Law Center is no stranger to security scares

Fear of a gunman led police to lock down campus. Life at the Law Center returned to normal just a few hours after fears of an armed gunman sparked a campus lockdown.

The incident, which occurred almost exactly one year after D.C. police officers held a 1L Gewirz resident at gunpoint because of a campus gunman report, began midday on Friday, Sep. 30.

In an interview with the Law Weekly, Public Safety Director Edward Piper said that at 12:30 pm, D.C. law enforcement warned his office that a black male armed with an assault rifle “was possibly walking around the area of 2nd and D,” an intersection within a few blocks of the Law Center.

Local law enforcement advised Georgetown to “get all of our campus population inside the buildings immediately,” Piper said.

Campus police officers used bullhorns to do just that, warning everyone outside to immediately move indoors. Afterward, just after 1:00 pm, the Public Safety Department began contacting the Law Center community by phone and email.

Students who had signed up for Georgetown’s emergency alert system received a text message about the potential threat as well as an automated phone call. All members of the community received email alerts.

In an email sent at 1:14 pm, Piper wrote, “We have just received word from Capitol Police that a black mail armed with a firearm has been spotted on campus. STAY INSIDE AND WAY FROM WINDOWS!”

“After that,” Piper told the Law Weekly, “we waited to get the all clear from local area law enforcement. We received that around 1:30.”

At that point, Public Safety passed word to the community and students, faculty and staff then trickled back outside.

No gunman was ever spotted on campus, Piper said. The director also said that he did not know what originally led local law enforcement to fear that a gunman was nearby, but a local ABC News affiliate reported Friday that “someone from the law school campus” had called police to report the sighting of an armed man.

The Law Center is no stranger to such security alerts. Last semester, a bomb threat at a local homeless shelter sparked an on-campus security alert. Also last semester, New Jersey Avenue was shut down because of a suspicious package at the nearby Bureau of Prisons. Firetrucks, a HAZMAT vehicle, and police cars blocked the street for nearly an hour before determining that the scare was a false alarm.

Perhaps most seriously, in the fall of 2010, D.C. police swarmed campus in response to a report of a gunman in Gewirz Hall. Upon arriving, the Metro police officers-who had not previously warned the Department of Public Safety about the threat-spotted a man on Gewirz’s eleventh floor holding a black object. The officers held that man at gunpoint, detained him, and then released him upon learning that he was a 1L talking to his father on a cell phone.

When the Law Weekly asked Director Piper what he thought about his Department’s response to this latest security alert, Piper said that, “all things considered,” he was satisfied.

Piper also summarized his Department’s overarching future security strategy with a simple motto: “Always be prepared.

Nick Moore, 3L, passes away

Moore, 3L, builds a house with Habitat for Humanity.Nicholas Moore, a third-year Law Center student, died on Monday, Sep. 26, according to Dean William Treanor. Moore, an active supporter of Habitat for Humanity and other humanitarian causes, passed away in California of an as-yet undetermined cause.

“Nick was a valued member of our community who was deeply committed to public service,” Dean Treanor said in a message to the Law Center community. “A former AmeriCorps volunteer for Habitat for Humanity in New York City and the post-Katrina Mississippi Gulf Coast, he was also vice president of outreach for our campus Habitat chapter.”

In a recent edition of the Georgetown Law Alumni Magazine, Moore discussed his work with Habitat in New York City.

“Over the course of the day we covered the whole roof with shingles,” Moore told the magazine. “One of the really cool parts of this program is that you get people who are invested in their homes more than some random house you buy. And that transmits into people being really invested in their communities.

Photo courtesy of Alumni Magazine. Moore works on another Habitat project.Moore, a native of Oregon, was also politically active. He supported the Georgetown Law Democrats, according to his online Facebook activity.

Students, faculty and staff can email condolences to Dean of Students Mitchell Bailin, who plans to forward such messages to Moore’s family.

Dean Treanor concluded his message by writing, “Meanwhile, I am sure you join me in conveying heartfelt condolences to Nick’s family and friends. We share in their grief. Please keep Nick and his family in your thoughts and prayers.”

No cause of death has been announced.

To send condolences to the Moore family, contact Dean Bailin at mcb48@law.georgetown.edu. You can also email us your memories of Nick for publication by contacting laweekly@law.georgetown.edu.

Is government debt and deficit a bad thing in principle?

In modern parlance, the words “debt” and “deficit” carry negative connotations. In the political realm, they often are used to imply irresponsibility on the part of lawmakers who create a government debt or deficit. Indeed, in the context of the individual and the household as well as the business, debt and deficit are anathema. On the state scale, however, the situation is much different. One commonly asserted negative effect of government debt and deficit is its effect on future generations through increased taxes, changes in the balance of payments, and crowding out of domestic private investment. However, these effects on future generations do not occur necessarily from government debt and deficit; whether the negative effects occur depends upon the source of the borrowed monies and what those monies are spent on. Only by identifying the conditions under which debt and deficit are more harmful and the conditions under which they are less harmful can we evaluate whether the government deficits and accumulated debt in the modern era were good or bad for the economy in general.
Deficits and debts are bad for the economy if they lower GDP over the long-term, cause excessive unemployment, cause excessive inflation, or exacerbate or cause a recession or depression. Conversely, deficits and debts are “good” for the economy if they heighten GDP over the long-term, lower unemployment, curb inflation, or ameliorate a recession or depression. These goals cannot normally be achieved all at once through government spending and thus they must be weighed against each other in each particular situation in terms of utility. Traditionally, at least in Keynesian thought, deficit spending is thought to be an appropriate course of action in an economic recession or depression; and thus it is (if applied correctly and only in those situations) counter-cyclical. Deficit spending, in those circumstances, tends to lower unemployment and put upward pressure on prices, at least if not accompanied by policies geared towards curbing inflation. Many, if not most, economists accept that government deficit spending in dire circumstances such as the Great Depression is warranted and helpful rather than harmful.
However, in the long-term, many economists and politicians worry that the possible negative effects of deficit spending will overrun any positive gains that might come from it. One such negative effect is called the twin-deficit hypothesis, which is the idea that when a government increases its fiscal deficit by cutting taxes, domestic residents use some of the extra income to boost consumption, causing total national (private and public) saving to decline. The decline in saving requires the country either to borrow from abroad or reduce its foreign lending, unless domestic investment decreases enough to offset the saving shortfall.
Another possible negative effect of deficit spending is the crowding out of private investment. When the government borrows money, it heightens the demand for money and this leads to a higher interest rate. This higher interest rate causes the private sector to invest less due to a lower rate of return on investment. The crowding out effect can be mitigated by printing more money in order to fund the deficit, but funding the deficit in this manner will cause inflationary pressures. Additionally, in a recessionary period, the multiplier effect of the deficit may actually stimulate fixed investment, by creating income and thus increasing consumption spending, which then creates more income by increasing demand for goods from firms. The crowding out of private investment is only truly a concern if the private investment that is crowded out would have been more productive than the projects that the government uses its deficit spending on.
It is often maintained that the debt that accrues as the government is in deficit for long periods of time is a burden on future generations insofar as those generations will end up paying higher taxes in order to pay interest on the debt. This position is only feasible if one also maintains that taxes are burdensome in themselves and this burden cannot be balanced by any positive effects of deficit spending. Indeed, the interest paid by future generations on the accrued debt may seem like small change in comparison to the benefits afforded by certain government project (e.g. the National Highway System or the precursors to the Internet). In this case, whether the interest paid on the debt is “burdensome” (which implies injustice or at least inequity) depends on whether the projects paid for by that debt are worth more than the interest on the debt. Additionally, it is possible that certain projects, especially government-funded technological research projects, may increase national income so much that part of the debt can be paid off, or the project can be said to “pay for itself.” Due to the multiplier effect, government spending will always end up injecting more income into the economy than it initially removes via taxation. Moreover, the government can meet its interest bill forever by issuing more bonds without increasing the debt-GDP ratio if the economy’s real growth rate of output equals or exceeds its real interest rate.
Thus, the question of whether deficit spending is a burden on future generations depends partly on how the borrowed funds are spent: if they are invested and the projects funded by the borrowed funds have a high enough rate of return, then there will be no burden. It is also possible that if they are spent on consumption that there will be no burden, depending upon how much the funds spent on consumption end up increasing private investment. However, the source of the funds is also important. If the deficit is primarily funded domestically, then when it comes time to begin paying off interest on the debt, the nation is essentially paying itself. However, if the deficit is primarily funded by foreign borrowing, then the funds will flow overseas, which will reduce the growth of their own consumption expenditures. Again, if the rate of return on the investment is high enough, this effect will not matter and the debt will not be burdensome, but if the funds are spent on consumption then the debt will necessarily be burdensome, in essentially the same manner that credit card debt is burdensome to individuals. In short, and counter to the current Republican idea that all deficits are evil, whether a deficit and accumulated debt is a good thing or a bad thing depends on where the funds come from and how they are spent and hat the projects have a certain level of rate of return.

Maples v. Thomas

 The Eleventh Circuit’s majority opinion in Maples v. Allen – as the case was titled when before the appellate court – begins with a terse description of the crime underlying Cory Maples’s conviction.

“Cory Maples was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death for killing two companions, Stacy Alan Terry and Barry Dewayne Robinson II, after an evening of drinking, playing pool, and riding around in Terry’s car. When the men arrived at Maples’s house, Maples went inside and got a .22 caliber rifle. Maples then shot each man twice in the head in an execution-style killing… Maples fled in Terry’s car.”

A primary basis for Maples’s conviction was his confession, in which he stated that “he: (1) shot both victims around midnight; (2) had drunk six or seven beers by about 8 p.m., but ‘didn’t feel very drunk’; and (3) did not know why he decided to kill the two men.”

Maples was convicted of capital murder and lost on both levels of direct appeal. He then filed a petition for state post-conviction relief, arguing that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate or present evidence of his mental health and substance abuse history and his intoxication at the time of the crime. He also argued that the jury instructions violated due process by not including the lesser offense of manslaughter due to voluntary intoxication.

This petition was dismissed by the trial court and Maples’s attorneys failed to file a notice of appeal within the 42 days required. At the time, Maples was represented by two attorneys from Sullivan & Cromwell. Those attorneys left the firm and, although new counsel was supposed to be found within the firm, notice of the trial court’s order was instead returned to the court clerk’s office.

Maples’s mother contacted the firm, which then requested that the trial court re-issue its order so that they could appeal. The trial court refused, as did the state appellate courts.  At the same time, Maples petitioned for federal habeas review, which was denied because – among other reasons – his claims were procedurally defaulted because of the failure to file a timely appeal of the dismissal of his state post-conviction petition.

The Eleventh Circuit affirmed, finding that Maples had failed to exhaust all state court remedies that are available for challenging his state conviction as required by a federal habeas challenge to a state conviction. Before Maples could bring a federal habeas petition, he was required to appeal his state post-conviction petition. Because Maples could never appeal as he was time barred, his claims were procedurally defaulted.

Judge Barkett, in her dissenting opinion, criticized the majority’s finding that Maples’s claims were procedurally defaulted on the basis that the state rule on which the default is based is not “adequate and independent” because it is not “firmly established and regularly followed” as required by Supreme Court precedent. Namely, Coleman v. Thompson established this requirement and further stated that the state procedural bar must be “clear [and] closely hewn to.”

Here, the Alabama court did not notify Maples personally of the denial of his state post-conviction petition, only his attorneys, yet it refused to permit an out-of-time appeal. In contrast, the same court had ruled oppositely in another case – Marshall v. State – with the same fact pattern.

Additionally, Judge Barkett stated that “the interests of justice also require that Maples be permitted review of his claims when the alleged default of those claims occurred through no fault of his own.  Rather, any such default is entirely the fault of his post-conviction counsel, and this court is allowing him to be put to death because of that negligence.”

Petitioner’s brief before the Supreme Court expressed similar arguments as Judge Barkett’s opinion, namely that “factors external to the petitioner provide cause to excuse a procedural default” and that “the state’s mishandling of its notice obligations establishes cause” to excuse the default.

Similarly, Respondent’s brief largely echoes the majority opinion of the Eleventh Circuit, focusing on the fact that the state court clerk followed state laws and disputing whether the failures of Maples’s counsel established cause to excuse his default.

Career advisers create ‘search before the search’ program

OPICS hopes that students will think ahead when career-planning.Georgetown Law’s career advisors have created a new program for students to help them think carefully about future legal careers and to more-thoughtfully pursue the right careers for them.

“In our experience, lawyers tend to be happier and more satisfied in their careers when they have thought carefully about their goals and values and cho- sen jobs and careers that are congruent with them,” Law Center career advisers said.

Barbara Moulton, Assistant Dean for Public Interest and Community Service, and Emmy Berning, career counselor in the Office of Career Services and Assistant Director for Judicial Clerkship, added, “The program is intended to provide students an opportunity — and some of the tools necessary — to engage in this type of intro- spection and planning.”

The “Search Before the Search” program, intended for 1L students, will include three sessions this fall (two of which have already been held) and two more sessions in the spring to “encour- age students to be reflective about their individual strengths, values and goals; to educate them about the breadth of careers in the law; and to help them understand how various legal jobs may align with their strengths, values and goals.”

At the first session of the program, Dean Mitch Bailin addressed students about the challenges of finding the right path in the legal industry. He said many people come to law school knowing what they want to do for a living, they go do it, and are happy. Others come in “knowing” what they want to do, they do it, and then they hate it and have to change paths. Others come in with less sense of what they want to do and mud- dle through it. Still other students have no idea where they want to be after law school, Bailin said.

“Wherever you are amongst those groups I’ve just identified is totally nor- mal, totally fine,” Bailin said. “We’re going to be focused today and through this series … on the process of thinking about job choices, job searches, career choices, not so much on the particular product at the end of it, whether a par- ticular job is right for you.”

He emphasized the need for stu- dents not to make knee-jerk decisions when the job-searching window opens for 1Ls November 1. The program, Bailin said, will help students to be more thoughtful about this process and to find the right paths for themselves.

“The students who don’t go through the process of self-reflection, who don’t go through the process of thinking hard about what they care about in a particular legal job and figur- ing out what they’re about, can wind up [feeling they aren’t themselves at work, or like their job doesn’t fulfill necessary things for themselves],” Bailin said.

Moulton and Berning said this program was conceived over the course of this summer.

The first session focused on being thoughtful about the job search process. The second session provided “an overview of three broad types of legal practice (litigation, regulatory and trans- actional) and the kinds of things differ- ent types of lawyers do every day in a wide variety of legal settings.”

“The third session will be conduct- ed in small breakout sessions … The focus will be bridging from the starting point of strengths, values, and interests to advice for practical job search next steps for this summer and throughout law school,” according to Moulton and Berning. “There will be discussion of identifying summer job opportunities, and the counselors will lead job search simulations designed to jump start the process of finding rewarding employ- ment for the summer of 2012.”

“I think there’s an impulse to sim- plify a complicated process, to pick a summer job based on what’s posted on Nov. 1, versus the alternative, which would be to think through what might interest you to research, talk it out, reflect,” Bailin said. This program is offered to fend off this possibility and work on graduating students from Georgetown Law who have put real thought into their long-term goals and needs for their careers and are ready to make those things a reality.



Georgetown Green seeks green-friendly campus

Encouraging bicycling is a major part of the green movement.Students are taking the lead in the effort to make the Law Center “as environmentally sustainable as possible,” according to the Georgetown Law Green Committee. The environmentalist group—the product of a merger between a school-supported committee and a student action group—says that Georgetown has made significant strides toward reaching that goal.

“Over the summer we refined and developed a broad composting plan that we’re in the process of implementing now,” said John Litchfield, a member of Georgetown Green.

Litchfield explained, “With Bon Appetit, we worked to replace the plastic and styrofoam in the cafeteria with compostable plates and trays. We added bicycle parking, a bicycle tool kit and worked to bring safe cycling courses to campus with the help of the Washington Area Bicyclists Association.   We distributed a paper use survey to determine opportunities to reduce the paper output on campus.”

Other recent advances include a long-term project that the Green Committee started in 2010. “A major project that we began last fall and worked on throughout the year has been developing an energy services contract to help reduce our carbon footprint while lowering the school’s energy cost. At this point, we are finishing the audit stage of the process and we’ll begin to create a plan of action with our partners, AMERESCO, over the next several months.”

Some members of the Law Center community have sought such green-friendly changes for years.

Litchfield recalled, “Georgetown Green began about four years ago when a group of students in Professor Mari Matsuda’s Social Justice class were challenged to act for a cause that was important to them.  A group of students met with then Dean Aleinikoff  wanting to know what we were doing on campus in the area of sustainability and what more we could do.”

That meeting led to what Litchfield called the “resurrection” of the Green Committee with Dean Therese Stratton as its chair. With four years gone by, the Green Committee then created an outreach arm known as Georgetown Green.

Litchfield said, “This year, we’ve added a student subcommittee for volunteers to help spread the word about our projects and provide feedback on ongoing efforts like our composting and bicycle initiative.”

Students and others who join Georgetown Green usually get involved because, Litchfield said, “they want to make the Law Campus a more environmentally friendly place. Some join to offer advice on our campus sustainability efforts in general, while others work on specific projects in their departments on campus or have personal concerns they want to emphasize such as bike commuting.”

As for how one a community member can join Georgetown Green, Litchfield said, “Staff[ers] are often selected because their positions put them in a place to make a difference on these matters. Students are appointed to the committee by the SBA and provide support in spreading the word to their classmates as well as taking suggestions and feedback to the committee.”

The Green Committee hopes that the student subcommittee will help the Law Center build on its past green-friendly changes, which include a variety of projects.

“Our response to the growing cyclists on campus was successful with the additional racks [and] tool kits,” Litchfield said, explaining the committee’s efforts to support biking to campus. “With the help of IT a bike pool site was created where cyclist who are new to commuting to campus can connect with someone more experienced from their neighborhood to learn the best routes or even ride together.”

The Green Committee has also overseen changes in the way the Law Center uses water. “We’ve installed a number of new water fountains on campus that produces filtered water for your water bottles and thus a few less plastic bottles in the bin.”

Additionally, Litchfield said, “We refined our habitat garden, between the F Street and Clinic entrances, and are working toward getting it certified by the National Wildlife Federation.  We hosted a zero waste event to showcase how it would be done and to encourage student organizations to do the same.  We’ve worked with the Sustainability office at the University to encourage participation in their Green Office certification program encouraging certain behaviors in our administrative offices.”

As for the future, Georgetown Green hopes to keep pushing for more green-friendly campus change.

“Going forward we hope to expand our composting program and implement energy service projects as well as strengthen our cycling and communications initiatives,” Litchfield said. “With the help of the Green Volunteers, we’re hoping to draw more students and community members into our projects to share their ideas for how we can reduce our waste and carbon footprint organically—as compared to rule change efforts.”

Registration for Leahy competition begins

Leahy is perhaps Georgetown’s most high-profile competition.Registration for the annual William E. Leahy Moot Court Competition begins this week. The Leahy competition is a chance for upperclass J.D. students and LL.M. students to join the Appellate Advocacy Division of the Georgetown Barristers’ Council. This is a competitive team doing appellate advocacy, the type of oral argument and writing that happens in the appellate courts of the United States, including the Supreme Court.

Leahy is one of two qualifying competitions for the Appellate Advocacy division, the other, exclu- sively for 1Ls, is held in the spring, the Robert J. Beaudry Moot Court Competition.

 In both competitions, students first prepare briefs from a closed packet of information and case law provided by the Barristers Council, the organization that oversees moot court, as well as the Trial Advocacy and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) teams.

After the brief is done, students will begin to compete in rounds of oral argument, alternately arguing each side of the case. After each round, students will be eliminated based on their scores in the oral argu- ment and briefs, and ultimately there will be one winner. Top students in the competition will also be offered a space on the moot court team.

The team’s 75 members compete in competitions throughout the year. “Appellate members usually compete in an inter-school competi- tion during their first year of mem- bership and then coach an inter- school team during their second year of membership,” said Emily Bruemmer, director of the Appellate Advocacy division of the Barristers Council. “We attend competitions involving both domestic and interna- tional law – including competitions focused on evidence, corporate law, environmental law, national security, telecommunications, immigration, and more.”

Bruemmer emphasized the myriad benefits of being involved in the Appellate Advocacy team.

“It’s an excellent opportunity to improve both written and oral advo- cacy skills – for each competition, participants work collaboratively to submit a written brief and then to prepare for oral argument,” she said. “Competitors also travel to inter- school competitions, from competi- tions at our neighboring schools in D.C. to those as far away as Brazil or Belgium, where they have the oppor- tunity to represent Georgetown and to compete against advocates from other schools across the country and (in the case of international competi- tions) the world.

 

“In addition, the division pro- vides training opportunities with practitioners from the field,” she said. “Students also gain coaching experi- ence during their second year with the  division.  Finally, it’s a terrific opportunity to meet fellow students with like interests.”

 

 Bruemmer also highlighted the successes of last year’s team. The two Georgetown teams swept the region- als of the Frederick Douglass Moot Court Competition and both advanced to nationals. The Georgetown team also reached the finals of the Manfred Lachs Space Moot and the Jessup International Moot Court Super-Regional (with the Georgetown team advancing to the international rounds in Jessup).

Finally, the  team attended the  Inter-American Sustainable Development Moot in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the first time, where the team won Best Petitioner’s Brief.

Registration runs through September 30 this week. The packet of information for the brief and the rest of the competition will be released September 30. Briefs will be due October 10. Finally, the preliminary round of oral argument will begin Thursday October 13.



Astrology is hard on a cloudy day

I wanted to learn about the history of the various astrological signs and got a little — or a lot — carried away. Brief and mildly amusing horoscopes will return next week. I promise.

Courtesy of Elsie esq.’s flickr photostream.

The stars have whitewashed the sky, hiding their light and denying me their wisdom. In spite, I have turned to the history and myths from which the stars have stolen their legitimacy.

Libra

The only zodiac sign that is not represented by a living creature (real or mythological), Libra is represented by the scales. The scales are those that were held by the goddess of justice, making the sign particularly fitting for students of the law.

You will be faced with a serious decision this week that will rouse strong emotions. Take your time, weigh every factor against one another and choose carefully. Also, stay away from bathroom scales, they will tell you the truth – the unpleasant truth.

Virgo

Across multiple cultures, Virgo was associated with fertility (Babylonian), plentiful harvests, and virginity (Greek and Roman). Depicted as the virgin goddess Astraea, she held the scales of the constellation Libra in her hand. Christians of the Middle Ages continued the virgin motif, associating Virgo with none other than the Virgin Mary.

Be fertile and multiply! Ok, maybe you should hold off on that until you finish school. Instead, take this as a reminder to be responsible and safe in any extracurricular activities. It is unlikely that the results will be another Christ child.

Scorpio

The subject of varying myths, one that serves as a parable stands out. The god Orion boasted to Artemis that he could kill any living creature. Artemis, as a protector of all living things, sent the scorpion to put Orion in his place. Orion was killed in the battle, and Zeus raised them both to the heavens as a reminder to avoid excessive pride.

You have accomplished much, and are rightfully proud of what you have done. But don’t let success go to your head. Whatever it is that may separate you from your peers, it is of less significance than you think. Pride leads to overconfidence, which inevitably leads to failure. And no one wants to date a proud jerk.

Saggitarius

Identified by the Babylonians as the god Pabilsag, Saggitarius represented an ancestral figure or forefather. His appearance was less than ideal: he was described as “the wild bull with multicolored wings.”

Think of your future in the long view, if only for a moment.  When you are dead and gone, and grandchildren or great-grandchildren are left behind, what sort of forebear will you have been?  Will you have left a legacy of kindness, accomplishment, and love?  Or will you be remembered as a horrible old crank that, with questionable commitment to ethics and a short-term view, ruined the promise of your life and left a broken name and family?  Alright, that was pretty heavy, you could also imagine yourself being remembered as a wild bull with psychedelic wings – take that, Charlie “warlock-from-mars” Sheen.

Capricorn

A goat with the tail of a fish (which quite honestly seems extremely likely to be naturally selected for extinction). Once the wholly-goat god Pan, this seemingly pointless natural grotesquery had a purpose, as it enabled Pan to escape the clutches of a monster by diving into the Nile river.

You’re a weird bird, but no worries. Even though you cannot imagine what possible advantage your strange combination of traits could possibly confer, advantages they can and do confer – if you let them. Be proud of your affinity with the various cultural archetypes represented by the extraterrestrial species of the Star Trek universe. Don’t hide your passion for Anne Rice under a rock. The Vampire Chronicles are darn good writing – and someone should say so!

Aquarius

An everflowing vase or a cup-bearer of bewitching beauty that caught the eye of Zeus, Aquarius brings water, and thus life.

You will break no new ground this week. Nothing fantastic will be accomplished. But you will bring happiness – the real water of life – to others if only you will be yourself. Make others smile, laugh, and enjoy the moment. This may also be interpreted as license to pour water over a friend’s head, which, incidentally, will bring at least one person some happiness.

Pisces

The goddess Aphrodite and her son Eros, chased by the fire god Typhon, transformed into two fish. They are connected by a string so that they will never lose one another.

Call that friend that you haven’t spoken to in a while. You know, the one from home or college that feels more like a sibling than a friend. When the fire god comes for you – and it will – they will be there to aid your escape, because the string that you’ve tied will keep you from losing one another in the currents of life.

Aries

The golden ram that saved Phrixos from certain doom. Aries was rewarded by being sacrificed to the gods, its skin hung in a temple and immortalized as the Golden Fleece.

Charity with thanks and celebration is not true charity. Charity is thankless and sometimes sacrificed to ridicule and the personal insecurities and golden calves of others. Do it regardless – even if it costs you some skin.

Taurus

A bull across cultures, Taurus represented for ancient Egyptians the renewal that comes with spring. The great bull becoming partially obscured by the sun as the seasons changed.

Times have been tough. Loved ones have been lost and dreams shown as such by harsh reality. But no worry, the inevitability of winter is matched by the certainty of spring. Things are turning around, they always do.

Gemini

The brothers Castor and Pollux, one mortal and one not, united forever in the heavens. Upon Castor’s death, Pollux begged Zeus to grant him immortality by binding them forever in the heavens.

You have been given gifts that are rare and special in this world: your parents and health, the felicity of your place of birth and of the non-occurrence of innumerable accidents. Why you and not another? No person knows (and if they claim to, they are selling something). Share the fruits of these unlabored for benefits with those who, for whatever or no reason at all, have not been so fortunate.

Cancer

A crab.  A crab that was given a task by the goddess Hera: to distract Hercules in his battle with the Hydra so that he might be killed.  Cancer dutifully tried, grabbing onto Hercules’ toe with its claw, but Hercules crushed the little crab with little effort.  Hera was impressed with the little crab’s fruitless but heroic effort and placed it in the sky.

Failure happens.  Tasks are well beyond your capacity, but there is a heroism in the attempt with little chance of success that the predictable victories of more traditional heroes can never know.  “Once more into the breach” and all that it entails.  In all likelihood you will fail, but the reward is in the effort.

Leo

The lion that rises with the banks of the Nile River, heralding the rejuvenating flood that provides valuable moisture and nutrients to the soil. The star in the center of the lion’s breast, Regulus, is one of the brightest in the night sky.

A charge wants for a leader, why not you? A leader doesn’t do the work, they herald the charge and give strength to those that will only follow. Every human endeavor is accomplished on the backs of the following masses, but only by the example of a leader can they deny and defeat the inertia of the status quo.

“Drive” provides strong performances, nods to noir influences

Photo courtesy of ENOUGH Project’s photostream on Flickr.com. Ryan Gosling stars as “Driver” in Nicholas Refn’s film, “Drive.” The film’s minimalistic action scenes function well within its emotional storyline“There are 100,000 streets in this city.”  The opening line in Danish director Nicholas Refn’s film “Drive,” based on a book by James Salis and scripted by Hossein Amini, echoes “The Naked City” (“There are eight million stories in this naked city”), altered to reflect Los Angeles’ most salient characteristic.

“Drive” wears its noir influences on its sleeve, but eschews grit in favor of 80s-style slickness, complete with helicopter shots of downtown LA at night, a synth-heavy score, and even a Purple Rain-esque title card.  Its minimalism and restraint manage to combine a melancholy romanticism with brutal violence without feeling emotionally contradictory.     

Ryan Gosling plays the unnamed lead (credited only as “Driver”), a Hollywood stuntman and mechanic who moonlights as a getaway driver for hire.  When he accepts a job in order to protect his neighbor (Carey Mulligan) and her son, the heist goes awry.  Bryan Cranston plays Driver’s mentor, and Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman play a pair of Jewish gangsters.  The plotting is not revolutionary, but well executed throughout and engaging to watch unfold.    

The direction, however, is superb.  From the opening heist scene, in which Driver plays a cat-and-mouse game with the LAPD, the film is largely shot from within the getaway car, so the audience only knows what the mouse knows as well.    

This minimalism, in an era when action movies compete to show the biggest explosions and most outlandish stunts, serves the film well.  The feel of quietude facilitates the calm, domestic scenes between Gosling and Mulligan. It also makes the punctuating violence, which is typically quick and brutal, all the more affecting.    

“Drive” is full of strong performances, from Albert Brooks playing against type to Bryan Cranston as a more venal and less ruthless version of his character Walter from Breaking Bad.  But “Drive” belongs to Gosling.  Driver’s few lines and minimal characterization in the script itself could have been the avenue for overacting from someone less skilled.  Instead, Gosling reflects Driver’s essential emptiness with the subtlest of tools, such as a slight change in cadence or adjustment of a gloved hand.     

The film is not perfect.  For such a minimal work, the film’s score is overactive.  A greater use of silence and diagetic music would have been more appropriate than synth lines.  Worse, the story does not seem to know what to do with Mulligan, one of her generation’s best actresses.  She elevates the role above that of a mere damsel in distress, but her role in the plot is primarily to motivate Driver.  This is particularly tricky considering that Driver is a mask covering an emotional black hole.

But these are small criticisms considering everything Drive accomplishes so well.

by Colin Finnegan, 2L

Top 10: You Know You’re a Gunner When…

Courtesy themetapicture.comIs “gunnerism” a measure of success, a state of mind, or a disease?  The debate rages on, but here are some symptoms for self-diagnosis.  Look for them on WebMD.
  1. The only time you went to Bar Review is because you thought it was an academic event.
  2. You have pictures of Supreme Court justices in your bedroom (mood killer?)
  3. You use six colors of highlighters to brief cases and they all have a separate meaning.
  4. The only things in your fridge are energy drinks and hot pockets.
  5. You go to BarBri or Kaplan tables in order to snag things other than candy.
  6. You have back cramps from raising your arm in class too much.
  7. You broke up with your significant other because they didn’t make law review.
  8. When reviewing cases in class, you experience bouts of Scalia Tourette’s.
  9. You are starting to look pale and pasty like a cast member from Twilight from spending too much time in the library.
  10. You carry around business cards listing your profession as a “law student.”

Top Ten this week by J.D. Jokester and Prudence Juris, plus four random people