February 2006 Archives

I think Kenny nailed it pretty well. There was a certain purity to Knotts' comedic style that rendered his characters hilarious regardless of script, setting, or premise. The fact that The Andy Griffith Show and Three's Company were such drastically different sitcoms illustrates this point. Knotts fit seamlessly into both worlds.

Don Knotts fun fact: Originally, the Barney Fife character was envisioned as a straight man, with Andy Taylor being the main comedic force (Andy Griffith had a substantial career in comedy before The Andy Griffith Show, as anyone who has had the good fortune to listen to What It Is, Is Andy Griffith can attest to). You can see this in the show's pilot episode.

In other news, I'm going to be working seven days a week for the foreseeable future, so I won't be blogging very much. And God knows when I'll pick up my drawin' pen again.

Fun with Einstein

At least the old man got something right.

Try it yourself!

Link via Law Geek.



Why is it the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service? Why are fish explicitly delineated as separate and apart from wildlife in general? Does the FWS' jurisdiction extend to domesticated fish?

Other bloggers have already hit this, and now I'm joining the party.

During my year in exile at UCLA I always hoped that the Boalt admissions office would somehow attain some level of national embarrassment. Well, now they have, two years after my grudging forgiveness.

Nice one, Major Tom.

In other news, eventually I plan to post my thoughts about the increasingly absurd Morales case, why it shows that the death penalty is stupid, and my elation at the fact that Judge Fogel and the California Medical Association have essentially imposed a de facto moratorium on capital punishment in California, but that'll have to wait until I have less fewer docs to review. Damn this big firm lifestyle.

Lost Rhapsody


Hey there! Do you like the acclaimed ABC Sci-Fi drama Lost? Do you like the acclaimed 70s band Queen, which enjoyed a brief renaissance following the 1992 release of the acclaimed screwball comedy Wayne's World? Do you like the acclaimed song parodist "Weird Al" Yankovic? Do you like hokey Flash(TM) knock-offs of Terry Gilliam's acclaimed animation style?

Really? Then check this out (links to sound).

Here are my reactions to this wonderful, terrible thing:

1. "Bohemian Rhapsody" lends itself surprisingly well to the polka format.

2. This thing benefits from drawing almost all of its imagery from the first season of Lost, before the sucking set in.

3. For reasons which should be immediately apparent, I will henceforth refer to the Island's security system as "Grimlock."

I Don't Get It


Someone want to explain this to me? Is it just that the guy is reading comics the day before the world is going to end? Or does the idea of the world exploding remind him of the comics and so he reads the comics? If it's either of those things, why is that funny?

There's just so much to love in this story. Especially the thing about specially training the interns to spot the envelope.

My First Amendment professor poo-pooed the idea that publishing pr0n could be political commentary, even if the subject matter of the pr0n wasn't actually political. Wrong again, Choper!

I downloaded my very first podcast yesterday, a one-hour lecture by Justice Stephen Breyer recorded at the University of Chicago Law School. The first thirty minutes or so are a detailed account of how business is conducted at the Supreme Court, including the process for granting cert and deciding cases. It's quite fascinating if you're like me and are irrationally obsessed with that kind of thing. Breyer is also a pretty funny guy, and self-effacing in spite of his reputation for arrogance.

In other Supreme Court news, Justice Alito has made the bizarre move of hiring a 37-year-old former aide to John Ashcroft as one of his law clerks. So for those of you who worried about Alito's stance on executive power, keep worrying.

This week's Law Geek Wednesday features a special guest appearance by my younger sister, who can be seen in this photo (see if you can pick her out) along with some fellow Redlands High School seniors setting forth some biting commentary on land use issues in Southern California's Inland Empire:


The story behind this photo proceeds thusly: For many years, the stupid city of Redlands, California, had but one high school. When I graduated RHS in 1997, I was one of a class of over 1,000 people. The total enrollment was over 4,000. It was, put elegantly, ten pounds of crap in a five pound bag. In fact, during my junior year there was a "race riot" during lunch one day, something that the hand-wringers in the local government attributed partially to overcrowding in the school. Just like prison!

And so, in the mid-1990s plans were finalized for a second high school in Redlands. The only problem was land. Redlands is one of the few reasonably affluent cities in the San Bernardino area (I say "reasonably" because the po' side of Redlands is pretty damn po' by any standard), and as such land in Redlands is relatively expensive. Large development projects are pricey, and open land is scarce. During the two years I lived there, a giant multiplex and a garish amusement park called Pharoah's Lost Kingdom sprung up within the city limits. A third major commercial development - a large shopping mall to replace Redlands' current, tiny shopping mall where half the stores are jewelry stores - was also underway until the woman in charge of it was convicted of burglary (but that's another story).

And so, rather than pony up the money to build a public school on existing Redlands land, the city somehow managed to steal a large tract of cheap, unincorporated county land from the neighboring region of Mentone (I say "region" because Mentone is not a city - it is, as I said, unincorporated county land). The tract itself, through machinations about which I can only speculate, became a part of the city of Redlands, rather than remaining part of Mentone. On this land was built Redlands East Valley High School, which was opened in 1997.

Mentone, despite having a booming crystal meth industry, has a rather weak local economy, and would have benefitted (in theory) from having a large public high school within its limits. But Redlands does what Redlands wants, and this is how things ended up. As RHS and REV (pronounced "rev") became instant cross-town rivals as soon as REV opened, my sister and her friends mean by this sign to say that there is only one Redlands High School. And to this I say, "Oh Snap!"

I'm sure I'd be able to say more about the legal issues involved in this fiasco if I had taken that Local Government class at Boalt that I had thought about taking, but I didn't, and I can't, so I won't. If anyone else has more knowledge of these things feel free to showcase my ignorance in the comments.

My sister (until the instantaneous sliver of time between February 28 and March 1) is only seventeen, which you should keep in mind if you plan on making any other types of comments.

Harry Whittington Fun Fact

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78-year-old Texas attorney Harry Whittington is the first person to be shot by a sitting U.S. Vice President since Alexander Hamilton.

Valentine's Day


In honor of St. Crispin's Day Meli made her wonderful Matt's Special Valentine's cookies, which everyone at work kept thinking were two cookies. This is how some of them (a small portion of the total yield) looked this evening:

Last night, after we had wrapped them up, I noticed that one of the cookies had found its way off the plate and onto the floor, no doubt the victim of feline curiosity. The cat theory was further bolstered by the fact that one of the crumbs was damp (and smelled like cat food). Then, this evening, we noticed this:

What didn't make it into the picture is the plastic wrap that had been covering the cookies, which had a number of corresponding fang marks. Since our cats have never shown any interest in people food, I can only assume that their act of vandalism was their way of protesting Valentine's Day because they don't have any genitals.

In closing, here's a bonus picture of what Meli wakes up to every now and then:

How the hell do I get Firefox to stop converting smart quotes and em-dashes into question marks?

Out with a Bang


As a card-carrying member of the State Bar of California I get a free subscription to California Bar Journal, a monthly newspaper covering topics of interest to California lawyers. A large portion of the journal's pages are devoted to reports of that month's disciplinary actions, and as far as I can tell those are the only things that anyone ever reads.

Most disbarments and suspensions are for ass-faced blunders involving the commingling of client funds (the Bar really reeeeeeally hates that) or other gross incompetence, but every now and then something pops up that's worth telling your friends about via some sort of on-line web-blog. So here it is.

A senior associate (and Boalt alum, as it turns out) at "a high-powered Silicon Valley law firm" (the article names the firm, which I won't do here) was summarily disbarred after pleading no contest to three felonies, including, you guessed it, unlawful sex with a minor.

Details, you ask? Well, it turns out that our colleague met a sixteen-year-old girl in an online chatroom and had sex with her "six or seven times at her home and at a Palo Alto hotel." Apparently the guy also paid the girl $140 to $200 each time.

What could drive an upstanding member of the Bar to such perversion? Well...

"He told authorities that he started visiting chat rooms as a diversion while working long hours at his law firm." Fair enough, I have a MySpace window open at work all day, but surely the life of a Silicon Valley lawyer, demanding though it is, isn't enough to drive someone into the world of underaged prostitution.

"He suggested that stress associated with his jobs and his wife's pregnancy may have prompted his actions" (emphasis added).

We grow 'em classy down here on the Peninsula.

Tragic Kingdom


The saga of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim has just reached a new milestone, with a jury in Santa Ana finding that the team did nothing wrong when it changed its name from the Anaheim Angels. The Yahoo! news story is here. As far as I can tell, there's nobody involved in this lawsuit who isn't an idiot.

Apologies for not posting anything yesterday. It was a busy day. I had to kill some dudes.

Anyway, the Volokh conspiracy is linking to this story, which reports that law school applications are declining for the first time in eight years, and then proceeds to quote a bunch of idiots who propose reasons why. The fact that the article jumps almost immediately to David E. Kelly, and then spends two paragraphs quoting him, is rather disturbing. But the rest of the article isn't much better.

When I was applying in 2001 there was a lot of hooey about how many other directionless college graduates were seeking shelter from the jobless economy in the sweet bosom of law schools. The several schools that gently turned me down made a point of telling me that a jillion other people had also applied to make me feel better about not getting in (which inspired "Episode 2" in this transparent plea for sympathy), and the acceptance letters contained similar comments to make me feel like hot shit. Neither approach did much for me either way.

But back to the article. As far as I can tell, the theories that the geniuses at the New York Times decided to include in their article to explain the decline in law school applications are: (1) Lawyers discouraging people from going to law school, (2) television, (3) student loans (hell, this was the reason I went to law school -- I wasn't going to get rid of my undergrad loans teaching high school Physics, that's for damn sure), (4) more people are going to medical school (something that nobody could have predicted, since medical school, just like law school, has no undergraduate prerequisites), and (5) polar bears.

I'll leave you with this quote from David E. Kelly, the latter portion of which was omitted from the article:

"I personally still have a very glamorous view of the law. But maybe that's because I'm out of it, and I get to write about what I would like the practice of law to be. I'm not a lawyer. I haven't been to law school in decades. I know nothing about what you're asking me. Why are you talking to me again?"

When Dr. M and I did laundry like a week ago we found a baby sock in the load that we brought back from the dryer. Rather than bring it back into the laundry room (which is about ten feet from our door), we left it on the floor for a week, always intending to bring it back, but never doing so, even when we did laundry again. Instead we devised various inappropriate things to do with it before ultimately returning it. Then, Dr. M had the ingenious idea to try to put it on our cats.

Pepe was the natural choice for this fiasco, since he already has no dignity whatsoever. But he's also resistant to any attempts to put clothes on him, as we realized when we tried to make him wear the Irish boxer shorts that came with my Build-a-Bear(TM) St. Patrick's Day cat. So the sock didn't work with Pepe.

But we got Ruby to wear it.

Dr. M wants me to tell you that Ruby was purring when each of these pictures was taken. I'd like to tell you that sometimes cats purr in times of great fear or distress.

After we got the sock off Ruby we tried it on Pepe again, and again failed. Then Dr. M decided to see if she could fit her whole fist in the sock, and she can! I'm not sure if we can even return it now, without inflicting even more abuse to make it clear to its owner that it's been through things that have rendered it, shall we say, unclean.

Let it never be said that living on the Peninsula is boring.



A new strip is up, and it features an extra special guest appearance. And Jessica Alba! The role of Jessica Alba is played by Maggie Grace.

Mad props to the first person to spot the two glaring plot holes in this comic strip. This excludes inconsistencies based on my poor drawing skills, such as the missing right side of Claudio's hair and Jessica's mercurial figure.

55 Fiction Friday: Line Item Veto Edition

The key to being an effective president, George always thought, was to have your fingers in as many pies as possible. The Executive Branch had been his plaything for five years, and he had just taken over the Supreme Court. And this new Court would soon be handing over the Legislative Branch, line by line.

[Why is this fiction? Let's just say that when Thomas and Ginsburg are on the same side of a 6-3 decision, that decision probably isn't going anywhere. This post has been brought to you by this wonderful post from Sean's blog.]

Law Geek Wednesday: Setting the Stage

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The Second, Eighth, and Ninth Circuits have all issued recent rulings striking down the federal partial birth abortion ban, a statute that was passed by Congress three years after the Supreme Court struck down a more or less identical state law in 2000 in the 5-4 decision of Stenberg v. Carhart. The Ninth Circuit's opinion explicitly surmised that Congress intentionally passed the statute in a form that wouldn't survive the Supreme Court's Stenberg holding in an effort to challenge that ruling. This could be the first in a long series of cases directed at reversing recent (and maybe not so recent) 5-4 decisions now that John and Sam are running things.

The 5-4 decision that pops most immediately to mind is last year's Kelo decision, the big fat stinker of a case in which the Court decided that the government can give your house to Home Depot if doing so would generate higher tax revenues. Given the discontent with this case on both sides of the political spectrum I think we can expect Kelo to show up on the chopping block sooner rather than later, to the extent that the Court brings out the chopping block at all (see below).

Another case that people should be worried about is Grutter v. Bolinger, a 5-4 decision upholding a watered-down version of Affirmative Action in public universities. McConnell v. FEC is another one to keep an eye on - the case dealt with campaign finance reform and the First Amendment, an issue that we've been hearing surprisingly little about given the lobbying scandals going down. School prayer and Ten Commandments displays have also been the subject of 5-4 decisions, and the Ten Commandments issue in particular is a good candidate for reconsideration given the way in which the Court fumbled the issue last summer.

An issue that's close to my heart due to a combination of Fed Courts geekdom and Irish anti-royalism is the Eleventh Amendment, which has been muddled by a series of hare-brained 5-4 decisions over the past several years. The Eleventh Amendment has a long and tortured history, and as currently interpreted bars a great deal more suits against state governments that it should. In 1999 the Court handed down the Alden v. Maine decision (written lamentably by one of the five individuals pictured above), holding that the structure (as opposed to the text) of the constitution provides for broad state sovereign immunity, in both state and federal court (the text of the Eleventh Amendment only mentions federal judicial authority). This effectively dislodged sovereign immunity from the Eleventh Amendment and turned it into something along the lines of pee in a pool. I have no idea where Roberts and Alito stand on this issue, though Rehnquist was on Kennedy's side. Let's hope Souter brings them around. Maybe he can sway them with some of his home-made yogurt.

I'm not sure how active the Court will be in revisiting its narrow majorities now that there may be a new narrow majority. If the Court goes buck-wild and reverses a bunch of its own precedents in its first post-Rehnquist/post-O'Connor year, that will demonstrate a profound lack of self-respect for the Court as an independent institution. Let's hope that what we see over the next year or so is a lot of denials of cert and some gritty stare decisis decisions.

UPDATE: This is encouraging, though no reason to break out the party hats just yet.

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This page is an archive of entries from February 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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