Craig Smallwood of Oahu filed a federal lawsuit earlier this year against the makers of the online virtual-world game Lineage II for failing to warn him that he would become so addicted to playing it that he would be “unable to function independently in usual daily activities such as getting up, getting dressed, bathing or communicating with family and friends.” (Smallwood claims to have spent 20,000 hours over five years playing.) In August, Judge Alan Kay declined to dismiss the lawsuit and set it for trial.
START ’EM YOUNG
More than a half-million children in the U.S. take antipsychotic medicines and (reported The New York Times in September) even “the most reluctant [doctors] encounter a marketing juggernaut that has made antipsychotics the nation’s top-selling class of drugs by revenue, $14.6 billion last year, with prominent promotions aimed at treating children.” In one psychiatrist’s waiting room, observed the Times reporter, “Children played with Legos stamped with the word Risperdal,” an antipsychotic made by Johnson & Johnson. (The company, which recently lost its patent on the drug, said it has stopped handing out the toys—which it insisted were not toys at all but advertising reminders for doctors.)
GAY IT AIN’T SO
Three self-described bisexual men filed a federal lawsuit in April against the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance for disqualifying them from the Gay Softball World Series in Seattle in 2008 because they were not sufficiently gay. Teams were limited to two heterosexuals, and when the men’s team won second place, questions were raised about the three until organizers took them aside and asked “intrusive” questions about their sexual attractions and desires. Ultimately, they were disqualified as being too straight. The alliance acknowledged that it has no standards for judging gayness level, but explained, as a private organization, that it is not subject to federal law.
HOME UNSWEET HOME
Between suicide, murder, assault, drunken driving and drug use, the soldiers of the 4th Brigade, 1st Armored Division, at Fort Bliss, Texas, have been statistically in greater peril while stateside than while deployed in Iraq. During the last year in Iraq, the brigade lost only one soldier to combat, but in the previous year stateside, seven were killed and four people died in crimes committed by brigade personnel.
(1) At a rally in Washington, D.C., in July denouncing employers who hire nonunion carpenters, many of the chanting protesters were nonunion day workers hired by the carpenters’ union to make the demonstration look bigger, according to a Wall Street Journal report. (2) In August, Jim Callaghan, a long-time writer on the headquarters staff of the United Federation of Teachers, was fired after trying to organize his colleagues into their own union local. Callaghan said that UFT staff deserve the same protections as the teachers they represent. (A UFT spokesman said most UFT employees are already unionized.)
The Republican candidate for governor of Colorado, Dan Maes, explained in August that he began the campaign supporting “green” programs, such as Denver’s innovative “bike-sharing” project, but that he has rethought his position. Now, he told reporters, environmental programs are, in reality, plots. “If you do your homework and research, you realize that [encouraging people to park their cars and ride bikes in the city] is part of a greater strategy to rein in American cities under a United Nations treaty.”
(1) Gerald Maxwell, 39, a convicted burglar who was caught in August breaking into the same Sarasota, Florida, home he had broken into last year, quickly tried to explain his innocence to officers. “I was going back in there to leave a thank-you note, because I’m the guy who burglarized this place last year [and] I just got out of jail.” (2) Terrance Mitchell was arrested in Waterloo, Iowa, in July, identified from video as the man who tried to shoplift surveillance equipment from a store. Mitchell was thus apparently unaware that stores that sell surveillance equipment might operate surveillance cameras.