News Highlight's of the Week

05/01/99

'Twas The Night Before Finals

A Visit from St. Dawdle
By R. Thomas Barber

Twas the night before finals when all through the grounds,
Not a person was sleeping or fooling around;
No, the students were studying, trying to learn more,
From textbooks, and cliff notes and papers galore;
They were sprawled out on floors, tired and strained,
While mountains of lecture notes mushed up their brains;
With the library now closed, I had just settled back
In a room full of books and burritos for snacks;
When outside my door there arose such a shout,
I peeked out to see who had finally flipped out;
The lights in the hallway flickered and glowed,
Giving a luster to coke cans and wrappers below;
When what to my weary eyes should emerge,
But a weird little man singing a dirge;
About fun places, free food, and dates with a model,
I knew in a moment this must be St. Dawdle!
More rapid than eagles he burped up a few,
Then proceeded to tell me all that he knew;
Let's party, let's eat, and let's have a good time,
To miss so much fun would be such a crime;
Blow off your homework, don't go to class,
There's plenty of time to study and pass;
As dry teachers before sleeping classes lecture,
With multiple choice tests that lead to conjecture;
So into my room with hesitation he came,
And brushed me aside without giving his name;
He was dressed in a toga that used to be white,
With a wide, protruding belly that made it fit tight;
An old, worn nap sack he had flung on his back,
And he looked around carefully before opening his pack;
His eyes were so swollen, his pimples like cherries,
His cheeks were pocked out, his nose was quite hairy;
His mouth was so huge I couldn't help stare,
What hung below his chin might have been hair;
There was food caught along the sides of his teeth,
And the wax in his ears, well, it looked like a wreath;
He had a wrinkled face and long nails on his hands
That shook when he laughed like old rubber bands;
He was chubby and unkempt, and smelled really foul,
I thought about offering him some soap and a towel;
But the look in his eye and the grin on his face,
Scared me to death, so I reached for the mace;
Then he pulled out some tests that were taken last year,
With the answers all circled, and said with a tear,
Why do you study about what you don't know,
If grades are the thing, here's how you should go;
Don't bother to cram, it's such a waste of time,
Just take these answers and you will do fine;
Then laying a finger inside of his nose,
He turned and left, wiping his clothes;
And I heard him exclaim disappearing with glee,
Who needs to study when they can turn out like me!


04/16/99

Is Bob Kerrey an Alien?

Wednesday, June 25th, 1997 -- The US Air Force added another log to its bonfire of incompetence as it once again tried in vain to quash "Alien Invader" stories emanating like so much swamp gas from Roswell, New Mexico for the past 50 years.

Colonel John Haynes, an Air Force spokesman took a whole lot of ribbing yesterday as he presented the glossy "Roswell Report: Case Closed" to a group of laughing reporters.

Haynes is a good closing act from the guys that brought you Agent Orange, the almost Joint Chiefs of Staff sexcapades, and the absolute truth that chemical weapons were not used in the Gulf War.

The Air Force explains away the reports of Roswell witnesses that they saw dead aliens in the desert by pointing to something called "Project High Dive" which dropped 200 pound dummies from weather balloons and airplanes to see what would happen to them. Colonel Haynes says the dummies, after obvious mutilation caused by 20 mile high falls, might look like aliens to residents.

"Sure." Haynes went on to talk about a serviceman that crashed in a test balloon near Roswell. It seems the fellow suffered "cranial swelling" which might account for the description of the aliens having largish heads!

Now a new problem surfaces for the Air Force. How will it explain that the dummy tests were conducted in 1953 -- six years after the Roswell "incident?"

Certainly Colonel Haynes couldn't.

Maureen Dowd, the incisive and highly amusing columnist, wrote the best piece on the inane press conference this morning. Ms Dowd, tongue in cheek, suggests that aliens actually control the government and are nervous about the recent rise in American interest in out-of-this-world life forms. She points to House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt as meeting one eye-witness account of what the Roswell aliens looked like: "They were very good looking people, ash-colored faces and skinů about five feet five tall, eyes a little more pronounced, small ears, small nose, fine features, hairless."

Ms. Dowd also yuks it up alleging that Senator Bob Kerry matches the big-eyed, bulbous head creature featured on the cover of Time, and asks whether anyone truly believes that Janet Reno or James Carville were born on earth.

I want to know -- who's running public relations at the Pentagon? Whoever it is should be shipped out, forthwith, on the next space shuttle. Spending a few hundred thousand dollars on a "report" which proves nothing is sin enough. Fueling the fire of a controversy cooked up by a bunch of desert wackos and the Roswell Chamber of Commerce is inexcusable.

It's time the Air Force calls a nut a nut and stops treating these alien conspiracists as a serious threat to American culture. After all, we already know the truth -- from Heaven's Gate!



02/20/99

How to use a Japanese Toilet.


The Interactive guide to survival in Japan.
URL Link: Teach Me!


01/10/99

What does copyright mean?

Advertising Legal Smarts
Any strategy that gives you a commercial advantage leaves you prey to competitors. Some will try to use the legal system to gain an advantage. Here are some guidelines to launching an ad campaign that keeps you well within the limits of the law.

Comparing Yourself to a Competitor
The first question to ask yourself is whether your comparative advertising makes specific claims that the consumer assumes can be measured or proven, says Richard A. Kurnit, an attorney with Frankfurt, Garbus, Klein & Selz in New York City. Examples: "These pickles are more sour than brand X;" "We send more travelers annually to Borneo than any other U.S. tour operator;" or "Our lawnmower is easier to push than company B's." All of these claims can be verified by objective criteria, such as scientific tests, surveys, or demonstrations. Federal regulations require you to have proof that the advertising is true (called "substantiation") before you make the claim.

At the other end of the spectrum are claims that are pure puffery-things that can't be proven or disproven because they're "too general, hyperbolic, or humorous," Kurnit says. Since such claims cannot be substantiated, federal rules requiring you to have proof on hand before advertising do not apply. For example, a court found that the claim, "Our debt collection service is comparable to those of attorneys," was puffery because it could not be proven. The same reasoning would apply to "try it, you'll like it."

Mentioning Another Company's Name
Unless you're trying to show why your product (or service) is better or more economical, it's risky to mention another company's name in your ads without getting an okay first. That's true whether or not the other company is your competitor, says Lewis Rose, an advertising and marketing law specialist with Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin & Kahn in Washington, D.C.

In particular, the law prohibits you from using others' intellectual property to confuse prospective purchasers-for instance by making them think you're somehow associated or by mixing up two brands. A key question is what your action does to the market for the other company's product or services, Rose says. Courts will look closely at the use of another company's name that could boost your profits at their expense.

One time you're usually on safe ground naming names: if the company you're mentioning carries your products-as when a store stocks your widgets and your ad tells potential customers where to buy them.

TIP
Be especially careful when doing business on the Internet. Unauthorized hyperlinks to other companies' sites could get you in trouble, as could putting up pictures or text that violate someone else's copyright.

False and Misleading Advertising
Federal rules, and those of many states, require that advertising be truthful, accurate, and that you have substantiation for any claims you make. Otherwise you may be subject to suits by the Federal Trade Commission (the primary U.S. government agency that regulates advertising), state attorneys general, and your competitors.

Watch out for advertising that is literally true but misleading, warns Jeffrey Edelstein, a lawyer with Hall Dickler Kent Friedman & Wood in New York City. For instance, an ad for an aspirin product that says four out of five doctors recommend it implies that you took a sizable survey. If you only talked to five doctors, the ad would be misleading.

As with comparative advertising, you must be able to support any objective claim that can be verified. It's best to have this documentation on file before placing the ad.

Other Legal Pitfalls
There are some dos and dont's to consider as you think of ways to promote your product or service:

Don't imply that someone is sponsoring your product when they're not.

Don't offer a product that's so much like your competitor's (or has such a similar name) that consumers could confuse the two.

Don't use a person's name or picture without their written permission. Whether or not a person is famous, if they're recognizable in the ad you might run afoul of state privacy laws, says Edelstein. If you're using the name or picture of a celebrity who's died, state law may require permission from that person's estate.

Do read the fine print on invoices from any stock photo houses. Have a lawyer review the terms if you're uneasy about them: often they disclaim any privacy or publicity rights, says Edelstein. That means, for example, you may have bought the photographer's permission to use the picture but still need a release from the people shown in the photo.

Do make sure you have all the rights you need to use copyrighted material in your ads. Whenever you purchase material (such as photographs or text) from an outside source (for instance, from a stock photo house or freelancer) get a warranty that it's original, that the person or company you're buying it from owns all the rights you want to buy, and that they will indemnify you for any legal problems that might arise (for instance, suits for copyright infringement by someone else who claims to own the work).

At a minimum, you'll want an assignment or license giving you permission to use the work for a particular purpose. Be sure to specify what that purpose is. For example, if your contract with a stock photo house says you can use a picture in national advertising, you don't automatically have the right to put it on your site, which is accessible worldwide, Edelstein warns.

Do make sure your advertising is not even "substantially similar" to that of another company. If it is, you might be accused of copyright infringement.

Do watch out for the many types of advertising that are highly regulated by federal and state agencies. Examples are: ads targeted at children and those for sweepstakes, contests, automobiles, financial services, food, drugs, and health-related items (like weight-loss products). You'll want a lawyer knowledgeable about the particular rules to review each of these types of advertising.

Do play fair. You'll decrease the likelihood of getting sued and increase the chances of getting the case quickly dismissed if you are. FYI: Free information about advertising and marketing law is available on the Advertising Law Internet Site, maintained by Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin & Kahn, the Washington, D.C., law firm. The address for the site is http://www.webcom.com/~lewrose/home.html.

From: Small Business Legal Smarts, by Deborah L. Jacobs.
- 1998 by Deborah L. Jacobs.


12/20/99

The President Should Do The Right Thing And Commit Ritual Hari-Kiri


By The Ghost Of The Emperor Hirohito Of Japan

      In the years since my death in 1989, I have observed many political upheavals in the Realm of the Living. Yet, in all this time, I have never seen such a shameful display as what is currently unfolding in your nation's capital. President Clinton's conduct has been base and without honor, but the humiliation of a public Trial of Impeachment is an insult without measure. If your leader has any sense of duty, he will spare his country the dishonor of this vulgar and embarrassing spectacle, and redeem himself by committing ritual hari-kiri. It is the only honorable course of action left to him.

      The one called Clinton has shamed his House, his family and his ancestors. He has divided the nation and heaped indignities upon the highest office of the land. He has brought dishonor to his people and to his position. There is only one way for him to step down with dignity, set an example for the children, restore his people's faith in the presidency, and heal this nation's wounds. He must submit to seppuku, ritual suicide, and disembowel himself with a ceremonial short sword, driving the blade into the left side of his abdomen and then drawing it rightward across his stomach, before turning the blade upward, toward his heart.

      How else can Clinton regain face before the American people? He has clearly violated the Bushido code of conduct prized by all honorable men, behaving without dignity, honesty, loyalty or courage. Even before the scandal, he behaved more like a common Hohei of the lowest rank than in a manner befitting a Daimyo nobleman. When campaigning for president in 1996, did he take care to avoid contact with truck drivers, auto workers and other persons of low social bearing? Sadly, no. And, when in public, does his wife remain a respectful several paces behind him at all times as simple decency demands? She does not. These insults are bad enough. But now, hiding behind words and a cowardly legalistic defense of his dishonorable actions, he has disgraced himself to the utmost.

      He has become more of a dog than a man.

      Throughout the entire crisis, Clinton has done only one honorable thing, and that is to declare war. However, even in this he has displayed cowardice, striking at Iraqi military targets with computer-controlled air-to-surface guided missiles instead of giving the young men of his nation the privilege of sacrificing themselves in the Divine Wind of the kamikaze. His wife and child have not even hurled themselves into the sea to regain face for their lineage and family name. Before long, Kenneth Starr and the Republicans will carry the head of their enemy through the streets in a kubibukuro bag, delivering it to their Lords and Masters singing songs of triumph!

      Your leader's duty is clear. He should make a pilgrimage to the temples and shrines of his native Arkansas prefecture, and there offer gifts and tributes of rice, fruit and prayers, beseeching his ancestors for their blessing and strength in what he must do. Then he should return to Washington, kneel upon a traditional tatami straw mat and, in absolute silence, plunge the blade into his torso.

      In committing this act--preferably on national television, so that his calm and self-control while performing this slowest and most painful form of suicide can be admired by millions--it is most important that Clinton choose wisely in selecting his kaishaku-nin, the man who will be his second and stand behind him to deliver the final jumonji death-blow. My advice would be not to select the one called Gore. He seems a weak and ineffectual man, lacking the courage and strength of will to properly administer the final stroke, which will sever Clinton's head from his body and end his torment. But that is a matter that only Clinton can decide.

      Why am I saying all of this? Because I, like your President Clinton, once faced a similar situation and failed to do my duty. In life, I, like Clinton, embraced "progressive" ideals, seeking to modernize Japan and bring my nation into the 20th century. When Japan was defeated in World War II, I chose a course of compromise, accepting the Allied terms of surrender instead of dying honorably for my homeland, as the conservatives in my government demanded. After the war, I abolished the mandatory emperor-worship of State Shinto and publically repudiated my divinity. I even allowed my eldest son, the Crown Prince Akihito, to marry a commoner of ignoble birth, betraying 1,500 years of tradition!

      I, who could have died gloriously of hari-kiri rather than surrender to the hated gaijin, instead lived out my final years as a meaningless figurehead, devoting most of my hours to a trifling interest in oceanography! I brought shame and disgrace upon my ancestors and my nation! But now, condemned to walk the Earth for all eternity wrapped in chains and rags, I have learned the error of my ways. I now know that the conservatives were right all along. Hear me, Clinton! I, the ghost of Hirohito, Emperor Of All Japan, say to you this: Do not make the same mistake I did! Commit ritual hari-kiri now and restore honor to your race!

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