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December 20, 2002

Happy Holidays!

Four applications to law school are now out the door and headed for George Washington U., American U., George Mason U, and Boston College. Is five enough? Hmmm.. I'll ponder that some more ... later. But first, I'm off to Michigan, then on to Montana to spend time with the famdamily, so posts will likely be fairly infrequent for the next few weeks. If you'd like to direct my Survivor application video, please let me know so I can have my people contact your people and maybe we can do lunch early next year.

Now, everybody sing:
Let's hear those sleigh bells jinglin', ring-ting-tinglin', too.
Come on it's lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you...

Posted 08:24 PM | life generally

Survivor 5, 6, and 7

When "Survivor" first started several years ago, it spawned a wave of copy-cat "reality" television shows. The name is unfortunate—there's very little "reality" in the contrived situations "Survivor" casts have been in during the show's five seasons. Sure, they really do go hungry and have to sleep on the ground, but there is always a camera crew there with radio contact to helicopters and hospitals and whatever. That's not to say none of the so-called "survivors" has never been in any real physical danger; wasn't it the second season where Michael was choppered out after falling into the fire? So bad stuff can happen, but it's still only "real" in a very contrived sense.

So who cares about that "reality" moniker, is what I say. I find the show fascinating. "Survivor" and "The Amazing Race" are great, but you can keep your "Bachelor" and "Temptation Island" and "Big Brother" and "Osbornes." The appeal of those shows kind of bothers me. Why is it so great to see people humiliated and embarrassed and cheated on and lied to? Oh wait, that's also what happens on "Survivor," isn't it?

Anyway, "Survivor 5—Thailand" ended last night and the official story says:

After 39 days on a physical and mental roller coaster, Brian Heidik, the 34-year-old used car salesman from Quartz Hill, California, won a majority of the Jury's votes, earning him the title of SOLE SURVIVOR and giving him the million-dollar prize.

One of the things that gets me about the show (and another way in which it is anything but "real") is the power the editors have over viewers' opinions of the action and the "players." I want to say that Brian was the satanic incarnation of the sleaziest used car salesman stereotype you've ever heard. But what do I know?He's also apparently an actor. So aside from internet gossip, we only know what the producers/editors decided to show, and it's obvious they do whatever they can to magnify character flaws and tensions between people. But the point is, what does it take to win? And the answer is: That depends. According to Jeff Probst, "King of the Hyenas" ('s name for Probst during the 2nd season), if you want to be a survivor, you should:

Study John Nash's "non-cooperative game playing theory." All the answers to Survivor are there.

If you want to be a Survivor, here's the casting call. According the application, Survivor 7 will be filmed in June/July 2003, and the application process goes from the Feb 11 application deadline to final selection in April. You know me; I'm crazy about application processes, and heck, by now I should be a pro at them. Don't you think a few weeks as a Survivor contestant would be a good way to blow off steam before starting law school?

The application requires a 3-minute video. Does anyone have a digital video camera I could borrow for the next couple of weeks? ;-)

Footnote: A history of "Survivor" winners:

  1. Survivor 1—Pulau Tiga: Richard Hatch, the 39-year old corporate trainer from Newport, Rhode Island.

  2. Survivor2—Austrailian Outback: Tina Wesson, mother and personal nurse from Knoxville, Tennessee.

  3. Survivor 3—Africa: Ethan Zohn, the 27-year-old professional soccer player from Lexington, MA.

  4. Survivor 4—Marquesas: Vecepia Towery, the 36-year-old office manager from Portland, Oregon.

Posted 01:05 PM | life generally

Writing Personal Statements

For the last three years I've taught introductory literature and business/technical writing classes at a state university. Now that I'm applying to law school, I'm in the dubious position of writing my own personal statement, while at the same time being asked by my students to give advice on how to write personal statements. If you read my statement, you may think I'm not well qualified to give advice on these things, and since I haven't yet been admitted anywhere, I'd have to agree with you. That's why I point my students to other authorities on the subject. For example, here's a succinct guide from a book called Graduate Admissions Essays -- What Works, What Doesn't, and Why by Donald Asher:

Although you should never be slave to a formula, there is a set of key ingredients that many successful essays share. They have great opening lines or paragraphs. They convey at least a glimpse of the applicant's personality, substantiate specific academic preparation and knowledge of subject matter, and demonstrate an understanding of the challenges as well as the rewards of the chosen career. They often give a sense of the candidate's maturity, compassion, stamina, teamwork skills, leadership potential, and general likability, usually without addressing these issues directly. Then they go on to show how the applicant plans to use the graduate education in her planned career, and establish that the student has an understanding of her place in the 'big picture.'

The essay is an opportunity to tie all the disparate pieces of your application together into a comprehensive, coherent whole. Some admissions directors told me that they are not always looking for new information in the essay; rather, they are interested in having the essay 'make sense' of the rest of the application. ... All the best essays will be both honest and forthcoming" (43).

I think that's pretty good advice, but again, I recommend looking at some of the books out there to see the kinds of things they recommend. When I'm in need of advice like this, I always make a trip to the bookstore and spend some quality time with the books they have there. I often find I don't need to buy a book, but looking at the samples and different strategies always gives me ideas to get the job done.

Posted 12:10 PM | law school

The Eli Lilly Bandit

So who is the "Eli Lilly Bandit"? If you know, go collect your reward.

Posted 12:06 PM | general politics

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