How litigations affect our daily life

Being a law-abiding (read: law-fearing) country, America does have several lawsuits in the distant past that still affects its citizens until this day.

One personal example I found quaintly annoying was when I came to the next-door pharmacy.

Me: Excuse me sir, do you have any medicine for [disease undisclosed]?
Pharmacist: Let me take a look at that.
Me: [showing the pharmacist my disease, which was quite visible externally]
Pharmacist: I'm afraid you have to consult a physician, sir.
Me: But I want a self-treatment...
Pharmacist: [getting more assertive] You need to see a doctor.
Me: Alright, seeing a doctor it will be then! [BIG SIGH] So is there any first-aid self-treatment that I can use before I....consult the physician?
Pharmacist: Well, you can always use the [medicine undisclosed], but I can't guarantee if..
Me: And where can you find that medicine?
Pharmacist: It's on the bottom of the shelf on the third aisle.
Me: Okay, that's all I need to know, thanks!

When I confided in a friend on how insistent the pharmacist was in recommending me to a doctor, I thought that this annoying chap was thinking of getting some royalty off the doctor concerned (which usually happened in my previous country of residence, Indonesia). But she simply said that the pharmacist was required to insist on customers getting treated by a doctor, lest the disease gets worse, I would not litigate the pharmacy.

Worthy of note, this occured during the very last days of September this year (and Mom hadn't departed to America yet) which unfortunately ruined any dates, weekly swims, planned moviegoings, and whatever else that a 20-year-old male was supposed to do during his Summer.

But shit misfortune happens, eh?

Anyway, back to the topic.

So it came to my attention that janitors also carry a large possibility of being sued against. The logic is simple: If the floor was too slippery and someone falls on the floor, the janitor of that shift carries a large portion of the responsibility for the punitive damages that may ensue.

One of the most oft-cited examples is the Liebeck v. McDonald's case where Stella Liebeck of New Mexico burned herself after accidentally spilling coffee on her body. She suffered third-degree burn and sued McDonald's for it and won.

A moral story for McDonald's not to serve hot drinks? Not exactly.

The lesser-known result of the litigation was that the reason Liebeck spilled the cup was neither her nor McDonald's fault, but the lack of cup-holder in her car. The dashboard was slightly slanted while she had nowhere else to put her cup on, hence the spill.

Fearing similar litigations towards automobile manufacturers, the company which produced her car, together with almost all other private car manufacturers in the States, began placing cup-holders in between both the driver's and the front passenger's seat from that year onwards.

But it does not stop there.

Scald-and-burn lawsuits such as Liebeck's had become quite commonplace that most public buildings (such as libraries, churches or museums) decided to get away with hot water altogether.

Thus, instead of having two choices of "water temperature" in the restroom sink, only one remains: Cold water.

It would always be pleasant if you could rinse your hands (and soak your face) with a warm water after a gelid Winter day, but the choice is gone whenever I want to sanitize my hands on the library's Gent's.

Thank heavens most privately-owned buildings (such as hotels or restaurants) have not followed suit.


The first picture ever taken of *toshi

Being semi-anonymous, I don't normally post my own portrait on my blog.

Except for today.

If Mom was right, this was taken when I was 1 day old (November 1989).


I know I voted for Obama, but...

In retrospect, Hillary Clinton would have made a better president.

And with a lot of domestic sentiments stirring high against Obama, one could not help but wonder how he is practically worshipped once he leaves the US territory.

Barack Obama would be better off as the Secretary of State, I say.


The Post-Adolescent, Pre-Adult, Not-Quite Decided Life Stage

Such is the title of an article by Robin Marantz Henig in 22 August 2010 edition of The New York Times Magazine. Sums up what it means to be 21, methinks.

Now what have I achieved so far during the 365 days leading to my 21st year?

Frankly, not much:

1. I haven't got a girlfriend yet. Contrary to my age-old image of being the boy too shy to talk to girls, I am no longer reluctant to express my feelings upon anyone I have a crush on. If I think she's pretty or witty, I say it upfront: no poems made, no mooning around. I have not dated anybody purely due to economical reasons. To date a girl in America simply costs too much.

2. I am quite eloquent in French. Though my Japanese remains somewhat constant, if not degraded.

3. Before my mother came to USA, I spoke Indonesian only twice. The past year before my mother came, I probably spoke less Indonesian than Obama's Jakarta speech altogether. And those two occasions were the times when I had Indonesian customers coming in from Columbus, Ohio (which is the only city nearby that has a significant Indonesian community).

4. I tried having...oh well, never mind. I only did it once though!

5. I have not enrolled in any tertiary institutions. Though this is about to change soon.

Other than that, everything else remains in situ.


A year without watching TV

More than a year has gone since I last watched the television, and I must say that it was not an experience I miss.

By watching TV, I mean staring blankly at the gossip talks or reality shows or news frenzy which offer nothing else but a report and a simple exploitation of the forays of human life (with commercials every 10 minutes). Playing game consoles would not be considered as "watching television" then, since there is no outside information showing up on the screen other than my Wii game display.

I do own a TV set, albeit a used 680p one a friend sold for $20 earlier this year. In a small Midwest US town such as where I live, you need to buy at least a small dish (regardless of having a membership to any cable/satelite) in order to get any channel receptions on your 680p, because the only TVs that receive free channels these days are the HDs.

I could have easily purchased a dish for $50 at the local electronic shop, but since I only bought the TV in order to play Wii, I considered having a dish as an unnecessary expense.

So I decided to stick to playing DVDs on my laptop and Wii for my home entertainment purposes.

One of the drawbacks (or perhaps benefits - as one might see fit) of not watching TV is that I am never updated with the outside world. I did not know anything about the Haiti earthquakes or the 2010 Indonesian tsunami until I chanced upon either stories on Yahoo! News.

Some people might wonder.

How is it possible to live without the mightiest invention of the 20th century?


You only need two things: a computer set and a working internet connection.
For occasional news, browse the internet. That way, you only get to see the relevant stuff. I mean, if you are a middle-aged businessman, news about the Wall Street or Obama's economic policies are indeed relevant, but you would also waste at least some 30 minutes a day going through commercials and a heap of rubbish like Justin Bieber. But if you are a 15-year-old girl, the reverse might be true: you find Justin Bieber as the walking deity while all the foreign lingo they have about Wall Street just doesn't make sense.

For watching reality shows or TV series or 80% of movies that has ever enterred circulation in the Western world, subscribe to Netflix or rent movies from Blockbuster. I have a subscription to Netflix where I can have as much as 3 DVDs shipped to me at any time for $17 a month. Every time I am finished watching a DVD, I can mail it back to a Netflix centre in its prepaid postage envelope and receive another DVD I have pre-ordered on the next day. That way, I can rent as many as 25 DVDs in a month for that same amount of $17 (Oh and by the way, that subscription also includes unlimited Instant Streaming thru the net, where you can stream almost any movies on circulation more than 2 years old or full episodes of any informative channels such as History, National Geographic, and Discovery without commercials).
Hence, if you feel you don't need to know any new bombings in the Middle East or flood in China or the latest gossips about Sandra Bullock (which are going to be have new updates every week anyway), why would you need a TV?

P.S. The Netflix is excellent, I know, but too bad as of today they only exist in USA and Canada. I know everybody elsewhere can stream movies instantly thru websites such as Surf The Channel . However, Netflix does not redirect you through a third-party Chinese website or obliging you to watch some Korean language commercials first. And yes, Netflix does have complete seasons of True Blood, Smallville, Lost, Alias, or House from Pilot to Finale.


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