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Topics - obamacon
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« on: September 28, 2007, 02:04:19 AM »
The goal is to post material that goes right up to the edge of taste but remains funny. The narrowest spread wins.
No Police Report Can Truly Capture My Love Of Drunk Driving
If you were to go by the public records alone, you'd get the wrong impression of me. You'd think that I was some kind of common lawbreaker who's had multiple run-ins with the authorities for operating motor vehicles under the influence of alcohol. You'd think I'm just some guy who goes out, gets plastered, stumbles to his car, and drives home like it's no big deal. Well, nothing could be further from the truth. No matter what the police reports say, I don't drive drunk. I love to drive drunk. I live to drive drunk. It's my passion.
Fact is, mere words could never describe the sheer exuberance I experience when I climb behind the wheel of the first car I find when I'm deeply intoxicated. Take this report, dated Oct. 31, 2003. It says they clocked me at 70 miles per hour in a residential zone on that chilly Halloween night. Well, from where I was sitting, it felt more like I was going 120, and it was awesome. I felt as free and full of life as those kids in their Frankenstein costumes.
It was one of those moments where it's you and two open roads, and you don't know which one to take, so you just let it all happen. Sure, I ran a few stop signs and clipped a few mirrors, but what good is paying for all that insurance if you never use it? The police may have gotten all the facts right, but where was the heart?
After they administered my Breathalyzer, they determined that I was drunk. They didn't need a test for that. When they came up to my window and asked me if I had been drinking, I said "Yes!" and pounded the steering wheel while howling at the moon to show them how alive I felt. And I meant it!
There are some emotions no police report could ever capture.
Oh yeah, how about July 2004, when they said I "failed to maintain lane position and crossed the yellow line before skidding along the guardrail to a complete standstill." Well, sure, that's the sterile way of saying it. What they didn't mention was the jolt of adrenaline that rushes through you as you wake up and see two bright headlights coming at you and you move at just the right moment, straddling that knife's edge between here and the hereafter. They also fail to mention how much I was cracking up when they finally got to me.
Or from May 2005: The report makes such a big deal over how I refused to take a field sobriety test, you'd think that I was Public Enemy No. 1. But why waste taxpayer money on proving that a man who just a minute earlier was singing, "I am so f-ing drunk, and I love it!" to the tune of Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It" is intoxicated? They had me recite the alphabet, and noted that I was unable to get beyond "G." Well, I didn't get to where I am today knowing what comes after G backwards. I got here by pounding three of anything over 60-proof and doing doughnuts in the state police headquarters parking lot.
They should have put down that the reason I was so mad was because they made me stop what was probably the best drive of my life. It was so invigorating! But instead they put it down as "attempted assault." No way. That police officer and I had a gentleman's disagreement over whether or not I would drive home. Nothing more. To insinuate otherwise is not only irresponsible, but f-ing lame.
Report after report, it's all the same: "Subject was swerving this or striking oncoming that and was belligerent and uncooperative when pulled over." Taken together, all you get is a man who endangers people's lives and should have his license revoked. But even if you added up all seven to nine reports, you'd never get close to the sheer, unparalleled ecstasy of throwing MGD cans out the window of a speeding vehicle as the stars and police helicopters streak overhead. I hope the next time they pull me over, the police get it right, so I can actually remember the details of another fantastic ride, and, God willing, one day share them with my children.
Should I drive drunk again? No. Will I drive drunk again? Of course. When drunk driving gets in your blood, you just have to heed the call.http://www.theonion.com/content/opinion/no_police_report_can_truly
« on: September 25, 2007, 11:07:36 PM »
Hard Case: Job Market
Wanes for U.S. Lawyers
Growth of Legal Sector
Lags Broader Economy;
Law Schools Proliferate
A law degree isn't necessarily a license to print money these days.
For graduates of elite law schools, prospects have never been better. Big law firms this year boosted their starting salaries to as high as $160,000. But the majority of law-school graduates are suffering from a supply-and-demand imbalance that's suppressing pay and job growth. The result: Graduates who don't score at the top of their class are struggling to find well-paying jobs to make payments on law-school debts that can exceed $100,000. Some are taking temporary contract work, reviewing documents for as little as $20 an hour, without benefits. And many are blaming their law schools for failing to warn them about the dark side of the job market.
[See More Data on Law School]1
The law degree that Scott Bullock gained in 2005 from Seton Hall University -- where he says he ranked in the top third of his class -- is a "waste," he says. Some former high-school friends are earning considerably more as plumbers and electricians than the $50,000-a-year Mr. Bullock is making as a personal-injury attorney in Manhattan. To boot, he is paying off $118,000 in law-school debt.
"Unfortunately, some find the practice of law is not for them," Seton Hall's associate dean, Kathleen Boozang, said through a spokeswoman. "However, it is our experience that a legal education is a tremendous asset for a variety of professional paths."
A slack in demand appears to be part of the problem. The legal sector, after more than tripling in inflation-adjusted growth between 1970 and 1987, has grown at an average annual inflation-adjusted rate of 1.2% since 1988, or less than half as fast as the broader economy, according to Commerce Department data.
[Law Blog]2 LAW BLOG
Join a discussion on the state of the legal market3.
Some practice areas have declined in recent years: Personal-injury and medical-malpractice cases have been undercut by state laws limiting class-action suits, out-of-state plaintiffs and payouts on damages. Securities class-action litigation has declined in part because of a buoyant stock market.
On the supply end, more lawyers are entering the work force, thanks in part to the accreditation of new law schools and an influx of applicants after the dot-com implosion earlier this decade. In the 2005-06 academic year, 43,883 Juris Doctor degrees were awarded, up from 37,909 for 2001-02, according to the American Bar Association. Universities are starting up more law schools in part for prestige but also because they are money makers. Costs are low compared with other graduate schools and classrooms can be large. Since 1995, the number of ABA-accredited schools increased by 11%, to 196.
Evidence of a squeezed market among the majority of private lawyers in the U.S., who work as sole practitioners or at small firms, is growing. A survey of about 650 Chicago lawyers published in the 2005 book "Urban Lawyers" found that between 1975 and 1995 the inflation-adjusted average income of the top 25% of earners, generally big-firm lawyers, grew by 22% -- while income for the other 75% actually dropped.
According to the Internal Revenue Service, the inflation-adjusted average income of sole practitioners has been flat since the mid-1980s. A recent survey showed that out of nearly 600 lawyers at firms of 10 lawyers or fewer in Indiana, wages for the majority only kept pace with inflation or dropped in real terms over the past five years.
The news isn't any better for the 14% of new lawyers who go into government or join public-interest firms. Inflation-adjusted starting salaries for graduates who go to work for public-interest firms or the government rose 4% and 8.6%, respectively, between 1994 and 2006, according to the National Association for Law Placement, which aggregates graduate surveys from law schools. That compares with at least an 11% jump in the median family income during the same period, according to the Census Bureau. Graduates who become in-house company lawyers, about 9%, have fared better: Their salaries rose by nearly 14% during the same period.
Many students "simply cannot earn enough income after graduation to support the debt they incur," wrote Richard Matasar, dean of New York Law School, in 2005, concluding that, "We may be reaching the end of a golden era for law schools."
Meanwhile, the prospects for big-firm lawyers are growing richer. While offering robust minimum salaries, those firms are paying astronomical amounts to their stars.
Now, debate is intensifying among law-school academics over the integrity of law schools' marketing campaigns. Defenders argue that the legal profession always has been openly and proudly a meritocracy: Top entrance-exam scores help win admittance to top schools where top students win jobs at top firms. Even the system that is used to issue law-school grades -- a curve that pits student against student -- reflects the law profession's competitiveness.
David Burcham, dean of Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, considered second-tier, says the school makes no guarantees to students that they will obtain jobs. He says it is problematic that big firms only interview the top of the class, "but that's the nature of the employment market; it's never been different."
For the majority of students and alumni, he says, Loyola "turned out to be a good investment."
Yet economic data suggest that prospects have grown bleaker for all but the top students, and now a number of law-school professors are calling for the distribution of more-accurate employment information. Incoming students are "mesmerized by what's happening in big firms, but clueless about what's going on in the bottom half of the profession," says Richard Sander, a law professor at the University of California-Los Angeles who has studied the legal job market.
"Prospective students need solid comparative data on employment outcomes, [but] very few law schools provide such data," adds Andrew Morriss, a law professor at the University of Illinois who has studied the market for new lawyers.
Students entering law school have little way of knowing how tight a job market they might face. The only employment data that many prospective students see comes from school-promoted surveys that provide a far-from-complete portrait of graduate experiences. Tulane University, for example, reports to U.S. News & World Report magazine, which publishes widely watched annual law-school rankings, that its law-school graduates entering the job market in 2005 had a median salary of $135,000. But that is based on a survey that only 24% of that year's graduates completed, and those who did so likely represent the cream of the class, a Tulane official concedes.
On its Web site, the school currently reports an average starting salary of $96,356 for graduates in private practice but doesn't include what percentage of graduates reported salaries for the survey.
"It's within most individuals' nature to keep that information private, unless it's a high amount," says Carlos Dávila-Caballero, assistant dean for career development at Tulane, who adds that his office tells prospective students to use the median figure as a guide because starting salaries vary widely.
« on: September 24, 2007, 06:17:32 PM »
Of those who start out on the PI track I'm going to wager that 30% will come to their senses by graduation.
« on: September 24, 2007, 01:06:29 AM »
What was your impression of the first episode?
« on: September 23, 2007, 02:43:26 AM »
« on: September 22, 2007, 12:12:21 AM »
That is, do you generally see the legal system as reflective of how you think the country should be run or do you have two (or more) separate sets of principles?
« on: September 19, 2007, 02:45:00 AM »
This dovetails rather nicely with the NY Times piece last weekend
Most Science Studies
Appear to Be Tainted
By Sloppy Analysis
September 14, 2007; Page B1
We all make mistakes and, if you believe medical scholar John Ioannidis, scientists make more than their fair share. By his calculations, most published research findings are wrong.
Dr. Ioannidis is an epidemiologist who studies research methods at the University of Ioannina School of Medicine in Greece and Tufts University in Medford, Mass. In a series of influential analytical reports, he has documented how, in thousands of peer-reviewed research papers published every year, there may be so much less than meets the eye.
These flawed findings, for the most part, stem not from fraud or formal misconduct, but from more mundane misbehavior: miscalculation, poor study design or self-serving data analysis. "There is an increasing concern that in modern research, false findings may be the majority or even the vast majority of published research claims," Dr. Ioannidis said. "A new claim about a research finding is more likely to be false than true."
The hotter the field of research the more likely its published findings should be viewed skeptically, he determined.
Take the discovery that the risk of disease may vary between men and women, depending on their genes. Studies have prominently reported such sex differences for hypertension, schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis, as well as lung cancer and heart attacks. In research published last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. Ioannidis and his colleagues analyzed 432 published research claims concerning gender and genes.
Upon closer scrutiny, almost none of them held up. Only one was replicated.
Statistically speaking, science suffers from an excess of significance. Overeager researchers often tinker too much with the statistical variables of their analysis to coax any meaningful insight from their data sets. "People are messing around with the data to find anything that seems significant, to show they have found something that is new and unusual," Dr. Ioannidis said.
In the U. S., research is a $55-billion-a-year enterprise that stakes its credibility on the reliability of evidence and the work of Dr. Ioannidis strikes a raw nerve. In fact, his 2005 essay "Why Most Published Research Findings Are False" remains the most downloaded technical paper that the journal PLoS Medicine has ever published.
"He has done systematic looks at the published literature and empirically shown us what we know deep inside our hearts," said Muin Khoury, director of the National Office of Public Health Genomics at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "We need to pay more attention to the replication of published scientific results."
Every new fact discovered through experiment represents a foothold in the unknown. In a wilderness of knowledge, it can be difficult to distinguish error from fraud, sloppiness from deception, eagerness from greed or, increasingly, scientific conviction from partisan passion. As scientific findings become fodder for political policy wars over matters from stem-cell research to global warming, even trivial errors and corrections can have larger consequences.
Still, other researchers warn not to fear all mistakes. Error is as much a part of science as discovery. It is the inevitable byproduct of a search for truth that must proceed by trial and error. "Where you have new areas of knowledge developing, then the science is going to be disputed, subject to errors arising from inadequate data or the failure to recognize new matters," said Yale University science historian Daniel Kevles. Conflicting data and differences of interpretation are common.
To root out mistakes, scientists rely on each other to be vigilant. Even so, findings too rarely are checked by others or independently replicated. Retractions, while more common, are still relatively infrequent. Findings that have been refuted can linger in the scientific literature for years to be cited unwittingly by other researchers, compounding the errors.
Stung by frauds in physics, biology and medicine, research journals recently adopted more stringent safeguards to protect at least against deliberate fabrication of data. But it is hard to admit even honest error. Last month, the Chinese government proposed a new law to allow its scientists to admit failures without penalty. Next week, the first world conference on research integrity convenes in Lisbon.
Overall, technical reviewers are hard-pressed to detect every anomaly. On average, researchers submit about 12,000 papers annually just to the weekly peer-reviewed journal Science. Last year, four papers in Science were retracted. A dozen others were corrected.
No one actually knows how many incorrect research reports remain unchallenged.
Earlier this year, informatics expert Murat Cokol and his colleagues at Columbia University sorted through 9.4 million research papers at the U.S. National Library of Medicine published from 1950 through 2004 in 4,000 journals. By raw count, just 596 had been formally retracted, Dr. Cokol reported.
"The correction isn't the ultimate truth either," Prof. Kevles said.http://online.wsj.com/article_print/SB118972683557627104.html
NYT Mag article: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/16/magazine/16epidemiology-t.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
« on: September 18, 2007, 09:04:18 AM »
« on: September 15, 2007, 03:21:23 AM »
Also, is it racist to exaggerate them?
« on: September 14, 2007, 12:21:58 AM »
Radio frequencies help burn salt water
Mon Sep 10, 5:35 PM ET
An Erie cancer researcher has found a way to burn salt water, a novel invention that is being touted by one chemist as the "most remarkable" water science discovery in a century.
John Kanzius happened upon the discovery accidentally when he tried to desalinate seawater with a radio-frequency generator he developed to treat cancer. He discovered that as long as the salt water was exposed to the radio frequencies, it would burn.
The discovery has scientists excited by the prospect of using salt water, the most abundant resource on earth, as a fuel.
Rustum Roy, a Penn State University chemist, has held demonstrations at his State College lab to confirm his own observations.
The radio frequencies act to weaken the bonds between the elements that make up salt water, releasing the hydrogen, Roy said. Once ignited, the hydrogen will burn as long as it is exposed to the frequencies, he said.
The discovery is "the most remarkable in water science in 100 years," Roy said.
"This is the most abundant element in the world. It is everywhere," Roy said. "Seeing it burn gives me the chills."
Roy will meet this week with officials from the Department of Energy and the Department of Defense to try to obtain research funding.
The scientists want to find out whether the energy output from the burning hydrogen — which reached a heat of more than 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit — would be enough to power a car or other heavy machinery.
"We will get our ideas together and check this out and see where it leads," Roy said. "The potential is huge."http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070910/ap_on_sc/burning_seawater_1&printer=1;_ylt=AhA4jhh1mq7tZ.srEPzQ6uNxieAA
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