Wednesday, March 28, 2012


I almost got killed in Lebanon. I was in the mountains of Lebanon when a bus driver honked his horn. I jumped left, avoiding the bus that nearly smashed me. He had plenty of room to swerve, but, no he wanted to run me over. The most dangerous thing in Lebanon has to be the traffic and not the terrorists.

Anyways, I really enjoyed my trip to Byblos. (Picture above). Lebanon was an important place in antiquity. Because it borders the Mediterranean Sea, it was often a prize for the ruling world power. Because of the sea and its regions, Lebanon was a gateway for Asia, Africa, and Europe.

So, it's no surprise that the Egyptians wanted this place. Alexander the Great did. And so did the Crusaders. But now - there are no tourists. It's like an empty ghost town by the sea. None the less, I loved exploring the Crusader Castle. I felt like a kid again.

In any event, tomorrow, I'm headed off to the City of Baalbak - the City of Demons.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Lebanon - No Tourists Here

I had the most amazing experience in Tripoli. Tripoli reminds me of what a Westerner would imagine the Middle East to be. Busy, hustling, bustling, noisy streets lined with people who serve Turkish coffees, baklava, and freshly squeezed blood orange juice.

One thing that disappointed me on this trip was the lack of Western tourists. Lebanon attracts people from all over the Arab nations. People from Iraq, Egypt, and Syria come here. Why? They love Lebanon because it's also an Arab nation where they can get drunk, gamble, and buy sex. And nobody judges them.

But why were all the Western tourists gone? In 2007 there was all out war in Tripoli against the Palestinians. Recently, there's been that Syria-thing. All this means - NO TOURISTS from anywhere except the Arab States.

Somehow, I found a Norwegian programmer to travel with temporarily. I also found a German, internationalist journalist for a famous newspaper. The three of us exchanged stories about the Middle East and what is happening here. The Syrians just entered the Lebanese borders. We hear stories of Arabs killing Arabs, Christians killing Arabs, Arabs killing Christians, and everyone killing everyone.

Now, let's go back to what this amazing experience was. I was in the hotel, sipping on Turkish coffee. The German had finished his shower. The Norwegian finished paying the bill. I said it was time for breakfast.

We entered a small restaurant. A Lebanese Semitic guy greeted us and said, "What do you guys want? Tell me. No one speaks English here but me." So, we told him. Nothing out of the ordinary. There was cheese and flat bread, and meat and flat bread, and cheese dumplings.

The three of us chatted. The Lebanese guy spoke with us as well. As he walked out he said, "Don't worry about the bill. I paid for it. Welcome to Lebanon." He walked out without a further word.

The three of us just looked at each other confused. I said, "That was too much." The other two agreed.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Good Morning Los Angeles / Good Night Dubai - Where am I going?

I forgot. I really did. An email came in to tell me, don't forget you're flying out tomorrow to Dubai. I spend a night there, and then I'm on my way to Lebanon.

I don't really know what to expect. I haven't even booked a place to stay in Lebanon. No good! I don't know where I'm going. What am I going to do? I don't even know what the currency is over there.

My parents both said I had lost it. What's new, right? My mom actually told me, "You better come back alive." I just told my father I was going to Dubai. I neglected to mention my trip continued into Lebanon. My roommate said I was nuts as well. So did his wife.

All in all, I think I'm entitled to a holiday. Yes, entitled. If you don't treat yourself to a good time, no one is going to feel sorry for you, maybe except yourself. And if you don't take care of yourself, who's problem is that? I've worked really hard in the last few months, with conferences, simulations, clients, cases, hearings, winning those hearings, losing some hearings, and also getting published. What does all that mean in reality? It means living at the UCLA Law library until 11pm almost everyday. It means getting up in the morning and worrying about your clients and not making mistakes and making sure you do everything in your power to serve them. A good lawyer has to shoulder the problem of his or her client. That's our duty, and that's not easy. So - all in all - it's time for a break.

It's funny though, when I tell people I have a stressful life, people look at me with bewilderment. I often get the comment, "Didn't you just go to Germany?" "Didn't you just take a road trip to Santa Barbara? Weren't you wine tasting there?" "Didn't you just come back from France?" Ok, yes to all those things. But no one sees how hard I work, except for those neurotic law students who seem to have tabs on who stays the longest in the library.

So - what is the lesson from all this? It's really just this. When you work - do something you love to do. Do something that brings some kind of meaning in your life. When I wake up - I believe that I'm in this world for some other purpose than to survive. I have to believe that the work I do makes someone's life better. Thus, when I work endless hours or even having crushing losses, I know this: It was worth it, and I did my best. The ultimate result is that I don't appear tired or worn out to other people. In fact, for some reason - people think I have an enjoyable life.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

On Getting Published

I recently had two pieces picked up by law reviews. One is a criminal piece. The other is a trade law piece. Here's what I wish I knew before I had taken this journey.

I come from the Gen-Y group who has this burning desire to make their mark. Because being a Hollywood actor or a GQ model wasn't in my line of sight, I had to chose writing as a way to do it. Even as a college student, I remember asking my English professors if it was hard to get published. They looked at me like I was dumb for asking. They had that look that expressed, of course it is sonny-boy. You think you can be like a hot shot like one of us. They were always a bunch of elitists anyways.

Is it that hard to get published?

Yes, and no. It's like riding a bicycle - I think. It's hard at first to get published, but after your first one, you know what you need to do. I think it may be easier now to get published because of the internet. But in some ways, it's also harder.

The internet has allowed you to get your work out to more people, more quickly. But, now publishers have more pieces to pick from. In other words, competition has gone up.

In short, it's not that hard, but it is a lot of hard work.

How do you get published?

Journals and publishers are not people. Corporations are not people. Companies are not people. Neither are universities. But people run all these organizations. You're going to have to convince a person or people that your piece is worthwhile.

Doing that, is liking getting a job. There are multiple barriers and multiple perspectives. Like a cover letter and a resume, you only have a few seconds to catch the attention of the reviewer.

Same thing with publishing. You have to have a good cover letter, good title, and good intro to move past the first review. If you get passed those checkpoints, then you have to have a good conclusion. Reviewers will jump next to the conclusion. Then that reviewer may read the whole piece. If s/he finds it interesting, then it goes to other people. So you see, there are a lot of barriers.

How do you make things interesting?

Marketing is a must, but it comes second. What comes first is your interest and your passion. It's hard enough to devote time, energy, and resources to any piece. Therefore, you might as well pick something you're going to enjoy - or otherwise the consequences of burning out are likely to result. Second, you have to market.

How do you make things marketable?

Having substance is a good start. To determine if it does, send it to some people who are experts in the field. Have them comment on it, you'll soon find out what needs to happen.

Remember, my comment about hard work. This is where it is hard work. With feedback you have to revise and revise. After the revisions, then you work towards making it marketable.

I do this by looking to have a catchy introduction and title. For instance, one of my pieces looks at the nature of sexual abuse against male juveniles in detention centers. The other piece explores how the WTO's Trade Law could punish the Chinese for their Child Labor Violations. My last piece looks at how the butterfly effect operates in the laws of war. Did you know that Middle Eastern terrorism responses could trigger nuclear warfare in East Asia?

You see the point. Be interesting.

How do you get into a top journal?

Sadly, at this point I don't know. But, I'll let you know if a top journal picks up my work.

What's your next piece?

I've already been getting a lot of damnation for my next piece. It's controversial, no doubt. But, I'd like to write on how the enactment of the early Nazi Nuremberg Laws parallel Californian police misconduct practices against undocumented workers. My working title is "THE EMERGENCE OF FASCISM DUE PROCESS IN CALIFORNIAN LAW ENFORCEMENT."

That's all I got for now.