Why I Love Massachusetts

Massachusetts issues a certificate to attorneys when they are admitted to the Massachusetts bar. It’s something like a diploma, and thus contains antiquated language. My college diploma (from California) has some old language such as, “rights thereto pertaining,” but that’s nothing compared to my law school diploma which is entirely in Latin. The translation is ridiculously over the top. They retro-translated modern words (“Boston” becomes “Bostoniensis”) the way a high school Spanish tries to change one’s name to its Spanish equivalent. (I went to Spain, and my name didn’t miraculously change to “Andres”.)
I haven�t yet seen the Massachusetts bar certificate, but I do know from the bar letter that Massachusetts attorneys have a choice as to whether they want the phrase �in the year of our Lord� to appear on the certificate. I think it�s great that people have this choice here, and I wonder whether a red state like Texas offers this option.

I Passed the bar Exam

I found out today that I passed the Massachusetts bar exam. You don’t have to be a lawyer to know that the bar exam is a big deal. In Massachusetts, most first-time takers pass the exam. I can’t seem to find any actual statistics at the moment, but I think it’s around 80%. Those are very good odds, but after an entire summer of grueling study (okay – and videogames) and two full days of intense testing in uncomfortable chairs, it would be devastating not to pass.
I’m breathing a huge sigh of relief tonight in light of the news, and getting ready to return my prep books as soon as I hear from New York, the other bar I took. Next month I’ll be sworn in at Faneuil Hall, on the stage where John Kerry gave his concession speech yesterday.

Election Maps Should be the Shape of Ohio and Florida

Earlier today I wrote that the people who chose not to vote this year could easily have swayed the election (as is always the case). I used popular vote numbers because they’re easier to find, and I think the point could still be made by looking at them even though we all know that the election was really decided by a couple states: Florida and Ohio.
I watched the television election coverage for hours on Tuesday night, flipping between the major networks while trying to avoid commercials and pointless banter about states that were clearly pre-decided. In general, I was disappointed with the coverage. The reporters were all informed enough to know that the election would be decided by the swing states, yet they focused on total electoral votes as they came in.
An election is not a sporting event. Dan Rather was talking about Bush’s momentum and how it would be hard for Kerry to catch up – but at that point the only swing state to report was Pennsylvania – and Penn went to Kerry. There’s no such thing as momentum if you’re just counting votes.
The close states are necessarily the last to be called, and I think the news networks did a bad job by focusing on the obvious rather than the decisive. A map of the precincts of Ohio and Florida would have showed the viewers the much more about the state of the race than a map of the whole country and a giant bar graph of electoral-votes-so-far.

Non-Voters Could Have Decided All

George W. Bush will be the president for another four years. I’m disappointed by this, but I’m not going to be making any arguments here on the subject. It’s not worth the time. The voters have spoken.
The people of the United States have not spoken, but it’s too late. I’m amazed at the level of apathy in this country. I know that it’s unrealistic to expect everyone to vote, but I’m surprised that the media focuses their turnout analysis on the turnout relative to other elections rather than the turnout relative to the set possible maximums (0% to 100% of those eligible to vote). Most of the news networks will show you a pie chart like this:
Election 2004 Voter Graph
I think a complete pie would include all eligible voters:
Election 2004 Eligible Voter Graph
Viewed this way, it’s easy to see that the people have not, in fact, spoken. The non-voters could have changed all the results.
Sources: I got the voter numbers from CNN, which are not yet complete but close enough to make my point. I got the eligible voter figure (186 Million) from this 2003 article on FindLaw. I had a hard time finding that number included in any election coverage.

When Local is National

John Kerry voted this morning at the State House on Beacon Hill. I didn’t have such luxurious voting accommodations this morning at the LBJ apartment complex in Cambridge, but it was adequate. I love the local aspect of all of this – the fact that history can be changed by a residential apartment complex. I wanted to post a picture of the line but I accidentally deleted it.