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User Journal

Journal Journal: IANAL, but I am a law student.... 11

I started law school this last week. I've got classes, and reading--oh my head, the reading. It's not as bad as the movies make it out to be, really. So far, I'm actually enjoying it, don't tell anyone.

In other news, I wrote my first cease-and-desist letter today. I use unique e-mails for every commercial entity I interact with. One of them sold my address to another company. So I contacted them, quoted the statute they violated, explained how I could prove it was them as sold my address, and told them to cut out the spam or I'd file a civil suit to collect damages as allowed by Texas law.

Nah, I don't think I'd really do it. But I do hope someone somewhere reads my letter and says "Oh shit, people take this spam stuff seriously."


Journal Journal: Grounding outlets? 10

I have a question. I'm in Ann Arbor, visiting friends and the law school. I found a place to live for next year. It's relatively nice. There's only one problem. It's an older house, and none of the outlets are grounded. Now I have issues plugging my beloved computer in somewhere that doesn't have grounded outlets. There should be a way to safely and effectively ground these thingies. Anyone here know how to do it? Or have any nice references for me?


The Almighty Buck

Journal Journal: Baffling need-based aid! 6

So my Lessig Challenge stuff will be on from here on out.

I'm sure nobody really cares about my law school search, but here's the skinny. So far, I've gotten into Michigan, Duke, Columbia and NYU. And I've jumped through all the financial aid hoops. I'm just waiting to get offers from places. I've discovered that need-based aid for law school is exceptionally confusing.

Witness: Michigan gave me a reasonably generous (for a law school--they do expect you to take out a certain amount in loans, even above the Federally allowed amounts) need-based aid package. It was five figures, which made me happy.

NYU just told me that I didn't qualify for need-based aid. Get this: the Federal government says my EFC is zero. The sum total of aid that I've gotten from my parents in the last eight years, including my undergraduate career, and throughout my master's program, is a couple of plane tickets to visit home. My parents aren't particularly rich, and they're retiring next year.

Apparently, NYU thinks that between my expected contribution of zero dollars, and my parent's minimal retirement income, I can come up with $54,955 per year for their stupid law school, which I didn't really want to go to anyways.

At any rate, it looks like I'm going to Michigan. I'm pretty happy with that result. They have a strong public interest office that helps people get positions in places other than corporate law (blech!). I'm doing a visit weekend.

Wish me luck. I'd hate to sell out before I even start. :)

User Journal

Journal Journal: Feb. Lessig, and thoughts about money 1

Total for the bad guys: $15 for Cable modem.

Total for TJP:

  • $10 to rockbox, a really cool opensource firm ware for the Archos jukebox.
  • $5 for a slashdot subscription.

For those of you who are curious how it is that I've gone two months without buying CDs, seeing movies, renting videos, or otherwise propping up the entertainment megapoly, it's really quite simple. Law school is expensive; the poorer I appear to be, the more grant aid I get. Since I had to fill out all the forms in January, I deliberately made myself as poor as possible. This means I made a few large (but necessary) purchases ahead of time (for instance, I bought a laptop). My machinations were effective; according to the federal government, my EFC is $0. Hell yeah, baby! Unfortunately, my machinations were effective, and I really am lacking in ready cash at the moment. Plus I'm probably going to have to move across the country in about six months. So there's a good reason I'm not spending money. First of all, I don't have any. And secondly, any money that I might make between now and when I have to move is getting saved so I can afford to move.

This whole financial aid thing is screwy. When I was an undergraduate student, my parents wouldn't help with college. But the government and any schools I attended assumed they'd be helping me, and since my parents are upper-middle class, I got nothing. Result: I worked multiple jobs throughout undergrad and went to a state school, since I couldn't afford anything else.

But now it turns out that since the government was nice enough to give me a fellowship to get a graduate degree in Chemistry, and since they don't count fellowship income for financial aid purposes, I both get paid more than my fellow students (in chemistry) and can simultaneously expect a nicer financial aid package from law schools. And since my parents shafted me as an undergrad, I've been independent from them for eight years, which means almost everywhere I'm applying won't expect them to contribute to my law school education.

I've never been happier about not getting money from my parents before. :)

User Journal

Journal Journal: I must spend more time on slashdot.... 2

I'm ashamed to admit it. I used to be completely addicted to slashdot. Then I started applying to law school. Unfortunately, there's a message board for students applying to law school that I started to frequent because occasionally it contains useful information, like when certain schools are beginning to make decisions and all that stuff.

In actuality, it's Yet Another way to get sucked into an online forum. The good bit is that I've met a couple of people who love Linux and want to go to law school because they care about travesties like the DMCA, et cetera. The bad bit is that this message board is addictive like slashdot. Except there are no news stories, no moderation, no "friends" system. In short, it's addictive like slashdot but has no real redeeming value. And it's populated by elitists who want to go to law school. The ugly bits? Well, no real moderation. And there's a couple people who post this really ugly racist, sexist drivel. You know that you've been spending too much time when you get so inured to seeing shit like this that a thread entitled "I want to pluck out some Arab's eyeball" just makes you think, "Gross, General Lee outdid himself." Once the trolls get you to lose your sense of moral outrage, it's time to quit. Yes, occasionally semi-valuable information surfaces. But it's really not worth it.

For those of you who are morbidly curious, you can see the Princeton Review law school board in all its glory here.

I hereby resolve to start posting on slashdot more. After all, my time is finite, and if I waste it here, I can't waste it there.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Who got my money

I decided to give $25 to EFF for a budget membership. That works. I do want to give them more money. I'll probably do so in a later month, and maybe send it for a specific project....
User Journal

Journal Journal: Who to give money? 11

This month, I have approximately no money. This is good. It means I'm going to see no movies and buy no CDs. It means that I owe TJP (truth, justice, and the penguin) $15, my share of the cable modem service.

I'm not a member of EFF, but I will be eventually. But I wanted to give in a month when I owed substantially more. So who do I send the $15 too?

Here are the people I eventually want to give money:
Heifer International

Anyone think I should add anything to that list? Where's a good cause I can give fifteen bucks? Of course, I can give *more* than $15, but like I said, I have approximately no money this month....

* * * * * *

In other news, I appear to have been admitted to Duke Law School. How strange. ;)

User Journal

Journal Journal: December: Lessig Challenge 3

I've e-mailed Luke Francl and I'm on the list! Woohoo! Least important person on the Lessig challenge! This is worth something, I bet.

Ahem. Now on to the serious biz. The money. The dough. All that stuff. For December:


  • Bill for shitty cable modem service: $15 (split 3 ways).
  • Star Trek: Nemesis tickets. Matinee. $6
  • The Two Towers tickets. $10 (I haven't bought 'em yet but that sounds right).

Total: $31

On the side of truth, justice, and the penguin we have:

  • Gentoo Linux, $31

For this month, I'm even Steven. I'm going to shoot to beat or equal my industry payments, but don't expect me to overshoot *too* much. I'm not that rich. :)

User Journal

Journal Journal: Lessig and Other Thoughts 4

Hi Slashdot. I haven't written in my journal in approximately three eons. I've been busy--fighting with my graduate advisor, taking the LSAT, applying to law school, et cetera et cetera and so forth.

The personal statement I sent to law schools ended up looking nothing like the ones I posted here. I talked to some people who have No Geek Background and they were thoroughly confused by words like "public domain" and "Linux" and all that stuff. They just Didn't Get It. Since they're the types that are going to be reading my application, I figured they were right. I ended up writing something that had some happy fun analogies but that's pretty much it. :)

I took the LSAT in October and ended up getting a 173. This is pretty decent, I guess. Higher would have been nicer, but it's sufficient. And I finished all my applications a while back. I applied to Michigan, Harvard, Duke, and Berkeley. Then I started freaking out because everyone's saying that this is a huge year for law school applications, they're up something like 40% from two years ago. So I also sent applications to Columbia and NYU (who sent me fee waivers because they liked my LSAT). About two days after freaking out and sending the extra apps, I got a letter admitting me to Michigan's JD class of 2006. Yay!

So I'm in at least one place. I'm going to be a lawyer. I'm going to accrue lots of debt, and I hope that I end up being able to make a difference in some way.

Scary statistic of the day: 80% of entering law students say they don't want to do corporate work. 80% of newly minted JDs end up doing so. I've been spending some time thinking about this. How do I stop myself from selling out? How do I stay true to my principles? How do I avoid the thrill and burden of a six figure salary?

I think my first step was to recognize that being a poor student is no excuse. I'm taking the Lessig Challenge. So I don't make a lot of money. It'll be even worse when I'm in law school. Big Deal. If I can find the cash to hand over to the RIAA/MPAA/cable modem people, I can double it and give it away to people I really care about. I think this is really the best answer to the old slashdot question: "How can you love these movies and hate the RIAA?" Answer: "By giving more to the people I love than I do the RIAA."

Every month, I'll be posting my payments either way. If you feel the same way I do, try and do the same thing! :) See The Original Lessig Challenger.

User Journal

Journal Journal: More seriously 7

Enough of this personal statement stuff. Now I have a real question, of extraordinary seriousness. Imagine that we're going to remove one of two people from human history. Our choices are Newton or Gauss. Which one do you think we could most do without, and why?
User Journal

Journal Journal: Personal Statement, Part II 6

I posted my last version of my personal statement a while back. After posting it, I decided it was total crap and didn't convey half of what needed to be conveyed. It got across a little of my sense of humor and a little of my sense of purpose, but generally was total crap. So I thought and thought and thought and thought. Finally I decided on a two-pronged attack. I'm submitting a specialized individualized essay to all the schools I'm applying to saying "This is why I want to go to YOUR school". I'm going to talk a little bit more about specifics in that. My personal statement is going to be just that. Personal. I made a list of all the reasons why a law school should accept me. It looks like this:
  • Brilliant
  • Hard working
  • Really, really strong
  • Eloquent
  • Sense of humor
  • Capable
  • Very cool.
  • Different background
  • Thoughtful
  • Modest! Humble! Oh so humble!

Okay, that last is a joke. Still, I figured that my personal statement should really give them an idea of how amazing I truly am (and this is really arrogant on my part--but I am cool, and dammit, I should get into law school because of it). So here is my personal statement. You might recognize one or two sentences, but the form, content, and theme have morphed almost entirely. There are going to be some edits after this (particularly the first paragraph, which I assert is "not gripping enough" and the last sentence, which doesn't quite say what I want it to say), but this is essentially it, people. Tell me what you think. Criticisms away. And thanks to everyone!

... I'm deleting this 'cause (a) It's not what I sent and (b) I don't think I want this up here anymore.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Personal Statement 14

So I mentioned this whole thing about law school last time. Well, I registered for the LSAT. I talked to my research advisor. I've read about sixty different schools, none of which meet my six fairly straight-forward (and yet unfortunately contradictory) criteria. And I've been working on a "personal statement". There's a bevy of contradictory information out there as to what a good personal statement should contain. I have ignored it all and instead give you the following guidelines. I want mine to:
  • Indicate I'm not Yet Another Person aimlessly drifting from grad school to law school
  • Ride the subtle line between humor and sobriety (falling, if anything, on the humorous side)
  • Be understandable to a wide range of people; I don't want to be too technical

This here's a first draft. A very early first draft. I know the language is choppy and repetitive (particularly in the last 4-5 paragraphs, one of which contains "blah blah" and "Mu ha ha" which means I can't figure out how to end this sentiment gracefully). And I still don't feel like this is anywhere near cohesive enough (although it feels like it can be, with work). But this is the general framework I think I'm going to work with. What do you think? Comments and suggestions on form and content are welcome. You can also criticize my individual word choice, if you'd like, but I'll probably post a much more polished draft later where you can nitpick to your heart's desire.

* * * * * * * * * * *

And I'm also deleting this, 'cause it wasn't that good.

User Journal

Journal Journal: IANAL... 24

Gee, Fiver-Rah. You barely write in your journal. And now there's been about a billion journal entries in the last week. What's up with that?

Good question. I'm having the "why am I in graduate school?" crises. Let me review the reasons I wanted to go to graduate school.

  • I like learning lots of interesting new things.
  • It would be way cool if I were Dr. Bond.
  • I didn't want any of the stupid jobs I could get with a joint Math/Chemistry bachelors degree.

Alas. I don't want any of the slightly-less-stupid jobs I can get with a Chemistry PhD, and I'm spending all my time doing basic research on a project that bores me. Furthermore, there aren't all that many other projects that are more interesting (aside from all the cool stuff the Santa Fe institute does, but they just have cachet). So my reasons for being here are somewhat less than stellar, and another 2-4 years for a PhD is looking like more and more of a drag.

Of course, without a viable option, this is all stuff and nonsense anyways. And then I came up with a viable option. I was talking about a friend from high school who went to Harvard Law and has since been traveling around the globe (last I heard she was brokering a human rights agreement with the UN in Sri Lanka) doing wacky and fun things. And it occured to me: Hey, I could go to law school.

Now it's undoubtedly true that I think it's interesting. I read every legal brief filed by the EFF and the DOJ in the Sklyarov case up until December of 2001 or so, and many of the ones filed in Felten's case. And DeCSS, and a couple others. For one. I have something like a clue in matters pertaining to biotech/bioengineering (I'm doing theoretical chemistry--I've *taught* a class on the subject). And frankly, there are probably far too few people who give a damn about an intellectual commons who go into intellectual property. I could do it. I could probably do it well, which is more than I feel about basic research. And I could enjoy myself.

Problem is, while I would love to be "Dr. Bond" I would hate to be a lawyer. Bad associations and all that. I've been thinking of this for ... uh ... 4 days now, and I've essentially made up my mind to do it. Or at least, I've paid money to register for the LSAT, which is the next best thing.

So ... what do you think? It's not selling out if I don't do go to a boutique IP firm and make six figures, right? Can I actually do any good as a lawyer? Or is this just a Really Dumb Idea?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Girly journal ring 15

Approximately 5% of slashdot readers are girls. On the other hand, exactly 50% of my friends are (assuming that people are being up front about their gender, which seems like a reasonable assumption). Now, this doesn't particularly surprise me (after all, I know all my friends are weird). daoine mentioned that she started to get caught up in this gateway thing because of my "girly rant".

So my question is for both girls and guys. How much of a difference does gender make when you befriend somebody? Are you more likely to respond to a post posted by someone you know is a girl? And are us girls "better connected" than the average /. reader.

User Journal

Journal Journal: What's up with this?

  • It took me less time to install Warcraft II via wineX and set up networking on my desktop machine (chocobo) running Linux than it took everyone else to install/network on their Windows/OS X machines.
  • Chocobo, not running native windows, ran the game faster. There are no significant hardware differences between many of the machines involved.
  • I was the only person who knew how to carve a chicken at dinner, even though I won't eat it.
  • In the last two years, I've played two multiplayer games: Tetris Attack (for SNES) and ... uh, the party games in "Super Monkeyball". And yet I still remember how to get barracks in eight peons for War2, and can still beat up on my friends (which isn't saying a whole lot, frankly).
  • Although my taste in games has evolved considerably over the years (favorite: the "Chocobo Hot & Cold" mini-game in FF9), I still get an adrenaline rush out of wreaking havoc.
  • Oooh, oooh! That reminds me of the best .sig I've ever seen: "Cry havoc, and let slip the Chihuahuas of inconvenience!" I don't remember who it belonged to or it would get attributed.

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