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I Love Being Random!

If you skim through the news, you realize that it is just random and usually not good news. Sometimes the stories are just good stories. Sometimes you just see things and say “that’s right” because it is.

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For this blog, I just thought that I would randomly throw some news at you. After last night’s State of the Union address… are you ready?

Speaking of State of the Union, were you humored with the misspellings of the invitations? (NY Times) “State of the Uniom.” That is classic! I remember when the Washington Nationals made a mistake on their shirts that said Washington Natinals. I still call them the Natinals!

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It just makes me laugh.

Here’s some news from the department of irony. From PilotOnline comes a story of a doughnut robber, who had previously won a police donut-eating contest. If he had only stolen the donuts!

And finally, I find this story to be a head-shaker. The Professor and the Madman! Have you ever thought about how the Oxford Dictionary was written? Probably not. But here is some background that might make you look at it differently.

Professor James Murray was the credited editor of the Oxford English Dictionary  Dr. William Chester Minor, an American surgeon who had served in the Civil War, was considered one of the most prolific contributors to the dictionary.

He sent thousands of unsolicited hand-written quotations from his home. But, they could not get him to come to the location where the Dictionary was being put together.

Finally, Professor Murray decided to meet him. It was then that Murray would finally learn the truth about Minor. Not only was Minor an amazing wordsmith… he was also an insane murderer who was locked up in Broadmoor.

At that time, Broadmoor was considered as England’s harshest asylum for criminals and dangerous lunatics.  As it was later described… The Professor and the Madman is the unforgettable story of criminal madness and genius that contributed to one of the greatest literary achievements. The Oxford English Dictionary. And as Paul Harvey would say… Now you know the rest of the story!

And finally for our pic o’ day… this one is a thought-provoker!

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Law of Heil Hitler

When you think of pictures of Hitler, your mind probably goes to one that shows him saluting, like the picture below. It’s a picture of Hitler returning the Nazi Salute. Literally this was known as a gesture of the Hitler Salute, which was used as a greeting in Nazi Germany. Heil Hitler became a greeting with the extended right arm or left arm, if disability kept someone from raising their right arm. The salute was also accompanied with the expression Heil, mein Führer. (Hail my leader

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This picture below of this crowd in Germany is an attention-grabber from that Hitler era. It shows more than just a man in the crowd. As you can see, the circled man is the only person in the picture not gesturing the Hitler Salute.  As of 1926, the Heil Hitler salute was made compulsory. It served as a display of commitment to the Nazi Party.

 

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     Depending on the date of this photograph, the man could be facing punishment for not saluting. Compulsory saluting moved to a decree of the law, by the Minister of the Interior. As of July 13, 1933, all German public employees were required to use the salute. By the end of 1934, special courts were established to punish all citizens who refused to salute. Your failure to salute was considered rebellion against the Nazi government.

The progression of the salute as a matter of law, shows what happens when a government can continually seize the rights of its citizens. Soon, laws can have no bearing on effective governing. They simply are enacted to control.

The ending to the salute came with the defeat of Hitler and Nazi Germany. Currently, this salute is considered a criminal offense in Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Austria. In Switzerland and Sweden, the salute is illegal and has been classified as illegal hate speech.

When I saw that historical photo of the one man, it made me think?   Even put on my thinking cat.  Yes, a crazy, scary law to test loyalty.

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And now, for pic o’ day. How about some more costumes? (Can’t bring myself to mention the Colts game last night)

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The Egg Shell Head

It’s been called “the pain of being a redhead”.  According to research studies (Here), people with red hair need larger doses of anesthesia during medical procedures. In addition, there’s evidence that redheads are resistant to the localized pain blocker Novocain. An extension to that finding is the statistic that redheads are twice as likely to avoid going to the dentist… as other hair colors.

I know that the following scientific reasoning for hair color is a bit mind-numbing. Have you ever heard someone say that it was like looking into the eyes of Medusa and that they just couldn’t look away? Well, this is just the opposite. So, to skip boring gene stuff, skip the next paragraph.

If you decided not to skip…. the reason for hair color having bearing on response to anesthesia is based on our genes. People with brown, black and blond hair have the gene for the melanocortin-1 receptor that produces melanin. Conversely, the MC1R gene causes the production of a substance called pheomelanin which causes red hair and fair skin.

I read that “gene stuff” in several articles and wrote it down for the blog. All I know is, that it has nothing to do with Wrangler or Levi. But, the gene composition has to do with how we react to anesthetics. Which leads us to the concept of taking a person as you find them in the consideration of injuries caused by someone’s fault.

In car crash cases, the jury receives instruction on the law from the judge. In cases where a person had some prior problems, physical conditions, or a accident. It’s not unusual that there was evidence of preexisting conditions. So, the judge will read the following instruction to the jury:

If you find that the plaintiff had a condition before the collision that was aggravated as a result of the collision or that the pre-existing condition made the injury he received in the collision more severe or more difficult to treat, then if you find your verdict for the plaintiff, he may recover for the aggravation and for the increased severity or difficulty of treatment, but he is not entitled to recover for the pre-existing condition

This jury instruction is sometimes called the “Egg Shell Head” instruction. Much like Humpty-Dumpty who sat on the wall. If someone pushed him off the wall, they cannot then argue that they are not be responsible for Humpty’s injuries after  “all the kings horses and all the kings men, couldn’t put Humpty together again”.IMG_0308

In a civil lawsuit for damages from a car crash, a defendant takes a person as they find them. We are all different, just as we all have different pain thresholds. A person must be responsible for whatever they cause, and cannot argue some weakness of the injured person as a defense. They are only responsible for what they cause or aggravate.

An aggravation of a preexisting injury or condition is really what happens in many cases as the client gets older and has dealt with the realities of life.

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The Impact of Mr Coffee

I admit it. I must have my coffee in the morning. In fact, we have several pots brewing at the firm every morning. That’s why a recent obituary in the New York Times especially caught my attention.

It was in article form titled Vincent Marotta Sr., a Creator of Mr. Coffee, Dies at 91 – The New York Times.

Where do we get some of our best ideas? They say that necessity is the mother of invention. In fact, my morning coffee is more of a product of someone finding a better way.

Mr. Marotta was a real estate developer who was tired of the old household percolator coffee-maker. That, and he did not like his wife’s coffee. So, he decided it was time to do something.

He invented the first automatic drip coffee maker. Then, he named it Mr. Coffee and teamed with baseball great Joe DiMaggio.  DiMaggio was known as the Yankee Clipper but he began doing TV ads for this new coffee maker. Soon, Forbes reported that Mr. Coffee was responsible for 150 million dollars in annual sales and DiMaggio was more known as a coffee appliance salesman.

The percolator operated on the premise of circulating hot water through the coffee multiple times, until the coffee was ready. Unfortunately, many times it produced a bitter cup of coffee. Now, it has been replaced by the automatic drip coffee maker that comes in many brands.

Today, we can look at our morning coffee and be thankful that Marotta knew that there was a better way. A good reminder that we should always be looking for a better way.

The caveat to the marketing story is that Joe DiMaggio rarely drank coffee because of stomach problems. Instead, he would make an instant cup of coffee. A far cry from that good Mr. Coffee cup of coffee.

And a cartoon for our pic o’ day.

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A Curse Word Amendment

This is a blog about curse words… or it could also be called “Times have sure changed!’.

In 1897, the state of Maine enacted a statute that banned boxing from being shown in films. Then, in 1915, the U.S. Supreme Court decided a case that held that there could be censorship in films because they were considered commerce and not art; which meant that there were no free speech first amendment protection.

Wikipedia provides an interesting listing of the various content that was disallowed in early films. (here) Such censorship ranged from language and subject matter, to content that still would not be allowed today.

The Motion Picture Production Code was drawn up by a Republican lawyer/former Postmaster General by the name of Will H. Hays. He prepared guidelines for filmmakers to assist in what would become standards of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America. It was known as the Hays Code, which was enforced under the Hays Office or Board.

That brings me to the infamous  movie Gone With The Wind. Prior to that movie, curse words were not allowed.

On November 1, 1939, an amendment was passed that would effect the dialogue of that movie.  The amendment still recognized that using the words “hell” or “damn” were still not allowed unless their use “shall be essential and required for portrayal, in proper historical context, of any scene or dialogue based upon historical fact or folklore … or a quotation from a literary work, provided that no such use shall be permitted which is intrinsically objectionable or offends good taste.”

With that amendment, Scarlett O’Hara tearfully asked Rhett Butler (Clark Gable), “Where shall I go? What shall I do?”. With that, a nation was shocked when Butler uttered his last words to her, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn“. In 2005, that quotation was voted as the number one movie line of all time by the American Film Festival.

My how times have changed. I hope you have a great weekend!

And for our pic o’ day:

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Some Friday President History

From Yahoo comes some history on the only President who served two terms that were not consecutively served. Do you feel like you should now hear, “I’ll take political trivia for $200 Alex.”?

I admit that I have been busy with casework and… some March Madness tournament watching. So, I thought I would post this article on……… (I was hoping that you would now hear the Jeopardy theme in your head) President Grover Cleveland.

The article is titled 10 fascinating facts about Grover Cleveland, the only double President.

1. Cleveland’s real first name was Stephen, not Grover. He used the name Grover as an adult; maybe he tired of using the name “Stephen Cleveland” in grade school?

2. Yes, he’s a distant relative of the guy they named the city after. But Grover didn’t grow up in Ohio. He was born in New Jersey and later moved to New York state.

3. Cleveland was a big guy. He wasn’t called Big Steve, as one of his political nicknames, for nothing. At 250 pounds, he was the second-heaviest President after William Howard Taft. Fitness Magazine named him as the least-healthiest President, because of his penchant for beer drinking and cigar smoking.

4. His first career was as a teacher. Cleveland was a teacher at the New York Institute for the Blind in Manhattan before deciding to pursue a law career.

5.  Cleveland ran for office in Buffalo and New York state as a reformer. He gained quite a reputation as a fresh-faced politician who fought corruption and patronage. In 1881, he came Buffalo’s mayor and in 1882 he came New York’s governor.

6. What’s the deal with the child scandal? Republicans accused him of fathering an illegitimate child in 1874. Cleveland admitted it was possible, but his law partner, Oscar Folsom, may have also been the father. Cleveland’s honesty helped to blunt the scandal’s impact.

7. Cleveland won the first presidential election by the narrowest of margins. It was a win by just 1,200 votes in his adopted home state of New York that swung the 1884 election.

8. Cleveland actually won his second election in the popular vote. Big spending by the Republicans swing the electoral vote in New York state away from Cleveland, and Benjamin Harrison took the Electoral College vote, and the presidency.

9. A third party helped Cleveland get his second term. The Populist Party took 8 percent of the popular vote, and Cleveland easily defeated Harrison in the 1892 rematch, by a 277-145 margin in the Electoral College.

10. Cleveland gets mixed grades as a President. Historians rank Cleveland as an average President at best, in the same category as Chester Alan Arthur and Benjamin Harrison. Cleveland gets credit for restoring the power of the presidency in the 1880s, but Cleveland’s misunderstandings about political systems and an economic depression in 1893 saw Cleveland’s Democrats lose power quickly and his political career end.

     See, even though I wasn’t real original in my blogging today by posting this listing from Yahoo, it fits a little within legal blogging because it’s political history and trivia. And on a Friday, trivia is a good thing!!! Of course, some of those seem a bit nonsensical.

I hope you have a great weekend!

And for pic o’ day…. too much:

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The Universal Emergency Number

I have to admit that I really have not thought much about how 911 became the emergency number. Yet, I know how important it is. As a side note, I  have had parents tell me that they tried to teach their young child about the number by asking them who to call in an emergency. Many smile and say that their child has replied, “Call Joel Bieber”.

That’s a good answer too! Still, we all learn at a young age when and why to call 911. Now I know the story of 911. Rather than trying to act creative in writing about it, let me post a portion of an article from Howstuffworks.com. It’s how the number began:

Prior to 1968, there was no standard emergency number. So how did 911 become one of the most recognizable numbers in the United States? Choosing 911 as the universal emergency number was not an arbitrary selection, but it wasn’t a difficult one either. In 1967, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) met with AT&T to establish such an emergency number. They wanted a number that was short and easy to remember. More importantly, they needed a unique number, and since 911 had never been designated for an office code, area code or service code, that was the number they chose.

Soon after, the U.S. Congress agreed to support 911 as the emergency number standard for the nation and passed legislation making 911 the exclusive number for any emergency calling service. A central office was set up by the Bell System to develop the infrastructure for the system.

On February 16, 1968, Alabama Senator Rankin Fite made the first 911 call in the United States in Haleyville, Alabama. The Alabama Telephone Company carried the call. A week later, Nome, Alaska, implemented a 911 system. In 1973, the White House’s Office of Telecommunication issued a national statement supporting the use of 911 and pushed for the establishment of a Federal Information Center to assist government agencies in implementing the system.

After its initial acceptance in the late 1960s, 911 systems quickly spread across the country. By 1979, about 26 percent of the United States population had 911 service, and nine states had passed legislation for a statewide 911 system. Through the latter part of the 1970s, 911 service grew at a rate of 70 new local systems per year, according to the NENA. Approximately 50 percent of the U.S. population had 911 service by 1987. In 1999, about 93 percent of the U.S. population was covered by 911 service.

I guess if Paul Harvey was still alive and reading this story, he would finish the blog in voice with… And now you know the rest of the story.

And for pic o’ day I am attaching two in the “education genre”;

 

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Working Difficulties

Delays in workers’ comp system hold up treatments is the title of an article in Pilot Online. It tells the story of the difficulty that workers face in getting medical treatment and benefits, when they are hurt on the job. As a practice, we see these issues that these workers face, while handling their worker’s compensation claims.

The next time that you hear a politician brag about things that they have done to make Virginia so good for business, perhaps you will remember this article. It gives some explanation for what makes Virginia so favorable for the employer.

DID YOU KNOW that in the movie The Wizard of Oz, Toto the dog (real name in life was Terry) had a weekly salary of $125 while the main star, Judy Garland’s weekly salary during the movie was $500? Now here’s the kicker: the human actors who played the Munchkins were reportedly only paid between $50-$100 per week.

 

In a bit of a nod toward all those who went back to school recently, here’s pic o’

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The Power of Coffee

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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Case Investigation Puzzle

The  Friday/weekend blog usually takes us to the week’s collection of stuff. I went to the cupboard of accumulated news and ended up elsewhere.

This week I could have written about Governor “Rolex Bob” McDonnell or Tan Mom’s Rehab. Of course, those seemed even more confusing than the Puppy-brother” commercial.  Yes, it is quite the cupboard of stuff.

I did find the “Droopy Pants Robber” as almost blog-worthy. But, how many lines can you write about someone who gets caught because of flashy underwear.

The Queen is getting a raise. (CNN) Her salary increase will be about 5.2%, which means that she will earn the equivalent of about 60 million U.S. dollars. Now that is certainly blog-worthy. Still, that’s all there is to the story and you know by now, I just enjoy the journey of writing!

No, I thought I would finish the blog with a story from inside the office this week. You be the judge.

Briefly on the facts. The prospective client initially called and said that he had been hit by a car, while standing in the middle of the road.  The fact pattern was a bit unclear in the description; so we secured the accident report to see what the police officer had reported.

On the accident report, the officer did not find anyone at fault. He issued no tickets.  He did note that the car had clipped the pedestrian (our prospective client) while the pedestrian was walking and talking on his cell phone.

I don’t think that I need to “toot my own horn” to suggest that something was not adding up.

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(OK, it’s true, I was trying to figure out a way to sneak this picture in the blog!)

We decided to look for the witnesses. We found some, who said that our client was in the middle turning lane. It’s that lane on some roads where cars traveling from either direction can turn left or right.

No one had seen our client on a cell phone and there was no indication that, upon impact, a cell phone landed anywhere in the road. Isn’t that what you would expect?

We are ordering copies of his phone records to further clarify the “cell phone issue”  and compare calls to the time of the accident.

Sometimes, you just have to raise your hand and ask for help!

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Now the strange part. The witnesses that were interviewed claimed that they saw the man get hit when the car swerved in and out of his lane. They rushed to help him. They are black, just like the pedestrian. According to them, the police officer initially came up to them with his gun drawn, as he approached the group surrounding the man on the ground.

The driver  of the car is white. We have been unable to speak to him.

Right now, it is still unclear as to the exact place of where the car hit him. It is uncontradicted that the pedestrian was hit by the car mirror. To date, we have not spoken to the officer, but hope to.

What is certain is that the pedestrian is hurt. We are now representing him. It’s why you have to invest in investigation. Somewhere, the truth can be found.

And for pic o’ day, someone else taking a good look!

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