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Hammer Meets Nail!

How about a Christmas picture to get Our Blog week started?

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When I received that… I laughed!

Here’s what we know on a Monday. No one wants to hear how someone’s fantasy football team did over the weekend, and no one wants to hear about how much money someone made in bitcoin. Right?  (Yes, I know. That was just random)

We want useful!!! Something that effects us. Thus, I will be a bit random now to get to our ending point.

So let me mention my weight loss idea. On Friday I decided to punish myself for gaining a couple of pounds. I know it sounds crazy, but stick with me.

Recently, I ordered some custom shirts from a men’s shirt company that is located in India. I sent them my sizes. When the shirts arrived, they all felt tight. I was stuck. Send them back and spend almost as much in shipping as I spent on the shirts? Give them away? Or, torture myself. I went with the torture weight loss program of shirt tightness.

With a sport coat on, you probably wouldn’t notice. Me? I felt the tightness all day. One piece of lettuce felt like too much food. I knew I needed to lose at least 3 pounds! It’s the little things. Like not just digging into the Christmas cookies that show up at our office. Which brings me to some poetry for the blog to make us wicked smart!

One of my favorite poems is For The Want of a Nail.

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

 I connect that thought to the court system. The 2017 statistics are not out yet but; in 2016, the Virginia Supreme Court issued opinions on 15 injury case appeals. This included death cases and malpractice verdicts.

In those 15 cases, the injured party only won twice. In the sports world, that is a 2-13 record. That is part of a continuing trend in Virginia. Over the last several years, the defense is winning at the appellate level of the Virginia Supreme Court by historic margins.

What do these statistics mean? Stay with me on my stream of consciousness.

Following Tuesday’s election, democrats were celebrating the victory of a an elected Democrat in Alabama. In Congress, it means that Republicans hold a slim 51-49 Senatorial advantage. It makes it difficult to push legislation through unless everyone votes along party lines. Similar to getting judges approved.

There is a similarity in Virginia. Selection of Virginia state court judges occurs through legislative election. Virginia is one of only two states that use this method in choosing judges. The other state is South Carolina.

It’s why  there are court challenges regarding this past November’s elections to determine whether Republicans or Democrats will control the Virginia House of Delegates. Right now, the difference stands at a Republican majority of 51-49, with a possibility of that still flipping.

That impacts laws. That impacts appointments. Which means… that could impact how a Supreme Court justice might apply laws during appeals. That’s not to say that any of the above opinions would have changed. But, in the federal system, it’s not unusual to see a ruling by a 5-4 decision.

Elections can impact judicial appointments. Appointments could potentially impact appellate decisions. It’s why every vote does count. It’s the little things.

And I decided to close with a pic o’ day that is not holiday related. But is is a blog tip…or something!

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Let’s Talk Holiday

I wanted to start the blog out with wishing you a Merry Christmas, since I feel that advertisers have been doing that since September. When is it fashionable to begin wishing friends a Happy Easter. I say sometime around December 10.

First, a word on shopping, because it feels like a shopping craze is all around me. And as a side note, how did all these stores get my email? Seriously, I cannot read my emails because I have too many shopping emails. What happened?

Anyway, In keeping with my apparent complaining about being bombarded with shopping news, here is some news that I wouldn’t even know how to comment on, if I even did. I guess this qualifies as shopping news?

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To make the blog worthwhile, here is an article from USA Today titled 5 security mistakes you’re probably making. I  am posting it as an attachment because I know you will read it… if you have the time.

And by the way… I want to wish you a Merry Christmas. (Yes, I am getting carried away)

And for pic o’ day, now we are getting down to business on the shopping. Right?

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Water Salesmanship?

On Netflix, there is a series titled Scam City, where the host travels to some of the world’s most popular destinations, to expose scams being pulled on tourists. (more on the series here)

The host manages to work up the “ladder” in each of the countries to talk to various individuals, and find out why they are pulling these scams. It’s interesting to hear their explanations.

In Buenos Aires, counterfeit money is a real problem which includes many of the taxi drivers giving fake money as change to the tourists. The reason that everyone gives as to why it’s ok to hand out fake money is described as “not a scam, it’s a contradiction”.

When the host travels to Las Vegas, he sees the various “VIP scams” where individuals sell worthless VIP cards to get into dance clubs. Then, he interviews a card shark to learn tricks of card playing. The card shark describes his scamming as not really cheating. Instead he is actually just a card mechanic. The scamming is not really stealing, it’s just being crafty.

I saw an analogy in this series when I recently saw the lawsuit that was filed against Poland Springs in this article from BDN Maine titled Lawsuit claims Poland Spring a ‘colossal fraud,’ selling groundwater.

A pile of Poland Spring water bottles.
Pile of Poland Spring

According to the article, a group of bottled water drinkers has brought a class action lawsuit against Poland Spring, alleging that the Maine business has long deceived consumers by mislabeling common groundwater. The lawsuit was filed in a Connecticut Federal Court and claims that Nestle Waters North America Inc. has committed a “colossal fraud perpetrated against American consumers.”

The lawsuit claims that the company is simply selling groundwater which cannot be called spring water and that its purification methods disqualify the water as meeting federal regulations as a spring water.

The company spokesman has responded that “the claims are without merit” and that “Poland Spring is 100% spring water”. The article is filled with allegations that payoffs have been basically made, which caused the Maine Drinking Water Program to approve many of the water permits to the company. The lawsuit claims that “not one drop” of Poland Spring bottled water is from a spring.

This always begs the questions, “Is bottled water safer than tap water?” and “Is tap water safe?”. To answer that question, I am attaching an article from bluelivingideas.com that is titled 21 Facts About Bottled Water, The Environment, & Human Health.

A quick summary of the article deals with the harms of all the plastic of bottled water. It goes on to recite that some brands are basically bottling tap water. And, we know that some tap water is safe and some is not. Which means that some bottled waters are safe… and some are not. Of course, none of the bottled water companies market their product as simply fresh tap water, because no one would buy it.

So what is the best bottled water to buy? Well, I am attaching one survey from bestreview.guides (here) that lists Fiji Spring water as #1. Curiously, Poland Spring Brand is #9.

This article (here) from reviews.com lists Resource Spring Water as #1 and Fiji Spring Water as #2.

I guess we should be reminded that the brand of Evian is really naive spelled backwards. Right? What are they saying to us?

I still don’t feel safe drinking out of the tap. I miss those days on the farm when it all felt safe and real!

And for pic o’ day, the totality of this just makes me laugh! Is the dog left-handed? Just wondering.

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Coffee Memories and Successful Failures

I remember sitting at the bench, at the kitchen table. Farm houses have benches. Hence bench and kitchen table.

My grandfather would pour his coffee into his saucer to let it cool. Then, he would pour it back into his cup and drink it. It made me want to drink coffee. Do 3-year-olds usually have an interest in coffee?

I so remember that whole routine  To me, such good memories. Just the simplicity of sitting there, watching my grandfather cooling off his coffee. And then we would head off to the farm.

Don’t we just want real!

I guess that’s why I am so humored with a museum that celebrates products that have flopped. Sweden’s Museum of Failure. It just seems real! (More Right here) Life isn’t always about  amazing accomplishment. Sometimes, it’s also about the laugher in failure, and what’s next. Taking failure and turning into success. They are celebrating real.  Although, maybe not as a inventive as a saucer coffee-cooler.

If you read the article, you will see that Donald Trump makes an appearance in a board game that’s called “I’m Back and You’re Fired”. He seems to have done okay after that board game failure.

The successful Google can now admit that their high-tech glasses were not a success. Maybe too early for it’s time? But it hasn’t stopped them. They just keep moving onward.

Segway, with it’s travel for one, seemed liked a sure success. Then, it’s inventor went over a cliff on a Segway. That’s not a good selling feature.

The museum does offer its ray of hope. There is an Apple Newton. (I can’t even remember the Newton. Can you?). The Apple Newton was the precursor to iPhones and iPads, and Apple seems to have done fine with those.

And that’s the definition of real. Failure recognition. For me… I love coffee. And every time I drink a cup, I remember my grandfather pouring into his saucer. Good memories

It’s going to be a great Monday!!!

And for our pic o’ day,  A laziness invention?

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The Hidden Persuasion of Why

I saw a sign the other day that said, “I’m Busy. You’re Ugly. Have A Nice Day!” It’s crazy. But if I think about that, it irritates me. And the person that posted it probably thought it was funny, or they didn’t think at all. I guess I just shouldn’t wonder why someone would post that sign.

Is there a hidden meaning. What something is. What something means.

While in college, I attended a weekend political management school. Political consultant Morton Blackwell had founded The Leadership Institute to help prepare students in politics, government and the news media. (info here)  I thought that the seminar was amazing.

He taught us how to create excitement with flashing cameras; never give a bureaucrat a chance to say no. For instance, it was recommended to just set up brochure tables and hand out campaign material rather than waiting for campus zoning permits. Or, schedule organizational meetings, instead of waiting to be a recognized college campus official group. (it’s better to ask for forgiveness rather than ask for permission). Just getting things done!

In the realm of persuasion,  don’t let a candidate have a picture taken with an alcoholic drink in their hand. Make sure that you always wear your name tag on your right lapel, so people can easily shake your hand and look directly at your name tag.

Little items of persuasion that make a difference in a political campaign. It could have also been called “How To Persuade With More Than The Spoken Word”. I guess that’s why they say that a picture is worth a thousand words! 

As I got older, I found persuasion in the practice of law. About ten years ago, we were involved in the representation of clients with claims against pharmaceutical giant Merck,  relating to their manufactured drug, Vioxx. It was determined that Vioxx, an anti-inflammatory non-steroidal drug, was causing heart attacks and strokes and Merck knew it.

Ultimately, Merck was fined or sanctioned over 950 million dollars for conduct relating to pushing the drug for off-label use and other illegal marketing. (CNN) One Merck sales rep admitted to CBS (article here) that “I knew damn well it was dangerous”. Still, even after knowing the overwhelming evidence of the dangers of Vioxx, the company continued to push sales, and millions of prescriptions were still written.

The company created a high pressure sales training program to continue to sell the drug. It was ultimately revealed during litigation that the company told their 3000 sales people that they were prohibited from telling doctors about the studies that showed increased risks of strokes and heart attacks.

The sales people were specially trained in body language to create empathy with the doctor. They were taught persuasion techniques that included how to shake the doctors’ hands, how to use verbal and non-verbal cues to subconsciously raise their level of trust. All this training was heightened to help push Vioxx, while the company must have known that ultimately the medication would be pulled from the market.

Ultimately, the sales techniques came to an end. Merck entered into a global settlement of 4.85 billion dollars to settle over 27,000 claims nationwide. It was one of the largest civil settlements ever. (ABC News)   

When I see that the new healthcare bill being pushed through Congress, I often think about the various pressures that are being persuasively applied to these legislators. Why are some legislators trying to include provisions in a healthcare bill that would give immunity to pharmaceutical companies. Hidden persuasions that disguised in healthcare.

 

And for our pic o’ day…

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What Do Those Signs Mean?

When I saw this picture, I knew I had to start the blog with it. I think I live by this mantra!

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We signed up a new client yesterday, who was hit by a truck while leaving a grocery store parking lot. The grocery store has signs hanging on several of their poles that say, “These premises are under closed circuit camera surveillance for your protection“.

Immediately, our investigator walked into the store to ask about the surveillance video, to help us prove our case. The manager just smiled and then admitted that they really didn’t have any cameras, just the signs. I guess it’s a bit like having a “Beware of Dog” sign… without owning a dog.

The “surveillance signs” seem like a good metaphor to lead into a quick discussion of some legislation being debated in Congress. H.R 1215 has been introduced by Representative Steve King (R-Iowa). It is known as the Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017. For the purposes of this blog, I won’t get into an entire discussion of  the pros and cons of Obamacare or providing health care for the entire country. That would put us into a blog of sleepy time. Instead, I am just going to mention a few highlights of this bill.

The title of the bill relates to health care, but amendments also include (H.R. 382) which indicates the bills intent to “provide improved medical care by reducing the excessive burden the liability system places on the health care delivery system”. That has a special meaning to insurance companies.

Here’s some items this “health care” bill includes: SKIP THE NEXT PARAGRAPH IF YOU DON’T FEEL LIKE DETAILS AND JUMP DOWN ONE PARAGRAPH TO THE REAL BLOG THOUGHT!

(Or just meander through)

A. A federal $250,000 non-economic damage cap on lawsuits to override state laws; B. elimination of naming doctors and drug companies in a single lawsuit that involves a claim relating to a prescription; C. establish a statute of limitations federally that restricts filing a lawsuit after 3 years, even if any state has a longer statute of limitation or even if the person injured did not know that they were hurt from something; a restriction of a percentage that a lawyer can charge for representing someone (although, there is no restriction on what can be charged by lawyers to defend the claims), D. and an elimination of joint liability for economic and non-economic damages in the same claim.

NOW HERE IS THE KICKER TO THIS BILL FOR OUR BLOG DISCUSSION!

This bill would require PLAINTIFF experts in any malpractice case to meet the following requirements: First, an expert would have to sign an affidavit 90 days prior to filing suit to outline the areas of malpractice by the defendant. Second, the expert must be in the same field of expertise as the defendant. And Third…. and the real amazing item to me: Any expert must be from the same state as the doctor who committed malpractice, or else must be in a contiguous state to the state where the malpractice has been supposedly committed.

Why am I focusing on the Third item, out of all the things I have mentioned? For instance, under this bill, a doctor at Duke, who might even be chairman of the department, cannot testify as an expert in a case in Pennsylvania.

Why do they do this? To restrict the ability to prove malpractice. If an insurance company can restrict experts that can be hired and restrict what lawyers can be paid, then they can restrict malpractice claims. They want to make it hard to hire an expert. And, they know how hard it is to get a doctor to testify against another doctor that they know, in the same state.

SOMEHOW, THIS GOES UNDER THE HEADING OF PROVIDING GOOD HEALTH CARE WITHOUT FEAR.

That’s why I say that those signs hanging in the parking lot are a good metaphor for such legislation.  I just wanted to give you something to think about. No wonder people want to drain the swamp!

And finally; yes I admit it, I do enjoy cake which causes me to post cake pictures:

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Just Some Electronic Communications History

This is a blog about David Sarnoff. (Wikipedia) I am guessing that you might not know the name, but his story includes a wide spectrum of accomplishment. I am only going to hit a few highlights, which is why I have attached his Wikipedia entry.

His resume included leading the electronics company of RCA as well as the TV broadcast company of NBC.  And, he was a Brigadier General in the reserves. It’s not his titles that I find interesting, it’s some of his accomplishments.

He was the first person to quantify television with Sarnoff’s law, which states that the value of a television broadcast network is based on its number of viewers. Seems simple…that if there are no viewers, the programming has no value.

At the age of 20, he installed and operated the wireless equipment on a ship to be used for fishing and hunting. He ultimately used that technology to relay the first remote medical diagnosis from the ship’s doctor to a radio operator on land. A diagnosis of an infected tooth.

His background included being responsible for many advancements for radio and television. It makes me ask “what if he hadn’t done this”. That’s why the following story from radio history grabs me.

On the night of April 14th, 1912, Sarnoff was at the desk of the wireless station at a Department store in New York. History tells us that the ocean liner Titanic struck an iceberg. Almost immediately, the ship began transmitting distress signals.

It was radio to the rescue. he began sending out news of the disaster and ultimately contacted the ship Carpathia,  It was the only ship nearby the Titanic that was equipped to receive the radio signals. It picked up survivors from the Titanic and then began to return to New York. Sarnoff used radio to compile the names of the surviving passengers and forward the good news to their families. He credited that event as bringing radio into the forefront.  Without radio, perhaps there would have been no survivors.

It is again another reminder that one person can make a difference.

 

And for pic o’ day, these are great days for a walk. Right?

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The Truth Giver

Squirrels cannot find 73% of all nuts that they hide. Apparently they have terrible memories. Do you believe me? (Here is the NY Times article on squirrels. I’m not sure how you ask squirrels these embarrassing questions.)

Dr. Mehmet Oz (Wikipedia) came to prominence because Oprah featured him on her show with health segments. He became so popular that Oprah “spun off” a Dr Oz show through her Harpo Productions.

Soon Dr. Oz began spouting the amazing health benefits of Green Coffee Extract for amazing weight loss, and Raspberry Ketone as “the number one miracle in a bottle to burn your fat”.

Soon these amazing weight loss claims were being called into question by the Federal Trade Commission, and Dr. Oz found himself testifying before a Senate hearing on weight loss scams where Senator Claire McCaskill confronted him with , “The scientific community is almost monolithic against you in terms of the efficacy of the three products you call miracles“.

The makes of Green Coffee Extract ultimately entered into a settlement with the FTC, for the false advertising of their products. They ultimately paid 3.5 million and agreed to stop making such weight loss claims.

Dr. Oz is a professor at the Department of Surgery at Columbia University.  He is listed as directing the Cardiovascular Institute and Complementary Medicine Program at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. He works in the areas of research in heart replacement surgery, minimally invasive cardiac surgery, and health care policy. When people watch his show, they believe that they are getting medical advice from a doctor.

Popular Science, Forbes and The New Yorker have all published critical well-researched articles regarding the unscientific claims that Dr. Oz had made about various health products.

The James Randi Educational Foundation has “awarded” Dr. Oz with three Pigasus awards. The award is “given” as a way to “expose parapsychological, paranormal or psychic frauds that Randi has noted over the previous year.”

The award consists of a silver flying pig and is based on the concept that claims are so doubtful regarding products that such things will only happen “when pigs fly”. Oz is the only person to have received this award on three separate occasions.

If you click on the above indicated Wikipedia page, you will see a long list of Oz criticisms regarding his health claims, but one final study is worth mentioning regarding his claims.

The British Medical Journal analyzed the effectiveness of Oz’s medical advice and were only able to find support for 46% of his recommendations. Conversely, the study showed that 39% had no supporting scientific evidence, while the remaining 15%  actually went directly against scientific evidence.

What is his response to those findings? “It’s called The Dr. Oz Show. We purposely have ‘Oz’ in the middle, and ‘Doctor’ is in the little bar for a reason. I want folks to realize that I am a doctor, but I am coming into their lives to be supportive of them. But it’s not a medical show“. Seriously?

I know I need to wrap this up, or else you will think I am being paid by the word. I just wanted to pose the question, “Do believe anything from Dr. Oz?”. I wouldn’t want him treating me, nor selling me some slick cure.

My law application for the blog is this: When I first started my practice, an old lawyer told me that in every jury trial, there is a truth-giver. The jury will look at both sides and decide to believe one of the two sides.  If you want to be successful for your clients, you need to be viewed as the Truth Giver!

Have a great Monday! It’s Our week!

And for pic o’day, here’s one to cool us down. Plus, a reminder to read the signs!!!

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Right Intention, Wrong Idea

Since they call it Hump Day, this pic o’ seemed liked a good start to the blog:

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And for today, I thought I would just mention a bad idea with good intentions.

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Because I like to stay positive in the blog, I will state positively that this was a bad idea! Even worse than a password of 12345.

I was reminded of this while watching the Masters this past weekend. At one point during the tournament, a ball rolled under the tree and I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to have a camera find your ball for you?”.

In 1950, B. F. Goodrich, the company known for its automobile tires, thought that it had come up with a great idea to help erratic golfers. Its engineers developed the prototype of an atomic golf ball. The ball, with a radioactive core, would be easy to locate with a Geiger counter. (Here’s a copy of the story from an old Popular Mechanics Magazine article)

As it turned out, this experimental ball was abandoned. I wonder why?

And for pic o’ day, a bit more golf:

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A Name With a Face

I stumbled on an article in Salon.com that tells the story of a man known as Context 958. I realize that his name sounds totally impersonal. It’s true, until you learn that his name is a reason to make it personal.

Context 958 lived in the 1200’s, which doesn’t even seem real when I type that, because it’s so long ago. Should we call him Context or Mr. 958?

Based on Scientific clues, an educated guess is that he was part of the poor, working class. Scientists tells us that he had periods of malnutrition. He broke a rib at one point, and survived a concussion. He suffered from gout and a mouthful of dental diseases. He died in a charity hospital and was ultimately buried face down in a pauper’s grave and forgotten. Until…

Sometime between 2010 and 2012, a team of researchers was excavating an area in Cambridge, England, and found his bones. It told the story of his physical condition.

The reality is that I wasn’t interested in the story. I even stopped reading, until I glanced down in the article. There, I saw these pictures:

 

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Scientists from the University of Cambridge had put together a 3D imaging of Context 958, based on clues from his bones. They had put a face with a name.

Now I was interested in their findings. I kept looking back at the pictures. I couldn’t help myself. I imagined all the details that the Scientists described. Why? Because Context 958 was now a person from the forensic investigation.

Lobbyists and politicians learned a long time ago that persuasion must include making it personal. Every year, when our president gives the state of the union address, they place specific people in the audience to recognize them in story, and then make a point with that story.

During the NCAA Basketball tournament, each team has a mascot. It’s marketing for their schools. And in the Finals tonight, we will see the North Carolina Tar Heel mascot named Rameses. Meanwhile, Gonzaga’s mascot is Spike the Bulldog. And if you order some Little Caesar’s Pizza during the game, you might even think of the little toga-wearing character who would remind us of “Pizza! Pizza!”.

Communication specialists call it the art of personalized persuasion. People tune out when they are not connected.

In the world of jury trials, the same principle is in effect. If the case is about medical bills and medical terms… not so good. Getting involved with the reality of the injury is the means of persuasion.

One final note on that. Long ago, I was introduced to the concept of “Day in the Life” videos. On serious injury cases, have the client’s day shown to the jury. To show the difficulties clients face including just getting ready or just living day-to-day because of injury.  It is much more persuasive than just having someone describe difficulties.

“The mind is no match with the heart, in persuasion; constitutionality is no match with compassion”. Everett Dirksen.

Dirksen was a U.S. Senator who knew a great deal about persuasion. He was known as the Senator who break up deadlocked debate on some serious topic, by regularly introducing an amendment or legislation to name the Marigold the National Flower. It never passed, but it always lightened a tense atmosphere. Perhaps he would have been more successful if it had been the White Lily!

And for pic o’ day, here’s some “funnies” about love:IMG_1031

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