Saturday, November 29, 2008

Santa Clara - Heafey Law Library

This past semester I have overheard several, if not many, students complaining about Santa Clara Law, for one reason or another. There complaints have been numerous, and often contrastive in nature.  Some claim that the professors are mindless, and incapable of educating anyone.  Others claim the school's reputation (we exist in a giant shadow of Stanford) will keep them from achieving their career aspirations.  A few students are striving do well on exams, just so they can transfer out, transfer "up", to a better University.  I can only say, "good luck".  

I truly like it here at Santa Clara Law.  I have never been happier in one of my decisions.  Yet, there is one major flaw with this University...and I am sitting in it.

The Heafey Law Library is abysmal (at best).  It does not encourage great thought, but serves to seemingly crush one's soul.  It's appearance is repugnant, it is poorly lit, and the architectural design would be best described as post-nothing.   It is neither spacious, nor inspirational,  but a stark, sterile atmosphere wherein my hopes and dreams of a legal career actually serving the public, and making a true difference in the world, comes to die.

I know, this may seem harsh and undeserved.  After all, the library is functional.  It even has a facebook page (I certainly will never 'Become a Fan').  Maybe I should just suck it up for a few more weeks.  And while I am here,  I should at least attempt to be garnishing wisdom and knowledge, instead of writing this nonsense!  

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Lions, Cowboys and Turducken (Oh my)

I have spent the past week subjecting myself to the misguided, discontented views of the ESPN viewers and anchors alike.  Their argument is straightforward: America wants to see the best football on Thanksgiving, and clearly, the *ahem* Detroit Lions are not the best the league has to offer. 

Sure, the Lions' success has been practically nonexistent the past views seasons. Yet banishing them from the Thanksgiving Day spotlight would conflict with what the holiday is all about. 

Thanksgiving is all about tradition.  Watching the Macy's parade every year, eating them same, classic meal every year, and watching the Lions (good - Barry Sanders; or bad - Dante Culpepper?) every year.  Benjamin Franklin noted that "In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes", and, surely; had he the foresight, he would have added Detroit Lion football on Thanksgiving. 

Taking the Thanksgiving game away from the Detroit Lions would destory an American tradition.  Besides, we still have to put up with the Dallas Cowboys (boo!) every year, and we still have to listen to John Madden try to explain just what a turducken actually is, and why someone might want to eat such a thing.  

I'm rooting for the Lions, this year and the next (and maybe one day my Ma will cook a turducken). Happy Thanksgiving all...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Half a Billion for Twitter? No Deal!

This past week, Facebook, the social media juggernaut, offered to buy out the burgeoning Twitter for $500 million.  Twitter calmly said, "No thanks."  At first glance, dismissing this offer may appear to be a major gaffe on the part of Twitter, a company that currently has no business model(no money-making strategy), and runs a $75 million yearly SMS (short-message-service) bill.

Not so; this was most likely a smart move by Twitter for two reasons.

First, the $500 million was not actually $500 million dollars; it was $500 million of Facebook stock.   The offer was based on the pre-credit crunch valuation of Facebook, and "in these troubled times", such an offer is just not appealing enough to get Twitter to acquiesce to a Facebook take-over. 

Second, the ceiling on Twitter is nearly limitless.  The shear number of users continues to sky-rocket, and the notoriety of newer users (Britney Spears tweets) continues to spur more people to sign-up.  If, and when, Twitter develops a business model (which will likely be sooner than later), their earning potential will be enormous.  $500 million may be laughable compared to what twitter may be worth a year, or even 6 months, from now.

But wait, wouldn't it be only provident for Twitter to integrate with Facebook?  Not necessarily.  Facebook's focus is primarily for social networking, while Twitter is seeking to provide a professional/business service.  Keeping the two networking systems and services separate and distinct might prove to be a successful strategy for both parties (read as: don't mix work and play).

Bottom-line: Twitter made the right decision.  And, Facebook will still be as popular as ever.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

E-Obama - Accessing Government

It is needless to say that Obama's presidency will be historic, but I'll go ahead and say it anyways.

I simply want to re-emphasize and stress the true historic weight his inauguration will have. Not only will our nation have its first African-American president (just in case you did not pick that one up), but the ongoings at the White House will be thrust open by a policy of unprecedented, and hopefully, unbiased access. 

Obama has debuted his new "e-toys" prior to stepping into office, and by putting these accessibility mechanisms into play now, he has assured us that the governmental transparency will continue.   I want to briefly comment on the two prominent tools at Obama's disposal, the website, and his weekly 'YouTube Fireside Chats'.

The website is a phenomenal idea, and, so far, the execution is top-notch (go see for yourself!).  The site displays agenda items, policy concerns, and highlights upcoming important events.  It allows the American public and opportunity to provide feedback and input into OUR government. Most importantly it opens up the Government, and clears the air of the clandestine Bush administration.  The Internet has been around for the entirety of my adult life, and this website has the potential to be the most important political tool for dissemination of information to date.

Initially, I was enthusiastic about Obama posting his weekly 'Fireside Chats' on YouTube, however my feelings have been tempered.  The quality of the message was not to be faulted, but the production value sure should be.  Obama looks uninspiring, and well, un-presidential.  Just watch the speech Obama gave in Chicago the night of the Election, and contrast it with his latest installment.  While this comparison is certainly unfair on the whole, it still illustrates the point that the first Fireside Chats could, and should, look better than a High School project filmed in someones basement. 

In addition, finding the clip through YouTube's search function is troublesome.  Wisely, provides a direct link.  While the concept of taking advantage of a social media phenom, YouTube, is sure to be effective, there is obviously still work to be done.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

In These Troubled Times (Count It!)

I recently heard about an idea that essentially purports to create a new social metric to quantify our nation's current plunge toward general doom and gloom.  The idea is to take the phrase "In These Troubled Times", and Google it periodically to see how many hits the search will produce.  For instance, as of tonight, Google produces 159,000 sites that include the phrase.

Naturally, as the United States stumbles, fumbles and crumbles (yikes!!), more and more bloggers and op-ed postings on the web will begin, or will include,  that particular phrase.  And this will correspond with an increased number of search results, possibly even a longer search time (dear god, no!) 

In these troubled times, is it rational to expect such a trivial index to be a reliable indicator of the downfall facing our country?  Will the rate of increase for search results including this phrase taper off when Obama steps into the White House, or maybe the number will plateau when that $700 Billion we fronted to Henry Paulson starts to 'kick in'?

In these troubled times, it might not be that trivial!  Contrary to a popular belief, bloggers and social network users are people too.  They are capable of providing a fair metric reading for our society's gut feelings about the nation's current state of affairs. 

In these troubled times, if Google can track the flu, why can't we use it to index society? 

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Things to Come?

President elect Barrack Obama has already created 450 new jobs!  And it only will cost Congress $5.2 Million!  Change is surely underfoot...

In all fairness, Barrack Obama's transitional team is likely to be the integral device that will (hopefully) allow this new administration to hit the ground running.  The team plans on devoting the majority of its effort on the most pressing problems presenting our nation: fixing the economic mess and resolving issues of national security.  The transitional team has also announced that the will focus extensively on the "task of building government"; if they are suggesting that our government is in need of some 'building',  then someone sure as hell better break out the tool-set.

Fortunately, that looks to be just what Obama is intending to do.  

The overwhelming fashion in which Obama carried the election,  thrust him into a position of popular mandate.  He has claimed his "bully pulpit"... and rightfully so.   The political and social dynamic in the country is one in which a powerful, yet seemingly humble leader such as Obama can excel.  He has the opportunity to 'fix things'.  The democratic majorities in the Senate and the House will, in all likelihood, stand behind his  decisions.  Even most republicans will back him in the 'spirit of bipartisanship', and because they also realize what kind leader Barrack Obama is going to be. But the questions will remain;  how far and for how long will the people of this country stand behind our Government?

Change we need, yes! But will that change come? When will that change come? And perhaps, most importantly, will our nation be willing to be patient and persistent if that change is not immediately forthcoming upon President Obama's arrival in office?

The point is, this transition team IS the right step. Still, even with its $12 million price tag (the rest of the funding will come from private donations, under $5,000 each...break out your check books!), this team may NOT produce immediate, salient changes.  This transition team might ultimately be the foundation for one of the most efficient, resourceful and triumphant presidencies in the history of our nation.  Or, perhaps the best we can hope for, is that they can get that 'George Bush smell' out of the drapes in the Oval Office before Obama sets up camp. 

Will America be willing to be patient, and make the sacrifices that Obama has hinted are necessary, before we even see the light at the end of this tunnel?  Before we see a hope for change of things to come?