Is what it is

On high school…

I have an external hard drive that I put a whole bunch of documents on that were on my old computer.  While (finally) writing the essay for my SPEA application, I hooked up the drive to take a look at the essay that I wrote when applying to the IU law school.  Along the way, I came across a bunch of random stuff that I had saved from high school.  Included were various papers and assignments along with a variety of ‘creative’ pieces, often imitating The Onion style, that I wrote in my free time.  Here are some random thoughts about what I found:

-I sure have gotten a lot smarter, and that’s a comment on what I found and definitely not on what I am currently.  My world was tiny and my grammar mediocre.  I had strong opinions and none of them had any real basis.

-I was extremely bitter.  I recall not really liking high school very much, but reading some of that stuff really jogged my memory.  I basically hated the world.

-My sense of humor was occasionally funny, but mostly really lame.  Man, sarcasm is really depressing.

-The most intelligent thing I found was a paper I wrote about free speech.  I don’t know when I learned this stuff in high school, but I wrote about symbolic speech and obscenity, and name-dropped cases like Miller v. California and N.Y v. Ferber.  I even had the correct definition of obscenity!  I probably just got the knowledge out of a textbook, but I was taken aback by the fact that I actually learned something in high school that I also learned in law school.

If anyone reading has stuff saved from high school, I’d encourage them to look it over.  It’s really interesting to take a look back and look at what you were compared to what you are now.  I’m sure I was doing fine in reference to the measuring stick that exists in high school, but it’s really easy to not accurately see how far you’ve come.  I’m hoping that I’ll be able to look back on some of the things that I wrote during this time in five or ten years and think the same thing.

On my trip with Jess to San Francisco…

Here’s the street view of where we stayed (link, google.com; Chancellor Hotel in SF).  Sidenote: street view on google is at once the coolest and scariest thing that I’ve ever seen.

Here is the story of the trip in picture form (link, facebook.com).

The long and short is that we really enjoyed the trip and are looking forward to going back sometime in the near future.  It’s not cheap, but it’s a wonderful place and there’s much more there to see and do than what we saw and did.  Plus the 49ers won, bonus!  Being in the stadium with thousands of other 49ers fan made me feel like I was coming home for the first time in my life.  It was a natural fit, and I could get used to visiting yearly.  Someday, when my net worth is above zero, I would like to be able to do that.

On my classes…

Just a quick run-through.  Environmental Law is really neat right now.  I like the professor and his teaching style, and the material is interesting.  Obviously, it’s neat to learn the statutes that govern the EPA after spending a summer working in the organization.  Unfortunately, I can’t say that I’m a very big fan of Law and Political Theory at this moment.  We’re currently covering Greek philosophy.  I’ve already read much of this stuff at some point in college and like it even less the second time around.  It’s basically a philosophy class right now, and I’ve moved on from being continuously interested in an abstract discussion that has virtually no relevance to reality whatsoever.  That’s so 4 years ago!

Legal Professions is what it is.  I’m pretty cynical when it comes to lawyers, so it’s hard to see the class as anything more than a dog and pony show.  So many lawyers lie and deceive, and do anything to advance the interest of their clients.  Once upon a time, these lawyers were in law school.  Some of my classmates will become the scummy lawyers of tomorrow, and I can’t help but keep that in the front of my head while listening to all of the good citizens in my class talk about how honest and ethical they would be in a difficult situation.

National Security Law is interesting thus far.  We’re currently talking about the separation of powers between Congress and the President.  We went over this in Con Law I, but now we’re doing it in more detail and it’s pretty fascinating.  In my constant attempt to filter out a general principle from complicating things in order to keep things simple (I’m pretty simple-minded), I have come up with one when it comes to these separation of powers issues.  Basically, the President can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants, if (s)he is able to convince the public that the power grab is a good thing.  It’s all politics.  There’s an argument somewhere in the case law for anything and everything, and who is to say which is right and which is not?  It all comes down to what the people allow their leaders to do.  The Constitution won’t stand in the way if we lay down and neglect our civic duties.  The existence of the country depends on citizens paying attention and caring.  The second that too many of us stop paying attention and caring, somebody will come along, gain power, and destroy the United States that we know.  And it will be in the name of the Constitution.

Lastly but not leastly, Employee Benefits is a cool class thus far.  We’ve talked about the origins of employee benefits (tort law) and now we’re getting into Worker’s Compensation.  It’s a practical class and information is useful.  The professor is a cool and laid-back guy too, which is always helpful.

So there you have it.  Bar classes are noticeably absent to my eventual peril.  Legal Professions is a requirement, but I picked the rest of the classes because they sounded interesting.  Three out of four isn’t bad, but the philosophy class really burns.   I could have knocked out a bar class with those credits.  Oh well.

On last semester…

I’m not going to post my grades anymore for a few reasons.  Primarily, I don’t consider grades to be all that important anymore and this decision is a symbol of that.  During my first year, and particularly my first semester, discussing my grades was relevant because law school was new and grades brought context to the experience that I wrote about and documented for friends and family back home.  Now, those of us in law school know what it’s about, and grades become mostly secondary to other aspects of the experience, at least in my view.  Also, practically speaking, my grades aren’t going to matter much.  I’m not applying to any law firms, and I plan on leaning on my future SPEA education more so than my law education.  Whether I get a 3.8 or a 2.8, I don’t think it’s going to make that much of a practical difference.

This is not a tricky way to avoid admitting my grades.  I actually did well last semester and certainly improved my performance over last spring.  The one exception was my energy law class.  A word of advice: don’t wait until you’re on vacation in San Francisco to begin writing a lengthy research paper.  Ouch!!!

On Presidential Politics…

Well, at the old blog location I was writing intensively about the race.  I don’t think I’m going to do that anymore, at least at the present and not in the horserace, heavily sourced ways of before.  There a few reasons for this.  Firstly, the race is just too dag fluid!  If you’re not a person who makes a living covering the thing, it’s just entirely too hard to keep up on a blog.  I had a lengthy blog written over winter break that I was going to publish on this new website.  But as soon as Iowa happened, it became completely obsolete.  Then, the Democratic race went through wild and crazy changes, from New Hampshire to Nevada to South Carolina.  So much has happened!  You’ve all seen it, you probably know where you stand right now and we all know where I stand (Obama son!).  Covering and commenting on the minute details of the race just isn’t worth the time it would take at this point (we’ll see if I’m able to keep this pledge).

Now doesn’t mean that I’m not paying attention, because I most certainly am.  I’m as involved as I was before, and watching the campaign go this way and that way, and watching the candidates shift a strategy accordingly and in real-time, is a great experience for me.

I would just like to make a couple more general comments on the Democratic race.  The actions of the Clintons in South Carolina have really soiled my view of them at this point.  There can be no doubt that they’ve played the race card and that they will do anything that needs to be done in order to win.  Their strategy seems to consist of dividing the party, dragging Obama off his perch, and engaging him in the type of dirty political warfare that the Clintons have mastered after years of experience and success.  It’s very demoralizing and depressing, and if Clinton does end up winning the nomination, she will have to work hard to get my vote back.  I think many others feel the same way, and I’m sure the Clintons are aware of the alienation amongst hardcore Obama supporters that they’ve caused.  They must think that they’ll be able to win all of us back come November, and that very well may be true.  It won’t just happen automatically though.  I’m capable of voting for somebody other than the Democratic nominee.  At this point, a Clinton nomination would force me to think long and hard about voting for a possible independent candidate (Bloomberg).  As for the possibility of voting Republican, I don’t mind John McCain, but I can’t think of a scenario that would lead to me voting for the Republican after living through Bush 43.  America really deserves and requires a change, and going from a conservative Republican to a moderate Republican isn’t enough as far as I’m concerned.

Okay, I have to offset all of this Clinton nomination talk with some Obama talk, since he’s very much in the race.  He probably has a less than 50% chance of winning this thing, but the fact that he’s come this far has really impressed me, and I’m very proud of the Obama campaign.  His personal performance has advanced by leaps and bounds since this race started.  His debate performances went from pretty awful to solid, and the frequently boring speeches of this summer have been replaced by “moment” speeches that make the country stand up and take notice.  His Iowa and South Carolina speeches were spectacular, and he really is the head of a movement right now.

An Obama Presidency is a long way away though.  We’ve already seen the incredible attacks he’ll have to withstand, and they’ve come from within his own party.  I can only imagine the sort of divisive, racist, angry attacks that he’ll have to deal with if he gets the nomination.  He proved that he can take a punch in South Carolina, and I’m confident that he can get through it.  I’ve always said that America won’t ever be ready for a black president, that somebody will just have to force the issue and trudge through the difficulties.  We’re watching it right now.  It’s a very personal thing for me, and my thoughts are with Obama all the time.  I pray for his strength and his safety.

On random things…

-Big-ups to the Badgers B-Ball team.  They are currently ranked #8 in the country and this was supposed to be a down season for them.  They are balanced and disciplined, have solid players everywhere, and play great defense.  They could make noise in March Madness, lets just hope nobody dislocates their elbow, the consequences are disastrous!

-Jess and I found a new apartment that we’re really excited about.  Actually, it’s a small house, complete with a dining room, living room, kitchen, bathroom, two bedrooms, a front and back porch, and a basement, all of which are large.  We have a driveway, a deck, and a backyard.  Washer and dryer included.  A reasonable $775/month.  In surfer’s terms, we’re stoked.

-Congratulations to the NY Giants for winning the Super Bowl.  That was one of the best Super Bowls I’ve seen and it was nice to see those pompous Patriots get knocked down a peg or too.  What’s the deal with Spygate II?  If they cheated more than was let on, the hammer needs to be brought down.

-Jess and I will be visiting Wisconsin in February, the weekend before the Wisconsin primary.  I think that’s going to be an important primary for the Democrats and I’m hoping to catch an Obama speech if he’s around.  Of course, I’m also excited to visit family and friends yo!

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