Archive by Author

Purgatorial Reprieve

2 Feb

I would be remiss to allow this blog to turn into Intern Derrick’s personal fountain of international bloviation, so I’m going to try and make a comeback.

To keep the extensive imaginary readership (plus two others) updated, I’ll give a brief update on my life happenings. I’m in my second year of law school, my fourth semester of six. Law school is very very busy. I managed to earn a spot on Law Review, which mostly means that I spend several hours a week editing poorly-written manuscripts that are submitted by lazy lawyers (really a redundant expression). Otherwise, grades are good, classes are interesting, and every day poses a new set of challenges. I’m still working in a district attorney’s office, and I love the work.  I don’t know how much I contribute to the system, but I like to think that I at least help a little when it comes to putting bad people in jail. Boring paragraph.

Unlike Derrick, I do not have any such ambitions towards being a “World Vagabond Traveler Extraordinaire.” And it’s a good thing, because while most of our readers are out in the world, being adults, making money, I am stuck here in Georgian purgatory for another 1.5 years. Not only am I given little opportunity to travel, I have negative funds with which I might do so. **Incidentally, I don’t think the term “travel” should be used when it comes to Derrick, the word “frolic” is more appropriate.** It turns out that law school is not that glorious – damn you Legally Blonde!

**I did not, and never will, watch that movie. I don’t hate you if you did, but I do question some of your life decisions.**

I have some good ideas (read: mediocre ideas) for blog entries that I’ve been thinking of over the past few months. Hopefully I can get back into posting here.

As a closing note, it looks like Intern Derrick has redesigned the site. I don’t think it is a mistake that pink is the featured color.

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They’re Magically Delicious

9 Jul

Before you read this post you should head over to the brilliant, talented, and woolly blog miscellaneous sheepery. There you should read this post about the new regulations on advertising in children’s food. Expectedly, it is awesome and correct.

Having read it, I just wanted to add a point to everything that sheep already said. It is my experience and belief that, in general, government regulation is bad. Usually, when the government gets involved they turn their good intentions towards societal change into a counterproductive problem. I think this is a perfect example of that (and if any of our staff economists can show that this thinking is flawed, please show me that I’m wrong).

The government’s goal here: reduce childhood obesity by preventing food manufacturers from advertising to children when their food is unhealthy. Nobody doubts or disagrees that this is a worthy goal, and within the scope of government power (i.e. keeping its citizens healthy). And most people would look at the regulation and think that it is sensible and reasonable.

But simple consideration might prove otherwise. We will take sheepy’s simple example and expand it a little. In her example Lucky Charms was an unhealthy children’s cereal, and Corn Flakes was a healthy children’s cereal. The advertisement restrictions allow Corn Flakes to advertise to children, and prohibit Lucky Charms from advertising to children.

When you tell Lucky Charms that they cannot advertise to children, what happens to their advertising costs? Necessarily, they are fewer, and they don’t have to spend the money that they would have spent towards advertising to children. This lowers the fixed costs associated with manufacturing their product, and as a result, they can sell Lucky Charms for less than they did before the regulation.

When you tell Corn Flakes that they can advertise to children, but have to stay within the confines of the nutritional requirements laid out by the law, what do they do? They have to hire a consultant or firm or specialist or manager to make sure that the nutritional requirements are met. Sometimes they have to modify their packaging. Sometimes they have to modify their product to meet the requirements if they are close. All of these things result in a higher fixed cost for the Corn Flakes product. Higher cost equals higher prices.

If the price of Corn Flakes goes up and the price of Lucky Charms goes down, as they inevitably will do as a result of the new regulations, what do you think will happen to parents who are buying cereal for their kids? More parents will be buying Lucky Charms, because the marginal price is now lower, especially in this kind of economy. The kids aren’t going to care that the leprechaun isn’t on TV anymore, so long as they get to eat marshmallows for breakfast. The kids are happy, the parents are happy, and everybody is more obese as a result.

I think this is a perfect example of why government regulation oftentimes has unintended effects. The capitalist system is so dependent on freedom of choice. This kind of regulation is intrusive on that choice (by design), and the system isn’t designed to deal with that kind of intrusion. As a result, you get an awkward and misdirected result. The only way to make such an intrusive regulation effective is to change the system entirely, and nobody wants that.

In other words, the commercials with the leprechaun are pretty accurate (even though they probably won’t air anymore), because kids and parents will always be after his lucky charms, no matter what the government does to try and stop them.

Thanks for the cool post sheep, and sorry for hijacking, but I just couldn’t resist. People, put this blog in your rss reader: miscellaneous sheepery. Do it.

Instant Replay in Baseball

3 Jun

Warning: this is a post about baseball. People who don’t like sports should stop reading. Derrick and other derrick-types should uninstall their browser, run a virus scan, and restart their computers. Safety first.

Some of you may or may not know that I am a baseball guy. When I stopped playing ball in college, there was a chasm in my life left unfilled where baseball once was. My recourse was to fill it with a stronger dedication to my MLB fandom, fantasy baseball, and lastly, umpiring little league baseball.

Many of you (I hope) will be familiar with the incident that happened last night in Detroit. The link is here, hopefully it will continue to work. You absolutely must watch it if you have not yet watched it. http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=8629733

Ironically, last night when it happened, I was actually out on the little league field umpiring a game.

This morning, I have heard all kinds of protestations and general inflamation about the whole event. People seem to think that instant replay should be brought into baseball to remedy situations and calls like this. I completely disagree.

This is a relatively unpopular position, since instant replay has been “successfully” integrated into football, and many people believe that it has a place in baseball. It is not a weak position, and there is a strong argument for it, since, like football, baseball is oftentimes a game of inches. However, as valid as that opinion might be, it is a wrong opinion. I will use more commas, to show you why.

I was watching some reaction to the fiasco last night on baseball tonight, and I happened to hear a text that was sent by Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay to one of the commentators. That text struck me a funny way. While I can’t find the exact text of the text, it said something to the effect of “My heart goes out to both Armando Galarraga and Jim Joyce. Galarraga pitched a beautiful game and Joyce is one of the most professional and well-liked umpires in baseball. It is a shame that the game had to end this way.” Then he said something that really resonated with me: “This is the kind of thing that makes baseball so great”.

And it is a counterintuitive thought, that such a horrible experience could make for a sport which is so great. But I fully agree with Halladay. The pundits this morning were clamoring for instant replay because that is what is needed to “get the call right”. These are the same pundits who have never played baseball for a day in their life. Anybody who knows and loves baseball will agree that baseball isn’t always about getting the call right.

To me, what makes baseball so great is that it is a human game. That sounds absurd, I know, but I believe it. In baseball, if you fail 2/3 of the time, you are a great player. In baseball there are two outcomes for any one play: ball/strike, safe/out. No matter what, one player loses. And that is part of the human experience, dealing with failure. After losing in the third round of the state playoffs, when I was a sophomore in high school, I remember one of the coaches saying this exact thing. He said that life is a lot like baseball, though you don’t always know it. Most of the time you will fail. The best baseball players, and the best humans learn how to cope with that failure and use it to turn them into better people.

All this is to say that, like the players, umpires are human. They are usually perfect, and they rarely miss calls because they are good at what they do. They are still human. And that is a human element which is part of the game. Jim Joyce missed a call that he will always remember. Most of us will forget about it tomorrow, but Joyce will always look back and regret that mistake. To me, that is not sad but beautiful. It is part of baseball. It is part of the game.

Those internets are dangerous

10 May

Well, that was a ton of fun, let me tell you.

I’m back for the time being and enjoying a little 1 week spurt of vacation before I start my summer work. This summer I will be working in a district attorney’s office as a summer clerk. It should be a lot of fun, and hopefully you guys will be able to hear about some of the more interesting work I’m doing.

Unfortunately, I realized a month or so ago that the internet was a dangerous place. I even thought about shutting down tCP, for the safety of the authors’ imagined future careers as professional awesome-types. But joe, what’s so dangerous about it?

Recently my esteemed university has come under attack by internet bloggers and lawyer-metacritics alike, essentially dragging it though the mud through popular law blog sites such as above the law and others.

Aside: since I said law blog I am obligated to post the following video of which many of our site’s readers will appreciate. If you are a reader of the site and do not appreciate it, stop reading this site. It is not for you.

Back to the point. Well, my point anyway; a point which many of you already know. It bears repeating. Facebook is dangerous. The internet is dangerous. Blogs are dangerous. Especially when it comes to schools and institutions, where reputation is everything. As you may have read though the above link, one the professors at our school decided to respond to a comment made by one of the 3L students about the recent US News and World Report ranking of law schools. This professor sought to defend the school’s actions over the past few years, despite the drop in Mercer’s rank out of the top tier of law schools. This spawned a flurry of activity and pushback which resulted in national blogal coverage, and further resulted in the defaming of my school.

Some things I want to say:

First, the US News and World Report is overwhelmingly recognized as the worst possible proxy of law school effectiveness or educational standards. A large percentage of the rankings are based on mailers that are sent out to judges and lawyers in the community, which in turn rank the schools on their reputation. And how do the judges/lawyers figure out what kind of reputation Campbell law or Charleston law or Appalachian law or Mercer law have? They look at the US News and World Report. It is purely self-perpetuating. Most judges and lawyers do not pay much attention to law school, outside of the top 50 schools, because frankly, it doesn’t really matter. Law schools do a prerequisite job. Everything else falls on the particular student.

Yet, every stupid kid who even considers applying to law school turns to these mostly arbitrary/political/bureaucratic rankings to decide where to go. I’m not saying that these rankings are useless, I’m just saying that people should understand that they have very little meaning or merit, and that it is insane to use them as the sole criteria for choosing a school to attend.

On to my second point. Facebook. It is evil. The reality of Facebook, seen more and more every day, is that it is a very dangerous place. This danger derives from the disconnect people feel when they open up their web browser. For whatever reason, people do not experience normal inhibitions when on Facebook. They speak their mind, they say inconsiderate/rude things, and they feel free to attribute themselves to saying those things. It is a rare and odd phenomenon which flows from a misunderstanding of Facebook as a casual atmosphere.

It used to be that Facebook was a relaxed, casual atmosphere where people could go and meet other people. You could also see pictures of friends and keep up with old acquaintances. But it is not that anymore. Facebook is no longer a casual, private place, and this sense of informality is clearly misplaced. The whole debacle here illustrates that reality perfectly.

This leads me to my point. While the inconsiderate comments of the student were certainly unnecessary, rude, inconsiderate, damaging, and misconceived, it is important to consider the role of the professor in this event. I have the utmost respect and affection for that professor; I had the fortune of having him in my first year and many agree that he is one of the best and most interested/interesting professors around. Unfortunately, he chose the wrong forum for the conversation. He should have realized that he was acting in an official capacity as a school representative when on Facebook, not as a casual observer of the fallacies in the status of a Facebook “friend”. He stepped into the dangerous domain of Facebook, a place where rational arguments come second to the reign of public opinion. And in the Facebook world, ad hominem attack is a powerful tool which is not off limits.

So what does that mean for me, intern derrick, and tCP?

It means we have to be more careful in this dangerous world we call the internet. Try not to slur people. Try to only make fun of ourselves. Try to limit the personal references and make sure that if an employer were to read this, that we would not get fired or unconsidered for a job.

Unconsidered is a word. You know how I know? Because spell check didn’t pick it up. If that doesn’t keep me from getting a job, I don’t know what will.

So remember, blogs and networking sites are dangerous places. Except for this one. This one is awesome.

Spam Email

27 Apr

This morning, I received the following email. It is word-for-word and reproduced in its entirety.

How are you?
Tell you a good news, my friend found a good site, they are mainly electronic products, low prices, you may need. Such cameras, mobile phones, PS3 game consoles, LCD
TVs, notebook computers, iPhone, motorcycle car is the most popular thing, their project is entirely consistent with the original quality, but if you want to
To this end, the wholesale busines, please do not hesitate to contact them.
Their website: bjhei.com

Online Customer Service Hours: 20:00 – 6:00, 7 days a week, Beijing, China (District: Monday 8 hours)

I hope you will enjoy more preferential

Please forgive my e-mail,

very sorry.

In other news, 1st exam is today. Constitutional Law. Get some.

I’ll post when I’m allowed to see the light of day again. That is all.

Obligatory Post Poorly Justifying Pre-Exam Avoidance of Blogal Duties

9 Apr

It is exam season here in law school. That means that it is unlikely you will hear from me before May 7. I’ll leave Intern Derrick to make his own excuse for blog abandonment.

Yes, exams take priority to recreational blogging. To our readers though, I just want you to remember, I will always love you:

Notice the caption at the very beginning and end, where they cite Dolly Parton as the artist. Classic.

New Pomplamoose Cover

1 Mar

For your auditory consumption: