Thursday, October 21, 2004

URL Time

Only in America... http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3762028.stm

For my gamer friends: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/3762350.stm

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Baseball!!

I saw baseball history being made last night. The Red Sox thrashed the Yankees 10-3, making it the first team in baseball history to win from 3-0. Delightful moment right there. Rooting for the underdog is always fun. Not that I knew too much of the techincalities of the game to really know what I was rooting for...but baseball is sufficiently similar to cricket, so it wasn't too bad.

After a couple of really bad days, I spent Wednesday morning sleeping in. Penalty: missing Evidence. It's tragic cos I love my professor, she livens up the class so much, but sleep is a necessity. Especially after sleeping a grand total of 8 hours in 3 days. Sometimes law's gotta take a backseat, but the guilt never goes away. I heard someone say Law is like a jealous mistress. ALthough I'd never know what a jealous mistress would be like, the sentiment holds good. Once u have a good time on the sly, outside of The Law, the guilt never fully washes off. No matter how much u justify it. I will pass out if I don't eat NOW...Nope, U gotta stick with your Business Associations reading. Living somes second.

The tax competition is really hotting up. So is my RA deadline. And then there are my classes. Constantly clamouring for attention. We are allowed a coach for our tax compettion, so the professor in charge called all of us and held a meeting to get us introduced to our coach. This was 5p.m. Monday...I was so tired and hungry, but had to stay back 4 hours to meet the coach....who never showed up. The prof apologised profusely and said she's gonna make the coach beg us, etc etc. Turns out, it was her fault; she got the day wrong. So then we had a meeting on Tuesday at 5. That day was worse cos I had still not had decent sleep nor food...and that was the day I have classes back to back till 4. We then had a tax library tour...and waited till 5.30 for the coach to show up. Never did. Prof apologised yet again and swore she'd make the bloke pay. When I get back home, I find an e-mail saying it was her fault yet again! Enough said.

So last night I stayed up a bit to watch the Red Sox-Yankees game and The Daily Show. It was funny, but it felt too short. Felt more like a 10 minute show instead of at least 20. Cheating.

Today there's a mock presidential debate at school. My Tax prof is debating for Bush another prof is debating for Kerry. That's on at 4....I'm attending it. It sounds like fun, I'll know if it indeed is later.

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Monday, October 18, 2004

It's 4.05 a.m., and am still unable to sleep. I'm just going to make this an all-nighter.

The weekend was good. I finally managed to go shopping for some sweaters and a pair of warm and cosy jeans. All I have to do now is to get a trench and a blazer. I finished the weekly Secured Transactions reading, which was amazingly short. Not littered with too many Code sections. And then some prep for the ABA Tax competition. This year's problem has apparently been much simplified. I still see stars when I read it. But it promises to hold me mesmerised - it's about a corporate stock plan and its tax consequences. Unfortunately, it involves reading a chapter in my Tax book that isn't covered in my syllabus! Neither is the code provision. So much for that. But it still looks intriguing and if I want to pursue my other plan of becoming a tax attorney, this will definitely come in handy.

Sunday morning SB called and we spoke for a while. SB's parents are in town, so I got to talk to mom for a bit too. It was a weird conversation espcially as we hadn't caught up in some time, plus SB sounded tired. It didn't help that I was in a rush either. For a baptism in the afternoon. Interesting experience. The baby was adorable and well-behaved. Thank god.

And then there was dinner with 3L, Mc-O & Em at Penang. That restaurant has got to be my favourite in Chinese food. Had some yummy food and company, but had to cut the evening short to get home and read Evidence and some more RA work. That stuff just keeps getting more and more engaging. Maybe it's the pay. Nah, it's the substance. Yup, substance. No, really. Substance.

It's 4.20. Adios.

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I decided to get a jumpstart on my Monday, so here I am, at 3.21 a.m., wide awake after reading some of my RA work.

Temple Law School now has a (resuscitated) SALSA - South Asian Law Students Association. Just like APALSA or the JALSA, SALSA is a national organisation, but apparently Temple's SALSA died a couple of years ago when Indians decided they didn't like Temple. This year though, there's been a huge influx of Indian students and one of my friends decided to co-found the SALSA at Temple. I attended its first meeting, which had a decent turnout, surprisingly. I guess the free pizza and sodas helped. I was so impressed by the pizza's quality that I left the meeting as SALSA's Academic Chairperson. It's not official yet....I don't know if it'll be officialised even. But that's the position I hold in APALSA and since APALSA and SALSA are sister organisations and plan on making headway together, I'm assuming I am more or less "officially" the Academic Chair of both.

The networking banquet I attended was very very good. It was held at Montgomery McCracken's office premises, specifically in one of their conference rooms. It was gorgeous. An impressive library, awesome view of the city, and a heavy-duty ornamental chandelier were some of the room's perks. If I were a prospective client who conferred with the associates/partners in that roomm, I'd sign up for life. Even as I'd pay through my nose. The view alone would be worth it.

There were plenty of Asians at the event - both students and practioners. I was talking to a couple of associates from Montgomery McCracken and one of them was a bankruptcy lawyer. My conversation with her proved very illuminating. So I guess am still on course with my bankruptcy dreams. That came out all wrong, didn't it.... But anyway, attending the networking event truly opened my eyes to how the job market in the U.S. works. It's not so much your paper qualifications (although they are mandatory) as much as your contacts, your connections. I'd heard about this but I really understood the importance of the adage that day. Race plays a crucial role in the business community here, and hence all the SALSA, APALSA, BLSA, etc. In fact, one of the primary crowddrawers of these organisations is the contacts they provide their members.

When I attended the first ever SALSA meeting, it was astonishing to see how strong the bond is amongst the Indian community here. They are totally American, in accent, in lifestyle, and of course, aspirations, but they are still, at heart, Indians. There was an instant comaraderie between the people who attended the meeting. Such a bond is apparently what lies out there in the job market too. It seems to be a popular refrain here that successful people always want to see others of "their ilk" succeed. The Chinese and Korean communities want to see the younger generation achieve more. The South Asian community likes to see its youth set the bar even higher. The first thing that the founders (of SALSA) said at the meeting was that they knew a lot of successful South Asian lawyers who would like to extend a helping hand to other South Asians in getting jobs. There is even a mentorship program out there for South Asian students! It seems incredible to me that a nation that has a strong identity independent of race should then have such strong intra-racial ties.

Not that am complaining. Of course. Bring on the jobs!

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Thursday, October 14, 2004

Second & Third Prez Debates

My bubble was burst. Excitement drained. Cynicism oozed in. The second debate was probably one of the longest and most boring debates of all time. I thought it'd be better than the first because it was to focus on domestic issues and the audience posed questions instead of the moderator. But the axiom that sequels do not better the original held. The questions were fake, the questioners were fake, domestic issues were given cursory treatment, and the candidates sounded like a broken record.

There were plenty of numbers and names mentioned, but with both candidates spouting figures a mile long, it didn't make any difference. If Kerry stated a figure on healthcare, Bush would rebutt with a figure on tax. If Kerry declared a heavy figure on education, Bush would fire off another on... tax. If Kerry quoted a figure on tax, Bush would meet him with a figure on... tax. Yea, that's how exciting it was.

However, my law school friends disagreed with me. I watched the second debate with Godfather, JP, Pyromaniac, 3L and Token, all (except one) law students. JP and 3L especially thought "Kerry wiped the floor with Bush". I guess. BBC disagreed, saying Bush drew even with Kerry because of this debate. My friends' view was that Kerry's plan and vision were missing from his campaign and he removed that deficiency with this debate. Also, they felt the repetition on the war in Iraq was necessary because that's what Bush screwed up most. I was just disappointed not to see a more engaging debate. I would've liked to see more details, what the Patriot Act does (or doesn't), what the figures they used mean, how Kerry would create more jobs, etc. None of that, unfortunately. All in all, a terribly disappointing and bleak debate.

Oh, Bush displayed more bluster and bullying. Big deal.

The third debate was much better. Both candidates came off stronger, Bush, particularly, improved tremendously. He must've worked hard. By coming in on Sundays.... if that's what it took (those of you who missed the season premiere of Saturday Night Live...watch the spoof of the first debate. Brilliance.). He'd lost some of his overt aggression. But he promptly replaced it with weird laughter. Was that to show the audience that Kerry wasn't scaring him? Don't think it helped.

This debate focused a lot on domestic issues. I was glad to see the moderator throw some hard and controversial questions at the candidates. The questions on a constitutional amendment on the issue of gay marriages, abortion, outsourcing, and Kerry's Catholic faith were hard-hitting and, to me, tested the true mettle of the candidates. Kerry showed the most polish and intelligence in tackling those questions. I liked the fact that he never once openly insulted Bush and indeed, paid him a compliment. But he didn't back down on picking holes in Bush's policies either. The right balance of being competitive and respectful simultaneously. It says a lot about the man. Kerry ultimately comes off a nice bloke. If the American public don't want a nice man at the helm, then Bush walks off with the vote.

Quotes from the debates:

Kerry: "Orwellian label from the sky"

Bush: "armies of compassion" (my personal favourite)

Transcript of the third (and final) debate:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/debatereferee/debate_1013.html?referrer=email

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Thursday, October 07, 2004

No more URLs

Really. I get free food tonight. Hosted by a large firm in Philly (Montgomery McCraken), it's a banquet/dinne, much touted as a worthy networking opportunity. So am going to be all dressed up (if you call a blac k suit "dressed up") and ready to kiss some corporate ass. But basically this just goes to show that so long as you dangle free food and a possible job opportunity, law students are game.

This is the first event of its kind for me, so I'm looking forward to it. I'm sure I'll have more to say on the banquet tomorrow, when I'll, hopefully, have some material on the second Presidential Debate too. Otherwise, my day looks mundane - Business Associations at 11 & Secured Transactions at 1. Oh, I got a Research Assistant position with my ST prof. I can finally afford to eat thrice a day. (Hope people know I'm kidding....)

It's an interesting topic, regardless of any monetary benefits - lawyers' liability to third parties. I guess to a lot of people, that sounds dry as dead hay, but I think it's a great topic, and most certainly one that directly impinges upon me..or the future me, to be more precise. I'm looking forward to starting work on that project. Stay tuned for more on the same. I promise to bore you.

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Some more URLs

I scoured the Economist a few days ago and found these:

Human rights & the Post-911 U.S.A. - http://www.economist.com/opinion/displayStory.cfm?story_id=2173160

China's new power structure - http://www.economist.com/opinion/displayStory.cfm?story_id=3220315

An unexpected twist on stereotypes in business - http://www.economist.com/business/displayStory.cfm?story_id=3209530

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VP debate URLs

For a complete transcript:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/debatereferee/debate_1005.html


An interesting article on some contents of the debate:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/3723090.stm

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Vice Presidential Debate - 5 October

There's no way to soften the blow - Edwards kicked the Democratic party on the shin. And again. And again.

The debate started off with a question on Iraq. If I had had my eyes closed, I would have thought it was a re-cast of the first Presidential debate. Unfortunately, I had my eyes open. As well as my ears. And I heard this, loud and clear:

" (T)he reality you and George Bush continue to tell people, first, that things are going well in Iraq -- the American people don't need us to explain this to them, they see it on their television every single day."

One expects better from a lawyer, a high profile lawyer at that. The implication that the American people can see that things are going well totally undermined, in my opinion, any credibility Edwards might have had as making an able VP. Edwards is already shadowed by a strong public sentiment that he might be overwhelmed and incapable of handling that important a job. For him to then start off his part of the debate with a mistake as glaring as that, just cannot augur well. Not like the rest of it was all that great.

Every question he fielded was answered in the same manner - John Kerry's manner. In John Kerry's words.

We lost more troops in September than we lost in August; lost more in August than we lost in July; lost more in July than we lost in June.

There are Republican leaders, like John McCain, like Richard Lugar, like Chuck Hagel, who have said Iraq is a mess and it's getting worse.

They also didn't have a plan to win the peace. They also didn't put the alliances together to make this successful.

Anyone who has seen the first Presidential debate would recognise those words, those themes. They made the debate substantive, meaty. They made John Kerry look good and credible, for the first time, for all to see. Not as a flip-flopper, but as someone who, in Kerry's own words, "has a plan". All that was great. But hearing the same words 4 days later, by a VP-hopeful, wasn't all that great.

Not just did he utter those words, his body language also smacked of John Kerry Preparatory School. I suppose one can't say much about that in words, so I'm going to let that be.

Cheney, on the other hand, came across as a polished and self-assured guy. He seemed to have the facts at his finger-tips and used them well against Edwards' rather personal and aggressive attacks. His political experience spoke volumes, even though he didn't. What I remember most about Cheney's side of the debate was his response (or the lack thereof) to the question of gay marriage. Edwards had just said that he respects and admires the fact that Cheney and his wife have come out in the open about their daughter being homosexual. In reply, Cheney said:

CHENEY: Well, Gwen, let me simply thank the senator for the kind words he said about my family and our daughter.
I appreciate that very much.

IFILL: That's it?

CHENEY: That's it.

And that was it. That, to me, indicates Cheney's strength as a person. Instead of weasling his way around the issue, he chose to not drag his family further into the fray. He picked the right moment to do this, and chose the right manner to boot. His body language spoke louder than his reply. He came across as a down-to-earth guy, one who does not bother much with ideals, leaving them, instead, to the President, and yet, someone who has convictions and stands by them. He was a tough opponent to beat in yesterday's debate. And Edwards didn't beat him.

And yet, Edwards had his strengths. His forte, clearly, was domestic issues. I must admit, I missed a good chunk of the debate because I was so put off by the miserable quality of it. Fortunately, I caught the last 45 minutes of the debate - the domestic policy segment of it. And Edwards was stupendous. He showed his firm knowledge of the law in matters such as healthcare, gay rights, and taxes. I liked his response to the question involving flip-flopping - it was concise, hard-hitting, and yet, flowed very smoothly. I'm pasting the entire segment on flip-flopping below, so it might be a tad long. The question: What's wrong with a little flip-flop every now and then?

EDWARDS: Well, first of all, let me say that John Kerry has -- I can use his name now?

IFILL: Yes.

EDWARDS: OK. John Kerry has been, as have I, been completely consistent about Iraq. We've made very clear from the beginning -- and not an afterthought; we said it at the time -- that we had to confront Saddam Hussein and that we had to have a coalition and a plan to be successful.
And the vice president didn't say much about it in your earlier question, but Paul Bremer has now made clear that they didn't have enough troops and they didn't have a plan.
And the American people are seeing the results of that every single day, in spite of the proud and courageous service of our men and women in uniform.

Now, flip-flops: They should know something about flip-flops. They've seen a lot of it during their administration. They were first against the 9/11 Commission; then they were for it. They were for a department of homeland security -- I mean, they were against the Department of Homeland Security; then they were for it.

They said they were going to put $2 trillion of the surplus when they came into office aside to protect Social Security; then they changed their minds. They said that they supported the troops; and then while our troops were on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, they went to the Congress and lobbied to have their combat pay cut.

They said that they were going to do something about health care in this country. And they've done something: They've made it worse.

They said that they were going to fund their No Child Left Behind; $27 billion short today.

Over and over, this administration has said one thing and done another. This president said -- I listened to him the other night at his 2000 debate saying: I'm for a national patients bill of rights. I know something about this. John McCain and Senator Kennedy and I wrote it, got it passed in the Senate. We don't have a patients bill of rights because of one man today, the president of the United States. They've gone back and forth.

No bluster, no hesitance, very good flow. That's what we want to see more of, Mr. Edwards. Not an eager-beaver attitude, no rude interruptions, no repetition of Kerry's linguistic and physical styles at the podium.

One thing that bothered me throughout the debate was Edwards' seeming adoration of John Kerry. The number of times he mentioned Kerry's name and Kerry's ideology was mind-boggling. To me, it says he's looking at Kerry starry-eyed. I'm not sure I want a VP like that. I want someone who has his own opinions about issues, someone who respects the President but also recognises his flaws, someone who gives the confidence to the American populace that he will stand up for his convictions in the Oval Office. Just for the sheer diversity of ideas, I'm not sure I want a VP who seems to have boundless adulation for his President. I realise that there is an argument to be made for a co-operative VP, but I don't buy it. Edwards reminded me too much of a puppy that puts its master on a pedestal. And I don't want no dawg for a VP.

But then, am no American.

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Monday, October 04, 2004

Monday blues

Back to school after a restful weekend. Evidence at 11; hopefully it'll provide a good start to my week, academically.

I made the awesome-est tofu stir-fry, Indian style! Such good stuff....yummm... Since I made it in bountiful quantities, I don't have to worry about dinner/lunch for the next couple of days. That's a relief.

Attended a house party on Friday night - very good crowd. Law school people turned out in droves...not surprising since it was a law student who hosted it. Ventured out at 2.30am for some pizza and wings....hit the sack at 4..and was up by 10, reading for Secured Transactions. Great way to start a weekend, really. I was very productive all Saturday, finishing up my work for my classes this week. Am now more or less on top of it all. Boy, am I proud of me or what.

But the thing about law school is that just when u think you're done, something else shows up. The Pennsylvania Superior Court is holding a session at school tomorrow. Since that's earlier than my classes, it eats into my reading time, but hey, it's the PA Superior Court! Can't be missed for anything. I'm excited; as excited as I could be on a Monday morning. But, I console myself with the thought of Everwood tonight. Yup, good show - good plot line, acting, and idyllic scenery. Everything needed to make Monday night TV worthwhile. Chase away the Monday blues with Everwood. Right.

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Friday, October 01, 2004

URLs

For a complete trancript of the debate:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/debatereferee/debate_0930.html

I had hoped to put up a fellow blogger's post on the debate here, but he has taken his post off.


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First Presidential Debate - 30 September 2004

I was all fired up for my first ever live U.S. Prez debate last night. The Democrats Society at law school was getting together to watch the event but since it started so late (9.00 p.m.), I decided to give the public viewing a miss and go home. I caught the debate, all 90 mins of it. It was exciting and insightful - to the extent that anything political can be. I guess what was so refreshing about the event was that, for once, the candidates were going to speak without cribsheets - for the most part. No scripts, more or less. And it was interesting to see a lawyer beat the pants off an MBA graduate :)

I regret to say, Kerry made the first goof up - "Islamic Muslims". What the ...?! What other kind of Islamic people would u have?? The Islamic Hindus? Islamic Jews? He then followed that up with "... there are a list of things wrong..." It was disappointing to spot the initial mistakes from Kerry - a lawyer, and, in my opinion, the better candidate. But that said, Bush came back with some priceless gems. I didn't catch any bloopers on his part like "Islamic Muslims", but that's mainly because he... took.... his... time... in... answering... questions. He had so many pauses in between his words that they were pregnant, delivered, and begat their own offspring. It was actually painful to see his struggle for the right words.

Speaking of "right" words, what was with Bush's ubiquitous "wrong war, wrong place, wrong time" refrain? It almost seemed like when he didn't have anything decent to come up with, he'd fall back on that mantra. The first time he used it, I have to admit, I thought it was a catchy phrase, albeit a terrible point to make as a rejoinder to Kerry. But when he then proceeded to fall so madly in love with it that he began using it every time his cribsheets failed him, it became exhausting.

Kerry won the debate from the get-go. His responses were precise, more spontaneous, had more flow, and sounded intelligent. He also had poise and sophistication in his arguments, made more convincing because of his firm grasp of facts. Kerry had a neat way of wrapping up every single one of his speeches, be they a direct answer or rebuttal. It was a joy to hear his smooth tyransitions. More importantly, they came across as easy, and not slick. Bush, on the other hand, clearly had been coached repeatedly. He lacked poise - the number of times he sounded like a school yard bully is a disgrace to the Presidency. He came across as an abrasive frat boy who had just had his ego punctured. Classic example:

KERRY: Jim, the president just said something extraordinarily revealing and frankly very important in this debate. In answer to your question about Iraq and sending people into Iraq, he just said, "The enemy attacked us." Saddam Hussein didn't attack us. Osama bin Laden attacked us. al Qaeda attacked us.

BUSH: First of all, of course I know Osama bin Laden attacked us. I know that.

What was that?? The body language that went along with Bush's reply made it mortifyingly obvious that he got flustered by Kerry's well made point, and had taken it as a personal affront that his confusion of who the enemy was was being shown up on national TV. I could not believe at that moment that that bloke has held the Presidency for as long as has. Yet another example of when Bush let his guard down was when he injected the issue of the International Criminal Court from nowhere.

BUSH: Let me -- I'm not exactly sure what you mean, "passes the global test," you take preemptive action if you pass a global test. My attitude is you take preemptive action in order to protect the American people, that you act in order to make this country secure. My opponent talks about me not signing certain treaties. Let me tell you one thing I didn't sign, and I think it shows the difference of our opinion -- the difference of opinions. And that is, I wouldn't join the International Criminal Court. It's a body based in The Hague where unaccountable judges and prosecutors can pull our troops or diplomats up for trial.

It looks a LOT better in text form than it did when he uttered those words on TV. And that's saying a lot.

To give credit where it's due though, Bush did connect with the crowd just that tad bit more. He had the better sense of humour - when asked what he thought of Kerry's character, Bush responded with an off-the-cuff, "That's a loaded question." He then went on to say, "I won't hold it against him that he went to Yale. There's nothing wrong with that. " That showed a sponeity in him that previously hadn't come through. I shudder when I think of those few excruciating moments when Bush tried to induce some emotion in his voice when talking about troops lives being lost in Iraq. Not the kind of glaringly blatant fake grief one expects to see from the President.

Ultimately, Kerry was the better debator. He never once lost his poise, and yet, did not appear at any time like a smooth-operator. I enjoyed watching him debate - it was an intellectually stimulating dance to some kick-ass music with a great partner who knew what he was doing.

Oh, one final point, it was great to see Kerry take notes wile Bush was speaking, and use his self-made notes in his rebuttal speeches. Wonder where Bush gathered his material from.

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Lame post

I have so much material but am kinda sleepy too. But suffice it to say, a punch-in-the-gut post about the job hunt in the legal industry and tonight's Presidential Debate is in the offing. Tomorrow, it'll be up and running.

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