Friday, December 31, 2004

More lists

Carcassonne games played: 15
Current score: 9-6, advantage Baude (a recent development, I must note).
Cakes baked: 1
Layers: 2
Briskets eaten: 1
Dogs petted: 1
Alcoholic beverages consumed in Indiana: 7
Number of alcoholic beverages consumed in the last three months: 9
Percentage of Amber filled with celestial harmony: 100

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

According to the Kinsey Report . . .

My visit to the Whoredom State has yielded unique opportunities to sample local culture and history, such as seeing the Kinsey biopic and then driving past Kinsey's house. (The film is rather good; Neeson embodies the conflicted scientist driven to examine and catalog everything, even his own passions, and Linney does a fine job of evoking the ambiguities of their relationship. I will leave the Sarsgaard appreciation to others, though.)

Sunday, December 26, 2004

It's about time for my departure

After a long day of fighting with my grandmother's pokey dial-up to monitor the earthquake/tidal wave disaster in Southeast Asia, I am about ready to throw all my things in a sack and head out. Tomorrow I leave the sultry 60 degree weather of Texas (the snow didn't last, alas) for more wintry climes. To sum up my visit:

Tex-Mex meals eaten: 2
Pages of 3L paper written: 0
Dentist appointments: 1
Japanese horror videos watched: 2
Nightmares from said videos: 1
Close encounters with a vicious cockatiel: too many
Dinner table conversations including casual references to participation in illegal residential segregation practices: 1
Percentage of Celestial Harmonies read: 50
Percentage of Amber that is filled with celestial harmony: 0

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Anonymous Lawyer Unmasked

All around champion bastard Anonymous Lawyer is revealed to be my classmate, Jeremy Blachman. But while the article discusses Jeremy's solo blog, it fails to mention Jeremy's other web presences. Fie!

"Where are you from? No, originally."

Happy Holidays, everyone. Should you be in need of some thinking materials on this festive day, I recommend this discussion thread on ways of coping with questions about ethnicity or race. It gets a little impassioned, but as someone who has never had to deal with any such inquiries (ah, the benefits of being a generic Caucasian), it's a fascinating window into a different kind of experience.

Friday, December 24, 2004

'tis the season to be sniffly

I am allergic to Texas.

As a kid, I always had bad allergies. When I moved to California for college, they were still bad for a while (especially in the spring, when so much pollen drifted around that the sidewalks on Sixth Street were pale green). Eventually, though, they calmed down. In Boston they don't bother me at all. But as soon as I come back, my nose stuffs up. It's like clockwork. I suppose it could be worse - I could break out in hives every time I come back here.

My visit to Indiana would have been even more sniffle-inducing than my visit home, but my charming boyfriend's thoughtful mother has elected to take down their Christmas tree before I arrive so the wheeze-inducing evergreen will not ruin my time there. Yay.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Cold Shoulders?

I'm back in Texas. I have some shopping to do, a dentist appointment, and visits to pay. My family is blaming me for bringing the "cold" weather with me. The low here might be in the 20s. Earlier this week, it was negative one degrees in Cambridge. I scoff at their definition of cold.

Regarding the 52 Hertz whale, I would like to point out that there are a variety of distinct characterizations that could be made that do not involve loneliness. Some of them are unflattering and others are not. Of course, it's also possible that all the other whales are the jerks here:

"Hey, hear that? It's Murphy again! Swim away, swim away!" *pod silently slips out of sight as the pariah whale approaches*

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

And, on a happier note . . .

End of year releases I am excited about:

The Life Aquatic: Wes Anderson. Bill Murray. Sharks. Could it get any better? (Well, maybe if Ramis and Murray would make up. While I strongly feel that Anderson has been the Tarantino to Murray's Travolta, just because some hot shot youngster reinvigorated your career doesn't mean you should turn your back on old friends.)

A Very Long Engagement: Audrey Tautou, limping around and looking pretty, trying to find her one true love. Because I am in the mood for love stories. P.S. I want a copy of the French poster!

Darkness: probably crap, but the trailer scares me, so I'll give it a chance.

Bad Education
: Talk to Her was really creepy in its treatment of women, although I enjoyed watching it at the time. There are no female leads in this movie. There are, however, transvestites.

. . . but it could be worse.

How on earth did Kirsten Dunst go from this to this? The girl ain't looking so hot these days.

I hate everything.

It's been a pretty terrible day so far.

Admin Law exam: didn't get to throw in my policy arguments before time was up, but also probably didn't cover all of the actual law. And for a treat, I get to take Fed Courts from the same prof and have another tortuous exam next spring!

Journal: last minute typo changes? You got it. And guess who gets to pay to FedEx the thing to the printer because the journal office staff is gone?

Wills and Trusts: after rampaging all over campus looking for my instructor's assistant's new office, I threw my paltry ten page packet into a box on top of a bunch of people with fifty page tabbed folders. Maybe Dana is just a low maintenance decedent. Or maybe I suck.

Did I mention that I have to catch a plane to Texas tomorrow? That I still haven't bought presents for people? That I spent the last half hour kicking things and scaring secretaries by swearing at elevators? Because those are all true.

Monday, December 20, 2004


I haven't read either of these books (word is that The Da Vinci Code is nothing special), but something struck me as very wrong with the claim here. Perhaps New Zealand copyright law is dramatically different from ours, but in America you couldn't find infringement just because someone used your factual research as material for a fictional work (see Nash v. CBS, Inc., 899 F.2d 1537 (7th Cir. 1990)).

There might be a right of publicity claim for the use of the names and likenesses of the authors, but that's extremely tenuous. These snobbish profs should get over themselves and realize that the associate of their work with Brown's novel will doubtlessly increase their royalties, just as Brown's mention of various historical sites has increased tourism to previously unpopular areas.


I like it when professors try to show how hip they are by including pop culture references in their exams. It's cute, especially when they get the terminology right. What irks me is when professors make the exam question revolve around whatever pressing policy issue they plan to write their next book about. As if spending half the term discussing their latest hobby horse isn't enough - they have to make sure and squeeze you for one last drop. I suppose research assistants can't have all the good ideas.

I'm the only one?

Is it just me, or does anyone else silently scream "Poooon!" when they read the title of Toby Stern's blog? Something along the lines of this? All right, it is just me. Fine.

UPDATE: there's a t-shirt!

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Rapunzel, Rapunzel

The Wills & Trusts test got the smackdown this afternoon, so now I am down to polishing my project for that class and cramming for Admin. Yay.

Random: is there such a thing as a teach yourself to french braid board? Because I certainly could have used that in high school, when I was in JROTC and had hair down to my waist. Instead I had to have my mother french braid it for me once a week at 5:45 in the morning. She would fasten the rolled up braid to my head by driving bobby pins into my skull and wiggling them around in my gray matter until they were certain to not fall out.

A blog of one's own

Why women don't blog: because people say things like "why don't hot chicks blog?"

Seriously, I don't want to be all humorless-feminist about this, but there are plenty of good reasons for women to not have an obvious public presence on the internet. This Crooked Timber discussion has some good points about why it seems like there are fewer female bloggers, expecially academic types.

Many people think I'm nuts to have a blog, especially under my real name. It's possible that it's hurt me in the competition for jobs, and I'm okay with that, but it's a lot harder to get an academic job than a lawyering one, and people hunting for those rare tenure track positions are understandably risk averse. Couple that with the (unfortunate but still strong) subconscious tendency to categorize opinionated, argumentative men as assertive and women with the same traits as bitchy, and you end up with a tidy incentive not to blog, or at least not under your own name. Why engage in an activity that could get you branded as "uncollegial?"

Then there's the attention. Women online still get a lot of attention from strange men, expecially if we write about something slightly risque. Many women aren't comfortable with getting come-on emails and compliments/speculations about their appearance from random men. This will happen even if you post anonymously, if your handle is recognizably female. This sort of interaction could drive women to assert their online identities in safe, female dominated spaces like Livejournal, iVillage, or feminist blogrings instead of what most people reading this will think of as the blogosphere.

To be a female blogger in the war/politics blogosphere, you need a thick skin with regard to criticism and sexism. Not all women are willing to put up with the incivility that sometimes dominates blog discourse. So we create our own corners of the blogosphere, our own friends-only sites, our own communities. Saying there aren't enough female bloggers is easy. Finding them, and finding out why you didn't see them before, is more of a personal challenge.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Egon was always my favorite Ghostbuster

Several months ago, the New Yorker published a very enjoyable profile of Harold Ramis, the writer and director who brought us Animal House, Caddyshack, and Groundhog Day. An excerpt:
He completes the Sunday Times crossword in twenty minutes and beats the computer at Scrabble; is a skilled fencer and ritual drummer (his living room is filled with djembes, dunduns, congas, and tomtoms); plays a set of eight songs a day on his acoustic guitar; can tie a monkey-fist knot; speaks Greek to the owners of his local coffee shop; taught himself to ski by watching skiers on TV; makes his own hats out of felted fleece; and is prepared, and even eager, should the occasion arise, to perform an emergency tracheotomy.
And he's from Chicago!


Okay, so I abso-freaking-lutely must go to campus today and print out my Wills & Trusts notes. I get nothing done in this apartment.

Weekend fun: a psychiatric evaluation of Gollum. It's not quite the med student equivalent of this, but it's amusing.

Friday, December 17, 2004

The cattiness continues as my academic implosion draws closer

The Admin outline is complete. Unfortunately, Wills and Trusts must again take a back seat as I run over to the journal office to pick up the proofs I must read tonight. Hope I can stay awake for that.

I only have so many brain cells, HLS or no, so I here's another deliciously shallow post.

Check this out.

How much is wrong with this woman? Her legs are purple, she has a chest like a Ken doll, and her shoulders have more bones sticking out of them than I knew humans had in that area. At least Mrs. Federline eats.

Dogs are weapons of mass destruction

I am not going to be online for the rest of the day, as I will be finishing my Admin outline and cramming for my Wills and Trusts test.

But in response to this query about pro-war novels: John Holbo is right to highlight Watership Down as a pro-war book.

It's clear that war is sometimes necessary in Adams's lapine world, although whether we should extrapolate those values to our own world is a separate matter. One could impose some tortured analogy about current events onto the narrative, with Cowslip's warren as modern Europe and Efrafa as Iraq. But I encourage you to read it simply as a tale of adventure, bravery, and the triumph of free rabbits over both man's meddling and the tyranny of fear imposed by a reactionary Woundwort.


My Managing Editor emailed to mention that he has been reading this blog again, which reminded me of the last blog related conversation we had: a heated debate about Britney Spears. (Why yes, I *am* working on my Admin outline. Some.)

I present for your viewing displeasure: the divine Mrs. Federline.

You're a little old for the lollypop schtick, Britney.

She keeps a chihuahua in her cleavage. Who does she think she is, Tori Amos? (potentially not work safe)

Meanwhile, C. Aguilera is still with the same guy she's been dating since before her "Dirrty" phase, and, while she has as many fashion misses as hits, is still pretty foxy.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Short gals need tall shoes

The Manolo, he is making me want the Annabelle shoes by C. Ronson. So tall, so white . . . I hope the leather is soft. And in only five months I could actually wear them outside!

News from my alma mater

Hat tip to Mike Hubbard:

Kerri Dunn, hate crime faker, is sentenced to one year in prison!

Bill Ascher, Dean of Faculty during the Dunn scandal and one of President Gann's imports from Duke, is replaced by an old-school CMC type.

Could the long night for CMC be over? Are we going to return to our roots? Time will tell. If Gann leaves, the champagne comes out.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

One down

Copyright done. This evening has been dedicated to debating political terminology, Cordelia's Honor, and Swedish Fish.

P.S. The book is good, but the picture of Cordelia on the cover art looks like Mrs. Claus as a pirate queen.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

John Fogerty can bite me.

The problem with studying Copyright is you get the songs on which the cases are based stuck in your head. The reason I bring this up? I have had "Run Through the Jungle" stuck in my brain for at least a day. Damn John Fogerty and his stupid lawsuit.

Celebrating Arrival at an Arbitrary Way Station

Six months ago, I met Will Baude at a Turkish restaurant in Washington, D.C.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Having a Coke with you

is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, IrĂșn, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne
or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona
partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier St. Sebastian
partly because of my love for you, partly because of your love for yoghurt
partly because of the fluoresent orange tulips around the birches
partly because of the secrecy our smiles take on before people and statuary
it is hard to believe when I'm with you that there can be anything as still
as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary when right in front of it
in the warm New York 4 o'clock light we are drifting back and forth
between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles

and the portrait show seems to have no faces in it at all, just paint
you suddenly wonder why in the world anyone ever did them
                                                                                                    I look
at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world
except possibly for the Polish Rider occasionally and anyway it's in the Frick
which thank heavens you haven't gone to yet so we can go together the first time
and the fact that you move so beautifully more or less takes care of Futurism
just as at home I never think of the Nude Descending a Staircase or
at a rehearsal a single drawing of Leonardo or Michelangelo that used to wow me
and what good does all the research of the Impressionists do them
when they never got the right person to stand near the tree when the sun sank
or for that matter Marino Marini when he didn't pick the rider as carefully
as the horse
                            it seems they were all cheated of some marvellous experience
which is not going to go wasted on me which is why I am telling you about it

-Frank O'Hara

(I hadn't posted a poem in a while.)

Are we to be schooled?

Beautiful Idiot responds to those in the blogosphere who did not subscribe to his law & economics is "the fucking Matrix" theory (this group appears to consist of Greg Goelzhauser, me, and some of my commenters):
get off your high horses, Economists. Let the rest of us teach YOU something about reality. LEt the psychologists, and ethicists, and poets, and laborers, and mothers, and spiritualists teach you something about what Justice and Law is and should be.
I look forward to being reeducated so as to remedy the deficits my status as an atheistic nulliparous female with an economics degree has imposed on my capacity to comprehend justice and law.

Xmas List

I want this shirt. It appeals to my inner icy princess nerd.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Seen and Heard

On campus last week, upon finding a flyer in his student mailbox advertising a similar event to be held at HLS:
"How does holding a candle stop genocide?"
I almost laughed; the guy sounded genuinely puzzled.

Super Freak Out!

The exam stress is really starting to get to me. Tiffany and I went out for sushi yesterday and she revealed that she has zero exams this semester. None. So jealous!

Copyright exam Wednesday, Admin the following Monday, and my Wills & Trusts project and online exam have to be complete before I leave town on the 22nd. Not as bad as it could be. The only potential problem with my in-class exams (which I love because I always do better on them than on take-homes) is that my typing seems to have gone down the toilet completely. I seem to have shaken the habit I picked up 1L year of throwing an extra e in govern(e)ment, but now I can't spell constitution (I had to fix that twice). I better have enough time to run spell check aftre my exams.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Study Break

I have mostly given up on the idea of making my own Copyright outline/reading notes and have defaulted to my usual lazy read-a-hornbook, read-the-highlighted-portions-from my casebook, other-people's-outlines method. Alas for the death of ambition.

After a long day of hornbook reading, nothing takes your mind off exams like a movie documenting freakshow specimens of humanity who are all in worse situations and more pathetic than you. Todd Solondz is an evil genius. I haven't been this impressed and disturbed since I saw In the Company of Men.

More reading, whee.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Chris Weitz, Destroyer of Worlds

Via Will Baude: Maureen Craig is right that the transformation of the Church Authority to a secular totalitarianism guts His Dark Materials. The Amber Spyglass, which centers around the battle against the forces of the Authority, would be butchered. But could Northern Lights/The Golden Compass even retain its meaning?

As the story stands, the villains are evil but well-meaning; they genuinely think that purging children of original sin by spiritually lobotomizing them is in the children's best interests. If the religious motivation for severing is obliterated, what is left? Generic sadism? What made the story so frightening and powerful was the combination of the cool medical professionalism and religious zealotry that was wielded against the children for their own good. I am racking my brain for an equally powerful motivation that could spur the people in Pullman's world to cut themselves off from a fundamental part of their own personalities and coming up with nothing. Their desire for spiritual purity even at the highest cost explains the villains and humanizes them, while at the same time chills the reader to the core. Reducing their motive to mere cruelty undermines the story's ability to disturb and thus its power. No number of armored bear duels will make up for that.

(Updated to add a link to Crescat, which of course was my source for the link to Maureen's post.)

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Freak on the T

There was this weird guy sitting next to me on the T this afternoon. I was staring at the ground and notice a pair of canvas shoes next to me that are so patchy with filth that I honestly thought they were sewn together out of scraps. I look at the guy attached to the shoes. Shapeless blue sweatshirt, pasty skin, Unabomber eyes - hell, Unabomber beard. Youngish, wearing a backpack. He's got a camera in his hands, sort of casually in his lap. The camera lens is mammoth: about 3 inches wide and 4 inches long. It's covered with bits of brown packing tape.

There is an old guy with neatly parted white hair (you could see the comb tracks) and a bow tie across from Young Kaczynski, reading the New Yorker. Somewhere around MGH, YK takes a picture. He doesn't hold up the camera or use the viewfinder, but just depresses the shutter with it in his lap.

I start to wonder if he has some reason for taking pictures of the old guy. I think of one of the international relations profs at CMC who used to ride a bike to school in the 1980s because of the KGB. I think this is nuts. YK takes the full roll of film out of the camera, labels it, and puts it in a vial. He reloads and puts the camera back in his lap.

We go another stop and this time, as we are pulling in, YK lifts the camera six inches off his lap and takes another picture, this time off to the old guy's right.

This is freaking me out. I don't care if he's thinks he's a spy or is stalking the old guy or what. If he takes another picture I am getting the conductor. But he doesn't. And I get off. And the train leaves, with YK still on board.

(I asked a random staff member if you are allowed to take pictures on the train. She says not.)

Out of the loop

HLS faculty hiring grapevine: who is the Crimson talking about here?
Last year, the school did not announce any new entry-level hires. One scholar accepted an assistant professor post at Harvard but is deferring the job until he finishes a Supreme Court clerkship.

Brown paper packages tied up with string

(which you can't send via USPS anymore, by the way)

Tyler Cowen links to an old post of his that claims that the best gifts are experiences, such as concerts and travel, not objects like clothes or jewelry.

I won't argue that I recall what I did on my trips to Turkey and Eastern Europe better than I recall the exact items received last Christmas, but I think it sells short the impact of a well selected item.

Clothing and jewelry can be experiences. If chosen with care and respect for the recipient's tastes and interests. Every time you wear a certain well-selected sweater or necklace, it can make you think of the person who gave it to you and to recall other circumstances in which you used the item. Giving someone a well-chosen gift means providing them with something to infuse with memories.

Things I Hate

-The plumbing in my apartment
-Stale ice cream sandwiches
-Hoity-toity HLS professors who list their school email account on their faculty page but never, I mean never, check it. Who don't even have their assistants check it for them. Who tell students they already know that they never check that address, but here's the secret real email address they can use. Who leave students who don't already know them, but who are trying to ask a simple freaking question, out in the cold.
-My lack of free time to do anything that I'd like, such as watch Croupier or read Celestial Harmonies, combined with my ability to waste a cumulative amount of time in five minute increments through the day so I could have done either by now.
-Classes in which I am so lost that I can't even tell which of the hornbooks would be the most useful.
-Flyers that taunt me with clinical programs which don't fit into my schedule
-Shampoo priced at $6
-My mousy hair, super shine shampoo notwithstanding
-Nighttime at 5pm

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Mmm, fortified.

Outlining continues apace, as does my Wills and Trusts project.

I just took a quick break to scarf down the dinner of champions (I don't need any silly overpriced restaurant to make it for me!), but now it's back to the grind.

Gays in the Military: Reading the Policies

I was reviewing the exact policies at work in Don't Ask, Don't Tell and thought some other people might also find this interesting. Emphasis and comments mine.
A member of the armed forces can be kicked out if one or more of the following findings is made:

(1) That the member has engaged in, attempted to engage in, or solicited another to engage in a homosexual act or acts unless there are further findings . . . that

(A) such conduct is a departure from the member’s usual and customary behavior;
(B) such conduct, under all the circumstances, is unlikely to recur;
(C) such conduct was not accomplished by use of force, coercion, or intimidation;
(D) under the particular circumstances of the case, the member’s continued presence in the armed forces is consistent with the interests of the armed forces in proper discipline, good order, and morale; and
(E) the member does not have a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts. [Note the differentiation between intent and propensity. Celibate gays are not welcome.]

(2) That the member has stated that he or she is a homosexual or bisexual, or words to that effect, unless there is a further finding . . . that the member has demonstrated that he or she is not a person who engages in, attempts to engage in, has a propensity to engage in, or intends to engage in homosexual acts.

(3) That the member has married or attempted to marry a person known to be of the same biological sex. [Marry a transsexual, get booted from the Army? I'm having Hedwig flashbacks.]
The actual Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy is here. In relevant part:
No DCIO or other conduct DOD law enforcement organization shall an investigation solely to determine a Service member's sexual orientation.

The Ethos of the Economic

So my Copyright outline? Not going well. And I forgot to go to the last session of one of my classes today. The instructor had us fill out course evaluations last week, so I had mentally checked off that class as over. I do have to meet with him on Thursday to discuss my project. Hope that goes okay.

This fellow has an interesting take on the HLS experience:
so much of this is so joyless, so soulless, the opposite of spiritual.
especially law and economics. and that is why it helps me remember who i am. i insctinctively recoil from it because to me it is the fucking matrix. it is kryptonite to my spiritual core, which is actually, the ethos of the Romantic.
This hurts my Posnerian core!

He is right, though, that Civ Pro is insanely hard. Three words: Arthur. Miller. Transcripts.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

The Ultimate Fast Food

Pejman Yousefzadeh was not impressed by his visit to Popeyes Chicken. I can say little about the relative merits of this Harold's establishment, but it is clearly inferior in one important respect: availability! For those of us who do not live in Chicago, it is the spicy Cajun goodness of Popeyes or the abominations proffered by the Colonel. There is no contest there.

My own personal fast food lunch happened by accident. Eating the crepes hot as they come out of the pan and while the next one cooks is so much better than accumulating a big stack and then eating them cold.

Random roundup IV

- A comprehensive pika webpage can be found here.

-I want a dog. Maybe not a dog like Miss Doxie's, though. They are a bit too rowdy for me.

-If we had played this version of Monopoly on Saturday night, I surely would have been inspired to win.

-Phoebe Maltz calls my attention to this David Brooks column. She does an excellent job of rebutting his assertions, but I will address this one line:
People who have enough kids for a basketball team are too busy to fight a culture war.
Perhaps David Brooks should meet the Duggars; they have fifteen kids and the father is a state legislator fighting the culture war. I also would bet money that the constant culture war crusades to ban books with gay characters or put warning stickers on biology books that teach evolution are the product of just those red state parents Brooks thinks are too busy loving to be fighters.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Amusement Break

This post at Neo Tokyo Times made me laugh:
I’ve been looking over my schedule for the next two weeks, and it looks really really awful. When this thing is through, the only things faster than my car better be the women I date. I better wear suits so sharp they cut people.
And this is funny, too.

Back to work.

UPDATE: Must . . . write . . . will for friend! I will make up for procrastinating by sharing this with you (movie buffs take note).

Adulthood, Part II

Dan Moore has a long rejoinder on his own blog about the contours of adulthood. I'll set aside the Portman specific components and move directly toward the more interesting and relevant discussion about adulthood generally. (But one last gasp: Queen Amidala isn't an adult in Episode II? She has immense responsibility and a very demanding job as a Senator. Just because elected representatives sometimes act like babies doesn't mean they aren't adults. but onward!)
I did not intend to say that no college-aged people are adults, just that they typically do not have general characteristics of being an adult. Some who are not in college may. Some who are in college may. Though they are not children and they are something more developed than teenagers, it's hard to make an argument though that as a class of people, college-aged students are adults.
What are those students who don’t make the cut? Britney Spears notwithstanding, we don’t have a cultural category of “not a girl, not yet a woman.” We can either place people in the adult box and expect adult behavior from them, or we can refuse to do so and thus implicitly say that they don’t have to live up to much more than an adolescent level of responsibility.
I do intend to state that people without responsibilities are not adults or are mature. Perhaps the letter of the law states differently (and it must, I would hate it if a governmental agency determined whether or not I have enough responsibility to be an adult), but we can look at other aspects if we want to decide whether or not an actual person is (or behaves as) an adult.
Generally you are an adult for purposes of making contracts (incurring responsibilities) at age eighteen. There are some exceptions, such as the drinking age, but for better or worse we consider those over 17 to be adults. Judicial or prosecutorial discretion determines whether minors may be tried as adults for their crimes – they are being held responsible for their actions in the most serious of ways.

But Moore seems to be more interested in a subjective case-by-case analysis for determining adulthood than a bright-line rule. In legal circles this would be a multi-factorial balancing test, probably stemming from an O’Connor opinion. But I digress again . . .
Amber seems to lament that I can't "really tell us who is an adult, and [I] can't even tell us who isn't." Amber seems to think that there can be a statement made such as "If you have X as a quality, then you are an adult" and laments that I haven't provided this (or provided any clue as to where one can be found). I don't desire to.
I was lamenting the absence of any clear analysis whatsoever.
I reject that there may be some exclusive set of criteria that can tell us exactly whether or not someone is, morally, an adult or even that someone always is morally an adult. However, there are lightposts by which we can guide ourselves to see if someone is behaving as an adult or not. And one of these lightposts is the presence of responsibility in the person's life (both for others and for one's own actions). A job, self-sufficiency, a family. These are all characteristics that one might see in an adult (as they hint towards responsibility), but none of them is necessary or sufficient to determining adulthood.
Moore previously said that responsibility is a necessary condition to adulthood. Moore may be willing to find proof of responsibility in a variety of ways, but he’s still injecting subjectivity by reserving the right to revoke adulthood from anyone who doesn’t bear a great enough weight on their shoulders. I used “1950s markers of maturity” because it seemed that Moore’s method of defining maturity would neatly include all the moms and dads in Levittown but not those with more unconventional lives. My hypothetical single disabled man is still waiting to hear if he’s an adult or not. And is Princess Sayako only now growing up? I still think that Moore’s definition of adulthood infantilizes childless singletons, students, and those who don’t buy into an atomized idea of independence from extended family.
This is not extending adolescence. It's recognizing that we live in a world now where many are not forced to reach maturity until a much later stage.
But we don’t have the sociological categories to recognize this phenomenon. What would be better: holding those over eighteen to adult standards of maturity in behavior, or letting them think that they can continue to be “young and irresponsible” long into their twenties or even their thirties? This scheme makes it exceedingly difficult for people to develop habits of maturity, and it does not adequately distinguish between true adolescents (who lack the psychological/emotional maturity to commit themselves to certain obligations) and twentysomethings (who may not have chosen to take on the traditional markers of independence, but who have the capacity to do so).

But maybe I’m just not sure what Moore means by maturity. Serious demeanor? Being locked into certain fundamental life paths by making essentially irrevocable choices? A certain degree of personal inertia? Would Moore agree that adult opinions are taken more seriously than those of non-adults? If so, can he still argue that defining someone as a non-adult doesn’t devalue their accomplishments? If someone is over eighteen and not an adult, what is she? And how can she escape this limbo? Saying “I know it when I see it” is a deeply unsatisfactory method of determining whether or not someone is to be deemed part of the adult (and thus the ruling) class.

We're all grownups here.

The discussion on Natalie Portman's role in Garden State has spun off into a debate about what makes someone an adult. Daniel Moore seems to make the following contentions:

-College-aged people are not adults, even if they are not in college. Neither are most grad students.
-People with a youthful appearance are considered non-adult unless something distinguishes them as particularly mature (a career as a stripper would appear to apply).
-People without responsibilities are not adults. It's not clear what this means; having a job is evidently not sufficient. Having children might qualify, but not always (teen mothers like the lead in Where the Heart Is are probably not adults). Living on your own doesn't cut it, either; many grad students do that. I guess an obligation to repay tens of thousands of dollars of educational debt doesn't count as responsibility.

This pile of mush doesn't really tell us who is an adult, and it can't even tell us who isn't. Are the four leads on Sex & the City adults? Was my school friend Richelle an adult at 17 (she was a gainfully employed divorcee with a baby)? Is a disabled person ever an adult if he lives on Social Security?

This refusal to cease extending adolescence is troubling. To say that Mr. Moore and I are not adults somehow demeans the accomplishments we make now and needlessly blurs the line between mature individuals and immature teens. Infantilizing vast swaths of the voting public needlessly trivializes their experiences. Surely there's some middle ground between adult=biologically mature and adult=person who has the 1950s markers of maturity.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

My mind is full of holes.

I was chatting today about book lists. I have mentioned before that I dislike buying non-shelfworthy books. This means I use the hell out of whatever library is available. (Alas for the impending end of my institutional library privileges! I have a feeling the local public library of my future residence is less well-stocked than what I am used to.) Returning the library books, however, means they pass out of my life quickly and only leave whatever random scraps catch in my unreliable memory. This makes things especially difficult when I attempt to reflect back and try to make some arbitrary classification, like the best book I have ever read. I have read a lot of great books, but sometimes I forget that I have read them until someone else mentions how fabulous they are.

Some people solve this problem by making book lists or buying all the books they read. Either method gives you a constant reminder of what books you've brought into your life, and the latter makes it easy to be reminded of the pleasures of an old friend. At present I have a mental mishmash that could be compared to a disorganized photo album full of unlabeled pictures of places I've been. A lot of the SF/fantasy has bled together - the literary equivalent of not being able to remember whether that cathedral was in Florence or Pisa.

All of this is a rambling prologue to my own book list. It includes all the books I could think of, off the top of my head, that I've read since starting college. If there's something that you just can't believe isn't on there, leave a comment mocking how poorly read I am. It might be that I have read your book, in which case I will add it to the list. If not, you get to make me admit that I'm an ignoramus.

UPDATE: I have realized that this isn't a list of books I have read since college; I did take courses in which I had to read dozens of books, and I intentionally omitted them from this list. Perhaps this is more a list of pleasure reading, or books I am glad to have chosen to read. Its comprehensiveness has been sacrificed for subjectivity.

Defending Leon (and Natalie Portman)

I spent the entire weekend with my wonderful boyfriend, but now that he's on his way back to Yalie-ville I can weigh in on the Natalie Portman: threat or menace? debate (see here, here, and here).

Jonathan Last's article seems to think that Natalie Portman's role in the gripping film Leon was the impetus for some current pedophilic trend in our culture. A few nitpicks:

-Last takes issue with Portman's wardrobe in Leon: leggings and black velvet chokers are apparently the realm of hookers. I am only one year older than Portman, and in 1993-1994 I was wearing leggings and chokers, too. That was the fashion, in the same way that low rise pants and off the shoulder tops have recently been in style. Portman was dressed in a manner that reflected clothing trends of the time.

-Leon and Matilda do not, in my recollection, have sex. Surely that counts for something. Leon is simultaneously aroused and made uncomfortable by Matilda's sexual advances, but he is, as Matthew Yglesias points out, no moral exemplar, and Leon is depicted as relatively poorly socialized generally.

-Apparently the degree to which the film sexualized Portman was unexpected; her family was shocked by audience reactions to the role and she turned down the role of Lolita in Adrian Lyne's remake as a consequence.

-Is the blurring of the line between desire for pre-pubescent children and teens really something we want to perpetuate? For better or worse, the modern ideal of female beauty closely resembles the physique of a teen girl. Natalie Portman has not undergone a huge transformation in the last ten years. She is still thin and small breasted. How does this affect our analysis of the sexualization of teens? Is Ms. Portman to be guilty of contributing to this social evil until she develops crow's feet and and a giant matronly bottom?

-Closer is not Portman's first adult role. She plays an adult woman in Garden State. Perhaps Last meant "adult" in the same sense as do proprietors of adult videos - her character in Closer is a stripper. But somehow I think it's more accurate to attribute his choice of words to cherry-picking her past roles to shore up his own shaky argument.

Now I must review some journal proofs and read trademark law. In the course of my weekend wanderings, I picked up a copy of Celestial Harmonies at a used book store, but am not sure when I will have enough time to read it. Third year paper, I hate your looming presence.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Taking a break

Like David Bernstein, I am taking a break from blogging, although only for the next day or two. Unfortunately, I don't have a book I can ask you to buy in order to get your daily dose of Bamber goodness, so just content yourself with my archives and the spirited discussion in the comments threads until Sunday.

(Before I go: I note that Heidi Bond has decided to emulate Will Baude (or, perhaps, to emulate me? I do not give myself that much credit) and place a heart icon next to a certain blog on her blogroll. But the recognized individual has not reciprocated! Is this an insignificant oversight, failure of girlfriendly influence, or something more ominous? We wait with bated breath for resolution.)

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Your tax dollars at work

Shocker: federally funded abstinence education programs are rife with bias and errors. Some excerpts from this informative report (PDF):
Several curricula teach that girls care less about achievement and their futures than do boys. One curriculum instructs: “Women gauge their happiness and judge their success by their relationships. Men’s happiness and success hinge on their accomplishments.”
One curriculum teaches that men are sexually aggressive and lack deep emotions. In a chart of the top five women’s and men’s basic needs, the curriculum lists “sexual fulfillment” and “physical attractiveness” as two of the top five “needs” in the men’s section. “Affection,” “Conversation,” “Honesty and Openness,” and “Family Commitment” are listed only as women’s needs.
The curriculum states, “Sterility: Studies show that five to ten percent of women will never again be pregnant after having a legal abortion.” In fact, obstetrics textbooks teach that “[f]ertility is not altered by an elective abortion.”
Several curricula cite an erroneous 1993 study of condom effectiveness that has been discredited by federal health officials. The 1993 study, by Dr. Susan Weller, looked at a variety of condom effectiveness studies and concluded that condoms reduce HIV transmission by 69%.Dr. Weller’s conclusions were rejected by the Department of Health and Human Services, which issued a statement in 1997 informing the public that “FDA and CDC believe this analysis was flawed.” The Department cited numerous methodological problems, including the mixing of data on consistent condom use with data on inconsistent condom use, and found that Dr. Weller’s calculation of a 69% effectiveness rate was based on “serious error.”

Oh! I forgot to include my very favorite part!
One book in the “Choosing the Best” series presents a story about a knight who saves a princess from a dragon. The next time the dragon arrives, the princess advises the knight to kill the dragon with a noose, and the following time with poison, both of which work but leave the knight feeling “ashamed.” The knight eventually decides to marry a village maiden, but did so “only after making sure she knew nothing about nooses or poison.” The curriculum concludes: Moral of the story: Occasional suggestions and assistance may be alright, but too much of it will lessen a man’s confidence or even turn him away from his princess.

Don't show those smarts, girls!

Looming threats

Having my head is like being the worshipper of a pagan god. It becomes angry for no apparent reason and strikes me down with pain. I attempt to appease it in a variety of ways: water, food, caffeine, hot showers, heating pads, painkillers. I provide it with offerings in succession, creep out backwards and on my haunches, and then prostrate myself for some indeterminate period to await my head's response. It appears to be content for the nonce.

This weekend should be packed full of fun: chili, pie, parties, and a visit from the wonderful boyfriend. The only problem is that before I can reach any of that, the journal must go out. Must. Go. Out. Tomorrow. Or else.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The Journal that Ate my Brain

Blogger is being slow and the journal has completely taken over my life. Dealing with over a dozen authors around a major holiday is such a royal pain.

Anyhow, I thought I would make a public service announcement: check your credit report! By law, you can get one report from each of the big three agencies for free every year (the start date for this varies from state to state).

Are you thinking of buying a car? Do you move a lot? Are you not a paranoid freak who shreds all financial records? Get a credit report. I just got mine and was surprised to find out how inaccurate they can be. One of the agencies thinks my current address is someplace I have never spent a single night (my paternal grandmother's house). Another has not updated my records since 2000 and thinks I still live in Arlington, VA. Be smart - monitor your credit.

Okay, back to my galleying and gummi bears.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Mommas, don't let your babies grow up to be crackheads.

. . . although apparently being a crackhead isn't so bad. (More photos of people's first experiences with a variety of drugs)

Here is a very interesting article (PDF) on crack use in America. Surprise: most of what we were told about crack in the 1980s (especially myths about crack babies) was wrong.

I always had a soft spot for the CRACK/Positive Prevention program, which offers female drug addicts cash payments in return for choosing to be sterilized or use long-term birth control (some think the organization is more insidious).

UPDATE: holy crap, someone give this girl $200 and some Norplant! She manages to have the mental processes of someone high on crack without actually bothering to freebase.

I have always had this fear as well.

China Mieville is paranoid. But they were out to get him (or his ears, anyway)!
I always had a paranoia about someone pulling my earrings out and tearing my ears, so I always wore them with clasps that undo when pulled. Then about three years ago, this man ripped my earrings out during a political argument. Half of me was thinking, 'What the hell are you doing?', the other half, 'Result!'
Via Bookslut.

(BTW, Iron Council was pretty lame. It had very little Bas-Lag and way too much political melodrama. And I can believe in women with beetle heads, but a train that outruns all pursuit by moving on a constantly replaced set of tracks ? My suspension of disbelief just wasn't up to it.)

Giant sized portions

Waddling Thunder discusses what sounds like a re-education camp for obese kids and takes issue with the substance of the curriculum. I am reminded of my recent sojourn to the second fattest city in America and must conclude that these kids, even if they learn to cook healthy and tasty food, will be undermined at every turn if they dine out.

I met my mom and sister for dinner at Jay Alexanders, a chain steakhouse that my family recommended. I was only moderately ravenous and decided before perusing the menu that I would probably just have the filet. That was listed as $23.95: reasonable, I thought.

However, I was to be surprised. The filet itself was ten ounces - 20% larger than what I was accustomed to eating at a steakhouse, and substantially larger than the deck-of-cards-sized portion the government recommends for meat. This was to be accompanied by a side order, a salad, and a croissant (not a roll - why, I don't know). The salad, which I ordered with vinagrette, was literally the size of my head and full of croutons and cheddar cheese. I had about two bites - it was bland and tasteless. The crossaint was fist-sized and puffy, but drizzled with honey.

The giant steak (the smallest one on the menu) was accompanied by over two cups of orzo and wild rice, served cold and liberally dosed with purple onions and corn (?!?). I ate the steak, which came to the table with a barely melted half-tablespoon of butter plopped on top, and the appetizer we ordered (a spinach queso that would have been just as good as a spinach and artichoke dip).

If this is common, these kids are doomed. Or at least they'll never get to eat out.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Great minds think alike?

Matthew Yglesias and Will Wilkinson both agree: pandas are cute.

Koalas are pretty cute, too. Too bad they all have chlamydia.

My name is Ms. Taylor.

After many delays (all air travel related - alas for the dearth of other long-range options), I am finally back in Boston and ready to put Issue 1 of the journal to bed. A few short blurbs:

-My sister and I went to see The Incredibles, which was probably my favorite Pixar movie yet. It's clever and energetic, and the characters are surprisingly well developed for a kids' flick. The purported Randian subtext seems overblown; Syndrome's actions are ambiguous in that sense. He is a genius inventor using his gifts to create tons of cool stuff - very John Galt. But he's doing it only as an effort to completely level the playing field and make everyone the same. Hmmm. Perhaps his plot to undermine specialness is poorly thought out and might have benefits in the long run? I look forward to the inevitable sequel. (However, I do reserve some strident criticism for the short feature preceding the film. Entitled "Boundin'" and starring a lumpen jackalope and a marionette-like shorn sheep, it dragged on and on through a terrible faux-Western song to finish with a clumsy and heavy handed message. We had better cowboy narration in The Big Lebowski.)

-I went car shopping and test drove my first car, a Passat. It was very nice, but my grandmother dragged me off to lunch before they could get down to business: a good thing, since we weren't buying that day. The first dealership we went to really irked me. When we were about to leave, the salesman went and fetched his manager to try and forestall our departure. She was about my age, made up like a clown, and called me "sweetie." I do not like being addressed with terms of endearment by age peers or strangers. I also noticed that the TSA employees called me by my first name. An intentional effort to infantilize travelers or just more Southern over-familiarity?

Friday, November 26, 2004

*taps foot*

You know what I hate? Waiting for people. I hardly ever bring a book with me when I go out to meet people and when folks are late I end up staring at the walls. It's so frustrating; I get all twisted up if I think I'll be late and often end up places unfashionably early. I compensate for my terrible sense of direction by leaving 15-20 minutes early if I am making any journey I don't repeat several times per month.

Why are so many people habitually late? This thread has some interesting answers (and some righteous but off-topic criticisms of latecomers).

Black Friday

Admin Law outline: 25% done.
Turkey consumption: complete.
Obligatory phone calls: complete.

My sister got up, went shopping, and came back before I even rolled out of bed. That girl is hard core. I lack sufficient interest in consumer goods to overcome my intense dislike of fighting people at stores. I didn't even like making conversation with the checkout guy today (not something I typically have to contend with in Boston). Then again, who really wants to discuss their Benadryl and Aveeno purchases with a person named Pie? Good customer service comes with such burdensome socialization.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

O'Hare, oh boy

After a mere 5.5 hour flight delay, I arrived at grandmother's house at two o'clock in the morning. Needless to say, there was no Tex-Mex yesterday. I hate air travel. I used to really like it, but it just seems to bloat and become more complex with every passing day. And there is never any food!

My grandfather is sitting next to me watching Fox News. My grandmother was talking about how much they enjoy their new Netflix subscription (my one good gift idea smashed!). They use it to order Jeff Foxworthy videos. Ah, Texas.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Leaving on a jet plane

I'll be in Texas until Sunday, so blogging will be intermittent. I need to attack my Wills and Trusts project and outline for Admin Law over the next few days. However, there will be quality Tex-Mex in my tummy by the day's end, so it's not all bad.

I went through a brief instant of paranoia last night when I thought I might have chicken pox (I have been vaccinated but that was several years ago). Fortunately, that option has been ruled out. As far as I know, varicella does not respond in the slightest to allergy medicines.

Random: Christiana has made me very eager to see this. Amelie was too long, but it had its charming bits, and Tautou was good in Dirty Pretty Things. I hope her sneak preview screening wasn't as annoyingly secured as this one, though. (Thing #1874 I hate about Boston: no early release movies!)

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The Itchy and Scratchy Show

My apologies for the disjointed nature of my coverage of the Raich moot. The questions flew fast and furious and I wanted to make sure I didn't leave out any pertinent issues. The critique segment afterward was fairly detailed, but I was all blogged out.

On an unrelated note, my forearms are covered in hives. Can you develop a sudden allergy to macadamia nuts? Benadryl is good.

Barnett Moots Raich v. Ashcroft - Post 2

2:50 - The definition of the term "commerce" in Gibbons is at issue. Also, the Necessary and Proper Clause is cited; does it support the legislation? RB says they discuss it in a footnote. There is some chuckling from the audience.

Judge asks whether anything done for gain is economic and charity is noneconomic. RB argues that this is true; feeding your kids breakfast and growing a backyard garden are the examples given.

Another question: could Congress bar the intrastate purchase of certain goods to be used to produce marijuana? Yes, says RB; an as-applied challenge could fail, then, if the seeds or other goods travelled in interstate commerce (Congress can reach those seeds). But judges want to know at what point (how many growing cycles) the effect would become too attentuated.

The as-applied theory has not been used to overturn statutes using a fact specific inquiry.

Judge wants to know the relevance of the fact of medical use. RB says it goes to negate the exception to the "essential to a broader scheme" theory. If a significant number of states adopt this approach, though, a judge says there will be a dramatic effect on the supply and demand for marijuana and thus substantially affect commerce.

RB scores with the audience by pointing out that his brief uses government numbers for the quantity of drug users while the government brief uses third party numbers.

3:00 - Why isn't this rational basis review; it's necessary to regulate noncommercial activity to regulate economic activity. RB says that sort of review would cause the Court to withdraw from the field and undermine Lopez/Morrison.

Judge asks about possession of nuclear weapons entirely assembled within a state. RB says he would treat that separately because it was a direct threat to the instrumentalities of commerce and national security.

The judge says to save Lopez/Morrison they must jettison McCulloch's rational basis scrutiny. RB claims that McCulloch is not inconsistent.

Judges ask, is this a special power of the state because regulation of health is a core state function? Where is the authority for that, Fried wants to know? RB cites some cases dealing with structure of state government. RB says the class is insulated from the larger market and thus Congress need not reach it. But judges doubt whether California regulations will actually insulate the class, given the number of current users of illegal drugs.

3:10 - RB wants the Court to recognize state power to act to preserve the health and welfare of their citizens. One judge thinks that might set off a race to the bottom. RB counters with the federalism as experimental laboratory point.

RB says any item that could serve as a threat to the channels and instrumentalities of commerce can be directly regulated. Judges then say this is about second-guessing Congress's assessment and compares Morrison.

(The actual 30 argument time is up. The judges grant RB 15 more minutes and say it shows they have little regard for precedent. Laughter from the audience.)

Judge asks whether asserting if an act of arson in Jones threatened the power grid or some other instrumentality of commerce, it could be regulated.

Query: if a federal officer learns that someone grows MJ at home, does he have probable cause to arrest? Does the medical provision change the probable cause determination? RB says the burden would be on the arrestee to prove that his use was okay. But judges ask if it is relevant that government might have to know a lot (where the seeds came from, etc.) and thus enforcement would be really hard.

RB says California is free to identify a list of noneconomic activities dealing with other controlled substances and permit them - but only if the home chemistry sets used to cook your meth aren't purchased in interstate commerce.

Judge notes the stress on the complete isolation from commerce in this instance. But wouldn't this mean the CSA is valid in Oregon but not California? RB says the medical classification is crucial to this case.

Fried asks if the government can outlaw prostitution, can it also outlaw "friendly fornication" since it bears on the market for prostitution? Gales of laughter.

Can we save possession laws, asks one judge? RB says even if we do that, it doesn't apply to the facts here.

Last question: judge says brief argues that the statute should not apply and thus the constitutional issue can be avoided; he doesn't buy this because the prescription or order cannot be valid given the Congressional determination that there are no acceptible medical uses. RB says this is a valid order under CA law because it's lawful under CA law. The judge is disbelieving; Jones does not seem to apply.

Barnett Moots Raich v. Ashcroft - Post 1

2:17 - We are hanging out before the debate in Ames Courtroom. Randy Barnett is here already and chatting with the FedSoc leadership (the HLS Federalist Society is a sponsor of the event). The judges (Professors Fried, Parker, Meltzer, Shapiro, Young, and Steve Calabresi) are not all here yet. Only one side will be presented as Ashcroft didn't feel like coming. :)

2:35 - It begins. Ames Courtroom is about 3/4 full. The FedSoc wants to point out that it doesn't take a position on the outcome of the case. Background on the case is read aloud. The issue: does the CSA exceed Congress's Commerce Claus power as applied to medical cannabis use? The announcer wonders if the court will continue the federalist revolution or "retreat into impenetrable nuance." The format will be 45 minutes of oral argument and 15 minutes of critique.

2:41 - Within a minute of the oral argument's beginning, a judge asks whether determining if the activity is economic is the end of the case? Barnett says yes. The judges press him on the economic/noneconomic distinction. The "essential part of a broader scheme" exception only applies to economic activity, according to Barnett.

The Wickard distinction was between commerce and production, says RB. One judge thinks the exception in Wickard "covers this case like a blanket." But: RB says the nonaggregation principle never has been applied to noneconomic activity.

But, says Fried, until Lopez and Morrison, activity could simply affect interstate commerce and be regulated. Substantial effect is the doctrine here, according to RB.

One judge wants to know what criteria would be used to determine if an effect is substantial. RB has no hard answer, but says if the effect is too attenuated it doesn't count. A judge retailiates and says that the inquiry is not over with the economic/noneconomic distinction if they must determine the scope of the effect. RB says he would not disagree with this.

A day late and a dollar short

I've been slow to respond, but all the action is going on in the abortion post downscreen. I am adding Melinda to my list of friends who should really start blogging. Tracking down people in comments sections is hard work!

At 2:30 I am going to the Raich v. Ashcroft moot oral argument in the Ames Courtroom. It is free and open to the public, so unless I am explicitly instructed not to do so I will post my thoughts and any juicy tidbits either during or directly following the argument. Waddling Thunder may also be doing this, so check his blog as well.

The Vanishing

Last night I capped off an evening packed with 150 pages of patent law reading with a viewing of The Vanishing. (This was the Dutch version, not the American remake.)

I like suspense/horror movies, and I especially like watching the foreign originals of later American hits. They are almost uniformly superior, and often have a more quiet sense of doom hanging over them.

The Vanishing tells its story in non-linear fashion. It centers around the disappearance of a young Dutch woman at a truck stop in France. Saskia and her boyfriend, Rex, are on holiday; she goes into the store to buy drinks . . . and never returns. Rex cannot get over her disappearance, especially the uncertainty of her fate. This is exacerbated by five postcards, purportedly from her murderer, requesting a meeting. The murderer never shows. Finally, after Rex has lost his new girlfriend due to his inability to cope, the murderer shows up on his doorstep and asks him if he wants to find out what happened to Saskia. Thus begins a strange interlude in which Rex and the killer have a relatively companionable road trip which culminates in a decision for Rex: how much does he want to know what happened to Saskia? How far will he go?

The score, especially the murderer's theme, was eerily bouncy. I spent a significant amount of time yelling at Rex, who evidently lost his mind along with his girlfriend. Stupid horror movie mistakes abound. Lessons:

Do not talk to strangers at truck stops.
Do not get in their car.
If your girlfriend disappears, don't listen to some idiot French truck stop manager - call the police right away!
If the man who almost certainly murdered your girlfriend shows up at your door, don't get in his car.
If the man wants to drug you, say no.
If the murderer confesses to you and gives you some of your girlfriend's missing belongings but then says calling the police won't do any good, don't believe him.
Never trust Frenchmen with Amish beards.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Animal Cannibals

Heidi Bond has decided that linear birds (those whose axis is relatively rigid and pivots above the legs) are inedible. However, birds blessed with more flexibility and longer necks are still guiltlessly edible. This smacks of rationalization to me, and I would like to proffer the following anecdote in an attempt to reintroduce Heidi to the joys of linear bird consumption.

When she was a girl, my mother had two pet chickens, Henny and Penny. These chickens were quite tame and begged for food from anyone nearby. And what was their favorite snack, which they would fly into paroxyms of scratching and clucking to obtain? Fried chicken. If the chickens don't mind eating themselves, why should Heidi mind eating chicken?

To address Angus Dwyer's question: yes. And it was full of spicy, greasy goodness.

(Why does anyone go to KFC? The chicken is wizened, simulataneously greasier and dried out from exposure to the heat lamps, and has a less vibrant flavor. And they are partnered with Taco Bell, the most mediocre food in existence. This produces an unholy alliance of dual shops in which one can order wings and tacos in the same value meal. Ugh.)

UPDATE: instant fried chicken invented in Israel (chicken lovers should not click).

Sunday, November 21, 2004

What's good for the goose

During my constitutional law class, I discussed Rust v. Sullivan with Charles Fried after class and he was quite dismissive of the argument that the refusal of the federal government to fund family planning organizations that discuss abortion as an option could be framed as coercive. I was grudgingly persuaded.

Perhaps Fried's gentle powers of persuasion should be directed toward the National Right to Life Committee, which is currently gloating over the last minute introduction of an abortion rider to the omnibus spending bill:
The abortion language would bar federal, state and local agencies from withholding taxpayer money from health care providers that refuse to provide or pay for abortions or refuse to offer abortion counseling or referrals. Current federal law, aimed at protecting Roman Catholic doctors, provides such "conscience protection'' to doctors who do not want to undergo abortion training. The new language would expand that protection to all health care providers, including hospitals, doctors, clinics and insurers.

"It's something we've had a longstanding interest in," said Douglas Johnson, a spokesman for the National Right to Life Committee. He added, "This is in response to an orchestrated campaign by pro-abortion groups across the country to use government agencies to coerce health care providers to participate in abortions."

(Emphasis added by yours truly)

UPDATE: Dylan claims that foregoing government subsidy will effectively cripple any health care providers that don't offer abortions because of the comparative disadvantage this puts them in with respect to other providers. But couldn't you say the same thing about women's health clinics? If the government has the choice to fund a Catholic women's clinic or Planned Parenthood and it chooses the former, PP will remain tiny while its competitor will expand.

Dylan also seems to think that health care providers who lack these protections are at risk of going under and not being able to provide any services at all. This is only the case if health care providers require government money to exist and if the state and local governments pass these laws. This isn't the repeal of some federal directive that blocks access to Medicare dollars by Catholic hospitals. It's a provision that prevents state and local agencies from using the provision of abortion services as a condition of dealing with the state. If a state wants to deal only with hospitals that provide a full menu of services, they are prevented from doing so and are forced to consider service providers who offer a smaller basket of goods on equal footing with those who provide abortion. It is restriction and regulation - of state and local agencies. That's anti-Federalist, and bad policy.

No doctor is being forced to perform abortions or quit his job. He may not have liked the choices he had under the pre-rider scheme, but he had a choice. Now the state and local governments have no choice. The policymakers there may base their support of abortion on a moral conviction. A doctor who has sworn the Hippocratic oath and feels morally bound to provide his patients with what he believes are the best health care options for them will be balked in fulfilling his moral obligation by the new rider. Pooh-poohing the convictions of pro-choicers is no way to debate the issue productively. I think Will has effectively dealt with the problems with tying government subsidies to foregoing rights.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

The kids ain't right

Interesting post here about the difficulty high school students had with Neil Gaiman's American Gods. I was in AP/gifted & talented classes with the same cohort for eight years or so and vividly remember one boy proudly stating that he had never read a book all the way through. He was a good to average student in my freshman English class. I'm not sure how he managed that, but those sorts of BS skills are surely evidence of some gift.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Books for kids with crazy parents

Jessa Crispin at Bookslut calls my attention to this article about a parent who was shocked to find that her seventh grade daughter had brought an X-Men comic book home from the library. To be fair, the kid is a special-ed student - Charlotte's Web may be an appropriate choice for her reading ability. The kid's mother is clearly out of touch, though; she cites Judy Blume as an example of an author whose books don't include "derogatory language, erotic images . . . talk of molestation [and promotion of] violence." Everyone can be satisfied here; the librarian should give Ashley a copy of Forever!


I should really read Wills & Trusts this weekend. I am some frightening number of weeks behind and need to catch up before I can start my final project (an estate plan for my dear friend Dana). But every time I turn around, someone's talking about Augusten Burroughs.

My friend Danielle has two of his books, and her literary taste is not bad. He has been compared to David Sedaris, who I quite enjoy. I bet the train station bookshop has a copy of Dry or Running With Scissors . . .

No, be strong!

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Beware of cat.

I don't know how accurate this test is for others. I am not sure it's how I would describe myself (how others would describe me, however . . .)

eXpressive: 6/10
Practical: 3/10
Physical: 4/10
Giver: 2/10

You are a XSIT--Expressive Sentimental Intellectual Taker. This makes you a Hellcat.

Yowza, you are fiery to be with. You're dynamic and volatile and a living roller coaster. You're also very attractive and immaculately groomed, so your target sex gets drawn in like a moth. You love the attention and never get tired of it. At a party you command attention, but you're a lightweight with alcohol and if you drink too much there can be trouble.

Like an XSYT, you tend to over-analyze things, so the slightest comment or action from your significant other can send you into a tailspin. Conflict with you can be either very productive or very dangerous. You are incapable of lying -- you have no guile -- and if your partner can't handle the truth, that's his/her problem, not yours. You are explosive when you're upset, but when the smoke clears you are right back on track with no ill will.

This is a highly effective way to resolve issues and keep them from brewing, but this can stun and hurt a partner with a more laid-back approach. You aren't angry later, but s/he might be. Make sure when you've gotten your satisfaction that your partner is satisfied as well!

You would never cheat. But combine your hot-blooded style with the fact that your partner is *attracted* to that style, and you've got a recipe for being cheated on. If you pair up with an X_YG (and that's not unlikely) you may get caught in his/her cycle of cheating. Make sure your partner feels appreciated and loved to balance out the fire of your approach to conflict.

If you're female, you're kind of like Evita or Teresa Heinz Kerry. I can't think of any famous men like this.

Of the 155759 people who have taken this quiz, 5.1 % are this type.


Via MeFi, I note the following egregious nonsense:
GOP seeks suspension of RU-486
Republican lawmakers plan to reintroduce a bill to suspend the sale of RU-486, the abortion pill, and probe the process surrounding its approval now that three U.S. deaths have been linked to the drug. The measure would ban the drug temporarily while the Government Accountability Office, Congress' investigative arm, conducts a six-month independent review of the approval process the agency used to declare RU-486 "safe and effective" in 2000. . . .
FDA officials confirmed that [three] American women died after taking the drug. But they said they do not have evidence that RU-486 was responsible for the deaths.

Well, obviously this calls for a ban and a Congressional investigation. I look forward to similar bans and investigations of unfenced swimming pools, open buckets of water, and high school football, all of which have certainly caused more than three accidental deaths. Or what about Accutane? That's been linked to 66 suicides (although, as here, a definite causal link has not been proven). Save me, Congress! Save me from abortion pills that are safer than carrying a pregnancy to term!

And some people think UChicago is going down the tubes . . .

Via Marginal Revolution, I am gratified to discover that Apollo Morgan, a fellow CMC alum, is now blogging. He has a great deal of information on the latest embarassment to the Claremont Colleges: another vandalism incident. Although this one was not carried out by a professor, it was approved by one. At least it was a Pomona professor this time.

OMG Metafilter

New user signups are working! I am finally a member of Metafilter! With posting privileges! *does Snoopy dance*

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

First person shooter

An enterprising rancher in Texas wants to set up a remote controlled gun that internet users could pay to fire. I hope he doesn't get a lot of trespassers, and that he keeps traceable user records in case someone shoots what he shouldn't. (Via Boing Boing)

(In case you are wondering about the lack of new posts, all the action is happening in the shock art post from Tuesday.)

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Strange Days

Will Baude questions the temporal and geographical location of the Golden Age of courtship. His post's title and content put me in mind of the poet Ernest Dowson.

Dowson wrote "Vitae summa brevis spem nos vetat incohare longam," the poem from which the line "the days of wine and roses" is taken. Much of Dowson's poetry celebrates loving a pure and innocent lady. The true object of his affection was a twelve year old restauranteur's daughter named Adelaide. He worshipped her from afar for two years, but at fourteen she married a waiter at the restaurant; Dowson slipped further into dissolution and despair and eventually died. If only he had asked her father for permission!

For an excellent Victorian example of the romantic ambiguity Will Baude references, see Non sum qualis eram bonae sub regno Cynarae, in which the lover is tormented by visions of his lily pure love while in bed with a prostitute. I bet he didn't get many kisses from the former, even on the hand. (This poem is also notable for being the source of the title of Gone With the Wind.)

Step on the footnotes and kill them before they breed

Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution comes up with a terrible idea to reform academic publishing: make a manuscript's value depend on the number of citations to it in other papers.

Does he really want to make other academic disciplines prone to the massive over-citation now prevalent in law reviews? What about authors who cite themselves, or their colleagues and co-authors? This does not sound good.

Modern shock art rides again

In the course of clicking around, I discovered a "libertarian" blog by an attorney in NYC. He was extremely exercised about an art exhibition in Sweden that involves photographs of dismembered animals. Apparently the artist, Nathalia Edenmont, humanely kills small animals and then uses their heads and other body parts as subjects for her art. This provoked a comparison of the artist to Osama Bin Laden. I thought this was a bit over the top, but apparently his outrage is the norm, not the exception; the galley has posted a apologetic notice explaining to enraged viewers why they have chosen to display Edenmont's work, there is a typically amateurish web petition against Edenmont with many signatures, and some web forum participants have joked about hunting down Edenmont and making her into art. That reaction appears to be fairly representative.

But why is aesthetic and intellectual use in art an insufficient moral justification for humanely killing an animal? (I will assume for the purpose of argument that Edenmont kills the animals as painlessly as possible and only kills animals which do not have loving owners.)

As long as Edenmont isn't sneaking into your house, stealing your cat, beating it to death with a stick, and then plopping its head on a vase, why do you care more about that than you do about the thousands of animals gassed in your local animal control facility? Why are people so outraged by a photo of mouse skin finger puppets when they are probably complicit in the deaths of dozens of animals for their wardrobe and pantry contents? Some people say it's just different, but they can't articulate why. I suspect there is no reason, only a visceral reaction that they have conditioned themselves to avoid when contemplating their own usage of animals.

I love animals. I get mushy whenever I see a dog on the street. I believe that animal suffering is to be avoided. But I just can't get outraged by someone using animals for art instead of for some more conventional method of sensory gratification.

UPDATE: KipEsquire is not pleased by my disagreement. Apparently I am an "obnoxious, snotty little ass" and "sophomoric."


A few points:

-No, I am not on Moot Court.

-I didn't accuse KipEsquire of being non-libertarian. I found his position surprising, given that title, but I don't claim to own that term. KipEsquire says Edenmont's work is not art. I refrain from judgment on that issue, as I don't own that term either.

-The petition is amateurish. It lacks any real argument and is poorly written and is thus unlikely to persuade the gallery to remove Edenmont's work. The point of such an exercise is to make the signers feel good about asserting their moral superiority.

-Many shelters are not no-kill. I based my assumption that the animals were humanely killed on this article. Of course, the gallery owner's word may be doubted.

-The point of a jacket is to keep warm. The point of food is to nourish. Picking leather over cloth because it's "cool" or hamburgers over salad because meat tastes good means you are intentionally choosing to consume goods which require animal death for their production, no matter how secondary and incidental. Just because most of us don't think about this "distress and discomfort" doesn't make it less real.

Clearly someone (the gallery owner and any buyers of her photos) thinks that Edenmont's work is more than just moral pollution. I choose not to get outraged about their choice to consume photos of dead animals, just as I don't sign petitions to outlaw hunting and taxidermy. If there was evidence that Edenmont tortured the animals, I might feel differently. Absent such evidence, I will file this with other strange preferences that other people have and that I can't rouse the energy to condemn.

UPDATE II: For those of you who believe Edenmont is a monster for creating this, could you please distinguish the following (or explain why they are equivalent):
A taxidermied raccoon
A bearskin rug
A beaver fur coat
Damien Hirst's "Flock"

Monday, November 15, 2004

Young nerdlings of the world, unite!

On a non-kissing related topic, check out this editorial about D&D. It's not often that solitary pursuits involving 20 sided dice are lauded in the pages of our nation's papers, so it's nice to see something besides articles about childhood obesity or teen pregnancy.

Like the author, I invented entire worlds for my own amusement. This was perfected through years of social isolation and spoiling by relatives who bought me far too many model horses and stuffed toys (all of which had their own melodramatic stories). However, I grew up in Texas, where no one I knew played D&D. I had a book that a random person had discarded, but no idea where to find other nerds. If I hadn't gotten obsessed with boys in high school I probably would have taught myself Elvish or something. That at least you can do on your own. Instead I just made careful paper miniature replicas of all the weapons in LOTR and filled out dozens of postcards in pursuit of a free trip to New Zealand to watch the filming of the movies. (Those events were separated by years, but I suppose that just proves that my nerd streak runs deep.)

Kiss: yes. Grab: no.

Dan Moore disagrees with Will Baude (as usual) about end-of-date shyness and agrees with me (always wise) that an end of date kiss is the best way to convey interest, especially given the tendency of participants to obsessively analyze a first date. But his suggestion to cup a hand over one cheek and kiss the other is all wrong. If there's anything worse than being kissed by someone you're not into, it's being physically restrained and then kissed by someone you're not into. Limiting the lady's ability to dodge the kiss may suggest romance, but it's more easily interpreted by fence sitters as creepy control-freak behavior. The end of a first date is probably not the time for manhandling, even of the subtle sort.

UPDATE: Pejman Yousefzadeh finds an excellent compromise solution: a kiss on the hand. That's unambiguously romantic enough to get the message across, and it has a certain roleplaying aspect that allows those who might feel shy to step outside themselves and act the gallant.

UPDATE II: Will Baude disapproves of the Yousefzadeh solution, apparently because kissing a lady's hand is either a non-romantic European fake-out or a circumspect (dishonest?) half-measure. I agree that if your interest is in the lady's lips, and you are willing, given contemporaneously available information, to risk moving in close, a conventional kiss is best.
I would recommend the kiss on the hand to my classmates and commenters who find other types of kissing offensive to some externally or internally imposed norm of respect or decency. (I say fie on those kiss-negative norms, but I recognize the efforts of one blogger can only do so much to chip away at such things.)

If they take my stapler then I'll set the building on fire.

Energy Spatula has an Office Space moment at law school. If you are one of the ten Americans between 18 and 35 who has not yet seen this movie, you may not understand.

The problem with Office Space is that now I am constitutionally incapable of saying "That would be great" without sounding like Lumbergh to myself. Augh.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control?

The first date kiss discussion has spread to some other blogs and to the journal office. Since I have been informed that the kissing parts of my blog are the best ones, I'll weigh in further.

Phoebe Maltz interprets the kissing dynamic as consisting of a shy boy and a waiting girl. This may be a common phenomenon, but you should make your enthusiasm for further interaction clear, no matter what your sex or sexual orientation. What better way is there for Rachel Bussel to test her "straight girls don't exist" hypothesis than to give out a few smooches and monitor reactions?

The Miss Manners column quoted by Will Baude is conservative in the extreme (even I, who hate to be touched by strangers, would not find a end-of-date hug untoward), but it does reemphasize the necessity of making one's preferences clear. If you're not into physical contact on the first date, you need to substitute one form of obvious interest for another, a la Brock Sides. While a person taking Miss Manners's advice might manage to carry it off and still give the impression of wanting a second date, it's perhaps more likely that someone who jumped back at the prospect of a mere hug would be written off by the other party as uninterested. And while Will is correct to state that not everyone who walks away kiss-less should be discouraged, letting someone you're interested in walk away with no clear indication of your desire for a second date is a recipe for disappointment.

UPDATE: PG agrees that a first date kiss is not presumptuous, especially if it's a date with someone you're acquainted with already. She also brings up the very astute observation that kissing is quite safe, especially the Bamber-approved cheek kiss.
Melinda points out that a first date kiss can provide early warning of poor kiss-compatibility. Why waste time on second dates with terrible kissers? And why end a date when you could hang around and kiss for a while?