This One Is For You, Paul Gowder!

Paul Gowder suggested on a prior thread authored by my esteemed colleague, Eric Muller, that we all “shut up about” the topic at hand. I took that to mean that Mr. Gowder had had his fill for the day of law professor pontification about topics that have nothing to do with what I know I find to be an issue of import and likely Mr. Gowder does as well – cable t.v.

Because I am a “customer-focused” blogger, I want to be responsive to Mr. Gowder’s preferences. I am therefore happy to move the discussion to more worthy topics. So, here is the critical question, Paul Gowder: Should I have my cable t.v. at home canceled this summer, in preparation for the cable-free life I will be living in the fall term, when I am away visiting (and living in a rental place without cable)? Additionally, I anticipate that the place where I will be living/renting in the spring term of 2007 does not have cable either, such that I will be forcibly cable-free for at least 9 months in total. I have toyed for some time with the idea of cutting off my cable here in Richmond (where I now live and where I will continue to own a home) for good, basically now, since it is only a matter of time before I will be cable-less on my visits, but I have not yet had the guts to pull the plug. Paul Gowder, should I do it? And should I do it *now*?


I must admit, the idea of living for the rest of this summer (and forever more) without SquawkBox, Dateline, and My Fair Brady just. . . well. . . makes me a little bit nervous. Perhaps you can relate? And if I cut off my cable t.v. but later find that I cannot survive without it, it will cost $50 to have the cable t.v. switched back on! (Not to mention the cost of the day lost, waiting for the cable guy to show up some time between 7 a.m. and 7:45 p.m.) That is why I am bringing this matter of import to you, Mr. Gowder. I need some advice, and, while I normally get my life advice from Kate Litvak, I thought I would branch out.

To be perfectly candid, however, it was not only you, Mr. Gowder, whose words raised the difficult cable t.v. question in my mind. James Grimmelmann , who posted on a thread of mine recently, also prompted me to think more about permanently giving up cable. Specifically, Mr. Grimmelmann made clear with his post on my thread that he knew that “Venn Diagram” was spelled “Venn” as opposed to “ven.” Not everyone knows that, and Mr. Grimmelmann’s superficial indicia of braininess prompted me to surf his website, the laboratorium, to see if he really was brainy (or whether the “Venn” point was just a red herring). As you will see if you surf his website, Mr. Grimmelmann does indeed appear to be a very smart fellow, and, for that reason, I paid careful attention to the content of his website.

On the laboratorium, Mr. Grimmelmann discusses (among other interesting things) arranging his (apparently extensive) collection of books by size, color, and/or topic. That personal disclosure hit me like a slap in the face. I have *never* thought about arranging my personal (non-work) book collection by color, size, *or* title. Moreover, between watching cable t.v., writing scholarly things, maintaining my home, working out, eating, raising Maggie-the-Dog, caring for Buster-the-horse, teaching, writing more stuff, taking guest blogging gigs, and sleeping, I would not have time to arrange my book collection in such a thoughtful manner. Yet I would like to be more Grimmelmann -esque. In order to be more Grimmelmann -esque, however, it appears that something in my life has to give, and, short of getting rid of the dog or giving up exercise, it seems to me that cable t.v. is the only place in my schedule where I can make a drastic cut. Hence, this musing that perhaps I need to give up cable t.v. in full in order to free up some time in my life.

Another significant issue rears its ugly head, however, when I begin to contemplate giving up cable t.v. To wit, how should I determine what to read (for “pleasure reading” purposes), such that I can amass a more extensive collection of books to diligently arrange by color, size, and/or title? My most recent attempt to ascertain what to read by asking a knowledgeable peer led to my reading “The Kite Runner.” That book was horribly sad (despite being beautifully written), such that I have no desire to read contemporary fiction again any time soon. And I have been working my way through Larry Mitchell’s “Corporate Irresponsibility,” but that book is short – it is not going to sustain me for long. I will next go to Arthur Levitt’s “Take on the Street,” then to Allan Farnsworth’s “Apology” book, and then to Maureen Dowd’s recent book, but what should I read after that? What comes next, to fill the anticipated cable t.v. hole in my life? I have a nice stack of Christine Hurt’s reprints, and I have been meaning to re-read Dave Hoffman’s “Rational Shareholder” article, but I cannot say that those are the sorts of things I want to sit in my rocking chair on my porch with a glass of wine and read on a Saturday evening. (No offense to either Professor. I would not want to read *my* reprints or *anyone’s* reprints with a glass of wine on a Saturday night.) And, though my research assistant has convinced me that reading Sartre will be helpful with my ventures to define “not in good faith,” I cannot imagine I want to spend every free moment with Sartre.

So, Mr. Gowder, here is the second question of import: What books should I add to my “Nowicki Without Cable” summer reading list? (While the question is directed to Mr. Gowder as part of my pursuit to be blogging-consumer friendly, everyone should feel free to respond, including Mr. Grimmelmann.)

P.S. It is my most sincere hope that Mr. Gowder takes no umbrage with this (mildly tongue-in-cheek) post. As Professor Wenger observes, it is difficult to convey nuance in blog posts. Hopefully Mr. Gowder will realize that my call of attention to his wonderfully direct “shut up about it” comment was really just a way for me to raise some big-ticket, yet sensitive, concerns that have been weighing heavily on my mind of late.

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8 Responses

  1. Doug H. says:

    I got rid of cable about 3 or 4 years ago. It was a great decision; I waste a lot less time watching TV. Of course, I waste more time reading blogs like this….

    The one thing I would point out is if you are a sports fan, as I am, not having cable makes following sports a lot more difficult. I think that was my biggest adjustment.

  2. Paul Gowder says:

    I confess, the great Cable TV debate is more interesting — and more likely to produce some information of import to someone, somewhere — than endless partisan evidence-free talking-head poo-throwing about whether the evil activist judges are evil and activist on the left or the right. I’m sure there are better things to shut up about. It may not even be overly difficult to find them.

  3. Bruce says:

    I’m slowly de-technologizing. I gave up the Blackberry a year ago, then cable and the DVR this summer, the gaming rig is sitting unplugged in a corner, my cell phone broke several weeks ago and my Palm is out of charge. Next stop: no electricity. Maybe I’ll use candles to write an elaborate manifesto for the New York Times on how technology is destroying our lives and we should all start making things out of wood.

  4. Elizabeth Nowicki says:

    See, this is an OUTSTANDING topic, if I do say so myself!

    Bruce, congratulations on not letting the world of technology run your life. The image of you writing your manifesto by candlelight made me laugh out loud. And, actually, you have inspired me – I had forgotten that I don’t have a cell phone, yet I am still functional. If I can make it without a cell phone, I should be able to make it without t.v. . . . And, actually, giving up the blackberry when I left the firm was a RELIEF.

    Doug, thanks for the warning about sports. Hopefully you have been able to find what you need in a sports bar or something. Which raises a good point: I might want to go to the gym (or to a pub with t.v.s) when something good is on cable so that I can watch it there.

  5. Drop the cable, I say. It’s the equivalent of having a collaborative filter whose threshold is set extremely high. You only wind up watching those shows that have been vetted and thought highly of (a) by people you know who persuasively encourage you to see it, and (b) by enough people to result in the show being available on DVD. That combination results in high average quality of shows actually watched.

  6. Without cable, how does one watch “CSI”, “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, and “The 4400”? (FYI, amongst communications theorists this is known as “The Cable Shmable Paradox”.)

  7. Antiquated Tory says:

    Benjamin,

    You mean “watch legally/without broadband,” right?

  8. Naturally, one cannot advocate lawbreaking on a law blog. Though ironically, I was just about to write a post on Law and Society Blog about how much I like to light hobos on fire.