Thursday, July 24, 2008

Q2: Judgment Day

(Long but worth the read!) Late in the summer of 2008, only a few short months after our intrepid hero's first adventure, the forces of evil struck again. The upper quarters risked much to send a message through time to assist our hero in his mission. "Look out for your second quarter," they said, "It can really sneak up on you." And so it did.

The first wave came early, about two weeks ahead of the others. The Architect struck in the wee hours of the morning, practically before dawn. Suddenly, the full weight of defamation law bore down on our hero. Long nights of research and complex reasoning tried his endurance and challenged his resolve. But, fighting valiantly, he overcame the Architects machinations and enjoyed a brief respite before the real battle began.

Or so he thought. The Reverend's attack was cunning. It began as long, slow, and painful torment. Days upon endless days of information to be regurgitated. The hero didn't know if he had the capacity to handle it all. Driven nearly mad, every night he had the same dream. Standing on a hilltop, watching children peacefully in a park, he was the only one who could warn them of the impending doom. "Mens Rea!" he would shout to them, "We've all got an evil mens rea! That's why crime requires an act or omission!" But his cries went unheard, and as he shouted the children kept playing, oblivious to even the most basic legal principles. Just when the hero thought the onslaught would never end, the Reverend struck with snake strike swiftness. Their battle was epic, and in the end the Reverend retreated into the shadows. Our hero was left with the distinct impression that they would meet again, and soon.

Next, the Pirklator struck, using obscure and arcane mysteries known only to him. Our hero had no choice but to struggle best he could against a foe whose tactics changed with every breath. The Pirklator's champion was none other the mighty T1000, but even it was no match for the hero's outstanding maneuvers. He could tell his enemies were getting desperate.

At long last, the ingenious Commodore launched his assault from aboard his flagship, "Beamer." It was a brutally awesome bombardment, the likes of which have never been seen before or since. Salvo after flaming death salvo the Commodore sent hurtling towards our hero, nearly sinking him on more than one occasion. It was all he could do to keep his head above water, much less fight back. But just when all seemed lost, he recalled the words of District Attorney Harvey Dent--"It's always darkest just before the dawn." With a sudden boost of confidence, our hero remembered his greatest weapon, promissory estoppel. "Rely on this, Commodore!" he shouted, laughing death in the face as he dealt his adversary a fatal blow. As the dark ship "Beamer" sank beneath the waves, our hero could just make out a lone Red Owl winging away above the whitecaps.

But all was not yet well. One fearsome foe lay ahead, the dreaded Fuselier. Her onslaught was last, but not by any means the least. She attacked with a feint to the left, then a dart to the right, and then a withering equitable partition right up the middle. Her conditions subsequent and precedent spun at him so fast that our hero nearly fell right into a negative reciprocal easement. But the hero wanted more than injunctive relief...he was out for blood. Deftly parrying the Fuseliers sudden Fair Housing Act claim, the hero leapt up and struck back with a crippling constructive eviction. Victory was sweet, and outstanding. Finally, our hero had time to mow the lawn, and maybe have a beer.

Editor's note: F*Tard Fridays return tomorrow with new electoral maps!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

SFW: Baby Sasquatch

With the Torts II final vanquished, I think a celebratory installment of "Scenes From Waco" is in order. In this series we share slices of life in Waco that capture the joie de vive of this very special place. The latest image comes to us from the mailbox at Casa de Davis.

The very disturbing image to your left is none other than "Monkey Cuddles," which the advertisement tells us "is not a toy," but "a fine collectible to be enjoyed by adult collectors." WTF, so you're telling me this is some sort of adult novelty? That's sick stuff, man.

D and I nearly freaked when we saw this diapered freak (with "real mohair topknot") staring back from a 4 X 6 postcard. The poor depraved folks over at the "Ashton-Drake Galleries" have obviously been watching Animal Planet and QVC at the same time, while also eating peyote. How else could they have come up with the brilliant idea of marketing a sculpted Baby Sasquatch by mail?

As if "Monkey Cuddles" weren't completely beyond explanation, two more figures are planned in the series. "Monkey Toddles" and "Monkey Nibbles" are coming soon! You can be the first addled retiree on your block to complete the set! I bet Bigfoot gets pissed when he finds out there are pictures of his kids on the internet.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Everyone! I have an important late breaking news announcement.

Still in full-bore finals mode, but I though it was important for you all to know that Joe Shortsleeve is not a idiomatic pseudonym for an everyman (in the "Johnnny Sixpack" vein). He's a real freakin' guy in Boston!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Equitable Partition of Defamatory Comparative Replevin for a Cow

Is it just me, or are things starting to run together as the quarter winds down? I think there's a market for new study aid, "Mega-CrunchTime". When you've got exams and memo projects in five different subjects, Mega-CrunchTime will help you study for or write them all. Crim Law is out of the way at least, but consider the following hypothetical:

"Old MacDonald had a farm, and on that farm he had a cow named Bossy. To be more precise, on that farm he had a 4/9ths undivided interest in a cow named Bossy that he inherited from his Grandfather, Very Old MacDonald. His sister and brother held the other 5/9ths, but had leased their shares to Old MacDonald. One day, a Mr. [Insert name from your professor's s favorite TV show] came to call, and asked if he might buy Bossy for twopence and a farthing. Knowing a good deal when he sees it, Old MacDonald agreed, and told the buyer he could pick up Bossy in a fortnight.

But the very next night, Bossy escaped from her barn and gored a young neighbor child to death. In the issuing lawsuit, Old MacDonald was found 35% at fault and was ordered to recompense the bereaved family with a 2/9ths interest in the cow. After the fortnight had past, Mr. [Insert name from your professor's s favorite TV show] arrived to pick up his cow. Old MacDonald told him the sad news about the neighbor, and apologized that he could not in good faith sell a cow of which he only owned 2/9ths. Enraged, the buyer asked if he would have gone through with the sale when he had only 4/9ths. Cowed and ashamed, Old MacDonald confessed that he would have.

Seeking to get even, Mr. [Insert name from your professor's s favorite TV show] went right home and wrote a letter to the Metropolitan Morning News about what a crumblebum salesman that Old MacDonald was, and advising readers not to buy from his farm. The News ran the letter, and MacDonald's agri-business has completely collapsed as a result . After dashing off his note to the paper, Mr. [Insert name from your professor's s favorite TV show] filed suit seeking replevin of his cow. The magistrate ordered Bossy partitioned into 1/9th bits and equitably distributed among the parties, with tripe and tongue evenly divided.

You represent the Union of Beefeaters before the Queens Bench at the 1895 Windsor Winter Assizes. Obviously, the common law of Zaire applies. Question: How much is twopence and a farthing in American dollars?"

Unrelated musings: Understanding is like matter. You gather it up and roll it together, and it all seems to blend into a big blob of general comprehension, and then BLAM! You've hit critical mass and the whole thing blows apart in your hands. But now, as you go about gathering up your understanding again, you know better how to fit it back together again. This time around you have room to fit in more understanding, and the BLAM! Dammit, it blew up again. The cycle repeats. But eventually, after many, many explosions, you gather enough idea matter together that instead of fissioning all over you, it fuses, and you end up with a big pulsing star of pure cognitive energy. Maybe I don't have my physics straight, but that's how I see it. (Discussion for another time: Why I think our collective reasoning works the same way. Preview: How many re-"discoveries" have we made in the last 100 years alone?)

So with 1.2 quarters of exams out of the way, my full comprehension of the big picture material is floating somewhere between the gathering and the explosion. I can just make out the big picture, but the image is still pretty fuzzy. I've had quite a few mini-novas trying to combine "the law" and "the real world," but as evidence by the hypo above, I feel like things are running together again. Where are you, August?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Theo-Thursday: Bears? Now you've endangered the whole of Christendom!

I'm no theologian, but like many modern Christians, I see the importance of giving our ancient dogmas and traditions some concerted thought every now and again. The Church of England's recent decision to move toward the ordination of lady bishops has raised an issue in my mind that I thought long settled.

As you can see at the bottom of this post, I had more musings on this topic than I thought, but it all comes down to one of my most basic beliefs: the priesthood of all believers. If Christ came to give his salvation to everyone, and to be our sole mediator and intercessor with God, why do we even have priests/ministers/pastors? The Catholic, Orthodox, and many Anglican traditions believe that they serve as additional mediators, and may even grant the absolution of sin in Christ's name. Doesn't this seem anti-thetical to "No man cometh to the Father, but by me?" (John 14:6) So to me (to put it irreverently) the priesthood/ministry seems more like a holy bureaucracy making sure that everyone "gets the memo" about their salvation. That was the great commission, not, "ya'll stay here and do my job until I get back."

So what's the big deal about woman priests and bishops? As Ron Burgundy taught us, their menses do not attract bears. But the major role the ministry plays is temporal leadership along with the spiritual. And a lot of folks still buck under the idea of female leadership. Why? Historical inertia, sure, but also some pretty awful representations by our lady friends. Think about it--like other "progressive" movements, the drive to ordain women started on the outer fringe. Is it surprising, then, that the first female primate in the Anglican Church is this dingbat? I mean come on, her vestments look like the cover of a "Good News" Bible from 1967. The Right Rev. Oceanographer, Katherine Jeffords Schiori, is one of the most left-wing clerics alive, besides one of the most fringe in orthodoxy. Here appointment, like that of many female priests, was an obvious dig at the mainstream by folks at the outer edges of reason. Is is suprising that these appointments would be devisive?

Thoughts, compatriots? And yes, I should have been working on other, school-related things instead of typing this.

Some earlier ramblings:

I grew up in an evangelical church, where tradition strongly dictated that a woman should not be in a place of leadership over a man. Conservative protestants, Roman Catholics, and orthodox Christians of all flavors make strong biblical arguments for this, including: 1) God chose to that his son should be incarnated as a male; 2) the twelve apostles were all male; 3) Mary, for example, was an obviously important woman to the faith, but was not called to leadership; 4)tradition is the way our faith has been preserved through the centuries, and it dictates only the ordination of men.

I find these and similar arguments unpersuasive. The more I consider them, the more obvious it becomes that they are ex post facto justifications for a social phenomenon, not a spiritual one. Of course men were going to be leaders in the early church, and of course they are leaders in the church now. The same is true of almost every other human institution on the planet. And judging by the flaws in the earthly church, we can't deny that it is a human (if divinely inspired) institution.

Almost every argument I've ever heard against the ordination of women finds its roots in tradition. Either "that's the way Jesus did it," or, "that's the way we've always done it." We are certainly called to live by Christ's example, but we honestly don't know why Jesus chose who he chose as his disciples. I've heard at least 10 sermons on the calling of the apostles, but not one ever postulated that Jesus chose them because they were male. You only hear that in the context of the issue at hand. Maybe this choice reflected practical considerations, like when he water to wine for the wedding at Cana because the bride hired the wrong caterer and they ran out. In 30 A.D. Israel, I imagine it'd be pretty tough to preach holiness while traveling in a large co-ed group.

This said, we must recognize that ALL of Christ's actions had significance, whether or not we understand what that significance may be. So it's the disciple argument is a fair one. But what of continuing Church tradition? I must admit that I'm a traditionalist to a fault. But I must also admit that this traditionalism usually stems from a desire to fulfill a perceived deficiency. I don't know much about my family history before 1900, so I like to read about families that can trace theirs back 1000 years and use coats of arms. America is rather short on pomp and ceremony, so I enjoy learning about old English customs, formalities, and legal oddities. The same is often true, I think, in the church. Our ceremony and tradition is a rubric, a way to recall and flesh out the understanding we lack of very mysterious things. But in this it is a means to an end, not the other way around. We have to be able to distinguish tradition from the faith it is built around and supports. So, "that's the way we've always done it," by itself, simply isn't enough.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A Map of the Future

I was working on putting my '08 presidential match-up into graphic form, and then I saw that RCP's got a great widget that let's you play with their numbers and create your own electoral map. Here's how I think things stand now (this link will bring up the default map--on the red row under the title, click "Your Electoral Map" to see my picks):

Despite guys like Novak arguing that Johnny's still viable in many close states, I don't think there's much hope. Only a very few states remain true "toss-ups," and out of those even fewer are competitive. With the possible exception of Indiana, I think everything I don't have filled on the map will end up in Obama's column.

What are the implications here? Just what we already know--so far Obama's doing a better job picking up the working class folks in middle America. Especially in places like Ohio and Pennsylvania, were McCain was supposed to be able to woo away Hillary voters. The bottom line is people don't like to hear the (politically deadly) truth--their jobs are never coming back form China, gas will never be cheap again (although we can slow the bleeding), and tax breaks for the investment class are great for the country on the macro-scale even if they suck on the micro-scale.

I'm already making plans to drown my sorrows November 4. Come one, come all to Casa de Davis, to cheer or jeer or just make merry. Details to follow in the coming months.

EDIT: That link can be screwy, so here's a screen capture of my map. If you send me the link to your map I'll post it as well.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Hammocks, Horseshoes, and Dinosaurs?

I can't tell ya'll how excited I am about August. Not just because exams will be over, but because D and I are headed back east to stay with DC friends in a great old riverhouse on Mobjack Bay (a southern arm of the Chesapeake). Nothing but hammocks, horseshoes, and tall drinks for a weekend. Eat that, outlining!

This crew of friends in awesome, too. One of our more legendary adventures with them was an expedition to Dinosaur Land (a real place!). For better or worse, we just happened to film the whole escapade. Everyone took the footage home and created their own short movies, which we screened at last year's Riverhouse rendezvous. Here's mine:

Friday, July 4, 2008

Freedom Friday: Where's YOUR Lapel Pin?

Happy Independence Day to one and all! Very quick and simple question this morning: Are you proud to be an American?

If you were in a foreign city today, and (since you probably left your lapel pin at home) a stranger asked if you were American, how would you reply? Would you fess up to it, or pretend to be Canadian? Would you say "Yes," but spend the next six sentences qualifying your answer with apologies?

"Patriot" may be an overblown buzzword today, and maybe
we place too much emphasis flag pins and the like, but don't lose the forest for the trees. We live in the greatest nation on earth, and enjoy freedoms bought and paid for by the blood of true patriots. Maybe this is what you could tell a stranger abroad, right before you play him some Lee Greenwood and Bruce Springsteen songs. Or let the Muppets explain for you:

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Say what now?

The Commodore has been reviewing the Contracts I exams with us in class, and overall I've gained more confidence in my exam writing and organization. Definitely still need some tweaks, though. but by far the best part of the review is reading some of the awful spelling errors peple made (surely myself included) in their haste to discuss 18 contracts between 1000 parties within 3 hours. It's a highly forgivable sin, given the time pressure and lack of spellcheck. Here are a few of my favorites:

"Goverende" intended to be "governed." Sounds like a total Bushism, filler for when he doesn't know a foreign dignitary's title. E.g., "I met last week with Goverende Rodriguez of Nuevo Leon, heh heh. He makes some very bueno guacamole."

"Aong," intended to be "along." I imagine this is the guy whose job it was to ring the big gong when Chinese emperors walked into the room. Since those things are loud, I also imagine it was very hard to cover a mistake like ringing it early, and a lot of good aongs were probably summarily executed, E.g., "The aong bonged the gong wrong."

"Peculira," intended to be "peculiar." This is what you said to an Italian cabbie if you couldn't make the fare, before the Euro displaced the lira. E.g. "Mi scusi, driver di carrozza, io soltanto hanno peculira."

"Onkey Miland," intended to be "Monkey Island." Spoken by the Commodore. This is the kind of name they'd use for Opie or The Beaver's kind of chubby, slow friend whose dad is probably dead. E.g., "Did you hear that poor Onkey Miland got held back again? If only he had a father figure in his life."