My friend Chip wanted to start a Thanksgiving tradition. He bought a throwback bison-leather football and suggested some of our group show up at the park near his park on Thanksgiving afternoon to play touch football. Why not? thought I. I love touch football, my relined hip has had eleven months to figure things out, it would break up the day–I was in. I brought Josh, home for a few days leave, my niece’s husband Randy, and Randy’s 13-year old son Nick. Rounding out the teams were Chip, Bruce, Mike, and Chip’s daughter’s boyfriend. Four v Four Two-Hand Touch on a wet grass field on an unseasonably warm Thanksgiving. Defenses could rush the QB after counting 5-Mississippi, with one no-count blitz per four downs. Offenses earned a first down after two complete passes within four downs and could run if the defense blitzed. The average age of my team was about 35 (thank you, Nick!); the average age of the other team was about 50. It is a good bet that no one save Nick had touched a football in, say, ten years. After the first few series of downs we gave Nick to the Retirement Home team, putting the average ages on parity. We scored a couple of touchdowns. The other team scored, and then put on an impressive multi-play drive. So impressive was their number of plays that it put me in mind of that philisophical problem: if one keeps halving the distance to a destination will he ever arrive? They scored eventually, then we mounted our own yard-consuming drive and scored again. At home turkeys needed turning and basting, biscuits needed baking, and guests needed fresh drinks and appetizers. We played one more series which ended when we stopped their offensive drive at midfield. The results were no broken bones, no pulled hamstrings or groins, no twisted knees or sprained ankles, wet and muddy shoes, and lots of laughter. I don’t know the final score. I’m sure my team won. We vowed to play again next Thanksgiving come rain, mud, snow, or cold. If we do a new tradition will have been borne.
Post Script: I downed 800 mgs of Alevel a few hours after the game and spent the evening applying a hot-water bottle to my right hip. At coffee this morning Chip, Mike, and I moved gingerly. Bruce didn’t show up. If no new aches appear this afternoon I’ll declare the whole thing a success–but I’ll keep the Aleve within arm’s-reach.
In a post titled “You (and 60,000 Others) Have Taken the LSAT. Now Read This” the WSJ Law Blog urges you college seniors applying in record numbers to take the LSAT to re-examine your path. While the advice is not news to anyone who has followed my posts I recommend it because (1) one should always pass along good advice and (2) the post closes with a line I use frequently when advising students to live more of their lives before exploring the mysteries of Rule 12(b)(6): law school will always be there.
Students have been visiting office hours to review their contracts law exam. When they see the right answer for the questions the got wrong they exclaim “oh, man!!!,” over and over. Often they realize why their answer is wrong without having to ask me for the correct one. “Oh, man!” is the verbal equivalent of slapping oneself on the forehead, “how could I be so stupid!” in four fewer words. Somehow this reinforces my reputation for “tricky exams,” as if my power over language only reveals a question’s true intent weeks after being read or the questions reword themselves after the exam is taken. Male, female, domestic student or International, “oh, man!!” is the song on everyone’s lips this week in SMG 644.
It was warm today for November, in the mid-50s or higher. The school building thinks it is heating, not cooling, season and cannot adjust to unseasonable weather. The classrooms were uncomfortably warm, with no relief. That, combined with a large number of illness-related absences, a low-blood sugar student pandemic, and my greater-than-usual fatigue made for a long day in front of the room. There was no fresh air anywhere. I was dying by degrees, day-dreaming of cold drinks and crisp November weather. A low-energy, uncomfortable, unsatisfying day of teaching.
I’ve almost finished 40-odd case briefs about United States v. Drew, the criminal prosecution of the Missouri mother whose pseudonymous MySpace harassment of 13-year old Megan Meier led to Meier’s suicide. Last November a jury convicted Drew of three misdemeanor violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, but in July the trial judge dismissed all of the charges after ruling that the CFAA counts were void for vagueness on the facts of the case. I agree with the ruling–it was not a close call on the law–but after reading so many times about Drew’s creation of the fictional 16-year old “Josh Evans” and her remorseless, manipulative cruelty towards a barely-teenage girl who Drew knew suffered from psychological problems, I want to believe there is a special place in hell-on-earth for Drew.
Yesterday I spent seven hours with two-stroke engines, those noisy drivers of landscaping tools such as, in my case, a lawnmower and a leaf blower. Two-stroke engines often combine combustion and lubrication by burning a mixture of gasoline and oil at a ratio of, say, 50:1. Their inescapable by-products include noise and exhaust fumes, the latter accented by the heavy aromatic residue of burnt oil. It’s not the noxious unbreathable cloud one experience’s driving behind a badly-tuned automobile but a musk that says “I just spent an hour in the woods operating a chain saw.” I usually consider it a pleasant grace note to working outside on a cold fall day.
Usually. A heavy back-mounted leaf blower–just like the ones suburban landscapers use at 7:00 am on Saturday–places its screaming engine a foot from the wearer’s head. I wore hearing protectors that look like drugstore-version sound-canceling headphones, except less comfortable, and safety glasses, but there’s no protection from the fumes. I followed my yard-maintenance marathon by throwing everything I wore into the washer and a long hot shower during which I scrubbed every inch of my body, like the post-contamination shower scene in Silkwood. (Watch it if you’ve never seen it.) Yet despite using a loofah and two kinds of soap I detected exhaust fumes for the rest of the day. I washed my hands and face in water as hot as I could stand but the scent lingered. It conjured no pleasant feelings about outdoor labor on a brisk November day. I smelled like I’d just finished an 18-hour shift at Jiffy Lube.
It’s gone today. I’ll take another long hot shower, just in case.
Last week domain-name overseer ICANN announced that sometime next year it will allow domain names that are not in the Latin alphabet. The first non-Latin domain names are expected to be in Chinese and Arabic. It’s an inevitable and perhaps overdue milestone in the Internet’s evolution into a global platform.
The suit by two (now former) Yale Law Students against AutoAdmit for harassing and threatening messages recently settled, quietly ending a controversy that began in a characteristically over-the-top anonymous Internet message board. The suit, filed in 2007, gathered considerable attention because of the offensiveness of the comments, the battle over unmasking anonymous posters, and the lack of clear-cut theories of liability. (See this post for more information.) The settlement’s terms are not public.
I’ve activated the ability to use Facebook logins to sign-in to post comments on this blog. If I’ve set it up correctly it should work without a hitch. If I’ve set it up correctly. If you encounter a problem with this feature email firstname.lastname@example.org with details.
Apology for singing shop worker: The agency responsible for collecting copyright royalties in Scotland warned Sandra Burt, a food-store employee, to stop singing while she worked or face thousands of pounds in fines. First the Performing Rights Society notified the store it must have a license “to play a radio within earshot of customers.” The owner ditched the radio and Mrs. Burt broke into song “just to keep me happy because it was very quiet without the radio.” The PRS’s threat provoked a “furore” (love those U.K. spellings!) and the agency reversed course, sending Mrs. Burt flowers and apologizing for its “big mistake.”
It’s a silly little story with disturbing elements. That an organization involved in copyright enforcement believed Mrs. Burt’s singing warranted bullying and punishment makes copyright holders look foolish and obscures the real issues at stake in the copyright wars.