Friday, December 29, 2006

La Cosa Ultima

I have two quick recommendations for those who appreciate good stories.

1--Stephen King's It. I finally finished it. Excellent book; long, but worth it (mostly). It's a book about defeating your fears by facing them. In fact, you kind of have to face your fears just to finish the book. (I had two: fear of crazy long books and fear of clowns.) Borrow it from the library.

2--The movie The Last Kiss. It stars Zach Braff, Rachel Bilson, and Jacinda Barrett.* It's a great story about growing up that realizes that 30 is the new 20. Perfect for the children of Baby Boomers who think that life has to be full of surprises to be worthwhile. Anyway--rent it from Blockbuster.

*I had no idea she was Australian. I love Brits and Aussies who can do an American accent. It blows my mind.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Gospel According to Stephen

Stephen King, that is. Not the fabled martyr mentioned in Acts 7. Some of you who have followed my "reviews" of books as I read them may think that either (a) law school has one and I've stopped reading or (b) I want law school to think it has one and am keeping my reading a secret. Well, the truth is, I've been reading Stephen King's It now for what seems like 18 years. It's only 1,135 pages long. The longest book I've ever read for fun. (It takes awhile when you can only read 5 or 10 pages a night, eh?)

Anyway--I was reading last night, and I had a thought. Could Stephen King be preaching something similar to the Gospel through this novel? Essentially, faith is power. Anyway, I'll think about it more and get back to you. But I thought my co-blogger CP would be interested in this developing theory of religion and Stephen King.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Just for the Big CP

One of my fellow B(L)Sers has posited this question: What do you believe? What a loaded question. Here's my attempt to break down my beliefs into discussable nuggets:

Tenet 1 - Nobody is absolutely right. God is too great a mystery to be understood completely by anyone or by any conglomerate of people. Even if you put every single person who ever lived in the same room and held a stinkin huge debate, you would still never get to the absolute bottom of who/what God is and who/what we are.

Tenet 2 - God is. It is more illogical to claim that there is no god than to claim that there is. Consider Descartes's logic, or what is sometimes called the "prime mover" argument (or something like that). Essentially, it argues that everything comes from something else. But if that's true (and almost undeniably it is), then the world cannot exist. Somewhere back in the shrouds of the past (4.6 billion years ago?) the Universe began. If the Universe began, then it had to come from something else. But what? The easiest and best answer is God, or at least some greater power.

Tenet 3 - God is not subject to logic. We see in the Christian Bible and most religious traditions that God/gods are not subject to physical laws. By analogy then, God/gods is not subject to the laws of logic.* For example, it is claimed that in certain situations, A cannot be both A and B at the same time. A dog cannot be a cat, say. But the Gospels claim (and many, many Christians believe) that Jesus is God and that Jesus is the Word of God. How can Jesus (person A) be God (person B) and the "word" of person B all at the same time? It's illogical! Precisely. It is absolutely futile to defend religion on logical grounds. It would be just as futile to defend the law of conservation of energy by referring to your experience driving. It doesn't work because science is not** subject to the laws of faith, just as religion is not subject to the laws of logic. Different realms, different ways of thinking.

Tenet 4 - Religion is nothing more or less than a way of explaining things we collectively don't understand. Religion in this sense includes science. For example, I don't understand why my television lights up when I press the power button on my remote. The answer--well it has something to do with the emission of light waves, the transfer of electrons, and the transmission of messages by pulses. I don't get it (nor, incidentally, does any scientist I know of), but I could explain it by reference to physical laws we've developed as explanations of how things work. I could just as easily claim that by pressing the power button, I am praying to God to turn my TV on and that each time he answers me because of my faith. Both answers are logically irrefutable by a third party.

At this point, we start getting into my specific beliefs. I was raised the Baptist son of a confused feminist. So here goes: I believe that there is a god, that the Judeo-Christian God most closely approximates the true God. I believe that all of us have sinned (forgotten who God is and who we are in relation to that) and deserve the worst punishment possible. I believe that the only way out of that punishment is God's grace and forgiveness in accepting our faith.*** I also believe that the fundamental commands of Christianity are love of God and love of neighbor. Once you get past that, you start getting into controversy that I am unprepared to discuss. But I'll gladly do it anyway. (:

Any questions?

* NOTE--Tenet 2 follows a syllogism not because God is bound by it but because we as humans are, just like we are bound by physical laws.

**But it actually is. Descartes himself (yes, the progenitor of numerous math things that begin with "Cartesian" or "Descartes's") asked how we really know that 2+2=4. He referred to it as "prima facie knowledge." That is, we know it because we know it. Do you buy that? Do you trust anything else just on intuition? You should: there's not enough information in the world to be satisfied of any proposition on empirical evidence alone.

***Faith in what? I think it's faith that God exists, that I can't do anything worthwhile on my own, and that I can't set things right with him on my own. It's faith that I'm not enough even though it seems like I might be.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Giant spiders

We got grades back in Property yesterday. Go here for the spread.

Sometimes, you feel like the Cleveland Spiders. In the single worst season ever played (modern era or pre), the 1899 Cleveland Spiders played a 20-134 season. Cleveland didn't even want to see them (they only played 42 of their 154 games at home). They set a record that will probably never be touched: 101 losses on the road in one season.

But sometimes you feel like the 1916 New York Giants*, who pulled off a nigh-unimaginable 26-game winning streak in September to pull themselves from fourth place to first, taking the pennant. I wish I felt like the Giants.

What am I saying? I'm saying that law school, if nothing else, teaches you how to lose.

* This is a reference to the classic baseball team better known now as the San Francisco Giants, not the football team.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Law school changes you . . .

Nobody ever asks me what I did before law school, but I thought I'd let you know anyway. I used my inhumanly long arms to unclog choking dolphins' airways. That's me in the middle during my last visit to Sea World Beijing.

The Female of the Species Is Deadlier Than the Male

So I'm reading for criminal law when I come across these startling statistics. In 1984, 90% of female homicide victims were killed by men, and 1/3 were known to have been killed by their husbands or boyfriends (not counting the unknowns!). I don't want to take away from that statistic's power, but I want to point out that in most movies (that I've seen) involving murder and adultery, it is the wife murdering the hussy or vice-versa. As an example, right now, on ABC's Ugly Betty, one of the background plots involves the hussy planning to kill the husband. (It's actually not revealed yet, but that's this seasoned TV viewer's theory.) Why is Hollywood so backward on this?

Does anybody have any thoughts?

By the way, put this in your box of horrible, misguided, and confused quotes that make you so glad to be living in the 21st century (especially if you're like me and love strong women):

Jealousy is the rage of a man, and adultery is the highest invasion of property.*

What? I would hate a wife who viewed herself as my property. (And I'm not talking in the touchy-feely, end-of-Breakfast at Tiffany's kinda way.) I just like women who respect themselves and men who respect women. No baby factories for me.

* Regina v. Mawgridge [1707] Kel. 1, 117, reprinted in 84 Eng. Rep. 1107

Monday, December 11, 2006

Freaky Big Town/Small City Hypothesis

DISCLAIMER - I have lived all but 5 of my 23 years deep in the heart of Texas, and I have not died a gruesome death yet. Waco is a wonderful place to live (maybe).

I'm reading Stephen King's It*, and I'm developing a theory. I call this the Freaky Big Town/Small City Hypothesis. It has only one theorem: Waco = Derry. Why am I developing this theory? Allow me to enumerate:

- Waco We Do
- David Koresh
- the 1953 tornado
- fiery plane crashes with surprisingly scary pictures
- Republican President represented by a Democratic Congressman
- The First Waco Horror (TSHA, Waco History Project, NAACP, NPR)
- the Lake Waco murders
- Queso the Cat
- the NoZe Brotherhood
- Toad-biting dog dies
- the flypaper effect (e.g., my parents and my wife's parents have absolutely no connections to Waco prior to being transferred here by their employers; now they've stuck around for over 20 years each)
- Waco's Enron
- Finally--a Waco lawyer named Scott Peterson

Now--remember my disclaimer. I grew up in Waco and I haven't noticed anything like Derry's vigintiseptennial horror (that's what King should have called It)--but then again, I'm only 23.

I'm thinking about writing Waco's third true crime novel (after The First Waco Horror and Careless Whispers, both linked to above at their sales pages). I plan to call it: "Waco: We Ain't Comin' Out . . . Alive." If you have any stories about voices coming out of drains or photographs winking or clowns with balloons that float against the wind or even a plain old ghost story, I'd love to hear it. Post it in my comments. I may give you co-author status if it's a good enough story.

* Still.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Below Reality

Last night, my wife and I went to see Brian Littrell. Yes, that Brian Littrell, the former Backstreet Boy. He's on a short Christmas concert tour with Rebecca St. James and her brothers right now. It started Thursday night in Abilene, came to Waco for Friday night, then up to somewhere in Illinois tonight and then off to Virginia to wrap it up. All small towns.

Anyway, my wife was a big fan of the Backstreet Boys when she was younger (to her credit, she was no poseur: she was into Dashboard Confessional and Good Charlotte even before she went on Warped Tour). The concert was at Victorious Life Church, off I-35. I was impressed with Mr. Littrell's entertaining ability and even more impressed when he quasi-parodied his old songs--and none of the girls in the audience caught on. That's quality parody skills.

Well, the highlight of the night happened while I and about 50 girls under 25 (my wife included) waited expectantly in the 12° weather outside the bus hoping to catch a glimpse as he boarded. Instead, as they all looked toward the door from the church (I, for some reason, was looking at the bus itself), a white car pulled up around the bus, stopped, Mr. Littrell got out and ran up to about 3 feet from me. I glanced over at him and thought "How many roadies do these people have?" Then he called out "Hey y'all! God bless you and merry Christmas!" before running back to his getaway car and driving off into the Arctic Central Texan night. They were all disappointed, but I, yes I the kid who learned the guitar to all the Smashing Pumpkins, Alice in Chains, and Weezer songs he could, stood next to Brian Littrell for a few seconds, the object of much jealousy from former teeny boppers.

It was all very surreal.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Day of Bad Fruit

Remember e. coli and Attack of the Killer Tomatoes? Nature's next act of vengeance against Americans is the Day of Bad Fruit. Yesterday, my friend had a mealy apple and a bland orange; my wife had a bitter grapefruit; I had a pithy, tasteless apple. What's the deal? Did anybody else have bad fruit yesterday?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Speaking of blind men...

For those of you who are fans of both philosophy in general and Wittgenstein, check this out:

Philosophy is a blind man in a completely dark room chasing a black cat who doesn't exist.

My old pastor shared that quote with me. Some professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. OK, I broke my promise. But you have no claim for promissory estoppel against me.

Making Amends

Sunday evening, I got a call from my mom that my grandfather (my dad's dad) passed away. We've been somewhat expecting this for over a year now, but it was surprising all the same. I didn't know him very well, since he lived in Missouri and I have always lived in Texas, but I knew him better maybe than my other two grandfathers.

Death, in a way, fascinates me. It begs the question--what is life? When the stuff with Terri Schiavo was going on, people discussed a lot about what life is and when death comes. Is it when the heart stops beating? the brain stops waving? the personality withers? the soul departs?

My grandfather had been cold for a day or so. My grandmother was warming his blankets in the microwave Sunday afternoon. When she came back, he was gone. The night before, they might have talked about my cousins or the weather or some friends. Now, there is nothing to talk about. My father has been trying desperately for several years to hang on to whatever relationship he and his father had. Now, there is nothing to hold onto. My brother has been bitter toward my dad's parents since I was in junior high. Now, forgiveness in the interpersonal sense is too late; he can only let his own hurt and bitterness go without ever knowing what kind of relationship he could have had. There are so many things my grandfather will never know or experience. He'll never see my nephew grow up. When I graduated college, he was so proud; but he'll never get to see my graduate law school. He'll never see my brother licensed as a master plumber. He'll never see the Royals make it to another World Series or the Chiefs make it to the Super Bowl. He'll never know if Bill Ford's successor will do any good or get the retirees their good health benefits back. He and my grandmother supported the ACLJ and probably against gay marriage. Now he'll never see what'll happen with that.

I guess what I'm trying to say is this: although it's cliché, life is short and death is unexpected. One day you're playing bridge and complaining about the company taking away your prescription drug coverage; the next day you don't even need prescription drugs. Life's too short to hurry. Suck the marrow out of life.

I promise: next post, less philosophizing.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

You heard it hear first

Yesterday, Plano and I took it to the mat in ping pong. We only had time to play twice before Contracts started, but the scores were 26-24 and 25-23. We each won one game. And that's the Plano Truth.

Did her hair grow 18 inches overnight?

Plano keeps telling me to post. Here you go, sir. If this post sucks, it's not my fault.

Startling news: Milwaukee has pants. Yee has started a blog. She's got a cool Chinese husband (his parents were born there I think), though I've never spoken to him. Oh--and although I'm at the bottom of her list of links, I was one of the first three. Man I love this whole name-starting-with-an-A deal: you're first in line for everything! Finally, What Not to Wear has been on for 25 minutes and they've just now gotten rid of all her old clothes. Is that normal?

Has anybody seen the classic Dead Poets' Society? If you haven't, stop immediately and go watch it. Anyway, Robin Williams plays a once-rebellious boarding school student who returns to his alma mater to teach English. The key thing he tries to teach his students is how to suck the marrow out of life. I've been trying to figure out exactly what that means.

Here's my theory today: whatever you're doing, do it with everything you've got. There are religious reasons for doing so, but I think the most fundamental reason to do so is because that's how you know you're alive. Don't just be, do. Take control of your life. Read Contracts because you want to; volunteer in Criminal Law even though you know you're probably wrong; stand on your desk and tell the world "O Captain my Captain!"

Last bit of interesting news. 25 points to anybody who can guess the only baseball team to ever play a game in shorts ('80s style hot pants, no less). Give up? Milwaukee's Chisox*. How ironic.

*Note--Milwaukee tells me he's from the northside and hence a Cubs fan. It's fitting, but not nearly as ironic. The Cubs never played in shorts.

Monday, November 20, 2006


One more word about embarrassment; then I'm through.

If you are or were a law student at any law school practicing the beloved Socratic method, then you have been embarrassed. Maybe your embarrassment is of the academic variety (think of the painful, wrenching birth pangs as we all watched Milwaukee struggle with who bears the burden of persuasion at summary judgment), or maybe it's of the social variety (remember when Prof. Property answered property questions that popped up on Swanburg's blog?). The bottom line is, law school = embarrassment. God knows I've been embarrassed too many times since I started law school. Because law school = embarrassment, you don't get sympathy for embarrassment in law school any more than you get sympathy for being a law student. Nobody feels bad for you because your pain is nothing special. In fact, I've noticed that I'll say something stupid in class and mention it later on to my friends, and they weren't even paying attention.* When you get no sympathy for your embarrassment, you get mad. I say: get over it. Milwaukee's still alive. Swanburg's still alive. I'm still alive. You may get some empathy, but there will be no sympathy.

*Ed. Note - All of my friends always pay attention to the professors. They zone out, however, whenever I talk.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Coyote Ugly Gate

I wanted to throw my two cents into the ring of the latest Baylor blogosphere controversy: Coyote-Uglygate. I just want to say this: embarrassment is par for the course in law school. I've talked to lawyers who graduated from Vanderbilt, the University of Texas, Baylor (1970s and 1990s), Mississippi College, South Texas, SMU, and Tech. I've read blogs and a book or two about other lawyers' experiences at law school. Embarrassment is the only discipline professors have. You can't do anything else to smart people: you can only prove (repeatedly) that they are not as smart as they think they are. There will always be somebody smarter than you. If I've learned nothing else in my quarter of law school, I've learned that.

To Mssrs. Ugly: If you want to be coddled and to reminded of your glory days of college (or high school), drop out of law school and become a teacher. There's a shortage of them, they get paid well, and their students revere them as god(desse)s, if only because of their position.*

*Ed. note: This post is not meant to suggest that the whiners in Coyote Ugly should join the noble profession of teaching; nor is it meant to disparage that profession in any way. Unfortunately, it is undeniable that certain teachers (we've all had them and, indeed, some may teach at Baylor Law) joined the profession solely for the purpose of being worshiped. Many teachers are justly revered for their ability, but far too many are revered only for their power.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Logic and Religion

In light of my recent post, I thought I'd drop a quick quote from the Book of Job. Think about it. It might make you think twice about logic and religion:

[God] captures the wise by their own shrewdness, and the advice of the cunning is quickly thwarted.

- Job 5:13

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I strapped on one horse and prayed for luck

There's an idea I've been thinking about for a few months and, once again, I've been too slow. Philanthropreneurs are taking over charity work. The idea is that you do good while making a profit. I'm not exactly sure how to go about it, but philanthropreneurs treat charity as an investment. What do you think? I think it's an excellent idea. But then I get sick of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center calling to ask if I want to buy magazine subscriptions.

Anyway--I thought of it first. Oh well.

Monday, November 13, 2006

I'm standing on the rooftop, ready to fall

There is an article in this week's Newsweek called "The Case Against Faith," by Sam Harris, author of Letter to a Christian Nation and The End of Faith. This is my attempted rebuttal to his reasoning.

I have done a lot of studying, reading, and thinking about the mix of religion and politics, and I will be the first to tell you that, although I don't have an answer, to say that the two should never mix is worse than an ad hoc system. What is religion? Religion is simply a way of explaining things. (Incidentally, science, in its own way, is a form of religion.) Religion defines who we are, and that is very important to what we do. I am an American, a husband, a Baptist, a law student, a reader, a college graduate, a native Wacoan, an accountant's son. Why should any one of these have any less influence on who I am and what I do than the rest? I posit that none of those even can have any less influence than any of the rest and any of the millions of the other identities that make up who I am. To argue that those "with" religious beliefs should keep those beliefs separate from their political duties is frivolous. You cannot separate who you are from what you do from why you do it, even if you don't know exactly any of those. So, any argument that politics and religion should be separate is hopeless.

Mr. Harris, in his article, states
Speaking to a small group of supporters in 1999, Bush reportedly said, 'I believe God wants me to be president.' Believing that God has delivered you unto the presidency really seems to entail the belief that you cannot make any catastrophic mistakes while in office.
This represents a misunderstanding of the Christian idea of calling, but I won't go too deeply into that. It's rather boring to non-Christians who don't care to understand. Basically, I believe God called me to be a lawyer, but I may make "catastrophic mistakes" as a lawyer. The most important thing to remember is that you will not be perfect at what you do but that you will be used for some purpose of God's. Mr. Harris (and many others) don't get that. For a deeper study of the concept, look at the Old Testament books of 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, and 1 & 2 Chronicles. Many kings in those books were called of God to be king but made catastrophic mistakes "while in office."

Does that excuse what Bush has done? By no means. But to blame Bush's mistakes on his religion per se and say that anyone who thinks God has called her to be president should be barred from office is to misunderstand the concept of Christian calling.

Finally, Mr. Harris's biggest blunder of all:
[W]e are living in a world in which millions of grown men and women can rationalize the violent sacrifice of their own children by recourse to fairy tales.
Regardless of to which "fairy tales" Mr. Harris is referring, the diction he chooses clearly evinces a disrespect for the beliefs and understandings of those with whom he disagrees. Although I disagree with Mr. Harris's beliefs and do not think them logically tenable (what I know of them), I refuse to belittle his (hopefully) hard-wrought and hard-thought beliefs by calling them "fairy tales" or "mumbo jumbo" or any other mocking term. Mr. Harris has his evidentiary threshold, and I have mine. His are higher in some areas; mine in others. In sum, atheists should not sit too high on their horses; no one knows better how far it is to fall than a Western Christian.

By the way, faithful readers, if any would like to debate the intellectuality of Christianity or religion in general, or even the intersection of faith and reason, I'm ready when you are.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Poor Bialy. What a loser.

Last night, I finished reading Stephen King's 1989 novel, The Dark Half. It's a fascinating book about a writer dealing with his murderous pseudonymous alter ego. Yet that description doesn't really do the novel justice. "Dealing" ought to be "dueling," and "alter ego" might more properly be rendered "ghost of his never-existent twin brother." But that's just confusing. Read it anyway. I wouldn't really call the book scary (at least not like The Dark Thirty, which still gives me chills); I would call it psychological in the most thrilling sense of the word.

You know the difference between classic, good, and crappy books? You finish a crappy book saying "Wha--???", then you put it down and never think about it again. You finish a good book saying "Wha--???" and spend the next few days trying to figure out exactly what happened. (If you're like me, you look for anything on the internet that will tell you what really happened.) Finally, you finish a classic saying "Wha--???" and spend the rest of your life trying to figure out exactly what happened.

We've all read crappy books. I won't embarrass the writers (or risk libel) by naming them. Examples of good books include Scott Turow's Reversible Errors or John Grisham's The King of Torts. The best example of a classic is John Steinbeck's East of Eden. (If you haven't read that, you can hardly say that you know how to read.)

The Dark Half falls squarely into the good book category. Since I took a creative writing class in college, I read books with an eye toward literary innovation and creativity, in addition to the pure enjoyability of a book. The Dark Half is creative and enjoyable, if not innovative (at least not like Carrie). I highly recommend it.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Make a real decision, pansy

Lately, in my spare time, I've been reading a lot of cases from around the country on various topics (torts, criminal law, contracts, and property mostly; I gave up my civ pro habit), and I have come to a startling conclusion. No appellate judge ever really decides anything.

Here's why: almost every time I read a "significant" case, the judge will go on and on about something, and then they'll say that none of it matters. I recently read a case from Oklahoma where the judge said "The State concedes that defendant's act was not an actus reus." Then (guess what) the State lost. Hmm. Crime = actus reus + mens rea. If you take either of those elements out, then there is no crime. "The State concedes that it hasn't proven all its elements." Thus, no real decision that means anything by the Supreme Court of Oklahoma (Court of Criminal Appeals, actually).

I read a case in civil procedure where the Supreme Court (not of Oklahoma, but of the United freakin States) goes on and on and on about how important it is that the losers conceded this point at oral argument. Then in the notes after the case, the textbook reprinted part of the record of the oral arguments, and I tell you what, I'm no Supreme Court justice, but it sure didn't sound like a concession to me. Sounded more like "I don't want to make a real decision, so we'll just pretend that the guy I want to lose conceded the most crucial point. Bwahahaha."

Talk about a decision in search of a rationale.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


From People v. Grant, 46 Ill. App. 3d 125, 360 N.E.2d 809 (1977):

“Suddenly, the defendant burst through the crowd, and, using a parking meter for leverage, he leaped into the air, striking Officer Raymond Vonderahe twice in the face.”

Does that remind anybody else of TMNT 2: The Arcade Game?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

One Angry Dwarf

Yesterday, my wife and I were going to eat at Chik-Fil-A in the mall, and I ran into a guy who used to pick on me in junior high . . . working behind the counter. Granted, I was the kid who buttoned his (Texas Rangers) polo shirts up to the neck and who wore glasses thicker than his ears. Granted further that he is now a "team leader." Granted finally that I, too, have worked in fast food and believe that every citizen of the United States of America should work at least six months in fast food. Still, it was sweet justice. At least, the potentiality of sweet justice.

Did I ever tell you about the time that I read about another guy who used to pick on me who got arrested for meth? Q.E.D.

Extra points for anybody who can guess where the post title comes from.

Peeking Out

Hi. This is me poking my head out from my hiding place on the 13th floor of the Alico Building. I'm just making sure that while I've been studying for (and taking) exams, the world has continued turning. Good to see it is.

"As they're doing the atomic bomb, do they know where the dance comes from?"

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

World Series #0

So I've been reading Justin's countdown of the top World Series and Stepbaker's addition to it, and I noticed that they forgot the most influential World Series of our lifetimes. This particular World Series defined me as a sports fan and continues to impact my views on many, many things.

It all began on August 12, 1994. That night, Baseball Tonight showed a clip saying that John Kruk would be missing out on $13,000+ per game he didn't play. I sat with my fingers crossed over the next six weeks hoping against hope that somehow the players and the owners would get together and figure it out. I watched as people debated the future of Cal's consecutive-game streak. As a Rangers fan, I hoped and hoped and hoped that the season would get pulled together in time for the Rangers to win it all. You may remember that as the year the Rangers topped the AL West at ten games under .500. Then, sometime in mid-September, nobody called anybody's bluff, and the season was over.

The strike lasted until April 2, 1995. The 1995 season lost 18 games.

Baseball--you had me at hello, and then you sold me out because $13,000 per game wasn't enough. Within the next couple of years, all my interest in all sports (football, basketball, hockey, soccer) faded as I realized that nobody was any different. Now, I don't watch sports at all, except to check my alma maters' scores. Occasionally, I'll look up an old classmate of mine who plays for the Pirates, but it's not the same.

The World Series of 1994 - The Rangers declared winners by default.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

We'll find bodies you didn't know you hid

Apparently, Professor Osler has powers beyond comprehension. A few days ago, he asked his student readers to whine with purpose on his blog and received, as of this morning, 70 comments. One of the earlier comments was by a 1L who said that s/he was scared to death of Practice Court and that it'd be great if somehow we could keep the fear to a minimum before we actually get there. Here's where Osler's powers (as a former federal prosecutor?) come in: he takes a seemingly solutionless problem and gnaws at it like a squirrel with an acorn. Consider:

Prof. P.C. spent some time slummin yesterday in the student lounge. I talked to him for a few minutes and (not knowing) asked what he taught. As nonchalantly as an elementary school teacher saying "third grade," he said "Practice Court." Like it was nothing. Like it was just another class you take in law school. Like it wasn't the class that separates the Marine Corps of Law Schools from those pretend law schools up and down I-35. We continued to talk about how his kids go to my high school and how he was doing the concession stand at last night's football game. One of the gods of Practice Court stepped down momentarily from Olympus. Maybe to examine what meat will be coming in a couple years? Anyway, my fear of P.C. has now been reduced to its minimum* because of this encounter.

*"Minimum" here should be defined broadly to include any fear shy of the fear of death, e.g., I am scared to a coma by practice court, or I am scared to blindness of practice court.-Ed.

Friday, October 20, 2006

My Third Attempt

Osler's in Alpine.
I once went to Marathon.
Beautiful night skies.

Did you see Marfa?
Crazy unknown lights out there.
I think it's Martians.

Go to Osler's blog for funnier ones.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


You may (but don't have to) notice that I have added links over to the right. These are all the Baylor Law blogs that I read regularly. If you think I read yours regularly but haven't posted a link, then let me know, and I'll take it under advisement.

Also--if there are any that I have left out, let me know. We are making a valiant community effort at being a community, and I want to contribute to that. Légalité, société, et liberté.

Viva la democracía!

Women and the Objective Theory of Intent

A friend of mine, whom we will call "Milwaukee" to protect the innocent, read my last post and said "Mr. Masten, I'm glad you have time to read for fun." I believe you have time for what you want to have time for. If anybody ever tells you, "Man, I'd really like to do ______, but I just don't have time." Don't believe them. They are lying through their teeth. They don't want to do it. Ask any pastor, and he will confirm for you.

On the other hand, if you ask a girl out, and she says "I really don't have time for a boyfriend right now," she's not telling you that she doesn't want a boyfriend. She's saying she doesn't want you as her boyfriend. Like on When Harry Met Sally, when Meg Ryan finally dumps her boyfriend because he won't marry her. Two months later, he's married to somebody else. Exactly. Q.E.D.

This is what we call the objective theory of intent. Barnett, Contracts: Cases and Doctrine, 3e, 2003 273ff. You can buy it now for only $10.00. The woman's internal thoughts and feelings (like you could ever figure those out) are completely unimportant; the only important thing is what a reasonable person would think based on her conduct (like you could ever figure that out, either).

Oh and for my fellow KVAs--I have now been sober for one class period.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Not Firestarter

I just finished Stephen King's first novel, Carrie. I was so confused because I had conflated Carrie and King's other book, Firestarter. I don't know why I did, but I did. So when Carrie didn't burn the town down with her mind, I was pretty confused.

OK so my confusion is boring. What did I think about the book? I thought it was excellent for a first novel. Authors tend to get known for one aspect or another of their books, and I thought that King was known for being scary. This book wasn't scary. Not even in the "maybe that used to scare people" kind of way. It just wasn't scary. It's about a reject girl with telekinesis who finally gets picked on too much. The moral? Don't pick on the fundamentalist fat girl or else she might blow your whole dadgum town up. There's a freaky-ish scene where she's walking down the street with a knife sticking out of her shoulder, but that's about it.

But let me say that King did beat out my favorite author in one respect. Tim O'Brien's In the Lake of the Woods is an incredible novel that alternates between telling the story in the present and presenting the story from the future through evidence, interviews, documentaries, etc. King does the same thing in Carrie, but I'm sad to say, he does it better and more interestingly.

In short, if you're looking for a scary book, look elsewhere. If you're looking for a well-written, interesting book about telekinesis, this may be for you. Or if you like stories set in small towns in Maine, this story is for you.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Prof K's Dog

I don't really know the story of Pavlov's dog, but I understand that he trained his dogs to eat food whenever they heard a bell, regardless of whether they were hungry. I, ma'am, am Prof. K's dog.

I discovered it yesterday. I volunteered at least three times this week to discuss cases. (Or was it just twice? It all fades together. Three is more impressive. Maybe I really volunteered seventeen times . . .) My bell is Prof K saying "Any volunteers for ______?" Bam. My arm extends before I can think "Do I even really know anything about this case?" I think I have a problem. Maybe I should start attending CVA (KVA?).*

Didn't Pavlov end up killing his dog?

*Ed. note - As far as I know, there are no contracts volunteers anonymous groups meeting at this time. If anyone knows of any, please advise.

I'm Comin' Out

In light of Osler's Recipe for Blogging Disaster, I have decided to come out of the blogging closet.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Haiku Friday at B(L)S

"I Refuse to Believe for One Second--"

What? Two weeks to go?
I only just started yest--
Oh. Nine weeks ago.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Judicial Poetry

You thought it was limited to Ollie Holmes and Benji Cardozo, but I am here to bring you the worldwide debut of the sardonic poetry of Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit:
While we have our doubts about the wisdom of Pacific Gas, we have no difficulty understanding its meaning, even without extrinsic evidence to guide us.

Bam. Or, in Latin, Q.E.D. If you don't get it, go read Trident Center v. Connecticut General Life Insurance Co., 847 F.2d 564 (C.A.9, 1988).*

* I tried to get a link for Trident Center, but I couldn't find it. Good luck.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Haiku Friday at B(L)S

Ninety-four degrees
Is that all? It feels so hot.
Eat muddy buddies.

One more reason to vote for Chet

No talk today.  Just this.

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Friday, September 29, 2006

Sincerest Apologies

Though I overestimate my readership, I wanted to apologize to a member of my class to whom I have spoken only once.  When we met, she mentioned her last name.  Someone asked if she was related to the president.  She said, "Actually, yes."  I, being a jerk, made a comment something like "Hey--he's ranked like 41st out of 43 presidents."

Ma'am: I think it's pretty cool if you're related to a president.  That's more than I can say; I am just a bitter person with no family history.  Please accept this as my apology.  I hope you won't hold it against me.

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Echoing Sentiments

Although I feel sorry for the asinine questions asked in Property I (L-Z), and although I like Prof. Property very much, I want the Marine Corps.  I want to be able to brag to my kids about walking barefoot uphill both ways in 110° heat through 18" of snow, only to be kicked out of class because my shoes are muddy.  I signed up for bootcamp, not kindergarten.

Am I a masochist?

Today, a certain student (male or female) entered class at least fifteen minutes late.  I feel bad for himmer; I'm glad it wasn't me; but if it had been me, I'd want Prof. Property to watch me unpack my things, ask me if I had my brief, then walk over and physically kick me out of class (whether or not I had my brief).  That's what the Marine Corps is like.  (Or so I imagine.)  Instead, Prof. Property gave himmer what I call the "baby death penalty": no use of the computer during class.  Whatever.

Then again--the laidback, easygoing nature of Property is rare thing in law school and something that shouldn't be thrown away for dumb pride.  Keep on truckin', Prof. Property.  You have my blessing.

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Take that Smoo

So I'm reading Mark Gimenez's The Color of Law when I ran across this gem:

Now you don't go to Southern Methodist University School of Law if you plan on pursuing a legal career in New York or D.C. or L.A. or even Houston for that matter: it's not exactly the Harvard of the Southwest.  In fact, they say it's a hell of a lot easier to get into the law school at SMU than it is one of the sororities or fraternities at SMU.  You go to SMU law school if and only if you want to practice law in Dallas, Texas, because SMU lawyers have begotten SMU lawyers for so many decades now that the Dallas legal community is more incestuous than the Alabama backwoods of the fifties.

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Do I have Great Expectations?

Last night, I finally finished Charles Dickens's Great Expectations. If you're like me, you probably read it in high school, maybe 9th grade. You probably didn't like it. If you read it now (say, five or six years post-high school), you'll likely enjoy it much more. Or at least I did.

In case you forgot, this rite-of-passage story follows Phillip Pirrip (a.k.a. Pip) from about the age of 6 until something like 30. At first, Pip's sister is taking care of him, along with her husband, Joe Gargery. The story begins with Pip delivering "wittles" to an escaped convict. Next thing we know, the local rich and eccentric lady, Miss Havisham, invites Pip over to play. There, he meets Estella, a more innocent (but not much) version of Steinbeck's Cathy. Predictably, Pip's taste of the high-class world of wealth makes him jealous for it and discontented with his blacksmith's destiny.

Eventually, Pip receives news that he has "great expectations." Thence begins the story of Pip's spoliation, devastation, and eventual reincarnation as somebody worth spitting on.

Like I said, when I read it in 9th grade, I didn't like it. When I saw the movie a few years after, I still didn't like it. I read it now, and I can relate to Pip these days. I have had times in my life where I was as low as Pip got. It supports a theory of mine: that we only like stories (be they books, movies, magazines, whatever) where we can relate to a character or where we wish we could relate to one of the characters.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Venus in Waco

I just wanted to let everybody know that the weather today is beautiful. I discovered that I left two books I have to read at school, drove up I-35 to get them, and on my way home, the bottom dropped out. It was beautiful. I want to steal Bono's metaphor, and call it a "black belly of cloud in the rain." (I don't really know what that means, but it's in the middle of his classic "Running to Stand Still," which is what law school is all about. Very pertinent as I begin to read about future interests in transferees.) Anyway, if you haven't read Ray Bradbury's The Illustrated Man, I highly suggest you go out and borrow it from your library right now and read the story about rain in Venus. I can't remember what it's called, but I know it's definitely not "The Veldt."

Yes, I am encouraging you to read Ray Bradbury rather than your Property homework. It's OK. She'll understand. (Prof. Godzilla, or as some people would rather, Prof. Kasparov or Prof. Big Blue, however, will not understand. Read your Civ Pro first.)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I smiled while Tokyo was Burning

I have been absent for sometime. I no longer work in the ALICO building. Now, I'm a lowly 1Q at fun's morgue (I think U.S. News & World Report has us as "Baylor Law." Like they know anything). Anyway, I thought it'd be fun to pull this out and act like I'm going to make a habit of posting. We'll see.

Today, Tokyo burned. I hear from reliable sources that there are several 1Q blogs, so I won't go into the details, but Prof. Civ Pro (whom I'll call "Prof. Godzilla" for now) gave the fall starters an earful today. I'll just share my ridiculous problem because, in my egomania and narcissism, I think you care.

It all started when Prof. Godzilla called on Ms. Brown (a clever nickname that, for her sake, I hope no one figures out) to talk about the case. She was obviously struggling. We all cringed inwardly. Prof. Godzilla's first burst of radiation: "Brown, if this is the best you can do, you seriously need to consider something else." What he was really saying, though, was "1Qs, if this is the best you can do, you seriously need to consider doing something else." We all cringed. Except me.

I smiled.

Then, when Ms. Brown was sufficiently humiliated, Prof. Godzilla decided to play Wittgenstein and burn down our favorite philosopher, Mr. Grifom (for "guy right in front of me"). Poor Grifom, Prof. Godzilla can't even pronounce his name,* but he can devastate better than King Kong. Now, as I said Grifom sits right in front of me, so when Prof. Godzilla is radiating Grifom, I'm catching the stuff that misses Grifom. My arm hair is singeing. We all cringe in humiliation when Prof. Godzilla asks Grifom if he's proud of his incompetence. What do you say? But the best was when Prof. Godzilla asks: "Griffum, is Chicago smarter than you?" [Grifom hesitates] "Because I sure hope not." While Tokyo burns, let's burn down the Second City, too. Everyone's eyes bore into the desks below them as they cringe.

I don't. I smile.

Ever since I was little, I have had this ridiculous problem: I smile when I'm in trouble. I giggle uncontrollably like a little fat girl in a candy shop with her crush (who doesn't know her name). I bite my tongue, I pull down the corners of my mouth, I stare like an idiot at my papers, I imagine horribly depressing things. Nothing worked when I was six; nothing works today. Conclusion: I am a masochist who thrives on humiliation. I guess law school is perfect for me.

*(I stole the footnote idea from Poseur.) Prof. Godzilla: "Grighfum or Greefum?" Grifom: "Greefum." Godzilla: "OK. Griffum, tell us about the case."

Friday, August 11, 2006

National Databases, or You May Say That I'm a Dreamer

I am usually a states' rights kinda guy, but I ran across this interesting article in the New York Times dealing with a recent report approved by the Commission on the Future of Higher Education.  The report discusses what the Commission thinks "institutions of higher education" should be doing to improve how themselves.  An intriguing idea toward the bottom of the article suggests:
develop[ing] a national database to follow individual students’ progress as
a way of holding colleges accountable for students’ success.
As a states'-righter, I generally oppose national databases like this, but I think it might be a good idea in the fields of higher education and health administration.  If you're like me and recently applied to grad school, you've gone through the trouble of obtaining transcripts from all the colleges you've previously attended.  All of us have sat in a doctor's office trying to remember whether anybody in our family has had pneumonia and when it was.  How easy would it be if there were a database dedicated to keeping track of that information for you?

Of course, this is a trade-off between convenience and privacy.  It also represents more evolution toward Big Brother, so the idea would have to be refined in order to protect freedom and privacy.  But imagine the possibilities!

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Moral Integrity

From last night's Law & Order:

- "I bet your father is real proud of you today."
- "That's not what wakes me up in the morning, detective."

Sunday, July 16, 2006

A Christian Lawyer: ACLJ or ACLU?

As a Christian and as a future lawyer, I have spent some time thinking about what it means to be a Christian lawyer.  I have some relatives and some other people I know who tell me that the only place a Christian has in the Bar is in the ACLJ.  But what about the ACLU?

I don't have much to say but this, just a bunch of jumbled thoughts.  Isaiah 1:17 says "Learn to do good; seek justice.  Reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow."  In other words: everybody needs help, so help those who don't have anybody to help them; that is seeking justice and doing good.  Furthermore, Deuteronomy 32:35-36 says "Vengeance is [God's], and retribution . . . the Lord will vindicate His people."  Maybe it isn't the place of humans to decree justice.  Maybe we ought to defend those who are attacked by their fellow humans, regardless of the reason.

The more I struggle with this, the less clear the answer becomes.

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The watchdog group Texans for Public Justice (TPJ) released a report recently in which they graded Texas's state representatives and senators on their compliance with Chapter 254 of the Texas Election Code.  This chapter requires the reporting of big donors' occupations and employers.  "Big donors" are identified as those who donate greater than $500 in the aggregate during a single reporting period.  TPJ graded the legislators as follows:
     - adequate disclosure of both occupation and employer = full credit
     - adequate disclosure of either occupation or employer but not both = half credit
     - inadequate disclosure of both occupation and employer = no credit.

The importance of disclosure requirements for campaign finance lies in the economics of politics.  Money is always traded for something of value, at least of value to the person trading the money.  Usually, this occurs in the context of a purchase (e.g., food, cars, lands, etc.).  Occasionally, as with the wealthy, someone trades money for influence or recognition (e.g., donating to build a library).  In the context of campaign finance, what is the trader receiving in return for his/her donation?  The fear is that the donor is buying influence.  Since not everybody can donate to campaigns, an unfair advantage is given to those with enough money that they can donate to campaigns.  Thence comes 2003's HB 1606.

For those of you who are wondering how your legislators did, check this report out.  Waco's legislators did as follows:
     - Kip Averitt (Sen.) - B - 83.0 on value of donations and 77.8 on number of donations.
     - Jim Dunnam (H.R. 57th) - C - 77.8 on value and 76.1 on number.
     - Charles "Doc" Anderson (H.R. 56th) - F - 31.8 on value and 28.8 on number.
Let me tell you what this means.  Doc Anderson received $85,948 in statutorily defined big donations in 66 parts.  Of these donations, the Good Doc adequately disclosed the occupation and employer of only 28.8 percent of these donors, who gave 31.8 percent of the funds.  In straight numbers, 19 of his donors are virtually unknown except by name.  Here's a copy of his most recent report.  You can find Kip Averitt's here and Jim Dunnam's here.

When you hold public office and especially in your role as a public office holder, your privacy is significantly reduced.  It's time for the Lege to stop paying lip service to public accountability and accomplish real public accountability.  Kip and Jim--you have done well, but you can do better.  Doc--this is unacceptable; let us know who's giving you money so we can know about what (might) influence you while in Austin.

Democracy only works when we have real choices, and real choices are based on real information.

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Saturday, July 15, 2006

I'm Comin Out

Why can't we all just get along?

To me, one of the most sickening things about politics is the team competition nature of it.  It's always Team A vs. Team B.  Screw what's good for America; what's good for me and my team?

Check out this story about the 2006 congressional race between incumbent Chet Edwards, a Democrat in Republican territory, and Van Taylor, some punk businessman from Dallas.  To give you a bit of a summary, Mr. Taylor is looking for ways to connect Mr. Edwards to a vicious campaign ad hoping to inspire Democrats who oppose the Iraq war.  Mr. Edwards, however, is well-known for his support of veterans.  Mr. Taylor's attempt to connect Mr. Edwards to the ad is nothing more than team-based strategy.

Consider: Chet Edwards has done a lot of good for Central Texas: He's fought to save Waco's VA hospital; he's thoughtfully represented Central Texas since 1991.  (Seriously: check out his record.)  In our society, there is no more trustworthy politician than the one who acts thoughtfully.  You can't trust them to do what they say they'll do because life's just too complicated for that.  I say--get a representative you like and stick with him or her, at least until s/he starts acting unthoughtfully and instead with the team mentality.  In our society, so overloaded with information, we can't make decisions based on what's best anymore, just on whether we're satisfied with what we have and whether we need something better.

Central Texas and the 17th District ought to be satisfied with Mr. Edwards's representation.  Van Taylor doesn't deserve a chance just because he happens to be Republican and happened to have moved to a Republican-dominated district.

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Speak the Truth

Please read this post over on CommonTrend, where the author talks about how most bloggers have nothing worthwhile to say.  He disses those who quote/refer to/link other blogs.  I'm going to follow its instructions and begin blogging less often.  Please don't hate me.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Open Up the Floodgates

I think you guys should check this out.  Finally, somebody has figured out that public policy should follow public reality.  Well, I guess that a lot of people have been trying to follow statistics, but how real is that?

For those of you who won't follow the link, the Wall Street Journal has suggested that increasing the number of U.S. visas will do more for improving the quality of life for both Mexico and the United States.  Wow.  What a concept.

I think we should put more bridges on the Rio Grande and up the number of visas to like 250,000,000.  There's no way that many people could slip in.  And if so, who cares?  At least then, we could stomp the Chinese army.

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Monday, July 03, 2006

Good Will Hunting

So I'm watching Good Will Hunting, and Sean (Robin Williams) and Will (Matt Damon) are having a counseling session when the following interchange takes place:

Will - Do you ever wonder what your life would be like if you, uh, if you never met your wife?
Sean - Like wonder if I might be better off without her?
Will - No no no.  I'm not saying like--better off--I didn't mean it like--
Sean - It's alright.  It's an important question.  Because you'll have bad times, but it'll always wake you up to the good stuff you weren't paying attention to.

Although Robin Williams is usually known better for his comedy, but I think his dramatic parts are his best movies.  If you haven't seen Good Will Hunting, go rent it right now.

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Superman? Really?

Your results:<BR><B>You are <FONT SIZE=6>Superman</FONT></B>
</TR><TR><TD>Green Lantern</TD>
</TR><TR><TD>The Flash</TD>
</TR><TR><TD>Wonder Woman</TD>
</TR><TR><TD>Iron Man</TD>
<TD>You are mild-mannered, good, <BR>strong and you love to help others.<BR>
<IMG SRC=""></TD>
</TR></TABLE><A HREF="">
Click here to take the "Which Superhero am I?" quiz...</A><BR>

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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Dream come true?

Three of the partners at the law firm for which I work (including my boss) has recently decided to split from the rest of the law firm (located in a different city).  The "mother law firm" and the "child law firm" have decided to part ways to the extent that we will be entering a new office by the end of the month.  In a move highly exciting for me, we may be leasing office space in the wonderful Alico Building.  Three cheers for the home team.

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Saturday, June 17, 2006

What should I do with my life?

Po Bronson wrote a fascinating book about the young person's least favorite but most important question to answer.  According to the people whom Bronson interviews, the difficulty of the question is rarely eased with age (only the person's sense of possibility is diminished).  While this is bad news for people like me who hope that life's experience will push me in the right direction, it has caused me to think about my future and what I want to do.  (As if I weren't doing that already.)

The one thing I know is that I want to be a lawyer: I want to go to law school; I want to wear suits; I want to be able to speak with authority and confidence; I want to know how things work.  But that only partially answers the evil "WSIDWML" (pron. "wuh-sihd-wuh-mill") question because the legal profession is incredibly complex with probably thousands of different specialties and different jobs that must be performed.

So question 2: what kind of lawyer should I be?  Before I worked at my previous job, I thought that family law was a horribly boring field of law that no one should get into except for the money (it pays surprisingly well for those who are good at it).  Part of my job involved legal research, though, and I even wrote a brief for an appeal of a termination of parental rights.  (Which we won, dadgummit.)  Through that experience, I discovered that even family law can be fascinating.  I won't go into specifics here, but I learned that any area of law could be fascinating if you gave it enough attention.  Conclusion: looking at different fields of law to find one that's interesting just won't work for me.  I need to consider more about the practice of that particular field.

So question 3: what kind of law would I enjoy practicing?  Alas, this is the hardest question so far.  No lawyer wants to talk about their daily routine.  I have searched hundreds of blogs and find only commentary on law.  Blogs very rarely discuss the ins and outs of actual, daily practice.  Fortunately, I have worked in two law firms: one a solo practitioner family lawyer and the other a small insurance defense firm.  At this point, I prefer the people interaction of family law and the research possibilities of insurance defense.  I dislike the hours of family law and the relative lack of court-time of insurance defense.  (But I'm told that family lawyers outside small towns spend very little time in court.)  As my old logic professor used to say: I am stuck in the horns of a dilemma.

The answer, I think, for now, is that I don't know.  I don't know what I want to be.  I have several "options" or "theories of the future."  For example, I could become a property investor/developer, or I could practice insurance defense, or I could practice family law, or I could get a job with the Travel Channel writing about what to avoid in other countries' legal systems.  What will probably happen is that I will get a job out of law school and be ushered into a specialty which I will either love or hate.  If I love it, I'll stick with it; if I hate it, I'll find a different specialty.  I call this the pinball approach to life.

I think it's what most people do.

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Monday, June 12, 2006

Adapt and Endure

One of the blogs I read on a regular basis is the Greatest American Lawyer blog.  He recently posted about "Adaptability as a New World Trait" discussing how the "new world lawyer" will be able to adapt to any new situation seamlessly and easily.  I have two goals as a lawyer: (1) make money so I don't have to worry about bills and (2) work a 40-hour work week (or as close to that as possible).  Do I think this is possible?  Yes.  James Gould Cozzens said that the first test of intelligence is figuring out the easiest way to make a lot of money (paraphrased of course).  Anyway, I plan on figuring out how to make bookoos (should be spelled "beaucoups") of money with very little effort.  One characteristic of effort is that things we enjoy are easier than things we do not enjoy.  Unenjoyable things require much more effort than things we enjoy.  Thus, very tentatively, my plan is this: (1) do some criminal work using my laptop and visiting my cliens at jail or at public meeting places; (2) do some family law work meeting my clients at my office; (3) do some wills/probate work meeting clients at their homes or other public meeting places; and (4) do insurance defense at my office.  I hope not to be tied down to my office but to have all the mobility the future promises.  (I also hope that Sprint's crazy mobility stuff will work out so that you can get internet freakin' anywhere.)

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Premature FOSSils

So as part of my lawyer-in-training mentality, I am looking at a lot of ways to make my future office more technologically efficient.  One thing I'm serious about is the "paperless office."  I haven't fully decided how that will work or even if it will work, but I'm definitely looking into it.  Another technology thing I've been paying a lot of attention to is the free/open source software (FOSS) movement.  I recently downloaded Firefox, and have been quite satisfied with it.  If you've never tried it, go out and download it, you won't be disappointed.  It definitely makes the experience of the Internet easier and more satisfying.  Unfortunately, I haven't had as much luck with some of the other FOSS applications.

Thunderbird, for example, is little more than a free version of Outlook.  I'm not well-versed enough in either program to tell you whether it's an excellent copy or not.  And I'm not technological enough to tell you whether Thunderbird is "more secure" or not.  All I can say is that they look and appear to work almost exactly the same.

In another arena of technology, my wife's computer has been having problems lately.  Her copy of XP has decided that it is not genuine.  So I've been looking around at alternatives as a way to fix it temporarily.  (I have to get a new computer for law school, anyway, so she'll get mine then.)  One of our options is Linux.  At first, I was pretty excited: a whole brand-new operating system--how exciting!  I remember the days when my public school was stuck on Macs, and I thought it would be like looking at something totally different.  (Like switching from Mac to PC back then.)  All the websites and articles bragged about the security and ease-of-use of Linux and its distributions (as they call them).  They talked about how they were so innovative and ahead of the curve.  Perhaps I am in no position to comment, but I wasn't very impressed.

I downloaded the NX client, an application that allows you to remotely access other computers, and I logged onto, a website that offers remote access to a server that uses Linux programs.  There, I looked at Linux's fabled KDE (K Desktop Environment) and their office suite,  Neither was very impressive in terms of prima facie innovativeness or creativity.  In fact, is exactly like a free version of Microsoft Office or Corel WordPerfect without the Book Antiqua font (my favorite).

My conclusion: if you are worried enough about security and hate Microsoft, then go ahead and get a Linux computer or download a free distribution (surprisingly, they're not all free).  If not, stick with what you're used to.  It really makes no difference.

But then again, I don't know enough about computers to be making this kind of judgment.

Very Interesting

    This is a very interesting idea.  Firefox has a little thing where you can blog down at the bottom of your windwo.  VERY interesting.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

I have now completed my first week at my new law firm. (Did anybody know that I had left my previous job?) For those of you who care but don't know, I worked for a family lawyer for about 18 months. My wife took a job in a different town, so I quit my old job and got a summer job here in Law School Town working as legal secretary/assistant for a medical malpractice defense attorney.

What do I think so far, after just one week? Pretty boring so far, although the new field of medical things are quite interesting and unknown. We'll see how things turn out.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

WART!!! Weaintcominout Area Rapid Transit!!!! Man-oh-man what an idea!

Here's the plan: buy up all the parking realty in downtown Weaintcominout; charge an arm and a leg (maybe two legs) for parking; offer lower cost trains to the 'burbs.

What do you think?

Friday, April 14, 2006

I don't know if anybody else has been following the Wright is Wrong debate, but D/FW recently released a proposal to create a "truly" regional airport board that would govern all the aviation assets of North Texas. I'm not exactly sure what they mean by that, but I assume they're talking about some type of aviation board to govern all the airports, municipal, regional, national, and international, in Tarrant and Dallas counties. Sounds interesting.

But here's something more interesting: I know off the top of my head that Dallas has about 1.2 million people, Fort Worth about 600,000, Arlington about 350,000, and Irving about 250,000. Add in the dozens of smaller suburbs, and you've got a total population of almost 3 million people. When you start counting the big cities, New York (a cheater, to be explained below) has about 8 million, Los Angeles has about 5 million, Houston has about 4 million, and Phoenix and Chicago are in there somewhere. The "Metroplex" (as some people refer to the D/FW region) would rank up there with Houston, Phoenix and Chicago as dadgum big cities. Here's what they ought to do: copy New York.

So how is New York a cheater? It's actually five cities in one. In about 1898, the cities of Manhattan ("New York"), Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island got together and decided to invent a totally new form of municipal government: the borough. Now, Alaska has boroughs, but we're talking about something different here. New York City, what used to be called "Greater New York City," now consisted of five little cities and their respective counties, clustered together under one name and one municipal/county government. Each borough followed the boundaries of the county, and each borough had its own board or council or however they wanted to name it. Collectively, however, these boroughs would elect one mayor, one comptroller, etc. And one general police force would serve the whole city, meaning all five boroughs. You can see the advantage. Back in 1898, New York's population was probably much smaller than it is now, but I don't know how many people they had. Anyway, this arrangement ended the dumb (though eerily poignant) rivalry between Manhattan and Brooklyn about who was the "real" New York City. Dallas, Fort Worth, and Arlington could benefit from the same idea.

Why not merge and form a "North Texas City" or something? There's already a Texas City, so Manhattan/Brooklyn/Bronx/Queens/Staten Island's idea is out, but that's fixable. Consider Budapest (Buda's on one side of the river; Pest on the other): you could have Fort Dallas or Dalworth or (hehe) Worthlas. (You'll get it if you say it out loud enough times.) Or, hey, to take a page from science fiction, Metro City. Or maybe they could use their collective clout (we are talking about 3 million people here) to force Houston's Texas City to change its name to "Wannabe City" or something.

But I like this idea of a borough government for good ol' D/FW. I like D/FW, not as much as I like San Antonio, but I think that the area could really benefit from one big municipal government to handle all their collective issues. Then you wouldn't have to worry about airport rivalries, team rivalries (Why aren't there any well-known Fort Worth professional sports teams, even though they're all in stinkin' Arlington?), newspaper rivalry, all this other crap that's costly and interferes with good ol' l-i-v-i-n?

But alas there is a problem, the same one that keeps the unions out of Texas: Texans are rugged individualists. They view themselves as cowboys. Ain't no way, no how we gonna be hitched up withim Fort Worthians or Dallasanians or Arlingtinians or Irvingians. Plus, we like "small" government (even though the state government is about as big as a lot of countries' governments).

Maybe San Antonio and Austin will take up the idea and make "Austonio."

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

I want to write a book. I'm currently reading Richard W. Moll's The Lure of the Law. In the book, he basically interviews dozens of people on what they think about the legal profession. The majority of the book is a collection of interviews of current lawyers. The book has a decidedly liberal/pro-public-interest-law/anti-corporate-law outlook, but it's still informative. I've read dozens of other books about law school and the legal profession, and it seems to me that there is a gaping hole.

The solo practitioner.

Most of the books and magazines I read tell about how something like 75 percent of law firms consist of one person and 55 pecent of lawyers are solo practitioners, or some such crazy high number. In my small town, the largest law firm has, I think, 5 lawyers between two locations. One of those lawyers is the county attorney for the next county over. The next largest firm has two lawyers (three are tied). If the vast majority of lawyers practice in a small practice (i.e., less than ten lawyers in the firm), then why are so many books written about joining the big firm? I think somebody ought to interview the local attorneys who make real differences in real lives. I can immediately name three attorneys who ought to be interviewed before anyone else in this area. I can easily think of the next three or four. When I think of my hometown, I'm not very familiar with the legal industry there, but I could probably name a dozen or so attorneys who ought to be interviewed by looking at the phone book.

Somebody needs to write a book about the small town lawyer. And by "small town," I mean every town in a state (except the capital) that has fewer than 500,000 people. In some states, that would be every stinking town. But, you don't have to interview everybody.

If nobody else does it, I'm doing it. Period.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

What better dream could a person have than coming to America? If you haven't heard about it already, the Senate is debating a bill about immigration reform right now. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) is being heard, much moreso than his fellow Texan Senator, Kay Bailey Hutchinson. (Personally, I think she just wants the position so that she can feel special. Like those small-town Texas constables.) But the man of the hour today, folks, is Cuban-born Senator Mel Martinez (R-Fla.). Check out what the Miami Herald says about him at this webpage. Go Mel! iEscúchanos!

Todos norteamericanos son inmigrantes. Eso es la verdad.

<--- This will be mine.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

You never know what you're future options are, eh? Check out this cool place. Apparently, a high-rise apartment complex for the homeless and low-income. Rock on.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

A close friend of mine had a friend of his pass away recently. It's very tragic. Yet through this tragedy, I considered a possible career in a new light. Such is the effect of tragedy on those not affected by the deep sadness of tragedy; we see something old in a new light.

Probate lawyers prepare wills and occasionally push wills through the probate process. My mother has been named my grandmother's executor, and she is thereby forced to deal with many aspects of my grandmother's estate that are emotionally draining and difficult for her. Perhaps a probate lawyer could handle these more efficiently and with less emotional drain for the client. But--would this really be a feasible opportunity? Could a probate lawyer spend his/her time inventorying objects and arranging it so that each beneficiary got their share?

It's an idea anyway. Never forget: lawyers are the grease of society.

Monday, March 27, 2006

For those of you who have been faithful readers of Protester Sans Protest, I have added an additional blog called "Alico Dreams" to represent my own fickle, whimsical, and short-lived dreams of various kinds. That is the purpose of this blog, but as with most blogs, the purpose will probably be short-lived (like most of my other dreams).

Dream #1 - I want to own the Alico Building. The Alico Building presently stands as the largest building in McLennan County at a whopping 22 storeys. It is famous for having withstood the famous 1953 Waco tornado (either the worst or second worst natural disaster in recorded Texas history!), although the honest historian will admit that the tornado destroyed buildings across the street from the Alico Building but did not itself touch the Alico Building. Rumor has it that the building (in all its dizzying height) actually swayed with tornadic winds, but no permanent structural damage was wreaked.

Last November I wandered the Riverwalk of San Antonio and became inspired to push my hometown further than it's been pushed. This past weekend, I drove through Dallas/Fort Worth. (Wright is Wrong!) Let's give peace a chance, eh? Maybe next year Lady Bears.