Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Up, Up and Advocate!

Something struck me tonight (aside from the feeling I should be studying) as I was watching Superman Returns, one of my favourite movies of this last year, and reflecting on my trip to campus today.

Is it me, or does the Curtis Building have something in common with the Kryptonite-laced supercontinent borne of Lex Luthor's greed?

I have noticed a decrease in power and will as I enter the building sometimes...

Pity post

OK everyone, time to send your sympathies, now that Vancouver is enduring an actual snowstorm and the snow isn't melting by the next day. No? Not even empathy? Well I took pictures anyway just for proof:

Trees from UBC campus/a Bob Ross painting.

I'd normally make some joke here that the ambient temperature had finally dropped low enough to match the temperature within the Law building, only that really happened. For some reason the asbestos just didn't keep in the heat today and classes were taught by be-parka-fied professors.

(Now c'mon, that law building deserves some sympathy.)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Consider this my "Blog House"

Two years ago this weekend I began this blog. In the intervening time, I've written over 250 posts, and at an average of 250 words per, that's over 62,500 words. (Still 300,000 words short of the lawyer-themed and longest Charles Dickens novel, Bleak House.)

But like the unfortunate victims of the depressingly high infant mortality rates that characterized Dickens' London, this blog will not live to see the age of 3: I've made the decision to wrap up this site in April, after my third year of law.

Looking around at the current selection of Canadian lawblogs is rather bleak itself: what once was a verdant field of bright-eyed opinion has now become a wasteland of lazy dereliction. Check out the index of Canadian sites on the Queen's Law blog (one of the best still around) and you'll find that many of these sites are either dead or dying.

We law students recognize that we occupy a niche of society that many people never see: lawyers before they become lawyers. I think blogging about it is actually sort of a privilege. It's sort of like the time during the massive delay in the Star Wars prequels, where you witness Anakin Skywalker's (viz. undergrad's) transformation to Darth Vader (viz. defence lawyer.) Also: kiss these nerdy metaphors goodbye.

Unfortunately, many of these law bloggers gave up midway through, or this new medium lost a bit of its lustre. I'm proud that this thing has lasted as long as it has. But I like this blog too much to have it wither and die. So instead, I'm setting it an execution date.

If I do any future writing, it'll be elsewhere, maybe not even on the internet, and hopefully I'll get paid for it. I also won't delete this site, but leave it for future generations to wonder how I found the time to do any law school work at all.

What does this mean in the meantime? Not much. In the coming months you'll get my final installment of my favourite annual idiosyncrasies, the conclusion to my Constitutional Poetry trilogy, and - thank God - the last of my pronouncements that I look like Michael Stipe. There's also a good chance I'll forget about everything I've just typed and keep blogging into perpetuity.

But hopefully not, and hopefully this blog will have served its main function: to chronicle my three years at law school so that my future self can look back on it. In fact, if you're not Future Ryan, you shouldn't even be here.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Thaw-water order also in effect

Here I am writing an essay that involves a European dispute about garbage, the treatment of television within the European Union as garbage, and then I go out to pick up dinner and I see this garbage:

Snow! I'm all for seasonal weather that reminds you of Christmas, but that's for when I go back home to Calgary where the stuff is available 9 months a year, not in Vancouver. I can't imagine this helps end the boil-water order we're still under.

This totally takes the fun out of a Thai food run.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Actual, original content

Technophile that he is, law school chum Thom managed to record our winning Guile Moot argument last week - the famed Mac vs. PC fight - and here it is in video form.

In keeping with everything on YouTube, the video and audio quality are awful. I'll let you be the judge of comedy quality. Also, it's readily apparent from the mini-interview which precedes the clip that I was nervous as hell before the performance.

Update: Law school papparazza Kasia has photos of the whole event here.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Do as the bloggers do

I'm finally making progress on this European Union law paper, meaning this post is terribly ill-advised. In any case, I think I've got a good topic: the current trend in EU television regulation to ban "unhealthy" programs and advertisements, and the inherent conflict with the principle of free movement of goods.

The highlight of my research so far has been reading about the worst fear of European regulators: America and it's "culturally inferior programming." One writer describes a particular horror during the late 1980's, when the Cosby Show was the top rated sitcom in France and Germany.

I've seen this firsthand. When in Rome during my grade 12 class trip, I made a stop at a tiny cafe. (Unremarkable so far, except that I did legitimately work the phrase "when in Rome" into my blog). Anyway, in the corner of this cafe was a television playing the Cosby Show. It was all translated, including the title graphics, but I was surprised to see the name of the show had also been changed. It's new name confused me: I Robinson.

Now at the time, I thought this was strange: were Italian broadcasters channeling Asimov with that name? Was the Cosby show somehow existential in a way I hadn't noticed before?

Mystery solved. It hasn't been until right now, doing this essay that I recalled this memory and put my years of learning Italian in the intervening years to use. The word "I" is actually the Italian plural for "The." So in effect, the show wasn't the Huxtables' take on I, Robot after all, but simply, "The Robinsons."

Finding that out is actually kinda disappointing.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Muggles, Lawgles, same difference

The trailer for the newest Harry Potter flick is out. With each new film/book, I find myself having to justify my admiration for this franchise. You may question a law student's love for H.Po, but I find the connection all too relevant. To wit:

Ways in which law school is exactly like the Harry Potter novels:

  • The academic use of robes.
  • Lords, be they Denning or Voldemort (both best unnamed).
  • Spells: what are laws but a less flashy form of magic anyway? The average citizen doesn't know them, and used correctly, they make for great shortcuts: Harry cries immobilus! I say injunction.
  • Ancient institutions: Hogwarts' baroque history and architecture, The Curtis Building's outdated compliance with building codes and asbestos regulation.
  • Separation by groups: the law school's Bane group obviously equivalent to the superior Gryffindor.
  • Sports with tenuous connections to reality and flagrant disregard for rules: on the one hand Quidditch, on the other, the Law School Circus hockey team.
  • The perennial fear that at least one professor will put your life in mortal danger.
Ways in which law school is unlike the Harry Potter novels:
  • The actual study and performance of magic.
  • The smouldering lust between Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger.
  • Regrettably, the utter absence of Alan Rickman.
  • etc.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Or Bereft of bouzouki

I thought I'd get to write something today about going to the Decemberists' sold out show last night at the Commodore. The band has been playing some legendary shows recently, and I've always wanted to see live a band that plays the accordion, the hurdy-gurdy and the bouzouki.

Alas, I arrived to some sign posted on the door saying the band was suffering from an "illness," and the tickets I've been holding for two months will have to wait another month to be used. Knowing the Decemberists, it was probably one of the more literate illnesses, like cholera or a 15th century strain of the plague.

In lieu of the concert, we made a stop at HMV downtown to finally buy their latest album (my favorite of this last year), and had an impropmtu concert in the car driving through downtown. Since I had my camera for the concert, I didn't want to waste it, so here's some random shot from the drive, although it's decidedly hurdy-gurdy-less.

(Not pictured: The Decemberists.)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Mac v. PC, awaiting appeal

Although we can't drink the water here in Vancouver on account of sedimentation and turbidity, I have tasted victory, and its fructose particle count is remarkably high, which is to say - it is sweet.

Yesterday was the annual Guile Moot tryouts, where the law school is turned into a comedy club with an audience who seem to be perpetually recovering from a Kenny Banya act. The goal is to be the funniest to argue on a given resolution, in this case "be it resolved that no man should be his own judge."

Fellow "king of the dorks" Thom and I did a team act where things got ever dorkier, as we presented the debate as a commercial with Mac and PC. After a heated debate where it was revealed, amongst other things, that "PC slept with Mac's wife!" we were crowned among the four winners, with finals taking place in January.

Two things I liked about this moot: first, getting to portray the PC/John Hodgman role. I recently finished his book, The Areas of My Expertise, which will be one of the funniest books you read. Second, we're always told in law school that being funny is the biggest sin in a courtroom. It's nice to know that if you're going to be in contempt of court, you'll be the most contemptible.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Prochaine: Jacques Bauer en Vingt-Quatre!

We've now moved on from the seismic deathtraps of Western North America to the lush vineyards and ancient castles of Europe. That's right: I've finished one essay and now am into my European Union law paper.

I've settled on a topic that is near and dear to my heart, TV. Specifically, I know it's always a big headache up here in Canada to have a certain quota of Canadian content on TV (made harder by the fact that original programming is so awful it needs to be replaced annually.) So I wanted to look into how the EU deals with protecting member states' cultural qualities, while respecting the free movement of goods and services, i.e. TV. Bien, n'est-ce pas?

I'm also hoping to answer several pressing questions: does 24 operate on the 24 hour clock over there? What region is the European equivalent of The OC? (My money's on Le Aix). And does the prevalence of civil law deny Sam Waterston the stardom he so richly deserves?

Since doing several of these papers I've become better at the research side of things, but the benefit of doing this for European Union law is that the Union's website, Europa, is amazing. It is, hands down, the best governmental website around, cataloguing every case, directive, piece of legistlation and all in countless languages to boot - and most importantly, all easily found.

Really the only site that matches its depth is Ryan Adams' repository of eight new albums available for streaming.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

I'll mess with Texas, thankyou

The 'rents are in town meaning I get to play tour guide for a few days. I'm trying not to let the terrifying research I've gleaned from my Earthquake/Land Use paper colour the landmarks I point out, but it's hard:

"And here on the left is the tallest building in downtown Vancouver. Should the sway of the building in an earthquake exceed 6 meters, the jagged, falling shards of 80 storeys of glass will be the least of pedestrians' problems. On the right we have a Starbucks."

I also took some pictures that underscore what I'm talking about when I say parts of Vancouver could easily pass for NYC or London, specifically the meat packing district...

and a Dickensian workhouse.

Another notable stop on the weekend was breakfast at the Hotel Le Soleil. Add French Toast to the list of foods made better by an inspired use of the baguette. Ever since I had a hot dog in France made with this "wonder bread," if you will, I've been applying it to every possible meal I can. Oddly, the notion of making French toast with French bread never occurred to me before. Now I find the thought of using Texas toast downright insulting.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

50% chance of "clogs"

We're T-minus one month until the first exam, and T-plus two in terms of essays yet to finish. My current goal is to finish this Land Use paper, my terremoto thesis, by Thursday. Normally I'd follow up such a post on the weekend with startling news that the goal somehow didn't work out. But to my surprise, I seem to be on track.

I've discovered that the best place to write a 7,000 word paper is away from the keyboard. And the farther the better. As is often the case when you don't live at the school you attend, you have to walk between locations. It's on these walks where I've taken to writing an essay in my head, and rewriting it until I can remember it well enough to put it on paper. Why didn't I think of this before? Perhaps blogging on a regular basis for two years is part of it...

Of course, maybe it's something in the air. I've also taken to bringing my camera along with me, and I snapped this weathern pattern. I guess I like that the clouds can't decide if they're fog or not.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Let them eat blog

Haven't written a post in French in a while, so I thought, why not procrastinate from law reading Parisian-style?

Je viens de voir le film Marie-Antoinette, finalement. Facilement, ça c'est un des meillures films d'annee. C'est un peu approprié que j'ecris cette blog en francais, parce que comme mes lecteurs, je pense que les critiques du film évidemment ne comprennent pas cette film. (Et pour mes lecteurs qui peuvent lire francais, vous pouvez corriger le mien.)

Comme Lost in Translation, c'est un film avec une belle locale, un acteur très drole, et il a une soundtrack merveilleuse. (Aussi, je viens de decouvrir qu'il'y a un Amazon pour la France!) Puis, c'est assez, parce que je n'ai pas pris une classe de francais depuis l'ecole secondaire et j'oublie la langue.

(And for those of you who don't speak French, I've given you the pleasure of knowing what it's like to study law at times.)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Jeremy's Iron

With the submission of my factum and the argument of my appeal, one class is over for the term. More importantly, I'm four credits closer to putting three more letters after my name. I believe this and a certain Scrabble prowess is what truly makes someone a "man of letters."

Actually, this alphabetic aggrandizement may actually serve another interesting, if entirely irrelevant purpose. There's a certain game where you attempt to rearrange the letters of a name or thing to come up with something that describes the individual or item. As it stands, my own anagram leaves something to be desired:

U stain yarn.

Now, far be it from me to denigrate the expert men and women who do such a thing for a living, but I had always hoped for something a bit more laudatory, or at least more apt.

But if we add LL.B and BA.H to the mix, well maybe the results would be a bit better. Not that I have time to figure out such permutations, I still have four classes left this term. Anyone else have interesting anagrams?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Karma Barristers

I was going to write a post about how, while putting the finishing touches on my factum for my big moot appeals trial tomorrow (wish me luck!) I caught a particularly legal lyric through my headphones:

"deny all knowlege / paragraph 5 / subsection B / the committee is content / to live in a rat's nest"

This comes from "A Rat's Nest" a new b-side from one of the best albums of this year, Thom Yorke's The Eraser. It is, of course, typical Yorke - see his "Bedtime Stories."

I wasn't sure what the legislative citation was in reference to, but since I was momentarily amused at the idea that maybe rock legends consult LexisNexis as well, I was curious...

...then I read a Radiohead message board, and suddenly became worried that these rabid fans, in efforts to satisfy their own curiousity, had done way more legal research than I had in preparation for my appeal.

So back to work.