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June 27, 2005

Long and Tiring Day

As I prepare to leave Hong Kong, the number of things I must do before I leave is outweighing the amount of time in which I have to do it. I'm tired enough that I'm messing up turns of phrase when writing to my girlfriend, so tonight is definitely not the night to blog, even though there's so much to say: the rest of the trip to Macau, a new twirl of the Establishment Clause Two-Step, Leiter showing that humility is not his virtue.

But I'll leave you with this, one of the better pictures from my relaxing walk through Lou Lim Iok Garden, a little past one o' clock on Sunday afternoon. A little to the left of this picture is a brownish green pond filled with carp and turtles, and across that pond a yellow and white pavillion that reminded me, in a strange way, of my house back in Huntsville, Alabama. Except on the deck an old man was making his way through his tai chi routine.

June 26, 2005

Lisboa, Why Tony is a Bad Gambler, and Other tales of Macau

After messing about with the rat-trap hotel, I checked into the Hotel Lisboa. My guidebook had described the hotel as a "Chinese Las Vegas on acid," and the place certainly didn't disappoint. Nothing in the hotel approached subtle, from the use of gold tiling in near-papal excess to a series of directory signs that could be informative bordering upon cryptic. There is one junction in the hotel that helpfully tells you that whichever way you go, there's a casino ahead. And after some sightseeing (more on that later), I did hit the casinos. But I must make a confession, dear reader: I am a miserable gambler. By that, I don't mean to say that I lose. Indeed, last night I was on a hot streak. Not ten minutes into fooling about with a one-armed bandit (known locally as "hungry tigers," so it seems), I hit a small payout. After wandering about and finding a blackjack table, things just kept getting better. Within two hours, I'd doubled my money, and had enough spare cash to pay the hotel bill and buy some gifts for my family. Then I stopped. Because really, I've always tried to convince myself that I should enjoy gambling. It's one of those relatively acceptable vices that counts as "fun." But every time I'm at the table, I'm intensely conscious of the fact that every probability says I'm going to lose. When I'm down, I'm down. When I'm up, I'm just scared I'm going to be down again. I do enjoy blackjack, because on some level I feel like I understand the game. On the other hand, I don't have any particular rituals when playing. When the cards are handed to me, I flip them over nonchalantly--or at least, unconcernedly--because they're going to be what they are. Last night I played a very odd game, in which everyone bets on whether the "player" or the "banker" are going to win. I had no idea what constituted winning, but played when I saw that both the "player" and "banker" were actually players, the dealer was merely dealing, and there was an entire elaborate ritual of peeking slowly under the cards that were dealt, turning a corner up, and then after you'd finally determined what the card was, tossing them up the table in apparent disgust. Maybe I just don't have the gambling spirit, but this seemed an awfully slow way to play the game: it's not like the card changes because you pull it up a fraction of a centimeter at a time. It turns out I was playing baccarat. I won HK$400, still have no idea how the game is played, and left the table to get a cup of coffee before either (a) it was my turn to be dealer or banker, or (b) the game drove me psychotic. In any event, I just do not seem to be the gambling type.

Macau Postings

A very few of you may have seen some postings that appeared on the site for a few moments and then disappeared. This is because PocketSharp MT automatically sets a draft's status to "publish" when I transfer the entry from my PDA to the web, which means I have to log in and take it down again. (Entries are pleasant to write on the road, but they really need editing before publication, and that's easier with a real keyboard.) They should start coming up in a few minutes.

In the meantime, if Ambimb doesn't stop showing me tech tools to play with, I may never graduate. I agree with him wholeheartedly about knowledge management in law firms, and think there is much work left to be done. Actually, one question I asked during my interviews was about a firm's commitment to knowledge management, and the responses were one strong deciding factor. A good KM system makes it easier to avoid repeating tasks needlessly, which in turn lowers aggravation levels. (At least, it does for me.)

Update: The posts are starting to come up now. Their post dates are going to remain set to the date and time on which they were authored, i.e. they'll appear further down the main index page. This means the main page of TYoH may change a bit over the course of the day.

June 25, 2005

Fleeced?

So this may be my strangest set of blog entries yet: brief extracts of a twenty-four hour holiday written in the in- between places. I feel like I just got fleeced, having booked a hotel at a dodgy port-side travel agent just as I got off the boat. I'm in the courtesy van right now, and it's not half as nice as the others around. Supposedly the Presidente is a four-star joint, but right now it has the feel of a place low-budget gamblers go to be near the much-nicer Lisbon, at a lower price. But I'll tell you when I get there. Update: I did get fleeced. The Presidente greeted me with a small roach on the table and a view of construction. They're undergoing heavy renovation at the moment, and I can see why: if they're going to remain competitive with the nicer hotels in the area, having light switches that remind me of a 1978 Illinois Holiday Inn and a TV with no apparent remote control isn't going to cut it. I went back to the agency, got my money back and headed over to the Lisboa. Now that's a top hotel, and worthy of it's own entry.

On the boat to Macau

Once again, I'm not entirely sure what I've gotten myself into. I'm on the turbo jet ferry to Macau, staring at at the shoreline of a city I barely know. (Well, that's where I was. I put down the Axim in order to watch the shoreline, and now I'm surrounded by islands and shoreline that I couldn't name if I had a map. Which I don't. Perils of blogging in real time, I suppose.) I have no preconceived notions of this new city. I know that it has a reputation as the Las Vegas of the area, that there is a famous temple where the first China- US Treaty of Friendship was signed, and that there are some ruins of a cathedral that I want to photograph. I'm pretty certain that I'll need to find a hotel: I didn't start my journey today until almost 2pm, and it seems like a waste not to try to make it to a garden in the morning. (I'm relying on a Frommer's guide to Hong Kong and Macau to pick some spots.) Right now, it's the other ships that have me fascinated. As this Turbo Jet rockets over the silty brown water, we're passing well-appointed junks full of (presumably) high-powered businessmen; cargo ships, their decks stacked with containers like the building blocks of some gigantic toddler; a smoke-black merchant steamer leaving a dirty carbon trail behind it; and a hundred other vessels whose purpose and construction remain a complete mystery to me. Unlike some of my readers I know nothing of the sea. Mostly I'm a city and suburb boy, but to the extent that my soul communes with nature, it's at home in a forest, preferably in winter. This broad flat horizon of water is a foreign country of its own. (My firm orientation contained a mini talk on typhoon warnings and "black rain." That term, to me, is the title of a famous film about Hiroshima, not a meteorological phenomenon.) I can't help but wonder what it must be like to live here.

Some Hong Kong Impressions

My big worry about travel writing is the inevitable narrowness of my experience. I can claim a certain amount of expertise when it comes to Japan: few of my readers will have studied that nation in quite as much depth, although like anything else, there is much more for me to know than I ever will know. But when it comes to Hong Kong (or, as with this weekend, Macau), I have only a narrow glimpse of what I recognize is a very large place. My impressions are at best facets of life in any city I visit. That's one reason I take very few vacations: my preferred strategy up until this point in my life has been to study a place, generate an interest, and then live there. As time wears on, however, this technique is likely to be more burdensome. It's certainly very difficult to fit in with, say, the possibility of a wife and children, and statistically I may very well be approaching (Ed.--approached, blew by, was there a long time ago) that point. In any event, this weekend I've written some entries on Hong Kong and Macau over the weekend, and will be posting them during the week. I imagine that many of my reader's experiences of the same subjects will differ from my own.

Testing PocketSharp MT

This is just a test of some blogging software called Pocket Sharp MT. I'm off to Macau today, but I'll use this to write some updates over the weekend.

June 21, 2005

Those Whom The Gods Would Destroy...

In a quick spot of reading during lunch, I noticed that Naderite Democrats are contemplating the impeachment of Bush, and some of the usual suspects are granting a ringing endorsement of the tactic. (Hat tip to the Conspiracy.)

I can only think that the Gods of Irony are smiling upon me.

Having seen (to butcher a phrase) the best minds of my generation in the Republican Party driven mad by a semen-stained dress, I can only hope that the Democrats go down their own path to echo-chambered self-destruction. Last time I could only get caught up in the excitement and then mourn at the lost opportunities for the conservative movement. This time I can break out the popcorn.

Howard Dean, Amnesty International, Ralph Nader... I'm not sure I understand this. George Bush is about the least conservative conservative in ages (just as Clinton was mostly a centrist). But whatever the cause, it sure is fun to watch.

June 20, 2005

Tailoring and Watches, or A Very Non-Productive and Slightly Pretentious Weekend

So besides actually getting a chance to do some writing this weekend--can you tell I was missing it?--I've been crossing things off my "to do" list while I'm here in Hong Kong. This weekend and the beginning of this week seem to be when the Stars of Tony's Pretentious Habits have come into alignment.

After almost a year , my pocketwatch is finally fixed. I was wandering around looking for a particular tailor (not only in the wrong building, but on the wrong side of the harbour) when I happened across a shop selling fantastically expensive wristwatches and, almost as a sideline, the exact brand of pocketwatch I happen to own. It seems they've made a bit of a name for themselves I was gifted mine in 1997. Anyway, I dropped in and asked them if they could repair my watch. This Sunday I came back to pick it up, and found out that it was a "minor repair" that the watchmaker would do "on the brand." I have no idea if "on the brand" is even a term, but hey, at least I didn't get charged for it, once again I can tell time, and I'm convinced of my accidental good fortune.

Today I actually found the tailor I'd been searching for. As I said a few months ago, I've always wanted a bespoke suit, and even if I can't afford Saville Row luxury, Hong Kong is a good place to get a suit made. I did some searching in various shops, but in the end I decided I'd let a bit of nostalgia be my guide.

Fifteen or twenty years ago, my father came to Hong Kong and returned with two or three outfits that looked fantastic on him. Back in those days, I think I had one suit that you had to bribe or threaten me into, but even I could tell that these two fit him, looked him in a way that his others didn't. I remember particularly a pin-stripe remarkable for actually hanging the way a pin-stripe should on an relatively athletic frame, the parallels curving attractively down and around him. (Oddly enough, at one point he handed one of the suits down to my brother, and it looked good on that younger frame as well.)

Anyway, I didn't have much to go on in judging a Hong Kong tailor, so instead I sought out the same man my father used. He's still there, although the photo on his business card looks more like he probably did when my father met him. (Less grey hair. Ain't that true of us all?)

He was a charming fellow who was willing to talk goals, make suggestions, push forward fabrics, and roundly criticize the slacks I was wearing, purchased at Banana Republic. (They were the "safe" option when I was buying trousers in New York. And safe they are, but so dull and shapeless that if the phrase "Banana Republican" actually has something to do with the political affiliation of the shoppers there, then here's my vote for George Bush make whatever policy sacrifices necessary to woo the Queer Eye guys into the G.O.P.'s trouser aisles. [1]) And nicely, he was willing to talk me through the shape of a suit, frequently saying, "It's a good style, but I don't think you want that. Doesn't work with you."

In the end, it's going to be a grey suit, which wasn't what I started out looking for, but after looking at the pinstripes, I feel in love with the steely charcoal wool. I was hoping for a bit exciting, but this is plain, a bit more classic. I'd budgeted for a suit and a shirt, however, and here I wasn't disappointed. He suggested a very slightly-patterened white-on-white herringbone that in combination with a flat color would look--or at least, right now I imagine it looking--pretty much like what I wanted. Though I wouldn't have told you that four hours ago.

Man, look at me. I'm writing like a thirteen-year-old girl staring at a Justin Timberlake poster. Sorry: I'll be back to composed tomorrow: don't know why this is quite so fascinating to someone like me, whose friends have suggested he sign up for What Not To Wear.

Anyway, we'll see how it goes at the second fitting. If things go well, I'll give you all the address in case you're ever in Hong Kong.

[1]: Actually, I can't believe that Banana Republic survives on sales to Banana Republicans. If that's true, then red state America is heavily subsidizing the New York branch from which I bought these trousers.

June 18, 2005

A British Accent is the New Black

Just saw Batman Begins. Passable summer stuff, and definitely better than any Batman film since Burton left the director's chair. My only real comment, sadly, is a spoiler, so it's below the cut:

Update: Above the cut, since it's not relevant to the spoiler below, let me just say that I disagree with Ann Althouse's review (or rather, her favorable quote of another one). On the one hand, it gets a few things right: the fight scenes are shot too close and too quick, and some of the dialogue--mostly what was given to Katie Holmes--is wooden in the extreme. But Batman Begins seems to be an attempt to restart the franchise, to put the horrible George Clowny years behind, and thank goodness. Althouse apparently approves of the idea that "the filmmakers haven’t developed an adequate villain for [Batman] to go up against." Thank goodness the filmmakers didn't follow such advice: one breath of fresh air in this film comes from the fact that it is about the hero. I can't sort out the names of the other Batman films, but remember them by their villains. This one I won't have to.

As for Althouse's assertion that "crazy-making steam" would be a good plot-line for a B-movie, she was aware she was going to see a Batman movie that had the Scarecrow as the main villain, right? Scarecrow's a one-trick pony, and "crazy-making steam" was practically a given.

Update 2: Actually, I see that Althouse has written her own review:

I noticed a right-wing edge to some key statements: "Criminals thrive on the indulgence of society's understanding." Take that, you Gitmo critics! And it was quite clear that we were supposed to think about the criminals as al-Qaeda. Here was this "League of Shadows," based in Asia, bent on destroying "Gotham." We were nudged constantly to make this connection.

OK, look, can I make a deal with folks like Prof. Althouse? If we leave things like the First Amendment in their bailiwick, can they please not drag their politics into our comic books?

Ra's al Ghul started off as a Batman villain in the early '70s, long before anyone had even considered something called al-Qaeda. And far from shoving an al-Qaeda riff down our throats, the movie does everything it can to move the film away from anything vaguely Islamic. He's played by Ken Watanabe, for crying out loud. The scenes with him in it (or, see spoiler below) seem to be set in Nepal instead of Arabia. And the "Society of Shadows"--a fanatical organization devoted to his will--is part of the character of Ra's and has been, so far as I know, since his creation.

Frankly, Ra's had all the attributes that Althouse complains of as "nudging" her towards al-Qaeda in the early seventies, and far from shoving the connection down our throats, the scriptwriters seem to have done everything humanly possible to remove the character from such associations, going to the strange length of making him a Japanese ninjitsu expert. (As I recall the character, he was more of an Arab version of an evil Sherlock Holmes, or maybe a Moriarty.)

Maybe Althouse is saying that Christopher Nolan specifically chose al Ghul as the villain in order to make right-wing points, but Occam's Razor suggests that Joel Schumacher ran through all the A-list villains in his run on the franchise, and when good ol' R.A.G. was next in line, they bent over backwards to make the connection as weak as possible. It's not the writer's fault that the character of Ra's has a lot in common with another ideological maniac, and certainly I made it through the whole film without once making the connection.

(Incidentally: that line about criminals functioning on the indulgence of society is actually a bit of a right-wing drift to the character, but not in the way that Althouse suggests. In the film, al Ghul seems obsessed with cleansing society of villainy and injustice, whereas the original character was, to put it bluntly, an ecoterrorist who approved of saving the earth through the death of humanity. Both are omlette/eggs worldviews, but the latter is not normally a part of right-wing politics.)

Spoiler:
Discussing the movie with a friend before I saw it, I voiced my annoyance at one nonsensical aspect of Hollywood "multiculturalism." Hollywood knows the difference between whites and minorities, but I've often wondered why no one who makes blockbusters can make any distinction once the skin tone leaves off white. The main villain of Batman Returns is Ra's al Ghul. The name is supposed to mean "Demon's Head" in Arabic, but take that for what it's worth: comic book translations are often bad, and I don't know enough Arabic to guarantee it's accurate. Nevertheless, throughout the entire run of the character, on in comics, on TV, and even in his very name, he's always been an Arab.

Which is why it makes perfect sense for him to be played by Ken Watanabe, right? (Hint: For Watanabe to be an Arab name, the Mongols would have to have conquered Japan and all of Persia, and then decided that they were the Arab nation. Needless to say, they didn't, not even in the fanciful world that includes Gotham City.)

So, OK, Ra's is now an expert in ninjitsu. We can all be a bit baffled by that, or as to why the first words out of Bruce's mouth when he meets Ra's isn't, "Al Ghul my ass, Oni no Atama is more like it." But having seen the film, it's even worse: although it's uncredited, Ra's al Ghul actually hides his identity by having Watanabe's character--a mook with no real name--pose as him. You'd think that maybe the script--which spends some tedious minutes explaining such things as why Batman's cape allows him to fly, even though the explanation lends no element of credibility to the over the top special effect--might recover by having the real al Ghul show up as a man of the proper ethnicity.

Unless Liam Neeson has some lineage we don't know about, such hopes are in vain.

This is a new low. I mean, I can shrug off Sean Connery playing a Russian sub captain who happens to have a strong Scottish accent. I can shrug off Alan Rickman in Die Hard (or worse, Jeremy Irons in Die Hard III) playing German villains with accents bare miles from the Channel. But the man who played the eponymous lead in Rob Roy is suddenly Ra's al Ghul? If Hollywood is going to insist that all villains be played by British actors--and they should, because Britian makes good actors and any good movie should have a good villain--then can't we at least make said villains British?

Yin and Yang Merging in Hong Kong

I'm sitting here in my apartment, just back from dinner, typing on the computer and watching TV. And I'm busting a gut.

I'm watching Comedy Central's Daily Show, which I admit is pretty funny. But better than that, the station carrying it is CNN.

CNN hasn't bought the program in the US and I just missed the news?

Social Responsibility Fund--Now With Added Hedging!

Prof. Larry Ribstein and Prof. Bainbridge are bandying about the idea of a Social Responsibility Fund that liberals would love to hate. Within the fund would be all sorts of companies that are well-run, profitable, provide a good service, and get Michael Moore's mainsail-sized knickers in a twist. You know: Halliburton, McDonalds, ExxonMobil, etc. (Someone suggested Caterpillar for "the whole Rachel Corrie pancake thing.")

They'd have my dollar in their fund if they could find a way to add one hedge: I want them to include some short options on companies that would make money if and when there's a draft. That way when Prof. Lieter and his ilk realize that talking about Democrats making self-serving predictions and then laying a claim for a one-party state [1] isn't an effective means of auspicy, I'll get the added satisfaction of buying a very nice bottle of wine to celebrate.

[1]: In case you're wondering what I'm talking about, catch this gem:

Understand what this kind of rhetoric signifies: this kind of "chatter" takes months to "bubble up" into the media. Horrors always have to be mainstreamed first, the herd must become accustomed to the lies and the venality. It worked with Iraq. It will work with the draft.

When the Democrats start peddling the Republican garbage, that usually means the real ugliness is in sight.


(emphasis mine) Of course, the Democrats aren't peddling Republican garbage. They're peddling the same left-wing garbage they've been peddling since they introduced their own draft bill into the Senate and called it an administration plan. Leiter fell for it then, too, or rather, if he didn't get conned he... ahem, failed to mention?... that the Bills he quoted had no Republican sponsors and were the brainchild of Charlie Rangel. Republicans had to get that bill to the floor just so they could waste time voting it down--and then its sponsors didn't vote for it. True, the idea of a draft is manure, but it's 100% donkey dung.

Proud Member of Project Honeypot

Since I've just gone to all the trouble of upgrading to MT 3.17 due to annoying trackback spammers, it's appropriate that the upgrade now allows me to join a network of folks running Project Honeypot. An enterprising organization, they've come up with a tool to collect data on spammers and data harvesters who then generate a lot of the spam we've all grown to hate.

It's pretty simple: hidden on this page is a link that won't annoy you, but is likely to get picked up by a "non-human visitor." If the link is indexed and searched, and the resulting email address used, information on this is kept by Project Honeypot. Whenever they can, they then hand this information on to authorities for prosecution and (presumably) lawsuits. The legal muscle for this seems to be provided by the Internet Law Group.

Anyway, it won't have any effect on the site directly, but it's my little effort to help someone else hunt down the bad guys. If you're on MT 3.0 (or any of the other utilities supported by the Project), I'd strongly recommend setting one up. It's easy, it doesn't seem to increase server load at all, and who knows: it just might work.

MT 3.0, Spam, and Orin Kerr

So, here I am on MT 3.0. I know my site works, and while there's still a few issues with Chris's blog to iron out, but for the most part it's a pleasant improvement. And there's much less spam.

Speaking of which, Prof. Kerr, normally such a technologically with it fellow, seems to have low expectations for law reviews:

While I'm at it, kudos to the editors of the Yale Law Journal for their smart and helpful way of publicizing their latest issue. I knew that the Grimmelmann note was published and online because I signed up for the YLJ's online mailing list. The list sends out an e-mail whenever a new Journal issue is published; the e-mail contains abstracts of each piece in the issue together with links to .pdf copies posted on the Journal's website. It provides a very easy and convenient way for readers to follow, read, and even blog about new scholarship. I hope other law reviews follow the YLJ's lead.

Why stop there, though? Indeed, why even start down the road of targeted mass emails, which is but a thin veil away from spam? If I'm going to be getting law review advertising, I don't want it to be like the spam I get from every web store at which I've made a purchase. Why would I ever read through thirty emails from different law reviews to scan what they're pushing at me?

Instead, wouldn't an enterprising law review start up an RSS feed? Indeed, if that became common, we could just make an aggregation page that announced the newest publications. And better yet, by having a standard form in which articles--or at least links to them--could persist, we could start down the road of having sensible, digital-age citations and move away from the paper-obsessed format of the Bluebook.

June 16, 2005

Upgrading to MT 3.x

Just in case anything goes strange over here or at ChrisGeidner.com, you'll know why...

UPDATE OK, with 3.0 nicely installed, I'm not going to use it for a few days. I'll have time to configure it over the weekend...

UPDATE: Right... some of you will notice that the comments now point at the right thing and I have archives. This is good. I'm hoping to fix the Comments pages shortly. There's a very long story as to why the site was so messed up yesterday--basically, I'd not upgraded MT, I'd made a whole different installation--but it's not very interesting.

I'm currently reinstalling all the plugins that make the place work, and MTFeeds is giving me fits, so the blogroll isn't up. But little by little, things are going to start working again...

Final Update: Right... I think SCode is working now, so I'm going to bed. :)

June 14, 2005

Bit of a Mess Here...

Right... first thing's first. I'm in Manila. Beautiful city, hot and humid, and internet access from the hotel costs me a stupid amount, so I won't be updating until I'm back at my apartment.

Secondly, I apologize for the massive amounts of trackback/comment spam: I simply don't have time to fix MT-Blacklist until I get home. That weekend upgrade to MT 3.0 is looking better and better, though.

Last, but not least: I know I'm not saying a whole lot, but that's merely a sign that the summer is going well, if somewhat busily. With any luck I'll be able to note down some impressions of Hong Kong (shopping), Manila (humidity), and some non-work 2L summer experiences before Friday.

June 12, 2005

Had to Comment on This

I'm a bit late to the table, but I gotta love DNC Chair Howard Dean. Even when some things look to be going badly for the Republicans, Our Man in Montpelier is there to make sure the Democrats will have a hard time capitalizing on it:

Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean, unapologetic in the face of recent criticism that he has been too tough on his political opposition, said in San Francisco this week that Republicans are "a pretty monolithic party. They all behave the same. They all look the same. It's pretty much a white Christian party."

"The Republicans are not very friendly to different kinds of people," Dean said Monday, responding to a question about diversity during a forum with minority leaders and journalists. "We're more welcoming to different folks, because that's the type of people we are. But that's not enough. We do have to deliver on things: jobs and housing and business opportunities."


Yep, that's us. Not friendly to different kinds of people at all. But making blanket statements stereotyping half the voters in the last election to an in-club pot luck is the height of civility.

Gotta love this guy. Please, please can we have a Hilary/Howard ticket in 2008?

Update: I just looked back at the November 7, 2003 post I linked to above, where I wrote in reply to a comment:

Gerald Kaufman once described the Labour Party's New Hope for Britain manifesto for the 1983 general election [as] "The Longest Suicide Note in History."

The Dean campaign may go down in history as the most well-financed.


Scratch that. Given that Dean's campaign led directly to his present post, he may now hold the record for best financed and longest.

Very Annoyed At Trackback Spam

One reason you haven't heard so much from me? When I get home these days after a very long day working, I've generally found over 100 trackback spams in my inbox, generally from the same source. Although it should be easy to get rid of them, MT-Blacklist is causing some trouble. First of all, there's a 3,878 limit on your blacklist entries (i.e. you can block that many sites), and guess what, I hit it last week. Checking my email each day now takes fifteen minutes, as one hundred notifications have to come off the site. And--ugh--there's some database problems with my MT-Blacklist installation (my host has been monkeying with its MySQL settings again), which means removing them isn't as easy as it should be. Oh, yeah, did I mention that all of this spam activity is pushing me towards a bandwidth cap?

A friend of mine once joked that the only reason she didn't support a general ban on the death penalty was that then we'd never be able to apply it to spammers. While that's not the only reason I support the death penalty, any abolitionist had better come up with a pretty damn good counterargument. [1]

So next weekend, it looks like I'll be biting the bullet and upgrading to MT 3.x. This is probably a more difficult task than I'd expect, but we'll hope I can accomplish it with relatively few tears. Yes, it will cost me some money, but it will also give me access to the SpamLookup plugin. Hell, if Jay Allen (the guy behind MT Blacklist) raves about it, it's got to be good.

[1]: OK, so the death penalty for spamming is a bit over the top (but not exactly unheard of humour). Still, if one wanted to get into a Posneresque Law and Econ discussion about it, you could probably justify the death penalty for spammers. Figure that a given trackback spammer is costing me fifteen to twenty minutes a day cleaning up his rubbish. Then figure that he's probably doing that to thousands of people per day. Presuming we shorten his life by the amount of wasted time he's cost others, we probably need to hope that the culprit belongs to a religion that believes in reincarnation if we ever hope to get any form of justice.

June 09, 2005

It's been a day

Oh yes, it has been a day. And it will probably continue to be for a few days. I've not had time to properly update the blog recently, between a lot of time at work, the grading of law review write ons [1], and work on getting bits of the Journal of Law and Social Parody up and running. (More on that later.)

But oh, if I could have written anything recently, it would have been a piece for this carnival of the gamers. Some of you know why the formatting is so cool. Some of you need an explanation.

>OPEN MAILBOX . . .


[1]: Why does Columbia always choose to focus on Title VII? My moot court topic, my Civ Pro class, even part of my write on was Title VII! Enough already, there are other areas of law!

June 06, 2005

The Only Wisdom About Star Wars You Really Need

Right here.

Not Really What I Meant

So, I'm trying to explain to a friend here how the Cravath building in New York looks like a giant pencil. Imagine my surprise: searching Google Images for cravath new york turns up a starting image that's surprisingly close to Not Safe For Work.

Ah, the Internet.

June 05, 2005

Glad To See Someone Saying it

Via the Anchoress, an interesting article by a gay man who runs an enormous unofficial Disney World website, and whose support for the "homosexual agenda" (along with its Powerpoint) is outweighed by his love of the Mouse:

I’ve watched over the years as Gay Days has grown in scope and size. What once was a small group of well meaning gay men and lesbians has grown – and in my opinion, deformed – into what is now nothing more than a vile spectacle of self indulgence and indecency.

. . . .

Over the years I have heard about, and have witnessed, what is commonly referred to as PDA (public displays of affection) during gay days, and almost always it’s done in full view of a family, or at least children. I don’t care if you’re straight or gay, there are some things kids don’t need to see – and trust me, two queens frenching outside Cinderella castle is really high on that list.


How true. And before anyone jumps on me for saying it, let me say also that if I were to arrange for myself and several thousand other heterosexuals to show up for PDA-Day (well, assuming I knew my ass from my Axim), and we spent the hours in the sun making like an oversexed episode of the O.C., I'd hope the religious right, reasonable homosexuals, maybe even Maureen Dowd and Ann Coulter would unite in calling me a cad. Hey, Disney set up a whole separate area of the park as an "adult playground," albeit probably with less latex than the term normally evokes among adults. The problem with Gay Day isn't that society shouldn't respect homosexuality, but that adults should respect that in some areas sexuality has no place. Donald Duck wears no pants, but it's not risque because we're not supposed to be wondering what he and Daisy (or Goofy, for that matter) get up to without them.

I'd hit the obvious counterargument, but Mr. Werner did it so well:

The argument is often put forth that since Christian groups congregate at Disney World, why not us? Fair enough, except that the ‘Night of Joy’ (the Christian concert that takes place at the Magic Kingdom each year) is a hard ticket event – meaning that it’s not open to the public, and requires separate admission. The Magic Kingdom is closed down to the public at a certain time, and only those people that CHOOSE to be there are allowed in. Families that come to the Magic Kingdom on Gay Days are not afforded the luxury of choice. Since Disney does not sanction the event, it’s not mentioned anywhere, or to anyone booking a reservation during that week. If “Gay Day” at the Magic Kingdom was a hard ticket event like the Night of Joy, sign me up. But it’s not – it’s far from it. Trust me, if a religious group organized 100,000 Christians to go and ‘make yourself known’ in the Magic Kingdom one day a year – and began rubbing their lifestyles in the faces of visitors by preaching to them as they tried to ride Space Mountain – plenty of people would be up in arms.

Here, here to both ideas. Any preacher trying to heckle the queued-up masses deserves a sudden bolt of heavenly disapproval.

Of course, as the Anchoress points out, Mr. Werner will now never get either Senator Schumer's or Planned Parenthood's support if he's ever nominated to the judiciary. Let's hope he doesn't hope for a career on a federal court of appeals.

Update: Even worse, when you think about it, is the several times that Mr. Werner feels compelled in his essay to stop and assert his liberal credentials. "I have a liberal streak that cuts through me like a hot knife through butter..." "And before I get any emails from my gay brethren calling me a ‘self loathing aunt tom’ (someone actually called me that once), let me be clear – I’m proud of who and what I am." There's something a bit disturbing about this, not in Werner's words, but in that he thinks his natural political allies require him to say such things merely because he wants the Magic Kingdom to keep its twinkle. Glad you're proud of yourself, Mr. Werner. I'm proud of you, too.

A9.com: Gotta Be Something Wrong With This

So here's a technology and ethics question I can't answer.

Suppose I'm doing some research at work, and don't want to incur Lexis's charges. (There's something in me that rejects the idea of paying for Lexis fees for preliminary research, given that often I'm just correcting my ignorance of a matter, rather than hitting the complicated facts.) Heretofore, I've mostly used Google to find some basic sources and plan out a research strategy before even thinking of a paid research database. But that's slowly changing.

In the last few days, I've taken to using both Google and A9, Amazon's search engine, though not at work (update: and not for work purposes), for reasons I describe below. A9 doesn't have the scope that Google does, but it's curiously good at indexing legal websites, which gives it an edge on legal issues. And more importantly, it gives me a history of websearches stored in folders. Nowadays, I often find myself searching with both Amazon and Google simultaneously, seeing what I can find before I have to hit a pay service: Google for the better results, Amazon for the history.

What worries me about this is the idea of using it at work. First, there's the confidentiality issue: if A9 is storing searches under my name, then presumably they're able to figure out (a) what I was searching for, and perhaps (b) why I wanted it. There may be client confidentiality concerns with regards to this. (On the other hand, I may be being overly, or perhaps insufficiently paranoid. After all, it wouldn't take much for Google to compile a similar dossier on me, although it would be slightly more difficult because they'd have to use IP tracking.) I haven't really thought that one through yet.

But secondly, A9 offers a discount on Amazon purchases if you use it over a certain amount. As of yet, I've not reached that threshold, but given the amount of research I do, I'm sure I'll hit it soon. That benefit, of course, is keyed to my account, and couldn't be recouped by either my employer or any client for whom I might be researching.

So what I'm wondering is this: do I run into any ethical problems from accepting a discount for using a research tool for client work? (Update: As I said, I've not used it at work yet, so I guess that ought to be, "Would I run into any ethical problems?")

Update: On the other hand, I may simply stop using Amazon on moral, rather than ethical grounds:

How can we afford this?
Sponsored links revenue — from the small text-based ads on A9.com and Amazon.com search results pages — will help offset costs we incur through the Instant Reward promotion. With our automatic π/2% Instant Reward, we are effectively sharing with you some of the money we collect from sponsored links, i.e. sharing the pi.

I don't know if it's against the Model Rules, but puns like that are simply evil.

It's Getting Drafty Again, or How Eugene Volokh Almost Singlehandedly Saves the Huffington Post from Becoming A Left-Wing Echo Chamber

It's no longer fun to make fun of the Huffington Post. The big and serious boys of the liberal blogosphere, as opposed to the celebrity-obsessed bits, have the virtue of having writers with serious opinions and the wits to back them up. The Post seems to think that blogging is nothing more than stringing together a list of rhetorical questions, assuming the answer is self-evident, and making no further attempt at analysis. Take, for example, Bill Diamond, writing about this draft that people like Brian Leiter have been predicting, due... err... months ago?:

I refuse to believe that the world has changed so much that 18-year-olds today are any more anxious to die or be maimed on the battlefield than I was back in the late '70s. But given all the talk about the possible reinstatement of the draft, why aren't we hearing more from the nation’s campuses? Is there resistance brewing and it's just not getting reported? Or is it, as I think Jim is suggesting, that college-aged students have become so narcotized by our entertainment-obsessed culture that they don’t see what may be headed their way?

Yeah, Bill: college students are morons too busy watching Spongebob battle to save the Crabby Patty to worry about whether we get drafted. ("We" being inclusive if you believe the worst Leiter-esque bits of the conspiracy theory, in which I'm still draft age.) Please, Bill, go sip another latte, crank the Patronize dial down from 11, and leave us in peace. Or here's a better idea: before you decide to spew drivel all over the internet, why not go talk to a college student, or visit a college campus, or even read a few blogs not run by B-list celebrity wannabees? It's not like finding a college blogger on the internet is a particular challenge. (Here's a hint for a start: Livejournal. Don't say I never did anything for you.)

What I want to know is why Prof. Volokh is slumming it over at the Post. Almost alone among his co-authors, he actually tries to answer the questions he poses. Indeed, he tried to give Bill a pointer:

From what I've heard, the talk is mostly from people who don't like the Administration, who oppose the war in Iraq, and who are using the talk to argue against the war.

The Administration is saying it doesn't want a draft. The political party in power in Congress seems to have no interest in reinstating the draft. The minority party seems to have no interest in reinstating the draft. Last time the draft was proposed in Congress, obviously as an anti-war statement rather than as a serious proposal, it was defeated 402-2. As best I can tell, the military has no interest in the draft. And reinstating the draft would be lousy politics, not the sort of thing that a barely-majority party would really want to do.

Is that the stuff that protest movements are made of? "We're resisting the draft that may be headed our way! Everyone in power agrees with us that there shouldn't be a draft! Rumsfeld says there shouldn't be a draft! Congress says there shouldn't be a draft! But we're resisting anyway!"


It's certainly the kind of imaginary hobgoblin that Bill Diamond seems to thrive on. What I want to know is when Prof. Volokh's going to get tired of answering this kind of question.

June 04, 2005

A Few Changes...

I can't say I've been very good about writing--although that's going to change real soon--but at least I've had time to make a few changes around the site. Not enough for a redesign like Ambimb or Republic of T have done, but those of you who use my "classic" skin will see a slight change, as it's now 3L year.

(You may have to hit CTRL-F5 to refresh your cache.)

June 02, 2005

MicroClimate

I promise I'll catch up with blogging this weekend, when I should have time away from a job with (knock on wood) a working computer. But in the meantime, let me explain one slight issue I'm having with Hong Kong: humidity and air conditioning.

The air conditioning system in the building where I'm living is, to say the least, active. At even the medium setting, it keeps my room so cold I feel I need long sleeves. I have no idea who designed this much air conditioning.

Sadly, it's also very humid. As a result, if I ever leave the apartment with the air conditioner runnin, when I come home, enough humidity has fallen out of the air that paper is wet, my clothes on the shelves feel slightly damp, and my covers feel like someone--albeit a very clean someone--has already been there.

I may simply not be cut out for wet climes... needless to say, the air conditioner is going to be turned off...

Giving The Devil His Due

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A9.com: Gotta Be Something Wrong With This (8)
RM wrote: Why not create two separate account... [more]

It's Getting Drafty Again, or How Eugene Volokh Almost Singlehandedly Saves the Huffington Post from Becoming A Left-Wing Echo Chamber (1)
Tony the Pony wrote: I remain mystified why this interes... [more]

A Few Changes... (2)
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My city. But darker.
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A Clockwork Orange

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Technical Difficulties... please stand by....
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the imbroglio
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