Land-o-Links – 5/10/2008

A few links for the weekend:

(1) The Conservative Revival (New York Times) – David Brooks has long been one of the more sensible conservative political commentators out there and this column is an example of this. Right after the 2006 midterm elections, I wrote a lengthy post about how disaffected I was with the Republican Party from the libertarian standpoint. Brooks points out that the Conservative Party in Britain is on the ascent since it’s embracing a different social agenda while still adhering to its fiscally conservative principles. The party in our country that is able to mirror what the Tories have done will get my support.

(2) Your Friday Coaching Search Update (Blog-a-Bull) – Let me just start off by saying that I could have very easily turned this blog into “Frank the Tank’s Rantings About the Bulls” for at least until the conclusion of this year’s NBA Draft and really through the free agency period (which would almost bring us right to the start of next season), but I’m trying to exercise some self-restraint. It’s good to see that we didn’t have to go down the road of Rick Carlisle with his new deal with Mark Cuban and I’ve been actually getting increasingly excited about the prospect of Mike D’Antoni on the sidelines at the United Center. While he doesn’t have the defensive philosophy that John Paxson has long preached, it’s clear that the Bulls needed a complete readjustment in attitude which is what the almost-former Suns coach would provide. Granted, the Bulls don’t have the personnel on offense to come close to the scoring proficiency of D’Antoni’s Suns teams, but we are a team that is capable of playing uptempo (which is how the Bulls took down the Heat in the playoffs last year). The one thing that I don’t want to hear about from the Bulls is how much D’Antoni might cost in terms of salary, especially with the offer that the Knicks have thrown on the table. I’ve actually been an overall defender of Jerry Reinsdorf over the years (as Ozzie Guillen “eloquently” pointed out this week, Reinsdorf is the Chicago owner with seven rings), but if the Bulls really want D’Antoni, they had better put their best efforts forward. While the White Sox might be a mid-market team that happens to be located in a large market (and I’m saying this as a huge Sox fan) which at least allows for a tenuous argument about payroll limits on their end, the Bulls are a legitimate marquee NBA franchise on pretty much every financial and media metric (on a related note, Minneapolis Red Sox and I had a back-and-forth on where the Bulls place on the Chicago sports scene a couple of weeks ago), so I don’t want to hear a peep from that organization about how much a coach of D’Antoni’s caliber might cost. Reinsdorf and Paxson just need to get this deal done.

(UPDATE:  Apparently, D’Antoni has now taken the Knicks job because the Bulls wouldn’t match their offer.  I’m seriously THIS close to making Frank the Tank’s Rantings About the Bulls into an entirely separate blog since there’s so much material to be mined.  This is what we get from the third most valuable and second most profitable franchise in the NBA.)

(3) Law Firms and Layoffs: Who Are the Most Vulnerable? (Wall Street Journal Law Blog) – There’s always a question as to whether law firms provide more steady employment for lawyers than being in other environments (i.e. corporations, government, etc.). In the end, like most other work environments, it’s the people in the middle that get squeezed.

And finally…

(4) Hyping Sidney Crosby Won’t Help the NHL Win Over New Fans (Slate) – There’s been little movement from my modest proposal to save the NHL from a couple of years ago, although the Blackhawks have finally figured out that VHF exists.

Land-o-Links – 7/25/2007

Some random links to take your mind off of point shaving and dog fighting:

(1) No Objections Here (Washington Post) – Here’s the pecking order at large law firms from someone with first hand knowledge: (1) partners, (2) summer associates, (3) administrative and support staff, and (4) full-time associates.

(2) The Race is on for the ‘God  Particle’ (New York Times) – This could turn out to be Fermilab’s magnum opus.

(3) This Never Would Have Happened at Marshall Field’s (Chicagoist) – I used to eat downstairs at the State Street store formerly known as Marshall Field’s all of the time when I worked on the east end of the Loop back in the day.  This won’t be happening much in the future, though.

(4) New Lion House Space Opens (Chicago Tribune) – No real comment here other than that I’ve always loved the Lincoln Park Zoo and the link has a picture of a red panda.

And finally…

(5) Remembering Harry Caray’s Last Broadcast (Deadspin) – Even as a Sox fan, I miss the voice calling out for Arne to check out the guy in the sombrero.  R.I.P., my man.

Land-o-Links – 4/4/2007

As we close out the college basketball season (the Final Four was pretty anticlimatic and Lord help me if Joakim Noah ends up in a Bulls uniform), say hello to Major League Baseball (I’m getting a sickening feeling that this is the year that the arm of Jose Contreras falls off), and head out to Augusta for the Masters (despite the fact that breaking 100 would be a stellar round of golf for me, this is one of my favorite sporting events of the year), here are some links:

(1) Welcome to the Megaprogram Era (ESPN.com) – As I alluded to last week in pointing out that Billy Donovan would be off of his rocker to leave Florida for Kentucky, Pat Forde tackles the subject of top-tier college football schools building up their basketball programs in-depth.  I’ve actually wanted to put together a list of colleges that I thought excelled at supporting the two main revenue sports for awhile, but Forde beat me to it here (along with listing those that aren’t doing a good job in one sport or the other despite a lot of time, effort, and money).  Please note the very familiar Big Ten school located in central Illinois that he calls “the ultimate football underachiever”.

(2) Billy Packer’s Curious Choice of Words (Deadspin) – Shockingly, this interview was with Charlie Rose rather than Jay Mariotti.

(Confession: There’s only one person in the United States under the age of 70 that watches The Charlie Rose Show on a semi-regular basis.  That person is me.)

(3) You Say You Want a Big-Law Revolution (WSJ.com Law Blog) – For those of you that have access to the Wall Street Journal Online, you can check out how some law students put together a “manifesto”, for the lack of a better word, regarding the treatment of attorneys in large law firms.  As one of the big-law associates that this seems to be aimed at protecting, I’d say that this is very cute.

(4) Vermont Becomes ‘Offshore’ Insurance Haven (New York Times) – The home of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Birkenstocks, and insurance companies hacking their tax bills with the tact of Tony Montana.

(5) Cubs for Sale, but is Wrigley Field (Chicago Tribune) – As anyone that has worked in the commercial real estate industry knows, new Tribune Company owner Sam Zell is a true genius that makes Donald Trump look like a mom-and-pop landlord.  This brings up the interesting prospect of selling Wrigley Field separately from the Cubs in order to maximize what has become one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in the country outside of the coasts.  I see the business logic in this from Zell’s perspective and sale-leaseback transactions are pretty common in the real estate world (i.e. a company sells off its physical headquarters to raise cash and then immediately enters into a long-term lease to occupy that same space), but I don’t see why any prospective buyer of the Cubs would want the club without the ballpark.  For better or for worse, Wrigley Field is what makes the Cubs organziation a cash cow regardless of how the team performs on the field, so I would think that the future owner of the club would want complete control over what is simply considered to be a high-profile piece of real estate in the Tribune deal.

On a related note, my feeling is that the people’s choice of Mark Cuban as owner of the Cubs is far-fetched.  Chicago Heights native, long-time Phoenix Suns owner, and former Arizona Diamondbacks owner and Illini basketball and baseball player Jerry Colangelo seems to be a much more likely choice since he is well-versed in the politics of Major League Baseball, which is a more difficult hurdle to get past than having or raising enough cash.  I also wouldn’t be shocked if an outsider such as the Dolan family (the Cablevision scions that ruined the Knicks) or Daniel Snyder (the marketing wunderkind that ruined the Redskins) enters into the race since they have more than enough money and the Cubs would seem to fit into their broader media portfolios well.  If all else fails, I can see Minneapolis Red Sox start taking up a collection fund to buy the Cubbies up.  I’ll stay away from that one, though.

And finally…

(6) What Will They Do For an Encore? (Siberia, Minnesota) – Speaking of Minneapolis Red Sox, here’s a video that he posted that seems even more poignant in the wake of another Ohio State failure against Florida.  On that note, my college sports predictions will mercifully be put on ice until the fall.

Land-o-Links for 2/23/2007

As we head into the weekend, here is a mix of random news and sports links:

(1) PTAs Go Way Beyond Cookies (New York Times) – It was only a matter of time before Gordon Gecko started taking over PTA meetings.

(2) But Do They Cover This in Those Big Green Books? (Wall Street Journal Law Blog) – We crazy lawyers have outdone ourselves this time.  It’s not unusual to see a class action lawsuit filed.  However, it’s very unusual to see a class action lawsuit filed on behalf a group of… lawyers.  For what it’s worth, I’ll gladly take a $125 settlement from Bar/Bri (a monopolistic racket that puts Microsoft and Major League Baseball to shame), so the lead plaintiffs here need to simmer down.

(3) It Really is Time We Had a Trade or Two (True Hoop) – I think we’ve gotten to the point where the NBA trade deadline might very well be the most anti-climactic day in sports.  Every year, hoops fans banter on for months about viable swaps involving superstars yet no one ever pulls the trigger.  This season saw Jason Kidd and Pau Gasol added on to the rumor mill with perennial trade bait Kevin Garnett, which all ended up being a ton of hot air.  I mean, Isiah Thomas didn’t even get to give away another draft pick this year.

Note to Timberwolves GM Kevin McHale: for the love of God, trade KG to the Bulls already.  You’re on the outside looking in for the Western playoff race once again with the same old lineup.  You could’ve nabbed two of the Bulls’ top three players – Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich, and/or Ben Gordon – plus a potential boon of a draft pick this summer in a trade that would’ve aided both teams by giving the T-Wolves a strong base of young players that are already playoff-tested and putting the Bulls in position to fully take advantage of what will surely turn out to be the last couple of productive seasons for Ben Wallace immediately, yet you continue to be maddeningly stubborn.  This is another missed opportunity for everyone involved.

(4) Smith on Bench a Bad Idea (Mark Tupper Weblog) – For all of the national attention on the last dance for Chief Illiniwek on Wednesday (which I didn’t get to see live since I’m not one of the five people in the country that gets ESPNU), the larger concurrent issue for the Illinois basketball program is the awful cloud surrounding Jamar Smith’s criminal charges and the appearance of him being more worried about saving his own hide as opposed to Brian Carlwell’s life.  As much as I loved Jamar’s shooting touch, there’s no place in the Illini program for someone that completely disregarded his moral responsibilities to his teammate, much less the legal aspect of it all.  I’m sure that Bruce Weber and Ron Guenther will eventually make the right call here.

And finally…

(5) Foxy Brown Arrested in South Florida Over Hair Glue, Spitting Incident (AllHipHop.com) – I’m sure that everyone has gone ballistic in a beauty shop at one time.  But twice???

Supreme Crutch of the United States

The U.S. Senate is in the midst of another Supreme Court justice confirmation hearing, which means, yet again, we’re going to endure several more days of politicians grilling a nominee on issues that they are too scared or lazy to resolve themselves.  Indeed, current nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr. spent most of yesterday getting hammered on questions regarding abortion and presidential powers.  These are certainly important potential issues that the Supreme Court may need to review over the coming years, but only because the politicians on both sides of the aisle who supposedly make our nation’s laws are deferring their role as advocates for their constituents on the tough issues to the court system.

The American public has been subjected to several years of predictions of apocalyptic scenarios from both political parties about how one vote change on the Supreme Court could completely alter the landscape regarding issues such as abortion, presidential powers, civil liberties, gay marriage, corporate ethical obligations, the teaching of evolution and intelligent design in public schools, etc.  Even if this were the case, and I really believe that the doomsday scenarios are overblown (by all accounts, the overall lack of interest in the hearings outside of partisan interest groups shows that most Americans agree with me), the politicians willingly allowed this to happen through their actions or, more commonly, their collective inaction.  The two major political parties let this happen because if they actually backed up their words with legislative action, they wouldn’t have an easy judicial bogeyman to blame to score votes and fundraising dollars from their respective bases.

Take the Democrats, for instance, on the issue of presidential powers.  They overwhelmingly supported the Patriot Act the first time around, yet now claim during the Act’s renewal process that President Bush has overstepped his bounds and that government agencies are trampling over civil liberties.  Even worse, a number of Senate Democrats like Ted Kennedy and Patrick Leahy, who supported the bill originally, are now blaming Dubyah for “ramming through” the provisions of the Patriot Act.  Wait a second – didn’t these guys actually read an act that many people believe (for the record and in case you were wondering, I don’t personally believe this) was a clear trampling of people’s rights before they gave it their full-fledged support?  And now they’re worried about some memos and speeches Samuel Alito wrote supporting a more expansive view of president’s authority under the Constitution.  Ignorance of the text of the law should never be an excuse for voting for it in the first place.

At the same time, the Republicans could have made substantive moves for its social conservative wing by advancing a partial-birth abortion bill that actually passed constitutional muster.  By constitutional muster, I mean that any ban on partial-birth abortion had to have an exception to law where the procedure was medically necessary to protect the health of the mother.  If the Republicans had simply done this, there would be a partial-birth abortion ban in place today.  Instead, the Republican Congress (along with a whole lot of Democrats from red states and districts), knowing full well that it wouldn’t survive a Supreme Court challenge, passed a bill banning partial-birth abortion without the medical exception.  Like the Democrats regarding presidential powers, the Republicans used the Supreme Court as a crutch by stating that the judiciary had made the definition of a medically necessary too broad.  As a result, the Republicans were able to milk another election year’s worth of campaign donations to fight liberal “activist” judges.

So, when politicians from both parties trumpet over the coming days on how Samuel Alito will be the deciding vote on a plethora of issues, they may be right, but they have only themselves to blame for putting America in this situation.  Legislators have shirked their responsibilities to make the laws in the midst of the fervor over the judges are merely charged with interpreting those laws.

Smackdown on the Down Low: Diamond Dallas Page v. Jay-Z

“Pro wrestler-turned-yoga guru” Diamond Dallas Page is suing Jay-Z for trademark and copyright infringement over the use of the “Diamond Cutter” hand symbol.  This is the type of story, sent to me last week by my buddy Matt, that made me want to become a lawyer.

 jay-z-inside-120705.jpgdiamond-dallas-page-insidesmall-120705.jpg

After discussing this case with my boss (a real productive use of time), this is probably not going to end well for the world’s foremost pro wrestler/yoga guru, but it’s not as crazy of a case as it looks at face value.

Regarding the copyright infringement allegation, artistic expressions are one of the main areas that the Copyright Act intends to protect.  I know what you’re thinking… how can a hand gesture be an artistic expression?  Well, think of it this way – at Juilliard, the world’s preeminent fine arts school, students can study music, drama, and, most importantly for the purposes of this case, danceIt is well established that a choreographed work, which at its core is body movement, is artistic expression and copyrightable as long as it is in a tangible medium (i.e. a live performance is recorded on tape).  As a result, it’s not too far of a stretch that a hand gesture might fall under this category.

However, it may be difficult to show that a short hand gesture meets the copyright requirement of being the “fruits of intellectual labor” because of its brevity.  For instance, short phrases or dance moves are not copyrightable.  A hand gesture might be too short in its execution for anyone to be able to claim a copyright.

The problem for Diamond Dallas Page is that the copyright infringement allegation is probably the stronger of the two claims.  The brevity of the hand gesture doesn’t matter in a trademark infringement claim, but proving confusion is an essential element.

From the article, it looks like Diamond Dallas is basing his trademark infringement argument on that the public is being confused as to the source of the Diamond Cutter – Diamond Dallas’ attorney claims that people are starting believe that the pro wrestler/yoga guru borrowed it from Jay-Z instead of the other way around.  However, this really isn’t the intent of the confusion test.  Instead, a court would probably focus on whether Jay-Z is trying to confuse the public by using the Diamond Cutter in order to pass himself off as Diamond Dallas or benefit from the association economically with Diamond Dallas.  Based on the minimal facts that are in the article, both of those scenarios would be extremely hard for the pro wrestler/yoga guru to prove.

P.S.  If this goes to trial, could you imagine the showdown between Diamond Dallas’ entourage and Jay-Z’s posse in the courtroom?  Court TV needs to show every moment of this trial.

P.P.S.  On another Jay-Z note from Matt, I’ll be looking for my 2003 Mitchell & Ness Jay-Z retirement jersey under the tree next week.  This will go right next to my 1998 Michael Jordan and 2003 Roger Clemens jerseys.