Monthly Archive: March 2008

Not created equal

Not all law school rankings are created equal. Some depart from the established pecking order more than others. They really should have released numerical scores to spice things up a little bit and to make the list look more legitimate. Ranked at number 2, Michigan is now officially prestigious, and by reason of extension, those who go to prestigious institutions are also prestigious, and therefore I am officially prestigious. From now on, Michigan shall be known as one of the schools that produce the best worker bees, and Harvard/Columbia shall remain those that produce the most partners.

Recent Events

I’ve been following the recent events in Tibet on all major Western news outlets and on YouTube. One YouTube comment succinctly states my reaction:

Destory[ing] private property and killing innocent civilian is not protest; it is organized crime [and] shall be restrain[ed] by security force. “We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.” — Ronald Reagan

What’s happening is ethnic violence in its purest, most deplorable form. Original words from a blogger in Lhasa whose photo was selected by the New York Times, but apparently not his observations.

I want to make one thing clear because all of the major news outlets are ignoring a very important fact. Yes, the Chinese government bears a huge amount of blame for this situation. But the protests yesterday were NOT peaceful. The original protests from the past few days may have been, but all of the eyewitnesses in this room agree the protesters yesterday went from attacking Chinese police to attacking innocent people very, very quickly. They appeared to target Muslim and Han Chinese individuals and businesses first but many Tibetans were also caught in the crossfire.

For an account that tells the side of the story often ignored by other Western media, see L.A. Times: Tibet witnesses describe “mayhem everywhere.”

Growing Pains

I realize I haven’t written too much about law school lately. I am spending only 2.5 days out of a week in Ann Arbor, and the rest in Chicago with the family. I still go to classes, and I still do the readings to the extent possible, but I don’t feel as excited about law school as I used to.

I guess this is part of the growing up I have to do. Going to law school has been one of the few choices that I made and did not regret (as of now), and I think more Chinese students, especially former science and engineering majors, should consider law school. But law school has also exposed me to what I consider to be the darker side of things. I have reluctantly come to embrace the ideas that the law is more of an art than science (and therefore beauty is only in the eyes of the beholder); that there is no absolute right or wrong (thus black may well be labeled white in a parallel universe); and that only in Utopia is the law just and fair to everyone (so law and econ people invented “efficiency” as an additional, seemingly universal justification).

So in some way I am more optimistic than before law school, because now I have a valuable skill set that I can continue to develop and put to (hopefully) good use in the years to come. But in other ways I am more pessimistic than before. I feel lawyers today are in a way like alchemists of yesteryears, in that both professions create and nurture the kind of self-perpetuating and never-attainable myths that have captivated the population at large for ages.

But then all of this might just be 3L syndrome. I will be out of here in less than 2 months, and shortly thereafter we will see whether a hundred hours of due diligence work will change my views.

Weekend Readings

Now that the MPRE is over, I’ve resumed my non-law related reading over the weekend.

Bertrand Russell: A History of Western Philosophy. A surprisingly readable and amusing book. I think it’s more history than philosophy, which is probably what made this book not as dry as I had anticipated. I am halfway through this book and will hopefully finish it in the next couple of weeks.

Jung Chang & Jon Halliday, Mao, The Unknown Story. The book is supposedly banned in China. And now I see why. This book is a good example of what a biography would look like if the author infuses such absolute animosity and hatred and emotion into her writing that she is willing to do anything to cram her views down the readers’ throat. The book purports to uncover Mao’s cruelties along his ascension to power, but is written in an eerily familiar, class-struggle, big-letter-poster style language that entirely undermines the book’s credibility and readability. There obviously was a lot of original research work behind this book, which is commendable, but the result of the research is interpreted for the readers in an irrational and totalitarian way that robs the readers of any opportunity to make an independent judgment. I am deeply disappointed by this book and would not recommend it to anyone.

When I tossed the Mao book aside I watched the movie 300. A very unique movie, a bit too bloody, but still well made. That concludes my weekend venture into non-law land.

The Elusive Elephant with a Turtle on Its Head

We finally found it. It’s not Dumbo. It just looks like Dumbo. It’s one of the many animals in a toy set called Noah’s Ark. Normally I would have avoided a toy with a strong religious connotation such as this one, but Anna wanted precisely this elephant, so I guess I couldn’t say no. It turned out that Anna was exactly right in insisting that there’s a green turtle sitting on the head of a purple elephant with big blue ears.

We had to buy the whole Noah’s Ark set to get that particular elephant. The first thing Anna did once she’s gotten over the initial joy with the elephant was to —- sigh —- arrange them in a straight line like an autistic kid would.







Anna has 7 elephant toys, but she just found out about Dumbo. She loved the Dumbo toy that one of the kids at daycare brought in yesterday and Anna wanted to claim it as her own. She sobbed like her heart was broken when I told her it belonged to Hannah not Anna and that she could not bring it home with her. At that point I realized that the notion of property rights was probably not a product of legal rules, but rather something that grew out of emotional attachments to objects that even little kids can have.

So when she was taking her afternoon nap after I promised that Dumbo would come to visit her once she wakes up, I went out on a mission to buy a Dumbo for her. Sometimes I think 7 elephants and two large boxes of miscellaneous other toys are already enough for a kid who’s not even 3 years old, but then I thought I still needed that next camera even though I have 6 already, and when those innocent watery eyes look at you as if the end of the world has come, you really couldn’t say no to an 8th elephant, or the 9th, or the 10th.

So I went out and bought not just one, but four more elephants for her. I pretty much snatched up all available elephant toys in the two department stores I visited (only then did I realize how teddy bears and little bunnies far outnumber elephants in the toys department), but still no Dumbo. Apparently, after 60 years, Dumbo is not a popular cartoon figure anymore, at least not as much as Nemo or Spiderman or–thank god Anna is not into those–Barbie dolls. I was about to go to the Disney store on Michigan Avenue in search of Dumbo when I realized it was time to go home, hail a cab, and take the train to Ann Arbor.

So I left the elephants at home and took the train back to school. Anna was sound asleep, probably dreaming about the Dumbo visit. I was hoping that she was too little to remember the details of the Dumbo toy she played with at daycare, and that at least one of the elephants I bought, especially the purple one, could pass as the real thing.

When I called Ping later last night, I was told that Anna was happy to see the arrival of additional elephants, but still claims that she’s missing one particular elephant–the purple one with big blue ears and a little green turtle sitting on its head. From what I remember, the Dumbo at the daycare was precisely purple with blue ears, but it didn’t have anything on its head.

I googled several times for a toy that fits her description but to no avail. Whenever she remembers, Anna’s memory is usually pretty accurate. To this day she still remembers the license plate of the car we rented in Arizona and I couldn’t recall even the first letter when I had to fill out a parking slip at the park, so I trust her description more than mine. Eventually I came to the conclusion that either my memory about the daycare Dumbo was faulty and it really did have something green on its head, or that a Dumbo with a little green turtle on its head did visit Anna in her sweet little dream.

Either way, where to find that Dumbo is still a difficult question.