Welcome to Minor Wisdom, the latest stop of the Blawg Review, the blog carnival for everyone interested in the law.
When recruiting me for this project, the anonymous Blawg Review Editor suggested a religious theme. BRE noted that January 8 is the feast day of Our Lady of Prompt Succor. OLPS is the patroness of New Orleans; her name is invoked in New Orleans' Catholic churches during hurricane season to protect us against those storms. Accordingly, BRE thought it would be appropriate on this day for the Blawg Review to be hosted by a New Orleans-based blog.
Indeed, it seems that in 2006, those prayers to OLPS worked. Take a look at the storm tracks for the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season. It appears that Someone was steering those storms away from New Orleans and, later in the season, the entire southeastern United States. I guess He decided we'd had enough in 2005.
But I thought that a slightly different theme was in order. Two nights ago, January 6, was the Twelfth Night of Christmas and feast of the Epiphany, commemorating the Magi and their three gifts to the Christ child. In New Orleans, Twelfth Night is the traditional start of the Carnival season, which culminates on Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras.
My first idea for a theme was the gifts of the Magi: gold (which we all love), frankincense (spirituality plus anything that smells good), and myrrh (including a citation to Monty Python's Life of Brian: "And thanks a lot for the gold and frankincense, ahm, but don't worry too much about the myrrh the next time, all right?"). But then BRE reminded me that an Ephiphany theme has already been done. Okay; scratch the gifts-of-the-Magi theme.
My next idea was to focus on Carnival. BRE liked that idea, seeing as how Blawg Review is a blog carnival. BRE also thought that carnival would be a "colorful" theme, which got me thinking about New Orleans' carnival colors: purple (representing justice), green (representing faith), and gold (representing power — and of course, gold). Justice, power, and gold should dovetail nicely with lawyers' blog writings, I thought. (Faith I'll work in somehow.) So that's the theme, folks: purple, green, and gold; or justice, faith, and power.
Courtesy of FourthAmendment.com, here is Andy Griffith v. The Patriot Act, which I think must be the first embedded video in any Blawg Review [p.s. I stand corrected. See Blawg Review #84 at Transcending Gender for at least one prior embedded video.] :
Speaking of the rule of law:
Congratulations to the winners of the the 2006 "Rodneys," i.e. Public Defender Blogger Awards, announced yesterday on Public Defender Stuff. Special congratulations go to my personal favorite, Arbitrary & Capricious, which won the awards for Public Defender Blog You'd Like to Be When You Grow Up and Best Blog by a Male Public Defender. A&C's patron saint is J. Skelly Wright, who served as a U.S. district judge in New Orleans in the 1950s and early 60s, and whose decisions helped desegregate our city.
Another Rodney winner worth mentioning is Swan Lake Samba Girl, who deserves double congratulations for (a) winning the Rodney for Best Title of a Blog That Has Nothing to Do With the Job, and (b) making the front page of the New York Law Journal.
While on the subjects of public defenders and New Orleans, we give thanks for guys like Brian Privor. Since Katrina, New Orleans' criminal-justice system has gone from dysfunctional to nonfunctional. While things have begun to improve, there is still a dire need for public defenders. To help fill that great need, Brian has moved down here from D.C. to give six months of his life as public defender. At Do Not Pass Geaux, he's writing about his experiences.
In a similar vein, Alan Childress applauds law students who spent time in New Orleans to give legal help to prisoners who have been locked up for months without seeing a lawyer or a courtroom. He also applauds their law-school dean, who helped fund the trip by foregoing the school's annual holiday-card mass mailing to alumni.
Besides helping prisoners, law students can learn from them. At Harvard Law School, students find themselves deeply affected by Thomas "Chris" O'Bryant, a prisoner and jailhouse lawyer, whose guest lectures are piped in via speakerphone. What accounts for the influence? Lawsagna provides some insightful answers.
As for prisoners outside the U.S., recently the Department of Defense refused Sen. Pat Leahy's request for information about interrogation techniques believed by the administration to be lawful or unlawful. Marty Lederman critiques the DOD's grounds for denial.
Many, regardless of their stand on capital punishment, were troubled by the rush to execute Saddam Hussein. Besides being troubling, that rush violated Iraqi law. Kevin Jon Heller explains. And as reported at dotCommonweal, the execution served to harden the Catholic Church's stand against capital punishment.
On the other end of the justice spectrum, SOX First (not a baseball blog) comments on KPMG's get-out-of-jail-free card.
Finally, at Coalition for Darfur, Eugene Oregon continues tirelessly to post news about the atrocities occurring in Darfur, now spreading to Chad. In our short-attention-span culture, it's hard to stay focused on news like this. But we must.
If you're interested in legal blogs that explore religion, here are some you might want to check out:
- Law Religion Culture Review, by Richard J. Radcliffe, where Richard "explore[s] the intersections of law, religion, and culture." Richard holds three graduate degrees: two in law and one in theology, so he's well qualified to write about this stuff.
- Jeremy Richey's Religion Law Blog. Jeremy describes himself as "a lawyer, a Republican, and a Christian." I guess two out of three isn't bad.
- Mirror of Justice, where several professors write about the development of Catholic legal theory.
- Ask Sister Mary Martha. Okay, Sister isn't a lawyer, so her blog isn't a blawg. But the Blawg Review Editor gave me some editorial latitude here. So if you're a Catholic (practicing or lapsed), or if you loved Late Night Catechism, then you'll want to make Sister's blog a regular read.
Moving now from the sublime to the silly, we learn from Corporate Blawg UK about some cutting-edge research by the Gloucestershire Royal NHS Foundation Trust. The astounding results: sword-swallowing is dangerous. Perhaps equally astounding, Prof. Eric Muller discovers that in Germany, a good pick-up line should not include any mention of Hitler.
In a way, blogging is an act of faith — no one knows when starting whether anyone else will be interested in reading. One group whose faith has been rewarded, big time, is the group who collaborate on Concurring Opinions. On Twelfth Night, CO recorded its 1,000,000th visit.
Gold / Power
Someone out there is more powerful that Westlaw. Back on December 23, 2006, Howard Bashman reported a censure of a U.S. judge "only inadvertently made public." The decision was reported at 2006 WL 3478274, but as reported by Howard last Tuesday, it seems that someone made that publication disappear.
On Copyfight, Alex Wexelblat writes about NBC's wise use of power. Here's the story: Not long ago, NBC's Saturday Night Live ran a musical video of an urban holiday tune with the charming title, "Dick in a Box." As you might imagine, the video required some censoring for network broadcast. Some fans recorded the broadcast video and uploaded their copies to YouTube. NBC demanded removal of the pirated videos — and offered in their stead an uncensored version. (If you like your urban holiday music a little less risqué, may I suggest Kung Fu Christmas.)
In biblical tradition, power over something (or someone) included the power to name. See, e.g., Genesis 2:18-20. That notion probably lies somewhere in the collective unconscious, which would explain some recent litigation between unmarried parents over the right to name their child. Craig Williams tells the story at May It Please the Court.
Besides standing for power, gold can stand for, well, gold (which, come to think of it, is power, at least in law firms). With that in mind, lawyers who are law partners or who work for law partners will want to bookmark MorePartnerIncome, "dedicated to ideas and techniques for the financial management of the law firm with the objective of increasing the income of equity partners." MPI comes with Dan Hull's recommendation, which is high praise, as Dan is a man with excellent judgment, discernment, and taste.
How much gold should be spent on drugs for Medicare patients? That should be negotiable, says David Harlow at HealthBlawg. And speaking of health-care costs, Skip Oliva asks why price-fixing is OK for third-party payers but not OK for physicians' groups.
Lots of gold does not always make for happiness. At Inside Opinions, Carolyn Elefant examines the exodus of midlevel associates from big law firms. She cites a survey by the National Association of Law Placement saying that 37% of associates leave within the first three years and 77% leave within the first five. Those numbers are troubling; perhaps more troubling is that we've become inured to them.
A time to be born, ...
During Carnival season, we eat king cake. I always thought that it's called "king cake" in honor of the Magi, who are sometimes referred to (erroneously) as kings. But according to this web page, the king-cake tradition has pagan roots. (A Carnival tradition with pagan roots? Who knew?)
Inside the king cake is a little plastic baby, which I suppose represents the Christ child visited by the Magi. During Carnival, there are king-cake parties, and whoever "gets the baby" has to throw the next party or buy the next king cake. But in pagan times, "getting the baby" had more severe consequences: "It was customary to choose a man to be the "sacred king" of the tribe for a year. That man would be treated like a king for the year, then he would be sacrificed, and his blood returned to the soil to ensure that the harvest would be successful. The method of choosing who would have the honor of being the sacred king was the King's Cake. A coin or bean would be placed in the cake before baking, and whoever got the slice that had the coin was the chosen one." In those days, it was good to be the king, but only for the first 364 days.
With that happy thought, let's give a slice of virtual king cake to every blog mentioned in this post; whoever gets the baby must host next week's Blawg Review. And while everyone partakes, let's shine the light on some baby blogs that show lots of promise:
Lawsagna, born October 24, 2006 (and cited above), features "alternating layers of thoughts, tools, tricks, tips, and other ingredients for a successful learning experience in law school and beyond." Its author, Anastasia, is "a lawyer and a linguist by training with a passion for learning and compulsion to read everything that comes in sight." Lawsagna "is a product of [her] research in the areas of multiple intelligences, accelerated learning, informal learning and instructional technology. [Her] mission is to translate those concepts into effective and easily implemented strategies that would help people to learn better, share knowledge more effectively and use this knowledge for impact."
Legal Profession Blog, born October 29, 2006. I'd call this one the law-professor blog with an attitude. One of the authors is Alan Childress, known to appellate lawyers as the Godfather of Standards of Review. See 125 F.R.D. 319. LPB was recently needled by Needled, for lamenting a toy tattoo kit. Looking on the bright side, Childress rejoiced that Needled deemed LPB "popular."
California Appeal, born November 25, 2006, is presented by Amanda Benedict, whose law practice is "a combination of bicycle litigation and appellate advocacy." Her blog covers appellate advocacy in California, and provides tools, tip, and resources for appellate lawyers everywhere.
Polymorphous Perversity, born December 22, 2006, is where Harper Jean Tobin puts her law-related musings. Says Harper, "While I make no promises regarding the frequency or quality of posts, I intend to make regular posts here which will range from half-organized passing thoughts to annotated links to polished short essays. This blog does focus on a specific area of law per se, but will generally reflect my personal interests in issues related to gender, sexuality, and human rights." Last Tuesday, for example, she explored the possibility of a legal-rights agenda for sex workers.
... a time to die.
Carnival is about life, but the culture behind Carnival recognizes that death too is part of the cycle of life.
Just over two weeks ago, SW Virginia Law blogger Steve Minor had to say goodbye to an old friend: his dog Chrissy. He wrote a poignant eulogy about her. If you've ever loved a dog, reading it will probably draw a tear. If the eulogy doesn't put a lump in your throat, this video posted by Steve will; it's Jimmy Stewart on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show, eulogizing his dog named Bo.
"All good things must come to an end," said Q to Captain Picard. We saw that happen twice recently, as two popular blawgs came to an end.
On December 22, Steve Dillard decided that it was time for Southern Appeal to take its curtain call. With more than a million visits in four years, it had quite a run. If you'd like to buy Steve a blogging-retirement gift, I suggest shopping here.
Next week's host
There's just one question left: Who got the king-cake baby? Lo, it's Public Defender Stuff! That's where next week's Blawg Review party will be held.