Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Yoga Therapy

Therapeutic yoga is basically a system of self treatment . According to yogic view , diseases , disorders and ailments are the result of some faulty ways of living , bad habits, lack of proper knowledge of things related to individual's life and improper food. The disease are thus the resultant state of a short or prolonged malfunctioning of the body system. This malfunctioning of the body system . This malfunctioning is caused by an imbalanced internal condition, created due to certain errors of the individuals.People will turn to Yoga therapy only when they have some health problem for which there is no treatment available in the modern science or there are treatments available are not having satisfactory results. Yoga therapy is really useful for many of the chronic diseases which often can be attenuated but not cured and also for the psychosomatic ones, where the psychic factor is especially evident and which are therefore difficult to treat with the common medical methods.In any medical systems the primary reliance is on medicine. It is assumed that a particular medicine will cure a particular diseases . The medical doctor does the diagnosis, identifies the disease and prescribes a suitable medicine . The patient in this system has to do very little or nothing at all. The task of correcting the diseases and disorder and restoring the health is assigned to the medicine.

Seen in this context , there is a contrast between the medical system and yogic system of treatment . Where as in the medical system an external agent medicine does the corrective work, in the yogic system this external agent is not needed at all. As said earlier, it is the patient himself whose personal understanding , practice and care cures his disease in the yogic system.Patients suffering from various chronic disease, who had lost their faith in the medical system because in spite of years of treatment they had not achieved the permanent and satisfactory cure. In certain cases, the medicine provided them immediate relief, but not a lasting cure. On the other hand , a great number of such patients achieved the permanent cure through therapeutic yoga. This has specially been so in a cases of diabetes , arthritis and various other cases.This limitation of the medical system should not mean that it is inferior to the yoga system; rather it is only a matter of the limitation and scope of a given system . There are areas where only the medical science and not yoga can come to the rescue of the patient. Similarly , there are certain diseases ,which , though regarded incurable through medicinal system, are definitely cured through yoga.This shows that every stem of treatment has certain unique points as well as limitations.Further , the medical treatment has now become so expensive that millions of people all over the world can not afford it. It is, therefore, not surprising that our hospitals now fail to provide medicines to the patients although they used to do so liberally in the past . Yoga on the other hand does not involve any expenses .Therefore , it would be prudent on the part of the medical men to adopt and use this tested ancient system of yoga, for treating those diseases and ailments whose medicinal cure is not certain. Since the system of therapeutic yoga is now scientifically established , it can be used as a "self-cure" method by people suffering from various disorders in any part of the world.What can Yoga therapy offer these patients? The approach. Theoretical and practical, to disease, or better, to the person who is suffering from a disease, or better, to the person who is suffering from a disease, differs very much from the one of medical science. The latter tries to isolate the pathogenic factor - a micro organism, a toxic substance, a metabolic disorder - and eliminate it. Of course, this principle is valuable, but it fails if the etiology is unknown. In this case the therapy must be symptom-oriented and often proves unsatisfactory. Yoga on the other hand, even if it doesn’t refuse the scientific explanation of a disease, looks at it from another point of view: from the personality of the patient. If he is ill there must be a deeper reason behind it - a disease doesn’t arise by chance. There is an imbalance, a disturbance in whole body-mind-complex which creates a disease condition. The symptoms, the pathogenic factors, the name of the disease are not the main issue - the root cause lies elsewhere. Yoga holds that it depends on the individual himself if he is sick or healthy. The same instance which causes the disease condition can also cure it. What is called natural healing power is nothing other than that. It’s nothing mystical from outside, but an inner capacity. All that is required is not to interfere with it. Yoga Therapy tries to re-establish the inner balance by various means, working from the gross to the subtle. On the physical level it uses: Asanas: They energize the organism, create awareness of the body and its function and stabilise the mind. Kriyas: These are simple hygienic procedures which support the body’s own cleansing mechanisms and draw the attention of the mind towards the affected area. Pranayamas: These are breathing techniques which have very subtle influences on the whole organism. Diet: Many diseases are directly or indirectly linked with wrong food habits. A change in diet can stimulate the whole system. Simple Nature-cure Techniques: The elements water, air, sun and simple procedures like massaging or steam inhalation are used as a support.

The second line of therapy is the work on the mind. Mental disturbances - anxieties, confusion, unsteadiness are the most important factors which can cause a disease condition. Therefore, various techniques have been developed to create positive mind states. Among others there are: Relaxation: both physical and mental. Conditioning : Sitting in a meditative posture one tries to calm down and centre oneself. Bhavanas: Contemplation on certain basic ideas like the transitoriness of all things can stimulate a change of attitude towards life. These are some of the technical means that may be used. The technical aspect is however of minor importance compared to the primary goal: to create a condition which can encourage the patient to give free way to his own inner forces. If he succeeds in doing so, the results can be surprising. If not, Yoga-Therapy is at its limits - it can work only together with nature, not against it. Yoga has claimed that tension is disease and relaxation is health. To this end the whole eightfold path of Yoga is to purify the body mind complex.

Since the root cause of a disease lies in the mistakes of the individuals , its cure also lies in correcting those mistakes by the same individual . Thus, it is the individual himself who is held responsible in both the cases , that is , for causing as well as curing the disease. This being the basic assumption in the system about the nature of the trouble and its remedy , there is total reliance on the effort of the patient himself . The yoga expert shows only path and works no more than as a counsellor to the patient .

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Natural ways to keep you face shining!

It it really important to take care of your face as our looks do matter in this modern world, but using modern products on face is not good in long run, they had modern facial products had thier sided affects. So we present you some really wonderful natural face masks.


Cucumber helps in toning the skin. The wonderful and remarkable properties of Cucumber is that it makes skin whiter, cleanse the skin, tightens pores,eliminate acne , tone the skin,remove spots and freckles.

Cucumber mask (for dry skin)

Mix a small cucumber roots with a cup of oatmeal and a tablespoon of yogurt characteristics. Apply a thick layer of the skin and let it in 30 minutes. Then wash with warm water and leave to dry.

Cucumber mask (for oily skin)

Mix the whipped glair with two tablespoons of cucumber juice. Mix well and put a mask on the face, soak it for 15-20 minutes then rinse off with water (preferably mineral water). This facial mask is great for oily skin, it refreshes, smooths wrinkles and tightens pores.


Honey is not only a common component of many facial masks,Honey has amazing properties that make it perfect for the sensitive skin of the face. Benefits-of-honey.com describes the “three key valuable honey properties” as a source of antioxidants, antibacterial, and hygroscopic. Hygroscopic means “when exposed to air, it naturally absorbs moisture in from the air.”

It is also will do the job just by itself without any preparations and additional ingredients required. Just take pure honey and apply to your face, lips and hands, if you wish. Allow it to dry for about 15 minutes and rinse with warm water.

Honey mask (for all skin types)

Apply a thin layer of honey to the room temperature moderate to moist skin, and stay that way for 5 minutes. Carefully washed with warm water, then with cold water, then use a towel if it is still stick.


Yogurt is a nutritious food that aids in digestion and provides minerals such as calcium and zinc for strong bones, teeth and immune system. Yogurt also has vast benefits when topically applied to the skin. Always remember when using yogurt on the face: Make sure that it is plain and has live active cultures for best results.

Yogurt mask (for oily skin)

Mix a half cup of yogurt for yeast. Apply to face in the circle for such of 5 minutes, then rinse with warm water.


Banana is rich in vitamin A and potassium. Tha natuarlnourishing and moisturizing skin care ingredient.

Banana face masks help keep skin super soft and smooth.

Banana mask (anti aging)

Crushing a ripe banana until it is smooth and apply a thin layer on the surface. Leave for 10 minutes, then rinse with warm water and pat dry. Your skin is soft and smooth!

Banana and yogurt mask (for dry skin)

Crushed 1 / 4 ripe banana, then mix with half cup of yogurt and a teaspoon of honey. Apply a thin layer on face and leave for 10 minutes then rinse with warm water. Your skin will be moisturized and smooth.


Avocados are Mother Nature's skin moisturizer. With their healthy fats and phytonutrients, they offer remarkable benefits to human skin

Avocado mask (for all skin types)

A ripe mashed avocado until creamy smooth it, then apply a thick layer on the surface. While waiting 15 minutes to dry the mask, you can add two pieces of cucumber on the eyes. Rinse with warm water, then cold water and leave dry.


Oatmeal is great at exfoliating so removes any dead skin. It can also help with dry skin that itches too. In fact, the amino acids that is in oatmeal also has anti-ageing properties. It can your body to produce collagen, which can help to make you look younger. Its why you find it in so many anti-ageing creams. In fact, collagen is also used in some cosmetic surgery such as for plumping up the lips, but you dont need to go to all that trouble when your trusty old oatmeal can help you.

Oatmeal mask (for oily skin)

Mix two tablespoons of unprocessed oats with a medication spoon of salt (baking powder - baking soda), then add a little water to make it more dense. Apply through circle on moisture the skin then rinse with warm water.

lemon mask can be a great choice for its skin healing elements. It is an excellent choice for people who have oily skin or a pimple prone skin. This mask will act as a natural cleansing agent and make you feel refreshed. As the dirt and dusts will be removed from your skin gently, it will make your skin appear brighter. Though lemon mask includes all natural ingredients and does not leave any side-effect on skin, people with dry skin are generally not recommended this, as it can make their skin extremely dry.

Lemon juice mask (for all skin types)

This mask helps reduce the dark marks on the skin. Mix half the lemon water with egg white. Then apply a thin layer on the surface. When dry, it will be a little bit hard, leave it overnight then rinse with warm water in the morning.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Prope diet in Yoga cure.

Diet occupies a dominant place in the yoga system. It is said that "as you eat, so you become". This is because the kind and quality of food affects the physical as well as mental condition of the individual . Thus , the individual who does not take a proper diet and who does not have a proper understanding of the principles of eating gradually begins to harm himself physically and mentally both.

He begins to fell the ill effects of wrong eating habits on his appearance, behavior ,thought and also on action. And the individual whose thought , action and appearance would not be desirable for a particular period of time would naturally show undesirable consequences which would justify the saying that 'as you eat so you become'.

In yoga, all foods have been divided into three categories; Rajasi, Tamasi and Sartvik.

Friday, April 20, 2012


The system of education in ancient India required the students to live in the campus of a forest academy along with the teachers. The teaching imparted was, almost always, in the form of sutras or aphorisms, followed by explanations and discussions. At a time when committing things to memory was considered supremely important, this method suited admirably.

The sutra literature is a class by itself. As per the norms set for a sutra , it should be alpaksara(consisting of minimum number of letters )asandigdha (with out doubt as regards the meaning ) saravat(must contain the essence of the subject) and ye visva-tomukha (reflect all aspects of the same). However in their anxiety to economise the words, the composers of the sutra-works seem to have so overdone it that bhasyas or explanatory commentaries by later writers became necessary.

The srauta, the grhya and the dhrama sutras form the earliest bunch of sutra literature. The darsanas or the philosophical system which are of a later period, followed this sutra model since it served their purpose well.

A brief study of the Brahma Sutras-- Swami Harshananda.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

We need students. For each student you bring us, we give you a 100 euros comission

"Hi David, cordial greetings from Xxxxx. We offer Xxxxxxx courses in Xxxxx and we are interested in working with you. We need students. For each student you bring us, we give you a 100 euros comission. Contact us if you are interested in. Thanks."

What are your thoughts on this?

For me, well...um, no thanks. Not for me (on numerous levels) so I did not reply and I archived the message.

Don't get me wrong, if someone wants to pay me 100 Euros to do some simple work please do not hesitate to contact me and we'll discuss!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Monks & Nuns

This Sunday the Orthodox Church commemorates Saint Gregory Palamas during Great Lent, and it might seem like a difficult example to draw a lesson from. If you are wondering how to make this Sunday relevant, consider teaching about the subject of monasticism since the Saint spent several years living and praying within a small cave outside of Thessaloniki, Greece. It can be a great opportunity to introduce to our youth the actual daily routine of an Orthodox monk or nun. Even the fact that in our tradition, we have monks and nuns!

In Greek "monos" literally means alone. Hence the word "monastic" - one who lives alone

Brief vocab for the lesson with a printable worksheet:

The Talanto - a long narrow piece of wood struck with a pallet by designated monks/nuns in the monastery as a call to prayer for the others to attend Church. This tradition comes from the great Prophet Noah, who hit the ark to call the animals to enter inside.

The Hours - or otherwise known as the daily rule of prayer - praying the hours happens six times a day, at symbolic hours. 7 am (first hour, sunrise), 9 am (third hour, time of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost), 12 noon (sixth hour, our Lord's sacrifice began at Golgotha), 3 pm (ninth hour, our Lord's sacrifice on the Cross ended as He gave up His spirit to the Heavenly Father), 6 pm (Vespers - setting of the sun), 9 pm (Compline - before sleep), 12 midnight ( in the silent darkness the soul rises for prayer)

Komboskini - or prayer rope, in several sizes. The most common is 33 knots for 33 years of Christ's life. It is made by the hands of the monks/nuns who recite the Jesus prayer while making each knot, sealing within it the name of Christ. After it is complete, the prayer ropes are used as tools to continue praying for others and the world, often never leaving the fingers of praying monastics!

Tonsure - this is the rite of initiation into the monastic state or the official blessing and becoming of a monk or nun in the Orthodox Church by a Bishop or Archimandrite. There are three levels: Rassophore, Stavrophore, and the Great Schema. The hair is cut as an offering of the person to God along with their whole life and their self will. Afterward the hair, even a beard, is never cut again. Vows of chastity, obedience and poverty are made with a commitment to strive within the monastery community of fellow brothers and sisters.

Ascetic - one who lives apart from the world to dedicate their life fully to God, sometimes in a cave or the desert. It is a very difficult life, with very little food, maybe dried bread or plants. Usually little clothing, a rock for a pillow and no dvd's, iphones or McDonalds!

Gerontissa, Geronda, Abbess, or Abbot - This is the spiritual mother or father assigned with the task of guiding and confessing the others monks and nuns to their salvation in Christ. Visitors to the monastery often bow and offer a kiss to their hand to take their blessing.

Novice - This is the title used for a beginner or interested person in becoming a monk or nun. Often this candidate will live within the monastery for several years as a trial to be certain before being tonsured.

Trapeza - This is the dining hall where meals are shared all together. Fasting from meat is year round, and often spiritual food is offered simultaneously through reading or a small sermon. Sometimes, water is drunk only second to food when a small bell is rung, reinforcing the discipline of taming self will through obedience and gratefulness to God.

Diakonima – each monk or nun has specific work to complete that is assigned to them. Everyone works for the love of Christ and contributes to the community. Some cook, others garden, while another sews, and chants etc.

A monk or nun leaves the world to prayer for the world!

Explain that there are Orthodox monasteries around the world, and include a short description or slide show of photos from Mount Athos if you would like. Also share the location of an Orthodox Monastery near you. From personal experience, there is no greater impact on our youth than an actual visit to an Orthodox monastery first hand! Please consider arranging for a group trip from your parish, and expose this way of life to our young people.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Get Those Numbers Out of Here or I will Call the Authorities

The other day I spoke to a colleague about the fact that my school has two grading curves depending on the size of the class. I wondered allowed if we could study whether the 2 curves influenced course selection, class rank, and GPA. The response was not argumentative at all but more or less "I'm not that interested in numbers."

That is, in fact, a common theme in legal education and represents how far legal educators are from the applying various principles and measures that would follow from good educational policy.

The example I have given is directly related to the issue of student choices. Do we want students to select courses that will best prepare them for the practice of law (or tending bar as the case increasingly seems to be) or do we want them to be tempted to game the system.

The two curve example reminds me of one of the worse testing strategies around: Please select and answer any 3 of the following 5 questions. Yes, it's a policy that says to pick the test you would like to take. The student who would get an B on three quesitons and a C on the other two gets the same grade as the student who would get a B on all 5. Like the different curves, the testing method itself intrudes on the process in a way that is disconnected from the goal. But there too we get into numbers.

Something that also falls in the area where law professors do not venture is the reliability and validity of exams. Reliability is really a question of consistency. For example, you turn the hot water tap on half way for your bath and the water is always 90 degrees. You can count on it. But, you also say 90 degrees is just right for making your aching muscles feel better. That is a question of validity.

Suppose every time you write and give an exam, there is a nice bell shaped curve. You might say your testing is reliable: every time you give an exam X happens. But, do you know anything about the connection between what you hope to be testing for and the outcome? This question of validity is a different matter. I am far from an expert but, let's say you give machine graded multiple choice exams. How do you know the questions are valid measures of what you want to measure. There could, after all, be 5 reasons to miss a question or get it right and only some are related to what you are testing for. I would guess that any multiple choice question that does not require a student to explain his or her answer would have to undergo testing itself and perhaps trial runs and debriefings of the students so see what they understood the question to be asking and how the different choices could be interpreted.

And then there is the matter of student evaluations. What do they tell us? I'd say they are very reliable and valid indicators of what the students wrote down on their forms. Other than that, I do not know. The problem is that no one else does. Wouldn't it be nice to know what the evaluations mean as far as actual student learning? I've seen studies that indicate no correlation between evaluations and learning and even some that indicate a negative correlation.
But then again, to actually attempt to determine what the numbers mean would mean dealing with numbers.

Finally suppose you offer three or four credit course you would like to teach in 2 days. There are all kinds of studies on the impact of different class lengths on concentration and learning. I wonder if any law professors have looked at these "numbers."

Sometimes it seems clear to me that numbers are discounted principally because they may tell us something we do not want to hear. The main thing we do not want to hear is anything that casts a shadow over whether we should get our way.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The UNESCO Director-General makes the case for UNESCO in the USA

On a visit to the United States, from 13 to 25 March, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova will travel to Washington DC, Philadelphia, Chicago, Miami, San Francisco and Los Angeles where she will participate in events highlighting UNESCO’s role in promoting lasting peace and more inclusive and sustainable development. She will bring a sharp message focusing on women’s and girls’ education and literacy, on UNESCO’s action for freedom of expression across the world, and on the importance of protecting world cultural and natural heritage, especially in this year commemorating the 40th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention.

The Director-General will inaugurate a new UNESCO Chair in Literacy and Learning at the University of Pennsylvania, where she will also sign an internship programme agreement with the University that will enable graduate students to gain experience in UNESCO’s field offices across the world as well as at Headquarters.

During this visit, Irina Bokova will meet Government officials, representatives of US foundations as well as the private sector, along with multiple media outlets.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

International Women's Day Celebrations

Every year on 8 March, UNESCO celebrates International Women's Day by hosting a flagship programme consisting of round-tables, conferences, exhibitions and cultural events that highlight issues relating to the empowerment of women and the promotion of gender equality.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Two New U.S. UNESCO Clubs

Two new clubs have been added to the roster of UNESCO Clubs in the USA.

The first is the Inter-America's UNESCO Club of Houston in Houston, TX. The second is the Racines Heritage Foundation in Kensington, MD. This brings the number of clubs in the USA to seven.

Welcome to the clubs!

The U.S. National Commission for UNESCO welcomes information about clubs, associations, and centers operating in the USA that have an interest in U.S. activities as a Member State of UNESCO or align themselves with UNESCO’s goals.
No, not this kind of club!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Icon Family Tree

We just made our "sample" family icon tree and it was great fun for my 2 year old to help with! First we printed out the tree design and colored it, then we trimmed and added our icons of the Patron Saints for each member of the family. We cut the icons out of old catalogs and calendars we had. An icon of Christ was centered in the trunk of the tree, as we added the words of Christ in Greek - "I am the true vine + Ye are the branches" below. We had a little too much fun with the glue and glitter, then mounted it on construction paper, with two holes and string at the top. It hangs as a sort of a tapestry in our home. If you'd like, you could also write at the top "God bless the _______ Family."
For us, it has been a joy for our children to learn who they are named after. We have the habit of asking our kids, "Who has the name from Agios Vasilios? Who has the name from Panagia? From Saint Helen, and Saint Stefanos"

We hope our tree will continue to grow out and spiritually upward!

O'Connor Again? UF Grovels

Sandra Day O'Connor is, again, visiting the UF. I think she must be on the lecture circuit more than any former member of the Supreme Court. Does she wait by the phone for our call? It's ironic that UF rolls out the red carpet for her. Her shock at the possibility that Gore would win Florida in 2000 election is well documented. Bush v. Gore was easily one of the Modern Court's most unprincipled decision and she telegraphed her vote before she heard the arguments. It was a vote that essentially said we are terrified of knowing how Florida actually voted.
Then we had the the Bush wars, the war on the environment, Supreme Court appointments that turn back the clock, and the economic melt down that seems never to stop. The whole thing illustrates how we grovel around high placed people even when they tell us their ideology trumps our fundamental rights. People always complain that law schools are populated by liberals. They are right but, as the O'Connor visits illustrate, they are elitist liberals without an ounce of conviction.
The 2000 election also makes me think of the Florida Nadar voters whose little snit made it close enough that any of this mattered.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Church Craft with Icons

What to do with icon catalogs and paper icons? Here's a quick craft to decorate with your Orthodox kids and religious education classes while offering a small lesson. Print out the black and white drawing of the iconostasis or icon screen, and glue icons to match your local parish. Look and discuss where special icons are. Help each child to properly place them in order, Christ always being to the right of the royal doors, and the Mother of God with Christ to the left.

Your parish may even have the Annunciation scene depicted on the royal doors, or the Mystical Supper above. St John the Baptist has a fixed position next to Christ. The Patron Saint of the Church is next to the Mother of God.

This can also be an opportunity to discuss how for us Orthodox Christians, the altar is Paradise, the holy of holies, where the greatest miracle on Earth happens - our offering of bread and wine becomes the Holy Body and Blood of Christ our God. It is our tabernacle with manna, our food from heaven, along with the word of God, the Holy Gospel. Archangel Michael stands guard at the left door, as he was positioned after the fall with his sword to protect Paradise - Here, the priest always exits the Altar, making his procession, and at times, entering back into Paradise (the Altar) through the door on the right, which bears the Archangel Gabriel who re-opens Paradise to all repentant believers through the Annunciation.

These are just a few talking points, as you may elaborate and decorate your iconostasis differently according to the age you are working with. Hope this small project inspires you!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Why God Became Man?

“You must understand why it is that the Word of the Father, so great and so high, has been made manifest in bodily form."

“Christ has been manifested in a human body for this reason only, out of the love and goodness of His Father, for the salvation of us men”

“It was our sorry case that caused the Word to come down, our transgression that called out His love for us, so that He made haste to help us and to appear among us.

“…the human race was in process of destruction… what then was God, being Good, to do?”

“It was unthinkable that God, the Father of Truth, should go back upon His word regarding death in order to ensure our continued existence.”

“…corruption could not be got rid of otherwise than through death”

“For by the sacrifice of His own body He did two things: ' He put an end to the law of death which barred our way; and He made a new beginning of life for us, by giving us the hope of resurrection.”

"The word became flesh (that is, man), that the flesh might become God by grace; and He became like us in all things, that we might become like the Word in all of the virtues."

Quoted from 'On the Incarnation' by Saint Athanasios the Great. Read the whole treatise here at this link. The above theology has been adapted for a curriculum located for free at this link.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Law Suits Against Law Schools

I have only skimmed the complaint in the suit against Cooley but I assume the remaining cases must be based on the same theme -- Schools lied, students relied. For many reasons I'd be surprised if a class were certified and, if one is not, many attorneys and plaintiffs will lose interest. Still I applaud the effort and hope what legal education was not willing to clean up somehow becomes cleaner.

The whole matter is an indictment of people in my profession. We have known about this and participated at least by our silence for years. On the other hand, I have yet to hear of a faculty member badgering the dean to hire more of our own grads or admit more transfer students or offer more bar oriented courses. Unless I am missing something, most faculty would like the School to be ranked higher but are not losing sleep about it. After all, a higher ranking does not mean we are doing a better job and a lower one does not mean are students are less prepared.

Yes, most of us have stood by but my impression is that the vocal supporters of doing what ever is necessary are alums. I have heard that at my School, if we drop in the rankings, the alums have fits. I am not sure whether it is because we compete with FSU and they are terrified we could drop behind them in the US News and World Report "rankings" or because they somehow think that the education they had here is of lower quality if we drop. I am also not sure why we don't ignore them. Perhaps because we want their money. On the other hand, if they are serious about action and not whining, they could hire a few more or our graduates at better salaries.

Ultimately, though, when a public school begins hawking its products or programs like pajama jeans (Just saw them in an infomercial last night) an misrepresenting its outcomes, it's not much different than the government paying $16 for a muffin or $200 for a toilet seat. It stinks.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Next Big Law School Scandal

Just a guess but I think it will be externship programs or at least some of them. These programs vary I am sure, but it appears they all have in common the payment to a school by students for credit. That's fine, but when students pay schools it's not clear what they are getting other than credit. Some may have enriching externships that prepare them for the practice of law and some may be fetching coffee. Part of the problem is that the ABA or AALS version of a site visit to check on what is going on seems to be satisfied by having someone (a pal perhaps) at another school check or (am I getting this right?) just calling the site.

On top of that, what are the standards for what the student does? I've seen some that say "meaningful legal experience." That really does not narrow it down much. I got a speeding ticket once and that was a meaningful legal experience. There is precious little meat on the bones of what is actualy required.
There is another factor that maybe bothers only me. The students pay essentially to work for others. This subsidization is not so worrisome when those others are public entities but when they are private, it is free labor for the purpose of generating a profit for others. This all becomes a bit fishy. Shouldn't the students in these cases be paid?
Now toss in the fact that in some places faculty are paid on the basis of how many externships they generate. Sounds like giving the faculty member a finder's fee or a cut of the school's take for selling credit to students.
I am not informed enough about the politics of the relations between the ABA, the AALS and law schools but, from this informed perspective it appears like a huge case of the AALS looking the other way because no one has the courage to really ask "What is going on." Or, perhaps they know exactly what is going on.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Cheaters Without Cameras

The stair machine must be the most boring exercise ever. The TVs installed in them do not help much unless sports is on. Typically I flip through the channels looking for the least inane programming. Today one of those channels that did not exist when I was growing had a show on about how casinos deter and detect cheating among gamblers and casino workers. The security people are up in the ceiling watching monitors. Those security people come and go by separate entrances and do not socialize with the other casino workers. Makes sense. If you do not know the people you are more likely to be objective. Temptation to cut someone some slack when they steal from the casino is greatly reduced. (I must admit the idea of casinos being cheated by others is a little hard to swallow.)

So what about law school cheating. There are many ways it occurs:
1. Favoring or disfavoring students.
2. Not honestly evaluating scholarship for tenure and promotion purposes.
3. Not honestly reviewing the teaching of tenure candidates.
4. Being influenced in hiring because there are friends or spouses involved or the candidates attended a specific set of schools.

My law school has done all that can be done with respect to number 1. Grading is anonymous and professors are not permitted to teach relatives or the equivalent. The last part of this was not always true and for many years the School dealt with the discomfort of parents teaching their children.

My school and I suspect most others have done miserably with respect to cheating in forms 2-4. The problem is that there is no "security staff" that observes without being influenced by personal connections. This is not to say the personality is irrelevant but scholarship, teaching, and hiring should be independent of personal connections. This would be the law school version of the cameras.

Could law schools get a little closer to the ideal. Suppose all articles from a group of schools were submitted to a panel of scholars. Each piece would be anonymous and the evaluators would assess several pieces and each piece would be reviewed by several scholars. A ranking would be provided to the schools involved as well as an absolute score. Teaching is a bit harder partly because the occasional pre-announced class visitation is so full of holes as a valid form of evaluation. It is close to silly because virtually anyone can do a decent job for a few days and faculty visitors would rather do the stair machine than actually put in writing anything that is negative.

One big step in hiring is not to hire into a specific department anyone who is closely related to a current faculty member. That would reduce some of the temptation. When the hiring of the trailing spouse is in a different department, it should occur only after an national search and an audit of the search procedure.

Law schools are not casinos but are affected by cheaters. They are way behind casinos in efforts to curb cheating. Maybe they just do not want to.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Rot and Enronification of Universities: Part 5: Self Dealing

Self dealing is the last of the characteristics associated with the Eronification of Universities. One has to be careful in using this term. I do not know of any University administrators who have actually fattened up their own bank accounts by stealing directly from their institution. And, I have to be extra careful because many readers assume my complaints are always about Florida, more specifically the Law School. That would be wrong. Sometimes I do not care for my Dean's decisions and decision making approach but he is as hardworking as anyone I have known the the idea of self-dealing just does not fit. What I mean by self-dealing is spending the institution's funds on yourself in the sense of making your life more comfortable regardless of the benefits to stakeholders.

Here is an example of what mean. John Lombardi, the topic of the article, is now President of Louisiana or something like that. His activity at Uf sounds like making people comfortable who made him comfortable. I believe at the time he was in the process of being tossed out, I read that he was making sure the University department to which he was headed was especially well-funded. Ironically, one of last significant acts was to appoint an acting dean at UF Law who, again this is hearsay, while in that post, transferred funding from faculty slots to the unit to which he would return. If true, this is the administrative version of apples not falling far from the tree. The interesting thing to me is that this is all evidently viewed as part of the business. Lombardi, as I noted, ended up being sought after for other administrative posts and his acting Dean pal is revered in some circles.

So the self dealing stops short of writing yourself a check. On the other hand, it is putting your comfort and the security of your post ahead of the overall interests of the institution. Or it might mean, as I think it does a UF, supporting a program in which one has a deep personal interest. It is a form or shirking. That is, unless there is a consistent coincidence that what is good for administrators is good for the institution.

Is it unfair to compare this characteristic of Universities to Enron? Of course it is -- to Enron that is. At least in the case of Enron, there is some chance of discovery, auditing and shareholder action. In a public university these activities, with the help of University counsel, the "not technically a lie" culture, an aversion to transparency and rules that are created on the spot can persist indefinitely.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Unpacking Votes

One theme in this blog is that for people of privileged everything is a means to an end that the end is whatever they want. One of the strategies is to unpack votes. Here is what I mean:

Suppose there are 2 candidates up for a position. The faculty votes and they each get a positive but borderline vote of 30-18. Most deans would not know what to do. Don't misunderstand, it's not about the candidate but an assessment of which group is safest to piss off. Now you may be thinking. "But it's 30-18, Isn't it easy." Wrong because in that 18 maybe the pals of the dean or at least those likely to make him or her most miserable if an offer is made.
So, unpacking starts. If you are in the 30 and are worried about an offer not being made, the argument is to identify the likely no votes and say why they voted no. For example, there were 18 no votes but some of those were based on racism or homophobia or disagreement about the 1st amendment. All of this may be true; then again it may not be. Deans in particular unpack votes to get the outcome to please those most likely to be troublesome if they are not unpacked. They do not unpack them, even of the numbers are the same, unless pushed.
There is another form of unpacking that is post vote knit-picking. For example, a candidate comes in and gets a decent positive vote that ordinarily would lead to an offer. The problem is that those in the minority do not want this candidate. So, the picking begins. Remember this is after the vote and the arguments are made to the dean. "I looked at Mark's footnotes and I can't believe he did not cite Jack Bauer." Deans do not go to the 35 who voted yes and ask if they were concerned about leaving out Bauer. To those 35, after all, the game is over. So the 18 or 10 no votes become heavily weighted because they begin unpack their own votes to suggest they are better informed than the others.
I've seen some unpacking lately and I am not sure what actually should happen. Some people do vote one way or another for irrelevant or even wrong reasons. The problem is that all the votes are tossed out when the unpacking begins, even those of people who had the right reasons.
One solution is for each person to state his or her vote and why. If you think law professors would ever do something so transparent, I've got some Florida swamp land we need to discuss.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Is Diversity Dead?

Maybe the better title to this should be "Was Diversity Ever Alive." When people think about diversity it is usually racial. To me, that "effort" at diversity was always a curious one. Most faculty I have been around really wanted the least diverse diversity candidates possible. By that I mean African American who went to fancy law schools, had middle class or professional parents. etc. But, I've covered this before and to the extent racial diversity is a goal, I see no changes.

Now, though, I realize I have misusing the term "intellectual diversity." In the past I and others have used the term to mean ideological diversity. It is obvious to most that most law schools are not ideologically diverse. There are few conservatives, perhaps fewer libertarians, and almost no leftists. Instead we have the (not) liberals. Most have an agenda (like I do) that is self-referential. I think of them a psycho-capitalists. Not psycho as in crazy but people who are rational maximizers of whatever makes them feel good. And, what makes them feel good is to be around people like themselves. Call it narcsi-pyscho-captalitism.

There is little hope for ideological diversity.

Intellectual diversity is something different. I could mean different levels of intellectualism -- different levels of pure curiosity and a willingness to go with ideas where ever they may lead -- law schools are not diverse (and not not diverse at a high level)

On the other hand, if intellectual diversity means different interests, it is true that some people really get into antitrust and some love teaching contracts with all of its history and puzzles. The problem is that for most law professors, the breadth of intellectual diversity seems to extend to different facets of law. To put it a bit too bluntly, except for knowing about non law things at a Jeopardy level, they don't seem to know much. Ever heard the subjects of conversation at a law faculty party? I can assure you the range is teensy. Just ask the non lawyer spouses who refuse to go.

I'd add one more element to this. This lack of this version of intellectual diversity seems most evident among younger faculty. It's a given that that vast majority of law professors are graduates of a handful of schools. Yet somewhere along the line it seems like those schools stopped teaching or stopped recruiting people a broad range of interests.

In the olden days of law teaching ,when I began, there were characters and eccentrics and people from fancy schools who could talk knowledgably about all kinds of topics. Now those fancy schools seem to select their students from a very narrow range of intellectual potential and then suck whatever potential might have been there right out of them. Some, thankfully, survive going to those schools but many do not.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

So You Wanna Be a Law Prof But Not Really?

All you really knew is that you did not want to be a lawyer. So you got into teaching and what did you find out? Law teaching meant teaching law or at least how to be a lawyer. That is not so hot either because actually law is not interesting to you. Do not fear, a whole generation of new courses for the law teacher who wants no part of law has evolved. Here is a recent proposal just received:

Dear Curriculum Committee:
I would like to propose a new course, Law and Life, to be taught by me. I have attached the proposed syllabus. The course will work best if capped at zero students. Because I feel it is important enough to make it available to others, I have decided to cap it at six.
Thank you Tristan
SyllabusLaw and LifeProfessor Tristan & Professor Gold (Music Therapy Department)
Materials needed: 1)A Prune2) My law review article in any of the seven forms I have published the same article.3) Dancing slippers4) A gender-neutral Teddy Bear5) (Optional) Pancake syrup.
We meet every Tuesday evening from 6-8 unless there is a full moon.
Your grade will be based on the weekly assignments as described and a machine graded, multiple choice, take home, open book (if there were one) exam.
Week One: Birth
Prepare for presentation to the class a limerick that describes how you felt while being born. How is this like a new law? Or is it? Dr. Madelain. a recent graduate of our law school who also once read a book about birth will first present a lecture on "What it feels like to be Born and the Law." This class will not be graded. Instead, each student will be given a laminated photocopy of my Harvard degree. I have thousands so do not worry. This means if I forget to mention where I went to school (and I rarely do) you can refer to the card. It is wallet sized.

Week Two: Telling is Feeling and Client Confidentiality
In this class you must tell the rest of the students the one thing you would least like them to know about yourself. You also must tell something about your best friend that you believe would make your best friend mortified. The goal of this exercise is to allow you to experience how a client would feel if you violated his or her confidence. Students telling the most embarrassing things about themselves will receive an A. All others will receive another laminated copy of my diploma.
Week Three: You and the Prune
Please visit the restroom before class. In this class you will sit quietly and observe a prune for sixty minutes. The music in the background will be John Cages 4 minutes 33 seconds. While observing the prune you are required to adopt the perspective of a cat. What do you feel? Please purr if you are so inclined.
In the last hour of the class, you will share the feelings you experienced. This must be whispered. The lights will be dimmed to enhance the darkness. The best presenters will receive and A as well others in the class.
Week Four: Sex and Negotiation: First Experiences
Prepare a 30 minute detailed description of your first sexual encounter. You may use power point. Your first sexual experience, whether you realize it or not, was a negotiation. Think of the steps of that negotiation. Since there are six of you and only 120 minutes, two students will be picked at random not to participate. They will receive a grade of A. This class will be videotaped by a very small person.
Week Five: Self Defense and the Law
Steven Thog, a guy a met while walking my collie, Jung, around the park will present some really good moves to use on unruly clients. There will be role-playing with each of you taking the role of an abusive client and Steven will play the role of you or what you would be like if you were Steven. All students who do not tell the dean about this class will receive an A.
Week Six: Client Movement
You are required to wear dancing slippers. Each of you will have 10 minutes to display the feelings of a client through movement. You may not speak. Is she happy or sad, tall or short, skinny or large?
The second hour of class you must critique the interpretations of your classmates also through movement only. Important: no levitation is permitted during this class. Students who are more expressive or wear the most colorful costumes will receive an A. Students who would have their feelings hurt if given less than a A will also receive an A.
Week Seven: Attorney Movement
You are required to wear dancing slippers. Each of you will have 10 minutes to display the feelings of a attorney in a case involving a legal name change. You may not speak. Through movement you must exhibit your feelings about the client's new name without revealing those feelings to the client.
The second hour of class you must critique the interpretations of your classmates also through movement only. Important: no levitation is permitted during this class. Students who are the quietest dancers will receive an A. Students who would have their feelings hurt if given less than a A will also receive an A.
Week Eight: Review
This week will be devoted to a discussion of which of the prior classes you liked best. How did it make you feel.?How do you think I will feel if you did not love them all? Special guest lecturer is Bubba Henson author of the brilliant article, "Law: So What?" an unpublishable manuscript now in his file cabinet.
Week Nine: Waffles
Thema Henson, Bubba's mother and waitress at the 3rd street Waffle House will be our special guest lecturer. Special treat: She will bring strawberry waffles for all. Her lecture will cover the perils of late night attorney-client relationships. She is not a actual attorney but once waited on a table of 4. Two had BLTs and two had grilled cheese with onions. After the lecture we will think really really hard. The hardest thinkers will receive grades of A. Each of them may keep the A or give it to someone else in the class.

Week Ten: Princeton and Dreams
There will be no class this night. I will be attending the Princeton reunion. The class will be made up between 2 and 4 AM when you are required to dream a dream of your law professors dancing. A's will be awarded to all those reporting they had the required dream. A's are also available if you promise not to tell the dean we cancelled class and did not make it up.
Week Eleven: Multiple Choice Exams
I will mime a 30 minute lecture on why I use multiple choice machine graded exams. Over the next 90 minutes you will each write an essay on "Why Machine Graded Multiple Choice Exams are the Best Way to Evaluate Student Performance." You will mail your essays to the dean.
Weeks Twelve -Thirteen: Guest Lecturers
Yes, I am pretty much out of ideas and don't really like preparing for class so I am going to figure out who I can get to come and talk to you about whatever. It'll be great. Really! These classes are optional plus I will not be in attendance.
Week Fourteen: Aren't We Feeling Better
Tonight the entire two hours will be devoted to a class evaluation in which you will describe how you benefited from the class. Please emphasize how the class changed you for the better. Oh, not that it is relevant, but I have decided to give you all As and there is a plate of cookies at the front of class.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Kings and Queens of Transaction Costs

[Sorry about the photo but when I Googled "smarmy" this was what a got as an image.]

Granted, I have not had very many jobs but it is hard to believe that individuals in other jobs rely on transaction costs to promote their ends as much many law professors. It may be a minority of law professors but that is all it takes.

Transaction costs typically refers to the costs of, well, transactions, and law professors are rarely contracting with each other. It is probably more accurate to say law professors rely on raising information costs as a means of achieving their own ends. In any case, let's stick to transaction costs because so many people in the business regard life as one big zero sum negotiation . The cost raising is in the form or misrepresentations, half truths, withheld information or engaging in the "not technically a lie" process which, I now understand, is a way of achieveing "plausible deniability." In every exchange, when one person is not on the level it means raising the cost of others to discover the truth or take on the risk of making the wrong decision because of imperfect information. This list is hardly exhaustive. Indeed most self-promotion is overstatement meaning that to know the truth you have to incur costs yourself. Thing of law review submission cover letters, letter or recommendation, and so on.

So here is a small example. The issue was whether to give 9 hours credit toward an LLM to students who completed a night program we voluntarily teach elsewhere. The supporter of granting credit provides accurate information about the off site program that is designed to make granting transfer credit reasonable. The evidence is that there are standards for grading since there is no curve and the grades can be lower than the ones we give our students. What is not said is that there are language problems and we give very easy tests and are careful to pass almost everyone because if they learn anything it is better than nothing. The fact that the curve could be lower is irrelevant with respect to what actually happens. But to know that, you have to incur some costs. In fact, this a a good one in that the person in the best position cost-wise to describe the reality passes that responsibility to those for whom the cost will be higher.

How about one that affects the lives of people who have no idea what has happened to them. A school conducts a national search to fill three positions all currently held on a visiting basis by three people in the neighborhood. The search yields 80 applicants but guess who, out those 80, are deemed to be the best? Need I tell you? Yes, the three locals who are already friends are better than any of the other 80. Is that really possible? I'd say, it's very unlikely. Anyone who wants to challenge this obviously shaky outcome would have to absorb enormous transaction costs.

These are small things. Want to see bigger ones? Take a look at Texas and their "loan" issues. Do you think the availability of those loans was widely understood or did the professors who eventually exposed the scheme have to incur costs to do so? Do you think the recipients talked openly about the "loans" or kinda maybe did not really mention them? It looks like the system persisted because it was not widely know and it would have required some investment by someone to discover it. The Texas example is also good to illustrate why I am betting all the hoopla will not result in any reforms at all. Too many law professors are invested in playing the system and playing means keeping transactions costs high. They seem to believe they are better cost raisers than others.

Indeed, much of legal practice and our system of advocacy are based on raising transaction costs of opponents. If there is anything we know about law professors it is that their most important clients are themselves and they take that responsibility very seriously.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Educational Profile of Ministers in Georgia & Armenia

An interesting article by Kate Chkhikvadze in the Financial, a Georgian online magazine, discusses the educational background of Georgian ministers. This inspired me to do a similar study of the Armenian cabinet of ministers.
According to the Financial article, Tbilisi State University (TSU) seems to be the institution where most Georgian cabinet members completed their first degree: Out of the 19 ministers, including the PM, 10 have graduated from TSU, 5 from the Georgian Technical University, 2 from foreign universities, 1 from Rustaveli State Cinema and Theatre University, and 1 from the Holy Seminary of Tbilisi.

A Master’s Degree is possessed by 13 ministers but in contrast with the case with the first degree, the majority holds a Master’s Degree from foreign HEIs in the USA, followed by Germany, the Netherlands and Russia.

Western Touch

As mentioned, the Georgian cabinet includes a significant number of western educated ministers.

Nikoloz Gilauri, the Prime Minister, graduated from TSU, obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in International Economics. He pursued his education at the University of Limerick, Ireland, where he studied Economics and Finances and gained a Master’s Degree in International Business Management from Temple University, USA.

Nikoloz Rurua, Minister of Culture, Monuments Protection and Sports, graduated from Rustaveli State Cinema and Theatre University and continued his studies in the USA. He graduated from the State University of Georgia, USA, with a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree.

The only female minister, Khatuna Kalmakhelidze, Minister of Corrections and Legal Assistance, is one of the two cabinet members who have done both their Bachelor’s and Master’s studies abroad. She graduated from Hunter College with a Bachelor Degree in Political Science. Then she was enrolled in Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University, USA.

Kakha Baindurashvili, Minister of Finance, is one of the other western educated ministers. He received a Master’s of Arts degree in Economics from TSU and Master’s Degree in Economic Development from Williams College, USA.

Zurab Pololikashvili, Ministry of Economic Development, received a Bachelor’s degree from Georgian Technical University with specialization in International Banking and later studied at the Instituto de Empresa, Spain (degree unkown).

Aleksandre Kvitashvili, Minister of Labor, Health and Social Affairs, has a degree of Master of Public Studies from the the New-York University.

Davit Tkeshelashvili who is Minister for Infrastructural and Regional Development graduated from Emory University, USA, with a degree of Master of Law (LLM).

In Love with Law
According to the Financial, the majority of ‘the influential ministers’ has done their Master’s studies in Law.

In addition to Davit Tkeshelashvili and Nikoloz Rurua, and, obviously, the Minister of Justice, Zurab Adeishvili, who graduated from the Royal University of Groningen, the Netherlands, this is the case with the ministers of Defense, Education and Foreign Affairs:

Bachana Akhalaia, Minister of Defense, holds a Master’s Degree in Law from TSU. Dimitri Shashkin, Minister of Education and Science, has a Master’s Degree in Government, Tax and Criminal Law, again from TSU, and Grigol Vashadze, Minister of Foreign Affairs, received his Master’s degree in International Law from Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

Armenian Contrasts

The Armenian ministers have a very different educational profile. All except 3 have completed their higher education in the late Soviet period and half of them have studied in Russia. Unlike in Georgia, no discipline seems to be favored in Armenia.

Based on the information available on the official website of the Armenian government, I examined 18 out of 19 members of the cabinet as the profile of the newly appointed Minister of Labor, Arthur Grigorian, is not available at this time.

It is important to note that most educational backgrounds of the ministers are poorly written and therefore this review may be inaccurate. For instance, for the Minister of Economy it is written: “1993-1995, Yerevan State Institute of National Economy, post-graduate student at the Macroeconomics Department.” Being a student doesn’t necessarily mean that the person completed the program. The official website of the Ministry of Economy does not offer further clarifications.

Or, for the Minister of Justice it is indicated “1975-1983, Yerevan State University, Law Department.” It is unclear what degree the person earned at the end of 8 years of study, if he studied full-time and without interruption.

Out of the 18 members, including the PM, 4 have completed their first degree (5-year specialized degree program that was the norm before the adoption of the Bologna structure) at State Engineering University of Armenia (SEUA-Polytechnic), 3 have graduated from Yerevan State University (YSU), 2 from Yerevan State Medical University (YSMU), 2 from Institute of National Economy, and the rest at various HEIs.

It is interesting to note that 6 ministers have conducted their higher education entirely or mainly (except the first 1-2 years) in Russia. These are: Tigran Sargsyan, Prime Minister; Armen Gevorgyan, Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Territorial Administration; Armen Yeritzian, Minister of Emergency Situations; Tigran Davtian, Minister of Finance; Edward Nalbandian, Minister of Foreign Affairs; and Manuk Vardanian, Minister of Transport and Communication.

Those who have completed their 5-year degree program in Armenia and then have studied for a post-graduate degree outside Armenia (cannot say abroad as at the time Armenia and Russia were parts of the USSR) number 3. All these ministers have studied in Russia. They are:

Armen Ashotian, Minister of Education and Science, who after completing his studies in Medicine continued at the Moscow School of Political Sciences.

Armen Movsissian, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources. After graduating from SEUA, he completed his postgraduate degree at the USSR Institute of Light Industry.

Gevorg Danielian, Minister of Justice, who earned his first degree in Law at YSU and then a Master’s degree from Institute of State and Law in Moscow, affiliated to the USSR Academy of Sciences.

One minister has studied in Azerbaijan: A native of Karabakh, Seyran Ohanian, Minister of Defense, studied at Baku Military Academy.

Interestingly, 8 ministers have done their entire higher education in Armenia. The most prominent among this group are: Nerses Yeritsian, Minister of Economy; and Haroutioun Koushkian, Minister of Healthcare.

Only one minister has had some western experience. This is, of course, if we ignore that Gevorg Danielian, Minister of Justice, has served in the Soviet Army stationed in the former German Democratic Republic for 2 years and has strangely included this in his educational profile.

So the only exception to the rule is Armen Gevorgian, Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Territorial Administration, who simultaneous to his post-graduate studies at St Petersburg's Gertzen All-Russian Teacher Training University, completed a Master's degree in Programming of Educational and Training Systems at Twente University, the Netherlands.

Relevant Education

Most Armenian ministers seem to be involved in a field that is relevant to their educational background. There are, however, some interesting exceptions.

Hasmik Poghosian, Minister of Culture, for instance, has no academic background in arts and culture; she has studied Biology at YSU. The official website of the Ministry of Culture adds that she took piano lessons at school.

Hranoush Hakobian, Minister of Diaspora and the only other female minister, has studied Mathematics.

And more: Gerasim Alaverdian, Minister of Agriculture, has graduated from SEUA-Polytechnic whereas Vardan Vardanian, Minister of Urban Development, has studied at the Armenian State University of Agriculture.