Thursday, August 11, 2005

Pre-meds: Comments from a reader

From a large university in Ohio, a student writes about "the lost souls" of pre-meds:

We students tend to be quiet, since we have to live with the pre-meds, but professors who can make better commentary have often given some advice to large lecture halls filled with pre-meds in hopes that some of it will sink in. My personal favorite provider of these talking-tos was my intro-chemistry professor, who once told the pre-meds mid-lecture that he'd overheard them saying how much they hate their majors and "if you hate what you're doing, it's a sign you shouldn't be doing it!" Well the pre-meds were dumbfounded! How dare the mere professor say what they should be doing!

When for our Organic Chemistry unit some of the students resorted to cheating, my professor turned all the students in right away, despite the protests. He then told my class that he would not let a cheat be in charge of saving lives down the line, and the pre-meds supported him enthusiastically. After all, they hadn't been the ones caught.

The greatest thing I feel for the pre-meds is pity. Too soon it becomes all too apparent that these kids, for all their thoroughness and regaled smarts, have never thought of what they wanted to do with their lives for a second. They just "want money" and heard they were "good at science," so why not be a doctor? These are the kids who end up drinking in excessive amounts because they hate who they have become but lack the clarity to see a way out.

My personal worst experience with this happened at orientation, where a pre-med heard how I have plans to become an astronomer someday. "Oh, that was my thing a few years ago!" she said, and talked my ear off for a good while about how much she loved the subject. "Then why did you quit?" I asked, wondering what particular catastrophe had stopped this girl from pursuing her dream and passion. "I grew up," she replied, in the most dull and matter-of-fact voice I have ever heard, complete with eyes that lost the spark they'd had mere moments before.

That girl haunts me to this day. Sometimes I still want to go up to a pre-med and shake her a bit to snap her out of it. "Don't you see what's become of you?" I want to scream. "Don't you see that a life without a purpose or passion behind it is meaningless?" But she would most likely just blink a few times, then melt back into the crowd, leaving me to brood over lost souls.

75 Comments:

Blogger C said...

Much the same could probably be said of pre-law kiddies. Such an idealistic lot they are, right up until their souls are crushed in the first year of law school.

Sometimes you just wanna slap them.

11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bull. Hockey. Nasty professor. Using tools to lord it over young students. Doesn't even deserve respect.

As to the chem major it's a place where science meets dullsville. Just like housework. And, it proves NOTHING to your future endeavors. Except that an ease to learning is put into your path. Go ahead. Dream big. But the roadblocks to sanity are even much more huge, in the "ivory towers." So it goes.

I know this from lots of experiences; but in particular, my son's college roommate at Harvey Mudd came in LOVING chemistry. But the maroon teaching this subject (whose specialty was leeches, for his "academic research") made it so distasteful that this brilliant kid dropped chemistry; in favor of biology.

How do kids get rid of the worst of the tenured chief bull-hockeys? At Mudd, this absolutely genius child was given an evaluation form; to evaluate Professor Crapola. And, he did. With pungent honesty. Thank goodness.

Trust what you hear in the dorms. Professors are NOT Gods. Even though they want to act like ones.

As to the best docs, ahead; you may be surprised with the ones who show super talents. If you think it all comes from books, I beg to differ. (I once read a good analogy. Would you want someone to prepare a 5-star French meal, who learned his trade by cooking? You know. In the dull bowels of the best french kitchens? Or would you prefer someone doing the work who owned a superlative library?) CAROL HERMAN

11:37 AM  
Blogger Superdestroyer said...

Much of medicine does not require a flair or a cynical attiture.

If a person wants to be an Oncologist, I have found that the best ones are dogged plodders.

If a student says he wants to be a doctor, I alway recommend that they go volunteer at a hospital or clinic so that they can experience the culture of medicine.

12:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all, some people really DO want to be doctors. However, you don’t need to go around calling yourself “pre-med” to do so.

Second of all, there is not set curriculum called “pre-law.” Indeed, if you ask any group of lawyers, you will find out that they studied a fairly diverse bunch of subjects. Indeed, since many lawyers read this blog, I might suggest that the PP go to law school.

Law school doesn’t necessarily crush one’s soul, except, perhaps to make people a bit more humble. Even in the top schools grades are curved the first year, and students quickly learn that unlike in undergrad, everyone can’t be “very good.”

True, people do change their ambitions in law school, but that is only because of exposure to a new field of law or intellectual inquiry that they find neat.

So, I think that conagher78 really has no idea what he/she is talking about.

Now, unlike the other people here that are talking about “what it is like” to be a doctor, I am a lawyer who has been in practice for 10 years, so at least I can speak from experience.

12:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Don't you see what's become of you?" I want to scream. "Don't you see that a life without a purpose or passion behind it is meaningless?" But she would most likely just blink a few times, then melt back into the crowd, leaving me to brood over lost souls.

Ah, the whimsical words of youth, and a future 40-year-old woman driving a 10-year-old Honda renting a 20-year-old apartment with no 401K.

1:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah yes, one may become that 40 year old with the Honda and the apartment, but at least we will be happy. At least we wont be sitting at home with our Brad husband or our Ashley wife drinking in excess- or doing lines of oh-so-expensive coke- because although we have our new Escalade, and the new McMansion we are not happy with our "career" that we (or our parents) chose. - From a "working class" future Firefigter/Paramedic who is going to a University!

2:01 PM  
Anonymous Celeste said...

You just never KNOW how it will turn out for a given person, though. The astronomy buff may realize that there just aren't that many jobs for astronomers and decide to work in some more plentiful field, and use the thing they are more passionate about as a hobby or other interest in life. It's unrealistic to think that just because you don't follow a perceived "passion" into the workplace, you can't be happy in your life.

Let's not forget about the people who go into a line they feel passion for, and eventually burn out.

It's really stressful to be young and to have to put all of your eggs in one educational basket. When you consider the cost of college/university and the fact that plenty of kids will pay for it with loans, that investment needs to pay off if only to pay back the loans. I can't blame a young person who is realistic about what they might be most able to use their talents to do to earn money.

3:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can’t believe how freakin’ anti-intellectual you people are.

I hate the Brad and Ashley’s, too, but I don’t think that any profession that gives people a healthy serving of money is a bad thing. Believe it or not there are avenues for creativity in science, medicine, law, and yes, even accounting (and I am not talking the “criminal” kind of creativity – but it often takes a creative mind to detect such creativity.) Unlike English, this creativity might not be apparent to everyone, and it isn’t something that is unleashed after 1 or 2 semesters, but often requires a graduate degree and a few years of hard work.

Stop condemning other peoples’ professions until you at least understand them. Maybe when you have some handle on what people actually DO in these professions you will see that creativity is actually valued (as in people pay for it).

3:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a lawyer whose intellectual abilities have never been in question and who went to a top, uh, two, school: there is no opportunity for creativity in law. Not unless one is either (a) independently wealthy, or (b) in legal academia.

3:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is this statement: "Ah, the whimsical words of youth, and a future 40-year-old woman driving a 10-year-old Honda renting a 20-year-old apartment with no 401K."

And then this statement: "Ah yes, one may become that 40 year old with the Honda and the apartment, but at least we will be happy. At least we wont be sitting at home with our Brad husband or our Ashley wife..."

And then there is reality. Most people are somewhere between these extremes. Arguments like these are what make online debates so tedious.

3:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I once had a passion for medicine. It left me after a terrible run-in with a biology professor who told me I'd never make it.
While some opinions in the pre-med entry are valid, you must remember, not ALL doctors end up unhappy but with lots of money. If you recall recent years in medicine, the cost of insurance for doctors can overshadow any sort of excessive income they may started out with. Is the problem the lost passion of doctors or is the problem the reason behind the lost passion? Could it be that Americans too freely decide to sue doctors and hospitals because they lost a child during birth, blaming the professionals rather than looking to themselves and their drinking and coke-addictions?
I salute all those who study years and years to make me a healthy person. Passion or not, they know what they are doing and I trust them. God Bless the M.D.s, D.O.s and nurses alike!

3:57 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

Things are differnet for different people. I made a compromise on my passions because of circumstances, a prematurely debilitated parent, that most people wouldn't deal with til their middle age. I found out what it was like to be financially struggling and yet hold financial and emotional responsibility for others in addition to myself. And I decided I wanted a career where one of my worries would not have to be money.

All you can do in the end is choose your worries, and some people are more suited to certain worries than others. All choices eliminate other choices and possibilites, but I don't think that my character has been altered since I started law school. I really really hope that my life won't be meaningless.

4:51 PM  
Blogger The Calvinator said...

I am an attorney, and I don't think law schoolcrushed my spirit in the least. I did not go into the law to get rich. As evidence of that, i tender the fact that after 9 years, I toil at Government wages, even though I could make many times as much money in private practice.

I am often amazed at the anti-lawyer sentiment that seems to be rampant in society. As I've heard said, everyone hates lawyers, until they need one.

5:00 PM  
Anonymous Veryslimbroom said...

I chose my major in college because, as a sucessful high school student, it was what I was supposed to do. I also think I was trying to impress my parents, my friends, my old teachers, my neighbors, etc. I did not study what I was interested in. Thus, I didn't like college very much. Right now, I really don't like my job very much. I often wonder how different it all could have been.

7:04 PM  
Blogger ripley said...

I'm not sure about the "everyone hates laywers until they need one".. Plenty of people hate lawyers after they need one and have been screwed over. Others have better experiences.

but in my family it would generally be "everyone loves doctors.. until they need one"

given the cavalcade of awful doctors they (and I) have come across.. it makes me doubly happy to find a good one, of course, but the experience is so rare I wonder what the med school system /pre-med system selects for.

an MD I know still has this diary up about his med school experiences:
"Heart Failure - diary of a third year medical student"
http://upalumni.org/medschool/

7:31 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

When I was a little girl, I dreamed of becoming an oceanographer. I even got to meet Jaques Couseau when he visited a neighbor.

I turned out to be? An elementary school teacher. Am I disappointed...ohhh no. Because I love teaching, and I get to pass my love of science and the wonder of the world to a whole BUNCH of very creative little minds who return the favor. I learn(ed)something new every year, and will continue to learn.

Oh. And I've been known to get motion sick in an elevator. All in all... I probably am in the right profession after all...lol!

8:53 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:03 PM  
Anonymous Talon_Blackhart said...

I agree with many of the sentiments in this post.

- he'd overheard them saying how much they hate their majors and "if you hate what you're doing, it's a sign you shouldn't be doing it!" -

This applies to all professions, I think. As a 5th-year education student, it dumbfounds me the number of education students at my small college who claim to hate children and despise teaching. If this is truly the case, whay are they doing it at all? The money in education isn't even that great.

Medical and teaching are both professions of service. I have an immense amount of respect for all of the people who are working as MDs, RNs, and EMTs who are doing it because they really want to help people. I have less resect for the doctors who are doing it just because of the paycheck.

No, I don't think that professors should tell a student what to do. However, most professors are older than the students, have a good deal more "real-life" experience, and may be able to give suggestions for a career path. After all, if you don't like the career in college classes, why do you want to spend $80,000 or more to get a 4-year degree that you're going to hate using?

10:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey anonymous (that is my name, too – and I have also been in practice for 10 years). Well, as a lawyer whose intellectual abilities are always questioned (because, unlike you, I constantly challenge myself), there are quite a few opportunities for creativity in law, and you obviously are doing something wrong. Besides, if you feel really board, just write a few law review articles. Indeed, writing law review articles that I didn’t have to do has given me the opportunity to explore the intersection between law and subfields of philosophy not normally associated with law.

Or, as Lisa suggests, if you don’t like your field of practice, change it. I am sure that people in your field will be glad to be rid of you.

The Calvinator, Not only does everyone hate lawyers (unless they are on their side), but everyone seems to want their children to be one. On top of that government employment of lawyers is at an all-time high, despite all the political anti-lawyer rhetoric.

6:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most recent anonymous:

Please stop helping people hate lawyers. Why, you ask?

Exhibit A: "[A]s a lawyer whose intellectual abilities are always questioned (because, unlike you, I constantly challenge myself) . . . "

Exhibit B: "you obviously are doing something wrong."

Exhibit C: "I am sure that people in your field will be glad to be rid of you."

Please. Stop.

7:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10-year lawyer, you sound really happy, given that you feel the need to go on a blog and crush one by one the arguments of a stranger that do not affect you in the least. (Sarcasm alert: you do not sound happy at all, in my opinion.)

I recognize the sound of your unhappiness (whether or not you acknowledge it as such). I am an 11-year lawyer who is deeply unhappy and bored with what I do. I am working on changing careers, from the defense-oriented practice I have now, to the civil rights practice of dreamed of when I chose to go to law school. I loved law school and enjoyed the early years of my practice, when I was learning new things all the time and mastering the basics of practicing law. After that, though, I became bored, unmotivated and had my spirit sapped day by day by the kind of people who (generally, not necessarily all!) are attracted to practicing at huge firms like those at which I have worked.

It took me years just to recognize my unhappiness for what it was. It took me additional years to develop the insight to understand what kinds of things create the spark in my eye that this writer saw in the eyes of the astronomer-turned-doctor.

Yes, there are happy doctors and lawyers. They should keep on keeping on. But I wish dearly that I would have had the courage and knowledge of what was out there to stick with the civil rights path during and after law school, intead of giving in to the financial security of the path I chose. I am finding the positive in my path and using it to change directions now, but I think it would have been much easier if I had begun my career working for a cause in which I was deeply and truly interested. Maybe then I wouldn't have gained 50 pounds in the last 7 years.

7:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, we all make choices in life and some choices are bad. I don’t think, however, that telling students to “follow their heart” in undergrad will guarantee good choices. Instead, people need to take a variety of courses, so they at least understand where most career choices lead. The problem is that many professors have no idea what people outside their department do, and they often deride other fields. (Even though, as a lawyer, I have no intention of retiring, I would have retired by now if I had $1 for every time some professor told me that they didn’t know what “political science” was and that “lawyers just fill out forms.” Same deal with philosophers, since nobody seems to know what they do, see here http://tinyurl.com/94fac and physicists see here: http://tinyurl.com/9twrh )

As to the commentator that thinks that lawyers are particularly nasty to one another, it probably is worth noting that this is pretty much a convention amongst lawyers. Even though the profession makes some pretense towards collegiality, that is generally dropped when people start speaking in the first person or when a real conflict emerges. Luckily, once you retain one of said lawyers, they will be able to decide what tactic, for you, is best, as you can be assured of their loyalty.

8:39 AM  
Anonymous Ragman said...

Telling someone to "follow their heart" does not guarantee good choices, but it can cut the amount of stress and unhappiness they'll face later in life.

I agree that students should look into a variety of things to see what's out there. I worry about those who major in, say medicine, because it pays well or the parents pressured them into it, graduate, and are "done with school". Now you have someone who's likely to be unhappy with work AND doesn't want to learn about new advances.

Parents think they're doing their kids a favor by pressuring them into a major, but it's just as likely to harm as help.

10:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and... as I told my hubby when he was trying to decide between political science grad school and law school -- "law school may be fun and all, but the problem with law school is that you end up being a lawyer.."

10:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See, 10:47, it is exactly that attitude that screws people up.

Simply by condemning a career choice because people outside the profession tell you that they don’t like it, and having no real idea about what people can do or actually do, people are really limiting their options.

Strangely, I have seen a number of lawyers who wasted (their words) years of their lives working in crappy jobs before going to law school because some undergrad professors said that their “husband works with lawyers” and they are “all miserable.”

10:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the pre-meders out there that cheat, drink excessively and are depressed in what they are doing wont even make it past their mcats.

For those pre-meders, like me, who are actually passionate about medicine and all the benefits that it comes with, well, they don't have anything to worry about.

Isn't it a bit old to be slaming other's majors and their prospective careers?

Give me a break. This post was lame.

12:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Back to the original article about pre-meds, has it occured to anyone that no matter how passionate you may be about medicine, the classes are by no means easy, nor should they be. I have a general idea of what future doctors learn, as I have a sister who is in med school and we talk regularly (except during her exam weeks!), and the content and volume of these courses would be enough to sap the energy out of any student, but that doesn't mean that the med students don't want to be doctors any more. Most of them understand, as it appears only a few of the people here do, that this is something they must go through to be an able doctor, a rite of passage if you will (the same for law school). So yeah, the courses may be hard and they may sap the pupils energy, for the time being, it doesn't sap their desire to help people or make money or whatever else their motivation is.

As for 40,10, 20...you can love a rich person just as much as you can love a poor one. And just remember, money may not buy happiness, but it does allow you to choose your form of misery!

1:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By rights all subjects should be equally hard, and studying biology shouldn’t be any harder than studying journalism. But, somewhere alone the line certain professors agreed to dumb down the subject matter for the Brads and Ashleys.

1:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know when 19 year olds became adults; but last time I looked back from where I am now, I didn't think I'd reached full blossom until my thirties. So there should be a message up here; that when you're in college, you haven't slapped the door on your youth. And, life's tough. Everybody's roadway will be full of bumps; some producing highs. And, some producing low's.

Life doesn't come with guarantees. Just don't let others talk you out of your dreams. Casting aspersions is one way of doing it. Sort'a throwing a wet blanket far and wide.

And, if you think "pre-meds" have it hard; how about people who dream of success the hard way? Starring in it. Or, dancing like Fred Astaire through it?

That lame professor who thought nailing someone half his age, by insulting a "career choice," as if being pre-med guaranteed admission into medical school, should be recognized for the bully he was.

Chemistry can be taught well. And, lovingly, too. Just like any other subject. Where the best teachers know how to stay calm. And, get ya over the stuff that's harder to grasp. If all of education were such an easy reach, then all of us could be whatever we wanted to become. Unchalleneged. But challenges, abound.

And, the best teachers love what they do. Electricity flows through the room. And, ya know what? If you're laughing, you're not only paying attention; you're learning with the best motivators leading you on.

Try the hard stuff, even if it makes your muscles sore. And, don't give no nevermind to the idiots who think they have police powers when they grade. CAROL HERMAN (Am I allowed to post twice? Did I just break another cardinal rule?)

1:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous lawyer #1 here (the bored one). I think the practice of law is inherently dysfunctional, actually, for the following reasons.

1. The absence of room for creativity comes from the importance of the task and the concentration of work. When one works in a high pressure environment where ones actions have critical consequences, one is naturally strongly deterred from taking risks, and creativity necessitates risk-taking. I can't try out a wholly new claim on behalf of a screwed client because if I screw it up, it might be a malpractice claim.

2. Related to #1, an insane amount of significance is placed on every insignificant detail in law. Anyone who has ever negotiated the terms of a settlement and spent days haggling over some forum-selection clause in paragraph 42 has had this experience. Ditto with anyone who has had a claim bounced because it got filed one day after the statute of limitations (NOT ME) or appealed one day after the time limit (again not me) or has tried to do the same to another. There's a Fourth Circuit case I saw recently upholding a death penalty in part because of a one-day deadline default.

The consequence of #2 is that the practice of law is inherently BORING. One spends most of one's time reviewing or massaging language in documents for miniscule advantage.

#3. The practice of law is inherently HOSTILE. In civil litigation particularly, the clients hate you (because they're only there because someone screwed them), the opposing party and their counsel hate you because, respectively, you're trying to screw them and it's their systemic role to stand in the place of the person who is the object of a screwing attempt. The people in your own firm hate you because the overwork and savage boring detail have turned them into Type-A neurotic assholes. Everyone else (witnesses, court personel, etc.) hate you for wasting their time. The same goes for criminal work. As for civil transactional work, probably subtract the hostility but quadruple the boredom since you don't even get an occasional break where you get to argue a case.

All of those features make the practice of law roughly analagous to trying to write six books simultaneously on six grains of rice for six hours a day while six people are screaming at you and you write your time down in six-minute increments in the process.

And people wonder why the suicide and alcoholism rates for lawyers are so high?

As for anonymous lawyer #2's suggestion to write law review articles, if (s)he had bothered to read my original comment carefully, (s)he would see that I made an exception for academia, where law is not boring. Not conicidentally, academia -- UNLIKE PRACTICE -- is where it's your job to write law review articles.

2:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, and if your hand slips on one of the grains of rice you get sued for six million dollars and disbarred.

2:11 PM  
Blogger Andromeda said...

Greetings from the author of the original little post, who feels a few words are necessary.
First of all, I did not intend to go about blasting anyone's profession in my post. I was instead talking about a certain outlook I've observed some students to have that I find disturbing, and since I'm a science major I have more instances of it happening to Pre-meds than any other group. I know many of them who love what they do, but that's not the ones I was talking about: I am talking about the students for whom you could insert any major or pseudonym and the message would still be the same. If I did not make this clear somehow then I apologize.
There were several comments that said I am too idealistic in my views, or eluded to as much. Well here's how I see it: I am a nineteen year old with only one life to live, and I'm going to try to live it the way I want or have a hell of a lot of fun trying. Why not? I don't think I should sell out on my aspirations until a catastrophe deems I need to, and right now that day is far off. So I'll stick to my stars and equations where I enjoy every day of my life and can't wait for my next class.
Let me lay it out folks: I am not saying that people who earn money are evil, nor am I saying that living life uncomfortably is the only way to go without being a sellout or some such. What I am saying is that there are choices regarding how you choose to live your one life, filled with many ways on how to make money should that be very important to you, and there is no reason why you should deliberately go off into a field where you utterly hate what you are doing when there are so many other alternatives.
A word to Carol Herman: the professor I mentioned in my post was the exact opposite of everything you have said about university professors. This one knew every name of his hundreds of students the first day of class, was well respected and loved, was an incredible lecturer, and taught us our chemistry so we knew it cold. Why, he even got in trouble with the university administration because he'd left his research so he could spend all his time teaching the students! He made the comments he did because he genuinely cared about each and every one of us and was worried if he thought a student might be making bad decisions. I have been nothing but proud and honored to be his student.
Hope that cleared things up for everyone. Clear skies and later days...

3:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Boring Lawyer (since bored people usually boring)

First of all, some people like details. Some people like the fact that there is a beauty to making something so perfect that it actually works. This might be a car, a contract, or a painting. Sure it is nice to sit around talking about the “big picture” but for many this is just not enough. They want to make something work.

Second of all, in life there are pressures. Not everyone can sit around on the beach all day. Sometimes we gotta perform under adverse conditions.

If you are going to cite cases, please be specific.

While there is conflicts between parties in law, at least they don't simmer under the surface like the cultural warfare that the PP portray between people like her and people like Brad. In fact, there is conflict everywhere.

There is even conflict in law schools, too. But, if you really want excitement and you are still at a firm you can publish. Unlike some fields, don't need an academic appointment to publish.

It just isn't true that “and if your hand slips on one of the grains of rice you get sued for six million dollars and disbarred.” You made that up.

7:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, my dear Andromeda; to be 19, again.

I'm glad you cleared up that you think the professor was right, but I still carry a differing opinion. Let me explain.

I was pretty math phobic. But going to college cures ya. And, at Pasadena City College, I was blessed to take a Physics for Dummies class. The class was pressed on me by a chemistry professor, who sat near me on a geology trip. She said I shouldn't fear it just because I feared the math. I followed her advice.

And, the teacher I had was a friend of Professor Feynman's. Turns out, PCC's science department was filled with professors who came from Caltech. Because Catech has a small student body. And, science is science.

So, one day I approached professor Miller, and asked him "why was he teaching dummies like us?" He just laughed. "Real physics majors are way beyond this material. As a matter of fact, he said, "all I do is either kick the kid in the butt; or I pat him on the back, as he (or she) goes about solving a very tough problem. People need the emotional stuff. Even the geniuses. Maybe, especially, the geniuses?

Meanwhile each of our lectures were FANTASTIC STUFF! I can even remember that first class. And, in the first moments, when Dr. Miller came in. And, stood on a round plate, twirling around. Then, sticking his arms out, akimbo, to slow himself down. He said when he was picking majors, he didn't pick chemistry, because the experiments took way too long to do; and smell so bad, too. He said everything we'd see in his class would be shown in those sort of flashes that give you epiphanies. Oh, yeah. And, he did.

Richard Feynman had died a few years before I took this class. But he told me back when Feynman was alive, he'd come to PCC, and take over the lecture. It was that much fun to each neophytes. You could just feel the electricity in the room.

Does this story have a happy ending? Does any? A few years later, when I was finally tackling the math, so that I could get my BA (in journalism) from Cal State LA, I had a wonderful teacher who'd let me chat with her in the hallway, before our class sessions began. At the end of the term she told me she had just heard Dr. Miller committed suicide by jumping off one of the buildings on the PCC Campus.

Why? No idea. Now that I'm older I know I don't have answers for so many of the puzzles I'd much prefer giving happy answers to;

And, picking one's profession; friends, or a mate, are all balanced between the great stuff, and the stuff that feels bad. Are we alone when we look for balance?

I wouldn't buy a used car from your chemistry professor. Nobody's got the relevant tools to tell ya what's going to happen in the future. By your abilities, you'll be able to do certain things. And, others? Some valuable ones may fall out of your grasp. And, even teachers, sometimes, go home and cry.

10:00 PM  
Blogger Thucydides said...

The most productive people in any field are those who have their hearts in it. A house painter who hates his job will not work with timely care. A disheartened teacher is unlikely to inspire students. A man who enjoys his niche will work with creativity and zeal to accomplish a definite purpose worthy of the time he gives it.

Those who truly desire the paths they choose are ready to fight their way to each milestone. They run an academic and productive gauntlet to get where they want--a true rite of passage. However, those people know what they're fighting for; they know that their efforts will be rewarded, and they persevere because they know that the achievement is worth every movement, every thought, every exhaustion, every late night. They do not hate their path because it is theirs and theirs alone.

Those people, those who make their choice despite parents and peers, become competent workers and valuable contributors. Some amass fortunes. Some don't. But they all get what they want. They get their payment.

Some pursuits that people find most meaningful have few career opportunities. If a person is capable of finding a job at the center of his passion, he should take it. If not, something else enjoyable will suffice, and the best pursuit can become a significant hobby or future prospect. But above all, one should never stick with what one hates. To hate the work of one's life is to hate oneself, and that's the most self-destructive proposition one can make.

Those who consign themselves to the dictations of a hostile world are condemned to a life of death. They are only following the motions they think they must, and they will never find the help of an indefeasible spirit within them. They may rise to a challenge, but not as effectively as one who will return with his shield or on it.

Both the author and her intro-chemistry teacher were absolutely correct. Miss Herman, candid and astute advice is the hallmark of an excellent teacher, not an abysmally discouraging one. Telling students not to follow what they hate will save decades of headaches for those who listen. In no way does it discourage students from reaching their true ambitions.

As for the poster who taunted that the "whimsical words of youth" would lead to a broken woman crushed under the weight of the real world, I have to say that your writing is clever, but good cynics choose better targets. To be the one who doesn't function as an automaton of others' words, but who demands a purpose and has the initiative to drive toward one, is to be one of the best-endowed people in a capitalistic society. Competent work leads to production. Production leads to payment by one venue or another. Idle desires crumble. True passions create.

I do not believe in the philosophy of "following your heart" down any blind alley. I believe in the philosophy of logic. Follow your brain. If it tells you that premed or prelaw or whatever else is not something you would enjoy and do well, you should have the spine to stand up and say so. It is not your niche. It is not what you should be doing. Find what you would like to do, and develop the skills to reach it.

Nil sine magno labore--nothing without hard work. Whatever you want out of life, you have to earn the right to it, and the first step in that direction is not to kid yourself. Don't be afraid to call a spade a spade. That is logic. That is the real world.

12:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thucydides, I spoke to Andromeda's "pre-med" post, from my own experiences. But I've gone back and r-read Andromeda's post, and it struck me that there's more than one chemistry class involved. Since we learn of pre-med students in an introductory chemistry class. And, then, about some "pre-med" students who supposedly cheated in Organic Chemistry.

Am I missing something? Does this story involve one professor teaching both courses? And, is there the possibility that this one professor (who knows everyone by name, among hundreds of names); has managed to do something in the public forum of the lecture hall, that a lawyer might see could hurt this not so small school in Ohio?

Where do you think lawsuits come from? Didn't I read one of Elaine's posts, about her own school's lackadaisical attitude to a female student who was raped by someone in her dorm? Wasn't this kid's dad a lawyer? Wasn't I left with the impression that money changed hands, to finally resolve the stupidity of the security and administration staffs who thought the case would go away if they doctored the evidence? Didn't. Did it? The ramifications were sad.

Again, everyone has their own opinions. I can see that Andromeda was not victimized. Because, that situation belonged to the "pre-med." Or pre-meds. In either the introductory chemistry class; or the organic one. Either way, real bullying of students is not the way most schools, familiar with the privileges of privacy, would use once some sort of cheating was found. And, you now have kids in class who know that this happened? Even know the individuals enough to point them out?

Long ago, and far away, before lawsuits woke teachers up to the reality that its expensive to hit a kid. Curse a student. Or humiliate someone. Or even haze students. Bullying came in many forms. And, we haven't heard from the victim(s). So far, we only know one side of this story. Andromeda's.

When did I become aware of the privacy that kids get today? When I went to college. And, a professor posted the results to a chemistry test, taken before the start of the term. It was a placement test. And, the results were posted by social security numbers of the students. On a wall, outside the chair's door. And, all hell broke loose. You're not allowed to expose grades. Names weren't listed. Just social security numbers. You have no idea the speed with which those test results came off the wall! I'd even add, sometimes, that's how you find out about our legal progress. Nobody wanted to get sued. Double this when you talk about exposing "alleged" cheaters to a whole universe of students.

By the way, being pre-med may sound cool. But most of the time it's no guarantee to a seat in an American Medical School. I once heard a statistic that for every seat filled, at least ten more people were turned away. "No room at the inn." Scarcity, itself, hounds the daylights out of your dreams. CAROL HERMAN

1:26 AM  
Blogger Thucydides said...

First, I should point out that Andromeda mentions an Organic Chemistry UNIT, not a class; in other words, it was the same teacher; it was an intro chemistry class; there were plenty of premeds.

Second, you suggest that the teacher harassed the premeds by falsely turning them in as cheats. The last sentence tells you, however, that the group caught did not primarily consist of premeds.

Third, there is no mention that the students could point out every perpetrator. There is the statement that the premeds had not been caught, but after all, he who is without guilt casts the first stone; they would not support the professor if it were their necks.

Fourth, the students most likely were not arguing their innocence, but protesting the punishment to be meted out. Most students cheat. I know this from my experience. It is therefore likely that these students were, in fact, cheating and were, in fact, caught. This probability does not constitute an absolute truth, but, considering the likelihood, I have to ask why you automatically assume that the professor is making up the charges. What would the motive be? Feeling like a big man? It is extremely improbable that a man who cares enough to tell his students they should choose a path that will not lead to self-loathing would turn around to serve a weak self-image with concoctions of injustice. Besides, if the students were falsely accused, they would stand up for themselves; after all, the professor would have nothing more to lord over them when their grades and their records were both marked down.

Fifth, I fully understand that most premeds do not become doctors. Both of my parents earned their MDs; I've heard all about the thinning of the ranks. You make a point here that is related to that of the original article, however. A lot of people who have not chosen a direction of their own try premed. A lot of them do not have the drive to finish because it was not their dream. So they do not make it. That's the reason for a lot of premed dropouts. Nonetheless, scarcity does play a role in medicine and in a number of other professions. But, as I addressed in my previous post, one is well-off to keep the strongest interest in one's life even if one cannot make a living off it; it might be reduced to the status of a hobby, but it is not gone. As for a career, the advice is not that you MUST choose THE career that is the be-all-end-all; it is that you should not stick with what you hate. If the reward you expect is not worth what you must bear, you should shrug it off. To give up the right to earned self-satisfaction is to sin against oneself. To have the "daylights hounded out of your dreams" is to admit defeat and give up without a good fight, without a well-aimed blow of resolve.

As for how lawsuits happen, there are two ways. The first is that someone gets shafted by a crooked or incompetent person. The result is legitimate and honorable litigation. The second is that someone wants to legally shaft someone else. The plaintiffs in these cases usually do have a grievance, but they decide that it entitles them to destroy someone else financially, whether at fault or not. The judicial system weeds out some of these frivolous cases, but it often awards vast settlements to fallacy; semantic confusion and groupthink go a long way.

Facts are facts. They are real, tangible, established, inarguable. A test is a test. A lie is a lie. If one scores lower than someone else on a test, one should deal with it. The score is not going to change. It is a fact. Why deny it? Perhaps the test wasn't perfectly objective. Fine. Other people had the same problem. Perhaps the professor doctored the tests. The truth should be exposed because it is fact. If a girl is raped and people try to lie about it, they should meet the full brunt of truth. Apparently they did in the case you speak of.

Now and then deceit can be the right choice; one does not give useful facts to an enemy. How, though, can a test grade be used as a weapon against you? If you're concerned about embarrassment, you should not be. It is what you made--no better, no worse. If you don't like it, earn a better grade next time.

Whether we admit the truth or not, it is real. Failure to face the facts is pointless and often destructive. A professor in Ohio did not let deceit pass; he did not allow some students to take what they did not deserve, what was not the product of their true knowledge and ability. He also gave students straight advice free of BS.

Don't be afraid to call a spade a spade. That is logic. That is the real world.

3:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the lawyer who doesn't like details, why don't you just go into lobbying (or as the DOJ calls it, “legislative affairs.”) I mean, come on, there are tens of thousands of lawyers in DC working on “policy” which requires the intellectual discipline of a lawyer with no need to make sure and pin down all the details. What a whiner.

Anyway, to respond to the other comments (from Carol, I think):

It is questionable whether schools have an absolute duty to expel anyone merely accused of rape by a girl. In the “real world” accusations are just that. But, you really didn't provide too many specifics. If I was to take your assertions seriously (that the lawyer-father bribed the school) I would probably want some more details and I would want to know names and the results of any inquiry. Most of the time, in these situations, the women recants or “decides it isn't worth the trouble.” This might be because he decides, after the fact that it wasn't rape, or she figures that her popularity might suffer. But, in the odd instance where someone was raped, a quick phonecall to the police (the real police) will start the wheels turning.

Can you please provide one example of a lawsuit (preferably with a reported appellate opinion) where a teacher (was this a college or highschool teacher) was sued for cursing at a student. If you can't, I will assume that you made it it.

Nobody wants to get “sued” but most of the time, when students threaten to “sue” people they are full of it. Students (usually Ashleys) are generally full of hot air. No real need to listen to their accusations. (In fact, under the FURPA there is no private right of action, but rather it is enforced by the government.)

Since it costs very little for most entities to have a truly “frivolous” suit dismissed almost none of them will settle. Indeed, since the plaintiff will usually end up being sanctioned or owing fees and costs, it doesn't cost that much. (Even if the plaintiff doesn't have any funds.) But, for some reason we like to tell the non-lawyers that there lots of frivolous lawsuits, when, there just are not. Thankfully, lay people take this at its face value and never investigate it.

If you want to provide specifics about admissions, they are available. There is no need to resort to “I once heard.” I think you might be exaggerating or mis-remembering.

6:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never been a lawyer or a doctor. I know plenty, and most in my family are doctors. But we've also got a professional ballerina/choreographer, and me, a journalist turned PHD candidate in education and public policy.

I didn't marry a Brad. I married a guy who was raised by a single mom in a one-bedroom apartment in Queens, along with two sisters. Catholic schools, put himself through college and it took ten years, then did an Ivy League MBA.

He is insteresting, unpreditable, and withou the promise of inherited wealth. We live well, have two great kids. We take big risks in terms of job choice and opportunity. He hates corporations, loves start ups. I'm an egghead.

My lawyer friends mostly hate their jobs, and for good reason. The ones who like their jobs tend to be prosecutors, but they are not well paid. Law seems boring as hell to do for a job.

Many of my doctor friends are also quite bored. They see sniffly noses, broken arms, hypertension, arthritis. Many are never on call, but work shifts in clinics.

The ones who like their jobs have more specialized work. Like being a pediatric ICU doc, or brain surgeon (yes, I know one). Or doing medical research on the most sick, or most confusing patients. Some these docs (research docs) get paid less than the orthopedic surgeons.

Sometimes I wish I earned more money. But mostly I'm too busy and engaged in my work and life to remember to think about it.

8:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For some reason, a lot of lawyers like to tell lay people that they hate their jobs. It might be that they chose their jobs wrong, or it might be that they don't want to seem nerdy. I remember when I was single and I wanted to have sex with a lot of women, I would lie to them and say that I hated my job, when in fact I loved it. They bought it almost every time and slept with me. I never mentioned that after I got home from work I would work on academic publications, and was developing a publication record. Most girls wouldn't understand this.

It seems that doctors are have taken technique that lawyers developed for meeting women and adopted it for their own uses.

Whatever the case, I don't see why non-lawyers claim that law is boring, when they know full well that that is a pickup line. (Prosecutors get to say “I love my work, but I don't expect to marry me for money.”)

Nobody will admit to marrying a Brad. Likewise, New York, where thousands of Jewish-American princesses live, nobody will admit to being one, but claim that everyone else is one.

11:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is nothing more entertaining than seeing a housewife (which is what any artist really is) declaring that the people that support them generally have boring jobs, and that their Romeo is an exception to the rule.

I have to come up with a name for these people.

1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Slow down, Thucydides. When I went to college "real" students took organic chemistry in their third year. Long after Introductory Chemistry was behind them.

And, the placement exam I talked about? Students well versed in math bypassed the "introductory course," by passing the exam given to the freshmen, prior to the start of school. As they would then be able to sign up for the classes they needed. Requirements. Versus the stuff that prepares ya for the tougher stuff, ahead.

And, just for the record, the reason journalists are taught to say "ALLEGED," when they're referring to criminal charges, is that editors don't want their papers being sued. Television stations, most with quite deep pockets, also abhor lawsuits. And, so we learn to speak a language that might not flow from the lips. But a university professor, unaware of lawsuits, is tenured? Really? In what universe?

Again, there are rules to the road. And, among the red lights that appear in large settings, where students sit, are the things that have been designed to offset liabilities. Heck, I'm not even a lawyer, nor did I ever choose to be one; but I'm not unaware of the things that can bring a professor's tenure up short.

So? Well, if we're going to throw around the pre-condition that guilt exists "because all students cheat," I'm not buying. Sorry. No used car salesman can work his tricks, here.

That there's grunge work? Tell me about it. Because I hate housework. And, never achieved any excellence at it, once I found I could blow it off. Because I'd still have to do it, or do it again, on another day.

Is there a pity to be expressed when a college course fails to encourage students to want to learn more? You know, I happen to think so. I'm an idealist when it comes to my education. And, I'm fanatical in searching out good lecturers. I do this to this day! How so? I buy the lecture tapes from The Teaching Company; and I listen while I drive. And, I've heard some of the best stuff ever recorded! It assails the intellect, and just makes me hunger for more.

What am I listening to while I drive today? William Manchester's second volume of Winston Churchill's "The Alone Years."

Have I listened to Richard Feynman's undergraduate lectures at Caltech? YOU BET! All 18 volumes that I've found. And, he's a hoot. No, you can't do the math while you're driving. Even though, interspersed with his words and observations, you can hear the blackboards being pulled up and down. And, sometimes, you can hear his frustration, when he thinks someone erased something from the board. But he finds it. Taps it. Repeats. But what captures my imagination was the imaginitive (and funny) ways he proceeds with the lecture material. Sometimes taking digs at philosophers. Nothing, it seems, was ever off limits to his sense of humor.

There ya have the best example I own. Richard Feynman was born to teach. And, it's a blessing someone recorded some of those lectures he gave way back in the early 1960's. Before Caltech admitted women. And, then the ultimate blessing on Richard Feynman's head, when he said the best thing was to admit women into the school.

Later, a student from my son's high school days, was accepted there. I asked her afterwards, if she was happy. And, she told me she was thrilled. I asked her if her professors were available (or did they hide? As rumor has it they hide at MIT.) She just sung their praises. Men with Nobels of their own, spent all the time requested of them, from their students. Doors open.

And, that's the real magic of higher learning. Doors always open. And, given the magic of technology, the best is available even to ordinary drivers like me. You got a better use for education?

1:46 PM  
Blogger Thucydides said...

Concerning the timing of organic chemistry, you can pick up an AP chemistry Princeton Review and find the chapter on organic chem. It describes the compositions of alkenes, alkynes, ketones, etc. It's not as advanced as an organic chemistry class; it's certainly easier than the third-year level; but it is a unit on organic chemistry.

As for the use of the word "alleged," it was not the singular issue. The original post ranted about how terrible the professor must be. There was no premise to believe that he openly discouraged his students. So how else would the students be "bullied"--some way associated with violation of the "privileges of privacy," it would seem. As this arose around the issue of students being turned in for cheating, the word "alleged" has little to do with the insinuation that the professor was fabricating the incident.

I should point out that I never said "all students cheat." Cheating is a lie, a denial of reality. I am a student. If all students cheat, then I am a cheater. Would I expound so much upon the value of truth and consistency only to condemn myself? No. I said that most students cheat. That's the truth. I pointed out that probability does not constitute a solid, absolute reality, but that, given the unlikelihood, one should question why anyone would automatically call the teacher a liar.

As for menial tasks, you make a valid point. Nothing ever goes away because we will it away. However, the upkeep of your possessions is part of the price of having them. You decide when you make the buying decision whether the work you've done to earn the money and the work you'll have to do for upkeep is worth the possession. If it is, you should take it. If it isn't, you should pass it by. If you consider a Ferrari but can't afford the insurance, you should not buy it. If you consider a large house that will be more hassle than it's worth, buy a smaller one and hire a housekeeper if necessary.

Your stance on the value of a good education is one I can respect. You believe in making good use of good courses. You listen to audiotapes so you do not waste your time while driving. However, this fails to contrast with the chemistry teacher Andromeda describes. A good teacher relates well to students, as hers did.

Good educations (and good teachers) work well with active minds to make productive citizens. A good education rests on fact and truth, and a good teacher is always willing to stand up for it.

5:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You said, “And, just for the record, the reason journalists are taught to say "ALLEGED," when they're referring to criminal charges, is that editors don't want their papers being sued.”

This isn't quite true. In fact it is quite wacky, and probably is an urban legend one of your so-called friends told you.

If the journalist has some independent source of the events, he would not be defaming someone to simply report it. (Of course, a lack of quality of the source might create a defamation action, but in order to get there, the plaintiff would have to show that the defendant acted with at least negligence, or malice in the case of public figures.)

However, when he is stating what the police or prosecutor told him, he is saying that THEY are alleging that a crime has been committed. In fact, they are reporting the fact that allegations have been made. (And if a reporter just made that up hurt someone he could be liable under a defamation theory as well.)

It is obvious that you are not a lawyer, but you really should cite caselaw on these subject before you talk. It is part of being American. And what separates Americans from the Brads.

8:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For me to be a "Brad," I must have just grown a pair. Maybe, old age does that to ya?

On the other hand, I don't think it's particularly nice, or even relevant, to call people Brads and Ashleys. Or Kens and Barbies. Or nerds. Or geeks. Other people's shorthand references leave me cold.

As to the word "alleged," which flavors news reports, I'm surprised anyone would want to trace its usage to "case law." Or feel that a person would have to be a lawyer to figure out why we happen to hear this word broadcast so often.

It's just a guess, here, but I'd bet we live under a system that says we're innocent until proven guilty. Sure, it doesn't stop gossip. But since when is that news? Aren't there better tools out there to help people fathom what makes groups tick, for instance? Or where they could find happiness without using a Ouija Board?

And, not to lose site of the original subject, we began with Andromeda's claims about pre-meds. And, a professor's comments to some students that they needed to change their career goals, probably before they turned 20.

As I said, I haven't bought the idea that this professor is "excellent." Why? I found the story too short on convincing details. Pointing, and shouting out "cheaters" in a crowded lecture hall just doesnt work for me. Telling me somebody's eyes looked dead, in what could have passed for a hallway conversation, also left me cold. And, I didn't jump to the same conclusions as the storyteller did, regarding a particular set of students who are supposed to be judged inferior, to unsuitable, for pre-med studies. It bears repeating: I just need more information before I'd make those judgement calls.

11:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reason people want to know “caselaw” (or whatever legal theory that you are basing your assertion on) is so they can tell if you are doing serious legal analysis or repeating something that one of your girlfriends told you and you were unable to critically analyze it because you took pottery and drama class all though college so that you would be a better catch for your husband.

See, in America, people don't trust other people's assertions of what the law is.

7:26 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

Because you are a woman, and thus clearly everything yous ay is suspect...

10:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Part of the problem is that colleges don't teach women to do serious research and critically think about things. Instead, they are just finishing schools where women say vague things in the hopes of impressing a professor and trapping a man.

1:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From anonymous to anonymous: Oh, dear. I thought we were past the accusations that women just go to colleges to find husbands. Does this still ring true?

I went to high school during the 1950's. In those days (back when women dreamed of the white picket fences surrounding their homes); I remember high school girls coming in with their engagement rings. Was their envy? Sure. And, comedy, too. I remember saying, when one of these rings flashed by my eyes, that some of these girls needed to wear slings to support their left arms, because the rings were so heavy.

When my son went to high school; he graduated in 1997, I don't think a single girl was engaged. And, I don't think a single girl had to take a year off in order to have a baby out of wedlock that would then be put up for adoption.

As a matter of fact, in discussing weddings these days, I noticed that my son isn't the only fella whose not married. Among his dad's friends, where there are more than a dozen kids his age, it's been noticed no one's married. And, oddly, too, none of the kids have gone off to medical school. While all the dads in this sample are doctors.

I also know when my cousin was at Boston University, graduating way back in 1949, it was thought "normal" to hear a math professor say out loud, to the women: "Don't ask me if you have any questions! Just ask one of the male students. Since you're all here to find husbands, anyway." Yes. I thought the remark insulting. But women, then, didn't know they could complain, IF such a remark even registered beyond just being "good advice." And, yes. My cousin did get her engagement ring at her college graduation ceremony. Wonderful man, she married, too. A rocket scientist. With a Bostonian sense of humor. Like Tolstoy said. "All happy marriages look alike." But kids today don't seem to be jumping in.

Yet, here, I'm reading that the same mistakes about women's opinions still hold. Maybe, it just takes tome for knowledge to sink in? CAROL HERMAN

BY THE WAY, I AM DEFEATED BY BLOGGER! I want my name to show; but I don't own a blog. And, registration is impossible. While it's not impossible on TypeKey. And, I wonder why? Does anyone else have this problem? And, if so, how did they pass the registration test? Advice, here, would be well received.

1:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps if women didn't act like bimbos, didn't drink, and worked harder I might take them seriously. But since they are just a bunch of giggles and repeated lines from “The Vagina Monologues” I am not going to think that we have changed much since the 1950s. (Though women do seem to go through an Australia-style “walkabout” wherein they pretend to be independent for a few years while they “date around” before being ensnaring a man.)

7:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

*wishes to comment, but will not feed the trolls as she really wants to go to Six Flags*
Ms. Carol, if you want to get a blogger account it's possible to fill out just the first page of the registration and ignore the second one where it asks you to register a blog name. It should work.

8:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You people need a hobby, if you're happy with your profession (which it sounds like most of you aren't), why do you care what the hell some 20 year old does with their life. It's not your problem, let them deal with their own and you deal with yours!

9:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, the reason I care (I am the lawyer who likes his job) is that I have extended family that will soon be going to college, and I think that years of being taught to act like a girl will diminish her chances of ever doing anything real. The Phantom professor’s discussion of various issues here has caused me to consider where people have gone wrong in raising and educating daughters.

8:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Worries about children are nothing new. And, opinions about the kids of "extended families," be they the kids of brothers and sisters, can revive old jealousies, and the digging one sibling can do to another. So, I haven't jumped to the conclusion that there's something inherently wrong in the ways our actually wonderful society, raises its young. Today's kids are exposed to adulthood earlier on. Through the very schools that then postpone so much of what once pushed kids either into marriages by the time they were fifteen years old. Or into factories. On the farms, however, work always exists for everybody. Cows don't milk themselves, for instance. And, the crops just don't role up into your doorways. But life, itself, is the greatest teacher.

Anyway, "Happy Lawyer" I'm no black robed judge; but you haven't made a case for your observations. Not that it isn't easy to blame others for your own insights into life's imperfections. But there's way more ways to earn a living in life than to be a lawyer. Perhaps just like "property rights," (I loved this one in Kelo! Not.) And, to paraphrase the legal findings. To hell with rights. All we've got per SCOTUS, when it comes to private property is a bundle of sticks. Each one measured and weighed on its own. So that the goverment can take away permissions usually granted to the sticks. And, the stones. If you want to throw a couple at SCOTUS, go ahead.

Even from "on high like that" poor decisions are made. Do People swallow? And, how far does even the SCOTUS' reach go, when you consider all of the sticks in the universe?

By the way, same is true about daughters. Too many varieties to tie up into one discouraged bundle.

As to career choices that have to be made by the time you're twenty? Oh, my gosh. I'd just tell kids not too worry too much. Just like young love. It can either last "forever." Or end in divorce. And, all along the scale people develop coping skills.

A really decent education sets you on the path that's only the beginning. Learning is lifetime stuff. And, my favorite professor, Richard Feynman got it about right, when he said (about himself), "the more I know, the less I know." As soon as I heard him say it (on one of my tapes), I agreed.

My grandma, born in 1872, wasn't taught how to read. Women weren't given this gift; while the sons were separated out and given more power to access books. Life then was hard. No machinery around to ease the drudgery of housework. And, the joys of child rearing; with kids coming often during those fertile years of marriage.

By the way? Once in school you'll learn that Utopia to the Greeks meant an ideal place that never was. With enough distance since then, that word still fits its meaning just fine.

Sorry to preach. Can't help myself. Successful on many scales, the one I love the most is MOM. To Elaine, it's gum erasers. To this old mom? When this nest was full it was the blessing. Then, college came in second.
CAROL HERMAN (And, yes, I'm still defeated by Blogger, that tells me I can't pick my "USER NAME." If it's not one problem, it's another. Always shifting me back to start, again. And, I'm not good at that.)

11:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon. lawyer #1 again. To the twerp who declared "bored people usually boring" -- I'm glad you're happy with your no-life, really, I am. In the last two hours I got the rug jerked out from under me by asshole opposing counsel who suddenly decided maybe he can't voluntarily produce the witness for a deposition after all, two weeks before discovery closes. One of my witnesses who needs to produce an expert report by today is not answering my calls. If dealing with this sort of bullshit in order to have the opportunity to present plainly meritorious cases to a court is "making it work," then I wish the making it work on the people who like that sort of thing. I would, however, suggest that anyone with a magnifying glass permanently nailed to his eyelids is a lot likely to be "boring" than someone who actually wants to be involved in activities that MATTER to something beyond stupid little unnecessary procedural twiddle. Consider the difference between a CEO and a tax accountant, and anyone with two brain cells to rub together (which obviously does not include the "bored people usually boring" person, since twits who spew meaningless aphorisms ordinarily do so only because they're too stupid to come up with their own thoughts) can take a crack at determining which is more interesting.

Oh, and by the way: the Fourth Circuit really did kill someone because they filed one day late. Rouse v. Lee, 339 F.3d 238 (4th Cir. 2003). Read it and weep, and tell me that ANYWHERE outside of the law and active warfare one considers missing a one-day deadline to be sufficient cause to murder someone. Not even the MAFIA kills people if they're one day late on paying their bookie. Needless to say, this was the lawyer's fault: (s)he misread the FRCPs to assume that the "mailbox rule" in rule 6(e) applied to the filing of a habeas petition. Is this the kind of detail-orientation you want your life to revolve around? Misread a miniscule rule involving ONE DAY and someone DIES at your hands?? Do you wonder why most lawyers are drowning in stress and neurosis? Read that case.

To the asshole who called me a "whiner:" is sucking up to congressmen supposed to be some kind of a better job? "Oooh, yes, Mr. Representative. Let me loan you my secretary for fellatio purposes. Ooh, you're so smart. Yes, this bill will be very good for your constitutents. Especially the ones who make campaign contributions. Oh, that reminds me, I have this fifty thousand dollar check here. Can I count on your support? Yes, I thought you'd see the merits of our policy position. Enjoy that cocaine: it's the best Bolivia has to offer." Yea, I'm sure that kind of practice "requires the intellectual discipline of a lawyer." Specifically, it requires the intellectual discipline of the kind of lawyer that bribes jurors, only members of Congress are a lot more expensive than jurors. And then you go to prison with your fellow slimebuckets like Jack Abrahamoff. Yea, THAT'S a good career choice. Can't you see Abrahamoff visiting the elementary schools in stripes and chains telling all the little bastards about the wonders of lobbying? "And if you become a lobbyist, you get to suck up to professional liars all day, then you get this nice orange uniform to wear and a cell all your own!"

12:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the way, the poor sucker's habeas petition had possible merit: one of the jurors was a racist. From the dissent:

In this federal habeas petition, his first, Kenneth Bernard Rouse, a prisoner under sentence of death, seeks relief on the basis of evidence that a juror who voted to convict and execute him deliberately concealed contempt for all African-Americans and a particular bias against Rouse in order to serve on Rouse's jury. The district court held that Rouse's former lawyers filed his habeas petition one day late and that Rouse presented no grounds for equitably tolling the limitations period and so dismissed Rouse's habeas petition as untimely. The majority affirms. Thus, Rouse faces his death, denied all federal habeas review and without ever having received a hearing in any court on his disturbing evidence of juror bias. With respect, I must dissent. If equity has any place in our habeas jurisprudence, and the Supreme Court has long "adhered to the principle that habeas corpus is, at its core, an equitable remedy," Schlup v. Delo, 513 U.S. 298, 319, 115 S.Ct. 851, 130 L.Ed.2d 808 (1995), then the exceptional circumstances presented in this case demand tolling.
I.
Eleven years ago, a North Carolina all-white jury convicted Rouse, an African-American, of the robbery, attempted rape, and brutal murder of Hazel Colleen Broadway, a sixty-three-year-old white woman. On the jury's recommendation, the state judge sentenced Rouse to death. After his appeal was denied, Rouse discovered new evidence that the mother of one member of the jury had been robbed, raped, and murdered by a man who was later executed for the crimes. When all prospective jurors were asked for such information at voir dire, the victim's son had remained silent.
After serving on Rouse's jury, this juror reportedly stated that he had intentionally concealed his mother's tragic death and carefully crafted his other responses to voir dire questions, because he wanted to be on the jury that judged Rouse. Moreover, this juror assertedly expressed intense racial prejudice against African Americans, calling them "niggers" and opining that African Americans care less about life than white people do and that African-American men rape white women in order to brag to their friends.
Because the juror did not reveal his own family's tragedy or his virulent racial prejudice, Rouse had no opportunity to object to the juror or challenge his ability to judge and sentence Rouse impartially. Based on this newly discovered evidence, Rouse asserted a jury bias claim on collateral attack in state court, which twice denied his claim without a hearing. Rouse then filed the petition giving rise to this appeal--his first federal habeas petition-- *258 but he filed it one day after the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act's (AEDPA) limitations period expired. The district court dismissed the petition as untimely, again without a hearing.


There's the majesty of the law for you, and there's what happens when you slip up on one of the grains of rice you're inscribing a book on.

12:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, Elaine is gonna be pissed. Now, we're suddenly arguing death penalty cases. But I do so wish to make a point.

LANGUAGE! In all its finery and freedom contains the cuss words; that Mark Twain said works better than prayers, when you get angry.

Still, for the longest time they were denied to "little women." And, I judge my own freedom by my right to say ANYTHING. I don't want to be held back because I'm a woman. And, it's in the freedoms of language, itself, that we do learn about people. Repelling? Nah.

It's a good habit to get into. And, I'd like to compare this, just for their thoughts, to William Manchester's take on Winston Churchill. I did say that I'm enjoying THE LAST LION, THE ALONE YEARS, so very, very much. Even though it's the gripping tale of all the signals missed in the 1930's, that allowed Hitler to grow such a monsterous war machine. The world did not avert war with appeasement. Let me tell ya!

Anyway, William Manchester collected all these details about his great subject. And, Winston, born around 1875; (I'm not looking this up. But you can.) Came into maturity; and joined Parliament on the last day of Queen Victoria's life. In other words, Winston was a "19th Century Man."

Now, that world was different than ours in lots of ways. And, Winston would never dream of cursing in front of a woman. No matter how angry he got. But he could get angry. Especially at staff. When he was on a roll, and dictating his powerful thoughts to others. Secretaries (and he kept five of them busy); who needed time to load the manual typewriter, not just with paper, but with carbons and copies; so their typed work numbered five; who NOT see Churchill explode! He was trained not to. Instead, upset with women, he'd stamp his foot. While around men he could keep up with the best sailor.

And, that's how language used to divide. So, dear Elaine. Don't yell. We're not trolls. A lot of stuff comes up from the ether in the best classrooms. As the brains of others are fired up. And, a "free for all" is a good thing.

As to the case where the death penalty was upheld, referred to above; do remember that all these cases are tried in front of a judge. Not that they're infallable. But the death penalty is serious business. It depends on the findings of 12 people. And, in the case above there was no "jury nullification." Just the Appeals process most of us don't understand; but if there were no deadlines then I guess a case could really be appealed forever? Beyond lifetimes?

By the way, some of the most exciting classes, starting in high school, come out of history, which may have a name change on the door, calling it now "political science." But, you bet. The Supreme Court rulings are put on the table. And, discussed. Along with wars. Presidents. And, the problems of technology. Because political systems always deals with them, here.

I don't remember the American president who said he hated the press. And, he hated the "system." And, then added, but it's the best we've got. Given human nature, and it's propensities, there's nothing like freedom. Free to choose. Free to believe. Do all lawyers think they must convince? I learned in logic that "ALL" and "NEVER" weren't valid arguments. To each his own.

As to the lawyer who sounds so unhappy, unfortunately I'm not Bill Clinton. Sorry. I just don't feel your pain.
CAROL HERMAN

1:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon Lawyer, You really need to consider whether you were not cut out for this kind of stuff. You are describing day-to-day headaches of life, to which there analogies in other fields. While obviously I have to mouth my disdain of accountings (more out of solidarity with law firms who lost business to the accounting firms who, for awhile, seriously pretended to be law firms), I don’t think you even understand why tax lawyers like to do what they do.

I don’t think that anyone who seriously is involved in prisoner litigation thinks that 6(b) applies to habeas petitions, because the mailbox rule generally does not apply to initial filings.

However, I should note that it wasn’t the fourth circuit that killed the person, but rather the trial court (with its juries) that probably bears the moral responsibility for “killing” someone who perhaps deserved to die anyway. The fourth circuit, when faced with a collateral attack on the judgment, simply held that the federal courts lack jurisdiction over such late-filed petitions. But, of course, the state could simply pardon the guy, or not have convicted him in the first place. Of course, whether a juror was a racist or not could have been raised in the state proceedings. (While, of course, I am not a racist, I am the first to admit that in just about all legal proceedings, or any decision-making that I can think of, our stereotypes about the way the world work are usually what guides are decisions, and it is darn near impossible to claim that any decision isn’t, at some level, based on a stereotype or two.)

While I generally dislike the death penalty, I don’t think that there is anything wrong with it.

Of course, if this really bothered you, you could devote your life to collaterally attacking state court convictions. Maybe you would good at this. It might not be as boring as your current job.

You could write law review articles, too. This might not be boring. All of my associates do this. They seem to find it exciting.

Anyway, I think you really should not have been a lawyer. You obviously like things that are more shiny. Or, maybe you can devote your life to helping people that have been convicted. Who knows? They might not have done it. They might have. You will just have to deal with those exciting moral issues, yourself.

PS: Because I like animals more than people, most of my pro bono work is on their behalf. It is quite rewarding.

1:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon Lawyer, You really need to consider whether you were not cut out for this kind of stuff. You are describing day-to-day headaches of life, to which there analogies in other fields. While obviously I have to mouth my disdain of accountings (more out of solidarity with law firms who lost business to the accounting firms who, for awhile, seriously pretended to be law firms), I don’t think you even understand why tax lawyers like to do what they do.

I don’t think that anyone who seriously is involved in prisoner litigation thinks that 6(b) applies to habeas petitions, because the mailbox rule generally does not apply to initial filings.

However, I should note that it wasn’t the fourth circuit that killed the person, but rather the trial court (with its juries) that probably bears the moral responsibility for “killing” someone who perhaps deserved to die anyway. The fourth circuit, when faced with a collateral attack on the judgment, simply held that the federal courts lack jurisdiction over such late-filed petitions. But, of course, the state could simply pardon the guy, or not have convicted him in the first place. Of course, whether a juror was a racist or not could have been raised in the state proceedings. (While, of course, I am not a racist, I am the first to admit that in just about all legal proceedings, or any decision-making that I can think of, our stereotypes about the way the world work are usually what guides are decisions, and it is darn near impossible to claim that any decision isn’t, at some level, based on a stereotype or two.)

While I generally dislike the death penalty, I don’t think that there is anything wrong with it.

Of course, if this really bothered you, you could devote your life to collaterally attacking state court convictions. Maybe you would good at this. It might not be as boring as your current job.

You could write law review articles, too. This might not be boring. All of my associates do this. They seem to find it exciting.

Anyway, I think you really should not have been a lawyer. You obviously like things that are more shiny. Or, maybe you can devote your life to helping people that have been convicted. Who knows? They might not have done it. They might have. You will just have to deal with those exciting moral issues, yourself.

1:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I don’t think you even understand why tax lawyers like to do what they do."

No, I really don't. Frankly, I'd probably commit suicide if I thought I had to be a tax lawyer my entire working life.

-anon. lawyer

1:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, some people see beauty in the “logic” of the tax code (if you don’t understand what this means, you just have not studied the subject enough) and others can’t be bothered to study it. Sure, it is daunting if you don’t want to put the time in, but so are most subjects. Of course, if you want instant gratification, take a pottery class and people will ooh and ahh over your pots within days. They will call you "creative" and pay you the compliments that you so dearly love from people who didn't become lawyers.

2:07 PM  
Blogger David said...

Seems to me that the issue is *not* whether medicine and law are satisfying, but rather whether too many people are choosing these (and other) fields or reasons having little to do with their personal inclinations or with rational consideration of alternatives.

I think that as a result of the propaganda of the educational establishment, lots of kid think that the world of work is a lot more rigid and constrained than it actually is.

8:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David is correct. I am at a loss as to why professors seem to delight in spreading this tripe.

8:42 AM  
Anonymous Cala said...

Not to interrupt the lawyers here....

But I wanted to note that I really enjoyed the original post, and found that it resonated with my own undergrad experiences.

The intro chem professor, who has taken a lot of abuse for telling the class that if they hated chem, find another field, has been judged a bit harshly. Many freshmen enter college wanting to be doctors; many discover at the conclusion of the first semester that a high-school love of chemistry and biology has little to do with their proto-desire to become doctors and more to do with excelling at challenges. And, yes, if they detest science courses at the college level, beyond the typical periodic hatred of exams, they should get out.

I am surprised at the number of people who read "they have not thought of what they wanted to do for their lives" and understood "omg! making money is teh ev0l!!!", which is nowhere in the author's post. (Hell, this author isn't even a humanities major, the stereotypical head in the clouds type.)

You can make money without being a pre-med major; and if making money is your primary goal (judging by all the comments about 401Ks I would guess so) medicine ain't the fastest way there. Unless you think $160K in loans really helps with the financial security bit.

7:46 AM  
Blogger Jodie said...

I think most people need to do something they enjoy, regardless of the money, because they'll be doing it for a long, long time, 5 days a week, 40 hours a day, for years and years.

I loved getting my first degree, but the getting and the doing were two very different things, and I don't work in that profession any more.

2:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A lot of girls major in subjects which teach easy undergraduate courses that cater to women who don't like to work hard. Then, when they get out into the “real world” they find that life is much harder because they are only fit to be secretaries (glorified or not) and then lie to themselves about whether their degree was ever any use.

So, they either try to go back to school or find a husband.

This is why feminism is dead. Women killed it.

11:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Premeds are annoying, and think they are entitled to have the world handed to them on a silver platter. I've never met a more spoiled rotten group. And then they tell me that I'm not smart. Being that before I changed careers I supervised premeds, I think they are actually pretty stupid. What idiot in his/her right mind would tell his/her boss that he is stupid.

Well, I changed careers because I was sick of dealing with premeds. And, I've received better medical advice from second graders than I have from doctors.

The only comfort that I have is that eventually one day all of these people will get nailed for malpractace.... Then who will be driving the 10 year old Honda.

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