Does Anyone Else Think Star Wars is Overrated?

To all the Star Wars fans out there, I apologize in advance. I grew up watching the movies, and it was always an easy trilogy to enjoy. The original George Lucas movies, Episodes IV and V, were impressive to me as a child, and my imagination would run wild with thoughts of Jedis, spaceships, and aliens. As I began to understand films better, I noticed the use of color and camera angles to communicate deeper elements of good and evil, and I can appreciate what those movies did for the entertainment industry. It just wouldn’t be the same level of entertainment if the rebels hired a dependable defense attorney like this one and settled their differences with the empire in court.

My problem is the new movies. The story in Star Wars is recycled and dull, with every film using the same plot as the previous one. I get that good versus evil is the ultimate battle, but come on! How many times are they going to tell the same story of rebels battling the empire against impossible odds? And more importantly, how many times are people going to buy it? The cultural significance of Star Wars with the newer generations proves that marketing is still a powerful tool to convince consumers to buy, and now that Disney owns the rights, Star Wars is on track to become the most overrated franchise in history.

I don’t use the word “overrated” lightly, either. The notion of judging someone else’s judgment is a little too meta for me, but still. I can’t help but wonder if people lack so much imagination nowadays that once they see it projected on a big movie screen, it becomes excellent, no matter what. It reminds me of magpies, a bird that is attracted to shiny objects merely because it reflects light. If you tell a lie long enough, eventually you will start to believe it. Case in point? Star Wars.

Think about the story of Anakin and Luke Skywalker. Two young boys from a peasant lifestyle that get ripped from their homes and discover their new life with ultimate powers that changes the universe forever. There is nothing original about that, and yet, every Star Wars fan I talk to raves about how awesome the movies are. I don’t get it. The protagonists are whiny and weak, and they make the rebels look like hypocrites. Everyone knows that the best characters in the movies are the bad guys, and you aren’t even supposed to be rooting for them.

The original concept from 1977 had some creative and noteworthy plot twists, and the visual design was impressive considering there were no computers back then. I guess if you give viewers enough of a startle, they will love you forever. The brother and sister relationship between Luke and Leia was a bit of a surprise, but now HBO uses it in nearly every episode of Game of Thrones.

If you like Star Wars, good for you. My beef is not with the original films, which I still think are “meh.” My confusion arises from the amount of popularity Star Wars gets with lame dialogue, an unrealistic expectation of greatness, and recycled storylines.


When is a Slip Someone Else’s Fault?

I’d like to tell you a personal story. My mother was a teacher, and she fell once in the school cafeteria. She ended up injuring her knee so badly that she had to have surgery, lay on a cot for about six months, and go through another six months of physical therapy. She got better, and she ended up not paying for any of this, but only because she knew she wasn’t at fault, the school was.

That was crucial because the school tried to claim otherwise. She knew her rights, though, and the fact the school hadn’t posted a sign that the floor was slippery was enough, with a little effort, to get them to cover all the expenses of her rehabilitation.

That story sticks with me, and it makes me want to make sure others are aware when they aren’t at fault for accidents that occur to them. People need to know because the first thing a business, school, or insurance company is going to do is sow a little doubt into that story, trying to place the guilt on the injured person in order to save money.

So, how can you know that a slip or a fall isn’t you just being clumsy but is the fault of someone else? The lawyers of Mazin and Associates, PC, have thankfully provided a few great tips. According to them, it all comes down to negligence. If the owner of the property where you fell has been negligent in providing you enough information to be aware you may fall, you probably have a very good case, and you should be confident you deserve to be compensated or at least have your bills covered.

What does negligence look like?

The Mazin attorneys give a number of excellent examples. Bad lighting that makes it hard to see where you’re stepping is one example, another is a location having excessively slippery floors (and, it might be added, not putting up signs to explain that fact). Also, a location not removing snow or ice or allowing other dangerous conditions to exist on their property. This can be as simple as a store not doing enough to clear the ice from its parking lots or even a neighbor refusing to shovel the sidewalks.

If any of these conditions were present when you fell, or if there were conditions you feel were of a similar sort, you are probably on very firm ground (which must be a relief at this point) when it comes to your demands to have your bills seen to.

I will always admire my mother for standing up so firmly to the pressure put on her by her employer and by their insurance agency. All it took was a little firmness for them to wilt and to decide to pay for everything. I bet the opposite result occurs every day for people who don’t know they are in the right. I hope this article helps those people a little going forward.

Helping Your Kids Through a Separation or Divorce

When dealing with a highly stressful and emotional experience such as separation or divorce, it can be especially difficult if you have children. The children are dealing with an actual breakup of their family and deal with their own emotions of grief, confusion, sadness, and loss. The children can blame themselves for something that really was not their fault. It is important to reach out to the children and let them know that their well-being is a top priority. According to Kessler & Solomiany, LLC, in the process of focusing on their well-being, you can potentially provide the attention and support necessary to ease them through the divorce process and ease their pain as well.

At any age, divorce can be rather difficult. With smaller children, it can be rather challenging to talk to your kids about separation or divorce, while still trying to demonstrate that you still love and care for them. By listening to your kids and reassuring them that they will get through this stressful transitional period of their life, you can make a difference in how the children cope overall.

The children need to have stability and structure, now more than ever. If they can count on you to provide that structure through regular routines, whether it is school or fun activities, you are reminding them of that stability that they need right now. Further, staying on good terms with the ex will help a lot so that the children don’t have to hear any disagreements or arguments and get further stressed about the separation or divorce.

Your children want to know that they matter to both parents, especially during this difficult time. You can plan upcoming parties or celebrate special occasions for the kids, where both parents are in attendance. The kids want both parents to be involved in their lives, even if the spouses are not together anymore.

Parents can send notes or make phone calls to the kids, and they can ask the kids a lot of questions about school or their other activities, such as sports, music or arts.  The parents can try to communicate well with each other so that the children don’t feel like they are relaying messages back and forth to each parent. Parents can stop fighting or arguing around the children so that the kids don’t feel like they are to blame or that they did something wrong. Kids don’t want to have to take sides against one parent or the other.

The children must be able to count on both parents to teach them what is right and to help them whenever they have problems or just want to talk about anything. Remembering that stability and structure are very important, the parents can even ask for their kid’s help with home projects or household chores. Helping the kids to feel needed can go a long way in easing the burden of a separation or divorce. Giving your full attention to kids when they ask for it increases the stability of the family unit so that it can maintain itself, even if the spouses are separating or divorcing.

Surface Rights Versus Mineral Rights

While not all of us are fortunate enough to own land at all, some individuals are lucky enough to own land AND own land that sits on valuable resources like oil, gas, and minerals. These extremely valuable resources can be mined for huge profits, but only by companies that know how to explore, extract, and process them. That’s why property owners often consider selling their mineral rights to interested and qualified buyers who know how to get them out of the ground efficiently and effectively.

Say you are a property owner and say you have a pretty good suspicion that you have some valuable resources on your land. It should be easy just to sell those rights and collect the profit, right? Well, unfortunately, it is not always that easy. When it comes to land rights, there are two different types, called “estates,” and they are not always joined together. Surface rights are just what they sound like, ownership of the surface of the land. Mineral rights extend below the surface to the valuable, naturally occurring deposits below the ground. In some cases, the surface rights and mineral rights are “severed” meaning that the person who owns one does not own the other.

In fact, in the 1900’s, when many of the large oil and gas companies were really ramping up production in the U.S., they would often sell the surface rights to people who wanted to settle on the land, but would keep the mineral rights for themselves to later explore and develop when they saw fit. For some property owners, this means that their long-standing mineral rights actually belong to someone else, and they are not eligible to sell those rights.

If a landowner owns both the surface rights and the mineral rights to his or her land, that is known as a “fee-simple deed,” and it is much easier to sell, transfer, or gain royalties to the mineral rights on the property if this is the case. For people who have severed rights, the individual who owns the mineral rights can not only sell them; they can explore, develop, and produce the rights on that land (including the surface, within reason).

If you are unsure of whether or not you own the surface rights to your property, you can do some simple investigation into the ownership history of your property (and should be on the lookout for ownership by gas or oil companies, specifically) or you can hire a title company to do the research for you. It is a good idea to do this research so that you know the true extent of your ownership rights to your property, and if you have valuable resources underground, you might consider selling your mineral rights to a qualified buyer.

The more you know about surface rights and mineral rights, the more educated you can be during the property-buying process as well, so do some research, hire a company, and find out exactly how much of your property you really own.


How Rape Can Happen

Rape occurs when a person has engaged in sexual activity with another that has not given consent. According to the website of the Nashville sex offense lawyer Brent Horst, rape is a Class B Felony, with a fine of up to $25,000 and prison sentence of up to 30 years. It is even worse if the rape has involved coercion, force, or weapons, because it can be elevated into aggravated rape, which has elevated fines and prison sentences too, of up to $50,000 and 60 years.
These are just for the state of Tennessee, but they give you a clear idea on how devastating the consequences are for convicted rapists. But how can rape happen? It can happen in various instances, even on scenarios where it is not as obvious.


Through Force

One of the most known way rape can occur is through physical power, like when a stranger suddenly goes up into an unsuspecting woman and forces himself into her to satisfy his sexual needs. Due to its blatant nature, it is also the easiest case to win, because of the likely availability of physical evidence, like wounds.

Through Threat

Not all rape cases involve blatant use of strength. Many rape cases involve victims who are forced to give in to the sexual advances of the suspected rapist because the suspected rapist has made threats. Threats may come in many forms, but usually, they involve warnings of harm to the victim or the victim’s loved ones, if he or she fails to comply to the suspected rapist’s sexual demands.

Without Consent

One of the most important aspects of rape is that the sexual activity is non-consensual. This can occur on two ways. First, the victim may not be legally allowed to give consent because of his or her age, so the sexual activity, even if it technically features two individuals who have done it in their free will, is still legally non-consensual and therefore considered rape.
Second, the victim may be unable to give his or her consent. The best examples of this are individuals who are intoxicated, unconscious, or mentally incapacitated.

Amusement Park Accidents and Injuries

Amusement parks are places for recreation, but there are times where they are also places for disaster, especially if the property owners, managers, ride designers, and maintenance providers become negligent. According to the website of Williams Kherkher, those who have been hurt in amusement park accidents may have legal options to pursue against the negligent parties that have caused the accidents.

Common Causes of Accidents
Mechanical failure: Defects can lead to malfunctions on the rides or their parts. These malfunctions may come in many forms, such as detachments of safety harnesses and breakages of important ride components.

Maintenance issue: Rides are complicated marvels of engineering, and they need to be properly maintained to ensure that they are in top condition so they can perform their tasks efficiently and safely. Lack or improper maintenance may lead to defects and malfunctions.
Staff negligence: Operators and other amusement park staff have safety procedures to follow. Failing to do or enforce these procedures may result into accidents. The best example of this is the abrupt stoppage of rides.

Improper behavior: Fellow passengers and other people on the amusement park can also compromise your safety, such as those who stand while mid-air in the ride, bring out cameras and other objects while in the ride, and others who do not follow safety regulations.

Common Injuries from Accidents
Head injury: The head is very vulnerable to amusement park accidents, leading to complications like face disfigurement, skull fracture, and brain trauma.

Whiplash: The bumps and jolts associated with certain amusement park rides can catch the neck in a relaxed state, causing the neck to abruptly move forward and backward. This motion may be powerful enough to injure the neck and its surrounding areas.

Back injury: Detaching objects and extreme forces may be powerful enough to cause damage to the back area of victims. The worst back injuries involve the spinal cord. Injuries in the spinal cord may lead to paralysis and other complications that revolve around motor and sensory problems.

Broken bones: Many rides involve tremendous amounts of force, but they are safe. When the safe part has been compromised, the force may be strong enough to break bones, particularly in the arm and leg area, as they are often the exposed parts.

Drowning and other water-related injuries: There are also rides that involve water. Anything that can compromise the safety of passengers may lead to drowning, slipping, or falling off watercraft or elevated spaces.

Speed Limits are Intended to Keep People Safe

The faster a car travels, the lesser time it will take to reach its destination. But while speed may be advantageous time-wise, it can be a risk where road safety is the issue.

Speeding, as shown in the records of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), is the third major reason behind fatal car accidents. Every year, this ill road behavior causes about 13,000 fatal accidents.

Though the number of fatal car crashes has significantly been reduced during the past 10 years (from 42,000 annually to 36,000), the number of motor vehicle accidents continue to remain above five million, causing more than two million injuries. According to the NHTSA, ninety-four percent of car crashes are traceable to driver error. Driver error, which points to bad driving behavior, has become an epidemic on U.S. roads and highways. Its major classifications include drunk-driving, reckless driving, driving aggressively, distracted driving and speeding.

A driver, who goes above a determined speed limit, increases the risk of accident and compromises the safety of many others on the road. This is because speeding, as proven through studies and actual events, reduces a driver’s reaction time to danger, makes stopping or slowing down a vehicle much harder, and lessens a driver’s control over his/her vehicle; it would also be like inviting death if one were to drive at fast speeds while impaired by alcohol and/or illegal drugs.

Those who often drive above the set speed limit reason out that speeding enables them to be on time for appointment or work. Some say, however, that they are not aware of what the speed limit is; they feel that they are still in control of their vehicle even when driving over the speed limit; keeping up with slower drivers causes pressure; they will not be caught anyway or, even if they do get caught, damages, if they happen to cause any, will be paid by their insurance provider.

Aside from increasing the likelihood of a car accident, speeding also significantly affects the consequence of a car crash. This is because other than the possibility of causing major damage to properties, driving at fast speeds can also result to more severe injuries or death.

As much as some drivers may disagree with the particular limit imposed along a given stretch of road, Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg explain that speed limits are intended to keep people safe. When people choose to drive faster than the speed limit allows, for whatever reason they may claim to have, they demonstrate an obvious and willful disregard for the safety of others that is likely to make them liable for any accidents they cause.

The Challenges of Driving A Motorcycle

Most people prefer driving a motorcycle because it allows them to cut through traffic and reduce travel time tremendously. But while they offer convenience, motorcycles also put drivers at a greater risk of accidents than other vehicles. Figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revealed that motorcyclists accounted for 14 percent of all traffic deaths, 4 percent of all injuries, 18 percent of all occupant fatalities and 4 percent of all occupants’ injuries. In 2013, it accounted for 94 percent of 4,668 deaths.

According to the website of Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC, motorcycles not only pose serious threats to drivers but also susceptible to road conditions. There are several problems that a motorcycle faces which makes accidents involving them devastating. Here are some factors that can contribute to the seriousness of motorcycle accidents:

  • Visual Recognition. Motorcycles are less visible to other vehicles especially in intersections where 7 out of 10 motorcycle and other vehicle accidents occur. It is also difficult to see them during extreme weather conditions.
  • Road Hazards. Minor hazards to larger vehicles such as cars such as potholes, oil slicks, puddles, debris, uneven pavement and others are major hazards to a motorcycle.
  • Wobble Accidents. When running at high speed, the front end of a motorcycle may experience wobbling due to its instability. This is caused by a misalignment in the front and rear tires. If an accident is due to wobbling, the manufacture of the motorcycle may be held liable.
  • Riding Skills and Familiarity. Compared to a car, a motorcycle may require more skills and physical coordination. Many accidents have been attributed to lack of basic riding skills.

Common Injuries

When a driver loses control of the motorcycle, they experience different kinds of injuries which may include the following:

  • Concussion and brain damage. During a collision and without a safety gear, the head may get in contact with other vehicles or a hard object. Wearing a helmet can lessen the risk of death by 37 percent.
  • Broken joints. The elbows, shoulder, hips, knees, or wrists may become broken during an accident. Make sure you have protective pads specially in the shoulders and pelvis, which are the most susceptible joints to break.
  • Biker’s Arm. This is a condition wherein the nerves in the upper arm get damage during an accident. This may result to permanent paralysis of arm movement.
  • Facial Disfigurement. Without a full-face helmet, the slide may slide across the ground or smash into an object.

When driving a motorcycle, it is best to be always on the safe side than lose your ability to ride.

Drunk Driving Kills

You should never accept your fate in a drunk driving offense before talking it over with an experienced attorney. There are many factors which could contribute to an improper charge being given, whether it’s an incorrect breath test reading or an unfair field sobriety tests. Attorneys fight for your rights and look for any infraction to reverse or change your charge(s).

An attorney can assist with cross-examining a police report. These reports are written on the spot by a police officer to act as a narrative for the incident. There are often contradictions within these reports that a skillful attorney can use in court against the officer. The report is used as a conclusive method of describing why the arrest took place, but it doesn’t have to be taken as the final word in relation to your case.

A failed field sobriety test is another unfortunate circumstance that be turned around with the help of an attorney. According to James Powderly, this test is “seldom ever given correctly” and highlights the fact that “balancing tests are very unfair and difficult to perform regardless of alcohol consumption.” An experienced attorney will know how these tests are scored and meant to be given, giving them the ability to see through an incorrectly administered test.

Drug crimes are also often seen as too difficult to escape, but an attorney can work to protect your rights and freedom. By working closely with an attorney to examine the charges against you, you could have one or even all your charges dismissed or drastically decreased in severity. Do not accept a plea bargain or waive your right to a fair trial without an attorney fully investigating your case. Click here to learn more about how you can defend yourself against a drug charge.

The Volkswagen Scandal and the Dangers of Nitrogen Oxides

It has been over a week since the massive scandal of Volkswagen’s “defeat devices” became public. Volkswagen admitted to installing over 480,000 US vehicles and 11 million worldwide with these devices that could detect when an emission test was being performed. During an emissions test, the device activated and reported pollutant readings below the legal limit. However, the real-world tests of VW vehicles showed discrepancies of up to 10 to 40 times the legal limit of nitrogen oxides.

Nitrogen oxides are dangerous pollutants that are heavily regulated by the Clean Air Act and many organizations. They contribute to smog and other harmful effects on the environment such as particulate matter and ozone damage. Most troubling, nitrogen oxides are associated with a wide range of health problems in individuals. Exposure to nitrogen oxide has been linked to increased asthma attacks, other serious respiratory conditions, and cardiovascular disease. These dangerous effects have been shown in individuals suffering from previous respiratory conditions as well as healthy individuals.

Troublesome facts like these linked to nitrogen oxides have added to the immense criticism Volkswagen has received for their cheating scandal. Although the company has issued numerous apologies for their cheating, they still may face up to $18 billion in fines for their violation of the Clean Air Act and countless class action law suits. In addition, Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn has already resigned while the amount of employees involved in the scandal remains unclear.

Owners of the affected vehicles are outraged after the car they bought specifically for its environmentally friendly impact was actually doing the exact opposite. Although sales of affected vehicles have been halted across dealers, no VW cars have officially been recalled yet. Owners of the affected vehicles have been told to still drive their vehicles until further action by VW is taken.

« Previous Entries