The View from Pittsburgh

My hometown of Pittsburgh is a very unique city, because of its industrial roots. Previously, those who lived in Pittsburgh worked in coal mines and factories for at least 16 hours a day, meaning that there would be long stretches where these employees never saw the sun. Sadly, because of the smoke and dust from these industries, there was a semi-permanent cloud over all of the city, which made the entire area dark even for those who could be outside in the middle of the day. Although today Pittsburgh’s skies are free from the industrial haze, the climate of the town results in a city that experiences, on average, only about 120 sunny days a year. All of this rain physically prevents people from leaving their houses and enjoying the outdoors, because the weather leaves much to be desired. When the weather is bad, American citizens all across the country look at this development as an impediment instead of an opportunity. We try to create some sort of stability between the winter and summer months and rainy and sunny days instead of simply embracing the extremes.

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Finally looking at paintings!

Because this blog isn’t very image-friendly, and I expect to analyze around 50 images, I decided to keep all of my info into a soon-to-be gigantic Google Slides file.

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Abstract: the influence of clerks on opinions

I  will be studying the amount of influence Supreme Court clerks have on the opinions of the justices they serve under. I hope to determine how much of an opinion is written by the justice and how much of it is the clerk’s own writing. Clerks are a significant part of the judicial system. They are found at nearly every level, serving under judges in order to give them more time to hear cases, rather than writing and filing smaller items 0f paperwork. However, even this smaller work can be legally complicated, such as drafting opinions that the court will issue or successfully comprehending a legal document being dictated by a judge, so many clerks, especially in higher courts, are either completing or have completed law school. As a result, they have their own thoughts on how rulings might be made. I mentioned earlier that they might be called upon to draft opinions. In the Supreme Court, many justices are old enough or frustrated enough that there are rumors that their clerks may not only draft their opinions, they may entirely write them. The possibility of shadow justices serving without consent of the Senate and without appointment by the president under aging, inexperienced, or disinterested justices is very interesting to me. There is a great deal of controversy surrounding bureaucratic discretion in the executive branch when it comes to enforcement of federal laws, but it is often taken for granted the judicial branch is run entirely by trusted and validated judges. If I can find a connection between opinions supposedly written by the most intellectual judges in the country and works written by their clerks, I could then conclude that the justice department too had its fair share of bureaucratic decision makers. The research I am proposing will, for reasons of time, only cover one or two clerks under an especially disengaged justice, such as Justice Thurgood Marshall during his later years of disinterest in the Court, or Justice Powell in 1971 during the period when he was too new to the bench to feel comfortable writing his own opinions in full.

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Abstract – Portraiture

Portraiture – the art of creating portraits – has developed into a wide array of subjects, mediums, and styles since its initial purpose of depicting royalty. However, the portraits that intrigue me the most employ inventive composition, color, and abstraction. I will record my observations, opinions, and analyses on the use of these three aspects from portraits and self-portraits from ancient to the present-day artists. Using the information from this initial survey of portraiture, I will create several portraits of my own using oil paint on canvas. During this process, I will continue to learn how to achieve the most effective composition, color, and abstraction as possible. The end goal through the research of others’ works and the creation of my own is an improved understanding of how to depict the human form in an engaging, creative, convincing, and observant way.