Blog Ipsa Loquitur

As someone with an overwhelming amount of student loans, this essay from N+1 Magazine awfully hit close to home:

Since 1978, the price of tuition at US colleges has **increased over 900 percent, 650 points above inflation.** To put that number in perspective, housing prices, the bubble that nearly burst the US economy,  then the global one, increased only fifty points above the Consumer Price Index during those years. But while college applicants’ faith in the value of higher education has only increased, employers’ has declined.

According to Richard Rothstein at The Economic Policy Institute, wages for college-educated workers outside of the inflated finance industry have stagnated or diminished. Unemployment has hit recent graduates especially hard, nearly doubling in the post-2007 recession. The result is that the most indebted generation in history is without the dependable jobs it needs to escape debt.

This does not inspire great confidence. Oh, and one of the ilovecharts guys made this handy chart to accompany his Forbes.com op-ed; his essay is about how mine is the Lost Generation because old people forgot to leave us a market to graduate into:

Thanks old people. We all borrowed money to haul ourselves up by our bootstraps like you said we could, and we assumed that we’d join a workforce that could pay us. This assumption did not accurately reflect reality.

But either way, lenders were happy to put us on the hook for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, because they knew that if we didn’t pay, the government would. From the N+1 essay again:

With the secondary market in such good shape, primary lenders have been eager to help students with out-of-control costs. In addition to the knowledge that they can move these loans off their balance sheets quickly, they have had another reason not to worry: federal guarantees. Under the just-ended Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP), the US Treasury backed private loans to college students. This meant that even if the secondary market collapsed and there were an anomalous wave of defaults, the federal government had already built a lender bailout into the law.

In summary, we borrowed a lot, we can’t pay it because the economy sucks, so the government will pay it, and we’ll just pay the government. And also at some point we’ll ruin our credit scores. Yay.

Even then, your generation is going to die first, and mine will be stuck with the onerous task of paying off the national debt. Actually, realistically, it’ll probably be my kids’ generation. But I’d like you to know that I kind of resent your failure to leave my generation with an opportunity to retire.

Published on under A Day in the Life

New FBI statistics show that the “number of violent crimes in the United States dropped significantly last year, to what appeared to be the lowest rate in nearly 40 years, a development that was considered puzzling partly because it ran counter to the prevailing expectation that crime would increase during a recession.”

How significantly? Robberies are down 17.5% in the last two years. In cities with less than 10,000 residents, murders were down 25% last year. Nationally, murders are down 4.4% from last year.

The Sentencing Law and Policy Blog speculates why people are getting along so well. My favorite: “modern technology like the internet and HD TV leads a lot more people to spend a lot less time in crime-prone areas (like outside).”

Published on under The News

Herman Cain, Constitutional scholar and Presidential hopeful:

“We don’t need to rewrite the Constitution of the United States of America, we need to reread the Constitution and enforce the Constitution. … And I know that there are some people that are not going to do that, so for the benefit of those who are not going to read it because they don’t want us to go by the Constitution, there’s a little section in there that talks about ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’”

The “little section” he’s talking about is in the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution. Because otherwise, this wouldn’t be funny.

Published on under Irreverently Irrelevant

From Boing Boing:

The Boston Globe reports that AMC, National Amusements, and Regal cinema chains are leaving 3D projector lenses on for 2D movies. This means that the projected image is polarized and far dimmer than it should be. The chains won’t acknowledge that they’re doing it, but one quoted insider says its an “unspoken” corporate policy. Given that your HD TV set shows it just fine, and your living room doesn’t smell of weaponized butter, aren’t they driving customers to piracy?

Try this for irony: one reason operators hate changing lenses is reportedly because of crippling DRM on Sony’s digital projectors, which “will shut down on you” if a mistake is made when resetting the system. So, they just don’t change them, because serving a ruined product is better than serving no product at all.

You know guys, it’s really hard to sympathize with your dwindling ticket sales when you do stupid stuff like this. Also, I’m using the phrase “weaponized butter” next time I go squint at see a movie.

Published on under The News

A couple months back, I ran a conference about the future of legal education. The legal industry is undergoing a massive restructuring; entry-level legal jobs are being automated in ever greater numbers. As it turns out, paying someone $160,000 a year to search through documents is slightly absurd these days. Computers do all that work, and you don’t need to pay them, because all they eat is old peoples’ medicine.

One guy is streets ahead on this whole thing, and has formed a law firm with our future overlords. The coolest law firm ever: Robot, Robot & Hwang.

Published on under Irreverently Irrelevant

Wikileaks employee leaks Wikileaks NDA; universe implodes upon itself. From the New Statesman blog:

“This blog has previously described the bizarre legal world of WikiLeaks where, for example, the organisation claims some form of commercial ownership over the information that has been leaked to it.

“Today, the New Statesman can reveal the extent of this legal eccentricity as we publish a copy of the draconian and extraordinary legal gag that WikiLeaks imposes on its own staff.

“Clause 5 of this ‘Confidentiality Agreement’ (PDF) imposes a penalty of ‘£12,000,000 – twelve million pounds sterling’ on anyone who breaches this legal gag.

“This ludicrous – and undoubtedly unenforceable – amount is even based on ‘a typical open market valuation’ for the leaked information that WikiLeaks possesses.

“This phraseology is consistent with WikliLeaks’s perception of itself as a commercial organisation in the business of owning and selling leaked information. Indeed, there is no other sensible way of interpreting this penalty clause.”

The confidentiality agreement is itself under a separate confidentiality provision; even talking about it is a breach. Stay classy, Wikileaks.

Published on under The News