Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Month of Changes

Right now I am without a computer. My laptop crashed just before my last final on May 12. I turned off my laptop and took it with me to take my final. Then it would not turn back on. Or more accurately it would turn on and start to boot, but then an error message appeared saying that Windows failed to launch. I talked to the proctor of the exam and she got a technician to come and look at my computer. He couldn't fix it either. I got to handwrite that exam. Fun!

That's especially bad news considering I was the only person to handwrite the exam, and the exam is on a curve. I do not hold out much hope of doing well in that class. I have not yet had a chance to have someone look at my computer. Right now I'm using the school computers to write this blog, check my email, and work on the competition to be on the Law Journal. Not having a computer has prevented me from playing many games so it isn't all bad.

Finals are a horror story unto themselves. I didn't used to stress too much about taking tests. Partially that is because I am a good test taker. But in law school 100% of my grade is determined by one exam for each class. I am surrounded by some very smart people, and once again, it's all on a curve. Nothing like a three hour test to determine whether it will be $200k well spent.

So after finals, I had four days to find a new place to live and move out of the student dorm. That didn't exactly give me a lot of time to celebrate. My new place is about 3/4 of a mile north of campus so I'm pleased. It's also in a better neighborhood than the campus. But it would have been nice to have a few days to recuperate.

As I alluded to earlier, I've been working on the "Write On" competition to be on the law journals. They released the packet the day I was moving. It's due next Tuesday night. (Happy birthday to me!) So I still have not had a chance to take a break and recuperate.

Then on Wednesday, I start my summer job. I'm hopeful, and at the very worst it will only be for twelve weeks. I'll for sure have my weekends free, which I have not been able to say during school. Also, it will be nice to only have to have one thing on my plate.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Word of the Day: Homophily

I was introduced to a new word today, and fellow logophiles might enjoy it: homophily. It is a word for the idea that people group themselves with likeminded people, or "birds of a feather flock together. I heard about it on On the Media which is my favorite radio program. Listen to it here:

I really like this word because for a while now I have been puzzling over the success of Fox News. No one I know really takes Fox News seriously, and in my circle of friends, it is a bit of a joke. And I cannot figure who these people are who are watching Fox News. Don't they know how obviously biased it is? But of course I chose my friends, and my classmates chose the same school as me. The Fox News watchers chose their friends and their jobs too. These days most everyone spends some amount of time on the internet, but once again, we all chose where we go, what we read, and what we listen to.

Ethan Zuckerman's blog about homophily is where On the Media got the idea in the first place. He has some good ideas about how to seek out new ideas.

Apparently, sociologist have been studying homophily for sometime. I thought it was a neologism, but apparently the word has been around since the fifties. (I suppose, depending on your perspective, that words coined in the fifties are neologisms.) The word did not catch on much then, but because it is possible to choose to only get news that confirms one's own world view, the word is making a comeback.

Read the New York Times article written back in December 2006, which points out other ways that homophily works: Amazon recommends books based on what people have already read and people like their dates more when they have a lot in common.

I never really believed opposites attract . . .