Friday, September 30, 2005

Friday Cat Blog

For the meantime, Snape can fit under the bedroom furniture. This gives him unique ambush opportunities.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

On Beauty

In the course of reading Elaine Scarry's On Beauty and Being Just, I came across a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem I'd never seen before. His more popular poems always left me cold, but this one is both arrestingly beautiful and speaks truth on the subject of beauty, so I'll share it with you:

The Beginning of the End

My love is lessened and must soon be past.
I never promised such persistency
In its condition. No, the tropic tree
Has not a charter that its sap shall last

Into all seasons, though no Winter cast
The happy leafing. It is so with me:
My love is less, my love is less for thee.
I cease the mourning and the abject fast,

And rise and go about my works again
And, save by darting accidents, forget.
But ah! if you could understand how then

That less is heavens higher even yet
Than treble-fervent more of other men,
Even your unpassion'd eyelids might be wet.


I must feed Fancy. Show me any one
That reads or holds the astrologic lore,
And I'll pretend the credit given of yore;
And let him prove my passion was begun

In the worst hour that's measured by the sun,
With such malign conjunctions as before
No influential heaven ever wore;
That no recorded devilish thing was done

With such a seconding, nor Saturn took
Such opposition to the Lady-star
In the most murderous passage of his book;

And I'll love my distinction: Near or far
He says his science helps him not to look
At hopes so evil-heaven'd as mine are.


You see that I have come to passion's end;
This means you need not fear the storms, the cries,
That gave you vantage when you would despise:
My bankrupt heart has no more tears to spend.

Else I am well assured I would offend
With fiercer weepings of these desperate eyes
For poor love's failure than his hopeless rise.
But now I am so tired I soon shall send

Barely a sigh to thought of hopes forgone.
Is this made plain? What have I come across
That here will serve me for comparison?

The sceptic disappointment and the loss
A boy feels when the poet he pores upon
Grows less and less sweet to him, and knows no cause.

In a world . . .

I used to love movie trailers. Nowadays they give the entire plot away, show all the good parts (or worse, show good parts which are not actually in the movie), and are preceded by over-long and pretentious American Express commercials that I would pay money to avoid. The voiceovers also all seem to be by the same two men, Cheery Optimist Guy and Dramatic Bass Voice Guy.

With that said, without the suffering and pain administered by those bad trailers this send-up would not be as funny. (Origin of the video explained here.) For comparison, the original movie trailer is here.

My Congressman is in trouble.

Tom DeLay attacked by steel-tentacled aliens!

And, er, indicted. Crime and Federalism thinks he will plead guilty. I was excited when I heard that David Dreier might be stepping into his shoes (he's a CMCer), but they chose the Majority Whip instead.

I'm not sure if DeLay is technically my Congressman. By the standards we learned in Civil Procedure, Richmond, Texas is still my legal domicile, but I haven't lived there in seven years.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

No Nulliparous Women Allowed

If I still lived in New York, I'd be sorely tempted to chain myself to this bench. It doesn't seem like excluding some people from city property solely on the basis of their lack of children should even be legal.

UPDATE: To clarify: I am aware that the ban in question does not violate the federal constitution. That is why I said the policy in question should not be legal. I believe the city should be bound to open its parks to all unless there is some individualized reason why someone should not be granted entry, even if one can invent some circumstances in which it would be rational to ban childless persons. It is one thing to, say, affirmatively impose as a condition of parole restrictions on access to areas where children may gather, but something else entirely to impose a broad restriction on a class of people that is both over- and underinclusive and to deprive them of the equal enjoyment of public lands. (Besides, if you are concerned about pedophiles, shouldn't the more pressing issue be unaccompanied children? I'd venture to say that any given child in a park alone is more at risk than any given lone adult is a risk.)

Good Day on the High Sea

Scientists have finally photographed a live giant squid. I eagerly await the Jurassic Park-style resurrection of T. Rex so we can finally settle the question of who wins this fight.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


For the last two weeks, I have had "Shoulda Been a Cowboy" stuck in my head. CM should let me know if the trepanning thing works so I can try it.

Six Sevens

A blog meme, via Hugo Schwyzer.

Seven Things I Plan To Do Before I Die:
  1. Hike the Inca trail.
  2. Own a greyhound.
  3. Own and read the entire Loeb Classical Library.
  4. Have a portrait painted.
  5. Love and be loved.
  6. Visit Israel.
  7. Live abroad.
Seven Things I Can Do:
  1. Internet research.
  2. Moderately difficult baking.
  3. Pack boxes of books in bizarre Tetris configurations.
  4. Irritate liberals with my small-government slant and conservatives with my total failure to care about conserving any traditional social institutions or norms.
  5. Read really quickly (except law books, drat it all).
  6. Win at trivia games.
  7. Blog.
Seven Things I Can't Do:
  1. Park, especially parallel.
  2. Lie.
  3. Apply eyeliner.
  4. Math.
  5. Resist the appeal of a furry face.
  6. Remember.
  7. Eat broccoli.
Seven Things That Attract Me to the Opposite Sex:
  1. Libertarian ideals.
  2. Extreme intelligence.
  3. Dryly sarcastic yet erudite sense of humor.
  4. High tolerance for nonsense.
  5. Lack of interest in reproduction.
  6. Intensely romantic sensibility.
  7. Independence.
Seven things I say the most:

This is impossible, because I don't listen to myself talk. Those of you who have heard me talk should put whatever obnoxious verbal tics I am cursed with in the comments section.

Seven Celebrity Crushes:

As Heather once pointed out, I am a sucker for what she called washed-up British actors. There's some joke about me volunteering my services as a bath attendant which I will not make. No.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Have you seen this film?

Please help my friend Christiana find an old movie:
a film I saw sometime ago in which the husband, always supportive of his non-traditionally successful wife (like she's an attorney or business woman, or somehow pants wearing, etc) hit is breaking point and basically reveals that he actually wants more of a demure, traditional, skirted woman. It doesn't end well, he can't hack it, and they go bust. Or something like that.

How to discourage aspiring SAHMs from going to law school

Richard Posner has the solution for professional schools worried about unproductive graduates: charge higher tuition and reward working graduates with rebates. I'd add that the rebate would need to be tied to employment in the field; what good does it do HLS and the supply of professional services if you work full time as a fashion designer or a professional musician?

So was Penelope for real, too?

Looks like I may have to go back to Greece. They've found the tomb of Odysseus (h/t Glen Whitman).

Sunday, September 25, 2005

How To Schedule Posts in Blogger

I recently solicited advice on how to best schedule posts in Blogger so I could compose posts in the morning before work and have them appear on the site later in the day (this is all so you readers can have a stream of fresh content during your prime web surfing hours, so I hope it's appreciated!). After trying a few different strategies, managing to irretrievably mess up my Yahoo email account, and noodling in Outlook, I came up with this work-around:

1. Activate Blogger's post by email function.

2. Sign up for Email Scheduler.

3. Compose posts in Email Scheduler and set reminder time for when you want the post to appear.

4. Put "#end" at the end of the post (otherwise the Email Scheduler service puts signature spam in the text of your post).

5. Profit!

Hand coding the HTML is a bit tedious, but that's the only disadvantage I've found so far. If someone else knows an easier way, feel free to comment.

One IVF conception to go, please

Ann Althouse draws my attention to this British article on women who are jumping on the IVF bandwagon too early. One cause, say clinic officials, is a busy lifestyle:
About 10 per cent of people I see don't have time to have sex. It's usually when you have two professionals who are based in the city and are very busy.
Conservatives might be appalled by the continuing cultural gap between sex and reproduction, but I'm appalled by the prospect of someone who is too busy to have sex electing to take on the far vaster burden of caring for a child. Althouse thinks money is the real reason, but that doesn't sound right unless all of these women are already in their mid 30s.

50 Book Challenge #50: Water Music

Before one gets to the text of Water Music, one encounters an apologia from the author admitting to anachronism, invented languages, and wholesale reshaping of historical fact. As someone who read historical fiction in part to learn about the past, I should have been disgruntled. But previous experience with Boyle has taught me to appreciate his propensity to use fact as a jumping off point for rollicking flights of fancy, so I read on.

And such a journey! The narrative alternates between the travails of one Mungo Park, youthful Scottish explorer of the Niger; his fiancee Ailie, a reluctant Penelope with a penchant for microbiology; and Ned Rise, product of the gin-soaked London gutter and thrice-over recipient of an astonishing resurrection. All are engagingly drawn, although at no time did I feel emotional engagement with them. Water Music is a rather superficial entertainment, but it's well written and neatly plotted, with nearly every thread pulled together at the book's conclusion, a dramatic confrontation at the rapids of the Niger and a brief coda that feints at starting the whole cycle again and then brings the boot of reality down firmly on the neck of such fantasies.

If you enjoyed Stephenson's Baroque Cycle but found his tendency to stuff in massive chunks of exposition about finance boggy going, Water Music may appeal to you.

For those of you who have been keeping up, this should mark the end of the 50 Book Challenge. However, I will undoubtedly read quite a few more books before year's end, what with the Clerksville library being so well stocked and the prospect of plane rides and dull hotel rooms in my future. I have resolved, therefore, to continue to document any new books I read in their entirety in the same manner and see if I can get to 100 by the new year. Wish me luck!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Same Old Saturday Night

Tonight I went to see Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, since Netflix is jerking my chain over returned Buffy discs (tomorrow I am curling up with either a new book or some Arrested Development DVDs, but today was an undead sort of day). It's been too long since The Nightmare Before Christmas came out for me to really compare the two, but the contrast between Corpse Bride's stop-motion animation and the awful CGI in the trailer for Disney's reinvented version of Chicken Little was like night and day, with night winning by TKO. Corpse Bride 's a short movie, and certain elements rung false (the anachronistic jazz interlude in an otherwise consistently nineteenth century setting, for example), but for a slight piece of entertainment it was worth the five dollars I paid for a matinee ticket. Helena Bonham Carter was somewhat muted as the bride; I would have preferred her to be more Marla Singer-deranged.

In search of cheese

I went to the Clerksville farmers' market today. I had seen online that a rural farm sold its freshly made goat cheese at the market and wanted to get some, since all that's available in the grocery stores here is shrink-wrapped smoked logs of it. Unfortunately, I wandered the entire market without seeing any fresh cheese (one stand did sell goat meat, though). A counterman told me they used to sell it as a favor to another farmer but had to stop since the kitchen wasn't certified. "There are so many laws," he lamented.


Friday, September 23, 2005

Fashion Blog/Bleg

Apologies to those readers who aren't fans of these posts!

Old and busted: custom made cloth purses.

The new hotness: customized handbags made from your favorite novel. I'd love to get one of these made from a vintage edition of Gone With the Wind.

(via Boing Boing)

Additionally: I need shoes. My black slingbacks disappeared in the move, my frumptastic black pumps just got 1 square centimeter of leather carved off one toe and thus need to be retired, and I have no shoes to go with my new suit. These are adorable but I think suede may be a bit much. These are more sensible but lack flair. These are a little on the funky side for the suit, I think. And these are super hot. Thoughts?

Prison Drama

Fans of Oz may find this article worth a read. (h/t Douthat, heaven help me)

An Unjust World

I like The Manolo as much as the next girl, but it seems unfair that the preeminent source for up to the minute celebrity gossip on the web (namely the Fametracker forums) had to be closed down due to high bandwidth fees while The Manolo makes the six figures to blog about the shoes. (h/t Dynamist)

Waiter Rant has a run-in with the law

"What did the gizmo say?" I ask.

"You're not drunk," the trooper says.

I resist the urge to say I told you so.

"But sir," the cop says getting in my face, "let this be a lesson to you. You can have one beer and still get arrested for driving drunk."
If you have qualms about DUI and reckless driving enforcement as it's practiced today, this will just confirm them. Then again, if the Waiter was impaired due to exhaustion, should it have mattered what his BAC was?

Say what, counsel?

My coclerks might say I'm being too hard on the attorney, but this is just ridiculous (via Boing Boing).

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Riding Out Rita

My entire family, with the exception of my mother, has fled the Houston area to avoid Hurricane Rita. My mom drove to the children's hospital where she works with a duffle bag of food, an air mattress, and enough clothes to last until Tuesday and is currently camped out there. My grandparents had to drive all the way to Fort Stockton to find a motel. I don't even like Houston and I'm worried. Sounds like this weekend will be a good time to watch Rushmore, since the stately trees in the part of town where it was filmed may not be standing next week.

Men and Ennui

There's been a fair amount of blog commentary on Rebecca Traister's interview with Benjamin Kunkel (worth the day pass), but the best is probably Hugo Schwyzer's. I plan to read Kunkel's new book once the Clerksville library processes its copy and will report in a 50 Book Challenge: The Revenge post (will I read 50 more books before year's end? you'll see!). As someone with a lot of time on her hands, I found this bit from Hugo's post moderately inspirational:
"You're either transforming or you're stagnating. Those are your only two options."
Words to live by.

Some money quotes from the interview:
The idea is that dating should lead toward mating, and spread out before us is this array of choices that should lead toward a choice you can feel secure in. But I think the opposite happens. You become familiar with disposable relationships. So though they seem to be conducting you toward permanence and mating, in fact they're just inculcating a habit of serial monogamy.
Love, historically, has been associated with a sensation of destiny. It's very difficult for us to attain a sensation of destiny where love is concerned anymore, because we think we can always look for something better, which is essentially a shopper's mentality. There's no destiny when it comes to buying pants or shirts or a dress. . . . I think that tremendous passion that we feel other generations had and that we missed was attached to a sense of destiny, and of permanent love that would survive changes in station and opportunity and fortune.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Girls just wanna stay home?

I ranted yesterday about how ignorant and unreflective the Yale women in this NY Times article sounded. It looks like Yale's been failing its undergrads for some years now. The writer of the offending story, Louise Story, is a recent Yale grad. Another website got a copy of the exceedingly unscientific email survey she used to come up with this absurd piece. I used to work for an institute that did a lot of survey research, so I am somewhat aware of the difficulties sampling and question writing pose in getting accurate results. Story's survey is somewhere between a Cosmo quiz and my 8th grade Science Fair project in terms of rigor (and I'm putting my survey of stereotypes in suburban high schools on top here; at least it wasn't slanted). She lost me with question one (emphasis added):
When you have children, do you plan to stay at home with them or do you plan to continue working? Why?
It goes without saying that such a sample would be self selecting and fail to include childfree or lesbian Yalies. (h/t/ Crooked Timber)

Alone in the naked city

I live alone. This is the first time I will have lived alone for more than three months at a stretch, and while I like having my privacy and being able to be as messy or as neat as I wanna be, the solitary life does pose some obstacles.

Dining, for example. I have been out to eat by myself once in the month I have lived here. A woman dining alone tends to get poor service (supposedly because we don't tip well, but this would tend to be an effect of poor service, so I'm not sure which came first here. anyway . . .). I always end up either wolfing down my food because there's no one to talk to to make me slow down or pushing my food around in a deliberate attempt to not gobble and leave in fifteen minutes, which then makes me feel like the waiter is watching me and wondering what's taking so long.

I don't mind going to the movies by myself, but some people do. There hasn't been anything I wanted to see at the Clerksville multiplexes, so that hasn't come up yet.

Going to a bar by yourself: I don't really go to bars normally, and it seems like going out drinking alone is either really sad or an invitation to drive home tipsy or both, so that's out.

Shopping alone I like, if only because I don't mind asking sales clerks whether these pants make me look fat. So consumerism provides a viable form of entertainment.

Good thing I have Netflix! They're throttling my rentals, though, which is annoying. I mailed four discs on Friday, and they claimed to have received only two on Monday, and they have staggered the shipments to one per day. Apparently this is common. Maybe paying for more discs wasn't such a good idea after all.

Song of the Morning

I've never had a way with women, but the hills of iowa make me wish that I could,
And I've never found a way to say I love you, but if the chance came by, oh i, I would,
But way back where I come from, we never mean to bother,
We don't like to make our passions other peoples concern,
And we walk in the world of safe people, and at night we walk into our houses and burn.

Iowa oh ooo oh, iowa oh ooooh ooo oh i-iowa

How I long to fall just a little bit, to dance out of the lines and stray from the light,
But I fear that to fall in love with you is to fall from a great and gruesome height.
So I asked a friend about it, on a bad day, her husband had just left her,
She sat down on the chair he left behind, she said,
"what is love, where did it get me? whoever thought of love is no friend of mine."

Ioway oh ooo oh, iowa oh ooooh ooo oh i-iowa

Once I had everything, I gave it up for the shoulder of your driveway and the words I've never felt.
And so for you, I came this far across the tracks, ten miles above the limit, and with no seatbelt, and I'd do it again,
For tonight I went running through the screen doors of discretion,
For I woke up from a nightmare that I could not stand to see,
You were a-wandering out on the hills of iowa and you were not thinking of me.

Ioway oh ooo oh, iowa oh ooooh ooo oh i-iowa
Ioway oh ooo oh, iowa oh ooooh ooo oh i-iowa

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

In which I judge other women's choices

Others in the blogosphere have already taken aim at today's appalling article in the NY Times on Ivy Leaguers happily embracing the mommy track. I read the piece with increasing irritation, and not just because this is one more in a series of stories on the propensity of young women today to drop out of the working world. I met these types at HLS: the young female lawyers with lucrative offers from firms who planned to pay off their loans, accumulate a little cash, and then drop out of the job market to be full time parents. The only thing more disgusting than the complacent ones who knew their similarly employed professional husbands would continue to pull 100 hour weeks to keep them and the kids in the upper middle class style to which they had become accustomed were the ones who asserted that they didn't care if their husbands would prefer to stay home or if their quitting would cripple the family budget, they were going to embrace their Ozzie & Harriet dream come hell or high water.

Feminism is about choices, yes. Feminism is also about equality and not all choices are unassailable. Smugly declaring that you plan to unthinkingly embrace retrograde gender stereotypes (and even that you're aware playing them up attracts men) is not a choice I'm going to support as a feminist. All the young women in this article got theirs, and they are perfectly content to reap the benefits of earlier feminists' efforts by attending Ivy League schools and getting professional training, but they also want to be "sexy" kept housewives. Refusing to see that their husbands will also face a work/family conflict, they flee into the comforting arms of stereotype. That only four women in the sample saw a stay at home husband as an option suggests that these women have only the sketchiest understanding of the true meaning of choice under feminism. The choice is not between being a full time mother with no job or a full time professional with kids in day care or with a nanny. It's between those things and a third way: sharing parenting responsibilities with the your husband. (There is also the choice to remain childless, but let's assume that all of these women have given slightly more thought to whether they want kids than how they plan to allocate the burden of caring for them.) But apparently an equal division of labor doesn't occur to them:
"What does concern me," said Peter Salovey, the dean of Yale College, "is that so few students seem to be able to think outside the box; so few students seem to be able to imagine a life for themselves that isn't constructed along traditional gender roles."
This failure to think critically about the options the dominant paradigm offers puts the women themselves in a box:
Shannon Flynn, an 18-year-old from Guilford, Conn., who is a freshman at Harvard, says many of her girlfriends do not want to work full time.

"Most probably do feel like me, maybe even tending toward wanting to not work at all," said Ms. Flynn, who plans to work part time after having children, though she is torn because she has worked so hard in school.

"Men really aren't put in that position," she said.

Men aren't put in that position because you and your fellow Ivy Leaguers aren't willing or are too oblivious to put them there! And they are similarly oblivious to the potential hazards of their choices:

Angie Ku, another of Ms. Liu's roommates who had a stay-at-home mom, talks nonchalantly about attending law or business school, having perhaps a 10-year career and then staying home with her children.
10 years. Assuming graduation from law school at 25, that makes her 35 when she quits. Even if she stays home only ten years and not the full 20-25 it might take to see the kids through school and out of the house, that makes her 45, with no work experience for a decade, when she reenters the job market. Hope Ms. Ku's husband doesn't decide to leave her, and that her skills remain in demand (although apparently even a 6 month break could be fatal if she wanted to come back to BIGLAW). Hope she marries well enough that her family doesn't need a second income for a decade or more. And even if everything works out for Ms. Ku and her fellow dilletantes, the rest of us will be contending with a working world with fewer women in it, fewer examples of gender equality in parenting, and less pressure to effect change.

I don't expect these Ivy League girls to sacrifice themselves for the cause, but you'd think with all that education they would be self aware enough to be able to analyze their own preferences and assess the extent to which they are determined by gender stereotypes. After all, isn't navel gazing what college students do best?

She said, she said.

Crescat is discussing male on female street harassment (most recent post here). On harassment and the problem of ascertaining social conventions generally, see this recent essay by a lesbian fired for sexual harassment (warning: link). There's some discussion on Feministe on the essay as well.

Pleasant Nonsense

Badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger
Mushroom mushroom
Badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger
Mushroom mushroom
Badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger
Mushroom mushroom
Badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger
OH a Snape a Snape, Snape, a Snape, OOH it's a Snape!


You know, I have one simple request. And that is to have cats with frickin' laser beams coming out of their heads!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Tales from Clerksville

My neighbors are the only people I've ever seen who leave bags of dog poop on their own porch.

They have a couple of dogs, and apparently they are conscientious enough to scoop and bag the poop when they take Fido and Butch for a walk, but it looks like they are not energetic enough to take the poo to the dumpster across the parking lot. This means there is a growing pile of little black plastic bags on their patio.

I hope nobody sets them on fire.

Relatedly, in that it is on pets: I have a song I sing to Lily ("She's a lily of the valley; she's a kitty from an alley," with sort of a Copacabana flair), but I am having trouble thinking of rhymes for Snape. I end up telling him he's Snape the Grape Ape, but his being neither purple nor simian makes that unsatisfying. Thoughts?

Along those lines: pet nicknames.

Things I Hate II

-Irish bars. They are the alcoholic version of McDonalds; no matter where you are in the world, you can count on finding an establishment with a standardized appearance and bad food full of obnoxious English speakers.

-Trying to find the organic market, giving up and going home, phoning them to see if they have been mysteriously taken over by a chain grocer, and discovering that you drove right past it. Twice.

-Losing my watch.

-Wasps that infiltrate my living room, leaving me to cower on the couch, paralyzed by fear of stings and indecision about what library book I should use to crush the invader.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Online Shopping

Amazon is a puzzle to me. I recently got an Amazon Visa card which gives me gift certificates as a reward for charges on the card, so I am eager to buy as much of what I need as is possible on their site. However, their selection baffles me. They have a shocking array of queen sized animal print blankets, but no plain green cotton full sized ones. Ghostbusters is available from their merchant affiliates, but Amazon itself only sells the Ghostbusters I & II gift set. The little shock I get at how common it is for the things I buy on Amazon not to actually be sold by Amazon is what's keeping me from buying their all-you-can-eat shipping plan, since I have a sneaking suspicion that those items are not covered.

50 Book Challenge #48 & 49: Niccolo Rising & Small Island

The less said about Niccolo Rising, the better. It consisted of unengaging characters with unbelievable and suddenly developed abilities bouncing around parts of the the world that I don't care about for far too many pages. To add insult to injury, it's the first book in a series. I cannot imagine circumstances in which I would read more books about this Niccolo guy. He is a secret genius spy who is irresistable to ladies and has the Medici on a string, but somehow Dunnett makes him boring. She is a better writer than Colleen McCullough, but that's not saying much. I took this book with me on a trip and the only reason I kept reading it was because I forgot I had also brought my Latin book.

I had lower expectations for Small Island than I did for Niccolo Rising, since I normally like historical fiction more than conventional lit-fic. It didn't help that the author had admitted in an interview with Salon that she had never read a book before she started writing one. Levy plays it safe by focusing on the psychological experience of being a Jamaican immigrant, with some ventriloquist exercises into the perspective of the native English. As I read the sections taking place in Jamaica, I couldn't help but compare it to what my Peace Corps veteran friend told me about her recent time there and think that it sounded like not much has changed for the better. Small Island is worth reading but not worth buying; all of its virtues are apparent on the surface and it will probably not yield much on repeated readings.

You can lead a clotheshorse to water

Since I have to look professional now that I'm in the wide world of work, I went to the mall to buy some decent clothes today. Part of me is a little proud that I can still squeeze into the suit I bought my senior year of high school for admitted students' weekend at CMC, but another part of me thinks it's pathetic that I am still wearing clothes from that long ago (however, I believe the record goes to my Doc Martens, a Christmas gift from 8th grade). $338 later, I am three pairs of slacks, one twinset, one dress, and one suit richer.

On a related note, I've lost five pounds. Maybe soon I'll be back down to my fighting weight of 98 (no actual fighting associated with me at any time or size). That would serve me right, since I just bought new clothes. Mostly I need to work out, but I hate getting up early to sweat and I hate going to bed dirty and my hair has to be washed in the morning . . . excuses, excuses.

UPDATE: Suit link should work now; dress link added (dress is to be worn with jaunty white poplin blazer). And I am aware that the post title makes no sense.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Sending Emails to the Future

I've noticed that traffic is down of late and attribute this to the lack of new content during the day, when most people are online. Is there some way for me to send a postponed email message to Blogger's post by email function so new content can be posted while I am at work? If it helps, I use Gmail for my primary email but also have a Yahoo address, Outlook 2000 installed, and an old email account.

Playlist of champions

Songs about lawyers.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Yet another trans/bathroom post

After reading this article about a trans woman arrested for using the women's shower, the question plaguing my mind is:

What Would Ann Althouse Do?


UPDATE: Ted Frank thinks unisex bathrooms reduce the cost of committing sex crimes. I would think that having bathrooms open to both sexes would also result in a slight increase in deterrence of sex crimes, since there would be twice as much traffic in one large unisex bathroom than in two single sex rooms, and the expectation that another man would be likely to enter at any time might discourage a sexual predator, given the tendency of most men to not be evil rapists or rapist collaborators.

The Butler did it.

Tyler Cowen calls my attention to an important literary event: publication of a new Octavia Butler novel, this one a vampire tale. He notes (although with a link to a bizarrely inappropriate photo) that too often vampires allow their bloodlust to overwhelm rational economic thought. Even when they purport to follow the mortal example of efficient resource extraction, as in "The Wish," it's often not successful (what exactly was the benefit of that blood extraction machine anyway--greater suction?). Why is this? Anne Rice's vampires are capable of restraint, but do not mechanize.

Fledgling is not available until next month, but in the meantime you should check out Bloodchild, her short story collection, if you've not done so already.

Single White Female

Renee Zellweger continues her quest to ape Julia Roberts in every respect by breaking it off with the funny looking country star she just married. I look forward to her future flaky romances with other Hollywood stars (could Mark Ruffalo be Benjamin Bratt 2.0?), continued underdeserved popularity, and eventual decision to become a full time homewrecker and mother of twins with funny names.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Deck the halls

I was out of town for a few days but am now back in Clerksville, where my apartment was decked with shredded kleenex due to Lily and Snape's dissatisfaction with being left to the tender mercies of a strange catsitter. Fortunately, Snape has fully recovered from his illness and is rambunctiously attempting to wrestle Lily, who is twice his size, off of my dining room chairs. Two discs of Buffy later, I am full of spaghetti and ready for work.

Buffy note: I always thought the stepfather episode from season one took the easy way out of the moral problem of using Slayer strength against regular mortals, but I'm glad to see that we are finally addressing this issue in season three.

Alone in the crowd

What massively popular cultural phenomena are you completely in the dark about? As someone who doesn't watch television (especially reality TV) or care about sports, I find myself totally at sea in half of my conversations with new people. I do read the online version of the papers, but I don't watch the news. Chatting about celebrity gossip is usually safe due to my obsessive internet surfing, but that's about the limit of my pop culture awareness. Augh!

Soul and society

Hugo Schwyzer has an excellent Larkin poem posted today. I'm an introvert, so everything in there goes double for me.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Firms Demand Loyalty, First Born?

I can't help but think this vindicates Blachman in some way. The post is about O of Opinionistas attempting to get information from a headhunter on taking a six month break to write a book and then coming back to a different law firm. The juicy part:
"So essentially, I can leave and come back, but if I spend those months doing anything that doesn't require wearing Banana Republic every day and making pointless smalltalk in the hallway, I may as well walk into the interviews straight from an Amazonian leper colony, without bothering to shower."

"Well, yes. The corporate world wants loyalty, you can't always come back."

"Wow, I've always known this, but I've never actually heard it stated so bluntly by an actual knowledgable person that exists outside my internal monologue."

"I'd imagine you probably think that, because you went to X and Y schools and had no trouble getting summer offers, you'll be able to walk right back into a hiring partner's office and get hired."

"Well no, I didn't think it was that simple."

"Good, because it isn't. I suggest you try to take vacation and sick days or something."

"You mean, write a book during a week-long vacation and a few personal days?"

"It would eliminate the resume gap."

Blog Primping

I have recently had the chance to see this blog on some other machines than my own and in Internet Explorer, and it looks simply terrible. The giant font gives it the appearance of some kind of children's page. I know some of you complained about the previous font size, but was it really that hard to read? Can I delete the "big" tag in there without losing some of you?


You cannot put a Fire out --
A Thing that can ignite
Can go, itself, without a Fan --
Upon the slowest Night --

You cannot fold a Flood --
And put it in a Drawer --
Because the Winds would find it out --
And tell your Cedar Floor --

-Emily Dickinson

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

DC Circuit Shuffle

HLS graduate George Hicks moves from Roberts to Brown.

Truth be told . . .

KipEsquire has been doing a lot of very good blogging lately.

Penguins will save traditional marriage

Via the VC, a hilarious article in the NY Times on a right wing love affair with March of the Penguins.
To Andrew Coffin, writing in the widely circulated Christian publication World Magazine, [the film] is a winning argument for the theory that life is too complex to have arisen through random selection.

"That any one of these eggs survives is a remarkable feat - and, some might suppose, a strong case for intelligent design," he wrote.
Because natural selection couldn't have had anything to do with it . . .
Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review, told the young conservatives' gathering last month: "I have to say, penguins are the really ideal example of monogamy. These things - the dedication of these birds is just amazing."
Did Lowry miss the part where they mention that emperor penguins change mates every year? They are serial monogamists. And what about the steadfast example of gay penguins: do they count?

One minister identified a little too strongly with the penguins:
"Some of the circumstances they experienced seemed to parallel those of Christians," he said of the penguins. "The penguin is falling behind, is like some Christians falling behind. The path changes every year, yet they find their way, is like the Holy Spirit."
And the leopard seals are just like the lions in the Coliseum!

I applaud the reporter for not making his own amusement with these people more obvious than it was.


Check out these great Ask Metafilter threads on spelling and usage peeves. What common mistakes drive you crazy? For me, it's the conflation of words "lectern" and "podium," poorly placed quotation marks, and weird usage of apostrophes. Release your inner pedant!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Even libertarians care about virtue

I found myself nodding vociferously while reading the latest Dalrymple essay. Do click through. (And if you do and that link doesn't work, try this one.)

50 Book Challenge #47: The Fifth Child

Since I very much enjoyed Lionel Shriver's latest, I took the advice of some MeFites and picked up The Fifth Child, a book with a similar theme. It is much shorter and has a less sympathetic protagonist, but it also deals with a child who is seemingly bad since birth who shatters the family to which he is born. Ben is the fifth child of two traditionalist Britons who want nothing more than a large, happy home. However, unlike the sullen yet sly Kevin, Ben is troll-like and alien, reminding me of the ominous figures from other late 1970s & early 1980s horror novels by Ramsey Campbell, et al. The vaguely supernatural suggestion that Ben is something other than human--a throwback to some earlier tribe or folk--gives the book far less sociological impact than the relentlessly realistic Shriver book and dates the book in an even more obvious way than does the narrowly drawn setting; the whole exercise made me think of a cross between English country tales and Rosemary's Baby. Lessing's name gets thrown about a fair amount, so I may try another of her books, but this one was only so-so.

Katrina and the Law, Continued

Some but not all Louisiana bar takers will have to retake the exam.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Bring on the pain

From the comments at Making Light, a typically perceptive perspective on enjoying culture:
There are books, plays, etc., that I adore, recommend to anyone who'll listen, drag people off to, reread until I've memorized, and so on. (Not to name names or anything, but there's a certain poem that portays the personae of Camelot arriving home for Christmas by train, that I like to read out loud - very unusual for me - though never when other people are around, because I invariably burst into tears at the last lines.)

But have you noticed that truly wretched peices of work can also provide years of enjoyment (once you've recovered from the initial trauma) by vilifying them forever after for an appreciative audience?
I agree. It's like a nostalgic analogue to the puzzling tendency we have to taste something awful and then promptly offer it to someone else: "Ew! Try this!" The vividness with which we recall bad experiences, coupled with a certain masochism, can make the experience of bad art strangely compelling. I remember much more about the terrible versions of "The Producers" and "Urban Cowboy" I've seen than I do about any less appalling productions. A truly inept film transcends conventional enjoyment and can become a twisted species of participatory theater during and after the fact. Bad books, which I have much less tolerance for these days, can even provide hours of enjoyment by lending themselves to dissection and "exfoliatory reading."

And some of us simply like to complain. I've griped a lot about some of my books for the 50 Book Challenge, but bashing a bad book is more fun than trying to pin down what makes for greatness in another book, not least because I try to avoid spoilers in reviews of books I recommend but have few compunctions about revealing hilariously bad details. Everyone knows Dubliners is good, but I may have gotten more pleasure out of reading the painfully poor Banewreaker and then singing little songs about it based on a James Bond theme.

Even my gluttony for punishment, though, was insufficient to get me through Lord Foul's Bane.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Promiscuous reading

Number of books checked out from the library: 11.
Number of people who commented on the size of my pile of books between the stacks and my car: 3.
Amount I had to pay for parking at the library: 0.

Unrelatedly, I received a forwarded credit card solicitation with a card ready for activation inside. This seems really hinky, since I don't live at that address any more and any future card might not be forwarded. Is there some way to stop this? Supposedly you can take your name off the credit agencies' preapproved offer list, but will that affect me getting cards that I do want?

More Tenenbaums

There's a hawk that likes to perch on the balcony outside my office. If he sticks around I'm going to start calling him Mordecai.

Nitpick/Fact Check

From this article on Elijah Wood's new movie, Hooligans:
Wood plays Matt Buckner, a young American who comes to London to live with his sister after he has been kicked out of Harvard, where he had been studying journalism.
Does Harvard even offer a journalism major? It's not listed as one of their fields of concentration.

Buffy Season 3 Question

Why does the Scooby gang freak out when they finally find out about Angel? Angel - soul = murdering torturer, but Angel + soul = good.

Friday, September 09, 2005


It was easy enough
to bend them to my wish,
it was easy enough
to alter them with a touch,
but you
adrift on the great sea,
how shall I call you back?

Cedar and white ash,
rock-cedar and sand plants
and tamarisk
red cedar and white cedar
and black cedar from the inmost forest,
fragrance upon fragrance
and all of my sea-magic is for nought.

It was easy enough-
a thought called them
from the sharp edges of the earth;
they prayed for a touch,
they cried for the sight of my face,
they entreated me
till in pity
I turned each to his own self.

Panther and panther,
then a black leopard
follows close-
black panther and red
and a great hound,
a god-like beast,
cut the sand in a clear ring
and shut me from the earth,
and cover the sea-sound
with their throats,
and the sea-roar with their own barks
and bellowing and snarls,
and the sea-stars
and the swirl of the sand,
and the rock-tamarisk
and the wind resonance-
but not your voice.

It is easy enough to call men
from the edges of the earth.
It is easy enough to summon them to my feet
with a thought-
it is beautiful to see the tall panther
and the sleek deer-hounds
circle in the dark.
It is easy enough
to make cedar and white ash fumes
into palaces
and to cover the sea-caves
with ivory and onyx.

But I would give up
rock-fringes of coral
and the inmost chamber
of my island palace
and my own gifts
and the whole region
of my power and magic
for your glance.


Of all the villanelles . . .

PG likes villanelles, or at least this one. I love the incantatory sound of the villanelle and am in a poetry mood, so here are some more:

Dylan Thomas produced what is perhaps the most famous modern example.

Auden also dabbled, as did Plath. Roethke produced a lovely one.

Ernest Dowson embraced the villanelle, perhaps because its repetitive nature makes it one of the best kinds of poem to write while drunk. His most famous villanelle may be this one, but this less eloquent example gives it a run for its money.

The Sporting Life

I've never been able to satisfactorily explain why Rushmore fills me with such jubilation, nor why The Royal Tenenbaums elicits an equally profound sense of melancholy. The Decembrists made good use of the Rushmore milieu in their 16 Military Wives video, but in another song on their Picaresque album, they evoke the spirit of one sequence from The Royal Tenenbaums to even better effect, and this perhaps unintentionally. The lyrical fit is inexact, but the psychological fit is nearly perfect. What better soundtrack for the sequence in which Richie loses the match after Margot marries Raleigh St. Clair than this?

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Hate that muddy water

People used to ask me why I hated Boston. Here's a good reason (and I don't even subscribe to Douthat's natalist agenda). It's more expensive than NYC, but colder and with less culture. Why would anyone live there?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Little Words

(I'm in a very Dorothy Parker mood.)

When you are gone, there is nor bloom nor leaf,
Nor singing sea at night, nor silver birds;
And I can only stare, and shape my grief
In little words.

I cannot conjure loveliness, to drown
The bitter woe that racks my cords apart.
The weary pen that sets my sorrow down
Feeds at my heart.

There is no mercy in the shifting year,
No beauty wraps me tenderly about.
I turn to little words- so you, my dear,
Can spell them out.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Netflix is Really Ticking Me Off

I just upgraded to a 5 disc Netflix account so I can have more stuff to watch in Clerksville. My trek through Buffy the Vampire Slayer, however, is on hold. Why? Netflix keeps jumping down my queue past the Buffy discs (despite the fact that they all say "Available now") and mailing me the weird foreign films from further down the page. What is the deal? Give me my Slayer and no one gets hurt.

Fashion Conscious

David Bernstein wants to know:
Why on earth would you wear a sweater that only keeps the upper half of your torso covered?
Because that's the only part of you that gets cold if you are wearing a spaghetti strap top? A mini cardigan would cover the exposed back, upper arms, and armpits without adding mass to the waist area, a zone many women want to minimize. I don't even own one of these, but that sounds logical.

Cheeky Little Beggar

Snape has become something of an aspiring thief and tries to eat my dinner on a daily basis. I'm glad his appetite is so obviously good because he's been sniffly and sneezy for the past few days. If he's still congested tomorrow morning I am taking him to the vet before work. Poor little guy. And poor me--during one of his sneak attacks on my plate, he sneezed on my quesadilla.

Monday, September 05, 2005

More on Katrina and Pets

Via Metafilter, the firsthand account of an escape from a Louisiana refugee camp. The author, Michael Homan, slipped out in the dead of night and walked for six hours to reach a point where he and his group could be picked up. The reason for his escape: to protect his two dogs, which were to be confiscated by camp officials.

Wish Nate & Hayes was on DVD . . .

Note to self: do not watch movies about children dying in bus accidents while a natural disaster is still ongoing. You will give yourself nightmares.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Chief Justice Rehnquist Dies

Another sad event in what's possibly been one of America's worst weeks:

Chief Justice Rehnquist Dies At Home


Whenever I travel, I try to visit art museums, and whenever I visit art museums, I try to buy a postcard or print of the paintings I most enjoyed. When I went to the Met last year, I purchased a large print of this Modigliani painting, but only recently was I able to have it professionally framed.

The lady at Garden Ridge was very nice while helping me pick out a frame and said she liked the Modigliani too. When they called today to let me know that it and the Severini print I got in Venice were ready, I drove over. The young man at the framing counter showed me the Severini and then went back for the Modigliani, which emerged with a large piece of cardboard in front of it.

"We're not part of Garden Ridge," he said, pulling back the cardboard to show me the framed print, "and they don't allow us to have these on display."

"Garden Ridge doesn't like pictures of naked ladies?" I asked bemusedly.

"No. You should see it whenever we get one of these out on the loading dock; it sits there for weeks before we can find someone to come and pick it up." [I presume he meant as part of their bulk art purchases.]

The young man then carried the large print out to my car, carefully keeping the cardboard over the picture as we walked through the store.

Does this seem . . . odd . . . to anyone?

News to me

Who knew Geraldo was a lawyer?

Friday, September 02, 2005

Cat #2

I brought Lily home today. Here she is.

She's older than Snape by a few months and a bit under the weather from being at the shelter for a while, but they're slowly getting used to each other. Snape manages to keep himself entertained for the moment, but hopefully when Lily feels more confident and comfortable they will be able to play a bit.

When I was picking Lily up from the animal hospital a woman came in clutching two little Yorkies. She had just come from New Orleans and still needed to look for an apartment and a job, but her first priority was making sure the dogs were cared for. I gave her directions to my complex, which has a generous pet policy, so perhaps I'll be getting new neighbors.

Express Yourself

Joanne Jacobs expresses shock that her high school aged niece was told to make a collage about herself for pre-calculus class. I can top this. Our first assignment at Harvard Law School was to make a collage. My journal from the time reflects my disgust with this absurd task:
For my First Year Lawyering class (where we learn writing and research methods), we have to make "a collage, a drawing, a crayon rendition, or any form of expression that depicts the qualities of the lawyer you most want to be."

No joke, people. For my first assignment at Harvard Law School, I have to make a collage. Or bust out the crayons. Either way, it sounds damn silly.
I didn't take the assignment very seriously. My effort can be found here.

UPDATE: Welcome, Althouse readers! I only wish I had photos of my classmates' submissions. Many people used the suggested crayons, and one woman made a mobile.

UPDATE II: Link to collage fixed.

Katrina and the Law

The Volokh Conspiracy noted that Katrina has dealt a crushing blow to the legal community and justice system of New Orleans, with files, records, and evidence destroyed. Some speculate that the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals may move to Austin, either temporarily or permanently. And many law schools, including Stanford, have opened their doors to Tulane and Loyola law students. I wonder if HLS will follow suit? My cynical side says no, but perhaps Dean Kagan will surprise me.

UPDATE: Will points out that as of Friday afternoon HLS announced that it will admit up to 25 2Ls and 3Ls from Tulane and Loyola.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Yes, I am a giant sucker.

After agonizing at the animal shelter on Wednesday over which furry bundle of joy to pick, I stuck with my original commitment and brought home this little guy. But as soon as I got him home I was tormented by the thought of another fuzzy face, and I have it on good authority that cats are happier when they have a friend. Therefore, there will soon be one more feline inhabitant of my apartment in Clerksville. Pictures of her will be posted once I've brought her home from the vet tomorrow.

I'm tearing up here, wil

Maybe it's because I finally have been able to get my own animal companions after years without, but this jumped out at me from an article on the Superdome evacuations:
Pets were not allowed on the bus, and when a police officer confiscated a little boy's dog, the child cried until he vomited. "Snowball, snowball," he cried.

UPDATE: A happy ending?