March 2008

I always tend to procrastinate a bit when I need to write a brief.  I enjoy brief writing, it’s one of the more creative parts of my job, and it can be incredibly satisfying when it starts to flow.  I often find, however, I need deadline pressure to really get moving; although I like to think that I am actually thinking over the argument in my subconscious, which makes the argument flow faster when I actually sit down to write it.

Anyway, today I was working on a section of a brief that I had procrastinated about more than usual because I was worried that my adversary had a strong point that would be difficult to overcome based on my initial skimming of their brief.  When I read my adversary’s argument again, however, not only did it become clear that the argument was based on a strawman, it further became clear that the strawman was made of air.  In other words, there wasn’t even any straw there.  Basically, the argument was:

“In order to have X, you must have Y.  While the statute doesn’t explicitly require Y, it requires it by implication, which is supported by the requirement of Y in this regulation, that while not directly applicable is suggestive.  Respondent can’t show Y, so they can’t prove X.”

The problem with this argument is that not only is the first sentence setting up the strawman, which was easy enough to address, the bolster to the argument’s straw, i.e., the regulation’s requirement of Y, is false.  The regulation does not in fact require Y, if you read it carefully.   If you want to build a convincing strawman to lead your opponent off track, you should have some straw.

This is all a long-winded way of saying that I had more fun than usual drafting my reply brief.  In fact, I had so much fun, I’m worried I’ve overlooked something.  I shall have to put it aside for a day and re-read it to make sure.


So I live in a place that is one of the sudden foci (focuses) of the never-ending Democratic primary.  I don’t watch a lot of tv, and what I do, I tivo.  Most of my radio is NPR.  As a result, my exposure to what I assumed would be a mass influx of political ads has been relatively small.

I commented on this to mr. jolt this morning and two seconds later an ad came on the radio as we were getting ready for the day, with the promising lead in, “I’m Barack Obama and I approved this message.”  I got all excited, waiting for some oratory or something interesting (wow! I matter at last! Someone other than a siding or wireless salesman wants my attention!).

I was disappointed (ok, pissed) when the ad went on to ask/tell listeners (I’m paraphrasing) “Are you independent or Republican?  You can still register as Democrat if you would like to vote in the upcoming primary. . . .”

I have to confess my fee-fees are hurt.  Months ago, I assumed that, once again, I would have no impact on the primary and that whatever my preferences wouldn’t matter to a hill a beans.  Then when it looked like I’d have a voice I got all excited – and now I’m deflated.  Ever had the experience of seeing someone wave across the room and you recognize them and wave back excitedly and then realize they aren’t waving or looking at you? And you sheepishly join the other wallflowers?  That’s what if felt like.

Sigh.  I’m sure different ads are playing in the urban areas where there are more registered Democrats and admittedly, around here Repubs and indies predominate, but please, I’m begging both campaigns, show those of us who are still gritting their teeth at the W stickers our neighbors put on their cars four years ago some love.  We’ve been outnumbered around here for a long time, but we’re still faithful.  Just a little love? Please?

This inspiration by Shark-Fu:

Twice in the last two days I have overheard conversations in which persons have talked about registering Democrat to vote in the primary with plans to switch back to Republican before November.

Not sure who this helps in the primary or whether its some sort of long term strategy for the general electon, but verrrrry interesting.  And I realize two conversations in two days isn’t necessarily a trend, but still.

That said, around here, you get a lot further in a lot of circles if you are Republican so I know people that are pretty mid-stream that vote both sides of the aisle depending on the particular candidate, but it’s a quasi-requirement for their career path to be a registered Republican.  So planning to switch back doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an attempt to skew things to help McCain in November – it could be, but it could also just be part of their political-social “cover” image.

When mr. jolt & I first moved here, it was a major culture shock.  No decent ethnic food to speak of; the only food delivered is pizza; the shopping (of the non-crappy variety) virtually non-existent.  We spent a lot of time driving up for weekends to stay with our friends (many of whom who had also moved out of the city, but to the suburbs and further out burbs, that can still reach the city by commuter rail– we’re 3-4 hours away).

Then we got to know people here & started to have them over for dinner, etc.  I discovered zappos (the rest of shopping still sucks).  Some new restaurants opened up.  I began to recover my self-esteem after several years of battering in a degenerating and dysfunctional work environment (it’s amazing what you realize when you aren’t IN something on a day to day basis).

Anyway, at our dinner to celebrate our dating anniversary of 19 years (OMG!) a few weeks ago, we were talking about various potential job opportunities for mr. jolt.*  One of them involved a job back in the city.  There is no way we could afford to move back to the city itself (real estate has not dropped much & increased mightily before the subprime mess) but we could move to a distant suburb and mr. jolt could ride the train in a few days a week for class, etc.

Just the idea of it made me vaguely ill.  The absolute best thing about leaving the city has been regaining my sanity and sense of perspective.  It wasn’t just the job rat race, it was the child-school rat race, the how big is your apartment rat race, the fabulous show rat race, and everything else.  The very culture was corrosive — extreme wealth; extreme poverty; a lot of people in the middle always feeling they were scraping by whether they were or not (we were not but sure as hell felt like we were whether we were in publishing and eating beans the last week of every month, in law school living off loans, or up and coming associates in private practice earning some serious $) because you were always looking at the next person on the ladder.  Ugh.

Anyway, over cocktails we both agreed that we had absolutely no interest in getting sucked back into that destructive whirlpool.  It doesn’t mean we will never live in the city.  I could see doing it on a short term (a few semesters’ visit) basis where you just have a blast doing all the cultural stuff as a sort of extended vacation, but I can’t see myself ever living there, or in its orbit, again.

And that feels really, really good.

*The reason the focus of the conversation was on his job prospects not mine is because I still haven’t figured out what I want to do – more on that topic later.

Saw this on BPhd who got it from flea.  Priceless!

So the event for Black History Month was on Feb. 28th, announced on Feb. 26.  The event for Women’s History Month was announced on March 3rd for March 12th.  Again, a nice musical group.  But, there will also be a reading of prize-winning essays from some local essay writing contest AND there will be an honoring of a half dozen women who have had achievements in our area.  Clearly, someone was a little more organized about this event than the last one because I’m sure the powers that be are not trying to say that there were not blacks in the area who have had achievements worth honoring, right?