Return

Okay, it’s been three weeks, not two, and I apologize for that. I also apologize that I don’t think I’m going to be able to keep this daily like it was, because in the Greater Heirarchy, maintaining the job that supports my family comes before basically any other consideration, and…

Hoo boy.

I don’t think it’ll be bad. Not forever. But beginning adjustments are really difficult in any case, every time, and…

I’m actually trying to brainstorm ideas for a new segment–thinking Aspie in the Office, since there’s so many times I could have *really used* practical advice for issues I was having in my workplace, and couldn’t find any. I’m sure there are other aspies in the same situation who could benefit from my experience, right? Right.

So anyway, I came home early today after a (thankfully delayed until I reached my car) outburst about a bagel of all things, and am trying hard to wind down and relax and be in fighting condition for tomorrow. Because I’m going to be ridiculously good at this job, and I’ve already started doing a great job at clearing out excess work. But that part at the beginning where you have to figure everything out because there’s no real training establishment or anything is… I’m holding it together mostly at work, and I have absolutely no spare spoons for when things go at all unexpectedly.

I also don’t have a sketch.

So just consider this an update and a statement of intent to do better.

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Privilege and Ownership

Let’s talk privilege.

Oh, not the hot-button concept that’s got everybody a-twitter of late; something a little more specific, a little more easily-defined. I’m talking law of evidence privilege.

(Yeah, I feel like blathering on about various legal precepts I learned in school. I just started a new job today, and while everything went fine enough, I feel like going on about minutia might be a fine way of winding down without drinking. Everything here is US law, as I don’t know a damn thing about any other system. It’s also completely from memory, so take this even LESS as legal advice than usual–it’s just someone blowing off steam.)

So! What is privilege?

In a situation where you would otherwise be compelled to speak (or else rot in jail for refusing a judge’s order), privilege allows (or even requires) you, with the full backing of the law, to refuse.

And there’s a lot of them, and I’ll admit that in my schooling we only went over about five. But hey, this is my blather-session, and not inspired by something I really feel strongly everyone needs to know about. So. Let’s talk about those five-or-so types of privilege, and how they differ from each other.

(Please note that, because I’m tired, I’m only talking about subpoena-ability here. A lot of the things that can’t be subpoenaed also can’t be revealed to anyone else, ever, basically. But I don’t feel like thinking that far into where that applies or not.)

SO.

Attorney-client privilege. You know this one. Anything you said to your attorney cannot be revealed to the court by your attorney. This right can be waived–by you, not your attorney. You own the privilege.

Doctor-patient privilege. When you go to a doctor for the purposes of diagnosis of an illness (basically), what gets discussed between you can’t be revealed to court by the doctor. You own this privilege, too. But there’s exceptions big enough to drive a hole through–for instance, if the family judge orders everyone to talk to a family therapist so she can get a better idea of if the situation’s healthy (or whatever), then duh, the therapist can tell the judge.

In addition to that, there’s another big, huge, giant exception to both of these: When you confess that you’re going to hurt someone (or yourself? Not sure), they’re required to go to the authorities and tell every word. Pretty sure that those communications, so revealed, aren’t exactly held to be privileged thereafter, because everyone who reads the local crime blotter knows it. So, y’know, don’t trust this.

Work product privilege was one of the ones that I liked most. It basically means that the other attorney can’t subpoena the research and other work that your attorney has done for the case. If your lawyer went through twelve expert witnesses before they found someone who would actually back up your story, then what those twelve said stays in your law firm. The other attorney is going to have to do his own damn work. (There are exceptions to this–if you’ve managed to get  your hands on something important that can’t be recovered another way, for instance. But it’s not common.)

Priest-petitioner privilege. Because, basically, they had to keep arresting priests for not saying what had been confessed to them… and the priests, feeling they answered to a higher authority, didn’t budge. (OK, I don’t know if that’s how it really happened, but I figure it’s gotta be something like that. Either way, priests can’t be compelled.)

Marital privilege. Your wife can’t be compelled to say what you guys talked about. But if you can’t trust doctor-patient privilege, you really can’t trust this one–your wife’s the one who decides whether or not she wants to keep her mouth shut.

And self-incrimination privilege. You can’t be forced to testify against yourself. But… there are some interesting snags to this one. For instance, if you do decide to testify on your own behalf, you open yourself to cross–you can’t just say your piece and then clam up. (I think the IRS scandal actually involved this? I think one of the participants said a little, then invoked, and there was debate on whether she’d spoken enough to count as testimony. Am I remembering right?) I’ve also looked as to whether you can be compelled to testify against yourself if immunity has been offered. My snag is that none of the sources I looked at seemed to think that anybody in the world would refuse to testify if immunity were being offered, so didn’t explore it much. And yeah, I didn’t think about that ’til that Blacklist episode.

So, yeah. That’s… kind of a little bit of privilege in a nutshell, even though it’s a sufficiently loose and veering coverage of thing that I think my old legal professor would be ashamed.

But! But! We keep talking about whether or not people you talked to can testify as to the content of that conversation. Isn’t that the definition of hearsay?

Yep… but the hearsay exception does not apply to statements the defendant himself made. How’s that for a kick in the nuts?

Here’s a magic frog.

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I’m just about ready for things to stop happening. There’s been entirely too many in too short of a timespan, and I’m very prepared to go back into neutral soon.

(I think it’s even mostly good? But I hate change, even when it’s positive and/or necessary.)

Most relevant to the blog is that I just switched jobs, which means I don’t have a work laptop anymore. Which… means I don’t have a computer of my own anymore. I can use my husband’s, but in any case… I’m gonna try for weekdaily posts, but I’m not going to guarantee it for the next week or two.

(This is one of the positive changes, though. The last assignment was–well, it was extended a month, but it was supposed to end this next week. Making a dollar an hour more, and working half an hour a day less. (Though once training’s done, I think there’s a five-hours-a-week mandatory overtime, which I’m also down for.) Woot.)

Missed yesterday, you might have noticed–well, I had a post up for a few hours, but decided it was too combative for what I’m going for here. So far. I still don’t really have a good concept of what I’m going for here, other than producing daily is a nice goal for getting better at whatever you’re producing. My webcomics were pursued as–and succeeded as–a good way to improve my art.

Actually, yeah, that’ll be my art of the day–compare-and-contrast some of my earlier and later comics drawn. (Barring the zzzz pen comic from a few days ago, I haven’t drawn a comic in a few years, though.)

Weeknight Concerts

My husband and I went to a concert last night, sort of a family tradition thingy. Normally it’s an all-day festival on a weekend; this year, it was an evening show on a Wednesday.

I… am not firing on all cylinders.

But I kind of like the sketch I’ve got. There’s an amazing amount wrong with it, but it has some kind of spark that I enjoy.

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See you tomorrow.

Be a Man

I’ve never heard him say it, but I’m told that my father-in-law has a saying: You’re a useless piece of crap if you can’t get your woman to her job.

(Well, he says “to work,” which flows better, but in text-format it’s too ambiguous.)

And I love it. It ties into a lot of the concepts of what it means to be a man while still allowing for a great deal of flexibility for specific situations. And, more to the point… in my experience, it’s pretty true. The guy who’s snorting his girlfriend’s paycheck, or beating her, or even being a generalized asshole, tends to also not be doing a damn thing to keep her car on the road. Or adjusting his schedule to carpool.

Basically, her ability to get to work—a net good for all parties, in general—is a good stand-in for whether he considers himself to have responsibilities to her, to the household, or basically to anyone except the himself he happens to be at any given moment.

To say the least, my husband takes this charge very seriously. When my car recently gave up the ghost, he managed to get a replacement up, registered and on the road in the space of a day. He felt ridiculously bad that I had to work from home that day. While he is a fantastic husband in many, many respects, on this particular issue he is fanatical.

And it makes me wonder what the corresponding female metric might be.

Now, comparing men and women is generally a crapshoot; they’re different. Duh. The duties and obligations on each is different.

But there’s gotta be something. And if what it means to be a man is to pull through and make things work for your household… what’s it mean to be a woman?

I have no frickin’ idea. As a woman, I find this somewhat distressing.

…but I’ll tell you what. I think I know where I can start: I’m going to be grateful to that man for keeping that car on the road, or for setting aside his schedule to make sure I can get to work*. And I’m gonna make sure he knows it.

It’s not very much. (And on a household level, I suspect that actually going to work every day is more useful.) But… if he’s gonna go and be a man for me, I figure I can at least let him know I noticed.

* One of these days, I’m going to have to break down the top times he’s rescued me when I got stranded. There’s some good ones. And yeah… most were my own damn fault.

For a drawing today, we have… something I haven’t been guilty of yet, but is always a worry in this toddler era. Shoulda done the last panel differently, but pen isn’t a great medium for realizing this isn’t the right path.

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Money and Communication

Over the weekend, I read an article on Yahoo! Finance: Why married couples should have separate bank accounts.

And it’s not completely horrible advice. At least, I can see the “competing to see who can rack up the most savings first” working for some people. And… um. Actually, that’s pretty much all I’ve got, because the article is so amazingly, deeply flawed.

So let me start by saying: I really don’t give a crap whether you have a shared account, separate accounts, or both. Not my relationship. You do you, and whatever works for you; life, love and marriage are difficult enough without trying to figure out how you’re doing it wrong based on what I think.

That said, the arguments this guy makes are really, really crappy.

First Issue: He takes an insanely specific case, and tries to apply it generally.

You notice something everyone in the article mentions? They’re rich. Even more specifically, not a single one of them seems to stretch for a budget at all; the issue is how much goes into fun versus savings versus whatever else that isn’t core expenses. Which is great for these people, and being wealthy does in fact come with its own toils and pitfalls! But… can we have just the slightest acknowledgement that you’re dealing in a specific subset, rather than pretending you’re talking about couples in general?

(This is particularly egregious at the stay-at-home-mom section, the one where you’re supposed to take the median income of your city and take it out of your account, giving it to your stay-at-home spouse because they’re worth it. Well, they might be. But half the city makes less than the median income… and that’s before bills. And yeah, some of those houses have stay-at-home moms.)

That said, this one’s a pretty minor issue. We can assume most people reading financial columns are pretty well-off, right? So speaking of all couples when you really mean couples living the high life is forgivable.

Which brings us to…

Second Issue: He’s framing a communication issue as a money issue

Miscommunication, mismatched priorities, seething resentments—when you look at what the separate bank accounts are supposed to solve, all of them lead back to one of these items. None of which are in the least helped by the separate bank accounts, and several of which are exacerbated.

I don’t usually like making blanket statements regarding relationships; God knows that there’s little enough that applies to all of them. But I think that this is on that list: If you’re in a marriage, or at least a marriage where you share a household, you have to be able to come to an accord on financial priorities, and you have to be able to agree on a budget. You’re sharing expenses, you’re sharing responsibility, you’re sharing a life; expenses and direction just aren’t his and hers anymore, but theirs.

And it kind of seems like, with the exception of the folks challenging each other to save more, none of the examples he mentioned even start to have come to an accord on any of it. The hidden separate bank accounts that having an open separate bank account is supposed to solve is an outright admission of it!

And it’s nuts. How do you operate at all without having a vague sense of how much of the household income can be set aside for frippery? I don’t know. But the fact is, this separate-accounts business as described in the article seems to be completely an issue of papering-over the fact that you never did come to an accord.

Which brings us to…

Third Issue: Public Expenses, Private Profit

There’s a pernicious assumption underlying all of this. I find it’s most obvious in the stay-at-home-mom section. Specifically:

Now take that monthly salary and subtract it from the day job working spouse’s salary, and that figure should be his or her income which can be spent however he or she chooses. Of course, it’s a good idea not to spend it all. The money should be allocated similarly to the way the day job working spouse’s money is allocated in terms of savings, investing, spending, and so forth. And of course, you don’t have to give a salary/allowance. You can just agree to earmark this money in a joint account as his/her right to spend at will.

What am I talking about specifically? What’s yours is ours and what’s mine is mine.

There’s a brief aside about allocating this amount similarly to the other spouse’s. But it’s pretty obvious he doesn’t actually believe it, at least not when it comes to subtracting household expenses; he spends three times as much talking about how it ought to be spent however she chooses, to spend at will.

And it bleeds through the whole piece, not just here. The non-budgeting spouse needs a separate account in order to have the freedom to spend on things that the budgeting spouse wouldn’t approve of. Expenses and bills are the budgeter’s/higher earner’s problem; this is my money and I deserve to spend it.

And it’s bollocks.

You have formed a marriage. Both of your earnings are literally marital assets. (As an aside, it’s rather surprisingly underhanded, the way he refuses to talk about divorce while continually insinuating it—he doesn’t know a goddamn thing about how either divorce or probate works (or else is being maliciously misinforming), and if you take his insinuations here at face value you’ll get in trouble. Separate accounts protects you from your spouse illegally clearing out your account before divorcing you; it does not protect your account from equitable distribution or being community property.)

Anyway, where was I? Everything you make belongs to the marriage. Pretending that everything you worked for is just yours to do with to do as you see fit—and he’s controlling meaniepants if he wants any input over that—is frelling stupid.

Have separate accounts if you want to. Every relationship handles the issues facing it differently, and so long as the fundamentals are there—that you agree on the broad strokes of how much money needs to go toward what items (including individual leisure budget items for both spouses)—any individual path of reaching your goals is more than okay with me.

But this obsession with independence in a fundamentally interdependent structure is crazy.

And it’s going to explode into a million itty bitty teeny tiny fragments the exact first moment that you have to give up something you want in order to cover an expense.

Now, onto writing news…

The bad news is I think I’m not going to be able to use much of the snippet I posted on Saturday. The good news is because I think I’ve found my feet on the story and it’s going well.

(I had assumed that mad scientist meant either superhero or horror, and I didn’t really feel like horror. But… well, it looks like the guy I’ve actually got chasing my mad scientist is a hard-boiled detective. Which means I’ve got a particular reality-warping element in a mostly-realistic world. Which means I lose the cybernetic arm and the dramatic lab accident that disfigured my villain, like every Batman villain in the world. Alas.)

(Also, my husband said, “So, Dr. Poison?” and I went “Goddamn it, you’re right, aren’t you.” What’s funny is I was actually channeling Dr. Blight from the old Captain Planet… but still, I can see the issue.)

So! That’s going well. And I think once I finish my short, I can get to editing my novel, so that’s good, too.

Today, we have Queen Froggy.

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