Category: Culture

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Lynn Stout, RIP, Sparred with Charlie Munger

Charlie Munger met his match in Lynn Stout.

Mr. Munger, Warren Buffett’s best friend since 1959, is a notoriously fierce debater who does not suffer fools gladly. At a symposium on The Essays of Warren Buffett I hosted in 1996 at Cardozo Law School, I had him chair the panel on corporate finance. He lit into most members, trenchantly explaining why much of modern finance theory is”gibberish” and “twaddle.”  Panelist Professor Robert Hamilton (U. Texas)  commented to me he’d never seen anyone so “scary smart” as Munger.

Lynn Stout, who this week passed away at age 60, was on that panel, and she engaged Munger astutely.  An independent thinker, Professor Stout mastered all the doctrinal, technical, and theoretical tricks of the trade, from classical economics to boardroom battles, and staked out her own ground on how corporations and markets work and what corporate law should do about it.  She was, as Joan Heminway notes in tribute, both persistent and generous.

On the Munger finance panel, Professor Stout presented her paper, How Efficient Markets Undervalue Stocks: CAPM and ECMH Under Conditions of Uncertainty and Disagreement.  In the course of discussion, she also touched on takeover premiums. Professor Stout stressed economic theory throughout her analysis and offered to update some prevailing economic models.  Munger pressed on psychological aspects of the puzzle of market mispricing.

The Buffett Essays Corporate Finance Panel (1996): Klein, Stout, Cunningham, Munger, Hamilton, Bratton

Intellectual fireworks flew, with bantering between not only Professor Stout and Mr. Munger, but other panelists, including Professors William Bratton (now at Penn) and William Klein (UCLA), and many other conference goers, including Professors Jeff Gordon (Columbia), Dale Oesterle (now at Ohio State) and Edmund Kitch (Virginia), as well as a young man named Bill Ackman.

Highlighted below is a portion of the colloquy, by turns witty and profound, deep but fun. (There’s one somewhat technical exchange between Professors Oesterle and Stout that may seem arcane but non-experts can skim it and get the gist of the intellectual joust.)  Read it for Lynn.

MUNGER: Lynn, what is your personal opinion of those people who would expect inefficiencies–mispricing–to occur because of certain standard cognitive defects of humankind?

STOUT: They’re right.

MUNGER: I certainly agree with that and that means you have to listen to psychologists if you want to predict standard patterns of irrationality, doesn’t it? Read More

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Cunningham “Buffett Shareholder” Omaha Events 2018

Following are the public events during this year’s Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting surrounding the launch of our new book, The Warren Buffett Shareholder.  Hope to see some of you there, and regrets that our New York book launch event is already sold out.

Thursday Friday — Daytime Friday — Evening Saturday Sunday
U. Nebraska Mammel Hall

Berkshire System Summit

11:40 to 12

(talk 11 to 11:40)

CenturyLink Center

Shareholder Shopping Day

Bookworm

11 to 6

 

Embassy Suites

Yellow BRKers

4 to 7

(greetings at around 5)

 

CenturyLink Center

BRK Annual Meeting

Bookworm

7 to 4 pm

Hilton Hotel

Markel Brunch

8:30 to 10:30 a.m.

U. Nebraska Mammel Hall

Value Investor Conference

3 to 4 & 6 to 6:30

 

Creighton University

Value Investing Panel

2 to 3 & 5 to 6

(panel 3 to 5)

 

Hilton Hotel

Tilson/Kase Reception

8 to 12 midnight

 

Hilton Hotel

Tilson/Kase Reception

4 to 6

 

 ALSO: Visit the Bookworm in town and the Hudson bookstore in the airport for special displays and offerings around the book.
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Law as Beauty

Law book illustrations serve many practical purposes. Yet they also can be items of simple beauty. Our gallery tour closes with books in which the bridge between abstraction and the real—the two polarities at the heart of legal experience—opens onto a view of the aesthetic.

In this magic space of the imagination, law gives birth to art that stands on its own.

These books gently overflow the boundaries of law as a field of knowledge and the law book as a category of publishing. They thereby pay tribute to law and to the publishing of books as endeavors that implicate our deepest humanity. Read More

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Stand, Sketch, and Deliver

Although the law is full of life, it’s a complex subject, and many people—shockingly—find it dry. That can pose a special challenge for students and teachers.

Illustrations can help address this obstacle—an obstacle created by language itself. They can serve as mnemonic devices for committing intricate rules to memory, and they can make legal study more enjoyable by enlivening a relentlessly textual enterprise with visual interest, and even some lightness of heart.

Nathan Burney’s Illustrated Guide to Criminal Law is a case in point:

Images like the ones Nathan created are the subject of the next stop on our digital gallery tour: our case “Teaching the Law.” And they’re significant not simply for law students. Read More

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Worth a Thousand Words

Sometimes a picture says it all. Or that’s what lawyers have often hoped. And beginning with the development of modern printing technologies, publishers have worked hard and well to oblige them.

The creation of lithography. Technical advances in etching and wood engraving. Anastatic printing. New iron presses. Steam-powered rotary cylinders. Photography. Starting in the nineteenth century, technological innovations such as these enabled law book publishers to depict places, objects, and events with greater accuracy than ever before—and lawyers soon perceived the value of images in crafting a winning argument.

Those images are the subject of the seventh case in our digital gallery tour, “Arguing the Law,” which features illustrations and photographs used as evidence in litigation. They are least symbolic, most literal, type of law book image.

They were used in intellectual property litigation (scroll over for links)

criminal prosecutions

Read More

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Staging Law

All the law’s a stage, and law books often raise the curtain to reveal its players carefully arranged on a complex set. They depict judges, lawyers, and litigants in the formal spaces where law takes place, especially courtrooms, law offices, and law libraries.

The illustrations in the next stop of our gallery tour—case five: “Staging the Law”—serve many purposes, including public education, political critique, and the promotion of commercial sales.

Yet whatever their purpose, by depicting law’s stage, the books also portray law’s character as a public ritual.

Gates and walls and curtains. Parallel and intersecting architectural lines. Legal players aligned on different horizontal and vertical planes. In their very their realism, the images depict law as a theater of social meaning.

They are the most concrete form of symbolic representation in the tradition of law book illustration.

Images of lawyers at work—which appear almost exclusively in German and Dutch law books—depict more intimate legal proceedings, and so reveal a wealth of details about the relationships between lawyers and their clients, and even about the lawyers’ record keeping systems, as here:

Or here:

We’re mighty fond of them. (Scroll over the images for links to the complete images.)

The scandalous trial of Queen Caroline for adultery—initiated by George IV, who sought a divorce—was one of the most notorious legal and political events of its day, and served as a vehicle for popular criticism of government. The image that starts this post depicts the House of Lords decked out for the proceedings.

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The life, trial & defence, of Her Most Gracious Majesty, Caroline, Queen of Great-Britain. London: Dean & Munday, 1820. Acquired with the Charles J. Tanenbaum Fund.

Mark S. Weiner and Mike Widener

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For the next stop on our tour, click here.

 

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Taking Law’s Measure

One aspect of law which makes it so compelling as a profession, as a field of study, and as a subject for book collecting, is that it’s a tool for solving real human problems. The peculiar beauty of law books derives in part from this usefulness.

They were made to be touched, handled, and put to work.

The books in the fourth case of our exhibit help practitioners solve legal problems through the tool of mathematics, and they focus on legal problems involving water and land. Their illustrations provide a clarity and a precision that a thousand words could never attain.

Both of us love these books. One of them, by Battisa Aimo, inspired Mike to develop Yale Law Library’s illustrated book collection in the first place.

Overflowing with formal beauty, their illustrations invite readers to shift their attention from book’s pages and onto a specific problem in the world—and then back again.

We note this toggling between text and image in the following video, referencing the long, fold-out map of the River Po at the bottom of the case:

The image at the start of this post comes from the first book of geometry for lawyers. The problem illustrated concerns the ownership of fruit produced by a tree that grows at the junction of several property lines.

In the illustration, the man perched precariously in the branches of the tree appears to have left his shoes and hat beside its trunk.

Look closely: it’s a delight.

The book takes pains to correct some formulations made in a great work of Barolo of Sassoferrato, or Bartolus, which we’ve also included in this case.

Next up in our gallery tour: “Staging the Law.”

Image

Jean Borrel, Opera geometrica. Lyon: Thomas Bertheau, 1554.

Mark S. Weiner & Mike Widener

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For the next stop on our tour, click here.

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Nothing so Lovely as a Tree

The books featured in this third top on our gallery tour—the case “Diagramming the Law”—all use images to overcome the limits of language for conveying complex legal and conceptual analysis.

We think they can point us to insights about the way law works in the world, and how it’s historically worked through images—especially images in books.

For centuries, the most common illustration in law books was a visual metaphor drawn from the natural world: the tree. As a graphic device—a chart—used in legal textbooks and treatises, trees of consanguinity and affinity helped readers grasp the legal significance of kinship for marriage and inheritance. The very first image in a printed law book, in 1473, was a tree of consanguinity.

We could have filled the entire Grolier Club exhibition hall with images, images, and more images—of trees … oh, man, could we ever (no, seriously, we could have).

Looking at them arrayed together across the big wooden tables of the Yale Law Library rare book gave new force to the idea—developed by the post-structuralist theorists Deleuze and Guatarri—that the western cultural and intellectual tradition is characterized by “arborescent thought.”

A “tree grows in our minds”? Our thinking is structured by this metaphor?

You’d better believe it—perhaps especially within the common law tradition, where the organic comparison fits so well.

By depicting legal relationships in spatial terms, trees represent those relationships more efficiently than is possible through language alone. They thus stand beside their text neither as allegories of the spirit of the whole, as we saw in our first case, nor as illustrations of a specific part, as in case two, but rather as concise charts of an extended structure of analysis.

The metaphor of the tree long persisted as a beguiling way to depict kinship and its legal consequences.

Yet the success of the tree also gave bud to new ways to crisply display legal and conceptual relationships, and those are represented throughout the case, too. On the very right-hand side, you can spy the colorful Atlas of German Law, which substantially advanced the tradition in contemporary Germany. We were happy to have its author, Eric Hilgendorf, speak at a recent symposium about the exhibit.

This post begins with an image from the seminal, first work of English jurist William Blackstone, which concerns a question of legacy admission to All Souls College, Oxford. In the words of legal historian S.F.C. Milsom, Blackstone’s creative use of graphic aids enabled him “to compress into a single chapter the mass of detailed rules which would in every possible case identify who a man’s heir was.”

The image above is an innovative descendant of hundreds of years of tradition in legal publishing.

Image

William Blackstone, An essay on collateral consanguinity. London: W. Owen … and R. Clements, in Oxford, 1750.

Mark S. Weiner & Mike Widener

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For the next stop on our tour, click here.

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ROUNDUP: Law and Humanities 10.20.17

Some news from the world of law and humanities.

Some Conferences, Calls for Papers, and Calls for Panelists

 

The American Constitutional Society for Law and Policy,  Barry University Law School Student Chapter, and Texas A&M University School of Law are hosting the Third Annual Constitutional Law Scholars Forum at Barry University School of Law in Orlando, FL, March 2, 2018.

Here is a link to the Call for Papers. The deadline to submit is December 1, 2017.

The Constitutional Law Scholars Forum invites scholarly proposals on constitutional law at any stage of pre-publication development, from the germination of an idea to the editing stage.  The Forum provides an opportunity for scholars and educators to vet their work-in-progress in a welcoming, supportive environment.  (The Forum is not accepting proposals from students at this time.)

Barry University School of Law is located within close proximity to recreational activities: Universal Studios, Disney World, Epcot Center, Sea World, world class golf courses, and beaches.  Orlando offers an average temperature of 78°F in March/April.

There are no conference fees and meals are provided, but participants are expected to pay their own travel expenses.

Abstract Submissions:

Email proposals to Professor Eang Ngov, engov@barry.edu, with “Constitutional Law Scholars Forum” in the subject line.  Submissions should include a short abstract (300 words maximum) and biography (150 words maximum).

Conference Organizers: 

Professor Eang Ngov, engov@barry.edu, office (321) 206 -5677, cell phone (571) 643-2691;   Professor Meg Penrose, megpenrose@law.tamu.edu.

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Call For Papers: Cities as Ill Bodies in Films and Series

From Anne Wagner, Associate Professor, EIC of the International Journal for the Semiotics of Law, and Co-Editor of the Series “Law, Language and Communication”

City is a living organism. It is built around a centre – the heart – that provides wealth, prosperity and work to citizens (i.e. the business centre). Transportation arteries are constructed to cut traffic congestion and to facilitate the link between dormitory rings and the business centre. City is like a living monster. It needs expansion, exposure, recognition, security and regeneration. City suffers. Congestion is far too important and the lack of security is the core issue for the Town Hall and its inhabitants. The most urgent matter concerns the close link between the regeneration of cities and their environment in order to maintain peace, comfort, discretion and visibility for all. City is an ill body with signs and symptoms that need to be treated and cured to restore its utility value to its inhabitants. The overall aim of a City is to guarantee simultaneously and paradoxically a high level of individual freedom and an order in which such freedom is made possible and guaranteed.

The intersections of Films/Series and Law represent a significant and prospective research. This edited volume will seek to explore the perception of cities in Films and Series worldwide. It will encourage a plurality of approaches for the understanding and practice of justice, morality and protection of citizens. Contributors may choose to explore semiotic, rhetorical, pragmatic, sociolinguistic, legal, psychological, philosophical and/or visual perspectives on Cities as ill bodies.

This edited volume could explore (but is not limited to) the richly complex manifestations of Cities as ill bodies in the following ways:

– What is an ill city? (State disorder, lawless cities, rebellion, revenge, etc.)

– How is provided the atmosphere in “ill cities”?

– How are power structures and citizens represented?

– What are the aesthetic and visual processes?

– How is organized the screenplay?

– How is captured the ideas of “peace”, “security”, “comfort”, “visibility”, “discretion” and/or “regeneration” in Films and Series?

– How does law try to regulate “cities as ill bodies”?

– What are the investigated related approaches to deal with violence, rights, justice, morality, sovereignty, or any other relevant field?

Submission information:

Email submission to Anne Wagner (valwagnerfr@yahoo.com)

Abstracts of 300 words (max.) can be submitted by 28 February 2018 to Anne Wagner with decisions made by March 2018.

Full papers of 25 000 words (max) will have to be sent by September 2018 with final decisions by November 2018.

 

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