Friday, June 30, 2006

Clerks II????

I'm not sure how this slipped under my radar, but Kevin Smith has made a sequel to Clerks. It even got a standing ovation at Cannes (pronounced "kanz"). Here's the
NY Times review. I was pleased to discover that I am a "Smith cultist" because I enjoyed "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back." In all honesty, I really enjoyed Clerks when I saw the first few times. But I saw it too many times. It grew old. But now there's a new Clerks movie. Yeah!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Bored, bored, bored

So I get home from work at about 5 and I go to bed at about 10 so that I can get up around 7:30 to catch a rerun of the Colbert Report. I've got no problem with the schedule. I enjoy work more than I thought I would and I actually get to do a decent variety of stuff. And there's lots of phone calls from clients, which I really enjoy. But when I get home at 5, there's nothing to do. There are actually plenty of things I can do, just ask Nell (dishes, tidy up, rub my back, read Harry Potter, etc.). There are even things I can do that I enjoy, I'm just not in the mood to do.

On previous occasions I have referred to this as ennui. And it's back. I desperately want to do something, but there's just nothing to do. Fortunately last night I was rescued by a pleasant evening with friends, and tonight (for an hour anyway) by some emergency babysitting (although the baby was nowhere to be seen).

So I've been reading law review articles on everything from consumption tax to section 132 fringe benefits. I've drawn a picture, knitted a small square, and picked my toenails thoroughly. I've played some guitar, some mandolin, and picked the lint out of my bellybutton. Speaking of bellybutton lint, I accumulate a lot. I guess the size of one's bellybutton is determined by the cutting of the umbilical cord or some such thing, but regardless, my bellybutton is quite deep and prone to collecting lint. One time, I pulled out a clump of lint, and this is no joke, the size, weight, and density of a buffalo nickel. It was totally awesome. Also, it was grey-blue.

But I digress. And that reminds me of something. When I was a senior in high school, I had a brief run as an opinion columnist for the school paper. I wrote four columns, and each one was a random digression worth considerably less than the paper on which it was printed. One column was about driving etiquette, and even Andy Rooney would be embarassed to spew the kind of crap on spewed that issue. Another was an incoherent and misdirected attack on aliens and manufacturers of cotton socks. It also involved some discussion of tin foil vs. aluminum foil that didn't bear much connection to the rest of the article.

My pride and joy of my short tenure on the newspaper was my column about the fungus that was growing on my left shoulder. I knew it was a fungus (as opposed to a rash) because of the scalloped edges. It is worth pointing out that this particular column featured the first ever and last ever inter-column poem. Per my request, the poem was put in italics. It even featured a plug for Lotrimin and a prescient warning about the dangers of global warming. I'll see if I can dig up a copy of the column, cause it was awesome.

Anyway, I've been a little bored lately. I just thought you would all want to know.

Funny (if you're familiar with subchapter K) but true

Here's a clever summary of Treas. Reg 1.704-1(b) regs regarding the test for substantial economic effect:

"Any division of tax benefits and burdens, even one that is motivated by and in fact results in tax avoidance is permissible so long as the improper tax avoidance intent is undetectable to a nearly blind and deaf observer."


Monday, June 26, 2006

Story for the day

I've been kicked out of bowling alleys before. Two of them in fact. Neither time was it my fault, though. But the groups I was with got a little rambunctious. Well, now I can say I've been kicked out of two bowling alleys and a courtroom. I also think that this was not my fault. But it wasn't my attorney's fault either, really.

So we were sitting at one of the counsel tables in the courtroom, the attorney I work for and I. The clerk come to our table with nine of my attorney's court files and tells her they are ready to be set. So far so good. My attorney checks here schedule and sets the nine cases for a morning session in a couple of months. These are default, non-contested divorces, they take maybe five minutes a piece of the court's time. The clerk sees that my attorney has set all nine for one morning and informs her that my attorney is not allowed to set more than four cases per session. My attorney say, "OK. That's fine. But the judge lets me do this sometimes because the cases are really quick. Can I ask the judge if it's ok?" The clerk mutters something and walks off. So my attorney writes a note on a post-it and sticks it to the scheduling page asking the judge to call her if there is a problem with setting the cases thus.

A few minutes later, the clerk comes out in a huff and begins berating my attorney for putting a post-it note in the scheduling book, saying that my attorney should not be going over the clerk's head. My attorney says, "OK, well I'll just talk to the judge when she gets back then." My attorney looks at me and rolls her eyes a little, and being the sycophant that I am, I return the gesture.

At this point the clerk starts yelling at me and my attorney, suggesting that my attorney is setting a bad example for me. My attorney then goes back to the other clerk's office (there are two clerks assigned to this particular division) to make some copies. The clerk follows my attorney all the way back berating her the whole while. My attorney comes back out, having finished her copying and also having told the clerk that my attorney wouldn't have to set the cases for hearings if the clerk would do her job. My attorney sits back down at the counsel table with the clerk standing right up next to her. My attorney looks at the clerk and says, "I need to talk to my intern." The clerk says, "You can't do that in hear." So we got up and left.

A few things are worth noting. First, the judge for whom the judge worked was out of town so the was a retired judge presiding. (Hell of a nice guy, as a side note) But the judge was back in chambers and so wasn't privy to these going-ons. Secondly, there were a handful of litigants waiting in the pews of the courtroom who were snickering at the clerk's behavior, perhaps egging her on. Thirdly, in a discussion with some other attorneys after this incident, a couple of them had had run-ins with this clerk in which she said they were being disrespectful and chewed them out. Also, I have spent a fair amount of time in courtrooms this summer and last summer, and I'm always very quiet and respectful. This is the first occasion I've been anything but a total credit to both the organization I was working for and my law school. On this occasion, though, I rolled my eyes, and I shouldn't have. That was my mistake.

So that's how my day started. The afternoon court appearances (in a different circuit, miles from the crazy clerk) were without incident, like every court appearance before this morning.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Don't go to law school

So says the Wall Street Journal. My advice is the opposite. Law school is fun, for the most part. There are certainly some aspects that are not very appealing, but on the whole, it's pretty great.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Who I'm gay for

The title was Nell's idea, I swear. But look me in the eye and tell me you'd turn down:

1. George Clooney
2. Nick Lachey
3. Brad Pitt

Honestly, you're only lying to yourself.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Colbert hits it out of the park

I was waiting to post about this until the video was available online, and now it is. Click here and then look for the clip entitled "Marrying Snakes." Then get ready for the awesomest, most fact-filled, most disturbing Colbert Report clip ever. It is sooooo awesome!!!!!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Musings on the source of the previous post

So I guess now I'm posting something and then thinking about it some and then posting some more. So the reason I posted about Regis and Hasselhoff is that Nell and I were watching this show on NBC called "America Has Talent." (I think that's the title, but the "Has" might be wrong. It's definitely America _______ Talent)

It's basically American Idol but the contestants do all sorts of random crap. And you know what it reminds me of? Law school grading. The judges--Hasselhoff, Brandy, and some british guy--decide whether the contestants--jugglers, singers, balloon artists, etc.--will survive to the second round. Their decision-making process seems to be entirely random with absolutely no reference to the actual substance of the acts. Why they voted to advance the 60-year-old stripper and not the balloon guy I will never understand.

Which brings us to law school grading. I worked my ass off this semester. I studied more than 12 hours a day for weeks to prepare. I felt equally prepared for all my exams with the exception of my last exam, the subject matter of which was infinitely more difficult than the other classes and which I only had two days to devote to studying the material exclusively prior to the exam. My highest grade? The last exam of course. My lowest? The second. I'm not complaining of the overall result. I did fine and we're all going to die in fifty to sixty years anyway. But I just don't understand the difference in grades. If I had to guess going in, I would speculate that my grades would deviate by five points or less. I would be wrong.

The world is a crazy place full of crazy unpredictable people. I love Sleater-Kinney but I hate Bikini Kill. Hasselhoff hates juggling but loves rapping grannies. Crazy goddamned world.

Two great guys

I don't think I could put together a top ten list of my favorite entertainers. My taste varies widely and unpredictably. But two of my favorite people are Regis Philbin and David Hasselhoff. It's not that I've liked anything that they've been in all that much, but when they're on TV as themselves, I find them very likable. Great guys to hang out with, I would imagine.

On the topic of the previous post

Here's a quote from the article linked to on a point discussed in the comments:

"Belief that beneficence and charity can be a substitute for the revenues raised under a just tax structure assumes human beings have the spiritual capability to overcome the sin of greed by the strength of their voluntary efforts. This assumption cannot be theologically defended because it denies the sin of greed as being part of humanity's fallen condition and our absolute dependence on God to help us fight greed as well as all other human tendencies to sin."

I'm so conflicted, because I don't believe in God or the truth of the Bible, but I want to support the author's position because I agree with the end result: an accretion model of progressive income taxation. On the other hand, I frequently (and others as well) adopt the vernacular of my opponent in order to take the argument into his playing field and beat them there (to date, I have beaten no one and suffered numerous losses, but I still hold to the strategy). Anyway.

Using their faith against them

I'm not a Christian and I don't think tax policy should be influenced in any way by the Bible or other faith-based morality. But it is a fact that most people don't agree with me and that not a single person in the executive or legislative branches of the federal government agrees with me. So when a tax scholar points out that the President's tax policy doesn't live up to his own Judeo-Christian standards, I enjoy it. Here's a link to the abstract.

This, by the way, is my favorite quote:

"Using a wealth of sources, I then establish that the moral values driving the Bush Administration's tax policy decisions reflect objectivist ethics, a form of atheism that exalts individual property rights over all other moral considerations."

So maybe I am being represented in Washington...

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Botanical Pictures

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Is this antisemitic?

Walking on the loop tonight there were some people distributing leaflets and they were wearing T-shirts. On these T-shirts was printed a star of david. Inside the star was written "Jesus Loves You." Now to me, this seems insulting to Jews, taking one of their symbols and juxtaposing it with a christian message. It seemed a little antisemitic to me. Am I right?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

some memories

Sometimes the mood strikes, and I'm reminded of things I haven't thought of in a while. It's usually pleasant, like tonight. But it couldn't possibly be interesting to anyone but me. But I'm the one who set up this blog, so I'm going to talk about it. If you're not fond of my rambling posts, be warned! This may ramble.

I laid down in bed tonight and put on my headphones. I hit play on my MP3 player randomly; it started from the beginning. A band called "Against Me!" When I was in college, I went to see Against Me! at the Fox Theater in Boulder with one of my best friends of all time, Greg. He was a huge fan and had burnt me a CD, which I had only listened to a couple of times. It turned out to be one of the best shows I've ever been to. I owe Greg for that.

It was at that concert that Greg and I were introduced to a band called "Rise Against." Fantastic band. We were both blown away. And the thing was that Against Me! put on such an awesome goddamned set that I was sure no band on Earth could out do it. I mean, the drummer is out of this world. Like Janet in S-K, but with more raw energy and less control. It's like a dam broke, and everything behind it burst out, drenching the crowd. Awesome, breath-taking. I'm laying in bed four years later and I still vividly remember that bearded Jesus-on-drums coming out from behind the set on "We Laugh at Danger (and break all the rules)", hitting his drum sticks together, the crowd singing along, yelling along. There's no hope for us. We may as well lay down and die. We're taking everyone else with us.... It was something else. It was beautiful.

The first band I ever saw live was "Jimmy's Chicken Shack." They played a free concert at CU to an audience of 40 or 50. It was amazing. The energy they had blew me away. They set the bar for me for what live music should be. I've seen a dozen shows since, and I compare all of them to that free show in the Glen Miller Ball Room at the UMC.

A month later, I saw Bob Dylan at the Coors Event Center, also on the CU campus. I was a little wary, despite the fact that I loved Dylan more than anything, because I had heard his live album with The Band, "After the Flood" and Dylan was off key for the whole show. Terrible. But that night, Dylan nailed everything. He woud switch from electric to acoustic, and when he switched to acoustic, the whole band would switch. The bassist had to put down his Fender P-Bass and pick up a double-bass, poor bastard. Great show, but the venue was so large that I felt fairly removed.

I went to a few concerts over the next couple years, including a very good show by Five For Fighting with another great friend, D-Frow. Great guy. Very good show. Actually, Frow's brother came to that show too. Five For Fighting really demonstrates the passion a good musician can coax from a piano. Energy, passion. That, by the way, was also at the Fox in Boulder.

I've seen Michelle Branch at the Fox also, and it was a decent show. Sufjan Stevens at Mississippi Nights in St. Louis was a good show. Good company. I went with my mentor, Jimbo. Good guy. Smart as shit.

Also at Mississippi Nights, Sleater-Kinney. Great F--king show. I can't sa anything else about that.

I haven't been to a show since S-K last year. Too expensive, too smoky. But shit. I love live music. When it hits something in you. I remember sitting on the outskirts of the Fox Theater, wanting to wedge my way to the pit, listening to Against Me!, words can't really describe it, or maybe just I can't describe it. It's like seeing something colorful, pretty, strong, urgent, unapologetic, apologetic, sad, hopeful.

Anyway, I owe Greg, and I owe D-Frow. Two great goddamn guys.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Simply Delightful

Hello all! I have made a wonderful discovery that I feel should be shared. I noticed today at work that my google settings had somehow switched to French. Since, of coarse, I don't speak that wacky language I went to the préférences option to change the language back. While looking for 'English' (which I belatedly realized in French is Anglais) I discovered that there is an option for Elmer Fudd. If you choose Mr. Fudd as your language you are in for a lovely surprise that will undoubtedly make you giggle. Everything on the google page is written with the Elmer Fudd accent. It is delightful. It is my belief that the person who invented this quirky option is nothing short of a genius, and a person after my own heart to boot. Bravo Ewmew Fudd inventor... bravo.

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Ambrose Bierce of Tax Lexicography

If you like Ambrose Bierce and Tax, then check this out. It's the "Devil's Dictionary of Taxation." Very awesome. I will post some of my favorites as I read.