Sunday, March 9, 2008

What lies beneath


Archaeologists Unveil Finds in Rome Digs



ROME (March 8) - A sixth-century copper factory, medieval kitchens still stocked with pots and pans, and remains of Renaissance palaces are among the finds unveiled Friday by archaeologists digging up Rome in preparation for a new subway line. Archaeologists have been probing the depths of the Eternal City at 38 digs, many of which are near famous monuments or on key thoroughfares.

Over the last nine months, remains--including Roman taverns and 16th-century palace foundations--have turned up at the central Piazza Venezia and near the ancient Forum where works are paving the way for one of the 30 stations of Rome's third subway line.

"The medieval and Renaissance finds that were brought to light in Piazza Venezia are extremely important for their rarity," said archaeologist Mirella Serlorenzi, who is working on the site. Serlorenzi said that among the most significant discoveries in a ninth-century kitchen were three pots that were used to heat sauce. Only two others had been found previously in Italy. The copper "factory" was used to work on copper alloys, and it consisted of small ovens, traces of which can be seen. Small copper ingots were found and are being analyzed.

The archaeological investigations are needed only for stairwells and air ducts, as the 15 miles of stations and tunnels will be dug at a depth of 80 to 100 feet--below the level of any past human habitation, experts said. However, most of the digs still have to reach the earth strata that date back to Roman times, where plenty of surprises may be waiting. That may create problems between planners and conservationists, officials said.

"It is impossible that there will not be situations of conflict. We know that in some cases the conflict will create a removal of ancient ruins," Rome's archaeological superintendent Angelo Bottini told The Associated Press. Under Italy's strict conservation laws, it will be up to Bottini's office for Rome to decide whether a find will be removed, destroyed or encased within the subway's structures. Countless public and private works have been scrapped over the years in Rome and across Italy, and it is not uncommon for developers to fail to report a find and plow through ancient treasures.

Wow, what a neat story, except for the last line. Ancient artifacts destroyed by developers?! AGH! Reading stories like that reminds me of how when I was in grade school, I wanted to be an archaelogist. I still love reading about finds like this, and imagine how exciting it would be to come across such a discovery. Heck, I get excited when I find things in our yard! We've found an old metal roller skate, parts of a bridle, railroad spikes, and a horseshoe. A while back, Ken got me a metal detector, so perhaps I'll take a little hike in the woods this spring, before the vegetation gets too crazy. We know from talking to neighbors that there was a house in front of our existing house back in the early 1900's (you can barely see the foundation), and there was a log cabin way back in our woods. We've found an old iron bed frame back there, and there is a tree of about a foot in diameter growing up through it. I love stuff like that.

I really enjoyed that story, but as I was reading the paper, I came across one that irritated the heck out of me.

Gambler chases $20M long-shot casino suit

By Wayne Parry, Associated Press

ATLANTIC CITY — She was an ambitious lawyer and TV commentator who started going to Atlantic City casinos to relax, and soon was getting high-roller treatment that included limousines whisking her to the resort. But her gambling spun out of control. She said she would go days at a time at the tables, not eating or sleeping, brushing her teeth with disposable wipes so she didn't have to leave. She says her losses totaled nearly $1 million.

Now she's chasing the longest of long shots: a $20 million racketeering lawsuit in federal court against six Atlantic City casinos and one in Las Vegas, claiming they had a duty to notice her compulsive gambling problem and cut her off. "They knew I was going for days without eating or sleeping," Arelia Taveras said. "I would pass out at the tables. They had a duty of care to me. [Italics mine] Nobody in their right mind would gamble for four or five straight days without sleeping."

Experts say her case will be difficult to prove, but it provides an unusually detailed window into the life of a problem gambler. "It's like crack, only gambling is worse than crack because it's mental," said Taveras, 37, a New Yorker who now lives in Minnesota. "It creeps up on you, the impulse. It's a sickness."

She lost her law practice, her apartment, her parents' home, and owes the IRS $58,000. She said she even considered swerving into oncoming traffic to kill herself. In interviews with the Associated Press, Taveras admitted she dipped into her clients' escrow accounts to finance her gambling habit. She was disbarred last June, and faces criminal charges stemming from those actions, but is trying to work out restitution agreements in order to avoid a prison term.

Her lawsuit names Resorts Atlantic City, Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, the Tropicana Casino Resort, the Showboat Casino Hotel, Bally's Atlantic City, as well as the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The casinos deny any wrongdoing, maintaining in court papers that Taveras brought her problems on herself. Casino representatives either declined to comment for this report or did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Joe Corbo, president of the Casino Association of New Jersey, said casino workers undergo extensive training on spotting problem gamblers and referring them to help, including a self-exclusion list the state maintains. Gamblers can voluntarily bar themselves from casinos, either for a few years or for life. While they're on the list, casinos cannot solicit them. Dan Heneghan, a spokesman for the state Casino Control Commission, said 663 people are on the list. "This can be a delicate situation, and it comes down to an individual's personal responsibility," Corbo said. "We can only suggest that they receive assistance and provide information how they can obtain help, but it is up to them to commit to seek it."

Paul O'Gara, an attorney specializing in Atlantic City gambling issues, said it will be difficult for Taveras to prove that the casinos knew she had a problem but ignored it. "How are you supposed to know whether this was a woman who was just having a good time, or had money and was just lonely, as opposed to someone who couldn't control themselves?" he said.

As an escape from the seven-day-a-week pressures of her law practice, she started going to Atlantic City to unwind in September 2003.

Taveras spent nearly a year in clinics to treat her gambling addiction. She filed her lawsuit last September, representing herself [Italics mine], and is now working at a telephone call center in Minnesota. "Everybody says 'You gambled and you enjoyed yourself, then lost your money and now you want it back,"' Taveras said. "They think gambling is fun. It isn't, believe me. Not when you get like I did."

I have zero sympathy. None. Zilch. Nada. Are you getting the impression that I don't feel one bit sorry for her? You're right! I don't! She knew she had a problem, and she could have gotten help at any time. Every casino I've ever been in has the Gamblers Anonymous phone number displayed somewhere, and even if it didn't, I'm sure the number or the web site isn't too difficult to find. Dealers come and go, so they wouldn't necessarily pay attention, but I'm pretty sure everything is filmed, so I DO wonder why they didn't notice this woman sitting there for so long. I also find it very hard to believe that she was allowed to pass out at the tables and nothing was done. I'm pretty sure that any casino would get her passed-out butt out of that chair and replace it with the butt of a paying customer.

But the details are immaterial to me. She knew she had a problem, and she chose to not get help when she needed it. Her comment, "They had a duty of care to me," is exactly what disturbs me most about not just this story, but about so many things in our society. We absolve ourselves of all responsibility and choice, and expect everyone around us to watch out for our happiness, health, and well-being. What a bunch of hooey. She stole from her clients to finance her problem, and now she wants people to feel sorry for her? Well, I don't.

The other thing I italicized in the story was the observation that she filed the lawsuit and represented herself, proving once again the phrase, "Your Honor, my client is an idiot!"



buckoclown said...

Preaching to the Choir Sister.  As you know, I have zero tolerance for freeloaders of any type.  The sense of entitlement our society has established is very disappointing.  

Still say, Vegas or NO, here we come Baby :o)

luvrte66 said...

I had to ask about the "Vegas or NO" comment from Ken. No Vegas? Wha---? NO stands for New Orleans in this case. Either one, I'm up!


frankandmary said...

I live in NJ & this has already been discussed to death here. While I do feel that many people, even when given options to "help" themselves at times, simply feel they cannot, that does not make everyone else but them responsible. I have been the "do gooder" who has tried to help others who were not currently helping themselves & they hated me for it.  I'll bet along the way many people tried to "help" her & she viewed them with scorn. Hey, they were stepping on her dream; she was going to win big....  I saw someone trip at Trump once, & 8 people rushed forward.
What if all the people she'd hurt with her addiction sued her?  She will be the type who tells you she didn't hurt anyone "but herself."  When you have an addiction, you hurt many people, over & over, regardless of whether you have the guts to admit that or not; who they gonna sue?
It is convenient to be cowardly & buck pass or shift blame, but it won't fly in court in this case. ~Mary

queeniemart said...

it should be criminal to make up lawsuits of no merits that take money to handle and also criminal for anyone to come upon a true find from so long ago and ignore it or destroy it in the name of making a dime in profit.

hugs, lisa

orangedoublezero said...

oh, that gambling story struck a nerve with me too, beth.  supposedly she's an intelligent person since she was a lawyer, but it just galls me that she expected the casino to look out for her best interests.  it all comes down to personal responsibility, and for some reason, a large number of people just don't have it.  i have news for that woman:  YOU are responsible for your actions.  i'm reminded of that coffee lawsuit against mcdonald's many years ago where the woman sued the golden arches because their hot coffee burned her crotch when it spilled after she had put it between her legs while driving.  that one STILL angers me, not only because she filed the suit to begin with, but because she WON!  i hope this new jersey woman loses he case.  justice must prevail.