Chicago’s Internet Ban

The law school has banned (rendered impossible) internet access in classrooms, starting with my last quarter there, as reported here. This is very frustrating, because there are, in fact, legitimate reasons for using internet access during class. I confess to occasionally using it to check news, etc., but I also use in-class internet daily to access the Chalk site for a given class, download cases from Westlaw, research confusing concepts, IM about class (i.e., to get notes on something I missed), or otherwise… learn the law. That’s in classes like torts, property, and federal jurisdiction, not to mention, say, e-commerce law.

I am sure internet access in class is being abused more than it is being used wisely, but this seems both an unnecessary and unreasonable first step to remedying any problems that situation is creating.


Power Line: The kind of numbers Hillary Clinton needs more of

Power Line has a good post [ed.: link updated to an archived link because the original was broken] on a new Gallup poll. The upshot of it is that huge numbers of Democrats say they will defect and vote for Senator McCain if the Democratic nominee is not their pick between Senators Obama and Clinton. Of Clinton supporters, 28% say they would sooner vote for McCain than for Obama, while 19% of Obama supporters would defect rather than vote for Clinton.

From Paul Mirengoff’s post:

I think this poll significantly overstates the number of Democrats who would defect in either scenario. What’s important, though, is that Obama’s defection rate if Hillary wins is much larger than Hillary’s defection rate is if Obama wins (at least according to this survey).

I agree with this. Just as countless Republican voters threatened at one point to defect rather than vote for McCain (or any other GOP candidate, in some cases), yet no real opposition movement – Ann Coulter does not count as a movement – has coalesced around abstention or defection, I suspect the Gallup poll does wildly overstate both numbers. Still, it’s a telling condemnation of the Democratic base’s loyalties this year.

U.S. News Rankings

The 2008 U.S. News rankings of law schools leaked, today, as a number of websites reported. See, for example, [ed.: link updated to an archived link because the original was broken]. One of the major points people are talking about is that Penn and Chicago, still tied, dropped to seventh, while the University of California at Berkeley (formerly Boalt Hall) jumped to sixth. Meanwhile, Michigan and Virginia continued their unjustified slides, while Northwestern climbed into a tie with those schools for ninth.

Now, the U.S. News rankings have been subjected to a lot of criticism elsewhere, but the results this year make even less sense than usual. For deconstructions of the rankings (in general and this year), see Brian Leiter’s Open Letter to Other Law Bloggers [ed.: link updated to an archived link because the original was broken], Concurring Opinions, or Jim Lindgren’s post on the Volokh Conspiracy.

I’m not a fan of the U.S. News rankings, but it seemed appropriate to at least mention them on here.

McCain vs Obama: Bailouts

I’ve been rather silent on here in the last couple weeks – finals and Spring Break will do that. Throw in an early birthday present (a Wii!), and posting has been a low priority.

Anyway, the New York Times has an interesting post on McCain and Obama on subprime bailouts

Hat tip Greg Mankiw.

More Fun with Daylight Savings Time

I had forgotten another wonderful byproduct of DST. Microsoft Outlook automatically changes all of my all-day or multi-day appointments to start one hour later. Why it would be true, now, that the Fourth of July holiday would start at 1:00 AM, for example… I have no idea.

P.S. This doesn’t impact appointments that are not at least one day long and don’t span two days. So, my Conflicts of Law exam still starts at the right time, but my spring break starts at… 1:00 AM.

P.P.S. This doesn’t seem to affect some appointments, for reasons I don’t understand. What’s really confounding is that it has the times right; it just uses them incorrectly. If I open a messed-up appointment to change it, it already shows the right start time (12:00 AM); I just have to click “Save.”

So. Very. Stupid.

Being Too Helpful

Most days, we use my phone as my alarm clock. It’s loud enough and persistent enough, plus it automatically compensates for things like Daylight Savings Time. Imagine my surprise when I discovered, however, that it had adjusted not only the time, but the alarm times, as well. So, at 2:00 AM, it apparently set the time to 3:00 and my 8:00 alarm to 9:00, producing exactly the effect that would have occurred if I had to set it forward for DST manually and forgot. It’s always fun waking up at the instant you were supposed to walk out the door.

I am annoyed.

The Popularity of Christian Books

I have been thinking a lot lately, as my last few posts may have indicated, about just what American Christians are reading. This has been fueled not only by my own reading of The Shack, but also by my discovery of two great websites. One is a blog by an author named Tim Challies, the other a companion site called Discerning Reader. Neither site is perfect, of course, but both are very interesting.

Anyway, this got the nerdy side – it’s a big side – of my personality fired up, and I started wondering what American Christians are reading, and what they think of it. So, I conducted a little study of Amazon reviews of popular Christian books to see how various books were rated. (Warning: extreme geekery follows…) Continue reading “The Popularity of Christian Books”

Why Liberals Will Always Have Better Methods

I had a short series of recent conversations on the nature of conservatism. The upshot of the conversations was this: conservatives don’t really have very many tools at their disposal, while a liberal political theory has at its disposal all the means of the state. This follows from the fact that liberal politics – at least in the sense in which liberal politics coincide with progressive politics – attempt to modify society, to change it and make it better. This activity of modifying society requires the tools and methods of the state – the ability not only to suggest norms, but to codify them in law and enforce them.

A conservative, on the other hand, starts with a suspicion that humans, being fallible even at their best, will often get it wrong. Thus, the conservative holds that there is value in what is inherited from our common past, so change should be brought about incrementally and with great caution at each stage. This stance is, in most cases, incompatible with use of the tools of government. Legislation, like executive acts and judicial decisions, is a blunt tool. Even when legislation or a judicial decision is excruciatingly narrow and detailed – when it also risks futility through its necessarily small scope – it impacts the actions of large swaths of society. To the conservative mind, modifying society through governmental means is akin to performing surgery with a battle axe.

Thus, the conservative in government – or seeking to be there – is fundamentally disadvantaged in the eyes of the public by the reluctance to embark upon sweeping social programs and legislative initiatives. A liberal comes to office with an agenda: fix this, create that, abolish the other. A conservative (not necessarily a Republican, of course) comes to office with fear and, if not more humility, then a different humility: don’t touch anything, lest it break, until it’s clear you have no other moral choice.

At least, this is what came out of the conversations I mentioned. Thoughts?