Monthly Archives: March 2005

Rest in Peace, Teresa Marie

Those who wanted you dead have gotten their way.

It’s between them and God now.

Those are my last words on the matter, until He has the Final Word.

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050330: More on the Terri Schiavo case.

  • In 1992, after Terri's collapse, Michael Schiavo sued for medical malpractice. Under civil law, the longer Terri was expected to live, the larger the verdict would probably be. This fact of legal life could explain why Michael presented evidence to the malpractice jury not only that Terri would likely live a normal life span but also that he intended to be a good and loyal husband and care for her for the rest of his life.
  • Michael Schiavo, in 1993, swore in testimony that he would use any malpractice funds to take care of his wife. At the same time he was planning to move in with another woman. After winning 1.2 million dollars, he conveniently decided that Terri was not treatable, and really "would not want to live this way". And after which, declined to spend money on her care and treatment. She receives public assistance to pay for her hospice care.
  • Terri's part of the settlement money has been used to pay for attorneys to make her dead, instead of therapists to make her better. According to court records, George Felos has been paid over $350,000 from Terri's trust fund. Another of Schiavo's attorneys, Debra Bushnell, has received about $90,000. These two lawyers alone have received more than half of Terri's entire trust.
  • Judge Greer accepted as the basis of his rulings, the testimony of Michael Schiavo that Terri would wish to be die, yet Michael never stated this until he had received the 1.2 million dollar settlement.
  • Judge Greer is on the Board of Directors for Ms. Schiavo's Hospice
  • So is George Felos, Michael Schiavo's Attorney.
  • Attorney Felos happens to be Director of Florida Right to Die and has testified that he can ascertain a person's desire to die by "looking into their eyes and letting their spirit speak directly to him".
  • The Hospice has been collecting Medicaid/Medicare for her care even though she was never diagnosed as a "terminal" patient. Being diagnosed as "terminal" is a stipulation in order to collect public monies for a hospice patient.
  • Michael Schiavo has prevented Terri from undergoing a barium swallow test, a procedure necessary to ascertain the consistency of foods able to be taken by mouth.
  • According to court records, when Schiavo began his quest to pull Terri's feeding tube in 1998, she had more than $700,000 in the bank. This was primarily because Schiavo generally refused to authorize payments for any nursing home services on Terri's behalf beyond the basics of room and board. Thus, only about $50,000 was paid on her behalf in the five years following the jury verdict. Since 1998, about $650,000 (not taking into account any earnings from the fund) has gone out–not for therapy, but primarily for lawyers.
  • Michael Schiavo told Larry King that his falling out with his father-in-law occurred in February 1993, when Schindler demanded a share of the proceeds in Terri's trust fund. But Schindler and his wife Mary tell a different story. They claim that the argument was over their insistence that the long-suspended rehabilitation recommence, since there was finally money available to pay for it. They contend that the breach of relationship occurred because Schiavo refused. The behavior of both parties since seems much more consistent with this story than with Schiavo's version of events.
  • For five years, Michael Schiavo hasn't been paying for her care at all, the taxpayers have.
  • The Hospice is under suit for billing medicare for non-terminal patients.
  • A previous Guardian Ad Litem in the case, Richard L. Pearse, was fired by Judge George Greer at the behest of Attorney George Felos because Pearse had reported that there were conflicts of interests involved in the case on the side of Michael Schiavo's hearsay evidence that Terri would not want to live artificially, etc.
  • 40% of PVS diagnoses are wrong.
  • The last time Terri had a CT scan was in 1996. NO CT scans were done after 1996.
  • PET and MRI are indicated if you want to be 1000% sure before you kill somebody.

This is a letter written by Kathleen to the St. Petersburg Times

Dear Mr. Levesque,

I am sure that you wrote your article on Theresa Marie Schindler Schiavo in what you believed was the truth. However, I can stay quiet no longer.

It is a proven fact that Mr. Schiavo had at least one affair and fathered an illegitimate child while still married to Terri before she was injured. He is paying child support.

Since her injuries, it is also a proven fact that he has been with numerous women one with whom he now has one child with another on the way.

No one has investigated nor seems to even care that the night that this happened to Terri they had had a huge fight. She had confided to family members and friends that he had become abusive and controlling. She was advised not to go home that night but to spend the night with a girlfriend but she went home. Hours later he called Bob Schindler saying Terri was on the floor hurt. He did not call 911 first.

There are medical records that sustain the fact that Terri suffered multiple broken bones that night and came to the hospital with a rigid neck. I have all that info if you are interested and would be happy to send to you.

To say that Mr. Schiavo loves Terri is nonsense. He lost the ability to say "my wife" with any credence a very long time ago.

I wish that just one person would print the truth about this guy. I truly believe that the only reason he wants her dead so much is because he never wants her to come out of this and point the finger at him for battering her almost to death. He wants to finish what he started that night.

You probably won't investigate any of this. No one seems to care what happened to Terri but at least I know I have tried.

Sincerely, Kathleen Walker
St. Petersburg, Fl.

Opinion: Terri Schiavo

As I write this, Terri Schiavo lies dying.

This issue has divided the entire country, mainly along religious and political lines. On one side are the Courts and Terry’s “husband”, Michael Schiavo, on the other is the President and the Congress.

When I first heard this story I was with the former group – I thought that Terri should be allowed to die with dignity. Now I’m not so sure.

That is not to say that I think that she should live, but that we do not have enough information to make a clear-headed decision. he facts of the case as presented by the media are:

  • Terri is brain-dead – in a persistent vegetative state (PVS).
  • She does not want to live this way.
  • Her husband is fighting for her right to die.

If these were the facts of the case, I would say that she should die. However, none of these facts are beyond dispute. Mr. Schiavo and the courts have consistently blocked every effort to have CT and PET scans done that would definitively state whether or not she is brain-dead.I am not a proponent of Government intervention, but it is obvious to me that the Court system screwed up big-time on this one. Not in their decision, but in their disinterestedness in finding out the facts and considering the sources.

Perhaps the biggest area of contention – at least in my mind is Michael Schiavo, Terri’s “husband”. He has been engaged to Cyndi Centonze since 1997, and has fathered children with her.

Mr Schiavo also has a long documented history of refusing recommended treatment for Terri.

  • He has repeatedly withheld medical information from her parents and the media – not a crime, but certainly highly suspect.
  • His statement that Terri “wished to die” was not made until 1997 – coincidentally around the time he became “engaged to Cyndi.
  • Cyndi is on record as saying that this was a lie, but the Judge refused to hear it (how do they do that).

This man is therefore a bigamist and a documented liar – and Terri is being starved to death based solely on his hearsay.To put it bluntly, I contend that by definition he no longer has her best interest at heart. Indeed, his consistent refusal to give her treatment would be considered criminal if you or I did it to a sick dog.

Maybe Terri should be allowed to die… but shouldn’t we get the facts first?

Smart… very smart

In the BMW museum in Munich there is a car that carried four people and did 30mpg.

It was built in 1938.

Nearly seventy years later we have cars that… er… carry four people and do 30mpg.

So what went wrong?

Well, every time the engineers figures out a way to squeeze a little more power out of a given engine, the marketing boys make the vehicle a little bit bigger.

We simply don’t like small cars… or at least we didn’t; now that gas is over $2/Gal thanks to OPEC.

Introducing the Smart Car. It’s small (seats only two), it’s light, it’s kinda ugly, it’s cheap, and it’s… small. It has a tiny three-cylinder 57HP turbocharged engine, Electronic Stability Control.

Oh, and it does 60+ miles per gallon.

Did I mention that it’s small?

It’s a big hit over in “Yoorup”, where petrol is expensive and small cars are the norm, but it will never catch on over here… or will it? Let’s face it; here in America we love BIG cars, BIG trucks and HONKING great SUVs. We like our metal plentiful and heavy, as we equate weight with safety. We give lip service to fuel economy, but our purchasing decisions show that we really don’t care about either the environment or about gas prices.

Yes, the Smart Car looks silly, but then so did those Japanese econoboxes back in 1975.

It may not be long until they are over here.

The Invasion has begun.

Oh, and I want a Roadster 🙂

Opinion: Why the RIAA must change or die

It seems that not a week goes by without a report of some poor sod getting sued to within an inch of their life by the RIAA. Here's my take on the whole sorry situation…

File copying is NOT theft
Contrary to what the RIAA's PR machine would have us believe, the act of copying music is not automatically theft. By a legal definition of the word, no form of digital copying can be considered "theft" – if someone breaks into your house and photographs everything within, has anything been stolen? Of course not. Similarly, if no loss has occurred, no theft has occurred. In this hypothetical and highly improbable case, other crimes – such as breaking & entering – have undoubtedly occurred, but there has been no theft. In the case of illegal copying, there may have been a breach of copyright… but there has been no theft.

It's MY music
If I bought it and paid for it, any attempt to control where, when or how often I can listen to it will meet with vehement opposition. If you use technology to "lockdown" the music to my MP3 player, which subsequently breaks or is stolen, will you replace the music? I thought not…

More laws won't help
It seems like every time there is another school shooting, we run around looking for a law to prevent another one from happening. Trouble is, the perpetrators were already breaking lots of laws to start with – do we really expect them to obey a new one? One solution that is more likely to work is to have armed guards in schools – or better, arm the teachers – but I digress…

Faced with the prospect of easy copying and sharing of music, the RIAA did what any large industry organization would do – they lobbied Congress for special-interest legislation just for them. What came out of this exercise was the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) – one of the most draconian pieces of legislation ever to come out of Washington DC. This law gave the RIAA blatantly unconstitutional powers of search and seizure, turned misdemeanors into felonies and effectively gave them "Secret Police" status and carte blanche to conduct electronic searches without a warrant.

Their attempts to secure a conviction under the DMCA met with repeated drubbings in court. The first successful prosecution under the DMCA had nothing to do with file copying – the fellow who been pirating Satellite TV SIM cards – a crime that was amply covered under other laws, such as fraud, forgery and common theft, and for which the DMCA was neither intended nor necessary to secure a conviction.

Technological safeguards won't work
One reason that the RIAA has refrained from embracing file distribution as a sales medium is that they are waiting for Digital Rights Management (DRM), which will allow them to "lock" and "tag" electronic files so that they can restrict where and when those files can be played.

DRM sounds like a great idea, only… it doesn't work. No matter how much you lock down the technology, somewhere along the line there will be a signal that can be captured, digitized and copied. There's no such thing as an unbreakable lock. To counter this, the DMCA makes it a felony to break or even examine such locks. Making, disseminating or even discussing lock-picks can land you in jail. Want to take a copy of your bought-and-paid-for music to play in the car? See you in jail.

Not every pirated copy is a lost sale
When I was a kid, I used to tape off the radio and buy singles… because that was all I could afford. As I got older and could afford albums I became a customer. The music business knew about home taping, but knew that if they started taking legal action, not only would they make no additional sales, but would put people off buying their products in the future.

Today, the music business is older but far less wise; they actually believe that suing their current and future customers – some as young as twelve years old – is a good thing. They also think that file-sharing accounts for so many lost sales that is it reasonable to sue for $150,000 per song. I disagree – there is clear evidence that the slump in sales is due to far more than piracy and that downloaded music can result in increased sales through exposure to new music. Suing your customers, on the other hand, is a great way to guarantee lost sales; not just from the miscreant, but their friends and, thanks to the Internet, thousands of others who hear about it. The logical end result will be a generation that thinks that the RIAA are a bunch of greedy thieves (they're right – but that's another story) who do not deserve to remain in business. What will happen when that generation hits their twenties and starts buying music? They won't. While the RIAA may hold the legal high ground they are only shooting themselves in the foot.

Give me less and charge me more? No thanks
The music business seems to think that ninety-nine cents is a reasonable amount to pay for a song. Sounds like a good deal? I don't think so…Downloading twenty songs and burning them onto a CD will cost me more than the cost of buying a CD at retail prices, with no CD production or distribution costs – and most people (and the courts!) agree that music CDs are overpriced. Of course the music business will push the instant-gratification angle as an added-value extra, but those of us who are not impulsive don't care – I've never rented a pay-per-view movie either, so trying to up-sell me on convenience does not work.

Consider the source
The RIAA has a long and distinguished history of trying to stamp out anything that represented a threat to their cashflow, including the Compact Cassette, FM radio and rewritable CDs. In all of these cases, not only did they fail to wipe out the threat, but they later found a way to make money out of the "problem". The file-copying issue is no different.

In conclusion, as one netizen so succinctly put it "this ain't Pokemon – you can't catch 'em all"

Rumbled!

Like many of the Big-box electronic merchants, CompUSA sells a lot of goods with mail-in rebates, which allows them to advertise low prices while getting all their money and leaving the customer to jump- through hoops.

How do they make this work? By subcontracting the rebate fulfilment to firms who have a financial interest in denying as many rebates as posssible. Result: Disgruntled customers complained and took the retailer to court, where the judges were apparently not very impressed by their "it's not our problem" defense and ordered them to make things right.

Naturally, the lawyers make out like bandits.

Personally, I have not had any problem with them… but then I keep copies ot everything I send and track dates in a spreadsheet. Check out my guide to rebates for more information.

Opinion: It’s MY data.

Congress wants to pass a law that would "require businesses to tell customers immediately if they believe that customer data has been compromised." This is as a result of several well and not-so-well publicized thefts of personal data, such as the Choicepoint scandal.

Unfortunately, the proposed law, while a good idea, will not solve the problem. The data from Choicepoint was not stolen – it was sold. Most of the people affected did not know that Choicepoint had their data, if they had even heard of the company.

From Bruce Schneier: The hundreds of millions of people in ChoicePoint's databases are not ChoicePoint's customers. They have no power to switch credit agencies. They have no economic pressure that they can bring to bear on the problem. Maybe they should rename the company "NoChoicePoint."What I would like to see here is the introduction of a mandatory -plain-English privacy policy that states what data is collected, who collects it, who stores it, who owns it. To whom they can pass it on, and what toll-free number you can call to have it corrected, changed or removed.

The fundamental question here is one of data ownership – who owns your data.

Big business – and Government – wants to be able to collect, store and sell your data without your permission. Your data is their asset, and in my book that is just plain wrong.

Sadly, as long as these guys are plying our representatives with bribes – sorry, campaign finance contributions – nothing will change.

Security firm accused of cheating on SFO test

Interesting and disturbing story for a variety of reasons.

  1. This would not have become public if the firm providing airport security had not demoted and dismissed an employee who complained about "cheating" on tests.
  2. Even with prior warning, catching 90% of contraband is considered a "passing" grade.
  3. Can somebody tell me how you smuggle a chainsaw through airport security?

Your tax dollars at work… yet more proof that airport security, like copy protection, simply does not work.

Here's another example: A bad guy was recently detained and fined $7.50 for trying to "sneak a pocket knife through airport security". Who was that masked man?

Was he a Terrorist?

No.

A hijacker?

Nope.

A Pennsylvania Supreme Court judge?

Yep, that's him.

Book Look: Your Marketing Sucks, by Mark Stevens

I consider myself to be a Geek (when a capital G – according to this test, I am a “supergeek” whatever that is). As such, I have what I consider to be a healthy disrespect for those I consider “marketing types”. That is not to say that they are useless, but I feel that they are, as a breed, a little too full of themselves. I am pretty sure that the antipathy is mutual, and I am ok with that.

Perhaps the biggest reason that geeks dislike marketing types is because geeks stand for truth – the facts, the data, the provable – while marketing types tend to deal in sentiment, desire and psychology.From my standpoint, geeks make the products that the guys and girls in marketing have to sell… and yet a VP of Marketing invariably has a bigger salary and more clout than, for instance, a VP of engineering. It seems almost upside-down, but people who make things are often looked down upon by those who sell them.So what exactly is marketing? My best definition is the creation and identification of sales opportunities and trends.

In this book, the author openly accuses prominent marketers of not doing their jobs – of doing marketing that sucks. He suggests that most marketing campaigns do not result in increased sales, and are therefore a pointless waste of money that is more concerned with keeping marketing budgets well funded than with generating new sales.

The book is not perfect, and has several shortcomings; for instance, some have described the book as a blatant pitch for the author’s marketing consultancy business. While there is certainly an element of self-promotion, most of it is more of a challenge – a dare to try his services and see if he cannot do better.Others have said that the book is long on criticism and short on encouragement. This is true, but given the title of the book, one cannot reasonably expect much else. Bear in mind also that there are many marketing “how-to” books out there.

Even if you are not into marketing – or even, for that matter, a geek – this is a very entertaining read and well worth checking out of the library – or even buying. Marketing types, however, may want to give it a miss, though, as they take themselves way too seriously (another diffeence between Geeks and Marketing types), and will not appreciate a book that pokes fun at most of that which they hold so dear…