Playing Chess Against Self
Have you done this? It is impossible to stay impartial. Sooner or later, you take a side, and soundly defeat dessicated alter-ego.
That's what maintaining two blogs feel like. I set up one for my family and another for my friends. The one for family is more me-oriented, because they are far away and (at least they say) they miss me.
I lately realized that I've been discriminating between my two blogs. So I think I'll soon fold this one up and consolidate. Sadly, my life is not exciting enough for two blogs, and I hate redundancy.
This one may stay a just little bit longer, to wind things down.
New address: http://saltyseaweed.blogspot.com
Somebody Should Get Fired Over This
MSN Entertainment News.
Mantra Entertainment, which produces "Girls Gone Wild" series, seven years in running, have introduced "Guys Gone Wild."
"We took mirror image with what we have been doing with 'Girls Gone Wild'." Says the company spokesman. "The stars are young, good-looking guys who aren't shy about taking it all off and letting it all hang out." The show would consist of them doing gyrations "like strippers."
Who'd watch this stuff?
"A recent screening of a group elicited squels of appalled laugher . . . followed quickly by boredom and shutting off of TV." MSN news reports. "There is a double standard when it comes to guy-to-guy as opposed to girl-on-girl," the Mantra Entertainment spokesman admitted.
Wasn't there an Onion article joking about this?
I want to tear Don Imus apart
Sun-Il Kim, a Korean civilian working in Iraq was recently kidnapped and beheaded by Iraqi insurgents. An indiscriminating bunch, these terrorists. The video of his beheading has been circulating in the Internet. In his final moments, Kim cries, "I want to live."
Well, John Donald Imus Jr. watched the video. In his morning show, he cracked a joke, saying that Kim, when he screamed, was "just like that retarded Chinese guy from American Idol." And then he chuckled.
What a f--k.
My family considers boxing barbaric. So it is probably natural that the sport disturbs me; making a specticle of two (often minority) men (and women now) beating on each other seems distasteful. I often wonder whether a person who decides to embark on this profession may not have issues. A few good boxing documentaries--and there are many, such as When We Were Kings and (I think) Joe Fraser--have not swayed me of this impression.
The poster-child of boxing badness is, of course, Mike Tyson. A defeat, drug usage, a rape conviction and an ear chew will do anyone's career in. Now, he has no asset to his name and is $25 million in debt. In an interviw with ESPN, he says that he's been sleeping in homeless shelters and basically begging for money. He's 39 years old--far past the prime of any sport but especially boxing, and is an abject figure. "My life has been a waste," he says.
However, he is planning a series of final desperation bouts. The purpose is, of course, money. But it may be more than that. "I paid my dues . . . I ain't the same person I was when I bit the guy's ear off."
A softie inside of me kind of wishes that he will redeem himself (although that means that another person will need to be plummeted) and finally show a degree of maturity. How can someone waste money he earned through pain and blood is beyond me.
Apparently I am a big Yu-Gi-Oh! fan. I didn't know. But M and R, like good friends they are, help me learn things about myself that I would otherwise stay ignorant from.
This is my hero. His name is Yugi Moto. According to this site, he has an alter-ego, Yami Yugi, that is "stronger and more confident in his abilities." Sounds a little bi-polar to me - not that there is anything wrong with that.
This is Tea Gardner. She's Yugi's date. according to this site,
"She cares a lot for her friends and tells them not to give up hope." She's my hero too.
This is me, playing Yu-Gi-Oh! with my buddies. We are training hard for Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championship Tournament. Last time I checked, there's no upper age limit, so I think I'm cool to go, as soon as mom lets me borrow her car.
We train hard, but it's not all work here: me and my hommies like to take a break from training to relax and have fun once in a while. We got a pretty cool group of people here. We welcome any female players who'd be interested in learning the game.
Which Cities in India Actually Have High-Rises?
According to the BBC, Marvel comics have "transcreated" (Indian comic book executive's words) Spiderman by making him an Indian. Peter Parker will become Pavitar Prabhaker and he will be sporting "more modest" loinclothes instead of tights. Presumably he will be dealing with more Indian issues. Like censorship? Lack of wealth and equitable distribution? Religious strife? I think Pavitar is a Hindu name, so if that is addressed, there will probably be nothing new on this issue aside from the old and tired official government lines.
The weird thing is, India is so unlike NYC, and Spiderman is quintessentially a NYC hero. I don't think anything about Spiderman is going to get "India-fied" very well. Besides, Indian Spiderman is presumably not going to trod among the rice fields, so he'll have to be in a city, any way. Young city Indians are probably suave enough to not really require silly "transcreation"--Spiderman the movie was a big hit there-so why bother?
Well, I guess India has plenty of problems for everyone.
"Prudence" is a favorite in the legal community. No lawyer dislikes it. A finding that somebody acted with it virtually guarantees a win in a courtroom.
Prudence is boring, however. A total lack of sponteneity would a fitting synonym. Worse, it is often a waste of time. In my kitchen drawer, I have a pile of receipts, bank letters, paid bills, etc. Who cares? Well, nobody. Will I ever have any use of these? Not likely. But I dutifully pile them on. Why, it seems like a prudent thing to do. If the trend continues, I'll probably be cc'ing all my emails to my gmail account.
Darkrooms are great. It's like a movie theater where you make your own movies. Movie making is inherently unfun, mind you. It is some agonizing stuff. Except that part, darkrooms are perfect.
I will be returning there soon. I haven't been to a darkroom in the past three years. The memorial union darkroom charges money for the chemicals and closes at 11. What's up with that?
But I forced myself to go. I figure I need a further excuse to avoid bar studies. God knows riding bike in Madison can get tough after dark. So here's my after-hour "detour and frolic," at least until the Four Star Videos return operational.
In some aspects, this summer is the vacation I have never had for the last decade or so. I worked my butt off in summers since college days, and had full summer job (not that I'm happy that I don't have it now) throughout the law school. I'm playing frisbee, riding my bike, attending concerts, making camp fires, and singing in Karaoke. . . weird.
Studying for the bar comes with pros and cons. Let's see,
It sucks bad.
It makes me appreciate and take joy in small things. For example, when I eat, I am joyful that I am not studying for the bar. When I go to bathroom, I am joyful that I am not studying for the bar. Every second I am not studying for the bar, I am joyful that I am not studying for the bar.
Well, you get the idea.
Morality and Law
Law's aversion against specific performance recognizes the fact that it is easy to force somebody to stop but it is difficult to order somebody to affirmatively act. This is what I call administrative wisdom: an insight into human behavior that comes not from idealism but institutional experience. There are many instances of this managerial realism in law, such as its distrust of pure emotional damages, prohibition of inquiry into collateral matters, hearsay evidence rule, lack of duty to act, and, in appallent courts, time limit to arguement. This shows that it is not the design of the courts to solve the worlds' problems; they are merely a sensible forum for dispute resolution.
However, Law and Morality argues to the contrary. It claims that the courts should take on a new mission and seek to solve the worlds' problems. The author provides no guideline for this gargantuan (there, I said it) task, instead arguing that the courts should reach morally just results. Of course, nobody pursues morally indefensible positions--almost every claim, morally, if not legally, has some merit. How can the courts reach unequivocally moral results if there is no unequivocal morality? The book does not even bother to define its hinging concept, morality. I suspect the author does not really understand his arguments.
All You Need to Know About the Legal Culture
From Annonymous Lawyer,
A despearate law student keeps sending his/her resume to AL, asking for a job. Unfortunately, the resume is not up to AL's standards, and it bugs him because it takes up his time.
AL posts a point-by-point criticism on the shittiness of the resume, including a line, "having sex with your dog [is] not [a] good interest to list--there is no dog-sex in the resume--and calling him/her a "prestige-whore."
"The the hapless (and inconsiderate) resume-sender should be damn grateful someone bothered to point out the flaws. AL, can you perhaps send a bill to his internet service provider?"
"AL is completely right. Stop trying to defend your shitty resume."
and, finally, the crown jewel,
AL, why don't you call "Anonymous Law Student" in for an interview? And then when s/he arrives, you can gather everyone around and point, mock, and laugh."
"The greatest novel of the twentieth century" or "the zenith of modernist writing" starts like this: "Stately, plump black mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed." Not so bad. A couple lines down, "Mulligan" contemplates to himself: "My name is absurd too: Malachi Mulligan, two dactyls. But it has a Hellenic ring, hasn't it? Tripping and sunny like the buck himself. We must go to Athens. Will you come if I can get the aunt to fork out twenty quid?"
I've tried reading Ulysses on several occasions. I don't think I was built for it. Intense frustration and puzzlement have been my rewards. I stayed comforted by the fact that nobody I know have managed to read through it. Until R told me he has. And he liked it.
So I have to engage in intellectual keeping-up-with-the-Joneses here. Why? Because I'm an Asian. I am that fickle. Actually, I wasn't sure if anybody could do it. Anyway, I just prepped myself with Ulysses for Dummies. I'll hopefully move onto the real thing soon. After I'm done with the Real Property section.
So, this real property section is a real pain. The terms are familiar: fee simple determinable, fee simple conditions subsequent, fee simple absolute, joint tenancy, tenancy in common, etc., etc. Except I had K as the professor, who encouraged us to discard those terms and their requirements as mere fronts for policy considerations. Well, Bar seems to have preciously little public policy questions. So it's back to high school. Memorize memorize memorize. Ah well, time to get back to it.
The Supreme Court wards off the hottest political potato with today's ruling that Newdow did not have the standing to bring his suit to declare "under God" portion of the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional. This is a classic punting move, made painfully obvious by the oral transcript where justices seem to almost display contempt to the school's (now) prevailing argument that a father without custody rights have no say in the upbringing of his daughter.
An interesting point is that three justices, Rehnquist, Thomas, and O'Connor dissented, opining that the Court should have found the Pledge constitutional. Does this mean the other five - Scalia having recused himself but having made his views perfectly clear before he heard the actual "case or controversy" - really believed the Pledge was unconsitutional? Not sure. Justices, with life tenure, are not particularly adverse to controversies. And the outcome would have been the same, anyway: a movement to have a constitutional AMENDMENT putting the word "God" in the pledge (and a lot of other documents).
Why is this important? Is this not just a tempest in a teapot? Will it change our lives whether those two words exist? That, perhaps not. Perhaps Holmes was right when he said the law should not be about logic, but experience. But the point is to remove hypocracy in public life. In theory, we live under a secular government. We can either change the theory or stay to it to our best ability. Doing neither is a hypocracy, a public lie. And today, the Court chose hypocracy over integrity.
Who says nothing interesting happens when you are studying for the bar? Truly, we are adept at making lemonades. We talk the time away with exotic foodstuff, newspaper articles, transvestites, or Dick and Jane. Especially Dick and Jane.
Also, we went to Maduro and got totally tanked. I spilled my drink on M again (see 4.19 entry), when I smacked my wine glass with the back of my hand while lighting a match. This is two out of two. I think I need to get me a spill-proof baby drinking bottles. Hopefully, that doesn't mean I'll be needing these any time soon.
And then there was the engagement party. Congratulations to Uni and Xue Yue for their commitment. Hope you like the gift.
On the shop window of Madison Wine, what I thought I saw:
RR died, drown your sorrows here
What it actually said:
A puppy died, drown your sorrows here
Which is wittier: mine
Which is less likely to result in a rock or a baseball bat smashing through the shop glass: theirs
Who wins: Madison Wine
Details are found here.
Small, open boats offer no protection against the elements yet feel so snug. Is it the rocking sensation, or the smooth gliding of a boat powered by your own arms (or, in my case, mostly Ryan's)? Except for that mildly panic-inducing ten minute stretch where wind and wave kept pushing us deeper into the lake, the experience was positively serene. The whole thing made me fantasize about going out at dawn on a rowing boat with a good book or two and a thermo with hot, sharp tea or thick coffe. I would stay there until the sun got hot. Then I would return home for lunch and a glass of sweet thai iced coffe.
Good Things in Life
Everyone and their dogs is getting married these days. Seriously. I also notice gourmet food being touted.
Well, I suppose that what summer's all about: good food, good relationship, just good life in general. In a desperate attempt to salvage any semblence of good summer memory, I signed up for an ultimate-frisbee team. We had our first practice last Sunday.
It was not difficult to notice that fleet footedness, long limbs, and general coordinative atheletic abilities were key requirements to playing the game. As yours truly is marked by his distinct stubbleness of limbs and lumpishness in his movement and coordination, success already seemed elusory. The first game is on today, and I may or may not go, depending on whether I have a ride. I don't think the team will miss me.
Past Is Irrelevant
The other night, I had a ride with a post-graduate linguist, who was also a history undergrad. So we talked about history.
I don't really understand the point of history. I enjoy historical stuff as I enjoy mythology or fantasy. They are interesting, and relevant in so far that you will run into some people who really take it seriously (see Israel versus Palestine), but that's it. Certainly, you can learn things from history, but no more than you can learn from elsewhere. It's like the case law: history has so many different, conflicting stories and lessons that you can pretty much just pick and choose any lesson you wish to learn.
Rather, history should just stay history. A fitting subject for an idle talk and inspirations, like mythology. After all, what's the difference? I'm pretty sure Zeus did not come down to turn Europa into a sow, but I am not much more confident whether Pericles' election tactics were crucial to the outing of Cimon, for instance. Who cares, really?
Well, I'm pretty upset that my cheap DVD player would not play Kurosawa's Ikiru from the Netflix. Piece of Crap. In revenge to the DVD system and to Kurosawa, I checked out from the library a video of Tokyo Story by Ozu. I once checked it out from the Four Stars but had to return it unwatched a week later because I was too burned out. I'll do my best to watch it this time, although I have a nagging fear that the video may not have English subtitles, since there is not a single word of English on the tape cover. If true, that will just be another turn of the screw for me.
I am also pretty pumped up about the Patti Smith concert I bought the tickets for. I didn't know Patti Smith from Patti Page until a few days ago. So this will be pretty educational experience for me. M extracted an oral contract from me to refrain from requesting, or otherwise making a reference to, "Tennesse Waltz," or any other non-Patti Smith songs on the day, so I'll have to watch out for that.
Studying BarBri came with an unexpected benefit of making me appreciate the common law. Yes, we all groaned when we had to plow through 200+ pages a day. Yes, many of them were bloated and dry-as-desert-sand. But the cases give otherwise lifeless and abstract law the face of humanity. Real people went through the ordeal and suffered the consequence of the outcome (and, important to us, paid real money to real lawyers, at least in some of the cases). Not only does this make the study of law more relevant, but it makes it more engaging, more surprising--more human. I'm glad that I was forced to read cases, because if I started studying law through BarBri, I would have never grown to appreciate them.
Barbri also confirms my belief that the King of Case Law is tort. It adds an additional demension of mystique to cases because Barbri uses what must be real cases without citing their names. This has the intrigue of a brief but memorable street encouter with a stranger. (yes, I am a geek). See, e.g., the case used to examplify an improper use of assumption of risk: A purchases a pepper spray manufactured and advertised by B as being capable of incapacitating an attacker. Soon after, confronted by an armed robber demanding money or life, A pulls out and triggers the pepper spray in his face, with no effect. After A is hospitalized, he sues B. B asserts that A assumed the risk of injury by refusing to comply with the robber.
I have already forgotten what the rules of assumption of risk precisely are. But I am likely to remember this case, and had I known the names of the parties, I would be able to look it up whenever I can. Case laws are like fables, and fables are just cool.
In Cujo, a story about a rabid Saint Bernard, Stephen King advances a proposition that violence really comes from pain. Incurable pain may really turn into hatred, ultimately resulting in violence. I wouldn't know.
But I'm being tested. See, yesterday after dinner, I felt a slow throb about one of my teeth, at the back. It did not really bother me until after midnight today, when I got in bed. Like someone was screw-driving my tooth. Or slowly twisting a hot rod inside of it. I writhed about for hours, until I fell asleep, or passed out, whichever. Could it be wisdom teeth? I've never had them yet. In any case, upon rise, I discovered the pain subsided. Hope it stays that way.
So, so far, I feel no violence in me--just exhaustion.
The person sitting next to me in the computer lab must be a bio student; he is watching a graphic video of heart dissection in a large window. Magnified, the heart is the size of an adult head. Its leatherly skin is drenched in thin layers of blood. I am surprised how appalling it looks; after all, the human heart is associated with so many noble and beautiful things.
This just goes on to illustrate the fact that symbols and reality are distinct and separate entities. In some sense, everything about life is symbolic because it is usually through symbols that we understand it. So we are faced with endless communicative problems, such as when you are shocked to discover that you and the intelligent person you've been conversing with have been, for the last half hour, talking straight past each other. Unsettling . . .
Where am I going with this? I don't know. Hmm, I think the guy is now watching a kidney dissection.
O Brother, Where Art Thou? follows three escaped chain gang convicts as they navigate through pre-Depression era rural Mississippi. All three are somewhat dim-witted (although one is notably more articulate than others) and so are many that they come across; indeed, half of the movie's fun comes from the stereotypes of the Deep South, the kind that exists in popular memory of American culture.
I liked this movie; although not great, it's charming in a mischievous kind of way, like a teen age adventure, where characters who occasionally do bad things still exude the air of the innocent (even if outlaws), simply because you cannot associate them with contemplated malice. The adventure is episodic and has a feel of a sitcom comedy, in the sense that one event generally wraps itself up in a block of time, with little bearing on subsequent events. The jokes are nicely understated, such as when Clooney explains how he ended up with the chain gang in the first place (it was not because he was a bad-ass highway man).
The only criticism I have against it is that it apears contrived, especially on the ending. But maybe that's intended; the Clooney character clearly has the smart-alack feel of a character who knows he is in a movie (think Scream. I also don't understand why the moviemakers purported to follow the Odyssey: the comparison is pretty stretched (I spotted the Sirens and Cyclops). Anyway, the strength of the movie is not in its story-line but in its idiosyncratic characters and strong acting.
Silent films have a feel and flavor distinct from talkie films. They are intuitive rather than cerebral, atmespheric rather than descriptive. This makes black and white silent film an excellent medium for creepy, nightmarish kind of horror films.
Nosferatu was the first of the Dracula flicks. It stands out for its terse narration and intensity. Unlike today's vampire movies, Nosferatu takes the Count very seriously, who is not, by the way, a suave, handsome playboy but a fevered, shrieking outcast. Some memorable images help as well: in one scene, a limping priest slowly moves through the city, chaulking crosses on doors. One of them opens, and out comes a group of pallbearers with the latest victim. He grimly tips hat to them, and as they move out of the screen, continues his way, chalking crosses. The whole scene is elegent, striking, and of course, silent--although people seem to be moving their lips.