment, shooting, sports, study abroad, technology, Terrorism, time travel, Uncategorized, United Nations, universities, vegans, Vice President, Violence, VTU, war, war on terror, world affairs, writing on December 8, 2008 by castagnera

Why Reforming American Education Is Crucial
By James Castagnera
Attorney at Large
Last week in this space, talking about how to win the war on terror, I asserted, “The American workforce must be better prepared to compete in the global marketplace. When we are through congratulating ourselves on electing our first black president, let’s recall that inner-city high school graduation rates still hover at or below 50 percent in most major metropolises. Colleges are over-priced and inefficiently labor-intensive. We are cranking out too many lawyers and too few engineers and scientists.”
Just as I am convinced that our national security against terrorists rests primarily on good police work, secure borders, and a sensible immigration policy, the proliferation of drug wars, inner-city gangs, and campus crazies persuades me that education — like energy — is a national security issue.  I offer two reasons why.
First, no democracy can feel itself either fair or safe, when it allows an inner-city proletariat to persist and fester from generation to generation.  According to the cover story in the December 8th TIME Magazine, “Young Americans are less likely than their parents were to finish high school.”  Adds the article’s authors, “This is an issue that is warping the nation’s economy and security.”  They are right.
A report issued in April by America’s Promise Alliance and reported on Fox News found high school graduation rates below 50% in America’s 50 largest cities.  According to Fox, “The report found troubling data on the prospects of urban public high school students getting to college. In Detroit’s public schools, 24.9 percent of the students graduated from high school, while 30.5 percent graduated in Indianapolis Public Schools and 34.1 percent received diplomas in the Cleveland Municipal City School District.”
Consider this:  the odds that you or I will be the victim of one of these thousands of high school dropouts is astronomically higher than the chance that one of us will be killed by an international terrorist.  Philadelphia annually averages about 400 homicides, for example.  While many of these killings are drug dealers or gang members taking out their rivals in jungle-land turf battles, the collateral damage in innocent citizens, including kids, is heartbreaking.
We need only glance across our southern border to Juarez, Mexico, to see how much worse it could become.  As early this year as February 28th, the Dallas News reported 72 drug-related murders in Juarez and worried that the violence could begin spilling over the porous border.  In Mexico, the killings include public officials who try to oppose the warring factions.  “Among the dead there: journalists, a city council member and a police chief on the job just seven hours before he was gunned down. Additionally, the cartels tried to assassinate a federal legislator. And efforts to clean up the force have stalled, as nobody wants the job of police chief. Local media self-censors to survive.”  A popular way for cartel killers to communicate their message is to hang a beheaded corpse from a highway overpass.
How great is the distance between Philadelphia and Juarez?  Thousands of miles as the crow flies, but perhaps only a few years away in terms of escalating violence, as our uneducated proletariats turn in increasing numbers to the only livelihood likely to pay them well.
For those who do graduate from high school and hope to come to college, the current financial crisis may pose an insurmountable barrier.  College students already are regularly graduating with five-figure “mortgages” on their diplomas.  Often, if mom and pop are footing the tuition bills, an actual second-mortgage on the family homestead is how the money is raised.  Now, even that undesirable method may be slipping away, as home equity shrinks and major lenders like City Bank flounder.  We’ll have to wait and see whether the college class of 2013, which will come to campus in September ’09, will be substantially smaller than this year’s crop of collegians.  I predict it will be.
Those who can’t afford college probably won’t be working either.  This morning’s Philadelphia Inquirer’s front page reports the highest unemployment rate in 34 years: 6.7% nationally.  More than 500,000 jobs, adds the Inky, evaporated just last month.
More than 100 years ago, the famous defense attorney Clarence Darrow claimed, “There are more people go to jail in hard times than in good times — few people comparatively go to jail except when they are hard up. They go to jail because they have no other place to go. They may not know why, but it is true all the same. People are not more wicked in hard times. That is not the reason. The fact is true all over the world that in hard times more people go to jail than in good times, and in winter more people go to jail than in summer….  The people who go to jail are almost always poor people — people who have no other place to live first and last.”
The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, more than 700 people per 100,000.  Only Russia, some of the other states of the former USSR, and a couple of Caribbean countries come close.  Are we stronger on law and order than our sister democracies?  Or are we failing to provide alternatives to crime?
And where lies the greater threat to our security, Afghanistan or the city nearest your home?
[Jim Castagnera, formerly of Jim Thorpe, is a Philadelphia lawyer and writer.  His 17th book, Al Qaeda Goes to College, will be published in the spring by Praeger.]

Rider University Newswire article about my new book

Posted in 1966, 2008 Election, alcohol, alcoholism, animal house, animals, arrest, asia, athletics, Barack Obama, Biden, binge drinking, blogging, Blogroll, breaking news, ceo compensation, Crime, criminal justice, cyberspace, Democrats, election, environment, films, fraternities, gun control, Higher Education, history, hollywood, immigration, intelligent design, international, internet, Israel, journalism, Law, Law and Justice, leadership, literature, mccain, media, middle east, movies, murder, murder in the 20th century, news, novels, obama, Oil Companies, Palin, pennsylvania, Pigs, Pit Bulls, Politics, pornography, president, Presidential Election, prisons, professors, relationships, religion, Republicans, Sarah Palin, second amendment, shooting, study abroad, technology, Terrorism, Uncategorized, United Nations, universities, Vice President, Violence, VTU, war, war on terror, world affairs, writing on November 6, 2008 by castagnera