Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Tuesday, December 31, 2002

From the hypothetical press kit, for a hypothetical upcoming Broadway show, "Trent Lott: The Musical"

Born in Mississippi in 1941, the son of a sharecropper farmer turned shipyard worker and a school teacher, Trent Lott has lived a storybook life. That storybook, however, was written in 1825.

From the highest of highs -- serving as Senate majority leader -- to the lowest of lows -- forced to resign his leadership post and serve merely as Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee -- Trent Lott: The Musical tells a uniquely American tale of a man undone by the most tempting of all temptations, making a toast at a birthday
for a hundred-year-old man.

It's a story we've seen time and time again -- recall Thomas Jefferson, impeached from the presidency after saying "I never should have written that darn Declaration -- all hail the King of England" at Benjamin Franklin's 100th birthday party; recall Charlie Chaplin, buried alive after saying "the world would have been better off if we'd never added
sound to movies" at Bob Hope's 100th birthday party; and recall Derek Jeter, stripped of his World Series rings after saying "I wish I was on the Red Sox" at George Steinbrenner's 100th birthday party.

But none as riveting as the story of Senator Lott, who suffered not only the indignity of losing his Senate leadership post, but also of losing his spacious Capitol Hill office overlooking the Washington Monument in favor of a slightly less spacious office in the Hart Senate Office Building overlooking the Jefferson Memorial.

This uniquely American musical traces the rise of Trent Lott from a sharecropper's son, to Senate Majority Leader, to husband of actress Halle Berry. (Note that some details of Mr. Lott's life have been altered to enhance the drama)

Monday, December 30, 2002

Inspired to write a song about the holidays. It's not about law school. Thankfully. Finally. It's a ballad. :) A little unfocused, but it's just a first draft. Of something. At least it's not about law school. :)

As we put away the presents
As we take apart the tree*
Say goodbye to wrapping paper
Say goodbye to family

As we finish all the cookies
Cut the final piece of cake
Close our eyes and picture snowfall
On the ground when we awake

It's another year gone quickly
As the time is flying by
I can't freeze these memories
But I can try

I don't want to face uncertain future
Not when now has turned out not so bad
I don't want to find out that I'm living
In the best days of the life I will have had.

As the snowman melts to water
As the leftovers are gone
As there's no more sharing stories
Stay up talking until dawn

As the years pass bonds are broken
People go their separate ways
Suddenly it's been a lifetime
Made of long-forgotten days

It's another set of moments
That are passing through the air
Once they've slipped through our fingers
They're no longer there

I don't want to face uncertain future
Not when now has turned out not so bad
I don't want to find out that I'm living
In the best days of the life I will have had.

I never used to realize when you grow up you're still who you are inside
That there's no switch that turns you from a child to a man
There's no beacon of direction, there's no light that shines the way
Everyone's just out there doing what he can

I don't want to face uncertain future
Not when now has turned out not so bad
I don't want to find out that I'm living
In the best days of the life I will have had.

*Is "take apart" the right verb for what you do with a Christmas tree when you're done with it. "Unscrewing the electric bulbs from the menorah" doesn't have the same song-feeling, so I'm an honorary Christian for the purposes of writing the song...
Just saw a commercial for "High School Reunion" (yes, I'm watching way too much WB... but I kind of like the show "Everwood" for no articulable reason), a show that takes 17 people who graduated from high school 10 years ago and flies them to Hawaii to re-live old conflicts and make good dramatic reality TV. On the website, they label each person -- "The Bully," "The Bitchy Girl," "The Loner." Why, why, why, why, why would anyone agree to be on a show like this? Is the week of fame they'll have before the show is cancelled really worth being forever known as "The Bitchy Girl?"

The next commercial was for "The Surreal Life," another reality show, where 7 B-list celebrities live together Real World-style. Corey Feldman, Gabrielle Carteris (from Beverly Hills 90210), and 5 others. This one I guess I understand why these people would agree to do this -- they've already been semi-famous once, and they miss it. And it's a paycheck.

Imagine combining the two shows -- B-list celebrities at a high school reunion. I wonder what Pamela Anderson was like in high school. Did she even go to high school? And what do her high school classmates think of her now?

Too many reality shows. Eventually they'll run out of people to put on these shows. There'll be a reality show with a cameraman roaming the streets in search of people who haven't been on reality shows. And they won't find any.
Five Anagrams for "Law School is Fun!"

1. Callous fish won
2. Casino show full
3. Can follow sushi
4. Awful colon hiss
5. Finals chow soul

One Anagram for "Uniform Commercial Code"
Macroeconomic mud rifle

Sorry no post yesterday. I meant to write something, but kept putting it off, and then all of a sudden the day was over. Oops. Sorry. I'll make up for it by double-posting today. One this morning and one later. If I can think of things to write. Hmmm... how about... well, I can't think of anything, so how about a not-that-funny placeholder until I do think of something...

Top Ten Taken Out-of-Context Quotes from Ten Different E-mails I've Received in the Past Couple of Days

10. "Strictly speaking, any speech that is abridged in any manner whatsoever constitutes a violation of the First Amendment."
9. "The evite wouldn't send an email to everyone...well, i couldn't figure it out anyway and i don't feel like putting any effort into it."
8. "Knowing my luck, these issues will still be on the test."
7. "both parties had the barren cow in mind when they contracted"
6. "otherwise i'm relegated to eating alone"
5. "There's something to be said about knowing the cases cold--it probably separates the truly awesome exams from the merely great ones."
4. "There will now be a 2 day waiting period so this trade can be reviewed by the league."
3. "I am still recovering from a nasty bout of food poisoning (i.e., still not really eating solid food)"
2. "If you need any help or have any questions about why you have received this e-mail, please contact:"
1. "I'm going to party with my grandparents in Iowa for New Years"

Saturday, December 28, 2002

I watched the TV show "Do Over" on the WB on Thursday night. Been meaning to catch an episode because the concept is cool, and something I've thought would be a cool gimmick for a screenplay or a tv show, done well -- adult, through some unexplained accident, gets to go back in time and re-live high school, knowing what he knows as an adult. Could be really good. This sitcom, however, wasn't. Instead of using the concept to create interesting dilemmas for the character -- save someone from heading down a road he knows leads to disaster at the cost of affecting your own future negatively? -- this show's writers used it purely as an excuse to have the character say one-liners that are funny to him but no one else knows what he's talking about. "Oh -- look how stupid the son of Vice President Bush is. He'll never amount to anything." "I wouldn't be so sure." One of the subplots of the episode I saw was the kid turns in the Nirvana song "Smells Like Teen Spirit" as a poetry class assignment, and the teacher gets concerned. What a waste of a good concept. Kind of like the movie "Galaxy Quest." Cool idea. But the execution totally wasted the potential.

Friday, December 27, 2002

“E-Mails and Outlines”

The hardest thing about being home for break has been not getting nearly as much e-mail as usual. I really like getting e-mail. It makes me feel like someone is thinking of me, even if it’s just a faceless organization or a company seeking to help me either lower my interest rate, lose weight fast, or get cheap prescription drugs. Like the woman who sends out the e-mails every Thursday telling us that the Adviser is available to read online. I really love those e-mails. I missed getting it this past Thursday. I guess there are no new administrative announcements regarding a special holiday-themed resume workshop, or a clinical project helping the unfortunately-injured sue the city for not clearing the snow away fast enough. There were a couple of days this week I didn’t get any e-mail at all. One day I actually sent myself a test message to make sure my e-mail was still working. It was. Of course.

I was a bit disturbed by the news that Harvard will now be virus-checking our e-mails. Not actually disturbed that they’ll be virus-checking, but just that they weren’t before. Did it bother anyone else that on the first day they virus-checked they caught 175 infected e-mails? I don’t know how many e-mails are sent every day on the Harvard system – none to me that day (see, I can make my paragraphs flow together so well) – but 175 seems not completely insignificant. If they starting checking the students for viruses and found 175 of us were infected with something, it would be pretty big news. I guess e-mail is different.

The snowstorm in the Northeast this week forced me to actually sit down and study (I’m at home in New York). It’s ironic that in elementary school, the snow means you don’t have to do any work. Home from law school with exams looming, it means you have no choice but to. At least it’s miserable outside. I’ve been trying to incent myself to study by lavishly rewarding myself for each bit of work done. For every thirty seconds I study, I get to eat a meal. For every five minutes I study, I get to watch six consecutive holiday-themed episodes of South Park on Comedy Central. For every hour I study, I get to spend a day hanging out with friends. For every full day I study, I get to… uh… not fail my classes.

I’ve been generally unimpressed with some of the study aids I’ve referred to, to try and get a sense of some frameworks for organizing my notes. “Civil Procedure for Dummies” isn’t really helping me much. “Chapter 1: Courthouses are Big” was especially unhelpful.

The HL Central Outline Bank has been somewhat useful, although the law of diminishing returns (Is that really a law? It’s not in my notes…) seems to kick in pretty quickly. After reading, say, fifteen contracts outlines, there’s probably nothing in number sixteen that one hasn’t seen already. There are only so many different ways to say “value promised minus value received.” I was in a bookstore a few days ago. And discovered that, unfortunately, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” is not about expectancy. Also, “The Intent to Be Bound” was not about consideration. I found that right near a treatise on covenants not to compete for legal recruiters, called “Servicing Your Clients.” And in the video and DVD section of the bookstore, I noticed an exercise tape without a warranty of fitness. Sitting in front of my computer for too long makes me think that’s actually funny.

Almost as funny as chapter five of “Civil Procedure for Dummies,” called “One Law, Two Law, Red Law, Blue Law,” all about the Erie doctrine and choice of law provisions. Or chapter three of “The Idiot’s Guide to Criminal Law,” “Oops! I Didn’t Think It Was Loaded!”

Not to be confused with the chapter about the Goetz subway shooting case, “Oops! I Didn’t Mean to Merely Injure!”

Thursday, December 26, 2002

An excerpt from the popular study guide, “Civil Procedure for Dummies.”

Chapter 1: Courthouses are Big

Look outside the window. Turn around. Not too fast or you’ll get dizzy. Chances are, you will see at least one building bigger than all the rest. It might be a courthouse. Because courthouses are big.

Chapter 2: Going to Court

It’s usually best to go to court in a car, unless the reason you’re in court is because your drivers license was suspended. Or if you don’t have a car, it’s probably not a good idea to steal one and drive it to court. If you live really close to the court, you might be able to walk there. Look both ways before you cross the street.

Chapter 3: Finding stuff

Lawyers use a technique called “discovery” to find evidence that you did bad stuff. They can ask you questions or make you give them papers that have big words on them. Don’t try and read the papers. They’re for the smarter lawyers. The ones who didn’t buy “Civil Procedure for Dummies.”

Chapter 4: Personal Jurisdiction

You can skip this subject. You won’t understand it anyway.

Chapter 5: One Law, Two Law, Red Law, Blue Law

Different states have different laws. Luckily, you don’t have to know any of them. Just know they’re different. And they each have rules about when you use their laws, and when you use the laws of other states. There are 50 states. That’s why there are 50 stars on the American flag. The flag is pretty. And big. Like a courthouse. There’s probably a flag in the courthouse.

Chapter 6: Res Judicata

An anagram of res judicata is “Jar Caused It.” That’s also a good defense if you’re ever accused of throwing jars at people.

Wednesday, December 25, 2002

Merry Christmas!

Here in New York, the snow's coming down pretty hard. Yet, even on Christmas, in the middle of a snowstorm, we were still able to get chinese food delivered. What a world we live in! In honor of the snow... it's yet another pair of song parodies... I promise more variation once I'm back at school and things are actually happening that can inspire me to have something to write about...

One about the law...
"Just a 'B'" (to the tune of "Let It Snow")

Oh the thought of a "C" is frightful
And an "A" would be delightful
But I'll be okay to see
Just a B, Just a B, Just a B.

The law isn't learned by osmosis
The wave of a wand, "hocus-pocus"
In the classroom I've got only me
Just a B, Just a B, Just a B

When the test paper's there in my hand
And I realize I don't know the law
I suppose then I will understand
That studying's what winter break's for!

Right now there are students reading
And they'll be the ones succeeding
As I write this song par-o-dy
Just a B, Just a B, Just a B

And one not about the law...
"Fill the Malls" (to the tune of "Deck the Halls")

Fill the malls with Christmas shoppers
Fa la la la la, La la la la
Eating donuts, eating Whoppers
Fa la la la la, La la la la
Spending money, all on credit
Fa la la, La la la, La la la
Self-control? Aw just forget it!
Fa la la la la, La la la la

See the people fight for Barbies
Fa la la la la, La la la la
Eating fattening food from Arby's
Fa la la la la, La la la la
One of each, let's keep on churning
Fa la la, La la la, La la la
Back tomorrow for returning
Fa la la la la, La la la la

Now we've got that Christmas feeling
Fa la la la la, La la la la
Boxes stacked up to the ceiling
Fa la la la la, La la la la
Low low prices! Down they're marking!
Fa la la, La la la, La la la
Twenty dollars just for parking
Fa la la la la, La la la la!

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

More wordplay. I'm in the middle of studying civil procedure, so I thought I'd try a rhyming couplet for each of a bunch of Federal Rules. These are mostly pretty dumb I guess. Sorry.

Rule 8: Plead your facts plain and short
Or your case will be thrown out of court

9(b): If it's fraud, be complete
'Cause it's not nice to call one a cheat

11: Make sure paper's signed
Or you may well get yourself fined

12(b)(6): There isn't a claim
Your facts have no law to their name

12(e): If the pleading is vague
Like "that thing he sold gave me the Plague"

12(h): You might lose a defense
Malpractice suit's quite an expense

(13) Is asserting my counterclaim good?
If it's all one transaction you should

(14) If another guy's really the cheater
Then bring him in with an impleader

(15) My pleading's wrong! Can I amend?
If the trial judge is your best friend

(23) Tiny lawsuits don't bring satisfaction
But together they make a class action

(24) "Let me in!" she screamed, causing a scene
'Til the judge let the girl intervene

(26) Divorce case, so gifts from her lover
Are perfectly fair to discover

(28) Just subpoenas: I don't need permission
To take anyone's deposition

(32) If you've died since I had you deposed
Then I may present all you disclosed

(35) Are you insane enough to commit?
An exam: the court has to permit

(55) You may not have committed assault
But by staying home from court, you're in default

You may think that these couplets all suck
But in my head, all these rules are now stuck

Monday, December 23, 2002

Some Holiday-inspired law limericks. For whatever they're worth.

The girl worked on Christmas and New Years
Hadn't gotten a day off in *two* years
She begged her employer
But he is a lawyer
So she's stuck with one more of her *blue* years.

There once was a man who was short
Who was sued for committing a tort
He thought state court unpleasant
Gave the plaintiff a present
And removed it to federal court

The judge said there's issue preclusion
Leaving John in a state of confusion
Though he'd studied at Yale
Always passed when pass/fail
Seems the J.D. is just an illusion

Santa came with the presents you got
But as he walked towards the tree he was shot
In this state, the law said
You can fill them with lead
When they enter your house, on the spot.

Sunday, December 22, 2002

39-page outline for criminal law, 42 pages for criminal procedure. Next up: civil procedure. I'm finding there's a way to do these things --

Step 1: find a good study guide and read it to make sure there aren't any big gaps in your knowledge
Step 2: find a good commercial outline and steal their structure and main category headings, along with the black-letter rules, deleting the parts you didn't cover and aren't responsible for
Step 3: go through your class notes and beef up the commercial outline where appropriate with policy, clarifications, etc
Step 4: find some old outlines, comb through for some extra stuff you don't have, or sections they've done better than you've got, and add it in
Step 5: read through and cut any redundancies out

And, voila, I've got a workable and complete outline. Or at least I hope I do... anyone have a better way to do it or see something I'm missing??
“The Casebook Connection”

[[to the tune of: “The Rainbow Connection”]]

Why are there so many
Cases in casebooks
But never a case about love
Cases are boring
And poorly written
But they’re what our days are made of

We read all these holdings
But I’d rather be holding
You in my arms every night

I think we’ve found it
The Casebook Connection
You versus me turns out right

I read these issues
But cry in these tissues
And wish that I had something more
And though you’re erratic
In answers Socratic
I love you more than I love the law

This feeling’s not fiction
In my jurisdiction
You keep my soul burning bright

I think we’ve found it
The Casebook Connection
You versus me turns out right

Nothing’s preventing
Our heads from dissenting
But somehow we both feel this way
Our hearts are both beating
Our minds have a meeting
We sign our love contract today

Show me your objective manifestation
Of subjective intent – with a kiss

I think we’ve found it
The Casebook Connection
Legally binding… like this…


Saturday, December 21, 2002

Today I've been trying to make my way through Glannon's Civil Procedure: Examples and Explanations study guide, just to make sure there aren't any big holes in my understanding of civil procedure and to make sure I understand all of the concepts. My favorite part -- at the end of each chapter there's 10 pages of questions and answers. I'm sure they're useful, but for my purposes right now I'm skipping over them, and I'll probably go back to them closer to the exam, to make sure I can answer them quickly and accurately -- so it makes the page numbers go up nice and quickly. 4-page chapters with 10 pages of q&a are especially rewarding.

Friday, December 20, 2002

A Look Into The Future

Since I’ve been home, I’ve been watching too much television. Too much news. Too much about the public shaming of Trent Lott and the almost-imperceptible daily movement towards the war with Iraq – “United States issues international proclamation of badness” on Monday, “President Bush dreams of day when war with Iraq was not imminent” on Wednesday, and “New study shows war with Iraq is moving closer but potentially holds the key to curing leprosy,” on Friday.

I realized the other day that while they keep talking about war – war is coming, war is bad, war is expensive – they never consider the chance that we might lose. I know very little about the actual reality of foreign affairs, and I'm really just using this premise to make the funny part of what I'm writing make sense and have some context -- so I apologize if this is unintentionally offensive to say; I'm really just going for the joke here -- but it just doesn't seem to be within the realm of newsworthy possibility that Iraq would ever beat us and I suppose then take over the United States. Sounds silly even to say, I guess. Kind of funny. But imagine the news stories then.

Dateline: January 2004
Cambridge, MA

“Harvard Law School Renames Library”

Today, Harvard Law School announced that Langdell Hall, the largest academic law library in the world – and second only to the Library of Congress overall – would be renamed effective immediately due to the United States' defeat in the war against Iraq.

Saddam Hussein Library will reopen this afternoon. Without any books.

In addition, the Harkness Commons student center is set to be renamed the Hussein Center tomorrow morning at a ceremony in which the bar will be converted into a holding cell for infidels, the television will no longer receive HBO, and the Harkbox Café will discontinue offering the “Caffe Americano” variety of Starbucks coffee.

When classes resume next week, students will find that a number of courses have new titles. Evidence, Property, and Criminal Law will now be called, respectively, Fabricating Evidence, Government Property, and “Death! Death! Death!” Feminist Legal Theory has been cancelled and the professor has been hanged. First Amendment Law is expected to be cancelled, but the new law prohibiting the mention of the first amendment has made it impossible for a statement to be released.

Robert Clark, former dean of the law school, issued a statement today reading in part, “Boy am I glad I retired when I did!” But new dean Saddam Hussein, Jr. has big plans for the law school. Last week, he proclaimed to much fanfare, “I promise to make Harvard Law School #1 in the Iraqi News and World Report rankings. Down with Stanford.”

New dean of student life Saddam Hussein III, in a nod towards reform, promises to execute no more than 40% of the student body. And the Office of Financial Aid recently announced that the LIPP program will now forgive loans for students in military service, but will force those students who do any sort of good for society to pay double. All female law students, obviously, have been transferred to Lesley College, where they will learn how to sweep up rubble. (Lesley College officials refused to comment regarding the necessary expansion of their “sweep up rubble” program, which had previously been relatively unpopular as compared with the needlepoint and quilting departments.)

It was expected that given this set of changes, applications would drop, but since Harvard Business School has been converted into the world’s most luxurious missile-building factory, with diamond-studded 14-karat gold warheads being produced at a record pace, applications to the law school have in fact risen. This is a trend that has not affected at least one of Harvard’s competitors. A spokesperson for Yale Law School said in a press conference this morning, “we haven't really been affected by losing the war. After all, some may say that Iraq is actually an improvement over New Haven.”

Nevertheless, even as much of the law school changes, one thing will stay the same. The First-Year Lawyering program (FYL) has been praised by the Iraqis as fostering exactly the kinds of skills and talents they hope to instill in their future leaders. Thus the program will go unchanged, and will in fact be expanded to meet daily in Hussein East. I mean Hussein North. Or is it Hussein West? Students are instructed to gather by the big statue of Saddam Hussein made out of leftover squash and the correct classroom assignments will be posted.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

I forgot what studying was like. Need to remember. Fast.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Finished up the song from yesterday. Check it out.

Today's creative endeavor... an open letter to summer job employers from a generic first-year law student. We'll call this generic first-year law student "Not-Me." I'll also stick a disclaimer here that this is designed to be funny, like this whole entire weblog is. It's all designed to be humorous, not serious. It's a creative outlet, that's all. Like the song from yesterday about the model penal code -- I don't hate the model penal code, I'm just trying to be funny. In fact, I have no overall opinion about the model penal code whatsoever, other than I've always thought the word "penal" is a funny word. And writing a song about the model penal code doesn't make me a bad person who likes to make fun of our legal regime, or if it does, that's not my intention. Disclaimers aside, here we go... an open letter to summer employers... apologies that this is in fact more serious than most of the weblog entries. The funny will return after this brief message...

Dear Potential Summer Employer,

There are lots of us, and we look awfully indistinguishable from each other. We've been at law school for just three months, and already we have to look for a summer job. We've all taken the same classes, learned the same things, and haven't even gotten any grades. We haven't seen enough law to even know everything that's out there, and the different things that lawyers do. We've only had a short opportunity to be inspired, fascinated, challenged, excited, and perplexed by the law. There are future corporate lawyers, district attorneys, policymakers, U.S. Senators, law professors, judges, advocates, arbitrators, radio talk-show hosts, and commissioners of professional sports leagues among us who simply don't know it yet. We haven't been exposed to enough law to figure it all out. So three months in, as we search for a summer job, we can't be totally sure, and we shouldn't be expected to be. The mass of us applying to corporate law firms -- most aren't doing it because of a burning desire to practice corporate law, although most aren't doing it because of a burning desire not to. The mass of us applying to public interest organizations -- many of us have issues we care about, policy ideas we're passionate about -- but many of us are just trying to figure out where our hearts lie. We're trying to figure it out, and hoping this summer lets us find out a little more about where we do want to be, where we want to end up, what we want to do. There's a difference between sending out four hundred resumes indiscriminately to anything and everything in the three cities we've decided are tolerable to work in as opposed to making a good-faith effort to identify what we want to do this summer, where we can contribute value, and what might help us decide what the future should hold -- even if in both cases the result is a cover letter and resume that look pretty similar. None of us are beyond the point where we have to make choices without full information -- we've experienced only a small piece of our law school experience. So a corporate law firm looking at a resume that screams out "passionate about the environment" can't necessarily assume the person doesn't want to work there, just like a public interest firm looking at a resume that screams out "investment banker" ought not assume the resume necessarily reveals the contents of a person's heart. We're trying to figure out what we want to do, where we want to go, who we want to be. It's a good-faith effort. Thanks."

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

It's hard to study at home. Much easier to surf the web, watch TV, and sleep. Yet I must persist. Or write another law-school-parodying song.

If the world went by the model penal code...
And if you were one day walking 'cross the road...
And a car came by and flattened you
Yes he roadkill-in-Manhattaned you
Then a prison sentence surely he'd be owed
If the world went by the model penal code...

If it turned out he was merely negligent...
And to hit you wasn't something that he meant...
If he simply hadn't hit the brake
It was just an innocent mistake
Then while it would surely be a felony
Negligent homicide is just a third degree

But if he was in fact a reckless reckless man
Driving even though the law didn't say he can
If he's blind and deaf and has no arms
And he caused you homicidal harms
And he thought he had a license; he did not
Then it's probably manslaughter what he's got

If he did purposely and knowingly commit
A gun that he done shot or wrist he slit
Then it's murder, murder first degree
He values life indifferently
And the inside of the jail will be his life
If he thought and deliberated -- then killed his wife

If the world went by the model penal code...
If the world went by the model penal code...
If the rules were set consistently
'Bout the different kinds of felony
Then at least what you were doing could be knowed
If the world went by the model penal code...

Monday, December 16, 2002

Everybody Loves Raymond is a funny show.
A song about the Parol Evidence Rule. (For the non-law students in the audience: the Parol Evidence Rule is simply a rule that says if you have a contract in writing, you're not allowed to claim there's stuff you talked about that wasn't included in the contract that should be enforced. For example, you buy a car, the contract says nothing about a CD player, and you claim the seller said he'd install a new CD player. You're out of luck. And one more thing -- Parol is pronounced with a long o, like parole, or hole, or goal, or birth control.)

We met on a park bench in the summer
A day that surely changed my life
Because just seven hours later
I asked you if you'd be my wife

You said you needed time to think it over
And forty-five seconds passed like years
You said you'd love to have a wedding
And we could register at Sears

That's when I knew that we different
From two separate income brackets
You buy generic acetaminophen
I have 3 ten thousand dollar tennis rackets
So I asked you to sign
A pre-nuptial agreement to say
That when I divorce you
You'll be back at the Sizzler buffet

I told you that I'd always support you
But wrote down you don't get a cent
Told you you'd never have to worry
"You'll be poor" is what I meant

And since I am a contracts lawyer
And you dropped out of school at eight
You did not really read the contract
And make me set the record straight

So nine months later it's our trial
I found someone slightly thinner
You want back the shirt you bought me
I want you to starve for dinner
And that's what you signed
The contract says you have zero claim
What I said doesn't count
From a rule that has a name

It rhymes with birth control
Which we didn't use, so you'll have a kid, and you'll both be on the dole
But I don't care
Saved by parol
The parol evidence rule
Keeping rich people rich
That's what they teach us in law school

(Note: I haven't actually studied yet... so my understanding of the Parol Evidence Rule may be totally screwy. Oh well.)

Sunday, December 15, 2002

I'm taking a $20 Greyhound bus home to NY this afternoon. They say it takes 4 hours. I don't believe them.

Postscript: They were right. 4 hours on the dot. Go Greyhound!

Saturday, December 14, 2002

Time to Study

As I write this, I have approximately 589 hours until my first exam. And I’ve read approximately 3000 pages in all of my classes combined. So if read about 15 pages an hour, I can read everything again twice, spend 50 hours per class on outlining and doing practice exams, spend 30 hours memorizing the Uniform Commercial Code, 6 hours reading Glannon’s for Civil Procedure, and still have time to see a movie. But not Harry Potter – it’s too long. Maybe Adam Sandler’s cartoon. It’s only 71 minutes. If I time it right, I can even see half the previews too.

But I’m forgetting something. A couple of things, actually. Like sleeping. And eating. And brushing my teeth. Although if I don’t waste time eating, I suppose I don’t really have to brush my teeth. Or go to the bathroom. This can turn out to be quite a plan. Although to stay awake for 24 straight days, I probably need to drink some coffee, and then of course I’ll have to go to the bathroom. So I don’t know. I may be stuck.

One more thing I’m forgetting. That I’m not insane.

I was going to bring all my books home with me, but then I remembered I don’t have a pack mule to carry them, so that’s not going to happen. It’s come down to my contracts casebook or underwear – I’m still deciding which one’s more important. I actually spent time last night contemplating tearing apart the binding of my criminal procedure book and ripping out the 300 pages we read, just so I don’t have to take the whole book home with me. But, once again, I remembered that I’m not insane, so I stopped.

I’m falling into the trap of overscheduling my time at home. On Tuesday, I’m meeting two friends for lunch, another friend for coffee, three friends for dinner, two more friends to see a movie, and one friend to carry my casebooks around for me all day so I can study in between. Actually two friends. Like I said, the books are too heavy.

Really, it’s just a waste of energy (not to mention a valuable twenty minutes I could otherwise spend memorizing one more federal rule of civil procedure) to even think about studying when I know that while I’ll be a good boy when I get home – take my books out of my bag, stack them neatly on my desk, take out some highlighters, boot up my laptop – after about twenty minutes, the next time I see the word “assumpsit” will be when I pack the books to come back here two weeks later. If I really get any studying done it either means I don’t have enough friends, or that law school has actually succeeded in turning me insane.

We should all make a pact. No studying over break. Leave the books here. Take the batteries out of the laptops. Shut down the HL Central outline bank. After all, we’re graded on a curve. So if nobody studies, we’re no worse off individually than if everyone studies. And we can actually enjoy ourselves. I know the argument against this plan is that there’s a pretty big incentive to cheat – to be the only one who studies while everyone else is out ice skating in Central Park, relaxing on the beach in the Cayman Islands (the first tropical location that came to mind – the commercials work!), or interviewing at law firms in Washington, DC (fun!).

But there’s an honor code, isn’t there? And if there isn’t, there should be. A law student honor code. No raising your hand in class when other people are speaking, no working on assignments more than 24 hours before they’re due, no background reading not assigned by the professor, no comments about how class isn’t really supposed to end for another ten minutes, no commercial outlines, no showing up on Friday, and no tasty-looking food unless you have enough to share with everyone. I hate showing up to class hungry and seeing everyone eating muffins and donuts and cookies and roast beef and pasta and tandoori chicken and king crab legs… while I have a little bit of toothpaste in the back of my mouth I can swallow and an orange lifesaver that’s been stuck in my jacket pocket for eight months.

So we just have to add no studying over break to the honor code. Easy as pie. Pumpkin pie, lemon meringue pie, pecan pie, cherry pie… while all I have in my refrigerator is half a container of milk that’s rapidly turning into cheese, and half a block of cheese that’s rapidly turning into a prescription-strength antibiotic. I probably shouldn’t write when I’m hungry. It all ends up about food after a while….

Friday, December 13, 2002

Answers to yesterday's LSAT practice exercise (see below):

1. B
2. C & D (my bad. oops. thanks to Rob for pointing out the flaw in my answer choices)
3. C
At the end of Civil Procedure today, the class presented the professor with a monogrammed bathrobe and a set of shower accessories -- he had said at the end of class one day that class had been so stimulating that he needed to go home and take a shower. This is a 70-year-old man, by the way. So his response to the gift was "this is something my wife and I will enjoy. Perhaps together." In that spirit, I present a very disturbing Top 5 list of other things he meant to say. (I apologize that without some Civil Procedure knowledge, this isn't that funny).

5. "For all the places my Long Arm can't reach!"
4. "This soap smells just like my arthritis cream."
3. "I can use it to wash my Hanson and my Denckla."
2. "This will allow my wife and I to engage in some new forms of Discovery."
1. "This soap will help me clean my most personal jurisdiction of them all!"
In case anyone else reading this is looking for a website containing the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, so that you can avoid taking your heavy book home with you to study over the holidays.

Thursday, December 12, 2002

"The Twelve Days of Finals"

On the first day of finals, the law school got to see
A lot of straight-A students get a B.

On the second day of finals, the law school got to see
Two crammers cram
as a lot of straight-A students get a B.

On the third day of finals, the law school got to see
Three sleep through
Two crammers cram
as a lot of straight-A students get a B.

On the fourth day of finals, the law school got to see
Four laptops break
Three sleep through
Two crammers cram
as a lot of straight-A students get a B.

On the fifth day of finals, the law school got to see
Five kids who fail
Four laptops break
Three sleep through
Two crammers cram
as a lot of straight-A students get a B.

On the sixth day of finals, the law school got to see
Six students hanging
Five kids who fail
Four laptops break
Three sleep through
Two crammers cram
as a lot of straight-A students get a B.

On the seventh day of finals, the law school got to see
Seven leapers leaping
Six students hanging
Five kids who fail
Four laptops break
Three sleep through
Two crammers cram
as a lot of straight-A students get a B.

On the eighth day of finals, the law school got to see
Eight newly-decided business-school applicants applying
Seven leapers leaping
Six students hanging
Five kids who fail
Four laptops break
Three sleep through
Two crammers cram
as a lot of straight-A students get a B.

On the ninth day of finals, the law school got to see
Nine students in the professor's office begging for answers
Eight newly-decided business-school applicants applying
Seven leapers leaping
Six students hanging
Five kids who fail
Four laptops break
Three sleep through
Two crammers cram
as a lot of straight-A students get a B.

On the tenth day of finals, the law school got to see
Ten study groups in the library at three in the morning
Nine students in the professor's office begging for answers
Eight newly-decided business-school applicants applying
Seven leapers leaping
Six students hanging
Five kids who fail
Four laptops break
Three sleep through
Two crammers cram
as a lot of straight-A students get a B.

On the eleventh day of finals, the law school got to see
Eleven transferees transferring
Ten study groups in the library at three in the morning
Nine students in the professor's office begging for answers
Eight newly-decided business-school applicants applying
Seven leapers leaping
Six students hanging
Five kids who fail
Four laptops break
Three sleep through
Two crammers cram
as a lot of straight-A students get a B.

On the twelfth day of finals, the law school got to see
Twelve professors dancing
Eleven transferees transferring
Ten study groups in the library at three in the morning
Nine students in the professor's office begging for answers
Eight newly-decided business-school applicants applying
Seven leapers leaping
Six students hanging
Five kids who fail
Four laptops break
Three sleep through
Two crammers cram
as a lot of straight-A students get a B.
An LSAT Logic Puzzler. For the aspiring law student in all of you!

There are eight students in Professor Contracts' class: Mr. Aardvark, Mr. Bird, Mr. Cow, Mr. Dog, Ms. Emu, Ms. Ferret, Ms. Gorilla, and Ms. Hillaryclinton. Class is on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Six students are called on each day.

If Mr. Aardvark is called on, Ms. Gorilla is not called on.
If Mr. Bird is called on, Mr. Cow is always called on.
Mr. Dog only gets called on on Monday.

1. If Mr. Aadrvark is called on every day this week, which of the following MUST be true?
a) Ms. Emu is called on on Monday
b) Mr. Bird is called on on Wednesday
c) Mr. Dog is called on on Tuesday
d) Ms. Hillaryclinton moves to Greenland and runs for Senate

2. Which of the following is NOT a possible list of the students NOT called on on Tuesday
a) Mr. Dog, Mr. Aadvark
b) Mr. Dog, Ms. Gorilla
c) Mr. Dog, Mr. Bird
d) Mr. Dog, Mr. Cow

3. On Wednesday, Ms. Hillaryclinton sets the classroom on fire and class ends with only three people having been called on. If all of the rules still hold true, which of the following is a possible set of the three students called on?
a) Mr. Aardvark, Mr. Cow, Mr. Dog
b) Ms. Hillaryclinton, Ms. Gorilla, Mr. Aardvark
c) Mr. Bird, Mr. Cow, Ms. Gorilla
d) Mr. Aardvark, Ms. Gorilla, Ms. Hillaryclinton

Answers tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Saw someone on his way downstairs to do laundry. He was wearing a bright purple-and-green striped shirt and a pair of red sweatpants. That's when you know it's really time to do laundry.

The West Wing tonight featured the Yale Whiffenpoofs a cappella group. Way cool. I wish I was a Whiffenpoof. Althoug I'm happy being a Scale of Justice (our a cappella group) I suppose.

We had the last contracts class this morning. Professor ended with a great speech about how grades are imperfect measures of our minds, and they don't even really count for anything anyway. I'm paraphrasing: "You got good grades to get here. Well done. You won. The game is over. You're here, and you'll do fine in the world, whether you get A's or B's. Unfortunately, half of you will be in the bottom 50% of the class. The real shame would be if you let that stop you from caring, stop you from engaging, stop you from playing the game. Don't turn down the dial just because you get a B. You already won. Enjoy it here and get the most out of what there is to offer. Because you'll never be in a place like this again." She's so awesome. It's ridiculous. I wrote in my course evaluation that I would take a class on the phone book if Prof. Warren was teaching it. She's why there are teachers.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Colin Quinn (formerly of Saturday Night Live) has a new TV show on Comedy Central, following the Daily Show. I saw the premiere last night. It's basically a low-rent version of Politically Incorrect. 4 comedians and Colin Quinn talking about random stuff in the news. Not very good. I predict it lasts two weeks. Maybe less.
There's another weblog out there that's been categorizing law students into a number of different classroom types. I thought I'd give it a try, as semester one finishes up...

For the World-Revolver, every class is a class of one, and anyone else in the room is invisible. If the World-Revolver puts down his hand, it's only so that he can leave class to get some food, or so that he can simply interrupt the discussion without even bothering to wait to be called on. Why is it even necessarily for the professor to acknowledge his or her hand when there's no else of any use in the room anyway. It's a one-on-one tutorial for the World-Revolver, so questions of no interest to the rest of the class are fair game. And, of course, the class doesn't really need to end when it's over, so the World-Revolvers are sure to run up to the professor's desk to continue the tutorial when class has finished. A typical in-class comment from a World-Revolver: "I was absent yesterday -- would you mind repeating everything you said? And after that, I have this hypothetical I'd like to pose regarding my grandmother's infected boil and article 2-305 of the Uniform Commercial Code."

The Approval-Seeker treats class as an opportunity to demonstrate to the professor that he or she wants to be the President of the professor's fan club. A student of this type constantly nods his or head in agreement when the professor makes a point, laughs heartily at the professor's jokes, and offers comments in class that consistently reflect the student having done additional reading on his own, especially of anything written by the professor. These students compete with the World-Revolvers for the prime positions up at the professor's desk after class to ask questions. But the Approval-Seekers aren't usually there to ask actual questions. They just want to bask in the professor's glow -- and make sure the professor remembers they were there. A typical in-class comment from an approval seeker: "Wonderful point, professor. I was reading your article in the May 1974 Journal of Administrative Law and noticed you also said that government regulation can stifle innovation. Is that point still valid, or have there been substantial changes since? I was thinking of doing an independent study project on the issue and was hoping you might be willing to be my advisor. But we can talk about that after class."

The My-Turn simply won't shut up. It's not so much that he ignores the rest of the class or cares about impressing the professor. It's just that he or she always has something to say. Anyone else's comment is simply an opportunity for the My-Turn to share his or her thoughts on the matter. Someone else is talking? The My-Turn's hand is in the air, waiting impatiently for the first moment he can jump in. Professor poses a question? He's got an answer. Right or wrong, it doesn't matter. Said it before? Who cares? The My-Turn can never hear himself talk enough. A typical in-class comment from a My-Turn: "Following up on Ms. Smith's point, I want to once again reiterate that I think crime is bad. No matter what kind of crime, we need to try and stop it. I disagree with whoever said some kinds of crime are good. I think crime is bad. And if you disagree, I will only continue to press my point. Crime is bad. Unquestionably."

The Filling-My-Quota has decided that he or she must speak once per class, come hell or high water. Prone to not paying any attention at all to what's actually going on -- usually having not done the reading and addicted to solitaire to boot, a class simply can't pass without the Filling-My-Quota offering some instantly forgettable comment of some sort. It's not so much that this type of student is irritating -- he doesn't talk enough for that to happen -- but that you know it's coming, and you know it'll be siply a useless statement. Typical comment from a filling-my-quota: "I agree with the last point. String beans are usually green."

The Crazy-Outlier says strange things consistently. He or she simply has extreme positions on anything that comes up in a class discussion, and makes it a point to share those positions. Usually entertaining, often a relief in comparison to hearing the usual chors of agreement, the Crazy-Outlier just needs to be careful of speaking too much and becoming a My-Turn. In small doses, the Crazy-Outlier can sometimes make a class truly interesting. Typical comment from a crazy-outlier: "Abortion should not only be allowed, it should be mandatory."

The Eye-Roller hates his classmates, hates life, and, most of all, hates what you've just said. Sometimes it's just a facial expression, sometimes a sigh from the back of the room, sometimes a comment: "yeah, right," "I don't think so," and "sure..." being some of the favorites. Whenever he or she raises his hand, it's to cast doubt on what's been said before, or simply to express disgust for the entire discussion. Typical comment from the eye-roller: "That's a ridiculous point-of-view. We can't go around arresting criminals. It's nonsense. I don't even know why it's on the table and how Mr. Brown looks at himself in the mirror every morning after making a comment like that."

The Lost-In-Space may as well not be in class. He or she may have done the reading, but probably hasn't. The real problem is that the lost-in-space is just never paying attention. It's a shock to the system when he's called on, and can never really get it together enough to make any point at all. Also prone to asking questions about irrelevant subjects. Typical comment from a lost-in-space: "Can you repeat the question? I just, uh, I wasn't really following... I'm a little confused... could you explain how contracts and steamed broccoli are related?"

The Firefly spends most of the time completely silent. But every so often he lights up with something extraordinary to say. It's never expected, and it's always completely on the ball. And it's rare enough that there's no irritating factor at all. This is the kind of student most aspire to be. Typical comment: "It seems to me that even though the two laws conflict on the face of things, the first applies only to nights and weekends, and the second applies to normal business hours. So, using the precedent set in the previous case, we can reconcile the differences without the legal theory collapsing onto itself."

The Wallflower never dances unless he or she is forced to. Sometimes they can dance, sometimes they can't, but they'll never volunteer to. And once they're on the dance floor, they're looking for the quickest way off. Typical comment: "Me? Uh, the court said no."
Had the last criminal law class this morning. Had to fill out course evaluations. The bubble sheets, that require a #2 pencil. Which, of course, three people had. So we all had to share. Maybe it's a secret plan to keep us from filling out the forms. In undergrad they always had little boxes of golf pencils for us to use. I guess Harvard's endowment isn't big enough to afford those.

We're doing a Secret Snowflake (think Secret Santa, but non-denominational) thing in my section and I still have to go get my person a present. I spent a few minutes trying to think of something creative. But nothing came to me. I think I'll go with a Jelly Belly bear with jelly beans or something like that. The cold weather makes going out and actually getting it somewhat of a chore. Maybe that can be an activity for later this afternoon.

The only schoolwork I have left before break is to revise my first-year-lawyering memo and hand in the final draft. I keep opening the Word file and just not doing anything. I'm paralyzed to do work. I took a nap last night from 6:30-8:40, prime working hours... I don't know what it is that's stopping me from just sitting down and getting done with it.

Sorry for the rambling without a point. I'll try to make up for it with something funny here.

Top Ten Things A Professor Shouldn't Say At the End of the Last Class of the Semester

10. "You guys should know, you're the fourteenth best class I ever taught."
9. "One last thing. Everything I said this semester was a lie. Have a great vacation."
8. "And that concludes the introductory remarks. Next semester we'll start with the real stuff."
7. "I hope you've learned a lot this semester. Because the exam's gonna be a killer."
6. "I faked this whole teaching thing pretty well, didn't I?"
5. "The half of the book we didn't cover? You'll be responsible for knowing that as well."
4. "I suppose it's okay to tell you now. I'm not really the professor. I killed the professor in September and have been pretending to be him all semester so nobody would notice."
3. "Wow. All semester I've had a highly contagious infection, and, shockingly enough, no one in whole class has caught it! Congratulations!"
2. "Finally! I can't wait to get away from all of you!"
1. "We still have a lot more material to cover. The doors are locked from the outside. We're staying here until I'm done."

Monday, December 09, 2002

From my civil procedue professor: "...each paper is marked with a letter, either "E" (for excellent), "G" (for good), or "F" (for fair). A brief effort to explain these letters is made in the cover memo, but I mention the letters here so that no one will mistake any of them as standing for something else."

If the lowest grade is F, can it really stand for Fair? Can everyone's paper really be no worse than Fair?

Saturday, December 07, 2002

Here's a column about yesterday's job fair. More observations that didn't make the column are below, in the next post. Those are the exclusive "weblog job fair outtakes," available only in the weblog (or in every conversation I'll have for the next three days, until I've gotten maximum mileage out of every funny thing I can possibly think of about the fair).

A Trip to the Job Fair

I showed up too late to the job fair this past Friday. All of the stress balls were gone. They’re my all-time favorite job fair giveaway. Overall, I was pretty underwhelmed with the things the law firms had for us. I ended up with a yo-yo, a couple of highlighters (including a really cool – but fundamentally impossible to hold in one hand and actually write with – three-sided futuristic highlighter-slash-boomerang), more pens than I’ll ever use, a garbage pail full of fake-velvet pen cases (the point of which are completely and utterly unclear to me – are they saying their pens are so valuable, you need to protect them in a tiny bag or risk them getting – what – dusty?), and a tremendous block of post-it notes from the law firm of Sticky & Stickier. LLP. Whatever that stands for. Lonely Law-firm Partners. Lawyers Loot People. Less Life Probable. Long Long Projects. Let us Leave, Please.

The yo-yo I got came in an impenetrable container. I felt awfully silly standing in front of the recruiter trying to wedge open the box. “I’m not smart enough to open a metal container, but I’d like a job at your firm.” I would have felt stupider if I’d actually handed her a resume. I only gave out one resume. Printed on plain white paper, rolled up in a ball in my pocket. Only because the woman asked for one when I reached for the velvet pen case. “Which office do you want to work for?” she asked. “New York,” I said, confidently. “Oh. We don’t have a New York office.” “I meant Washington, DC.” “We don’t have a Washington office.” “Boston?” “Nope.” She pointed to some pile of glossy literature I hadn’t noticed, in between the mints and the chocolate bars. “Our offices are listed in here. Atlanta, Milwaukee, and San Francisco.” “I guess I’ll go with Milwaukee,” I said, hoping I wouldn’t be asked why. “Why?” she asked. “I hear it’s nice there,” I lied. “Okay,” she said, pitying me and my chances of finding a job. Amazingly enough, she actually wrote Milwaukee on the top of my resume and put it in a pile. That pile just happened to be in the trash can. As I walked away, I saw her take the “moron” rubber stamp from her pocket, and stamp my resume three times. One for each city I didn’t know they didn’t have offices in.

Undergraduate job fairs were more fun than this one. I went to a technology job fair once, and walked away with seven t-shirts, four stress balls, a koosh yo-yo, three cookies, a Nerf football, four daily planners, and, unfortunately, an interview. Which, oddly enough, ended up being the job I took coming out of college. “I traded my resume for a t-shirt at a career fair, and it just sort of snowballed from there,” became the line I’d use when people asked me why I chose to come work there. No one else seemed to find it amusing.

On my way out of the job fair, I passed by the ACLU table. They were giving away some kind of small metallic container with a pull-tab. It looked very much like those small cream cheese packets they have at the Hark, or you get on airplanes or in the kinds of restaurants where waffles are available twenty-four hours a day. Cream cheese or jelly, perhaps. I was sure it was one of the two. I was assuming they had run out of bagels, and were just left with the spreads. I’m glad I didn’t ask them about the bagels. Because it wasn’t cream cheese. And I’m not sure that a bagel and a condom makes for a very satisfying afternoon snack. Seriously, why would the ACLU decide to give out condoms at a career fair? What career were they pushing? Does taking a bunch of free condoms make you a more attractive potential employee? “Hey, you taking all the condoms – looks like you’d be perfect around the office. With our Christmas party coming up and everything… can I see your resume?”
Yesterday I went to a job fair the office of career services was holding -- 30 law firms and the ACLU were there, some trying to actually solicit first-years to give them resumes for a summer position, and some just trying to make their names known so we like them better next year, when they're actually looking to hire us for the summer.

Like simply seeing them at a job fair a year ago is going to make me more likely to take a summer position at Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw. I remember their name only because they gave out a pen. Anyway, I got there pretty late, but I was still able to collect a bunch of free toys.

One firm was giving out Bon Jovi CDs. I'm confused as to why. Perhaps the remnants of a promotion from, oh, I don't know, 15 years ago, were discovered in a warehouse?

I missed the stress balls -- they were all gone by the time I got there. Does it say something when a law firm gives out stress balls? Are they admitting their job causes stress? Or just that they got a good deal from the local stress-ball supplier.

Friday, December 06, 2002

"You Have Jurisdiction over Me"

(The guy sings)

In civil procedure, I sit next to you
And stare at you from your head to your International Shoe
You made my heart skip a beat when your Long Arm touched my casebook
I stared at your picture for three hours in my facebook

And though you're from a different land
I hope you'll give me your hand
So I can serve you process
I want to purposely avail
Of what makes you that one female
No matter what the law says

This is procedure, not contracts
And we have minimum contacts
So despite our diversity
In your court is where I want to be
You have jurisdiction over me

(The girl sings)

In civil procedure you sit next to me
And yours is the only laptop I ever need to see
Watching you play solitaire has shown me what real lust is
If we're not together it won't be substantial justice

You are the one guy in this school
Who'd make me break a fed'ral rule
Don't 12-b-6 dismiss me
You look at me and my heart skips
The venue's here on my two lips
You see, I'm asking you to kiss me

This is procedure, not contracts
And we have minimum contacts
So despite our diversity
In your court is where I want to be
You have jurisdiction over me

(They sing together)

We've satisfied International Shoe
And my Erie choice of law is you
And though the federal question's unclear
It's worth more than seventy-five thousand dollars
To have you here

This is procedure, not contracts
And we have minimum contacts
So despite our diversity
In your court is where I want to be
You have jurisdiction over me

Thursday, December 05, 2002

The Mets signed Glavine! I don't know what I think about that! He's good! But he's old!

And the a cappella concert was good.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

I had dinner last night with my Criminal Law professor. He's been sending out e-mails inviting groups of 6 students out to eat with him. It's pretty cool to eat with professors and get to talk to them outside of the classroom. He talked a bunch about his year spent clerking for Justice Marshall on the Supreme Court and how he got to go to a barbecue at the Justice's house, where the Justice himself was flipping burgers on the grill. He said the clerkship was really hard work and long hours. But still, if you're gonna work long hours, are there that many jobs cooler than clerking for the Supreme Court?
From page 307 of my Civil Procedure casebook:

"The same year, a decision of the Sixth Circuit expressed concern about mass tort product liability class actions, particularly when they embraced a nationwide class. Anerican Medical Systems, Inc. sought class certification of a nationwide class of people who suffered damages from implants of allegedly defective penile prostheses manufactured by defendant. *** It noted that class members had used at least ten different models of the prosthesis and that legal claims would 'differ depending upon the model and the year it was issued.' It also found that there would be individualized evidence as to such issues as 'surgical error, improper use of the device, anatomical incompatibility, infection, device malfunction, or psychological problems.'"

And you thought law school reading was dry and boring!

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Just in case you thought life at law school was interesting:

"Perspectives on Democracy, Stability, and Development in Ecuador"
Round-table Discussion with former President Jamil Mahuad of Ecuador
Thursday, 5 December 2002, 7:00PM

I'm being a little too glib here. I'm sure there are some people who'd find this interesting.

Also, just in case there are any other Harvard Law students reading this... have I been discovered yet?... I figure I should plug the a cappella concert I'm in this Thursday:

"Worst Case Scenario" - Scales of Justice Winter Concert
Thursday, 5 December 2002, 8:00PM
Ropes Gray Room, Pound Hall

Come hear the Scales of Justice, the law school's premier a cappella ensemble, on Thursday, December 5 at 8pm in Ropes-Gray for its Fall 2002 concert, "Worst Case Scenario"! Featuring favorites by U2, Dave Matthews Band, Shawn Colvin, Jackson Five, originals, and more. Tickets are only $5 and are available Wednesday 4 December and Thursday 5 December in Harkness Commons and at the door. And if you need any more incentive to take a break from the grind... there's free beer!

The "originals" they mention refers to a song I wrote and arranged called "Don't Call On Me." You'll find the lyrics if you search my archives. The "Worst Case Scenario" refers to the theme of the skits inbetween the songs, which I helped write. "the law school's premier a cappella ensemble" is overreaching a bit. "the... only" would be more like it.

Monday, December 02, 2002

I got back my first draft of my memo. Professor's comment towards the end -- "most of my comments are above." Most? Where are the rest of them? In his head?

Sunday, December 01, 2002

I was just watching 60 Minutes (yes, I'm really 75 years old...) and literally cringed at something Andy Rooney said during his commentary at the end. He was talking about newspapers -- and I'm not really sure what his point was -- he had about a dozen newspapers spread across his desk and he had a couple of comments about each one. "Here in the Asbury Park Press was an article about a woman who dressed up her twin daughters in costume and sent them to rob a bank... I wonder what her husband does for a living." And one of the last ones he had was a college newspaper from the University of Virginia -- the headline and byline were called out on the screen -- "Taking a Stand for Good Writing" by Jeffrey Eisenberg. And I thought to myself, "wow, what a lucky kid, his college newspaper article's on national television.

And Andy Rooney said: "And here in the Daily Cavalier, a newspaper at the University of Virginia, a student wrote an article all about good writing. And it's written badly."

And I literally cringed. Regardless of whether the article's good or not -- I found it on the web here but I haven't read it yet, so I have no idea if it's good or not -- what right does Andy Rooney have to embarass a college student on TV like that? He's not a professional journalist, and even if the article sucks, so does most of what's in any college paper. I really, genuinely feel bad for the writer. I mean, millions of people watch 60 Minutes. It just doesn't feel right to me. Maybe it just hits close to home because of my law school newspaper column -- I certainly wouldn't want Andy Rooney telling the world I write badly, whether or not it's true. I have to wonder if I'm overreacting, or if this is really going to turn into a story. I'll check the UVA newspaper tomorrow and the next day to see if there's any mention...

Edited to add: The article's from January 2002. The rest of the articles Rooney talked about were about recent events -- the oil tanker spill near Spain, John Kerry's exploratory committee for President -- so why would he pick this UVA article from 11 months ago? The last article this guy wrote, incidentally -- but I imagine that's just a coincidence. I'm baffled. At the very least, the fact that the article's so old means that Andy Rooney's careless to include it. But I wonder if there's more than that? I'm a little baffled. And, yes, I know this isn't worth the time I've spent thinking about it...
Back in Boston. Cold.

I saw "Bowling for Columbine" last night. I liked it, thought it was very entertaining and parts of it were thought-provoking. But what confused me a bit was the point Michael Moore was trying to make.

(Warning: Non-specific spoilers ahead)

The overall message was "there's too much gun violence in America," which makes sense enough, and the data holds that it's the case that more people in America are killed by guns than anywhere else (although the documentary conveniently uses raw numbers instead of adjusting for population when comparing the US to other countries -- needlessly, really, because the numbers are much higher here regardless so why even try and mislead). But his explanations as to why seemed contradictory.

He argued (1) It's not just because we have more guns, because other countries have lots of guns, like Canada, and nowhere near as much gun violence. Then he argued (2) It's not because of lax gun control laws and too many bullets for sale -- because, again, Canada has similar laws and easy availability of bullets (although he spends a chunk of the film focusing on the fact that Wal-Mart and K-Mart sell bullets, and isn't that a shame -- which it is, I agree, but he contends it's not the reason for gun violence -- so why spend so much time on it). (3) He doesn't blame violent TV, movies, and video games. He says Japan has more, and they don't shoot each other. And he spends a segment interviewing Marilyn Manson and trying to convey the point that he's not the reason kids shoot each other. So we end up at (4) A culture of fear. We have more gun violence because our TV news focuses so much on violence and fear. BUT, he admits we have more gun violence. So that's kind of why it's on TV. They don't make it up. So I guess he's arguing that it's a cycle that feeds itself.

But gun violence was high here before the emergence of the mass media and hysterical local newscasts. And he doesn't present any actual evidence to show that fear spurred on by local newscasts leads people to shoot each other. And then he spends a chunk of time talking about a 6-year-old who shot a classmate in Michigan. Because he found a gun at his uncle's house. I can't find the connection between this and the TV news.

He also takes a segment to blame welfare-to-work programs for gun violence, which I couldn't quite follow -- I guess he was saying that taking parents out of the house gives the kids more time alone to find guns and then go shoot people with them... but why welfare-to-work is different from just normal work isn't clear to me, and it was not at all clear that he was arguing that parents shouldn't work at all.

Nevertheless, despite my problems with the logic, it was thought-provoking and entertaining. Definitely worth my two hours and ten dollars.

The New York Times liked it too but had similar reservations with the logic. From their review:

"Mr. Moore vacillates between acknowledging their complexity and giving in to his own urge to simplify. He dismisses a number of possible answers out of hand. Is violent popular culture to blame? No, because in a country like Japan, with a tiny fraction of our gun deaths, people consume super-brutal movies, video games and comic books with even more voracity than we do. Poverty? No, since Canada and many European nations have much higher unemployment rates and much lower homicide rates. Is it our history of warfare and brutality? Compared with imperial Britain and Nazi Germany, he suggests, we're downright pacific.

"But each of these assertions rides roughshod over some obvious doubts and qualifications. Unemployment, in countries with more extensive welfare states than ours, is not necessarily the same as poverty, and the wholesale brutality of states and empires engaged in wars of conquest is not the same as the retail mayhem of armed individuals.

"But though he seems to be hunting for a specific historical cause for events like Columbine, Mr. Moore, when it serves his purposes, is happy to generalize in the absence of empirical evidence and to make much of connections that seem spurious on close examination. Several times he notes that the Columbine shootings occurred on the same day as the heaviest United States bombing of the Kosovo war. The more you think about this coincidence, the less it seems to mean."