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Archive for The Human Spirit

The Politics of Politics Settlement

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

Gary sneaks out of his room in nothing but his underwear to drop his food tray in the hallway. To his horror, his hotel room door closes behind him, locking him out. Thankfully, Captain Obvious is there to help  … but not really. He’s just there to point out that, normally, people wear pants and that despite Gary’s attempt to hide behind the plant, he found him immediately. Gary’s co-worker shouts after the hustling Gary that “It’s Wednesday Gary” and Gary shouts back “I know that, Janet”.

In a follow-up commercial, Gary sarcastically thanks Captain Obvious for telling him about hotels.com since he’s locked out of his room. And then tells him,  ”I don’t need a hotel room, I just need to get back in the one I already have”. Captain Obvious tells him “No need to thank me, since I haven’t helped you in the slightest”.

Sometimes I want to also sarcastically reply back to all those political emails from candidates who thank me for giving to their campaign and for being helpful. In fact, these computer generated spamming political fundraising emails remind me of Captain Obvious. I want to email back, “Don’t thank me, since I haven’t helped you in the slightest”.

But, that’s what happens in the world of politics, which leads me to an Associated Press story about a lawsuit that had previously been filed by former candidate Ken Cuccinelli.

According to the lawsuit, Cuccinelli said that the PAC raised $2.2 million in 2013, while promising donors  that their contribution would help Cuccinelli in his Virginia campaign for Governor, against Democrat Terry McAuliffe. Records show that the PAC only gave Cuccinelli’s campaign a total of $10,000. They were just using a name to raise funds for their own use.

As a result of the lawsuit, Federal court pleadings filed last week show that Cuccinelli and the Virginia-based Conservative StrikeForce PAC reached a settlement that will prohibit the PAC from using a political candidate’s name for future fundraising efforts against the candidate’s wishes.

Also as part of the settlement and specifically relating to the lawsuit, the PAC agreed to pay Cuccinelli’s gubernatorial campaign $85,000 and to give it exclusive rights to the PAC’s direct mail and email donor lists.

Here’s more of the nonsense of political fundraising, as well as why you and I should expect to keep getting bombarded with nonsense in our email in-box.

According to the press release statement, The StrikeForce PAC made no admission of wrongdoing as part of the settlement. It simply said that it would continue to operate but will “cease and desist” from using any candidate’s name or image “upon receipt of a written request.”

Seriously? I think Captain Obvious would not even have to state anything about that. It’s already obvious.

I think I need a good pic o’ day to feel better after that!

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Don’t Trash Talk NASCAR

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

Fan is short for fanatic. I know that I have been guilty of being a fan… a person with an extreme and uncritical enthusiasm or zeal. However, a story from an Indiana TV station has taken fandom to a criminal level.

An Indiana man (David Wilson) attacked his fiancée because she was “talking trash” about Nascar.   According to the report, the fiancée called 911 during the Indianapolis 500, saying Wilson had gotten upset during a fight over whether the NASCAR circuit or IndyCar was better.

She told police that they had been drinking all day. She said that he got angry when he heard her and another person talking about IndyCar, and how it was better than NASCAR. Of course, this conversation was taking place in IndyCar territory, close to where the Indianapolis 500 race takes place each year.

Wilson did not deny some of the facts but denied others. He told police he was in the kitchen making dinner when he heard his fiancée and the other person “talking trash about NASCAR.” He said that he yelled into the room at both of them. However, he denied any kind of physical altercation.

The man also complained that he was “extremely upset” that no one in the house would help him with the household work. They were just out in that room talking about racing. Police arrested him on charges of domestic battery and strangulation.

No word on whether NASCAR or household chores will come in the way of their marriage going forward!

And for pic o’ day…

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Oh Those Motivating Quotes!

Monday, May 25th, 2015

Coming back after a long weekend can be a bit challenging. But here we go! Sometimes it’s good to grab a quote to stir up some motivation.

‘Fool me once, shame on … shame on you. Fool me… You can’t get fooled again!’
- George Bush

OK, maybe that’s not one I was thinking about. But, here’s a thought from the Our Daily Bread message boards that reminded me of another quote:

A doctor’s surgery suite had a notice hanging on the reception area. It invited patients who were in the check- in line, to pray for the doctor… and for each other as they waited their turn. That reminded me of Oswald Chamber’s statement that, ” ‘Prayer changes things’ is not as close to the truth as saying ‘Prayer changes me and then I change things’ “. A wonderful reminder of the power of prayer.

And on to pic o’ day. Because the “Deflatriots” and Tom Brady are still in the news, a look back at popular Tom Hanks’ classic movie…

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A Good Night’s Sleep

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

This is the my blog until Tuesday, as we head into the weekend and Memorial Day. I wanted to write something about relaxation. That led me to thinking about a bed.

In the time of Shakespeare, mattresses were held securely to bed frames by ropes. A person could pull on the rope to tighten the mattress. The more a person pulled on the rope, the more the bed felt firmer. That’s where we get the expression Goodnight… sleep tight!

I hope it’s a great weekend and that you do get some relaxation. And for Monday, a time to remember those who have died in the armed services, protecting us.

And for pic o’ day

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Insurance in Sports

Sunday, May 17th, 2015

This picture with chopstick instructions made me laugh.

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It’s why the Preakness horse race on Saturday would cause people to bet on the horses. Different odds for different beliefs in their possibility of winning. Although, the result would cause me to believe that only American Pharoah had a chance.

While many of us don’t believe that life is just about luck or chance, insurance companies look at it as risk measurement. A belief that life is a bit of chance is what insurance companies count on in selling their product. They collect premiums with the hope that you will never need payment of insurance. We make payment for insurance premiums… with the hope that we will never need to collect!

That brings me to Ekpre-Olomu. The fact that you probably don’t know the name is part of the story. He used to play cornerback for the University of Oregon and was expected to be drafted in the first round of the NFL draft.

He was a concensus All American who tore his ACL in December practice. Because of that knee injury, he was unable to perform at the NFL combine nor at pro day at his school. Those are the times when NFL scouts make their recommendations.

Because of his injury and subsequent fall in the recent draft, Ekpre-Olomu is now in line to collect on a 3 million dollar insurance policy. Last year, to encourage him to stay and play at the school, Oregon took out an insurance policy against such an injury that would effect his pro career.

When he wasn’t selected in the first round, he was eligible to collect on a portion of the policy. When he fell out of the second round, he was in line to collect the full 3 million. It won’t make up for his full loss because if he had been drafted around the 12th pick, he would have collected somewhere around 10.5 million in guaranteed money in that slotted spot. Still, that insurance policy will be a helpful offset as he works to get better from his injury.

That’s a form of disability insurance that is now becoming more popular among athletes. When I first started practicing law, I purchased a disability policy that would  pay if I am unable to physically try cases in a courtroom. I am thankful to be paying those small premiums… without ever collecting.

 

And for our Monday pic o’ day, a lack of confidence…

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Sports and Jury Selection

Sunday, May 10th, 2015

It’s NBA playoff basketball time so it’s probably a bit predictable that I have managed to combine law and basketball into my Monday blog. That’s because I went to the Wizards/Hawks game on Saturday night in Washington D.C.

Here’s a picture of me at the game during the game-winning shot by Paul Pierce. Looking at this crowd and trying to search for me is like asking you to “find Waldo”.

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You can see me in the bottom left corner of the picture, standing just above the photographers in a blue jacket and blue shirt… looking ”fan crazy”. A shot at the buzzer will do that to a fan. At least that’s my excuse! I suspect that you are still having a hard time finding me! That’s the power of a crowd.

Several years ago I met an NBA referee from Virginia. He was officiating back in the 1990′s. I asked him what it was like to referee a game with Michael Jordan playing, and whether it was hard to do it. He described it as if the power of Jordan walking on the floor was much like attending an Elvis Presley, and that you couldn’t help but be impacted by it.

He hastened to add that he quickly adjusted. I guess that he didn’t want me to think that his officiating could be influenced by the cult of personality. When I look again at the screaming crowd on Saturday night, it makes me wonder how any official can avoid being influenced. I guess that’s part of home court advantage.

It reminds me of being an official of faculty basketball, as a freshman at Bob Jones University. The entire league was made up of teams from the college professors. And, the president of the university was also playing… Dr. Bob Jones III.

I remember calling one foul on him where he just stared at me after I blew the whistle and made the call. Tough times for a mere college freshman! Years later he laughed about that when I told him that story. I have to admit… I was influenced.

During my jury selection for a case trial, I try to ask questions that are intended to reveal any bias or prejudice. Sometimes I will receive an answer from a prospective juror that will reveal one of those characteristics. I have seen several potential jurors struck by defense attorneys, just because they didn’t want a juror hearing a car crash case, if that juror responded that they had previously been in a car crash. The defense attorney is sensitive to a potential bias toward my client, who was hurt in the crash.

Usually near the end of my prospective jury panel questioning, I will ask a variation of the following to the panel: “You have heard the judge describe the events of this crash and now you have some details about my client and her treatment. Based on what you heard, is there anyone who believes that they cannot be fair and impartial in this case. Perhaps something about these facts causes you to be already influenced before you have heard the case.”

I may even recite some examples of where I would be influenced. I tell them that there are just some cases that I personally could not be fair to all the parties because of the facts.  That’s because we are all subject to outside influences. However, that doesn’t always mean that such influence is a bias or prejudice. In some examples, the referee of the case— the Judge, has to make that call.

And for pic 0′ day, here’s some influence and persuasion:

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Lawsuits After the Big Fight

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

It’s boxing and lawsuits. And, there’s a lot of money involved.

Last Saturday night in Las Vegas,  Floyd Mayweather won a 12-round victory by  a three judge unanimous decision over Manny Pacquiao. Initial financial estimates indicate that the fight generated approximately $400 million in revenue. Now, fans want a piece of that prize money.

Two fans have filed a federal lawsuit alleging that consumer laws were violated and bettors didn’t get fair fight because of Pacquiao’s failure to disclose that he had suffered a shoulder injury before the fight. The lawsuit seek damages from Pacquiao as well as his promotion company, Top Rank Inc., on behalf of all who purchased tickets for the fight; those who watched the fight on pay-per-view television; and gamblers who wagered on the fight.

Since the boxing match, it has been reported that Pacquiao has already had right shoulder surgery to repair a “significant tear” in his rotator cuff. More fuel to the lawsuit, that the fight never should have taken place.

A separate suit has been filed against the victorious fighter, Floyd Mayweather.  The mother of three of his children has now filed a defamation suit against him in Los Angeles Superior Court. The lawsuit was brought because of remarks that he made about her in media interviews before the fight. In an April interview with Katie Couric, he claimed among other things that he wasn’t really assaulting her in a 2010 incident at their Las Vegas home. Instead, he was just trying to restrain her because she was on drugs at the time.

At the time, Mayweather was arrested and charged with domestic violence after two of their children witnessed him pulling her hair and twisting her arm so hard that she thought that she had broken it. He ended up pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge and spending two months in jail.

The lawsuit seeks $20 million. It is estimated that Mayweather could get as much as $200 million from the fight, once all the fight income including pay-per-view profits are totaled.

It just makes me shake my head!

Have a great weekend!

And for pic o’ day…

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Wal-Mart Wage Lawsuit

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

The greeters at the doors of Wal-Mart leave me with a positive feeling, because they smile. Not all Wal-Mart employees are smiling.

In 2002, several employees brought suit against Wal-Mart claiming that they were made to work on breaks, and that they did not get paid for those breaks as promised. Basically, a claim for failure to pay wages.

In 2005, these employees were certified as a class action. In 2006, the class went to trial and secured a jury verdict in the amount of $187 million. Wal-Mart appealed but ultimately the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld the verdict.

From that opinion, Wal-Mart has taken their appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. At issue is not whether the employees were improperly joined as a class to bring an action. Wal-Mart had previously been successful in a 2011 case for that reason,  when the Supreme Court struck down the certification  of a class for 1.6 million female employees who had brought suit with a claim for gender discrimination, relating to pay and promotion policies at the stores. (Wal-Mart v. Dukes)

Instead, the basis of appeal for this present wage lawsuit is an attack on the expert testimony at the original trial. According to Wal-Mart’s appeal, the testimony was based on a condensed version of information rather than actual evidence, which caused the expert testimony to be given in error. The argument… that there was no real evidence at trial relating to lost wages since there was no evidence of time-clock records.

At one time, Wal-Mart had used time clocks for employees. Close to the time of the original suit, all stores had ceased requiring time clock  “clock-in” by the employees. As a result, Wal-Mart now argues to the Supreme Court that no claim for loss of wages should exist without specific proof. The case will be heard during this term of Court.

And pic o’ day is more cartoon today:

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Calvin Peete’s Lesson

Monday, May 4th, 2015

Former professional golfer Calvin Peete passed away last week at the age of 71. Legacy.com listed the details of his life in his obituary.

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Peete won 12 tournaments on the PGA tour and was known specifically for his accuracy. He was also on two Ryder Cup teams.

I am writing about him in the blog because, more impressive than his skills in golf was his tenacity to overcome and to compete.

He was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1943. He began to make money for his family by picking beans and corn in the fields of Florida. He eventually bought a station wagon to sell vegetables to migrant workers.

Initially, he had no interest in golf because he didn’t like being out in the hot sun. Then, he became interested when he learned how much money golfers were making. He began playing at age 24. Within six months he was shooting in the 80′s and a year later he was regularly shooting under par.

As a kid, he had fallen out of a tree and broken his left arm. As a result, he could not fully extend it because it had never properly been set . So, on his swings, he had to compensate. That caused him to swing differently than other golfers. He practiced and developed a repeatable swing that regularly put him in the fairway.

He didn’t look at his left arm as a limitation. Instead, he viewed it as a benefit. He said that, “Some of the players drive farther than I do, but I’m always in the fairway and they’re sometimes in the trees”.

He was known for his positive attitude on the tour. As he put it when discussing golf, “I love this game”, he said in a NY Times profile. “You’re out in the fresh air and you can meet good people, like the President of the United States. I once played a round of golf with President Ford, and you have a chance to make $400,000 a year”.

Calvin Peete is a reminder of tenacity; not being effected by something that others would view as a hindrance or an excuse; and, most importantly, the consistency of just staying in the fairway. The fundamentals of life!

And for pic o’ day… another crazy cat.

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The Cheating Subway Ride

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

On April 21, 1980, Rosie Ruiz was credited as the winner of the Boston Marathon in the female category. Her finishing time of 2:31:56 was credited as the fastest female time in Boston Marathon history and at that time, was the third fastest female time ever recorded for a marathon. In fact, this photo shows how exhausted she was as she crossed the finish line.

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After the race, the men’s winner Bill Rodgers became suspicious as he watched her being interviewed as the winner. He noticed that she was unable to recall specific things about the race that most runners know by heart such as intervals and splits which indicate her cardiovascular pacing from training. Other observers noted that she was not panting or coated in sweat, as expected after running such a race. In fact, they were very surprised that her thighs appeared strangely flabby and fatter than expected for a world class runner.

When Ruiz was asked at the finish line why she didn’t seem winded after such a run, she replied, “I got up with a lot of energy this morning”.

According to Eagletribune.com, in an article titled Rosie’s Run, an investigation into her “win” then began.  It led them to a woman on a bus who told this story:

Susan Morrow went to her first New York City Marathon in 1979 to watch a friend who was among the 8,000 entries. The Greenwich Village resident hopped a train at the West 4th Street station.

“I saw this woman in running clothes with her head down,” says Morrow, a free-lance photographer and designer. “The seat next to her was open. So I sat there.”

Morrow wanted to talk to the woman, but was afraid to because she appeared upset.

The woman said, “Do you know what time it is?” recalls Morrow.

Soon they made introductions.

“She said, ‘Hi, I’m Rosie Ruiz,’ ” says Morrow. “I’ll never forget that.”

Rosie Ruiz told Morrow she had hurt her ankle about the 10-mile mark.

Before long, the two women realized they were both headed to the same place: the marathon finish line at Tavern on the Green in Central Park.

They got off at Columbus Circle and made their way through a series of barricades manned by police officers and race volunteers.

“Every time we got to a barricade, she would put her arm on my shoulder, like she was leaning on me, and the police would let us through.”

At one barricade, the limping Ruiz stopped at a table, grabbed a can of juice, opened it and poured it over her head. “I remember thinking it was a little weird,” says Morrow. “But I figured that’s what all runners do.”

They reached the last barricade, 50 feet from the finish line. “Rosie said, ‘I’m an injured runner,’ and all of sudden, about 10 people surround her and start helping her out,” says Morrow. “They took her to the medical area and I got to go, too. It was right at the finish line.”

A few minutes later, Morrow says, Ruiz came back and asked for her telephone number.

“We’ll have lunch some time next week,” she said.

A week later, Morrow’s phone rang.

“Susan, hi, it’s Rosie,” the caller said.

“Rosie?” Morrow replied, caught off guard.

“And she said, “You forgot me already,”’ says Morrow.

The pair never got together for lunch.

Six months later, Morrow was home watching Boston Marathon highlights on TV.

“I saw this woman on the winner’s stand with the wreath on her head,” says Morrow. “And I almost fell out of my chair. That was the woman I sat with on the train.

Soon after, a full investigation commenced that included interviewing Mrs. Morrow; as well as searching through camera footage throughout the race which never showed Ruiz; and also talking to designated race spotters, who did not remember seeing her.

It was determined that she had actually left a pack of runners at the beginning of the race, taken a subway to a stop about a mile from the finish line, where she rejoined the race as part of the fastest pack, as reported by two Harvard students who were part of the crowd of spectators.

Predictably, Ruiz was disqualified and the second place finisher was flown back to Boston and recognized as the winner. The story is still told as the cheater who ran the Boston Marathon.

As I was reading a “look-back” at the Ruiz story, I glanced down and saw another story.

This week,  Bloomsberg News reports that Warren Buffett has told reporters that Geico is implementing premium rate increases because their pretax gain at Geico has fallen in the first quarter. As indicated by Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway counts on the profits of Geico in its porfolio, to generate funds so they can invest in stocks and takeovers. Those Geico ads are sure funny.

 

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