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Some Valentines

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

It’s Friday and it’s Valentine’s Day weekend. I know you didn’t come to the blog for some Valentine’s meaningful writing. Let’s roll with it!

First,

first

And,

second

Finally,

third

I know… that last one is over the top!

I do hope that you have a great Valentine’s Day and a wonderful weekend!

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A Barber’s Punishment

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

From time to time I have posted a pic o’ day that is taken of a pet who has committed some mistake in the house. They are called pet shame pictures.

no regret

A picture like this where their owner prints a sign next to their pet.

Now a new form of shame punishment has been introduced. The Washington Post is reporting that a barber is offering to give your child a haircut as punishment for misbehaving. The barber calls it the Benjamin Button Special with a nod toward the movie.

a shame

The barber and owner of a shop called A-1 Kutz says that he offers this form of haircut for free, to parents who want to try a novel form of punishment. Supporters believe that it is the perfect cut for kids who need to “act grown”.

Supporters for this kind of punishment will say that these parents are creatively doing whatever it takes to teach their kids a lesson. And at least there’s no “physical hitting”.

I’m no psychologist, but a lesson that lasts until the hair grows out and subjects a child to ridicule seems more than just discipline to me. I don’t see this as hilarious lesson teaching. That’s just my 2 cents. I say someone should trim this barber’s nonsense.

And for pic o’ day, here’s an animal with no shame!

IMG_0056

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The Logic of No Logic

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

I have been in Court a few times where the Judge ruled the way that he wanted to rule. I did not see any legal basis for it, except that it was his ruling.

During my first year of practice, I was in General District Court on a collection matter. The Judge would not award any attorney fees when he granted judgment, despite the written contract that provided an attorney fee to the prevailing party.

I made the mistake of asking the Judge why he would not award an attorney fee when the law required it. He yelled at me and said, ‘because the law has no place in my courtroom”. I suspect you don’t believe that story. I promise… it’s true. I immediately thought that it was best that I was not in his courtroom.

Unfortunately General District Court in Virginia is a court not of record. That means that there was no court reporter transcribing it.  That’s one of those moments in my legal career that stands out. Unusual logic!

I remember a college professor explaining to us why there was a requirement that everyone get up early in the dormitories, even if they did not have an early morning class. He said, “there is no reason for it, it’s just our policy”.  Unusual Logic!

In a much more serious bit of logic, I saw a story about a Saudi Historian who says that U.S. women drive because they don’t care if they are raped. The video is here so it is a matter of record, even though it is subtitled.

The speaker was trying to justify why Saudi Arabia does not allow women drivers. His reasoning behind his statement was that cars can break down. If a woman’s car breaks down, she is at risk of being raped. So, by not allowing women to drive, this country is protecting women from being raped. As he put it, “They don’t care if they are raped on the roadside, but we do”.  Unusual Logic!

And for our wisdom of the day:

books

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The Cyber Theft Fight

Monday, February 9th, 2015

Little Caesars is currently airing a commercial (here) that shows a family so frustrated with trying to order a pizza online, that they “go off the grid”. The wife then suggests that they pick up a Hot-N-Ready pizza from Little Caesars… and they go back on the grid! Wouldn’t it be great if life’s problems could be fixed with a pizza.

Going off the grid seems a bit tempting, in light of all these data breaches that have occurred at such places like Target, Staples and even PlayStation networks. Customer information including name, address, social security numbers, credit card information and even tax and income information are seized by hackers.

The title of the blog “The Cyber Theft Fight” sounds more like a movie than a blog title. Unfortunately, it has been brought right to my own doorstep.

A couple of years ago, I received notice from the state of South Carolina that all tax records had been breached. They basically told me not to worry but that they would provide for free, a credit monitoring service. I didn’t feel that confident nor was I excited about my new service.

Now, the second largest health insurer advises that it has been breached. Soon, I expect to receive notification that they also will provide me with a free credit monitoring service. Kind of like, “we burned your television out, but don’t feel bad because we will give you free Netflix for your computer.” So more on my “burned out TV” analogy.

Anthem Insurance notified its customers last week that it had been hacked, but it quickly moved to calm the concerns of its 80 million members to assure them that their medical data had not been taken.

That doesn’t make me feel good knowing that the information taken could now be a treasure trove for thieves.

Unfortunately, going off the grid or ordering a Little Caesars pizza will not fix this. The Hacker News describes what went wrong and also tells about a lawsuit that has been filed by one customer in California. (article here)

Forbes.com also lists six things that you can do to protect yourself after a data breach. Professor Gregory S. McNeal specializes in data protection. I have copied and pasted his six recommendations below:

1.  Get a password manager.  After every data breach, the advice is the same — change your password, make sure it is complex, and don’t use the same password or username across various websites.  That is simply too hard for you to do without a password manager.  Most of us have multiple online accounts, you probably have multiple email addresses, an Amazon account, a few credit card or online banking accounts, student loan accounts, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, DropBox, Evernote, etc.  You simply can’t remember all of those usernames and passwords, so chances are you’re using the same username and password, or you’re changing the passwords slightly by adding an “*” or “#” or changing around the capitalization.  That’s not secure, as experienced criminals will use your base password and sophisticated software to crack your other passwords.  You may think you’re being creative, maximizing convenience and security, but in reality you’re merely maximizing your convenience.

How does a password manager change that equation?  It provides you with strong, unique passwords for all of your accounts, and keeps them in a secure encrypted vault on your device.  There are many password managers on the market 

2.  Stop recycling user IDs and passwords.  Building off of recommendation #1, if you use the same Anthem user id or password across sites, stop doing that, and change all of your other passwords.    Remember, hackers sometimes try stolen IDs and passwords on different sites to gain control of other accounts. That’s why it’s a bad idea to recycle credentials.

3. Don’t confirm or provide personal information in response to an email or text, and don’t click on links in unexpected messages. Legitimate companies won’t ask for bank or credit card information, social security numbers, passwords, or other sensitive information through unsecured channels. The Anthem breach included names, birthdays, medical IDs/social security numbers, street addresses, email addresses and employment information, including income data.  Criminals may use this stolen information to send email or texts that appear to be from people or sites you trust.

4. Review your credit card and bank statements often.  If you see charges you don’t recognize, contact the fraud department at your bank or credit card provider right away.

5. Check your credit reports – for free – every few months. Monitoring your credit report is a good way to find out if someone has opened credit in your name. You’re entitled to a free report every 12 months from each of the three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. To get your report, visit AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.

6.  Use two factor authentication.  Two factor authentication is an extra layer of protection beyond your password.  First you enter your username and password as usual, then a code is sent to your phone via text, voice call, or mobile app.  Only after you enter that code will you be allowed to access your account.

Something to think about! Cyber-criminals seem to be getting more sophisticated. It sure is frustrating because it seems that more and more information is being put on file, while it appears that businesses are taking less safeguards to protect our information. But don’t worry, maybe they will throw in a free Amazon Prime Membership.

And for pic o’ day, I am going back to one of my favorites. The old-fashioned criminals:

Line up

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In Search of the Truth

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

Truthiness is defined as a quality characterizing a “truth” that a person intuitively knows “from the gut” or because it feels right. Truthiness is not based on evidence, logic, intellectual examination or facts.

Comedian Steven Colbert is credited as originating the word. He claims that he came up with the word by “pulling it right out of my keister”.

Not long ago, I had a case where my client’s recitation of the facts was completely different than the defendant’s version. It was a question of whether the defendnat had a green arrow or whether that driver simply ran a red light. Initially, it was one of those “He said/He said” cases. Fortunately, a traffic signal camera proved by video that the defendant had just “blown through” a red light.

In another case, a witness says that client was sitting in a parked car for somewhere between 15-30 minutes. Fortunately, a local gas station’s cameras captured the entire events, to include that the client was only at the location for approximately a minute.

In the first story, the defendant’s version of the events was what he wished the truth to be. Hence… not the truth! In the second story of the witness, there seems to be no motivation for the incorrect testimony. Maybe the false memory is simply Truthiness.

That leads me to the strange tale of of NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams. He has been caught telling a tale about being in a helicopter in 2003, and being forced down by enemy fire in Iraq. (story)  He is now facing a full “Fact-Checking” review at NBC. (NY Times)

Now, there are other questionable stories being put forth, including a story involving Hurricane Katrina. Williams continues to dig himself deeper and has now removed himself from his Nightly News broadcast. That might be code for having his boss tell him to take a timeout. I’m guessing that his days as anchor may be coming to an end.

Williams claims that he was not accurate about his Iraq helicoper story because he was in “the fog of war”. That reminds me of Roger Clemens telling Congress, that testimony about him being injected with steroids and/or Human Growth Hormone was actually testimony that was misremembered. Another new word in our vocabulary regarding  the question of what is the truth.

I could go on to describe the story of the Loch Ness Monster or Bigfoot. However, it almost seems as though the Brian Williams’ stories seem to be more of an urban legend than those. Will the SyFy channel soon be doing a series titled In Search of the Brian Williams Truth Maybe Brian Williams should wear a GoPro camera on his head. We live in strange times!

face

Did you know that that Avocado was originally known as the alligator pear. I promise… that’s not truthiness.

And for pic o’ day, some more on truth:

the truth

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A Friday of Pictures

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

Since I wrote some long blogs this week, I thought I would give you a break and post some random (there’s that word) pic o’s:

officer baby

And what we all know!

one friend

 

And finally, one of my favorite repeats. A moment of thinking. Similar to being in search of the sound of one hand clapping:

yoga-dog

 

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Man Without a Country

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

     The Man Without a Country was a short story written in 1863 by Edward Everett Hale. It was intended to be a bit of propaganda for the Union during the Civil War. 

     It is the story of an American soldier named Philip Nolan, who renounced his country during a trial for treason. In the story, he is sentenced to spend the rest of his life at sea without ever hearing any news of the United States or even to have it mentioned. That’s why he was a man without a country.

     Through the years at sea, he went from being bitter about the United States, to desperately wanting his country back. Despite never escaping his sentence, he decorated his room on the ship, with a flag and a picture of George Washington. Later in the story, after he is found dead, the shipmates learn that he had written his own epitaph that patriotically stated:

                                In memory of PHILIP NOLAN, Lieutenant in the Army of the United States. He loved his country as no other man loved her; but no man deserved less at her hands.

     I write this blog because I recently watched a Frontline/PBS show titled United States Of Secrets. It’s the story of the United States Intelligence war on terror, and what was accepted as necessary to provide a secure country.

     There were many in the intelligence community, as well as Constitutional scholars, who believed that the rights of citizens were being trampled. One former NSA employee decided to do something about it. In response, Eric Snowden has become a man without a country.

     You can see it on Netflix. It’s certainly thought-provoking. If the assertions in the show are correct, than the government knows about my blog. And, it might also surprise you to learn the lengths that some businesses will go, to understand your search and spending habits.     

     And our pic o’ is also a bit of snoring technology.

taser

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The Things of Robin Williams

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

This is a blog about money and estate planning. And so the adventure begins.

In trying to provide guidance, an IRS auditor supposedly reminded that, “The trick is to stop thinking of it as ‘your’ money”. I guess that’s one way to look at it. Of course Earl Wilson reminded us that, “if you think that no one cares if you’re alive, try missing a couple of car payments”. I learned a long time ago that the definition of a bank is a place who loans you money… when you don’t need it. (Bob Hope)

Jerry Seinfeld reminds us that dogs are happy despite having no money or things. “They are broke their entire lives but they get through. You know why they have no money? No pockets!”.

I remember one actor saying that the only reason that he made an American Express commercial… was to pay for his American Express bill.

And that leads me to Robin Williams who defined “Carpe per diem” as “Seize the check”.

The reminder that people are funny about money.     I end the blog with Robin Williams because his estate has his entire family in an uproar. It’s discussed in the NY Times article Robin Williams’s Widow and Children Tangle Over Estate.

Nearly six months after his death, his widow and the children from a previous marriage are in a legal fight over the division of the estate. According to the widow, she is entitled to the house and everything in the house. The kids say that she is entitled to everyday things in the house… not memorabilia that has value.

The wife is blocking access to the home. The kids basically are saying that she can keep her toothbrush, they want the Oscar statute. Well, in so many words that’s how it breaks out.

The kids claim it is effecting their ability to grieve the loss of their father. The wife says her domestic tranquility is being harmed.

Yep, people are funny about money. As Malcolm Forbes used to say about being rich, “I made my money the old-fashioned way. I was very nice to a wealthy relative right before he died”.

And for our pic o’ day, speaking of legal…

lamp

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A New Helmet of Technology

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

While watching the Super Bowl on Sunday night, the announcers told us that one player was being helped to the sidelines and then to the locker room because of “concussion-like symptoms”. Then, they showed the replay of a helmet-to-helmet hit that showed the players head being struck.

Currently the NFL has a concussion spotter and  doctors and neuro-consultants on the sideline who ask initial basic questions of a player suspected of a concussion such as: What quarter is it? Who scored last? Do you have a headache, Dizziness or NauseaWhat month is it? What day of the week is it?

The doctor on the sideline might ask certain word recall that could include the player repeating back the following words:  apple, elbow, carpet, saddle and bubble.

These are just some of the  NFL protocols in dealing with a player suspected of a concussion. Conversely, in my law practice I have seen just the opposite. Emergency technicians ask my client at the scene whether they were knocked unconscious. That is the extent of the screening. Relying on the worst historian of the possible medical condition… the person who is dealing with the symptoms.

In football, there’s some hope that there is new technology on the horizon to help identify concussions during the game. According to Fortune Magazine, Helmet-manufacture Riddell has produced a helmet called a SpeedFlex helmet, which relies on an InSite Impact Response System

It’s being tested at some Division-1 programs like Arkansas. Among other features, the helmet disperses energy at the point of impact to minimize damage and can send a signal through state-of-the-art  software, to personnel on the sideline regarding certain hits and impacts.  if an impact falls beyond a certain safe range that has been predetermined, the helmet alerts coaches wirelessly through the helmet’s software.

Attention to this problem has brought research and progress; and more importantly awareness to the issue of concussions. As a lawyer, I am glad that football has now helped to bring some education to juries regarding symptoms of concussion and the severity of a concussion that might occur in car crashes.

In the past, I had to listen to one defense doctor describe a concussion as no big deal because it was just getting your bell rung. Thankfully, I don’t think that such testimony will even be considered by a jury.

And for pic o’ day, I am posting a cartoon. The opposite of bulls running must be bulls telling jokes!

punning

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A Jury Super Bowl Caution

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

On a Monday morning after the Super Bowl, it just feels like I need to start the blog with a coffee reference.

coffee pot

 

Last week, I had some comments on my Random Blog. Several asked why I was so random. My answer was that I just couldn’t help it!

For today, I will get right to the point; with the blog,  a legal topic and with it brief! (yep… see what I did there!)

On Thursday, the Aaron Hernandez murder trial commenced. On Friday as the second day was wrapping up, the Judge cautioned the jurors about discussing the trial over the weekend. (ABC News) Then she gave the jurors a stern warning, “I am not going to forbid you from watching this Super Bowl on Sunday, if that’s something really important to you”.

The judge continued, “But I am going to ask you to be especially vigilant. If you’re watching the game with friends or family or any third party, just have your antenna — just be really, really vigilant. You have to avoid anything that has anything to do with this case or Mr. Hernandez,” she said. “If you hear that word, you got to walk out of the room, distance yourself, immediately stop people, and if his name or this case is mentioned on the television screen or computer, just walk away.”

Former New England Patriots football player, Aaron Hernandez is accused of killing Odin Lloyd on June 17. 2012. With the New England Patriots playing this game during the middle of this trial, it would not be that unusual for something to be mentioned about the trial.

The Judge wanted to take every precaution to make sure that the jurors and alterantes (18 total) are not influenced by something that might be mentioned.  I’m sure that she does not want something to cause a mistrial because of the Super Bowl.

Just one final note on the Super Bowl. I admit it, it pains me that the Patriots won. This morning, I could not watch ESPN. Just couldn’t. As for Hernandez, I wonder if he was rooting for or against his old team.

And for pic o’ day:

IMG_1454

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