Sunday, August 31, 2008

Ode to Laptops

I know I haven’t written in here for awhile, but the professors’ new laptop policy has really got me peeved. So, I’m back for now at least.

For those of you who aren’t up on this, teachers are increasingly banning the use of laptops in class. Even the professors that aren’t banning them are restricting their use. Two of my classes require that I take hand-written notes. The class I’m writing this in prohibits the use of laptops except for word processing.

They give paternal reasons for it. “You get distracted.” “You distract your classmates.” “It impedes discussion.” “You write everything down.” Each of these reasons is bs. Let’s go through the list!

1.) You write everything down.

Oh yeah, heaven forbid we actually listen to what you say and take notes for our own education. The only reason you shouldn’t want us writing down what to say is if you have no idea what you’re talking about and are afraid that some student acting like a court stenographer provides the administration with a transcript of your own incompetence.

The thing is, this isn’t even generally true. If you are a remotely competent student, you know that there are somethings that are worth writing down and somethings that aren’t. I take the same amount of notes regardless. I actually spend more time taking notes when I’m writing the notes out and I miss much more of class because it takes me longer to translate what is said onto the page.

Speed isn’t the only reason why taking notes on a laptop is better than handwriting them. The biggest reason is that you can actually organize your notes. Some professors try to give you an outline at the beginning of class, but anyone who’s ever spent time in class knows that sometimes we dabble into topics that were taught previously. If there is something noteworthy, I either end up with my note buried amongst unrelated material so it’s impossible to find quickly or it’s crammed onto a page with materials that it are related, but because there’s no room, it is completely illegible meaning that it is totally worthless to me when I go back to study for my exams. Thanks professor!

2.) It impedes discussion.

On its surface, this appears to be completely true. When I’m checking to see if someone’s made a funny comment on Deadspin, I’m not really participating and discussing the great issues in class with my class mates. Here’s the thing though: I can talk to my classmates about this stuff at anytime. The best discussions about the law with my classmates have taken place outside of class rather than in it.

Why is this? Well, Virginia, it’s because you talk outside of class, the gunner trying to get brownie points is negated to some degree. In class discussion is usually dominated by a couple people who like to hear the sound of their own voice. My property class was like this, with two or three people talking every class. Sure, you could pretend that was enhanced discussion, but really, all they did was repeat what the professor said back to him.

Outside of class, discussions can be frank. You can tell people who have vapid, regurgitated statements to take a hike or you can just walk away from them. If you tell some kid in class he’s an idiot, that comes off as rude and hurts your standing with the professor. Outside of clas, many people will applaud your putting the automaton in his/her place.

Basically, everything that’s good about class discussion can be had outside of class. You just have to be willing to put forth the effort.

On top of this, my friends and I usually have discussions within class. That’s right, we get on IM and chat about what’s going on, asking questions concerning something we don’t’ understand. You may say “But that’s exactly the problem! Raise your hand and say it so the whole class can hear!” No. I don’t’ want to get into a debate with Gunner McGee. I don’t care about his opinion. I’ve already heard him ape the professor’s statements enough. I want actual insight or a different take from my friends. If we hit a point where we can’t figure out what’s going on, then we raise our hand and as the professor. We eliminate the fluff and ask a question that actually moves the class forward.

Computers improving efficiency?! Asking good questions? What a couple of crazy ideas

3.) You distract your classmates

Oh my Godding God. I have spent a lot of time being bored in class in my time in law school. I doodle in my notebook, I surf the web. I cannot remember ever being distracted by someone’s web browsing. Even when I run out of things to check online, I don’t go looking at my compatriots screens. I can’t believe someone who is actually wanting to focus on class can get distracted by someone playing a game online. You have to be as OCD as Adrian Monk for that to happen.

Even if yo do have the focus of a gnat, this can be corrected by sitting in the front of the room. Generally speaking, when you sit in the front of the room, the people around you aren’t going to be surfing the web. It’s too hard to hide that you’re not paying attention and far too dangerous as you could very well invoke the wrath of the cold call. If you can’t pay attention because you’re spying on your classmate’s computer, that’s pretty sad. Next thing you know, you’re going to be touching and counting every parking meter or pole you walk by. On the bright side though, you’ll also be a fantastic detective.

4.) You get distracted

Finally, we get to the main argument against us having laptops in class. Instead of listening to your brilliant description of mens rea, we’re finding out that Angelina and Brad might be on the outs (OMGZ!!!!!11!!!!1).

The only argument that holds any weight in this discussion is that you want to make sure we learn as much as possible in class since we’re the future of the University of Virginia’s reputation. If we get out and are incompetent, then that’s not good for the school. While I respect this position, the fact is, if we’re unable to handle law school while we have access to the internet, how the heck are we going to be able to practice law when we have access to the internet? doesn’t disappear from our web browser just because we pass the bar. Our inability to practice self-restraint when presented with temptation will be far more problematic to or success as lawyers, and thus the university’s reputation, than us missing a couple minutes of your lecture while reading ever will. The removal of laptops basically creates a contemporary Hadleyburgesque situation in class.

If you want to get us to stop web surfing in class, make it impossible for us to score well in the class if we’re not paying attention. Or, you could just teach better. I know, that’s a shocking alternative. God forbid you actually improve yourself rather than lashing out punitively at your students.

Also, we’re paying to be here. We’re all adults. At this point in our life, we should be allowed to make our own choices. If I want to watch someone getting hit with a shovel on youtube instead of listening to you tell me what qualifies as consideration because I know I can just go read it in the book later, then that should be my prerogative. When I screw off in class, I’m not hurting anyone else, except for the OCDers. I am just quietly minding my own business and getting what I want to out of law school. Professors should respect my ability to choose and stop being paternal. If you feel that you’re that important that I have to pay attention to you, then make yourself that important. Otherwise, let me read the news and chat with my friends about what’s going on in class.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

DVD's in the Library

Dear Jackasses Who Smudge the DVDs,

Please, grip the DVD's on the side and possibly even in the middle. Also, do not place the DVD's anywhere but your DVD player or the DVD case. That way, when I get the movie out, it won't be randomly skipping because you smudged the hell out of it.

Thank you.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Beautiful Charlottesville

Today was one of those days that UVA should package and send out to all of their prospective students. By the time I wandered into class today (10 am classes are quite awesome), it was in the mid-sixties.

Now, some of you (those from the Southwest and California) are probably wondering what the big deal is. Well, in most parts of the country, February is a time where we freeze and our extremities attempt to burrow inside our bodies. The fact that I got to wear shorts comfortably today was an amazing thing.

Days like these don't show up often in New York or Boston, so for those of you looking at those metropolises for jobs, well...maybe consider the weather and head a little further South.

UVA is more fun anyway.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Course Evaluations

One of the great things about UVA is that you can see all of the teachers evaluations. Glancing through, I came upon this gem:

That's right boys and girls, UVA students read Penny Arcade too. Plus, they've apparently read Dante's inferno and subscribe to Nietzsche's school of thought that which does not kill you makes you smarter.

Monday, January 21, 2008

And We're Back

We are now back, returning to UVA for a second semester. I still don't know my grades so this second semester really could be short lived.

I got back into town last week, just in time for the giant snow storm. That was pretty damn exciting since people in Virginia don't know how to drive normally and definitely cannot handle the snow. First, the road crews just aren't equipped to take care of it. Second, the solution that people in VA come up with is to drive 10 MPH under the speed limit, but to still keep doing the aggressive driving that's so popular down here.

Look, there's enough traffic on 250 so that the road actually gets cleared in the lanes because of the traffic. You're basically driving on just regular wet pavement. You don't have to go 10 MPH slower (except around turns, more on this in a minute). However, the whole cutting someone off is really bad because there's still the chance they'll be hitting a slick spot so that they can slow down. The accidents I saw were almost all caused by this.

However, there was one that wasn't. Up by the Law School, there's an exit from 250 bypass that's only accessible going east. Someone decided to take the offramp at a high rate of speed and ended up putting their SUV/Truck hybrid throughly in the ditch. If I had a camera, I would have taken a picture.

So to review: Don't cut people off. Don't take turns at high rates of speed.

Coming up later this week: thoughts on my profs and the whole new slate of classes.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Twas the Legal Night Before Christmas

Whereas, on or about the night prior to Christmas, there did occur at a certain improved piece of real property (hereinafter, the "House" a general lack of stirring by all creatures therein, including, but not limited to, to wit, a mouse.

A variety of foot apparel, e.g. stocking, socks, etc., et al., had been temporarily affixed by and around the chimney in said House, with appropriate care, in the hope and/or belief that St. Nick a/k/a St. Nicholas a/k/a Santa Claus (hereinafter, "Claus") would arrive at sometime thereafter.

The minor residents, i.e. the children, of the aforementioned House were located in or around their individual sleeping locations, or beds, and were nestled and engaged in nocturnal hallucinations, i.e. dreams, wherein visions of confectionery treats, including, but not limited to, candies, nuts and/or sugar plums (without and not meeting FDA labeling requirements) did dance, cavort and or otherwise appear in said dreams.

Whereupon the party of the first part, (sometimes hereinafter referred to as I ("I")), being the joint owner or tenant-in-common in fee simple absolute of the House, with the party of the second part, (hereinafter "Mamma"), and said Mamma had retired for a sustained period of sleep (at such time, the parties of both parts were clad in various forms of headgear, e.g. kerchief and cap) for a long, seasonal ("winter") nap.

Suddenly, and without prior notice or warning, there did occur upon the unimproved real property adjacent and appurtenant to said House, i.e., the lawn, a certain disruption of unknown nature, cause and/or circumstance ("clatter"). The party of the first part ("I") did immediately arise and rush to a fenestration ("window") in the House to investigate the cause of such disturbance. In the process, the party of the first part ("I") mistakenly tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The party of the first part noticed the moon, in full phase, on the topmost part of the new-fallen snow. The party of the first part was informed and believed, and based upon such information and belief, alleged that said moon gave the lustre of mid-day, otherwise known as noon, to objects below. At that time, the party of the first part ("I") did observe, with some degree of wonder and/or disbelief, a miniature sleigh (hereinafter the "Vehicle") being pulled and/or drawn very rapidly through the air by approximately eight (8) reindeer. The driver of the Vehicle appeared to be and in fact was, the previously referenced Claus.

Said Claus was providing specific direction, instruction and guidance to the approximately eight (8) reindeer and specifically identified the animal co-conspirators by name: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen (hereinafter "the Deer"). (Upon information and belief, it is further asserted that an additional co-conspirator named "Rudolph" may have been involved.)

The party of the first part witnessed Claus, the Vehicle and the Deer intentionally and willfully trespass upon the top of the porches, walls and/or roofs of several residences located adjacent to and in the vicinity of the House, and noted that the Vehicle was heavily laden with packages, toys and other items of unknown origin or nature. Suddenly, without prior invitation or permission, either express or implied, the Vehicle arrived at the House, and Claus entered said House via the chimney.

Said Claus was clad in a red fur suit with white fur, which was partially covered with residue from the chimney, and he carried a large sack containing a portion of the aforementioned packages, toys, and other unknown items. He was smoking what appeared to be tobacco in a small pipe, and blowing circles that resembled wreaths in blatant violation of local ordinances and health regulations.

The party of the first part observed that Claus's eyes would not have passed a field sobriety test in that they twinkled. Moreover, Claus's facial expressions (i.e. "dimples") appeared overly joyful. As further evidence of his state of being, Claus's cheeks were very red, almost like roses, his nose was likewise red like a cherry. Claus's mouth could have been said to look like a bow, and the extended hair growth under his chin could likewise be said to be as white as the snow.

Although Claus did not speak, he did laugh, which caused his rotund stomach area to move about in a manner similar to, but not quite like, a bowl full of jelly. Claus thereafter immediately began to fill the stocking of the minor children, which hung adjacent to the chimney, with toys and other small gifts. (Said items did not, however, constitute "gifts" to said minor pursuant to the applicable provisions of the U.S. Tax Code.)

Upon completion of such task, Claus touched the side of his nose and flew, rose and/or ascended up the chimney of the House to the roof where the Vehicle and Deer waited and/or served as "lookouts." Claus immediately departed for an unknown destination.

However, prior to the departure of the Vehicle, Deer and Claus from said House, the party of the first part did hear Claus state and/or exclaim: "Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!"

Or words to that effect.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Finally Done

Ranking my exams in order of difficulty, hardest to easiest

1.) Criminal Law- Dear Lord in heaven. If I next time I tell by reading a statute whether it's MPC or commonlaw, it'll be the first time. I did not consent to the sexual contact that test made with me. There's a legitimate chance this test could cost me my spot in law school.

2.) Civil Procedure- This one wasn't a huge surprise. Civil Procedure is so rule based that there's a chance you'll get hit with one you weren't too sure on. Well, That definitely happened to me.

3.) Torts- Duty. Breach. Causation. Damages. Next Issue. Duty. Breach. Causation. Damages. Next Issue. Duty. Breach. Causation. Damages. Next Issue. Duty. Breach. Causation. Damages. Next Issue......

4.) Contracts- easily the easiest of the finals. I just went line by line through my outline to make sure I covered all the major topics for each question. Probably the easiest to analyze, even if Contracts isn't excessively intuitive.

Hopefully, I did well enough to qualify for another semester.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Shawshank Redemption,2933,317100,00.html

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Sorry for disappearing. Some personal things came up and then when I got back to school other things (video games, books, movies) took precedence over the blog.

Anyway, since I've exhausted all the other forms of studying, and because I received an e-mail from TJ's Doubleplay asking why I died, I figured I could post a couple of thoughts about exams.

First, for whomever chose 8:30 am for 1L's exams, I realize that we're the bitches of the law school, but seriously, push this back to 9 or 10. 8:30 is way too damn early for most of us.

Second, how the hell do some of my co-students write so much? I'm coming in around 10 pages on my exams and I hear people talking about writing 15 or 20 pages. That last number has to be a lie because I"m pretty certain that you'd have to be a trained typist to come close to 20 pages in a three hour period, especially if you read the question. I realize I may be shorting my self on these answers, but seriously people, what the hell are you writing?

Third, I recognize that teachers should challenge us. However, the practice exams should not completely mislead us, like some of the practice exams my teachers handed out have. We had multiple exams that all asked very similar questions for practice. Then, when it came time for exams, the questions were COMPLETELY different. What was the point of the practice exams? It wasn't like we had answers to check ourselves against so we couldn't even find out if we were answering the practice questions correctly.


Friday, November 9, 2007

Holy Crap

I would like to thank TJ's Doubleplay for linking me because that one link doubled the number of visitors to my blog, not for the day, not for the week, but doubled the total number of people that had ever visited it. And, it was for one of my sloppiest entries ever.

So, I'm a little torn. On one hand, it's cool that people actually came to read what I had to say (probably got angry since I ripped on the most popular way to save your seat in the library). However, it was such a bad example of writing that they probably think I'm a dumbass (justifiable).

Anyway, there would normally be a spike in entries to try to encourage all of the new readers to return, but I have a personal matter that came up. So, all of this new traffic is wasted forever. Which makes me sad. I'd like to have a commentator community on my blog.

UPDATE: The reason that Google Analytics rules is because I can see how people got to the site. TJ's Doubleplay is responsible for 76% of all referrals that have come to my site. God, my blog is insignificant compared to his (hers?).