July 24, 2002

BEFORE I WENT ON VACATION, I asked if anyone could identify the source of my phrase “I have an axe to grind, and plenty of fury to turn the wheel.” Not many people replied, but someone was desperate enough to consult Google Answers, which also came up dry. The source is Arthur Allen Leff’s article, Economic Analysis of Law: Some Realism About Nominalism, in the Virginia Law Review. It’s a pretty famous article within the law, so I thought someone would get it. The cite is 60 Va. L. Rev. 451, 456 (1974).

(Leff, by the way, was the best writer in legal scholarship during the second half of the 20th century, notwithstanding his tragically short career. His Memorandum from the Devil, and Unspeakable Ethics, Unnatural Law, were tremendously funny pomposity-deflating pieces. Sadly, they’re not on the Web, or on Lexis or Westlaw. Somebody should do something about that.)

UPDATE: This is a warning not to get too complacent about the omniscience of Google and other search engines, too. They cover a lot — but “a lot” isn’t the same as “everything,” or even “everything that matters.”

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