Monday, July 22, 2013

An example of serendipitous westlaw searching.  I was looking for the well-known principle of contract law that parol evidence is inasmissible where the agreement contains a merger or integration clause.  So I searched for "merger /s parole" - which of course is wrong, because it is the parol evidence rule, not the parole evidence rule.

Luckily, there is a case discussing the parol evidence rule in the context of parole.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

I'm back?

I'm going to start using this space again to write down some of my thoughts on law, such as they are.  I don't think I will write more than weekly, because I don't really have the time.  But let's try this out again and see what happens.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Naples 45

An excellent pizzeria for slices on Park Avenue and 45th. But forget all the flavored pizzas - the only thing worth eating is the margherita. Dough made with flour, water and salt, and good fresh cheese and tomatoes. $2.50, but $1.50 after 2 p.m.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

An Annoucement!

I have become sick of blogger. The archives don't work. The comments aren't working anymore (not blogger's fault). It is occasionally slow. They gave me a great opportunity, I admit, but a better one has come up . So I'm making a biggish change.

It is evident that this change will reveal where I go to school. But I decided a week or so ago that this didn't really bother me; what I didn't want was my name being googleable, and this I think I can prevent. So head on over to my new digs at

Waddling Thunder, mach 2.

Or for those of you changing links,

Hope to see you there. I'll hold out this page as long as I can, to make sure people find me over there.

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

I was going to haran. . . , i mean favour you with my thoughts on Eugene Volokh's recent article on slippery slopes. But I see that Gtexts has done precisely the same thing today, so I'll leave my (different) thoughts for another time.

Hey, I'm employed!

I haven't accepted the offer yet, but only because the fellow wouldn't take yes for an answer. Sleep on it, he says. OK

anyway, I think I can say, without sacrificing any anonymity, that the position is with a part of the United States Department of Justice Criminal Division that deals with violent crime, allying both an interesting policy wing plus a hard core group of prosecutors.

Much better then the job I turned down, which I will reveal now involved administering a combination of internal USDOJ affirmative action and employment disputes.

Now to accept, and get them to fax some papers getting me my summer funding.
I'm working (somewhat by compulsion) at our school's Public Interest Auction. Yesterday I went to the explanatory meeting, where we were told how the silent auction worked so that we could do our jobs (I'm a cashier, apparently).

What was funny, however, is that the only discussion among the cashiers afterwards concerned the economic ramifications of a blind silent auction versus one in which you can see the previous bids. That alone should tell you what kind of people go to this school.

And incidentally, I think an open auction is better.

Monday, April 07, 2003

We may (and I repeat, may) be witnessing the final nail in the coffin of the mainline war opponents, as news seems to have surfaced of real chemical weapons finds. That would finish off the whole "we don't believe Saddam has anything/the inspectors looked, didn't they?" line of silliness. We'll see.

I admit that the much more sensible "wasn't there a more subtle way to do this?" argument hasn't been answered, and won't be definitively for years.

Sunday, April 06, 2003

Who Stole the Tarts? has a series of excellent posts, really worth reading. The three I mean specifically are two covering courses selection, which I think make some great points, and the newest post about rankings, and what one can do with them.

I'm just going to post my own thoughts about rankings, now that I have a moment. I think Alice is exactly right to say that rankings give the pre-law student some interesting data to fiddle around with. I further agree that in most circumstances, you ought to create your own subjective ranking based on points important to you; location and price for example.

However, I somewhat disagree with one point Alice makes, regarding the important of a speciality field in making a decision. And, yes, I know that I am picking the tiniest of nits. Humour me.

She speaks, I'm sure, from more experience, but it seems to me that the starting point for any discussion of this subject really has to be the realization that law school is actually a glorified undergraduate program. Indeed, in the rest of the world, people who become our colleagues internationally do nothing but an undergraduate program, and I don't believe that our three year effort is so much more advanced that the entire nature of the endeavor is changed. I don't doubt that we're all stronger and far more seasoned students then the average European undergraduate, capable of assimilating more stuff and faster. But the way the work is done, reliant on homework, many classes, and exams is based on a strictly undergrad paradigm.

Having said that, I think that the strength or lack thereof of a specialty area within the law school you pick should have very little to do with which school you pick, barring extraordinary circumstances. First, I find it difficult to believe anyone really understands what they absolutely want to do when they get to law school. Maybe a couple of people might know, say, they absolutely have to be tax lawyers, but otherwise I think the level of ignorance about the law by laymen makes it impossible to make any sort of decision before getting through at least a year. Secondly, the undergrad nature of school means that many of the courses we take are standard. Sure, you get a certain amount of specialization, but in honesty what you're getting in law school is a general, terribly unuseful education.

In that context, I think its a mistake to put aside a putatively stronger school for a weaker one that happens to be some sort of juggernaut in a small subject area. I don't think, for example, you should eschew three years in the dank terror of New Haven (a cheap shot, I know) just because some other school is supposedly strong in the amorphous subject of "international law". Specialties could be something you use to seperate schools that come evenly in all your other rankings, I agree, but they should really be at the bottom of the list.

Friday, April 04, 2003

This filthy article from the British Independent argues that the rescue of Jessica Lynch demonstrates the implicit racism of America,where life is graded on a hierarchy of importance ranging from blonde to black. Why, the article moans, weren't Jessica's racially diverse colleagues rescued? Well, she answers herself, even if America didn't make extra efforts to save this made for TV movie of a girl, it was her very blondness that marked her out as somewhat important, even to the Iraqis.

I might note that perhaps one reason her colleagues weren't saved is because they had been killed. Or perhaps we couldn't find them, since we went to a hospital, and only the wounded happen to be there. But why deal in logic when you can make an argument like the above? It fulfills all the requirements of a good anti-american argument; slim and fleeting accusations of racism, a reference to American Indians and blacks and lynch mobs, a mocking of justifiable american pleasure (at her recovery), and even an implicit mockery of someone who clearly doesn't fit the requirements of university elitism that the author I'm sure is obsessed with. Bravo.

Thursday, April 03, 2003

I'm not sure if anyone has commented on this before, but there seems to be an amazing congruence between law bloggers and science fiction. I, for one, am both a sci-fi and fantasy buff. Gtexts currently has a review of Robert Jordan's newest unleashment. Janeway is reading Dune:Chapterhouse. JCA, I know from personal experience, is a Tolkienite at least (I won't make any guesses as to what else she likes). Volokh has written, I think, on Tolkien at least once. JMB is also clearly a fan.

I'm sure I'm missing someone, or many someones, but I'm pressed for time. I'm going to the single most irritating class in the history of man, which I'll blog tommorrow, perhaps.

EDIT: Jeff Cooper mentions in my comments (which don't seem to work properly) that he likes several fantasy authors. In reading the blogs tonight, I also noticed that Attempted Survival seems to be a fan of the Lord of the Rings movie as well.
Harvard Law School announces that Elena Kagan will be the new dean. Interesting.
Excerpt from a conversation at a law firm reception

Young Looking Lawyer : Yeah, so then I clerked for some judges for a couple of years, and then thought I should make a little money

Waddling Thunder, interest piqued: Oh, you clerked? and who did you clerk for (in WT's best patronizing voice, I'm sure)

YLL: Breyer.

WT, chastened: Oh.

I hate when people use false modesty against me. I invented false modesty.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

In criminal procedure, we've been working on the idea of defining a "search". For the uninitiated, the significance is that if something is a constitutionally defined search, then that means the police must procure a warrant before doing so. If not, they can do so at just about random.

The distinction between what is a search and what is not is very thin. Courts have held, for example, that a wiretap is definitely a search. However, flying in a plane with a telescopic lens and taking pictures of (say) a marijuana plant is not. So what is the rule?

Well there are a lot of different potential rules. The way I've rationalized it for myself at the moment is to think of something I've decided to call the "invisible omnipotent man", a hypothetical third party with limitless eyesight, imperviousness to gravity, and lightning speed. The idea, therefore, is that the police are welcome to search anything without a warrant so long as the Invisible Omnipotent Man could see it. So, if you're hiding in a phonebooth and writing on a pad, I would argue that the police using a telescope to see what's on the pad isn't a search under our current law, because the IOM could see it if he was standing outside. However, the IOM couldn't hear the conversation inside the booth. Therefore, a wiretap is a search.

Yes, I realize there are lots of problems with this setup. One of the most obvious is that a court might well find the use of a too advanced technology to be a search. So maybe it's the Invisible Almost Omnipotent Man. But this is still helping me make sense of a very odd series of cases.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

After much fiddling with my schedule, I've arrived at something I'm happy to bid on for next year. (and no, I haven't been working for five straight hours!). Though the final deadline for deciding is down the line, we have to bid for our mainline courses very soon, which determines everything else, of course.

So, I will be bidding for the following

Semester 1

Constitutional Law from Super-Socratic but only moderately famous "Iron Lady". As long as I'm here, why not tackle one old school monstrosity?

Corporations from an apparently very good MBA/JD.

A very short course in "accounting for lawyers", pass/fail.

A small seminar from the aforementioned FBP.

Our bizarre one course middle term

Food and Drug Law, both as an administrative law intro as well as in preparation for my eventual (and Quixotic) pro bono litigation against the FDA to legalize unpasteurized cheese aged less then 60 days. Yes, I'm serious. My pseudo-libertarianism is strongest where the government approaches either my mouth or wallet. I'm strictly a republican otherwise.

Semester 2

The apparently exorbitantly difficult Federal Courts ("B"), from a very popular but somewhat unknown (to me) prof.

Taxation, from an Unknown Quantity (aka, visiting prof)

Legal History Seminar, from a very nice gentleman who quite obviously suffers from the eroneous impression that he is an Oxford Don.

I'm not entirely happy with all this. I want to take Con Law from the famous professor, but it messes up the rest of my schedule. I want to kill my ethics requirement off, but that also doesn't work. I'd like to take tax with the best tax prof, but I also can't see a way to finagle him. I doubt my friends are going to join me in any of these choices. But if I get these courses, I think I have a comfortable mix of interesting stuff, interesting profs, and close in work with them. And the schedule gives me three nasty days, but Thursday and Friday off for both semesters, as far as I can tell. This is very good. I like big chunks of work time.

Oh, and those of you who go here and know where I go. I wonder how many of the people above you can name?

I have been sitting here for an hour trying to figure out what to do about my courses for next year. Every configuration I come up with has some sort of terrible weakness which is a deal breaker. Roughly speaking, I've decided the following short list comprises my priorities

1. Good professors
2. Opportunity to work with good professors in small groups
3. Interesting subject matter
4. Not overloading myself
5. Opportunity to keep study group friends around
6. Comfortable Schedule

The problem currently is that #1, which involves taking a course from Famous Con Law professor, involves giving up my chance for #2 schedule wise, which involves taking a seminar with Famous Blogging Personality. It does however open up space for priority #3, in that it means my second semester is open for a wide range of history courses. Priority #5, however, also clashes with #2 (but not #1), because my friends want to take the course from the FCL, but not necessarily from the FBP. But on the other hand, I can find new and interesting people to study with, surely.

All this is further complicated by the fact that I might not get what I want in the lottery, though this is not too likely. More later when I decide what I'm going to do with this.

Monday, March 31, 2003

A quick note on the war, which I think is going perfectly well.

There has been some fear from the ever timorous media that the Iraqis are going to reduce us to quivering blobs of desert coloured jelly by virtue of their amazing new tactic, suicide bombing. There is a tiny bit of truth to that, if only because it seems to be the only way the Iraqis can manage to kill more then one American per casaulty on their end.

But actually, I think the reason for the recent moves in the direction of suicide bombings and fake surrenders, etc, is a relatively subtle plan on the part of the Iraqi leadership to make it impossible for their rank and file to safely surrender. The theory, in my world, is this: "We can stop those idiots from surrendering in two ways. One is to shoot them if they try. That didn't work. So let's try making the Americans potentially shoot them if they try".

I don't think this is likely to work either. But they're desperate, so it's worth a go, I suppose.
Hmm, indeed. We've just been given our course selection packets, and before I noticed anything else, I noticed a very significant person in the blogging community is teaching here next year. I won't blatantly say who, as it will totally destroy even my putative anonymity, but I think a course will have to be shoehorned in.
The Washington Post online magazine has this article on fatness in the modern world. This is kind of a pet peeve of mine, being someone who lost a substantial (though not from as an extreme position as the people in the article) amount of weight over the past few years.

For me the key was leaving the United States and acquiring friends who were obsessed with good food, which lowered any need I had for giant vats of whatever it is I ate before. Obviously, given the impossibility of this solution for most people, I really don't know what is to be done. But something had better be.

Sunday, March 30, 2003

I'm back from spring break, to some less then happy news; the law firm I was waiting for has decided to offer their job to another. Ah, well. No matter. I'll have ye olde bevy of offers next year, no doubt.

What this means, therefore, is that I'm waiting for the four government positions I have recently interviewed with to produce some sort of response. I really expect them to do so this week. I need hardly say that it will be a blessed relief to finish with this situation. I've been on the job since December, though I don't regret the effort. I collected a heck of a lot of experience, as I've said below.

In other news, my sister faces a torrid week of what we suspect will be a series of very hard to take rejections from college. After hearing of one such setback on Saturday, she told me that she felt like a "Big Mac rejected by a hungry fat man". Indeed. Thankfully, my ever wonderful alma mater has already favoured her with an offer, so she can always go there. It didn't hurt me any.

Anyway, another week, and we're within two months of the end of 1L. 2 months!


Friday, March 28, 2003

As JD2Breports, Brian Leiter has released his 2003-2004 rankings, or at least part of them. To be fair, they're not comprehensive rankings, in that they are only a survey of people he thinks know how good the faculties are at good law schools. However, Leiter has also done some great work (available in the 2000-2002 archives) concerning academic placement rates, etc. So this is only a new snippet of info, which I think is useful in that it counteracts at least poor old University of Chicago's consistently low (for its reputation) rating in the ridiculous USNEWS rankings. Otherwise, I don't think what he has just released is a great improvement on what he had, but still. New figures are always useful to nerds such as myself.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Another side effect to vacation is that I get to watch cable TV, which I obviously don't have at school. My current obsession, besides the Food Network (Mario Batali is a great chef, but he seems to have misconstrued the stricture that olive oil is a good fat to mean that he should probably put three liters of it on everything) is a deer hunting trial on Court TV. The question, legally, is whether a person who shot another while hunting with a muzzle loader was reckless (in which case he goes merrily off to jail) or negligent, in which case he'll go free and someone will eventually sue him in civil court. My actual interest in the case mostly revolves around the fact that I simply don't understand how the fellow managed to kill anyone at all with a musket. It didn't really work in the 18th century; I'm stunned he managed it now.

I also saw cheap copies of some of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, which I feel obligated to eventually read. The only problem is that I really resent having to devote several days of my reading time to slogging through some 6000 pages of Jordan's probably turgid megolomania. I mean, even Tolkien the Huge managed to save the world, send off the Elves, and feed an inummerable number of hobbits in a mere thousand pages. What could Jordan possibly be telling us?

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

I'm just getting ready to go to my second interview of the week. The one yesterday, in downtown Washington, was quite positive, and they even promise reasonably quick action.

There is a definite difference in government and law firm interviews, of course. Especially this year, when the government is really not risking anything by hiring you for free. The effort yesterday, for example, took precisely half an hour. I was home in time for a late lunch. We'll see how this one today goes, but it's a lot better then a telephone interview anyway.

The great thing about all these interviews is that I'm gathering the experience in interviewing that I simply missed by not doing anything productive up till now. People don't really ask very probing questions when you're applying to be a clerk at a college bookstore for 7 bucks an hour, let me assure you.

I'll close with a quick thank you to the Volokh Conspiracy's namesake, Eugene Volokh, who recommended through his blog Neal Stephenson's book Cryptonomicon, which I read last week. It is indeed a fascinating story, perhaps a touch overlong, but nonetheless a great read. I would only note further that a whole lot of the included crytographic math went entirely over my head, despite an effort to understand it, and that I thought the World War II era portion of the book was much superior to the modern day techno thriller whatever Stephenson's efforts to tie it all together. But these are only niggles, and I've since bought and read the author's Snow Crash as well, in addition to starting in on a batch of long neglected P.G Wodehouse. Holidays are amusing things, occasionally.

Monday, March 24, 2003

Who Stole the Tarts mentioned a little while ago the kinds of things 1L's thinks are cool, but which no one else thinks is even vaguely interesting. I had a moment like this yesterday, when it temporarily occurred to me that I should make a T-shirt that said "future transaction cost".

I've now disuaded myself of the idea.

Friday, March 21, 2003

Man... I'm feeling rather more waddle then thunder today; just kind of tired for some reason. Of course, conveniently enough, it's spring break. So I'm back off to Washington for a week.

My little risk in turning down that job last week seems to at least be close to paying off. Though I haven't heard anything from the actual law firm I'm waiting for, I have secured three more interviews with some very interesting divisions of the DOJ for this coming week. That'll give me four DOJ positions with decisions oustanding, plus the firm, which gives me a lot of confidence. But things could still go wrong.

Anyway, I'll try to be safe on my way back home,and I'll blog occasionally from there. Keep your fingers crossed,etc, for our troops.
Obviously, I'm up and watching the war again. As I said yesterday, the news seems good if unclear. The British left yesterday moved quickly to mock the American miss of Saddam Hussein, but I'm not convinced we missed. Indeed, I'm pretty sure that at worst, we've sent him into a bunker so deep his own people don't know where he is. Let's hope.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Clearly, as I said yesterday, something odd is going on. We must have some kind of info that isn't being released, and I rather suspect it's something like the fact that they have info about surrenders or something.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Here we go. Pray for everyone involved, Iraqi and American, if that's your deal. Except for Hussein, of course.

Oh, also, I've thought for a while that this "shock and awe" situation was misinformation. I think the military has something up its sleeve.
I'm sitting here doing research for my assistant position, waiting for the war to begin. Tommorrow the anti-war people are going to be doing some sort of protest throughout the university, which they're welcome to do, of course. We won't be in class at the requisite time, so I guess we won't see the supposed walkout, though maybe our friendly in class zealots will stage something early for our benefit. Anyway, I would worry if there were no protests on the eve of a war; if 280,000,000 people agree on such a big issue, you know there's something wrong.

A quick post also on the law review preview session held last night.

It was mostly a wasted hour. We did get very nice ice cream, supposedly to remind us of the scads of free food the editors get. They also mentioned the time commitment; an apparently "manageable" average of 26 hours a week, spread across twenties days out of every month. Among the possible assigments they mentioned was a small book review, to be finished in a day. I'm going to guess people take liberties in terms of reading the whole book. Either that or they're all equipped with super fast legal reading goggles.

Though details on the competition were not forthcoming, they did mention a week of full days on it was probably the minimum amount of work necessary. As one editor put it in a fit of unintended humour, "only a few people stayed up all week".

Somewhat on a contraversial subject, I noticed before the event the law reviewers fanning out to chat briefly with those in the audience who happened to be of various types of underrepresented minorities, for whom the review saves a number of spots. Now, I begrudge no one this kind of thing, largely (if I'm honest with myself) because I've been lucky enough not to ever have been in the position of being slighted. But I must wonder; what possible kind of discrimination could any of these folks suffer, given that they are at this of all law schools, and given that the review competition is marked entirely, completely, fanatically blindly?

If I was in that situation I'd feel an incredibly hot anger at being patronized. How dare they assume I can't do these tasks as well? It's like my interview with the DOJ position I was offered and turned down, when the interviewer kept asking how my foreign background had subjected me to discrimination. I don't think he liked my answer (it hasn't) all that much, but I'm not give people a non-existent sob story.

Anyway, the tip session for the competition is sometime in the future. Should be interesting.
I'm going to try to explain my theory of yesterday, but hopefully without as much hyperbole this time. I think it's an important point.

People might try to denigrate the speech of Bush in relation to Blair. Look, they might say, at how eloquent Blair was, how persuasive, how brave in the face of yelling and rustling, and the implied hisses of parliament. All true.

But Bush and Blair are different things. Blair is the prime minister of his country; the first among equals. His job is to descend occasionally into the fray of his parliament and to fight it out. And that he did.

But Bush is not a prime minister. Indeed, his position comes to us from a long history of kingship and monarchy, starting with anthropological roots, if you will, in the tribal setting. and the way it developed was that chief of the tribe, whom we later called the King, had two main responsibilities. The first was to administer law and to provide justice, and that developed into a wide range of responsibilities. It's no surprise then, that the president today is the final fount of justice through his pardon power, and controls the Attorney General et al.

The second thing the King/tribal chief did was handle wars. And when war came upon his people, he would take upon himself the aspect of his society's warlord. We can see historically that even into the 18th century, Kings still felt it necessary to lead their troops to battle themselves, personally. Thankfully most of them had figured out that they ought to bring some generals along too, but it was a rare thing for the monarch to simply make no effort at all. And what people wanted from these king people was a clear statement of why the monarch was going to war, and a reassurance that victory was likely to be theirs. So when you look at a lot of declarations of war in the early modern period and before, that's what you get. And that's what we got from President Bush.

So that's the difference in content of the speeches. One (Bush) was trying to convince people of his leadership; he had made a decision, and now was telling us. Blair was trying to convince a rancorous legislature. They're different things, and require different efforts.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

I've just finished listening to the entirety of Prime Minister Blair's speech today to Parliament.

I had a very pompous post ready, contrasting the style of Blair to that of Bush, showing how the President gave a speech I would classify as imperial, whereas Blair made a more persuasive effort. Trust me, it was all very eloquent, very highbrow. It also made me sound like I have a sceptre rammed up my *!?!.

So all I'll say is that Blair delivered a true blockbuster of a speech. It pains me terribly to say anything nice of a socialist (as he says of himself), but it was really great. It was persuasive (as Bush's neither was nor was meant to be), dramatic, and powerful. I was really impressed, and there is little like the Mother of Parliaments for political theatre anyway.

Of course, a speech of Blair's can't have the tremendous implicit power of Bush's speech. When Bush raises a finger, the world shakes, and Blair hasn't the oomph. But, to cannibalize a cricket expression, he hit a boundary. Magnificent.

I just got a very funny email from the Dean of our school. Apparently terrified that we might become overwrought at the prospect of war, the school is providing succor via doughnut for the duration. Also, they suggest psychological counseling if the fried delicacies don't work.

Seriously, what kind of pansies have we become as a nation if a piddly war like this shakes us up? People have braved ten thousand times worse, and if you feel like faltering, think of the poor people in Iraq who have been so abused by their dictator. Buck up people. It's only war. It's happened thousands of times before. It'll happen thousands again.

EDIT: In response to a comment, by all means what I'm saying doesn't apply to folks who have loved ones serving. They're entitled to whatever angst they experience, since they're actually making a sacrifice. I just find it difficult to take when those of us who are completely insulated from threat supposedly can't deal with it all. In a war when so many of us are being asked to do nothing, the least we can contribute is steadfast unemotional support. That's all I mean.
Here is an excellent description of my ambivalent feelings towards France, a combination of disdain for their politics and admiration for their culture, from an apparent fellow traveller at the National Review.
As others have posted as well, Bill Clinton unequivocally backs US action in todays Guardian. Not that I personally care what that disaster of a showman thinks, but apparently some people do.

Monday, March 17, 2003

I saw this bon mot of Jacques Chirac on Andrew Sullivan's blog, and didn't exactly believe it, but there it is quoted on cnn. Chirac apparently believes that Hussein "loves his people".

Now, I'm sure Chirac isn't quite that stupid. So he's obviously saying it in the context of diplomacy. But as a stattement, it is many multiples dumber then anything Bush has ever said or mis-said.
I can't find the comment button on liable, so I'll simply post this here.

Essentially, the blogger there asks why the law students blogosphere (and also the prep books) seem to be so heavily biased towards more national schools. On the prep books, I think her answer is right; the people who are obsessive enough to go and buy all these things tend to apply to the schools thought to be national.

As for the blogs et al, I don't really know. Perhaps the folks at the more regional schools are working harder. I would hope so, given my not terribly trying experience. But I will point both liable and anyone else interested over to nontradlaw, which despite a sometimes sanctimonious distrust of any advice save their own seems to offer a good community for those interested in schools outside the ones constantly discussed elsewhere. That's the only resource I really know of, though.
And just to put aside the accusation of parochialism, I realize that this is also a critical week because the war is going to begin. I was referring below to my own little world here.

Sunday, March 16, 2003

So, another week, another dollar.

This should be quite a critical week in deciding if my little gamble with jobs is going to work, or whether I'm going to splat directly on my face. For now, I'm going to feign confidence, but I'll keep the blog up to date on that issue.

Also upcoming is the Law Review's info session, when they let us know exactly how awful the selection competition is. I'm not even sure there's any way to couch it to make it sound palatable, but I'll be there nonetheless.

So those are the two potentially interesting events of this week. Let's see how it all shakes out.

Saturday, March 15, 2003

As a result of a prodigous shove from the excellent JD2B, Waddling Thunder paunched its way to a record 200 hits yesterday. Thank you!

Thursday, March 13, 2003

There is nothing fun, glamorous, or amusing about BIGLAW interviews. Nothing.

I arrived, fortuitously, on time. Fortuitously, I say, because at 8:45 I was stuck very precisely on the Key Bridge, over the Potomac River. As those of you who know the area will realize, the Key Bridge is tragically not anywhere near where DC lawyers tend to have their offices. So I left my father’s car and took off at a dead sprint towards Rosslyn Metro station, where fate smiled on me and I caught the orange line just as I got to the station. After resuming my sprint when I got off the train in DC, my days of walking around the city last summer came in handy, as I found the office in relatively short order. So there I was, at 8:59, huffing up a storm.

I gave myself the minute to calm down, combed what’s left of my southerly migrating hair, and marched in. And thus the combat began.

From 9am to 3:30, I fended off and tried to answer every question you can imagine a firm might ask. I listened to a soliloquy about professional responsibility. I asked putatively interesting questions. I oozed as much enthusiasm as I could manage, limited only by the fact that too much of my form of enthusiasm tends to come off as sarcasm. I chatted up someone about elite little league baseball. I assured them over and over again that I wasn’t worried about their lack of summer parties, mandatory or otherwise, and wouldn’t be put off by the prestige hogs who denigrated the firm for being small. I gave my well thought out spiel about the kind of law they practice. I nodded encouragingly when prompted, and mentioned how highly my connection to the firm had spoken of the place. It was clearly my best interview performance, purely on an objective level, so far.

Was it enough? I haven’t the foggiest. At the end I was drained in a way only an introvert forced to interact all day can be. The one good thing is that I know who my competition is, though, because they let it slip; it’s a student at a very good top ten school. But I’m enough of a pompous ass to think that if I convinced them of my sincerity, they’ll at least give me a shot. I hope so, anyway.
My interview post is still pending. However;

I have (politely) declined the offer I received from the DOJ last week. I feel awful, and torn. Have I just rejected my only job offer of the summer?

But, well. I don't do drugs. Or jump out of planes. Or even snowboard. If I can't take puny risks with my summer jobs, then what really am I good for? The interview with the firm made them so sound good, as did my interview with another office of the DOJ afterwards, that I felt this job I turned down suffered in comparison. And it wasn't fair to string them along any further.

Hope I did the right thing.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Whew! I'm back from my interview, which was exhausting. I don't know whether I got the job or not, obviously, but I think I did pretty well. It's just a question of who else they've picked to interview.

But since I'm very busy now (catching up for not being here the last few days) I'll just post quickly on another topic entirely. My mother recently returned from a trip to France. She brought back some ready made crepes, very evidently the kind French mothers give their two year olds when they haven't had time to go to the patissier (as evidenced by the bewildered looking kangaroo plastered on the sachet). The price is affixed right next to the out of place marsupial; one euro twenty, for eight crepes.

So far so good.

The problem is that these crepes taste better then every single baked good I've had since the last time I was in France. And I eat a lot of baked goods; doughnuts, cakes, beignets, banana breads, muffins, sweet bagels, pancakes, waffles (technically not baked, yes), british style puddings (boiled, but its the same idea), twinkies, ho ho's, brownies, blondies, swiss rolls, and others. I eat them at fancy bakeries and from the supermarket. These crappy fifteenth tier french snack crepes were better then every single one, and as good as most of them combined. What's the problem here? do people forget how to bake at the borders of America?

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Greengourd posts this article on the "epidemic" of early rising.

If I have one goal in my life, it is to avoid complicating it so much that this kind of 18 hour mad dash to and fro becomes my existence. I don't want a commute (other then a pleasant walk), I don't want to iron white chorus shirts for mad overcommitted children, and I don't want to wake up at 5 am every morning.

I am absolutely terrified of looking around in twenty years and finding myself entranced so completely by law's "golden handcuffs" that I have no other thought then to keep working to make sure that little Jerome can go to the snazzy preschool. Someone please shoot me if that happens.

Monday, March 10, 2003

I'll be flying down to Washington tommorrow for an interview with a firm on Wednesday. I just got my schedule for the thing today; I'm meeting with nine (count 'em) different people. At least I get a nice lunch out of it, and a free trip home for a day.

so I'm going to spend of the night and tommorrow preparing my spiel for these folks. As my friend who works for them tells me, convey enthusiasm and you'll be fine.

Wish me luck!

Jeremy, over at Harvard, chimes in on the raging legal writing debate. I mostly agree with him, except that I would point out that some of us (like me) really do care very little about whether or not the briefs and whatnot are actually good. I'm very easily irritated, and nothing irritates me more then the preposterous babying of obstensible adults (yes, yes. If I was really all that adult I would do a good job. Thanks).

But then, I see this post over at another1l, a beneficary of Chicago's supposedly excellent Bigelow program. Of course, he's complaining about too little babying, so I guess our superiors can never win. I still think I would prefer Chicago's version, though.

Riotously funny proof (as if anyone needed it) that world governmental opposition to war is grounded not in some solicitous concern for Iraqis but the old game of great power politics. The Russians, of the giant incredibly bloody (and in my mind perfectly okay) war in Chechnya are worried about destruction and civilians in Iraq. That's like the pot calling the clafouti black.
I noticed that over the weekend huge groups of admitted students were being herded around campus. This gives me a perfect opportunity to address what I think such a visit gives you an opportunity to do.

When it got down to decision time last year, I had two schools left on the table, having narrowed down the field to the place I am now and the west coast romantic option. It seemed to me that I had to see them both before I sunk so much money into the decision, so I invested the time and cash to fly in from England for the week. The sum total of what I was able to find out was the following; you absolutely needed a car at the romantic Californian place, which I didn't want. This place here was neither stressful nor unfriendly, while the town was excellent if expensive.

I know that doesn't sound like much, but I don't see what more you can find out from visits. If you're in the middle of doing them now, don't go to the school trying to determine if one place is more likely to get you a job then the other, especially if the schools are close in quality. No one is going to tell you the truth. Also don't try to figure out if the teaching is somehow "better". If the school has a mock class for you, be assured they've unleashed the best and most dynamic teacher they have. Don't ask your fellow admitees their
LSAT score. Don't show up in a suit, or get really drunk and hit on anything that moves. People remember the jackasses from admit weekend, because as a lot of bloggers have pointed out before, law school is high school for adults.

Just try to put some simple, easily deteminable questions in your head that you think might make a difference, and get them answered. Heck, it worked for me, at least.

If you're linking from JD2B, the relevant post is just below this one.

Saturday, March 08, 2003

Both SuaSponte and Janeway have recently been writing about their legal writing classes. JD2B reports that another law blogger, Jewish Buddha, has also broached the subject. I'll join in.

The final copy of my brief is due sometime this next week, which is somewhat inconvenient because I'm flying to Washington for an interview. So I'm just about to go to the library to deal with it now. But I just don't see why I should make any serious effort on it. To look at it superficially, it isn't graded. There's no incentive to win the argument, and I already know how to bluebook through my journal work. Sure, I'd like to improve my legal writing, but the comments I get back are so abysmal I can't be bothered. My favorite from this week was "You have to look beyond the third circuit!", which was problematic only in that I haven't cited a single 3rd circuit case anywhere in the brief. I also enjoyed the teacher's opinion that I'm missing key cases, which I admit, but also note that I'm missing them because I decided not to argue the issue they address. (this is a fun exercise, so I'm arguing the far more interesting minor issues).

On top of which the schedule includes time for all sorts of completely preposterous exercises, which take up far more of my time then I care to surrender. A few weeks ago, for example, the entire thing descended into farce when we were assigned to give two minutes speeches in front of the class, to make us more comfortable with public speaking. The problem with this assignment, of course, is that I've done it before; in sixth grade. Not to mention that a significant portion of the section came to law school after professional experience, making the concept of arguing a case in front of a few "judges" for a paltry fifteen minutes something less then terrifying.

Thankfully, it'll all be over relatively soon. I can't wait.

Thursday, March 06, 2003

When it rains it pours

Of course, in the wake of my job offer from the DOJ comes an offer to flyback to Washington with a firm I'm very interested in. (they practice a type of law that I at least have a very strong ideological connection to. It remains to be seen whether I would be good at it). So now the juggling begins. I need to figure out how much time I can tease out from the DOJ while I interview with these folks in DC. I am, of course, very risk averse, so I don't know if I would reject the DOJ job to wait and see if I get the firm. But it's worth the effort.

I feel kind of bad that I'm making the DOJ wait. But why the hell should I not make them wait? I'm offering free labour in return for training, and waited for months for responses. They can wait an extra week, surely.

The british writer George Orwell apparently once penned the following:

The pamphelt is a one man show. One has complete freedom of expression, including, if one chooses, the freedom to be scurrilous, abusive, and seditious; or, on the other hand, to be more detailed, serious and "highbrow" then is ever possible in a newspaper or in most kinds of periodicals. . . . .Above all, a pamphlet does not have to follow any prescribed pattern. It can be in prose or in verse, it can consist largely of maps or statistics or quotations,it can take the form of a story, a fable, a letter, an essay, a dialogue, or a piece of reportage. All that is required of it is that it shall be topical, polemnical, and short.

Without putting to fine a point on it, everything Orwell says applies equally to blogs. Fellow bloggers, if you're ever unsure about the time you spend on this, just remember this; We are the new pamphleteers!

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

One of my favorite quotes of the year

This is that Hughson! Whose name and most detestable conspiracies will no doubt be had in everlasting remembrance to his eternal reproach; and stand recorded to latest posterity. This is the man! This that grand incendiary! That arch rebel against God, his King, and his country! That devil incarnate, and chief agent of the old Abaddon of the infernal pit, and Geryon of Darkness!

New York Prosecutor, on the man accused of enciting the (almost certainly imaginary) 1741 slave rebellion, John Hughson.

Geryon of Darkness indeed.

Fantastic! I've finally been offered a job, with a division of the Department of Justice. By virtue of it being both public interest and government, it triggers the full weight of my school's pretty generous public service grant. It's not quite a private law firm, of course, but at least the disparity is closer to 4-1 then 50-1. Anyway, I will almost certainly accept the offer, unless one or two calls I make tommorrow morning yield fruit. Keep tuned.

Our criminal law class started today with the recitation of a long series of names, one after another. The professor told us to raise our hands every time we recognized someone as he went down the list. Name after name was read, however, and no hands were raised anywhere. Rather, we were flashing puzzled looks across the room at our friends, convinced this was some sort of innovative learning technique the prof was trying on us.

The punchline, when it came, was worth the confusion. "Those", he said, "are the names of the last thirty presidents of this school's Law Review. If you want anonymity, there's nothing better". Then he gave a wolfish grin and started talking about the defence of necessity and the hilarities of torture
Just a quick tidbit of news: the firm I interviewed with on campus last week (remember, the one with the sleeping interviewer) found it fit to reject me sans callback. As if I couldn't have predicted that the moment I walked in. Anyway, the wait continues for some sort of reasonable offer, and I've got a few more nibbles. I am, however, on the brink of enacting plan C (plans A and B having failed thus far to produce), which involves mailings to state government. Luckily, their deadlines seem much later then the feds; perhaps it has somethng to do with a less rigorous security check.

Monday, March 03, 2003

It is so cold here that instead of grass we've got just huge blocks of ice. A puddle I walked by in the early morning was rock solid at lunch. I'm still wearing my heaviest winter coat, a hat, AND gloves.

Law school has been great thus far, and I love this place. But days like this the shadow of the orange eating short wearing me that might have been at a certain school in the west crosses my mind for a moment. Only for a moment, though.
I've just noticed this attorney authored blog, which is interesting in that the author's cooking obsession makes them vaguely similar to me. The difference, I suppose, is that they have no time and loads of money, and I have no money but limitless time. The funny part is that there's really never any midpoint as a lawyer, when you both have enough money and enough time. Maybe during a clerkship?

On a very quick adjoining note, can anyone at all explain to me why two shallots costs $1.59? Come on, people. It's a glorified onion mixed with a couple garlic genes. Give me a break.

Sunday, March 02, 2003

It's amazing to me how different a professor can make a technically identical course.

For example, Sua Sponte reports continued frustration with her property professor, who seems to treat the course as a primer in redistribution. Last semester, I had a torts professor who didn't believe in prison. Now, my own property prof is probably one of the best teachers I've ever studied at the feet of. We've discussed lobsters, and oysters, and spectrum, and irrigation systems in medieval spain. We've done about three cases. Every day, the lecture and socratic questioning is delivered with sharp efficiency, reducing all of us eventually to bemused spectators. The crisp crackle of pure intellectual power circles malevolently about his impressive beard; every word only reasserts the impression that this is the kind of person who unleashed an unimagineable panoply of chaos on every educational institution that has had the misfortune of trying to teach him. I may not be learning any of the mythic blackletter law, but I can't help feeling I'll pick it all up later. I rememberI complaining last semester of my torts prof, who tried to sound obscure for the sake of sounding intelligent. This is the actually smart version of her; both occasionally obscure and massively bright.

Let's put it this way; taking this class has almost made me wish my degree was in economics. Economics!

Saturday, March 01, 2003

Still struggling with this ridiculous cold, so through my headache I'll write a little something about the North Korea v. Iraq distinction.

As everyone knows, one of the arguments raised by opponents of war is that North Korea is more dangerous then Iraq, so we aren't we dealing with them as muscularly?

First of all, I dispute the danger of North Korea.If anyone is unlikely to pass weapons to Al-Quaeda et al, I would think it's North Korea. There's no ideological link, there's no ethnic link, and you can't even use the "enemy of my enemy is your friend" argument because I suspect North Korea is too jealous of the few weapons it has to give them to a deeply unstable bunch of lunatics. As for the worry that they can build a missile to reach the United States, this is a legitimate concern. However, If they were to fire it, even without a missile defense system over here, North Korea would cease to exist. Remember those thousands of nukes we've got?

But all this aside, let's say Bush did take up these naysayers and started theatening to attack North Korea unless they got rid of their nukes. What would the result be? Obviously, I'm sure the peacemongers defending Iraq would instantly turn against the US here too. And they would be right. Because America has no current cassus belli against the North Koreans. We've made a peace with them that they're more or less respecting (they haven't invaded south Korea). The peace didn't say, to my knowledge, that they were not to have this or that weapon. So any attack by us against North Korea would be the exact kind of international marauding the peacemongers are so exercised about.

The situation with Iraq is much simpler. We defeated them in a battle they started. Hussein, unwisely, was allowed to stay in power (I am convinced this is the biggest mistake America has made since Vietnam). However, he was allowed to remain in power only on the condition that he did x, y, and z. He hasn't done x, y, or z. Therefore, we are allowed by every principle of international politics I've ever heard to finish the previous job. Think what would have happened if in 1955 the Germans had reinstalled the Nazis somehow and had started to build the Wermacht back up. Wouldn't we have attacked immediately? This is the same thing on a much smaller scale, though with a strange very high upside in potential danger.

Should this have been done in 1992, 1995, 1998, or any year before now? Obviously. But America was drifting around in a la la land of a boom all those years, and I'm not going to blame President Clinton on this one. The nation wouldn't have been able to go to war before September 11th, because no one believed in a threat to the US. But we've been undecieved.

So what do we do with North Korea? Well, it's a difficult problem. On one hand, we can rely on MAD to protect ourselves. However, we have a good ally in the South, and I wonder if we'd be able to muster up the moral force to attack North Korea with our nuclear weapons if the south was attacked by them. IN my 18th century war monger mode, I would suggest prodding them so outrageously that they eventually do something really stupid, enough to earn the approbium of the international community. But I'm not sure the UN will be up to it even then. We'll see.
Someone reminds me to dress more warmly the next time I go for a run in the cold.

I only say this because I woke up this morning with a really outlandish head cold. Or rather, I woke up this afternoon with a head cold, at 2 pm. Given that I rarely, if ever, sleep past 9am, you can imagine the shape I'm in. It's really frustrating when your body doesn't cooperate, I have to say. And yes, I know its only going to get worse as I progress inexorably towards death. Thank You.

So, grapefruits, tylenol, and ginger tea. Let's see if these help.

Friday, February 28, 2003

I was just at a talk given by a prominent circuit judge, named among many as a candidate for the U.S Supreme Court when a vacancy finally arises. Most of the talk covered general threats to the institution of law, through a variety of sources. These included, among others, plaintiff's lawyers, realist law professors, and the loss of natural law as the underpinning of the legal system. Most politically important, however, the judge addressed the appointment battle of Miguel Estrada during the after talk question period.

As she put it, the cut in salary involved in sitting as a federal judge is alone enough to disqualify most people who have a reasonable title to sanity. Put on top of it not only intrusive personal examination but also the possibility of a wide ranging vendetta pursued by a fanatical congressman (of either side) and what we're going to have as judges in a generation or two is people who have done nothing, said nothing, and thought nothing. To quote the punchline, no one but government employees are going to apply for these positively vital positions.

I think this is absolutely right. For now, the pure prestige of the federal judiciary is enough to still reel in good candidates. But if this process degenerates any further, forget finding a new Cardozo, or Brandeis, or Scalia, or Holmes. We're going to have trouble recruiting a new Judge Mathis. And that, folks, is not good. So maybe its time for mutual disarmament on both sides. Maybe its time for mechanistic standards through which someone qualifies as a judge. Maybe it's time for a judiciary of the elderly, as Yale law prof Ackerman recommends. I don't know. But we had better think of something quick.

Thursday, February 27, 2003

You know you're institutionalized when some classroom visiters steal your seat (in your one class where seats aren't assigned), and you're so befuddled you feel dizzy for the entire class. Honestly, I didn't use to be such a prima donna. I wonder what's happened.
I don't understand the constant stream of anti-tobacco company ads I see on TV. It just seems completely over the top.

Now, I'm no apologist for smoking. I can't think of anything socially acceptable that makes me question whether I respect someone more then smoking. It's nasty, generally inconsiderate, and demonstrably unhealthy. However, everyone knows now, don't they? You could have the same commercials for the makers of beer, burgers, coca cola, and a whole range of other things that have bad health effects. As far as I can tell, the only effect of the ads is to annoy people like me, to the extent that I'm tempted to go buy a pack out of spite.

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

A quick note on what I'm doing as a research assistant.

Essentially, I've been assigned several parts of the course to revise the reading for the next time she teaches it. What this involves at the moment is paging laboriously through a very long but fascinating source related to one of our many 18th century slave revolts, and trying to figure out what future people taking this course should be reading. I'm also, at some point, going to put together a rather complete annotated bibliography, and will also try to tie the goings on here to some things that happened near the end of the course chronologically.

Those adhering to the most cynical interpretation of all things will note that I am, in effect, being paid to study for my exam.

I deny everything. Ahem.
My "Quest for the Holy Job" (thus far an epic spanning three months) has taken yet another bizarre twist. I got a call from a firm this morning who wanted to know whether I realized what kind of law they practiced. Luckily, a friend of mine from college summered there, so the answer was yes, but then the attorney said "Oh Good! You'll hear from us soon".

Now what in the hell is that supposed to mean?

Huzzah, so to speak. My subciting assignment for the journal is done. Done!

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

I had my last OCI interview today. I don't think I have a chance in hell, what with the almost two dozen applicants and presumably one spot.

What really struck me, however, was the interviewer. He was tired/. I mean tired in a way I've rarely seen before. So tired that he looked as if he finishes up at the firm around 2 in the morning and then heads home to be beaten senseless by an ogre he employs for that very purpose. I swear I saw him almost nod off once or twice. You've got to wonder what this firm does to people; the folks at other firms I've met didn't look as if they were only a few steps away from possible death.
To add to a growing movement nationwide, enterprising students at Harvard Law School have founded a pro-national defense organization, called Students for Protecting America. Good luck to 'em.

Monday, February 24, 2003

From my property reading . . .

. . . "caused considerable pondering among nineteenth centiry roadway jurisprudes" . . . .

Waddling Beavis: he he he... He said prude. huh huh huh.

The interview with the DOJ today went well, I thought. The guy threw a couple of oddball questions my way, and even asked very specifically what the office does. Which really wasn't fair, since the web page is a disaster. But I had basically figured it out after a little puzzling, so I was able to answer. Anyway, he told me that would get through their decisions "very quickly". Indeed, 'I could expect to hear as early as the end of March".

How are the words "very quickly" at all related to "end of march", if it is presently mid February?

Sunday, February 23, 2003

. . . . And the prize for the most oddly named government agency goes to the Department of Justice's Office of Weed and Seed.
I went to the movies today, to see the new comic book fantasy Daredevil. The most memorable part of the whole experience were the previews.

In a time where a large shadowy conspiracy lies waiting to unleash mass destruction on our cities, when the nation's host has ridden forth to probable war in Iraq, when a nuclear lunatic inhabits North Korea, and when depending on what you think, we're either on the brink of an ice age or global warming, do we really need a movie about having to restart the rotation of the earth's core via atomic detonation?

Chris Rock and Bernie Mack running for president. Now that is cinema!

Friday, February 21, 2003

Two new developments. First, I've been offered a term time job as a research assistant. If worst comes to worst on the summer job front, I can always do that through the summer months, and in the meantime I've been assigned a very interesting block of primary source material to prepare for study. I've also set up an interview with that office from the DOJ for Monday. What I found funny, though, was that they assumed I was flying down for them. I mean, I want a job, but I am not flying to Washington D.C on a weekends notice for a job that only pays what I get from the law school.

A funny note from my interview for the research position. We were talking about careers in legal academia, and she pointed out that you need to establish credibility both as a historian and a lawyer for a law school to hire you. As she put it, having herself gone to Yale, she had problems on the legal side. Of course, though, that could be the line she takes when speaking to lesser creatures. I'm not sure.
I did the interview. Honestly, my first impression is that my chances of getting the job would have been better if I had simply jumped up and bit him instead of attempting any conversation. There were 17 candidates and they're offering two positions at most. It's close to impossible.

However, I feel my interview craft getting better, which is a good thing given my total lack of experience with anything even approximately like professional life before I came here. And when I got home, there was a message from a Department of Justice office wanting to interview me. So maybe a good day, all in all.

I'm meeting my research assistant searching professor soon. Let's see what she has to say.
Alicepasses on some wonderful advice about figuring out law firm pronounciations: simply call the firm! This is the kind of thing that would never have occurred to me otherwise, so thank you! And my sincerest condolences for the foul pilfering of your laptop, Alice: even reading about it made me feel sick. I gave my old warhorse an extra hug last night.

Thursday, February 20, 2003

I'm prepping for my hopeless interview tommorrow (15 interviews just from this school. And I'm going to get the job? Heh) and have run into a giant dead end. I haven't the slightest idea how to pronounce the name of the firm. I've already thought up 5 perfectly plausible alternatives, and I thought of this problem too late to simply ask someone. Ah well. I'll have to bluff. Shouldn't be too hard, since I bluff a facade of competence every day.
I always have trouble shaking the feeling that most of my conversations in the real world are plagiarized from my blog. Should I start citing myself?

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

It's now 11:30 at night, and I'm sitting at my desk surrounded by 300 pages of photocopies trying to make sure that a law professor's citations match up to what is said in the books that he cites, and also that he's cited the books that he cited in the correct form as dictated by the ever popular Blue Book. It is, needless to say, a tiresome business, forcing me to produce such well crafted outpourings as the following gem of wordsmanship:

"the parenthetical explaining the Eisgruber citation does not start with a present participle. Rule 1.5. However, I think that here a complete phrase is not necessary in context, and therefore we don’t need to change this under the exception provided for in the rule."

Someone needs to explain to me right now why I'm planning to take the law review competition in the summer. It really makes no sense whatsoever.

P.S- Don't these job dispensing idiots realize I came here because my future employment is supposed to be almost a sinecure? Come on! I shouldn't have to work for it.

The gall of some people.
Honestly, getting a 1L job is a problem and a half, or at least one that either qualifies for the school's public funding or pays. Yesterday, I got rejected from a DOJ position I had interviewed for, which isn't a problem unless it speaks to the fact that people find me obnoxious or annoying. But still, that makes two rejections after interviews if you count in the law firm a month ago or so.

Anyway, Spring OCI (on-campus interviewing) starts on Friday for me. I'm going to go in there and give it my best shot. Otherwise, my desperate flailing continues.

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

I've just read Chirac's warning to the Eastern European countries not to support the United States. It's even more imperious then I thought, particularly for a man convinced the US is the one punching above its weight. I used to think, honestly, that the French presidents thought they were Louis XIV. I've now realized I'm wrong; they think they're the Holy Roman Emperor. It's incredible.
27.5 inches of snow here, and the Law School has delayed opening till noon. Back in DC, a snow storm of this magnitude shuts down the city for the week. Here? A morning delay.

Monday, February 17, 2003

Great news is filtering in from the rest of my study group. It looks like we all got precisely the same GPA, with different distributions as to grades. Since we know that the curve is something in between a B and a B+ (aimed closer to a B, we hear), this means we've all done really well. Definitely good to hear that everyone got something positive out of our efforts, and that our low stress limited studying method worked.

Sunday, February 16, 2003

The spike in traffic from Sua Sponte's link reminds me of something I've been meaning to write for a while.

Back when I was a kid and watched at least some professional wrestling, it occured to me that there were 4 categories of quasi-pugilist. The meanest form were what I called the "underwear" guys, wrestlers who fought under their own name and wore only some coloured bit of spandex undergarment. Their role, in general, was relatively simple; they would charge out onto the ring, put up a reasonable fight, and then let their one of the superior wrestlers thrash them.

Just above the underwear guys, I put the "underwear and nickname" group. These people still didn't have costumes, but they did have cool names, and they sometimes even managed to win. And above this group, one hit the stars of wrestling, whether it was those at the highest level like Hulk Hogan, or those slightly below.

Now, it seems to me that given the amount of traffic and the quality of the writing here, I'm basically an underwear guy in the legal blogosphere. Sua, on the other hand, is different. Ok, she's not quite Instapundit, who enters the ring daily complete with entourage and fireworks. She's also not the Volokh Conspiracy, which in its growing size resembles precisely one of those tenuous tag team alliances I so fondly remember (Actually, I'm waiting for Sasha to declare Eugene a traitor, steal his "woman", and form Volokh Squared. It would help ratings). But she's definitely no longer an underwear guy. Congratulations.

Saturday, February 15, 2003

On yet another note, I've applied to be a term time research assistant with one of my profs. On one hand, this clearly marks me out as one of the pathetic backstabbing favour curryers I've attacked before. It's even worse; instead of running up to the professor after class, I'm trying to work for him/her.

On the other hand, I don't see how I'm going to keep my toe in the intellectual interests I had before coming here if I don't make an effort. And the professor I've applied to work for is a top notch legal historian, whether I agree with her methodology or not. And I do, stunningly enough, have a little extra time [current subciting stress notwithstanding].

So I'm going to swallow my criticisms and hope for the best.
Many thanks to Sua Sponte for her congratulations on her blog, and for Adam's advice in the comments...

On another note entirely, I need to congratulate my sister. She's had her first college acceptance! To my alma mater, no less. Guess which way I'll be pushing her?

I never knew property was this fun!

Our property professor pointed out on Friday that the reason the university here keeps opening and closing the gates leading across campus is to prevent the creation of an easement. I'm just imagining the lawyer who thought that worry up. To think that I'm training to be a predictor of doom...

Friday, February 14, 2003

Given how pompous the post below sounds, I don't mean I'm disappointed. I just don't want the first semester to be the pinnacle of my career. That's all.
Okay, folks, grades are in.

According to my taxonomy posted a little less then two weeks ago, my category is "Not Dead Yet".

According to what rumours I can find on the web about my school's secretive grading system, I'm just a touch outside the top 10%, and certainly within a putative grouping of the top 20%. Given that these things arent really statistically significant with only three grades, the upshot is that I'm within striking distance of anything almost anything I'd like to do, given enough work.

So I'll give a temporary woo and hoo. Then it's back to the mill. Waddling Thunder does not mean to let up.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Americans have no sense of drama.

Back in Scotland, the day before the winter results were released, a small notice would go up on the second floor of the modern history department. Actually, we’d have some forewarning on when this would happen, because the rumours would come fast and furious from other departments. Classics is up today, we’d hear! Medieval history is moving soon! The note announcing the dreadful news was always the same; a small handwritten missive pointing out that “Examination Results will be posted on the Honours board at 2:00 p.m tomorrow afternoon”.

The next day, I almost always went home for lunch, at about noon. Just as the clock wound its slow, tortuous way past one and I began thinking about making my own way to town, a sense of propriety held me back. There’s nothing quite as pathetic as a student waiting for exam results in front of a bulletin board. Finally, as two o’clock came around, I left my pastel pink hall of residence. The road on those days seemed a lot longer then usual, past the lime green biology center, then up to along the edge of the ancient golf course that bordered the university. From there, I rambled past the Catholic church, and then the university buildings would begin to appear in rapid succession. Management, to the right. Then the ever impressive Edgecliff, home to our mysterious Economics department. I would realize there was a crowd in Modern History, and would wander on, past the twin and linked schools of Moral Philosophy and Logic, and then to the ruined castle, all the while feeling the ancient stones frown at me in a disdain fostered by centuries of combined wisdom.

Finally confident that the main rush at grades was over, and getting whipped by the kind of merciless wind that only Scotland can produce, I would eventually decide to take the plunge and go into St. Katherine’s Lodge, where my immediate destiny awaited on the second floor. There would still be a few gawkers left, of course, desperate to see who did better then them, but I would be able to get close enough to scan the list. And the wait would end.

Sometime tomorrow or Friday, we’re getting mailed our grades via U.S Postal Service. And this is supposed to be law school?

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

I've just been to a law firm reception, and thought i would use the opportunity to put a final touch on my thoughts about BIGLAW.

The one thing that receptions like this make absolutely clear is that big law firms pose a tremendous moral hazard for people who, because of their beliefs, shouldn't be working for them. The money, simply put, is huge. Not only for partners, but for first year associates as well. The abandon with which they spend at these get togethers is designed to demonstrate to you exactly that wealth, and more importantly, the potential that if you join them you too one day can spend with reckless disregard. Now, I can see how someone who is opposed to what they do theoretically might be bamboozled into joining a firm when they shouldn't because of the golden fruit dangled before them. My advice is to steel your heart against them if you can't deal with their work mentally. Though I like what they do, that doesn't mean everyone should too.

Monday, February 10, 2003

JMB has come back with a tripartite division of lawyers, in which he now sees a seperate class of lawyers who are immoral because they break the law and are obsessed by the bottom line to the exclusion of all else, a set of roughly moral lawyers who work for all kinds of clients, and then the warrior white knights. I don't see anything wrong with his classification as such, and agree with him that those in the first category should be seen as reprehensible.

We still have a point of disagreement, however, which I don't think we can resolve without having a full debate on the goodness of our system, which I'm not going to do because it would overwhelm my time and this blog. I think JMB still sees that last group as superior to the second group. There can be moral lawyers in that second group, he says, but they hoe a tough row, because the very business they do is so potentially damaging.

That's where we part paths, because to me if those lawyers do their work within the bounds of ethics, then they are just as valuable to society as someone fighting the good fight as a public defender. Put very simply, defending people for little money is good. Business is also good. There might be a moral upside to public defending because you're doing it as charity work, which itself is good. But there's nothing about the work itself that is better for society on a meta-level for me. We need both people.
A short companion piece to illustrate my point about a "judo throw" below. Here is how an 18th century diplomat would have answered the recent French proposal for more inspections.

We are in receipt of your dispatch of February 8, 2003. I have instructed his Excellency the President in the entirety of your communication.

Let me say to you, honorable sir, that his Excellency the President was so moved by the gentle heart of His Excellency the President of France that tears sprang uncalled for upon his august cheek. Never before have the sanguine ties of Republican Blood been so strong between the two Nations of France and the United States! His Excellency the President then deigned to instruct me that he accepts in every particular the outpouring from his Excellency the President of France's genius, and far from entertaining even the most ephermeral uneasiness as to its content, announced only that the proposal of his esteemed brother be accepted at once and augmented with all the additional vigor of American earnest. For has the Lord not said, "Blessed are the peacemakers"?
etc, etc.

By pointing out that what the French are doing is a diplomatic manuever, however, the putative letter France feels like it received from Powell is something like the following:

Dear France; Your recent proposal suggests you are acting the fool. Please stop acting the fool, or we will leave you to act the fool alone. "

I don't know what is more effective. But I'll just note that a French diplomat getting the first letter would be JUST AS wary as a diplomat getting the second one.
I'm going to respond to JMB's response to my response, but I'd rather do that when I'm not eating breakfast. So, check later for that. For now, my topic is the latest move in Franco-German diplomacy; this proposal for a "super" inspection regime.

I should say first that the Germans clearly have no part in the proposal. Yes, they're fanatically opposed to war, but the cleverness of the plan doesn't smack of German diplomacy. Historically, at least until WWII, German diplomacy has been effective, but not particularly subtle. Various devices have included invading without warning (Silesa, 1740), entering a war and leaving again despite an alliance (yet again, the War of Austrian Succession, 1740-1748), and entering a war as a minor power and only staying if bribed (1705ish, I think, War of Spanish Succession, when Frederick III/I blackmailed a royal title out of the Emperor). This new devilry, my friends, is purely French in character. And through its efficacy, it is proof that the craft of the heirs to the Rois Tres Chretien is deep still.

The pertinent thing to note, however, is that though French skill may be deep, they're playing a bad hand. This new position, it is important to notice, is a fall back position, a definite step back from previous French insistence on merely more time. What has forced them back is Powell's speech, which I'm now willing to classify as effective. By essentially shattering mainstream domestic opposition to the war, Powell deprived France of a powerful weapon in its arsenal. Therefore, France has retreated to her current more defensible position.

It's going to be a hard rampart to storm, I think. We can do it through brute force on one hand, simply by using all the power we have to shove the French in our direction. That would include rightly warning the UN that they risk complete irrelevance by not acting. There's a lot to be said for this; why engage the French in the game they invented? On the other hand, the French have left themselves open to one of the oldest tricks in the diplomatic world; the judo throw. I think the US has the opportunity now, if they want to play diplomacy, to neutralize the French plan by accepting it in principal, and then noting that it should be expanded. More troops! More inspectors! More intrusiveness! I read one editorial on Sunday that suggested a "no drive zone", meaning that if any Iraqi truck was seen on the roads around a suspected WMD center, it would be destroyed. This is exactly the kind of proposal that I mean, because eventually we would bump up against the level of Iraqi tolerance. We would force Iraq to reject the French plan.

But as I've said before, this isn't the game Bush is playing. Like him or not, his insistence on disarmament is absolutely sincere, and if you don't understand that, you've misunderstood the diplomatic posture.

Sunday, February 09, 2003

An amazing number of hits is heading my way via JD2B, at least for a Sunday. Maybe I should write increasingly outrageous articles in hopes of getting people to link to me. Hits are invigorating.

Saturday, February 08, 2003


I just noticed that I've been verbally brutalized* by JMB, in a recent post. His contention is that my own recent argument as to the inherent morality of practicing BIGLAW is essentially wrong, and exhorts us all towards a glorious defense of the little guy.

The problem is that I don't think we fundamentally disagree as to the main point of my post. JMB says that he doesn't believe in the Free Market system. As I pointed out, if you don't believe in the free market system, then my post doesn't particularly apply to you. At that point, you absolutely should not work for BIGLAW, MEDIUM LAW, or any other kind of law which greases the wheels of what you consider the capitalist oppressor. As he puts it, being shot is a reasonable alternative to the kind of fundamental betrayal that working for a wealthy firm would represent.

But I would wager that the majority of law students believe in capitalism and the free market. I certainly do, the various injustices dictacted by the fallen human condition notwithstanding. In that context, my point was that pretending that working for the public interest is in any way morally superior is a complete red herring. What is moral, indeed, is the practice of whatever kind of law you decide to do consonant with the highest standards of ethics. I personally would argue that in the context of market defined liberty, working to faciliate the coercive brutality of the federal income tax system can be by far morally inferior to helping two businesses work together, or to providing a corporation with the due process they are guaranteed by our system.

In other words, I make no claim that being a lawyer= being a capitalist, as JMB posits that I do. Rather, my formulation is that if you are a capitalist, you can be a good lawyer. I don't think JMB agrees, but that's a disagreement about the shape of society as a whole.

You don't like our system? By all means, fight to change it. But if you do approve in general, then you don't get the moral high ground by pretending you don't. Sorry.

* I'm very much kidding. I actually appreciate being challenged.

I've got a small collection of new recipes and posts over at the Waddling Kitchen, including a very brief post on my sourdough adventures. Stay tuned for goat stew, since I've now got 2.5 pounds of constituent meat in my freezer.

Friday, February 07, 2003

When studying in Scotland, I always was amazed by the behavior of American junior year abroad students in my smaller history classes. Based on the minimal reading the professor would assign (assuming that if you were interested you would go find out more yourself based on his very large bibliography), they would invariably come up with a whole range of often completely nonsensical speculations. So, for example, upon hearing that Indians X attacked Settlers Y in colonial America, they would say something like "Couldn't that have been because of some envy between the tribe and the settlers vis a vis the imbalance of wealth?", in response to which the professor would have to note that if they had actually read some of the sources before talking, they would have noticed that the Europeans were in fact considerably on the short end of the stick income wise.

Anyway, so in my history course we're going through the early creation of slave laws in America. It's really quite interesting to see how the New York legislature responded to a growing slave population by instituting a system of slave control administered by private parties through civil suit. For example, if you saw three slaves congregating you were allowed to sue the owners of each slave. The question then arose; why adopt that system?

Now, my classmates came up with some fascinating arguments. For example, some pointed out that by allowing people to take control of those laws themselves, the "rich elite' produced a system to inculcate the the system of slavery into the minds of the people. Someone else held that this had something to do with the propertyization, for lack of a better term, of the slaves. Since property is dealt with under civil law, so should slaves. The problem here, however, is that all these arguments are undercut by a terribly simple argument that requires no intelligence or insight whatsoever; having the state arrest and try slaves for congregating would have been totally completely and comprehensively unadministrable in the early 18th century. I don't think even an administrative giant like France could have managed it, much less a tiny colony with a 20% slave population like colonial New York. I mean, we're dealing with a world where only recently has administration got past the point that the King personally has to show up to keep a province in order. And they're going to run a police state? You've got to be kidding.

So why didn't everyone instinctively realize this? Because there's no background reading required in the course. Because all we do is read some pages in a carefully preened packet the professor has prepared. Because for the professor, the history is only a jumping off point for a discussion of the philisophy of history. Indeed, I'm sure she much prefers the intelligent answers I mentioned above. The fact that they're superceded by a boring, muddy, and hopelessly realistic answer is, to her, one of these inconveniences of life, like learning that brownies have fat. I really don't think I would have done too well in a history grad program here; I really don't.
Adam notes in the comments section of my last post that the theory of tax cutting has not matched up with the practice; domestic spending keeps growing, Reagan or not. Absolutely true, and I shouldn't have written such a congratulatory post. What I really meant was that I see Bush uses all this talk of jump starting the economy and suchlike to do what he really wants to do, which is starve the government sufficiently to hopefully reduce it one day. Like you, though, I'm disappointed by the continued rises in spending.
A talk on Reagan I saw the other day argued that his main realization was that one reduced the size of the domestic government by starving it. The existence of deficits forbids spending more. Amen, I say to that. And Bush has apparently learned the same lesson.

Thursday, February 06, 2003

I have, of course, no real evidence of what I'm going to say. So discount it entirely if you wish.

I've been thinking of French opposition to action against Iraq. Clearly, whatever they say, it's not because they believe Iraq doesn't have these weapons. They've admitted the opposite on numerous occasions. So what's going on?

My opinion is that France is playing one of its infamous games of diplomatic sublety, and it probably comes down to oil. No, I don't mean that they think America is going to war for oil. They know well enough, like everyone else (and like other blogs have pointed out in great detail recently) that "controlling" the oil fields in Iraq really does nothing for US oil supplies. Oil is bought and sold on a world market, and the US will always be able to buy enough of it unless all the oil producing nations refuse to produce oil at all. Until, of course, the stuff just runs out, which is why the new hydrogen car initiative is so exciting.

Anyway, the blood for oil argument is too childish for a nation of France's historical malevolence. This is a country, one must remember, so skilled in diplomatic doubletalk that they once conned the Spanish into helping the Americans gain independence, even though the Spanish knew full well the Americans were just going to turn around and attack them. What I think is actually going on is that the French think the US are going to war in Iraq to deprive European companies of the bounty peace might bring. If, after all, sanctions were taken off Iraq, it is French oil companies who would make it in there first. They've been chomping at the bit for years. (I'm writing too quickly to search for the cites, but there have been numerous stories over the past decade about French oil execs heading to Iraq for talks.) Anyway, so the idea is that if France stops war, then they also stop this move of great sneakiness on the part of the US, and thus save the oil fields of Iraq from the domination of the US hyper-puissance (hyperpower).

The problem is that the US isn't playing the same game at all. Unlike French diplomacy, American diplomacy is not often that subtle. We might lie, but this folding upon folding of bizarre motiviations isn't our style. I'm quite certain that President Bush thinks there are weapons in Iraq, thinks that Hussein and Al-Quaeda are about to unite, and wants to stop it. If someone told him about this oil thing, or about French theories of impending Pax Americana, I'm sure he'd say something like "how 'bout that?", and just move on. I wish someone would tell France that huddling over the chess board searching deeply for our strategy is really futile; we're really playing nothing more complicated then Candyland.

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

I've been reading for days of "uneasiness" in the British military establishment about the coming war. No one was explaining what the source of the uneasiness was, though, and I couldn't figure it out. Like the American military, the British tend not to make political statements of any sort; they're commanded to fight by the political leadership, and off they go. I have, however, finally figured out what the problem is. They're apparently terrified of being relegated to the wings of the campaign. Now that I believe.
JD2B reports that an applicant to Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, a DC firm, was rejected because of law school grades. . . . despite 7 million dollars in portable business and years of experience. Now, what was that about the GPA dimishing in importance as the years went on?

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

A last post on this issue for now, since I really should sleep. I found an auction site which does nothing but sell player avatars and magic items, called Playerauctions. Just as for general auctions in Ebay, Playerauctions is regulated by a strong feedback system, and also a name and shame policy for scammers. However, if you look at the site relatively closely two problems become apparent. 1) Everyone realizes that there's very little one can do about scammers 2) Paypal's fraud policies don't cover intangible items. Anyway, this is interesting stuff.
So I did a search to find out how courts deal with contract disputes involving magic items in role playing games. First of all, EverQuest's parent company [i.e Sony] sees the items and characters produced within its game as intellectual property, and has pressured ebay to remove them from its listings. [though I read that trading continues]. The other big online game I have heard of, however, is Ultima Online, which does encourage trading of characters, at least.

However, my research there doesn't answer my question of how a court would deal with such a thing contractually. Ultima Online agrees to happily transfer your entire character to another person for a fee of $25. The contract you apparently sign upon signing up, however, only explicitly allows the selling of entire characters. So I suppose in a suit between two players for a contract violation [and my knowledge of the law is too tenuous to be sure], Ultima could intervene and claim its intellectual property was being violated. Anyway, for now I'm baffled.
I just read a fascinating article on the economics of Everquest in Salon. For those who don't know, Everquest is a very large on-line role playing game. It's the kind of thing I would have been very into if it had come along when I was younger. Indeed, I used to play a very embryonic version of it, of which I only remember that to protect yourself when you logged off from the ravaging of other players, you had to hire bodyguards. Due to a rather fortuitous glitch in the game, the pink poodles were actually almost unbeatable.

Anyway, among the facts mentioned in the article is that game "money" now has a real world equivalent. Players desperate to advance more quickly are apparently willing to pay sums of real dollars to purchase game currency and equipment. In fact, the article points out, one unit of Everquest currency corresponds to a US penny, making the fictional exchange medium a stronger currency then the now defunct Italian lira.

It occured to me, however, that it would be a very interesting experiment indeed to fiddle with the ground rules of the game, and see what the behavioral consequences are. Our property professor is always stressing that property rules should be examined with a "transactional cap" firmly in place. Well, how better then to see changes work in a virgin and very real economy? Quite apart from the very funny consequences of an income tax on the game, what if we said that a murdered character's items were the permanent property of the underlying player, so that his later avatars could come along and collect them? I suspect random killings would go down, if killing is in part a method to collect magic weapons and so on. Or how about introducing a rule simply making all the often used items (I'm assuming you have to buy food in the game) free, but limited in quantity? Maybe someone should try to prevail on the people who run the game.

* A footnote to that; I can't wait for the first case where a seller renegs on his promise to sell a magic sword to a buyer. I wonder if its already happened?
We're not reading this case in crim law, but I noticed it as I was flipping to a case we are reading. I can't tell whether it's an actual case or a story a professor came up with, but in any case.

A teenager knew that his father was likely to threaten his mother with an unloaded shotgun, and he wanted his mother dead. So he secretly loaded the shotgun. In due time, the father became embroiled in a fight with his wife, pulled out the shotgun as expected, and pulled the trigger, assuming the gun to be unloaded. Of course, it was indeed loaded, so a shot was fired, which missed the wife and went out the window. At the same time, however, the son had grown desperate at the failure of his plan, so he had tossed himself off the roof of the apartment building, at which point he was hit and killed by the shotgun his dad had just fired. The suicide attempt itself would probably have failed because of a net set up on the eigth floor for window washers. To quote the casebook, "the medical examiner closed the case as a suicide.".

Monday, February 03, 2003

I've currently got a pot of flour and water fermenting in my room, on its way to being my first experiment in sourdough leaven. Yes, I know. This is my definite move towards becoming one of those people described in Tony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential, my life ceded to the the demands made on my time by a wide panoply of voracious yeasts. In any case, the reason I mention it on this blog is that this is all part of my very complicated contingency plans.

It plays several roles in these plans. If, for example, my grades fall in the "Admissions Office F'ed Up" range, then dropping out of school to become a baker is plan 1 (b) in my running away from law school plan, to be activated only if the get back into history academia plan [1(a)] doesn't pan out. It is a definitive improvement over plan 1(c), which involves french fries and a uniform, and an even bigger improvement over 1(d) (getting myself into shape and entering professional wrestling as 'The Hirsute Warrior'). As a bonus, If I somehow end up destitute or transported back in time to the middle ages after leaving school, I'll be able to at least put some bread together.

Baking is also a backstop if "Path I" to 2L, involving securing enough loans to pay for the year, doesn't work. I'm sure I can at least finance some of my studies with some efforts in the early mornings.

I'm also providing now for my mid-life crisis, if I choose to have one. Moving to the country and opening a mill and a bakery fits very neatly between Mid-Life Crisis Scenario 1 (to be decided, but I figure there must be something) and 3 (trying to round up people interesting in recapturing Constantinople).

Right, then. I'm glad that's all settled.

Green Gourd, a blog I didn't know about but who linked to one of my posts, passes on relatively sad news I hadn't heard. The great Takanohana, sumo yokozuna, has retired after a glorious career. Also see this post.

Though I hadn't caught much sumo recently due to the lack of it on US TV, I did watch a lot while I was in Scotland via Eurosport. There's something about it that appeals to me. If pressed, I would probably say it was the hierarchy of it all.

I'm the kind of person, steeped in history on one hand and fantasy literature on the other, who likes the whole idea of titles and the authority that goes with them on a theoretical level. Aragorn, son of Arathorn, lord of Gondor! James, King of England, Scotland, Ireland, and France, etc! Kasparov, Grandmaster and World Champion! So when I hear about a sport where there are only one or two yokozuna at any one time, and these paragons of greatness are considered so unbeatable that lesser beings get bounties for doing so which they keep for their entire careers, and that yokozuna almost ceremoniously retire rather then decline, I'm attracted. The sport itself? An interesting martial art, if you look at it. But the traditions that surround the art are just fascinating.