Sunday, June 01, 2008

Just so you know I haven't lost my sense of humor regarding human stupidity

Is it ok to feed my 17ft female reticulated python a medium sized cow every year?

Saturday, May 31, 2008

And lawyers wonder why people hate them

Fox News worker sues over bedbugs in office

Fri May 30, 2008 1:37pm EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Fox News employee who says she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after being bitten by bedbugs at work filed a lawsuit on Thursday against the owner of the Manhattan office tower where she worked.

Jane Clark, 37, a 12-year veteran of Fox News, a unit of News Corp, said she complained to human resources after being bitten three times between October 2007 and April 2008. She said she was ridiculed and the office was not treated for months.

Beacon Capital Partners, which owns the tower in midtown Manhattan, said in a statement that it had not been made aware of the problem and that it was the responsibility of tenants to manage infestations.

"As a prudent step, we are bringing in outside, independent experts to review the situation," the statement said.

The suit did not say how much Clark was seeking in damages.

Clark, who says she's been diagnosed with PTSD and can no longer work, has filed a separate workers compensation claim with News Corp, and the company is paying her medical bills and lost wages. A News Corp spokeswoman declined to comment because News Corp was not named in the lawsuit.

"They made a lot of mistakes," Clark said through tears at a news conference at the office of her lawyer, Alan Schnurman, who said he has brought numerous bedbug cases. [*SMC note: I found news links to these : March 2006, and September 2007. Hardly seems "numerous", but w'ever.]

"I didn't want my baby to get bitten. I was terrified of bringing it home," Clark said.

She said she believed a colleague who used her workstation on weekends, and who no longer works for Fox News, brought the infestation to the office. Clark's home was never infested.

Clark says she suffers nightmares and keeps a flashlight at her bedside so she can check for bugs during the night.

"It's their obligation to the working public to provide a safe environment," Schnurman said.

(Reporting by Edith Honan; editing by Mohammad Zargham)
As an attorney, as a New Yorker, as a believer in victim's rights, and as a human being, I am incensed. I personally find this to be a ridiculous, horrific and abusive mockery of both our legal and medical systems,
but mainly it is a wound salting to people who REALLY suffer PTSD.


PTSD is suffered by war veterans, victims of adult and childhood sexual, mental and physical abuse, victims of war, and victims and witnesses of shocking, horrifying, catastrophic events like the WTC bombings. Children living in war-ravaged countries, yes. Employees subject to constant mental, racial, and sexual harassment, yes. Soldiers who cradled their dying comrades in their arms, yes. Women (and men, to be fair) who cower in fear when someone raises their voice in anger because they expect it to be followed by a violent mental and/or physical assault, yes.

A middle-aged professional white woman living in New York City (or a nearby suburb) who has had a decade of success within the same company that DOESN'T block her claim for Worker's Comp AND pays her lost wages AS WELL AS her medical expenses, who claims nightmare-inducing psychological damage from three bed bug bites between October 2007 and April 2008? No.





(in case you haven't yet figured out how I feel about this)


If the suit was for failing to provide a safe, healthy employment environment, I'd say okay.

If the suit was for panic/anxiety attacks due to the onset of

Entomophobia (let me first acknowledge that I am not a medical professional, nor am I a trained psychologist, but I do know how to read, research, question and interpret medical opinions and terminology -- that being said, it is my redoubtable opinion that Jane Clark meets the DSM-IV requirements to even be classified as having Entomophobia since it is highly unlikely that if she did that she would go looking for them - especially in the middle of the sounds more like a mild, generalized anxiety of bed bugs -- similar to many people's anxiety at seeing a spider or a roach), I'd say okay.

If the suit was for psychological trauma due to being the subject of constant ridicule as "the bed bug lady", I'd say okay (it is mentioned in the story that she "was ridiculed"...but that's all it says, and there is no apparent claim of this being tied to her PTSD), I'd be a little skeptical because the likelihood of anyone knowing about her issue unless she told them seems sketchy, but at least I could buy the argument.

If the suit was even for punitive damages due to the company's HR department failing to do any follow-through and escalation of her complaints, I'd say okay.

But THIS???

I'm no expert on bed bugs, but it seems to me that if she could last seven months in what she considered an infected/infested environment and was concerned that she would bring home the little monsters to her child, she would have done what any NORMAL person (i.e., someone who could last seven months in an environment they considered infected/infested with bugs) would have done...(1) attempted to express to the cleaning crew her desire that the area around her desk be extra diligently cleaned and vacuumed, (2) gotten the entire office in an uproar over the situation, (3) threatened to go to a competing network with the story, and/or (4) confronted the weekend colleague and politely suggest that he have himself and his home treated. Odd though it may sound, It is entirely possible that despite all the news coverage in recent years of a resurgence in bed bugs in urban centers (especially NYC), said co-worker simply was unaware that not all the tiny little critters feeding on his body were supposed to be there.

Again, I'm no expert, but I find it iinteresting that it doesn't appear that anyone else was affected. Seems to me that over the course of seven months, these prolific little nasties would have expanded their feeding and breeding range to encompass the space at least ONE other co-worker (especially if there were enough of them that they started hanging out on Jane's clothes). At the very least, there should have been one person sufficiently subject to the power of suggestion that he or she would have developed a little paranoia at each itch or odd skin eruption. And you CERTAINLY would think at least one person who would have hopped on the lucrative bandwagon of this get-out-of-work-free-and-paid lawsuit if they thought they could pull it off or was sufficiently frightened of this potential threat. With no back-up support, Jane should have brought in her lawyer quietly and privately and negotiated an appropriate settlement agreement. If she thinks she was subject to ridicule in her own office, I hope she realizes how much ridicule she has subjected herself to as a result of splashing this all over the news.

But the heart, and bottom line, of this matter is the disgusting and reprehensible behavior of claiming PTSD as a result of three bug bites.
Jane Clark should be ashamed of herself. Her attorney, Alan Schnurman, and whatever "medical professional" diagnosed her should both be hauled before their respective professional associations and disciplined. And every group dealing with the real effects of people afflicted with this terrifying trauma, as well as every individual who actually has suffered or does suffer from it, should join in a class action suit suing each and every one of them for fraud, abuse of the legal system, abuse of the public trust, misrepresentation and Crimes Against Humanity. At the very least, several representatives from the community should hold a press conference and denounce this parody of "concern" and "justice".

I intend to keep a close eye on the progression of this case (NY Supreme Court Index No: 107455-2008) and these people, and I can assure you that any updates I get will quickly get reported here. I really hope that this case is thrown out on its face and that sanctions are imposed as quickly as possible, otherwise I will seriously have to consider throwing my law degrees out the window.

Monday, March 17, 2008

It's about time!!!

State passes droopy pants law

TALLAHASSEE, Florida (Reuters) - The Florida Senate wants public school students to pull up their pants. Lawmakers passed a bill Thursday that could mean suspensions for students with droopy britches. [Tee hee! "Britches"! Who says that anymore???]

It won't become law unless the House of Representatives passes a companion measure.

Florida could join several southern U.S. towns and cities that have passed "saggy pants" laws aimed at outlawing what some teenagers consider a fashion statement -- wearing pants half way down their buttocks, exposing flesh or underwear. [How ANYONE thinks this is "cute", "sexy", "hip", "phat", "fly", "real" or any other generational catch-word for "cool" is beyond me. people really believe this is a good look or is this "but all my friends are doing it" on a megawatt scale???]

Supporters say schools sometimes don't properly police dress codes and parents are often "under aware" of what their kids are wearing to school. ["Under aware" - I get it. Why that's...almost...punny.]

Critics say the measure is unnecessary, arguing that appearance and dress codes should be the responsibility of school districts and parents. [Obviously it is necessary, since school districts and parents don't seem to be doing a very good job.]

Despite being the butt of jokes [...oy...], the bill's sponsor, Orlando Sen. Gary Siplin, a Democrat, has said the fashion statement has a back-story [...vey...]-- it was made popular by rap artists after first appearing among prison inmates as a signal they were looking for sex. [...yeesh...]

"All we're trying to do now is trying to inform folks that we have a fad now that does not have a very good origination," Siplin said. "We're trying to make an example in school," he added, saying it would help students get jobs and a degree. [Wait...WHAT??? Can I have that guarantee in writing? And better yet, can I translate that to mean if I start wearing baggy pants and then stop wearing them, I will get that job that has been eluding my efforts for the past year???]

The Florida city of Riviera Beach passed its own saggy pants law Tuesday, with a maximum penalty of 60 days in jail for repeat offenders. [Hmmm. Better hope that the urban legend of the baggy pants sex walk isn't true, gentlemen!]

(Reporting by Michael Peltier, editing by Jim Loney and Todd Eastham) [TWO guys edited this. TWO. Makes me wonder what it looked like before they got their hands on it. Also makes me wonder who left in those crappy attempts at puns and double entendres.]

Monday, February 25, 2008

Can I call 'em or can I call 'em?

Best Picture: No Country for Old Men (if I'd pinned myself down to a winner, this is the one I would have was really too high flown not to have garnered the title).

Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis (There will be Blood). Told you he owned that role.

Ordinarily, I would be far more pleased with myself about making correct picks of stuff, but honestly, it's frightening the lack of intelligence one really needs to have to get into the heads of HollywoodLanders.

But interestingly enough, JUNO won for Best Original Screenplay...I say interestingly because during the movie, Juno explains that she is not named for the town in Alaska, but rather after ZEUS' WIFE JUNO.

'kay, I was a liberal arts major. I was REQUIRED to know Greek mythology like my life depended upon it. Right after these words were uttered, I leaned over to Billie and whispered, "ummm...wasn't Hera Zeus' wife?" This was a completely rhetorical question as I already knew the answer. I knew that Juno was actually Hera's Roman counterpart. What I couldn't remember was the name of Zeus' Roman counterpart. Embarrassingly enough, turns out that it happens to be Jupiter. This is embarrassing because, although I'm not live-my-life-by-the-stars Girl, I do happen to be familiar with the fact that Jupiter is my ruling planet.

All that notwithstanding, I don't see how ANYONE could make such a stupid mistake - ESPECIALLY when it relates DIRECTLY to the MAIN CHARACTER! And to top it off, they go and award it Best Screenplay!!! Can you DO that if a major fact in the storyline is GROSSLY erroneous???

Apparently you can in HollywoodLand - it's all good in the hood.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

And the winner is...!

In my never-ending quest to rid my life of disinterest and boredom, and revel in the the shiny, new, untried and quirky, I hauled my friend, Billie, to a 12 hour movie marathon of the five nominees for 2008 Best Picture Oscar.

Yes. TWELVE hours. I said, I meant it, I did it.

So there.

And you know what? It's not something I would do every week or even every month, but there is something undeniably satisfying about sitting in a dark theater with a good friend, a bunch of strangers and free popcorn refills from 11 AM until 11 PM watching the flickering glow of light hitting celluloid.

Having thus survived this challenge, I feel uniquely qualified to comment intelligently and articulately on the chances I believe each film has of winning the Academy Award. Here goes:

MICHAEL CLAYTON: Wow. What a pleasant shock. I'd been expecting another "Erin Brocovich", which was why I didn't go to see it in the first place. Not even remotely close. And as a not-crazy-gaga-over-George-Clooney-fan, I gotta say, George is actually a good actor...and not looking too bad, either, I might add.

The story was fast moving, albeit slightly confusing at times (but to their credit, they tried to clear things up as quickly as possible), and held my interest from start to finish. As a lawyer, there were many scenes I had a rueful inside laugh at, but even those were understandable enough that the non-legal audience-goer could appreciate what was meant. The characters were all flawed, although there were clearly defined Morality Paths that put them more on the side of "right" and "wrong". I could go on, but there are four more movies to discuss. In my opinion, MICHAEL CLAYTON has a legitimate and justifiable reason for its nomination, but I do not believe it will win simply because of the overwhelming popularity of two of its competitors: THERE WILL BE BLOOD and NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. I certainly hope that Clooney at least got the nod for Best Actor, although I don't think he will win that for the same reasons.

THERE WILL BE BLOOD: Daniel Day-Lewis? Perfect 19th century oil prospector. I don't think anyone else could have been better for this role. He absolutely owned it. Wore it like a skin. No doubt about it. Another nod for Best Actor absolutely deserved here. The movie itself, on the other hand, was one of the most disjointed, confused, poorly written?/directed?/edited? things I've ever seen. It started in one place, then hit a point where it could go in three or four different directions, chose one, followed it for a while, then doubled back and went off on another tangent, hit another fork in the road, chose a direction (sort of), abandoned it, jumped onto a plane and tried to pick up the thread of the first storyline a day late and a dollar short. The ending was abrupt, convoluted, contrived and unsatisfying. It was almost as if someone looked at the entire mess, realized that it needed to be in theaters in 72-hours, and took "The Sopranos" method of ending to heart. "Dude, just end it. There is no clean way to tie this up and have it make sense. Tell people to just read the damn book and stop looking for answers from Hollywood!"

Because of the Emperor's New Clothes approach to media, THERE WILL BE BLOOD is a hot and heavy front runner for Best Picture. Not because it deserves to be, but because "if it's confusing, it's probably all metaphorical and everyone else is looking around and nodding, so they must all understand it and I don't want to be the stupid one, so I'm going to pretend I get it and talk about how brilliant it is!" Yeah. About that. Milk Chan doesn't do the Emperor's New Clothes thing. She is all about looking at some naked dude and saying, "Dude...did you know you're all like, naked, and stuff?" So Thumbs Up for Daniel Day, Thumbs Down for the flick, but no surprised look here if it takes home the gold.

ATONEMENT: I expected this movie to suck. I wasn't disappointed. The only reason it's even on the list if because it's a period piece, and people feel obliged to say that period pieces are automatically masterpieces. I think it has something to do with the swelling, epic music or something. Anyway, it sucked, but it got its obligatory nomination and that is all it will get. Cross this off your list of has-a-chances.

JUNO: Didn't think I would like this, either. I did. Cute movie, although Ellen Page looks looks and sounds like Jeanine Garafalo (at ages 14 and 43, respectively), instantly making her visually too young and spiritually too old to be the character she was playing. NOBODY outside of HollywoodLand is THAT cool when they're a geeky little off-beat freak in high school. Nobody. While it made for an amusing time, and held your interest from start to finish, it relied on far more than "just a little" suspension of disbelief. I really don't know why it made the list other than they needed a quirky indie film to show how cool the nominating committee is and how they are totally not slaves to the big studios. (We'll ignore the fact that the big studios all back these indie productions these days.) Put this on the ATONEMENT list. No way will it win.

and, finally, we come to NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. This was less convoluted than BLOOD, but not terribly less so. Again, hyper-metaphorical. Again, a whole lot of "but, wait a minute...who are these guys? And who left all the heroin there? And where did those guys come from? And what happened to the black dog in the desert? And WTF???!!!" Interesting? Yes. Confusing? Yes. Allegorical? Definitely. Contender? Absolutely. Justifiably?

It is my considered opinion (and I want to get this in quick before the choices are actually made) that either BLOOD or OLD MEN will win, but I would really like to see CLAYTON win simply because it was what a good movie should be...a plot, realistic characters who are neither totally good or totally bad, motivation, conflict, action, reaction, climax, resolution. Bon chance, George!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I'VE HAD A SUPER GLUE ACCIDENT! everyone remain calm...

Fly naked on nudist holiday flight
Tue Jan 29, 2008 9:52am EST

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German nudists will be able to start their holidays early by stripping off on the plane if they take up a new offer from an eastern German travel firm.

Travel agency said it would start taking bookings from Friday for a trial nudist day trip from the eastern German town of Erfurt to the popular Baltic Sea resort of Usedom, planned for July 5 and costing 499 euros ($735).

"It's expensive, I know," managing director Enrico Hess told Reuters by phone. "It's because the plane's very small. There's no real reason why a flight in which one flies naked should be more expensive than any other."

*I don't know if I agree with that. I think it should would depend on the physical appearance of the other passengers. I mean, a plane full of this:

should definitely have a different price point than a plane full of this:

The 55 passengers will have to remain clothed until they board, and dress before disembarking, said Hess. The crew will remain clothed throughout the flight for safety reasons.
*Thank heaven for that. Fifty-five naked German tourists is certainly more than enough nudity for anyone.

"I wish I could say we thought of it ourselves but the idea came from a customer," Hess told Reuters by phone. "It's an unusual gap in the market."
*...naw...too easy...

Naturism, or "free body culture" (FKK) as it is known in Germany, was banned by the Nazis but blossomed again after the Second World War, particularly in eastern Germany.
*So maybe the Nazis weren't all COMPLETELY nuts after all. Although, honestly, I imagine that a good many of those SS officers wouldn't have minded a bunch of blonde haired, blue eyed "perfect Aryans" running around in their birthday suits.

"There are FKK hotels where you can go into the restaurants and shops naked, for example," Hess said. "For FKK fans -- not that I'm one of them -- it's nothing unusual."
*So maybe this guy isn't COMPLETELY nuts after all, either.

"I don't want people to get the wrong idea. It's not that we're starting a swinger club in mid-air or something like that," he added. "We're a perfectly normal holiday company."

*Ummm...yeah...that's just what I was thinking. Well, that and no one would have to hog the bathroom to join the Mile High Club.

(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan, editing by Paul Casciato, emphasis and commentary added by SMC)
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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Today's Topic: Why is reality reversed in cartoons?

I think that, without much fear of contradiction, it is safe to say that most people are not crazy about mice living in their homes. Not only are they terribly unsanitary (did you know that mice, like flies, are constantly excreting waste of some sort of another as they traverse your castle?), but they're fast and noisy.

And yet, when watching Tom & Jerry, you want the mouse to outsmart the cat and escape.

Why is that?

And good old Popeye and Olive Oyl...why do we forgive her constant idiocy of going off with Bluto (or Bruno, depending on the age of the episode) because she momentarily finds him sexier, wittier and more interesting, and hold our breath until Popeye gets that can of spinach, kicks ass and rescues the girl? It certainly ain't because she's hot (the following picture, and updated "pretty Olive" notwithstanding) or puts out ("You keep your hands to you...that's what you are!")

But those are Olde Tyme toons. Let's check out one of them New Millennium toonz.

This little cutie is Pucca, a Japanese anime import who appears on Toon Disney...which automatically means that she's A-OK with parents and kiddies, right? I mean, who on Earth is more respectful of the value of wholesomeness and the delicate grip morality has on today's society than the good people of Disney???

So why are they masquerading a delusional psycho stalker chick as an adorable little girl with a major crush on Garu, a little ninja boy with a heart decorating his ninja jammies???

Here's what Pucca sees in her head:

Here's the reality:

Garu spends most episodes running away/hiding from Pucca when he isn't fighting the evil ninja guys. The girl terrifies him. And with good reason. She's EVERYWHERE! The only "benefit" is that when he is being threatened by any one of a number of ninja baddies, Pucca turns into some kind of crazed, psycho stalker one-girl hurricane of fighting fury. No one will EVER hurt Garu as long as Pucca lives and breathes. But does this endear her to him? No. It freaks him out. As well it should.

And yet, you want Garu to realize that Pucca is the cutest thing ever and that his life would be an endless rain of gumdrops and sunshine should he ever JUST STOP RUNNING!!!

Why is that???!!!

Do we allow our ordinary sense of "right" and "wrong" to evaporate when we turn on the Boob Tube? Are we (sans LSD) "turning on, tuning in, and dropping out"? Are we permitting ourselves to be lulled into a dreamy sense of acceptance via catchy (albeit nonsensical) pop tunes, bright primary colors and constant movement allowing for no time to THINK?

Perhaps this is all a plot to prepare us for the upcoming Presidential elections. I, for one, know I would pay a lot more attetion to the yadda yadda yadda if I were watching, say, hand puppets, instead of talking heads. Mayhaps that is what we have to look forward to in the upcoming weeks and months.


As they say...Stay Tooned...