Tuesday, May 31, 2005


So starts an interesting article about how
new love can make you "crazy" and is completely distinct (at least from a nerological point of view) from sexual arousal.

In an analysis of the images appearing today in The Journal of Neurophysiology, researchers in New York and New Jersey argue that romantic love is a biological urge distinct from sexual arousal.

It is closer in its neural profile to drives like hunger, thirst or drug craving, the researchers assert, than to emotional states like excitement or affection. As a relationship deepens, the brain scans suggest, the neural activity associated with romantic love alters slightly, and in some cases primes areas deep in the primitive brain that are involved in long-term attachment.

The research helps explain why love produces such disparate emotions, from euphoria to anger to anxiety, and why it seems to become even more intense when it is withdrawn. In a separate, continuing experiment, the researchers are analyzing brain images from people who have been rejected by their lovers.

"When you're in the throes of this romantic love it's overwhelming, you're out of control, you're irrational, you're going to the gym at 6 a.m. every day - why? Because she's there," said Dr. Helen Fisher, an anthropologist at Rutgers University and the co-author of the analysis. "And when rejected, some people contemplate stalking, homicide, suicide. This drive for romantic love can be stronger than the will to live."

The "crazy" part makes perfect sense to me, but the part about love and sex being very separate .. does that mean all those men are right?! *gasp*

Shamelessly stolen from Pete.

Monday, May 30, 2005


I can't even begin to comment on
this. I am actually too embarrassed to even delve into the topic. It is, by far, the strangest news article I have ever read. It is because of the absolute bizarreness that I share it with you here.

*shaking head and blushing*

Sunday, May 29, 2005


Well I think I might have the record for THE longest comment ever. It was long, but it also made some good points AND was also amusing in some spots. It even quoted sources! A true law graduate author if I ever saw one! So, I have decided to re-post it here.

Nice post on the subject. Kaplan never entering this market is fishy. By the boasting ads of all these companies, you would think they were the keepers of all standardized testing knowledge, and that they are all but going to show you the actual test before you take it. Nothing unusual here, just your standard "mattress" sales pitch. Its up the a consumer to cut through the bull and decide what is right for them.I found your post through a link from a libertarian hands-off reaction to your posting and the suit: Kipesquire. Though expressing many good points of concern, the post lacked a thorough and realistic market analysis, and a perspective on what effect the "agreement" has had on competition and more importantly the consumer. I have found that, as far as antitrust litigation goes, economic analysis can support both sides of any argument, thanks to our good friends, the economists. (See Richard Brunell's article for an excellent explanation of these issues "Appropriability in Antitrust: How Much is Enough?," 69 ANTITRUST L. J. 1, 39-40 (2001) ) You are dealing with prospective future business here, wrought with variables, a glorified form of fortune telling in these economic analyses. If this was easy to predict, I would be on a very long boat off the coast of Tahiti, fishing for (insert big tasty fish with a cool name here,) and you would be restocking the bathroom tissue holder with yet another roll of "Bennys." Kip would be doing something equally interesting, probably a lot closer to the above activities, rather than investment banking and worrying about lassies faire economics. If you want to see the anticompetitive effect, look at the market from the customer's point of view. Antitrust law was established to protect the customer. The allocation of resources, although a large factor in an antitrust analysis and, when efficient, a very nice benefit of a competitive market, is not the goal of antitrust. The reward and promotion of technological advancement is similarly a common issue in antitrust cases, but, thankfully, absent from the proper analysis of the legality of an agreement, merger, or a monopolist's actions. Efficiencies are traditionally worked out in the market, and the kind of reward system for innovation, often pitted ideologically against antitrust, is found in patent and copyright protection. Leave this to the economists and patent holders for now. Personally, I am glad that there is a body of law to check those parties who already have the consumer by the cajones and would leverage this market/monopoly power to prevent competition. Really? What good is allowing Barbri to keep that (theoretical) extra $1000 without any significant competition? Oh yeah, suuuure, they are going to use it to make a better course with it, and everyone will be happier, even Tiny Tim, if only the big bad government just didn't interfere with the natural order of things. Simply Baloney! If Barbri’s product is really $1000 better, let them earn it and prove it, rather than steal it from the public with a little "wink, wink, nudge, nudge say no more" act! And the market left to its own devices can come up with some fantastic little numbers, contracts of adhesion, child labor, hertz, slavery, Donald Duck. OK, Im grandstanding, going overboard, and getting a wee bit silly, but I'll take the protection of this minimally obtrusive law and to hell with anyone who says its too paternalistic or socialist or whatever rhetoric they can dig up. Illegally stop competition (on the merits of the product, the cost, whatever) and pay the price of liability later. By the time the case is settled/decided, most of the damage is done anyway, and extreme remedies, like breaking up the "Bells," will only be a employed in extreme measures. Only a sucker would feel bad for them, if you don’t see the wrong in the illegal horizontal agreement here, please explain this to me, and then, please don’t shake me down for “protection.”In the name of full disclosure, I just graduated from law school and JUST shelled out 2K for the basic Barbri course. This course consists of a bankers box full of books and a "lecture," that will be played on a VCR in front of me and 30 other key-clacking, money-leaking, lawyer hopefuls. No, this is not a "gee, poor law student" post with which prolifically whining law students fill the net at this time of year. Hey, I signed my name on the line, I get to take part in one of the largest "off the shelf" monopolies around if I actually pass the damn thing. But if there was a little competition in the mix here, who knows, maybe the man in the taped lecture would not be wearing a butterfly collar and bell bottoms. Maybe I could afford the "live lecture" and all the bells and whistles Barbri offers. Their market power is massive right now. If you are not familiar with it, tell your standard law student that you are preparing without "barbri." Invariably you will get a "Good Luck?" with that inflection to make it sound like you are certified not to take the course. Its the Windows of Bar review courses, and there isnt yet an Apple with enough market power to challenge it. I really wonder if they are doing all the security patch updates they need to (assuming they made a product that would intentionally need tons of security patches) I prefer a self-study method, but "baaaaa, baaaaaa," excuse me, I did sign up for Barbri rather than another course. Remarkably, you would think that shelling out 2-3K for materials would be enough for this exam? I havent yet met a person, who isn’t supplementing it with PMBR or Micromash, or something else. I see a lot of room for improvement to say the least. Doing the math, Bar/Bri is raking in the cash here, claw over foot, twice a year, for minimal work and the vigilant protection of their copyrights. Also, the customer service I received this morning makes me want to leggo my Eggos after I already ate them. Its turned into a rant. I’m one of the people you should be asking about the effects, not someone who can theoretically put 1000 dollars back into Barbri’s hands, and assume they will reinvest it. They will not, especially without competition. What they will most likely do with this money is use it to continue creating barriers to entry in a market that could really use an overhaul. Sure, Barbri is good. They better be good, they've had 35 years to practice and cost an arm and a leg. Looking at the stack of books I’m about to study, I doubt they have erased anything in those past 35 years in the name of being concise, but that’s part of it I guess. Kip and you both bring up a very good point, the lack of any obvious remedy to the situation. Cant make Kaplan offer a bar review, cant make Barbri do an LSAT course, and we cant go back to fix whenever this issue crossed the line from independent actions within two growing markets, to a conscious decision to stifle competition in these markets, thought both player clearly could slide on over into the other market without much effort. Also, breaking Barbri up into different operation divisions like a Bell or a Microsoft isn’t realistic from a business standpoint, given the MBE and similar state exams. Also, its not an issue like Microsoft, where the product itself is put together to cause the effect, through tying and other arrangement. Splitting Barbri would be just plain stupid and would amount to nothing more than kicking them in the groin to give some other competitors a momentary advantage they will not realize.

The follow up comment was this:
I just read my previous rant, and realized it sounds like its directed to you. Sorry for this. If you read it, please read the "you" as an opponent to the suit. YOUR analysis was very intersting, informative and well written. I got it, I agree with you. Just tossing a few early morning pre-coffee spurts of venom into the emptiness of the net. Anonymously to boot.

Anonymously indeed! I appreciated the comments and you gave me something to think about and I can't even tell you personally! If this is you "pre-coffee" I can't imagine you after your caffeine fix!

As a side note I am also studying for the bar this summer, although I must sadly admit that this is not my first time taking it. I called BAR/BRI asking about a specific book since the state I am taking has added a subject this time around and I wanted the updated material. They offered to sell me all the books for this summer's exam - for $800.00!! I could almost retake the entire course for that much! I then inquired about the one book I needed. I bought this book last summer as a supplement for a second state I was sitting for. At the time it was $30.00, now if I want to purchase it I will have to fork over $300.00!! The price discrepancy apparently is because I am not enrolled in a course this summer [at their prices how could I afford a second time around?]. I cannot believe, even for a second that they can't make a profit unless they charge me $300.00 for a single soft-bound book. It is yet anther example of the flagrant price gouging they engage in and the advantage they take of stressed out bar candidates nationwide.

Friday, May 27, 2005


This blog entry is worth checking out, not for the content [on this entry anyway] as much as for the link to the video. Law students, candidates for the bar and attorneys take note, you WILL laugh your butt off. Trust me, worth the few minutes it takes to download and make sure to turn up the sound! [Fans of School House Rock will recognize the tune.] Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


Shocker - no, not really. I have always considered myself very middle of the road politically. However, I was intrigued by the breakdown.

My Political Profile

Overall: 60% Conservative, 40% Liberal
Social Issues: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal
Personal Responsibility: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal
Fiscal Issues: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal
Ethics: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal
Defense and Crime: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal

Interesting in any event ...

Thanks to Pete for the link.

Friday, May 06, 2005


Nothing terribly exciting has happened in this case just yet. However, Business Wire has a more recent article on the topic. It gives the basic facts and some background on counsel for both sides.

Just keeping it current ...


You might see everything else of hers on the internet, but you won't see Paris Hilton's thoughts online anytime soon. It seems, according to a
recent interview by CNN.com, that she doesn't know what blogs are and disapproves of the concept. (How you disapprove of something you just learned about it beyond me, but hey, stranger things have happened.) The young heiress had this to say on the topic:
Q: Do you read blogs?
HILTON: What's that?
Q: Um, they're these things on the Internet where people write about news and stuff.
HILTON: No, I don't really read anything on the Internet except my AOL mail. I don't like people who sit on computers all day long and write about people they don't know anything about.
Q: Paris, you just described my job.
(Her publicist, Rob Shuter, laughs.)

Am I writing about her right now, well yes I am. [Not that she'll ever read it.] And come to think about it, I do know stuff about her. As far as what I personally know about Paris Hilton, I know more about her than I do about some of my close friends! She has more info out there for public consumption than a seasoned politician. Do you know all the numbers in your friends' cell phones? Have you seen them having sex on video?? The world at large has seen these intimate details about Paris. So I guess that means I do know a thing or two about her. In fact, from reading this interview it is safe to say that she is a rather one-dimensional character anyway. How much is there to know?

Later on in the interview she goes on to say this:

Q: So are you really a ditz?
HILTON: That's just for the show.

Now call me crazy, but when your own publicist laughs at you during an interview your ditz status is pretty much sealed [if there was ever any doubt].

The rest of the interview is pretty mundane and lacking in detail and yes, the "I have no clue what is going on" vibe is certainly in the air. The interview is pretty much transcribed as the reporter didn't have much substance to work with to make it a narrative.

I think what really aggravates me about Mz. Paris is that she has all this opportunity and no real talent or intelligence to warrant it. She has more money that she would ever know what to do with and she doesn't appreciate it or realize that not everyone goes through life the way she does. Am I jealous - you bet your Louis Vuitton handbag I am!

It irritates me because there is no reason for her attitude or behavior or lack of apparent mental stamina. I have read the biography of Conrad Hilton. He was a hard-working, brave, intelligent entrepeneur who more than earned everything he had. Paris Hilton is the antithesis of her grandfather. She is spoiled and pampered to the extreme. She is famous for, well for being famous. There are plenty of other "rich kids" who don't suck the spotlight as much as she does [if at all]. Some people are born with money - I can deal with that. However, I don't agree with the whiney, self-indulgent blank stare I see from her. She could go to college, she could do charity work. She could even sit at home with her teacup dog and just shut up for five minutes and not embarrass her family's legacy.

I know I sound harsh and judgmental, but I just don't think she has any right to put herself out there when she can't even string together coherent sentences. She is not the least bit self aware and then she claims she is not a ditz. Not a ditz?!!? She is the poster child for the ditzes!

I can only hope she will redeem herself in her newest venture into the movies, House of Wax. Maybe she does have some talent in there somewhere. I won't hold my breath.

Monday, May 02, 2005


So apparently
BAR/BRI [or BarBri if you prefer that spelling] and Kaplan have been getting a tad too cozy. On April 29th a lawsuit was launched against them as co-defendants alleging anti-trust violations. See the press release HERE and you can find the actual complaint HERE in PDF format. The basic jist is that they apparently made a little secret agreement whereby Kaplan agreed not to enter the Bar Exam Prep arena [which they were seriously considering] if Bar/Bri agreed never to try their hand at LSAT prep/review. Now, I for one, have always wondered why these two companies never did just that very thing. If Bar/Bri is all about law school then why don't they help undergrads prepare to be accepted? And why did Kaplan, one of the head honchos of the test prep biz [along with Princeton Review] never enter into the field of coaching folks on passing professional licensing exams such as the Bar Exam? I guess that quandry is a little clearer now. To be sure there are other bar review courses out there, however it is estimated that 95% of people who take review courses take BAR/BRI.

SIDENOTE: If you're really interested in what is available, the only other "full" review course I am aware of is Pieper. For a 10 day or 3 day concentrated review on multi-state subjects only there is PMBR and for those brave enough to study "on their own" there is a computer program you can purchase called MicroMash.

Anyway, as I was saying:

For those who have never had the unique "pleasure" of bar review, it's torture, BUT it's absolutely necessary. [Some people would debate me on that, but I can't see how one would even begin to study for the bar exam without some sort of program or guide to help digest all that material - some of which you never even get to take in law school! But I digress ...] Another thing about bar review, is it is VERY expensive. Bar review is so expensive that education loan lenders have created a special loan program called a "bar loan" to help finance that all important summer after graduation when newly minted JDs prepare for the bar exam all over the country. Personally I paid almost $3,000 to prepare for the bar exam[s] so you can see what a lucrative business it is to be in. If Bar/Bri is purposely making sure that market stays small so that they can jack up their prices then that's just plain wrong.

Bar review companies know they have recent law grads by the throat. We all live in mortal fear of failing and after three years of toiling we will pay just about anything to make sure we pass. Bar/Bri does an excellent and comprehennsive job, don't get me wrong. They constantly update their programs to make sure they are teaching what is being tested. They try to engage interesting speakers who are experts in the covered subjects and they even go so far as to try to minimize the mass hysteria that grips law grads as the exam approaches. They send postcards with funny comics and give words of reassurance prior to lectures, and they even call every single student right before the end of the program to see if we have any last minute concerns or questions. That type of program can't come cheap, but is it worth almost $3,000 for roughly seven weeks of programming?

I did find one detractor in cyberspace who didn't think the defendants were wrong in the current situation, however his beef seems to be more about antitrust litigation in general rather than the sweet deal Bar/Bri and Kaplan made, however I include his point of view here for completeness.

There are several possible outcomes from this lawsuit. Number one, it could be dismissed for a variety of reasons. Number two, if found guilty, the defendants could be forced to break up a la "Ma Bell" and the "Baby Bells" [if you are old enough to remember that]. This could result in a "NY Bar/Bri" and a "NJ Bar/Bri" although that solution still doesn't create any new competitors since all bar exams are state specific in some way. A third scenario is that there could be a settlement. In a settlement, only the named plaintiffs could receive a payment OR every member of the class could receive some money or other type of compensation. [Vouchers for free bar review courses doesn't strike my fancy, but I guess it all depends on the creativity of the attorneys drafting the consent decree.] A consent decree would set out the terms, but potentially everyone who has taken a Bar/Bri course within a specified period of years could be entitled to some restitution, and all future law grads would pay less to begin with. In any event, these things take years and I, for one, will be watching this one.

The real kicker here is that a lot of people complain that even when class action suits settle in favor of the plaintiffs the lawyers get most of the settlement money. Now consider this situation, if the plaintiffs prevail the lawyers who worked on the case get a portion of the settlement [usually 1/3] and ALL the plaintiffs, both named and class members, get the rest and they are also all lawyers! [In fact in an interesting twist the attorneys of record in the case could be potential class members creating an interesting ethical dilemma - but that is a discussion for another time.]