In defense of bunching

Despite a poor showing for the two teams from NYC, The Amazing Race continues to roll with another entertaining episode. This week’s Detour tested real world important skills (assembling Ikea furniture.) However, I did think that a roll in the hay with Lena and Kristy would have been much more fun than it was at this Roadblock…
Besides the structural reasons for the race being consistently entertaining, the sharp editing helps. For example:

Hayden: “Did you hear Jonathan screaming at Victoria?”
Cut to taxi cab
Jonathan (screaming): “Will you shut up and let me talk?!”

The editors have to go through a lot of footage to put together 44 minutes of TV and not miss gems like Bolo counting: “66, 68, 80.”
By staying in Iceland and Scandinavia for the first three legs, the race has spent less time testing the racers’ airport skills than TAR5, but been no less bunched. In this leg, the teams were all bunched together at two points– due to the operating hours of the train station in Voss and the Ikea in Stockholm. Although it seems to penalize teams that race well, bunching is a vital element of keeping the race interesting. If teams were truly able to capitalize and accumulate leads on a cumulative basis as the race went on, the race would lose much of its excitement and after some point in the race, there would be little to no drama about which team would win the leg and which team would be eliminated. The bunching keeps all the teams competitive.
The bunching also requires teams to run the best race at all times– no team can sit on a pre-existing lead. Instead, teams have to run each leg (or at least from bunching point to pitstop) well in order to advance.
ALoTT5MA: Now You Understand that “Needle in a Haystack” Expression
Previous TAR-related posts:
On Like Donkey Kong, My Ox is Broken!.

What’s wrong with law school?

In the latest installment of Five by Five at the [non]billable hour, five law students (well, four students and one recent graduate) discuss What five things would you change about legal education?
Like Jeremy, Anthony and Wings&Vodka, I would change are the OCI recruiting processes.
Many law students obtain their post-graduate jobs during the On-Campus Interview (OCI) programs during the fall of their second year, when large firms and government agencies hire for the following summer. The vast majority of summer associates in Biglaw get offers for post-graduate employment, potentially freeing the law student from job searching for the entire second half of their legal education. Because of this, many critics of legal education suggest cutting back the program to two years from three.
Because the OCI recruiting process is so heavily grade-driven (especially at a “second-tier” school like Brooklyn), students are recruited based entirely on their first-year grades.
During the first semester of school, students fly nearly completely blind and get little, if any, feedback about performance, yet the first semester grades are disproportionately important in developing the professional career. On the other hand, perhaps the first semester grades should be the most important, because they indicate how adept students are at quick learning.
First, grade the first semester traditionally to the students, but officially report the grades on a pass-fail basis. This allows students the opportunity to get feedback and learn from their mistakes, but to the detriment of students who master the art of Getting to Maybe quickly. Alternatively, require professors to give midterms during the first semester in order to have some kind of feedback mechanism.
Second, prohibit employers from recruiting first and second year students for no more than one semester in advance or until the calendar year in which they will be employed. This moves OCI from the fall of second year to the 2L spring, requires employers to base decisions on 3, rather than 2, semesters of grades, and gives all students the opportunity to delve into specialized areas of practice (through clinics or classes) and develop a better writing sample than those from first year legal writing classes. It also moves the hiring timeline for Biglaw more in line with small firms, public interest and government hiring.
To be effective, either of these proposals would have to be mandated by the ABA, otherwise there is a collective action problem (employers would tend to favor schools who let them recruit early in order to pick the best candidates and prefer those schools who provide complete grade information).

U2 Between the Bridges

Some obscure band from Ireland played a little free show in Empire State Park at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge this afternoon. Apparently they have some new album out, which a couple of people have heard about.
I posted some blurry photos from my phone while waiting on line and at the show: Line, U2 TV, Still in line, Anticipation, Vertigo, Sometimes.
There is no doubt that U2 owns the title of “biggest rock band in the world.” Despite a long queue, tall people blocking the view and mediocre sound, this ~45 minute set was great and the location is spectacular.
All Because of You
Miracle Drug
Sometimes You Can’t Make it on Your Own
City of Blinding Lights
Original of the Species
She’s a Mystery to Me
Beautiful Day
I Will Follow

Out of Control
(Yes, Vertigo twice.)
The new songs from How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb bring less rock than lead single “Vertigo,” but “City of Blinding Lights” and “Sometimes You Can’t Make it on Your Own” are the two new songs that stood out.
This will be on MTV at some point and also probably used as footage for the “All Because of You.” There will also be many photos from the thousands of cameras and cameraphones wielded by manic U2 fans.

On Saturday, U2 played Saturday Night Live with at least 50% more rock than usual and continued to play after the broadcast ended (U2log: One More?). Look for that on your friendly local p2p network soon…


It may be hard to make out in this cameraphone picture, but the line extended all the way down 53rd St and doubled back on itself multiple times. New Yorkers really like their modern art, when it is in Manhattan and free.