Friday, February 10, 2006

By Way of Comparison

The Law, Law School, Law People
  1. Quite high-paying, unless you're practicing public interest law. Pays better than any other academic department if you're a legal academic.
  2. The TV version is glamorous.
  3. The everyday, real life version of it (filing motions, document review) is less interesting than the abstract study of it, and definitely less interesting than the TV version.
  4. Fewer assholes than you would think.
  5. At most schools, there are decent public interest law programs that provide students with clinical experience helping out underserved/indigent communities.
  6. Academic journals are student-run, student-edited, but with short turnaround time. Thus, dumb fucks like me were deciding what is "cutting edge" scholarship by professors. We decide what is worthy of publication in our elite journal, where the commas belong and whether the argument was cogent. Benefit: shorter review/publication period, so the article can come out 6 months after you write it, so the topics are always fresh, current, timely. Plus, students apparently aren't that bad. Also, there are at least 20 journals per (elite) law school, 3-5 at even the crappiest. With so many venues in which to publish, the discourse is broader and richer.
  7. The dress code, even on the West Coast, is business casual, urban chic, preppy. Everyone shops at Banana Republic for everyday clothes. Everyone has expensive jeans. Girls wear stilettos and chandelier earrings to class. Men wear Diesel brand clothing. Everyone has at least two suits and two pairs of dress shoes. Everyone takes notes on a laptop.
  8. Everyone has bourgie tastes and habits. Everyone is familiar with independent cinema, the current season at concert hall and the theatre, the best restaurants, the best vodka, and the most expensive leathergoods. It is all about The Best. And then there are the identifiers: cineaste, gourmand, foodie, clothes whore, Ferragamo, Louis, Burberry.
  9. Everyone drinks, except the Mormons.
  10. Everyone wishes they had gone to grad school instead.

Politics, Political Science, Political Scientists
  1. Not that high paying, unless you're Ian Bremmer.
  2. There is no TV version.
  3. The everyday, real life version of it (voting, policy making) is more interesting than the abstract study of it.
  4. More assholes than you would think.
  5. At most schools, they let you out of the ivory tower to do field research.
  6. Academic journals are peer reviewed, which means professors from different institutions (a peer review panel) will circulate and review copies, before accepting it for publication, and edits will be sent back and forth to the author, and other scholars writing on the author's subject will be invited to review/write on the author's piece. Publication can occur more than one, two years later. Benefits: more rigorous process, dialogue with people in the same field. No dumb fucks. Costs: longer review time, so the work can get stale.
  7. The dress code: like crap. I have never seen a political scientist in more than a dress shirt on a special occasion, and they seem to have a thing for Dockers pants. Both male and female grad students seem to have a thing for sensible shoes and wrinkled clothing. Everyone buys their first suit and first pair of pumps when they go to the APSA conference. Everyone takes notes on (ironically) legal pads.
  8. No one knows what a blini is or what a cashew-encrusted tilapia with mango-pepper chutney tastes like. Cheap vodka will do. Fossil is pretty nice leather, right? Hey, the Gap is just as good as Banana Republic. They will also ask whether you know what Banana Republic refers to. (It's a small, politically unstable Latin American/Carribean country with a single-export cash-crop economy, and ruled by a wealthy and corrupt clique.) Grad students are better read than law students though, and just as into good cinema and theatre--they can't afford it like the summer associates, but they definitely have more time to enjoy it. It is all about The Bargain.
  9. Everyone drinks, except the Mormons.
  10. Everyone wishes they had gone to law school instead.

Blogs, Blogging, Bloggers
  1. Unpaid, unless you're Joshua Micah Marshall or you got that book deal.
  2. The TV media hate you.
  3. The everyday, real life version of it is just as boring as the abstract study of it.
  4. Only one asshole here, but there are plenty of others across the blogosphere.
  5. Blogging seems to be the chief activity of dropouts, recent grads, students who are procrastinating, and "aspiring public intellectuals." An entirely solipsistic activity of self-reflection, self-promotion, and self-congratulation, unless you count Bloggers for Choice.
  6. There is a debate about whether blogging can be academic if done by academics.
  7. Dress Code: pajamas, bath robes, fuzzy slippers, mugs of tea nearby.
  8. When you're eating Corn Pops out of the box at 11 pm, seared ahi tuna is the furthest thing from your mind. But the benefits of blogging: you can use other open windows to purchase concert tickets, that Kate Spade bag, and Grey Goose vodka. Because blogging is a solitary activity, it's not about The Best, or The Bargain--it's about The Blog. Fancy shoes are not required--but being witty, informed and sometimes funny is totally necessary.
  9. Everyone drinks, except the Mormons
  10. Everyone is avoiding school.

Comparison done, I'm kind of glad to be all three. It seems to be a nice balance.


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