Morning Links

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009
  • Drilling for whiskey in the Antarctic.
  • Scientology accused of torture, forced abortions.
  • “Is the world ready for a sport played with a headless goat carcass?” I can’t speak for the world, but this corner of Alexandria, Virginia is intrigued.
  • Pajamas TV’s Scott Steven Crowder cracks jokes about sending suspected terrorists to U.S. prisons so they can be raped while praying. Classy! And hilarious!
  • Record number of applicants took the LSAT this year. With all due respect to my lawyerin’ friends, I’m of the opinion that this is a bad trend.

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    39 Responses to “Morning Links”

    1. #1 |  billy-jay | 

      I would melt all the ice on that continent to get to that whiskey. Or is that whisky?

    2. #2 |  Eric | 

      On the LSAT point, I would guess a large driver of the increased numbers is the abysmal economic outlook for new college graduates. I took the LSAT and went to law school because I was an English major and didn’t have any other realistic option. Now business, finanance, computer applications, and all kinds of other majors that traditionally fed into entry level positions face the same prospect. So why not at least sit for the LSAT and see what you can score? You aren’t locked in to actually going to school.

      Like other markets, the market for lawyers has already starting correcting itself based on the growing supply and the shrinking demand. Big firms have laid off thousands of lawyers and decreased starting salaries throughout this year. Companies (like mine) have found firms more willing to negotiate their fees.

      So even assuming that (a) a large percentage of the test takers score adequately on the test, (b) they all are willing to go $100K or more in debt to pay for law school, (c) they make it through all 3 years of school, and (d) they pass the bar, only a small fraction will actually find work in law.

      With all that said, I agree with you that it’s not a good trend.

    3. #3 |  Yodel Godel | 

      In the future, everyone will either be a project manager or a lawyer. We are doomed.

    4. #4 |  Boyd Durkin | 

      Prison reform sure would be a good idea. Most every single person in prison will one day be free. You can have them spend their years raping and getting raped and abused…and then being sent free into society. Or, you can have them serve their time without getting their Masters in violence, criminal activity, and sexual abuse. Prisons make people worse than when they go in. Not so smart, society. Especially since we’re putting an ever increasing number of our citizens into prison.

    5. #5 |  ClubMedSux | 

      Re the LSAT story…

      Did any of these people actually take a look at the legal market? Our firm just laid off eight more associates earlier this month. My co-worker’s husband just graduated from a top-ten law school without a job. Sure, the economy will turn around at some point and firms will start hiring again, but they’ll have thousands of well-qualified, experienced laid-off lawyers to choose from when it does.

    6. #6 |  CRNewsom | 

      @#1 Either way it’s spelled, I’m just glad it’s in bottles.

      It would be interesting to see some 100 year old scotch aged in barrels, but the angels take more than their fair share in 18 years (~30%). There are some people who would pay a medium sized fortune for such spirits.

    7. #7 |  Aresen | 

      “Is the world ready for a sport played with a headless goat carcass?” I can’t speak for the world, but this corner of Alexandria, Virginia is intrigued.

      If they substituted a headless congresscritter, it might catch on.

    8. #8 |  Kristen | 

      Scientology has been accuse of torture and forced abortions for many years now. Too bad nobody seems to want to do anything about it in this country. Oh, they’re also accused of immigration and human trafficing violations and various labor violations (there’s a big lawsuit right now in U.S. Courts by one of their former members who is suing them for back wages).

    9. #9 |  Aresen | 

      RE Scientology accused of torture, forced abortions.

      If they made the victims watch Tom Cruise movies, that would be real torture.

      It would probably induce abortions as well.

    10. #10 |  Eric | 

      They’re drilling for the Spirits of Shackleton.

    11. #11 |  Edmund Dantes | 

      I was one of them. I took it more to see where I was at with a possibility of looking into a law degree, but once I started crunching the numbers as noted above I knew it didn’t make any sense.

      Way too much debt for a shrinking amount of return.

    12. #12 |  Mattocracy | 

      Scientology makes it very difficult to be religiously tolerant. Of course they sure as hell aren’t very tolerant of others at all, so fuck ’em. This cult needs to be investigated big time, but they spread the campaign contributions around quiet a bit. They are so litigous in nature, that they actively recruit lawyers and encourage their followers to get law degrees with the expressed notion to defend the church and attack it’s enemies in civil court. Makes you wonder about the increase in LSAT takers. Most Catholic Preist are not child predators and most Muslims aren’t terrorist, but every high ranking member of scientology is abusive one way or another.

    13. #13 |  InMD | 

      I wouldn’t worry too much about the number of folks taking the LSATs. I think what Eric says is correct in that it probably has more to do with people graduating college and taking a shot at avoiding an abysmal job market for another few years.

      A lot of people dislike lawyers for obvious reasons. There is a perception that lawyers are out there creating pointless litigation that defies common sense, and in some cases, that is indeed true. However, for all the “lawyer created” litigation out there that annoys people, it is often ignored that lawyers are the ones who have to grapple with some of society’s most difficult problems for which there are no easy answers. I’d also like to throw out there that the media does a totally awful job of reporting on the law, particularly in the realm of tort issues. They’re very quick to jump on supposedly frivolous lawsuits when a closer look at the actual facts often show the existence of a legitimate dispute. There have also been a number of incidents where e-mail messages have been forwarded around claiming to describe ridiculous lawsuits but upon research no such cases actually turn up. Some claim this is an attempt by large corporate entities to make jury pools less sympathetic to plaintiffs. I’ve never seen any convincing evidence of that and think it’s more likely to just be jokes that people who don’t know any better believe are real. Therefore be careful what you believe when you get that next e-mail describing the guy who is suing the chainsaw manufacturer when he sawed of the tree limb which was supporting him.

      There are indeed numerous problems with our legal system. However, many people blame lawyers when it is in fact the population who elects legislators, and in many places judges as well. Average citizens are as responsible for our litigious society as anyone else. Everyone hates lawyers. That is until they’re the ones who are charged with some arbitrary crime or find themselves harmed by a person or entity with vastly greater resources than they themselves have. In short, don’t hate the player, hate the game. :)

    14. #14 |  Chris in AL | 

      Wouldn’t natural shifting and expanding or contracting of the ice probably have broken the crates and bottles by now? I could understand if they were above ground, in a shack or something. But if they were buried I would think it very likely that they are damaged.

    15. #15 |  Bryan | 

      I am fine with people taking the LSAT. But like Eric said, just to see how they do. Anyone that takes on debt to go to law school right now is crazy. The legal market is f’ed up right now and probably will be for much longer than other industries. I don’t think people outside the legal community understand exactly how bad it is, and what a change it will be from the way law firms have typically operated.

    16. #16 |  MDGuy | 

      Prison-rape jokes really disgust me. For every child molester who “gets whats coming to him” there’s a case like the one described in Judge James Gray’s book Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed: A Judicial Indictment Of War On Drugs. A 19 kid from Iowa was arrested for possession of less than an ounce of weed. Due to overcrowding in the jail, he was put in a communal cell with a couple dozen other inmates. For two straight days he was sexually assaulted every hour, on the hour until he was taken out for booking. I wish people would think about cases like that before making a joke, or laughing at one.

    17. #17 |  magooMania | 

      “With all due respect to my lawyerin’ friends, I’m of the opinion that this is a bad trend.”

      Just because you couldn’t hack it in law school doesn’t mean others will have the same problem.

    18. #18 |  Radley Balko | 

      I did fine in law school. I quit because of the debt.

      And way to respond to a policy argument with a personal attack.

      You won’t be commenting here anymore.

    19. #19 |  ClubMedSux | 

      I would also add that the tort system, at its core, is very libertarian in the sense that it allows individuals to mediate disputes without state intervention. Obviously our courts have issues that need to be straightened out, but I’d rather have individuals keeping corporations in check via civil lawsuits than the government keeping corporations in check (or pretending to do so) via regulation–and I say that as a defense attorney who represents large corporations.

    20. #20 |  omar | 

      My co-worker’s husband just graduated from a top-ten law school without a job.

      Kinda’ a weak anecdote.

      He didn’t have a job before graduating or he was unable the get a job for a period of time after graduating? And was he unable to find a job that he wanted at a top-tier law firm paying the salary he desired with chances to hang out with the powerful people, or was he just totally unemployable? I find the unqualified statement a little hard to swallow.

    21. #21 |  Zargon | 

      Scientology makes it very difficult to be religiously tolerant.

      Why? If we just treated them like anybody else who did the things they did, they’d end up in prison. No discrimination required.

      All we have to do is stop giving them a free pass (one that comes not from being a religion, I think, but rather from slick lawyers and deep pockets)

    22. #22 |  ClubMedSux | 

      He didn’t have a job before graduating or he was unable the get a job for a period of time after graduating? And was he unable to find a job that he wanted at a top-tier law firm paying the salary he desired with chances to hang out with the powerful people, or was he just totally unemployable? I find the unqualified statement a little hard to swallow.

      He graduated in May, passed the bar in July, and still has yet to find ANY job in the legal field. Can’t even get a job teaching LSAT classes. One of the problems is that top law schools tailor their career services to large law firms, so when these firms cut or discontinued their summer programs, their career counselors didn’t really know what to do. Smaller firms have in-roads with the second- and third-tier schools, so many won’t even bother to look at an applicant from a top-tier school (plus they figure if they do hire somebody they’ll bolt for a large firm as soon as the economy picks up).

      I wasn’t telling the story for sympathy or anything, but the reality is most of these students made the decision (as I did six years ago) that the 95%+ placement rate of a top-ten law school warranted an investment of $150-200k. If you’re a kid who worked hard, got into the school, did well, and suddenly finds himself with $200k of debt and no job, well that sucks.

    23. #23 |  Heartless Libertarian | 

      Drilling for Whiskey would be an excellent name for a band. Country, or Western.

    24. #24 |  Pablo | 

      As an attorney I would advise others to think carefully and do some number-crunching (e.g. compare your anticipated law school debt to what you REALISTICALLY will earn as an attorney). Most lawyers are not rich and if you are $100,000 in debt that is a big monthly payment. Another aspect of practicing law is that you can either have an interesting job which allows you to have a life outside the office, or you can make lots of money. Not both.

    25. #25 |  InMD | 

      At #19

      I think a lot of it depends on your jurisdiction. I’m not sure where you practice but in Maryland we’re still steadfastly holding to the old common law rules. No duty is owed to trespassers. Contributory negligence and assumption of the risk are complete defenses. We’ve never even adopted an attractive nuisance doctrine (though failure to comply with county regulations about things like fencing in swimming pools in practice ends up being almost per se negligence even if the courts won’t explicitly say so). I’ve found that holding onto those old rules is pretty good at keeping the silliest of claimants from collecting. At least in this respect the old common law is much more in line with common sense and therefore much better at reaching conclusions that are logical and understood by laymen. Granted if you’re a member of the California bar you might disagree with me. :)

      I agree that in principle having private parties settle their disputes through the tort system is a good thing. The only major problem in my opinion comes when you have opponents where one side vastly outmatches the other in resources to the point that plaintiff’s lawyers won’t even take the case for a generous contingency fee.

    26. #26 |  Nick T | 

      Re: the lawyers

      As a lawyer myself, I agree this is a bad trend. Part of me thinks that it would be great if more people were educated about the law, but obviously more peopel are becoming lawyers becuase there’s too many laws and they are too confusing so lawyers are needed.

      But my first thought isn’t exactly wrong: We seriously need to teach kids about the Constitution and what exactly it means and doesn’t mean and what it says beyond the frickin’ preamble.

    27. #27 |  Marty | 


      well said. I had a family member who did prison time after pleaing to trumped up charges. she never denied her guilt- it was the punishment (and possible punishment if she didn’t plea) that blew her away. she witnessed a guard raping an inmate and she started getting messed with because of this. she ended up having a ruptured aneurysm and dying. she checked into the clinic, begging for help 8 times over two weeks. they told her she was ‘dehydrated’ and treated her with 2 ibuprofens for her headaches.

      I see several issues- people being over-punished by prosecutors forcing plea bargains on inept public defenders, private medical contractors being shielded by the govt for horrible medical care, non-violent offenders being incarcerated with violent offenders, victimless crimes being prosecuted, and unbelievable violence being dished out by inmates and guards. as pointed out earlier, these inmates will probably be amongst us again- what kind of skills do we want them to have?

      With the prison population we have, we’ll all be touched by this. I really hope none of this douchebag’s friends or family members are violated by a rapist, but it would be kind of poetic in a really ugly way.

    28. #28 |  Jim Collins | 

      About that whiskey, you don’t have to drill. Just use a copper tank on a hoist and pump hot water through the tank while lowering it. Pump the melted water out of the hole and that’s it. It’ll melt down to the booze and won’t damage it at all.

    29. #29 |  Mike Leatherwood | 

      Xenophon has GOT to be the best last name ever.

    30. #30 |  Carl Drega | 

      The thing about law school is they’ll take anybody who is smart and has a decent undergrad G.P.A. and LSAT scores. Unlike medicine, management, engineering, arts, etc., etc., they really don’t care what your major was and there are no prerequisites beyond being intelligent and speaking English. The natural result is that when the economy goes pear shaped and people look for alternatives, law school becomes a popular option. It’s not like a communications major can go to med school at the last minute.

      Also, one of the important cost calculations in going to law school is the lost wages while in school. If you won’t have a job then that number is zero, decreasing the total cost.

    31. #31 |  random guy | 

      My friends taking the LSAT and so are a bunch of his buddies.

      I think its what others have said here. So many of the twenty somethings that graduated from college can’t find jobs in their field, or with carer potential. My friend graduated with a four year degree just to move back in with his parents and work as a bellhop at a hotel until it downsized him less than a year later. With options like that I can see why going back to school has such appeal.

      And don’t get me started on the hypocrisy in this country when it comes to male rape. When you include prisons more men in this country are raped every year than women and its considered a fucking joke.

    32. #32 |  Pablo | 

      Many law schools contribute to the problem by fudging their statistics to present misleading pictures of the employment/incomes of their graduates. Couple this with the explosion in student loan availability AND the fact that student loans are not bankruptable (thanks to some well-targeted campaign contributions) and you can see why a lot of young people are getting themselves into trouble.

      #31–agree with everything that has been said on the male rape issue. One of our country’s most shameful failings.

    33. #33 |  anonanerd | 

      Regarding the headless goat sport, rambo plays it in rambo 3. Go watch it. Its one of the most bizarre movies when approached in the context of today’s world.

    34. #34 |  Aresen | 

      anonanerd | November 18th, 2009 at 2:56 pm

      Regarding the headless goat sport, rambo plays it in rambo 3

      Stallone plays with goats.

      Uh huh.

    35. #35 |  Kevin | 

      That headless goat sport looks pretty cool. I loved the part about how businessmen can now take part. It’s the Afghan equivalent of golf. My wife thought it would be a poor sport for making contacts etc. I pointed out that golfers do most of the chatting etc when they are not hitting the ball. It got me to thinking about the goat-sport. Do they have different divisions? A senior league? How about a pee-wee mutton-buster league. They’d ride around on sheep, fighting over a dead cat. Great family fun. I’d watch that over a golf tourny any day of the week.

    36. #36 |  Laughingdog | 

      “Record number of applicants took the LSAT this year. With all due respect to my lawyerin’ friends, I’m of the opinion that this is a bad trend.”

      Doesn’t seem to bad for people like Glenn Reynolds over at Instapundit. Record number of people taking the LSATs could mean a record number of law school applicants, which is pretty good job security if you’re on the teaching end of the lawyerin’.

    37. #37 |  JS | 

      Welcome to the eagerly anticipated Buzkashi which means “goat grabbing” world championship here on ESPN 8 the ocho!

    38. #38 |  Peter | 

      I’m not sure if you’re criticizing the PJTV guy or not, but in any case you should get his given name right. It’s “Steven”, not Scott.

    39. #39 |  Highway | 

      What with all the horrible dog shootings we hear of, I guess this kitty is pretty lucky. Although he might be showing the dogs how to do it. Show a little nonchalance, then climb right up!