ambivalent imbroglio home
May 11, 2006

Lights-Out, Then On Again

Dear readers,

It's been fun, but this ambivalent imbroglio is hereby closed for business. It became a lot more about law school than I anticipated, and now that law school is over...

But hey, when one door closes, another opens, right? You are hereby cordially invited to become a regular reader of the brand new blog on the block: the imbroglio!

Thanks to everyone who has visited, commented, and otherwise made ambivalent imbroglio such a rewarding project for me over the last three years. I hope you will join me in making the transition to what promise to be bigger and better things.

humbly yours,


Posted 05:27 PM

April 27, 2006

So tired of Moveable Type!

This site and others living on the same shared server have been down much more often than usual recently. Last night I got an email from Dreamhost saying that part of the recent problems is that my account has been using about 120 CPU minutes/day—twice what Dreamhost considers acceptable for a user on a shared server. A quick look at the logs shows that something close to 80% of that usage comes from two Moveable Type scripts—the scripts for comments and trackbacks. Thanks to an array of plugins (so many I can hardly keep track of them all), I haven't seen much trouble w/blog spam for a while—almost none of it makes it through to the blog. Unfortunately, just because I don't see it, doesn't mean it's not there. Thanks to MT 3.2's new “junk” system (in which comments get “junked” if they're spam, rather than being rejected), the spammers can still flood the system with comments and trackbacks. The filters will make sure I don't see it, but all that spam is still slamming the server.

So what to do? Close comments? Trackbacks are gone already. I've rarely found them very useful so I don't think I'll miss them. Close comments on old entries? Yes, ok, but the tools available for that all seem a little cumbersome for a blog w/1400 entries. Other than changing the name of the comment script on a regular basis (a hassle, at best), I'm just not sure what to do.

There was a time when playing w/all this blog stuff was just fun. When problems like this would arise I saw it as a little excuse to tinker and learn more about these things. But now I'm feeling a little more irritated by this sort of thing. Blogger/blogspot or even Typepad are looking better all the time. Is it time to move to WordPress?

Posted 10:20 AM | Comments (68) | TrackBack

April 22, 2006

Laughing at BigLawyers

If you'd like a daily bit of humor from the BigLaw trenches, head over to The Disassociate, a relatively new blog whose author describes it as:

one associate's attempt to see the humor, to focus on the lighter side, to find the fun. Somewhere along the way...repaying student loans, billing hours, monitoring salaries, many of us lost the sense of enjoyment, not about the law, but within the profession. Every day is funny, we just need to stop and think about it. I'll try to do that, but feel free to help. And just to be clear, I like working at my firm - I am just trying to get the fun back. Thanks for coming by.

Posts at “The Disassociate” are generally very short (usually one sentence) and generally worth at least a chuckle. One of my favorites is entitled “Crying out of the law” and reads:

When will these damned loans be paid off? If I have to attend one more associates' meeting to discuss the photocopier, toilet paper in the bathrooms and overnight word processing coverage, I am going to slit my throat with my law degree.

See? I told you it was funny. And in view of the upcoming graduation season, check out “Pomp & Circumstance”:

All I have to do now is pass the bar, find a job that will let me repay a $100,000 loan and bill thousands of hours per year. Dare to dream.

Ah yes. The golden future that awaits so many of us.... I hope to never concern myself with billing hours, but otherwise....

Anyway, if you're ever looking for a bit of law-related laughter, The Disassociate might be a good place to start.

Posted 11:16 AM | TrackBack

Happy Blog Birthday to Life, Law, Gender!

Denise is celebrating her 2-year blog birthday today—congratulations, Denise! As I said over there, Life, Law, Gender contibutes immeasurably to broadening the understanding of its readers and is unique (as far as I know) in at least the law school blogosphere. Denise writes helpfully and with great honesty about being transgendered and about how political and social developments are affecting the transgender and gay and lesbian communities. Those are obviously valuable contributions to the law school blog discourse, but Denise also has a vast amount of life experience in many other areas, as well, much of which she blogs about from time to time as a way of sharing some of what she's learned along the way. In short, Life, Law, Gender is a great blog and a daily read for me. If you haven't visited recently, I recommend you check it out. Oh, and wish Denise a happy blog birthday while you're there!

Posted 10:21 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 17, 2006

Blawgging for dollars?

Law Books for Less has just started a new affiliate program that will allow bloggers to earn 5% of every sale generated from their sites. You can redeem your commission as gift certificates or cash—your choice when you sign up.

This is similar to the Amazon Associates program, so it's nothing new. The difference is that law students must buy books, so is it possible they might try to help each other out by buying books through links on the blogs of fellow law students?

It's an interesting idea. What do you think, people? Want to buy all your books through the imbroglio from now on? ;-)

I used to be pretty down on all the different ways to scrape together a few pennies online. However, in the last year I've made enough through different referral programs like this to pay for all my web hosting (not a small bill) and then some. That means I (and everyone on get to blog for free and that's pretty cool. I have no desire to become some web entrepreneur (ok, not much of a desire, anyway), but at least until I get a job and a regular paycheck, not having to pay to blog is a really nice thing.

By the way, the Dreamhost Rewards has been the most lucrative source of income for me by far. Thank you so much to those of you who donated to the hosting of this site or signed up with Dreamhost and named me as your referrer!

Posted 04:22 PM | TrackBack

March 07, 2006

Say it ain't so, Half-Cocked!

Sadness. Mr. Half-Cocked says he's hanging up the keyboard. He's a 3L and says:

I have nothing left to say about law school other than incoherent rants about the state bar association and Bar/BRI.

That's exactly what I'm looking for these days—like-minded individuals! Bring on those incoherent rants, please!

As I said before, I understand the impulse to stop blogging. I've taken more and more frequent breaks from it myself recently (such as the last few days), but I'm still sad to watch blogs I've read regularly for years now start to drift away into internet oblivion. It's really too bad b/c I'm sure the next year of our lives (for those of us who are graduating from law school) is going to be packed with uncertainty and new experiences—exactly the kind of thing that makes for excellent blog posts and comment conversations. Law student blogs have become a great resource for law students to commiserate with and learn from each other as we all go through this roughly similar process. Why should that end at graduation?

Ok, I know why—or at least some of the reasons why. It's one thing to blog about how you were so scared you almost peed your pants when you were a 1L getting cold-called, but it's an entirely different thing to be a new law firm associate or other lawyer feeling exactly the same way. The two situations are very similar in how they make us feel—stupid, scared, totally unprepared. Yet, in the law school setting we feel free to blog about it because we know we're expected to be clueless, while in the work setting we seem to think we're expected to know what we're doing so we become afraid to admit to the world how clueless we are. That's silly, really. Anyone who expects a newly-minted J.D. to be anything but clueless about the actual practice of law is sadly misinformed about the nature of law school. We don't learn to practice law, we learn to live with huge amounts of debt!

Another reason I suspect recent graduates don't want to blog is that they aren't sure what they can say in their new lives as working attorneys. In law school you can talk about pretty much anything that happens in your daily life without concern about professional privilege or ethics or whatever. That's obviously not true once you've started working with actual clients and cases. Lawyers who have been at it for a while (e.g., Evan Schaeffer) probably feel more confident about what they can and can't say with regard to work. They are also not overwhelmed by the newness of their working lives and so have time and energy to think and blog about other things.

Still, it's possible to blog about the transition from school to work, about the bar exam and about being a recent grad just starting your first legal job. If you don't believe me, just check out Woman of the Law (WotL). As she noted in the comments here, she's one of the few law student bloggers to make the transition to practitioner blogger. And although she doesn't have much time to post these days, I know I'm willing to wait for each and every post, and I know I'm not alone.

I understand that not everyone can or wants to try to do what WotL is doing. Who knows? I may even end up hanging up the keyboard in the next year or so. But until that happens, I'll still be sad to see great law student blogs die as their authors move into the working world.

Best of luck to you, Half-Cocked. I'll stay subscribed to your feed so if you ever decide to post one of those incoherent rants, please know you'll still have at least one reader.

Posted 08:57 AM | Comments (1)

February 04, 2006

Blawg Wisdom Issues

If you haven't visited Blawg Wisdom recently you've missed a few great updates from myself and Kristine, including a request for input on the future of the site. If you have thoughts on that, I'd love to hear them, but here's something perhaps even more important:

Someone has somehow embedded some crappy pop-up ad on Blawg Wisdom! I don't have a clue how they did this except that the site was hacked around the new year and I assume they got this in then. The trouble is I can't see how to get rid of it. It's an embedded image on the page; you can't see it b/c it's an invisible gif but it triggers a popup. You can see it's there if you use Firefox and choose “Page Info” from the tools media, then click the “Media” tab.

So there it is. The question: Do you know how I can get rid of this? Looking at the page source doesn't reveal it, and it's not in the MT template, so what the heck? Any ideas?

Posted 02:27 PM | Comments (7)

January 27, 2006

Top-40 Flickr Interestingness Is Mine!

Screenshot of my photo on Flickr's interestingness page.I was happy to discover late last night that my recent photo of the Washington Monument and its reflection made it into the top-40 on Flickr's “interestingness” scale yesterday. The screen capture at right is proof! If you look through those “interestingness” pages right now the photo has fallen to around 75 and will probably keep sinking, but it's just nice to see it getting so much attention.

For you non-Flickerites, “interestingness” is some amorphous measure of how many times a photo has been viewed, commented on, and made a favorite by other Flickr users. So it's both a measure of popularity and of an image's ability to spark conversation or elicit a response.

My ambivalent images project will hit its 2-year mark on March 10, 2006. I wasn't really sure how long I would continue it when it started, and there have been times when it has just seemed silly, but it has also been a fun diversion and I'm really glad to have the odd sort of record it provides of life in the last two years. I started trying to cross-post some of the “best” shots (the ones I liked or ones that other people commented on) on Flickr both to give them a wider audience and because it helps me connect w/other photographers (both casual and more professional) and gives me inspiration by giving me a chance to check out what other people are doing. The only problem with Flickr is that it's like a very deep well and once you start looking in you have to be careful you don't fall in and get lost fo hours. I just today found out about all these great Flickr Toys and I can already see I'm going to waste a lot of time playing with them sometime soon.

Anyway, once I'm finished with school it's kind of up in the air whether I'll be able to continue posting a photo every day, but we'll see. For now, I hope you see one occasionally that you enjoy!

Note: If you've ever wanted to have a screenshot of an entire webpage rather than just the bit that fits into your screen at any one time, check out Papparazzi for Mac OS X.

Posted 09:58 AM | TrackBack

January 06, 2006

Hello, Accuracy

The Accuracy Blog appears to be a new blog about law school, politics, and current events by law student Chris Laurel. In one recent post he/she decries the sorry state of legal education and proposes a relatively simple fix: more frequent testing to measure progress and more teaching assistants to help students learn. That sounds like a fine start to me, although I would still add that the 3rd year seems unnecessary, at least in its current “more of the same” form.

Anyway: Welcome to the law student blog thing, Chris!

Posted 03:12 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

November 13, 2005

At First I Scoffed

I just noticed that I was tagged by MeSawYou a couple off weeks ago. Oops. My assignment was:

1. Go into your archives.
2. Find your 23rd post.
3. Post the fifth sentence (or closest to it).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
5. Tag five other people to do the same thing.

My 23rd post was about spinning (as in pedaling fast to music on a stationary bike), which I really love(d). (I know I'd still enjoy it, I just haven't found a good place to get back into it since I moved to DC.) The fifth sentence was:

At first I scoffed.

I couldn't ask for anything better. Hard to believe that was on September 1, 2002. Have I really been doing this for three freaking years? I know, that's not that long, but still... Is that something to lament or be proud of?

Anyhoo, the final part of the assignment is to “tag” five other people, but I'm pretty sure most people I can think of have been “tagged” already. Still, I'll give it a try:

  1. Energy Spatula
  2. Mackenzie
  3. Greyhame
  4. Sui Generis
  5. Audacity (who we should congratulate for officially becoming a lawyer, so: Congratulations! Those 70% out-of-state bar passage rates in Georgia are very scary for those of us planning to take bar exams in states where we didn't attend law school....)
If you get this tag and can't respond, I understand. That's how these things go....

Posted 10:38 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 02, 2005

Comments Problemos

Dear Readers,

If you have attempted to leave a comment here in recent weeks and never saw it show up on the site, I apologize. Since I upgraded to MT 3.2, I've been trying to figure out the optimal settings for its new spam filter. Apparently, I had the setting turned too high and all of your great comments were getting junked. I believe I have fixed that and your comments should now appear as soon as you post them (at least for the most part). I will also start watching this more closely in the future. Again, I apologize. Your comments are pretty much makes this worth doing, so please comment early and often. Thanks!

p.s.: Is Typekey authentication working for anyone?

Posted 08:39 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 09, 2005

Welcome to the MT 3.2 Imbroglio!

It's done. I think. This blog and several others running on the same install are now running on Movable Type 3.2. I used these instructions to complete the upgrade; they were supposed to make the process safer somehow, but I really don't understand how. Whatever, it seemed to work and that's really what counts. This will mean next to nothing to you, but hey, I just wanted to share.

Even neatoer, I finally got the bits box to operate properly so that I can just post some quick links w/out making any “regular” post to the blog. And thanks to Andrew Raff, I also now know how to control the number of entries that appear on this page. (So basically I resolved the two problems I complained of here.) Again, this will mean little to you, except that it makes me a happier blogger, and that's got to be good for you somehow, in a really super-attenuated way. Maybe.

One other change you may or may not notice is that the blogroll is a little different (on the left). I used to have several different categories of links that were coming from rss feeds via the MT-RSS plugin. However, that plugin is apparently no longer being supported or isn't compatible with 3.2 or I just couldn't make it work (I don't remember; I didn't try very hard), so instead the blogroll is being generated by the Blogroll plugin, which I really like and highly recommend. It allows you to create categories of links, annotate them, and display them in all sorts of ways. I'm still going through the links to try to get them all in appropriate categories, so bear with me as I work through that. What's kind of sad is the number of blogs that are dead, gone, or just on really long breaks. I keep finding them and it's a bit depressing. It can also be confusing. For example, what the heck has been going on at Inter Alia recently? It sounds like there's a big blogging scandal at SW Law but I haven't been able to figure out how it all started or what it all means. Has anyone been following that?

Anyway, welcome to MT 3.2. Enjoy! And if you see funky things that you think were unintentional, please let me know.

Posted 03:02 PM | TrackBack

October 08, 2005

GW Law Profs Blogging Like MadMEN

I noted the other day that GW's SBA seems to be getting its online house in order, but I would be remiss if I did not also note the veritable explosion of GW professors entering (or already in) the blawgosphere. As far as I know, blogging GW professors include:

Ok, so that's only four, but hey, what other school has that many? Yeah, University of Chicago maybe, since it just started its Faculty Blog, but that's kind of cheating, isn't it?

And speaking of blogging professors, why are so many of them male? Or to put it another way, why are so few female?

Ok, I am so wrong about GW's 4 blogging profs being even a little impressive. According to The Conglomerate, the U of Wisconsin Law School has about 16 faculty blogs, at least two of which are by women—Ann Althouse and Nina Camic. And, of course, Christine Hurt is another female professor blogging at The Conglomerate, so maybe there's more balance out there than I realize. Her institution, Marquette U. Law School, also has at least six faculty blogs, so again, GW's four is looking more anemic all the time.

Still, even if GW is not on the top of schools in terms of numbers of blogging profs, these four are four more than existed (or at least four more than I knew about) when I started school two years ago, so I consider this great progress. Blog on, GW profs, blog on!

Posted 10:47 AM

October 04, 2005

Argh, Maties! Bloody Spammers Be Improvin'!

Spam spam spam!
How I loathe spam.
All day all night,
try as I might,
I just can't stop the damn spam!

So have you seen the new comment spam technique? The spammer signs the comment w/an average sounding name (rather than the usual random numbers and digits gibberish) and uses a legitimate blog URL for the “return” url field. The links in the body of the comment are also legit—they go to what appear to be legitimate and innocent blogs. And that's it. But the text of the comment doesn't make logical sense. It starts w/the usual stuff like “I really like your site” or whatever, but then it will just have a couple of these links and some nonsense text. Fine. It looks like spam, but fairly harmless spam. So why would this be worth a spammer's time if it doesn't even point to any spam-like URLs?

The spam URLs are hidden! I don't know how they do it, but the comment itself does not show that there are additional spam links buried in it somehow. However, when you run it through Blacklist, the spam URLs show up to be blacklisted. How do they do that?

I need to upgrade this MT install to MT 3.2! For those who have upgraded, are you finding your spam woes have decreased?

Posted 08:48 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

September 28, 2005

Althouse Express!

Althouse-Express AiCongratulations to Professor Althouse for being quoted on page 37 of Tuesday's Express newspaper. The paper is available here in PDF format (caution: huge file!), but the relevant portion is reproduced at right (click to enlarge). The paper quoted Althouse's comments on the risk that the flood of money into the hurricane-ravaged areas of the gulf coast will lead to a different form of looting as unscrupulous individuals and corporations vie to get their hands on those recovery dollars.

Somehow Althouse seems to have become something like an A-list blogger—she's on lots of radar screens. Is this because she's a law prof and therefore has some kind of automatic credibility? Is it because she claims to be a middle-roader politically? Or is it simply the fact that she posts so frequently and on such a wide range of topics? The world will probably never know.

Oh, for those not familiar, the Express is a tabloid daily that's printed by the Washington Post and available for free throughout the city (but predominantly around metro stations so people can read it on their commute).

Posted 10:02 AM | TrackBack

September 13, 2005

Blawg Review #23: The Dynamic Sortable Table Edition

Holy cow. Check out the coolness that is Blawg Review #23 at Preaching to the Perverted! It's brilliantly organized using a dynamic table that lets you sort its content by post title, content descritption, post author, and topic of post. So instead of reading through the links in the order Dave! decided to present them, you can read through the links in whatever order your heart desires. Pretty snazzy, Dave!

In addition to being technically super-spiffy, this edition of Blawg Review also containssurprise!some terrific links, including:

Robert Ambrogi: "Lawyers including Ted Frank, Glenn Reynolds and David Kopel are calling for the shooting of looters. I am appalled that members of the legal profession would call for unbridled, vigilante street justice. This is contrary to every fundamental principle we should stand for as lawyers." I couldn't agree more.

White Collar Crime Prof Blog: "Richard Hatch, the first Survivor winner, has now been indicted on ten counts of tax fraud and using funds intended for a charity for personal expenses." Greedy greedy.

But wait a minute. If I tell what all the great links are, you won't read the Review. So go there, ok? I'm apparently supposed to do another of these things in about two weeks and there's really no way I'll be able to top this so enjoy it while you can....

Posted 09:35 PM | TrackBack

August 29, 2005

Blawg Review 21 & 22

The latest edition of the carnival of law blogs, Blawg Review #21, is now up at My Shingle and it's packed with great links to some of the best content around the blawgosphere, including: Should law profs wear jeans? Carolyn Elefant says no, and while I admire her greatly, I respectfully disagree. Law is far too stuffy and the dress code at every level is exceedingly ridiculous. Law profs should wear jeans and lawyers should wear jeans and judges should wear jeans. Law should not be the province of those who dress “correctly”—it belongs to the citizens of the nation it helps govern and only a small fraction of those people can afford or want to wear monkey suits and all the rest of the extraneous trappings lawyers seem to think are so important. This is yet another reason I hope to someday practice law in the Rocky Mountain region. Sure, there are firms there that require the monkey suit, but if you head out into smaller communities you'll find that “dressing up” means nice boots or shoes, jeans, a clean button-down shirt (often western cut but not necessarily), and a sportcoat. Boots, tie, and cowboy hat optional. That's much more my style.

Yeah, you can take the boy out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the boy. And yeah, standards are different for women, but they are also more relaxed, I believe.

If you think about this as a pedagogical question and ask what kind of message you're sending by your dress, there are obviously arguments on both sides. However, I read the support of suits as a silly ploy for power, an attempt to “establish authority” in the classroom. Authoritarian classrooms, like authoritarian regimes, suck, and that's just one reason law school often sucks. So do your students a favor law profs and drop the silly games. Wear what you want and be a human being, not an “authority figure.”

Oh, and just to add to the mix: I had a prof last year at GW who wore some kind of leather-like pants. He never wore a sportcoat or blazer, and I'm pretty sure he wore jeans a few times. He also had some wild shirts with flames and other crazy decorations on them. He was a little goofy, but his dress code didn't make any difference to me. I'm glad he wore what he was comfortable with. Everyone should do that.

TANGENT! Anyhoo, once you've finished reading all the great stuff there, be sure and follow these submission guidelines to send your posts in for Blawg Review #22. The host will be Blawg Wisdom and the theme will be “back-to-school.” But while the focus will be on that theme, #22 will obviously include posts on a wide range of topics. So find a good post or two—either your own or something you read from somewhere else—and send it in. And thanks for playing!

Posted 10:47 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 13, 2005

BlawgCoop Welcomes Mother In Law!

Welcome to Mother In Law, the most recent addition to the BlawgCoop, the co-op for law-related blogs. LawMom has moved to BlawgCoop from her old home on a for-profit blog service where she was feeling the pinch of a monthly fee. She'll be starting law school this fall, and like many other law students, she was concerned that in addition to taking time away from studying, that monthly fee meant her blogging was also taking money away from her wallet. Her solution? Move to BlawgCoop and blog for about as close as you can get to free!

LawMom joins Half-Cocked, Divine Angst, Bad Glacier, Legal Fictions, and Blawg Wisdom at the 'Coop, and if you'd like a Movable Type or Wordpress blog w/very little cost or hassle, you're always welcome to join them.

Posted 02:59 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 08, 2005

Ambits Problems: Suggestions?

Ambits-ProblemSince I reintroduced the new ambits format a few weeks ago I've discovered a couple of problems. The first is that if I try to post ambits w/out posting anything to the main blog, the variable statement doesn't handle it right and wraps the previous day's post into the ambits div. Does that make sense? If you click the image on the right you'll see a snapshot of what I'm talking about. I'm using this code but I don't exactly understand what all of it is doing so I don't know what to change to make this stop. I'd like to be able to post ambits-only on some days when I don't really have anything to say or the time to say it.

The other problem is simply that that code only appears to allow me to display about 4 days worth of posts on my main index page. If you look at that code, can you tell whether there's some variable there to change that? Normally I'd be looking for an MTEntries n=“x” tag, but there's nothing like that in this code. I think it might be replaced by the MTSQLEntries tag, but that's followed by all the stuff I don't really understand. Do any of you w/more web fu understand this? Any suggestions? Thanks!

Posted 07:06 AM | TrackBack

July 31, 2005

OPML Editor for Mac!

OpmlI started playing with Dave Winer's new OPML Editor on Friday, but really I was just checking it out because at the time it was Windows-only. No longer! The Mac version is here!

I wrote about the OPML Editor about a month ago—just sort of thinking out loud about how it might be helpful to lawyers. I don't have anything to add to those ideas yet, but after playing with it just a little I can say it's definitely fun to use and it shows lots of potential. The fact that it's open source means any programmer who sees that potential can try to turn it into reality, and I'd put money on there being lots of great applications of shared outlines and outlines-as-blogs by, oh, I don't know, this time next year.

Why does this matter? How about this: Law students could create “instant outlines” of their class notes. Everyone in the same class could subscribe to that same outline. Whenever anyone updated the outline, everyone who was subscribed would instantly see the changes and have them in his/her own notes. Talk about the ultimate outline. Sure, it could get out of hand, but like I said, the potential is incredible.

Oh, it's also a blogging tool. That's cool, too, especially the fact that it doesn't use a web interface to control the blog and the way it's so easy to create new posts -- just hit return! However, the coolness will be limited until you have more control over where you host your stuff. It's also based on the same back end that Radio Userland was built on, so it works the same way—a mini-server on your desktop. That's obviously got its own pros and cons, but I think the pros are bigger.

p.s.: I am thrilled there's now a Mac version of this tool. The dock icon for the Mac version of the outliner totally blows, though.

Posted 10:54 AM | TrackBack

July 25, 2005

Ambits Is Back!

Since the last redesign of the imbroglio I've been missing the ambivalent bits sidebar from the old design. Ambits provided a way for me to point readers to interesting things I'd noticed around the web but which I didn't have time or desire to make the subject of a regular post. The only problem was: No one seemed to read it.

Now, thanks to Andrew Raff and his link to this terrific Hit Or Miss tutorial, ambits is back—and better than ever! Now, instead of being relegated to a sidebar that no one reads, each day's bits will appear at the top of that day's blog entry in this main column so you can't miss them. (I thought they might also appear in the RSS feed, but I guess not. Sorry.) The bits are offset by being slightly indented, smaller, and on a light grey background. There you'll find links to random things I find interesting or entertaining. Generally the bits will consist of the headline or title of whatever I'm linking to, plus the most important, pithy, or memorable sentence in that piece. If you see something in italics, that's my own commentary on the link. Enjoy!

Posted 05:34 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 16, 2005

This Is No Modern Romance, Spam Edition

Hi. Could it be? Almost two weeks without a post?

I apologize for being away for so long. As I mentioned the other day in a comment, our trip was a bit more adventurous than we'd planned or expected and it's taken a bit more time than I thought to get back into the usual ebb and flow around here. Long story short, our car broke down on the way home from Michigan and we rashly decided just to buy a new one rather than fix it. So L. and I are now the ambivalent owners of a brand spanking new, 2005, “sunburst orange metallic” Chevy Cobalt sedan. She likes it because it's orange. I like it because it has cruise control. Yay! We spent nearly 8 solid hours trying to get the stupid thing inspected and registered today. Not yay.

But there will be time for more about that later, especially over at ambivalent images where you will soon find plenty of pictures, I hope. For now, part of the catching up comes from the fact that I was greeted upon my return with a big steaming pile off spam spam spam! Apparently, this and other sites on our shared server have been getting attacked w/so much spam it's been shutting the server down. This led to intermittent disabling of comments, and that might happen again. It also means the server seems glacially slow (at least from my end). And worst of all, Blawg Wisdom appears to be hosed in a completely mystifying way.

So, I apologize for all of that, and I hope to have everything back to normal ASAP. If anyone has any ideas for good spam control on MT (yeah, right) or if you understand what that stupid “parse error” is when you load up the Blawg Wisdom home page, please let me know. As far as spam control goes, we've checked out the spam guide and we're already using MT-Blacklist, MT-DSBL, and we've turned off commenting on some older entries. The next step may be a captcha, but I'm certainly open to suggestions.

Posted 04:06 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

June 29, 2005

Hearsay Exception: Blawgcoop Throttled!

In a first, Dreamhost, my host for this domain,, and others, sent me an email today that said in part:

This is just to let you know that per your request, we have now “throttled” your domain

I was sort of expecting that, since earlier I'd noticed a certain Hearsay Exceptions Movie was getting a lot of hits. It turns out someone named “Will” at MSNBC found it interesting (scroll down a bit), and apparently, lots of people follow links from Will's site. Will was kind enough to link to another version of the movie hosted elsewhere, and after a bit of adjustment, things are now back to normal. (I had the “throttle” threshold set pretty low and simply raised it to accommodate the extra traffic.)

For the record, this cool movie originated with Energy Spatula—one of her classmates made it for evidence class and was kind enough to share it with her, then I posted it on Blawgcoop because she wasn't sure where to host it. I'm telling you, this guy should make a whole series of Law Schoolhouse Rock videos! His audience wants more!

Being the geek that I am, I only hope that someday I will create something remarkable enough to shut down this website. You know you might be a web geek when...

Posted 10:32 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 15, 2005

I'm Just, um, Catching Up

So what happens when you post to your blog nearly every day for a while and then suddenly stop for a few days with no good explanation? Apparently you get amusing email like this:

Listen here [expletive of endearment],

The only joy I get all week is to read your blog and natalie dee every morning and Gene Weingarten and Tom Sietsema's chats once a week. The rest of my time is spent giving birth—trying to learn things I didn't learn the first 1 billion times I tried, like con law. Don't give me excuses like that you are busy “helping people” and trying to make this world “better” by protecting people's “rights.” Just write thoughtful, insightful and clever shit every day. OK? And post it nice and early so I can read it during barbri.

Don't you just love it? I need more friends like this. Now that it's summer and I find myself living in a steam table.... oh, and since my days are a little longer than they are during the school year, well.... it's not that I don't want to post so much as there's just not always time. But hey, for you? I'll see what I can do. Thoughtful, insightful, and clever I'm not so sure about, but if all you're looking for is something more interesting than BarBri, that's a much smaller order and one I think I can fill. I'll try, anyway.

Ten things:

  1. Blawg Wisdom has a new request for advice and a new Books category, both waiting for your generous and inspired commentary and input.
  2. Dave! has picked up and run with the weekly law student blog roundup ball with a short but sweet snapshot of what's happening recently. Thanks to Dave!, this feature should be moving to Blawg Wisdom soon.
  3. Energy Spatula is back in D.C. and she's already causing trouble. Welcome to town, ES!
  4. Feeding my Mac obsession: Are Apple and Intel really going for broke against Microsoft?
  5. And my political obsession: People love to bash Howard Dean but how can you not love stuff like this: “My view is that Fox News is a propaganda outlet of the Republican Party and that I don't comment on Fox News.”
  6. “Either you repeat the same conventional doctrines everybody else is spouting, or else you say something true, and it will sound like it's from Neptune.” --Noam Chomsky
  7. PledgeBank: Raise money for something you care about.
  8. ConnectviaBooks: Make friends with people who like the same books you like? Hmm.
  9. Chicago Crime: A freely browsable database of crimes reported in Chicago. What a cool use of Google maps.
  10. My thumb hurts.

Posted 06:42 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 31, 2005

Marathon, Whitman-Walker, and Ads on ai

Hi. I am currently training with the AIDS Marathon Training Program to run the Marine Corps Marathon this October. Participants in the program each raise at least $1700 in donations for the Whitman-Walker Clinic in D.C. The clinic provides comprehensive medical services to the D.C. community, and is especially committed to ending the suffering of all those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. Your donation will help ensure the clinic can continue to provide its vital services to the D.C. community. To get an idea of how important those services are, check out this startling fact: D.C. has the highest per-capita incidence of HIV/AIDS in the nation! (More from the CDC.)

If you have ever wished you could do something nice for the Imbroglio (because, well, why wouldn't you wish that?), or if you would like to help out the Whitman-Walker clinic, or both, please make a donation today. Thanks!

About the [nevermind. This has been edited to comply with commercial restrictions]. help me meet my $1700 fundraising goal.

Posted 09:26 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

May 30, 2005

Welcome to ai Version 3.0

And just like that, the imbroglio is all fresh and new. The biggest changes are obviously to the banner and the move back from two to three columns. Long-time readers might recall that the original imbroglio was a rust-colored three-column design, so this is something of a return to the imbroglio's roots. The banner is another story. I've already received feedback that the blue bar behind the title should go all the way to the top of the page. Does anyone else think that would be a better look?

Aesthetics aside, the purpose of this redesign was twofold. First, I was just tired of the old look. It's nice to shake things up once in a while. I wanted something simpler, cleaner, perhaps easier to maintain. To that end the new page is missing several of the sidebar features readers said they weren't even aware of or rarely read. These include the ambivalent bits links blog which was fun for me but for few others, apparently. I'm planning to incorporate links like that elsewhere, or perhaps restart the feature if I find I miss it. Other missing “features” include ambivalent comment (which I'd never fully implemented anyway), the audioscrobbler recently played tracks sidebar, and the ambivalent voices sidebar. Again, some of these may see new life someday, but for now it's nice to have a slightly simpler page. There's obviously still a lot of content packed into this page—too much, some might say. What's here is useful to me, and I hope you find it so, as well.

The other main reason for the redesign was the marathon I'm training for. You may notice that the right column is dominated by a request for support in this endeavor. I have no idea if it will lead to anything, but I figured it was worth a shot. I played with the idea of placing some Google ads on the page to generate marathon money, but then I read here that I probably wouldn't make more than $1-2/week and I decided it just wasn't worth it. My intention is not to offend anyone by asking for money, but to make it easy for anyone who might desire to donate to do so. It's a terrific cause and all donations are tax deductible! I'll be writing more about this as the summer progresses, but anything you can spare will be a great help, both to me in my own fundraising goal, and more importantly, to the important work of the Whitman-Walker Clinic.

I think that's about it other than to note that this redesign took far longer than I expected. The technical work involved is not so great, but I think there's a psychological hump to get over when you're planning to reformat thousands of pages in one fell swoop.

For those of you reading the RSS feed, please click on through and tell me what you think. For those of you viewing the actual page, well, what do you think? Love it? Hate it? All feedback is welcome. I aim to please so if anything does not appear to be working or if anything is hard to read or difficult to understand for some reason, please let me know.

Posted 09:39 PM | Comments (20)

Redesign in Progress

Just a quick warning that I'm about to update the templates on this site. If things get very funky, this is why.

Change is good, right?

Posted 08:09 PM

May 29, 2005

Black Background Blogs

In my ongoing but sporadic and completely self-serving series of polite and humble requests to bloggers everywhere: If your blog has a black background behind light text, can you please please reverse that? The light text on black (or other really dark color) background is very hard to read. If you'd like a black background, why not put that background around all the margins but keep the background on the main column of text light? That's what I've done here at the imbroglio and many other bloggers have done the same. It's just much easier on the eyes and is therefore more reader-friendly. You want to be friends with your readers, don't you?


Other posts in this series:

Posted 07:29 PM

May 27, 2005

Blawg Wisdom Needs You

Blawg Wisdom has been updated with a new request for advice about choosing between Loyola and Southwestern law schools. Please head on over and offer any tips you can think of, either about those schools specifically, or making the choice more generally.

Unfortunately, this is the first update to Blawg Wisdom in weeks. I frequently come across posts I think would make good links there but then I forget where I saw them before I have time to post them. Plus, I just don't have the blog-reading time I once did. Bottom line: I can't find all the good “wisdom” about law school on my own.

So: Would anyone like to help keep Blawg Wisdom more up to date? I envision a handful of people posting occasionally when they come across links they think would be helpful to other law students. If I post twice a month, and two or three other post twice a month, the site will be a bit more active and useful for everyone. Ideally we could get volunteers from different places in law school—pre-law, 1L, 2L, 3L, maybe even a recent grad or two. Your interests change as you go through the process so it would be good to have a representative from each step along the way.


Posted 06:51 AM | Comments (6)

May 24, 2005

When you don't have time to read or write you make lists

  1. These tape men are awesome.
  2. Blawg Review #7 is up and good. Mr. Richey did a great job frontin' for blawg students everywhere. Thanks JR!
  3. Blawg Review #6 also looked really good, although I still haven't been able to read most of it. Working 40 hrs/week and commuting an additional 10 has a way of seriously cutting down on surf-time.
  4. This Rojo thing looks like a possibly cool replacement for—sort of like on steroids. Anyone tried it?
  5. Legal Lies at Stay of Execution is a must-read for law students and future law students, although I haven't yet read it. It has made f/k/a unhappy, but really, I have no idea what they're talking about. Do you think I should read the things I link to?
  6. At first blush (and again, I haven't read much about it), this fillibuster deal seems like a big fat loser for Democrats because doesn't it basically mean they're going to have to confirm the nominees they previously blocked? Doesn't it give the Republicans almost everything they wanted (up/down votes on nominees) while giving Dems almost nothing? What am I missing?
  7. I learned a new word yesterday:
    asportation |ˌaspərˈtā sh ən| noun Law, rare the detachment, movement, or carrying away of property, considered an essential component of the crime of larceny.

    ORIGIN late 15th cent.: from Latin asportation-, from asportare ‘carry away.’

    It strikes me as a rather odd word. Doesn't it seem like it should also be a verb? “My car was asportated” is rather simple, but as a noun I guess you'd have to say “Someone has committed asportation of my car.” Strange.

  8. I have a strong preference against links that open in new windows. I have a variety of options when I click a link—open in new window, new tab, or in the same window—but web authors who set their links with a “new window” target play a power game in which they attempt to manipulate the choice I make on that click. Don't these hatas know I will always win!?
  9. Posted 07:04 AM | Comments (11)

May 20, 2005

Effects ripple outward

Following up on my comments from the other day, Evan Schaeffer has offered a more complete explanation of the changes he's making to his blog in the comments here. One of the things he's changing is he's getting rid of what was my favorite part of the his site—the weekly law student blog roundup. Someone needs to take that over. It was not just a great weekend read, it was a public service. Who's in?

Posted 06:27 AM | Comments (6)

May 17, 2005

Law-Related Things That Suck: When Lawyers and Law Students Stop Blogging

According to this podcast, the comments there, and this post, Notes from the (Legal) Underground is no more. Instead, it's going to be called Evan Schaeffer's Legal Underground and “is going to come to an abrupt halt.” It's unclear what this means. Evan has promised to explain, but for now it seems that the Legal Underground as we've known and loved it is no more.

Why? Evan has apparently seen evidence that becoming a popular blogger can actually hurt a lawyer's business. That news is itself almost as sad as hearing that the Legal Underground may no longer be the fun and happening place we've all come to know and love. It makes me wonder: What the heck do people want from lawyers, anyway? Lawyers are criticized for being stuffy, bloodthirsty sharks. Then, if they show a more human or friendly side, they get criticized (via lost business) for not being stuffy bloodthirsty sharks? I just don't get it.

Along with all the talk recently of why law students shouldn't blog summer jobs, the bad news about law blogging just keeps rolling in. Oh, and now this: Blonde Justice notes that Soupie's BBQ Daycare has gone fishing for the summer.

I guess it's good that I've started my job and don't have much time to read (or write) blogs anymore, huh?

Posted 06:57 AM | Comments (6)

May 15, 2005

Happy Birthday Blonde Justice (and more!)

Happy Birthday to Blonde Justice (the blawg), which is one whole year old today!:

Blondie is probably watching the big Survivor finale right now, and I'm headed there soon, too. (The magic of Tivo means I generally start watching about 20-30 minutes into a network program so that I can then skip through the commercials.) What big surprises are in store? It's supposed to be television like you've never seen it before! Oh my gosh, I can hardly wait!

Really, after such a great season of the Amazing Race, Survivor has had a hard time keeping up. It's gotten better recently, so tonight could be good, but I'm not holding my breath.

It's been quiet around here recently as I worked on a little freelance project which is now mostly finished. Work starts tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it, but it's also been nice having a bit of freedom the last few days. More on all that soon.

Posted 08:38 PM | Comments (3)

May 08, 2005

Help Redesign the Imbroglio!

Dear readers: As I just mentioned, I'm hoping to redesign this site very soon. I'm thinking clean and simple is the way to go, but I'm still not really sure how to accomplish that.

Therefore, I'm asking for your help. Please let me know what bugs you about this page, or what you particularly like, what you don't like, what you never look at, what you look at every day, what you've never understood, what you think is necessary/unnecessary/missing, etc.

In addition to that general call for whatever is on your mind, I have some specific questions:

  1. Do you ever read or click through the bits? Do you ever wish you could comment or trackback to them? Would you miss them if they were gone? Do you think they are pointless? Are you ambivalent about bits?
  2. What about the comment sidebar? Do you ever check that out? It actually doesn't work correctly, and I realize that. I see it as more of a way for me to keep track of conversations I'm participating in, but it wouldn't really need to appear on this page to accomplish that goal.
  3. Have you ever transmogrified ai? By that I mean, have you ever used the little drop-down menu at the upper-right to change the default stylesheet for this page? Again, do you like that “feature”? Would you miss it if it were gone?
  4. Column widths: Are the widths for the text too wide or too narrow, as far as you're concerned? I am often bothered by columns of text that are on one extreme or the other; I mostly think there's a good balance here with the main column of blog posts and the sidebar, but, well, I could be wrong. Plus, most of you browse via IE and that might make everything look different.
  5. What do you think of 3-column layouts? If you prefer 2-columns, do you prefer sidebars on left or right?
  6. Do you read the RSS feed for this page, and if so, how often do you click through to the main page? I'm thinking if the majority of readers are moving to RSS-only, there's not much need to make this page visually interesting, is there?
Comments are open (as always); any and all input is welcome.

And be honest. I'm pretty tired of this “look,” so you won't hurt my feelings, I promise.

Posted 11:09 PM | Comments (13)

April 22, 2005

Feed me, please

All right kind peeps, I need to ask a small favor. Can you feed me, please? By that I mean: Can you make sure your blog produces an RSS or Atom feed so that lazy yahoos like me can read all our favorite sites in a feed reader (aka, “aggregator)? Whadya say?

If you don't know what I'm talking about with all this ”feed“ business, please see this introduction to RSS. If you use Blogger and you don't know how to create a feed for your blog, here's what you need to do: Go to your ”Settings“ tab and click the ”site feed“ subtab. Say ”yes“ to publish site feed, and make descriptions ”full.“ Click Save Settings and rejoice! You have now fed me and all your other adoring fans!

For those of you using Xanga, well, um, I don't think Xanga will produce feeds b/c it looks like the whole theory of Xanga is to keep people inside of Xanga. (I could be wrong, but that's what it looks like.) So may I suggest something like Feedburner? It should create a feed for you w/out too much trouble.

It would make me most highly pleased if the following blogs had feeds:

I am absolutely certain that this is an incomplete list, so I'll just make a blanket request to anyone who reads this: If you have a blog, please make sure it has a feed. If I haven't looked for a feed on your blog yet, I'm sure someone else has, and if they didn't find one, they were very very sad. Worse, they may have wandered off to other regions of the internets, never to return, because, well, let's face it, some people are like that. So make sure you've got a feed, and all your readers will be fat and happy. Yes?

p.s.: If anyone has more tips or tricks to make it easy for people to make sure their blogs have a feed, please share.

Posted 11:42 PM | Comments (20)

April 11, 2005

Say Hello to Blawg Review!

Blawg Review, the new “carnival of the blawgs,” has just published its very first edition, hosted by Notes from the (Legal) Underground. This inaugural installment features dozens of great posts from lawyers, law students, and law professors, and covers a vast range of topics from cybersquatting to cookie monster to breastfeeding to billable hours—and more. Definitely some great reads there. If you haven't yet heard, Blawg Review is sort of a peer-edited collection of the self-nominated “best” that the blawg world has to offer each week. Or, as George's Employment Blawg put it, Blawg Review is about “making the best of the blawgosphere more accessible and enjoyable to read.” Blawgers nominate their own posts for inclusion (although I suppose you could always nominate someone else's posts, couldn't you?), then the “host” editor decides what to include in each week's review and organizes and presents those posts in whatever way he/she sees fit. The host changes each week, which means the style and emphasis of the review will probably change a little each week, as well. It's a neat idea, and will most definitely be worth checking in on each Monday (especially, ahem, on September 5th for the back-to-school edition, and September 29th for the I-don't-know-what edition). And, as the editors have frequently emphasized, the review will only be as good as the material that gets submitted, so keep that in mind as you post in the future and be sure to forward your best or favorite stuff (or, I suppose, stuff you'd just like to get before a wider audience) to Blawg Review, following the simple submission guidelines. Congratulations to Blawg Review on a great start!

Posted 09:17 AM

April 01, 2005

Washington Lawyer: Do You Blog?

The Washington Lawyer's April cover story is entitled “Do You Blog?” Well, do you? The article was written by Sarah Kellogg and covers everything from the birth of blogs and RSS to the benefits and perils of professionals publishing online. It's a great article, but it would have been even better if it would have provided links to to all of the many blogs it mentions.* In case you'd like to check out the blogs mentioned in the article, they include: I enjoyed talking w/Sarah a few weeks ago for this article, and I'm flattered to have been included among such company. I do have two small clarifications. First, the article suggests that Blawg Wisdom is where I keep a record of my progress through law school, but actually, to the extent that I do that at all, it's here, on ambivalent imbroglio. Blawg Wisdom is intended to aggregate the advice and experience of other law students. Second, I don't think I usually talk in the short, choppy sentences in which my quotes were rendered in the article. However, I've conducted enough phone interviews to know that sometimes a writer has to take small liberties to translate the interview into the article. In all, “Do You Blog?” is a great summary of where legal blogs have been, where they are at the moment, and where they might be headed—definitely worth checking out. *I had this same problem when I wrote “Join the Blawg Bandwagon” for Student Lawyer magazine. Here's a tip for editors: If you know an article is going to be published both in print and online, ask the writer for two versions—one complete w/links for the web, and one w/out links for print. Or just ask for the one with links and delete the links for the print version. Either way, you'll have a better product in the end.

Posted 07:51 AM | Comments (2)

March 12, 2005

Blogroll Update

Just a note about a few tweaks around the Imbroglio: A revised about page, a search box that works better, I think (instead of returning crazy looking results from every blog on the system, it should now use a standard template and confine its searches to ambivalent areas), and a revised blog roll. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I used to use for my blogroll, and that was awesome, but to no one's surprise, it's no longer free. So I switched to trying to use to manage the links, and that works, except that you apparently can't get more than, like, 31 links to display in a list, and that just wasn't pleasant. Enter MT-Blogroll, a new MT plugin that helps you manage your blogrolls, allowing a different roll for each blogg, categories and minimal metadata for each link, and blogrolling via book mark (click a bookmark to add a link to your roll). So it does just about everything Blogrolling did, but it's free and it runs on your own server so the price should never go up. Cool. So now the roll includes several short lists of categorized blogs, including those that focus on criminal law (the “CrimBlawgs”), since that's what I'm trying to focus more on. This category includes blogs by public defenders, prosecutors, professors of crimlaw, and students who have noted at some point that they think they want to do crimlaw. If you see that your blog is miscategorized, please let me know and I'll change it. “The Roll” at the bottom of the links is just that—the long list of blogs I like and which I would visit daily if I had the time. Some of them I do visit daily or regularly, others less regularly, but they're all worth visiting so they're there for when I have a free moment. Also, some are missing. Some blogs I visit so often I've forgotten to blogroll them—I just always type in the URL. I'll try to notice these and add them to the list. That's more than anyone wanted to know, but I'm procrastinating, so...

Posted 10:50 AM | Comments (5)

March 10, 2005

Ambivalent Images Turns One

The daily snapshot site, ambivalent images, started a year ago today with a photo of a red beetle. 365 photos later, it's still going strong. Although it's never received a great deal of traffic, I still enjoy taking and posting photos. I hope you've enjoyed a few of them, as well. When I started the project, I had no idea whether I'd be able to continue it for even a few months, let alone a year, but it has been so fun and so much less work than I anticipated that it almost seems to run itself now. A selection of favorite shots—one from each month of the last year: You can see from that list I have a penchant for dog and metro photos. I'll try to expand my repertoire, but I kind of expect the photos will be fairly similar for the next year since my life (school, summer job, school) will not change dramatically in the next year. In fact, that's why I thought about giving up the photo-a-day project at this point since it seems so rare that I actually get out of my daily routine and even I can tire of nothing but views of the dog, the metro, and the Connecticut Ave. corridor in DC. However, while one purpose of a site like this is to share interesting images with people, another purpose is to be a visual scrapbook of my life. If it happens that my life is routine and visually mundane (which, to a great extent recently, is true), then the scrapbook should reflect that. That's not to say I won't try to keep the photos interesting, only that I realize they often aren't/won't be and that's ok. When I get my big fancy-pants job in a fascinating new location, the photos will suddenly become like visual nirvana, I promise. ;-) But seriously, there's a lot going on in the DC area and I've hardly tapped into any of it, so I hope this year to get out and about more and to get some good pics of my adventures. p.s.: On the subject of photos, I also just registered for a Flickr account. I'm not sure what I'll do with it, but it's interesting to play with. I love the slideshow feature and I was convinced to start an account after seeing this dcsnowthrowdown slideshow featuring photos from DC area shooters. Cool beans! I want to play, too! I may use the site for “overflow” for images that are worth sharing, but that don't make the cut for ambivalent images. Or maybe not. We'll see.

Posted 10:15 AM | Comments (5)

March 03, 2005

She's Back!

Hooray! Ditzy Genius has escaped her evil squirrel prison!!! Get on over and welcome her back to the wacky world of these funny little electronic blawg things! Oh, and she made the law review editorial board, as well, so: Congratulations and Welcome Back, DG!

Posted 10:10 PM

February 26, 2005

Best Simple Browser Shortcut Ever

I don't know where I read this, and it's probably not news to most people, but if you don't know about it and you use a web browser, you're missing out. What is it? Command-L. (Control-L on Windows. Or is it Alt-L? I can never remember.) Command-L is a keyboard shortcut in almost every browser (including Firefox, Safari, and Explorer) that moves the cursor to the browser's address bar and selects everything it finds there. This is incredibly handy when you're finished reading a page and know where you want to go next—just hit Command-L and start typing your next destination. It also makes it simple to copy a URL. For example, if you're creating a blog post and want to link to something you can:
  1. hit command-L (to select the URL in the address bar),
  2. command-c (to copy the URL),
  3. command-tab (to switch from browser to ecto or whatever desktop blogging client you use), and
  4. command-v (to paste the URL).
That might sound complicated, but it's only four keystrokes and once you're used to it, you'll do it in about two seconds. Trust me, it's awesome. It works on Windows, too, but I think with control as the modifier for the L, C, and V, and alt as the modifier for tab (to switch programs). If you're using ecto you don't need to do the last step (command-v) because in ecto you just hit command-u and ecto pastes the contents of the clipboard inside an anchor tag, then leaves the cursor ready for you to add the text for the link. Or if you've already selected some text when you type command-u, that text becomes your link text and the anchor tags appear on either end of the selected text (w/the URL you had on the clipboard pasted properly inside). If that doesn't make sense, download ecto and try it. You will find that it rocks, I promise. If you do not use ecto but you do use a mac, I also highly recommend BlogAssist, which gives you a system-wide drop-down menu containing whatever code you use most frequently. Like ecto, BlogAssist can also automatically insert the contents of the clipboard in the appropriate places. It can be a big time saver.

Posted 01:57 PM

February 25, 2005

When Blogs Do Good

Changing the tone but continuing the discussion of how blogs are changing the media landscape, the accountability of public figures, and more, Peggy Noonan makes a convincing case in support of blogs as a positive force in public discourse. [link via Scripting News] To briefly summarize, she argues that one of the main advantages bloggers have over traditional journalists is that they are free to write about whatever they want, whenever they want, for as long as they want, etc., allowing them to cover things in greater depth and with greater persistence and tenacity and candor than professional journalism allows. This is how blogs can make the invisible visible, and keep it that way, and I agree that this is a huge public service. Noonan also argues that the best journalists have been those who have learned their craft from experience rather than through formal “training” or education, so they've got nothing on bloggers there. Meanwhile, she suggests that the blogosphere uses peer review and an economy of status and respect to take care of the “fact-checking” or “ethical-checking” function that editors provide to professional journalists—if you're an unethical or untrustworthy blogger, no one's going to respect or read you, so you'll just disappear. There's more worth saying about this, but I've got to run so maybe later... See also: Thoughts on this from a j-school professor [also via Scripting News].

Posted 08:54 AM

February 23, 2005

“Blawg” & Blawg Republic

I learned yesterday that Denise Howell of Bag and Baggage coined the word “blawg” in the sense of “legal-related blog.” Since I use the word all the time now and made such a big (sort of) deal about it in this article, I wanted to give credit where it's due. I know some people do not find the word helpful, and it becomes less useful if you're speaking rather than writing, but I obviously think it's a great contraction in a web-writing context, so thank you, Denise. And speaking of blawg, have you seen Blawg Republic? Is your blawg listed there? This one isn't, but I'm wondering why Blawg Wisdom is listed under “Law Professors”. I mean, it would be nice if I were a law professor, or if professors wanted to contribute more to the advice on the site, but....

Posted 06:24 AM | Comments (3)

February 21, 2005

Goodbye Blogrolling, Hello (maybe)

When Tucows bought last year, everyone figured the days of free were over. I was pleasantly surprised when nothing on my account seemed to change. However, I just got a message from Blogrolling telling me I'll need to pay $20/year from now on to use the service at my current level (I have 10 blogrolls, although I only actually use about four). Um, no. The links in the sidebar (“ambivalent links”) are now coming courtesy of the bookmark manager. (Thanks to the RSSfeed plugin and these tips from MovableBlog.) What you see here is only a selection; it's supposed to be the links I try to visit daily, or as often as possible. Unfortunately, it appears that is truncating the feed. The list should contain about 4o links, but only 31 are showing up in the feed. If you understand these things and can tell me if there's a way to make send the whole list, please let me know. At any rate, the current list includes a few blawgs, a few blogs, a couple of news sources, and a few photoblogs. Ironically, many of the sites I visit most frequently are actually not on this list b/c I visit them directly (by typing in the URL) instead of relying on a link list to get me to my destination. As I discover more of these, I'll add them to the list. The new sidebar also contains separate sections for GW blawgs and Blawgcoop blawgs (obviously), all of which I try to visit on a regular basis, as well. If you miss some of the additional links that have long appeared in the “ambivalent links” sidebar on this page, you'll probably find what you're looking for on my page under the tags blawg or blog. If you'd like to narrow further in the law-related category, or if you'd just prefer to surf links that are all of one type (all blawgs by law students, for example), lawstudent, attorney, and professor are all subcategories of “blawg.” If you're not yet familiar w/, it's a bookmark service that allows you to save bookmarks and “tag” them with keywords so you can find them later and so all similar content can be grouped together. It's also a social networking tool because in addition to your own links, you can see all the links all other users have tagged with the same keywords, or you can see all the other users who have bookmarked a certain page. It's cool. It's free. And considered as a replacement for, it's even more useful b/c it makes it even easier to add, sort, and display URLs, which were all the reasons I liked Blogrolling in the first place. Of course, if won't send the full feed, it's not really going to do what I want, so I may have to look for a new blogroll solution. Any suggestions?

Posted 07:44 AM | Comments (2)

February 15, 2005

When Blogs Do Bad II

Following up on the Eason Jordon story and the question of whether the ability of blogs to “take down” public figures is a positive development, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the recent unmasking of Jeff Gannon. Gannon was a highly partisan reporter who used a pseudonym and somehow gained a seat in the White House press corp where he asked questions with lots of Republican spin. Gannon may or may not have also been leading a somewhat salacious double life. Salon's coverage. So now we can add Gannongate to Easongate and Rathergate. Salon's “War Room” covers them all with lots of good links to more. As I said before, the ability of blogs to hold public figures accountable is a good thing, but it's one thing to uncover what's hidden, and another to destroy careers or lives. Maybe the destruction follows automatically from the uncovering, and maybe that's not the fault of bloggers. However, when prominent people make questionable statements or do questionable things, wouldn't we be better of as a society if we could learn from their mistakes instead of simply destroying the mistake-maker? UPDATE: See also:

Posted 07:59 AM | Comments (8)

February 13, 2005

All Hail Slapcast

So you've probably head about this “podcasting” thing, and now that Notes from the (Legal) Underground and Jeremy Richey are getting into it, I thought I'd give it a try. And while creating podcasts sounds like it could be very complicated, thanks to, all you need is a phone! Here's all you need to do:
  1. Create a free account at
  2. Call an 800-number and leave a message (up to 5 minutes).
  3. Log in and enter the phone number you called from. Slapcast finds your recording via caller-id.
  4. Give your recording a title and write some comments about it if you want.
  5. Publish your recording (or Slapcast can just do that automatically).
That's it! Slapcast does the rest—it converts your recording to mp3 format, creates a webpage and RSS feed with enclosures for you so that people can subscribe to your podcasts, and it can automatically post a link to your podcast on your blog (supporting MT, Livejournal, Blogger, Radio, and WordPress so far) and/or email the mp3 file to you. If you want to get funky you can add sound effects to your recording like Jeremy has done, then re-upload it so it sounds more professional and entertaining. (According to the Slapcast creator, there may soon be an option to do something like this automatically via the slapcast web interface.) So hey, what are you waiting for? We all want to hear what you have to say! Oh, thanks so much to Mother and Sister Imbroglio for humoring me in my early experiments with this. The imbroglio is now seeking jokes, funny stories, deep thoughts, political or social commentary, legal criticism, or anything else you'd like to record. Send me your number (via email) and I'll call you and record and publish what you have to say through the magic of 3-way calling. Or maybe we could do 4-way calling or more -- imagine what two minutes of conversation between Energy Spatula and Soupie might be like. Whoo! UPDATE: Via Memory's Outbox I just also discovered Audioblogger, which allows audio-posting by phone to Blogger blogs (including all you Blogspot kiddies). Of course, I'd like to see Slapcast take off b/c it's multi-platform and b/c I've met one of the developers and he seems like a good guy. But hey, either way, posting by phone can be fun. Just ask Lawrah! (See the post from today, 2/13/05; I can't find her permalinks if they're there.)

Posted 11:07 AM | Comments (4)

February 12, 2005

When Blogs Do Bad

Blogs have toppled another semi-public figure:
Eason Jordan, a senior executive at CNN who was responsible for coordinating the cable network's Iraq coverage, resigned abruptly last night, citing a journalistic tempest he touched off during a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, late last month in which he appeared to suggest that United States troops had deliberately aimed at journalists, killing some.
I agree that one great function of blogs is to make the invisible visible, to shine a light on those issues, statements, actions, etc. that do not get enough attention in the mainstream media and popular discourse. However, this light-shining function can be a double-edged sword. Where's the line between a witch hunt and a critical, good faith inquiry into what's really going on? Did Eason really deserve this? Or did he just make an offhand comment at the wrong place and time that was blown out of proportion and twisted to suit the rabid radicals of the most jingoistic right? (Hey look, I can write just like the editors of the Hart and Wecsler's!) If you saw BSG last night (it's been renewed for another season!), you'll know it raised the same question of when healthy social inquiry might turn into egomaniacal power grab. L. (my personal guru in reading against the grain) noted astutely that BSG might have been making an argument that we shouldn't be questioning how Bush has handled post-9/11 security and foreign affairs. Apparently the show's creators have explicitly said they're trying to make the show parallel recent history to some extent, but it's hard to say what they were trying to communicate last night in that regard. Was Capt. Adama supposed to be George Bush, and the Independent Tribunal the 9/11 Commission? Remember, Bush at first tried to tell the 9/11 Commission that he was above their purview, and that's basically what Adama did last night with the tribunal. Then again, was the 9/11 Commission a witch hunt or power grab, which is how the Independent Tribunal was starting to look last night? Could the chief investigator have been Ashcroft trying to argue that all civil liberties should be swept aside in favor of “security,” while Adama was the voice of the reasonable civil libertarian upholding his and his officers' rights? See, it's hard to figure out. And really, these questions are L.'s, so if she comes up with any answers, perhaps she'll share. Anyway, BSG is only relevant to the extent that it shows that investigation can be a multi-edged sword. First it was Dan Rather (who may or may not have resigned b/c of the Bush national guard story), now it's Eason Jordan. Who's next? Are bloggers getting drunk with power and doing more harm than good in pursuit of their own agendas?

Posted 02:01 PM | Comments (2)

February 08, 2005

Reading Hart and Wechsler's

If you're in law school and you take a course with a name like “Federal Courts” or “Federal Jurisdiction,” chances are probably 100% you'll either use or hear a lot of references to a text that was originally written by Henry Hart and Herbert Wechsler and first published in 1953 (at least that's the earliest publication date listed in my 5th edition). Many people find this book maddening, because it asks as many questions as it answers. However, after reading several hundred pages, I've learned a trick: If you read most of the questions as statements instead of questions, then it's really much more clear. For example, H&W will often write something like: “Haven't courts recognized a power to enforce executive compliance with statutory duties since Marbury v. Madison?” That looks like a question, but it's not. What that really says is: “Courts have recognized a power to enforce executive compliance with statutory duties since Marbury v. Madison! (Duh.)” Do you think most of the questions are really statements? Would you be likely to enjoy reading a book written like this? Is writing in questions a sign of intelligence or a good way to teach, or is it just really, really asinine?

Posted 07:11 AM | Comments (6)

February 06, 2005

Scripting News Brunch

I just got back from the “Geek Brunch” with Dave Winer of Scripting News. In attendance were: You can see from that list a lot of what we talked about—blog link aggregators (Kmax), blog search (Blogdigger) and podcasting by phone (Slapcast). Below the fold: Some highlights from the conversation, including Channel Z, desktop blogging clients, and making the invisible visible. Of the “new” technologies we discussed, I think the podcasting by phone was most interesting to me. One of the major drawbacks to podcasting is it seems to take too much equipment and time to create an mp3 for people to download, but being able to just call a number, say what you want to say, and have the resulting conversation/monologue converted to mp3 and posted online (even directly to your blog) is pretty awesome. It doesn't get much simpler than that. One obvious great thing it would be good for—reporters (both “professional” and non) covering demonstrations, strikes, and other breaking news. Pretty cool. Blogdigger also looks like it has a lot of potential. If it's true that AskJeeves just bought Bloglines, it might be time to look elsewhere for online RSS aggregation, and Blogdigger's groups could be a good place to look. I'll have to check it out. Winer also talked a little about “Channel Z,” the outliner he uses to create and update Scripting News. As I mentioned last month, I've long admired the way Scripting News smoothly integrates both short and long posts into one smooth flow of daily content w/a permalink for each item. Plus, I love outliners (my current favorite is NoteTaker), so using an outliner to update my blog(s) would be great. Winer said he maybe might possibly who knows? release his cool tool someday, maybe in stages. He's waiting for the right moment, and I for one hope it comes soon. He also mentioned I should look at Manilla, but for $1100, I think, um, probably not. While I was fascinated by the tech talk, I could only participate in a limited way since I'm not a programmer/developer. My only sort of contribution to the tech conversation was when I mentioned that even though Movable Type is clunky (Winer said it was “too modal,” I think b/c the controls you need the most are too scattered an hard to reach), that doesn't bother me b/c I use a desktop blogging client (ecto) so I almost never have to log into MT itself (except to delete comment spam, but that's easy w/Blacklist). This was, in fact, one of the reasons I switched away from my old Radio blog—I didn't like being so tied to the browser and having to do so many things through the browser itself. Winer seemed surprised to hear that desktop clients were popular, and wondered aloud how many people use them to post to MT and other blogs. If a lot of people are doing it, then the blogging platform you use almost becomes irrelevant; what counts is how well your desktop blogging tool works. That's true, of course. I could do just about everything I want a blog to do with WordPress or probably w/a number of other things, but my day-to-day workflow wouldn't change so long as the blog software was open to ecto. In addition to talking about technology, we talked a little about the media and why it doesn't seem to work. See Winer's recent posts on this here and here. For example, Winer asked, “why are they [meaning Republicans, I assume] trying to convince us there's a crisis in social security?” We tossed out possible responses, but his point was not to arrive at an answer, but to point out the fact that the media just aren't talking about the question. It's invisible. The only thing the media talk about is what Bush is proposing and whether it's feasible and what might be cut here, added there, etc. That's necessary, of course, but why are so few people investigating the reasons behind this whole agenda? The question is just not on the radar, which, according to Winer, is where blogs come in:
When things are invisible, it's the job of bloggers to make them visible.
It's a somewhat utopian notion—that blogs are going to be able to shine a light into the dark corners of society and thereby make a positive difference. Whether it's true or not, it's a worthwhile goal for bloggers to strive toward, it seems to me. Other “invisible” questions we discussed: Why did the media replay the dean scream a million times? On this question the media covered the scream, but didn't cover the fact that it didn't sound insane if you were actually in the room, nor their own role in replaying it again and again, etc. Those questions were overlooked at the time, invisible; they've been considered somewhat since then, but on a comparative basis they're still invisible. Also: Why are Ward Churchill's ideas so repugnant that some people want to throw out the first amendment as far as he's concerned? On this topic all we get from the media are “wow, those are some crazy ideas” and “lots of people are furious and they want Churchill's head.” Why no consideration of the ideas themselves, or the reasons behind the fury? Those questions are invisible. Why don't bloggers raise them? I could go on; with two hours of fast-paced conversation, we covered a lot of ground. Overall the brunch was a great time, featuring excellent conversation, great to meet so many fascinating and talented people. If there's ever a Scripting News meal in your area and you're sort of a tech/blog geek, I highly recommend it. NOTE: This post has been updated to add links to the brunch attendees who commented on the event.

Posted 02:39 PM | Comments (9)

February 05, 2005

DC Geek Brunch

FYI: If you're a DC area blogger, Dave Winer, author of Scripting News and one of the most influential pioneers of blogging and related technologies (SOAP, RSS, OPML, and more) is having a “geek brunch” tomorrow (2/6) in Alexandria at the Royal Restaurant. I might be able to make it, but I'm not sure I'm geeky enough. Blogs I can talk about. Programming? Not so much. (Homework? What's that?)

Posted 11:42 PM | Comments (1)

February 03, 2005

Interview (f)art

So I had an interview yesterday for a job l really really wanted. Here's the whole story. UPDATE: For the low-tech, and for the sake of posterity, the gist of the story is here.

Posted 06:46 AM | Comments (12)

February 02, 2005

Tsunami Point Drive

The Tsunami Charity Drive I mentioned yesterday has been wildly successful, exploding into something like a blawg “meme.” The proof is at Jeremy Richey's Blawg, where you can see that more than 26,000 Lexis points have been donated. At $1.60 per 100 points, that' s just over $400. The goal is now set at 50,000 points by February, so if you have any Lexis points you were just going to selfishly exchange for personal swag, donate them to tsunami relief and let Jeremy know you did so so he can add your points to the total. I threw my points in, despite my own reluctance to do anything to help Lexis look like a good member of society. If I can do it, you can too. Come on, you know you want to. ;-)

Posted 08:00 AM | Comments (2)

Say Hello to MultiBlog!

The two “sideblogs” on aiambivalent images and ambivalent bits—are now being brought to you by the MT MultiBlog plugin by David Raynes. MultiBlog allows updates to one of the sideblogs to trigger a rebuild of the main page of ai. Although this may make no difference to you as a reader, it's a nice change from my perspective b/c it means that any updates to the sideblogs appear immediately and automatically here on the main page. (Previously changes to the sideblogs didn't show up here until I rebuilt this main page, either by adding a new post or if someone left a comment.) MultiBlog replaces the older and less sophisticated OtherBlog plugin. Although I said a while back that I wanted to get rid of the ambits sideblog, that may never happen (or I might change my mind), so in the meantime, this simple upgrade satisfies my need to tweak—for now.

Posted 07:23 AM | Comments (2)

January 30, 2005

Bloglines As Copyright Infringement

Monica at Buzzwords recently pointed me to an interesting article entitled Bloglines and the Perils of Syndication about the author of The Trademark Blog who asked Bloglines to remove his blog feed from its service because he didn't want Bloglines making money off of his content. I noted this briefly before, but as the Trademark Blog explained:
Right now, among the million bloggers, there are bird watching blogs, and anti-Michael Moore blogs, and Linux blogs. Those bloggers do or do not view their blogs as part of a commercial pursuit, and do or do not wish to run advertising, and do or do not wish make use of information about their readership. As far as I can tell, based on its stated intentions, the leading web-based aggregator is reserving the right to, for example, place Windows-based software ads on Linux blogs, and Anne Coulter ads on pro-Michael Moore sites, and to sell everybody's subscription list to anyone. All without notification or authorization by the blogger.
(Note that this critic is more worried that his blog content will be surrounded by ads for legal services than he is about his content being surrounded by porn or online gambling. Interesting hierarchy of evils.) I generally don't like the idea that Bloglines (or other services) could soon do what the Trademark Blog describes, which is essentially making money from content you and I generate, without our permission and w/out giving us anything in return. I suppose if you use Bloglines, you might feel this is ok—you enjoy the service, so you get “paid” via the convenience it provides you. I'll be curious to see whether Bloglines runs into any significant resistance if it does start selling ads and making money in this way.

Posted 08:21 AM | Comments (3)

January 28, 2005

MT 3.15 upgrade

If you run a Movable Type installation, be sure to upgrade to version 3.15 or at least install the patch it includes (which is what I did). Otherwise, it appears spammers could be using your MT software to spam people. Or something. I don't understand the details, but the patch took all of 30 seconds to apply, so it can't hurt.

Posted 06:40 AM

January 27, 2005

The New Fourth Amendment

The SCOTUS decision in Illinois v. Caballes has sparked some sharp criticism. For example, here's what it basically does to the Fourth Amendment, according to Grits for Breakfast:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized if an officer is looking for illegal contraband.
Many more links and great criticism where that came from. I don't have time to read around for more impressions; I have to hurry up and read about Fourth Amendment law in a CrimPro textbook that doesn't know Caballes exists. Oh, but you don't need Cabelles for Fourth Amendment law to seem pretty sad. First, Katz said the test for a “search” is whether you had a “reasonable expectation of privacy” in the thing or place or whatever that was searched, and whether society recognizes that as a legitimate expectation. So:
As Professor Amsterdam has put it, under the Katz expectation test, the government could control the extent of privacy interests simply by announcing “that we were all forthwith beng placed under comprehensive electronic surveillance.” (43)
Amsterdam, “Perspectives on the Fourth Amendment,” 58 Minn. L. Rev. 349, 384 (1974), quoted in Saltzburg and Capra, American Criminal Procedure. Can you say “TIPS Program”? The line of cases following Katz have constricted the scope of the Fourth Amendment in a predictable manner—the court has basically unlimited discretion to determine what counts as a “reasonable” and/or “legitimate” expectation of privacy. Oh, and according to Saltzburg and Capra, the “warrant clause” of the Fourth Amendment (the second part about warrants) has basically already been rewritten to say:
A search and seizure in some circumstances is presumed to be unconstitutional if no prior warrant is obtained, but in other circumstances the prior warrant is unnecessary to justify a search and seizure. (86)
So, hey, it looks likeGrits for Breakfast is right on the money w/that revised Fourth Amendment (above). My CrimPro textbook says so!

Posted 06:55 AM | Comments (5)

January 26, 2005

BlawgCoop News: Welcome Bad Glacier!

Blawgcoop, the co-op for law-related blogs, continues to grow be eeps and zounds. Please take a minute to stop by and say hello to the 'coop's newest member, Bad Glacier. BG took advantage of the divine angst-inspired “get your own domain but host with blawgcoop” plan, and is also the first user to choose WordPress as blog tool of choice. This has given me reason to play around a little w/WP, and I'm liking it more and more. In other blawgcoop news, half-cocked has a spiffy new design for our viewing pleasure—“now with extra monochrome!” It apparently isn't quite finished yet, but it's pretty spiffy, nonetheless. Elsewhere, Legal Fictions seems to have hit something of a blogging wall—the last post was in December about finals frustration. Perhaps LF could use the advice from Professor Yin, which is the subject of the latest update at Blawg Wisdom.

Posted 07:20 AM

January 23, 2005

Mo' Grade Blues Defending Criminals in Fed Courts

Speaking of grades (which I was a bit yesterday), Energy Spatula basically summed up how a lot of us feel about them right now. The huge comment thread on that post is like a communal outlet for grade angst. I especially love this comment:
Law school is a sad, sad, pathetic excuse for an educational program. In no other form of graduate education in the US does *anyone* think that the appropriate means for teaching sophisticated reasoning is the large lecture class based on idiotically-edited primary materials, or that the appropriate means for measuring mastery is a single time-limited evaluation. It's a factory mass-production system designed solely to sort the students with the minimal degree of credibility required to satisfy the firms through the exertion of the most limited amount of effort by the professors.
Absolutely true, at least as far as I know (I don't have exhaustive knowledge of every other form of graduate education in the U.S., but I can't think of another that uses the law school large-lecture model so extensively). From this perspective, the “legal profession” looks more like a house of cards than some distinguished and rigorous life calling, but everyone tiptoes around this fact just so the whole thing won't come tumbling down. I'm sure many law professors would disagree, as would many hiring partners at firms, as would the ABA, etc. They're all invested in the illusion of meaning that grades represent, hence the tip-toeing that they do, inculcating law law students with the finer points of the tip-toe until we all internalize the illusion and begin the “grades are meaningful” dance ourselves. (At the risk of overloading my own metaphor, the legal profession house of cards rests on more than the illusion of grades as meaningful measures, but I'll save those other illusions for another day.) Anyway, if your grades did not rock your world (and I've already noted that mine did not—and the worst is probably yet to come), you should go read Favorable Dicta. To quote The Oracle: “I promise, by the time you're done eating it, you'll feel right as rain.” Although I read Favorable Dicta as often as I can (E. Spatula is a superhero!) I actual came across the above post thanks to Res Ipsa Loquitur, a new-to-me blawg. (Not to be confused with other iterations of Res Ipsa Loquitur. Seems to be a popular little blog name.) This Res Ipsa Loquitur also has a recent interesting post about the importance of criminal defense attorneys to the justice system that includes a great, heartwrenching criminal defense scenario from tv. As I contemplate a possible/likely career in criminal defense myself, hypothetical situations like this—where a defense attorney basically has to defend a monster who is clearly guilty—are troublesome, certainly. Unfortunately, I continue to learn of so many real situations in which law enforcement agents (by which I mean cops, federal agents, prosecutors, and sometimes judges) violate the rights of both the innocent and the probably-guilty so egregiously that they prove the old maxim true over and over again: It's better that ten guilty people go free than that one innocent person suffers. (But why “ten”? For more on that, see Alexander Volokh, “n Guilty Men” (1997).) For the record, Res Ipsa's post is a response to one by Deviant Lawyer (another new-to-me-blawg) in which he laments having to defend a crooked cop. (This is for a law school assignment, not for real.) And since I'm just jumping from topic to topic here, for some reason, Favorable Dicta lead me Legal Quandary who noted that Fed Courts isn't as bad as she'd thought, as classes go. As you may recall, I was unsure whether to stick with Fed Courts myself, but I've had the same impression as Legal Quandary: Very interesting material, but totally unreasonable amounts of reading in a frustratingly large and obscure book. Professor Althouse has some thoughts on the Hart and Wechsler's, noting that the book seems to beg professors to assign way more reading than is necessary, even though much of its content is arcane details that are not very important to the major goals of a course in federal courts. My own Prof Fed Courts said that this book was the “bible” of Fed Courts, which is too bad because that probably contributes to the subject continuing to seem much more complicated than it needs to be (at least for the neophyte). Or maybe not. So far I've appreciated the book's organization, but what's maddening is the authors' habit of posing everything possible as a series of questions rather than trying to clearly explain different schools of thought on controversial issues. I mean, I realize that much of the subject matter is open to debate (i.e., Can Congress completely eliminate federal appellate jurisdiction over any one type of case or controversy?), but as far as I'm concerned, presenting such issues as a series of questions is just not the most helpful way to help people understand them. Oh, and in addition to being arcane, bloated, and unnecessarily obtuse, the book and supplement together cost me $107.75, and that's just freaking ridiculous! Finally, JCA of Sua Sponte turned 30 last week. I don't get over to visit Sua Sponte much, but it was one of the first blawgs I ever read, so I owe JCA a debt of gratitude for being part of the inspiration for ai. (ai also continues to receive a substantial number of referrals from Sua Sponte, which surprises me since it seems to me the tone and substance of our posts is rather different. Maybe it isn't, or maybe that would be why people read both?) But, and so, happy (late) birthday, JCA! May year 30 bring you health, wealth, and a continued accumulation of wisdom and good fortune!

Posted 11:21 AM | Comments (4)

January 22, 2005

Blawg Roundup #2

Following up on last week's tremendously successful (or at least efficient) Blawg Roundup, ai hereby presents a rather random list-like string of links (w/comments, of course!) to a few of the many happenings in the blawgs I read this week. To kick things off, Jeremy Richey writes a letter to Justice Breyer explaining why the honorable Justice should give him a job. If Breyer happens to see the message, I predict the dancing bananas will be simply too much for him to resist and he'll be offering Jeremy a job in no time. In attempt to scare the pans off of us (get it? pans? ha!), E. McPan announced a hiatus from blogging. The world was sad, but then the hiatus ended, but then it started again—sort of. Now she has gone argyle! Personally, I'm just happy to see her still posting. I are amused by E. McPan. On the commercialization of blawgs front, Buffalo Wings & Vodka is selling itself to the highest bidder. Check out the eBay auction and get your bid in right away! The auction ends January 26th. (Ok, you won't actually own BW&V if you win, you'll only be the “sponsor” and get your name on the blog.) I noticed that Mr. Buffalo does not say anything about how long he agrees to continue publishing. Does this mean I could bid $10k to be the blog's sponsor, only to have it close down next week? Hmmm. This reminds me of the corporate-sponsored undergrads. Eek. Denise at Life, Law, Gender has started her second third semester of law school and has realized she is overcommitted. Boy, do I know the feeling. There really are so many opportunities available during law school, it's hard to pick and choose where to spend your time. For those with a taste for discussion of politics (beyond the inauguration), Three Years of Hell has endorsed Howard Dean for Chair of the DNC with tongue planted deeply in cheek. Earnest interlocutor “Mike” and less patient interlocutor “Martin” test the irony in the comments. But the inauguration was the big political deal this week, and for that Law-Rah at WonL offers a heartfelt paean to her president and fellow Texans. Totally unrelated: Law-Rah has also earned a dubious distinction. [insert smiley] Back to the law school, Kelly, at Just Playing, learned some of her grades yesterday and she wasn't thrilled, but it sounds like she has things in perspective. I guess now is as good a time as any to confess that my grades from last semester (I know three out of four so far) show that it was my worst semester evah! at least as far as grades go. There are reasons for that, but to Kelly and anyone else who has recently learned they had lower grades than they'd hoped for, take heart! We will find jobs, and we will do good work for people who need our help. The gunners will have all the money, but as the countless ranks of bitter (rich) BigLaw lifers attests, he or she who has the most toys only “wins” in the short run. And in the new-to-me blawgs category, JD2B notes the introduction of two new blawgs written by 0Ls (people who have applied to law school but have not yet begun): Aspiring to Become A Lawyer (who applied to an astounding 31 schools!) and Narkoleptomania. JD2B also mentions Divine Angst, who has begun posting reviews of her visits to law schools she might attend. So far she's reviewed Georgetown and George Washington in D.C. She really liked GULC, and she liked the GW campus, although she found the law school buildings themselves a little difficult to navigate. I know the feeling; it took me a full year before I felt I could navigate pretty much anywhere w/out too much trouble. DA also found a photo tour of GW, which is interesting. The place looks surprisingly good in pictures. Note that the “computing resources” page features a picture of someone using a Powerbook to access the wireless network; nowhere does it mention that GW actively discourages students from using Macs. I wonder if this was intentional. Finally, Blawg Wisdom has been updated for the first time in a while. I just haven't found much to add recently, and the submissions have dried up, of late. Here's an idea to grow Blawg Wisdom and make it more useful to people: Would anyone like to be a contributor of wisdom? Your job would be to post links to good advice for law students and law school whenever you find it, or to write original “advice posts” when the mood strikes. It seems it would be good to have a couple of contributors at every level (0L-3L and recent grad), so if you're interested (or if you have thoughts on this idea), please let me know.

Posted 12:03 PM | Comments (4)

January 19, 2005

Comment Spam Killer?

Six Apart, the makers of Movable Type, are supporting a new collaborative effort to get rid of comment spam using a “nofollow” attribute. More here and here. Download the plugin here. I've already installed it. The directions are a little vague on which directories the files are supposed to go into, but it seems to be working. If you view the source on a comments window, you'll see any links in the comments are followed by the “rel=nofollow” tag. Cool. At this point, I'll happily try just about anything (short of eliminating comments altogether) to reduce the amount of spam I get. Since I upgraded MT-blacklist and installed the MT-DSBL plugin, the spam seems to have decreased dramatically, but some still gets through occasionally. Unfortunately, the side effect has been that at least one person who wanted to comment wasn't able to because the comment was blocked by Blacklist or the DSBL filter. It would be great if comment spammers lost their incentive to spam so I could remove those filters and thereby avoid that problem. Is this “nofollow” thing the silver bullet we've all been hoping for? Maybe I won't have to implement s-code after all. UPDATE: For the record, I just checked yesterday's logs and on the last day before I implemented the “nofollow” plugin, this MT install received 3,827 hits to its comment script. I assume that number will drop if the “nofollow” thing actually discourages comment spammers. We'll see.

Posted 06:34 AM

January 16, 2005

Blawg Roundup

Ok. I've been resisting for a long time, but I can't help myself. Evan's idea for a weekly summary of notable posts and links on law student blogs is just too good to not blatantly copy. Plus, now he's doing his via podcast, so my all-text version may fill a bit of a void. Or not. But in the spirit of imitation being the most sincere form of flattery, I give you my own Blawg Roundup, which will purport to be a quick list of links I've seen in the last week that were notably notable—comment-worthy, even—in some way. First, sadness: Mixtape Marathon is talking about going gently into that good night, as in, ceasing to blog. Her posts have been rather sporadic recently, but still always smart and witty and fun and enjoyable. The Marathon will be missed, but her readers can take heart that she's considering starting up something else, somewhere else. I hope so. In lighter news, who would have thought someone could make a trip to the automatic car wash sound so funny? I certainly didn't, but second person singular's recent experience at the robo-wash (complete with hilarious tangent about the childhood trauma attendant to coin-operated rocking horses at the supermarket) had me rolling on the floor. I'm telling you, this guy can write. Elsewhere: Nudum Pactum, a 1L at the U of Chicago, notes that fornication is now legal in Virginia. Such a progressive state, Virginia. Those folks better be careful or they're going to find the foundations of their civilization crumbling thanks to “liberal” reforms like this. The First Annual Section 14 Mustache Contest finished this week with participants categories entered in categories such as Most Redneck and Most Pornstar. Pictures are available for the 'stache fetish in you. Monica is going to spend her spring quarter in Alaska working for the Anchorage Public Defender. This is old news, but I just found it and it makes me insanely jealous. I want to go to Alaska. I want to be in a school were a full year of actual legal work is required to earn my degree. I still can't believe, in all my attempts to find a good school for public interest law, no one ever mentioned Northeastern to me. I still may have been stupid and ended up at GW, but least I would have done so knowing I had options. JD2B (possibly the most-linked blawg) was full of tasty links this week, including the fact that the Sentencing Law and Policy blawg was cited by Justice Breyer in his Booker dissent. Is this the first time a blawg has been cited in a Supreme Court decision? JD2B also notes that it's possible to get a J.D. in two years in the U.S., thanks to a recent ABA rule change. It's a little late for me now, but good to know, nonetheless. The blawg formerly known as Sapere Aude, which “intends to be a source of information by and for the students of Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis,” has changed its name to IndyLaw Net. For now you can access the site both at its old blogspot location and its new URL. Also, if you haven't seen it, IndyLaw Net points to the story about the two men in NY who got arrested for telling lawyer jokes in a courthouse. They're charged with disorderly conduct, and have already received an offer for free legal assistance from, um, a lawyer. According to Overlawyerd, the offer was one of many. Finally, Whatever Remains offers a possible solution to some of the most active MT spammers—some MT Blacklist expressions to block the spam. I'll give it a try. Speaking of which, if you have trouble posting comments for some reason (your comments are being filtered out), please let me know and I'll see if I can fix it.)

Posted 12:30 PM | Comments (1)

Air America Coming to D.C. & Podcasting

This is probably old news, but I just learned that Air America Radio will start broadcasting in D.C. tomorrow morning. Say hello Progressive Radio AM 1260. it sounds great, except that I already have access to too many good radio programs I don't have the time to listen to, so this will only add to that problem. I guess that's a pretty good problem to have, though—better than having nothing you ever want to hear. If Air America and NPR would embrace podcasting (and at least one NPR program already has) , I could probably listen to excellent radio every waking hour of my days. That probably wouldn't help me do all of the work I actually need to do these days, but it would be pretty cool, nonetheless. Speaking of podcasting: I read blogs that seem to be talking about nothing else these days. Do any readers of this blog create podcasts or actually use a podcast feed aggregator and listen to podcasts? And speaking of aggregators, is Bloglines a copyright infringer?

Posted 08:58 AM | Comments (3)

January 10, 2005

Clearly Erroneous

Welcome to Clearly Erroneous, a new group blog featuring some of the most fiendishly funny law students in the blawgosphere. My failure to mention it in my bits of blawg news was clear error on my part. (Ha! Now you see why I'm not part of a humorous group blog! I'm just too punny.)

Posted 09:06 AM

January 09, 2005

Bits of Blawg News

After one semester, Ex Mea Sententia is leaving law school for full-time work and an unidentified graduate program. He's also leaving his blawg behind. You gotta love it when a law student can say this:
I'm not even sure if I'm going to check my grades since I'll have no use for them.
Stop it, will you? I'm jealous enough already! Best of luck, Ex Mea! Who knows, maybe when I read this book I'll be following you out the door... E. McP of The Neutral Zone Trap now has an RSS feed, thanks at least in part to my incessant demands. Thank you! (If anyone else wants to subscribe, just add this link to your aggregator.) Transmogriflaw has moved to a new home on TypePad and things look great! She's also decided to spend another semester with her new favorite person (her son, who is fast becoming master of his thumbs), rather than returning to law school this semester. Sounds like a great decision to me. I also think that blawg is going to become a priceless record of little Nathaniel's life, and that's very cool. But speaking of moving to TypePad, as Jeremy Richey kindly noted recently, blawgcoop might be a good solution for anyone who wants to start a blawg or migrate one to MT or WordPress. One advantage of a blawgcoop blawg over TypePad is that, while TypePad charges a minimum of $5/month, blawgcoop charges a maximum of $5/year. Since it's a co-op, Blawgcoop is also completely non-profit. An advantage of blawgcoop over blogspot (and this is important for the burgeoning ranks of aggregator geeks, like me): every blawgcoop blawg comes standard with an RSS feed! ;-) Last but not least, say hello to three more GW blawgs!
  1. WonL is written by Law-Rah, who has been posting pretty regularly since starting school last August. Oh, and she got an iPod maxifor Christmas—possibly the first and only of its kind.
  2. Neil Chilson is another 1L who appears to have been blogging for nearly a year and a half now. Since his last post was late last November, perhaps he's giving his blawg second thoughts, or perhaps he just hasn't returned from his winter break.
  3. Section14 looks like it was an attempt to get a section of 1Ls to create a group blawg. It's a great idea, but somehow I'm not surprised it hasn't taken off. I bet, however, that if its proprietors help it limp along through this year, it might be more successful next year because then it would provide a good way for former section-mates to keep in touch. Maybe.
These new finds suggest that there's a lot more blogging activity at GW than I'm aware of, which is good to know.

Posted 08:23 PM | Comments (1)

Comments Temporarily Disabled

FYI: I'm installing a CAPTCHA thingy to combat comment spam, and in the process, comments are currently not working. If there's anything here on which you'd like to comment, please return in a couple of hours. I hope everything will be working correctly by then. UPDATE: Well, that wasn't as hard as it seemed. Comments seem to be working now. Please let me know if you experience any problems. UPDATED UPDATE: Ok, the CAPTCHA was working fine here, but I had to remove it because it required edits to core MT files, which meant that it screwed up every blog on this MT install. Rather than making time-consuming tweaks to 4-5 templates in every one of the 23 blogs on this server, I decided to skip the CAPTCHA test. If anyone knows of anything similar to sCode that doesn't require hacking core MT files, please share.

Posted 10:23 AM | Comments (9)

Welcome Luminous Void

Hey, stop the presses! There's finally another GW blog (or blawg) to add to the scant three that I know of already.* Welcome to Luminous Void, a GW 2L who has so far written almost exclusively about RFID law and technology. He/she has a good little RFID primer for us mere mortals who only know enough about the technology to think it can't be good. If you're interested in IP law, Luminous Void promises to be an interesting place to visit. *The other GW blawgs I know of (besides this one) are:
  • Actus Reus, the 2L writer of which I recently learned is a friend of mine. “Hey, do you write a blog?” is just not a question that comes up often in law school so, although he may have known my “real” identity for some time, I had not a clue of his. The gulf between the digital and the physical world can be wide, it seems.
  • Idle Grasshopper, a 1L I haven't met and who hasn't posted in recent weeks, but he's made many interesting observations about law school from the perspective of an evening student balancing both coursework and a full-time job.
  • Veritable Cornucopia, which started as a group blog, but which was maintained primarily by Sam, a GW 3L (who was a 2L when the blog started). Unfortunately, it largely seems he's given up on the project.
  • Life, Law, Libido (aka “L-Cubed”) is written by two GW grads (Matt graduated from GW, too, didn't he?), but since they've graduated, it's a bit of a stretch to continue calling it a GW blog.
Is that it? Am I missing any? If not, again I ask: Why don't more GW students blog? Or perhaps they do, and I just don't know about it? If you're a GW blogger, Hi! Please say hello sometime. I won't bite, I promise.

Posted 09:25 AM | Comments (6)

January 08, 2005

MT 3.14 & Blacklist 2.04b

If everything went as it should, ai should now be running on MT 3.14, with the latest version of Blacklist. Please let me know if you encounter any unexpected problems. Thanks! UPDATE: I've also now installed MT-DSBL, which is supposed to work in conjunction with Blacklist to block comments from open proxies and IPs on the blacklist. Right now the plugin will force moderation of all comments it catches. If it seems to be working well, I'll change it to block those comments w/out any moderation hassles. If you have any experience with this plugin, it would be great to hear whether it has worked for you. Btw, the above changes were inspired by Six Apart's Guide to Combatting Comment Spam. If you run an MT installation, you might want to check it out.

Posted 08:46 PM

Formatting Experiments

Are you tired of your ambivalent imbroglio? Is it wearing out, grating on your nerves, or making your eyes cry out with boredom or clutter? Is your imbroglio just too darned tired? Well never fear! Experiments are here! In the next few weeks I'm going to be hella busy, so there's no better time to embark on a redesign of ai. At least, there's no better time to plan for such a thing and talk about it and wish I could do it, even if I don't actually get around to it. First up, I'd like to change the posting pattern around here. For some time I've admired the rather unique way Dave Winer posts on Scripting News. The format seems to be that anything post that's more than a short paragraph gets its own title, while anything that's just an observation or pointer to somewhere else just gets a line or two. The key is that all of these posts—both the longer, titled ones, and the untitled snippets—get permalinks. The colored permalink symbols (#) at the end of the snippets mark the transition from one snippet to the other. The only slightly incongruous element of this method is that the titled posts get a permalink at the top (after the title) instead of at the end, like the snippets. Winer does not allow comments on any of his posts. Anyway, I've been thinking of a convenient way to do something similar to Scripting News here at ai, because it would allow me to eliminate the ambivalent bits sidebar and just incorporate those kinds of links into the main body of the blog each day. That would simplify the design of the page, and would also make archives more meaningful because everything posted on a given day would end up in the same place. Does anyone have any thoughts on how to accomplish this? One idea is simply to create one post per day. Within the post, each “item” would get an anchor on the end. Longer posts would also be components of the single daily post, but they'd have titles, and again, an anchor at the end. I can't decide whether to allow comments on everything, or just on the longer bits. What do you think? Or does it even matter? Perhaps I'll just try it and see. As food for thought, Andrew Raff (who was actually the original inspiration for ambits) has developed something like this on his blog. However, his short items don't have permalinks or comment/trackback links. The cool bit is that they are clearly distinct content because they appear w/a light grey background. Perhaps I'll try out something like this, as well. When any of this will happen, I can't say. For now, these are just ideas I hope to play with. The larger redesign will probably eliminate the ability to “transmogrify ai” (change color schemes), simply because I don't think that adds much value for anyone. I wanted to see if I could make it work, and now that I have, well, it's not as fun anymore. I'm also considering:
  • Upgrading to MT 3.14. This I will definitely do, possibly today. I'd really kind of like to move to an open source platform (i.e. WordPress), but that will require far more time than I have in the foreseeable future.
  • Adding a CAPTCHA comment requirement, although Preaching to the Perverted says his didn't work as well as hoped.
  • Creating a changeable photo-header, again, much like Scripting News (the Scripting News header photo changes at Winer's whim, usually every couple of months or so, I'd say).
  • Editing the blogroll to a more manageable number of links and putting the rest elsewhere. I've been playing with and it looks like it might make a great link manager. This looks like a fairly easy way to include your list of links on a page via the RSS feed, so maybe I'll play with that.
  • General simplification to make the page read more easily and load faster.
If you have suggestions, comments, or requests for an ai redesign, please let me know.

Posted 08:05 PM | Comments (8)

January 05, 2005

Chopper City

Washington, D.C., is a city of helicopters. After just over two weeks relaxing in the relative wilds of Montana and Michigan, we've returned to the city built (at least partially) atop a swamp. The temperature here is a balmy 45 degrees and the air is thick with humidity. Everywhere we go it seems we are serenaded by the staccato thump of helicopters and the shrill notes of emergency vehicle sirens. It is an unnatural music for a completely unnatural place. This is where we live. This is where we will spend 2005. 2004 was nothing like I expected; in fact, it was an incredible disappointment, thanks primarily to the outcome of our gerrymandered electoral process and the politics of fear. I'm not sorry to see 2004 go. Now, what will 2005 bring? I have little clue. The adjustment back into my so-called “life” will take some time. After spending the last two weeks almost completely disconnected from the internet, I'm surprised to say I kind of liked it. Kind of. It's good to really get away. Of course, now there's lots of catching up to do, both online and off. Meanwhile, did you see Jason Kottke's Best Links of 2004?

Posted 03:39 PM | Comments (2)

December 31, 2004

Airport Happy New Year

Hi from the Minneapolis airport. Did you know today is the 366th day this year? I've just had enough time to pay my $7 for the privilege of 'net access, download several hundred emails, delete several hundred comment spams, and learn that Jeremy Blachman is Anonymous Lawyer. Read all about it in the NY Times story! (Thanks to Monica for the tip in the comments here and for her links.) In the few seconds I've had to skim a few of the many links about it all, I've learned from Notes from the (Legal) Underground and Half-Cocked that there's some amount of controversy involved with the whole thing. I don't have time right now to understand what that's all about, so instead I'll just say: Congratulations, Jeremy! I didn't read Anonymous Lawyer much, but it obviously struck a nerve and if it helps to launch your desired career, then mazel tov! And to everyone else: Happy New Year! I'll check in again in 2005...

Posted 11:50 AM | Comments (2)

December 19, 2004

Publicity Thanks

Thanks to Jeffrey Rosen for mentioning ai in “Your Blog Or Mine” in today's NY Times Magazine, and thanks to Jeremy for pointing it out to me, and thanks to How Appealing for the mention and link as well. I haven't read the article yet, but I can tell you that if you're looking for the GW blog that talks about student sex scandals, you're more likely to find that stuff at Life, Law, Libido, or “L-cubed” as it is affectionately known. If you found the Times article interesting and ended up here, you might want to explore the archives; there may be some items in the meta-blogging category that you'll like. Also, I'm obviously curious to learn what people think of Rosen's article; comments are open. Thanks for stopping by!

Posted 07:46 AM | Comments (8)

December 18, 2004

Question: Small Firm Private Blog?

Below is a question I received from a friend, and since I don't really know the answer, I thought I'd see if anyone else does. My friend writes:
Is there a way a small civil rights type law firm could get a free or extremely cheap blog that could be personal to them? Or is blogging essentially public? There has been talk about trying to have some sort of newsletter that people could easily post to, with comments about whats going on with them, their clients, their kids etc. but it would HAVE to be private as client information would be internally discussed......not a blog?
Does anyone know the best way to accomplish what my friend seeks? I know that WordPress allows you to password-protect posts, but I'm not sure if that would be secure enough for a private, small firm blog. I'm thinking they need some sort of intranet or otherwise secure network. If they ran their blog off of their own server and required a password to access the server, then a blog would work fine, wouldn't it? But then, that could be a little costly to buy and run a server, couldn't it? Or could you do this with a virtual server (shared hosting) with htaccess or some more secure password-protection for the directory in which the blog resides? Obviously, this question is a bit over my head. For those of you with more knowledge than I, please leave any suggestions in the comments or send them via email so I can pass them on to my friend. Thanks!

Posted 12:01 PM | Comments (5)

Blogging: Call for Papers

The other day I noted a couple of academics are studying blogging. Now, the academic journal “Reconstruction” is devoting an issue to the theme of “blogging” and is inviting “papers/projects/manifestos” on the subject.
We are especially interested in the experiences, theories and perspectives of those who actually blog. Feel free to propose other topics to the editors.

Posted 08:33 AM

December 12, 2004

Studying Blogs and Blogging

Now is apparently the time in the history of blogging when academics decide to study the phenom. First, a researcher at UNC is studying blog ethics, while another seeks “thoughtful adult bloggers (a18 and older)” to interview for what sounds like a very interesting master's thesis. Follow those links if you'd like to help out.

Posted 09:22 AM

December 11, 2004

BlawgCoop & WordPress

Welcome to Legal Fictions, a new 1L member of the BlawgCoop! Legal Fictions is currently undergoing the finals process along with many of us, but he's keeping a healthy perspective on the whole thing. If you have time, wander over and say hello. Incidentally, BlawgCoop (or Co-op) is open to all, and now supports WordPress as well as Movable Type, thanks to the generosity of Dreamhost, which just tripled our bandwidth allowances and added one-click support for installing WordPress. Pretty cool. I've played a little with WordPress and found it to be a very nice and robust blogging platform. It seems to have just about all the functionality of MT, and then some. For example, it allows you to post “private” or “secure” posts to which you can control access—might be nice for when you want to rant about your professors or fellow students, but don't want all the world to see. I fear that could cause some trouble, though. What if I posted a “private” rant to which I gave you access, then you quoted my rant and blogged about it on your own site? I'd still be in the same trouble as if I'd just made the post public in the first place, wouldn't I? My thinking is that any idea of posting “private” stuff online—material you don't want other people to see—is just asking for trouble. But that's a tangent. The really cool thing about WordPress is that it's released under the GPL, which means no one will ever be able to tell you what you can or can't do w/your installation of it, something Dive Into Mark called Freedom 0. That's certainly something to think about if you hope to be blogging for more than a little while. I know some people (like Dive Into Mark) jumped from MT to WordpPress when MT started its new licensing scheme a few months ago, and some of those people wrote extensive comparisons of the two programs. Here's one from Burningbird, another discussion here, a comparison of the template systems in WordPress, MT, and Blogger, and an essay by the same person on why he decided not to switch from MT to WordPress. In all, it sounds like the consensus is that WordPress remains a bit more difficult to customize than MT, but may be easier for newbies to manage apart from fiddling with templates and stuff.

Posted 12:18 PM | Comments (1)

December 06, 2004

DG Uncloaks

Ok, it took me a while to notice b/c I've been out of the habit of checking since the mad squirrel took over, but Ditzy Genius has reemerged, sort of, for the time being. Welcome back, DG!

Posted 10:33 AM

December 01, 2004

Why do you blog?

As some people have already noted, an article in this month's Student Lawyer magazine has something in common with this blog—your humble ambivalent blogger wrote them both. And since Student Lawyer has yet to get its own blog or enable any sort of feedback feature on its site (other than letters to the editor, of course), I happily offer this forum for your feedback on the article. Comment away! Specifically I wonder: What do you think of the general argument that blogs/blawgs are valuable for law students? More to the point, why do you maintain a blawg? Do you do it for any or all of the reasons the article discusses, or are there other reasons for your habit? Also, what about that whole “blawg” moniker? It's kind of cute, but is it worth anything more than that? Should we talk about law-related blogs as “blawgs,” or is the regular old “blogs” preferable? Are there other negatives to blogging as a law student that the article doesn't mention? Finally, thanks to everyone who responded to my calls for input on this article early last summer. As you can see, I basically just took the great things a lot of you said and wrote transitions between them; I'm just the messenger. Also, I had much more material than the magazine had space for, so if you sent in comments that aren't in the article, it's only because of that lack of space. Related food for thought: UPDATE: “Blog” is apparently the number one word of the year, according to Merriam-Webster (via AmbivaBlog, which shares me ambivalence about this, obviously). And in related law-blogging reading, see also What Weblogs Can Do For You, a brief primer for legal practitioners by Evan Schaeffer.

Posted 03:19 PM | Comments (12)

November 29, 2004

Blawg Wisdom Lives & 5 x 5

Holy dormant websites, batman! Blawg Wisdom has been updated, this time with three hot new requests and some better late than never admissions tips. For the good of your fellow students and the future of humanity, please browse on over and offer some helpful advice if you have any. Thanks! Also, your humble blogger recently participated in a Five by Five: Law Student Edition over at the [non]billable hour, along with four highly esteemed colleagues. Since now is the time in law school (finals time) when we all have plenty of complaints about the monster, you might enjoy some of the suggestions over there. It appears a majority of us believe that law school should be either shorter or more focused on practical experience, or both. In fact, possibly the most consistent thread in all the suggestions is that law school should give students a better, more realistic idea of what it means to practice law. Or, as Jeremy Blachman so aptly puts it (in his point 2), “If law schools are trying to train their students to be practicing attorneys, no one has told the people writing the curriculum.” So sadly true. But since law school can't be everything to everyone, why not allow different schools more freedom to do different things? That would be the point of Anthony Rickey's first point, which suggests we eliminate the ABA's accreditation system. You won't hear any complaints from me. In addition to possibly making law school less expensive, would fewer accreditation requirements allow schools to offer different curricula to serve different learning styles? Perhaps you could have more practical schools, more theoretical schools, more firm-oriented schools, more public interest oriented schools. Sure, we have that now, but the differences could be greater, and that could be good. You could also have one, two, or three year programs, and that would be excellent b/c it would allow different students to choose the level of education they could afford. Here's another idea I had reading through all these suggestions and thinking about my own: Law school should last two years. (That's not the idea; lots of people have suggested that.) The first year should be general and broad, much like it is now but even more so, including more history, theory, and providing a better idea of the terrain of law so students will understand as early as possible what their options are. Then, the second year would be more focused. You would have to choose whether you want to do criminal law, tort law, corporate law, tax, etc. You specialize, just like you do as an undergrad, and you take a focused curriculum that gives you excellent skills in your chosen field. Then you go to work. And if you ever decide that you chose wrong, you can go back. For example, if you decide after your first year that you'd really like to be a corporate lawyer, but then you go off to a firm and hate it, then you go back to school for one year and one year only and take a focused and concentrated course in some other specialty. You'd always be free to go three or more years at the beginning to take multiple specialties—if you were rich and could afford the luxury, or if you just couldn't make up your mind what area of law you wanted to specialize in. But the option to save $30k-$40k would be there for the rest of us. This way, you get a more thorough education in your chosen field, and you only have to pay for the classes you really need. Why not?

Posted 07:52 AM

November 05, 2004

New Spam Technique

Apologies to anyone who has tried recently to comment using a “” email address. I've been deluged with spam on this blog and in response I've been using MT-Blacklist very aggressively, banning URLs left and right. It seems that in the latest batch of mass banning, I ended up blocking all comments from “” email addresses, making people using such addresses completely unable to post. Thanks to Scott for pointing out the error so I could fix it. Now all you yahoos (no offense intended) can comment away, and I hope you'll do so. The conversation in some of the posts below is terrific. On the subject of spam comments, I've also noticed a new technique: Spammers are starting to quote the post they're commenting on. So instead of getting spam comments full of illicit URLs or jibberish or inanities (i.e. “great site! buy diamonds for pennies!”), the comments sound legit at first glance because they're talking about substantive things. Look closer, though, and you'll see your own words being repeated back to you—without attribution, I might add. So would this be a double-offense: both spam and plagiarism?

Posted 07:37 AM | Comments (1)

October 07, 2004

John Stewart, Blog breaks, SYDHT

One: John Stewart will be signing his new book at Politics and Prose on Friday, 10/15 at 1 p.m. [link via DCist] Why, oh why, did I start a job and giving up having Fridays off? Two: Hmm. Near the same time that DG decided to take a break, Kelly at Just Playin' is thinking about going underground. And Musclehead is talking “break' too! Is there a spreading theme here? Three:L-Cubed has started a new feature called ”So You Don't Have To“ in which Scott reads something good in print and posts about it so you can save yourself the cost of the magazine or whatever. Brilliant idea! Four: Do you play computer games in class? In my ConLaw class, one person is usually playing something that looks a little sims-like. In Evidence, every day, for the entire hour, this guy in front of me plays emulated Nintendo games. He occassionally pauses the game to tap in a note about what's happening in class, but probably 98% of his time and attention is on the games. Incredible, really. The game looks pretty fun, though. Oh, another popular one: Snood. Five: Our home network has been down all week and Verizon can't even hook up our phone 'til next Tuesday, meaning we won't have DSL until sometime after that. At the moment, they can't even tell us whether our phone line is DSL-capable—they have to hook up the phone first. If we find the line doesn't support DSL, online life is going to be very sad, indeed. Anyhoo, my severely limited access to the 'net may mean lack of updates or responses to comments or emails until things settle down, just FYI.

Posted 09:52 AM | Comments (3)

October 05, 2004

Au Revoir?

In a shocking move, Ditzy Genius recently bid farewell to her readers, “probably permanently.” Can this be? Can one of the bloggers I've read so regularly and enjoyed so completely really be calling it quits? Of course I hope she decides to return sometime soon, but at the same time, I also understand that she may have good reasons for taking a break—even a permanent one. I've thought about making the same move probably once a month since starting this thing, and more frequently since starting year-two of law school. It seems common for “law school blawgs” to fizzle before their authors make it through the process, and I've recently had glimpses of why that is. I'm guessing it's something about the demands of year two, the lack of novelty in the process, the priorities turning elsewhere. (Not that any of these reasons necessarily played any part in DG's decision; this is just my own perspective.) But as the process changes, so, too, can the blog. At least I hope it can. The dominant content of aihas changed several times over the last two years (at least I think it has), and that's fine with me. I know I lose readers and gain readers when my focus shifts from one main topic to anther (from leaving grad school/thinking about law school, to the democratic primary process, to 1L of law school, to the sort of transitional grab bag period of the present), but that's how it goes. Maybe somewhere around year two is adolescence for blogs? You know, the difficult years, the growing pains, the identity crisis? Whatever. I still enjoy it, so I'll continue for now.* Still, I understand making a different decision, so best of luck, DG! I know many of us will miss you while you're gone, and we'll be thrilled if you decide to return! *I may have mentioned this before, but to me this blog has become a sort of hobby, a project, a toy. Specifically, I think of a certain stereotype of a man who has a wife and kids and job and responsibilities (which I don't; I'm just painting a picture here), and in every way seems like a nice and normal guy, but you go in his garage and there you find a piece of junk old car that doesn't run and quite probably never will. Yet, whenever this guy gets a free weekend or even a few spare hours on a Wednesday night, he'll either be playing around with the car (“restoring” it), or talking to friends about where to get parts or what modifications to make or whatever. So the car takes up his spare time and money and energy and imagination, and it might drive his friends and family crazy except that they know he enjoys it and it keeps him from getting into trouble doing something else with those resources. So this blog is my piece of junk old car in the garage, my hobby and distractio. Except my piece of junk runs; I can take it for regular drives. Sure, there's always some tinkering I'd like to do under the hood (for example, last weekend I eliminated the annoying bug where all archive links turned into a link to a book about Howard Dean on Amazon; no, that was never intentional), but when I'm short on time I can also just take it for a spin around the block w/a quick post about whatever. I mean, if I ever have a house with a garage where I think I'm going to be able to stay for a good little while, I'll probably have a real piece of junk old car in there to play with. There's actually a 1972 MGB Roadster in Montana that would fit really nicely in my garage if I had one. But, in the meantime, this is my ambivalent hot rod. Perhaps the analogy only works inside my head.

Posted 12:13 PM | Comments (3)

September 15, 2004

Amazing Race Luck

Did you see The Amazing Race last night? Did you see Colin and Christie, possibly the most dominant team ever, almost get booted because of smart play on the part of the other teams? It was a beautiful thing, but alas, the C&C team is still in the race b/c it was a “non-elimination leg.” The finale is next week. On My Own Personal Scorecard^{(r)}^, Chip and Kim are the only team remaining that deserves to win (although the “bowling moms” have done pretty well, too). If C&C win, I will lose all faith in humanity and I will be moving to Canada because it will be a sign that the end of the world is near, Bush is going to be reelected, and a long period of war and misery will soon descend upon the globe.* Mark my words. Oh, and as usual, the Yin Blog has already commented on this episode. Don‘t miss Yin’s Reality TV category for comments on the whole season. * I‘m kidding, of course. It’s a tv show, ferpetesake!

Posted 08:21 AM | Comments (3)

Welcome GW Bloggers!

Say hello to Idle Grasshopper (don‘t miss his great post on Schadenfreude) and Neil Chilson, two new 1L bloggers (or blawgers) at GW law school! That brings GW’s blawger total (or rather, the total number of GW blawgs I know about, since I‘m guessing there are others) to a humble 5. They include ai; Life, Law, Libido, which I’m still counting even though Scott and Matt graduated; and Veritable Cornucopia, which I‘m also still counting, even though it hasn’t updated since May. (Maybe if I keep linking to it, it will wake up?) That still seems very sad. Georgetown, Michigan, Indianapolis (see the special sections in the blogrolls of these sites for links to school-specific blawgs), and probably others are putting us to shame. (Does anyone know of other schools that have a large concentration of blogging students?) I wonder if the day will come when schools actually encourage students to blog as a recruitment tool. I mean, will blogs/blawgs become a factor in people‘s admissions choices? Have they already? Did anyone out there use information gleaned from blawgs in making your choices about where to apply?

Posted 07:14 AM | Comments (2)

September 13, 2004

Blawg Wisdom Requests

Blawg Wisdom announces: The Wisdom Request Form! This new feature allows readers to request wisdom on specific topics. However, it won‘t work without you, the wise and generous readers of ai and other blawgs. Please visit Blawg Wisdom occasionally to see if there are any new requests (they’ll be collected in the Requests Category), then respond to those about which you have something to say. Also, please spread the word about this new feature and encourage others to share the love. Our first request has already arrived! If you have any thoughts about buying a laptop for law school (or would like to suggest other resources to investigate), please share! Remember, you don‘t have to provide definitive answers; thoughts and opinions are welcome. As always, if you write or run across law-school-related advice, please submit it to Blawg Wisdom! And as the Bartles and Jaymes gents used to say: Thank you for your support.

Posted 11:53 AM

September 12, 2004

Reality is good

L. and I had the pleasure of meeting The Scoplaw and In Limine for coffee yesterday, and it was terrific to finally meet two bloggers I‘ve been reading for some time. We met at Tryst, but not surprisingly it was packed so we crossed the street to The Left Bank, which turned out to be a calm, airy place to chat. The Scoplaw and In Limine are both 1Ls at GULC, but they both seem to be taking the first year in stride—busy, taking things seriously, but keeping it all in perspective. The Scoplaw is enrolled in the infamous “Section 3,” which I guess is officially called “Curriculum B”:

Curriculum “B” was developed in 1991 by a faculty committee charged by the Dean to comprehensively rethink the first year of law school and offers an innovative and integrated approach to the study of law. ... The “B” curriculum, available to one section of full time students, requires seven courses different in emphasis from those in the “A” curriculum: Bargain, Exchange, and Liability; Democracy and Coercion; Government Processes; Legal Justice Seminar; Legal Practice: Writing and Analysis; Process; and Property in Time. The “B” section emphasizes the sources of law in history, philosophy, political theory, and economics. It also seeks to reflect the increasingly public nature of contemporary law.

In other words, the “B” curriculum (which all the GULC students I’ve met just call “section 3”) sounds like a dream curriculum to me, and the more I learn about it the more jealous I become of the lucky students who get to take it. Which would you rather take, Contracts and Torts (boring blackletter bullshit), or Bargain, Exchange, and Liability? And any class named “Democracy and Coercion” has got to be terrific. *sigh* If only my LSAT had been a few points higher...

But, and so, I look forward to hanging out with The Scoplaw and In Limine again sometime so we can continue plotting our route to complete world domination.

But in addition to making me pine for an alternative law school curriculum, coffee yesterday also made me wonder: Where are the GW blogs? If you check out The Scoplaw‘s blogroll, you’ll see nearly a dozen blogs by GULC students. If you check out my blogroll, on the other hand, you‘ll see one blog by a former GW student: Life, Law, Libido. There’s also one blog by a current GW student, Veritable Cornucopia, but it hasn‘t been updated since May. So I’m wondering, are there others I don‘t know about? Unfortunately, if I search for “gw blogs” I get lots of stuff about GW Bush, and that’s really not what I‘m looking for.
Is there something about GW students that makes them less likely to blog? Or, is there something about GULC students that makes them more likely to blog?

I do not know. It would be interesting to try to create a school-by-school blawg directory—has someone already done that? According to the blogroll at Cooped Up, IU Indianapolis also has a large number of blogs. So why do some schools have lots of blogs, and others so few?

Anyway, if you’re a GW law student w/a blog, hello! How ya doin‘? Please say hi sometime!

Posted 10:20 AM | Comments (5)

August 31, 2004

Double Announcement Day

Apple introduces the new iMac (coverage fromMacCentral, Reuters, and AP). Six Apart introduces Movable Type 3.1, including the new plugin pack. Wow, it's like Christmas in August or something. UPDATE: If all went well, ai should now be coming to you courtesy of MT 3.1. Whoa there! No need to get so excited! There's plenty for everyone...

Posted 07:50 PM | Comments (3)

August 24, 2004

Blawgs Go Bye? And Aggregators...

Cruising through the blogroll, subscribing to feeds where I find them and checking on things before school starts next week and I get buried, I've found several sad gaps and one major hole. First, Dylan Goes to Law School has been dormant for some time—since last January. Veritable Cornucopia has been on hiatus since the beginning of May—has the team decided to call it quits?

The good thing about those sites is they're still online, meaning perhaps their authors will return someday, and even if they don't, their archives are still available for reference. But sadly it appears one of my favorite blawgs from last summer and fall— Liable—has completely disappeared—the domain has expired! Liable, if you're out there, we wish you the best and hope everything is going well for you.

In other (rather random) blogroll news:

This walk through the blogroll was occasioned by my most recent attempt to get my blog reading under control via an aggregator. I'm trying out PulpFiction again, but rather than saving me time, it seems to be making more work.

Do you use an aggregator? Which one? How do you use it? Why do you use it? I've played with BlogLines, Net News Wire, Shrook, and PulpFiction. None of them really seem to bring all the speed and convenience that others have raved about, so I feel I must be missing something here...

Posted 12:43 PM | Comments (8)

August 23, 2004

Bye Bye Spammies

Atlantic City was kee-razy. No sleep, lots of smoke, lots of bells and whistles, and only a leetle money gone. See it all in the past few days of ambivalent images.

What was superfun was to return home after being gone only two days to find over 100 spam comments on the blogs. Hooray for comment spam! Not. Andbutso, life is good now because MT-Blacklist v2.0e has come to the rescue of idiots like me who upgraded to MT 3.0D for no good reason and destroyed our compatibility with the old (and very effective) version of MT-Blacklist.

If you're running MT 3.0D and you have problems with comment spam, get yourself some Blacklist today. If you're waiting to upgrade to MT 3.1 comes out, you're smart because the new and even more improved Blacklist will be built right into that. I wish I was smart, but I know I'm not; that's why I are in law school.

UPDATE: Blacklist reports it blocked more than 60 attempted spam comments overnight. You gotta love that!

Posted 09:33 PM

August 21, 2004

Blawg Explosion

I vaguely recall checking on the "" as a URL when I was setting up the Blawg Co-Op. At the time, I believe there was just a lame placeholder page there. Now, however, there's all kinds of activity over there. It appears to be trying to be some kind of blawg portal, which is interesting. It's also where you end up if you go to "" It doesn't look like it's a booming hive of posts and links, although it does seem to be updated regularly. Recent posts have included a heads-up about the ACS Blog, a post about the upcoming BloggerCon that Dave Winer is planning, a post about Feedster, a link to the Lynne Stewart Trial Blawg (a fascinating and frightening offshoot of the main site supporting Stewart), and finally, a post linking to four new blawgs (including Foot In Mouth, which I found recently somehow thanks to some advice on applying to law school it offered -- linked, of course, on Blawg Wisdom).

I assume the site is run by the same person making the posts, Bill Gratsch, who may be the same person responsible for the Gov Blog and eGovPad.

Is this another sign that blawgs are becoming a big deal?

Here's another possible sign: In a lecture today on how to write a "note" for a legal journal, a professor at GW suggested we read blogs (or probably blawgs) for topic ideas and to become familiar w/the conversation currently going on about topics in which we're interested. I wonder if this professor has a blawg and I just don't know it....

Whatever the case, I'm glad to see this kind of growing acceptance of blawgs. I fear my little article about them is going to seem quaintly outdated by the time it comes out, but then, a big part of the reason I wrote it in the first place was to give blawgs more exposure and share the benefits of blawging w/more people, and those goals seem to be coming to fruition, article or no.

Posted 03:43 AM

August 11, 2004

The Book I Am?

You're Watership Down! by Richard Adams

Though many think of you as a bit young, even childish, you're actually incredibly deep and complex. You show people the need to rethink their assumptions, and confront them on everything from how they think to where they build their houses. You might be one of the greatest people of all time. You'd be recognized as such if you weren't always talking about talking rabbits.

Take the Book Quiz at the Blue Pyramid.

[link via Half-Cocked; see also Buzzwords, aka The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.]

Posted 05:54 AM | Comments (5)

August 10, 2004

Slow Loading

Reader Survey: Have you noticed ai loads very slowly these days? For me, the right sidebar loads immediately, but the main content (the blog posts) take forever to pop up. Is this true for you, as well?

And if so, do any of you webslingers out there have any tips on how to speed things up? At first I thought maybe it was just a slow mySQL database or something, but then I remembered that MT pages are static—they don't rebuild every time your refresh the page—so that can't be it. What could it be?

Posted 07:35 AM | Comments (8)

August 08, 2004

Birthday / Blogday

In the middle of moving (which is what I've been doing today and what I'll be doing next weekend, as well), I almost forgot: Happy Birthday to ambivalent imbroglio, which recorded its first post two years ago today. That would mean August 8th is this blog's birthday, except that it wasn't really "born" so much as created, or started, or some less organic and spontaneous verb. Therefore, I guess August 8th is ai's "blogday." So Happy Blogday, ai! I hope you'll hold my attention and the attention of at least a few readers for many, um, more posts.

And yes, I realize it's completely bizarre to anthropomorphize my blog by addressing birthday/blogday wishes to it. It's an illness, but don't worry, I'm seeking treatment.

When I first began this blog I was still in graduate school working toward a PhD in English, but I had begun to realize (in typically melodramatic fashion) that I probably wouldn't stay there much longer. A year later, I had moved to D.C. and was waiting to start my first year of law school, while also obsessively following the race among the Democratic candidates to be the party's nominee for president. Now we have a Democratic nominee—someone who was at the bottom of my list for most likely or desirable canddiate—and I'm now just weeks away from starting year two of law school. Year one wasn't really that bad, but then, I didn't really expect it would be. Time flies when you're having something approximating fun.

I hope this time next year I'll be looking back at my second year of law school with satisfaction at how much I've learned, and with a much clearer sense of where I'm going with this legal education. It would also be nice to have either, A) some sort of project set up so I can apply for an Equal Justice Fellowship, or B) a clerkship lined up with a federal judge in Michigan, Montana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Colorado, California, Washington, or Oregon (not necessarily in that order of preference). I'd also like to have an income next summer, but you know, money is overrated. Let's see... I'd like a new computer and maybe a motorcycle and a new bike and a new president and health insurance for everyone w/out any HMOs. Yeah, that would be nice.

As an ex-girlfriend of mine used to tell me, it's good to want things.

Posted 08:16 PM

Link Love

bwisdom-page-views hit 1218 in its first week Thanks to Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit and Orin Kerr at The Volokh Conspiracy for linking to Blawg Wisdom and recommending it to their readers. Their links pushed the site from 79 page views two days ago to 1218 page views yesterday. Today it's at over 500 and counting fast. Isn't it amazing what a little link can do?

Posted 08:46 AM | Comments (2)

Letter to Mr. Comment Spammer

Dear Mr.,

Thanks for bombarding my site with spam comments in the last few days. Your ability to send 6-8 spam comments per hour to the multiple blogs that compose ai is very impressive. I would be in awe of your abilities, but for the fact that they are so pathetic. For now, deleting your comments and banning the IP addresses from which you send them is quite a little hassle for me. If your goal is to be a pain in my ass, you are succeeding. However, in the spirit of fairness I feel obliged to tell you that when MT 3.1 comes along with its new improved Blacklist, I will crush you.

Have a nice day,


Posted 08:37 AM | Comments (7)

August 07, 2004

ACS Blog via Lexblog

A few weeks ago the ACS was seeking applications from law students to act as volunteer editors for a new ACS blog. Well, the ACS blog is now online, staffed by a crew of six law student editors. So far all posts come courtesy of the editor in chief, but I assume that will be changing soon. The site looks good, and considering the amount of support for the ACS nationwide, this blawg is well-positioned to become very popular and influential. I'll be visiting often to see how it grows.

But since it's still just getting started, what's most interesting about the ACS blog at this point is a little logo in the bottom left-hand corner for something called LexBlog. LexBlog apparently "builds blogs for lawyers."

Yeah, that's right. Someone is now in the business of building blogs for lawyers.

LexBlog offers several packages, the most extensive of which take care of every possible detail of building and maintaining a blog, including the writing of content. LexBlog even claims its "lexPremium" plan comes with a "customized plan to establish lawyer or firm as 'go to' resource on topic." And it's all powered by Movable Type.

So law blogging has now taken the next step toward commercialization. On one hand I'm thinking, "why didn't I think of that?" Who needs a J.D. to build and maintain blogs for lawyers? Also, if the culture of law school teaches you anything, it's that you have to pay people to get stuff done. This makes lawyers a rich market of suckers who are pre-programmed to pay exorbitant fees for people to do things for them that they could do for themselves if they gave it half an effort (e.g. BarBri). Mr. LexBlog Kevin O-Keefe might make a mint this way. Nevermind the fact that thus far blogs have been almost completely noncommercial, an anomalous little pocket of the web and the world where there's virtually no profit to be gained or lost, where value is driven and measured by links rather than money. Nevermind how wonderful that is, and how fresh the air is in the blogosphere when it's unpolluted by profit motives. Nevermind that the foundation of the blog as a form is that it allows individuals or small groups to express themselves to a wide audience for free or virtually free, and that it offers very little incentive for manipulation or dishonesty, that the blog as a form has become a phenomenon precisely because of its honesty and freshness and originality and candor. Nevermind all that. I'm sure there's lots of money to be made here.

Don't you look forward to the day when you can pay a fee to become the "go to" resource on a topic? Forget about building credibility and earning the respect of your readers by dint of effort and intelligence and the love of what you do. In the brave new world of for-profit blogging, you'll be able to work as hard as you like to build a popular and reliable online resource, but there will always be someone (i.e. a big corporate law firm) with enough money to pay an army of bloggers-for-hire to make sure its own "blog" is the "go to" resource on your favorite topic. Hooray.

I anticipate comments reminding me that people have been making money from blogging for years now. For example, Radio Userland started charging for its blogging software years ago, and Movable Type recently started charging for its software, and you have to pay for hosting, etc. People have also been running ads on their blogs, trying to make money from them. And I'm sure LexBlog isn't the first blogger-for-hire. I know all that. It's ok. I understand that the complete commercialization of blogging is almost inevitable. I wish LexBlog a bright and prosperous future. Like I said, part of me wishes I'd thought of it first. Still, just because I understand how our world works, that doesn't mean I have to like it.

Ambivalence rules.

Posted 08:20 AM | Comments (6)

August 06, 2004

MT 3.0 Glitch?

I haven't had a chance to upgrade to Movable Type 3.01D, so maybe this is fixed, but I seem to have found some kind of glitch in 3.0. Since 3.0 is not compatible with MT-Blacklist, I've spent at least 5 minutes each day (often more time) banning IPs and deleting spam comments. (I sometimes get 30-40 spam comments/day; other days only two or three.) When I check comments to delete, a little confirmation window pops up, asking if I'm sure I want to delete the comments. I click the delete button, then wait. And wait. Nine times out of ten, the delete times out and returns a "can't find server" error. If I click the delete button again, it always works. I've also found that if I click the delete button once, then immediately cancel loading the page (command-period), then click delete again, it works.

Why does it take two tries to delete comments? Is this just my installation, or is this a bug?

I can't wait for MT 3.1 with built-in Blacklist. I have high hopes it will dramatically reduce the time required to keep a blog spam-free.

Posted 06:17 AM | Comments (1)

August 05, 2004

Spatula Serves Up Sweetness

I'm on the verge of being late for work but I wanted to thank Energy Spatula at Will Work for Favorable Dicta for meeting me for lunch yesterday. She is every bit as take-no-prisoners funny in person as she is on her blog, and it was terrific to finally put a face to the hypothetical weapon. At the risk of offending any of my secret readers (those who read but don't tell me so), the short time I spent with Energy Spatula made me realize how great it would be to have more friends like her. The lunch lesson: Life is better with more exuberant candor and less obsession with money, career, grades, etc. In other words: cut the bullshit. That's a lesson I'll keep in mind next time I start catching the freak anxiety disease around finals or whatever. Thanks, ES!

p.s.: Thanks to everyone who has sent me links and suggestions for Blawg Wisdom! The response has been terrific, as you'll all be able to see when I get a free moment to update the site tonight. Until then, keep the wisdom flowing!

Posted 07:38 AM

August 03, 2004

Wisdom Grows

Shout out to Letters of Marque, Sua Sponte, Screaming Bean, Jeremy Richey, Jeremy Blachman, and Transmogriflaw. Thanks to them, Blawg Wisdom is slowly becoming populated with links to great tips and gems of advice from successful law students around the "blawgosphere." As I read through some of the posts I'm impressed once again with the generosity and breadth of knowledge and experience and opinion displayed by so many blawgers. If I could only go back about two years and know then what I know now thanks to all of you...

But even though that's not possible, that's no reason to keep the benefits of our experience from those who are following in our footsteps. So again, if you have written or read a law school advice post on a blawg somewhere, please drop me an email so I can add a link to that post at Blawg Wisdom.

New: If you don't have a blawg of your own, but would like to pass on any tips or bits of advice to other law students about your law school experience, please send your wisdom to me and I'll make sure it gets posted at Blawg Wisdom.

Finally, here's a little experiment: Can the LazyWeb tell me the best way to automate Blawg Wisdom so that when someone writes a blog post containing advice for law students, that post automatically gets copied (and posted) to Blawg Wisdom?

Posted 10:41 AM | Comments (5)

August 01, 2004

Collected Wisdom

Law students who blog are constantly offering advice to other law students-to-be. This means there's a wealth of up-to-date information available for those who are interested, but it's not always easy to find. I wonder if we could devise some sort of advice aggregator, some central location to collect all this wisdom (or at least links to it) so that people would know where to go when looking for advice from people who have gone before them.

What do you think? Would it be good to have a blawg about blawgs (that would be a metablawg), specifically focused on advice from law students to law students? It seems like the alternative is what has been happening, which is that law students who blog all just randomly collect the advice we see here and there and hope people just happen to find it. That means we might spend a good amount of time and effort putting down some thoughts that we hope will help someone else in the future, yet that effort is wasted if the people who need it can't find it. Also, I've found numerous times that I read some good advice somewhere, but don't really need to think about that topic until later. Then, when I need the advice, I can't remember where it was. If we had a central repository of links to all the advice we read or write or know about, maybe it would be easier to find the exact information you need, when you need it.

So I propose this:

Blawg Wisdom: Advice about law school from those who are in it.

The idea is to create an advice aggregator. If you write or read a post from a law student, professor, or legal practitioner primarily containing advice about any aspect of law school or job searching while in law school or immediately after, please tell me about it (via email) . Tell me where it is (the URL), and if you can, provide a short summary of what readers will find there. I will post a link to it with your summary (or mine). Eventually, we should end up with a nice collection of advice that will be easily-accessible to all who are interested.

If you are a coding wizard of some sort and could help create a web form to collect advice submissions (so that people don't have to do it via email), that would be terrific.

And if you would like to share in the joy of keeping Blawg Wisdom up-to-date, let me know and I can add you as a poster. If you're part of the BlawgCoop, you'll be automatically set up to post at Blawg Wisdom, as well.

Posted 05:02 PM | Comments (4)

July 27, 2004

MT Plugin Winners

Six Apart has announced the winners of its Movable Type developer's contest. I'm thrilled to see there's going to be a new MT Blacklist that will be compatible with MT 3.x. Blacklist deserves the first place it won. I had to delete 54 spam comments today alone; something that I never had to do when running MT 2.6 w/Blacklist installed.

One of the second place winners, XSearch/Plus, also looks like a great addition. Even if no one ever uses it besides me (which I think is the case) the search function built into MT leaves a lot to be desired. This new plugin sounds like it will fix a lot of the weaknesses.

I'll also be installing one of the 3rd place winners, Multiblog, which allows you to include content from one blog in another. This should will finally solve a technical annoyance I've had for some time, which is that you don't see updates to the sidebars on this site (ambivalent images and ambits) until I rebuild this page, meaning I can update those "blogs" a zillion times but you'll never know it until I update this one. You hadn't noticed? Yeah, well, it's annoying to me, and that's really what this is all about, isn't it?

Finally, one of the competitors that didn't actually win looks like it should have. TypeMover is a plugin that lets you back up your entire MT installation—comments, trackbacks, templates, everything—rather than just the xml of your posts, which is what MT currently allows. I'll definitely be installing this soon.

Multiblog and Typemover appear to be available now. The others will be coming soon in a "plugin package" with all or several of the winning plugins packaged together. I'm looking forward to it.

Posted 05:59 AM

July 26, 2004

Blawging Around

For some time (19 weeks, it seems), Notes from the (Legal) Underground has featured a nice little weekly column its esteemed author, Evan Schaeffer, calls the "Weekly Law School Roundup." The latest edition is chock-full of terrific links, such as a list of blawgers who have recently expressed an interest in working as criminal lawyers, including Ichiblog, DG, ambulance chaser, and law v. life. Don't miss it!

Now, in the spirit of imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, I hereby present a little tour around some of the blawgs I've read recently.

First, Evan also notes that legal weblogs are starting to get more non-web press. As an example of new developments in legal blogs (or "blawgs"), he links to The Blawg Channel, a group blawg written by attorneys who are already prominent blawgers in their own rights. Could be interesting. I'm wondering if my little story is going to seem stale by the time it comes out (probably months from now). I guess that's just how these things go.

In the land of law students, congratulations to Scteino, who is transferring to BC Law and has upgraded (by necessity, it seems) to MT 3.01D.

Congratulations also to new-to-me blawger and self-proclaimed member of the "vast right wing conspiracy" Jeremy Richey, who made the journal at his law school (Southern Illinois University)—congratulations! He also has a good tip on using Wordperfect w/Linux for only $2.49.

Parenthetical Statement is another new-to-me blawg written by a soon-to-be 1L at American University. He's not a cutter, but he is a Star Wars geek and he's supporting Kerry for President.

Learning of another new DC blawger reminds me: We really should try to get together sometime (DC blawgers, that is). Perhaps we could do it before Energy Spatula leaves town?

Speaking of Energy Spatula, she's getting hit on by creepy pizza guys and wondering if OCI is worth her time. I'd tend to say "No," but then, what do I know? Although, Fitz-Hume of Begging the Question offers some good advice along those lines:

Speaking as a government employee, if you are certain that you want to work in government rather than for a law firm, then spend your efforts and energies on something other than OCI and cover letters to employers you don't want to work for. Your time is too valuable to waste on useless cover letters, and the added stress is not worth it. Better instead to spend time working on your grades or trying to get on a law journal or doing well in moot court competitions - all those things that make you more attractive to Uncle Sam.

Sounds good to me. Oh, and speaking of Begging the Question, Millbarge has a great post over there about blog crushes and "speaking blog." How different are our blog (or "blawg") selves from our in-the-flesh selves? It's a good question, but I think others will have to be the judge of that. Oh, but Scheherazade at Stay of Execution posits that blog crushes are unlikely to turn into anything real, but has offered to go to dinner with anyone who would like to convince her otherwise. Something tells me she's going to have more than one taker for that offer.

And quickly:

Posted 06:47 AM | Comments (4)

July 17, 2004

Amazon Push Blogs

Amazon is currently beta-testing Plogs:

Your Plog is a diary of events that will enhance your shopping experience, helping you discover products that have just been released, track changes to your orders, and many other things. Just like a blog, your Plog is sorted in reverse chronological order. When we think we have something interesting or important to tell you, we'll post it to your Plog.

In practice, if you're signed in to your Amazon account, the "plog" will turn your Amazon index page into a blog written by Amazon and featuring things they think you're likely to buy, based on your past purchases.

I'm sure this isn't the first time a major corporate presence has tried to co-opt the blog form for profit, but it's the most insidious for me. At best, this will be just one more way Amazon lets interested customers know about items they "want" to buy—especially if they start giving you the option to subscribe to your "plog" via RSS. At worst, this could be the death of the blog as a form of communication on the web; if average surfers (who aren't yet really aware of blogs) begin to associate "blog" with "just another marketing ploy," they'll lose interest fast.

The reaction from Defective Yeti—one of the blogs listed on Amazon's plog page—is right on the money:

A Plog, as near as I can tell, is a "personalized log," and is like a "blog" except you can't personalize it. Also, instead of you writing it and other people reading it, robots write it and you read it. Also, instead of being open to the world, only you can see it. But aside from that, it's pretty much nothing like a blog.

As far as I'm concerned, Amazon can take its plog and shove it. If I don't already know I "want" or "need" something w/out Amazon telling me about it, then I probably don't really want or need it, do I? That's what I thought.

Editor's Note: Funny. I'm unable to post this entry right now because, guess what, the MT-Amazon and MT-Bookqueue extensions that power the sidebar books feature of this site are getting an XML error from Amazon. Again I'm reminded that I seriously need to redesign this page to eliminate those two plugins!

Posted 01:08 PM

July 16, 2004

Reality TV Peeps Should Blog

Last night Bravo aired an episode of Queer Eye UK, which is eerily like the American version—especially the opening trailer, which features the British queer eyes doing exactly what the American ones do in that little montage. Does it have to be so identical?

But that aside, the show's subject was a guy who wanted to become a television personality, so the Queer Eyes gave him a website to help him look more professional to potential employers. That's cool, but I think the queer eyes dropped the ball a bit when they didn't give their project a blog. Today, if you go to Barra Fitzgibbon's site, it doesn't look very up to date. The Queer Eye episode on which he appeared was probably filmed weeks or months ago, and it ended with the strong suggestion that his tv career was about to really take off, yet Fitzgibbon's website offers no updates about what has happened to his tv career since. I'm guessing that's because Fitzgibbon doesn't know how to update the site, but if it had been built around a blog, he could have been updating it regularly with ease. Next time, Queer Eyes, give your guy a blog!

More generally, I suggest to anyone who goes on a reality tv show who would like to "capitalize" somehow on the 15 minutes of fame it provides: Get yourself a blog! Fans of the show you were on—your fans!—might love to get to know you better, and to follow your post-show progress. I'm not talking some PR site where you just promote yourself relentlessly, but a real, honest blog where you talk about your life, and where part of your life happens to be that you were on a reality tv show. And even if you don't want to parlay your reality show experience into some sort of film or television or celebrity career, you could still connect w/fans and possibly have some fun w/a blog. With Fox set to kick off an all-reality-tv channel, I'm betting the reality folks w/blogs will be the ones w/the greatest post-show success.

Posted 05:52 AM | Comments (1)

July 15, 2004

Want a "job" blogging?

From the email inbox:

The American Constitution Society is seeking volunteer Blog Editors to research and write content, moderate comments and edit submissions on a progressive blog monitoring legal news and public policy. Blog editors will interact with ACS staff and distinguished guest bloggers to create a national forum for progressive legal and policy discussion. Blog Editors will be expected to contribute approximately 3-5 hours a week to writing, editing and moderation. Their principal duty will be assuming responsibility for all blog content for one day each week, including daily news roundups and breaking news summaries.

It's about time the ACS got a blog. I'm not sure how all this volunteer blog editor business will work, but at least it's a start.

Posted 06:56 AM | Comments (2)

July 14, 2004

MT 3.0D1

Another update of Movable Type is here, but it doesn't appear to have what I've come to want most in the couple of weeks I've been using MT 3.0: Better ways to deal with comment spam.

Right now, MT 3.0 lets you ban comments from certain IP addresses, but you have do do so one comment/IP address at a time. This requires multiple steps to both ban the IP address and delete the spam comments. MT does give you a list of all recent comments w/ a checkbox next to each comment, but the only thing you can do w/ that checkbox is delete the comments.

This is a good start, but what I really need is the ability to list all comments (or the last 20-50), check a box next to those that are spam, then click a "ban these IP addresses and delete comments" button. Also, I should be able to ban comments from a certain email address, as well as comments that contain certain URLs. These options were available in MT 2.6 via MT-Blacklist, and it seems a real shame that users should have to sacrifice this functionality in order to upgrade their MT installation (and pay for the privilege!). Yes, MT 3.0 offers TypeKey as a way to deal w/comment spam, but I don't have time to screw w/all my templates to add TypeKey functionality, and I'm not sure I'd want to even if I did. MT-Blacklist works well; I hope a) its developer will make it compatible w/MT 3.0, or b) SixApart will build it more completely into MT 3.x. Please?

Posted 06:04 AM

July 02, 2004

Not So Big

New in the blogroll: The Painted Turtle random thoughts by kmsqrd, a 20-something engineer who says she wants to live in a Not So Big House. I never knew it before, I but I probably want to live in a not so big house, too. Doesn't that sound like a good idea?

Kmsqrd also has a cool side-blog called Collected Thoughts, "a collection of quotations by others that encourage thought." This is a great idea, and another great use of the blog form. I would only note that a site like this is just begging for categories and keywords; as it grows, it may become difficult for kmsqrd and her readers to find certain quotes they're looking for, so this kind of "metadata" would be really helpful. Does the new Blogger offers such things?

Posted 08:08 AM | Comments (1)

June 28, 2004

Introducing: Ambivalent Images

Welcome, everyone, to ambivalent images. This is a little project I started back in March, because, well, once the EJF Auction was over and all I had to do was catch up on my reading, outline, and study for finals, I really had way too much time on my hands.

As I explain here, the idea was to take a picture every day and post a picture everyday. So far, I've been able to keep up with the posting, but actually taking a picture every day is the hard part. What you'll see is that I almost never post a picture the same day I take it. Generally, the time lag is a week or two (or more). So it's not exactly what I intended at the beginning, but it's been great fun, nonetheless. Perhaps with practice I'll get better at the daily photo and be able to cut the time between taking and posting. We'll see. The bonus to the delay between taking and posting the photos is that every time I post a photo I'm reminded of what I was doing a week or two ago. I'm pretty forgetful, so it's been an interesting perspective-adjuster.

Anyway, beginning today, a portion of the daily photo will appear here on ai as a new feature in the right column. Click the photo excerpt to go to the full version, which includes explanation and commentary from your humble blogger, as well as comment links so you can tell me if you ever see or read anything that grabs you. Enjoy.

Tech note: ambivalent images is just a simple MT blog. The MTOtherBlog plugin allows the daily image to appear here. If you'd like to start your own "photoblog" based on MT, you might want to take a look at the MTPhotoGallery plugin and the MTEmbedImage plugin. I may play with these at a later date.

Posted 06:44 AM | Comments (3)

June 27, 2004

Whew: MT 3.0

Allrighty then, ai is now running on MT 3.0. Thanks again to Falconred for helping make this upgrade possible. Advice to anyone planning to upgrade: If you're already running MT, be sure you download and install the upgrade version of MT 3.0 rather than the full version. I didn't pay enough attention and copied the full version right over the old version, meaning I erased my config files and basically broke my MT installation. After a little hair-pulling and searching through the documentation, I think everything should be in working order now.

Matt asked what's new, but I'm afraid I don't have much to offer there. So far the big new thing is the stuff having to do with TypeKey. Other than that, the interface is shiny and new looking, but functionally unchanged (at least as far as I can tell). Others have reviewed MT 3.0 at some length, and you can see from the guide to new features that there really aren't many. So I paid and upgraded why? I guess because I could. As L always teases me, I always have to be "in the new" when it comes to things like this.

UPDATE: It looks like the upgrade broke something in the comments system. Right now, if you type a comment and click "post," your comment really will be posted, but it won't show up on the page. It will be emailed to me, and it will be added to the system, it just won't publish for some reason. I'll have to look into this another time—tomorrow evening, perhaps. For the time being, if you'd like to comment you can do so knowing that I'll see your comment via email but it won't actually show up on the page until I get this fixed.

Posted 06:50 PM | Comments (6)

Movable Type Licenses Right

After all the kvetching a few weeks ago when Six Apart announced a new licensing scheme for Movable Type, it looks like all the wrinkles have been ironed out (at least so far as I'm concerned). They've fixed the licenses so that you can run as many blogs with as many authors as you like, just like you could before (so long as you don't make any money from the proposition). I'm thinking it's time to upgrade.

Posted 09:22 AM | Comments (2)

June 22, 2004

An Ambivalent First

Inexplicably, Macsurfer currently features a link to this post here at ai. I don't understand why my little jibe at Safari attracted anyone's attention (perhaps for no better reason than that I linked to Apple's Safari page?), but I won't complain. Macsurfer was one of the sites I read daily for years—before I realized I'd better cut my consumption of mac-related obsessiveness if I was going to get other things done in my life. It remains a pre-eminent source for news of all things Macintosh, and I'm flattered for the mention.

Posted 05:00 AM

June 20, 2004

Unexpectedly What?

As part of my research for this article I had a couple dozen windows/tabs open in Safari when it decided to "unexpectedly quit." Nice. Stuff like that almost never happens w/Apple software, but I've found if it's going to happen, Safari is going to be the culprit. Oh well.

On the positive, thanks again to everyone who responded to my questions about law school and blogs, and to those who commented here. The deadline for the article is basically here, so if anyone wants to get in any last minute thoughts, now's your chance. Best/worst experiences, anecdotes (i.e. the first time you saw a stranger reading your blog, the first time you learned a prof was reading your blog, etc.), what you've gained from blogging — it's all fair game and most welcome.

Finally, I have lots of notes from the ACS Convention, and other topics that I'll share just as soon as this article is put to bed. For now I'll only tease you a little by saying that Judge Guido Calabresi did not say G. W. Bush was either Hitler or Mussonlini, he merely said that Bush "came to power" in the same way as those two historical figures. Nor did Justice Breyer say that the best thing about the "rule of law" is that the Supreme Court can do anything it wants and everyone will swallow it like good subjects should. At least not in so many words. I'll explain soon. Meanwhile, if anyone finds reports about the convention in the news or on blogs somewhere, I'd love to know about them so I can see what others thought.

Back to work...

Posted 09:20 AM

June 11, 2004


Thanks to everyone for all the comments (and emails) recently; collectively, you're helping to write an article whose goal is to help explain to the uninitiated why law students blog and what good might come of it for both writers and readers. This post explains more; all thoughts still very welcome and appreciated. If you email, please let me know if you'd prefer your thoughts not be quoted in the article. If you post a comment, it's already public, so I'll assume you don't mind if it's published elsewhere. If this assumption is incorrect, please let me know that, as well.

Meanwhile, ai will be quiet (from my end, anyway) for a couple of days while I "retreat" to the Maryland woods with my fellow summer interns and the attorneys we're working with. Much reading (for me, probably Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood, upon L's strong recommendation) card-playing, and swimming is promised.

Have a great weekend!

Posted 08:47 AM | Comments (1)

June 10, 2004

Blog Conversations

Thanks to everyone who responded to my request for anecdotes, opinions, and comments about law students and blogs. So far the best response has been from Pre-1Ls and new bloggers. Anyone else out there care to comment? If so, please email or comment on this post or the earlier one.

My question and its response raises more questions. First, why do people prefer to email rather than comment on the blog? Second, why do you think a post about ironing elicits so many comments, while posts about more "serious" things (i.e. blogs and law school or myriad posts here and elsewhere on subjects of politics, current events, history, social justice, etc.) elicit none? This may relate to my thinking out loud about the effect of blogs on the public/private sphere: Do blogs encourage talk about personal/non-public issues at the expense of discussion about public or social issues? Are law school blogs as popular as they are primarily because they give us an outlet for narcissism, a chance to revel in the daily travails of wrinkled shirts and annoying classmates who talk too much and professors who teach badly? And if so, is that really valuable? Or are law school blogs doing something more?

Again, I'm just thinking out loud. All/any comments/thoughts definitely welcome.

Posted 06:42 AM | Comments (12)

June 07, 2004

Blogs and Law School

Perspectives Wanted: I'm working on a short article about law students and blogs. If you are a law student (or soon-to-be or recently-graduated law student) or a law professor and you have any thoughts about the relationship between blogs and law school that you'd like to share, please comment or drop me an email. I'm specifically looking for thoughts and/or anecdotes in the realm of the following:

  • Why do law students blog?
  • What can law students gain from blogging? (Does reading and/or writing blogs help you get better grades? Does it make school more fun or interesting? Does it make you feel less lonely/scared/anxious/etc? Does it add something to your law school experience?)
  • What do you find most enjoyable or valuable about reading or writing a blog? (If you're a reader, what are the best posts or blogs to read and why? If you're a blog author, what have been your best experiences with blogging?)
  • Have you made any contacts via blogging that have led to professional advancement of some kind? For example, has anyone gotten job leads via a blog that actually turned into a job? Or have you learned about any other opportunities via blogging that have somehow been good for your legal career?
  • Does your school have a "blog community"? By that I mean, do you know and/or interact with other bloggers at your school?
  • Do you have any thoughts about law professors who blog? Do you find law prof blogs interesting or helpful in any way? Would you like to see more of them? Or do you find law profs who blog generally talk about things that don't interest you?
  • If you're a law professor with a blog, why do you do it? What have you gained? Do you read student blogs? Do you think blogging is a valuable activity for law students? If so, why? If not, why?
I could go on, but you get the idea. I obviously have my own experiences and thoughts on all of the above, but the more perspectives I can get, the better. I look forward to hearing from you. (And for the few of you I've contacted already about this, I hope to follow up with you soon!)

Meanwhile, this project has provided a good excuse to do a little research into the nascent field of blog history. A few interesting tidbits: According to Matthew Haughey and Peter Merholz, the word "blog" was coined by Merholz in about May of 1999. Blogger was born in August, 1999. This FAQ by Jorn Barger on RobotWisdom also offers an interesting snapshot of where blogs were in September 1999. It suggests the What's New page at Mosaic may have been the first blog, way back in 1993. Dave Winer says the first blog was the first web site built by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN. According to Rebecca Blood's history of weblogs, Barger was also the first to apply the term "weblog" to what we know today as blogs. The BlockStar Timeline puts all these pieces together.

According to this article, blogs are booming today:

Technorati, a San Francisco research company, says there are about 2.5 million blogs, with 10,000 being created each day.

The Pew Research Center estimates that between 2 and 7 percent of adult Internet users write a blog, and 11 percent visit blogs.

As for how many of those blogs are "blawgs" (or law-related blogs), the Legally-Inclined Webring currently has 449 members. If there's a better way to gauge the size of the legal blogging community, I'm not sure what it is. For comparison purposes, Denise Howell's blogroll at Bag and Baggage is quite extensive and clocks in at approximately 138 law student blogs (those "Learning the Craft"), around 52 "Academic" blogs (most of which are presumably written by law professors), and about 215 blogs in the "Practicing" category. So, according to these sources, the legal blogging community currently numbers

Posted 05:47 AM

June 06, 2004

Blogging in public and private spheres

This is going to seem random, but that's the way my mind works. What follows is just some thinking aloud about how blogs might affect the public and private spheres. My thoughts are related to the idea of the public sphere as described by Jurgen Habermas, but I'm thinking in more simple terms of a sort of basic line between what people feel should be/is public (acceptable for public discussion, public knowledge, related to other people), and what people feel should be/is private.

Question: What happens to the division between public and private spheres when people begin putting their daily diaries online? Does this already fungible division, A) disappear altogether, B) become somehow more entrenched, or C) something else or in between?

A) The division between public and private disappears altogether. If people put their most intimate thoughts online (in a blog, for example), nothing is left for the private sphere. Everything that's published goes into the public sphere, and the private basically shrivels up and dies. There are ways in which this could be a wonderful thing.

Example: Let's say that previously my decision about what kind of car to buy was a private decision, one I felt I could and should make on my own, possibly with only a little input from people very close to me. If this is a private decision, part of the private sphere of my life, I might feel free to buy the biggest, most gas-guzzling SUV I could afford. After all, this is part of my private life and affects only me (and perhaps a few people very close to me). Sure, people will see me driving my car, but by then it's too late. I've made the decision, and it's my decision to make, so who cares what they think. On the other hand, if this is now a public decision, one I make in a public way, with public input (i.e., via my blog), I may have many second thoughts about buying that big pollution machine that may cause more people to die so that don't have to pay too much for all the gas it requires. Instead of thinking that my decision affects only me, I will be reminded that it has far-reaching affects on all of my readers, as well as people I've never heard from or met. Net result: Fewer people buy SUVs. With a smaller or less clearly-bordered private sphere, I will be less able to delude myself into thinking my actions do not affect other people, and I will be more likely to make choices that are good myself and others, instead of those that only seem (superficially) good for me.

Of course, a disappearing private sphere could also be a bad thing. Is my decision to have an abortion a public decision, or a private one? What about my decision to have gay sex in my bedroom? The Supreme Court said last year that this was part of the private sphere, and therefore not subject to legislation. This is a positive step. However, I wonder if the same goals could be achieved by making this less private and more public. Instead of closing gay sex off in the privacy of personal bedrooms (a sort of "don't ask, don't tell" model), what if we all talked about it openly, with at least the same honesty and frankness with which we talk about heterosexual sex? Would prejudices against gay sex then disappear?

Bottom line: It seems impossible that the private sphere will ever completely disappear. Certainly blogging won't erase it....

B) The division between public and private becomes more entrenched. People do not put their most private and intimate thoughts online. Blogs encourage people to put more information online, so that at first glance it appears the sphere of privacy is disappearing—what was once reserved for the privacy of a personal diary or the intimate conversation of a trusted friend, is now published online for all the world to see. In some cases, this does appear to be happening. Especially on certain LiveJournal sites, for example, blog authors appear to be publishing very intimate details of their lives, pushing those previously private details into the public sphere. However, those intimate detail-blogs are by far the minority. While many blogs reach a surprisingly personal level, most still withhold a great deal of information about their authors' lives and thoughts. What is withheld is often guarded zealously, with blog authors taking great pains to keep even the slightest whiff of those subjects out of the public eye. So while the private sphere may be shrinking, it is far from disappearing. Instead, it's becoming more entrenched, more vehemently protected, more private and more precious. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Hard to tell.

C) The division between public and private neither disappears nor becomes further entrenched. Perhaps it doesn't change at all? Do you think your ideas of what's public and private have changed at all since you began blogging or reading blogs? Have the lines dividing what you feel you can and should discuss with other people moved at all? Has your idea of your relationship to other people/the world changed in any way?

Posted 08:21 AM | Comments (2)

May 31, 2004

The Bee-log Habit

Sitting in Tryst (a coffee shop in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of D.C.—used to have a cool website but I can't find it now) reading blogs seems like a good time to mention those for whom the blogging never stops:

Blogging is a pastime for many, even a livelihood for a few. For some, it becomes an obsession. Such bloggers often feel compelled to write several times daily and feel anxious if they don't keep up. As they spend more time hunkered over their computers, they neglect family, friends and jobs. They blog at home, at work and on the road. They blog openly or sometimes, like Mr. Wiggins, quietly so as not to call attention to their habit.

Who needs work, friends, or any other diversions when there's blogging to be done? I mean, I'm sure I'd be enjoying my summer job a lot more if I'd never heard of blogging before. Damn this evil habit! ;-) Could it be that blogs are just another harsh technological mistress?

Perhaps what's most remarkable about this article is its obsession with making money. The writer seems completely flummoxed by the fact that people spend time blogging and get no money for it:

Some compulsive bloggers take their obligation to extremes, blogging at the expense of more financially rewarding tasks.

Mr. Wiggins has missed deadline after deadline at Searcher, an online periodical for which he is a paid contributor.

Barbara Quint, the editor of the magazine, said she did all she could to get him to deliver his columns on time. Then she discovered that Mr. Wiggins was busily posting articles to his blog instead of sending her the ones he had promised, she said. "Here he is working all night on something read by five second cousins and a dog, and I'm willing to pay him," she said.

Ms. Quint has grown more understanding of his reasons, if not entirely sympathetic. "The Web's illusion of immortality is sometimes more attractive than actual cash," she said.

Gasp! People are doing something they enjoy rather than something that pays them money!?!? What is the world coming to!?

Anthony at Gates of the Mountains has a great response to this article:

To twist a Socratic paraphrase: although the unblogged life may still be worth living, the unlived life is definitely not worth blogging.

Very true, yet isn't one of the addicting facets of blogs the fact that one person's unlived life is the next person's thrilling adventure?

Am I living if I look around and tell you that the coffee shop is packed and one of the barristas is wearing a bright green t-shirt that says "Ithaca is COLD"? An older male patron is painting with watercolors and a young woman has taken a seat at his table and begun reading what look like coursepacks for college or graduate classes. They appear to be strangers, but they're willing to share. A woman has appeared at our table dressed in full biking gear, helmet and gloves and all. There's something about the smell of a biker that is not offensive, even if it is distinctive. People tend to sit in close proximity here. Next to me is a man who seems to have walked into the coffee shop w/a "venti" coffee from Starbucks. He ordered a water and is reading the paper. Some might call that rude, but perhaps he also ordered food? Tryst doesn't seem to mind. It takes all kinds. Even those of us with unlived lives that will nevertheless be blogged.

Posted 10:28 AM

May 22, 2004

Winer Weighs In

Although I haven't had time to try to follow it, I assume the debate about Movable Type's new licensing scheme has kind of settled down. It also looks like Six Apart is still tweaking that scheme to try to make people happy, which is a good thing. Meanwhile, without specifically naming Six Apart or Movable Type, Dave Winer of Scripting News weighed in with this:

Editorial: It's lame to charge for weblog software based on how many weblogs you make and how many authors there are. A weblog isn't that big a deal. Manila lets you make as many weblogs as you want with as many authors as you want. Today's modern $2K computer can manage thousands of weblogs. Charge a fair price and don't fuss over how many blogs they make or how many people edit them.

I couldn't agree more. Granted, I think the blogging software Winer is most closely associated with—Radio Userland—only allows each user to create one weblog, but who's counting?

I know almost no one reading this cares about it one bit. I'm sure there's some great interesting stuff to read on a totally different topic if you follow links from here.

Posted 09:23 PM

May 17, 2004

MT Options

After the weekend's furor over Movable Type's new licensing plan, the dust seems to be settling a little. For now I plan to stick with MT, and will probably buy the individual license.

Meanwhile, the furor has encouraged a lot of discussion around the web of alternatives to MT. This can only be a good thing, because it gives exposure to other developers and even if MT remains the preeminent blogging platform, it will have to stay on its toes to remain competitive. New options I've found (many from this mefi thread) which I may consider sometime in the mythical future when I have time for such things include:

Nucleus CMS eXtreme Edition
WordPress and TextPattern, both of which I mentioned before.
blosxom (free, open source)
b2evolution (free, open source)
WebGUI (appears to be more general CMS than dedicated blogging platform, but I'm sure it could work)
PHPX (free, open source)
rb.log (free, open source)
Discloser (free, open source)
Exscribe (still in infancy, it seems)
Absolut Engine

Many of the above are packages released under the GPL, which sounds great after reading Mark Pilgrim's convincing argument in its favor. But like I said, I have neither the time nor really the burning desire to make a big switch now. If I start any new blogs from here on out, they might use another package, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Posted 05:47 AM | Comments (3)

May 16, 2004

Remodeling Postponed

I had big plans to do a little housecleaning and remodeling here at ai before I started my summer job, but the time has slipped away and I guess the housekeeping will have to wait. For now, "ai Quick & Dirty" (right column) has become "ambivalent bits," or "ambits" for short. The booklist should be updated a little, and a new countdown is up. Nothing too exciting so far, but I do hope to introduce a fun new feature sometime in the next few weeks, depending on how that tricky balancing act of work and play goes.

Just for the record: According to this tracker, yesterday ended a streak of 25 straight days on which ai received 100 or more page views. That may not sound like much, but it's a record for this humble blog, and its author thanks you for stopping by.

Posted 09:10 PM | Comments (4)

May 15, 2004

More MT 3.0

People are still talking about the MT 3.0 upgrade and new licensing scheme. Luke notes that it might spell the end for many group blogs. That would be a sad loss; I wonder if Six Apart even thought about that. He also points to this note at Tech Dirt that sums up the pricing problems fairly well:

it seems that [Six Apart] screwed up one of the most basic rules in pricing: never take away features and charge for them. You can charge for new features - but taking away features that were included for free before always pisses off your most loyal customers. They feel suckered. They feel like you've pulled a bait and switch on them. In this case, many MT users set up multiple blogs with multiple authors. That's what the software encouraged them to do. Now, they're looking at the pricing and realizing to continue doing so on the new platform would cost them around $600. "Costs more for doing less" isn't a way to make users happy. One other rule of pricing: recognize the competition. There are an awful lot of blogging tools out there, and more are coming out every day. Not all of these are free, and people clearly pay to use certain tools. However, ignoring competitive pricing (as Six Apart appears to have done, since the prices they're offering are well above the competition) doesn't make much sense - especially when the switching costs really aren't that high.

In case I wasn't clear enough yesterday, I'll reiterate that I'm happy to pay for MT. I paid when I first discovered it because I loved it, and I'll pay again (probably) for a license for the new version. Six Apart has produced a terrific product, and they deserve to be compensated for it, plus the upgrades, speed improvements, etc., are all valuable to me. So I'm not suggesting that Six Apart should not charge, I just wish they'd provide licensing options that would enable users who are willing to pay to continue using MT in the legitimate ways they've been using it for years now.

Also, and maybe this isn't true, but this feels like a shift in blogging from a start-up to a corporate entity. I'm not just talking about Six Apart, but about blogging as a phenomenon, a social space, a new territory. For a while the territory was largely commercial-free—outside the dominant paradigm under which profit drives all decisions. Now, MT has moved into the realm of capital, as has Blogger now that it's been bought by Google and now that Google is going public. Suddenly blogging may become about business, and that shift hasn't proven a positive one for most things web-related

I know the reaction of many, if not most, readers will be that this is a good thing. As a profit-generating business, blogging will grow and flourish, people will have incentive to maintain and continue developing the tools, etc. Whatever. Profit also ensures we always have new movies to watch, but that doesn't mean they're any good. People deserve fair compensation for their work, but money changes things.

UPDATE: It sounds like Six Apart is listening to the critiques of its new licensing scheme and has announced some changes. The best one:

We're adding a new "Personal Edition Add-On" package that gives someone who has purchased a Personal Edition license the ability to buy 1 new weblog and 1 new author for $10. You can purchase as many additional author/weblog packs as you want, each for $10.

That sounds pretty fair to me and allows users quite a bit of flexibility.

Posted 09:11 AM | Comments (1)

May 14, 2004

MT 3.0

Movable Type, the software that runs this and thousands of other blogs, is no longer going to be free. (See a sample of the discussion here and here, via Scripting News.) See also the posts linked via trackback to the announcement of these changes. Many people are unhappy, for various reasons. I guess I'm one of them.

Six Apart, the company behind MT, claims its new licensing scheme will satisfy 85% of its users. I guess those of us in the other 15% should look elsewhere for a personal publishing platform. That 15% includes people who maintain or "host" more than 10 blogs on their MT installation, or who have more than 9 authors contributing to those blogs. I currently have at least 10 different weblogs running on my installation of MT, about half of which are dormant or experimental and rarely updated. Those blogs have close to a dozen authors, again, most of whom don't post frequently, if ever. To maintain this level of use, I would need to pay $150 at the introductory rate, or $190 at the regular rate. But since most of those blogs/authors were temporary or experiments, if I cut back to just what I really use, I'd still need to pay $70 at the intro rate, or $100 at the regular rate. That's not so bad, but then, what if I want to add a blog or author down the road some time? More money, more hassle.

Or, what if I wanted to start a co-op for law bloggers? Can't do it with MT anymore, I guess. It was probably a silly idea anyway.

As for Six Apart's other options, TypePad Pro offers unlimited blogs and authors, it looks like, but that will cost you $15 per month! That's $180/year. That seems like an awful lot of money to be spending for the life of your blog, doesn't it? Maybe not. Maybe this is just the price we'll have to pay. (Or, for most people, only $60/year for just one blog/author, or $120/year for three blogs and one author.) I don't really think an idea like BlawgCoop could really work even w/TypePad Pro because, although it allows unlimited blogs, the "authors by invitation" thing makes me think different authors can't have their own blog, but can merely post to yours. That's not the idea.

So you see, my objections to charging for MT are not on principle, or because I think it should be free. I've donated to MT and would be happy to pay for the software—even for updates every year or three. I understand developers can't create software for free; they need to eat and have lives, as well. Great. However, the success of MT created a large group of people—dare I say a "generation" of bloggers—with the expectation that, even if the tool would not always be free, it would always allow them to create as many blogs as they wanted with as many authors as they wanted. That was one of the cool features of MT, and it's a feature that's critical because it allows the imagination to run free—knowing I could add a new blog/author at any time with almost zero hassle and no cost has allowed me to experiment in ways that just wouldn't be possible otherwise. It allowed me to at least consider an idea like BlawgCoop, and even if it was a bad idea, a better one might have followed close behind. MT in its current incarnation (pre-3.0) offers more flexibility and choice than 3.0 will, and that's one of the big things I'd be happy to pay for.

If I switch tools, that flexibility, the openness, the opportunity to dream about new ways to use blogs and to experiment with those ideas or even implement them—that will be why. It's not because I don't want to pay, but because I don't want the blogging software I use to stand in the way of what I want to use it for.

A quick survey of other options for people who want more flexibility:


UPDATE: Jason Kottke is in about the same boat I'm in. He's got a great solution:

y not make the personal edition a flat fee of ~$60 for unlimited users and weblogs (in addition to the free version with 1 author/3 weblogs)? Here's the reasoning. Tiered personal use (per above) doesn't make much sense. Trust that people using the personal edition will use it in a personal way. The guy offering 50 of his friends MT weblogs on subdomains isn't going to pay for MT, not what you want him to pay anyway. If people start using it in that way, suggest an upgrade to the non-personal edition might be appropriate. If they refuse, they weren't going to pay you anyway.

It wouldn't cover an idea like BlawgCoop, but it would still give users room to move. See more today on Scripting News.

Posted 07:47 AM | Comments (6)

Ed note: This entry was written a few weeks ago but never posted b/c of other pressing events (a.k.a. final exams). It discusses an project that will either be abandoned or postponed because of recent changes to Movable Type. Please see the next post.

A week or two ago Buffalo Wings & Vodka migrated from Blogspot to Typepad, which was a welcome change for his readers for several reasons: now we no longer have to see ads on his page, we can subscribe to an RSS feed, the comments work smoothly and are built in to the content management system, and generally the page will probably load faster and more reliably. Plus, the site just looks a lot better, so it's more of a pleasure to read. This seems true across the board for TypePad sites—they look nice.

TypePad also appears to offer additional advantages, I think, although I'm not sure what they are. But the main thing is the reliability. Blogspot blogs are just interminably slow most of the time, and that's if they will even load at all. Was it just me, or have many Blogspot blogs been unreachable recently?

Movable Type shares most of TypePad's many advantages over Blogspot, with one crucial additional advantage: It's free. Ok, it's not free, because you need a host and a domain and all that. Plus you have to set it up and maintain it. But wouldn't it be great if novice bloggers (especially law students, law professors, and practitioners) could get all the advantages of a MT blog without the hassles?

As a reader of blogs, I think it would be really great. So here's the idea: Let's start a "Blawg" Co-Op—a server to host law student and other law-related blogs running on Movable Type.

First, we chip in to register a domain to host the blawgs. is taken, as is, so let's call it "" ("blawg co-op," see?). We'll install MT, then open it up to any law student, professor or practitioner (for starters) who would like to run an MT blawg there. Users will get their own password and an account and we'll assist where we can w/setup and basic design issues. Some or all users could have subdomains (, or they could just get their own directory w/in the main domain ( The only thing we'll ask in return is that users contribute equally to maintenance costs (hosting and annual domain registration at an annual cost of around $150/year to start). So if there were ten users, each one would pay $10/year. That's it. If we had 20 users, each one would pay $5/year. And what users would get in return would be far superior to BlogSpot (or Blog City, for that matter) in terms of quality of blogging environment and dependability, and it would also be far cheaper than TypePad.

People in my blogroll who use BlogSpot who I'd love to see on a better platform include:

Mixtape Marathon
So Sue Me
a mi parecer
Jeremy Blachman
Naked Furniture
Undeniable Dilemma
Screaming Bean
Veritable Cornucopia

See, there's over a dozen candidates right there, plus all the new "blawgs" coming online all the time—if they started up at BlawgCoop, they'd automatically connected to the community of existing law bloggers. So what do you think? Is anyone interested in such a "service"? Would anyone like to set up an MT-powered blog and pay something like $10/year or less?

Of course, a new option I just learned about for people wanting to switch to a more stable and reliable system and have their own domain is bloghosts. Their plans start at $3/month, plus annual domain registration fees ($20-$30), so again it begins to add up, but you would get your own custom domain, which is certainly worth a bit more.

Possible drawbacks to the whole "blawgcoop" plan include scalability—if the "service" attracted a lot of users, costs would go up as bandwidth and disk space increased. But then, if everyone's sharing those costs, they wouldn't be too high for anyone. Theoretically the cost per user could vary depending on bandwidth/disk space, but that would only come into play if one user started using dramatically more than everyone else. Also, support would have to be limited so it didn't become a huge time drag on anyone, but perhaps support responsibilities could be shared as well among users w/varying levels of expertise. I'm sure there are other drawbacks, like security weaknesses I'm not aware of perhaps.

On the plus side, another potentially fun thing we could start with the "service" is an optional group blog to which all users would be invited to post. Welcome to the BlawgCoop. You will be assimilated. ;-)

Posted 07:46 AM | Comments (2)

May 05, 2004

Discovery & Disclosure

Ok, my first year of law school officially ends tomorrow at 5 p.m. and I have a question for all my dear and beloved readers: Who am I? Do you know? Would you tell me if you did?

I ask b/c Favorable Dicta just posted about being "found out," and DG has disclosed her identity to some friends. Like them, I've taken a few small steps to actively conceal my identity (like not posting under my given name), but for the most part I assume anyone who wants to know who I am could figure it out. Referral logs tell me that at least someone at GW reads ai fairly regularly, and there have been indications that at least a couple of people have made the physical connection. I don't think about it often, but sometimes I wonder. Who reads ai and how many of those readers know me? How many do I know? As I think about starting the summer job, I wonder even more.

So: If you read ai and know me, please say hello. I've only kept my name off of these pages to stay, as the Energy Spatula puts it, "below google radar." I haven't really talked about ai with my classmates because it's simply never come up. One friend asked me once if I had a blog. I said yes, and that was that. She didn't ask any more about it. Perhaps she was just confirming what she already knew.

Anyhoo, I believe at least a couple "blawgers" will (likely?) be in D.C. this summer or fall for summer jobs or for school. If that group includes you, please look me up (email always works) so we can make our plans for legal world domination in person, rather than just virtually. Coffee's always good.
Posted to the tune of: Dark Center of the Universe from "The Moon & Antarctica" by Modest Mouse

Posted 05:54 AM | Comments (10)

May 01, 2004

Late Farewell to Invisible Adjunct

Thanks to The Menagerie, I just learned that the Invisible Adjunct ceased blogging over a month ago. As this great article in the Chronicle indicates, the Invisible Adjunct had attracted a huge readership, so it's really a shame to see her go. I certainly understand a choice to leave academia; it sounds like the IA experienced most or all of the negative developments that currently threaten to destroy higher education as we've come to know it in the U.S., so it's hard to question her decision to leave that dysfunctional sinking ship.

Yet, her decision to close down the blog seems like another matter. Not everyone can claim to get 18,000 readers a month on any topic, let alone the relatively obscure topic of the plight of adjuncts in higher education. After all the work she put into it, it certainly would have been nice if the IA could have done something to turn her blog into some sort of positive catalyst for change in academia. Perhaps she could have passed the reins to another adjunct, or passed the domain to a collective of adjuncts who could continue the discussion of issues adjuncts face, as well as perhaps begin organizing adjuncts to start standing up to the almost criminally negligent tenured faculty whose relative professional success only remains possible because of the sacrifices made by adjuncts. Yeah, that would have been nice. But hey, what do I know?

Here's what I know: I wish the Invisible Adjunct all the success in the world in her future endeavors and I hope to see a book about her experiences very soon. I'll definitely buy a copy.

Posted 08:19 AM

April 24, 2004

TypeKey No Thanks

During a study break (yeah, that's it) I learned that MovableType is beta testing MT 3.0, which they say isn't a feature release, except for the one big feature, comment registration, a.k.a., TypeKey Authentication Services. The point of TypeKey is supposed to be that it will reduce spam in the comments of MT blogs, which seems like a neat idea, except that problem has already been pretty well solved with MT-Blacklist. So instead of solving problems for users, it seems like TypeKey is just going to create hassles and reduce the fun and spontaneity of blogs by forcing people to "register" and "login" if they want to comment on blogs that use TypeKey. How often have you thought about leaving a comment somewhere, but decided not to when faced with a registration or login screen? I generally don't fight through those things; it's usually not worth it. I mean, I enjoy leaving comments on blogs, and I certainly love to read the comments here at ai (they're really what make blogging worthwhile, to a large extent—more comments, please!), but part of the fun of blog comments is that they're quick and easy. Read a post, jot a thought, and move on. Registration and login systems add those extra steps, thereby raising the barrier for commenting.

On the plus side, this faq says you don't have to use TypeKey to use MT 3.0, and it sounds like they've built at least some of the functionality of MT-Blacklist right into MT itself. I hope they keep things that way for all future MT upgrades, as well. I also hope MT-Blacklist sticks around and someone continues to update it. I think it's a far better solution to the spam problem than TypeKey promises to be.

Posted 06:37 AM | Comments (5)

April 23, 2004

Math class for English majors

What happened to Math Class for Poets? Judging by the last post, its author went to work, and isn't/wasn't liking that too much. I wonder how that worked out...

Blogs blawgs. So temporary. It's sad when one stops, isn't it?

The reason I was thinking about this in the first place (besides the fact that thinking about anything other than CivPro is just irresistible right now) is that I was thinking if law school is like math class for poets, poetry is like math class for English majors. That's why I never "got" poetry. I don't do math. (I don't want to go into what I mean by "get" —maybe some other time—but let's just say I'll never be much more than a poetry tourist. Also, if the logic of these analogies seems twisted beyond reason, that's because it is.) And I was probably thinking about all of this because Scoplaw has been posting poetry and, well, it makes you think, is all I'm saying.

So, full circling, tph of Math Class for Poets, if you're reading this, here's hoping you figured out some way to cope with that job situation and everything is going well. Your blog will be visited and read again should you decide to resume posting there.

Posted 05:31 AM | Comments (6)

April 20, 2004

Honor Roll

Thanks to Venturpreneur for adding ai to its Law Student Blog Honor Roll, even though ai didn't win the poll. Thanks also to all who voted for ai. ai loves you.

I'm not sure what this honor roll means, but since it's w/out doubt the only honor roll your humble blogger will have any chance of making this semester, I'll take what I can get. Congrats to the others on the roll, as well! No offense to Venturpreneur, but here's hoping you all make certain more important honor rolls in the coming weeks.

BTW: What's up with the U of Wisconsin Law School and blogs? Venturpreneur's UW blogroll has a dozen entries, and he may not be including them all. Does any other single school have more? Why do some schools have many bloggers (including faculty), while others have almost none? GW has a student body of at least 1600 students and I know of three GW blogs, including ai. What's up w/that?

Posted 06:29 AM | Comments (4)

March 31, 2004

About, please

I just have a simple request: If you have a blog, could you please make an "About" page that tells me just a little, even a teensy weensy bit, about who you are, maybe where you are, maybe what you think you're doing w/your blog and/or w/your life? It's easy to do, and your readers will all appreciate it because it helps put what you say in a meaningful context. Mine's a little outdated, but it gives you the main idea. Oh, and please don't make me navigate to your early posts and sift through them trying to see if you wrote some early "this is who I am and what I think I'm doing here" post. If you wrote one of those, just link to it on your front page with a simple little word: About. Please?

Thank you.

Posted 06:18 AM | Comments (9)

March 24, 2004

Elle's Back

Liable returns and she's doing well:.

While I have 2 years and some odd weeks to go, [law school] has thus far been one of the greatest, most horrible, most terrifying and most rewarding experiences of my life.

I'll second at least parts of that. The good ones. Really. Yeah.

Welcome back, elle!

Posted 07:35 AM | Comments (1)

March 16, 2004

Bloggies and Pics Galore

For those about to rock, I salute you.*

I mean, congratulations to all the winners of the 2004 Bloggies . The list of winners and nominees includes so many great links it would take a week to look through them all. (Maybe I should take another spring break.)

A few quick favorites:

1. Blogumentary: A Documentary about Blogs. Hmmm....

2. Weblog Wannabe: Check out the "Distractions" in the right column. I really can't believe the Firdamatic. Incredible. Very distracting.

3. Just the other day I confessed my fascination with Ten Years of My Life. Little did I know (although I suspected) there were so many more variants on the theme. This amount of awesome imagery is truly humbling. But perhaps it's not so humbling that you won't want to make your own .

* Sorry. I had iTunes on random and it played one of the Dean Scream Remixes, so now I have AC/DC stuck in my head. But still, if you're about to rock, I do salute you, really.

Posted 06:21 AM | Comments (2)

March 12, 2004

The Law Blog Book

Thinking about the law student blogs I read regularly and all the other law blogs out there gives me an idea: The history of blogging does not stretch back too far, and specifically, blogs by law students seem to be a relatively new phenomenon. Wouldn't now be a good time for a book about law school blogs and maybe law blogs more generally? I mean, as a sort of document of their development, a snapshot of this phenomenon before it goes nuclear and everyone has a law blog?

Some content ideas:

History and General Scope: Who was the first law blogger? The first law student blogger? Is there any sort of evolution that can be traced from the first law school blogs to those of today? What are the most popular law school blogs and why? Are there any common denominators among law school bloggers (other than the fact they have blogs)?

Blogs in School: What role do law school blogs play at different schools? This could be a main focus: Some law school bloggers report that their profs read their blogs -- is this a good thing? Does blog content come up in class or office hours? Do any schools take an "official" position on blogging (as in, do they try to control who has blogs and what they say)? There was a mini-brouhaha at Michigan about the "White Lancer" who apparently crossed a line by "bashing" a professor and a fellow student. Are there more examples of this? More important, are there good examples of law student blogs actually having a positive effect on the classroom environment or the quality of legal education in general?

Faculty and Blogs: This may be a subset of the above, or its own "chapter," but there are lots of fascinating law professor blogs. What role are they playing? Do students commonly read their professors' blogs? Are professors finding this channel of communication to be helfpul? (Presumably yes, otherwise they wouldn't blog, but we could try to learn more about this.)

The Future of Blogs in School: Blogs could be a dynamic teaching tool. Are any profs using blogs specifically as requirements for class (i.e., requiring each student to post once or more in a semester)? In what ways could blogs be used to improve the impersonal (and deeply flawed) assembly-line/mass production nature of legal education? In what ways might blogs only make that "teaching" model worse (i.e., will blogs encourage moves toward online education rather than classroom-based education)?

And why stop there? Why not a chapter on Practitioners' Blogs? Judicial blogs? Paralegal blogs? The future and different legal questions raised by blogs in different legal contexts (ethics, conflicts of interest, privacy, etc.) It need never end! The general point would be a populist/academic look at blogging the law. The target audience would include (in something like this order): future and current law students, current law faculty, all legal practitioners, the blogging community in general, anyone else w/an interest in blogging and/or developments in the law.

This could either be a solo project or an edited collection of essays, or it could take some other collaborative form. Could a book like this be written online? On blogs? (I'd say yes.)

So who wants to do what? Come on, you've got nothing better to do this summer, do you?
Posted while listening to: The Amendment Song from the album "A Song For All Seasons" by The Viper and His Famous Orchestra

Posted 06:44 AM | Comments (6)

March 10, 2004

RefSearch and Refer

Ask and you shall recieve. Thanks to Rick Klau for showing me how he does that cool Google trick. The secret is MT-RefSearch, which automagically detects when someone is coming to your site through a search engine, then runs a search on your site based on the terms that person had originally searched for. Confused? If it works, you should be able to search for "imbroglio," click the "ambivalent imbroglio" link on the Google results page, and see what I'm talking about. It doesn't seem to work yet if the search result directs you to an individual archive page (e.g., this search), but maybe that's the way it's supposed to be?

(If you'd like to install MT-RefSearch yourself and find the links to the files broken on the page above, try downloading them from here.)

Kill Refer Spam
Dean Allen's Refer is a cool little script to track who has visited your site, but it's been recording all kinds of crazy and unwanted spam traffic. Luckily, other people who know a lot more than I do are as annoyed by this as I am, so they've written a fix. I installed it a few days ago and it's cut all that junk to nearly zero. Thank you.

BTW, Dean Allen has just released the "gamma" version of Text Pattern, a new content management system. Looks pretty cool. Thanks to The Menagerie, I also learned recently of another content management option called Geeklog, which offers a very cool threaded comments feature. Is there a way to make MT do that? Also see this cool stats page that generates all kinds of useful info about a blog, like how many links it contains (and which are most popular) and the most popular posts (both by views and comments). Very very cool. The Calendar and "Poll Booth" functionality also looks very cool. And it doesn't look like any of this requires a plugin or tweaking -- it's built in to Geeklog. Definitely worth a serious look...

And speaking of alternatives to MT (not that I'm really looking), does anyone use WordPress?

Future Tweaks
Rick Klau has also implemented or discussed several other cool blog features I may implement someday when I don't have so much to do, including: A sidebar reviews blog (perhaps to replace the largely useless "ai booklist" sidebar), a MT-managed blogroll (this is also a good tutorial for how to include a blog w/in a blog on MT), and SmartyPants (which gives you "smart" punctuation; I thought I had this installed, but it looks like not). Of course, the MT Plugin Directory lists a huge number of other fun things you can do with MT, but MT 3.0 should be here soon and it might come with some of these tweaks built in.

I also keep forgetting to reformat the archives/individual entry pages so that trackbacks and comments will show up on the same page as the post. So much to play with, so little time. Which reminds me, even though there really aren't that many bloggers in the bigger scheme of things blogs might still ruin your social life. Perhaps we should all be careful, apparently they're infectious.

Posted 08:27 AM

March 05, 2004

They're Alive And Well

The other day I was wondering what happened to Lawless Gal and Liable. It turns out, they're both alive and well and living in Finland. Er, I mean, they're alive and well and attending their respective law schools with much success, if not without challenge. Lawless has picked up the blogging stick again (and she got a summer job -- congratulations!), and Liable provided a brief update of her own progress:

I'm still reading blogs occasionally, but after spending all day typing I just can't make myself do anymore typing in the evenings. But I'll give a quick update: 1. I like law school, but I'd give it all up for a couple rainy Saturdays spent in bed, just lounging. 2. I will be working in a small firm here in the MWU city this summer. The job searching phenomenon was stressful, but turned out for the best. 3. I'm WAY behind right now, as LW has taken up most of the semester. Spring break = I'm in the library, outlining. 4. Fall grades were good, and included a CALI. 5. Practice orals were stressful. Final rounds are nexty week.

Thanks, AI, for letting me update here. Maybe once LW is over I can blog a little...

Glad to be of service! And I'm more glad to hear that Lawless and Liable are doing so well. I don't even know what schools they attend, but I still feel like we're all part of the same "class" -- the same cohort, if you will, the "blawg class of 2006." I'm sure they'd each populate the class a little differently according to which blogs they've followed most closely throughout the last year or so, but for me the class is a rather small one, including Lawless, Liable, and DG. Theirs were the blogs I read last summer as we all planned and prepared to start this law school thing, and theirs are the blogs I continue to check daily, just to see how everything's going. The class has grown since school started to include other 1L blogs I read daily (or close to it), such as Glorfindel of Gondolin, Letters of Marque, Transmogriflaw, and Musclehead. Of course, I read a lot of other blogs regularly, but my fellow 1Ls have a special place above the others. I guess you could call it a sort of class pride.

Posted 02:29 PM | Comments (5)

March 04, 2004

Cool Google Blog Trick

Try this Google search. On the results page, click the link to "tins : : Rick Klau's weblog."

See that page you go to? It knows you came from Google! How does it do that?

And look, it works with Yahoo search, too.

This is awesome. Why? How often do you do a search, find a blog that posted something that sounds like what you're looking for, then follow the link only to find that the post has rolled off the page and into the archives somewhere? With this neat trick, that problem disappears.

If you know how to work this magic, please let me know...

BTW: In addition to being a cool tech geek with a J.D., Rick was involved with the Dean campaign and has lots of great posts about his experience.

Posted 05:05 PM | Comments (2)

February 29, 2004

Where Are They Now?

Does anyone know where Liable has gone? She was keeping us delighted and updated on her law school progress last summer and early fall in a fairly regular way, and then just stopped. I've left her on the blogroll in hopes she'd return, but alas, it doesn't seem to be happening. Does anyone know if she's doing ok?

And much more recently, what happened to Sue? Did she take the blog down, or what? I didn't comment too often, but I've been visiting her nearly every day for months now, and my daily surf just isn't the same without her updates about classes, papers, and the follies of her peers.

So Sue or Elle, if you're reading this, I hope you're doing well, and I'd love to hear from you...

It's hard to track the blogs that come and go, such as Think, Inc., which was fun for a short while, and Cicero's Ghost, which I thought was gone, but now seems back? Both are (or were?) part of the Michigan law blogs thing, of which there are a growing number -- a short list is available on the links list over at Letters of Marque, which is a definite must-read (and not just because she recently linked to ai, although what more reason do you need?).

Posted 07:20 AM | Comments (2)

February 13, 2004

Online Good and Bad

The good: Joe Trippi has started his own blog.

The bad: The Washington Post has begun requiring online readers to register. I was going to start subscribing for Sunday-only delivery, but now I'm not so sure. This stinks. I had begun to rely on the Post for a good source of "free" online news that didn't require all the stupid stuff that the NY Times or LA Times or other major papers require. Oh well; BBC and Yahoo are still "free."

Posted 07:56 AM

February 02, 2004

Elections and Audiences

As you may have noticed, the content at ai has recently leaned heavily toward discussion of the Democratic primary process. This wasn't intentional, but yeah, I've gotten a little caught up in it. Now it seems that at least one reader thinks I've gone too far. So, for anyone who would prefer their ai to be more law school, less election, I humbly direct your attention to this page, which collects only those posts that relate to law school in some way. Bookmark that page, and you'll get all the ai law school goodness and you won't have to hear another peep about elections from me. (Unless, of course, I screw up the categories on accident sometime, which has been known to happen.)

Short of reading only the law school category page of ai, you can always skip posts based on their category marker, which now appears in the upper-left corner of each post. (The category for this post is "meta-blogging.") If you don't enjoy reading long and possibly boring posts about the current presidential election process, please skip all posts marked election 2004.

However, while I am a 1L, I never intended ai to focus exclusively, or even primarily, on law school. Nor do I intend to proselytize for Howard Dean (or any other candidate or cause) or convince anyone of anything. I try not to flatter myself by thinking I could really influence anyone on anything meaningful. Instead, my posts about the campaign are simply accretions of data I would like to save for myself, for future reference, because I find them interesting, etc. In fact, that's what this whole blog is -- a bunch of annotated links and thoughts I think are interesting and which I'd like to remember and save for whatever reason. Ninety-nine percent of the time I have very little idea of who my audience is, or why anyone reads any of this, or if anyone even is reading it. But your comments do expand what I know about my audience, and whatever else you decide to comment about. I appreciate every one of them.

In addition to the new category tags that give you more flexibility in filtering your posts, ai has undergone a few other tweaks recently. As Sam noted, the countdown has finally been updated; the one that counts to doom (final) is counting down to the precise start time of my own first final, while the GW finals study period actually begins 5-6 days before that. The blogrolls on the right have also been reorganized. I've updated the "must-see tv" category to more accurately reflect my most frequent reading patterns, and I've added a new section of blogs and other sites that I've found especially helpful in following the election. The many many more excellent blogs that I enjoy very much but can't visit every day can still be found on ai quick & dirty. Finally, down on the right there's a new section called "ai past posts at random." It's driven by the MT Most Visited plugin, and it's supposed to show the top 5-10 most visited posts on ai , but it's pretty obviously not working for some reason (I think the way my server puts logs into zip files is making it hard for the script to properly see all logs so it can know which posts have been visited the most). If you have any secrets for making this plugin work, please let me know.

Posted 05:26 AM | Comments (1)

January 22, 2004


The pace of work at school is heating up and I've been a little busy with the EJF Auction, but thanks to Carey and Adam for their very kind words.

Posted 06:32 AM

January 10, 2004


Do you use a Mac to blog? Would you like to make your blogging life infinitely better? Then don't wait, get your copy of ecto now! ecto is the evolution of what was formerly known as Kung-Log, which was already a great blogging client, now made even better. Since I started using Kung-Log about a year ago (give or take), I've probably actually logged into my Moveable Type installation less than once a month. ecto even allows you to upload files and images, and it converts images to jpgs and allows you to reduce their quality to optimal web-size. Categories, multiple blogs, multiple identities, comment and formatting options—ecto is all that and a bag of chips. Try it, you'll like it!

But while ecto is all that, it doesn't yet allow you to control comment spam. Yesterday, ai was the lucky recipient of a massive comment spam attack—about 100 crappy cliche comments all linking to porn and shady online pharmaceutical sites. Getting rid of all that wasn't fun, but next time I think I'll have much less to deal with because ai is now equipped with MT-Blacklist from Jay Allen. MT-Blacklist seems to build on MT's ability to block comments from specific IP addresses by making it easy for MT users to share their lists of blocked sites. Take that, spammers! ;-)

One more thing: If you have any extra time on your hands and you use MT, you're sure to have hours of fun with the MT Plug-In Directory. I used to have time to play around with things like this. Right about now I'm wondering: Will I ever have that time again?

Posted 09:33 AM

January 07, 2004

Amazon: the Wal-Mart of Books?

A bit of a tangent: After reading a post and comments at Glorfindel of Gondolin about why she doesn't link to when she refers to books and other kinds of things Amazon sells, I'm experimenting with alternatives myself. One thing I've seen people do rather than link to Amazon is to link to a google search for the title, which allows those interested to easily get more info about the book or whatever, but gives them the choice of whether to go to Amazon or some other source for that info.

I'm not really sure how I could give up Amazon for a lot of things, and I'm extremely ambivalent about whether doing so is really necessary. Is Amazon the Wal-Mart of online stores?

In the "yes" column, Amazon probably dominates a lot of online sales categories, and this is almost certainly hurting lots of smaller players and local businesses—it has absolutely decreased the sales of many local bookstores. These are bad things.

In the "I don't know" column, does Amazon pay workers poorly and mistreat them? Does Amazon give its employees quality benefits? I doubt Amazon is unionized, and I'm almost certain that Powell's Books is.

In the "it may already be too late" column, so many independent booksellers have already been forced out of business by competition from Barnes & Noble, Borders, and Amazon, that probably the majority of those left standing have a loyal customer base that's not going to be affected by online links to competitors.

Let me know if you have any thoughts on this...

Posted 06:34 AM | Comments (4)

August 15, 2003

Congratulations, Liable!

Hooray for Elle over at liable for her successful transition from Blogger to Movable Type. Not only does the new and improved liable feature all the benefits of MT (robust and reliable comments, rss feeds for those who use aggregators, etc.), it's also been completely redesigned for your reading pleasure, and it now resides at a cool new domain: Don't forget to update your bookmarks so you won't miss any of the fun of following Elle's progress through the wilderness of law school.

Posted 07:06 AM

August 11, 2003

Happy (Belated) Birthday, ai!

It's official. As of last Friday, August 8, 2003, ai was officially one year old. I'm not sure how I missed it; time just flies when you're having fun, I guess.

A lot has happened since that first post, and, all things considered, it's been a great year. Thanks to those of you who have been kind enough to stop by from time to time, and thanks double and triple to those of you who have shared your thoughts via email and comments. Blogging is usually enjoyable, sometimes it's even therapeutic, but it's at its most useful, satisfying, and rewarding best when the conversation flows both ways. So I hope you'll keep reading ai and I hope even more that you'll keep telling me when ai is full of it, whatever "it" happens to be.

For those of you who feel like a scroll down the page and a stroll into the recent past, feast your eyes on the newly functional "ai one year ago today" feature a couple of screens down in the right column. There you'll find a daily reminder of what ai was all up in your face about at this time last year. Try it; it's fun!

Here's hoping ai will be around another year from now to look back fondly at my first year in law school. Which reminds me, is that countdown looking a bit scary or is it just me?

Posted 11:13 AM | Comments (2)

August 06, 2003

Anonymity III: We'll miss you, O & N!

The law student blogging community is saying a sad farewell to Open and Notorious, which is ceasing (or has ceased) publication. [Link via FalconRed] Apparently, there were people who didn't appreciate o and n's attempt to give a candid (and often humorously scathing) picture of several students' experience of law school. According to "learned foot," one of the site's authors:

we're all about free expression, but we care about our careers more. it's not worth it. let's just leave it at that.

This may have been building for some time; the o and n crew took down their archives some time ago and they don't seem to even offer permalinks to individual posts (which is clever, because the structure of those permalinks would allow people to find additional archives, if any remain online).

As a parting gift, "Learned Foot" offers some excellent advice to law students everywhere:

to the rising 1L's. i hope you took the following message home with you: you can be a mediocre student at a mediocre school and still rock the living shit out of your law school experience. you can get the coveted internship. you can get the "bling bling" job - or the job you want. none of us made law review. none of us were even in the top third. we don't go to harvard, stanford, columbia, or the like. and we're doing just fine. some even fabulously. don't allow yourselves to be shackled by the words of the drone army (e.g. "if you don't make law review, you might as well quit." "if you're not in the top 20% you might as well just kiss your career goodbye.") perhaps i should tell you a story of a friend of a friend who got a 2.6 her first year of law school at a second tier school ranked lower than ours. through clever networking and a lot of persistence, she ended up with a better job than most of the people on law review. how did she do it? her answer: "it only depends on how much rockage you have." don't give up, be personable, follow your leads, go for what you want. it's possible, and you don't need law review to get there. besides, it's the clever and persistent ones who think outside the box who are hungry and won't take "no" for an answer who make it as good lawyers. food for thought.

Yes indeedy, it's all about the rockage. And maybe we can take away one more lesson from Open and Notorious: If you're going to blog law school, decide in advance whether you want to plan to be in it for the long haul, or the short term. If you're in it for the long haul (meaning you hope to be able to maintain your blog through law school and perhaps beyond), you'll have to be more careful about what you say. This doesn't mean you can't tell it like it is, but it does mean you have to be prepared to stand by what you say if anyone—including a professor, an administrator, another student, or a prospective employer or other colleague—decides to ask you about it.

If you're in it for the short term (meaning you don't care too much if you have to abandon your blog at some point in the future), you can say whatever the hell you want. Still, if people learn of your identity, you might, as Ricky Ricardo was so fond of saying to Lucy, have some 'splaining to do.

In some ways Open and Notorious seems to have lived up to it's name perfectly. They were open—about what they thought, if not about who they were. And because of their "openness" they became notorious. Unfortunately, that notoriety has forced them to become permanently closed.

Is it better to burn out than fade away?

Ah, nevermind. Just remember: "it only depends on how much rockage you have."

Posted 02:03 PM | Comments (1)

August 04, 2003

The Anonymity Question

Jeremy Blachman has some good thoughts on anonymity vs. full disclosure for law students who blog. This is percolating elsewhere, as well. For example, Undeniable Dilemma is a new-to-me blog by another soon-to-be-One-L who wonders, why all the secrecy?. What I wonder is if an undeniable dilemma is anything like an ambivalent imbroglio... I'll have to read more to find out.

The more I think about it, the more difficult it is for me to understand how anonymity can even be a real question for bloggers. Does anyone really think they can keep their identity secret? It seems to me that the only way to do so would be to make your posts so abstract and general as to be nearly empty of real content, and if you did that, what's the point of having a blog in the first place? ai is about as anonymous as it can get, which is to say, not very. My thinking is that casual readers don't really care about who I am; knowing my name or my measurements or my place of birth (which I think I've blogged about before) or whatever would not really be meaningful to the average reader. Therefore, none of that information is on this site (although I'm sure it's discoverable to those who really wish to find it). But anyone who knows me in "real" life (aka, meatspace) can easily put two and two together to connect me with ai, and that's fine. I've always tried to stick to the maxim that I'll only write things that I wouldn't mind saying in public, or to the people directly concerned. If I'd be embarrassed or ashamed if people connected me with the things I say, I shouldn't say them at all.Those are the rules I'll continue to try to live by, so if you happen to see me at GW this fall, please say hello—I'll be the guy with the iBook.*

Elsewhere in law school discussion, Unlearned Hand thoughts on the ongoing debate about computers in the law classroom have generated healthy comment thread.

And on the subject of computers in the classroom, I think this blog is evidence that American University's Washington College of Law is pretty Mac-friendly—its author is the Mac specialist in the law school's computer lab. Rank better mean *something,* is all I can say.

* Full Disclosure: Due to GW's draconian computer policy (i.e.: "Buy the Dell laptop we recommend or you just may burn in hell forever and flunk out of law school in the first week."), I imagine I'll be one of the few using an iBook at all. However, I won't have it everyday; since GW uses Windows-only software for its legal writing course and for exams, I'll be carrying an old Dell on days when I know I'll be needing to run that software.

Posted 01:32 PM | Comments (8)

July 02, 2003

Heading West

ai will be on temporary hiatus for the next week as your humble blogger travels west to see the famdamily. Have a happy 4th of July!

Posted 08:10 AM | Comments (2)

June 26, 2003


The redesign saga continues. You can now get your daily dose of ai in your preferred color scheme! Just click on the "transmogrify ai!" dropdown menu in the right column, choose a color, and feel the magic envelop you like the warm rays of the sun on a beautiful summer day. That wouldn't exactly be today in D.C., where the weather is hot and dangerous—according to the radio, the air is so toxic today (code red!) that, if possible, you should avoid standing outside to gas up your car. Wow, it's great to live in the city!

But the transmogrify thing is cool, don't you think? Thanks to Joni Electric's site-skinning info, which helpfully links to the Empty Pages Tutorial that worked the magic. The transmogrification doesn't affect anything but the home page, but hey, it's a start.

Now ai has its very own transmogrifier, just like _________. (Props to anyone who can fill in the blank—looking for a sort of pop cultural figure who had lots of fun w/a transmogrifier in the past.)

So what's your favorite color?

Posted 12:18 PM | Comments (4)

June 25, 2003

The New ai

Introducing the new and improved ai! Your favorite cynical pre-blawg now features completely new, hot from the oven special sidebar features, including:

  • ai Quick & Dirty: The new home for all those hot links that mostly speak for themselves. I use ai for a sort of database to keep track of interesting tidbits, but although I might want to remember something, I don't always have a lot to say about it. ai Q&D solves that problem. Visit the complete collection of quick and dirty links at the ai Q&D homepage today!
  • An abbreviated blogroll: Readers have complained that the classic ai design was too cluttered. The new, simpler design features a shorter blogroll containing those links on which ai relies most for its wit, wisdom, and pithy commentary. But not to worry: You can still easily access the complete collection of ai links from the right-hand column of the ai Q&D homepage. Click early and often.
  • One Year Ago Today: ai began publishing just over a year ago, so once it officially passes its one-year anniversary, this new feature will go live. Check back often so you don't miss a moment of the excitement! ;-)
  • The ai Booklist: Your one-stop shop for all the basic details about the books in which ai is currently most interested. The ai Booklist features links directly to so you can buy buy buy with minimal hassle. It's all about consumption and kickbacks, so get clicking! [This feature is temporarily AWOL. We apologize for any inconvenience. Thanks. —the management]
  • Creative Commons License: ai is now licensed under the Attribution-ShareAlike license. This means you can do whatever you want with it, so long as you give proper credit and license the output under the same terms. Or something like that. IANAL (I am not a lawyer), so who knows what this really means...

Enough of the spiel. The truth is, I've been working on a redesign for days now and it's just not doing what I wanted, so this is what we get for now. The site should look right in IE for Windows and Mozilla for both Mac and Windows. (I've tested Camino, Firebird, and regular Mozilla.) It looks a bit off in Safari and Explorer for Mac. There's something funny about the way these Mac browsers handle background image positioning w/CSS (or maybe the problem is with all the other browsers—who knows), but I've given up on figuring it out for now.

Other problems: The countdown feature in the right column is clearly screwed up. Law school orientation begins August 16th, last I checked, so I don't know what's going on there. The "transmogrify ai" feature should allow you to change the ai color scheme, but that's not working right, either. (If anyone knows anything about PHP and can help make this work, I'd appreciate any tips.) Finally, what the hell happened to my damn booklist! Heads are going to roll!

Posted 01:33 PM | Comments (6)

Warning: Redesign

FYI: ai is currently under construction. If the site disappears or begins behaving erratically, the problems should only be temporary. Thanks. —the management

Posted 12:44 PM

June 13, 2003

Left Coast Gone?

Um, does anyone know what happened to Left Coast Expat? It seems to have disappeared in the couple of weeks since I was able to read it regularly; now all I get is this blogspot error page. Matt, are you out there?

Posted 02:34 PM | Comments (2)

May 13, 2003

Academic Blogging

Speaking of Professor Cooper, his recent post on academic blogging looks at the pros and cons of blogging as a law professor. Coming from a different part of the academy (English), I'd say his reflections are correct, as are the comments he quotes from Kieran Healy. In a bit of synchronicity, Scripting News recently explained why academics should blog—and why their institutions should encourage them to do so:

First, know that universities thrive on having their experts visible outside the university. Not just publishing in academic journals, which most alumni don't read, but being called in as experts on radio talk shows, esp NPR. That's how you reach into their wallets, show them why they should be proud of their alma mater. Pride gets the money flowing.

So how do you get your professors on the radar, as acknowledged experts who can communicate to everyday people? With a weblog of course. And then realize that other bloggers (like me!) are consumers of expertise. We need experts to turn to just like the radio guys do. So there's lots of value in staking out the still largely virgin territory of expertise flowing through weblogs.

It makes perfect sense to me. In fact, academics would be the best bloggers for two reasons: First, they're writers. Sure, a lot of them write abstract, hard to read crap, but perhaps blogging would force them to be more clear and concise. (We could hope.) Second, they're experts in something that the rest of the world probably knows very little about. Many of the best blogs come from just such people—people with knowledge and perspectives that would be hard to find anywhere else. But, not surprisingly, I predict academics will be slow to take up blogging—at least academics outside of law. They'll think they're above it, that it's not "serious" enough for them. I tried to encourage a professor of mine—a huge luminary in his field—to take blogging seriously about a year ago, and he just scoffed and said "it's just like a discussion board. It's a fad. Besides, no one will ever read those things." Perhaps he's right, but perhaps he should also consider the increasing cultural, social, and political irrelevance of the humanities before he dismisses an opportunity to reach a wider public. Academia is pointless if the work done inside the "ivory tower" never gets out of its hallowed halls. If academics would work harder to make more than a dozen people care about or understand what they're doing, maybe they wouldn't find themselves panicked about the future of their disciplines.

Yes, that is what you call a tangent. I'll stop now.

Posted 06:58 PM

Cooped Congratulations

Congratulations to Jeff Cooper at Cooped Up for a great year of blogging. Professor Cooper is a daily read for me (even though he doesn't always update daily), and I would certainly miss his measured and well-written opinions on everything from points of law to the state of contemporary culture. He's also quite fascinated with some sport (baseball, I think), and with wine, but you can just skip those posts if you want—Professor Cooper won't mind. ;-)

Question: What's up w/lawyers and sports? Is it just me, or are a high percentage of lawyers fairly intensely interested in some sport or another? And if it's not just me, then what's the connection between law and sports? Is it just something to talk about to take the mind off of law, or what?

Posted 06:42 PM | Comments (2)

May 02, 2003

Summer Work

People keep asking me what I'm going to do this summer, and I still don't know. I've been looking, and it seems a lot of internship application deadlines have already passed. I figured I'd just work temp jobs or something. Then again, I could do what Dave Winer is doing:

I'll be visiting Dartmouth College (in New Hampshire) on May 9, and then will return during the summer, perhaps often, to interview candidates, and write about it on my weblog.

I wish.

Could weblogs improve our elections? Winer thinks so. I'm not sure, but there's a lot of potential there and I'd love to be part of testing the hypothesis. Philip Greenspun has some good thoughts and comments on ways of doing just that. But since I don't have a private stash of cash that will enable me to spend the summer following candidates around and blogging about it, I'll need to come up with a better idea. If you have any suggestions or tips for finding something interesting and useful to do this summer in the D.C. area, please let me know.

Posted 01:00 PM

May 01, 2003

Blog Design Notes

After praising DG's innovative blogging yesterday, it's time to promote Andrew Raff's Shameless Self-Promotion. Raff's great blog innovation is the "Linky Linky" column on the right-hand side of his blog, which contains "miscellaneous links that didn't quite make the blog." What a brilliant idea! How many times do you find an article you'd like to make note of, but about which you don't really have a lot to say? Often, there's no need to say much about these articles or sites—they speak for themselves. Yet, who wants a bunch of little one-line posts that say nothing? "Linky Linky" gives you the link, but lets you off the hook for commentary.

Let's just say the days for ai's current design are numbered.

Posted 06:10 PM | Comments (1)

April 29, 2003

Ditzy Genius Really Is

Tip: If you're not getting the daily lowdown from Ditzy Genius, you're missing out. DG often uses an innovative posting structure I haven't seen anywhere else, beginning with a Quote of the Day (usually humorous), followed by an Article of the Day (also often humorous, but always interesting) w/pithy comment, followed by DG's thoughts of the day on a wide range of topics, from law school to work to entertainment to shopping. Some posts also feature punchy lists like "5 Comments About Stuff in the News" that allow DG to cover a lot of ground in a short space. DG's posts are always funny, always provocative, and I never finish a post feeling like I've wasted my time reading it. If I thought I could pull it off, I'd copy DG's format, but I just don't think I've got what it takes. Check it out—you won't be sorry you did (And this despite the fact that DG is not only a Windoze-user, but a MS-defender, as well. ;-) )

Two recent examples of DG goodness: Last Friday DG pointed to the BBC Chief's criticism of U.S. media. (Think about this the next time you think about a "free press." I guess thought police work better when they're in our heads (and on our televisions) instead of on the street wearing uniforms.) And yesterday DG offered up a link to Ted Rall's scathing little ditty, "Bush Comes Clean: It was about oil." Finally, don't forget today's lesson about the Stereotypical Ghetto Princess.

See what I mean? Varied, provocative, funny, and always interesting. Get your dose of Ditzy Genius today!

(Disclaimer: No animals were harmed during the writing of this post, nor have I received cash or any other form of material compensation from DG or any of its affiliates or subsidiaries. Void where prohibited and among people who wish the whole U.S. would just go "red" in 2004. And in my best legalese: YMMV.)

Posted 06:45 PM | Comments (2)

April 17, 2003

Just Ask

If you're the poor soul who came here looking for "a person who knows everything," you've come to the right place. Ask away.


Posted 07:54 AM

April 08, 2003

Find What You Were Looking For?

A selection of recent searches that brought visitors to ai:

  1. dog is my co pilot
  2. cost of law school
  3. practice lsat
  4. iraq and currency and march 19 2003
  5. definition of false consciousness
  6. see i don't need to explain why i say things
  7. bush speeches god
  8. regime change begins at home
  9. scientia potentia
  10. download safari v62 new
  11. legal job market
  12. life -the misery
  13. blog pre law law school application
  14. the world is ending when
  15. harvard sucks and princeton doesn't matter

My favorites: 12 and 15. What motivates a search like "Life! The Misery!"?

Posted 11:24 AM | Comments (1)

April 01, 2003


Yesterday ai received a record 56 visits. That's a pretty small number as web pages go, but I belong to the "one reader is better than none" school, and 56 is even better than one, so no complaints here. Thanks to everyone who has followed ai for some time, and to those of you who are just visiting for the first time. Your visits and comments make ai fun to write, and -- I hope -- enjoyable for you to read, as well.

Another milestone: The little iBook on which ai is produced has been running constantly, without hiccup, shut down, or reboot, for 41 days! Does your Windoze laptop do that? ;-)

Speaking of laptops, GW sent a scary little packet of materials warning of the dangers of coming to school with anything other than the "GW Law School notebook" computer (kindly customized by Dell). No other school I've applied to has come on this strong with the "Windoze only" pitch. Not a good sign.

Posted 10:22 AM | Comments (3)

March 03, 2003

Welcome Parentals

Posts at ai will likely be less abundant than usual in the coming weeks because during that time I will be entertaining my kind, generous, and ever-patient parents with a multitude of home-improvement projects. Time is flying by and the first day of law school will be here before I know it. But before that can happen, along with applying for financial aid and finally deciding exactly where to go, I also have to get my house ready to sell (if you want to buy a tiny cottage in the middle of a sea of corn, let me know), and that means repairing walls and ceilings and painting everything, installing new carpet and tile, finishing that rewiring project I started, oh, two years ago, and on and on. It promises to be tons of fun, actually. I'll let you know how it goes...

Posted 06:54 AM | Comments (2)

Safari, Pith, Kung-Log

Good morning, Mac users! Oh, and hi to everyone else, too, but for Mac users who are enjoying Apple's new browser, Safari, I recommend you also try Pith, which will help you keep track of open windows. The newest, yet still apparently unofficial, Safari beta (v62 -- look in the comments to this post for download links that may or may not still work) includes Mozilla/Netscape/Chimera style tabs, but you may still find Pith a helpful addition to your browsing experience.

If you use a Mac to post to a Movable Type blog, Kung-Log is a little application that is likely to make your life a little easier. Like w.bloggar and blogBuddy for Windows, Kung-Log allows you to post to your weblog without opening a browser and going through the "add new entry" page. It can also retrieve recent entries for you to edit, it can save drafts that you're not ready to post, it and -- best of all -- it offers a customizable HTML menu to allow you to insert any little bit of code you want with just a click. This menu is so smart that if you have a URL copied on the clipboard and select "url" from the HTML menu, the URL you've copied will automatically be pasted into an href tag with the cursor waiting at the appropriate place for you to fill in the link text. I'm telling you, this is is slickness. (For more related options, some of which work w/Blogger, see MT Resources.)

I'll stop geeking Mac now, thanks.

Posted 06:20 AM

February 28, 2003

Google Maps

Perhaps I'm a bit paranoid (ok, I am), but the idea of Google's growing power does trouble me. Today, Scripting News discusses what might be going on with Google and provides a few good links on the subject. Jason Kottke says Google has developed the most extensive and detailed map of the web; it's making money by selling access to this map. Maps can be powerful things. As a private company, Google can "tweak" its search methods to change the look of the map, leading to the question: What happens when the map begins to precede the territory? And just as important: How will we know?

Posted 02:00 PM

February 25, 2003

Limitless Possibilities

I want this job:

"You get sent on a crazy adventure and you get to write about it," she said. "How cool is that?"

What a cool little niche industry: freelance blogging. If a movie needs a blog, how about a book? Hmmmm.... TV series need blogs; imagine all the "Friends" fans (or whatever) who would love to read a daily/weekly insider's look at the shooting of the show. Plus, it would create a great record of these things that could then be quickly turned into a best-selling book (with added bonus content of interviews with the actors and things they didn't want to put online while the show/even was happening). It would be awesome for "reality" TV shows like "Joe Millionaire" or "Survivor" -- fans would eat it up!

But freelance blogging could be much more important than that. For example, every political campaign needs a blog, for sure, but the pay for the blogger would have to be given w/no strings attached or else it would just become propaganda. That's the trick: How getting someone to write stuff that's honest while still earning a living. Hmm...

I bet we're going to see a lot more experiments along these lines. Maybe law school isn't the best thing I could do next, after all....

Posted 06:11 PM | Comments (3)

February 16, 2003

Blog Borg?

Scripting News reports that Google has purchased Pyra, the company that started Blogger and the ubiquitous "blogspot" (free web hosting for Blogger blogs). What does this mean? Big money behind blogs means....? It's hard to say, but learning a little about how Google works makes me a much less avid Google fan. In today's climate, it seems prudent to assume that any info any corporate entity collects and saves is going to eventually find its way into the TIA program. If that's true, Google suddenly stands as the biggest threat to civil liberties since, well, I don't know, Joseph McCarthy? UPDATE 2-26-03: Is Google Too Powerful? [link via So Sue Me]

Posted 10:12 AM | Comments (1)

February 08, 2003


FYI: After recently adding an email link to ai (at left), the volume of spam email I receive is increasing every day. If you don't want this to happen to you, you might want to try the Enkoder Form:

The Enkoder will encrypt your Email address and wrap the result in JavaScript, hiding it from Email-harvesting robots which crawl the web looking for exposed addresses. Just paste the resulting JavaScript into your website's HTML. Your address will be displayed correctly by web-browsers, but will be virtually indecipherable to Email harvesting robots.

Enkoder should now be in effect, so now I'm bracing myself to cope with the large void that will open in my life when I no longer find my email box packed with bogus job offers and poorly written pitches for generic viagra ("100% identical formula!!!"). It's going to be tough, but I think I'll pull through.

And speaking of blog modifications, I recently stumbled upon this readme for bloggers. It's a disclaimer to remind readers of the limits and etiquette of reading and writing weblogs. I won't go into the details here, except to say that it seems a fascinating look into the kinds of issues other bloggers have found it necessary to shield themselves against. [link via the beautifully-designed Bealog]

Posted 09:30 AM | Comments (1)

October 10, 2002

Tony Soprano, Blogger

Sopranos fans, you must check this: Woke Up This Morning, Got Myself A Blog. It's almost eerily Tony-esque, if there really were a Tony, that is. [via Held In Contempt, who uses great words like "craptacular"]

Posted 05:47 PM

September 01, 2002

CSS Resources

Memo to self (and ayone interested in updating your pages to use styles): and The Layout Reservoir are both great places to get example stylesheets and other tips.

Posted 01:18 PM

August 27, 2002

Blogging Politics

Sites like, a blog about the World Summit on Sustainable Development, are what make blogs such cool things. This summit is something that's only getting blippy headlines here and there, but for those who want more than "there's an environmental summit right now in Johannesburg, dude," delivers. The link comes via Scripting News, which recently has awakened to the practical political power of weblogs. Its author, Dave Winer, has designed a website for libertarian North Carolina congressional candidate Tara Sue Grubb. I've been reading Winer regularly for the past six months and it's great to see him finally awakening to what could be a really great thing for democracy -- blogs and politics. Yeah, he's only interested because the North Carolina incumbent has proposed some goofy computer legislation (which I actually find difficult to take seriously because it's so patently absurd), but at least it's a start. With any luck, Winer will wake up and realize that there are dozens if not hundreds of other issues that need an advocate with an audience. Go Dave!

Of related interest is Grubb herself. She's only 26, a single mother, and she's obviously campaigning on nothing more than what seems right to her. No focus groups, no opinion polls, no speechwriters or even PR people (as far as I can tell). Wouldn't it be great if campaigns like this could really take off? What if we had more than two options for every political contest? What if you didn't need several million dollars to buy your way into office? Grubb represents, for the moment, a hint of what our world could look like. Of course she won't win, but here's hoping that by being an honest candidate with a weblog, she's starting something that will grow far beyond one North Carolina congressional contest.

Posted 10:51 AM

August 09, 2002

Linkbacks via Stephen's Web

Still getting things set up a bit: Trying to provide an "auto linkback" service so that it's easy for me (and anyone else) to see who links to this page. The service is made simple by Stephen's Web's referrer javascript, but I'm not smart enough to edit the scripts to get them working on my site. Any advice?

Posted 01:43 PM

Who I am and What This Is


This site is the product of a late-20-something graduate student in English at a large and supposedly prominent (though I had barely heard of it before applying here) midwestern university. Having thoroughly exhausted all desire to pursue a Ph.D. in English, I am now searching for alternative plans. This site is about that search, as well as related issues, sites, questions, etc. I imagine someday (soon) I'll rewrite this little introduction to say how the search has ended. I look forward to that day.

For much of my life, travel and change have played a major role. Up until recently I was able to dubiously boast that I had changed living places (I wouldn't call them homes) an average of every nine months for close to a decade. During my life I have lived in six U.S. states (Wyoming, Iowa, Missouri, Nevada, California, and Illinois) and traveled to numerous countries, including a month in Australia and nine months in Finland (as an exchange student). I have also biked solo and self-supported (as in pedalled, carrying my tent and luggage on the bike) through Europe "from the Arctic Circle (in Finland) to the Straits of Gibraltar (at the southern tip of Spain) -- a trip of over 3,000 miles.

Partially because of that experience, my first job out of college was with Backroads, "The World's Number One Active Travel Company." As a leader of high-end, weeklong bicycle and hiking tours, I've worked in California, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, Montana, Massachusetts, Maine, and Vermont. I fell in love with New England and I hope to be able to live there someday.

The many different lifestyles and norms I've observed and experienced in my travels and moves have shown me that, while there is no "right" way to live life, some ways are better than others. My life experienceadded to three years spent in intensive study of U.S. cultural, literary, and political historyhas led me to the conviction that humans are what Aristotle called zoon politican, or social animals. We need each other, and regardless of what pop culture tells us about our autonomy and individuality, none of us would be who were are today without the help and influence of other human beings (first and foremost, for most of us, our parental figures). Since our cultural mainstream tends to ignore or dismiss the extent of our human interdependence, my worldview puts me pretty far left of center. I hope to contribute to the conversation about important issues, and to offer another voice on the left to balance out the "war bloggers" and other libertarian and neoconservatives who have taken up the blog as their soapbox of choice.

I hope what you read here is amusing or thought-provoking. Most of all, I hope if you have any thoughts about what you see here, you'll let me know. You can reach me at: ai at mowabb dot com.

Posted 09:55 AM

August 08, 2002

Testing Trackback

This is only a test. If this had been an actual post of substance, I probably wouldn't be linking to the TrackBack Development blog. Is Trackback working? How will I know? Why should we care? Here's the trouble with these blogs -- they eat time and often it's hard to tell what we gain from the massive investment we make. "Just when you thought you was out, they puuuull you back in!"

Posted 11:31 PM

MT Search

The search box on the left is provided by MT Search from Open Wire (thanks Jay Allen!). It's designed to search the entries of this blog, which may someday be handy. Right now only the advanced search option seems to be working. If you type at term and click the "Go" button, you'll get this fun message:

Context-type: text/html Got an error: Can't call method "name" on an undefined value at lib/MT/Template/ line 294.

Here's hoping Trackback will ping Openwire and I'll get some clue about how to make this work better.

Posted 11:18 PM | Comments (1)

hello world

What is an ambiguous imbroglio? You're looking at it. And if you're like me, you also look at it every day when you look in the mirror. This will be a record of a couple of things, including:

  1. A search for a career/job that will be both satisfying to me and beneficial to the world.

  2. The web travels of a Net addict who's interested in blogs (as potentially more than just fun), current and ongoing political events, the continuing saga of Apple and the Macintosh (and OS X), and notable books, magazines, television programs, movies, and music. In other words, expect a little bit of everything, with a focus on number one (for now).

And in order to get the party started quickly: Google! DayPop! This is my blogchalk: English, United States, Middletown, Illinois, Male, 26-30!

Posted 04:59 PM

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