January 27, 2008
Will Meat-Guzzlers Go the Way of Gas-Guzzlers?
Regular readers of this blog know that I wish that the environmental benefits of vegetarianism were better understood. To that end, another NYT article explores the topic. This article recaps a lot of social science I've blogged before, but I hadn't heard that "an estimated 30 percent of the earth’s ice-free land is directly or indirectly involved in livestock production."
The article touches on how livestock demand for soy and corn raises the price above the prices for these grains that lower-income countries can afford. We might dismiss the comparatively higher prices as the consequence of normal market forces, but given the upstream subsidies used to encourage meat manufacturing, it's a distorted marketplace effect with life-and-death consequences.
The article concludes with a prediction for the future: "meat may become a treat rather than a routine. It won’t be uncommon, but just as surely as the S.U.V. will yield to the hybrid, the half-pound-a-day meat era will end."
January 21, 2008
Pizza Plaza, Oakland--a Vegan Pizza Joint
I've mentioned before that I've found vegetarian restaurants in some pretty obscure locations, such as the five-star restaurant in Murphys and the raw restaurant in a Las Vegas mini-mall miles from the Strip. This weekend, using my typical technique of investigating vegetarian restaurant lists, we discovered another surprising find.
Pizza Plaza (6211 Shattuck Ave Oakland, CA) is an all-vegetarian pizza joint--and winner of a Best of Veg 2007 award in the vegan pizza category--in a most unlikely neighborhood in North Oakland. Perhaps its location isn't too unexpected as it's near the border of Berkeley, home to numerous excellent vegetarian options. However, like many parts of Oakland, this particular stretch of Shattuck is hardly confidence-inspiring. As we pulled up amidst the boarded-up shops and modest residential and commercial buildings, we looked at each other and wondered if this was a wise choice.
Our confidence didn't improve when we walked into the restaurant and saw 4 plastic tables, a large pizza counter, some wood beads "separating" the eating area from a storage area, and a leftover "Happy New Year" sign over the counter. Even worse, we were the only customers to be found on a Sunday afternoon at noon. What in the world had we gotten ourselves into?
My confidence turned around when our friend started chatting with the proprietors, a lovely couple from Sudan who fled the strife in Sudan looking for a better life. The husband is a microbiologist but when he arrived in the US, he started working in pizza joints to pay the bills. Eventually, as a vegetarian, he decided to start up a vegetarian pizza joint.
The menu offers a host of attractive options. They divide the menu into vegetarian and vegan, offering the most extensive list of vegan pizzas I can recall seeing. They offer other interesting items, including a vegan spaghetti with "meat" sauce and a vegan ceasar's salad with grilled vegan chicken. They even carry Maggie Mudd ice cream among other vegan desserts.
We ordered four "slices" of different vegan pizzas listed on the menu (each $6). Each "slice" was about 4x6 inches and cut diagonally into two. It was enough to satisfy most lunchtime appetites. The pizza crust was a sturdy whole wheat crust that I thought was tasty, the "cheese" was lightly sprinkled over each slice and pretty realistic, and the various mock meats were well integrated. However, the tomato sauce wasn't especially flavorful, and in the end I thought all four menu items tasted about the same. Taste-wise, I'd grade the pizzas as a "B"--competent but not spectacular.
If you're in Oakland and looking for something different, or if you're a vegan with a hankering for an old-fashioned pizza joint, definitely check this place out for a take-out lunch. (I would not go here after dark, and it's not well set up for eating in). As for us, I'd go back in the right situation; but if I'm coming from the Peninsula, chances are I'm going to drive a little further to some of our Berkeley favorites.
January 18, 2008
January 16, 2008
"I’m on a One-Woman Mission to Talk People out of Law School"
Kirsten Wolf, a 32-year-old graduate of BU Law, is out to warn people about law school. At WSJ Law Blog, she complains:
Lots of people go to law school as a default. They don’t know what else to do, like I did. It seems like a good idea. People say a law degree will always be worth something even if you don't practice. But they don’t consider what that debt is going to look like after law school. It affects my life in every way. And the jobs that you think are going to be there won’t necessarily be there at all. Most people I know that are practicing attorneys don’t make the kind of money they think lawyers make. They’re making $40,000 a year, not $160,000. Plus, you’re going to be struggling to do something you might not even enjoy. A few people have a calling to be a lawyer, but most don’t.
Now that she works as a businesswoman in the publishing industry, when asked if she got any value from her JD, she says yes but "is that worth paying student loans until five years before my social security kicks in?"
January 14, 2008
Teaching Contract Drafting
In February 2006, I spoke about teaching contract drafting at a symposium at Brooklyn Law School. Nearly 2 years later, I have finally posted the associated essay, entitled "Integrating Contract Drafting Skills and Doctrine." It's brief (6 pages) and breezy, but I hope you find it useful if you teach contract drafting or are looking to incorporate more transactional material into your doctrinal courses. The abstract:
This Essay is based on my remarks at the "Teaching Writing and Teaching Doctrine: A Symbiotic Relationship?" conference at Brooklyn Law School, February 2006. The Essay discusses the benefits and challenges of integrating the teaching of contract drafting skills and doctrine. The Essay then discusses some ways I have accomplished this integration.
January 13, 2008
Mark Hermann at the Drug & Device Law Blog celebrated his one year blogiversary with a retrospective on four lessons he learned about blogging:
1) "blogging — or, at a minimum, blogging about substantive legal issues — is hard." Eric's comment: personally, I find blogging is easy--much easier than writing a law review article. What's hard for me is finding the time to blog.
2) "blogging is personally satisfying."
3) "law firms, like law schools, are clueless about how to value blogs." Eric's comment: I certainly sympathize with this observation, but implicit in it is that there is a right method to value blogs and it's different from the valuation method we're using now. Personally, I haven't settled on a preferred valuation method, so it's hard to say we're getting it wrong right now.
4) "Blogging pays off." He follows up this observation with a specific example that rings true for me:
It pays off in part by being a self-fulfilling prophecy. Whether or not you know anything about drug and device products liability law, you appear to be an expert in that field as of the day you launch the "Drug and Device Law Blog." Impressed by your expertise, and hoping that you'll mention them online, complete strangers begin sending you e-mails containing unpublished decisions, creative ideas and endless other tidbits relating to drug and device law. Eventually, your blog becomes a clearinghouse for information about the subject it covers. By staking a claim to some online turf, you gradually come to dominate that turf and to become an insider on events in that field.
January 10, 2008
Million Dollar Minute
Represented by Morrison & Foerster, Toshiba won a commercial dispute with New England Technology. Per the contract, the judge awarded attorneys' fees to Toshiba. As usual, the court gave a 10 day period for Toshiba to file a motion detailing its exact fees. The fees were about $1M. The day the motion was due, a courier left Morrison & Foerster's Orange County office with the motion at 3:30 but hit some unexpectedly ugly OC traffic, causing the courier to arrive at 4:01--1 minute after the office closed. It turns out to be a very costly minute (even vastly exceeding the inflated per-hour fees charged by the big firms). The judge declared the motion too late and, as a result, has refused to award any attorneys' fees. Toshiba is SOL.
For an amusingly different view on late filings, see this classic memo.
On my exams, I tell students that I do not accept late finals--there is no grace period, not even one minute, in which case a late paper results in an F for the course. (I also tell them "NO EXCUSES" so that they don't waste their creativity trying to come up with a brilliant excuse I simply can't refuse). I don't normally like taking such a hard line, but situations like Toshiba's comfort me that there can be draconian consequences for lawyers who are late, and my rules are fair training for that. If you think getting an F in a course is bad, imagine how bummed MoFo feels about being out $1M (which, undoubtedly, they will bear instead of Toshiba).
UPDATE: Howard Bashman weighs in on the matter.
UPDATE 2: WSJ Law Blog has the order.
January 08, 2008
Santa Clara Law School Blogs
The law library has prepared this helpful list of blogs with a Santa Clara Law School affiliation.
January 07, 2008
Blogging Will Kill You
The NYT speculates that perhaps the stress of blogging contributed to Om Malik's heart attack at age 41. (BTW, the article also does mention smoking, drinking, fatty foods and coffee). Yet another way that blogging is a major peril to society.