Friday, June 25, 2010

The Game

In response to my blog on networking, anonymous comments as follows:

"Little and big cliques arise that tend to retard rather than advance the scholarship in that area."

One of the oddest pieces of advice I received from a law professor on trying to break into the academy was to approvingly cite influential scholars and follow up with them to create a "citation ion orgy."

As usual this "A" hits the nail on the head. It also sback a memory of riding in a car several years ago with a more senior law professor. In fact, it was one of my former professors who has done extremely well. WA bit of a mentor. We were chatting about a law professor who had been in the business about as long as I had and he observed "He really knows how to play the game." He said this with complete admiration. Playing the game meant that day's version of self promotion. For example, he might refer to a relatively modest book review in the Harvard Law Review as "my piece in Harvard." Actually today since Harvard has many law reviews this is an even more common ploy. No matter if you are in the 10th ranking specialty review you call it "my piece in Harvard."

But playing the game was so much more than just that. Today's technology means one can be a full time game player.

It reminds of a story told about Harrison Ford trying to get a job in Hollywood. Evidently he was being told why he could not succeed and the person showing him a clip of Tony Curtis playing a delivery boy. The director or agent said about Curtis, "You can just tell he is a star." Ford's reply was "I thought he was supposed to be a delivery boy."

And I thought law professors taught and wrote and did not worry about "the game." What I do not understand is why they did not go into another line of work -- business, sales, administration, politics, etc. Actually both the former professor and the young professor he admired so much did exactly that.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Summer Rerun in Honor of Futbol: Juice

One of my favorite things in Rio is the juice bars. This photo is of my personal favorite. They are on virtually every corner. Most have not just juice but what I would call diner food. Actually, I am not sure I ever ate in a diner but it is what I imagine diner food to be. Some you stand at and some have seats with tables and then some have additional tables that you can pull up to park benches on the side walk.

I never heard anyone cop an attitude at a juice bar. I never saw anyone whine at a juice bar. No one care about status. No matter who you are you get the same juice and the same seat and the same service as anyone else and no one expects special treatment.

You do not pick a juice bar on the basis of its name or the training of the cooks and juicers who work there. Performance is the only thing that counts; the better the juice, food and service, the more customers it has. As a customer, if you do not produce you get no juice, or anything else.

Law schools should operate more like juice bars.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Marti Gras in Your Mouth

Here is a dessert treat I think I invented. You'll need some angel food cake, that really good greek stype yoghurt, and sugar. Maybe some colored sprinkles.

Put a slice of angel food cake in a bowl and chop it up. Add the yogurt and mix thoroughly untill there are only chucks of the cake. Now take a bunch of turbanado or "sugar in the raw" and mix it all in. Also add a dash of colored sprinkles -- mainly for presentation purposes.

Chill and eat. Wonderful sometimes crunchy, sometimes cakey and sometimes a little tart flavours all follow one after the other. You will be smiling and reaching to make more. Eat with your eyes closed and it is even better.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Behave for success: Part 2

[A recent commentator responded to the post below with the question of whether I do any of these things. I am pretty sure that I do not. I am not as outspoken as I once was but it has nothing to do with strategic behavior designed to advance my own interests. Instead, as a friend advised me, I was just spitting into the wind.]

It's not an official term but what I use to describe those with working class backgrounds who end up in the world of academics is "socioeconomic displacement." In other words, your parents did not go to college, you are the first in the family to do so and your natural career path might be middle management somewhere. Instead you end up is a strange world. The big advantage of the displacement is to observe the behavioral traits of those born to privilege and choose whether to imitate them. If you are willing to imitate, here are some sure fire tips some of which have appeared before in this blog.

1. Be careful not to overuse "please" and "thank you." These are words of weakness. They suggest you are asking for something to which you are not entitled or have received something that was not rightfully yours all along. So you write to a college and ask, "Could you explain the difference between Marx and Ted Koppel." When the careful answer comes back do not instantly write. "Thanks. That really helps!" No, say nothing or if you feel really pinned down when you see the person say "Thanks for your response." This does n0t mean that the response helped -- that would be too much to concede -- but gets you off the hook from expressing any sense of obligation.

2. If you do anything ever, no matter how greedy you were about it, remember to express it as "volunteering." You know. "I am volunteering to let you pick you the tab for lunch." Or, "I volunteered to fly to Paris for the law and fashion conference." Volunteering means someone owes you, not the other way around.

3. Never oppose the administration on behalf of someone other than yourself. A faithful employee gets fired, not your problem. The dean says he is giving his buddies a raise and asks you what you think. It looks good to you as long as you were not eligible for the same raise.

4. Take no position unless you have a great deal of company. This is important. There is no right, wrong, good or evil. It is all about protecting your options. Even if you teach professional responsibility, talk about ethics or attend church or temple. Lying, half-truths, nondisclosure are all permitting in service to yourself no matter how low the benefit to you or high the cost to someone else.

5. If you take a position, show that it does not matter that much. If you show passion or caring you show weakness.

6. Use information strategically. If you have information that someone else wants it is of value to you if only because someone else wants it. Even if it seems worthless to you, hang in there. Some one may ask you and instantly your importance increases.

7. If you are in a discussion and feel you are not convincing the other person, quickly pull out one of the old favorites -- incivility, bullying, offensive behavior. Forget the fact that overuse of these words minimizes real instances of cruelty and inequity.

You are on your way to being a true "professional."

Monday, June 07, 2010

Obama, Look behind you!

Yes, Obama has now announced he is trying to figure whose "ass to kick." Duh, welcome to the party dude but you are about 6 weeks too late. Doesn't the USA have a few thousand boats at least some of which could be used in the clean up. Or a few thousand national guards people who can use a shovel.

Obama, want an ass to kick? Other than BP, I suggest looking behind you.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Oil Spill Chesapeake Bay

I'll just throw this out there. Suppose the BP catastrophe that is affecting mainly working class people in Southern Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi were in the Chesapeake Bay. Do you suppose there would have been more national attention, more pressure brought to bear on BP and Obama may have become "furious" sooner? Which group has more clout? Red neck shrimpers on the Gulf Coast or well-heeled North Easterners with vacation home on the Bay. Or how about a spill off Massachusetts maybe near the Vineyard.

Friday, June 04, 2010


I read in the paper today that Obama is furious about the oil spill. That really helps!! Right?