Getting into Google+

I recently acquired a Google+ account. I think its a nice meld of features from Facebook and Twitter. The idea of being able to follow people and place them into circles where I can hold different discussions is great. This avoids the problem of posting geeky things that my WPI friends enjoy but my fellow law students do not care about or vice-versa. The downside is that we may be creating more of a filter bubble than we previously had. I think the one nice thing about facebook was the idea that it forced us to see each other as full people instead of merely a co-worker or merely a classmate. We may be mitigating the problem of employers possibly seeing the pictures of us drinking but we are not solving the problem of employers expecting their employees to not have fun or be social people outside their jobs. The greater transparency championed by Zuckerburg may be doomed.

I still have yet to explore all the features of Google+. It does not have all my friends from facebook or twitter in it. I wish there was a way to import them. When I discussed this with my friends they suggested that it was unnecessary because everyone was already on facebook. That just demonstrates the power of incumbency and defaults. I do not see Google+ as having additional cost other than the time to reform my contact lists. It’d be nice to have a feature to import my history from facebook, twitter, etc. for archive purposes but unfortunately those companies do not have that option.

"I Used to Believe That"

I was struck today by a comment I overheard in the student lounge in the law school. One of the ladies in the room saw Obama talking on the screen on of his riffs about hope and she quipped that she could not believe she used to believe that. Then her accomplices proceeded to denigrate the President. While I understand people are disappointed in Obama I do not think they are thinking about the entire situation. They fail to consider and concede the Obama successes such as student loan reform and healthcare reform. Many are also unable to articulate any specific complaints instead making a more general criticism of Obama not doing well. Even when they do make the specific criticisms they do not seem to understand the political system and how it works. Unfortunately people are not bothering to dig deeper into these issues.

Overall it shocks me how easily the media is able to shape the mindsets of the people. Cynicism seems to serve as a replacement for critical thinking. Since people see more stories about corruption than the things the government succeeds at they assume its corrupt. The thing that really drives home the ignorance of many is this chart about the percentage of people participating in government social programs that do not believe they are.

Walking the Reservoir

One of Connecticut’s not-so-hidden gems is MDC Reservoir #6 in West Hartford. It is a little out of the way but the 20 minute drive was worth it. The weather was warm but with a breeze it was quite comfortable. I walked it with a high school friend of mine and we just kept exploring. Some of the trail was more beat up than other parts, but I did notice that they were doing some work around the entrance. The walk makes for a nice change of pace from going to the gym. Also I enjoy observing some of the wildlife about the trail. The last time I was there we encountered this turtle and watched with amusement as it attempted to walk to the other side and crawl a somewhat large hill.

Between walking the reservoir and going for a boat ride on the Connecticut River I’ve come to realize how enjoyable exploring some of the nature in the state is. What are your favorite spots?

I'll See the Movie but not in 3-D

Since college I have curtailed my movie theater trips. The prices have gone up and most absurdly I recently paid $15 for a ticket to see TRON in 3-D. I cannot understand why the theaters and movie producers believe that this is worth the extra price. The 3-D glasses are silly and the 3-D added little to the enjoyment of the movie itself. So I have since stuck with the standard two-dimensional experience.

I also think social networking has influenced my movie seeing activity. When the latest Transformers movie came out I did not expect a whole lot but was going to see it. After seeing all my friends roast the movie on their facebook and twitter statuses I decided against it. It seems that Hollywood is content to milk these franchises without putting any real quality into them. Luckily by waiting a week or two I can avoid wasting my cash.

Am I Qualified to Grade Write-On?

Every year first-year students at law schools across the country participate in a ritual called write-on. I did it last summer and as a result accepted an offer to be a member of the Connecticut Journal of International Law. The next round is in and as a rising third-year student I am responsible for grading some of the packets. I think that is a joke.

Our educational system has shortchanged and underrated the ability of students to write well. In college I got As on most of my written work because professors were grading it next to papers written by students that could not properly distinguish between a singular and plural noun. In law school there is little writing. The writing I do for class, with a few exceptions, has little useful feedback. In theory law journal membership is supposed to remedy this deficiency by offering an opportunity to hone these skills. It fails miserably at this. We spend our time editing the format of the citations below the line instead of the quality of the writing above it. We are required to write a student note but receive no feedback on it. Finally our submission for membership to the journal garners no grade or feedback. The only acknowledgement of its quality is the offer of membership we receive.

As someone who has gone through a year of law school and read numerous court cases I suppose I am somewhat qualified to judge the papers. However I do not believe I am the best candidate. Having never done it before I have no idea what to look for. Even the rubric we are given is unclear. Should a misplaced comma count as a full point off in the grammar section? If there is an especially egregious use of a semi-colon is that worth a two-point deduction? I suppose I can just make it up as I go along. Meanwhile the first-year students reading this can rest in peace knowing that their write-on grades are not necessarily correlated to the quality of writing.

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This work by Matt Zagaja is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.