Followup on “‘Inmate’…” forthcoming

Just a brief note: I will be following up on my post a couple weeks ago entitled “Inmate” does not mean “no longer human”. If you go back to the comments section of the original Houston Press story, you may notice comments from Alan Bernstein, the public affairs director for the Harris County Sheriff’s Department. (To be fair, I had no cause to check back on the original article and did not notice these comments until today.) It shouldn’t be a big surprise to anyone that Mr. Bernstein takes exception to the Houston Press story as written; I have a copy of the same memo that Mr. Bernstein sent to Randall Patterson and his editor and have read it.

So, in the interest of fairness, among others, I do plan to write a followup. I just don’t have all the information in hand to do so just yet. It may be another week but it is on the schedule.

#best09 – Trip, restaurant moment, book, night out

Okay, I’m going to go ahead and try to knock out a few of these. These are from Gwen Bell’s Best of 2009 Blog Challenge. Some of these I’m really going to have to wing it on.


This one’s going to be pretty hard. I didn’t really take any notable trips this year, not in the sense of actually leaving the city. I didn’t even make my usual annual venture to the Texas Renaissance Festival.

I’d have to say the closest thing I have to a “trip” would have to be the adventure that was me attending the Houston Press Music Awards Showcase. My car had suffered an untimely breakdown maybe a week before. So, I’m off to a grand start, being the guy that treks into something like this on the bus.

Maybe I should have investigated this more thoroughly before I left; when I arrived I was never told exactly where “will call” was for those of us who bought the $5 early bird tickets in advance. So, I trekked into the heart of downtown on foot, stumbled into Dean’s (I think) and asked the guy. Only to be told, oh, it’s on the very west end of downtown, over by the Hard Rock Cafe. Now, I’m at Main and Preston; the Hard Rock is a good seven-block hike away. Thankfully I had the shuttle to take me back to Isis for the first show (because I really did not feel like walking all the way back in the heat). In the end, I had a blast, and little did I know that this event combined with certain other things to happen later that summer would inspire me to start Quinn’s Big City which has been going strong since late August. I’m still wishing I had already started it a week prior instead of over a month later. Live and learn…

Restaurant moment

That would have to be my first trip to Block 7 Wine Company with my mom. It seems silly but a simple thing like the venison “sloppy Giuseppe” sandwich sold me on the place. I definitely plan to go back yet again (I have visited once since).


This is kind of sad. I need to read more. I have only read two books this year, one of those being Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People (which I didn’t even finish). So for the moment that’ll have to be it.

Night out

Wow. There are way too many choices for this one, given there have been so many during just the past three months alone. I’d have to give the nod to the reception at Second Seating with the LED throwie light graffiti with a close second going to the Battle of the Bands at House of Blues in April, where I heard Low Man’s Joe for the first time, and wound up leaving with a copy of their album Where I Stand.

The case of the clueless insurance adjuster

A blog entry details the plight of Nathalie Blanchard, a 29-year-old IBM employee from Quebec.

As the story goes, Nathalie took a long-term sick leave from her job due to depression. Following the advice of her doctor, she took a vacation to get away from her problems. Then one day, her monthly sick-leave benefits quit coming in. Nathalie’s call to Manulife, the insurance company which handles her benefits, had the most surprising of answers: based upon pictures posted to Facebook, the company had reached a conclusion that she was once again fit to work.

Well, not surprisingly, Manulife’s version, filtered through their PR department, is different:

According to CBC news, the insurer has confirmed that they do indeed use Facebook to investigate their clients, but the company claims that it wouldn’t “deny or terminate a valid claim solely based on information published on websites such as Facebook”.

It is obvious to me that whoever made this decision is at best uneducated about depression. I have had friends who suffer from depression and the appearance of happiness in one moment is far from any indication that one is “cured” of depression. It’s not that simple. Notwithstanding the fact that the photographs document that Nathalie followed the doctors orders, I have to wonder what the heck the people at Manulife could have been thinking here.

Indeed, it makes no more sense to make this judgment than it does to take a picture of an insomniac appearing to be sleeping and present that as evidence the person is “cured,” as alluded to later in the article. Whoever said “common sense isn’t so common anymore” was definitely on to something.

The Dallas experiment

The New York Times reports on a rather disturbing development at the Dallas Morning News.

Some of the senior news editors, specifically the sports and entertainment segment editors, are being asked to report directly to the general manager in addition to maintaining a relationship to the editor and managing editor.

[Bob Mong, the editor of the Dallas Morning News,] said the announcement caused some unease among reporters and editors, and “they had all the questions I would hope they would have, and believe me, they’ll be very vigilant.” He said editors were told explicitly to fight back if they were told to do anything unethical.

Another quote further down the article states that the change grew out of a situation where no advertising employees focused on an online section added by the sports department. While this is certainly one way to keep the problem from recurring, in general I have to question the prima facie connotations of news people reporting to those in charge of advertising sales. It definitely gives the implication that ethics are being set aside even if in reality the ethical issues are being addressed adequately.

I can only imagine how fast the FCC would swoop down on a TV or radio station that did something like this. I wish I had more time to keep an eye on the Dallas Morning News over the coming months to see just what becomes of these changes. Or maybe I won’t have to, and those asked to compromise ethics in reporting the news wind up being part of the news instead. It is understandable that reporters don’t want to wind up being the subject of reports themselves, but should this become a trend it has the potential to trigger the downfall of news reporting as we know it today. And that would be a shame.

Apologies for the slightly glitched version that was posted earlier. I am in the middle of testing some new blog editing software that did not function as well as I had hoped.

Taking down the weasels: Google sues the scam artists

Better late than never. Credit goes to ReadWriteWeb for being the first place where I read about this recent development.

It’s rare I find something a large corporation does that is worthy of praise, but this is one such situation. The official Google blog reveals that, finally, the corporate behemoth has decided it’s time to drag the weasels into court. Yes, weasels. Anyone remember those posts? (It’s a three-part series, in case you weren’t around in April when I first posted them.)

I lament that it took Google at least eight months to catch on to what was obviously dubious appropriation of their trademark. In fact, with the inclusion of “Google” in the dictionary, the company has already come dangerously close to losing its trademark.

At least, we hope, a few scam artists will be bankrupt shortly, and the sunlight from Google’s official blog will probably scare the rest of them into hiding for a while.