Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thanksgiving Break

Due to Thanksgiving break, Ridiculum won't publish next week. However, new material will be available starting December 2nd. FYI, that will probably be the last update of the semester. Thanks for reading!

C'Mon Baby, We Don't Need to Use a Prophylactic Rule

Aw, c'mon babe. Don't be so stubborn. I understand what you are saying but honestly there is no need to ruin the situation with a silly prophylactic rule.

Prophylactic rules make things totally uncomfortable. By applying rigid guidelines, courts are improperly forcing a one-size-fits-all solution on problems big and small, issues with considerable breadth and girth as well as those with narrower implications. Moreover, these rules leave no room for freedom and experimentation. Instead, things get all weird and awkward and the whole process takes on a forced quality. You have to agree, baby, that aint for anyone's pleasure.

Rules overprotecting constitutional rights result in a process that is overcomplicated and drawn out. Countless additional rules burden all those involved, from the judges who have to hear more appeals to the police officers who have to spend more time following excess procedures. Prophylactic laws, therefore, unnecessarily prolong matters, wasting time and other resources by preventing a case from expeditiously reaching its climax and then resolution.

No honey, I am not saying that we shouldn't be careful. What I am trying to point out, though, is that prophylactic rules are overly protective, too often applied to situations when they clearly aren't needed. For example, the 5th Amendment's safeguard against self-incrimination is important but why should that constitutional provision be expanded to include everything from cavity searches to oral depositions. Unlike at trial, the danger of revealing damaging information in those instances is simply not likely, thus making these "safety measures" unnecessary.

Poo bear, I understand your arguments for using a prophylactic rule but the constitution already has a sufficient number of protections. We don't need judges deciding to take it upon themselves to add extra precautions just because they feel they are necessary. I am confident that current measures amply protect our rights and that an unelected judiciary shouldn't dictate otherwise. Really, baby, the constitution don't need no jimmy hat.

Instead, we should only require judges, especially those on the Supreme Court, to interpret laws that the people and their representatives have adopted. Some have argued that we need prophylactic standards because we can't rely on judges to accurately decide constitutional issues. But listen to me darlin', doing it my way is totally safe. These justices are really smart, have been on the bench forever and know the applicable law. The chance of error is quite minuscule. If you really love me, you'll trust me on this.

In fact, recent studies have shown that prophylactic rules fail to protect rights more often than people think. Sure if used "correctly" these standards are arguably effective but as we all know they are so often misapplied as to make their use pointless. Girl, you can't argue with that logic.

I know what your friends say, sugar. It's better to be safe than sorry. It's ok to sacrifice efficiency for protection's sake. But c'mon sweetie, it should now be clear that using a prophylactic rule is senseless. And besides it's my birthday. Can't you agree, at least this one time, that we don't need to use these useless prophylactic protections?

Law Student Somehow Makes Team Building Exercise Competitive

Team building exercises are intended to foster camaraderie. They are meant as tools for creating long lasting personal relationships between people who beforehand did not know each other. Through fun, engaging activities, great stories emerge, bonds are formed and organizations are enhanced.

Somehow, though, type A personality law students are taking lessons meant to emphasize teamwork and transforming them into intense competitions. This phenomenon, sources report, is quite often seen on student retreats.

"This past October our office of Student Services (OSS) sponsored an outing for student leaders of all stripes," stated Janice Mill, Dean of OSS at Columbia Law School. "The event was meant to be a pleasant way for organization presidents and others to meet each other and form relationships through cooperative games. I should have foreseen that law students, especially those that lead student groups, would act like a-holes and make the whole damn thing one big competition."

According to Mill, one of the highlighted team building activities was separating the participants into groups and having them each attempt to construct the tallest structure using pieces from a K'Nex building toy set. The exercise was meant to improve communication and instill the importance of working together to achieve a common goal. However, the law students managed to corrupt the intended purpose from the get-go.

"Right away this girl on my team announces that we cannot let the other teams build a higher tower than ours," said 2L retreater Bob Lipkind. "She then starts barking orders and telling everyone what needs to be done. I even remember at one point her yelling at another team member and saying 'with a work ethic like that no wonder you didn't make the law review.'"

Once the teams had finished their structures it was time to measure. Again, the students' competitiveness overshadowed the cooperative nature of the activity.

"Of course being law students we had to argue over various ways to figure out who won," remembered Lipkind. "After 20 minutes we finally agreed that we'd use the container the K'Nex came in and measure how many box-lengths high the tower was. But then it took another 20 minutes for the various teams to agree whether the measurements were accurate and which building was in fact the tallest. The whole thing made me want to stick one of those long, grey plastic pieces in my fucking eye."

Apparently, retreats are not the only places where law students have turned seemingly innocuous and fun activities into passionate contests where victory is the paramount concern. Law firm recruiting departments across the country have reported that countless summer associate bonding activities were corrupted due to aggressive law students.

"I remember that during our cooking event one summer kept boasting that he was going to "unquestionably out-risotto" all the other chefs and during our bowling outing there was almost a fight over whether a foot foul should be marked zero," stated Hogan and Hartson recruiting coordinator Melanie Houff. "But the worst was during a go-carting event when this one guy, before the race, kept asking how we were going to determine a winner. When I told the summer that there would be no winner he responded 'So then what's the point?'"

Renowned legal psychologist Dr. Joanna McDonald believes that such behavior, while expected, can be detrimental in the long run.

"I have conducted numerous studies and each has proven that law students are especially competitive," remarked McDonald. "Unfortunately these same reports demonstrate that the aggressive behavior, if engaged in for a prolonged period, can lead to the alienation of peers, destruction of relationships and of course inevitable depression. And trust me on this. I am pretty much better than everyone else at this type of research."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

ESPN Calls Game For Duke Only Minutes After Tip-off

Viewers watching last night’s Duke-Presbyterian game on ESPNU were shocked when the network, with only 2 minutes having elapsed in the first half, officially called the game for the home team Blue Devils.

Subsequent to the tip-off, fans were treated to a Gerald Henderson lay-up and a Kyle Singler 3-point basket, putting Duke ahead 5-0 with 18:02 still left in the first half. It was at that point that both those in the stands of Cameron Indoor Stadium and at home were told that ESPN was ready to call the contest for the Blue Devils.

“Though Presbyterian isn’t the best team in the world, I was still amazed that ESPN would call the game that early,” remarked Duke 1L and huge men’s basketball fan Travis Staydrin. “I guess they were confident that, with only 5% of the game’s results in, they could reliably predict the eventual winner.”

Fans at home watched as Mike Patrick called the play-by-play for the game's first few minutes. He then interrupted his commentary to relate that “I believe we are ready to announce a winner in the game.” ESPN’s logo flashed on the screen, followed by a team photo of the Blue Devils with the word “winner” superimposed. Coverage was sent back to the studio where analysts Jay Bilas and Bobby Knight broke down the news.

“ESPN can now say that that the Duke will win this game," remarked Bilas, a former player for coach Mike Krzyzewski's squad. "The performance of the [Presbyterian] Blue Hose so far combined with information we have from various polls clearly indicates that this contest is essentially over."

The polling referred to by the ESPN analyst included both the AP and Coach's poll that have Duke ranked 5 and 8, respectively. ESPN also conducted an entrance poll of the game's crowd which overwhelmingly said that the Blue Devils would win this contest. Moreover, a recent Reuters/NBC/Zogby survey of over 1000 likely fans concluded that 99% of men's basketball enthusiasts believed Duke would beat Presbyterian. The other 1% were angry, disillusioned Tarheel fans.

According to ESPN's Director of Statistical Analysis Norm Friedman, the network also takes into account each team's stats before calling any matchup.

"Presbyterian finished a dismal 5 and 25 last year in the Big South and starts a team mostly consisting of players 6'3" and smaller," said Friedman. "Duke, on the other hand, returns an extraordinarily talented, multifaceted team from one of the better conferences in the country. The Blue Hose have as much of a chance winning against Duke as a black -- uh, gay man, does of becoming president."

Despite ESPN's early call, the Blue Devils played on, eventually cruising to an expected, effortless win. Coach Krzyzewski emphasized that he didn't let the network's prediction affect how his team performed.

"I underscored to our guys that no matter how easy a contest may seem, we should never give up even one ounce of our intensity," stated Coach K. "Though I do admit ESPN's calling of the game did make me willing to put in our white bench players much earlier than I planned."

Presbyterian's coach, Ronny Fisher, felt that ESPN's call was premature, especially considering the network's dubious track record with regards to predictions.

"What ESPN did was not only unfair to our players - no one is going to play as hard once the game has been called - but also a sad replay of the network's embarrassing performance during that infamous 2004 Florida game," fumed Fisher. "Everyone remembers Brad Nessler calling the game for the Gators early in the second quarter but it turned out to be a nail-biter. In the end, it was actually Kentucky that won after referees, studying the replay, determined that Rajon Rondo had indeed beaten the buzzer by a mere .537 seconds. You would think that this time a reputable sports-gathering organization like ESPN would be more careful."

Economic Crisis Forces Lawyer to Buy Smaller TV

With the economic crisis in full swing and market analysts saying we are doomed for, if not already in, a recession millions of Americans have been forced to make tough choices. Young couples are putting off buying their first house, families are spending less on entertainment and many have decided that there will be no vacation this year. While most news stories discuss the impact of the current downturn on average Americans much of the coverage has failed to disclose that lawyers too are in trouble.

"I can't tell you how much it hurt when I realized I couldn't afford that 55" Sony Bravia flat screen I had my eyes on," lamented Antonio Banks, a 3rd year corporate associate at Shearman & Sterling in New York. "Normally a $7,000 television would be in my price range but I didn't want to spend that type of money considering the current economy."

In good economic times, associates like Banks can count on bonuses of at least $30,000. However, considering the current troubles of Wall Street, a primary revenue generator for top New York firms, many lawyers are being negatively affected.

"I now completely understand what the average American is going through," remarked Banks. "Unless experienced firsthand, one can't fathom the heartache of realizing that you are being forced to purchase a 47" Samsung or, god forbid, Vizio."

The 3rd year associate has admitted that his inability to afford a top of the line television has profoundly affected his life. The embarrassment associated with not being able to provide himself with a "truly fuckin' awesome plasma" has caused him to begin seeing a therapist. Banks also relates that he is no longer as confident picking up women and has days where he can barely get out from under his 2000 thread count, Egyptian cotton sheets.

"Dude, generally I am really good at getting a lady back to my place," stated Banks. "I approach her looking sharp in my $1500 charcoal Armani suit, remark that I'll take her to a fancy restaurant like Bouley or Per Se and send her a nice bouquet of roses before our date. However, ever since being unable to purchase the TV I have begun doubting whether I can afford to seduce women like that. Man, my confidence is hurting."

Recent economic news has made the situation worse. According to the latest employment report, the United States has lost 1.2 million jobs over the last year, a disproportionate number during the last three years. The unemployment rate is expected to push 7.5% and GDP is shrinking. This bad news, say observers, is causing lawyers to rethink all sorts of luxury purchases.

"I have spoken with hundreds of attorneys and the message is the same: 'we're cutting back,'" said American Lawyer reporter Vivia Chen. "One partner told me that he is rethinking purchasing a weekend home in the Hamptons and a senior associate I spoke with says he and his wife are going to cut back their safari in Africa from 14 to 10 days. I can't remember a time in my life as a reporter when things have been this bad."

Banks does admit that while the current crisis is unnerving, he is keeping his head up.

"I realize that while things are bad, markets are cyclical and eventually the economy will turn itself around, said the Shearman associate. "Plus, it's not like times are so tough that I have to move to New Jersey. That would be frightening."

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Candidates Warned That First Year of Presidency (1P) the Hardest

On the evening the new Commander-in-Chief will be chosen, colleagues, supporters, and even former presidents have warned Republican nominee John McCain and Democratic nominee Barack Obama that while the presidency as a whole is difficult, first year, also known as 1P, is by far the most arduous.

"I told Barack that if he wins, he'll need to brace himself for drastic change as a 1P," stated former President Bill Clinton. "It's one thing to excel in Congress or as a state executive but once one graduates to the presidency the game becomes exponentially harder, especially in those first 365 days."

One of the starkest transitions, say former presidential advisers and those knowledgeable about the inner-workings of the White House, is that 1st years have to get used to being judged by the American people in a way that they weren't in their former elected offices.

"The entire grading system is different when one is president," remarked Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and presidential scholar. "As a senator or governor you are only accountable to your state but as president you answer to all the American people. That's some stressful shit."

Another thing that 1Ps must become accustomed to is having every aspect of their lives examined under a microscope.

"I don't think new Commanders-in-Chief fully appreciate that starting from their first day on the job people are all up in their business," claimed Karl Rove, former Deputy Chief of Staff to President Bush. "You can't go out for a nice dinner or even get into a fight with your girl without the whole world knowing. It's like high school all over again."

More generally, say observers, those first few months are especially trying because being president is different than anything these candidates have ever experienced.

"Incoming presidents at first don't have a clue about what they're doing," remarked Dick Morris, a former adviser to Bill Clinton. "They have to learn hundreds of new names and to get used to finding their way around an unfamiliar building. It took Bill over a month just to figure out the White House has six floors and its own bowling alley."

Perhaps the most straining transition for 1Ps is that the material they are working with is qualitatively and quantitatively much more difficult.

"Oh man, the work is so much harder than it was while I was governor," said current President George Bush. "There is tons of reading, all these technical-like reports and such, and, on top of that, I am expected to remember that India and Pakistan aren't the same thing."

Though the first year is extremely taxing, new presidents can at least feel better knowing that possibly by the second and definitely by the third year things become much easier.

"By my 3P year I had being president down," remembered Clinton. "I learned how to skim briefs, use other people's outlines of key policy positions and delegate responsibility such that I barely went to meetings by the end of my first term. That freed up a lot of time for vacations and, you know, some quality time with the ladies."

Republican Candidate John McCain released a statement to the press stating that he believes his experience in Vietnam and in the U.S. Senate has prepared him for the unprecedented rigors of the presidency's first year.

Democratic nominee Barack Obama retorted: "While I applaud John's service both in the military and government he still lacks crucial experience. Unlike Senator McCain, I have endured and survived 1L year of law school. After that, nothing, not even the presidency, can faze me."

President Bush Embarrassed During Press Conference Cold Call

President Bush expected yesterday's press conference with NATO Secretary General De Hoop Scheffer to be mundane. The President was standing with the Secretary General to sign a barely touted agreement to allow Albania and Croatia to join NATO. Bush remarked that he was happy to "celebrate two young and vigorous democracies seeking to assume new responsibilities in a time of terrorism and a time of war." With the boilerplate uttered, the United States Commander-in-Chief was ready to announce the gathering finished and call it a day.

That was until Newsweek Senior White House Correspondent Richard Wolffe cold called the President.

"I was ready to go home and watch some DVRed episodes of King of the Hill when Dick all of sudden asks me a question," remarked the President. "Boy, was I totally caught off guard."

Wolffe apparently startled Bush when he asked the President to summarize the government's actions to combat the financial crisis. According to observers, the President hesitated for a few seconds, made a number of incoherent mumblings and then asked whether he could have a second to look over his notes.

The Newsweek reporter tried to help Bush along with some more pointed questions about the changes to Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's (FDIC) insurance coverage and the Federal Reserve's support for commercial paper, a tool for short-term financing.

"I saw that the President was a bit nervous so I tried to be nice at first," remarked Wolffe. "I floated some softballs but apparently President Bush didn't bring his bat."

Eventually, though, Bush gained his composure and remarked that the Federal Government has responded to the crisis in a way such that prevented the financial system's collapse while protecting tax payers and preventing the enrichment of corporate CEOs.

Wolffe responded: "Mr. President, while that may be true I am still interested to hear about the specifics actions of the FDIC and Fed."

The President proceeded to dither long enough to convince the White House correspondent to change his tack.

"Mr. President, let me ask a follow up," said Wolffe after the President tried to act like the press conference was over. "You have stated that deregulation is not the reason for the current meltdown yet at the same time have touted the Federal Government's planned creation of new, 21st century regulations as a key fix. How do you square these two seemingly incongruous statements?"

At this time Press Secretary Dana Perino noticed the President beginning to sweat and turn red from shame. After motioning to the President that she could answer the question, Bush asked, "Can I get help from my 'co-counsel' over here," making air quotes while saying the term co-counsel.

"I am sorry Mr. President but I'd like to hear the answer from you," responded Wolffe. "What is your thought on what I previously asked?"

After remaining silent for a few seconds the President finally admitted that he didn't do all the reading on the government's $700 billion bailout plan and was unprepared to answer the question.

"President Bush I am supremely disappointed in you," admonished Wolffe. "I expect you to be prepared for these press conferences. I hope the result will be different next time."

Observers verify that the Command-in-Chief's performance was quite excruciating. Doug Mills, a reporter from the New York Times, related that "he felt really bad for the President" but was shocked that Bush wasn't more prepared considering it is common knowledge that Wolffe loves to cold call.

When approached after the presser, however, the President seemed unfazed.

"Whatever, who cares if I looked like an idiot during that reporter's questioning," admitted Bush. "After all, I'm an 8th year. I don't do the reading anymore. They're lucky I even show up."