omgz BlackAcre, w00t!!1

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 30, 2009 in The 1L Life | Subscribe

At the risk of her thinking I’ve turned into some kind of eStalker, I’m going to mention The Reasonably Prudent Law Student twice in a 48 hour timeframe.  I promise it’s entirely coincidental :)

Some quick background:

Dennis Jansen over at was/is essentially the progenitor of law:/dev/null — I stumbled across his “5 reasons why I blog” post while searching Google for law school tidbits in the week leading up to  orientation, and his #2 item on “Actually ‘Keeping in touch'” prompted me to give the blogging thing a shot myself.

(So if you enjoy reading, thank him.  If you don’t, keep it to yourself ;))

He’s got a lengthy and neatly categorized list of dozens of similar bloggers on his site, where I promptly burned half a day just reading. Those sites linked to more sites which linked to more sites and… you get the idea.

So TRPLS (think “turtles” but with a ‘p’ replacing the second ‘t’ sound) was one of the first blogs I came across, and the first thing I noticed was the banner at the top (ok I’m lying — the first thing I noticed was the picture on the right, the 2nd was the banner.  Sorry >_<).  After reading the text, my mind goes “wtf is BlackAcre?” and follows up with “wtf is FSA?”

I fully intended to consult Google for the answer, but I also easily get distracted and never got around to it.

Fast forward to yesterday.  The Traveling Professor (my Property I instructor) picks me as the lucky schlub to go over adverse possession in Howard v. Kunto (477 P.2d 210); I’d actually read and think I understand the material, so it was both an almost-enjoyable and almost-terrifying experience at the same time.  Made it through the case itself without much trouble, get to the book’s problems relating to tacking… and there it is.


Specifically, O seems to own it, A seems to want it, and B & C are either lucky or screwed depending on the various circumstances.  But the coolest part was the text in the footnote (my thoughts noted as I read):

Hypothetical tracts of land have been referred to as BlackAcre, WhiteAcre, and GreenAcre — just why no one knows for sure…

Me: “Ah, so it’s basically a variable name. Like foo and bar in Computer Science. Got it.”

…The Oxford English Dictionary suggests the terms indicate lands growing different crops (peas and beans are black, corn and potatoes are white, hay is green). Or the terms might originally have referred to lands receiving different rents (black rents are payable in produce, white rents in silver)…

Me: “Ooohh and the generic variable names theoretically have meanings behind them too. As opposed to the CSC obsession with simple FUBARing. Interesting…”

…One of the earliest law treatises written in English, Coke on Littleton 148b (1628), refers to BlackAcre and WhiteAcre.

Me: “Awesome, lawyers created internet-style memes over 3 centuries before the internet was even invented — I’m clearly associating myself with the right caliber of people!”

It’s stuff like this that validates my decision to go to law school… ;)

Have a great night y’all! :D

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Oct 1, 2009 at 5:32 PM

So…black acre stands for peas and beans? Because not all beans are black, and peas are green…and I thought you said payable produce was the greenacre…

I’m all confused now :(

Oct 1, 2009 at 9:55 PM

I got it mixed up I guess. The key point is that no one actually knows what they mean :P :)

Oct 1, 2009 at 11:01 PM

oh. ok thats probably why i was confused :(

Oct 2, 2009 at 9:17 PM

Yeah, our Property prof said the same thing: No one knows why it’s called Blackacre; just go with it. And after three weeks of doing future interest garbage, I was ready to bash my head against the desk if I ever heard that name again.

So why did I pick it for my blog sub-heading? Because I am an idiot. And a fan of Property. But that is clearly redundant. FAIL!

Oct 4, 2009 at 12:04 AM

Mmm I’ll get back to you after midterms on whether it’s redundant — it’s definitely not my favorite, but I at least seem to have a slightly-less-vague understanding of it than the other subjects :)


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