Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What a day....

Today, I feel like I'm in this class..... (Thanks Shorpy!)


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Apollo 11 anniversary

Wow, two "stuff that doesn't bug me" posts in one day! Don't worry -- I'll be back to my regularly scheduled rants soon enough.

From early childhood, I wanted to be an astronaut. Bad eyesight and an inability to do simple math made it obvious I'd never reach that goal, but I've never lost my interest in space. I've been enjoying all the retrospectives for the 40th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 mission to put the first human beings on the moon. The History Channel had a great program the other night -- excerpts of the live coverage on July 20, 1969 from CBS news, hosted by Walter Cronkite (rest in peace, Mr. Cronkite!). I just came across this next item, which is, fortunately, a little-known historical artifact: the speech Nixon would have given if Armstrong and Aldrin had been unable to return to rendezvous with Collins's command ship.

In a memo from Nixon’s speechwriter, Bill Safire, to White House chief of staff Harry Haldeman, dated July 18, 1969, housed until recently among Nixon's private papers in the national archives, entitled "In event of Moon disaster," are the following, extremely moving, words:

Fate has ordained that the men who went to the Moon to explore in peace will stay on the Moon to rest in peace.

These brave men know there is no hope for their recovery but they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.

These two men are laying down their lives in mankind’s most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding.

They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by their nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown.

In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man.

In ancient days, men looked at stars and saw their heroes in the constellations.

In modern times, we do much the same but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.

Others will follow and surely find their way home.

Man’s search will not be denied but these men were the first and they will remain the foremost in our hearts.

For every human being who looks up at the Moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.

Strange But True

Being a grammar geek (I'm sure no one noticed), I'm always interested in the quirks of language, and the quirks of producing or understanding language. This is fun:

"Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe."

Monday, July 20, 2009

You can't pass a law you don't understand....

One would think that would be the rule, right? If you're a congressperson and haven't read -- or don't understand -- a particular bill, you can't vote on it. Makes sense, right? Too bad that's not the way it works.

Here's one lovely example from Overlawyered.com: http://overlawyered.com/2009/07/medicare-qui-tam-a-health-care-bill-surprise/.

Apparently, just before President Obama's much beloved universal health care bill was shipped off the the House Ways and Means Committee, a "special" provision was discovered. One that would allow anyone to sue on behalf of the government to recover money from a third party that caused medicare to spend money.

What does that mean? Let's assume you're a driver. You're already having a crappy day, and you crash into another driver who cuts you off in traffic because he's texting and changing the radio station while steering with his knee. Maybe it's legally your fault, maybe not, but there's no debating that you are the proximal cause of the injury. Now, say the injured driver has government healthcare, and that government healthcare pays $20,000 to fix that driver's broken leg. Now, some enterprising lawyer can sue you to recover what medicare spent. Where does the money go? Some to reimburse medicare. But much of it would remain in the pocket of that lawyer.

Even better, other language in the bill would allow the lawyer to sue based on "any relevant evidence, including but not limited to relevant statistical or epidemiological evidence, or by other similarly reliable means." That means if you own a restaurant, and have served food -- some of it high calorie, artery clogging, yummy food -- you can be sued because statistical evidence shows that medicare has to pay for health issues related to fatty foods.

Did the legislators who are pushing this bill know that such language was in there?? I don't know what I hope the answer is. If "yes," then they really want to make sure everyone gets sued for everything they do (or statistically may have done). If "no" then they are clearly voting on bills they don't read, and don't understand.

And people wonder why lawyers are considered bottom-feeders and this country's government is a laughingstock elsewhere.... Please, let's dissolve our government and start over.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Hey! I can see you!!

Living in Los Angeles, I'm always, always, always in traffic. Really. Always. I saw a news story that said the average American is stuck in traffic 32 hours a year, but in LA that number rises to 70 hours! Not just time driving, time stuck. Unhappily, miserably stuck, like a mouse whose tail is caught in a trap, frantically looking around for an escape route, even considering chewing off its own tail to escape, but knowing there is no hope.

When I'm stuck going 4 miles an hour on the freeway (why are they even called "freeways" here? they should be called "long parking lots"), there's not much to do but daydream or look at my fellow motorists. I think I should stick to daydreaming. Today as I looked around, I saw a woman applying mascara (driving at least 15 miles an hour while doing so -- I was so tempted to lay on the horn and make her look like Tammy Faye Baker), a guy with the LA Times on his steering wheel (scary that someone would read and drive to begin with, but even scarier that someone would think the crappy LA Times is worth getting into an accident over!!), and 3 -- yes 3 -- people driving and picking their noses.

Note to Nosepicking Drivers: You know what?? We can see you!!! Would you do that sitting in a restaurant? In the park with your kids? On the bus? No. But somehow you think you are invisible sitting in your car! I know some of you think "Hey, I'm never going to see you again, so what do I care?" but you'd be wrong. One of you had a Widget Co. parking sticker on your windshield. I'm sure I'll see you here in the building someday. I'll be sure to hand you a tissue when I do.

And I WON'T shake your hand!

Monday, July 6, 2009

You're Lucky I Like My Car....

What is it about summertime that brings out the highway hemorrhoids? I'm talking, of course, about tailgaters! Yesterday, I drove down to Long Beach, about a 40 mile drive from my happy chunk of suburbia, and I had someone attached to my bumper the entire way. Not the same somebody -- just always somebody.

Why would someone want to drive this close to my car? What if I hit the brakes? What if I have to swerve to avoid something in the road? What if I throw a bag of dog poop out towards his moon roof? (Ahhh, if only my aim were that good....)

I'm trying to figure out how to invent the following device: When the driver sees a hemorrhoid on her ass as she's driving, she can push a button, which will pop open the trunk slightly. Out of the trunk comes a large hand that goes in the tailgater's driver side window and smacks him upside his annoying head.

If you are an inventor, and know how this can be accomplished, please call me on the Bat Phone.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

No wonder you're not an attorney....

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know I'm an attorney, and have been for the past 10 years. I also enjoy watching law-related shows, like Law and Order and Judge Judy. Yes, Judge Judy -- I love that crabby lady! I wish all judges would tell stupid litigants (and stupid lawyers) when they're being especially stupid. I love how she occasionally even corrects people's grammar, although they often don't recognize that she's doing it. One thing I WISH she would do, though, is correct stupid pronunciations.

Here are two of my least favorite law-related mispronunciations: "affidavid" and "promissary note." No, you idiots. There's no such thing as an "affidavid." If you can believe it, I actually hear attorneys saying this at times!! Look it up. It's an "affidaviT"!! And there's no such thing as a "promissary note." It's a "promissOry note." If you can't pronounce it, you shouldn't sign it. Dufuses.

Oh, and while we're at it, the "District Attorney" does not defend you for free. She prosecutes you! The poor overworked "Public Defender" is the one who defends you.