October 31, 2009
Halloween Spinning Mix
Lisa has a spinning mix for Halloween, consisting of:
Bela Lugosi's Dead - Bauhaus (terrific song)
Monster Mash - Boris Pickett (corny but essential)
Werewolves of London - Warren Zevon
The Devil Went Down to Georgia - Charlie Daniels
Thriller - Michael Jackson
Dead Man's Party - Oingo Boingo (another great song; I'm surprised at how rarely this song makes Halloween mix lists given how topical it is)
The Exorcist (Theme from Tubular Bells)
Somebody's Watching Me - Rockwell
I Want Candy - Bow Wow Wow (this is Lisa being silly)
Overture from Phantom of the Opera
Black Magic Woman - Santana
Requiem: Dies Irae - Mozart (another great Halloween song that doesn't make the mix lists often enough)
Great Balls of Fire - Jerry Lee Lewis
Superstition - Stevie Wonder
I Put A Spell On You - Creedence Clearwater Revival
In some of her spinning classes, she gives out halloween candy as prizes to people who can guess some of the obscure artists represented in this list. Hope you have a happy and safe halloween!
July 12, 2009
Michael Jackson Spinning Mix
Following Michael Jackson's death, Lisa decided that it would be nice to put together a spinning mix commemorating his music. This is what we came up with:
1. Rock With You
2. Blame It On the Boogie
3. Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)
4. Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'
5. P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)
6. Man In the Mirror
7. When I Think of You (an interlude from Michael's sister Janet)
8. Black or White
9. Fat (this is "Weird Al" Yankovic's spoof of "Bad")
11. Somebody's Watching Me (from Michael's childhood friend Rockwell; Michael sings prominently in the chorus)
12. I Want You Back
13. Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough
15. Human Nature
16. Never Can Say Goodbye (of course we have to say goodbye to the singer, but we never can say goodbye to the songs)
March 28, 2009
One Hit Wonders Spinning Mix
For April Fool's Day, Lisa thought it would be fun to do a one-hit wonders spinning mix. I must say, it was fun to put together. Obviously, the heavy emphasis on 80s music was unavoidable. The mix:
1. Turning Japanese -- The Vapors. I was amazed that Lisa had never heard what this was rumored to be about.
2. Take On Me -- a-ha. The video really takes me back to MTV's halcyon days. And the hair!!!
3. Tainted Love -- Soft Cell
4. I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) --The Proclaimers
5. Barbie Girl -- Aqua. I actually play this song in my IP course every year, if for no other reason than to delight in getting that song into students' heads for the rest of the day.
6. Tubthumping -- Chumbawamba
7. Rock and Roll (Part 2) -- Gary Glitter
8. Hot Hot Hot -- Buster Poindexter
9. Jump Around -- House of Pain
10. 99 Luftballons -- Nena
11. Who Let the Dogs Out -- Baha Men
12. Unbelievable -- EMF
13. Rock Me Amadeus -- Falco
14. Safety Dance -- Men Without Hats
15. Bust a Move -- Young MC
16. Lean On Me -- Clulb Nouveau
17. Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye -- Steam
Of course, the description "One Hit Wonder" raises some difficult classification issues. For example, several of the groups had subsequent top 40 hits that no one remembers any more. And a number of the groups had big careers internationally, such as a-ha, Aqua and Gary Glitter. Oh well. The music is so good, I trust no one will mind.
See also Lisa's Thanksgiving Spinning Mix.
November 10, 2008
Lisa's Thanksgiving Spinning Mix
With suggestions in response to my call for help on Twitter/Facebook and some expert input from an unnamed but very knowledgeable and loving supporter, Lisa put together a spinning mix for Thanksgiving. The mix:
1 - Linus & Lucy, Vince Guaraldi Trio
2 - Homeward Bound [Live], Simon & Garfunkel
3 - We Are Family, Sister Sledge
4 - Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie, Jay & the Techniques [just try to get this song out of your head!]
5 - (Do The) Mashed Potatoes, the Undertakers' cover version of a James Brown song
6 - Gravy (For My Mashed Potatoes), Dee Dee Sharp
7 - Feelin' Satisfied, Boston
8 - Holiday, Madonna
9 - Cold Turkey, John Lennon [this is a song about heroin withdrawal, but it works just about as well as a cautionary tale for eating undercooked turkey]
10 - Heavy Action (Theme from Monday Night Football)
11 - Everybody Eats When They Come to My House, Cab Calloway
12 - Fat Bottomed Girls, Queen
13 - Thank You, John Mellencamp
14 - Fast Hopi Drums
15 - Thank You, Alanis Morissette
16 - Turkey In The Straw (symphonic version)
17 - Our House, Crosby Stills Nash & Young
18 - Amazing Grace, Elvis Presley version [there are a lot of versions of this song, but can you really do better than The King?]
19 - Thanksgiving, George Winston
I know it's a little early, but Happy Thanksgiving!
May 24, 2008
Free Classical Music Bonanza--Musopen
Last night I watched the movie The Seven Year Itch for the first time. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, but now I can't stop replaying Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto #2 in my head (the first few notes are played repeatedly in the movie). I own a recording of this concerto on cassette tape, but I haven't listened to that in a couple of decades, and I never replaced the cassette with a CD. So today I was on a mission to chase down the concerto in digital form so that I can enjoy it again until I get sick of it, which will finally get the music out of my head.
I found the options at iTunes too complex, especially because there are multiple versions and many of them are available only in album form at a bundled price above my reservation price. In pursuit of better options, I stumbled across a site I'd never heard of called Musopen. They describe themselves as follows:
Musopen is an online music library of copyright free music (public domain music). We want to give the world access to music, without the legal hassles so common today. There is a great deal of music that has expired copyrights, but almost no recordings of this music is in the public domain. We aim to record or obtain recordings that have no copyrights so that our visitors may listen, re-use, or in any way enjoy music. Put simply, our mission is to set music free.
Their database is building, so they don't have a plethora of offerings. Further, I suspect purists would find the available renditions intolerably inferior to other commercially available offerings. For example, I noticed that a fair amount of the offerings were recorded by the Skidmore College Orchestra (which isn't an accident because the site was founded by some folks affiliated with Skidmore). Nothing against this group, but even my untrained ears can identify some amateur aspects of their performances.
On the other hand, the price is right, and I'm still enjoying the music. Indeed, having stumbled upon this terrific website, I've now spent most of the day in downloading mania. My wireless modem is smoking, and I'm worried my broadband provider is going to cut me off for excessive bandwidth usage!
So go check it out yourself. While you're there, make sure to get Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto #2, as offered by Musopen, without any copyright restrictions. Yay!
If you missed it, my other online music obsession is Pandora.
December 06, 2007
Maybe It's an Emerging Chanukah Tradition?
Sounds like this marketing person didn't understand the target audience very well--you're not likely to stimulate new sales by advertising ham as "delicious for Chanukah."
June 27, 2007
The Ten Commandments
My wife asked me to list the Ten Commandments, and I choked. I got 7 (or 6, depending on interpretation) right, but that's not very good. I felt a little better when I checked the Wikipedia entry and saw the many different interpretations. So I'm not the only one confused. But still, as my wife said, "God made it simple for us and boiled it down to just 10 rules--and we can't even remember those!"
December 12, 2006
Free International Calls
I lived through the dot com era, so I've seen companies do a lot of ridiculous things to win customers. (My favorite dot com freebie was iResearch.com, which paid me $200 to write 20 stock tips of 25 words each). Despite my jaundiced view, this scheme blew me away. Call a phone number in Iowa, enter an international long distance number, and you're talking internationally at no additional expense beyond the cost of calling Iowa. At home, we have national long distance for a flat monthly fee, so I was able to make a completely free phone call to Israel. This is the craziest thing I've seen in a long time. There may not be such a thing as a free lunch, but I've also learned that if someone's spending money like a drunken sailor, take it.
Sound quality is fine. There's not supposed to be any hidden catches (I haven't seen my phone bill yet, but this was written up in the New York Times). YMMV. Check out FuturePhone.com.
July 08, 2006
With our big move, we've been involved with more than our fair share of commerce recently. As a result, we've run into the inevitable but dreaded rebates. Rebates are very unpopular with consumers, and for good reason. They are a hassle, they cost postage and time, there's a risk that the rebates will be lost or denied, they are hard to keep track of, and it's virtually impossible to pursue a rebate that doesn't show up. And sales taxes are computed on the higher pre-rebate sales price. Finally, from a social welfare perspective, the transaction costs associated with rebates seem awfully wasteful.
Now, I'm a laissez-faire guy, so I'm not going to complain about rebates generally. I don't like them and prefer not to deal with them, but I don't generally object to their existence. But this weekend, I ran into a rebate that crossed my line.
We subscribed to AT&T's DSL service and, in connection with that, got 2 different rebates: (1) a rebate on the modem's purchase price, and (2) a $50 gift card. Instructions on the modem rebate came with the DSL kit, and I dutifully sent it in. Annoying, but not noxious.
In contrast, the $50 gift card wasn't mentioned in the DSL box. Instead, a couple of weeks later AT&T sent me a notice saying that I could return the attached coupon for my $50 gift card.
Huh? The coupon merely asked me to restate information that AT&T already knew--name, address, phone number. Why did AT&T mail me a coupon asking me to self-report what it already knew, when it could have cut out the extra 2 steps (letter to me, return letter from me) and just sent the gift card?
Clearly, AT&T was playing the arbitrage game. If it had just sent the gift card, there would be a 100% redemption rate on the rebate. But, by sending out the letter and asking for our response, there was going to be less than 100% redemption--some percentage of its letters would be lost, some percentage of consumers wouldn't respond, and some percentage of responses would be lost. Presumably, AT&T believed that the overall amount of losses justified doing the separate mailing of the gift card announcement (compared to putting the notice in the box or just sending the gift card). Not only is this sleazy in my book, but what a huge waste of society's time and resources.
The bad news is that we're locked into a 12 month contract with AT&T. The good news is that Google/Earthlink are wiring Mountain View for free wireless Internet access. The best news is that a streetlight right in front of our house has one of Google/Earthlink's transmitters. Yay!
UPDATE: Mike Langberg discusses the move away from rebates and cites a prediction that mail-in rebates will be gone in 2-3 years.
June 27, 2006
On California Soil
We arrived in California last week. It felt like I was returning to my ancestral homeland--which is ironic because I was actually born in Wisconsin (a little-known fact). My new contact information:
Santa Clara University School of Law
500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053
(408) 551-3000 x6135
firstname.lastname@example.org (still waiting for my SCU address)
I'll send out an email with my complete contact information soon.
May 02, 2006
On Sunday I sent out a mass email to 300+ of my closest friends letting them know that I was switching jobs. The resulting email frenzy was predictable. I got lots of emails from friends and colleagues back, and this sparked dozens of exchanges. The damage: I sent about 130 emails yesterday between 10 and 7 pm--including an overwhelming 43 outgoing emails between 5 and 6 pm (or, about one outgoing email every 75 seconds). It was great reconnecting with so many people, but it's also exhausting!
March 31, 2006
The cellphone continues to morph into a very smart multi-purpose device. A cellphone can now be a camera, an Internet access device, a GPS device and an electronic wallet. Many of us are excited by the possibilities.
But not everyone. The cellphone's expanded functions have raised the concerns of ultra-Orthodox Jews. One Israeli magazine called "the multitasking new phones 'a candy store for the evil impulse.'"
The solution? "Find a cell phone that's only a phone." Various rabbis, lawyers and Orthodox community leaders have joined forces to offer a stripped-down cellphone just makes phone calls without all the fancy bells and whistles. Further, the phone is restricted by a constantly updated block list containing dial-a-porn providers and other phone content providers inconsistent with Orthodox tenets.
One feature the manufacturers might consider adding: an automatic timer to turn off the phone (and block incoming calls) during Shabbat.
September 19, 2005
The Wall Street Journal Declares Us a 24/6 Economy
It's always interesting to see reactions when a cherished institution changes its business practices (recall the furor over Coke changing its recipe). Today's example: the Wall Street Journal is now publishing a Saturday edition. Perhaps this is the most reliable bellwether yet that our economy is inevitably becoming 24/7: The Daily Diary of the American Dream has finally declared that Saturday is enough of a business day that the paper should publish. However, the WSJ isn't fully ready to concede that Saturday is a workday; they sent their Saturday edition to people's homes, not their office.
One other interesting aspect of the NYT coverage: the story leads off with bloggers' critiques of the WSJ move. My, how times have changed!
August 22, 2005
Taxes, Attention Consumption and Competition
The short story is that Intuit, makers of TurboTax, doesn't want the IRS to release tax-assistance software to its citizens--which presumably would cut into Intuit's franchise of helping people cope with paying their taxes. As Declan quotes Intuit's CEO, "Government should not compete with its citizens."
Wow, is this screwed-up?! Let's see if I can sort through the problems here.
Let's start with the fact that our government imposes 2 types of taxes on us. The government taxes our earnings, naturally, but the government imposes a second, less obvious tax: the consumption of our attention to prepare our reports on our income. We spend a lot of time hand-wringing about the first tax, but in some ways I'm more upset about the second tax.
Time spent on preparing tax returns is among my bottom-five least favorite activities in life. I simply don't derive any positive utility from the process. To me, it's just time spent in my life that I would desperately like to allocate in other ways. I know some people have fun figuring out ways to beat the tax man, but I'm not one of those people. I just want a fair deal with zero time investment.
Unfortunately, given our convoluted tax system, to get anywhere close to a fair deal requires significant time. In past years, it has taken me 20+ hours to sort and prepare my materials for a tax preparer. (Lisa handles the bulk of the preparatory effort now, but it still requires 5-10 hours of my time each year). If you think about it, if I spend 20 hours on taxes for a 2,000 hour work-year, the government is taxing 1% of my time to report on my earnings. (Yes, I know that I work more than 2,000 hours/year, but the point remains the same).
Furthermore, there are some tax issues that I cannot resolve regardless of the amount of time I spend. For example, I tried to do a rough calculation of our tax obligations when we were filing returns in both CA and WI, and it was simply beyond my skill set. There was no way for me to reconcile the returns without the help of a software program or a tax expert. I just couldn't figure it out.
For people (like me) who can't or won't pay the attention consumption tax with our own time, we can outsource some of this responsibility to software or a service provider. Intuit's TurboTax is one such outsource solution. I have nothing against TurboTax, but for us, TurboTax isn't the answer. Our tax situation isn't ungodly complex, but it's typically complex enough that I wouldn't trust a software program.
Instead, we outsource our tax preparation to a CPA. Thus, I pay the annual attention consumption tax with a combination of my time (and Lisa's time) and a few hundred bucks to a service provider. So, if the government came up with a way to reduce the attention consumption tax it imposes on me, through software or otherwise, I would be thrilled. From my perspective, this would be a tax reduction, just like if the government gave me a $300 credit for having another baby.
Instead, Intuit thinks this is unfair competition between the government and its citizens. THIS IS WRONG. Intuit has found a business niche helping people reduce the government-created attention-consumption tax. They are taking advantage of the government screw-ups in its tax policy. The solution isn't to preserve Intuit's business niche; the solution is to fix the government screw-ups.
Providing help to its citizens isn't the government unfairly competing with private industry. And if the government fixing its mess means that some arbitrage-y business niches shut down, oh well--Intuit had a good ride. Shame on Intuit for draping its venal self-interest in the flag of advancing citizen's interests.
Meanwhile, we all know that the tax code is a disaster. It has been junked up by a combination of special-interest favoritism and economist-advocated tax credits as a way to encourage socially-desirable behavior. (It always strikes me as weird to see economists favor taxes as a social policy, but they do). The combination has resulted in a hairball that generates extraordinarily high transaction costs.
I would strongly favor a system that reduced transaction costs and the attention consumption tax....like a flat tax. Just take X% of my income, and make it progressive so that higher incomes pay a higher percentage. I know flat taxes aren't perfect, but the reduction in transaction costs has to be better than our current system. Each and every year when I'm spending those low-utility hours on taxes, I beg and plead--please, just impose a flat tax, take my money, and leave me alone already!
July 29, 2005
The Law Firm TV Show--Some Observations From the First Show
I watched the new "reality" TV show from David E. Kelly last night, The "Law Firm." It was a mildly diverting hour but it lacked the drama and production values of a Burnett show. I'm still not sure if I'm investing in the show for the whole series.
Nevertheless, the show prompted a number of observations and questions:
* The show's name is absolutely horrible. "The Law Firm"? Nothing creative or distinctive about that name. Trying Googling to find more information on the show! (Not in the top 10 results for "law firm"...surprise!)
* The testosterone/alpha male attitude/ego trips of the contestants was difficult to watch. It's worse than the Apprentice, and I'm sure it will only get worse. I understand that a good trial lawyer needs self-confidence, but watching too much of that gets tedious.
* I'm still trying to get my head around the Rules of Professional Conduct implications of the show. I'm going to take the show at face value that the clients/disputes are real and the judgments are real. If so, then we have attorney/client relationships between the contestants and the disputants, and all of the applicable rules apply.
Most obviously, do the contestants need to be licensed in CA to represent clients in CA adjudications? A quick perusal of bios suggests that many of the contestants are probably not licensed in CA. Isn't this Birbrower redux? Following Birbrower, California adopted procedures to allow out-of-state lawyers to practice arbitration proceedings, but it's not clear to me if the show meets the applicable qualifications.
More generally, presumably the lawyers have to comply with rules like written consent to third party payment of fees, waivers of confidentiality, etc. There should be a blizzard of paperwork to set this up properly. Maybe the TV show would be more interesting if it depicted this! (Right...only to nerdy law professors...)
* There seemed to be two contestants who clearly struggled with their roles more than the others--Kelly (who was dismissed) and Regina (who couldn't control her witness and hurt her case accordingly, but she was not dismissed). I'm wondering if the producers decided that they just couldn't bring themselves to dismiss two women (both of color? I couldn't tell with Regina) on the first episode to avoid charges of discrimination.
* Roy Black is approaching the show as a plaintiff's lawyer (which is a little surprising given his background). He made that eminently clear in the debriefing when he lambasted a winning team for not seeking punitive damages. Note to contestants: to impress Roy, think like a plaintiff's lawyer!
* On that front, there was an interesting schism between a judge and Roy Black. The case involved a three-legged dog, and the plaintiff's team brought the dog into the courtroom unannounced. The judge criticized the team, saying that in a real trial he would have declared a mistrial and sanctioned the team for the stunt. Roy, on the other hand, tore into the defense team for not having anticipated that the dog would show up in the courtroom. Ethical qualm? Not in Roy Black's world! Like any good plaintiff's lawyer, he wants the team to push the ethical limits, and sympathy-inducing stunts appear to be both fair game and perhaps required.
So who's right? The judge who says the dog appearance is sanctionable, or Roy who treats it as de rigeur? I'm no evidence expert, so I can't speak about what the rules require here. However, it seems to me that the dog belonged on the exhibit list, and the plaintiff team's omission is at minimum ethically challenged if not an outright violation of the rules.
* The show appears to emphasize only courtroom skills. The show briefly showed some of the background preparations for the trial, but in a glossy, abstract way. Of course, courtroom time is a big part of the practice of comparatively few lawyers; and a much bigger emphasis on the preparation time would have been more reflective of real life (but, except for the catfights, about as exciting as watching paint dry).
The show does not seem to be emphasizing the other skills of a lawyer--researching, interviewing, counseling, negotiating. There won't be any settlement negotiations in the show because that would obviate the need for a courtroom showdown. Worse, Roy criticized Chris, who did a good cross-examination, for being too invested in researching his case--Roy says research is fine, but he's more excited about courtroom tricks and oral advocacy.
On this level, I think the show reinforces the standard media stereotypes about lawyers. It's all about the big show and the tricks you play as part of the show; everything else is not that important. Problem is, in real-life, for most lawyers, the everything else is all they do.
In any case, because Roy is going to emphasize courtroom showmanship, I predict that a criminal litigator (criminal defense or prosecutor--your pick) will win--they come to the show with vastly more courtroom experience than the civil litigators, and the civil litigators won't be able to learn fast enough to overcome their comparative lack of experience.
UPDATE: Tung Yin, the consummate law professor/reality TV fan, weighs in.
UPDATE 2: The Recorder (registration required) tells us that 8 of the 10 remaining lawyers are members of the California bar.
UPDATE 4: Like Scott Moss (see the comments), Evan at Legal Underground takes issue with my characterization of plaintiff's lawyer. I didn't mean to describe all plaintiff's lawyers in my remarks, and I apologize if I unintentionally overgeneralized my comments.
May 26, 2005
a/k/a "Hotel Reject." MSNBC runs a story on what happens to reality TV contestants when they get ousted from the show. Meanwhile, Loser Island sounds a little like where I spent my high school years...
February 18, 2005
I'm a Lover, Not a Fighter
Interesting new study on why left-handers have survived Darwinism. The article leads off:
“Statistics show left-handed people are more likely to be schizophrenic, alcoholic, delinquent, dyslexic, and have Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, as well as mental disabilities. They're also more likely to die young and get into accidents. So if evolutionary theory dictates survival of the fittest, why do lefties still exist?”
The article concludes: “The anomaly is left-handed people make up the extremely gifted and the extremely compromised…The rest of us make up the middle ground.”
February 15, 2005
Talk at Michigan State: "Lexicon Law"
I’m going to be speaking on Saturday at the Second Annual Intellectual Property & Communications Law & Policy Scholars Roundtable in East Lansing. I’m giving my first public debut of my next major paper topic. This is still in the early formative stage, so I’m looking forward to comments. If you have any, I welcome them.
February 09, 2005
Presentation on Regulating Speech in Virtual Worlds
I’m giving a speech on Friday at Santa Clara University School of Law at the Rules & Borders: Regulating Digital Environments symposium. I was asked to speak about “regulating content” in virtual worlds. This is a pretty open-ended topic, so it gave me plenty of room to be a contrarian. You can read the draft. I welcome your comments.
February 07, 2005
Welcome to my personal blog. In the future, I plan to launch a “professional” blog that will cover substantive legal topics related to search engines, Internet law and marketing law. This blog will cover everything else—postings about my papers and conferences, my observations about life as a law professor or the business of law schools, and announcements about family and friends.
Although I have long thought about doing a blog, the real impetus for this blog came when two of my students approached me last semester saying I should do a blog. I am dubious about the demand for my words and I am nervous about the possible time commitments of maintaining the blog, but we’ll have to see. Special thanks to Rex Holmes for his help getting me up and running on this technology.
Thanks for stopping by. I always welcome your comments.