That time my con law professor put the Death Star on his powerpoint

I originally wrote this post by hand on a flight from New York to Chicago back in mid-December. I’d sort of forgotten it existed – until last week, when the Death Star was in the headlines thanks to the Obama administration’s Jedi-masterful response to a We The People petition to build one.

I suppose the subject of this post could have been shoehorned into my earlier post “Ten things I learned during my first semester of law school”, but it qualifies even less as something I learned than even those things included in the original post. Plus, I thought this sort of deserved a post of its own – and anyway, ten is a nice round number right next to a nice straight number.

My con law professor took a lot of pride in the effort he puts into diagramming his ideas using the rudimentary tools available in Powerpoint. To give you an idea of what those efforts frequently produce, I’ve heard this monstrosity described my one of his former students at NYU as the egg of presidential power [Note: there is no need to read the actual text in these diagrams. Focus on the shape.]:


I guess it could be an egg if it was a very hungry egg — or if something went terribly, terribly wrong with the chicken fetal development. And I have no idea what this thing is:

Something Hills made

If pressed, I’d say a plant cell — note the chlorophyll — though maybe that’s just the biology major in me talking.

But the moment he put the following diagram up on the board, I knew exactly what it was, and — assuming you read the title of this post — I’m sure you can’t unsee it, too:

Death Star 2

That’s no diagram; that’s a space station!

death star firing

Really, it’s meant to depict certain types of rights that receive a higher level of scrutiny from the courts, but I’m not going to go into detail because I already took the exam and none of that is important anymore.

I had to choose between two diagrams to represent the Death Star. I ended up going with the one that had a properly-placed laser beam, and not the prettier one with the more accurately-proportioned superlaser cannon well:

Death Star


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