Thursday, September 28, 2006

An Open Letter to the Australian Chick in the Front Row:

Shut up. Look, just SHUT - UP.

I am so sick of hearing you self-aggrandize. I don't know WHAT you think you are accomplishing. I can venture to guess that it’s some sort of insecurity issue, and that your actions are the pitiable actions of a human being in search of acceptance. Somewhere, in your torn neuroses, the concept of having 100 students and a very well respected, well-known, and overpaid professor listen to you gets you all hot and bothered. Maybe it makes you feel better about yourself. Nevertheless, I don't care: you bug the shit out of me.

And it's not just me. Trust me. A number of us trade knowing looks whenever you start chattering away. You know, it's not that your points are all that bad--you've actually said a number of intelligent things. But there's something to be said for style, for consideration.

If you don't WANT the rest of us to continue hating you, here's a few maneuvers you should consider dropping from your classroom behavior:

1) Beginning sentences with the words "in Australia..."
Okay. We're not in Australia. The whole comparative law thing is only useful if you are making some type of comparison about the law that informs or alters our understanding of the topic at hand. We know you're from Australia, because we can hear you talking (in fact, that's part of the problem). Secondly, it's not that impressive of a place from which to be. Thirdly, I could give a shit what Australians think about U.S. First Amendment Law.

2) Dropping the line, "well I already did the reading for next week, and..." in the middle of your comment.
You read ahead. Wow: you can read. The professor has a lesson plan, thanks for fucking it up. (P.S.: We know you're an overachiever--it's law school. The secure, lazy individuals stopped running in the educational hamster wheel a long, long time ago, so we're the only ones left.)

3) Interrupting the professor and starting to talk without raising your hand or being called on. First, it's massively disrespectful to everyone in the class and especially the professor. Second, the professor might not want to call on you or let you speak, and, for the good of the class and the others in it, you should consider that the professor might be right. Third, maybe we don't want to hear what you have to say, so you might consider at least following the damn rules so the professor--who is aware that you're overbearing--can at least minimize your negative effects.

I realize this letter may come as a shock. I realize that, considering your obvious insecurities, it would be difficult to affect a graceful, unemotional response to it. So, as an extra incentive, I am adding an additional caveat:

For every minute you spend talking, you owe me--and everyone else in the room who wants in on the deal--$2.06.

Why $2.06? Because I calculated out the cost of our tuition, and we each spend $2.06 per minute of our class time (and if that doesn't shut you up for a minute, I don't know what will). Frankly, lady, you are wasting my time, and you are wasting my money. Stop it, or provide remuneration for your harms.



Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Jesus help me.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Denzel! DENZEL!

The Hollywood set has been all up in my grill, as of late. Take, for instance, the movie trailers: All over the fucking place. Are we fortunate enough to have 1970's era MTA buses nearby? Yeah, blocking the entrance to my supermarket. Dunkin' Donuts? Sorry, they didn't have Dunkin' Donuts in Harlem in the 70's, so they threw a tarp over the store front, and hung up a sign saying "Closed for renovations: We're closed, because we care." Pfft. If you cared, I'd still be able to buy a donut and a coffee with 8 sugars.

Oh, and now there's Denzel Washington. Comin' out his trailer so he can be all mobbed by the locals an' shit. Denzel! This is my neighborhood. All the kids in the Ghetto, they look up to me. Quit spitting salt in my game.

I used to be able to roll through in my suit rockin' the aviators and have the kids yell, "Hey man, you're scarin' the neighborhood," and "Sup, sucka, you look like that white guy from Men in Black or something," and "Yo, dude, you wanna buy this DVD of Fight Club? I'll totally hook you up..."

Not anymore. Nope. Suddenly everyone is into "Denzel Washington." In his big trailer parked around the corner. Dammit, Denzel! This is my block. I don't care if you are making another movie where you are some sort of law enforcement officer. Shit! I can't even name a movie when you weren't a cop, or a detective, or a prosecutor, or a police lieutenant.

And you're working with Russel Crowe again? Are you serious? Don't you remember Virtuosity? That movie SUCKED!

So thanks for dropping by, American Gangster, and trying to pretend that my Bed-Stuy neighborhood is 1970's Harlem (like there were black people in Harlem in the 70's! Pfft!).
But you've had your fun, Mr. Ridley Scott, and now it's time to go.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


Friday, September 22, 2006

Hard Choices Made Easy

If you ever have the "happy" problem of choosing between two different jobs, lovers, schools, banks that want to give you loans, etc., then I have some advice for you:

Go with the one that give you a gumball machine.

I was trying to choose between several firms, and, after hours of compiling information, taking informal (and formal) opinion polls, watching 1970's Saturday Morning Cartoons, and trying like hell to read my tea leaves, I couldn't tell the difference between them. They were all so similar. So institutionalized. "How would I EVER be able to tell the difference?" I asked myself aloud, visibly exasperated.

Well, my answer came, as answers usually do, via USPS Priority Mail.

The small, brown, paper covered box rattled when I shook it, and with good reason: It was full of gumballs. AND not just gumballs, but a machine by which to dispense them.

Can you get a clearer sign than that?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

What Do You Mean She Doesn't Work There?

So anyways, I did two callback interviews today.

What's a callback interview, you say? Well, after conducting an initial screening interview with a candidate, law firms will "call back" a candidate for a second interview to determine whether they wish to offer said candidate a position. It's a "call back" interview, get it?

Stop me if I'm going too fast...

Anyways, there's a lot of "courteous" formalities that are supposed to occur in the callback interview process. One such formality is the sending of thank you's. Within 24 hours of a callback, you are supposed to send an email to the head of the recruiting team with whom you met (the average callback consists of four or five half-hour interviews with different individuals at the firm), thanking them and their team and the firm for their "time" and telling them that you are still interested in the firm.

So, like I said, I scheduled two today, for a total of five hours worth of interviewing. And, you know, I thought I did really well--the last interviewer with whom I spoke expressed surprise that I was so energetic after having been at his office for two hours. When I explained that he was actually the ninth person who I'd interviewed with that day, his jaw dropped through the floor. He said I must be "high-energy." I thought I was. Like I said, I though I had done really, really well.

Yeah. Well...I sent a thank you note email to firm #1 just a few minutes ago. Here's what it looked like (notice the cool, lawyerly redactions):

Regional Director of Legal Recruiting
XXX XX Avenue
New York, NY 1XXX

Dear Ms. XXXX,

Thank you so much for arranging my visit with XXXX today. I greatly appreciated the opportunity to meet with you and other members of your firm.

Please extend my thanks to your colleagues, XXXXXXXXXXXXXX, for taking the time to meet with me, and also to YYYYYYYYY for helping arrange my visit. I particularly enjoyed speaking with members from both the litigation and corporate groups, and I appreciate you accommodating my request in this regard.

I am still very much interested in pursuing a summer position with your firm. Should you or any of your team members require any additional information to assist you as you consider my candidacy, please do not hesitate to contact me at ##### or via email at XXXXX@XXXXX.

Thank you once again, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Okay. Here's what I didn't do really, really well:
#1 -- See where it says "Ms." at the top of the email? Yeah, well, the person I sent the email to was a man. I shit you not. I can't believe I fucked that one up.
#2 -- See that second redacted name, the one that is redacted with "Y's"? Yeah, well, that person doesn't work there. Not at all. She works at the second firm with which I interviewed, but not the first one.

So I fucked up royally. Not that I will ever be in a position to be scheduling two interviews in the same day again, but if I am, then I won't. That's one thing I've learned today.


Saturday, September 16, 2006

A Word to the Wise

So, I'm studying child pornography in class.
Not the pornography itself, so much as the law regarding it.

Just to be clear. :)

Anyways, if any of you really didn't know, child pornography is illegal. (I know, it's shocking). Let me be specific about just how illegal it is. In fact, let's do a one-question pop quiz.

You could be imprisoned for:
a) Making child pornography
b) Distributing child pornpgraphy
c) Purchasing child pornography
d) Receiving child pornography
e) Posessing child pornography
f) Viewing child pornography on an internet browser
g) All of the above

I'm not telling the answer (because I am assuming that no one reading this is that dumb). Child pornography is a major multi-billion dollar industry (unfortunately). Because of the internet, it can be very difficult for law enforcement to find and prosecute enough of the individuals invovled to really do much about the problems (very much like audio file-sharing or pirated DVD's). In response, Congress has passed broad, sweeping legislation that criminalizes a variety of acts (as listed above in our little quiz).

So anyways, after spending six hours of class time talking about all this, a student in my class raised his hand to speak (the gentleman had a thick French accent, but you can pretend with any accent you want). Here's the exchange:

Teacher: "Yes?"
Student: "So I was looking at child porn on the internet--"
Class: "?!?"
Teacher: "Okay, wait."
Student: "What?"
Teacher: "You were looking at child porn on the internet?"
Student: "Yes, I wanted to--"
Teacher: "Don't...don't do that--Everyone? Don't look at child pornography on the internet."
Class: (Laughter)
Student: "But it's real."
Class: (Laughter)
Teacher: "Yes, and that's an especially good reason. Look, for anyone who doesn't know, you can get in a lot of trouble for looking at child pornography."
Student: "But I wanted to see if it was true or if it was a myth. But it's there. And it's so easy to get!"
Class: (Laughter)

Learn from this man, people. It's not long until he's deported. Don't let his deportation be a waste.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Reflections of a closeted Communist

So I taking a class called tax and social policy. To borrow from Demi Moore's boy toy, the class is totally awesome. Of course, I babble a lot in class. My latest and greatest comment was that no one "deserves" anything they have. For instance, the hard working poor person from rural West Virginia who becomes CEO of a major company does not deserve the fruits of his "labor", because he did nothing to earn his natural endowment of intelligence or his birth in a society with class mobility. Long story short, I was the only student in class who held this belief. The natural conclusion of my belief is that the government should equalize wealth with really high taxes. I am really happy with that conclusion because I was beginning to think that I was losing my soul. Yea!!!!!!!!! 90% top marginal tax rates.

Monday, September 11, 2006

I miss the lawyering group:)

September 11th

It's my grandma's birthday.


Sometimes I feel good, then I remember Torts.
Thoughs on law.......

Question:What makes something law?
Answer: Its in a fancy red or black book

Statement: So I think I am going to steal all the gold in Fort Knox and then make up an ex-post moral/legal justification for it. See First 3 Classes of Property law

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Refreshingly Brief

Friday, September 08, 2006

Look Out Defeatocrats! Republicans Develop a Sense of Humour! (?)

Alright. So the Republican National Convention has found a powerful new weapon in its fight against Dumbocrats. It's even better than their policy of playing with the name of their rival political party, the Spendocrats.

Satirical News.

Look out, folks, the Republicans have had a glass of sherry and/or a bottle of sam adams, and they've come home feeling a bit "randy." After years of being debased by The Daily Show and and now, The Colbert Report, the RNC decided to fight satire with satire, hence their latest spending effort:

America Weakly

Fuck, man. Even the title is clever. It's a newspaper that looks into the future: What would life be like in 2007 if the Democrats won the upcoming election?
Now, as much as I'd love to critically examine the entire (fake) newspaper, I won't
Instead, I'll offer some commentary on a few representative paragraphs, from the news story Democrats: In Charge and Charged Up:

The reality is that despite some setbacks, the entire political landscape has changed. America is radically different than it was just eight months ago. And even outside of Washington, regular Americans are sitting up and taking notice.

Okay, this paragraph is mostly set up and you need it to make sense of the next two. One thing I will say is notice that it refers to "regular Americans". These "regular americans" are from New York and San Francisco. Presumably, the implicit point is that the liberal media would naturally only pull from New York and San Francisco, on account of the vast number of liberal and pinko commies that inhabit each city. Apparently someone thinks this is really funny. Unfortunately, I'm not one of them.

“It’s about time,” Judy Smith-Walker, a New York graphic designer said. “Go into any coffee shop here and you’ll hear people saying the same thing: we finally feel like the government is one we can understand.”

Why is this funny? It's not. But here's why they migh think it's funny:
First of all, she is a graphic designer. Sure, the RNC likes their website and their fake newspapers to look nice, but the people who make them look nice are obviously vegetarian homosexuals. Just like all the other regular americans in New York.
Secondly, no one but a pinko jackass would ever be in a coffee shop, that's for hippies and people who watch Friends. Except for Starbucks, of course. Those $4 crappacinos are sweet.
Thirdly, and I'm not sure about this one, but apparently liberals are idiots. That's why they couldn't understand a republican lead government. I guess.

Stefan, a 28-year-old full time student in San Francisco, agrees, adding that he feels that the Democrats’ priorities more closely match most Americans. “Ask around,” he said. “No one here is talking about a so-called War on Terror or how many dividends corporate America can show."

Now this paragraph is especially hilarious. First, the kid is named "Stefan" so he is probably from Europe, or gay, or both. Secondly, the guy is a 28-year-old full time student, and we all know how education is for losers: He should be married, with eight kids (no birth control, thanks) and should be supporting all those kids running a cash register at WalMart for $6.75 an hour. That's the American Way. Besides, who needs an advanced degree? The Republicans who came up with all this funny stuff average a 6th grade education. Third, notice the lack of understanding about liberal nutjobs revealed in the final sentence: No one is talking about the War on Terror or Corporate America? If they had done their homework, they at least could've had Stefan, the full-time student, say, "Finally, the government isn't using the so-called War on Terror to spy on me while I exercise my constitutional right to look up how-to-build bombs on Wikipedia. And even better, they made corporations illegal! That's great! I buy all my electronics at a farmer's market." See? Still not funny, but at least it doesn't evince a misunderstanding of common stereotypes. I mean, c'mon, that's all this paper has going for it.

Finally, they manage to sneak three stereotypical insults into a single, final, devastatingly clever sentence that would make that big, dead, fag Oscar Wilde, proud:

"We want Washington dealing with real issues, like stopping animal testing, or ending the Cuba embargo, or finally passing a good, Canadian-style health care system.”

Issues trounced:
1) Animal rights -- hey, dumbshit, ever read a bible?
2) Communism -- Uh, hello, we need to keep those Cubans poor, or the Soviets will invade! Plus, it's revenge for them kicking out all our organized crime organizations. Those fuckheads.
3) Health care -- Look, poor people shouldn't have to go to the emergency room to get antibiotics. They have jobs, right? They make $12,000 a year? No? Well they should. A normal family would be able to and that money would cover their health expenses, too...I'm assuming.

Other, funnier issues they could've made fun of:
1) Global warming
2) Raising the federal minimum wage
3) Campagin finance reform

I think a key thing the RNC is missing with this one is that people like Stefan only compromise a small percentage of the Democratic party. And, more likely, us pinko freaks are probably too disenfranchised to really identify much with any particular party. On the other hand, I think middle-aged, middle-class white men make up the majority of the Republican base. They really are at a disadvantage when coming up with funny stereotypes. Plus, they're retarded.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Protecting My Chin

I haven't shaved in days (no, not my chest, my face. Pfft, I don't even shave my chest--I use wax.)

I look like the unabomber (is that reference too old to be useful, now? Can cultural references get too old? What if I compared myself to an Amos n' Andy character? All the actors were white, you know...).

Okay, this is the internet, right? Let's enjoy some multimedia:

I look like this:

There's something about school that throws off my circadian rhythms, and my facial hair goes all to hell. During the summer, when I had a job, I was clean shaven, I slept regularly, and I had a general concept of myself as a seperate entity who had to maintain his appearance as part of his functioning in society.

Now that I am back in school, I stopped shaving, stopped sleeping, and I clubbed some old lady on the bus earlier this morning, stole her lion skin, and buried her carcass in my cave.

What the fuck?

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Haunted by Punk Rock Ghosts

Whilst ripping CD's onto my laptop, I came across a cultural touchstone from my mispent youth, Plastic Surgery Disasters, by hardcore/punk rock magnates, the Dead Kennedys. After listening absently to the album while reading about property law, it occurred to me that the work was a harsh indictment of the new ambitions born of the last few weeks of my life. I'll get to that in a minute, but first, a little background:

So, at the end of August, I, as well as several hundred of my law school cohorts, suffered, smiled, and schmoozed our way through Early Interview Week (hereafter "EIW"--pronounced "ewwwwww!). During EIW, we sign up for short meetings with recruiters from big-time NYC law firms who threaten to overpay us for 10-12 weeks next summer with the hopes of overpaying and overworking us after we graduate. (For a more in-depth look at EIW, check out this post by classmate and fellow blogger, Man D.).

Here are three key steps of my EIW strategy that are pertinent to the whole indictment thing (I am currently completing Step 1):
1) Resume--Doing my best to overrepresent myself on my paper through careful, uh... interpretation of my legal and scholastic past. Using said resume and an according firm persona to secure a job.
2) Job--(over)work as a highly trained and highly paid legal cog in a large NYC firm which helps exponentially larger corporations exercise their fiduciary responsibilities by representing them in deals and conflicts with the governmental institutions and other large corporations. (Sentence intentionally constructed to imply what it implies).
3) Move--use my likeability (believe it or not) and other social skills to schmooze my way up through the ranks and then transfer to an office in San Francisco and moved to Sausalito, a picturesque, expensive little town in Marin County, north of S.F. proper. Once there, I will use my salary to purchase property, where I will stay and ignore the rest of the world and its depressing problems.

Ironically, these three steps are indicted in three different punk ragers from Plastic Surgery Disasters. What's worse, the order in which the tracks appear on the album corresponds to the chronological order of the three steps. Observe:

From track# 3, Terminal Preppie:

"My ambition in life
Is to look good on paper
All I want is a slot
In some big corporation . . .

Win! Win!
I always play to win
Wanna fit in like a cog
In the faceless machine"

From track #5, Well Paid Scientist:

"Company cocktails, gotta go
Say the right thing
Don't fidget, jockey for position
Be polite
In the pyramid you hate
Sip that scotch
Get that raise
This ain't no party at all

Something is wrong here
You won't find in on a shelf
You're well paid
You're well trained
You're tied to a rack"

From track #14, Moon Over Marin:

"The crowded future stings my eyes
I still find time to exercise
In uniform with two white stripes

Unlock my section of the sand
It's fenced off to the water's edge
I clamp a gasmask on my head

On my beach at night
Bathe in my moonlight

Another tanker's hit the rocks
Abandoned to spill out its guts
The sand is laced with sticky glops

O' Shimmering moonlight sheen upon
The waves and water clogged with oil
White gasses steam up from the soil

I squash dead fish between my toes
Try not to step on any bones
I turn around and I go home

I slip back through my basement door
Switch off all that I own below
Dive in my scalding wooden tub

My own beach at night
Electric Moonlight

There will always be a moon
Over Marin"

Ouch for me? Sure, it's been ten years since I bought Plastic Surgery (maybe someone else bought this particular copy, regardless, I listened to it), but the tale of the tape mirrors my own ambitions too closely for my comfort. Self-fulfilling prophecy or coincidence?

Regardless, it's actually a fantastic album.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Back From Hell (Back in Hell?)

Okay, despite popular belief¹, I am not dead. Do I wish I was dead? Well, that's another matter and not one particularly suited to a "welcome back" post such as this. Oh, that reminds me:

Welcome back.

During the summer, I enjoyed what individuals on the outside might normally refer to as "being human²." Now that I am back in the legal seminary, it occurs to me how esoteric³ I have become.

My areas of study are esoteric. (One of my last undergraduate courses was "Post-Colonial Studies of Literature in the English Language." Law school has only made me focus more narrowly--hence the upcoming "Advanced Topics in Art Law Seminar"--coming in 2007!)

My jokes are esoteric. (See footnote 2, below, and if you get the reference, you have my sympathies. Here's a hint: Diogenes, Aristotle, and a chicken.).

My conversations are esoteric. (If you don't believe me, ask anybody who has had the, ahem, "privilege" of sitting in on one of my witty exchanges with the young Mr. Portnoi).

My life has become a Monty Python skit, without the zany madcap that made that pre-post-modern television program so culturally palatable to the masses.

We all have our reasons for livingª, and I have decided that mine is based upon the exclusion of other people. Well, lucky for me, exclusion of the masses is a key element of the business of the practice of law. Please consider the following examples:

You are the buyer at a commercial business and you are making a large purchase. According to business customs, you write a contract to ensure that the agreement you have made with the seller (the exchange of money for goods) is binding. To write this contract, you will need the help of a lawyer. To interpret the contract, and protect his own interests, the seller will also need a laywer. Should the seller not send you the goods--despite you sending him the money--you will need a lawyer to help you "enforce" the agreement. In order to carry out the process of litigation, the seller will also need a lawyer. Both parties will submit arguments to a judge, who will interpret the situation with his own team of lawyers and lawyers-in-training and who is, herself, nothing more than a lawyer appointed to a higher post.
Simply put, if you wish to pursue your legal rights, you will, often, need a lawyer to do so. He is your intermediary into the complex world of law, and he gets a cut for everything he does.

This arrangement reminds me of a passage from Leviticus*. THE LORD explains to Moses that about the various "offerings" that must be made whenever a Israelite sins or is guilty of a sin, etc. Essentially, everytime an Israelite screws up, they have to take a healthy animal or animals that they possess and present it to the priests, who then "offer" it to THE LORD by cooking it so that THE LORD may enjoy the "aroma." What do you do after it's cooked? Well, Leviticus 7:7-10 tells us that:

7 "'The same law applies to both the sin offering and the guilt offering: They belong to the priest who makes atonement with them. 8 The priest who offers a burnt offering for anyone may keep its hide for himself. 9 Every grain offering baked in an oven or cooked in a pan or on a griddle belongs to the priest who offers it, 10 and every grain offering, whether mixed with oil or dry, belongs equally to all the sons of Aaron.'"

See also, Leviticus 7:28-34:

"28 The LORD said to Moses, 29 "Say to the Israelites: 'Anyone who brings a fellowship offering to the LORD is to bring part of it as his sacrifice to the LORD. 30 With his own hands he is to bring the offering made to the LORD by fire; he is to bring the fat, together with the breast, and wave the breast before the LORD as a wave offering. 31 The priest shall burn the fat on the altar, but the breast belongs to Aaron and his sons. 32 You are to give the right thigh of your fellowship offerings to the priest as a contribution. 33 The son of Aaron who offers the blood and the fat of the fellowship offering shall have the right thigh as his share. 34 From the fellowship offerings of the Israelites, I have taken the breast that is waved and the thigh that is presented and have given them to Aaron the priest and his sons as their regular share from the Israelites.' "

What a scam.

¹= For the purposes of this post, "popular belief" means the belief of a popular individual or individuals and not a belief held by a large portion of the population unless the individuals composing said portion are, themselves, independently popular.

²= For the purposes of this post, "human" means a featherless biped with flat fingernails.

³= Attention Family Guy fans, for the purposes of this post--and normal human communications--"esoteric" does not mean "delicious."

ª= No we don't, but the statement is a tried--and trite--literary device.

*= How esoteric of me.