Archive for December, 2011

The Green Flash

December 29th, 2011 Comments off

I’ve heard the stories of a brief green flash at sunset: right as the sun sinks below the horizon of the Pacific Ocean there is supposed to be a flash of green light. I always thought that it was b.s. as I had never seen it despite looking at many Pacific sunsets. But I have now actually seen it (or though that I have seen it) so perhaps it does occur with the correct atmospheric conditions.

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What A Deal!

December 24th, 2011 Comments off

Finally got caught up on sorting and processing coupons for food and household goods. One coupon I ran across was offering $2 bills for $3.95. Yes, they are new, current $2 bills that you can get at most any bank for $2. You can buy them for twice the price but shipping and handling are free! That’s 58% off their “regular price.” But wait, there’s more. They will also include a brand new quarter (one per order). So you get $2.25 worth of merchandise for only $3.95! Hard to pass up that offer.

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December 19th, 2011 Comments off

I’m still working on the Beethoven Bagatelle and it is coming along nicely. But after last weekend’s Beethoven marathon I was ready to listen and play something different. I was listening to the Chopin Noctures last night and was very moved by them. Today I was playing Chopin during my practice and enjoying it; it was my best playing in several months. In addition to the two minor key Waltzes, I was noodling around with the the Nocturne No. 1 in Bb minor, Op. 9 No. 1. Very chromatic and with haunting melodies. It’s pushing the envelope for me, but not entirely out of reach. The b minor Waltz is still going to take a lot of time to get ready but this is next in the pipeline.

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Long Island Railroad

December 18th, 2011 Comments off

While teaching earlier in the week we were discussing an employment law case involving the Long Island Railroad. Any first year law student  can tell you about the most famous case involving the Long Island Railroad. It is Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad wherein Justice Cardozo (later a member of the U.S. Supreme Court) states the limit for liability under negligence. In Cardozo’s words, the case involved:

Plaintiff was standing on a platform of defendant’s railroad after buying a ticket to go to Rockaway Beach. A train stopped at the station, bound for another place. Two men ran forward to catch it. One of the men reached the platform of the car without mishap, though the train was already moving. The other man, carrying a package, jumped aboard the car, but seemed unsteady as if about to fall. A guard on the car, who had held the door open, reached forward to help him in, and another guard on the platform pushed him from behind. In this act, the package was dislodged, and fell upon the rails. It was a package of small size, about fifteen inches long, and was covered by a newspaper. In fact it contained fireworks, but there was nothing in its appearance to give notice of its contents. The fireworks when they fell exploded. The shock of the explosion threw down some scales at the other end of the platform, many feet away. The scales struck the plaintiff, causing injuries for which she sues.

The court held that the Railroad was not liable as this unusual sequence of events was not something that was foreseeable or expected, and therefore the railroad owed no duty to Mrs. Palsgraf.

If you are interested, you can see a “dramatic” re-enactment of the events using LEGO figures created by some 1st year law students:


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The Tragedy

December 17th, 2011 Comments off

The tragedy is a dramatic concept originating in ancient Greece. We see it in its earliest form in the great playwrights  from around the fifth century BC. The plays are usually loosely based on stories from Homer. None is finer than Aeschylus. Of the 70 or so plays he wrote only 7 survive. In fact, only about 33 of the Greek tragedies are known today (to a large extent due to the destruction of the library of Alexandria by the early Christians). Tragedy has the characteristic of the noble hero who suffers injustice at the hands of the gods. Such is our Fate. The hero does not always prevail in the end, but shows a noble character in dealing with life’s hardships.

I’m reading Aeschylus’ Agamemnon now. A beautiful play that works well on many levels (especially if you are familiar with the stories from Homer.

“wherewith in sympathy

sing sorrow, sorrow: but good win out in the end.”

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Misc Ramblings

December 14th, 2011 Comments off

Just a few stray thoughts for your consideration:

I noticed that a car dealership building in Mission Valley is being remodeled and a new “Fisker”sign has appeared. I saw the Karma model at the car show a year ago and it looks very exciting. Way out of my budget but an interesting hybrid design. The new Surf model has the same drive train but seating for 4 for those who desire a more practical car.

Beethoven’s birthday is coming up in a few days. I will observe it by listening to a lot of Beethoven and working on my Beethoven Bagatelle (Op. 119 No. 1).

Still cool here but the rain has stopped. I’m glad I have the old bike on the trainer in the garage so I can keep riding in spite of the weather.

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“Occupy” and the First Amendment

December 3rd, 2011 Comments off

I’m back after getting bogged down in teaching stuff.

Probably the most interesting legal issue these days is the clash between the Occupy movement and the local police in various locations. The Occupy movement is definitely political speech, and there is a long tradition to this sort of thing. One example is the WWI solders who occupied the Washington Mall in the 1930s for several months demanding early payment of their war bonus. Eventually this “Hooverville” was destroyed by local police, but the movement did succeed in getting the payment for veterans.

Today we have clashes with local police trying to enforce various anti-loitering ordinances (which are often struck down for vagueness and other problems). While the purported motive is public safety and sanitation, the effect is suppressing protected 1st Amendment speech. One has to wonder what political motives may be behind the local police. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

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