6

Queries queries everywhere

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jun 11, 2011 in Site Stats

Good evening folks!

I haven’t compiled one of these Site Stats entries since January, owing largely to the fact law:/dev/null has been slowly atrophying during my chronic absences and I didn’t feel the urge to memorialize it in a blog post ;)

The number of visitors atrophied a bit over the Spring

But despite the chronic disappearances we still had two interesting developments in the statistics department, so I figured I’d go ahead and cobble an entry together.

First, we somehow inexplicably had a +35% spike in folks subscribing to the RSS feed in the past month. That’s the largest month-over-month increase — both in terms of % and # of raw subscribers — since we started publishing via RSS back in November ’09 :surprised:

I have no clue where y’all came from or what prompted you to start reading law:/dev/null via RSS, but welcome! :D

The other surprise was that my disappearances didn’t seem to impact the number of people reaching us via search engine. There were over 1,800+ unique queries made by folks visiting this site since that December entry (9,100+ searches total, with ~400K impressions), setting a record for us in January and setting the #2 and #3 marks in May and April.

We’re currently averaging 350 unique searches a month (compared to 80 this same time a year ago), a perk of producing original content even if it is a bit on the infrequent side :)

***

Here’s a random selection of 20 out of the 360+ unique search terms that brought folks here in May 2011:

  • which t4 law school is the best to attend: NCCU Law. Duh. :P
  • nccu law is hard: That’s generally the idea. If law school was easy, everyone would be doing it ;)
  • suicidal thoughts after law school exam: ok it’s hard, but it’s not that hard. Seriously, your grades don’t matter and there’s -0- point in stressing about what you can’t change.
  • law school, got a c in a class where the median is a b+: Can you change it? No. So stop worrying about it and just do better next time. :*
  • 1l student failed out+someone help me: Talk to your professors and to your mentors. Between the two of them, you’ll know what options you have open to you.
  • do 3ls ever fail: Yep.
  • when will nccu law school grades for 2010-2011 be posted?: They should all be finally online for everyone as of this past week. Though apparently some of my almost-3L colleagues are still waiting to learn whether or not they’ve passed ConLaw :beatup:
  • nccu law unfair grading: 1Ls (and some 2Ls/3Ls) complain about this every year when grades don’t turn out how they want. It’s a myth. Go get your exams from your professors and you’ll see sometimes you really do get things wrong ;)
  • if my final grade is b+ and my midterm was b+ what was my final: It depends on the curve. For example, in CivPro II during my 1L Spring semester there was a +19-point curve on the final exam to get the grade distribution we had.
  • law school c- curve: Doesn’t exist, at least if this well-cited Wikipedia entry on law school curves is to be believed. NCCU Law is among the lowest at 2.0.
  • why is nccu’s law school curve so low?: I’m actually covering this question (and a related one on why we kick people out) in a Mailbag entry I’m hoping to have posted on Monday or Tuesday this coming week — keep an eye out for it :)
  • definition for “madame prosecutor”: This is a loaded query so I’ll plead the Fifth on this one :beatup:
  • i missed my deposit deadline with campbell law: Give them a call and see if you can still pay it. And if not, go somewhere else :angel:
  • unranked law schools worth it: I think so, both here and here.
  • preston mitchum, nccu law: El Presidente, he is my predecessor as SBA President, kicked Harvard Law’s butt in the Luke Charles Moore Invitational, served as President of his 1L and 2L classes, and is an all-around cool guy.
  • has anyone gotten into duke law with a 2.7 gpa and a high score on the lsat: Depends on how high your “high score” is ;)
  • attrition at nccu law: Was #2 highest in the country for a public law school the last time NLJ put a chart together (scroll down), and around #7 highest among public and private law schools combined.
  • unc asg constitution: It’s been shuffled from location to location since I left the organization in April ’10, but you should (hopefully) still be able to find a copy at this URL on iwantmydollarback.org. I have no clue if it’s been amended since then though.
  • t. douchette, nccu law grades: There’s no “h” in my last name :P  But you can find my grades in the transcript at the bottom of this entry.
  • does the the law a pickle is not a pickle unless it bounces to be considered a pickle stand today: Wait… what?? :crack:

Not as exotic as some of the entries from months past, but still fun to dig through :spin:

***

We also have a whole new set for the Top 5 most-viewed posts of the month, including one that vaulted to #2 in just a couple days:

  1. On me nearly missing my CrimPro final: Dear Future 2Ls… (05/04/11)
  2. On my $.02 about 1L grades: Your 1L Grades Don’t Matter (05/29/11)
  3. On closing arguments at TYLA’s Southeast Regionals: Wrong man. Wrong place. Wrong time. (05/05/11)
  4. On slogging through the end of 2L Spring: 2L Year: 1 more exam to go… (05/03/11)
  5. On my 1L Spring grades and NCCU Law’s attrition stats: Spring ’10 Final Grades (or, “A 2L. For srs.”) (06/08/10)

*THANK YOU* to all of you for continuing to check out law:/dev/null despite my chronic disappearances — I truly appreciate you! :heart:

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From the Site Stats archives:

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Not quite according to plan…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Apr 15, 2011 in Fail

Hey everybody :)

I just realized it’s been a week now since I posted that I’d be trying to catch up on old law:/dev/null entries “in the coming day or two”. And in the 7 days since then I’ve only managed to get two of those entries posted, one on my summer school schedule and the other on my 3L Fall schedule :beatup:

As you can probably guess, I completely overestimated the degree of “done”-ness of my semester. On the academic side of things, even with liberally skipping my Business Associations and Criminal Procedure classes to catch up elsewhere, my Fridays have been eaten up with trials for Trial Practice and my paper for Scientific Evidence has turned out to be a bigger deal than I originally thought.

Outside of that, on a personal note the issues with my family have flared up again, and one of my (formerly close) “friends” has essentially decided I’m not worth the time of day now that she no longer needs me around for moral support. And of course the state budget is shaping up to be a disaster for the UNC system and UNCASG continues to be MIA, so I’ve been diving in to start some advocacy work from my vantage point here within the law school.1

One day I’ll get back to updating the blog regularly. Seriously. Until then I’d recommend using our RSS feed so you can get updated whenever new entries get posted instead of waiting for me to get my life together ;)

Thanks for still reading, and have a great weekend! :D

  1. I’ve got a separate entry on it in the works, but I won the Presidency of our Student Bar Association for next year. []

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Five in a row

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Mar 18, 2011 in Randomness

Earlier tonight I swung by UNCCH to grab Coldstone with one of my Legal Eagle colleagues and talk about life around the law school.

And I realized in the process I’ve now voluntarily set foot in Chapel Hill 5 days in a row… something I’m pretty sure didn’t even happen at the height of my UNCASG campus visits.

As a proud Wolfpack alumnus… I feel dirty :beatup:

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Getting caught up

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Mar 12, 2011 in The 2L Life

Hey everybody! :D

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything here at law:/dev/null, largely due to spending Spring Break this past week trying to get caught up on life post-trial team season. I’m still not there yet, but I figured if I waited to post until I was caught up on classwork I wouldn’t have any readers left :beatup:

So what’s been going on over the past week and a half here in Legal Eagle territory? Here’s a bulleted rundown:

  • Wednesday (03/02/11): Finally had my nuked Gmail restored… in its entirety :surprised:  I have to admit I was both surprised and impressed, and I’ll concede I was wrong in my entry predicting the worst. After making sure all of my mail was restored / downloaded / backed up / etc, I stayed up until 2am-ish to make sure I was fully packed and my trial team binder was ready for the AAJ competition I was brought in on.
  • Thursday (03/03/11): Skipped classes to head to the airport, then flew down to Atlanta GA for the AAJ Student Trial Advocacy Competition regionals. The first round wasn’t until Friday night, so I spent the day with the team checking out the city.  We had lunch at the Underground‘s Georgia Peach Restaurant & Lounge — some of the best barbecue I’ve had outside of North Carolina, and their peach-blended tea was delicious too.1 :)
  • Friday (03/04/11): The 2L team’s first round in the AAJ STAC was against the 3Ls from WFU Law. There were some initial jitters when we found out I had already met the presiding judge — the coach of the GSU Law team Christie and I dismantled at the TYLA NTC — but since we didn’t really know how to go about asking for a recusal (and didn’t even know if doing so would even be appropriate given AAJ’s chronic shortage of judges) we just went ahead and did our thing. EIC and M&M were counsel for the defense on that case and turned in a top-notch performance. It provided a big confidence boost to Tinkerbell2 and I heading into the Saturday rounds.
  • Saturday (03/05/11): And with that confidence in-hand, we torched the next two teams we faced on Saturday :D Tinkerbell and I were counsel for the Plaintiff for both rounds, and we first went up against 2Ls from I’m-not-entirely-sure-where.3 The results could be summed up like this: Tinkerbell was so devastating on cross-examination, their lead counsel blurted “DAMN!” in exasperation when yet another one of his objections was (properly) overruled :spin: I also got to deliver my first “split” closing, which went over well with the jury both in its execution and content.

    NCCU Law's 2L and 3L AAJ Trial Teams :D

    We followed that beatdown with a match against the 2Ls from WFU Law, in what was hands-down the toughest match we had. Their cross-examination was sharp, and it seemed like every evidentiary ruling made by the judge was going in their direction whether it was warranted or not. Tinkerbell finally shook them off their game during her cross-examination of the Defendant, who started fabricating facts under the pressure. I was sufficiently heated at that point4 that I was out for blood when it came time for closing arguments, and proceeded to beat the Defense over the head with their own inconsistencies. It was all very satisfying :angel: Afterwards we headed to a post-competition reception, then went back to the hotel and played spades at its downstairs bar until last call.

  • Sunday (03/06/11): We found out our 2L team came in 7th place overall5 and only the Top 4 would advance to the semis, so Sunday got spent checking out the Centennial Olympic Park, the Georgia Aquarium, and then packing up to head back to the Bull City. Before leaving the hotel we also ran into MDG… which was vaguely reminiscent of a 1L nightmare I used to have where I tried to hide from my teachers but they always seemed to find me no matter where I went.6 :beatup:
  • Monday & Tuesday (03/07-08/11): Both of these days get lumped together because they were both spent knocking out life necessities — several loads of laundry, apartment cleaning, turning in travel-related paperwork, and so on.
  • Wednesday (03/09/11): Had a business lunch with the Pickle Princess, who I hadn’t seen since the April festivities celebrating the end of my second term as UNCASG President. After catching up on how our respective lives had progressed over the past year, I gave a tour of my alma mater to a quartet of her students who were participating in a FFA competition we were hosting. Turns out one of them even wants to go to law school eventually :surprised: If I ever get sick of the whole “being a lawyer” thing, I think I’d really love being a booster for N.C. State and for NCCU Law :spin:
  • Thursday & Friday (03/10-11/11): These two get lumped together too, since they were basically split between watching the opening games of the ACC tournament and trying to catch up on all the mounds of schoolwork that amassed themselves between focusing on TYLA, focusing on SBA, and focusing on AAJ.

Which brings us to today: catching up on law school work, catching up with law school friends, and catching up on the law school blog :D

God willing I’ll be able to resume my somewhat-normal life now that I’ll have some free hours again, which in turn should (hopefully) mean more work around the blawgosphere — keep your fingers crossed!7

And until then, have a great night y’all! :)

  1. I did, however, nearly choke to death at one point amid drinking said tea. Madame Prosecutor was not pleased. []
  2. Another 1L K-S veteran with me. She’ll probably object to this nickname, but as 1 of the 2 shortest people I know at NCCU Law I thought it was appropriate ;) []
  3. I think they said Mercer Law, but I can’t remember for the life of me :beatup: []
  4. I know it’s a competition, but lying under oath? Really? []
  5. In reviewing the ballots, we swept Saturday but somehow lost the Friday night round. Even given my natural bias toward my own team, I’m still at a loss to explain how any rational judge (let alone 3 of them) could have arrived at that conclusion. When a pair of Emory Law 3Ls kicked our butts at TYLA, I admitted it to you. The people we went against that night in AAJ were far worse, while EIC and M&M easily outperformed Co-Counsel and I ::shrug:: []
  6. He was supposedly in town for a NBA game, not to tell me my 1L CivPro grades were entered wrong and I had actually failed. []
  7. Unless you don’t actually like reading this stuff, in which case you can stop visiting :P []

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Greetings from Williamsburg!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 25, 2011 in The 2L Life

Good evening y’all! :D

I’m currently blogging from the confines of a hotel room here in Williamsburg Virginia,1 home to the William & Mary Law School that will be hosting the ABA Law Student Division Spring meeting for the 4th Circuit this weekend.2

I’ll be filling in for NCCU Law‘s SBA President, who is currently in Washington DC battling the lawyerly hordes as part of the Luke Charles Moore Invitational. It works out well for the both of us — he’s got the brains to do moot court, and after 2 tours as UNCASG President I’ve got the experience in sitting still in the same room from 8am-4pm listening to people :beatup:

Not sure if anyone from any of the 4th Circuit law schools happen to read law:/dev/null, but if you do and you know anyone coming to this meeting, let me know so I can introduce myself3 :)

More tomorrow. Until then, have a great night!

  1. Right smack in the middle of my birthplace in northern Virginia and my childhood home in Virginia Beach :spin: []
  2. I apologize in advance for linking you to the ABA’s new website. It’s prettier than the old one, but functionality-wise it’s one of the worst I’ve seen for a national organization…  :roll: []
  3. Or let them know so they can find me instead of thinking I’m a stalker ;) []

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Über-huge mini-update on life

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 7, 2011 in The 2L Life

Evening y’all! :D

I’ve been gone from the blawgosphere for what seems like an eternity — I looked at the little calendar thing on the right for January, and for the first time since I started law:/dev/null there were more days without entries posted than with them :beatup:

As you can probably guess, I had totally overcommitted myself this semester. But I’ve started paring back and hope to get back into the swing of things here starting now ::fingers crossed::

Here’s a quick update on my life, which encompasses most of the dozen-ish entries I had queued up but never got around to posting:

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I. ACADEMICS
====================

The academic vibe this semester is totally different from last semester. Thus far I’ve got no real interest in any of my classes… plus I’m behind in pretty much all of them :(

Trial Practice is boring because all the stuff we’re going over — openings / closings / directs / crosses / objections — has already been beaten into my brain from trial team practice (see Part II below). Business Associations would probably be a fun class, if not for the fact I’m about 4 lectures behind in the reading.

Same deal with Scientific Evidence; I’ve got high hopes for enjoying it as the semester progresses, but between falling behind in the reading and class being at 8:30am, I’ve been very “blah” every day. As for Criminal Procedure, I finally managed to get caught up last week just to fall behind again by the next class.

I’ve basically been keeping my head down in all of my classes praying I don’t get called on :beatup: God willing I’ll be able to get everything caught up tomorrow and Tuesday…

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II. EXTRACURRICULAR STUFF I’M IN
====================

Trial team has essentially consumed my life. Back in early January during our first practice I was worried I’d be blown out by my teammates in our draft closing arguments, so I did a lot of prep on mine… and ended up giving the best one :surprised:

That netted me the team captain spot for the 2Ls with the designation as “swing” counsel. Since TYLA teams are either 2 or 3 people, in our case we’ve got 1 person solely doing prosecution, 1 solely doing defense, and the “swing” (me) doing both :crack:

So there have been multi-hour practices 4-5 days a week for a month now. On the off days I’m tweaking things and updating my trial binder and thinking about possible curveballs that could be tossed at us by the competition. Add in the fact I’d never actually questioned a witness before — abjectly failing on the first couple attempts as a result — and you get what’s been an awful loooong month.

For several days I’d get to the law school at 8am and not leave until 10pm, a scenario I assiduously avoided during 1L year and now can’t escape :beatup:

On the SBA end, Treasury work has been a mess too. All NCCU Law school students pay a fee to the main campus student union, which goes into a programming fund to which different organizations can submit requests for event funding. At some point years and years ago, the administrators on main campus decided it would be more efficient to just give the SBA that $$$ paid by law school students and letting us distribute it (since our folks almost never use main campus facilities) instead of having the law school groups submit a boatload of requests to main campus.

Turns out this was all a totally unofficial arrangement. With catastrophic budget cuts looming, the folks on NCCU’s main campus decided a few weeks ago they’re not going to give the SBA that money — months after the fiscal year started and we had adopted a budget including it. So I got to spend a good chunk of late January working with the SBA Exec Board and law school administrators to fill a ~$90K budget hole with only a few months left in our terms.

Fortunately we wrote a very austere budget back in September so we were able to pull it off, but at the cost of having to cancel our Spring appropriations process and trim back a bunch of other expenditures.

My campaign logo+slogan for SBA President

The whole situation’s roots in budget cuts has also persuaded me to run for SBA President in March. The impending cuts being handed down by the state legislature are truly mind-boggling in their enormity. Consider, for example, that for every $1 in state funding that’s eliminated from North Carolina’s university system, tuition has to be raised by $3 to make up the difference. The NCGA is currently talking about cutting $400,000,000.00+ from the UNC system. That means we’re facing $1.2B+ (yes, “billion” with a “b”) in tuition increases just to stay where we are — increases of roughly $5,600 per student.

Those kind of increases lead to mass dropouts like we had back in the early part of this millennium — including your humble author — and it makes for horrible public policy. Our SBA this year had to focus on rebuilding its internal credibility with the Student Body and faculty, and now it’s time for us to focus our sights elsewhere. I think (hope?) my experiences can make me a solid advocate for this university and law school in the year ahead.

I’ll keep you posted on how it all goes :)

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III. EXTRACURRICULAR STUFF I’M NOT IN
====================

Speaking of student advocates, UNCASG has been in the news quite a bit lately — and it seems for all the wrong reasons.

My successor and his administration pushed me out of the group and ran as far away from my way of doing things as quickly as his legs could carry him. I can’t really complain because that’s how politics goes and I certainly did the same thing when I took over.  The difference between then and now, though, is that I discarded things that didn’t work and found ways that did.

On the other hand, the new kids on the block have basically taken a timewarp back to 2006-07 :crack:

First there was a controversy over the President threatening Executive Officers who support local SG candidates who “disagree with the ‘ASG vision'”. This kind of institutional arrogance is precisely what alienated campuses from UNCASG in the past and led to the withdrawals in the year before I was elected. How anyone thought it was a good idea is beyond my limited mental faculties to comprehend; in my world, if you’re going to have to fire someone… you just don’t hire them in the first place.

The UNCCH Carolina Review decided to make hay from the issue with a piece of their own of course. You might recall the folks at the Carolina Review are the self-proclaimed conservatives cited by the Pope Center in the Center’s hit piece on my tuition views last March.1

I can’t blame the Carolina Review for trying to boost their readership with a timely article on a manufactured controversy, but pegging it as a conservative issue struck me as amusing — once upon a time conservatives opposed non-local people getting involved in local affairs. Instead the Review encourages it, as long as the involvement coincides with their own political views.

The whole situation is a mess, and one that should have been avoided. When I originally wrote UNCASG’s Ethics Act 2.5 years ago, I included this provision:

§1-2.5. Electioneering Prohibited.
(a) No Executive Officer receiving compensation funded by student fees shall knowingly engage in election-related advocacy or other campaign activities on behalf of any candidate for elective office at a constituent member of the Association.
(b) No Executive Officer shall allow his or her name and/or official title to be used to further the candidacy of any candidate for elective office at a constituent member of the Association.
(c) This section shall not be construed to prevent an Executive Officer from filing for elective office at a constituent member of the Association and from campaigning on his or her own behalf.

The section was removed in committee, at the urging of students from… UNCCH.2

The folks at the Carolina Review have also been circulating a petition to have a referendum on UNCCH’s participation in ASG put on their Student Government ballot in an effort to have the University remove itself. As the guy who created N.C. State’s student fee referenda from scratch back when I was Student Senate President, I’m actually in total support of having this particular referendum… but (unsurprisingly) they haven’t yet collected enough signatures to get it on the ballot. If they did, it would deprive them of an issue to carp about :roll:

“But TDot,” you say, “all of the stuff you’re talking about is small potatoes. None of this matters when a group is doing meaningful work and making a difference.” And you’d be right — but that’s not what’s actually going on.

Instead of focusing on the impending tuition battle I mentioned in Part I above, the leadership of UNCASG has focused instead on getting the President a vote on the university system’s Board of Governors — an utterly useless power on a Board where almost all votes are unanimous, and doubly useless when reaching out to the 215,000+ students the ASG President represents can carry more power than any vote. The last ASG meeting produced a total lack of consensus on a legislative agenda, leading to a factually-inaccurate DTH editorial touting a student vote as a good thing to try and fix the total dysfunction currently gripping the group.

The DTH (unsurprisingly) is wrong. Unfortunately the ASG leadership is wrong too.

Then there are the upcoming campus elections which will produce the next salvo of anti-ASG fireworks when new SBPs take office in a few months. Among the amusing candidacies is Rick Ingram, the odds-on favorite to become Student Body President at UNCCH. You might remember Ingram as the Kerry-esque flip-flopper who voted in favor of the UNCASG budget before he decided it would be more beneficial politically to oppose it. He’s been aggressively courting students for their votes — apparently so much so that the campus’s Board of Elections has already fined him for violating campaign rules and is now debating having him disqualified.3

Ingram also proclaimed on his website that “The simple truth is this — the days of fighting against tuition increases are over.”… an odd proclamation from a student and aspiring student leader in light of $1.2B+ in upcoming tuition hikes, and one which (1) the media (unsurprisingly) never covered and (2) promptly disappeared from his website when it became a political liability. Ingram’s victory would speak volumes about the UNCCH electorate, but more ominously it would ensure UNCASG wastes all of next year fighting pointless internal battles instead of serving students.

With all of this drama going on, for some unknown reason I made the mistake of heading to the NC General Assembly to catch up with some old colleagues and ask a few legislators of their thoughts on the situation. To say UNCASG has lost nearly all the credibility we built for it over two years would be putting it mildly :mad:  If I had any doubt that things were really as bad as they seemed, I actually got calls from several campuses asking me to come back and run for the organization’s Senior Vice President position.4 It’s disheartening that I’m actually considering it…

====================
IV. PERSONAL LIFE
====================

The saying “when it rains, it pours” was a pretty good epitaph for January 2011.

I was sick for the first week. My sister was committed to a mental institution the second week. QT’s dad unexpectedly died of a heart attack the week after. That very same day in trial team practice I found out a friend of mine was killed in a car accident.

At some point around that portion of the month I discovered both of my parents are either currently having or recently had affairs (I was sufficiently disappointed in both of them that I didn’t bother to inquire further) and the situation with my sister has them contemplating divorce. My dad was laid off from his job. My sister got released from the mental hospital and within the week was off her meds and smoking weed like she had nothing better to do with her time. At which point my parents discovered she had been stealing my mom’s jewelry to sell in an effort to finance her drug habit. Etc etc etc ad nauseum.

I’m pretty sure there was other crazy sh*t going on last month too but I did my best to forget as much of it as possible :beatup:  I’m trying to be a supportive friend to QT and her brother as best I can, trying to avoid the quagmire that is my family and their attendant refusal to make the tough decisions necessary to actually improve their lives, and otherwise trying to avoid having my generally sunshine-y disposition rained out on a near-daily basis like it did last month.

====================
V. PROFESSIONAL STUFF
====================

Things are at least marginally better on the professional side. I’ve started my tutoring sessions with the 1Ls in Criminal Law, and so far I’ve got the highest-attended tutorial and office hours out of the 15 different 1L classes (3 each in CrimLaw, CivPro, Torts, Property, and Ks). It’s too early to tell if that trend’s going to continue, but the feedback has been very positive and it really boosts my spirits :spin:

My internship with I-Cubed was also going really well. The people are great, the company culture is cool, the issues are interesting, and I was turning in sterling work product (even earning the praise of an attorney at another tech company). I was also getting addicted to the four-figure paychecks…

…but I walked away :surprised:

Between trial team consuming my time, my personal life being a crucible, and trying to keep up with academics, I just wasn’t able to give the company the 20 hours a week they needed. So I met with the CEO last week (my boss) and basically quit for now. I’m still part of the company and available for non-time-sensitive ad hoc projects as needed, but I’ve otherwise wound down to -0- hours a week until summer when the company will re-assess if I’m still useful to them.

It was the first time I’ve left a job since 2002, when I quit the State Bar to go take a leadership spot in the Wake County Clerk’s Office. There’s a part of me that’s terrified I made the wrong choice, especially with all the doom and gloom about the economy and law school employment stats and etc. But honestly I’d rather put everything out on the table and take my chances down the road than either (1) being miserable every day as I’m stretched too far in too many directions, or (2) start failing at things, turning in below-par work, and ending up getting fired anyway ;)

It was an awesome opportunity and I’m thankful for it, and I’ve got faith everything will work out exactly how it’s supposed to work out :)

====================
VI. BLAWG LIFE
====================

Spam combat on the backend of this blog has been continuing apace. My edition of the (badly-delayed) Law School Roundup will be coming up this week so I can punt the ball back over to Katie Luper :)

And oddly enough we had a real explosion in Google searches last month, so even though I had almost no entries in January we still had fairly decent traffic :crack:

I’ve also got a piece on tap for Beyond Hearsay that should be going live some time over the next couple weeks, and one for The True Verdict that I’m working on in my spare time — hopefully you’ll like them both ;)

—===—

That’s it for this entry y’all! I’m sorry for being gone as long as I was, but I’m gonna make a serious effort to get back in the game.

Until next time, have a great week! :D

  1. Views they fabricated from whole cloth despite five years’ worth of publicly-available commentary to the contrary. []
  2. Conservative UNCCH students at that, who saw an opportunity to back one of their own SBP candidates with ASG EOs. []
  3. Ingram’s response to the potentially-disqualifying allegations is quite entertaining. Anyone who’s taken the “Detection of Deception” CLE should be able to spot several items where he’s being dishonest with the Board; see if you can find them :) []
  4. I wrote term limits into the ASG Constitution so I’m ineligible to serve as President ever again. []

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Week #68 in Review

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 27, 2010 in Weekend Roundup

I disappeared again, sorry! :beatup:

Out of the 144 weeks from the time Orientation started until I get my J.D. in May 2012, something about the 2-day class week before Thanksgiving triggers a feeling of “omgwtfshootmeplzkthxu”.

Out of curiosity I checked the law:/dev/null archives for this same time last year, and sure enough there was this entry on panic setting in before finals. I’ve got the same feeling a year later, so blogging took a back seat for the week.

But, today was game day again — which means I got absolutely nothing productive accomplished and could properly get things updated here. Plus it gave me an excuse to tag an entry for the Weekend Roundup category for the first time since Week 8 ;)

Here’s a week-in-review look back at what’s happened in my life over the past 7 days:

  • As I hinted before my disappearance, last Saturday was spent with 雅雅 as we watched the N.C. State Wolfpack stage an amazing comeback to defeat the Baby Blue Powder Puffs of the University of Non-Compliance at Cheater Haven — for the 4th time in 4 years :D We ended up winning by a score of 29-25, which included one of the most improbable touchdown catches I’ve ever seen in college football; check around the 2:13 mark of this NCSU-UNX highlight videofor the whole play. After the requisite celebrating and trash-talking, we headed out to go see Harry Potter VII Part I… and I was generally unimpressed. No hate mail please :P

    My SBA colleague after her team lost last week

  • Got to spend Sunday afternoon picking out a Wolfpack shirt for the SBA secretary, who happens to (1) be a UNCCH graduate and (2) have an affinity for making outlandish bets on losing sports teams ;)  The rest of the day was used to revise my brief in opposition to the State’s motion in limine for DV Law, then frantically figuring out what on Earth I was going to say during oral arguments.
  • Monday was compartmentalized into three distinct phases. Oral arguments took place Monday morning and turned out fairly well, even though I didn’t get to use several of the pre-packaged zingers I had prepared just in case :(  The afternoon was spent being annoyed about this UNCASG news piece in the Daily Tar Heel — and for once it wasn’t because of what the DTH printed. Bear in mind there is nothing at all whatsoever in any of ASG’s governing documents that dictates what amount (if any) officers have to be paid, yet these people are amending its Constitution and eliminating a constitutionally-mandated financial oversight position, purportedly to save money they’re not required to pay in the first place. “We mismanaged our budget, so let’s eliminate one of the key people responsible for making sure we don’t mismanage our budget” is the unspoken message being sent to the UNC Board of Governors and the other political players in North Carolina.1 :crack: Then Monday night was right here in front of the laptop banging away at my last Legal Letters assignment of the semester until the wee hours of the morning.
  • Tuesday was my very last Legal Letters class ever, which called for celebration.  Even though the professor was cool the material was just mind-numbingly bland and no amount of caffeine / cash / illegal narcotics could keep someone awake in it :beatup:  I also had an interview with the tech company I mentioned last week, which I think went well but honestly I’m not sure; I’m supposed to get a call this coming week with a thumbs up or thumbs down. The prospect of getting the job has me insanely nervous because everything I’ve done up until this point has either been trivially easy2 or difficult-but-practically-a-hobby.3 This would be a combination of being totally new, probably difficult, and sufficiently not-a-hobby that I’d be fired if I screw up. Which I don’t think I will, but you get the point. I’ve always been a high-risk/high-reward type of person, but I still get butterflies in my stomach in the process…
  • In anticipation of Thanksgiving, I used Wednesday to finally clean my apartment thoroughly for the first time since the semester started getting crazy. Washed all my clothes, cleaned up the wasteland that was quickly becoming my kitchen, and so on. Stocked up on food for the holiday, donated $$ I didn’t have to the Durham Rescue Mission to help those who aren’t as lucky as I am, then went home, put all the food away… and ended up falling asleep in the recliner watching TV :oops:
  • Thursday of course was Thanksgiving. It was only me this year, but I was blessed to have a handful of folks offer up their own meals if I wanted them — I declined though, because I wanted to experiment with cooking my very first turkey without potentially killing anyone ;)  It turned out well for a first attempt4 so I was happy. Followed that up with the obligatory mashed potatoes and gravy, some steamed broccoli and cheese,5 and a few rolls. The only downside is that I will be eating turkey-related leftovers for weeks :sick:  In between cooking and eating, also spent about 8 (non-contiguous) hours sending personalized text messages to folks wishing them a happy Thanksgiving. Maybe a little crazy, but cheaper than sending a bunch of holiday greeting cards no one reads…
  • And then yesterday was pretty much spent banging my head against the desk in the hope that something useful would fall out for this Evidence memo due on Monday. It’s ostensibly optional extra credit, but when (1) you’re graded on a curve and (2) a majority of your classmates are going to turn something in, “optional” isn’t really optional :beatup:  I’m in the position of defense counsel in a criminal case (sound familiar?) trying to block the State’s effort to get evidence introduced under FRE 404(b) about prior bad acts allegedly committed by my client. The only problem is that pretty much every case I’ve found that holds any weight for this particular factual scenario says the evidence needs to come in, and the more exotic theories I’ve come up with are even more thoroughly refuted :mad:  I’m going to come up with something, but doggone it I hate making losing arguments…

NC State got Ron Cherry'd on UMD's 4th and 1

Which brings us to today. My Wolfpack disgraced themselves in College Park, Maryland, losing to the Terrapins by 31-38. We actually played far worse than the box score indicates, scoring 14 points in the first 9 minutes and 14 points in the last 4 minutes — making only a 3-point field goal during the 47 minutes in between. NC State got screwed when Maryland was given a first down they didn’t earn on 4th and 1 with under a minute left (see the photo), but the truth is we played so horribly that we pretty much deserved to lose anyway.

I’m not in a position to complain since I predicted we’d end the season at 7-5 and we’re actually 8-4, so I’m just gonna be happy with our bowl game and look forward to next season :spin:

The rest of this evening has been spent trading critiques with EIC about our various papers due tomorrow (Evidence and DVLaw for me, both of those plus Race and the Law for her). And finally writing this blog entry :D

All in all it’s been a good week… and now exams are upon us :eek:  GOOD LUCK to everyone facing finals, and if you have a few prayers to spare feel free to send them my way ;)

  1. And that’s not even touching the fact they’ve supposedly burned through more money in less time than I did during either of my two terms, despite me making over 115+ separate campus visits in addition to the group setting three separate attendance records while making do with more-expensive travel options (reimbursing rental cars over paying straight IRS mileage rates) and a smaller budget. And yes, I realize I’m retired and at some point I really should stop caring, but considering massive tuition hikes are on the horizon for everybody it’d be nice if the students’ representatives could get their act together… []
  2. Paralegal work, teaching Intro to Java, etc. []
  3. Being a research intern at the Legislature, leading the single most-distinguished student deliberative assembly ever conceived in the State of North Carolina, etc. []
  4. Ever-so-slightly overcooked, but nothing a little gravy couldn’t fix :beatup:  Also, props to Butterball for having mini-turkeys for small Thanksgiving meals :D []
  5. My first time cooking broccoli too! []

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“Always record-breaking” :)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 5, 2010 in Student Government

I’ve been a big fan of my colleagues in the NCCU Law Student Bar Association since we took office in April, and (surprisingly) we all still get along exceptionally well. Aside from one minor pseudo-controversy in May I can’t recall a single time where we’ve butted heads or couldn’t reach a consensus on something.

It’s definitely a fun experience.

But as much as I enjoy the warm fuzzy feelings, I’m a bigger fan of cold hard data — and earlier tonight we got confirmation this year’s SBA is pretty awesome, raising over $4,400+ for the first quarter of our fiscal year :D

That’s not only a 53.6% spike over the year-ago quarter, but a spike that came despite a shrinking student body due to funding cuts by the North Carolina General Assembly.

And based on the records I’ve been given, I’m pretty sure it’s an all-time record for us1 :spin:

We’ve still got three quarters to go of course, but things are turning out pretty well so far — and that’s $4K more we’re now able to give out in student organization appropriations that don’t have to come from student fees ;)

Hope all of you had a great day too, and have a good night! :)

  1. The title of this post is from a November 2009 UNCASG meeting in response to the 38-year attendance record we set then, after setting all-time records for several other metrics since I had taken office in July 2008. Then-SBP Jasmin Jones of UNC Chapel Hill exclaimed “We’re always record-breaking at something!”… and it has since turned into a dismissive gag response any time I talk about setting a record at anything. :beatup: []

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“So sue me”

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 24, 2010 in Student Government

Folks, I know y’all get sick of me complaining about a certain campus newspaper, but the effort it expends to manufacture controversy about the UNC Association of Student Governments really perplexes me at times — and unfortunately it’s one of the few publications regularly read by folks at UNC General Administration.

Yet another example comes to us in today’s paper (original story available here at dailytarheel.com):

ASG actions may be illegal
Lobbying may violate state law
By ISABELLA COCHRANE | The Daily Tar Heel

The body that voices the students’ views to administrators and elected officials could be carrying out its top priority — lobbying legislators — illegally.

The UNC Association of Student Governments, which includes delegates from 17 UNC system institutions, has been meeting with legislators and presenting them with petitions to keep tuition low for students.

But association President Atul Bhula was unaware of a N.C. law requiring organizations that fulfill certain criteria to register with the N.C. Secretary of State’s Office before lobbying.

Bhula received a notice from the office Wednesday reminding him of the law. The department has not yet determined whether the association fits the definition of a lobbyist group.

If the organization fits the definition of a lobbyist group and does not register, it could be banned from lobbying for up to two years as well as face a $5,000 fine, spokeswoman for the office Liz Proctor said.

State statutes define a lobbyist as someone who is paid to engage in lobbying for a governmental purpose.According to the statutes, a lobbyist must spend more than 5 percent of his or her time per month actively trying to influence legislative or executive decisions.

If lobbying is the association’s top priority, they could fall under that category.

Bhula’s stipend as ASG president is $7,000 per year, which is paid for by student fees — a $1 fee from every student in the UNC system. Other officers in the organization are paid $1,000 to $5,500.

Christy Tillery, a paralegal with the N.C. Ethics Commission, said true unregistered lobbyists violate state law.

“If you’re a true lobbyist in regards to the definition you should be registered,” Tillery said. The state law requiring organizations to register went into effect in 2007.

Continued lobbying without being registered in North Carolina is a misdemeanor offense.

“I never registered, and I’d be skeptical of anyone saying they have to do so,” said former ASG President Greg Doucette.

Doucette said he doubts that ASG members fit the definition of a lobbyist because they don’t spend that much time persuading legislators.

“Right now the legislation isn’t even in session until January,” Doucette said. “Basically we’ll only have a couple of months to lobby.”

Doucette said an argument could be made that because ASG officers receive compensation, they need to be registered.

“Everyone who does not receive a stipend doesn’t even meet the definition of a lobbyist because no money is changing hands,” Doucette said.

Bhula said he had not looked into registering with the state earlier because he was unaware that the organization fit the criteria of a lobbyist.

“Regardless, we’re going to lobby this year. We’re going to get that taken care of as soon as possible,” Bhula said.

The organization plans to have someone lobbying in Washington, D.C., but focus for this year will be state legislators, he said.

“At the federal level we’d be looking at Pell Grants to ensure we have more money,” Bhula said. “The federal stimulus money is going to run out so it’s a hard battle to fight there.”

Bhula said he plans to discuss the registration process at the organization’s next meeting Saturday so ASG can lobby legislators in the future.

“We hope to more effectively use our dollar for internal investments,” Bhula said.

“Lobbying in North Carolina is our main concern.”

Proctor said that despite the group’s past lobbying actions, the state department was unaware of the association’s actions with legislators.

“This is the first time that we have heard anything about it,” she said.

Contact the State & National Editor at stntdesk@unc.edu.

Published September 23, 2010 in Association of Student Governments, News, State

Now I know the news reporters don’t usually write their own headlines so I can’t be too upset about that part, but weasel words are generally bad form for something purporting to be news. Just about anything “may” be illegal.

Then there’s the mischaracterization of what the law actually says (something I’ve suspected may be common with most media outlets). You can read the current lobbying laws in North Carolina for yourself, but the synopsis is that they just don’t apply to the UNC Association of Student Governments.

The main reason is that we’re a unit of government under the UNC umbrella. We don’t get to manage our own budget; a $1/student fee is paid to UNCGA who handles all the accounting and places numerous (onerous) restrictions on what UNCASG can do as a result. The group’s President is an ex-officio member of the University system’s policy-making Board of Governors. The group’s office manager, employed by UNCASG, is a state employee.1 I could happily list other criteria explaining why we’re a government entity — and thus exempt from the lobbyist registration law — but you get the idea.

Let’s assume though, for the sake of argument, UNCASG isn’t a government agency and is in fact a private non-profit: the lobbying law still wouldn’t apply because none of the UNCASG personnel meet the criteria of a “lobbyist.”

Under the relevant subsection that would apply to UNCASG, the statute’s two elements required to be a “lobbyist” include being an employee who “a significant part of [his/her] duties include lobbying” and “in no 30‑day period less than five percent (5%) of that employee’s actual duties include engaging in lobbying”. None of the UNCASG personnel meet both elements.

First, contrary to the article’s claim, lobbying the N.C. General Assembly isn’t UNCASG’s “top priority” and lobbying simply doesn’t constitute a “significant part” of anyone’s duties — something the DTH already knew.

How did they know? Because their substandard Editorial Board attacked me in one of their hit pieces last year2 for my “piggybacking” strategy with the Legislature, where UNCASG relied on the professional (and registered) lobbyists of UNCGA to do the bulk of the lobbying work, then have student leaders dropping in when it would be politically effective for us to do so.

UNCASG’s top priority is keeping in touch with the 215,000+ students it represents. It’s second priority is representing those voices on the UNC Board of Governors. Lobbying state legislators is quite a bit further down the totem pole, if it’s even on there at all.

Assuming arguendo that lobbying was a “significant part” of anyone’s duties in UNCASG, they still wouldn’t meet the second element required to be “lobbyists.”

Even at the height of my lobbying activity during my two terms in office — when we were successfully saving students over $25+ million dollars — I doubt I spent more than a few hours in an entire month at the N.C. General Assembly. That’s just how the political game gets played. You don’t talk to everyone in the Legislature; you talk to the key leaders who can pull votes, and since everyone else is doing the same thing you’re usually only going to get 10-15 minutes of their time.

If you assume the UNCASG Presidency is a 40-hour-a-week job,3 the President has up to 8 hours a month to lobby without becoming a “lobbyist” under this statute.

And if any President is spending more time than that on lobbying, they’re doing it wrong.

One final point before I wrap up:  I was working for a lobbyist when the lobbying laws were drafted. I know who they were intended to affect, and I know who they did affect. Student-run student advocacy groups weren’t in either of those categories.

So if the N.C. Secretary of State’s Office or the Ethics Commission or anyone else is seriously concerned about UNCASG’s past lobbying efforts, I encourage them to file a claim against me. They’re going to be exceptionally hard-pressed to find anything even vaguely resembling the slightest scintilla of evidence that I or anyone on my staff was ever a “lobbyist” within the letter, the meaning, or the spirit of this statute.

And given the DTH Editorial Board’s lingering bitterness over my “aggressive character attacks” and their almost-comical efforts to rebuke me after-the-fact for them, I give them a week or so at most before they write an op/ed saying I was wrong and UNCASG should waste spend $100/person of student fee money to register their people as lobbyists…

  1. I’m unaware of any non-government entity whose full-time staff are considered state employees protected under the State Personnel Act. []
  2. Conspicuously absent from their online archives… []
  3. A number that is far too low if the job is being done properly. []

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2

So *this* is what Rodney Dangerfield meant…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 16, 2010 in Student Government

I think it’s pretty safe to conclude that you’ve successfully gotten under someone’s skin when they insist on talking about you half a year after you’re gone ;)

That’s apparently the case with those wacky aspiring-pundits-in-training over at the UNCCH Daily Tar Heel’s Editorial Board, who randomly decided to give me some free publicity earlier today. You can read the whole editorial here, but I’ve copied/pasted below1 to emphasize a part that just really hurt my soul all the way down to the core:

The Interview: New ASG president Atul Bhula is still lacking some substance to his proposals. But he’s got the right idea.
By EDITORIAL BOARD | The Daily Tar Heel
Updated: 12:45 AM

The Interview is a new opinion page feature. We’ll have extended interviews with people who affect our community, written by members of the editorial board. Today, Mark Laichena writes about Atul Bhula.

Listening to Atul Bhula, 2010-2011 president for the University of North Carolina’s Association of Student Governments, one gets the feeling that the association is on solid ground.

It certainly needs it. ASG has underperformed through much of its recent existence.

Never really working out how to make the most of the $1 it has collected annually since 2002 from each of the more than 200,000 students in the UNC system, ASG suffered humiliation as its president was charged with assault in 2007. Ignominy continued as some UNC campuses sidelined ASG and others withdrew their delegations.

Greg Doucette, the next and most recent former president, brought stability by serving enthusiastically from 2008-2010, though the results were hardly worthy of the hundreds of thousands of dollars the organization cost students.

So Bhula hasn’t exactly taken on the most popular job in town.

No matter: For the next seven months, he represents the entire UNC-system student body — even if not all students support his role.

Bhula launches into a discussion on tuition when asked about his top priorities, echoing practically all his predecessors by talking about keeping it “as low as possible.”

Reaching what he thinks ASG can actually do takes a little more prodding. He refuses to be tied to any targets quite yet: The organization “is still waiting for output from ASG’s research division” on the potential effect of tuition raises on UNC students, and a tuition subcommittee has just been formed.

It seems that Bhula, an MBA student at Appalachian State University, has embraced bureaucratic organization as the way to carry ASG forward. He says that he could have an action plan by October — so we’ll have to reserve judgement for now.

The ASG president’s main role is representing students to the UNC-system Board of Governors, but “hitting the legislature is a main priority.”

Bhula highlights contingency planning as a challenge ahead. The $750 tuition raise that came from the legislature over the summer blindsided the ASG, which had led a successful but comparatively insignificant tuition petition in the spring.

“So it really shows the power of the state government, and the importance of engaging them.”

There’s a frankness to Bhula’s outlook that is refreshing — particularly compared with his immediate predecessor, who engaged in aggressive character attacks through regular blog posts, called “T. Greg’s Tomes”.

Bhula sees a core part of his job as “selling the university.”

It’s a reminder of how big the job is: The UNC system comprises 16 universities and the N.C. School of Science and Math; more than 170,000 full-time students and almost 50,000 part-time students.

“The legislators aren’t hearing enough from students,” he says. “They love talking to students, especially those from the constituencies they represent.”

“ASG can get students there, and make sure they are informed.”

The ASG president is keeping his cards to his chest on the big ideas for connecting students to the state government, but it’s not hard to imagine the options on the table. For Student Day at the Capitol last May, around 30 students went to the legislature: A significantly larger presence during the General Assembly’s long session in the spring might send a strong message.

Bhula indicates he is looking to past projects for ideas. He mentions the Personal Stories project, a book that aimed to put faces on UNC-system students, which was produced during president Amanda Devore’s term in 2004-05.
“You still see it in legislators’ offices,” he said.

Thinking about projects leads us to the $260,000 question: How ASG spends its budget. Many have been critical of officers’ stipends, which range from the $7,000 for Bhula down to $1,000 for the secretary.
Bhula thinks the figures are fair.

“Students working for ASG could be working or interning, so if we don’t compensate them, ASG will only be open to elites who don’t have to work.

“And if officers don’t do their jobs, I’ll fire them,” he adds.

He’s quick to suggest other ways to save money, such as returning to one- or two-day meetings to cut hotel expenses.

And what to do with the saved money? “It’s all about returning value to students by funding for projects that benefit UNC-system students. That’s where the Personal Stories book might come in, and I’m not going to give up on working for campus innovation grants.”

Bhula has answers for the standard criticisms of the ASG, but he doesn’t have an answer for everything.

The ASG president admits that he doesn’t know what similar student associations in other states are doing.

“But that’s a great idea.”

I ignored the logical incoherence of citing UNCASG’s “successful… tuition petition in the spring” — saving students millions of dollars two years in a row — while still insisting “the results were hardly worthy of the hundreds of thousands of dollars the organization cost students.” UNCCH is a liberal arts University, and the bitter troglodytes running their student newspaper’s op/ed page can be forgiven if they never learned basic math (e.g. that “million” is a larger unit of measurement than “thousand” or even “hundreds of thousands”).

And I  even ignored the characterization that pointing out an organization’s ineptitude is tantamount to “aggressive character attacks.” This is the same Editorial Board, after all, whose conservative editor decided to contact me via Facebook half a year ago to express his outrage (outrage!) that I had dared to exercise the same First Amendment rights to highlight the Board’s incompetence that the Board used to pen the incompetence in the first place. Feel free to read through the transcript if you need a chuckle.2

No, folks, neither of those issues gave me even the slightest pause; I’d grown accustomed to this level of mediocrity from these folks.3 You know what did get me? You know what kept me awake at night, and even moved me to the verge of tears?4

Characterizing T. Greg’s Tomes as mere “regular blog posts” :beatup:

Never mind that over a third of the Tomes were written before law:/dev/null was even created — only 3 of the 19 have ever been posted on this blog in the first place!5 It’s almost like the Editorial Board members intentionally ignored the fact my 8 separate entries providing blow-by-blow dissections of their inadequacies were composed and promulgated via Facebook to ensure a higher readership than the traffic we were getting here at the time.

Or, in the words of Mr. Dangerfield, “I get no respect. No respect at all.” :cry:

LMAO :spin:

Have a great night y’all! I promise I’ll have some law-related content tomorrow in celebration of Constitution Day!! :D

  1. In line with the Fair Use Doctrine of course, should any of the DTHers feel the urge to claim copyright infringement :* []
  2. It’s worth a laugh, and begs the question: could “Don’t patronize me [bro]” ever take off as an internet meme alongside its “Don’t Tase Me Bro!” cousin? []
  3. Like willfully ignoring their (endorsed) supposedly-not-a-candidate Rick Ingram’s unauthorized use of multiple university listservs to not-really-campaign for the office-he’s-not-really-seeking. Feel free to re-read the transcript if you don’t understand my amusement. ;) []
  4. Just in case your built-in melodrama detector isn’t working, I’m not being serious here :D  I don’t think I’ve ever lost sleep over a DTH editorial… []
  5. In March, in April, and in June. Feel free to read through those entries and decide for yourself if they’re “aggressive character attacks” — they also contain links to the entries on Facebook if you want to read those too :) []

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