The journal Economic Inquiry (which "...is widely regarded as one of the top scholarly
journals in its field. Besides containing research on all
economics topic areas, a principal objective is to make each
article understandable to economists who are not necessarily
specialists in the article's topic area") has published Paul Krugman's article "The Theory of Interstellar Trade." From the abstract:
This article extends interplanetary trade theory to an interstellar
setting. It is chiefly concerned with the following question: how should
interest charges on goods in transit be computed when the goods travel
at close to the speed of light? This is a problem because the time taken
in transit will appear less to an observer traveling with the goods
than to a stationary observer. A solution is derived from economic
theory, and two useless but true theorems are proved.
An older version from 1978 is posted here. This got me wondering just how much legal scholarship is written about interstellar trade. I didn't find an answer to that question because during my search I was sidetracked by articles in law journals related to or referencing Star Trek (seriously). Don't believe me? Throw these titles into your Google Scholar:
The Interstellar Relations of the Federation: International Law and Star Trek The Next Generation, 25 U. Toledo L. Rev. 577 (1994)
Lillich on Interstellar Law: U.S. Naval Regulations, Star Trek, and the Use of Force in Space, 46 S.D. L. Rev. 72 (2001)
On a Wagon Train to Afghanistan: Limitations on Star Trek's Prime Directive, 25 UALR L. Rev. 635 (2002-2003)
In any case, there have to be legal implications from Krugman's EI article. Is it destined to kick off a whole new line of interstellar trade scholarship in the legal academy?
It's kind of cool to pick up the national newspapers and find articles that involve two friends. The New York Times had an article in the science section this morning about new discoveries that confirm the theory of genomic imprinting, under which that father and mother genes do not always have equal chances of being present in the offspring. As the article notes, the leading explanation of genomic imprinting comes from David Haig, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard who also happens to be my next-door neighbor.
Then I picked up the Wall Street Journal to see that my former law partner and friend Nancy Edmunds is the federal judge presiding over the alleged Christmas Day bomber in Detroit (he fired his lawyer yesterday, asking to represent himself).
In its September issue, The National Jurist, "the magazine for law students," reports on the ranking by something known as "SubtleDig" of the nation's best and worst law schools for partying. (Thumbs down on TNJ's editorial assiduousness, as the table says University of Arizona ranks number one, but the text says Arizona State. I can say as a true son of Michigan that a similar mistake as between our institution and the green and white one to the northwest would have been unconscionable. I did, however, find it really odd that the University of Michigan Law School - the only school ranked in the top ten where not owning a pair of snow boots would be a mistake - ranks above UNLV as a party school. Really? As much as I love Ann Arbor, are the rankers really suggesting that South U has it over The Strip? That The Blind Pig beats out The Bellagio? That The Big House trumps beating the house? )
But I digress. What I wanted to say was that Tulane's number two ranking resonated with me. I taught there as a visitor in the 2006-2007 school year. In the spring semester, I taught secured transactions early in the morning and the first-year course in sales at 2:00 p.m. Everything in New Orleans is shut down on the Tuesday which is Mardi Gras, but what floored me was the request that I cancel the 2:00 p.m. class the next day (otherwise known as Ash Wednesday) because most students would still be recovering from Tuesday. I am sure that my declining this request (which I viewed as a sign of the apocalypse) had to do with the mediocre student evaluations I received in that class.
I just came from a presentation on Westlaw Next (good review here) which already rolled out for lawprawfs and which our students will be learning about within a few weeks. I already had some limited experience with Westlaw Next, mostly because searches from my Westlaw welcome screen took me straight into the service. Overall, I'm impressed. The requirement to search in a specific database to find what you're looking for has gone by the wayside, and searches are now more Google-like. In a little more than one week's worth of use I've already discovered new sources that I never realized were available within Westlaw...very cool. Also, if you edit cases for a seminar or casebook, the downloads into Word or RTF are much cleaner and easier to edit.
Some of the other features are the ability to highlight cases and add sticky notes to them. You can save your research to research folders and sub-folders, and there is an enhanced copy with reference feature that will put your copied text into a (rough) BlueBook format. If you get the chance to go to your Westlaw rep's presentation I recommend it. Plus, you get free food and a free mug which is the real reason I'm writing this post.
Here is the new magical Westlaw mug.
What is so magical about it? Well here's what the paper insert I found in the mug says:
Your tumbler was crafted using a unique, FDA, CFA approved advanced technology which combines popular plastic materials with an additive called BIO-GPS. When supplemented to the plastic resins, your Tumbler fully maintains its mechanical properties and shelf life. When disposed of, communities of microorganisms, which are present almost everywhere on this planet, break down the plastic construction into stable, organic matter in only 1-5 years!
HOW DOES MY TUMBLER DO THAT?
As soon as you discard your Tumbler into a microbial environment the process starts! A swelling agent begins to weaken the plastic's molecular composition. Next, a combination of bio-active compounds attracts colonies of microorganisms. The weakened plastic structure is no match for the microorganisms which are able to completely digest and neutralize the remaining matter. The residual non-toxic residue is completely harmless to the environment and living organisms.
This thing automagically disintegrates. Now of course, I'm skeptical and perhaps a little concerned. How does the tumbler know when it is disposed of? It seems the trigger for break-down is "communities of microorganisms" and those things exist "almost everywhere on this planet." I'm no scientist, but I'm guessing that my office is on this planet, and I'm thinking it has some microorganisms present. (Consider this report "What's 100 Times Dirtier Than A Toilet?" Here's a hint, it starts with a "your" and ends in "keyboard"). According to scientists, there are four hundred times more bacteria on a desktop than on most toilet seats. Yuck! So the automagical Westlaw Next mug seems great for the environment...until it disintegrates halfway through your morning latte.
Tune in 1-5 years from now for an updated photo of the disintegrating mug.
Thanks, of course, to Dan and my friends over here for the invitation (and for using a picture that shows me with hair). With blogging and Facebook, we can all now accomplish easily what somebody once said to me about Richard Posner (and he was doing it in the days of legal pads, dictaphones and IBM Selectrics): never having an unpublished thought. My problem is that I've been diagnosed as a manic expressive, and it doesn't help that I'm doing a new prep for contracts (which I adore teaching, by the way; a student just told me in the hallway that I have them terrified "but in a good way") which means that ANYTHING is an excuse to procrastinate.
Some time later in the month (maybe even tomorrow), I will have you rolling your eyes (or quickly scrolling to the next post) with some of the random things I think about, but for right now I have a really practical question about faculty lounges. We don't have one. Apparently we had one before I got here, but it didn't get used, so it got turned into a classroom. I really wanted there to be one - with some big cushy chairs and footrests and a television that gets Turner Classic Movies - because on Mondays I teach from 2:00-3:15 pm and then not again until 8:25-9:40 pm (that's at least an hour and a half past my normal bedtime), and I didn't want to go home and experience the sauna that was undoubtedly the Park Street T station in 95 degree heat.
What are the conditions under which there exists a good and vibrant faculty lounge (assuming there are any)? At Tulane, the bagels, donuts, fruit, and coffee in the morning (plus the cushy chairs and television set) helped, as did the "guillotine-style" bagel cutter Ed Sherman ceremoniously contributed in the first and only Tulane faculty meeting I ever attended.
Warning: This post references the UCC. Viewer discretion is advised.
Law profs who are teaching sales, sadistic transactions, or bankruptcy this Fall may wish to add to their materials the recent case of In re Erving Industries, Inc., in which a bankruptcy judge confronted the issue of whether electricity is a "good." The answer is important for a variety of reasons under commercial law. Might Article 2 apply (contract for services? or contract for sale of goods?)? Can the seller claim a PMSI in electricity under Article 9 (generally limited t0 goods)? Could a lender perfect its security interest in electricity by possession (perhaps if a good, but not an intangible)? Might the creditor seek a "priority claim" for electricity sold to a bankrupt debtor within days preceding the petition (chances increase if a good)?
I won't spoil the fun by disclosing the court's ILLUMINATING analysis and conclusion. PLUG INTO IT for yourself. Perhaps you'll be SHOCKED!
Suffice it to say that issues like this make the world of commercial law so much more riveting, entertaining, and rewarding than most, if not all, of the other subjects taught in our law schools today. Yes, indeed. You won't see any commercial law professors (the few, the proud, the anointed ones) rushing out to buy a happiness book. We've already got a copy on our desks. It's called the UCC.
Congrats (?) to Seattle resident Molly Ringle, named earlier this week as the 2010 grand prize winner in the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.
For the first month of Ricardo and Felicity's affair, they greeted one
another at every stolen rendezvous with a kiss — a lengthy, ravenous
kiss, Ricardo lapping and sucking at Felicity's mouth as if she were a
giant cage-mounted water bottle and he were the world's thirstiest
A few days ago the White House announced the appointment of 13 incredibly talented men and women as White House Fellows. You'll find brief bios on these outstanding individuals here, and additional information on the Program here.
I'm wondering if any law profs out there had the privilege of serving as White House Fellows. Any names?
As a mother of a pre-school age summer camper, I was struck this week as I always am by the way teachers refer to meeting "new friends", as in "We have some old friends and some new friends at camp this week." And my preschooler told me that he "met some new friends" on the first day at camp.
I know this is just a colloquialism, but it always strikes me as odd to talk about "meeting new friends". Isn't the definition of a "friend" someone you actually know well enough to have decided whether or not you like them (and to give them a chance to decide whether or not they like you)? I can understand "meeting new people" or "meeting new kids", but "meeting new friends" always seems a little jarring.
OK - I know that this is just a nice way of referring to new people, the assumption being that they should all be friends and they should all be nice to each other. The phrasing has always just struck me as odd. Any other preschool idioms that people find cute, but logically inconsistent?
On this Memorial Day we pause and remember the lives of men and women who died while serving our nation and protecting and preserving the many freedoms we all too often take for granted.
Among those who have served in the military was professional football player Pat Tillman (pictured), who died in Afghanistan at the age of 27. NBC Sports has a brief profile of Army Ranger Tillman, and 68 other athletes -- some famous (Joe DiMaggio, Patty Berg, Tom Landry, etc.), and others less well known (Hobey Baker, John Woodruff, Dwight Davis, etc.) -- who have served in the military in this slide show.
According to expectations derived from evolutionary theory,younger
siblings are more likely than older siblings to participatein
high-risk activities. The authors test this hypothesis byconducting
a meta-analysis of 24 previous studies involvingbirth order
and participation in dangerous sports. The oddsof
laterborns engaging in such activities were 1.48 times greaterthan
for firstborns (N = 8,340). The authors also analyze performancedata on 700 brothers who played major league baseball. Consistentwith their greater expected propensity for risk taking, youngerbrothers were 10.6 times more likely to attempt the high-riskactivity of base stealing and 3.2 times more likely to stealbases successfully (odds ratios). In addition, younger brotherswere significantly superior to older brothers in overall battingsuccess, including two measures associated with risk taking.As expected, significant heterogeneity among various performancemeasures for major league baseball players indicated that olderand younger brothers excelled in different aspects of the game.
I am unable to find a free-access link to the article. But The New York Times discusses the article in this story.
Trivia question: which trio of brothers aggregated the most career hits? Click here for the answer.
Update: Here's a link that should take you to the letter referenced below.
You're in the middle of nowhere. And then it happens. You gotta "go"! What do you do?
Apparently some hunters in Texas "answered the call" in the woods. This prompted an anonymous complaint to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The complaint came to the attention of Limestone County Judge Daniel Burkeen. His tongue-in-cheek response letter is priceless. (See updated link above.)
Federal district judge David Hittner (S.D. Tex.) was not pleased that someone shirked jury duty in his court. Read what happened here. (At the time of this post, readers had submitted over 200 comments to the story!)
On this day in history -- 1836 -- Sam Houston led his Texan revolutionaries to a resounding victory over Mexico's General Santa Anna in the Battle of San Jacinto (not too far from downtown Houston). Santa Anna's army outnumbered Houston's forces, 1200 to 900. But in less time than last night's episode of Glee (I'll assume we have some Gleeks in the house!), the Texans had control of the opposing camps. Santa Anna lost more than 600 men, Sam Houston less than a dozen.
And what did this battle mean for Mexico and the United States?
For Mexico, the defeat was the beginning of a
downhill martial and political spiral that would result into the loss
of nearly a million square miles in territory. For the Texans, their
victory led to annexation into the United States and the United States'
war with Mexico. In the end, the United States would gain not only Texas
but also New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, California, Utah and parts of
Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming.
As a result of the Battle of San Jacinto, almost a third of what is
now the United States of America changed ownership.
Read more here (which also is the source link for the quoted passage and other details above).
Pictured: the San Jacinto Monument, constructed in the 1930s to commemorate the Battle (and standing taller than the Washington Monument). Additional reading here.
The President and his wife reported charitable gifts of $329,100 on their 2009 federal income tax return. This represents 5.98% of their adjusted gross income. (I understand that the income and deduction figures exclude the President's donation of his Nobel Prize winnings to charities.)
The Vice President and his wife reported charitable gifts of $4,820 on their 2009 federal income tax return. This represents 1.45% of their adjusted gross income.
My numbers? Our federal income tax return reflected charitable gifts of approximately $16,300, which represents approximately 11.7% of our AGI.
Two questions: First, would removing the "tax break" of charitable giving significantly affect your monetary donations? Second, does political affiliation affect charitable giving in any material respect?
As to the first, I'd say "no" (not "significantly," anyway). How about you?
As to the second, I could only venture an uneducated guess. Perhaps one of our readers could direct our attention to a study that explores the issue. I'd be interested in the answer.