Tag Archives: Law School

That time Treehugger jumped the shark

[Editor’s note: As should be clear from the very first sentence, the following post was originally written well over a year ago. I can offer no explanation for my delinquency in publishing it other than I have been delinquent in publishing just about everything around here.]

I wrote a post last week complaining about an extremely misleading headline over at Treehugger. But upon further reflection, I don’t know what about the #fail it discussed exercised me so. After all, I’ve been aware that Treehugger jumped the shark for quite some time.

My suspicions were aroused back in September, when I came across an unusual “Photo of the Day”. Treehugger has long periodically posted photographs culled from reader contributions. The pictures — how do I say this without sounding like a snob? — typically portray attractive subjects, but the photographer’s execution can sometimes leave quite a bit of room for improvement.

Continue reading That time Treehugger jumped the shark


Sorry, Cass Sunstein, it’s already been done

Early last year, renowned legal scholar Cass Sunstein published an essay titled How Star Wars Explains Constitutional Law. I came across it through The Washington Post, but the piece was originally posted to a website called The New Rambler, which seems more appropriate — given that Cass managed to hold forth on the topic for over 4,500 words. This post will not carry on for nearly as long.

Continue reading Sorry, Cass Sunstein, it’s already been done

That Skittles press conference is why journalists — and the NFL — can’t stand Marshawn Lynch

Let me get this out of the way up front: the footage of Marshawn’s Skittles-sponsored “press conference” was a joy to watch. So thank you, Marshawn, for making today more awesomer. If you somehow haven’t seen it already, here ya go:

Continue reading That Skittles press conference is why journalists — and the NFL — can’t stand Marshawn Lynch

These are the people in charge of servicing my law school loans

About a year ago, Sallie Mae spun off part of its operations and named the new entity Navient. About four days ago, I received an email from Navient asking me to log in and view some document. Since I couldn’t remember the last time I had logged in, I unsurprisingly discovered that I also couldn’t remember my user ID. So I asked Navient to email me that information — and was taken to a page that looked like this:

Continue reading These are the people in charge of servicing my law school loans

How did Michael Bennett explain his bike-thievery anyway?

So about that earlier post — titled “The New York Times inexplicably chopped this quote in half” — which accused the Times of twisting Seahawks DE Michael Bennett’s words:  Mea cul…pass (?)* It turns out that when I wrote it (at some point between 3 and 4 AM), I somehow failed to notice that the gap between the NY Times and the quote I remembered was wider than I thought.**

Continue reading How did Michael Bennett explain his bike-thievery anyway?

New York Times op-ed writers interested in exactly the opposite of what I’m interested in

I recently stumbled across an Op-Ed written by two YLS professors that appeared in the New York Times nearly a month ago. The piece was titled, “Obama, the Least Lame President?“, a headline that immediately made me wonder: who was our most lame President?

One obvious contender, recently put forward by Parks & Recreation, is number nine, William Henry Harrison:

Continue reading New York Times op-ed writers interested in exactly the opposite of what I’m interested in

Jon Stewart and I spent our Passovers in basically the same way

I recently returned to school from celebrating Passover. For the two weeks I was out of town, I attended no classes, barely had a chance to read emails, played numerous games (well, a few games many times), and spent quality time with the family — it was an altogether glorious vacation.

I read two whole books over break — Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane and Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge — unfortunately, neither had anything to do with the class I was missing.

But I don’t want to give the impression that I slacked off the whole time. I also sat down by the pool with a casebook, Land Use Controls, and managed to get through about 100 pages by the end of Passover.

Meanwhile, Jon Stewart also took a fortuitously-timed break from The Daily Show between April 10 and April 21, which means he also took off the first half of Passover:

Stewart break

Leibowitz returned to the airwaves with a segment titled Apocalypse Cow, featuring — who else? — Cliven Bundy, and revealed that he spent his time away studying the exact same material:

Continue reading Jon Stewart and I spent our Passovers in basically the same way

It isn’t always worth doing the science

A new working paper that came out last month offered an explanation for why so many students begin college as science majors and end up switching to other subjects: science is hard. Of course, this isn’t a new conclusion: the New York Times covered it two years ago, and the Onion was on it back in 2002, but the paper’s recent publication helped its thesis attract considerable attention in recent weeks.

As a biology major who decided to go to law school, you might be tempted to lump me in with the people who gave up on science because it’s hard. But I’m here to argue that that doesn’t have to be the case. Sometimes, science is really easy, as will be demonstrated through the example of some science I did that consumes the rest of this post.

On my way home from work today, I listened to a Science Friday segment that aired back in January 2011, An Earlier Departure Out Of Africa? Here’s how SciFri host Ira Flatow introduced the segment:

Most anthropologists agree that human evolution started in Africa and spread from there. But when did our ancestors venture out, and what route did they take? That’s one of the biggest questions in human origins . . . and now there is some new information that could really heat up the debate and . . . helping some scientists fill in some of the blanks.

Researchers report this week in the journal Science that they have found an ancient toolkit in an unlikely place, and they’re talking about the United Arab Emirates. The finding, they say, suggests that modern humans may have left Africa a lot earlier than anyone had thought, and their exodus may have taken a whole different route than what most people are talking about.

Here to talk about it with me is Will Harcourt-Smith. He is a research associate in paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History.

Being published in Science is sort of a big deal, which gives you an idea of the interest this finding garnered back when it was published two and a half years ago. But before you get too impressed, let’s hear a little more about this discovery — and why we should be so impressed [feel free to skim, and concentrate on the parts I bolded]:

FLATOW: What is so interesting about this discovery? This pouch – was it a pouch or just a group of tools, just a bunch of tools found together?

Dr. HARCOURT-SMITH: That’s it. It’s just a bunch of tools. I mean, not just. They’re incredibly important. But there are no skeletal remains of humans, fossilized remains.

The reason it’s important is really twofold. It’s an unusual part of the world to find these tools at this date.

FLATOW: What date are we talking about?

Dr. HARCOURT-SMITH: About 120,000 years ago. And in general, we don’t find tools like that down in the Arabian Peninsula. This is way down in the Arabian Peninsula, not far – you know, as you said, in the UAE.

And conventionally, we think that modern humans emigrated out of Africa somewhat later, about 60,000, 70,000 years ago, through the Middle East, advanced, you know, into Europe and eventually sort of further east into Asia.

This implies that they may have taken a second route, which would have been through the Horn of Africa, straight into Arabia. And they’ve done a really neat bit of work here. They’ve not just looked at the stone tools, they’ve also looked at the sea levels and the geology, and they think that humans would have been able to get across at the straits there, right at Yemen near the port of Aden.

They would have been able to get – it’s very narrow there anyway, and they would have been able to get across. So we’re looking at a second route out of Africa, which is quite exciting.

There is, admittedly, some disagreement*, but wouldn’t it have been a whole lot easier to just glance at a map?

Continue reading It isn’t always worth doing the science

The NSA just might owe Edward Snowden a big thank you

Government-type people don’t seem too happy with Edward Snowden. By blowing the whistle on big brother-like behavior, Snowden complicated efforts to track terrorists and prevent them from attacking the United States. But the government’s not the only entity that will be forced to change its behavior — turns out, terrorists keep up with the news, and have begun to behave differently, too:

Continue reading The NSA just might owe Edward Snowden a big thank you

John Oliver botches three-part series on gun control in a single instant

Ten days ago, John Oliver wrapped up his fabulous three-part series on gun control in Australia.

In part one, which aired on April 18, John Oliver asks the former Prime Minister of Australia John Howard whether gun control could possibly work under any circumstances ever. (Answer: there have been no mass shootings in Australia since that country enacted gun control measures in the mid-nineties.)

In part two, which aired on April 23, John Oliver speaks to Australian politicians who voted for gun controlm to see whether they survived the political backlash. (Answer: though a few of them lost their jobs, they are all alive and happy and well.)

And in part three, which aired on April 25, John Oliver explores whether what happened in Australia might possibly inform the debate in the United States. As I said, the series was fabulous, and I strongly recommend you watch it for yourself, but in the meantime, I would like to draw your attention to this third part. Oliver begins his exploration by sitting down with Philip van Cleave (of the Virginia Citizens Defense League):

John Oliver: Are there any lessons for America here? Virginia gun advocate Philip van Cleave has a clear answer.

Van Cleave: We’re not Australia. It’s a very different culture. Different people. Different everything.

JO: Right. There’s no similarity with Australia. Australia is a former British colony, with a wild frontier, that was tamed by brave men, who also wiped out almost an entire indigenous population. And we are [awkward pause for comedic effect] not similar to that. Right?

VC: Right.

So given the vast differences between the American and Australian experiences, it would be surprising to find any overlap in the respective countries’ gun debates. And, unsurprisingly, that’s just what Oliver found when he sat down with the Hon. Bob Borbridge (former Premiere of Queensland, Australia):

John Oliver: But it’s pointless for us to study the Australian experience, because their fear of gun control back then has no parallels with ours. Well what kinds of things were you hearing when you suggested gun control?

Bob Borbridge: That the government was becoming a dictatorship.

JO: Alright, that’s one.

BB: We were told people would not have the right to defend their property and their families.

JO: Alright, that’s definitely two.

BB: That democracy is at stake somehow if the government decides there should be a background check.

JO: Yeah, alright, three.

BB: That we’re about to be invaded by the Indonesians.

JO: That’s completely different. No one in America is afraid of Indonesians.

See, it’s like totally different! Proof, then, that the lessons of gun control in Australia could in no way transfer to the eastern side of the Pacific — wait, excuse me, John Oliver, did you just say no one in America is afraid of Indonesians? Must I remind you:

Continue reading John Oliver botches three-part series on gun control in a single instant