Monthly Archive: January 2008

What’s happening this week

I was appalled to find out that I finished both seasons of Heroes in just one weekend. What to watch this weekend will be another challenge. Finally all grades from the last semester are out this week, and I managed to pass the course that I needed to pass and did well in others. When my prior life as a math nerd started bugging me I made a quick calculation and realized that it is mathematically impossible for me to graduate with a summa cum laude, but that I sort of knew after the first semester of my 1L year. But then it is also mathematically impossible for my grades to dip below a magna, so I am happy with the early verdict–like the projected result that CNN does with elections.

The math nerd in me had also been playing with the idea of coming up with some sort of sentencing guideline to be used with the Qing criminal code. Wouldn’t it be nice, I thought, to have a mathematical formula that summarizes all the seemingly incoherent, highly fact-based Qing penal statutes? Something like: the base offense level of premeditated murder is 10, if a senior relative is the victim, add 2 points, etc, and 12 points gets you immediate decapitation, but if you are the only child of an elderly parent, subtract 8 points, and 4 points gets you 100 beating with the heavy bamboo. But so far my efforts have led nowhere.

When I was bored I went down to the Law Review office in sub-3. I have always loved the wooden block attached to one of the library cards there. The block has a metal printing plate nailed to it, and etched in the plate is a picture of the law quad. It was probably used to print law review publications before the age of computers, and is now retired to the humble status of a library-card-attachment. I asked the managing editor whether I could have it, she said ok, and that made me a very happy man.

The perfect souvenir, to commemorate my law school and law review days. Someone drilled a hole in it to attach the library card.

quad scan copy copy
A scan made from the printing block. This is a view of the Law Quad from across State Street, probably from the top floor of the Michigan Union.

The block itself will probably be framed and displayed in my living room, once I have a living room.


I am not exactly keeping up with blogging these days. I had to stay in Ann Arbor for the weekend, and other than sitting in on law review board interviews, going to the Detroit Auto Show, and watching a Russian folk dance group in the Hill Auditorium, I signed up for Netflix, and spent countless hours watching Heroes online.

Finally I am in Season Two, and the weekend ends.




This Old Train

This time it took 7 hours for the train to get from Chicago to Ann Arbor. We were told after we boarded the train that the engine had not arrived from the yard because it was frozen, so we sat there and waited for the engine to thaw as it started snowing again. Then the usual delaying factors along the way such as yielding to freight trains and “defect detector” problems started to show up. It was about 2 A.M. when we finally got to Ann Arbor. I managed to stop one of the only two cabs at the train station as it was leaving, and begged the driver to take me along. Finally he agreed, and I hopped in as I watched dozens of more people stream off the train heading for the only cab left.

Then the cab driver said, it was even worse on Sunday. The engine broke down halfway and they had to tow another one in. The train didn’t get here until 4 A.M. Then I realized just how lucky I really got.

On the upside, I managed to get a little bit of sleep on the train, and dreamed about the vacation cabin that we are going to rent in the beautiful Sedona, Arizona this time next month.




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Money talk

I must have lost whatever little understanding of economics I once had, thanks to law school. I just realized that it is not the CNY that’s appreciating. It’s the USD that’s depreciating. Then I spent the next half hour thinking whether there is any real difference between the two. I can come up with arguments either way–that appreciation of the one is the depreciation of the other; and that appreciation of the one is not to be confused with the depreciation of the other, and have an urge to locate and to cite a ton of authorities in a dozen of footnotes to support these conflicting positions, and bluebook those footnotes into perfect form. It really is a deeply philosophical question. Are you moving toward that apple, or is that apple moving towards you, or are you and the apple moving towards each other? Newton probably has an answer. But no self-respecting law students cares about Newton and his stupid apple these days. There is no justice or fairness to be sought in an apple, and you can’t punish an apple, unless, of course, it really did hit Newton in the head, in which case it would be a tort and probably a misdemeanor, but whether that in fact happened is debatable, and after this many years the statute of limitations must have run already, so it’s all moot now.

Dollar - Yuan
Yuans per Dollar

Yuans per Euro.

Defect Detector

It seems that the 11:40 p.m. train to Ann Arbor never makes it to the destination before midnight. Today it almost seemed like the train was going to be on time when it stopped right outside of Ann Arbor in the middle of nowhere. The conductor announced over broadcast something to the effect of “we detected a defective defect detector” on the tracks.

Now that’s a mouthful. Over the weekend I fought my inertia and finally sat down to write a few pages of the paper that I need to finish this semester. Between unleashing my unkind comments on affirmative action, I couldn’t stop counting the chores that I have to do before the job starts in September — or is it October. But what does it matter. The last day of my bar exam in July is the first day of Ping’s new job, so either way our free time will mismatch, and there’s a lot of coordination to be done anyhow. Our post-bar exam trip to South America or Europe is now out of the question, so we booked ourselves a trip to Phoenix to go see the Petrified Forest and a dozen of other national parks or monuments over the spring break, and maybe the Grand Canyon again—and to get our passports visa-stamped on the Mexican border just in case we run out of places to visit and want to spend that two grand on airfare back to China this summer.