Friday, March 31, 2006

Can You Spot The Eminent Scholar?

I know I go to a "Top Tier" law school, but it always surprises me when I discover that one of my professors is an "Eminent Scholar" in some area of law. Not because I don't think they're smart, but because professors at Minnesota (for the most part) seem like normal people.1 But every once in awhile, I run across something that makes me realize that these are really top flight "scholars."2 Earlier this week in my Admin. Law class, we were reading United States v. Mead,3 which is, as US Weekly has written "the hottest Administrative Law opinion since Chevron. If you only read one Supreme Court opinion discussing reviewing-court deference to agency interpretations this year, make it Mead."4 Anyway, the opinion cites an article co-written by Prof. Admin. The Supreme Effing Court cited her article!

I know it is weird to go all star struck over this but when I saw the cite, I was like "I know her! I KNOW her!"

So yeah, I'm a nerd. But, Prof. Admin. is still awesome. And now I realizes she's awesome for a reason other than because she is a teacher that can almost make Administrative Law interesting.

1 Case in point, Professor Matheson was more than willing to repeatedly say "Mr. Dumbass" and sing in the musical this year... and he seemed to be having a lot of fun doing it.
2 As much as legal scholarship can truly be called "scholarship." But that's a debate for another day.
3 533 U.S. 218 (2001) (providing the cite because I know y'all want to read it).
4 US WEEKLY 43, Jul. 22, 2001 (seriously, its in US Weekly... read it.)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

We interrupt the normal incoherent ramblings of this blog for the following announcement on behalf of the Minnsota Student Intellectual Property Law Association:
If you haven’t been to a Student Intellectual Property Law Association meeting (and judging by the turnout of some of our meetings... most of you haven’t), then THIS is the meeting for you!

Faculty and upper-level students will discuss courses you should take before graduation, so you will have some clue how to fill out your Registration Lottery.

But wait, there’s more! We also will be electing officers for next year. Have you ever wanted to be called "Mr. (or Ms.) President"? How about being in charge of a budget that involves literally tens of TENS of dollars? NOW YOU CAN BE!

All this, plus Lunch (WOW!)
Tues, April 4, 12:15 in Room 40
Be there, or Be Somewhere Else
And now we return you to mundane observations... What's the deal with Scalia? An "obscene gesture under his chin"?

When Real News Could Be In "The Onion"

Weird. Some kid here in Minnesota (Austin, MN to be specific... whose only prior claim to fame was that it's the home of Hormel, and the SPAM Museum, and thus smells like bologna) crawled into a "Claw" Machine.

Here are some pictures

Only in America.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Babies! Babies Everywhere!

Today in Unreasonable Land was the Day of the Baby. As I was leaving school, I got a voice mail from my mom saying that my cousin had her first child, a son.

And then, when I get home and check my e-mail, my best friend from high school (and still a very good friend now) just had his first child, a daughter (well, actually his wife had the child... but you know what I mean).

Holy crap that's a lot of new fingers and toes (hopefully 20 more of each!)

So, to little Preston and baby Brynn... HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

If They Take My Stapler Then... I'll Set The Building On Fire

Q: How cool is a casebook that points you to a website dedicated to Milton's1 stapler from Office Space (as my Trademarks book has done)?

A: Way cool, man. Way cool.

1 "Excuse me, senor? May I speak to you please? I asked for a mai tai, and they brought me a pina colada, and I said no salt, NO salt on the margarita... But, it had salt on it. Big grains of salt... floating in the glass."

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Examine THIS!

When I first got to law school, I thought it was so weird that there was only one exam at the end of the semester instead of several throughout the semester. Now, I have a mid-term on Tuesday and it feels all weird. I've pretty much built up a comfort zone around being somewhat clueless throughout the semester, and then pulling it all together during a month-before-finals death march of cramming and outlining. And now, I have to cram everything from the first half of the semester for one of my classes into my brain for this midterm. Granted, this is for my Statistics for Lawyers class, which has going at a pretty leisurely pace (and has pretty much tracked the Statistics course I took in undergrad), so this shouldn't be too difficult.

Still, an exam in the middle of the semester feels weird.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Vegas #2: The Shows Baby!

There are two things that Vegas is known for: 1) Gambling; 2) Shows1. I will talk about our gambling in a later post. But now, I will talk about the types of shows you can go to in Vegas. First, the shows we went to:
1) A Broadway Show - This is a fairly new development in Vegas, but I've heard that more and more Broadway shows are going to do a long run in Vegas before they start touring nationally. We saw Avenue Q, which is a very funny show which I saw on Broadway when I interviewed in New York back in September, and the Unreasonable Wife wanted to see it too. If you get a chance to see this, in New York or Vegas, GO! It is hilarious. It's got two puppets having sex, what's not funny about that?
2) Magic Shows - There are at least three magic shows that we saw advertisements for. Most of these are the corny, David Copperfield or Siegfried-and-Roy type flashy show. Including Lance Burton: Master Magician, which we saw. Nothing really to say about this. If you've seen a magic shows, you pretty much seen what Lance is all about. A lot of levitating and using silver hoops to show "She's really floating!" Pretty standard really.
3) Comedy Show - Several stand up comedians do shows in Vegas. We just went to a stand-up club where a couple comedians performed. I've seen one of them before (Cathy Ladman), but overall it was just OK.
4) Free Performances at Casinos - Several casinos have these shows so you will come for the show, and stay for the gambling. We went to a couple of these... The Sirens of TI at Treasure Island (a.k.a. the tackiest show ever), and Masquerade: Show in the Sky at the Rio (an attempt to simulate Carnival in Rio de Janeiro). Both were OK... eh.

And the shows we didn't go to:
1) Celine Dion - AHHHH! There aren't enough free comps in Vegas to make me go see this show!
2) Showgirls! (a.k.a. "The Revue") - You know, the huge headdresses and the bare breasts. We didn't go to one of these because they were expensive. There's also the opposite variety, the Showdudes shows... Which currently include The Thunder From Down Under and American Storm
3) Impersonators - Most famously brought to Vegas by Elvis Impersonators, and now including several shows, including Legends in Concert, a Rat Pack Show, and a Beatles tribute called Fab Four Mania. We also saw the Neil Diamond impersonator as we were walking through the Riviera (at least I hope he was the Neil Diamond impersonator, or else it was just a guy with really bad taste).
4) Strip Clubs - Come on. I was there with my wife.
5) Cirque de Soleil - There are current four, yes FOUR, Cirque de Soleil shows in Vegas (and there will be a fifth later this year). Whether its Mystere, KA, "O", or the slightly creepy Zumanity, they're all weird... but all supposedly good. There's also a Cirque de Soleil wanna be at the Wynn called La Reve (you can tell it is Cirque de Soleil-ian if it uses a vaguely french phrase)

There are others... basically, you can see whatever you want in Vegas.

1 OK, and prostitution... but lets try to have just one post that doesn't talk about whores.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Rethinking Monetary Donations as "Speech"?

Last night's Daily Show had Sen. Russ Feingold (D Wis.) on. The interview of Sen. Feingold itself wasn't that interesting (in my opinion). But, at the end Jon Stewart was discussing campaign finance reform,1 and argued that the first step is to recognize that campaign donations are "speech." And then he said something that really got me thinking:
When you have a debate and one person is arguing reasonably, and the other is handing out $10,000 a person, we know who will win that debate every time.
At first I thought "Of course campaign donation is speech" (harking back to Con Law when we argued this). But than I really thought about it, especially with respect to Corporate donations. Is it really speech?

Do the realities of the current practice of corporate campaign donations and lobbying (i.e. a corporation having a lobbyist wine and dine, not to mention donate buckets of money, to a politician to vote their way... and doing the same thing to every politician) really have the characteristics of speech? I'm really just thinking out loud here, but maybe the original justification for thinking of campaign donations as speech no longer apply. I haven't really looked at the cases since we discussed the First Amendment in Con Law last year, so I may be way off baase, but to me "speech" is a conveyance of ideas for the purposes of good public discourse. But, a corporation giving money to a bunch of Congressmen so they'll vote for something that will increase the corporation's bottom line doesn't really serve the purpose of public discourse. If anything, as Jon Stewart pointed out, it hinders it.

Just throwing this out there. Discuss. Hey! This could be another Note topic for all you future Law Journalistas.

1 Noting that Sen. Feinfold is the one in the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Great Note Topic for Next Year

Are you a 1L who will be on a journal next year? Are you afraid of picking a Note Topic? Well, luck for you, the Unreasonable Man is here for you (well, one of you, because only one person can write on this gem). According to an article from today's Minneapolis Star-Tribune, attorneys for former Vikings "Quarterback" Daunte Culpepper and current running back Moe Williams for the Lake Minnetonka Sex Cruise scandal are arguing that the prosecutor have not alleged illegal sexual activity. Apparently, this issue turns on the definition of "lap dance" under the law:
Judge Kevin Burke questioned the attorneys as he tried to reach a legal definition of a lap dance, saying he knows of no relevant case law.
Talk about a sexy legal topic... literally! And imagine the research possibilities. No longer do you have to feel like perv for sneaking off to Deja Vu... now you're "Doing legal research."

You're welcome.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Vegas Post #1: Tacky is King

As promised... or mentioned... I will have a series of posts about our trip to Las Vegas. I apologize for anyone who has been to Vegas before (particularly anyone who has been there multiple times), because this won't give you any new information.

Anyway, like the vast majority of visitors, we stayed on the Strip. And on the Strip, tackier is better. Even the fanciest hotels (the Bellagio and the Wynn) are tacky to the point of absurdity. The New York-New York Hotel looks like its made of balsa wood and Scotch Tape. The "Eifel Tower" at Paris Hotel in no way evokes the same feeling as standing under the real Eifel Tower. It just feels cheap. The pirate show at Treasure Island... oh my god, that is the tackiest thing I've ever seen.

But, the beauty of Vegas is that doesn't matter. It's the tackiest place on earth, and to distinguish your hotel, you need to have something tackier. It's like the 1970's gave birth to its own city.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Vegas Is A Trip

I literally have soooo much to post about from our Vegas trip that it will take several posts to describe it all. For right now, all I'm going to say is that Vegas was a blast, but I'm glad we only spent a few days there. We gambled. We went to a few shows. We walked the strip. It was surreal.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Leaving On A Jet Plane

We're leaving for our Spring Break trip to Las Vegas early in the morning. Blogging will be sparse (nonexistant more likely) until Thursday, unless I can find a cheap internet cafe.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Keep On Rockin' On Your B-Day

Gopher-Goof over at The MN Life has a link to a database of Billboard's #1 Hits on a particular date, which allows you to see what song was #1 on the day you were born. Sounds pretty cool right? Well, that depends on what was popular when you were born.

For me, its "Shadow Dancing" by Andy Gibb. Andy Gibb! Not even one of the actually Bee Gees... just their frickin' younger brother.

Well, maybe the Unreasonable Wife's is worse. Let's see...

Nope! Her's is awesome. "Funkytown" by Lipps, Inc. Great... now all she's gonna do is talk about it, talk about it, talk about it, talk about it.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Apparently, This Blog is the "TigerBeat" of T.O.R.T.

Help! My blog is being invaded by 1L girls arguing which T.O.R.T.-feasers are the dreamiest! Ahhhh!1

1 I wonder if I would mind as much if I was on any of their lists?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Is There Restitution for "Loss of Humor"?

I've been meaning to post on this for awhile, and Russ's post on how bad Seinfeld would be if a lawyer was involved reminded me... but one of the things "they" don't tell you about law school is that you lose some of your sense of humor. How many of my fellow law students have experienced something similar to the following:

[Scene: A man and a woman are watching TV. The woman looks perky and happy. The man looks drawn and tired. Care to guess which one is the law student and which one isn't? They are watching a sitcom where something zany has happened. The woman laughs heartily. The man merely chuckles, but also looks disturbed].
Woman: That was SO funny!
Man: It was alright... But that could never happen. In [insert class name here] we learned that the doctrine of [insert boring legal term here... bonus points for a pretentious latin phrase like res ipsa loquitur] precludes a person from asserting a defense for [blah blah blah]
Woman: Dude, what the heck are you talking about?! We're watching TV, and you're ruining it!
Man I'm just saying its totally unrealistic.
Woman: Of course its totally unrealistic. It has Neil Patrick Harris in it. He was a frickin' doctor at 16, and now you expect realism!
[End Scene]

Even if that scene doesn't happen, and the law student "holds it in," what was once very funny has still become less so for the law student because our minds are still cycling through causes of action and possible defenses. Torts in particular is a great class for this... what was once a funny Three Stooges bit becomes "Well that was clearly battery, or at the very least negligence."

The effect is exponentially amplified when multiple law students are involved. That same Three Stooges clip becomes:
Student 1: Well, Moe clearly performed a battery there.
Student 2: No, that was merely negligence. True, Moe did intentially punch out with his fist, but Curly moved into the space where the fist eventually landed. While Moe may be liable for Curly's injuries, he is not liable for battery and all the additional emotional damages that may arise.
Student 3: I disagree. No matter which tort Moe might have been liable for, Curly clear consented to the contact. From their previous actions in earlier Stooges movies, Curly knew, or can be presumed to have known because the reasonable prudent person would have known, that such fighting occurs regularly, and yet he still hung around with Moe and Larry. At the very least, he assumed the risk.
Student 1: Yes, but Curly clearly (law students love to say "clearly") has subpar intelligence, so can we truly assume that his bald, pea brain would know that past violence meant future violence
Student 3: That doesn't matter. The reasonable person standard cannot be dumbed down merely because this particular person is stupid. Otherwise, the law would create a "race to the bottom," lowering standards for everyone

See how unfunny that is. But I know I witnessed similar discussions after a Torts class, and I'm sure some of you have as well.

Even when we are funny, it is slanted heavily in favor of "law related humor," that while very funny, is still not funny to the general public. Mike at Wings & Vodka is a great example of this. (My personal favorite of his to date is his "Motion to Transfer Venue" from one conference room to another). Law School musicals are another good example. I laughed harder at Walter Wanka and the Lawyer Factory then I had laughed in years. And this year's musical was also quite good. But, many of the funniest jokes are inside jokes that only law students would get (and for some, that only U of MN law students would get).1

I don't really know where I'm going with this... hmmm. But the point is, law school is great for a lot of things; but humor ain't one of 'em.

1 That's not a bad thing as far as the musical goes, as it is a law school musical... but that doesn't change the fact that we are less funny now, at least to the outside world, than when we started law school.

We Interrupt This Regularly Scheduled Blog

I have to take a break from debating the merits of Harry Potter vs. My Fair Lady, West Side Story, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, et al., to comment on the shocking (at least shocking to me) death of Kirby Puckett.

For people who aren't Minnesota Twins fans, this may not seem like a big deal. And, in the grand scheme of things, it isn't. Compared to world hunger, poverty, the war in Iraq, etc., the loss of a former baseball player is merely a sad event. But, for me, Kirby was a big deal.

I was 12 years old when my family moved from Nebraska to Minnesota. Being 12 and awkward is hard enough, but doing it after moving away from most of my family and my best friend in the world was particularly hard on me. Even worse, we moved during the summer, so for about 3 months I didn't even have a new school to meet new friends. What I had to fill the void was Twins baseball.

Most likely because they were feeling guilty for uprooting me at this vulnerable age, my parents took me to loads of Twins games (at least a dozen... and probably more). Even when I wasn't going to a game that summer, I was watching them on TV. To top it all off, that was the summer of 1991, when the Twins went from worst (dead last the previous season) to First (winning the World Series in what is quite possibly the most exciting World Series ever).

My only truly happy memories from that miserable summer was going to the ballpark, waiting for Number 34 to come up to bat, and hearing (and usually shouting along) as the announcer screamed "Batting Third, KIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRRRRRRRRRBYYYYYYYYYY PUUUUUUUCKEEEET!!!!"

Like so many others, I was enchanted by Kirby's enthusiasm, his hustle, his love of the game, the exuberance he brought to each and every game he played, and the way every eye in the stadium was drawn to him.

Just about every Twins fan remembers Game 6 of the '91 Series, when Kirby almost single-handedly won the game for the Twins and forced a Game 7, which the Twins won to take the title. But for me, I will always remember Kirby for the magical way this squatty little guy would beat out a ground ball and how he could light up the entire Metrodome with his smile and a tip of his batting helmet.

Goodbye Kirby. You'll never knew how much you touched my life, but I'll never forget you.

Back to School

It's really hard to take school, and BA Corps in particular, seriously when the professor keeps writing "BJ Rule" on the board when talking about the Business Judgment Rule.

Monday, March 06, 2006

While We've Tried To Entertain, Our Grades Have Gone Down The Draaaaaaain!

It's over! The T.O.R.T. musical is over! Very fun week... but I am so exhausted, and so far behind in my class reading that it will probably take me a week or so (plus spring break) to get back on track.

Highlights of West Bank Story from this cast-member's perspective:
- U.S. Dist. Court Judge John Tunheim ad libbing the line from "I'm a District Court Judge, I can do whatever I want" to "I'm an activist judge, I can do whatever I want"
- "As long as my sister is sexually gratified, you have my blessing" instead of the actual line "As long as my sister is happy..."
- The director yelling at the cast and crew for being drunk during Saturday's matinee
- "How do you feel about your answer now, Mr. Dumbass?" - "I Feel Shitty" was probably one of the funniest songs in the show
- Professor Younger whipping out a Pabst Blue Ribbon during her scene on Saturday, thereby making it nearly impossible for the cast to refrain from laughing while on stage
- "And I said 'No Dean Keyes, your milkshake brings all the boys to the yard.'"
- Firooz and every performance of "No 1L, No Cry" discussing The Case of Thorns "This song of a bitch, he dropped my branches. Now I'm so confused."
- Knowing that Trevor would "Do Anything For Law ... as long as two dudes can't be honeys!"
- Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch screwing his lines up royally. You would think a politician could memorize lines better... especially one who is running for governor.
- And finally, some of my classmates actually telling me they voted for me to be Head Writer next year, despite the fact that Kirby "I wrote West Bank Story" Peterson ran again, because they liked my idea better. I still won't win, but it was nice that people liked my idea.

It was a blast. Now I have to dig my way out of a mountain of reading. Caffeine will be involved.