Author: Marc Roark

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“Be careful of those that meet you at the train…”

Every now and then, a fortune cookie dispenses with advice that is so spot-on you just have to keep the little sliver of paper tucked away.  Here is my fortune cookie keeper of all time:

“Be careful of those that meet you at the train for they know where they want you to go…”

It was 2007 and I had just accepted my first job teaching.   And the faculty at the time was in a bit of turmoil.  The dean had recently resigned and it was unknown who the future dean would be.  As a visitor setting foot on campus I was a bit blurry eyed and knee deep in figuring out how to teach, be productive and all the things you do to start yourself off right.  Many of the faculty who remain very good friends today reached out to me to be reassuring about the the stability of the faculty etc….  But one person reached out to me to tell me who on the faculty not to trust.  What was particularly interesting was they named names!  This person was actually one of the first people to reach out to me when I arrived.  So when about six months later I read this fortune cookie sliver, I took the waitress’s pen and wrote their name on the back.

In my experience, the people on a faculty who you should be most leery of are those that will tell you either the people or the kinds of people you should be careful of.  What sounds as if it comes from experience and insight most often comes from places of fear, mistrust, manipulation, and insecurity.  What it can tell you, if you did not already know it, is that there are fault lines on the faculty for which a subterranean battle for the institution’s soul may be playing out.  As a young faculty member, don’t choose sides without carefully understanding what is at stake.

When you are new to a faculty, there are some traits to be “eyes wide open” on.  One is the “do not trust” this person or group of people conversation.  Most of time, when people offer this advice it is rarely for your own well-being, but rather because of their own motives.  Likewise, advice about faculty members that reduces them down to one quality or another or suggests that they are one dimensional in their views of the world (i.e., this person only cares about scholarship, so you should talk to them about your work often; or this person is only a teaching faculty member and doesn’t really care about scholarship) is rarely accurate and should be taken with equal caution.  I recall, being told at one stop “this professor doesn’t do scholarship so you shouldn’t waste your time talking to them about yours.”  As I found out, that was some of the worst advice I had received.  That person did not write, true, but they were very interested in the scholarship I was working on.   Had I not been willing to talk about my passions to this faculty member, I would have missed the chance to build a great relationship with this person — who frankly was glad that people like me were interested in writing our voice into scholarship and wanted to be supportive of that for the good of the college.

Anyone that suggests that faculty members are one dimensional and will only care about X, whether X is how you teach or what you write, means that the person dispensing with the advice doesn’t know the faculty member they are dispensing advice about well at all.  If we know anything about people — whether they are faculty members, scholars or administrators — it is that they are rarely one dimensional and regularly surprise us with the way they see the world if we open our eyes to see from time to time.

The people that make the best mentors on faculties are those that do not spend as much time worrying about who else you are taking advice from or attempting to characterize others, as they do about what you are up to and how your year or writing is shaping up.  In other words, when you find someone that is spending far more time offering comments about others on the faculty (particularly when you are new) understand that you are not their primary interest.  Their interest is to shape you to be aligned in their view of what the law school should be doing.  And most often, after you have served your purpose, they will dispense with you as well.

A final anecdote on this line — at one of my many stops (I have had four)  a colleague had the “do not trust this colleague,” conversation with me.  Fortunately I had experience in these matters and took the advice with a heavy dose of caution (of the advise dispensing colleague) and with eyes wide open. As it turned out, the person I was told not to trust was also told not to trust me by the same colleague.  Had I listened, I would have been deprived of a person who has become one of my greatest friends in the academy, but also a really great mentor.

So now, my little Chinese fortune cookie sliver, has two names written on the back, and still sits in my office today..

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Meat Market Ruminations

So, to all of those who are braving the Marriott today: welcome to the first step of a profession that can be personally satisfying, enriching, and challenging.  I thought I would capture a few thoughts about faculty hiring.
First, it is quite true that faculty hiring has become a bit of a pro-am conflagration, where many of the candidates that appear in the market show up with numerous significant publications and significant teaching experience to add to their already impressive credentials.  This is neither a bad thing nor a good thing, but rather a point in time where the hiring market has been unable to absorb many of those candidates in prior years into permanent tenure track position.  (We are all hoping for a turn around).  The outcome is that there are far more VAPS, Fellows, and other non-traditional academic positions that have been filled over the years, where people sit in waiting for a tenure track position. I would not be honest if I did not admit that they have a significant advantage over people who are coming out of law practice.   The presence of mentors on the host institution’s faculty, daily advice about the meat market and how to approach it, as well as time to think about how to make the best impression in a thirty minute screen are just advantages in an already competitive market.

However, even the best placed people blow it from time to time.  I recall overhearing from the hallway in the Marriott (the interview room I was going in left the room door cracked) someone in front of me say to the interview team “How do you handle teaching students who are significantly less intellectually equipped than you?”  I remember thinking — that was your one question. I don’t know what happened in that person’s case, but I can’t imagine they got the call back.  No one (and I mean NO ONE) wants to hear from someone on the outside that their students are less than adequate.  Sure we might talk about how they disappoint us in various ways.  But we never want to hear an outsider (much less someone we are interviewing to join our community) start that relationship by criticizing a major component of who we are.   Inferring that the students you propose to work with are anything other than thoughtful, astute and prepared to wow everyone they come into contact with comes off as arrogant and uninformed — after all, you probably haven’t even met a student from that school yet.

Second, personality matters way more than you think in these processes.  If you are someone that the faculty thinks it would like to have around on a daily basis, have big ideas about your area of expertise (whether its property, torts, or legal writing) and seem to be a serious, productive, and positive person, you are in the conversation.  The fact that you made it in the room signals that something on your CV made the committee think that there is something about this person that they would like to find out more about.   The best you can do is be yourself and play to your strengths.   I remember talking with someone who has become a good friend since I started teaching who had interviewed me at the Marriott several years ago.   That evening we ended up in a social setting and had a great conversation.  Since that time that person has told me that the person at the bar is someone they would have loved to get to know — the one that showed up in the room — the super serious, trying too hard candidate, not so much.  On this side, I completely see what he meant.

My last piece of advice relates to after the meat market.  Whether you land the job you want, a fellowship or just return to practice, find someone on the inside (preferably on your faculty that you are working with) to be a mentor.  Everyone can learn something from someone else.  It doesn’t matter if you are a Ph.D. that is several years older, the people in your new institution offer insights into the process and the views of faculty governance that you don’t have access to.

In short — Have fun.  Good luck.  Be you (unless you are someone that is imminently unlikable — then be someone else).

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To Sarat or Not Sarat

As in Austin Sarat, Law and Humanities scholar at Amherst College.  As in one of the leading figures within the Association of Law Culture and Humanities, which has become one of my favorite destinations over the years for engaging discussion across the disciplines.  (FYI, today is the deadline to submit abstracts to the Law Culture and Humanities Conference being held at Georgetown this year).
Glancing across Sarat’s scholarship one might notice a fascination with documenting the morbidity of law.  Images of war, death, and imprisonment filter the landscape of writings; the images are used to magnify their contrast. They create discourses in binaries.  We understand legal violence distinctive from non-legal violence; death distinctive from non-death; and imprisonment distinctive from non-prisoned life.  Sarat sums this up in his Article Violence, Democracy, Responsibility, and the Problem of Punishment.

 

Moreover, by equating the conditions of legal legitimacy with that masking, much of that jurisprudence promotes righteous indifference and allows law’s violence to continue unabated. I am neither so idealistic nor so naive as to imagine that a change in legal theory would in itself end violence done, authorized or approved by legal institutions and officials. Still the energy in much of my work on punishment comes from a desire to interrogate legal theory in order to understand how law, surrounded by so much pain, is, nonetheless, able to maintain its calm, bureaucratic facade.

 

Drawing on themes that prompt considerations of justice and violence, it’s no wonder that Sarat and Robert Cover were walking the same halls in New Haven in the early 1980’s.  I don’t know if Sarat and Cover interacted much.  Really, does it matter?  Sarat himself was a well accomplished scholar in the humanities prior to enrolling at Yale (I mean how many of us as one L’s had their professor begin a civil procedure class by reading and discussing our own work?) .  Perhaps he and Cover never interacted.  I’d like to think they didn’t but that the recursiveness of space, time and ideas latched on to them independently as they traveled the halls.

Besides violence, Sarat’s scholarship prompts me to think about similar themes in my own work.   Loneliness has been a particular theme of mine.  Robert Penn Warren, Fydor Dostovsky, and Flannery O’Connor have been shaping devices of this theme.  They play themselves out in a chorus of questions about space, roles, isolation, and time.  When Warren writes about the South as a Lonely place, he prompts me to wonder whether and how time shapes people.  For those three, time is the violence of memory, sometimes maintained through static relationships of property, law, family, and culture.  Sarat likewise prompts us to consider how time shapes our understandings of justice and violence.  He writes in the same article prompted above:

For me, democracy requires a particular orientation toward time. Democratic temporality is the time of change, of reconsideration. It is open-ended and open to a sense of the endlessness of time. Acts of punishment, even if we had a way of calculating what people deserve, are always in some sense the servants, not the masters, of time. Numerous authors have highlighted the problem of time in asking whether the person being subject to punishment, 2, or 12, or 20 years after the crime is really the same person as the one who committed the crime that justified the punishment in the first place. When, many years ago, Justice Brennan described the death penalty as taking away the right to have rights, he might well have said that no punishment that seeks to be timeless, or stop the movement of time, can be reconciled with a democratic theory of punishment.

The conception of time as a marker of change is one, I think Robert Penn Warren would greatly admire.  On May 15, 1961, The New Republic published a review of Warren’s essay The Legacy of the Civil War.  In the review essay, writer Peter d’a Jones aligned Warrens views with Robert Patterson of the Citizens Counsel of Mississippi, a group formed following the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education.  The group, put simply, was designed to use legal (and non-legal) violence to stymie desegregation.
Following the review of Warren’s essay, Warren wrote a letter to the New Republic editor:

Dear Sir,

This letter is promoted by a review of my essay the Legacy of the Civil War, which appeared in your issue of May 15.  I could wish that Mr. Peter d’a Jones had thought better of my essay or at least of my intellectual integrity, but I am not now writing in defense of either.  What I want to do here is disabuse those readers who may feel, from Mr. Jones’ review that I have much sympathy with Mr. Robert Patterson of the Citizens’ Committee of Mississippi, whom he cites with, perhaps, some effect of guilt by association.  

The quickest thing for me to do is state three things — things which it is strange for any citizen to feel constrained to state.

1 It is morally right, as well as politically and economically necessary, that all the rights and privileges of American citizenship be guaranteed to all citizens.  
2 A man’s worth should be judged by the qualities of his manhood.
3 Any official of any state who does not honestly and vigorously endeavor to punish, with full rigor, any violence against or coercion of any individual or group has violated his public trust and should be impeached.  

I suppose that a reader can easily infer from these statements my attitude in specific instances, as I had assumed one might from other writings of mine, including the Legacy of the Civil War; but I shall add that I think Dr. Martin Luther King a great man, and that the sit ins conducted according to his principles are morally unassailable, and will win.  One reason they will win is that they offer, even to the man howling from the sidewalk, an exhibition of courage, dignity, and self control.  

                        Very Respectfully Yours,

                        Robert Penn Warren

P.S.  One more thing: since Mr. Jones takes the trouble to quote from me in 1929, I wish he had taken the trouble in his researches to glance at my explicit repudiation some time back, of what I said in 1929.  In 1929, in my youth, I was wrong — and even now, I do not feel myself entirely above error.  

Warren’s reflection of change over time merges with his views of social responsibility.   For what its worth, Warren was also wandering around New Haven in the early 1980’s.  How I would enjoy sitting at a table amongst Warren, Sarat and Cover as they talked about these things.  How the walls in New Haven must have been ablaze with ideas in the early 80’s.

(P.S. Robert Patterson was also former Captain of the Mississippi State football team — ergo my promised college football reference, in case anyone needed an irrational reason to hate the number one ranked team).

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The Role Law and Literature Should Play in a Law School

Some may ask what role should liberal arts style courses play in law school where we are increasingly focused on bar exams and practice ready skills.   It may take me a while to unravel that answer with the gusto and the framing it deserves.  I think anyone that regularly teaches Law and Literature has been asked some variant of this question.  The course doesn’t have the safe luxury of “well its on the bar exam,” or even the more sardonic return of “well, but of course it underlies much of legal thought and practice.”  See, e.g., Law and Econ, Law and Social Theory, and Legal History.

Let me make a bold proclamation.  The law and literature course, perhaps more than any other, asks students to wrestle with their subjective views of the law.  It’s interesting, in a course that deals with Constitutional Law, for example, there is the finality of how the court approached the problem (whether we agree with the outcome or not).   In Law and Literature on the other hand, the course encompasses the views of the professor, the authors, and their fellow students as they encounter these views.  Sometimes worlds are created in which those concrete legal frameworks are disembodied (See, e.g., Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale).  Sometimes, the fictional worlds embrace the world as we know it, and offer stunning critique to its foundation (See, e.g., Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin). That’s not to say that other courses, (take a UCC course), is not rife with highly charged emotional queries (notwithstanding my critique, my explanation for whether the disposition of collateral equates to proceeds is a highly charged event!).  It is saying that in a time where the ABA is prompting law schools to create standards that push the law school experience towards so-called objective standards of evaluation (see revision of section 302 in the ABA standards), the role of encountering, critiquing, explaining, and understanding different subjective understandings of the law is critical.   We should not be afraid to encounter nor express our subjective views in the context of critical dialogue.

My view is that Law and Literature is a course that offers students not only the opportunity to understand themselves better but to learn to dialogue about the subjective views of law.  A few years ago, Yale Law School offered a course titled “The Book of Job and Suffering.” Unfortunately, at many law schools such a class would never be taught for fear that the subject strayed too far from what law schools are suppose to do — at least not under that title.  However such a course is precisely the kind of law and literature course we should be teaching. Isolating the critical component that suffering may play in the narrative for law students, I imagine, was a powerful experience for those students and the professor.  Powerful because they all have suffered something, I’m sure, though undoubtedly it was uneven.  Students learn to dialogue about themselves and the text in a group where each other’s respective experiences help frame and isolate the way the text moved within the group.   At one and the same time, students in a law and literature class learn about themselves, as members of a group, a class and as an individual.   This is the idea of Law and Literature that James Boyd White framed so well — the engagement of the reader with the text forcing the reader to accept or not accept the writer’s framed world. [Perhaps Boyd’s best framing of this encounter is his book This Book of Starres: Learning to Read George Herbert, in which Boyd wrestles with the text as reader primarily].

This role of teaching students about themselves is critical if not necessary to shaping who they are as counselors and advocates for their clients.  Of course they are things we should care about as shaping lawyers. But should we have to isolate them into an ABA objective or standard.   In a way, it cheapens the process to do so.

I fear that courses like Law and Literature, in which students engage in thoughtful discourse, may find themselves replaced with others that fail to live up to the promise of helping students understand themselves in a legal environment and instead only focus on the particulars of interacting in the legal environment.   There is nothing wrong with a movement in legal education that attempts to focus institutional resources to critically examine whether the law school is best preparing students for the modern legal environment.  But, that doesn’t mean that our students [or our faculty] are better off without having the dialogues and communities that law and literature help promote and shape in the law school environment.

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LIFE IS GRAND IN SAVANNAH!

Thanks to Sarah and the rest of the Concurring Opinion Crew for inviting me back. It’s been two years since my last run here and lot’s have changed here in Savannah.  This past month in Savannah we have seen the grand opening of our building — re-purposed from an early 19th Century hospital to a stunning Law Library.  To help us open the books on the new space, we invited several thoughtful and wonderful people to join us in thinking about how you reintegrate spaces, with a heavy emphasis on how race, space and place emerge in new environments.  Our key note Al Brophy,and other wonderful contributors, Anthony Baker, Steve Clowney, Lia Epperson, Liz Glazer, Jamilla Jefferson-Jones, Adam Kirk, Kali Murray, Connie Pikerston, Marc Poirier, Amanda Reid, Jeff Schmidt, and others.  It was a great time and a great environment.  (I plan to blog separately about the great panels that were presented and their dialogue that ensued).

On the heels of the colloquium, the New York Times this week published an article looking at what it calls Savannah’s other side — the Black side that is rarely acknowledged or confronted in a city that is “stuck in its on gauzy antebellum bubble.”

A visitor could easily spend a week sauntering along the city’s haunting boulevards and leave without a clue about the essential role Georgia’s oldest African-American community has played here….Blame the Low Country blackout, at least partly, on the fact that in the pageant of cities primping with New South sheen and aura, Savannah has perhaps made a less than eager contestant. The city is so proud of its Southern charms and traditions — Gothic Revival homes, high-on-the-hog soul food, Spanish moss canopies shading picturesque squares — that the mere suggestion of cultural evolution is enough to make an old-timer drop his mint julep. Perhaps Savannah’s legendary singer/songwriter Johnny Mercer said it best when he crooned: “I know I’m old fashioned/But I don’t mind it/That’s how I want to be/As long as you agree/To stay old fashioned with me.”

Boy is that true.  Living in the south again, (and starting a law school in the south) has been a reminder that race and poverty are quintessentially (though not uniquely) southern, along side college football, seersucker suits, and sweet tea.  Where some see spanish moss in charming trees, others see ghosts of past racial conflict..  A law school in the south (particularly a new law school) has a chance to tell a bit of the other side — to be a progressive space of thought and engagement. That’s why I came back to the South and why I call Savannah home.   Like most homes, we still have lots of work to do.

I’m looking forward to sharing more about Savannah, Property, Poverty, Law and Literature, Tenure, the Academy, and maybe a little College Football depending on how season goes (so far not so well — at least last week anyway).

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Understanding intermediaries in Payment Systems — Constructs of Liquidity and Certainty

In my previous post on intermediaries, I talked about introducing liquidity to students and rules enhancing liquidity and certainty. In talking about payment systems we often talk about the policies of creating liquidity and certainty, and then talk about other things, like confidence and efficiency.  One of the troubling things that I think the scholarship surrounding payments systems has not really discussed is the ways in which liquidity and certainty are related to by-products of transactional goals.  I think at times, we talk about the goals of liquidity and certainty, and policies of efficiency, confidence building and (one I’ll add) longevity, without really parsing out how these things come about. What it produces is a bramble bush where we recognize lots of contributing roots, but little discussion of how those roots work together.

One reason that these things create problems is that they clearly live in symbiotic relationships to each other, but it is unclear which is the feeder and which is the fed.   Does liquidity and certainty create systems that are efficient, that create confidence, and that innure longevity into the payments markets.  A model that looks like this perhaps, where these policy constructs are created by systems that innure towards liquid systems with substaintial certainty.

 

Or perhaps liquidity and certainty are created through efficient, trust-worthy, systems that have the capacity for substantial longevity.  Something like this perhaps.  Some might argue compellingly that this doesn’t really matter — whether liquidity and certainty are byproducts or instigators for further policy constructs matters little except in ivory towers.

I argue that it does matter, at least from the standpoint of understanding how these individual constructs affect consumer and merchant choices to engage in the payments market.  I will offer one example and then save the rest for my last post on this particular project.

Consider the role that credit cards have played in the impacting consumer choices.  In the last several years, as noted by a study conducted by the Philadelphia Federal Reserve [the Visa Payment Panel Study], not only has consumer choice in medium of payment moved towards more plastic mediums, but the type of plastic medium has changed, with merchants moving away from private label cards and towards general use cards with enhanced benefits when the general use card is used with that merchant (i.e., your Shell MasterCard in which you receive .20 rebate on gasoline purchases at Shell).  Why consumers move towards general use cards versus private label cards implicates the policies and constructs described above.  The more the card may be used with multiple merchants (liquidity & certainty) the more the card’s effectiveness is built up by the market-life of the payment and its outgrowths (including accounts which can be leveraged by the bank supporting the card (longevity); consumer convenience in reducing the number of bills they must pay at the end of the month lead to more use (efficiency); and the greater impact of the payment’s reach, the better terms inure themselves to the consumer creating greater confidence in the payment. Moreover, the more the card is used by the consumer, the greater the efficiency and confidence in the medium.

The result is that we may have different policy constructs that reveal themselves as more powerful factors depending on the manner of payment.   So perhaps with credit cards and other networked payment intermediaries, we are in a model in which longevity becomes the instigator producing the policy aims we seek — a model that looks like this, where longevity becomes the catalyst for greater efficiency and confidence which renders the effect of the payment being medium being accessible in more places (approaching liquidity) and the certainty that it will be accepted when using the card [though it does not happen often, many of us can recall when a restaurant did not accept one of our preferred payment partners].

How consumers and merchants sort through these questions will be considered next.

P.S. Traveling down Route 66 creates certain problems of access to technology.   So, I’ll end my post today with a plug for the hotel we stayed at in Holbrook Arizona — The WigWam. The picture to the right says it all, though I will add we met two charming families from London who had read about the Wigwam before coming to America for “holiday.”  One of the Englishman even let me pose with his cowboy hat in front of our Tee-pee Style hotel room. [English people are so quaint]. Who knew Holbrook was that diverse!

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On the Road — Kansas City to Dodge City

My family and I are on the road back from our sojourn in Missouri to California — twenty-four hours with a six year old and three year old to be clear.  (For those that want to honor me as a saint, I drove with the kids by myself to Missouri — in three days).  To be fair, the previous two years, my wife had the kids with her).

This time, we are taking it slow — driving back in a week to see the site close to the Santa Fe Trail and Route 66.   Today, we drove a portion of the Santa Fe Trail from Kansas City to Dodge City.  Along the way we passed a memorial to Knute Rockne off the Kansas Turnpike, drove through the Kansas Flint Hills, saw the largest hand-dug well in Greensburg, Kansas (interesting town making a revival after a tornado destroyed ninety percent of the town in 2007 — the town has adopted the “Green” in its name rebuilding with substantial investment in alternative energy sources); stopped at midway USA in Kinsley Kansas (the exact middle distance between San Francisco and New York); drove around Fort Dodge and found the Custer house (although I am not sure why it was named for him since he never lived there); and finally arrived in Dodge City, where we saw a gun fight and variety show on Front Street.

Tomorrow — its Dodge City to Santa Fe — looking for Wagon Ruts.  Till then, win one for George Gipp….

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Understanding Intermediaries in Payment Systems — Introducing Liquidity to Law Students

So as I noted a few days ago, one of my annual rites of passage is returning to the University of Missouri each summer to teach Modern Payment Systems.  (Its always interesting to hear different people recall what the course was called when they were in law school — commercial paper, negotiable instruments, Commercial Payments, but I digress). This year, I decided to do something I have not ventured to do — teach the class through an article that I am writing on the role of payment intermediaries in consumer transactions.  (As an aside, I believe the material came across far more dynamic).

Each year, I introduce the course by starting with the central policies of liquidity and certainty as pillars of all payments systems.  Students that have had an economics background know certainty as the legal cornerstone to efficiency — but fewer students understand what liquidity is beyond the pale of converting something to cash; they don’t for example understand that liquidity can mean enabling something with cash-like qualities.  To explain liquidity (one of the central promises of negotiability) I turned the class into a mini-bazaar.  As a condition of staying in the class they must barter something to me in exchange for a cup full of M&M’s.  By exchanging goods, I tell them, we have established economic worth and created new wealth — I know my cup of M&M’s is worth a highlighter, bookmark, Lexis Flash Drive, or Starbucks card as the case may be. But, our economy has a problem — there is no certainty in the transaction.   A cup of M&M’s might be worth a highlighter to one, a flash drive or Starbucks Card to the next person.   The economy is far too personal to be effective as a predictive wealth creation tool.

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Cardboard Races on the Fourth — AKA Torts on the Water

Happy July Fouth Everyone!  This morning we participated in the Lake Winnebago Cardboard Box Boat races and had two entries.  One of our entries — the Lake Winnebago Dragon Boat won most creative!  The former torts teacher in me hoped there were more boats sinking than there were, though the viking ship and pirate ship met untimely ends (see the photo stream)  Here is an image of the award winning Dragon Boat.

I have added a link to a photostream detailing the different boats (with a few that sunk). What interesting things are going on in your community?

Happy Fourth of July everyone!

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Summertime in the South

So one of the things we all love about being a law professor is the flexibility to do what we do in lots of different places.  Each summer, for the last three years, I have split my time between Columbia Missouri and California teaching payment systems for Missou — a nice way to subsidize our family’s vacations back to the Midwest and the South.

This summer in Columbia was the summer of the seven year cicada cycle.  Cicadas are small locust like bugs that every seven years emerge from the earth and mate and then die.  The sing a delightful sound, that frankly can be deafening when they all decide to sing together (which is about two to three weeks per cycle). You may have heard that one Columbia Missouri vendor Sparky’s Ice Cream made a concoction of cicada ice cream before being advised by the Missouri Health Department to cease.  (I went to Sparky’s several weeks ago to try some Cicada ice cream, but they already were told to stop serving the concoction.  Thus, I had boring coffee ice cream instead).

So despite the fact that I did not get to enjoy ice cream with bug parts mixed in, I am happy to say that my summer in the south has been enjoyable. And there is still a month to go. This weekend we are sailing homemade cardboard box boats in a race on July Fourth — my father-in-law constructed two twelve foot cardboard canoes, insulated by gallons of paint.  We are planning a trip to Santa Fe in mid-July, and then back to California.

Summer is definitely my favorite time of year. I am going to blog later about how law students renewed my faith in baseball — reminding me once again of why summer is magical.   For now, I’ll just say, thank you for having me at Concurring Opinions.   I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts on various things, perhaps post some pictures of our travels (including the cardboard boats), and talk about what I am writing and working on.

Marc