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?

Saturday, November 13, 2004

First date kisses

There's an interesting discussion here on the import of a first date kiss. I believe a first date kiss is necessary if one wishes to convey that one has a romantic interest. The awkward hug with no kiss is the province of the brushoff, and a handshake is just insulting. If you're bashful, make it a peck on the cheek - just kiss something! You never know what might happen . . .

Friday, November 12, 2004

Simulblogging: Test Anxiety

Christiana of Phoblographer is a guest in my humble home this weekend. We are commiserating about the MPRE and gorging ourselves on Indian food. Yay.

For those of you who don't know what I am complaining about, a typical MPRE question:

James is a judge on the state supreme court. Susie is a madam. Is it permissible for James to form a partnership with Suzie in which she runs a brothel and he defends any men prosecuted for solicitation at her business, splitting all revenues 50/50?

I. No, judges can't practice law.
II. No, lawyers can't split fees with a non-lawyer.
III. No, association with prostitutes is against ABA rules.
IV. Yes, as long as the men provide informed consent.

A. I and II
B. II and III
C. I and III
D. IV only


Huzzahs to Orin Kerr, for getting recommended for tenure, and to Will Wilkinson for his recent hiring by the CATO Institute. Good things come in threes, right? Where's my post-clerkship offer of cool employment?


After an extremely long and sleepless night, I get to take the T down to Kendall Square and sit for the MPRE. Then my old roommate Kathy the Peace Corps Worker and her friend are supposed to meet up with me. Then former boss-lady Christiana is scheduled to arrive on my couch. Tomorrow is the mass subcite for three of our articles. We still need to round out the staff on another article. And we need to get Issue 1 ready to go to the printer in the next couple of weeks.

I wish I had more time for classes.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Going Beyond "A Suitable Boy"

At Marginal Revolution, Daniel Akst asks whether affluence and a social safety net make for less moving fiction. I find most American lit-fic set in the present to be tedious and self indulgent, so I was excited to hear about this book, which seems to deal with something more interesting than the navel-gazing of wealthy moderns.

The Future

Like me, Jeremy turned down his offer. It sounds like we had a lot of the same reasons. I've told several people about turning down my firm (many of them were hard core public interest types when they came into HLS), and they've all looked at me funny, with some kind of confused pity. This place is a corporate lawyer factory par excellence, I must say.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Pre-MPRE Amusements

Via Metafilter, a web comic of some sort:

Better living through rotation

Although I harbor a level of snobbery toward trailer homes that is achievable only in members of the lower middle class, I get giggly and excited every time modern architects come out with some trendy new modular housing units. A while back, the new hot unit was a little box-like unit on mini-stilts that was intended to sit on the top of preexisting buildings and to be portable (with helicopters).

The new cute house-in-a-box is this. The rotating cylinder to swap out the living spaces is ingenious, but my first impulse was to wonder if you could rotate your bedroom space to the back with you inside (I like to sleep in total darkness). But then I began to wonder what horrible fate would ensue if the remote ran out of batteries while you were sleeping. Homes should not need escape hatches.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Made to order

At HLS, our student mailboxes are constantly spammed with flyers from people and companies trying to make us into real lawyers. One of the most intriguing ones (to me, at least) is the Hong Kong tailor advertisments. They claim to create reasonably priced custom suits from your measurements. I have always thrown them away ruefully, since I am almost certain that they are talking about men's suits.

According to Teresa Nielsen Hayden at Making Light, I've been ignoring the obvious: the internet. She has revealed the secret of Ebay's Indian tailor market. My friend Angel meant to have some cheap suits made in Senegal when she was there last year, but they lacked heavy enough fabric. It's more likely that India could provide a wide variety of fabrics. I'm not sure my judge would think bright pink and gold were appropriate colors for his chambers, but it's tempting.

Random unrelated gripe: I have been informed that taking the D.C. bar is dumb, since it doesn't transfer to anywhere else, whereas any other state bar easily transfers to D.C. With this in mind, I am about to switch to the California bar (and thus the California bar course). However, there is no contact information in the confirmation email I received from BarBri or on their website. What the **&^$#?


Firefox 1.0 is out. Tabbed browsing rules! Download it yourself here.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Holiday Dilemmas

I went shopping today, but made no headway on the Christmas present front. I am old enough that I should probably buy gifts for everyone, but what the hell do you buy grandparents? A college age sister? My mother, who claims to want nothing? My family will contend to the last that they don't want anything in particular and then snark if I don't buy them something. I could make something crafty, but lack ideas. Help!

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Ohhhh yeah!

*Insert image of me imitating the Kool-Aid Man here*

Most favored former boss-lady Christiana Dominguez is coming to Boston! Lucky for her I have a fold out couch. Maybe we should have our own madrigal feast. Or at least eggnog and wassail.

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

Will Baude is grumbly about the lack of signs at the Guggenheim's Aztec art exhibit. He's dead right on this one - without the audio tour, one is totally lost - the objects are presented in only the barest context (there are some 3 paragraph narrative signs at he beginning of each segment of the exhibit). In the next breath, though, he chides other East Coast museums for having too much verbiage. Such criticism is misguided.

While some visitors are well informed, like the wonderful Mr. Baude, for others, a trip to the museum is a cavalcade of new images. Art education in the U.S. being what it is, museum signs provide key clues as to the context for each work. Is a giant canvas smeared with a god-like palette typical of the artist or a one-off experiment? Does the work in question comment or riff on some other work? Is there a reason for all the faces of the Marys in one room of the Fogg to have a distinct green cast? A well placed sign may explain, it may cast the work in a new light and intrigue the viewer, or it may present no useful information - in which case one can simply chalk up an exhibit as poorly curated and view the remainder from your own perspective.

If you aren't interested in reading about the artist's mumbly explanations of how his work relates to postmodern gender and political theory, signs are easy to ignore. However, for every person who may be experiencing an artist, a movement, or even an art museum for the first time, signs are invaluable.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Endorsement tests

Interesting post here about the relationship between legal rights, moral sanction, and equal treatment. Could one argue that same-sex marriage bans based on religious, traditional views of marriage (as opposed to some measurable social harm) might violate O'Connor's endorsement test and thus the First Amendment? Defining marriage to be only what conservative sects of some religions say it is seems to convey "a message that religion is 'favored,' 'preferred,' or 'promoted' over other beliefs." Allegheny County v. ACLU.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Ideal Subways

My classmate Waddling Thunder has a list of characteristics of the ideal subway on Crescat today. My thoughts:

Catchy names: good. Food: excellent. Especially doughnuts. His escalator arrangement seems far more rational than what we have in Boston (where the subway stop for the hospital is not handicap accessible). All of his suggestions for more line information, maps, and schedule information are great.

But why come out in favor of flat rate pricing and tokens? A card is much easier to carry in a wallet than a pocket full of tokens. Tokens do make variable rate pricing practically impossible (although Boston does have variable rates on some Green Line trains). But variable rate pricing is more efficient. You can charge peak and off peak fares, as well ash gouge the suburbanites for taking up a seat on the train for ten stops while cutting city riders a break, since they only went one or two. What gives, WT? Or is my economics way off?

An additional note: turnstiles. The ideal subway should have non-dedicated turnstiles (usable as both entrance and exit). It's terribly frustrating to have to line up at one set of exit turnstiles while the others are vacant. However, my friend Danielle Pilon suggests that some turnstile may be constructed to only go one way (I suspect this is a setting that can be adjusted, albeit inconveniently). Is this another example of rigidity in public transit infrastructure?

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Nineteenth Amendment Humor

Via my historian flatmate, an excerpt from Alice Duer Miller, Rhymes for Suffrage Times (1915):

Why We Oppose Votes for Men
1. Because man's place is in the armory.
2. Because no really manly man wants to settle any question otherwise than by fighting about it.
3. Because if men should adopt peaceful methods women will no longer look up to them.
4. Because men will lose their charm if they step out of their natural sphere and interest themselves in other matters than feats of arms, uniforms, and drums.
5. Because men are too emotional to vote. Their conduct at baseball games and political conventions shows this, while their innate tendency to appeal to force renders them peculiarly unfit for the task of government.

This list is preceded by another called "Why We Oppose Pockets for Women."

His packet of materials also includes many historical references to women's "natural modesty."

Coming in February to a mailbox near you . . .

Orin Kerr thinks one of our forthcoming articles is interesting. Hurrah for my superlative articles editor! Any JLPP readers of this blog should click through to the draft on SSRN and check it out. You might be editing it, after all.

A new AG?

Sources claim that Ashcroft will resign soon. (Via A Handful of Sand) Geoffrey will rejoice.

I hope his replacement is not ashamed of the spirit of justice.

Election map

Purple America/Fuschia America just doesn't have the same ring to it.

UPDATE: Musings along these lines can be found at Stay of Execution.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Brian Leiter is coming to Cambridge!

The infamous Professor Leiter is on his way to Harvard to attend a Nietzsche conference. I will breathlessly blog any Leiter sightings Wonkette style.

UPDATE: To counteract the sense of impending doom . . . cute baby animals.

Hell. Yeah.

Although this puts me behind half the teenagers in the First World and half the soccer moms in the Midwest, I finally got around to customizing the ringtone on my cellphone.

If you call me, it plays the Law & Order theme song.

This is so freaking awesome.

This election has been brought to you by Osama Bin Laden and Dick Gephardt

In the news you probably haven't heard, residents of Montana have okayed medical marijuana (scroll down) and Eugene Volokh's friend for State Supreme Court, as well as enthusiastically affirming "traditional" marriage.

The states went 11 for 11 in favor of defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Millions of people had a chance to come out in favor of equal rights for gays and lesbians, and they muffed it. This shames me more than anything else that came out of this election. (And that's saying a lot, considering David Dreier is dead to me now and some of the new Republican Senators are pretty scary.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

What, me, worry?

While you are all obsessively refreshing CSPAN and CNN, you can surely take a moment to weigh in on a pressing issue relating to the English language.

Is there any region or class that pronounces umbrella as 'umbrella, as opposed to the OED-sanctioned um'brella (as per OED rules, main stress is shown by a ' preceding the stressed syllable). People are always making fun of me for how I say this word and I am in search of any source for my oddball pronunciation.

What are we paying you for, anyway?

Via Bookslut, I find and am mildly irritated by the moanings of a "failed bookseller." Shocking revelations from this fine piece of journalism include:

1. Bookstores do not pay you to stand around and read the books in the store during work hours. They instead expect you to spend this time assisting customers.
2. Instead of being an easy way for recent graduates to meet promiscuous literature loving women, working at a retail establishment is likely to expose one to more average types who look "like potatoes poured into black clothes."
3. Nothing interesting could possibly be shelved in the SF/Fantasy section, so one may simply evade your assigned responsibilities to the "readers" or such rubbish by hiding behind the till.
4. Telling a customer a book is "probably rubbish" is not the best way to make sales or keep your job.
5. Stealing books before quitting to make up for wages to which you felt entitled is a completely acceptable retaliation tactic for your weeks of disappointment.

What a snotty little whiner.

Thinking like a lawyer

Via the Volokh Conspiracy, this excerpt from today's WSJ op-ed:
Legal education . . . breeds and dignifies some dangerous inclinations. It encourages people to favor constructed idealizations over real life. And it confuses the skills of argumentation with morality.
I have always favored constructed idealizations over real life. But then I wanted to be a lawyer as soon as I ruled out astronaut and President.

The argumentation point, though, is one that resonates with me. I know too many people (not all law students; competitive debaters and student government types are also prone to this vice) who are more concerned about form than substance, more interested in scoring points than arriving at an illuminating conclusion, and more apt to hamstring an opponent who doesn't know or refuses to follow the rules of the debate than to address their points or listen to their arguments. Law school only reinforces this tendency.

As lawyers, we are taught to advocate fiercely for our side, whatever that may be and regardless of whether our side is right. This has some utility in the context of criminal defense work, or perhaps corporate law, but when this stylized combat is substituted for philosophical inquiry about the morality of our public policy goals and methods, everyone loses. And lawyers are partially to blame.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Forbidden Love

I hadn't seen this in a long time, but it never fails to amuse me.

UPDATE: Browsing through my video files also revealed a copy of this gem: Lord of the Rings, starring Humphrey Bogart.

20 Things

Inpired by other bloggers: some things about me you probably didn't know.

1. The last book I read was Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.
2. I own a first edition of Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal.
3. I was kicked out of nursery school for punching another kid in the nose.
4. At age five, I heard public service announcements that said drinking and driving was dangerous and I warned my mother not to drink iced tea in the car.
5. My room is adorned with a Van Gogh, a Pre-Raphaelite painting of Ophelia, two Tamara DeLempickas, and a photo of the Brooklyn Bridge.
6. I am terribly allergic to Christmas trees.
7. I have never smoked a cigarette. A cigar, yes.
8. Trick or treaters scare me.
9. For several years, my main source of income was babysitting. Then three of my repeat clients disassembled a volleyball net and decided to play “smack the nanny” with segments of PVC pipe. I quit.
10. When I get angry, I tend to stomp.
11. I have had men fight over me using a Risk game as a surrogate.
12. At one time my hair was waist-length.
13. When I am nervous, I rearrange books and knick-knacks.
14. For about a year in high school, I attended HOS meetings.
15. I sing little songs all day long. Sometimes they are about cheese.
16. I like the smell of Lemon Pledge a lot.
17. The name of this blog is also my senior yearbook caption from college.
18. I have never read Moby Dick, the source for the tagline of this blog.
19. Nate & Hayes is my favorite pirate movie.
20. At the Baptist summer camp I attended for several years, they made us nail scraps of paper with prayers written on them to a giant wooden cross in the middle of the forest. I think mine was about my dog.