Thursday, June 30, 2005
Steve Sax and His Run-in With the Law
Riddle Me This
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
I think the United States Army is fortunate to have such a person in its Officers Corps. It's certainly heads above the likes of Karpinski. I think he will do a fine job training Iraqi forces and commanding his own. I'm just hoping he's not too quick to purchase a T-Shirt that says, "I spent three years in law school and all I got is this lousy M16."
Monday, June 27, 2005
How much more support do we need to finally institute a one strike and you're out law with a mandatory death penalty (let's say within 1.5 years of conviction to save costs on costly appeals that don't really amount to much)? That would kill (pun intended) so many birds with one stone. Oh and the 1.5 years should be spent in private prisons.
Thursday, June 23, 2005
The Plaintiff was profiled in a journal article by a psychiatrist to "prove" the existence of repressed memories. Loftus then used some shady techniques (private investigators, confidential court records, etc.) to get info on this subject. She and a colleague then published an article arguing that the memories were probably false.
Loftus has had a crusade against repressed memory for quite some time now. But she's probably just the loudest spokesperson of research psychologists in general. A significant majority, if not all, reseach psychologists either don't believe in the repressed memory phenomenon or argue there is no evidence of its existence. Clinical psychologists and psychiatrists swear by repressed memory. Fights have been known to break out at talks on the subject. Imagine a therapist with 20 patients who claim to have been molested being told that those memories are not real. I agree with the researchers.
It is difficult to discuss this subject without someone's emotions getting the better, but it needs to be done. To date no study has shown that your brain is capable of accessing a memory that was once forgotten. This is not the same as you remembering something that you couldn't remember 5 minutes earlier. That's just a problem of retrieving...the memory is still there. Repressed memory implies the memory is extinguished but then returns (with the aid of a therapist and maybe hypnosis). Which leads me to the second points, studies by Loftus and others have EASILY created false memories in individuals. The classic case is the video of a car accident followed by a series of questions. One question will ask something like, "How fast was the car traveling as it approached the stop sign?" when it was actually a stop light or a yield sign or something. Later, the person will claim that there was a stop sign at the intersection, rather than what they ACTUALLY saw.
The LA Times had another story in its main section on how brain cells recognize familiar people and places, or more accurately how we store that information in abstractions. This is why I have issues with eye witness identification, and why I am not too eager to embrace repressed memories. Memory can be created and it certainly can be altered. The Catholic Church may have wanted to rid itself of bad press (even God needs a press agent these days), but if the victims' claims were based on repressed memories, I would have defended vigorously. I did say "if" because I think that the vast majority of the cases were not repressed memories just people who had not come forward as children.
In the end, I think the suit will be dismissed because much like anyone in the general public, Loftus owes the subject no duty of care. On the bright side, the UC will now sell repressed memory cell lines on the open market.
Labels: Court Cases
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
If Henny Youngman Got Mass E-Mails
I don't usually find anything worth sending out over mass e-mail but I have here. Check out www.terrapass.com/ It's a brilliant company that first started as part of a class project in Wharton (Glass, stuff like this better be coming out of HBS). Basically they calculate how many pounds of CO2 come out of your car every year then allow you to purchase the equivalent in emissions credits on the chicago climate exchange thereby reducing that exact amount of polluants from other sources like a power plant. Check out this cnn article for more info.The mass reply (link my own):
Some of you are law students who probably don't drive much. I'm still planning on purchasing a terrapass for hybrid cars to offset the 30 miles I drive each month. Though I realize there are some obvious problems with this approach (giving people afalse sense that their car isn't contributing to global climate change is just one example) it's still an excellent way to support anti-global warming efforts every day.
What do you do if your car isn't listed at TerraPass. I own a 2005 Canyonero.
"Top of the line in utility sports,
Unexplained fires are a matter for the courts!"
Yoo May Have Missed...
1. The crocodile complaints against the Bush Administration are pointless. It'd be like Grover Norquist complaining that the Admin hasn't done enough the screw the poor or Ralph Reed bitching that we haven't praised Jesus sufficiently. Sure you can gripe about those things, but don't pawn yourself off as a critical (or even a neutral) observer of the Admin.
2. The Civil War.
3. E Pluribus Unum.
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
1. If you buy a ticket, you're a schmuck. Only 1.5 LA Sheriff's Deputies patrol the entire rail system for violators. Plus 3 rent-a-cops. But don't worry, they only stop minority juveniles who kinda don't look like they belong...you know the types. Got a tie? Welcome aboard. (Oh yeah, no turnstiles or anything).
2. Be prepared to walk when you don't want to walk and not walk when you want to walk. In other words, when you're dead tired, no escalator will be working...at least not in YOUR direction. If you're in a rush, no one will obey the "stand to the right" rule on the escalator. Actually, 5,000 people will obey but one will not, causing the rest quietly stand back and huff and gruff instead of yelling, "GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE WAY." Personally I'm tempted to yell extra loudly to make sure the person on the other end of the cell phone he/she's holding hears too. Nothing gets me going in the morning like fucking up a major transaction. Or a call to the yoga master.
3. Be sure to get on the right train. Some people are surprised to learn that LA has a subway. The rest are shocked to learn that it has more than one line. That's right...there are TWO subway lines in LA. One goes from Downtown to North Hollywood (my line), and the other goes from Downtown to Wilshire and Western. What's the difference you might ask? Two stops. That's right...that extra line has TWO, and only TWO stops that deviate from the North Hollywood line. I won't even bother to estimate the cost to taxpayers of keeping that thing going.
4. Elevators and handicap seats are for the able bodied.
5. The seat next to you is for your personal belongings.
6. Do not shower regularly, use deodorant, or any other personal hygienes during the weekend.
7. If you're the conductor, speak as inaudibly as possible. Everyone in LA knows where everything thing is...why bother. It's not like there are any touristy spots along the subway line(s).
8. The one conductor who IS normal spends 5 mins at my stop (Civic Center) to flirt with his g/f as she gets off.
I reserve 9 and 10 for further observations.
Sunday, June 19, 2005
BTLJ Article Idea
Friday, June 17, 2005
Dark Side of Solomon
This AP article (via Yahoo) confirms those suspicions. To be clear, I don't have a problem with JAG recruiters running around campus trying to convince law students with six-figure salary jobs lined up to cut that down by 75%. We can certainly weigh all the options fairly. But I cannot say the same about 17 or 18 year olds whose college prospects are about as bright as the dark side of the moon. The implication in this instance is not the First Amendment. Recruiters simply want the contact info of students from school administrators. This raises the trickier right to privacy concerns. But more importantly it raises awareness of a Defense Department that is now using anything and everything at its disposal to meet the quotas for minimum sustainability of a conflict with no end in sight.
We might as well tie Federal Pell Grant money to a stint in the Marine Corps.
F'get About It
Gelernter begins with a mockery of his son's female high school classmate who said, "If I'd lived at that time and been drafted...I would've gone to Canada." Based on his sons assessment he believes that the student did not understand that she could not be drafted as a female. Then he blames history teachers for this, namely, "Our schools teach history ideologically. They teach the message, not the truth. They teach history as if males and females have always played equalre roles. They are propaganda machines." As you read the rest, you will see how essentially Gelernter takes exception to any historical account that does not place America (and the West) on the high pedestal that it so rightfully deserves.
For all intents and purposes, he's full of shit. For the last three or four decades historiography has drifted from the rote teaching of facts of major events and people to the more obscure realm of shedding light on those not often talked about...that's right the common folk. History wants to tell the story...the full story. Facts that Gelernter prizes so much are meaningless without the proper context. History is now attempting to provide both. Upset that Sen. Durbing (D-Ill) compared Gitmo to the Soviet Gulags, Gelernter recites the numbers. Noticeably absent is the definition of hyperbole or simile.
Those numbers are meaningless, David. Absolutely meaningless if you don't know the story behind them. WHY were so many people subject to that prison system? WHO placed them there? Could be government without an effective judicial or legislative branch answering to the masses? (Remember, on paper, the USSR was one of the most democratic forms of governments. What could be better than a bunch of local councils making all the decisions?) If Gelernter had bothered to learn the story of the Gulags, then maybe he would have had a bit more suspicion of an administration that asks the judiciary to rubber stamp any and all detention of a citizen or not based on a declaration by a DoD official. (Solzhenitsyn got 8 years after a five minute "trial.") I know that Gelernter is glad that President Bush remembered Kennedy's promise to do whatever it takes to preserve liberty, but I also wonder if he's glad that President Bush, and many of his predecessors, forgot President Eisenhower's call to beware of the military industrial complex. Nah, that was just diatribe and hell...ideology.
The greater, and more dangerous ignorance that Gelernter, and those who share his view, should fear is the continued and unwavering adherence to the presumption that "We" are right and "They" are wrong. The end of his article is the perfect example of the recitation of the City Upon the Hill ideology that has defined American self-preception since colonial times. And THAT is what's led to some of our darkest times. Don't tell Gelernter that, the facts are on his side. He writes:
"There is an ongoign culture war between Americans who are ashamed of this nation's history and those who acknoledge with sorrow its many sins and are fiercly proud of it anyway. Proud of the 17th century settlers who threw their entire lives overboard and set sail for religious freedom in thier rickety little ships. [But not proud of the Indians who tried to defend their land and livelihoods. Similarly not proud of those who don't use rickety ships to get here, but walk over. No, those are criminals defying the rules of the religious freedom fighters. Oh, and certainly not proud of those who think religious freedom means free from a government dedicated to pleasing the Lord Almighty.] Proud of the new nation that taught democracy to the world. [By democracy he means rule by the people, as the Greek root implies. And by people he means white males. And by white males he means those over 21 until the 70s. Don't forget the old democracy only if your Grandpa had it.] Proud of its ferocious fight to free the slaves, save the Union and drag (lug, shove, sweat, bleed) America a few inches closer to its sublime ideals. [And then smoothly glide back away from those ideals by a Court dedicated to undoing the lesson of the Civil War in the name of States' rights. Calhoun anyone? Resist those same dragging, lugging, and shoving because naturally everyone being equal does not involve the government taking AFFIRMATIVE steps. Don't forget the confederate flag, David. How proud we are of the Union indeed.] Proud of its victories in two world wars and the Cold War, proud of the fight it is waging this very day for freedom in Iraq and the whole Middle East. [Proud of French women kissing American soldiers in the streets of Paris. Proud of Iraqi mothers pleading with American soldiers.]I'm fortunate enough to not have children but what I will teach them is to question long-standing assumptions. I am, and my children ought to be, proud of this Nation's ideals and accomplishments. But they shouldn't stop there. They shouldn't assume that those outweigh the negatives. They shouldn't assume that the blemishes are all in the past...a different time, a different era...I mean does anyone really display bigotry towards immigrants these days?
If you are proud of this country and don't want its identity to vanish, you must teach U.S. history to yoru children. They won't learn it in school. This nation's memory will go blank unless you act."
If our nation's collective memory consists of looking at the numbers in Vietnam and concluding that it is not the same as Iraq, then by all means, let's erase it. Why not add to that memory a bit about an inflexible doctrine leading to the escalation of an unnecessary conflict? I'll let Gelernter figure out which conflict I speak of.
UPDATE: Shockingly, VC co-conspiritor Juan Non-Volokh couldn't agree more with Gelernter.
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Elementary My Dear BTLJ
Subject: Theft in BTLJ Office
Date: Wed, 15 Jun 2005 10:58:21 -0700
To: #Students-All <#firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cc: Holly Parrish
A theft occurred in the Berkeley Technology Law Journal's office (587 Simon) sometime between Wednesday, June 8 and Monday, June 13. Two flat screen monitors were stolen. As there was no evidence of forced entry into the office, it is likely that either the door combo was used to gain entry or the door was not completely shut. The combination has been changed.If you are working here during non-business hours, please be aware of your surroundings. Report suspicious looking persons to the UCPD. Keep your office door closed. Make sure the door is closed and locked behind you when you leave.UCPD phone numbers: All Emergencies: 9-1-1 (from a cell phone: 642-3333) Business and Non-Emergency Line: 2-6760
Turns out the wads of cash stashed in the BTLJ office were not touched, leading authorities to suspect an inside-job. According to anonymous sources, the five-day time frame coincides with a LAN party hosted by as-yet unidentified editors. One source remarked, "It was just like freshman year of college when I played counterstrike without even being aware of anything else, like my 98 on a linear algebra midterm."
Desparate to light the office with photons emitted from liquid crystals, the BTLJ has asked the Criminal Law Journal to investigate [Credit: A. Mink].
Out of town scores at the Oakland Coliseum will now appear on two 15-inch LCD monitors.
Labels: Law School
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Student v. Prof
On a side note, I find it amusing that this all took place at George Mason University Law School the hotbed of libertarian thought (where you're Ayn Randized instead of that other warning about your rights). I can see the Dean saying something to the effect, "Headache shmeadache, welcome to law school, where your brain hurts."
Monday, June 13, 2005
Speaking of Grading
Granted, I think law students are the last people to not have a sense of entitlement, but I still wonder (and hope and pray) if such an effect exists.
The clever Malibuites think that by removing the sand, they will thereby keep the public from prancing through their property. Reading the story I can't help but have the urge to pitch a tent in someone's back (or is it the front) yard, play loud music, maybe cook up some ethnic Armenian kabobs, yada yada yada. Conversely, I don't care if I have an image of the Virgin Mary on a tree on my property, I don't want people prancing around in my property as they please. In the end, I can't say anything better than the following letter writer:
With the precedent set by the Broad Beach homeowners who moved sand from the public beach onto their property, I finally have found a free source of fill dirt for the grading in my suburban backyard. I think I'll just tool down the road in a skip loader and scoop up free dirt and sand from my neighborhood public park. I'm sure the ballplayers and other (former) park users won't mind. Hey, I need to pave my driveway too. Think anyone will miss a lane of PCH?
Thursday, June 09, 2005
Take this example from ESPN. In many sports (baseball in particular), the collection and "analysis" of statistical data has become the subject of books (see "Moneyball"), television shows ("Stump the Schwab") and movies (well, maybe not movies). It has also given rise to the amusing phenomenon of the meaningless statistic. And here is a perfect example, from Marc Stein's preview of the NBA Finals (now, I can't really explain why I am even following the NBA finals, much less reading previews, but I think it has something to do with the fact that I am huddled in front of a computer at least 8 hours a day):
"The Pistons are proven champions who got back to the Finals by improving to 7-0, including last spring's playoff run, in games with a chance to eliminate the opposition."
Let's break that down: "elimination game" translated into English is simply the last game of any series. Obviously, the champions don't lose the last game of a series. So the fact that the Pistons have won the last game of the series for seven series in a row is no more or less remarkable than the fact that they have won the last seven series in a row. I suppose that on some level, Stein could be saying that they haven't lost when they had a chance to close out a series, even when their own elimination is not at issue (i.e., they lead the series 3-2 and they win game 6), but again, what is special about this statistic? What more does it tell us than the fact that the Pistons can win serieses?
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
Oh Civ Pro II, Wherefore Art Thou Civ Pro II
Stay tuned for my discussion of judicial philosophies.
Sunday, June 05, 2005
You May Not Have Seen What I Did This Summer
First off, I wanted to create a series entitled, "The Bikes of Berkeley." Unfortunately I only got two pics all year (one and two), with the rest of time my camera not being with me. In Manville I was witness to a lot of weird shit, but this was by far the weirdest. I mean, I had my gripes with the building management, but I found other ways to vent my anger. These guys sure knew a thing or two about anger management. They put on a demo for anyone visiting the Buddhist Temple across the street for its annual fest. Conveniently held during finals. Inconveniently held in front of my window.
Here in LA, I spent the last two days in Big Bear Lake. Actually I spent it NEAR Big Bear Lake. If I was in it, I might have suffered a from the same fate as Fish A and B. (C not photographed). I searched for an answer until I found this boundary maker deliniating the beginning of the National Forest. I think I'll blame it on Bush. However, I won't give him credit for this part of the lake.
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
Dude, Work Sucks
Oh and while I'm at it, I absolutely love how the clerks get to have access to every god damn website while I hit refresh on the visually appealing CalMail homepage every 3 seconds. One clerk is the gmail and AIM type the other is the box scores on Yahoo and NY Times type. If by some happenchance they read this (since they have a firewall that'll grant access to the Fed Reserve security system), I should make it ABSOLUTELY clear that I have nothing but love for you guys, but honestly, that Novel firewall is my Lumbergh.
Labels: Legal Culture