For law professors who have recently submitted articles to journals and are now wondering about their next scholarly project, what about an empirical study of the modern tooth fairy? Visa has conducted a survey about trends in tooth fairy largesse and is launching an iPhone/iPad app for calculating tooth fairy rates based on parents' gender, education, location, income etc. Story here. So what about it? There might also be scope for law and economics scholarship in this area as well.
And in case anyone was wondering, apparently the average is $3 a tooth in the current market.
I don't know why I've become so nitpicky about grammar and semantics lately - probably because I've been a law professor too long, or at least been editing papers for too long - but today I came across a phrase I've seen before and I can't figure out whether it's semantically correct.
In a news story about Hurricane Isaac, a reporter referred to a warning issued to residents of certain areas in Louisiana that failure to evacuate their homes "could lead to certain death". This is a phrase I've seen before in other contexts. Initially, it sounds odd because "certain death" implies, well, certainty of death, but the certainty is qualified by the conditional "could". On a second look, it's arguable that a person doing or not doing a particular thing "could" lead to a "definitely fatal" consequence, so that does seem logical. At least I think so.
Following on from the amusing and productive discussion of best and worst law review artice titles, I couldn't help but notice (why was I looking at it anyway?) the cover of the September Vogue magazine. One of the cover stories reads: "Exclusive: Chelsea Clinton An Inside Look". What are they looking at? Her internal organs?
Any other amusing/confusing cover stories folks have noticed lately?
And how are people's experiences of the fall submission season going? I've heard that many journals are already full up.
Over here at Wired, writer Ben Austen offers a trenchant analysis of reactions to the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson. Austen observes:
Jobs has been dead for nearly a year, but the biography about him is still a best seller. Indeed, his life story has emerged as an odd sort of holy scripture for entrepreneurs—a gospel and an antigospel at the same time. To some, Jobs’ life has revealed the importance of sticking firmly to one’s vision and goals, no matter the psychic toll on employees or business associates. To others, Jobs serves as a cautionary tale, a man who changed the world but at the price of alienating almost everyone around him.
Austen sorts readers of the bio into two categories: "acolytes" and "rejectors" -- in short, those who would emulate Jobs and those who "have recoiled from the total picture of the man—not just his treatment of employees but the dictatorial, uncompromising way that he approached life." Austen invites readers to take a "quiz" by reacting to vignettes from the biography. Based on one's responses, one can self-diagnose as a Jobs "acolyte" or a "rejector." Even folks who haven't read the biography know that Jobs had the reputation as a demanding boss, so the vignettes come as no surprise.
For law profs who came from (relatively) civilized law practice backgrounds and who now spend most of their time in (relatively) civilized academic halls, it may be difficult to imagine similar scenarios in their workplaces. Of course, every law school faculty experiences what my colleague Ann Bartow calls sphincter eruptions (although she uses a more colorful term, here), but that's different from having a Steve Jobs-type as an every-day colleague or even as a dean.
What if Steve Jobs had been a law school dean? Riffing on the vignettes from the bio and the Wired piece, I've imagined some scenarios involving my fictive Dean Steve Jobs. Then diagnose whether you are a Jobs "acolyte" or a "rejector."
The Acolyte’s Viewpoint
The Rejector’s Viewpoint
Last summer, Dean Jobs refused to give Professor X a summer research grant to support yet another bar magazine publication. A fellow professor intervened, offering to match out of his own summer research grant whatever money Dean Jobs was willing to spare for Professor X. “Ok,” Dean Jobs replied. “I will give Professor X zero.”
Good deaning rewards serious scholarly work, even if that makes explicit distinctions among faculty members.
To foster loyalty in your faculty members, you have to be loyal to them.
At the last faculty meeting, Dean Jobs reads out a list of ten faculty members and says, “I can’t fire you because you have tenure, but you are getting the worst teaching assignments for next year… too many professors here are B or C players.”
Tolerate only A players.
Publicly embarrassing faculty members will backfire on the Dean.
Two years ago, the Dean asked the Admissions Office for a detailed analysis of the entering class. When the head of the office didn’t deliver enough detail quickly enough, Dean Jobs railed about that person’s incompetence.
Demand excellence always.
You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
In the first year of his deanship, the school’s US News ranking went up. Dean Jobs promptly announced, “My deanship represents the beginning of an upward trajectory for the law school.”
The market will recognize excellence.
Understand the limits of the rankings.
In the second year of his deanship, the school’s US News ranking went down. Dean Jobs promptly announced, “We are experiencing the negative repercussions of actions taken prior to my arrival.”
Understand the limits of the rankings.
Understand the limits of a law school dean’s influence.
With thanks to an unnamed source who drew this article to my attention, here's a link to a piece in The Guardian that attempts to explain some of those plot holes in Ridley Scott's Prometheus. I was relieved to see I wasn't the only person stumped by the meaning of that first scene.
ABC News reports that 43 Transportation Security Administration workers at Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers have been fired or suspended after an internal investigation found they failed to perform random screenings last year. The number of workers involved makes it one of the largest disciplinary actions TSA has taken in its 10-year history. But, says TSA spokesman David Castelveter:
"It's the random secondary (check) that did not happen. At no time was a traveler's safety at risk and there was no impact on flight operations."
For all you fans of things Australian, this story could only have come from down under. Apparently wallabies are getting high in Tasmania's legal opium fields and creating crazy crop circles. I wonder if M. Night Shyamalan has looked into securing the movie rights for the story yet?
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.
A couple of years ago, the folks at The Big Bang Theory brought us the famous twist on the old schoolyard game "Rock, Paper, Scissors" by giving us their new improved version "Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock". According to Wikipedia the new version was not developed by the Big Bang Theory producers and was used in the show without permission of the developers.
Last week, my younsters came home from school with another version: "Rock, Paper, Scissors Builder". In this version the players get to add new items to the list and describe their powers and properties as they go.
This got me to wondering whatever happaned to those old schoolyard games we all used to play? Are there other 'new and improved' versions people have developed?
Brad Smith, an undergraduate political science student at the University of North Carolina, entertains himself during tournament lulls:
Stated explicitly, the question I hope to answer here is: "Does Obama systematically favor teams from "swing states" when filling out his NCAA bracket?" . . . To test bias towards swing states I developed a very simple measure that I call the "pander score." This score assigns a value to each state for a given year that is equal to the difference in Obama's bracket and the ESPN national aggregate bracket's predictions about the total number of wins that teams from a given state will achieve throughout the tournament. By using ESPN's national bracket as a control group, this test compares Obama's predictions to the aggregated predictions of a large group, allowing me to identify in a quantifiable way to what degree Obama's predictions differ from that of the "average" individual.
As the results indicate, there is a positive relationship between a team's location in a swing state and the number of wins that Obama predicts that that team will achieve throughout the tournament. Furthermore, this relationship is strongly statistically significant well beyond the 95% level of confidence. Considering that the pander score measures the difference between Obama's predictions and the national average, this positive and strongly significant correlation provides strong support for the notion that Obama's bracket picks were influenced by his desire to appeal to swing state voters.
What fun. Even more interesting would be to think about Obama’s preferences within the swing states. For example, I suspect that a Duke pick (who it looks like the President had losing to Baylor) is unlikely to resonate with North Carolina voters nearly so much as his UNC or NC State picks.
One thing that I brought with me from practice to the academy is a fondness for charts in helping me decode complex rules. I'm especially loyal to charts that route tax compliance, like this one (details not that interesting to the general reader, but you get the idea):
But really, Tim Murphy's chart over at Mother Jones (here) is much, much better than any chart I've ever made:
Thou eunuch of language; thou Englishman, who never was south the Tweed; thou servile echo of fashionable barbarisms; thou quack, vending the nostrums of empirical elocution; thou marriage-maker between vowels and consonants, on the Gretna-green of caprice; thou cobler, botching the flimsy socks of bombast oratory; thou blacksmith, hammering the rivets of absurdity; thou butcher, embruing thy hands in the bowels of orthography; thou arch-heretic in pronunciation; thou pitch-pipe of affected emphasis; thou carpenter, mortising the awkward joints of jarring sentences; thou squeaking dissonance of cadence; thou pimp of gender; thou Lyon Herald to silly etymology; thou antipode of grammar; thou executioner of construction; thou brood of the speech-distracting builders of the Tower of Babel; thou lingual confusion worse confounded; thou scape-gallows from the land of syntax; thou scavenger of mood and tense; thou murderous accoucheur of infant learning; thou ignis fatuus, misleading the steps of benighted ignorance; thou pickle-herring in the puppet-show of nonsense; thou faithful recorder of barbarous idiom; thou persecutor of syllabication; thou baleful meteor, foretelling and facilitating the rapid approach of Nox and Erebus.
Are there other examples from the legal academy of expressive rejoinders as witty as this one by Burns? The Martha Nussbaum v. Stanley Fish dust-up from the mid-1980's doesn't come close. Other contenders?