Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Yet another reason to hate oil companies...


E. Spat has an incensing post about the continued fallout of the Exxon Valdez over at Favorable Dicta. I know some of you die-hard right wingers out there will say that Exxon has paid enough already, but I for one am shocked and dismayed that the once-pristine sound is still bathed in crude oil. I admit that I have yet to read the law review article she mentions, but if it is true that there is a provision in their settlement requiring Exxon to pay an extra $100m in a situation like this, then I think it is high time that those fat cats pay up.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Thanks to All the Vets

I meant to write this post sooner but was out of town for the weekend and did not have internet access. Just for the record, Lt. Dan is an internet name and I am not a veteran, nor did I serve in any of the armed forces. Perhaps my lack of military service is why I so greatly admire every soldier who volunteers to serve in our nation's military. They put themselves on the line for our freedom: so that people like me can go to law school and blog; so that we can have a free (and sometimes ungrateful) press; so that high school seniors can have the choice of whether they want to go to work, go to college, go in the military, or anything else their hearts desire. Without veterans none of this would be possible.
Veterans pay a high cost for our freedoms: some of them die in combat, some of them go crazy and never recover, some are haunted by nightmares, and some live ordinary lives after their service is over. Regardless, they all sacrificed at minimum part of their time to defend our country. Time they could have spent with their parents or spouses or children; time they could have spent at the beach or in the mountains or grilling out in the backyard; time they can never have back.
I hope today that you will take a moment to thank a veteran if you see one or just to say a silent prayer thanking God for their sacrifice. If you feel so inclined (and are not a broke law student), there is a charity which exists to give scholarships to the children of military and federal law enforcement officers who are killed in the line of duty. It is called the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation and I believe every dime donated goes to scholarships (in other words there is no overhead; I am pretty sure about this but did not specifically check). Giving to this foundation would be a great way to honor a veteran you know or to honor a veteran you don't know.
The heart of this post is that Memorial Day holds great meaning for Lt. Dan. I will never forget the sacrifice and selflessness of veterans because without them I would not be able to live the life I live.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Welcome back... or thanks for not leaving... or whatever...

Recently, our dean interviewed for and was offered a position as dean of the UNC School of Law - which is ranked somewhat higher than the fine institution where Dan, Boat, Paddle, and myself are presently wowing the legal world with our prowess and verbal acumen. The dean has been at the law school for about 15 years or so, and, under his guidance, it has risen from the 3rd tier into the top 40. He has already reached the point where he will be remembered as one of the "great men" of the school for many years to come. Nonetheless, we all expected him to take the deanship at UNC. It seems to me that he was sort of at a crossroads - if he stays here any longer, he runs the risk of becoming so intertwined with the institution that he will loose some of his own personality to the school. Though I wanted him to stay, it seemed like a prudent choice to go...

But, I learned today that he is not leaving us. I think this is great news. The school is on the rise and will presumably continue its ascent. We have all been speculating about what he will do for several months now, and I would have thought everyone would be excited about the news.

But when I mentioned the good news to some of the alums at my summer law firm, they all reacted the same way - by asking if he still has his "porn mustache". Nothing about the great things he has done for the school, nothing about the quality of his character, just a generalized concern about his upper lip.

For the record, he shaved the stache...

-----------------Before-----------------------------------After-------------

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Reporting or Making News?

I am generally annoyed by the media, as you can probably tell by my prior posts. I think the idea that they merely report the news is just ridiculous. The goal of nearly very major paper and broadcast news outlet is to stir the public into a frenzy by selectively reporting facts and shaping the ones they do report. An excellent example is the bird flu movie ABC ran during sweeps just a few weeks ago. The whole goal of the movie was to convince America that a devastating bird flu pandemic is very possible and therefore it is time to panic. It did my heart good to see that the movie bombed in ratings.
Even seemingly non-news channels are guilty of what I call "frenzy programming." The weather channel used report what actually was happening in the world around us. Now its programming largely revolves around "Storm Stories" which recounts past disasters. I can respect that: at least these shows consist of footage and models of actual events that have happened. On Sunday nights, however, the Weather Channel will show you what COULD happen if, for instance, another devastating earthquake hit San Francisco or a tornado hit Dallas or some other remotely possible event happened. This show is ominously called "It Could Happen Tomorrow." Well, I think that the idea of this show should be extended: there should be spinoffs showing how there could be a five car wreck and a person could be trapped in the bottom car when a giant car pile exploded or showing how 2 passenger jets could collide in midair killing 600 people and then the wreckage could fall onto an amphitheater and kill thousands more or showing how people could go to bed tonight and have a massive heartattack or showing how a person could cut his fingernails too short so they hurt for a week. All these events are just as likely as some catastrophic event in a major city. Somehow I don't think they will make a show about them however.
There are 2 articles today which relate to the "frenzy programming" phenomenom. The first analyzes how the media pats itself on the back for its Katrina coverage even though their coverage was factually inaccurate, making up negative facts (like gangs and murder in the Superdome) and ignoring positive facts (like the national guard response). The second discusses the concept of a network that would not do frenzy programming but would instead try to understand why and how history works. Victor Davis Hanson wrote an article some time back on the same general subject called "The Prison of the Present." That article discusses how the news networks lack any sense of historical perspective and try to put people in a frenzy. Just for kicks, you should also look at this article which Newsweek ran in the 70's about how global cooling was a consensus position among scientists.
I am heartened by the response of people in general: newspaper circulation is falling and the major news networks are shadows of their former selves. While the elites in the media will never understand why their numbers are falling, somehow I just don't see how people could want to watch stories about what might one day kill them over and over again. Normal people have enough real problems to worry about without thinking about how they could theoretically die in some remotely possile catastrophe.

Flight 93

First of all - I want to apologize for my extended absence absence from the blogosphere. Ever since exams have ended, I have been wrapped up in my new role as a high-powered law clerk, but that is sure to be the source of many other yarns and is beyond the scope of this post.

Anyhow, I went and watched "United 93" the other day, and it was pretty good. And, by "pretty good", I mean that it was so spot-on that the realness of it made me feel sick to my stomach several times. My fear in gong to the movie was that they would try to over-dramatize the passengers--that they would try to portray Todd Beamer as some sort of airborne William Wallace (sans the face paint and kilt) screaming "Let's Roll" at the top of his lungs while brandishing a broadsword and charging at the terrorists. Fortunately, that was not the case...

Go see the movie. You won't be able to quit thinking about exactly what was happening when it was all going down...

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

If Lt. Dan owned a ball team, this would be the one!

Another selection from the Foxnews.com Out There column.

Take Me Out to the Ballgame or I'll Sue
Wednesday, May 17, 2006

ALTOONA, Pa. — If you’re a baseball fan, you’ve likely been to a game on “Dollar Hot Dog Night” or maybe “Get Some Kind of Bag or Hat or Something Not Too Terribly Exciting Free at the Door Night.”
But if you happen to be a fan of the Altoona Curve, you can take yourself out to the ballgame on a themed evening that’s a wee bit more … creative.
Inspired by MLB's Los Angeles Angels fan who sued the team because he didn’t get a tote bag at the club’s Mother’s Day promotion last year, the Curve are inviting fans to attend “Salute to Frivolous Lawsuit Night” on July 2 at Blair County Ballpark, according to the team’s Web site, altoonacurve.com.
So what exactly does “Frivolous Lawsuit Night” entail? For starters, a whole bunch of lawsuit-friendly giveaways.
In case they, too, are a little miffed about being denied any Mother’s Day freebies, the first 137 guys at the park will be given a pink tote bag.
The first 137 thirsty but thermally unaware women in attendance will get burn-proof lukewarm coffee.
And the kiddos have a treat coming their way too. The first 137 inexplicably hungry children will get a beach ball, complete with a warning not to ingest it.
But the facetious fun doesn’t stop there.
In another nod to the Mother’s Day suit, Angels merchandise will be dished out throughout the game, and some of history’s finest frivolous lawsuits will be honored.
“We realize that these giveaways as part of our Salute to Frivolous Lawsuit Night are fairly stupid and serve no real purpose,” said Curve General Manager Todd Parnell. “But if our fans don’t like them, then they can sue us!”
Practicing corporate and sports attorney Chuck Greenberg, who also serves as the president and managing partner of the club, declined to comment on the festivities in fear his remarks could lead to — you guessed it — a frivolous lawsuit.
And it seems this isn’t the teams first foray into the realm of the outlandish theme night — they were honored by Minor League Baseball as the winner of the 2004 Larry MacPhail Award for promotional excellence.

Genius. Pure genius.

Monday, May 15, 2006

CNN: Bush League or Bush Haters?

Drudge is carrying a story about how CNN "mistakenly" aired 16 seconds of Bush rehearsing his immigration speech tonight. Apparently the network had to apologize for its "honest mistake" just like they earlier had to apologize for placing an "X" over the Vice President's face. This leaves us with two possible alternatives: 1) CNN is run by completely incompetent people who cannot keep rehearsals separate from live feeds or 2) CNN hates the Bush administration and is invested in their defeat no matter what the consequences. I suspect the latter and, given CNN's ratings versus Fox News and other networks, I have a feeling the American people agree with me.
Liberal bias? No way. Just listen to the liberal media who proclaim they give you the straight story as they place X's on vice presidents and "confuse" where the president stammers, stops, and asks for assistance with live video feeds.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Kennedy Karma

So in case you haven't heard, Teddy's jet was struck by lightning yesterday while flying to the Cape. He had just given a commencement address, which judging by God's response must have been full of his normal "jibber-jabber" and "poopy-cock" (if you don't watch Boston Legal you should). In all seriousness, I am glad Teddy landed safely on the Cape because I can't imagine how much more successful the democratic party would be if that blowhard stopped blowing.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Anybody want to buy California?

Fox News has a frequent "Out There" column which they update probably 5 times a week with quirky news stories from around the world. One of the stories from today read:
New Zealand Is Clearly Not for Sale? Dang
SYDNEY, Australia (AP) — New Zealand is not for sale, despite somebody in neighboring Australia trying to offload the nation of 4 million to the highest online bidder.
With a starting offer of just one cent, brisk bidding for the prime chunk of South Pacific real estate quickly boosted the price to $2,330 before eBay pulled the plug on the auction this week.
"Clearly New Zealand is not for sale," eBay Australia spokesman Daniel Feiler told the New Zealand Press Association, adding that 22 bids had been made before the company acted.
"It is mostly household items we have for sale, but there are the occasional quirky items put up," he added. "We have a look at them and if they are OK we leave them, but if it is something that can't be sold, we take them off."
The trader has not been named, but apparently was unimpressed with the country he was trying to sell.
The rivalry between the two countries is intense and in his advertisement the man said New Zealand had "very ordinary weather."

This has inspired me. Through this blog, I would like to put up for sale every state that voted for John Kerry and Mississippi. Bidding starts at $1 for each state. The winning bidder gets all the rights and privileges that I currently own in the state they purchase. Please make all checks payable to "Lt. Dan."

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Luttig Leaves

All you Supreme Court clerk wannabees should don a black armband today, as the #1 feeder judge, Michael Luttig, has just resigned from the judiciary to become the general council to Boeing. Though primarily citing financial concerns, one must believe that Luttig became skeptical that he would ever ascend to the Supreme Court after being passed over twice by Bush earlier this year. As the Paddle pointed out to me earlier, I'm sure the lucky 3L's who thought they were heading to clerk for Luttig next year are not having a very good day.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Why I favor unfettered immigration


Because an America without burritos would be like a day without sunshine...

Grades

Now that I have finished my exams for the semester, I can now begin the interminable wait until grades come out. In tumultuous times like these, I always turn to the words of the warrior poet Buffalo Wings & Vodka for comfort. Thus, I present for your reading enjoyment:

Eleven Answers to the Question “How Did Your Grades Turn Out?

“Awesome. We use a C+ curve, right?”

“Haven’t gotten ‘em yet. They’re still trying to figure out how to calculate an A-plus-plus.”

“I don’t know…everything after the congratulatory call from Justice O’Connor is pretty much a blur.”

“There are brown mice and white mice. I’m definitely a brown mouse.”

“I could totally beat you at Super Mario 3.”

“Letters, mostly.”

“To tell you the truth, I was pretty disappointed. 4.3 is kind of my unlucky number.”

“Come again? I am not from your country. Please pass the biscuits.”

“A lady never reveals her grades.” (Only works for ladies.)

“Not so great. But at least my nose isn’t gushing blood.”

“How are my grades? Great! How’s that bedwetting thing going?”

Monday, May 08, 2006

What can Business Organizations law teach us about international policy?

It is a well established principle of business organizations law that the primary goal of a coporation is to make money for the shareholders.

This notion was articulated in the famous case of Ford v. Dodge, where shareholders filed suit after Henry Ford stopped declaring dividends, and attempted to cut the price of his cars in order to increase the number of people who could afford them.

Ford explained that his actions were motivated by altruistic purposes: "My ambition is to employ still more men, to spread the benefits of this industrial system to the greatest possible number, to help them build up their lives and their homes. To do this we are putting the greatest share of our profits back in the business."

The Court held that a corporation is organized primarily for the profit of the stockholders and decisions by the board of directors should be aimed at acheiving this end. To make business decisions primarily aimed at benefitting the public would be a breech of the director's fiduciary duty to the corporation. The court thus ordered Ford to pay dividends.

The interesting point, in my opinion, is how this framework would apply in the political context. If we were to view the federal government as the company, Congress & the President as its directors, & the citizens as the shareholders, what would be the business purpose of the federal government?

Continuing with this analogy, if the fundamental purpose of the government was to ensure the highest quality of life for its citizens (I'd be interested to hear what are some other possible purposes), how would this affect our role in world policy? Would the government breech its fiduciary duty by sending troops to Iraq if there were still murders in our cities, or sending relief to Africa if our streets are filled with the poor and homeless?

Thoughts?

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Delicious Ideas from the NY Times

A must read article for all you beef cheek, lamb neck, tongue, and pig's feet lovers out there. And you thought the NY Times was an elitist newspaper.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

A Must Read

Check out this great article by Professor James Gordon. This is definitely the first time I have laughed out loud while reading an article in the Yale Law Journal. 100 Yale L.J. 1679.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Coincidence?

May 1st, 2006: Illegal imigrants and their supporters across America engage in a nationwide boycott to display their economic clout in protest of immigration reform.

May 5th, 2006: The Dow Jones industrial average surged to its highest level in six years, only 145 points shy of its all-time high.

NBA or NFL?

Guess which organization's members have done the following:

36 have been accused of spousal abuse

7 have been arrested for fraud

19 have been accused of writing bad checks

117 have directly or indirectly bankrupted at least 2 businesses

3 have done time for assault

71, repeat 71 cannot get a credit card due to bad credit

14 have been arrested on drug-related charges

8 have been arrested for shoplifting

21 currently are defendants in lawsuits, and

84 have been arrested for drunk driving in the last year

Can you guess which organization this is?


Neither, it's the 535 members of the United States Congress.

The same group of individuals that crank out hundreds of new laws each year
designed to keep the rest of us in line.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

One Way to Blow Off Steam During Exams

As any of you in law school in Alabama know, this week is smack dab in the middle of that yearly torture known as final exams. More than 1 law student has been known to run shrieking from the room in terror before the exam even starts. I remember walking into my first exam during my first year and wondering who had died. The room was eerily quiet like in a horror movie just before the killer jumps out from behind the door and stabs the scantily clad woman, causing all but the most seasoned movie patrons to jump in their seat (don't deny it, you jump). People were feverishly reading through their outlines. Some had ear plugs so they could not hear anything, others had heavy metal or rock blaring, and I am sure that a few in the room had motivational tapes ("You can do it. You will not run out screaming and waste your tuition money. You are the smartest person in the room.") and prayers going in the headphones (I hear the pope has a lovely law school blessing). I put my stuff down and left the room quickly. I was not happy to be taking exams but I also knew that if I treated it like a funeral, it might just become one.
Since first year, exams have not become less stressful but, like getting multiple shots at one time, you get used to the pain after a while and learn to cope with it. So, in the middle of this exam period I had one afternoon when I actually did not feel compelled to study. So, what did I do? My wife and I went for a walk...in a pouring rain storm. No, it was not pouring when we left, just threatening (although I was pretty sure when we left that we would not return wet merely with sweat). When we got around 1.5 miles from our house, the bottom fell out and we got soaked. It was wonderful. My wife and I were laughing, we jumped in puddles, and, for about 15 or 20 minutes, I forgot that I still had to take another final.
So, for those of you stressed out over work or finals or some other reason, look at the weather forecast (I can tell those of you in Alabama that it is supposed to rain this weekend) and time your walk accordingly. You won't be sorry you did (unless you get sick, in which case I disclaim all liability for myself and this blog).

Fairwell, Uncle Louie

Growing up, my dad was in the financial services business. This meant that every night when he came home we as a family would all sit down and he would watch CNN Headline New's 30 minute looping segment for at least 2 hours (OK...he never really watched much except the part about the stock market but he would get mad if anybody wanted to change the TV; to this day he still claims that he does not watch too much TV but if you try to change the channel he complains).
Friday was a special night. When he came home we would all go out to a local steak house buffet and have dinner. We always went early because we had to be back for 1 television show that we never missed: Wall Street Week. Every week for probably the first 10 years of my life we watched that show. I can still hum the tune to the opening song and can remember how Louis Rukeyser, the host, would say "I'm Louis Rukeyser, this is Wall Street Week. Welcome back." While I did not understand a word of what was said (I was usually playing with toys or fighting with a sibling at the time), I grew used to "Uncle Louie's" soothing voice every week.
I learned that he died on Tuesday at the age of 73 (click here to read the story). Sadly I never met the man, but I felt like I knew him. Who knows, all those early years of listening to him explain financial markets and interviewing prominent CEO's might have made me into the free market conservative I am today. Anyway, I just thought that he deserved a tribute. So farewell Uncle Louie. You will be missed.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Just Another Reason Why You Shouldn't Skip the Footnotes

Check out footnote 23 from Professor Cherry's article on contracts: "An arm's-length transaction with a T-Rex would be an interesting arrangement, given their tiny forelimbs." For more info, check this out.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Blogger Unmasked

After great fanfare & anticipation, Juan Non-Volokh of the Conspiracy is none other than (drumroll if you please) Johnathan Adler. This revelation brings forth an even greater mystery. Who is Johnathan Adler?

Reefer Madness

It seems that the Univ. of Colorado police have declared their own little war on drugs. At UC (and other colleges) there is a well-followed tradition wherein multitudes of students gather at 4:20 pm on April 20th (4/20) at a prearranged location (at UC it is Farrand Field in Boulder) to spark their doobies in an open celebration of marijuana. Many campuses tolerate this at a form of civil protest, or simply dismiss it a kids being kids and turn a blind eye. Not so at UC...

On Apr 20 of last year, the UC campus police (hereafter "campos") posted signs around the field saying students were not allowed—when the students overran the field and started puffin’ their cheeba anyway, the campos turned the sprinklers on them. This year, they again posted signs and stationed armed campos around the perimeter, but they were powerless as thousands of students overran the field with their bags of ganja at four twenty. This year, instead of the sprinklers, the campos turned cameras on the students. To bring the stoners to justice, the campos have now posted photos on a website and offered $50 for each positive identification of one of these neo-hippies.

My first though was "cool!" These people are voluptuaries who flagrantly thumb their noses at authority in pursuit of a hedonistic self-indulgence and should be prosecuted. But, I couldn’t help but wonder if my reaction was more of a product of the fact that I don't smoke pot and generally don't care for people who do? Or is it just that a "law" was broken and I support the authorities bringing them to justice?


However, as I thought more about this, I realized that I am usually outraged over the prosecution of other "benign" crimes (yes, I can admit that smoking pot is relatively benign) like driving a little too fast or "stealing" music off the internet. Perhaps these students (when they are not too high to think such thoughts) feel the same way and actually are celebrating 4:20 to make a statement—to proudly say to the world they think ole' mary jane is alright. But, if this is the case, there should be no whining. They should proudly toke their bongs in the very places they are likely to get caught and call attention to the "injustice" of their arrest. Perhaps they will garner attention to their cause and get the hash legalized.

Personally, I don't think the students are so high-minded (pun intended). I think they are probably a bunch of counter-productive punks who get a kick out playing Tom and Jerry with the campos.

But, for the select few that may be doing it in civil protest I say "bravo", and Godspeed to you in your quest (and watch out for the corn-hole when you are in the city jail over the weekend). Stand up to authority if you really feel this strong, and once they let you out of the poke, don't just go back to the field—take your hash pipe to the state house steps there in Boulder and smoke it proudly. Even thought I don’t care to see marijuana legalized, I support your open protest of laws that you think are unjust, and I stand beside you (metaphorically of course).

I'll be the guy driving a mini-van on I-20 w/ the cruise control set at a rakish 16 mph over the speed "limit" and listening to music I "stole" when Napster still worked—waging my own little jihad on oppressive copyright and traffic laws.

Special thanks to the profs over at Concuring Opinions for the 4:20 story...