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September 28th, 2010

10:21 pm - ONLY 75 MORE TO GO
I've finished the first two days of actual, real, official law school classes. I have 75 left in the quarter. (And, yes, that number did freak me out because when I first wondered how many days I had left, the first voice I heard in my head was Peter Venkman's going, "Only 75 more to go." After I counted out the days remaining in autumn quarter, Dr. Venkman piped up again: "I was just going to say, 'Eight o'clock?'" And to answer your next question: no, my interior monologue does not solely consist of a set of rotating quotes from Ghostbusters. There are other movies in there, too.)

I only have three classes right now:

1) Contorts which is an integrated class that teaches both Torts and Contracts and is taught by a former mathematics professor turned Yale Law grad. He eschews the Socratic method for more traditional lectures that are an exhaustive blend of history, legal application, modern politics and mathematical formulas (not difficult math, mind you; I think he just wanted to show us that when you're a plaintiff's attorney you're going to have to know how to calculate the damages you'll be seeking). One of the many books assigned for this section is The Law of Torts - Examples and Explanations by Joseph Glannon, the primer I started reading this summer; the one that got me excited to start classes. Unfortunately, it also spoiled me. Glannon's book is so breezy and straight-forward that it makes me want to kick my other casebooks in the crotch.

2) Property which is closer to a traditional law class. We have a seating chart and the professor starts each class by randomly calling on people, but a) the UW has pretty much moved on from the Socratic method, most likely because b) so many of the students want to chime in. I actually got in on the act while we were discussing Moore v. The Regents of UCLA. This was a case about a Seattle man suffering from hairy-cell leukemia who was getting treatment at the UCLA Medical Center. His doctors realized that his cells had some rather unique properties and spent several years extracting all sorts of tissue from him including blood, bone marrow, sperm and his entire spleen (in the doctors' defense, they said the splenectomy was necessary to save Mr. Moore's life). The doctors used those samples -- including tissue from the aforementioned spleen -- to create a line of disease-fighting T-cells which were worth up to $3 billion. Moore sued for a portion of the profits claiming that the medical center stole his property, i.e. his body parts. The California Supreme Court said, "Uh, no. You cannot claim that your body is a piece of property." However, the court also said that the doctors should have told Moore what they were doing with his body parts. The parties settled out of court. Moore was so impressed by his lawyers that he became a legal assistant, but died about a year after the case was settled.

Anyway, the discussion in class brought up many hypotheticals, including one that entertained the idea of Moore trying to sell his spleen and other tissues on his own to the highest-bidding medical center. Should he be allowed to do that? "Of course," I said, "He's just exploiting his own body. It's the same thing that models do."

The entire class laughed. All right! I got a laugh!

"Well," the professor replied, "The model is certainly exploiting his or her likeness."

Oof. The whole "likeness" argument was actually what Moore used in his appellate briefing and the state Supreme Court shot it down. I must have sounded like a freshman women's studies major. Remember, this is law school, not writers' group. I'll think thrice about raising my hand again.

In my spare time, I'm reading The Happy Lawyer because apparently lawyers are chronically depressed and I want to nip that in the bud. One quote in the book, ironically, lifted my mood. "Lawyers, as a group, are more introverted, more doubt-ridden [and] less open about their feelings and less inclined to live in the present than most people." I think I might be built for this after all.

Current Music: Christopher Young - "Drag Me To Hell" - Drag Me To Hell Soundtrack (I swear it came up on random)

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September 23rd, 2010

Today we were trained on how to use Westlaw and Lexis-Nexis (the two big online legal search databases) and I was exposed to what I am sure will be the most interesting case brief that I will ever read no matter how long my legal career might last.

The case was Mayo v. Satan and His Staff.

Next to Cthulhu, Satan is my most favorite evil deity, so the name of the case -- and its potential promises -- obviously caught my eye.

It lived up to my expectations.

In the 1970s, a man from Pennsylvania actually took the time to draft a complaint and spend the court fees to file a suit against Satan and His Staff. Why? Because apparently Satan and his staff (whom are awesomely referred to as "minions" in the complaint) "put obstacles in [Mayo's] path" and -- and -- caused Mayo's "downfall" (which is never fully explained). It's funny enough that this complaint was filed, but even better is that the court decided not to throw it out, but address the legal issues that were raised and publish them.

So what did the court in Pennsylvania find? One: that it did not have proper jurisdiction because Satan lives in Hell [insert obligatory rural-Pennsylvania-is-Hell-joke here] and Two: the rules of civil procedure were not followed because Satan and His Staff were never properly served with the suit. Satan never got the paperwork and therefore couldn't be expected to show up in court. Ha! LAW SUIT FAIL.

I am so glad that this case exists...and so bummed that I read it before classes officially start. What is left for me to discover now?

Current Music: Diplo - "Red Hot Chili Peppers v. Ward 21"

Current Visualization: Linear Diagram Depicting Things That I Am Looking Forward To -- on one end of the diagram is The Social Network (OMG! Sorkin's script was brilliant! David Fincher is one of the best American director's working today! It's totally topical!). On the other end of the diagram is Civil Procedure (omg...it's going to be like learning how to play the world's most boring game of chess...is it possible to commit suicide using a Civ Pro hornbook? I hope so.)

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September 16th, 2010

09:04 pm - FIRST WEEK DONE
My first official week of law school is done. It was only a couple of orientation seminars, but those seminars lasted all day and were both physically and intellectually draining.

The first day's highlight was the convocation, during which the dean said to all of us 1Ls, "A lot of people have said that there are too many lawyers. Well, say that to the woman in a third world country who isn't being paid a living wage. Say that to the mom who's unemployment won't cover the cost of her daughter's eyeglasses." And all I could think was, "Say that there are too many lawyers to the 3L who is about to graduate and has over $100,000 of debt." Many law students (especially up here in Seattle) want to do socially beneficial work -- but we also want need to be solvent.

On the second day we were separated into small groups to have lunch with a group of upperclassmen. We were asked to introduce ourselves and say one interesting thing about our lives. One student said that an interesting thing about himself was that just one week ago he saw somebody get run over by a car. All the 2Ls and 3Ls looked at him and, I swear to God, said in unison, "Due diligence."

"DId you call the cops?" one asked.

"Was he a friend of yours?"

After a few more moments of consultation amongst themselves, the upperclassmen agreed that the 1L wasn't liable for anything and asked the next person to introduce herself.

Current Mood: Excited (honestly)

Current Music: "Central Park" - James Newton Howard - King Kong Soundtrack

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September 9th, 2010

09:52 pm - PERSPECTIVE
I started watching Star Trek (2009) on the Roku while folding laundry today. It was the third time I'd seen the movie, but the first that I actually choked up during the Birth-of-Kirk scene in which his father selflessly rams his ship into a Romulan warbird so that his crew (which includes his wife and just-born child) can safely escape. I thought about how much it would suck if I had to die right when my kid was being born.

And then I remembered how I actually felt when The Daughter was first born.

You hear a lot of men talk about how the moment of their child's birth is one of the most joyful events of their lives.

Crap. Unless you were independently wealthy or completely delusional, I call shenanigans.

At the moment The Daughter was born I was petrified. I had no idea how to pay for her and even less of one of how to actually care for her. I literally ran around the delivery room looking for something to do because... well, I had to do something for my newborn, right? But there was no need. A small army of nurses and in-laws were providing everything that The Daughter needed. I then realized that The Daughter had so many needs that it required a small army of nurses and in-laws to provide for them and that soon this army would be gone and it would just be The Wife and me and I almost started crying just as loud as The Daughter.

I felt a little ashamed at the time, but now I'm pretty sure that what I was going through was perfectly normal.

It took three years for my memory or her birth to be altered. Three years of actual interaction with The Daughter so I would know what I would have been missing if I had to, say, aim a Federation starship toward the bowels of a hostile battle cruiser and miss the experience of seeing my child grow up. Three years for me to get misty at the start of Star Trek (2009).

A case of better-late-than-never? Not exactly. More a case of knowledge. I was worried when she was born because I didn't know how we were going to take care of her. Now I worry because I know how much we like her (even when she's being totally infuriating) and I can't stand the idea of not only losing her, but of never having her in the first place.

I guess that finally makes me a real parent.

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I spent a good part of the day reading a primer on tort laws. I'm actually finding the book to be very interesting and wish I had started it earlier.

I was playing with The Daughter this afternoon and she kicked me and I wondered aloud if she would liable for battery and decided no because she had no intent to inflict harmful contact on me.

"I liked it better when you talked about movies," said The Wife.

True. True.

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August 26th, 2010

02:01 pm - I'M NOT AN ECONOMIST, BUT...
I think that the quickest, easiest way to create jobs is for the federal government to begin some massive Public Works-style construction projects. I don't trust the private sector to create jobs. Why? Because every time a company announces employee layoffs its stock price goes up. Private companies don't care about creating jobs. In fact, they don't want to create jobs. If they could, every CEO in the country would replace his or her labor force with robots. If Obama and the Democrats really want to mitigate their losses in November, they'll go forward with jacking up the taxes on people who make over $250K a year (sorry if you can no longer afford that Saleen, rich person; maybe you could settle for a Bugatti instead?)  and use that revenue to start building a bunch of high-speed rail lines and fancy cultural centers.

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01:50 pm - BODY ALL A TINGLE
Omg, omg, omg, omg, omg, omg, omg, omg! Exactly one week from today is the beginning of College FOOOOBAWWWWWWW!!!!!

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August 16th, 2010

09:51 pm - TOY STORY REDUX
We had a few days of record-breaking heat up here in Seattle, so The Wife and I considered finding solace in air conditioning by taking The Daughter to see Toy Story 3 again. You might recall that she did fairly well the first time she saw the film, but freaked out when the theater began laughing during the scene where Mr. Potato Head breaks out of the daycare by placing all of his features on a tortilla. I actually had to take her out of the theater to give her time to calm down. When we asked The Daughter if she wanted to watch the movie she replied (and this is verbatim), "Yes. But everybody can't laugh when Mr. Potato turns into a quesadilla." We did not go to the movie.

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I was able to catch Scott Pilgrim vs. The World today and thought it was really good (better than Hot Fuzz, but not nearly as great as Shaun of the Dead – of course, will anything ever be as great as that one?). I have to say that Scott Pilgrim is the most movie I’ve seen in awhile (no, that’s not a typo). It was a total visual and aural assault and unlike any other movie I’ve ever seen and, yet, in the film’s most impressive feat, everything feels very tightly controlled and it’s a breeze to follow and understand. I’m also glad that I saw this on the big screen because some of the material that left me reeling in the theater might end up seeming pretty silly on my television.


It should also be noted that Michael Cera does some pretty brave work here. He plays a whiny, inconsiderate jerk for 8/9s of the movie and does so while rocking one of the worst haircuts I’ve seen in a mainstream summer flick (I was quite pleased that they explained the ‘do in the movie because it left me baffled every time I saw a publicity still).


The box office on Scott Pilgrim is also interesting. It opened below expectations, but was the biggest debut of director Edgar Wright’s career and I think, like his earlier work, will find a perpetually expanding audience as the word of mouth gets out.


That said, the funniest part of the movie was the trailer for Jackass 3D. Cannot wait for that one.


Current Music: Sex Bob-Omb – “Death To All Hipsters”

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09:22 pm - OPEN LETTER

Dear St. Louis Cardinals,


After sweeping the Cincinnati Reds last week you found yourself in first place in the National League Central and as summer starts giving way to autumn right in the thick of the playoff hunt. So, basically in the exact same spot you’ve been in for eight of the last ten years.


I am writing you to ask that you please stop. It’s getting old. It’s not because I am a Cubs fan that I feel a twinge of nausea every time I check the standings and see the words “St. Louis” hovering near the top of the division. The nausea comes from the fact that I am a fan of competition and, even more so, variety. In short, St. Louis Cardinals, your continued success is boring. (And if there is one thing baseball should not ever be, it is boring.)


Now, I know that I am supposed to be impressed by your sustained excellence and praise your ownership and your front office for all of the hard work that they’ve done. And yeah, it’s true that all of that is mighty impressive, but it’s also true that after a while sustained excellence becomes kind of douchey (see: New York Yankees).


Let me state again that I don’t want you to step aside just to let the Cubs take over your usual position. There are plenty of teams in the Central Division that I would love to see attain a little glory be it the Brewers, the Pirates or the Reds. But not the Astros. Those guys are dicks.





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