In an effort to clear out the stories I flagged but didn’t get around to writing up during 2011, here’s an end-of-last-year assortment that collects some of those, in no particular rank or order. I might or might not return to some of these tales; as you may have noticed, there is no shortage of material, and I don’t want to fall too far behind.
- “Author of polka song sues ex-wife, her husband,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (June 28, 2011) (describing a suit alleging infringement of plaintiff’s rights to “Yodelin’ Boy Polka”).
- “Dead letters,” Futility Closet (July 8, 2011) (describing Cummins v. Bond, a 1926 case in which a medium claimed to have the copyright on messages she allegedly received from disembodied spirits); see also “Copyright of Automatic Writing,” 13 Va. L. Rev. 22 (1926-27) (same).
- “FDA cracks down on Fremont man’s sperm donations,” KCBS.com (Dec. 7, 2011) (noting FDA had classified him as “a manufacturer of human cells”).
- “Manhattan lawyer Richard Katz sues spa over free breakfast,” New York Daily News (Nov. 10, 2011) (noting Katz demanded over half a million dollars – $750,000, actually – for allegedly reneging on the free-breakfast promise).
- “Man accused of theft uses paranormal defense,” 10TV.com (Nov. 23, 2011) (noting defendant’s claim that he didn’t know stolen property was in his basement because a “paranormal presence” prevented him from going down there; surprisingly, he was later convicted).
- “Man sues lender for revealing to wife that another woman was making his car payments,” The Consumerist (Dec. 2, 2011) (self-explanatory).
- “This post will exceed your expectations,” The Lawyer (Dec. 7, 2011) (an excellent post criticizing jargon; cites an article in Harvard Business Review in which the author admitted that in about half of his conversations he had “almost no idea what other people are saying”).
- “Italian court reveals no evidence ever linked Amanda Knox to murder, Satanic orgies,” Jezebel (Dec. 16, 2011) (quoting court’s report saying that original verdict “was not corroborated by any objective element of evidence”).
- “Shoplifters get robbed while stealing from supermarket,” New York Daily News (Dec. 19, 2011) (notable partly for the karmic aspect, partly for the truly remarkable mugshot).
- “TSA confiscates cupcake, calls frosting a ‘gel,‘” Boing Boing (Dec. 22, 2011) (speaks for itself about U.S. airline security, which remains both hugely expensive and entirely pointless).
And those are just some of the items I didn’t get to. A summary of those I did cover during the past year will be coming out shortly in The Green Bag‘s Almanac & Reader, where “A Year of Lowering the Bar” has appeared since 2010. (They were kind enough to publish my series “If Great Literary Works Had Been Written by Lawyers” way back in 1999 and 2000, and are still being kind.)