October 28, 2007
Vegans vs. Vegetarians: What kind of diet is best for the environment?
Slate has an article recapping the environmental consequences of meat eating, vegetarianism and veganism. The article rightly explains the complexities of doing proper environmental cost accounting of our food choices, which must include both the manufacturing consequences but also the consequences of transporting food. The science is currently cloudy, so it's not 100% clear that veganism is always better environmentally than vegetarianism. At the same time, it IS clear that this issue is hardly getting the attention it deserves, which means that we as a society are missing obvious and easy ways to reduce our footprint on the earth.
October 22, 2007
UC System to Lose State Funding?
According to this Mercury News article, state Treasurer Lockyer is floating a discussion proposal of eliminating state funding for the UC system. I don't think anyone expects that to happen, but as the article points out (and as I previously blogged), state funding has dwindled to a trivial percentage of some "public" law schools. Once again, this reminds us that some stereotypes about "public" and "private" schools may be outdated.
October 19, 2007
Earlier this week, I spent a ridiculous 3 hours perusing my blogroll accumulation from a single day of being offline. Too much! Today, the great blogroll purge--I trimmed my blogroll by about 30%, including a number of blogs I had subscribed to for well over 2 years. It's kind of like purging my contacts database of people I haven't been in touch with for a number of years--I may still have lots of positive goodwill towards these people, but it's time to face the facts about the future. In any case, I feel newly liberated by my streamlined blogroll. Now, we'll see if it actually frees up some time!
October 15, 2007
Sitcoms with a Vegetarian/Animal Rights Emphasis
Over on Post Punk Kitchen, they are reminiscing about TV shows (especially 80s sitcoms) depicting vegetarianism or animal rights issues.
October 13, 2007
How to Win a Legal Writing Competition
Law students don't seem to appreciate how easy it is to win a legal writing competition. Write a good paper on an original topic, and you will stand out from the pack.
Instead, most students gang-tackle the exact same topics, which makes for dreary reading and reduces the odds of saying anything new. For example, I was recently asked to evaluate 5 papers for a copyright law writing competition. Two of the papers were on YouTube's legal liability. At minimum, I'm going to compare the two against each other, so one of the papers is guaranteed to be DOA. However, it's pretty hard to say something truly unique and insightful on the topic, so the papers get caught in a bit of a Scattergories problem. As a result, both papers knocked each other out.
Another paper was on Google Libraries. I only got one of those this year, but I've seen a dozen or more student papers on the topic in the past. Another Scattergories knock-out.
With respect to both of these "current-event" topics, student papers have an extremely difficult time adding anything new to the conversation. In fact, these three papers said nothing that had not already been thoroughly discussed months or even years ago in the blogosphere. As I've said before, with the advent of blogs, law review-style papers on current event topics no longer make sense (if they ever did). If you are a professor supervising student papers, I propose that you add the words "YouTube" and "Google Library" to the list of verboten student paper topics (already on the list: "Grokster" and "online music").
The fourth paper was a case note on a case interpreting the requirement of 17 USC 411(a) to register the plaintiff's copyrights before bringing suit. At least this is a different topic, so this paper could have had some legs. Unfortunately, there's a reason why no one writes on this topic--there's not much to say, especially in the context of a case note.
The final paper undertook a multi-country comparative analysis of an International copyright treaty in light of the First Amendment. I think it's hard to find original topics regarding International IP treaties, especially for students, so I don't know if this paper topic was really new. However, this paper simultaneously undertook three really hard tasks: (1) a constitutional analysis, (2) analysis of an International treaty, and (3) a multi-country comparative analysis. At most, I would counsel students to tackle only one hard task per paper. Doing three in a single paper is fatal for students.
In the end, I didn't recommend any of these papers for further consideration.
So students, if you're writing a paper that you want to shine in the writing competitions, spend some time researching and identifying a good topic--not a case note, not a current events topic, not a topic that's been overgrazed, and not a topic so challenging that you can't deliver. For more on topic selection, see here.
October 09, 2007
Using Second Life as a Teaching Tool
The Chronicle of Higher Education ran an article on six professors who are using Second Life as a pedagogical tool. However, the article also contains a sidebar with some caveats about Second Life's downsides, ranging from technical glitches to bandwidth impacts to red light districts.
October 08, 2007
Coverage of Blogging Event at SCU Last Month
Last month I blogged about the AALS/National Law Journal event we hosted at SCU entitled "Blogging, Scholarship and the Bench and Bar." The National Law Journal published the transcript from the event (National Law Journal, Oct. 8, 2007 at 22). Law.com has the electronic copy if you are a registered user. Jessie Seyfer of the Recorder also published a brief recap.
UPDATE: You are now able to freely read excerpts from the event here.
October 03, 2007
Jim Karger Profile--Lawyer Chucks It All After 25 Years of Practice
This lengthy profile of Jim Karger, a former Texas lawyer, is a textbook example of Patrick Schiltz's predictions. A law graduate realizes on day 1 of his first legal job that he had "made a serious vocational error," but sticks with the profession for 25 years, progressively suffering all of the ills associated with a legal practice: divorce, stress, physical maladies, materialism/golden handcuffs and alcohol use as medication. So he decided to chuck it all. He quit his job, sold his material possessions and moved to a sleepy town in Mexico. Now, he does a little consulting and runs a service to place stray dogs and cats from his village. There are a variety of cautionary lessons woven through this story if you listen carefully.
October 01, 2007
Vegans v. Vegetarians and Matters of the Heart
Religion and social status have always been deal breakers in relationships. But for those navigating today’s dating pool, the currents may just have gotten rougher....there’s the friction between vegans and vegetarians. It might sound counterintuitive; after all, neither group eats meat. But for many vegans—who also eschew animal products like the dairy and eggs eaten by vegetarians—love may not be enough to conquer ideology.