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reports and thoughts on legal issues, music, Orthodox Christianity and/or whatever else strikes my interest

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Location: Houston, Texas, United States

My name is David Stone. I live in Houston, Texas. I am a 30-something single white male. I am an Orthodox Christian and am a member of an English-language parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR).

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Asbestos Bill Editorial

Here is an interesting editorial on the stalled Senate asbestos bill from the Los Angeles Times.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Battlefield Band

Last night I saw Battlefield Band in a standing-room only concert at the Mucky Duck.

Battlefield Band has been one of the mainstay acts in Celtic Music for the last quarter century.

They have been performing around the world for the past 30 years. More info on the band’s history can be found here.

The current lineup of Battlefield Band consists of Alan Reid, Mike Katz, Alasdair White and Sean O’Donnell.

The band put on a great show featuring a number of traditional Irish Scottish tunes as well as some original compositions.

The highlights included a setting of To a Mouse from the Robert Burns poem (which includes the famous line about the "best laid plans of mice and men"), Road of Tears the title track from their newest cd and some amazing piping and flute playing by Mike Katz. Alasdair White also joined Mike Katz on the bagpipes in an unbelievably rousing ending on one song. The band also played a hilarious yet jaw dropping rendition of Prince’s Kiss...complete with bagpipe solo..yeah you read that right.

More info on the band’s recordings can be found here. Mike Katz’s solo recording can be found here.

Monday, March 27, 2006

More Exhibits

Here is a link to Ken Lay's recently released exhibits from the ongoing Enron trial.

Here is an earlier post with a link to the DOJ's website of exhibits from the Enron trial.

Hearing on Sanctions regarding Mississippi Silicosis Claims

Defense attorneys representing nearly 100 companies are seeking $330,000 in sanctions against a Texas law firm for filing over 4,000 fraudulent silicosis claims in Mississippi.

This article has all the details.

Here is an earlier post on this same story.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Hank III

Photo from www.hank3.com/

First off, just a warning that some of the links in this post are going to be to "R Rated" sites. Sorry there is just no other way to do a post on Hank III.

"I like Hank Sr. and I like Hank Jr. But I like Hank III better than both of them."-David Allan Coe, True Outlaw and Country Music legend (quote from www.hank3.com/).

A few weeks ago I went with a buddy of mine to see Hank III (you can see Hank's official website here and a somewhat "cleaner" wikipedia entry here) who was playing over at the Meridian.

I have to admit up front that I am not a real big fan of Hank's music (though it has been growing on me) but was interested enough to go check out a live show.

The show was at the Meridian which is a relatively new concert venue in Houston. I was not really aware of this subgenre but there are apparently a lot of "Cowpunks/Hellbillys/Southern Goths" who are really into Hank III and showed up in large numbers for the show.

I can't find a link that adequately describes this phenomenon. It's like the kids who grew up in small rural towns over the last twenty years or so grew up listening to both country music and metal and punk bands. Now imagine a music style that is influenced by both oldschool honky-tonk country and punk and you will start to get the idea.
It was an interesting night to people watch for sure! I did not realize that there are people out there who actually still drink Lone Star! I also learned that it is considered a sign of respect for the performer if you hurl Lone Star or Shiner cans at the stage while he is performing. This was also the first time I have ever seen a mosh-pit at a country show!

Hank III put on a very entertaining concert and it was definitely worth seeing. His live show is much better than his recordings...IMHO. I still have mixed feelings about Hank's music over all though.

I think he has some real musical talent. His voice has an uncanny similarity to the voice of his grandfather at times. His first two cds demonstrate this pretty well.

Still it gets pretty repetitive when almost every song he records or performs is a variant on the same "ass-kicking/drug taking/hard drinking/hell-raising/woman chasing" theme. It just gets old after awhile when that's almost all there is.

I have to wonder how much of it is just "schtick" to sell records and how much of it is his actual lifestyle and personality.

The other frustrating thing to me is that when he does branch out musically it is into a hardcore punk direction that I just can't get into. I actually admire him if that is really the direction that he is interested in and wants to pursue. It's just not palatable to me and I doubt it is going to sell him many records.

Fortunately at his live shows he begins with an extended country set that gets progessively wilder but then takes a break before the punk set. He always tells (warns) the audience what to expect from the second set.

I decided to leave after the first set which was really a great performance of both oldschool and newly written "honky-tonk" music. Some of the high points of the country set were his performances of Cocaine Blues by Johnny Cash and David Allan Coe's You Never Even Call Me By My Name. He also did a really cool duet on Juke Joint Jumpin' with Wayne Hancock who is an interesting artist I will have to investigate more.

Inside the War Room

Here is a good article from the Associated Press on some of the behind the scenes details of the ongoing Vioxx trial in New Jersey.

Orthodox Inter-Seminary Movement Meeting

Here is a link to an article on the participation of ROCOR seminarians at the Orthodox Inter-Seminary Movement Meeting held at St. Tikhon's Seminary.

More on Townes

Since I saw Be Here to Love Me, the documentary on Townes Van Zandt, I have been reading up some more on Townes' life.

Here is a link to an interesting interview with his son J.T. Van Zandt. Just be warned that the language used in the interview is often "R rated".

Meeting of Representatives of Moscow Patriarchate and Old Rite Orthodox

Here is another link to a press release regarding a meeting between representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church of the Old Rite.

Ordination at Moscow Theological Academy

Here is a link to a press release on the ordination of Thomas Dietz, a member of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia at the Moscow Theological Academy.

This marks the first time that a representative of ROCOR has been ordained at a Seminary of the Moscow Patriarchate.

For more information on the ongoing dialogue between the Moscow Patriarchate and ROCOR see this link.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


As an Orthodox Christian I have been giving a lot of thought to fasting recently since it is the middle of Great Lent.

I thought I had been managing the fast fairly well…all things considered. : )

Then last night, for the first time, I really felt overwhelmed by all the fasting requirements and began to doubt whether I could continue to sustain the fasting throughout the remainder of Great Lent.

So I spent some time today reading some helpful articles and essays on fasting and Great Lent.

Here is a good general introduction to fasting in the Orthodox Church.

Here is a good essay on fasting and Great Lent from Bishop Kallistos and Mother Mary from the Lenten Triodion.

Here is an excellent essay on Lenten fasting found at the Orthodox Christian Information Center.

And finally, for whatever it's worth, here are the results of a scientific study on some of the effects of Orthodox fasting.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


The Department of Justice has set up a webpage where they are posting the government's exhibits in the ongoing Enron trial.

You can view the exhibits here.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Be Here to Love Me

Last week I finally had a chance to see Be Here to Love Me the documentary film on singer/songwriter Townes Van Zandt.

I thought this was a great documentary and a very emotional film. Granted, I am a big fan of Townes’ music. Still I think many people unfamiliar with Townes' music would enjoy this film. It is certainly a must see for any fans of Townes' music.

The documentary itself is very well done and remains interesting throughout. It is often sad though and even heartbreaking in some scenes.

The film also features such famous musicians as Guy Clark, Steve Earle, Willie Nelson, Joe Ely, Kris Kristofferson and Emmylou Harris, among others, who offer their recollections of Townes and his music.

I only had a cursory familiarity with Townes' life and career before seeing the film. I thought it did a good job of “connecting the dots” of his life and music.

The film does not hesitate to explore the alcoholism and drug addictions that plagued Townes through much of his life.

It also offers a devastating look at the effect this had on Townes' family and friends. These scenes are often very emotional and show that Townes was indeed a very troubled and at times extremely selfish man.

On a more positive note the film also looks at how Townes’ music touched many people throughout the world. The film mentions the hundreds of letters that came in from people all over the world when a Townes Van Zandt fan club was established. I found this scene particuliarly moving.

In the end it is a film that left me with many mixed emotions. I ended up feeling emotions of anger, pity and genuine sadness for both Townes and his family and friends.

This film should be seen, if for no other reason, as a cautionary tale for what substance abuse can do to even the most talented and gifted people.

More info on the film can be found here.

A DVD of the film is now available and can be purchased here.

The soundtrack to the film can be purchased here.

You can check out some of the lyrics to Townes' songs here.

Your eyes seek conclusion in all this confusion of mine
Though you and I both know it's only the warm glow of wine
That's got you to feeling this way, but I don't care,
I want you to stay
and hold me and tell me you'll be here to love me today

Children are dancin', the gamblers are chancin' their all
The window's accusing the door of abusing the wall
But who cares what the night watchmen say
The stage has been set for the play
Hold me and tell me you'll be here to love me today

The moon's come and gone but a few stars hang on on to the sky
The wind's runnin' free but it ain't up to me ask why
The poets are demanding their pay
They've left me with nothin' to say
'cept hold me and tell me you'll be here to love me today
Just hold me and tell me that you'll be here to love me today.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Lenten Epistle

The Lenten Epistle of His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, can be found here.

Friday, March 17, 2006


I should really hang out in the elevators at my office building more often.

Yesterday as I was leaving work I got on an elevator with a couple of attorneys. They were talking about the recent Congressional Hearing into the Silicosis Debacle.

You can see a video of the Hearing from the House Energy and Commerce Committee archived here (RealPlayer required).

They were also discussing how some doctors involved in diagnosing silicosis are now much more cautious in their recent depositions than they used to be.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

St. Patrick's Day at the Duck

Photos from www.chron.com/

Unfortunately I have to work tomorrow (what's up with that?!) so I will not be able to make the big St. Patrick's Day Celebration over at the Mucky Duck.

I will have to wait and celebrate when the Feast of Saint Patrick falls again on the Julian Calendar. : )

If you live in Houston you might want to go check out the festivities tomorrow. It looks like it should be a lot of fun.

The Houston Chronicle also has a good article on the Duck's regular Wednesday night Irish Session. I was there about a month ago when they came out to take pictures and research this piece.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Vienna Philharmonic

Last Sunday afternoon I was able to attend the concert by the Vienna Philharmonic at Jones Hall in Houston.

This was probably a once in a lifetime opportunity for me to hear what many believe to be the world's finest orchestra. It was truly a dream come true.

The orchestra was performing in Houston in a Society for the Performing Arts concert as part of its North American tour.

The orchestra was led by Italian conductor Riccardo Muti.

The program consisted of the Rosamunde Overture by Schubert, the Haffner Symphony of Mozart, The Tragic Symphony of Schubert and the tone-poem Death and Transfiguration by Richard Strauss.

As an encore the orchestra and Maestro Muti performed Giuseppe Verdi’s Overture to La Forza Del Destino.

The Vienna Philharmonic lived up to all of the hype I have heard over the years. They were without doubt one of the best orchestras I have ever heard,

The string section in particular was phenomenal. There were passages in Death and Transfiguration where the playing was amazingly passionate and also brilliantly executed technically.

The brass section also sounded very good and the tuba player had a very rich and powerful tone.

Muti gave very solid and traditional interpretations. Everything seemed very natural. The Strauss and the Verdi pieces really stood out.

The only, somewhat odd, thing I noticed was that at some of the big climax points in the Strauss the pivotal chords would be “staggered” by a single player entering just a split second before the rest of the orchestra. This happened a few times so it was obviously an intended effect. I've never heard that approach before.

I really can’t think of the last time I heard such great orchestral string playing except for the time the Philadelphia Orchestra came to Houston back in the late 1980s. If memory serves Muti was also conducting at that performance since he is a former Music Director of that orchestra.

Here is a link to a review of the concert in the Houston Chronicle.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Today I ran into Daniel Petrocelli and Jeff Skilling on the elevators in my building, not once, but twice!

The first time was when I was coming into work this morning. I had come in an hour earlier than usual and as I was getting on to the elevator Mr. Petrocelli and the rest of his entourage were just getting off. They were all headed across the street for this morning's session of the ongoing trial.

Then when I went to lunch I once again got on the same elevator with both Petrocelli and Skilling as they were headed back to court for the afternoon session.

For more on the Lay/Skilling trial check out the Houston Chronicle's excellent coverage here.

Monday, March 13, 2006


Two weeks ago I went to see the Alison Krauss and Union Station concert at the Verizon Theater. I've been meaning to post a review of the concert but am just now getting around to it.

First, the concert was sold out. That's pretty good for a bluegrass artist that is playing at a venue that often hosts big name rock acts. Fortunately I had bought a ticket in advance. I was amazed when I walked up to the hall and saw a huge line almost to the street. I've been to a few rock concerts at Verizon before and this was without doubt the longest line to get in that I had ever seen. By the time the show started I could only count a handful of empty seats.

Speaking of seats I used to think that there was not a bad seat at all in the Verizon Theater. It has always been one of my favorite concert venues in Houston. It still is but I did discover that there are indeed some bad seats there since I unwittingly bought a ticket for one. This seat was in a horrible location and had an obstructed view on top of that. I was worried that since the concert was a sell-out that I was just going to be stuck. I was actually getting pretty upset over the whole thing. Fortunately though just as the concert started I was able to move up to an open balcony seat that had a pretty decent view.

Overall I thought the concert was very good. I had never seen Alison Krauss before so I do not have anything to compare it with. This concert featured the full band including Jerry Douglas, the "world's greatest dobro player" and Dan Tyminski who is best known for his rendition of Man of Constant Sorrow from the film O Brother Where Art Thou.

Musically I was very impressed. I thought Alison Krauss sounded as good in live performance as she does on her well produced cds. The playing and singing of the rest of the band was also top notch. The concert featured the band together on several numbers as well as featuring the individual members of the group. Both Jerry Douglas and Dan Tyminski stood out in excellent performances. Jerry Douglas does indeed seem to stand up to the billing as "world's greatest dobro player".

Mostly though I enjoyed the songs featuring the whole group and the expert harmony singing of the guys behind Alison's voice. They made it all seem so effortless.

They performed a lot of their classic songs and most of the material from their new cd Lonely Runs Both Ways. A recording that I can highly recommend is the live concert set that gives a pretty good indication of what you can expect at one of their shows.

For an encore the group closed with a short gospel set of two songs: Down in the River to Pray and A Living Prayer written by band member Ron Block (Ron's website looks very interesting...obviously he is a very thoughtful Christian...check out his comments on A Living Prayer. This was undoubtedly the highlight of the entire concert. The group performed these two songs a cappella and the audience was completely spellbound. Alison absolutely unleashed the full expressive range of her voice on A Living Prayer. I have seldom heard singing that was so heartfelt and intense. I felt like I was pinned back in my seat by the sheer emotional power of her voice. It was a great way to end the show.

My only complaint was that the concert was over all too soon.

As an added bonus though I got to meet Dan Tyminski out by the tour buses after the show. He seemed like a really nice guy. I always appreciate the performers that take the time to visit with the audience after the show.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

From the Fathers

"Remembrance of wrongs is an interpreter of Scripture which explains the words of the Spirit allegorically in order to suit its own disposition. Let it be put to shame by the Prayer of Jesus which cannot be said with it."

St. John Climacus - The Ladder of Divine Ascent

From the Fathers

"Often during the day I have been a great sinner, and at night, after prayer, I have gone to rest, justified and whiter than snow by the grace of the Holy Ghost, with the deepest peace and joy in my heart! How easy it will be for the Lord to save us too in the evening of our life, at the decline of our days! O! save, save, save me, most gracious Lord; receive me in Thy heavenly Kingdom! Everything is possible to Thee."

St. John of Kronstadt - My Life in Christ

Another Fen-Phen Scandal

Here is a post from Overlawyered on the latest scandal involving fen-phen litigation.

Here is an earlier post from this blog on another fen-phen scandal as well as this more recent post.

From the Fathers

A brother asked an old man at Kellia, "Why am I always sitting in judgment on my brothers?" The old man replied, "Because you do not yet know yourself. Someone who really knows himself does not see the shortcomings of his brothers."

John Moschus - Leimonarion (The Spiritual Meadow)

Friday, March 10, 2006

Doctors take the 5th at Silicosis Hearing

Here are two recent articles covering the Congressional investigative hearing into the Silicosis Debacle.

This article from Mobile Register describes the proceedings.

This article from the Madison Record describes how some of the doctors invovled invoked the Fifth Amendment and refused to testify.

From the Fathers

"Prayer is a remedy against grief and depression."

Abba Nilus "The Sayings of the Desert Fathers"

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Congress Examines Silicosis Testing

Congress has now begun to subpoena some of the physicians and testing company owners involved in the ongoing investigation into the Silicosis Debacle.

Here are two recent articles on the Congressional investigation.

Here is an article from the New York Times.

Here is another article from the Mobile Register.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

My Lenten Reading

I've decided that my spiritual reading during Great Lent will be The Ladder of Divine Ascent by Saint John Climacus.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Silicosis Debacle on NPR

This afternoon All Things Considered on NPR featured a very good story on the ongoing investigation into fraud in silicosis litigation.

The text version of the story can be found here.

The audio version can be found here.

Here is my original post on the Silicosis Debacle.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Asbestos Memo now online

The American Enterprise Institute also has made available online the now infamous Baron & Budd asbestos memo.

This memo was sent to their asbestosis clients to prepare them on how to testify at their depositions.

It was accidentally released and then later made public as part of a Senate Committee Investigative Report.

It can now be found here along with many other interesting documents.

Silicosis Debacle Deposition Transcript Now Online

The deposition transcript of Dr. George Martindale is now available online through the American Enterprise Institute.

It can be found here along with a number of other very interesting documents.

For more on the Silicosis Debacle see this earlier post.

FAIR Act Editorials

Here are links to two recent editorials on what is wrong with the stalled Senate Asbestos Bill.

Here is the first editorial by Ted Frank from the American Enterprise Institute.

And here is the second editorial by Michael Franc from The Heritage Foundation.

Gambling on Next Vioxx Jury?

The next Vioxx trial is scheduled to begin on Monday in a state court in New Jersey.

A jury has been selected of which half are Atlantic City casino workers.

Here is an article from Newsday.com on the jury makeup.

According to the article Mark Lanier, one of the plaintiffs' attorneys remarked:

"I like casino workers, because they know there's a place for gambling. It's in the casino, not in the drug market,"

The article also explains the reason behind the seemingly unsually high number of casino workers selected:

"The odds of a jury deck stacked with casino-hotel workers _ for any trial here _ are good. About 48,000 people work in the city's 12 casinos, although not all of them live in Atlantic County, which has a population of a little more than 250,000."

Friday, March 03, 2006

Athonite Monk visits America to research Saint Herman of Alaska

Photo from www.oca.org/

An Archimandrite from Mount Athos recently traveled to the United States to research the life of Saint Herman of Alaska.

Arhimandrite Cherubim (Apostolou) is a monastic from Saint Anne's Skete on the Holy Mountain.

He is working on a thesis on Saint Herman for the Theological Department at the University of Thessaloniki.

Archimandrite Cherubim visited Saint Tikhon's Monastery and Seminary, Saint Vladimir's Seminary and Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral while researching the life of Saint Herman.

A press release on his visit can be read here.

It is interesting to note that Archimandrite Cherubim remarked that:

"St. Herman and the other North American saints are venerated on Mount Athos and elsewhere in Greece and that there is interest there in the historical missionary legacy of Orthodoxy in North America."

Thursday, March 02, 2006

A funny thing happened on the way to work yesterday...

I take a bus to and from work every day. I drive to one of the nearby Houston Metro Park and Ride lots in the morning and then catch a bus into downtown Houston. My bus route uses one of Houston's HOV Lanes so we miss the normal rush hour traffic on the freeway.

Yesterday there was some kind of accident on the freeway and the traffic was really backed up.
A lot of drivers were just getting off of the freeway altogether.

As I was getting out of my car at the park and ride lot I noticed a car pull up right behind me. The man driving asked if I would not mind riding with him into downtown so he could drive in the HOV lane.

I said sure and hopped in since it would save me time from having to wait on the bus.

After we introduced ourselves and got to talking about where we worked a discussion came up about asbestos and silicosis litigation.

It turns out that this guy worked for a large manufacturing company and was pretty familiar with the various asbestos liabilites that manufacturing companies often face.

It was interesting to get his take on the latest failed asbestos reform bill in the Senate. He was not for it but was for stricter medical criteria similiar to what was recently passed in Texas.

We also talked about this story and this recent verdict.