Exact Approximations

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

So that flu turned out to be bronchitis. I broke down and went to the urgent care room yesterday, where I was told that I am at the tailend of some post-viral bronchial spasmatic uckness. He had me breathe into a tube a few times and laughed at my lack of lung capacity. Then he gave me an inhaler, said "we treat it like asthma" and told me to get some rest. I'm addicted to my inhaler, and think I will never be able to breathe without it again.

Still waiting on MPRE scores... and job offers... and the motivation I need to write this damned writing requirment that is apparently mandated in order to graduate.

Anyhow, I haven't abandoned things, just been super-sicko.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Up With St. Patty's - Down With the Flu

I'm half Irish on my dad's side. I should be getting so drunk later. Unfortunately, that's exactly what I'm not gonna be doing.

I was just bragging to someone how I didn't get a flu shot this year and had managed to go flu-free all season. That is so what I get. The youngin' came down with it and now it's hitting me full force. This has given me the opportunity to finally watch The Incredibles, which was a good one. Also Shark Tale (not such a good one). To round it off, I was subjected to a Hillary Duff trilogy of films, which may be what actually got me sick now that I think about it. The youngin' is better today and off to school with a hop and a skip. And a green shirt.

I'm in recovery. With crackers and 7up. Will be back when I can see straight again.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

It's Your Kid....

I collect magnets; have an abnormal number of them. I'm like those crazy Precious Moments collectors, only my stuff is cheaper. My daughter's friend was looking at them today, and noticed I had a few anti-W magnets. She asked me if I didn't like George Bush, and why. I tried to be diplomatic, seeing as she's 8 years old and not my kid.

"I just disagree with some decisions he has made." Very respectful. I wasn't trying to send the kid back home to her dad with all kinds of my anti-W propaganda. I wanted to, but it didn't seem the prudent course.

"Well, just think, there were guns in Iraq. If George Bush hadn't started the war, they would have shot him. Then the President would be dead, and that would be bad."

Hm. Would it really be so bad? I guess given the next guy in line, it wouldn't be great. Clearly, this child lives in a red house. I wanted to set her straight, but I would be annoyed if this child's parents tried to convince my kid that God and Bush were great, so I restrained myself. Makes me wonder, at what age do I stop looking at kids as the children of their parents and see them as autonomous? Surely it is not at 8 years old, but one would think it would be before 18... I guess the next time she comes over, I better hide my "Stop Using Jesus as an Excuse for Being a Narrow-minded Bigoted Asshole" magnet. Just a thought.

Friday, March 11, 2005

MPRE Alert: the Ethics of Procrastination and Fishing

Studying for tomorrow's MPRE, I came across a blurb about how procrastination is one of the most annoying habits in the legal profession. I may have known that sooner had I started studying for the MPRE prior to this past week. In my own defense, law school has always rewarded my procrastination. Anyhow, the exam is less than 24 hours away and I should probably take the day to do a few practice tests. I meant to do that yesterday, and went to the beach armed with my review book, ready to study like gangbusters.

Instead, I ended up debating the ethics of fishing with a man named Rick. Also, we played guitar together. I sang "Dock of the Bay" as he attempted to convince me it's not so bad to stab a fish's mouth. In terms of raw numbers, he argues there's no real threat to the species by virtue of human fish consumption. If my concern was maintaining fish diversity, I should be satisfied. I had no way of knowing whether this was true or not. I seem to remember learning something about depleted fish resources when I was in Junior College and way too interested in the subject of human overpopulation, but I couldn't remember any of that well enough to engage in informed discussion. "There's other fish in the sea" he said, smiling. I couldn't really care frankly. Rick apparently eats the fish he catches, and I'm down with that. I can understand wanting to skip the whole fish processing step. I also have to watch what I say about humans using animal resources, because although I am a vegetarian, I believe in (reasonable) animal research and I fucking love my leather Coach bag. Humans won, cows lost. Fair enough. But still... I watched Rick retrieve a hook from a fish's mouth and (I think) slit the fish's throat... (he slit something). It's was ucko. As I left, he asked when I would be at that beach again. "Eh, probably not so much, it was nice to meet you though." I just wanted to play some guitar. There are other fish in the sea, and they don't go around slitting fish throats.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Comment Responses

I like smart comments, they deserve play. So, in order of importance: 1) Politics 2)Iowa Law Girl 3)Pontiff

1) Politics, re: Roper v. Simmons. Anonymous 10:23 makes a very good point:
"I agree that the court should not be relying on the whimsy of the people in making their decisions, but Kennedy's admission that constitutional law evolves is key to their ability to expand liberty. Those expansions only do come, however, when society has changed somewhat. The problem arises when the court uses the shift in societies beliefs to restrict liberty instead of expanding it."
This is very true; many of the recent liberties have come along in just this way. Overall, I think it is a great thing, and were there not another hook for the Court to hang this on, I would prefer this reason to not getting the right result, which we got with Roper. I worry about situations I perceive as restricting personal liberties (further limits to abortion) that the Court might view as expanding liberty (rights to life). I can't think of another example; I guess I'm just super-freaked about the abortion thing. Practically speaking, BushCo machine is full force right now, and I would feel more comfortable with the Court staying away from words that could get used against us in a couple of terms. On a theoretical level, I think it makes perfect sense for the Court to expand liberty based on shifts in public opinion. Strict textualists can get bent.

2.) A big hello and thanks to Hufflin n Puffin over at Angry Little Iowa Law Girl, for adding me to her blogroll. First time for me, and as soon as I figure out how... I will link her too! She's got some pretty funny stuff over there, so all 3 of my readers should check her out. Thanks much, I always enjoy hearing from anyone interested in Rubik's Cubes.

3.) Pontiff:
First, Mr. Bonnell said

"Thanks for your honest postings"
Wasn't sure what to make of that, whether it was sarcasm or sincerity. I took a look over at his blog, and I must say - this is the sort of Christian I like. That's right folks, I don't just automatically look down on those who are religious. Despite how lightly I take religion and the jokes I throw around about God, I admit there are values in the Christian religion I find appealing. It's my understanding that the basic teachings revolve around loving others, community ties, forgiveness and humility. Not so bad. I think liberals could tap into the "religious" community way more. It's the application of the religion which has really seemed to create problems. I collect magnets; one of my favorites say "I've got nothing against God; it's his fan club I can't stand." So true. If more Christians were like Mr. Burnell, I wouldn't be so freaked out about religion.

As a general comment (not at all directed at Mr. Burnell), even if there is a God, that doesn't mean that the morals and values of atheists, agnostics and members of other religions are wrong or bad. Belief in God is not a free pass to ignore the inhumanity on this earth; nor is it an adequate justification for forcing others to follow your beliefs. When the non-believers are in the majority - religious folk might find themselves wishing they had demonstrated more tolerance. I'm just saying, treat your neighbor as you would have him treat you... or whatever it is I hear they say at church.

Anonymous 10:20 said:

"Just look at how God is playing with the pope...I agree that guy should be dead by now - but God is playing with him too, just like you."

That's a bad sign for the Catholics. One more sign they didn't get it right. I swear man, more I think about this, the more certain I am I would place my bet on the Mormons ;) Anyhow, it sure is strange that every time I turned on the t.v. after the Pope's surgery - it was all about how everyone was praying that he would pull out strong, and stay with us for more years to come. WHY? why why why? Shouldn't the Pope be the first one ready to go? Doesn't he get like, a gold mini-throne, right next to God? Lines of Popes rolling around behind the Trinity? If the Catholics are right (which the Pope had better believe), then the Pope is going to be part of God's posse. That has got to have fat benefits. Mad bling. You'd think people would be ok with him bowing out.

More from Anonymous 10:20

"Lex, what if God was just playing with you and decided not to strike you down."

Well, then, that's not too bright on God's part. If God knows me, he should have given me my one chance for salvation. I mean, he could have made it look like a heart attack or whatever, God wouldn't have to be found out (although, as per my earlier Pope post, I think he should sometimes). It's his own fault. He made me so reasonable that I can't bring myself to follow the words of a buncha men from forever ago. Plus, weren't there all kinds of other gospels that didn't quite make the Bible cut...? Isn't religion the reason for example after example of humans brutally killing eachother? Hasn't God let his people become terribly misguided? And for what, a test of faith? That's bullshit. The majority of people have to burn in eternal fire pits because you made yourself make no sense? Sorry big man upstairs, holy father has got some evolving to do.

By the way, I hate that poem Footprints. That shit is so played out.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

What a Day, Part Deux

As I type, the fire alarm in my apartment is going off. I can't get it to stop. I pulled wires, pushed buttons and hit it a few times. No luck. It's been going on for almost an hour. The maintenance guy was supposed to be here 40 minutes ago.

This is a severe, severe Master of the Mother Fucker situation.

Well, the house didn't burn down. The maintenance guy never came - I ended up calling him back. Maintenance Guy said they had to call in an electrician, something about the alarm being hardwired throughout the building.

I called my brother, also an electrician, and asked him what I should do. He recommended I pull down the unit and unplug "The Black Wire" from "The Plastic Thing." I couldn't find the plastic thing, and ended up calling him an electrician of great incompetence.

Shortly thereafter, this guy who lives above me came walking home and stopped at my door, noticing the alarm. Upstairs Guy is also a maintanance man here in the complex, and suggested I pull down the unit and remove "The Black Wire" from "The Plastic Thing." It all made so much more sense when he explained it. As I was talking to him, the only thing I could think was that I totally overheard him having sex the other night. We're discussing maintenance policy on charging for damaged fire alarms, and all I can picture is him having raging hot sex like the super stud or cialis addict he must be.

He came inside and unplugged "The Black Wire," ending my two hour fire alarm nightmare. Another half hour later the electrician that had been dispatched arrived, and replaced the unit. He also promised I wouldn't be charged for it, which is good, because I beat the crap out of it. He didn't seem to notice though.

What a Day

Midway through this morning's marathon 4 hour video MPRE lecture, I got a phone call from Baby's Daddy, following up on an argument we had last night. I swear, of all the men I am seeing right now, he is by far the most out of hand.

Anyhow, busy day today - but coming later: post addressing some of the comments I have received recently.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Top Ten Words to Drop When You Get Socratic Method'd

I was talking to a non-law school/normal friend recently, and she was asking what the Socratic Method was like. I told her it sucked, but wasn't so bad, and at any rate doesn't happen much after first year. No one really expects you to read everything after first year. Anyhow, it got me to thinking about the types of things I most often hear in class, and the positive responses they get. And so, here are my Top Ten Words to Drop when you get called on in law school. 90% guaranteed to make you seem intelligent and earn you a two week grace period. 10% risk you will be called out on being a total idiot, and possibly have your name circled in red ink on the seating chart.

90% ain't bad. We are lawyers in training here.

10. "No" - Obviously, this is only for yes/no questions. 90% of the time the answer is no, or else the question wouldn't have been asked. I realize that all anyone has to do is reverse the basic structure of the question to make yes mean no and no mean yes in terms of the issue the class is getting at, but law school professors don't seem to get that. They're stuck in their ways. Answer no and give a bullshit policy reason against whatever proposition you were just presented with.

9. "Disparity" - There's always a disparity. Disparity in outcomes, access, intelligence, you name it. Professors like it when you note differences in things. The lesser form of this word is "inequality," but we're in law school, so get your word whore on.

8. "Objection" - Warning, this only works in Evidence. Start your answer with an objection. Everyone will laugh. It will be a lame, silly law school pun that isn't really funny, but everyone will laugh anyhow. Object to whatever your Professor said as hearsay. Almost everything is hearsay, so the odds are on your side.

7. "Conflate" - People are always conflating issues, especially judges, lawyers, and the philosphers in the notes & squibs. Find a conflation and point it out. Professors like that. Apparently it means you take meaningless, miniscule inconsistencies of an issue and abstract them into deal breakers. Well, that's just cynical, but you get the point.

6. "Footnote #x" - Professors love that shit. If you read the footnotes, you're nutty enough to never get called on again. For each case, find a footnote of arguable relevance. No one else read it, so whatever you say it means is going to fly.

5. "Dichotomy" - Dispute the dichotomy though, don't support it. It's all about the false dichotomy.

4. "Pass" - That's right, you can actually pass. Usually. There are exceptions to this, in which case you may resort to words 10-5 and 3-1 of this list. Note: if you pass, you will likely get called on next time, but, whatever, now you've got two days to prepare.

3. "Conflate" - Use it again. Conflate the conflation. Deep.

2. "Arguendo" (or anything else latin). Lawyers like to use latin words for no good reason. It reinforces our intellectual elitism. If you use latin, particularly during first year, this shows that you either 1) studied latin as an undergrad (loser) or 2) made sweet love to Black's Law Dictionary the prior night (hot). Either way, you're ahead of the game and people will wonder what you just said. Most won't know, so even if it was idiotic, you still look good. If that doesn't work, bust into pig latin. Please do this during the 11:15 Tuesday session of Intellectual Property (I just can't stomach the 8:45, ever), so that I can get a good laugh.

And the Number One word to throw down when you get Socratic Method'd...

1. "Superfluous" - Emphasis on the "er." I'm not certain I was familiar with this word prior to law school. Now, I've been engaged in no less than 18 conversations regarding how to properly pronounce it. There's the regular way and there's the super-star way. It's all about the emphasis on "er."

Roper v. Simmons, It's About Time.

Supreme Court ruled it is unconstitutional to execute those who were under 18 at the time of a crime's commission. This case marks a shift in the Supreme Court's willingness to contemplate what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. Previously, in Stanford v. Kentucky, the Supreme Court held (in plurality) that the Constitution's bar against cruel and unusual punishment did not categorically prohibit the execution of minors. Stanford also noted that the Court had no place in bringing its own independent judgment to this determination. Roper shifts this mindset.

This was a particularly heinous crime. Simmons planned to murder, and noted to his friends that they would get away with it because they were minors. He and his friend burglarized an old woman, tied her up, wrapped duct tape around her face, and threw her into a Missouri river, where she drowned. Simmons was bragging about it the next day.

Simmons was found guilty, after a trial where no defense witnesses were called (what's up with that?) During the penalty phase, the defense noted Simmons' age, in an attempt to get the jury to consider this a mitigating factor. In response, the prosecutor said "Think about age. Seventeen years old. Isn't that scary? Doesn't that scare you? Mitigating? Quite the contrary I submit. Quite the contrary."

What does that mean? If a person is sooo evil that they commit a crime when young, then they must be really bad and extra deserving of death? Well then, time to rewrite some laws my friends, and overhaul the entire juvenile justice system to make it impose even harsher sentences than those given to adults (opposed to current status, which seems to be moving towards equating youth and adult culpability). Needless to say, Simmons got the death penalty.

Anyhow, post-penalty, sometime during the appeals flurry, the Supreme Court came down with a little decision called Atkins v. Virginia, which held unconstitutional the execution of the mentally retarded (we still need a better understanding of what constitutes mental retardation). Simmons' attorneys argued that the reasoning in Atkins also supported his argument that the constitution prohibits the execution of those under 18. The Missouri Supreme Court agreed (!), and set aside the sentence in favor of life without the possibility of parole.

The Supreme Court affirmed noting "The evidence of national consensus against the death penalty for juveniles is similar, and in some respects parallel, to the evidence Atkins held sufficient to demonstrate a national consensus against the death penalty for the mentally retarded."

Good result. But is it the right reasoning? This whole "national consensus" argument scares me - some might argue that the national consensus is turning against abortion, given increasing regulations states are trying to impose that push the boundaries of Casey. When the abortion debate comes back to the Court, this argument could go the other way. Maybe this is what Sandy was thinking when she dissented... Come on folks, your job is not to parrot the people. That's the idea of the Supreme Court: when legislators (theoretically representing the people) make laws (theoretically representing the people's consensus), it is the Supreme Court's job to put the smack down if that flies in the face of Constitutional boundaries. You don't need the people's approval folks; you're smarter than they are. Just work on expanding the concepts of personal liberty and we'll all be ok. All the good reasons were mentioned in the case: younger folks are less capable of appreciating their actions, more susceptible to influence and have less static personalities. Rest on that to determine that it is cruel and unusual - you don't need to make it turn on the apparent evolution towards national rejection.