Begging The Question

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Friday Spies©
1. What's your favorite season?

My first instinct was to say winter, because I like cold weather and snow. But I think I'm going to go with fall, because it can still be cool, but comfortable, and it has that nice overlap of college football and college basketball at the same time.

2. Do you have a green thumb?

Not really. I have a nice plant (a Norfolk Island Pine), but I think I'm killing it. It's barely hanging on. This is the first time I've really tried to maintain a plant, so I'm going to say the jury is still out on my thumb's green-ness.

3. What is your favorite sport to watch? What is your favorite sport to play? Do you have a sports hero?

I really don't think I can decide between college football and college basketball here. If I have to have a tiebreaker, I guess I am probably more likely to watch a college football game between two teams I don't really care about: I watch a lot of "mid-major" football, but not so much mid-major basketball. In person, I think I prefer college football, if only because non-Duke college basketball games just can't match up to my Cameron Crazy days, but just about any college football game is better than any I saw at Duke. I also like watching baseball in person, but not so much on tv. For participating, I was never into organized sports very much, aside from a couple of years of little league baseball and basketball. But I enjoy pickup games sometimes, or tossing a football around, and I played some intramural softball in college and law school. I think my sports hero would have to be my Dad, who some have called (no fooling) "the greatest to ever lace them up" for his college's football team. He was an All-American at the Division-III level, a four-year starter and letterman in football and baseball (and his fraternity's intramural basketball team could beat the varsity team), and a member of the school's Hall of Fame. He was a pretty successful high school football and baseball coach for fifteen years. But aside from his playing and coachng abilities, I would call him my sports hero for teaching me about sports and being a good example of the values that sportsmanship can instill. So he is a lot of fun to watch sports with. And he never pressured me to play but supported me when I did. What more can you ask for in a hero?

4. Which would you rather be: Mayor, Governor, Senator, or President?

I think being married to the President would be a pretty cool gig, but not if it meant being with Hillary. Similarly, being a Senator would give me a fair amount of notoriety, plenty of perks, but not as much pressure as being the executive. And I can do some back-room wheeling and dealing.

5. What are ten must-own items for single men and single women?

Who came up with this question? What a monstrosity! Anyway, even though I'm the last person who ought to be giving this kind of advice, here goes nothing. I would like to think I could do better with a lot of time, but these come quickest to mind.

Men: (1) A clean car interior (cf. discarded fast-food wrappers she has to kick out of the way when you give her a ride), (2) organized closets (cf. all your stuff shoved in them), (3) sturdy furniture (decent coffee table, end tables, kitchen table, nightstand, cf. plywood resting on cinderblocks), (4) at least one nice piece of art in a frame (cf. John Belushi "College" poster duct-taped to the wall), (5) a living plant (might I suggest a Norfolk Island Pine?), (6) a pair of shoes you can wear anywhere (in case plans change on you), (7) something in the fridge besides Guinness and hot dogs, (8) a decent camera (cf. dashing to the Wal-Marts for a Fuji one-time use deal), (9) an ear-and-nose hair trimmer, (10) a movie for any mood (cf. no dvd's besides "Office Space," "The Matrix," and "Chunky Asses" -- does anybody get that reference?).

Women: (1) Milbarge's phone number (available upon request) (2) a pair of shoes you can wear anywhere (and that means you can walk in them without getting blisters) (3) something in the fridge besides diet cola and salad (4) a basic set of tools (I have to agree with everyone who has already said this) (5) relatedly, ability to change a flat tire (6) something that makes you smell good up close, but isn't overpowering (7) smooth legs (cf. saying "It's winter, so I'm only shaving once a week") (8) a little empathy for your straight male friend who is in love with you yet has to listen to all your whining about guys, and who has to hear how great other guys are (see, e.g., "Maureen" by Fountains of Wayne) (9) and I'll agree with everyone else who suggested a vibrator (but PG suggested that a vibrator may be overrated as a specific device, so I list it more as shorthand for the concept of knowing your body and what gives you pleasure) (10) a trash can for sweat pants.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Friday Spies ©: In Lieu of Actual Content Edition
In case you're wondering, yes, we do consider it our fate to wander the Earth like Caine from "Kung Fu," doling out insipid questions so we'll have something to blog about. This week's wisdom, channelled via meditation from Master Po:

1. What's your favorite season?

Late spring to early summer. Sundresses.

2. Do you have a green thumb?

Yeah, I can grow things if need be. Lots of farmers in the family tree so maybe it's in the genes.

3. What is your favorite sport to watch? What is your favorite sport to play? Do you have a sports hero?

My favorite sport to watch? Hmm. That's a toss-up between college football and women's soccer. My favorite sport to play is either softball - for which I have a gift - or football. Depends on my mood and the time of year.

4. Which would you rather be: Mayor, Governor, Senator, or President?

Mayor. I want to be a big fish in a little pond.

5. What are ten must-own items for single men and single women?

For the men-folk:

1. A classically-tailored grey suit.
2. A navy blazer.
3. A go-to cocktail.
4. A book of poetry. It does not have to be love poems, but a collection of poetry that you like, that you have picked out, and that isn't something you ordered from the back pages of Penthouse.
5. A 10-inch saute pan.
6. An outdoor grill.
7. A separate soap for your face from the soap you scrub your body with.
8. A sense of honor. A reputation as someone whose handshake means something and whose word is his bond.
9. A piece of art that you've chosen and which holds some kind of meaning for you.
10. A self-deprecating sense of humor. You need at least one good story about yourself in which you come off badly and which is guaranteed to make social guests laugh.
BONUS: A full-length mirror.

For the ladies:

1. A lipstick that works with your natural coloring.
2. A slinky black dress that makes you feel beautiful.
3. Boy shorts.
4. A living potted plant (or a fish) as proof that you can keep something alive.
5. A 10-inch saute pan.
6. A go-to dinner recipe and the ability to prepare the dishes.
7. A basic tool kit (knowing how to use the tools is optional but very hot).
8. A baseball bat under your bed.
9. A mix tape or mix CD that you put together.
10. A bullshit detector, i.e., a girlfriend who is close enough to you to tell you that "He's just not that into you, honey."
BONUS: An outdoor grill.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Getting Lucky in Kentucky
Here's a weird story from the Bluegrass State. A radio station told listeners that a certain caller would win "a hundred grand." A patient woman listened for two hours for the signal to call in, and then got lucky when she happened to be the designated winning caller. She sent her kids to bed that night with dreams of a new minivan, and a house with a yard, for the family. When she goes to the radio station the next day to pick up her check, she is instead handed a "100 Grand" candy bar. Naturally, she is upset. The station offers her $5,000 (and, presumably, the candy bar), but she wants the whole hundred G's. Naturally, litigation is on the horizon.

This reminded me of the case from a few years ago where a waitress entered and won a contest run by her restaurant, thinking she was going to win a new Toyota car. At the ceremony, she was instead presented with a "toy Yoda," a doll from the Star Wars movies. The restaurant said it was an April Fool's joke. Litigation commenced. The parties settled out of court, but part of the settlement was that the waitress would get a new car (and I suppose she got to keep the Yoda doll, too).

So the Yoda precedent is on the plaintiff's side. (Has that sentence ever been typed before?) Of course, it will be more persuasive in the court of public opinion than in the court of law, given that it was merely a private settlement. But I was curious whether she could state a cause of action under these circumstances. My tentative guess, based on about fifteen wasted minutes of researching, is maybe. It will depend to some degree on the actual wording of the radio station's promotion, and whether it referenced the contest rules, which were probably available on the station's web site or at the studio. Still, she might be able to state a claim for breach of oral contract. She might also have a decent tort claim for fraudulent misrepresentation. See United Parcel Serv. Co. v. Rickert, 996 S.W.2d 464 (Ky. 1999).

This would make a good bar exam question, so I'll pretend I know the answer but want to leave it to the bar-takers to grapple with. I think the detrimental reliance element of the fraud claim will be tricky, since it doesn't appear that the radio station listener did anything more than drive to the station. It's not as if she quit her job. (The plaintiff in the UPS case didn't pursue other work based on the company's promise of a promotion.) But maybe that's enough. One thing to remember on the bar exam is to make clear which claims sound in contract and which sound in tort, and to keep the remedies straight. Speaking of remedies, I wonder if she will try to claim damages greater than $100,000 based on pain and suffering (or bring an emotional distress claim) -- based on, for example, having to explain to her kids why they weren't getting a new house. After all, she didn't have to face a public ridiculing like the Yoda waitress. Oh, and on the bar exam, even when it doesn't apply, you can get a point by noting that the Statute of Frauds doesn't apply here!

Anyway, I don't want to invest the time necessary to make a real guess on the viability of her claims; I just thought it was an interesting story. I would enjoy hearing your responses -- either from a legal perspective or a "court of public opinion" perspective, but I would be a 100 Grand candy bar that this suit settles out of court, too.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Dream a Little Meme of Me
Sherry tagged me with the latest music meme, so I present the questions and answers below.

1. What is the total volume of music you own?

I'm still trying to figure out how to convert compact discs, cassette tapes, and digital files to a single unit of volume. I think I have about 150 cd's, about a dozen tapes I still listen to (including one in heavy rotation), and somewhere in the neighborhood of 350 songs on my computer. I would have a lot more on the computer if it weren't so persnickety with me.

2. What's the last CD you bought?

I had to think about this one, because it's been a while. Considering I've only bought about 150 cd's ever, I wasn't exactly snatching them off the shelves even before the digital music boom. I think last summer I bought "Time (The Revelator)" by Gillian Welch, "O.C.M.S." by Old Crow Medicine Show, the Grateful Dead's "Europe '72" and "The Closing of the Winterland," and "To the 5 Boroughs" by the Beastie Boys, all around the same time.

3. What song is playing right now?

Right now I'm playing "The Best of Randy Newman," and my favorites on there are "Rednecks" and "Mama Told Me Not to Come.

4. What 5 songs do I listen to a lot?

This is really impossible to answer absent extended study and research, so I'm just going to name my favorite songs on the albums I think I play the most. From "Dial-a-Song" disc one by They Might be Giants, I like almost all of them but I have to go with "Ana Ng...but ask me again tomorrow and I'll tell you something different. From Weezer's Blue Album, I guess I'll say "My Name is Jonas." From Warren Zevon's Greatest Hits, I can't decide between "Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me" or "Excitable Boy." From "O.C.M.S.," "Wagon Wheel." And I'll finish up with "Playing in the Band" because it's my favorite Dead song (although I like most of Bobby's songs) and it's on most of my favorite Dead albums.

5. What 5 people will I pose these questions to?

Okay, this is the toughest part. I have to choose people who won't get mad at me for tagging them (Fitz forbade me from passing it to him), but I also need to tag anyone who would get bitter and jealous and resentful if they don't get the nod. So without revealing which category I think they're in (happy to get it versus unhappy to not get it), I'll tag E. McPan, Energy Spatula, THL, Blondie, and LuLu. No takebacks, no erasies, no whatever. (And please know I was just kidding about suggesting any of you might be bitter or jealous or resentful. That's just me, projecting.)

Fitz-Hume 411: Turkey Tequila Edition
What I'm doing at work: Nothing. I'm going on two weeks worth of nothing, and I like it.

What I'm doing away from work: Not working. I took the dog hiking on Sunday. We did about 4 miles of trails around Spooner Lake. Dash was so tired by the end that I had to pick him up to put him in the Jeep (click here and here for photos from my hike). Grilled a pair of turkey tenderloins on Sunday, too. I marinated them overnight in tequila, lime juice, garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, and cumin. I grilled the turkey over mesquite charcoal and served it with a delicious mango salsa and plenty of Herradura Reposado. Delish.

Oh, and I'm going to a new dentist today. Anyone want to lay odds on whether he'll find a cavity? I've never once had a cavity so I'm betting the trend will continue.

What I'm reading: Not much. I picked up a copy of Men's Health a couple of days ago and if the "Sex Tips for a Sizzling Hot Summer" are instructive to any guy who is older than 13, then it's no wonder women hold us in such low esteem. Heaven help us if any man (and I assume the article is directed toward men, seeing as how it is in Men's Health) first learns from a magazine article that pleasuring a woman is about listening to her body and responding to her needs.

What I'm watching: Entourage and Blow Out (which I referred to as Blown Away - ONCE - and for which I have since been subjected to repeated and completely unnecessary mocking). Blow Out is terrible, but it's like a car accident. I want to look away, yet I cannot.

What I'm listening to: I'm listening to Coldplay's albums. I'm trying to understand the attraction, but I just don't get it. If you like Coldplay, I'd be interested in your sales pitch. Frankly, they just don't do it for me. It's just so much fluff.

What I'm thinking about: Couple of things. First, it's about time to start applying for another bar exam (or two). Yuck. Second, what parents allow their 18-year old daughter to take a "senior class trip" to Aruba? Seriously. If I have kids someday, they are not leaving the country except under my direct supervision. Third, I wonder to what extent do blog personas match up with the authors' real personalities?

What I'm not thinking about: Global warming.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Grab-Bag of Posts
Here are a few items that caught my eye today. I have neither the time nor motivation to make intelligent posts out of them, though, so I'm just tossing them in here.

1. Like they tell speechwriters to do, I'll start out with a joke. Here, from the relationship experts at MSN (and who else would you trust?!), are Ten Things Every Single Girl Should Own and a corresponding list for guys. Assuming the accuracy of this list (which I do not concede here), I'm doing ok but not 100%. I don't drink coffee, after all, and I'm not going to buy a coffeemaker on the off chance that a guest will want some. But if I ever pay more than $150 for a pair of jeans, you have permission to shoot me. Ladies, feel free to mock your suggested list, too, but some things are just un-mockable. An Eminem CD?!

2. I like the Washington, DC area, I really do. But DC is the municipal government analogue to my love life. Today's example is the District Police Chief's car getting stolen. This never would have happened to Craig T. Nelson!

3. Staying in the DC area, here is an interesting article (and more here) about a plan to include high-occupancy toll ("HOT") lanes in the Capital Beltway. The idea is that drivers will pay to avoid gridlock. A similar road in the Los Angeles area charges about $8.00 for a round-trip. I wish I had some solid analysis for this one. I think I would use a road like this -- I hate hate hate traffic -- but I'm not sure where I would reach my limit. My time and sanity are worth something, but let's face it: not that much. For me to pay a lot of money, I would have to get something over and above less-clogged roads. For example: a higher speed limit; safer roads; convenience (easy on-off/interchanges, near my destinations); and a nice touch -- restriction to drivers with clean records. You give me that, and I'll pay enough to maintain the darn thing myself! In the long run, I don't see this working out. It's just going to turn out to be another tax, because the thing will fill up no matter how much they charge, and the purpose will be defeated eventually. It would be interesting to see if a city like DC could go the route of London, which as I understand it charges drivers for entering the city center. If someone can point me to more on HOT lanes, though, I would appreciate it. I hope it works out better than I foresee.

4. If you caught posts last week here and here and here and here and here about the West Virginia case establishing a self-defense public policy exception to the employment at will doctrine (in a case involving a 7-Eleven employee who wrested a gun from a would-be robber), be sure to catch this one by 7-Eleven's lawyer in the case.

5. Don't tell my Mom that stuff like this happens at federal courthouses.

6. Tom Smith at The Right Coast had a neat post up the other day. (If the direct link doesn't work, it's 6/16/2005 at 12:42:00 PM, "Of Blogs and Stare Decisis.") It includes a link to his new article, "The Web of Law." The article says (oversimplifying) that a few cases get cited a lot, and most cases never get cited. Smith notes in the post that blogs work the same way -- a few gets hordes of traffic, while most get a tiny trickle of visitors. I hope to have more to say about this sometime, but for now, read the article, along with this article from "Wired" about the concept of the "long tail" (in blog terms, that long list of blogs getting just a few hits; in legal terms, those run-of-the-mill cases that never get cited). Also, be sure to check out Clay Shirky's seminal essay on power laws and the internet. (It's no exaggeration to say that reading Shirky's piece convinced me it was worth it to start this blog.) It's an interesting concept, and Smith makes a thoughtful contribution. UPDATE: And see a newer post from Smith applying the same principle to citations to law review articles here.

Outlander! Outlander! We have your woman!
Just for the record, there is nothing creepier in a movie than small children. Axe murderers and giant squids are scary, but there's nothing better to make your spine crawl than a freaky little kid. Exhibit A: the twin girls from The Shining. Exhibit B: the girl from The Ring. Exhibit C: Damien from The Omen. Exhibit 5: the boy from The Grudge. Exhibit XIV: Children of the Corn. Exhibit exhibitionist: Cory Feldman.

I'm not sure why this is. Is it because children are supposed to be innocent, and it bothers us to see them otherwise? But if this was the case there would be many more movies about killer kittens and rabbits. Or it could be as Milbarge suggested, that children (along with clowns, scarecrows, and cats) are inherently evil and creepy, and anytime they show up bad things are about to happen. Either way, when I get around to making my horror movie, it is going to be littered with creepy little kids. Well, either that or co-ed shower scenes.

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    The views presented here are personal and in no way reflect the view of my employer. In addition, while legal issues are discussed here from time to time, what you read at BTQ is not legal advice. I am a lawyer, but I am not your lawyer. If you need legal advice, then go see another lawyer.

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