I am angry. It is because of this article. Nearly seventy students at a prestigious school in New York were found to have engaged in cheating and the school is giving them a second chance. I am all for second chances but I think if we treat cheating too lightly it breeds a culture of corruption. We need only to look at the actions of athletes from the steroid cheating scandal, or the recent Donovan scandal, or even more scary the LIBOR scandal. Everyday we wake-up and find out that someone new has cheated. We have been exposed to so much cheating that we have grown cynical and are unsurprised when it happens. Even worse, we have grown to accept it.
It is sad that the idea of being honest is old fashioned. Lawyers are not immune to lapses in honesty either. Law schools were found to juice their scores in order to game the US News and World Report rankings. The only reason these things are discovered is because there are people brave enough to expose it. But exposure can only fix so much after the fact. There is no value to exposing corruption if we do not fix the cause. That is we live in a world where if you cheat you will be slapped on the wrist but not deprived of your ill gotten gains. Financiers keep their millions, politicians still run for office, and students remain at their prestigious schools. If we are to rebuild faith in our establishments we must treat these offenses with the gravity of their seriousness.
We need leaders and citizens that teach and expect integrity. It seems more and more we are coming to expect less and less of each other. I cannot stop a baseball player from playing baseball but I don’t have to attend his games. I cannot stop a politician or his operatives from taking bribes but I don’t have to support him. These are the kinds of things that our teachers can teach our children. We can strive to be the better people and do the better things. However if we don’t start rewarding more honesty and punishing the cheaters, then I fear we may never get there.
The lack of blog updates is due mostly to my intense studying for the Massachusetts and Connecticut Bar examinations. Tomorrow is the BarBri midterm. A lot of my classmates have adopted the style of cramming before their tests. I’ve been steadily keeping to the paced program. I know that my brain cannot absorb large amounts of information at once and retain it. So a last minute cram is not that helpful. The way you learn from BarBri is failure. You get questions wrong in certain areas, you find your weaknesses and you fix them. In law school we learn to fail and fail quickly. Everyone starts out thinking they’ll get a 4.0 and be at the top of the class. Turns out that doesn’t work when you are on a curve. However since you are working so hard you just pick yourself up and continue. You don’t get on the journal you want, you keep going with another one. You don’t get the job you applied for? You apply for more. You get a bad class grade? You learn from it then you move on. I’ve had a few bad practice problem sets, some really good ones, and many that sit in the middle. So I’m not terribly worried. No matter how anyone does on the practice, by putting in the work they can do better on the final. Failure is just part of the process.
I thought that this interview with UConn President Susan Herbst was exciting. I’ve been critical of the tuition raises at UConn especially in light of the current economic climate. However after President Herbst explained that many undergraduates were unable to complete their degrees in time and therefore were paying more I think that its more justifiable than it used to be. Herbst made a case for ambition and noted that here we have an uneasy relationship with it. Having spent four years in Massachusetts I think she managed to hit the nail on the head when it comes to our respective cultures.
Yet there are some who fly in the face of this stereotype. Look, for example, at Susan Bysiewicz. She is relentlessly ambitious. In some ways I wonder whether Connecticut loses out when individuals like her are too ambitious, or are not ambitious in the right way. Recently the state legislature lost a lot of talent when Governor Malloy pulled people like Mike Lawlor and Andrew MacDonald into his administration. If ambitious people like Susan Bysiewicz (who did once serve there) or even Linda McMahon or Ned Lamont ran for the state legislature they could probably do a lot of good there. The time and resources they could dedicate to serving in the state legislature along with their connections would give them a huge advantage, spread the center of power in the chamber, and maybe even be a stepping stone towards some of the reforms suggested by Colin McEnroe.
I have been a fan of Soundcloud for a while now. Basically it is a YouTube for audio content. The iPhone application allows you to record audio and upload it directly to your account. Poking around it you can find some interesting interviews. Robert Scoble has technology related interviews with people involved in funding start-ups. However I especially enjoyed the discussion of the HBO Game Change movie, which I have embedded below.
Game Change is a book that chronicles the 2008 election between Barack Obama and John McCain. The movie is based on the portions of the book that tell the story of the selection of Sarah Palin as Vice-President. It’s worth the watch if you are a political junkie. You get a better behind the scenes impression of the campaign than most TV reporting provided and learn tidbits that you may have missed. Both the book and movie are a bit on the gossipy side which is a positive if you enjoy stories and character development, but might be frustrating to people who view negative treatment as character assassination. Palin was one of the latter and she started criticizing the movie before its release. However after watching it I tend to view it as fair and in many ways I felt more sympathetic towards Palin than I did before watching the movie.
The thing that amazes me the most is how many people that own iPhones I can casually ask whether they have enabled iCloud and they say they haven’t. Sometimes they are not even sure what iCloud is. iCloud is Apple’s free service for storing backups of your stuff online. By enabling it you save the space on your hard drive and you no longer have to worry about what happens if your iPhone dies. So far I’ve had two die on me and after signing into iCloud it took an hour to download all my data and then it was as if my entire phone was restored from the dead. No extra time spent configuring or do anything else.
Soon additional features will be added to iCloud. You’ll soon be able to use it to share photo albums and also to sync the tabs in your web browser between your desktop and iPad or iPhone. They are also adding more features for saving and synchronizing documents. If you are not using iCloud you are missing one of the most delightful perks of using a Mac.
The one thing that Apple has yet to do is enable any kind of streaming of iTunes music on the iPhone. However this void has been filled by cloud music services like Spotify. If you are like me and do not subscribe to Spotify or iTunes Match, Amazon just came out with its own iOS app. With it you can store your music collection in their cloud and then stream it to your iPhone from anywhere. Extremely handy if you are running out of space or have a large music collection.
The only downside to the cloud is most of the services are freemium. In my case this means I have content stored across various cloud providers based on features. So far none of the providers have endeavored to provide a comprehensive set of features (music play/streaming, full computer backup, mobile backup, etc.) so my loyalties are divided. If you want to try out cloud services I suggest Dropbox, Amazon Music, and Google.