In re: Bar exam is upon us

This morning I spent a delightful two hours seated in front of a BarBri DVD session on the Ohio bar exam.  While at this point I am not entirely set on where I will be sitting for the bar, I figured it couldn’t hurt to get my first ‘scare’.  So what did I learn?  Well besides learning about the lunch options in Veterans Memorial Hall where the Ohio exam is given, I got a sense for the misery that I will likely be going through following graduation and spending my days relearning all the first year classes that have escaped me by now.  That said I actually like the method of teaching BarBri uses, that is the lectures with the fill in the blank forms they give you that somehow manage to keep my attention.  Anyway, looks to be fun.

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In re: A Toyota operating system?

Well, Toyota is not about to be competing with Microsoft, but apparently today despite all that Japanese efficiency each vehicle line that Toyota builds gets a new OS from scratch (if you had not noticed, cars these days are becoming more and more dependent on computers and mechanics now come equipped with a laptop & a wrench)  To help save money from all the rewrites Toyota is developing a standardized OS for their cars down the road.  I commented before on the possible problems of computers in cars, with the most interesting being the thought of viruses that disable breaks (most systems are pretty sealed these days, but as people hack into their cars to boost performance or fuel efficiency such problems exist)  See Wired for the story.

Where did the student bloggers go?

After Ed graduates, it’s quite possible that Moritz will not have any more student bloggers.  Maybe there are some other students who blog, but I don’t know of any.   In years past, I think there were at least a half dozen, if not more, hard core student bloggers.  Now, apparently only one: Ed. 

Ed, can you find a replacement in the 2L or 1L class?  Or maybe Prof. Berman can sub in and offer a pseudo-student blog?

In re: Is apple finally going credit you for singles purchases?

iTunes is by far and away the main source of my music purchases today, and apparently it is for many people as sales of digital music have been soaring, while physical copy sales decline.  One of the great perks of buying online is the unbundling possibilities, that is being able to pick and choose the songs you want.  The downside of this has always been that if you buy a few songs off an album and suddenly realize you want the whole thing, the album cost is still $9.99 and you feel like you just wasted your singles purchases, as two copies of DRM’ed music is about as much fun as one copy.  Despite this people like myself have ended up biting the bullet and grabbing the whole album after dappling, but other-times we may have not.  Thankfully Apple has finally put an end to this problem and will apparently begin to sell albums at a discount by the number songs you purchased already, so grabbing the single suddenly puts you in the position of being more likely to buy the album ($1 off after one song, etc.) rather than the old system of forcing you to decide if it is worth paying $1 extra (the one you already paid for the song).  See article on it at ars technica

Failing the bar exam

So this post is meant to offer 3Ls some perspective on taking the upcoming bar exam.  I know it’s still early, but Ed may kick me off before then.

The bar exam strikes fear, I gather, in all who must take it.  I definitely had experienced moments of sheer and utter panic in the last months before the bar.  The reason: there are so many subjects on the MBE, so much minutiae, so much brute memorization.  And then there are the essay questions, not to mention the sheer physical demands of taking a 2 or 3 day examination.  To be honest, I had not taken that many “bar” courses in law school and thought I had a good chance of failing.  I did pass, but that doesn’t mean my fears were unfounded.  The bar is a demanding exam.  On any bad day, I believe anyone can fail (putting aside even the randomness of grading the essay question by those hired by the state to grade). (Indeed, a number of very famous people have failed the bar.) 

So what does this all mean?  Study as soon as graduation is over.  OK, maybe the week after.  But also keep things in perspective, too.  All lawyers have gone through the same ordeal.  All pretty much hate the experience.  Many pass on the first try (particularly if they study), but many don’t.  The one good thing about the bar: it’s not limited to a one-time deal.    

In re: REDiculous?

I love charities and people giving to charity, but being the cynical one I’m always happy to question the motives of people who give, the results of giving, etc., so with that said… you may remember a while back when the product red campaign started I made a post on the subject.Well since then apparently a lot of money (almost $20m) has been raised, but lots and lots more money has been spent advertising the campaign, and lots more went in profits to these companies, who received countless good will in the connection with saving the world (see Intelligent Giving). Is that bad? Not necessarily, its just that I think its important to remember that most companies will be acting in the interest of their bottom line, not that they should be apologizing, but that the red campaign is just another way to advertise, brand and move product, possibility reaching a consumer base outside their grasp.

Saw and interesting article (see Christian Science Monitor “Buy a T-shirt to fight AIDS. But does it really help?“) on the campaign, its highs & lows, the misconceptions (like how much does gap give for those t-shirts?) and if people realized that they were donating $1 to charity with their $20 shirt, would they want to wear a shirt that proudly proclaimed ‘I gave $1 to charity’? I’ve always thought a lot of Thoreau’s statement on charity, that it was very selfish to give and wonder if it is really selfish to wear a shirt that proclaims how good a person you are. Of course you are a good person, you helped build a factory in Africa to make cotton t-shirts with clever slogans and can in turn tell us all about it.

Yet I may be going overboard, as consciousness of the problem has been raised, money was raised in a large amount without a hurricane or tsunami and ad money was spent on products, but focused on the underlying problems as well.

“We hijacked marketing budgets that would normally have gone for good products, but now they’re going for good products that will also bring money into Africa,” says Tamsin Smith, president of (RED). “There are 10 miles of Gap windows in the United States. And for many weeks [those displays] were talking about AIDS in Africa.””

Other ways to help around the world exist of course too, one such way I read about in an interesting op-ed the other day by Nick Kristof in NY Times “You, Too, Can Be a Banker to the Poor” (sub required)where he mentioned a website www.kiva.org, that allows people with their credit cards to take up micro lending for as low as $25 (part of a loan). I checked it out and was really impressed, being a fan of micro lending (rather than just straight up gifts) and having read a lot on the spectacular results that have been achieved I thought it would be a good way to ‘burn’ $100, plus when the loan comes due, you actually have a pretty good shot of getting your money back (close to 100% they report) and then to extend that money elsewhere, or to take your investment that brought you no return and laugh all the way to the bank.

“Being a finance person is better than being a doctor,” Ms. Sadat said. “You can cure the whole family, not just one person. And it’s good medicine — you can see them get better day by day.”

Small loans to entrepreneurs are now widely recognized as an important tool against poverty. Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize last year for his pioneering work with microfinance in Bangladesh.”

In re: Back from Guatemala

My last spring break possibly was spent in Guatemala where along with some friends I headed down last weekend to attend a friends wedding and to see a bit of the country beforehand.  Every time I travel I always find new things to appreciate about home (as well as to criticize) and without fail one of the things that we take for granted is our showers.  Getting back into a hot shower with water pressure here in the states is quite the experience compared to the places I visited in Guatemala where we often didn’t have hot water or had it for a few hours a day.  Of course hot water isn’t the most essential component of life, but it sure is nice along with the ability to turn on the faucet and without a thought use it for filing a pot, drinking water, or whatever else we do all the time.

So its back to law school, the home stretch, got a few nice weekend excursions down the homestretch, hopefully some nice weekends and some nice walks for Charlie but hooding (the end of law school) is definitely in sight.