The Deadman Night Rider

A forum for evening students of the SMU Dedman School of Law and other outlaws..

Sunday, March 26, 2006

J.K. Rowling, if you're listening...

If Harry Potter or Hermione Granger ever need to make some money in your upcoming books, here's a sure-fire get-rich-quick method: all they need to do is market the spell Briefus Escritorius, which causes a plumed quill pen to magically jam out a moot court brief, to hard-pressed 1L's around the globe.

No need to thank me, J.K--just send 1% of the royalties to me and we'll call it even.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Rockford, Rupert Rockford...

Or, in which the Deadman makes his first appearance in a Frank Crowley Court room

Yep, more drama club today. Volunteered to play a witness for the National Trial Competition this week. My character turned out to be Rupert Rockford, lead singer of the Dead Armadilloes, accused of starting a fire in a Dallas night club with their over-the-top pyrotechnics. Between this, the moot court practices, and everything else, I may have to apply for a SAG card soon. I hear the insurance is great...

Alright, RK--if you didn't like comparing law school to high school, how about thespian academy? As an aside back to high school, BB forcing us to do those weird things like 'cold interp' did kind of help here--in most of these things they only give you a little time to look over your character's deposition before you take the stand, and there's alot of 'fill-in the blanks' as direct and cross get going.

Another thing, even though everyone thinks they're a rock star in their own head, it's kind of strange to hear four twenty-somethings in suits walk around in a real courtroom referring to you as one.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Now I just need someone to decorate my locker...

I've probably run into ten people over Spring Break here in the library that wanted to shake my hand and tell me they watched me speak in the Closing Arguments thing, including a professor. In the kingdom of the blind, a one-eyed man is King--so maybe these moot court/mock trial things are the equivalent of sports teams in law school?

Is this what is was like being on the football team in high school? If so, I'm waiting for my brownies...

Friday, March 17, 2006


Never thought I'd see this many...

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Flat tires and Bong Hits 4 Jesus

That's about the size of it at the mid-point of Spring Break here at the Deadman. Walked out of the new casa this morning to head for the library and found the right front tire flatter than Debra Messing before she got pregnant. So, I had to pop on the donut (yes, I changed a tire--try not to faint) and get a referral to a tire shop from the Bad Ass Harley Bikers around the corner. An $8 plug later, we were off to the races.

First order of business: pull up the Bong Hits 4 Jesus case on Lexis. This case is actually germane in a way to the open brief hypo we're working on now since it has to do with limitations to free speech regarding school disruptions, even though it's in the wrong circuit--the fictional law firm paying our imaginary wages is located in the very real 11th Circuit. After reading the case, I actually agree with the 9th Circuit on this one (again, try not faint, even though this one is harder to imagine than me with tools in my hands). The school had basically let everyone out for the day to watch the Olympic torch pass by, the kid wasn't on school grounds, etc. A ten-day suspension seems kind of extreme, although there was some evidence that it started out as five days before the kid starting quoting Thomas Jefferson and the Bill of Rights. Still, I wonder if there's some way I can still work in the words "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" into my brief? Interestingly, the 9th Circuit rather primly avoided admitting that they knew what 'bong hits' were--given their record, THAT'S more unbelievable than anything that happened today.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

I owe it all to VHS speech and debate, sir...

That's what I should have said to one of the attorneys judging the Closing Arguments Competition on Saturday when he asked me where I learned how to present an argument like that--his guess was that I was married to a lawyer (we'll forgo any Brokeback Mountain jokes about my relationship with RK and Ross here). A professor that judged the finals last night also told me he would have thought I'd been doing this for years--so there it is, parents, take that football away from junior and put a flow pad in his hand! Twenty years later we're still getting mileage out of it!

Anyway, it was great to pull off a win for the evening students last night--some of them even turned up to cheer the ol' Hoss on. If I don't walk out of this place with anything else, I've got a little hunk of glass for my mantlepiece.

I think I'll make this my new screensaver

Thank God Wesley paid in my dues...

Here's an article that argues that the childless among us are economic free-riders that parasite off the child-bearing portion of society.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Can't mess with fate

Alright, it's looking like something or someone wants us in Dallas pretty bad. Things are on track to effect a sale of one house in Ft. Worth and a purchase of one in Dallas (owned by a former SMU law school employee) in just over 72 hours. Realtors on both sides have expressed amazement at the speed of this process. This could be shaping up into what RK calls a "God thing." RK--guess this could also impact that 'away team' thing--when the powers that be want you somewhere, they put you there...

More as it develops-

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Algebra and Algorithms

I learned last night that both of these words and concepts originate from the Islamic world--Algorithm is derived from the name of its inventor, Abu al-Khwarizmi, and the word algebra comes from a term he coined, al-g abr. Apparently the concept of algebra didn't reach Europe until almost four hundred years later, when Leonardo Fibonacci learned it while working in a trading post in Bejaia, a city east of Algiers in North Africa, then decided to travel throughout the Mediterranean to study under the leading Islamic mathematicians before bringing that knowledge back home to Italy in 1202. I'd be willing to bet that Bejaia was probably considered a 'god-forsaken' place compared to Pisa back then--who could have guessed that he would find something so significant there? And if Baghdad, the center of trade and scientific study in the 800s, had this knowledge for so long, why didn't they do anything with it? My guess is because they had the whole world coming to them for so long, they started to think that they were the world. No need to develop cartography or use math for navigation--why would you want to go anywhere else when everything you could ever want was in the caliphate?

It wouldn't be the only place that has happened. A few months ago, I read something I had never known in my life: the Chinese were sailing around the world in ships big enough to carry Christopher Columbus' Santa Maria in their cargo holds a hundred years before he sailed to the New World (click here to see a graphic). So why does most of the world speak English instead of Chinese? They burned their own ships to the ground and made it a crime to build a sea-faring vessel that could do more than hug the coastline. They thought they had everything, that they were the empire under heaven and that the rest of the world could do nothing but corrupt them. They're still paying for that decision even today. Just amazing.

Weird stuff, man. You've got to keep pushing those frontiers, or they'll push back on you someday.

Friday, March 03, 2006

A couple of notes on God-forsaken places

My commenter below, and a few other posters, use God-forsaken alot to describe the kinds of emerging markets I'm interested in, and make the assumption that they are filled with masses of be-nighted peasantry who toss in their weary beds tormented by the glittering lights of Las Vegas and visions of Big Macs and flat-screen TVs. I admit, if you only look at the immigration problem on the southern border, you might think this was all there is to it.

But that's not exactly correct--in fact, we're starting to see the beginnings of a reverse exodus, especially at the top of the market. People are coming here for the education, then high-tailing it back where they can put it to better use, as this article points out. And I've only linked to the first article that came up in a Google search of 'reverse brain drain.' There's nothing surprising about this--it's comparative advantage and making the most of your assets. Why be one of 10,000 engineers and not get paid for being able to speak Chinese, when you can go somewhere where you're maybe one of 10 engineers that speaks English and Chinese? Don't you think you'd be more in demand there? Get paid more? Have more responsibility?

People invest themselves in emerging markets for the same reason companies do: the upside potential is enormous. Atyrau will host the largest single construction site in the world for the next five years running. Russia has cities with populations of more than a million apiece (Nizhny Novgorod, Chelyabinsk) that have barely been touched by foreign investment because the potential in Moscow and St. Pete is still so high. And all of this is small potatoes compared to what's happening in China and India.

I guess it boils down to a matter of perspective. People tell me all the time that there are lots of things that need to be done here as well, and that's true, but our problems are those of affluence--figuring out how we can keep our success from killing us. Obesity, prescription drug abuse, diseases no one had to deal with before because no one lived long enough to get them. And obviously there are alot of people here that want nothing more than to stay here to deal with them--and that's great.

Meanwhile, there are other questions out there that seem remote, but sooner or later will come back to touch us here in the USA. Here's one, for example: Is Islam compatible with democracy? Or go back to the illegal immigration problem--wouldn't there be fewer people sneaking across the Rio Grande if there were more opportunities in Mexico and Central America? Every company I ever worked for overseas created good jobs for people--jobs that wouldn't have been there if we hadn't been there. There needs to be more of that, not less.

Anyway, that's all ahead. For now, we'll concentrate on getting there.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Lost one today

Just got an email from a guy in my section--he withdrew from the law school today. Man, I really hate to see things like that. He came here from the Marine Corps, so I don't think he's someone disposed to throwing in the towel easily. It had to have been a tough call. Anyway--the Deadman wishes our friend the best.

It just reinforces, though, how much I've got to make this thing worth it. I was thinking this morning driving in that this time two years ago I was in Moscow, and that soon it'll have been two full years since I left Kazakhstan. All the days since then, and before, that I sold an hour at a time sitting at a desk, pecking on a ten-key, letting my Russian fade away like it was never even there--there's just no house or car or TV or any amount of hot showers worth that. Not when there's a whole world out there. I had to wait years for an opportunity like ABE to come back along--I just have to hope there's one like it at the end of this term. If there is, I'm not going to let anything take it away from me.