Friday, February 29, 2008

The cartophile is never lost

For only the second time in my memory, a television show almost made me cry.  The first time it happened, my wife and I were watching Lost on DVD, catching up so that we could watch the new fourth season as it aired.  I think you know what I'm talking about.  Yep, that's right: Greatest Hits.  I don't want to ruin it for you, but when Charlie writes on his note to Claire that the greatest moment of his life was the night he met her . . . it sounds so sappy here, but man . . . in the moment--wow.  Excellent writing.  I told my wife that night that episodes like that make me want to write stories.

Then tonight, it happened again.  I think you know what I'm talking about.  That's right.  The Constant.  I don't want to ruin it for you, so I won't tell you about the ending.  But man . . . !  Imagine Romeo & Juliet, except that Juliet wakes up before Romeo kills himself.  And the episode itself was amazing.  I'll be honest.  I was afraid that making Desmond a time traveler would be really cheesy and destroy the integrity of the story.  But they pulled it off.  I won't tell you how, but it worked.

And now my piece of Lost theory.  I think that the Oceanic Six all work for Ben after they "escape," just like Sayyid.  I mean, after tonight's episode, it was all too clear that Ben's man-on-the-boat wanted Desmond to get to the radio.  I don't think it's too far out there to suggest that Desmond needed to get to the radio for the Oceanic Six to get off the Island.  I don't know how Ben could obtain that kind of power over the Original 48, but I don't put it past him.  Ben = awesome.  Lastly, I think Penny plays an important role in the long-term development of the storyline.*  At least I hope so.

P.S. -- I think that Penny's dad knows about the Island.



*I'm just spitballin' here, but maybe Penny's dad is connected to the Dharma Initiative and, for whatever reason, he is waging war on Ben and the Others.  The Oceanic 48 somehow got caught in the middle, and I think Penny plays a crucial long-term role in extricating the survivors from the conflict.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I demand a recount

Where are Osler's Razor and Civ Pro Prof Blog on this so-called fair ranking???

It's rigged, I tell ya.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Imagine the Family Picture Wall

This couple is amazing: they have been married for 83 years.  That's longer than almost anybody I know has been alive.  Think of it this way--when they got married, Calvin Coolidge was president; the NFL was three years old and featured teams like the Akron Pros, the Milwaukee Badgers, and the Oorang Indians; women had only voted in one presidential election; and the USSR had not yet begun teething.

But here's something else amazing.  The last paragraph of the article reads:

Their family includes six children, 39 grandchildren, 101 great-grandchildren and 40 great-great grandchildren.

So by my addition, that's 186 living, lineal descendants.  Sheesh.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Why Federal Statutes Are Terrible

In my five quarters of law school, I have become familiar with two basic legislative drafting styles: federal and state.  In my humble opinion, the States generally do a better job drafting legislation (and administrative rules, for that matter) than do either Congress or the federal agencies.  While I'm rather ashamed of the Texas Constitution, there are myriad federal laws equally as (uselessly) complex.  I'll name two biggies I've studied: the Internal Revenue Code (Title 26 of the U.S. Code) and the Immigration and Nationality Act (part of Title 8 of the U.S. Code).

Wray Herbert may shed some light on this phenomenon through a recent post on his fascinating blog, "We're Only Human."  In it, he writes about an experiment recently performed at Indiana University where the researchers had various size groups try to solve problems.  (He describes the experiment in more detail.)  He notes that:

When the problems were easy, the [biggest] networks did best. . . . But as the problems became trickier, the small[er] networks tended to perform better. In other words, the truism that more information is always better proved untrue when life got a little messy. And as the problems became even more complex, the small[est] networks proved most clever.

Given that statutes try to resolve some of the most complex issues facing society, it's worth noting that a federal law must be approved by no fewer than 269 individuals (218 of 435 Representatives and 51 of 100 Senators).  The same law being passed by, for example, the Texas Legislature, would require the approval of only 92 individuals (76 of 150 Representatives and 16 of 31 Senators).  I did some quick research, and the average requisite majority among the state legislatures is 75, about 1/4 what Congress requires.  Only seven States require 100+ majorities: New Hampshire (214), Pennsylvania (128), Georgia (120), New York (108), Massachusetts (102), Minnesota (102), and Missouri (100).  Several States do not even have 100 legislators (most notably, Delaware (62) and Nevada (60)).

All this to say two things.  First, I like numbers.  Second, two heads may not always be better than one.  Or maybe I should say: 535 heads may not always be better than 60.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I Love Lucy--Adopt a Puppy

This past session, the Texas Legislature, or "The Lege" as my college prof called it, passed H.B. 2328.  This bill amended the animal cruelty statute.  I'm working on a paper about this new statute, so I'm trying to keep up with current events in animal law.  All that to justify this: I ran across an article from PETA entitled Uninvited Guests at the Westminster Dog Show.  In case you're lazy, the uninvited guests are holding up signs accusing breeders of destroying the chances of shelter animals.

I'm not going to tell you to go vegetarian or that animals have the same rights as humans.  But if you're in the market for a puppy or a kitten, give your local shelter a chance.  I did it a few years ago, and I haven't looked back.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

What's in a name?

I stumbled across a rather interesting article theorizing about the significance of the names of several characters in Lost, particularly John Locke, Danielle Rousseau, and Mikhail Bakunin.  Even if you don't like philosophy, it's a pretty interesting and short article, and I recommend it.

A Life in Six Words: "Angry Guy Gets Law License, Sues"

Today, the Wall Street Journal's Law Blog posted an interesting article entitled, "A Life in Six Words: 'Angry Guy Gets Law License, Sues'."  To distill your life into six words requires you to boil your life to its essence.  What six words most convey who you are, where you've been, where you're going, why?

I challenge you--what's your life in six words?

UPDATE:  I'm thinking about these as my six words: "Masten: Why can't we be friends?"

Sunday, February 03, 2008

This Just In: David Beats Goliath

My least favorite thing about football is that everybody leaves before the game is over. 

Tonight, we flipped over to the Super Bowl when there was only about a minute left.  We saw Eli Manning throw a pass straight into the hands of Plexico Burress in the end zone, and (with the extra point) the underdogs were ahead 17-14.  Tom Brady wasted the last 35 seconds trying to throw 864-yard passes.  Then, when the Patriots couldn't convert their fourth down, the Giants had to run a play to run out the one second remaining on the clock.

You know who didn't see that play?   Bill Belichick.  According to the announcers, he had already left the field and was walking up the tunnel.

I haven't felt this good about a world champion since the Marlins beat the Indians in 1997.

Beware the Fourth of March

I don't consider myself a "grammarian," but I appreciate good grammar and I try to cultivate it.  I'll admit that I bought and read Eats, Shoots, and Leaves; thoroughly enjoyed Tim O'Brien's Tomcat in Love; and even peruse Strunk & White when I get bored.  (Grammarians will note that I broke up the parallelism.  I think parallelism is a style issue rather than a grammar issue.  I want to emphasize that while I read and enjoyed the first two books (past tense), I continue to read and enjoy the third (present tense).  My stylistic choice has been made, grammar be damned.)  So I will take it as a personal birthday present that my 25th birthday has been proclaimed National Grammar Day by the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar.

So, between you and I me, let's talk right speak properly.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Justice John Edwards?

I'll be honest.  I like John Edwards.  As a person.  As a trial lawyer.  Maybe not so much as a candidate.  But does anybody really think he's Supreme Court material?  I don't know.  I guess he could join the ranks of odd people who left Congress for the Supreme Court, but that would go against recent trends in Supreme Court membership:

  • Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.: practicing lawyer, then D.C. Circuit judge
  • Justice John Paul Stevens: law professor, then 7th Circuit judge
  • Justice Antonin Scalia: law professor
  • Justice Anthony M. Kennedy: practicing lawyer and lobbyist, then 9th Circuit judge
  • Justice David H. Souter: practicing lawyer, then New Hampshire AG, then a romp through the New Hampshire judiciary (including a few years on its Supreme Court), then 5 months on the 1st Circuit
  • Justice Clarence Thomas: government lawyer and administrator, then D.C. Circuit judge
  • Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: law professor and women's rights advocate, then D.C. Circuit judge
  • Justice Stephen G. Breyer: government lawyer and administrator, then 1st Circuit judge
  • Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.*: government lawyer, then 3rd Circuit judge

So--eight of the nine justices spent at least some time on a federal circuit court; the one who didn't was a committed law professor and highly respected as an academic.  The last Congressional justice was Sherman Minton, who represented Indiana in the Senate for six years during the Great Depression, just before he was nominated to the 7th Circuit.  Edwards--and Mr. Clinton, for that matter--has spent no time on any federal circuit, nor is he highly respected in academia.  Besides that, he's not nearly mysterious enough to even hope to get through confirmation.  So can we stop with this weird idea that popular politicians can be on the Supreme Court?

Then again--Chief Justice Earl Warren was the Republican Vice Presidential nominee in 1948, only five years before he was appointed chief justice . . .


*Does anybody else think it's funny that George W. Bush, who has the same name as his father, nominated two justices for the Supreme Court who also share their names with their fathers?

Friday, February 01, 2008

So wait--Jacob is a Christian?

Here are my thoughts on the return of Lost.  There is a world of Lost blogs and web sites out there that are rife with commentary on the season premier, but I have to take these things one step at a time.  So I'm going to talk about the recap episode first, and, maybe later I'll delve into commentary on the season premier.

First--I think it's fascinating (and potentially important) that Ben narrated the recap episode.  I've seen a few of these (they remind me of those old checklist baseball cards), and they typically have non-characters narrating.  For example, back when I watched Grey's Anatomy, they had a no-name coma patient narrating.  Yet the Masters of Lost use Ben.  Hurley might have been entertaining.  We know that there are dozens of survivors and Others we don't know yet, so any of them could have worked.  But Ben.

Which leads to my second question: Why Ben?  Ben seems to have this uncanny ability to know everything.  He knows everything about all the survivors.  He knows about Jacob, Walt, and Locke.  He knows who Naomi is with.  He even knew how to deprogram the Invisible Fence of (Not Quite) Certain Death when he was only 12 years old.  He is the guy that I think most people look to for the answers about the Island.  Maybe that's why--Ben is the go-to guy when it comes to the Island, so we'll go to him for a recap.

Which leads to my third question: Did Ben tell us anything new in the flashback episode?  I think he did.  I definitely wouldn't be surprised if he did.

Finally, one quick thought about the season premier.  Is anybody else getting scared that everything is just in Hurley's head?