Lou Reed died today.
He had a liver transplant in May.
Brian Eno remarked that, while only 30,000 people bought a copy of the Velvet Underground’s first album, all of them started a band.
In that spirit, I was wondering if you LGMer feminist and feminist allies wanted to share stories about your fathers. I’d love to read them.
My father is one of my favorite people on the planet. He’s always been one of the most loving, nurturing, supportive people I know. He’s open and fun and funny and sentimental and compassionate. He’s creative and silly. He has a wonderful dark sense of humor, so mostly did not blanche when I showed him the Cafe Press t-shirt I made (years ago) about thalidomide babies. He’s a great conversationalist. He’s a bit of an attention whore. He’s the handiest person I know and I regret deeply not appreciating that when I was young. If I had had a lick of sense, I would have asked him to teach me everything he knows about handy-stuff. It’s not just that I love my father; I respect him profoundly. And that’s something someone like Mark Judge could never understand, because I can’t imagine him doing anything to earn the respect of, well, anyone.
Tell us about your father!
“Umpires should refuse to apply clear rule to bail out awful play by catcher who shouldn’t have been in game.”
I think we’ve been through this before, but few things drive me crazier than arguments that officials shouldn’t make calls in key situations because this would have been “deciding the game.” If Joyce refused to call obstruction because the run is too important or something, then he would be “deciding the game.” In fact, the game was decided by a catcher who threw to third with a 0% chance of getting the runner, a third baseman who couldn’t make a play on the ball and then obstructed the baserunner, and a manager who screwed up the game 100 ways from Sunday. I’m cheering for the Red Sox here, but these arguments are silly.
“Boy, I love it when Fox interferes with World Series games to air inane in-dugout interviews!”
Note: this would remain true if “love it” is replaced with “find it remotely tolerable.”
…on the final play: 1)Seemed like a good call. 2)Whether it was or not, incredibly stupid play by Salty. He’s safe even if it’s a good throw.
But at least Farrell still has Napoli for the 10th inning…
Baylor put up 505 yards of total offense against Kansas tonight.
In the first half.
. . . I just looked up Weis’s contract, and he’s guaranteed $2.5 million per year for five seasons, 2012 through 2016. In other words there’s no buyout provision! (KU is still paying Turner Gill six million in guaranteed money after firing him after just two seasons.) Given Weis’s previous track record, this has got to be the worst college football contract ever.
Also, in keeping with the fundamental principle of contemporary American life that rich people should not be forced to spend their own money to buy things, we have this:
Weis also receives the use of two vehicles, a term life insurance policy in the amount of $2 million, travel expenses for his wife and two children to attend road football games, nearly all revenue from summer camps and clinics, 50 tickets to home football games and six tickets to men’s and women’s basketball games, the use of a suite at Memorial Stadium, and a membership at Lawrence Country Club that includes all business-related expenses.
Abu Muqawama closes up shop. Six and a half years is forever in blog time.
On a separate issue, last night’s Airpower Movie of the Week simul-tweet was a rousing success, at least by the modest metrics I established for the event (stayed awake, made it to the end of the movie). Any ideas for next week?
The august senator from Alabama declares war on the NEH funding the H in its name. And with his own name, you can see why he’d be opposed to the government giving money for studying the past.
Here’s some of what Sperling had to say. He led off with the importance of entitlement cuts. (All emphasis is mine):
“Sometimes here [in Washington] we start to think that the end goal of our public policy is to hit a particular budget or spending or revenue metric—as if those are the goals in and of itself. But it’s important to remember that each of these metrics … are means to larger goals. … Right now, I think there is among a lot of people a consensus as to what the ingredients of a pro-growth fiscal policy are. It would be a fiscal policy that—yes—did give more confidence in the long run that we have a path on entitlement spending and revenues that gives confidence in our long-term fiscal position and that we’re not pushing off unbearable burdens to the next generation. That is very important.”
That’s a vague, guarded, jargon-y Washington way of saying, “We’re going to have to accept entitlement cuts—get used to it.” Then came the justification, which was the weakness of the economic recovery:
“You have to think about this as part of an overall pro-growth, pro-jobs strategy. Also, there’s no question that right now we still need to give this recovery more momentum. We cannot possibly be satisfied with the levels of projected growth when we are still coming back from the worst recession since the Great Depression.”
Over at The Legal Whiteboard, Jerry Organ has been analyzing the LSAT scores of recent law school entering classes, and he’s come to the conclusion that the national entering class of 2013 has 50% more matriculants with LSAT scores of less than 150 than the class that graduated this year. (The percentage of such matriculants grew from 14% to 21% between 2010 and 2013. Meanwhile the percentage of matriculants with LSAT scores of more than 165 fell by 15%). He also estimates that the number of law schools whose entering class has a median LSAT of less than 150 has gone from nine to nearly 30 over the past three years. (That is, from 4.5% to around 15% of all ABA schools).
Does it matter that law students are on average getting less intelligent? (You can add as many caveats as you want about how standardized tests in general and the LSAT in particular are very far from perfect proxies for even analytical intelligence, let alone other sorts of intelligence, how there’s a lot more to being a lawyer than analytical intelligence, how measurements of native intelligence are severely distorted by SES and other factors etc. All very true. None of this alters the fact that, on average, people with high LSAT scores are smarter than people with low LSAT scores).
I’d like to address this question in the context of a question asked by commenter mch in the thread regarding the situation at New England Law School:
I think of New England the way I think of Brooklyn, a place for less-than-brilliant (with exceptions) students, most of whom just want to get their training in order to do good while make a living. I am slightly acquainted with a trustee of New England (a graduate of a grandee law school and a grandee partner at a grandee Boston firm) who shares my vision of selected “lesser” law schools. I dunno. I guess I’m trying to articulate a misgiving I sometimes feel in reading your many excellent posts, Paul, a misgiving rooted in my experience with lawyers and law professors at a variety of schools. With people who value the role of certain “lesser” law schools in both giving certain potential lawyers an opportunity and providing the world with both perfectly serviceable, and needed, estate lawyers and criminal defense attorneys for the poor…. How many Harvard vs. NEL law students do criminal defense or prosecuting, for instance?
I don’t think criminal law practice in general, either on the state or the defense side, is a good proxy for less intellectually challenging legal work, but that’s a quibble not relevant to the real issue, which is: what about types of legal practice that are in fact highly routinized, and that people with LSAT scores of less than 150 can perform perfectly adequately (yes yes there are some brilliant people who are terrible at taking standardized tests, I already acknowledged this so shut up already)? Shouldn’t there be law schools that cater to people who want to do that kind of work, as opposed to figuring out how to structure a new form of poison pill or to get the 10th circuit to reverse itself on some picayune procedural issue?
The problem here is twofold:
(1) The market is already far more than saturated with lawyers who are able, willing, and licensed to do such work.
(2) The market is slowly figuring out, in its clumsy and imperfect way, that you don’t really need to use a lawyer to get such work done adequately. Hence DIY lawyering, outsourcing, e-discovery etc etc.
So no, as a matter of rational social policy, we no longer need law schools that cater to people who can’t manage to score 150 on the LSAT (Which by the way is an extremely learnable test that measures basic reading comprehension skills more than anything else. 87.43% of LGM commenters could hit 150 on the LSAT without even studying for it).
This is sort of an addendumb to my post about Tea Partiers.
This segment is worth watching for Aasif Mandvi’s 3- second hilarious interaction with the camera alone, but please do watch the whole thing.
I had this on in the background while my inlaws were here and my father-in-law– hardly a politically-savvy man– quips “That man looks like a caricature of himself.”* ROFL. Indeed.
*Then proceeded to do a hilarious imitation of him…AWESOME.
On October 26, 1825, the Erie Canal opened, eight years after construction commenced. This engineering marvel would have enormous impacts on the future of American work, including spurring ever-greater industrialization, helping cement the Great Lakes states as a center of American industrialization, and ensuring New York would be the long-term center of American commerce. It also came at a cost of over 1000 dead workers.
The engineers who designed the Erie Canal thought of their project as a uniquely American achievement, a sign of the glorious republicanism of the new nation flexing its increasingly powerful muscles. As economic and technical elites would do throughout American history, these engineers and politicians used national rhetoric to hide the very real muscles they relied on to build their marvel. And those workers were treated poorly.
Americans were used to hard work in the 1820s. Farm work was pretty tough and in some ways had much in common with canal digging. Working on either meant you might cut trees, dig ditches, divert streams and labor in cold weather. Most canal workers labored seasonally, but I don’t have to tell you all how cold an upstate New York winter can be so for those who did labor through the winter, the working conditions were awful.
Epidemics were a huge problem and contributed significantly to the dead workers. In 1819, more than 1000 workers got sick from some sort of disease that came from working in a swamp that went on for 30 miles (in our significantly ditched, diked, and drained landscape of the east, it’s hard to imagine such enormous swamps, although they do still exist in some areas). Only a few of these workers died, but most were disabled for long periods of time. Other epidemics were far worse. For workers who did avoid sickness, widespread disease did lead to increased wages, however briefly. One contractor had to raise wages from $12 to between $14 and $17 a month due to an epidemic, about which he complained bitterly.
Building the Erie Canal
The use of gunpowder killed a lot of workers. The care given to explosions was pretty low through the 19th century and workers were blown up all the time or killed by rocks blown through the air. Canal collapses were also common, burying workers. Workers fell to their deaths building the locks and aqueducts. Orrin Harrison was exhausted from too much work. He fell asleep resting against a balance beam on a lock. Dozing, he fell into 8 feet of water where his legs were caught in the lock’s gates and he drowned. The death toll rose daily from these sorts of incidents.
At first, the workers were mostly American-born, but this quickly changed as labor needs increased and the reality of just how brutal this work was became more real. Thus very quickly, the Canal became a prime job site for the nation’s growing numbers of Irish immigrants. We usually associate Irish immigration a couple of decades later with the potato famine, but it had already begun by the late 1810s, with an 1817 famine what was pushing them out. The Irish would take the most difficult and dangerous jobs in the pre-Civil War north and become despised by the nation’s Protestants for it, later leading to the Know-Nothing Party and other anti-immigrant sentiment. By the end of the Erie Canal’s construction, the Irish made up a sizable percentage of the labor force.
Within the national framework of republican free men working for oneself as a craftsman or farmer, laboring as canal diggers was the lowest of work. That living conditions were so awful for these workers seemed irrefutable evidence that these workers were morally deficient, for who would live in such conditions? When the Irish then took these jobs, it reinforced the prejudice many New Yorkers had against the Irish, especially since they already saw them as living in filth. Contractors housed their workers in shanties that were frequently compared to barns that stood physically removed from towns and farms, isolating these workers physically and socially. Plus farm workers had warm beds and good food. Canal diggers did not. The work’s seasonality was also far more unpredictable than farming, meaning economic and personal insecurity.
Mostly, the laborers who came to the U.S. to work on the project found their experience disappointing. William Thomas had immigrated from Wales. He wrote back home: “I beg all my old neighbors not to think of coming here as they would spend more coming here than they think. My advice to them is to love their district and stay there.” Thomas considered returning to Wales, although we do not know if he did.
Dangerous and deadly work in the United States would grow and grow in coming decades as the Industrial Revolution transformed the nation. Some of it would be in the kind of grunt work of building a canal (or a railroad soon after). Some would take place in the factories, some in digging or cutting the raw materials for it all. Throughout the 19th and much of the 20th century, the death toll would be of little concern to bosses and certainly not to the capitalists financing this growth. Immigrants would provide much of this labor, as would African-Americans in some areas. Others would advise their families and friends to love their district and stay there too but millions would choose possible death over permanent poverty and come to work in the dangerous trades and unsafe worksites.
I relied on Carol Sheriff’s book, The Artificial River: The Erie Canal and the Paradox of Progress, 1817-1862 to write this post.
This is the 80th post in this series. Previous posts are archived here.
Paul Caron quotes an anonymous source “close to the situation” as they say:
New England School of Law plans to eliminate 14 fulltime faculty positions by August 1, 2014. Depending on how one counts, this is about 35-40% of the regular faculty. . . . Faculty have been told by Dean John O’Brien that these 14 positions will be eliminated according to the School’s needs, regardless of tenure or seniority. An incentive plan has been offered to senior faculty and certain clinical faculty, but those who don’t take it have been threatened with termination. Their decisions must be final by the end of the Fall term. Those who still do not comply or were not offered the plan, were told that if they remain, their workload during the next academic year will move from 2 to as much as 4 courses per semester and that they will be required to be at their desks from 9 to 5 each day of the work week or an equivalent time period if they are teaching evening classes.
(I asked Caron how confident he is in the source’s reliability, and he replied “100%.”).
A look at New England Law School’s tax filings for fiscal year 2012 reveals that as of a year ago NEL was making money faster than Whitey Bulger’s favorite bookmaker. The school reported $36,433,664 in revenue — almost all in the form of tuition — and only $25,786,924 in operating expenses (I’m subtracting tuition discounts from both the school’s nominal tuition revenue and its nominal expenditures), thus yielding an operating surplus of $10,646,740, or what a for-profit business would describe as a profit margin of 41.3% (NEL is of course a charitable institution, and thus its excess revenue over expenditures is not subject to taxation).
Despite this enviable financial success, Dean O’Brien — by reputation a modest man, always willing to listen to reason — actually took a pay cut, allowing the Board of Trustees to reduce his total compensation from $867,356 to $865,397. The school’s endowment grew as well, from slightly less than $55,000,000 to over $65,000,000. Other investments, not formally part of the endowment, totaled nearly eight million dollars, and this, plus the value of the buildings and land owned by the school, pushed the institution’s total assets minus liabilities from $86.6 million to $96.6 million between fiscal year 2011 and 2012.
In other words, Dean O’Brien’s operation is — or was as of 16 months ago — absolutely rolling in dough. So why is he trying to fire more than third of the faculty, while forcing the rest to work under conditions that, if actually implemented, could come to resemble those endured by people subjected to the requirements of full-time employment?
Part of the answer is that, in the wake of the Boston Globe’s January story, the school’s enrollment crashed, going from 450 matriculants in 2012 to 243 in 2013 (These numbers include both full-time and part-time students. I obtained the latter number from the school). This decline is not quite as precipitous as it sounds, since the average class at NEL over the five years prior to 2012 was just under 400, but it’s still obviously quite severe, for a school that, according to its tax filings, obtains nearly 95% of its operating revenue from tuition (Inquiring minds might want to know why a school with around $75,000,000 in liquid assets spent a grand total of $606,910 in FY2012 from investment income on its operations).
On the other hand, we don’t know how much NEL had to fork out in “scholarship” money, i.e., tuition discounts, to reel in those 243 intrepid souls.
Still, it’s remarkable that what until 15 minutes ago was pretty much a money-printing machine (although admittedly one whose primary social function at this point seems to be to turn John O’Brien into a millionaire many times over) should suddenly be in such financial distress that O’Brien is reportedly on the verge of firing more than a third of the faculty, while forcing the rest to show up for work on a regular basis.
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