Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘law school

Tuesday Night MOOCs and More

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* 20 Things the Matter with MOOCs.

* Also from Richard: What do asteroids, MOOCs, and medical records have in common?  All are examples, currently in the news, of the way in which public policy in the US is driven not by the common good or professionals or expert knowledge, but by the generation of mediashock in the service of the entrepeneurial desire of cybercapitalism to monetize data.

* On drone ethnography.

All of us that use the internet are already practicing Drone Ethnography. Look at the features of drone technology: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Surveillance, Sousveillance. Networks of collected information, over land and in the sky. Now consider the “consumer” side of tech: mapping programs, location-aware pocket tech, public-sourced media databases, and the apps and algorithms by which we navigate these tools. We already study the world the way a drone sees it: from above, with a dozen unblinking eyes, recording everything with the cold indecision of algorithmic commands honed over time, affecting nothing—except, perhaps, a single, momentary touch, the momentary awareness and synchronicity of a piece of information discovered at precisely the right time. An arc connecting two points like the kiss from an air-to-surface missile. Our technological capacity for watching, recording, collecting, and archiving has never been wider, and has never been more automated. The way we look at the world—our basic ethnographic approach—is mimicking the technology of the drone.

* The ACLU on what Rand Paul achieved.

Six-Month-Old Baby Dies From Gunshot Wounds In Chicago.

*  “Defense attorneys believe the girl, who lived across the river in Weirton, W.Va., made a decision to excessively drink and — against her friends’ wishes — to leave with the boys. They assert that she consented to sex,” reports the Cleveland Plain-Dealer’s Rachel Dissell. Richmond’s attorney, Walter Madison, is getting specific, citing “an abundance of evidence here that she was making decisions, cognitive choices … She didn’t affirmatively say no.” She was unconscious at the time.

I think it’s possible Natalia is the reckoning of Girls.

* The Herbalife war: Hedge-fund titan Bill Ackman has vowed to bring down Herbalife, the 33-year-old nutritional-supplement company, which he views as a pyramid scheme. With his massive shorting of Herbalife stock, the price plummeted, prompting two fellow billionaires—Ackman’s former friend Dan Loeb and activist investor Carl Icahn—to take the opposing bet on Herbalife. As the public brawl rivets Wall Street, William D. Cohan learns why, this time, it’s personal.

The most influential songwriter of his time has become the first rock star voted into the elite, century-old American Academy of Arts and Letters, where artists range from Philip Roth to Jasper Johns and categories include music, literature and visual arts.

* New data confirms that the unsatisfyingly named “Higgs-like particle” announced at CERN last year really is a Higgs boson.

* Exhumation of Pablo Neruda’s remains set for 8 April.

6 ÷ 2(1+2) = RAGE

The Law Graduate Debt Disaster Goes Critical.

* Ezra Klein gets it very wrong.

The US Senate: Where Democracy Goes to Die.

* Here comes the asteroid mining.

The insane plan to rescue Napoleon from St. Helena by submarine.

14 Great Sci-Fi Stories by Philip K. Dick as Free Audio Books and Free eBooks.

Higher Ed Briefs

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* The U.S. Army announced Friday that it will freeze all new applications for service members’ tuition assistance, temporarily eliminating a much relied-on program for soldiers and sending universities scrambling to identify alternative sources of funding for their students.

* How much does it cost to do an academic job search? This one seems to be behind a paywall, alas.

Ms. Finn first went on the market in 2009, a year before defending her dissertation, which she published as a book with Palgrave Macmillan last year. She has now been looking for a tenure-track job for four years. In that time she has applied for a total of 75 academic positions and spent more than $2,000. She has paid for postage, transcripts, several years of graduate-student membership in the Modern Language Association, and costs associated with attending the group’s conferences four times. Her tab also includes $39.90 to set up a three-year account with Interfolio, a popular online dossier-management service. To date, she has spent $365 for the service to transmit her application materials to scores of institutions.

There has been no payoff in terms of offers of a tenure-track job, visiting-professor position, or postdoctoral fellowship. Instead, Ms. Finn, who has taught as an adjunct at three universities, is unemployed, still on the job market, and trying to keep up with her research.

“I feel exhausted,” she says, “and as though I am throwing money into a gigantic hole.” She doesn’t regret graduate school, she adds, but “my wallet and credit score regret it.”

* Pop goes the law school bubble.

Who’s Assessing the Assessors’ Assessors?

Yet the mavens of outcomes assessment do exactly the wrong thing—they pretend to have some other method that is the royal road to truth when, prey to the same doubts, it is no more than the path to ignorance.

By sophomore year Evan was sleeping on a blowup mattress in an empty house off campus. He had no bed. No furniture. No posters or mini-fridge or shelf fraught with textbooks. He had no friends. He had sold the former, severed ties with latter, and now spent his hours curled up on an Aerobed until his dealer came through. The Existential Pain of Being Young, White, and Affluent.

* Harvard Search of E-Mail Stuns Its Faculty Members. Every aspect of this Harvard cheating scandal is so bizarre. Is there any reason to think such a high percentage of students—much less high-achieving Ivy Leaguers—would have cheated on a well-designed assignment with clear rules? Just call it even and be done with it.

* And UW admits by the numbers. Interesting to see how much has changed since 2000.

MLK Day Links

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tumblr_mgtgpfnLyP1qap9gno1_50017 Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes You Never Hear. The Martin Luther King You Don’t See on TV. Beyond Vietnam, 1967. And of course “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”

* Jacobin gets profiled in the New York Times—and because the magazine was founded by a man, it gets to be in “Books,” not “Style”!

* Graduate school from admissions to job applications, from Karen “The Professor is In” Kelsky: Graduate School Is a Means to a Job.

* Inequality in American Education Will Not Be Solved Online.

To summarize: the answer to underfunded, lower effectiveness primary and secondary education requires subsidizing a private, VC-funded bet made on a roulette wheel fashioned from the already precarious prospects of a disadvantaged population.

Bowling Green State University announced Friday that it will cut the size of its faculty by 11 percent, eliminating 100 full-time faculty jobs, The Toledo Blade reported. The reduction will be made by not filling positions of those who resign or retire, and also by not renewing many one-year teaching contracts. Officials said that more than $5 million would be saved, and that the funds would be invested in other priorities. In addition, administrators said that there would be no impact on the quality of instruction students receive. Also chocolate and puppies for everyone.

* Purdue University’s new president doesn’t really care for universities. Sounds like the perfect guy for the job!

* More new revenue streams: Carleton University has started a commercial rent-a-mathematician service, a calculated move to bring in some cash and also fix real-world problems. Will explain science fiction for food…

Surviving the Next Apocalypse: a Modest Curriculum.

* Because everything in college sports is running so smoothly, the NCAA has decided it’s time to eliminate a whole bunch of rules.

Some Ph.D.’s Choose to Work Off the Tenure Track. “Choose” is doing a lot of work in that headline.

* “What a deformed monster is a standing army in a free nation”: the U.S. and military spending.

* Kid Kills 5 in Family in New Mexico, Planned Slaughter at WalMart.

The weapons included not just the AR-15 but more.  He had gotten them out of his  father’s unlocked closet, not a gun-safe, after he had a “minor disagreement” with his mother.  He shot her in her bed, then the three little kids, in their beds.  Mulitple times.  Perhaps with the semi-auto rifle.   Waited a few hours, then shot dad when he came home.

Then:  Loaded up van with weapons and started to drive to local Walmart, where he planned to slaughter many more,  then kill himself.  Called friend, though, who suggested he stop by church and maybe think about it.  Security guard there calls cops.

5 People Shot At 3 Different Gun Shows On Gun Appreciation Day. Ohio church sponsors private gun buyback.

“If the district attorney agrees to send me to prison for a long time, then I will confess and plead guilty,” Hubatch told Madison police Detective Tom Helgren after his arrest on Monday, according to a criminal complaint. “Otherwise, I have nothing else to say, and if released I will do it again.” The versatile law degree, University of Wisconsin edition.

CVS Manager Fatally Strangles Homeless Man for Shoplifting Toothpaste. No charges filed because America.

* Where to Be Born: 1988-2013. Do your research, kids.

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* 50 collective nouns. The best of these I’ve heard recently was totally fake, but funny, on the new Paul F. Tompkins “Analyze Fish” Jaws podcast: “a jar of jellyfish.”

* Kurt Vonnegut’s “The Shapes of Stories,” Tumblrfied.

* ‘Quadruple helix’ DNA discovered in human cells. I feel certain this is where the X-factor that creates mutants is located.

* I’m taken in by the needless honesty of a telepathic shield maker that bothers to say “only one failure since 1998.”

* Fracking on the San Andreas Fault? What could possibly go wrong?

* “Escape from Tomorrowland,” filmed without Disney’s knowledge at Disney World.

* And your text adventure of the day: Reset.

Thursday Night Links

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Having a monetary value tied to human incarceration and justice creates a deeply perverse incentive that should not exist in the world of commerce. When the for-profit prison industry places the iron fist of criminal justice in the invisible hands of the market and sells it as a cost-cutting measure, it is hard not to interpret as anything but the predatory capitalism of a self-perpetuating slave state.

* Law school skips right past adjunctification and non-monetary compensation all the way to a pay-to-work scheme.

* Just end the filibuster. This is a no-brainer.

What Will It Take to Solve Climate Change?

Gorilla Sales Skyrocket After Latest Gorilla Attack.

Following the events of last week, in which a crazed western lowland gorilla ruthlessly murdered 21 people in a local shopping plaza after escaping from the San Diego Zoo, sources across the country confirmed Thursday that national gorilla sales have since skyrocketed.

“After seeing yet another deranged gorilla just burst into a public place and start killing people, I decided I need to make sure something like that never happens to me,” said 34-year-old Atlanta resident Nick Keller, shortly after purchasing a 350-pound mountain gorilla from his local gorilla store. “It just gives me peace of mind knowing that if I’m ever in that situation, I won’t have to just watch helplessly as my torso is ripped in half and my face is chewed off. I’ll be able to use my gorilla to defend myself.”

* 56 Up now playing in the US. I can’t wait.

How To Fix Maternity Leave.

For the fiscal year, which for most schools ends this June, 18% of 165 private universities and 15% of 127 public universities project a decline in net tuition revenue. That is a sharp rise from the estimated declines among 10% of the 152 private schools and 4% of the 105 public schools in fiscal 2012.

* Turns out the brain isn’t very much like papyrus after all.

* Google will now translate into Flanders. (Not really-a-doodly.)

* Ezra Klein plays Biden  ’16 make-believe. At least he’s making sense on the platinum coin.

* What’s your preferred gender pronoun?

* Horrifying: On zombie foreclosure.

* And on the science fiction beat: Joss Whedon Directing SHIELD Pilot Right Now, Already Working On Scripts For Later In The Series. Christopher Nolan’s next movie is called Interstellar. For the 50th anniversary, five Doctors and a cavalcade of Companions will reunite…on an audio specialFan hopes science will prove tragic Firefly death never happened. And Y: The Last Man has a director: the unknown fan director of that Portal fan film.

Links for the Weekend

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What Search Committees Wish You Knew. This is a reasonably good article with one piece of deeply terrible advice. Do not tell a search committee anything about your personal life or your relationships that will harm your chances until after you have received a written offer. Being open and honest about your two-body problem will not help you in the least. UPDATE: When I posted this on Twitter, @academicdave had a much harsher take, and found the piece pretty wanting. I don’t know. I think it’s useful for applicants to try to humanize their imagination of the search committee a bit (which can be hard). And then of course once you’ve done that you have to put brakes on that impulse, because they’re still not your friends, and they don’t really care about you much at all.

* Ads without Products has a great pedagogical post on teaching writing and critical perversity. I think I’m going to steal some of this language for my course next semester.

So how do I teach “practical criticism”? In the seminar groups that I lead, I model and encourage the following “flow chart” of thought: Anticipate what other intelligent readers of this piece might say about it. Try to imagine the “conventional wisdom” about it that would emerge as if automatically in the minds of the relatively well-informed and intelligent. And then, but only then, figure out a perverse turn that you can make within the context of but against this conventional wisdom. “Of course that seems right, but on the other hand it fails to account for…” “On first glace, it would be easy and to a degree justifiable to conclude that…. But what if we reconsider this conclusion in the light of….”

Students tend to demonstrate resistance, early on, to this practice. For one thing, especially in the first year, they don’t really (and couldn’t possibly) have a fully developed sense of what the “conventional wisdom” is that their supposed to be augmenting, contradicting, perverting. At this early stage, the process requires them to make an uncomfortable Pascalian wager with themselves – to pretend as though they are confident in their apprehensions until the confidence itself arrives. But even if there’s a certain awkwardness in play, it does seem to exercise the right parts of the students’ critical and analytical faculties so that they (to continue the metaphor) develop a sort of “muscle memory” of the “right” way to do criticism. From what I can tell, encouraging them to develop an instinct of this sort early measurably improves their writing as they move through their degree.

But still (and here, finally, I’m getting to the point of this post) there’s a big problem with all of this. I warn the students of this very early on – generally the first time I run one of their criticism seminars. There’s a big unanswered question lurking behind this entire process. Why must we be perverse? What is the value of aiming always for provocative difference, novelty, rather than any other goal?  Of course, there’s a pragmatic answer: Because it will cause your writing to be better received. Because you will earn better marks by doing it this way rather than the other. Because you will develop a skill – one that can be shifted to other fields of endeavour – that will be recognised as what the world generally calls “intelligence.” But – in particular because none of this should simply be about the pragmatics of getting up the various ladders and depth charts of life – this simply isn’t a sufficient response, or at least is one that begs as many questions as it answers. What are, after all the politics of “novelty”? What are we to make of the structural similarity between what it takes to impress one’s markers and what it takes to make in “on the market,” whether as a human or inhuman commodity? What if – in the end – the answers to question that need (ethically, politically) answering are simple rather than complex, the obvious rather than the surprising?

* A possible example of critical perversity from Deadspin: Everything You Need To Know About Pennsylvania’s Lawsuit Against The NCAA (And Why You Should Support It). Though frankly I’m pretty sympathetic to the claim that the NCAA has no jurisdiction over criminal conspiracies, much less that it followed a rational procedure to adjudicate competing claims in this case.

Bousquet asked the audience why police departments are far more diverse than English departments, by and large. Noting the silence in the audience following his question, Bousquet noted, “We have made it too difficult for those who are not advantaged” to enter the profession. Asked whether he believes faculty diversity is a priority for elite institutions, such as the one he now teaches at, Bousquet said such institutions are “constantly trying to work on the question of diversity.

“For me, the question is why do they fail so much, despite all of those efforts. And I think one of the reasons, amongst many, is the irrationalism of faculty compensation.” Bousquet adds, “Eighty percent of faculty are working like for $15,000 a year” taking into account adjuncts and graduate students.

* “Sustainable Teaching Fail”: The conditions of non-tenure-track faculty are setting us up to be failures as effective pedagogues.

* Lincoln explains the modern GOP.

“Your purpose, then, plainly stated, is that you will destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and us. You will rule or ruin in all events.”

* But don’t worry! There’s a hack for that! The self-evident Calvinball lunacy of this trillion-dollar-coin thing is all the proof I need that our system is broken and our elites are insane.

Politicians Should Learn Bigger Lessons From Their Pet Causes.

But too many politicians, and this especially includes self-described fiscal conservatives, simply can’t draw the obvious conclusion from all this: namely that you shouldn’t support help for the poor and the sick and elderly only if you personally happen to know someone who’s poor or sick or elderly. All of these people exist whether or not they happen to be family members.

* Blue Mars: What Mars would look like with oceans and life.

* A California appeals court has found that raping a sleeping woman isn’t illegal if she’s unmarried. I swear to God, I don’t even know where to begin with this bullshit anymore.

* Elsewhere in rape culture atrocities: Basically an entire town colludes to protect their football team from rape prosecution.

House GOP lets the Violence Against Women Act expire for first time since 1994. I mean really.

* Inside Chernobyl’s Abandoned Hospital.

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* More Evidence Shows That Pro Sports Teams Don’t Boost The Economy.

* There Are Two Law School Grads for Every Lawyer Job.

* The Original Star Wars Trilogy As Maps.

Commander Riker lorem ipsum.

* Everything that’s wrong with football, in ten seconds. WHAT A HIT! I’M SO EXCITED I CAN’T EVEN WAIT TO SEE IF THE PLAYER HAS BEEN HURT OR KILLED! VIOLENCE! EXCITEMENT! YELLING!

* Google is not an illegal monopoly, so they can go on ruining all their products with dumb attempts to monetize your data. Hooray!

* And George Saunders Has Written the Best Book You’ll Read This Year. Sold!

Thursday Afternoon

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* Reminder: Don’t eat beef in the United States. The Kansas City Star reports. Via MetaFilter.

Maps of Earth Showing Where Severe Weather is Most Likely to Kill You.

* A map of the United States as 50 states of equal population.

electoral10-1100

* Deep poverty: Americans living on two dollars a day.

* Life without Parole: Four Inmates’ Stories. The School-to-Prison Pipeline Gets Its First-Ever Airing in the Senate.

* Actual headline, or log-line for the next Stephen King novel? “USF researchers find 19 more graves at Dozier School for Boys.”

The state agency in Wisconsin that oversees for-profit colleges is considering a proposal that would require those institutions to meet certain performance standards—much like a controversial federal rule—in order to be allowed to operate in the state.

* The average American in the year 1900 had an I.Q. that by today’s standards would measure about 67. Since the traditional definition of mental retardation was an I.Q. of less than 70, that leads to the remarkable conclusion that a majority of Americans a century ago would count today as intellectually disabled. Given that IQ tests are definitely objective and reliable and are definitely a meaningful indicator of intelligence, this is indeed the only possible conclusion!

As many as one million working-age men died due to the economic shock of mass privatisation policies followed by post-communist countries in the 1990s, according to a new study published in The Lancet.

* Kevin Drum notes they’ve chosen the worst possible filibuster reform. No one could have predicted!

*Something something “A good start”: Law school applications are collapsing.

Did the Zipingpu Dam Trigger China’s 2008 Earthquake?

* Big Catholic? Marquette, DePaul, Georgetown, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Villanova leave the Big East.

* Honest internship ad. A non-defense.

* And today in “hilariously missing the point:” The CW is Planning a Hunger Games-Based Reality Show.

Tons of Weekend Links

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* “Austerity is not inevitable”: France falls to the Red Menace.

* Podcast of the weekend: Global science fiction on WorldCanvass, with Brooks Landon, Rob Latham, Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, and others.

* Charlie Stross prophesies the death of science fiction.

But anyway, to summarize: my point is that our genre sits uneasily within boundaries delineated by the machinery of sales. And that creaking steam-age machinery is currently in the process of being swapped out for some kind of irridescent, gleaming post-modern intrusion from the planet internet. New marketing strategies become possible, indeed, become essential. And the utility of the old signifiers—the rocket ship logo on the spine of the paperback—diminish in the face of the new (tagging, reader recommendations, “if you liked X you’ll love Y” cross-product correlations by sales engines, custom genre-specific cover illustrations, and so on).

* Tom Hayden remembers the Port Huron Statement (or at least the compromise second draft).

* Joe Biden endorses marriage equality for about fifteen minutes.

Black Studies Hitpiece Leads to Chronicle of Higher Ed Twitter Trainwreck. Why Is the Chronicle of Higher Education Publishing A Racist Hack? Grad Students Respond to Riley Post on African-American Studies. The Inferiority of Blackness as a Subject. Anti-intellectualism, déjà vu.

When copyright term-extension meets infinite life-extension.

* A tribute to Disneyland’s secret restroom.

* Connecticut continues its recent spate of being decent its citizens, legalizes medical medicine.

* Stand for your ground: A Florida woman faces prison after firing a warning shot to scare off an abusive husband.

* Nerds assemble! Joss Whedon finally made something everybody likes. An interview. Another. Whedon on Batman. Whedon on Wonder Woman.

* The Avengers: Will superhero movies never end?

What I see in “The Avengers,” unfortunately, is a diminished film despite its huge scale, and kind of a bore. It’s a diminishment of Whedon’s talents, as he squeezes himself into an ill-fitting narrative straitjacket, and it’s a diminished form that has become formula, that depends entirely on minor technical innovations and leaves virtually no room for drama or tragedy or anything else that might make the story actually interesting. To praise the movie lavishly, as so many people have done and will continue to do, basically requires making endless allowances. It’s really good (for being a comic-book movie). It’s really good (for being almost exactly like dozens of other things). It’s really good (for being utterly inconsequential).

* Today’s single chart that explains everything.

* The football suicides. More players file concussion lawsuits against the NFL. Will the NFL still exist in 20 years?

* The internship scam.

How the Blind Are Reinventing the iPhone.

* Save the Holocene! Why “the Anthropocene” might not be a useful construct.

* Do you remember Frank Kunkel? How about Frank Nowarczyk? John Marsh or Robert Erdman? Johann Zazka? Martin Jankowiak? Not even Michael Ruchalski? Do you remember the call “Eight hours for labor, eight hours for rest, eight hours for recreation?” The names are those of the seven of the nine people killed in 1886 in Bay View, Wisconsin for demanding eight hour work days.

* On Colorado’s policy of sending kids to adult court.

* A report by the ABA shows that some law schools hire as many as 15% of new graduates in an effort to boost employment numbers.

* Consider the case of Toby Groves.

* New Police Strategy in New York: Sexual Assault Against Peaceful Protesters.

* North Carolina’s Ban on Gay Marriage Appears Likely to Pass.

* Since Mexico’s legislative body passed sweeping climate change legislation on April 19, Mexico joins the UK as the only two countries in the world with legally binding emissions goals to combat climate change.

http://thebiblein100days.tumblr.com/

* American Airlines channels Darth Vader: We are altering the deal. Pray we do not alter it further.

* And Stephen Colbert’s employment of the comedic stylings of German Ambassador Hans Beinholtz continues to be my absolute favorite thing of all time.

Links

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* Teju Cole has expanded his White Savior Industrial Complex tweets into a full piece at the Atlantic.

* Erik Loomis vs. the MLA. Also on the Erik Loomis tip: Notes from a Changing Climate.

* Procedural reasons SCOTUS may punt on health care. Personally I’d be very surprised if we don’t get a definitive ruling this summer.

* “Which dystopian novel is it where thousands of surveillance robots constantly monitor us from the stratosphere?” Send in the Drones.

* Pop! Goes the Law School Bubble.

* Wired profiles James Erwin, whose Reddit comments landed him in Hollywood.

* A résumé filled with grievous errors in the period 1996–2006 is not only a non-problem for further advances in the world of consensus; it is something of a prerequisite. Our intellectual powers that be not only forgive the mistakes; they require them. You must have been wrong back then in order to have a chance to be taken seriously today; only by having gotten things wrong can you demonstrate that you are trustworthy, a member of the team. (Those who got things right all along, on the other hand, might be dubbed “premature market skeptics”—people who doubted the consensus before the consensus acknowledged it was all right to doubt.)

* Illinois has run out (!) of financial aid.

* Is the Portal to Hell Opening Up Under Wisconsin Right This Very Minute? Single-serving website in 3… 2… 1…

Wednesday Night!

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* Duke Lit is now advertising for a one-year postdoc in Marxist theory.

* Jim Henson, 1969: How to Make a Muppet. Also on Muppetwatch: A 1979 profile of Henson in anticipation of The Muppet Movie.

* The secret history of “Mahna Mahna”: “How a ditty from a soft-core Italian movie became the Muppets’ catchiest tune.”

* “Ninety-Nine Weeks”: an Occupy Wall Street fairy tale from Ursula K. Le Guin. Here’s another.

* More on the extraordinary syllabi of David Foster Wallace.

* Almost literally the least they could do: Davis Will Drop Charges Against, Pay Medical Bills of Pepper Spray Students.

* I’ve seen this movie: The Air Force “has asked industry to develop a new heat and motion sensor capable of detecting enemy gunfire from 25,000 feet over the battlefield — and then swiftly directing a bomb or missile onto the shooter.” I believe Terminator suggests the name HKs…

The full congregation of Raleigh’s Pullen Memorial Baptist Church voted Sunday to prohibit the church pastor from legally marrying anyone until she can legally marry same-sex couples under North Carolina law.

* Michael Bailey and Forrest Maltzman say their poli-sci model shows the Affordable Care Act will be upheld. Scott Lemieux says there’s no reason to think they’ll confine themselves to precedent and that it still all comes down to what Anthony Kennedy has for breakfast.

* Mother Jones reads Newt Gingrich’s dissertation.

* Google greets Thanksgiving (outside the US) with the mother of all interactive doodles.

* Massachusetts becomes 16th state to protect transgender people from discrimination. Google benefits now include transgender employees.

* Honestly, anyone who invested a dime in Groupon should have their investing license taken away. This thing was barely ever a company.

* And speaking of obvious scams: Is a Law Degree a Good Investment Today?

Sunday Night Links

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* Officers in pepper spray incident placed on (paid) leave.

* Greenwald on UC Davis: It’s easy to be outraged by this incident as though it’s some sort of shocking aberration, but that is exactly what it is not.

* How pepper spray works.

Pepper spray use has been suspected of contributing to a number of deaths that occurred in police custody. In mid-1990s, the U.S. Department of Justice cited nearly 70 fatalities linked to pepper-spray use, following on a 1995 report compiled by the American Civil Liberties Union of California. The ACLU report cited 26 suspicious deaths; it’s important to note that most involved pre-existing conditions such as asthma. But it’s also important to note a troubling pattern.

In fact, in 1999, the ACLU asked the California appeals court to declare the use of pepper spray to be dangerous and cruel. That request followed an action by northern California police officers against environmental protestors – the police were accused of dipping Q-tips into OC spray and applying them directly to the eyes of men and women engaged in an anti-logging protest.

“The ACLU believes that the use of pepper spray as a kind of chemical cattle prod on nonviolent demonstrators resisting arrest constitutes excessive force and violates the Constitution,” wrote association attorneys some 13 years ago.

* Five Theses on Privatization and the UC Struggle.

1. Tuition increases are the problem, not the solution.
2. Police brutality is an administrative tool to enforce tuition increases.
3. What we are struggling against is not the California legislature, but the upper administration of the UC system.
4. The university is the real world.
5. We are winning.

* Another UC Davis Manifesto: No Cops, No Bosses.

Open Letter to Chancellors and Presidents of American Universities and Colleges.

* The 1% and ecology: “Pollution begins not in the family bedroom, but in the corporate boardroom.”

* Freezing Free Speech: Winter Tents Are ‘Contraband’ For Occupy Boston.

In the last few days, Boston police have blocked the occupiers from bringing in a winterized tent intended as a safe space for women, and have searched a truck for “contraband” tents and insulation materials. In an exchange that resembles a vaudeville comedy routine, a Boston police officer explains to activist Clark Stoekley why he searched the truck for “items we don’t want in the camp”:

I came to the truck because uh, we were afraid you had contraband that we don’t want in the camp . . . items we don’t want in the camp . . . Winter tents and, um, any type of insulation materials for tents that are already presently there.

* “The fundamental issue is that law schools are producing people who are not capable of being counselors,” says Jeffrey W. Carr, the general counsel of FMC Technologies, a Houston company that makes oil drilling equipment. “They are lawyers in the sense that they have law degrees, but they aren’t ready to be a provider of services.” Another take on how to fix law schools from Slate. Via Pandagon and LGM.

* Pleasure in sex ed was a major topic last November at one of the largest sex-education conferences in the country, sponsored by the education arm of Planned Parenthood of Greater Northern New Jersey. “Porn is the model for today’s middle-school and high-school students,” Paul Joannides said in the keynote speech. “And none of us is offering an alternative that’s even remotely appealing.”

* And when it smells like it, feels like it, and looks like it you call it what it is: Perry Promises To End Civilian-Controlled Military.

Monday Morning

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* Occupy Wall Street is a month old today, with Obama saying yesterday that Martin Luther King would have approved. (His daughter thinks so, too.The parent group has now raised over $300,000.

* Courting King’s disapproval, Adam Kotsko questions nonviolence as a tactic.

In such a context, I’m not sure how effective non-violent methods can really be. They presuppose a level of decency and shame that I’m not sure our militarized police forces possess, at the end of the day. If they did, they wouldn’t show up with riot gear in response to what amounts to a bunch of people kind of hanging out. They wouldn’t use property damage as an excuse to exercise collective punishment. More specifically in this case: they wouldn’t arrest people who are trying to close their bank accounts.

* Cornell West arrested on the steps of the Supreme Court.

* Freddie deBoer: Blogging is a system of control.

* Derek Slater: No I’m Not Going to Law School.

* And the experts who were the only people not to see the first disaster coming say things can’t possibly get any worse. Enjoy your day!

Links from the Weekend

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Friday Night Links

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* The absolute craziest thing I’ve ever seen: Berkeley Researchers Turn Brain Waves Into YouTube Videos.

* Even news that the laws of physics have been overturned pales in comparison. I know, I know: Bad Astronomer, xkcd.

* Louis talks to the A.V. Club about Louie: 1, 2, 3, 4.

* Paul Campos: “The law’s absurd formalism was part of its strength as ideology.” Precisely. This insight applies to many more aspects of the legal system than the revolting spectacle of our contemporary system of capital punishment, which in a case such as Davis’s — which is not in this respect was not unusual — psychologically tortures the defendant, the defendant’s family, the victim’s family, and others connected to the case for literally decades before producing what the system then has the temerity to call “justice.” (The climax of this spectacle last night involved Davis being strapped to a gurney with a needle in his arm for nearly four hours, waiting for various legal personages to respond to the question of whether, all things considered, it was finally time to stop his heart with state-administered poison).

That we tolerate this kind of thing so readily helps explain, in its own way, why it sometimes seems impossible to do much of anything about the absurdities and dysfunctions of the system of legal education that legitimates it in the first instance. Or perhaps it’s the other way around: perhaps we tolerate the absurdity of something like the 22-year “process” that resulted in the horror of Davis’s final hours because we ‘re socialized from the beginning of our careers in this system to accept all kinds of absurdity and injustice as natural, inevitable, and therefore legitimate.

Reading this I was reminded of Duncan Kennedy’s excellent article “Legal Education and the Reproduction of Hierarchy,” which Corinne linked the other day on Twitter.

* Ground Zero Mosque opens without controversy. It’s almost as if the objections to this were complete bullshit.

* I’m steadfastly not paying attention to the GOP primary, but this is pretty astounding, even by Republican standards.

* DOJ: Rick Perry’s Texas Redistricting Plan Purposefully Discriminated Against Minorities.

* Why Is TV Suddenly Overstuffed With Buxom Bunnies, Sexy Stewardesses, and Charlie’s Angels?

* How long—how long must we sing this song? Forty years, give or take.

* Genetic sequencing indicates Australian Aborigines may have been the world’s first explorers, leaving Africa more than 60,000 years ago.

* Taxpayers in the San Francisco area spend $2,762,295 each year in junk food subsidies, but only $41,950 each year on apple subsidies.

* Speaking at a Climate Week NYC event hosted by the Maldives, the TckTckTck campaign, and the U.N., Greenpeace International President Kumi Naidoo argued that the path to a sustainable future will involve peaceful, popular civil disobedience. “The struggle for climate justice is not a popularity contest,” he argued. He said the lesson of the Arab Spring, and the history of struggles from suffrage to civil rights to the end of apartheid, is that change only comes when decent men and women are willing to risk their lives and go to jail in peaceful protest.

The world’s rudest hand gestures.

Great Lost Pop Culture Treasures.

And Chris Ware on your iPad. Have a good weekend.

Trying So Badly That You Aren’t Even Trying

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And so it comes to pass that the Walker decision is insulting to the electorate of California. Quite so. Walker basically tells a majority of the voters on Prop 8 to sit and spin on their failure to grasp their own cherished values. I think it’s only natural for a lot of people to feel something between aggravation and red hot rage, in the aftermath of any such decision, by any court, to strike down any legislative or ballot measure as unconstitutional. It’s just not pleasant to be lectured about how you are a bad idiot. It’s very hard for any proponent of Prop 8 to read this decision as anything but that.

John Holbo goes deep into the weeds on the “rational basis” test for California’s gay marriage ban in Perry v. Schwarzenegger in an effort to establish the difference (if any) between “no rational basis” and “trying so badly that you aren’t even trying.”

Let me construct a silly hypothetical. Suppose the state’s ‘rational basis’ – let this be the only ‘interest’ proffered – is that gay marriage will increase rates of cancer in children within 5 miles of anyone who gets gay married. (Bear with me. The point is to consider something absolutely maximally stupid and see what it says about ‘rational basis’ as a standard.) The ‘experts’ called to testify about the gay cancer cluster effect are as credible as you might expect, etc. etc. And the judge writes a decision to the effect that there is no ‘rational basis’. And now the state objects that it is doing it ‘for the children’. This is a legitimate state interest, and the legislature is allowed to pursue any legitimate state interest, even in idiotic, ineffective – nay, perverse! – ways.

If opponents of gay marriage declare this terrible thing will, literally, cause the sun not to rise … And here’s this judge saying it’s nonsense and, factually, the sun will rise one way or the other … I think we can see that there is a slightly weird issue here about ‘rational basis’ that, contra Kerr, doesn’t hinge on consideration that all predictions have confidence levels.

What is the issue? I think it has to do with why this urban myth about gay marriage cancer clusters took root. If the explanation is that lots of people despise gays, or even just think being gay is clearly morally worse than being straight, and if this sentiment works itself out, expresses itself, through readiness to confabulate and credit empirically nonsensical harm claims, then, really, this is not a case of the state even pursuing legitimate interests in preventing harms. It’s effectively just a case of moral disapproval.

It’s the sort of post I’m glad to read, but which also makes me glad I never went to law school.