Friday, September 28, 2007

A Stupid Idea Folds - Thank Goodness

GOP-backed bid to reform California's electoral process collapsing

Did someone finally pull aside the powers behind this proposal and ask them what they thought would happen if the Reeps were in power again and the Dems benefited from the fruits of their labor? Seems so! Phew. Stupidity lost! A rare day, indeed.

I've yet to see an electoral college reform proposal that makes any real sense. I'm still pissed about 2000, of course, but only twice in our country's history have the electoral and popular votes been at odds.

I love the Dems, but I'm too much a pragmatist and proceduralist to support chucking out the system just because the second out-lier occurred in the age of the 24-hour news cycle.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

'Claremont McKenna receives $200-million gift'

Big new for the home campus - the LAT touts it as the largest donation to a American liberal arts college. Except the money is for a graduate program.

Um, congrats?

It's an undergraduate college, but nevermind that. President Pam Gann must be thrilled. The school looks great and I'm guessing that investment makes us more attractive to other would-be donors - and frees up money so she can continue to expand the student body and remold CMC into the research university over which she seemingly wishes to preside.

A graduate program.

I don't share the CMC lit department's fear that the donation for a finance masters program will force the school into a single issue trade school, but I think expanding past provided superb undergraduate education is foolish. I'm surprised, frankly, that the charter allows it.

p.s. It's been pointed out to me that I sound like too much of a hater in this post. I'm not. I am grateful to Mr. Day for his great generosity. And I think CMC will do well by the gift. It just surprised the hell out of me. CMC is full of stats on other liberal arts colleges with masters programs. So I guess all's well . . . . Like I said in the comments - Colleen's take (see comments) is the best on the subject at pointing out the potential advantages.

Monday, September 17, 2007

That Necktie Is Killing You


"Ties are rarely laundered but worn daily," the Department of Health said in a statement. "They perform no beneficial function in patient care and have been shown to be colonized by pathogens."

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Help Me Tina Fey, You're My Only Hope

Enjoying the Emmys? I am. Kinda. One of the highlights of the show - to those of us into that sort of thing - are the clips submitted by the writing staffs of the various late night shows nominated for best writing in a variety, music, or comedy program. I noticed, however, that with the exception of the Colbert Report's and the Daily Show's staff, the staff members on Letterman, Conan, and Real Time were all men. Unless some of the names were of the unisex variety (Chris, Lee/Leigh, etc). Colbert has two, Daily has one.

Guess we just aren't that funny. As a gender.

I hate being that woman too, the "where are all the women" woman. But, sometimes, such observations can't be helped.

So, go 30 Rock. Go Tina Fey. You are my role model for funny. (You and Sanjay.)

Side Note: anyone watching notice during the opening musical number the director's choice to pair the lyric about Isaiah Washington with a shot of T.R. Knight? Eh. It's Fox, whaddya want.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Mmmm, TV Stuff

Get read for the Emmys on Sunday with the Chron's Tim Goodman - I agree with him 85% of the time, so he's got a good list there. And I love that 30 Rock is so heavily nominated considering when it started it was largely written off as D.O.A.

I love Tina Fey - so, while I don't think she'll win - she's the gal I most want to go home with a statue. As many as possible, at that.

(For this into TV programming schedules and the media's undernoted East-Coast bias, interesting stuff in there about Fox's scheduling of the Emmys vs. Sunday football.)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

This One Or That One, This One Or That One

Happy Thursday

Sound Bite-Off!

From today's Roundup - we have, regarding the end of the 2007 Legislative session (regular, that is), in this corner, CMC professor and sound bite machine John J. Pitney. And in this corner, longtime sound bite arms race foe, Sherry Bebitch Jeffe. You make the call:

The Bee's Jim Sanders: "Though more than 2,800 bills were proposed and about 960 were approved during the nine-month session, political analysts say the scorecard is dismal.

"'If your expectations are low enough, it was a great success,' John J. Pitney, government professor at Claremont-McKenna College, said of the Legislature's regular session that ended with a gavel's thud about 3:30 a.m. Wednesday.

"'They took care of the ordinary business of government, but when it came to the large issues, it was a session of deferral rather than accomplishment,' Pitney said.

"Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a political analyst from the University of Southern California, cautioned against judging the Legislature until the special sessions are over.

"But Jeffe conceded that lawmakers aren't hearing much applause, adding, 'I would say the perception is that the Legislature didn't accomplish very much.'
Ladies and gentlemen, it's no suprise here: Pitney takes the title easily from Bebitch Jeffe - simple statement of events is no match for Pitney's poetic, classic, comparison structure. Well done, Jack!

If you read the rest of the Roundup - it sounds like a dark day for California policy-making. Realistically, however, the only people who will remember it as an especially lousy year by the time the Legislature reconvenes are prison guards whose collective-bargaining-is-for-suckers legislative play went down in a flaming pile of odd political rhetoric and sound legislative judgment.

If you're late to the subject - check out the Bee's excellent Sunday editorial on the relationship between various state and local government contracts. (And a more damning editorial today that, frankly, while full of bluster, isn't nearly as well reasoned as the one in the first link.)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Sad Stuff Of Poems And Political Footballs

How many themes can you tease from this twist of fate?

How Many Years Does It Take To Have The Edge? Two? Seriously?

From The Roundup, a quotation I find very amusing:

"Meanwhile, while battles were being waged in the Capitol, GOP consultant Kevin Spillane went over his talking points against the term limits measure with the Bee Capitol Bureau.

"'In reality, over 80 percent of (current) legislators will have their terms significantly lengthened," Spillane said. "If it really was a toughening of term limits, would the politicians be supporting it and funding it? Of course not."

"Spillane also cautioned that if Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger supports the term limits measure, 'he actually bargains away his own power' because Núñez and Perata could outlast him in office.

"Every interest group in the state is going to know that," Spillane said. 'Their power will be dramatically increased. His will be diminished. Whereas if (term limits) does not pass ... there will new leaders in both houses. He will be the old man, there will be new kids on the block. It might give Schwarzenegger an upper hand in the final two years of his term.'"
Because the final two years are always the strongest of any executive's. And Schwarzenegger has SO much more experience under the Dome.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Nanny State Moves I Like

I disagree with this ruling based on the 4 paragraphs of information provided here.

Before we ban ingrediants or other stupid moves, providing the nutritional information more obviously would be a great move. Would you still go for that McDonald's salad if you knew it was still nearly or over 600 calories? It's the dressing. Don't do it. Just have the burger, it's what you want anyway.

Fall Is Coming, And With It, The Return Of 'Don't Go To Law School' Season

As thousands of college seniors return to campuses across America this month, many are facing that oldest of nagging questions, certain to be discussed late at night prompted by binge drinking and freshman year nostalgia: what in the hell am I going to do with this liberal arts degree now?

For too many graduates, the answer continues to be, "I know, I'll go to law school."

I consider myself - along with fellow blogger Amber Taylor - to be among the few, proud members of the "Don't Do It" club. The "Do It" club is large and popualted mostly by parents and well meaning adults comforted by the thought of a child insulated from unemployment and want by a J.D. and a Huxtable-level Brooklyn Brownstone future. You know these people. The ones who say, with chins ever up, how useful a law degree is, even if you don't practice. It's a valuable certificate. A ticket - and a golden one at that. A law degree is versatile. It teaches you to think. To reason. A law degree will save you. Haven't you seen Erin Brokovich? Nevermind that she wasn't a lawyer, it's the professsssssion, you see. Noble. It wins. It's about truth. Justice. The American way.

And debt, kids. Massive, opportunity strangling, piles of debt. And weight-gain. And spending 3 years in a pseudo-intellectual environment created as the world's most pretigious barrier-to-entry to keep our rates up (well, some of our rates), swapping the sensible apprentice-based model for the current faux-collegiate attitude that drives true scholars mad and elevates mediocre memorization specialists to new, $100k+ heights.

Nay, that's too dark a rendition of the law school reality, no? Knowing my employer reads this from time to time to ensure I'm not sinking the mission duty-binds me to include a disclaimer that I do, in fact enjoy my job. I do. I'm not lying. But I don't think anyone needs to go to law school. Certainly not you, uncertain and scared college senior. Certainly not, unless you are damned sure you want to practice law. And to be that sure, you have to know what it is to practice law and I'll tell you right now, kid who rushes home after Gov 82 each day to watch 5 hours of L&O (classic, not sex-addled SVU), that ain't it and you haven't got a clue.

How about some empirical data about what your future might look like? Here's some good stuff. See that big bump at the left of the graph? That's probably going to be you. Unless you work you ass off to get into the top US News ranked schools, you can kiss that right-hand hump good-bye. It does matter where you go. Better is better. Period.

See, that's the thing with the decision to go to law school - it is based on such deceptively simple questions and truths. Only go if you want to practice law. Go to the best school possible. Easy, right? Wrong. Oh so wrong.

Somewhere, as she reads this, my mother is cringing and feeling both sad and angry. She hates, hates, HATES when I say that law school was a bad choice for me. She hates that statement because, as with "only go if you want to practice law" and "go to the best school possible," its length belies its complexity. Law school led to many good things for me. I probably wouldn't have met my fiancé (not that he's a lawyer or law student, thank god). Obviously, I'd go to law school 3 times in a row rather than trade him for avoiding the experience. I also wouldn't have my current job which, as mentioned above, I do genuinely like.

But you must realize, eager, bright-eyed senior, that a law degree is not a good credential to have, the way having passed the CBEST can get you substitute teaching gigs when you feel like getting extra cash. You will be condemned to taking jobs that can support your degree unless you have the ability to pay for most of it upfront. And if making a comfortable living is one of your main career goals (and if it is not you are either stupid, lying, deluded, or the beneficiary of a trust), you can do it without a law degree.

I have a good friend whose career I use to track my own. He's not much older than I am. I don't know exactly when he started in the Capitol, but it wasn't too long before I did. He stayed there, working in a policy area I love and worked damn hard. He recently left for the private sector. But before he left he was making more money than I am now. And he has no law school debt to pay off. Didn’t have to take out extra loans after his education to pay for the prep class that would enable him to pass the exam he needs to use the professional degree. He's doing A-Okay. I think that's so wonderful he should be trucked to college campuses around the state as a motivational speaker.

I've made this argument, or some version of it, frequently over the life of this blog. I'm not confident it will sway a single student from the wrong path. Truly brilliant mentors didn't sway me from mine. Because I was dumb. And I felt lost. And despite what I will forever contend was the best college education ever, I still lacked enough self-confidence to feel finished by my B.A. All of those are my failings alone - and no one else's.

So I will remain the Cassandra of senior-year planning. Don't do it. At least take some time first, see if you can survive out there. Try to figure out if practicing law is really what you'd like to do everyday. Try to figure out what practicing law is. Try to figure out if you're comfortable living in a world without much truth - at least in the professional sense. Then think about it some more. Law school will always be around - your chance to make a mistake by attending won't disappear after your senior year.