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Setting Low Goals

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

I feel like I just need to post a happy pic o’ to get started. Just need it.

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Which kinda leads me to my real topic.

If you ever drive through the parking of the Richmond Westin Hotel on Broad Street, this is what you will find:

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It’s a basketball goal up against the curb. I round the corner for breakfast and see it. It’s an 8 foot goal. It probably serves to allow motel guests to dunk a basketball… and feel real tall. It certainly doesn’t increase your basketball skills.

It seems to me that the goal should be higher. Like Michelangelo said long ago, “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark”.

Yes, I’m probably thinking too deeply in the morning. Perhaps I should just ask myself, “where’s the basketball?”.

I didn’t  want to mention April 15 Tax Day,  in yesterday’s blog. Instead, for pic o’ day, today we celebrate April 16.

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The Religious Tolerance Line

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

Not long ago while traveling on the roads of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, our car passed several Amish horse-and-buggy riders. Having been born in Pennsylvania as well as being a “Lancaster regular”,  I was not surprised by this scene. Cars regularly traveling in Lancaster are accustomed to keeping a lookout . Plus, the grooves on the sides of the roads from the buggies and the horses are just part of travel now. Even part of the tourism.

In the early 18th century, the Amish and Mennonites emigrated to Pennsylvania. Their dialect combination of Pennsylvania German became known as Pennsylvania Dutch. Locals accepted their religious beliefs that included life without electricity, automobiles and telephones. Their clothing and dark colors just added to it. The Amish do not participate in the social security system nor buy commercial insurance. That is their religious beliefs and they are accepted.

Religious beliefs now impact travel. The New York Times recently described an event on an airplane that involved the beliefs of the ultra-orthodox Jewish faith.  A lady had settled into her airplane seat to get ready for the long flight from New York to London. A man dressed in the all black garment of the orthodox religion appeared next to her seat and refused to sit down. His religion did not allow him to sit next to a woman that was not his wife. Finally, the lady agreed to change seats and the flight attendant found a man to sit there.

The article went on to report that many flights between the United States and Israel have been delayed or disrupted over this religious issue. It raises the question of what airlines must do in the name of religious tolerance and accommodation.  As one Rabbi stated, “Multiculturalism creates a moral language where a group can say, ‘You have to respect my values.’”

Some religions do not allow  a woman’s face to be publicly exposed except for the eyes. The burka is the most concealing of all Islamic veils which covers the entire face and body, leaving only a mesh for the eyes to see through. Airlines make accommodations for security purposes.

I’m not trying to recite all religious distinctions and beliefs. It does raise the question of just how high of a bar do we all have to reach in the name of tolerance. I remember a minister who used to say, “your freedom ends where my nose begins”. I guess that would suggest that no passenger should be made to change seats in the name of religious tolerance.

And for pic o’ day, I need to lighten it up a bit:

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English Speaking Dogs Tell Us?

Monday, April 13th, 2015

Imagine a politician standing to give a speech on job creation. His proposals to create more jobs include the following :   “We should teach dogs to speak English. It would create more teaching positions and encourage more people to go into fields of education. That would create more jobs in the education field at universities.

It is a wonderful idea to create jobs. Plus no one is arguing against it. Unfortunately, it misses the idea that dogs cannot learn to speak English. Well, except for the few that are on the Internet with such phrases as “Ma Ma” or “I love you”. It reminds me of all the folks who want to believe that they saw the face of Jesus in a grilled cheese.

You can see what you want to see, if you believe enough. I use that thought as a springboard to the Tort reform in Texas. I knew that if I started the blog with tort reform in Texas “you would change the channel”.

Let me make a quick point and make it quick. In 2003, Texas adopted a constitutional amendment that limited payouts in medical malpractice lawsuits. There was a specific cap of $750,000 on payouts for pain, suffering, disfigurement and mental anguish. Later, they capped non-economic damages for malpractice cases to an amount of $250,000.

The basis for enacting the caps was to curb malpractice lawsuits; reduce insurance costs for doctors; lower healthcare costs to patients, which would boost their access to physicians;  encourage physicians to come practice in Texas, as a friendly doctor state; and allow doctors to practice medicine without having to order all those extra tests because of the fear of “those frivolous lawsuits”.

I don’t think I left anything out in the list. Maybe… lower the cost of medical bills since insurance companies could pass the savings on to the consumer…  Well, the results of those 2003 lawsuit caps are in. What are the benefits?

First, according to the Insurance Journal, Texas now ranks number 46 out of 50 states in doctors per Texas residents. So, either that means that doctors can’t stand the thought of living in Texas or, malpractice lawsuit caps have nothing to do with where they practice. Of course, it could also mean that doctors don’t want to hear a word of coverage about the Dallas Cowboys… but I digress.

Did these malpractice caps lower the cost of healthcare for patients? Not according to the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care. I guess that if insurance companies are saving money on malpractice payouts… that they are not passing it on as a savings to Texas residents. Imagine that.

Not only has healthcare costs not decreased, but there’s more bad Texas news. The federal Agency for Health Care Research and Quality ranked Texas health care as the worst in the nation. (2011) Hmmm.

A little bit of good news though. The Center for Progressive Reform found that “restricting lawsuits might save doctors a negligible amount on malpractice premiums”. Negligible is good, right?  OK, I’ll stop being sarcastic.

I doubt that you are clamoring for some good old late night insurance reading. However, in keeping with this being a legal blog, here’s a book that you will probably never read. From Amazon comes The Malpractice Myth by Tom Baker.  Just as a side note, Amazon wanted me to know that as a Prime Member, I can buy the book at a wonderful discount. I think I’ll pass for now.

This book does recite why insurance companies pretend that insurance caps lower insurance premiums.  Of course, I doubt that anyone truly believes that insurance companies would rather pass on profits than keep them. Just my .02.

The old mantra that cutting taxes creates jobs; drilling for oil is a huge job creator (as long as you don’t count cleaning the oil off the pelicans); and caps on lawsuits lowers insurance premiums. Those all sound wonderful. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful life. Unfortunately, it’s more like staring at the dryer in the spin cycle. It’s all believable as long as we don’t have to look at statistics.

And that’s my Tuesday morning soapbox. I’ll climb off now.

And for pic o’ day, some hiding:

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The Law of Plagarism

Sunday, April 12th, 2015

Early in grade school, the teacher assigns homework. At some point, you hear the word plagarize when the teacher tells you that your writing has to be your own work; or, you can recite someone else, but you had to give them credit. It’s not criminal to steal someone’s work but it can get you in real trouble ethically, which is code for failing the class.

This is a story of the Post Office and its research. Or, you might find that the Post Office was just trying to send a message. A nice message for life. You decide.

Maya Angelou was known as a poet, author and civil rights champion. After she passed away, the post office announced that it was honoring the late Angelou with a postal stamp.

Maya Angelou Stamp

After the stamp was distributed, Children’s 89-year-old author Joan Walsh Anglund told the Washington Post that the quote on the stamp was first printed in her book of poetry that was published in 1967. She said that she didn’t know about the stamp but she did praise Angelou and hopes that the stamp is successful.

Until last year, the quote on the stamp was attributed to Angelou. No one remembers whether she actualy claimed it as her own. The postal service notes correctly that the stamp does not necessarily say that the saying was attributed to her. They tell us that the saying was chosen, “to accompany her image on the stamp to reflect her passion for the written and spoken word”. The post office spokesman goes on to add that, “the sentence held great meaning for her and she is publicly identified with its popularity”.

Is this an instance of plagarism or a moment of inspiration? All I know is that I read about this story from the Associated Press!

Speaking of the press:

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A Prisoner’s Football Lawsuit

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

You normally won’t see the following in the same sentence: prisoner, NFL, lawsuit and Sovereign Republic of Texas. That is the subject of the blog today.

Previously, an incarcerated Steeler football fan filed suit against the NFL when the Steelers missed the playoffs last year because the NFL referees failed to call a penalty on the Chargers . During their last game, the  San Diego Chargers, in violation of league rules, had seven players on one side of the line of scrimmage. The Kansas City Chiefs lined up to kick a field goal and their kicker missed it. It was a very short field goal attempt. He should have had the opportunity to kick again, and even be moved closer because of the penalty. The refs missed it and the NFL later admitted to missing the penalty.

The incarcerated fan was furious that the Chargers won because it knocked his team officially out of the playoffs. As a maniacal fan I sympathize, though I have never thought of filing suit in support of the Colts. That said, the Steeler fan lawsuit apparently served to spur a Cowboy fan to file suit over the catch of Dallas Cowboy receiver Dez Bryant, that was later deemed not a catch.

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The Green Bay Packers ended up winning after the Bryant catch was overturned, and the Cowboys were knocked out of the playoffs. An incarcerated Cowboy fan “residing in Colorado” filed suit against the NFL for a sum of $88,987,654,321.88. The Cowboy fan calls the reversal of the catch a “fraud” and “gross negligence” that caused “true injury” to the Cowboys. He probably pulled out his legal dictionary to come up with some fancy terms.

In the incarcerated fan’s handwritten lawsuit, suit was filed against the NFL, the NFL Commissioner, the head of officials, and the referee on the overturned the call. The inmate claims that he represents the cheerleaders, the fans, the sovereign republic of Texas; and of course the receiver… Dez Bryant; for the “theft from and the loss of a Super Bowl, against and upon the hearts, minds, and souls” of each of those parties.

Of course, there have been other curious lawsuits filed that have included one inmate who wanted to add 3 years on his incarceration to match the number on the back of his favorite wide receiver. The Seattle Seahawks even tried to trademark the word “Boom” and the number “12″ because they refer to their fans as the “12th man”. So do many other teams.

Well, I’m just reporting on the lawsuits from the world of the NFL. I am sure there are more on the way.

And for pic o’ day, here’s what I think of these lawsuits…

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Unusual Traffic Violation

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

KLAS (CBS Las Vegas) reports that a Las Vegas woman is complaining after receiving a $200 traffic ticket for applyingg ChapStick lip balm on her lips while driving.  State Trooper Lloyd Hixson cited her under a local ordinance categorized as Full Time Attention.

I have attached the article here because the story seemed a bit  unusual in driving safety enforcement. I thought it was like the old folklore story of the man who was supposedly  cited after he got up  from his Winnebago driver’s seat and caused a car crash. As the story goes, he put the vehicle on cruise control to go back and make a sandwich.

This is not like the old Winnebago sandwich story. It really is true.

According to the Trooper (Hixson), each ticket is issued on a case by case basis. Their intent is to stop distracted drivers and get their attention. According to Hixson, “One time I was driving down the highway and I saw a lady watching a movie on her iPad, and the iPad was attached to her steering wheel with Velcro”.

I guess that Velcro incident made him intolerant of Lip Balm and driving.

So, that’s the story of distraction and ChapStick. It seems pretty tough to lump that in with texting and driving but these national headlines may have a beneficial effect toward distracted driving.

And for pic o’ day, I can’t remember if I have posted this “Curmudgeon” before, but he makes me laugh:

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The Law of Protection

Monday, April 6th, 2015

      This is a week filled with three mediations. That means that I must have patience and also deal with not sitting at my desk for most of those three days. (Reminder to self… must have patience)

     One virtue is that those days go very quickly. One difficulty is that those days go very quickly. I feel like I just recited one of those Palindromes. You know, the words like kayak, level and racecar which can be spelled backwards and forwards… or something like that.

     All said, my rambling it to lead to this. While I can’t think much about vacation this week, I still can post a reminder from DailyMail.com on statistics about being in the sun. The article recites that retirees are seven times more likely to get skin cancer than in the 1970s, with people going on cheaper vacations.

     Cheaper travel and discount cruise ships are among the reasons that cancer research has shown that men aged 65 and over are shown to be 10 times more likely to be diagnosed with malignant melanoma, than those of their parents’ generation. Women of the same age bracket are five times more likely.

     According to the research, getting sunburned once every two years can triple a person’s risk of developing melanoma. And, these statistics will only rise as children grow older… as they spend more time in the sun in their youth.

     Vigilant about the skin and wearing sunblock. Not overdoing the constant exposure and swapping bad sun habits can save lives. I know that it sounds like a public service announcement, but this research is a good reminder.  Now bring on the warm weather!

 

 And for pic o’ day… yes, it is cheesy!

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More Than Employment Cheerleader

Sunday, April 5th, 2015

The announcement came though Executive Order of the Governor. Ban the Box in all state employment applications.(Richmond Times-Dispatch)

When I saw the announcement to ban the box, I had no idea what it meant. Then I learned that state employees will no longer have to indicate on their employment applications whether or not they have been convicted of a crime.

According to the Governor, the order is supposed to remove a current barrier of employment for anyone who has not applied because of a past crime. According to the Governnor’s spokesman, Virginians who have done their time and paid their price should not be excluded from state employment. It means “forgiveness and second chances”.

I assumed that this meant that it was basically an order of encouragment. “Don’t be afraid to apply”. That Human Resources would still do a criminal backround check.

Like buying a chicken rotisserie from an infomercial… but wait, there’s more. The caveat. The order states that a background check can only be conducted after a prospective employee has been determined to be qualified and is being considered for the job. Basically, getting through the door and being considered for hiring. Maybe the perverbial phone call that says, “You are now one of three still being considered”.

One legal note on state law regarding employment for the state. This does not apply to applicatons for state jobs that involve money or the Virginia Department of Alcohol Beverage Control. I almost feel like inserting a punchline there.

For positions categorized as state “sensitive” such as state troopers, child care and corrections and prison officers, background checks will still be required. A waiver will have to be signed for those to be conducted.

Does this mean that child molesters are now able to work at Medical College of Virginia hospital? That computer hackers and identify thieves will be working at DMV?  According to the Governor… No. It just means that individuals convicted of a felony are not automatically disqualified from applying for state jobs.

Does this mean that private businesses will soon be subject to this change in hiring because of a state law change? Well, such companies as Walmart, Home Depot and Target have already ”removed the box”. However, I’m guessing that Virginia still does not want to upset the apple cart of being considered as friendly for business and will not take the next step to apply this to all private businesses.

This same bill had been presented in the Virginia legislature this past session. It passed the state Senate but got defeated in the House. That’s why the Governor took the step of issuing the Executive Order.  Virginia joins 14 other states who have embraced this second chance employment opportunity in “banning the box”.

One final thought. More than 650,000 are released from prison nationwide every year according to the Department of Justice.

 

And for pic o’ day, a high five for Monday!

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Truck Crash Domino

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

I think that every Friday is a good Friday, but this is especially Good Friday!

Speaking of a play on words, a Canadian newspaper had a story about a truck wreck. The story headline stated Bread Truck rolls over, hundreds of loaves toast. 

And finally, I looked out the back window of my office and saw this sign only a few feet away. It caught my attention!

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While in college, I was driving to take a final exam. It would be another two years before I enrolled at law school. At that time, my intent was to go to law school and become a corporate lawyer. I’m not sure I really knew what that meant but I thought corporate was for me.

I stopped at a red light. Unfortunately, a TruGreen truck lost its brakes and ran into the back of my little car. The short story,  that event set a sequence of events in motion. A truck that caused me to no longer want to be a corporate lawyer. A personal injury lawyer was born!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and a meaningful Easter Sunday.

And a couple of theme pic o’s:

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April Fools on the 2nd

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

I’m not big on April Fool’s Day so I didn’t mention it yesterday for the blog. I think that it does bring out the two categories of people. Some love practical jokes and others are not as humored by them. I’m personally not big on pranks.

A newly signed Indianapolis Colts player tweeted that he had been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. Then he announced it was an April Fool’s joke. I received the tweet as a Colts fan. For his sake, I hope no one nationally will notice his choice of prank.

If you are a Colts Fan you might find this funny….The Indianapolis Colts uniform introduction:

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They announced that the Colts would be wearing all white next year. That’s a funny April Fool’s joke at no one’s expense!

A couple of people had asked me why I didn’t write an April Fool’s Day blog. I guess I just did!

And for pic o’ day, a bit of (missing) leadership:

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