Read this: “Ben Edelman, Harvard Business School Professor, Goes to War Over $4 Worth of Chinese Food.” By the way, the professor is also a lawyer. Of course!

Now, tell me what the title (混蛋) to this post means. (Hint, it is Chinese for . . . .)


PS Thanks to a judicial colleague, who shall go unidentified, for the helpful suggestion that I might want to read the above mentioned article and post about it.

18 responses

  1. What’s interesting to me are two things: one is the meaning of the two characters taken separately–mix egg–vs what they mean taken together. Idioms (idia? idii? ids?) are fun in any language.

    The other is the obvious comportment and attitude toward the other contrast between the Harvard law professor and the business owner.

    Sort of like another Harvard (-trained) law…professor…and everyone else. [/snark]

    Egos are dangerous tools….

    Eric Hines

  2. My parents didn’t go to college. When I was in law school my father used to like to razz me with “son, when you get out of school, just promise me one thing, don’t become an educated a– —-” I used to think he was joking. Now I know what he meant.

  3. And by “that”, I mean the English word for the Chinese characters. Nice or not, the shoe fits in this case.

  4. I had to go to a Chinese Swear Word site for the answer better left in Chinese.

    After reading the email back and forth, this is the Chinese that seems to apply: 共發現 10 筆關於 [bully] 的資料 (解釋內文之英文單字均可再點入查詢)

  5. I’m not going to comment on the Chinese ideographs (perhaps in this case they should be called idiotgraphs). But I would like to point out that, while the professor apparently went to Harvard Law School, he is a professor at the Business School. If the B-School prof had spoken to a prof at the Law School, he would have found out that his claim for treble damages evaporated when the restaurant offered to refund the difference between what he paid and what the on-line menu price was. I guess maybe that’s a lesson that you need to keep up with the law!

    I speak (well, figuratively) as a proud graduate of the Law School (yes, people around here really do refer to it that way). I had Alan Dershowitz for criminal law (the first year he was at Harvard), Paul Freund for constitutional law, Henry Hart and Al Sacks for Legal Process (sadly, Professor Hart died before the first semester ended), Roger Fisher for civil procedure and James Casner for estate planning. It was a pretty good education.

    Oh, and I ate at that restaurant once. We didn’t go back.

  6. I have spent my entire life around lawyers, come from a family of lawyers, lawyer 50 years in June, taught law 40 years. In that time I have been around all manner of academics and all kinds of lawyers. Most of the academics, including the lawyers, were in nice folks. Same is true of most lawyers, but you only really run into obnoxious when you run into the insufferable among the bench and bar, and at least in NE the worst seldom went to Harvard, though a lot went to the Judge’s alma mater or mine. At times complaints about Harvard read like the revolt of the third tear toilet trash, a technical term in legal ed.

  7. Dredd,

    I am not worthy, but you are! I warranted and received a beat down at your clever hands.

    Good for you. All the best.


  8. Jon,

    You were educated by some giants. What a wonderful experience that must have been.

    By the way, I have a story about Hart and Sacks’ first edition of their book on legal process. The book was not even bound. It was in loose leaf format.

    A brilliant, but very strange, professor used it at Nebraska. When final exams came our first year, we were sternly told by the Dean about a kid who had cheated the year before and had been kicked out (which meant, I suppose, that he got a ticket to Vietnam). We were instructed over and over again to leave our books at home. I did. And then our legal process teacher gave us his exam. It was one question: “What is the answer to the question on page x of Hart and Sacks’ book?”

    I still remember the essence of my very brief and flippant answer to the single question. “I don’t have my book and was told not to bring textbooks to the law school during exam time. I did learn from your class, however, that notice and an opportunity to be heard is fundmental to a fair process. In that vein, what do you propose I do without the book? I live 45 miles away and can’t get home and back with the book in the time allotted. I am not going chasing around the library for another copy.”

    I passed, but got the worst grade I received during my three years of law school from that damn goofy professor. As I reflect back, maybe it was all Hart and Sacks’ fault. That’s the ticket, blame Harvard!

    Oh, well. All the best.


  9. Judge,

    Al Sacks said that Legal Process (which as you may recall was more than 1400 pages, mimeographed, was never published, because Henry Hard was never satisfied with it.

    I remember two things most about Professor Hart: 1) He looked like he’d stepped out of one of the portraits of 18th and 19th century judges that are on walls at Harvard. 2) The first case in the book concerned a fruit dealer in Boston who had ordered a carload of cantaloupe on consignment from a grower or wholesaler in California. En route, the fruit developed a rot (for some reason, after almost 50 years, I think it was cladosporium, or something like that) that made it visually unattractive, but did nothing to its taste or edibility. Clearly, however, the fruit was no longer the Grade A called for on the order (which was a brief telegram). The dealer in Boston rejected the shipment, the boxcar was shunted on a siding and the fruit went to hell. What should the dealer have done? Professor Hart asked. A number of students gave their opinions, some on one side, some on the other. I didn’t volunteer, but I kind of thought that the dealer was within his rights, because the fruit was not Grade A when it arrived. After a while, Professor Hart said, “Do you want to know what I think he should have done? I think he should have sold it. Do you know why? Because promises ought to be kept.”

    Simple as that. “Promises ought to be kept.” One of those moments when truth cuts through the babel of legal reasoning. As you can tell, it made a deep impression on me.

  10. Well, Holmes went to Harvard. Brandeis went to Harvard. Brennan went to Harvard. Kagan went to Harvard. So they are not all bad.

    Seriously, I don’t know that Harvard or Yale or Columbia grads are more out of touch with the real world than graduates of other law schools, but I think that there may be some of that arrogance that is the image of graduates of such schools, and that that leads to the thinking Anatole France described, when he wrote, “The law in its majesty equally forbids the rich and the poor to sleep under bridges.”

  11. Jon,

    I make fun of Harvard ’cause I couldn’t get in. This summer I invited a young Harvard grad to have lunch with the clerks and me. He was from a very small town in Nebraska, and his parents are school teachers. Nicest kid in the world. Smart as whip, and very humble. So, I will say it again: I make fun of Harvard ’cause I couldn’t get in. How I wish that was not true.

    All the best.


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