Wednesday, February 28, 2007


I don't think it's at all possible for you to have participated more today.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

What A Piece Of Work Is Man

"Students should not attempt to memorize these rules."
Federal Income Taxation, Klein, Bankman, and Shaviro, 14th ed. (2006)(p. 412)

At this point, the fact that there are students out there that require admonition should not be at all surprising to me. But, it is. Never mind that Albert Einstein said that the income tax is the hardest thing in the world to understand. Who are these students that try to memorize the TAX CODE?

Monday, February 26, 2007

Small Beans

I am not a coffee snob. Far from it - I actually hate strong joe. But, I had the best cup of my life this weekend when I stumbled upon that vestige of caffeinated America, a friendly single location roaster that doesn't trade on the NYSE. It had the usual cast of pseudo-intellectuals and hung over yuppies, but also something more: charm and the appreciation of a small business owner for his local patronage. I didn't think places like this survived the Starbucksification of America.

It's located on 71 Irving Place. Get the flavored Chocolate-Hazelnut.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tiered Justice

From today's Boston Globe on yesterday's latest from the Supreme Court:

"So in some way, Claiborne's name stood before the court yesterday representing all the black men unfairly put away under unjust [drug] laws. But even though Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg wondered about the disparity yesterday, Chief Justice John Roberts proclaimed the issue of the 100-to-1 ratio to have 'nothing to do with the individual case.'

[The same day a] jury is found to have overreached on a 100-to-1 [punitive damage to compensatory damage] ratio against Philip Morris...[t]he government seeks to keep punishing people on a 100-to-1 [crack cocaine to powder cocaine] ratio. It may have nothing to do with the individual case, but it has everything to do with American justice."

Monday, February 19, 2007

Quote of the Day

"Well, when one is canonical like I am, there is always a degree of misciting to be expected."

Without doubt, this Professor boldly (and unabashedly) went even where no self-referential third person remark has gone before. Also, I am not joking when I add that this narrative was actually humble, plain-spoken, and the hard truth.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Last February, I walked across the Golden Gate bridge in shorts and t-shirt (incidentally witnessing the most distant legit call of 'shotgun' in history).

This February, I walked across Old Campus and lost all feeling in my extremities.

Fun to look at...

...but not to walk through.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

You Want A Lecture? Here's Your Lecture...

Random Eager Law Student: Now, I'm not so sure that the 3/5 clause was a proximate cause of the Civil War...

Prof. Amar: So, I actually know something about history. Sit in your arm chair and listen here. The Constitution happens to be a pretty big part in how American history plays out. If you're looking for causal factors, it's one. Different political rules give us a different political universe.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Cite Your Sources

One professor of mine from Penn once said in a lecture that "all of Western philosophy is a footnote to Plato." In light of yesterday's post and another revelation from today's reading, I'm no longer as skeptical of this idea if we temper disbelief and award it partial credit in some sort of six degrees of separation sense...

"[T]hat fear breeds repression; that repression breeds hate; that hate menaces stable government; that the path of safety lies in the opportunity to discuss freely supposed grievances and proposed remedies; and that the fitting remedy for evil counsels is good ones."
Justice Brandeis, Whitney v. California (1927)

"Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. I sense much fear in you."
Master Yoda, Episode I (1999)

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Say It Ain't So

Despite Mel's love of alcohol and hatred of Jews, I've maintained an enormous amount of respect for his performance and direction in that award winning epic, Braveheart. I don't think I'm being arbitrary about the matter either. While I think he's mastered the substance and style of his genre, I have no desire to meet him.

This was until the following text from Henry V struck me as a little too familiar. For now, at least, all bets are off. Is Braveheart's most famous speech (that I've performed dozens of times for others upon request like a trained monkey) jacked from Shakespeare? Decide for yourself, but I'll be looking into this further.

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.


And dying in your beds
Many years from now
Would you be willing to trade
All the days from this day to that
For one chance, just one chance
To come back here and tell our enemies
That they may take our lives
But they'll never take our freedom!
(Battle of Stirling, 67 min.)

Friday, February 09, 2007

Great Exceptions

"Because the seriousness of a crime matters, the Court in Welsh v. Wisconsin in effect proclaimed that there should be a "minor offense" (Welsh) exception to the "exigent circumstances" (Warden) exception to the "home arrest" (Payton) exception to the usual "arrest" (Watson) exception to the so-called "warrant requirement" (Johnson). Got that?"

Akhil Reed Amar, Fourth Amendment First Principles, 107 Harv. L. Rev. 757, 802 (1994)

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Tour of Duty

You are a fighter and a patriot, Lieutenant. Come home safe my friend. Until then, your boys remain proud and your seat at the poker table left open.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Psalm 40 Double Slant on 3:16

"We're Christian coaches. Doing it the Lord's way."
- Tony Dungy, in accepting the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Um, what? I am sure Dungy is genuine here. I know (especially now that Mom has turned to the Church for strength) that faith is pervasive in a believer's life. But, conflating the goals of sport with the values of religion seems to me forced and inapt.

Though, I'm not a football player nor a Christian. So what do I know?

Friday, February 02, 2007

2Pac 4 Prez?

On Declaring His Candidacy: "There's no need for you fear me. If you take the time to hear me, maybe you can learn to cheer me."

On Foreign Policy: "They got money for wars, but can't feed the poor."

On Nation Building: "Before we find world peace, we've got to find peace to that war on the streets."

[(L) -S. Dogg, possible running mate (R)-T.$hakur]

On Choice: "And since a man can't make one, he has no right to tell a woman when and where to create one."

On Corrections: "Teardrops and closed caskets. The three strikes law is drastic."

On Entitlements: "I give a holla to my sisters on welfare."

On Whether He Inhaled: "But am I less holy, 'cause I choose to puff a blunt and drink a beer with my homies?"

On Campaign Slogans: "If you can make it through the night, there's a brighter day."

On Race Relations: "Misplaced hate makes disgrace for races."

On Education: "Just cause you're in the ghetto doesn't mean you can't grow."

On His American Dream: "Driven by my ambitions, desire and higher positions. So I proceed to make g's eternally. My mission is to be more than just a rap musician. The elevation of today's generation if I can make them listen. Prison ain't what we need. No longer stuck in greed. Time to strategize. My family's got to eat."

On His Chances: "And though it seems heaven sent, we ain't ready to see a black President."

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Five First Impressions

1) It's weird that Fed Tax is my only class - incuding from the Fall - to fully employ the Socratic Method here.

2) Advanced Con Law is damn fascinating having already illustrated that lower case consonants, commas, and PARCHMENT SMUDGES embody first principles of the Republic.

3) When breaches of formal treaties are "enforced" through norms of assurance (even ones awarded Latin phrase), I'm skeptical of any International Law course located outside the Political Science department.

4) First Amendment has been just a little theoretical so far. We've made it through one case in one week. It's a pedagogical tie so far between lecture and that scene from 'The Big Lebowski' where Walter babbles about prior restraint.

5) Taking classes with 1Ls again is...interesting. Their degree of enthusiasm is just nauseating.