Monday, October 24, 2016

How Much to Spend on LSAT Prep

 There has been a debate recently about whether the so-called "logic games" section of the LSAT makes it unnecessarily hard for poor students to get into good law schools.

I don't think it does. I think life makes it hard for poor students to get into good law schools. People who grew up poor are less likely to receive a quality education, so if they want to be skilled logicians (necessary for a high LSAT score, and certainly good for a practicing lawyer), they would have to have the drive and interest to educate themselves.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Developing Reading Proficiency with Audiobooks

If you're like most Americans, you're not very good at reading things and fully understanding them. You might not even notice it, but you're probably missing out on the little details even if you're getting the jist of something. Everyone can improve their reading comprehension. Most people just haven't had enough practice. This is an efficient way to get that practice and become better at reading in a short amount of time.

Here's how to fix that (this post assumes you do not have dyslexia or another learning disability. If you do, or think you do, get professional help):

Monday, June 27, 2016

Participation Ribbons

I am a Millennial. Born in 1988, I am slightly on the older side of Millennials, but still solidly Millennial.

I grew up with participation ribbons. I don't know anything about the psychology of childhood competitions pre-participation ribbon, but I'm sure it didn't stifle competition the way participation ribbons do.

Every kid knows that participation ribbons are bullshit. Only disabled kids proudly display participation ribbons. Most kids throw them in the trash by the end of the day. We still recognize that the bigger, shinier trophies belong to the winners, and that we are not "all winners just for trying." The winners hold the trophies, the losers hold the ribbons.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Your Vote Matters

I have always been something of a third-party supporter. I used to be Green, but then they started going all SJW (or maybe they always were, and I only just started noticing it). Now I'm a registered Libertarian. I don't agree with everything in the Libertarian Party, but right now it seems to be the best party to voice support for. And registering as a member of a third party is a big way to show support for that party.

Unfortunately, the two-party system is so deeply ingrained in the American psyche that most people can't fathom the concept of a third-party candidate winning a major election. Sure, we've got a small handful of them in Congress, and they do win state and local elections, but a third-party candidate could never win the Presidency, right?

Well, maybe, maybe not. It depends on if people vote for one. But Americans have this math-centered idea that a vote for a third-party candidate is a vote for whichever of the two big-party candidates they like the least. It makes sense on a very basic level, but it's a very defeatist way of viewing the world. And it's also a strange outlook for us, considering how much Americans despise math.

So, most Americans won't vote for a third-party candidate because that's somehow "throwing your vote away." I had one person recently tell me that voting for Gary Johnson is effectively the same as voting for Donald Trump. Another dismissively noted that I was "just voting on principle." The first one's wrong, the second one's right, but with the wrong attitude.

Let's get this straight, first of all: a vote for Gary Johnson is a vote for Gary Johnson and no one else. But, if we take the flawed logic that a vote for a Libertarian is a vote for a Republican or Democrat and apply it to this situation, a vote for Johnson is more a vote for Clinton than for Trump. People who might otherwise vote for Trump if they only had two choices, when given a third choice, are more likely than those who would otherwise vote for Clinton to vote for Johnson. Therefore, as Johnson gets more votes, the number of voters for Trump goes down faster than the number of voters for Clinton. Ergo, a vote for Johnson makes it more likely that Clinton will win, assuming Johnson himself doesn't get enough votes to win.

There's always this assumption that the third-party candidate can't win. But why not? It seems almost too obvious to bother saying, but we keep ignoring the fact that if enough people vote for a third-party candidate, that candidate will win the election.

Yes, I'm voting on principle: the principle that I should vote for the person I want to be President. Based on recent poll numbers, the majority of people don't like Clinton and the majority of people don't like Trump. Now, obviously, there are few people who like both and many people who like one but not the other. But there are also a lot of people who dislike both main-party candidates.

If you don't want Clinton to be President, don't vote for Clinton.

If you don't want Trump to be President, don't vote for Trump.

If you don't want to live your life in fear, don't let fear guide your vote.

As far as I'm concerned, both Clinton and Trump would make horrible Presidents. Both have a long and short history of lying and cheating, both have spent at least the last 25 years "playing the game," purely for their own benefit without the least regard for the good of the public, both want to destroy the First Amendment, both hate due process and separation of powers, both think the best solution to everything is creating more laws, and the cherry on top the steaming pile of shit: both hate minorities.

Honestly, I see very little difference between the two candidates. If I didn't have other choices and didn't have the option to abstain or write in "No Confidence," I think I would vote for Trump. Only because he's such a huge liar that he might go back on everything he's said during the campaign and end up a half-decent President. It's a long shot by far, but it's certainly more likely than Clinton going against her natural inclinations toward totalitarianism.

But I don't have to make that choice. I can vote for the person I want to be President.

On the other hand, we have people who vote for strange, bizarre reasons who don't actually think that what they're voting for will win. Take, for example, this tweet:

If you can't read it, it says, in part, "most told us they woke up thinking "what have I done?" & didn't actually expect the uk to leave," of course talking about those who voted in favor of Brexit.

Why would you vote for something you don't want to happen? Why would you vote for a Presidential candidate who you don't want to be President? Because there's a worse option? Between Clinton and Trump, there is not worse option. They both want to take away your rights. Yes, your rights, you specifically. Freedom of the press is your right, freedom of religion is your right, freedom of speech is your right, the right to bear arms is your right, due process of law is your right. Maybe you don't choose to exercise these rights, but just because you don't choose to do something now doesn't mean that you should want those rights taken away from you forever. And it will be forever. Once it's taken away, the chances of it coming back are slim to none.

And don't not vote, either. That's letting other people run your life for you. Vote as though your vote will decide everything. Vote for who you honestly want to win. Because that's what your vote means. It means, "I want this person to be President for the next four years."

Vote like you've got a spine.

Image result for susan b anthony grave i voted

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Graduation Fare

I'm sure you've read it. Everyone has. And everyone and their grandmother knows the last three lines by heart:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

 Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken." I wrote a post today over at Hey Look! Books! mocking it. It was fun, but I found myself mocking the reader more than the poem or the writer. You see, it's a good poem and an easy read, but it's so deeply misunderstood by the general populace that it's hard not to make fun of people for getting it so wrong.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

No Soliciting in the Park

In a few weeks, I will be setting up a stall for the community yard sale at Fairgrounds Park in Hagerstown. I've got a lot of stuff to get rid of before moving to Baltimore. Part of reserving a stall included signing a paper stating that I had read the Park Rules.

Rule #12 caught my eye. It reads: "Soliciting or loitering is prohibited." Doesn't one go to a park to loiter? Isn't that the main purpose of a park? Why bother having a park if people can't go there just to hang out? After scoffing at the loitering rule, my brain got working on the "soliciting" part.

No soliciting in the park. That can't be right. What do they mean by "soliciting?" I'm always passing by people handing out religious pamphlets at the entrance to City Park. That's solicitation, isn't it? And these are city-owned parks. Public spaces. Doesn't restricting solicitation in a public place violate the First Amendment? I mean, solicitation isn't like a political demonstration (what if it's handing out political fliers, though?), but it's still speech.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

How to Write a Basic Undergraduate Research Paper

My husband has recently started his undergraduate career and asked me for some tips on writing an essay. What started as a basic how-to list became the 7-page, 4,000+-word monster you see below.

My husband and I both went to the same high school, which was a fairly decent school, but none of our teachers ever gave us clear instructions on how to write essays. There were some basic mumblings about outlines, topic sentences and thesis statements, but we always felt as though we were just flailing about until we found something the teacher didn't say needed to be changed, without ever knowing what we did right or wrong.

This lack of clear instruction continued for me in college until I developed a system for getting A's on my papers every time. It took me until the second semester of my junior year to develop this, and until my final semester to perfect it, so it didn't do me much good overall. I share it in the hope that it will help current and future undergrads who received a similar education.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Stephen Fry is Right, You Just Don't Want to Hear It

I think lot of people are totally missing what Stephen Fry is saying. 
He said: “It’s a great shame and we’re all very sorry that your uncle touched you in that nasty place – you get some of my sympathy – but your self-pity gets none of my sympathy. Self-pity is the ugliest emotion in humanity. Get rid of it, because no one’s going to like you if you feel sorry for yourself. The irony is, we’ll feel sorry for you if you stop feeling sorry for yourself. Grow up.”

Monday, March 7, 2016

Due Diligence

The New York Times published an article today concerning a lawsuit filed against Thomas Jefferson School of Law by a former student, Anna Alaburda. This student graduated in 2008 and has yet to be employed as a lawyer. She claims that the school misrepresented their employment numbers. Maybe they did. Honestly, I find it more likely than not that they fudged their numbers higher. Why wouldn't they? Good employment numbers bring in students, who bring in money.

But that's not the point of this post. (For more about this particular case, from an actual lawyer, read this from Keith Lee)

The decision as to what law school to go to (or whether to go to law school at all) is one of the bigger decisions a person can make. The prospective student is looking at taking on well over a hundred thousand dollars of debt - sometimes over $300,000 - in most cases. Most students will not get cushy scholarships. And, because of the competitive nature of law school grades, most students will not get straight-A's. It's just not possible.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Young Women Just Aren't Thinking With Their Vaginas Anymore

The Baltimore Sun published an op-ed earlier this week discussing the political preferences of young women. Specifically, why we're so wrong about everything.

The author of the piece, Barbara A. Res, states that "young women just don't get it." What exactly don't we get? We don't get why it's so desperately important to have a woman - ANY woman - become President of the United States.

Ms. Res is yet another example of a baby-boomer feminist who thinks people in this generation should stop thinking for themselves and just do what she wants, dammit. She and others like her worked hard to build up women's rights to the point that we're even considering putting a woman in the oval office. And there's only one woman running right now, so we all just need to support Hillary because vaginas, or something.