January 2003 Archives

Disturbing Legal Fiction of the Day

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Here's what I learned in Property today.

Certain wills have provisions that depend on who dies first. So difficulties arise when people die at the same time, or in the same accident. But fear not, for The Law shall protect us.

To whit: If two people die in the same airplane crash and the provisions of a will depend on which one of them died first, the court will look at statistics related to death rates based on airplane seats to determine who was more likely to die first. So if A is sitting in the aisle seat and B is setting next to him in the window seat, and the plane crashes and burns, the court will rule as a matter of law that B died first.

Supposably the back of the plane is also safer than the front.



The Honorable
Joseph Lieberman
706 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Lieberman:

Congratulations on your recent bid for the U.S. Presidential nomination. I have long been a supporter of your efforts to combat the gratuitous violence and unchecked sexuality of Hollywood. The recent case in which two California boys murdered their mother after being inspired by an episode of The Sopranos indicates that your tireless efforts are needed now more than ever.

While you have been effective in your anti-violence campaign, I feel there is one area which demands more attention. It may be shocking, but there is one place where our children are exposed to sex and violence every day that often goes unnoticed: their schools!

By way of example, I'd like to describe a few questionable selections from the reading lists of my 13-year-old and 15-year-old's English classes. Earlier this year my daughter described to me a so-called "classic" in which every single main character is ultimately murdered or dies by suicide. What kind of message does that send to our children? My son read another story by the same author which is simply brimming with bloodshed and, worse yet, withcraft!!! At one point the so-called hero muses idly about wading through a river of blood! How are my children supposed to become responsible, well-rounded adults when their schools make them read filth like Hamlet and Macbeth?

But that's not the worst of it. In another story read by my daughter's class, a man murders his own father, has sex with and IMPREGNANTES his own mother, and ends up stabbing out his own eyes! Is this what passes for literature these days? I fully support the notion of a diverse reading list, but I'm sure there are more wholesome representatives of Greek literature than this garbage.

And the violence doesn't end with books. My son's history teacher showed her class a movie which featured every kind of violent content: heads exploding, limbs being hacked off, bullets flying every which way... The final scene features nothing more than a huge pile of rotting corpses! Glory? More like Gory!

I hope you see the need to address this problem, Senator. Our children are under attack every day in classrooms across the country by pornographic reading lists. I suppose that we, as parents, could, theoretically, sit down with our children and explain to them the difference between real life and entertainment, and actually take an active and personal interest in their lives rather than blaming the media for all of there problems, but why should we? We have better things to do! What's the point of having schools and television if they can't raise our kids for us? What are you people doing with my taxes?

I'm cc-ing a copy of this letter to my children's schools, and plan on informing other parents of this problem. I'm confident that you can eradicate these antisocial books from our classrooms once you become President, and if you promise to address this problem, you've got my vote.

Very truly yours,
Martha Langdon
Riverside, CA

Hopeless Bleak Despair


Dear friends,

The astute reader will notice that, rather than draw a whole new strip this week, I've merely cannibalized a previous strip and ham-fistedly replaced the dialogue with new, self-referential, unfunny dialogue. But I can explain. Baby, please just hear me out.

As previously discussed, I've managed to buy the one faulty laptop that Sony ever made. Fortunately this time the malfunction was purely structural: the hard drive and data remained largely intact while the monitor went through an entire morning of painful, heart-wrenching death throes before expiring in a violent convulsion of flickers and whiteness. And now, Sony is keeping my computer for approximately two weeks, leaving me without porn, without home Internet access, and (most importantly for our purposes), without anything to plug my scanner into.

At first I considered taking a hiatus from I Fought the Law while the Piece of Fucking Shit was being healed. After all, I've got a memo to write (on library computers), and OCIP is looming, so why not take this opportunity to focus on other things. But then I thought of you folks, the nearly half-dozen readers who depend on me for arrogant, inaccessible, self-indulgent humor week after week, and I decided that I would make do with what I had, providing marginally funny dialogue even if the fruits of my sketchpad are barred from the digital world for a time.

So there you have it. As the brassy theme from Masterpiece Theater floods your brain for the next two weeks, know that I'll be doing my damndest to come up with an alternate punchline that still sensibly involves Kam wearing a potato sack.



Digital Cable Goes Digital


A new strip has been posted for all to see and muse over. Our inspiration this week comes from the fact that a growing number of people in my class, especially me, are finding that Constitutional Law is as dull as toast while Property (Property, for God's sake) is closer to to the "girls making out" end of the boredom spectrum. Our eyes glaze over like honey hams at the mere mention of Brown v. Board, but you get us going on the finer points of gifts inter vivos and we'll start missing meals.*

(Anonymous grading aside, I'd just like to say that it's more a function of the material than the professors. I can't read more than three pages of my Con Law book without taking a nap, whereas the pages of the Property text fly by like I'm reading Chuck Palahniuk. Hooray, professors. I love you all.)

I have my own theories as to why our opinions have fallen where they have, but whenever I try to explain any of them I always end up saying, "Law students are arrogant and insensitive. And so's my dick." Accordingly I'll open it up to public opinion via the handy dandy comments feature below.

In other news, I went to dinner with the girlfriend, John, Julie, and John's mother the other night (a little family-owned** Italian place in Sunset Beach -- great food, reasonable prices, lonely bartenders, quite an experience) and we decided that heterosexual women can be lumped into two groups: those who think Legolas is hot and those who think Aragorn is hot. (If X-Men is more your thing, you can use Cyclops and Wolverine.) The girlfriend is an Aragorn/Wolverine girl, which means that I need to stop being such a sissymary. I'll work on that.

Finally, Mimi the cat has a cold. If anyone knows any cold remedies for cats please send them along. I'm tired of having her sneeze on me.

*You see, because we'll be so busy talking about Property that we'll forget to eat.

**The original draft lacked a hyphen between "family" and "owned," resulting in the sense that the restaurant was owned by a little family, or a family of little people. It's like those old grade school aptitude tests where you had to eliminate sentences like "Joan watched a parade on her front lawn."



As an advance warning, this is likely to be the most law-geeky entry to date, so be prepared.

In Contracts today we went over Strong v. Sheffield, a NY Court of Appeals case in which Judge Andrews, writing for the majority, held that a contract in which there was and implied but not explicit promise on one side was without consideration and therefore unenforceable.

Next up was Wood v. Lucy, a case decided by the same court 22 years later, in which the venerable Judge Cardozo, writing for the majority, held that an implied promise was sufficient consideration, thereby rendering the contract in question A-OK.

I volunteered to explain why Cardozo upheld the Contract, and took the liberty of pointing out that Judge Andrews would disagree with the holding. The professor confirmed my Andrews comment two or three times and then had everybody look at the end of the Lucy opinion where, sure enough, Judge Andrews had concurred with Cardozo. He then turned on the overhead projector to reveal a transparency as high as an elephant's eye which read, "MATT IS WRONG. EVERYBODY LAUGH AT MATT."

That last part may have only happened in my mind. But there was definitely laughter.

I eagerly re-raised my hand to try and salvage my good name, ready to offer the explanation below, but I decided to quit while I was behind after I caught sight of Steve gravely shaking his head at me from across the classroom.

We can draw from this a number of conclusions:
(1) I'm going to keep quiet in Contracts for a few days.
(2) The legal, social, and economic landscape in 1917 was different from the landscape in 1895, and given the rise of industry and the desire of the judicial system to promote business and economic growth (especially in New York), there's nothing incongruous about a judge changing his mind and signing onto an opinion which will encourage and sanction contractual relationships among businesspeople, and if you're going to make a broad prediction about a given judge's likely opinion you should take that into account, or at least look to see if he actually did what you think he would have done.
(3) As soon as we invent time travel I'm going to go straight to 1917 and punch Judge Andrews directly in the head.
(4) I still can't draw very well.

UPDATE: There were two Judge Andrewses! I was right!

I Banged a Supreme Court Justice


The title does all the saying that needs to be said about this week's strip. So here are a few things from the weekend.

I nearly lost control of myself laughing when I overheard this side of a cell phone conversation on the bus back from 3rd Street t'other day:

"Oh, I think Peter's going to be in there fore a looooong time. You know, he takes off all his clothes while he's in there. ... In the turlet. ... In the TUR-let. He takes off all his clothes. ... Yeah, shoes, socks, everything. ... Well, you can ask him when he comes out, after he gets dressed."

Also, the girlfriend and I were attacked by a pug a little while ago, and I've been meaning to spread the word. She carefully swung her purse at it to no avail, and I managed to keep it at bay by loudly clapping my hands. This same technique worked against a neighborhood racoon last month who was trying to defile my laundry. I highly recommend clapping at animals to get them to go away, since at the very worst they'll start dancing instead of attacking you.

Those who know me might also know that one of my recurrent nightmares is being attacked by large animals, usually large dogs, so the whole pug assault was very surreal. I'll try the clapping in my dreams and let you know how it turns out.

Which Types for the Plugs

Here's the most bizarre message yet to grace the inbox of the sadly neglected I Fought the Law e-mail account.

Dear Madam or Sir,

It's an honor to know your company through the web.

We are a large exporter of which specialize in exporting all kinds of
power cords, plugs, cordsets, extension cords, sockets, and so on.
Now we are planning to incorporate our business activities in your
market, and we will be much obliged for your introduction to a most
reliable importer handling this field.
We've exported a large quantity of power cords to many countries, and
enjoying a high reputation through excellent quality and price. We
believe you have a great demand of power cords, please don't hesitate to
contact us if you are interested in.

Please advise us the following:
1) Specification: VDE approved cables H05VV-F, H03VV-F, H03VVH2-F,
H05RN-F, H07RN-F series, etc. with various Europe plugs, UL approved cables
SJT, SJTW, SPT-1,2, SVT, ST series, etc. with various USA plugs and
other countries cables and plugs;
2) What's the length, Color, end requirements for the cables?
3) Which types for the plugs?
4) Quantity per order?

Please send us the drawings or some samples for these cables and plugs
so that we can quote you the best prices immediately.

Please transfer this letter to the buyer of your company. Your kind
attention to this matter will be much appreciated.

With thanks and best regards,

Shanghai Foundoor Electrical Co., Ltd.

Steven Xu
Export Manager

Silenced Fury


While drawing this week's strip in the lounge this afternoon I overheard the exact same conversation numerous times: "How was your break?" "Too short." This made me feel like a hack, since that's basically the gist of my offering this week.

But there's also murder, or at the very least first degree manslaughter, so there's that going on as well. Of course, the humor of impulse killing has been explored at length in other, more readable online comic strips, so I'm still a giant hack.

Finally, let me just say that in no way is the T-shirt included in this week's strip meant to imply that Boalt students roam the country casting spells on strippers, nor does it indicate any desire to actually kill any Boalt student or anyone otherwise affiliated with Boalt. Boalt is just a well-known and convenient alternative law school with a sensibly-sized break, and I didn't feel like giving USC any undue publicity. I like Boalt. Hooray Boalt.

Post-finally, I've arrived at a title for my autobiography, which will be written at a time not now. It will be called Boring Stories About Myself, and will include an appendix of fictional lesbian erotica inspired by women I've dated.

If law and charlatanism don't work out, I think I may have a future in advertising. Here are some slogans I came up with during my travels in the Bay Area over the holidays.

The Metreon Food Court: Our staff may be surly, but at least the food is overpriced.

The MOMA: We put the "art" in "fart."

It's a bleak, dismal future, but a future all the same.

Every Book Chuck Palahniuk Has Ever Written


Section 1

I hate my job. I hate this commercialist, culturally bankrupt, detached, lonely, isolated society we live in. Everybody in the world is wrong except me. But I hate myself anyway.

Section 2

By the way, I have this remarkable quality that sets me apart from everyone else. That's part of the reason I hate everything. So I'm superior, but in an inferior way. God, I hate myself.

Section 3

I just met this person or persons who have the same or similar remarkable quality that I do, and also hate everything, but at the same time they seem to be really enjoying life and have everything figured out. I guess I'll hang around with him, her, or them for a while.

Section 4

Road trip!

Section 5

God, I hate this person or persons that I'm on this road trip with. But at the same time, I love him, her or them. I think they represent what I hate about myself, or maybe what I'm aspiring to be. Can they both be the same thing? Probably. Nothing makes sense anymore in this backward near-future society we live in. There are no morals, and no values. Love and hate are the same. Look how deep I am.

Section 6

Wow! I just found out who he, she, or they really is (or are), and what a surprise!

Section 7

Well, I guess that didn't work out so I'll go do something else. Maybe I'll kill myself. Does it really matter?

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2003 listed from newest to oldest.

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