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April 29, 2006


The LA Times has an article about a cheese called burrata. It's one of the things I remember most vividly about the culinary extravaganza that was my 2L summer in Chicago....

April 23, 2006

Overheard in the C-shop

Sitting in the C-Shop at the University of Chicago yesterday,* I overheard a man talking to his son and daughter as they walked past my table looking at all the gothic architecture and at the old framed postcards on the walls. The kids must have been around twelve. Their father was telling them: "if you work hard and apply yourselves, you could study here. You could have all this."

Listen up, kiddies. It can be really, really fun.


* I'm in Hyde Park over the weekend to hunt down an apartment for next year. This place is great. I still don't understand why so many people claim not to like the neighborhood.

April 19, 2006

PowerPoint: Less is More

On the interview trail for an emergency medicine residency spot, I was hit with a cold realization. My three blissful years of law school are coming to an end. It's time to go back to the world of medicine, and this means returning to an arena in which virtually every formal presentation is likely to be accompanied by PowerPoint slides.

I'm yawning with anticipation.

At the University of Michigan Law School, professors lecture with all the lights on, and they almost never use PowerPoint. This might surprise all those academic physicians out there who don't think it's possible to convey information without dimming the lights and firing up the projector. Dispite what many doctors seem to think, PowerPoint is not a required teaching tool. My roughly 400 or so classmates who've learned a lot of law over the past three years can all testify to that.

Lawyers do, occasionally, use PowerPoint in the courtroom. But the good ones don't let PowerPoint use them. TaxProfBlog has a post about how trial lawyer W. Mark Lanier -- the guy who persuaded a Texas jury to award his client $252 million in Vioxx suit against Merck -- hired a guy named Cliff Atkinson to help him with his PowerPoint slides. Atkinson is trying to do something about what he calls "PowerPoint fatigue" and TaxProf calls "the deadening sameness of Microsoft Corp.'s commonly used presentation software." This kind of language should rings a bell for a lot of emergency physicians and residents out there (for my sake).

My only worry is that Atkinson might not be quite radical enough. Sure, he talks a tough game. On page 14 of his 5 ways to reduce powerpoint overload (pdf), Atkinson says:

When you think you’re impressing people by putting everything you know on your PowerPoint slide, you’re actually doing the opposite by shutting down their cognitive processing. And when people are sitting there bored, they’re likely not thinking positive thoughts. When it comes to PowerPoint, less is more. . . ." (Emphasis mine.)
Atkinson is absolutely right, which is why I wish he'd gone on to say, "hey, do you ever think of just getting up and talking? Without any PowerPoint at all?" But I suppose that wouldn't be great for his consulting business' bottom line. Even though he says that less PowerPoint is more, Atkinson doesn't actually advise us to use less PowerPoint. And that's kind of sad and wimpy.

April 18, 2006

Not dead yet! Just napping!

I haven't been posting on this blog much recently, but that's only because I'm taking a little break to wrap up law school loose ends.

Like, for example, writing seminar papers. I finished one today, and I only have one more to go.

In the meantime, I've been thinking about adopting a Latin motto for myself. How about:

disce quasi semper victurus vive quasi cras moriturus: "Learn as if always going to live; live as if tomorrow going to die."

Some other candidates are:

  • hic sunt ursi "here there are bears"
  • cygnus inter anates "swan among ducks"
  • si peccasse negamus fallimur et nulla est in nobis veritas "if we refuse to make a mistake, we are deceived, and there's no truth in us"
  • quidquid Latine dictum sit altum viditur "whatever has been said in Latin seems deep"

April 07, 2006

Go, Heidi!

Congratulations to Heidi, who's one of this year's Henry M. Bates Memorial Scholarship recipients.

The award couldn't go to a more deserving person. I'm proud of her, happy for her, and wholly unsurprised by her -- at least in this one small area. Go, H!

April 04, 2006

The best argument against prosecuting midwives is...

I'm not one of those people who thinks that watching a baby get born is such a miraculous and transformative experience -- I'm just not that transfixed. So I suppose it isn't surprising that the debate over home births and midwives doesn't matter much to me one way or the other. Feminism, the medical establishment, the miracle of birth. . . yawn. If the state made home births illegal, or if they went to the other extreme and stopped regulating midwives altogether, I'd get along either way.

What really gets my goat, though, is that a mom or a newborn baby would encounter an unexpected problem and because of some yawner of a law, not get the emergency care that they need. This is why the prize for the best argument against prosecuting unlicensed midwives goes to:

"The current law, Ms. Welch said, drives midwives underground. "I don't want to have a midwife hesitate to take a woman to the hospital because she is afraid she will be arrested," she said.

April 02, 2006

And the most conservative circuit is . . .

Here's a simple test for ranking the federal circuit courts of appeal according to how liberal or conservative they are:

Step 1: Shepardize Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003) on Lexis. Or use Westlaw if you prefer Pepsi.

Step 2: Count how many times each circuit follows Lawrence. Count how many times each circuit distinguishes Lawrence.

The most liberal circuit is the one that follows Lawrence the most. That'd be the Ninth Circuit, following Lawrence twice and distinguishing Lawrence once. The most conservative circuit is the Fourth, distinguishing Lawrence three times and not ever following it.

I know, I know; you're going to say that it's silly to draw any conclusions from such a small number of cases, and that the value of my little test depends completely on what you mean by "liberal" and "conservative." To which I say, no test is perfect -- but at least mine is simple.