The dressing down the judge gives the city in this case is so cathartic, I can’t even begin to adequately express it.
I have a close friend who was a guitar instructor for most of her life, and then became a yoga instructor. Now she does both in Nashville. Sometimes at the same time.
Well, almost. Karen has created a series of yoga classes set to the music of rock icons like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Beastie Boys, etc. These classes include some live music and some lecture which connects the central themes of the music to yogic principles.
A fairly simple idea, but one that has mass appeal. After you’re exposed to it, you’re like, “man, I wish I’da thought of that.”
Check her out, she is super awesome:
Anyway, I wrote all that not only to plug Karen, but to segue into this: the melding of disciplines has captured my imagination lately. Probably because I’m into lots of different things, and I like the idea of knowledge that crosses over from one field into another. It saves time, and it allows you to look at things in a unique way. For instance, I am convinced that learning the mechanics of improvisation as a musician has helped me tremendously in the practice of law, and in stage acting. But that’s a subject for another post.
Taking a step back: Jared Diamond, who is probably one of the smartest interdisciplinarians alive, has written on the idea of specialization as a driving force in human history. The gist of the theory goes like this: not so long ago, civilization was not stable enough to allow for specialists in any field. Everyone kinda had to do a little of everything - cooking, butchering, carpentry, negotiating, etc. - just to survive. As human society became more economically secure, people developed specialties. One guy did the cooking, one guy did the negotiating, and one guy told jokes around the campfire.
And so it went, on through the ages, until we get to the 21st century. Now we have cooks who only make sushi, doctors who only look at the fingernails, and attorneys who only litigate ATV rollover cases. We are a highly specialized society. So much so, that meaningful cross-pollination is difficult these days.
This article, entitled “The Last Days of the Polymath,” talks about just that. Back in the days of Leonardo Da Vinci, when people didn’t know shit about shit, it was fairly easy to innovate in a bunch of different areas, because…well, people didn’t know shit about shit. But now? You’ve got to slug through years, sometimes decades of education in a particular field just to figure out what everyone else did, and then have the creative energy to do something new. And that’s just in one field. We know a whole lot more.
So what you end up with are sort of limited polymaths. People who might do two or three things really well, and end up being innovators. This is probably - and this part is important - a result of the cross-application of the specialized knowledge required for those two or three things. A lawyer looks at things differently from an engineer, or a musician, or a mystic, or a circus clown. And so, for example, an engineer might look at the law differently from your normal Joe Lawyer who goes straight from a B.A. in English to a J.D. in Bullshit. And it seems obvious that fresh perspectives pave the way for innovation. We need cross-pollinators.
So you know a little about a lot of things, but a lot about just a few things. How do you go about bringing something new to a particular field? Well, I don’t claim to have an answer for that, but I have an idea for a starting point.
This is a simple table created using Evernote. Across the top and the down the side, in bold, you have a particular area of interest. In the rest of the squares, you generate ideas that combine the two interests in some way.
*Disclaimer: the above is purely for the sake of example. I do not actually know very much about cryptozoology.
Easy, right? Now go make your own and come up with something brilliant.
I think we can all agree that poison ivy sucks. Unless you’re one of the rare folks who is immune to the evil weed, you’re probably solidly in the anti-poison-ivy crowd.
For those who are affected by it, it causes a very irritating rash.
If poison ivy is burned and the smoke then inhaled, this rash will appear on the lining of the lungs, causing extreme pain and possibly fatal respiratory difficulty.
If poison ivy is eaten, the digestive tract and airways will be affected, in some cases causing death.
Here’s the thing about toxicodendron radicans: it’s nasty, sure, but its symptoms are pretty handily counteracted by the use of a simple antibiotic and steroid.
Here’s the thing about that antibiotic and steroid: they work great, sure, but they can have nasty interactions with certain kinds of birth control. Like they can make you have to refrain from using them altogether, or render them basically ineffective. I may or may not be speaking from experience.
Good things are often born out of things you think of as bad, which makes those bad things not so bad. Dig?
I know quoting the Sufi poet Jalal ad-Din Rumi is sooo 1990’s, but I do love this passage:
Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow.
But that’s not so difficult to figure out. I figure anyone who’s ever read the Book of Job or When Bad Things Happen to Good People knows that simple truth. The really difficult part is being mindful of it often enough to keep you from being miserable half the time. Or more.
Overall, it’s difficult to enjoy life, even when good things happen. Even when good things are happening all the time, it’s tough not to take those things for granted. And it’s kind of one of those sick jokes of the human experience. We’ve only got a limited time to get ourselves together before we start falling apart.
Y’know how when you’re on a roller coaster, and there’s a part where you’re on your way up, and then there’s a terrifying drop where your stomach and your epiglottis sort of slam together? In between those two parts, when you crest at the very top of the world and you feel like you could pluck an aircraft out of the sky - that split-second is nice. You’re not waiting to get to the top, and your fight-or-flight response isn’t blurring your brain like it does during your downhill plummet.
Apart from roller coasters and the like, you can get yourself in a mode of going uphill all the time, and often don’t realize when you get to the top. The uphill climb is adverse; it involves lots of clawing, biting, kicking and scratching. It begs discontentment. But the toughest part is to recognize the point when you don’t have to struggle to get any higher. When you don’t need to be terrified, or discontent. When it’s time to look down at the world and try to take in as much beauty as possible before you gotta get back to the mud and shit and piss back on earth.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the good things in my life lately.There are a lot of them. As of right now, I am healthy, secure, well-fed, loved, and (basically) financially solvent. It occurs to me that, especially compared with 90% of the rest of the world, good things have happened to me for most of my life. It also occurs to me that I have spent a lot of time wishing those good things into existence, and lamenting the non-existence of good things I wish had come to be but did not.
However, I have spent very, very little time acknowledging and enjoying the good things when they do happen. Not just identifiable, episodic good stuff, but the ones that are buzzing in the background all the time.
This is something I intend to work on. Not just in a general sense, or in retrospect, because that’s pretty easy. Anyone can look at this:
and say it’s totally worth it if it ends up leading to this:
And so one has to acknowledge that yes, happiness springs from adversity sometimes, and blah blah blah. But getting it down day to day? Hour to hour? Moment to moment? Realizing that even though you lost your keys, a bill went to collections, you lost a case, you’re getting screwed (figuratively) right now, etc.,overall, things are still pretty great? That’s very, very difficult indeed. But worth the effort. After all, the goal of any uphill climb should be happiness, right?
It was finally warm enough to get out and about in beautiful Kentuckiana today, where I got some pictures of the pedestrian bridge, and a million-billion pics of my tiny human and her mom. Welcome, spring.
In case you find yourself doubting that Eastern spirituality in the U.S. has jumped the motherfucking shark, I have photographic evidence.
Are you an out-of-work actor with no marketable skills and/or talent? Did you try to make it in L.A. but just didn’t quite have the moxy? Did you try to escape California only to discover that you only had enough gas to get as far as the next state over? Do you love John Wayne in a strictly, almost harshly platonic way? Do you hate Obama, the ACLU, Mexicans, books, and/or anything remotely effeminate? Do you think that kindergartners should be issued assault rifles on the first day of classes?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above, then guess where might be perfect for you:
Tombstone, AZ (with a little bit of Tucson and the surrounding area).
Your brain tells you you should be contented all the time, but makes constant contentment practically impossible. It also makes you feel guilty and gullible for expecting contentment in the first place, but still discontent about your lack of contentment.
Fuck you, brain.
|—||Leonardo Da Vinci|
|—||As related by Ian Lawton|
Back in my day, when they used to still be allowed to teach sex ed to impressionable youngsters, I must have missed the chapter in which they tell you all the insane things about pregnancy, the birth process, babies, and the like. Maybe they just pull the girls aside for that stuff because honestly, what man is going to be interested in his own children? But now that my daughter is almost 10 weeks old, I’ve had a little time to process this whole thing. I thought I would share my observations, and the gaps in my education, as a public service. You’re welcome.
1. Newborns are our nation’s #1 producer of crude oil. Pop quiz: what comes out of a newborn’s butt? If you said “poop,” you’ve never brought a tiny human home from the hospital. It’s actually a sticky black tar called meconium. Meconium is the infant’s way of expelling the sinful acts her parents committed in order to bring her into being. It is designed to punish new parents, and if it makes contact with human skin, it never, ever washes off.
2. Cribs are not bassinets, bassinets are not cradles, and cradles are not cribs. How in blue hell do people keep track of this stuff? This may fall under the whole “everyone knows this but you” umbrella, but I still can’t tell you what piece of baby gear is what. And it wouldn’t be so damnably confusing if it were just cradles and cribs and bassinets and Moses baskets. There’s blankets, swaddling blankets, stroller blankets, receiving blankets, burp cloths, and bibs. Then you got onesies, sleepers, gowns, slings, carriers, wraps, backpacks, bouncers, jumpers, boosters, walkers, etc. These are all somehow things that are distinguishable from one another, and if you ask the internet, you need to have one of each or your baby will explode. Our parents didn’t have half of this crap. I predict there will be a backlash in the next generation; one that involves young parents carrying their naked, screaming, diaper-rashed babies by the ankle everywhere, shunning the commercialism of infancy altogether, allowing nature to take its course until the child has the wherewithal to use its own saliva to cleanse itself.
3. Breastfeeding is dangerous. The concept of breastfeeding is a little weird when you stop and think about it, but it’s pretty straightforward. I didn’t realize how much I didn’t know about the mechanics of the whole thing until we brought home our little bug. My prior beliefs were, in my opinion, quite reasonable. I thought a boob was like a bottle. You know, the baby suckles it and a little comes out of the nipple. Turns out a boob is more like a Ziploc bag full of milk with a tiny pinhole at the end. Milk doesn’t dribble out; it SHOOTS out of there like it’s a Super Soaker or something. And the shooting is often activated by a specific sound (i.e., a howling baby), which is super weird if you stop and think about it. You’d think the plaintiffs’ bar would have made the boob industry safer for the average consumer by now, but I don’t know any lawyers who specialize in that sort of litigation. How more babies are not blinded or drowned by those things, I’ll never understand.
4. Some babies begin life as tiny sharks. Apparently some babies are born with teeth, but not baby teeth. EXTRA teeth. Do not do a Google image search for “natal teeth” unless you’ve got a fairly strong constitution, and certainly not in the family planning stage. Like the black napalm that comes out of their backsides, these teeth are natural defense mechanisms that some breastfeeding infants use to keep from getting blasted with milk. I believe that babies with these teeth also have tiny venom glands hidden underneath them, though I have no peer-reviewed scientific research to support this theory. Thankfully my daughter does not have these teeth, and I did not know they existed until after she was born, otherwise I would have insisted on an in utero dental x-ray.
5. They grow up so fast. According to our pediatrician, hormones transmitted by the mother through the placenta and through breast milk can cause premature, uh, “development” in infants. This can noticeably affect baby girls, who can develop enlarged breasts and genitals, and even secrete things out of them. (Don’t worry; that link does not go to an image.) Our doc even says that infant girls can have “mini periods.”
Now look, mother nature. Me ‘n’ you’s gonna have words over this one. It’s not as though dads of daughters don’t have enough to figure out and/or worry about without biological evolution throwing us that kind of curve ball. Before our doctor told us any of this stuff, I am fairly certain that if I had seen my daughter making her own milk I would have called the hospital, the media, Loveline, David Tennant, and Father Damien Karras.
Nonetheless, here we are, 10 weeks in. Happy, healthy, and just getting started. I’m sure there is more weird shit to come. I’m ready.
Here’s another goofy song I wrote. Hoping to do some real, honest-to-god recording in Spring/Summer of this year. Until now, these little cell phone recordings will have to do. Enjoy!
It’s Saturday night.
You: having fun. Right? Hopefully.
Me: writing an appellate brief. Currently on page 50 of an allotted 30. Obsessing over this case. Experiencing a little cardiac arrythmia, which is to be expected since I am currently on my 85th cup of coffee for the day. Experiencing the sort of contemplative, antisocial restlessness that one gets after a million straight hours of writing. I want pizza. Or candy. Or a cigarette. Or something. Maybe more coffee is the answer.
Client: dead. In the ground. Forever (depending on what you believe).
All things considered, it ain’t so bad. For me. Or you. Hopefully.
In case you haven’t heard yet, the United Kingdom’s House of Commons voted to approve marriage equality by a wide margin. Now while it might seem disheartening to think that our politicians say shit like this in public while the rest of the world moves forward, it is encouraging to think that the rest of the world is moving forward.
Then again, it is disheartening.
Before all you bleeding-heart optimists get your hopes up, remember that the Brits banned slavery 30 years before the Emancipation Proclamation. Worse yet, Great Britain banned capital punishment in 1965. Forty years later, the United States Supreme Court finally did away with capital punishment in the United States.
Forty years is all it took for us not to catch up with Britain on a key social issue. In fact, forty years is all it took not to catch up with 90% of the rest of the world’s countries. It took forty years to leap past the likes of Iran and Saudi Arabia, but to get left behind by The Democratic Republic of Congo. So civil rights activists: don’t get your hopes up.
Then again, all in all, it’s encouraging. I’m an optimist, in spite of it all and in spite of myself. You gotta press forward or no one else will, right? Even when you’re fighting prehistoric monsters.
Occasionally I am called upon to defend a professional (doctor, nurse, etc.) whose license is in jeopardy due to some allegation of misconduct that has made its way to the agency that is responsible for his/her licensure.
It’s hard to describe how difficult and stressful these cases can be. Why? Partially because your client’s professional integrity, general reputation, and livelihood are on the line. Partially because administrative law can be damned complicated, murky, and confusing. And partially because more often than not, in working these cases you find yourself in Wonderland.
Let me try to illustrate what I mean.