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.

Monday, September 08, 2003

The standard first day of class speech:

[I've done a rewrite of this, that's about four days North on the weblog. So if you've been linked to here, just scroll up and you'll find it. And if you're just reading down from the top, you can pretty safely scroll past without missing anything. I'll keep it up rather than deleting it, for no reason I can articulate but just because.]

I'm professor Fringledingle, and this is Space Law. If you're not signed up for this class, see me after class and I'll put your name on a sheet of paper I will intend to bring to the registrar, but instead I will accidentally drop it down the sewer grate, forget all about it, and you won't know anything until the end of the semester when you don't get a grade for the class and it's too late to do anything about it. If your schedule doesn't say Space Law, and you're expecting a different class, you may be in the wrong room, here at the wrong time, or a combination of the two. What I want to do this morning is first get all of the procedural stuff out of the way, talk about how the class will operate and a few other notes. Then I want to give a very brief introduction to Space Law. And then I want to jump right into the first assignment, which I'm sure you've all read even though the bookstore hasn't ordered the casebooks yet.

First, procedural stuff. This class meets on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 in the morning until 10:30, here in Loch Ness Hall, room 74. I expect you all to be here on time, ready to learn; I will be here on time, ready to teach. Sometimes I'll do a lot of lecturing, sometimes I'll call on students, sometimes I'll sleep through my alarm -- it depends on the topic we're up to. There are some topics that are particularly dense that I'll just have to speed through at a pace unlikely to make any of you learn it, or really accomplish much at all. Other topics are less doctrinal and more public policy-oriented. For those, I'll bring in my new mp3 player and open up the floor for discussion while I check out the new John Mayer album. Since you won't be graded on your class participation, there's no real need for me to listen to anything you have to say anyway. There are a few topics that are so dismal that I will cancel class at the last minute and expect you to learn them on your own. I may test on them -- since it's not like I have to actually write out answers to my own test questions -- but, because the material sucks so bad, I won't actually talk about them. Attendance is absolutely mandatory, but don't bother sending me an e-mail or calling my office if you're not going to be here. I don't care why you're not here, I don't really care if you are here, and I won't take attendance. It just makes me feel bad to see empty seats. The final exam will be hard, and hardly read. Your grade will be based on whether or not saying your name makes me feel happy or sad, usually just based on the combination of letters. Hard "K" sounds happen to make me happy. Soft "C" sounds do not. Take that as you will. A few times during the semester, I will print out a new syllabus that is identical to the old one, but I will insist there's something different about it. Ignore my ramblings. I will also occasionally provide handouts, that I will make about three-quarters of the copies I need and usually touch them when they're still hot so the ink smears. I plan on using the overhead projector a bit, but I will make sure not to plug it in so that I can spend 20 minutes at the beginning of class futzing around with it. On the rare occasion I have a video to show, there is no reason to expect I will actually get it to play, and even if I can there's really no way it'll be the right video.

I think that's enough on procedure. Let's move to an overview of Space Law. Space Law is one of the most interesting and rapidly-changing areas of the law, and is where I've chosen to focus all of my research over the past three decades. It used to be this that law school didn't have a course in Space Law. Then I wrote a casebook, and all of a sudden, whoda thunk it? Space Law is largely common law, derived from the federal government, from states, and from local precedent. I'm going to say the word jurisdiction just so you have it in your notes. Buttermilk is also a fun word for your notes. And Plinko. Plinko's a fun word to say. The casebook for the class is "Space Law." I wrote it. It's now in its fifteenth edition. I'll be assigning random pages throughout it, usually corresponding to nothing in particular. Version 8 of the syllabus, which you should all have, goes into more detail.

And now, let's start. I'm thinking of a question. Mr. Adams -- is that what your nametag says? Oh -- Ms. Adams. Gotcha. Ms. Adams, I'm thinking of a question. What's the answer?