February 26, 2006

Blawg Review #46

by Sean Sirrine

Hello everybody, and welcome to Blawg Review #46 where we don't just review, we review de novo!

Before we start out on the trail of good posts, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the esteemed editor Ed. for allowing me to host Blawg Review once again. I almost held this Review hostage just to find out who Ed. was, but instead I decided to take this opportunity to talk to my fellow legal geeks about something that has been bothering me for some months and that nobody seems to be discussing.

Here is the problem as I see it (and I'm sure I'm just as much at fault as anyone else): nobody is giving out permanent links anymore. As much as I love Bashman and Volokh, I haven't seen the links on their sidebars change for over a year! It seems that in an effort to become more professional, blawgs have become static, just like the websites we found before blogs came around. They have great writing, but they are all starting to talk about the same thing; rolling with the news cycle instead of creating it.

So here is your chance to show that lawyers are all about learning new things no matter who is telling them. If you read something you like, put a link to that blawg on your sidebar as a silent thank you for a job well done. I know plenty of you out there know how to tip -- you'd better if you're going to drink those $7 coffees -- and this is how tipping works in the blogosphere. Best of all, it's free! So show some link love to these blawgs that are anything but ordinary and are found below in no particular order. (Read them all, they're all good!) This isn't a flashy Blawg Review; the flash comes from the writing found in these great posts.

I figured we should just start right at the beginning. Why are lawyers such pessimists? A man down-under might have the right answer for you. Then again, I'm not sure it is the right answer.

Over at Nanotechnology Law there was a creepily interesting post on Artificial Intelligence becoming the new legal entity. I guess if McDonald's is a legal entity, why not my computer? The post is short, but check out the links, they're artificial hair raising!

Over at Minor Wisdom, Ray Ward reviews Judge Aldisert's book, Logic for Lawyers, gives us a logic puzzle from the book to solve, and in a later post, solves the puzzle while explaining his logic step by step. Why the explanation? Because, as Ray put it, "For lawyers, the proof of the solution is as important as the solution itself. Our job as lawyers is not only to figure out the solution to a legal problem, but also to convince others (clients, opponents, judges) that our solution is correct. We can't do that unless we explain our reasoning step by step, showing that each step is grounded in fact, not speculation." Tell us the truth Ray, you're a member of Mensa, right?

I received quite a few submissions for the "Top IP Cases of 2005," which is over at the Technology & Marketing Law Blog. It certainly was a good read, and best of all, I now know it is okay to have you all call me The Incredible Hulk!

This post at Tech Law Advisor gives me hope for the future of legal blogs. I would have put this at the top of my list since it so nicely melds with my introductory comments, but I promised that I would introduce all these posts in no order whatsoever. (Hey, I have to get a job from somebody one of these days!) It informs us about a new blawg dubbed Blawgr that you're all cordially invited to join. That is taking the legal discussion to a higher level!

Nudity! Ah yes, nudity. Never one to give up the opportunity to discuss this topic, I must direct you towards The Patry Copyright Blog. Not only is there a post about nudity, (yeah, that Google thingy), there are two of them! Outlaw also has some good coverage of the topic. What would we do without those thumbnails? Sivacracy points out that the district court ignored its Circuit's precedent.

Over at Jim Calloway's Law Practice Tips you can read a great post on spicing up those CLE materials or you can get scared to death that the government can get at documents in your network without a subpeona. I suggest reading them both, but I'll swear that I never sent you there.

The Trademark Blog has a great post on a relatively new development in the law. Apparently gay women want to be known as "Dykes on Bikes" and Damon Wayans is attempting to trademark "Nigga" for some of his product lines. Well maybe it isn't so new -- NOFX, a punk band, put out an album in 1993 called "White Trash, two Heebs and a Bean." I guess some people just market to those who don't mind poking a bit of fun at themselves. Must be a small market. If you want something a bit more lighthearted you can read the post on fair use and the phrase "Where's the beef?" Frankly, I think the flip-flop industry should be all over Bush.

Ted Frank over at Point of Law had the scoop on the heckler heckling Justice Scalia during his address at the American Enterprise Institute. I'll let you get the details there, but I just have to say that whether you agree with his jurisprudence or not, Justice Scalia certainly knows how to get the hecklers riled up. Ted, he's not a "glutton for punishment" -- he just loves to piss-off his opponents. That is how he made up for having a minority position on the Court. I'm not sure what he's going to do with himself now.

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog, (hold on a minute, I have to giggle just a bit about the WSJ as a blog), has two excellent posts/ articles? about Mark Lanier, "the Texas plaintiff attorney and Baptist preacher who won a $253 million verdict against Merck in the first Vioxx trial". The first discusses Mark's musical tastes, and the second gives him a few ideas to download via itunes. I'm quite partial to "Heart Attack Man" by the Beastie Boys.

Professor Maule always has fun stuff to mull over. This post about obnoxious emails from students and the benefits education actually derives from the vast majority of emails was quite fun. (Mostly I thought it was fun because I can't possibly imagine writing something like this; "the future leader of America who notified her teacher that she was late for class because she was dealing with the consequences of heavy drinking at a "wild weekend party.") It is a serious post however, and I'd suggest reading it before sending your next email. If you want to get real serious, you can read his "The Taxation of Kidney Swaps" in which he makes a good argument that people who are swapping kidneys should (legally speaking) be paying taxes on the exchange. Talk about a topic to get your blood boiling!

Oh, how could I forget the porn? Dan Filler at Concurring Opinions is looking forward to the new "Porn Report" from our Attorney General. This is a very illustrative post on how there is no such thing as bad publicity.

Ben Cowgill's On Legal Ethics informs us that lawyers had better start getting better at math. You think I'm kidding? Read this quote about the Supreme Court of Kansas; "In that way, the Court effectively held as a matter of law that it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to "round up" a time entry, and thereby charge the client for more time than the lawyer actually devoted to the particular task, regardless of whether the dollar amount of the resulting charge (or the total fee) is reasonable or unreasonable."

Professor Bainbridge backs up the conventional wisdom that the way the Sarbanes-Oxley Act was made law just, well, just plain sucks. Bainbridge stands out even when he's one of the crowd.

J. Craig Williams at May It Please the Court, (I still like making the judge clear his throat), has a great post on why it sometimes is a good idea to settle early. Sometimes it is a $940,000 difference.

AutoMuse has a great post on anti-trust and the conspiracy to keep prices artificially low. Low, you mean high right? Nope, check it out, it is a good read that should encourage some of you to go back and crack open those econ books. Of course, what's the point, we've decided to give these companies an exemption from anti-trust laws anyway.

Drugs! Yep, we haven't discussed drugs yet, so you have to check out this new way to get drugs that is just as illegal as the old way. Except this drug is good for you and comes from a goat!

If you didn't read this post at New World Man last week, read how the Italian court has either idiots or assholes for judges. No, I don't say that lightly. Italy's high court concluded that the fact that a 14-year-old girl had previously had sex and therefore wasn't a virgin gave her stepfather-rapist possible mitigating circumstances that the crime was less serious. Some stories just piss you off.

Baseball Crank had a great post on a case that is near and dear to the hearts of most bloggers; who is a journalist? "The Fourth Circuit rules in The Baltimore Sun Co. v. Erlich that the Governor of Maryland may legally refuse, and order his staff to refuse, to work with certain reporters where the paper had other means of covering the administration. Crank notes that had the court held otherwise, inevitably rules would have to be crafted regarding who could compel government officials to speak to them, which would get courts in the business of deciding who's a journalist and who isn't." Well, they ducked the issue for now.

Adam Smith Esq. as usual had some very good posts last week. (My econ background always makes me perk up and take note when I see that masthead.) First Bruce informs us that the new "in-thing" for management is collaboration rather than competition. Then Bruce pulls out the crystal ball and gives us a look at the state of law firms in 2015. Do you work in a 1,000-plus-lawyer law firm? You have to love this guy!

The Greatest American Lawyer is pushing for us to start taking digital dictation in his effort to move law firms towards a paperless existence. (Do you think this guy is invested in computers or what?) He does make some excellent points, (and frankly I'm planning on doing it myself), but I can't help but wonder what happens once private conversations between lawyers and clients are so easily leaked.

Longhorn Law and the Red State Feminist point us to a document archived at the Smoking Gun known as the "Contract of Wifely Expectations." Oh yeah, it's real, it's demented, and if my daughter brought this contract home to me... well, I'll just have to leave the rest unsaid. What a pig. I bet he would have been a big hit in Italy though!

I figured I should include this post from the Family Law Blog that dicusses some legitimate reasons for the common guy/gal to get a prenup. Seriously though, don't approach your sweetheart with a "baby, wanna get a prenup" because the experts say it isn't sexy.

Over at the Menagerie there is a great post about a kiss that is more than a kiss. In fact, this kiss sent a man to prison for the rest of his life. I feel sorry for anyone still in the dating stages of life.

At Kierkegaard Lives there are two posts of note this week. "California Postpones Execution For Lack of Doctor Participation" pretty much sums up the whole debacle that has been brewing in California lately. Everybody repeat after me... oxymoron. Speaking of morons, Kierkegaard has a great post on my favorite idiot to get mad at: Fred Phelps. First you need to know that Phelps protests at our soldiers' funerals, in nasty nasty ways. This is a happy story however, about a group of Americans that are welcome to stop by my house for a beer and a burger anytime. A group of bikers dubbed the Patriot Guard Riders shield the families of the fallen soldiers from the WBC protesters, and overshadow the hate speech of Phelps's group with "patriotic chants and a sea of red, white, and blue flags."

That is all I have for this week. In closing I'd just like to mention that the blawgmother Denise Howell is looking for some info on "blogging, the 1st Amendment, and the law" to supplement her panel discussion coming up at the forum at Santa Clara March 1st-3rd. I hope you enjoyed this week's Blawg Review. Remember, Blawg Review has information about next week's host, and instructions how to get your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues. Don't forget, give some of these hard workers your link love!

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