* "Blogging is a pie eating contest in which the prize is: more pie." (Via Scott Greenfield.) Years ago Norm Pattis and I were in the zone, and had incredible readership at Crime & Federalism. Modesty aside, the blog was hot. Got too hot, and that's actually what burned us both out. People wanted a piece of you. They wanted links. People would get angry when they'd post a comment that we wouldn't reply to. (Comments are for you, not me, and thus I generally don't respond to them. My turf is the post, and yours is the comments.)
People who had never done anything for you - and never would - would send you repeated e-mails asking why you haven't linked to their site. It really made me hate people more than I already did. If you think a link from me is so valuable, why not offer me a bottle of wine or something as thanks? Or add me to your site, and throw some traffic my way? Entitlement is not simply an issue of younger lawyers, as older - Boomer-age - lawyers were the worst offenders.
Some people got off on that kind of attention. I hated it, and even today don't blog using my last name. Indeed, Norm and I were talking about Glenn Beck. When I said, "He might be the only man I am jealous of. I could do that, and thus should making that money!" His question stopped me, "Then what's stopping you?" Truth is, I would not want to be the next Glenn Beck. The neediness of an audience his size would suck out my soul - which no amount of money can replace.
As with most talks with Norm, it was a valuable reminder of philosophical first truths. When we speak of envy, we look only at what the person has - and never at what the person gives up. A circumspect understanding of envy demands that we look at what the person gave up to make their money. The closer I get to people with money, the less regret I have for choosing to not seek money over all other things.
* Mickey Sherman is financially ruined. We had a particularly smug classmate who failed the bar exam. Pupils dilated when, upon hearing the news, I said, "Good. He's a fucking prick and I hope his life is miserable." People who thought I was some sort of sadist, replied, "I wouldn't wish failing the bar exam on anyone." Why not?
Do you want people going around hurting others? Why? You say that only "God" can judge, but when you yourself refuse to abide someone, have you not made a judgement about the person?
When bad things happen to bad people, that's pleasing to me. I'm so sick of pretending that every bad thing that happens to a person is some sort of tragedy. Michael Skakkel is in prison for the rest of his life because Sherman was too busy being a celebrity to defend his client. Sherman took millions from the Kennedy family to defend a case. Then he passed the leg work off to a couple of 20-something lawyers. Instead of lawyering, Sherman was riding in limousines to TV interviews.
Tonight, some kid is getting raped in a foster home. Some kid who never did anything to anyone. That's the kid's life. When bad things happen to the good - which is just another way of saying, innocent - then we should respond with feeling. When bad things happen to the guilty, why care?
I honestly hope that Sherman's convictions for tax evasion cost him a chance at taking over Larry King Live. When you take millions from someone to do a job, and then refuse to do the job, why should we pretend that there is no karmic debt on the ledger?
When bad things happen to good people, the universe if off balance. When, however, bad things happen to bad people, we should take pleasure in the rare spiritual equilibrium.
* Are there "bad" books? Norm Pattis thinks not: "There are no such things as bad books. But there are bad men." Yes, there are bad men, but how are bad men created?
The Budda taught, "We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world." America's greatest thinker, Ralph Waldo Emerson, noted: "Life consists in what a man is thinking of all day." Roman philosopher Marcus Aurelius observed: "The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it."
Books seed thoughts. Thought precedes action, and so negative thoughts lead to negative action. Thus, some books are indeed bad.
Those who disagree could perform this thought experiment: Read Meditations every night before bed. See if you're not calmer after 30 days. Pick up some Arthur Schopenhauer, and see if don't become something of an asshole. Think of anyone you know who is really into Nietzsche or Any Rand. While correlation doesn't prove causation, when 100% of people who read certain authors are mother fuckers, the duty shifts to you to provide an alternative explanation.
Of course, this divergent view is moot. While knowing there are bad books, I also know not to trust Connecticut prison guards to identify those books. And thus like most things in life, it's a disagreement without a difference.
* More on the AIG Bailouts. Every article about these bailouts is pretty infuriating. They all point to the same law - which is no longer a hypothesis or even theory, but the First Law of the Bailouts: The government elevated the interests of Goldman Sachs over the rest of the American public's. I challenge anyone to point out evidence that contradicts that theory.