Archive for November, 2005

Shocking News: Michael Brown Rejects Destitution

Sunday, November 27th, 2005

I was with some older family members over the holiday, so I ended up having to watch the evening network news. I saw a story about ex-FEMA Director Michael Brown starting up a disaster preparedness consulting firm. The tone of the piece, and many like it, was incredulous, or almost mocking. Forbes asked if “it takes one to know one?” I realize that many people who followed Brown’s response to Hurricane Katrina might have the initial reaction that I would have had to, say, the founding of the Clinton-Nixon School of Ethics. I guess I have two responses to that sentiment (which I’ll admit, was my initial gut take on it, too).

First, what do you really expect Brown to do? I suppose he could go back to the quarterhorse association or wherever he came from. But did people really expect Brown to take a vow of poverty, flagellate himself with a cat o’ nine tails, and go live in a cave where no one can see his shame? The man needs a job, and he might as well make some money off the fact that when you think of disasters, Michael Brown’s name comes to mind.

Second, maybe this is a ridiculous venture. But let the market decide that. If disaster planners think Brown learned some valuable lessons, they’ll pay him what he’s worth. If everyone thinks it’s a liability to have Brown giving preparedness advice, he’ll go out of business. Yes, I think it sucks that he had to get his training the hard way. And I’m not necessarily saying I would ask his advice. But if some people will, why not let him charge them for it? Now that’s the American dream!

ALL-REQUEST: Study Groups

Monday, November 21st, 2005

Kristine asks “What is the best way to fire a member of a study group? The following conditions apply: the group is only 3 people, he’s the only guy, and he is totally excited to keep working together next semester.”

I may not be the best person to ask. And no, I’m not going to give you some weepy story about two girls kicking me out of their study group. I never did much group study in law school. I only came close three times. As a 1L, I would sometimes sit around before Torts and talk through the assignment with a couple of classmates. By that point, it was too late to really be “studying,” so it was more like just making sure none of us would say anything really stupid once we went into class. I also did some group exam prep before my Admin Law final (I did poorly), and my Evidence final (I did well). So I’m not even really sure how study groups work.

With that caveat, I think the easiest way to kick the guy is also the shadiest. Tell him you’re disbanding the group, and then continue to meet with the third member. He’ll probably never find out, and if he does, you can just say you were hanging out with your female friend and accidentally started studying.

You didn’t say why you didn’t want him in your group anymore. If the problem is something you think he can correct, it might be worth giving him another shot. If you just don’t like him, that’s tougher. I guess maybe you could say that you wanted to use your study groups to get to know other people in your class, but that sounds a mite touchy-feely for law school. It would sound more appropriate to most law schools if you just told the guy flat-out that he was dragging you down.

Without knowing more about how study groups work, and what the problem here is, it’s hard to offer a better answer. Sorry, and good luck.

Random Thoughts

Monday, November 14th, 2005

Here are a few items I’ve noted might be post-worthy, but ultimately never got around to expanding on. Anyway, I thought I would clear them off my ledger and offer some brief thoughts.

1. Maybe Hugo Chavez should run for office in Dover, PA. After last week’s election in York County resulted in the ouster of pro-Intelligent Design school board members, evangelist Pat Robertson said that Dover citizens shouldn’t look to God if there’s a disaster there, because they’ve “rejected” God. Here’s a nice local response. I guess I’m confused because I thought ID wasn’t supposed to be, necessarily, about God. You know, if I were writing a movie about a situation like this, the evangelist character would eventually snap and do something like take out the dam above the town, so he could “prove” that God had foresaken the people. I’m not saying Robertson would do something like that, but he spends a lot of time predicting disasters. So much time that one might think that his credibility would eventually hinge on him being correct. I’m just saying.

2. Perhaps I don’t have the credibility to say this after snarking at Pat Robertson above, and I really don’t want to start a fuss over it, but let me just say that I think it’s possible — just theoretically possible — to say the phrase “Happy Holidays” and not necessarily mean “I hate Jesus.” And that’s all I’ll say about it.

3. This may be the weirdest story I’ve seen in a while. The title is “The Hustler, the Heiress, and the Soft Porn King,” and if that doesn’t lure you in, no headline ever will. As the author notes, it’s like Six Degrees of Separation meets “Girls Gone Wild.”

4. Here’s an interesting essay in “The Weekly Standard” about how the Republican Party can reach out to lower- and middle-class voters. There are some good ideas in here, but I don’t think the GOP will adopt many of them. But it’s nice to see conservatives recognize that having so many uninsured Americans is a real problem.

5. Here’s one from Judge Posner in “The New Republic” about how the federal government, by its nature, may be incapable of dealing with catastrophes like Hurricane Katrina. (It has a lot to do with not being able to take the long view and do cost-benefit analysis.) I’ve been doing some reading about this issue, and I may have more to say later.

6. Last week the Freakonomics bloggers asked “Why Vote?” and noting that economists almost universally consider voting to be a worthless act, because there’s essentially no chance your particular vote will be the one that matters (and even if it were the single vote that mattered, it’s not as if the candidates would know that in time to make it worth casting your vote for one of them). I can understand these arguments, but I still vote (most of the time). For one thing, as some of the commenters there posited, voting is a social act, and people want to think of themselves as someone who participates in the system and fulfills a civic duty. That has value to them. Also, the best analogy I’ve ever heard for voting is that it’s like cheering at a sporting event. It’s almost impossible that your individual cheer will make any difference in the outcome. But you still do it because it’s an expressive act, you feel good doing it whether it matters or not, and perhaps because of a sense that the game/election is better if more people participate — an election where a lot of people vote is like a game where the crowd gets really into it. So anyway, that’s why I vote: it’s like cheering for Team America!

8. Speaking of voting, here’s a funny story from the Sacramento Bee “Insider” blog. Last week, when California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger went to vote in the state’s ballot measures, it turned out that he was listed as having already voted. Problem was, he hadn’t. “Schwarzenegger” seems like a hard name to make a mistake with. The Gov. wasn’t trying to stuff the ballot boxes. It seems that poll workers had used his name to test the voting machines, and then had forgotten to erase their test. So even though all the ballot measures Schwarzenegger backed were defeated, at least his vote was counted (but only once).

9. Speaking of Schwarzenegger, he’s about to face another difficult political test. As noted in sveral stories linked at How Appealing, Crips gang founder and death row inmate Stan “Tookie” Williams has petitioned Gov. Schwarzenegger for executive clemency. The execution is scheduled for December 13. I’ve been following this case since way back here, and I will be interested to see what Schwarzenegger does.

10. Lots of good stuff lately at Warren St. John’s Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer blog, the Fanopticon (and see my review of RJYH here). I’m sure Warren’s down after the Tide’s loss yesterday, so I thought I’d send some traffic his way. It’s worth a visit just for the pictures he has up now.

11. I’ve recently discovered the web comic Questionable Content. It’s probably semi-work-safe at best. But it’s funny and insightful. It’s the adventures of a “frustrated 20-something music nerd” and his friends. I’ve been working my way through the archives, and there’s a lot of good material there.

12. On a personal note, I feel like I’ve been suffering from a brain cloud lately. Maybe it’s seasonal. Maybe I’m just missing Fitz. Maybe…never mind. Anyway, I’m not going to do anything drastic, but I feel like I need to shake things up a little. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: 7. As Dylan helpfully pointed out, I misnumbered and forgot #7. So, here’s a bonus item, Mike Tyson and Bobby Brown singing “The Monster Mash” on Jimmy Kimmel’s Halloween show. I’m not saying Dylan reminded me of those guy, though.

Channelling Jay Leno

Tuesday, November 8th, 2005


Did you see this in the news? Two Carolina Panthers cheerleaders were arrested this weekend after having sex in a bar bathroom. Team officials said they wouldn’t discipline the cheerleaders because now every guy in America is a Panthers fan!

Seriously, two cheerleaders have sex and then go to jail? They must have gotten the idea from, I don’t know, my favorite movie of all time! Not everyone is happy about it, though: Hugh Hefner is planning to sue the cheerleaders for copyright infringement!

The two cheerleaders are already getting tons of offers for interviews and media appearances. They’re even negotiating to start a talk show:

Some members of Congress are reacting to the cheerleaders’ story. They’ve been debating a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, but now it’s been altered to read, “No gay marriage, except for hot cheerleaders!”

Actually, they might be facing serious legal trouble. In fact, Bill Clinton has decided to drop his Hurricane Katrina fundraising effort and start working on the cheerleaders’ legal defense fund! Clinton made a statement that “throwing these two young cheerleaders in jail after having sex constitutes cool and unusual punishment!

Other celebrities are coming to the cheerleaders’ defense, too. Martha Stewart said, “It would have been a lot more fun being at the bottom of the pyramid of my prison cheerleading squad with teammates like these!”

You know, the Panthers’ cheerleading squad is known as the TopCats. That gave their lawyer an idea for a defense in court: They weren’t having sex, they were cleaning themselves!