Pardon the Interruption

Sometimes I think that the solution to the unemployment problem once machines are doing everything is to put everyone to work studying each other. In minute detail. It certainly seems we’re headed in that direction.

Case in point: a 77-page study by a Northwestern University law professor and a Northwestern J.D. candidate of how often U.S. Supreme Court justices get interrupted.

No, I haven’t read the 77 pages – I’m not that insane – but I’m assuming they didn’t count interruptions at lunch or at parties. Someone – I’m guessing the student – had to pore over years of transcripts to count the times a justice or a lawyer cut off a speaking justice.

The conclusion is pretty obvious here: There isn’t enough to do in law school and students need to have something to keep their minds off the prospect of finding work and paying off loans.

The study’s conclusions, by the way, were a tad less interesting. It seems that women get interrupted a lot more than men and conservatives interrupt liberals more than vice-versa.

The more women got appointed the court, the higher the percentage of interruptions were directed at women. I’m guessing this is because there were more women to interrupt, but you can do your own analysis.

And if you’re a woman and Hispanic, you get interrupted most of all.

Now who says the Supreme Court doesn’t reflect society?

In case you’re wondering, I know this without reading the study because the authors summarized their findings, complete with charts and graphs, for the Supreme Court of the United States blog.

The authors claim this stuff is important to know because interruptions affect the degree of influence women justices have on the court. “When a justice is interrupted, her point is left unaddressed, and her ability to influence the outcome of a case or the framing of another justice’s reasoning is undermined.”

So a liberal is going to turn conservative if he/she gets interrupted? Do interrupters win arguments?

I don’t know about you, but if I’m getting interrupted, I’m not changing my mind.

And I know from empirical study that I’m not winning any arguments with my wife if I interrupt her. In fact, interruptions are counterproductive, if not dangerous to my health.

There are some other factors that I have some trouble with. For example, how do you account for Clarence Thomas?

There’s no mention of Justice Thomas interrupting anyone. Does that mean he’s the Supreme Court justice most respectful of women?

Who would have guessed?

I haven’t seen the numbers, but I’m pretty sure Thomas is also the least interrupted justice. Does that mean he’s the most respected justice?

Who would have guessed?

Then there’s the concluding sentence of the study summary: “Research like ours has the potential to open the eyes of the justices to what are probably subconscious biases.”

I think that means women justices now will know they need to do a lot more interrupting to maintain equality.

Oral arguments could be a lot more fun.


Data protection. I had an Emily Litella moment last week while in my car and sort of half-listening to the radio. I thought I heard someone commenting on the need to protect data with the clown.

Imagine the scenarios immediately parading through my mind.

I pretty quickly realized the guy was talking about the cloud, but consider the advantages of using a clown instead of a cloud.

You can hack a cloud but not a clown.

If there’s a power outage, you don’t lose your data if it’s in a clown’s pocket or oversized shoe.

If you show up at a deposition with a clown instead of a laptop, you’ve got to have a psychological advantage.

Great ideas come from not listening carefully.

%d bloggers like this: