Dashed Dreams and American Ones

It has come to my attention that my blog posts have become more and more anti-American. I assure you all that this has not been my intention, and have decided to show my true feelings of American patriotism by dedicating this entry to extolling the virtues of the great collection of states that sits as Canada’s southern neighbor. I considered showing my approval of the states by opening the post with a “U-S-A” chant, but I don’t think I am at that point yet. Baby steps. Instead, I have decided to comment one what I feel is a great analogy about what makes America great displayed on a billboard that I saw during my thanksgiving voyage to Southern Virginia University. The ad was for a little dinosaur tourist attraction, and while on my great road-trip through Montana and North Dakota I saw more than my fare share of dino statues, this park was different because the billboard depicted a Cowboy fighting an Dinosaur. This, to me, is America.

Oh sure, Guachos and Vaceros predate American cowboys and China has the worlds largest and best dino remains, but the image of a cowboy fighting a Dino embodies the great American ideals of freedom and independence, standing up for ones principles and not being afraid to take on seemingly-impossible goals. Also, Dinosaurs and cowboys are just cool. I, as well as probably every young boy, have at one point or another dreamed of being both a paleontologist and/or a Cowboy. Unfortunately, both these dreams have—so far—gone unrealized. The former dream was officially dashed when, as an undergrad, I lived out my childhood fantasy by attending a paleontology class and realizing that paleontologists actually spend much more time researching marine invertebrates and planktonic foraminifera than the terrible lizards whose replicas dot the Montana countryside. The later dream will also never be attained, mostly because of my tendency of forgoing wranglers and flannel for corduroy and Lacoste cardigans. Oh well, there is always Law School. Sigh….

And, if anyone is wondering, the Dinosaur would destroy that cowboy faster than Hynes would win in a fistfight with Garret. No contest.


The Big Zero-Point-Five

I read that 90% of potential bloggers do not even last for 6 months. Well, mine has officially completed 1/2 a year, so take that! (remember, my blog started on myspace, but was moved here in Sept.)

And Grand It Is

As a number of astute observers have noticed, my blog postings have become a little less frequent as of late. You can place the blame for this squarely on one person’s shoulders, and that person is Theresa Miller, beloved wife and notorious time stealer. Not that there is anything wrong with her stealing my time; when I let her take my free time, she fills it with activities that are much more fun than those I used to do in my spare moments (goodbye internet scrabble). I will continue posting, though, but updates will probably be limited to once a week, most likely written in Civ. Pro.

As to this week’s post: on Wednesday I took a little trip up to DC to attend a luncheon with Judge Rader of the Federal Circuit, who was scheduled to give a talk on “Intellectual Property in the Third World.” But don’t be fooled by the title of the speech, as I was, because the words ‘Intellectual’ and ‘property’ were probably not spoken during the whole day, except, perhaps by curious listeners whispering to each other during the presentation, ‘is he ever going to talk about intellectual property?’ The Judge instead spent his time relating the kind of stories about his global travels that I am sure he has retold so many times that they might induce him to vomit a little in his hand, like that guy on “I heart Huckabees.” They were quite entertaining stories though, and Judge Radar put out a fine effort trying to excise a moral out of them. Here is a very short rundown of what I learned from the stories:

In North Korea, they don’t have freedom of religion. Moral: America is great.

In the Ukraine, they have a huge and inefficient government bureaucracy. Moral: America is great.

In Uzbekistan, there is a Taliban-backed rebel force. Moral: America is great.

In China, the government built a disco into their brand new Federal courthouse. Moral: America is ok, but China is awesome.

Oh, sure, Judge Rader tried to explain that his story was really about how China’s communist civil law system is much less fair than America’s common law tradition, but once I learned of the courthouse disco, the effect of any other moral was completely lost. An interesting observation I have made throughout my time here and exemplified at this lunch was that the United States toots it own horn more than Dizzy Gillespie, as if by constantly reminding itself that America is a land of freedom, the country can collectivly look past its flaws, such as corrupt corporate lobbying and the diminishing quality of education in its public schools. I mean, Canada enjoys the same freedoms as our southern neighbor, but you don't get the same sort of chest-thumping self-aggrandizement you see in the States. The real lesson of the day, however, was that when you are a federal judge, you don’t have to actually talk about what you are supposed to, and are able to take the entire day from a very busy first-year law student who thinks he is going to expand his education with an informed discussion of technological law in developing nations, which means I would make an excellent federal judge.

That was my DC trip. Unfortunately, except for the Washington Monument (America’s phallus--talk about self-aggrandzement) I was unable to check out any of the sights and had to head back to the slave-driving Law school just in time for some cake and pumpkin pie. Speaking of Pie, Happy Thanksgiving again to you all. One of the good things about being, like Che Guevara, a “Citizen of America” is that you get to celebrate both Canadian and American Thanksgivings. I, personally, am about to set the world record for most Thanksgiving dinners in one year—I’ve already had four.


Escapades in a Weird and Far-off Place

This is the story of a young and beautiful Canadian girl who miraculously packed at least 3 truckloads of clothing and shoes into 2 suitcases and set off from the land of hockey and government subsidized health care and traveled a ridiculous high number of km (which is a slightly less ridiculously high number of miles) to the sunny commonwealth of Virginia, where large plantation homes remind us of more prejudiced times and where opossums roam the streets in frightening numbers.

The story begins on a blistery winter morn at the airport in the Northern city of Calgary, which carries a slight smell of cattle in the air and is known mostly as the setting of the Jamaican Bobsled team’s inspiring Olympic debut. The day was November 8th, and the task ahead of out heroine, Theresa Miller, was Operation: American Eagle. However, despite the best laid plans of mice and men, the operation met complications from the beginning: instead of passing through immigration in Calgary, as originally planned, Theresa was not scheduled to reach customs until she arrived in Toronto, over half a continent away from the comfort of home. But Theresa, being the intrepid, and slightly crazy, adventurer that she is, decided that because she had already packed and drove to the airport, she might as well carry through with the original plan, even though there was a good chance that she would be stopped in Toronto and subsequently become stranded in that great metropolis, having wasted the hundreds of dollars that she could have been refunded if she had be turned back in Calgary and without hope. The decision was, to say the least, daring, and became a source of great anxiety to her husband, as well as to herself, when she finally realized the gravity of her choice somewhere over Manitoba.

When our heroine arrived at her layover and presented her passport to the authorities, an alarm was immediately raised and she was forcibly escorted into that little room reserved for hardened criminals and illegal immigrants, which may or may not have been room 101. In this detention area, with a bright lamp pointed directly into her face, and sitting opposite a desk to a gruff detective who wore suspenders and a fedora and who had the habit of repeatedly rolling up his sleeves and smoking a bent cigarette, Theresa was given the “good cop, bad cop routine,” until well after her connecting flight began boarding. Finally, after thoroughly searching her bags and examining her documents, the immigration officer decided to let her pass, but only if she could answer riddles three. Unfortunately for Theresa, this particular officer was a cousin to one of UVa’s law professors, and the riddles actually came from one of her previous exams*. The riddles were:

1. I'm thinking of a number between 1 and 10. Tell me what it is.

2. Imagine that a train engine is passing by a house, and sparks from the train ignite the roof of the barn. Now imagine that that train is actually from the future, the barn is made of dark chocolate instead of wood, and instead of throwing sparks, the train engine is spitting out knives. Is the defendant still negligent?

3. Give me some magic language and repeat it at least 3 times.

Luckily, Theresa was able to answer the first two questions correctly by saying, “11” and “yes, because the United States is a country where every rediculous lawsuit should be rewarded, the Defendent is always guilty, no matter how contrived the Planitiff's story is.” She avoided the last question by punching the immigration officer in his ample gut and running out of the room and across the entire airport with her shoes and belt in her hands and her pants almost falling down. At the very last moment, our hero was able to board her departure by jumping from the gate and grabbing onto the airplane door, just as the flight attendant was closing it. (She did, however, drop her package of fireworks, which exploded and caused mass claims against Air Canada for negligently encouraging her to jump onto a moving plane, which was subsequently dropped because the previous description of America's love of frivolous lawsuits does not also describes Canada's policies).

Theresa scrambled onto the plane and this story ends happily for all; Op. AE was a complete success and Theresa arrived safely in Virginia Wednesday night, much to the gratitude of her husband and just in time for the couple’s 6 month anniversary on Nov. 13th.

*provided by a fellow student, used with permission
**Story co-authored by Theresa Miller and may be slightly exaggerated (Seriously though, Theresa was interrogated thoroughly in Toronto and almost missed her connecting flight).


Lets Get Political

It’s that time again: when 16% of the country files into little booths and puts an ‘x’ beside the name of the guy who they think will have the best chance of not actually screwing up the country so much that the Untied States will climb even further up the rankings of the UN yearbook’s “Most likely to infuriate the rest of the world with their cultural imperialistic tendencies and overall self-important attitude” list. By that I mean its election time. Now, I have a difficult decision ahead of me as a Canadian with a modest understanding of American politics. Don’t get me wrong, there is news coverage about the United States in Canada, but I have the persistent habit of switching the channel from CBC news when they begin talking about American Politics in order to see what new Ashley Simpson video is playing on Much Music. This means I have little actual knowledge about the in and outs of those crazy republicans and wacky democrats. Facing such a daunting intellectual task, I have decided to commit to writing my thought process, as I decide who will get my little ‘x’ on Tuesday.

First off: the battle of the mascots. What was the Democratic Party thinking when they decided that a donkey would be a good mascot? An elephant I can see; it is strong and hardworking, and even majestic in its own mud-bathing sort of way, but a donkey? To me that just says dumb and stubborn. I’m sure that the majority of Democrats are nice and intelligent people, but it’s unfortunate that their party’s founders chose an animal that is so easily made to look ridiculous by political cartoonists. In their defense, the democrats are trying their best to make the most of what they are given by coming up with cleaver t-shirt slogans like “Kicking Asses.” But I was under the impression that that phrase referred to an ass that is kicked, and not an ass that is doing the kicking. Therefore the republicans win this round.

Next up is color. Ah, blue and red, the two colors that seem to be constantly battling one another for moral supremacy, even though everyone knows that the actual opposite of blue is yellow and red’s compliment is green. But this Red-Blue battle has been going on since time began: there’s Coke v. Pepsi, Lexis v. Westlaw, Harvard v. Yale, the Canadian Liberal Party v. the Canadian Conservatives, Red Communism v. well, the rest of the word, which when seen from space does look pretty blue, and of course the republicans v. democrats. But witch color is better? Well, I like Coke over Pepsi (which includes my preference of Sprite to 7 Up and Mexico’s Manzna Lift to Manzanita Sol), but I choose Westlaw (blue) over lexus (mostly because their candy is much better and the Lexus rep, with disdain in her voice, called me a ‘Maccer’ because my apple laptop had trouble printing from their site); I obviously prefer the Edmonton Oilers (blue) over the Calgary Flames (red); and I would take the Ninja Turtle’s Leonardo (blue) over Raphael and day. So, I guess this means that I prefer blue. Democrats: 1, Republicans: 1.

The Name. I don’t know what ever happened to the good ‘ol fashion titles of ‘Conservatives’ and ‘Liberals,’ but if I had to choose between calling my party democrats or republican, I would go for the big R, not because I’m against democracy or anything, but because I would want to associate myself as much as possible with Plato, in hopes of one day realizing my dreams of being a Philosopher King. Democrats: 1, Republicans: 2.

Next: Bumper Stickers/Billboards. I did get a little chuckle over the sticker that read, “Don’t Blame Me, I’m a Democrat,” and without endorsing or disapproving the message, I have to say those pro-life ads that show aborted fetuses or holocaust scenes just plain tasteless. Democrats: 2, Republicans: 2.

Killing. And by this I am, of course, referring to Kegs. Last time I checked, the Virginia Law Democrats have dominated in this area. Democrats: 3, Republicans: 2.

The Candidates. Interestingly enough, the only thing I know about Republican candidate, Allen, was that he may or may not have spit on his ex-wife, and the only info I have on the Democrat’s Webb is that he wrote sex scenes into his novels. Although I don’t approve of wife-spitting, I’ve got to give the Republican’s credit for some creative mud-slinging. Also, that Mike Stark really annoyed me (and I had to figure out how to get this contest to end in a tie).

So the final score is, surprisingly enough, 3 to 3, which really doesn’t help my election-day dilemma. I could try to decide based on policy, but both parties are almost equally right-wing and work much more for their corporate backers than for the American public, which means the Republicans are, despite the recent talk of extreme polarization, no less similar to the Democrats than Coke is to Pepsi, who, I wouldn’t be surprised to discover, pour billions of dollars into each party’s campaign in order to further Corporate America’s self-destructive goals. So, since underneath all of their flashy debates the parties are much more similar than they make themselves out to be, I guess I’ll have to decide the old fashion way—by flipping a coin. I’ve got my Canadian $2 coin (or ‘toonie’) out: ‘heads’ will be Republican and that polar bear on the other side will be the Democrats (so that they can be associated with a cool animal at least once). Here it goes…

This post is for you, W.F.F.


Write-Up of Our First Play-off Game

we lost