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Category: Weird

I’ve heard people say books are getting more ‘gritty’, meaning more violent and less stylised in general. The realism there might be in terms of warrior not shrugging off their wounds and being fine the next day etc. Researched realism and detailed city/country mechanics are not something I was aware of a movement toward. To me nothing is added by, for example, the author working out a grain distribution network. I’m interested in story and character, not mechanics.

— Mark L.

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Law and Hard Fantasy Interview Series: Mark Lawrence

Broken-EmpireI’ve sporadically run an interview series with fantasy authors who generally write in the burgeoning genre of gritty / hard / dark epic fantasy.  (I’m, obviously, a fan.)  The series began with this book review post, and continued with interviews of George R. R. Martin and Patrick Rothfuss.  The series continues today as I interview Mark Lawrence.  Mark is the author of the Broken Empire trilogy, and the forthcoming Red Queen’s War.  His work has been lauded on both sides of the Atlantic (Mark was raised in the U.K., where he works as a research scientist).  He was gracious enough to respond to my email queries, which follow after the jump.

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Sunday Night Monday Morning music

I’m re-reading Gravity’s Rainbow (Pynchon now on Kindle by the way). Finished V. Finished Crying of Lot 49. Tried to pick up Vineland which I loved. Wanted the difficult, mad, beautiful language. Back to Gravity’s Angel. For fans I post a song I knew before I read the book. It is Laurie Anderson’s Gravity’s Angel. Honestly, she’s not for everyone. Maybe not for most. But if you dig experimental music and complex lyrics give it a shot. The album Mister Heartbreak from which the track comes is fun too. Again fun for some. It has William Burroughs on Sharkey’s Night. I quoted it at my Cal graduation. That is below too. Shorter.

Where’s the law? Not sure. As Burroughs intones, “And sharkey says: hey, kemosabe! long time no see. he says: hey sport. you connect the dots. you pick up the pieces.” OK for a bit more, as I have said here before, life beyond the law matters. And it turns out that knowing life beyond the law might make you a better lawyer. That, by the way, is why empathy for a judge is important and a good thing. If you can’t walk in someone else’s shoes, at least read more, listen to more, watch more. Great writing, great communication opens the door to the world beyond yours and mine. At least those are the dots I connect. The pieces I pick up.

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In the tradition of Christmas before Halloween, silver and gold … shoelaces?

A certain Mr. Kennedy sells shoelaces. They come in silver or 24 carat gold. How much? I’m glad you asked. A pair of silver laces are $3,000. A pair of gold laces are $19,000. And in case you are not in awe yet, consider there is an order limit! Yes, my friends, there appears to be a limit of 30 units for silver and 10 units for gold. I could not believe that limits were needed. I poked around. It may be that these are limited edition. But the order info and language about shipping times varying depending on what is in stock make me think perhaps the limit is a security issue or maybe there are laws about that much precious metal being shipped about. I suppose one could be quite the Auric Goldfinger and smuggle using the laces.

I also love that the name is supposed to be a nod to the inventor of the shoelace but these works also have an odd fair trade labor gloss:

MR KENNEDY WAS THE FOUNDER OF THE MODERN DAY SHOELACE. THESE ‘ULTIMATE’ SHOELACES ARE A HOMAGE TO HIM. WE HAVE CREATED THE WORLDS FIRST PURE GOLD AND SILVER SHOELACES. ALL OUR LACES ARE HANDMADE BY OUR TEAM IN COLOMBIA WITH EACH SET TAKING APPROXIMATELY 120 HOURS TO PERFECT.

THEY ARE MADE FROM SILVER AND GOLD, MINED LESS THAN 10 MILES FROM WHERE THEY ARE MANUFACTURED IN THE MIDDLE CAUCA GOLD BELT AND THEY ARE BROUGHT TO YOU BY ‘MR KENNEDY’.

MR KENNEDY AND PRECIOUS SHOELACES WAS AN IDEA INSPIRED BY THE CREATIVITY OF THE PEOPLE OF QUINCHIA, COLOMBIA. THE ARTISAN MINING INDUSTRY THERE HAS LED TO A JEWELRY MARKET WITH SKILLS UNPARALLELED AROUND THE WORLD (MAYBE IT’S THE COFFEE).

So we have name from a dead inventor, an invokation of local craft and sources, and an appeal to wealth and exclusivity. Maggie Chon’s work on Marks of Rectitude is a good read to see how fair trade and labor claims are more and more important. These items seem to take the ideal or Whole Foods (or Whole Paycheck as some call it) and go to the limit of the decadent, righteousness.

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When is a Horse a Vehicle?

In Kentucky. Lowering the Bar explains:

WKYT reported on Monday that a 55-year-old Jessamine County man had been cited for riding while intoxicated. The man said he was trail-riding with some friends and had stopped to have something to eat “when the deputy arrived and told me to get off my horse.” He explained that he is severely diabetic and hadn’t eaten, and that is why he staggered after dismounting, not because he was intoxicated . . .

The report says the man was charged with a violation of Section 189.520, “Operating a vehicle not a motor vehicle while under influence of intoxicants or substance which may impair driving ability prohibited.”  . . .  The statutory language is better than the title: “No person under the influence of intoxicating beverages or any substance which may impair one’s driving ability shall operate a vehicle that is not a motor vehicle anywhere in this state.”

[A]ren’t there often statutes that define certain legal terms? Yes, and there’s one here. And sadly for Rooster Cogburn, it defines “vehicle” as including “All agencies for the transportation of persons or property over or upon the public highways of the Commonwealth.…” So while I still like my “animal is not a vehicle” argument, Kentucky has precluded it.”

Seems like a good example to use in a class on statutory interpretation.  Isn’t the obvious question what an “agency” is for the purposes of Kentucky law?

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Is Stuttering the Tribute Cynics Pay to Sentiment?

A Gawker article about the fakeness of the DNC resonated with me.  But the author makes the following puzzling claim:

“Michelle Obama stutters. She does not have a stutter. She stutters on purpose. “I-I-I, I’ve seen it in our men and women in uniform.” “Fr-from the young person with so much promise.” “And-and, even as a kid…”

It is a studied stutter, deployed in order to build sincerity. It is not so much a rhetorical device as an acting device. The same could be said for the presentation of almost all political convention speeches. And it is, at its core, sad.”

I too am turned off by the conventions of our conventions, and believe the RNC (and now the DNC) to be manipulative, peacocking displays. It an excellent trend that Americans increasingly agree with me and turn off their TVs rather than watch the pageantry.  However, I’m puzzled by the claim that false-stuttering will make listeners more, not less, convinced of the First Lady’s sincerity.  The research I’ve seen tends to the opposite conclusion.  Indeed, this paper claims that even mild stuttering would be a serious impediment for a politician, let alone his or her spouse.  Is there actually evidence that a mild stutter makes speakers seem more sincere?

 

[Update: edited for clarity.]

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The Eurozone as a Nexus of Contracts

Last last year, I had the pleasure of hearing a senior European policymaker address a gathering on the topic of the future of Europe. It was his considered view that no one could leave the Euro – and that the only path forward was more cowbell integration.  (It was 2011.  We were all so young and naive.)  Partly, this was a matter of facts-on-the-ground economic co-dependence. But he also believed in the strength of the overlapping treaties which would make exit all-but-impossible.  Indeed, I was struck at the time that Europe was imagined – at least in the heads of certain Europeans – as a bit of a sovereign arising from nexus of contracts. The contract terms in the Maastricht Treaty were sovereignty for prosperity.

Obviously, things have changed. But the metaphor looks like a better fit than ever.  It’s just that it looks like it is time for efficient breach of contract.

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Problems Accessing SSRN?

Has anyone else noticed that over the last six months, SSRN is buggy on both Chrome and Firefox? Individual pages get hung up loading googleads – often causing the browser to crash if a script isn’t interrupted.  I’m thinking perhaps it is having trouble navigating the otherwise exemplary add-on AdBlock?  If you have dealt with this problem, I’d love to know how to solve it.

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Openings

Sometimes, opening sentences tell you exactly what you need to know about what’s to follow.  That’s certainly true of literature.  Consider the beginning of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Notes From Underground (translation Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky): “I am a sick man . . . I am a wicked man.  An unattractive man.  I think my liver hurts.”  Genius, really.  And this notion is definitely true of opinions.  Take, as an example, Wal-mart Stores v. Dukes: “We are presented with one of the most expansive class actions ever.”  Justice Scalia, from the get go, made clear that the class was doomed.  I imagine that readers have other humdingers of beginnings, do tell.

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Interesting Facts You Learn From Reading Supreme Court Opinions

“‘Golds’ are permanent or removable mouth jewelry, also referred to as ‘grills.’ See Mouth Jewelry Wearers Love Gleam of the Grill, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Feb. 4, 2007, p. 5, 2007 WLNR 2187080. See also A. Westbrook, Hip Hoptionary 59 (2002) (defining a ‘grill’ as a ‘teeth cover, usually made of gold and diamonds’). -Thomas, J., dissenting in Smith v. Cain.