Thursday, September 15, 2011

Chapter 9: Trouble That Starts With A 'T'

It's hard writing sports fiction for a sport you've never even played. Not as hard as guessing what this year's CO Halloween event is going to be like, but harder to wing. Also, "gravure idols?" You Japanese are strange.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Beginning With A Bi-Modal Distribution

Three things: One for the youth, born full of hope/One for the blogger, indiscreetly wise/One for the prof, at the end of his rope/One post to join them all, where the shadow lies.

First, the oldest nephew blew through Kitsilano on Sunday on his way to Point Grey and the heartstoppingly beautiful campus of the University of British Columbia.
From Why? Because this is one of  the  great things you see on an Alaskan cruise. Book yours today!

That's 29 years, give or take a day, after I did the same thing. I've every reason to hope that he'll do better than me (first year flunk-out become History PhD working at a grocery store), but if you have a somewhat underemployed failed-intellectual uncle living in a garret,* you better damn well know that he's going to be looking out for you as best he can. And while hitherto failed-intellectuals have been content to observe the world, the point, rather, is to change it. By posting on their blogs. Tremble, ye kings and potentates, for I wield Blogspot, and am over-caffeinated!

Second, Brad Delong, driven to distraction by the intractably high unemployment rate, chanced to utter the secret that we generally keep from nice young boys like my nephew: that getting a job depends far more on who you know than how hard you try. Third, there is Paul Campos on the "law school scam." I've linked to a short post at Lawyers, Guns and Money in my Tolkien pastiche above, but he goes on at much greater (and fully justified length) here. So I'm going to put it all together with an insight from an earlier round of the same discussion. Specifically, it is hard for most beginning lawyers to repay their student loans, because the claimed high average pay of beginning lawyers in fact masks a noncontinuous distribution of incomes. Something's going on here: just check out this attempt to defend these statistics, and the acid comments following.

 Some law students, generally the ones with the highest grades at the Top 20 law schools, get into prestigious legal firms that charge deep-pocket clients very high hourly rates to do their vital work for them. So where you went to school determines your salary. Or, in fact, whether you get any salary for legal work at all. And that's why you get this emergent bimodal distribution of legal incomes.

What I'm here to argue is that this isn't a peculiarity of law school, but rather a much more common phenomenon that plays a crucial role than is obvious in the state of things today. The bimodal distribution isn't a bug. It's a feature. Okay. It's a bug, too. It can be both!

*The self-pity party aside, I actually have a pretty sweet contract. It's just that it took thirteen years for the middle-class pay, benefits, paid time off and generous vacation provisions to vest. The garret's because Kitsilano is expensive. And it's expensive because it's such a nice play to live. You pays your money...