Friday, February 03, 2012

Big Boobs Blamed for Bad DUI Test Performance. Well, it has the virtue of being a creative argument, I suppose.
RIP Andrew Gold. I knew Andrew a little, and admired him enormously. He was an early online guy through AOL, sporting the username of "Q Brain." I had a brief email correspondence with him, and he was very kind to give some recording and equipment advice to a rank amateur [me]. I got to meet him a couple of times, when his band Bryndle playing in Knoxville in 1995 and in Nashville in 1996. He was funny, smart, and one hell of a musician.

I literally was stunned to learn -- by accident -- that he died last June from a heart attack, at age 59. Guitar Player Magazine, which I have taken to reading lately, apparently never said a word about Andrew's death. So I decided to reacho out to them. Here's the text of an email I just sent to Michael Molenda, Editor-In-Chief of Guitar Player:

Dear Mr. Molenda:

I have become a recent reader of Guitar Player, and am writing to you because I think there has been an injustice done.

I discovered by accident last night that Andrew Gold, a multi-instrumentalist, singer and producer, died at age 59 in June 2011. As you may know, Andrew had a profound effect on the shaping of the 1970s California country rock sound, which has affected almost all facets of pop, rock and country music today. As a sideman with Linda Ronstadt during her most popular years, Andrew to a large extent was her sound, for instance playing all the instruments on her hit cover of "Heat Wave," which I still consider to be the definitive performance of that song. As a solo artist Andrew scored a top hit with "Lonely Boy," and his "Thank You for Being a Friend" also was a big hit, as well as becoming iconic as the theme song to television's "The Golden Girls." His vocal performance of the theme song to television's "Mad About You" resulted in one of the most effective theme songs in that medium's recent history. While his instrumental versatility approached the genius level, his guitar playing alone was extraordinary and noteworthy, crossing genres effortlessly and creating unique amplifier settings and hardware configurations that have yet to be duplicated, so far as I know.

Where is his obituary in Guitar Player?

I went back and re-checked the June and July issues, but saw not one mention of his death. Perhaps I missed it, or maybe you reported on this sad passing in a later issue. If not, however, I urge you to prepare the appropriate tribute to this man. Anyone who came of age in the 1970s has likely heard and enjoyed his playing and singing. I strongly believe that recognition in Guitar Player of this loss is more than appropriate. It is required.

Thank you for your time in considering this email.

A sad loss. Very, very sad.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Continuing medical education for doctors on what they can do to properly document their patients' ailments relative to Social Security Disability claims. Continuing education for the rest of us on what our doctors ought to be doing, as well.
Defining Social Security Disability relative to a child's claim.
DUZ (Driving while Zamboni-ing)? Zamboni Driver Accused Of DUI. No, really, he, uh, couldn't keep his Zamboni in the right lane. Or something.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Misleading Headline: Rural communities have strongest reliance on disability benefits. Maybe so, but one reason for that is, as the article states, rural access to health care is limited, and poverty "begets bad health and greater rates of disability...."

A commenter also makes the very good point that the headline is "A classic case of confusing cause with effect. People on low fixed incomes tend to seek rural areas because of low costs of housing and living in general. Living in an urban setting requires far more income for everyday expenses such as food, shelter and transportation."

There seems to be this push to believe that people are applying for -- and getting -- Social Security Disability because the economy is bad and they are out of work. Wheile there are alsways some that attempt to game the system like this, our experience as Knoxville Social Security attorneys suggests very strongly that those undeserving claimants by and large are denied benefits. Unfortunately, the deserving people also are denied.

The average person does not realize how difficult and time-consuming it is to get approved for Social Security Disability. In at least 90% of the cases we see here in East Tennessee, you're looking at the initial application being denied, reconsideration being denied, and your best chance at an approval being at an in-person hearing before an administrative law judge. If denied there, you must appeal to the Social Security Appeals Council, and then to federal district court. And of course, the reward for perseverance leading to an approval is a relatively paltry amount of monthly benefits. Believe me when I say that most, if not all of our Social Security Disability clients would much rather work and make a living than go through the mind-numbing torture of a disability or SSI claim.

I just had a case conclude, that began in 2006. The client did not get a hearing until May 2009, almost three years after filing. He was denied by the ALJ five months later, despite that ALJ having all the evidence with which to make a decision right then and there at the hearing. The Appeals Council denied him in December 2009. We filed suit in federal court and submitted our brief in support of his position in October 2010. The federal court did not rule on this case until January 5, 2012, and denied the client his disability benefits. So, five and a half years after filing, and a year and three months after filing our brief, the client got the Social Security brand of justice. DENIED.

The next time you think that it's a snap to get Social Security Disability benefits, think again.
Huh? Personal Injury Lawyers Pounce on Cruise Ship Disaster: I know Mitch Proner; he went to college with my wife. My question is, how does a New York lawyer inject himself into a pretty clearly Italian case:

Legal experts said the plaintiffs will face high hurdles in keeping a lawsuit in a U.S. court. They point to clauses in Costa passenger tickets requiring that claims involving cruises that don’t touch a U.S. port be brought in Genoa, Italy, where the owner of the Concordia is based. Clauses specifying venue for lawsuits are widely used in the cruise-ship industry — and typically require that cases be brought near the jurisdiction where the cruise line is based. U.S. courts have often upheld those clauses. But Proner and Bern say they will argue that this case is so egregious that those provisions should not apply.

Well, I guess it's a creative argument that the contract should not apply because negligence or harm was "egregious," but let's say that it's a long shot argument, at best. I suppose one could make claim against Carnival in Florida, which is what one set of lawyers has done. But there seem to be contractual limitations on where claims can be filed for injury or breach of contract as a result of the shipboard experience. If so, I suggest that what we are seeing is a grandstanding PR campaign by these lawyers.

Frankly, I never once thought that I had any business trying to attract victims of this tragedy. Now maybe I would have if the ship had sunk off the coast of [landlocked] Tennessee, but, uh, that's not likely to happen.