And These People Are Found Where?

I’m going to file this bit of manufactured hysteria (yes, manufactured by stupid people) in the “I now know who does the housework in YOUR household” file:
“A few Tennessee lawmakers apparently inquired whether a new sink at the state capitol designed for custodial use was a sink for Muslims to wash their feet in before prayer, the Associated Press reported Monday. The lawmakers were reassured that it is simply a “mop sink.”

“I confirmed with the facility administrator for the State Capitol Complex that the floor-level sink installed in the men’s restroom outside the House Chamber is for housekeeping use,” Legislative Administration Director Connie Ridley wrote in an email. “It is, in layman’s terms, a mop sink.”

The Tennessee Capitol underwent renovations in December, the AP reported, and the sink is designed to make it easier for custodial staff to clean mops and fill buckets. The sink is located in a men’s bathroom outside the House chamber.”
>head his keyboard several times< …. Right .. in Tennessee – in the State Capital …who finds these people anyway – and where …..

tennessee-mop-sink-AP217826576409

 

 

 

Stellar Stella Awards ~ Early Evening Thoughts

We’ve all heard or gotten an email about the guy who injured himself while using his lawn mower as a hedge clipper, and then won $500,000 in a lawsuit against the lawn mower company?

Or, how about the woman who threw a soft drink at her boyfriend, slipped on the wet floor, and then won $100,000 in a lawsuit against the restaurant?

My all time favorite about the fellow that bought an RV and as he was driving it home put the cruise control on and went to the back to make himself a cup of coffee.

These are only two of the common examples of lawsuit abuses that are fueling the call for “litigation reform.” They are also completely untrue — part of a growing collection of legal mythologies that are appearing widely in the national media. I’m not sure why people would make-up stories when the real ones are much better.

You know my fondness for awards – and the Stella Awards is among my favorites. (The Stella Awards were inspired by Stella Liebeck. In 1992, Stella, then 79, spilled a cup of McDonald’s coffee onto her lap, burning herself — the “rest of her story” here…with a LOT of information I didn’t know – for instance she wasn’t driving!!)

The 2007 True Stella Awards

Issued February 2008

(Click here to confirm these are legitimate.)

#3: Sentry Insurance Company. The company provided worker’s compensation insurance for a Wisconsin “Meals on Wheels” program. Delivering a meal, a MoW volunteer (who was allegedly not even wearing boots) slipped and fell on a participant’s driveway that had been cleared of snow, and Sentry had to pay to care for her resulting injuries. Sentry wanted its money back, so it sued the 81-year-old homeowner getting the Meals on Wheels service. It could have simply filed for “subrogation” from her homeowner’s insurance company, but by naming her in the action, it dragged an old lady into court, reinforcing the image of insurance companies as concerned only about the bottom line, not “protecting” policyholders from loss.

#2: The family of Robert Hornbeck. Hornbeck volunteered for the Army and served a stint in Iraq. After getting home, he got drunk, wandered into a hotel’s service area (passing “DANGER” warning signs), crawled into an air conditioning unit, and was severely cut when the machinery activated. Unable to care for himself due to his drunkenness, he bled to death. A tragedy, to be sure, but one solely caused by a supposedly responsible adult with military training. Despite his irresponsible behavior — and his perhaps criminal trespassing — Hornbeck’s family sued the hotel for $10 million, as if it’s reasonably foreseeable that some drunk fool would ignore warning signs and climb into its heavy duty machinery to sleep off his bender.

But those pale compared to…

The winner of the 2007 True Stella Award: Roy L. Pearson Jr. The 57-year-old Administrative Law Judge from Washington DC claims that a dry cleaner lost a pair of his pants, so he sued the mom-and-pop business for $65,462,500. That’s right: more than $65 million for one pair of pants. Representing himself, Judge Pearson cried in court over the loss of his pants, whining that there certainly isn’t a more compelling case in the District archives. But the Superior Court judge wasn’t moved: he called the case “vexatious litigation”, scolded Judge Pearson for his “bad faith”, and awarded damages to the dry cleaners. But Pearson didn’t take no for an answer: he’s appealing the decision. And he has plenty of time on his hands, since he was dismissed from his job. Last we heard, Pearson’s appeal is still pending.

©2007 by Randy Cassingham, StellaAwards.com. Reprinted with permission.

–elderly woman from http://www.superstock.com

–more tomorrow

And The Beat Goes On ~ Early Afternoon Thoughts

Normally I use early afternoon thoughts for elegant time wasters, I found there actually were legitimate times wasters in the real world over the last several weeks. In the recent spate of headlines there were several news stories about a councilwoman who objected to another councilman saying that the “paperwork would disappear into a black hole. . . ” I always thought that astronomical term was perfectly respectable, and could be used to describe the mythological place where things (even the socks from the dryer) could be described as disappearing.

Evidently the PC Police feel otherwise. Now, had the man said “black Ho” I might have understood – but black hole? What is this woman going to demand – that Astronomy change its term? That the Black Hole of Calcutta of history be renamed? Hold up on the cards the letters, I DO know that the Calcutta story has been debunked . . .

By this point I was ready to get on a roll of time wasters, and was perusing the blogs I follow on a regular basis when I was literally knocked off my soap box (which was pretty large by-the-way) by the following from the blog Joe.My.God . . .

For some time I had followed a blog called Coopers Corrider where a gay man adopted two children and aside from being an incredible writer allowed us inside his life and feelings.

Joe titled his post:

Apology Revoked
(And Munchausen-By-Blog Syndrome)

And then the OMG portion of my day began –

“Oh, gentle readers, what a twisted, fascinating, maddening, saddening place is this thing called The Internets.

Remember Cooper? The firefighter gay dad of two adopted boys who pulled his widely-loved blog after an “attack” of malicious comments and emails from the readers of this blog? Causing me to get extremely bent of out shape and offer Cooper a heartfelt (really) public apology? Over the last few days our little blogosphere has retched forth some unpleasant, uncomfortable revelations about Cooper.

The short version:
He is not a firefighter.
He is not an adoptive father.
He is not gay.
He is not, in fact, a he. “

(OK ~ now I’m really intrigued.)

“Intrigued? The long version:

The story began to unfold at Sweet/Salty, the blog of a woman named Kate, a young mother dealing with the death of her infant son. On the day of the supposed attack on Cooper’s blog by JMG readers, Kate had emailed him, extremely distressed to have discovered that Cooper had lifted many of her gorgeously written posts verbatim, including photographs of her husband.

Upon receipt of Kate’s surprisingly kind request to remove her plagiarized material, Cooper deleted his blog and apparently then concocted the JMG attack story to placate his legion of starry-eyed readers, people who avidly followed Cooper’s Corridor as a place where they saw their most earnest ideals about gay parenting realized.

Shortly afterwards, Cooper’s Corridor resumed as Nico’s Niche, a private blog where Kate’s material continued to appear. Kate found my public apology to Cooper and emailed me about the situation. Knowing that Father Tony has had a longtime internet friendship with Cooper, I put him on the case. What he uncovered may blow your mind.

According to the bizarre confession wrangled by Father Tony, Cooper’s Corridor/Nico’s Niche was written by a woman, a 52-year-old British Columbia grandmother named Jo, who says that ever since she was a little girl she has felt that she is a gay man trapped in a woman’s body. Cooper/Nico (Jo claims) was a concoction created in order to deal with her lifelong gender identity disorder. She says she calls her inner gay man “Nicky”.

Oh, but hang on a minute, it gets curiouser still. Turns out that there are extremely similar aspects between the Cooper/Nico story and another infamous case of blog imposterism. Years ago there was the (now-infamous in the gay blogosphere) case of A Priori Ad Lib, a blog supposedly written by a gay Canadian grade school teacher slowly dying from leukemia. The dying gay teacher’s name? Nicky. Who lived in British Columbia. Who turned out to be a woman, exposed when a blog pal of mine attempted to actually visit “him” in the hospital only to find no such person existed.

As the initial outrage and sense of betrayal about Cooper died down a bit, there have been some rather generous expressions of pity towards Jo/Cooper/Nicky. Kate (the blogger whose occasionally tortured, but always lovely prose was stolen) has been by turns baffled, angry, stunned…but most of all, kind. (Her readers, understandably, not so much.) Even as evidence was put forward that Jo had plagiarized other blogs, the conversation turned to pleas for understanding for the mentally ill.

Go read Kate’s initial angry post, then you absolutely must delve into Father Tony’s post, where in addition to publishing Jo’s emailed “confession”, he muses in his typically artful way about the anonymous nature of the internet and how much we can ever really know about people, even when we think we have an insider’s view of their day-to-day lives.

To my readers who leapt to defend “Cooper”, I thank you for your kind words to him, however misguided we all were. I know some of you had even sent Christmas presents for “Cooper’s” nonexistent children, so I can only imagine how incredibly betrayed you feel. Jo has told Father Tony that she’s been suicidal over being exposed, but has found a mental health counselor and is considering gender reassignment surgery. Color me extremely skeptical on that, but at the end of day what we have here is a very troubled person who needs help of some kind.

Even this post may please the sort of person who engages in what I call “Munchausen-by-blog syndrome”, but consider this yet another unhappy lesson about trust, gullibility, and how we as gay people are sometimes overeager to find our heroes.”

Aside from leaving me speechless ~ A difficult feat in itself ~ I was struck by the last paragraph (as in the solar plexus). I have to take a little issue with Joe on the last line, I don’t think it’s only gays that are overeager to find heroes ~ I think many people have fallen into the “Hero de Jour” trap.

The Stella Awards (And Some Are Stellar!)~

We’ve all heard or gotten an email about the guy who injured himself while using his lawn mower as a hedge clipper, and then won $500,000 in a lawsuit against the lawn mower company?

Or, how about the woman who threw a soft drink at her boyfriend, slipped on the wet floor, and then won $100,000 in a lawsuit against the restaurant?

These are only two of the common examples of lawsuit abuses that are fueling the call for “litigation reform.” They are also completely untrue — part of a growing collection of legal mythologies that are appearing widely in the national media. I’m not sure why people would make-up stories when the real ones are much better.

You know my fondness for awards – and the Stella Awards is among my favorites. (The Stella Awards were inspired by Stella Liebeck. In 1992, Stella, then 79, spilled a cup of McDonald’s coffee onto her lap, burning herself — the “rest of her story” here…with a LOT of information I didn’t know – for instance she wasn’t driving!!)

The 2006 True Stella Awards

Issued 31 January 2007

(Click here to confirm these are legitimate.)

#5: Marcy Meckler. While shopping at a mall, Meckler stepped outside and was “attacked” by a squirrel that lived among the trees and bushes. And “while frantically attempting to escape from the squirrel and detach it from her leg, [Meckler] fell and suffered severe injuries,” her resulting lawsuit says. That’s the mall’s fault, the lawsuit claims, demanding in excess of $50,000, based on the mall’s “failure to warn” her that squirrels live outside.

#4: Ron and Kristie Simmons. The couple’s 4-year-old son, Justin, was killed in a tragic lawnmower accident in a licensed daycare facility, and the death was clearly the result of negligence by the daycare providers. The providers were clearly deserving of being sued, yet when the Simmons’s discovered the daycare only had $100,000 in insurance, they dropped the case against them and instead sued the manufacturer of the 16-year-old lawn mower because the mower didn’t have a safety device that 1) had not been invented at the time of the mower’s manufacture, and 2) no safety agency had even suggested needed to be invented. A sympathetic jury still awarded the family $2 million.

#3: Robert Clymer. An FBI agent working a high-profile case in Las Vegas, Clymer allegedly created a disturbance, lost the magazine from his pistol, then crashed his pickup truck in a drunken stupor — his blood-alcohol level was 0.306 percent, more than three times the legal limit for driving in Nevada. He pled guilty to drunk driving because, his lawyer explained, “With public officials, we expect them to own up to their mistakes and correct them.” Yet Clymer had the gall to sue the manufacturer of his pickup truck, and the dealer he bought it from, because he “somehow lost consciousness” and the truck “somehow produced a heavy smoke that filled the passenger cab.” Yep: the drunk-driving accident wasn’t his fault, but the truck’s fault. Just the kind of guy you want carrying a gun in the name of the law.

#2: KinderStart.com. The specialty search engine says Google should be forced to include the KinderStart site in its listings, reveal how its “Page Rank” system works, and pay them lots of money because they’re a competitor. They claim by not being ranked higher in Google, Google is somehow infringing KinderStart’s Constitutional right to free speech. Even if by some stretch they were a competitor of Google, why in the world would they think it’s Google’s responsibility to help them succeed? And if
Google’s “review” of their site is negative, wouldn’t a government court order forcing them to change it infringe on Google’s Constitutional right to free speech?

And the winner of the 2006 True Stella Award:

Allen Ray Heckard. Even though Heckard is 3 inches shorter, 25 pounds lighter, and 8 years older than former basketball star Michael Jordan, the Portland, Oregon, man says he looks a lot like Jordan, and is often confused for him — and thus he deserves $52 million “for defamation and permanent injury” — plus $364 million in “punitive damage for emotional pain and suffering”, plus the SAME amount from Nike co-founder Phil Knight, for a grand total of $832 million. He dropped the suit after Nike’s lawyers chatted with him, where they presumably explained how they’d counter-sue if he pressed on.

©2007 by Randy Cassingham,
StellaAwards.com. Reprinted with permission.

As An Added Bonus:
other urban legal myths:

• Kathleen Robertson of Austin received $780,000 from a jury after she tripped over her own son in a furniture store.

• Carl Truman, a 19-year-old in Los Angeles, was awarded more than $74,000 when his hand was run over by a neighbor. The neighbor did not see Truman, who was in the process of stealing his hubcaps.

• Terrence Dickson of Bristol, Pa., was given a $500,000 award after he was inadvertently trapped in the garage of a house that he was burglarizing.

• A Mr. Grazinski won more than $1,750,000 and a new Winnebago after he put his new motor home on cruise control at 70 mph and then went into the back to fix himself some coffee — only to crash on the highway.