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A question

[ 339 ] September 4, 2013 |

This is not a rhetorical question, nor is it intended to be snarky or otherwise disingenuous.

Why is killing a lot of people with chemical weapons considered so much worse, in terms of international law and geopolitical rhetoric (if not action, c.f. Kevin Drum’s excellent points here), than blowing the same number of people up with high explosive munitions, or machine-gunning them, or hacking them to death with machetes?

Deja vu all over again

[ 50 ] September 3, 2013 |

Perhaps the Jew Kaufman will provide LGM readers with a semiotics of the visual rhetoric of this ongoing series:

tw

weis

kelly

Young Republicans Salute Labor

[ 75 ] September 3, 2013 |

I haven’t been able to confirm whether or not this is authentic, but I suppose the fact that it very well could be is in some ways more significant.

Update: A commenter provides a link to a copy in a Cornell University library collection of political Americana.

ERIK–In my view, what is significant about this image is that labor was strong enough in 1956 that Republicans had to lie and say they respected it. They didn’t believe any of this in 1956 and they don’t now. But that they had to say to compete nationally, that is amazing from today’s perspective.

David Frost RIP

[ 19 ] September 1, 2013 |

Story

President seeks Congressional authorization for military action

[ 238 ] August 31, 2013 |

John Yoo protests unconstitutional delegation of presidential power.

That joke’s not funny any more

[ 59 ] August 29, 2013 |

Reminder: When The Onion first billed itself as America’s Finest News Source, that statement was not literally true.

And that’s the way it is.

Obama uses BULLY PULPIT, tells law schools to start keeping it real

[ 52 ] August 23, 2013 |

POTUS points out that the third year of law school is about as superfluous as Orly Taitz’s dental degree:

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — President Barack Obama told a town hall crowd in Binghamton, New York, Friday that the way law is taught in America should change fundamentally.

As part of his bus tour focused on tough talk for school administrators and pushing the education establishment to help make schooling affordable, the president said it’s time for law schools to drop a year of classroom instruction.

“This is probably controversial to say, but, what the heck, I’m in my second term, so I can say it,” Obama said. “Law schools would probably be wise to think about being two years instead of three years.”

Obama said the third year of law school could be replaced with a paid job like an apprenticeship, which would create a dramatic reduction in costs for students.

“The third year, they’d be better off clerking or practicing in a firm even if they weren’t getting paid that much, but that step alone would reduce the costs for the student,” he said.

More on the leisure of the theory class

[ 56 ] August 23, 2013 |

Paging Russell Jacoby, historian of contemporary American academia:

Ivy Tech locations throughout the state began the process of cutting back on part-time professors’ hours in response to the federal health care law.

Students who returned to class this week at Ivy Tech Community College-Northeast aren’t likely to notice much of a change, but things will begin to shift soon, officials said.

The cuts apply to all Ivy Tech regions in the state and are in response to a federal law that will require employers to provide health insurance to part-time employees if they work 30 or more hours a week.

Tom Snyder, president of Ivy Tech Community College, said in a statement that the college has already taken steps to reduce most of the faculty’s credit hours.

Most part-time employees’ hours have been reduced to nine credit hours – a number that Snyder believes will be low enough to meet the federal requirement.

The federal health law requirement goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2015.

At Ivy Tech Community College-Northeast, between 65 percent and 70 percent of credit hours are taught by adjuncts, or part-time lecturers, according to last year’s data.

Most part-time faculty can make about $1,500 to $4,000 teaching a course and don’t usually have health insurance, according to officials.

But soon, steps will have to be taken to ensure that those part-time lecturers aren’t exceeding nine credit hours of teaching a week, said Andrew Welch, executive director of marketing and communications.

Per this insititution’s calculations, teaching 18 credit hours while being paid $9,000 to 24,000 (with no benefits) counts as part-time employment.

On the other hand full professors at Columbia make bank, while teaching two classes per year and conferencing in Tuscany. So as Zombie David Broder reminds us, the truth lies somewhere in the middle . . .

Failure is not an option

[ 42 ] August 22, 2013 |

When I first started teaching at CU’s law school 23 years ago, the faculty would get petitions once or twice a year from students who had failed to stay academically eligible (students have a right under the school’s rules to petition for readmission). A few weeks ago it suddenly occurred to me that I hadn’t seen such a petition in a very long time, so I checked and discovered that we haven’t flunked anybody out in nine years.

This set me off on a little research project, regarding the changing culture of law school and (failing) grades.

There’s a proverbial story about a law school dean telling the entering class, “look to your left and look to your right — next year one of you will not be here.” And in fact it turns out that this story reflected reality not that long ago. In 1966 11,507 people — almost all men — graduated from ABA law schools. Three years earlier 20,776 students had enrolled at those schools, meaning that in the mid-1960s 55.4% of initial law school matriculants eventually graduated (This number is not literally exact, since the 1966 figure includes some graduates of part-time four-year programs who enrolled in 1962, and doesn’t include 1963 matriculants from such programs who graduated the following year, but since these two numbers are almost identical the 55.4% figure is accurate).

So 50 years ago, nearly half the people who entered law school did not graduate. (I don’t have figures on how many of the people who didn’t graduate quit on their own, as opposed to being kicked out.)

Yet just ten years later (1976), the ratio of graduates to matriculants had shot up drastically, to 80.9%. A decade after that it was up to nearly 90%, where it has more or less stayed ever since (It was 88.5% for the class of 2013).

Since some people decide to quit on their own, it’s clear that law schools now end up flunking out, on average, less than one in ten of the people they admit. But “on average” is a deceptive term in this context, as schools have drastically different rates of academic disqualification. Generally speaking, both elite and second-level law schools have almost eliminated the practice of flunking people out. Here are the figures for the so-called T-14 schools, and rest of the top 50 ranked law schools, for the 2011-12 academic year:

T-14

Stanford 1 (1 1L)
Virginia 4 (1 1L)
Michigan 1 (0 1Ls)
Berkeley 2 (1 1L)
Chicago 1 (1 1L)
Northwestern 1 (1 1L)
GULC 1 (0 1Ls)
Harvard: 0
Yale: 0
Columbia: 0
NYU: 0
Penn: 0
Duke: 0
Cornell: 0

The rest of the top 50:

Texas: 0
Vanderbilt: 0
UCLA: 0
USC: 2 (2 2Ls)
Minnesota: 0
GW: 4 (0 1Ls)
WUSTL: 1 (1 1L)
BC: 0
BU: 1 (0 1L)
Fordham: 2 (1 1L)
Alabama: 7, including 6 1Ls (3.5% of the class)
Wisconsin: 1 (0 1L)
Indiana: 0
OSU: 1 (1 1L)
North Carolina: 0
William and Mary: 0
Washington and Lee: 0
George Mason: 3 (1 1L)
Wake Forest: 0
Notre Dame: 0
Illinois: 1 (0 1Ls)
Emory: 0
Georgia: 0
Washington: 0
Arizona: 0
ASU: 1 (1 1L)
BYU: 0
Maryland: 1 (1 1L)
Colorado 0
Florida: 1 (0 0Ls)
UC Davis: 0
UC Hastings: 2 (0 1Ls)
Iowa: 0
FSU: 7 (3 1Ls)
SMU: 2 (0 1Ls)
Tulane: 2 (0 1Ls)

Summary: The top 50 law schools academically disqualified an average of exactly one student each in the most recent year for which data are available. These schools had a collective enrollment of around 40,000 students, so for the average student the odds of flunking out were slightly better — or worse, depending on how you think about it — than 1000 to 1.

Interestingly less than half (22) of the students who flunked out were first years (Nationally, nearly three quarters of law school attrition takes places after the first year), with just two schools, Alabama and Florida State, accounting for 40% of the total. 72% of top 50 schools did not flunk out a single first year student.

At the other end of the scale, a number of low-ranked law schools failed out relatively large percentages of their first-year classes:

Whittier: 19%
Western State: 18%
Thomas Jefferson: 15%
San Francisco: 13%
Golden Gate: 13%
Florida Coastal: 12%

However, some law schools with de facto open admission policies flunked out much smaller percentages of their 1Ls:

Thomas Cooley: 5%
Phoenix: 4%
New England: 4%

I’ll have more to say about the interpretation of these numbers in another post.

Winner of the 2013 Media Personae Award for best Camille Paglia parody

[ 124 ] August 21, 2013 |

If you were to provide an artistic critique or analysis of contemporary pornography, what would it be?

Well, on the one hand, I am of course delighted that the fanatical puritan feminists of the anti-pornography crusade of the 1980s have been forced to eat dirt! Their arrogant success in pushing Playboy and Penthouse out of the convenience stores (a campaign where they allied with conservative Christian groups) evaporated when the Web went big in the ‘90s. The feminist politburo toppled like a house of cards, thanks to the explosion of freedoms triggered by the Web. Pornography is now beyond anyone’s control. It’s a classic example of ever-controversial unregulated capitalism — the market automatically responding to individual needs and desires.

I continue to support and defend pornography, which I believe exposes the deepest, darkest truths about sexuality. As an industry, pornography also helps to rebalance the modern psyche: middle-class workers are trapped with their tyrannical machines at home and office. Pornography, with its surging animal energies and guiltless display of the body, brings the flame of organic nature into that mineral wasteland.

Having said that, I must confess that I find very little of interest in too-formulaic contemporary pornography — except for the always hot gay-male scenarios that one stumbles on in surfing the Web.

The problem is that explicit sex has become so diffused through the general culture that it’s lost its charge, which once came from the sizzle of transgression. I’m nostalgic for that primal shock quality, which was still there in spades when a juicily plump Madonna was doing her pioneering videos in the ‘80s like “Burnin’ Up,” “Open Your Heart” and “Like a Virgin.” No one could writhe better than Madonna on the prow of a gondola!

The reference to a “juicily plump [!] Madonna . . . on the prow of a gondola” is just a bit too obvious and over the top, but otherwise an outstanding effort from this year’s winner.

madonna

OK, he gambled on games he was managing then lied about it for 15 years until he wanted to cash in on a book deal but at least he didn’t TAKE DRUGS

[ 106 ] August 19, 2013 |

Good grief.

Also, the idea that Rose didn’t have anything to do with “drugs” is fairly implausible.

WSJ editorial page publishes op-ed based on fake stats

[ 85 ] August 19, 2013 |

renault

Silicon Valley mogul opines:

According to the latest 2012 IRS income-tax data, the top 1% of American taxpayers earned 20% of all income and paid 36% of all taxes. The top 5% earned 36% of all income and paid 58% of all taxes. Will even higher taxes help the economy? My experience in Silicon Valley tells me that high and so-called progressive taxes are a major cause of the country’s current economic problems, not the solution.

In fact the quoted numbers are the percentages of personal federal income tax paid by the referenced groups, not “all taxes.” This is a critical distinction, because the vast majority of taxes paid by most Americans are not in the form of personal federal income taxes. When one looks at all taxes, the share paid by the richest 1% falls by nearly half, from 36.7% to 21.6%. Since the top 1% “earned” (very loosely speaking) 21% of all income, this means the U.S. basically doesn’t have a progressive tax system.