Monday, October 13, 2008

In Re Christopher Columbus (All Courts - Oct. 13, 2008)

It's Colubus Day. Which means very little to us working stiffs, but to the California Court of Appeal and the Ninth Circuit, it means a holiday. So no opinions today.

Given the dearth (indeed, total absence) of opinions today, I thought I'd briefly make a random comment. While judicial opinions are my usual recreational reading -- and more than keep me busy -- on occasion, I'm compelled to read something else. Typically, those other works are also nonfiction, and are usually read in order to get my children to sleep.

For example, when my daughter Sierra (who's now seven) was born, for the first couple of years, she would occasionally refuse to go to sleep until an hour or so of reading. And she didn't care at all about the content -- she just wanted to hear the sound of your voice. Admittedly, I could have chosen to read "Goodnight Moon" a thousand times in a single night, but while that book is just fine every other day or so, I think I'd go bonkers if I was compelled to read it over an over again on a single night. So one day I grabbed a random nonfiction book off a nearby shelf and read it out loud, at which point Sierra fell promptly to sleep. So, of course, on the theory that one should never argue with success, I kept up that tradition, with outstanding results. Hence my young daughter heard, cover to cover, Thorstein Veblen's "The Theory of the Leisure Class" not just once, but twice. Which seems an outstanding -- if somewhat unusual -- introduction to the world.

I mention this only because, yesterday, I had a similar need with respect to my two-year old (as of three days ago) son Charlie. And, again, randomly pulled out a book from the shelf. This time it was Hunter Thompson's "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72". Which, I gotta tell you, is an nice piece, especially the second time around and particularly given the contemporary campaign. The contrast between what transpired then and modern presidential campaigns is very interesting -- in large part, what's radically different, and yet at the same time those things that have changed only slightly, having become more sophisticated in their execution and yet with the same central purpose and function. Plus, it's interesting to revisit that era, which was (in my view) a very different time than what we presently confront.

So I recommend these pieces. They're oldies but goodies. Even if you're reading them for yourself rather than to send a child into la-la land.