Sunday, April 29, 2007


After a discussion about law school outlines with a certain Canadian, as well as a minimal amount of research, I noticed a minor difference in terminology that, I think, says a lot about Canadians and Americans.

For an outline, law students will often create a step-by-step procedure for analyzing certain issues of law. For example, when deciding whether a 4th Amendment violation has occurred, the analysis goes: 1) Is it a search? 2) If it's a search, was there a warrant based on probable cause? 3) If there wasn't a warrant, did the search fall within another exception? And so on.

Apparently Canadian law students call this a flow chart. In my American law school experience, we call this an attack plan. And you wonder why everyone loves Canadians.

Something's Gotta Give

I was hanging out at a classmate's apartment the other day studying my Copyright outline on my laptop. He was supposed to be working on a paper, but I noticed he was continuously wandering around his place, tidying things up.

"Constructive procrastination?" I asked. He looked nonplussed. "Cleaning up your place to avoid writing the paper," I clarified. He nodded.
The one glaring mess in his place consisted of an almost impenetrable mountain of dirty dishes in his sink.
"What about those dishes?" I asked helpfully. He looked at the mountain and shuddered.

A little while later he was back behind his laptop, typing away.
"Writing my paper to avoid doing the dishes," he admitted.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Jack Valenti

I feel obliged to note the death of the famous pro-copyright lobbyist Jack Valenti. He famously told a congressional panel in 1982, "I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone." (Today more than 50% of the film industry's profits come from video and DVD sales and rentals.)

We had a guest speaker in my final Copyright class who happened to mention that Jack Valenti attended the oral argument of a famous Supreme Court case. (Valenti tried to stroll past the metal detectors; the guards hauled him back, saying, "Yeah, we know who you are. You still gotta go through security.") For the sake of the guest speaker's privacy I won't mention the case. The guest was a fabulous story teller. I'll try to do justice to a few of his tales about his visit to the Supreme Court.

He said that as he looked up at the bench, one chair appeared empty. It was Justice Thomas, who had cranked his chair all the way down so that he could tilt his chair backwards. He sat there, almost horizontal, with his eyes closed, never asking a single question.

At the time, Chief Justice Rehnquist had just gotten out of the hospital for surgery and had an open chest wound. Whenever the court became silent, he said you could hear this sucking sound. It was Rehnquist, literally breathing out of a tube protruding from the hole in his chest. Our guest added:

"Every once in a while you'd hear someone cough, but no one seemed to be coughing. And then you'd see Rehnquist dab at his chest with a handkerchief."

Flick Link Fame

He definitely doesn't need my paltry hit contributions after this, but cheers to my buddy LawyerLike for getting linked on (Scroll down to the very bottom). How cool is that?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Not Prepared

Today is the last day of classes, so as you could imagine, some people have slacked on doing the reading. After several, "I'm sorry, I'm not prepared," this student's response got a chuckle:

"I respectfully pass on that question, Professor."

Monday, April 23, 2007

My Stomach Hurts

Got hit with The Fear today, like a punch in the stomach. Last week of classes.

My first exam will be a take-home, where you get 24 hours to complete it. Universe limited to class materials. This is my first take-home - can anyone offer any advice? Is there a way to prepare?

The weather is deliriously beautiful. Most people seem to think that makes it harder to study, but I prefer it. Keeps my mood up.

This is where I study:
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Excusable Neglect

This is probably all over the blogosphere already, but a friend of mine forwarded it to me this morning. Click on the image to blow it up:

Posted by Picasa

Purifying the Pool of Knowledge

Last night an old friend and I talked about our hesitation to publish our work. He's in the middle of a Philosophy PhD program at Fordham, and he admitted that he reviews some real crap that people publish.
"Whenever I start writing a paper, I always intend to publish it," I said. "But when I'm done I realize that I really haven't contributed anything new to the pool of knowledge."
"There's so much work out there that doesn't add anything," he agreed. "Not only that, work that doesn't contribute anything to the pool actually pollutes the waters. Bad articles are pollution."
"Exactly. Junk-work muddies the waters and makes it harder for everyone else to find the good stuff."

This reminded me of a blog entry I read by Daniel Solove on Concurring Opinions. He writes:
"The reality is that most law review articles aren't all that great. This is to be expected. In nearly any field, much of what is written isn't all that great. We'd be lucky if 10% is really good. Up the production level, and you get a lot more mediocre and bad work, and only a little more good work. What's happening, in other words, is that the worthwhile articles are becoming needles in an ever-growing haystack."

He suggests that we need a system where the industry recommends the cream of the crop. I endorse this. I'm thinking of the methods of, where law review articles could be given a "thumbs up" if readers find them worthwhile. Like Stumble, the system would allow readers to comment on the articles (think of the potential for debate!). Similarly, users wouldn't be able to "bomb" their own article - they can only vote once, and a writer can't thumbs-up his/her own article. Stumble doesn't "rank" sites per se, and actually I think that would be something to implement for law review articles.

Cons: Researchers might focus too heavily on the highly-rated works, skewing the pool towards older articles. But that would make the discovery and use of new or obscure works more exciting!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


A substitute professor and practicing lawyer, on dismissing class 20 minutes before the end:
"It always improved my intellect to leave class early."

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Weekly Law School Roundup #66

Thanks to Evan Schaeffer's Legal Underground for the shout-out in The Weekly Law School Roundup #66!

Privacy and Mexican Food

Final exams loom. I only have one closed-book exam, a strange imbalance for me. My profs all dropped the last-minute-aside: "I told you guys the exam is open-book, right?" I'm probably the only person who's been furiously memorizing the elements of the privacy torts, but the peace-of-mind throughout the semester would have been nice. Then again, who am I to look a gift horse in the mouth...?

Actually, I am going to look. I'm saying it: I hate open-book exams. I don't learn or retain the information as well because I don't study it as hard. I've been outlining and studying my damn outlines since the start of the semester, so it's an advantage for me when other people have to cram it all at the last minute. I like memorizing. It's one of those rare tasks that rewards time spent. Pure sweat-'o-the-brow, unlike everything else in the law.

Speaking of the privacy torts...intrusion upon seclusion, public disclosure of private facts, false light, and right of publicity. They remind me of a routine on Mexican food by comedian Jim Gaffigan. "It's all the same ingredients," he says.
Describing his time working at a Mexican restaurant:
Customer asks, "What's in the burrito?"
Gaffigan: "Cheese, tortilla, meat or vegetables."
"And what's a quesadilla?"
Gaffigan: "Cheese, tortilla, meat or vegetables."
"How about a tostada?"
Gaffigan: "Cheese, tortilla, meat or vegetables."

These privacy torts are a bit like that: "False statements, injury, malice or intent." Throw defamation in there and you've got a menu.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Sign Language

Yesterday I was at school, waiting in the rotunda for class to start. I was listening to my voice mail on my phone, and one of my profs passed by. I'd been emailing with her earlier in the day, and as she passed she gave me a questioning look and mimed writing with a pen. She was asking, "Did you get my email response?" I nodded and gave her a thumbs-up.

This got me thinking about the evolution of sign language. If I'd been trying to convey that message, I would have fluttered my fingers on an air-keyboard.

Another one: If you were driving a car and you wanted directions from someone stopped at a red light, you'd probably make the old roll-down-your-window gesture. This despite the fact that more and more cars have automatic windows. That seems way more effective than trying to mime someone pressing a window button, right? I wonder if someday people will be wildly pin-wheeling their fist at another car and think, "Jesus, where did this come from?"

Monday, April 09, 2007

On EMI's Move

EMI, one of the "big four" recording giants will offer its music without DMRs on iTunes. Tracks will cost $1.29.

This is old news by now, but I posted a link to this nice analysis on my Cyberlaw class TWEN, and wanted to share it here too.

On An Unrelated Note...

I know (and care) almost nothing about theater, but this article by Charles Isherwood about "Grey Gardens" is positively fascinating.

On the way some American Idol losers, for example, are making it big:
"Maybe this new mood enshrining failure as the new success is related to the last decade or so of dissatisfaction with the country’s ostensible political winners, and the policies they’ve pursued. But it surely reflects a population embarking on the new century with a perhaps not unhealthy dent in its self-esteem." I'm thinking of Al Gore...


"Few will leave the theater thinking: Little Edie Beale, c’est moi! But everyone of a certain age (say 30) has probably lived through a few of those startling moments when you take stock of your life as it is and wonder: How did I get here, exactly? When did the curves come that moved me away from one destiny and toward another? I guess it all must have happened during intermission."

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Argument Killer

Last night I entered a bar in LA and had taken approximately one sip of my drink before I found myself in the middle of a conversation on illegal file-sharing. Someone mentioned that Columbia University was named the worst movie piracy school - my friend and I looked at each other and winced (we're alums), and that's what started the conversation between the three of us. My man in LA works for a talent agency, the other guy is an actor, and I of course represented the legal element. We all began arguing our respective positions, but surprise, surprise, we suddenly found ourselves in perfect agreement: I said the words "subscription-based model!"

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Enter Conflict

It is with great pleasure that I welcome my friend Conflicts of Law to the world of blogging!

Go on, give him a hit.

More On COPA

Just read ACLU v. Gonzales (March 2007), the latest Child Online Protection Act struck down in PA by Judge Reed.

I don't have kids, so I admit my position isn't entirely informed, but this freaks the hell out of me:

"AOL, for example, offers a feature called AOL Guardian, which provides a parent with a report indicating which Web sites a child visited, which sites were blocked, the number of emails and instant messages a child sent, and to whom a child sent email or instant messages. Some of the products, such as Contentwatch's filter, have features that permit parents to monitor their child's Internet activities remotely, for example, while they are at work, and some products even send email alerts to parents when inappropriate material is accessed by a child so that, if a parent so desires, it can supervise their child's Internet activities even when they are not physically with the child."

I agree with Kennedy: "Indeed, perhaps we do the minors of this country harm if First Amendment protections, which they will with age inherit fully, are chipped away in the name of their protection." (Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397).

They referenced a bunch of the plaintiff websites in the case who have sexually explicit sites. Reading the case online, I had a moment of annoyance: Why didn't Westlaw hyperlink these sites? LOL.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Attacking Iran?

I hate to be a fear monger, but is Gulf War II about to expand?

A Russian news service reported that the US is prepared to launch missiles at Iran:

"Russian intelligence has information that the U.S. Armed Forces stationed in the Persian Gulf have nearly completed preparations for a missile strike against Iranian territory," the source said.

I news-googled "ready to strike Iran," and sources from both Canada and Kazakhstan are reporting it...!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Did You Buy a Sony Triniton Remote...?

An amusing chat on my IM with my friend LawyerLike. Definitely check out his post about it too because he's more witty than me. :) Our Gmail chat was off-record, so the following is from memory.

Background: LawyerLike and I were discussing the major purchases he plans to make once he starts his job. He said he was considering a new TV, particularly because his remote is finicky.

LL: I'll hit a button and it will randomly mute the TV!
Me: Whoa!
Mine does the same thing!
Must be a Sony design flaw.
LL: Sony Triniton??
[I grab my remote.]
Me: LMAO, yes!
LL: Number RM-Y116?
Me: Dead on!
LL: This is crazy!
Me: Are you thinkin what I'm thinkin?
LL: Hahahhah.
The only question is who's going to blog about this first...

In conclusion, if anyone else experiences this muting affect from their Sony Trinitron remote, contact me or LawyerLike for a free consultation on whether you qualify for the class.

UPDATE: LL technically won the race to the blog post.