Wiped out again last night – it seems like everyone at the office has some sort of assorted yuck, from flu to worse. I think GG and LD are the only ones showing some form of immunity. I look forward to a solid night’s rest this weekend.
A Florida woman has been awarded $11.3 million in a defamation lawsuit against a Louisiana woman who posted messages on the Internet accusing her of being a “crook,” a “con artist” and a “fraud.”
Legal analysts say the Sept. 19 award by a jury in Broward County, Fla. — first reported Friday by the Daily Business Review — represents the largest such judgment over postings on an Internet blog or message board. Lyrissa Lidsky, a University of Florida law professor who specializes in free-speech issues, calls the award “astonishing.”
Lidsky says the case could represent a coming trend in court fights over online messages because the woman who won the damage award, Sue Scheff of Weston, Fla., pursued the case even though she knew the defendant, Carey Bock of Mandeville, La., has no hope of paying such an award. Bock, who had to leave her home for several months because of Hurricane Katrina, couldn’t afford an attorney and didn’t show up for the trial.
“What’s interesting about this case is that (Scheff) was so vested in being vindicated, she was willing to pay court costs,” Lidsky says. “They knew before trial that the defendant couldn’t pay, so what’s the point in going to the jury?”
Scheff says she wanted to make a point to those who unfairly criticize others on the Internet. “I’m sure (Bock) doesn’t have $1 million, let alone $11 million, but the message is strong and clear,” Scheff says. “People are using the Internet to destroy people they don’t like, and you can’t do that.”
The dispute between the two women arose after Bock asked Scheff for help in withdrawing Bock’s twin sons from a boarding school in Costa Rica. Bock had disagreed with her ex-husband over how to deal with the boys’ behavior problems. Against Bock’s wishes, he had sent the boys to the boarding school.
Scheff, who operates a referral service called Parents Universal Resource Experts, says she referred Bock to a consultant who helped Bock retrieve her sons. Afterward, Bock became critical of Scheff and posted negative messages about her on the Internet site Fornits.com, where parents with children in boarding schools for troubled teens confer with one another.
In 2003, Scheff sued Bock for defamation. Bock hired a lawyer, but he left the case when she no longer could afford to pay him.
When Katrina hit in August 2005, Bock’s house was flooded and she moved temporarily to Texas before returning to Louisiana last June. Court papers that Scheff and her attorney David H. Pollack mailed to Bock were returned to Pollack’s office in Miami.
After Bock didn’t offer a defense, a Broward Circuit Court judge found in favor of Scheff. A jury then heard Scheff’s arguments about damages. Pollack did not seek a specific amount for the harm he says Scheff’s business suffered.
“Even with no opposing counsel and no defendant there, $11 million is a huge amount,” says Pollack, adding that Scheff is considering whether to try to collect any money from Bock. “The jury determined this was a significant enough issue. It’s not just somebody’s feelings are hurt; it’s somebody’s reputation is ruined.”
Bock says that when she moved back to her repaired house over the summer, she knew the trial was approaching but did not know the date. She says she doesn’t have the money to pay the judgment or hire a lawyer to appeal it. She adds that if the goal of Scheff’s lawsuit was to stifle what Bock says online, it worked.
DAMASCUS, Syria – Hunters stalked giant camels as tall as some modern-day elephants in the Syrian desert tens of thousands of years ago and archaeologists behind the find are wondering where the camels came from and what caused them to die off.
The enormous beasts existed about 100,000 years ago and more of the bones, first discovered last year, have been found this year in the sands about 150 miles north of the capital, Damascus.
The animal, branded the “Syrian Camel” by its Swiss and Syrian discoverers, stood between three and four yards high — about twice the size of latter-day camels and the height at the shoulder of many African elephants.
“The camel is a dromedary but extremely big and extremely tall — about double the size of a modern day camel,” said Jean-Marie Le Tensorer, who led the Swiss side of the team.
The camels did not appear to have been bred by humans as beasts of burden, the scientists said, raising questions about its provenance — and disappearance.
“What we want to know now is: where did it come from, and why did it disappear never to be seen again? Was it migrating from Asia to Africa?” said the team’s Syrian leader, Heba al-Sakhel.
Le Tensorer said humanoid bones were discovered at a nearby site and stone tools used by early humans were found with the camel’s bones, which are thought to be up to 100,000 years old.
“The bones — a fragment of an arm and a tooth — are, of course, of the hunter of the giant camel. He probably stalked his prey to a water spring where he came to drink,” said Le Tensorer.
“Ordinary camels appeared in the (Middle East) region some 6,000-7,000 years ago and, for the first time, we have a wild form and very, very old,” he said.
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Everybody does it. Adults don’t like to talk about it. But it fascinates kids.
You guessed it: poop.
An exhibit about the science of what humans and animals leave behind — ‘The Scoop on Poop’ — opens at Miami Metrozoo’s Dr. Wilde’s World on Friday.
”Smells bad,” said Xcaret Hernandez, 4, on Tuesday at the sight of fake elephant dung. Dulce Hernandez giggled at her daughter’s reaction to the “superduper pooper.”
Colorful graphic panels, three-dimensional models and interactive components in a 5,000-square-foot indoor exhibition room feature smelly facts, real-life stool samples, and all kinds of poop trivia from ”Who Dung it?” to “Test Your No. 2 IQ.”
Miami is the second stop in a national tour of the traveling exhibit, which premiered at the Virginia Living Museum in May. After it closes here on Jan. 10, it’s off to Philadelphia.
Clyde Peeling’s Reptiland, a Pennsylvania zoological institution, used the children’s book by Wayne Lynch called The Scoop on Poop! as a model to produce the exhibit.
”We want to let people know there’s more to poop,” said Cristina Heredia, a Miami Metrozoo exhibits manager. “It’s not just waste. Animals use it. Humans use it.”
A few children settled in Tuesday to test the exhibit.
Almost instantly, a beetle dung derby sounds off, groans and grunts bellow from a poop chute, and a deafening flush sends waste traveling through transparent pipes.
The exhibit includes a scale that weighs the number of hours it takes an animal to poop the weight of whoever is on the scale.
”There sure are a lot of interesting things about poop,” said a blushing Joyce Picard, 32, as her children ran around the exhibit.
Some scat scoops:
• Storks and vultures squirt watery poop and uric acid to cool off.
• Some spiders and frogs camouflage themselves as bird droppings for protection.
• Male sarus cranes fling chips in a bizarre courtship dance.
Hernandez and Xcaret stood on a scale that weighs the number of hours it takes an elephant to poop their weight. A bulb lit up next to the number eight.
”Wow,” they said.
Not all feces facts are gross or silly.
Maasai tribesmen waterproof huts with dung plaster. Dung doctors have found that rodent droppings carry breast cancer-causing agents. And there’s more. . . .
However giggly and disgusting an exhibit on excrement sounds, it’s the curiosity of the barely discussed topic and the science of it that zoo officials hope draws zoo-goers.
”Where else can you say that you’ve had the opportunity to roll dung balls?” asked Cindy Castelblanco, public-relations manager for the Zoological Society of Florida.
It was the moment the fans had been waiting for: headliners John Mayer and Sheryl Crow briefly sharing the Sound Advice Amphitheatre stage together near the beginning of Crow’s set. The two jammed out to Crow’s My Favorite Mistake, standing back-to-back as Mayer wailed out a funk riff. It was hot.
Of course, Mayer was wearing a bear costume, complete with a big goofy amusement park bear head. But it was still hot, and that’s saying something.
“The only bear I ever loved,” Crow deadpanned as Mayer the Bear dropped to his knees in adoration and then exited. “I don’t know how to follow that.”
Actually, the gorgeously tanned Crow didn’t seem to have a problem filling the rest of the already enormously well-received show Wednesday night.
Likewise, Mayer more than competently handled his earlier set with a collection of radio hits and nasty, nasty funkjazz/blues concoctions. The shaggy-haired and lanky heartthrob started with Belief, a thoughtful song about the price of defending one’s beliefs that was punctuated by Mayer’s geeked-out ecstacy and the “We love you John!” screams from the crowd.
When Mayer played SunFest a few years ago, he seemed to space out completely, so taken in by the music as he was, that he sometimes didn’t seem to remember the audience was there. That was still enjoyable, but by now his stage patter has become comfortable and flirty. He smiled during the raspy pleadings of Why Georgia, grooved out to the blistering Gravity and wrecked everyone emotionally with Dreaming With a Broken Heart.
The set included huge hits Georgia, Daughters and No Such Thing but avoided the sincere but cutesy Your Body is a Wonderland. It was a noticeable omission, but one that didn’t at all affect the giddy power of Mayer’s set.
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