Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I've Moved

Margaret and I have combined our blogging powers and now have a superblog at www.clargaret.blogspot.com

Sorry for making everyone delist the separate blogs and relist the new blog. But we hope it will be worth it.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


We are at the point in this pregnancy where we are slightly worried that we haven't got a proven frontrunner in the name race. We don't like to have a name picked out that we call the fetus because we're afraid we might get sick of it or associate the name with those alien-looking ultrasounds. Yikes. But it would be nice to have some ideas from my limited, but brilliant, blog readers. Here are our criteria:

It can't be too common. He really should be the only one in his class with his name. No Johns, no Steves, not even semi-common names like Aidan or Hunter or Simon or something.

No overtly old testament names. It sounds funny with the Proffitt after it. Elijah Proffitt or whatever just doesn't work.

Family names are preferred, but obviously not required. Obscure Mormon heritage names are also nice.

We like Jewish names, Russian names and literary names but subject to the common rule and they can't be too harsh sounding (No Chaim).

No trendy celebrity-baby names: Apple, Violet, Jaden, Shiloh, Harlowe, etc...

Seemingly awful names will be considered for at least middle names. We need to find the next generation's version of "Elva" - Margaret may complain about her middle name, but she secretly loves it.

So stop hording all the good names like you're hamsters and surrender them to us like you're French. We will be grateful like your annoying roommate at testimony meeting.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Fall Failings or Spring Thaw?

Jannalee mentioned that my blog postings have really slumped since I got out of school. The suggested reasoning is that I no longer had any studying to avoid, so I didn't get around to blogging as often. So you should expect a flurry of blog posts here now that my bar review class has started. Regular law school reading was downright fascinating compared to studying for the bar. Ugh.

Bar review coincided with the releasing of our final grades. I was pretty burnt out by the end of this third year and had stopped going to most of my classes in February, so I was pleasantly surprised by some of the results.

Maybe I shouldn't have been so surprised though. Throughout my law school career I've been pretty mediocre in the fall, and pretty good in the spring. In the 3 fall semesters of law school I've taken 36 graded credit hours with a cumulative fall gpa of 87.02. That's well above the median, but nothing special. This semester has brought my spring results to 37 graded credit hours with a cumulative spring gpa of 92.78. My fall gpa would put me somewhere in the top third of the class, while my spring gpa would put me somewhere in the top 5 kids in the class. As it is, I'll end up somewhere around the bottom of the top 10% of my class of 230 kids.

I have no idea what could explain the discrepancy. I'm typically much more burned out on school during the spring semester and the weather is also much nicer in the winter and early spring so I have more incentive to ditch classes. My job status and law journal work load were pretty consistent across fall and spring terms and the moot court work-load is actually much more intense during the spring semester. I would say the professors are just more likely to give good grades going into the summer, but I think I'm unique in at least the size of the disparity. I do get quite a bit fatter in the spring - maybe the extra calories work on my brain. Or not.

Another disturbing aspect of all this is how I could score 10 full points above the enforced median in classes I had completely written off. I was DONE this semester. Maybe law school should be shortened to 2 years with a 1 year residency requirement after graduation. Or maybe they should just offer classes in the spring.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

New Rules:

1. Non-lawyers are only allowed to make lawyer jokes if they (the jokes) are clever. Lawyers can make non-clever lawyer jokes because we are lawyers - you can't really think any worse of us. (see, that wasn't very clever, but you don't think worse of me because I'm already a dirty lawyer)

2. You are allowed to gripe about high gas prices OR global warming. You are not allowed to be a global warming alarmist and not be thrilled about higher gas prices.


4. Television habits have achieved sexual proclivity status. You're into what you're into and whatever you do behind closed doors is between you, your spouse and God. No one is allowed to criticize someone else's TV show preferences, unless they don't like Cash Cab. You don't have to think it's the best show ever, but you have to at least mildly enjoy a New York cabbie picking up random people and asking them trivia questions for petty cash.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Off Season Vacation

I had an amazing break in San Diego for the last few days. My very last four-hour final was on Tuesday afternoon. Margaret and Booker picked me up at school with Dani and we got right on the road after trashing my Federal Income Tax book. It was the first time in years that I didn't have a thing to stress. No school, no papers, no moot court memorials, no Lisa Foundation work, nothing until the Bar exam review course starts on the 28th. We stayed at Bec's beach house until Sunday morning. It was absolutely glorious. Booker posted some good photos on his blog.

One of the highlights came Friday morning. Bec and Joy had found this great little breakfast place that was built into one of those public restrooms that you see on beaches. They had good breakfast burritos, so naturally the place was nicknamed the bathroom burrito place. (And yes, we definitely made some fecal French toast and water closet waffle jokes - I think there was a urinal cakes reference thrown in there as well).

Anyway, we mosey on up to the bathroom Burrito place, when who do we spot packing down a bathroom burrito of his own?: That's twelve time pro-bowler Junior Seau enjoying a crapper coffee. And that's my sister Joy fondling his bicep. I was positive that was him, but I was too chicken to say anything. So I made Joy do it. She asked him if he was Junior Seau (though I think she pronounced it See-ow - when Margaret downloaded the photo she labeled it Junior Sallao), and then let him know what a big fan she is. Classic.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Sweet Science

One of the many decisions you have to make as a parent is what activities you want to enroll/encourage your kids in. Some people sign their kids up for everything and see what sticks, some target something like gym or dance or whatever and some just say they can do whatever they want as long as it's not (insert sport here).

So Margaret and I have a bit of a disagreement and we wanted to see what our blog readers think. I want to get Booker into Boxing as soon as he's old enough and Margaret thinks it's the dumbest idea ever.

For me, I think Boxing is great for kids. It's great for strength, flexibility, and endurance and does a good job of teaching all of those sports things like hard work and competition. It also gives kids toughness and a sense of real confidence. A lot of the Apostles boxed as kids and President N. Eldon Tanner introduced boxing in the school where he taught to "meet the needs of idle youth" Boxing is also good from an injury standpoint. You're much more likely to get hurt in a running sport, especially if there are collisions involved like in football, soccer, hockey, baseball, etc... Really you only have to worry about the occasional broken nose or something.

Some people think Martial Arts or something would work better, but I disagree. Martial Arts often is a lot more dancing and memorizing forms than hard cardiovascular and strength work. Plus there's a certain dork factor there.

Margaret's beef is that it's violent and teaches Booker to hit people, and that "he could get hurt, or his face could get mangled. Plus, have you ever seen Billy Elliot, he could hate boxing and just love dancing." I suppose she's got a point there. That Billy Elliot loved to dance.

So what do we think Blogiverse? Healthy athletic activity, or dream-strangling face-mangler?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Blubber Bling

I'm not sure why, but at some point in a man's life he starts listening to talk radio. I flip through the music stations sometimes, but 90% of the time I'm listening to Jim Rome or NPR.

On my way home from my Environmental law final I was dutifully listening to NPR. They were talking about the lamentable problem of type II diabetes in African American children. They had a guy on who was an activist dealing with this problem - mainly through faith-based initiatives trying to educate the people about healthy lifestyles - a sort of "what would Jesus eat" campaign.

Then they asked the guy what it was that made African American children particularly susceptible to overeating to the point of contracting type II diabetes. You would think that this would precipitate an anti-McDonald's diatribe linking poverty to forcing people to eat cheap, fast food and that those chains that offer that food offer exclusively fatty, unhealthy diets. You'd be wrong.

Instead, this guy said that the reason African American kids are fat is because of a cultural phenomenon that links weight to prosperity. This is possibly the dumbest thing I've ever heard.

This is America. Oprah and Al Roker notwithstanding, we do not view fat people as particularly desirable or successful. If anything we overvalue the absence of fat as a signal of prosperity. Seventeen Magazine does not put fat people on the cover because their audience does not want to be, or read about, fat people.

I also don't think there is some huge culture gap between African American kids and these common American cultural traits. I'll admit that I am not the world's foremost expert on African American culture, but does this guy really think that if you put two pictures in front of African American kids, one of a skinny guy and one of a fat guy and asked which one was wealthier, or better off, or more admirable, that those kids would pick the fat guy? Seriously? Black culture is often criticized for ostentatious displays of wealth, but when's the last time you saw a rapper or something pointing to his gut while making it rain in a music video? Fitty ain't got no belly and Jay-Z says he's "big pimpin' spendin' cheese." - I'm not sure what that means, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't mean "big pimpin' poundin' cheese fries."

It ended up totally changing my mental picture of the speaker. At first I some him as a middle aged black man - a black preacher type. When he said that all black kids in America just want to get fat to show how well off they are, I immediately switched him to an old white guy. You have to be stupid, racist, out of touch or all three to really believe that fat kids are strutting around showing off their pudgy opulence.

I was most disappointed that the show's host didn't call him on it, but played right along, at one point asking if maybe some black folks resented that after years of struggle they are now being told that they shouldn't show off their new prosperity. Come on NPR - you're better than that.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Goodbye NBA

In case you couldn't guess from my last post, I have an unhealthy interest in the Phoenix Suns. With another possible loss to the Spurs on the horizon, I decided to stop watching the games. It was too much. Before the games would start I would get that tense feeling in my chest and after every playoff loss last year I would stay awake and read analysis on azcentral.com and imagine what horrible things I would say to Robert Horry if I ever met him or what obscenities I was going to send in an email to David Stern. I lost sleep. It was not right.

So I cut myself off. No tv, no radio, no gamecast. I could check the scores after the game, but that was it. And it turned out to be a huge relief. Three straight losses to the Spurs and I haven't stayed up obsessing about throwing things at Bruce Bowen once.

So that's it. I'm out. This is my farewell blog to the NBA and then I'm not watching another Suns playoff game until we're in the finals. I just have a couple of observations, before I enter the world of the casual fan.

First, something has to be done about flopping and Hack-a-Shaq. It's disruptive to the flow of the game and demeaning to the sport. You should not be rewarded for either cheap theatrics or intentional fouls. A couple more years at the rate it's going and they'll be hauling people off on stretchers just for them to come back two minutes later like nothing happened like in Soccer. Man up folks - this is America.

One more thing. Kobe Bryant is not the MVP this year. The guy's a cancer, he wanted out, he wanted in, he doesn't know what he wants. He's selfish as all get out and didn't start winning - with a respectable supporting cast - until the Grizzlies gave away Pau Gasol. I don't even buy the argument that he's the best player in the league anymore. That would probably be LeBron. And he's definitely not the most valuable. That has to be a point guard right? Chris Paul would lead the list, but I would put Deron Williams and, yes, Steve Nash ahead of Kobe. Take those guys away and those systems grind to a halt. Take out Kobe, and Pau goes for 33 and 10 a night and Derek Fisher shoots more. Kobe's a great player, but giving him the MVP this year is like giving Scorsese the Oscar for the Departed. It's not the best movie that year, it's not even his best movie, but he was due. So give him a lifetime achievement award or something - he's not the MVP.

That's all I got. I will still hate the Spurs with an unholy passion, but at least I'm not losing sleep over it.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Some Wounds Take Longer to Heal

This time of year is one of my favorite times. It's warm, but not obscenely hot yet, baseball season has started, school is winding down and the NBA playoffs are gearing up. This year is a little different. The Spurs series last year has left some emotional scars. While the Shaq trade was made for exactly this series, I must prepare myself for the possibility of another early loss to the mother%$&*^#$% Spurs.

In my less composed moments, I have imagined what would happen if I were to run to into Bruce Bowen somehow on the street. In my head, the encounter basically consists of me verbally assaulting him until he is forced to beat the crap out of me. I used to think it was really awful for those fans who threw batteries or something at members of the opposing team, but now, I kind of understand it.

"But Clark," you say - "what if he's with his kids or something?"

Doesn't matter. My son has heard all kinds of bad language because of Bruce Bowen. It would serve him right to have some ear defiling of his brats due to his behavior. The same goes with Robert Horry.

So lets all hope for the Suns to win this series - preferably in 5 or 6. The last thing I need is to go into studying for the bar when all I want to look into is justifiable homicide.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Housing Crisis

So with the promise of employment on the horizon and in the spirit of my never-ending quest to avoid law school, I've been thinking a lot about money. Specifically, about houses and mortgages and investing (insert greedy young lawyer joke here). In perusing some of the information out there, I came across different arguments for paying off a mortgage early - as opposed to just investing the money elsewhere. The consensus seems to be that it makes more sense to pay your mortgage on schedule and put the money somewhere else where you can earn more interest on the investment than you are paying in interest on the mortgage.

This got me thinking. If it makes more sense to not pay the mortgage off early, wouldn't it make sense to not pay down your mortgage at all? Why not get an interest only loan, and then take the money you would have paid on the principal and invest it somewhere riskier with a higher long-term interest rate?

So I ran the numbers. On a $300,000 loan, paying interest only will net you an extra $291,695 over the course of a 30 year loan. I got that number by assuming that you are taking the home loan interest deduction on your taxes and that you are in the 20% marginal tax bracket for that deduction. I also assumed a 6.5% interest rate on the mortgage and an estimated return of 9% compounded annually on the investment. I then took the difference between what you would get investing the principal payment at 9% over the life of the loan and what you would get if you invested the difference between the interest payment on a normal mortgage and the interest payment of an interest only loan at 9%. (Here's my spreadsheet)

So over the course of a 30 year loan you would expect to pay an extra $167,171 in interest in an interest only loan. If you paid a normal loan and then invested that extra interest as you went along at 9% you would have $383,330 when the loan was paid off in 2038.

If, however, you pay interest only, you would save $300,000 in principal payments over the life of the loan. Investing that at 9% gets you a haul of $975,025 in 2038. Subtract the $383,330 you could have made investing the extra interest and the $300,000 you would have to pay to pay off your loan and you're still $291,695 better off.

Now, I don't think that 9% is an unreasonable rate of return (at 8% you're still $192,936 better off) and the numbers only get better if you have a higher marginal tax rate. Plus, you would still be earning the equity investment in the home as the value of the property appreciated (once the market rebounds and starts growing again).

So what gives? Why is anyone paying off their mortgage?

P.S. - yes, I justified this post by including the tax consequences of the different investment plans as a weird way of studying for Federal Income Tax.

Monday, April 7, 2008

I'll write a title later

I have been tagged by Jan to write a post about whether I am a procrastinator. Of course I wanted to get to it right away. Of course the reason I wanted to get to it right away is to avoid doing homework. I think the very existence of this blog is a testament to my interest and skills in procrastinating. And since I can't think of a single person besides Margaret who would not admit, when asked, to being a procrastinator, I refuse to tag anyone.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Novel follow-up

In the comments to the post about the decline of the novel as an art form, Melissa said:

"So all you're really saying here is that you aren't finding a lot of fiction you like -- which does not correlate to "no good fiction being written."

This struck me as pretty true as soon as I read it. I was substituting my preference for long-winded foreigners for "good" literature. Consider me chastened and enlightened. I will now continue to ignore most modern writers because I do not like them, not because they aren't good.

Monday, March 31, 2008


So, assuming I pass all of my classes this semester, I should be graduating in May. I have been getting emails from the school about buying my cap and gown and whatnot. The thing is, I could care less about attending my law school graduation. While I enjoyed my time at law school and I like a lot of the people here, I'm not going to shed a lot of tears about leaving, and I don't feel like I need a pompous ceremony for closure. I skipped graduation at BYU as well. So what do we think - should I go to my graduation? Would anyone want to come?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Lost Art of the Novel

I don't read a lot of books lately. I tell myself that it's because I don't have time with Law school and whatnot, but I still find time to watch a lot of Suns games and bad tv, not to mention keeping up with the news and this blog. I've probably got time. When I do read, I stick to classics. With the exception of John Irving (at Marg's insistance) I haven't read a book less than 70 years old in several years.
Maybe I am not looking hard enough, but I feel that the novel is becoming a lost art. The nineteenth century had a huge amount of great great literature. Dickens, Tolstoy, Proust, Dostoevsky, Joyce, Austen (sort of) - all wrote multiple works of great fiction. The early twentieth century had some great innovations as well with Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Ernest Hemingway, and some one-hit wonders like Harper Lee, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
In my humble and admittedly ignorant opinion, nothing that good is getting written now. I feel like every novel that comes out now is a gimmick. It's wonderful that people are writing about the experiences of Afghanis during the takeover by the Taliban; it does not mean that their novels are any good.
I have a theory for why this is so. I think that it is no coincidence that the what I see as the fall of the novel coincides with the rise of the film industry. Great novelists are necessarily great storytellers. So are great directors, writers and, to a lesser degree, actors. It is possible that the creative energy that used to be solely encapsulated in fiction writing has been diluted or preempted by other media.
It is also possible that I am one of the odd people that just really prefers styles of writing that have gone out of style. I don't think so though. If I can like Tolstoy, Dickens, and Hemingway, I must not be too particular about a specific style. If anyone has any examples of great (not good, but something more) recent novels, let me know and I will try to squeeze it in between episodes of The Real World and the Soup.

Monday, March 24, 2008


Does anyone ever get their entire March Madness bracket right? The odds just seem astronomical.

Who is still watching anything with Rosie O'Donnell in it?

Why is our number system based on 10's? Wouldn't 12 be more convenient since it is also divisible by 3 and 4?

Why haven't we moved away from the qwerty keyboard?

Why is popular sentiment so pessimistic about marriage when nearly half of all marriages go the distance?

Does something inherent in politics encourage infidelity?

Does the counterculture popularized in the 60's cost the world in overall productivity since it makes it "cool" to do self destructive, sometimes stupid things, or does it aid productivity by emphasizing non-conformity and innovation?

Is Tom Cruise really as crazy as he seems to be? Is it a result of his fame, or did that kind of narcissism help make him famous?

At what point does demographic profiling turn into bias?

In the afterlife, will I get to find out whether or not the Spurs series last year was fairly officiated?

Do black people think Marg and I are pretentious when they find out that we named our little white boy Booker?

When the earth regains its paradisaical glory, what will the topography be like? Will Pangea be reformed? Will the Grand Canyon still be there? What time-frame of the earth's existence will it resemble?

Does anyone else find themselves liking Ryan Secrest the more the Soup makes fun of him?

Shouldn't I be doing homework right now?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Thunder Dan

As Margaret will probably tell you, I am a Suns fan. I love when the games are on Fox sports because that means my man Dan Majerle is calling the game. I grew up watching Dan Majerle on those nineties Suns teams that went to the Finals in '93. Don't let the shorts fool you, he's the best color commentator on TV. Some gems from tonight's game against the Rockets:

(about Shane Battier) Well, Battier went to Duke so he's got that huge cranium to get in the way of your shot.

(about 41 year old Dikembe Mutumbo)
70-year old Gary Bender: Mutumbo didn't play against the Warriors last night because of their run and gun style
Dan Majerle: He's older than you Gary, so that definitely would have been an advantage for the Warriors.

(after a (frenchman) Boris Diaw play) Vous les Vous avec moi ah ha ha!

Gary Bender: Steve Nash looks like he's playing a little hurt.
(long Nash 3) DM: What did you stay in a Holiday Inn last night? He looks fine to me.

And his signature "Don't forget the coffee!" which fans of Good Will Hunting will recognize.

The words don't give it justice. Next time you get a chance to watch a Suns game, try to enjoy the unique stylings of Thunder Dan.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Brave New World

This is probably the coolest video game I've ever seen. Now how will they make it work with a Wii...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Follow up

Seven people voted? Seriously, that's all I get? Seven people? It appears I have grossly overestimated my readership. Slackers.

The "correct" answer, or at least the answer that Rob gave is 6:00 pm. So he works 6-6. I've had occasional days like that in lawschool, but never on a sustained basis. I definitely think that Rob has the right idea getting up super early so that he can be home early to spend more time with the family before going to bed. Poor Margaret would just have to get used to me being gone before anyone wakes up. Six isn't too bad for getting home though, I suppose.

The good news is that I just heard from Rob today and it looks like the Tucson firm is going to be giving me an official offer. The official offer will include the salary, benefits and odds and ends of what they will do should I take the job. I should get it in the mail either by the end of this week or early next week. I am pretty excited about it. I really was impressed by the people that I met at this firm and Tucson isn't THAT far away. Plus, at least I am now sure that I will not be facing graduation with a fat bunch of nothing on the horizon. That's worth several years of 12 hour days right? Right?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Tucson (cont'd)

We had another great interview in Tucson, and I'm definitely expecting to finally get a good job offer. You can check out the firm here. We had dinner with the junior associate at the firm. His name is Rob and he's been at the firm since he graduated from the U of A last year. He and his wife were very nice. They are LDS and are getting ready to have their sixth child in September. He said that the partners in the firm go out of their way to make sure that he is able to fulfill all of his family, church and work obligations. He said on a typical day he gets to the firm around 6:00 am, and that the firm makes sure he gets out of there to spend plenty of time at home. They are really generous people and I think this firm might be a great opportunity for me.

What I want from you people is to tell me if I were get to work around 6:00 am, what time should I be getting home? Please Vote - I'll let you know when Rob said he actually gets home in a couple of days so you can all know how great this job might be after I get a feel for how people are voting. Thanks!

Sunday, March 9, 2008


I had a good interview in Tucson this weekend. My favorite part happened after the main interview at the office when the senior partner, junior partner and I went out to dinner at a nice Asian pace. After an hour and a half or so, the senior partner had to go visit his wife who was in the hospital with a serious illness. After he left:

Junior Partner: "He really liked you. I'm nearly positive that you'll get an offer. I think you'd be a really good fit here."

My second favorite part happened while I was in the main interview at the office. Out of nowhere the senior partner asked what size my wife's feet were. I thought that was a little odd. I thought he was asking to try to get some sort of weird insight into the state of my marriage. Instead, he went to his office and got me a pair of shoe inserts designed to make high-heels more comfortable. Apparently the senior partner had used his years of experience with inventors to solve a common plight of modern women. You can check them out at http://insolia.com/ but you'll have to pay for your own if you want a pair, at least until I get the job.

So, finally, some good news. But honestly - Tucson?

There are a lot of people that love the whole desert vibe with the pueblo architecture and cacti in the yard. I am not one of those people. I like a lawn - something I can walk on barefoot when the weather's nice. If there is a house with a lawn in Tucson, I haven't seen it. I'm definitely not saying that I wouldn't take the job if it's the best offer we get. I would. It's still close enough that I could come to at least some of the family dinners. Plus, Tucson is really close to Mexico and it would be fun to head down to Rocky Point every once in a while. It's not too different from Phoenix I guess, and if we hate it, we can always leave a couple of years down the road.

And the firm may be a great opportunity for me for at least 3 reasons:
1. It's small- about 5 lawyers total in 2 offices. This means that I won't be a cog locked in a room doing due diligence. It also means that I get a lot of face time with the partners and consequently the chance to become a partner quickly.
2. Notwithstanding the size of the firm, they still handle sophisticated work from big-time clients. Boeing is probably the biggest name client and there are others. They also are by far the most involved with chemistry and biochemistry in Arizona. It's not even close.
3. The other new associate (there will only be 2 of us if I get hired, and he's only been there a year) is LDS with kids. I haven't been able to meet him (he was at Disneyland this week), but that's got to be good.

So it at least is looking like an option. I have another interview with a biotech company in Phoenix this week and we still are waiting to hear back from Prescott. If I'm really lucky, maybe I'll have more than one.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

My Peripherally Famous Father-in-Law

I ran across this interesting article in the Washington Post. If you remember, Booker's Baba is one of those "American and Iraqi leaders" referenced. Nice.

Business ideas

I've got two ideas for a business that someone needs to start doing immediately. First, someone needs to start outsourcing lawyer work. New lawyers frequently gripe about the kind of work that they are forced to do. They end up getting locked in a closet with boxes of documents and are forced to read all of them and sift through all of that information looking for the useful bits. A huge part of a lawyer's job is finding and organizing useful information for more expensive lawyers.

A lot of this work can be done overseas. Imagine of someone started scanning in all of those documents, sending them to India, getting all of the information sifted and then getting a nice, clean, report back. Smart law firms may even keep it in house so they could keep their billable hours high, but they could charge substantially less for the hours of Indian labor while keeping their margins the same.

Some people might argue that this would make all of those new lawyers obsolete, but I doubt it. Instead, that skilled labor force would be switched to more value adding tasks (analyzing and applying all of that aggregated information) - most of which are far more intellectual stimulating. Costs come down, more sophisticated legal representation becomes available for smaller costs, the whole system runs better and lawyers aren't so pissed about their work conditions. It's a win all the way around.

Second, someone needs to put a driving range and some tennis courts in a gym with a day care. If I could take Booker for a couple of hours and go hit a bucket of balls or play some tennis while someone else watches him I would get to the gym way more often. You could still charge me extra for the buckets, or include it in the monthly fee, or some mix of the two. It seems like such a small thing to combine those two individually successful business models. Plus, if husbands can take the little kids to go practice golf or tennis or something, then everyone's happier.

Someone give me some money and let's make this happen.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

On a lighter note

I have officially been published. My article came out in the Arizona State Law Journal that arrived from the publishers today. The official citation is 39 AZ ST LAW J. 1263-1286. If you are family or a close friend they gave me 25 hardcopies or so that I will be distributing. I would post a digital copy here, but I think it's bad enough that I force you to read these posts, 25 pages of legal writing may be a bit much.

Not So Moot...

Spencer and I had our moot court competition this weekend. It did not go the way we wanted it to. It will be a couple of months before we are able to see the actual scores, so until then we can only speculate about what on earth happened. I thought we had done well, and we ended up losing to teams that had no earthly business winning. One of the contestants that ended up moving on when we did not actually argued that the invasion of Afghanistan was the culmination of 18 years of careful diplomacy most effectively characterized by Colin Powell's testimony before the UN. None of us had the heart to tell him that that testimony was for the invasion of Iraq, and that it is generally seen as the low point of General Powell's career. The rest of this post is predicated on the idea that we did better than the judges realized. You've been warned.

One of the positive comments I got while arguing is that I am able to lie with confidence when I don't know precisely what I'm talking about. For example, at some point someone asked me what exactly had happened in a case that I had cited. I hadn't actually read the case in several months and mostly remembered the parts that I was using to help my argument. I was able to spout off four or five general sentences about the facts and holdings of the case to satisfy the judge. I don't remember exactly what I said, but I would guess that there is about a 20% chance that I got it all right. Critically, when I said it I sounded like I was positive that is exactly what that case said and meant.

The issue I'm having with this is not the lying. That would be easy to fix - I could just not say those things when I realize they are not true. The real problem is that I actually believed that that was what that case said when I described it. It's part of what makes me good at arguing. When I was arguing my case in moot court, I actually believed that our side was right. Of course, if I was on the other side, I'm 95% sure that I would believe that that side was right.

So it turns out that I have a talent for oral argument because I have a gift for self-delusion. What am I supposed to do with that?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Passing the Buck

Jan and I had a discussion about global warming at park day last week. Jan is a skeptic about global warming and thinks there is a good possibility that any global trends of warmer temperatures could be normal cyclical effects. I am far less skeptical. The mechanism that is most likely causing global warming is well understood, though the warming trend has been far less severe than would be expected by the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere since the beginning of the industrial revolution. I'm more of a Bjorn Lomborg environmentalist - I agree that climate change exists and may be a problem, but I disagree with most of the proposals to combat it. I think I am not averse to a revenue neutral Pigouvian carbon tax or an equivalent (auctioned) cap and trade system.

I'll give you an example why climate change remedies are problematic. Most of the projections for global warming look at negative effects that will become really problematic in 100 -200 years. If you expect economic growth to continue at the present rate, people living 200 years from now will be immensely more wealthy than we are now and the costs of climate change will be fairly easily mitigated. If economic growth continues at the current long-term rate of 2.3%, the average American in 2400 will have an inflation-adjusted income of over $350 MILLION. Technology change will further make the world a different place.

Consider, for example, whether you would rather have your life now, or trade places with one of the Rockefellers in the early 20th century. The robber baron families were immensely wealthy one hundred years ago. They could afford anything in the world. And yet - my relatively poor family has two cars that operate at a level of performance absolutely unheard of 100 years ago. We enjoy year round access to exotic foods, refrigeration, air conditioning, microwaves, convenient air travel, access to knowledge and information at a moment's notice, ESPN and ESPN2, Friday Night Lights, Cherry Coke Zero, snowboarding, wakeboarding, video games, movies, - basically every single thing on my top ten list of things that make my life more enjoyable has been invented or made widely available in the last century (besides family and books - though I certainly enjoy more time with my family than the Rockefellers and I have easy access to a huge amount of novels at the Mesa Public Library). Then there are all the things that we have that the rich used to pay people to do, but that we do in a fraction of the time because of dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, washing machines, etc...

It's not even close - Most people in contemporary America live way better than the richest people in the world even a century ago.

So after we take a minute to be grateful for all of those things that we enjoy, we should consider how different the world may be before we spend an absurd amount on saving some coastline in 2200. That doesn't mean we should do nothing; we just need to be smarter about the issues involved and what costs are reasonable given the circumstances.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Money! It's a drag

As my family, my friends, my acquaintances and virtually anyone within the sound of my voice knows, I am looking for a job. I know it's not true, but sometimes I feel like the last person in my graduating law class still looking for work. I've done most of the things that are supposed to help you get jobs, but it just hasn't really worked out for me. I've been lucky in finding something to do for now to keep us from starving, but I've yet to find someone who wants to pay me for practicing law full-time.

As frustrating as it has been, the process of looking for work over a prolonged period of time may be a positive thing for me. The default desire of any well ranked law school student is a high-paying job at the megafirm of your choice. As a second year student applying for summer internships, that's all I looked for. With most big firms hiring their second year interns or at least hiring third years before Thanksgiving it's looking pretty sure that a prestigious large firm job is not in my immediate future. As the prospect of all that cash recedes, I find myself feeling better and better about it.

The problem with the big firm gig is that they expect you to work to make all that money. Sixty hour weeks are common and those expecting to make partner need to push 2000 billable hours a year plus. That's 5-6 days a week, 10-12 hours a day. There is a supposed payoff at around 8 or 9 years in, where you make partner. Usually, however, the payoff is monetary and the hours remain. Most associates that start their careers at a big firm move on after 3 years or so.

That kind of lifestyle might not be for me. If I have one defining character trait it just might be laziness. Lazy ain't happy working that much. If perfectly normal, hardworking people can't hack the big firm lifestyle, what would that mean for me? There's an outside chance that I would enjoy the work and love the money, but it's a really really outside chance.

So, since the high life has looked me over and said "thanks, but no thanks," what kind of future am I looking at? That is the abyss into which I am now staring. There are various small firms in town here and in Prescott that I've applied to and some of them look promising. I guess I'll have to wait and see what happens. If you know anyone who is looking for a relatively bright, kinda lazy lawyer with a background in intellectual property and an interest in tax and property - you can tell them you know someone who's not doing anything at the moment.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Best Offense...

There's a good story in the Wall Street Journal about the extent to which Mitt Romney's Presidential bid was impacted by an Anti-Mormon bias. The story was also commented on by the Freakonomics guys. One of the telling statistics that was shared " . . . cites an NBC News/Journal poll in which 50 percent of the respondents said they had “reservations” or would be “very uncomfortable” about a Mormon becoming president, while 81 percent would be “enthusiastic” or “comfortable” with an African-American president and 76 percent with a female president."

Last year, the law journal was set to elect its new editor in chief from a Mormon woman (M) and another woman (N). They were both very competent people. I had interacted a bit more with the N and I really liked her and respected her. The Mormon woman had always seemed a little awkward and, for lack of a better word, kind of a goober. Sometime before the election I overheard N talking to some people in the Christian lawyers club. I forget exactly how they got onto the subject (I think they were actually talking about M), but they started making fun of Mormons. Something about how we were prudish - no alcohol, no sex, etc... - nothing too scathing, but it was done in a mean-spirited way. It even seemed to me that N felt that it was a bit inappropriate and it was an awkward conversation. I voted for M.

I was also a little appalled when this article talking about a fire started at a Mesa LDS church building had comments about how there were too many mormon churches in mesa anyway or that maybe they should have covered the church in special underwear to keep it from burning down.

Earlier this week there was a conversation in the journal office about politics and John McCain's or Mike Huckabee's chances of getting elected. I was there, sort of half participating, along with fat guy, a liberal mormon, and a geeky guy. Someone made some comment about Mike Huckabee wanting to harm anything Mormon and fat guy said it was a sentiment he absolutely agreed with. Liberal mormon laughed along with geeky guy, and I clenched my teeth.

So here's the point of this posting: How am I supposed to feel about this? Should I have said something when fat guy made his comment, or when I overheard N and co. in the rotunda? Part of me is getting angrier and angrier at things like this as I get older. Another part of me thinks that that is a silly reaction. I understand that it's better to laugh things off than to dwell on them, and that, by getting offended, I am only really making myself unhappy. Maybe I should just laugh these things off like liberal Mormon did. If someone made a comment about wanting to harm anything black, jewish, or gay, that would not be OK. Is this different? Discuss. . .

In Memorium: Brody

I wanted to post two quick stories by which I will always remember Brody.

Brody came around when the grandkids were just starting to show up. When Kylee was 2 or so she was kind of a bossy kid. Brody was already big enough to be a lot bigger than a bossy two year old. So whenever Kylee was around Brody, Brody would crouch down the whole time so that Kylee could feel big and in charge. I'm not sure anything could have made Kylee feel like she was not in charge, but still, it was sweet.

Another one was when Spencer had invited the Drama Club over for an end of the year barbecue. Brody was still pretty young and we were worried about him running around and bothering everyone and keeping them from enjoying their steaks. So I was supposed to tether Brody, appropriately enough, to the tether ball pole. Brody hated to be tied to anything and threw a fit when I did it. He ran full speed until the chain caught and jerked him around. I let him off after that so that he wouldn't kill himself. Brody slunk off to the corner of the yard and sulked. I felt really bad for chaining him up, and I took about 8 ounces of steak over to him to try to make amends. He wouldn't touch it. He just turned his head away from me every time I tried to talk to him and he let that steak rot right there on the lawn. He wouldn't come to me for 3 days. He finally forgave me, but it took a while. I never chained him up again.

I know everyone loves their dog, but Brody was really special. He had so much personality and was so eager to make his family happy. If you have a good Brody story, please leave it in the comments.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Big Defibrilator

I am in shock. News came out last night that the Suns were thinking of trading Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks for Shaq. I laughed out loud when I saw it. While it sounds fine for Miami, that's possibly the dumbest trade I've ever heard of for the Suns. Shawn Marion looked like he was created by God to play Phoenix Suns basketball. He's an athletic 3 who could defend anyone and put up 20-10 without having a play called for him. He also ran like a gazelle for 40-45 minutes a night and could finish a break as well as anyone.

Then there's Shaq. He's a 7'1'' 35 year old ex-all-star who couldn't run out the door if the building were on fire. He clogs the lane, eliminating the pick and roll for Nash and Amare and makes spacing more difficult for Nash's dribble penetration. Plus, he STILL can't hit more than 65% of his free throws. I just can't imagine a worse fit for Phoenix.

Which means that the Suns are going to have to adjust and adjust big if they want to go deep in the playoffs this year. Shaq isn't a complete bust - he's a big body that can defend the Tim Duncans and Andrew Bynums of the world, and he's a career 60% field goal shooter. Nash should be able to get him a lot of looks where he wants them and do something with them. Plus, this lets Amare finally move to the 4 for significant minutes where he's always really wanted to be instead of pretending to be a real center. It may also help with his foul troubles.

So Mike D'Antoni has got a huge project in front of him. He's going to have to find a way to make his brand of basketball work with an aging behemoth on the court and without one of the huge keys to our prior style of run and gun basketball. There is a very small chance that this works out well for us. If Shaq can get motivated and get in shape for another run at a title, he might provide a spark in the rough 'em up playoffs. Nash should be able to find someone to finish a break with Shaq inbounding the ball and bringing up the rear. Grant Hill may be able to provide some of the defense and athleticism that will be missing with Shawn gone and Boris may get more minutes and find more of a groove for himself. Maybe this move improves some of the chemistry issues that have been plaguing the team this year.

That's a whole lot of maybes. And dammit I liked the way the Suns played. It was fun to watch and fun to be a part of a basketball renovation. Even if Shaq is absolutely Shaqtastic and turns out well here, it's not going to be the same Suns team. That saddens me.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Not so Supers

Well, not mine

I don't want to talk about the Super Bowl. Curse New York and their football playing Giants. Curse Steve Spagnuolo and his genius. And curse David Tyree and his sticky helmet. A pox on all your houses.

So on to Super Duper Tsunami Whoop-Dee-Dang-Doo Tuesday. As my family knows, I do not vote. Partially for reasons articulated here, but mostly just to annoy the politically minded people who know me. For the first time in a long time, I am in the minority. Voter turnout today in Arizona has been estimated (by NPR this morning) to probably be greater than 50%. For comparison, voter turnout in a contentious Presidential election in 2000 was only 40%. Even I have been far more conscious of the election results and events than I am happy to admit.

So, what gives? Why the marked increase in interest in a primary election? I have two guesses: First is the unusual notariety of the candidates. Hillary Clinton is as close to Britney Spears as you can get in politics. Barack Obama entered the race because he became a rockstar because of his stirring speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. The Republican side isn't quite as glamorous, but sports a perfectly coiffed Mormon, a media beloved "maverick" and an ex-fat bible-thumping aw shucks populist who plays a mean base.

Plus, there is the polarizing nature of the candidates. Hillary is either the devil or a faithful public servant with the experience to be effective on day 1 and Obama is either a glorified lightweight or a political messiah. John McCain is either a democrat in disguise or a war hero centrist and Romney is either a right wing nut job, but only this week, or the last hope of the soul of the Republican Party. Mike Huckabee is just an idiot, but the kind of idiot that bible thumping, aw shucks types can really get behind. As if that weren't enough, there is enough bad blood between the candidates on all sides to keep the media happy and the public enthralled.
And that's all before Bill Clinton gets factored in.

I think the other reason for high public interest in the elections is a ubiquitous "the sky is falling" media combined with actual issues of great consequence. The war in Iraq has seen enough progress to become a legitimate issue for the voting public. The loud cries for American forces to get the hell out while the gettin's good have been replaced by more subtle arguments for and against maintaining troop levels for some time. In addition, while I am still skeptical of a full-blown recession, there is no doubt that the "sub-prime fiasco" has caused at least a substantial slow-down in economic growth which the media has turned into much more than a needed market correction. These things worry people, and worried people vote.

Personally, I don't know why I care more than I have in the past about the current state of American Politics. Some of it is that I enjoy feeling informed and wasting time when I should be doing homework. Beyond that, I definitely have more interest in Mitt Romney because he is a member of the Church. Though I consider myself pretty conservative, I think I align more with John McCain on issues like Iraq, immigration, and, to an extent, global warming (I also don't like earmarks and excessive spending, but I kind of hate McCain-Feingold). But for some reason, I find myself rooting for Romney in his primary contests. Like a Hillary Voter, I find that I galvanize more to Romney the more he is attacked. If absolutely forced to vote, I honestly couldn't tell you who I would choose of those two until I was actually casting the ballot. I'm not sure what that says about me.

At any rate, I expect to be one of the millions of people who will be watching the results closely as they trickle in tonight. Who will you be voting for (or if you are like me, rooting for) and why?

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Is this Racism?

I had an interesting experience yesterday while helping Russ move into his new apartment. Russell, Tiffany, two of Tiffany's cousins (an 18 year old and a 10 year old) and I were in a van on the way to Tiffany's parents house to pick up some furniture. The conversation turned to yet another cousin who had started dating "a black guy." He was actually some fraction black, I was never quite clear on his exact lineage. The question then was "...but does he act black?" To which the response was "No, he's nice." They then went on about the percentage black he was and whether he looked black and then the 18 year old cousin said "I know he looks black and everything, but does he act like, you know, a whigger or something." Now, as I understand it, whigger is a derogative term for a white guy who has over-embraced black culture. It's a combination of white and nigger. So by saying a black person acts like a white nigger, aren't you just asking if he acts like a nigger? And who really asks if a person is nice or if he's black?

And that wasn't all. Later, Russ asked about my presidential preference. This turned to a slight discussion of Barack Obama. Russell is convinced that in their heart of hearts the American public is not ready to elect a black guy. He said that even if he were elected he'd probably get assassinated or something. Now, I don't love Barack Obama, but I've always considered his race to be a strong positive for him. I think a majority of people would be excited for a black president as a symbol of national healing and a movement passed divisive identity politics. So I feel like Russell's view of the national mood on Obama is actually a bit of a reflection of Russell's view of how ready he is to elect a black president. Russell, of course, will swear up and down that he is not a racist.

So the question for me is, where did this subtle and not so subtle racism come from?
Russ and I grew up in the same house with the same rules and the same parents. The real difference between Russell and I and the rest of his family is his friends. Russell has had the same group of friends since he was a kid. Those friends tend to run in a demographic that has less education and less money than the family that Russell came from. Since racism is a result of ignorance more than anything else, it would make sense to me that that demographic would be more likely to have a race bias even than the hoity toity white world that we grew up in.

So here's what this little example tells me: Friends matter. The friends your children make and keep are vastly important on how those kids will turn out. You can teach your kids while they are young, but as they get older they will begin to see their parents as out of touch or square, and their friends will fill in as teaching kids what is normal. What is normal will then have a big impact on what they think is right or acceptable. As if parenting weren't stressful enough, now I have to worry about what everyone else is teaching the kids that mine are going to hang out with.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Charitable Giving to the Government

This afternoon I was doing my federal income tax homework in the law journal office. While I was down there I overheard two second year students talking politics. I will refer to them as fat guy and dumb girl. Dumb girl was eagerly telling fat guy about how she wouldn't mind paying more taxes. Fat guy was very accepting of Dumb girl's point of view and was very upset that President Bush had cut taxes just when the government was experiencing a tax surplus that could go toward oh so many worthwhile causes. They then tried to outdo each other in praise of Barack Obama.
This seems to be a popular sentiment (the not paying enough taxes - although outdoing each other in praise of Barack Obama is also popular). Even some with a great deal of money such as Warren Buffet seem to feel that the government does not tax them sufficiently.
President Bush addressed these people in his state of the union address tonight saying: "Others have said they would personally be happy to pay higher taxes. I welcome their enthusiasm, and I am pleased to report that the IRS accepts both checks and money orders."
Of course, no one actually sends extra money to the IRS. If I were to ask either dumb girl or fat guy if they had sent any extra money to the IRS they would certainly say no. If I were to ask them if they would be willing to send more money this year they would probably say that the money would only be spent on the war in Iraq or some other policy with which they disagree.
This, I think, is the point of conservative philosophy toward government spending. Of course the government is going to spend your money poorly - that is what governments do. That is why when people have money that they would like to spend on worthwhile causes, they give to the red cross, or to their church, or, if you are Warren Buffet, to the Gates Foundation.
The interesting question raised by all this is: if you give charity to the IRS, is that donation deductible?

Monday, January 28, 2008

In Memory of President Hinckley

President Hinckley passed away early Sunday night. In my lifetime so far, President Benson was the Prophet of my childhood and I feel that President Hinckley was the Prophet of my adult life so far. He was the president of the church when I received my testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel, when I served my mission, when I was married in the temple. I will remember his policies of stressing the Book of Mormon and of building temples and globalizing the church, but more than that, I will always remember President Hinckley for his unique sense of humor, his competence, and the feeling of caring resolve that he brought to the work of the church. I have also really admired the relationship President Hinckley had with his family. I loved seeing sister Hinckley speak when I was at BYU and at other times at various firesides. I was really sad for President Hinckley when she passed away a couple of years ago. It makes me happy to think of them now reunited.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Uhh... Enjoy?

I am not really sure how to do this. I've really been putting off getting my own blog because I feel a little self-important and odd self-publishing what is essentially a journal. However, in response to Elder Ballard's talk, I am going to try this out. In addition to the testimony sharing aspect of this, I will also be putting down any other 'insights' that I have that normally only Margaret would be subjected to. Just don't expect it to be good.