Affirmative Action hurts Black Students? Richard Sander, a professor of law at UCLA, examined empirical data on black law students' graduation rates and BAR results, and found that affirmative action reduces the number of total black lawyers. He claims that there is a mismatch-effect between the school a student matriculates in and one that he is qualified to attend. Dissenting opinion. Sander's remarks at Volokh. Hat Tip: Kevin Drum.
Why Stock Markets Crash : Critical Events in Complex Financial Systems. Professor Didier Sornette of UCLA has some very interesting things to say about stock markets. In his book, he explains how his "theory of cooperative herding and imitation [...] has detected the existence of a clear signature of herding in the decay of the US S&P500 index since August 2000 with high statistical significance, in the form of strong log-periodic components." Although his timing has been just a bit early, the theory, the predictions to date and the pictures are all pretty uncanny. This is easily the most interesting book on the stock market I have ever read and provides interesting and believable hypotheses about things I never imagined could have rigorous explanations. For an overview, here is an interview with the author.
Today, I wandered down the center of campus and noticed there was a big clothing sale. My favorite find? My new Mars Polar Lander commemorative t-shirt. There's a voice in the back of my head telling me to buy 50 of them to auction off on eBay. Who wouldn't want a souvenir like that? I know it's kind of morbid to laugh at the $165 million loss, but I bet others would want one.
There have been minor scuffles over the past year at UCLA that balloon into 'riots,' which then get covered in the local news. I work at UCLA and I can tell you that the local/UC police have overreacted before. This past June, students got together to drink champagne by one of the big fountains. It's an tradition going back at least 15 years, but for some reason last year, there were about 20 police in riot gear standing near the fountain at night, and at least one officer stationed there 24hrs. a day for the entire finals week. A couple students were arrested for protesting the police presence, but everyone else there was just plain perplexed as to why they showed up in the first place. Yesterday's event at UCLA looks to be the same thing again. Local residents complaining about an old tradition, in which the police overreact. The sad thing is this is happening everywhere.