Monthly Archives: May 2007

Yellow Ledbetter Exposed

For those Xers who have lived all these long years without being able to understand one of the more popular songs of our time, relief has come. We now know what Eddie was singing. Listen and enjoy.

yojoe

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$125 free money!!! Attorney fired??? Zounds!!! A BAR/BRI Class Action update.

I took the Bar/Bri Bar Review course, as do far too many attorneys-to-be. Simply put, it costs far too much for what amounts to mere force-fed rote memorization of masses of answers to multiple choice questions.

As you likely know, there’s a settlement out there negotiated between the firm representing the class, McGuireWoods, and BAR/BRI. The settlement (not yet finalized) requires West Publishing to pay $36 million, and Kaplan to pay $13 million. That amounts to an average of $125.00 for each of the approximately 300,000 law students that took a BAR/BRI course between 1997 and 2006.

If you haven’t submitted a claim and want to get in on the action, you must postmark your claim no later than September 17th, 2007. The class action page and claim form links are here.

McGuireWoods partner Eliot Disner, however, along with three of the seven lead plaintiffs, have objected to this settlement, claiming it far undervalues the class’ actual damages, which Mr. Disner estimates at more than $400 million. Although Mr. Disner drafted the brief, he did not file it–it was filed by the three objecting plaintiffs, Loredana Nesci, Lisa Gintz, and Ryan Rodriguez. Turns out that Mr. Disner et al don’t think the $125 is so free after all. At ten times the damages, this theoretically would mean we’d each be entitled to, approximately, $1,000. Much more attractive figure, that.

May 24th, the Wall Street Journal reported, and Mr. Disner confirmed, that he has been fired by McGuireWoods for objecting to the settlement. Law.com reports that McGuireWoods partner William Alcott responded to the Disner-drafted brief: “Eliot’s brief does not represent the position of McGuireWoods as lead class counsel,” and that “[McGuireWoods] will be addressing the substance” of the brief in a later filing.

For those of you that agree with Disner, et al, and think the objectors have any chance of success, you may get word in advance of your September 17 deadline. While the $49 million settlement has been preliminarily approved by the judge, another hearing is scheduled for June 18th to finalize the settlement.

And a little postscript. Who is this colorful Loredana Nesci character that’s popping up in the media in pictures with Disner? Why is she suddenly the objectors’ poster-girl? From the odd MySpace page, to her bodybuilding stats, to her extra-schmaltzy law firm website (check out the bio, which details her participation in police shootouts (as a policewoman) and her providing nutrition counseling to insecure fellow law students), she almost seems like an attractive female Mike Hammer (yes, right down to the schmaltz). At best, this seems like an unorthodox choice of a poster-girl. Her wit and wisdom about the settlement is that it “pretty much sucks.” Needless to say, I agree: I’ll take the $1,000 over the $125 anyday.

Loredana: I sincerely hope you and Disner can squeeze a little more out of those publication and Bar Review powerhouses for us starving attorneys. Disner: hope you get your job back. If all else fails, Loredana’s web site says that her passion as an attorney is defending the blameless. (And we all know you’re doing this solely because it’s a righteous cause… you’re doing it for us.)

Lime out

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Avandia, Incompetent Lawyers, and the New Science: Medicine (and the Law?) makes strides thanks to Google

Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal reported on the alarming news about the diabetes drug Avandia, which places users at a 43% increased risk of suffering a heart attack. I have a close relative on the drug, so it’s of immediate concern to me. More about the Avandia news here.

Dr. Steven Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic, the WSJ article reports, started investigating Avandia’s risks in 2006, based on “hints” of trouble he found in prior studies of the drug. However, the article states, he “hit pay dirt with a Google search that pointed him to a trove of study data.” Dr. Nissen then pushed this study data “in just a few weeks” into the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine’s article, to be released in the June 14, 2007 issue. Nissen’s Google search, which turned up an online database of drugmaker Glaxo’s study results, including the heart attack data, was the catalyst for Nissen’s viewing the “hints” as much more serious indicia of Avandia’s dangers, and for the push to quick publication.

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Brief blogging hiatus: 360 Elite Review forecast

Just a quick note: I’ve been out finishing teaching my law school class, hearing the students’ presentations, and family vacationing. The 360 Elite review is in preparation and y’all can expect it post-haste.

Lime

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The Dark Knight: A Not-so-Funny Joker

The Joker in the new film The Dark Knight is not the fun-loving comical version portrayed by Jack Nicholson. Just from his looks, one can tell that this will be a very different character. The Joker will be played by Heath Ledger.

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The Joker, in all his glory (aka, Heath Ledger)

Also making an appearance in this film is Harvey Dent, played by Aaron Eckhart. He even has his campaign website up and running. We only hope that Two-Face, the super-villain alter ego of Dent, is a little more civil during his political debates and avoids dropping F-Bombs, in the style of our fine senator from Arizona. The Joker has his own website that has been on and off-line as of late. Currently, the site shows “Page not found” and a number of letters H and A. To find a hidden message copy all of the text from the Joker’s site to a word document and delete all of the letters H and A. (It would be too easy to just tell you what the message is).

Yojoe

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May 07 Xbox 360 Dashboard Update Confirmed: 0200 PST on Wednesday, 9 May

After a long and baited breath, the goods: Xbox Live’s Major Nelson has confirmed that the Dashboard update rolls out 0200 PST on Wednesday, 9 May.  That’s tomorrow.  Crackberry-like constant access with the family, friends, and non-gaming world is finally here.  (Egads!)

The Xbox Press Release is here.

My previous post re the update is here.

HL

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Psychoanalyizing Personal Space in Virtual Worlds

Fascinating video over at NPR’s Bryant Park Project. Apparently the rules of personal space apply equally in virtual worlds like Second Life. First we have motions toward taxing “virtual property” in virtual worlds, and now we have psychologists devoting at least some of their (very likely taxpayer funded) time to studying the dynamics of social “virtual” interaction.

Great vid, take a look here.

Lime (at least 3 feet) out.

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Looking for the Sheet Music for Windows Vista?

A cocked eyebrow and incredulous expression would be the appropriate response to that question, and before you can say “ludicrous queriosity, Batman!,” here’s the goods:

April 24th, 2007, Microsoft in Australia filed a trademark application for the above Windows Vista startup tune (same as the U.S tune we all have little choice but to tolerate, know and love, and couldn’t care less about).  The ground-breaking tune took 18 months and a team of 20 composers, sound designers, engineers, and developers to brainstorm into its present lean, toned chord progression.

If the law truly doesn’t bother with/tolerate trifles, then I’ll have to change my tune, sing a new song, or otherwise pitch a new tent before the trifle-enforcers start getting pitchy about this post.

Lime out.

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Global warming = super-allergies? U.S.Dept of Ag thinks so.

Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal reports on scientific studies suggesting strongly that the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere results in hardier, larger, and more potent allergens from allergy-inducing vegetation. For the 35 million people in the U.S. that suffer nasal allergies, none of this is good news.

http://www.cees.iupui.edu/Research/Restoration/ARBOR/Images/Flora_Fauna/2002-07-24_giant-ragweed.JPG

Giant Ragweed

Dr. Lewis Ziska of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, interviewed for the article, has conducted studies that have revealed that most likely due to the warmer temperatures and 20% higher concentration of carbon dioxide in urban areas, the same pollen-producing plants produce five times the pollen of otherwise identical plants grown in rural areas. Dr. Ziska’s studies under controlled circumstances bore these more general studies out: cultivating ragweed under varying controlled amounts of carbon dioxide concentrations produced increasingly larger and more prolific pollen as the carbon dioxide concentration was increased. His field studies found that urban ragweed plants in Baltimore produced humongous ragweed plants, 190% larger than the rural ragweed plants 40 miles outside the city, and the pollen production followed size closely.

Among the changes occurring:

  • Peak season for allergens from vegetation has been arriving 10-15 days earlier over the past 30 years, a trend expected to continue. (source: August ’07 report from the International Panel on Climate Change)
    • Pollen season in Europe for birch, a major hay fever producer, has arrived 5 days earlier per decade over the past 30 years
  • Ragweed, which was next to completely absent in Europe 10 years ago, is now prevalent in Hungary, France, Italy, the Netherlands, and Scandinavia.
  • In 2004, asthma affected more than 6% of the U.S. population, compared to 3% in 1980 (source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta (CDC))
  • Childhood asthma jumped to 9% of children in 2005, versus 3.6% in 1980 (source: CDC)
    • Inner city youth asthma linked to higher city/urban carbon dioxide concentrations which produce increased plant pollen, fungal growth, and opportunistic weeds (source: 2004 Harvard Medical School Study)
    • Pre-school asthma rates grew 160% between 1980 and 1994, more than double the general U.S. population’s asthma rate of increase (source: Ibid.)

What’s bad news for allergy sufferers is bad news for me.

But count me on a team with growing ranks. Anecdotal evidence of the increased potency these allergens carry I’ve found during the past two weeks: pollen counts have been in the thousands, extraordinarily high, and I have both one relative and one co-worker who, now in their thirties and never having suffered nasal allergies before, have been “taken down” by the recent pollen onslaught, and definitively so: fearing illness both visited the doctor, and both were told, to their amazement, “it’s allergies. Deal.”

So misery loves company, but let’s hope we all have the wherewithal to do something about it.

Lime

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Yojoe’s Book Review: World War Z

The book is World War Z. The story is about how the human race almost came to meet its demise.


If Tom Clancy were to do a book about zombies, it would be much like this. This book, however, was penned by the son of Mel Brooks, the man behind Spaceballs–and the heritage is sometimes apparent.


The book is set in the near future and is written by a man who had spent a great deal of time interviewing various people about their experiences during the ten years of World War Z, during which the world is almost overrun by zombies.
The book is written as a first-person narrative, with the author retelling stories he collected from various characters from around the world. There is enough in the book for fans of horror, but the zombies are more of a vehicle for the author to tell a compelling story of geopolitics, military tactics, and human emotion.

A great deal of the book is dedicated to the reactions of various nations, inter alia, the United States, China, Russia, Israel, South Africa, Cuba, Pakistan, and India. The undead infection originates in China, which results in a mass exodus of refugees and hordes of undead streaming across Asia. Russia is forced to decimate its own military forces to restore order. (Note: this is the correct use of decimate, i.e., the killing of every tenth person as used by the Romans to quell mutinous legions). Israel quarantines itself and becomes a place for refugees. South Africa comes up with a plan to combat the zombies, which is similar to the plan devised to protect whites during apartheid. The United States battles the zombies at the Rocky Mountains. These are some of the best battle sequences.

The author makes a number of social commentaries. Criticizing the fixed thinking of the military, and their planning that concentrates almost exclusively on defense of the Fulda Gap, territory separating East and West Germany thought to be the primary battleground of the Cold War. In the book POTUS is clearly modeled on General Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret.) and the VP is Dr. Howard B. Dean III, though neither is identified by name. The use of fear by the media plays an extensive role in the book.

Overall this is an entertaining and exciting read. Zombies, killing, world war, a sensationalist media: who could ask for anything more?

yojoe

 

Harry’s PS: Thanks yojoe. Great commentary — we need to introduce you formally to the audience in the near future.

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Xbox 360 Elite Review forthcoming…

 

 

 

xbox360elite3.jpg

 

Work has prevented a more timely post, but this past Sunday, the 29th, I did in fact cave to my more frivolous urges, stand in line at about 10:00 AM, in order to purchase one of these babies at 11:00 AM at the local Gamestop. Review forthcoming. I realize there’s much brouhaha about HDMI, tranfer cables, and the like, and my 2 cents are forthcoming on all of that, as well as whether the 360 Elite is in fact a worthwhile upgrade for existing 360 owners, and how it ranks in the 360 family for new purchasers.

I’ll leave the PS3 comparison for others (at this point, or until Sony elects to fulfill #1 for me), (1) because I don’t have a PS3 to compare it to, and (2) because flamers like Aibric may waste precious Internet bandwidth with ad hominems should I conclude I still think the Xbox 360 is a better buy than the PS3.

 

Lime

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GYM GYM WEIGHTSOLUTION! (Break it down!)

When I lived in Japan, one of the thrills of the weekend (cheap thrills, to be sure) was to go to the local Japanese video arcade and see the throngs of Japanese teens dancing “Padda Padda,” as I recall the game was called, or as we call it here, “Dance Dance Revolution.” Since then, the craze has crossed the Pacific and invaded American shores.

A 5-year-old Padda Padda star (“Sugoi!” (“Cool!”))

 

As this New York Times article makes clear, the J-pop / Japanese cultural invasion continues. (And I love that it does.) Children in Morgantown, West Virginia are now shakin’ their booties to the pulsating beats of J-pop in middle school gym classes, with the full endorsement of the school administration and staff.

Apparently West Virginia, which has one of the highest childhood obsesity rates in the US, looked for an innovative solution to the ill health of its young’uns and found one that works, gratis Land of the Rising Sun. West Virginia has 185 middle schools currently using Dance Dance Revolution, and will have the game installed in all 765 of its public schools by 2008. Hawaii and California are other states heavily pushing the game as a solution for childhood obesity.

The Times cites a Mayo Clinic study from 2006 that found that “children playing Dance Dance Revolution expended significantly more energy than children watching television and playing traditional video games.” After installing the games and dancemats in hundreds of schools across 10 states, the Times reports, word on the street is that the solution is working. The plan is to have the physically demanding videogames installed in 1500 schools by 2010.

I love video games, and I’m concerned greatly about US childhood obesity — is this the holy grail? We’re going to have to see some more studies, but it might be. My main concern is that the game might be a little like energetic line-dancing, but it’s not a team sport — it’s competing against the computer, and it’s not a contact sport. This might be good, as many are saying, as a stepping stone towards interest in physical fitness, but it’s just that. As a stepping stone, though, why not? Sounds good to me. I might buy a copy for those special little kids in my life and show’em just how good a dancer HL is.

Links to reviews and purchasing links: Xbox 360 and PS2.

Lime

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SCOTUS turns down Hamdan and Khadr Cert petitions

[UPDATE: 29 June 07, SCOTUS reconsidered and reversed itself, granting cert in the Hamdan case. Story HERE.]

Have been busy at work and unable to post, but the news keeps coming.

If you haven’t seen, SCOTUS this past Monday turned down both the Hamdan and Khadr certiorari petitions (Hamdan v. Gates/Khadr v. Bush (06-1169)). The two-sentence denial simply states that Justices Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer would have granted the petition. Four votes are necessary to grant cert.

It is possible that after appeal to the D.C. Circuit Court, the cases might return to SCOTUS and retry a petition for cert. Because the justices gave no reason (which is typical) for their denial, we don’t know why the petition was denied. Certiorari is granted on an entirely discretionary basis, so the Court might simply have not felt like granting cert — they may also be waiting for a split in circuits before they take the case up. Currently the D.C. Circuit holds that the Guantanamo detainees have no Constitutional rights. If another circuit holds differently, the case would be more compelling to grant cert.

Notably, the D.C. Circuit’s holding is only persuasive as to other jurisdictions. Thus it’s not the “law of the land,” nor is SCOTUS’ entirely discretionary denial of cert significant as to whether they think the D.C. Circuit’s holding is good law. They may just not find the issue “ripe for review,” as we lawyers say.

Lime

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Filed under Afghanistan, Appellate Law, International, Law, Politics, Supreme Court

Joan Ba-who?

On 28 April 2007, John Mellencamp performed for recovering servicemembers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Allegedly missing from the show was Joan Baez, who clams she was disinvited by Army officials. Without addressing the politics of having an avowed anti-war activist and member of a delegation that visitied Hanoi in 1972, perform at a military hospital, there remains a critical question. Were any of these servicemembers clamoring for Joan Baez? What song of hers would anyone from GenX or Y even know? One can imagine the injured soldiers and Marines saying no to Fergie, Avril Lavigne, Pink, Akon, and Fall Out Boy, and chanting, “we want Joan what’s-her-name!” (Not!)


Just a thought – yojoe

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