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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).

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Icon Exhibit

My parish, St. Jonah Orthodox Church, will be hosting an exhibit of Russian Orthodox icons this weekend.

The icons date from the 18th and 19th centuries. More information on the exhibit can be found here.

A schedule for the lectures and presentations can also be found here.

ROCOR Delegation Meets with Patriarch Alexy II

This press release has the details of the meeting.

The meeting was apparently big news in Russia judging by this photo.

Upcoming Shows

2/2 - Jesse Dayton and Brennen Leigh at the Mucky Duck
2/2 - Jason Boland and the Stragglers at Firehouse Saloon
2/2 - Two High String Band at Anderson Fair
2/2 - Clay Farmer at Blanco's
2/2 - Cory Morrow at Big Texas
2/3 - Clandestine (they're back!) at the Mucky Duck
2/3 - Yonder Mountain String Band at Meridian
2/10 - Bruce Robison at the Mucky Duck
2/13 - John Evans at the Mucky Duck
2/14 - Adam Carroll at Puffabelly's
2/15 - Eric Taylor at Anderson Fair
2/15 - Reckless Kelly (opening for Big Head Todd and the Monsters) at Meridian
2/18 - Dr. John at Warehouse Live
2/22 - McKay Brothers at Armadillo Palace
2/22 - Old Crow Medicine Show at Meridian
2/23 - Kelly Willis at the Mucky Duck
2/24 - Sisters Morales at the Mucky Duck

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Wyeth Loses Prempro Trial

The jury in the Philadelphia Prempro trial awarded $1.5 million to the Plaintiffs. Details here.

Update - This article has details on the question of punitive damages.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Second Hand Asbestos Exposure

Here is an interesting article from LegalNewsline regarding a second hand asbestos exposure case in Illinois. The article also includes a summary of recent secondary exposure cases nationwide.

Closing Arguments in Pennsylvania Prempro Trial

A summary of the closing arguments can be found here.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Arkansas Prempro Trial Begins

A summary of the opening day of the trial can be found here.

New Jersey Vioxx Trial Gets Underway

A summary of the opening day of the latest Vioxx trial in New Jersey can be found here.

Update - Some verbal fireworks between the lead attorney for Merck and the Judge are detailed here.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Recent Mass Tort Litigation News

Plaintiff drops a Vioxx lawsuit in Philadelphia

a Mistrial was declared in a recent California Vioxx case

an update to the class action suit brought by former clients of a disbarred asbestos lawyer can be found here

the third Prempro trial gets underway in Arkansas

a plaintiffs firm has been banned from an Ohio Court over fraudulent practices during an asbestos case

a lawsuit to force Merck to fund a medical monitoring program for former Vioxx users is revived

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Nativity Message of Patriarch Alexy II

The earth has stretched forth its wings and receives the Creator who receives glory from the angels, a star from the heavens, praise from the shepherds, gifts from the Magi and recognition from the whole world.

Troparion from the 3rd Ode of the Canon for Compline of Christmas Eve

Beloved in the Lord your graces the archpastors, beloved of God presbyters and deacons, honourable monks and nuns ‘fighting the good fight’ (2 Tim 4:7) and all Orthodox Christians who abide in the garden of the Church – ‘grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord’ (2 Pet 1:2).

It is with joy in my heart that I greet you all on the great feast of the Nativity in the flesh of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ. Throughout these holy days we again in prayer relive the greatest event in human history. In his great humility the Lord desired to come down to earth in human form, and he was born not in a wealthy palace, not in an abode of the powerful of this world, but in a wretched cave in the desert. It was not kings and courtiers who were the first to hear of Christ’s Nativity, but simple shepherds who watched their flock near the cave of Bethlehem. It was to them, simple men, that the words of the angel were addressed, announcing to the world the beginning of the new Christian era: ‘Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord’ (Lk 2:10-11).

My beloved! Let us listen to the angel’s message: ‘I bring you great joy.’ We often forget about this eternal, incorrupt joy, for we live in a world subject to sin and death in which we suffer from sickness and infirmity, at times experiencing parting and grief, we encounter violence and cruelty. Yet our faith teaches us, even amidst the woes of everyday life, to keep in our hearts and announce to all people the joy that has come to us from above and of which the Gospel tells us that no one can take away from us (cf. Jn 16:22).

God, who has come to us in the form of an infant, desires that our hearts become a cave and manger where he abides and that in our souls the angel’s doxology resound: ‘Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace and goodwill to all men’ (Lk 2:14). The miracle and power of the Christian faith consists of the fact that this ‘great joy’ is granted to us today in all its fullness as it was two thousand years ago. We do not recollect, but celebrate the Nativity of Christ, for having happened once it eternally fills people with peace and joy. The Lord Jesus Christ is always at the centre of our lives and witness to the world. And our Church never ceases to travel along the path marked out for her by God and preaches the saving teaching of Christ, ‘so that the world may believe’ (Jn 17:21).

My beloved! The past year has been for us a year of the Lord’s goodness. By the grace of God the successful building up of Church life has continued in Russia and abroad, where the care and pastoral responsibility of our Church extends. Our people are ever more returning to the faith of our fathers. In many towns and villages children and young people are coming to know the Orthodox faith and culture. The churches are full with parishioners of all ages and occupations. Millions of people pray to God, read religious literature and take part in the affairs of the Church. I became a witness to all this when I visited this year the dioceses of Vladimir, Kaliningrad, Nizhny Novgorod, St. Petersburg and Saransk. Our visit to the Latvian Orthodox Church, meetings and conversations with Latvia’s statesmen and prayerful communion with the Orthodox people, was every important for the maintenance of unity among the Church’s children.

A visible sign of God’s grace towards our Church was the visit within her boundaries of the right hand of the Holy Prophet John, Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord. Many of the Church’s children received a blessing from the hand that was once laid upon the Saviour’s head at his baptism. Our country was visited by other greats objects of veneration kept on the Holy Mountain of Athos – the precious hand of the Equal-to-the-Apostles Mary Magdalene, particles of the Life-Giving Cross of the Lord and the relics of the holy martyr Kirik. A multitude of believers venerating these objects received from them succour and comfort.

An important landmark in the life of the Church was the celebration this year of the three-hundredth anniversary of the Sarov Hermitage of the Dormition, the site of the spiritual endeavours of St. Seraphim of Sarov. The jubilee was marked by the revival of monastic life in this renowned abode. Henceforth under the vaults of once derelict and now restored churches the Bloodless Sacrifice ‘on behalf of all and for all’ is offered.

In the year which has now come to a close the Lord vouchsafed me once more to visit Valaam monastery, a place dear to my heart. It is a joy that the life of the sketes is being reborn in the ancient northern monastery. New testimony to this revival is the laying of the foundation stone of a Church of St. Vladimir in the Vladimir skete and the consecration of a Church of the Resurrection of Christ in the Resurrection skete.

Success in the cause of bringing together the Church in the homeland and our brothers and sisters in the Russian Church Abroad cannot but gladden the faithful. Unity and communion, broken off as a result of tragic events of more than eighty years ago, are today being restored; we see God’s beneficence in this.

The tragic events in the Holy Land brought great pain to the hearts of all believers. There, where two thousand years ago the angels announced ‘glory to God in the highest and on earth peace,’ once more the blood of innocent children has been shed. We pray to God that the land sanctified by the birth, life, sufferings and Resurrection of our Saviour will at last become a place where ‘righteousness and peace kiss each other’ (Ps 8:11).

Justifying evil with reference to religious faith is wrong. The participants of the meeting of religious leaders in Moscow this year called upon all believing people of the world to ‘respect and receive each other, in spite of their religious, national and other differences.’ Our Church, as in all epochs, serves the cause of the peoples’ well being by uniting her efforts with those of the state and society, Christians of all confessions, people of other faiths and convictions. Through common labour, through participation in public affairs and discussions we must bear witness to Christ who was incarnate, preaching him not only in word but also through our whole life.

Beloved in the Lord brothers and sisters! I address you with the apostle’s words: ‘Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Thess 5:19-23).

Once again I congratulate you all on the great, world-saving feast of the Nativity of Christ and the New Year of 2007. May the Lord and Saviour grant to all of you grace, may he save and preserve those who are on their earthly pilgrimage and vouchsafe them the joy of communion with him in the life of the age to come. ‘And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also ye are called’ (Col 3:15).

Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia
Nativity of Christ2006/2007


Friday, January 05, 2007

The Gougers

The band formerly known as the Sidehill Gougers (hereinafter referred to at this blog as The Gougers), put on a great show last night at the Mucky Duck.

The show was the kick-off to their 2007 touring schedule.

Opening for The Gougers was Greg Schroeder. Greg played a nice set of original songs as well as a great slowed-down version of Ring of Fire.

The Gougers played a great set as well that featured all the usual favorites plus a few new songs from their recently completed cd.

There was even a pleasant "fightless" version of Fort Worth Blues this time around. : )

You can sample some of The Gougers music here.

Nativity Epistle of Metropolitan Laurus First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia

NEW YORK: January 4, 2007
Nativity Epistle of Metropolitan Laurus First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia

In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit!

"Today doth Bethlehem receive Him,Who sitteth with the Father for ever." (Sticheron, tone 6.)

On this winter night, our Lord Jesus Christ descended to the earth—to one of the smallest specks of His creation. He came to show us how to live, and in order to enter into and abide in those who follow His example.

In His very Birth, the God-child showed love for poverty, meekness and humility. The Master of the world was born of the Most-pure Virgin in one of the lowliest places on earth, in a cold cave where the shepherds of Bethlehem sheltered their flocks from bad weather. He was swaddled and laid in a manger for cattle, warmed by the breath of mute animals.

From His very childhood, Christ knew the sorrow of need, of human cruelty and persecution—together with Righteous Joseph and His Most-Pure Mother, He was forced to flee the sword of Herod beyond the boundaries of His homeland.

For three years, the Holy Family lived abroad, and as He grew, He labored as a tradesman, earning His bread by the sweat of His brow, and during His three years of preaching, He did not have a place "to lay His head" (Matthew 8:20).

With the fullness of His earthly life, the Lord taught us to patiently endure need and suffering, to live simply, with restraint, applying the greatest efforts to the one thing needful.

The Lord said: "The rich man shall hardly enter into the Kingdom of Heaven," but He did not say that it was impossible, only difficult, for bound together with wealth are many cares and worldly goods; likewise it is hard for the famous of the world, for they bear the burden of their egos.

Thus the Lord is close to the simple, the poor and the wretched. In the words of the Apostle, "God hath chosen the foolish things of the world… and… the weak things of the world… and things which are not" (I Corinthians 1:26-28).

Within the souls of the wealthy are the cares of this world, they are burdened with fuss and earthly bonds; for Him, as was the case with the inns of Bethlehem, there is no vacancy, everyone is occupied with all sorts of earthly "values."

The Lord finds shelter in the hearts of those who love Him, who are prepared at His call to leave their homeland and their occupations, as the wealthy and famous but also spiritually-meek Wise Men did, or as the simple fishermen-Apostles who did the same.

In His Sermon on the Mount, the Lord calls these people blessed: "Blessed are the meek in spirit." True human blessedness consists of despising all that separates us from God. Only by humbling oneself, by impoverishing ones spirit, only by placing the one thing needful at the forefront, can we achieve eternal blessedness.

The Lord says: "I stand at the door (of your hearts) and knock." But amidst the noise of today's world, burgeoning fuss, entertainment and useless information, it is hard to hear this knock. The Lord does not force us, does not impose Himself upon us, He merely summons us.

And in order to hear His call, we must find time every day for quietude and prayer.

We are surrounded by eternal values, which we sense like the wind, but, burdened with our daily cares, we do not notice them, or try not to notice them, stifling the voice of conscience within us.

The Lord also blesses those who thirst and hunger for the truth, "for they will be filled." Only Christ, the Sun of Truth, can satisfy our spiritual hunger, for He is the true nourishment and the true drink.

The Lord was born in Bethlehem, which means "House of Bread," He has become for us the living Bread from the heavens, and each who righteously partakes of this Bread, by His word, will live eternally, and each who drinks of His wellspring shall never thirst.

The great, incomparable Gift was granted to mankind from its Creator on the day of the Nativity of Christ. Let us not leave this Gift abandoned, let us bring the Lord the fruits of repentance, for only this sacrifice is acceptable to God.

Dear archpastors, pastors, monastics, brothers and sisters, I express my heartfelt greetings on the day of the Nativity of Christ!

+Metropolitan Laurus

The Nativity of Christ, 2006/2007


Thursday, January 04, 2007

Songwriters Night

I dropped by the Mucky Duck earlier this week for their "Songwriters Night" featuring Idgy Vaughn, Adam Carroll and John Evans.

I think this show may have been a late addition to the calendar since there was an unusually small crowd that night at the Duck. At any rate, myself and around 30 of the coolest people in Houston were treated to an enjoyable evening of songs from some of the best young songwriters Texas has to offer.

The format of the show was that of a round-robin songswap. Adam started things off followed by John and then on to Idgy before starting the cycle over again.

I have actually heard all three of these artists perform at the Duck before but not all together. I had caught a songswap earlier this year featuring Adam Carroll and Gordy Quist. I first heard Idgy Vaughn perform at a songswap with Hayes Carll at which John Evans showed up to play a few songs with Hayes as part of their Ego Brothers incarnation.

Adam Carroll performed a number of songs from his new cd and his earlier recordings including: Alright, Rice Birds, AFL-CIO, Low in the Mountains High in the Pines, Teardrops, South of Town and Girl with the Dirty Hair.

John Evans also performed a nice selection of songs. I am not very familiar with John's music since this was the first time I had ever really heard him perform. He seems to be taking a break from his full band lineup and is focusing right now on acoustic shows at some of the local venues. I believe he may have been performing some new material that night. I did recognize one of his songs, Five Seconds at a Time, that I had heard before.

Idgy sounded even better than the first time I heard her perform. She is the real deal and her shows should not be missed. She performed a number of her songs including: Dragging the River, Truckstop Waitress, Good Enough (a NPR award winning song), Saint Francis Fire and the perennial audience favorites Redbone Hound, Small Town Girls and Mister Wrong.

The next scheduled "Songwriters Night" at the Duck is set for Feb. 2nd featuring Jesse Dayton and Brennen Leigh.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Tribute to Townes

Tonight the Old Quarter Acoustic Cafe in Galveston is hosting the 10th Annual Wake for Townes Van Zandt.

A nice tribute to Townes set to Lyle Lovett's version of Flyin' Shoes can be seen here.

Townes' music is also featured in the documentaries Be Here to Love Me (the trailer can be seen here) and Heartworn Highways (an excerpt of which can be seen here).