matt solin

Accordion Case Repair


My old Galanti accordion has gotten a lot of use lately. Unfortunately, the case has not been up to the task. Upon seeing the nearly destroyed case sitting by the trash can, my dad decided that he’d give the separations in the case a layer of epoxy, so we can at least say we tried before buying a new one. I thought the final result of the repair was funny enough that I had to take a picture.

Accordion case, loaded down with weights and vises.

The Correct Answer


It has been a busy week for murder, religious intolerance and fast food.

First, there were the reactions to the shooting in Aurora, Colorado last week. Some of these were thoughtful, engaged, and reasonable while simultaneously sympathetic and angry. Some were partisan, litigious, and self-serving. Also, Obama went to visit the families of the victims. As the Onion points out, this is all par for the course. Alas.

Then, there were the comments from Dan Cathy, the founder of fast food chain Chick-Fil-A and the reactions. Mr. Cathy, whose business is making delicious chicken fried in peanut oil, decided to venture into the business of pontification. His statements to the Baptist Press were that the company was “guilty as charged” for backing “the biblical definition of a family.” This is a little surprising, as there are plenty of people who are very vocal about their support for traditional marriage. It seems as though Mr. Cathy, whose 1,600 stores are mainly located south of the Mason-Dixon, doesn’t have a lot to lose by making these comments, but I don’t really understand what he has to gain. All it seemed to do was rile up us Northerners. And it was extremely effective. You can see examples of this in Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago, to name a few. I personally will not be eating at Chick-Fil-A anymore. Luckily there, are plenty of copycat recipes for their nuggets.

What all of these things (besides the copycat recipes) have in common is the idea that the speaker has the RIGHT ANSWER. I will let their own words speak for themselves:

“I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.'” – Dan Cathy

“They no longer believe that Jesus is the only way of salvation, they teach that God is OK with homosexuality, this is just increasing more and more. It is mankind shaking its fist at the authority of God.” – Bryan Fischer, of the American Family Association

And, for good measure..

“I don’t think [the Constitution]’s a living document, I think it’s dead. More precisely, I think it’s enduring. It doesn’t change. I think that needs to be orthodoxy.” – Justice Antonin Scalia

Don’t even get me started on the Vatican’s treatment of American nuns lately.

What these things have in common are men who have decided that there is one right answer to any question being asked. What is marriage? What is the right way to live? What does the Constitution mean? These things have no correct answer, but only our best guesses. And these people, with a straight face, look the camera in the eye and say “I know what God/Thomas Jefferson/the Bible thinks/wants/believes/says, and what you’re doing is wrong.” It is we who are shaking our fists at the heavens, while they are only trying to point us in the right direction. Is it fear of uncertainty that makes them talk and think like this? Is it the thought that there may not be an objectively correct answer to their most burning questions? They seize a document, a book, or the words of long-dead men so they don’t have to face that we all are meandering through life, doing what we think is right with no thumbs up or thumbs down from the sky?

Whatever the reason, the kind of gall that these people have is breathtaking. By speaking for God, you make yourself into God.

A Curious Tactic


While going through my pictures, I happened upon a photo I snapped a few months ago, while taking a class in criminal procedure. It raises a number of questions for me.

Drug Dog Gauntlet

This picture is of a police officer leaning on a railing, relaxing with drug dog in front of him. Because of where he is standing, in order to get on the RiverLine platform from the transportation center, you either have to walk over the tracks and climb up the two-foot platform (which some people do) or walk all the way around (which no one does).

Immediately upon seeing this situation, I became nervous to walk past the pair and get on the platform. Don’t get me wrong; I do not do any drugs or carry them around, and that day was no exception. I’m not worried in the least about the dog catching me with drugs. I have other problems with this picture:

1) False positives happen sometimes.

2) If I were to avoid the officer, am I raising suspicion? Reasonable suspicion? It is common practice for police to station a “chase car” before DUI checkpoints to watch and follow people who attempt to avoid the upcoming stop. If I try to ride the train without subjecting myself to the dog’s nose, what then?

3) What about the Fourth Amendment? This is where the caselaw becomes slightly unsettling. In United States v. Place, the Supreme Court found that a dog sniff search at an airport was not a “search” for Fourth Amendment purposes. It held, rather bluntly, that “the particular course of investigation that the agents intended to pursue here — exposure of respondent’s luggage, which was located in a public place, to a trained canine — did not constitute a “search” within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.” And it has only gotten worse. Illinois v. Caballes sanctioned dog sniffs during routine traffic stops, as long as the process does not lengthen the traffic stop unreasonably. I have no doubt that what this officer did was legal under federal law. That makes it no less questionable.

4) As my professor said last semester, maybe some people just have a problem with dogs. I’m personally afraid of dogs, especially ones that are the size of the one in the picture. This does not appear to be a concern of the officer. And in seeking to avoid the dog, I’d somehow be creating reasonable suspicion that only a Terry frisk can alleviate, I’m sure.

What the officer is doing in the picture is probably effective, and definitely legal. I understand why he would do it. I just don’t like what it says about where we are as a country.



Promotional picture of the band Fiction Fair

Everything looks better in black and white! (I'm in the middle)

Hello and welcome to little round mirrors.

My name is Matt, and I’m a law student and musician in the Philadelphia area.  I have thoughts and observations about both of these things, and I want to create a repository for these musings.  At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be much overlap between law and music (besides contracts, intellectual property and noise ordinances).  But both exist in community form; both have their own languages, written and oral; both are based upon rules, and some of the best of both involves the creative bending of those rules.  I hope to explore the interesting intersections and delve into the minutiae.  The result will hopefully be at least a little thought-provoking.  It will certainly be an interesting look at my development in both fields.

On the other hand, I will probably also write about both separately.  They’ve generally remained separate in my life (except for those lyrics I just wrote for a song based on the Trial Advocacy case Dixon v. Providential Life Insurance Co…) so I imagine that they will remain separate in this blog often too.  Well, too bad!

Thanks for coming, and I hope you subscribe and enjoy!