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An Unknown Force

An unknown force passed from the “blawgosphere” last week, and the impact is being felt far and wide.

“Ed Post,” or, more accurately “the individual some people (including himself, I’m told) sometimes referred to as ‘Ed Post,'” has died.

Referring to this otherwise-unknown force as “Ed” reminds me a little bit of Russell’s Theory of Descriptions. Up to now (so far as I know), there has only ever been one “Ed.” From all that I’ve heard and read, “Ed” is not really a name; it is, rather, a description of some sort. It’s an esoteric point, but “Ed” is merely an abbreviation for a denoting phrase; to wit, “the Editor of Blawg Review.”[1]

And the fact that “Ed Post” had an existence about which nearly all of us remain ignorant to this day reminds me of the whole “morning star/evening star” problem which Russell addressed in his theory.

I suppose none of that really matters. It’s just a quirky anecdote about one of the more trivial ways in which “knowing ‘Ed'” impacted me; once I realized that “Ed” was not his real name, I never thought of Ed without thinking about Russell’s Theory of Descriptions.

Of more significance is the actuality of his having been — and here is a true Russellian descriptive, or denoting, phrase for which, as I said, “Ed” is but an abbreviation — “the Editor of Blawg Review.” The Editor.[2]

If you haven’t heard about Blawg Review, then you’ve seriously missed out, and you should fix that by reading it. Blawg Review #325.3 provides a mind-blowing summary of which Blawg Reviews were written by whom, and where, if at all, both those writers and their blogs are today.

For my part, I can’t remember exactly when I first heard of Blawg Review. I know it was a long time ago. I’m pretty sure it was before I knew anything about Ed. I remember the thrill the first time my blog was quoted by someone in a Blawg Review, and it might be that which turned me on to its existence, though I think I was aware of it before that. The thrill was enough for me to ignore my dislike for the word “blawg” — as Blawg Review #325.8 mentions, I’m not the only one with such prejudices — and send out an email to those close to me proclaiming, “I’m famous!” (Just in case this needs to be said: it was a joke, folks.)

Over time, I was privileged to see my posts referenced in Blawg Reviews more than once. (And each time, I announced the fact by telling people I was “famous again!”)

Unfortunately, I never wrote for Blawg Review. Not that there was never an opportunity. Ed and I corresponded via email at least a couple of times, and he was more than willing to give me a crack at it. But, to be frank, I was a bit afraid. You see, by then I was a regular reader of Blawg Review. And because of Blawg Review, I became a regular reader of a number of other bloggers I otherwise would never have heard of.

And it was all good. Far better than my own writing. That’s why I was seriously happy whenever somehow one of my meager contributions to the “blawgosphere” (yes, I’m gritting my teeth, but I’m doing it! I’m using the term!) was mentioned.

Not wanting to displace Scott Greenfield as “the writer of a truly awful Blawg Review” — another Russellian denotative phrase — I never agreed to write one. No doubt having become more familiar with my blog after our discussions, Ed did not press the issue.

The thing about Blawg Review and what it did for me is best explained in Eric Turkewitz’s tribute:

So how did he make me a better blogger and lawyer? By reminding me that it’s all about telling stories and journeys from place to place. Every article we write or client we have has a story in the background. It is not the facts and figures that capture the imagination and compel people to listen — though they are critical to proving a point — it’s the stories.

I got that, too. But that was just one way my acquaintance with Blawg Review has helped me as a lawyer.

You see, I’d made the mistake — and if you’re a J.D. about to graduate from law school, let me tell you that I am serious when I say that I think this is a mistake — of going into private practice straight out of law school. I’d tried to set things up so that I had a mentor to guide me, but when the time came, things just didn’t work out like that. I was stumbling along, trying my damnedest to keep my business going (that’s right, running a law office isn’t just about learning to be a lawyer; you have to learn to be a business person, too), and hardly sleeping from fear that my newly-discovered ignorance was going to hurt my clients.

Lacking an appropriate local mentor, I turned to the Internet, where I found Scott H. Greenfield, Mark W. Bennett, cranky Brian Tannebaum (Blawg Review #325.5, who then had two blogs, one of which appears dormant now, but doesn’t often use his middle initial of “L”), and — thanks to Blawg Review — a number of others. Being a blogger myself, since before it was called blogging, I naturally learned from and engaged these “blawgers.” Both Scott and Brian have generously given me some of their time to confer via telephone regarding cases when I needed someone with their experience (and, in Brian’s case, his particular expertise) to help fill in the gaps in my own. From Mark, I’ve started to learn that I need to rein in my tendency towards assholiness, and also that as long as I’m going to be a CDL, I really want to be the “law dog” type.

Other than via email, blog comments, and Twitter, I never had the opportunity to meet Ed in person, as some of the others writing about him this past week did. I have met another pseudonymous member of the blawgosphere (yay!) — also the writer of Blawg Review #325.9, who goes by “Gideon.” And like Mark W. Bennett, he’s the law-dog type of CDL.[3] There’s something wonderful about having the chance to sit down with someone like that.

Despite never meeting Ed, I owe him not just for helping introduce me to, and getting me to engage with, other CDLs, but also for helping me get to know lawyers from other realms.

From the realm of “trademark, copyright, Internet law and free speech,” I started to occasionally read Ron Coleman, another Blawg Review #325 writer — #325.10, to be precise — from whom I’ve learned that sometimes IP law can be as outrageous (and more entertaining) than criminal law. In his Blawg Review #325.10 post, he quotes IPWatchdog’s “Beware Infringing the Beer Dispensing Patent!”

Take a look at U.S. Patent No. 8,240,155, which relates to a method of presenting beer. Actually, the invention is a method for serving beer from a font and includes chilling a beer glass and then dispensing the beer into the glass to create a head of foam on the beer. . . .

Another realm tied to Blawg Review is Great Britain, or whatever it’s called these days — see Blawg Review #325.11 — whence I learned that there is such a thing as QC, first encountered by me in “Charon QC,” and the QC apparently stands for Queen’s Counsel. Somehow, they allowed him to be he managed to appoint himself Queen’s Counsel, despite his being Scottish. For my part, mostly because of his humorous drawings and weird ways of talking which I don’t always understand, I like to think of him as the Monty Python of Law. For example:

Does it really matter if Scotland goes independent and Wales has a bash at independence, leaving England to watch – not as former colonies thrive as in days past, but as parts of previous ‘dominion’ – The United Kingdom – bugger orf and have a go at mismanaging their own affairs without English advice and experience on and of mismanaging affairs?

I’m trying to imagine George Washington telling King George III to “bugger orf.”

Another Blawg Review writer also comes from a distant realm. Well, okay: Not so distant. It’s Canada. Possibly one of the most cerebral law bloggers I’ve ever tried to decipher, he almost makes me think I can understand Charon QC. But, hey, thanks to Antonin I. Pribetic’s[4] tribute to Ed — Blawg Review #325.4 — I get to send out another “I’m famous!” email.

The energy that Ed must have expended to keep Blawg Review going as long as he did boggles my mind. I go nuts just trying to organize a few lawyers representing co-defendants so we can get a case called for pre-trial. But as Ken White of Popehat — author of Blawg Review #325.6 — noted:

Ed herded cats to make the internet a better place. That is, he organized lawbloggers (a prickly and unreliable lot) to write regular surveys of the legal blogosphere.

How he did it is beyond me. Like I said, An Unknown Force. Morning, and evening, his star will be missed.

  1. One could argue right now that there is at least one — and possibly more — current Eds who worked together to bring one last tribute via Blawg Review #325 to the original Ed, “Ed Post.” But from what I understand, this is temporary, and neither of them is pseudonymous.
  2. Well, as I said, “sort of”; barring the idea that Colin Samuels, or Mark W. Bennett, or both, now count as Eds. 
  3. Actually, now that I think about it, a common theme amongst CDLs I’ve met through blogging is that they almost all are “law dogs.” 
  4. Do I need to start using a middle initial now, too?