Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Google Chrome

Chrome, Google's internet browser, came out a while ago, but I just downloaded it today.  Usually I use Firefox, but it's been disappointing me lately with its glitches.  

Chrome seems to load pages more smoothly than either IE or Firefox and I like its tabbing design, with the tabs at the very top of the screen.  It'll take some more time for me to form a solid opinion about it, and I admit to being biased in favor of all things Google, but so far I really like it.

Have you guys used it?  What do you think of it compared to IE or Firefox?

Monday, December 29, 2008

From the Gossip Pages

Continuing the trend of writing about purely frivolous topics over Christmas break, Sarah Palin's daughter Bristol gave birth to a baby boy today. The name? Tripp Easton Mitchell Johnston. Surprisingly normal (it's no "Apple"), but it is a bit of a middle-name overload.

Well, "Easton" does sound like a town instead of a name, doesn't it?

Gimme Some Sugar...

...I am your neighbor.

I'm going to the Sugar Bowl, in which Alabama is going to give Utah a beatdown. It's technically on January 2nd, but I'm counting it as my New Year's celebration. What are you doing for New Year's?

Name the Celebrities

Celebrity number 1:

Celebrity number 2:

Here's your hint: one of them is Zooey Deschanel (the girl in Elf), and one of them is singer Katy Perry. Can you tell them apart?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Future of Journalism

What will the news look like once newspapers disappear? [Good/Blog].


All these posts, except the one from my neighbor's yard, were done at the Krystal off highway 59 in a suburb of Birmingham called Trussville, AL.

THAT'S commitment.

Getting in Your Professor's Head

Now that I’ve slept for 18 hours of each of the past 5 days, I’m ready to use my brain again. Before coming to my grandparents’ house where I knew there would be no internet, I downloaded copies of my spring semester professors’ law review/journal articles that were relevant to the class I’m taking from them. Hopefully, by reading those, I can get in their heads to some extent and go into the course knowing what they consider important.

Maybe my plan won’t work, but it’s worth trying.

Top Fives

Does anyone have any data on law school students and their undergraduate majors? I’m writing this post at my grandparents’ house with no internet at all, so I can’t look it up. But here’s my guess. Top majors:
  • English
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • Political Science
  • Econ
Go ahead and guess the top 5 before you look it up. Then look it up and leave the link in the comments, and we’ll all see how right or wrong we were.

PS: Top 5s remind me of the movie High Fidelity. What are some other law-related top 5 lists we can do?

Used Book Stores

I love used book stores. I love thrift stores that have a used book section. I love going through other people’s book shelves.

Books are meant to be read and re-read, and while it’s impressive to own your own library, it makes more sense to sell/donate your books to places where other people can read them. I’m not talking about your absolute favorites that you re-read once a year or legitimate reference books that you need. I’m talking about the novels and poetry collections that you have no special attachment to, and therefore should give them up to someone who might discover value in a book in which you did not.

I stopped on my way to Birmingham yesterday while looking for a post office and stumbled on a used book store. It was wonderful! I bought a sack of books for $20, and they all have promise. But rest assured, if I find that some aren’t so great or aren’t my favorites, I’ll give them to a library or other used book store so somebody else can make their own decision.

What a Christmas

After two trips to the hospital, the Nichols’ family Christmas is complete.

The plan was to come up from Tuscaloosa to my grandmother’s house in Birmingham (about an hour away) to celebrate Christmas. The plan went smoothly -- until we got to Birmingham. Despite admonitions from all sides of the family for my grandmother to stop working and let everyone else take over, she tried to put the pecan pie on a counter that was out of her reach and ended up falling and shattering her shoulder.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my grandmother. I love laying in bed with her and holding her soft wrinkled hands while she tells me stories about how mischievous my dad was when he was younger. I love her home-grown wisdom and toughness. But she is shaped like a bowling ball: 5 feet even and round. We’ve been telling her for years that she needs to sit down and let us do the holiday work, but she’s stubborn and tough AND a Nichols, all of which make it difficult to tell her what to do. So we spent a few hours in the emergency room tending to her on Christmas Day. And then the second accident happened.

After my grandma’s crisis was over, my Aunt Eleanor and Uncle Charlie packed up to leave. While Charlie was trying to turn off the emergency break, he accidentally popped the hood. When he got out to put the hood back in place, he forgot to switch the car to park. The car rolled back, not only over his foot, but the open door pushed him down. He was quite scraped and bruised before the ordeal was over.

But hey, everybody lived; we intermittently ate good food, and we had some great fellowship. I hope everyone else had a wonderful and injury-free Christmas.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Halfway Point

Exams are OVER. Finished. One more semester down, 3 to go. That means my class is halfway through with law school!

One of my least favorite things about law school is that exams are scheduled over 3 weeks. I know it wouldn't be practical to schedule them over a shorter period of time because there's just no way we'd have enough time to recover from one before moving on to the next, but 3 weeks is a heck of a long time. It feels like a marathon. (Not that I know what a marathon feels like, haha, but this is what I imagine it's like.)

This means that first semester exams continue until the week before Christmas, and we don't get much time to enjoy the season. I love Christmas time, so this makes me sad. But at least exams are over and we have about a month to sleep in before the cycle starts over again.

So happy holidays, everyone, and congratulations on getting through another round of exams. Enjoy the time off.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Busting Out All Over

In my attempt to get inside Prof. Horwitz's head and win round 2 (I didn't do as well as I'd hoped in his Con Law class last semester), I looked up and read some of his published articles. This was my favorite sentence, from "Religious Tests in the Mirror: The Constitutional Law and Constitutional Etiquette in Judicial Nominations" (15 WMMBRJ 75):
It would seem that the Religious Test Clause is busting out all over.
He's too smart not to know exactly what he was writing there. I'm glad to see that irreverence is alive and well, even in the stuffy world of legal scholarship.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dreaming and Doing

From the book I'm reading, Coromandel!:

The trouble is that those who dream, don't do, and those who do, don't dream... Love, war, peace, the beauties of repose -- it's always the same! Passionate love lyrics are written by nervous little fellows who've crawled home every blameless night to their shrewish wives.

Applying this to writing, do you think it's true? Do you think it would be good for all writers to go and experience their subject before being allowed to write about it? Or do you think outside perspective is valuable?

If you had to choose one or the other, which would it be?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

But what should we expect, really?

The Buffalo Bison(s) have adopted a new logo in which they chose to ignore that the proper plural of "bison" is "bison." The new logo reads "Buffalo Bisons":

From the NY Daily News.


The posts here have been slow to come because I've been in exams for the past 3 weeks. Someone proposed an interesting solution to that problem: submissions. If you'd like to submit an article to be posted, or just have tips about legal or political news, send them to Senichols(at)gmail(dot)com.

I've already received a few submissions that we're editing now, so they'll be posted soon, and I encourage you to email me if you have ideas for posts. We'll get some new content on here soon, everyone.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

CofC Flash Rave

According to Wikipedia, a flash mob is a group of people who assemble in a public place, perform an unusual action for no apparent reason for a brief period of time, and then very quickly disperse. A flash rave is exactly what it sounds like: a group of people who get together in a public place and have a short rave, then very quickly disperse.

Some students at the College of Charleston, my alma mater, organized a flash rave yesterday and the videos are all over YouTube today.

I just can't believe I missed it!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Webcams are Fun

Exams start tomorrow, and I just got back to school yesterday, so I pulled an all nighter last night to try and make up for my anti-studiousness over the break. Around 8 this morning, I got a Skype call from my friend Paco who is in Okinawa right now. Since we both have webcams, we started video chat.

And no, it didn't turn into "that" kind of webcam session. I picked up my laptop and walked it around the school so he could see it. Paco got a virtual tour of the law school from across the world, and we both thought it was pretty cool.

Do you use video when you chat with people? Has it changed the way you interact online? It definitely made me feel more self conscious, but since the other person must feel the same way, it was ok. What do you think?

Monday, December 01, 2008


I just found out that this blog was nominated for the ABA Journal's annual list of 100 best law blogs. Head over there and vote so I can have something to put on my resume to distract from the absence of my GPA.

Just kidding, sorta.

But really, the voting ends January 2, and it would mark the beginning of a super sweet second semester to make the ABA's list.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

What are you thankful for?

Right now, I'm thankful for ritalin and flash drives. My computer decided to die a slow death today, but I was able to save my notes from the semester just in time. I'm also thankful that Wal-Mart was open on Thanksgiving so I could go buy another flash drive (I left my other ones in T-town) and snatch my notes from my computer's last moments alive.

The exam gods might hate me, but at least Wal-Mart loves me. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Monday, November 17, 2008

JFK's Address to the Houston Ministerial Association

I'm writing a paper for Law and Religion on JFK's address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association. In it, he addresses the fact that he's Catholic and how that affects his political views and his vision for America. I particularly like this paragraph:
I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute; where no Catholic prelate would tell the President -- should he be Catholic -- how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference, and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him, or the people who might elect him.

The bold portion up there is the most controversial, I think. How do you reconcile decisions made to lead a fundamentally secular country when you're viewing the situation through the lens of religion? The Catholic church teaches that the Pope is the head of the church (correct me if I'm wrong here. I'm not Catholic, but this is my perception). If you refuse to follow direction by the Pope, you're saying that you don't believe a fundamental rule of the Church. If you don't believe and follow a fundamental rule of the Church, are you still Catholic?

That part of JFK's speech did much to calm voters facing the option of voting for a Catholic president, but unless I'm missing something huge, I don't see how it can be reconciled with Catholicism as a set of beliefs.

Another question this brings up: Protestants often speak in terms of God talking directly to them. For example, "I feel that God has lead me to do this."

Would a Protestant presidential candidate actually say, in a campaign speech, that he believes in an America where a church, church elders (or God) would not tell the President how to act?

ADDED: This is the paragraph right after the one above:

I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials, and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Be Professional

A friend of mine changed my world the other day when he mentioned Mike Tyson's crazy quotes. Among my favorites:

  • [To a female reporter]: I normally don't do interviews with women unless I fornicate with them. So you shouldn't talk anymore... Unless you want to, you know.
  • Lennox Lewis, I'm coming for you man. My style is impetuous. My defense is impregnable, and I'm just ferocious. I want your heart. I want to eat his children. Praise be to Allah!
  • You know what I mean. I may like to fornicate more than other people -- it's just who I am. I sacrifice so much of my life, can I at least get laid? I mean, I been robbed of my most of my money, can I at least get [oral sex] without the people wanting to harass me and wanting to throw me in jail?
  • My main objective is to be professional but to kill him.

I hope one day I can give interviews as memorably as Mike Tyson.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Give 'em Hell, Alabama!

Or a shotgun blast to the chest: Football Dispute Leaves 2 Dead. [AL Press-Register].

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

"What a slap in the face to ignorance and closed-mindedness."

When I was in middle school, I had a teacher who we called Mrs. I. She was my favorite teacher. Mrs. I had three sons who were older than me, one of whose name is Steve. Steve is now in his older 20's and is teaching in that same middle school.

Mrs. I and my mom are still friends, and Mrs. I forwarded my mom this email that Steve wrote this morning about the election:

I am indeed very happy. I think this is more than anything a victory over fear. The fear the Republican party propagates about "liberals" and socialism and terrorism, as well as the idiotic fear that comes from racism. It's exciting, to say the least. What a slap in the face to ignorance and closed-mindedness.

I had a last minute crisis about which candidate I was going to vote for president. I've been a McCain fan for a long time, but the characteristics I liked about him the most seemed to disappear during the election. When he became a presidential candidate and got past the primaries, he became more of a cookie cutter Republican.

So I voted for a Democrat for the first time in my life. Yes, Senator Obama is very young and no, he doesn't have as much experience as we'd like. But maybe those things are good qualities. Lord knows we needed something different, and we got it. We'll see how he turns out as our country's leader.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Trivia Night

Last night was the kick-off for Homecoming week, and the law school SBA has events planned for every night this week leading up to the football game on Saturday. Trivia Night was first on the list.

I don't know if you guys know this about me, but I kinda rock at trivia. Usually. Trivia with law students is very different from trivia with the general population, and out of 20 questions, I was only the clutch player on about 2.5 of those questions. Ouch.

This is due to the general high level of intelligence of law students in general, but I also noticed another tendency that law students have. We're all ambitious, and we all want to win. In the past several years, we've been taught how to maneuver through the holes in arguments and create arguments on the fly. The teams that didn't get a question right immediately searched for a flaw in the question or the delivery, because that's what we've been trained to do.

While I was a little worried that Trivia Night would be taken over by the douches who were treating a fun, non-school event like they would treat a mock trial, the night turned out alright. Maybe alcohol acted like the oil of conversation, maybe they realized they should keep the law jargon to a minimum. Whatever it was, it turned out to be a fun night.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Best American Facebook Groups

I'm a fan of The Best American Non-Required Reading series, edited by Dave Eggers. I just picked up 2008's copy:

The books always start out with funny lists, like "Best 2007 American Opening Lines" from novels, or "Best American New York Times Headlines." This year they have a list of "Best American Facebook Groups."

Guess what group is in it? YES! "I judge you when you use poor grammar" made the list! Other funny group names:
  • If This Group Reaches 150,000 Members, I Will Name My Son Batman
  • Gay Marriage Killed the Dinosaurs
  • I'm Saving Myself for Wild, Passionate, Awkward Honeymoon Sex
  • It Wasn't Awkward Until You Said "Well, This is Awkward." Now It's Awkward.
  • My Mom Makes Me Clean Up for My Cleaning Lady
  • Carol Never Wore Her Safety Goggles. Now She Doesn't Need Them.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Best Posts

I'm filling out a bunch of applications for writing internships for next summer, and they're asking for up to ten samples of my writing. I've filled up the 10 mainly with articles from my college newspaper, but I do want to include a couple posts from the blog.

So here's the question: What's your favorite post on the blog? Which one has made you laugh the most or react in some strong way? Which do you think is the most well-written or original?

Numbers are Scary

In the mornings I'm usually the first one awake, but this morning my roommate had a test so he was awake and studying when I got downstairs. He just went to take his exam, but he left some of his study materials behind. When I said that college was easy, I was not referring to a college experience that included things like this:

Then again, he's some kind of engineering major, and I was philosophy/political science. I played with words and arguments, he plays with numbers. Maybe this is easy for him, even though it sure isn't for me.

Bumper Cars

A few days ago on the way home from school I was rear-ended. Since I drive a big Explorer and the girl who hit me drove a Civic, she got the worst of it. Her bumper was lower than mine, so her car kind of went under mine and the wreck crumpled her hood. Thankfully, nobody was hurt, and also thankfully, my car is fine.

I don't know if you can tell from this tiny picture, but this is the car that hit me. The hood is the most damaged part.

Friday, October 10, 2008

HTML and Me

Blogger has had some glitches lately, so I've had to teach myself some html. I was annoyed at first, but it's turned out to be really interesting. As an added benefit, I don't have to depend on Blogger's shortcut "compose" buttons if they aren't working correctly.

At this rate, I'll be writing programs and creating computer viruses in no time. Just kidding.

Beer as an Investment

This is from a forwarded email and I don't know how to verify it, but it does sound pretty accurate.
  • If you purchased $1,000 of shares in Delta Airlines one year ago, you will have $49.00 today.

  • If you purchased $1,000 of shares in AIG one year ago, you will have $33.00 today.

  • If you purchased $1,000 of shares in Lehman Brothers one year ago, you will have $0.00 today.

  • But, if you had purchased $1,000 worth of beer one year ago, drank it all, then turned in the aluminum cans for recycling refunds, you will have received $214.00.

Was Jesus a Republican?

My parents came to town for a few days last weekend. I hadn't seen them since last spring/early summer. They got a hotel room for the weekend, but my mom decided to sleep over at my house. I felt like a little kid again, sharing a bed with my mom.

I went with my parents to dinner with some of their friends one night, and the conversation disturbed me. We were talking about politics and whether or not Obama could trade Biden for Hillary Clinton as his running mate this late in the campaign. One of the men remarked, "I don't think he will. God won't let it happen."

"Flabbergasted" is the only word I can think of to describe my response. Well, maybe a few other words come to mind: offended, outraged, disgusted. Remarks like that make Christians sound stupid.

It was a little like the time I heard Richard Land, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, say that if Clinton were nominated to the Supreme Court (an extremely long shot that will probably never happen) she would be "parking her broom outside the Supreme Court building for years to come."

Am I missing something, or has God declared publicly that he hates Hillary Clinton? Has God suddenly decided to get involved in politics? Last I checked, there was nothing ethical about implying that somebody is a witch. In fact, I sincerely doubt that God is interested in a particular political candidate or party.

And don't Christians believe that God can use whoever he wants to accomplish His goals? If he used Pontius Pilot, He can certainly use Hillary Clinton.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Gay or Sexist?

Women in my generation have been pretty lucky as far as sexism goes. I can count on one hand the times I've actually been treated differently because of my sex, and I bet other women today rarely experience discrimination because of their gender.

However, one of those times when I felt mistreated because of my gender was today, and I'm still livid. A doctor absolutely spoke down to me today, as if I couldn't understand the big words he was using. I won't say his name, although he deserves to be called out for his bad behavior. I will say that this was not in the UA student health center.

My brother was with me and the doctor spoke normally to him. But when the doctor turned to me, he actually said "Ok, I'll try to put this in easy words so you can follow it." Later on, he mentioned that he went to Mount St. Mary's University "back when it was a good school." "Why was it a good school then and not now?" I asked. His response: "Because back then no women were there."

He's either gay or sexist, right? I'm concluding sexist.

ADDED: Some of the commenters seem to think that I was saying the doctor might be gay because he talked down to me, a woman. That's not what I was saying at all. When I wrote that he might be gay, I was referring to the comment he made about college. He might have preferred an all-male college because he was gay, or he might have preferred it because he's sexist and doesn't think women belong in higher education. (Yes, I'm ignoring the other positives that come from single sex education, but I wrote this post with tongue planted firmly in cheek.)

Also, I ended the post by saying he was sexist, not gay. Even if the preceding statements were unclear, the last line should have clarified it. Re-read the post. There's nothing offensive in there except for the way he treated me.

Judicial Celebrities

Several total judicial celebrities are speaking at our law school in the future, and getting the email announcing that they're coming totally made me squeal a little.

Justice Clarence Thomas will be speaking at the UA law school in 2009, and Chief Justice Roberts will come in 2010. Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, of Canada's Supreme Court, is coming in March of 2009.


Monday, October 06, 2008

Mass Emails Will Never Let You Down

Email # 1:
After happily mooching off of my neighbor's wireless internet for the last two months, I unfortunately have to sign up for wireless internet.

Comcast is trying to get me to pay 60 bucks a month plus 150 to install. Does anyone know a cheaper way?


Email # 2:

There's a way that you can purchase the internet on 5 densely packed CDs for the low price of 3 installment payments of $89.99 + $2.99 S/H. While there's some initial overhead involved, you basically get to keep the internet forever, so I would say that it's a pretty good investment. Plus it's super fast! I invested in these CDs two year back, and while I don't have access to a lot of news stories that people talk about everyday, I still love it.

Let me know if you're interested.


Email # 3:

I don't know if this will be cheaper or not (with the current gas prices), but I would drive around in my underwear looking for houses with wifi. Then, I'd park in front of the house literally all day. Occasionally, I'd get out and do some calisthenics (in my underwear, of course) to keep the blood flowing. Once the people get home, you have to book it or the cops get called. But then, you just move on to a different house for the evening shift (at night it's harder for the people to realize that, yes, you are the same car that has been parked out front for 8 hours). But, again, I don't know if it's worth it with the current gas prices.

Email # 4:
In response to your plea for help from the wisdom of the crowds (or me, specifically), I have a suggestion. When faced with an impending consumer decision, I pride myself on thorough research to arrive at the most cost-effective and efficient solution to my needs. I'm glad you have chosen to be so dililgent, as well. In my efforts, I usually consult many resources to assess my options as a thrifty shopper. Lately, I've resorted to what people are calling the "information superhighway," the "world-wide web," or the "Internets." But, if you choose to conduct your research in the same way, keep in mind that the "Internet" is not something that you just dump something on. It's not a big truck. It's a series of tubes. Just the other day, someone sent me an Internet but I didn't get it until today. You know why? Because all these people are sending Internets to everyone, asking for advice on how to research things like consumer decisions. But, I wish you the best of luck in your never-ending quest for the best value. Good night, and good luck.

Email # 5:
I don't know if this will help you find free internet, but it's help me out of a number of jams.

Picture attached: (Click to make it larger.)

Email # 6:


I think this might help you better than that flow chart.

Im never gone let you down.

[Anybody know why the font size changes and won't change back when I do longer posts? None of blogger's editing tools are working to make the text normal-sized, and I guess I'm getting the html wrong. Sorry about it for now, but I'll figure it out soon.]

Lessons on Health Insurance

Today I received my bill from the hospital stay last semester. I stayed for 2 nights and 3 days while they pumped me full of antibiotics and waited for my fever to go down. There were no major surgeries, no chemotherapy and no limbs were removed, and the pre-insurance bill still came out to a heart-stopping:


[I wonder what the 12 cents were for. Why even include the cents in huge purchases like that? I propose that we get rid of pennies in any transaction that involves more than $1,000.00. Just round up, people.]

After insurance, the total that I have to pay comes down to a much less terrifying $760.44.

The lesson here is that health insurance, although expensive and occasionally evil, is essential. Even if you're a non-smoking non-drinking non-drugging student triathlete, you need health insurance. The good news is that because you're a non-smoking non-drinking non-drugging triathlete, your insurance is probably going to be cheaper than mine.

When I turned 23 in December of last year, my parents' insurance dropped me and didn't inform me that I had no health insurance. In fact, I lived for the next two months thinking I had insurance before an unfilled prescription forced me to call the company. After spending two hours on the phone while I stood on my head and pressed zero over and over, an Indian guy across the world finally informed me (through a substantial communication barrier) that I had no health insurance. Thankfully, I bought the student coverage the next day, because a few weeks later I was lying in the hospital bed at DCH wondering what the heck was wrong with my body and if my Evidence professor would cut off my ear for missing his exam.

The bonus lesson, then, is that you should check up on your insurance at your birthday to make sure you're still covered.

There. Now, if you don't have insurance and have an accident after reading this, I will not bring you Arby's while you're in the hospital, and I will not feel guilty about it.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

How I did It, Part II

OJ Simpson, along with his co-conspirator, was found guilty of all charges in his most recent case. Both face the possibility of life in prison for robbing two sports memorabilia dealers in Las Vegas, Nevada, in September of 2007.

Is "How I did It, Part II" already in the works?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Book's Official Amazon Listing

Here's the cover and official listing for the book on Amazon. Have at it!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Mrs. Dumford

I heard you read my blog, and I just wanted to thank you for pre-ordering the book on Amazon. And thank you for this awesome tea you sent Josh. It's pretty amazing.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Alabama is recruiting Jewish families. [CNN]. Dothan, a small town in SE Alabama, is offering up to $50,000 per family for Jewish families to move there. I'm not Jewish, but even if I were it wouldn't be worth it to move to Dothan for $50,000.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Idaho Cheerleaders Ditch Skimpy Uniforms

But WHY?!

Also, they're called the "Idaho Vandals." Anyone know the history on that?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I judge you when you use poor grammar:

The book is available for pre-orders on Amazon.

(This is SO cool!)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Drink the Kool-Aid

Prof. Horwitz's advice to 1Ls. I particularly like number 6: Drink the kool-aid.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Dr. House: "Gorgeous women do not go to medical school. Why do the work when you can get paid for just showing up?"
I wonder what House's opinion on gorgeous women in law school is.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Print v. the Web

I'm not sure I like the new format, with the more prominent photo at the top of the page. It seems like a move towards even more sensationalism -- grab the readers' emotions, then maybe they'll be more likely to click the headline. Is it working on you?

The other day I had a conversation with my friend from college, Katie Abney, who works as an assistant editor at Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles magazine. She works on the print edition, while I'm more interested in the web side of journalism. She spoke about how there's some tension between the two sides. The print people believe that a better narrative can be told through the print version of a magazine/newspaper, because you have almost full control of the layout.

It's an interesting argument, but it seems inevitable to me that journalism is moving towards the web for good. There will always be print editions of books, newspapers, and magazines, but the speed of posting and receiving information on the web is a huge draw, and I think we'll eventually change over to getting the majority of the information we read from the web.

Bipartisanship...on SNL

Tina Fey as Sarah Palin and Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton:
Clinton: I believe in global warming.
Palin: And I believe that it's just God huggin' us closer.
Check it out, yes, on Perez Hilton. Here's some analysis from the LA Times Blog, the Dish Rag.

(After you've watched the skit: it's about sexism, and the LA Times is talking about it on a blog called the "Dish Rag"? There's some irony there.)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

How to Write the Dedication and Acknowledgments for a Book

This morning my editor asked me to write the dedication and acknowledgments for the book. I hadn't given it much thought until now, and now I'm terrified that I'll leave someone important out by accident.

Has anyone done this before? What's your advice on approaching this?

So far, here's what I have. I'm dedicating the book to my parents, brother and sister. For the acknowledgments, I'm thanking:
  • God
  • My agent and editor
  • Friends who helped along the way
  • My grandparents and extended family
  • The law school, and several specific people here who have given advice and coached me through the process, and
  • The members of the Facebook group.
Am I leaving someone important out? If you think I might be, leave it in the comments.

September 11th

Remembering. Here's my post from 2006 on 9/11.

Most of us have friends or family members who are serving in the military right now. We love you, we miss you, and we're very proud of all of you. Come home safely.

Leave your thoughts, memories, analysis or reactions in the comments.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Changes in the Law School Career Services Office

Tom Ksobiech is the new Assistant Dean for Career Services at the law school. He worked in admissions before that, so he's been at UA for a few years. I'd never met Mr. Ksobiech before this weekend, when we had a wonderfully encouraging conversation.

I met with someone in the CSO in the first semester of my 1L year, and the meeting didn't go very well. At the time the book deal wasn't final yet, but I was hopeful that it would work out and had started thinking about the possibility of not practicing law when I graduated and trying to make a career out of writing -- possibly writing about the law and legal decisions. When I proposed this to the person I met with in the CSO, they responded with "Well, then why are you in law school?" The tone of the entire meeting was negative, and I left feeling that they didn't have much confidence in my ability, weren't interested in helping me achieve my goals, and that I probably didn't belong in law school to begin with. Needless to say, I left the meeting very discouraged.

Mr. Ksobiech, however, has a very different outlook on his job. When I talked to him at the tailgate before the football game this weekend, he spoke about how he wants to change the reputation of the CSO and help the students achieve their goals after graduation, even if we didn't want to follow the typical route and practice in a law firm. That's great to hear, especially since the market for lawyers is pretty saturated right now. We need somebody who can think outside the usual parameters to help us get the jobs we want, and I'm glad Mr. Ksobiech is there now.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Baltimore Sun

Here's the Baltimore Sun article that I interviewed for last week, and here's an excerpt:

The founder of the wildly popular Facebook group called "I judge you when you use poor grammar" grew up in Severna Park and graduated from Annapolis Area Christian School. Now in law school at the University of Alabama, Sharon Nichols, who's 23, laughs when she gets hate mail from the grammar poor (perhaps from the competing Facebook group "I judge you when you judge people who use poor grammar, you elitist wankers").

She can afford to laugh - she's got nearly 300,000 like-minded people on Facebook, a book inspired by the group's exploits that's due in December and the timeless rules of grammar on her side. "It's not necessarily a bad thing, to have standards," she says.

Where's the political commentary?

I've been getting emails asking why I'm not writing about the election. It is, you know, a big year for politics.

I started out writing this blog on politics because that's what I majored in in college (and philosophy) and I was interested in politics. I'm still interested, and I follow elections pretty closely.

Here's the deal. The more I learn, the less informed I feel, and the less qualified I feel to comment on it. I can write about my thoughts and predictions, but besides a college degree in political science, I don't have any guarantee to offer that my thoughts or predictions are accurate.

It's kind of like that Socratic quote: something about how the wisest man is the man who knows that he knows nothing. I'm wondering if I'll get to a point where I feel confident in my political analysis again, but I don't right now.

That's just an explanation of why I haven't been commenting. But since you guys seem to want me to start writing about politics again, I will. Just keep all of the above in mind.

Monday, September 08, 2008

College Sports Statistics

Interesting things I learned in Sports Law today:
  • Between 16 and 19 out of the roughly 4,200 universities in the country have athletic departments that make a profit in the average year.
  • U of Alabama is one of those universities.
In the first statistic, the 16-19 schools whose athletic departments actually make money were evaluated after receiving a supplement from the main university. Remember in college how, even if you weren't an athlete, they charged you a $50 sports fee? Those 16-19 schools make money after receiving that $50 from every student enrolled in the college. I wonder what that number would be without those fees.

The teacher of this class is Professor Marsh, and here's an excerpt from his bio on the law school site:
[Professor Marsh] was the Faculty Athletic Representative at Alabama from 1996 to 2003, has served on numerous NCAA and Southeastern Conference Committees, and is a past the Chair of the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions. He has been a member of the Committee on Infractions since 1999.
Anyway, the point is that Prof. Marsh knows what he's talking about. I took a Sports Ethics class in college, and we talked about how few athletic departments actually make money each year. In the south during football season, with a hundred thousand people crowding Tuscaloosa each weekend, it's pretty hard to believe that athletic departments don't generally make money. Whenever I've raised that point, I've been shouted down by people who've seen the spectacle of big time college football, and I understand why it's hard to believe.

Fortunately, Alabama is one of the schools that operates at a profit. But the statistics are surprising, eh?

Friday, September 05, 2008

Mass Email Mischief

The law school mass email abuse has begun again.

If you're new to this blog (or to law school), here's how it works. UA allows any law student to send mass emails to the entire law school -- faculty, students, the dean -- everyone. As you can imagine, this often leads to mischief. Right now, students are primarily using mass emails to buy and sell football tickets. In the past 2 days alone, there have been at least 30 emails sent about tickets. Today, one student found a creative way to state his annoyance with the football emails clogging our inboxes. Here's the email he sent to everyone:


I am trying to sell the turkey sandwich that wife made for me last night. I initially thought that I was going to eat the sandwich, but then I noticed that I am in the mood for bbq, so I would like to get rid of it. I plan on selling it for face value, not including the value added by my wife’s magic hands. Therefore, with Wheat Bread, Turkey, Lettuce, Tomato, Spicy Mustard, and the real problem, Mayo, I am offering this delicious treat for $2.75 O.B.O. I swear I don’t know what is going to take for my wife to realize I hate mayo and the ballet. Nonetheless, I thought this would be an appropriate forum to sell my sandwich. The spoils go to the first taker.

Your friend,


Then the replies started coming in. Reply 1:
I may be interested, however I see the sandwich was offered on Tuesday, has it been kept appropriately refrigerated since that time? I am particularly concerned about the Mayo, as such condiment has been known to go bad in the past. Thanks!
Reply 2:
I want that turkey!
Reply 3:
Looking to trade a weeks worth of cold sandwiches for a cheeseburger.
And finally, reply 4:
These are so clever. I was so worried I wasn't going to get witty banter in my law school inbox. Thank God. Parker told me he says he wants to exchange knuckle sandwiches with everyone on here.
Personally, I love the mass email function. I think the amusing nature of the mischief far outweighs the annoyance of getting 30 emails about football tickets.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


This morning I finally finished the book and mailed it to my editor. What a great feeling! (Here's the background on the book if you're a new reader.) This weekend is the first home football game, and it'll be the perfect time to celebrate.

I also did an interview with a reporter from the Baltimore Sun yesterday. That article will be out on Tuesday, and I'm also interviewing with the Columbus Dispatch tomorrow. I'll let you know tomorrow when that article will be out.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Football Season Opens with a Beatdown

Football season began with a hurricane and a bang. The hurricane was Gustav, which ended up not interfering with the Alabama-Clemson game. The bang was the beatdown that Clemson received when we beat the 36-10 in the first game of the season.

I was never a huge football fan, but growing up in a house in MD with an Alabama room, the creed of Alabama football reached me. I still don't know the intricate rules, but I cheer when other Alabama fans cheer, I go to the games, and I'll do my darndest to sneak some bourbon into the stadium.

It's begun, everyone. It has begun.

IN THE COMMENTS: Yes, I do make the occasional grammatical mistake. Feel free to judge me and then correct me for it. Hey, I'd do it to you.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

By the Way,,,

Without Wikipedia-ing it, does anyone know what Bama Bombs are?

Roll Tide!

Football season, for Alabama fans, is about to begin. The first game is at 8:00 pm (Eastern time, 7:00 pm Central), v. Clemson, at the Georgia Dome. I guess the GA dome is neutral territory or something. A lot of people went to the game, but there's still a fair number of us in Tuscaloosa who are excited about the game as well.

I just made Bama Bombs, which are cherries soaked in bourbon, and people are about to arrive to watch the game. Roooooolll tide roll!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Governor Barkley?

Charles Barkley wants to be Alabama's governor. []


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ethical Question

The professor for my Legal Profession class begins each day with a quote. Here is today's:
One of the highest services the lawyer can render to society is to appear in court on behalf of clients whose causes are in disfavor with the general public. -- ABA and AALS, Professional Responsibility: Report of the Joint Conference (1958)

What does this bring up in your mind? Mine: KKK free speech cases, religious rights, academic freedom cases (like the professor at U of Wisconsin who taught that the US government set up 9/11). What about when taking the case might lead to the downfall of your firm? For example, if a firm decides to represent a KKK member in a very public case, their law student recruitment might be hurt along with the volume of cases they can bring in. Do they still have to take it?

Live, Learn, London

My best friend in the world, Helen Van Wagoner, is beginning her year at the London School of Economics. She'll be working for a masters in international relations and documenting her experiences at

Unfortunately, she's leaving the pub photo essays out this time. Good luck, Helen!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Good Luck

I'm settling into the new classes this semester. Just about anything would be better than being a 1L, but I ended up with a pretty great schedule for a 2L. No classes on Fridays, and my only class on Monday is at 2:00 (and it's Sports Law!).

The optimism in the post is the result of surviving my first potential disaster of a class this morning. I was on call in my 8:15, but I didn't know it because I wasn't here the last time the class met. On top of that, I didn't have one of the two required books with me. Considering all that, it went very well. Let's hope the good luck continues.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Philosophy and Football

I have much to tell about my new classes, but for right now, laugh at this quote and be happy:

Academe: An ancient school where morality and philosophy were taught.
Academy: A modern school where football is taught.
-- Ambrose Bierce

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Advice for Giving Advice

Last night was an SBA sponsored party, mainly for the new 1Ls, but all law students were invited. We went for a little while, and I met some pretty cool people. One 1L went to Princeton, traveled the world and has worked for the government.

On one hand, law school is a great place to learn from your peers. You're with a diverse group of people in terms of experience and goals. Some have worked for the ACLU, while some have worked for the Carnegie Institute. I really enjoy the intellectual sparring that results from throwing all these people together.

On the other hand, we're all fundamentally alike. We're all type-A personalities who are used to winning. When you throw in the first year curve, it means all those type-A people who are used to winning are competing for the limited number of As that are available. As you can imagine, this brings out ugly characteristics in people. We've had reports of people ripping out pages of library books so no one else can use them, or refusing to share study materials. It's very different from college, to say the least.

So I'm struggling with what to tell the 1Ls as advice without sounding too dark. What do you guys think?

You Just Took a Law School Exam

I had a funny conversation last night that other lawyers and law students will understand. We were talking about how the normal rules of social interaction and alcohol consumption don't apply for 24 hours after taking a law school exam. If you've never taken a law school exam (or med school -- that's comparable), don't judge.

Want to get drunk by yourself before noon, then continue drinking through lunch and substitute beer for dinner? Totally okay. Want to watch an all day marathon of The Hills while you get extremely over-involved in how the blond of LC's hair changes slightly from episode to episode? Totally okay. Want to have sex with the busted brunette you met stumbling out of the law school, then kick her out so you can take a nap? Totally okay. You just took a law school exam.

Maybe this explains why the open tab parties the law school SBA sponsors post-exams devolve into total displays of debauchery. Then again, the open tab has something to do with that too.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Bitter BigLaw Associates

Anonymous comment from my post about selling textbooks:

As someone who graduated with 150K in student loans, I say go ahead and eat the 600 dollar loss per semester. In the end, it's going to pale in comparison to your huge loan pile anyway.

So, get some utility out of your books and keep them. Then, later, when you are working in a law firm, you can stack your bookshelves with them and look like a big nerd. You will feel smart and haughty. You will be superior to your other first year associates.

It'll take you about 6 months before you have enough paper, redwelds, and files in your office to need to empty out your textbooks from your bookshelves. Then, you can take your books home and use them as firewood in a magnificent bonfire. It's great to burn books. Makes you feel alive. I do that sometimes. That and shots of Patron.

bitter biglaw associate

I love:
1) That biglaw associates read this blog,
2) That they are every bit as bitter as I'm told, and
3) That they leave comments.

Keep it up, homes.

Cheers, Everyone

This is the last weekend before my second year of law school begins. I'm pretty excited about not being a 1L anymore and the privileges that come with that. We get to choose our classes ourselves this year, and I'm taking some that I expect to be interesting. I'm also glad to have the confidence that comes with one year under my belt -- not that I've mastered the game or anything, but I don't have that 1L white-knuckled fear anymore.

The rest of law school will not be easy, but it won't ever be as difficult as last year again. Part of the difficulty of the first year of law school is the changes that you have to make. Coming into law school, we all had been successful as students in the past, and we all had our own ways of achieving that had proven effective for us. For the most part, those methods didn't work anymore, and we each had to figure out a different way to survive. By now, we've (hopefully) figured out how to do the work of law school, and I expect the next two years to be much more fulfilling.

So cheers, everyone. Here's to a good year.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I've Seen the Light

Last year, I was stupid enough to think that I needed new (or newish) textbooks from the law school bookstore. Each semester I was spending about $600 on books. This year, I've seen the light: Amazon, eBay, and other websites that save students from wasting their money in college and grad school bookstores. I bought all my books this time for under $250, including shipping.

Yesterday, I also listed some of my old textbooks on Amazon. I've tried to sell old textbooks before, but I always used eBay, which charges you just for listing an item and takes forever to set up a listing. Amazon is my new favorite internet store. It takes maybe 2 minutes to list a book, and they only charge you if your item sells. I listed 6 books yesterday, and by this morning 5 of them had sold. While I may have been able to sell them back to the law school bookstore for $50 (total), I just made $300 overnight.

I highly recommend this to incoming law students.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Exam Strategy

The lack of posts in the past couple of days was due to my Business Organizations exam on Monday morning. I pulled two all nighters in a row for it, which I've never done before. I was loopy with exhaustion by the time it was over. Since then I've been recovering by sleeping copious amounts and generally being lazy.

I tried a new strategy with this exam. While I was making my outline of the class, I wrote paragraphs on all the issues that could possibly be on the test. It took forever, but I think it saved me time on the actual exam. I didn't have to think about how to accurately describe the relevant law; I just spotted the issues in the fact pattern, rewrote the appropriate paragraph, and then applied it to the facts. It also helped with citations to the statutes and cases, because they were already written in my paragraphs. We'll see how well the strategy actually worked when grades come out.

To other law students out there: Have you ever tried this? How did it work out? Alternatively, what's your general exam strategy?

Friday, August 08, 2008

"[Y]ou chose to use two spaces and I just wanted to park in one."

I found this picture while browsing through the grammar group's pictures:

"Dear person,

I'm sorry I put a dent in your car. I didn't want to but, I did it when I tryed [sic] to park next to you. I am not leaving my information because you chose to use two spaces and I just wanted to park in one. The scratches are because I used a towel that had sand on it to try to clean the dent/paint off. Beaches are fun.

Please look your car over for the dent and scratches and each time you see them remember not to park in two spaces.


I don't even care that it's probably fake. It made me giggle.

First Glimpse of the 1Ls

I'm getting my first glimpse of the 1Ls today.

Right now, I'm studying for my Business Organizations exam in one of the study rooms that we call a "fishbowl" because one wall is made of glass that faces a main hallway. Studying in here can make you feel a little exposed, but it also lets you people-watch.

Orientation for the 1Ls begins next week, and the little overachievers are here buying textbooks today. So far, they don't look as scared as I felt in their position, but then again, they have no idea what's coming.

(How, you might ask, do I know who the 1Ls are? The law school has fewer than 500 students in it, so it feels a little like high school. If you don't know a non-1L person, you definitely recognize them. All the rest are 1Ls. Plus, the 1Ls just look too young and hopeful to be 2- or 3Ls.)


The Summer Olympics started today in Beijing, China. It's the 29th holding of the modern Olympic Games, which began in Athens in 1896. However, the first written records that we've found of the Olympics being held dates back to at least 776 B.C. The ancient games were held in Olympia, Greece.

I studied abroad in Athens during the spring of my junior year of college, and we visited Olympia. Here are a few pictures of the ruins where the Olympics began:

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Tipping is Complicated

The summer is winding down. The exam for Business Organizations, the class I'm taking right now, is on Monday. Alabama has an exchange program with a Swiss school, and the Swiss exchange students arrived a couple days ago. Soon the 1Ls will be here and my class will finally get the ego boost of seeing other students running around in a panic.

Speaking of the Swiss, I went to dinner with a group of them the other night. When it came time to pay the bill, I had to explain the intricacies of tipping in America. In Switzerland, the server is already paid a living wage, and you can tip if there's exceptionally good service, but there is no obligation. I didn't realize how complicated American tipping is until I had to explain it the other night. Here's an approximation of how the conversation went:

Me: Fifteen percent is standard, but 20 percent for good service.
Swiss: What about taxes? Are those included on the menu price?
Me: No, they add that at the end, and you tip on top of that.
Swiss: What does "gratuity" mean? [It was on the check, since we had a large group.]
Me: Oh, I forgot, if you're in a big group -- usually more than 6 -- the tip will be included on the check and you don't have to add anything. "Gratuity" just means the same thing as "tip."
Swiss: Do you have to tip at supermarkets?
Me: No, just at restaurants.
Swiss: What about McDonald's?
Me: No, only at restaurants where a server brings your food to your table.

It's complicated! The Swiss kids weren't being obtuse by asking all those questions. I can see how it's confusing to people unfamiliar with it. The alternative is to switch to a system like the Swiss, where servers are paid a flat wage like workers at other jobs. The drawback is that there isn't as much incentive to work hard and give great service, but since tipping is common where the service is excellent, the incentive to work hard isn't removed entirely. It's like having a safety net -- you can't go below a certain rate of pay, but you are rewarded for being great at what you do. That system is sounding better and better.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

One L

Right now I'm reading One L, the story of Scott Turow's first year at Harvard Law School. The orientation packet that Alabama sent out before my first year recommended that we read it, and although I half-heartedly looked through a few bookstores for it, I never tracked it down until now.

I can't decide if it really is a good idea to try and prepare yourself for an experience like the first year of law school. On one hand, knowing what's coming theoretically gives you the advantage of being able to prepare for it. On the other hand, the anxiety of knowing what you're about to go through could work against you. I came into law school painfully ignorant. I specifically remember saying to myself, "Oh, it's just school. You're good at school; you've done school all your life. How hard could it be?"

I was so naive.

Anyway, here's an interesting passage from the book:

Right now admissions at most American law schools are based on predictions of how well applicants will do in school, which is to say how high they will rank on exams. Those forecasts, based on statistical formulae that combine LSAT scores and college grades, are often quite accurate. But that amounts only to saying that American law schools admit people who will be good test-takers rather than good attorneys. Correlations between exam success and worthwhile achievements in the practice of law are speculative at best. Until that connection is better established, the narrow and arbitrary nature of exams will continue to dictate a narrow and arbitrary means of selection for training for the bar. And that is a peculiar state of affairs for a profession and an education which claim to concern themselves with rationality and fairness.

I'm not sure I fully agree with Turow here, but it is something to think about. How can we make law school exams better predictors of how great an attorney a person will turn out to be, rather than how great a student that person is now?

The Glasses Shot

Here it is, Sharon with glasses. Thankfully, I only have to wear them in class and while driving at night, but all in all I don't think they're too bad.

(Last night Blogger wasn't letting me upload pictures for some reason, so more NOLA pictures will be up later today.)

Monday, August 04, 2008

New Orleans Part II

We were in the Big Easy for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and, for those of you who know NOLA, we stayed in the French Quarter on Toulouse Street. The whole city surprised me with how beautiful it was and how much spunk it had. The rainbow-colored houses and wrought iron porches reminded me of Charleston.

Then there was Bourbon Street: a free-for-all party zone. The alcohol is served in "to go" cups and cars are blocked off from the area at night so you can drink and mingle in the street. My only NOLA experience before this was running around the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary when my dad got his PhD (I was 3), so this time around was a very different trip.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

New Orleans

Just a few pictures. The first drink of the night (to go! Cause NOLA is cool like that.):

Bourbon Skreet:

Today we wandered around and found the Supreme Court of LA:

More pictures to come!

IN THE COMMENTS: I'm pleasantly surprised by the sass in the comments. Argue away, everyone.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Can I have some beads?

This weekend, I'm going to New Orleans. My parents met in NOLA, but not in the typical way that people meet there. They both went to seminary in NOLA and met there, and my dad is now a Southern Baptist pastor. I haven't been there since I was about 3 and my dad was getting his PhD.

We have tons of recommendations on where we should go, and the maps, cameras, and credit cards are ready. Expect some great pictures in the next few days, and wish us luck!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Law School Ruined My Vision

I got glasses today, and they changed my world. My vision has always been perfect. Before last week, I hadn't had a vision exam in 10 years, but recently things on the board started seeming too blurry to read, so I made an appointment to get my eyes checked.

A little background: my grandmother has retinitis pigmentosa, an incurable hereditary eye disease that's basically a death sentence for your vision. My mother has been tested and she doesn't have it, which lowers my odds a lot, but there was still a chance that I could have it. Symptoms don't set in until anywhere from age 15-35, and I'm 23. I guess I avoided eye doctors because I didn't want to face the chance, and it was a little scary going to my check up last week. Thankfully, there are no signs of RP.

The funny part of the visit came when the doctor asked me what I've been doing in the past few years. I told him I just finished my first year in law school, and he said "Aha! Law school." Apparently he gets a lot of law student patients who have always had perfect vision, but the sheer amount of reading in law school strains their eyes and makes their overall vision worse.

I can blame my failing vision on law school!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

No More Scrabulous?

The creators of Scrabulous, the most popular Scrabble application on Facebook, suspended the game yesterday because of a lawsuit from Hasbro Inc., which owns the rights to the game in North America. Anybody else disappointed?

Monday, July 28, 2008


Gas is under $4 a gallon!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Rough Utilitarianism

This is a passage from Dave Eggers' book A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Dave's friend has just taken a handful of pills, declaring that he wants to commit suicide, and Dave shows up at the hospital. They're arguing about whether Dave should use this material in his writing.

"This is mine. You've given it to me. We're trading. I gave you the attention you wanted, I bail you out, when you spend three days in the psych ward, and say how you're still thinking of doing it, I'm the one who comes in and sits on your bed and gives you the big pep talk -- anyway, the point is that because of all that, all the shit I put in for you -- now I get this, this is mine also, and you, because you've done it yourself, made yourself the thespian, you have to fulfill that contract, play the dates, go on the road. Now you're the metaphor."

He's quiet. He has a pair of scrubs in his hand that he found in a cabinet. He tosses them onto the counter.

"Fine. Put me in the f*cking book."
Everything that I write about, or want to write about, is informed by personal experience. Sometimes I have ethical misgivings about writing about certain subjects. Sure, some people justify writing their own, or others', intensely personal stories in the interest of "truth," or some other vague justification. But I don't think truth is an all-purpose justification for making personal details public. So where's the line?

Dave seems to be advocating a pretty liberal standard. He participated in the unpleasantness of helping heal his friend's depression, so he gets to profit from it by writing about it. But that leads to some absurd, and undesirable, consequences. Anyone who writes about their own lives is motivated to do good because, in their own heads, it justifies exploiting the scene for profit later.

My dad, the Southern Baptist minister, doesn't drink. He doesn't say that drinking is a sin, either; the Bible never says that drinking is a sin, only that getting drunk is. But my dad's justification for abstaining is that "Nothing good comes from alcohol." While I don't necessarily agree with that as applied to alcohol, it's a good standard to apply to other things, and it's the standard I've settled on for determining what to write about on the blog and what not to. Is something good going to come from this? Am I being helpful or hurtful?

As I get older and (hopefully) wiser, my standards might change. But for now, I can't justify writing, on this blog, about a subject that will do more harm than good.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Stuff You Can Buy on the Internet (But Probably Shouldn't)

I started a new blog yesterday dedicated to the trashiest of the trash sold on the internet. It's called Stuff You Can Buy on the Internet, at . I want this one to be a group effort, so check out the first few posts and see if you think they're funny. If you decide you want to be an author on that blog, email me.

Requirements: Internet-surfing skills, an ability to mock the stupid masses in a clever way, a few minutes a day to post a picture of something trashy for sale on the internet and write a funny blurb about it.

Compensation: A sense of accomplishment that your jokes will, potentially, make somebody out there laugh.

Federal Minimum Wage Increase

The federal minimum wage changed to $6.55 today, up from $5.85 an hour. It's like the government is saying "Ok, you can be less poor now."

This raise is the second in a series of three planned. The third will come in July of 2009, when the minimum wage will be raised to $7.25 an hour.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"Oh, it's the law!"

I was just at Target, and there were 3 guys in line in front of me. All three were obviously in their 30s, but the cashier wouldn't sell beer to them because only one, the one buying the beer, had his ID. Now, I see some logic behind this -- it prevents me from buying beer for my tagalong little sister. But it also keeps parents from buying a bottle of wine if they happen to have their kids with them.

I asked the cashier if the policy was Target's, or if there is a law about it, and she said "Oh, it's the law!", as if I had asked whether a 12-year old could buy my vodka. Now, I don't really care enough to search Westlaw, but does anyone know the law on this? If two or more people are together and one of them is buying alcohol, do all the people have to be 21 or older?

IN THE COMMENTS: There's an interesting discussion, with several people sharing their experiences with this rule(?). Keep commenting, people. I love the discussions.


Lately, I've been working on the grammar group book. It's going to be sort of like the Postsecret book, but with the best grammatical pictures from the Facebook group. The problem is that I have to get permission from every person whose picture we want to use, and people have been surprisingly reluctant to give that permission.

Some people have asked to be paid, which is not unreasonable, but my publisher has ruled that out (and I certainly can't afford it). I've sent more than 2,000 messages to people on Facebook soliciting permission to use their pictures, and fewer than 200 have responded. Some of the 200 pictures are too blurry or too small to use, or they're just not funny enough. Facebook has a limit of around 100 messages that you can send per day, and I've maxed it out almost every day for the last month.

My readers constantly surprise me with their ingenuity, so here's my question for you guys: what approach would you take for this? I can continue to send messages, which is time consuming and hasn't been very successful so far. I also posted a message on the Facebook group's main page, and have mentioned it several times on this blog. Any other ideas?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Not a Grammar Mistake, but...

...definitely an error in judgment. I found this picture while looking through the grammar group's pictures today:

Yes, that really says "Bone [her] clothes for women."

Things My Boyfriend Says

I stumbled upon an amazing, makes-so-little-sense-it's-hilarious, blog today. It's called Things My Boyfriend Says. A sample:

Me: It's my birthday soon. You'd better get me something pretty.
E: I'll get ME something pretty, and you can play with it.

All is Well

This anonymous comment came after my last post:
It's nice to see you posting regularly again after a long break. I was worried something had happened to you.
While I really like writing and posting on the blog, sometimes it feels like a lot of pressure to be creative. It's difficult to be creative on a schedule. I wouldn't exactly call it writer's block, because it's not that I run out of things to write about. I think I take breaks for other reasons. When I post 4 times a day for a long period, people start expecting 4 posts a day no matter what, and the pressure gets to me. I start writing draft posts and second-guessing myself, thinking "This is too boring to post."

So while I fully intend to keep this blog going, don't be too surprised if I take a break once in a while. Also, if you have a comment that you don't want to post on the blog, feel free to email me. My address is under my Blogger profile.

Targeted Advertisements

I like to analyze the demographic that watches certain shows based on the advertisements that play during the breaks. For example, I watch Headline News in the morning, and 90% of the commercials are for prescription medications and scooters for the elderly.

What commercials do they play during a show geared toward my generation? I haven't really paid attention, but I would guess that movie trailers and car commercials make up most of the ads.

And what about political commercials? As the election gets closer, I'll pay attention to the ads that play on different channels and at different times. Imagine this: McCain bobbing his head to "In Da Club" and talking about his plan for Iraq.


I have a friend named Mike who's in the Marines, and we converse every once in a while over IM. Apparently he's in Malaysia now, as I got this message from him this morning:

Mike, if you read this, I expect a postcard from Malaysia (I collect postcards).

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Two to Tango

This article describes "purity balls," at which fathers take daughters and pledge to keep their daughters pure (abstinent) until marriage. These fathers probably have the best intentions, and I believe in the importance of fathers in daughters' lives. If daughters feel loved and respected by their fathers, they're more likely to date guys who love and respect them.

But, if the goal is to prevent sex before marriage, why are they only focusing on the girls? It takes two to tango, you know.

Friday, June 27, 2008

This is a Special, Special Post

Last night was the NBA draft. Now, normally I don't watch the 294-hour long NBA draft, but once I started watching it, I was mesmerized by the absurdity of it all. The commentators sit there for at least six hours while the draft picks are announced, struggling to come up with different adjectives to describe the players. I can't tell you how many times I heard them rave about the "athletic ability of this extraordinary athlete." Really?

At one point, "special" was the word of the segment, which left me wondering if saying that a player had "special ability" and was a "special, special talent" meant that he was "special" in a borderline retarded way. Hey, extra HGH at a young age can have some "special" side effects. You never know.

(If you're interested, Bill Simmons does a great job finding the hilarity in the draft in this column for ESPN.)

Then I started thinking about it. Even though I found the draft to be a bizarre spectacle, it's no more absurd than the coverage of election returns. The same struggle for descriptive adjectives and analysis occurs, and the excitement of those watching it seems strange to people who don't care. And I'm saying this as one who does get excited about election returns, and who would totally host a presidential debate party.

However, I hope I never hear a commentator describe Obama or McCain as a "special, special talent."

New Developments

The sad new developments in the investigation of the death of UNC's student body president, Eve Carson. [CNN]


I have an acquaintance who consistently makes me laugh. Even though we're not super close, I kinda wish we were, and hopefully her sense of humor would rub off on me. For example, her Facebook status right now is:
"Elizabeth Stevenson just got a recipe for Mancatcher brownies. Start begging now."
Anyway, I was wondering aloud to a mutual friend the other day whether Elizabeth has a blog, and it turns out that she does. It's called Juxtapositiously, and if you like my sense of humor, you'll probably like hers.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Girls Don't Need College; Beauty School OK

While looking through the pictures that have been uploaded to the Facebook group ("I judge you when you use poor grammar"), I came across this:

I hope this is a joke, but I can't find the story behind it. Anyone know whether it's an actual article from a high school paper?

I went to a Christian high school in Annapolis, MD, and the local newspaper there has a program that lets local high schools "take over" a page of the paper each week. The students choose topics and write the articles, and the paper publishes them. A few years after I graduated, I read the paper when it was my high school's turn to take over a page, and there was an article arguing that God allowed 9/11 to happen because America "isn't Christian enough." I was furious and embarrassed, along with many other people.

Even though my hunch is that the article above is a hoax, the experience with my high school tells me that it may be for real.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Are you tempted by the $199 iPhones that are coming out soon? I'm tempted, but I also know that giving me 24-hour internet access is like giving an unlimited crack supply to a crackhead. Although it would improve my online presence, it just may ruin my in-person social life. I'm still debating whether it's worth it.

This article, about iPhones and porn, is interesting. At first, I thought the concern was similar to car DVD players -- that pornography viewed on iPhones in public might offend unwitting passersby. The article also talks about minors who have iPhones, and how the phones make it easier for minors to have access to inappropriate material. The new phones will have parental controls:

"Our iPhone 2.0 software will give customers the opportunity to turn on parental controls," says Apple spokeswoman Bowcock. Some parents may not be tech-savvy enough to figure that out, though, and some kids may be clever enough to find a work-around. "If a minor with one of these phones pokes around, he could easily access adult sites without his parents' knowledge," says Holden, who authored "Adult Content in the Palm of Your Hand," Juniper's latest research report."

Most kids already have access to the internet, and it they want to badly enough, they know how to look up porn. I'm not saying we shouldn't worry about it, but in the end it's up to parents to be proactive and safeguard their kids. It's also pretty paternalistic to be concerned with what adults (legally) do on the internet. Society will find a way to prevent objectionable use of the internet in public, just as we've found a way to surf the internet from a device that fits in a pocket.

My main concern is that I'll be distracted by the ability to check Gmail and Facebook wherever I am. If you have an iPhone: is it a distraction, or is it helpful?

ADDED: In the comments, Phaedrus says "Sharon, come on! Gmail and Facebook, really? Mobile Westlaw . . . imagine the possibilities." Ha!