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.