February 2009 Archives

Newspapers Are Stupid


The big story here in Denver is that the Rocky Mountain News, one of the city's two major newspapers, published its very last edition today, ending a 150-year run. RMN's coverage of its own demise is here. The main page of the website is running a "best of" slideshow, in which the pictures of the kids with their hands over their faces after the Columbine shooting features prominently.

Meanwhile, back in my old stomping ground, the San Francisco Chronicle is on the brink.

It's certainly terrible when a company goes out of business and a bunch of people find themselves out of work (as happened with my old law firm shortly after I left), but I can't bring myself to join the throngs of hand-wringers and teeth-gnashers bemoaning the slow and painful death of the newspaper industry. As a commenter on another blog said, the idea of using dead trees to deliver news just isn't a viable business model anymore.

The main problems I see with the breakdown of the newspaper business are: (1) increased influence of vapid 24-hour cable news and overtly slanted Internet reporting and (2) decreased access to local news. The latter problem is exacerbated by the dominance of syndicated radio programming and decreased interest in evening television news (which is also tied to the increased popularity of cable news and the Internet). Years ago I would have said that the loss of daily newspaper comics is also a problem, but I haven't been able to read newspaper comics in a very long time.

Ironically, I think local news may be what newspapers should focus on to stay alive. If I want to read about Obama's budget plan or what's going on with the Irish economy, I'm not going to read the Rocky Mountain News or the Denver Post. But there's no better place to get detailed local news coverage - even at the state level - than your local fishwrap, even if you have to pick through dopey stories about high school football and leap year babies to get to the good stuff.

So, best wishes to all the newspaper employees looking for work, and if you'd like to continue to ply your trade in the journalism biz I suggest switching from cellulose to ones and zeroes.

Well, so much for that. My fate as a licensed Colorado attorney is now in the hands of the Colorado Board of Bar Examiners, blessings and peace be upon them.

Not surprisingly, a two-day bar exam is a lot more palatable than a three-day bar exam, but it would have been nice to have been able to leave after I finished the goddamn afternoon session of the MBE instead of sitting around for forty-five minutes drawing inappropriate cartoons in the test booklet.

For those of you keeping score at home, here were the nine essay topics that showed up on the Tuesday session, and brief commentaries on each:

1. Torts, shockingly.
2. Partnerships, but not domestic partnerships, because Colorado still isn't down with the gay, though I don't think we're this bad anymore.
3. Real Property, a really dumb and esoteric question about a tenant's rights to wet his beak on a condemnation award.
4. Federal Civil Procedure, with extra-pointless coverage of the Seventh Amendment.
5. Criminal Procedure, with unexpected coverage of police lineups.
6. Family Law, with some hot polygamy action.
7. Constitutional Law, covering free speech rights, which I'm surprisingly bad at in the bar exam context.
8. Secured Transactions, which I never understood and no longer have to, and in which I managed to conclude that it was November four months ago.
9. Contracts, starring a fictional Italian character with a borderline derogatory name.

I came home to find that Dr. M, in her infinite awesomeness, had baked pumpkin bread, purchased balloons, and taken this picture:


Dr. M also learned today that the boy is afraid of the sound of balloons being inflated at the party store. Go figure.

Deathmatch Do-Over


Tomorrow I take the Colorado Bar Exam, a requirement for licensure in the state of Colorado that I really wish constituted a an undue burden on interstate commerce drive solely by protectionist interests. Studying for the test has been much less of a production than those eight terrible weeks in the summer of 2005, mainly because most of the lectures are exactly the same (that's right, nine more hours of Epstein's excruciating Texas drawl and another dose of Chemerinsky's puns and Jerry Mathers-style elocution), so this has been mainly a refresher jive. I have, however, had to learn the law of checks, otherwise known as Commercial Paper, I've been encouraged to learn the hundreds of thousands of needling little factors that Colorado courts consider when setting child support and alimony (excuse me, "maintenance") payments, and my every effort to learn the pointlessly complex and counterintuintive contours of Secured Transactions have proven to be utterly futile. Here's hoping for a Multistate Subject-heavy essay test and a generous curve.

When I took the California exam I had this image in my head:

This time around I'm hoping it will be this:

(The kitten represents me, and the finger represents the various bar exam questions, you see.)

But it'll probably be this:

See you on the other side, chumps.

Cat vs. Baby

The tension between Ruby and the baby finally came to a head (hurr) last night as Ruby tried to drag the baby back to her lair. She didn't get very far.

Chapter One


[This is the opening of a story that I've been trying to write for about eight years. I've been working on this particular excerpt on and off for several weeks. Not sure why this is taking so long, apart from perhaps a lack of faith on my part as to whether this story s worthwhile. None of the characters is based on you, whoever you are.]

Lurking near the men’s room door at Kip’s, Berkeley’s notoriously dingy southside bar, Carson paused to consider whether going up to Marie and telling her that her beauty was “Lovecraftian” would lead to anything resembling a favorable outcome for himself. The fact that he seriously considered it suggested that was on his way to having had too much to drink. The fact that he managed to talk himself out of it assured him that he wasn’t there yet, and he headed toward the bar for another beer.

Drinking responsibly, he often said, was a matter of marking the point at which you stopped talking yourself into things and started talking yourself out of things, and keeping track of your fading ability to do the latter.

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This page is an archive of entries from February 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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