Saturday, September 29, 2012

Zombie Law: Zombies in the Federal Courts, a casebook - Needs Your Help!

If you back ONE kickstarter project, let it be:
Zombie Law: Zombies in the Federal Courts, a casebook
Funding ends: Oct 9, 2012
Writer Joshua Warren explains:
"There are over 300 Federal Court opinions with the word "zombie". Let's create a legal studies casebook exploring "zombie" law.

This edited collection is a serious book compendium of epic real life zombie stories as told by the U.S. Federal Courts. This Kickstarter project funds production of a law school style bound casebook to include case opinions from the over 300 U.S. Federal Court opinions with the word “zombie” (and “zombies”, “zombi”, “zombis”, “zombified”, “zombism”, etc..)
To promote this project, I’ve created some neat artsy rewards. The Supreme Court as zombie (poster and postcard), a limited edition Zombie USB Flash Drive (pull the brain out of the head!), a T-shirt, honorable mention as sponsor, personalized zombied portraits, and of course, THE BOOK!

This project is to create a beautiful bound book that is an edited collection of the 330+ real case opinions in U.S. Federal Courts in which "zombie" appear (also "zombies" and "zombi" and "zombified" and "zombielike" and "zombified" and "zombism" etc ).  The book will appear like a traditional law school case book and fit in well on any legal bookshelf.  It will also be appropriate for use in any advanced reading context (high school or undergraduate) or any basic law course aimed to improve case reading skills and/or exposure to U.S. Federal law.
All sorts of people will like this book.  It would be a good gift for any lawyer or law student but also any intellectual zombie fan as well as anyone interested in American law. Every federal case is itself an epic short story and so this book is a compendium of real zombie short stories.  The book is full of real life "zombie" tales packed with legal terminology and federal procedure.

The "zombie" in federal courts are very interesting.  Aside from the intellectual property cases that provide some reflection on modern zombie fiction, there are also ample metaphoric uses of the word in these judicial writings.  Judges have referred to "zombie precedents" and "zombie litigation".    There are zombie corporations, zombie criminals, a significant number are social security cases in which people describe themselves in zombie condition and even a recent mentions of cybernetic zombies.

Unlike other works of zombie academia, the zombies in this book are all real.  Most zombie scholarship uses hypothetical zombies as tropes to create entertaining and extreme fact patterns that can be used to explain complex subject matters.  This has been used effectively for neuroscience (Schlozman, Voytek), international policy analysis (Drezner), public health (Center for Disease Control), geography (Kickstarter project: Zombie-Based Learning), survival skills (Brooks) amongst other subjects (See Zombie Research Society) including also academics who focus on the fictional character itself (Mogk, Brooks).

This Zombie Law book is different because it does not use zombies as hypotheticals to teach law. It is not conjecture about what zombies are or might be. This book is a compendium of real usages of the actual word in American jurisprudence.  This book is a collection of real legal cases that literally include "zombies" (or similar word) in US Federal Court opinions..  

The basic outline of the book will separate most cases into issues of corporations, medications, criminals and, of course intellectual property.  Major sections will be devoted to Social Security (disability) law, corporate fraud and issues of criminal intent. There are noteworthy cases referring to post traumatic stress disorder and many recent Social Security cases regarding of fibromyalgia.  The intellectual property cases are about popular zombie fiction and also so-called "vicious zombi" patents.  In general, the idea of zombies in a mall is public domain for copyright but particular forms of zombie products are protected by trademark.

Frequently there is a sort of double meaning in the word.  In Social Security cases, the word zombie is found as a symptom of pain, depression and anxiety but also the side effect of medications prescribed for those same symptoms.  In criminal law, zombie appear in victim's description of their assailant's behavior but also as defense argument against criminal intent. For corporations the ironic question of corporate-personhood begs the question, 'what is a person?', which is often the implied question of zombie studies.

I have done a lot of work reading these cases and developing some common themes.  If some of this sounds familiar, maybe you have seen my recent blogging at ZombieLaw.Wordpress.Com.  There you can see my recent obsession about "zombie" rhetoric in law, politics and current events.  Also on that blog are many examples of my zombifying portrait art.

The blog is fun, but blogs make terrible paperweights.  This project is to make a real book.  The book is to be a black and white casebook of real Federal Court opinions.
It is going to take a considerable amount of time to properly edit this book.  I will have to beg friends to proof-read and plan to pay for at least some editing assistance. It will likely cost more than the money raised on this Kickstarter but I will invest myself and we can produce this together. Most of the costs will be directly related to the cost of producing the book (paper, cover and binding are expensive). I expect to produce it at a local NYC printer who will arrange the cover binding from a company in Pennsylvania.

Zombie Law is part of my ongoing study of rhetoric and strange creatures.  I am a practicing attorney and doctoral student with interests in the development of creativity (particularly in the domains of law and politics).  Semantics, metaphor studies (Turner, Lakoff) and cognitive linguistics fascinate me.  Modern rhetoric in educational psychology research about "creativity" led me to Frankensteins' alienation, Faustian demons and, of course zombies.  .

This book idea is to be the first of a stream of publications I hope to edit.  There are many strange creatures that could be cataloged in the record of Federal Court opinions.   For example I am already in the process of blogging through the cases of "Ninja" in the Federal Courts. And I have another similar project developing for "Cocker Spaniel".  Both will hopefully become their own books too, but probably just e-books or maybe trade paperback. "Zombies" is a bigger set of cases and I feel the character deserves the more weighty, grimoire-like tome of a properly bound legal casebook.


This Kickstarter project is to create this book for the world, to target that small crossover of two fetish-object communities, lawyers and zombie fans.  The modern self-publishing sites don't offer the kind of bound books that law school textbooks traditionally have; that binding is expensive. I hope to produce at least a small run of 100 bound law books at around 700 pages.  Based on your interest and comments we may may order a larger production and/or alter the page count. Eventually this book may become a more commercially available item in other forms but the goal of this project is to fund the first edition bound collection of Zombie in Federal Courts. This book can only become a realistic-looking law book with funding directly from the niche law zombie community and supportive friends. I know this community exists and I hope Kickstarter can help me reach them.

There is still something special about an actual book and a legal casebook is a classic type of object.  Let's make a really beautiful exemplar; buckram cover, Smyth-sewn binding, with gold-colored lettering on the cover and spine that says: "Zombie Law: Zombies in the Federal Courts".

I need your help to fund more than just a blog, more than an e-book, more than a trade paperback... a real law school textbook. A beautiful weighty book to use as a paperweight on your law office coffee table or a doorstop in the dorm.  Great to read on the toilet or waiting in court for your case to be called. A great conversation starter for anyone scanning your bookshelf or reading over your shoulder.  And a perfect gift for any law zombie you might know (there are so many of us).  And if you happen to teach an introductory law class, you can use these cases to spice up the brief-writing exercises.  These are real Federal Court cases and they include zombies. Fun and educational.

\The Zombie Law case book will be amazing, some of the cases are hilarious, others are sad, others are just those insane stories that only a Federal Court can tell. Each case is a short real life zombie story. And the book will look great, designed to mimic a real law school book, so much so that it could easily be used and adapted for use in an academic setting.  Hardcover bindery bound, gold-colored printing on cover. And with the e-book backup, great for the subway reading, or while waiting for your case to be called in court, or just another fun evening reading zombie law and drinking whiskey -

- Remember Jimmy Stewart in the beginning of Anatomy of a Murder as small town lawyer Paul Biegler explaining "I'm making a living.  I run some abstracts -- divorce Jane Doe from John Doe once in a while,-- or threaten a few dead beats -- and in the evening I drink rye whiskey and read law  (p.9)" --

And really, who doesn't like to spend their evening drinking whiskey and reading law??!
If you like zombies, this is law you want to be reading.

PLEASE HELP CREATE this wonderful book

With sincere thanks,

- Joshua Warren
Now go join the project ... before the ravening zombie hordes catch up!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Three Ways That the Electoral College Robs You

The Electoral College was designed to keep We The People from picking a president; instead, a president would be chosen by an aristocratic group elected to talk it over and pick a president based upon the superior wisdom of the Electors.
It has never worked this way, and can never work. All it does is make our democracy ridiculous.

1. The argument is often made that an election based on popular vote will result in smaller states being ignored. This fallacious argument goes:
(A) Campaigns have limited resources
(B) For a given unit of resources, you get more votes from investing it in a high-population area
(C) Therefore campaigns will spend their resources only, or disproportionality, in high-population areas.

Each of those propositions are faulty.

(A) Although campaigns have limited resources in terms of candidate appearances (there are only 24 hours in a day), campaigns are nearing the saturation point in terms of monetary resources. They are literally running out of ad space to buy, so this is not a reason to avoid smaller markets.

(B) The cost of an ad buy is, mostly, proportional to the size of the audience. In a popular vote system, you get roughly the same bang out of buying 10 100,000-voter buys as you get out of 1 million-voter buy. It would actually be better to buy ads in 10 100,000-voter states or cities than in 1 million-voter state or city, because the former can be tailored better.

(C)  It follows from the above that under a popular vote system, campaigns will have no motivation to concentrate only on large states.

2. The Electoral College leads most small states to be ignored in favor of a small number of large states. If we define "small state" as being one with single-digit electoral votes, there are about 30 of them (including DC). Only 3 are battleground states (10%). Contrast this with there being 21 large states or which 5 are battleground states, or 25%). If Mittens loses Ohio and Florida, who cares about New Hampshire and Nevada?

3. The current system means only "battleground states" get attention; voters in most states are ignored. Republicans in Spokane never get any attention because Washington State is so very blue and Republicans in Mississippi are equally neglected because that state is so red!

A worse system would be hard to design. While this presidential election looks pretty close to being decided, perhaps the failings of this system will encourage some sort of reform.

I'm not holding my breath

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Images this week or so, mostly political humor

It's a busy political season. I try to stay positive, but poking fun is just too seductive!
I used MSPaint because I'm too cheap to actually spend money on something fancier. It limits my options but OTOH, the limits of the form can sharpen the pencil as well. It's like writing a limerick or a haiku; the structure of the form can sometimes be helpful.
I'm especially happy with this one - I generated the basic form within a few minutes of hearing the ridiculous quote. I tinkered with a few revisions as I posted it first in one place, then in another. Each time I look at it, I might see the opportunity for a minor improvement so who knows how many versions are out there.(One this one, I think I forgot to sign it the first time around. It probably doesn't really matter since there's probably all sorts of data in the metatext, but I do like putting "rewinn" in tiny text somewhere not too conspicuous.)
I spent the most time on this one finding the windows. If I had it to do over again, I'd do something to sharpen the division between the top of the plane and the sky, and also put a dog carrier up there ;-)

Also, at the risk of boasting, this one (when I shared it on Facebook) got over 5000 likes and 3000  shares in one day - probably a personal best! Here's the screen capture ...

When this meme spread, I thought of a variation. It just made me laugh inside to see Mitt acting all Samuel L. Jackson:

One a more serious note, and of much greater relevance to the choice, is this one which covers a topic not getting enough discussion:

I mean, let's be real. The guy was wise enough to see the truth, and gutsy enough to say it. That's Leadership!
Below is my earlier version of the concept. I'm not sure why I like it so much less; maybe it's because the tombstones need to have equal weight with the president since they're no less important.
Also, for the later version (above) I used the exact words, which I think is important. Whereever possible using exact quotes not only makes the image more reliable, it also gives the source's voice rather than my own. In this case, it also got me to go back to the video which IMO gave a better image ... grainy and imperfect, but more real. It really does show him saying what the image says he's saying. 
(It took a lot of running through the video to get the image; most of the time when people are talking, we look kind of silly. Also, I wanted Obama to be looking at the tombstone but in the limited video, we mostly was looking in the wrong direction. Hey, this stuff is hard; if you don't think so, get in the ring! 

The worship of Ayn Rand, like too many other religions, relies on not really knowing about the critter. It's especially absurd that the spiritual head of the Paul-Ryan-Let-Them-Die philosophy was not the muscular superhero Libertarians think themselves to be, but an amphetamine addict whose writings were so unpopular she needed government aid to survive as she died from her cigarette addiction. When the "47%" video came out, this image almost created itself; I only had to whittle down my original wordy text to the absolute minimum.
Well, that's it for this week or so's crop of political images. I'm doing a lot of other writing too but these may be the most fun!
Many of my images are here: and/or here