Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Udderly In Love With The Senior Citizens

I love old people.

The other day the Men's Choir from our church entertained the residents at the Gateway Senior Community in Euclid.

About an hour before we began, I had the idea of dramatizing the latest addition to our repertoire, GRANDMA GOT RUN OVER BY A REINDEER.

Just a few days shy of Christmas, reindeer outfits were not to be found. The clerk at the costume shop said the only animal available was a dairy cow.

So it was with apprehension that we enacted the tune GRANDMA GOT RUN OVER BY ELSIE THE COW.

My brother dressed up as Borden's favorite bovine, udders prominent and well, you get the whole ridiculous picture.

Few audiences would have known how to respond to such bizarre theater.

Except for this audience.

These folks, average age around eighty-eight, loved it, laughing uproariously.

It was a grand time in the Gateway Social hall that night, walkers banging against the floor in rhythm to the music.

The Men's Choir was enveloped by a collective hug of warmth and appreciation despite Rudolph being replaced by the Great Guernsey.

Only a group of senior citizens would have had the goodwill and sense of humor to let us get away with a gag like that.

That's why I love old people.

I also love them because they tell it like it is.

Perhaps for them, the life left is too short to beat around the bush wasting time dressing up the truth.

Give it to 'em straight.

A famous Catholic preacher told the true story of an old woman who listened to a rather liberal Jesuit proclaiming that modern theology viewed hell as a fiction.

"You don't believe in hell?", she asked incredulously.

"I most certainly do not, madam", he replied.

She looked him right in the eye and said, "You will when you get there."

We called my mother's father "Gran" and we loved to listen to his stories of what Mom was like growing up.

He played piano with superb chord structure up until the day he passed away, despite his loss of sight years previous.

He trained us kids to be Chocaholics like him, always in search of new ways to incorporate the taste of a Hershey bar into a recipe.

He was the oldest person I knew and he embodied fun.

The Chinese revere oldsters. They value their wisdom and experience.

I value their joy.

So should you.

Besides, who else would appreciate the fact that you can't get milk from a reindeer?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Urgent: Read This If You Use A Computer

                Metadata scares the living daylights out of me.

                Metadata is something that's been around for a long time but which has only recently come to the attention of the mainstream media and the public in general.

                Metadata is information encrypted in every document that you prepare using a computer.

    So far so good.

                This  encrypted information is forever  attached like superglue to the document you prepared and it includes everything that may have been included in that writing before it was finalized to your satisfaction.

                When you send that document to another person by way of e-mail or any other form of digital transfer, your Metadata goes along for the ride and you don't even know it.

    Enter the miners.

                Using special  software, those receiving your electronic mail can "mine" the Metadata.

                The recipient can re-create every single keystroke you entered in the preparation of your document and therefore will have access to all of the earlier versions of your written conveyance.

                If you are accustomed to placing comments in the margin of documents for private limited circulation prior to final draft, your confidential remarks can now be viewed by those to whom you are sending the final document.

                Imagine the nasty e-mail prepared in the heat of the moment that you edit before you hit the send key. You were relieved that you allowed yourself to cool off and remove the offensive diatribe prior to sending that message.

                The object of your erased anger learns what you originally intended to say by mining the Metadata.


    In case you doubt whether this  sort of thing really happens, read on.

    When President Bush nominated Sam Alito to the  Supreme Court, his nomination was placed in doubt because of an anonymous and damaging anti-Alito memorandum that made its way into the offices of members of     the     United     States Senate.

                 Mining the Metadata allowed Senate staffers to determine that the memorandum was actually prepared and sent by members of the Democratic National Committee. Oops.

                 Here's another one.  In 2005 Great Britain's Home Secretary sent an e-mail showing his support for anti-terrorism legislation.

                Some sophisticated mining of the Metadata showed that this English politician actually harbored early doubts about the legislation which were omitted in his final draft.

                The situation is so serious that the American Bar Association has actually suggested that the best way to communicate is simply by producing a hard copy of all documents and then sending them through the United States mail using that ancient object called a postage stamp.

                The Postmaster General of the United States, faced with  e-mails   cutting  into his revenue,  is doing cartwheels.

                So stock up on your stationery and invest in a few thousand "Forever" stamps.

                Your Metadata is following you.

                Leave it behind and together we'll save the Post Office.

                 And perhaps your reputation.   

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Scientists Looking For Love in All the Wrong Places

                News from the science world recently fought its way into the headlines of newspapers all across the country with the announcement that scientists were close to identifying the "God particle". 

                Guido Tonelli, spokesman for the European Center for Nuclear Research   in Switzerland, said the evidence of such a particle was there in their findings.

                For lay people, the God particle is defined as a sub-atomic particle whose presence allows other particles to join together to form an accumulation of mass.

                In other words, the God particle would explain how things or objects came into existence at the beginning of time.

                Scientists have for years been searching for an explanation of the force that caused randomly wandering subatomic particles to conglomerate into objects instead of just bouncing around the cosmos in their sub-atomic state.

                The God particle would therefore help to provide a scientific explanation for creation itself.

                Except for one problem: they can't find it.

                What they have been able to prove is that since subatomic particles have no intelligence of their own, something must have been present leading to an organized plan generating material things and living things.

                It seems to me that these God particle scientists in Geneva have merely proven something that surveys show most of us believe in: God.

Many years ago a scientist by the name of Duncan McDougall used science to prove the existence of the soul. His scientific experiments proved that a human body, upon death, becomes slightly lighter in weight at the moment of expiration.

Dr. McDougall pronounced his data as proof that we all have a soul that departs at the end of our life.

                What bothers me is the danger that many will rely on these limited tools of science in order to reach conclusions about the existence of God and the spiritual nature of mankind.

Tumors disappear without explanation frequently after families and friends petition God through their prayers.

Doctors are often left dumbfounded when patients awake from a coma with normal intellectual capacity after an MRI previously demonstrated that the individual had no brain function.

                In Canton Ohio you can visit the home of Rhoda Weiss, where you can see the hundreds of photographs and blood stained garments showing the stigmata she endured for many years as a way of uniting herself with the suffering of Jesus.

                My point is that you don't have to go very far to find evidence of God.

                Have you ever seen a newborn baby?

So while the scientific community is spending millions of dollars at a research institute in Europe, I humbly posit that these learned men and women are, like the song says, looking for love in all the wrong places.

The God particle is inside every single one of us if we would just listen to God's call to be more like him and let the divine within us shine through.

In a soup kitchen somewhere tonight God will manifest himself in acts of kindness shown to a lonely old woman who thought that no one cared for her. The God particle is there.

Just like it was in the manger 2000 years ago, surrounded by oxen and sheep and the mother and father who didn't need Guido Tonelli to tell them that God might exist.

You don't need Guido either.

Do you?


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Man Made Machine Might Corrupt Justice

Let me begin by saying that drunk drivers must be punished as a deterrent to ensure that we keep our highways safe for the rest of us.


But do you believe that it's okay to convict otherwise innocent drivers of this politically incorrect crime?


Welcome to the modern age of DUI prosecution in the Buckeye state.


Ohio recently spent over $6 million to install brand-new portable breath testing devices at police departments throughout the state.


The Ohio Department of Health has determined that the Intoxilyzer 8000  be the only alcohol testing machine used throughout our state in order to provide uniformity in the treatment of those suspected of driving while impaired.


Here's the problem.


It turns out that the Intoxilyzer 8000  is a piece of junk.

The state of Minnesota sued the manufacturer of the Intoxilyzer 8000    because the machine's  creator refused to disclose its software source code  to  allow the state to properly evaluate the accuracy of this device.


In Florida, DUI cases are thrown out on a regular basis due to the inaccuracy of the test results from the Intoxilyzer 8000. The state of Arizona has experienced the same miserable results.


In the state of Tennessee,  a task force determined that the Intoxilyzer 8000   did not yield satisfactory results to determine blood alcohol levels. Tennessee won't touch this Rube Goldberg product.


Right here in Ohio Municipal Court Judge Gary  Dumm ruled that test results from the Intoxilyzer 8000   will not be admitted in his court until the State of Ohio can present scientific proof of its reliability.

 Athens County Judge William Grimm  also expressed concerns about the way that smart phone and radio interference distorts the accuracy of  Intoxilyzer 8000   readouts.


As if this were not bad enough, the Ohio Department of Health recently expressed in  its own website that "no warranties, expressed or implied, concerning the accuracy, reliability or suitability" of data obtained from the Intoxilyzer 8000   can be made by the State of Ohio.

If the state of Ohio is unwilling to rely on the Intoxilyzer 8000  results, should they be sufficient to send you or a loved one to jail?


Here's the real kicker.


When the Ohio Department of Health was in the process of choosing a new testing device for purchase by the taxpayers, Dean Ward served as the head of the Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Testing for the State of Ohio.

 Mr.  Ward recommended the Intoxilyzer 8000   and millions of taxpayer dollars were expended for the purchase of these useless machines.


The manufacturer, a company called CMI  in Owensboro,  Kentucky was very happy to win the Ohio contract.


Dean Ward then left his job at the Ohio Department of Health and 13 months later found a terrific new position in the private sector.


His new employer?


You guessed it. Dean Ward is the new  Director of East Coast Sales for CMI.

Now I must disclose that as a lawyer I have both prosecuted and defended DUI cases.

I want our streets to be safe from people that turn automobiles into weapons of mass destruction when they get behind the wheel having had one too many.


But we can never accept the idea that justice must be sacrificed at the altar of technology so flawed that entire states and municipal courts refuse to accept the results of that technology.


Especially when that technology has been chosen from a process tainted by the implication of corruption.

Have another cup of black coffee, Ohio.

By the time we learn the whole truth regarding this controversy, you're gonna have a hangover.

Or at least Dean Ward has a machine that says you will.