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Blawg Review #162


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May It Please the Court offers up the alliteratively titled blog post More HTGS: Wolf Whistle Works With Woman While Walking In Wellington. Seems the male wolf whistle to show approval of an attractive female is a nearly universal human sound. Seems to me this is further proof we can all just get along.

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

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

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

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

23 responses to “Blawg Review #162”

  1. Marsha, Marsha, Marsha,
    Thanks for the much appreciated kudos. I would love to do one of these every week, but doing would entail me cutting off what little contact I have left with my family and shutting down my law practice. I would still be able to eat, but probably only one meal a day and I would have to get my sleep down to 2-3 hours a night. But it just might be worth it.

  2. Dan,
    When I saw that you were going to be doing this, I hoped you would not get too far from your roots by getting too “deep” on us. Your starting your post with quotes from Dylan and Kung Fu immediately told me that my fears had been unwarranted. Great job!

  3. Thank you for proving Dan Hull’s claims of hoops hegemony to be wholly hyperbolic. And the rest was pretty good too.

  4. Grasshopper, if you keep spending this much time on researching where Kwai Chang Caine said this and that, you will end up wandering around the blogosphere in search of your own Master Po, searching for more than your family and legal practice, both of which will have already tuned out long before. Say, maybe that’s your ticket! Signed, Zen Lawyer.

  5. China Law Blog: The World Peace Edition of Blawg Review
    Blawg Review #162 is hosted by Dan Harris at China Law Blog. Harris, as always, is ambitious. He takes us all over the globe. He instructs. He opines. But his real goal is World Peace, and sweetness and light generally….

  6. I am not a lawyer and therefore probably cannot appreciate some of the finer points. As I read through it (as a commoner) I felt a bit like how I feel when experiencing an encounter of the second or third kind with Monty Python. In some ways it’s great stuff but in others it’s far too Monty Pythonish?

  7. Law Offices Of Todd Platek,
    Young Caine [Platek]: You cannot see.
    Master Po [Harris]: You think I cannot see?
    Young Caine[Platek]: Of all things, to live in darkness must be worst.
    Master Po [Harris]: Fear is the only darkness.

  8. I’m afraid, young Grasshopper, you have the Universe’s order in error. Darkness is light, they are indistinguishable. There is no darkness or light, hence no fear. There only is. (Just as there is no spoon, Neo.)

  9. As one who has been reading CLB since the early days I hate to be both redundant and complimentary, but I must say, this was really well done. I cannot imagine how long it must have taken to pull this together. Maybe “What About Clients?” should take up the issue of what happens to clients of blogging lawyers!
    I can see the mental tug of war now: “Hmmm research case or research Troy McClure references?”
    Personally I loved him in “The Verdict Was Mail Fraud”

  10. Dan,
    You can certainly take my comment as a compliment at least in part. As I had said, I too like Monty Python (“in some ways it’s great stuff”)… though in other ways I often feel like it’s a bit “too in” …in a Monty Pythonish and almost “overly British-of-a- certain-kind” sort of a way. (so maybe it was a bit too “lawyery” in some ways, but not less good because of that) (had you been a philosopher or a psychologist instead (though I do understand that these other disciplines are inextricably related to law even though some philosophers and psychologists might disagree) then I would have expected a slightly (even more) philosophical angle. (than for instance, my own typically very outside angle)
    But given that you now say that you too like Monty Python (a near fatal admission in a bloggy context such as this) the essential existential question of lesser degree (of lesser degree than whether or not Fear is the Only Darkness which as far as I can see (mainly in the dark) (or staring out of Plato’s cave) you still have not answered) and one whose answer could also only be sought by your true and authentic private self embarked on a near perpetual and determined holy grail quest or epic odyssey in search of truth (and also justice) ….but that with lots of luck eventually indeed could be found or discovered by you anyway…. (simply by having a deep tripartite conversation between me, myself and I that also would intimately involve your full id, ego and superego) is in fact just this:
    Why do you think a casual passerby and relatively (or even absolutely) un-informed observer such as myself would casually be able to discern or intuit a kind of half-palpable Monty Python-ness in both the process as well as the substance of the utterances which you for mysterious reasons tacitly or deliberately chose to express (and here I am now giving away much more) if it weren’t for the probable and also plausible fact that you happened to tendentially like Monty Python ex-ante? (there must be some logical principle at work here even if maybe nothing to explain it could be found in law) (though somehow I am almost sure it ALSO could be found there)
    In other words what might be the implications of this internal ex ante consonance between your tacit preferences and their external manifestations …. and could it also be revealing (either probably or plausibly) (and legally or illegally) (and justly or unjustly) also of some possible higher order dissonance of some other much more dangerous and insidious kind? (more dangerous inasmuch as revealing a mind set completely incompatible with the normal processes and workings and even casual meanderings of law, let alone of progress towards justice?)….
    And although I DO realize that I haven’t really answered your weary query…(with anything other than Timothy Leary theory)…I DO hope I have at least pointed you in the right (i.e. the wrong) directions!
    But factoring out Monty Python-ness for just a moment….(if such a thing should even be attempted or could be “justified” ) (on legal or illegal principles) I can see that to produce what you have produced took quite a bit of painstaking research. (independently of how you then chose to cast it all) And so if in the process of producing it (or afterwards) you still had some humour left over in you…then you are probably indeed also making some very good progress towards not fearing either darkness or fear itself which as I said at the outset is in fact the “higher order” issue. ATBFN (i.e. all the best for now) from….
    outside angle….
    (who sometimes can be reasonably acute although most often is rather obtuse) (but who at least nearly never likes to add up to a simple 180 degrees usually preferring instead to just come full circle for the whole 360 ….which in some circles is called tautology but in other circles and circularities (in some of the lesser countries of the planet) is also understood as always trying to go “the full 9 yards”)
    But what is a touchdown other than an arbitrarily defined temporary state of relative positions that both Heisenberg and Schrodinger would define as intrinsically undefinable and that also could almost certainly never really be proven at all in any court of law worth its salt? (or its pepper) ..and with that I think I can now safely (or unsafely) finally say “bye for now”…

  11. Tom around the web
    + CNN mentioned Tom in their interview with Admiral Fallon: Admiral: Bush doesn’t want war with Iran. + HG’s WORLD has a post entitled Oil vs Grain What the Future Holds that links to a lot of Tom’s posts on…

  12. Vote China Law Blog. Pretty Please.
    The ABA Journal (the official publication of the American Bar Association, the leading group for American lawyers, not tavern owners) recently named China Law Blog as one of the top 100 law blogs in the World. Well actually the world of American lawye…

  13. Dan,
    If you don’t win the best blawg review of the year for this, you should sue. It would be a crime, I tell you, if you don’t win.

  14. China. Friend Or Foe? Opportunity Or Challenge? Or, Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?
    I got an email today from a client touting his success at sourcing wind energy components from China. My client’s description of this project nicely sets forth why trade with China should not be oversimplified. Speaking of oversimplification, today is …

  15. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
    I have only just found this blawg review, and it brought tears to my eyes (sometimes of laughter, sometimes even of sadness). This is a fantastic blawg review.
    It (almost) made me want to be a lawyer: clearly, they have a lot of time to read blogs and then write their own 😉

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