So last night, the Twitterverse discovered, seemingly by accident, that today at noon, Jonah Lehrer will make his first public appearance since his spectacular fall from grace after admitting not only to self-plagiarism but also to borrowing from other writers (including his friend Malcolm Gladwell) without attribution and fabricating interviews and sources. His appearance will come in the form of a keynote address at the Media Learning Seminar 2013, sponsored by the Knight Foundation. The organizers of the event report that Lehrer will give a typically Lehreresque talk on the neuroscience of decisionmaking, including the decisions that led him to defraud his readers. In case you aren't in Miami, it's your lucky day: the event, including Lehrer's talk, is being livestreamed here.
As some have pointed out (see the comments, too), this was a pretty soft launch for what organizers are only now saying, after Twitter and its many angry fellow science writers discovered Lehrer's scheduled appearance, will include a mea culpa from Lehrer. The fact that the conference bio of Lehrer makes no mention of his misdeeds, including the fact that the publisher of his most recent book, Imagine, took the unusual step of recalling all copies of the book, does not inspire confidence that either the Knight Foundation or Lehrer initially intended this to be a thoughtful, appropriately contrite reflection on what happened. Lehrer's former colleague, collaborator and friend, the science writer David Dobbs, for one, is pretty angry. He says that he and others he knows are owed, but have not received, apologies from Lehrer, and he has pressed the conference organizers to put a few questions to Lehrer today.
As for Lehrer's anticipated discussion of the neuroscience of plagiarism and fabrication, I confess that my expectations are low. I've always thought that by far Lehrer's biggest sin was not his self-plagiarism, his more traditional plagiarism of others' work, or even his fabrication of Dylan quotes. Reusing text from his blog in a New Yorker post is between Lehrer, his God, and the various people who paid him for unique content, but I can't get very worked up about it on behalf of his readers. And as for his "old fashioned" plagiarism, that is, of course, a serious misdeed, but Gladwell readily forgave his friend, and Dylan, not surprisingly, doesn't seem to care.
As a serious consumer of social science and one interested in how it is produced and communicated, for me, Lehrer's biggest sin will always be the poetic license he took with science in the name of crafting a sexy and sellable just-so story. (Lehrer's fellow science writers who were denied the opportunities Lehrer has been given, in part because they insisted on engaging in careful and responsible — but less sexy — science communication are also victims of this sin.) You can read more about that here. (Disclosure: Lehrer's interlocutor in this exchange, and in an earlier New York Times book review of Imagine, is my husband. I also watched with some irritation as Lehrer came close, as the scandal unfolded, to blocking publication of their interview. Discount accordingly.)
Update: The archived video of Lehrer's talk is here (the conference organizer begins moving in the direction of an introduction to Lehrer at around the 1:00:30 mark, and Lehrer himself starts at around the 1:03:30 mark). As others have remarked, the paralells to Lance Armstrong's mea-culpa-cum-comeback are hard to miss. Also of note: the giant screen behind Lehrer scrolling live tweets, most of them critical of him. No doubt the $20,000 Lehrer was paid for the talk helped ease the pain.
Update 2: Image above is an ironic screen shot from Poynter.org, which first reported Lehrer's fee, which Knight is referring to (also ironically) as an "honorarium."
Update 3: Aaannd...updated title to reflect that the speaker in question is in fact Jonah, not Johan, Lehrer.
For readers desperate to confirm that Katie Holmes, actress and ex-wife of Scientologist Tom Cruise, is headed to law school, I have very good news: there has never been a better year for the daughter of Toledo attorney, 67 year old Martin J. Holmes Sr. to attend law school. I trust that, if she is going to learn to think like a lawyer, she'll head to the family law school: the University of Toledo College of Law. Her dad and her brother (the Junior, of course) are both graduates of UT and both practice in Toledo.
I assume that having survived all the law-talk over the dinner table, as a kid, she'll get boffo LSAT scores and win a generous scholarship. (Shoot: she got a 1310 on her SAT's and could have attended Columbia University. She didn't, of course, and now she's going to have to complete 3/4 of her college degree first in order to go to an ABA accredited law school. Alternatively, she could attend the California accredited Southern California Institute of Law, which seems to admit people with no virtually no undergrad coursework, so long as 90% of the coursework that does exist is nonvocational. But she should be forewarned that the school is boasting a 0% pass rate on the California bar recently.)
In any case, she may not want to spend a ton on her legal education so she can stash away most of the $400K in annual child support she receives so that Suri's 529 plan will be nicely stuffed when it's time for her to head to college. At the current pace, Suri's tuition at Columbia - should she be accepted and choose to attend - will be $84,702 per year in 2024, when she turns 18. Of course, she could save a ton of money by attending a state school - say, the University of Toledo - for her BA. At $43, 335 per year, it's sure to be a bargain!
To those faculty hiring committees who asked me to explain my PhD dissertation, Finitude, Transcendence, and Ethics: Sartrean-Niebuhrian Resources for Understanding Difference and Dominance, in layman’s terms: I regret that this explanation is coming so late, but here it is, using only the most commonly used 1,000 words in the English language.
Cedar Riener (follow him @criener), an enterprising psychology professor, has begun a Tumblr, Up Goer Your PhD, collecting doctoral dissertation abstracts written in layman’s terms, as described above. His project is a riff on this brilliant layman’s diagram of Saturn 5, otherwise known — when one is limited to the most common 1,000 words — as “Up Goer 5.” People using Up Goer to explain a variety of other complicated concepts can be found on Twitter at #UpGoerFive. Many Up Goer projects turn out to be hilarious, and they’re fun to create, too.
But there’s a serious point here as well. Jargon (including technobabble, neurobabble, and other babbles) can be efficient shorthand when conversing among other experts. But let’s be frank: it can also conceal some serious B.S., not only from our readers, but also from ourselves. Why? We often believe that we understand concepts better than we actually do — sometimes called the Illusion of Knowledge (disclosure: the interviewee is my husband), or the Illusion of Explanatory Depth. Many studies have found that people often overestimate how well they understand complex phenomena (even distinct from general overconfidence bias). In one set of experiments, subjects were often unable to draw a functioning bicycle, despite having previously reported that they understood bicycle mechanics. In another, subjects displayed similar overconfidence in their understanding of devices, procedures, natural phenomena, and movie plots.
In addition to being fun, being forced to “up goer” your writing on a complicated subject is an extraordinarily useful exercise. It’ll keep you honest. Try it with this handy text editor that lets you type your layman’s explanation into a box, and tells you when you’ve used a verboten word. When you’re done, there’s a button to click that lets you permalink your Up Goer creation and tweet, Facebook, or blog it — but the button only appears when you have avoided all verboten words. In some contexts, this could also be an excellent teaching tool. Give it a try: it’s harder (and more illuminating) than you think.
Postscript 1: The original dissertation abstract from which I was working is here. It's been a while since I wrote it, and I confess that as I began to up goer it, even I wasn't sure, at points, exactly what I'd been talking about. (When you live and write long enough, I suppose you have this out-of-body experience more and more often.) With some effort and recollection and the help of the Up Goer text editor, however, I satisfied myself that my dissertation was not, in fact, B.S. There was a there, there after all. On the other hand, I now sort of feel like my 5-year-old could have written it. Tradeoffs.
Postscript 2: A bit of nerd humor about empirical versus non-empirical methods.
Like most parents, after learning about the latest mass school shooting this morning, my thoughts immediately went to my own kindergartener. And of course, like most reading this blog, I thought about how poorly we handle guns and mental illness. Before too long, though, I couldn’t help but make a less direct connection between today’s events and my scholarly interests. I’m thinking of the way journalists cover school shootings as compared to how we regulate human subjects research.
As I write in The Heterogeneity Problem, 65 Admin. L. Rev. __ at 14-16 (forth. June 2013):
Studies on sexual abuse and assault, grief, war, terrorism, natural disasters and various other traumatic experiences are critical to better understanding and addressing these phenomena. But exposure to trauma — whether as a survivor or as a first rescuer or other third party — often causes substantial psychological morbidity. . . . Given their potentially fragile state, IRBs understandably worry that “questioning [or otherwise studying] individuals who have experienced distressing events or who have been victimized in any number of ways . . . . might rekindle disturbing memories, producing a form of re-victimization.”
IRBs — local licensing committees who operate according to federal statute and regulation and must approve most studies involving humans before researchers can even approach anyone about possibly participating — sometimes impose burdensome requirements on the way trauma research is conducted in order to protect adult subjects from the risk of revictimization. And they do so in addition to applying regulations that require that researchers disclose that risk (and others) to subjects.
Contrast this with the way journalists cover trauma.
One of the biggest drawback of having to work for a living, for many of us, is the fact that we have to commute to work. Whether the drive is short or long (mine is long), the trips to and from our school wear us down.
Fortunately, for those of us who work and live in New England, there is the fall. Somehow, the drive is easier when the scenery is glowing with the reds, yellows and browns of fall.
Need an Amtrak Northeast Corridor lost and found phone number? As a community service, and notwithstanding the fact that this is not the normal coverage of this blog, I'm going to share the rarest of all commodities: telephone numbers for Amtrak lost and found offices in three key Northeast Corridor train stations - Penn Station, 30th Street, and South Station. You can't find them on the web normally. These are top-secret commodities. They are:
New York 212-630-6596
Bridget's great post on the Wired article and a Steve Jobs deanship reminded me of an article in The Atlantic last fall that warned of a potential managerial blowhard-fest in the wake of Isaacon's biography. The essence of the piece is captured in the following passage (the author uses a particularly saucy word to characterize Jobs' personality, and I am ellipitcal in quoting the term):
With the death and canonization of Steve Jobs and the emergence of the Jobs biography as a kind of sacred text for managers, the ranks of bosses who see Bad Steve's nastier traits as something to imitate is liable to swell. It's unlikely the book will make despots out of thoughtful, fair-minded middle managers. It's far more probable that it will turn bosses who are already a***oles into even bigger a***oles, raising the temperature of the worst actors so that they become that most combustible of workplace figures, the flaming a***ole.
. . . .
The fact is, Steve Jobs didn't succeed because he was an a***ole. He succeeded because he was Steve Jobs. He had an uncanny sixth sense about what consumers wanted, an unmatched ability to adapt existing technology and turn it into something new, and a commitment to quality that turned ordinary Apple customers into fans for life. Being an a***ole was part of the Steve package, but it wasn't essential to his success. But that's not a message most of the a***oles in the corner offices want to hear.
Here, here! I have been impatient to the point of anger with people who claim that certain skills, abilities, and gifts must be intextricably intertwined with certain meanspirited, dysfunctional, or unattractive personality traits simply because they happen to co-exist in a particular successful person. The claim is often offered either as an apology for the offender, or as a reason to "let it go" when the successful person behaves badly. I first encountered this with a partner at the law firm where I started as an associate, and I have seen this nonsense invoked to fend off criticism of faculty, staff, and administrators. Enough already!
Anyone else feel a little nostalgic for demise of that classroom standby, My Weekly Reader? Scholastic, which recently acquired the publication, is folding it into Scholastic News. It was first published in 1902 and at one point was read by two thirds of all children in grammar school. Back when it was called grammar school.
My guest blogging began with a post in memory of The Band’s Levon Helm. I would be remiss if I did not circle back by sharing a hidden gem and seeking other Shmengeheads.
The Shmenge’s Last Polka is a mockumentary about brothers, Yosh (John Candy) and Stan (Eugene Levy) Shmenge, retiring from a long and illustrious career as the greatest Polka duo ever. The format follows Martin Scorsese’s classic, The Band The Last Waltz. The Shmenges were born on Second City TV and also known as the Happy Wanderers.
Unfortunately, this classic has not made its way across the digital divide and is not (yet?) available on DVD, or whatever we’re using now. Fortunately, a fellow Shmengehead posted the film in several parts in cyberspace. Here’s a part of the film with a Linsk Minyk (Rick Moranis) sit-in and banter.
Thank you to the Lounge regulars for sharing their forum and to all the readers for sharing their time. I hope to see/meet you at SEALS later this summer or somewhere down the So Many Roads we all know.
p.s. The last link above is to a late era Robert Hunter / Jerry Garcia song. Jerry flubs a few lyrics, but this inspired performance from the Boston Garden in 1994 is worth seven and a half minutes of any music lover’s time, at least once. For some reason, Jerry vocally wails on “to heal my soul” at the end, instead of the usual “to ease my soul.”
p.p.s. RIP Doc Watson. Sitting on Top of the World
In closing arguments, John Edwards' attorney argued that he committed sins, not crimes. With one not guilty verdict and a mistrial on the other five counts due to a deadlocked jury, it appears that his defense worked. This explicit defense separating law from morality could be good fodder for Jurisprudence courses and other dicussions about the overlap between law and morality.
For an interesting read on how the National Enquirer broke the story, here's an article on Huffington Post by David Perel, then-Editor-in-Chief of the National Enquirer. The article details the investigation and provides Perel's take on what this saga says about our presidential politics and the ability to find truth in courtrooms. Here's an excerpt:
Edwards, Hunter and Young retained separate counsel in an attempt to stop the Enquirer's expose of the affair, the pregnancy and the money trail. None of them knew that for months a team of Enquirer reporters, living in Young's gated community, watched Hunter and Young daily and had knowledge of Hunter often dining at the Young's house. So when Andrew Young and his attorneys contended that HE was the father of Hunter's baby, incredulity was replaced by laughter from my team. Yes, we were supposed to believe that he brought his pregnant mistress home regularly for dinner with his wife and children.
I can imagine The Who's I'm Free running through Edwards' brain head right about now.
In an effort to self-assess and improve my teaching, as well as to provide the 1Ls I will be teaching next Fall with tips from successful prior students, I sent an email with several questions to the students that earned an A- or A in my Contracts II class this Spring. Here is the list of questions:
Of the responses received thus far, all students answered number one along these lines: did the reading and took notes before class. Shocker, I know. But, I believe this will be good info for the incoming 1Ls: It’s not rocket science, but it requires hard work.
Here is a specific response to question 6:
I would suggest trying to explain some of the subject matter first, and then using the cases to apply it. I felt like most of the time, we did it the other way around--went through the cases and then relied on the notes after the cases to extract what subject matter we needed to pull from the cases.
The student is correct about the methodology. Here was my response:
There is a pedagogical reason. If I tell students the rules upfront, students will tend to memorize rules. If students have to work through the cases and notes, then students will better internalize law because they formulated the conclusions more on their own. This is part of the “thinking like a lawyer” meme students often hear from law profs. I never want to leave students hanging, and telling the rules upfront helps students know them more quickly, but I’m not confident they understand the rules / rationales more deeply. This is similar to the idea that a student who makes their own outline knows the material better than the student that simply received a prior student’s outline or a commercial outline. It’s the hard work and struggle that builds a lawyer’s mind. That said, you don’t have to agree with my approach and I will certainly continue to think about this issue.
I am curious about your thoughts on how to approach classroom learning. Do you have any thoughts on the student’s view or mine? Is stating the rules upfront a better approach? A good approach? What techniques do you use with 1Ls?
p.s. Crosby Stills and Nash’s Teach Your Children or Steely Dan’s My Old School would be fitting songs for this post, but David St. Hubbins Michael McKean is on my mind after being hit by a car in New York City yesterday. McKean's leg was broken and he is expected to make a full recovery, but understandably will not be performing tonight in "Gore Vidal's The Best Man." Get well soon, Michael and remind your understudy of this mantra: Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight!
As the Supreme Court’s second decision in three years in FCC v. Fox Television Stations, Inc. nears, a brief history of indecency regulation may be of interest and begins with a tie to music.
In 1970, the FCC levied its first indecency fine. The FCC fined a Philadelphia non-profit educational radio station, WUHY-FM, $ 100 for broadcasting a pre-recorded interview with Jerry Garcia. Garcia interspersed his musings on a vareity of topics with indecent language, such as "political change is so fucking slow." No one complained about the broadcast. The FCC was monitoring the radio station. In dissent, Commissioner Nicholas Johnson conveyed bewilderment and disdain about the FCC’s decision to fine this particular station:
[W]hen we do go after broadcasters, I find it pathetic that we always seem to pick upon the small, community service stations . . . It is ironic to me that of the public complaints about broadcasters' ‘taste’ received in my office, there are probably a hundred or more about network television for every one about stations of this kind. Surely if anyone were genuinely concerned about the impact of broadcasting upon the moral values of this nation — and that impact has been considerable — he ought to consider the ABC, CBS and NBC television networks before picking on little educational FM radio stations that can scarcely afford the postage to answer our letters, let alone hire lawyers. We have plenty of complaints around this Commission involving the networks. Why are they being ignored? I shan't engage in speculation. Download In Re WUHY FCC 1970
In 1975, the FCC received one complaint because a New York radio station broadcasted George Carlin’s Filthy Words monologue in the afternoon. In 1978, the Court held in FCC v. Pacifica Foundation that regulating indecent speech on broadcast radio and television did not per se violate the First Amendment. The Court based its decision on the dual rationales that broadcast radio and television are uniquely pervasive in society and that they are uniquely accessible to children. Justice Powell’s concurrence made clear that the Court did not decide whether the isolated use of a potentially offensive word could be regulated and that the holding was limited to the specific context of Carlin’s “verbal shock treatment.”
For a quarter-century, the FCC maintained that fleeting expletives did not rise to the level of indecent speech. But, after Bono used a fleeting expletive when receiving a Golden Globe award, and Cher and Nicole Richie made similar transgressions on the Billboard Music Awards, the FCC reversed course and issued its 2004 Golden Globe Order finding that any use of the words fuck or shit is inherently indecent, except for a couple of exceptions.
In 2009, the Court held 5-4 that the FCC rule change did not violate the Administrative Procedure Act’s arbitrary and capricious standard. Justice Stevens, who wrote the majority opinion in Pacifica, dissented in Fox I. Now, the Court considers whether the FCC’s indecency regulation violates the First or Fifth Amendments.
One would be hard pressed to argue that broadcast radio and television are still uniquely pervasive in society and uniquely accessible to children in light of the numerous media technologies that exist, especially considering the ubiquity of mobile devices with internet access. Not only do the rationales of Pacifica fail to reflect the realities of 2012, advertisements like the Go Daddy commercials that air during the Super Bowl and for products like KY Intense, an “arousal gel” make futzing around with fleeting expletives a rather futile exercise. Justice Stevens made a similar point in a footnote to his Fox I dissent: "It is ironic, to say the least, that while the FCC patrols the airwaves for words that have a tenuous relationship with sex or excrement, commercials broadcast during prime-time hours frequently ask viewers whether they too are battling erectile dysfunction or are having trouble going to the bathroom."
Here’s Frank Zappa performing, I’m the Slime on Saturday Night Live in 1976, complete with guest vocals by Don Pardo. Zappa’s take on the slime oozing out of the tv set is more aligned with Commissioner Johnson’s WUHY-FM dissent, than a concern about “bad words.”
Today’s post weaves together the collapse of Dewey & LeBoeuf, the music of Nellie McKay, and Michael Sandel’s new book, What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets.
But it seems so creepy. Winning can leave you feeling sleazy. – Nellie McKay, “Beneath the Underdog.”
On May 2, the New York Times quoted one of the approximately 30 unfortunate law students that lost his summer employment with the fall of Dewey: “A firm may look like a corporation, yes, but we’re all part of a fraternity of lawyers.” Two days later, James Stewart’s NYT article asserts that Dewey’s demise “shatters the perception” that “law is at heart still a guild . . . a profession more than a business.” Stewart supports his premise with a former Dewey partner’s lament that firms are partnerships in name, but that attorneys have become free agents and thus destabilized the legal profession.
The debate that Sandel seeks to further in What Money Can’t Buy seems to have an important place in the changing landscape of the legal profession. In short, we have transformed from a market economy to a market society. This transition has been done thoughtlessly, has resulted in negative consequences and it is time to have a robust debate about where market systems should not exist or at least have greater limitations based on moral considerations.
While I share the optimism and belief of the law student quoted above about law being something more than a business, my experiences since law school lead me to simultaneously share the sentiments of Stewart about the legal profession (to a degree) and Sandel about our national dialogue beyond law. To be sure, money cannot be wholly extracted from the legal profession, nor do I believe it would even be a positive development, let alone a practical one. But, the calling of justice certainly cannot be solely (or most likely predominantly) market based without losing focus on the role that the profession of law plays in society.
As for Nellie McKay, she is an eclectic, edgy, independent musician whose lyrics often seem apropos as I reflect on the events of the day. Another great line from her song quoted above: “I don’t get people. I don’t get the things they think are reasonable.” Here’s her somewhat bizarre video for Beneath the Underdog. Another song that may be of interest to the Lounge is her Song for Troy Davis.
Ani DiFranco and Iris DeMent each have lyrics that expand far beyond the relatively narrow scope that politics plays in the life of a human being. They also have some inspirational and poignant songs that add to our political discourse. Ani and Iris provide an opportunity to talk cyberlaw, ponder the move to a national popular vote and share some of their music.
With election season in full swing, the flood of negative and misleading political ads (from all sides and SuperPACs) will soon drowned the airwaves . . . at least in swing states like Florida.
When I teach Cyberlaw, I include Porter v. Bowen, a Ninth Circuit case holding that vote-swapping is protected by the First Amendment and not a violation of criminal or electoral codes. Citizens formed a website whereby voters in safe states could swap their votes with voters in swing states. The purpose was to have the 2000 Green Party candidate, Ralph Nader, receive five percent of the national vote so that the Green Party would qualify for federal funds in future elections, without hurting Gore’s chances of winning the Electoral College.
For example, a voter in Ohio that wanted to vote for Nader would vote for Gore, while swapping her vote with voter in say, Alabama (a safe state for Bush) or Massachusetts (a safe state for Gore), who would vote for Nader. Shortly after this website began, at least one other website was created that allowed voters to swap votes for any third-party candidates with either Bush or Gore, thus expanding vote-swapping beyond Nader-Gore swaps.
I teach this case in Cyberlaw because, in addition to discussing how technological changes raise new legal questions, it also allows for a discussion on whether the Electoral College is something that remains desirable in our self-governing society. After all, if there was no Electoral College, there would be no need to engage in vote-swapping. While it’s hard not to forget that Gore won the national popular vote in 2000, it’s also worth noting that Obama’s “landslide” victory in 2008 was not so large when considering the national popular vote margin. Obama won 67.8 % of the Electoral College (365 to 173), but only 53% of the national popular vote. Does technology provide a reason to shift to a national popular vote?
Perhaps technological developments make a national popular vote system more practical than in the late eighteenth century. Whether one is in Wyoming or Washington D.C., real-time information is available through broadband, cable and radio. Is it not better for candidates to have an incentive to campaign in all fifty states by making every citizen's vote count in the final tally? Is it likely that voters on the losing end in a safe state might be more motivated to actually vote if they know it’s not in vain?
As I’m sure some here know, there is an organized movement for instituting a national popular vote. The plan involves a legislative pact among states to provide all the electoral votes of a state to the national popular vote winner. By December 2010, the District of Columbia and five states (Illinois, Hawaii, Maryland, New Jersey and Washington) have enacted legislation to implement the plan. Together, they make-up one quarter of the electoral votes needed to deliver an Electoral College victory. The plan will only be implemented once enough states have enacted legislation to win the Electoral College. The Brennan Center for Justice is listed among the endorsers of this national popular vote plan.
Here’s Ani performing a version of her 1999 song, ‘Tis of Thee, at Ralph Nader’s October 2000 Madison Square Garden campaign event. In the March 2012 issue of Relix magazine, Ani shared some of her thoughts on Obama’s performance thus far. While she may be critical of the lack of tangible changes, she makes an important, if obvious, point about how a self-governing society functions: “If he really felt, in this arena of dragons and monsters, that he had the force of the people behind him, he’d more empowered to act in the way that we want him to act. But we as people kicked back and said, ‘OK, fix it.’”
Turning to Iris DeMent, her 1996 song, Wasteland of the Free is one of my favorites. Sadly, its message has only grown more descriptive of our society as the years roll on.
Finally, in preparing this post, I stumbled across an organization called, Ladies of Liberty Alliance. The self-described mission of this organization is to “address the shortage of female leaders in the fight for liberty.” One has to think the organization’s founders have a sense of humor and musical acumen based on their clever acronym (LOLA) and domain name, www.iamlola.org. The “Chairman” (LOLA’s word), Angela Keaton, holds a J.D. from the University of Florida. While I have not explored the specifics of LOLA’s agenda, it certainly seems like a group of engaged citizens that will not leave any president alone in the arena of dragons and monsters.
p.s. The only endorsements in this post are for the respective music of Ani DiFranco & Iris DeMent.
Thank you to Jacqui, Dan and everyone for welcoming me as a guest here.
On April 19, 2012, Levon Helm died. Before he left this world, he left us with much to celebrate. Today, I thread The Band through this post to introduce myself and to pay tribute to a great drummer, singer, lyricist and person.
One of my fond high school memories is driving from Cincinnati, Ohio to a Notre Dame home football game with my father, Joseph P. Tomain, Dean Emeritus at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. We drove in his, later to be mine, 1984 Corolla. I don't remember who they played or if they won. I do remember that our '84 Corolla lacked a cassette player. So, we brought a boom box. We listened to the live recording, Before the Flood, by Bob Dylan and The Band.
I'll always remember that trip and that boom box playing Before the Flood from the backseat. It's amazing how music can place and hold memories in our lives. I went on to attend Notre Dame for undergrad and law school.
Speaking of Notre Dame, I enjoyed tuning into The Daily Show in March 2012 to see my Contracts professor, Cathleen Kaveny, discussing her forthcoming book, Law's Virtues: Fostering Autonomy and Solidarity in American Society. My favorite line of the interview came when Stewart asked Kaveny, what's the difference between a Catholic institution providing health insurance that includes contraceptive coverage and paying an employee a salary who later spends some of that money on contraception. Kaveny's reply: "You could be a moral theologian." Nice work, Prof. Kaveny! The Band have their moments of moral theology, as well. (see e.g. When You Awake).
Speaking of teaching Contracts, when I send an email to my class, I usually quote some lyrics and provide a link to a version of the song below my signature. After Levon passed, I quoted "The Weight" and included a RIP for Levon. While a few students had commented on evaluations that they enjoyed these treats at the end of my emails, none ever brought it up in person, until this one. A twenty-something student stopped me after class to say he enjoyed the quote and had recently been watching Martin Scorsese's The Last Waltz in memory of Levon. I'm happy to know that some students find a connection in this extra-legal dialogue.
Finally, I play in an Ultimate Frisbee league in Jacksonville, Florida. (A couple of law students play in the league as well. Like the vast majority of Ultimate players I know, these law students are great people.) When my team captain solicited ideas for our team name, I offered a few names in honor of Levon. Our team adopted the name, "Cripple Creek." While I'm thankful these youngsters indulged me and took a liking to Cripple Creek, my favorite team name idea was, "The Shape I'm In." (could be better, could be worse, but I digress)
Throughout May, I look forward to combining my love of law and music with various topics to share with the Lounging community. And remember, Life is a Carnival. Enjoy Being!
As many of you know, in December, Stanford University pulled out of the competition to develop a new research campus on New York City's Roosevelt Island. A consortium between Cornell University and Israel's Technion won the day. But it turns out there was more to that story than met the eye.
Tomorrow, Stanford is set to announce that it will open a new law school campus on Roosevelt Island. The school's plan is to build a 280,000 foot law school that will house approximately 450 JD students and another 200 international graduate law students. In addition, Stanford will also offer an L.L.B. program which will allow many European students to move directly into practice in their home countries.
While this plan has been developed in secrecy, it also explains why Stanford was so quick to exit the earlier competition for a place on Roosevelt Island. The law school will cost literally billions less to build than the research center. And it also turns out that the three universities will achieve an economy of scale, developing a single student center, and athletic complex on the island.
The law school is apparently part of a broader plan to expand Stanford's footprint into Europe, Africa, the Middle East and, ultimately, Palau.