Gaming

Perhaps you remember them differently than I do. I remember a herd (and I don’t think it’s ungenerous to describe them thusly) parked at a table in our library. Bad skin, weight issues, nearsightedness — three-dimensional representations of a Far Side cartoon, hunched over the table in deep meditation. Wisecracks that weren’t wise at all bubbled up from the corners of the action. These were the jesters of this unfortunate royal court. And then suddenly! Action! One of the herd leaned over and subtly, but deftly, turned a stack of playing cards ever-so-slightly to the right. MAGIC!!!!!!???

Magic: The Gathering appeared at my high school seemingly out of nowhere. It appeared, to these eyes, to coalesce the scattered nerdery into a tight circle of “fun.” Lunches were now solemn affairs, after school was now not just a wasteland of sports and athletic enterprise. Time was filled with a card game that combined all the sexiness of Dungeons and Dragons with all of the mental dexterity of Go Fish. Pre-internet, you have to understand, this must have seemed like a godsend to those whose dance cards never involved dances.

And so it is that Magic: The Gathering reappeared on my radar this weekend as the New York Times ran a piece about its continuing popularity and recent beneficence. Specifically, the dorkiest game of all time is doing its part to make law school more affordable for the few, the proud, the Poindexters…

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Video games and the law are quite a combination. Sometimes games spawn lawsuits, like Zynga’s case against the makers of Bang With Friends (which should really just change its name to Bangville, as Joe Patrice suggested). Sometimes the law spawns games, like Primordia, created by Harvard Law grad Mark Yohalem.

Are you a lawyer who enjoys playing video games? And do you like making money?

Here’s one lawyer’s story of how he took his interest in gaming and monetized it quite nicely….

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A hand that this kid apparently never got in over two hours at the casino.

If you’re a law student and looking to get fired from your clerking gig, at least find a fun way to go out. The sort of exit that really looks at those bridges and says, “Flame on!”

Pleading guilty to embezzling from the city, then lying about your assets and hitting a foreign casino with $60,000 in cash?

Sure, that’ll work.

Guess where the kid in question goes to school?

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We all remember Schenck v. United States, the 1919 decision written by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes that established the “clear and present danger” test and coined the oft-misquoted line “free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.”

Eloquent and well-reasoned.

You know what Oliver Wendell Holmes didn’t say? “Free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting ‘BINGO!’ in a seniors home.”

But one judge has gone that far…

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* “Kanye West, Kelly Clarkson, and Nietzsche (figuratively) walk into the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Hilarity ensues.” [FindLaw]

* The EPA gets benchslapped by the D.C. Circuit. [Instapundit]

* What can law firms learn from… the Cheesecake Factory? Besides how to make people fat; Biglaw’s already great at that. [Adam Smith, Esq.]

* If you enjoy gambling or legal hypotheticals, check this out. [Legal Blog Watch]

* Professor Eugene Volokh examines the tricky tension between constitutionally protected speech and laws against blackmail. [Volokh Conspiracy]

Professor Ann Althouse

* Professor Howard Wasserman grades Representative Todd Akin’s apology for his “legitimate rape” remarks — and gives the congressman partial credit for “owning” it. [PrawfsBlawg]

* Meanwhile, Professor Ann Althouse wonders: “Would the Democrats oust one of their own because he said one thing wrong?” [Althouse]

* Don’t forget: tonight is the nomination deadline for our Lawyerly Lairs contest for the best law firm offices in America. [Above the Law]

* Our commenting platform, Disqus, is having issues — which may explain why comments are mysteriously disappearing from the site. We apologize for the problem, which we are investigating. [Disqus]

Ed. note: This new column is about sports and the law. You can read the introductory installment here.

In June of 2005, my girlfriend asked if we could go see War of the Worlds. Tom Cruise was flying high, engrossed in a love that would last forever, and starring in a blockbuster that was getting okay reviews. While I was never a huge fan of popcorn movies, I relented. After two solid hours of explosions and other loud noises, I walked away surprisingly impressed with the effort. While the Academy may ignore this film, I thought, I had had a damned good time. The very next weekend, I visited home and caught up with my father. I told him that I thought War of the Worlds was pretty enjoyable and, since I knew he had seen it with my mother recently, I asked him if he agreed. His face puckered sourly and he muttered “No…no.” Then I launched into a litany of guesses, all wrapped in a pseudo-intellectual pose, as to why he disliked the film. Well, sure, it was a silly action movie, but you could do far worse. Spielberg may have “grown up”, but he was still a populist director at heart and quite good at directing the kind of movies that Michael Bay was consistently f**king up. And sure, it wasn’t deep and didn’t leave me with anything besides the faint memory of two enjoyable hours. But wasn’t that enough? Dad patiently sat there as his son prattled on for a bit. When I was finally winded, he said “You want to know why I hated that movie? You know that scene in the beginning where Tom Cruise is playing catch with his son?” Sure, I replied. “Well, Tom Cruise throws a baseball like a goddamned girl. He pushes the thing. PUSH. PUSH. How did you not catch that!? It’s plain as day. And I’m supposed to think he’s a hero!?”

LET’S TALK SPORTS!

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We’ve aimed for even-handedness in our coverage of Stephen M. McDaniel, the 25-year-old Mercer Law School alumnus accused of killing his neighbor and classmate, Lauren Giddings. We’ve written about the lurid allegations against him, and we’ve shared with you the reminiscences of a former roommate who found McDaniel a bit creepy. But we’ve also raised the possibility that some of the evidence against him might be fake, and we’ve even discussed whether perhaps McDaniel has been framed for the Giddings murder.

In our continuing quest to tell both sides of this story, today we bring you supportive words from a college classmate and friend of Stephen McDaniel. This individual believes that McDaniel is being treated unfairly in the court of public opinion — and he’d like to set the record straight….

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There hasn’t been much to report in recent weeks concerning the prosecution of Stephen M. McDaniel, the 25-year-old Mercer Law School alumnus accused of killing his neighbor and classmate, Lauren Giddings. There has been some continued wrangling over bail, as well as talk of possible civil litigation brought by the estate of Lauren Giddings against Boni and Marty Bush, owners of the Barristers Hall apartment complex where Giddings and McDaniel once lived.

So there isn’t much hard news to report about Stephen McDaniel. In the meantime, let’s take a more personal look at the man behind the headlines.

Last week, I interviewed McDaniel’s college roommate, who described what it was like to live with McDaniel. We had a very interesting conversation….

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Some people thought Contra was too violent.

The Supreme Court is on record as being a grand protector of the people’s right to free speech — so long as by “speech” we mean money and by “people” we mean corporations. But when it comes to the right of artists (in this case, video game producers) to do their thing, the Court wants to take a closer look.

And so tomorrow (Tuesday) the Court will hear oral argument in the case of Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association. If you’ve been too busy riding roughshod over zombie ranchers to follow along, the key issue is the constitutionality of a California law restricting the sale of violent video games to minors. The Ninth Circuit already threw the law out, and other Circuits have dispensed with similar state laws on free speech grounds. But SCOTUS apparently wants to take a look at the restrictions…

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We’ve written previously about Vanessa Selbst, a Yale Law Student and professional poker star. She outlasted 716 competitors at the PokerStars.net North American Poker Tour event at the Mohegan Sun. Top Prize = $750K. Now that she’s won more than enough to cover her high-priced legal education, she’s taking a break from law school to concentrate on poker.

You can check out Vanessa’s victory tonight on ESPN2 at 11:00 pm. Or you can catch it online at www.pokerstars.tv. More importantly, you can vote for Vanessa to be one of 27 inaugural “poker all-stars” in a June tournament with a million dollar prize pool. Winning your education funding at the tables seems a lot more noble than asking people to pay you. Click here to vote.

As many of you know, I love poker. I know many of you do too. Vanessa also coaches poker at Deuces Cracked, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to pick Vanessa’s brain about poker and law school. Luckily for Yale Law students, she has a kind heart and won’t be rolling around campus looking to take all of your money. But she could…

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