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August 19th, 2011

09:40 am - RANTY RANT
Back in 2004 I thought there were three reasons why somebody would vote Republican: Greed, Bigotry or Ignorance.

Greed because you were rich or you thought you were rich or you operated under the misguided belief that you would one day become rich and would benefit from Bush's taxation policies.

Bigotry because of, you know, Teh Gays.

Ignorance because you never actually educated yourself on the issues; you probably thought that it was predominantly Iraqi terrorists who carried out 9/11.

I could understand and maybe even forgive the people in 2004 who voted for Bush. They were self-serving, bigoted or just didn't know any better.

But these days -- in 2011 -- if you're voting Republican it's because you're a petty, cruel sociopath. If somebody doesn't agree with you you'll change that person's mind via your second amendment rights. You decide that Barack Obama did not become editor-in-chief of the Harvard Law Review because he was literally one of the three or four smartest law students on the planet; no, he got that gig because he was black. And when you say that we need to expand the tax base, what you're really saying is, "Let's tax THE POORS!" You are King John from Robin Hood. How can you not see that? I'll tell you why. Because you don't know yourself. Well, let me explain it to you. You don't hate the government or taxes or regulations. You don't hate the environment or academia or elitism. You hate people -- and you want to make them suffer. Because you're a petty, cruel sociopath. 

Anyway, here's the Daily Kos link to the segment that aired on The Daily Show that got me so riled up.

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January 25th, 2011


I like to ignore whatever film the Academy awards its Oscar for Best Picture because so often I think the film is garbage. I get really annoyed when they give Best Picture to a flick that I have a) seen and b) actually like (see, for examples, Return of the King or Hurt Locker). So I was pleased to see this morning that The King's Speech received the most nominations and is now the presumed frontrunner over The Social Network because I have already seen and enjoyed Social Network and I have no intention ever of seeing King's Speech. Class just started up again, gotta run.

Also, I finally put up some new pictures up at the Flickr page -- The Daughter's birthday party from last month. Enjoy!

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December 5th, 2010

09:43 pm - QUICK THOUGHT
As much as people love to bag on Jared Leto, it bears remembering that he was in three of the most important works of American film-television of the 90's and early aughts: My So-Called Life, Fight Club and Requiem for a Dream.

That said, 30 Seconds to Mars still sucks.

Current Justification: The Wife is in the other room watching Requiem and I can hear the Clint Mansell score that has been immoralized in a thousand movie trailers, commercials and Youtube clips and it's making me think about things other than legal writing (for which I am grateful).

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08:06 pm - MERRY CHRISTMAS -- POW!
I am alone in the playroom working on this stupid legal writing memo that has been killing me for the last two weeks.  I'll be up into the wee hours.  My first exam is a week from tomorrow for a class that I haven't even started outlining for (it only counts for 10% of my grade -- but still!).  Cinemagic is now playing music from The Shining and its ear-shredding atonal blasts have never sounded more appropriate.

(The title of this post, if anyone is curious, is from a Time magazine cover story about all of the violent movies that were being released around the holidays in 1971.)

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November 2nd, 2010

I was going to try and stay disinterested in the election today because a) the results are most likely going to be very depressing and b) I ain't got time for that s*** -- not with thirty-five oages of torts reading staring me down.

But then...

Someone in my property class, call him Bill, said he hadn't filled out his ballot yet (in Washington all voting is done by mail and they can be postmarked as late as today) and so I urged him to vote for the state initiative that creates a state income tax on individuals making more than $200,000 a year and households making more than $400,000 a year. Someone sitting next to Bill, call him Jon, piped up: "Oh, that's a slippery slope, first they'll tax those people and then -- " I didn't let him finish, cutting him off with a raised voice that drew the attention of my other classmates. I didn't care.. The stupidity of the slippery slope argument is so stupid that it had to be called out.

Many people think that if our state imposes an income tax on rich people now, eventually that tax will slide down the income tax bracket and affect them (and by them I mean the people who are making this idiotic argument). This argument can be defeated by one simple word: "How?" How will the state approve new taxes? By the initiative process (as is being done currently)? That's laughable. If there's an initiative that says, "Everybody making $50,000 a year or more will have an income taxed imposed upon them," would go down 90% to 5%. Maybe you're afraid teh state legislature would impose an income tax on middle-class families. Sorry, no. State legislatures like to get re-elected. There would be no income tax coming from Olympia. In short, your slippery slope argument is invalid because there is no slope on which to slide.

"Jon," I said, "Why are you really opposing this initiative? It wouldn't affect you."

"It would if I won the Tournament," by which he meant the World Series of Poker Tournament -- Jon used to be a professional poker player. I nodded at him and said, "Oh I see. You're looking out for your own self-interests. I understand that."

But what I was thinking was, you f****** idiot. You're not going to win the World Series of Poker. If you were that good of a poker player, you would not be at law school. Now, I've looked up your stats on Google and see that you've won over $175,000 playign cards. Holy cow! That's a lot of money. But even if you won all of that money in one year (which you didn't; it took you several years to accrue that amount), you STILL wouldn't be affected by the proposed state income tax! Look, you are not going to make $400,000 playing poker (I use $400,000 because Jon has a wife and two kids). Even if you get a big law job after graduating (which is doubtful) you won't be making $400,000 a year -- probably not even if you make partner (which again, would be several years down the line).

Then I turned to Bill whose unfilled ballot prompted this whole discussion. "Well, you should vote for the initiative, " I told him.

"He;s going to scare you now, Bill," interjected Jon, "He's going to scare you by telling you that if you don't vote for it schools will shut down and teachers will lose their jobs. There will be no teachers. No teachers, Bill! Is that what you want!?" This sarcasm was referring to the fact that the money raised by the state income tax would fund public schools. Now, I'm not sure if Jon has noticed, but our state is suffering a bit of a budget crisis and services are being cut. And some of those services are being cut from our schools. But don't take my word for it -- no, wait. Do take my word for it. When I was running my SAT prep business I was in contact with a number of counselors at neighboring public high schools. One autumn when I try to call them up to remind them who I was and what services I offered I was told that those counselors no longer worked at the schools. Why? There positions had been eliminated due to budget cuts. Psshh, you say. Those are just counselors. Well, at Ballard High and at Ingraham High they also eliminated one teacher position a piece. So, yeah, we're already losing teachers. And did I mention that Jon has two children both under the age of six? I wonder what the student-teacher ratio will be by the time they get to high school.

Jon laid out his final argument: "This is just class warfare. Wouldn't you admit that?"

"Yes!" I nearly shrieked, "It IS class warfare and we've been getting our asses kicked for the last 30 years. It's about time we fight back."

Why poor and middle-class people vote against their own interests to fatten the wallets of a few mega-rich people -- people that they will never meet and who will never give them a job -- is beyond my comprehension. I've always liked to be politically involved and do my part, but at this point, I'm done. The American electorate is too stupid to be worth saving.

(Apologies for any typos -- I'm dashing this off between classes)

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October 18th, 2010

08:25 am - IT HAPPENED
On Friday night we watched How To Train Your Dragon.

Holy crap, this movie is beautiful.

It looks and sounds gorgeous and you should watch it just to be awed by the technical mastery on display.

Even better is the fact that the script is equal to the sound and image. The movie is a perfect example of the gold standard that big-budget Hollywood movies can achieve.

But none of that is why I love this movie.

I love this movie because it gave The Daughter her first, true-blue cinematic freak-out experience.

You remember the first movie that melted your brain down to its component parts and then reassembled them so that you were no longer the same person you were previously? It was Star Wars for me (and every other film geek of my generation). For The Daughter: How To Train Your Dragon.

She had been aware of the film for months because I...um...procured the score when it was released last March and played it pretty consistently while doing the stay-at-home-dad thing. So, when we got the Blu-ray in the mail we made watching it into an event; built a fire, popped popcorn and sat down as a family on the couch to watch the film.

The Daughter has seen plenty of movies before. We've even taken her to the theater (Toy Story 3). Now, while she's watched movies, she's never really been totally into them. After a little while she'll get restless and want to walk around before settling back into her seat. Even Toy Story 3 saw us take a little stroll around the lobby about 2/3 of the way through so she could catch her breath.

Not true for How To Train Your Dragon. She sat on The Wife's lap, back straight, eyes wide and fingers interlaced as if she was praying for the entire running time of the film (by the way, longer than any of the Toy Story flicks). And then...

...to go back to Star Wars, one of the greatest third-act moments in film is when Han Solo appears out of nowhere and blasts a TIE-fighter to smithereens an instant before Darth Vader is going to vaporize Luke Skywalker. It brings down the house.

Anyway, there's a similar moment during the third act of Dragon and when it happened, The Daughter very authoritatively spoke out loud, "That looks like fun." Melted my heart.

She remained in her position on The Wife's lap for the remainder of the film and when it was over she went quietly to bed. She was emotionally exhausted. The Wife understood why. "That was like watching Helm's Deep for an hour-and-a-half," she said referencing The Two Towers (although, now that I think about it, the Helm's Deep sequence may have actually lasted 90 minutes).

The Daughter was sound asleep, but I was electrified. Charged by the change I had seen occur in her.

In other news, The Daughter achieved the status of being fully potty trained this week. Still not as cool as her adoration of How To Train Your Dragon.

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October 6th, 2010

09:43 pm - THE FLAG FLIES
After my first week of law school I suspected that my professor in contorts (a class that integrates torts and contracts) was somewhat of a pop-culture geek. He would make comments that sounded to me like sly references to Doctor Who or Hammer horror films. Today he dropped any pretense and just let the geekery hang out there.

He was lecturing on the mathematics behind res ipsa loquitur and criminal cases (did I mention he was mathematician by trade before attending law school?) and mentioned that there is one strand of Bayesian probability that states that once a murder has occurred everybody in the world becomes a probable suspect.

"Once a human being has been murdered," he told us, "There is a one in seven billion chance that you are the murderer. Unless you are a Vulcan. Of course, Vulcan was destroyed. So if a Vulcan was murdered there's only a one in about six hundred chance that you're the killer. I think they saved about six hundred Vulcans. Of course it also depends on which timeline you're in."

I don't know if it's funnier that he actually went off on this digression or that the majority of the class was able to follow him.

Current Music: Mark Ronson featuring Q-Tip and MDNR - "Bang Bang Bang"

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October 4th, 2010

09:29 pm - IT TOOK ONE WEEK
Only one week until the first student in my group began surfing the web during class instead of paying attention to the lecture. To be fair, she was doing it during Contorts which, unlike traditional law school classes, consists of just a lecture with the professor answering students' questions as they arise, so you don't have to be as alert. What really distracted me, though, is that she was looking up a lot of college football stuff and I desperately wanted to read what she was reading.

Quote of the Week: "I hate grading on a curve because it doesn't prove how good you really are. It's like if you are in a group of people running away from a bear. You only have to be faster than the slowest person in the group. That doesn't mean you're a good runner."
--My Legal Analysis professor

Current Music: The Social Network Soundtrack

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September 30th, 2010

It's really quite satisfying when a professor reads something aloud from the casebook that you've already underlined.

Current Reading: Roe v. Wade

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September 29th, 2010

Just had my first legal analysis class and the "scare you to death" aspect of the first year of law school just kicked in when I realized how insane the workload is about to become. If someone could please let The Wife know that I look forward to seeing her around Christmastime that would be great. Bye!

Current Training: Westlaw Next

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