Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Stranger than Fiction

The readings for Criminal Law are always the most fun, and by that I mean most horrifying.

Well, after reading a number of cases about children being beaten to death, I got one a about an Arabian guru, who came to New York after spending some time in China.

Anyway the guru basically has a cult. They believe in mind over matter. The guru says he has the ability to stop his followers blood flow and the like allowing him to stab them multiple times with no injury. Apparently he has done this before and there was a witness.

Well this time it didn't go too well and and after the guru stabbed one of his followers in the heart and a few other places he died. Oh, he dies. Anyway the gurus defense is pretty much "well it worked last time."

Monday, October 29, 2007

Something I need to do more research on

Stolen from the BBC site:

This is a 750 year old church in Germany being rolled from its old village to another. Fine, people still like stories about buildings being moved because a house on wheels is just a funny [exorbitantly expensive] idea. Fair enough. Excepts this is the only building relocated in the entire village, the rest of it is getting flattened. For a good cause perhaps? At least for an important highway? (Germans love cars right?) Try because they want to mine the brown coal under the village and it would get in the way. I find this really horrible because the people lost a legal village to keep their village (government of Saxony wanted it and you know imminent domain), as in they wanted to keep living there, and this is for brown coal. From what I remember about Brown coal, it is a horrible power source (pollutes more than normal coal) that was used extensively in East Germany because there was a lot of it was locally and that was a big emphasis of their economic development. That had terrible repercussions for East Germany's air quality. No just no. Don't knock down the historic village because you want to get at a power source you should not be doing. This is environmentally conscious Germany? Granted it is Saxony, but really?

Surnames of Jews in New York

I don't really do very much with my German on a day to day basis these days. It does not really both me having more or less just come back after a year in a German speaking country and planning to back to another one in the nearish future (it will be part of what I end up doing with my life so it is fine). What is interesting is that German I do experience crops up in the last names of my Jewish professors and and classmates. Granted they are probably of Yiddish origin, but they are common to both languages and only knowing one of them they register as German for me. It is funny, I subconsciously pronounce them all the German way (replacing 'W's with 'V's and the like). It is a bit odd as most of these people have no connection to Germany or German and many are probably justifiable less than enamored with Germany considering WWII, but that is how German pops up in my day to day life.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


New York is surprising. I would not say New York is a beautiful city, but it is a city with a lot of beauty in it. New York is gritty and serious in a way that a city where things get done has to be I find Milan, London, and Moscow similar in that respect).

New York, however, will surprise you. Because New York is a vertical city, you can really turn a corner and be amazed by the 19th century street you've fallen into, or the beaux-arts building you "discovered." Many of New York's most impressive buildings are obscured by the construction of the last thirty years or so and as a result you can't see what in the past were considered monumental buildings (City Hall for example, which when it was built was mean to be grand and imposing and is now so dwarfed by the building around it that it seems quaint, and it is).

I have a great respect for the hodgepodge of architecture that is New York City, which cannot blame or accredit the diversity of it architecture to fire or war, but to greed and vision of its own citizens.

I recently discovered that many of my favorite New York City buildings were designed by the same man: Cass Gilbert (pictured above). You can see some of his building here. My personal favorites are the United States Court House, Hamilton Custom House, and the Municipal Building, which Stalin like and copied in Moscow many times. Cass was a very European inspired architect who very much wanted to work in England, but who life brought back to the states. He did, however, design on an American scale and did amazing works (like the Woolworth building, which is essentially a Gothic skyscraper). He also did the Supreme Court build, which is perhaps what he is most famous for.


I am trying to work more. I need to, but I also like how I feel when I have done a lot. Unfortunately, I don't like the feeling when I am just starting. Oh my mighty dilemma.


Went to China Town today for lunch with friends. Despite the rain, it was extremely pleasant. I have not been to China Town in a very long time (I used to have a grudge against China Town having grown up in an Italian-American family the bemoaned China Town's swallowing of little Italy, which got smaller every time we went with my grandfather to his favorite restaurant), but I really enjoyed it today. There are a lot cool little shops, and though people stop and ask you if you want a rolex or a handbag, it doesn't feel too much like a third world country (horrible thing to say? Maybe).

Anyway, good times. I am genuinely very happy to be back in New York. Life isn't always easy, but I like the people I meet and I feel very much at home. It is the right place for me to be right now.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Good Times

One of the more eccentric teachers here forgot to turn on his microphone this morning. It took fifteen minutes of the people in the back of the class coughing and trying to get his attention, which did not work because he lectured for the first ten minutes with his eyes closed, before one of the people is the back yelled that his mike was not on. He responded that he had not put his mike on because there was a sickness being transmitted among the professors by the mikes that they all had to share. He then admitted that was a lie and put his mike on.

That goes up there with his mimed reenactment of one of the murders we read about as my favorite class moment.

Another professor told us about how he had defended a client who had previously been convicted of having sex with a dead bird. Apparently in the unrelated case his working in the judges were very curious and asked about the type and size of the bird among other questions.

See, law school is fun, if deranged.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


I don't know how to network. Really. I mean, I have always known this is an important thing, but before I had no skills and my only prospect so my prospect of employment looked out upon the exciting world of janitorial work, and really do janitors need to network? I certainly did not think so. Well apparently the greater world of law is networkapalooza, where you try and ride high on the nepotism beast instead of clinging to its moldy underbelly (really I feel like we should revolt and kill the nepotism beast so we can all live on top, but I guess nobody likes a dead nepotism beast). This all mainly coming out of the international law career panel I wen to today at the New York Star Bar (wow, the have a beautiful building). All the panelist emphasized networking as the most important thing you can do. I generally felt their description was lacking a step, observe: 1. Always talk to everyone, network down, up, horizontally (there may have been other directions), give people your card, send out holiday updates to your entire network 2. -not mentioned- 3. Networking gets you a great job that no one else has ever heard of. Yeah networking! I think the one thing they convinced me is that I should get business cards, as they made me picture one of the panelists giving me his card and me giving him a shred of paper sloppily bearing that would certainly not disintegrate in his wallet.


Is it just me or have there been way more disasters natural and otherwise under Bush than under any other president in at least the past fifty years? Is he like a magnet for trouble?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


So you know sometimes you know a genre of something so well that you can predict what happens next? Like how in bad teen movies if you see a girl with glasses and her hair up who is supposabley nerdy you know at some point someone will giver her a makeover that consisted of letting down her hair and taking off her glasses and everyone will be shocked and she will end up with the football star/class president/most popular guy in school. Or how in action movies (excluding James Bond) if someone speak with a very British accent British accent they will be the villain. Well, in our criminal law book, at least in the cases on murder, there is an equivalent: when in doubt, someone will be stabbed multiple times in the throat. Yes, Hollywood like you to believe the torso, but no, apparently the throat. So you will be reading a story about a guy trying to make up with his ex and you will be thinking "Oh, she's going to get stabbed in the throat isn't she." And then the guy puts aside the presents, and pulls out a steak knife and does the deed. And then despite it being horrible, you think" not very creative saw that coming, we've had at least three other throat stabbing cases this week." This is how law school ruins your soul, or makes you into a creative murder.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Pictures Stolen

Pictures from various newspapers websites that entertain me:

Three-year-old British boy's birthday. He was running around the playground and decided to plop this traffic cone his head and play "Harry Potter." Then he went to show his parents. They couldn't get it off. They called the fire department. It took them half and hour to get it off. His mother, relishing the future black mail potential of the picture, said "He looks quite sorry for himself in the photo and he's not going to thank me when he sees that in the future."
I know she is in the Middle East promoting Breast Cancer awareness, but this picture really freaks me out. Not sure if it is the pink/black contrast or the tilt of her head.
Alumni reunion on College walk! Oh no, Serbian veterins. Sorry.
Algiers. Do you recognize the fancy outfit the little boy wearing? I do. I saw them being sold in Istanbul. They look like little prince costumes, but they are to celebrate circumcision! That little boy looks pretty happy now, but something tells me he won't be in a minute!

Monday, October 15, 2007


So I am supposes to blog about how they taught us about the the Klu Klux Klan in middle school. I don't actually find this story all that remarkable, but Alexia said it was worth blogging about (versus most of my stuff and my perma-whine about law school, don't worry that will come at the end of this entry anyway).

So when I was in middle school we learned about the Klu Klux Klan. Not in a way even romtely suggesting they were okay, but we learned about their beliefs. At one point during class when when one teacher was lecturing another teacher entered wearing a Klan robe and hood. This was probably only even remotely okay because there were no black kids in the class. Anywho, he was trying to scare us (basically impress upon us that the Klan existed in New York too and we could not just write it off as a southern thing). Someone had found the robe when they bought a new house and donated it to the school. The teacher wearing it actually looked pretty funny as he was tall and the robe was made for a smaller man, so it was about a foot too short.

We also learned about the Klan's plan to divide the country up into sections and have a white part, a black part an Asian part, and probably a latino part as well. I don't remember which was which.

Such was middle school (it was a public school by the way).

Writing a Russian composition at the moment and it will be a while yet before I finish. This week is sort of hell. I was up most of last night writing a memo, writing my Russian comp tonight, and for Monday I have a large and important memo that I have no idea how I will finish in time and do decently.

Did I mention I don't look law school too much?

I always wonder why I am here until I read about US-Russian missile treaties, territorial disputes, or a legal systems of Ukraine and Russia and then I remember that that is the stuff I really want to get to. It will just take a while.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


So law school continues. We had a very nice meeting of International Law Society tonight, which I really enjoyed. The people are really interesting, many are multilingual, and well, share many of my interests. Most are more into human rights, which isn't really what I want to go into, but it just a good group of people (they are also organizing language conversation groups for twelve different language, which is pretty cool).

Many of the people there were older than I am. Many of them had spent years abroad. It kind of made me wonder if I should have spent more time abroad before law school perfect my Russian and French (granted French had farther to go) and picking up either Ukrainian or Georgian. I do really like spending time abroad. Still, I know that last year when I was abroad I felt an internal pressure to acquire skills and get on with my life, so it does seem like there will always been an element of "the grass is greener."

My original plan after Vienna had actually been to spend a year in France. By the time that came around though I was no longer so enamored with French, and was also discouraged that in the places the teaching program would send me I would not be able to continue with Russian (bane and joy of my existence). So that was tricky and then it ended up not working with differing.

Still, with a very structured schedule at the moment the appeal of just hanging out in a country that I would like to learn more about is great. For some reason Georgian and Ukraine are really calling me. Don't know if it is because I wrote my big research paper on the two countries political situations last year. I was really happy that when I was in Ukraine this summer I picked up some Ukrainian (my Ukrainian grandmother was pleased). I would really like to learn Ukrainian properly one day. I may have to make it back to Columbia at some point to take their Georgian and Ukrainian language courses.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

New! (may be a lie)

This post is a bit older, but when I was ready to post it the internet decide to flip out on me.

Well it looks like posts are going to be a bit more sporadic these days than they were last year.

School is keeping me pretty busy and I am trying to find away to run with that while keeping a life (by extent my sanity) and a sense of fun.

Nothing too crazy is going just that we 1Ls don't speak the same language as the professors. We are not specific enough and are more careless with our words. Still they are the ones stuck with first years for eternity, we presumably only have to be 1Ls once.

A number of things are going well. It has been nice to be closer to my family again. I have had some great moments of catching up with College friends (it is really wonderful to have friends that understand you better than you understand yourself).

I am also pretty happy about the elections in Ukraine. The Orange parties squeaked out a majority in the new parliament. Observers, Ukrainians included, are pretty cynical about the whole business, but the Orange parties seem to be the only ones committed to greater transparency. Tymoshenko despite being a former oligarch herself is likely to give the oligarchs a run for their money and keep them on their toes, which suits me just fine. Still seems like a positive development to me compared to the farce that is Russian politics (specifically Putin not only saying he might run for the presidency again four years after his current term, but that he might take over the position of Prime Minister in the meantime. Basically he'll just do whatever he wants.