Tag Archives: Law

License Agreements

When we download software (since many computers don’t have optical drives anymore) the first thing we see is the licensing agreement, which is very long and complicated. Here’s what all that legalese boils down to:

  1. You are obliged to send us money.
  2. We have the right to keep it.
  3. We are not responsible for the software failing to work, containing malware.
  4. In fact, we are not responsible for anything.
  5. We have the right to sell your personal information to anyone.
  6. We have the right to rewrite the software so you have to buy it again.
  7. We have the right to limit the time you can use the software.
  8. If there is a dispute, you will not sue; the dispute will be settled by arbitration.
  9. We reserve the right to pick someone we like and who likes us to act as arbitrator.
  10. When you lose (and you will), you will be responsible for paying any and all expenses for said arbitration.
  11. We paid one or more lawyers a lot of money to write this agreement, so we have included that cost in the price for this product.

How much money does the software industry spend each year on lawyers? Probably more than they do on software engineers–but tha’s just a guess.

Feel free to add “whereas,” “heretofore,” “hereinafter,” etc., as many times as you like.

You Can Use My Bathroom When You Pry My Cold, Dead Fingers from the Toilet Paper!

I love to keep my tempests in teapots—it keeps the rhetoric hot, even if there’s no real substance. For example, the brouhaha regarding who gets to use which bathroom. Last report that I heard on NPR was that in the state of North Carolina, where the sexes are separate, but equal, the number of complaints regarding use of the inappropriate bathroom was zero. Nada. Zilch.

I suppose that between NPR and myself, our comments will encourage someone somewhere to complain. So be it.

Those who served in Iraq or Afghanistan either had various choices for conducting urination and defecation. Some had the pleasure (?) of field latrines, others the ubiquitous porta-potties, or, around places like Al Faw Palace near Baghdad, the existing bathrooms were declared co-ed. The stalls were first-come, first-served (oddly, there was no competition for the urinals). That’s what was there, so that’s what the Americans used. (Of course there were the Arab toilets, a hole in the ground with footprints marked on the surrounding concrete, and a short garden hose. I’ve used them–works for them, not for me.)

The reason that it doesn’t matter was best described by that Great American Canadian, Bill Murray in Stripes, when he said, “We’re all mutts! See—his nose is cold!” And it’s true, we are mutts, and that’s what makes Americans, well, Americans.

Don’t believe me? The following is a true story:

A senior Marine officer was at one of the detention sites shortly after the fall of Iraq in order to make sure that the prisoners were being properly treated (for every Abu Graib there were dozens of facilities that were run in accordance with international law and reasonable civility). An Iraqi general kept frantically motioning that he wanted to talk, and although the Marine officer was not really interested in getting into a debate with the Iraqi general, he realized it was his duty, and courtesy demanded that he acknowledge the general. The Iraqi spoke English with a heavy accent, so it took a while before the Marine understood what he was being asked.

“Why do you conquer us with this confederate army?” the Iraqi general wanted to know. He pointed to the enlisted Marines who were with the officer. “This man,” the Iraqi continued, “is obviously from Asia. That one from Africa, and the other probably from somewhere in Central or South America! Why did you recruit these foreigners to invade us?”

The officer looked around; until that moment, he had never given a thought to their different ethnic backgrounds; he had always seen these people as fellow Marines.

We are not a nation bound by common ancestors; we are a nation bound by an idea. Every one of those Marines had sworn an oath to that idea—the United States Constitution.

We Americans are all different from one another. My recommendations to survive this great challenge are, when using a bathroom:

  • Don’t trash the restroom (which for teenagers will be a HUGE challenge)
  • Be polite to whoever else is in, entering, or leaving the restroom

Oh, and this may shock you, but everybody without four legs or wings, who visits my home, regardless of ANYTHING, all share the same bathrooms.

Counsel for the Offensive

Raymond Burr  as  Perry Mason

Raymond Burr
Perry Mason

When I was young, I had aspirations of being a lawyer. This was, of course, based on my perception of lawyers on television, and mainly Perry Mason at that. For whatever reason (the grace of God?) my life took a different direction.

The law is a noble profession. All of us need lawyers from time to time. It’s good to have a guide in matters of property, wills, and other issues that are both important and complex when one enjoys the rule of law. In my Polish neighborhood, the lawyers offices were labeled “Adwokat” – or advocate. I like that.

Unfortunately, somewhere as a society we got in the habit of resolving all our problems by confrontation. Punching the other guy; drive by shootings; road rage. At least we don’t carry grudges for 300 years and plant IEDs – but I digress.

Today, the really successful lawyers are the hard-hitting litigators, with television ads saying, “Tell them we mean business,” or “Call me the hammer!”

However, I can’t help but think – if a lawyer represents a person who pours hot coffee in his lap, or falls through a skylight of the building he’s trying to burglarize. If a lawyer helps a guilty celebrity get off with community service, or a banker who pays bonuses from a taxpayer bailout be declared “too big to fail.” Or the rich kid who should be excused because of “Affluenza.”

Does this mean that the cream of the legal profession is focused on the survival of the stupid and the greedy?

It’s Legal


There has been a lot of angst about recent court decisions and legislative actions. Mainly these address things that some people do not approve of being legalized.

Same sex marriage.




There’s a huge difference between legal and right.

It’s legal to create phony offshore corporations in order to avoid paying taxes. It’s legal to sell clothing made in prison-like sweatshops in Bangladesh. It’s legal to sell iPods made in Chinese factories in which the workers must work 18 hour days and live in company dormitories so they can be awakened at any hour of the day or night when Apple wants to try something new.

God gave us a free will to choose what is right and pleasing to Him. He didn’t restrict our ability to decide; He told us what He wants and then lets us decide on our own. We don’t always decide wisely (remember the apple thing in the Garden of Eden?)

I suspect that He won’t be impressed with our legal loopholes or our skillful splitting of hairs. He’s going to expect us to have done what was right.

It may be legal to ignore the poor, but we do so at our peril. It may be legal to seek revenge for our enemies, but Jesus instructed us to pray for them instead.

Jesus challenged us to be perfect, just as the Father is perfect.

We (starting with me) area long way from perfect, but we can try to do what is right.

No Gridlock Here


I’m not exactly a liberal, so sometimes NPR rubs me the wrong way. However, NPR does in-depth coverage of issues that only get sound-bite treatment from other sources, so I’m a regular listener.

(Yes, I’m a member, and have been donating for years.)

Occasionally NPR will cover some issues that no one else seems to want to cover.

Recently they investigated why the number of people receiving Social Security Supplemental Security Income (SSI – also known as disability payments) nearly doubled over the past 15 years. It turns out that there’s a whole industry dedicated to getting people disability payments. Who’s a big customer? State governments some of which pay thousands of dollars for each person moved from welfare (a state funded program) to disability (a federally funded program).

Thought provoking – the link is http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/490/trends-with-benefits?act=2#play

Today NPR had a piece describing how in a matter of 30 seconds Congress (the same Congress who can’t seem to agree on anything) passed a bill and got it signed by the President. Of course, this was a SPECIAL bill. A VERY SPECIAL BILL. This bill canceled many of the provisions of the law that made congressional financial trading more transparent. The original bill made it possible to see how lawmakers invest their largesse. Did Senator Whatsisname own stock in the pharmaceutical industry before voting on a bill that benefitted drug companies? The original law was intended to make it possible to find out. The thirty second bill fixed that.

If you’re interested in the details, here’s the link. http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2013/04/16/177496734/how-congress-quietly-overhauled-its-insider-trading-law

In the recent past I wished Congress could get along and get things done. Now, I’m not so sure.