Quote of the Day - Cigarettes are indispensible props for tough-talking adults and aspirants to that status.
Shocker: Low-Tar Cigs Just As Bad as Regular CigsHere's a shocker: low-tar cigarettes have no less danger of causing cancer than regular cigarettes.
I would have never guessed. ;)
The study, published in the British Medical Journal (but not yet available online) noted that smokers of "lighter" cigarettes compensate by taking deeper drags, holding the smoke longer and smoking more cigarettes.
The American Cancer Society and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology conducted the study. According to this article, "Tobacco industry representatives said manufacturers never claimed light or mild cigarettes were safer, and don't dispute the study's findings."
Philip Morris, for example, publishes its version of the facts about low-tar cigs, which are surprisingly similar to the study's conclusion. Guess they learn well after so many smoker's lawsuits.
Don't ask me, I only occasionally smoke cigars.
Y for Snowmobiles in Yellowstone?The Yellowstone / Snowmobile flap has been in this blog before and before, and here it is again.
The Wyoming Attorney General apparently filed a Motion for Reconsideration, and the judge agreed to reopen the case.
No decisions yet - not even new dates for the reconsideration. Just the news that the case is not final. The decision was announced on Findlaw, and there'll be more to come here when the case reopens.
For now, follow this bouncing ball on the Yellowstone fact page.
Eggs Gone Mad - Where's the Parents Here?It had to come to this.
K.M. donated her eggs to her then lesbian partner, E.G., (no, not e.g., or exempli gratia) who presumably with only the help of a sperm donor, became pregnant and had twins. Eight years ago.
At the time she donated the eggs, K..M signed a waiver of parental rights, but then proceeded to parent the twins for the ensuing eight years.
Until K.M. and E.G. broke up. Then, when E.G. presumably denied access to the twins, K.G. filed a Petition to Establish Parental Relationship.
In Marin County. (Where else?)
In the trial court, the Commissioner rejected K.M.'s Petition, according to Courthouse News. Commissioner Randolph E. Heubach ruled that K.M. was no different than a sperm donor who gave up his rights to the sperm after donation.
The case is now on appeal before the First District Court of Appeals in San Francisco. K.M.'s argument is that her eight years of parenting should amount to something.
All the briefing's not in yet, but this brief was filed by amicus curiae National Center for Lesbian Rights.
This case is apparently the first time that a lesbian has attempted to assert parental rights to children based on donating her own eggs.
All I want to know is why we're referring to these people by initials. Don't they have names? Weren't they aware that when they got started with this that all hell might break loose?
What Will Jimmy Buffett Sing About Now?As Jimmy Buffet sings in his song, Fruitcakes:
"We lost our Martian rocket ship
The high paid spokesman said
Looks like that silly rocket ship
Has lost it's cone-shaped head
We spent ninety jillion dollars
Tryin' to get a look at Mars
I hear universal laughter
Ringing out among the stars"
Well, not anymore. NASA nailed it this time. They spent twice as much money ($180 jillion dollars) on Spirit and Opportunity, two Martian rocket ships, before getting it right.
But get it right they did. Last time, though, the Mars orbiter got programmed partially in metric, partially in English measurements, and thus Buffett's lyrics.
I often get to write about the environment and business litigation, but rarely about postcards from Mars. Those of you who know me well know that you'll get one from me when I get there.
Until that happens, here are a few to enjoy.
A 2004 RetrospectiveSo, we made it through New Year's without any terror attacks. Sure, a plane crashed and there were surely other disasters that merit our thoughts and prayers.
We were on High Alert, and it appears to have paid off. We get to pay later, though. The cost of high alerts is expensive, not only financially, but also emotionally for some.
Contrast that with the silliness of New Year's resolutions and the rationality of it all seems utterly foolish.
Fellow blogger the Sassy Lawyer celebrated with a band and a blowjob (the latter is a name for a drink) and we went to the Newport Beach Sutton Place Hotel for dinner, and then drinks at Prego with our friends and acquaintances, complete with a New Year's hat and a tiara.
Now, the first week of New Year is upon us, and the world's in front of us again. The holiday season is gone, and 2004 is here.
Welcome to another year. What are you going to do with it?
Banishment Revived Among Indian TribesWondering what to do with your rebellious teenagers? If you're a member of an Indian tribe, you can try banishment. An age old punishment, it's now coming back into vogue as a means to deal with drugs and gangs on the reservation.
The practice used to force violators out of tribal lands to fend for themselves in the wilderness. Since there's not as much wilderness left these days, banishment has sparked a debate that the Indians are just moving their problems into the general population.
The punishment is more personal for many Indians, though. According to this article, Kay Commodore, a Lummi Indian, was stripped of her tribal membership and banished from the reservation after she was convicted of drug trafficking in 1992. She served three years in prison, but said banishment is worse. She is allowed on the reservation only to visit a plot of land she holds and is forbidden to visit family members.
"They're taking away a piece of who I am," Commodore said. "I can go out to my land, but I can't stop and see anybody - that's the thing that hurts me."
The concept of banishment is nothing new. It was practiced by the Greeks and Romans. Just be glad you're not Irish.
$9M in Virtual Game MoneyOnline gaming has reached a new level of absurdity. One gamer spent more than two years and over $1,000 amassing virtual money and an online cache of weapons in a game known as Red Moon. The last time he logged in, however, a real-world hacker broke into the company's server, and wiped out his virtual money and weapons.
His response? A lawsuit when the company refused to reinstate his virtual winnings.
Now, a Chinese court has found that the gamer has virtual property rights. According to the New Scientist, noted "the case is just another example of how the line between online games and the real world have begun to blur. Some gamers already trade game goods and characters for real money through online auction sites like eBay."
Given that, an enterprising California State University, Fullerton assistant professor calculated that a successful online gamer could make $3.42 per hour amassing virtual wealth, and then selling it on Ebay.
The professor noted that so far, Ebay has sold over $9,000,000 in "virtual" goods.
Wolf in Sheep's Clothing - The ESA at 30How does it look for the Endangered Species Act, now 30 years old? Probably more cooperative efforts than lawsuits, according to this article.
The World Wildlife Fund sees a collaborative mindset as the future for the Act. In the past, the ESA has been labeled a failure, and recently targeted for repair.
At least one organization sees hope for the Act, and while typically benefiting charismatic species, it also has been applied to rare and relatively unknown species.
Expect to see more use of Habitat Conservation Plans, which generally encompass areas of habitat for multiple species.
Also be on the lookout for Safe Harbor Agreements and Candidate Conservation Agreements, two types of voluntary agreements between the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and private landowners. Under those agreements, the Service can issue a "take" permit in return for landowners' voluntary protection of endangered species.
Likely not a wolf in sheep's clothing, these changes have only taken 30 years to start coming about. How much longer will it take us to learn to really work together?