Author Archives: Michael Froomkin

A Mystery: Miami Property Values Seem Immune to Climate Change Risk

There’s been a lot of news recently about the dire effects climate change can have on Miami, yet not only has the risk not been priced into real estate but values are rising. What’s up? Are climate change deniers that rich, or is something else going on? Is the risk seen as so far out as to be discounted to zero?

It’s flat here, there’s a lot of coastline, and a sea level rise of only a few feet would turn Coral Gables into New Venice. Even a foot and a half — which apparently has a decent change of happening in the next decade or three — would be very bad for Miami Beach, and also for much of South Florida in that it could impact water supplies and swamp power plants.

How then to explain why none of this is priced into the real estate market? Not only are house prices mostly going up after perhaps over-reacting to the the foreclosure crisis, but so too are waterfront land prices, as evidenced by this $100 million/acre sale of the last piece of undeveloped waterfront in downtown (total price for 1.25 acres was $125 million).

Yes, it could be a bubble. Yes, it could be the musical chairs phenomenon where the buyer thinks they can flip it, or develop it, before the music stops. Or it could be that the buyers watch too much Fox News, or have their own climate scientists.

I’d really like to know what’s going on here — if only because I (co)own a house. Any ideas?

Posted in Econ & Money, Miami | 4 Comments

Should This Be Required Viewing Before Law School?

“Weird Al” Yankovic – Word Crimes:

Almost all great stuff. I disagree about the Oxford comma — I think it’s essential for legal writing. (I also have some other legal writing tips.) Catchy tune, though.

Posted in Law School | Leave a comment

Bon 14 Juillet

Joyeux anniversaire à la République Française (et à moi).

StormingBastille

Hier

Feu-artifice-Paris-Tour-Eiffel-2013-5sm

Aujourd’hui

Posted in Personal | Leave a comment

Jotwell Conference Program & Registration

We’ve posted a program for Jotwell’s 5th anniversary conference on “Legal Scholarship We Like and Why It Matters” and also have opened up registration. The conference will be Nov 7 & 8, 2014 at the University of Miami School of Law.

If you are planning on coming, you can take advantage of the UM rate at local hotels. The main conference hotel is the Sonesta in Coconut Grove, but the UM discount also applies to the other hotels on the list.

In case you are rationing clicks, here’s the program:

JOTWELL 5TH anniversary Conference

Legal Scholarship We Like and Why It Matters

University of Miami School of Law
Nov 7-8, 2014

Register To Attend
“Legal Scholarship We Like and Why It Matters”

Friday Nov 7

1pm Welcome
Dean Patricia White, Welcome
A. Michael Froomkin, A Little About Jotwell

1:15 – 2:00
Raizel Liebler, Jessica de Perio Wittman and Kim Chanbonpin. Collaboration, Knowledge Production, and Legal Scholarship

2:15- 3:00
Patrick Gudridge, Past Present

3:15 – 4:30 Counterpoint
Jeanne Schroeder and David Carlson, Improving Oneself and Ones Clients; Not the World
Neil Buchanan, Legal Scholarship Makes the World a Better Place

4:45 – 5:30 Keynote Address
Margaret Jane Radin, Then and Now: Developing Your Scholarship, Developing Its Audience

5:30- 6:30
Reception, Student Lounge

7:00 ->
Conference Dinner

Sat Nov 8

9:30 – 10:45 Counterpoint:
James Chen, Modeling Law Review Impact Factors as an Exponential Distribution
Patrick Woods, Stop Counting (Or At Least Count Better)

11- 11:45
Benjamin Keele, Taking Lessons from Science to Improve Digital Legal Scholarship
[via remote participation]

12-12:45
Steven L. Winter, When Things Went Terribly, Terribly Wrong Part II

12:45-1:45
LUNCH

1:45 – 2:30
David Millon, Legal Scholarship and the Delaware Judiciary

2:45- 3:30
Frank Pasquale, Reviving Political Economy: A Case Study in Legal Academics’ Dialogue with the Social Sciences

3:45 – 4:30
James Grimmelmann, Scholars, Teachers, and Servants

4:30-4:45
Envoi

 

Accepted papers from scholars unable to attend:

Angela Mae Kupenda, Personal Essay–On the Receiving End of Influence: Helping Craft the Scholarship of My Students and How Their Work Influences Me

All papers will be posted at Jotwell.com

Posted in Jotwell, Talks & Conferences | Leave a comment

Peter Cook’s Coal Miner Sketch

Something reminded me of Peter Cook’s Coal Miner Sketch today. The first time I heard it I was literally gasping from not getting air due to laughing so hard.

I suppose I should warn the sensitive that there are occasional mentions of nudity.

(Here’s a different, later version. It’s funny too, and shorter. I think it may be closer to the version I first heard.)

Posted in Completely Different | Leave a comment

Four Levels of Empowerment

  1. Someone will show me what to do.
  2. I can make the rules work for me.
  3. I can get an exception to the rules.
  4. I can change the rules.

Sometimes I want to ask my students, “Which are you?” or “Which do you want to be?” But the one time I tried something of the kind, it didn’t go over all that well.

Even so, they’re probably good questions in many situations.

Apologies for sounding like Seth Godin.

Incidentally, there’s arguably a fifth level of empowerment — “I can destroy the system” — but that’s either a special case of #4, or out of scope for the law-abiding. And I suppose there’s a zeroth level too, something on the order of “I’ll sit here alone and starve,”1 which could be clinical depression. OK, that was less Godin-like.


  1. Not to be confused with “I’ll just sit here alone in the dark,” which is the answer to the question “How many Jewish mothers does it take to change a lightbulb?” and is probably an example of level 2. []
Posted in Law School | Leave a comment

Weird Water Comes to Coral Gables

This strange sign popped up on an official signpost less than two blocks from where I live:

smartwatercsi

In case it’s too small to read you can click for a bigger one, or take my word for it that at the top it says, “Working in partnership to deter crime.”  Then it has a Coral Gables Police badge next to the seal of the City of Coral Gables, along with the logo for “SmartwaterCSI”.  And the sign says, “Theives Beware.  You are entering an area where Property is forensically protetcted by SmartWater®.”

If you follow the URL on the sign and click around about, eventually you get to the “about” Smartwatercsi page which informs me that,

SmartWater is an asset protection system in the form of a clear liquid which contains a unique forensic code that is extremely robust and guaranteed to last a minimum of 5 years within all weather conditions. It is applied to items of value – personal, commercial, and industrial – which are frequently the target of theft.

The non-hazardous patented liquid leaves a long-lasting identifying mark that is invisible except under ultraviolet black light. Law enforcement officials take the smallest micro-fragment of SmartWater from stolen property and send it to SmartWater’s forensic laboratories, where it is scientifically analyzed to identify the owner.

As a result, thieves who make the mistake of targeting SmartWater marked-assets face a far greater risk of successful prosecution. Ultimately, as the statistics over the past 15 years exhibit, crime is reduced and the public enjoys a safer environment.

More clicking brings me to the price list: $100 (well, $99 before tax) for a bottle of the stuff and a one-year license — apparently you have to keep paying the $100 every year to maintain your entry in their database, even though the coating is supposed to last for five years. Or you could pay $200 (per year!) for a what I suppose is a larger bottle that does your car, or at least key parts of it that don’t have a VIN. Oh yes, you also get stickers to show off you think you have lots of valuable stuff worth stealing deter really up-to-date thieves.

Nowhere on the Smartwatercsi site (that I got sent to by the sign on public land) does it reveal a secret disclosed in this video that I found by doing some Googling: apparently by calling 305-441-5760 Coral Gables residents can get a “smartwater kit” for $30 (no mention of the annual fee after that, though). I called that number and got a recording telling me I’d reached the Coral Gables Citizens Crimewatch, they were unable to answer the phone but they are there to serve and assist me in any way, so I should my name and number and they’d get back to me.

More Googling revealed a Coral Gables police press release dated Feb. 12, 2014 that says you should call 305-476-7957 for the $30 offer. (It may have come out in February but this is the first I ever heard of it.) That number took me to what proclaims itself as the Coral Gables Police Department Smwartwater hotline. I’m going to rate the hotline water temperature at only lukewarm, given that this too was a recording that wanted my name and number and would get back to me.

So what I want to know — since both Wikipedia and Bruce Schneier tells me it’s for real1 — is

  1. Are these guys paying the City for the right to put up these signs? Or is the idea that we get the 70% discount in exchange for a lot of publicity on official buildings and spaces
  2. How many people in Coral Gables have actually signed up for this?
  3. Is the $30 Coral Gables price a one-time fee, or will there be annual charges too? Is there enough to cover your car? Or at least those headlamps that get stolen so often? Do you get all the stuff in the $100 pack or just a bottle and applicator?
  4. If there are ongoing annual charges, does the City have any guarantees about future price increases? Is there a danger Smartwatercsi will raise the price of the required annual user fee (if there is one) once they have a big installed base?
  5. Does the fact that a sign appeared nearby mean someone around here actually bought the stuff?
  6. If so, did they pay the $30 or the $100?
  7. Has anyone ever paid $100/year for this?
  8. Why don’t the signs–on public land, presumably set up with the City’s permission–direct you to a web page which discloses the Coral Gables discount?
  9. If someone from Coral Gables goes to the Smartwatercsi site not knowing about the discount and tries to make a purchase, will Smartwatercsi tell them about it?
  10. Does the Smartwater beverage company know about this?

Actually, I’m kidding about the last one – a drink and a crime deterrent are sufficiently dissimilar to make a likelihood of confusion as to the mark highly unlikely, and of course the website (but not the product) has “CSI” at the end of it. Wait, does the TV show know about this?


  1. Although Bruce also came up with a great hack to misuse it:
    The idea is for me to paint this stuff on my valuables as proof of ownership. I think a better idea would be for me to paint it on your valuables, and then call the police.

    []

Posted in Coral Gables | Leave a comment