Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Wet Newspapers: Not Like Snowy Newspapers

NEW ORLEANS, Oct. 18 — Two days of rain here, or rather, two overnights into early mornings, and our newpapers weren't readable. Fortuneately, NYT does us the great favor of letting us report when we our papers are wet. Supposedly Sulzberger and company will credit our account for the lost reading pleasure. We'll find out.

We like two days of rain much less than two days of snow. Snow we can brush off of our papers and continue reading, while rain makes them sog-a-log-dog-hog and fragile.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Blogging NYT: Baghdad Garbage Man = Deadly Job

NEW ORLEANS, Oct. 13 — In an enlightening article, "Even Picking Up Trash Is a High Risk in Baghdad," A1 in today's New York Times, Michael Luo and his reporting partners spotlight the harrowing job of being a Baghdad sanitation worker. From roadside bombings to killings by militants trying to protect their roadside bombs, hundreds (probably — the story isn't totally precise on the figure) of sanitation workers in Baghdad have died from the violence since the war began.

It's an important look at the untold and unforeseen consequences of the American takedown of Saddam Hussein and the following occupation and insurgency. Basic municipal services are all-but nonexistent, Luo's piece suggests. The reality is a stark commentary on the fragile nature of cities and how easily they can fall to pieces in the midst of what many would call a good thing, the toppling of Saddam.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Bollards aren't boring.

NEW ORLEANS, Oct. 9 — Since 9/11, physical security barriers have sprung up around the United States, multiplying like rabbits.

In New York City, particularly in Manhattan, "setback" from the street and "target hardening" were already buzzwords by the time I started working for the NYC Department of Transportation two years ago last week.

Now, knock on wood, the City has decided many targets are sufficiently hard without adding unsightly barricades ringing their perimeters, as you can note in Cara Buckley's piece in Saturday's New York Times, "Security Barriers of New York Are Removed."

While I was at DOT, I worked with the developers of the Time Warner Center — the mall at Columbus Circle whose bollards are pictured in the Times piece — to ensure their scheme (or any changes to it, really — still none made, as far as I know) were sufficient to "harden" the building and that they were easy enough on the eyes to appease the Art Commission.

I'm glad to see the City and my former colleagues at DOT are making progress in keeping Manhattan secure while making it useable for the peds — that's transportation speak for pedestrians.

From NOLA, the land of few bollards and many potholes,
B.S. out.

I enjoy writing, legal or illegal. It's satisfying.

NEW ORLEANS, Oct. 8 — So, continuing on the law school kick because I spent 12 hours today doing law school stuff — reading, copying and pasting (a.k.a sloppy, first-draft outlining), study grouping, briefing, and freaking out, a brief comment on the most important, yet so more least useful, class of the first year of law school: Legal Research and Writing, LRW for short.

Legal research and legal writing are admittedly different than academic, journalistic, governmental, or goof-ball-ish research and writing, all of which I've done. That said, once you learn the distinguishing charactertistics of legal research and writing, they become one of the crowd. The unique characteristics are somewhat boring: an obsession with citation, in frequency and form; a dearth of creativity, in structure and style; and an unhealthy obsession with page limits.

Once I know the confines within which I'm writing, I'm usually set (*knock on wood* or tomorrow I'll get writer's block that sticks for the rest of the semester). Now, last week in LRW, we turned in our first assignment, a "closed" memo about something (I dare not divulge any more for fear of violating the somewhat sensible, somewhat Draconian and impractical honor code — more on that another time). It was more interesting than expected, given the topic, and it was a satisfying experience to bring the project to fruition. Not as satisfying as this post or even writing reports for Mayor Bloomberg in the Big Apple or articles for publication, but satisfying in the meaningless, pathetic, irrelevant way many aspects of the first year of law school are satisfying.

So, given that satisfaction (cue the Stones, cue civil procedure professor singing this hit in class, forever attaching it to the search for "satisfaction," or execution leading to payment, of a court judgment), you might imagine how disappointed (relieved?) I was when I opened my LRW text book (the only class for which we have a "text book" with largely meaningless reading) to read the following:
A fair number of lawyers and judges profess to like writing and even say that they find the process satisfying. If you are in this fortunate group, this chapter is not addressed to you. (p.555 The Legal Writing Handbook: Analysis, Research, and Writing, 4th Ed. Oates, Laurel Currie and Anne Enquist. Aspen: New York, 2006.)
I promptly put the book down and started writing this post, seeking satisfaction, as the Stones sing you to sleep.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

A Late Show List: Top 10 Things I Learned in My First Semester of Law School, Part 2

NEW ORLEANS, Oct. 8 — In reviewing my torts notes while preparing my torts outline (more on that painful process later), I found this gem from my German torts professor (no, not German Torts, just American ones, taught by a German), from 01-September-2006.

He referred (I would say refers, but I don't think he's said it again yet) to American football, the game for which tailgaters live, “the land acquisition game.” Go figure.

More on figuring when I get to his comment about the metric system, which I know is much closer to the present in my notes, so at the rate I'm going on this outline, it could be a little while, but I can guarantee it will be before my practice exam on Tuesday 17-October-2006.

Back to Civil Procedure. Let me know if you have questions on personal jurisdiction, because that's eesentially all I know about procedure so far. After this reading I should be able to tell you something about service of process. (Can I get a "I'll serve your process!" joke? Anyone?).

B.S. out.

A Late Show List: Top 10 Things I Learned in My First Semester of Law School, Part 1

NEW ORLEANS, Oct. 8 — A running list, with numbers to be assigned later. Here's the best one I've encountered so far, give or take:

Merely soliciting a woman to illicit sex is not an assault or any other tort because "there is no harm in asking." (p. 60, fn 1, "Prosser, Wade and Schwartz’s Torts: Cases and Materials," 11th Ed. Schwartz, Victor E. et al. New York: Foundation, 2005)

He can't be our congressman.

NEW ORLEANS, Oct. 8 — No, we're not talking about Rep. Mark Foley, but we are talking about a shocking Republican, if not as sick and twisted at Foley.

Rep. Randy Kuhl, the Republican who represents New York's 29th Congressional District, where my parents live and where I grew up and where I hope to live again one day, made some rather unpleasant comments about the effectiveness of the federal government's response during Hurricane Katrina. More on the significance of these remarks and my reaction to follow, but for now, just putting the transcript out here in the blogosphere to go along with the video.

Straight from the congressman's mouth: "And you can see, that when in fact this government needs to react, like it did in Katrina, with immediate appropriations to help out people who were dying"— crowd laughter interrupts Kuhl — "now you can laugh..." Kuhl trails off as video ends.

Permalinking past 0100

NEW ORLEANS, Oct. 8 — In an effort to get this Permalink tag working right, we're posting again when we should be getting to sleep. More outlining law school tomorrow. Blllechhhh, like my reaction to Screech's sex tape.

Big Signs goes live on the bayou.

NEW ORLEANS, Oct. 8 — Here we are, diving back into the blogosphere from the bayou after a significant hiatus, and migrating from Excess Flem here to Big Signs and from New York to New Orleans, the Big Apple to the Big Easy, the City That Never Sleeps to the City That Care Forgot (more on that in upcoming posts).

We're blogging as a law student now, rusty, having been out of the reporting game for (yikes) two years, one month, and a few days now. Nevertheless, our trusty AP Stylebook (2000 edition -- I blame that on law student budgetary constraints) remains close at hand, and Strunk & White have yet to give up on us, so we'll push forward, trying to offer some thoughts of life in the Crescent City, as compared to Gotham, and perhaps a tirade or two about their relative functions and dysfunctions, along with other musings.

While we're writing this as an escape from the rigors (note the effort to remain value-neutral) of law school, we're sure that some of y'all out there in the real world will be curious about the life of (or more appropriate, the lack thereof) a first-year law student in Flood Town, USA, so we'll throw a few bones your way too.

Also, please note that while we are in fact only a staff of one lonely reporter, that being me, we will continue to post in the first-person plural because it's a little more fun than singular, and all our other work is singular. Try 10 hours in the library a day singular. (Ick, yes, we know, 10 hours, get a life, but on occasion, gotta do it. And we treated ourselves to ice cream and SNL afterwards).

Also, a note on datelines used here at B.S. (note also that we're aware of how our initials may otherise be construed; after all, our personal first and middle names share the ones). While we're based in New Orleans now, life as a law student and 20-something is so fluid that we might be in New York next week or Nashville next month (especially until the end of hurricane season, at which point the semester will be almost over, so a move would be warranted anyway), so we'll use a dateline in every post, despite the AP Style convention to only use datelines when filing from the road, just to add another dash of context to the content. And to ground ourselves.

Over and under from NOLA,