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St. Louis Diary

I am definitely and officially Y2K compliant.


 

Do you have sufficient supplies of canned food and bottled water? No? But I hope that by now you have redesigned your basement into an emergency bunker? Still not? Too bad, since you will face serious problems when the (computer)world comes to an end on December 31. Good for me though, that I am definitely and officially Y2K compliant. This was the result of the universities Y2K test that has been performed last week by the computer department on every computer, private or not, operated within the universities network. Moreover the Y2K policy requires all residents of dorms and university owned apartments to fill out a special form, stating whether they plan to stay over New Year’s Eve in Saint Louis (just to make sure that nobody has to greet the new year in an elevator car, stuck somewhere between the 10th and 11th floor). This effort is impressive, especially considering that there are still people, who believe they can fight the Millennium Bug with an insecticide. (And for those of you, who are ultimately Y2K compliant: now it’s the right time to think about Y3K!)

Somebody (who prefers to remain anonymous), told me, after reading my last diaries, that apparently I spend more time organizing my various spare time activities than studying. My only possible answer is: that is definitely not true!! And, as a proof, the next week’s diaries will deal entirely with studying, the university, books and my academic endeavors (well, maybe not entirely entirely). Whatever - the best way to improve my image as a student is probably to give you a short update on how my classes are going.

Let’s start with contracts. After nearly one semester of American contracts law I really know, that I truly and from the bottom of my heart love the German Civil Code. At this point in class we are discussing the enforcement of contractual promises and all I can say is, that, to me, the common law of contracts seems to be rather indistinct, not to say vague. The issue is, that a good part of most court decisions is influenced by equity, which means natural justice, honesty, and right in a moral sense. To illustrate this, let me give you an example. The Restatement of Contracts, Second, Section 86. (Promise for Benefit Received) states in (1): A promise made in recognition of a benefit previously received by the promisor from the promisee is binding to the extent necessary to prevent injustice. Although the Restatements in general are not binding and this specific Restatement is more a principle than a rule, most courts refer to it when making a decision. Therefore terms such as justice or injustice become an important part of the court’s reflections. The problem I see within this approach is, that there exists no fixed definition of justice. What exactly does justice mean? Since the courts do also face this problem, in many cases they reach decisions that best can be described as arbitrary. To change my question: isn’t it very unjust to leave the definition of justice to a court? Of course there is the rule of precedence, and most courts will follow decisions made before their actual case, but still I feel uncomfortable with this. And I know, that, while writing this, I am too drifting into the realm of guessing and indistinguishable feelings. Of course in some cases a result reached by the strict application of law leaves the feeling that it is unjust. But isn’t it the sense of law to provide objective measures that apply to all cases (and again I know that this a rather idealistic point of view) independent from the personal believes of a judge?

More deep thoughts to come...

Nils