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The Myth or Fact of Aunt Jemima

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

USA Today titles it Pancake flap: ‘Aunt Jemima’ heirs seek dough. For me, it makes for interesting reading and also makes me hungry for pancakes.

That’s the teaser to this story about a lawsuit recently filed in Chicago by two great-grandsons who claim that they are heirs to an entitled fortune from Nancy Green. Born a slave in 1834 in Kentucky, Nancy Green was known at Aunt Jemima. In fact, her heirs claim that she was responsible for the recipe for these magical pancakes. Aunt J

I feel a little guilty just attaching the story for you to read because a recent commenter to one of my blogs claimed that I was attaching too many articles… and that did not make it a blog. Still, if you read the story, you will learn about pancakes; the denial of Quaker Oats; and the recipe and recipe additions. Yep… that should count as a blog, even if it is just in the food category!

And for pic o’ day… a bit of fear:

thunder

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Just Count to 10

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

I just saw a list of lies on the Internet. It was a list compiled on a message board. So, I copied them down as a starter for this blog:

1.  “I did not bet on baseball”.
2.  “There are no soldiers inside of that giant wooden horse.”
3.  “Your money is safe with Bernie Madoff.”
4.  “I’m searching for the real killers.”
5.  “At that moment I hit my face against the player leaving a small bruise on my cheek and a strong pain in my teeth.”
6.  “It’s not you, it’s me.”
7.  “I.  Did. Not. Have. Sexual. Relations. With. That. Woman.”
8.  “There are Weapons of Mass Distruction in Iraq.”
9.  “Welcome aboard the Titanic. Yes, this boat is unsinkable.”
10. “We requested from law enforcement any and all information about the incident, including the video from inside the elevator. That video was not made available to us and no one in our office has seen it until today.”

I had to look some of those up. For instance, #5 didn’t even sound familiar until I googled to learn that the Uruguay soccer player in the World Cup decided that his excuse sounded better than admitting to deliberately sinking his teeth into an opponent.

This list is almost like a trivia game. I guess it could also have included “I am not a crook”. It does remind us of lies that are told. I wonder if #4 is the original lie of O.J. Simpson. I remember a comedian saying that he obviously was doing a good job “looking for the real killer” on every golf course in California.

This came to mind when I heard about a recorded statement that was taken of an insured, following a crash that she had caused. Her statement to her own adjuster admitted that she started the car, put it into reverse with her gear shift, and then counted to 10 before backing up. She never looked behind her because “that’s how she had been taught”. That sounds like truth even though it seems a bit unbelievable.

That brings it into my world. What do you think of a defense lawyer who files an answer to the lawsuit that admits no fault, despite being told differently by his client?  Or, Is that just providing a good defense?

When I asked that very question to a defense lawyer after filing an answer like that, he just admitted that he did such filing; because,  if he failed to plead that in an answer, it would be lost if the evidence came out differently. Things that make you go Hmmmm.

Does this make you remember that story of George Washington that might have been part truth or part myth… but all good story? That he supposedly said, “I cannot tell a lie… I did cut down the cherry tree.”

The opposite of that thinking was German propaganda monster Joseph Goebbels, who believed that no matter how big the lie, people will believe it if you repeat it enough. Sad.

And for pic o’ day:

Huskie

 

 

 

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Pure Determination

Monday, October 6th, 2014

On November 8, 1970, Tom Dempsey kicked a 63-yard field goal as time expired, to give the New Orleans Saints a 19-17 win over the Detroit Lions. Just the act of kicking a winning field goal would not be very news-grabbing today, except for the dogged determination that Tom Dempsey represented.

Tom Dempsey was born without fingers on his right hand, and without toes on his right foot. Despite his anatomy, he was determined to play football and become a place kicker. Tom D

With long hours of practice, he played in college and was good enough to be signed by the New Orleans Saints. On that fateful day in November, the Saints sent Dempsey in to kick from the forty five yard line. When the kicked ball sailed through the uprights, it set an NFL field goal record.

His record setting kick, which incidentally stood for 43 years, generated a great deal of controversy because many thought that his foot and modified shoe actually gave him an improper kicking advantage. So much so that the NFL adopted a rule informally called the Tom Dempsey Rule which required that any shoe that is worn by a player with an artificial limb on his kicking leg must have a kicking surface that conforms to that of a normal kicking shoe.   

Dempsey’s refusal to give up ultimately led him to be inducted into the American Football Association’s Semi Pro Football Hall of Fame. At the time of his record-setting kick, he broke the previous kicking record by 7 yards.

DID YOU KNOW that the opposing kicker for the Detroit Lions had just given them the lead by kicking an 18 yard field goal with 11 seconds to go in the game, just prior to Dempsey kicking his game winner. At the time, his coach called on Dempsey to kick the field goal, by calling him by his nickname… Stumpy. I’m not sure that anyone would want to be called Fatty, Tubby or Stumpy!

wrong

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Hot Dog Bun: Behind the Scenes

Sunday, October 5th, 2014

Last week included going to a Baltimore Orioles playoff game. Of course, that necessitated that I go to the concessions during the game. I needed some ballpark food. That’s when I saw behind the scenes.

All of a sudden, I saw a heavyset fellow behind the counter preparing the hot dog buns. He would take a bun and place it in a paper container. He was preparing dozens of these to be ready for the hot dog. So, a person at the counter could just grab the container and bun and throw in the dog when it was ordered.

That all seemed reasonable. What I wish I had not seen was the entire process. As he readied the buns with his two fingers, he also picked at his pants, scratched his nose, wiped his face and picked up something off the floor. All this behind the scenes stuff was taking place without gloves. Needless to say, I vowed never to order a Camden Yards hot dog. A “note to self”.

This behind-the-scenes also reminded me of some bad past corporate behavior that is now remembered as the Pinto Memo.

The Ford Pinto was a subcompact car that was manufactured during the years of 1971-1980. It was competing with imports from Volkswagen, Datsun and Toyota. That’s what caused the Ford engineers to design a car to increase gas mileage by making it lighter. Consequently, the car was designed with no classic, heavyweight bumper as well as the usual reinforcement spacing between  the rear panel and gas tank.

With only 22 months of concept to production, Ford was billing its Pinto as The Little Carefree Car.   Soon, carefree became scary car as the public became aware that rear-end collisions were causing the cars to blow up into fiery fires from spilled fuel. Critics began to allege that the lack of structure reinforcement was the cause of these fires and resulting deaths. Lawsuits followed.

Thereafter, the magazine Mother Jones printed a memo that had been circulated to Ford management before the Pinto was manufactured and sold. The memo had been stolen from Ford and was never supposed to be seen by the public. It proved that Ford was making decisions based on profit and not safety. The memo said in part the following:

1. With expected unit sales of 11 million Pintos, and a total cost per unit to modify the fuel tank of $11, a recall would have cost Ford $121 million.

2. But, using mathematical formulations of a probable 2,100 accidents that might result in 180 burn deaths, 180 seriously burned victims, and 2,100 burned-out vehicles, the “unit cost” per accident, assuming an out-of-court settlement, came to a probable $200,000 per death, $67,000 per serious injury, and $700 per burned-out vehicle, leaving a grand total of $49.53 million.

3. Allowing the accidents to occur represented a net savings of nearly $70 million.

4. Therefore, a human life was mathematically proven to be worth less than an $11 part.

Despite the probability that this car would cause death, Ford management had made the financial decision to push forward with sales. When news of the memo broke that demonstrated that Ford had been aware of the design defects, criminal charges and civil lawsuits followed. The behind-the-scenes was no longer “hidden behind the counter”. The depth of corporate greed was shocking.

Now swinging a bit to the absurd, pic o’ day shows quite the heavy equipment operator!

dod digging

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Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

I was at the Orioles game last night and am headed back to the office this morning. That means I will go in for a bit so I can say “have a great weekend”.   Friday is a great day!

friday

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The Beetle Monument

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

Yesterday’s stock market was almost like a Grisham fiction novel. The night before, there had been a reported ebola virus diagnosis in the United States, with the possibility of another. All of sudden this virus wasn’t in another country; It was here.

Tekmira Pharmaceutical Company is the leading manufacturer of medication for the ebola virus. It immediately gained 6 dollars a share for its stock price. Can you see why I say that it sounded like a fiction novel? One reported case… a 21 dollar stock moves to 27 dollars. Some shareholders reaped huge profits.

Wednesday’s stock market was down across the board. For some, panic set in. For others, it was a buying opportunity. The “Haves” and the “Have-nots” on opposite sides. An opportunity for some to turn a negative into a positive, if you believe that the market will rebound.

That reminded me of the beetle monument in Enterprise, Alabama. They call it something more formal: The Boll Weevil Monument.monument

It’s a tribute to the beetle that was erected by the town’s citizens, in 1919. It stands as the only monument that was built to honor an agricultural pest.

The story behind it is what happens when a negative becomes a positive. In 1915, beetles appeared from Mexico into the fields of Alabama and began destroying the cotton crops. By 1918, farmers were losing entire crops. They were in financial ruin.

One farmer saw it as an opportunity to switch to peanut farming and convinced other farmers to do the same. It was a switch to success. Soon, the catalyst for change was recognized and honored as reflected in the statute inscription which states,  “In profound appreciation of the Boll Weevil and what it has done as the herald of prosperity…”.

In my law practice, I have seen this same catalyst occur. Some clients have taken their settlement proceeds to effectuate change or bring attention to some product defect. Others have told me that after fighting through their hardship to get better, it made them truly appreciate good health. As Albert Einstein put it, “Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity”.

DID YOU KNOW that one out of every four “animals” on earth is a beetle?

And from our pic o’ day comes wisdom… or something like that:

on the computer

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A Note and a Newsletter

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

I have taken the blog in a little different direction today. First, I am including a quick video of an old Saturday Night Live character. Some don’t like to click on videos in the morning (if you are like me). However, you might like this “corporate lawyer” Nathan Thurm.

 

The second item in the blog is our September eBlast newsletter that I sent out yesterday. If you didn’t see it, I thought I would make it easy to click through to it.  I can also personally vouch for the tremendous tasting peanut butter balls!

To read our September Newsletter, click here.

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All About the Mind

Monday, September 29th, 2014

This blog cites two NY Times articles on aging and how to keep the mind sharp. One is a reminder of what to do and the other is a recommendation on what not to do.

First is the positive. The first article is titled Living on Purpose. It’s an article/story that no matter your age, you have to stay active. It’s living life with a purpose that keeps us young. It also keeps us alive!

And the second highlights a concern with medication. There could be a real connection to Alzheimer’s. This article tells us that a Study Links Anxiety Drugs to Alzheimer’s Disease.  Long term use of drugs that are used for sleeplessness like Ativan, Xanax, Valium and Klonopin is causing researchers some concern. It’s worth reading.

And finally… see, I can do a short blog!

And for our pic o’ day:

catnip

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Asked and Answered

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

As a young lawyer, I would get very frustrated when a witness would not answer the question. It was not unusual for me to continue to ask the question until the opposing lawyer would stand with the objection, “asked and answered”.

(Warning: you are going to think that I am getting paid by the word. I just really enjoy this topic! Feel free to wander)

That’s usually where I would make another rookie mistake. I would look to the judge for help in making the witness fully answer the question the way I wanted it answered. I can still hear the judge’s response, “Move on Mr. Bieber”.

Since those days, I have been taught a lot about juries as well as voters because  asking and answering plays a big role in law and politics. This even goes back to my days of being involved while working in the middle of political campaigns. So, what do I think that I have learned? Well besides “not enough”… here’s my 2 cents worth.

As to juries, I have learned that they get it. For those who attack the jury system and want to go to a more controlled environment of forced arbitrations… they don’t give enough credit to those sitting on a jury.

I now believe that juries get it when a witness constantly dodges an answer. I’ve also seen them greatly discount defense experts who are professional witnesses for the defense versus the testimony of treating doctors. Plus, it’s better for me to let the jury be bothered or angry at a witness, rather than me trying to beat up on that witness. Since the jury has the ultimate final say in the case… they will take care of it.snack

(Just to break my rambling up, I thought I’d better throw in a random pic o’)

I’ve also learned that people don’t necessarily answer what they truly believe. When a waiter walks up and ask, How is everything?”, many people say it was fine. Never mind the fact that they were just complaining about the taste of the food or the terrible service. We just don’t want to get into it.

When a prospective juror is point blank asked, “Can you be fair in this case?”, rarely will a person answer that they cannot be fair.  In fact, we really have a hard time admitting that we can’t be fair. Instead, the juror might answer that this might not be the case for them because of some reason. Or, they might admit that something is going on in their lives that makes it difficult to fully sit through the case and be attentive.  That might come out with some kind of response to someone being sued or whether there are too many lawsuits.

We all carry some form of bias or prejudice. Just sometimes, it’s hard to admit it.

That brings me to the political process and voting. When Eric Cantor was running for his re-election  nomination against a same-party opponent, his pollsters advised that he was leading by approximately 34 point (National Journal), leading up to election day. Then, he was crushed for the nomination, by 10 points.

Now why were the polling numbers so wrong? Well, the article does give some possible explanations. I think that people are tired of pollsters. Plus, they might just give a wrong answer… just because.

That leads me to the final poll thought. Jim Gaines (Reuters) has discussed in this attachment, a recent poll that shows that one in four Americans wants their state to secede from the U.S. That’s what people truly said. That they want their state to be independent and leave the U.S. Do you believe that they really mean it? Once again, I think that they are answering in the affirmative… just because. Asking might bring an answer; just not the real answer.

And for our pic o’ day, here’s a cow asking:

cow asking

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Friday And Then Some

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

For our week-ending blog, I have put together a a collage from the collection of possible pic o’s that have been sent to me.

First, is a jury applying the double negative grammar standard.

Double Negative

Next is a bit of Friday.

IMG_1419

 

And some more Friday:

IMG_1421

      Have a great weekend!!

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