Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Most Generous Nation on Earth

The NY Times has an interesting story out called "Many Dismissing 'Donor Fatigue' as Myth". With the usual Times spin they seem to decry congress' cutting of taxes to spur on charitable giving in the wake of Katrina as unwarranted and costing the government billions when people were going to give anyway (leave it to the Times to turn a story about generosity into an instrument to complain about tax cuts).
The important part of the story is that charitable giving, despite the huge outpouring of charity after Katrina and the Tsunami relief efforts, that the American people gave about the same amount to charity as they did before those disasters. I would add that they gave despite the fact that gas prices were up and news outlets like the NY Times were decrying the state of our economy (which is roaring along by the way, not that you would know it from news stories). Maybe the times should have done one of their famous human interest type stories where they go out and interview ordinary people to see how something affected them (there is another story there today about the trickle down effects of high gas prices and how it is effecting everyone; funny how they will interview people for that type story but not for a story about charitable giving). I think they would have learned a ton about the American people that would help explain why the Times readership is down and they are having to lay off staff.
They would have probably learned that the American people are compassionate and caring; that no matter how bad they may have it because of poverty or sickness or other circumstances, they are always looking to help other people; that they appreciate just how blessed they are to live in a free country where they have the freedom to earn more money than most people on earth can dream about and want to share their abundance. My dad has been on the board of a charity for years and told me how he went and made a presentation to factory workers, and how they pledged to give over 10% of their already modest income to the charity. While I have not seen any studies on the matter, I would wager that people from all income levels give to charity.
I am extremely grateful to live in America. I am grateful for its freedom, its opportunities, and its commitment to spreading freedom throughout the world. However, what I love most about America are the American people. It is the American people that make America great and it is their compassion and generosity that make it, in the words of Ronald Reagan, the shining city on a hill.

$1.7 Million for Being Spanked

I think this story is just too good to pass up. Yes, I understand that employers should not spank there employees and thus I don't have a problem with the plaintiff being compensated but I do have a problem with the amount of damages as well as a quote from the plaintiff.

First, as to the damages, they are ridiculously high. Every day there are wrongful death suits that result in far less damages than this for far more egregious acts. In addition, I have even worked on a case where a man got his thumb cut off and did not even receive six figures. Not to be crass, but this case begs the question, would you get spanked for $1.7 million?

Second, I think the quote from the plaintiff's attorney is ridiculous:

"Nationwide this will make for a safer workplace, help ensure less harassment in the workplace," Orlando's attorney Nicholas "Butch" Wagner told Reuters.

Well, Butch that is a great soundbite but you have to be kidding me. I just don't by into the belief that there are numerous employers who spank employees for being late to sales meetings, as was the case for this company. Butch also later states that this was sex discrimination in that women were predominantly spanked. That begs the question, why are women always late?

So, sure compensate the woman for getting spanked but don't give her $1.7 million and try to act like this is some monumental case. For goodness sakes, it was a policy of the company to spank so if the plaintiff didn't want to get spanked she could either (1) quit or (2) be on time.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Who is Brad Pitt?

Not only has Gump's Law influenced the national news (see Our Following Keeps Going & Going), it appears that we are at the forefront of the entertainment industry as well. Less than a week after I dedicated a post to the patron saint of capitalism, John Gault, this tidbit came to my attention.

That's right friends, Gump's Law is leading the way again!

Look Out US: Here Come the French.

The much maligned French seem to have figured out how to compete with the US economy: by creating the French version of Google. Yep, having failed at any semblance of free market reform and instead choosing to permanently enshrine and celebrate nearly double digit unemployment, they have learned their lesson: the US is great because of Google. Forget our free markets, educational system where post-high school training is available to almost anyone who wants it, and our constitution; the real reason the US is a world leader is Google!
The story is entitled "Chirac unveils his grand plan to restore French pride" and can be found here. Along with plans to creat a French Google, Chirac unveiled 5 other plans: "A plan for delivering high-quality television to mobile phones, a project for refineries to turn cereals into chemicals, a new light train system, and diesel and electric cars are to be part-funded by the Agency for Industrial Innovation, set up by Mr Chirac. German companies and scientists will work with French industry on the projects." Look out: TV on their cell phones. This really might make the French more like America in that it could lead to more traffic accidents.
It is obvious France truly understands how the world works and what makes a country great: it is OK if 10% of country is unemployed as long as you have Google and TV on your cell phone. The students who rioted should love this: they have no jobs and nothing better to do than surf the internet and watch TV. The only thing that Chirac forgot is some sort of French version of Halo or Doom or Call of Duty (well maybe not Call of Duty; a French version would involve one gunshot followed by a white flag and waiting until the Americans showed up to save you). With initiatives like this we might be speaking French in 10 years; this blog might have to be renamed Le Gump's Law.

What is a Billion?

This is for all you fiscal liberals out there (yes, you too W.!)

I got this e-mail today discussing what exactly a billion is. It sure makes you think about how great it would be to have some fiscal conservatives in Washington to stop all this mess. By the way, as a quick disclaimer, Gump's Law nor Ping-Pong Paddle are intending to offend the city of New Orleans or its citizens.

Enjoy:
Here's some thought provoking information:
The next time you hear a politician use the word "billion" in a casualmanner, think about whether you want the "politicians" spending your tax money.A billion is a difficult number to comprehend, but one advertising agency did a good job of putting that figure into some perspective in one of its releases.

a. A billion seconds ago it was 1959.

b. A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive.

c. A billion hours ago our ancestors were living in the Stone Age.

d. A billion days ago no-one walked on the earth on two feet.

e. A billion dollars ago was only 8 hours and 20 minutes, at the rate our government is spending it.

While this thought is still fresh in our brain, let's take a look at New Orleans - It's amazing what you can learn with some simple division ............Louisiana Senator, Mary Landrieu (D), is presently asking the Congress for $250 BILLION to rebuild New Orleans.

Interesting number, what does it mean?

Well, if you are one of 484,674 residents of New Orleans (every man, woman, child), you each get $516, 528.

Or, if you have one of the 188,251 homes in New Orleans, your home gets $1,329,787

Or, if you are a family of four, your family gets $2,066,012.

Washington, D.C. !!!...........................Are all your calculators broken????

Maybe everyone should just flood their houses, then we can all be on the "big easy" street for the rest of our lives, and forget about working, and paying taxes and all that useless stuff!

Don't Worry, It's Dishwasher Safe!

When I got out of bed this morning I dropped the TV remote on my toe and had to reach under the bed to get it out. When I brought it out, it was upside down and I noticed a small bit of writing I had never seen before: "Made in Singapore Not Dishwasher Safe." I panicked immediately: I had been washing that remote in the dishwasher for years! Thank goodness it was still working.
Subsequently I checked the remotes to my other TV and I also checked my laptop. I was relieved to find that neither of them said they were not dishwasher safe so I am free to continue to put them in there. As for the remote that is not dishwasher safe, it didn't say anything about not being safe for my clothes washing machine.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Bitch is Back

I'm happy to report that the somewhat disturbed, yet incredibly entertaining, Article III Groupie has reappeared again at Underneath their Robes.

Lawyer Break-Ups

This might come in handy.


Our Following Keeps Growing and Growing...

Our blog reaches new and bigger audiences everyday. Just take a look at the Wall Street Journal's editorial page today: Headline Denny Pelosi; Description: Gas prices rise, and Republicans sound like Nancy Pelosi (Article here; may require free registration to read it).
Sample lines from the article: "If blaming private industry for Congress's own energy mistakes is the best the GOP can do, no wonder its voters may sit out the November election."
"Oil prices hit $75 a barrel last week, while gas has reached a national average of about $2.85 a gallon. The Republican response has been to put on Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi fright wigs and shout about corporate greed and market manipulation. House Speaker Denny Hastert and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist fired off a letter to President Bush yesterday demanding the Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department investigate "price fixing" and "gouging." Senator Arlen Specter wants to go further and impose stricter "antitrust" laws for oil companies, as well as a "windfall profits" tax. Mr. Hastert also delighted the class warriors in the press corps by lambasting recently retired Exxon CEO Lee Raymond's pay "unconscionable." There's been unconscionable behavior all right, most of it on Capitol Hill. A decent portion of the latest run-up in gas prices--and the entire cause of recent spot shortages--is the direct result of the energy bill Congress passed last summer. That self-serving legislation handed Congress's friends in the ethanol lobby a mandate that forces drivers to use 7.5 billion gallons annually of that oxygenate by 2012."
And, the money line: "In short, the only market manipulation has been by politicians. For the record, the FTC has an entire crew that pores over weekly average gas prices in hundreds of cities, looking for evidence of gouging--to no avail. Perhaps this is because no oil company controls enough of the market to exercise enough power to raise prices. The Hastert-Frist call for an investigation is nothing but short-attention-span political theater."
Yet another reason to read this blog: what we debate today will be in the national papers tomorrow. I will let you decide if Lt. Dan actually wrote the article for the WSJ or not.

Monday, April 24, 2006

W thinks they are gouging us too...

I know it is probably all just a show for the voters, but check this out! Gault's head on a platter--yeah!

Moral relativism is bad...

I just wanted to offer our warmest regards to anyone visiting by way of Southern Appeal. I don't know how the Fedster came across our little corner of the blogosphere, but we are glad he did!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Update on the Elect

Thanks to Prettier than Napolean for this updated list on next year's crop of Supreme Court clerks. I'd like to take a moment to pay homage to Adam Conrad of UGA who is keeping the hopes alive of all the state school kids who dream of greatness (I don't recognize UVA as a state school & neither does anyone else).

Kennedy:
Dave Foster (Harvard '05/Kozinski)
Mark Yohalem (Harvard '05/Rymer)
Eric Murphy (Chicago '05/Wilkinson)
Lisa Marshall (Yale '05/Leval)

Souter:
David Han (Harvard '05/Boudin)
Daniel Tenny (Michigan '05/Tatel)
Bryan Leach (Yale '05/Cabranes)
Boris Bershteyn (Yale '04/Cabranes)

Scalia:
Dan Bress (UVA '05/Wilkinson '05-'06)
Louis A. Chaiten (Northwestern '98/Sutton '03-'04)
Joshua Lipshutz (Stanford '05/Kozinski '05-'06)
Hashim Mooppan (Harvard '05/Luttigator '05-'06)

Stevens:
Nick Bagley (NYU '05/Tatel)
Chad Golder (Yale '05/Garland)
Jamal Greene (Yale '05/Guidomaniac)
Lauren Sudeall (Harvard '05/Bleeding Reinhardt)

Ginsburg:
Kate Andrias (Yale '04/Bleeding Reinhardt '04-'05)
Scott Hershovitz (Yale '04/W. Fletcher '04-'05)
Daphna Renan (Yale '04/Edwards '04-'05)
Arun Subramanian (Columbia '04/Jacobs '04-'05/G. Lynch '05-'06)

Breyer:
Stephen Shackleford (Harvard '05/Boudin)
Thiru Vignarajah (Harvard '05/Calabresi)
Tacy Flint (Chicago '04/'05, Posner)
Jaren Casazza (Columbia '04/Jacobs '04-'05/Wood '05-'06)

Thomas:
John Adams (UVA '03/Sentelle-tubby '03-'04)
David Bragdon (UVA '02/S. Williams '02-'03)
Brandt Leibe (Yale '05/Luttigator '05-'06)
Adam Conrad (Georgia '05/Sentelle '05-'06)

Roberts:
George Hicks (Harvard '05/Brown)
Felicia Ellsworth (Chicago '05/Boudin)
Paul Nathanson (Harvard '04/Niemeyer/Silberman)
Keenan Kmiec (Boalt '04/Alito/Sentelle)

Alito:
?
?
?
?

*At this time, Gump's Law cannot substantiate the rumor that Joe Biden will be one of Alito's clerks next term. We will provide more information on this when it comes available.

McNair Trial Over - Convictons All Around...

Somewhat surprisingly, the civil-rights activist (and eternally grieving father—turned commissioner) was convicted on bribery and conspiracy charges on Friday. I say "surprising" because I had predicted jury nullification. I figured that the hugely sympathetic, 80-yr old civil rights unifier—tried in his adoring hometown by sinister out-of-state prosecutors—would be acquitted by a friendly jury. And from what I saw, the prosecutors seemed to give them lots of reasons to do it too. Admittedly, I only saw parts of the trial, but what I did see was a robotic and boring team of prosecutors that refused to apply some of the most elementary techniques of white-collar litigation. I saw the lead prosecutor drive of one of McNair's surviving daughters to tears while she was on the stand as a government witness (presumably under a subpoena—but he never explained that to the jury). The black women on the jury appeared ready to leap out of their chairs and take him out. The prosecutor continued his direct through the daughter's tears and sobs until one of the myriad defense lawyers walked to the witness stand (while the prosecutor continued to drone on) and offered her a handkerchief. You could smell the jury's distaste for the government...


But in the end, justice seems to have prevailed. So, “kudos” to the prosecutors, for rising above their pedestrian trial tactics to get the conviction. I guess juries sometimes do listen to the evidence…

One of the more interesting (and frankly disturbing) developments of late is the post-hoc grumblings that the black community should have "done more" for the commissioner during his trial. What's that all about? Consider this: Joe Dickson (a civil rights activist and former publisher of The Birmingham World, a black newspaper) "said he wished that McNair could have rallied black preachers to come to his trial the way that Richard Scrushy - who is white - did when he was acquitted of criminal charges of fraud at HealthSouth Corp. 'I'm sorry nobody came to back him up the way they backed Scrushy up.'" What? Is he just saying that we should have shown solidarity and personal forgiveness for an otherwise great man in his time of need, or is he bemoaning the fact that the community didn't rise up and duplicate its pathetic show of well-compensated grandstanding that bought an acquittal for "brother Richard"? I fear it is the latter. While I am already saddened that a crook like Scrushy was able to sow his money in poor black churches and reap a harvest of public support (that undoubtedly helped his case) I am totally appalled to hear our leaders suggest that should be the status quo! If McNair had thrown around half the money that Scrushy did, we would have seen just as many hired preachers laying hands on him in the courtroom—and it would have been just as tragic and unjust if it had worked for him too…

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Beyond Gas Companies: A Fuller Picture of the Price of Gas

As a follow up to Shrimp Boat's last post and to the comments thereto, Lt. Dan got curious as to what all goes into the price of a gallon of gas. After some minimal research here is what I found:

According to CNN.com, last September 39.7 cents per gallon could be attributed to gas taxes (this was the most current data I could find; table here). Also in the price of gas is the price of the current MTBE (an additive that pollutes ground water) phaseout for ethanol.

Additionally, the price of refining goes into a gallon of gasoline. While this seems like a routine cost, environmental regulations in the US have insured that there have been no new oil refineries in the US in the last 29 years. Somehow I think that the demand for gas has increased since 1977 (by 45% according to one news story) and that new refineries could probably have helped with gas prices. Furthermore, according to an article on a new refinery that is supposed to open by 2009, it took the owner of the refinery 15 years to get the requisite permits and permission slips worked out, and will cost $3 billion. (Story here; another story on same topic here). One of the story reports that the prince of Saudi Arabia could ship more oil here but it wouldn't matter because US refineries couldn't process it. Hmmm...sounds like that could influence oil prices.

There is also the old supply and demand fact that when demand goes up in the summer months, so do prices as supplies are squeezed.
We also get our gas from the most volatile region in the world (I have heard arguments that general unrest around Iran and Iraq adds $10 dollars to the price of a barrel of oil) and from companies who conspire to manipulate the price of crude oil barrels so they can make a killing. Just notice the next time OPEC meets to determine how much oil they will supply a day: they will justify their decision by saying something like "Because we want oil to be X dollars, we are increasing/decreasing supply." Most of the time their actions will translate into oil prices being about what they want them to be.

I don't want to sound like I am giving the oil companies a free pass because I am not. They may very well have raised prices more than they should and genuinely screwed everyone who has to buy gas. At the same time, however, I do note that there are a ton of variables that contribute to the price of gas. From government cartels to regulatory restrictions and taxation, gasoline companies have a lot less influence on the price of gasoline than the public and politicians want to give them credit for. They are not non-profit corporations either: they exist to make money and, when the price of crude oil goes up, it follows that they are going to make more money than when oil prices are low.

I am just as ticked off about gas prices as the next guy: I think gas should be under $2 a gallon. At the same time, to exclusively blame gasoline companies for high gas prices is to leave out huge parts of the true equation.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Who is John Gault?

I find it deeply troubling the extent that large oil companies have been vilified over the past year. It almost seems paradoxical that in a capitalistic society there is such a backlash against a company simply because it is successful. At least to my knowledge, there is no indication that oil companies are doing anything that is illegal. This consumer outrage appears to be a reflection of a more general feeling of consumer entitlement that appears throughout our society. I use the phrase consumer entitlement to describe a societal notion that certain goods and services belong to the public as a right. Aside from gasoline, this notion has appeared from music (Napster) to medicine (Prescription Drug Prices). I'm not sure what the continuation of this trend means for the US, but penalizing companies for making money certainly doesn't bode well for the future.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Perfect Law Student Book

As a law student, people often ask me what I read for fun. After I laugh, they seem to realize that I don't have too much time for pleasure reading. However, that has changed in recent weeks as I think I have discovered the perfect pleasure book for law students. The book is entitled: "I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After 20 Years Away" and is written by Bill Bryson. Basically, the book is a series of short (3-5 pages each) columns making fun of all the frustrating things in life. The columns originally appeared in a London newspaper when he returned to the States after living in England for 20 years. Though some stories are better than others, the fact that I can end my day by spending 15 minutes reading genuinely funny and cynical pieces is great.

If you are interested, check out the book here.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Courtroom drama in our backyard...

I had a chance to watch part of the Chris McNair trial the other day--I had no Idea it was even going on (although as a law review dork who spends all his time studying, I am probably not a good barometer of current events...) until I went to watch it. Interesting sub-plot. Here it is in a nutshell: Father of one of the 4 young black girls slain in the 16th St. bombing (back in the really dark days when Birmingham was "Bombingham") rises to prominence as the first black state senator and later as the Jefferson County Commissioner; he was recently indicted in a bribery scheme; his defense lawyer is none other than Doug Jones, the prominent B'ham lawyer that made a name for himself when, as U.S. Attorney, he convicted the men who bombed the 16th St. Baptist Church...

The popular scuttlebut at the courthouse is that no Birmingham jury will ever convict Chris McNair--oh yeah, did I mention that some of the alleged kickback money was used to build a memorial to his murdered daughter?

Read about the trial here, here, here, here, and here

Friday, April 14, 2006

Scientific Discovery of the Year: Ancient Worm Crap!

From our friends at Fox News who picked up the article from the AP wire:

Geologists Find 500-Million-Year-Old Feces
Thursday , April 13, 2006

STOCKHOLM, Sweden — Swedish geologists have found fossilized feces from a worm that lived some 500 million years ago, media reports said Wednesday.
The tiny piles of feces were found embedded in rock-face near Malmo in southern Sweden by geologists Mats Eriksson and Fredrik Terfelt, the newspaper Sydsvenskan reported.
Eriksson told the newspaper they examined the level of phosphorus of the samples and that "we realized pretty soon that it could not be anything other than coprolites — in other words, fossilized dung."
Terfelt described the find as "unique."
"Cambrian scientists will certainly find them very interesting," Terfelt said.
The two are researching geology at Lund University in southern Sweden, and said they are working on an article about the find that will be published in an international magazine shortly.
"It is inevitable to joke about this, so we gave it the title 'Anomalous faces and ancient feces,'" Eriksson said.

Keep up the good work boys. I can't wait until the article comes out.

Let's All Move to San Francisco

The REAL news story that has been ignored during this newest Barry Bonds fiasco, is not that he is potentially facing criminal charges for perjury in the Balco case (http://www.cnn.com/2006/LAW/04/13/bonds.steroid/index.html), but that the city of San Francisco (& the entire Northern District of California for that matter) has apparantly rid itself of all federal crimes.

Why else would a US Attorney's office spend valuable time and taxpayer dollars trying to ensure that Barry Bonds' name gets an asterisks in the record book if they were still combatting-as according to their website-crimes such as computer hacking, accounting and securities fraud, narcotics trafficking, bank robbery, guns, violence, environmental crime, civil rights violations, and terrorist activities?

Since I can't imagine a government offical would ever exploit his office for political gains, it must be the case that there are no more guns, drugs, or suicide bombers in Northern CA.

Let's all give a round of applause for US Attorney Kevin Ryan for making the Northern District of CA the safest place on the planet.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Tax Freedom Day

Larry Kudlow, one of Lt. Dan's favorite economists along with Art Laffer and Milton Friedman, states on the Real Clear Politics Blog (www.realclearpolitics.com/blog) that tax freedom day this year (the day when you have earned enough to pay your taxes) comes after 116 days. 116 days...think about that: that is nearly 4 months. That is 16.5 weeks. Assuming that you work a 40 hour week, that is 660 hours--660 hours that you work to fund such wonderful things as prayer research (see my prior posts), bridges to nowhere in Alaska, railroads to nowhere in Mississippi, and I'll let you fill in the rest.
Many members of congress run on their record of bringing home the bacon, i.e., funding pet projects in their state or district. If you vote for someone based on their ability to spend federal money, you are basically saying you enjoy working nearly 1/3 of your year for the government. Forgive me for being blunt, but I don't enjoy working for the government and I think that the congressmen and women who bring home the most bacon should also be the first one's voted out (whether they are Republicans or Democrats).
What sucks is that Republicans are spending money like Democrats did when they were in charge and Democrats are promising to raise taxes, perhaps to make us work a full 1/3 of our year for the government, if they are put back in charge. I vote in disgust for Republicans, at least right now, because they are the lesser of 2 evils. Hopefully one day enough people will speak up to change Republicans back to the smaller government party they used to be. Until then, Lt. Dan will continue to complain and urge others to do the same.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Taking a Bite Out of Crime

Thanks to the AP for this interesting report.

TACOMA, Washington (AP)
Government lawyers tried to remove and confiscate the gold dental work known as "grills" or "grillz" from the mouths of two men facing drug charges.

Flenard T. Neal Jr. and Donald Jamar Lewis, charged with several drug and weapon violations, were taken on Tuesday from the Federal Detention Center to the U.S. Marshal's office, where they were told the government had a warrant to seize their grills.

Before being put into a vehicle to be taken to a dentist in Seattle, they called their lawyers, who were able to halt the seizure, said Miriam Schwartz, Neal's public defender. A permanent stay of the seizure order was signed Tuesday by U.S. Magistrate J. Kelley Arnold, court documents show.

Grills, popularized by rappers such as Nelly, are customized tooth caps made of precious metals and jewels and can cost thousands of dollars for a full set. Some can be snapped onto the teeth like an orthodontic retainer, and others are permanently bonded to the teeth.

Neal and Lewis have permanently bonded grills, their lawyers said, declining to provide more description.

Government lawyers who asked a federal judge on March 29 to order confiscation of the grills said they did not know the caps had been bonded to the defendants' teeth.

"Asset forfeiture is a fairly routine procedure, and our attorneys were under the impression that these snapped out like a retainer," said Emily Langlie, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in Seattle.

Once the government understood that removal of the grills could damage the defendants' teeth, they abandoned the seizure attempt, she said.


I guess that's one more reason why it's not a good idea to get a nipple ring.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Phil's Hair


Though I obviously respect the taste of Mrs. Lt. Dan I must defend Phil.

My defense consists of 3 pieces of information:
1) Please see the picture to the right of Amy Mickelson or Mrs. Phil Mickelson. In case you have a hard time seeing, she is quite an attractive lady. Seems like Phil is doing just fine with ladies in spite of his man-boobs and fratty hair.

2) After the Masters, Phil is ranked 2nd the World and gaining ground on the greatest golfer ever. If I were Phil I think I would keep the long hair as it seems to be working.

3) On Forbes list of celebrities income, Phil was ranked in the top 50 in 2005 with $26.8 million. I don't know about you but I'd wear just about any hairdo for $25 million plus.

So, with all respect to Mrs. Lt. Dan and the Lt. himself, if I were Phil I think I would keep my long hair as life can't really get too much better for Phil right now.

Comment on the Masters

Since I am sure that he reads this blog, I want to personally congratulate Phil Mickelson for winning the Masters. He played a great last round and undoubtedly deserved to win. While I was cheering for Fred Couples, Phil was one of my other favorites.
I do have one suggestion for Phil, however. Now that he won hundreds of thousands of dollars, I hope that the first thing he does is GET A HAIRCUT. Hair hanging out the back of a baseball cap is fine on law students or high schoolers or just rednecks but not on a Master's champion. Mrs. Lt. Dan thinks that he was much hotter with short hair, and she has great taste in men considering she chose me.
In sum, congratulations Phil and, if you need a barber, I would be happy to recommend one.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Diversity or Lack Thereof

First, I must admit that this post might not be to the liking of all but that shall not stop me. Today, I attended the University of Alabama Awards Ceremony. As a law student, I had no idea that this week was awards week but a friend of mine's little brother was receiving multiple awards so I was asked to attend. The beginning of the ceremony announced that this banquet was the biggest event of awards week and that the 4 big senior honor societies would be tapping new members. It didn't take me long to notice something quite odd about the inductees, which numbered between 25-50 per honor society (there were repeats). What I found odd was that I only noticed 1 African-American being inducted into any of the 4 societies. Though I did not count the entire time, if there was more than one African-American there was definitely less than 5. As I left what was quite a nice ceremony, I just thought about how far we still have to go with regards to race. I must admit that I am far from a liberal or a fan of affirmative action but I can't imagine that the so-called "4 biggest honor societies" on campus shouldn't have more than 1 or 2 African-Americans. By the way, these honor societies were not based on grades but rather on leadership and contributions to the University, which makes the absence of African-Americans even more staggering. Perhaps there is a minority honors event as well, but it still seems that in the 21st century we should be able to honor worthy individuals from all races at the same ceremony.

Name Changes

Apparently, Bubba isn't the brightest light on the block and thus requested that I change my name from Shrimp Gumbo. He couldn't quite handle multiple Shrimp names. That said, I apologize to all our readers who have missed out on my blogging skills the last week. I know all 3 of you have been awaiting my next post and you will soon get one.

Best regards to tall,
The Paddle (formerly Shrimp Gumbo)

Thursday, April 06, 2006

When Worlds Collide

The latest inductees to "Bench & Bar" (one of the more prestigious "honor societies" here at the law school) were announced yesterday. While I don't personally fool around with such things, I couldn't help but notice that a number of my fellow Law Review monkeys were counted among the new membership. No surprise there, but the really interesting thing was that many of the fellow inductees were about as far removed from the LR set as you can possibly be w/o failing out of school.

Now, I know that LR is not necessarily the measure of how good/smart/successful a person is as a law student-but we all have to admit that the majority of the really successful law students are on LR (or some other journal). These are the same students that usually get selected for the honor societies. Hence my curiosity when I noticed the atypically diverse membership of Bench & Bar.

As it turns out, B&B admission is based on an elaborate point system designed to quantify how "involved" an applicant is at the law school. Involvement can obviously come in many forms. For example, one would earn copious points for being elected EIC, landing a spot on the moot court board, and earning "best paper" in Biz Org (or any other class). In all likelihood, these points would be enough to get onto B&B. However, there are other ways to get points. For example, points are also given for holding office in the SBA (see "the hangover", in comments), participating on the homecoming committee, and playing in the semi-annual poker tournament held at a bar downtown. Thus, it is quite possible to earn sufficient B&B points w/o ever coming close to the LR crowd.

The result is a very bipolar demographic. It seems that the only people excluded from this group are the normal students that neither invest all their time in a geeky pursuit like LR or Moot Court nor waste all their time piddling around in the SBA or other similarly flacid student organizations. In fact, if you diagrammed the continuum of law student types, you would see that B&B accepts members from both polar extremes, and no one in between. That's right - on the far right you have the LR super-dorks that earned their B&B points by getting elected to the managing board, and on the far left, you have the SBA senators who earned their points by posting campaign posters sporting photos of themselves passed out drunk at a keg party (not that that never happens at a LR party - we just don't brag about it...).

I can only imagine that the induction ceremony will be sort of like a scene from Animal House, where Bluto has lunch with the Omega crowd and sprays them with mashed potatoes.

Legal Hecklers

I attended a baseball game earlier this week where, beyond watching a highly entertaining game, I had the additional treat of hearing a professional heckler. The guy had a response for everything that went on in the game: for strike outs he gave the usual "left, left, left, left, you suck" cheer; for pick offs that did not work he yelled "not even" and the other fans around him yelled "close;" and when the bases were loaded he loudly asked the pitcher if he felt surrounded.
This got me to thinking that court rooms really need professional hecklers. There should be at least 3: 1 supporting the Plaintiff, 1 supporting the Defendant, and 1 supporting the judge. Plaintiff's heckler could cheer for punitive damages; Defense's heckler would cheer for summary judgment; and the judge's heckler would cheer for a settlement. This is one way to get the public more involved and help them better understand the law. All of a sudden there would not be a boring witness. Each question would get some response from the hecklers.
Example: Plaintiff's attorney examining his own witness
Attorney: "Could you state your name for the record?"
P's Heckler: "I can see the money now. Can you say sympathetic witness?"
D's Heckler: "I wouldn't do that if I were you. By the time our lawyer gets done with you, you won't know what your name is anymore."
Judge's Heckler: "You better speak up. Judge holds quiet witnesses in contempt."
As you can see, every question would have commentary and excitement. These hecklers could be brought to any legal event: a deposition, arguing a motion, even initial conferences. Scholars are always looking for ways to reform and make law more accessible; legal hecklers would achieve both of these objectives and make mundane legal practice much more fun. If hecklers were to catch on who knows what might follow: hotdog vendors, beer on tap, 5$ programs? The possibilities are endless.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Dear Readers,

Though I was initially hestitant to bring up the following topic, as it would surely cause a swarm of blog readers to overrun this site & potentially overload the server, Shrimp Boat felt that it was his duty to recognize & celebrate one of his favorite, yet universally underutilized punctuation marks, the Em-dash.

The Em-dash, or "that really long hyphen," is the swiss army knife of punctuation marks. As it can be used to set off words, phrases, clauses, or short sentences that clarify or elaborate the preceeding text, the Em-dash can be used to substitute for a colon, semicolon, or parenthese. But wait! That's not all! This little guy can even substitute for a comma and also the terms that is, namely, i.e., and e.g. Let the merrymaking commence!

Disclaimer: Management has instructed me worefrain from actually using an Em-dash in this post, as such excitement might be too much for our older viewers ( & I can't figure out how to do one). Cheers.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Worst Show on TV

Gilmore Girls is in a league of its own as far as bad TV. Some shows have good plots with bad actors; others have bad actors with good plots; this show has bad actors and a bad plot. The show revolves around the relationship between a mother and a daughter. The daughter goes to Yale (can you see how this is shaping up to be the typical American family already). The grandparents are old and very rich. They also don't like each other so they live in opposite wings of the house. Yes, I know what you are thinking: this sounds just like your grandparents.
While I am sure you are drawn in by the set up I have just described, what will really get you watching is the portrayal of emotion on the show. I have seen over 5 episodes (I would have preferred a root canal but dentists are closed when the show comes on; I am hoping that those 5 hours of my life will be credited against my time in purgatory).
In none of those episodes did I witness even a hint of real emotion. A typical exchange would go like this:
Daughter: Mom, I am thinking about dropping out of school.
Mom: Don't.
Grandfather: I also went to Yale and you should too.
Grandmother (dead pan with no facial expression or emotion): I hate you [grandfather's name].
Thrilling television. If you have done some egregious act, like committed a murder or voted for John Kerry or Al Gore, watch this show and I guarantee you will be granted at least partial absolution for your sins. Otherwise, I recommend the Home Shopping Network.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Free iPods for everyone...

I have heard about this Birmingham iPod bonanza as well, and I think Mr. Boat is right - this is going a little overboard. You all know how it is with these big firms - it is one big game of follow the leader. Next year they will all be giving out iPods; it will be a standard part of the package.

When the 1Ls go into their OCIs, they will ask "If I am hired by your firm, how many gigabytes can I expect?" Lord knows it is better than the second-rate box of Hershey's I got at Christmas time...

Some Actually Useful Laws

Here are some laws that come from the stack of e-mails I have from my dad. While most people will understand all of them, the only one that lawyers or future lawyers will understand is the "Law of Logical Argument" (4th from the bottom).

UNIVERSAL LAWS
Law of Mechanical Repair: After your hands become coated with grease your nose will begin to itch or you'll have to pee.
Law of the Workshop: Any tool, when dropped, will roll to the least accessible corner.
Law of probability: The probability of being watched is directly proportional to the stupidity of your act.
Law of the Telephone: When you dial a wrong number, you never get abusy signal.
Law of the Alibi: If you tell the boss you were late for work becauseyou had a flat tire, the very next morning you will have a flat tire.
Variation Law: If you change lines (or traffic lanes), the one you were in will start to move faster than the one you are in now. (works every time)
Bath Theorem: When the body is fully immersed in water, the telephone rings.
Law of Close Encounters: The probability of meeting someone you know increases when you are with someone you don't want to be seen with.
Law of the Result: When you try to prove to someone that a machine won't work, it will.
Law of Bio mechanics: The severity of the itch is inversely proportional to the reach.
Theatre Rule: At any event, the people whose seats are furthest from the aisle arrive last.
Law of Coffee: As soon as you sit down to a cup of hot coffee, your boss will ask you to do something which will last until the coffee is cold.
Murphy's Law of Lockers: If there are only two people in a locker room, they will have adjacent lockers.
Law of Dirty Rugs/Carpets: The chances of an open-faced jelly sandwich of landing face down on a floor covering are directly correlated to the newness and cost of the carpet/rug.
Law of Location: No matter where you go, there you are.
Law of Logical Argument: Anything is possible if you don't know whatyou are talking about.
Brown's Law: If the shoe fits, it's ugly.
Oliver's Law: A closed mouth gathers no feet.
Wilson's Law: As soon as you find a product that you really like, they will stop making it.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Race to the Bottom

In the never ending quest to convince lawstudents across the land that their firm is the best place to work, it has come to Shrimp Boat's attention that a certain Birmingham firm will be giving their summer associates IPODs. I don't know about the rest of you, but nothing says "Top Notch Law Firm" like free IPODs.

I'm not sure which is sadder, the attempt to get recruits by handing out portable music devices or the fact that I am pissed I'm not going to get one.

Why We Came to Law School

In Ethics the other day, our topic was a lawyer's duty to disclose information that is adverse to his client's interest. As an example, the professor brought in a pair of scissors covered in BBQ sauce to simulate a murder weapon with dried blood on it (I thought it looked like less like blood and more like something else that comes out of the body but that is irrelevant).
He took the scissors and placed them in front of a student and said, "I have just killed someone, here is the bloody murder weapon. The cops will be here in 20 minutes. You are my lawyer, what do you do?" The student responded jokingly that if he was not his lawyer he would tell the professor to wash the scissors off and get rid of them.
The professor then said, tongue-in-cheek, "So you are telling me that you came to law school to get dumber and lose your common sense?"

Saturday, April 01, 2006

More on your boy Bonds

Lt Dan's recent post on Barry Bonds got me thinking - and I wonder, does anybody actually think that Bonds doesn't use steroids? I remember when Bonds rookied. He and Bobby Bonilla were the east-coast counterpoint to west-coast bash brothers Conseco and McGuire. And I vividly remember that Bonds was the least exciting player in that group of four -in fact, the only reason he seemed to get any attention was because his daddy was a famous ballplayer.

Now, I sort of quit following ball while I was in college (too busy studying around the clock - yeah right) and picked it back up later. Imagine my surprise when I learned that BB was not only still playing, but that he was now a major star (I was also shocked that Boggs and Clemens both played for the Yanks late in life, that Paul Molitor was allowed to continue playing, and that Rickey Henderson was still alive - but that is beyond the scope of this post). I was also surprised to note that Bonds had nearly doubled in size. Observe below:

Barry Bonds - Early 1990's

Please remember that he was already a full grown man in both of these pictures - its not like these were taken in high school or anything... I know people can change over time, but let's be reasonable


Barry Bonds Today

I have used creatine, andro, and other legal substances, I have spent most of my life playing sports and training regularly, and I have had some good friends give in to the temptation of steroids - I can say from personal experience and observation that this kind of change just doesn't happen naturally - even if you work out like a champ.

I wholeheartedly agree w/ Lt. Dan, the investigation is long overdue... Unless, of course, you would prefer the approach of the bodybuilding world. We could have a "regular" baseball league, and an "all natural" league where the players are the size of real people. I guess the choice is really up to us - the fans.

An Honest Judge

For those of you interested in clerking after school, you should definitely consider Judge Arnold D. Spatt, Federal District Court judge in Central Islip, New York. While I have never met him nor been to Central Islip, I am pretty sure that he is honest, perhaps to a fault.
His listing on the Federal Law Clerk Information System under the "Additional Selection Criteria" category states "At least 1 year of post law school experience required. Hours are M-F 7am-7pm, Saturdays 9am-5pm."
That is 68 hours a week. Probably great preparation for a big firm job. In fact, a big firm job might be a relief after this clerkship.