June 13, 2006

Grade skipping

Ann Althouse blogs about how grade skipping is coming back into vogue:

I remember when grade-skipping went out of fashion. It was right around the time when I was in grade school. My mother told me later that they wanted me to skip, and she was adamantly against it. I was outraged that I wasn't asked and that I was stuck with a whole extra year of sitting in a classroom.

Everyone's experience is different, of course, which is part of the point that Prof. Althouse is making (her mom skipped a grade, hated it, and resolved not to make the same "mistake" for her daughter).  There are undeniable benefits to grade skipping, as Prof. Althouse notes: no need for "gifted" classes, more efficiency, etc.

At the same time, I wonder if she discounts too quickly the conventional explanation given for not having kids skip grades: "The whole explanation was a social one, as if life will be so wonderful if only you're surrounded by kids your own age."

I skipped a grade somewhere between 6th and 10th grades (unclear which one -- long story), and also have a birthday late in the year, which meant that I was 14 when I started 11th grade.  Being skinny and also only 5'5" was not exactly an ideal physical state to be in.  By the time I started college at 16, at least I was 5'10", but then I was only 120 pounds.  (Running cross-country that first quarter eliminated any possibility of the "freshman 15," which would have been a welcome gain in my case.)  I can't say that I was scarred irrevocably by the whole experience, since I am quite happy where I am now, and the twists and turns that brought me here almost certainly wouldn't have happened if I hadn't set off for college at 16.

But at the same time, the social aspect of schooling is not an insignificant one, and being a scrawny, small 14 year old amongst a bunch of much bigger 16 year olds -- even when intellectual I was at least their match -- was almost certainly suboptimal in a lot of ways.

Which leads me to wonder whether grade skipping causes more social problems for boys than it does girls.  After all, girls mature physically and emotionally faster and earlier than boys do, so a 14 year old girl may (in general) be more capable of coping in an environment full of 16 year old girls and boys than a 14 year old boy would be able to.

Posted by Tung Yin on June 13, 2006 at 04:22 PM in Random Thoughts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 11, 2006

"110 People Who Are Screwing Up America"

So I'm enjoying Bernard Goldberg's book, "110 People Who Are Screwing Up America (And Al Franken is #37)" but I'm surprised at some notable omissions.  First, let's review his methodology.  In explaining why President Bush wasn't on the list, Goldberg writes:

I'm not at all happy with what's going on in Iraq, or with so-called conservatives spending our money like drunken sailors.  But this is a book about the culture -- not about politics or politicians.  Yes, there are a few politicians on The List, and yes, most of them are liberals -- but look closely and you'll see that they're not there because of ideology.  They got there for lowering the level of civil discourse in this country -- or for their shameless willingness to destroy decent people.

Fair enough.  Let's start with the first notable omission: Ann Coulter.  I blog now with the advantage of Coulter's latest reprehensible screed, that she had never seen anyone "enjoy[] their husbands' deaths so much" as the 9/11 widows.  If I really think hard about it and give Coulter far more of the benefit of the doubt than she deserves, I think perhaps what she was trying to say was the the 9/11 widows didn't have any special expertise in foreign policy or national security just because they happened to be more direct victims of the 9/11 attacks.  But if that's what she meant, she certainly could have been far more clear and tactful and far less inflammatory than when given the opportunity by Matt Lauer.  Instead, she just attacked him.

In fact, given Goldberg's definition, I don't see how Coulter isn't #1 -- or at least top 5.  I mean, screeching that the 9/11 widows' "shelf life is dwindling" so they'd "better appear in Playboy" is pretty much a textbook example of "shameless willingness to destroy decent people."

But even before this latest calumny, which post-dates Goldberg's book, there was the infamous "[w]e should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity" suggestion.

Okay, besides Ann Coulter, why not George Bush?  #99 on Goldberg's list is Matt Lesko, the annoying late-night TV guy who screams about "free free free!!!" money from the government.  Goldberg writes persuasively:

Once, it was understood by almost everyone that there is no free lunch and that you got yours, as the old commercial had it, "the old-fashioned way" -- you earned it!  But now, this joker caters to a mindset that believes there's not only free lunch, but free dinner, and free midnight snacks, and a takeout bag if you're still hungry later on.  Matthew Lesko is the Pied Piper for way too many Americans who are only interested in themselves.

I completely agree with all of this, but this is also what I see in our current President, such as the ridiculous 2003 Medicare spending bill whose projected cost jumped from $400 billion at the time it was being debated to over $500 billion after the bill was passed by Congress and signed into law.  The bill seems like it was nothing more than a transparent attempt to induce senior citizens to vote for the President in 2004.  It certainly wasn't an example of fiscal restraint, because the funding for this $400 billion $534 billion bill wasn't coming out of other spending projects, seeing as how the President still has not vetoed a single bill in his entire Presidency.

Then there were the steel tariffs that President Bush sought successfully in 2002, benefitting Rust Belt states in time for the fall 2002 elections; the tariffs were lifted in 2003.

"Free lunches," "too many Americans only interested in themselves" . . . Describes much of the President's domestic strategy.

Don't get me wrong -- I can't quibble with Goldberg's selections, especially Michael Moore (#1), Ted Kennedy (#3), former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore (#21), Latrell Spreewell (#30), Markos Moulitsas (#52), David Duke (#66), Ward Churchill (#72), and Paris Hilton's parents (#100).  I just think that Goldberg is more lenient on conservatives than his principles would suggest.

Speaking of Paris Hilton, I have to say that although I like to make fun of Donald Trump as much as the next blogger, I'm actually impressed at how his kids, Ivanka and Donald Jr., have turned out.  First, you don't hear a lot about them, which suggests that they actually work, as opposed to make a living by being a pseudo-celebrity.  Second, when they were on "The Apprentice," they seemed to exhibit reasonably good business sense, unlike, say, Martha Stewart's daughter, who contributed virtually nothing to the show.  Third, when asked what it was like growing up, Donald Jr. had the capacity of self-evaluation to realize that you couldn't say it was tough growing up when you got to go on vacation to fancy places; but that he (and Ivanka) were glad that Trump still made them work.

Posted by Tung Yin on June 11, 2006 at 09:26 PM in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 09, 2006

How mighty is Iowa?

So mighty that the most powerful class of U.S. Navy battleships were the "Iowa-class battleship."  The Wiki even describes them as "amongst the most attractive battleships ever built."

Too bad that the Navy doesn't use battleships anymore, and aircraft carriers are named after U.S. Presidents.  (Has Iowa produced any U.S. Presidents?)

UPDATE: Okay, it turns out that I should have known that Herbert Hoover was from Iowa, since he grew up not more than 10 miles from where I live!  But the U.S.S. Herbert Hoover, that just doesn't sound very mighty.

Posted by Tung Yin on June 9, 2006 at 03:38 PM in Iowa | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

The persistence of memory and bad TV show endings

I've been rewatching season 4 of "24" while using the treadmill, and despite all of its wild implausibilities, "24" is probably my favorite show of all time.

Of course, ten years ago, I would have said that about "The X-Files," for 10 years ago was just after the first three seasons of that show, when the government/alien conspiracy arc was at its most effectively ambiguous.  Then, the show started to collapse from the weight of internal inconsistency, lazy writing, annoying characters, until by the end, it was a relief that the show finally ended.

What I draw from this is that it may not seem like it at the time, but an early cancellation is better than a late one.  Take "The Pretender," a show about a supergenius being chased by the Centre; kind of like "Doogie Houser" meets "The Fugitive."  After four seasons, NBC canceled it, leaving a cliffhanger ending.  TNT acquired the syndication rights and produced two TV movies that also ended with a cliffhanger.  That's annoying, but at least the show was still strong (in terms of writing) when it was killed off.  So I have good memories of that show.

Or "Nowhere Man," a show about a photographer on the run from a mysterious conspiracy; his existence has been erased so that his wife doesn't know who he is, etc.  This show lasted just one season: the debut season for UPN.  At least it was given notice that it wasn't going to be renewed, so that the last episode does tie things up.  I would've liked another season, but it too ended on a high note.

Not all shows that remained good to the end were canceled prematurely.  "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" both ended on their own terms and remained enjoyable to the end.

But then there are the counterexamples, those shows like "The X-Files," that hung on way too long.  "Alias" is a prime offender.  While I never held it in the same high esteem as I did with "La Femme Nikita" (itself a show marred by a terrible last season), I did like "Alias" quite a bit in season 1 and 2.  But season 3 was bad, and season 4 was so awful that I didn't bother watching season 5 at all.

The original "Star Trek" probably should fall into this category, as the last season (3) contains some of the worst hours of TV programming imaginable.  (The episode "Spock's Brain," anyone?)  However, since I only caught this show in syndicated reruns, it didn't have the same impact as when you're watching a show organically.

How do these lessons reflect on some of my current TV shows?  Mostly, I'm worried about "24" and "Lost."  It's too bad that the economics of TV shows dictate a preference for 5-10 years of a show, so that there are enough episodes to run in syndication (though 3 years is generally deemed sufficient, I think).  The problem arises if that forces a show to last longer than it should, just to stretch things out and to make more money for the production studio and the network.  I'd like to hope that the producers of these shows will realize when it's time to wrap things up.

Memories of the bad endings of TV shows drag down the entire show.

Posted by Tung Yin on June 9, 2006 at 01:23 PM in Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

June 08, 2006

"Death is life for us"?

So says Al Qaeda about yesterday's killing of terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi:

"We want to give you the joyous news of the martyrdom of the mujahed sheik Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

"The death of our leaders is life for us. It will only increase our persistence in continuing holy war so that the word of God will be supreme."

I hesitate to apply Western thinking to this statement, as there's a danger in applying one's own cultural biases to expressions by persons from different cultures/values/etc.  Still, does Al Qaeda's statement make sense?  I mean, if they think it's joyous that al-Zarqawi was killed (and therefore "martyred"), we seem to share a common goal.  I'm sure that our military would like to help bring them more joyous news.  If only Osama bin Laden would just surrender . . . .

I should be clear that I don't mean to be mocking Al Qaeda's perception that al-Zarqawi has martyred himself, or even that his death might not inspire more terrorism.  All of that is entirely possible.  What I do wonder is how it can be "joyous," as opposed to something like "regrettable but constructive."

Posted by Tung Yin on June 8, 2006 at 02:59 PM in World Events | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Games lawyers play

For two lawyers who can't agree even on where a deposition should be held, even though they have offices in the same building, those games now include, per a judge's order, rock, scissors, paper.

Posted by Tung Yin on June 8, 2006 at 11:56 AM in Law (General) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Justice, Vegas style

The L.A. Times has a fascinating article about how messed up the legal system in Nevada is, with lawyers holding fundraisers for judges' reelection campaigns.  It's so messed up that some of the judges who were interviewed didn't even see that as a conflict of interest.

Ah, that's why we have diversity of citizenship jurisdiction, to protect out-of-staters from this unseemly home court bias, right?  Well, according to the story:

Las Vegas is a town where James C. Mahan, 62, who served initially on the state bench and is now a federal judge, awarded more than $4.8 million in judgments and fees during more than a dozen cases in which a recent search of court records found no statement that he disclosed his ties to those who benefited. Mahan, who sometimes wears a holstered semiautomatic pistol on his right hip while sitting at his desk in the U.S. courthouse, approved court fees for a former business associate who twice served as his judicial campaign treasurer and was instrumental in his federal appointment.

Mahan approved additional fees for his former law partner, who was providing free legal services for the judge's wife and the judge's executive judicial assistant and with whom he still had financial ties, including property ownership and a profit-sharing arrangement.

In an interview, Mahan said the relationships made no difference in his decisions. "I don't care who the attorneys are," he said. He denied seeing any conflict of interest and grew angry at being questioned.

Oops . . . .

Posted by Tung Yin on June 8, 2006 at 11:04 AM in Law (General) | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

June 06, 2006

Wonder what Saddam Hussein has to say about this

Somebody spammed my blog earlier with a link to the Saddam Dump, a blog-excerpt from a forthcoming book.  I wonder what the real Saddam Hussein blogger has to say about this.

Posted by Tung Yin on June 6, 2006 at 06:46 PM in Humor | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Do you prefer your BSG sweet and dumb, or dark and complex?

Dirk Benedict, who played Starbuck in the original "Battlestar Galactica," recently wrote an article that was highly critical of the new "Battlestar Galactica" series and Hollywood today.  The title itself should give a sense of where he's coming from: "Starbuck: Lost in Castration."

To put that in context, one of the things that Benedict is complaining about is that in the new series, the Starbuck character is a woman played by Katee Sackhoff:

Starbuck would become "Stardoe". What the Suits of yesteryear had been incapable of doing to Starbuck 25 years ago was accomplished quicker than you can say orchiectomy. Much quicker. As in, "Frak! Gonads Gone!" And the word went out to all the Suits in all the smoke-free offices throughout the land of Un-imagination, "Starbuck is dead. Long live Stardoe!"

Benedict also doesn't have very good things to say about the new series:

Witness the "re-imagined" Battlestar Galactica. It's bleak, miserable, despairing, angry and confused. Which is to say, it reflects, in microcosm, the complete change in the politics and mores of today's world as opposed to the world of yesterday. The world of Lorne Greene (Adama) and Fred Astaire (Starbuck's Poppa), and Dirk Benedict (Starbuck). I would guess Lorne is glad he's in that Big Bonanza in the sky and well out of it. Starbuck, alas, has not been so lucky. He's not been left to pass quietly into that trivial world of cancelled TV characters.

Well, Benedict's other major role was as Faceman in "The A-Team."  Coincidentally, with the summer upon us, I've been slumming a bit in my TV watching by catching up on reruns of "The A-Team" on TV Land.  As a nerdy teenager during the early 1980s, I was an obvious target of "The A-Team," a cheesy show about a bunch of Vietnam vets falsely accused of a military crime who escape to L.A. and make a living as mercenaries for hire.  But then I went off to college and never saw the last season, where apparently they were captured by Robert Vaughn and forced to work on government missions.

The thing about "The A-Team" is that it exists in the world that could only make sense to teenaged boys, where you can fire several hundred rounds of an automatic rifle at point blank range and never hit, much less, kill anyone.  (In fact, during the first four seasons, the only person I can remember getting killed was in the pilot episode.)  The world of "The A-Team" was one where small town sheriffs were corrupt, local farmers were always victims, and if you locked the A-Team in a shed, they would build a tank out of the available materials.

I guess if that's the kind of show that Benedict thinks is what Hollywood should aspire too, then it's not a surprise that he would find the new BSG series bleak, etc.  But I have the sense that TV audiences have evolved in their TV intelligence, which is why complex shows like "24" and "Lost" are doing so well in the ratings, and ones like "Veronica Mars" do well with the critics.

It's too bad.  I liked the charm that Benedict brought to the original BSG.  But his attitude toward the new show and the new Starbuck are really disappointing.

Posted by Tung Yin on June 6, 2006 at 02:26 PM in Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Three arms are not better than two, I guess

Here's a strange story about a Chinese baby who was born with three arms (two left, one right), which apparently happens frequently enough that doctors were able to say that this boy's case was a "rare" instance in which both left arms were equally well-developed. . . .

Posted by Tung Yin on June 6, 2006 at 12:36 PM in Science | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 05, 2006

New Army Field Manual and Geneva

The new U.S. Army Field Manual is going to omit reference to Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention, which prohibits degrading and humiliating treatment.  As law prof Oona Hathaway, who's quoted in the story notes, this is going to reinforce the idea that we are doing really bad things to people at Guantanamo Bay (and elsewhere).

Posted by Tung Yin on June 5, 2006 at 12:29 PM in Law (General) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 03, 2006

Bad news for the L.A. entertainment industry

One of the things that makes Los Angeles, where I grew up and moved to Iowa from, different from all other "sprawl" cities like Phoenix, Houston, and so on is the ubiquitous entertainment industry.  Half the people you meet in L.A. are aspiring actors or screenwriters.  I wasn't at all tied into the entertainment industry, and yet I know a number of people who are listed on imdbA guy who was in a movie starring Deborah Foreman worked at the test prep company I worked for, and a woman who worked in the word processing unit at the law firm I worked at has had a reasonably successful career guest starring in TV shows ranging from "CSI" to "The Practice" to "Boston Legal."  I've had college classmates who were recognizable extras in the Val Kilmer movie "Real Genius," and I once walked past Eddie Murphy when scenes from "Beverly Hills Cop 2" were filmed at Caltech.

In fact, for L.A. lawyers, you can't help but work on "entertainment law" if you go to one of the major law firms.  (Of course, entertainment law is mostly contract drafting and contract litigation, as far as I could tell from the associate's point of view.)

That's why this story is bad news for L.A.: the number of TV pilots being filmed there is decreasing as other cities compete with tax breaks and other benefits.  Since at least the early 1990s, Vancouver, Canada, had emerged as a plausible alternative -- notably, "The X-Files" was produced in L.A. but the filming in seasons 1-5 took place in Canada.  Like L.A., Vancouver has a (somewhat) temperate climate that allows year-round filming, and the architecture is sufficiently generic that it can pass for most North American cities.

For however much fun people make of L.A. about the purported shallowness of the entertainment industry (but hey, I don't see how San Franciscans are in a position to mock Angelenos when one look at the newspapers of the respective regions would suggest that the latter are much more sophisticated), it's a very real part of L.A.'s character.

Posted by Tung Yin on June 3, 2006 at 12:42 PM in Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 02, 2006

Review of Jeremy Blachman's "Anonymous Lawyer"

I finished Jeremy Blachman's "Anonymous Lawyer" the other night -- in one sitting, essentially -- and now I've gotten around to organizing my thoughts about it.

First of all, it's VERY readable.  I read fiction pretty quickly as it is, but this 270+ page book took me maybe two hours to read.  That's largely a testament to Jeremy's talent as a writer, and partly to the "I'll just read one more post" nature of writing a book in blog format.

In fact, though the entire book consists of nothing but blog posts and e-mails, the supporting characters such as the Anonymous Niece, the Musician (a summer associate at the Anonymous Law Firm), and the Bombshell (a senior associate at the firm) manage to show distinct personalities.  I was quite impressed with Jeremy's skill at developing these characters.

The Anonymous Lawyer, however, was a less successful character.  He's funny in his mean-spirited, misanthropic way, and as I was reading the book, I kept reminding myself that this was obviously meant as a satirical, rather than realistic, depiction of life in a large law firm.  I suspect that non-lawyers (and perhaps lawyers who've never practiced in a big firm) will have an easier time just going with the flow of the story.  I do think, however, that the parts of the story that reflect the type of incidents that Jeremy presumably saw as a 2L summer associate (the summer associate events, the summer associate archetypes, and so on) came across as not only more true to reality but also funnier than the over-the-top parts, such as Anon Lawyer's observation that he was better than the Jerk because he waited until the pregnant support staffer came back from maternity leave before firing her.

One other example of how I think that Jeremy did a terrific job with the limited experience he had as a summer associate but where the limits of that experience are reflected in the story lies in the competition between Anon Lawyer and his rival, the aforementioned Jerk.  Anon Lawyer takes to measuring the square footage of their respective offices, cheering that his is seven square feet larger.  He notes how they were both the first third year associates put on the hiring committee.  And so on.  What's missing in the competition, however, are two obvious and very significant points -- revenues generated by each partner, and each partner's "draw."  Anon Lawyer and the Jerk are both big rainmakers at the firm, and presumably they would have a sense, if not actual data, about how much revenue each is responsible for -- revenue being all hours billed by all lawyers (and support staff) on the matters for which that partner is responsible (i.e., his clients).  The draw is how much of the partnership's profits that each partner is awarded, generally by a compensation committee.

Don't read too much into my criticisms, though.  It's clear that Jeremy is a terrific writer, and "Anonymous Lawyer" is a great debut.

Posted by Tung Yin on June 2, 2006 at 12:51 PM in Books, Law (General) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

May 31, 2006

Now reading "Anonymous Lawyer"

Like many other bloggers, I was generously offered an advance reading copy of "Anonymous Lawyer," the book based on the fictional blog by Harvard Law grad Jeremy Blachman.  I'll post my thoughts on it after I've finished reading, but in the meantime, Jeremy has even more generously allowed me to give away another reading copy to a reader of my blog.

It turns out that Anonymous Lawyer's law firm has a Baghdad office, which "is delighted to have been undergoing a series of renovations over the past few years, as the exterior and interior have been repeatedly gutted."  What is the mascot of this office?  (I'm not making this up!)  The first correct answer in the comments will get the free reading copy.

Posted by Tung Yin on May 31, 2006 at 02:27 PM in Books, Law (General), Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

May 30, 2006

How eating at a restaurant is not like being a lawyer(?)

A recent incident at the local Outback Steakhouse made me think about how being a lawyer is not like many other things in life.  Specifically, the waiter forgot to charge us for the mac and cheese meal that we ordered for our baby son.  So when the waiter came by to pick up the check, I pointed out the omission to him.  He came back with a revised bill and thanked us for being "so honest."

That got me thinking, is there any sort of norm on the part of a restaurant patron to point out mistakes in the patron's favor?  After all, if the restaurant had overcharged us, I obviously would have brought it to the waiter's attention.  So does the reverse hold true as well?

In litigation, for example, there generally wouldn't be such a norm.  The adversarial model calls upon both sides to protect their respective interests, and if a party inadvertently produces a document that may be protected by the attorney-client privilege or the work product doctrine, it's generally up to that party to do what it can to reclaim the document.  (I did have one case when I was in practice where I was reviewing documents produced by the other side and came upon a section that looked like it was a lawyer's notes of conversations with the client.  Having read enough to ascertain that, I stopped reading and brought it to my partner's attention.  However, for unrelated reasons, the client switched lawyers right about then, so I never had to confront the specific question of where documents were plainly attorney-client communications, did I have an obligation to raise it with the other side to make sure that disclosure was intentional.)

So, one way of thinking about it is that the restaurant needs to police its own interests by guarding against undercharging, and patrons guard against overcharging.  That doesn't seem unreasonable, and I wouldn't think less of someone who decided to apply that model of reasoning; but that wasn't how I saw it at the time.

Posted by Tung Yin on May 30, 2006 at 11:34 AM in Law (General), Random Thoughts | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

May 27, 2006

Hollywood time-space physics and other thoughts about "24"

Just watched the season finale of "24," so it goes without saying that spoilers abound. . . .

- What a rip-off!  Not only did the first "hour" end at about 55 minutes, to be filled with commercials, we had a "previously on" segment to start the next hour!  What's up with that?!?

- And then, at the end, we're teased with a special "inside look" at "24," which I thought might be a hint about season 6, but instead, it was just a freaking recap of the season we just watched!

- Speaking of time-space physics, the First Lady's, um, tactic to delay the President lasted only five minutes -- including undressing AND dressing time?!?

- I've only met one Secret Service agent, so it's not like I know a whole lot about them, but I'd think that they would know one another on the same protective detail, so that you couldn't just show up with some laser-printed document and claim to be a replacement for another agent.

- Ever wonder how Jack Bauer got really good at his version of the Vulcan neck pinch?  I mean, he manages to choke good guys into unconsciousness without killing them or (one presumes) brain damaging them.  How exactly does one go about getting such training?  Do CTU washouts have to be the guinea pigs?

- Doesn't 6:40 AM seem like an awfully inconvenient time to be having a national press conference to commerorate a fallen ex-President?  I realize that's Pacific time, so most of the country is awake, but still, what harm could there have been in having the body leave L.A. at noon?

- Even if the Attorney General could be convinced in five seconds by a digital recording that hadn't been authenticated or even tested for tampering, and decided to order the President arrested, how is it that the Secret Service agents would stop taking orders from the President?  The Secret Service is part of the Treasury Department, not the Justice Department.

- Finally, "China has a long memory."  Yeah, and apparently some ability to warp time-space even more powerful than CTU's.  Inside ten minutes, Chinese agents subdue Jack Bauer, beat the hell out of him, stick him aboard a freighter bound for China, and have the freighter steam off!

Posted by Tung Yin on May 27, 2006 at 11:42 PM in Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

May 17, 2006

Richard Hatch sentenced

Convicted of tax evasion, Richard Hatch, winner of the first "Survivor," gets 51 months in federal prison.  Assuming good behavior, he would get a 15% reduction in his sentence, or about 7.5 months.  So he's still looking at almost 44 months (minus time served) . . . .  That's a looooonnnnggg time.  In fact, by the time Hatch gets out, I'm not just going to be 40, I'm going to be in my 40s.  Yikes!

I like how the report I linked discusses how Hatch, at his sentencing hearing, said he could explain everything if given a chance. . . .  What, the jury trial wasn't enough of a chance?

UPDATE: More here from White Collar Crime Prof Blog.

Posted by Tung Yin on May 17, 2006 at 01:29 PM in Law (General), Reality TV | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

"24"'s periodic constitutional law teaching moment

Considering how wildly implausible "24" gets in so many ways, I thought it was a nice touch that Monday's (5/15) episode included a discussion of why it was necessary to seek impeachment of Charles, er, President Logan -- "because you can't indict a sitting President."

According to the Con Law casebook that I use (Sullivan & Gunther), however, Ken Starr, as independent counsel, had concluded that he could indict President Clinton without seeking impeachment.  Because President Clinton was in fact impeached (but not removed), this was never tested.  Similarly, note that when the Watergate burglars were indicted, President Nixon was named as an unindicted co-conspirator.

Of course, I'm not sure why CTU would go to the Attorney General -- seems like the Speaker of the House would be a better bet. . . .

Posted by Tung Yin on May 17, 2006 at 01:04 PM in Law (Constitutional), Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

May 16, 2006

"American Idol" -- the final 3 perform

Although our household was shocked that rocker Chris Daughtrey was kicked off last week, I continued to watch "American Idol," and my wife ended up watching as well.

Elliot Yamin continues to underwhelm me.  He's not as bad as Ace Young, who actively annoyed me.  With Elliot, I just think, "bleh."  He's okay, but vocally bland, and I just don't get the mad love the judges have for him.  I also think that he reminds me of Bud Bundy on "Married With Children," and that's just not what you want in an American Idol.

Katharine McPhee oversang her first song, did fine on the second one (good song choice by Simon Cowell).

Finally, Taylor Hicks did a pretty good rendition of Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark."  If you don't watch his "dancing," he actually sounds kind of like the Boss.  Of course, visually I feel like I'm watching a young Jay Leno sing.

Dialidol predicts (as usual) Taylor on top, with Katharine and Elliot in a dead heat for second and third.

Posted by Tung Yin on May 16, 2006 at 10:24 PM in Reality TV | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The third Duke lacrosse indictment

Since we haven't had a chance to hear directly from the accuser in the Duke lacrosse rape case, it's not fair to jump to serious conclusions based on the words of the latest defendant.  I did, however, watch a news story that carried the entire speech by David Evans, and my first thought was that either he really is innocent or his lawyers are horribly inept in letting him speak so much publicly.

A third possibility is that his lawyers didn't want him to speak to the press, but that he insisted on doing so.  As the Martha Stewart case demonstrates, even the most expensive lawyers aren't always able to get their clients to heed their advice.  (I am, of course, assuming that Ms. Stewart's lawyers warned her against lying to the government.)

Still, the clarity and strength of Evans' statement really sounds like it was drafted by a lawyer.  True, Evans is a student at a terrific institution, so it's not unreasonable to credit him with a degree of articulateness; but the speech did sound much like a lawyer's closing argument.

Posted by Tung Yin on May 16, 2006 at 10:31 AM in Law (General) | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

May 15, 2006

Irony, thy name is the Air Line Pilots Association

Hmm, I wonder who pro-labor groups root for in this fight. . .:

In a twist of irony Friday, the Air Line Pilots Association closed offices around the country as a number of its own members walked out on strike.

Since March, the union's clerical and support services have been in negotiations, hoping to reach an agreement before the contract expired at midnight Wednesday.

Is it pro-union to support the pilots' union, or to support the pilots' union's union?

Posted by Tung Yin on May 15, 2006 at 03:55 PM in World Events | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (2)