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We are as far from the release of Dazed and Confused (1993) as the film was from the 1976 it portrayed.
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"Hegel remarks somewhere that History tends to repeat itself. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce." - Marx.
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Look, I understand the concept of dramatic license. But having just watched an episode of "The Good Wife," I've got to wonder who the hell is writing this crap. (Spoiler warning, but if this show continues like this, it'll be off the air by sweeps, anyway. Poor Julianna Margulies deserves better, as does Christine Baranski.)

- A million bucks for a soft tissue injury in a slip and fall? Please let me know what jurisdiction this is in, so I can move there and start a plaintiff's practice (And retire by 45). Given a positive EMG test and a good neurologist's report, we're talking $100k, tops. If she treated for a year, and if you paid a neurologist $10-15k to appear at trial. And if the insurance company's lawyer was too busy secretly subpoenaing personal info to hire a PI to follow this perfectly healthy looking woman around for a day. I have permanently disabled clients who aren't going to get anywhere near a million.

-Punitive damages? For "willful and wanton" conduct? Sure, but leaving a wire on the ground for 24 hours isn't willful or wanton-- I don't think it's even reckless, and the Supreme Court decided years ago that punitive damages can only be 10 times compensatory in any case. And a $20,000 insurance policy for a house is something out of the 1970s. And what's stopping these Hasidim from waving down a random gentile and getting them to move this light, non electric wire on Shabbat? (Actually, I suspect that a fallen eruv wire could probably be moved out of a path without violating Shabbat)

-A lawyer's bar number isn't something easily hidden. I write mine or my supervising partners' on the web or on paper about 20 times a day. If you know my real name, you can look it up at the Pennsylvania Disciplinary Board's website, along with the bar number of everyone else, including the Governor, sitting judges, etc. Making up a bar number and practicing with it would probably work for about 6 weeks before you got caught. (A suspended or disbarred lawyer could probably get by for six months, but only if they were careful. A disbarred lawyer recently got his office locked by the PA Supreme Court for trying to continue to practice.) There's this thing called the Internet, see...

-Generally speaking, in every jurisdiction I'm aware of in the US, if not the common law world, you have to give the other side notice before you subpoena information. The likelihood of my surprising a witness with his or her cell phone bills at trial is approximately zero, presuming the witness has non-comatose counsel.

I'm not saying shows need to be as legally precise as Law and Order sometimes is. I'd settle for a Boston Legal (which got the law right and the ethics entirely wrong, but had the excuse of being a comedy). But yeesh. If anyone from the show actually reads this, I'll happily law-check their scripts for a flat low fee and closing title screen credit.
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Good freaking Lord.
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for those of you who have discovered I have a Facebook page (under my real name), and now are thinking that I'm some kind of jerk for not responding to your friend requests, this is what's going on:

1. My sister created the account for me, only slightly against my will.

2. I got the confirmation email and answered their questions.

3. The password my sister created for the account doesn't work.

4. I hit the "send me a new password" link and it informs me my email address isn't registered.

5. Facebook has not answered either of my two tech support requests.

6. I am receiving 30-40 emails a day from Facebook to the very email account that it claims isn't registered.

7. I am not amused.
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I never realized how much pleasure I would get from reading Jesse Helms' obituary. It's the kind of pleasure that you experience, and wonder why the universe didn't let you have it years ago.

MLK day.

Jan. 15th, 2007 05:29 pm
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This memory has been poking around my brain lately (when I'm not plotting to make digital audio receivers out of duct tape and cottage cheese), and I thought I'd post it.

Taking aside the question as to whether Dr. King would have wanted people to get the day off for his birthday (I think he wouldn't, and if I was in a slightly better financial position with a slightly less pregnant wife, I'd volunteer my time today), I think that the most important part of MLK's birthday and African-American History Month (February) is that things tend to slip out of people's memories after a short period of time. And while (so far, to my knowledge), the human race has been spared idiots claiming that slavery never existed, both the African diaspora (and Civil Rights movement which followed four centuries later) and the Holocaust have tended to slip from the immediacy of memory.

In 1993-94, I was working at a local medical school, answering phones half the time, and doing database management half the time. One of the neat things about the job (which paid decently, but not well) was that the division of the medical school I was working in got lots of foreign students. And it happened that in 1993-94, they had a huge group of Soros Foundation-sponsored doctors who were studying here in the States to get up to date on diagnostic technology. As I recall, the group I'm thinking of included three Ukrainians, a Romanian, a Slovene, a Croat, and a few Czechoslovaks (Slovakia not yet being independent). I made friends with them quickly; at first because it was a cold winter and I was the only American they saw on a regular basis who could translate Fahrenheit into Celsius in his head ("Is minus 15 Fahrenheit. Feels almost as cold as Ukraine. How cold in metric?"), later, because I had actually visited Yugoslavia when it was still communist, and because I'd taken Eastern European history and knew something, even just a little, about all of their countries.

Around this time of year in early 1994, I was walking a group of these docs to some event or another in Chinatown. I don't remember what it was we were going to there, just that it was in Chinatown, and about a 20 minute walk from the hospital. And at some point, one of the Ukrainians asked me a question which truly dumbfounded me:

Why are American Blacks so angry, so plentiful in Philadelphia, and why are they in such menial positions compared to Whites? Didn't the American Civil War end 130 years ago? Why were they still bitter? Why were they still complaining?

I explained the great Southern exodus of African-Americans in the 1930s to the North, explained that until very recently-- within the lifetimes of these doctors, in fact-- African-Americans were denied the right to vote, the right to own property or even to live in the neighborhood of their choice, the right to marry outside their "race," the right to use the same bathrooms and water fountains as everyone else. I think I made an analogy to the Romany in Eastern Europe, which sort of made sense to them. I talked about Dr. King and Malcolm X and Bull Connor and George Wallace, and the waterhoses being turned on children, and the bombing of black churches. I mentioned that my own father, when he was about my age, had seen Dr. King give his "I Have a Dream" speech during the March on Washington. I talked about the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and the 1968 Fair Housing Act. I pointed out that in many cases, that this was the first generation of African Americans who even had the choice to go to college. They listened raptly for about fifteen minutes, and then responded.

They were just as stunned by my answer as I was by their question. They had seen all the same footage I had of peaceful protesters mauled by dogs and attacked by high-pressure hoses. They'd heard and read the same speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr. They'd read extensively about the American Civil Rights Movement in school when covering American History, or, in the case of the older ones, every day in the newspapers.

And they'd written it all off as Anti-American propaganda of the sort the Soviet government was notorious for. "This was real?" they asked, almost in unison. None of them could believe, given their vision of the United States as a land of freedom and democracy-- the antithesis of the Soviet Union, that such a thing could have actually happened here. Under Communism? Sure. In South Africa? Sure. But the United States? Land of Freedom? Land of Opportunity?

A word to the wise guy: it may be a silly holiday in that banks and the stock market are closed for no good reason, and even sillier in that schools are also closed. It may seem like a single day that doesn't even come close to honoring a man who was certainly one of the 5 most important Americans of the 20th Century, if not the most important. But it means a lot, symbolically and literally. It means a lot.

Happy birthday, MLK.


Oct. 6th, 2006 03:50 pm
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this is pretty close to accurate. Sigh.
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but for those of you who like classical music, I can't recommend this disc highly enough. (Link is to musicdirect.com rather than the label because musicdirect's blowing them out at ten bucks a pop. If anyone spots it anywhere else for cheaper, let me know-- I think I want to buy a couple more copies as gifts for people) I'm currently playing it for the fourth time today (continuously, except for one break for lunch and one for Ziggy Stardust) and that's something rather uncommon-- I keep my 20G iPod filled, and very little of it gets unplayed over the course of a week.

I was sucked in because the title is an allusion to one of my favorite novels, Magister Ludi by Herman Hesse, (which I also highly recommend, for those of you who haven't read it) but this is one of the most beautiful chamber music CDs I've ever heard. And not just the Bach-- the Kodaly and Martinu are really something special. While it works on ordinary CD players, this is also the first opportunity I've had to hear HDCD (Windows Media Player can decode it, if you have a sound card that's 24-bit capable, and for some reason, my Dell box at work does), and while it's not on the level of SACD, DVD-A, or well-maintained vinyl, it sounds substantially better than a Redbook CD, especially through a decent set of headphones.
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this is the coolest thing I've seen in a while. Anyone want to try to start a Philly franchise?
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(though why should I be surprised-- he's always struck me as the smartest member of the band)

"If you’re lucky enough to be a father, you'll learn a whole new kind of love….. it's all full of purity and innocence, and it's just smiling at you and wants to kiss you and hug you, you've never felt so loved in your life. It's that bit of love you gave your own parents, the bit you don't remember - your kids give that back to you and you realize, I've just been given the first two or three years of my life back. "
-Keith Richards


Aug. 10th, 2006 04:43 pm
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Read more... )
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Noting, on Pandagon, one of my favorite blogs, a meme based on an absolutely idiotic list of the "greatest albums ever" (which can be found here), here is the official list of the Greatest Albums of All Time:
Read more... )


Apr. 19th, 2006 10:42 am
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Order here (PDF file)
Dissent here (PDF file)

Bonus points for those Civil Procedure geeks who can spot the logical fallacy in the dissent.
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from the Prothonotary of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. I won. It was closer than I would have liked, as three justices were rather upset with some of the behavior of the lower court judge and would have remanded, but in any case, it's over and I won!

I'll post a link to the opinion as soon as it's posted.
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in today's Legal Intelligencer. For those of you who are local and can read a paper copy, I get quoted several times, and come off rather better than my poor opponent.
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They filed an appeal today.
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I suspect that more will appear in tomorrow's papers, but this has already filtered down the wire. I'm not mentioned, but you can spot my candidate in the article.
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When I was about 10 or 11 years old, my swim team got invited to a citywide swim meet. It was the first Olympic-sized pool I had seen, they actually used digital stopwatches to measure times, and there were hundreds of people there.

My coach called me over, and told me I was swimming backstroke in the next race. I ran over, got into position on the starting bars, and realized he was wrong—it was the race after the next one—I was side by side with about ten 16-or-17 year olds, all of them several times larger than I was. The referee? umpire? guy-with-the-starting-gun-and-stopwatch? walked over to me, and loudly told me I was in the wrong race. I don’t think I’ve ever been more humiliated in my life. I had nightmares about it for months, and I quit the swim team just a little less than one year later.
Read more... )
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I've always liked the fact that British (and Canadian, and Indian, etc.) lawyers and judges wear wigs. It adds a certain amount of dignity to the courtroom process, and gives the rawest, newest barrister a bit of gravitas. So, when I saw this little experiment that a DA tried in Boston, it warmed my heart and made me just think that we Americans, with our love for analogies which compare lawyers to sharks and pit bulls, may be on to something....

UPDATE: The jury acquitted the defendant!.

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