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Archive for The Human Spirit

A Back Yard Carnival

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

Have you ever been driving down a road and looked over to see something curious in a yard?  Something like an old rusted car, or maybe an old bird feeder?

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Does it make you wonder what the neighbors think? Well, here’s a story at Roanoke.com, where we know what the neighbors were thinking. The article is titled Decision against northeast Roanoke couple’s carnival rides will stand, judge rules. Does that get your attention?

The story goes that a couple moved into their home about two years ago. Then, they assembled a number of  antique rides in their yard, which measures 1.4 acres.

The “rides” include a 1973 Ferris wheel and a Gravitron ride. The Gravitron  weighs about 19 tons and is valued at more than $200,000. At this point, I am guessing that the neighbor’s had noticed!

To no one’s surprise but theirs, soon they were cited by an inspector and told to remove the rides. They appealed to the city’s zoning appeals board. The board determined that the rides were not permitted in a residential area,  because the machines are “substantially similar” to a commercial amusement park.  (Imagine that!)

From there, they appealed to Circuit Court. The Judge ruled against them, while admitting, “Nobody loves a ride better than I do,” but he found that such rides were improper for a residential area.

The couple have now filed a $2 million civil suit against the city and senior code compliance inspector, arguing that he had defamed them while investigating the rides.

The suit alleges that the inspector sent an internal email which described them as “a real menace to the neighborhood”. They have not decided if they will appeal the “ride ruling”.

It  makes me wonder why they couldn’t just be happy with a roaming Gnome with a tank top, or a birdfeeder for the squirrels. Even a rusty car seems like a better plan.

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I Am Not That Person!

Monday, June 20th, 2016

The movie Wolf of Wall Street is based on the book that Jordan Belfort wrote about his life. He took an entry level position at a low level brokerage firm and parlayed it into his own investment firm. His escapades and ultimate journey to prison are chronicled in the movie, and Jordan is played by Leonardo DiCaprio.

My blog yesterday dealt briefly with the story of Rod Stewart. A look into the consequences of when celebrities are sued or are ordered to give a deposition in a lawsuit.

The lawsuit is detailed here in this CNN article/video. Andrew Greene, a former executive of the Belfort brokerage firm claims that one of the characters in the book/movie is him, and that it wrongfully portrays him as a “criminal, a drug user and a degenerate”.

The character was identified as a different name, and DiCaprio’s attorneys claim that he has no knowledge of the characters, as one of the actors, and that his knowledge is “too limited to justify the burden of a deposition”.

I have provided this brief description. I am more curious about this defamation lawsuit, because before the lawsuit, no one knew who Andrew Greene was or anything related to his supposed relationship to this character named Nicky Koskoff in the movie. So basically what this lawsuit is saying is ”that degenerate, dishonest character in the film… anyone can see that it is me!”. The lawsuit is seeking 25 million for damages.

For pic o’ day, I am not fascinated with the Wolf. So, I post a picture of….

 

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5 Monkeys and Their Ladder

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

Can monkeys figure out how to use a hotel key? The real question is whether they can figure out which room the key goes to… but I digress.

The real lesson from monkeys (for our monkeys’ blog) is told in an article from PsychologyToday.com in an article titled  What Monkeys Can Teach Us About Human Behavior: From Facts to Fiction.

The article is based on a story that goes like this:

A group of scientists placed five monkeys in a cage, and in the middle, a ladder with bananas on top. Every time a monkey went up the ladder, the scientists soaked the rest of the monkeys with cold water.

After a while, every time a monkey would start up the ladder, the others would pull it down and beat it up. After a time, no monkey would dare try climbing the ladder, no matter how great the temptation.

The scientists then decided to replace one of the monkeys. The first thing this new monkey did was start to climb the ladder. Immediately, the others pulled him down and beat him up.After several beatings, the new monkey learned never to go up the ladder, even though there was no evident reason not to, aside from the beatings.

The second monkey was substituted and the same occurred. The first monkey participated in the beating of the second monkey. A third monkey was changed and the same was repeated. The fourth monkey was changed, resulting in the same, before the fifth was finally replaced as well.

What was left was a group of five monkeys that – without ever having received a cold shower – continued to beat up any monkey who attempted to climb the ladder.

This story has been repeated in many motivational talks through the years, to stand for the premise that if it was possible to ask the monkeys why they beat up on the other monkeys, what would they say? The reason the monkeys continued to beat up any new monkey trying to climb the ladder is because, “I don’t know, it’s just the way we do things around here”.

Now… that’s a wonderful life lesson. However, it just never happened. There was some studies on monkeys, but none that were this specific. I guess they could have told us stories about monkeys who eat swordfish, and we would believe it.

When I read this story… and the fiction of the story, I thought of metaphors involving pharmaceutical companies or politicians. Pharma, because they pitch drugs for headaches that they claim have been tested with, “ask your doctor if this drug is right for you” and then they go on to say that this headache pill causes everything from hives to death.

As to politicians, they tell us stories about poverty or pain that make for good stories… but just aren’t based in fact. Anything to get elected, and we are tired of it.

I said all that to say, let’s let the monkeys enjoy life.  They don’t effect us. Do they really need to teach us a lesson?

 

And for pic o’ day, here’s another lesson from animals… when there is too much TV watching:

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Scruff Face

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016


A lawsuit that involves a sniper, defamation, and a person who called himself “Jesse ‘the body’ Ventura”, makes for good blog material.

The lawsuit resulted in a $1.3 million plus $500 defamation jury verdict that was awarded to Jesse Ventura. Ventura,  a former professional wrestler who also served as the governor of Minnesota, had claimed that he was defamed by Navy Seal Chris Kyle. (Star-Tribune.com)

The lawsuit arose out of an alleged altercation between Chris Kyle and Ventura. According to the book  American Sniper, a memoir written by former Navy Seal Chris Kyle,  Kyle claimed he punched a man named “Scruff Face” for disparaging the war in Iraq and saying the SEALs “deserve to lose a few.” Later, Kyle identified ”Scruff Face” as Ventura.

I think Ventura was bothered by Kyle’s claims of Ventura’s statements, as well as the claim that Kyle punched him.

Ventura, whose real name is James George Janos, claims that the incident never happened, according to the Star Tribune. The federal jury in Ventura’s case came back with a 1.35 million verdict for unjust enrichment and $500,000 for defamation.

As told in the movie American Sniper, Kyle was later killed on a firing range. His wife appealed the Ventura verdict and it has now been set aside by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. The unjust enrichment claim was set aside as contrary to Minnesota law and the $500k defamation verdict was overturned because the judge had allowed evidence of insurance during the trial.

For now, Ventura has not decided whether to appeal. “It is going to be back to the drawing board as to whether Ventura wants to go through this again,” said Jane Kirtley, professor of media ethics and law at the University of Minnesota.

And for pic o’ day, when this was sent to me, the song reference cracked me up:

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Too Late!

Monday, June 13th, 2016

Poker players say that if you can’t spot the sucker at the table… then you are the sucker. It’s basically the same for people who are always late. If you don’t know someone who is always late… then you are that friend who is always late. Unfortunately for one lawyer, being late was costly.

It all started when Judge Bynum Gibson had asked the lawyers for both sides to be present at 8:30 a.m. He wanted to take care of trial motions before trial started at 9. (Monticello Live) This was a murder trial and the jury was ready to be seated.

When Arkansas defense attorney Jim Morris arrived at 9:08 a.m., he tried to explain that he was late because he had to take his daughter to camp and couldn’t reach the court by phone because of poor cellphone reception issues. Unfortunately for Morris, the judge said that the case was already concluded for the day. Poor Judicial Reception!

The judge held Morris in contempt and said he even considered jailing the attorney for 24 hours. Instead of jail time, Judge Gibson fined Morris—requiring him to pay $4,000 to the court clerk. It was based on the expense of the cost of compensating 60 to 70 prospective jurors and the witness fees that were also paid for this murder case.

“I’ve had defendants not show up, but never had attorneys show up after 9 o’clock,” Gibson said. “It’s killed 3 days of court time.” Now, the murder trial has been rescheduled for July.

Better late than never was not better. You just can’t be a highway cone. Have to keep it moving and be on time!

And for pic o’ day, that ole-fashioned technology… right?

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“Of Politics and Coffee”

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

Sometimes I am asked why I don’t write more about politics. Since it’s the weekend, here’s a bit of politics. More of a parody from The Shining:

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OK, I can see that you are disappointed in the politics. That causes me to revert back to one of my favorite topics. Remember, it is the weekend:

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And just for some history, did you know that Union soldiers were issued 8 pounds of ground roasted coffee  during the Civil War, as part of their personal rations of one hundred pounds of food. They could also trade out food to get issued another 10 pounds of green coffee beans.

At the office, I buy great tasting coffee and have it shipped in. Sounds like the Union Generals knew my secret of the importance of coffee, long before I came along!

I hope you have a great weekend!!!

And for pic o’ day, Debbie K sent this one. It really made me laugh:

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On Food and Fixins’

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

 


ReallyFastFacts.c0m  is a food warning in their article titled “According to Their Employees, These 10 Fast Food Items Should Be Avoided at All Costs” . Something to think about when you are headed to the baseball field or the pool and want to pick up some “fixins” quickly.

Former employees, according to the article, tell us that Wendy’s Chili is made from expiring hamburger and is sometime freshened up for the next day, by just adding water. Makes your mouth water… for the wrong reason.

Those chicken nuggets? They might have been sitting for hours. Better to call them well-aged nuggets?

According to the article, it says that the Dunkin Donut donuts are frozen. Come on, can that be true? Say it ain’t so! I still remember the old commercial “Time to make the donuts”. Is it really “Time to unfreeze the donuts”?

That’s just a few of the foods. I hope it’s not all true. Still, maybe apples and a morning pepper are still the way to go instead of old hamburger! Just some food for thought… or thought for foods.

And for pic o’ day, it’s all about the food and working out:

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On Wills or Not

Monday, June 6th, 2016

In law school, I thought that I would enjoy doing estate work. I took 8 hours (two semesters) of Estate Planning. To date, I think that I have drafted a total of…. one will. That was in my first year of practice.

I thought I had a good plan for a law practice. Not so much!

Still, I do perk up when celebrity wills are discussed. Sometimes they have fascinating provisions. Leona Helmsley was the hotel owner/business woman who was known as the “Queen of Mean” because of the way that she treated her employees.

When she died, she excluded many relatives from her will. However, she did leave 12 million dollars to her dog Trouble.

Majel Barrett Roddenberry was the wife of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. She was much nicer in her will. She left $4 million dollars to her dogs with a provision that they be allowed to continue to live in one of her mansions. In addition, she allocated an additional 1 million dollars to any loyal employee who was willing to live with the dogs.

Recently, musician Prince passed away without a will. That brought to light additional celebrities who died without a will. Here’s the USA Today article that includes Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley and Sonny Bono. Curious lack of planning, except for Marley. He felt that estate planning was against his religion.

 

And for pic o’ day, a bit of responsibility… not!

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The Power of Persuasion

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

Food Lion uses a lion to persuade us to buy groceries.

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Seeing a lion who is casually watching TV is probably more believable to me, then me walking down aisle 9 at the local Food Lion. I guess there are varying degrees of the suspension of disbelief. But I do want to believe in talking lions. It’s their power of persuasion in advertising.

This is a blog on persuasion. I decided to write on this topic when someone remarked that I am in a job of persuasion. I thought about it, and reminded myself that we all live a job of persuasion.

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 I negotiate with myself every morning. Before I get out of bed, I tell myself, “how about another 5?”.

When I was about four-years-old, I remember a Chevy dealership car lot that was near my grandparents house. It was the town of Muncy, Pennsylvania. Honestly, I guess that most would be hard pressed to call it a ”car lot” because it only had  about 9 or 10 cars on the lot.

That was the charm of Muncy. My birthplace; where the joke was that there was a tree at the beginning of Muncy that had two signs hanging on it. The first sign said “Welcome to Muncy“.On the back of the tree was a sign that said “Thank you for visiting Muncy“. Not really a true story, but it was a small town. That’s why the car lot only had 9 or 10 cars.

In addition to the cars, sat a big farming Combine Harvester. My grandfather had traded it in for a new truck. It sat there with a “for sale” sign, on the car lot, for over a year. Why? Because my ”Pop Pop” had persuaded the car dealer that it was in his best interest to sell a truck and trade for that farming vehicle. I often wonder what happened to that Combine. But I saw the power of persuasion by a farmer.

Today is Thursday. You will be faced with opportunities for persuasion. What will you accomplish? The power of persuasion is the greatest of all super powers!

And for pic o’ day, If I believe in talking lions, why can’t I still believe in Unicorns!

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“We Didn’t Mean It!”

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

This comes from the world of advertising, and from the world of political correctness. It’s kinda fun to watch a company try to sidestep. Like being at the skating rink and hearing, “You put your right foot in, you put your right foot out. You put your right foot in and then you shake it all about”. Guess this company is still shaking!

Here’s the ad as listed in the story of USA Today:

 

In case you can’t watch it right now, the ad goes like this: Its for Qiaobi laundry detergent. It shows a black man being pushed into a washing machine and emerging later as a light-skinned Asian man.

In the TV ad, a black painter with white paint smudges on his face enters the room. He then whistles at a Chinese woman who is busy with her laundry.

She motions to him to come over and he thinks he is going to get a kiss. Instead, she puts some detergent in his mouth and then shoves his head and body into the washing machine. He pops out as a ”washed” Asian.

Public outcry has made the company apologize, but they quickly added that they meant nothing racial by it. They were just emphasizing their product. And they were also pleased by the additional press coverage!

Recently, I heard about a comedian who made an Asian joke about a new rollercoaster that was designed and  installed at Kings Dominion. They were proud to announce that it had been built by Asians. Unfortunately, the Asians were too short to meet the height requirement… and they couldn’t ride it. The comedian got some grief over that.

The moral of the story… “I believe in the absolute freedom of expression. Everyone has the right to offend and be offended.” (Taslima Nasrin)

 

And for pic o’ day, I guess it’s more than just advertising… and not offensive!

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