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.

Sunday, February 29, 2004

A Democratic Debate Parody (scroll down for comments on the real thing)

DAN RATHER: Welcome to the 27th Democratic Debate of the 2004 primary season. With us this morning are Senator John Kerry and Senator John Edwards -- and two other people we're just going to ignore. Senator Kerry, let me start with you. The National Journal just released a report calling you the most liberal Senator in the Senate. Senator Kerry, would you call yourself a Senator?

SEN. KERRY: I don't think the American people want this campaign to be about labels, Dan.

DAN RATHER: So you would not call yourself a Senator?

SEN. KERRY: I would call myself a fighter for the American people, but, no, I'm not going to make this campaign about political labels.

DAN RATHER: Senator Edwards, is Senator Kerry a Senator?

SEN. EDWARDS: I believe he is, Dan. And I believe he's been one for a long time, in Washington. Washington is an evil place, Dan. And Senator Kerry has been a Senator there for a long time. In Washington. Ooooh.

DAN RATHER: Now, Senator Edwards---

SEN. KERRY: Excuse me. Let me step in and defend myself here, Dan. I've just been attacked. Senator Edwards has pulled out a baseball bat and is currently attacking me. I need to defend myself. I may be from Washington, and I may have $400 million in the bank, but I refuse to be called a Senator. That's not the kind of name-calling the American people want.

REP. KUCINICH: I'd like to get a few words in here, if I may.

DAN RATHER: No, you may not.

REP. KUCINICH: Okay, then.

DAN RATHER: Senator Edwards, Senator Kerry has now won 18 of 20 primaries, and you've won one. Some people say you're just angling for the Vice Presidential nomination. If you lose all of the primaries up to the convention, do not receive the nomination, and watch President Bush win re-election over Senator Kerry, will you drop out of the race?

SEN. EDWARDS: I don't believe ---

DAN RATHER: You don't believe? A follow-up on that if I can. Do you mean you don't believe in---

SEN. EDWARDS: I'd like the opportunity to finish.

DAN RATHER: I'd like the opportunity to interrupt you.

SEN. EDWARDS: I just need thirty seconds. I don't believe the voters have finish speaking in this election. There are two Americas, Dan. There's the America where John Kerry has won 18 of 20 primaries, and there's the America where I still have a chance at the nomination. Some may say that second America just lives in my head, but I believe it is real and it is strong and I will fight for that America to become the one America.

REV. SHARPTON: I believe there's more than two Americas, Senator Edwards. I believe there's a third America, where I'm actually a legitimate candidate for this nomination---

DAN RATHER: I'm afraid I'm going to have to cut you off, Reverend Sharpton.

REV. SHARPTON: You will NOT cut me off, Dan. I've been sitting here patiently while you've been going back and forth between Senator Kerry and Senator Edwards, ignoring the fact that I am here --


REV. SHARPTON: Shut up, Dennis. Dan, you've been ignoring the fact that I am here. The voters have a right to choose. The media, by ignoring my candidacy, is telling the voters that I am not a legitimate candidate. And that, my friends, is illegitimate!

DAN RATHER: Very well. The next question is to you, Senator Kerry. It's about a woman's right to vote. Do you believe women should be able to be voters?

SEN. KERRY: It's about rights, Dan, not terminology. I believe women should have the right to cast a ballot in the Presidential election just like a man can. I believe they should be able to choose their preferred candidate, and have that selection counted toward the determination of who wins the election. But if you're asking me if we should call them voters, well, on that point I have to disagree. It's about rights, not terminology.

DAN RATHER: Senator Edwards?

SEN. EDWARDS: I believe I'm in full agreement with Senator Kerry on this one, but let me just add that I think it's a state issue. If a state wants to call its women who cast ballots "voters," then that's great; if they want to call them "eggplant," that's fine too.

DAN RATHER: Reverend Sharpton, you get the last word on this.


DAN RATHER: Excellent. Moving on. Senator Kerry, pundits have been saying that you are not as lickable as Senator Edwards.

SEN. KERRY: I'm sorry. Lickable?

DAN RATHER: Excuse me. I mean likable. People have said Senator Edwards is more likable than you. That you don't have the charisma, the personality, the charm to be an effective leader. What do you say to those critics, and what have you learned from Senator Edwards on the campaign trail?

SEN. KERRY: I don't believe I have a likability problem at all, and I think anyone who accuses me of that is just too poor to identify with me. I think people at cocktail parties and state dinners like me very much, and any of them will tell you so just as soon as I pay them to. I don't think I've learned anything from Senator Edwards except that maybe I should dye my hair brown, because his hair does look pretty good for a man his age, I have to admit.

DAN RATHER: Similarly, Senator Edwards, people have said you lack the experience to be President, especially foreign policy experience, given that you've only been in the Senate for one term. What do you say to those people?

SEN. EDWARDS: I say there are two Americas, Dan. There's an America where we need leaders who have experience, and there's an America where a man like me, an honest man, a good man, a man whose father was a millworker and whose mother was a windmill, who can rise up and make a difference. I say there's an America where the guy with $400 million wins the nomination, and there's an America where the guy with just $36 million wins the nomination. These are my two Americas, Dan.

REP. KUCINICH: Don't forget about the America where a guy with $1.85 and a stale donut in his jacket pocket can win the nomination. Because when I am the nominee---

REV. SHARPTON: Pigs will fly when you are the nominee, Dennis.

REP. KUCINICH: Yes they will, Al. Because I am a vegan, and so I will give pigs the freedom to fly. Pigs will also get universal health care and the right to a free college education. And I will not send any pigs to Iraq, and Canadian pigs will not steal our jobs because I will recall NAFTA, burn it, and eat it. As long as it is not made of meat.

DAN RATHER: Senator Edwards, you've gotten rich off of being a trial lawyer. Do you think the people of America realize that there's a whole set of lawyers in this country who make a lot of money?

SEN. EDWARDS: I think they do, Dan. I think they do in one America. But in the other America, people don't have a chance to become lawyers, because the other America doesn't have any vowels, and so there are no lawyers, doctors, or teachers. Just a lot of rhythm. Sometimes. When "Y" isn't a vowel.

DAN RATHER: Finally, a question for all of you. Is Michael Jackson a pedophile?

SEN. KERRY: I don't believe in labels. But, yes, I believe he is.

SEN. EDWARDS: I'm in full agreement with Senator Kerry on this one.

REV. SHARPTON: Sure, absolutely.

REP. KUCINICH: I think---

DAN RATHER: We're out of time. Thanks so much to the candidates for joining us this morning. Godspeed.
Thoughts on the Democratic Debate

There's a Democratic Debate on CBS this morning. I did "live commentary" for a couple of these on En Banc in the past, since the comment function sort of made that more fun, but since En Banc is no more... thought I'd do it here. (Incidentally, in the past, Pandagon has done some very nice Live Debate Commentary -- don't see anything up there yet today, but you may want to check them out for more. Daily Kos also has a thread of comments on the debate.)

1. Dan Rather got a terribly short haircut. He looks weird.

2. Sharpton nodded hello facing the wrong camera.

3. John Kerry looks and sounds really tired. John Edwards just asked a question about religion with his standard "Two Americas" stump speech. Sounded canned. They all look and sound tired. Maybe it's the 11 AM thing. Maybe one of them will be too tired to realize what they're doing and say something stupid. That's the only reason to watch. George Carlin has a routine where he says the only reason people watch car racing is for the accidents. Same thing here, I think.

4. Kerry really, really looks and sounds tired and cranky, and his Botox seems to have worn off. He's channeling the crankiness of Bob Dole. And that really worked in '96. John Edwards is trying very hard to sound very knowledgable about Haiti, but the political reporters asking the questions seem to know more than he does.

5. Sharpton is arguing with the moderator, who's trying to move on from Sharpton and Kucinich back to Kerry and Edwards. Why do they have to invite Sharpton and Kucinich when no one really wants to hear from them?

6. They've moved from Haiti on to "Super Tuesday" and whether Edwards wants to attack John Kerry, basically. Edwards is invoking Trade as the big difference between the two candidates. I don't know if Trade really resonates with every voter. I know I don't think all that much about trade. Tell me he's too rich, or he's too mean, or he's too old. Trade agreements are too abstract.

7. What a dumb question Edwards just asked Kerry when given a chance to point out differences. "Do you believe we're going to change this country from Washington, DC?" Kerry said, "Yes. And John Edwards has been in the Senate for 5 years, in Washington too." Edwards blew this question, I think. But Kerry still sounds old and cranky this morning, so I don't know that he's capitalizing as well as he could be on Edwards being off his game.

8. Edwards is still trying to point out differences in position on these different trade agreements that I have no idea what they mean and nobody does. Why is he emphasizing trade so much to the exclusion of any other differences these two candidates may or may not have? Is this the best he can come up with? This is not working for Edwards. Although he's energetic and trying and interrupting.

9. Dennis Kucinich is now saying NAFTA shouldn't exist and everyone else likes it, and he's the only one who doesn't. Actually, Kucinich is the only one up there who sounds well-rested and articulate this morning. He's crazy, but he's coming off well.

10. Kerry is arguing over budget numbers that were printed in the Washington Post. Not so useful.

11. Al Sharpton is arguing for time and accusing the debate moderators of favoring Edwards and Kerry. And he's getting effectively mad. He's doing great. He's super-entertaining. He's complaining that he has to fight for time, and flustering Dan Rather.

12. Kerry is saying there's no difference between what he would do on trade and what Edwards would do on trade. And saying that Edwards has talked in the last 5 weeks more about trade than ever before. And that he didn't vote in 1994, which has little to do with trade but sounds good anyway. He's got the last word in on this, at least so far, and even though he sounds cranky he sounds persuasive on this point, and is rendering Edwards' trade differences argument pretty much useless. Edwards needed better differences to draw than on trade policy, I think. His advisors should be feeling bad about this one, I think.

13. Moderator is asking Edwards if he can quantify the amount of jobs he'll save from going abroad, and he says "Of course not, no one can." Which sounded weak. But now he's making trade a personal issue -- "my family... an issue about families..." yeah, but everything is. Trade is not the *biggest issue facing families* today. It's facing workers, and, yeah, it's facing families, but eh...

14. Moderator has just asked Kerry about the National Journal survey that showed him as the #1 liberal in the Senate. And he won't admit he's liberal, and he's saying labels are bad, and he's never heard anything so silly. Come on, that's not realistic.

15. Kucinich just took advantage of the exchange and announced himself as a liberal and proud of it, a liberal for universal health care, etc. Nice. He's not doing badly in the very limited time they're giving him to talk, even though it won't actually get anyone to vote for him.

16. "This is actually a subject that John and I agree about" is something Edwards wins no points by saying. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Edwards is refusing to call Kerry a liberal, refusing to call himself a liberal. Sharpton has the best comment on this issue -- "compared to President Bush, most everyone in this country is a liberal" or something to that effect.

17. A reader just e-mailed: "I'm going to vote for the Democratic nominee, but I can't imagine these four are persuading anyone this morning. "labels are so silly in American politics." -- Kerry. Um, if you're running for the Democratic nomination, shouldn't you want at least the (D) behind your name?" Nice summary. Thanks.

18. Dan Rather just accused Edwards of being rich. And he joked that if you're going to list assets, he should list Kerry's assets too. And now Kucinich is defending Edwards, and saying that even though he's made money that shouldn't disqualify him. Sharpton did great to turn this into a bigger issue -- Edwards could go from poor to rich, but a lot of people can't, there are more than two Americas. Edwards: "running so that millions of Americans get the same chances I got." And now he's into his two Americas speech. He's doing very well on this question, because it can go to his stump speech. "Those of us who've had great luck moving up---" I'm not sure he really believes he's been successful because of "great luck," but I suppose it's not fair to quibble on that point. He did a nice job witj the question.

19. Edwards has this finger-pointing thing that works better at a podium than sitting around a table.

20. Kerry -- "no draft, I will get us out of Iraq." Kerry does sound reasonably intelligent on war issues. He still sounds cranky, but he sounds more comfortable on defense and Iraq than he's sounded on the other questions. "You can't just cut and run, Dennis." "But I'm not." "Then you've adopted my plan, Dennis." Kerry's solid talking about this one.

21. Kerry is criticizing President Bush not going to any funerals of killed soldiers, or reaching out to the families. Sharpton: "It's not about going to the funerals, it's about showing compassion... the real question though is why they were killed in the first place... you [in the Senate] gave him a blank check."

22. Edwards hasn't talked in a while. Oh, there they go, they're asking him a question about terrorism. Is no terrorist attacks since 9/11 luck or the President? "President has done something... not done enough." We need better jobs in our ports, he says. Ports are boring. Nuclear chemical plants that are vulnerable -- and now he's launching into special interests changing Bush's positions. Chemical plants being attacked would be bad. Edwards wanted to take action, Bush was swayed by special interests.

23. Sharpton says we can't give the President credit -- he was president when 9/11 happened, and shouldn't they have done more. It's a nice point given the question. But now of course they're all going to say we should have done more, he could have done more... and now Kerry is making an artless transition into job programs for minorities. Nice point, bad segue.

24. Kucinich: "we are not safer because we attacked a country that did not attack us [and more al Qaeda has erupted...]."

25. Moderator asking Kerry about his likability. What has be learned from Edwards about what's important when campaigning. This is a horrible question -- why are they asking him why people don't like him, when he's winning all these primaries, and no one is going to admit they're not likable and talk about themselves in the critical third person in a presidential debate. Weird question. Which got an answer that of course it would get, "I'm likable. Watch me on the campaign trail."

26. Followed up by a dumber question to Edwards -- does Kerry have enough charisma to beat Bush? Stupid question. Edwards: "I don't think this is a personality question... the American people are looking for someone who... shares their values." Solid way to answer a stupid question. "They know in their gut when someone's telling them the truth... they know who they can trust..." This sounds like an argument from "Shady Lawyers 101." I don't trust Edwards when he says people should trust him, even though I like Edwards generally.

27. Gay marriage. Kerry: "I believe marriage is between a man a woman... I'm for rights, not for terminology or status. SPousal rights... inheritance, taxes... being afforded to everyone." Kucinich: "Equal protection clause... many Americans believe equality of opportunity should not be denied by sexual orientation... enable those privileges to be extended to everyone... show a capacity to expand... protect those people about to be excluded by the President." They're asking Kerry what he would do if one of his children wanted to marry someone of the same gender: "I've been to weddings... I just have a difference of opinion as to what to call it... I think all the civil rights should be afforded." Sharpton: "I think that's states rights... I am for a constitutional right for human beings to decide who they want to be... it's not just who runs against the President, but what runs against the President, human rights." Edwards: "I believe the Federal government should recognize the state decisions... definition of marriage has been defined by states... this is one place where Senator Kerry and I agree... up to the states to decide if marriage." John Edwards: even if you and Kerry agree, STOP SAYING IT.

28. Foreign policy. North Korea. Middle East. Edwards: "The Israelis have a right to protect themselves." Kucinich: "Peaceful coexistence, restart the peace talks."

29. Last question. "Is God on America's side?" Kerry: "We pray that God is on our side." Edwards: "[Lincoln said] I'll join you in a prayer that we're on God's side." Nice answer. And sounded prepared, but that's ok I guess.

And that's it. Hope someone's reading... Debate parody coming later today. :)
Don Henley has a song on his 2000 album (Inside Job) called "Taking You Home," that could just as easily be about a take-home exam:

I had a good life
Before you came
I had my friends and my freedom
I had my name
Still there was sorrow and emptiness
'Til you made me glad
Oh, in this love I found strength I never knew I had

And this love
Is like nothing I have ever known
Take my hand, love
I'm taking you home
I'm taking you home
Well, at least the first two lines work.
A NY Times article on how the buttons at intersections in New York City that purport to make the light change for pedestrians don't really do anything. Kind of funny. People push anyway. Here in Cambridge, they actually do seem to work... or so I think....

Saturday, February 28, 2004

A Socratic Dialogue In Support of the Socratic Method

The clock on the wall says 4:52, so it's time to start. Jeremy, can you tell me what the Socratic Method is?

Uh, is passing allowed?


Okay. Well, in theory, it's some sort of back-and-forth dialogue that Socrates wrote about, where the teacher's questions guide the students to an answer in some profound and metaphysical way. In practice, it basically just means professors call on you to answer questions, as opposed to the opposite end of the spectrum, "volunteers only."

That's basically right, although a little wordy. And what do you think of the Socratic Method?

Still me?

Am I looking at anyone else?

I suppose not.

I suppose not. Yeah. Stop stalling.

Sorry. I think the Socratic method certainly keeps students on their toes.

Toes like on your feet?


Just want you to clarify your point.

It keeps students awake, and alert. It makes sure students have done the reading.

Did you do the reading?

Of course.

Are you lying to me?

Yes. I'm sorry. It won't happen again.

I know. Because if it does, I'll make your life miserable by calling on you every single day.

I appreciate that. Fear is motivating.

I know. What else is motivating?


Good answer. That's right on point. Nice job. Now tell me what case the one you read for today reminds you of?

You mean you want me to read your mind.


Then I'll have to go with Marbury v. Madison, the most famous case in all of Constitutional Law.

This is Evidence.

I know.

Do you really?

I guess not.

Should I call on someone else?

Please do.
This is a link-worthy post about a Californian's conception of the rest of the map of the United States. I hate linking to things, but there you go.
For no reason at all I'm up crazy late this evening. I had an a cappella group rehearsal earlier, and we were talking about our spring concert -- traditionally we've chosen a charity to donate the relatively modest profits to. I got a mixed reaction to my suggestion we choose the National Association for the Deaf. Ponder that for a bit.

This evening, I went to see the Harvard Hasty Pudding show, "As The Word Turns." Hasty Pudding is an undergraduate theater group at Harvard, now in its 156th year, that puts on an annual musical comedy written and performed by students, with lots of professional support in terms of director, set designer, costumes, choreographer, etc -- so production values are really quite tremendous. It's all guys on stage, some playing female characters, and all dressing up for a kickline at the end -- I'm a little surprised they haven't had to go co-ed yet, but that's not really the point of my post.

I was in a similar group at Princeton called the Triangle Club -- Triangle has the all-male kickline as well, and the basic gist is the same -- student written and performed musical comedy with some professional support in terms of director and choreographer. We were co-ed, incidentally. And the genres are different. Hasty Pudding follows a fairly consistent formula -- it's very pun-driven humor, a relatively simple plot, colorful costumes, very polished performances, an easy-to-follow book show, with lots of light laughs but it's not really trading in topical humor or high-concept. It works very, very well for what it is -- it's a formula, and this year's show could have been performed 25 years ago and the audience wouldn't feel like it was out of place, but they played the formula very well. Triangle tends to play more with sketches and songs that don't necessarily fall together into a book show, more with topical humor, college humor, toilet humor... more failure and less polish, but with that comes the potential for some more gems and more real super-satisfying moments -- I admit I'm more than biased. But I have to admit that Hasty Pudding's on-stage acting, singing, and dancing was fantastic, extremely polished, their band was great, the costumes and sets were awesome, the lighting and sound very very solid -- I don't think Triangle necessarily comes up to their level in production value and in actual performance quality. And the writing was solid -- it was well-executed to their formula -- well-crafted stuff, the music didn't stick with me as much as I wish it might have but I liked it, especially the ballads (I like ballads), and the rhymes were sometimes predictable but at no point forced or tortured -- again, though, I blame the style and formula for any shortcomings more than the writers. And the formula works, so maybe I ought not blame anyone. So overall I was entertained, but not blown away -- and felt some nostalgia for my undergrad experience in Triangle (as I often do).

No one really wanted to read that much about the Hasty Pudding show, I'm sure. But there you have it. Recommended, absolutely -- they perform through March 21st, student tickets $15.

Friday, February 27, 2004

I'm frightened to think what kind of Google hits this post is going to get me, but I'm doing my Tax reading, innocently enough, and mentioned in one of the cases I'm reading (Raytheon Production Corp. v. Commissioner) cites a case whose name caused me to do a double take: Swastika Oil and Gas Co. v. Commissioner. From 1941. A friend I showed this to, in disbelief, came up with a great line: "Uh, just what kind of gas exactly were they making?" I imagine this company has gone out of business, or at least changed its name -- "no one's buying our gas!" "maybe it's the flag we're flying outside all our service stations" -- I hope. And, yes, that was the most interesting part of my tax reading.
The Ballad of the Eight-Hour Exam

"My Eight Hour Exam"

Wait in line, early morning
Proctors ask, for my ID
Check me off, I get the paper
This will be, the last you see, all day of me

Probably should, have done the reading
Probably should, have virus-checked
Probably should, have slept last evening
I expect, I will be wrecked, when they collect

My eight hour exam
Eight hour exam
My hand aches
I've made mistakes
No bathroom breaks
Whatever it takes
I'm going through an eight hour exam

Open book, but it don't matter
I would look, but what's the use
Fifteen thousand, words await me
No excuse, my brain is loose, I'm out of juice

Can't recall, the proper statute
Have no clue 'bout, precedent
I re-read, and don't remember
What I meant, where my words went, I am spent

My eight hour exam
Eight hour exam
Look at me
I'll get a C
And no degree
I have to pee
I'm going through an eight hour exam

Hour one, I pull my hair
Hour two, I cry
Hour three, I pace the floor
Hour four, I stab myself in the eye
Hour five, I'm still alive
Hour six, I'm not
Hour seven, cuts for word count
Hour eight, I can't be late, the Registrar won't wait.

My eight hour exam
Eight hour exam
I hope and pray
I'll get an A
But there's no way
Where went the day
I'm going through an eight hour exam

Thursday, February 26, 2004

I'm Unique! (a brief tour of some law firm web sites)

The nature of our practice and our unique firm culture sets us apart from the rest.

What makes our firm unique are its fantastic people.

Our attorneys and staff have created a unique firm culture which nurtures mentoring and the exchange of ideas.

We possess a unique combination of experienced lawyers with backgrounds in various legal fields.

Our clients appreciate our unique combination of specialized expertise and broad experience.

Our firm's culture is a unique blend of the conservative and entrepreneurial.

Our exciting practice and unique collegial ambiance distinguish us from other law firms.

We have a unique ability to offer our attorneys unlimited opportunity for personal, professional and financial growth.

We have a unique Pro Bono Policy that demonstrates the Firm's support for pro bono.

There is a unique spirit at work here, a collective "can do" attitude that empowers every member of our Firm.

At our firm, your first reward is the unique opportunity to explore your interests and build your practice.

Our attorneys and staff have a passion for justice and a unique commitment to the needs of our clients.

We don't think you will find another law firm anywhere that has such a unique combination of excellent lawyers, challenging and diverse practice opportunities, decent people, and a genuine sense of community.

One of the things that makes us unique — and uniquely effective for our clients — is that our people live in the real world, not inside dusty law books.

A law student or graduate should be wary of a firm that is one-sided and does not present a balanced mix of quality legal work, people, and lifestyle. We believe we have succeeded in achieving such a balance, which makes us unique in today's legal community.

If the unique firm we have described here is one that appeals to you, we encourage you to contact us about career opportunities.

Note: I've made some minor edits to eliminate firm names and shorten sentences, but these are all real.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Dennis Kucinich spoke at the Law School today. I went just for kicks, but it turned out the law school newspaper didn't have anyone else covering it, so some version of this will be in the paper tomorrow, but I thought I'd share the uncut version here:

On Wednesday afternoon, United States Congressman and Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich spoke to a standing-room-only Ames Courtroom crowd in an event sponsored by the HLS Democrats. The audience was filled with not just students but Kucinich supporters from the broader community, wearing buttons, carrying signs, waving banners, and, perhaps in the case of one woman who coughed throughout the event, suffering from a lack of universal health care. Many of the audience members wore leis to symbolize Kucinich's recent second-place triumph in the Hawaiian Democratic caucus, earning 30% of the vote, as opposed to the 1% he has been averaging in the continental forty-eight.

Kucinich entered the courtroom to a rousing standing ovation. Once the crowd quieted down, he launched into a 15-minute speech that focused primarily on his stance against the war in Iraq and in favor of world peace more generally. Kucinich told the audience that the upcoming election did not have to be a choice between a Republican war in Iraq or a Democratic one, but that the country could instead choose peace. “We can consciously create a new world… I think people are ready for it,” he said, and a deluge of applause followed.

Kucinich criticized current U.S. policy for putting the country on a platform separate from the rest of the world, and “lording over” other countries. The candidate ran onto the elevated judge’s platform in Ames courtroom to illustrate the United States’ plans to watch over the world from space, and attack whenever a country did something the Bush administration did not agree with.

Kucinich outlined his plan to create a cabinet-level Department of Peace, which he said he initially proposed to Congress in July 2001, two months before the September 11th attacks. The Department of Peace, he explained, would infuse the principles of peace into every aspect of society. In school, children would be introduced to “peace-making” and “peace-sharing” programs starting in the early grades. In homes suffering from domestic violence, abusers would be treated with "open-hearted compassion," with a focus on dealing not just with the effects of but with the underlying causes of violence in our society. Internationally, the Department would work with the nations of the world to transform relationships, and, in the spirit of the original United Nations charter, end war for good.

The Congressman invoked quotations from Raplh Waldo Emerson, Lord Tennyson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Descartes, and others, insisting that it should be the "conscious cause of the nation to deal with the peace crisis at home," and that we should use "our capacity to evolve" to "create a more perfect union" and achieve world peace. He closed his speech by saying he wants to "carry the power of the human heart, and the human spirit, and go farther than we have ever gone."

After a sustained round of applause, Kucinich took questions from the audience. One person asked whether he would consider running on a ticket with Ralph Nader. Kucinich replied that he and Nader have been friends for thirty years, but "my nomination will make Ralph Nader's candidacy less necessary."

In response to a question about the legalization of drugs including cocaine, Kucinich said that he thought it was long overdue that we decriminalize marijuana, and that although he would deal with drug abusers with medical treatment instead of incarceration, he was "not there yet and may never be" as far as legalizing cocaine.

In response to a question about the budget, Kucinich said that he would cut Pentagon spending by at least 15%, cut war spending by removing our troops from Iraq, and roll back many of the Bush tax cuts in order to fund universal health care, universal 5-day-a-week child care for kids ages 3, 4, and 5, and make it possible for everyone to attend college tuition-free. No word on whether that plan would include Harvard Law School.
The rest of
"Walking in Class Late" (to the tune of Marc Cohn's "Walking In Memphis")
[I tried. This is not that thrilling, I know. But I tried.]

Alarm clock did not ring
The time I slept right past
I thought I would do all the reading be-
-fore class but I'm not that fast
Though I am on panel - what's the chance she'll call on me?
Cause I got a friendly smile
And I'm as clueless as I can be

And I'm walking in class late
Tripping on a backpack, coat, and chair
Walking in class late
But do I really know why I am there?

Saw the ghost of Posner
In the comment someone made
Then as she called on the person next to me
Real silently, I prayed
Now perhaps she will not see me
If I slump down in my seat
If she calls my name
I'll hang my head in shame
And go down to defeat

Cause I was walking in class late
Didn't do the reading yesterday
Walking in class late
I do not have a clever thing to say

She's got three prongs on the blackboard
And she's looking right at me
I turn the page; the page is useless
There is nothing there to see
I wish I'd stayed in bed more

Now teacher she points my direction
And she says something about a case
It's a case I've never heard of
And she sees it on my face
I mouth the words "please save me"
And her eyes move one row back
She says "Tell me 'bout this decision"
And my world just fades to black

I won't be walking in class late
I'll take my one free pass and go from there
Walking in class late
Someone up above answered my prayer

Walking in class late
The moral of the story is as goes
Walking in class late
No one who's on panel ever shows.
I just posted something at Crescat that makes me sound naive about the world we live in. Enjoy it before I decide it's better off dead.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

With apologies that my title scans pretty poorly, here's
"Walking in Class Late" (to the tune of Marc Cohn's "Walking In Memphis")

[You get a chorus for now; the rest comes Wednesday, I hope]

And I'm walking in class late
Tripping on a backpack, coat, and chair
Walking in class late
But I really wish that I just was not there
Just FYI: my guest-blog stint at Crescat Sententia has been graciously extended indefinitely. Nothing changes here; I'm honored to have been asked to stick around over there, and their ever-growing cast of excellent contributors means that I get the low-pressure privilege to post only when the mood strikes and not just for the sake of seeing my name in bright orange. So when something I read over there sparks something, I'll probably post a thought. But I'll flag anything of note, and, of course, this is still the home base. No worries.

Incidentally, stay tuned for some news about En Banc: The Next Generation in the next couple of days.
On request from a reader, I just activated the Atom feed of the blog, which Blogger says is like RSS. I don't know what any of these words mean, but if they mean something to you, you can find the feed at Let me know if doing this has messed anything up anywhere else.
The library's online catalog is telling me I didn't return a book that I returned. I'm sure I returned it. So at some point today (since I've renewed the book the maximum amount of times just hoping they'd find it and erase it and I wouldn't have to bother) I'm going to see if they think I'm lying or not when I tell them I returned the book. I'll actually sort of be disappointed (from a theoretical perspective, not really actually disappointed) if this is very easy and they just erase it off the record, because that means people can just steal books whenever they want and then tell the library they returned them. But I really didn't steal this book. I mean, it was for a journal article I was footnote-checking. It's about environmental regulation. Why would I want this book? Why would anyone want this book? If it was the 18th century papers of President Washington, then, sure, maybe I'd want to steal the book and sell it on E-Bay. But this book is relatively modern, surely worthless in monetary value even if not worthless in scholarly value. Although even in scholarly value I have my doubts. I actually remember returning it. I have a very detailed story I can tell them about taking it out of my room, bringing it to the library, and putting it in the drop slot. That's actually about as detailed as the story gets. It was a little paperback book, so even if they don't believe me and they make me pay for it I can just chalk it up to balancing the bonus I got in Tax class because we're using a book that hasn't been published yet and so we got it for free and didn't have to buy a $90 casebook. So it's not like I'll really be upset if they don't believe me. But I returned the book. They must have scanned it back in wrong. Which, I guess, means maybe it's on the shelf and I should go look for it, and then I can just return it again. Hmm. Maybe I'll try that. I doubt it'll be there. If I had a bar code printing machine I could do all sorts of deceptive stuff with library books. I suppose there's been some sort of bar code cheating scandal somewhere in the world at some time. Who knows. Hopefully something more interesting will happen to me today so that I can do better than a story about a library book that I returned.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Book Recommendation: "Clinton and Me"

I'm very hard to please. It surprises me when I want to effusively praise something. I intended to read for a half hour last night and then get to sleep early for my 8:30 class this morning. I could not put the book down. I devoured it. My light went off at two in the morning. This book is terrific.

Briefly, "Clinton and Me" is the story of Mark Katz, who, just out of college, volunteered for the Dukakis for President campaign in '88, and impressed his way into a role on the campaign's rapid-response team, coming up with sound bites and one-liners. People remembered his work, and four years later, after President Clinton's election, he found himself writing Madeleine Albright's speech for the Gridiron Club, an annual event where high-powered politicos say funny things. The President loved it. For the next eight years, Mark Katz was Clinton's hired-gun for the annual humor circuit, writing jokes for the President of the United States. Fantastic job, of course. And the book is full of funny one-liners and stories, excerpts from what made it into the speeches, and what didn't. And I laughed. But that's not what makes the book terrific. What makes the book terrific is that the reader feels what it's like to step into Mark Katz's shoes, and see this world of power and privilege though the eyes of someone who feels humbled and privileged to be there. He gives these people he comes into contact with depth and dimension and makes them real. Al Gore is a human being in this book, not a caricature. President Clinton is a human being. Books don't normally do this. He makes you feel how he was feeling and see what he was seeing and... I couldn't put it down. And it was funny. Buy the book.
(In response to my post re: fantasy baseball leagues, a fellow blogger sent me an e-mail saying "I'm putting together a yahoo fantasy league for bloggers." So if anyone else with a weblog is interested, or, since that doesn't seem to be getting much of a reply, anyone who wants to pretend they have a weblog and join, league ID is 13568, password is frisbee.)

Sunday, February 22, 2004

"Bar/Bri" [to the tune of Barry Manilow's "Mandy"]

I remember autumn days
My eyes met your focused gaze
Sitting at the desk, with piles of pamphlets
Promises I'd pass, and be a lawyer

Springtime came, the price didn't rise
Watched as you'd divert your eyes
The free books didn't help, my grades got lower
The highlighters you gave, they ran out of ink

Oh Bar/Bri
Well, you said that your price would be rising
I should sign up today
Oh, Bar/Bri
Well, you dangled free goodies before me
Had no choice but to pay
Oh, Bar/Bri

I'm sitting in the Bar/Bri class
The teacher says he's sure I'll pass
But the teacher isn't real, a screen I'm watching
It's all on video, for this they charge

Oh, Bar/Bri
Well, you lock me inside every day now
Teaching law that I know
Oh, Bar/Bri
How much more do you want me to pay now
Will you please let me go?
Oh, Bar/Bri

Hours in the room, I'm almost crying
Weeks inside the room, and my soul is dying

Oh, Bar/Bri
Would have passed but for all of this torture
Watching tapes every day
Well you charged me much more than you helped me
Failed the test anyway [I got fired today...]
Oh, Bar/Bri
We received in our mailboxes this week a copy of the executive summary of a "Study on Women's Experiences at Harvard Law School" conducted by a committee of students. It found that women receive slightly lower grades, volunteer to speak in class significantly less often, and are more likely to take public interest jobs and work on journals. It was interesting. I will now try to be funny for two paragraphs and then make a serious observation.

The study, unbelievably, ignores the biggest disparity of them all: from my observation, women are hundreds if not thousands of times more likely than men to use the women’s bathrooms. Aside from that one time there was that guy who really couldn’t hold it, and they were cleaning the men’s room, and…. Honestly, I thought the real study was pretty interesting. I went online and read the full report. Most shocking finding: there is apparently a Committee on the Use of Human Subjects that has to approve student surveys. That is a scary name for a committee. “Excuse me… I’m performing some medical testing on my fellow students, and was hoping… no, I’m not a licensed doctor… oh, as long as I follow these easy-to-read instructions… got it, thanks.”

I was also surprised at the lengths necessary to find the gender of some of our classmates: “For most students listed, we used their first names to determine gender. When the name was inconclusive, we looked at yearbook pictures. We used internet searches to identify the gender of the few remaining students.” Who are these gender-ambiguous students named Leslie and Pat who can’t be identified by yearbook photo – and, more important, what did they find on the Internet that solved the problem? Is there a secret gender-ambiguous identification website out there somewhere?

[Here's where I'm trying to be serious again]

The most compelling part of the full report, to me, were the selected student comments that were included:

One female 3L wrote, “I've been surprised by the number of people that I see disengaged from life at HLS – both academic and extracurricular. There are lots of people who stop vocalizing what they are passionate about after their first year.”

One male 3L wrote, “The school manages to take 500 of the brightest and most motivated students in any field in the country and systematically pacify and alienate large proportions of them, so that by the time they are in their third year, many if not most students rarely attend class, do the reading, or care a fig about law.”

I think it’s important to look at gender differences, and certainly if there are ways that women are being disadvantaged we should work to figure out why and address it. But the quotes in the report, from men and from women, I think capture broader problems facing law students of both genders: a lot of people just don’t seem to care that much. And maybe there are ways to fix that. If the report can get people thinking about that kind of stuff, I think it will have done an awesome service.

[Now I'm going to try and be funny again by parodying the survey]

Study on Lazy People’s Experiences at Harvard Law School
By the Non-Working Group on Student Experiences

Classroom Participation

We monitored student participation in three or four courses, but fell asleep before any statistics could be collected. Of the results we did collect, we found that lazy students spoke on average 98% less often than motivated students, and were responsible for just 2% of comments in class. Those comments included: “could you repeat the question please?” “will this be on the exam?” “are we really going to get to tomorrow’s reading assignment, or can we just skip it?” and some audible snoring. Lazy students consistently volunteered less often than motivated students, and often remained in their seats for a substantial amount of time after class, failing to realize the class had ended.

Extracurricular Activities

Lazy people comprised just 1% of the executive boards of journals, and could not be found in any statistically significant numbers on Law Review, or ever having even considered it. In fact, lazy people were more likely to travel to outer space than participate in the law review competition, for the years examined.

Student Life and Satisfaction

Lazy students and motivated students differed substantially in how they described their own abilities. Lazy students gave themselves significantly lower scores in skills like “waking up early,” “doing the reading,” “eating three meals a day,” and “going to the bathroom regularly.” However, they gave themselves significantly higher scores in “watching television,” “surfing the Internet,” “wandering around aimlessly,” and, with a tremendous disparity, “sleeping.”

Employment and Clerkships

While there was little difference in the percent of lazy students versus motivated students who accepted a job offer at a large law firm, a substantially higher percentage of lazy students never bothered to show up for work. In addition, 42% of lazy students missed important deadlines like confirming their offers, choosing preferred practice areas, and filing their taxes. Once at work, lazy people were much more likely to cry at random points during the day, and wish they had gone to art school instead. In terms of the three most important factors in choosing a career, lazy students chose “not having to do all that much work” almost 14 times more often than did motivated students.

Academic Performance

We investigated grade patterns, and found that on average lazy students and motivated students received exactly the same law school grades.
My grandma got her first cell phone last weekend. The fact that she can carry it around with her and make calls from anywhere doesn't amaze her. No, what amazes her is that she can set up the phone so that when she presses one button, it calls a whole number. "But Grandma, you can do that with your regular phone too." "What? Really?" Grandparents. Aren't they cute?

Saturday, February 21, 2004

The Score Bard just put up his 2004 Fantasy Baseball Draft simulator, which is a terrific way to waste 15 minutes trying to alleviate the baseball withdrawal that's been building since the World Series ended. In my mock draft last night when I should have been sleeping, I probably grabbed Ryan Klesko and Junior Spivey a couple rounds too early, and missed out on 2004's NL MVP Mike Cameron, but other than that I think I did ok. :) Incidentally, if anyone's got a fantasy league with an opening, let me know. I'm already in a couple, but I'm kind of obsessed, so I'd love to maybe add a couple more...
Sherry at Stay of Execution has a phenomenal post (and I don't think I throw the word "phenomenal" around all that freely) about what makes a good law professor. I agree with most of what she has to say, and she says it very well. Despite the fact that I don't think I can do a better job than she's done, here's my take on it (and apologies that I'm stealing the title of her post):

What I Want In A Law Professor

You are brilliant, even though you may or may not care if we realize it. I'm impressed if you wrote the casebook, but even if you didn't, you've read the casebook. You may have taught this course three dozen times already, but you still care about the subject, and it still feels fresh to you. You haven't memorized your lectures. Calling on people isn't a way to give yourself a break from talking, or thinking. You actually listen to what the students say and try to answer our questions. Even better, you use the very best questions to springboard into different areas you may not have even planned on talking about, but somehow they've become relevant. You never say, "this discussion has gotten really fascinating, but I'm going to stop it right in the middle and move on to something extremely boring." In fact, you never even think that. You have no patience for students who make the classroom anything other than a collegial atmosphere, and you don't hesitate to do what you can to eliminate any distractions they're causing. You acknowledge when material is confusing. You admit when you've made a mistake, or misspoken. You double-check any math you do on the blackboard, but don't fight it when twelve students tell you you've added wrong. You don't tell us we can learn the subject better from a commercial study guide, even if you think it might be true. You tell us just enough about who you are and what you've done that we're in awe and want to know more, but not so much that we feel like we're watching an episode of A&E Biography. You have very little patience for students who aren't trying. You have more patience for students who actually are. Even if you don't remember our names, you remember what we've said, the questions we've asked, and make us feel like you know more about us than perhaps you really do, because, to you, getting through to each student really is important. You read the newspaper and bring up relevant issues in the news. Sometimes you bring up irrelevant issues in the news, just because you think they're interesting, and, because you're brilliant, you have something interesting to say about them. You attempt to be funny, whether or not you succeed. It's the effort that counts. You don't assign reading that you don't care if we read. You don't assign reading that you're sure you won't get to. You ask hard questions, but you throw us enough rope that we can find our way back if we get lost on the way to an answer. You smile. Your exam is hard, but fair. You take the grading process seriously. You aren't afraid to e-mail us about things you think we might be interested in. You want students to come to you, but you realize that sometimes we're intimidated, and so you try to make it easier, and genuinely encourage interaction. You answer e-mails. You don't complain in class about having to have office hours. You love your job. You have a good heart. You care.
Oh! It's rare to have any sort of epiphany when reading something on a weblog, but, here, from Evan Schaeffer's Notes from the (Legal) Underground:

Back in the office, I did something I rarely do, which was to ask for more time from opposing counsel to file a brief I should have filed yesterday. These requests for extensions are always granted--and I'm always willing to grant them for others--but I hate to ask for more time because I'm afraid it will develop into a habit.
You mean there are extensions?? We spend all that time in Civ Pro learning about 20 days for this, and 10 days for that, and sanctions, and oh no! And it turns out not only can you ask for an extension, but people do all the time, and they're granted, and it's just not that big of a deal? Oh!

Friday, February 20, 2004

Gosh. Alice at a mad tea party posted the text of an e-mail exchange between Skadden employees she says is being forwarded around. You've really got to read this for yourself, but basically it's a lawyer who's being denied meal reimbursement for a meal he ate while working on Christmas Day because it was out of the approved 10-block radius, because all of the restaurants he checked within the 10-block radius were closed. Excuse me while I cry now.
Someone's trying to make life difficult for me. My list of 40 law review editor positions wasn't enough. The NY Times has a story this morning, titled "5,201 Ideas for 9/11 Memorial, From the Sublime to the Less So." So here goes my list of all 5,201 ideas... :) No, I'm kidding. That would be quite an ordeal.
A reader just let me know that Dana Carvey, appearing on Leno tonight, told a joke that was substantively the same as my Howard Dean joke from Wednesday about what it would be like to be his patient if he goes back to practicing medicine ("...and then I'm gonna stick this tube all the way into your colon! Yeaaaaaaaaagh!"). I'm kinda psyched about it. If I'm coming up with the same joke as Dana Carvey, that's not bad company to be in. I remember his sketch comedy show from about 7 or 8 years ago -- only lasted a handful of episodes, but I thought it was hilarious. Wish it was on DVD. Can't find it. Maybe on e-bay.

Also, thanks to Howard Bashman for the link to my post below about the 40 leadership positions on the Harvard Law Review.

AND: For anyone who can't get enough, I'm guest-blogging over at Crescat Sententia this week, honored simply to have been asked. It's a cool blog. I just (literally, just a minute ago) posted my first piece over there, which mentions Pasta, Saddam Hussein, and Abortion, all in the space of three paragraphs. I think I've just guaranteed a hit from the next person who googles "Abortion Pasta." You know, for the big italian buffet that always accompanies the occasion. I wouldn't write that if it wasn't coming up on 2 A.M. I think it's time for bed.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

I'm a couple of days late on this one, but check out my Harvard Law Record colleague Adam White's column that got printed on National Review Online about some dude named Pryor. Not Richard Pryor. Some other guy. Not even a comedian. I don't know. From what I hear, National Review is a relatively conservative publication. Just FYI.
The Law Review has been having their elections the past couple of weeks. From the law school newspaper's article:

"For the 42 current 2Ls, there are normally 36 to 40 positions available, either through election or by appointment, including managing editor and notes editors. "Everybody who wants a position generally gets a position," said [new President] Vignarajah. "There are lots of different ways to contribute and help lead the organization."
I thought I'd try and list all 40 positions.

The 40 Law Review Leadership Positions

Managing Editor
Technical Editor
Notes Editor
Submissions Editor
Symposium Editor
Competition Editor
Social Director
Page Numbering Editor
Keeping The Women Out Editor
Comfortable Furniture Editor
Lexis Point Collector
Figuring Out How To Add 40 Hours To Each Week Editor
Cleaning The Bathroom Editor
Actually Reading Each Issue Editor
Buying Bagels Editor
Sneaking Into Registrar's Office And Giving Everyone Perfect Grades Editor
Building Cardboard Cutouts To Sit In Class Instead Of You Editor
Spreading Rumors About Members We Don't Like Editor
Helping Everyone Get Good Clerkships Editor
No Time To Get Haircuts So One Of Us Does It For Everyone Editor
Coffee-Making Editor
Figuring Out How To Put The First Law Review Editor In Space Editor
Keeping Away Colds With Zinc And Vitamin C Editor
Background Music Editor
Coming Up With The Secret Codes On The Doors Editor
Photocopying Master/Mistress
Designing A New More Readable Typeface For The Footnotes Editor
Cutting Everyone's Food For Them Editor
Overnight Package Delivery Editor
Programming the VCR (we love Sex And The City) Editor
Helping The More Socially Awkward Members Better Interact With Their Peers Editor
Making Up Stories About How Much Fun Law Review Is Editor
Buying The Porn Editor
Labeling The Cabinets Editor
Laughing At The People Who Didn't Get In Editor
Cuddling Editor
Monitoring Weblogs To See When People Are Talking Smack About Us Editor
Here's an unexpectedly cool article from the NY Times about the TiVo remote control and some of the thoughts that go into designing a remote control. And the sidebar has a pretty interesting (although disappointingly brief) slide show of other remote controls and their poorly-designed features (side-by-side volume control instead of up-and-down, etc). It actually makes me think that if there isn't one already, a web page featuring the most poorly engineered remote controls -- or, even broader, the most poorly engineered consumer products -- would be pretty cool. There's gotta be something like that out there already... right?

Update: A very quick google search helped me find a really comprehensive remote control review site, but all the reviews seem to be too positive for me to get any humor value out of it. And also, in what might possibly be the worst idea ever, the Weemote, a remote control for children. Look, if your child can't figure out how to use the remote control, maybe that's a sign you should turn off the TV and make him read a book. Terrible idea.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Letterman last night said that Howard Dean said he'll go back to being a doctor should he lose his bid for the nomination. Letterman asked whether anyone would really want to be his first patient. But so much further the joke could have gone. I really wouldn't want to be Howard Dean's patient: "First I'm going to look in your nose; then I'm gonna look in your ears; then I'm gonna look down your throat; and then I'm gonna **stick this tube all the way into your colon**. Yeaaaaaaaagh!" Or at least that's how I would have written the joke.
Today at noon, I get to try out the new online grade reporting system to find out my grade in my winter term class. When 1L grades came out, a 1L I know happened to e-mail me at about 11:45 saying he'd gotten his grades. So I know that when they say noon they don't mean exactly noon. So how many times do you think I've checked so far this morning? :) I know I shouldn't really care, but I'm curious, and I kind of want to know. And it's not there yet. But soon. Perhaps. Stopping my morning productivity. Of course, my morning productivity is usually stopped by something anyway. At least today I have an actual reason. Not a good reason. But at least it's something. (UPDATE: Got the grade at 11:52. Anticlimactic, of course. Looks pretty much like all the others. Like everyone's do.)

Also -- just curious and looking for input -- if any of you were En Banc readers, or read any group weblogs, and there are things you specifically liked / didn't like / would like / ideas / etc -- e-mail me and let me know your thoughts. Trying to figure out next steps, and seems reasonable to see if anyone has any interesting thoughts or ideas.
I hate when someone else writes something funny enough I feel compelled to link to it. Wings and Vodka has a law firm interview parody here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

To the people coming from "The Clay [Aiken] Report" website -- the song parody you're looking for is here ("Admissible" to the tune of "Invisible"). I also wrote one a while back to the tune of "This Is The Night" -- you can find that here. Enjoy! [Certainly my least law-related link to date, I think, but I'm happy to have it!]
Latest in a series: more free stuff from the Dean. She's expanded wireless access. I think I may be the only student here without a wireless card. But anyway. She included this message in her e-mail -- which, since I don't have a wireless card doesn't affect me anyway, but:

Second and equally important, students should not use the wireless network during class unless a professor specifically has authorized such use. Violation of this rule is harmful to the learning process and disrespectful to both faculty and fellow students. Except when the professor determines that access to the network will enhance the
educational experience, the classroom is not an appropriate place to make use of network service. Given the law school's paramount goal of providing the finest possible education to all its students, I cannot stress enough the importance of this restriction.
I want to know in what class access to the network will enhance the learning experience. "Class, I'm about to ramble on for a while, so this may be a good time to check sports scores or instant message your friend at Yale." Eh. If it cuts down on the amount of ESPN in my peripheral vision, I'll be somewhat pleased.
I just read this long, detailed, and will-be-interesting-only-to-baseball-fans speech by Paul DePodesta, the new GM of the Los Angeles Dodgers (and former assistant GM of the Oakland A's). I want to take back my comment below that the law review article I read yesterday may have been overstating the success of Billy Beane's approach in Moneyball. Read this speech and you'll be worshipping at the idol of DePodesta. But read it quick, because it was pulled from its site and lives only in Google's cache. So hurry!
From The Daily Princetonian's interview with 20/20 co-anchor John Stossel (Princeton '69)

P: Do you have any advice for Princeton students?

S: Every lawyer I think sucks about $60,000 to $80,000 a year out of the economy so I would encourage people to go into science, medicine or business, but not law. We have too many lawyers already . . . Law is forced, and government is forced. We should keep the forced sector small and the free sector big.
Everyone loves lawyers.
JD2B also links to a post by Jim Dedman that links to another post (all this linking!) about the six types of law students: "The Disgusting Elite... The Star Students... The Single Focus Student... The Survivors... The Graspers at Straws... The DOAs." Uh, maybe -- but that's not a very interesting breakdown. That's just a set of labels for the GPA distribution, really. And I'm not sure I understand what a "single focus student" is -- if you do well in one or two classes and not the rest, I'm skeptical that has much to do at all with your aptitude in that type of law -- I'd bet it has more to do with the professor or the type of exam or factors like that. In any event, I can't believe that we can't get a better list than that of the law student types.

Like the Myers-Briggs Personality tests, I think the best way to sort law students might be on a bunch of different continuums (continuua?). Your "Law Student Typology" would then be the combination of your leanings on the various attribute scales, and would say something about you overall. I think I've come up with something relatively interesting, at least to open a debate about this stuff. I don't know how successful I've been, or how accurate this is. But I thought I'd try. Here goes:

The Law School Typology Scale

Intensity Scale -- I / C -- Intense / Chill. Students at the "I" end of the spectrum sit in the front row and raise their hand a lot. They distribute application forms for the study groups they want to start. They write hundred-page outlines. They don't sleep. If they didn't think they would get caught, they would rip pages out of library books and bring unauthorized material into the exam. They have lots of Lexis points. They eat Powerbars. They try out for law review. They really want to work at Skadden. They don't expect to live to see 70. And no one else expects them to either. Students at the "C" end of the spectrum may or may not care about their results as much as their intense counterparts, but the difference is that if they notice you've fallen into a well, they'll probably try and help you out. They'd rather not talk in class, or at least only if they really do have a legitimate question. They don't kill themselves. They sleep. They may or may not join study groups. Theirs don't meet every day.

Interest Scale -- T / B -- Trying / Blowing It Off. This is a different measure than the intensity scale, although it might be rare to find someone who's an "I" and also a "B" -- but the other three combinations all seem relatively common. Students on the "T" end, whether they show it or not, really care how they do. Students on the "B" end really don't. They don't go to class, they don't read, they don't remember to bring a pen to the exam...

Involvement Scale -- O / U -- Overcommitted / Undercommitted. Overcommitted students are in everything -- legal, non-legal, fun, not fun, interesting, uninteresting. Undercommitted students watch TV and sometimes play Playstation, if they feel like it.

Into the law -- L / N -- Love it / Not gonna do it. This one's easy. There are the ones who want to be on the Supreme Court, and the ones who don't.

So -- these four attributes get us the 12 law student types (I've eliminated the 4 I/B combinations, because I don't know if you can be intense and checked-out at the same time). As I sort this out, I'm starting to think my scales may not be exactly the right ones. But I'll let this be a jumping off point for some other blogger to fix my errors.

ITOL -- Future Wachtell associates
ITON -- Future Wachtell associates who are only there for the money, I guess.
ITUL -- Really boring future Wachtell associates?
CTOL -- Future happy lawyers?
CTON -- Future happy non-lawyers?
CBON -- These are the people who are having all the fun, I guess
CBUN -- These are the people playing Playstation all day

Monday, February 16, 2004

JD2B links to a law review article about what law schools and legal education can learn from the Oakland A's baseball team and its general manager, Billy Beane, following Michael Lewis's 2003 book, "Moneyball," about how Beane has in a lot of ways revolutionized the baseball front office. I read Moneyball last year, not long after it came out, and enjoyed it, although I thought it was too short, and would have loved it to go even more in-depth. But overall it was good. And obviously stuff about law school interests me. So I was excited to read this -- perhaps the first law review article I was ever excited to read. My thoughts below.

The authors' main point in the article is that just as how Billy Beane brought rigorous numerical analysis to baseball, legal education would be better served by bringing rigor to law school rankings, like the ones U.S. News has created a very profitable cottage industry around (side note: imagine being the guy who told U.S. News they should start ranking stuff? gotta be one of the top 100 best business decisions of the last twenty years, I would think. is U.S. News identified with anything as much as their identified with their rankings? Time has the Man of the Year, U.S. News has its rankings, and Newsweek... uh... prints stories and stuff...).

The first chunk of the article basically summarizes Moneyball, and sets out the idea that before what one might call a statistical revolution in baseball, started by sabermetrician Bill James, baseball executives were using bad information to make decisions, and even good management couldn't overcome that. Post-James, and pre-Billy Beane, teams had that good statistical information, but general managers refused to use it -- hence the problem had switched to good information and bad management. Beane exploited this inefficiency and began using good information combined with good management -- which led to unorthodox picks in the amateur baseball draft based not so much on how good a player "looked" but what his statistics had been.

The next chunk compares law school to baseball, finding them similar in their competitiveness and the existence of "winners" and "losers" in the rankings and in faculty recruitment. But while in baseball, there are wins and losses to measure quality, in legal education, we had nothing -- until the U.S. News rankings. The authors make an interesting point that regardless of how accurate or inaccurate the rankings are, whether they measure something or nothing at all, the mere existence of rankings is useful because it allows students to sort themselves, and gives law firms and other legal employers the ability to make judgments based on how those students have sorted -- since more students, and more qualified students, will apply to schools at the top of the rankings -- to send a signal to law firms -- those schools will have to become more and more selective because of space reasons -- and thus they will be validating those signals... thus the rankings themselves lead to effective sorting regardless of the merits of the rank. I've just done a terrible job of explaining that clearly. Read the article for better than that. The article makes another interesting side point that among the "alternative ranking systems" that have been proposed, the schools where the rank-inventing professors teach all finish higher under their alternative systems than under the US News system. Nice.

The article then goes into a fairly long discussion about how to measure faculty quality that I found myself skimming, mostly because it wasn't about baseball. :) One thing they find is that publishing in a law review as a student, or publishing a bunch of articles (more than one) before getting the first tenure-track job are both solid indications of more publishing to come, in good journals -- but that "pedigree" variables don't really matter much (rank of law school, whether on law review, clerkship, advanced degree).

One problem with the article's underpinnings, as I see it -- and I realize this is entirely a baseball argument and has nothing to do with legal education -- is that it trusts Moneyball too much. Yes, all evidence points to Beane being an excellent general manager. I wouldn't dispute the argument that he's the best in baseball. But his unorthodox picks in the amateur draft haven't all panned out, and many of them are in fact underperforming. Much of the A's success has been based around their three young pitchers -- Tim Hudson, Barry Zito, and Mark Mulder -- who have all stayed healthy and developed into top-of-the-rotation starters. Beane surely deserves credit for their development -- but most teams with three top starters, regardless of what statistics the general manager is using -- will find success. See the 2003 Chicago Cubs, for example -- and no one's accusing them of leading the sabermetric revolution. Many of the players Beane has sought -- Erubiel Durazo and Scott Hatteberg, just to pick two -- have performed solidly but below expectations. The statistics tell us something, but I'm not sure Beane has yet to find the Holy Grail. He may, but I don't know that we're there yet. So, on that level, to me the analogy holds a little less power.

Eh. The article was kind of interesting, but the analogy only went so far -- Beane brought statistics in to make his team better; how can we bring statistics in to hire better faculty at law schools. It's okay, but it's not the world's most exciting argument.

An interesting read if the quality of law school faculty interests you, or you want a quick summary of Moneyball. If you're a baseball fan who doesn't care that much about law review publication rates -- and I suppose that probably means you're not looking to read any law review articles anyway -- you can just as easily pass.
I haven't taken a course in Evidence, and I'm not sure I remember much Criminal Procedure from 1L fall, so this song parody probably contains gross misstatements of the law. But why should that stop me.

"Admissible" (To the tune of Clay Aiken's "Invisible")

Saw, that gun in your room
But I do not have, a warrant to search
Drugs, are under your bed
A knife in your hand
One more in jail, and I get a raise
So what if there's no crime I know of that you did


If it was admissible
The jury would send you straight to jail
If it's insuppressible
The trial would be quick
Miranda inaudible
Then I could just frame you for the crime
The promotion would be mine
If I was incompetent
(Wait...I already am)

Saw, you killing a bug
But was it a bug?
Or was it a man?
I keep looking at you
You're washing your hands
Wish that was blood, and not jelly you were washing off
Wish I could find a corpse and blame you for the crime


If it was admissible
The jury would send you straight to jail
If it's insuppressible
The trial would be quick
Miranda inaudible
Then I could just frame you for the crime
The promotion would be mine
If I was incompetent
(Wait...I already am)

You reach out
Reaching for the poison?
No, it's just the Pringles
And another soda
We have no crime tied to you
But I can't let that be true...

[Repeat Chorus]

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Readers of En Banc may be alarmed to see the "End of En Banc" message on the homepage. I was too. But don't despair. (And there's no hard feelings on my end. It's just a weblog. Things happen.) Hopefully, if you were a loyal reader, it helped you discover some talented writers and interesting bloggers. All but one of whom have solo blogs that, if you enjoyed their material on En Banc, there's no reason not to check out -- Unlearned Hand, Chris, Greg, and PG. In any event, it looks as if some fraction of us may try and continue the group blog thing. Obviously, I'll let you know when something's definite. Of course, nothing impacts anything here. Not even nuclear war could keep me from writing moderately funny song parodies. Actually, nuclear war probably could. But anything short of that.
Week In Review: Concluding Thoughts on Harvard's Porn Magazine

This week, there was a bit of controversy as The Crimson announced, just in time for Valentine's Day, that Harvard had approved an undergraduate sex magazine. We get an ice rink, they get naked pictures of each other. Harvard quickly backtracked after the mainstream media firestorm made them realize maybe this wasn't a good idea. "Where does your daughter go to school?" "Harvard." "Oh, I knew that. From this magazine I saw." Professors' seating charts would be so much more interesting. I know, I know. There simply aren't enough opportunities out there for Harvard students who want to appear naked in the pages of a magazine, on video, or on the Internet, and it really is the school's duty to make sure there's a forum on campus for students who want to foreclose all opportunities to run for political office in the future, or to look their grandparents in the eye ever again. "Honey, you've always been good at writing. Why don't you join a campus magazine." "Well, okay. How about---?" "NO! NOT THAT ONE!" "But I would just be joining it for the articles…."

Actually, I shouldn't have said the magazine was announced just in time for Valentine's Day. It was actually just in time for Presidents Day, in honor of President Clinton. Or maybe in honor of John Kerry, if the Internet rumors are true and he did in fact receive botox injections from an intern. I may be getting two rumors confused. The magazine may also have been in honor of Dennis Kucinich, who continues his search for love on the campaign trail with an appearance on Blind Date next week.

The Law School is saving its announcement about a similarly-themed new magazine for Halloween. Or maybe Lent. Ten points if that makes sense to you, because I'm not even sure it makes sense to me. A Law School magazine like that would be kind of cool. Instead of scanning for the highest grades, law firms could scan for, uh, other things. Perhaps some students could get pro bono credit for posing, and others could get arrested. It could be run by the Legal Aid Bureau; it's just a different kind of Aid than they're used to. Yeah. I think I've pretty much run out of steam on this topic.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

In case your Valentine's Day is not quite as sweet as for the Civil Procedure couple below, here's a Property Love (or Love-Gone-Bad) Song to enjoy instead. Sort of.

Property is a bundle of rights
And I want to hold you in my bundle tonight
I want a right to exclude
Anybody else from seeing you in the nude

If I have to I'll adversely possess
The shirt that you're wearing and your lovely new dress
I want to use you exclusively
I own you and you rent me

You're my property
For all of perpetuity
I'm putting a Restrictive Covenant
On anybody else touching you

You're my property
I'll sell you into slavery
I own an Easement
On every part of you

Your new boyfriend knew when he came to town
That I had a covenant and I wrote it down
Implied, reciprocal, and negatively
I have a servitude so you belong to me

He says it's an unreasonable restraint
But I am his lawyer and won't file that complaint
He claims that you've been alienated
But he does not have privity from when it was created

You're my property
For all of perpetuity
I'm putting a Restrictive Covenant
On anybody else touching you

You're my property
I'll sell you into slavery
I own an Easement
On every part of you

I have a simple fee
Unless I sell you, you belong to me

You're my property
For all of perpetuity
I'm putting a Restrictive Covenant
On anybody else touching you

You're my property
I'll sell you into slavery
I own an Easement
On every part of you
In honor of Valentine's Day, I thought I'd re-post this Civil Procedure Love Song I wrote last year. Enjoy.

"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

Friday, February 13, 2004

Just in time for Valentine's Day, a reader pointed out this article from the Economist on the biology of love. It makes it all sound awfully clinical. I don't feel funny enough right now to come up with anything all that interesting to say about it, but I did think the article was worth the read.
Valentine's Day Gifts, If Your Beloved Happens to be a Law Student

1. The Vermont Teddy Bear Company's "Socratic Bear," who comes with an apple for the teacher, and a permanently raised right hand; wears a suit for no reason; carries a casebook; and has a voice chip that randomly says the names of cases. The point being that the bear has read the casebook, cover to cover.

2. Tortious Chocolates, from the Russell Stover Deep Pockets Candy Company, each filled with something else you can sue them over -- razor blades, human organs, unlabeled peanuts for the nut-allergic, pork, fingernail clippings, hair, the date rape drug, the morning after pill... you get the point.

3. A diploma from the University of Phoenix Online law school, just $495 for regular, $595 for honors.

4. Tax flash cards, Valentine's Edition, which come in red and pink with pretty pictures of flowers surrounding the tables and formulas. The Engagement Edition comes with a set of cards that explains how your tax liability will go down if you were married and could file jointly, an romantic enticement to marriage no one could ever refuse.

5. A new Bluebook, for those long nights checking citations. How romantic!

6. Red roses, from the flower shop that lost its revolving line of credit and needed to quickly dump its inventory out of spite so the bank wouldn't get anything when it showed up with the special flower-storage trucks it was going to use to transport the flowers out and over to a flower store that didn't default on its loan. Probably should have taken some more precautions to protect your collateral before effectively shutting down the business, right, Bank? (Can you tell I took Secured Transactions?)

7. Toy handcuffs, to commemorate the experience of taking Criminal Law. Or for some other reason. ??

8. A graphic love poem that borders on sexual harassment or some other tort. Because getting served with a lawsuit on Valentine's Day from your beloved would be so much fun...
This morning I woke up in the middle of an unusually vivid dream where I was being escorted around New York by three representatives from a law firm, one of which was the Josh Lyman character on the West Wing, another was a partner at the firm, and the third was some guy I think was a co-worker of mine in a summer job I had a few years ago. Anyway, I kept asking "lifestyle" questions -- "do people have any other interests besides work?" "what if I had an appointment on a Saturday and wanted to keep it?" "is it important that I bring a pillow to the office for the nights I may have to sleep there?" -- and the partner kept giving me answers about how you come and work for the firm and the firm is your life, and the West Wing guy kept saying that it was mostly true but that the partner told him to embellish a little bit, because it's just all part of the game, and we walked across a highway overpass and then down a very narrow spiral staircase to a diner, where they introduced me to "the granddaughter of the commissioner of baseball," who was apparently, in the world of my dream, very famous and the subject of much media attention. But we could only say hello and grab a quick waffle (yes, a waffle -- maybe that means something!) because we had to get back to the office for the meeting about the asbestos. I don't know what else the meeting was about.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

To whoever found this site by searching for "Jeremy's Dog Mayo" -- WHAT??? What in the world are you looking for??
Here's my article in this week's law school paper about online grades, where you can see how I turned the column I wrote about how the system would fail before it turned out the system worked into something that sort of made sense, sort of.
An article in the Harvard Crimson yesterday was titled: "Committee Approves Porn Magazine: H Bomb will feature nude pictures of undergraduates" and got a bunch of press, and, as far as I can tell, has been pulled from their online archives this morning. I posted something about it on En Banc yesterday, quoting a small part of the article:

"The Committee on College Life (CCL) voted to approve a student-run magazine that will feature nude pictures of Harvard undergraduates... as an official Harvard publication.... In order to avoid liability, students will not be able to take nude pictures inside of Harvard buildings."

And saying that while my initial reaction was that this must be a joke, it appears not to be. I understand the whole free speech thing, and I'm not saying this should be illegal. But can anyone possibly make the argument that this is a good idea?

Anyway, I'm just recycling my En Banc post over here because I thought it was an interesting story, and I have nothing else coming to mind to write about this morning. I'm trying.

Later on today (when it gets online), I'll link to my law school newspaper article about online grades -- it looks a bunch like what I wrote on here over the weekend, except since when the grades actually came out for 1Ls on Tuesday, the system worked, the school did not blow up, and so my column, all about how it'll never actually work, was rendered utterly and completely irrelevant -- but I tried my best to salvage it. You'll see when I link to it. Not sure if I made it work, or I just made it seem like I wrote the article too soon. Oh well.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

One of my professors has been using pop-culture characters in his examples to teach us how the laws of agency work, like Bruce Wayne, and some Lord of the Rings hobbits, and Michael Eisner of Disney. I came up with one too.

Anyone who's taken corporations is welcome to play along and try to solve this one.

--> Janet Jackson hires out-of-work songstress (and seamstress) Sporty Spice to sew a costume for her performance at the Super Bowl. Sporty comes over to Jackson's house and takes her measurements; Janet gives Sporty the keys to her truck and tells her that she can do the sewing at Janet's private hideaway just down the road. On the way to the private hideaway, Sporty gets hungry and takes a detour to a sandwich shop. Since she's used to driving on the other side of the road, on the way to the sandwich shop, Sporty runs over James Brown. Oops. After Sporty gets the sandwich, she goes to the hideaway and sews a lovely dress for Janet. She drives back -- running over Glen Campbell on the way -- and shows Janet the dress, which has a super-special pouch that tears off, revealing one of her, uh, Golden Globes. Janet says that it looks great. She drives over to CBS headquarters -- running over Rick Springfield on the way -- and shows her costume to network president Les Moonves, who tells her she can employ anyone she wants to rip her costume off during the show, except for that rogue Justin Timberlake. He writes her a letter, on CBS stationary, that says she has permission to hire someone. Janet, who suffers from hearing loss due to a mysterious childhood accident involving her brother, a policeman's nightstick, and a turtle, thought Mr. Moonves told her not to wear Timberland boots. So she went over to Justin Timberlake's house, which was filled with soap suds due to a prank by Justin's friend Ashton Kutcher for his MTV show Punk'd, showed him the letter, and asked him to help her at the Super Bowl. The next day, they performed at the Super Bowl, he pulled off her costume, and Michael Jackson, who had never before seen that part of a woman's anatomy, was emotionally distressed and sued. So did all the people who got hit by Janet's truck. Who's liable?
I'm honored to find myself on The Score Bard's Periodic Table of Bloggers, although anyone who can figure out what my assigned periodic symbol stands for is smarter than I am. I mentioned the Score Bard's site a few weeks ago -- it's mostly baseball poetry, but crafted so well, done so gently, with such a light touch, that it's a real joy to read.
To the tune of the Burt Bacharach classic (and American Idol group-sing staple), "Do You Know the Way To San Jose?" And this probably came out a little mean, but rhyming is hard. I don't really mean it. Sorry.

"Do You Know That Gunner's GPA?"

Do you know that gunner's GPA?
I hope it's 2.0, or something low and not OK.
Do you know that gunner's GPA?
Why can't he just sit still, I hope he will, die a gruesome way.

Sure, the lectures can be boring
But they're worse when front-row gunner speaks
Every day, maybe twice, for thirteen weeks
Words turn into paragraphs he spews
With fancy words he doesn't know
And sprinkled with offensive views

Do you know that gunner's GPA?
I hope it's 2.0, or something low and not OK.
Do you know that gunner's GPA?
Why can't he just sit still, I hope he will, die a gruesome way.

Once or twice a week is fine, but
Seven times an hour is too much
Maybe one day he'll choke on his lunch
And he sounds so smug and self-absorbed
And there you sit and roll your eyes
You never thought you'd be so bored

Do you know that gunner's GPA?
I hope it's 2.0, or something low and not OK.
Do you know that gunner's GPA?
Why can't he just sit still, I hope he will, die a gruesome way.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Bad joke about grades:

"What did you get in Technology Law?"

"I got a C++."
As a service to the 1Ls here who got grades today and are aching to find out how other people did but don't want to ask, for fear they'll either (1) feel bad, (2) make someone else feel bad, or (3) be known as that guy (or girl) who keeps asking people about their grades -- if you send me a blank e-mail, I will send you back an e-mail with the subject line "someone else's grades" and make up three reasonably low marks that would probably make you feel better about whatever you got. :)

Monday, February 09, 2004

1Ls here get their grades tomorrow at noon, on the new Internet Grade Retrieval System (TM). To any HLS 1Ls who read this (and I know there's at least three of you, maybe more!), good luck. Five thoughts for 1Ls upon receiving their first law school grades:

1. Someone probably did worse. If not in all three classes, probably at least in one. And if not, then you have dozens of new friends, because you've prevented them from being that guy. But in most cases, really, as bad as you did, someone did worse. Someone who did well enough in college, and on their LSAT, and whose parents gave enough money to the school -- someone did worse. So don't worry about it.

2. Yes, maybe you're used to getting all A's and here you didn't. But you've gotten enough grades and taken enough tests and succeeded enough to know you can do this stuff. It's just some tests, it's not your whole self-worth. You post-grades is the same as you pre-grades, just as obnoxiously arrogant and impressed with yourself. Don't let a couple of bad grades change your whole perfect image of how brilliant you are.

3. Lots of people think these grades aren't measuring anything much, and professors can't possibly distinguish between an A-minus and a B-plus, and maybe they're right. At best, your grade is measuring how well you answered the specific questions your professor asked, and they could have asked other questions that you might have done better on, or on a different day you may have included three more of the key words on your professor's checklist, and gotten a higher grade. In any event, maybe you wrote a crappy answer. Maybe you didn't know the answer to the question the professor asked. Doesn't mean you didn't learn the subject, doesn't mean you're not smart, and, good heavens, it doesn't mean your parents won't love you anymore.

4. I know two people's grades. Two people know mine. Not counting family. And any potential employer who bothered to look -- and I don't think they all did. But still, the number of people who are going to know these things is pretty small. Unless you have a weblog and do something stupid like post your grades and proceed to get pelted with raw eggs by your classmates, no one will ever know. Heck, lie to your friends. Who'll ever find out? They're just a couple of letters. WIth mathematical symbols next to some of them. Does any of this really matter?

5. You're still as employable as you were before, basically. Certainly here, everyone gets a job. And at fourth-tier law schools like Stanford, no one gets a job anyway, no matter what grades you have, so you haven't hurt yourself with the 3 C's anyway. Yeah, maybe you won't get the Supreme Court clerkship. But come on, you weren't going to get that anyway, and a couple of years from now when the Supreme Court screws up another election no one'll want to be around those justices anyway.

Once more, good luck!