Monday, March 31, 2014

The Law of Superheroes

Kevin Coolidge

Long hours, little recognition, and forget dental—it’s tough being a superhero. Things just got tougher. I’m writing my memoirs from a jail cell, instead of my super-secret hidden fortress. I’m surrounded by walls I could smash with my bare hands, but I won’t break the law, at least not willingly.

I never meant to kill Dr. Faustus. He’s always been invulnerable. I thought slugging him with the Statue of Liberty would distract him from vaporizing New York City. Yes, it was a national treasure, but freedom isn’t free, and neither is being a superhero. Someone had to pay*, and the judge ruled it was me, Captain Sparrow.

I was branded a vigilante and striped of my secret identity. According to the law, I had every right to fly around in my costume**, just not to fight crime. Hummmph, I didn’t see anyone else stepping up to eradicate that army of robotic velociraptors. I needed that plasma cannon. Limits to the Second Amendment? My astrophysics…

Haven’t you always wondered if Superman could sue someone for exposing his identity? Is the use of telepathy by Dr. X an invasion of privacy? Is the Joker legally insane? Who pays the bill when a superhero destroys a skyscraper or two while defending New York City?

James Daily, J.D. and Ryan Davidson, J.D. are comic book geeks, and lawyers, and in The Law of Superheroes, they explore the hypothetical legal ramifications of comic book characters, and the powers they possess. You’ll learn about basic principles of law through comic books.

The Law of Superheroes grew out of the blog Law and the Multiverse, which applies real world legal principles to comic book story lines and characters. The authors know by experience that legal educational materials can be a little boring. Batman is exciting, and even if you aren’t a comic nerd, you probably know who Batman is.

There are decades of comics, and an enormous amount of material. Superman has been running almost uninterrupted since 1938. Comic book writers have created complex and detailed worlds with their own unique histories, and a variety of legal situations that aren’t going to appear in most works of literature.

Comics are fun, and can invite creative thinking. What Civil Rights would mutants have? Would the Second Amendment apply to Wolverine’s claws? Could Superman be elected President of the United States? Comic books can be analyzed as any other work of art or literature.

The goal of the authors is not to provide a legal reference, but rather an introduction to legal reasoning through the weird and wonderful world of comic books. Maybe the next time you read about a Supreme Court case, you can wonder how the decision would affect your favorite superhero.

Thirty-three consecutive life sentences? Isn’t that cruel and unusual punishment? I haven’t aged a day in eighty-three years. I’m not even sure I can die of natural causes. I could live forever, and rumor has it that Dr. Faustus is still alive and scheming. He never does stay dead. I wonder if I could get my lawyer to sell my supercomputer and raise money for an appeal???

*Taxis are transportation for citizens to get to work. No cars, no job, and insurance companies don’t cover vaporization?

**With a flight plan filled out in triplicate of course…

Law? Or Order? Email me at and let me know. Miss a past column? Never fear, you can read them all here and save the day. You can be a real life superhero and buy an author’s book. Keep those crazy writers off the street.
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Monday, March 17, 2014

Never Too Young for Dinosaurs

Kevin Coolidge

I loved dinosaurs. They were big, scary, and dead. I was safe. The only place I would see one is my imagination. A dinosaur always did what he wanted. No one tells an allosaurus when to go to bed, or to finish his vegetables. Being a dinosaur would be really, really cool.

My nephew agrees. He’s a tiny tyrannosaur. He sleeps, eats, and breathes as a dinosaur. I knew that when the time came for potty training, he would appreciate Dinosaur vs. the Potty by Bob Shea and my sister would appreciate Potty Training for Dummies by Diane Stafford & Jennifer Shoquist, M.D.

Thunder lizards grow up so fast. I’ll miss him gnawing on my leg and chasing the cat into the jungle, but what I won’t miss is changing a diaper. Still, it’s important to be patient. It doesn’t pay to be in a hurry. The best time to start your velociraptor* is when he’s ready.

Some dinos are ready to start as young as 18 months, others may not be ready until past their third birthday. Boys tend to stay in diapers longer than girls, and those born in later litters often learn faster than those first hatched.

There’s no rush. Studies have shown that when parents begin potty training too soon, the process takes longer. It’s going to take cooperation and motivation from your ‘saurus. So, before you start, you’ll want to look for signs that he might not be ready to climb onto the potty chair.

He might show no interest or resist. Don’t worry about getting a head start. Before you begin you want to be sure his routine is firmly established and that he’s ready.

He should be coordinated enough to walk, and have “dry” periods of around two hours. This shows that his bladder muscles are developed enough to hold the flow of urine. He should be able to pull his pants up or down and show signs of growing independence.

He may develop interest in your bathroom habits, and in wearing underwear. This is the part that I do best as an uncle and I suggest reading him My Big Boy Undies by Karen Katz. There are several aspects of training—such as establishing a schedule, and celebrating his successes, but don’t forget how motivating fun can be.

You can use blue food coloring and he will be amazed how he can turn the water green. You can use stickers and a calendar to keep track of his triumphs. Every time he goes to the potty, he gets a sticker. Watching them add up can inspire him. I suggest dinosaur stickers, of course.

Potty training a child with a disability can increase the challenge, but there a special chapter in Potty Training for Dummies that will ease your tough assignment. There are also suggestions to keep potty training working, and how to handle a lack of interest.

By the time your little dinosaur is ready to ditch his diaper, he’s learned a lot. Let him take pride in his achievement and celebrate by crashing through the jungle, because you’re never too old for dinosaurs…

*means speedy thief, a Cretaceous predator about the size of a chicken--a large, smart chicken with lots of sharp teeth.

Don’t mess with T Rex? Or Stick with Stegosaurus? Email me at and let me know. Miss a past column? Don’t be sore, you can get more dino at Don’t let the written word go extinct. Feed a writer, and buy a book.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Disaster Diaries

Kevin Coolidge

Day 7: I’m camping out in my living room. It’s like the vacation I never wanted. I hate camping. I’m waiting for the power to come back on, but it’s been a week. At night, I read by candlelight. Maybe I can catch up on my reading.
A National Guardsman tells me that big earthquakes hit all over, not just here. It was really bad. People are scared. Some say it’s “The End of Days”.

Day 10: It’s quiet, too quiet. I’m hungry. I’m thirsty. My water stores are gone. I hate municipal water, and I had enough bottled water to last a few days--with rationing I made it to today. I ate everything in the fridge I could before it spoiled, but now I’m down to boxed cereal and saltines.

Day 13: It’s terrifying! I’ve read everything on my bookshelf, including The Disaster Diaries: One Man’s Quest to Learn Everything Necessary to Survive the Apocalypse by Sam Sheridan. He suspected our civilization danced on the edge of the abyss. He took the steps needed to protect his family. Me? I have a bowl of Wheat-Os, hot sauce, and lime juice….

Face it. Sooner or later the feces is going to hit the fan belt. Life is pretty good, but it doesn’t mean it always will be. Anything is possible. A shift in a tectonic plate, geothermic explosion, alien invasion, nothing is unthinkable. Good times never last.

Sam wanted to be ready. He didn’t want to just “bunker up” He wanted to really prepare. He wanted to learn the skills he might need. Not just physically but mentally and philosophically. He needed to feel he knew what he was doing.

He knew he needed to be strong. Knowing how won’t save you if you can’t decapitate a zombie. You can never know when the big one will hit, but you can be in control of yourself—you can get in shape. A strong body is also important for a strong mind.

Physical condition is linked to the mental, and trained athletes handle stress hormones better. Since athletes are better able to handle stress, and Sam chose to strength train Olympic style. Olympic lifting is one big, quick movement. It trains an attribute, not just how strong, but how fast—power.

Getting the point of attack before your opponent does is what counts. Sam made sure that once he had the strength and speed, he knew what to do with it. He took Filipino knife fighting from a master of the art, as well as classes in anatomy. Yes, guns are good and he trained with those too, but bullets run out.

Being strong and fast and well armed and surviving an alien invasion doesn’t mean much if you can’t start a fire, build a basic shelter, or shoot some protein. He trained with some of the best survivalists. Learning to make a fire, stay hydrated, and realized the best thing to have in your bug out bag is a mechanic or a doctor.

If you want to live off the land, you have to get out of the city. You might need to steal a car, but the hotwire is Hollywood. It takes too much time. You “flare” the ignition with a dent puller, and use a flathead screwdriver. Then drive that car like you stole it, and for that there’s stuntman class.

Sam found there was no need to be paranoid. Be prepared. Preparing for the Apocalypse is walking that fine line between self-reliance and paranoia. If it makes your life better, it’s positive. If it’s destructive to your life, it’s not. Enjoy learning new skills, but you can’t control everything. Sometimes you just have to let it go.

Day 37: My feet hurt. I’m out of gas for the jeep. The nozzle of my flamethrower is cracked, and I didn’t grab a spare. I’m almost out of napalm anyway. It wasn’t the best choice for zombies, but you don’t get to your second month without getting through your first.

It’s time to make camp and eat my one allotted MRE* There’s a house up ahead that doesn’t look like it’s been ransacked. Maybe I’ll find an axe, or an apple tree, or even a book I haven’t read…

*Officially, Meal Ready to Eat , but eat too many of these and they are Meal Refusing to Exit

End of Days? Or Days without end? Email me at and let me know. Miss a past column? Find them all at , but do it before the juice stops flowing. I’m stocking up for the Apocalypse, because running out of reading material really is Hell on Earth…