Monday, July 31, 2006

The definition of disappointment

Seeing a flat, rectangular cardboard box in the office and thinking, "yay, doughnuts!" Realizing that it is a box of photocopies.

Idiocy: You know it when you see it.

Sam's Club refuses to print a photo of a woman in a knitted bikini. (h/t) I guess I was lucky to be able to get my Modigliani print framed — that, or Clerksville is radically more cosmopolitan than Topeka.

I did notice at the grocery store yesterday that the in-store digital photo kiosk is positioned so the screen is fully visible to all the checkout lanes. I assume that's to prevent people from printing nudie pix at the Kroger.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

I heart divorce.

As a second-generation child of divorce, I wanted to agree with Ms. Marcotte: divorce is good. Growing up without an abusive alcoholic in the house rocks. If divorce didn't exist, my life would be much worse in a multitude of ways, as would the lives of people I love. Bad marriages suck; divorce rules.

Friday, July 28, 2006

How does one transport?

So I've been mulling over the passage of the deceptively named "Child Custody Protection Act" for a couple of days. Others have already weighed in, but I'm interested (of course) in how to work around the law should it be enacted in its present form.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse; if Granny isn't aware that parental notification/consent is required but transports Granddaughter over state lines with the intent to let Granddaughter get an abortion, she's guilty. The only affirmative defense is if Granny "reasonably believed, based on information [she] obtained directly from a parent of the minor or other compelling facts, that before the minor obtained the abortion" the requirements for an abortion in the minor's state of residency were met.

The only play I can see around the edges is what it means to transport. If Granny gives Granddaughter money for a bus ticket to New York, has she transported Granddaughter? What if she buys a second ticket and goes to New York with her? Getting around the law surely could not be so simple as to permit Granny to drive to the state line, let Granddaughter out of the car, let her walk under her own power across the state line, and pick her up on the other side. I'm sure there's some Mann Act and child sex abuse caselaw out there that would make this clearer. Any thoughts?

OT 2006 Hiring Completed

Justice Alito hired his last two clerks: Matthew A. Schwartz (Columbia '03/Alito) and Gordon D. Todd (UVA '00/Beam). (h/t via) The full OT 2006 list has been updated.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Public sex and nudity, con't.

Congressman's 81-year-old war-hero father cited for lewd conduct and indecent exposure for having sex in a car.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Random Roundup XVI

I know I just did one of these, but I found a few good posts to share.

Jason Kuznicki on George Michael, male privilege, and promiscuity.

The Happy Feminist on false consciousness.

Tyler Cowen explores why everything in the U.K. is so expensive.

Professor Benton on why the teacher from Dead Poets Society is a jerk and how grad school saps you of everything good, holy, and inspiring.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Taming of the Fox

Here's an interesting article on the domestication of animals. Russian researchers, using only tolerance for human contact as a criterion, have successfully bred tame versions of foxes, rats, minks, and otters. (The foxes are very cute.) The genes for tameness may be the same in all mammals, which could have interesting implications for us as well:
Richard Wrangham, a primatologist at Harvard, has proposed that people are a domesticated form of ape, the domestication having been self-administered as human societies penalized or ostracized individuals who were too aggressive.
That reminds me a lot of the plot of this book. Maybe soon we'll be able to genetically profile for human tameness. What would that lead to?


Monday, July 24, 2006

You won't fail the bar.

Good luck to everyone taking the bar exam tomorrow (and the next day, and the next day). Skip that last part if you're doing a two-day bar.

Fulfilling the prophesy

(from Natalie Dee)

Unrelatedly, Unbreakable is, as I thought when I first saw it, a really good movie. If only the planned sequels had been made instead of M. Night's recent travesties.

Feminists on C.R.A.C.K.

I eagerly await the day when N.O.W. protests the child tax credit. After all, those middle class women claiming it are just going to use the money to pay off the credit card bills they acquired through their compulsive shopping (which isn't their fault, of course, it's our consumerist society). And the birth of a new child is just another opportunity for families to sink further into debt: baby needs a new pair of shoes, and Payless takes Visa!

Seriously, left-wing feminists' opposition to Project Prevention, a program that pays drug addicts to get long-term birth control. is a bit disproportionate. None of them think it's a bad idea to have free or subsidized birth control (even sterilization) available to poor women. None of them think that family planning clinics that are conveniently located in poor minority neighborhoods are some evidence of a genocide scheme; in fact, one of the big causes of late is to prevent the shuttering of such clinics on the ground that it's burdensome for poor women to have to go out of their way to get BC. And while some opponents of Project Prevention probably think that paying people for participation in clinical trials, for plasma donation, or for egg donation are somehow coercive, I doubt that there's unanimity on that score.

So here we have a population that would, if you polled them, probably report that they'd like some form of long term birth control, but they're drug addicts and are thus incapable of getting their ducks in a row to find a clinic and to schedule and keep an appointment without some sort of incentive. Getting birth control is an inconvenience, and can be painful (here, a shot or an operation). Compensation for time and discomfort is not coercive.

It baffles me to see people who typically support reproductive choice agitating for the demise of a program that allows women to make an ex ante choice about future reproduction. Claiming that the money makes it coercive is absurd; by that rationale, all the subsidies that currently exist for parents "coerce" women into having children, the mortgage interest deduction "coerces" people into buying houses, and poor people are "coerced" into working at McDonald's. Isn't McDonald's just saying, "you'll have a place to sleep if you just spend your life emptying grease traps"? Oh, the humanity!

Our society respects the right of addicts to "choose" to have sex in a drug haze, get pregnant, and have babies that they won't or can't care for. At least some subsidies (although not enough, claim the left-wing feminists) financially support those choices. This just offers financial incentives for making the opposite choice.

UPDATE: The comments to the linked post reflect a serious misunderstanding about the fungibility of money. If a crack addict wants an abortion, the argument goes, we can give her a free one (thus permitting her to use the money she might have spent on an abortion on drugs), but we can't give her $300 and say, "here, go get an abortion."

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Random Roundup XV

Should I pop my collar? (h/t)

Should I allow my friend to shoot me with roman candles?

Do I dare to eat a peach? One woman says no.

Shuffle or playlists? The writer of this blog shuffles.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Mini Minion Review

This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force. — Dorothy Parker

I was looking for something brainless to read at the gym and picked up what I thought would be a ripoff of Anne Rice. Instead, it was a Buffy ripoff written at the tenth grade level packed with descriptive passages that rivaled the work of Robert Jordan for repetitiveness and needless detail. L.A. Banks makes Laurell K. Hamilton look like Jane Austen. It might be less awful than Touched By Venom, but I refused to suffer through more than 1.5 chapters to find out.

Note: this is exactly why I go to libraries instead of buying books. Ninety percent of everything is crap, but the crap need not both waste your time and pick your pocket.

99% conviction rate

I hope I don't get arrested while I am in Japan.

At night, the ice-weasels come

Messed up relationship stuff from around the blogosphere:

  • Rather than aiming for the Good, aim away from the bad. As a case in point, this is how I went woman hunting. I have had in my life exactly one girlfriend, to whom I am now married. I did this not by searching out the perfect woman, but by searching for a woman who didn’t annoy me, because I realized everyone has at least some traits that I can like, and if I let myself become enamoured with that, it could blind me to the bad. This has been the cause of every failed relationship that I’ve ever witnessed. In life, where the true Good is not attainable, the very best we can hope for is the absence of bad. — Apollo Morgan
This is a classic example of the second strategy outlined here. I find it deeply depressing, but I'm not a satisficer.

  • What I didn't understand about the Mager article is why the Times referred to his girlfriend's having an "affair." How can it be an affair if you're not married. It isn't even, in my book, being unfaithful, although my wife would claim that it would qualify as being unfaithful if the boyfriend did it. — Sean
Expectations of monogamy within non-marital relationships are not unknown. I don't know if this attitude is a holdover from the old days when dating norms permitted multiple boyfriends and girlfriends, but once you've moved in and have a house together, I'd think you're close enough to common-law to get the benefit of the doubt re: expectations of fidelity. Or is this an attempt to punish those who shack up by robbing them of social means of punishing cheaters? No matter what, ew.

  • If I were married, and I had an abortion, I’m sure I would tell my husband. Why? Because right now, I tell my boyfriend what I had for lunch. I tell him what color I’m thinking of painting the walls. I tell him what I thought of the movie I saw last night. I tell him to bring home some whiskey because I’m having cramps. So I’d tell him I was having an abortion. Because I tell him stuff. Because he can’t be a nice helpful boyfriend/husband if he doesn’t know, and because it’s convenient and natural FOR ME to solicit sympathy for medical woes. Not FOR HIM. FOR ME.

    But to tell him because I “owe” it to him or because he has an “interest” in my body? Because he won’t “trust” me otherwise? That’s some sick, fucked-up shit. I don’t tell my boyfriend when I’m having dental surgery because he has the “right to know.” I tell him so he can drive me to the dentist and pick up my pain pills. He doesn’t have a right to know, and he’d be some sick controlling fuck to get mad because I didn’t tell him about my fillings until I’d made the appointment. — sophonisba

While I'm not claiming that you owe an account of your every move and thought to your significant other, part of love (in my view, at least) is openness and trust. That you would only share an important experience with your loved one if there was something in it for you sounds more like using than loving. While people don't have a legal right to be informed of the important medical decisions of their spouses, they have some qualified moral right to know. There can be secrets in a marriage, but their existence can indicate that trust, the bedrock of committment, is lacking.

Within the context of the unhealthy-sounding marriage that inspired the linked comment, I think that the husband may have lost his moral right to know by his uncaring behavior, but disclosure as a baseline assumption for healthy relationships doesn't sound too unusual. Do you disagree? Can a relationship be sound if important life choices made by one person are never revealed to the other person? If potentially hazardous situations encountered by one are kept from the other?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Don't stand so close to me

This reminds me so much of the suicide note/love confession I received from a high school classmate (who lived, fortunately). He was the kind of person who swerved at animals in the road; no reciprocation was possible.

Incidentally, is there any non-creepy reason why someone would want to surf this website through an anonymizer service?

Lunar conspiracy

Thirty-seven years ago today yesterday man walked on the moon. One of my law school friends was firmly convinced that the moon landing was faked.


On the recommendations of one of my coclerks, I purchased an automatic litter box for Lily and Snape. The thing is enormous and took me about an hour to put together. So far Lily refuses to go inside it. Snape thinks it is a toy; he goes inside, exits, and then waits expectantly for the clean-up cycle. Meanwhile, Lily makes clear that the plastic ties that held the pieces together in transit are the best toys ever. Sigh.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

"Going to school in Boston"

In response to Tyler Cowen's call for examples of counter-signaling, Will Wilkinson offered up the example of Harvard grads who say they went to school "up in Boston." Julian Sanchez finds this practice, when done to avoid some presumed discomfort arising from the audience's sense of inferiority, objectionable.

I admit to sometimes using the "up in Boston" locution to avoid, as Sanchez puts it, "being mistaken for one of those folks who drops the H-bomb into every conversation" or to avoid being asked questions about my experience (the makers of Legally Blonde can drop dead). There are people, however, who have a strong negative reaction to the reminder that others have attended more prestigious universities. See, for example, this post of mine from last year's bar exam, discussing how wearers of Ivy League school shirts were condemned (by a graduate of another prestigious institution, no less) for making graduates of Tier 3 schools feel inferior by our very presence. If the passive medium of a t-shirt is so offensive to some, surely some sensitive persons would be scarred by the actual mention of Harvard in conversation.

Sanchez underestimates the extent to which many people are thin-skinned babies.

More on book collecting

If the conclusions of this research on film selection carry over to books, a long book queue may lead to the accumulation of unread, pretentious titles. (h/t)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Shelfish Passion

On reading, book reviews, and David Mitchell: (BugMeNot)
Every reader had a first love, most likely in childhood: a book that we could not get enough of, and guarded selfishly for fear that someone else might come to think of it as their own; a book with which we identified completely; a book to which we probably would not want to return as adults for fear that it might not live up to our memories. Perhaps we were serial monogamists, who exhausted the entire work of one author only to move on to another the next month or year. Perhaps we were polygamists, who could not be satisfied by one book at a time, but had to have many all at once, from different genres and different time periods. But whatever our inclinations, over the years our capacity to love books becomes dulled by repeated frustration. Every time we pick up a book, we expect to fall in love; but after a certain number of disappointments, our expectation turns to mere hope; and eventually we give up even that.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Back again, back again

Thanks to everyone who offered exercise tips, cheese recommendations, and birthday wishes. I'm back in Clerksville and am about to curl up with either a shelfworthy book or Ghost Dog The Libertine.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Collecting unread books is dishonest?

PG brought this comment on promiscuous book acquisition to my attention:
People . . . where there is much social capital to be gained from being or seeming well-read, seem to covet the physical book more than the stuff in it (at least, this is my impression from reading lj's where people talk about acquiring books all the time (squee!), but almost never about their content). It just seems like a chic way to spend disposable income and to cultivate an undeservedly erudite reputation.
As someone who believes that the shelf reflects the self, I find this sort of indiscriminate book gathering deeply problematic. I, like some, like to keep close those books which have attained the status of old friends, but I am fundamentally introverted and dislike sharing my home with strangers, much less strangers who may reflect poorly upon me. And how to know the character of a book without reading it? Absent this knowledge, you are aware only of the physicality of the volumes, and this is the very opposite of erudition.

While in certain circumstances, people may be too busy or too isolated to borrow books before reading them, to keep a mediocre book one has bought indicates a certain acceptance of mediocrity. Similarly, one might purchase a book with the intention of reading it later, but at a certain point the timeline of future reading stretches out so far as to make it clear that some of these books will never be read and one becomes an Imelda Marcos of books, compulsively collecting (whether it be for the undeservedly erudite reputation that Rita notes or for the vanishingly tiny benefit of additional reading options).

We have all scoped out the shelves of a friend or date in some attempt to discern the character of the books' owner. But a shelf full of books that are unread and probably never will be read is a deceptive front. The party is hopping to all appearances, but the house is full of strangers; friends who should have pride of place and personal attention are lost in the throng. One's true nature is concealed, masked behind an explosion of aspiration and artifice. I'll keep my carefully chosen volumes any day.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Cheese I like

I recommend is Bleu des Causses, available from the Cowgirl Creamery. I usually don't like blues, but this is sweet, salty, and flavorful without being overwhelming. Mmm!

Friday, July 14, 2006

The New York Times is pathetic.

I have been getting hits from Unfortunately, I am not a TimesSelect subscriber and thus cannot see what the cloistered blog linked to.

Unrelatedly, I am going to Japan in September. I am also on a diet, with the goal of losing 15 pounds total and at least 10 before my trip. I would like to be able to buy clothes in Japan without having shopkeepers giggle at the giant white girl. Hints for making exercise tolerable, purchasing elliptical machines, or finding cool places to go in Japan are appreciated.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Is the baby as fake as Tom's being straight?

First there was the speculation about Tom Cruise's potential genetic disorder. Then there was the "birth" of Suri Cruise, complete with suspicious birth certificate. Apparently the only non-Scientologist to have seen the baby says she's "funny looking."

More raging internet gossip here: "Why does everyone assume Tom Cruise is gay?"

To sleep, perchance

Sleep is the new sex, some say. But others eagerly await the creation of drugs that will make several daily hours of sleep unnecessary and allow us to be more productive. I love sleeping (mostly because I enjoy dreaming immensely). If the pharmaceutical companies do develop mainstream medications to reduce the need for daily sleep, will sleepers be the new drug addicts, shunned and scorned for their selfishly wasted potential? At least one book addresses something like this division between the sleepless and the sleepers, but making sleep optional rather than inborn would produce different results than the author postulated.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

More on Supreme Court clerks

Tom Smith on the Supreme Court clerk gender gap and interview process:
I would call the selection process for Supreme Court clerks a little, ah, imperfect. At a minimum, an IQ test, it ain't. I finally decided to apply for a Sup Ct clerkship a year late; it turned out Justice White had an opening. I think he had eaten a clerk and so had a place to fill. I went in to interview, and it went something like this. JW: "I see a lot of philosophy on your resume. You don't really like philosophy, do you?" At this point, the intelligent thing to have said would have been, "oh no, I hate philosophy; what I really like is [football? rodeo? fly fishing? cow punching? in any event, some manly activity]" But the little demon that has accompanied me through my sometimes mildly disappointing but all things considered fabulous life whispered in my ear words to the effect of "tell the old coot to go f@#$ himself," and so I said something like, "yes I like philosophy, as you can see from my resume." I grant, this was an intelligence test of sorts, and one that I failed, and I have often regretted not repudiating my main intellectual passion at that stage of my life, the whole business of being true to yourself being rather overrated. But, if it was an IQ test, it was hardly an objective, scientific sort of test. It was just a test to see if I might really be a philistine and so qualified. In fact, I was not, and I would have been a medi[o]cre clerk, though I have heard those are hardly uncommon on the Court. So perhaps the question should be, how many of the smart Supreme Court clerks are men, and how many women? For all we know, the dumber clerks are all men.
Is part of the gap due to a bias against eggheads in favor of macho schmoozers?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Buffy like you've never seen her before?

Want to see the unaired Buffy pilot? It's got Ned Ryerson from Groundhog Day as Principal Flutie and Chubby!Willow.

In defense of the love match

Exhibit 1

Exhibit 2

How to be happy

I like how the second tip is "don't go to law school."

Monday, July 10, 2006

How to apply for a Supreme Court clerkship

One of my commenters noted that the application process for Supreme Court clerkships is remarkably opaque and that if you don't have someone to explain it to you it puts you at a disadvantage (does this disadvantage women who have less access to existing old-boy networks?). HLS helpfully outlines this process, but it puts the information behind password protection. Information, however, wants to be free, so I'm summarizing it for you below. Enjoy!

(If any of this information is out of date, please let me know and I will correct it.)

Applications for October Term N should be sent in March - June of N-1. Thomas hires much further in advance, so take this into account.

Apply to all nine justices even if you don't think you'd like to clerk for some of them.

Your package should include
  • a short cover letter containing the names of your recommenders, the contents of your packet, and the term you are applying for
  • a resume
  • a transcript
  • a writing sample consisting of a scholarly note, comment, or article
  • recommendations from professors, judges, or very famous practitioners
Send updates to your materials as needed.

To prep for an interview, read the justice's opinions, especially those from the recent term. Do not contact current clerks even if you know them.

Idiosyncracies of the justices:
  • Roberts: 2 recommendations (may have changed)
  • Stevens: short writing sample is optional. At least 2 recommendations from professors, at least 3 total.
  • Scalia: 3 recommendations. Note names of professors on your transcript.
  • Kennedy: two writing samples and 3-5 recommendations required.
  • Souter: 3-5 recommendations, including one from your circuit judge. Academic writing samples a must!
  • Thomas: at least 2 recommendations.
  • Ginsburg: at least 3 recommendations. Short writing sample plus a reprint of any academic publication you have.
  • Breyer: 3 recommendations, including one from your circuit judge. Short writing sample.
  • Alito: unknown!

And from the bad boyfriend files . . .

Guy and Girl are carjacked. Guy runs away with keys, leaving Girl with angry carjackers. Should Girl dump Guy?

How is this even a question?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

JMPP is a good girlfriend.

She takes a Harvard economics professor to task for his allegedly uninformed criticisms of her boyfriend's career. I have no opinion on the merits, but I appreciate the dynamic.

Again, not mine.

This week's best PostSecret is all in the presentation.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Speaking of clerks

Since Judge Kozinski doesn't follow the federal law clerk hiring plan, he may have already hired a clerk or two. Who will be clerking for this esteemed feeder judge? Are any of the new clerks female?

Weekend Cat Blog

Snape likes suitcases.

Snape does not like Kermit the Frog.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Idle query

Why don't we burn people in effigy any more? Would it be considered a threat to the individual whose likeness was burned? Do modern law codes prohibit such impromptu blazes in public spaces? As the flag-burning controversy highlights, nothing makes a statement like fire.

A question for Catholics

So this discussion of whether Catholic hospitals should be required to provide emergency contraception to rape victims is basically a giant trainwreck, but I am actually curious about what the theological objection is here. Plan B, the emergency contraceptive at issue, prevents ovulation and has not been shown to interfere with the implantation of a fertilized egg.

I am under the impression that the Catholic objection to contraception centered around the view that sex is appropriate only in the context of a marital relationship and should combine both love and openness to procreation. How does this work in a rape scenario? What objective is fulfilled by keeping a rape victim open to the possibility of procreation in the wake of a nonconsensual sex act?

I am not trying to be snarky. I actually want to know how the doctrine justifies this.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


I had an MRI today. It reminded me of the PeopleMover at Disney World, except evil.

Why so few female Supreme Court clerks?

Last week the Feminist Law Professors blog posted about the continuing decrease of female Supreme Court clerks. My data for next term show that only seven, or 20%, of the confirmed 2006-07 Elect are women. Why is this so? Some empirical observations and blue-sky theorizing:

  • There are fewer women at top schools. While the majority of law students nationwide are female, the schools most Supreme Court clerks come from are still mostly male.
  • There may be fewer women with top grades. At Harvard, the percentage of women who graduated magna cum laude was lower than the percentage of women in the class. Some might say this jibes with the results of I.Q. tests, which show more men in the tails of the distribution and women clustering toward the center.
  • Women may be less likely to be on law review. Again, at Harvard this was so (and the cause of perennial calls for affirmative action). Perhaps it is not so elsewhere, but a brief perusal of a couple of mastheads indicates that it may hold for other schools as well. Most Supreme Court clerks were law review members. And for schools that have students grade onto law reviews, the previous point may affect this one.
  • Women may be less likely to clerk. My judge reports that the percentage of female applicants for clerkships in his chambers varies between 33 and 20 percent. A well-regarded liberal judge on the same circuit reported nearly identical percentages. Since a circuit court clerkship is essentially required for a Supreme Court clerkship, if fewer women clerk at lower levels, then the pool for Supreme Court clerkships will be smaller. (As a side note, I do find it interesting that comparatively few women clerk. Is this because they want to cash in at the firm for as many pre-baby years as possible? Are women less likely to expect a spouse or lover to follow them to clerkships in remote parts of the United States than men are?)

Are any of these points empirically false? If they are, what do you think explains the gap? If they are substantiated by your experience, can you let me know? While the government collects data on clerkship hiring, for example, the experiences of clerks who are involved in the hiring process might shed more light (for instance, a judge might make offers to many women who take clerkships elsewhere, which would not show up in hiring stats).

UPDATE: A commenter at the Volokh Conspiracy tabulated the Justices' clerk hiring by gender for OT '00 through '06:
  • Justice Breyer: 13 men, 15 women
  • Justice Stevens: 16 men, 12 women
  • Justice Thomas: 16 men, 12 women
  • Justice Ginsburg: 16 men, 12 women
  • Justice O'Connor: 14 men, 10 women
  • Justice Souter: 18 men, 10 women
  • Chief Justice Rehnquist: 13 men, 5 women
  • Justice Kennedy: 25 men, 3 women
  • Justice Scalia: 26 men, 2 women
The Kennedy and Scalia disparities are huge. If Justice Thomas can find conservative women to hire, why can't Scalia?

UPDATE II: Upon perusing this list of all the Supreme Court clerks ever, it looks like the Scalia/Kennedy gap is a function of school-based hiring practices; Thomas, Rehnquist, and O'Connor were more likely to hire clerks from schools outside the top six. The documented paucity of MCL/law review women at such elite institutions may explain the gender gap in the Scalia and Kennedy chambers.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

From the files of the Dep't. of Dropped Jaws

Harvard professor Harvey Mansfield on women's ability to refuse sexual advances:
The moral authority of women is a heavy counterweight to the physical superiority of men. With that authority, women have a right to say no to any proposal or proposition from a (generally stronger) man that does not suit them, and be obeyed. But men's willingness to obey depends on women's being held to a higher standard of morality, especially sexual morality, than men. If a woman cannot say, “How dare you!” to a man, her defenses are sapped because without a moral objection she has only her whim to rely on. In response, a man will think and will say, “Why not? We are equal and so my desire is equal to yours.”
Apparently a woman's sovereignty over her own body is not a moral claim.

Teen Drinking

The drinking age in other countries is typically lower than it is in the U.S. Does this mean we're smarter? Or does the artificially high drinking age lead to more drunkenness and less moderate consumption by teens?

Holiday Bake Con't: Blueberry Muffins

2 cups + 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup + 1 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp softened unsalted butter
2 large eggs
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt (I used full-fat; try lowfat)
2 cups blueberries
Combine dry ingredients (less 1/4 cup sugar & 1 tbsp flour) in a medium bowl. Mix butter and the other 1/4 cup sugar 3-5 minutes on medium-high until fluffy. Add eggs, beating well after each, and lemon juice and vanilla. Turn mixer to low and alternate adding 1/2 cups of yogurt and 1/3 of dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Dust berries with tbsp of flour and fold into batter. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

This recipe is from The Best Light Recipe. It would have been lighter if I'd had lowfat plain yogurt. You can also add the zest of one lemon for more lemony flavor, but I was too lazy to grate the lemon peel. If you have a real muffin pan, this makes 12 large muffins. I had cupcake cups, so my muffins are small and oddly shaped.

(Side note: Reynolds foil cupcake cups are the best deal around. Not only do the foil cups peel more easily from the muffin for less waste, they are separated in the packaging by "paper liners" which you are told to discard. These are just paper cupcake cups and can be used in a conventional cupcake pan.)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Holiday Bake: Red Velvet Cake

This is a Cake Man Raven red velvet cake with raspberry and blueberry accents: tasty and patriotic.

They paved paradise/And put up a parking lot

I miss my dad at this time of year. One of our only traditions was buying fireworks from a toothless, sweating man in one of the ubiquitous roadside stands, taking them to open fields near my house (which have been subsequently turned into parking for a strip mall and McMansions), and blowing things up.

I also miss D.C. It's the first time since 2002 that I won't see the fireworks from the Mall.

Happy Fourth. Blow something up for me.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Born Agains Give You Cancer?

I've been following the blogosphere discussion on the HPV vaccine. Some parents don't want to shell out $360 for a vaccine because they are totally certain that their daughters will abstain. Setting aside the whole "raped? have some cancer with that!" problem this situation poses and the fact that even proponents of abstinence education admit that the programs are less effective at reducing sexual activity by boys (making good Christian lads a possible vector even if they got the same lectures as your little Grace): what about converts?

I'll venture to say that a lot of the religious people who object to the vaccinations are also evangelical, or at least belong to denominations that are welcoming of converts. So are wild boys who have some fun but then see the light and get born again eligible to wed the young women in their church? And if they are, and the women, virginal on their wedding nights, are infected with a cancer-causing strain of HPV, who's to blame?

Move over, Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe.

This woman has the lawyerly equivalent of a porn star name. (h/t)

Sunday, July 02, 2006

$27 Mistake

I never feel like I exfoliate enough and my aesthetician recommended this stuff from Clarins. Unfortunately, it makes me break out like a tenth grader. Any recs for a replacement? I currently scrub with a rough washcloth and Cetaphil, but that doesn't deep clean or remove dead skin cells.

Saturday, July 01, 2006


I haven't been following fandom in a big way since 2001, but I still spent about an hour poring over this trainwreck of an article about sockpuppetry and Harry Potter. I explained what I had been reading to Steve on the way to dinner. His response:

"So what did she get out of all of this?"
"She got to be Cassie Claire's roommate at Nimbus 2003."
" . . . so what did she get out of all of this?"

Relatedly, MIT media studies scholar Henry Jenkins has a blog. Here's his theory on why Firefly should have gone direct to video instead of to the big screen.

In other news, I am rewatching Buffy. I also rented the first couple of discs of The Wire, but I am not thrilled with the first episode.