May 2006 Archives

Gaming Pedagogy


Certain parties have recently mentioned in passing (not here) that they've run into some trouble learning and teaching board games. This is a fairly common problem when you play games that aren't part of the Shared American Board Game Heritage, be they Cheapass games, Steve Jackson games, or Euro games. The trouble is that you need to learn the rules, but often the rules are complex enough that it would take forever to sit and listen to the rules read out loud. Moreover, manuals are seldom the most lucid way of explaining how to play a game; what works best is to have someone explain the game in natural language, organized in a mannter that makes intuitive sense. The explainer can also use the board and components to give examples of how play works, making the learning process easier. This works best if the explainer has played the game before and thus has a good grasp on the mechanics. But sometimes you're playing a game that's new to everyone; in that case, what works best is to have the designated explainer read through the rules first, figure it out in a way that makes sense to him or her, and then have the explainer bring in everyone else to explain it in his or her own words.

Most of this advice comes from a fantastic article in The Games Journal, The Finer Points of Teaching Rules. The article draws on examples from Euro games, but the points made should be easy to apply outside of that context. Hopefully this will prove helpful in future boardgaming endeavors. Also, let me once again put in a pitch for board games as a fun and engaging social activity. There are small board game shops all over the country, and most will carry a wide selection of games for all age ranges (including adults), number of players, style of gameplay, and expense. Board games are a great way to have fun while socializing, and I'd urge everyone reading to give them a try.

Book Review: Daughter of the Empire

Daughter of the Empire is the first book in a three-book collaboration between Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts.  The book's set in the Kelewan Empire, the parallel-universe antagonist from Feist's Rift War novels.  No knowledge of Feist's other works are necessary to understand Daughter; I went in knowing nothing of the Rift War series beyond the title.  The gist of the larger plot is that the Kelewan Empire exists in one universe, Midkemia in another, and there's a magical rift between the two.  Kelewan is a synthesis of various Asian cultures and empires, while Midkemia, I get the impression, is analagous to medieval Europe.  Kelewan is invading Midkemia through the rift, and the war has apparently gone on for some time.

But the war is just distant background.  Daughter is a novel of politics.  The book begins with a betrayal that kills the lord of the ancient Acoma clan, along with its sole male heir.  Rulership passes to Mara, the dead lord's daughter, who must establish control of the clan, rebuild its strength, forge alliances to ensure its continued survival, and exact revenge against the enemies of the Acoma.  The focus of the book is on relatively small-scale conflicts between clans and vassals.  There are a few armed skirmishes in the book, but for the most part Mara's victories are won in drawing rooms and reception halls. 

Feist and Wurts handle Mara's sex skillfully.  They don't take any easy outs by, for instance, making the Kelewan Empire tolerant of female rulership; Kelewan is as patriarchal as its real-world analogues in the Middle Ages.  Mara is placed in a position of simultaneous dominance and submission.  She rules her clan absolutely, and her fellow rulers make superficial gestures of respect.  Yet there is an undercurrent of bemusement.  People play along because tradition requires them to, but nobody considers her a serious threat. 

There's an interesting reversal mid-way through the book, when Mara marries and loses control her her household.  Even with an incompetent husband, her powerlessness is absolute, and it is nearly a year before she can wrest even a modicum of control over the Acoma back from him, and then only by his grudging concession.  It's interesting to contrast Mara before and after the marriage; she goes from being a shrewd and competent leader, managing the house with skill and intelligence, to essentially not a human being any longer.  She no longer has even the power to manage her own life, let alone her house. 

The book is a fun novel of politics in its own right, and provides interesting insights into female rulership, a topic oft neglected or glossed over in fantasy novels. 

At the same time, it has a few failings.  The writing is serviceable, but often repetitive.  In the space of a single chapter you will be told a dozen times that "the fate of the entire Acoma clan rested on (the events of the next few hours/what would happen beyond that gate/what would transpire in the dooryard)."  It's also a little irksome how often we hear about all the emotions the characters aren't showing.  The writing works for the most part, but there are those few ticks that irritate.

More substantively, the plot is a tad episodic.  Within a few chapters a formula is established: A problem arises that requires shrewd negotiation, Mara goes to some hostile lord/bandit/queen, Mara successfully tricks the rival into doing what she wishes, Mara returns triumphant, ready for her nxt advanture.  This changes with the marriage, which forms the most interesting part of the book, but the rest gets a bit monotonous as the format keeps getting repeated.

Mara also tends a bit to the Mary Sue-ish for my taste.  She seems just a little too clever and too perfect.  This isn't to say there aren't unexpected twists that redound to her disadvantage, but generally Mara always makes the best choice in any given situation, and Mara always wins.  After a while, this gets boring.

Nonetheless, it's a lot of fun overall.  The political machinations are interesting and the way that the various parties exploit the ancient forms is subtle and devious.  The book's entertaining throughout, and I would recommend it.

Reading Notes

Just an update on my reading.  I finished Daughter of the Empire moments ago and will have thoughts on it after I get some sleep.  Now I need to decide what to read next.  I'd initially planned on Storm of Swords, with the idea of reading that so that I was all prepared to begin Hugo readings.  But now I'm wondering if I wouldn't prefer a slight break from medieval politics.  So what now, then?  Keep going with Storm of Swords?  Start in on the Hugo books (perhaps a light one, like Old Man's War)?  Or keep putting off Hugo reading and instead go with something else, like the Tiptree Awards Anthology or The Left Hand of Darkness?

Courses of Interest


Well, the pre-registration window has opened, and I've got a month to pick the classes I'll try to sign up for next semester.  From what I understand, picking the courses involves choosing ten courses plus ten alternates (there can be duplication between the alternates and the choices). 

It works something like this: Say you pick Course A as your first choice with Course B as an alternate.  You select Cource C as your second choice.  When your lottery number gets pulled, they check to see if there's room in Course A.  If there isn't, they check Course B.  If there's no room there, they go to Course C, and so on.  On the other hand, if there is room in Course A, you get put in Course A.  When they go to the next round in the lottery, they start with your second choice, Choice C.  Choice B is cut out because it was your alternative to A, and you got A.  This is why they allow duplication; if you really want to get into A and also want to get into B, you can set A as your first choice, B as your alternate first choice, and B as your second choice so that you're still trying for B even if you get A, and so that B is the first thing you try for if you can't get A.

This is all a wordy way of saying: Columbia Law's course selection system is incredibly dumb and poorly handled, and it is to their ever-lasting discredit that they have a course registration system that is inferior in every conceivable way to that implemented at UC Berkeley, a huge state school with about 40,000 students. 

But that's neither here nor there.  I'm browsing through the curriculum guide and will be using the rest of this post as a note to myself about what classes look interesting.  So, classes I might want to take (note that this includes both classes I'm interested in taking and classes I don't want to take, but kind of have to thanks to the Bar/desires of future employers):

Administrative Law

Anthropology and the Law

Antitrust and Trade Regulation

Copyright Law


Criminal Investigations

Employment Law

Environmental Law


Federal Courts

Federal Income Taxation

Ideas of the First Amendment

International and Comparative Criminal Law

Intensive Professional Responsibility

Jursiprudence of War

Labor Law

Law and Educational Institutions: Issues of Authority

Law and Educational Instituions: Equity Issues

Law and Legal Institutions in China

New Forms of Public Interest Advocacy


Professional Responsibility

The Connection of Law and Literature

Trusts, Estates, and Estate Planning

State and Local Government Law

Seminar on Biblical Jurisprudence

Seminar on Big Cases: Tactics and Strategy

Seminar: Black Letter Law/White Collar Crime

Seminar on Church and State

Seminar on False Advertising

Seminar on Legislative Drafting

Seminar on Liability and Insurance

Seminar on Mental Health Law

Negotiation Workshop

Seminar on Problems in Legal Philosophy

Seminar on Public Benefit Laws in Changing Times

Seminar on Regulating Sex and Sexuality

Seminar on Reproductive Health and Human Rights

Seminar on Sexuality, Gender, Health and Human Rights

Well, that's all I see so far.  Note: I know this is more classes than I can sign up for, and I know that there's no way I'll get into some of these classes.  This is just the Big List of all the classes I could possibly be interested in. 

Losing Weight Like a Man

I picked up a copy of Prevention magazine recently and read with interest an article called "Lose Weight Like a Guy."  The pull quote is "He drops pounds overnight.  You gain just by glancing at cheesecake.  Here are 5 reasons for his success.  Steal 'em today and look slimmer tomorrow."  Sadly, the article doesn't appear to be on-line, though a previous article by the author, Denise Foley, on how women can restore their libidos is.  That second article also begins with a complaint about how guys don't have to worry about waning libidos, thanks to Viagra and such, so I think complaining about how easy guys have it is something of a schtick for her.

Anyhow, as a guy who has lost weight, I thought I'd be in a good position to judge the quality of her advice in the article.  So, here are the five reasons guys are better than girls at weight loss, and my thoughts on them:

1. Men Don't Crave Sweets

Ahem.  No.  Well, sort of.  The idea here is that women crave sweets, notably chocolate, while men crave meat.  Meat, it is argued, is a healthier craving because it's high in protein, and is thus more filling, and it's relatively low-density in terms of calories.  Sugary snacks aren't very filling and are dense with calories.  True enough, but I'm not certain how true the gender stereotype is.  I'm probably unusual in this, but I really don't crave meat at all.  Yet I DO get cravings, for sweets and for salty snacks, and this is where I think her theory falls down a bit.  Guys may not crave sweets as much as women do (maybe) but I get the feeling that they crave high-carb low-protein low-fiber salty snackfoods like potato chips more. 

2.  Men Don't Berate Themselves When They Screw Up

In my experience, yes they do.  I do, at least.  The premise is that beating yourself up when you screw up on your diet makes it more likely that you'll give up entirely.  Men, the article argues, roll with their little failures.  "It's not the end of the world," they say.  They accept their occasional lapses and move on.  Women cry, get emotional, and eat a bunch of chocolate, compounding their initial error.  This strikes me as bullshit gender stereotyping.  How you react to diet failures is affected far more by your personal psyche than by your gender.  When I screw up and overeat I'm far more likely to freak out about it and become depressed than I am to shrug and try again tomorrow. 

3.  Men Go for Weights with Muscle

This one has a bit more merit, and may be the best advice in the article.  The article argues that when men work out they tend to focus on strength training that bulks up muscles, while women focus on toning muscles with lots of reps on light weights.  The article maintains, accurately, that training for tone is a huge waste of time.  It doesn't really help build muscle mass and you'll get the same visual effect in far less time from strength training.  Plus, thanks to differences in hormones, women don't generally have to worry about actually bulking up the way that men do.  I feel this is one of the more accurate differences the article presents, if only because thousands of articles in fitness magazines have told women that they should focus on tone and avoid the possibility of bulking up. 

The article also provides a useful primer on strength training: use the absolute heaviest weight that you can do 8 reps of with the full range of motion.  It should be physically impossible to handle a 9th rep.  Once you're comfortable with that weight, bump it up to a level where you can do only 3 reps and work there for a while.  Always be sure, though, that you're doing the full range of motion when you do these exercises, or else you won't be working the right muscles.  For example, if you do a bench press, but only bring the weight down to the point where your elbows form a 90 degree angle, you're essentially only working your arms.  That's fine if your arms are all you want to work, but generally people do bench presses to work the chest, which requires you bring the weights down further.  This is a lot harder when the weights are heavier, hence the provision that you be able to do the full range of motion with whatever weight you choose. 

4. Men Don't Use Food as a Therapist

The article claims that women eat to medicate their feelings.  This is the longest segment of the article and has a number of facets.  First, men don't eat when they're upset (wrong).  Second, men work out or do other physical activity to get over stress and depression (depends on the guy, but not me).  Guys spend money to cheer themselves up, while women eat (I spend money, but it tends to be on food, so I don't think that counts).  Finally, men just don't get depressed, because they're not all emotional like women are (Um).  They make some good points about not eating out of depression, but I'm not really certain that men don't do this just as much as women do. 

5.  Men Don't Give Up Their Favorite Foods

This is another decent weight-loss tip wrapped in a spurious stereotype.  The nugget of truth here is pretty simple: Don't diet.  Make small-scale adjustments to what you eat, cut out a couple hundred calories per day, exercise a little more (or just do more physical activity, by parking at the far end of the lot or walking to lunch instead of driving) and stick with that.  You'll lose weight gradually, but it won't be painful and it'll stay off.  When you diet, on the other hand, you get quick results by setting unrealistic goals, you cave, your weight returns, and you're back where you started, with a lot of starvation and self-recrimination to show for it.  The article couches this all in gender terms; men do it right, women do it wrong.  I don't buy it.  I think it's more that men don't care as much about their weight and don't face as much societal pressure to slim down in the first place; it isn't so much that men know how to do it right, it's that a lot of men don't bother to do it at all. 

In the end, it's not a bad article in the sense of giving bad advice; most of the points it makes are pretty good (I'm skeptical about the pro-meat, pro-protein stance of the first point, though).  I just disagreed with the hook and the framing that these good dieting techniques are the province of masculinity.  Having said that, I may well be an outlier on this.  I'm not necessarily the guy most men would pick to represent the platonic ideal of the gender, so maybe it's unsurprising that I diet like a woman.  Still, I think the article could have been just as informative without the somewhat specious gender angle.

Movie Review: Art School Confidential

I saw Art School Confidential last Saturday.  I was somewhat excited about it, as I loved the previous Zwigoff/Clowes collaboration, Ghost World, enough that I saw it twice in theaters.  Unfortuantely, Art School isn't nearly as fun or cohesive as Ghost World was. 

Like Ghost World, Art School starts off heavily satarical, then transitions into drama and tragedy.  The satire's done with a pretty broad brush, but it's funny nonetheless.  Ghost World made fun of high school and suburban life, while Art School attacks art school in general and artistic personalities in particular.  The first third of the movie is quite funny.

But where Ghost World started funny then gradually introduced painful elements until the entire world fell apart, Art School goes from making fun of emo-types to being melodramatic in itself.  We're introduced to a score of comic characters in the first third who abruptly disappear right when the movie decides it's time to be dramatic.  Whereas Ghost World moved seamlessly from comedy to drama, Art School changes abruptly, as though they shot two different movies and spliced them together at the first reel change. 

The movie's also disappointing for being put together somewhat artlessly.  The character development is poorly handled, such that we have little idea what motivates the main characters, even the ones that we spend 90% of the movie watching.  Most of the dialog comes in the form of truly ham-handed exposition.  There's one scene that had the most excruciatingly obvious exposition that I cracked up.  Apparently the filmmakers realized they needed to explain the big art exhibition that is the movie's climax, so we have a professor telling his students about it, followed by the following questions:  "Isn't it true that our entire grades for the semester are based on this one exhibition?"  "Isn't it true that the person with the highest grade gets a special prize?"  "Isn't the student who wins the prize each year given an exhibition of their work at Broadway Bob's art gallery?"  "Hasn't every student who's won gone on to incredible fame and fortune?"  "I've heard that none of your students has ever won the prize, and that you're afraid you might lose your job if one of us doesn't win this year.  Is that true?"  I do not exaggerate; these are verbatim quotes from the movie. 

It's a shame, because there actually is a good movie hiding in here.  Clowes and Zwigoff are very adept at showing a certain kind of pain, of showing smart, talented people watch as their lives slowly fall apart and come to realize that their dreams of glory will go unfulfilled.  Most everybody dreams of being at the top, but only a few people can get there and they aren't necessarily the most talented or deserving.  Zwigoff and Clowes are probably the best in the business at portraying intelligent losers, people who miss their chance at fortune and give up on life.

There's a lot of interest in this movie, but it's poorly edited, has terrible characterization and dreadful dialog.  It's worth seeing getting when it comes out on Netflix, I think, but not worth spending money to see in theaters.  Not recommended.

Random Stupid Trivia

Did you know that Harry Anderson, who played Judge Harry Stone on Night Court and Dave Barry on Dave's World, was the valedictorian of North Hollywood High's Class of 1970?  You do now!

Sci-Fantasy Summer


I visited a few bookstores today (including a small independent Science Fiction/Fantasy bookstore) and ended up making some purchases.  I've decided to read a lot of science fiction and fantasy this summer, since I quite enjoy it and it's a nice break from all the law reading I do. 

I've decided to adopt the tentative goal of reading all the novels that have been nominated for a Hugo before Worldcon this summer, when the Hugos will be presented.  This way I'll actually have a legitimate opinion on who deserves to win the award.  To that end, today I bought Spin by Robert Charles Wilson, Old Man's War but John Scalzi, and Accelerando by Charles Stross.  I'll eventually pick up Learning the World: A Scientific Romance by Ken MacLeod, and I already own A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin, the fifth nominee. Of course, to read Feast I'll first need to finish A Storm of Swords which is 1200 pages.  Considering I'm only on page 300, I've got work to do.  Plus right now I'm reading Daughter of the Empire by Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts, which I've been putting off due to school and now have a change to get into.  I also picked up The James Tiptree Award Anthology, Volume 1, which I'm quite excited about. 

Hopefully, then, I'll have some reviews up as I finish.  Fortunately I've got a nice long subway commute to work, so I should have time to get regular reading done.  The Hugo Awards will be announced at Worldcon in LA on Saturday, August 26th, so I've a bit more than three months to get these books read.  The full list of Hugo nominees is here.

Dame Fashion Smiles on Me


Woo! According to the Times, mid-thigh trunks are back in fashion for men's swimwear! This makes me happy because the only swim suit I own, and the only one I've owned for several years, is a pair of drab mid-thigh trunks. And now they're fashionable again! Take that, board shorts! Also, take that, Britney! That'll learn you to make fun of my swim trunks for being too short!

Mushroom Hunting

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If you are a fan of old-fashioned 2D platformers, and also an owner of a Nintendo DS system, it would be a damn shame if you did not buy New Super Mario Brothers.

A damn shame.

Bad Job Search Advice


Today I went in to the office I'll be working at this summer to get a quick primer on the operational-level stuff I'll be doing. Computer software, where stuff is in the office, etc.

Before I begin, I should start by pointing out that my most significant work experience was working as a clerk at the library in Berkeley. Most of my work involved various operations with the book and patron database, GLADIS. There was some general troubleshooting, periodic faxing and copying and laminating. Occasionally I worked with a typewriter. But mostly user-level databasey stuff.

When applying for this spring, I was told by everyone who offered me advice to de-emphasize the library stuff and find more volunteer/legal stuff. This was troublesome becaues I don't have a lot of experience with volunteer work or legal type stuff. Nonetheless, I reduced the library work to a bare minimum, practically a footnote on the resume, and replaced it with various relatively small-scale commitments (helping a friend teach a DE-Cal class, working as a poll worker in the 2002 California Primaries). Even that drew some comments from interviewers. "Library work? This is a legal job. How will that prepare you to work here?" I'd come to the opinion that I had wasted a year and a half working at the library, that my facility with GLADIS and Telnet and PINE and the IBM Selectric Typewriter were all a waste.

I arrived at the office this afternoon and was greeted by the paralegal who'll be coordinating most of my work this summer.

"Mostly what you'll be doing is working with these files that come in. You'll look up the tenant name in our database... Have you used a database before?"

"Yes, I have some experience."

"Oh, good. Well, you'll get a variety of different forms every day, each is handled in a different way, but I've put the details in this binder, which I've labelled the Intern Manual."

"Ah, I see. I think I should be able to handle that."

"Good. Anyhow, mostly you'll be processing these files and making alterations to the database."


"Now let me show you where the copier is."

"Oh, I think I've used that exact model of copier back at the library."

"Alright then, here's the cabinet in the back where we get office supplies... And this is our IBM Selectric Typewriter. I'll need to show you how to use this; we occasionally need to enter information into forms on it..."

"You know, actually, we used that exact model of typewriter back at the library for making labels."

"Well, okay then. I think you're set."

The whole training session took about 20 minutes. I will, essentially, be doing a slightly modified version of clerk work this summer. The only thing I've messed up so far, and that I need to get a handle on, is that I keep referring to the people in the database as "Patrons" rather than "Tenants." I only wish the files we were working with came on 3x5 cards rather than regular sheets of paper.

Consuming Conspicuously


And while I'm posting photos, here's one I took of my board game closet. As president of the Columbia Strategic Simulations Society, I am custodian to the club's treasure trove of games. I have carefully segregated the club's games from mine; club games on the top shelf, my games on the bottom. That's also why, if you look carefully, you'll notice two copies of Settlers of Catan.


Mr. Robert A. Ganush


I survived my last law school final of the first year, and have been celebrating not having anything to do by not doing anything. Sort of. For the last week thoughts of the eggplants in my refrigerator have loomed at the back of my brain, pushed aside to focus on the Rule Against Perpetuities, Easements, and Testatrixes. But thoughts of the eggplants have never left my mind. I knew they were in there, plotting against me in the crisper, preparing to rot and turn my entire vegetable bin against me. So today I struck at them preemptively by turning them into a tasty baba ghanush, to be served with homemade pita bread. Observe!


Property Final

Only 4 hours until the end of the first year of law school! The mandatory part of it, anyway. Woo!


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Sex just before bed the night before a stressful, thinking-and-knowledge-intensive four-hour final: Good Idea or Bad Idea?

(Title stolen from my friend Courtney's away message)

Theoretically, I should be studying today for my Property Law final. Instead, however, I have decided to gamble on the coming of the inevitable Socialist revolution before then. What's the point of learning Property Law when the State owns everything?

In that spirit, I say "Come, Comrades! You've only twenty hours left to seize the means of production and abolish private property before I have to take this final!"

It's a tricky thing, this coming Socialist revolution. You don't want to leave a paper trail indicating any kind of support for the Bourgeois Capitalist property system. More to the point, you don't want a bunch of exams lying around on professors' hard drives discussing schemes of private ownership of property; your very knowledge of the system makes you objectively pro-Capitalist. That isn't the kind of thing you want the prosecutor waiving around at your public show trial, I'll tell you what. No, if you want to avoid the purge, it's best to get the Party Line straight well in advance and make sure you don't write anything deviationary. With that in mind, the only logical course of action (according to the only logic worth using, Revolutionary Socialist Logic) is to anticipate the coming revolution in my Property Law exam, regardless of whether it has occurred yet.

In that spirit, I offer a few model answers to past exam questions given by my Property Law professor. Note that these answers might not have gotten good grades, or even non-failing grades, if graded by my professor. I remain confident, however, that such answers will garner full marks once reviewed by the Committee on The Correction of Bourgeois Historical Falsehoods, and that I will receive my proper A+ distinction for them once the dialectic has progressed to its next stage.

True or False. For False answers, give a brief explanation.

1. A license is inherently and always revocable.

False. The very idea of a license is foreign to the Socialist state. Because there is no such thing as private property, the idea that an individual could control the use of a piece of land or other property through the grant of a license is unfathomable. All may use all property at all times, and they require no license to do soe.

2. O gives $1 million dollars to Columbia Law School, so long as Property is not taught in the first year. Columbia has a fee simple subject to a reversion in O.

False. Columbia has nothing. If O is attempting to influence Columbia's instruction through blackmarket transactions, it is the university's duty to report O as a subversive element to the appropriate Party Committee, or else they risk a purge of their entire institution for Right Deviationism.

I am fairly confident in my mastery of Marxist-Leninist Revolutionary Theory, and should be able to give an ideologically correct answer to any question posed. There is no need to wish me luck; the socialist revolution is a historical certainty proved by the revolutionary logic of the dialectic. I only hope it will come in the next 20 hours.

Architectural Malpractice

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Let me start by describing my building, broadly. The floor plan of my building is like a big H shape. The horizontal line in the middle of the H is the hallway. Each floor has five apartments, one shooting off on each prong of the H's vertical legs, plus one small one in the middle of the horizontal line. The elevator shaft and stairwell face the small apartment. Anyhow, my apartment, like the other big ones, is long and narrow. We're on the bottom-left prong of the H, for reference. We have windows on both sides. On the north side the windows face into the hole at the bottom of the H, on the south side they face the apperture between the buildings on our street and the backs of the buildings on 112th St.

So this is all to say: No matter where you go in my apartment, there's a window facing out on a wall of more windows. Half the rooms face toward the backs of the 112th St. apartments, the other half face the the apartments on the bottom-right prong of the H.

Let me re-emphasize a point: Every room here has a window. Every room. That includes, but is not limited to, the bathroom, which has a nice big window placed conveniently right over the bathtub/shower. The glass is fogged, but when the weather gets hot in the summer you've a choice between being muggy and hot in the bathroom or allowing airflow at the cost of your shame.

Lately I've noticed that at least one of the girls who lives in the apartment on the bottom-right of the H one floor up likes to take showers at night. With the window open. The window opening directly on the shower that looks straight down into my kitchen.

This puts me in a bit of a spot. I like to use my kitchen. At the same time, I don't want her to glance out the window and see me there staring, looking as though I've staked out a watchpost to oggle.

I blame whoever designed the building, or at least whoever did the interior layout. Why would you put huge windows right over the long end of a bath in an apartment facing a wall of other apartments? Especially, as in the case of my shower, where, given a choice between a half of the wall hanging over nothing and a half hanging over the shower, they elected to put the window over the shower (or the shower under the window, whatever).

I suppose, though, the whole thing is another incentive to get in shape for the summer.

Some news from E3 while I take a break from the day's studying: Sony will be charging $500 for the PS3 base unit, which will be less powerful than the standard unit and do almost nothing. The price for the real edition will be $600. It will do nothing notably new, but will feature 1. slightly improvied graphics and 2. Sony's proprietary Blu-Ray discs. Blu-Ray discs are significant because they hold more data than a DVD, which would be important if there were any games currently being released that didn't fit on a single DVD, but there aren't. Blu-Ray discs are also proprietary Sony technology, so Sony will be able to take a larger chunk of the royalties.

Also, in response to universal hatred for the previously announced PS3 controller, Sony is making the PS3 controller exactly the same as the PS2 controller. But now it's wireless. And says "Playstation 3" instead of "Playstation 2." Also, because Nintendo's console had a good-looking idea with the built-in motion sensor, they installed a half-assed gyroscope in the controller at the last minute. No games are set to use it, but maybe they could in theory.

Also, the PS3 will look exactly like the PS2, but more curvy.

I hate to be the sort of person who predicts console failures on the basis of performance at E3, and Sony has displayed a remarkable ability to win every round of console generation that it competes in for no particularly good reason. Nonetheless, having bought a PS1 and a PS2, I really can't see myself buying a PS3. Now, the Nintendo Wii, that I'm excited about. I'm planning to make reservations to buy one from Nintendo World as soon as it comes out. I'll be waiting in line to buy it on the launch day.

And it'll be worth it when I get to be one of the first to play with my Wii.

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I hereby certify that the preceding examination answer is entirely my original work, that I consulted no outside materials in preparing it other than those permitted by the examination regulations, and that it was produced during the examination period.

Molten Boronary A. Slorpe 5/12/06


It probably speaks poorly of my preservation instincts that watching this video makes me really, really, really want to get my hands on some Thermite. I imagine the NYPD and the New York City Parks Department would not look too kindly on explosive experiments in Morningside Park. This assumes that I would not blow myself up in the process of playing with Thermite.

Safe Sex

Just wanted to share a fun safe sex ad. It's quite fun and cute, but definitely not work safe. It's a video for a French safe sex campaign, and it's aimed at gay men. It does play on sterotypes for laughs (as does its heterosexual counterpart), but it's so much better than the sort of overly-earnest safe sex ads we get in the US (and, of course, the pre-marital-sex-makes-you-go-blind sexual education favored by some) that I'm willing to give it a pass.

Con Law Done!

Gah, Con Law. It was a 24 hour take-home. I picked it up at 2 PM yesterday. I turned it in just before 1 PM today. I spent 22 of the intervening 23 hours working on it. Man, that was a crazy final. But now I'm done. I have ceremonially moved my Consitutional Law folder in OneNote from the Current Classes folder to the Old Classes folder. Whee! Only Rule of Law, Property, and the writing competition stand between me and freedom.

For those interested, here's the gist of my Con Law final questions. Note that there are more details in the final; the actual final was about 7 full typed pages.

1. There's this college, very elite, a state school. They didn't accept women until 1962. Until then, women all went to a women-only sister school. Now they do accept women. Lots of them. So many, that the class make-up this year is 59% women and 41% men. This seems to be a product of fewer men applying to college, or something. Noone really knows. But they're worried because, once a school's sex alignment gets too far out of whack, students get less interested in the school and the applicant pool gets smaller, and thus lower in quality. Anyhow: They decide to implement Affirmative Action for Men. They use a point system for admissions, with different GPAs and SAT scores giving certain points for hard factors, and then up to thirty points for soft factors. They decided to give all male applicants a bonus three points for soft factors. As a result, the new incoming class is 49% men, 51% women.

You're approached by a young, successful woman who applied to the school and was denied admission. Analyze her chances of winning a claim that that the school's admissions program violated her Equal Protection rights.

2. In an attempt to increase the rate of organ donations, your state has just passed a law declaring all internal organs the property of the state upon death. That is, from now on, whenever somebody dies, the body becomes the property of the state until any healthy organs can be extracted. After the state has no more use for your body, it will be returned to your next of kin for burial or disposal. The state Shinto society objects to mandatory organ donation, as it violates a number of their death rituals. They come to you. Assess the various paths you might use to attack the law's constitutionality.

3. This Fall, the Democrats sweep into controll of Congress. They immediately start a constitutional food-fight with the President. In a rider to a mandatory debt-limit raising bill, they attach a rider that 1. abolishes the position of Secretary of Defense and fires the current holder of the office 2. Establishes the new position of Secretary of Peace, which has the exact same duties as Secretary of Defense, and which will have all of the same personnel, but will need a new Secretary to head it. 3. officially repeals the Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraw. 4. Declares that the Defense department may not spend any money that has been or will be appropriated in the future on offensive operations in Iraq; only spending on immediate, rapid withdrawal of military forces will be tolerated. 5. Anyone, including armed forces members, in any way injured as a result of the violation of the previous provisions has a cause of action, for triple damages, against anyone involved, directly or indirectly, in violating that provision, including the highest civilian supervisor of the armed forces, but not including the President. Any previous immunities to lawsuit are hereby lifted. 6. You can bring this suit in any court, state or federal.

President Bush signs the bill, because they need to raise the debt ceiling. But in doing so he issues a signing statement saying that he refuses to comply by its unconstitutional terms, he considers every part of the relevant section null and void, but that out of respect for Congress the Secretary of Defense will now be known as the Secretary of Peace. Donald Rumsfeld remains defiance and continues offensive operations against insurgents in Iraq.

The day after the signing, a young private is killed in Iraq during a raid on an insurgent hideout. They day after, your parents come to you asking to sue Donald Rumsfeld for triple wrongful death damages in Massachusetts Superior Court. Explain to them all the constitutional problems that bringing such a claim would raise.

Since it's in the midst of finals and I'm in a very brief inter-final period (Crim's in-class final was yesterday from 10AM to 2PM, tomorrow morning I'm picking up a 24-hour take-home final for Constitutional Law) I thought I'd take a moment to post about grades and their peculiar impact on the mental and emotional state of law students.

Let me start by explaining the material elements that form grades in law school classes. This is actually really easy, particularly for my classes this semester. Final grades are computed by taking into account your individual grades in a number of assignments and tests, as well as your overall in-class performance throughout the semester. Each element is weighted according to how important the professor thinks it is. The following, then, are the possible elements that could go into computing a law school grade:
1. The Final.
2. There is no 2.

This is all a fancy way of saying that, generally, your entire grade in a law school class comes from the final. In most classes, the only feedback on how you're doing that you'll ever receive from your professor is in the form of a single letter, with a plus or minus distinction, on your report card three weeks after the class is over. Most classes have no TAs or discussion sections, most classes have no practice assignments or other ways to get feedback on your understanding of the material. Nobody has any idea of how they're doing until they're already done.

Now, I used some qualifiers above, but they're not significant. Some classes do have discussion sections, always optional, taught by upper-division students with a dubious understanding of the material and an even more questionable prowess for pedagogy. Some classes give written assignments, inevitably graded by the same upper-division TAs who will provide feedback that may or may not be useful. If classes do give written assignments, they either will not count toward your grade at all or they will provide a push-factor in the unlikely event that your final leaves you on the cusp between two grades. Since roughly 3 or 4 students out of 100 will find themselves on said cusp, and since it is unlikely that any of them will have done notably well on their assignments, the chances of your assignment actually altering your grade are virtually nill. Occasionally professors will use class participation as a similar push-factor for borderline grades; if you contributed during the semester in a way that was insightful enough for the professor to take note, you might get pushed to a higher grade level if you're on the edge. The same problems with assignments-as-push-factor applies, except that it's even less likely that a professor will remember your verbal contributions to the class. Finally, some classes assign papers or use class participation as an actual percentage of your grade; in all of these cases the weighting will be 90% Final, 10% participation or 95% final, 5% two written assignments. In other words, the final is so dominant in the weighting that the papers/participation are de facto borderline push-factors. (Also, in the interest of making sure I've left noone out, some crazy Marxist professors who hate America will grade you entirely on the basis of papers. If this occurs in a first year course, the course will be an elective in which the entire organizing theme of the course will be "Everything that's wrong with the law and why all you students are evil for failing to be part of the solution, and therefore are part of the problem." Any advantages gained by not having a final will be more than lost by having to put up with the professor for the entire semester. Moreover, the professor's paper-grading will be just as random and arbitrary as your other professors' final-grading.)

So your whole grade comes from the final and generally you have no idea how well you're doing until courses are done and you've gotten your grades. The other major reason law students are basket cases is how exam performance is translated into final grades. Law School classes are graded on a strict curve. Everyone takes a final and the professor grades it in her own idiosyncratic way, assigning a number score for the total exam. All the students' grades are entered into a spreadsheet, they're sorted from highest grade to lowest, and from there grades are determined. At Columbia, assuming a class of 100 students, the top 8 students will get As. The next 12 students will get A-s. The next 35 students will get B+s. The next 35 students will bet Bs. The remaining 10 students will get B-s. It is possible to get a C, a D, or an F, but they're not built into the curve. You have to have done something notably and outlandishly wrong, or betrayed a fundamental misunderstanding of the material, to get below a B-. (Inevitably, now that I've said this, someone who has gotten less than a B- will read this and get very angry. I apologize in advance. I do not, however, apologize to those who might read this and say "I haven't actually GOTTEN a C, D, or F, but I'm so incredibly behind in studying for _____ Law that I just know that I WILL get a C, D, or F." This is symptomatic of the basket-caseism that is the plague of all first-year law students.)

So you not only have no idea how well you're doing in understanding the material, your entire grade is based, not on some objective measure of how well you know the material, but on a more subjective comparison of how well you know the material to how well all of your fellow students know the material. This leads some (that is, all) law students to eventually make a fairly simple deduction: I can't tell how well I'm doing in understanding the material, but I can maybe get a sense of how I compare to other students in understanding the material. Down this road lies madness. This sort of thinking leads to studying arms-races, where students produce larger and larger outlines and spend 36 hours straight in the library, because if the guy in the study carrol next to me goes home later than I do, he'll have done more studying than I did and will do better on the exam than I do, which will make my grade lower. And of course the guy next door is thinking the exact same thing about me.

There is another factor. It is well known that, at Columbia Law, everyone gets a job when they leave school. Everyone. Not only that, everyone gets a good job, defined as a job that pays six digits as a starting salary, or a job that's notably prestigious (a judicial clerkship that will likely lead to a six-digit salary), or a low-paying job at a non-profit or politically activist organization that is highly competitive and thus hard to get (working at the ACLU, for instance). Everyone gets a good job, regardless of grades. Once you've gotten to Columbia, the difference in life outcome based on your law school grades will be negligible at best. Moreover, you'll note that the curve is designed to give lots and lots of people Bs and higher, and almost noone anything so low as a B-. In theory, everyone should be pretty much indifferent about grades.

But they aren't, and they aren't because of iron-clad laws of mathematics: Only 10% of a given student body can be in the top 10% of the class. This is unfortunate because, at a school like Columbia, 100% of the students are accustomed to being in the top 10% of their class. This leads to a general feeling that if you don't get at least an A-, that is, if you aren't in the top 20% of an exceptionally bright and hard-working group of students, you're an incompetent moron.

And so we have finals, when everyone goes batshit crazy studying in the hopes that their batshit studying is more batshitty than at least four out of five of their fellow students.

And here I am, biding time until my take-home Con Law final tomorrow. I should probably be going batshit studying at this point, but... eh. Maybe posting on blogs is the key to great law school grades. It seems as reasonable a theory as anything else I've heard.

(Lawyerly Disclaimer: In the above, any mention of "law school classes" or discussion of how law school classes work should be taken to apply only to first year law school classes. My understanding is that things generally work much differently in upper division classes.)


For those interested, Amanda at Pandagon is pulling a prank today. It's designed as a response to the annoying tendency by men of a certain nature, particularly prevalent on the internet, to disregard substantive arguments made by women and instead focus on how attractive or unattractive the woman is. The impetus for the prank was a slashdot post linking to an article by a woman on the subject of gaming. Roughly 90% of the comments completely ignored the substance of the article and instead focused on the sexual desirability, or lack thereof, of the author. It should be noted that the article had nothing to say about gender or sex and gaming, nor did it make any explicit or implicit mention of the author's gender; the only aspect of the article that indicated femaleness was the author's name in the by-line and her photo. The slasdot commentary included both dismissive comments (to the effect of "why should I care what she says? She isn't hot.") and comments that attempted to be supportive in a nonetheless objectifying way (posts that said "Don't listen to him! You're plenty hot!" while still ignoring what the article said).

Amanda has gotten sick of the way that women on the internet (and in real life too, obviously) are often treated as sex objects first and human beings with opinions second. She's even more sick of people who make objectifying comments without realizing that they're being dismissive.

Hence the prank: She's selected a male blogger of a fairly attractive nature who is 1. highly invested in his masculinity, and 2. generally dismissive of female bloggers. Today she has guided her posters, and anyone who shows up, to a post on his site with very few comments thus far. The mission is to leave comments that entirely ignore the substance of the post and instead focus entirely on the blogger's relative merits as a physical specimen. All are welcome, and encouraged: straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered, and comments can be positive or negative, so long as they aren't substantive.

Pre-Exam Giddiness

I am now sitting in my desired seat in the room of my final. I am alone. I was the first to arrive today. I got here 2 hours before my 10 AM final. This just confirms what my mom always told me: I'm the coolest kid in school.

Something I thought was funny as I read through the MPC before bed last night:

Model Penal Code
Part II. Definition of Specific Crimes
Article 210. Criminal Homicide
Section 210.4 Negligent Homicide
(1) Criminal homicide constitutes negligent homicide when it is committed negligently.

And for those interested, I'll officially be done with Criminal Law at 2 PM today (11 AM Pacific). Woo!

Statutes; Apathy


You know what I just realized? I love statutes. I loved the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure when I was memorizing and cross-referencing them for Civ Pro last semester, and I love the Model Penal Code. I get excited every time I look up a provision and carefully parse the words of the relevant subsection. I love saying "According to the MPC, section three-point-oh-four-parens-two-parens-A-parens-two-parens-three, you may justifiably use force to protect yourself against the occupier or possessor of property whom you know to be using force upon a claim of right to protect that property, provided that you believe that the force you deploy is necessary to protect yourself against death or serious bodily harm." Hopefully this will translate to facility interpreting the Model Penal Code on tomorrow's Criminal Law exam. Of course, since a huge part of the joy I get out of citing the Model Penal Code is the way the numbers, letters, and parenses role of my tongue in a melodious fashion, I'm a bit worried that this peculiarly verbal joy won't provide me with directly applicable skills on my exam.

Also, I believe a good sign that I've been doing too much studying is that I've begun altering my MPC citations to be about poking Kelsey in the tummy, e.g. "According to the MPC section two-point-oh-poke-parens-Kels-parens-tum...". Usually I only do this to lyrics of songs I have stuck in my head.

Finally, this is blog post number 333, which means I am officially invoking an intervention by Ralph, Demon Prince of Apathy. Of course, Ralph, being Ralph, doesn't give a fuck.


One of the more interesting, and confusing, aspects of the criminal law is the way that it deals with mistakes. It's actually reasonably consistent and makes sense, but in order to attain that consistency the law has to be somewhat complex.

Basically, there are two kinds of mistake: Mistakes about the law and mistakes about the facts. And for our purposes, there are two major crime categories to examine with respect to mistakes: Actual crimes and attempted crimes. Whether mistake will be an excuse depends on whether it was a mistake of facts or a mistake of law, and whether the crime succeeded or was merely attempted. Broadly speaking, if a crime actually occured a mistake of facts can get you off; a mistake of law won't. On the other hand, if a crime was merely attempted, a mistake of facts won't save you, but a mistake of law will. This sounds confusing and contradictory, but it makes sense

To start, understand that a crime generally requires two elements: an actus reus and a mens rea. An actus reus is a criminal act, the thing in itself, the real-world action that we have labelled criminal. Mens rea is a guilty mental state. You have to have been thinking culpable thoughts as you commited the actus reus in order to be guilty of a crime. A simple example: I am standing at the airport, and have set my bag down. I'm looking around for my gate, slightly lost. You walk by, casually pick up my bag, and walk off. I turn around and notice it's gone. Taking my bag was an actus reus; it's my property, and you took it without my permission. This is all very objective and easy. You've committed all the action you need to be guilty of a crime. But! The crime of theft isn't simply taking another's property, it's knowingly taking another's property. Suppose that you have a bag just like mine. You set it down somewhere else to go ask a directions to your gate. Thinking my bag was yours, you picked it up and walked off. Even though you committed the act of taking someone else's property, you didn't know you were taking someone else's property. You lacked a culpable mens rea, so you're not guilty of a crime.

And that's a classic example of a mistake of fact. The rule is that you're not guilty if you wouldn't have been guilty if the circumstances had been as you believed them to be at the time. At the time, you believed the bag was yours. If the bag had been yours, you wouldn't have been guilty. Therefore, your mistake of facts exonerates you. To complicate things, suppose you made a mistake of fact, but still had a guilty mens rea. Suppose you know a guy flying out of town named Jim who has a bag just like mine. You came to the airport to steal Jim's bag. I look like Jim from behind, and you thought it was Jim's bag. You stole it, only to discover you got the wrong bag. In this case, your mistake of facts doesn't exonerate you. Again, the court asks "if the world were as the defendant believed it to be, would she have been culpable?" You believed the bag was Jim's. If it had been Jim's and you had taken it, would you have been guilty of a crime? Yes. So a mistake of fact can generally get you off, but not always.

But mistake of law will almost never get you off. Suppose you've just moved to a state where it's illegal to buy alcohol on Sundays. You don't know about this law and somehow manage to buy a six-pack of beer without anyone telling you about the law (leave aside the improbability of finding a place that will sell you alcohol on Sunday without your realizing that it's some sort of black market transaction). You're arrested and plead that you made a mistake. Here, you made a mistake of law, not of facts; you didn't know what you were doing was illegal, but you knew that you were buying beer and that it was Sunday. The courts don't care. Ignorance of the law, as they say, is no excuse. The reasoning behind this rule is that if you could get off by not knowing what the law is, everyone would have an incentive to keep themselves willfully blind to the law. That's no way to run a well-ordered society. Moreover, citizens, the courts have decided, have an affirmative duty to apprise themselves of the law and conduct themselves accordingly.

Nonetheless, it is possible, though unlikely, to get off by arguing mistake of law. If a statute specifically requires a knowing violation of the law, failing to know the law prevents you from having the necessary mens rea. This presents a really tricky question with respect to modern regulatory statutes. A lot of times Congress will punt to administrative agencies to make their rules for them, and they'll pass laws saying, "We give authority to the Department of Such-and-Such to make all rules regulating gobbledygook. Anyone who knowingly violates the Department of Such-and-Such's rules on gobbledygook is guilty of a Class Q Misdemeanor." The crime is "knowingly violating the rule." So if you take an action that violates the rule, and know that you're taking that action, but don't know what the rule is, did you knowingly violate the rule? The Supreme Court's answer is: Maybe. About half the time they've said "Yes, that is a violation," and the other half they've said "No, it isn't." It seems to depend a lot on how obscure the regulation is and how reasonable it is for this particular defendant to know what the law is. Complex regulations of the importation of various metals: the companies are liable whether they know the regulations or not, because they're businesses in that field and can be expected to familiarize themselves with the law. Complex regulations of the use of food stamps: families aren't liable if they don't know the rules, because it's unrealistic to expect an impoverished family to understand a complex set of regulations like that.

You can also generally argue Mistake of Law if it's a very new law that hasn't been promulgated publically, but that's pretty hard to do these days when government printers can publish laws as soon as they're passed. Finally, you may get a mistake of law defense if you've personally inquired of the highest interpreter of a given law, rule, or regulation and they give you a bogus interpretation. So if you write the state Attorney General and ask whether it's alright to buy beer on Sundays, and he writes back and offers the official interpretation, "Sure, why not?" you can use that to argue that your mistake as to the law was fully justified, since you relied upon the official interpretation of the highest enforcer of the state's laws. Note that this has to be the highest interpreter (your local cop's opinion doesn't matter), it has to be an official opinion (something you overheard at a party won't work), and the law can't have changed materially since you got the interpretation (if you got the Attorney General's opinion last week, and the legislature passed the No Alcohol on Sunday Law this week, the Attorney General's opinion is no longer operative).

That covers mistake with respect to actual crimes. What about mistake with respect to attempted crimes? Here the presumptions are reversed: mistakes of fact generally won't save you, but mistakes of law will. Again, buying alcohol on Sunday. You know it's a crime, but you decide to go ahead and do it anyway. You march into a liquor store, grab a six pack, and openly and nefariously present it to the cashier. He makes the sale and you walk out, only to be arrested. The cops take you to the interrogation room, you waive your 5th Amendment rights, and you brag about buying the beer. "Sure, I wanted to buy beer. It's a stupid law and I'm going to violate it every chance I get until they change it!" But it turns out that you screwed up. In the midst of your heroic violation of an unjust law, you accidentally picked up a six-pack of non-alcoholic beer, which is completely legal. So you knew what the law was and you consciously chose to violate it, but you failed because of a mistake of fact. Guilty?

According to the Common Law and the Model Penal Code, yes. Again, we examining the world as you believed it to be. You believed the beer was alcoholic, and that it was Sunday. You bought it anyway. If that had been how things were, you'd have been guilty. Therefore, you're still guilty even though things weren't as you thought.

So what about the requirement of an actus reus? You've got a guilty mental state, but not a criminal act attached to it. That's where the law of attempts comes in. You're not just guilty if you commit a crime, you're also guilty if you attempt to commit a crime (though you'll generally be punished at a lower level). Attempts, though, also require an actus reus; it's not enough to just think about committing a crime, you have to do something about it. What acts are necessary to constitute an attempt is a matter of considerable debate, and different states have different standards, but generally you need to have taken a substantial step towards committing the crime. In this case, you've done everything you need to commit the crime, if the world had been as you believed it to be, and therefore you've committed all the actus reus you need to in order to be guilty of attempted purchasing alcohol on a Sunday.

Finally, mistake of law for attempted crimes. Now suppose that you once lived in the state with the alcohol law, but just moved to another state that is less puritanical. Your new state has no problem with you buying alcohol on Sunday, but you mistakenly believe that the alcohol ban is enforced everywhere. But one Sunday you can't take being without alcohol any longer and decide to go buy some beer. You're surprised at how easy it is, but your guilty conscience gnaws away at you. After drinking the full six-pack, you decide, in a melancholy and inebriated state, to clear your conscience by turning yourself in. You write out a confession and present yourself to the local police precinct. In this case, you've made a mistake of law. You set out to commit what you believe is a crime, you committed what you believe is a crime, but it turns out that it isn't a crime. Guilty?

In most states, no. I mean, it presents the interesting question of how, exactly, they would punish you. What would a judge do with you? How would he derive an appropriate sentence for violation of a law that isn't on the books, has never been on the books, and really exists only in your head? Moreover, there's a strong principle in American jurisprudence that you can only be punished for violating crimes that have been promulgated as statutes. You can't be guilty of a common law crime, one created by judicial decisions alone. Similarly, it seems vaguely wrong to punish someone for an unpromulgated law that exists only in their own mind.

Note that this standard doesn't meet the "if the world were as you believed it to be" test, since the opposite standard would fail to meet the pre-requisite "does this standard make any goddamn sense at all?" test. Nonetheless, in the interest of consistency the Model Penal Code, which hasn't been fully adapted by any state, and to my knowledge has not been adopted in this provision by any state, has denied that Mistake of Law should excuse an attempt. So the MPC would impose a punishment for buying the beer if you thought it was a crime. The MPC has a decent theoretical justification. You have the mens rea, you're culpable, and you carried out your plan to violate the law. You're therefore the sort of person who wants to violate the law and acts on those desires, so you should be punished whether it's actually a law or not. Nonetheless, as discussed, such punishment would be hard to work out in practice. Plus, it's pretty unlikely that surreptitious breaches of non-existent laws will be caught, so it doesn't come up all that often.

Finals Schedule

For those interested, my Finals Schedule:

Criminal Law: Tuesday, May 2, 10AM-2PM.

Constitutional Law: Take-Home Exam, Pick-up between 10 AM and 4 PM Thursday, May 4, Drop-off 24 hours later on Friday, May 5.

Rule of Law: Wednesday, May 10, 10AM-2PM

Property Law: Friday, May 12, 10AM-2PM

Writing Competition: Pick up packet sometime Friday after the Property Final, entry due Friday, May 19 before 5 PM.


Exactly what I don't need on the last day before my first final. I checked out a tape of a class yesterday to watch on-site. I returned to the desk, but the desk attendant had stepped out. I waited patiently. One of the reference librarians noticed and came over to ask what was going on. I told her I was returning the tape. She told me to just leave it on the desk and she'd make sure the counter attendant checked it in when he returned.

I just got an e-mail telling me that my tape is now 24 hours overdue, and since it's on course reserve that means a $1/hour fine. Now I have to go in to the library and sort this out, when I had been planning on staying inside and studying all day. Blar.

UPDATE: Alright, it's resolved. They actually had the tape and had put it on the shelf, but hadn't checked it back in properly. Annoying, insofar as it was their fault, but also a relief, insofar as I would probably be in a lot of trouble if someone had walked by yesterday and snagged the tape off the circulation desk.

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