Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Lit-Chick

And You Think Manolo Blahnik Doesn't?

Most things marketed to women are bad for our health, so why single out big tobacco? A researcher says that "women should know how far the tobacco industry went to exploit them."

The article highlights other "sin product[s]" marketed to women, such as beer, once producers found out women wanted to product at all. To encourage more lit-chicks, companies thought of making flavored cigarettes (which, hello, like, totally exist - well, at least flavored tobacco. Hookah, anyone?)

So What If You Can Take It Like A Man?

If you can't give it like a man, you're out. Take that Purple Heart and here's your discharge papers, sergeant!

P.S. This article also proves that there really is a think tank for everything.

Shoppers Beware

A recent study shows most people don't know that online prices can vary by shopper as 'net sellers reward loyal shoppers and punish bargain hunters by revealing different deals to different demos.

Okay, I'll admit it, I never even thought about a site selectively showing me prices based on my shopping history. In fact, I'd love more examples in this article about which on-line sellers employ such tactics.

The survey, naturally, is littered with questions on how "right" or "wrong" the practice is. Kinda turns the free-market concept on its ear, right? (I'm certainly not an econ gal, so you econ types, set me straight.) How can the market adjust to the going rate if the consumer doesn't exactly know what that rate is?

Basically, I figure everything I buy is worth only a third of what I'm likely to pay for it. Why do most of us bee-line for the sale rack? Whether the item I want will make it to the sale rack is a gamble - so sometimes, I just fork it over. I assume someone will get it cheaper, though.

Frustration-Attraction

From the Science Files, this NYT piece on the neuroscience of new love and the physiological reasons why we stay crazy - if not get crazier - when we get dumped. The biology here probably won't make you feel better if your someone just up and leaves you, but at least your insanity does probably come from an indentifiable region of the brain.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Ah, So That's The One He Dated

CMC's own "Charlie" is profiled in the NYT. He may be part sherpa, but he's still all Stag to us.

Note also, that while Blake's comment about his omnipresent black bag containing just his hair products is tagged as a joke, he is a very hair-conscious fellow. In fact, he tipped me off to my first stylist in Claremont, basing his recommendation on the aroma-therapy scalp massage before each shampoo and style.

The article does mention CMC by name and though it's been awhile since he was there, I have little doubt that CMC will welcome him back with open arms whenever he wants to come home.

And I'm guessing he'd be invited to speak at the Ath, too. Lucky dog.

On Images In An Image-Happy World

The Chron on part of Phoblog's namesake - and what the digital format may do to our culture:

But some observers think Americans' willingness to discard digital images is a sign that photos are becoming less precious.

"Taking pictures used to be an event of sorts,'' said von Glasenapp, the film retailer. "Now they have camera phones -- they e-mail pictures, look at them once and trash them. The image is not what it used to be. The value of the image is no longer what it was."

The rise of digital photography also raises questions about whether people will save these images for future generations, the same way they usually keep old prints.
And aside from questions of longevity and our future history, digital technology means manipulation isn't just for Joe Stalin anymore:

But never has it been so easy for so many people to alter a photograph. . . .

[W]hich raises questions of what images we can trust.

"People have to be skeptical,'' said Dennis Dunleavy, who runs the photojournalism program at San Jose State University and wrote his dissertation on the impact of digital photography. "It is a question of skepticism. It is a question of education. It is a question of not allowing people to be gullible."

But Dunleavy said the notion that the "camera never lies" has always been a myth. Photographers, he pointed out, have always presented just one, narrow slice of reality, while leaving the rest outside the viewfinder.

"As soon as I pick up a camera, I am editing my reality," he said.
I still say that while digital is nice, it's a far different art than traditional film. Plus, spending hours at my printer has never felt as good as the hours I spent in a darkroom in high school. It is sad that most of my photographed life over the past few years is on this computer and not in a more user-friendly photo album - which, like the darkroom, is just a more comfortable medium.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Cue 'Fame' Theme

Thought-provoking piece from the Chron on a local scientists successful efforts in extending the lives of worms. The wigglers lived up to 6 times longer, and were proportionately younger, thanks to the researchers tweaking of a key gene.

If she [ding! female scientist - wohoo!] can replicate the results up the food chain, that could mean a human life span of up to 400 years.

Would that mean junior high would last that much longer?

Friday, May 27, 2005

Thanks, Mr. Beatty - I'd Never Have Known Otherwise

Via The Roundup, Steve Lopez writes on a possible Governor Warren Beatty - reporting that Demo strategist Bill Carrick (who's gubernatorial pony, Bill Lockyer, put himself down not too long ago) said he doesn't think Beatty will run, but rather was "testing the water in the sense that he wants to lead the way for people to understand it's time to take the governor on."

No word on Phil Angelides's response to Mr. Beatty's apparent oblviousness to current challengers.

Beatty told the Cal kids that he has no plans to run, but that he'd do a much better job as Governor than Schwarzenegger. Oh really? What makes you think that? Schwarzenegger thought he could do a much better job too - until he realized that he had to govern in, um, reality - complete with unscripted (okay, unscripted by Schwarzenegger) Legislators, a difficult gauntlet of a system, etc. Government isn't a movie set. It isn't a business. It's its own institution with its own procedures and its own personality. Don't underestimate it.

And don't overestimate yourself.


[Ed.'s Note: Ah, the dangers of premature blogging. Now that I've read the whole piece (past the quoted text and past the first page of the LAT website), I see that Lopez works the same Angelides angle. Damn, someone should be paying me for my incredible powers of observation, prediction, and snark. Foolish mortals.]

That Sound You Hear Is Phoblog Weeping At Her Keyboard

Borrowing my own content from Metroblogging San Francisco, this story on Schwarzenegger fixing more messes he created:

I love government. No, really. I'm a grade A, government nerd. I even still believe in the system and its potential to do good things.

Which is why when I read about public officials doing things tailor-made for Leno's inane monologues, things that add fuel to most people's "I hate government" fires, things that give people one more reason not to vote - or worse, to vote for bad things proposed by other government-haters - I weep.

To wit - this item via BoingBoing, from a Chron article. Warning: Before reading further, we here at Metroblogging would ask you to take the proper safeguards to prevent blunt-force head trauma. Because the following story may induce sever head-slapping, now might be a good time to put on a boxing glove, mitten, or just grab something soft and fluffy, like a pillow, or your cat. Thank you:

Schwarzenegger creates, then fills Potemkin pothole
California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger dispatched a road crew to a residential street in San Jose to create a pothole, which he later turned up and filled, grinning for news-cameras and declaring his willingness to increase funding for transportation projects. The Potemkin pothole was later sealed by a roadcrew with a gigantic roller truck,
potemkinpothole.jpg
Porrovecchio and his business partner, Joe Greco, said that at about 7 a.m. they became fascinated watching "10 city workers standing around for a few hours putting on new vests,'' all in preparation for the big moment with Schwarzenegger.
But their street, he noted, didn't even have a hole to pave over until Thursday morning.

"They just dug it out,'' Porrovecchio said, shrugging. "There was a crack. But they dug out the whole road this morning.''

"It's a lot of money spent on a staged event,'' said Matt Vujevich, 74, a retiree whose home faced the crew-made trench that straddled nearly the whole street. "We still have the same problems. Everything's a press conference.''
To those worried about the cost, a spokesman tries to put to rest those fears:

Stutzman, the governor's communications director, told reporters that "the staging of an event like this is paid for out of the governor's California Recovery Team account,'' which pays for many of the governor's political activities, "so there's no taxpayer expense.''
Oh, I'd say it's a costly affair either way.

And to giving us that simulacrum-angle this story so desperately needed, the director of SJ Mayor Ron Gozales's communications said the "event involved 'not exactly filling a pothole, but it represented the pothole aspect' of the transportation funding measure." Actually, that's not a simulacrum - which is a representation of something that never really existed at all (think Tomorrowland). Potholes are a problem. But you'd think Schwarzenegger could've filled on that needed filling, instead of creating his own. Maybe he's the simulacrum.

I've worked in government. They aren't all like that. I promise. And the more we pay attention, the fewer of that sort there'll be. Okay, I'm off the soapbox now.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Yet Another Blogging Break

Some other obligations will keep me away from wifi this weekend - though there's always the chance I'll stumble into a signal here and there.

In the meantime, there's some new stuff of limited interested over at Metroblogging San Francisco if you're in need of content.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Student Advocacy Pitfalls

Via The Roundup -

Seems CSU students should ask their lit profs for a definition of "consistency:"

From our Mixed Messages file, CSU Bakersfield students will consider tripling activities fees this week from $51 to $168 to pay for the school's transition to Division 1 sports. Somehow, raising fees $117 for sports is different from raising fees by $186 for education, a move CSU students opposed when voted on by the Trustees.
Don't get me wrong - I actually think that athletics (just like music and art) are a vital part of education and the college experience especially. But it does seem like if they're willing to cough it up for one aspect of their education, their unwillingness to do so for the benefit of all students - including the vast majority who won't make the D1 rosters - rings a little, um, stupid I think is the word I'm going for.

Is This Objective Reporting?

Check out this lede from a San Jose Mercury News article on the recent legislative pay increase:

SACRAMENTO - The state budget continues to bleed red ink and public approval ratings of legislators are anemic. Still, on Monday lawmakers were handed something they could take to the bank: on Dec. 5 their paychecks will be 12 percent fatter.
Wow. Way to set the tone. Three grafs down the article does present a valid reason for the raise, but after that intro, who cares?

John Mack, president of the Los Angeles Urban League and chairman of the California Citizen's Compensation Commission, said that if his panel continued ``to deny fair compensation, we're going to further exacerbate'' the difficulty ``of attracting quality people'' for office.
And then:

The commission was set up in 1990 partly to insulate lawmakers from the political risk of raising their own pay. If history is any guide, however, legislators will still be assailed for obtaining a six-figure salary. California legislators also receive a tax-free payment of $138 for each day the Legislature is in session as well as other benefits.

Even before the commission's Monday's vote, the basic pay of a California legislator was the highest in the nation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. New York comes in second with $79,650.
Okay, so after the writer conditions the reader's eyebrows to raise in the lede, then the writer points out that legislators will be assialed for their new salaries? Haven't we sort of done that already? And, as discussed in previous comments, there's that nugget on our members being the best paid in the nation - with no mention of the fact that, duh, it costs a lot to live here, they're full-time, etc.

Note also the use of "Instead" under the subhead "Not all get raises."

To close the piece, the reporter chooses the following juxtaposition:

While lawmakers cautiously welcomed the action, it continued to meet objections in the governor's office.

``Obviously, this is the wrong time to be giving more money to politicians.'' said Vince Sollitto, a deputy press secretary for the governor. ``California continues to face tremendous fiscal challenges that have forced the state to forgo investments in many important areas,'' he added.
Talking Points: 1; Reporting: 0.

Summer Reading That Should've Been

Class Maledictorian punts a literary question our way: What are the 5 books I'm vaguely embarrassed not to have read. Because I still don't have my blogging game on yet, I'm happy for the prompt. Here's the Phoblog Hall of Shame:

1. Moby Dick. I know, blatantly cribbing the source here, but I've never read it, and frankly, have little desire to read it. Of course, Fagen assigned it to us my soph year at CMC. Still didn't read it. If I ever were to have read it, that would've been the time.

2. Anything by Ayn Rand. I just refuse.

3. David McCullough's John Adams Biography. It's been on my shelf since two or three Christmases ago. Still haven't read it. Want to read it. Mean to read it. Haven't read it.

4. The Lord of the Rings and related. Actually, like the Ayn Rand, I'm not sure I'm anything but okay with having missed out on these books.

5. 1984. Though I can make the same We're-living-in-an-Orwellian-World-And-I'm-ma-ma-Orwellian-girl jokes, I can't say I've ever actually read it. It's possible I was supposed to at some point, but I never did.

Runners-up: The Great Gatsby; The Chronicles of Narnia; Wuthering Heights; any number of political philosophy tomes necessary to maintaining a certain level of CMC street-cred; Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them; Primary Colors; Tom Sawyer; Huck Finn.

So, now that we all know how ill-read I am, I in turn punt to Fick and NT.

Monday, May 23, 2005

This Just In

According to our sources, CA legislators will be enjoying a 12% pay raise soon. The Reep Caucus discussed it today.

Oops, Chron has the story, too. So this isn't the scoop it'd have been had I been home to get the scoop-mail when it was sent. Oh well. I say go for it. Legislators are hardly overpaid. And though they get plenty of perks, they aren't really the kind of perks opposition hit pieces would have you believe. Oh - and no one start advocating tying legislator pay to timely budget passage. None of that, kids.

P.S. Local news coverage quotes Schwarzenegger Chief of Staff Pat Cleary as delivering the Governor's [predictable] criticism on how during a bad budget year, blah blah, negative message to voters, blah, legislators evil, blah, greedy blah blah [that's just paraphrasing, of course]. Does $110k and change sound like a lot? Yes. But - most Legislators must maintain two households - that alone is hard to do in California's real estate climate. Term limits, supposedly, gave us a more citizen legislature, meaning these are people who have stepped out of their normal career paths to serve the public good. It's an expensive job - if you want only the very rich to represent you, make it a low paying job too.

And salary critiques from Governor Schwarzenegger ring a bit hollow, don't they? What net value did he provide Californians that earned him his millions? His initial earnings came from downing performance-enhancers and lifting heavy objects.

There Are Other Ways To Say 'Sources Said'

But you won't read those exact words in that exact order in Newsweek anymore, as the magazine unveild new sourcing protocol. Wonder what creative nomenclature Newsweek will attach to sources from now on.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Blogger Break

Five finals down. One to go. After which comes graduation - er - "graduation" and all the associated activities. So it's time for a bit of a blog-break (more than the the already on-going break in regular coverage, that is). Some content might pop up - but we'll be back full[er] time on Monday, May 23.

As ever, thanks for your patience and continued readership.

Not Posting SOMETHING On This Topic Would Betray Inner Nerd

Okay, fine - it's an outer nerd too. Sheesh, tough crowd.

If not for tomorrow's exam (the last exam, praise god, allah, buddah, and whomever else you choose), I would probably geek out and try to catch a midnight showing of Revenge of the Sith (please, you don't need a link to know what that is).

I borrowed the second installment and started watching it the other night. I gave up with an hour to go - though I'll finish it before I catch Sith. Yawn - BORING. Dude, Lucas, man, what's up with that? The film confirmed by instict on Lucas - and to a certain extent - Spielberg, but that's another post: young, hotshots made better films when they were poor, unproven, and had to be more creative in both presentation and storytelling. Once Star Wars provided Lucas with boatloads of cash - he was free to over produce the holy hell out of our beloved stories. He's too light-saber happy for his - and our - own good.

Watching Episode II, I couldn't help be scratch my head and wonder if the dialogue in the first 3 films was as stilted. Lucas should be fined for forcing Natalie Portman to turn in such a crappy performance. I. wonder. if. the. script. had. periods. between. each. word. so. she. knew. to. slow. it. down.

The Chronicle review of Sith implies that it's more of the same - though does have slightly more weight in the story department. It's a great piece and deserves a read even if you'll be protesting Sith like my roommate. I can keep each trilogy separate - the beauty of the first 3 aren't tainted by the latter 3s' failure. To think of what might have been, though . . . .

If nothing else, this definitely calls for a long day spent watching Episodes IV - VI (and I'll be damned if I'll ever refer to the first one - yeah, I said first - as "A New Hope." Dorks.)

Lastly, in honor of the big premiere - a link to Triumph's visits the ''Star Wars'' Nerds from a few years back. I swear to you it is the funniest thing you will see all week, if not all month (well, not you Capitol readers who are gearing up for budget fights and working on press conferences - but this will be a close second).

He Is?

Nice headline catch by The Roundup -

The New York Times eloquently essentializes the LA mayoral results: Latino Defeats Incumbent in L.A. Mayor's Race.

Gotta love that ethnic-politicking.

So, that's over. Obviously, I'm displeased by the results. But a voting majority are pleased, so congrats to them.

By the way, the NYT lede says the vote "confirm[s] the rising political power of Latinos in the nation's second larger city."

Does it? And would we be lauding anglo bloc voting (if Villaraigosa's win is really a result of bloc voting, which of course, it's likely not)?

And I'll never understand the don't-vote-against-me-because-I'm-Latino-but-isn't-it-time-for-a-Latino-mayor rhetoric - though I suppose I should get comfortable with it since a vote is a vote, right? Seriously, though, it's a nuanced line of reasoning, isn't it - trying to find a way to downplay and play up one's identity at the same time.

I will never, however, criticize Villariagosa's lack of Spanish language proficiency. The one thing I hate more than the ethnic rhetoric undertones in this contest are the "who's the real Mexican" undertones that exist within the Mexican community and within the larger Latino community. If it's in the blood, it's in the blood.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Hey Angelenos, Don't Forget to Vote [For Hahn]

A nice vignette from L.A. Observed on each candidates posse and what they large or small packs might mean by 8pm tonight.

Kevin predicts Villaraigosa by 7 - 9 points. I'd say no more than 6, if he wins.

I still hope Hahn can pull it out - but it's probably too late for that.

Chicks And Science

This article on a daylong seminar on science for would-be girl scientists held in San Francsico at the California Academy of Sciences is really just an excuse-link so I can link to this article on evolution and the female, uh, just click on the link. All joking aside, it's a very interesting article - and somehow unites a few Phoblog themes on women, women in science, male-bias in medicine, and, oh hell, am I going to get in trouble with my mom again? . . . .

Stupid Peacock

NBC announced that next fall it will move The West Wing from Wednesdays to Sundays.

Why?

Wait, What Exactly Did This Guy Do Wrong?

I must not have read this story about Kweisi Mfume having dated an NAACP subordinate in 1997 - 1997 - enough times because I just can't really see the problem. The article says Mfume is divorced - I suppose "is divorced" might imply that he is now but was not then - but that's unlikely since he also adopted the woman's son. He also says the relationship didn't affect his personnel decisions.

People meet at work. People date at work. If anyone has seen an article alleging more wrong-doing than dating, please pass it on. Because as of now, I just don't get it.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Rare But Always Fun 21st Amendment Jurisprudence

Toward the end of finals, a bloggers mind wanders toward nicer things . . . . like booze.

But look! A story uniting both present and future focuses: Court Strikes Down Ban on Wine Shipments.

At issue was the 21st Amendment, which ended Prohibition in 1933 and granted states authority to regulate alcohol sales. Nearly half the states subsequently passed laws requiring outside wineries to sell their products through licensed wholesalers within the state.

But the Constitution also prohibits states from passing laws that discriminate against out-of-state businesses. That led to a challenge to laws in Michigan and New York, which allow direct shipments for in-state wineries but not out-of-state ones.

In a dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas argued that the ruling needlessly overturns long-established regulations aimed partly at protecting minors. State regulators under the 21st Amendment have clear authority to regulate alcohol as the see fit, he wrote.

"The court does this nation no service by ignoring the textual commands of the Constitution and acts of Congress," Thomas wrote.

He was joined in his opinion by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, as well as Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and John Paul Stevens.

While the ruling only involves wine sales, industry groups expect that it will soon apply to beer and other alcoholic beverages currently regulated through state-licensed wholesalers and retailers.

In the ruling, Kennedy wrote that states do not have the authority to regulate liquor simply to protect their economic interests.

The decision puts in doubt laws in 24 states that ban out-of-state shipments, although the opinion suggests the laws will be upheld so long as in-state and out-of-state wineries are treated equally.
Wow, Stevens, strange bedfellows on this opinion. And c'mon dissent - protection of minors? Sure, that's sort of a side bonus, but it's a rather tortured construction when no matter what the briefs say, it's fairly obvious that the purpose is economic protectionism. Legislators, open your Con Law I casebooks, please . . . .

Big day for little wineries everywhere.

Would-Be Governors And Mayors

Two Roundup clips worth noting - on money and politics and race and politics:

In some good news for the governor, it looks like there may be a Democratic gubernatorial primary after all. Matier and Ross report the rumor that's been circulating around Sacramento for weeks has finally come to pass: Steve Westly finally pulled the trigger on that $10 million check for his gubernatorial campaign. "Serving notice to fellow Democrat Phil Angelides that he has every intention of competing big time for the party's nomination next year. 'This is just the first,' said Westly's campaign manager, Jude Barry. 'We know we are going to have the resources to win -- and probably more than Phil.'''

And as Governor Checchi and Governor Simon know, money is everything in California politics.

...

As the campaigning continued before tomorrow's mayoral runoff, Antonio Villaraigosa played the Tom Bradley card. "'There were some who questioned whether or not he could represent the entire city,' Villaraigosa said of Bradley. 'They said, 'I know you can represent them, but can you represent all of us?' In that first election, he wasn't quite able to convince all of the people of this city.' ... 'Four years later, he was back. He was back and with him a broader coalition for a new Los Angeles. Nobody today, no one, would question whether or not Tom Bradley was a mayor for all of us. We know he was.'"

Bradley also twice ran, and lost, for governor. We figure it's only a matter of time before Villaraigosa gets similar ideas, assuming tomorrow's vote goes as expected.
Maybe it's because I'm not in LA, or because I'm firmly committed to Hahn (absentee is in the mail, Jimmy), or because I'm a mutt, or because I'm naive about race in LA (which I really don't think is the case), or just wishful thinking, but I just don't see Villaraigosa as disadvantaged by his ethnicity. If I may borrow from Sex and the City: there's a scene in the last season where Miranda's co-op is interviewing a hottie African American doctor for an apartment. She takes a liking to him and when the co-op board hesitates over financials, etc, she says "I think we all know what's not being said here," succesfully using the spectre of racial animus to get the hot doc in. I'd really hate to see Villaraigosa chalk up a loss to white Angeleno racism when it's possible that fewer people think he's the right man for the job, period. Hertzberg didn't get the nod either.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Another Race, Another PR

Check out my Bay to Breakers coverage over at Metroblogging San Francisco.

The short report: I shaved 2:58 of my 12k PR time; there were too many nekkid runners; and some chick named Wendy got engaged. Assuming she said yes. . . .

Saturday, May 14, 2005

This Article Makes Me Feel Old

And unaccomplished.

Via L.A. Observed, a piece on the L.A. Mayoral race's oppo kids. Correction: oppo boys.

There's a lot of testosterone in this article. Not abnormal in the hackosphere, as it were. The Oppo greats are all men - at least the ones that come to mind.

Blawg-servation

Blawging makes me a lazy blogger. I've been taking too many liberties with my own website - shoot - just ctrl+F the number of times I've said "I," "I've," "I'm," etc.

Just trying too keep those RSS feeds active. Can't wait to get back to policy stuff. I hear there's news out there still . . . .

Friday, May 13, 2005

Somewhere, Dave Is Smiling

Wendy's baked potatoes and salads got me through my time on the campaign trail. I'm glad it looks like they will be vindicated on the finger issue. The only fingers they got are the chicken kind.

Graduating Blawgers Get Retrospective

Always smart, always funny, and, most importantly, always correct blawger Class Maledictorian rights some of the bad advice offered by uberblawger Jeremy Blachman. What he says:

the standard advice you hear that law school is to train lawyers and if you aren't sure you want to be a lawyer, don't go to law school. It's good advice. Sort of. It's true. Sort of. But it's also kind of stupid. As much as anyone wants to argue that law school is of value primarily if you want to be a lawyer, it's hard to deny that the law degree has value beyond that. It's a set of skills. It's a credential that sets you apart. If you go to a "name" law school, it's another name on the resume to help impress, it's another set of alumni and possible connections, it's an education that can help in a whole variety of fields -- government, policy, even just being an informed citizen -- not just the law.
What she says in response:

These are reasons to go to Harvard, not reasons to go to law school. Going to HLS can help you in a lot of fields because it is a national law school with a impressive reputation in all the circles where government and policy wannabes will flock. It is able to do this because it minimizes the extent to which law school is a trade school. Every damn class wants to be a Con Law class. Every course spends a huge amount of time discussing policy. This is because we don't learn much black letter law or practical lawyering skills. If we had spent three years learning the law of some specific place instead of reading Restatements and trying to make a federal case out of everything, we would not have the sort of education that would apply as broadly as Jeremy's saying.
The rest of the post is equally accurate. The only thing with which I would disagree is her advice to not always attend the best school to which you're accepted. I would say, if you're going to attend law school (whether because it's your calling or you insist on the fatal "it's still a valuable degree/I don't know what else to do" error) you should absolutely attend the best school possible. In fact, especially if you're going for Blachman's non-practicing reasons. The better the school, the stronger the network and the further the name carries you.

On the eve of my pseudo-graduation (and, hell, every other day of this experience), I think back to the advice offered to me on whether to attend law school. One side said "if you don't want to practice, don't do it." The other said "you lack focus, do it." As it turns out, while I certainly do lack focus, the first bit of advice was the one I should've chosen.

I wanted to learn to speak attorney, as it were, because so much of the legislative process is run by, written by, gummed up by, ends up in the hands of lawyers that not understanding them can doom legislators and staffers to failure right out of the gate. The sheer mythos of attorneys gives them an advantage: lawyers are smart, cunning, strategic thinkers - heavy hitters - so you best use caution and/or defer to them. Here behind the curtain, however, you learn quickly how faulty those beliefs are. That's not to say that many lawyers aren't smart, cunning, etc. But it's not passing the bar that makes one this way. I saw this in Sacramento last spring. I caught several lawyer-lobbyists trying to legalese me into a hypnotized state of support or opposition to their cause. Then I legalesed 'em right back and watched them deflate in front of me. It's not that I'm super-smart or lawyering-savvy. It's that I speak their language now - and fluency is a great equalizer.

The problem, though, is that I learned the language when I was a 1L but still had to - well, chose to - stick around for the subsequent, superfluous 2 years (Hobson's-chose, I suppose, since the nice folks at the ABA and the State Bar didn't give me much of a choice). It's been a frustrating and consuming experience.

But Amber makes a good point about choosing misery in law school. The prevailing groupthink can force you into the "bar classes," indentured law review servitude, or other I-should endeavors. The right way to do it would've been to buck trends more than I ended up bucking them - taken more practical classes, more things I wanted to take. In some ways, I did this (my semester in Sacramento and, strangely enough, this semester's business law classes). But I should've done more skills oriented activities. But, hindsight, etc . . . .

I often tell those who ask me for advice on law school that I am, in fact, the poster child for how not to go about deciding, applying, and attending law school. This doesn't make my advice less valuable, but it's definitely a more rare form of advice.

If I had it to do over again, I wouldn't. Whenever I say that within earshot of my mother, she gets sad. I wish she wouldn't, because it doesn't make me sad. It's just my personal evaluation of my life choices. If this is my biggest problem, I'd say I've done okay for myself since there is still inherent value in a legal education. But it shouldn't be rationalized to be more valuable than it actually is. The opportunity cost is very, very high.

Oh, and, pursuant to a discussion on another blawg, I have one last bit of advice for rising 2Ls (with a hat tip to jbl): Make love not law review.

LAAFB Seems Safe For Now

Don't see it on this list of proposed military base closings - which is a nice surprise.

More on Rumsfeld's list.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

And If The LA Times Jumps Off A Bridge . . . .

You know, I was just thinking, "hmm, I hope that just because the LA Times finally fixed their formerly crappy website, the San Francisco Chronicle, with the really good site, doesn't get all crazy and mess up theirs."

Yeah . . . . well . . . . bummer.

Hey, Read This

Yeah, the The Roundup always has the day's top stories. Those boys aren't in finals, so read their rag - it's fun . . . .

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

I Got 99 Problems, But An Illegal Search Ain't One

This post isn't for the kiddies . . . . . excuse the explicit language - but it's artisitic expression, people. Don't be haters.

My study partner pointed out tonight the handy stop & search tips in Jay-Z's "99 Problems" - and, well, he's right. This is pretty good law:

The year is '94 and my trunk is raw
In my rear view mirror is the mother fuckin' law
I got two choices y'all pull over the car or (hmmm)
Bounce on the devil put the pedal to the floor
Now i ain't tryin' to see no highway chase with Jake
Plus i got a few dollars i can fight the case
So i...pull over to the side of the road
I heard "Son do you know why i'm stoppin' you for?"
Cause i'm young and i'm black and my hats real low
Do i look like a mind reader sir, i don't know
Am i under arrest or should i guess some mo'?
"Well you was doin fifty-five in a fifty-four"
"Liscense and registration and step out of the car"
"Are you carryin' a weapon on you i know alot of you are"
I ain't steppin out of shit all my papers legit
"Well, do you mind if i look round the car a little bit?"
Well my glove compartment is locked so is the trunk and the back
And i know my rights so you gon' need a warrant for that
"Aren't you sharp as a tack, you some type of lawyer or something'?"
"Or somebody important or somethin'?"
Tah i ain't pass the bar but i know a little bit
Enough that you won't illegally search my shit
"We'll see how smart you are when the K-9 come"
I got 99 problems but a bitch ain't one
Hit me
Thanks, Jay-Z

Happiness Is . . .

"Studying" with an episode of L&O where the victim gets carted off on a laundry list of securities laws violations . . .

Does watching this mean I'm actually studying for 2 exams in stead of one?

(Yeah, I know, I don't like blawgs either (except the ones to which I link because I love my friends). Promise to be back to blogging soon.)

Monday, May 09, 2005

Science Report: Sure, Kick Out That Leg Too

Scientists may be closing in on proof that physics constant might not be so constant after all:

But skeptics, citing observations that contradict the claim that alpha is changing, are plentiful -- and even the pro-change claimants are being cautious, partly because there's so much at risk. The notion that the laws of physics are eternal and unchanging is one of the ground-floor assumptions of everyday life -- when you drop a ball, for example, you expect it to fall, not to rise -- and no one wants to abandon that assumption unless they've got compelling reasons.
Are you kidding? You can't go changing the laws of physics on a gal. Unfair. Yet fascinating.

Blawg Entry: Finals Recovery In 3 Easy Steps

1.) Consume one Cosmo at Lalita's

2.) Bake chocolate lava cake.

2a.) Eat [piece of] chocolate lava cake.

3.) Watch episode of Law & Order: SVU

3a.) Count hour of L&O as Crim Pro study when that driven, passionate D.A. Alex jeopardizes her job - and the sanctity of the Fourth Amendment - to get vital evidence; succesfully fending off an inadmissibility challenge based on the defendant's lack of standing since the search, though illegal, was conducted in a 3d party's home.

Just think how much more fulfilling L&O will be after I take Evidence next semester.

Booyah.

About Freakin' Time

L.A. Observed reports that the insulting and self-defeating Great Wall of Entertainment falls tomorrow as latimes.com readers once again have access to Calendar content.

I still say it's a rather telling indication of the state of things when a paper blocks free access to entertainment reports but allows all that news crap and boring stuff to be read for free.

Sad.

Roderick Observed

Via blogging.la, a LA Downtown News article on L.A. Observed's Kevin Roderick and the site's second birthday.

First off, congrats on the big 2.

The article describes Roderick's rising readership - which includes devotee's in most City of L.A. offices and the Governor's office. He's certainly responsible for keeping Phoblog in the L.A. loop.

The article quotes Martini Republic's Joseph Mailander, who criticizes Observed entries from "smaller, lesser-known" bloggers. The article is hazy on what Mailander means by that - we here at Phoblog love a good L.A. Observed link (the traffic spike is noticable and appreciated) - saying Roderick's links are good for print journos but that he is "generally not good for other bloggers these days." What does that mean? Who knows - but Roderick takes input seriously, and links where linking is due. That makes him top-shelf in our book, er, blog.

So congrats again, L.A. Observed. Keep on bloggin'.

Also in the 'sphere: chatter abounds over the new The Huffington Post a celeb-post-apalooza featuring Larry David, John Cusak, and even former Phoblog guestblogger Jim Pinkerton. Just remember, he guestblogged here first (we snag even the most meager bits of quasi-credit).

Semi- or un-intentional funny alert: Huffington's banner touts "DELIVERING NEWS AND OPINION SINCE MAY 9, 2005." Wow, quite an accomplishment.

BRAC With a Vengence

Something to watch: Pentagon recommendations on base closures expected this week:

Concern has focused on two installations in particular: Los Angeles Air Force Base and the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey.

The L.A. Air Force Base houses the Space and Missile Systems Center, which designs and procures the military's satellite systems. Colorado Springs, Colo., home of the Air Force's space operations headquarters, has been making a play for the facility, but the L.A. base's neighbors have spent nearly $1 million on a lobbying effort to keep the base. They argue that the scientists who work there wouldn't move to Colorado.

Officials in Monterey are facing rumors that the military wants to do away with the Naval Postgraduate School altogether and send the 1,500 officers who make up its student body to civilian universities or broaden the curriculum at another military school to make up for it.

The officials are making the case that unique research is happening at the school and it's actually more cost-efficient to educate students there than elsewhere.

"The show isn't over until it's over," Deputy City Manager Fred Cohn said.

California lost more than two dozen major bases in the four previous BRAC rounds - a disproportionate hit that accounted for nearly 30 percent of the total cuts nationwide, according to a report by the California Council on Base Support and Retention, appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

State officials say that in past rounds, the state didn't put up a united front in defense of its bases. This time around, the state's congressional delegation has been unified on the effort, and the council Schwarzenegger appointed was the first-such effort by the state.

"I think we've made a strong case for California," said House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine. "I think the Pentagon understands it, and I think we're going to do well in this round."
We hope so.

Oppo Guys To Do Own Legwork Again

Since the FPPC is too busy to generate the good ammo.

From the L.A. Times (via The Roundup), understaffed, overworked FPPC has huge case backog with little relief in sight. Complaints aren't investigated, fines aren't collected, and paperwork unsavvy city councilmembers are still roaming California streets freely. Parents, lock up your children.

But even if efficiently enforced, do the laws accomplish . . . anything?

For example, the article lists gives the example of a $400 fine paid by actress Rhea Perlman for failing to file a major donor report required because of her family's $10,000 contribution to Californians for Schwarzenegger.

Let's see: a $400 fine for someone who could afford to donate $10,000. Yup, that'll learn 'em. The $263,000 fine for Cruz Bustamante's violations - $4 million worth of violations - is more of a chunk - but what's the harm? By that, I mean, do the fines deter any behavior? Perlman might have been annoyed, but she wasn't strapped for cash. And if that $10,000 donation made the difference - if Arnold just had to have that $10k to pay for the TV ad that made the difference - then why worry about compliance at all? Let alone timely compliance.

The failure to file a timely major donor report isn't as great an evil as violating campaign contribution or expenditure limits - but those fines are equally questionable. So you pay a fine later - big deal. If you win, you still get to hold office (unless you get nabbed under some reallllly awful violation of the laws - up to fraud level and then we have impeachment, etc etc).

If the goals here are strict compliance with the law and prompt disclosure, why not scrap almost all of the FPPC and put that budget toward building a really good computer system. I'm thinking a paypal-ish model: all candidates get their own fund. To donate, you have to run money through this computerized database (yes, treasurers could collect checks, etc, so no digital divide would prevent civic participation) and it would immediately require the input of information required by major donor (or other donors) and would simply disallow submission of a donation that would exceed someone's statutorily permitted contribution amount. It'd be an algorithm thing. No clerical errors. No delays. No excuses.

[And yeah, most candidates have to use law firms or professional treasurers anyway because we've made this SO COMPLICATED that a local office-seeker would be nuts not to protect him or herself from adverse actions easily avoided by someone adept at hoop-jumping. Nice industry we've created. Not that I'm in any position to complain.]

Candidates would likewise have to pay out of these accounts that have very strict input controls. Yes, the output would be trickier - maybe they'd all have campaign debit cards - no self-reimbursing - everything is done What-Not-To-Wear Style, prepaid Visa in hand, Joe Council-Candidate uses the card to pay Sally Sign-Maker and everyone's happy.

The candidate could still, of course, dump as much of his or her own money in as needed.

I know there are about a thousand holes in this idea - and I also know of at least 3 political lawyers who read this blog - so you see the comments button down there: use it.

Someone make me a good argument for saving the FPPC as it currently exists.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Kids, Start Your Campfires



During the dog days of spring (2 exams down and f-o-u-r to go), a girl's mind naturally turns to fonder thoughts - like summer camp. Especially when The Youngblood's "Let's Get Together" is on the radio . . . .

If anyone is looking for a cause or a worthy recepient of those end-of-the-fiscal-year-mandated-charitable-donations, might we suggest the San Pedro & Peninsula YMCA Camp Programs? (p.s. hey Stags and Athenas, since I'm on the Giving Committee, I feel compelled to remind you not to forget to kick a little back to your alma mater, too. John Faranda thanks you.)

Along with my parents, Y-camp is largely responsible for who I am today. If I could make it a career, I'd be a professional camp counselor and leave this law crap behind in a heartbeat. If you do it right, you can do more to help a kid in 8 days in the mountains than you can during the other 357 days in the year.

Camp is damn expensive these days (anywhere between $250 and $400 or so depending on the program). But it's the best investment in the future you can make.

My suggestions: If you see a kid selling Butter Toffee Peanuts emblazoned with a "Y," buy some. Or give the kid a $20 and let him keep the nuts.

Or save the legumes and send a donation to SPPY (they don't appear to have an online-donation form, unfortunately). Send checks payable to The YMCA Campership Fund to:

San Pedro & Peninsula YMCA
301 S. Bandini Street
San Pedro, CA 90731
Attn: Campership Fund
Or call (one of Phoblog's favorite people) Mark Linscomb for more information - (310) 832-4211.

Feel free to find the Y in your area, as well. I'm SPPY-biased, obviously, and I can attest to the need in the area, but other Ys would appreciate your help too.

Thanks.

Blawg Solidarity

Not to blog off-topic, but as I waste away on a Saturday night outlining Criminal Procedure (while thinking about Stiffs & Gifts and wishing I were studying for Securities Regulation because it'll be the baddestassest test of all), I can't help but pause to check in with my friends and fellow bloggers (they're more blawgers than I)at Neo Tokyo Times (outta NYU Law), Class Maledictorian (outta Haaavard), and Hastings's own Dangerous Proximity to Success (formerly "Penguin Defenestration," which I still say is a fantastic name, but DPTS is good too).

On nights like these, when it's just me and my notes, it's nice to have them with me.

And bonus to Fick for some fun Civ Pro pick up lines. Arises under, indeed.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Hackerita

So, with a little code nipping from related Blogger templates, it seems that comments are again available on the main page. Let me know if something seems broken somewhere else as a result of my limited hacking abilities.

Also - I'd love feedback on the Blogger comments system. I'm considering Haloscan as well - but if Bloggers comments suit you readers, I'll keep it since then I'll have the Blogger superstars to back me up.

As ever - thanks for your patience during this drawn-out process . . . .

Thursday, May 05, 2005

By The Way

Yeah, it's finals and that means Phoblog will frequently fall down on the job until the end of the month.

In the meantime - as ever - recommended political reading remains The Roundup, L.A. Observed, Rough & Tumble (not as much fun as The Roundup, but still useful), and a new one - Athene in California from New America Foundation fellow Heather Barbour. Still exploring that site, but she's got redistricting posts, so she's alright with us (and extra credit for a well-written comments policy).

And if you're curious about Karachi, mulling over Manila, daydreaming about Dallas or wondering if you left your heart in San Francisco - remember to check out the Think-Global-Blog-Local fun over at Metroblogging.com. Lotsa cities, Lotsa bloggers . . . .

Knock yourselves out. And thanks to those of you sending in articles and other notes - not ignoring you, just drowning in exam prep.

Science-Schmience

FDA to Implement Gay Sperm Donor Rules

... Based not so much on science. Any Daily Show watchers out there remembering the Frist-tears-pass-AIDS clip?

Though I'm now through with my Sexuality and the Law class - this article caught my eye, particularly because, as it points out, the proposed prohibitions fly in the face (eek, over-used-law-idiom-alert) of current HIV transmission statistics:

"Under these rules, a heterosexual man who had unprotected sex with HIV-positive prostitutes would be OK as a donor one year later, but a gay man in a monogamous, safe-sex relationship is not OK unless he's been celibate for five years," said Leland Traiman, director of a clinic in Alameda, Calif., that seeks gay sperm donors. . . .

"The part I find most offensive — and a little frightening — is that it isn't based on good science," Cathcart said. "There's a steadily increasing trend of heterosexual transmission of HIV, and yet the FDA still has this notion that you protect people by putting gay men out of the pool."

'Don't Bother, I'm Not Drunk Yet'

So reads a new Abercrombie & Fitch t-shirt that makes SF Chron columnist Joan Ryan really angry.

I'll confess that the shirt slogans made me laugh when I read them, but when I think of 15 year olds wearing them I feel guilty for laughing.

Ryan's beef: with many teens killing themselves by binge drinking, teen meccas like A&F commit particularly heinous offensives when they glorify drinking. Do legal drinkers shop at A&F? Sure. But more often it's the teen - or even tween - set forking over mom and dad's hard earned dough for cheap, hole-ridden shirts and shredded jeans.

Does A&F owe any kind of fiduciary duty to teens as creators and purveyors of pop-culture?

Do parents owe any kind of duty to their children and the community generally to, um, parent? Who's footing the bill for these fashionistas? A&F can be pricey for me - imagine what a bite it takes out of the average teen's afterschool job.

Is it foolish to blame the free-market-lovin' Fitch?

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Comments Sorta Available

If you click on the "Link" link below any post and navigate to the individual post's page, you'll see a link for Blogger's comments service. The Phoblog tech team is sorting out various bits of code to get that link back on the main page, but for now, should you feel so moved, feel free to post comments via this somewhat more click-intensive method.

We miss comments desperately - their absence makes things less fun. Promise to get them fully up and running soon . . . . .

My Condition Has A Name

Kind of a stupid name, "info-mania," but a name, nonetheless - and some negative consequences as well: E-mail addles the mind / Endless messaging rots brain worse than pot, study finds

And supposedly the effects are even worse on women. Though I find that hard to believe since I thought we were biologically better at multitasking than our one-tracked, hunter other-gendered companions.

If unchecked, the researchers say info-mania damages performance by reducing mental sharpness.

So surfing and blogging during finals might not be such a hot idea . . .

Still more fun than studying.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

R.I.P. CommentThis

Our worst fears have come true:

It looks like the Comment This! service is no more.
It's been a good run, but the hard drive that the Comment This! data resided on died, and is not recoverable. I only received about $160 in donations, and that doesn't even cover my bandwidth for two months, much less replacement hardware. Blogger's comments system works well enough, maybe you should try it.
Regards,
The CommentThis! admin.
Fortunately, my exams will keep me from mourning the loss of your thoughtful comments (and especially your brilliant caption contest entries) for now.

Their loss isn't analogous to the burning of the library at Alexandria, but losing any meme is sad, indeed.

My sincerest apologies - and know that I'm just as sad as my regular commenters.

I'll get a new system up as soon as possible. . . .

Monday, May 02, 2005

Thanks for Visiting, Please Go Home!

That sound you hear is California groaning under the weight of massive migration: after the sixth straight year of 500,000+ population growth, one out every 8 Americans is now a Californian.

Good news: more congressional seats gives Phoblog more options someday . . . . Bad news: um, hello, we can barely afford to operate as a state as it is. Not to mention, the number of legislative seats is fixed so if you thought your legislator's time seemed stretched a bit thin now . . . . .

I Was Rooting For San Diego

Stem cell panel picks S.F. / Tally of points after weekend site visits gives city clear edge for Friday's full-committee vote

It's not that I don't like San Francisco or Sacramento - but, well, blame my SoCal bias . . . . .

From Blogger To Blawger

I hate that there's no new content here too. And I hate that finals keeps me away from the paper.

And I miss you too.

But I'll be back soon, promise . . . .