Sometimes, and without tipping any cards or hands, I read some of these attorney briefs and wonder what are these people thinking? Granted, while some, if not a majority of the briefs we receive are written very well, every so often we get some that make me wonder how these attorneys can, with a straight face, argue that Case X says Y (when it clearly says Z). Read more!
Sunday, February 24, 2008
This was a pretty neat news snippet I saw the other day. In an interesting case that is sure to cause Family Courts around the country to start giving this issue some thought, a New York judge recently decided that a Myspace "friend request" could violate a TRO or temporary restraining/protection order. I would imagine this is applicable also to Facebook, and realistically, could be extended to email as well. This would be an interesting case to talk about on appeal, but I doubt I would ever see anything regarding this in the next six months. See MySpace 'Friend Request' Could Violate Protection Order. See also Evan Brown's write up on it and while I can't find the opinion online, the Westlaw cite is New York v. Fernino, 2008 WL 382348 (N.Y. Crim. Ct. Feb. 13, 2008).
Some of my thoughts after reading the opinion. First, the Hamlet quote is a neat introduction, but unnecessary dicta. Second, I'm leary of citing to Wikipedia in court opinions for anything because, to me, it's not quite there yet. In every case where I've needed to find something, Wikipedia may provide some general research background, but eventually I can find what I'm looking for either in another case or law review article. If it's that recent, I'm sure the attorneys will have pointed it out to me. Of course, this is a trial court and not the Court of Appeals, so take that for what it's worth. Third, the defendant is a girl who spells her "Melissa" name with only one "S." (People v. Melisa Fernino, presuming it's a pseudonym).
The impact and value of the case remains to be seen. I think it may be the first of its kind to get any sort of news, which is good for other courts confronting the issue (and, likewise, for victims to use to raise the issue before the trial court). It also could certainly provide an novel section in a MySpace and Facebook type law review article.
I heard about this the other day and the prank, if that's really what you can call it, is visually impressive. Basically a large group of 200+ people walked into Grand Central Station and decided to "freeze" themselves in place for five minutes. As you can see by the videos, the effect is pretty neat. The link also contains a similar stunt that was pulled off in London. See Best Prank Ever: Stopping Time at Grand Central Station.
Friday, February 22, 2008
I've been pretty busy working on several things lately. One I worked on recently even got mentioned in a major metropolitan newspaper, so that was a feather in the cap, so to speak. I still am gathering my thoughts now that I'm over the six month hump, so maybe I'll have time next week to pontificate about that.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Since part of my pre-law career path familiarized myself with the intricacies of Photoshop, I was somewhat surprised to see how the photo journalists who are editing their various candidate photos have continued to push a less than neutral agenda to the internet public and, through a simple edit, turned what was probably an ordinary photo of Clinton into something that looks like something out of the American Idol rejection pile. Unfortunately, I can't find the photo to show exactly what I mean, but I can recreate the same effect with the "auto contrast" feature. But since the same effect has been done with her daughter's photo, I'll show my point.
The two below are comparable pictures, one original, and one edited. Like airbrushing in a magazine, this sort of editing has the same visual effect, albeit in with broader implications. The composite picture is from a Getty image from a CNN page. I also note that while I certainly respect copyright and particularly photographic copyright (which could have been one aspect that pushed me into this business to begin with), for these purposes, the photo's use falls within the fair use rubric.
I submit that the photo on the right casts Chelsea in a much less favorable light than the (theoretically) unedited original photo on the left. By comparison, think of so-called "glamour shots" which can airbrush quality from almost anything.
My point to all of this again deals with my recurring theme of how subtle the media's take on things can be sometimes. While headlines are one thing, the fact that "pictures can speak a thousand words" is something that may be flying under the radar. With everyone able to take a digital picture nowadays, however, I can't imagine this problem going away, or even being caused by simple editing. Further, whether this is good or bad depends on whose campaign manager you are talking to. In either case, it's just something to think about when you see these pictures splash on the screen.
Monday, February 18, 2008
The internet news report tells of a horseplay practical joke that is sure to raise legal eyebrows involving copyrighted materials, trademark infringement, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Apparently, spring training has reached a fever pitch for the Phillies pitching staff as the right handers have aligned against the southpaws and orchestrated an elaborate prank against Phillies pitcher Kyle Kendrick. See Kendrick target of elaborate prank. The YouTube video can be found here. The short of it is that Kendrick was "punk'd" by his teammates, manager, and even his agent and the press into thinking that he was being traded to a Japanese team for a player named "Kobayashi Iwamura."
The long of it, however, is that it has sparked a legal hurricane of pain. One of my west coast BigLaw friends filled me in on a pending lawsuit filed today against those teammates who "punk'd" him. But, it's not just Kendrick who has jumped into the litigation bandwagon for his emotional distress; the lawsuit apparently involves Jason Goldberg and Ashton Kutcher, who believe that the joke infringes on their Punk'd concept (esp. with the explicit use of the phrase 'you've been punk'd!' at the end of the prank). They have also convinced the Central and Pacific Leagues of Japan to join as third parties under a beneficiary theory (because he had agreed to be traded away). And, they even found someone named Kobayashi Iwamura, who is apparently the Naked Cowboy of Toyko, and, like his American counterpart hopes to do, recently settled for an undisclosed amount against Mars Toyko for similar unauthorized use of his image under Japanese trademark laws. Even Takeru Kobayashi the hot dog eater has jumped in on this action. Needless to say, the merits of this suit are sure to raise significant awareness of the case against horseplay in the workplace.
And, the merits of this entry, lost its specter of truth after the first paragraph.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
A week ago, I said I would keep track of news headlines from the major news organizations and see if there is any sort of pattern which could prove my hypothesis whether the media is in fact biased, and if so, for whom? My answer, at least as it is based on my notes of the headlines (pasted below), is that most of the major news organizations are prone to write with pro-Democrat headlines and, in part because the momentum is on Obama's side right now, are either pro-Obama or against-Hillary. Since McCain is going to get the Republican nomination, most of the Republican news has gathered around whatever he has done lately.
The WSJ is probably the least biased, but its headlines were generally pro-Hillary when it reported. The Times had neutral headlines, sometimes. The BBC, as one would expect, only wrote about Obama this week since he was the major news at the beginning of the week. If you're looking for a relatively unbiased news ticker of general news, Yahoo's front page is probably the best source. How Microsoft/NewsCorp will affect this remains to be seen.
What I found most interesting is how the media shifted against Clinton over the course of the week. Here's how I broke it down by organization.
Drudge Report: Only one top headline all week was news about the Republican party, and that was when Romney endorsed McCain. The rest of the news was either pro-Hillary, although it shifted toward Obama slightly, if also into what I began calling "general Democratic" by the end of the week. General Democratic is an attempt at being unbiased, but it's really just a cop-out because Hillary can't be the news all the time.
CNN: Generally pro-Obama; surprisingly, by the end of the week, most of the headlines (to me) seemed to be against Clinton.
Yahoo: It was fairly split between the candidates, although certainly more heavily democratic. It shifted to a Clinton/anti-Obama tone by the end of the week, however.
Fox News: Most of the headlines were phrased so they could certainly be perceived as "against Clinton." By the end of the week, that tone had shifted "against Obama." The few that were pro anybody were for McCain.
NY Times: Most of the headlines were either "general Democratic" or in favor of Clinton, although I think the scale tips slightly toward Obama.
LA Times: Generally Democratic headlines, pro-Clinton at the beginning of the week and pro-Obama by the end of the week.
Wall Street Journal: Generally Democratic-focused headlines, more pro-Clinton than pro-Obama.
BBC News: Good for general world news and big issues; centered around Obama's primary sweeps last weekend, but otherwise fairly quiet.
My conclusions after forcing myself to go through this exercise? (Besides the fact that it turns out I don't read the news as often as I thought, or at least not at a pre-ordained time as I had attempted to do this week):
If you're looking for a quick update on the news and the market, Yahoo is the best source. If you're looking for 24/7 news, Drudge and CNN keep things fairly up-to-date, but they are pretty Democrat-focused; likewise is the same for FoxNews, which is pretty Republican-focused. The Times and the Journal are both Democrat-focused, but at least their headlines are general enough that you have to read a bit into them to figure out who the piece favors. Is that a better way of doing it? I don't know. Whatever sells newspapers and advertising is probably the correct answer.
Bottom line: Over the last week, the media has recast Clinton as the underdog in what seems to be an almost systematic methodology. Will the tide continue to sweep against her? It strikes me that the Republicans seem to want to go against Clinton more than Obama. It also seems that if you are running for office and want coverage of something, you need to either do something to/with your staff in order to get non-primary day coverage. Is this smart strategy or not? Only time will tell.
The recap of the headlines is below. The information is the spot where the headline placed on the site (1=1st, 2=2nd, 3rd, etc.) and my perception of who the article was for (D/R O/C/M or against O/C/M, as it was, or G(eneral)-D/R).
Sunday, Feb. 10, 2008 (Night):
Drudge Report: "Wake Up Call" (Linking to Clinton Replaces Campaign Manager) (1; D-C)
CNN: Obama Wins Maine Caucuses, CNN Projects (2nd; D-O)
Yahoo: Obama wins Democratic caucuses in Maine (1st; D-O)
Fox News: Maine Warms to Obama (1; D-O)
Yahoo: Obama grabs majority of delegates with Maine victory (1; D-O)
NY Times: Maine to Obama; Clinton Replaces Campaign Leader (2; D-O/C)
LA Times: Clinton replaces campaign chief (2; D-C)
WSJ: Clinton Replaces Campaign Manager (2; D-C)
Drudge: Wake Up Call (same article) (1; D-C)
CNN: Obama rolls into Potomac primaries after sweep (1; D-O)
Fox news: Triumph and Turmoil: Obama wins all 5 weekend Democratic contests; Clinton replaces manager amid losses (2; D-O/C)
BBC: Obama takes clear Maine victory (3; D-O)
Yahoo: Poll: Obama would narrowly defeat McCain (3; D-O)
WSJ: Clinton replaces campaign manager (4; D-C)
NY Times: For McCain, losses signal challenges (3; R-M)
LA Times: (no political headlines)
Drudge: (same Wake Up Call article) (1; D-C)
CNN: Navarette: Right wing can’t contain McCain (4; R-M); Clinton holds narrow delegate lead (5; D-C); Ticker: Angry Hucakabee: Is this Soviet Union? (6; R-H)
Fox News: Conservatives Unite to 'Stop Hillary' (3; R-against C)
BBC: (no political headlines)
Drudge: Hillary Insists Campaign is Strong (1; D-C)
CNN: Without superdelegates, Clinton trails Obama (4; D-G/C)
NYT: Campaign Focus Shifts to Chesapeake Bay Region (4; G)
WSJ: Clinton Replaces Campaign Manager (5; D-C)
LA Times: Numbers tight for Clinton, Obama (3; D-C/O)
Fox News: Conservatives Unite to 'Stop Hillary' (3; D-against C)
Yahoo: Obama rides momentum before 'Potomac Primaries' (1; D-O)
Drudge NYT TUESDAY: CLINTON INSIDERS, DONORS FEAR ELECTION 'SLIPPING AWAY' (1; D-C)
CNN: Without superdelegates, Clinton trails Obama (1; D-O);
NYT: For Clinton, Ohio and Texas Emerge as Key States to Win (1; D-C)
LA Times: Obama favored in Potomac races (4; D-O)
Fox News: Conservatives Unite to 'Stop Hillary' (3; R-against C)
BBC: (Americas page): Clinton seeks to slow Obama push (3; D-C/O)
Yahoo: Obama hopes to rout Clinton in Potomac primaries (4; D-O)
WSJ: Obama's Wave Fails to Sink Foe (8; D-C)
NY Times: For Clinton, Bid Hinges on Texas and Ohio (2; D-C); Seeking Unity, Obama Feels Pull of Racial Divide (3; D-O)
LA Times: Obama favored in Potomac primaries (7; D-O)
Drudge: (Same NYT Tuesday article): Clinton Insiders Donors Feel Election 'slipping away' (1; D-C)
CNN: What's at stake in the Potomac primaries? (photo of McCain) (R-M)
Fox News: Sink or Swim: Clinton facing crucial test in Potomac races (R-against C)
BBC: Primary test for Obama momentum (3; D-O)
Yahoo: Powerful superdelegates could decide Democratic nominee (1; D-G)
WSJ: Obama's Wave Fails to Sink Foe (4; D-C)
NY Times: Candidates in Sprint Around Chesapeake (4; G)
LA Times: (none)
Drudge: Scream and tears of delight (linking to an artcle Women 'falling for Obama') (1; D-O)
CNN: Candidates eye Potomac prizes (1; D-G/O)
Fox News: Hill Camp in Frantic Fight To Hold Back Obama Wave (1; R-against C)
BBC: Primary test for Obama momentum (3; D-O)
Yahoo: Facing losses, Clinton campaign recasts expectations (1; D-C)
WSJ: Obama, McCain Hope for Sweeps (1; G-O/M)
NYT: Clinton and Obama Face Off in 3 More Races (3; D-G)
LAT: Voters in 3 contests cast ballots (Obama is favored in today's primaries. Clinton looks ahead to bigger prizes, including Texas and Ohio.) (2; D-C/O)
Drudge: VA –xx, MD-XX, DC –XX, EXIT POLLS SHOW 2:1 OBAMA LEAD OVER HILLARY IN VA AND MD, 3:1 IN DC... DEVELOPING... (1; D-G)
CNN: 'Momentum' key word as Potomac votes cast (1; D-O)
Fox News: Does Hillary Have a Prayer? (1; R-against C)
BBC: Primary test for Obama momentum (1; D-O)
Yahoo: Next 'super' Tuesday awaits (1; D-G)
NYT: Obama and McCain Sweep 3 Primaries (1; D-G-O/M); NEWS ANALYSIS Obama Makes His Case as His Momentum Surges (2; D-O)
LAT: Debate intensifies over role of super delegates (1)
Drudge: The Frontrunner (In the Chesapeake Rout, according to exit polls in Maryland, Obama won: Latino Voters By Six Points: 53-47; All Religions (Including Catholics); All Age Groups (Including Seniors); All Regions; All Education Levels;
And Women by TWENTY ONE POINTS...)(1; D-O)
CNN: Sweeps give McCain, Obama momentum (1; D-O/M)
Fox News: McCain, Obama Sweep to Victory in Virginia, Maryland, DC: It’s a Win-Win (1; M/O)
BBC: Obama wins three primaries (2; D-O)
Yahoo: Obama blames economy woes on rivals, Washington (2; D-O); McCain sweeps as Huckabee chips away at conservative vote(3; R-M/H)
WSJ: Obama and McCain sweep (2; G-O/M)
NY Times: Obama and McCain Sweep 3 Primaries (7; G-O/M)
LA Times: Debate intensifies over role of super delegates (1; D-C)
Drudge: SHE CAN'T CATCH US (1; D-O); Clinton Ex-Campaign Manager Backs Obama... (2; D-O) & McCain 'Fired Up'... (3; against M)
CNN: Clinton looks to Texas, Ohio to stop Obama (2; D-C/against C)
Fox News: (no headlines)
BBC: (no headlines); Americas page – Obama wins primary clean sweep
WSJ: Obama Unveils Economic Proposal (10; D-O)
NYT: Obama's Lead in Delegates Shifts Focus of Campaign (1; D-O); Michelle Obama Takes to the Trail (2; D-O)
LAT: Big rewards from small donors (Obama) (2; D-O)
Drudge: She Can’t Catch Us (1; D-O)
CNN: Democratic loser could still get nominated (2; D-C)
Fox News: Hillary Clinton — Underdog? (2; R-against C)
Yahoo: Romney endorses McCain for nomination (2; R-M); Clinton wins N.M. vote nine days after Super Tuesday (3; D-C)
WSJ: Romney backs McCain (5; R-M)
NYT: Romney Endorses McCain (3; R-M)
LAT: Romney Gets Behind McCain (2; R-M)
Drudge: Romney Endorses McCain (2; R-M) / McCain could resign senate seat (3; R-M)
CNN: Romney endorses former rival McCain (2; R-M) In must-win situation, Clinton sharpens attacks (3; D-C)
Fox News: Romney Endorses McCain (2; R-M)
BBC: none / Americas: Romney endorses McCain campaign (2; R-M)
Yahoo: Clinton declared winner in New Mexico primary (3; D-C)
WSJ: Clinton Bets Big on Ohio and Texas (6; D-C)
NYT: Black Leader, a Clinton Ally, Tilts to Obama (2; D-O)
LAT: The man behind the message (obama) (3; D-O)
Drudge: Superdelegates get campaign cash... (1; D-G); White men hold power balance... (1; D-G)
CNN: In must-win situation, Clinton sharpens attacks (2; D-C); McCain defends '100 years in Iraq' statement(3; R-M); Ticker: Huckabee says no McCain 'coronation' (4; R-M)
Fox News: McCain Calls on Obama to Divulge ‘Pork’ Projects (8; R-against O)
Yahoo: Former President Bush to endorse McCain (3; R-M)
WSJ: Clinton Bets Big on Ohio and Texas (7; D-C)
NY Times: Black Leader, a Clinton Ally, Tilts to Obama (2; D-O)
LA Times: The man behind the message (obama) (3; D-O)
Drudge: PUTIN RIPS HILLARY: 'At a minimum, a head of state should have a head'... (1; D-C)
POLL: OBAMA TAKES LEAD IN TEXAS... (1; D-O)
Cnn: In must-win situation, Clinton sharpens attacks (2; D-C)
Fox News: Former President Bush to Endorse McCain (5; R-M)
Sat 2/16/08 Morning
Yahoo: Obama should take public funding, McCain says (3)
NYT: Democrats Look to Avoid Convention Rift (1st)
LAT: Obama gets jabbed from 2 sides (2nd)
Drudge: DEMS LOOK FOR WAY TO AVOID CONVENTION DEADLOCK (top)
CNN: Ticker: Bill Clinton: Obama ignores my legacy (8)
Fox News: McCain takes on Obama (1st)
Yahoo: Chelsea Clinton now a full-fledged player in campaign (3; D-C)
NYT: Democrats Look for Way to Avoid Convention Rift (3; G-D)
LAT: Obama gets jabbed from 2 sides (2; D-O)
Drudge: DEMS LOOK FOR WAY TO AVOID CONVENTION DEADLOCK (1; G-D)
CNN: Clinton could have edge in swing states (9; D-C)
Fox News: 11th-Hour Bid (Clinton) (1; D-against C)
Thursday, February 14, 2008
The other night on one of the channels, I heard Former Speaker Newt Gingrich remark that any of the three candidates could walk the walk right now in Congress in their positions as Senators. Of course, since Obama and Clinton are far junior to McCain, he implied that really only McCain could gain from this, and in reality, probably had more to lose by trying. Moral of this snippet? It seems to imply that the Senate has no real power. Perhaps, perhaps not. I couldn't find this transcript, but he makes this same general point here. See generally Gingrich Warns of GOP Catastrophe.
I was speaking to one of my friends in Ohio, who is a minority, who made an interesting argument that Obama could either be the greatest president ever, or run an administration with Carter-esque results. And while fifty years down the road, history may judge both Carter and Bush favorably, the immediate impact if he screws up could deter future minorities from succeeding. He argues that Obama is better off as VP for a few years. I have to give his argument more consideration, but his point was interesting enough. I found a similar argument online (although I can't find it now; I think it was an op-ed piece somewhere).
I do want to write about some interesting legal articles I've come across the past few days; perhaps I will have more time to get to them over the weekend. But, just in case, here's a snippet:
Snipes Trial Offers IRS Perfect Script. I wonder which Court of Appeals clerk is going to get to play with this one?
Recusal-Go-Round Continues at West Virginia Supreme Court. My judge pointed this one out to me the other day as an example of how not to do things if I ever become a judge. Bottom line: What a mess.
And finally. Secrets of the Great Seal Revealed. Despite the conspiracy theorists' beliefs, National Treasure is merely a fiction. I would think that the real truth lies somewhere in the middle, but closer to what the government says. After all, our national bird almost was a turkey.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Although the writers strike has left me watching very few shows, one that will be watched by me (live tonight, and in most other cases, probably on the internet because 10 is past my bedtime) is Jericho. As I pointed out last year, this show has some interesting points, and since I've invested so much time into so far, I figure why not go for eight more episodes and see how it ends. I am less inclined to believe that the show will survive past this 8-episode run, particularly post-strike, but it's nice that CBS has afforded much more vociferous fans than me the opportunity for closure. See Thanks to the fans, 'Jericho' returns. Hopefully with the 10 PM show, they can finally explore some darker elements.
I will respond to someone's comment posted yesterday about tv generally, and I agree that there probably are not any new shows that I am planning on devoting any time to. One of my friends did in fact cancel his cable, but has told me that since his job consists of reading and writing and working all day, he has lost most of any enjoyment from regular reading. For me, at that point I need an hour or two to sit and watch tv and just not think about work. Are others in that same boat? I would hope not. I would much rather be able to leave by 6 and read the paper and go out than be a slave to the television set. (Which is why I think I prefer watching shows online at my own pace).
As I mentioned a few days ago, I'm saving my results based on my online news reporting article until Sunday. In checking out tonight's headlines, however, I saw that the VA polls closed at 7. Since it's a little after 7 now, I figured that it would take a few minutes (at least) before a "winner" could be reported. After all, Huckabee just made some ridiculous comparison of Washington State's voting process to that of the Soviet Union, so one may think that perhaps waiting a bit could be a more prudent course. Apparently it is not.
With 0.0% actually reporting, CNN reports that Obama is the projected winner. I must assume that article was written hours ago and they were just waiting to hit the "publish" button. We'll see if someone from Hillary's campaign cries out "Konstantin Chernenko!" or some other silly nonsense.
Monday, February 11, 2008
Once again, the price of stamps is going up, which will cause a lot of grumbling at the 1 cent stamp line, but is really not that big a deal (not that I'm not complaining about it). See Stamps to Cost a Penny More.
It hasn't even been a year since they went up to 41 cents. Now they will be 42 cents until the next postal rate increase (which, inevitably, will be before you know it). The Liberty "Forever" stamp, which costs 41 cents now and will apparently cost 42 cents when the rate goes up, is still available. I would imagine a lot of people will hurry up and buy it now from the USPS. Apparently they have an excess of 5 billion stamps ready for when this happens.
This is their scheme anyway, but it's probably not that much of a worthwhile investment given that 100 stamps will probably last the average person about 4 years (averaging 2 first class mailings a month). If you buy enough to actually last a lifetime, you probably are better off investing that amount in a five year CD. Or on Yahoo stock. (Can someone say, "proxy fight!").
Why hurrying up to buy the 41 cent Liberty stamp isn't that great an idea. Charting the price of stamps in the last few years, one site gives one pictorial representation of the rising costs.
I'll start with the cost in 1985, since I remember when the cost went up to a quarter and I thought that was neat. According to one site, in 1985, a first class postage stamp cost 22 cents. It jumped to 25 cents in 1988, to 29 cents in 1991, 32 cents in '95, 33 cents in 99, and since then has jumped up pretty consistently - 34 cents in 2001, 37 cents in 2002, 39 cents in 2006, 41 cents in 2007, and now 42 cents in 2008. Focusing just on the last eight years, prices have jumped slightly, from 34 cents to 42 cents. In the last five years, the percentage increase has been a little more.
Assuming you had bought the equivalent of 200 liberty stamps the then-current Liberty stamp rate of 34 cents in 2001, you would have used up your first 100 in 2005 and your final 100 this year. 34 cents*200 = $68. If you had bought them at the current prevailing prices, your price would have roughly been as follows: .34*25+.37*25+.37*25+.37*25+.37*25+.39*25+.41*25+.42*25, or $76. So, buying eight years worth of stamps saved you less than $10. Even if you invested that $68 in the typical 1% savings account, you probably would have made your $10 over that same period. Hopefully better if you're a little more savvy or use an online brokerage account with higher rates.
At the current pace (and even assuming a little more), stamps in 4 or 8 years will be between 46 and 50 cents for a first class stamp. Even if it's 53 cents in 2016, you're really not saving that much money buy hurrying up and buying now. You're saving about the same $10, maybe $20 if it really gets out of hand. On the plus side you don't have to buy the silly 1 cent stamps every couple years. On the minus side, you're losing money. But, if you like spending money on foolish investments, the USPS store is waiting for your Liberty stamp purchases.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
I don't think it's any secret that the media is pretty biased (or at least my perception of them is pretty biased). Since I'm always trying to stay informed, I've been struggling lately with the media, much to the point that I'm about ready to disconnect my cable and rely solely on the internet and online television media (for the few remaining shows I watch anymore). However, since that is not overly realistic, I'll pose this project instead.
In order to promote my own goal for becoming informed, and hopefully make a point about how the public is really being informed these days, I'm going to test the following hypothesis:
Who are the self-proclaimed "major news" organizations pushing for? Are they both playing the left against each other or is it, in fact, unbiased? The answer may reveal whether there is or is not an argument that the general public is largely being misinformed - not by the coverage per se, but by the type of coverage.
For the next week, I'm going to write down the front headline of CNN, Drudge, Yahoo's Most popular, and whatever other online news website suggested to me to determine exactly where the tide of the media is turning to or for or against. Since I check the internet an average of four times a day (in the morning, during lunch, toward the end of work, and maybe once at night), I should have a fairly even baseline. I acknowledge the inaccuracy of my test upfront and how this could be an incredible waste of time. But, since nobody else seems to be writing about this, maybe it's worthwhile.
Predictions about what my results will be next week? Feel free to comment away. Am I missing a site? Let me know. I'll post my entry in a week from tonight.
Just a quick note since I'm in the middle of finishing up a major brief reading session and needed a quick internet fix. I'll save my comments for the 2008 Beijing Olympics for when they get closer, but I saw on the Drudge wire that the Chinese government has required athletes not to comment about the Chinese society while they are over there. With the advent of cell phones and camera phone photos/videos/etc., I'm not sure how exactly they plan on holding these athletes accountable. I'm curious as to what the American athletes are being required to sign, if anything. I'll save my free speech commentary for another day, but the article should speak for itself. See Britain Kow Tows to China as Athletes are Forced to Sign No Criticism Contracts.
Because I really only have time to use ebay in the summer (and starting even earlier this year because my pmbr and barbri books have nearly gathered enough dust in my room), I haven't had time to digest the change of fees/feedback process that CNN has been reporting about. See Outraged ebay sellers plot strike week. Well, the idea of a strike against eBay has about as much success as these silly and nonsensical and fake attempts at striking against the oil companies by not buying gas for a day. See also Exxon Posts Record Profits on Oil Prices (providing an example of who is actually profiting from the cost of gasoline).
Anyway, because I haven't had to actually use ebay since these fee adjustments have been put into place, I am inclined to think it's a bad idea - mainly because I have come across buyers who are terrible and other sellers should be warned about it through the feedback rating system. Of course, I have written before about how some so-called "power sellers" use their advantage and overpriced shipping costs to domineer the market, leaving buyers little recourse through the feedback system for fear of getting negative feedback. Is the new system worth the trade off? The reporting on this topic suggests that it is not.
On the plus side, for me anyway, there supposedly is no more "gallery" fees, so now you get one picture for free instead of having to pay an extra 35 cents or whatever it was. That's good, although I'm not sure why ebay felt compelled to do that. Again, it's their business judgment, so whatever. The overview of ebay feedback and listing fee changes can be found here.
Saturday, February 09, 2008
I saw on WSJ online that there is already talk about the new makeup of the Supreme Court depending on who the next president is. See McCain and the Supreme Court. See also The Supreme Court and Public Opinion: Will They Soon Diverge, if a Democrat is Elected. I remember this was the talk of the town four years ago, and obviously President Bush has had the opportunity to put two new members on the high court. I think his ability to put any more on (in any federal court) has been stalled since Justice Alito.
Regardless of who the next president is, I think it's safe to say that there will probably be another two or three new members of the Court over the next four years. I just wonder whether it matters, judicially speaking? Obviously all of the justices have their understanding of the Constitution, just like anybody who has graduated from law school. And to survive legislative scrutiny of the appointment process, it seems more and more that you have to walk a certain line to get through. But once you're in, you can do what you want. I think every one of the justices has proven that they aren't necessarily going to stick with what the parties think they will. Souter is probably the best case in point, but I think each probably has their own examples.
I wonder whether and to what extent this will be important during this coming election, given the economy and the war. I guess we'll find out in 30 years. Unless the current court does something really screwy, such as with this gun case. Exciting times for appellate law.
Friday, February 08, 2008
The Supreme Court of Nebraska, in an convoluted state constitutional grounds argument, has given the United States Supreme Court some more secondary sources to churn through in their current death penalty case. See Nebraska Court Bans the Electric Chair. I haven't read through the 86 page opinion, nor do I plan to, but the good stuff begins around page 33. See Nebraska v. Mata (Neb. 2008).
According to the article, the Nebraska Legislature will soon be aiming to attempt a world record for the fastest constitutional amendment in the world. It remains to be seen whether the judiciary, the legislative, or the executive branch of Nebraska (the latter two being semi-governed by the court of popular opinion) wins the day.
As a behind-the-scenes government employee within the appellate court system, I am a little surprised that the Nebraska Supreme Court would jump the gun on the issue given that the issue regarding the constitutionality of the death penalty in general is currently before the Court. This is probably why they appear to have decided to deal with the issue on state constitutional grounds.
While their opinion may pass muster under Michigan v. Long, I still find their reasoning on state principles confusing given that they speak at lengths about the evolving standards of decency doctrine. Isn't that a federal interpretation? For all they know, that doctrine will be gone in less than four months. One more reason why this opinion probably should have been stayed. Of course, I'm not a Nebraska attorney, so who knows what is the law over there. Apparently not death by electric chair anymore.
I do find somewhat prescient about the opinion, though, and I think it may serve as some use to other states and circuits that begin grappling with the issue following whatever method the Supreme Court resolves the issue. Presuming the Supreme Court upholds the death penalty as constitutional, but remands or reverses as to the methodology barring further fact finding, this opinion shows one way that the lower courts may be able to task the issue by exercising their Daubert powers and create a record for a higher court appellate court to review (similar to how the Nebraska Supreme Court had accomplished this task). Or not. Given the uncertainty, why feel compelled to weigh in now rather than four months from now?
In my relevant Westlaw search, I have come at least one other state supreme court that has punted the issue. See Missouri v. Johnson (Mo. 2008) (acknowledging but not deciding the issue on procedural grounds). With the U.S. Supreme Court opinion due anytime now (up until June 30), I wonder how many others will follow Nebraska's path, or carve out their own. Read more!
First Pete, then Repeat - Or When the steam of a campaign pot started boiling way earlier than expected
I saw just now that the media tide against Clinton has turned even further as now the Washington Post agrees with my earlier prediction that the Republican machine will fare far better against Hillary than against Obama. See George F. Will, Democrats Living Dangerously: Early Voting Insanity and a GOP Gift. I'll continue to save my real thoughts until the race is down to two, then give my prediction on what type of campaign strategy will win then.
I'm not sure if Clinton has ever run a marathon, or what her physical running experience has been. As a former D-X runner, I'm well aware of the well-worn phrase "it's a marathon, not a sprint" and its applicability beyond the track or course. Here, Clinton may have underestimated the length of this race a bit, or at least should have bet the over on how fast the media would grow tired of waiting for November 2008 to get here and begin spinning the primary process in a way to constantly generate more sales (which, as has been becoming more and more evident, does not help her at all).
Because the media seems to back a different person every day, and for now, my understanding of the press shows significantly more support for Obama, I just wonder whether Clinton will even catch a second wind, and if so, whether it will be too little too late. And, as pointed out by another article, this deadlock only helps the other side, which doesn't help either candidate.
Lastly, what's the deal with the landlords giving away rental property to political parties? Can you really be that surprised that you may be stiffed? See Landlord: Clinton Staff Stiffed Me on Rent. One would think that as a landlord, he has made that mistake before, and apparently has not learned from it. Nevertheless, the fact that the Clinton machine has let this $500 oversight reach national headlines has to be a little embarrassing. Read more!
Thursday, February 07, 2008
I haven't seen more than 15 minutes of this show Eli Stone, but that is plenty enough to say that I can't really keep watching it - the premise is okay, barely, but I just can't suspend disbelief that a first year associate would be allowed to say anything in a meeting, let alone speak over a senior associate during a settlement negotiation.
Sometimes I wonder who are the lawyers who these shows hire as consultants in an effort to make the show plausibly realistic. Of course, with a guy seeing visions, I'm not exactly holding my breath during my suspension of disbelief. This may seem odd considering I have spent considerable time watching stupider shows like Heroes. Nevertheless, as someone who has spent even more considerable time studying the law, I can state with near certainty that this show is way way too unrealistic, even for me.
From a lawyer's perspective, I can't say Eli Stone is going to get any more of my time. Nice try ABC. Next time why not create a doctor who has visions who is surrounded by first year residents who have the amazing ability to perform brain surgery on command.
So, is there a reason that Eli Stone got started at the mid-season? Absolutely. Is it going to get picked up? Absolutely not. Are first-year associates really getting that kind of work? Well, I can't say for certain, but at a big firm like the one portrayed in the show, "all signs point to NO."
But in searching to see if my perspective of the show is unique, I came across an even funnier link: TV Touched By a Law - Popsquire. It didn't have to do with this show, but it was a funny point about a bonehead remark Paula Abdul apparently made to a contestant during an episode of American Idol.
There are several things that I saw on the news today - this little piece is the most interesting and I can save the others to discuss either after Lost or sometime over the weekend.
On the radio this morning, I heard that a car is slated to come out next year that gets a whopping 300 MPG for a little more than a luxury sedan cost of $30,000. It looks like something out of the Jetsons, but for the money you will save over time in gas and its apparent safety features, I wonder how many people are going to jump all over getting this in the mass market. Popular Mechanics has given it a preliminary review. EV World has also reviewed it.
Information about the Aptera (as well as a video) can be found on the Aptera company's website and one of the reviews can be found here. See link. And for those of you already making six figures, you can even pre-order it. See Reserve Your Aptera. 300 MPG and the ability to travel through space has its limits, however: it's apparently only going to be available in California (for now).
In a nod to Henry Ford, I wonder if they are going to say something along the lines of "People can have the [Aptera] in any color they want, so long as it's [white]."
How many heads is this going to turn when it first goes driving down the street? I await Consumer Reports review of this intriguing concept car.
Posted by ECL at 7:10 PM
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
I see that the Washington Times has picked up on a comment that was discussed briefly a few weeks ago in response to my post about a theoretically united Democratic ticket consisting of Obama-Clinton or Clinton-Obama. See Hillary the Lesser Threat to McCain. With it looking more and more like Hillary and Obama will be duking it out until the bitter end (leaving the Republican machine to begin focusing its efforts behind McCain), it will be a wonder if the media can oversaturate the voting public anymore than it already has. Somehow, I’m sure they will find a way.
The news also reported today that Clinton dipped into $5 million of her own money and that her reported assets are somewhere between $15 and 50 million, and, I would guess, probably even less given the stock shock we have been through the past few weeks. What I am wondering is whether this is a sign of a healthy campaign. I have no idea, but given the red text Drudge used in reporting it, I'm guessing probably not.
In today’s world, I guess you really have to be in the top-top tax bracket with disposable income I can only dream of in order to run for president. That, and having the endorsement of some wealthier deeper pockets or organizations certainly helps as well.
Notwithstanding these comments, at some point soon, one has to start speculating about the VP candidates. CNN’s Jack Cafferty agrees with my earlier point that Clinton & Obama could thrive on the same ticket (which I still think only works and is a possibility if Clinton wins the ticket, and even then I agree that the possibility is diminishing daily). As strong as that ticket might be, and I’m not entirely sure that it would be in either scenario, I just wonder how strong it would be against something like a McCain-Rice ticket (notwithstanding the fact that Rice seems to have stayed silent on the subject). Rendell has some appeal for VP that could counterbalance that particular hypothetical, but I’m not sure if either of the front runners would go for him.
Personally, I wonder whether Obama or Clinton would go for a republican VP candidate in order to bridge the gap. While the party may think that is a ridiculous idea, perhaps the voting public and the independent voters who would otherwise slightly favor McCain may not. Time will tell.
In clerkship news, I have finally caught up on my work after the six month mark. And, I didn't get the prize in the king cake, but I think it's a pretty nifty tradition that I will take to the east coast law firm litigation department next year if they don't already do it. Coming up soon will be a six-month review and my thoughts as to what I expect/hope to accomplish over the next six months. Doesn’t this sound presidential?
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
As Marty McFly said in Back to the Future, "this is an oldie but a goodie." The incessant election coverage tonight reminded me of a great Simpsons quote (from Treehouse of Horror VII):
Homer: America, take a good look at your beloved candidates. They're
nothing but hideous space reptiles. [unmasks them]
[audience gasps in terror]
Kodos: It's true, we are aliens. But what are you going to do about
it? It's a two-party system; you have to vote for one of us.
Man1: He's right, this is a two-party system.
Man2: Well, I believe I'll vote for a third-party candidate.
Kang: Go ahead, throw your vote away.
[Kang and Kodos laugh out loud]
[Ross Perot smashes his "Perot 96" hat]
Because in the grand scheme of things whatever California decides tonight has little bearing on any of my work tomorrow, I am going to bed. I can find out in the morning with the rest of the east coast.
And, I even went ahead and cast my vote toward a losing candidate today. Did this essentially throw my vote away? Probably. It was still fun though.
Monday, February 04, 2008
One of my friends from high school has decided that law school may be worth the effort, despite my suggestions that he give it considerable consideration. Nevertheless, he told me a bit about his LSAT experience this past weekend, which brought up some humorous memories.
For those of you taking or who have recently taken the LSAT, again, let me point you to my advice regarding law school and add this point: performance on the LSAT has no correlation between legal work, the bar exam, or anything you'll ever do in law school. If you can read enough to take the test, and you have any sort of work ethic, the LSAT merely provides you with a starting place for your spot on the legal totem pole.
Of course, that's pretty sarcastic, even for me, but there is a certain grain of truth to it. Since I don't feel like getting into a debate about it, however, I'll simply comment on one part of the test that he told me about that reminded me about the bar exam. I thought I had written about it before, but I can't find it.
Like the LSAT, there is actually a writing aspect to the bar exam beyond the exam itself. As part of the verification process for the MBE, you have to write, in cursive, some statement that they can match to your handwriting. One of my friends pointed out that if these companies really want a writing sample, they should get you to print. I agree. The only thing I write in cursive is my name on a check, and to some degree, the numbers. Everything else is either printed or typed. Sort of makes third grade writing class all the worthwhile, right?
Anyway, what made me laugh and prompt this particular memory without the help of an electronic pulse, was that he said he couldn't remember how to make a cursive "I." I think I had the same feeling when the MBE asked me to write, "I, [my name], under penalty of death, do ordain to take this test." (or something to that effect.
This entry was a lot funnier in my mind on the drive home. I'll come up with something better later in the week.
A couple thoughts and then I have to work on an opinion. Well, for 56 minutes or so, last night's game was quite possibly the most boring one ever. And, in a span of about 50 seconds, the Giants relegated the Patriots to a footnote in football history and left Miami as the only truly undefeated team in football history. See Giants Upset Patriots to Win Superbowl XLII. Good for the Manning family though - bad for those who would have liked to see a team go undefeated. Instead, the Patriots now join the 1942 and 1934 Chicago Bears as the third team to fall just one game short.
Do I think that you must win the superbowl to validate your season? Yes. Look at the Steelers from a couple of years ago - a six seed wins the whole thing. Who did they beat to get there? Exactly. Nobody remembers and nobody cares. I recognize that going undefeated in the regular season is impressive, but I'm of the mindset that only one game really counts, and that is the championship one. Nobody remembers who finishes second, and while that, perhaps, may not completely hold true for a couple years, in another decade, the Dolphins will be remembered for going the distance, and the Patriots, unless they actually pull it off, will not.
I want to talk a second about the superbowl ads, and I'm probably going to write something more about it later today as I gather my tax materials for the accountant. The top commercial (in my mind) was the Career Builder.com "Follow your heart" spot. I also liked the Planter's Unibrow one, the Charlie Brown Coke one, and the Bud Light Cheese Wheel one. Runners up were the Night at the Roxbury Pepsi one, the Bud Light Fire Breather one, and the Tide Talking Stain one. There were a couple others, but obviously my lack of remembering them right now shows how un-memorable they actually were. There were plenty of bad ones though - particularly the cartoon sales rep one and several of the car commercials. And when are they going to realize that the Clydesdale horses are just about as good as the budweiser frogs? Time to retire them into greener pasteurs. The Doritos one with the mouse wins the award for the most random, and the other doritos one with the singer wins the one for "most likely to lead to brand confusion."
More on that later, and for now I will simply provide the link to USA Today's Ad Meter with their annual magical rankings of all the ads. And, by ranking the moronic "dog and pony" spot as the best, that should go to show how out of touch their unscientific response is. Of course, when their front page is sponsored by said beer company, the rankings shouldn't be that surprising.
As I said, more on the commercials later. Read more!