Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Lawyer Jokes: Does Science Provide an Answer?

How many of you know the jokes leading up to the following punchlines? "A good start." "Too little sand." "The skunk has skid marks in front of it."

If you do, congratulations. So does almost everyone else in the universe.

Lawyer bashing is endemic in modern culture. Lawyer jokes are everywhere. Comic strips make lawyer bashing a fixture; Steven Spielberg fed one, sitting on a toilet no less, to a dinosaur in Jurassic Park. It has gotten so bad that the California Bar Association, completely unconscious of any possible recent source of public hostility toward the profession, a few years ago launched a public relations blitz to counter this problem. We note no improvement in this since that effort commenced.

Many theories have been put forth explaining why this is so. It may lie in the fact that lawyers are generally associated with the most unpleasant things that happen in our lives: arrests, divorces, and lawsuits. It may be that lawyers supposedly (HA!) make far more money than most people do and live far superior lives in terms of standards of living. It may be the resentment and hostility that the common folk hold for the learned. Or it may be that lawyers are all a bunch of amoral, lying, ruthless, money-grubbing barstids who are out to screw everyone else. It's been difficult to say, really.

It turns out that the association between bad things happening to good people and the presence of lawyers may not be incidential (such as the association with death to hospitals, for instance) but rather there may be direct cause-and-effect relationship stemming from a scientifically explainable truth. Recent breakthroughs in the field of particle physics-- published in well known publications such as The New England Journal of Irreproducable Results and Somewhat Scientific American--have revealed that the hatred of lawyers may be rooted in reasoned observation of physical reality.

In short, hatred of lawyers may have a scientific basis.

The answer lies in a field of scientific inquiry into the behavior of particle physics known as quantum bogodynamics.

As you may remember from the eighth grade, atoms are made up of particles: protons, neutrons and electrons. In the last few years, however, science has discovered that there is a still lower division of particles, called quarks, that go together to make up the above mentioned protons, neutrons, and electrons. Quarks, so named by scientists having far more of a sense of humor than is exhibited by most lawyers, come in many types: up quarks, down quarks, top, bottom, truth, beauty, and strange quarks, and so on. Two up quarks and a down quark make a proton, two ups and two downs make a neutron, one down quark makes an electron, and so forth. Top, bottom, truth, beauty, and strange quarks are exotic forms, some of which generally exist only briefly in the firey heart of stars or during the occasional Big Bang.
Scientists have recently discovered a new type of quark, an "evil" or "bad" quark, which tends to disrupt the orderly behavior of the other quarks in making up physical reality. It may be that this new type of quark may be the direct communicator of the malicious force throughout the universe. Originally, such quarks were termed psytrons, but convention and continued research have since caused the term bogon (from "bogus") to be adopted.

To put it simply, bogons, when present in high concentrations, cause sensitive electronic equipment to break down and people to make poor decisions due to the physical interference with the transmission of information over the neural net making up the brain.

It works like this: take a simple hydrogen atom. It is made up of a single proton (two up quarks and one down quark) and a single electron (one down quark). The up quarks and down quarks like to stick together in pairs, since it is easier to play four-handed bridge that way. Two ups and one down quark stick close, since they're really fond of cards, while the other down quark (the electron) orbits around the three of them, not being all that fond of cards but still being attracted to one of the two up quarks. All in all, a stable foursome in a tight orbit, a nice little nuclear family.

Along comes the bogon. The bogon, exhuding an irresistable force, will either bind directly with the electron (the one down quark), thereby causing it to lose attraction to the up quark in the proton, or will tempt the electron away from the other three quarks through strange attraction. The electron wanders off into space chasing after this evil particle, leaving a highly charged proton wandering alone in the universe, causing it to quit playing cards altogether and start hanging around in singles bars looking for a new electron (who themselves have chased after other evil particles and now long for the stability of a tight orbit).

When this occurs in a high enough concentration, it causes massive disruption in basic physical processes. When the absolute number of bogons in a given environment, or ambient bogosity, reaches a high enough level, computers crash, people make serious errors in judgment, and in general, bad things happen.
Now, lawyers, it has been observed, seem to have a very high level of ambient bogosity relative to the rest of the universe. They tend to act as walking bogon transmitters or bogon emitters, while the rest of humanity, having a relatively low bogosity, tend to act as bogon sinks or bogon absorbers. Why is this so? Recent studies have indicated one possible source of the problem: the clothes lawyers wear, and specifically, the tie.

Take your average male lawyer. Leather shoes, walking on a polyester shag carpet, a worsted wool double breasted $500 suit, monogrammed white shirt, with silk tie. Very professional, very good looking. Unfortunately, this combination tends to make them into walking bogon emitters.

It works like this: lawyer walks along carpet to office of secretary. In so walking, leather shoes kick up bogons inherent in shag carpet, which are then transmitted up to the wool suit, and concentrated into the silk tie, which stores the bogons much as a capacitor stores electrons.

The lawyer, leaning over the secretary to look down her blouse while feigning looking at her computer screen, lets his tie flop forward. The bogons, sensing the high electron concentration in the computer display screen, are instantaneously discharged in a stream from the jewel in the tie clip, and interact with the electrons directly. This disrupts proper functioning of the computer, causing errors: sometimes minor ones (like causing misspellings to appear in the document on screen) or sometimes major ones (the system crashing).

The lawyer, noting the misspelling, then blames the secretary for incompetence; the secretary, not realizing that the error has a physical cause, either thinks herself stupid or unconsciously blames the lawyer for causing the error in the first place.

(A similar process occurs in the software testing environment when The Boss, usually pointy-haired, wants to watch a demonstration of the latest beta version.)

It has even been observed that the bogon capacitance of the tie seems to be directly connected with the pattern printed thereon. Bright red or yellow "power ties" have a higher bogon capacitance than purple paisley, and a much higher capacitance than (say) a fish tie or one imprinted with the face of Bullwinkle. Whether this is due to the inks used or some other factor is not yet determinable.

One method of bogon control may be very simple: the wearing of T-shirts and jeans and tennis shoes in an office with tile flooring. This would explain why many Gen-X computer hackers and electrical engineers disdain ties and wingtips entirely in favor of Nikes, 501's and tie dyed shirts: these having been observed as having a high rate of bogon dispersal.

The discovery of quantum bogodynamics had a direct impact in my life. Back before I was a lawyer, and worked in an engineering firm, I found myself growing estranged from my fellow employees and discovered them beginning to avoid me.

Now, however, I understand why, and know that when hacker types don't mean it personally when they step back in my presence.

They just know that when a lawyer is in the neighborhood, ambient bogosity goes up.

Waaaaaay up.

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