International House of Dan: December 2009

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dan's 2010 List of Christmas Demands

Preliminary Note: While most of the following language and gift categories are the same as the 2006 edition of the List, you should all read it carefully, as many of the items in question have changed. Mahalo.

In the past, this list has been made available via email to a select crowd. I have decided to be more inclusive and share with any and all of you the opportunity to revel in the joy that is giving Dan presents. You are not all expected to get me all of the things on this list, it only matters that they are all gotten; if one of you wishes to tackle the whole thing, that's ok, and it's ok if each of you takes on a single item. I only ask that each of you finds the gift level you feel is appropriate... and then exceeds it! Happy Holidays.

It is that time of year again, when all of you begin scratching your heads for ideas of what to get me for the Holidays. In keeping with tradition, I will help you decide not just if, but what to get me by issuing the following List of Christmas Demands:

1. A very wealthy client who will pay me very handsomely to attend occasional meetings around the world. Let me be very clear: I've been incredibly lucky since starting my own practice in the people who have hired me to represent them - my clients and I select one another - but I am only human, and like all humans, I dream of a steady source of substantial income in exchange for limited but interesting work. Basically, I need one of you to become the next Richard Branson and hire me as your big-picture legal guy. Failing that, I suppose that if the current Richard Branson wanted to take care of this particular item, that would be ok as well. This position should allow me enough time to focus on my volunteer and non-profit work without having to worry about things like rent, bills, student loans, or other living and social expenses.

2. Money. In lieu of the aforementioned work arrangement, the underlying purpose of it will suffice as well. I ask that you stick to conventional currencies (USD, Euro, gold ingots, etc.) but other items of monetary value will do as well (barrels of crude, manganese nodules, stocks and bonds, etc.). Just remember the conversion rates for your more exotic currencies... I will not be fooled by 1,500 Lebanese Pounds, 2,100 Venezuelan Bolivares, 4,700 Zambian Kwacha, 9,400 Indonesian Rupiahs, or 28,700 Romanian Lei (old Lei, not New Lei). I know these are all just under $1 USD.

3. Books. I like books, but not all books. I'm picky about books, so I tend to shop for obscure little reads that nobody else likes at used book stores that sell them for far less than they are worth. The following selections are made in no particular order (do not worry about duplicating a selection, booksellers are excellent about exchanges and I promise I'll exchange the other person's, not yours!):

a. "After Lives: A Guide to Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory" by John Casey

b. "The History and Practice of Ancient Astronomy" by James Evans

c. "Rome and China: Comparative Perspectives on Ancient World Empires" by Walter Scheidel

d. "International Justice In Rwanda and the Balkans: Virtual Trials & the Struggle for State Cooperation" by Victor Peskin

e. "Birth of the Chess Queen: A History" by Marilyn Yalom

f. "Original of Laura (Dying is Fun): a Novel In Fragments" by Vladimir Nabokov

g. "Waiting for Godot: A Bilingual Edition" by Samuel Beckett

h. "The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals" by E.P. Evans

i. "The Narcissism of Minor Differences: How America and Europe are Alike" by Peter Baldwin

j. "Ancient Literacies: The Culture of Reading in Greece and Rome" by William A Johnson

k. "The Law of Nations: An Introduction to the International Law of Peace" by Brierly (any non-fiction book entitled "The Law of Nations" is a safe bet, the older the better!)

m. "Fictions of Justice: The International Criminal Court and the Challenge of Legal Pluralism In Sub-Saharan Africa" by Kamari Clarke

n. "Man on trial: History-Making Trials From Socrates to Oppenheimer" by Gerald Dickler

4. Clothes. In the process of becoming more of a grown-up, I am now accepting suits, dress shirts, dress shoes, dress socks, ties and dress belts. I am also now accepting dressier sweaters, slacks, shoes and shirts (I am probably old enough to start reversing my wardrobe's current casual-to-dressy ratio). Email me for details on sizes, etc.

5. "The Simpsons" Gear. DVD's, collectibles, games, apparel... these are always a good bet.

6. Trips. I can have a pretty nice time just about anywhere. However, since I work alone, it's probably best to stick with weekend getaways and open-ended dates. I expect lodging to be included, though a meal stipend is not necessary. For those of you who simply must get me international escapades though, there IS an upcoming gathering in South Africa that I would not mind checking out. I'm also open to New York City visits involving Yankees' games.

7. "Statue of Frogs". One of my professors in law school had a small metal figurine on his desk, it was three frogs dancing on a base that read "Statue of Frogs" (a brilliant play on UCC 2-201!!). I have searched far and wide for one of these, for several years, but to no avail. I can't even find a picture of it. I want one.

8. Penguin print polar fleece footed pajamas. Seriously. Like in Zoolander. There are also non-polar-fleece summer ones, but I don't need those by Christmas.

9. Furniture. My place is pretty well set up by now, but there are some transitional items that need to be replaced eventually (ie. plastic shelf thingies are in the place they need to go, but should be replaced by similarly shaped and colored wood shelf thingies, etc.). Email me before your next Ikea trip and I will provide you with specific items to buy me.

10. Food and Drink. These always make for good gifts. My only rules are: no vegetables (vegetables are not food, vegetables are what food eats) and no Brazilian steak places (long story - it has to do with not wanting to destroy the world, and also, it's like being in Europe and going to a Canadian restaurant for Mexican food).

11. Fencing Equipment. I have been meaning to get a tool and testing kit (with the point repair kit and wire). Also, I go through a lot of blades in a year. Epee blades, senior (#5). If you want to get me a new weapon or two, I use "German" wiring, tips and sockets, and pistol grips. I could probably also use a new glove (right-handed).

Happy shopping!

Friday, December 04, 2009

32 Little Balls

In just a few hours, FIFA will conduct the drawing to determine the groupings for the upcoming World Cup, next summer in South Africa. The rules for the drawing are quite complicated - they are believed to be a throwback to the corrupt Havelange days, designed to increase the odds that Argentina will be in the Group of Death and that Brazil will not face a serious opponent until at least the semi-finals.

The seeded teams - South Africa (hosts), Argentina, Germany, Holland, Spain, Italy, England and Brazil - go into the first "pot", so that each of the eight groups (labeled "A" through "H") will contain one seeded team. The seedings were based on October, 2009 FIFA rankings. October was used because at that time, the playoff qualifiers had not begun (using the November rankings would have seen Argentina and England overtaken by France and Portugal on the basis of extra qualifiers). The remaining 24 teams are placed into three additional "pots" so that the drawing will produce eight groups of four teams each. South Africa will automatically become team "A1", the remaining seeded teams will be randomly placed into groups B-H, but will retain the 1 designation in whatever group they go into.

The pot assignments are based on geography, so that the drawing itself will conform with the rules. For example, with the exception of Europe, teams may not face another team from their same confederation, and when it's time to draw from pot 3 in the group containing Argentina, the three other South American teams may not be drawn (leaving only the five African teams in pot 3). The same will be the case for the group containing Brazil.

The drawing will officially launch the 2010 World Cup prognostication season; that magical time every four years where the millions world-wide who follow the tournament will predict, project, and prophesy what will happen in South Africa this coming June. Think NCAA Tournament brackets, times about 3 billion people.

The drawing will take place at 19:00, local time, and can be seen in the U.S. at 11:00 E.S.T. on ESPN. The Third Phase of World Cup ticket sales will launch on December 5.