Friday, August 29, 2008

Michigan Football Predictions for 2008-2009

Time for our fearless predictions for this transitional year of Michigan football.

Nobody knows what to expect – new coach, new offense, only 1 ½ starters returning on offense. Many of the Big Ten schools have to believe that this is the year to beat Michigan. If not now, then when?

While we cannot play “what if’s” with what will not happen, the fact is that Michigan probably would have done poorly this year under Lloyd Carr. The returning quarterback Ryan Millet may have had great potential, but he performed poorly in every appearance. His transfer was not a loss.

Prediction 1: Michigan absolutely, positively will not lose under any circumstances this year to Appalachian State (LSU might conceivably lose though to ASU with a new quarterback transferring from Harvard).

Prediction 2: Michigan was out coached, out prepared, out conditioned, out hustled, and out played by Appalachian State. Not to mention that Michigan was slow. The Wolverines may lose under Rodriquez, but they will not falter in the fourth quarter by being out of shape.

Prediction 3: The two critical, early games are Utah this Saturday and Wisconsin on September 27. If Michigan beats Utah, or only loses narrowly, then it should go 9-3 in the regular season. If it loses big to Utah, then it may end up 5-7 or 6-6.

Prediction 4: Until they actually prove that they can coach, Charlie Weis at Notre Dame and Ron Zook at Illinois will not beat Michigan. They can recruit, but game planning and play calling are not their forte.

Prediction 5: Penn State will beat Michigan this year. That will be a good sendoff for Joe Pa.

Prediction 6: Just as Michigan State upset Michigan in Bo’s first year, they may do so again in Rick’s first year at the Michigan helm.

Prediction 7: A repeat of Bo’s first year with the epic 24-12 upset of Ohio State would be great, but that game was in Ann Arbor and this year’s matchup is in Columbus.

Prediction 8: Ohio State will not be in the BCS Championship game this year, much to the relief of almost everyone outside the Great State of Ohio.

Prediction 9: Ohio State will lose big to USC, as will Notre Dame, marking Charlie Weis' final game at Notre Dame

ALERNATIVE 1 (My preference)

Utah W

Miami (Ohio) W

Notre Dame W

Wisconsin W

Illinois W

Toledo W

6-0 at mid season

Penn State L

Michigan State L

Purdue W

Minnesota W

Northwestern W

Ohio State L


Utah L

Miami W

Notre Dame W

Wisconsin L

Illinois W

Toledo W

4-2 at mid season

Penn State L

Michigan State L

Purdue W

Minnesota W

Northwestern W

Ohio State L

Prediction 10: One of these years will witness Michigan beating USC in the Rose Bowl

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Rule Against Perpetuities, The Fertile Octogenarian, and The Most Boring Luncheon Speech

We set through a painfully boring luncheon presentation the other day. It was on quantum physics, string theory, and who knows what else. We didn’t pay for the lunch, but we sure earned it.

We decided to come up with the most boring subject for a presentation, one that would even supplant quantum physics. The possibilities included:

The Practical Application of Presentism and Becoming

The Practical Application of Isometrics in an Isolated Isosceles Triangle

A Discourse on Reason and Revelation in the Dark Ages – A True Oxymoron

A Look at Diffusion in an Opaque World

The Econometrics of Regression Analysis in the 15th Century

Metaphysics, Phenomenology and Edmund Husserl

A Theoretical Mass Spectrometry of an Amoeba

The Calculus of a Flea Circus

The Bifurcation of a Dichotomy in Distributed Processes

An Empirical Study of Contested Tender Offers During the Decade of the
1960’s (my actual doctoral dissertation)

It was a tough call, but none of these qualified.

The clear winner was “The Definitive Exposition of The Rule Against Perpetuities and the Fertile Octogenarian” This snoozer has put generations of law students to sleep.

The rule is deceptively simple:

“All transfers of property, real or personal, must vest in lives in being plus 21 years”

The only part of the rule that is seemingly not confusing is the 21 years, but we have to include, if applicable, gestation periods in utero and unborn widows (don’t ask).

The origin of the rule is the 1682 case of the Duke of Norfolk. Without this case, the Duke would have deservedly remained a complete historical nonentity. Instead, we are blest with The Rule Against Perpetuities, which has struck down more common law beneficiaries than the Plague.

You can make any subject interesting by throwing in a little sex, which brings us to the mythical “Fertile Octogenarian.” Since life expectancy in Merrie Olde England was far short of 40, and Viagra did not exist, the thought of an olde geezer getting it on with a fair wench (Cf. Restoration Comedies) was an inspiration for all men, from the highest lord to the lowly, illiterate peasant.

Even in our modern world, the Fertile Octogenarian rarely exists. Tony Randall begat, or is it begot, at 77 and 78. The billionaire Kirk Kerkorian initially hit the jackpot at 82 during his 28 day marriage to Lisa Bonder. But Kirk did not acquire his billions by lying down. Instead he retained the now disgraced and felonious PI Anthony Pellicano to rummage through garbage and prove with retrieved DNA (unknown to the Duke of Norfolk) that the half-billionaire Steve Bing was the biological father of Kira Rose Kirkorian.

Depending on the moment of conception, Kirk may have been cuckolded (another olde English concept) by Steve. Kirk, unlike Sir Paul McCartney, believed in a prenup. If only the Duke of Norfolk could have availed himself of this 20th Century American construct. What is the present value of 28 days in bed? Certain not the £24.3 million Heather Mills earned from Sir Paul. Both Kirk and Paul have learnt that money can’t buy you love.

But I digress to make it interesting.

Even with the Hollywood investments of Bing and Kirkorian, Hollywood cannot immortalize the Rule against Perpetuities. Gidget Gets a Perpetuity just doesn’t cut it.

Senator Sperm Thurmond came close as his youngest child was born when the Senator was a sprite young 74. He was active for over 5 decades on many fronts.

A Harvard Law Professor, W. Barton Leach, wrote the definitive explanation for law students in the 1938 Harvard Law Review. The 30 page “Perpetuities in a Nutshell” is a sure cure for insomnia. No medications are necessary, which should extend your perpetuities period.

The 1938 article was not an unbridled success. He followed 27 years later in the Harvard Law Review with “Perpetuities: The Nutshell Revisited,” which provides yet another treatment for insomnia.

Leach was subsequently befuddled by the issue of sperm banks and perpetuities. We now have to deal with frozen eggs and sperm and fertile octogenarians, who may overlap like Venn diagrams. What a disgusting thought!

Leach has survived in the annals of legal education by allowing female students to speak only on Ladies Day.

Needless to say, Harvard Law School’s reputation and $billion endowment was not based on Leach or perpetuities. Harvard and Yale thrive on legacies, to which the Rule against Perpetuities is inapplicable.

On the opposite coast, the California Supreme Court held in 1961 that a lawyer did not commit malpractice in failing to understand the Rule Against Perpetuities in drafting a will, thereby leaving the cut-off beneficiaries without a legal remedy. Clearly, if the judges did not understand the Rule as students, they were not going to perpetuate it on younger generations.

For further reading on the Rule Against Perpetuities you are referred to the classic 1886 third edition of John Chipman Gray’s Rule Against Perpetuities. The hardbound, which has long exceeded the perpetuities period, is available on line from the discounter Target for only $125.

The ostensible reason for the Rule was a fear of the dead hand of the donor controlling the future.

The 13 Original Colonies achieved independence from England in 1783 in the Treaty of Paris. 26 countries when Ireland threw off the British yoke in 1921. India acquired independence in 1947. Australia, Canada, South Africa, and New Zealand achieved independence before India.

Yet all of these independent countries are still bound by the dead hand of the defunct British Empire. Only Alaska, Idaho, New Jersey, and South Dakota have cut the Gordian Knot (an even older Greek concept) and abrogated the Rule Against Perpetuities.

You now know everything about perpetuities except that which will be tested on the Bar.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Meerkat Manor or Joe Biden

The announcement of Senator Joe Biden’s selection as Senator Obama’s running mate came during the season conclusion of Meerkat Manor. Joe or Rocket Dog? Joe or Sophie? Joe or the hawk? Joe or Zorro? Joe or the Commandos? Joe or the volcano? Joe or anyone? Decisions, decisions.

Animal Planet will show Meerkat Manor on an endless loop of reruns. Indeed, I could stay up to 1:30PST to watch the suspense as the scrappy Meerkats tempt fate, but going on the internet could remove any suspense. Will Rocket Dog follow her mother’s lead and succumb to the puff adder’s bite?

Male Lotharios, promiscuous females, sibling rivalry, infanticide, warring clans, leadership struggles, social ostracism – that’s worth watching.

Drama; excitement. No, I must watch it now.

NBC didn’t interrupt the Olympic coverage for Joe. Leave that to CNN, Fox, and MSNBC. Why should Animal Planet or I defy the wisdom of NBC?

Joe will be on an endless cycle tonight for the cable networks. He’ll still be on in the morning.

Even worse! I once sat through Joe as the banquet speaker. His speech was an interminable, endless loop. Leave, take a break, make a phone call, use the facilities, light up a Benson & Hedges, and come back. You won’t miss a thing. Don’t Tivo his speech. No need to pause. Just wind him up and watch him speak, and speak, and speak, and speak as a 20 minutes ran into 90. It seemed longer. Keep the drinks coming! And the amazing thing is that he didn’t say a thing.

No need to watch the Senator. We know his story.

His 1968 campaign for the Presidency floundered on plagiarism. This year’s campaign was a gaffe a moment. His memorable comment about Obama, “The first mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice looking guy” was matched by “You cannot go to a 7 Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donut unless you have a slight Indian accent. It’s a point. I’m not joking.” (Senator Allen of Virginia lost reelection two years ago because the media hounded him for using the word “Macaca”

Good material, but it doesn’t match the voracious appetite and prolific breeding of these foot long, pint size mammals.

Obama ran on a mantra of change. Obama has four years in the Senate with no accomplishments. Senator Biden has spent 36 years in the “World’s greatest debating society” with no accomplishments. No change there.

Ah, but for the Meerkats, every minute is an instance of change.

Rocket Dog lives! The show must go on. And now it’s time for Awesome Pawsome

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

San Francisco slimes itself by naming a sewage treatment plant for President Bush

San Francisco, my birthplace and home for 24 years, always prided itself on its class, its sophistication, its moral superiority: the Boston of the West Coast, the Paris of America. They look down upon the uncouth Southern Californians, who steal their water. La La Land is despicable and the Orange Curtain is unmentionable.

San Francisco voters have placed on the November ballot a referendum to rename the Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant the “George W. Bush Sewage Plant.” As one local wit stated: “Since he favors the affluent, let’s name the effluent for him.”

We should expect better from this great City than an act of sophomoric humor.

But San Francisco is not what it once was.

Mayor Gavin Newsom won reelection last year by running against such worthy opponents as Kenny the Clown, Chicken John, and Captain Democracy. Newsom admitted during the campaign that he was an alcoholic and had an affair with his campaign manager’s wife.

For as educated a city as educated as San Francisco, it can’t do basic measurements. Last Christmas Day a tiger jumped out of its cage at San Francisco Zoo, and mauled three patrons, killing one. The Zoo Director said he couldn’t understand how it happened because the wall was 18 feet tall. Actual measurements showed it to be 12 ½ feet high, substantially below the professional standard of 16 feet. The tigress was a recidivist; Tatiana had mauled a zookeeper months earlier.

Geography can also be a challenge for the small city on a peninsula. Ed Jew was elected to the Board of Supervisors and took office in 2007, only to be subsequently indicted on felony charges for residing outside his district, as well as for corruption.

Respecting the law of the land is not an imperative for San Francisco.

San Francisco is a sanctuary city. City employees are barred from assisting federal authorities with immigration investigations or arrests. Other cities are sanctuary cities, but only San Francisco advertises the fact with taxpayer money. Indeed, last April it paid $83,000 in ads to remind residents of its sanctuary status. The ads were in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Russian.

The middle class and African American residents are fleeing the sanctity of the city.

Its solution for illegal immigrants committing crimes was to either fly them back to their home country with officials accompany them, or send them to unsecured halfway homes in San Bernardino County (Remember San Francisco looks down upon Southern California). In short, San Berdo became a dumping ground for San Francisco’s human trash while San Bruno receives its solid waste.

The City has a problem. Both options are now off the table. On a flight back to Honduras through Texas, ICE officials at Houston Airport last May detained the Junior Probation Officer accompanying two illegal minors, threatening to arrest him.

On June 22, 2008 a father and his two sons were driving home, when they accidentally blocked the path of a Chrysler 300. Edwin Ramos, the driver of the 300 pulled up alongside and started shooting. All three died. Ramos had twice been convicted as a minor of violent felonies, but was released from jail three months earlier, and not turned over to ICE pursuant to the sanctuary policy. Ramos is a member of Mara Salvatrucha.

San Bernardino discovered San Francisco’s practice when eight of the juvenile offenders at the San Bernardino facility escaped.

The Streets of San Francisco are not safe – even from the San Francisco District Attorney. On November 20, 2002 three off-duty, rookie police officers engaged in a street brawl with two civilians over a bag of fajitas. One of the three was the son of the Assistant Chief of Police, hence the sobriquet, “Fajitagate.”

District Attorney Terence Hallinan took Fajitagate to the Grand Jury, which indicted on on February 27, 2003 the Chief of Police, the Assistant Chief of Police and five other top police officials for conspiracy to obstruct justice. They allegedly attempted to interfere with an investigation of the alleged police transgressions. The DA referred to Fajitagate as a cover up of Watergate proportions.

The Police Chief was arraigned, and booked on March 4, 2003. A judge dismissed the charges against the Chief and Assistant Chief on March 11, 2003 for lack of evidence. The cases against the three rookie officers resulted in jury acquittals.

Police Chief Sanders was unable to resume his position because of medical problems, a history of heart problems, high blood pressure and a stroke suffered after the indictment.

The DA showed great judgment on another occasion in firing many of the lawyers in his office by leaving pink slips on their chairs when they were out to lunch. As a young boxer, Hallinan earned the nickname “Kayo.” Kayo had to successfully appeal to the California Supreme Court for his license to practice law. The Comittee of Bar Examiners held Kayo failed the character and fitness standard for admission to the Bar. Kayo's son carried on the tradition by being arrested in 2001 for a drunken assault on the victim. Hallinan was defeated for reelection by the voters.

The low point for San Francisco’s finest came in 2005 when the public learned of a series of unofficial “training” videos, which can be described as racist, sexist, and homophobic. Over 20 officers were suspended for the “parodies” of traffic stops, drug busts, and patrols.

The Supervisors earlier refused to let the U.S.S. Iowa become a floating museum in the City. The Board of Education voted 4:2 in 2006 to end Junior ROTC in the city’s high schools, and more recently the City barred the Marine Corps Silent Drill Team from filming a commercial on the City’s streets.

Since the City doesn’t honor the military, why should it honor the Commander in Chief?

Friday, August 1, 2008

California is Bankrupt

California is burning fiscally, and the Legislature is fiddling.

No more gimmicks. No more windfall, one time payments, such as the tobacco settlement. No more “trust” funds to be raided. The state’s coffers are empty. The Indian casinos can’t cover the nut.

California is hurting. The unemployment rate is up to 6.9%. The housing industry is toast; Hollywood is exporting jobs, and the state budget deficit is climbing through $15.2 billion, on its way to $20 billion. The budget was due July 1, and we’re into August. The state is operating at a 10 1/2% deficit.

And what is the Legislature doing? Nothing!

It’s in recess.

That’s good because as long as it’s not in session, it can do no damage.

It doesn’t have to act because it knows what it wants to do – raise taxes by $11 billion.

It’s opening gambit will raise the base rate of the state sales tax by a penny, raise the top marginal tax rate to 12% from 10.3%, eliminate indexing for inflation, and raise the top corporate tax rate to 9.3% from 8.4%.

Governor Schwarzenegger responded yesterday by signing an executive order, reducing most state employees to minimum wage, cutting the jobs of 20,000 part time and contract workers, freezing hiring, and stopping almost all overtime.

The current state sales tax is 7.25%, the highest in the nation, but localities can add to it such that the sales tax is already substantially higher in cities like San Francisco.

If these tax increases go through, California will be the highest taxing state in the country. Even New York will seem a bargain.

The Governor’s act is not exactly a profile in courage since the employees received their monthly paycheck two days ago.

Let’s look at the legislative accomplishments this year:

Mandated hands-free driving. Whether hands free or cell phone in the ear, the problem is one of distraction, not hands free. In any event the Legislature, in its infinite wisdom, did not restrict the more dangerous activity of text messaging. Nor has it taken any steps against dashboard dinning.

Banned trans fats in restaurant cooking, effective 2010

Animal owners can now set establish “pet trusts” to pay the costs of Fido’s care when the donor dies

Still under consideration

A tax of 25 cents on plastic bags

A true sin tax of 25% on the gross revenues of producers and distributors of adult entertainment, including strip clubs. Watch Debbie move from the San Fernando Valley to Dallas and Vegas

A ban on plastics containing bisphenol A in consumer products.

A ban on live pets sitting in driver’s laps (nothing said about dead pets)

Enactment of mandatory sick live, whereby employees would be entitled to nine paid sick days annually (passed by Assembly)

A proposed additional tax of $1.80 per six pack of beer; i.e. thirty cents a can. So much for Joe Sixpack

Proposed taxes on I-Tunes, music downloads and ringtones

A ban on smoking in apartments

These are the other acts almost passed by the Legislature as the budget is burning

Banning Mylar balloons

Mandatory pet sterilization

“Solving” high gas prices by imposing a 6% tax on oil produced in the United States and a 2% “windfall profits” tax on oil company profits over $10 million

The Assembly passed, and the Senate was in the process of passing, an affirmative action requirement on California foundations with assets over $250 million. The bill was pulled when the ten largest foundations “voluntarily” reached an agreement with the legislative leaders

A mandatory law enforcement officer on every cruise ship sailing from California ports. The officer would be funded by a tax of $1/day per passenger. The tax revenues would greatly exceed the costs of the officers.

The true accomplishment of the California legislature is the second lowest credit rating of all 50 states, beating out only Louisiana.

A major accomplishment of the state Senate is that lobbyists who donate to the Legislature’s charity can accompany Senators on their junkets.

The Legislature is in a snit because its stealth referendum proposal, poised as a clean government measure, was defeated. It would have extended term limits by up to eight years, keeping the current legislative leaders in office.

It has successfully opposed the establishment of non-partisan redistricting.

The state budget was $104 billion when Governor Gray Davis was recalled by voters in 2003. Since then, state revenues rose over $30 billion.

This substantial 30% increase is outstanding, but neither the Democratic Legislature nor the Republican Governor controlled spending, which increased over $40 billion.

Unless spending is controlled, no state, not even the Golden State, can raise taxes fast enough.

Here is the Legislature’s understanding of spending. The outgoing Senate Majority Leader, Don Peralta, has spent 14 million so far on legal fees, partially paid for by the California Democratic Party, to ward off a federal corruption indictment.

Fabian Nunez has just stepped aside as Speaker of the Assembly. He grew up economically disadvantaged, but has surmounted that hardship. Recent indulgences include”

$1,795 for dinner in Paris, France (not Paris, California)

$2,562 in office supplies at Louis Vuitton

$5,149 for a meeting at a French winery

$100,000 bonus to his chief of staff

These expenditures were paid for out of campaign funds and the California Democratic Party

Most legislators undoubtedly know that higher taxes will encourage residents and businesses to vote with their feet, but they also realize that the beneficiaries of the increased spending, will remain, and likely vote. History has repeatedly shown us, just this past year with Michigan’s $2 billion in tax increases and in 1990 with large tax increases in California, that they never raise the projected revenues, but do reduce private expenditures.

Here are the current taxpayers in California. Those with incomes over $100,000 pay 83% of the state’s income tax revenues. The top 6,000 taxpayers pay $9 billion in state income taxes.

California’s siren call has attracted waves of immigrants seeking their fortune for 160 years, starting with the 49ers seeking gold.

But now they are fleeing. From 1996 to 2005 1.2 million more Californians left the state than entered from other states. The state’s population growth is fueled by births exceeding deaths and illegal immigration. During the 1990 recession, about 1 million Californians departed for more hospitable states like Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah.

Unfortunately for California, these expatriates are middle class, retirees, and entrepreneurs - the economic producers. Unfortunately for the California Republican Party, they formed the backbone of the Party, as the state becomes solidly Democratic.

Those staying are increasingly dependent upon government payments. They have no incentive to cut or freeze taxes.

Republicans have just enough legislators to prevent any tax increase. The rumor is that, contra to his public position, the Governor is privately pressuring Republicans to riase taxes.

California’s budget problem is compounded by two wild cars. First, any budget must be approved by a 2/3 vote in both Houses of the Legislature. Thus, six Republicans in the Assembly and two in the Senate must agree to raise taxes.

Second, pursuant to Proposition 47, half of all new revenues must go the schools.

Not a pretty picture because the state is bankrupt