Passed the bar exam
I found out yesterday that I passed the District of Columbia bar exam. Needless to say, this is a huge relief (especially after coming up a few points short last year on New York's exam), and I'm looking forward to settling down in DC (at least for now). I owe my parents, big time, for letting me use their house in Raleigh as my war room this winter.
In other good news, St. John's, my law school alma mater, jumped ten spots to #70 in the new U.S. News and World Report survey. It is still unclear why the 2nd Tier reshuffles so dramatically every year, but if anything, this probably reflects the fact that the schools in this range are closely matched (seven schools are actually tied for #70).
If you look at the number of major firms which hold on-campus interviews at St. John's, compared to other schools in the second tier, it is almost surprising the school isn't ranked higher. I have a lot of friends I graduated with who are working at major NYC firms. And the school is doing all the right things in terms of expanding its course offerings. For example, I took National Security and the Law (with Prof. Borgen, whose classes I recommend highly) during my third year, and one of our assignments was to role-play as Defense Department employees in the aftermath of a hypothetical terror attack. We were judged by a former federal prosecutor and a former Clinton administration official.
So while I would say that the rankings are kind of unpredictable, and shouldn't be used as your main factor in choosing a school, it wouldn't surprise me to see St. John's move up to somewhere in the 50's or 60's during the next few years (assuming that there is some method to U.S. News's madness).
Green movement takes on an olive hue
Doesn't Earth Day seem a lot more ominous now than it did back in the 90's? Google thinks so, too - this is the latest of their brilliant day-specific logo designs.
To mark Earth Day, here are couple of interesting articles from the last week highlighting the environment's impact on national security, including a new report by former U.S. military officers on the strategic impact of climate change (which envisions floods resulting from the sea-level rising as "potentially destabilizing South Asia countries of Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Vietnam"), and a like-minded article by Thomas Friedman about reframing environmental issues so that "Green is the new red, white and blue."
I've also linked to an old Fortune magazine standby from several years back, "The Pentagon's Weather Nightmare." Warning: that article, and the Pentagon report it is based on, are easily the scariest things I've ever read about the climate change threat. These guys make "An Inconvenient Truth" seem like a lighthearted, feel-good movie in comparison. Here's an excerpt from the report: "As famine, disease, and weather-related disasters strike due to the abrupt climate change, many countries' needs will exceed their carrying capacity. This will create a sense of desperation, which is likely to lead to offensive aggression to reclaim balance . . . When carrying capacity drops suddenly, civilization is faced with new challenges which today seem unimaginable."
"Military: Global Warming may Cause War" [Military.com]
PDF of the think tank report described in the above article [CNA.org]
Thomas Friedman: "The Power of Green" [New York Times]
David Stipp: "The Pentagon's Weather Nightmare" [CNNMoney.com]
PDF of the Pentagon report described in the above article [Environmental Defense]
Massacre in Blacksburg
I don't know what to say, except that the extended Virginia Tech family is in everyone's thoughts and prayers tonight. The mood in DC today was eerie, because so many people in the area have some kind of connection to Virginia Tech. As word of the shooting spread this morning, everyone at my temp job was prefacing the news with "Do you have any friends or family at Virginia Tech?"
I don't, but I have several friends who went there, and I want them to know that we are thinking about them and all of their friends. This photo of a vigil in Blacksburg, from Andrew Sullivan's blog (by Win McNamee/Getty Images), is one of the only comforting things I've seen all day.
Imus and New York's dirty little secret
Imagine what the media coverage during the last few weeks would have been like if Don Imus had spent the last twenty-eight years broadcasting out of Atlanta, instead of New York. We would have been bombarded with stereotypes about how everyone in the South is racist, and with self-serving comparisons of the North and South via the woefully simplistic "Red State/Blue State" dichotomy. Instead, because Imus lives in Manhattan, the media controversy over his comments about the Rutgers women's basketball team has had a narrow focus on the man himself. In fact, I don't think I've come across a single column talking about where Imus lives, and whether comments like his are commonplace in New York and its suburbs.The real lesson the media should be taking away from the Imus controversy - and from the recent Michael Richards ("Kramer" from Seinfeld) controversy - is that racism has no geographic boundaries, and that it is as much of a problem in New York as it is anywhere. I lived in New York City for six years, and I can honestly say that I believe that racism is as common in Big Apple as it is in my hometown of Raleigh, and just might be more common. Don't think that I'm giving the South, or the Tar Heel State, a free pass - to the contrary, I constantly encourage everyone I know to read Tim Tyson's Blood Done Sign My Name, a shockingly painful reminder of how bad things were in my father's hometown just a few decades ago.But that's the difference - the South, or at least "Our Other South" (to borrow a term from Tyson's book), has spent the last few decades trying to face up to the racism in its past, and trying to be better than that. North Carolina's state Senate officially apologized for slavery and Jim Crow last week, and while it's definitely fair to say that it's about time, the recent trend of official apologies shows that racism is something white Southerners are still very concerned about.In contrast, New Yorkers often have absolutely no filter when it comes to making awkward, and even offensive, comments about race. Once, my close friend Will, who is white, was visiting me in Brooklyn, and we drove out to one of the beaches on Long Island for the afternoon. He was wearing a Duke shirt, and when we walked into a pizza place, the guy behind the counter said, "Duke, that's in Durham . . . [and then, disapprovingly] lotta blacks there." (Really? There are a lot of black people in Durham? Thanks for clearing that up - as Triangle natives we had no idea that Durham had a large black population.) What the guy in the pizza place didn't know was that Will's wife (then his fiancee) is black. He shrugged off the comment, but as soon as we left, he turned to me and said "wow, now I understand what you were saying about how New Yorkers are about race."During law school, I took a course titled "Race and the Law." Not surprisingly, much of the course dealt with government-sanctioned discrimination against blacks over the course of American history. After the course, one guy kept coming up to me and accusing me of trying to be politically correct, and trying to kiss up to the teacher, for expressing liberal views about civil rights during the course. On three or four occasions, he came up to me out of the blue and said things like "now that I know what blacks complain about, I hate them more than I already did." (What, like slavery? Jim Crow? The well-documented discrimination practices that existed in employment, banking, and almost every other aspect of life?!) As you can imagine, I was shocked. But experiences like these are the reason I wasn't shocked when I heard what Imus said about the Rutgers women's basketball team last week.