mytopleft

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Brilliant strategy for closing Gitmo

Who'd a thunk it was this simple. Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Monday, May 27, 2013

I wish I thought this was funny instead of scary

Got my tax forms for 2013 already. Thanks to Ace for this:


Macedonia? Really?

Didn't see this one coming, but we got some visitors from Macedonia for the first time in the past week. Macedonia, of course, was part of Yugoslavia but became independent when the shit hit the fan there in 1991. It is landlocked, bordered by Kosovo to the northwest, Serbia to the north, Bulgaria to the east, Greece to the south and Albania to the west. The capital is Skopje, which in 2002  had a population of 506,926.

Far more relevant for me, of course, is that Macedonia is the homeland of Alexander the Great, who conquered the entire known world when he was like, 12 or something. Really young. he died at 32, having conquered essentially the entire known world. Dude was a military genius. So thanks to the folks from Macedonia dropping by, even if it was a spam bot seeking porn (I don't know that it was, but still, we would welcome them all the same).

Memorial Day food porn, duh

I received inquiries as to whether there would be food porn for Memorial Day. Duh. The beauty here, of course, is that I can put most of this up for July 4th and Labor Day, as well. Talk about economies of scale.

 Anyway, Memorial Day, along with the far more serious reasons for the holiday, marks the beginning of the summer season. Pools open, people bust out the Slip 'n' Slide, the Super Soakers come out and, best of all, folks dust off the outdoor grill to do some serious backyard cooking. People who are really serious dust off two backyard grills -- one gas, one charcoal. Naturally, Chez Wolves is a two-grill backyard.

Why two grills, you might ask? Only if you are among the uninitiated, of course, but you are legion. The answer is simple: some shit can't be cooked properly on a gas grill. Having established that, on to the food porn. This is going to be a non-linear food porn post, because we are preparing several different dishes at the same time. Work with me. We start with the ribs.

Get a rack or two of pork short ribs. Cut them into manageable sections, generally of the size you would serve to people. Say, two to four ribs per section. Bring a big pot of water to a boil, toss those ribs in and boil them for about 20 minutes. They will look like this when you take them out:


Technically speaking, these ribs are now cooked and are safe to eat. Only a barbarian would eat them at this point, because they will be so much better later.

OK. Go down to your patio, your deck or wherever you keep your charcoal grill, and for God's sake, don't use charcoal today. Get hickory chunks, follow the directions (more or less the same as for charcoal, with some variations) and start a hickory fire in your grill. Throw the boiled ribs on the grill when it is ready.


After they have cooked some (and been turned), put the lid on so that hickory smoke flavor will permeate the porky goodness that is getting more tender by the moment on your grill.

You're gonna need a sauce. If you put Kraft on these ribs, do the world a favor and shoot yourself. There are commercial sauces available that are OK, but I won't use them. King's Barbecue in Petersburg, Va., makes magnificent sauce. You can get some at www.kingsfamousbarbecue.com. You really should. It will make you a better person. It will also make you better ribs.



So once the sauce is on the ribs (put it on one side, grill a while, then turn and put it on the other side) move the ribs out of the way of the direct heat, like so:


Then put the lid on, and let the ribs get tender. Don't let them burn or dry out -- you might want to reapply sauce -- but let them cook for a while. When they have reached the point of tender perfection -- eating one is the best way to tell, in more ways than one --  yank those suckers off the grill and there they are:



OK, so that's the ribs. I told you this was non-linear, right? Kind of like "Pulp Fiction." Anyway, back in time to the potato salad. So you start with white potatoes. Use as many as you see fit given the number of people attending and how much you want left over the next day.

You will also need to hard-boil some eggs. Same considerations apply:


While the eggs are boiling, peel the potatoes, and chop them into potato-salad sized cubes. You know what I'm talking about.
 The eggs probably are off the heat by this point and you have peeled them. You also put the cubed potatoes into a pot to boil until tender. You will drain them and let them cool a bit, because it is a pain to work with really hot potato cubes. Just sayin'.
 Put your now-cooled potato cubes in a big bowl, and get some mustard, pickle relish, mayonnaise and the eggs you boiled and peeled earlier.
Sliced and dice the eggs and put them in with the potatoes. Then add relish, mustard and mayonnaise, basically to taste, to the mixture. Start small and adjust how much you put in to your personal preference. Stir it all up and refrigerate. We're working ahead, remember? Nonlinear.

OK, baked beans. I usually make my own from scratch, but that is a serious pain and takes a lot of planning, since you have to start about two days ahead of time to do it right. So today I used Bush's Best Original Baked Beans.

Naturally, you can't leave well enough alone, so feel free to add more bacon or such. I chop up an onion and toss that in.

Personally, I sautee my onions a bit before putting them in. Up to you. Mix that all up in a casserole dish and set it aside. When the time comes, you will bake it covered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. But not now.

Now, grab a few ears of corn -- again, how much depends on how many people are coming -- shuck those suckers and toss them into a pot of water. You won't cook them until everything else is almost ready. For corn, start from zero, put the heat on high. As soon as it is boiling, turn the heat off. Serve when you are ready.

We're nearly there. Get your hot dogs and hamburgers -- naturally, you made your hamburgers by hand, roughly four to the pound -- and toss those suckers on the gas grill, because your charcoal grill is busy with the ribs:

If your hot dogs aren't a little black when they're ready, you're doing something wrong


Grill the burgers however you like --rare, burn 'em, I don't care -- and serve 'em up. Catsup, mustard, pickles, cheese, whatevs. Go for it. Your plate should look something like this:


Perhaps come July 4th I'll show you how to make your own baked beans. In the meantime, bon appetit.

Better late than never

I can't say "happy" Memorial Day, because that sounds odd, all things considered, but I hope you observed the holiday in a fashion that was both enjoyable and did honor to those the holiday is intended to remember. We did, and we said a little prayer for the people in my family's life  this holiday honors. All things considered, they are blessedly few, but I extend that prayer to all who have given their lives so that we can live free. I hope we don't voluntarily give up what they died to preserve.


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Another data point in a long string of not-good developments for Temp Town

I've talked about computer-assisted review and predictive coding here and here. Probably elsewhere, too, but I'm lazy. Anyway, it's not good for the future of temps. Likewise, using attorneys in India and the Philippines, among other places, or even just lower-cost states like North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia, also cannot be good news for DC-based temps. The proliferation of short, 40-hour projects is a direct result of the cost-cutting trends that birthed these developments. Now we're seeing other indications that the future is here, and it sucks, as shown by this post at the Temp Town job listserve The Posse List:

[An agency I work for from time to time] is staffing a JD document review looking to start 5/28/13. Please see the details below: 
*Only a JD required. The client has indicated candidates do not need barred or bar pending *Start date: 5/28/13 *Pay rate: $24/hr plus 1.5 for OT *Hours: 40/hrs week *Duration: 2 weeks 
Short, no OT and no bar required, and so shitty pay as a result -- as in a 20 percent cut from the more or less standard rate.   We've seen the occasional JD-only  project before, so this isn't a totally new development. I will be watching to see if it becomes more of a trend, however.  On the one hand, there is a June 2005 advisory opinion by the DC Court of Appeals Committee on Unauthorized Practice of Law that says “when a person is hired and billed as a lawyer . . . . When a client is paying for the services of a lawyer, and not a paralegal or law clerk, the person providing the services and the person’s employer must comply" with local rules requiring DC Bar membership for the practice of law in the District. (Sorry, no link -- I mentioned I'm lazy, right?) On the other hand, it's just an advisory opinion and won't stop clients from eyeballing that nice little 20 percent savings on labor. The Posse List post says straight up the client made the JD-only call. Think more of them won't? I won't bet against it.

How's that exit strategy coming?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Represent! Happy Memorial Day weekend!

Yeah, feels a little early. I don't really like this whole "closest Monday" shit when it comes to national holidays. It has far more to do with government unions -- so that government employees can get a three-day weekend -- than anything else. When I was a kid, I liked getting holidays from school in the middle of the week. I hated that shit when it changed.

OK, fine, I've established that I am an old fuck. Nonetheless, unlike the president, I know who we are honoring this weekend, and you should remember it, too.  This nation has been defended by thousand upon thousands of Americans who have given their lives to ensure we remain free. Memorial Day is for the ones who didn't make it home. Veterans Day is for everybody who served.  On Memorial Day, we give thanks to those who paid the ultimate price to preserve our freedom. And so I represent with our brand-new flag:



The old one got torn and has been retired in keeping with regulations (Lance Corporal Wolves made sure of that). While I wish everybody realized the distinction between Memorial Day and Veterans' Day, I really wish the president did.


"On this Memorial Day, as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes -- and I see many of them in the audience here today -- our sense of patriotism is particularly strong."
I guess it's not his fault, since he didn't grow up in this country for the most part. Still.

Jeb the Wonder Dog

I like to name my dogs after Confederate generals. My current model is a collie named Jeb, after Jeb Stuart, the second-finest cavalry commander ever to take saddle. (Nathan Bedford Forrest was the best cavalry commander ever. George Patton was the best modern cavalry (armor -- that's tanks for you civilians) commander.

But I digress. Jeb, the current model, goes with me when I go to the farm. I have a friend who has a few acres, and we grow some vegetables there. He also has a golden lab about Jeb's age, and they play while I garden. Jeb, of course, likes to hang his head out the window while we drive over.



Yes, these are all rear-view mirror pictures taken at great risk, at least as far as oncoming traffic was concerned.  Anyway, Jeb was happy, and there was no collision.

When we got to the farm, Jeb and his buddy, Willie, did what they do, which is this:

video
video
So there you have Day One of my Memorial Day weekend. More coming.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

I don't see a poisoned tree, do you?

One of the precepts of criminal law under the Constitution is that evidence against a suspect that is obtained as a result of knowledge gained in violation of the suspect's rights -- because of things learned during illegal questioning, or through an illegal search -- is not admissible in court. The evidence is considered to be the fruit of the poisoned tree, the poisoned tree being the illegal act. You non-lawyers out there -- and for these purposes, I am including most of you in Temp Town -- this would seem to indicate that it is nap time, as nothing good can come of a post that starts like that. But I know you can persevere. Screw your courage to the sticking place.

OK, detour -- my late sainted mother, may she rest in peace, used to toss that one out there all the time. A theater major, she was rather fond of literary quotations. That one is from MacBeth, Act I, Scene 7. There is some argument as to the actual derivation of the phrase -- might involve a crossbow, maybe musical instruments? -- but all agree it means you reach a point where you can't move anymore and you have to simply get tough and cowboy up. So work with me here, people.

In any event, if you could gather the information by legal means, independent of your illegal knowledge, then the information is admissible and isn't poisoned anymore.  I think we have that here. Let me explain.

One of the things firms and agencies always pound on is that you can't discuss the documents you review with people not involved in the case. It's an attorney-client thing. On the other hand the most truly interesting documents -- not related to the case, but usually emails about affairs and such -- have nothing to do with the legal matter that has you reviewing these documents. You still can't talk about these documents, though, no matter how interesting, funny or whatever, because you only know about the information in the documents because you actually read them. There is no other way for you to know.

Yes, yes, but what if there were another way for you to know? Couldn't you talk about it? I think that sounds OK, don't you? Good, because there is tons of shit on the internet about what I found in the documents I'm looking at. So that's the approach I'm taking: this information is out there, and I was able to find it independent of anything I do at work.

With that big-ass buildup, I just want to make sure that nobody expects some major revelation here. This shit is small potatoes. Really. But I found it fascinating. So here it its:  The son of one of the executives at the company whose documents I am reviewing played baseball in college. He was a pitcher. He was pretty good, but not really good, or he would have been drafted long before he finished college. He apparently signed a contract with a major league team to pitch for one of that team's Single A affilliates -- minor league ball, unlikely to lead to the bigs. He also, apparently, had been accepted to law school.

At some point, decision time came. This dickwad chose law school. He decided not to play pro baseball and went to law school instead. Allow me to collect myself for a moment so that when I comment it will not be an unconsidered, intemperate remark.

There. I'm OK now.

WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THIS ASSHOLE?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Fucking anybody can get into law school. I look around me everyday and see proof of that. The industry is completely fucked up and much harder to make a living in -- why not become a newspaper reporter, if you're so damn desperate to join a dying industry? But to have the ability to play professional sports? Even at the lowest level? That is so much more selective than law school will ever be.

If you are that physically gifted, how on earth do you not want to see how far your talent will take you? Everybody and his brother played Little League baseball; most of them weren't good enough to play high school ball. In turn, most of them weren't good enough to play college ball, even at shitty schools. And most of those guys weren't good enough to play even Single-A ball at the pro level. How do you not take that shot?

At 21 or 22 years old, it is almost impossible to waste a year. Most potential employers would be impressed if you spent a year or two in the minor leagues, figuring out whether you had enough talent to move higher. But setting that aside, if I had enough talent to put me into the very select company that even gets the chance to play professional ball, even minor league, I would never be able to live with myself if I didn't at least try. But hey, maybe I'm wrong.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

At least Jay Carney told the truth about one thing

Granted, it was from before he was White House spokesman, but still, give credit where it's due. I hate to link to The Politico, but they're the ones posting video of Carney in 2006 saying he wouldn't be any good as a White House press secretary. It isn't that he wouldn't lie, it's just that he's not very convincing at lying. Hat tip to Ace.

Monday, May 20, 2013

This doesn't happen often

 On the same day, I agree with President Obama and his wife. Via Hot Air, coverage of the commencement addresses by those two individuals and commentary on same. Unlike that dumbass speech at Ohio State where Barry told the grads to ignore people who doubt government and just believe in how great big government is -- right before the Benghazi/IRS/AP subpoena scandals erupted -- the president sounded, no shit, presidential.  Nothing I can add would improve what Mary Katherine Hamm says at Hot Air regarding these addresses. Go read the entire link by MKH, and follow her links to the source material. I am humbled by how good she is. All I can say is, both of the Obamas' speeches really moved me. Good for them.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

All God's chilluns like food porn

Yeah, it's that time again: food porn, baby. You know you can't turn away, so here it comes. Today's offering is -- drum roll, please -- gumbo. Not soup, not stew, just good.

First off, get a nice, heavy pot, kinda like this one:


You will need a beer, as Cajun food requires it.

OK, now toss in 4 tablespoons of flour and 4 tablespoons of oil. I use olive oil, you can use what you like or what you have. You also can use butter -- we're making a roux here, people, to serve as a thickener for the gumbo. As long as your proportions are 1:1 for the flour and oil/butter, you're good. So any way, heat the oil or the butter, then mix in the flour so it looks something like this:



 Cook that mixture over highish low heat or lowish medium heat until it takes on a nice, reddish-brown color, like this:

Stir often, if not constantly, and keep an eye on it: it's easy to burn, and you don't want that.

Fine, while that is going on -- you're going to have to multi-task here, so it might be better to chop this stuff up before you start your roux if you're nervous about not being able to do both at the same time without burning the roux -- you need to chop up one large onion or two medium onions. I like to use Vidalia onions, although any sweet onion will do in a pinch. Not a bid fan of yellow onions, but I accept that people use them. You also want to chop up two celery stalks -- two ribs, not two bunches; let's not get carried away here:



I did not have a large onion, so I went with two medium onions. You can never have too much onion in a soup/stew/gumbo.

You also will chop up a green bell pepper, and have it ready:


 Once your roux has achieved that lovely red-brown color, you must gradually add two quarts of water, stirring constantly as you go so the roux and the water blend. Then add two pounds of chopped okra. Hard to get fresh okra, so you can used canned okra. Two cans might be best, as your okra is intended to act as a thickener. By the way, you're done chopping vegetables, so you can open that second beer now, as the risk of amputating a fingertip is gone.


Because you also are going to add tomatoes -- my recipe calls for canned tomatoes, but I usually use tomatoes from my garden that I have jarred -- it is permissible to use a canned okra and tomato mix:


While you're adding this canned shit, you also should sautee your onions and celery in butter. Makes it taste better. Don't sautee to a conclusion -- we don't want this stuff carmelized. Just soften it up:


Add the bell pepper and the onion-celery mix to the main pot. Bring everything to a boil, then take the heat down to low and let it simmer for about an hour, like this:

I know, hard to tell that's a low boil, but it is. If you like tomatoes, you can add another can of tomatoes. It's all good. So as it simmers, you can add spices:
These are added to taste: salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce, definitely. You can toss in some red pepper, black pepper some Tabasco and/or some Tony Chachere seasoning if you like. I recommend all of the above, but this may take some experimentation on your part. If you are cooking Cajun, you pretty much have to use Tony Chachere. Ditto for Tabasco. No tour of the French Quarter in Nawlins is complete without swinging by the McIlhenny house, the folks who own the company that makes Tabasco sauce. Nice crib. Great family, great product. Use it and shut up, quit bugging me.

Now, you might want to put some meat in this sucker, so once things have simmered for 45 minutes or so, add about a pound of cooked, chopped chicken. You can chop up some boneless chicken and brown it, but that would have to go in sooner, as it will need to cook. I use cooked chicken, cut it up and toss it in. If you don't keep cooked chicken breasts in your freezer, plan accordingly and cook up some chicken chunks.


Ditto for shrimp. Once the chicken has been in long enough to heat through (or cook, if you started with raw, browned chicken chunks), you will be adding two pounds of shrimp. You can use previously cooked shrimp (I did) or you can use peeled, raw shrimp. If you use pre-cooked shrimp, just let the shrimp heat through, then take the gumbo off the heat. For raw peeled shrimp, give it about five minutes before taking it off the heat. Do not overcook your shrimp.


The final product should be pretty thick, somewhere between soup and gravy. I was pressed for time and was forced to serve before it was truly thick enough, but it worked. Serve over rice:


Naturally, the gumbo will be thicker tomorrow. Despite the insufficient thickness, I am told that it was pretty good:



We're not No. 2. Do we still try harder?

Way back when, Avis used to have an ad campaign that conceded that Hertz was the top rent-a-car agency. The hook was "We're Number 2. We try harder." They dropped it later, probably because the implicit message was that they tried harder and still fell short. Not good business strategy to admit straight up that your best is not good enough.

We at Eff You, however, have no problem making such admissions. According to Alexa, the Web Information Company, Eff You is ranked at 22,633,346 among he world's blogs. I assume (and hope) that there are more than 22,633,346 blogs in the world.

Yeah, let's try to be more like Europe

Libtards are always going on about how European countries provide all their people with health care, and other benefits that this nasty, cruel country we live in won't do and that we should be more like them. Yeah, well, maybe not:
More than 8,000 French households' tax bills topped 100 percent of their income last year, the business newspaper Les Echos reported on Saturday, citing Finance Ministry data.
The newspaper said that the exceptionally high level of taxation was due to a one-off levy last year on 2011 incomes for households with assets of more than 1.3 million euros ($1.67 million).
The entire article is astounding, and really short, so if I posted all the quotes from the article that I thought were really interesting, the whole thing would be up here and that's copyright infringement, so follow the link. Needless to say, I'm pretty sure that we don't need to follow the lead of our European cousins on this shit. Barry, take note.

Just a Marine and his dog

Come on, you know you love shit like this:


Hat tip to Ace.

This is just too damn funny

If you ever needed proof that we will never have another band with the impact that The Beatles had, this is it:


Hat tip to Instapundit

Thursday, May 16, 2013

It's not like gun ownership is a right or something

Oh, wait, yes it is. That, of course, did not stop Gov. Darth O'Malley, the evil overlord of the state in which I unfortunately reside, from signing the ludicrous gun-control law that his minions rammed through the one-party Maryland legislature this past session.  Basically, the law bans a bunch of weapons -- probably unconstitutional under recent Supreme Court jurisprudence, which protects ownership of firearms commonly owned and used for self-defense purposes, which includes every rifle Maryland thinks it just banned. And, of course, as the federal "assault weapon" ban showed, bans of this ilk accomplish nothing because almost no murders are committed with these weapons. There were two slayings in Maryland last year using rifles of any kind -- not clear whether the weapon in either case would fall under this stupid-ass law.

All this law does is impose more restrictions on law-abiding gun owners. Requirements to purchase certain weapons -- mostly handguns -- include registration, finger-printing and mandatory training. Registration serves only one purpose -- so the government knows who has a gun. Finger-printing, we used to believe, was for criminals. Guess not. Training? Fine, whatever, I'm sure it's a good idea in theory. In practice, Maryland probably will require a state-certified course offered only once a year. The purpose here is not to make things safer but to discourage gun sales, after all. Do you think criminals will register their guns, submit to fingerprinting or take the training course? Please. Gun control laws never address the criminal element; they only impact people who obey the law.

So let'stake a leaf from the liberal playbook. Why can't we all just get along?


If you tried to put restrictions like this on freedom of speech, libtards would go apoplectic. Just sayin'.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I love this man

Even though I hate the Eagles, one of their O-linemen, Evan Mathis, has earned my eternal respect by posting this photo on Instagram:


Audit this, indeed.

Here's a real pick-me-up for temps

Got an email from The Posse List the other day that just confirms the status of temps in the legal community. The post referred to a case regarding the Bernie Madoff stock fraud. Basically, the judge told the slime-ball plaintiffs' firms to quit trying to overvalue the work of contract attorneys. As The Posse List put it:
A federal judge in New York approved a hotly disputed fee for lawyers who negotiated a $217 million settlement with Madoff "feeder funds," but only after leveling harsh criticism at the firms for trying to obtain excessive markups for low-paid contract attorneys.
The judge thought the plaintiffs' firms were trying to collect too much in fees for work done by contract attorneys. Of course, they were. They were trying to get up to $400 an hour for work done by contract attorneys. Wow. That's a lot of value-added provided by temps, right? Yeah, nobody's buying it. As the judge put it:

I have struggled for several weeks with this whole issue of compensation for document review. Had I thought ahead to the end of the case at the beginning, I would have included in my order appointing Lead Counsel specific directives about how much this court was prepared to authorize in terms of an hourly rate for document reviewers – and it would likely have been significantly below even the $275 blended rate achieved by Keller Rohrback and Lewis Feinberg. There is little excuse in this day and age for delegating document review (particularly primary review or first pass review) to anyone other than extremely low-cost, low-overhead temporary employees (read, contract attorneys) - and there is obviously no excuse for paying those temporary, low-overhead employees $40 or $50 an hour and then marking up their pay ten times for billing purposes.
My first reaction to this was, fucking temps are getting 50 smacks an hour:? Sign me up! After I got over that, though, it was pretty clear that the judge was saying explicitly that temps aren't adding much value and it is wrong to attempt to charge for their work what you might charge for work done by a "real" lawyer. Just let the fucking temps do it for bargain-basement prices and save everybody some money.

The worst part? Actually, there are two worst parts. First, she's right. Keeping costs down is why temps exist. We aren't worth more, at least in the eyes of the rest of the legal community.

The second worst part? The sack of shit who made the devaluation of temps a part of legal precedent has a job for life, and the people she devalued don't know if they have a job for tomorrow. Fuck her.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Time for a Captain Louis Renault Award

Sure, I stole this from Hot Air, but it's a great schtick, and the revelation that the IRS has been targeting conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status for some good old-fashioned Big Brother harassment gives us the perfect opportunity to give out the award again. Naturally, Barry himself steps right through the door, letting us know that he finds this "outrageous" and by golly "there is no place" for this kind of illegal thuggery. Apparently, Barry isn't responsible -- he only heard about this last week when it hit the news reports. Of course, Barry never knows about anything -- the folks who work for him never tell him anything. It's not like he's the president or anything. Sorry, Barry -- no statuette or plaque, but you win the Renault Award:




Monday, May 13, 2013

Happy birthday, Eff You; Update!

Tomorrow, May 14, is the second anniversary of this blog. For those of you who don't know, this blog was started as a response to a temp saying that she was going to write a screeenplay about Temp Town. I told her she was full of shit because she hadn't even started it yet and therefore never would. Naturally, she challenged me to do better, so that night I wrote the first entry for this blog, Begin at the Beginning. I said then that all wisdom flows from the movie The Princess Bride and that the title of the first post was an allusion to the scene where Inigo, seriously drunk, says Fezzini told him to go back to the beginning, so he did. Can't find that clip online, so I provide you with this:


Eff You started on May 14th, 2011. I don't know how long it will go. Guess we'll see. Thanks for coming by.

Update!: Yeah, I finally found the clip I was looking for, so here it is:


Go back to the beginning.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

Everyone out there has, I'm sure, already wished the mothers in their lives a Happy Mother's Day, so I'm sure this reminder is unnecessary. However, I implore you, do not treat your mother this way, no matter how much you like Queen:


Friday, May 10, 2013

I will never understand the internet

I have had very strong (for this blog, anyway) traffic all month -- and, in fact, extending back into the last week of last month -- despite the fact that my posts have been, shall we say, sparse. Nonetheless, people continue to come by. Thank you. If you feel inclined, please visit an on-line friend of mine who posts magnificent Arctic-related shit, including these magnificent pictures:




I feel no need to comment. Just visit this guy and see what he's got. It's good stuff.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Lousy gig staffed by temps with no pride?

The Posse List, a list serve that posts job opportunities for temp lawyers, put this up about a week ago, and I still am aghast. Please note that the market isn't that bad right now, and then see if you can tell me what's wrong with this (boldface and shit are in the original, although I turned off the blue type in some places -- they really post these things like that):
[An agency I've never worked for] is seeking licensed attorney candidates (any jurisdiction) for a long-term position to work on high profile federal investigations of national significance with the Federal government. Qualified candidates will have a background that includes some kind of financial work, as well as the ability to work independently, and possess strong written and oral communication skills. Required Experience A law degree from an accredited university. Bar Membership – must be active and in good standing in any US jurisdiction Relativity experience is a plus Prior financial experience required Some document review experience a plus US citizenship Must be commutable or have a place to stay in DC for the duration of the project (That agency I've never worked for] does not pay for relocation costs) All candidates will be required to pass standard NACI government background check. Project Details

Start Date: upon passing a NACI credit and background check
Location: Washington , DC

Pay Rate: $30/hr (no OT) 
Schedule: M-F, 40 hrs per week 
Duration: 3 to 6+ months, with the potential to run much longer 
PLEASE RESPOND TO THE QUESTIONS BELOW IN YOUR RESPONSE: 
1. Full legal name 
2. Best Number to reach you? 
3. What jurisdiction are you licensed in? 
4. Is your license active and in good standing? 
5. Do you anticipate having any problems passing a standard government background and credit check? 
6. Do you have any bankruptcies, defaults or financial accounts that are in collections? 
7. Are you a US Citizen? 
8. Do you have document review experience? If so, how much and please make sure it is visible and clear on your resume 
9. Please write a sentence or two describing your prior financial experience.
OK, pencils down. The conditions to even be eligible to apply for this gig are fucking ridiculous. Background check, credit check and specialized experience? All this for only 30 bones an hour (slightly below current market rate) and 40 hours a week, explicitly no overtime and apparently making you work five days to get your 40 instead of a flexible schedule? Do you also have to occasionally submit to an anal probe? Not sure how this could be much worse. Normally, when a project calls for specialized experience, the agency expects to have to pay more to get it. Instead, they promise to perform extreme invasions of your privacy. Please note that those conditions apparently are being imposed by the client, the federal government. Just more proof that the government doesn't even understand the industries it purports to rule over. Sadly, they probably staffed this goat-roping with no problems. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

I think maybe people are asking the wrong question

Over at The TaxProf Blog, there is a review of a book that sets out the question of whether Big Law is dying. The author of the book,  Steven J. Harper (Former Partner, Kirkland & Ellis; Adjunct Professor, Northwestern), The Lawyer Bubble (Basic Books, 2013), thinks there is a crisis in legal education and in the employment model for lawyers in Big Law. The Tax Prof excerpts a review of that book by Richard A. Epstein (NYU) who purports to refute Harper's hypothesis. The TaxProf excerpts a part of Epstein's review that proves to me that Epstein is either a liar or a moron. He writes:

Ironically, Mr. Harper misses the most significant recent dislocation in the practice of law, which is at the consumer end of the market: the rise of low-cost online law firms like LegalZoom and RocketLawyer that aid clients in drafting standard partnerships, wills, leases and the like. These firms pose a mortal threat to sole practitioners, not to Big Law.
. . .
Mr. Harper's blunderbuss condemnation of most large firms and most law schools is off-target. By and large, they have proved resilient in a competitive legal climate.
Epstein apparently believes that Big Law has adapted well to the changing legal-services environment. That is largely true -- but don't suggest that to former partners of the now-extinct firms of Howrey or Dewey & Laboeuf. What Epstein ignores is that those Big Law firms that remain with us -- granted, it is the vast majority of them -- have done so by viciously cutting the number of associates they hire and other cost-cutting measures. Yes, the firms survived, but they don't employ the numbers they used to, which was Harper's point. As for the hammer-blows to the sole practitioners -- all true, but irrelevant to the Big Law argument. All Epstein did is prove that pretty much all legal employment candidates -- whether they are big-school, Big Law candidates or people hoping to go back to their home town and do wills and divorces -- are getting pummeled. Not seeing this as a good thing.

Ultimately, Big Law will survive. That isn't the question, really. Just don't look to them to hire big numbers of new graduates the way they used to. The real question remains, is it a good idea to go to law school these days, not whether Big Law is going to survive. Yes, Big Law is going to survive. But given the scaling-back at Big Law and the pressures on Small Law, I think the answer to the real question is, No.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Like we need another excuse to drink

I am told that outside the state of Puebla, the site of the battle the holiday celebrates, Cinco de Mayo isn't that big of a deal in Mexico. Mexico lost that war, after all, and probably half the Americans who use this as an excuse to drink think it's Mexican independence day. It would be a little like the South having a big holiday to celebrate the victory at the battle of First Manasas during the War Between the States.

Personally, when it comes to marking Mexican historic anniversaries I prefer to celebrate heroic defeats against overwhelming odds, like April 30, the anniversary of the battle of Camaron, fought near Puebla nearly a year after the big battle. Camaron gave rise to some of the most enduring traditions of the French Foreign Legion. The siege of the Alamo also comes to mind.

At least I know what I'm celebrating, though, unlike certain presidents we might know:


Anyway, whatever you call it, enjoy the occasion. It's probably the only way to get rid of your Derby Day hangover, anyway.

Episode the fourth, in which I give in to social pressure

I didn't want to mention this because it's stupid, but Saturday (yesterday, today, depending on where you are) is/was Star Wars Day. Why? May the Fourth be with you. Just fucking shoot me.

Weekends in Australia, coming up

So this is cool. The last test of the X-51 Waverider, a hypersonic aircraft designed to fly at speeds greater than Mach 5 -- that's more than five times the speed of sound for your lawyers in the audience -- was a rampaging success. Just a matter of time now until we have aircraft with these scramjet engines that will zip us all over the globe in hours.

video
Hat tip to Instapundit

Friday, May 3, 2013

Get ready for Derby Day, kids

Some of you, no doubt, will be gathering around your television sets tomorrow to watch the premier event in the Sport of Kings, the Kentucky Derby. To celebrate in the proper style, you absolutely must drink mint juleps while watching the fine steeds. That means you will need a proper recipe to make authentic mint juleps. Fortunately for you, I can help.

First, you will need a bottle of quality bourbon. I leave the choice of brand to you, but bourbon is one of those things where you really do have to pay more for quality, and bad bourbon will not do (except maybe as the name of your next garage band),

Next, you will need a mint plant. It is essential to use fresh mint. Better quality grocery stores stock them, as do home improvement stores like Home Depot and Lowes. Go get one. I'll wait.

Good. Put two cups of water in a saucepan over low to medium heat. Now pick a half-dozen nicely formed leaves, crush them and add them to the water. Add two tablespoons of sugar. Stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture begins to fill the room with a minty smell. You're almost there.

Now, pour some bourbon in a highball glass. Put some crushed ice in a glass bowl. Pour that sugar water crap down the sink, call your bookie to get some bets down on the ponies and enjoy your bourbon.

Happy belated birthday

I missed Willie Nelson's 80th birthday earlier this week, which is damn near unforgivable. As penance, here's Willie with Toby Keith:




Happy Birthday, Willie!

Al Harris has left the building

No, he's not dead. Al Harris has retired as a Packer. He played for 14 years, and only spent half that in Green Bay, but he spent his prime years there and made his name in Titletown as one of the best bump-and-run, press cornerbacks to play in the modern era. Back in the day, defensive backs could bump receivers all the way down the field. Al played when you could only touch them in the first five yards, and he was one of the best in the business at completely fucking up a receiver's route in those first five yards. Glad he sees himself as a Packer, because I sure as hell do, and I own the damn team. And I'll never forget this:


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Ah, the polished professionalism of Temp Town

I posted a while back about how the agency folks here keep a moat between themselves and the temps. OK, OK, it's just locked doors that our key cards won't open, but if they could have found a way to put a moat in, they would have. Naturally, then, most of their knowledge of what transpires out in the temp-filled areas is second-hand, coming from project managers, temps squealing on other temps -- don't forget, Temp Town is populated by middle-schoolers with law degrees, and that may be attributing too much maturity to some, so we get a lot of "Billy hurt my feelings!" around here  -- and from the occasional pass-through that the agency types have to make through the temp areas to get from the moat-protected offices to the exit from the office suite.

This isolation from reality -- or at least from the reality the temps live in -- is the only explanation I have for the goings-on at the reception desk. Simply put, in the absence of adult supervision, the two women who staff the front desk do some things that you would be really shocked to see in most professional offices. They fairly often blare music from either a radio or some kind of MP3 player so loud that it is audible down the hall where we are working. The music is, universally, fucking awful. This does not prevent them from singing along. Rest assured that these people are in no danger of being offered off- or on Broadway roles. The final insult is that the speakers are so cheap the music is horrifically tinny and usually unrecognizable, although that could be due to their shitty taste in music. Safe behind their moat, though, the agency suits are apparently blissfully unaware.


Update: They could get better speakers and play an oldie but goodie:



Nobody said this was easy

Metro had yet another of its regular failings this morning, delaying my arrival by about 45 minutes. I remarked to a temp I know that this would make it difficult, but not impossible, for me to hit 60 hours this week. (That's the upper limit on this project, and remember rules 2 and 3). His reply was pure temp wisdom:

"60 isn't for sissies."

Words to live by. Yeah, I plan to hit 60 again this week. Remember Rule No. 2. And Rule No. 3.