September 2002 Archives

Lacking Substance

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As if I wasn't hating law school enough already.

I realize that it's a little early in the game to be falling back on the old poorly drawn strip bit, which I consider to be closely akin to the inevitable column about writing a column that pollutes so many high school and (sadly) college newspapers, but after the weekend I've had I think you'll want to cut me some cake.

Or actually, probably you won't. After you realize what's going on here your very fists will clench with rage, you'll turn away in disgust, and I'll lose my entire little readership in a single crushing blow of "The boss is coming over for dinner" obviosity. But I'm willing to take that chance. Here it goes.

So you know how you always hear those stories about the guy who didn't back up his files, and his computer crashed and erased everything he ever worked, hoped, and strove for? And you always think, "Oh, that guy doesn't exist. He's just a mythological construct invented by well-meaning computer consultants to encourage people to back up their files." Well, you're wrong.

We have here all the elements of a bad Joe Pesci movie. The bright, disorganized student, the big paper due the next day, the profoundly unhelpful tech support people, the computer that was purchased just past thirty days ago, meaning that a simple receipt-refund transaction is impossible, and, of course, the bruises along the sides of my hands from pounding various things and fixtures over and over again. Also, this weekend was anomalous in that I was invited to three (3) social gatherings at three (3!!!) different places of residence, the directions to all of which were swallowed whole when my Brand New Sony VAIO(TM) self-destructed on Saturday afternoon.

Fortunately, having dispensed with all of my anger in various localized acts of violence against inanimate objects, I know possess the piece of mind to provide an optimistic appraisal of the situation that would make migh high school self gag with disdain. I'm lucky it happened now, just when outlining is supposed to start, as opposed to, say, November. I'm lucky that I backed things up two weeks ago instead of three, or four, or not at all, and that there are people willing to share notes. I'm lucky that I've been lazy about briefing cases for the past week, so now I won't end up double-briefing as many cases as I would have. All things considered, I've learned a valuable lesson. Well, a number of valuable lessons:

Back shit up every day.

Don't buy a VAIO.

Don't buy anything from CompUSA.

Get a haircut if you need one.

Back shit up every fucking day.

And I'm not going to "sign" these stupid things anymore.

Two more things. I made two attempts at making the "TM" appear in superscript, and I can't do anything else without getting up and finding my HTML for Dummies book. At least I tried. The second thing was too self-indulgent to pass committee, and editing this sentence has been deemed beyond the bounds of efficiency. Editing this paragraph, that is.

Joke Day!

Arthur came home from his first day of school and said, "Mom, I hate school! I'm never going back! All the kids make fun of me and I don't have any friends!" Arthur's mother replied, "But, honey, you have to go back." To which Arthur pleaded, "Why?" Arthur's mother answered, "Because you're the principal!"

Matt came home from his fifth week of law school and said, "Mom, I hate school! I'm never going back! Everyone just talks about baseball and the Sopranos all the time and nobody laughs at my jokes! I made all my friends in college through the Squelch! My powers are useless here! My laptop is too heavy and the pages of my Criminal Law textbook keep drying out my highlighters! I'm always wrong when I get called on in Civil Procedure! The free pizza is always gone by the time I get there, and there's never anything in my mailbox except junk!" To which Matt's neighbor replied, "I'm not your mother, I'm your next door neighbor. Now quit your bitching and leave my cat alone."

Boy Howdy

As with my motivations for enrolling in law school, this week's strip has numerous possible explanations. I'll start with the easiest, which also happens to be the real one: I really like it when people talk like hillbillies, I wanted to draw Ellen in a skimpy farmer's daughter outfit, and I thought Kam would look funny in a straw hat. Check, check, double-check, if I do say so myself.

A logical starting point for a discussion of the strip's deeper meaning is a conversation I had with a drunk stripper last night. Her name was Jasmine. During some obligatory "chat the customers up so they'll give you money" small talk, wherein I told her I had recently moved to L.A., she said, "Why would you want to live down there? Everyone's so superficial there." Meanwhile I'm thinking, "You know you're a stripper, right?" Not that strippers are necessarily superficial themselves, but when your bread and butter come from people giving you $20 bills to rub your breasts in their faces for three minutes at a time, it might not be your place to criticize the hand that feeds you.

In keeping with the spirit of "What happens at the bachelor party stays at the bachelor party," I'll resist any further detailed explanations of the weekend's goings-on. I will, however, sum up the evening in a cryptic bit of refridgerator poetry:

Drunk ex-girlfriend lapdance revenge power fantasy.

If you require any further explanation you're shit the fuck out of luck.

But anyway. The point is that when the people I know who still live in the Bay Area learn that I've uprooted and moved my ass down to the Other City, they typically respond with some degree of revulsion, as if I've just told them that I've recently switched from Mac to PC, or Krispy Kreme to Winchell's. L.A.'s numerous unflattering stereotypes are not lost on the smug bastards of the greater metropolitan realm of San Francisco, who are convinced that they've found the most perfect place on earth, especially when compared to the sprawling wasteland of sin and decadence that runs things down south. There's certainly something to be said for the finer points of life in San Francisco, but there are two ways I'd like to respond to my friends from the North. Firstly, Hayward has very little on Santa Monica. Secondly, it's a harsh fucking world out there, guys, and leaving the cottony bosom of San Francisco every once in a while will put hair on your balls. They say New York City makes you hard, but if you're really looking to destroy every morsel of faith you ever had in the legitimacy of Western Civilization and, indeed, the future of the human race in general, there's no place like L.A.

In other, non-soul-crushing news, I've been talking to the folks over at The Docket, UCLA Law's student newspaper, about printing I Fought the Law. Things look pretty good, but since they'll want me to fill half of a newspaper page I'll have to find ways to enbiggen the strips. The weekly updates will still be three and four panels each, but about five times over the course of the year (corresponding to issues of The Docket), I'll post a giant comic extravaganza. Don't be alarmed.

The Docket itself, by the way, seems closer to oldskool pre-color Squelch than any incarnation of The Daily Cal. This is good in more ways than it is bad.

Cynicism Grab Bag!

I've come to the conclusion that about 85% of the decisions I make are wrong. That's a rough average, mind you, that doesn't really take into account the comparative weight of each decision, but I'm pretty sure it's illustrative of the general state of affairs in my head. When it comes to major, life-altering decisions, the average is probably a little better, maybe the low 60s, but the medium and small varieties approach the low to mid-90s. All things considered, whether I'm online ordering a birthday present or standing at the supermarket in front of the toothpaste rack, chances are I'll hit a whammy about seventeen times out of twenty. So don't trust me with your kids.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that my entire exposure to economics was a three week "accelerated" course during the summer of 1996, and I never developed a firm understanding of cost-benefit analysis. I don't say "accelerated" to brag, by the way, I'm using it in California Public High School sense of "ten pounds of shit in a five pound bag."

I'm fucking tired of getting letters addressed, "Dear Valued Customer..." I'm thinking of making all my bill checks from now on say, "Pay to the order of Hated Company..." This just figures in to my broader disdain for disingenuous form letters, such as all those delightful condolences I received from all those law schools earlier this year. What I'd really like to see, instead of a rejection letter telling me how bad they feel for me and the tens of thousands of other rejects, is a postcard with the letter "N" stamped on it, addressed to me with my name spelled wrong, and a footprint on it. That, ladies and gentlemen, expresses exactly how law schools feel about their rejects. If you want to know how they feel about their students, imagine the same postcard without the footprint.

While I'm at it, Wordperfect has a serious tea-bagging coming from me. What the hell is wrong with Tools>Word Count? Why is File>Properties>Information considered remotely acceptable? And given the fact that "Word Count" appears right there once you sift through the rubble of the file menu, would it kill them to include it in the Help index? Would it? Please?

That wasn't law school-related, I know. I apologize. I'm being violently raped by law school on a daily basis. There's your law school related comment.

I realize that I used "feel bad" earlier. Poor grammar? I don't think so. If you can smell bad you can feel bad.

It Could Happen to You

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This week's edition of Four Panels and the Truth will hopefully be the most shamelessly autobiographical offering for quite some time. Despite my generally unchecked megalomania I'm dedicated to making this strip about law school, not about me. That being said, however, I can't help but think that the four-part misadventure related herein is not in any way unique, since any law school is bound to be at least in part a refugee camp for the bright and directionless. I mean, you know, if you want to be a doctor, or a professor, or anybody else with a legitimate "D" in their degree, you need to start young. At least by junior year you need to have your act together, declare the right major, take the right classes, tea-bag the right professors, and clear a path toward academic righteousness. Not so for law school. All you need is a Bachelor's degree and four hours to kill and you're on your way to court.

So it was only natural that when Berkeley spat me out with a Physics degree taped to my back I floundered in a drunken haze for a few months before sending $60 checks all over the country in the hopes that somewhere, somehow, a kind-hearted admissions officer would find my life story of ne'er-do-wellity endearing. Next thing you know it's name tags, taquitos, and cheap beer in tiny plastic cups.

As for the Suisun City reference, this should be a lesson to all to register for the LSAT early, god damn it. I had to fill in my bubbles thirty five miles away from the convenient classrooms of UCB, at a test site that they practically had to build to accomodate overflow test-takers. On the plus side, Solano Valley Community College is just a pig scrotum's throw away from the Northern California Jelly Belly factory, which made the following thing happen:

[In the hallway after the LSAT.]
Me: Who will follow me to the Jelly Belly facory?
Some girl: Oh, it's no fun on the weekends. All the machines are off and there's nobody there.
This guy Mike: I'll go.

I still have my paper hat.

I'll Show You Who's the Real Fucking Cholo

Two things. Firstly, Friday's edition of Nothing Nice to Say features a joke about the song whence comes the name of this strip. The NN2S strip is in no way a reference to or acknowledgment of my meager online effort, but I still took it as the Universe telling me to e-mail Mr. Mitch and alert him to my presence. I also thought the strip was funny.

Secondly, the Web page featured in this week's I Fought the Law strip is now available for us in real life, and can be found here. Happy antagonizing.

The Lingering Stench of Failure

As I alluded to last week, SBA elections happened recently. Having learned nothing from my Student Advocate fiasco at the end of my Berkeley career, I ran for section 1/2 Representative on a very Squelch! Party-esque platform. My opponent was someone who not only ran a legitimate campaign but also actually wanted the position. Fortunately for everyone involved, unlike in my previous bid for public office, this time I didn't accidentally win. Congratulations to the new Section 1/2 Representative, whose name I will make it my business not to try and spell or pronounce.

On to this week's strip. Humor of this sort is arguably somewhat premature since at this point in the 1L experience I seem to be the only one in my class ballsy enough to actually surf the Internet during lecture, but the joke should still ring true to any non-1Ls who accidentally read it. I'll post a version of an actual personbehindmesucksass page in the days to come. For now, enjoy the smallness.

I've reached the point where law professors are making cameo appearances in my dreams. Last night one of my professors and I were making animated features using a process that inexplicably involved a mop. There remains little to be said.

Fuck this noise. I'm off to the beach!

It is I who am Your Fire Dog

Throughout my academic career I've always placed what might arguably be called an undue emphasis on quantity when it comes to class and exam preparation. Part of my physics midterm studying-for ritual was always taking my notebook and reading it cover to cover, as if my frantic scribblings were the least bit legible let alone coherent. I don't think the note review did much as far as preparing me directly; it was more of a pre-workout warm-up before I hit the practice problems.

The other key benefit of the notebook review was that I could come away from the study session saying I had studied for X hours, read Y amount of pages... basically that I did f(X,Y) amount of studying. This artificial quantifying inevitably made me feel better about myself and the effort I put into test preparation. This way if I tanked the test I could still say that I prepared as best I could, it was just a hard fucking test. To some extent this practice carried over into LSAT preparation, although my battle plan for that particular brain teaser was a little different (I prepared based on routine rather than quantity: a single practice test every Saturday morning for a month and a half before the Big Show, and nothing else).

And now, after being carried to my first year of law school by whatever I managed to do to convince Physics professors I know Physics and the LSDAS that I know who Jane is sitting next to if Gary is wearing a Purple Hat, I'm once again faced with the problem of quantifying my study habits. If I write out responses to every single fucking problem in each of my textbooks, will I be satisfied in my own head that I've done enough? Will I ever reach that glorious point that came like sweet ambrosia in the study rooms of LeConte Hall, when I slammed my book closed and said, "Okay, Holohan, you've learned all you're going to learn. Now go home and get some sleep."?

The answer, at least for the time being, is a resounding No. The reason for this is that I really have very little idea as to what all this is getting at. Apparently a number of professors advise against outlining before the eighth week of class or so, and I'm beginning to see why. It seems like every one of my classes is going to end up like my first semester of Quantum Mechanics: ten weeks of "What in crap's holy name am I doing with my life?" followed by an abrupt transition to five weeks of "This shit is so cool!"

In the meantime, I'll be sitting here at my kitchen table/desk, stockpiling legal knowledge the only way I knows how.

Da Spanish Bomb

With this week's introduction of Claudio "Da Spanish Bomb" Montoya, our pantheon of legal scholars is complete and next week we'll be able to get down to some honest to goodness plot lines. I like to think this week's strip also addresses the idea in legal study that every solution yields at least one more problem, in this case "What about shoes?"

I'd like to take this opportunity to address the parents of the world. Mainly the fathers. Actually, just the parents of sons. My message is this: The ability to pee without pulling your pants all the way down to your ankles is an extremely important skill, and one that should be taught as early as possible. My girlfriend, who's training to be a therapist, tells me that no two-and-a-half-year-old has the requisite muscle coordination and fine motor skills to be able to pull his pants down just far enough without peeing all over himself. I accept that. What I don't accept is walking into any given public restroom along the I-5 and suddenly having to avert my eyes from a little boy's ass. So fathers, if your boy is having trouble making that great leap to "just below the balls," for God's sake, PUT HIM IN A STALL.

There's actually a law-related issue that I wanted to bring up today. A nominally high-profile death row case crossed the Supreme Court last week in which the Court denied the stay of execution but the dissent called for a "revisit" to the death penalty issue. Without offering my own opinion on the death penalty (the debate has been done to death and there remains little to be said on either side), I'd just like to point out what I believe to be the inherent problem with the way the U.S. Government (and the Supreme Court especially) deals with the issue of capital punishment. In its landmark 1976 Furman decision the Court basically estbalished a burden of proof based on "legislative intent" as opposed to what some might describe as "reality." The Court abolished the death penalty in its 1972 Gregg decision because the reality was that capital punishment was being used unjustly and in a discriminatory manner. In Furman the Court essentially decreed that any challenge to the death penalty per se was doomed to failure unless the statue governing the death penalty could be shown to be discriminatory. This means that short of pointing to a passage in a book of state laws that reads "Only blacks shall be subject to the death penalty," there's really not a lot anyone can do to convince the Court that the death penalty ain't what it's cracked up to be.

Accordingly the anti-death penalty holdouts on the Court have had their say by chipping away at certain aspects of the death penalty. There was last year's prohibition against executing the mentally handicapped, for example. A similar effort failed last week when the Court denied a stay of execution for an inmate who was 17 at the time of his arrest.

So essentially the Court has removed itself from the death penalty debate in any substantive form, and all that Stevens, Ginsburg and Breyer can do these days is wring their hands on the sidelines and beg the public to do what the Court has forbade itself from doing.

There, see? This website isn't all hot chicks and poop jokes after all.

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This page is an archive of entries from September 2002 listed from newest to oldest.

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