ambivalent imbroglio home

« February 2003 | Main | April 2003 »

March 31, 2003

Rankings Rumblings

Mail today brings this from Mark F. Grady, Dean and Professor of Law at George Mason University:

I write with good news --

For the third year in a row, George Mason is ranked in the top tier in the U.S. News and World Report rankings of law schools. [emphasis his] We continue to be the youngest and fastest rising law school in the nation, now ranked by U.S News [sic] as 40th among law schools in the United States.

And while that's all fine and dandy, I'd just like to know how Dean Grady knows his school's U.S. News rank before anyone else does. I guess some controversy has been raging at the PR boards about whether the rankings have already been released or not, but Mason would have had to have the rankings sometime last week for me to be receiving this letter today. Do schools get the rankings in advance of publication? (For some reason I haven't been able to access the PR boards all day.)

I won't be going to Mason. The more I hear about this school the more I wonder what made me think it was a possible choice in the first place. The initial lure may have been the low tuition. When I was there last week one of the student's boasted that he'd be getting a J.D. from Mason for the cost of just one year at Georgetown. The cheap degree is definitely a persuasive argument, but at what cost to your worldview, I wonder.

Does it bother anyone else that a school renowned for its conservatism is also the "youngest and fastest rising law school in the nation"?

UPDATE: GM has this to say about its early knowledge of rankings. Hmmmmmm...

Posted 08:03 PM | Comments (3) | law school

Dog Is My Co-Pilot*

We have travelled, and we have returned. I have not yet made a decision, but you, kind readers, have given me a lot of great advice to add to the mix. I guess the trick to getting a good conversation going here at ai is simply to throw out a plea and leave for a week and let all of you do your stuff. Thanks for all the comments and suggestions and links. I'm still trying to absorb it all and to integrate it with what I learned during my visits. I had hoped that one school would stand out among the others to make my choice simple, and I guess that happened. However, the choice is still not simple, primarily because (a) I still don't know financial aid numbers from all schools (GW offered $11k for the first year, which is a great start), and (b) the school that seemed to stand out the most—American—is also the lowest-ranked school, which throws everything right back on that tricky little question: How important is rank, anyway? Everyone seems to agree it's important, but just how important seems to depend utterly on where you're talking about and what you want to do with your degree.

Then there are the the many other variables: money (how much it costs and how much they offer in grants), location, clinical programs, funding for public interest work in the summer, quality of LRAP, (and just how would I evaluate that, anyway?), curriculum/faculty, gut feeling, and on and on. (And of course there's my secret litmus test for a good school: How many students bring their iBooks and Powerbooks to class? The more macs, the better the school, obviously!) And as I flip through this rolodex of variables in my head, I wonder at a meta-level: How important is this decision, anyway? Am I making too much of this? Should I just choose a damn school and get on with things? Liable's advice seems to answer this question; she says:

How about this -- if you're willing to work diligently at any school you go to, pick the one you want to attend. They're all winners.

Very true. So... Eeenie, meenie, miney...

Of course, it doesn't have to be that random. Ditzy Genius has developed a great little spreadsheet with dozens of criteria by which to judge different schools you might be considering. She kindly sent me a copy (along w/some great tips) and I'm currently adapting her criteria to suit my own search and will report on the results of this little face-off as soon as I crunch the numbers (or something like that).

(DG does not seem to have permalinks, but check the entry for 3/28 for more on this. Any other random post will also tell you that DG can write. For example, check yesterday's encounter w/a NJ State Trooper to learn a new trick for ticket-free highway speeding—honesty!?! Witty, honest, entertaining, and full of good tips and information—what more could you want in a blog?)

* Post title comes from a bumper sticker seen while traveling through Connecticut.

Posted 06:48 AM | Comments (5) | law school

March 22, 2003

Spring Break: What School?

Escape Is Us. Spring break has come to this midwestern campus and it finds me still trying to make a decision about which school to attend. Still in the running are:

  1. George Washington
  2. American
  3. George Mason
  4. Boston College

I'll be visiting all four schools in the next week, and I'm sure those visits will help me decide. Unfortunately, the most decisive factor in this decision is still the biggest unknown: What kind of financial aid package can I expect from each school? So far, no school has offered a dime, which is, well, not a good thing. I've filled out and submitted the FAFSA and the Need Access forms, but still nada. I've called all the schools and all promise some word on financial aid "within the next few weeks." The deposit deadline for all schools is April 15.

Reading Law School Confidential only makes this whole decision thing seem that much harder because it makes it seem like your choice of where to attend law school is also a choice for where you want to live for the next decade or more. According to Miller, et al., where you go to school determines where you can find a job:

Don't think of going to Kent if you can't see yourself settling down in the Midwest, or to American if you have no interest in living and working in D.C. (64)

Liable had a great post discussion about related issues last week, but her comments have been lost because of technical difficulties. (Move to MT! It's got comments built in!) And of course, I've heard all this gloom and doom about picking too much of a "regional" school before, so it raises again the question: How important is it to pick a school based on rankings? All the DC schools are well-ranked and all of them have strong public interest programs, but none is as well-ranked as BC (which also appears to be a very strong PI school). And where would I prefer to live and work? I don't know!

Heeeeelllllllp!!!! Where would you go and why?

Posted 07:45 AM | Comments (12) | law school

March 19, 2003

Mourning War Thoughts

As the world waits with apparent resignation for the U.S. to begin killing Iraqis and pulverizing Iraq (and losing who knows how many of our own troops), some of us continue to ask: Why this war? Why now? Yesterday's "Oprah" asked, Why do so many hate the U.S.? I was impressed with the show, despite the fact that Oprah was so clearly enamored with Thomas Friedman's "we're going to war so we better do it right" position. As far as pro-war stances go, Friedman's is not bad. He suggests that one of the U.S.'s current problems is that we've stopped asking people to share our positive and optimistic vision of the future, and instead we're lining up targets to destroy. Friedman argues that we have to change course and extend a helping hand to the world instead of dropping bombs and brandishing guns. Of course, he still supports attacking Iraq, which makes his position seem a bit inconsistent, but perhaps that's what you get from a 35-40 minute television program. [1]

Yesterday also brought an email from one of my students containing a link to It's Not About Oil or Iraq -- an article that argues that the Bush/Blair war frenzy is an attempt to prevent the Euro from displacing the dollar as the world's default oil trading currency. If you haven't heard about this angle, I highly recommend the article. Not only does it explain why Bush has so obsessively pursued a completely indefensible war, but it also provides another reason the U.S. will benefit from demonizing France (and why France and other European nations find it easy and useful to oppose this war). Are we really going to kill thousands of Iraqis to save U.S. hegemony? What's certain is that we are definitely going to kill many Iraqis, at least some number of American troops, and injure and anger countless people around the world. Whether we're doing this for oil, dollar supremacy, or some other completely insane reason is impossible to say.

I don't have any radically new arguments to offer against the war (it's hard to say anything new about a war that looks so disturbingly like a replay of history), so I find myself in a state of near-paralysis as the hours count down to "the deadline." Everything I should be doing seems obscene in the face of the fact that the military I support with my tax dollars is about to kill hundreds or thousands of people, supposedly for my sake. How can I teach classes, investigate law schools (I'm still trying to decide where to go), or grade papers when tomorrow thousands of innocent people could be dead? Yesterday Ari Fliescher said, "the President hopes that people will continue with their normal lives." Of course he does. We're not supposed to think about what's really going on, we're supposed to go about our "business," proud of the fact that we live in such a "strong" country. We're supposed to "support our troops," which seems to be code for "cease all criticism of anything other than the evildoers and what they've done." It's easier for our troops to kill people when Americans are acting like it's just another day in the best of all possible worlds.

In Monday's "address to the nation," President Bush said:

The Iraqi regime has used diplomacy as a ploy to gain time and advantage. It has uniformly defied Security Council resolutions demanding full disarmament. Over the years, U.N. weapon inspectors have been threatened by Iraqi officials, electronically bugged, and systematically deceived. Peaceful efforts to disarm the Iraqi regime have failed again and again -- because we are not dealing with peaceful men.

This from the man who has said "You can't talk your way to a solution to a problem." Think about that when you think about the failure of diplomacy. You might also consider how the U.S. uses the same tactics it accuses Saddam of using -- it was the U.S., not Saddam who was recently spying on U.N. delegates to better manipulate their votes. (Other info here and here, all topped by the original memo.) This was front-page news in Europe and Russia, but we hardly heard a peep about it here in the U.S. Gee, I wonder why the Security Council seemed so opposed to American proposals. It couldn't be because we were spying on them, could it?

The point is: This war was never inevitable until Bush made it inevitable. None of the reasons I've heard for going to war have been even slightly convincing, and I'm sick with the thought of U.S. citizens shopping in malls and going to movies and watching war porn while people die in our names. Why can't people remember that, despite all Bush Administration claims to the contrary, Iraq had nothing to do with September 11?

Excuse me please. I must go sleepwalking now -- er, I mean, "continue my normal life..."

[1] "Oprah" features more commercials than any other show I think I've ever watched.
I thought it was rather ironic to see Oxi-Clean and Wal-Mart ads interrupt a program that was arguing that the people of the U.S. are in denial about the horrors the U.S. government has perpetrated in the world over the last 50 years. The Wal-Mart ad was particularly offensive; it focused on the public service work Wal-Mart employees do -- teaching kids to read, coaching little league, etc. -- and that work is great, but of course the ad doesn't mention that most Wal-Mart employees must hold 2-3 jobs to pay the rent and their medical bills because most of them don't get benefits. The ad also doesn't mention the thousands of small businesses that Wal-Mart has destroyed over the past 20 years in communities across the U.S., or that those small businesses probably did ten times more public service work than overworked and underpaid Wal-Mart employees could ever hope to do. Isn't it ironic? Don'tchathink?

Posted 07:32 AM | general politics

March 11, 2003

Stupid Stupid Stupid!

Today, deep into Week 2 of our very own personal version of "Changing Rooms," my parents and I are covered in paint and layers of dust from various sources (wood, sheetrock, fiberglass insulation, and countless years of attic residue). Good times. And while we're hard at work putting things back together, the world continues to fall apart (more or less). How can our elected representatives be so absolutely stupid?

*Sigh* I'm going back to the dust, thanks.

Posted 05:26 PM | Comments (2) | life generally

March 03, 2003

Welcome Parentals

Posts at ai will likely be less abundant than usual in the coming weeks because during that time I will be entertaining my kind, generous, and ever-patient parents with a multitude of home-improvement projects. Time is flying by and the first day of law school will be here before I know it. But before that can happen, along with applying for financial aid and finally deciding exactly where to go, I also have to get my house ready to sell (if you want to buy a tiny cottage in the middle of a sea of corn, let me know), and that means repairing walls and ceilings and painting everything, installing new carpet and tile, finishing that rewiring project I started, oh, two years ago, and on and on. It promises to be tons of fun, actually. I'll let you know how it goes...

Posted 06:54 AM | Comments (2) | meta-blogging

Safari, Pith, Kung-Log

Good morning, Mac users! Oh, and hi to everyone else, too, but for Mac users who are enjoying Apple's new browser, Safari, I recommend you also try Pith, which will help you keep track of open windows. The newest, yet still apparently unofficial, Safari beta (v62 -- look in the comments to this post for download links that may or may not still work) includes Mozilla/Netscape/Chimera style tabs, but you may still find Pith a helpful addition to your browsing experience.

If you use a Mac to post to a Movable Type blog, Kung-Log is a little application that is likely to make your life a little easier. Like w.bloggar and blogBuddy for Windows, Kung-Log allows you to post to your weblog without opening a browser and going through the "add new entry" page. It can also retrieve recent entries for you to edit, it can save drafts that you're not ready to post, it and -- best of all -- it offers a customizable HTML menu to allow you to insert any little bit of code you want with just a click. This menu is so smart that if you have a URL copied on the clipboard and select "url" from the HTML menu, the URL you've copied will automatically be pasted into an href tag with the cursor waiting at the appropriate place for you to fill in the link text. I'm telling you, this is is slickness. (For more related options, some of which work w/Blogger, see MT Resources.)

I'll stop geeking Mac now, thanks.

Posted 06:20 AM | meta-blogging

March 01, 2003

American U. Slowness

Waiting waiting wating to hear from American University: Washinton College of Law -- the only school I haven't heard from yet, and one I supposedly should have no trouble getting into. Thanks to the directions Liable provided, I learned that LSAC estimates my chances of admission at 95-98 percent. Add to that the fact that I applied nearly two months ago, and I gotta wonder: Why have I heard nothing? Today I see American's website says:

So far we have received more than 8,100 applications. Our committee is currently reviewing applications that were received by mid- December. Although we review files in the order in which they were received and completed, not everyone who applied early will have received a decision yet. Our committee is holding some files for further comparison with more of the applicant pool. If your file is one that we have decided to hold for further review you will receive a letter from our office within the next 2 weeks notifying you of this update.

To clarify, their FAQ says:

Decisions are made on a weekly basis January- May. Files are reviewed in the order applications were received and completed. Not all applicants who applied early in the process will receive the first decisions. If your academic record places you towards the middle of our applicant pool, our admissions committee may hold your file to compare it with more of our applicants.

I interpret this information to mean that my academic record must place me "towards the middle of [their] applicant pool," which I'm thinking is not a good place to be in a year like this. It's looking more and more like GW will be the place. And that's a good thing. I'm ready to make the decision and move on, but I'd really like to hear more about financial aid options first. To those of you who have chosen a school and accepted an offer of admission, congratulations. I envy you, but I hope to join you soon!

Posted 02:55 PM | Comments (2) | law school

Ideas of Safety

From High and Mighty by Keith Bradsher comes this insight into a key difference between the U.S. and Europe and Asia:

Nissan has found that drivers in Europe and Asia typically have very different attitudes toward vehicle safety from American drivers. Europeans and Asians tend to associate safety with a nimble vehicle with excellent brakes that can swerve or stop quickly so as to avoid an accident entirely, said Jerry P. Hirshberg, Nissan's recently retired president of North American design. Americans tend to have less confidence in their driving skills and assume that crashes are inevitable, so they have gravitated instead to tanklike vehicles that will protect occupants even if they plow into another vehicle. Buyers of sport utilities seem to be especially American in this regard, Hirshberg added (107).

Of course, Nissan's findings are well supported by the different cars driven by Americans vs. Euros and Asians. In the U.S., we drive tanks; in most of the rest of the world they drive safe, little anti-tanks. Now apply this difference to foreign policy and we get:

[People] in Europe and Asia typically have very different attitudes toward [national and global] safety from American people. Europeans and Asians tend to associate safety with a nimble [foreign policy] with excellent brakes that can swerve or stop quickly so as to avoid an accident entirely. Americans tend to have less confidence in their [diplomatic] skills and assume that crashes are inevitable, so they have gravitated instead to tanklike [policies] that will protect [them] even if [the country] plows into another [country]. The Bush Administration seems to be especially American in this regard.

Hence, the problem we face today: The U.S. just wants to plow through (using bombs as its plow) any obstacle to its vision of the world, while the rest of the world is saying, "Hey, why don't we avoid this problem instead of just trying to minimize the number of deaths on our side?" It's the difference between a world governed by force and violence (the SUV/American imperialist camp), vs. a world governed by preventive diplomacy and cooperation (the anti-tank/international and multilateral camp).

This is why Bradsher's book is so great -- the problems he identifies with SUVs are really metaphors for a vast number of the other problems we face today. The same selfish, anti-social, and wasteful people who buy SUVs also support selfish, anti-social, and wasteful policies with regard to foreign policy, education, health care, and all other social services. We don't live in a nicely divided world where our choice of transportation has zero to do with out position on home schooling, but that's the fantasy we really wish were true. (I don't have time at the moment to explain how/why SUV owners relate to home schooling, but if you don't see the connection, let me know and I'll give the explanation a try.)

Posted 10:25 AM | Comments (6) | ai books

Lone Star Smarts

Texas Tech Student Announces 'United White Persons College Fund'

Why am I not surprised this is coming from Texas?

Posted 09:46 AM | Comments (2) | general politics

about   ∞     ∞   archives   ∞   links   ∞   rss
This template highly modified from The Style Monkey.