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Bad Driving Habits

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Check out this article from USA TODAY.

Are you guilty of these bad driving habits?


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This is No Game

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

I was sent the following notification from the National Trial Lawyers Network. A settlement involving a game. Not what you expect when you are just trying to have fun!

“A $15 million preliminary settlement has been reached in the data breach class action pending against Sony. If approved, the settlement would see $15 million in games and online currency made available to class members as well as identity theft reimbursement. The lawsuit was brought by PlayStation Network (PSN) users affected by a massive 2011 Sony Corp. data breach.

Eligible class members include all persons residing in the US who had a PlayStation Network account or sub-account, a Qriocity account, or a Sony Online Entertainment account at any time prior to May 15, 2011, when it was revealed that hackers had broken into Sony’s network and obtained data on as many as 31 million account holders.

According to the settlement agreement, Sony will provide affected consumers with “various benefits,” depending on the type of accounts they had and if they can prove that their data was misused, to resolve the dispute over the 2011 breach.

Following the discovery of the data breach, Sony offered its PSN users free identity theft protection, among other benefits. However, under the terms of the settlement agreement any class members who didn’t take that deal can choose two items from a mix of games, online display themes and a three-month subscription to Sony’s PlayStation Plus service, with a cap set at $6 million.

For those class members who did take Sony’s initial package, they will receive one of the items, with a cap set at $4 million. Class members who weren’t part of PSN but had accounts for a different Sony gaming service will get $4.50 of in-game currency, with a $4 million cap.

Sony agreed to reimburse up to $2,500 per class member for the identity theft claims, up to $1 million. It also allowed users to transfer any unused online currency into cash and give some class members a one-month subscription to its music streaming service.

Sony customers that fall within the class definition will be automatically bound to the settlement unless they opt out. Class members who wish to opt out from the settlement class have 21 days prior to the date of the final fairness hearing in May to notify the court of their intention to opt-out.”

The name of the case is In re: Sony Gaming Networks and Customer Data Security Breach Litigation, case number 3:11-md-02258, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.

DID YOU KNOW that the fear of noise is called akousticophobia? I guess that the enjoyment of quiet is simply called peace of mind.

And for pic o’ day, let’s stay with the game theme:


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The Hidden Agenda

Monday, July 21st, 2014

During World War II, Hitler kept floating information of a planned date for the Invasion of France. Then, that date would pass and nothing had happened. This method of misinformation was repeated many times. Eventually, France and England no longer took the notice of information seriously because of the previous hoax dates. Then one day, Germany did invade France. The misinformation strategy worked for Germany.

Also during the Second World War, the Allies also used their own deception in 1944: Operation Body Guard. The plan contained several components to mislead Germany as to where Europe invasions would occur. It included systematic radio decryptions in sending false messages of landings. Ultimately, the Allies were successful with their tactical surprise Normandy landings (D-Day) which led to the restoration of the French Republic. Germany had been beaten at their own game.

Now, let me get a little political with hidden agenda comparisons.  Two especially get my attention. First, in the insurance industry. It bothers me to see ads that suggest that membership in USAA is something to “pass down” to members. In my world, I see USAA fighting claims for medical payments for their policy-holders. I have blogged about it before but the hidden agenda continues.

Other insurance companies regularly process medical payment coverage. To me, USAA seems to delay and deny instead of making payments. Conversely, they advertise that membership is an asset with a sentimental bend. Their hidden agenda seems to be, to get family members to also pay premiums, while not wanting to pay claims. I would recommend a different insurance company for coverage. That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it.

The second hidden agenda? All the pharmacy companies that advertise drugs that supposedly help with health matters while causing harms. For instance, Vioxx was marketed as a drug for aches and pains and headaches. Then, it became clear that people could suffer strokes. The hidden agenda must have been money instead of health. Yep… my opinion! I could just keep going.

DID YOU KNOW that Pepsi was first known as “Brad’s Drink”? In 1893 Caleb Bradham made the fountain drink at his drug store. Later, it was renamed after its recipe that included pepsin and kola nuts.

And for pic o’ day


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Guzzling the Caffeine

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

Somehow, Caffeine drinks have managed to become a fixture in the bar scene to be mixed with alcohol. Here’s an article that connects the dangers of alcohol and these high caffeine drinks.

In somewhat of a related story, Oregon’s Attorney General filed a lawsuit on Thursday accusing the makers and marketers of the energy drink 5-hour Energy of making false, deceptive and unsubstantiated claims about their energy shots. The lawsuit asserts that while the company claims to use “a unique blend of ingredients that provide consumers with the benefits of energy, alertness, and focus…the only significant effect from the product comes from its concentrated dose of caffeine.” Hence, the claim of false advertising.

Oregon is just one of several states currently targeting 5-Hour Energy in a lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed in Portland, Oregon and names Living Essentials LLC and its parent company, Innovation Ventures LLC, as defendants. (The Oregonian)
Five hour

These two stories are reminders that these are not “just drinks”. Unfortunately, they have been almost excused as a way of life without consequence.



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Lighting up a Warning

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Today I received an investment email notice of stock upgrades and downgrades. In that upgrade list it showed that Raymond James had upgraded the stock of First Republic Bank. On the downgrade list, FIG Partners had issued a downgrade for…First Republic Bank. If you are a stock day trader,  I guess that’s about the time that you stare into your coffee for a special sign.

coffee sign

That brings me to another unusual mixed signal involving medicine, health and cigarettes. Plus, throw in a bit of turf-protecting from Big Tobacco.

Wouldn’t it be an eye catcher if the title of my blog had been “The benefits of smoking”. Yes, in fact there have been some claims that it fights obesity, and some studies have even linked smoking to lower risks of Parkinson’s disease (March 2010 Neurology journal) and possibly an indication that there is less of a chance of that a person would need knee-replacement surgery. (Australian study- July issue of Arthritis and Rheumatism) But, here are the real mixed signals!

During the 1920′s, the American Tobacco Company decided to be aggressive in their advertising for their popular Lucky Strikes cigarettes. ( They used print advertising with an image of a physician and the caption stating that ”20,679 physicians say ‘Luckies are less irritating’”. The ad was created by their ad agency after physicians had received free cartons of the cigarettes in the mail from the company, and asked whether Lucky Strikes were less irritating to “sensitive and tender” throats. Part of the advertisement was the proclamation that these cigarettes were a smoother smoke because of the toasting process during the manufacturing of the cigarettes. Yep, “the toasting process”.

In the 1940′s RJ Reynolds Tobacco ran an unusual print ad endorsement.


This ad targeted women and appeared in several magazines including Time and Ladies’ Home Journal.  The intent was to show that if a doctor was enthusiastic about smoking, then it must be OK to smoke. Some doctors were even telling their patients the benefits of relaxation by smoking.

On January 11, 1964, Surgeon General Luther Terry announced the findings from the Surgeon General’s Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health. The conclusion: there was a link between lung cancer and chronic bronchitis and cigarette smoking.

Prior to this announcement in 1956, Surgeon General Leroy Burney had personally noticed the increase in lung cancer reports. It was particularly steep among smokers. As a smoker himself, he was particularly interested in the harms of smoking. Soon, studies showed what we know today. Burney issued an official statement that “excessive cigarette smoking is one of the causative factors of lung cancer”.

The tobacco industry was furious and fought any kind of warning or statement tying the two together. They funded their own study that denounced prior studies as a manipulation of statistics. Plus, they claimed that the studies were flawed because they lacked human testing with great numbers. The industry was concerned that warnings would shut them down with no sales.

With that as a backdrop, all warnings and statements about the harms of smoking had little impact on cigarette sales. People kept smoking and by 1981, annual cigarette consumption had peaked at 600 billion sold. The mixed signals of the harms of smoking had little effect.  At that time, nearly one in five American adults still smoked cigarettes. People apparently were not listening to the good or bad.

In 2005, tobacco companies entered into a settlement to remove tobacco ads from all school library magazines, as well as other limitations on smoking advertisements. Despite warnings and limitations on advertising, It is still estimated that more than 400,000 people per year still die relating to some illness related to the use of tobacco products. The only clear signal… People will smoke because they choose to smoke. All worries of Big Tobacco were a bit exaggerated.

friday smile

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Paid in Crack!

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

     Here’s a lawsuit that has some unique issues. From Albuquerque, New Mexico, comes a story of a lawsuit (KRQE) filed for damages relating to a drug addiction.

    The lawsuit claims that federal agents paid an addict in crack cocaine for his cooperation in an undercover investigation into a Las Vegas drug operation. According to the lawsuit, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) approached the man and bribed him to help with the undercover operation by promising a portion of the drugs obtained during the investigation. The suit claims that “He was  targeted because he was a known drug addict”. 

     The man was later charged with distribution of drugs, but the charges were dropped by federal prosecutors in January. The lawsuit seeks $8.5 million in damages for the loss of love, familial relationships, and companionship caused by the plaintiff’s renewed drug addiction.

     A DID YOU KNOW from the art world. The Museum of Modern Art in New York City hung artwork from Matisse titled “Le Bateau”. It was hung upside down for 47 days before a student noticed the error.

     And for pic o’ day…



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Behind the Scenes

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Dr. Eugene Shoemaker… does that name sound familiar? I’m guessing not. He is an example of “behind the scenes”.

On July 18, 1997, Eugene Merle Shoemaker was traveling in his 1986 Toyota Hilux on Australia’s Tanami Highway, with his wife as the only passenger. Around 1:20 pm, traveling in the oncoming direction on the other side of the road was a 1992 Toyota Landcruiser, driven by Brian Mark Jennings. Jennings’ passengers were his wife and two young daughters.

As the two cars approached each other, they both were apparently traveling close to the center of the road as they came around a bend. Visibility was unobstructed. Investigation revealed that Jennings moved to the left side of the road to apparently avoid the oncoming Shoemaker car. At the same time, Shoemaker moved to the right, which would have been the correct move if he had been traveling in the United States, where he normally drove. Instead, the two cars crashed into each other.

While passengers suffered injuries, only one person was killed, Eugene Shoemaker. Born in 1928 and died in 1997. But that is neither the beginning nor end of the story.

Now the beginning of the Shoemaker story. He received his Ph.D. degree at Princeton in 1960 where he studied the impact dynamics of a Meteor Crater. That led him to become a pioneer in the field of astrogeology by founding the Astrogeology Research Program for the U.S. He then became a possible candidate for the astronaut program, with a good chance to be the first geologist to walk on the moon.

During a physical, it was discovered that he was disqualified from the astronaut program because he was diagnosed with Addison’s disease, a disorder of the adrenal gland. From that point forward, he worked behind the scenes to help the space program. After that diagnosis, he channeled his efforts into training others in getting to outer space, and even served as a commentator with Walter Cronkite during live coverage of Apollo 8 and Apollo 11.

In 1965, he was awarded the Wetherill Medal from the Franklin Institute because of his achievements in Science. He later advanced studies in asteroids and their effect on geologic changes and later received the National Medal of Science in 1992 because of his co-discovery of a comet that crashed into Jupiter and caused a massive scar. Until that time, it was thought that such an event could not occur.

Shoemaker spent his later years continually searching for previously unnoticed or undiscovered craters around the world. Such study brought him to Australia in 1997 and to that fateful night in July. Throughout his entire life, he never let the disappointment of being unable to go to the moon hold him back in his continual quest for more space advancement and his desire to train astronauts about craters.

Following his death, his discoveries and studies continue to inform our space program today. On July 31, 1999, some of his ashes were placed in the Lunar Prospector and carried to the moon. The purpose of that launched space probe was an attempt to learn if there was water on the moon. To this day, he is the only person whose ashes have been buried on the moon.

I am aware that some Firm employees worked until after 8 pm last night. On the way in this morning, I asked one of our lawyers why she had worked so late. “I was working on a memorandum”, she said.

The client will probably never know about the hard work and late hours of that lawyer. Hopefully, the thanks will come in the form of a great result. The lawyer, behind the scenes, made a late-night contribution because it just needed to be done.


And for pic o’ day, a bit of disguise!


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Dog Assembly

Monday, July 14th, 2014

Have you ever watched the news on TV and wondered how there could be nothing but negative news? I started to put a list of news stories together for the blog and then really looked at them. They all were negative. Just couldn’t do it.

So, For this Tuesday blog I am just posting pic o’ day. Sometimes it’s just more fun to stay positive… and stay away from the news.

dog Assembly

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The Power of Coffee

Sunday, July 13th, 2014

Coffee is a bit of a running joke at our firm. I decided long ago to purchase good coffee. Specifically, I order Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee for the office. Normally, we have about 3 pots going at any given time in the Richmond office. Accordingly, we joke that the productivity of the firm has dramatically increased since our jump in coffee expense.

This past weekend, I was visiting family in Wilmingon, North Carolina, and stayed at a hotel that provided free coffee. Unfortunately, it seemed to live up to the value of free. I guess I am also a bit spoiled by the Jamaican Blue work week coffee. I even commented  that I was feeling a little sluggish. Then, I stumbled on an article that suggests that coffee may have played a role in the Union winning the Civil War.

From the New York Times opinion pages comes an article titled How Coffee Fueled the Civil War. In it, it discusses the diaries of soldiers who regularly wrote about their coffee. As the author notes, one battle victory was directly effected by coffee delivery. In September 1862, Union soldiers were lagging. Suddenly, a 19-year-old William McKinley appeared, under heavy gunfire, with vats of hot coffee.

One soldier noted that, “It was like putting a new regiment in the fight”. This was the same coffee bearer who ran for President some three decades later. Some suggest that his coffee heroism helped his election effort.

The article later cites that Union soldiers were individuallly issued 36 pounds of coffee per year. Meanwhile, the Union was successful in setting up blockades that kept coffee from getting to the Confederacy. One observer wrote that the loss of coffee, “afflicts the Confederates even more than the loss of spirits”.

While coffee may not have won the war… it may have influenced it. And so, I continue to order our many pounds of coffee for the office!

And now some unusual TV trivia for DID YOU KNOW. In the TV series The Addams Family, John Astin played the family patriarch character of Gomez. In one episode, he acknowledged being a lawyer who had never won a case. As part of his character, Astin would place lit cigars into his pocket. To accomodate this character trait, the prop department lined his suit pockets with asbestos.

And pic o’ day:


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Weekend Relaxation

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

blog 2

Take care of yourself this weekend and have a great one!


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