Life As Is

...it being understood that Seller and Seller's agents make no representations or warranties
pertaining to the fixtures or state of repair of the World or any of its systems.

Sunday, October 31, 2004
  The Packers Do Their Part : It is big news here in Wisconsin (and elsewhere) that in every election year since 1936, the Washington Redskins have picked the winner of the election. If they win, the incumbet wins. If they lose, the race goes to the challenger. OK then, way to go Pack.

This was especially fun for me because it finally gave me that bond with my fellow Wisconsin citizens that I've been lacking since 1992, when I first moved here. Namely, giving a rip about how the Packers game comes out.

(On a related note, The Pack may have done its party to help Kerry, but he sure hurt himself recently by referring to Lambeau field as "Lambert" Field. Ouch. Yellow flag on the play. Ten Yards for that one, hot shot.)
Saturday, October 30, 2004
  "[O]ur confidence in him has been shattered." : The Economist magazine has rebuked George Bush, unfurling a lengthy and reasoned indictment of his presidency. Read it here. I should add--they also work in an endorsement of John Kerry (much like the NYT Kerry endorsement, it is more a "no" vote for Bush than a "yes" for Kerry).

This is THE ECONOMIST we're talking about. Pro-war, pro-business, pro-Bush (until now). Ha!!! Who will be next, the Wall St. Journal? The Weekly Standard?

UPDATE: The Economist endorsement made someone else's day, too. The link is to "Ocean," Nina Camic's blog. She is a prof blogger here at the law school. I've never taken a class from her, but I almost don't want to--I like knowing her this way. Kindred spirit.)

UPDATE2: Thomas Friedman, who usually drives me batty, has found a way around the rule preventing NYT columnists from backing individual candidates. Read his clever endorsement of Kerry here.)

UPDATE3: Mixtape Marathon has endorsed Kerry. I love Mixtape Marathon, by the way. (This is becoming my "shout out" post).

UPDATE LAST ONE, I PROMISE: Discussion in the comments about the strength of said endorsements because most are primarily a condemnation of Bush--it's not as persuasive an endorsement, etc. My response to that is that it's a fine reason. Noteworthy, but no less persuasive. As K said in the car yesterday morning, the prospect that we as a nation might endorse the recklessness of the past four years (by giving Bush a second term) is unpalatable. I'm voting for Kerry because I want a clean taste in my mouth.
Friday, October 29, 2004
  Order your post-election-depression CD early : Mutual Admiration Society. The most subdued CD ever recorded. And it's good. Glen Phillips together with Nickel Creek. The Nickel Creek kids are in full ballad mode, and Glen reaches all the way back to the "Pale" days of his tenure in Toad the Wet Sprocket.
Thursday, October 28, 2004
  Harsh : Law students all around me are frantically gathering their books and heading off to their 11 o'clock class. Some are attempting to scan the last few pages of the reading assignment, hoping that important words will jump out at them. Others have either finished or given up. Two or three of these people are about to be called on. If they're not prepared they'll be skewered.

I am reminded of my first year here. The weight of all the reading had a devastating effect on me. The only way I can describe it (and unfortunately it makes me sound like a big drama queen, which I guess I am) is that it was like getting beat up. A gang of thugs pummeling me, on a daily basis. And then they dragged my body through the streets.

I don't think about it too much anymore. There isn't too much to do except put it behind you, and hope that you haven't changed much.

And sometimes I slip into the mind set that everyone more or less adopts: I DID IT, YOU CAN TOO, GET TO CLASS. But when I remember what it was like, I don't feel that way. I know that some of the people I see here (and their families at home) are really struggling. And I hope they are ok.
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
  surprise stories : From NYT:
A few days earlier, some soldiers from the division thought they had discovered a cache of chemical weapons that turned out to be pesticides. Several of them came down with rashes, and they had to go through a decontamination procedure. Colonel Anderson said he wanted to avoid a repeat of those problems, and because he had already seen stockpiles of weapons in two dozen places, did not care to poke through the stores at Al Qaqaa.

"I had given instructions, 'Don't mess around with those. It looks like they are bunkers; we're not messing around with those things. That's not what we're here for,'" he said.
Today's installment in the late-October serial blockbuster: Enchanted Bunker of Al Qaqaa, in which no one can tell whether the 380 tons of explosives were still in their bunker on April 9, 2003, because no one looked!

I'm not sure if the lost explosives story adequately qualifies as an October surprise, because I doubt that it is has penetrated through all the ad saturation, fear tactics, voter disgust, and apathy. However, I live for election fodder. And I love how what normally be a little blip on the radar screen suddenly becomes a blockbuster story just because it might turn the election.

That goes for the flu shots stuff, too. I like to read about that one on the BBC, because the Brits call them "flu jabs," which I think is funny.
  New Sosysteps Post : Here. I tried to put together a list of Sawyer's all time favorite words.

Family front update: Still no name for Paco. I decided last night that I like Jacques, but it has the same problem that Paco does of not passing the ethnic-plausibility test. Maybe that would be properly called the ethnically-plausible test, I'm not sure. Anyway, Jacques doesn't pass. And in any case I can't say for sure whether I would go with that name if I could. It is only after a name passes all the other tests that it can be honestly subjected to the ultimate test: the do-I-really-want-to-name-my-kid-this test.

We've made arrangements to watch the election results at Valarie and Michael's place, which means we won't have to steal anyone's TV that night. We won't be able to go over there until about 9pm because K and I are taking a "home purchasing for dummies" class from the Dane County Housing Authority. Well, OK, I'm not a dummy. This semester I'm taking Real Estate Transactions, and I'd like to think I'm learning something useful in there. But the class kind of shoots too far, if you know what I mean. How to make an offer-to-purchase conditioned on a dual-use easement running through the NW 1/4 of the SW 1/4 of the blah-blah, etc., etc. That's probably not going to come up. Let's hope it doesn't. I need something much more practical: "How to get a kick-ass mortgage," for instance.
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
  Morning so far... : Grr! Second day in a row up before the paper arrives.

Grumble... Think I left my slippers in the bedroom.

Mmmmmmmmm! Leftover Wah Kee for breakfast.
Monday, October 25, 2004
  Quiet Day : Spent much of today holed up in the library,

reading books that look like this.

I'm not complaining. There are far worse ways to spend your time. It was one of the last nice fall days, however, so I made myself get out and walk around some. I tried to capture the feeling of fall so that it will be there when I need it in January.

Before I go--hopefully many have already seen this, but if not here you go: The NYT released a very important two-part series yesterday and today. The series is entitled, TOUGH JUSTICE, and the author is Tim Golden. Here are the two articles:
"New Code, New Power: After Terror, a Secret Rewriting of Military Law," NY Times, Oct. 24, 2004.

"A Policy Unravels: Administration Officials Split Over Stalled Military Tribunals," NY Times, Oct. 25, 2004.
I've made the titles clickable so that they will lead to the articles on NYT.com... BUT those links only stay good for two weeks, so follow them now and print them out even if no time to read them now.

That series provides what I think is the first comprehensive account of the changes made to the military justice system in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Historically, the federal courts have tended not to interfere with "wartime measures." In perhaps the most famous example, Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S. 214 (1944), the Supreme Court declined intervene when the government interned over 100,000 Japanese-Americans solely because of their race.

But surely the judiciary will monitor the executive more closely in the present day and age. This war on terrorism is wholly different from its predecessors in many respects--not least because it is projected to last for so long. There must be a legitimate way for the civilian courts to assert themselves on this issue!!!

There is no easy answer.
Sunday, October 24, 2004
  Still undecided? :
Saturday, October 23, 2004
  trip to the dentist : If you are in Madison, Wisconsin, now or at any point in the (foreseeable) future, you can get your daily dose of 70's rock by tuning your radio to 92.1 FM--"The Lake"--our local classic rock station. (You can. I'm not saying you should.)

This is not normally a piece of information that I have at my fingertips. But yesterday I had a dentist appointment and instead of the easy listening station that is usually piped throughout the office, they were playing The Lake. It is, I learned, my dentist office's unique version of "casual Fridays." At my dentist, rather than "dressing down" one-day-a-week, they change the radio station to 70's rock. During my visit I heard "Yesterday" by the Beatles, and "Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown" by Jim Croce. But the best song of all came on while I was having my teeth cleaned... you guessed it, "Freebird."
Thursday, October 21, 2004
  The Red Sox are in the Series. And see here--look!!!! Russ is up by 23. :
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
  In the non-election-related realm : As is evident from my previous post, my earlier prediction that I would stop paying attention to the election after the last debate has not panned out.

I have been doing other things though. There's always lots of stuff happening on the home front for one thing. And--always the life of the party--I've actually begun to carry around Chirelstein's tax treatise with me literally everywhere I go. Needless to say, I'm waaaaaaaay into my tax course. It would not be out of the ordinary for me to try and rehash Chirelstein's views--say, on the significance of Section 1031--as if that were normal dinner-table conversation. K has been very patient with me.

And--today I had a meeting with an old professor of mine from my undergrad days who is advising me on how to approach the "re-imagining the curriculum" project. I'm getting ready to pitch my idea for how the law school curriculum should be changed around. Your comments are welcome, by the way. (But if you dis tax I'll not listen).

Blog admin note: I just realized that my "comments" feature was set to only allow comments from registered users (people with a Blogger account). I changed it so all you people with scathing words or undeserved praise can add your comments under the name "Anonymous."
  new numbers : The results are in... Wisconsin is STILL tied, so it looks like we will continue to be showered with inordinate attention for the next two weeks. Here are the results of today's poll, which appeared on the front page of the Wisconsin State Journal, successfully scanned, and somewhat-less-successfully photoshopped, by yours truly. The numbers look better for kerry than they do for Bush, but take note of the margin of error!!!. I am not used to seeing a margin of error that big--5 points--so I can't tell you whether that's because this local poll was done on the cheap, compared to the national polls, or whether the pollsters here in 'Sconny are just more honest. :-)

So... it pretty much just comes down to how those 5% of "not sure" and 1% of "refuse to answer" voters break on election day. Maybe they'll wake up with a cough that morning and the fad-non-issue of the week, flu shots, really will determine the outcome of this election.

NOTE ALSO THE NADER FACTOR: He's polling at 2% here, which is the same number of people who support an "other" third-party candidate. Those "others" are usually conservative, so even if we had instant run-off voting, the reapportionment of third-party votes would probably be a wash. That is, it looks like Nader is NOT spoiling the race for Kerry.

A huge caveat to the last bit is that, if you believe the margin of error, nader could actually be polling at negative 2%. The negative number represents people who voted for Nader in 2000 but had their fingers crossed--I'm not exactly sure how that works but, hey, politics is complicated.

(MAJOR UPDATE!!!!! The numbers don't add up to one-hundred. Look again. I'm sure there's some kindof statistical explanation involving the Hypergeometric Distribution of percentiles. Somebody friggin get me Geoffry Wallace and a TI-86, pronto.)
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
  The left end of the dial : I listened to Air America radio (commercial left-wing talk radio) last night--what in the hell is going on with that?!? The level of discourse was soooooo base. Demeaning and insulting, Ranting and raving, inciting hate.

My sensitive ears could not bear it! After about a half-hour I had to turn the guy off (his name was mike malloy). Now, I've never really heard right-wing commercial talk radio either, but I'm sure it's just as bad if not worse. I never listen to any commercial radio, actually. And I don't have a TV, either. I've been living in a protected bubble I know, I know. Boy in the bubble, that's me. But even if you're not me, and you're a lefty and you're proud, do NOT listen to air America on the radio--it sucks.

I do read blogs, though. Even some wacko conservative ones.

Here's a new one. Jason Enlge, a La Follette (School of Public Affairs) classmate, has started keeping a blog: What's up on Winnebago. I'm psyched about it. Whenever I've been around him, he's had something cool to say. Plus, his mere presence on my blog roll (under "Bob Types" for Bob La Follette) adds some much-needed balance. I think I understand why there are so many bloggers at the law school and only a few (that I know of) in my masters program. One group likes to, -ehm, talk, the other likes to listen. But I know how much good stuff public affairs types have to say, so I'll be seeing What's up on Winnebago from now on. (Today's post: why he's ambivalent about the Nader factor.) (Also on that topic, see this from Letters of Marque.)
Monday, October 18, 2004
  damn ip rules : Here's proof that i'm NOT still sitting around thinking about the NYT editorial and that i'm NOT going to mope around worried about the election for the next two weeks, hopefully.

A human interest story--for lawyers (and other people):

Retropod is--well, ok, was--a website that sold homemade ipod cases made out of "retro" sony walkmans. Then came the letter from Sony's attys: "Sony recently learned that you are selling a case for carrying an iPod personal stereo that is made from a WALKMAN tape player. The product is being offered at your website at www.retropod.com.
Your use of casings for such a purpose is a clear infringement of the SONY and WALKMAN marks because it is deceptive. Consumers likely will be misled and deceived into believing that Sony is somehow connected with the iPod personal stereo when in fact it is not. Moreover, they will be misled into thinking that Sony is backward in its design of products and is going away from miniaturization, as the size of the tape player housing is quite large by today's standards."

...Ahhhh, the old miniaturization-confusion argument. Sony's right, it would be mass chaos. We have to put a stop to this. So did this letter--known in the trade as a "cease and desist"--do the trick? The guy who runs the site reports that he thought about it "for about 10 seconds" before issuing refunds and closing the shop down.

(via Boing Boing.)
Sunday, October 17, 2004
  Sunday Times Endorsement : The NYT editorial page on the S.Ct.:

We have specific fears about what would happen in a second Bush term, particularly regarding the Supreme Court. The record so far gives us plenty of cause for worry. Thanks to Mr. Bush, Jay Bybee, the author of an infamous Justice Department memo justifying the use of torture as an interrogation technique, is now a federal appeals court judge. Another Bush selection, J. Leon Holmes, a federal judge in Arkansas, has written that wives must be subordinate to their husbands and compared abortion rights activists to Nazis.

Not at all unexpected that the NYT should endorse Kerry, but I was certainly surprised by the eloquence of writing. The majority of the paragraphs are devoted not to the candidate himself, John Kerry, but to raising concerns such as the above and to retracing the arc of George Bush's disastrous presidency:
We look back on the past four years with hearts nearly breaking, both for the lives unnecessarily lost and for the opportunities so casually wasted.
If I were to dwell too heavily on these words I could easily lose the next two weeks of my life.
Saturday, October 16, 2004
  A-HA! : Yes, you're still at the right place. And no, SosySteps didn't go anywhere (link was down awhile but it's back, on the top left side). I messed around with the templete settings a little bit. I like the old-fashioned paper look. But the rest of the template is just "temprary," as they say. The bricks are there becasue I was learning how to tile images. If you excuse the proportiones, it almost looks like a scroll pasted onto the side of a building.

OK, now, on a much more important subject, everybody together, let us shed a tear for Tim Michels!

I don't mean to laugh, but ha-ha-ha ha-ha-ha, ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-huh! You're going to lose!
Thursday, October 14, 2004
  morning : I walked in to school today from Eagle Heights, now that the Lakeshore path is finished. At a brisk pace I got to the law building in just under an hour. And I was pleasantly surprised to see that the new boat house down by the lakeshore dorms that is being built for the UW crew team is NOT a monstrosity. It's actually going to be a classy building.

Well, I am all about the debates, and now they're over, so expect my interest in the election to wane until November 2nd, when we finally get to vote. I mananged to see all four of the debates, despite not owning a television. K and I did what we do each year for the Oscars--concocted some kind of scheme that allows us to "borrow" the TV of a certain generous parent who shall remain nameless. With the four debates so close together, I felt like the guy from Requiem For A Dream who keeps stealing his mom's TV to pay for his drug habit.

And speaking of TV, I finally saw some of the slimy campaign commercials that people are complaining about. I did like the Feingold ad I saw, but that's just me.

Yesterday the University of Wisconsin Advertising Project released a study showing that the election battleground has narrowed to Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, as evidenced by the concentration of TV advertising in those 10 states. Florida and Ohio are the two most important. Missouri (now part of Bush Country), is surprising absent. Colorado (no longer in Bush Country), is a surprising addition.

"The next thing to pay attention to is the advertising buys after the last debate. This is the time when campaigns will make their final decisions on the nature of the race and make the calculations about which states are truly still in play. More than snap polls and punditry, those decisions will tell us who won the debates and what effect they had on each candidate’s chances of victory."

That's Ken Goldstein, director of the project, a.k.a. the guy-from-Wisconsin-who-always-gets-a-lot-of-press-every-four-years-because-he-studies-campaign-commercials guy.
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
  Kerry's best attack(s) : Jobs. The economy. Education. The environment. Health care.
  Bush's best attack : Liberal.
  Kerry's best chance : Look presidential. Sound presidential. Don't say anything new.
  Bush's best chance : With misty eyes, look directly into the camera and admit that the 2001 stem-cell research decision was a mistake. use the phrases "prayer" and "compassionate conservatism."
Tuesday, October 12, 2004
  study rooms : The law library has a number of study rooms available for students to squirrel up in. They are tucked behind the stacks, separated from the main studying area on the 5th floor. You have to weave your way down two flights of stairs and past the rows of books to get to them. The rooms are small and sparse. Inside you will find only a table, white walls, and the odd pipe snaking up onto the ceiling.

You might guess... I love these study rooms. They remind me of the closet-sized practice rooms that must be tucked all over the place at music schools, or the empty rehearsal spaces that actors use to run lines and work out blocking. A place to get lost in. And after you spend a long time inside, working something out, there is a great feeling you of opening up the door and stepping out. A feeling of emerging.
  "re-imagining" the curriculum : I've been invited to share my thoughts about the law school curriculum with some faculty members. This year a committee of faculty members was established to critique (they say "re-imagine") the curriculum; I wrote to the chair of the committee and he responded. Cool. Not much may come from it, but something might. I'll let you know.
Saturday, October 09, 2004
  Pres debate no. 2 : This I've culled from the post-debate coverage: Bush played to his base last night whereas Kerry continued to focus on the undecideds. I don't know what that means. Presumably, somebody who understands these things will appear, make themselves known, and clue me in. (caveat: if it's bad news, don't tell me.)
  There are too many books in my life already, David Crystal, but I guess there's always room for one more : Big news (to me, anyway). Finally saw evidence in print of English's most ellusive contraction, "there're." I'm going to keep reading this David Crystal guy, he's got my attention now.

Another thing that I like about Crystal's book, (formerly known as "The English Language, 2nd Ed.," now known as "The Book Which Has Finally Ended Brian's Four-Year Quest To Prove The Existence Of The English Language's Most Ellusive Contraction, There're"), is his genuinely descriptive approach. Much has made of the contrast between the prescriptive and descriptive approaches to the study of language. Essentially, it boils down to this: a prescriptive writer on the English language would tell me that I should have used "that" rather than "which" in my new title for Crystal's book (b/c I'm using the info afterwards to help define which book I mean). A descriptive writer would tell me that 99% of English speakers make no distinction btwn which and that, other than the fact that some people think of which as a more formal word.

Maybe I'm just reading the wrong books, but in my experience, 95% of the ones out there follow the (more annoying) prescriptive approach. TIt's so common that it starts to rub off on you after a while even if you don't start off that way. So, for that reason I've found it great to have Crystal's (descriptive) book to dip into every now and then. Plus, during idle moments I like to turn to page 25, the "there're" page, and just look at it.

(UPDATE: there's more to say about the prescriptive/descriptive divide, I've decided upon re-reading this post, but let me think first.)
Friday, October 08, 2004
  Naming Paco (update) : From the NYT:
In Denmark, a country that embraces rules with the same gusto that Italy defies them, choosing a first and last name for a child is a serious, multitiered affair, governed by law and subject to the approval of the Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs and the Ministry of Family and Consumer Affairs.

At its heart, the Law on Personal Names is designed to protect Denmark's innocents - the children who are undeservedly, some would say cruelly, burdened by preposterous or silly names. It is the state's view that children should not suffer ridicule and abuse because of their parents' lapses in judgment or their misguided attempts to be hip.
We're still in the process of naming Paco--scheduled for arrival in Feb. 2005--so it was with special interest that I read the above-quoted article, on Denmark's naming regulations. I understand what the people of Denmark are going for here. I do.

By the way, names recently approved by the Denmark government: Leica, Benji, Jiminico and Fee. Recent rejections: Jakobp, Bebop, and Ashleiy (on spelling grounds); Monkey, Pluto, and Anus (on grounds that are, hopefully, obvious).
Thursday, October 07, 2004
  weapons, politics : FindLaw has the full text of the "Comprehensive Report of the Special Advisor to the DCI on Iraq’s WMD" here. Check out the "key findings" link. If my previous post on the Crane/Tufts tax loophole was cause for cynicism, this report is proof that often our government gets it right. It is a very cool thing that the administration was unable to suppress it.

On the subject of politics, I like Elizabeth Edwards. She'll make a good first lady beginning in 2012 (just threw that in there to screw with you, Hatch). I read an NYT article discussing, in part, the Dem response to Cheney's first-time-I-met-you-was-tonight comment during the Veep Debate. (The two had actually met previosuly, in 2001, at a prayer bkfst.) Totally minor issue, but I think Elizabeth is cool, so here's the part about her:
Mr. Edwards's wife, Elizabeth, got into the act as well....After the debate, Mrs. Edwards said in a telephone interview on Wednesday, she went on stage to greet her husband and found herself next to Mr. Cheney. She recounted the scene:

"I didn't go up with a plan to confront him," she said. "But I turned and he was there and in a good-natured way I said, 'Hello, Mr. Vice President. By the way, y'all sat next to each other at the prayer breakfast.' And he said, 'Oh, yeah.'''

Incidentally, my use of the phrase "an NYT article" above betrays both my opinion that an should be used according to how it sounds, and my preference for pronouncing initials as initials, rather than as the words they stand for (in this case, NYT is N-Y-T, not New York Times) if that makes sense.

Finally, I don't know how I missed this until now, but apparently Cheney's plug during the debate for www.factcheck.com was a blunder--he meant to send people to the ".org" site. The ".com" site was overwhelmed and began routing eager fact-checkers to GeorgeSoros.com. Good show! If I had been running the ".com" site I might have taken a more subtle approach, though, by sending people here instead.
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
  Crane v. Commissioner : In every tax course I suspect that there is a lecture about five weeks into the semester exactly like the one I attended this a.m., during which the professor lays bare the secrets of Crane, 331 U.S. 1 (1947) and Tufts, 461 U.S. 300 (1983). And my prof--none other than the man himself, unveiled the meaning of these cases with characteristic flair.

(-- WARNING: Enthusiatic description of a 1947 tax case to follow. Big-time yawn for all non-green-eye-shade types --)

The Crane/Tufts rule on it's face is rather simple. The Court required a taxpayer, in calculating her taxable gain on the sale of some property, to acknowledge the benefit derived from being relieved of her mortgage indebtedness following the sale. It is both a simple and a necessary rule. (Consider the effect on taxes, otherwise, whenever people sold property that hadn't been fully paid off yet.)

And, becasue the rule forces taxpayers to acknowledge the full benefit of a sale, it tracks with the principle that you should reimburse the tax commissioner for any deductions you take for depreciation in property value--if and when it turns out that the sale price of such property exceeds the depreciation estimates. That is, if you've persuaded someone to reimburse you for everything you put into the property, plus the remainder of the mortgage, then your depreciation deductions should be recaptured by the commissioner.

But here we stumble through the rabbit hole.

Say I borrow 100,000 to buy an apartment building. I take periodic depreciation deductions. In ten years' time I "sell" the building to someone. The price? Take over my mortgage and you can have the damn thing. I have paid only interest on the mortgage, so the principal is still at 100,000. Taxable gain on the sale? Recaptured depreciation deductions--nothing more.

Yep. That is what we call a tax shelter. All the interest payments on the mortgage are deductable. And although in the end I paid tax on the amount I took each year as a depreciation deduction (say $2500/yr), I've deferred the tax for ten years--using that money, of course, to buy valuable stock in the Green Bay Packers. And I can even get a better tax rate if I manage to work it out so that the deductions are taken against ordinary income, but the tax is paid on a capital gain. Is your mouth watering yet?

Imagine a lecture-hall filled with law students learning about this stuff. After class was over we all stood around, buzzed, chattering about the case and its ramifications, like we'd all been injected with caffine.

Actually I don;t know whether to get mad about the Crane/Tufts rule or just laugh about it. As a citizen I have a stake in tax equity for all. But short of doing away with taxation altogether, there is not much that can be done about the loophole. If Congress or the Court were to reverse the Crane/Tufts rule, closing the loophole, they would arguably create an even bigger problem going the other way.

So in the meantime... America--land of opportunity, land of drooling law students.
Monday, October 04, 2004
  Studying at home : "Wow, now he's being rescued by a sexy blonde stewardess with a silencer pistol, and he can't figure out why she's helping him!"

Trying to study at home tonight but there are distractions at every turn. K is helping out by hanging with me, reading her book while I read mine, keeping my company like old Salty used to do. She's engrossed in a Robert Ludlam spy-romance number. Every once in a while she'll call out from behind her page with an update on the lateset plot twist.

  SosySteps Update : I figured out how to set up the SosySteps site so that K can add posts, too. It's now officially a tag-team affair. Her first post is up. Interestingly, she referred to the Sose-man by his proper name, Sawyer, perhaps just so readers can know what it is. I had yet to use it because I almost always call the little guy by his nickname (pronounced "So-See").
  Whose advocate? : I have previously posted on the fact that law school has warped my thinking. Today in class I was reminded of this yet again. It was a La Follette (Public Affairs) class, "State and Local Finance," in which we were discussing the merits and the minuses of contracting government services out to the private sector.

One of my classmates said somethgin that I've heard many times, but on this occasion it struck me as very genuine and made me think. She began one of her statements with: "Just to play the devil's advocate..."

Interesting. You don't hear people say that at law school.

Should I have been prefacing myself that way every time I played the devil's advocate? With concern I raced back in my mind and thought over the things I'd said during the course of our discussion in this non-law school class that I found myself in. Sure enough, I had played the devil's advocate a few times just to draw out a point, as any good law student would. We law students are used to finding every argument we can, regardless of which directions it cuts in.

I leaned back and listened awhile (--interjection, because I'm in a confessional mood: something I should do more often). Almost all my classmates were articulating points with a level of sincerity that I hadn't picked up on before that moment. Rather than trying to find every argument they could, most of them were engaged in the exercise of trying to figure out how they felt about the issue and articulate their view. People had a sense of ownership about their ideas. I deeply admired it.

But I also began to wonder if it wasn't stifling at the same time. Why take that on while still in the process of learning about something? Plenty of time later on to stake our claims on these ideas as "our own" later.

Stifling? Admirable? Tomato? Tomaato?
Sunday, October 03, 2004
  Best Names Ever : Alright everybody, yesterday I purchased "The Very Best Baby-Naming Book Ever" ($8.95 at Borders). It organizes names into lists. There are 75 of them, but I'll start with these three. Your feedback is welcome.(*)

Boy Names
  Future Artists
  Future Lawyers

* K and I reserve the right to be intrigued by a name and then realize later that we can't stand it.
Friday, October 01, 2004
  OK then : Who are these undecided voters? I don't believe they exist. I can see watching last night's debate and going one way or (I guess) the other. But everyone has to know by this point who they're voting for, right? It's a done deal, let's vote tomorrow and get this thing in the can.


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