Fish Tank

Monday, May 2, 2016

Word of the Month for May 2016: Latent

Just see what you need after you need it
There used to be a time when I was surprised about stuff. Graft, corruption, greed - few things surprise me, anymore.  Take, for example, the story about the latest Parmesan Cheese scandal.  

Seems the FDA recently conducted a raid on Castle Cheese, Inc.  Seems "someone" tipped the FDA onto the fact that Castle Cheese was using wood pulp in its 100% Parmesan Cheese product and passing it off as 100% Parmesan Cheese (and not mentioning that part about using wood pulp).  Turns out the FDA discovered that Castle Cheese was, in fact, adding more than 4% wood pulp to its 100% Parmesan Cheese resulting in a guilty plea by Castle Cheese President, Michelle Myrter, who is facing a $100,000 fine and up to a year in prison.  OK, who came up with the name "Myrter." Personally, that sounds faker than a wooden nickel but that's the story and the FDA is sticking to it.

The problem is that consumers don't know that makers of Parmesan Cheese use wood pulp as a filler in their product. While 2-4% is legal:
Essential Everyday 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese, from Jewel-Osco, was 8.8 percent cellulose, while Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s Great Value 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese registered 7.8 percent, according to test results. Whole Foods 365 brand didn’t list cellulose as an ingredient on the label, but still tested at 0.3 percent. Kraft had 3.8 percent.
While we all need fiber in our diets, it would still be nice if producers actually included what kind of fiber we are eating on the product labels.  Of course, all of this leads us to our word of the month: LATENT.  According to Black's Law Dictionary, LATENT means concealed; dormant (a latent defect).  While LATENT is generally associated with construction defect issues, it has also (more recently) be attributed to consumer laws.  Some great resources where you locate information about consumer laws include:

Yep, there are a whole lot of unscrupulous people out there in producer land.  Good thing there are hard working law Librarians available to help you identify your rights under the law so you can get things moving.

Monday, April 25, 2016


Baggage comes in all sizes
Working as a Reference Librarian can sometimes be a rough job.  Take, for instance, the other day whilst reading an article about a guy who got caught fiddling with young kids, a young woman came in saying she was referred to me by a "friend."  Seems young woman has recently been charged with violation of California Penal Code section 311.4(b) and 311.11 as well as a number of other related crimes.  Basically, young woman is looking as some hard time in the pokey.

The thing is that I really don't keep a running tab of what the code sections are.  So, picture it:  I'm standing with a patron and they have me do a quick search for their codes of choice.  Up comes CA Penal Code section 311.4 which reads:
311.4(b): Every person who, with knowledge that a person is a minor under the age of 18 years ... knowingly ... induces, or coerces a minor ... to engage in either posing or modeling alone or with others for purposes of preparing any ... videotape ... that ... incorporates ... a live performance involving sexual conduct ... shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison...
For the record, 311.11 deals with much of the same (child porn), and the whole time young woman is standing there smiling away with nary a care in the world.  I finished reading (now with a pit in my gut) and young woman wants to know what resources she can use to help her beat the rap.  Being the dutiful Librarian I am, I lead her over to:

Of course, I also pointed out that California Penal Code Section 311.8 dealt with defenses to the charges young woman was facing.  In particular, 311.8(a) reads:
(a):  It shall be a defense in any prosecution for a violation of this chapter that the act charged was committed in aid of legitimate scientific or educational purposes.
I really don't know how young woman is going to spin what went on as "educational"  or "scientific" but she seemed a bit more relieved when she saw that section and off she went happy as a lark.

I guess I'm getting soft in my old(er) age because stuff like this didn't use to bother me.  Maybe it's because of my upbringing or maybe because I've got kids under 18. Whatever the reason, or issue, know that your local county law Librarian has got mad research skills and knows how to put aside their issues to help you with yours.

Monday, April 18, 2016

It's a Jungle Out There

Pedestrian crossing
Sometimes, I have difficulty coming up with stuff to blog about.  Today is not one of those days.  

See, on my drive to work today, I see this guy/pedestrian trying to cross the street whilst standing in the crosswalk.  Being a dutiful and defensive driver of the road, I stopped to let guy/pedestrian cross the road.  Pedestrian gets maybe half way across and has to stop because some numb nut flew threw the crosswalk.  I'm talking barreled his backside, nary-a-care-in-his-entitlement-world through the crosswalk nearly taking out guy/pedestrian's knees.  In the immortal words of Ms. Granger: "What an idiot!" 

Seems there is a whole lot of idiots on the road today what with the fact that every state in the union has laws related to pedestrians.  Sure there are; check out this 50 State summary of laws related to pedestrians. 

Anyway, the point to all this is that I just had to rant because I saw that guy almost take out a pedestrian.  I now return you to your normal programming.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Pants on Fire

Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, yeah
The other day I was reading an article that read: Former L.A. sheriff admits guilty in jail abuse scandal.  What happened was that illegal stuff was going on at the LA County jail and, as it turned out, former Sheriff Lee Baca knew about it.  What was so wrong about this is that when he was questioned by the FBI about what was going on, he lied to the federal agents.

Thing is, the Feds don't care what he did or didn't do with the jail - they only care that he lied to them.  I guess it's like cheating on the wife.  It doesn't matter who you cheat with, just that you cheated on them that really pisses them off and with an eye toward righteous indignation, they are going to have their pound of flesh.  In the case at hand, former Sheriff Le Baca, that means he'll will be charged with violating 18 USC 1001.

What is 18 USC 1001 and how is it applied?  Remember back when Martha Stewart was being investigated for insider trading?  Apparently, the Feds were talking to her and she said she had not conducted insider trading.  Then, when the Feds found out she had lied to them, they charged her with a violation of 18 USC 1001.  18 USC 1001 reads:
Whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully (falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact; (2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or (3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same or contains any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements or entry; shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years or, if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism (as defined in section 2331), imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both.
So, because Martha lied to regulators (i.e. executive branch) about her insider trading, off to prison she went.  Same with Bernie Madoff.  Same as Enron.  Same as Hillary (i.e. email servergate). Same as any terrorist (because all terrorists are all such upstanding guys/gals who never lie about their terrorist involvement).  

What bugs me is that it is being suggested that Sheriff Lee Baca will only serve maybe 6 months (and then, probably only be on probation).  Really?!  Is that because he donated to the Obama campaign, or something?  If the law applies to Martha, or Bernie, or Enron, or even Hillary Clinton, then Sheriff Lee Baca should be looking at some stiff prison time, as well.

I'm just saying.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Word of the Month for April 2016: Stop

Paper thin skinned
What is it about words (or the meanings people associate with words) that people freak out when someone says something, regardless of context?  I mean, a word that is so offensive to them that they will tear you a new one if that word is uttered. Of course, all this brings me to the word of the month: STOP.  Let me elucidate.

The other day, I had a student from a local paralegal school come up to me and started to tell me a legal research scenario for her class.  Because I had just finished a rather involved research project, I needed to adjust my thinking. So, I took a breath and said, "Stop, please - can you please just repeat that."  Student went ape crazy.  I mean, through the roof insane.  You'd have thought I'd have said "girl" instead of "woman" to Gloria Allred, or something.  Student went on a rampage saying how dare I tell her to STOP.  That she'll never STOP.  That she's worked so hard to go to paralegal school and that no one is ever going to get her to STOP!  

Uhhhhhhhh.  OK.  I don't know where that came from but according to Black's Law Dictionary, STOP is defined as, under the 4th Amendment, a temporary restraint that prevents a person from walking or driving away; see Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1868 (1968).  Using Words and Phrases (Thomson Reuters), we find that the court in State v. Hitchcock, 224 Or.App. 77, 197 P.3d 33 (2008), noted that a "stop" is a temporary restraint of a person's liberty.

Taken out of context, it could be argued that I was restraining her liberty to move forward in her pursuit to be a paralegal by asking her to stop and restate the question.  However, in the context I was coming from, I hadn't heard what she was saying.  As such, I was asking her to restate the question so I could provide the help she so desperately needed.  

Either way, there is no scenario where any library patron has a right to take shots at a Librarian. You've got issues?  Leave them outside.  In fact, if you are so tender of skin that you're going to freak out when someone says your trigger word, stay home and/or apply for disability because no one (including perspective employers) needs the grief you're looking to dish out.