Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Off The Backboard, Nothing But Net

I went to a talk this afternoon given by Richard Epstein, one of the most prolific writers on legal matters over the last twenty years. He's a typical libertarian - loves small government and thinks the market should be left well enough alone. Though, for all his genius, even he couldn't find a reliable leg for the Bush administration to stand on in the controversial domestic wiretapping programming.

Sitting in the audience was Professor Con Law, Larry Lessig. Lessig, on the issues, is generally liberal. He's an authority on intellectual property and has several times argued before the Supreme Court in favor of narrowly interpreting copyrights. He's a 1st Amendment lover and thinks that books in the public domain should be reproduced verbatim on the internet.

It was inevitable that the two minds would clash. Even if they both agreed the President likely overstepped.

Two seconds after Epstein opened up for questions, we were off to the races. It was like watching Magic and Bird go 1-on-1. Prison rules. No fouls. You make it, you take it.

Richard: On the matter of power, I think the stronger arguments weigh against the President.

Larry: Perhaps you haven't gone far enough if you consider one of your less than favorite clauses.

Richard: The commerce clause?

Larry: It's such an unfavored clause your writings ignore it and you're doing it now. It seems that the 'necessary and proper' clause might also constrain Presidential authority here.

Richard: Marshall's interpretation of the 'necessary and proper' clause in McCulloch is scandalous (Note 1: Most of Lessig's two last lectures were spent interpreting the "brilliance" of the legal reasoning found therein).

Richard: Also, I also think we ought to have a new standard for blogging. One which seeks to have writing meet the standard of academic publication. (Note 2: Lessig is author to one of the most widely read legal weblogs on the internet).

Those were some rather friendly swipes, but Lessig maintained his ground. Though, it does raise the question whether I'm learning Constitutional Law this term or one (brilliant) man's take on it.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Clear Skies

I made it up to San Francisco twice last semester.

I made it up to San Francisco twice this weekend.

If the past week is any indication of the semester to come, I'm all in. The difference that one fewer class makes is really incredible. It's safe to come up for air now. I feel like I can breathe again. In fact, for no apparent reason on Friday afternoon, I purchased a facebook announcement in a spare moment having no idea what to do with myself.

*** Dear Undergrads, I miss the night club atmosphere that your attire and boots brought to the law library during finals. Love, Your Neighborhood 1L***

Yes, it cost fifteen bucks. But, the responses it spurred made it all the more worthwhile. Plus, Van Wilder told me not to take life that seriously. So, I really wouldn't be surprised if it happened again.

I also found myself at the Rugby field for hours on end over the last two days. Stanford played host to an eight team tournament in which my friend, a scrum half for UC-Santa Barbara, took part. Do I know what scrum half does? No. But, I do know that there is no way that I would step on to the pitch and play that game with any of those women.

Those girls are nasty. Elbows to the face. Cleats to the groin. Fists to the teeth. Women may cry in baseball, but they don't cry in rugby. They get right back up after a broken nose and dole out some pain of their own. The girl in the foreground is like a middle linebacker out there. She represents you on our National Team. The girl directly behind her is the one I came out to see - and she didn't disappoint either. She earned a tryout for Team USA, herself.

Yeah Shelby!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Goliath Resurrected

File this under "r" for ridiculous.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Heavyweight Champion of the World, Nikolay Valuev. I'm not really a fan of boxing. Even a little bit. But, I find this guy fascinating. Standing at 7'0 and weighing in at 323 pounds, he is tallest and heaviest champion there has ever been. I don't care if he does read Tolstoy or write poetry, as the above article suggests. This man's sole purpose on the planet is to be a freakish Goliath that will bring fame and fortune to the first David to stain his perfect 43-0 record.

In a brilliant stroke of poetic wit, the Russians have donned him "Russian Giant."

Annoying (and lingering vestige of the 1990s) promoter Don King wants to label him "King Kong" when he defends his WBA title in the States next month - which, by my account, will be the first time in my life I make it a point to watch a title bout. Probably the only time, too.

Though, come on, who could possibly send a freakishly huge Russian down for the count?

Pretty far-fetched, I know. You'd need somebody with a heart on fire guided by the eye of tiger.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Long Semester, Part II

This post has been depublished by Big Brother.
On a side note, I no longer wallow in as deep an abyss of legal ignorance.

Professor Property: You can think of this interest in the same way some use "possession is nine-tenths of the law." That is, the object is presumptively yours.

That's all? Thank you, Prof. Property. Can I have my J.D. now?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Back Back to Cali Cali

I could never live out here. New York has been in my blood for way too long.

But, it is so nice. I admit it. I can easily see how reasonable minded people find it hard to leave once they've spent some time in the Bay Area. Though this confession goes beyond weather, today was just one of those days that could never happen along the Northeast Corridor in January.

It made the reality of the oncoming semester all the more easy to swallow. Although, I don't think I would be complaining if the weather didn't cooperate. Professor Crim Pro, one and the same as Prof. Crim, launched right into the legality of the warrantless searches authorized by Bush. A more pretentious scholar might have pieced together a long winded and inconclusive answer to the question. Instead, Prof. Crim Pro boldly took the position that he "hasn't the foggiest whether it's legal." That might be frustrating for some of my highstrung colleagues, but I think it refreshing.

Prof. Con Law's course is going to be fairly intense. He had names and faces memorized before we even rolled in to the room. The first cold calling victim was found less than 90 seconds into the semester. I escaped, though. For about ten minutes.

I thought it was kind of funny as he, first, spelled my last name aloud in order to learn the pronunciation. I know I got that one right. The rest is hazy. But, he looks to be a master of Socratic dialogue. It was an entertaining lecture on whether the Constitution is constitutional.


Here's to semester of days like today.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Please Hold

Wait. I can visit at a law school for a year.

It's worth a thought.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Summer Reunion

Before I head back to California tomorrow, there's the remaining matter of celebrating today. I'm heading into Roslyn shortly. For those of you not intimately aware of your suburban hell geography, it's forty minutes east of the city. There's a reunion of crew from this past summer that is getting together. While you were off making bank in some New York office or rubbing elbows with political types, I was working on my sunburn each day in the far reaches of New Hampshire.

Taking the advice of many, I erred on the side of r & r heading into law school. I worked as a group leader for the 11's at America's oldest sleep away camp. The vision of camping that you might be harboring is probably a bit too rustic. This is a "camp" designed for the spoiled children of highstrung power couples.

But, it was a great experience. I met a lot of amazing people from all over the world (though mainly from the Gold Coast of Long Island and the suburbs of London, strangely). It was where I met the girl in my life. For whom, now, the countdown starts again until the day I see her next.

27 days.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Dear Stanford,

I arrived home last week, still glowing from an exciting semester, only to confront an unfortunate reality. Upon my return, I was informed that my Mom is now a cancer patient in her final stages.

Ever a teacher (she had retired in 2004), she didn't want to burden me with this knowledge during final exams. As much as I love Stanford, it became clear to me that I could not be so far away in her time of need.

Yet, she deflected my suggestion that I take immediate leave to spend additional time with her. She would absolutely love to be able to see me graduate from law school. But, when she didn't as adamantly brush aside my offer to finish my degree at a program closer to home, I knew that was exactly what I had to do.

After discussing the options Student Affairs Lady presented me with friends and family, I have decided that a transfer fits best. It allows me to obtain a law degree on schedule and see her much, much more than I was able to this past term. Writing this from our home on Eastern Long Island, I am a one hour drive from NYU and Columbia and a two hour drive from Yale.

Several times this semester, I have mentioned to classmates and relatives that I couldn't imagine having a better law school experience than one at Stanford. But, I don't want to be a person that doesn't put family first.

Thank you for a great semester and for being a part of a place that will be very hard to leave.



Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Survey Says...

Come to think of it, this really isn't a hard decision at all. Over ninety percent of those surveyed agree.

Others polled rightly questioned the use of one for such a personal matter.

Honestly, I guess it's just me seeking some validation for something that I've been feeling all along.

Maintaining the status quo really does nobody any good.

I need to be around her as much as possible now. Thanks to all who took the time to drop me a note and help me feel alright about that.

I'm not entirely sure what that actually means. After speaking with her, it sure as hell sounds like I'll be visiting or transferring somewhere. Ever the teacher, Mom doesn't want me to take any time off. She would love to be able to make it to graduation day.

At the rate things are going, I don't really think she truly sees things playing out that far. Putting this tactfully, chemo hasn't been going well. I don't really feel like detailing it any further. It's just upsetting. I wish I could take her pain away.

But, I can't. I can be there for her though.

Even despite the "more than mild poker problem" that 45% of you believe I have.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Like Sand In The Hourglass

Ever since I got home yesterday morning, it's become supremely clear that Mom has attached a new price to time. Everything seems to have become more urgent without her long run. This cancer has become almost energizing. I pray chemo doesn't disarm this passion.

There's not a moment that passes between us without her dropping some maternal wisdom, friendly nagging, or heartfelt question. She'll smile and apologize that she "has to get it in."

The two of us had lunch today following a session of retail therapy at JCrew. It was then that she spoke of this new awakening in her own words. In a display of mindboggling optimism, she actually called this a blessing. "How many people," she said, "get the opportunity to share love, friendship, and goodbyes before they pass?"


It was at that moment that the thought of taking time off from Stanford or finishing law school back East first streamed in. If things progress as her doctors suggest they will, I already know that I would feel guilty and regret not being closer by during this highly poetic, emotional, and ultimate stage in Mom's life.

I love Stanford. I love the people that I have met there even more. I've thought to myself dozens of times over the last semester that I can't imagine having a better law school experience. But, family is family. I would give that up in a heartbeat to make my Mom's remaining time more special. After being home for two days, this already seems rational.

When she didn't immediately crush that suggestion - which I mentioned to her in the very abstract - I realized that this was something that she would warmly welcome. But, I'm so confused. What do you think?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Home Stretch

(7:26 a.m.) At 12:30 p.m., I sever all ties with first semester. Thanks so much, Stanford, for prolonging this rewarding and challenging experience.

(5:34 p.m.) Wow. I have twelve days to be ridiculous. See you at McSorley's tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Grand Gossip

Overheard at today's Alito nomination hearings in hallowed Senate halls...

SPECTER: Do you agree that Casey is a super-precedent or a super stare decisis, as Judge Luttig said?
ALITO: Well, I personally would not get into categorizing precedents as super-precedents or super-duper precedents or any...
SPECTER: Did you say super-duper?
ALITO: Right.
SPECTER: Good. I like that.
ALITO: Any sort of categorization like that sort of reminds me of the size of the laundry detergent in the supermarket.

ALITO: Well, that was a correct statement of what I thought in 1985, from my vantage point in 1985.

ALITO: Senator, I had never attended a non-coeducational school until I went to Princeton. And after I was there a short time, I realized the benefits of attending a coeducational school.

ALITO: When you become a Judge, you have to think about legal issues like a Judge.

HATCH: People like me don't know what an eating club is, but it sure as heck doesn't sound like a cafeteria.

BIDEN: My son was -- well, anyway, he ended up going to that other university, University of Pennsylvania. I mean, I really didn't like Princeton. I was an Irish Catholic kid who thought it had not changed like you concluded it had. I admit, one of my real dilemmas is I have two kids who went to Ivy League schools. I'm not sure my Grandfather Finnegan will ever forgive me for allowing that to happen. But all kidding aside, I wasn't a big Princeton fan. And so maybe that is why I focused on it and no one else did. But I remember it at the time.

Monday, January 09, 2006

E-Mail Exchange

Me: On an unrelated and tangential note, I'm afraid of what karma has in store for me if I proceed any further in my legal career without grasping how "possession is 9/10 of the law" fits into things.

Crim Law Prof: I have no idea what it really means.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Round One

Mom goes in for her first cycle of chemo tomorrow.

Aside from periodic rambling here, I think that I've been able to avoid preaching to those around me about my new found perspective. But, it's really tough right now to swallow the nuances of product liability. It's tough right now to do anything but think of her - which is, of course, the last thing she'd want to happen as a result of this. I'm not really even motivated to watch the Giants playoff game right now. It's such a grounding and human ordeal.

Standing center among all the obvious reasons to look forward to summer, I'm already anxious for May to roll around just so I can be there for her on an extended basis. I don't really know what help I can lend beyond emotional support. But, I feel like just being there would make things a little easier. Though, she's hardly lacking for inner resolve and outer support.

It's strange to sense someone's mortality. I really don't mean to sound defeatist. At all. There are success stories of people going into "remission" and living for up to eight years with a condition like this. But, given the over/under that this affliction carries, every hour and day seems all the more precious.

She fully appreciates this and is far from letting this turn of events slow anything down. Instead, she's popped the clutch into overdrive. Last I heard, she had planned three separate trips to 1) Nerja, Spain, 2) Half Moon Bay, Calif., and, for the twenty fifth wedding anniversary in September, 3) Santorini, Greece.

Forward march.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Love Actually

I'd like to take this opportunity to formally apologize.

I've been entirely unresponsive to the needs of idle surfers like you. Well, at least one idle surfer. This was recently brought to my attention.

w*#(*#)$%e: i know you have finals and stuff
w*#(*#)$%e: but SOME people are still on break and would really appreciate some more regular blog updates
w*#(*#)$%e: i mean, no pressure or anything

Yeah, I've been kind of busy lately. It's not just bloggin' that I've fallen behind on. I have been pretty terrible lately at keeping in touch with people, sticking to my lifting schedule, and settling on a New Year's resolution. But, I really do like writing on here. Give me just a few more days and I'll be back on track again. Does that count as a resolution?

Okay, that's not entirely true. I actually have made a New Year's resolution. It's the type that Hugh Grant might clumsily make in some airy romantic comedy (I'd argue that Love Actually is probably the best offering in the genre). She has that effect on me. I don't know where I went right. If I can type that without fear of getting voted off the island, maybe that will paint a clearer picture of the kind of promise I made when the ball dropped.

Since then, studying has been my job. It pays pretty well, except the check doesn't arrive until August 2008. In the meantime, all that stands in between me and reentry into civilization is a Torts final on Monday and a Crim final on Wednesday. So, naturally, I'll be back in New York on Thursday.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Day After

They say that there's nothing like your first time.

"They" were right.

It was unforgettable. We laughed. We cried. We captured a piece of the tri-force.

Taking my first law school final was not as life changing an experience as some people around here might have built it up to be. But, to no longer have it looming is a relief.

It wasn't exactly a harrowing experience. Though, throughout the three hours of frantic 'stream-of-consciousness' typing there was hardly time to breathe.

There's really no telling how it went. It was probably somewhere in between a High Schooler's drivel and Justice Holmes' eloquence. I'll settle for the mean. Actually, come to think of it, I'll settle for a law degree. I'm studying. Pretty relentlessly, too. But, the difference in decimals has fallen out of my 'Top Ten Thoughts.'

That's about all I can write without lapsing into an overly existential ramble on the nature of things.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

We Shall Fight In The Shade

For some reason, my brain is wired to find strength and resolve in the heroic actions of warriors. For the time being, I'll spare you the tactical of genius of William Wallace. The Classics major in me -- that law school hasn't beaten into submission -- woke up thinking of Spartan valor. I guess this is what happens when finals loom and your Mom's two year survival rate is a coin flip.

This inspirational moment in history is brought to you by Herodotos:

At Thermopylae, in the August of 480 BC, an army of Greeks, led by 300 Spartans, stood to receive the full force of the Persian army, numbering perhaps some forty times its size.

Xerxes did not believe such a small force would oppose him, and gave the Greeks three or four days to retreat. The Persians were initially astounded upon seeing the Spartans oiling themselves and performing calisthenics, not understanding its ritual significance, performed by men with the resolution to fight to the end. The Persian army was growing restless, and Xerxes sent his troops into the pass with hellish results.

The Persians, with arrows and short spears, could not break through the long spears of the Greek phalanx, nor were their lightly armed and armoured men a match for the vastly superior armour and weaponry of the better trained and equipped hoplites. Enormous casualties were sustained by the Persians as the disciplined Spartans orchestrated a series of feint retreats, followed by a quick turn back into formation. Because of the terrain, the Persians were unable to surround or flank the Greeks, thus rendering their superior numbers almost useless.

Greek morale was high. Herodotus wrote that when Dienekes, a Spartan soldier, was informed that Persian arrows blotted out the sun, he remarked with characteristically laconic prose, "So much the better, we shall fight in the shade." The Greeks defending the pass slew the Persians in a similar manner on the second day of battle, fighting in a relay manner. After watching his troops fall before the Greeks, Xerxes decided to send his legendary Immortals, so named for their fierce fighting and impenetrable line. Whenever one would fall, another would quickly fill the gap in the ranks. However, even the Immortals lacked the power to break the Spartan phalanx and they were forced to retreat, their numbers decimated.

Leonidas realized that further fighting would be futile. On August 11 he dismissed all but the 300 Spartans, who had already resigned themselves to fighting to the death. After their spears broke, the Spartans kept fighting with their xiphos short swords, and after those broke, they were said to have fought with their bare hands and teeth. Although the Greeks killed many Persians, including two of Xerxes' brothers, Leonidas was eventually killed, along with all 300 of his men. The last Spartans were killed by a barrage of arrows after fighting fanatically to recover their king's body, having been driven back into the narrowest part of the pass onto a small hill.

When the body of Leonidas was recovered by the Persians, Xerxes, in a rage at the loss of so many of his soldiers, ordered that the head be cut off, and the body crucified. Leonidas' body was later cut down and returned to the Spartans, where he was buried with full honours.

While a technical victory for the Persians, the enormous casualties was a significant blow to the Persian army. Likewise, it significantly boosted the resolve of the Greeks to face the Persian onslaught.