Thursday, October 22, 2009

David’s Definitions for December 2009


To bring something up for discussion. At one time, moot could also refer to the discussion itself. This usage no longer survives in ordinary English, but it's still used in law school, where a moot court is a simulated court proceeding, part of the training of law students. Originally, a moot question was one that could be debated or was subject to argument. At some point in the 19th century, it came to mean a question that was no longer worth discussing, or one that had no practical application outside the realm of debate. The word traces back to 12th century England, when it referred to a meeting of the freemen of a shire to discuss local issues. In turn, it came from the even older word gemot, which was a meeting of freemen assembled to discuss issues or impose justice.

(Will be published in the December 2009 issue of Denver's Community News.)

I'm collecting all of these at:

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hate mail

In response to this essay on our Web site:

I read your mindless 'manifesto'  (sounds SO euro-for the people!)

You liberals are such wandering and aimless idiots. Your ultimate goal is nothing short of eradication of all the moral values of TRUE Americans, those who pattern themselves after the original revolutionaries who established this great country.  

Your only hope is in sheer numbers, since you fail miserably in moral fiber, original ideas and true partisanship.  You fools have no idea what it takes to build UP a country, only what it takes to tear one down.  And an that you're minions are doing a hell of a job!

Credit where due: This one was actually written in English.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Basal on my shoulder

Makes me unhappy.
Basal on my shoulder
Makes me frown.

The song John Denver never sang.

I have a basal carcinoma on my shoulder, which will be cut out on November 3. This might affect my weightlifting regimen. Such as it is.

It’s supposed to be the least dangerous kind of skin cancer, fortunately.

Once again, I wish I could go back in time and lecture my boy self about the sun and sunburn. Of course he wouldn’t have listened to some weird, old guy. Kids those days!

A Public Fine and Private Place

The story is now visible to the world at:

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

A Fine and Private Place

Title of a ghost story of mine, taken from the marvelous poem “To His Coy Mistress” by Andrew Marvell (a poem which, I once read, has provided more titles than any other, and no wonder).

It will be published in the new online magazine The Feral Pages, in the October/November issue. Thanks to Chris Holm for alerting me to the magazine, which has also acquired a story of his.

The editor wrote the following to me. (If I had a smaller ego I’d be embarrassed. If I had any shame, I wouldn’t reproduce his words here.)

This is a marvelously complex piece with which I am still peeling back the layers. I discover something new every time I read it. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to publish it.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Screwed by the state

When I was laid off by Quark in mid-May, I applied immediately for Colorado unemployment benefits. Everything sailed through smoothly. Oodles of paperwork arrived in the mail – notification of approval, how much I’d get, when it would start, what I had to do every week, and a thick book telling me the rules and Dos and Don’ts and procedures.

Included in the book was a brief sentence saying that I was required to notify the state if I withdrew money from a 401(K) to which my employer had contributed.

As it happened, my 401K had been doing surprisingly well, despite the financial meltdown. I made what seemed to be a very prudent decision. Since I had to move the money out of my now ex-employer’s 401(K) plan, I decided to roll half of it over into an IRS and use the other half to get us (finally!) completely out of debt, eliminating what had been a burdensome monthly payment. (The result of youthful indiscretions combined with some unavoidable emergencies. We’d been painstakingly paying down that result for years.) What a relief that was! And how much easier it would make it to survive on unemployment benefits while I searched for a new job.

Of course I notified the state about it. I figured that they would delay the beginning of my unemployment checks by a few more weeks because they would treat one-half of the employer’s contribution to my 401K as part of my severance package. That would have been fair and reasonable.

Then I received a letter from the state saying that under Sections 8-73-110 (3) (A) & (C) of the Colorado Employment Security Act, since I did not reinvest every penny of the 401(K) in an IRA or Keogh plan, the entire amount of the 401(K) was being treated as a lump-sum retirement payment. This delayed the start of my unemployment benefits until March of 2010.

I appealed, noting that I had reinvested half of the 401(K) in an IRA, and moreover that of the half I had withdrawn for my use, only a small portion was my employer’s money, as opposed to my own. Would I have been penalized the same way if the money had come from a regular savings account? No. Would it have hurt the state to mention this bizarre law in the thick booklet it sent to me? No.

I was given a hearing date. I went on schedule. I repeated all of the above objections to a hearing officer named Benedict, a tired man despite my being his first appointment of the day, a distracted man, an uninvolved man. He’d heard it all before. (To be fair, perhaps he was sympathetic but had been trained not to show it.) As I expected, the appeal was denied.

So there’s a law on the books that affects your unemployment benefits, but the booklet from the state that tells you what you need to know when you apply for unemployment doesn’t tell you about that law. It tells you that you must notify the state about a 401(K) withdrawal, but it doesn’t tell you what the consequences of such a withdrawal are.

I’m not living in Colorado. I’m living in Kafkarado.