Friday, May 16, 2008

Driving on the Wrong Side of the Country

I learned to drive in CA, and had never driven on the east coast at all until this past fall. At that point, after driving Toyb’s car the first few times, I quickly came to the realization that in order to survive I will need to learn two things: rotaries, and parallel parking. Neither of which I know to do. Because after all, neither is necessary in So Cal.

I also noticed something else about East Coast driving which struck me as quite peculiar: there are no painted curbs. This makes it so much harder to know exactly where to park. In CA we have painted curbs in many colors:
red for absolutely no parking (on corners, by fire hydrants, etc)
white for quick drop off / pick up of passengers or mail
yellow for slightly longer loading/drop off and pick up of passengers and freight
green for limited time parking (e.g. 30 minutes only – it will be painted on the curb)
blue for handicapped only.

My latest observations from my road trip have added some new aspects to east coast driving:
• In MA, and ME you aren’t allowed to drive in the left lane on the highway, it’s for passing only. Say what?! Yeah, so very weird. (*Trivia: It turns out this is also the rule in PA, NJ, IL, KY, and WA.) I'm having a really hard time understanding this one, despite Toyb's valiant efforts to explain its supposed merits.

• There are signs with a lower speed limit (i.e. minimum as well as maximum). This actually does make sense to me…but I have never seen such a thing before!

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Why is this year different from all other years? All other years I intended to count the omer. But I never succeeded. This may seem odd to people who know how detail-oriented I generally am. But the problem is that I have never managed to start. That’s right, I keep thinking if I could just manage the first day then maybe, just maybe, I would pull it off. At least that would be a beginning. And it is rather ridiculous that I’ve never managed even that.

So, why is this year different from all other years? This year I actually started!

Moreover, I am very excited to note that as of today (last night) I have made it half way through! During my week-long road trip with a friend, we counted together every night. And being the dorks we are, that made us very excited! :)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Activist Judges

(or what I learned in school this semester...)

I have been studying comparative law and my professor is fond of saying that he wishes somebody would tell the President that when he rails against activist judges, he really sounds very French! He makes an interesting point.

The French (civil law) and American (common law) legal systems were both designed with a “balance of power” in mind to provide protection against the abuses of the pre-revolutionary system. But different historical experiences shaped those fears, and thus the new systems they helped create.

In pre-revolutionary France the parlements were overly powerful – serving both judicial and quasi-legislative functions, and were identified with the landed aristocracy. The Revolution was in part a reaction against the parlements. Thus the post-Revolutionary Napoleonic Code was designed to prevent such abuses by an overly powerful judiciary.

In the American context, in contrast, the danger which the system was designed to guard against was an overly powerful executive. In the common law experience judges provided individuals with defense against the state. Thus a powerful judiciary provided a safety-check against the executive – judge made law is an integral part of the common law system, designed to protect people. In other words, activist judges are the very basis of our judicial system.

It is in France that judicial activism is inherently feared and thus systemically prevented through a firm reliance on codes and legislative supremacy. Judicial activism is very American! :)