Saturday, July 31, 2004

I feel like the Village idiot

Despite the bad reviews, I couldn't keep away from M. Night Shyamalan's The Village. Be warned: it is not scary. It is not well written, it is not surprising, and it is not well acted. Adrien Brody is wasted as a retarded man, Joaquin Phoenix plays a strong and silent type who also does little on screen, and the performance by Opie's daughter was uninspired as well. Even the previews before the movie were terrible (attention Reese Witherspoon: acting in period pieces will not erase Legally Blonde 2 from our minds. you are still not a "serious actress.") and the score during the credits was overwrought.

(Spoilers follow: highlight to read them.)
I had read some message board discussions of the movie beforehand and had read that the big twist was either that the village elders were the monsters or that it all took place in the present day. Both of these seemed weak and I was excited to hear rumors that a new ending had been shot recently. Imagine my disappointment when (not even halfway through the movie) it is glaringly obvious that both are true. Sigourney Weaver, who supposedly had nightmares for weeks after reading the script, was criminally underused; as an actress, she has the potential to be authoritarian, seductive, threatening - Weaver was none of these here. The problems present in the film were easily picked apart afterwards: if you were retreating from the world, wouldn't you lay in a decent supply of penicillin? Did no one think it was a bad idea to keep one of the monster suits in the retarded guy's room? If the outside world is so terrible and scary and full of rapists and murderers, why send a blind girl to fetch anythingfrom it? Did none of the elders find it troubling that a creature was killing animals and it wasn't one of them? and how could one guy have killed and skinned all those animals with no one seeing or hearing a thing?

I found Signs to be a mixed bag with a clumsy theme and Unbreakable a strange but appealing film. This is an unmitigated failure and Shymalan should not be allowed to direct from his own scripts or act in his own movies. He lacks sufficient talent to do either. It was beautifully shot and well directed, but that alone cannot salvage this abortion of a feature, which fails as both a horror movie and as a love story.

P.S. And if Bruce Willis's character died from getting shot once in the stomach in The Sixth Sense, how could Lucius Hunt survive getting stabbed repeatedly in the belly and chest with what appeared to be a dirty six inch blade and only be threatened by an infection?

P.P.S. Ebert hated it. His taste is often questionable, but I should have listened to the Flick Filosopher. Or A.O. Scott. Or . . . well, you get the picture.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Cue "It's a Small World"

I just got off the phone with D, who worked with me at Cato in 2000 and now is attending school at Harvard and living three blocks from my apartment there. She got my contact info from her dad, who I ran into at a Federalist Society event in DC. On the phone we discussed:
-My gay ex-boyfriend, who was a Koch Fellow with the guy who threw the party I went to last night, and who recently held a position on the same law journal as my officemate here at the firm,
-Another fellow Cato intern, who I ran into on the street this week and who is renting a room in the same house currently inhabited by Will Baude,
-The city of Houston, her residence for the last three years and mine for the first decade and a half of my life, and
-Her Boston T encounter with another 2000 Koch intern, a girl who is currently friends with both D's ex-boyfriend from that summer and the ex of our mutual friend and fellow Cato intern H.

The libertarian incest is overwhelming.

New Mieville

Crooked Timber advises me that the new China Mieville book is out. Reviews are mixed, but it's a Bas-Lag book so I'll slog through it despite the Marxist revolutionary nonsense. The only problem is how to fit this into my reading schedule. School starts the week after I return from Europe and I still haven't read Song of Susannah, The Confusion, the last half of Ada, Possession, and another half a dozen books.

On a related note, discussing the relative believability of the last seventy pages of Middlesex, specifically with respect to the likelihood of a teenage intersexed runaway who worked in a San Francisco sex club subsequently getting a State Department job overseas, is probably an unwise topic for mealtime conversation. Especially if the lunch speaker is present.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Not so hypothetical

Say you are an employee of a museum controlled by the federal government, working in the conservation department. Let us assume further that you are female, as are all other members of the conservation department at this museum. An Indian artifact belonging to the museum needs to be conserved, but according to the members of the tribe that created the item, this artifact is a "male object" and may only be handled by men.

Is it legal, under currently existing antidiscrimination law, to prohibit female employees from conserving the object and to transfer you to another museum for one week in exchange for a male conservation employee from that museum? (The male employee is permitted to conserve the object and then returns to his home institution.) Should such catering to the religious/cultural prejudices of the creator tribe be the policy of our federal government? Does your answer change if the item is still owned by the tribe but they wish to permit its display subject to the condition that it only be handled by men?

UPDATE: Curtis references NAGPRA, which apparently establishes that the museum doesn't really own any of the sacred objects in its collection in the first place. The relevant law with respect to this particular museum can be found here. I think the substance with respect to this issue is the same in both pieces of legislation.
UPDATE II: An actual employment law type person weighs in.


Yesterday I emailed the firm's in-house writing coach my memo on a pro bono matter. He is, by all accounts, a stickler for proper everything. I wanted to get decent editorial comments, since this memo is likely (in the absence of any real academic writing on my part) to be my clerkship application writing sample.

The email had a typo. I'll never hear the end of it.


Packing has been a slow and sporadic affair, but with the end of my time in this bohemian little Dupont Circle loft approaching it must be done. Perhaps the most awkward part of it is the culling of unnecessary items over time: deciding what can be packed away already and what is required for the next week or two. (This is vaguely embarrassing, as I am forced to ask myself ,while putting away an armload of long sleeved shirts and decade old baby tees, why exactly I thought I would need these this summer in the first place, and possibly why I still need them at all.)

The book triage is the most difficult. When to pack up the dozen or so books I have somehow acquired over the summer (most of which have not been ready - so busy!), whether some of the yard sale purchases with pages already falling out are disposable, etc. The agony!

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Why I am a small-l libertarian

Dan Alban is tearing the Libertarian Party's VP candidate apart for claiming a PhD from a diploma mill. I approve.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004


More Straussian madness at The Fly Bottle. After spending four years at the home of the West Coast Straussians, I always thought there should be a coastal rivalry a la Tupac and Biggie.

Updated to add this link with one view on the East/West breakdown.

Road to recovery, movie gripes

I think I get more traffic when I take the day off than when I blog regularly. What that says about this blog I don't know.

So my fellow summers are a big bunch of chickens and voted to see The Bourne Supremacy (starring stumpy fireplug Matt Damon) instead of The Village for the firm's "dinner and a movie" outing next week. Blah blah and double blah. I don't even read Robert Ludlum books, so why would I want to see a movie made out of one? I always think of Ludlum/Clancy as the macho chestbeater's equivalent of Danielle Steele or Belva Plain - it's all supermarket rack crap. Then again, I liked Unbreakable, so my taste is considered questionable by many.

I hate you, migraine.

Not at work today, and feeling dizzy/quivery/headachey. Fortunately the memo is not due until tomorrow afternoon, so I can polish it off then.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Random roundup II: now without libertarian sex

Will Wilkinson goes off on Harvey Mansfield.

Interesting thoughts on the Amy Richards/Barbara Ehrenreich abortion kerfuffle. (Via Alas, a Blog)

Waddling Thunder completes Phase 2 of the HLS takeover of Crescat.

Convention blogging

Friend and former boss-lady Christiana Dominguez has some special guests who are blogging from the Democratic National Convention in Boston. Check them out.

Conspicuous consumption

I beg the blogosphere's collective pardon, but this is just silly. If your duvet is ripped, the proper response is probably to sew the rip closed, not to drive all over creation and spend a bunch of money on a new one. Duct tape is right out as well. Maybe there's a good reason needle and thread couldn't solve this problem, but I am skeptical. Then again, I sew up holes in my couch, so I am clearly weird.

Where is Volokh?

I haven't been able to access The Volokh Conspiracy for the last two days. What's up? (Random: IIRC, Professor Volokh met his lovely wife online. Take heart, blog crushers!)

UPDATE: The Conspiracy is back, Seipp has crawled back to her own blog, and all is right with the world.

Blog crushes

Milbarge recently admitted that he, like so many of us, has blog crushes. While internet romance has made major inroads toward respectability, some are still skeptical:
[B]log crushes are wonderful as passive one way daydream inspirations, but probably silly as the seeds of real romance. . . . [T]aking the germ of a fantasy crush and converting it into a relationship between flesh-and-blood peoplewho are no longer projections but instead have pesky details and needs and logistics to contend with is a different thing.

Milbarge is not alone - my name is Amber, and I've had a blog crush. Do not be ashamed, fellow crushers! Blog crushing broadens the pool of potential dates, siphons out the dimwits that flock to and Spring Street personals, and email and comments allow you to hit on people without talking to them - how awesome is that?

I admit that logistics can be a problem, but you can get around that if you try.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

I knew offhand remarks about sex were good for something

I am now an Adorable Little Rodent.

Can I be a squirrel? I am a little squirrelly.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Clerkship slog

I get the feeling that my last weekend in D.C. is going to be spent in a Kinko's, printing out labels and stuffing application packets. Ugh. Mail merge is a wonderful thing, though.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Poem of the Day(s)

The Face we choose to miss --
Be it but for a Day
As absent as a Hundred Years,
When it has rode away.

-Emily Dickinson

Seipp Watch

Narcissistic much?

Brief reaction to The Producers

Last night my firm took us to see The Producers at the Kennedy Center. Fortunately, I was accompanied by a person of impeccable taste who could reassure me that my negative reaction was not the result of a general lack of appreciation for musical theater, but instead was justified by the painfully unfunny and borderline offensive production. I walked out feeling as though I'd been the butt of a bad joke . . . where did they go right, the producers of The Producers, such that this stale camp can get rave reviews? It was not as bad as Urban Cowboy: the Musical. That's about all I can say.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Conversion bafflement

Not being a religious person, perhaps I lack the necessary basis for understanding and judging the religious beliefs of others. However, this is utterly baffling to me: the phenomenon of people who convert to a religion for political reasons.

Now I don't mean people who convert solely for political reasons in some cold and calculating way - the atheist who wants to have a chance at electoral success becoming born again, even if it's only superficial. I am thinking of people who are drawn to a particular faith because they agree with the political stances of that church.

I can understand leaving your current faith for one that also subscribes to the important religious dogma and principles you hold, if your present congregation or sect takes a stand you find objectionable (my grandparents quit attending the Episcopal Church when they began ordaining women, for example). But to join a church that has radically different religious beliefs which you do not yourself possess at present but presumably will convince yourself to adopt later, by whatever strange self-hypnosis you can manage, on the basis of sympathy with the church's political stances (abortion, or social justice, for example) is just utterly amazing to me.

Are people so adept at changing their religious beliefs that they are more willing to convince themselves that bread turns to flesh, that angels appeared to Mohammed or Joseph Smith, or that a certain tribe is the chosen people than they are willing to reconsider their stances on public policy issues? Does no one else see a fundamental disconnect here? How genuine is the belief in this case and how does one manage to blind one's self to the fact that your are only accepting their dogma because they also provide you with political fellowship?

UPDATE: Waddling Thunder
muses about marriage conversions, a similarly puzzling phenomenon.
UPDATE II: Lewis has an example of political conversions from across the pond.

Genetic testing and paternalism

A friend points out this New York Times article on genetic testing. The woman in the article, a PhD candidate in genetics, requested prenatal genetic screening for a variety of defects. However, she still gave birth to a deaf son and her child's condition was not diagnosed for weeks. A simple blood test could have told her of the risk. The reason for not including this test in the battery: deafness is "not considered to be 'severe' or 'life-altering.'" This classification is a direct result of the Deaf community's efforts to not have deafness considered a disease.
Other physicians quoted in the article expressed concerns that bringing up genetic testing could make people feel pressured to abort. One said, "I just feel some people are not ready for some of the information."
This sort of paternalism is appalling. Doctors should make patients aware that genetic testing for defects is an option, and if the patients request testing doctors absolutely should not withhold knowledge of the existence of tests for some conditions due to politically correct concerns. Even if you would not abort a defective fetus, the knowledge that your child may or does have a certain condition would allow you to make necessary preparations for care. Just because many genetic tests are not covered by insurance does not mean that patients should be deprived of access to them. For some, it might be worth the peace of mind to spend out of pocket. Doctors have a professional responsibility to be aware of new tests and an ethical responsibility to allow patients to choose for themselves whether they want the assurance such tests can provide - even if that might mean they would make decisions based on those test results that doctors might not agree with.
In a hurry and hopping mad. More later, perhaps.


I had grand plans to get to work early this morning and attack my most recently assigned project, but waiting almost twenty minutes for a train and getting stuck in the door ruined my schedule. I also have a lunch today and a firm event tonight. Will I finish this project before close of business Friday as requested? Maybe.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Pathetic to what power?

While perusing the sidebar at Begging the Question (Milbarge is guest-blogging at Crescat this week), I noticed a link to Pathetic Geek Stories. This comic is probably familiar to long-time readers of The Onion, although a few months ago it disappeared from its customary place next to Red Meat and moved to its own website. The link reminded me that I once sent in my own pathetic geek story submission. I never heard back - evidently my story was too lame even for for PGS. It may have only been the humbling tale of a badly permed third grader in plastic-framed tinted eyeglasses, her entrepreneurial idea to write love letters for pay, a subsequent crush on her best guy friend, and the painful humiliation of acting as a Cyrano for hire for said friend as he wooed the new girl in our class, who was tall, blonde, pretty, and also named Amber, but it was my story, and pathetic enough, I thought, for comic treatment.

You are so retarded.

Random legal info byte: here's how retarded you have to be for the State of Texas to not be allowed to execute you. You must prove by a preponderance that you meet one of the following standards:

Texas Health and Safety Code, Section 591.003(13): "Mental retardation" means significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning that is concurrent with deficits in adaptive behavior and originates during the developmental period.


American Associate on Mental Retardation: Mental retardation is a disability characterized by significant limitations both in intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior as expressed in conceptual, social, and practical adaptive skills. This disability originates before age 18.

Five Assumptions Essential to the Application of the Definition:
1. Limitations in present functioning must be considered within the context of community environments typical of the individual's age peers and culture.
2. Valid assessment considers cultural and linguistic diversity as well as differences in communication, sensory, motor, and behavioral factors.
3. Within an individual, limitations often coexist with strengths.
4. An important purpose of describing limitations is to develop a profile of needed supports.
5. With appropriate personalized supports over a sustained period, the life functioning of the person with mental retardation generally will improve.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

A price above rubies?

Via Alas, a Blog comes this interesting econometric study on the monetary value of sex and marriage. I'll reserve comment.


I've added some new links to the sidebar, mostly in the "Other Worthy Links" section. Check them out.
Feeling sort of ill - you know what's worse than finding a bug in your gummi bears? Finding half a bug. No, I didn't eat the other half.

Fantastic reading

Light blogging today, since we have a speaker lunch and I have to finish putting together a binder. I put blog breaks on the level of smoke breaks or coffee breaks: concessions to vice that should be minimized.
I encourage you to read instead these posts on China Mieville's The Scar and John Holbo's reply. (Use "ok" for the login and password to access the first two links.) Mieville may be the most inventive and original fantasy writer working today and I'm always happy to publicize his work. However, I encourage new readers to check out Perdido Street Station before The Scar.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Sudden death face-off

Who is the worst Volokh Conspiracy visitor:

Cathy Seipp
Cori Dauber AKA Ranting Prof
Clayton Cramer

UPDATE: Will Baude has a more technologically sophisticated version of this poll.

More nonsense

The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Ninth Level of Hell - Cocytus!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Very Low
Level 2 (Lustful)Very High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Moderate
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Very High
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Extreme
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Extreme
Level 7 (Violent)Extreme
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Very High
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Extreme

Take the Dante Inferno Hell Test

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Turtle pants are also somewhat nifty.

Austin Bramwell is in the New York Times again. But should the conservative movement be led by men wearing pants with monkeys on them?

Don Quixote

On the literature front, yesterday at Monticello I saw Thomas Jefferson's rather well read four volume edition of Don Quixote. This only confirmed my tentative decision to make it my travel book for the Eastern Europe odyssey in August. However, I emailed the fine folks at HarperCollins and found out the the paperback edition of Edith Grossman's new translation does not come out until mid-2005.
Bad news: I have to lug a giant hardcover book around (along with my journal, camera, and guidebook . . . who needs room for clothes?
Good news: thanks to my friend Chris's present, a gift card, I can now get the much desired book for free!

The dawn of my mid-twenties

After yesterday's pleasant jaunt to TJ's house, some friends and I went to The Melting Pot for fondue and then to Ben and Jerry's for ice cream (we would have ordered dessert at the restaurant, but they evilly confine Bananas Foster to the special couples menu, and I can't eat chocolate fondue). All in all, it was a fine birthday. Many thanks to those who posted or emailed with good birthday wishes!

Friday, July 16, 2004

Ovary rosaries?

Yesterday's article on the latest and most radically simplified form of "natural family planning" was interesting, if disheartening. I appreciate that this adds one more choice to women's birth control menu, but what an underwhelming innovation: a bead counter you use to track your cycle? We're too flighty and stupid for calendars and need a shiny plastic toy? If anything, the fact that this is comparable to diaphragms and condoms just highlights how horribly deficient most methods of birth control are.
Ms. Sarah Hempel takes issue with the language used in the article to describe your chances of getting pregnant: "high-risk" and "low-risk," by her reckoning, make pregnancy sound like a disease.  Without entering into the pregnancy: natural or unnatural state? argument, I'll simply point out that the risk being minimized is that of an unwanted pregnancy, which I think almost anyone will acknowledge is undesireable and thus properly characterized as a negative. To refer to days as fertile or non-fertile, besides being deceptive, speaks in the language of the baby-wanting classes: the fertility clinic frequenters, those who are "trying." If you're selling to the aspiring barren wombs of the world, you tailor your language.
UPDATE: The Slithery D points out the kerfuffle over Seasonale. Being able to take control of your body in that particular way is pretty cool, but nothing new, as the article points out. The absolutely revolutionary new birth control method is Essure.

Quote of the Day

"Ronald [Coase] said he had gotten tired of antitrust because when the prices went up the judges said it was monopoly, when the prices went down they said it was predatory pricing, and when they stayed the same they said it was tacit collusion."
--William Landes, "The Fire of Truth: A Remembrance of Law and Econ at Chicago", JLE (1981) p. 193

Jerky boys

The attorneys that look at Ms. Bond funny when she thanks the waitstaff (I just murmur occasionally, myself) are spiritual cousins to the confused lawyers at Ms. Fowler's conference, who, reading between the lines, are probably less than respectful to someone garbed as she is.

Nerdling Olympians

I've already admitted that I don't think sports are particularly important, but this article in Slate on the definitions of sport was a decent read anyway. My personal inclination is that we consider things to be sports if they can be traced, through some tortured connection, to physical preparation for battle. I'm willing to debate that, though.

Confession: I was never on the math team like the Slate author, but I was on the UIL literary criticism team, which had less traditional nerd cred and was infinitely more twee.

Blogger toys

Suddenly yesterday afternoon, my Blogger Dashboard acquired about eight zillion new toolbar options. I don't like it, since it seems that the default font is no longer the one I've been using and thus I don't know if my posts look the same without reloading. Grr. Stupid Blogger, giving me more free toys.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Kozinski at play

Found in the course of my antitrust research: Judge Kozinski's opinion in U.S. v. Syufy. He's incorporated over 200 movie titles into the text of the opinion. This is what happens when geniuses with lifetime appointments get bored.


Heidi does a decent job of IRAC bashing, but I must add one tiny thing about it that aggravated me no end during 1L year: the interaction of IRAC and page limits. Using IRAC entails so much repetitive writing that you have to cram your analysis into less space than you might otherwise have. Perhaps it's good to teach us to be concise, but that goal is at odds with the IRAC method's insistence on redundant content. (Practitioner citations in text instead of footnotes only aggravate this problem. God, I hated FYL.)

Online bake sales for body armor?

Now I don't have time at the moment (or the confidence that it would be work safe) to search FARK, but I distinctly remember a thread organizing donations to purchase body armor for a Farker who was being deployed to Iraq. Can any more regular readers of that dubious forum confirm this? Maybe Eliana is right and any campaign would have been in vain due to the heavy volume of government orders, but I'm not willing to concede the point without some sort of confirmation that the donations were, in the end, not used to purchase body armor.

UPDATE: Spencer at Mediocrity's Co-Pilot has found something to get apoplectic about after all: Eliana!

Color mavens

Is it just me, or do these people sound like they belong on the B ship from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series? I knew there was a secret conspiracy to make me look crappy in beige. (Via Boing Boing)

Walden wants to be free

Eric Eldred, plaintiff in the well-intentioned but ultimately doomed lawsuit against the Mickey Mouse Protection Act (an extension of copyright by Congress that effectively choked off the supply of new public domain works) is in trouble again. This time he was distributing free literature without a permit at the Walden anniversary celebration. Evidently the state's desire for concession fees is more important than the ability of citizens to exercise their First Amendment rights. What possible legitimate concerns about literature distribution could the state have in a situation where people are voluntarily printing out copies of a public domain work?

On an unrelated note, how much longer will I have to wait before someone makes a "Where are They Now?" series about famous Supreme Court plaintiffs? it would be like a cross between VH1 and Court TV. See the awful (and deserved) end of Mr. Miranda! Trace the conversion of Jane Roe from abortion rights plaintiff to pro-life crusader! Find out whatever happened to the star-crossed affair between Mr. Lawrence and, er, that other guy! Surely this would be a hit.

Googlebomb (not whack)

That Timothy Sandefur sure has a crazy girlfriend.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004


I heard that there were some Journal people at the party last weekend who were looking for me in the crowd. I don't know if all of you found me, so if you did not, send me an email.

Hey jealousy

Not that I want to be tethered in this particular way, but I just found out that the summer associates at Cruel & Boring get laptops and Blackberries - burn!


If someone were to steal my credit card information, how much of the resulting false charges would I have to pay? Does this vary from company to company? Does it matter that I didn't subscribe to one of those credit card protection services?

(Don't worry, no one's stolen my card. I need to reserve a hostel room in Prague, though, and they don't have a secure website. Would sending an international fax be better?)

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

I do not like this Red & Blue, I do not like it in a shoe

Although my 24th birthday is coming up, my mental age is evidently much lower. Jake thought International Kissing Day was "junior prom" stuff, but Mitch Webber at Red & Blue puts it at a strictly third grade level. This guy probably hates mistletoe too. If this is a deliberate attempt to bait me, it has succeeded (if belatedly).
If you're getting enough kisses, after all, there's no reason for a day devoted to them
This is completely wrong. Just because you are getting a lot of something doesn't mean you appreciate it. Mr. Webber may think he's too grown up and sexually fulfilled to need a day for kissing, but I suspect that even he could benefit from a little extra perception of its benefits and pleasures.

Oh Clarence, how do I love thee?

Truly disturbing Supreme Court poetry at De Novo (scroll down for more).

Determine my joy/misery

What should I do for my birthday on Saturday? The plan was to go to Monticello, but that's five hours of driving.

Verdict: Monticello!

Litigation Rotation

I officially rotated from the corporate/tax department to the litigation department two weeks ago, but I only just received my first litigation assignments. Two of them are pro bono matters and one is a research assignment. It's nice to have a few different things to do. I find I am more productive when I can switch off when I get bored with researching one issue. Thursday and Friday of last week were hard because I only had one assignment left, and thus when I got bored with that the alternative was not different work but fooling around. Idle hands, etc.

Query: how many Scrabble defeats will it take before I admit Will Baude is the Scrabble champion?
Answer: at least two more.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Note to self

That nice memo template that the firm has? With the date on top? That date is not automatically updated in MS Word, so if you should, say, revise a memo and send it back to the partner, you might want to manually change the date so it doesn't look like you're sending him/her something from two weeks ago. Just a thought.


Check out the new look at Fly Bottle. At some point this blog is going to have to break out of the Blogger template ghetto.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Does this mean I get to smash people with baseball bats at dinner?

Via The Slithery D, a personality test that claims I am the new Al Capone. I doubt this very much, although I do aspire to lead like O-Ren Ishii in Kill Bill.

You are an SRDL--Sober Rational Destructive Leader. This makes you a mob boss. You are the ultimate alpha person and even your friends give you your space. You can't stand whiners, weaklings, schlemiels or schlemozzles. You don't make many jokes, but when you do, others laugh out loud. They must.

People often turn to you for advice, and wisely. You are calm in a crisis, cautious in a tempest, and attuned to even the finest details. Yours is the profile of a smart head for business and a dangerous enemy.

You have a natural knack for fashion and occupy a suit like a matinee idol. Your charisma is striking and without artifice. You are generous, thoughtful, and appreciate life's finer things.

Please don't kick my ass.

Travel books

I need to begin preparations for my eastern European odyssey, which begins August 9th and ends September 3rd. I had planned (for months, ever since I read about it coming out) to take along the new translation of Don Quixote, a book I've never read before but should. However, said tome is still only available in hardcover and is a giant brick, which militates against its being brought on a trip which requires me to live out of this backpack for four weeks.

So: does anyone have any suggestions for alternative reading material? It should be:

-Challenging, if not an acknowledged classic; I read very quickly, and this needs to last me for the entire trip if possible. I tend to read on planes and trains and at night, so typical summer beach books are unsuitable no matter what their page count. No religious texts.
-Available in paperback and preferably small.
-Something I would like. I prefer fiction to non-fiction.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Clerkship judge list triumph

After generous assistance from various amazing people, I have compiled a final list of judges to beg for clerkships. I hope one of the 84 heeds my plea. After some phone calls, I also was able to make sure that all my recommenders' assistants will not destroy me for getting it to them so late. Cross your fingers for me, people, because if I don't get a clerkship after graduation I will be adrift and forlorn.

Is there a lawyer in the house: does anyone know of a good labor law practice in the L.A. area? My friend needs a small amount of legal help.

Men seldom make passes/At girls who wear glasses.

Marginal Revolution points to this article, which claims that rising rates of myopia are the result of nurture, not nature. For those of you who wish to wear spectacles, the desired vision impairment is just a few more years of staring at computer screens away. My vision has not declined since beginning blogging, or even since starting law school (although my optometrist claims that a multiple diopter change during law school is common). I attribute this to getting it over with early by destroying my eyes through overreading by the tender age of eight. They're probably completely egg-shaped by now.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Empty altars everywhere

Will Baude receives a letter from a divorced fellow on the subject of being left at the altar (Will's correspondent would have preferred it). I wholeheartedly agree that the time to leave is before exchanging vows, but the time to do so is not while all are assembled and waiting, but before, so the wedding itself can be delicately cancelled and the groom's agony is not drawn out by forced participation in what was to be a happy gathering (while Miss Manners may think that the party will simply go on with more spice, the party is certainly over for the groom, and I don't think that the gossipy good times of the guests are a deciding factor for him).

I wish to highlight the actual hypothetical at issue, however: this is a choice between abandonment at the altar, before all and sundry, or an immediate annulment or divorce (before any lifestyle changes are made and loans taken out, for example). The latter still seems preferable to me, especially given today's moral norms regarding marriage. Both involve broken promises and heartache, I'd think that most red-blooded American astronauts would be less inclined to want to experience that in a very public setting. Is it better to be looked at with suspicion and possibly moral opprobrium or to be a figure of pity? I hate to be pitied.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Clerkship application rant

So I'm finalizing my judge list for clerkship applications, and boy is this not fun. The reviews on the OCS website are almost all bland positive assessments. The one exception I found was for someone who reviewed a District Judge in Virginia who rejected him. Unfortunately, while rejected applicants are more informative about the judge's personality, they can say little about working for the judge, so it's a tough researching road. I am adding some more district judges to my list due to last semester's grading disappointments (although it appears that my Discrimination professor displeased many people, so at least I did not suffer alone). I don't see how anyone can apply to as many judges (60-80) as we are goaded to and also only apply to judges you know you'd want to work for. I don't know anyone who worked for them and the Greedy Clerks board is no help. Fortunately, my partner mentor person is going to look at my list and give me the lowdown on any of the judges on it that he knows. At least that's some first hand information.

Minor quibble: now we apply after two years' worth of grades instead of one. That's all well and good - larger sample and all that. But the law school curriculum in the first year is relatively standardized. 1L grades are roughly comparable from school to school. 2L year you can go hogwild and stuff your schedule with clinicals and fluffy seminars if you want. How can judges compare applicants in the same way with this immensely variable factor? Augh.

Kissing for kids?

Jake at Overcoming Unmündigkeit emails me with a Kissing Day post but simultaneously calls the blog celebration via poetry "cloying" and "juvenile." He caps this with the assertion that I would also probably think "International Junior Prom Day" was a good idea. I actually didn't go my junior prom. However, Jake comes around in the end and chips in the e.e. cummings poem we saw on Three Years of Hell and Crescat.

Update: this post corrected to remove some misdirected annoyance.


Someone was doing more than just kissing over the long weekend . . . Who's the lucky lady?

Lunch break movie review

Better late than never: my impressions of Spider-Man 2 [minor spoilers].

Over the weekend I caught a showing of Spider-Man 2. The fellow on my left [note: this was not Will Baude] was a compulsive commenter on the obvious ("Wow, could anything else go wrong for [Peter]? His life really sucks!") and the previews were terrible. Aside from those minor problems, the moviegoing experience was pretty decent. Like X-Men 2, Spider-Man 2 is an improvement partially because it got all the backstory and exposition over with and could concentrate on the characters. Mary Jane was far more fleshed out in this one, although the basic feminist insight that she should be permitted to decide for herself whether to accept the risks involved in being Peter's girlfriend seemed to dawn on her rather slowly (and on Peter not at all). Some scenes taken directly from comic panels worked, like the shot of Peter discarding his costume, whereas the extended and unnecessary Uncle Ben sequence was just tedious. In a movie this long, the fat should have been cut.

Good sequences: Spider-Man being crucified on the front of a train car, Peter at the society ball, and the parts with his landlord.

Bad or boring bits: Aunt May on why we need heroes, the aforementioned Uncle Ben in heaven (very Defending Your Life, with all the glowing white background), and the cheesy fusion pseudo-science.

Random aside: that Harry kid has some serious guts. If I were being dangled over a ledge by a totally insane scientist with robot arms who wanted things from me, the first words out of my mouth would not be "let's make a deal." They would include screaming and promising anything he wanted if only he wouldn't kill me.

The main topic of post-movie conversation was whether it is more humiliating for a man to be left at the altar or for the marriage to be immediately annulled. I contend that the former is more pathetic and tars one forever with a relatively rare brand of public and expensive rejection in front of all your loved ones. Divorce or annulment, while traditionally stigmatized, is so commonplace as to have little weight in this day and age.

What would you rather be, fellows: abandoned at the altar or abruptly divorced after the ceremony? Which option is more humiliating?

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Kissing Day Round-Up

I hope everyone is having a sweet and lovely Kissing Day. Here's a round-up of today's kissing posts:

One Sided Wonder recounts a sacrilegious kissing story.
Mediocrity's Co-Pilot celebrates with two poems.
Mr. Poon works some kisses into his busy bar prep schedule.
Sheila O'Malley lists her top five kisses.
Ex Parte has a Kissing Day announcement that stresses the innocent aspects of kissing (self link).
Freespace has an original poem.
Crescat provides a Scottish ballad and some hot Neruda.
Singing Loudly posts Anne Sexton's The Kiss.
Waddling Thunder comes up just short of waving a stick and telling us all to get off his lawn.

Shoot me an email if you have a post to add to the parade of kisses.

International Kissing Day is Today!

To A Kiss

Humid seal of soft affections,
Tend'rest pledge of future bliss,
Dearest tie of young connections,
Love's first snow-drop, virgin kiss.
Speaking silence, dumb confession,
Passion's birth, and infants' play,
Dove-like fondness, chaste concession,
Glowing dawn of brighter day.
Sorrowing joy, adieu's last action,
Ling'ring lips, -- no more to join!
What words can ever speak affection
Thrilling and sincere as thine!

-Robert Burns

Monday, July 05, 2004

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth

(While the object of Kissing Day is to appreciate kissing as an end unto itself, I am mindful that kisses can lead to other delicious things.)

Her breath is like honey spiced with cloves,
Her mouth delicious as a ripened mango.
To press kisses on her skin is to taste the lotus,

The deep cave of her navel hides a stone of spices
What pleasure lies beyond, the tongue knows,
But cannot speak of it.


Because some days require stupid funny things

Seeing photos of Saddam Hussein in business casual makes me really uncomfortable. This still made me laugh, though.

Somewhere out there is a South Park-themed Saddam and Satan Photoshop.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Happy Fourth

Lest I be found remiss in my promotional duties, today's kissing poem:

The fountains mingle with the river,
And the rivers with the ocean,
The winds of heaven mix forever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by law divine
In one another's being mingle;--
Why not I with thine?

See the mountains kiss high heaven
And the waves clasp one another
No sister flower would be forgiven
If it disdained its brother;
And sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea;
What are all these kissings worth
If thou kiss not me?

- Percy Bysshe Shelley

Spider Man 2 review to come.

Saturday, July 03, 2004


I had originally planned to see De-Lovely this weekend, but the negative reviews have pushed it back to a rental prospect (perhaps a double bill with the Cary Grant version). The song from which the movie takes its title, though, is still very fine and involves kissing:

I feel a sudden urge to sing the kind of ditty that invokes the Spring
So, control your desire to curse while I crucify the verse
This verse I've started seems to me the "Tin Pan-tithesis" of melody
So to spare you all the pain, I'll skip the darn thing and sing the refrain

The night is young, the skies are clear
And if you want to go walkin', dear
It's delightful, it's delicious, it's de-lovely

I understand the reason why
You're sentimental, 'cause so am I
It's delightful, it's delicious, it's de-lovely

You can tell at a glance what a swell night this is for romance
You can hear, dear Mother Nature murmuring low "Let yourself go"

So please be sweet, my chickadee
And when I kiss ya, just say to me
"It's delightful, it's delicious, it's delectable, it's delirious,
It's dilemma, it's de limit, it's deluxe, it's de-lovely"

You can tell at a glance what a swell night this is for romance
You can hear dear Mother Nature murmuring low "Let yourself go"

So please be sweet, my chickadee
And when I kiss ya, just say to me
"It's delightful, it's delicious, it's delectable, it's delirious,
It's dilemma, it's de limit, it's deluxe, it's de-lovely"

P.S. I'm going to Spider-Man 2 instead. Whee.

Friday, July 02, 2004


A friend emails:
How would you answer the criticism that Kissing Day is just another way to make terminally single people feel stupid? I ask not only, or even primarily, for myself - think of all of the single-girl-bitching about Valentine's Day we hear every year. Imagine that, twice a year. Horrifying.
A difficult problem, and related to the one Curtis highlighted. There are a variety of possible responses:

-Holidays are not always meant to be celebrated by everyone, so you shouldn't feel left out if you abstain from Kissing Day festivities due to a lack of kissable partners any more so than men feel left out of National Breast Cancer Month (yes, I know men *also* get breast cancer, but go with it) or those of us without a talent for mimicking Johnny Depp felt left out of Talk Like a Pirate Day.
-The non-commercial nature of Kissing Day militates against the expectations that produce some of the single-person backlash on Valentine's Day. It's a day for quiet reflection and quiet smooching.
-This is a kick in the pants for you singles. I'm not telling you to go out and find a Valentine, a true love, a sweetheart. I'm telling you to find someone to kiss! It's an important first step on the road to these other things, perhaps, but it's much more manageable to find someone willing to accept a peck than it is to find someone willing to spend a connotation laden hypercommercialized holiday with. Baby steps, people.

Poor form

I do not recommend stealing kisses on Kissing Day, as not all juries are so lenient.

Never enough kisses

Give me a kiss, add to that kiss a score;
Then to that twenty, add a hundred more:
A thousand to that hundred: so kiss on,
To make that thousand up a million.
Treble that million, and when that is done,
Let's kiss afresh, as when we first begun.

-- Robert Herrick

Let us live, my Lesbia, and let us love,
and let us judge all the rumors of the old men
to be worth just one penny!
The suns are able to fall and rise:
When that brief light has fallen for us,
we must sleep a never ending night.
Give me a thousand kisses, then another hundred,
then another thousand, then a second hundred,
then yet another thousand more, then another hundred.
Then, when we have made many thousands,
we will mix them all up so that we don't know,
and so that no one can be jealous of us when he finds out
how many kisses we have shared.
You ask, Lesbia, how many kissings
of you are enough and to spare for me.
As great as the number of the sands of Lybia
to be found in silphium-bearing Cyrene
between Jove's torrid oracle
and the sacred tomb of legendary Battus;
or as many the stars which in the silence of night
behold the stealthy loves of mankind:
so many kisses to kiss you with
would be enough and spare for love-crazed Catullus,
too many for the inquisitive to be able to count
or bewitch with their evil tongues.

-- Catullus

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Kissing Day Conspiracy Theories

Timothy Sandefur apparently has confused my light-hearted efforts to establish Kissing Day in the U.S.A. with that insidious candy-company holiday, Sweetest Day. Let me assure you all of the following:

-I own no stock in greeting card or candy companies, nor do I intend to acquire any.
-I am doing my best make others aware of the day's existence so fewer strange looks or catcalls will be thrown about. We may not need a holiday, but I like excuses to kiss and be kissed.
-While kids today are not ignorant of the pleasures of kissing, I do contend that they are less conscious of kissing as an end unto itself, as opposed to a mere step on the path to more intimate activities. Let us use Kissing Day as a time to remember our best kisses, practice new ones, and renew our appreciation for this age-old pasttime.
-Celebrating Kissing Day can be done in whatever fashion you like. Despite Mr. Sandefur's concerns about propriety, one can celebrate throughout the day with any consenting parties you choose. Kissing is a broad category of action that can include the chaste and friendly cheek kiss as well as the ten hour snog (that's much longer than my record!).
-Don't feel compelled to buy anything! Kisses are free as air, and almost as necessary.

Waking up to a kiss is a fine thing.

I wake up in your bed. I know I have been dreaming.
Much earlier, the alarm broke us from each other,
you've been at your desk for hours. I know what I dreamed:
our friend the poet comes into my room
where I've been writing for days,
drafts, carbons, poems are scattered everywhere,
and I want to show her one poem
which is the poem of my life. But I hesitate,
and wake. You've kissed my hair
to wake me. I dreamed you were a poem,
I say, a poem I wanted to show someone . . .
and I laugh and fall dreaming again
of the desire to show you to everyone I love,
to move openly together
in the pull of gravity, which is not simple,
which carried the feathered grass a long way down the upbreathing air.

-Adrienne Rich