when someone tells you who he is, believe him

The consort of the Dark Goddess has always provided health insurance coverage for the family. As the health insurance industry has changed, so too have the vehicles by which our coverage has been provided.

I recall a time in the late 1990's when HMOs were all the rage, so we dutifully signed up for one. I wish I could remember the organization, because I would definitely name it and shame it here (I might be able to glean that data from my Big Book o' Medrecs, come to think of it). I do know it wasn't Group Health, which I regard as sui generis in any event.

The very first action of this HMO was to send us a lovely gift: a hefty paperback titled Take Care of Yourself: The Complete Illustrated Guide to Medical Self-Care. It didn't actually have the words And Leave Us Alone printed on the front cover, but it might as well have.

I see from amazon.com that this book went through at least nine editions through 2009, and there are hundreds copies available for a penny each, so sending this book as a "benefit" to HMOs must have been a pretty common practice.

I do wonder still about the thought process of the HMO marketing maven that led to the conclusion that sending a book like this would be a good introduction to the HMO. On the other hand, it has the rare virtue of representing truth in advertising.

 When an institution tells you what it is, believe it.


brief means brief

Oh, come on now. 104 issues raised on appeal? If you can't win your case on the first 103 issues, why raise the 104th?

Seriously, if you can't win on the first four issues, I don't think the additional hundred will help at all.


Service Snakes

This has to be one of the funniest opinions I have ever read. God bless him, the trial judge played it perfectly straight.

The hapless plaintiffs had two problems:
(1) they wanted to use medical marijuana in federally-subsidized housing. True, Washington has a law created by initiative that provides an affirmative defense to prosecution under state law, but use of marijuana is still illegal under federal law;
(2) more entertainingly, they wanted to claim that their snakes were "service animals [sic]" under the ADA.

OK, what's wrong with this picture? Leaving aside the fact that a reptile is not, by definition, an "animal," the animal has to be individually trained to do work or perform similar tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. The guy's physician actually only stated that he suffered from depression and the snakes were his "therapy pets." (Right before he wrote him a recommendation for medical marijuana.)

Now, I imagine you could train a bird to ask, "How do you feel about that," but a snake? After all, they speak with forked tongues. The case law is pretty clear that an owner's deriving comfort from an animal is not enough to qualify that animal as a service animal for ADA purposes. The animal/reptile has to have special training. Here the plaintiff lost because he was unable to show that he trained the snakes to perform specific tasks or that they had any other unique qualities.

You get more of a sense of what this guy must have been like as a tenant from the dry notation in the facts that he "claimed an unlimited right to carry the snakes around with him, including when he paid his rent."


grandfathered in, or perhaps grandmothered

The Washington state legislature enacted HB 1592, effective last summer, ending the formation of new corporations sole. Existing corporations sole are--for now--continued to exist.

HB 1592 also enacted an annual report requirement and imposed a $10 annual fee. Clearly, the legislature doesn't like corporations sole much, although I believe the behavior of mine has been exemplary. The House bill report noted:
The bill requires corporations sole to file an annual report with the [Secretary of State] and pay an annual filing fee, which is consistent with the requirements of non-profit corporations. Many illegitimate corporations sole will not be able to file annually because they provide false addresses. Washington is one of 15 states that allow corporations sole registrations. Oregon and Idaho recently prohibited the formation of corporations sole. Washington is on the Internal Revenue Service's radar for fraudulent corporations sole registrations. Disallowing further registrations will prevent new fraud. Between 1861 and 1990 there were a total of 82 corporations sole. As of today there are more than 4,000 corporations sole [in the state of Washington? Nationwide? Worldwide?]. The [Secretary of State] estimates that only a quarter of corporations sole are legitimate.

The annual report, alas, doesn't give me much room to exercise creativity, only asking for name, place of business, and signature of the bishop, overseer or presiding elder. That would be me.


the gauntlet is thrown

This judge needs to Get Over It. Or perhaps Rise Above It.


"game of lighter fluid tag ends badly"

Really, the headline tells you all you need to know, but the rest of the article is here.

How else could a game of lighter fluid tag possibly end?



Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Scott Silverman declared a mistrial in a civil fraud case Wednesday after being informed a witness on the stand in his courtroom had engaged in text-messaging while the judge spoke with attorneys during a sidebar conference. The dispute is over the sale of condo tower in North Miami Beach.

While the judge and attorneys conferred, a courtroom spectator passed a note to a defense attorney saying the witness, Sky Development chief operating officer Gavin Sussman, appeared to be text-messaging Sky chief executive Yizhak Toledano at the plaintiff table.

Yup, he was texting about his testimony.

This was a really, really bad idea.


never heard of this one!

New York preserves a "unique" cause of action for loss of right of sepulchre, or the immediate right to bury your own loved ones.

It is a sad case, and one that I would have bet money would not succeed. The hospital, however, argued that the claim was time-barred, and the A.D. held (quite sensibly) that the plaintiff's injury did not occur until he became aware that his brother had died and was buried in a potter's field (another fine old term). I am fascinated by the discussion in the case. Melfi v. Mount Sinai Hospital, 122974/02 (A.D. First Department, April 28, 2009).


why i think twitter is stupid

How to lose a job with one tweet. It's not even that I think the applicant is "stupid" (naive, unwise, yes). The very application lends itself to this kind of unguarded naivete.


virtual buddha machine

I have no explanation for why I love the Buddha Machine so much. I don't even own a physical one yet, either release 1.0 or 2.0, although I come pretty close with looping the tracks on my Zune. I like the idea of having something that is like a cheap transistor radio, not the sleeker-than-sleek Zune. But I am utterly fascinated by the wall of Buddha Machines. When I get all 21 going at once I feel like a meditative Phil Spector (a contradiction in terms, that). It sounds really cool. And as much as I like the Buddha Machine I'm not going to purchase 21 physical units.

ETA: I put a Buddha Machine as a widget on this very blog. Now how about that.


how does it DO that?

It's a standard feature of social networking sites that they offer you suggested new connections based on the connections you already have.

LinkedIn is starting to freak me out. It has suggested to me several out-of-state individuals to whom I have no openly-discernable connection but who are, in fact, actual clients of mine. Who might not want that broadcast on a social networking site.

How does LinkedIn know?


holding my breath

One of the biggest mental shifts that I've had to make over the years as I think about computers--which I do a lot--is learning how to think about networks. Way back in the day--and I mean waaaay back in the day--my law firm put a box on my desk (it was a 286! w00t!), connected it to a network, and that was it. It ran or it didn't, and no one ever explained why to me. This was a big firm.

Twenty-one years later, my main business machine is a laptop (my beloved Thinkpad T61, still a classic) that travels largely between the wired network at my office over which I have some control, and a wireless network at my house over which I have complete control. It also trundles around from time to time to hook up with public networks from SeaTac to Aruba and parts in between (I'm particularly fond of the wireless network at the Satellite Cafe in Albuquerque, New Mexico).

I've always been able to make the laptop's connections work. But. In doing a little end-of-the-month maintenance on my system this morning, I focused for the first time that I have the following software running simultaneously on my Thinkpad:

(1) The Windows Vista Network and Sharing Center (part of the OS AFAICT);
(2) Lenovo's Access Connections (which has always worked really well); and
(3) Network Magic, which I used to set up my Rube Goldberg system at home that links a Win XP Home machine, a Windows 7 beta machine, a Windows 2000 machine, an XBox 360, a Zune, and, from time to time, my laptop (Vista Business SP 2 beta RC).

Now, I still know next-to-nothing about networks. How is it that I have been able to persuade these three pieces of software to peacefully coexist (and to split infinitives)? Is it time for dialectical bootstrapping?

I'm holding my breath.


data rot

New nomenclature, old concept. Along with global warming, something else to worry about.