insider trading, cultural epiphany over red chopsticks, inside joke.

Tonight, while Alexander and I went out for some Thai, he asked me about the Martha Stewart trial.

I spent a bit of time explaining "shares" and "the Waksals" and "the FDA" and "cancer drug" and "SEC" and "federal court" and "federal prison" and "prosecutors" and why an entire trial centered around Ms. Stewart's fib during a private meeting with said prosecutors.

I have a bit of "inside" information on the proceedings myself, as I worked as a legal correspondent for a certain court television program last summer. I attended the Sam Waksal sentencing and also dug up every federal court document on Martha Stewart available at the time.

I am not a fan of Martha Stewart. I would never tell A my full opinion on the matter. However, I do have a problem with the Martha Stewart verdict. In the United States, a criminal suspect is afforded the presumption of innocence. Martha Stewart was never afforded a presumption of innocence.

The Cliff Notes is that the private meeting with prosecutors basically went, "Did you sell your shares after obtaining inside information?" and she answered something like, "No." For saying "No" - for allegedly lying - prosecutors decided to take Martha out on perjury charges. Her crime was her attempt to maintain innocence. Her crime was not actual securities fraud (that was a charge that was eventually dropped). So, the result is a trial and a conviction and ultimately a trip to jail.

Weird, weird, weird.

Sam Waksal sold his millions of shares via his family members (SEC rules prevented him, as ImClone CEO, from dumping them himself). Aliza Waksal, who dumped millions, got to walk out of court last summer, scot-free. So did her sister. So did her grandpa, who also dumped millions of shares for Sam. So did her uncle, who sold shares for Sam.

For Martha's $200K sale of ImClone shares, she receives a most lopsided and heavy-handed verdict. And it happens sans a securities fraud charge.

But back at the Thai restaurant. We have a window table with view to the street. Alexander and I notice chopsticks on our table. My Swiss friend recently traveled to Burma and Thailand and informed us of the dining norms in Bangkok. Alexander motions to me as though he is about to throw the chopsticks out the window.
Me: "Erm..." I ask our waiter, "are you from Thailand?"
Him: "Yes."
Me: "Why the chopsticks?"
Him: "I don't know. I asked the owner that, too. Everyone here just lumps all Asians into one pile and I guess they think Thai people use chopsticks."
Me: "So, could we please have spoons with our forks?"

Amazing. One of the most sophisticated cities in the world, and we New Yorkers insist on chopsticks in our Thai restaurants because we think they look better, more Asian than forks. Nevermind the mild cultural insult that could result.

Alexander has otherwise taken a liking to Simon and Garfunkel's Scarborough Faire. We recently did a bit of comparison of the 60's lyrics with the original medieval ones. A's favorite classical composer is Bach. As part of his music studies, Alexander watched the Saul Zaentz film, Amadeus. He totally understood the undertone in the title, too, thanks to his Latin: "It's Amadeus because the filmmaker is saying he was loved by God, and Salieri wasn't."

A's favorite word these days is "subterranean." Everything these days is "sub" or "supra" and "terra" or "mare." But A uses "subterranean" as most of us would use "inferior." "Romans are subterraneans." Or, "Greeks are subterraneans compared to the Egyptians." It is his "inside joke." Which to me, is comical in an endearing way.

"OK, Mom. Let's go blog! Carpe Noctum!!!!!!"

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