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?
I'm late to the fan club of Downton Abbey, the English TV costume-drama that initially premiered in the U.K. in September 2010. Later this month, the show will begin its second season here in the U.S. under the "PBS-Masterpiece Classic" label. I couldn't help but think that actor Hugh Bonneville might be a good candidate for a leading role in a film about the Supreme Court.
With thanks to a colleague in Australia for pointing this one out, some of you profs entering the grading season might enjoy this piece on the five stages of grading (based on the five stages of grief).
The bottom line is that [candidate] Mary Prescott reminds me of me. And so she will contribute to the law school in (many) many ways. By contrast, [candidate] Frank Wright reminds me of you, Tony, and that’s an unpleasant reminder. We don’t need more of you. The law school should be looking to downsize you. And simultaneously, the law school should be spending far greater resources validating what I do.” . . .
Here's a little trivia question on effective writing.
Who wrote the following and should we take it is good advice for ourselves and our students...
"One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you're maybe a little bit ashamed of your short ones. This is like dressing up a household pet in evening clothes. The pet is embarrassed and the person who committed this act of premeditated cuteness should be even more embarrassed. Make yourself a solemn promise right now that you'll never use 'emolument' when you mean 'tip'..."
Last night I had another of my infamous law professor anxiety dreams. I thought I'd share it here because, if nothing else, it gives some of the guys over at Volokh something to chuckle about. I guess I've been listening to too many law profs lately complain about lack of space in their buildings because this dream could be entitled 'law prof dreams, bursting at the seams'. In my dream, we finally ran out of classroom space so I was scheduled to teach my trademarks class in the law school courtyard, which would have been fine except that this is Cleveland in the fall and it's already started raining (snow's on the way, I'm told). My students had the bright idea that maybe we should move the class to the cafeteria, but they wouldn't let us in unless we were going to buy something. So I had to foot the bill for all my students to have coffee and pastries during the class. I was wondering if this would be a reimburseable expense I could claim against my faculty budget.
In case anyone is really concerned, as far as I know, this afternoon's trademark class is being held in the usual classroom INSIDE the law school building...
I've been spending a while doing some statutory interpretation exercises in class lately, so thought I'd bring my prowess to bear on that most humble of literary forms, the fortune cookie.
Here's a question of "fortune cookie interpretation" for anyone looking for a little light relief from legal interpretation over the weekend: Do the following two fortunes mean substantively the same thing?
"Failing to plan is planning to fail."
"Plan your work, and work your plan."
(I think they are significantly different, but a colleague argued that they are, in fact, substantively the same.)
Things heard in the Goldman Sachs elevators do not stay in the Goldman Sachs elevators.
The creator was interviewed by DealBook in August. But according to a few web sites, GS has launched an internal investigation to discover the Tweeter’s identity, and believes it is either an intern or a “young gun.”
Yet another way to avoid those last revisions that you promised yourself would be done before the semester started.