Burning man

No one really likes hippies.

In addition to being dirty, they toss out annoying liberal platitudes to mask a self-absorbed worldview based around “freedom” as defined by easy access to drugs and not being hassled by regulators who aren’t cool with a commune squatting in a tenement. They’re like libertarians without showers and with the decency to pretend they care about other people.

But this federal judge hates them a lot more than the average bear. And he hates their lawyer even more…

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* Unhappy with eleventy billion dollars in damages due to Apple, Samsung will begin its appeals, perhaps even to the Supreme Court (because you know that SCOTUS wants a bite at the proverbial literal patent apple). [Wall Street Journal]

* And speaking of that jury award, jury foreman Velvin Hogan had this to say about it: “We wanted to make sure it was sufficiently high to be painful, but not unreasonable.” Yeah, because a billion dollars in damages isn’t unreasonable at all. [Reuters]

* Do judges with lawyerly license plates avoid traffic infractions instead of getting tickets? The New York Commission on Judicial Conduct is investigating this issue of epic importance. [New York Law Journal]

* If bill collectors are threatening to sue you over your credit-card debts, you better pray that your case lands on Judge Noach Dear’s docket, because in his courtroom, “it’s dismiss, dismiss, dismiss.” [New York Post]

* Hippies can file lawsuits, too: Burning Man starts today, but the event’s organizers claim that its Nevada venue is pursuing a new theme in view of a “drastic increase in fees” — burning money. [All Things Digital]

* Protestors should be allowed to act however they want when carrying prohibited machetes in Republican National Convention event zones. This was the first, and definitely the coolest, RNC arrest made. [ABC News]

To be arrested with drugs at Burning Man means you’re either hideously stupid, or just extremely unlucky. Either way it sucks to be you.

For the uninitiated, the Burning Man Festival is an annual gathering that happens in the Northern Nevada desert the week before Labor Day, culminating with the cremation of a giant wooden statue, the man, on Saturday night. People fly in from across the world to revel and ditch their inhibitions, and in total it is the largest, and perhaps most hedonistic party on Earth.

I attended Burning Man for the first time this year, and while there have been cries that that this year’s festival was a “police state,” reality hardly bears this out. Rather, Burning Man is a place where laws seem not to apply, nor must they, and there are some good lessons about people’s ability to regulate themselves.

Perhaps the best evidence of people’s natural inclination towards order at Burning Man is the absence of street lights or signage of any kind to direct traffic. People are expected to wear enough lights and glow sticks to be seen by other drug-addled cyclists and the folks driving art cars. People who ride their bikes at night without lights are called “darktards,” and they run the serious risk of being hurt by another cyclist or possibly run over by an art car.

There’s no way to get to Burning Man without a car, and once you’re there, you need to have a bicycle because the Black Rock City has the same land areas as a city. The result is tens of thousands of cyclists and art cars cruising through dust storms and in the dark, with very few accidents.

Without stop signs, people drive or ride slowly and lookout for others. When common courtesy prevails, good things happen.

The Wall Street Journal and others, however, picked up on the fact that burners on the whole felt that Black Rock City was turning into a police state, with nearly 300 arrests, mostly for drug-related charges, during the 2009 festival, according to various reports.

Fortunately there was the Burning Man Barrister, David Levin, an attorney from Palo Alto, who offers his services free of charge (naturally) to folks who run afoul of the authorities inside the festival.

Lawyers for Burners was also on hand to make sure that attendees knew their rights and knew how to conduct themselves in the unlikely event of an encounter with law enforcement. The cards were printed by the ACLU of Nevada and preached politeness, but also instructed the best way to talk to law enforcement.

Read more about Lawyers for Burners on Alt Transport