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Sat, Apr. 28th, 2007 12:17 pm

“They don’t have any fiber out there. They don’t have any wires. . . . They use my lines for free – and that’s bull. For a Google or a Yahoo or a Vonage or anybody to expect to use these pipes for free is nuts!”

~Edward Whitacre, CEO of AT&T 1

Released over a year ago, this quote has long since disappeared into the ether, replaced by more recent outrageous comments by more important people. Ed Whitacre made waves with his apparent indignation, as net neutrality proponents interpreted this as a clear indication that he intends to create a tiered internet, serving content faster from those sources willing to pay for it. 2

In my world though, this quote remains most relevant, as my recent past has been fully consumed by Net Neutrality. Somewhere in between the studying for Wills and Trusts, Evidence, and Con Law II, i'm writing a paper about Net Neutrality and the First Amendment. It's going extraordinarily well, as indicated by the fact that i'm here on livejournal.

Regardless, i'm irritated. And therefore i rant. (Which ultimately, might be more productive, cause otherwise i might sit here seething silently for a long time). Because i'm just not persuaded by Whiteacre’s apparent outrage. His indignation fails to consider the symbiotic relationship between his company and the companies who, he complains, expect to use his pipes for free. His pipes provide a method of content transmission, and this is undoubtedly important - but the system is only as valuable as the content available for transmission. The Internet would be virtually useless if companies like Google and Yahoo had not created methods for finding and sorting the content available on the Internet. End–users are willing to pay for access to his pipes precisely because of the companies that provide content.

If law school has taught me anything, it is to not assume that people believe what they say. Certainly, AT&T would like to be making more money. As the CEO, Whitacre's job is to make AT&T make more money. And if AT&T could charge Google to bring their services faster than Yahoo's, he'd just be doing his job. But i find this incredibly frustrating, because it's a completely irrational argument, framed in such a way as to sound rational to those only looking for soundbites. And irrational appeals to emotion...that's how we get to really bad policy decisions. 3

1 Christopher Stern, Op-Ed, The Coming Tug of War Over the Internet, WASH. POST, Jan. 22, 2006, at B01.

2 In related but quasi-irrelevant news, Ed Whitacre is retiring. I don't imagine this will substantially alter AT&Ts stance on Net Neutrality, but i'm not sure his replacement will be quite so prone to irrational outbursts, which might have a negative impact on my ability to rant about such things.

3 For more information, check out the SaveTheInternet.com Coalition

Current Music: Great Big Sea - Boston and St. John's


Mon, Apr. 23rd, 2007 04:29 pm

Having completed my final law school class session (which consisted of [not] drinking beer while discussing the second amendment), i feel that i ought to somehow solemnize the occasion. For the first time in my life, i can't say when i will next be sitting in a classroom, working toward some kind of degree. Fortunately, the magnitude of such an event is overshadowed by the fact that the next two weeks bring several finals, and i don't have time to truly dwell on this fact. Otherwise, there might really be tears (and not the joy-induced variety so common amongst my classmates).

Current Music: Five Iron Frenzy - All That Is Good


Sun, Apr. 22nd, 2007 07:43 pm

I'm currently working on a papar that i don't really want to be writing, about a topic where my understanding of the subject matter is just slightly more than superficial. I accidentally volunteered to write this paper, so now i'm suffering the consequences. Sucks to be me. By which i mean, suck it up and deal, for the word volunteer pretty much relieves me of any right to complain.

Except, tonight i'm my paper-writing nightmares are of the variety that most law students wouldn't even dream to fear. Searching through a little more of the literature this evening, i discovered that the professor who is responsible for the grading of this paper has essentially written my paper already. Arguing precisely the opposite position.


Current Music: Tori Amos - Toast


Mon, Apr. 16th, 2007 11:22 pm

the sun is setting on the century
and we are armed to the teeth
we're all working together
to make our lives miserably bleak
and school kids keep trying to teach us
what guns are all about
confuse liberty with weaponry
and watch your kids act it out

Current Music: Ani Difranco - To The Teeth


Tue, Apr. 10th, 2007 04:49 pm

April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land...

I know but one person who could translate the words of T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land into a theme party. Fortunately, this is the same person whose company i enjoyed Friday night, when she directed her friends (and acquaintances) to dress as famous people who died in the month of April. With appearances by Jesus Christ, William Shakespeare, Pope Jean Paul II, Howard Hughes, Lucille Ball, Tammy Wynette, this was undoubtedly the most star-laden party i've ever attended.

Unaware of the precise theme prior to my Cleveland departure, i had no opportunity to pack for such an occasion, but the Pope took it upon herself to accumulate a surplusage of April casualties so that everyone could join in the fun. She declared me the inventor of the Barbie doll, a role which i might have embraced more theatrically if i knew anything beyond the doll's origins in German porn. Other assigned representatives included Pol Pot and Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as a few of the thousands who died in the Rwandan genocide, the Titanic's sinking, the Armenian genocide, Chernobyl's big boom, the beginning of the American Revolution, the beginning of the U.S. Civil War, Columbine, Waco, and the Oklahoma City bombing. April has indeed been cruel.

After getting past the fact that mere attendance granted one a ticket straight to hell, the party was most enjoyable. The evening included readings from Julius Caesar, frequent sing-song mentions of J. Alfred Prufrock, and dramatic interpretations of 1930s self-help books. A little more literary than the law school parties. I suppose this is to be expected when attending a poetry-themed party filled with Hopkins Writing Sems folks.

I believe the best part of the evening though, was listening to a debate between two of Patrice's friends, who were arguing over whether Patrice has a posse, an entourage, or a cult following. Seems her Baltimore friends think she's every bit as wonderful as those of us from Wichita do.

Current Music: Jane Eyre - Children of God


Fri, Mar. 30th, 2007 11:47 pm

I propose that at the point that one is convicted of first-degree murder, labeling the convict's "relationship to the victim" as "friend" (for statistical consideration) probably mischaracterizes the interaction between the two. If it does not, and in fact they believed this to be a reasonable assessment of their relationship, perhaps both could have benefited from vocabulary lessons exploring the definition of the word friend.

Too late now, i suppose.

Current Mood: sleepy
Current Music: Elliott Smith - Memory Lane


Sat, Mar. 17th, 2007 12:13 pm

But we were born of risen apes, not fallen angels, and the apes were armed killers besides. And so what shall we wonder at? Our murders and massacres and missiles, and our irreconcilable regiments? Or our treaties whatever they may be worth; our sympathies however seldom they may be played; our peaceful acres, however frequently they may be converted to battlefields; our dreams however rarely they may be accomplished. The miracle of man is not how far he has sunk but how magnificently he has risen. We are known among the stars by our poems, not our corpses. ~Robert Ardrey


Wed, Feb. 7th, 2007 12:53 pm

Monday night, i saw Word Play. To quote my movie-going companion Tanya, "I'm a junkie for geek competitions," so i'm rounding out my week with Spellbound, and hoping the Netflix fairies will drop Word Wars in my mailbox this weekend.

Word Play made me laugh. Never in my life have i felt so very normal. (I am not; i have never professed to be).

Spellbound made me ill. It's child abuse. Barely literate parents thrust all of their hopes and dreams on kids barely old enough to cross the street alone. Trembling with pressure, these twelve year olds spit out letters til they lose all meaning, praying that with a lot of work and a little luck, they're offered words they've encountered or can catch with a guess.

And in the end? Fleeting recognition and $10,000 in prize money. Plus the privilege of then attempting to make it through high school while remaining Phenomenal and/or Outstanding.

Dear overbearing parents: if you want to be impressive, do it your own damn self.

P.S. I realize this sounds like the ranting of a disgruntled former child burnout. I am not. I made it through childhood woefully pressure free. I actually spent much of my childhood requesting that my parents offer me more pressure, so that i might feel compelled to do something Phenomenal or Outstanding. Mercifully, they refused to comply.

Current Mood: irritated
Current Music: Sufjan Stevens - The Black Hawk War, or, How to Demolish an


Sun, Jan. 28th, 2007 04:10 pm

Crippled by old age, my iPod has stopped displaying song titles. In fact, it has stopped displaying anything. It i touch the wheel, the screen lights up and reveals nothing. Useful as a nightlight, but little else.

One of these days, i will visit the Apple Store, hand them my broken iPod, and receive a newly refurbished model. (I enjoy the AppleCare Protection Plan, and have taken frequent advantage of its terms). But, this day won't arrive until i miraculously find a spare few minutes in which to make such a trip, so in the meantime i'm attempting to appreciate the positive attributes of an incapacitated iPod.

Such as? The rediscovery of my music collection. I can't select songs with any precision, for that requires some knowledge of where in the menu i am. So, when i magicially stumbled upon shuffle, i decided that was probably my best option, and have since just let it run. Apparently i have a lot of music that i never bother to hear. Some of it is music of long ago...Ben Folds and Dave Matthews play prominent roles in refreshing high school memories. But some of the most exciting tracks are one-offs...those that have seemingly just appeared, unattached to albums or artists or intentional acquisition. A couple days ago, i was walking down the street and suddenly found myself dancing to the theme song from Fraggle Rock.

When given a choice, i run into troubles with obsession. I have a computer full of music, and in any given month, i probably really listen to about five artists. Occasionally these rotate...but apparently i am a creature of habit. I'm kind of enjoying the forced deviation from routine.

In related news though...this will be the fourth time that Apple has replaced my iPod. I'm over the hype. For three hundred dollars, i want a music player that will last more than six months at a time. Anyone have favorite brands of the non-Apple variety?

Current Music: Amanda Palmer - Ampersand


Sun, Jan. 21st, 2007 01:55 pm

Wednesday morning after evidence, i walked out of class with my friend Tanya, making plans to dedicate the afternoon to preparing for future classes. Then i spotted one of my favorite professors and suddenly remembered that, though i hadn't bothered to write it down on my schedule, i was registered for a class, with this professor, beginning at that moment. Death Penalty Lab.

I hadn't written it down because I had every intention of dropping the course. I am in my final semester of law school. I need one class to graduate. I need ten credits to maintain full-time student status. Without this course, i was planning for nineteen. (I like school). But simultaneously, i'm teetering between types of honors, and i'd like to finish with the higher kind. As a general proposition, higher GPAs come more readily with fewer classes. Dilemma.

So, i went to the first class, still intending to drop. But then we started discussing the projects. In death penalty lab we don’t do direct representation of clients, but instead work on particular projects pertaining to capital cases. Last semester, one group wrote a cert petition to the Supreme Court. Another group has been scouring discovery from the Lucasville Prison Uprising cases, looking for inconsistencies in testimony and treatment of defendants. We write substantive arguments for general motions in capital cases, explaining, for example, why a judge who is up for reelection should recuse him or herself from death penalty cases, or why lethal injection as a method of execution constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

Somewhere within the first ten minutes of class, i realized that i wouldn’t be dropping. Here’s an opportunity to complete meaningful work on an issue that actually matters; Press and Society or US Intelligence and National Security, interesting classes though they may be, offer not the same incentives. The true concern now is figuring out which project i'd most like to address. Amongst those mentioned for the upcoming semester, i'm torn between two choices. One of the projects includes working on a statistical analysis of who is (or isn't) sentenced to death. One of the most shocking discoveries in this area, in my opinion, is that the statistical discrepancies regarding death sentences vary most apparently not on the basis of the defendant's race, but that of the victim. The highest rates come for black men killing white women. This project would look for further statistical correlations. The second project would involve writing (parts of) a capital cases for dummies type manual. Often times, lawyers appointed to death penalty cases practice in this area infrequently, and are therefore unfamiliar with the essential procedures. This project would result in the creation of a desktop manual, highlighting important details like calculating the statute of limitations for an appeal or filing a motion to stay execution (procedures which are apparently occasionally overlooked).

Again, dilemma.

Current Music: The Dresden Dolls - Delilah