Category: Humor

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C.V. / Resume in Word Cloud

My students tell me they sometimes get advice to word-cloud their resumes.  Advisers say this can help assure that the document conveys the most important messages students wish.  I’ve toyed with word clouds for other applications and decided to word cloud my own c.v.  (below).  Nothing surprising to my eyes.  It does make me curious what I’d see in the word clouds of other prawfs. Also, could a refined version of this rival the entry-level AALS forms now used for aspiring prawfs?

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The Pope’s Red Stefanelli’s

The following is from the News Democrat (IL) via McClatchy-Tribune Information Services, dateline March 5, 2013; byline Roger Schlueter, headline “The devil wears Prada … but what about the pope’s red loafers?”

In 2006, Hollywood showed us that “The Devil Wears Prada.” Could it be that Pope Benedict XVI made questionable fashion choices concerning his very sole?  This was the rumor that began swirling after Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI in April 2005. Retiring the brown shoes worn by his predecessor, John Paul II , Benedict brought back the red loafers favored by many previous popes.

His fashion sense, which, included Serengeti sunglasses and Geox-donated walking shoes, quickly gained the notice of designers.   In its 2007 list of the best-dressed men in the world, Esquire magazine named Benedict “accessorizer of the year” for his ornate papal habits paired with those red shoes. Perhaps because of that, you’ll still find stories that claim Benedict’s red footwear are none other than that chi-chi Italian brand Prada costing who knows how much.

Well, those shoes are worth hundreds of dollars a pair, but they aren’t Prada — and they didn’t cost Catholics a penny. They’re the work of Adriano Stefanelli , an Italian shoemaker who, out of love for his church, reportedly began making shoes as a gift for the pope a decade ago.

“When I was a child and people would ask me what I wanted to do when I grew up, I used to answer, ‘I’d like to make the pope’s shoes,'” Stefanelli told Catholic Online (www.catholic.org) in 2008. “Today, it seems to me, I’ve realized my childhood dream.” . . .  The shoes — which Stefanelli describes as “ruby red, almost bordeaux” — are hand-sewn and take nearly a month to make. [They cost about $550 a pair.]  

The return to red served several purposes for Benedict, who loves cats and relaxed at night by practicing the piano, [said] Lawrence Cunningham , a professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame . . . .  Traditionally, he said, red is worn to symbolize the blood shed by Catholic martyrs. It also signifies the burning fire of God’s love. . . .

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Boston College Moves Up in Jurist Ranks

National Jurist has recalculated its law school rankings under pressure from critics who stressed the dubious reliability of the “Rate My Professor” component. Critics had objected to many other flaws in the methodology as well, some comparing it to the widely-ridiculed  approach taken by the Thomas Cooley Law School, in which that school turns out to be the second best law school in the country overall, edged out only by the Harvard Law School. Among the most vociferous critics of both systems, as well as pretty much every other but his own, is the ubiquitous Brian Leiter, professor at U. Chicago Law School.

Notably, Chicago was among a group of schools where “Rank My Professor” had manifest and profound flaws, such as counting professors who do not teach at the school.  About 8 schools moved up in the rankings, including my esteemed former employer Boston College. In correcting itself, the National Jurist’s headline beamed “Best Law Schools Updated, Corrected: U. Chicago Jumps Into Top 5.” 

If that were meant as a cynical ploy to silence Prof. Leiter, however, the plan has backfired, as he continues to opine that National Jurist should scrap its entire methodology and start over. He suggests hiring consultants to help with the task.  If they do, I would encourage editors to avoid retaining any present or former law professor, however, as they all naturally have tendencies akin to those behind the Cooley study. Go Eagles!

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Identity Theft: Coming to Screens Near You (and Not Just the Movies)

Identity theft, now so common, we can joke about it.

Or as Alan Alda’s character in Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors says, “comedy is tragedy plus time.”  Time to transform tragedy into comedy, indeed.  Scanning the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse database demonstrates that reported data breaches are a daily occurrence.  Since January 1, 2013, private and public entities have reported over 20 major data breaches.  Included on the list were hospitals, universities, and businesses.  Sometimes, the most vulnerable are targeted.  For instance, on January 8, 2013, a dishonest employee of the Texas Department of Health and Human Services was arrested on suspicion on misusing client information to apply for credit cards and to receive medical care under their names.  Bad enough that automated systems erroneously take recipients of public benefits off the rolls, as my work on Technological Due Process explores.  Those designed to help them are destroying their medical and credit histories as well.

We have had over 600 million records breached since 2005, from approximately 3,500 reported data breaches.  Of course, those figures represented those officially reported, likely due to state data breach laws, whose requirements vary and leave lots of discretion with regard to reporting up to the entities who have little incentive to err on the side of reporting if they are not legally required to do so.  So the bad news is that identity theft is prevalent, but at least we can laugh about it.

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Turns out it is all a dream, err, simulation: Physicists and proving the Matrix

2003. “Oxford professor Nick Bostrom suggested that we may be living in a computer simulation.” IO9 reports that now

Silas Beane and his team at the University of Bonn in Germany, [argue that] a simulation of the universe should still have constraints, no matter how powerful. These limitations, they argue, would be observed by the people within the simulation as a kind of constraint on physical processes.

So, how could we ever hope to identify these constraints? Easy: We just need build our own simulation of the universe and find out. And in fact, this is fairly close to what the physicists are actually trying to do. To that end, they’ve created an ultra-small version of the universe that’s down to the femto-scale (which is even smaller than the nano-scale).

Apparently, certain things that should behave one way will deviate and that deviation will be the clue.

OK this work seems quite wild. (study here if you like) But IO9 points out that this first step could lead to “more powerful versions in which molecules, cells, and even humans themselves might someday be generated. ” I am not sure whether these more powerful versions would be new simulated worlds or new things in the current simulation. Perhaps it is both. Ah another film nod! I rather liked the end of Men in Black when our blue marble that held a galaxy in it was part of another marble holding another galaxy and that was being thrown around when not stored in a bag. Even if we are in a simulation, as my friend John Scalzi said on a show about what happens if aliens show up here, we still have to take out the trash.

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“Yes, Prime Minister” on Political Debates

“If you have nothing to say, say nothing. But better, have something to say and say it, no matter what they ask. Pay no attention to the question, make your own statement. If they ask you the same question again, you just say, ‘That’s not the question’ or ‘I think the more important question is this:’  Then you make another statement of your own.”

Prime Minister Jim Hacker

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“Learn English: Your In America”

My playful title is inspired by what I just heard Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, Republican of Virginia, say on the PBS News Hour. He was explaining the plank in the proposed 2012 Republican platform endorsing English as the national language (carried over from the 2008 platform). He stressed how important speaking “good English” is to the American dream.  He concluded: “so that was the collective, uh, thoughts of the committee.” Me agree.