Friday, December 31, 2004

So This is Law School?

No, I don't write parody songs but before coming to law school I had thought about making my thoughtful yet witty observations of law school life here. To make up for any shortcomings in this area, I'd like to offer this year-end review.


UC Berkeley has some of the most beautiful buildings. Is Boalt Hall one of them? Not on your life. Come to Boalt if your diet is lacking asbestos, lead, and other toxic chemicals. Surpisingly, Boalt is not the most highly contaminated building on campus. I can't say anything bad about the classrooms. But then again I have a nuclear powered laptop so I didn't really need electrical outlets anyway (they installed outlets in the large lecture halls this past summer and during the semester all the small seminar rooms were properlly equipped as well).


Some are just a pain in the ass, others are strange, yet others offer memorable and not so memorable lines here, here, here, and here.

The People

Before coming to law school a friend of mine, let's call her umm Lindy, told me about some of the stereotypical law students based in large part on The Paper Chase and Legally Blonde (e.g. the guy going nuts studying or the chick with pink rollie thing). While these have largely been proven true, there is something general I'd like to say about my fellow students. They are for the most part all brilliant and all well grounded socially (no mad scientists walking the halls and talking to themselves). And I think that's what I'm most thankful for...meeting all these incredible people and actually getting to know them...even if they did give me an inferiority complex for a while. [Read: I've come to realize that quite a few of my classmates read this blog therefore I'm not really free to gossip without serious repercussions]

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The Write-In Candidate

[Note: I originally intended to post this after the election but did not have the time to do so] With all these talks of voter irregularities, I dug up this gem from the Daily Bruin about last spring's Student Bar Association elections at UCLA Law. Actually the only relevant part is:

"Write-in votes were encouraged this year to increase the competitiveness of the election, Henderson said, and on a lighter note, some voters penciled in familiar candidates like Montgomery Burns and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Other write-ins included Fat Tony, Some Other Abercrombie Drone and 'WTF is a parliamentarian? I bet we don't need one.'"

I'd PAY to see all write-in results from this past presidential election. But a quick LEXIS search reveals the bad news:

"Gov. Joe Frank Harris has signed into law a measure relieving Georgia elections officials of the chore of counting write-in votes for Mickey Mouse and other non-existent candidates.The new law stipulates that election workers will not have to count write-in votes for any candidate who fails to serve notice of his write-in candidacy at least 20 days before the election." LA Times, April 4, 1987, at A18.


Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The $64,000 Question!

WTF is up with blogger not updating post counts since November 4?


Monday, December 27, 2004

New Book

Just used a Christmas gift card to pick up Law & Literature by Richard Posner. So far (a few pages in) it is incredible in its scope and insight.

Yes, I'm a convert. He is a very wise fellow. I may not always agree with him, but he's definitely thinking.

The Man In The Iron Mask

Is Jeremy Blachman, Harvard 3L? One of the most prolific student blawggers, Blachman scored a PR coup on December 26 when he was unmasked as the "anonymous hiring partner" behind the popular (and now, clearly, satirical) "Anonymous Lawyer" blog. In the New York Times. Now, I'm happy for Jeremy. His own blog, noted above, is -- when he's not trying to be funny -- often one of the most earnest, honest and unpretentious law student blogs I've come across. But I'm curious: doesn't the Times have more important news to be covering than unmasking anonymous bloggers? I hope. I hope. I hope.


Hello, My Name Is Tacitus, And I Am...

...apparently really ungenerous with my time.

Perhaps it is another symptom of first year of law school (like carpal tunnel syndrome, elevated stress levels, hypertension, and myopia), but I find myself not in the holiday spirit when it comes to giving away what I now should have plenty of -- time.

I think it's a residual casualty of exam period, when every minute feels so precious, when you find yourself carrying an outline around on the bus so that you can glance at it during the ten minute ride to school, when you find yourself subconsciously running through elements of various actions even in mid-conversation.

So anyway, I arrive home for two weeks of time off from the pressures of law school (of course, this opens one up to the equally imposing pressures of family, but that is a topic for another post, or a whole different blog). I spent the first day running around the city looking for the "perfect gift" for everyone. I felt great. Then Christmas eve arrives, and I am set up for two straight days of family time. And despite the comforts of home and family, I find myself constantly distracted by thoughts of what "productive" things I should be doing. For. Two. Straight. Days.

I am thinking about letters I need to send to firms and organizations for summer jobs. I am thinking about brushing up my resume a little more. I am thinking about what books I need to buy for classes. I confess: I even had a dream/nightmare (it was fairly neutral, really) last night about receiving first semester grades.

When I was working as a consultant -- particularly when I was working freelance, and every dollar came to me -- it became second nature to think of my time literally as money. Every hour that I wasn't billing, I felt somehow needed to matter in other ways -- "quality" time (with family and friends), necessary "down" time (just chillin') or "life" time (errands and laundry and eating and such). I was sometimes ashamed of these feelings, but I also knew that they made me feel like I was getting the most out of every day.

When I came back to school, I was grateful to no longer think of time as money, but rather as opportunity to learn and grow. But the law school schedule, particularly around exams, have made me realize that when you have more things to do than time to do it in, time can be "precious" even when it has no positive monetary value. (It still has monetary value, of course, as every minute I am enrolled in school I am paying for.)

So I'm sitting around, trying to enjoy my crazy family, and still, I cannot escape the feeling of time pressure that has pervaded my life for the past four weeks -- and I feel pretty terrible about it. And hence, as I have in the past four weeks, to escape this pressure, I blog on... pointlessly. I guess I have more time on my hands than I thought!


Saturday, December 25, 2004

All I Want for Christmas

Is a very ironic headline care of AP Yahoo:

Rumsfeld Says Iraqis Must Stop Insurgents

In his warm holiday wishes, Rumsfeld later added that the Iraqis are free to take up arms against their brothers, their sisters...well he might as well have.


Yoo Two and Three and Four

Prof. Baughman offers his analysis of the Yoo memo from a poli sci perspective (here, here, and here, respectively). As I said earlier, I have not had the time yet to thoroughly read the memo, the newsweek story, or commentaries on the issue to write anything substantive. But suffice it to say, from what I've gathered so far, it really sounds like Yoo's memo can serve as a case study for the confirmation bias.


Friday, December 24, 2004

For Your Eyes Only...

Anyone interested in checking out my other areas of expertise is invited to check out my latest musings over that the Tacitus Project, on the YUKOS matter in Russia... They're not very organized, but I think you can get the gist of the story.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Just Finished First Interview


That was terrifying.

The clerk, a one S.V. is one intimidating interrogator over the phone. I think over the course of 32 minutes (love cell phones), he maybe spoke for two. The rest consisted solely of me trying to differentiate myself from others and not make a fool of myself in the process.

It began with the question: "So, tell me about yourself." (which, astute readers may notice, is not so much a question as a command).

After a brief explanation of my resume and how I found myself in law school, I got hit with the next great question: "What areas of the law are you interested in?"

Now, here's a dangerous question. Any answer will lead to more probing questioning on that topic. I waffle, and eventually decide that waffling is worse than finding a retreat, so I start naming names. Environmental law. IP. Constitutional law. "Oh really? What specifically? Which cases interest you?"

My use of the word "umm" borders on criminal at this moment. Anyway, I end up taking firm stances calling the Rehnquist Court wrong on the Amish-education case, the Warren court right on free speech, and generally saying very little else.

Of course, we ended up discussing books and Orwell and geopolitics. I say disparaging things about Vladimir Putin. A faux pas? I won't know until offers are made in a week and a half.

All in all, a terrifying experience, made more unnerving by the clerk's absolute inscrutable sense of business. There was no small talk, no pleasantries.

Here's hoping for some good grades to hedge those Northern District applications, you know, in case I did totally blow it somewhere in there.


And Now For Something Completely Different

I was watching MSNBC last night because the local public access channel didn't have anything good when I noticed the following conversation between the anchorwoman filling in for Chris Matthews and Tom Wolfe, author of I am Charlotte Simmons.

BROWN: OK, before we leave the topic of sex, I have you ask you, you`ve won numerous writing wards, obviously. This month, though, a British literary magazine bestowed you with the bad sex writing award for "I Am Charlotte Simmons." What is your reaction to that?

WOLFE: Well, do you know the old expression, you can lead a whore to culture, but you can`t make her think?


BROWN: No, but thanks for sharing.


WOLFE: In this case, you can lead an English literary don to irony, but you can`t make him get it. This award -- award -- is given -- given. It`s hurled actually by a tiny magazine which seems to be outside of Oxford or Cambridge or one of those places. Actually, I`m glad they -- the passage they refer to in which I used words like, you know -- this is the girl you were mentioning at the beginning of the show, the girl from the mountains of North Carolina off to this big university.

BROWN: Right.

WOLFE: And she has never had -- she`s a virgin, absolutely a virgin, and intends to stay that way. She`s never had foreplay before, part of which involves the male, if I may get into this, sticking his tongue in -- down...



WOLFE: I can tell you love this.
Now let's take a momentary pause from the convo to think WHAT Tom Wolfe could possibly be talking about. Hmmm...what on earth is he talking about? Any thoughts? No, you don't have to write them down. Well let's carry on and see what he meant.
WOLFE: And that used to be called French kissing. Today, they call it tonsil hockey, which is I think a much better name for it. And so -- but to the girl, this is not erotic. It`s clinical. So, she`s thinking about how the tongue is exploring her -- or...


WOLFE: Anyway...

BROWN: I`m with you. I got the point.
FRENCH KISSING. That's how he describes French Kissing. I think he needs to get the biggest prickteaser award.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Da One L's Last Final

I'm writing this for no other reason than to remind me in the future of my present state of mind. Finishing the first set of finals in law schools was quite exhilirating. As I've said to some, I no longer feel like a virgin 1L, but I feel as worked over as a crackwhore.


Sunday, December 19, 2004

Here's the Fame, Soon the Fortune?

From NY Times Magazine:

Not all blog gossip is about sex, of course -- or only about sex. As blogs expand, people will need to develop new social conventions to resurrect the boundaries between public and private interactions. Consider law professors, in whose privacy I take a special interest. There is a growing category of blogs, known as blawgs, in which law students across the country record their musings about their daily experiences in law schools. (The legally inclined Web ring now has about 450 members.) Professors have always had to assume the risk that performance in class will be publicly evaluated: a Web site called posts anonymous rankings of teachers across the country.

But unlike course-evaluation sites, many blawgs focus on far more than their teachers' public performances: they are essentially gossip sheets in which anonymous students transcribe conversations in and out of class with their professors and fellow students. For example, a blawg called Open and Notorious posted by students at a Washington law school was taken down after it posted graphic transcripts of conversations between professors and sycophantic students, as well as speculation about who was sleeping with whom.

At the law school where I teach, George Washington, I recently discovered that there are two anonymous student-run blawgs, Ambivalent Imbroglio and Life, Law, Libido. One includes photos and gossip items about student sex scandals, like the Capitol Hill intern (yes, another one) who broke up with one of his co-interns and then sent her a scathing e-mail message. The bloggers also include verbatim transcripts of their conversations with my colleagues not only in class but during office hours, augmented by unkind (if sometimes wickedly accurate) comments.

Now that I know that students may be reporting my after-class comments without my knowledge, I'm more likely to be circumspect in private conversations. Do I have any other remedies? One possibility might be to announce at the beginning of each term that all comments in the classroom are off the record to bloggers. But this kind of strategy is likely to backfire. In an Internet law class at Yale Law School, for example, Reed Hundt, the former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, agreed to speak on the condition that no news media be invited; during his talk, he discovered that student bloggers were enrolled in the class and asked them not to blog his remarks. This had the effect of enraging the bloggers, who insisted that they hadn't agreed not to blog in advance and had a First Amendment right to blog whatever they liked. (Prof. Al Gore made the same mistake when he unwisely tried to block the media from one of his classes at the Columbia Journalism School.)

''Once burned, twice shy,'' Hundt said, reflecting about his experience. ''I no longer try in any group larger than two or three people to establish any rules of confidentiality at all: what are you going to do, ask people to sign pieces of paper?'' Hundt said he has abandoned the idea that he can control his audiences and assumes that everything he says might be posted. But in a small act of revenge, he has started an anonymous blog of his own. ''It's in the nature of a private diary, but to tell you more would compromise its anonymity,'' he said coyly.

Man, I wuld love to see blogs from my professors, I bet it would be hilarious.

Yoo Be the Judge

So the DOJ has released the mother memo on presidential powers following 9/11 (hat tip: Carter, for Newsweek article on the memo see here). Not surprisingly it's written by none other than our very own John Yoo. I really have my two cents' worth on this, but Carter already did a great job of summarizing the whole problem with Yoo's mentality. He writes:

This memo doesn't just tell the President what the law is, it tells the President 1) what the author thinks the law ought to be, and perhaps more dangerously, 2) what the President wants to hear about the law.

This is not good lawyering, and it's not good public service. By taking such a precarious legal position, the author has set the President up for failure. Memoranda like this pushed the President to take an increasingly expansive view of his own powers, and engendered a kind of "group think" within the administration on these issues

Uh hum. Yoo made an attempt to justify the memos on the use of torture back in June in an LA Times Op/Ed, where the core of his thesis was that prisoners are not hotel guests. I responded to that in a letter that was actually published. I think that should adequately summarize my perspective:

With respect to the laws and international conventions against torture, Yoo writes, "General criminal laws are usually not interpreted to apply to either [the president or the military], because otherwise they could interfere with the president's constitutional responsibility to manage wartime operations. If laws against murder or property destruction applied to the military in wartime, for instance, it could not engage in the violence that is a necessary part of war."

Yet the Constitution commands the president to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." As the memos on torture, Abu Ghraib photos, and numerous accounts suggest, the administration has done nothing but evade its obligations. Searching for loopholes in the law is not quite "faithfully" executing them. Yoo is correct in saying we should not treat prisoners as if they are hotel guests. But then again, the Hanoi Hilton wasn't exactly a four-star hotel.


Saturday, December 18, 2004

Weird Arousals on the Westen Front

What I intended as a challenge to Buffalo Wings & Vodka of UT at Austin Law School has turned more on Prof. Crim Law's teaching methods. Well without further ado, here are some of his more memorable quotes.

“It’s not ok to kill someone if you know they’re going to slap you…or fondle you. You just have to put up with it.”

“I like cases because of their facts.” (talking about Regina v. Kingston, child molestation while drugged)

“That’s why women go to fraternity parties and fraternities give them free beer, they want their inhibitions released.”

“You read in folklore about the independent life that shadows have…it’s very provocative and stimulating…and SCARY.”

"I’m gonna be provocative now. "

“It’s just like what the fuck, I don’t like the way his hair looks.”

“Guys walk by a window and see someone undressing…they stop and look.”

“Think about this because I’m going to call on you to talk about your last sexual encounter. Oh Fuck, I’m not going to do that?”

“Well fuck you get out of here bitch.”

“Would she need battered women’s syndrome then?”


“NO, you’re right. I mean, you’re right, NO.”

“It’s akin to what the Mass. Supreme Court did with gay marriage. Things were going along…there was Will and Grace.”

“Would He have punished Adam and Eve if it had been a sting? It wasn’t really an apple it just looked like one.”

“Guy tries to smuggle Turkish anise.”

[I'd like to add that I'm really glad Heidi has validated myself and Ann who have always maintained that he's actually quite an excellent teacher of criminal law]



If "irony" were a visual concept, it would be this: one office at the ACLU, teeming with lawyers and volunteers, frantically working to protect the public from all manner of government data-mining and collection of private information, from the FBI to the local library to the possible introduction of a national ID card. In the office next door, the ACLU fund-raising team, employing sophisticated software that collects all manner of private information, from personal wealth to philanthropic interests.

The ACLU: Not Practicing What We Preach. Oh, And By The Way, Don't You Think About Preaching Either (Mind The Estabilishment Clause!)


Too Humble for His Hat

It appears that Armen didn't want to draw attention (again) to the fact that he's guesting over at denovo. Well, he's also being noticed up north. But this one is too, too funny to let pass. Anyone taking Westen's Crim class this semester must read this. The eggs must be referring to those crazy not-venn diagrams about the language of consent.


Guns Don't Kill People

Before anyone gets all up in arms, just let me make it clear for the record that the leanings I have toward gun rights is purely consequentialist -- gun rights are good if they they save lives on net (who would disagree?). That's why I am generally only instrumentally interested in the 2nd amendment debate and instead watch the number-crunchers for new results. So in light of the recently released opinion [hat tip: Volokh] from the Department of Justice's legal counsel on the private right to carry, I'd like to draw attention to old but interesting research that reminds us of what we already know: governments kill people. Of course, we in the U.S. like to think that such democide doesn't affect us. But by the numbers, the U.S. makes the top 30 of most deadly regimes in the modern era as a result of the near extermination of native americans. Would anyone contest that the outcome of that struggle had nothing to do with guns?

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Fact Patterns & a Hypo

Ever notice that Crim was torture, Torts was wholly unreasonable, and the intentions of the parties were always clear and subject to modification in the face of changing circumstances in Contracts?

I'm thinking I'll avoid family law and focus on urban law issues, perhaps dabbling in will & estates and a little bit of intellectual property rights.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Crouching Homo, Hidden Agenda

Sex Industry Funded Campaign Against New Stadium: Yeah, to the tune of like, $20,000 bucks. Um. Or maybe it was just a guy who owns a bunch of property in DC. But the properties house nightclubs, a porn store and maybe even an adult theatre. Oh, but they're gay nightclubs, and its a gay porn store.

On evidence that substantial you might as well just rewrite the headline:
"Gays Funded Campaign Against New Stadium". See, they're against baseball! And they're against marriage! More proof that the gays hate America.

Gimme a break.

Private Service Announcement

It might be radical to interrupt the number fest but I have my set of priorities. I'd like to point readers to my challenge to Texas Law student Wings and Vodka.

Tom's Sanity Test

Hello Tom! Welcome to the continuously growing set of clueless 1Ls. As I received such a warm welcome from my grandfather bloggers, I thought I ought to repay in kind.

I'm happy to see that Tom, well really just someone besides me, has noticed the rising innumeracy problem. But there's no need to go all the way to NY, signs exist much closer to home. Here's a sample.

In two of our three 1L classes, students actually asked the instructor whether we were going to have to do math on the final exam. Whhaaaaaa? Mind you, it would have been 3 for 3 if the 3rd class had been anything but Criminal Law, although that arrest profiling and death penalty bias data did get a bit racy! I was shocked. How could these people not be embarrassed to ask such a question? Could you imagine someone asking whether we would be expected to read on the exam? It's not as if they were going to ask us to do some high falutin' statistics or algebra! They were going to expect us to do ARITHMETIC. And we were all to be on an equal playing field since no one was allowed to use a . . . drum roll . . . calculator.

Let's put aside all the derivative social issues, etc., that make this kind of attitude possible let alone highly probable. Just consider the integral selfish interests of my fellow classmates at an elite law school. Do they not project that they will some day have to calculate billable hours? Oh, right, everyone is a public interest lawyer these days. Do they not think they will have to calculate how far below zero the bottom line of their "non-profit" organization is? Do they not think that they will some day have to calculate the annual rate of toxic dumping that Company X is doing and the related rate of social cost? Do they not think they will have to calculate the discounted net present value of a human life tragically ended at the age of 13 so that the barricade manufacturer (who produced a perfectly functioning traffic barricade but who has deep pockets as a result of producing perfectly functioning traffic barricades) can supplement the income of his parents who negligently bought their child a motorbike? (Oops, I seem to have gone off on a tangent.) Finally, and something that should hit very close to home for many of the people around here, do they not think that they might be a state Supreme Court justice who seeks guidance from a mathematician to understand election politics and might misunderstand the numbers to the detriment of an entire nation?

Ok, these may be extrema (I do tend toward hyperbole) but there exists an element of truth. The basis and range of my constant frustration appears infinite. I'm not saying anyone is a bad person for not knowing arithmetic. And I don't mean to be divisive. So what's my angle? I just suggest picking up a Schoolhouse Rock DVD (is it in the public domain?) and losing a little bit of the pride in our collective and multiplying functional innumeracy.


Thursday, December 16, 2004

Who's Your Favorite Apprentice?

All I'm saying...GO BRUINS!!!

(For some strange reason, Crimson and Orange just don't cut it for me)

UPDATE: Ok so Kelly won. The Donald is currently accepting applications for season four. So, military degree from UCLA...yeah, I too think he should apply.


Token post hiddine in the back to have these images online.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Hello World...

Well, I suppose I should have posted something by now. I'd like to say I've been earnestly studying for approaching finals, but that's only part of the truth, I've also been putting a lot more time into my daily newspaper reading.

What caught my eye today was the letters written in response to a Sunday piece in the Week in Review entitled "The Last Time You Used Algebra Was..." So, before reading these letters, I popped back and read the article. It was... well, it could have sparked disbelief and outrage were the chain of causation not severed by a more egregious act. In short, it's an article that ends with weak support for teaching algebra, but if you didn't get that far, you left thinking math was worthless.

Here is a link to the letters in response. Note the third one, written by this New York Law School professor (not NYU). He has a valid point: we really all do need more exposure to statistics when making decisions. Since Torts is looming, I think back to Stubbs, the Rochester disease case. It's founded on some inherently shaky statistics and it would be useful to have gone through that in class (whether it would have succeeded or not is another story and another rant for another time).

Anyway, back to the letter. Dear Professor, you cannot do statistics without algebra. It is fundamental and engrained. For example, for your consideration: z* = (obs-mean)/sigma. Hate to break it to you, but manipulating that is going to need algebra. So will doing simple things like figuring out how many people you need to interview to get your margin of error low enough to have a good poll.

It's a shame I'm too mellow to stay mad long.

So, it was nice chatting with all of you and anonymously capping on some distant prof who doesn't know me and did nothing to me - it really is what blogging is all about.

Back to working through criminal law in my head, and then dreading the Torts exam on the horizon...

Google™ Beats Geico™

In a potentially interesting trademark suit chronicled in this NY Times story. It will be interesting to see how many other similar suits arise, and how other judges rule. Tech law is not really my thing, so I'll leave it to others to comment intelligently.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

L'Affaire Hayekian

I would like to concur with Ann's post re: the liberal ideocracy prevailing at Boalt. It's not so stifling as one might expect, given Berkeley's reputation as a whole. However, Boalt is part of Berkeley (for better more often than for worse), and as such suffers from the same politically blindered (or myopic, if you prefer) tendencies.

The most tragic aspect of the predominance of "liberal" (by this I mean the contemporary PC definition, none of Ann's noted definitions) ideology at Boalt is that it robs students of chances to refine their views in the gladatorial (and yet safe) arena of academic debate. I have learned more throughout my life by engaging those who don't share my views than I've learned from those with whom I am in perfect accord (of course, the latter sample size is zero, so whatever, but you know where I'm going with this).

This is not to castigate my fellow classmates for their deeply held political views, which they are of course entitled to. But real intellectual debate requires an openness to differing perspectives that is unfortunately sometimes lost in the passion of people's individual beliefs here.

Of course, what with all the French historical references being tossed around, people are going to think we're all a bunch of namby-pamby cheese-eating surrender monkeys anyway.


The End of the World as We Know It

I've heard people say before that all the good men are gone. But I never expected this.

Monday, December 13, 2004


So I've recently been accused of the worst of all possible crimes at Boalt -- being illiberal. My defense is that, given any well-constructed definition of liberalism, i.e., a policital philosophy not just a party platform, I am at least as liberal as any Boalt student. I offer two reference points --a definition of classical liberalism and a definition of American liberalism. [Edit: I should have also added Democratic Socialism.] In light of these definitions, I would argue that the neither of the two poles in current American politics are liberal, each pick and choose from these ideals only as is convenient. And that anyone claiming American liberalism cannot be satisfied with today's political "left" and anyone claiming classical liberalism cannot be satisfied with today's political "right." J'accuse.


Peterson's Grace

I have gone on rants against Nancy Grace thrice before (see here, here, and here) and today I noticed Orin Kerr of VC write the following about the matter:
If you read the VC, you probably don't care about the Scott Peterson trial. It doesn't raise any interesting legal issues, and worse, gets the UBERANNOYING Nancy Grace on TV all the time. (emphasis added).
As a law professor, Kerr has far more expertise about the legal profession than this lowly 1L who just took his first exam (thank you thank you, and no, I haven't yet clicked to check my grades). However, I have a sneaking suspicion that those of us who can't stand Grace find fault with her on a much more personal level than anything else. I mean I wrote before about how her perspective does not encompass what prosecutors let alone all lawyers should strive for, but after watching her yap on and on and on about the jur-rawrs I'm convinced I don't like her as a person. Nancy, you're more fucking annoying than Carrot Top. (The only reason I'm not going off on a tirade about her ATTEMPTED use of literary devices is because I'm too lethargic, but suffice it to say, some of the metaphors she chooses would make Robert Browning look like a good poet.)

How much do I hate thee? Let me count the ways.


Sunday, December 12, 2004

Citizen Bush v. Councilman Polite

Story via AP: (summarized, guy at Lancaster, PA farmer's market has a picture of Bush up at his stand, but a Dem councilman's pissed about it. He asked him to take it down, when he refused, "Polite threatened to try to enact a city ordinance that would ban all political material from public places.")

Even if the guy's being a prick (and it's not so clear that he is, since I'm assuming he's only doing what's good for his business, there that's the Posner in me coming out), banning political speech in public places is kinda frowned upon in this country. I guess not everyone can be as polite as Polite. But of course it has to be the local Democrat who sounds like a whiner. Well as long as we're whining, the day an ordinance is passed banning political speech is the day I'll move to China. They have no qualms about pics in public places. I'm also not opposed to personality cults.


Saturday, December 11, 2004

Approximately or Directly Cursed?

This article on the curse of the Palsgraf family is very interesting. [Hat Tip: Kerr] That's right, the same Palsgraf family whose matriarch, Helen, was the subject of the famous NY Court of Appeals decision in Palsgraf v. Long Island R.R. The article does an excellent job of summarizing the decision and the curse.

To quote my good friend Nick Perkins of Columbia Law, "Cardozo probably put the curse on the family himself, knowing he created the rule that would bar them from collecting against him."

Thursday, December 09, 2004


I questioned the very existence of a Howard Bashman below when I wrote:

I know that Howard Bashman has a case pending before the Penn Supreme Court, so I wonder how he finds the time to blog so profusely. Sometimes I just think it's some sort of a bot that does it for him, but then how would you program the wit into it?)
Well one of his recent posts offers a cryptic answer:

Becker and Posner capitulate to the addiction that is blogging: In one of my very first postings on this blog, I wrote that "I try to make postings to this site twice-daily every weekday, once in the morning and again at night." In the same vein, "The Becker-Posner Blog" launched with the assertion: "Initially we will be posting just once a week, on Mondays." Here it is Thursday of week one, and today both Becker and Posner have posted for the second time this week, now in response to the comments that their initial posts have generated. At this point, all that separates them from a full-fledged blogging addiction is for someone to teach the Nobel prize-winning Becker how to add a hyperlink.
Based on Occam's Razor, I want to be first on the record to say that How Appealing is if not proof then at least strong evidence of artificial intelligence. Whatever algorithm it runs on, it has the capacity to evolve.

Update I: I just noticed the program known as How Appealing just wrote this: "Also, not much blogging about appellate court matters likely would have occurred during the day tomorrow if I was on jury duty." LIAR!

Attention: All (Male) Students Taking Their Exams on Laptops

Think again. You're putting your future children in danger. The BBC has the story.

The BBC, the good old Beeb, is just the bearer of bad news today. Another popular exam strategy apparently puts your swimmers at risk as well.

What kind of tort claim do you think you would file for wrongful infertility? Could you sue your laptop manufacturer? Your dealer? Both? Wouldn't that be an interesting causation problem (assuming you use both, um, amenities)?

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Huckin' Tom

It is my pleasure to introduce Tom Fletcher, that's right, Mr. Comic Book Store Guy (see part II here) himself, to this blog.


Solomon II

Great article at findlaw by Columbia Con Law prof Michael Dorf. (Hat tip Bashman, sidenote: I know that Howard Bashman has a case pending before the Penn Supreme Court, so I wonder how he finds the time to blog so profusely. Sometimes I just think it's some sort of a bot that does it for him, but then how would you program the wit into it?)

The article echoes my reservations (which are nothing more than modifications of Carter's reservations) about the ruling.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Easy Writer

The Chicago Tribune had a story yesterday (via Yahoo) titled:

Booming Ireland sees population swell to 130-year high

I'd like to offer a modest proposal to solve the problem. On some days, the jokes really do come just that easily.

Monday, December 06, 2004

We're Gonna Make it Afterall

As the song says...anyway, while I am from Tinseltown, I was never looking to make it big in the blawgsphere, but you never know. I've been asked to guest blog over at De Novo (presumably until the 2 and 3L's snugly study and pass their exams, polish off that final approach for a letter of recommendation request, and what have you). You may read my first post about law school grading systems here.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Back in Black

I figured Armen's been more than pulling his substantial blogging weight around here, so I'd drop in to say hello. For those of you outside the law school bubble (Bless you! Bless each and every one of you!), we've all been a little busy prepping (or, more accurately, trying or pretending to prep) for finals. Prepping for finals as a first semester law student is a bit like shaving your pubic hair. You're pretty sure you have an idea of what to do, you've done substantially similar tasks in the past, but you're still anxious as hell that you'll slip up and it'll be major disaster. So instead of actually getting down to the task at hand, you spend an inordinate amount of time looking around for the perfect set of instructions or equipment (in the context of studying, another outline, hornbook or whatever). And no, I've never shaved. I'm still looking for the best razor...


Friday, December 03, 2004

Conan the Uncouth Pugilist

Story on Yahoo has it that the Global Language Monitor has released it's top 10 most politcally correct phrases of 2004. And the winners are the award goes to:

The Top Politically Correct Words and Phrases for 2004:

1. Device for master and captured device for slave in computer networking terminology.
2. Non-same sex marriage, for marriage used in Democratic Presidential Primaries
3. Waitron for waiter or waitress
4. Red Sox Lover for Yankee Hater during the ALCS playoffs
5. Higher Power for God
6. Progressive for classical liberal
7. Incurious rather than more impolite invectives for President Bush (such as idiot or moron)
8. Insurgents substituting for terrorists in Iraq
9. Baristas rather than waitrons
10. First year student rather than Freshman, though Frosh is still acceptable

Their website details the uses of each. But here's where I take exception to a few on the list. Progressive for classical liberal? Modern libertarians are a kind of classical liberals. They don't even know the meaning of these terms and they're complaining about how others use it? Here's a suggestion for 2005: conservative *cough cough* compassionate conservative for reactionary. Insurgents for terrorists. Terrorists? So like they'd blow up the Iraqi Federal building in Basra even if the US wasn't occupying the country? This brings up more suggestions for 2005: North Vietnamese Army, Viet Cong, or Charlie for terrorists; Nazis, fascists, Japanese for terrorists; Communists, Reds, Ruskies for terrorists; Progressives for terrorists...

Then we have baristas rather than waitrons. I've noticed this too. I mean just because you don't wait on me doesn't mean you're not a waitron ok? In fact, why do we use butcher instead of waitron? Grocery store clerk instead of waitron? Police and firefighters instead of waitrons? Baristas work behind a counter you idiot and most often serve you drinks. Regardless, I can't stand the waitrons at starbucks.

Which brings us to First-year woes. This Freshman law student can't add anything.


Thursday, December 02, 2004

Heart Attack, Buffalo Wings and Vodka

In the aggregate, Buffalo Wings and Vodka cracks me up. But his latest post about 1L's frantically applying for summer positions nearly gave me a heart-attack. He writes:
It's the first of December, which for me means giving my landlady her monthly foot rub. But for thousands of 1L's it means sending out those varied and inspirational cover letters and resumés to law firms all over the country in hopes of nabbing the killer 1L summer gig that will enable them to phone in the rest of law school from a whorehouse in Brazil.
What the...? Did he just say resumés? I just spent about as much as the national debt making copies of a cover letter that promised to accompany a résumé not resumé. Great! I'm going the be the laughing stock of the entire U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. It's not enough that I ensured FedEx-Kinkos' viability into the 22nd century by copying my writing sample with the gross error of concluding the exact opposite of the entire discussion (by using inapplicable instead of applicable in the last sentence), but now I have to worry about the extra accent mark in the cover letter.

I did say he nearly gave me a heart attack. A quick check of Meriam-Webster reveals:
Main Entry: ré·su·mé Variant(s): or re·su·me or re·su·mé

Sigh. Now I just have to worry about the (in)applicability of my writing sample. And of course there's the whole outlining bit. Now here I nearly had a heart-attack from laughing and pissing in my pants. Aggregate, normal.

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Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Unwise and Unconstitutional Solomon

Because of the nightmare that is mail merge I haven't had a chance to blog about this, but Third Circuit on Monday ruled the Solomon Amendment unconstitutional (universities must allow military recruiters if they want to continue to receive Federal funding). I defer to Bashman for coverage of the ruling in the media and blogsphere (see here and here).

Earlier this year Phil Carter and Adam Soffen debated the issue on Legal Affairs website, and I commented on some points below. I will not be able to sit down and digest the court's opinion until winter break, and not having Con Law as a first year course here definitely impedes any detailed discussion. BUT, I have grave reservations about the wisdom of the ruling. I think Carter (kudos on his recent admission to the Bar) summed it up best:

Unfortunately, I think your movement also ignores all the situations where this conditioning of government funding can have a positive effect. Title IX is a great example of where conditions on federal funding have been used to force schools across the nation to offer equal opportunity—the paradigmatic level playing field, if you will—to female athletes. The anti-Title IX forces have made arguments very similar to yours; fortunately, for women across America, they have lost. Similarly, what if the state of California, in a bid to enforce its progressive law on domestic partner benefits, required government contractors to give those benefits to their employees? Would you revolt then, or call that a good use of the spending power?

The court's reasoning ("The Solomon Amendment requires law schools to express a message that is incompatible with their educational objectives, and no compelling governmental interest has been shown to deny this freedom. While no doubt military lawyers are critical to the efficient operation of the armed forces, mere incantation of the need for legal talent cannot override a clear First Amendment impairment") leaves little room for proponents of Title IX and other such programs.

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