Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I Can't Fucking Believe This

I would like to know which genius at my university thought that sending out the following email would be a good idea:

***

Subject: Unofficial Withdrawal Notice

The first run of grades for last quarter shows that you did not earn credit for your classes last quarter. Since you received no credit, we are required to assume that you did not attend class and were not eligible for aid. If this is the case, you must repay the aid you received as well as your tuition for the quarter.

***

I mean really. What the hell is that? Turns out that everyone in my program got this email because our professor has not submitted the grades for all of our classes. But I would bet that a lot of people read that first paragraph, combined with the subject line, and thought, "Oh shit, I failed out." It was only after I thought about it for a while and realized that there was virtually no mathematical way that I could have failed that I figured out it must have been a mistake.

What if you're a 1L in your first term of law school? They probably had only one test that makes up 100% of their grade, so it's entirely possible that they would think that they failed and not have a way to know that it wasn't mathematically possible.

Maybe some readers will think that I'm overreacting, but I don't think I am. Law school stress can really affect people. I know someone who, because of disappointing grades, broke a window in his house and later when on medication for depression. And I know someone else who had a 1L classmate commit suicide in law school. For a school to send out this kind of email over something as simple as late-submitted grades is almost negligent.

All the school had to do was say at the beginning of the email that the message is automatically generated because not all grades are submitted. But I don't even understand why the email is sent in the first place. If you don't attend classes, you would get a grade. You'd get an F. So why is this email generated for people that don't have grades submitted? That's clearly the professor's fault, not the students fault.

Are there any law students out there that agree with me?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Parental Elitism

If there is one thing I hate, it is parental elitism. You know, parents who assume that non-parents are incapable of understanding anything relating to the parent-child relationship?

The latest example of parental elitism is this article about David Goldman, the American father who fought for custody of his child in the Brazilian courts. The article is a nice sentiment, and I was with the author, until he went and wrote this:

Adams was also concerned that, if the boy wasn't returned to his father, Brazil could have faced devastating economic sanctions from the United States.

I'm sure I speak for millions of American parents, who have watched this case with bated breath and heavy hearts, when I say: You had better believe it, pal.


Now, why did he have to say "millions of American parents"? Does he think that the millions of Americans who don't have children have not followed this case with bated breath? Are incapable of feeling outrage over what Goldman had to go through? That's just insulting. For months I have said that, because of Brazil's reaction to this, I will not even consider visiting that country. As a lawyer I've been outraged that the step-father's money and influence have sandbagged this guy for years.

But this author makes the assumption that non-parents just won't understand or won't care. Never mind that everyone has been part of a parent-child relationship in their life. Never mind that many of the non-parents in this country will someday be parents.

Which leads me to my next complaint: all parents used to be non-parents. Parenthood does not trigger genetic changes in people. Parents (usually mothers) who say stupid shit like "mothers have a special ability to hear their crying child" or "mothers are tougher than the average person" risk my fist in their face. You may have been conditioned to hear certain sounds now, or you may have to do things that you never had to do before, but that doesn't mean you have abilities above and beyond non-parents. It just means that the non-parents have not had to step up to the plate yet. Just like parents didn't have to step up to the plate before they had kids.

This is not a rant against parents. I know many parents who do not think that they're better than their childless counterparts and who do not feel the need to talk themselves up at the expense of those who don't have kids. This is rant against parental elitists. We all know those people when we see them.

(On a slightly unrelated note, not being a parent might save your life.)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I'm Starting To See A Pattern

South Carolina governor Mark Sanford disappears and, once he surfaces, admits an affair with an Argentinian woman. (06/24/2009)

Michael Jackson dies unexpectedly and under suspicious circumstances. (06/25/2009)

Tiger Woods runs his SUV into a tree in the wee hours of the morning, the story about his wife freeing him with a golf club makes no sense, mistresses come forward, and he eventually admits to "infidelities." (12/11/2009)

Brittany Murphy dies unexpectedly and under suspicious circumstances. (12/20/2009)

How many celebrities have to die tragically in order to deflect media attention from cheating bastards? WHEN WILL THE MADNESS STOP?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Congrats!

I would like to take this opportunity to offer my congratulations to Mike Fisher, brand-new fiancé of Carrie Underwood. I feel that my sentiments would best be expressed through a passage from the classic novel "Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters":

"May she dwell symbiotically in the digestive tract of his existence, consuming all joy, causing him writhing pain at odd intervals, until she is finally defecated out."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My Sexist Procratiblog

I should be working on my 10-page paper that is due Friday (Thursday for me since I'm going to FedEx it in because I'm going home tomorrow.) Instead, I'm watching old episodes of "Hunter" on Hulu.com and thinking about how much I hate it when hunky men get older.** It got me thinking, who else makes me want to kick the aging process in the balls?

Ryan O'Neal
So cute in "Love Story." SO. CUTE. I mean, he's looking pretty good now, but still. STILL.





Harrison Ford
What woman my age didn't fall in love with Indiana Jones as a girl? Like Ryan, he's still lookin' good, but it's not the same.





Val Kilmer
I was a "Batman Forever" superfan. I saw the movie like three times in the theatre, read and reread the book based on the screenplay, bought the soundtrack, bought folders for school with the Batman symbol on them, had a Riddler cup from McDonalds, I FREAKIN' LOVED THAT MOVIE. Mostly because Val here was so darned cute. Now? Now I weep.





Jeff Bridges
I know what you're thinking. Really? The Dude?



YES REALLY.



And now, the number one tear-jerking aging process...

Marlon Brando
I remember watching "Julius Caesar" in senior English class, and I was MESMERIZED by Brando. I fell in love right then and there. Looking at that last picture just reminds us all that life is not fair.





Ladies, who is on YOUR list?

**Yes, this is sexist. Yes, I would get in a tizzy if a man posted this about female celebrities. But sometimes double standards work in our favor.

Golden Globe Babble

I am such a dork for awards season, as if you couldn't tell from my Grammy/Carrie Underwood rants. Now Golden Globe nominations are out.

Has anyone seen "Up in the Air"? I think I'm going to have to see it now. Plus, it stars Jessica from "Twilight."

Right now I'm rooting for "The Hurt Locker." Did anyone else see that? I didn't want to see it, but I went with my friend, and I was really impressed. Great movie. I'd love to see an awesome movie with a female director win Best Picture.

Also, "The Hangover" was nominated for Best Comedy! That amuses me, much like the movie did.

And can we talk about the TV nominations?! Jane Lynch! My new girl crush! I love Sue Sylvester so much. A friend of mine wants to fix me up with her friend who lives on the other side of the country. I am considering it, because his grandmother is Julia Child's sister, who was played by Jane Lynch in "Julie & Julia." Anything to get me dozens degrees of separation closer to Sue Sylvester.

So glad to see "Modern Family" nominated, although I wish "Park and Recreation" had been, too.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Thoughts on Pride and Prejudice

I had a bit of a blasphemous thought tonight. I put on the BBC miniseries version (Who am I kidding? It's called "the Colin Firth version." Let's not pretend otherwise) of Pride and Prejudice while I was studying, and I found myself thinking, "Huh. I don't really care for this."

!!!

I've always loved Pride and Prejudice! But suddenly Darcy was kind of an asshat and Elizabeth thought she was all that. And I didn't like it.

Time to take a step back.

The book is called Pride and Prejudice for pete's sake. They're supposed to be that way! I think that 2005 cinematic version has ruined things for me. I love that movie, I watch it all the time. I used to get annoyed when people would put it down as not being true to the book, but fuck me, they're right! I may prefer Matthew MacFadyen's Mr. Darcy because he comes across as a wounded, vulnerable guy, but that's not how Austen wrote the character.

I came to the quick realization that I need to reread the book because it has been years since I read it. And I think that I have formed a diluted view of the book. Pride and Prejudice gets hailed as one of the greatest romances of all time, but I'm not so sure about that anymore. I think my view of what a good romance is has really changed since the last time I read the book (or watched the Colin Firth version). Any maybe I'm doing a disservice to Pride and Prejudice by labeling it a romance. Doing so naturally leads one to focus on the romantic relationship instead of the other aspects of the story. It's okay if I don't think Pride and Prejudice is Austen's great work of romance. That's what Persuasion is for, right? ;)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

How's That For Irony?

A few weeks ago, I went to the University bookstore with a classmate to look for study aid materials. We were looking at "Copyright Law In A Nutshell," but there was only one left and it was kind of expensive. My classmate said that she could buy it online and then make a copy for me.

Yes. We are in an Intellectual Property LL.M program. Yes. She did actually propose copying a book on copyright law.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

My Brilliant Idea

I am going to start an organization. This organization will be called "The Time Travel Writers of America." I will apply for a registered federal certification mark under the Lanham Act. Eventually, my organization will grow in prominence and respect until every author that wants to write a book involving time travel will have to seek certification from my organization. The certification process will require that authors prove they are smart enough to handle a time travel plot device.

Of course, the ultimate goal of the organization will be to eliminate the practice of time travel fiction from the earth BECAUSE TIME TRAVEL NEVER WORKS.

(Can you tell I just got tricked into buying a time travel book when all I wanted was a holiday-themed romance novel? Can you tell I'm unhappy about it?)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Simplest Things Are Apparently The Most Difficult

I think there have been at least half a dozen instances at this law school where I have been in the bathroom and seen the paper towel dispenser with it's cover open and a roll inside but not being dispensed. This never fails to confuse me. Mostly because anyone who has ever done any kind of janitorial work, including working at a fast food restaurant where you were responsible for maintaining bathroom supplies, would know how to fix the situation. It is not difficult. You lift up the spring bar, put the paper towel lead under it, release the bar, and pull the handle to start dispensing the towels.

Not rocket science.

Now I don't know how many times the dispenser has jammed and someone else fixed it, but I have been the one to do it half a dozen times. I just find it interesting that this building is full of so many supposedly smart people who either don't know how to load a paper towel dispenser or are too lazy to do it themselves.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Argh!

Well, shit. Carrie Underwood is nominated for a Grammy AGAIN. I swear to God, Grammy voters seem to be under the impression that they are obligated to nominate her every year. Normally when she's nominated there's no point in guessing who will win because SHE ALWAYS DOES no matter how awful the song. This year it's that shitfest "Just A Dream" where she shamelessly capitalizes on dead American soldiers to sell a record.

But this year there is a dark horse! TAYLOR SWIFT! That girl has been winning everything lately. Even though I'm not particularly fond of "White Horse," the song she's nominated for in her category again Carrie, she could pull it off! (Taylor has at last won me over with her song "Fifteen." Finally. A song that acknowledges what teenage love is really like. Although I will confess that "You Belong With Me" is pretty cute and catchy.)

Sadly though, while Carrie and Taylor duke it out, the best vocal performance nominated, Lee Ann Womack's "Solitary Thinkin'," won't win. Poor Lee Ann's beautiful "Last Call" lost out to Carrie's barf-o-rific shriekfest "Last Name" last year. I'm still rooting for you, Lee Ann!

On the boys' side I'm rooting for Billy Currington's "People Are Crazy." That guy is just so darned cute, and his songs are fun and lighthearted without being annoying.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Collection of Thoughts

Last night after I finished studying I watched the first episode of American Experience: We Shall Remain, a five-part series the chronicles the history of the American Indian.

The story of American Indians always makes me so, so sad. I am more ashamed of my country’s treatment of Indians than any other disadvantaged group. The history of slavery in American is also very shameful, but for some reason I find it easier to separate my own experience from slavery than from the Indian experience. Undoubtedly, remnants of slavery still exist in our society, but for those of us who grew up in the American West, those remnants often don’t impact us as much (unless of course you are African-American). I have not be extensively exposed to the ghettos of large cities that are due in part to the movement of southern blacks to northern industrial towns during and following Reconstruction and/or the significant lingering socio-economic disparity between blacks and whites in this country. Conversely, every post-secondary school I have attended has required me to drive through an Indian reservation in order to go to and from my hometown. I have spent eight years traveling through reservations and observing the stark differences between reservation life and the rest of the United States.

Another reason I feel it is easier to distance myself from slavery is because, and maybe I’m being na├»ve, it seems to me that today there are more cultural similarities between white Americans and black Americans than there are cultural differences. It is easier for me to unconsciously forgot about slavery when I feel the descendants of slaves are essentially my cultural equals; we're all Americans. I don’t know if that’s always true for Indians. Indian tribes are separate sovereigns with their own governance, and they have very different native cultures. Thus, while they are Americans, they are literally a different kind of American under the law.

Finally, my family immigrated primarily to the northern United States when slavery was no longer in place there, and by all indications my ancestors that settled in the South were too poor to own slaves. Thus, I don’t have a feeling that I as an individual have benefited from the institution of slavery. Surely I have benefited from the remnants of slavery by virtue of being a white person in American society, but the feeling is not quite the same as being a resident of the West and feeling the benefit of Indian decimation.** I’m sure that not every western resident feels the way I do, but for as long as I can remember, whenever I encounter a beautiful western landscape, I imagine how it would have looked to the Indians. For me, there is an ever-present awareness that I live where I do because Indians were deprived on their lands in shameful ways. This has always been an uncomfortable feeling, and I imagine that it will intensify if I ever become a landowner.

I acknowledge that we cannot go back in time and change what has happened. The injuries suffered by the American Indians are irreparable. But I feel strongly that it is the duty of every American to acknowledge the wrongs that were committed and that enabled us to live our modern American lives. I remember when a friend once expressed anger that state criminal justice jurisdiction did not extend onto an Indian reservation (Public Law 280 aside). My response was something along the lines of, “Don’t they deserve at least that?” In my opinion, that kind of gut-level objection to tribal sovereignty stems from an ignorance about our country’s history with its indigenous people. To me, that kind of ignorance is unacceptable for an American. The story of the Cherokee Nation should break your heart. The inequity of the United States’ refusal to abide by the treaties made with the Indian tries should cause you shame. It’s okay to enjoy our lives, but I feel that at very the least we need to consciously recognize those who paid the price for our lifestyles.

**I recognize that the American Indian experience is not limited to the West, but most of the Indian lands in this country today are in the West, so I have that association in my mind.