03 November 2013

Blawg Review #325.12

I was a fairly new blogger when Blawg Review #1 linked to one of my posts. Soon afterward, I began suggesting posts for and promoting each week's edition. Ed. asked me to host and I politely declined, noting that I had a fraction of the blogging experience most of his hosts had, and none of their intellect. Ed.'s next message informed me -- even more politely -- that I was scheduled for the following February, allowing me a few months to develop both experience and intellect. It was the shape of things to come, as in the three years or so that we worked together on Blawg Review, he never took any of my no's as anything but an invitation to convince me.

As February neared, Ed. thoughtfully bumped me up to December, figuring that my experience and intellect were about as good as they were going to get by that point. I quickly demonstrated otherwise.

While the pixels on the previous week's Blawg Review were still warm, Ed. began sending me posts to read, prompting me for the theme of my Blawg Review, and encouraging me to get started composing it. I told him that I was having trouble deciding between two equally-awesome themes -- should my Blawg Review be about obscure holidays or holiday parades? Perhaps because he was unable to find a less hopeless host on such short notice, Ed. suggested that I instead consider a Dante-themed Blawg Review, in keeping with my blog's title.

I'm sure that wasn't the first time Ed. rescued a host from the perils of his own folly; I know that it wasn't the last.

As Blawg Review approached its first anniversary, it had already outlived most of the other blog carnivals which began around the same time. Most had petered-out after a few editions when pools of hosts and contributors dried-up, or descended into rank self-promotion as hosts elevated themselves above their blogging communities. Ed. didn't want either to happen to Blawg Review, so in addition to doggedly seeking new hosts and continuing to shepherd the posts each week, he asked a few people to join him as "Regular Contributors"; I agreed to become one of them. Thus we continued for nearly another year, until the survivors amongst us became "Sherpas".

Feeling a bit nostalgic at the moment, I'd like to return to those early days when I was a "Regular Contributor". We were tasked with finding and summarizing at least five links relevant to the host's theme, or which were otherwise worthy of Blawg Review treatment. Here goes, then, one last time:
  • "Cathy Gellis Wins Pro Bono Victory Against U.K. Defamation Subpoena", "Part of Texas Online Solicitation of a Minor Statute Unconstitutional", "Sexting a Minor Isn’t a Crime in Texas", and "To Tell The Truth, 1st Amendment Edition":

    Several posts this week celebrated the achievements of practitioner-bloggers -- those who don't just talk, they do. Ken White commended Cathy Gellis, who, on a pro bono basis, successfully quashed a subpoena by which a libel tourist, Gobat, sought to unmask an anonymous critic. White wrote:
    Mr. Gobat's lawyers' response was a model of blustering entitled outrage, demanding sanctions against Cathy and excoriating her. How dare she!

    She dared, and she won. After Cathy's reply, and a lengthy hearing at which the judge (to quote Cathy) "took the better part of the hour expounding on all the due process problems requiring him to quash the subpoena," the judge quashed the subpoena. Far from granting Mr. Gobat's attorneys' demand for sanctions, the judge granted fees and costs to Cathy.
    As a fellow Bay Area resident, I'm very glad that she's helping to keep our fair shores hostile to this particular form of tourism.

    Mark Bennett did what many other Texas defense attorneys didn't think to do for their clients charged under the "dirty talking" portion of their state "online solicitation of a minor" statute -- he challenged the constitutionality of the provision and won:
    The uncon­sti­tu­tion­al­ity of the statute is a no-brainer. In fact, in light of Edwards the Court of Crim­i­nal Appeals (and I, in my briefs) arguably gave the State too much lee­way by apply­ing strict scrutiny rather than a purely cat­e­gor­i­cal test.
    Amongst many other bloggers and journalists, Venkat Balasubramani noted Bennett's advocacy and lauded the court's decision:
    This is a very careful and thorough opinion that should go on the reading list of any state legislator or staffer working on this type of legislation. It’s a good illustration of the proposition that if other statutes already cover the problem you are seeking to target, you may not have an easy time justifying a new overlapping statute against a First Amendment attack. Also, post-Alvarez, if content does not fit within a category of traditionally unprotected speech, legislators face challenges regulating it. Particularly when there are criminal penalties involved, courts will rightly scrutinize the statute carefully. Statutes directed at many online torts of recent vintage are probably susceptible to this type of a challenge, in particular those directed at online harassment and revenge porn.

    The ruling strikes a chord in that it permits sexualized communications between an adult and minor that are not obscene or solicitative, even if there is some intent to arouse on the part of the adult-sender. Perhaps the transmission of this type of information alone is harmful, but as this case shows, that justification will not necessarily fly with a court that is vigilant on First Amendment issues.
    The First Amendment has been at the heart of an ongoing debate between a law professor, Mary Anne Franks, and her many critics in the legal blogosphere. Franks has been a leading advocate for "revenge porn" laws, which would criminalize a particular form of "bad" speech she finds especially distasteful. In her view, prohibiting such "bad" speech isn't repugnant to the First Amendment; a considerable number of well-known legal bloggers vehemently disagree. As Scott Greenfield notes, many of those critics -- including the aforementioned Mark Bennett and Ken White, Eugene Volokh, Marc Randazza, and Greenfield himself -- "are all lawyers who have actually practiced law, fought First Amendment cases, and won", unlike, it seems, Ms. Franks. Greenfield writes:
    When you read and consider arguments, and find yourself being swayed by the free use of words like “scholarship” to convince you that someone who puts professor before their name must know what they’re talking about, consider whether someone’s intellectual abilities and reasoning have been tested by the crucible of the legal system or whether they just write stuff to fill the empty pages of hundreds of unread law reviews.

    To tell the truth, would you rather rely on the opinion of a lawyer who has actually fought and won First Amendment cases, or someone who has accomplished nothing and relies solely on the attributed credibility that comes with claiming to be a scholar while telling the lawyers who actually win cases that they are idiots compared to her brilliance?
  • "Relevant = Material + Probative", "Physical Reality and the Federal Rules of Evidence", and "Why The Truth Doesn’t Matter At Trial": Prompted by a post by Jamison Koehler on materiality and probative value under the Federal Rules of Evidence, Mark Draughn and Jeff Gamso discussed the seeming incongruities between "facts" as these are in the real world and the "facts" argued in courtrooms. Draughn proposed a more scientific approach:
    The idea is that the jurors should examine the factual assertion in question — “John shot James” for example — and then construct its logical negation (called the “null hypothesis” in science) that John did not shoot James, and assume for the moment that it is true. Now, for all the evidence presented at trial, they should consider how likely it is that that evidence could exist if their null hypothesis “John did not shoot James” was true.


    So perhaps it would be more scientifically accurate to say that evidence is probative only if its the probability of its existence would be higher or lower depending on the truth or falsehood of the fact in question.

    I can’t help noticing that this bears a similarity to the theoretical definition of the information content of a message....

    So maybe we could say that evidence is probative only to the extent that it is surprising or unexpected in the context of the facts in dispute. For example, if John lives next door to James, the eyewitness who saw him driving by James’s house is a lot less unexpected, and so has less probative value. And the music selection on John’s iPod is no more or less surprising regardless of whether John killed James, so it’s probably irrelevant.
    Gamso suggested that at the heart of the perceived disconnect may be the rules' terminology choices:
    The trouble with “fact” is that it’s conclusory. That is, every fact is true. If a fact were false, it would not be a fact. Therefore, the existence (whether present, past, or future) of every fact is true....

    What Rule 401 is actually addressing is whether one or another piece of evidence makes more or less likely that something which must be proved to the satisfaction of the “finder of fact” (that is, the believer in chief) will be proved to the believer’s satisfaction.

    The rule as written would make far more sense if instead of “fact” it referenced the particular thing at issue.
    Having prompted the kerfuffle, Koehler returned to add his thoughts:
    Whenever criminal charges are brought, there is always an objective and presumably knowable truth as to what really happened. If you had superpowers, you could turn back time and hover above the events as they took place and learn for yourself what really happened....

    But that objective truth is rarely, if ever, introduced at trial. The finder-of-fact – be it a judge or a jury — learns what happened not through direct observation but through the imperfect testimony of equally imperfect human beings. Memories fade. Perceptions skew. Minds rationalize. People have agendas. And everything the fact-finder learns is shaped through manipulation by the lawyers, with each side attempting to push the finder-of-fact toward its version of the truth. There are degrees of truth, and variations of the truth.

    The objective truth tends to yield to the more believable truth, and, because to the winner go the spoils, that believable truth then becomes the accepted truth when the verdict is delivered....
  • "New conflict on RU-486 abortions" and "A split ruling on birth-control mandate": Though this week's Blawg Review is a celebration of Ed.'s contributions to the legal blogosphere, I'd like to digress for a moment to celebrate Lyle Denniston's contributions as well. I've done so on a few occasions and he very considerately -- and unnecessarily -- thanked me for my words of praise. The fact is that he's one of the few reporters, online or off, who both understands the workings of our highest court and can explain these to lawyers and laymen alike with remarkable clarity. To say that the man's a treasure to the online legal community understates both his value and his audience; he's simply indispensable, and not only to legal folks, but to anyone who wants to know what the Supreme Court's words really mean. In a pair of posts this week, Denniston discussed cases addressing different aspects of this nation's unending debate over abortion. One post concerned a ruling on a Texas law limiting the use of the RU-486 drug:
    That ruling conflicts directly with a decision by the Oklahoma Supreme Court on Tuesday that it would be unconstitutional to bar doctors from using the simpler and less expensive method of medical abortions throughout the first nine weeks of pregnancy. The Oklahoma court ruling was filed with the Supreme Court Tuesday night, responding to questions that the Justices had raised last June in agreeing to hear a case on the constitutionality of a 2011 abortion-regulating law in Oklahoma.
    In a second post, Denniston reported a DC Circuit decision which may add another case to the Court's increasingly-crowded docket of health care mandate challenges:
    Taking a split approach, the D.C. Circuit ruled on Friday that profit-making corporations cannot make a religious challenge to the new health care law’s mandate that workers get birth-control and related medical coverage; however, if the firm is owned by only a few individuals, they can challenge it to defend their own religious objections, and they may well win. The two major parts of the ruling split the three judges in differing ways.

    The Supreme Court already has three cases awaiting its attention on the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage mandate — with differing outcomes in lower courts — and the somewhat unusual approach taken by the D.C. Circuit on Friday may simply add an additional impetus for the Court to take on the issue in the current Term.
  • "If They Violate Your Privacy in the Woods, Do You Make a Sound?": Drama is often represented by Greek masks of tragedy and comedy. While the proceedings of a Congressional hearing are often dramatic, it's sometimes hard to tell whether a particular one is more tragic or comedic. Kevin Underhill tends to focus his blogging on the comedic side of the law, but a recent exchange during hearings on the NSA's appallingly-extensive online domestic spying is tragic in many ways. Representative Mike Rodgers, Chair of the House Intelligence Committee and a leading NSA apologist, argued that "Somebody whose privacy was violated. You can't have your privacy violated if you don't know your privacy is violated." Professor Stephen Vladeck, on the panel being questioned by the Committee, couldn't just play along with his co-panelists and let the idiot have his say; he replied, "I disagree with that. If a tree falls in the forest, it makes a noise whether you're there to [hear] it or not." Underhill had this to say about Rodgers:
    So the fact that no one has complained about their privacy being violated means that no one's privacy is being violated, and if they aren't complaining because they don't know it's being violated then they have nothing to complain about, do they?

    Again, this guy is in charge of an "intelligence committee."
    Underhill felt it necessary to embed a C-SPAN excerpt of the exchange "to prove it actually happened", which suggests that this particular Congressional drama was neither comedy nor tragedy, but farce.
Ed. always played-down his own role in Blawg Review, preferring to highlight the many bloggers who linked to each week's edition, those who suggested posts to guest hosts, and, of course, those hosts themselves. He was justifiably proud of the 324 Blawg Reviews published under his watch, and probably would've loathed Blawg Review #325 because it focuses on him. Despite the recognition of the legal community for his achievement in creating Blawg Review, he sometimes suggested that "someone" would've done this if he hadn't. I don't think anyone would have, frankly. Blawg Review was what it was for as long as it was because of Ed.'s character.

Many years ago, Ed. wrote to me:
It's been fun working with all the interesting lawyers, law students and professors who blog. I feel like a concert conductor who's been given the best orchestra in the world to conduct. I just stand up there and wave my arms around, and it comes out pretty good -- considering I can't even read music.
There is no Blawg Review without its conductor and though lawyers, law students, and professors will continue to blog and discuss the law online, Ed.'s passing marks the day our music died.

Now we've had our say and, in keeping with tradition, I'll conclude Blawg Review #325 with a link back to the Blawg Review site, where this all began.

Thank you, Ed., for everything.

30 October 2013

Farewell to Virgil's Virgil

This morning, a cursory glance at the sites and Twitter feeds of what remains of the once-vibrant legal blogosphere conveys not only some very sad news -- the passing of the anonymous Editor of Blawg Review -- but also some indication of the tremendous impact he had on the legal blogging community.

It's fair to say that my own blogging was inextricably linked with Blawg Review, that "Carnival of Legal Blogging" which Ed. established and nurtured for many years. I was privileged to not only write several Blawg Reviews, but to work with Ed. for much of Blawg Review's run to source material for guest editors and to manage the upkeep of the carnival's main site. As a guest editor, I was deeply honored to have been given four "Blawg Review of Year" awards. Ed. was unfailingly generous with praise not only for my posts, but for many others'. To the extent my reviews were somehow more notable than the dozens of others who contributed throughout each year, that wasn't because Ed. deemed them to be so in his end-of-year awards, but because he made them so through his behind-the-scenes contributions, guidance, and encouragement.

He was as charming (and challenging) in person as he was online. I had the pleasure of meeting him on several occasions over the years and will treasure those memories. My condolences go out to his family and my thanks, as always, go to Ed. I acted as "Virgil" in guiding readers through my Dante-themed Blawg Reviews; in the shadows, anonymously and without fanfare, Ed. was Virgil's Virgil. Farewell, Ed.

04 March 2012

George Rises (and Falls)

As my good friend Charon QC noted this morning, he and I have written and recorded another in our occasional series of "West London Man" satires. You can hear the recording of the latest episode, "The Adventure of the Final Problem", at his site.

As you might suspect from the title, this edition of George's escapades is an homage to the famous Sherlock Holmes story of the same name. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Holmes stories have been popular since their publication and the character is even more popular at the moment, what with the outstanding BBC Sherlock series and not-quite-so-outstanding Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law movies. Of course, West London Man (26) will probably end this Holmes Golden Age. Regardless, it was a distinct pleasure to write and record once again with my friends Charon and George; I hope that you enjoy "The Adventure of the Final Problem" as much.

Charon posted a link to this episode's script along with the recording. I've included a link to that script below, together with links to the other three episodes he and I co-wrote:

08 November 2011

Review: Law & Peace: The BabyBarista Files


A couple of years ago, I reviewed and recommended Tim Kevan's first BabyBarista novel, BabyBarista and the Art of War:
This is a book worth reading; it's entertaining and insightful, building upon the best aspects of the much-praised BabyBarista blog and providing greater depth and color (or should that be colour?) to its characters and stories. It's not a flawless novel, but it's well worth your time.
In the second volume of "The BabyBarista Files", entitled Law & Peace: The BabyBarista Files, Kevan demonstrates his growth as a novelist. Law & Peace is as engaging as Art of War and its crisper plotting will likely make it more enjoyable for those who are less familiar with the idiosyncracies of the English bar's pupillage and tenancy system.

While readers of his earlier work will already be acquainted with the motley crew of supporting characters around protagonist BabyBarista, those who haven't read BabyBarista and the Art of War (or as it was retitled later, Law and DisOrder) and don't follow BabyB's adventures online at either The Guardian or Kevan's own BabyBarista site shouldn't be deterred. His convention of referring to all but a few characters by nicknames allows us to follow the story without referring back to the character descriptions preceding the first chapter.

As before, BabyB is an earnest figure who often does the wrong things for the right reasons. Struggling with the debts accumulated in putting him through his schooling and pupillage, this time out he becomes entangled in the unscrupulous schemes of a greedy solicitor, SlipperySlope, and of OldSmoothie, a barrister in his own chambers. As he finds himself out of his depth in their self-dealing and cynical plotting and targeted by TopFirst, a rival whom he bested in Art of War, BabyB relies on his wits to see him through. Ultimately, however, it's his at times discounted, if never entirely discarded moral character which both enables his success and makes it worth cheering.

As was the case with the first novel, Law & Peace is, in essence, a morality play. Various figures embody ideals whereas others are evils who tempt or persecute BabyB in this allegorical story. That and the novel's point-of-view narration allow BabyB to always remain the focus of this story, but it necessarily shortchanges characterization for many of the supporting players. We learn more about some of the characters from the earlier novel and learn enough about those introduced in this one, but none of them are especially deep. They represent types, characteristics, and challenges, but they have little existence beyond acting upon BabyB for good or ill. The continuing adventures of BabyBarista are a Pilgrim's Progress for the legal set; unlike that famous work, thankfully, BabyB's progress is never a humorless slog.

In reviewing Art of War, I wrote that its ending was "a bit too abrupt and convenient". Law & Peace builds to a sudden, sweeping resolution of its various plotlines, but the result is much more in keeping with the narrative to that point and thus is more satisfying. As before, Kevan was kind enough to send me a copy of his novel for review and, as before, I'm glad to send another copy on my own dime to a friend, an expat Geordie lawyer, rather than part with my own.

I'm looking forward to BabyB's next novel-length adventure, though I think Kevan will be hard-pressed to come up with a fiction to rival some real shenanigans involving the English bar. Anyone who reads BabyB's stories of his own and others' misfeasance and malfeasance and thinks that these are simply unbelievable need look no further than today's newspapers. If, as is alleged, a prominent lawyer for the now-defunct News of the World had a hand in the hiring of investigators to gather dirt on the private lives of lawyers representing phone hacking victims, can BabyB's next adventure possibly be outrageous enough to rival reality?

Law & Peace
By Tim Kevan
Bloomsbury Publishing (2011)
Paperback (300 pages)
£6.95 (Amazon.co.uk)

03 November 2011


For several weeks now, I've anticipated writing this post. One would think that amidst that anticipation would be a touch more preparation. There wasn't, so I'll apologize in advance for the stream-of-consciousness which follows.

Three months ago today, I posted a "Gone Fishing" message in place of what should have been the sixty-fourth edition of my supposed-to-be-weekly "A Round Tuit" series of legal blogging reviews. At the time, it was a combination of a spike in workload, a flurry of family obligations, and a blogging malaise which prompted me to take what I figured would be a one- or two-weeks-long break from the series. As workload has eased (most weeks) and those family obligations have also become more manageable (most weeks), only that malaise has persisted. It's overdue for me to acknowledge that Round Tuit drowned on his fishing trip.

In years past, the legal blogosphere has been characterized by quality commentary and insight (Infamy or Praise notwithstanding, of course). Recently, however, I and others have noted that it's become more difficult to find the wheat amongst the chaff. I wrote at some length about it in A Round Tuit (43), around a year ago:
Whereas earlier entrants were driven by their desire to communicate their own ideas and experiences and engage with others, most newer entrants are driven by other concerns. The marketeers weren't here in the beginning; the legal blogs built to maximize SEO values and composed of scraped content or content written by non-lawyers weren't here in the beginning; the BigLaw blogs, which ably summarize current legal issues but usually don't offer much perspective and don't attempt to engage with other bloggers, weren't here in the beginning. They're all here now, and their sheer numbers have diluted the legal blogosphere to the point that, on the whole, it's no longer characterized by the substance and engagement it once was. It's a Happysphere because a significant portion of it is comprised of blogs without substance, disengaged bloggers, and happy marketeers. Criticism is absent because it gains these players nothing.

I'll admit to more than a little frustration of late with the state of things. Is this a thing worth continuing? Into my sixth year of doing this, one would think that I have some answers, but I don't. I honestly don't. Part of my frustration stems from my somewhat vested interest in a healthy legal blogosphere. I've spent a number of years here trying to do what I could to see that new readers could find bloggers who had something meaningful to say, a clear voice with which to say it, and enough backbone to criticize and be criticized in return. There are still many, many bloggers who fit that bill, but it seems that neither they nor I can hope to hold back the tide. With a vested interest comes a loss of perspective, I fear.
This morning, Scott Greenfield wrote about some of those same challenges and, as always, did it better than me. He identifies a "First Wave" of legal blogging pioneers and places himself within the "Second Wave" — those who started blogging later but added considerably to what was established by their predecessors. He wonders about the "Third Wave" of legal bloggers — those aforementioned Happyspherers, by and large — and suggests that if they don't learn to speak to one another and to us, the legal blogosphere is finished:
It's begun to feel more like punditry than a conversation. While those who can't withstand scrutiny like it that way, real lawyers don't. It's all about the conversation, whether happy, angry, or just pleasantly disagreeable. Without it, this place is a bore. At least for me. And if it's boring, then it's not worth the effort.

Like Kevin [O'Keefe], I've tried to nudge others to take stands, do something meaningful, write as if they give a damn, engage with the larger blawgosphere, and tell the marketing gurus to shove their lies where the sun doesn't shine. But the question remains, will the third wave want to join the blawgosphere, or is this only about existing in their marketing isolation. If the latter, then the blawgosphere will not survive.
This struck a chord with me. As a Blawg Review Sherpa and in my Round Tuit series, what I enjoyed was highlighting the links amongst the participants in distributed conversations on interesting topics. In most cases, the connections were already there in some form and I simply reiterated them and added a few thoughts of my own. Sometimes, on my better days, I could see connections which the participants hadn't and was able to link together a range of views on a particular topic. So much of what's written now is — as Greenfield points-out — isolated by design and is difficult to connect to something larger. Several times in writing a Round Tuit, I've skipped-over what was undeniably a major event because most of the blogging amounted to the same summary of facts. No opinion. No analysis. No connections. No value added.

Week after week, as I winnowed the links I'd collected to identify the better posts, I began to find that the quality posts were generally from the same dozen or so bloggers. Of the more than 150 feeds I followed, only these few consistently and a few others reliably added anything of value. Unfortunately for the "Round Tuit" concept, recommending the same people nearly every time is not a review of the legal blogosphere's voice on major events; it's a blogroll of the dwindling number of people worth reading each week.

When I read back through this post sometime after I hit the "Publish" button, I'm sure that I'll be dismayed by how petty, peevish, and bitter this all sounds. I'll be dismayed because that's not at all an accurate reflection of how I feel. I'm glad to have found the best of the legal blogosphere over the past several years and to have discovered that these people are also amongst the best in my profession.

At the start of every Round Tuit post, I wrote:
When it comes to legal blogging, there seems to be no shortage of writing worth reading once one gets around to it.
That's still true, but that "writing worth reading" is less representative of the increasingly-frivolous legal blogosphere. Such a situation would seem to make a review like Round Tuit more valuable rather than less. After all, we need guides when the sights are harder to find amongst the sprawl and blight, not when they're apparent wherever you go. The fact that I can't motivate myself to continue speaks more to the character of the blawgosphere reviewer than to the blawgosphere itself. It's not you, in other words, it's me.

If you made it to A Round Tuit (63), I'm deeply appreciative and I'm sorry that there will be no A Round Tuit (64). There's certainly still writing worth reading out there. You don't need me to remind you to keep reading Greenfield, Bennett, Pribetic, Turkewitz, Charon, the guys at Popehat, and others who write with passion, offer opinions and insight, spare you the hard sell, and link to those who do similarly. For as long as that legal blogosphere continues to exist, I'll continue to follow it and perhaps to find a way to remain a part of it.

28 October 2011

TGIS: Thank God It's Schadenfreude! (343)

This week's joy in the misfortune of others comes courtesy of The Telegraph (from Monday, October 24; link good at time of posting):
A teenager, Toni Nicholson, has been evicted from her flat after holding all night vuvuzela parties.


After a string of complaints from neighbours, her landlords Town and County Housing decided to take legal action to force the mum-of-one out after she repeatedly ignored requests to stop the wild parties.

Among the complaints from neighbours included party guests blowing vuvuzelas 'en masse', fighting in the stairwell, damaging property and throwing things of the first-floor balcony.

Errol Harris, a boss at Town and Country Housing, said his team had tried to persuade Miss Nicholson to stop her parties and be a 'good neighbour', but that the problems lasted more than one year.

He confirmed that a number of complaints had mentioned 'ear-splitting noise' from vuvuzelas and that the repossession of the flat was the 'only option' left after Miss Nicholson continually breached an injunction to stop the parties.


Nicholson refused to comment about her eviction, but on her Facebook page she states: "I don't care if it's 4am - I don't consider it tomorrow until I wake up."
[Previous TGIS]

21 October 2011

TGIS: Thank God It's Schadenfreude! (342)

This week's joy in the misfortune of others comes courtesy of the Above the Law blog (from Tuesday, October 18; link good at time of posting):
[T]he whole sad experience of getting a legal education in America suddenly has a new mascot.

Today we have a flyer from a group of three 1Ls who want to hold “tryouts” for the other two members of their study group. We’ve seen this type of thing before — remember the study group at a top-ten law school that required a transcript? — but this latest application process takes things to another level.

This study group wants to charge people $20 for the opportunity to try out….

I really hope that after this flyer gets publicized, the 1Ls hastily put together some kind of “ha ha, we were only joking, aren’t we so clever” message or something. Because I can contemplate the tools that would put this together, but I’d never want to meet the psychos who would stand behind this after public scrutiny. Here’s the flyer:
They misspell the word “SUCCEED.”
[Previous TGIS]

14 October 2011

TGIS: Thank God It's Schadenfreude! (341)

This week's joy in the misfortune of others comes courtesy of The Telegraph (from Monday, October 10; link good at time of posting):
The BBC has been criticised by deaf groups over "ludicrous" computer-generated subtitles which have labelled the Labour leader "Ed Miller Band" and announced "a moment's violence" for the Queen Mother.


Deaf people have expressed their shock at being told a town was expecting a visit from the "Arch b**** of Canterbury" during one local BBC news broadcast.

In another embarrassing faux pas, a reporter visiting a farm spoke of how the pigs "love to nibble anything that comes into the shed, like our wellies."

Unfortunately the subtitles alongside the report changed the last word to to a rather childish homophone. After one viewer captured it on screen the error became an internet sensation.

During the Queen Mother's funeral, the solemn words "We'll now have a moment's silence for the Queen Mother" became "We'll now have a moment's violence for the Queen Mother" in one BBC broadcast.

The blunders have become so regular that a dedicated website has been set up by bemused viewers.
[Previous TGIS]

07 October 2011

TGIS: Thank God It's Schadenfreude! (340)

This week's joy in the misfortune of others comes courtesy of NBC Washington (from Thursday, October 6; link good at time of posting):
Westboro Baptist Church, the Kansas-based congregation infamous for picketing the burials of slain soldiers, said it will demonstrate at Apple founder Steve Jobs' funeral - and made the announcement using an iPhone.

Margie Phelps, daughter of pastor Fred Phelps, tweeted that the church will attend Jobs' so far unannounced funeral. Apparently unaware of the irony, Phelps used an iPhone to issue the Twitter message, reported Web pro News.
[Previous TGIS]

30 September 2011

TGIS: Thank God It's Schadenfreude! (339)

This week's joy in the misfortune of others comes courtesy of The Telegraph (from Thursday, September 29; link good at time of posting):
An MP's wife, Christine Hemming, accused of stealing a kitten from the home of her husband's long-term lover was captured on CCTV carrying the moggy away from the scene, a court heard.


Prosecutors say the grainy image proves the spouse of Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming leaving the home at 7.46pm with the animal in her left hand.


Mrs Hemming, denies burgling Ms Cox's home and told jurors on Wednesday that she had "no recollection" of taking the kitten from the home of her husband's long – term lover.

The defendant... acknowledged that she did go to Ms Cox's house on the night the kitten, named Beauty, was last seen but claimed she ''had no intention'' of taking the animal.

She had been at the house to drop off post for her husband, the member for Yardley.


"I don't recall taking the cat," she told the court. "I don't recall picking up the cat."

The case continues.
[Previous TGIS]

23 September 2011

TGIS: Thank God It's Schadenfreude! (338)

This week's joy in the misfortune of others comes courtesy of "Internet sales & marketing professional" Mark Davidson, who writes "deep thoughts" on Twitter (from Thursday, September 22; link good at time of posting):

[Previous TGIS]

16 September 2011

TGIS: Thank God It's Schadenfreude! (337)

This week's joy in the misfortune of others comes courtesy of The Telegraph (from Tuesday, September 13; link good at time of posting):
South African holidaymakers searching for their hotel with "splendid views" of the pier in Eastbourne, Sussex, had one problem. They were 12,000 miles away in Eastbourne, New Zealand.

Michael and Sunette Adendorff thought something was wrong with their hire car's GPS as they drove around in circles in the Wellington suburb, looking for the £90-a-night Majestic Hotel on Royal Parade.

When they pulled into the local chemist's shop to ask directions, they were shocked to discover that Eastbourne (population 4,600), New Zealand, does not even have a hotel.

Shop assistant Linda Burke said: "They just walked in and asked me where Royal Parade was, with the Majestic Hotel.

"I said: Oh no, there's no hotel here.

"I looked at it and said: That's in the UK, that's in England.

"He checked on the internet and said he did think it was funny they charged him in pounds."
[Previous TGIS]

09 September 2011

TGIS: Thank God It's Schadenfreude! (336)

This week's joy in the misfortune of others comes courtesy of Reuters (from Thursday, September 8; link good at time of posting):
[A] man clad in a full-figured Gumby costume has made a botched attempt to rob a 7-Eleven store in California, and authorities are looking for the suspect, police said on Wednesday.

It happened early on Monday when the man came into the San Diego store dressed as the green claymation figure, accompanied by an ordinarily dressed accomplice, San Diego Police spokesman Detective Gary Hassen said.

The costumed man announced he was robbing the store, but the clerk thought it was a joke, police said.

"Gumby said, 'You don't think it's a robbery? Let me show you my gun,'" Hassen said.

The suspect then tried to reach into his Gumby outfit but experienced a "costume malfunction" and could not fit his hand in a pocket, he said.

Instead of a gun, the costumed suspect pulled out 26 cents in change which he dropped on the floor, police said.

The accomplice, who had left the store and gotten into a minivan, honked at the man dressed as Gumby. He, too, walked out of the store without managing to take any money, police said. Both men left in the minivan.

After their getaway, the store clerk was still not certain an attempted robbery had occurred and did not call police. The store manager, who arrived later that morning, reported the incident.
[Previous TGIS]

02 September 2011

TGIS: Thank God It's Schadenfreude! (335)

This week's joy in the misfortune of others comes courtesy of The Telegraph (from Sunday, August 28; link good at time of posting):
It is the ultimate storm in a teacup. Earl Grey drinkers are rising in revolt against a producer that has dared to change the flavour of the popular hot drink. .... The unlikely rebellion was sparked when Twinings relaunched its Earl Grey. The company was so confident it would triumph by adding "a dash of lemon and a touch more bergamot" that its website proclaimed: "Even the Earl himself couldn't have imagined how wonderful his favourite tea could taste. Do you think it's our best ever?" They didn't - in fact they decided it wasn't their cup of tea, and they weren't happy. Among the almost universally damning, but elegant responses now appearing on the Twinings website are remarks including "horrid", "positively unpleasant" and "vile - like lemon cleaning product." "New," concluded one, "Yes. Improved? Certainly not." A Facebook page was launched, demanding: "Bring back the original Twinings Earl Grey tea." As anger and desperation mounted, one lady, 30 years an Earl Grey drinker, even went so far as to suggest: "I'd rather drink PG Tips." Tea drinkers compared the affair to the 1985 'New Coke' debacle, when Coca-Cola changed the flavour for its flagship product, provoking public nationwide outrage in the US and a swift decision to reintroduce the old formula.
[Previous TGIS]

26 August 2011

TGIS: Thank God It's Schadenfreude! (334)

This week's joy in the misfortune of others comes courtesy of The Telegraph (from Tuesday, August 23; link good at time of posting):
By his own admission, the Mastermind appearance was not Simon Curtis’s finest hour.

He notched up the BBC quiz show’s worst specialist subject score when he gave only one correct answer out of a possible 25 on the films of the actor Jim Carrey.

But yesterday Mr Curtis was dealt another blow to his pride when Ofcom, the broadcasting watchdog, ruled that his performance merited the description “astoundingly thick”. Mr Curtis had complained to Ofcom about a Channel 4 programme, Awfully Good TV, which featured clips of excruciating failures on quiz shows. David Walliams, the comedian, provided a commentary.

Introducing the clip of Mr Curtis’s appearance on Mastermind in 2006, Walliams said: “Sometimes in life, you have to know your limitations. If you’re not, let’s say, very bright, it’s probably not a good idea to go on a quiz show that tests your mental agility. And by 'not very bright’ I mean astoundingly thick.”


Last night Mr Curtis expressed his disappointment at the ruling.

He said: "Channel 4 and David Walliams have never met me and don't know anything about me, yet they called me astoundingly thick on national television. To me, that denotes general intelligence. How can you say that on the basis of one bad quiz show performance?

"I've never minded sending myself up but it never goes away - I'm still remembered as the bloke who only won one point on his specialist subject."
[Previous TGIS]

19 August 2011

TGIS: Thank God It's Schadenfreude! (333)

This week's joy in the misfortune of others comes courtesy of Reuters (from Wednesday, August 17; link good at time of posting):
Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann offered a "happy birthday" message to the late singer Elvis Presley on Monday, even though August 16 is the anniversary of his death in 1977.

"Happy Birthday, Elvis!" Bachmann shouted from the stage at a campaign stop....

After her stump speech, the congresswoman from Minnesota told a group of reporters that she was happy to be in South Carolina "on the anniversary of Elvis Presley's death."

"He's still alive. He's alive in our hearts," Bachmann said.

Later, a campaign organizer who did not want to be identified said with a wink: "You celebrate Elvis because he never died."
[Previous TGIS]

12 August 2011

TGIS: Thank God It's Schadenfreude! (332)

This week's joy in the misfortune of others comes courtesy of the Associated Press (from Tuesday, August 9; link good at time of posting):
A suburban Phoenix man is recovering after police say he accidentally shot himself in the penis while putting his girlfriend's gun in the waistband of his pants.

Chandler police say 27-year-old Joshua Seto and his fiancee, Cara Christopher, were walking toward a grocery store when the shooting happened last week. The gun fired, striking Seto's penis and continuing through his left thigh.


In the wake of the shooting, [Chandler Police Detective Seth] Tyler warned residents to use holsters, not waistbands, if they're going to carry a handgun.
[Previous TGIS]

05 August 2011

TGIS: Thank God It's Schadenfreude! (331)

This week's joy in the misfortune of others comes courtesy of NBCPhiladelphia.com (from Monday, August 1; link good at time of posting):
Mayor Bob Ryan of Sheboygan, a town of about 51,000 people 50 miles north of Milwaukee, apologized for a wild, boozy weekend in which he passed out in a local tavern. But he said his alcoholism doesn't affect his job performance and said he would not resign, despite a unanimous vote by a city council committee, according to Reuters.

"Did I pass out on a bar? Yes I did. I'll admit that. Was I in a scuffle? Yes. Did I start it? No, I did not," he told a local radio station, WHBL.


Although he's a self-confessed alcoholic, Ryan said he's still a good mayor.

"Alcohol has affected my personal life greatly," Ryan said. "I have never walked into a city meeting or council meeting under the influence of alcohol."

Ryan said he would continue to get treatment, but this isn't the first scandal he's been hit with. A YouTube video showed Ryan making sexual comments about a relative in a phone call and faces sexual harassment accusations from a female employee he fired, according to WTMJ.
[Previous TGIS]

03 August 2011

Gone Fishing

Gone Fishing

A Round Tuit will return next week. Probably.

Image: "Gone Fishing" (Norman Rockwell; 1930)

29 July 2011

TGIS: Thank God It's Schadenfreude! (330)

This week's joy in the misfortune of others comes courtesy of USA Today (from Thursday, July 28; link good at time of posting):
From jail, a Florida county inmate used a glitch in the phone system to pad his inmate trust account with refunds and finance his bail, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Larry Stone, 32, discovered the quirk when his first call from the Lake County jail for about $20 didn't go through but showed up twice in the trust account as a refund, the newspaper's Arelis R. Hernández writes.

Stone, who was arrested in April on property-crime charges, spent the next four hours making 77 local, long-distance and international calls until he had piled up more than $1,250 -- enough to bond out of jail, according to a sheriff's office investigation.


Stone faces additional charges of scheming with intent to defraud and grand theft, the Sentinel says.
[Previous TGIS]