Blawg Review #162

“I hear that sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace.”
Bob Dylan, Man of Peace

“I am a man of peace.”
Kwai Chang Caine, Kung Fu, Episode 8

“Peace lies not in the world…but in the man who walks the path.”
Master Po, Kung Fu, Episode 8

When I took on this task of writing Blawg Review #162, I received emails expressing excitement at the idea of this blog bridging East and West, enlightening the legal world about China, and enlightening our China readers about the legal world. All lofty goals, but not lofty enough. I am going here for no less than WORLD PEACE. Miss America (and Miss World too, for that matter) could not do it, but we can. I therefore dedicate this post to World Peace and to ending all disputes. Because this post is a blawg (note the word law in there) review, much of it will, by necessity, focus on disputes, but we will resolve all of them, in this, Blawg Review #162, The World Peace Edition.

In its post, You might remember me from such blog posts as “Christmas Ape” and “Christmas Ape goes to Summer Camp,” [link no longer exists] the always scintillating Wikinomics blog addresses head on the hotly disputed issue of whether Troy McClure warranted front page status on Wikipedia. Wikinomics seems to side with the anti-McClures in noting “a fair number of Wikipedians agree that Troy is not quite feature article material.” We see no dispute here. He is Troy McClure and he deserved it. Wikipedia itself puts it best:

Chris Turner argues in Planet Simpson that McClure and Lionel Hutz “together…represent the most significant contribution to the show outside of its permanent cast”, adding that “the show’s Golden Age is hard to imagine without them.” He continues, “The smarmy Hollywood type…has been done to death, but Hartman’s version breathed new life into it with each appearance. McClure has become the apotheosis of the stereotype, a gut-achingly funny reinterpretation whose trademark introduction…has become a shorthand way to describe any grossly artificial media figure.

McClure’s most prominent episode, “A Fish Called Selma”, is often regarded as one of the best episodes in the show’s history, and is a favorite of many staff members. Entertainment Weekly placed the episode eighth on their top 25 The Simpsons episode list, and named the episode the best of the seventh season, calling it the “obvious pick”. They also deemed McClure’s Planet of the Apes musical the best moment of the episode and “maybe even the whole show”.

Though of less significance than the Troy McClure controversy, but still of no small import in East-West relations, my friend Josh Gartner at Cup of Cha takes Jerry Seinfeld head on in his post “Why Chopsticks Make Sense” [link no  longer exists]. Josh convincingly argues why chopsticks are still relevant, though Seinfeld’s counterargument is not without its humor:

I’ll tell you what I like about Chinese people. They’re hanging in there with the chopsticks, aren’t they? You know they’ve seen the fork. They’re staying with the sticks. I don’t know how they missed it. Chinese farmer gets up, works in the field with a shovel all day. Shovel. Spoon. Come on. You’re not plowing 40 acres with a couple of pool cues!

Speaking of chopsticks, though Beijing’s “request” that its citizens dispense with disposable chopsticks is old news, the “new news” is that, starting today, China has banned thin plastic bags and China Environmental Lawyer blog [link no longer exists] has the in-depth report. Bringing your own bag solves the long raging dispute between paper or plastic, but we still all should sympathize with the Chinese metrosexuals who are reluctant to be seen toting bamboo sacks.

My buddy, J. Daniel Hull, over at the always worthwhile What About Clients? Blog is the Yin and Yang of bloggers. In one post he is a uniter while in another he is a divider. Let’s start with the good karma (for the definition of that word, do NOT ask Sharon Stone). What About Clients? has just added 75 more new non-US blawgs to its Directory. Dan, in the interest of inter- law firm harmony, might I suggest you add China Hearsay, by Stan Abrams of DLA Piper, who just wrote about his fear of Fuwas.

Yet, in his post, Big Dog finally hosts Blawg Review he mentions my turn at hosting this week’s blawg review, but then claims I owe him a “one-on-one game of hoops–but I [Hull] can take this Hoosier.” Hull is from Ohio, where last I knew they did not even play basketball. Dispute resolved, I would win 10-0 were I to deign to play him. We would not use Ticketmaster or the NCAA to sell tickets, however, as both of them are on the wrong end of a class action lawsuit involving allegations their method of allocating Final Four tickets constitutes an illegal lottery.

Thomas PM Barnett, who knows as much about resolving worldwide political and military disputes as anyone, did a short post [link no longer exists] linking over to this super-cool Washington Post visual showing where countries rank on grain imports and exports. I fear an increase in disputes caused by food shortages, but my resolution for this is Taco Del Mar, as this always works to calm the temper of my ten year old daughter. Honestly, it does.

Unfortunately, even our hallowed blawgosphere is enmeshed in a bitter war between we practicing lawyers on one side and “lawprofs and nut jobs” on the other. My friend Kevin O’Keefe of Real Lawyers Have Blogs explains why this war is so important and also does his best to rally the real lawyer troops. People, people, people, “we don’t need to escalate. You see, war is not the answer….” Fortunately, few listen to professors or nut jobs anyway. Build a Solo Practice thinks for profit websites should at least ask for permission to use another blog’s entire feed. I agree both on principle and because proper manners mitigate disputes.

Davids’ Blog finds delicious irony in Lobbying against mortgage lending regulations and getting stiffed for your work. [link no longer exists] Me, I dream of lender and borrower and lobbyist all working together in harmony.

Feminist Law Profs asks, Who speaks for all women? [link no longer exists] and then gives the obvious answer of no one person, not even Hillary Clinton. We lawyers call questions like these setting up a straw man (or person). The post then explains why these two law profs support Obama over Hillary. In the interest of giving equal time to the Hillary side of things and in an effort to spread a bit of link love to a long-time China blogger, I give you this China Confidential post [link no longer exists], setting forth why Hillary must get the nomination. The Atlantic Review blog writes that Europe Deserves Obama More [link no longer exists] and I do have to say Obama as EU President does seem ideal for all concerned.

A television talking head remarked today that though Obama can get the Starbucks vote, he has shown no evidence of being able to get the McDonald’s vote. Speaking of Starbucks, in a dispute very close to my home, Starbucks is talking about challenging the Seattle Rat City Rollergirls’ Trademark Application. [Just as an aside, am I the only one who cannot think roller derby without thinking of Raquel Welch?]. Resolution here requires a belated recognition that nobody is going to mistake a Rollergirl team for a Starbucks outlet.

Following in the tradition of the never-ending (until now) guns versus butter dispute, Intlawgrrls writes on biofuels versus food and Carolyn Elefant wonders, Should I Turn Down A $50k Bonus Clerkship Bonus To Start My Own Practice? On complex questions like these (now that my magic 8-ball has become nearly unreadable) I turn to the immortal Ernie Banks, whose response no doubt would be “let’s play two” — in other words, think win-win and go for both.

The Immigration Prof Blog salutes its Immigrant of the Day, while International Law Observer asks whether the race for the North Pole is over. I say let’s share. Blawging itself makes the world flatter. Museums too. That is all clear, right?

The Blawgraphy [link no longer exists] writes compellingly on the similarities between the practice of law and chicken sexing:

Well, what I want to suggest is that what’s going on in the chick-sexing profession is the very same thing that goes on in the legal profession. The formal doctrines and rules that make up the law – unconscionability, proximate causation, character propensity, unreasonable restraints of trade – are just as fuzzy and indeterminate as the genetalia of dayold chicks. And yet just as the trained chick sexer can accurately distinguish female from male, so the trained lawyer can accurately distinguish good decision from bad, persuasive argument from weak. Ask the lawyer for an explanation, and in his case too you’ll get nothing but confabulation – “plain meaning,” “congressional intent,” “efficiency” – or what have you.

In addition, the lawyer attains her skill – to recognize what she can’t cogently explain – in much the same way that the chick sexer does: through exposure to a professional slideshow, this one conducted by law grandmasters, including law professors but also other socialized lawyers, who authoritatively certify what count as good and bad decisions, sound and unsound arguments, thereby inculcating in students and young practitioners the power of intuitive perception distinctive of the legal craft.

TechoLawyer Blog also sees similarities between food and law in his post What a Vending Machine Can Teach You About Running a Law Firm. He urges staying away from Sunkist soda because it contains no juice, but I say it is wrong for us to turn our backs on it and, instead, implore everyone to work together to help it acquire the juice it allegedly lacks. Adam Smith, Esq. suggests law firms look to Toyota for its lessons [link no longer exists]. Not kidding, but a few weeks ago Kevin O’Keefe, Buzz Bruggeman, and I talked about this very thing over drinks.

The latest podcast from International Dispute Negotiation is an interview with Jason Fry, who took over last October as Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Court of Arbitration in Paris, downloadable here. It describes itself as “your guide to resolving disputes everywhere,” apparently without knowing we would be taking care of all those issues.

No post designed to resolve disputes would be complete without at least touching on Mencius and the post of the week on that topic has to belong to The Useless Tree, who tells us that, Wen Jiabao is better than Mao Zedong and has this to say about the rising stature of China’s communist party in the wake of the recent earthquake in Sichuan Province:

Mencian legitimacy is not necessarily a democratic legitimacy. As in the PRC now, it may not require electoral competition for executive and legislative power. An “enlightened” authoritarianism, which was the standard in Mencius’ own time, may be able to respond to popular needs, as now seems to be the case in Sichuan. Indeed, a focused and centralized political authority may be able to act more quickly and effectively, at least for a time, than a slower and sloppier democratic system. It seems certain that, thus far, the response of Wen and the central government has bolstered regime legitimacy in the eyes of many, many Chinese citizens. The leadership is seen to be doing the right thing, and doing it with real care and conviction. Mencian legitimacy can strengthen authoritarianism.

But Mencian legitimacy can also work against authoritarianism (just as it can work against democratically-elected leaders who fail the test of serving the people, as is arguably now the case with Bush). What happens if the grief of the people turns into anger against officials? Might the people then demand that they should have a greater role in determining who their leaders should be? If, as Mencius says, “Heaven sees through the eyes of the people, and Heaven hears through the ears of the people,” then what should happen if the people claim a greater role in the selection of political leaders? Heaven could come between the Party and the people. I wonder what Wen would do then?

Now that I have resolved all of the world’s disputes I will note that Blawg Review has information about next week’s host, More Partner Income, (a concept I wholeheartedly endorse) and instructions on how to get your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues.

May 15, 2024 Update. This post is more emotional than pretty much any post I’ve written. I orginally wrote this in 2008 as part of what was a beloved series of Blawg Review posts for the Blawg review. Each writer would be given a list of law blogs they were to include in the blog post, and we would each try ot one up each other with the wackiness of our posts. The brains behind Blawg Review — Ed —  tried to maintain anonymity but he actually was known by many (he visited me in Seattle at one point) and beloved by all. And then, sadly, he died in 2013, and the Blawg Review stopped, though it lives on in my hear and in that of many others.

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