September 4, 2002 - 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.


September 2, 2002 - 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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August 26, 2002
August 19, 2002

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