Saturday, December 31, 2005

A3G is Back

Underneath Their Robes is back online.

50 Book Challenge #75: In the Heart of the Sea

For my last 50 Book Challenge selection, I picked In the Heart of the Sea, a dramatic tale of nautical woe. It tells the true story that inspired Moby-Dick: that of the Essex, a Nantucket whaling vessel attacked and sunk by an implacable cetacean. Thanks to their unwarranted fear of cannibals, the survivors of the Essex chose to sail against the prevailing winds and currents toward South America, instead of the one week voyage to Tahiti. After three months at sea, the remaining whalers were rescued from their tiny boats, but not before they resorted to cannibalism.

Philbrick does a good job of illustrating both the rigors of the whaler's life and the horror of the survivors' long trip home. If you liked Regina v. Dudley & Stephens, you will like this book.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Who's Your Celebrity Inspiration?

When I worked in New York, the female interns spent what was probably far too much time discussing who our celebrity fashion inspiration should be. The idea was to find the celebrity who looked the most like you and embrace that person's hair, makeup, and clothing choices, presumably because they had consultants who were paid thousands of dollars who could reveal what the best colors were for a given complexion or the best haircut for a certain face shape. I was never good at this because I don't really look like or strongly identify with any celebrity. The closest I could come was Phoebe Cates, who my dad used to claim I bore some resemblance to (I hope he meant Gremlins Phoebe and not Fast Times Phoebe, because: ew!), but she has largely dropped out of the public eye since marrying Kevin Kline and devoting herself to making babies.

Fortunately, technology can now solve this dilemma. Via E. McPan, I found this neat toy that analyzes your face and tells you what celebrity you most resemble. I used this picture because it fit their requirements of being forward-facing and high resolution. To my partial dismay, my top matches were Neve Campbell (65%), Kirsten Dunst (64%), and Audrey Tautou (64%). Neve's not known for being a fashion plate, and while Audrey is lovely, Kirsten is a walking fashion don't much of the time and thus kills my budding inspiration to dress better.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

In which I link approvingly to Ann Althouse

Ann Althouse on the limbo debate:
Is religion about consolation? Is it about consolation because it's really about expansion and consolation works? Is it about consolation because it's really about expansion and the greatest potential for expansion is among the poorest people who really need consolation? I don't see how any of that has anything to do with whether limbo in fact exists.

Echo Chamber Watch

I enjoy reading feminist blogs, even though my libertarian beliefs probably preclude most of the authors of those blogs from considering me a real feminist. Because I'm aware that my kind is not exactly welcome there, I rarely comment, but it's nice to know that I could. Unfortunately, there's a movement afoot on one of the more prominent feminist blogs to restrict comments in certain discussions to radical feminists only. Read the discussion that appends this post for a vaguely creepy description of how the poster sniffs out men and other undesireables.

A previous post on a related topic is here.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

50 Book Challenge #74: Hammered

After seeing her name bandied about for some months, I decided to pick up Elizabeth Bear's first novel at the Clerksville library. (Fortunately for Ms. Bear, that humble institution has not fallen victim to the classic library blunder of stocking only book two or only books one and three of a trilogy, which has kept me from reading many a series).

Hammered is not as gritty as most vaguely post-apocalyptic SF, but that's because we don't see the chaos that the U.S. and other more equatorial nations have become; instead, Canada takes center stage and becomes just as manipulative and competitive as its neighbor to the south ever was. The actual story is a character-driven mystery involving tainted drugs, dead cops, and an old half-cyborg soldier who the government wants to bring out of retirement for upgrades. I'm curious to see where Bear goes from here. Good thing both subsequent volumes are waiting for me.

J.Crew can bite me.

I don't know why I keep returning, like a dog to its own vomit, to J.Crew. I had perhaps the most traumatic shopping experience of my life when I tried to order some dresses from them in 2003 (I'll post the story this weekend). They almost never have anything in my size at a reasonable price. But I still ordered this jacket in black, because hope springs eternal.

After some uncertainty, I placed the order. A large box arrived. The package slip asserted that a size 0P Hayden tweed jacket was within. This was false, but I did like the rather dissimilar black jacket they sent instead. I reordered the Hayden tweed jacket on 15 December. A confirmation number was provided and my order claimed to be "pending."

I checked on the status and was informed by their customer service that the order had been cancelled (they claim to have called, which is odd, considering communications on orders are usually by email) and now the jacket is completely unavailable as petite sizes are not carried in stores and there are no more in the warehouse. They then put out an APB on a size 0 Hayden tweed jacket in the retail stores and called yesterday to say they couldn't find one.

All this is really irking me, since I would have purchased a size 0 in one of their retail stores weeks ago when I was traveling, had I but known that they were so flaky. Grr.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Sunday Bake: Lemon Bars

First of all, these are more like lemon squares. Second, they require a nine inch square baking pan, which my mother always had and which I thought was a standard size, but apparently all nine inch pans have dropped off the face of the planet, or at least have in Clerksville. I used an eight inch pan and discarded some of the crust. Third, I made these yesterday, so it's really a Saturday bake.

Lemon Bars
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small chunks

Line pan in foil and lightly grease it. Put dry ingredients in food processor, briefly mix, then add butter and process briefly until it has a coarsely mealy consistency. Press into bottom of pan to depth of 1/4 inch. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, then bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Warning: make the crust first!

7 large egg yolks and 2 large eggs
1 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
2/3 cup lemon juice and 1/4 cup lemon zest
Pinch salt (which I forgot)
4 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp cream

Whisk eggs and yolks briefly, then whisk in sugar to just blend. Add lemon juice and zest and whisk for 5 seconds. Cook mixture in medium saucepan until the mixture thickens slightly and reaches 170 degrees (5-6 minutes). Pour mixture through strainer (which removes all the zest) and stir in the cream. Pour filling into the warm crust and bake 10 to 15 minutes at 350, until filling is opaque and only jiggles in the middle. Cool on a wire rack for 45 minutes. Cut into squares, cleaning the knife after each cut. Dust tops with additional powdered sugar.

I would have a picture, but I took all the pretty ones to the judge for his Christmas dinner.

50 Book Challenge #71, 72, & 73: Monstrous Regiment, Going Postal, & Thud!

Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels are usually good for a bit of light amusement, so I picked up some of his most recent ones at the Clerksville library. Monstrous Regiment had an interesting conceit, but took it one step too far. Maybe the wry lesson toward the end is more biting if you're in a country enlightened enough to elect a female head of state. Going Postal has the virtues of being set in Ankh-Morpork and of being about the post office (bringing one aspect of the 50 Book Challenge full circle), although I found the golems to be more interesting than most of the human characters. Thud! was just boring: too much spiritual mumbo-jumbo and weird racial warfare, not enough Vetinari, and altogether too much reading of Where's My Cow?

Saturday, December 24, 2005

And the winners are . . .

Using a holistic method of preference assessment based on these votes and a generous dose of Fowler-induced authoritarianism, I hereby declare these to be the first four selections for the 2006 Blog Book Club, to be hosted at Prettier Than Napoleon until further notice:

January: Blindness
February: On Beauty
March: Saturday
April: Anansi Boys

You have until the last day of each month to read the book in question and write a brief piece on your thoughts and views. If you have a blog, send me a link to your post and I will post all links in one omnibus posting on the last day of the month. Please enable comments if you have them so other readers can discuss your reaction to the book. If you do not have a blog but wish to write a post, email the text to me by the deadline and I will put it up as a guest post on PTN.

I hope that we can all have a little fun reading and discussing these books.

Friday, December 23, 2005

HLS and the California Bar Exam

The California Bar just released the July 2005 exam results, broken down by school. HLS fared relatively poorly:

First-Time Takers
Took: 87
Passed: 73
Pass Rate: 84%

Took: 3
Passed: 0
Pass Rate: 0%

It would appear that one of the fourteen first-time-takers to fail was Kathleen Sullivan. Others were my classmates. Among the schools with better pass rates for first-timers were Yale, Stanford, Columbia, BYU, Duke, the Franklin Pierce Law Center (a Tier 3), and UCLA.

UPDATE: A former classmate points out that the above stats do not include takers of the attorneys' exam like Sullivan. I stand corrected.

Blog Book Poll Ends Today

If you're interested in joining the 2006 Blog Book Club, cast your vote for what book(s) we should read. Votes will be tallied this evening.

Curb Your Hairdo

I just started watching Curb Your Enthusiasm, and so far my strongest reaction has been to Larry David's head. I was totally convinced that he was wearing a rubber pate because, really, what wealthy person would walk around with that appalling matted fringe? The man looks like a hobo. Then I checked IMDB and that is, astonishingly, his real head.

The show is funny, but I'm withholding any further judgment until I've recovered from the shock of that being someone's actual scalp.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Celebrity Perjury: Contrast and Compare

Perjurer #1: Lil' Kim. Lied to a grand jury, got 366 days in jail.

Perjurer #2: Renee "The Squint" Zellweger. Lied in her annulment filing and admitted to having done so. Result: no punishment, annulment granted.

Something stinks here.

How to have a headache

1. Open new packages of contact lenses.
2. Put 4.0 in right eye and 3.0 in left eye.
3. Realize after hours of pain that this was backwards.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Addictive White Substances

Full-fat dairy products will be my undoing.

My local grocery store sells milk from a dairy in a rural part of the state. It comes in glass bottles with charmingly bad punctuation and is the most addictive natural substance to ever pass my lips. Seriously, this milk is like crack. I have become a milk pusher. I recommend it to everyone, even strangers at the checkout counter. In college, I virtuously trained myself to drink 2% instead of whole, but the whole milk version of the crack milk is so. good. that I end up buying it about half the time (although the 2% crack milk is better than regular whole milk from the plastic jug).

I had noticed that they also carried a "creamline" version of the crack milk, but only today did I get around to looking up what that means. It's not homogenized. This rocks my entire world. Between this and the tiny cups of whole milk yogurt I love to eat for breakfast, though, I may need to start hitting the gym.

I got your War on Christmas right here.

All this bellyaching about there being a war on Christmas makes me sick. Okay, that's a lie. Christmas makes me sick. I'm allergic to evergreens. All of them. Scotch Pine? Douglas Fir? Those stupid little juniper plants in a pot? Horribly freaking allergic. And thanks to Christian co-opting of pagan religious tradition, everyone and their brother thinks that chopping down perfectly happy evergreen trees and dragging them into climate controlled buildings is a dandy idea. Thanks so much for adding pine pollen to the constantly recirculating air of my office tower. I enjoy spending much of the holiday season with itching, swollen eyes and a constantly dripping nose thanks to your obsession with stinky greenery. If it were not an egregious violation of the property rights I hold in high regard, I would pile all of your Christmas trees, wreaths, and other miscellaneous evergreen detritus into a massive A&M-style bonfire and torch it.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

I don't need herbal enhancers to feel good about myself.

On the one hand, I am pleased to see a fellow member of the Wonky Nose Club embraced as attractive by mass media. On the other hand, Hilary Duff's sister? Not hot. Even with massive amounts of retouching.

"For people with noses"

So claim the instructions on the neti pot I bought. My nose did appreciate it, although my ear did not. It dislikes being filled with water.

50 Book Challenge #70: Girl in Landscape

Girl in Landscape has more of a standard SF plotline than my previous Lethem outing, but despite loving tales of interplanetary travel and ambiguously sexual relationships with new life forms, I liked this book a little less than I expected. It's most perceptive as a character study of a thirteen year old girl in the liminal zone between childhood and adulthood, and the setting is almost superfluous, save as a mechanism for allowing the characters access to secret knowledge of others (Pella, the young girl, picks up an ability to travel outside her body from viruses on the new planet). Interesting, but understated.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Craving, Raving

For the entire day, I've been craving egg nog. I've no family tradition of consuming this beverage, and it is objectively disgusting. What I wouldn't give for a Madrigal mug full of nog, though.

UPDATE: A libertarian-approved egg nog recipe.

Blog Book Club Poll

After testing the waters on the blog book club idea, I thought it might be a doable proposition for the new year. (I've very much enjoyed the 50 Book Challenge, but it's time for something fresh.) A blog book club would involve reading one book per month and then writing up a brief post with your thoughts that the rest of the participants could comment on. For those of you who don't have blogs but would like to write something, I'd be happy to host guest posts. Posts would be due at the end of the month and I (or another host) would post links to all the book club members' posts. You wouldn't have to read every book, of course.

If you're interested in being part of this little endeavor, please vote for January's book by leaving a comment to this post. Write-ins are encouraged; votes will be tallied on Friday morning. A list of candidates:

Zadie Smith, On Beauty
Ian McEwan, Saturday
Mary Gaitskill, Veronica
E.L. Doctorow, The March
Nicole Krauss, The History of Love
Orhan Pamuk, Snow
Neil Gaiman, Anansi Boys
Sebastian Barry, A Long, Long Way
Jose Saramago, Blindness

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Sunday Bake: Scones

While my officemates groan when I bring baked goods to work, somehow they manage to make them disappear nonetheless. Today's attempt at yumminess: cranberry orange scones from The Best Recipe.

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
5 tbsp cold butter, cut into 1 cm cubes
1 tsp orange zest
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup heavy cream

Whisk the first four ingredients together and then add the butter. Crumble butter into the dry ingredients until it achieves a coarsely mealy consistency with a few larger lumps. You may now add the zest and berries. You can sub in lemon zest and blueberries if you like.

Then stir in the cream and knead the resulting dough until the floury bits have all disappeared into a large, slightly sticky ball. Press the dough into a round cake pan, turn it out, and cut the circle into eighths. Bake on a ungreased cookie sheet at 425 for 12-15 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes on a rack. Eat.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

King Kong

Some people might think I'm lame for choosing to support Peter Jackson's latest endeavor instead of going to see other movies which look equally interesting, but I've liked his work since The Frighteners, so I went to King Kong this afternoon with a merry heart, sure that I would be entertained for three solid hours by New Zealand's greatest export. The film does not disappoint, and there's something for everyone: thrills, chills, a soaking wet Naomi Watts, a shirtless Adrien Brody, dinosaurs that put those in Jurassic Park to shame, disturbingly suggestive killer worms, the best native sacrifice since Nate & Hayes, and a Koko reference.

This may be nerd heresy, but I found this a better three hours of entertainment than the LOTR movies, which had some pacing problems and taunted informed viewers with their cherry-picked content from the books. Go and see King Kong. It's one of the few big-budget effects extravaganzas that's worth the money.

Friday, December 16, 2005

50 Book Challenge #69: Under the Banner of Heaven

The trouble with a book using material ripped from the headlines is that for those of us who read the headlines, the stories have less punch. So with Under the Banner of Heaven. I always read up on polygamous fundamentalist Mormon communities when they are in the news, and so the rough outlines of much of Krakauer's stories were familiar: teenage girls married off to old men, widespread sexual abuse, arbitrary reassignment of wives and children by patriarchal prophet figures . . . it's sad and awful, but I'd seen it all before. The double murder of a wife and daughter, information on which is interspersed with historical coverage and examination of polygamous communities, doesn't have as much to set it apart from other murders as Krakauer seems to think it does. Then again, maybe I just have seen too many headlines about mothers killing children or husbands killing wives because of some personal or culturally pervasive religious message. What was this but a glorified honor killing?

Krakauer's coverage of Mormon history was more informative, although lacking in detail, and he gave short shrift to doctrine, which I would have found useful in interpreting the behavior of the personages and groups he discussed. As an informative work, this is inadequate; as an attempt to shock, it fails. I was underwhelmed.

UPDATE: Timothy Sandefur, who was more impressed with the book than I was, has the latest news and some useful links re: the Colorado City fundamentalists. I can't help but think that stopping these people is a little more worthy than cracking down on obscenity.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Men, Women, and Movies

Mickey Kaus thinks Brokeback Mountain will be a bust because no het men will want to see a movie without a hot leading lady. Setting aside the obvious rejoinder re: the massive popularity among men of movies featuring few romantic female characters, shouldn't women be flocking to this in droves? After all, they think everything's hot, and the female-dominated slash genre shows if there's anything ladies like more than one vulnerable man in a romantic scenario, it's two such men, with no woman around to simultaneously identify and compete with. Bear in mind that it's googly-eyed females who made the all-time box office champ so successful.

Let's all go to the movies! Or not.

Am I the only one who, in this new era of obsessing over opening weekend grosses, makes her weekly entertainment decisions based on what culture-war-flogging headline she doesn't want to appear on Monday? Okay then.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Cat Pix Blog

Snape can play fetch.

Lily is a mountaineer.

The new camera is pretty good with details.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Shipping News

In the course of clicking around, I discovered the following discussion.

A customer complained that certain online businesses had shipping charges that far exceeded what he knew to be the cost of shipping an item of that size and weight via common carrier. The customer indicated that he sometimes chose not to make certain purchases on the basis of the shipping charges alone. The proprietor of the business in question then stepped in to confirm that her shop, like most online vendors of its type, based shipping charges on the cost of the items purchased. This leads to absurd results like $10-25 shipping fees for items no larger than a paperback book.

My question: why would a vendor in an industry selling mostly fungible merchandise choose this absurd method of charging for shipping? Granted, shipping charges often do not appear until an order is one click away from being transmitted, but isn't the way clear for someone to take an Amazon-style Super Saver/flat rate approach and leech customers?

Love on the big and small screens

Lance Mannion discusses his aversion to Hollywood romance. He finds it difficult to cheer on many of the couples in recent movies. Who are your favorite screen couples? I cheered hard for Dawn and Tim in The Office (they get together in the Christmas special, which played out like a fanfic turned into a script but was fun to watch anyway). I also root for Max and Margaret at the end of Rushmore, but that's a given. Thoughts?

Monday, December 12, 2005

Random Roundup XIII

- How to buy a bra. More here.

- An ethical "dilemma."

- Matt Yglesias likes "My Humps." It reminds me of cancer, oatmeal, and better songs about golddiggers.

- Race riots in Australia. An Aussie perspective is here. (That MeFi thread also contains an exhaustive analysis of Australian racial slurs.)

Unrelatedly: now that Article III Groupie is no more, how am I supposed to find out the names of the rest of the new Supreme Court clerks?

Of interest to Firefly fans

Mal's browncoat went for $12,372 on Ebay last week.

A Sickly Amber is a Bad Blogger

I haven't been doing much blogging of late, but I hope you can excuse that, since I spent the greater part of yesterday being very, very sick.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Ding Dong

Reading these posts at Magic Cookie reminded me of our college tradition of posting rejection letters upside down on the doors of our dorm rooms. Did other people do this? I suppose it only really works as a community building/self-deprecation tool if you live in a dormitory.

In my 1L year, none of the jobs I applied for sent actual paper evidence of rejection so I didn't get to share the embarassment with my neighbors. I think the rejection e-mail is gaining acceptance among employers. This seems fair to me if the firm accepts resumes via e-mail. I hate shelling out money for nice paper for nothing.

Friday, December 09, 2005

C is for cookie

True or false: shortbread cookies are grandma cookies.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Date Line

What is dating?

I remember talking about boys with my mother when I was in high school and her asking why I didn't just date more than one person at the same time if I wanted. In context, that would have resulted in my being dubbed a complete whore, and I was flabbergasted that she would even suggest such a thing. Things change, I suppose.

50 Book Challenge #68: As She Climbed Across The Table

This book reminded me a bit of some other books from this year. It has the same decidedly modern sensibility as the Jeanette Winterson books I've read, but is far more structured. Where Winterson is impressionistic, Lethem is neat and linear. It also put me in mind of On Love, since Lethem spends a fair amount of time documenting the precise sensations generated by the desertion of a loved one. As She Climbed Across The Table is more than just a love story, although one lies at its core.

The stable romance between Philip, an interdisciplinary studies guru, and Alice, a physicist, derails after an experiment in creating new universes goes awry and produces the entity the faculty dubs "Lack." Lack, an invisible void hovering above a table in the physics department, accepts offerings of certain objects but not others. His inscrutable preferences intrigue Alice, and she is drawn into an obsession. Will Philip coax Alice into rejoining the world or will Lack suck Alice into a mysterious new plane, leaving Philip alone?

This book is very cleverly written, and Philip, while a caricature of an academic, is sincere and believable as a man bereft. Recommended.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

More Snape! (not the cat)

I finally got to watch Harry Potter 3 this weekend, and I was underwhelmed. The sound seemed very fuzzy and we didn't get a lot of background on Moony, Padfoot, and Prongs. When, if ever, will the movies reveal Snape's motivations? How will they convincingly depict the later books if these are not made plain? More Alan Rickman, please.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Save me from food poisoning

If, hypothetically, someone shipped me a pecan pie, but my apartment office forgot to put out a package slip and it sat in an unrefrigerated closet for a week, would I get sick from eating it? They sell mini pecan pies in convenience stores. This pie is endorsed by Oprah and I don't want to throw it out unless I have to.

UPDATE: The packaging claims it is good for three weeks if unrefrigerated. Woot! Pie for dinner.

Reducing Abortions

Megan McArdle has an interesting post on the efficacy of certain proposals aimed at reducing the abortion rate. Everyone knows that there are European countries with strong sex ed programs, easy access to contraceptives and lower abortion rates than America. Latin America's illegalization strategy doesn't seem to work. Where do McArdle's points fit into this problem?

Blog Book Club?

Jared asks:
Hey, what about a blog book club? . . . you could blog about the books, with blog/book readers commenting on them.
Would any of the readers or commenters be interested in participating in something like this?

Monday, December 05, 2005

Shopping Question

I recently bought this skirt from J. Crew in ecru. It is lovely and feminine and delightful. However, I did not buy the matching jacket at that time. Now I have found the jacket on another website in my size (P0), but only in the black. I have actually been wanting a black blazer-type jacket for some time to wear with other stand-alone wool slacks and skirts. Should I splurge on the black jacket? Can I wear the black jacket with the ecru skirt, or will that look stupid?

The look of love

Up until this point, my enjoyment of Bogart movies was always dimmed by an inability to suspend my disbelief that someone who looked like, say, Bergman, would ever fall for someone who looked like Bogie, personality notwithstanding. Last night, though, I finally got around to watching To Have and Have Not and realized that falling in love works two ways; it makes the person you're falling in love with beautiful to you, but it makes you handsome, too. Bacall and Bogart both glow. It's very striking.

Serenity Puppet Theatre

Via Karl, Serenity reenacted with hand puppets.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


Any Columbia Law School readers know who sent this in to PostSecret?

Ouch squared: Kathleen Sullivan, former dean of Stanford Law School and author of the leading casebook on constitutional law, failed California's July exam.

50 Book Challenge #66 & 67: A Canticle for Leibowitz & The Wise Woman

Black magic and nuclear weapons both inexorably lead to tragedy.

The Wise Woman walks the line between historical fiction and romance novel territory better than Outlander did, if only because every attempt by the protagonist, Alys, to achieve traditional romance novel goals brings her closer to destruction. It's a little cheesy, and a little unsettling, and more realistic about women's roles in Tudor society than you (and Alys) expect.

Miller's novel has a slow start (I started to read it years ago and abandoned it for that reason) but eventually winds through the rebirth and inevitable descent of human civilization after a 1950s nuclear apocalypse. It's mostly set in a monastery, which partially explains the lack of female characters, but by the end this absence began to grate.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

How the mighty have fallen

I used to be much more of a reader than I am now. Now that reading has been firmly associated with work, I mostly stick to escapist fare. I noticed when I was home for Thanksgiving that my grandmother had this book on her to-buy list. For comparison, this book's on mine. At least there's one intellectually curious person left in the family.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Passing the sell-by date

John Derbyshire, resident contrarian and cranky Tory on the Corner, likes his ladies barely legal. In his latest NRO column, he declared:
Did I buy, or browse, a copy of the November 17 GQ, in order to get a look at Jennifer Aniston's bristols?** No, I didn't. While I have no doubt that Ms. Aniston is a paragon of charm, wit, and intelligence, she is also 36 years old. Even with the strenuous body-hardening exercise routines now compulsory for movie stars, at age 36 the forces of nature have won out over the view-worthiness of the unsupported female bust.

It is, in fact, a sad truth about human life that beyond our salad days, very few of us are interesting to look at in the buff. Added to that sadness is the very unfair truth that a woman's salad days are shorter than a man's -- really, in this precise context, only from about 15 to 20. The Nautilus and the treadmill can add a half decade or so, but by 36 the bloom is definitely off the rose.
After some women took issue with this statement, he posted this to the Corner:
Conservatives, as I recall, are the ones who believe that "human nature has no history." It follows that we are at ease with the fact that the human female is visually attractive to the human male at, or shortly after, puberty, and for only a few brief years thereafter.

***Civilized*** male conservatives, among whose number I very much hope to be counted, regard the visual attractiveness of women as a welcome lagniappe in the grand scheme of things, other attributes being far more important practically all the time, and those other attributes being the grounds for our respect.
Other bloggers are already on the scene and have made the obvious point that it's insulting to women of drinking age, including Derbyshire's wife, to imply that they are not worth looking at and that only the attraction of their sparkling personalities allows their lovers to touch them without shuddering.

Despite the fact that I was probably more physically attractive ten years ago than today (I was in better shape then, and had better skin, strangely enough), Derbyshire's statement still skeeved me out. Here's a randomly chosen sample of women he apparently thinks would not be interesting to look at in the buff (all pictures SFW, if SFW includes bikinis):

- Angelina Jolie (30)
- Halle Berry (39)
- Monica Bellucci (41)
- Charlize Theron (30)
- Eva Longoria (30)
- Jennifer Connelly (35)
- Mena Suvari (26)

And, for comparison, famous actresses in Derb's sexual attractiveness range:

- Emma Watson (15) (yes, Hermione)
- Hillary Duff (18)
- Mary Kate Olsen (19)

Male readers are invited to comment on whether they would rather look at someone from column A or column B. Of course, naked photos of Ms. Watson are illegal.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Done With Buffy

I just watched the last episodes of Season 7 of Buffy. It was definitely not the best of the seasons, but it could have been worse. One question, though: shouldn't there be another Slayer? Buffy died and Kendra was called; Kendra died and Faith was called. But shouldn't another Slayer have been called when Buffy died at the end of Season 5?


FYI: Firefox 1.5 has been released. If you're still using Internet Explorer, now is the time to switch.

Discrimination in the skies

I had planned on taking a vacation to Australia and New Zealand sometime, but I'm not sure if I want to spend 14 hours or so next to an unaccompanied child just because the airlines down under are convinced that men are all pedophiles.

Problem Solving

When I have a personal problem, I find it very helpful to write a letter to an advice columnist in my head. Almost always, you know what you should do to solve a problem but don't want to recognize it. Thinking through how you'd frame the issue to an uninformed third party usually lets you know what the answer must be: what are you going to special trouble to avoid? what course of action are you attempting to justify to yourself, and what are you trying to play down?

Of course, the one time I actually asked for advice from strangers, they gave me a completely new and previously unconsidered take on the situation which ended up being correct, so maybe this not as effective as it might be.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Multiple abortions not so outlandish?

In the wake of recent discussion on repeat abortions, I thought one of the comments in this thread was worth highlighting (if the math is off, please let me know):
(12 periods a year) x (around 30 years of premenopausal adulthood) = about 360 chances to get pregnant. If birth control, when used properly, is about 99% effective, then that's 3-4 accidental pregnancies likely, statistically.
That presumes perfect usage of a method like the pill; less effective methods such as condoms are likely to increase the chances of having multiple contraceptive failures over a lifetime. Should this make us wary of presuming that the one half of women getting abortions who've had one before are irresponsible?

UPDATE: in the comments, more statistically literate folks point out that the effectiveness rates are calculated based on a year of use and thus 99% effective birth control would yield an expected 0.3 accidental pregnancies over 30 years. Kyra at Pandagon was wrong!

Geek Books

Berin passes along this list of the top 20 geek novels. I've read The HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy, 1984, Brave New World, Dune, I, Robot, Foundation, Snow Crash, Watchmen, Cryptonomicon, Consider Phlebas, Stranger in a Strange Land, American Gods, and The Diamond Age.

American Gods is not Gaiman's best; I prefer Good Omens or Neverwhere. Similarly, I enjoyed Time Enough For Love more than Stranger in a Strange Land, although the latter clearly had more cultural influence. Adams never topped the HHGTTG, and what I read of his Dirk Gently series was a seriously underwhelming experience. I'd never even heard of Trouble With Lichen; aren't The Chrysalids and The Day of the Triffids much more well known?

Unsurprisingly, there are no female authors on the list; given the group, I might have expected Le Guin.

Write her name in the sky

I was just talking with my coclerks about how Tom Petty is a superior rocker to Bruce Springsteen (Springsteen's too melancholy; Petty makes music you want to listen to at a party or on a road trip, key tests). So I don't know how to take the revelation that you can get Tom Petty to play your bat mitzvah (if you're willing to shell out a million bucks or so, that is).

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Huey Lewis, your order is ready.

There's been a lot of buzz lately about PT-141, an inhalable aphrodisiac. PT-141 works on the brain, improving libido and producing an immediate desire for sex, instead of stimulating blood flow as Viagra does. It currently is in Phase III trials and might be on the market in three years, assuming it's approved by the FDA.

Some people are already itching to try it out for themselves. But not everyone is excited by the prospect of a drug that might "usher in the age of McNookie: quick, easy couplings low on emotional nutrition." But aren't we essentially already there? PT-141 just makes divorcing sex from the mind and heart available to everyone, not just some women and more men. (Through judicious use of PT-141, could one condition herself to separate lust and love? Should one, if only to prevent the misunderstandings that flow from the common confusion of the two?)

Rather than fretting about whether or not this is going bring us closer to Erica Jong territory, I'm concerned about how easily administrable such a drug might be. Manipulation in romance is already rampant: will the crowd that now crows that all's fair in love and war soon be proffering roses soaked in PT-141 to their desired conquests? If there is some way to give someone a dose on the sly, what of the inevitable aftermath when someone finds out that their desire to have sex (and thus their consent) stemmed not from her own mind but from the sidelong puff of a seducer's syringe? Tampering with the authenticity of desire seems like a potentially dangerous game. Hopefully slipping someone a psychological mickey will remain impossible for the near future.

(UPDATE: Geoffrey passes along this link, which describes inhalable hormone sprays that cause people to become more trusting. Oxytocin and Pt-141 would be the perfect one-two punch for an aspiring Don Juan.)

All this puts me in mind of this long-ago discussion of consent to sexual activity in the presence of some form of fraud, and of course to the recurring debates about sexual conduct and intoxication.

Blogging without understanding

The only thing more annoying than putting up media content behind a NY Times-style wall is putting what purports to be blog content behind a similar wall and then expecting success for your new blog endeavor.

I refer, of course, to Salon, which recently started Broadsheet, a blog devoted to women's issues. Some of the feminist blogs I read link to Broadsheet posts. Upon clicking through, though, you are faced with the standard choice to subscribe or watch an advertisement before reading.

I used to be a regular Salon reader (1997-2001), but in the last few years the letters to the editors have been of higher quality than the articles themselves and increasing amounts of content have been placed behind barriers. While I occasionally will sit through the ad to read a particularly popular or controversial article, I'm not about to do the same for a blog post's worth of content. And while NY Times columns stand alone, blog posts carry a presumption of a certain interconnectivity. What's the point of blogging if very few people can link to you? Linking is what makes a blog bloggy!

I hate Salon. Cary Tennis is even more clueless than Prudence at Slate. The lifestyle articles are all bohemian-wannabe yuppie whining. And they've even flushed the letters to the editor down the toilet by making them unedited. Ugh.

Wax on, wax off.

Local TV in California is all over the popularization of the Brazilian. Christiana has commentary.

P.S. RIP, Mr. Miyagi.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Around the Blogosphere

Kate Litvak is guest-blogging at Ideoblog (along with some other people). Her first post, on Best Buy and Black Friday discounting, is here.

(Subconsciously stolen from Ted Frank. Previous mooning over Litvak here and here.)

Kiss of Death

Via Concurring Opinions, the tale of a Canadian girl who died of anaphylactic shock after kissing her boyfriend, who had just consumed a peanutty snack. That poor boy. This is almost Rogue-level trauma.

Where are you?

If you haven't already, please add yourself to the reader map.

Culture shock

Is it possible for someone at this distant a remove from ancient Greek culture to find choruses not ridiculous? I am enjoying The Penelopiad, but chanting squads of girls make me cringe.

Sunday, November 27, 2005


I spent at least twenty minutes in the cheese section at Central Market on Friday and came away with a dark and delicious looking gold-label goat Gouda. Then I left it in my grandparents' refrigerator. Oh, the humanity!

50 Book Challenge #65: Children of God

Maria Doria Russell's The Sparrow, the tale of a Jesuit mission to a newly discovered planet, was a gripping read, even for a spiritually dead person such as myself. The sequel, Children of God, is less focused than The Sparrow, following three timelines and about twice as many characters, and it lacks the harrowing and focused drama that made the original so compelling. (After another read, The Sparrow's power seemed diminished, but maybe the revelation that the main character has been sodomized by hyperintelligent, carnivorous kangaroos loses punch the second time around.) If you're deeply interested in the fate of Sandoz, as any reader of the first book would be, Children of God will be necessary to satisfy your curiosity. If you've never read The Sparrow, there's a useful recap in the first chapter or so that will fill in the blanks, but be warned that the inevitability of the plot in the second book provides less pleasure than the shocks of the first.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Weekend Cat Blog

As promised, pictures of Snape and the elusive Lily from my new camera.

Movie Review: Oldboy

I always end up renting movies when I'm back in Houston. I picked up Oldboy on the basis of a vague recollection that it had been well reviewed and that it was in some sense mysterious. I got more from the film by walking in with relatively little foreknowledge, although had I read the reviews in detail, I would have known about the unrealistically long and loud sex scene in advance and muted it so as not to disturb my grandparents. Even in Korean with subtitles, it was a bit much.

The plot establishes interlocking desires for revenge and parallel love stories, but the ending gets a bit overwrought (I still haven't figured out why a tongue was cut off). I won't give away so much that your enjoyment of the movie is decreased. Oh Dae-Su, a drunken businessman, is bailed out by a friend and starts to make his way home for his young daughter's birthday party. On the way, he's snatched, only to awaken in what looks like a seedy motel room but later is revealed to be a private prison, where faceless guards shove plates of fried dumplings under his door every day and refuse to answer his angry and pathetic begging for answers. After fifteen years of this mysterious existence, he awakens on a rooftop. His captor has released him, but why? Dae-Su goes to a sushi restaurant he recognized from a television program and meets a lovely young chef, Mi-do, who decides to help him find the truth. But can Dae-Su discover why he was imprisoned before his captor wreaks yet more vengeance upon him? Who can he trust? What are the fruits of revenge? Recommended.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Zoom zoom zoom.

My work schedule makes it difficult to get out of Clerksville for Christmas, so my family is trying to cram in the holiday cheer early. With that in mind, my grandparents treated me to an early gift: a new and spiffy digital camera. I look forward to taking it along to the Lake District, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Ireland (vacations to come). In the nearer future, expect many more cat photos.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

50 Book Challenge #64: City of Diamond

This was supposed to be the first book of a trilogy. By the end, I was simultaneously frustrated that the lack of published sequels meant that all of the loose plot threads would never be resolved and gratified that this meant I could be excused from ever reading any more of this fundamentalists-in-space nonsense. Disappointing, with a paucity of complex characterization. I will bet someone a piece of pie that the author suffers from migraines (violet-eyed Mary Sue warning).

In Houston

I'll be in Houston from today until Saturday evening, but blogging will continue.

Is your hummus ho-hum?

I make my own hummus. The version from How To Cook Everything is better than the one from The Best Recipe. I think it's the cumin.

Amber's Hummus
1 can chickpeas
1/3 cup tahini
1 large clove garlic, pressed
Salt and cracked black pepper to taste
1 tsp cumin
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil + 1 splash
1/2 cup water
Optional: 1-3 shakes of cayenne pepper

Blend all but water and splash of oil in food processor. Add water and extra oil to obtain desired consistency. Devour with pita pieces.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Males Gazing

This extended discussion on Muslim women's dress is worth reading; a actual headscarf-wearing woman makes an appearance and defends her choice. Others question whether covering the hair, body, or face are the best ways to escape sexualization and objectification.

Relatedly, Hugo Schwyzer has a post on man's capacity to control his gaze.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Money money money money

The first thing I did upon learning I passed the bar: write this blog post.

The second thing: list my Barbri books on Ebay. The refundable book deposit is a princely $125, and you have to pay to ship them back to Barbri. I sold my books in two days for $475 (including shipping charges). If you have old bar exam study materials, now is the time to sell.

Chocolate Milk

Mike Teevee & Veruca Salt got married and had a kid.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Public Scrutiny

At least two HLSers from my test center are not on the pass list. Uh oh. On the plus side, the CMCers from my test center seem to have done quite well.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Weekend Cat Blog

He's cute, isn't he?

I had to pay $270 to get his baby fangs extracted, but he's worth it.

By Request: Wrap-Up

asg says:
I would like to hear about your favorite literary and SF heroines -- in particular those you most wanted to emulate.
In vaguely temporal order: Dorothy & Ozma, Aeriel, Eowyn, Scarlett O'Hara, Dagny Taggart, Nell, Jane Eyre. Emulation probably only came (comes?) into play with the fifth and sixth.

Ms. Fowler asks:
Tell us about a decision you made that you frequently reconsider, and what you think might be different if you had made the other choice.
But asg qualifies:
If you do Scheherazade's, I beg for the stipulation that it not involve law school.
But all I've done for the past three years is go to law school! If that's out, what regrettable decision can I blog? I probably should have gone to the Black Sea beaches by myself. Nothing would be different but my memories, but good memories are worth having.

MT wants to know why on Earth I am a Libertarian. dgm wants to know if I could imagine myself as anything but a libertarian.

Answer: I am a small-l libertarian because I believe in limited government and personal freedom. There aren't so many of those in either party these days. However, the Libertarian Party is full of crazies. What else would I be but a wanderer?

I like hot dogs, first kisses in general (except when they cause bleeding), and don't know when I'll next be in Northern California (no direct flights from Clerksville, alas). Anything else?

Friday, November 18, 2005


Application Number: XXXX
Registration Number: XXXXXXXXX
The name above appears on the pass list for the July 2005 California Bar Examination.

UPDATE: It was obviously thanks to my HLS t-shirt.

Hollaback Girls

After the fracas that followed my post on men telling women to smile, perhaps I shouldn't link to this, but it's an interesting idea: a site where women post stories and cameraphone photos of men who harass them on the street. I'm cautiously optimistic about this venture. Thoughts?

50 Book Challenge #63: A Feast for Crows

(By request of H. Considine.) One of the reasons I haven't had a 50 Book Challenge post in a while is because I reread the second and third volumes (about 2000 pages in mass-market paperback) of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice & Fire series in preparation for his long-awaited A Feast For Crows. The fourth book was supposed to have come out over a year ago. The original plan was to set it five years after the action in A Storm of Swords, which would give several youthful characters opportunities to grow up so they could be more active participants in the plotlines. This fell by the wayside, though, and AFFC takes up where the preceding book left off, although for only half the characters.

My reading of this book started out quick and then slowed down. The writing is repetitive and some of the plotlines don't seem to go anywhere; Brienne wanders for chapters to no real effect, and Sam spends a lot of time listening to a crying woman in a boat. Boo. Reader favorites like Tyrion and Dany are absent entirely, and Martin introduces new characters and points of view that seem extraneous and poorly drawn: a couple of dull and two-dimensional Ironmen, a few briefly sketched maesters, and some interchangeable septons. Some returning characters get more development, which I welcomed for Jaime and Brienne but could have done without for Samwell and Cersei, who replaces Catelyn Stark as the resident annoying and idiotic mother figure. There are a few good Arya chapters, and I no longer pray for Sansa's death, but the ratio of good female characters to good male characters remains low.

I hate to say it, but this book bored me. It even had a bit of that Robert Jordan pointlessness to it. And while I admire Martin's willingness to kill off or brutally maim his characters in ways that are actually consistent with the effects of total war (contrast the usual action-movie approach in which a limp or a German-looking duelling scar is the worst a creator will inflict), one event in particular added injury to insult in a gratuitous manner. As indicated in previous books, the amount of magic in Martin's world is on the rise, but the magic horn unearthed by one new character had a nasty tang of Deus ex machina. I'm not looking forward to its use.

Martin leaves us with cliffhangers with respect to at least three major characters, but we probably won't find out their fates until 2008 or so, since A Dance With Dragons, coming out next year, deals with absent characters during the same time period as the action in AFFC. I bought this in hardback because I couldn't wait for the library. That was a mistake, although its being less great than its predecessors doesn't mean it isn't worth reading.

All of your Song of Ice and Fire needs can be met here and here.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Man, I feel like a woman.

O is a man's man and a woman's woman.

I hate sports, but I forsake manicures and pedicures, have no household scents whatsoever, and love action and horror flicks. I should have known that one of my law school relationships was doomed as soon as I found out that both of us had taken in a movie one weekend. His was A Walk in the Clouds, and he cried. Mine was 28 Days Later, by myself, and the girliest reaction it provoked was speculation as to whether being Christopher Eccleston's post-apocalypse sex toy would really be so bad.

By Request: Why I am not a gender studies professor

Mike of Crime & Federalism asks: "Could a sex positive equal treatment feminist have a chance at having an academic career in a top-ranked gender studies department?"

The answer, of course, is no. But how did Mike know that I am a frustrated gender studies professor at heart? Ah, this might be the answer. If I had gone the BIGLAW route, I might have both the disposable income and the burnout-induced desire to escape the working world required to go back to school, but as I have chosen to pursue less remunerative employment my obsession with gender will be inflicted on blog readers instead of undergraduates.

If I did think that I could have a snowball's chance in Hades of getting a tenure-track position, these would be my options for programs. None of them look like the kind of place where a libertarian heathen feminist could thrive. If my centrist grad student buddy sometimes butts heads with the more PC characters in his much less politically charged department, and I had trouble finding a philosophical home in a law school with a huge and active Federalist Society, imagine how miserable and isolating the years of study in a gender studies program would be.

I guess I could go back to Claremont and take women's studies and theology, ethics, and culture, but studying religion's really not my cup of tea. The right-wing feminist alternatives (which are more think-tanky than conventionally academic) would welcome my economic and political positions, but they generally also promote socially and culturally conservative ideals that I can't subscribe to. See, e.g., the IWF.

I couldn't find any rankings of women's or gender studies departments. There's some obvious crack to be made about hierarchy and patriarchy, but maybe my Google-fu just failed.

Twenty-three ski-doo

CM tagged me with a blog meme:
1. Go into your archives.
2. Find your 23rd post.
3. Post the fifth sentence (or closest to it).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
5. Tag five other people to do the same thing.
The fourth and final sentence from my 23rd post:
Ah, the pedestal and the gilded cage!
I tag cd, Dylan, dgm, Toby, and Ted.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Do-It-Yourself Medicine

This New York Times article on self-medicating young adults is a pretty good description of behaviors that seemed fairly common among some people I knew in college and law school. Money quote:
they have grown up watching their psychiatrists mix and match drugs in a manner that sometimes seems arbitrary, and they feel an obligation to supervise.
This is especially true given the kind of medical care I think most young people are familiar with these days. We often don't have longstanding relationships with one physician, and a consultation frequently takes fifteen minutes or less, with the doctor or nurse practitioner shuffling through the paperwork we filled out in the waiting room and then gruffly asking a few questions. At the end of this, all too often we can walk out with the wrong thing: a prescription for some drug, apparently chosen on the basis of what the doctor has sample packs of; or nothing at all, despite having a clear need, because fifteen minutes is not long enough to fully make clear the symptoms of whatever ailment has brought you there in the first place. I knew people in law school who were constantly having to fend off offers of prescriptions from student health, while other actually ill students were begging for their pain to be taken seriously but were brushed off as malingerers or wannabe junkies.

Given the apparently arbitrary way that prescription drugs are doled out, and the minimal level of patient knowledge of the average prescribing physician, is it any wonder that educated people take their health into their own hands?

Taking Requests

In emulation of Ms. Fowler and Mr. Milbarge, I am taking requests. Submit your request for a blog post on a specific topic by email or leave a comment. I reserve the right to refuse to blog on anything that might engender A3G-like results.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Mirror in the bathroom

Longtime readers of this blog will know that I am pro-unisex bathroom.

This might be the only thing scary enough to make me question that position. Then again, I would never wish this scenario on men, either.

P.S. Have I mentioned that Grosse Pointe Blank is John Cusack's best movie ever?

Frugality Bites

Like cd, I need to get my Ipod fixed/replaced. The battery no longer holds much of a charge and it has been freezing and turning itself off a lot. I know I bought it at Best Buy, and it has a service plan, but I may have lost the little yellow booklet with the receipt. Can I still demand my service or am I out of luck?

I did just buy this game on top of my San Diego spending spree, so I probably should just suck it up and not buy a Nano if I can get the old Ipod fixed.

Hair Poll

I recently dyed my hair a soft shade of black, although it's faded to a less dramatic dark brown by now. Phoebe's made me want to revert to my high school days and be a redhead again. What do you think?

Monday, November 14, 2005

Article III Groupie Unmasked

Someone in the comments wants to know my take on the revelation of Article III Groupie's identity (she's a man, baby!). I confess to having felt a little dirtied by the deceit, despite being such an infrequent reader of UTR that I didn't even realize that A3G was a rightie until recently. From the first, the blog turned me off, despite its winning combination of law and gossip, chiefly because of the aggressive girliness of the site. Everything was a little too pink and cutesy for me. Apparently for many (especially law geeks) this was more of a turn-on, resulting in Crying Game-type reactions from those who had nursed blog crushes on A3G after their sassy and brilliant dream girl turned out to be a male AUSA. But doesn't everyone know that hot online ladies aren't always what they seem?

There are certain odd elements to the aftermath: there's some kind of discussion going on about Lat's sexual orientation, allegedly because straight men can't possibly know anything about fashion; one person asserts that "now that we know that she is a man, A3G simply MUST stop calling her/himself a "federal judicial starf#@$er!" (apparently men can't be "starf#@$ers" -- there's a link between this and Maureen Dowd's theories on mating between high status individuals that I won't get into here); and the blog abruptly went offline late this afternoon, prompting speculation that the DOJ might have come down on the glory-seeking Lat.

If UTR resurfaces, I'll continue to sporadically check it for updates on my classmates' Supreme Court clerkships and news about my judge, but knowing that that the person behind the A3G schtick is a self-congratulatory man parodying gossipy women rather than one of those cheeky, head tossing ladies Dowd was going on about won't change the fact that I find the authorial voice irritating and the color scheme excessively bright.

Opposite Ends of the Spectrum

Geoff Manne sings the praises of lowbrow cheese food.

David B. Fankhauser wants to tell you how to make your own cheese.

You can call me Tar-Telperien.


To which race of Middle Earth do you belong?
brought to you by Quizilla

Sunday, November 13, 2005


How listening to an Ipod is like taking Viagra.

50 Book Challenge #62: The Plot Against America

When I mentioned that I was reading this book, there was a sudden outpouring of advice and analysis from the comment section. That, coupled with the fawning reactions it received when it first came out, constituted a buildup that almost no novel could live up to. Roth's a fine writer, but I found myself remotely chuckling at his clever parallelisms of plot instead of becoming engrossed in the story. The last few chapters dump two endings on us at once: an unsatisfying explanation of the last days of the fascist presidency and a tacked-on account of the narrator's family's travails during part of the previously outlined period. Only the latter rings true, compared with the preceding pages.

Apparently this book is better when appreciated in light of Roth's previous uses of similar themes and characters, but I like my books to stand on their own, and artful writing can only partially compensate for failure of imagination, so returns on future Roth reading seem small.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Blog Meme Deluxe

Shamelessly stolen from E. Spatula. Yay for filler.

Favorite Color: Blue
Favorite Food: Pork fajitas
Favorite Month: Depends on where I am. October is nice in most places, although in Boston it was sometimes already too cold. I probably have the most fond memories from Augusts since that is generally when I travel.
Favorite Song: The Faces - Ooh La La
Favorite Movie: Rushmore
Favorite Sport: Basketball, I guess.
Favorite Season: Autumn
Favorite Day of the week: Saturday
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Chunky Monkey
Favorite Time of Day: Evening


Current Mood: Relative contentment with simmering anxiety in background
Current Taste: Like tomatillos
Current Clothes: Jeans, violet hoodie, white tank top
Current Desktop: Hadrian's Wall
Current Toenail Color: Metallic light coral
Current Time: 6:02 PM
Current Surroundings: My apartment
Current Thoughts: Should I watch more Buffy, read a library book, or reread A Storm of Swords?


First Best Friend: Erika Dicker
First Kiss: Some random guy a friend set me up with in the ninth grade
First Screen Name: FTS (for fossilized tree sap)
First Pet: Missy, a border collie mix.
First Piercing: Earlobes, involuntarily
First Crush: Alex, a boy in my first grade class. He was brunet and ate cupcake wrappers. I liked him despite the latter.
First CD: Might have been Pearl Jam's Vitalogy. Not sure.


Last Cigarette: same as my first, sometime in high school.
Last Drink: cocktails during our first Court Week, I think.
Last Car Ride: To the grocery store today.
Last Kiss: Too long ago.
Last Movie Seen: I saw Brazil on DVD and Wallace & Gromit in the theater.
Last Phone Call: The Clerksville newspaper does not take no for an answer!
Last CD Played: I don't play CDs. My Ipod was playing Frank Sinatra when I was last in the car.


Have You Ever Dated One Of Your Best Guy/Girl Friends: Yes, multiple times.
Have You Ever Broken the Law: Yes.
Have You Ever Been Arrested: No.
Have You Ever Skinny Dipped: No.
Have You Ever Been on TV: Yes, my family was in a commercial for a dog poop removal service about 20 years ago.
Have You Ever Kissed Someone You Didn't Know: No.


Thing You're Wearing: My class ring.
Thing You've Done Today: Made tomatillo salsa and hummus.
Thing You Can Hear Right Now: My cat crunching kibble.
Thing You Can't Live Without: Caffeine and the written word.
Thing You Do When You're Bored: Think about things I should be doing to keep myself occupied but which I cannot muster the energy to start.


1. My apartment
2. My car
3. The friendly neighborhood BBQ joint
4. The grocery store


1. My Hill staffer buddy
2. One of my blog friends
3. My cats


1. Black or White: Black
2. Hot or Cold: Like, tropical hot versus arctic cold? Depends, do I have to do anything? Is adequate protective clothing available? In what do I live? Hot, maybe.


Be a happy lawyer.

50 Book Challenge #61: Magical Thinking

Augusten Burroughs's Magical Thinking (not to be confused with the terminal downer by Joan Didion that the New York Times spent a few weeks flogging) is an obvious attempt to compete with David Sedaris. The latter has become a bestselling author primarily on the strength of his collections of personal essays. Burroughs, on the other hand, has become slightly less famous for his novel-length memoirs of childhood abuse and quitting drinking. I read the latter earlier this year. Perhaps Burroughs's life experiences so far do not contain enough material for another sustained effort, or perhaps his agent advised him to adhere to a more Sedaris-like form for salability's sake. Either way, the result is a consistently amusing, ribald, and self consciously neurotic collection of anecdotes. It may not be as lyrically written as Sedaris's books, and the author may be quite a bit more irritating on a personal level, but it is good for annoying people in airports with spontaneous bursts of laughter.

Other women

Sherry Fowler's post about other women reminded me of this poem:

I think, no matter where you stray,
That I shall go with you a way.
Though you may wander sweeter lands,
You will not soon forget my hands,
Nor yet the way I held my head,
Nor all the tremulous things I said.
You still will see me, small and white
And smiling, in the secret night,
And feel my arms about you when
The day comes fluttering back again.
I think, no matter where you be,
You'll hold me in your memory
And keep my image, there without me,
By telling later loves about me.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Clerksville Again

I have returned from San Diego, where even the bad weather is still better than what 99 percent of the country has. I was mistaken for a stewardess, neary hit by a car, and spent entirely too much money shopping at Horton Plaza. All in all, it was good. I didn't have my laptop, so most of the generous outpouring of advice will have to be put aside for use the next time I am in town. The fleabag hotel was very noisy, but otherwise much better than most places I stay when I travel abroad, so it was not the problem it might have been.

Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be writers

The author of the short story that became the amazing film Secretary is essentially broke. I don't know what's sadder: her plight, or that a famous chick-lit writer wasn't aware that critical acclaim is no good substitute for sales. (h/t Bookslut)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Law Prof Blogging

I would find the recent 40% increase in law prof bloggers more impressive if nearly ten percent of it could not be attributed to the establishment of one blog, on which not all professors post regularly.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

HLS Students Shore Up Their Egos After Being Rejected From YLS

Via The Volokh Conspiracy, I note that HLS students, by a narrow margin, ranked Harvard as the nation's best law school. Best at what was not made plain. I'd be interested in breaking down this data by undergraduate institution. There's nothing more bitter than a Yale undergraduate rejected by his alma mater and forced to migrate to Cambridge for law school.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Back to the Beach

As I mentioned previously, I'm going to be in San Diego from Wednesday night through Friday morning. I'm staying downtown near the gaslight district in what may be the worst fleabag hotel in America, judging from the Yahoo Travel reviews. If anyone knows of fun things to do in the evenings near this part of San Diego, I'm open to suggestions. If you all remain silent I will end up laying in my nasty room rereading A Song of Ice and Fire in preparation for A Feast For Crows, and that could be done anywhere.

Best web marketing feature ever.

Anthropologie's Shop By Size feature is the best idea to hit online shopping since the 1-Click Order. How many times have you surfed through a surfeit of hideous fashion don'ts to find a discounted yet adorable garment, checked out the high-resolution photo, examined the available colors, and then added it to your shopping bag, only to be cruelly taunted with a declaration that it's not available in your size? Okay, maybe that's just me.

Being Parental

I thought this was a really interesting post on childishness in romantic relationships. I don't have any personal experience with this, but I can relate to the challenge of trying to break bad models of interaction.

Online Defamation Flap

Wow. Who comes out looking good from this mess? Nobody.

More here and here.

Addendum: am I the only legally trained person for whom reading "debates" about legal issues between engineers and humanities professors is like the screech of fingernails on a chalkboard?

Monday, November 07, 2005

Your Favorite Movie Sucks

I have idiosyncratic taste in film, as anyone who's had to listen to me sing the praises of Nate & Hayes will attest. But ever so often, I appall someone not with my odd ideas of the good but with my failure to appreciate movies they think are great. A short and incomplete list of movies I can't stand:

Braveheart: Sappy love story, nasty torture, and pasty white behinds. Yelling "freeeedom" is not a deeply moving political statement. I prefer Rob Roy.

Life is Beautiful: Roberto Benigni's performance is a travesty, although the scene where he rides in on the painted horse is very well composed.

Forrest Gump: glorification of stupidity and Boomer nostalgia elevated to toxic levels. Ugh.

Notorious: I've tried to watch it twice, and both times it's bored me to sleep.

Grease: I hate almost all musicals, and 1970s musicals associated with John Travolta especially.

The Producers: this is not funny. I saw a theatrical production of it and that wasn't funny either. Well, maybe the sequence with the showgirls wearing giant sausage headdresses, but I don't think that's in the movie.

Magnolia: would have been great with half the characters. And if we had drawn and quartered Julianne Moore's character for being such an insufferable psycho hose beast.

Almost Famous: Cameron Crowe should not be allowed near a film set for the rest of his natural life. After the reviews for Elizabethtown, this may become a reality. Kate Hudson may be thought pretty by some, but she cannot act and looks like a space alien mated with a kewpie doll. The sole redeeming features in this movie are Frances McDormand, who is always good, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, who is a living god (when are the Clerksville theaters going to get Capote, blast it all?).

2001: I think you have to be on drugs to appreciate it in its entirety. I don't have ADD, but this movie makes me think I do.

Saving Private Ryan: I have enough residual Objectivist tendencies to find this movie's sense of life appalling. It forces the viewer to identify chiefly with a coward. It has the hobbit-like Matt Damon. The framing device is ham-handed in the extreme. And then there's Tom Hanks. I hate Tom Hanks. I did like Philadelphia, but that may only be because he died.

You are welcome to excoriate me or to add your own Two Minutes Movie Hate in the comments.

UPDATE: Thanks to Timothy Sandefur for the link. I never saw The English Patient, but I had an Elaine-like reaction to the book.

The comments section is yielding plenty of examples of terrible movies most people lionize: The Green Mile (awkwardly obvious Christian allegory), Sideways (although it does have a better depiction of explosive female violence than either volume of Kill Bill), and Shakespeare in Love (sorry, cd, but Joseph Fiennes has a gerbil's face and I can't stand Fishstick Paltrow as a romantic lead). SiL has some great supporting players, though, and I admit grudgingly that Springtime for Hitler can be a funny song.

Can Garner Save Us?

Death in the Afternoon finds legal writing frustrating. (h/t Mansfield Fox) I'm not much for the stuff myself. The legal writing class at HLS only required a couple of memos and one brief (and a collage). My summer firm job didn't demand much in the way of writing either. I've done more writing in the last two months than three years of HLS classes required, if you leave out the 3L paper, which was more of the academic writing genre than the legal writing one. I need to break out the Garner and buckle down.

Unrelatedly: JMPP notes that Amazon is selling everything Star Trek for $2,499.99.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Weekend Text-Only Cat Blog

I spent the greater part of this weekend in an epic battle with the Headache from the Black Lagoon, and what little remains of it will almost certainly be consumed by some work I brought home, but there's always time for cat torture.

Snape and Lily are remarkably hydrophilic felines; Lily practically tries to get in the shower with you (she likes to lick the water off the tiles) and Snape has been getting regular baths since I brought him home, since he has puffy fur and a penchant for getting messier than a conventional tongue bath can handle. All the same, they seem to feel like baths require some token effort at escape, lest they lose some kitty pride. Fortunately, they seem to draw the line at using claws and don't hold a grudge for long: thus the slightly damp but purring tom currently impeding my memo writing.

On another note entirely: The Time Traveler's Wife bites. I should have known when I saw the "Today Show Book Club" logo that I'd be underwhelmed. On to Philip Roth.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Remember, remember

It's Guy Fawkes Day. This movie was supposed to have been released today, but it was shelved. Alas.

Unrelated poem with the title "Remember." A better C. Rossetti sonnet. Art by Dante G. Rossetti.


I am not entirely certain about how this swearing-in thing for the bar will work (assuming that I passed, which I won't find out for another 13 days). The bar provides a list of people who can swear you in, but no other information. It says "officials in the state of California"; does this mean I will have to make a second trip to Cali (since I am going there next week for an interview) to take the oath? Is there any way I can avoid this expense?

Unrelatedly, all you haters of Texas-style BBQ should read this.
I hadn't imagined that barbecue this good existed. Have you been to southern France, trying obscure Michelin two-fork restaurants? The simplest dishes, such as roast chicken, or cassoulet, blow you away and you swear never to eat again in the outrageously priced starred restaurants? This was a comparable experience. ...

All other barbecue will now taste worse.

Friday, November 04, 2005

50 Book Challenge #60: Inside Job

Connie Willis treads a fine line between the cooler prose style of a LeGuin or an Atwood and the wackier and more rollicking style of an Ellison. Her books often deal with time travel (see, e.g., Doomsday Book, an excellent bit of historical fiction with time travel that omits silly boinking interludes).

Inside Job has only a slight element of the fantastic. Set in modern Los Angeles, it centers around Rob, a professional skeptic and his former-starlet assistant, who typically spend their days debunking charlatans in the name of science and truth. They are faced with what appears to be the ghost of H.L. Mencken and the choice between acknowledging a real spirit manifestation or furthering the broader goal of discrediting irrational nonsense. Willis's solution to the dilemma was neat but to my mind ultimately unsatisfying. For a scientific type, Rob was remarkably incurious about the implications of a real spirit, beyond its effect on his mission as a skeptic.

Estrogen = Hot?

I confess to being a bit embarrassed not to be able to figure this out, but if female attractiveness varies along a spectrum in tandem with estrogen levels, what's the effect of artificial hormones from birth control pills? Do pill takers have the same face all month, and if so is it the sexy fertile face or the unsexy infertile face? Of course, according to the article you could just wear makeup and have the cyclical differences disappear.

More here.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

50 Book Challenge #59: Outlander

First of all, anyone who tells you this is historical fiction or SF/fantasy is lying. I read this book because I heard it was a borderline case, and because historical fiction with a hint of romance can be quite delightful (have I mentioned yet that I have a crush on Richard III?). But there's a lot of boinking in Outlander, enough to put it firmly in romance novel territory, although to be fair it's decorously written.

My quibble (aside from the one-time use of "least common denominator" by an 18th C. highlander, which may or may not be anachronistic but was at least awkward) was the sudden, unbelievable decision by Claire to abandon attempts at return to her own time and stay with her new husband. I'm sure furry Scots are quite appealing to some, but after waiting for her own husband's return from war for years, her choice seemed abrupt and even out of character.