Law School Gunners


In my law school class, there were many people who were smart and well-liked and also spoke up in class. There were also people who talked for the sake of hearing their own voice, belittled others openly, and were generally hated by all except other gunners.

Some examples of "gunner" behavior":
In my Federal income tax class, there was one gunner who delighted in coming up with increasingly convoluted hypotheticals to try and stump the prof.

There were a group of gunners on law review whose pre exam routine was telling each other (rather loudly) that they were smarter and better than everyone else in class and that there was no reason to worry about getting a bad grade.

In my Con Law class, some of the Federalist Society douchebags would debate the prof on cases like Roe v. Wade and Brown v. Board of Education, where the holdings went against their personal beliefs.

One of the TA's in my first year legal writing class had attracted the attentions of a gunner. In a move I'm sure he found charming, he would corner her and then grill her about upper level classes he was thinking of taking. It got so bad that a few of us felt compelled to rescue her whenever we saw this happening. She always effusively thanked whoever got her away.

Finally, at my school, there's a special part of graduation where the graduates of every school walk the campus to the football stadium. The valedictorian of each class held a flag denoting which school they were representing. Everyone usually cheers for their flag bearer. Our flag bearer was so hated and so obnoxious that only his own family cheered him when he was announced as the law school's flag bearer. To this day, I do not feel bad about this.

So, it takes more than simple smarts and engagement with the material. You have to possess a sociopathic malice and disdain for your fellow students while maintaining an unjustifiably high level of self regard.

File Under: 

Rise of the Stupid


The stupid have been able to rise in the GOP because of the ease of communication today.

Back in say, the 1970s, I imagine that everyone knew one or two people who was angry about society and stupid. But, the fact that these people were stupid and/or lazy precluded them from commiserating with each other because of the barriers to communication. Stupid people are not articulate, and thus wouldn't be the types to converse with each other by letter. Finding the local KKK chapter or others like themselves took some time and effort.

Enter the Internet. In the beginning of the Internet age, it was still tough for the stupid to use it to communicate, since the equipment was hard to use and often expensive.

Next comes the web browser. The stupid are now able to check out websites and other porn. But the barrier to communicate is still high, since content creation required some HTML know how or at least a familiarity with Usenet.

Finally, blogs come on to the scene. The stupid are now able to at least write rambling, incoherent nonsense on sites like Xanga and Blogspot. Even though the stupid are not terribly good at writing, the ability to see each others' writings in cyberspace emboldens them. There are others like them. They no longer have to endure the ridicule of their intellectual betters. It is easy now to surround themselves with each other, while maintaining that they're not stupid, but persecuted.

Enter YouTube and the barrier to entry is completely removed. Now anyone with a flip cam can upload their idiotic thoughts and have others like them say, "Hey, that's totally right! Climate change is bogus! Obama is a Muslim! I knew it!"

The Reagan-era operatives see these people and think to themselves, "If only we could mobilize these people." They create Fox News. They help raise the Tea Party. But then, in an unanticipated turn, the stupid take over. They decide that their agendas of extreme social conservatism, hatred of success and wealth, and anti-science are right, by God! They are unhappy that their time in the limelight might end soon, just as the getting got good.

So that is why we have Santorum emerging as a serious candidate. That's why we have elected officials trying to pass "state rape" laws to prevent abortion. A drubbing of these people's candidate will allow the Republican establishment to flush out these pests. While they'll never go away, the stupid can and will be relegated to the margins again.

Even though I am a moderate Republican, I hope that Santorum gets the nomination. When he is smacked down, the stupid can go back to a life of deserved ridicule. It's the only hope people like me have at this point.

File Under: 



The one thing my parents taught me was exactly how interest works. So, when I got to college in the late 90's, I avoided the credit card company tables like the plague. My friends and dorm mates snapped up the hats, t-shirts, and knick knacks along with the credit cards they were subsidized by.

One night, I'm sitting in my friend's room and notice that he has a new CD changer. On top of that, he's ordering pizza for the third straight night. We came from similar economic backgrounds and I was skint, so I asked him how he was making all this dough. "Oh man, I just charge it, and then pay $20 on it each month." I began to tell him that he was only paying interest, and if he's only making $20 payments, he'll be paying that card off until he's 30. His face suddenly fell, kind of like when a dog figures out that the steak you've just made isn't for him.

This guy, along with my some of my other pals, had to take on a second job and cut way back on everything to help pay down that stereo and all that pizza. I was still broke, but at least the money I made went to my bank account and Playstation games.

File Under: 

Mr. Belvedere


When Mr. Belvedere first started airing in Saudi Arabia, it enthralled me. (Note: I was 8 at the time.) Here's this English dude who seems like he did alright for himself in England. He moves to America and is no better than a common servant. Plus, he knew the Royal Family, corresponded with British officials, and seemed to possess things that only a rich person could afford. It made me think that America was a place where any immigrant would be forced to live in servant quarters and serve his new American master. Which was significant because the next year, my dad announced we were moving to the USA.

Also, didn't he own a Faberge egg?

File Under: 

NCS Pearson


I spent a couple of weeks at one of NCS Pearson's grading warehouses back in 2001.

When I got there, it was just as was described in the article: I had a one day orientation and then was given sample essays to grade to see that I could follow the rubric.

Once in the grading center, we were told that at minimum, we needed to grade 8 packets of tests. Each packet had 18-25 essays, give or take. For the first couple of days, I really bore down and read through each essay and tried to justify my grade. I was consistently off on my grades.

So, I decided to judge the tests based solely on the first sentence, the last sentence, and how many paragraphs were in between. Voila! My eight packets were usually done before lunch, and commendations were being handed to me for my speed and accuracy. Most days, I sat around with a packet after lunch and took the whole afternoon to grade it while I wrote out outlines for short stories on a notepad. On the day I decided to see how many packets I could get done if I applied myself, I got through twenty two of them.

File Under: 

Canadian Disappointment


I have a name similar to the attorney who represented Omar Khadr.

One day, I got a call from a Canadian journalist. He started asking me about this case, as I thought, "Wow, must be a slow news day up North." As he continued our interview, it dawned on me that this man actually thought I was Khadr's attorney.

I began to laugh and told him that he had the wrong guy. He sounded disappointed, in that chipper but slightly downbeat Canadian way, and bit me farewell. I hope his career has progressed since then.

File Under: