Friday, May 26, 2006

Rolled Up Aces

In the grand scheme of things, eating two large chicken pita sandwiches at 2:15 am seems entirely normal by comparison to what followed thereafter.

For some reason, I played a 4 am to 8 am stretch at the Borgata last night. As in Atlantic City.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. And it actually still does. It wasn't actually mine per se. That credit all goes to Brooklyn D - a soldier who actually had "responsibilities" and a "job" to be back in Manhattan for this morning. That's gumption. Since my Security Clearance came through this morning from Washington, I'll have a better idea what that's all about beginning on June 6.

Now, after a nap, some greasy diner food, and a day wasted recovering from the Jersey haze, I'm feeling great. My wallet being $550 fatter has nothing to do with it.

These are exactly the random moments of a City summer that I had in mind all year long.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Can You Hear Me Now?

Hi guys-

I am contacting you because I got tipped off from other people from Stanford that you may be New York residents. I am working for the ACLU this summer, and we are looking for students to help us out on a case (regarding the telephone company record disclosures that have been in the news recently). We are looking for people who are New York residents but who have California residential phone lines (AT&T or Verizon). It would help if your name is actually on the phone bill. Anyway, if any of you fit this description and might be willing to help out, please let me know ASAP.

Thanks so much!

Random Classmate

Dear Random Classmate,

If you have a problem with Verizon or AT&T forwarding the call records to the NSA, please contact your Congressman and have him propose a bill to better protect the privacy of this information. In the midst of all this hooting and hollering, knee jerk liberals have failed to consider that what Bush is doing may actually be legal.

All the Electronic Communication Privacy Act (ECPA) stipulates is that federal officials make only a cursory showing before a judge that the information is relevant to a criminal investigation. This is a relatively undemanding threshold to meet. But, it would be the best grounds to argue that the document production was illegal - and not the privacy issue. There is no constitutional protection for information divulged to a third party under the Supreme Court's expectation of privacy test - and the routing information for phone and internet communications divulged to phone companies amount to just that. "The absence or inapplicability of the statute would leave the routing information for those communications completely unprotected from government surveillance." Any remedy would be a purely civil one. In the eyes of the Courts, this just isn't constitutional.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Truth, Justice, and Happy Hour

The Department of Justice is still finalizing my security clearance paperwork. After it arrives from Washington, I should be good to go soon after Memorial Day weekend.

But, the friendly paralegals of 86 Chambers Street are anxious to get things going just a little bit sooner...


Re: Thursday Happy Hour

Hi! If you don't know why you're getting this email, it's (hopefully) because you will be starting very soon as a summer intern at the U.S. Attorney's Office, SDNY. The paralegals at the office would like to welcome you to our Thursday Happy Hours (and by welcome we mean first round is on you), which generally occur all summer, rain or shine, at a bar within walking distance of the office. If you're not in town yet or would rather hang out with cooler people this week, we will understand.

I'm getting spoiled with government hours before I even start. I love Uncle Sam.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Roberts Rules of Order

Can the police enter your home if they have an "objectively reasonable" basis to believe that someone within the residence is seriously injured?

I didn't know the question was still unresolved in this country. But, today, the Supreme Court says yes they can. Writing for a unanimous Court, CJ Roberts explains the doctrine in extremely technical jargon.

"Nothing in the Fourth Amendment required them to wait until another blow rendered someone 'unconscious' or 'semi-conscious' or worse before entering. The role of a peace officer includes preventing violence and restoring order, not simply rendering first aid to casualties; an officer is not like a boxing (or hockey) referee, poised to stop a bout only if it becomes too one-sided."

Game on.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Too Cool For School

And, just like that, the most grueling academic experience of my life has been taken out back behind the barn. Now anachronistic, the sobriquet SLS1L is no more.

SLS2L has a much nicer ring to it any way.

It's a beautiful day and I'm heading to a barbeque popping off in celebration. It was a crazy ride and, I think, I'll be able to better reflect on it after a few days free from the trenches.

That's all I have to say about that.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Yet So Far

The only thing standing in between me and summer parole is a single exam.

One Friday morning Property final.

In trying to review for it this morning, it has become undeniably clear to me that law school is really not about learning the law in any meaningful sense. I mean. It is and it isn't. With majority rules, minority rules, federal rules, state rules, jurisdiction specific common law rules - including region specific water law, mind you - the value of this type of education is in learning to manipulate arguments.

Or, to piece together recurring buzz words from the term, I will now teach you First Year Property.

Since "arguments always can cut both ways," it's important to learn more "facts about the world" before asking "what would the Judge do?"

There. Now, go out and make the world a better place.

It's fun to make light of this. But, in honesty, I think I've lost track of how far I've come. The first time that I was cold called in September, I think that Prof. Torts response was something like "that's interesting. Would you care to support your argument with some law?" Only eight months later, I feel entitled to mock Supreme Court jurisprudence. Sometimes.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Hope Springs Maternal

Ambrose Bierce wrote that a sweater is a "garment worn by a child when his mother is feeling chilly." Taken last month in Napa, here is a picture of my own attire controlling thermostat.

She's much more than that though. It's because of our bond that I'm leaving Stanford for the year - and why I don't need a second thought about choosing to do so. Mom has been my teacher in every sense of the word and there are still, I'm sure, many lessons left to be learned.

In the words of another modern day wordsmith, "when I was sick as a little kid, to keep me happy there's no limit to the things [she] did. And all my childhood memories are full of all the sweet things [she] did for me."

Happy Mother's Day, Mamá.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Concealed Consumption

As I pulled in to a parking spot outside Starbucks (#5 on the latest rankings), an employee on break nodded approvingly and, as I stepped out, asked if that was my car.

It was. But, for some reason, I told him otherwise. I said that I was borrowing it from a friend while my own ride, a Malibu, was in the shop. Considering that I'm still not entirely sure why this happened, I'm surprised I delivered the line confidently. But, I'm no compulsive liar and I have always believed truth and trust to be among the most important qualities a person can possess.

So, why did this happen? I'm not entirely sure. I guess at this point in my life I'm just not quite ready to be a conspicuous consumer. It still feels awkward to be driving a BMW. Even if I did, technically, earn it.

I wasn't raised on a farm and I'm not that guy who enjoys only simpler things in life. I honestly can't wait to live in a big city and I work hard now so that I can afford new things and experiences later. Still, there was some hurdle about acknowledging this in an exchange with a guy I'll never meet again. Is it possible that I was embarrassed? How can that be? This is a consumer culture. I love capitalism. I certainly don't trumpet anything resembling collectivist ideals. Yet, something about the situation made me feel less than completely comfortable - and I don't think I'll ever completely be at ease "flaunting" what I've got.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Gospel According To Lessig

Lessig's Life Lessons

Seeing as I have my Con law final in less than an hour, I think it's a good time to reiterate some of the lessons learned over the last 40 lectures. Here are, at least, the ones that I'll have a good chance of remembering in twenty years.

10. Good lawyers are concise. But, cool lawyers use their own codes and slang like s2bp and a2b.

9. When the text doesn't support you, cite history. When history doesn't support you, cite logic. When logic doesn't support you, make up an answer. But, try to sound judicial and avoid s2bp.

8. Black jeans and white shirts are the rage in professorial wear.

7. Society will one day recognize that the divide between man and dolphin is no mere distinction, but an invidious discrimination of the vilest sort.

6. Slippery slope arguments are for the weak of mind and faint of heart.

5. To speak technically is to speak correctly.

4. Button down shirts are only tops with buttons on the collar.

3. To always say "please."

2. Sunscreen prevents cancer.

1. There is a 60% chance the Supreme Court is not a fraud.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Starbucks Showdown

US News and World Report Starbucks Rankings

But, first, a brief word from franchise owners ***

Dear Starbucks Patron,

Choosing the best Starbucks for you is critically important to your short-term and long-term future. Getting quality information about the stores that interest you will require some time an effort, but you will be rewarded by expending that time and effort now. Several commercial enterprises promote “ranking” systems that purport to reduce a wide array of information about these operations to one simple number. These ranking systems are inherently flawed because none of them can take your special needs and circumstances into account when comparing java shops.

The idea that all Starbucks can be measured by the same yardstick ignores the qualities that make you and these stores "unique," and is unworthy of being an important influence on the choice you are about to make. In choosing the best shop for you, we urge you to get information about all the locations in which you might have some interest. Seek information directly from these stores, including catalogs or bulletins and other materials that will answer the specific questions relating to your special needs and interests. But, there is no substitute for on-site visits as you reach the end of the selection process. All Starbucks locations may have met the same standards of quality to become accredited, but they are quite different from each other. The unique characteristics of each will inform you why one may be best for you and another best for someone else. We want you to make the best choice for you.


1. Menlo Park, Santa Cruz Avenue - (A). Located just outside the blast zone of Stanford's campus, this large Starbucks is conveniently located in the heart of Menlo Park. Tucked a few blocks down off El Camino, this site offers plush seating, ample natural light, and it's own parking lot out back. Perhaps most notably, law students and other campus types comprise almost none of the clientele. Conducive for studying or chilling out, this is a tight run ship. Drinks are assembled by experienced professionals.

2. Palo Alto, El Camino Real - (A-). Gerald's favorite place to get his shaken iced tea, this site somehow ties easy access, parking, and tranquility together. It hardly needs to do so, but there's enough seating to satisfy a crunch of mid-morning Moms and after-school bookish types. This site has surged as of late for withstanding the corrosive effects of the growing Stanford bubble.

3. West Menlo Park, Alameda De Las Pulgas - (B+). Truly off of the beaten path, this site is a must for a law student desperate to find study space away from a library and those people that remind him of one. Though the place requires an added effort to reach, it's comfortable, quiet, and friendly.

4. Palo Alto, California Avenue - (B+). Aside from the daycare function the store seems to play during business hours, this store meets the bill. Staffed by help that sing out orders and keep lines - if there are any - quickly moving. There's comfortable seating indoors and a patio full of tables outdoors. As an "off campus" location, the trendy Stanford types are often nowhere to be seen.

5. Sharon Park, Secret Location - (B). The "Secret" Starbucks has gained much popularity among law school students recently. This result has contributed to a slight dip in the rankings. However, with floor to ceiling windows, the store basks in natural rays and receives maximal sunlight. Indeed, this is a necessary feature since the thermostat consistently hovers at a brisk 57 degrees. Located in a small center of commerce with a large chain supermarket, there is never a problem parking and the foot traffic is quite low.

6. Palo Alto, Middlefield Avenue - (B-). Baseline. No grade inflation here.

7. Palo Alto, Stanford Avenue - (C). In the end, this location is a victim of it's own popularity. As a favorite of Stanford students, the place doubles as zoo in which to observe the sorority girl, neurotic lawyer in wait, and loud talking cell phone woman in their natural habitat. Too far for a walk and not enough parking spots to legitimate a drive, the Stanford Avenue store puts some of our nation's brightest into a shoebox of psychological warfare.

8. Mountain View, El Camino Real - (C-). What happens when a postage stamp sized plot of land goes up for sale in the Bay Area? The Starbucks virus spreads, of course. This strange triangular location awkwardly provides customers with seating for about six people. Located on a major thoroughfare, please allot time for a wait should you plan to grab and go from here.

9. Stanford, Stanford Shopping Center - (D+). This mall site defines suburban hell. I have routinely seen lines fifteen or twenty people deep pouring out the shop's door. Afterwards, enjoy your cup of coffee on the outside patio. Unless, of course, the hoard of designer sunglass wearing wives have clogged the tables.

10. Palo Alto, University Avenue - (F). If you enjoy circling for a parking spot a good fifteen minutes, waiting on a mind numbing line with a hoard of college students and locals, and taking your coffee to go for lack of seating, then this location is right for you. The throng of homeless people flanking the doors in sweet repose make the whole package simply unrivaled.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Summer In Poetry

This is not the greatest poem in the world. No, this is just a tribute. I'm flattered, though, as these lines draw from my own experiences and actually await publication in a collection of works authored by unknown New England poets.

I've spent eight summers, including my last, in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. As much as I desperately need urban stimulation, some of the best days of my life were spent in the mountains.

I've met a lot of incredible people up there. Including one Persian girl and one, in at least my eyes, literary giant.

Led Zeppelin will be rumbling in the back room,
cards and chips will be on the table,
a Tiananmen Square poster will remind all
of the tenuous nature of political freedom,
"Play Like a Champion Today" will exhort the young Braves
and the spirit of Lubin will reside in lore and song.

- Redwolf Nighthawk Shallcross, native American poet.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Perception Is Reality. Fantasy League Is Too.

HIGHLIGHTS UPDATE: Some of the league's most exciting moments have transpired over the last few classes. Broken Arm's invocation of "God," Solidarity's drop of "rational voter theory," and Berkeley's deadpan "white people" comment were all recipients of bonus points. Additional praise is appropriate for Stewie. Upon edging out Argyle Blue Devil for a razor thin one point lead last update, Stewie has been assaulting Prof. Property with questions and comments alike as of late. By weaving "obfuscatory" into his ordinarily incisive commentary, it became clear that, with a championship in his sights, Stewie means business. League officials were unsure on whether to penalize or reward the gall shown by Eager Beaver - a woman that saw fit to actually ask whether the Professor was a "clumping" or "spreading" kind of guy. In the end, the Commissioner's shocked and his bewildered half agreed to reasonably differ and let the zero sum play out.

With that in mind, as we move in to our last day of property today, the league has become a two horse race between Stewie and Argyle Blue Devil. With only four points separating the two, ESPN has requested to televise live the 75 minute showdown. League officials have agreed. Can Runner, Hugh, and 80s Hair make up the ground? Will the Thrill, the league's presumptive MVP, and Stewie, the only player-manager in the league, just refuse to lose? Only time and a lecture on takings will tell...

BONUS POINT WORDS/PHRASES: Outrageous, Starbucks, Administerability, Milkshake, Choo Choo Train, Limiting Principle.

ROSTER MOVES: Leaf picked up Broken Arm on 4/20 and dropped Rainbow like a bag of rocks - a gutsy call given Broken Arm's recent strong showing.

1. Stewie, 56 pt (The Thrill 40, Stewie 13, Grace 3)
2. Argyle Blue Devil, 52 pts (80s Hair 9, Runner 32, Hugh 11)
3. Rainbow, 36 pts (Solidarity 33, Kramer 1, L 2)
4. Solidarity, 31 pt (Eager Beaver 15, Back Row Sniper 15, N 1)
5. Kappa, 29 pts (Men's Rights 20, Jimbo 2, Texas Charm 7)
6. SLS1L, 28 pts (Joker 11, Smoker 8, Midnight Toker 7; [O 2])
7. Leaf, 25 pts (Argyle Devil 8, SLS1L 11, Broken Arm 5 [Rainbow 1])
8. Gerald 23 pts (Idealist 4, XXXL 8, Metallica 10 [Broken Arm 1])

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Life, The Universe, and Everything

Deep Thoughts By Prof. Property

"One last thing. As strange as this sounds, this is a time in your lives that you all should cherish. You have more opportunities ahead than you can possibly imagine. There are jobs waiting for you that haven't even been created yet. There are jobs that you are going to create. Some of you are going to be working with your classmates in amazing ways that do not seem obvious now. And there is very little you can do to screw that up. Most of what can are those sort of things that society considers out of bounds anyway. So, please don't worry. There is nothing that should dim your enthusiasm."

You stay classy, Professor Property. For his words to mean anything, students need to actively accept their charge. Now. To reflect on this advice in ten years would be defeating their present intent to uplift. The forward looking pressure that people put on themselves (one, of many, paths toward success), is a surefire way to miss out on the present. It's a forest-for-trees kind of problem. So, relax, Eager Beaver. Whether he "spreads" the distribution of grades or "clumps" them around the mean will probably not affect your life's trajectory.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

King Pong

Even ping pong requires more athleticism than golf. Watch for the cartwheel backhand in the far court. Seriously.

Find something you do better than anyone else and stick (or paddle) with it.

Finals Say What?

Instant Message Conversation, 10:08 p.m. PST

Highlighter911: windows functioning
Highlighter911: now it is time to outline
SLS1L: that must be great relief for you
SLS1L: thank you for the update
Highlighter911: yes, i was worried
Highlighter911: but that means more distractions from studying
Highlighter911: so i shall resume studying now
SLS1L: i think the people also have a right to know when you have ceased doing so for the night
Highlighter911: ceased studying you mean
Highlighter911: probably around midnight...
Highlighter911: bleh
Highlighter911: my windows machine is "suspending"
Highlighter911: if i have any other updates i shall let you know
SLS1L: i remain in wait
Highlighter911: aight
Highlighter911: later