That's "Recta," Bob


This just in: My Federal Courts textbook is very large, and rectum jokes are funny.

But back to the textbook. Any lingering doubts about the overwhelming lawgeek factor of my Federal Courts course were thoroughly dashed on Monday, when the Honorable Professor/Judge William Fletcher spent an entire class period talking about how great the textbook is. When I bought this thing for 95 damn dollars last week I was immediately dismayed, partly by its sheer girth but also by its publisher. The cover bears the telltale blue-and-red markings of the dreaded Foundation Press, purveyors of shitty law school textbooks from coast to coast.

FP's chief competitor is Aspen Publishers, a company who, unlike their blue-jacketed rivals, actually know how to put together a sensible and coherent textbook. Foundation subscribes to a more pure Langdellian method of legal instruction. They throw cases at you and follow the opinions with disjointed and unhelpful notes that inevitably deteriorate into strings of unanswered rhetorical questions. Aspen, on the other hand, presents the various topics as well-formulated narratives, inserting cases where appropriate (but generally part of the narratives themselves). Given the apparently laudable history of the Hart & Wechseler book it's a damn shame that it was picked up by Foundation and shoehorned into its current unreadable form.

In case you think I'm imagining things, I've found that I've quite consistently done better in courses using Aspen books than in courses using Foundation crap, meaning this semester I'll probably do better in Estates & Trusts than in Federal Courts.

Speaking of Estates & Trusts, here's a great story that I heard in lecture a few hours ago. Apparently a couple in Holland went to get themselves artificially inseminated. The process was successful and the woman had twins. Much to everyone's surprise, one of the twins was Black. It turns out that the lab technician at the clinic didn't wash the petri dish before combining the egg and sperms, and a leftover sperm from an African Ambassador had made its way into one of the ova. Fortunately no one involved got too upset and everyone lived happily ever after. But still.

My deepest apologies to anyone who read through all that.


In a rare non contentious post for me...
Hart and Wechseler is a fine book, although you're absolutely right about its girth. More than 100 pages of roman numerals before the normal pagination begins is often a bad sign. Flip through the book and you'll see two of the great case names of all time. Ex parte Republic of Peru and Bivens v. Six unknown named agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. I love Fed Courts.

trying to imagine a class i actually read the textbook for. ah, undergrad education.

I really have to agree with you on the Foundation Press v. Aspen Publishing issue. FP does suck and Aspen always has much more coherent, readable and *helpful* discussion and notes. I actually laughed out loud in class when I read the "inevitably deteriorate into strings of unanswered rhetorical questions" part. I also like that the Aspen books have smaller pages (makes for a lighter load), however, I do like that FP uses larger print so I have less crap to read in the same number of pages. Just as a matter of opinion, I like the first big textbook joke more than the other two... the books piled on w/ string are incredibly funny.

I don't know. I think that the Crim Law book that Prof. Diamond (Hastings, but teaches at Boalt too) worked on may have been blue. It was easily one of the best law books I had. The notes actually included numbered lists of the elements of a crime. So author probably has as much to do with it as anything else, although I suppose that its possible that West's editors just sleep on the job, and let any crap fly past.

I actually have Diamond this semester and he does seem to be a fan of his own books, judging by the brief comment he mad about the FP book we're using this semester (not one of his). According to this list of publications, Diamond's crim law book was published by Lexis and his oh-so-famous torts book was published by West Publishing. Perhaps the reason people like him as a teacher so much is that he never publishes under FP (and he's very engaging and excited about teaching). I'd ask him about that, but I get the feeling he wouldn't express an opinion... especially since the first thing we're covering this semester is defamation and the man is *all about* torts.

Just wait till you're doing legal research, and you come across some case where the Cal. Supreme Court gushes for half a page about some article Diamond wrote about emotional distress or something - it's kind of trippy. :)

I've had similar experiences already, just not with Diamond. Prof's usually like to include in their books cases where the judge will make a reference to one of their articles or their textbook, but what I really like is when they refer to their own articles in their own book's notes and comments. I can't wait until I get to the point in my career when I can just quote myself and actually be right.

You should see my International Human Rights book. 1500 pages, about 20 pounds. It almost gave me (another) hernia. It is a true atrocity.

Wait a second, you actually READ those things? Damn. And here I thought they were just there to make Law Students stronger.

Nothing, nothing compares to the horribleness that is LexisNexis textbooks. They are wretched, sloppily tossed-together, poorly organized, senseless peieces of flying monkey dung. But then again, I'm biased.

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This page contains a single entry by hb published on August 24, 2004 11:59 PM.

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