Friday, July 24, 2009

National Arbitration Forum: Good Riddance.

There's been a stunning development in the consumer collection trade that should be of interest to all the people who, like myself, labored in the trenches and got our asses kicked by kangaroo court consumer "arbitration" mills like the National Arbitration Forum and other similar monstrosities.

In my case, I got to a point where I headed for the showers because I just couldn't take the drama any more after four years of the stuff.

Lori Swanson, the Attorney General of the great state of Minnesota filed suit against the National Arbitration Forum, charging that it had violated consumer fraud, deceptive practice, and false advertising laws by concealing its ties to collection agencies and law firms. The NAF crumbled inside of a week and agreed to exit the consumer debt arbitration business.

Mike Kelly, chief executive of NAF said that now, consumers will have no alternative to costly and unpredictable litigation. He says the NAF did not have the resources to continue defending itself against state attorneys general, class action lawsuits and the like.

Well, Mike, with your crew of kangaroo court stooges on the case, what did consumers have except a deck stacked against them? In this context, "unpredictable" represents a significant improvement for consumers over NAF-style adjudication-in which the consumer invariably got hosed no matter what the merits of their cases were. If it was me, I'd say that the consumer is almost always better off with a sitting judge and the full range of rights and remedies, in a forum where judges listen to arguments and make decisions based on the facts presented.

As Billy Mays said "But wait! We're not finished yet!" Here's a standard argument I used in every arbitration case I handled. The National Arbitration Forum found for the claimant 99.6 per cent of the time, and marketed that statistic to collection side law firms such as McCann Bracken and Wolpoff and Abramson.

This is a good day for ordinary folks everywhere, and I would like nothing better than to see all the people that the NAF and McCann Bracken and the rest of that crew get haled into court to defend what they did to people and the perversion that they made out of arbitration.

One thing's for sure-it'll never be the same.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

High Summer

Today would have been my late father's birthday-he would have been 90. We miss him, with all his faults.

The small child in the baby dress was him as a young child. The other folks are some of my favorite people.

He rarely talked about his childhood or his growing up years in south Florida, and he was always a very private person-to the extent that sometimes I think I never really knew him very well.

What he believed in was character and endurance and taking responsibility for your actions. All of which are good values to live your life by, even if you come by them by a process of trial and error as I did.

Parenthetically, his declining years demonstrated that living under someone's sufferance is a harsh regime indeed, and one which we will not forget and do not forgive.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bastille Day

Today is the birthday of our sister republic. Of course it could be none other than France, which may well be the only place in the world I would choose as an alternate place to reside, if Iowa should ever become uninhabitable.

Bastille Day commemorates, of course, the storming of the Bastille, the prison fortress and hated symbol of royal privilege and tyranny, and the promulgation of the Declaration of the Rights of Man shortly thereafter in the year 1789.

Of course we here have a special bond with the people of France, because of her support of our own contemporaneous efforts to remove the boot of royalty from our necks.

It's also a date that is important to me personally because it was about this time we declared our independence from credit card hell 2 years ago, and the two of us declared our independence from tobacco in 1980.

High summer is the season for great liberations, and we're grateful. Ever has it been that the hopes and aspirations of people the world over have looked to both republics for inspiration, and even in the darkest hours the flame has flickered, but has proved unquenchable.

Long may she wave. Let her light burn brightly.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Just When You Thought Things Couldn't Get Stranger

Honest, folks. I'm not making this up. It sorta reminds me of the old science fiction movie Donovan's Brain.

According to people of unimpeachable integrity, the Person Formerly Known As Michael Jackson's brain was....ahem....removed for further study and investigation before the mortal remains were delivered for the festive occasion.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Tales From the Tonal Fringe: The Kitty Hawk M5

This is an orphan amp that followed me home this weekend and a price that couldn't be passed up. It's the Kitty Hawk M5 in a low power configuration and it's in more or less working order.

Kitty Hawk was a German production of the 1980s, and it did much to destroy the notion that Germans don't make crap from time to time and foist it off on an unsuspecting world. The build quality was indifferent and low quality components led to the exit from the market of Elektroakustic GmbH from what should have been a cakewalk.

I do not see how the fellows who built this amp with the components they used thought it could survive the rough and tumble world of the traveling musician. Woody's Quad Reverb survived a tumble down a flight of stairs and soldiered on for another ten years before he ever got the idea of fixing it up and sent it to me. The damage was truly astounding.

All that having been said, it's got some good features that should make for some interesting noodling on the tonal fringe. The tone's clear and bright, but volume is a little less than I expected which makes me think it needs some massaging. The old RCA glassware I plugged in last night is a start but more is needed.

Film at 11, as they say. If you stumble over this blog and you've got some technical information on these things, like a complete schematic diagram, you have earned some coffee. Please drop me a line.