Saturday, July 31, 2010

Returning 'Home'

For a girl raised on the prairies (with the exception of a few brief years in the foothills), the move to Cape Breton Nova Scotia was more than a bit of a culture shock.

I was barely 19 and enrolled in Cape Breton University UCCB for my first year of university. Knowing the grand total of one person in the entire Province and never having been past Tawanta before, I know that if I had really stopped and thought about what I was doing, I never would have did it. Fortunately, I wasn't so big into stopping and thinking in those days.

But, yeah, Cape Breton - definite culture shock. Albeit in a good kind of way.

I well recall walking down the street, people walking by and asking "How are you?" while I looked at them literally dumbstruck, wondering "Who are you?". It's not that we weren't friendly out West, it was just that we were a tad more ... reserved. But I soon got use to it and even came to enjoy being called "dear" at least two dozen times a day.

And although the people may have taken some getting use to, I fell in love with the island, itself, within the first few weeks.

I had moved in with a good friend and her parents and within the first few weeks we took a trip around the Trail. The Cabot Trail, that is. It was a long weekend (Labour Day, maybe?) and we took two days, stopping to camp in Cheticamp.

Prairie girl, remember?

One of my brother's favourite (bad) jokes is that he was raised on the Prairies. Where you could watch your dog run away for days. And days. And days.

Whatever. I warned you I thought it was a bad joke.

But with that trip around the Trail, probably around our first (certainly no later than our second) stop to get out of the car and look around, it happened.

I. Fell. In. Love. And fell hard.

The ocean absolutely mesmerized me. Climbing around on the rocks and carrying on was a lot of fun. But I soon discovered that I could easily sit on those rocks and just stare at the ocean. For hours.

And so, it was. I became (at least in my own mind) a Cape Bretoner. Or, at the very least, an honourary one.

I lived in Syndey for three years while I did my undergrad. It was during my last year at UCCB that I met my husband (to be). And although after that I lived in Halifax (another place I love) for three years while in law school and have lived in the Valley for the past 17 years, Cape Breton will always hold a special place in my heart.

And so when, a few years ago, I realized that my own girls have never been around the Cabot Trail (and have rarely been to the Island, for that matter - only once that they can now remember), I decided it was time to do something about that. That a Trip was long overdue - not a trip to Sydney to visit relatives but one where the girls could really experience the Cabot Trail.

And so it is that we leave tomorrow to spend a few weeks in Cape Breton. As it worked out, we will stay in 3 very different places - Dundee Resort (thanks to a very generous gift certificate from a friend) on the Bras D'Or Lakes, the Sea Parrot (on the Island's North Shore) and Inverness Beach Village - which, all in all, pretty well covers off a very large chunk of the Trail (and the Island, for that matter).

And so, it should be fun. We will visit family, lay on the beach, play in the waves, climb some rocks, have a few bonfires and enjoy our beverage(s) of choice.

The Home of my Heart ... Cape Breton.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Headlines: Clarification

Just to clarify, what really irritates me about this is that nobody I am neither asking nor suggesting that any provincial government should be paying out for liberation therapy at the moment.

What we're talking about here is funding for clinical trials.

Clinical trials, people.

After all, isn't that what everyone has been talking about - you can't possibly expect us to provide funding for new treatments unless we know they're both safe and effective? Anecdotal evidence just doesn't cut it, right?

Okay, fair enough.


Exactly how much research is going to occur if nobody funds it?

Then again, I am probably looking at this all wrong.

I mean what better way to slow the rising costs of health care budgets then to tell people that they must patiently wait for clinical trials? And then make sure those same trials never occur?

It's brilliant.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Yesterday, the Province of Saskatchewan stepped forward as the first in Canada to fund clinical trials for the latest media darling in the treatment of MS, commonly known as "liberation therapy".
In a striking departure from his political counterparts across the country, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says his government will finance clinical trials of liberation therapy, a contentious experimental procedure for multiple
sclerosis patients.

“There isn’t unanimity on the issue, I understand that,” Mr. Wall said on Tuesday. “But ... the province of Saskatchewan is willing to play a funding role.”

The move shunts Saskatchewan to the forefront of Canadian efforts to introduce a treatment that has researchers, politicians and the MS community divided over the roots of the mysterious nerve-wasting disease and the pace of Canadian medical research.
By the by, Premier Wall noted that Saskatchewan "has the highest rate of MS in the country", the issue being somewhat personal for him, apparently. No doubt because "there isn’t anybody who doesn’t have a family member or friend who is battling it”.

Did I ever mention that yours truly I your humble scribe hail from Saskatchewan?

And based on today's news reports, it looks rathter unfortunate that I hadn't stayed there.
Ontario will not follow Saskatchewan’s lead and fund clinical trials of a new operation that offers hope to people with multiple sclerosis, Premier Dalton McGuinty said Wednesday.

* * *

Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger said Wednesday he won’t commit to funding trials of the liberation treatment.

Selinger said the Manitoba government is working with other provinces to continue to find the best ways to treat MS, but he wouldn’t commit to funding clinical trials.

No word on Nova Scotia yet ... Wait!

Wow, looks like a good thing I wasn't prepared to hold my breath.

So much for that idea.

One note of dark humour though (we might as well laugh, right?).

While slamming Nova Scotia's NDP party for this decision, the Liberal Health Critic might just have stepped in it.
Liberal health critic Diana Whalen said Nova Scotia has the highest per-capita rate of multiple sclerosis in Canada, so it makes sense to conduct the research in the province.
So, they can't both be right, can they?

I mean I couldn't possibly be that unlucky ... consider that I already live in a country known for having one of the highest prevalence rates of multiple sclerosis in the world.

Then, to add insult to injury, did I really move from the province with the highest per capita rate of MS in Canada to the province with the highest per capita rate of MS in Canada?

Geez, if it wasn't for bad luck, I would have no luck at all ...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Just Gotta Be Lovin' That 'Discrimation' ...

Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say "infinitely" when you mean "very"; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.

C.S. Lewis

File this one under the category of pet peeves ...

We all have our collection of pet peeves, don't we? Things that drive us a little bit wacky (or wackier than usual).

So I've often wondered just how much a person's pet peeves say about the person themselves. What drives you nuts might cause me to simply shrug and walk away. And vice versa. So do the things that really get to us tell us anything about ourselves? And others?

The answer is, of course, that I don't really know. But I'm thinking maybe, for at least some of our pet peeves.

I could probably categorize my pet peeves, not that I have that many really, but most of them do tend to fall into fairly discrete categories. And one of my big ones has to do with people screwing up all manner of things legal.

Although this can show up in various ways (anyone ever pay close attention to the court scenes in television or movies?), the one that comes to mind today is people who throw around legal terms without a clue of what they really mean.

For example, people who equate rudeness with discrimination. Or assume that anything that offends them must constitute discrimination. Well, either that or a "hate crime", of course.

And so it was that I opened today's newspaper to find that Neil Rideout considers police enforcement of a section of the Motor Vehicle Act providing that the only motorized vehicles allowed on sidewalks are wheelchairs to be discriminatory. Against him. Because he was "pulled over" for driving a motorized cooler on the sidewalk.

That's right - I actually said "cooler". As in Coleman. The story itself is rather amusing, complete with a police officer asking if he could search the "vehicle".

But what isn't so amusing (at least to me) is Mr. Rideout's contention that he's being "discriminated" against because there is also no provision in the Motor Vehicle Act for electric scooters or motorized kids' toys. Which, I can only presume, he is implying are not being "pulled over" by police.

"Son, stop that Tonka right now and put your hands where I can see them".

But all humour aside, as I've said before, real instances of discrimination do to occur. As does racism. And real hate crimes (against people with disabilities, for example).

There are dangerous consequences to thinking and acting like Humpty Dumpty, I fear.

Because when we, as a society, find discrimination (and racism and hate crimes) lurking under every rock or in every bizarre comment someone makes, we are marginalizing the whole concept to the point of meaninglessness.

And then what word will we have to describe it when it really occurs?

So, yeah, maybe this one is a little bigger than a pet peeve for me ...

Words of Wisdom

Just not mine.
I grew up with practical parents who had been frightened by the Great Depression in the 1930′s. A mother, God love her, who washed aluminum foil after she cooked in it, then reused it. She was the original recycle queen, before they had a name for it. A father who was happier getting old shoes fixed than buying new ones.

Their marriage was good, their dreams focused. Their best friends lived barely a wave away. I can see them now, Dad in trousers, tee shirt and a hat and Mom in a house dress, lawn mower in one hand, and dish-towel in the other. It was the time for fixing things: a curtain rod, the kitchen radio, screen door, the oven door, the hem in a dress. Things we keep.

It was a way of life, and sometimes it made me crazy. All that repairing, eating, renewing, I wanted just once to be wasteful. Waste meant affluence. Throwing things away meant you knew there’d always be more.

But then my father died, and on that clear fall night, in the warmth of the hospital room, I was struck with the pain of learning that sometimes there isn’t any more.

Sometimes, what we care about most gets all used up and goes away … Never to return. So .. While we have it … it’s best we love it .. And care for it … And fix it when it’s broken … And heal it when it’s sick.

This is true … For marriage … And old cars … And children with bad report cards … And dogs and cats with bad hips .. And aging parents … And grandparents. We keep them because they are worth it, because we are worth it. Some things we keep. Like a best friend that moved away or a classmate we grew up with.

There are just some things that make life important, like people we know who are special … And so, we keep them close!
H/T to Mongo at Lex's

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Deborah, Ashley's mom over at Pipecleaner Dreams, asked a most excellent question yesterday - Why?

Musing about group homes, day programs and school classrooms one of her daughters has and does know, she simply asks "Why?".
Why don’t people with disabilities deserve lightness, bright rooms, cheery kitchens and the occasional barbecue outside? Why can’t they assist in planting flowers and a vegetable garden at their group homes? Why can’t the draperies be opened more frequently and why can’t pleasant music be playing in the background rather than the constant din of the television?

How can we expect children with disabilities to be excited about going to school when the being there provides nothing visually stimulating? Do school districts think our students with disabilities will learn more if there is nothing but plain green walls to distract them? Why aren't there 'spirit' posters and announcements of school dances in the 'special education' hall? In fact, why is there even a 'special education' hall?

How can we expect our children with disabilities to learn and grow at their day support programs when they dread going there? Why can’t there be celebrations and joy in the places they spend the majority of their day - maybe ice cream sundaes and cupcakes with rainbow sprinkles? Why can't the staff smile more - do they really hate their jobs as much as their faces seem to say? Why must their lives be filled with darkness and gloom? Again, a little paint would go a long way to improving everyone’s moods.

Anyone care to take a crack at it? Anyone at all?

After all, if it were typical children housed or educated in such conditions, parents would be screaming bloody murder, would they not? The community would quickly respond and whoever was operating the institution would likely be shamed into compliance. And, if not, their "customers" would soon be gone elsewhere.

And yet that's not the case here. Why not?

I have a few ideas - ideas formed from years of battles, negotiations and compromises with teachers, doctors and bureaucrats. Yes, a few ideas - and they're all quite sad if true.

My first thought is that, in large part, these situations continue because many people "think" that those who are challenged don't notice their surroundings that much anyway, so it doesn't really matter.

Actually, I doubt that many people even get that far in their thinking. Most people likely don't think about it at all. But for those that have no choice but to confront it (those that are perhaps forced into actually facing these conditions day in and day out as employees), I would not be surprised if, for many, that that is their thought process. Or, at least, what passes for a thought process.

Forget the research that shows how important the characteristics of the physical environment are to a child's learning. That only applies to children. Real children. Real people. Like you and me.

Do we really need research to tell us what we already know, to "prove" that which is really only common sense - that a mentally challenged person is first a person; that the physical environment is just as important for him or her as it is for you and I?

I also think that some people condone the present situation as a way to save "scarce" resources - why spend time and money on such things when it doesn't matter much anyway (see above)? And when there are so many other places that need repairing and updating - places where typical children are educated, for example.

The most guilty of all would be those who question why time and money should be spent in such places when they regard (whether consciously or unconsciously) the individuals who live, work or go to school there as "less than".

As in noticing less than others.

Needing less than others.

Deserving less than others.

And although the case might be made that this is not a condition confined to the disabled, that individuals in poorer communities or the aged, for example, often experience similar physical environments, I have to ask how that justifies any of it.

Is it really okay to treat any segment of the population (be it on the basis of ability, age, income or race) as less than, as being as entitled to less than what the community would accept for it's own children or other family members?

Is there ever any justification for any one of us, personally, to consider it acceptable for any segment of the population to be treated with any less care, compassion and consideration than that we would expect demand for our own family members?

How do you justify the unjustifiable?


Friday, July 16, 2010

And Just How Do We Honour the Victims?

"In Canada all girls and women are equal to men under the law and have the right to live free from violence and abuse."

Rona Ambrose, Minister responsible for the status of women
Let's a few minutes and talk about a practice called "honour killings".

That's right, honour killings - “murders carried out in order to cleanse the family name and restore the family honour.”

You can read some real horror stories surrounding honour killing (as if the practice, in and of itself, is not horrific enough) if you're so inclined, including the story of a 16-year-old mentally retarded girl who, after being raped was turned over to her tribe's judicial council in Pakistan. Where, even though the crime was reported to the police and the perpetrator was arrested, it was decided that she "had brought shame to her tribe". She was killed in front of a tribal gathering.

Then there's the story of Samia Imran, whose murder in broad daylight, was abetted by her mother (a doctor) and occurred in the office of a prominent Pakistani lawyer and the UN reporter on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions.

Right, doesn't that have echoes of the United Nations electing Iran to its Commission on the Status of Women, handing a four-year seat on the influential human rights body to a theocratic state in which stoning is enshrined in law and lashings are required for women judged "immodest"?

But let's put that little unpleasantness aside for the moment and return to the subject at hand, shall we?

You remember, honour killings.

Unfortunately, Canada is not immune.

16-year-old Aqsa Parvez might be the most widely talked about [you can read Asqua's entire story here] case of honour killing in Canada but she is far from the first.
A 14-year-old female rape victim is strangled to death in March 2004 by her father and brother because she has supposedly tarnished the family name.

In April 2004, a man brutally kills his wife and daughter after finding out that his brother had previously molested them.

A teenage girl with a Turkish background has her throat cut by her father after he learns she has a Christian boyfriend.

Which brings us to the question - should "honour killing" be added as a separate criminal offence in Canada?

For better or for worse, apparently, that's the latest politcal buzz.

Following the release of a report from the Frontier Centre for Public Policy (whoever the heck they are) this week entitled "Culturally-Driven Violence Against Women: A growing problem in Canada’s immigrant communities", Rona Ambrose, the minister responsible for the status of women, publicly stated that the government is "looking at" adding "honour killing" as a separate charge to the Criminal Code.

Apparently, she also "affirmed" the federal government's "zero-tolerance stance" against "honour killing," declaring such "barbaric cultural practices" as "heinous abuses" that have no place in Canadian society.

That whole zero tolerance thing kind of makes sense I suppose - considering Canada already has (as do all other civilized countries) a law or two on the books that tend to kick in whenever someone ends up "killing" somebody else. Yeah, that whole "killing" thing might just get you a raised eyebrow or two in some circles. It's all so ... distasteful, you know.

But, yeah, that whole idea that maybe honour killing would become a separate charge under the Criminal Code - they sort of backpedalled on that, really rather quickly, I would say.
She was asked if the government was considering such changes, and she replied that it was under consideration.

"I'll say that it's something that we're looking at," she said. "Nothing more than that at this time."

However, when contacted for more details about possible changes, a spokeswoman for the Department of Justice said in fact, that is not the case.

"There are currently no plans to do that," said Pamela Stephens.

"While we're always interested in new input into ways to improve the Criminal Code, currently honour killing suggests a certain motive or conduct. But regardless of the motive the law as it exists in Canada is clear that intentional killing is murder, regardless of the motive."
Quite frankly, the idea of making "honour killing" an entirely separate criminal offence seems a little over the top to this tired little legal mind.

We already have provision for culpable homicide, murder (both first and second degree) and manslaughter. We deal separately with "contracted murder", "murder of a peace officer", death caused when a person is committing or attempting to commit a hijacking, sexual assault, kidnapping, criminal harassment, terrorist activity or intimidation and death caused "for the benefit of, at the direction of or in association with a criminal organization".

Yeah, I think we pretty much got it covered. Don't you?

But where it might make more sense to make special provision for "honour killings" in our criminal justice system is in sentencing.

Under the so-called "hate crimes" amendments made to the Criminal Code in 1996, Canada considers evidence that an offence was "motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or any other similar factor" to be an aggravating factor in sentencing. As is evidence that the offender abused their spouse or common-law partner, abused a person under the age of eighteen years or abused a position of trust or authority in relation to the victim.

Which, although I suppose one or two of the above would no doubt be covered off under most honour killings anyway, why not just find some way to wordsmith honour killings (or any offence motivated by a desire to cleanse a family name and restore the family honour) in there while we're at it?

It's true enough that some among us will be appalled dare we do anything, including even dare to use the term "honour killing".

So where, exactly, would that leave us - trying to convince ourselves that honour killing isn't culture specific (that, you see, would be an example of "racial profiling") and that education would be “patronizing,” as the practice (if we are allowed to even call it that) is just part of the larger problem of crime and violence in general? Or, perhaps, just another example of garden-variety "domestic violence"?

We can bury our heads in the sand all we wish, I suppose. But that does nothing to assist (or honour - what a strange use of words) those women (many just in their teens) who are being murdered by their own families right here in Canada.

Including the fact that a murder is an honour killing as an aggravating factor in sentencing might well be only "symbolic", as some suggest.

But at least it will symbolize something.

At least it should get more Canadians talking about the issue.

At least, we will be taking one small first step forward in trying to ensure that Minister Ambrose's words actually mean more than paper they're written on - that in Canada all girls and women are equal to men under the law and have the right to live free from violence and abuse.

Sounds nice, doesn't it?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Guantanamo Confussion

Can you really blame me for being just a mite bit confussed here?

I mean, everybody knows Guantanamo Bay is a bad place, right?

A very bad place where very bad things happen to (almost) innocent people, right?

Which is why one of the things President Obama promised was to immediately close the place within 100 days his first year of taking office, giving those prisoners back their basic human rights that had so long been denied, right?

Wait, you mean it's still open?

Okay, but still, they must have did something about the situation between now and then, right?

Oh wait, now I remember. They declared that those poor innocent souls detained at Guantanamo Bay would no longer be called "enemy combatants". Because that would be just wrong. I mean, that is what they were called under the Bush administration. Enough said there.

The really strange part, though, was when the Obama administration argued that the President had the legal power to detain enemy combatants terror suspects at Gitmo. Without filing criminal charges. Sound familiar?
But in a much anticipated court filing, the Justice Department argued that the president has the authority to detain terrorism suspects there without criminal charges, much as the Bush administration had asserted. It provided a broad definition of those who can be held, which was not significantly different from the one used by the Bush administration.

The filing signaled that, as long as Guantánamo remains open, the new administration will aggressively defend its ability to hold some detainees there.
But don't worry. It won't be how Bush et al did it.
The Obama administration said it was relying on existing principles of the international law of war. A public statement indicated that the government was moving away from claims of expansive executive power often used by the Bush administration to justify Guantánamo.

The new administration took pains to try to point out that it was taking a different approach. It said the new definition “does not rely on the president’s authority as commander in chief” beyond the powers authorized by Congress. The filing, in Federal District Court in Washington, was meant to provide a definition of those detainees who can be held and bitterly disappointed critics of Guantánamo, who said it seemed to continue the policies they have criticized for more than seven years.

It was the latest example of the Obama administration’s taking ownership of Guantánamo, even after having announced it would close the prison, where 241 men remain.
And, besides, they must have their reasons, right?

Like, I don't know, maybe the place wasn't really that bad after all?
Some critics of Guantánamo said that Friday’s filing fitted a pattern of recent moves by the administration that seemed intended to undercut continued criticism of Guantánamo but did not make significant changes in detention policy.

They noted that after Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr visited the detention camp last month, he proclaimed it “well run.” They said they had been stung as well by a Pentagon report commissioned by the new administration that said last month that the detention camp on the naval base at Guantánamo Bay meets the humane-treatment requirements of the Geneva conventions.
Well, okay. Like whatever.

But they are most definitely still going to close the place and send everybody home. Or something like that, right?

Sure, but just one little itsy bitsy problem. Too bad about the 50 to 100 detainees who cannot be safely released, sent to other countries or tried in American courts. Which means they're going to go where exactly?

But don't fret, they will work it out. Somehow.

And at least in the meantime at least there won't be any more of those nasty "military commissions" Bush was so fond of using to try these ... what do we call them again ... detainees, right?

Okay then, so much for that.

The ultimate cliche might just be to note that life is often much, much harder than it looks. As is governing. So, let's cut the man (and his administration) a little slack.

After all, these are to be new and improved "military commissions" which will "begin to restore the Commissions as a legitimate forum for prosecution, while bringing them in line with the rule of law". Hard to argue with that now, isn't it?

And as wrong as Gitmo may well have been in the first place, no one is saying there are any easy answers as to what to do with the detainees now.

So, yeah, I'm okay with all that.

Kind of. Sort of. For the most part. In a wait and see kind of way.

But here's what I really don't get:
The Obama administration would quickly send home six Algerians held at the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but for one problem: The men don't want to go. Given the choice between repatriation and incarceration, the men choose Gitmo, according to their lawyers.
Say what?! They actually want to stay? In Gitmo? For real?!

Yeah. Apparently they're not too anxious to return home to Algeria because they're afraid of either government torture or becoming the target of terrorist groups.

Which, okay, fair enough. After all, we civilized countries don't deport people to countries where they have a legitimate fear of torture or death.

And although I tend to think of these protections as applying more to innocent and legitimate refugees ... as opposed to, you know, terrorists ... it would be true that you and I can't easily judge exactly who is what at the moment so .... yeah, it probably makes sense that they shouldn't be returned home unless the US can ensure that there is "real substance" behind the diplomatic assurances that detainees repatriated to Algeria will be treated humanely.

Which is all fine and good.

But still. It makes me wonder ... if they're that willing to fight to stay right where they are because they fear torture or some other risk to their lives if they return home, I can only presume that means that, relatively speaking at least, Gitmo isn't really that bad of a place.

I mean, compared to Algeria. At least not anymore.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

In Defence of [Almost] All Lawyers Everywhere

So about all those lawyer jokes.

I've been thinking that it's well past time for a "lawyer joke" where the lawyer ain't the butt of the joke. Because, after all, the majority of us lawyer types just don't get enough recognition and appreciation for all the good we really do . . .

And then, voila ... look what appeared in my Inbox.

Part of rebuilding New Orleans caused residents often to be challenged with the task of tracing home titles back potentially hundreds of years.

With a community rich with history stretching back over two centuries, houses have been passed along through generations of family, sometimes making it quite difficult to establish ownership. Here's a great letter an attorney wrote to the FHA on behalf of a client:

You have to love this lawyer........

A New Orleans lawyer sought an FHA loan for a client. He was told the loan would be granted if he could prove satisfactory title to a parcel of property being offered as collateral. The title to the property dated back to 1803, which took the lawyer three months to track down.

After sending the information to the FHA, he received the following reply:

(actual reply from FHA):

"Upon review of your letter adjoining your client's loan application, we note that the request is supported by an Abstract of Title.

While we compliment the able manner in which you have prepared and presented the application, we must point out that you have only cleared title to the proposed collateral property back to 1803. Before final approval can be accorded, it will be necessary to clear the title back to its origin."

Annoyed, the lawyer responded as follows:

"Your letter regarding title in Case No.189156 has been received. I note that you wish to have title extended further than the 206 years covered by the present application. I was unaware that any educated person in this country, particularly those working in the property area, would not know that Louisiana was purchased by the United States from France in 1803, the year of origin identified in our application. For the edification of uninformed FHA bureaucrats, the title to the land prior to U.S. ownership was obtained from France , which had acquired it by Right of Conquest from Spain. The land came into the possession of Spain by Right of Discovery made in the year 1492 by a sea captain named Christopher Columbus, who had been granted the privilege of seeking a new route to India by the Spanish monarch, Queen Isabella. The good Queen Isabella, being a pious woman and almost as careful about titles as the FHA, took the precaution of securing the blessing of the Pope before she sold her jewels to finance Columbus 's expedition. Now the Pope, as I'm sure you may know, is the emissary of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and God, it is commonly accepted, created this world. Therefore, I believe it is safe to presume that God also made that part of the world called Louisiana . God, therefore, would be the owner of origin and His origins date back to before the beginning of time, the world as we know it, and the FHA. I hope you find God's original claim to be satisfactory.

Now, may we have our damn loan?"

The loan was immediately approved.

Yeah, yeah, I know it ain't true. But it darn well could have been!

It just doesn't pay to make us cranky. Now don't ever say you haven't been warned!

Sunday, July 4, 2010


It's not fair, just not fair, I tell ya. Here it was, my chance to be RICH. RICH, I tell ya.

And I'm excluded on the basis of what ... was there something, perchance, that I've done wrong? Did I err in some way?

No. No. I'm excluded on the basis of ... wait for it ... Geography!
In re Consolidated Litigation, Case No. 09-cv-0045-RAJ



The purpose of this Notice is to inform you that a proposed settlement (the "Settlement") has been reached in the consolidated class action lawsuit entitled In re Consolidated Litigation, United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, Case No. 09-cv-0045-RAJ (the "Litigation"). This Notice explains the Litigation, the Settlement, your legal rights, the injunctive relief being offered through the Settlement, what additional benefits are available, who is eligible for them, and how to get benefits if you are eligible.

In this Litigation, Plaintiffs assert class action claims against Classmates Online, Inc., Classmates Media Corporation, and United Online, Inc. ("Defendants"). Complaints filed in the action allege, among other things, that Defendants sent email messages to subscribers of that were in violation of the law and engaged in conduct that had the potential to violate w users’ privacy rights. Defendants have denied and continue to deny Plaintiffs’ allegations and maintain that Defendants have not engaged in any wrongful
conduct. Defendants also contend that the Litigation is not suitable for class action treatment. Defendants have nevertheless concluded that it is in their best interests that this Litigation be resolved subject to and on the terms and conditions set forth in the Settlement Agreement.

This Settlement is the result of arm’s-length negotiations between Plaintiffs in the Litigation, individually and on behalf of the Settlement Class and Settlement Subclass, and Defendants. Both sides agree that, in light of the risks and expenses associated with continued litigation, this Settlement is fair and appropriate under the circumstances. Plaintiffs further believe that this Settlement is in the best interests of the Settlement Class and Settlement Subclass. Please be advised that the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington has not ruled on the merits of Plaintiffs’ claims or Defendants’ defenses and, therefore, you should not make any assumptions about the strengths or weaknesses of the claims or defenses in the Litigation.

For settlement purposes, the parties have stipulated to the certification of a Settlement Class and a Settlement Subclass, as defined below.

"Settlement Class"
All Persons, excluding Settlement Subclass members, residing in the United States who were registered with or subscribed to w at any time between October 30, 2004 and April 19, 2010.

"Settlement Subclass"
All Persons residing in the United States who registered with or subscribed to between January 1, 2007 and April 19, 2010, and who paid for a Gold Membership subscription to w (and did not previously receive a refund of such payment) as a result of:

Upgrading to a Gold Membership through the process on of seeking to see who visited their Guestbook; or Upgrading to a Gold Membership after clicking on a link to in a Guestbook email, or Connections email that included a Guestbook subject line, and upgrading to a Gold Membership within the same session activated by clicking on that link or within the same day of clicking on that link; or Upgrading to a Gold Membership within the same day of receiving a Guestbook email or Connections email that included a Guestbook subject line.

You are receiving this Notice because you have been identified from Defendants’ records as a potential Settlement Class member. According to Defendants’ records, you do not appear to be a Settlement Subclass member. There is no overlap between the membership of the Settlement Class and the Settlement Subclass. If you have any questions regarding your claim, please contact the Settlement Administrator at the address listed in Section 5 below.

In addition to injunctive relief, as a Settlement Class member, if you do not exclude yourself from the Settlement and if you timely submit a Valid Claim Form, you are entitled to receive a credit of $2.00 off of the purchase or renewal of a Gold Membership. Under the Settlement Agreement, Settlement Subclass members are entitled to receive either a cash payment of $3.00 or a credit of $2.00 off of the purchase or renewal of a w Gold Membership.

In addition to its cash and credit components, the Settlement also provides, on a non-opt out basis, for Defendants to provide injunctive relief to all Settlement Class and Settlement Subclass members. A description of the injunctive relief that Defendants are providing is set forth at the following website:

To receive a credit of $2.00 off of the purchase or renewal of a w Gold Membership as a Settlement Class member, you must fit the description of a Settlement Class member and timely send a Valid Claim Form to the Settlement Administrator.

You can read the rest of it here.

But just remember who sent you on the journey towards your new-found riches.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


[One of the] Stupidest Comment[s] Ever

I read the following comment on a blog today:
Public school is cracked and failing. It is basically a socialist program - maybe even communist since they try to keep all students on the same standard. Teachers so fear being sued that they have lost their purpose. They can make a student memorize some horrible poem that no one would agree with or enjoy. They can make students learn about all sorts of religions and cultures so that students will be tolerant of others. But they won't teach about Christianity or anything to do with their own culture/American patriotism for fear of stepping on toes. Definitely cracked!
Now don't get me wrong, I think the commentor makes a few valid points about public schools. I am far from suggesting that they are places of utopia with no problems to be found. They have many issues. Period. Full stop.

But, please.
... It is basically a socialist program - maybe even communist since they try to keep all students on the same standard.
You know, that's so far beyond the pale that I can't even begin to formulate a response to it.

~ shakes head and walks away ~