Monday, February 28, 2005

Ooh, snap.

I am thinking of buying a new digital camera because my three year old Olympus has had one foot in the grave ever since it got rained on in Iceland. Any tips? I want something with plenty of zoom, good battery life, and preferably less than $400-350.

50 Book Challenge #12: Look to Windward

After a disappointing experience this summer in Prague with Consider Phlebas, perhaps I should have given up on Iain M. Banks. However, the Cambridge Public Library lacked A House for Mr. Biswas and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, so I was scrabbling to grab a book or two and came up with Look to Windward. It was utterly predictable (the back cover synopsis more or less gave away the plot), and had a few random threads, such as a character who discovers the villain's plot and struggles to warn his civilization, that didn't go anywhere. Characters such as the Homomdan, Kabe, seemed unecessary. I thought it succeeded as an exploration of grief but failed as an engaging SF thriller.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Martinis and Cheese Are All That Can Save Me Now

The conference has ended and all 900 or so participants are now heading home. The party's just started at Casa Bamber, however, as the Oscars are on tonight and I have invited a few friends over to laugh at Chris Rock, eat brie, bread, and savory twinkies, and be drunken.

I started to make an Oscar picks list, but the realized that I have not seen half the nominated movies because this was a crappy year for film and I stayed home watching Netflix DVDs instead. Nominated movies I actually saw: Eternal Sunshine, Collateral, Maria Full of Grace, Kinsey, The Incredibles, A Very Long Engagement, Shrek 2 (in Serbia!), House of Flying Daggers, Spider-Man 2, and The Village. I am mostly watching for Chris Rock and the bad female fashion.

P.S. What has happened to De Novo?

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Libertarians and Conservatives Need A Divorce.

Objections to Hadley Arkes's discussion of freedom and virtue:

-The importance to libertarianism of adult consent to interactions was ignored. While Arkes began by acknowledging the common ground of Lochnerian economic liberty on which conservative and libertarians agree, he veered off during his discussion of individual liberty and morality. While the worker wanting to labor for extra hours is presumed to be a informed consenting adult, he seamlessly shifted from gay rights to NAMBLA, from recognizing a right to suicide to the claim that such a right would involve the right of any person to kill you. I'm not sure how these latter two gel; clearly the right to enter into an employment contract does not imply that anyone can now enslave you. Similiarly, his assertion that gay rights advocates are not really against making moral judgments because most people agree that NAMBLA is bad elides the distinction, crucial to libertarianism, between the refusal to prohibit voluntary interactions and the necessity of protecting persons from force and fraud. A seven year old boy cannot consent to sex; all sexual encounters with him can only be the result of force or coercion. However, a grown man can consent to sex with another man, and this is a different type of interaction altogether which involves no infringement of another's rights.

-The ownership of children by their parents: Arkes made several allusions to the supposed limitations on consent; apparently because we do not allow parents to consent for their children to have sex or to sell their children into peonage as pickpockets, consent is not a coherent limitation on action and thus morality trumps. The situation of minors is exceedingly complex, but most people would think that the problem with this is the capacity of parents to consent for their children in certain circumstances, since children are autonomous invididuals who will soon attain adult capacity. We stop parents to preserve children's effective capacity to consent later in life, not because we have moral problems with the actions per se.

-A series of extremely troubling and ill informed assertions were made about the relative moral capacities and worth of persons who engage in non-standard sexual practices such as S&M and homosexuality. Arkes is obviously unfamiliar with the actual practices at issue and the spontaneously ordered standards within S&M communities to ensure consent at all times. He appears to feel free to conflate homosexuality with pedophilia as well. While I'm sure there are many excellent parents from average families, to hear someone claim that certain sexual behaviors taking place in private between consenting adults make one an unfit parent was doubly disturbing given this obvious lack of any familiarity with the communities and behaviors in question. Stereotype away, professor!

The debate and the commentary afterward also reflected the pervasive sexism inherent in discussions of morality and sexual regulation. Arkes harped numerous times on the NAMBLA issue, and one commenter here noted the tendency of some to see the absence of a North American Woman-Boy Love Association as evidence that this is a particular problem of gay relationships. Obviously no one gives a damn about the far more common phenomenon of adult males preying on teenage or prepubescent females. Where's the outrage about that? (Compliments to PG for spotting this issue.)

You're Missing All the Fun!

A good time was had by most last night at the FedSoc symposium. As we roll into Day 2 of the conference, pressing questions emerge, such as:
-Will Charles Fried talk about scantily clad ladies again when he presents the Paul M. Bator award tonight?
-Will any panel result in a rumble?
-What percentage of the students are currently awake after last night's Boston bacchanal?

Friday, February 25, 2005

FedSoc Blogspot

I'll be at the FedSoc student symposium for the next day or two, but you can find up to the minute commentary at Ex Parte.

Thursday, February 24, 2005


I have vivid memories of sitting in Jade's "casa" a few years ago asking her parents where I should go to law school. It sounds like she is a budding lawyer, too.

"When I'm drunk I'm a libertarian."

I used to collect choice quotes from my professors, but now we can all centralize our efforts by posting to one site. (Via Eve Tushnet)

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

In defense of public school libraries

Will Baude seems to think public school libraries, at least in high schools, are made superfluous by the mobility of teenagers. This makes several assumptions:
  1. The proper audience for a library is people who already want books and are willing to travel to get them,
  2. The window to encourage reading to minors is ages 5-13 and after that we are better off giving up and focusing on the people we've hooked,
  3. Teenagers who like to read have cars or access to public transportation that can get them to an off-campus library,
  4. Said off-campus libraries are not too far away.
In a wealthy suburban area, it's probably true that any teen who wants books can borrow the family car (or hop in his own) and drive to the local branch library to feed his need to read. Similarly, teens who love books in cities like New York or Chicago can probably make their way on public transit to a public library. But what of the poor teen? In a family with limited resources, teens can't count on being able to drive; their parents may need the car for work, and they are unlikely to be able to afford insurance. Poor teens in urban areas are better off than their rural or suburban counterparts, but transit's not free either. And in rural areas, a trip to the library might be some miles out off the beaten path. All of these teenagers are at school daily; why not make it easy and convenient for all of them to get books?

The presence of a high school library also indicates that we haven't given up on encouraging reading in teenagers and that we acknowledge their need for more substantive reading material. Many teenagers have to write research papers; how to teach them the rudiments of library research without a library, or a librarian? How to provide easy access to books to someone who may never have gotten into reading before? High school reading can be students' first encounter with thought-provoking, challenging books (although it often is not). If reading snares you late in life, we should support that, not allow it to slip away by half heartedly referring you to a building miles from school.

Applebaum misses the point, too

Via Red and Blue, Anne Applebaum on the absence of women from hard-charging jobs:
It isn't ability or discrimination that hold women up most, in other words, but the impossibility of making a full-time commitment to work in a culture that demands 80-hour weeks, as well as to family in a society unusually obsessed with its children.

We all know this anecdotally, but research confirms it. . . . If these numbers hold there never will be a 50-50 split between men and women at the highest professional or managerial levels of anything: The ratio will always hover around 2 to 1.

Is this nature or nurture? I don't see that it matters.
But whether this is nurture or nature does matter. Why are women the ones making the choice to stay home? Why are fathers not similarly motivated to demand a mix of work and family? Dismissing the inquiry into whether lower levels of female participation in prestigious careers are the result of social conditioning is to accept the status quo and leave an overwhelming burden on women. Why is this not worth challenging?

Never thought I'd say this, but . . .

Dino De Laurentiis is my hero. The Baz Luhrmann version of Alexander? More Roman sword and sandals adventure? A new Hannibal movie? Hell, a blockbuster set in a plague-stricken Europe? Even if they're all terrible, count me in.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Ideal Book Provider

Inspired by Eugene Volokh's gripe here and the previous discussion of ideal subways, I wanted to make a list of the characteristics of the ideal book provider (library and bookstore versions):

A library should:

1. Permit you to renew items, preferably online, at least once.
2. Allow easy online access to the catalogs of other branches and affiliated library systems so you can request books that are not available at your local library before making the trip to your branch.
3. Have a sticker on the spine to indicate the book's genre, categorize books by genre, or preferably both.
4. Dump book jackets. Crinkly, slippery cellophane does not make for an enjoyable reading experience, and the jackets inevitably suffer damage and come untaped.
5. Have self-checkout stations like a grocery store. Any idiot can scan a bar code and check out a book. Why wait for a clerk?
6. Be open on the weekend and in the evening. Working people want books too!
7. Deliver requested or recalled books to any library, not just the main branch (I'm looking at you, Harvard Library. Why can't you deliver to the law library instead of making me trek to Widener?)

Bookstores should:
1. Have comfortable chairs and a cafe area.
2. Place search terminals in publicly accessible areas. It sucks to wait five minutes so a clerk can type a title and tell me that they don't have any copies of a book when I could have discovered that disappointing fact myself.
3. Set up tables of award winners, local authors, and other themed groupings of books.
4. Display lists of award winners (genre award lists near the genre shelves).
5. Display lists of soon-to-be-released books near the counter so you can put in an advance order.

Any other suggestions?


Rock superstar Noah Feldman already has an offer from Yale Law School, although he's in Cambridge for the semester teaching Church & State. Harvard should do anything legal to persuade this guy to stay here. I doubt that it will work, though.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Looking for a lady who'll look good in dresses

Sherry Fowler's post puts me in mind of the old Randy travis song "Shopping for Dresses." I actually was thinking of this song a couple of weeks ago as well. One thing that made me sour was that buying dresses in each color and style implies that they are the same size; apparently curvy girls need not apply. In a song it's only moderately displeasing. To read the NY Times piece and see the scenario played out in all its shallow glory was even worse. I am much more content when I can think of the Sex & The City as a fiction and kid myself that whippet thin, bitter New York women are not the most prized form of female human. Ugh.

What About Smithers?

Last night's episode of The Simpsons was much ballyhooed, as Fox announced that one of the show's characters would come out of the closet. Since The Simpsons gets watched in my house every. single. time. it is aired, of course we were tuned in for the not-so-shocking revelation of Patty's lesbianism.

The plot (spoilers follow): Springfield, in an attempt to increase tourism, legalizes same-sex marriage. Homer becomes an ordained minister via the Internet and sets up a chapel in the garage to perform weddings for $200 a pop. Patty asks Homer to marry her to Veronica, a butch dame she met on the PGA tour, but Marge just can't cope with the news that Patty likes ladies. But when Marge discovers that Veronica is really a man, how will she tell Patty without seeming like she's attempting to sabotage a lesbian wedding?

The real lesson here is that same-sex marriage notwithstanding, the ill to be combatted is presexual marriage. How could this Crying Game situation have arisen without some abstention on Patty's part? Shouldn't it behoove one to check whether your beloved has all the desired bits before binding yourself to them for life? And if it's not important enough to you to check this before wedding, perhaps the answer is not to reject the person you love at the altar because you like girls. If Patty loved Veronica before her discovery, what would be the relevance of the revelation (if they already had a satisfactory physical relationship)?


It is snowing madly here in Cambridge (just in time for the FedSoc student symposium). I should have known that the 40 and 50 (!) degree days were too good to last. Boston has six months of winter, and it will exact them all.

Unrelatedly, I have been considering changing the title of this blog. What should be its new name?

-Iron Narwhal
-Some clever clerk-related name (although I will not be blogging about my clerkship, so this may be deceptive)
-Wages of Cos
-A clever Latin name
-Something you suggest

I am trying to come up with a name that is related to something I have blogged about, but I don't know what I've said that has stuck out to others, so fire away with suggestions.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

50 Book Challenge #11: Dubliners

I love short stories. They are single-serving literature. Staying up all night with a fantastic book you can't put down has its place, but the demands of scheduling often command sleep, and thus a fantastic short story before bed can function as the best possible choice of reading material. No wondering what happened, no drive to press on; just closure and sweet dreams.

Joyce always tops the literature best-of lists, but after my unsuccessful run at Tristam Shandy, I thought something more approachable than Ulysses was in order. Thus Dubliners, which had the additional advantage of being on Geoffrey's bookshelf.

The stories are told in short, savage arcs, and the attention to language is clear. Many short stories are mere vehicles for a clever idea, but these are more like character studies. However, they avoid the tedium of some other character-focused writing I have encountered. Do read Dubliners.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Bamber needs a new pair of shoes!

Thanks to Miss Doxie, I have become aware of the lovely time- and money-suck that is I have a tendency to find a few types of shoes that fit my style (such as it is) and buy different incarnations of them for years and years. I am not quite as bad about this as I used to be; at one point in junior high I believe I had five pairs of low-top Keds in black or white. And I am not as bad as my housemate, who has had two pairs of daily-wear shoes for as long as I've known him: the black leather sneakers and the black leather casual lace-ups. But I am not adventurous. Those gypsy slippers with sequins at Jasmine Sola? So not coming home with me.

Part of this is based on my adversarial relationship with footwear. No matter what, I am constantly under attack from below. It makes me risk averse generally with respect to shoes. My shoes, new and old, dressy and casual, can never be trusted; they may decide at any time to begin chewing on my soft toes and ankles. I had blisters for three weeks after buying these sneakers. This was especially annoying because I bought them after limping into a store wearing a pair of adorable black Mary Jane flats that I had unsuccessfully tried to break in for three years and throwing them in the garbage.

I have a special hatred for shoes that look like they should be comfortable but are not. Cute little slip-ons with ruched edges, I am looking at you. You try to look soft, but it's all an act so I will buy you and allow you to sink your serrated maw around my tender little foot. Aerosoles sandals with cushioned soles and dangerously thin straps that saw into an ankle in less than one block's walk? Die. Dress loafers that taper to a narrow wedge at the back and chomp into me, forcing me to bleed through panty hose at work? Die, die, die.

Even old friends betray me. Last week, my two year old boots decided to start slicing through my leg with the cloth tag inside the shaft of the boot. A cloth tag. And I was bleeding! When I foiled their rebellion with a judiciously placed bandage, they snapped one heel off in a huff.

If I end up ordering a bunch of stuff from Zappos and it destroys my feet, I think I may just give up and become a barefoot hippie.

Bears that shoot laser beams out of their eyes.

Animated GIFs from the Lord of the Rings:


Boromir's Plan


Boromir's Invisible Phone

(warning: some language)

Friday, February 18, 2005

10 Commandments Cases - Moot Court

This afternoon the Harvard ACS chapter sponsored a moot for the oralists in the two cases dealing with 10 Commandments displays that are on the docket this Term. Van Orden v. Perry was argued by Erwin Chemerinsky and McCreary v. ACLU of Kentucky was argued by David Friedman. The panel of "judges" consisted of HLS professors Minow and Fallon, visiting professors Ernest Young and Noah Feldman, BU professor Jay Wexler, and David Kravitz of Hanify & King. (apologies for the disjointed nature of my notes)

The panel was not terribly receptive to either oralist; they all thought that Chemerinsky would lose, and while four of six thought Friedman would win, they had harsh criticism for his arguments as well. All agreed that the case would be argued to a "bench of one" and that swaying O'Connor was the decisive factor.

Chemerinsky got bogged down in an elaborate argument of the innately sectarian status of any translation or culled version of the 10 Commandments and lost most of the panel on that issue right away. Nobody seemed to think that the reasonable observer would be able to parse the comparative Hebrew translations and draw the conclusion that a particular sect was being supported. One judge quipped that while he had never seen a "Judeo-Christian," the category was a created myth to bind us together as a nation, and the only potential way out of the box was to argue the exclusiveness of that tradition itself.

More judges were skeptical of the emphasis Chemerinsky put on the context of the monument. One judge, familiar with the actual turf being discussed, suggested that he downplay the geographical isolation of the monument because it didn't reflect the reality. Another was jarred by the suggestion that more religious representations would be better than having a single text (especially in light of the fact of McCreavy).

Fun facts: Athena (or the goddess of Justice) is atop the Texas State Capitol. The Mexican flag contains an ancient Aztec religious symbol and said flag is depicted in the Capitol as well.

Friedman's arguments also were savaged. After the panel got him to admit that under his analysis it would be unconstitutional for the government to quote from its own Supreme Court opinions, it got little better. He tried to draw a distinction between symbols and text, with text being more constitutionally questionable, but panelists said the case law doesn't support such a distinction and in fact has come down harder against symbolic displays than textual ones. In his effort to prevent the government from getting around the Establishment Clause by claiming everything is historical, Friedman ended up arguing that any link between a religious text and the political framework of the country was questionable. He also tried to argue that one could acknowledge religion without acknowledging a specific belief, but I wasn't sure how he thought you could do that. There seemed to be no good way to argue the case that didn't invlaidate only this display or this display with modification to remove the implication of the primacy of the 10 Commandments in American legal development.

All in all, the oralists ended up with suggestions for improving what didn't work, but their arguments undermined each other (especially the stress in Chemerinsky's on context when juxtaposed with the arguments that even with the carefully wrought context of the Kentucky display, the government still lost). I certainly hope that the real Court is not as ruthless as the panel - their reception does not bode well for either case, and while many panelists thought the Court wanted to "split the baby" by affirming both cases, they cautioned Friedman that he might potentially lose as well.

Thou Shalt Not Read Other Blogs Before Mine

I went to lunch today with my Fed Courts professor and am about to go to the moot court for the Ten Commandments case that is being held on campus today. I do not have my laptop, so there will be no live-blogging as there was with the Raich moot. However, I will take notes and share any interesting bits later.

P.S. Will Baude does not have long hair!

P.P.S. An illustrated recipe for beef tongue can be found here. Thanks, WT!

Meet the new boss

JLPP elections are over and fellow blogger and business managing superstar Jenn Carter is set to head up Volume 29. Yay Jenn. This doesn't necessarily mean I get to do less work (boo), but it does mean that all the forward looking stuff no longer has to weigh on my mind.

In other news, Curtis's blog is the color of poo! The sidebar links are also kind of hard to read because the colors are so similar. Finding a new blog template is so hard. I spent hours last month fiddling around with various ones for this site, but have decided to just hold off and treat myself to a massive redesign and possible name change over the summer.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Random roundup VI

-Will Baude is weirded out by covenant marriage. My classmate Waddling Thunder, not so much. The blogosphere reaction to this is generally negative. I have to say that I don't care one way or the other if some people decide to voluntarily commit themselves to a difficult-to-breach contractual arrangement. And what with all the hoopla about natalist rhetoric lately, I can't decide whether I am glad that some people have chosen to take one for the team and do this whole reproduction thing so I don't have to and are so serious about it that they are willing to stay in crappy marriages with people they don't like or if I should be enraged at the whole regressive idea of covenant marriage. Right now I have my own concerns and am taking the apathetic libertarian position of not giving a flip.

-My cat's name was Toby. I had a cool student who worked with me at the Rose named Toby (and now he's the student manager, just like I was!). And this bunny is named Toby. My allegiance to Tobys is at war with my knowledge that rabbit is tasty. In the end, I will probably go next door to the tapas restaurant and order some rabbit. But in the meantime - awww!

-My ceiling was falling down so a bunch of workmen just spent the last half hour or so in my apartment singing in Spanish and knocking giant chunks of plaster everywhere. They were also spraying something which is making wooze-inducing fumes. But they did vacuum up after themselves, so yay for having my household chores completed by Harvard maintenance personnel.

-A true story from the belly of the beast: extreme shopping.

-Totally fascinating story about back-to-basics funerals.

-I was just complaining about how Spencer never blogs anymore, but he's back. Huzzah. Maybe now he can tell me what a chapbook is.

-While reading *to Benjamin?* The kid's a Volokh. I would have thought he'd be reading already!


So I woke up this morning at some ungodly hour with a stuffy head and the realization that I need to fix the top margin of the article that I was working on most of yesterday afternoon (manually reinserting and formatting 150 footnotes is really no fun). Bah. And I have 12 pages written of my 50 page 3L paper. The first draft needs to be finished by the end of this month. And elections are tonight, which means I will be out late buying drinks for people. What a day.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Wasting Away Again?

The HLS FedSoc has a shiny new blog. They've had it for a couple of weeks now, but I only noticed when I clicked through from the student symposium website because my sidebar link was outdated. That's been fixed.

The symposium sounds like it should be a more fun than a barrel of monkeys (Kozinski! Dersh! Easterbrook! Larry Summers! A Volokh Conspirator! Free booze!). It's too bad some of the panels sound interesting. That's really going to interfere with the symposium tradition of copious Harvard FedSoc margarita consumption.

Anyway, if you're going to be at the symposium let me know.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

50 Book Challenge #10: Banewreaker

I enjoyed Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel trilogy, especially the first installment, Kushiel's Dart. Sure, it's a combination bodice-ripper/fantasy brick, but it's enjoyable fluff. Carey's day job as a history professor makes her alternate history of European Christianity more compelling than it otherwise might be, and the characters are memorable.

Thus Banewreaker is a crushing disappointment. Billed as the first installment of another trilogy, it seems to be the product of a contest to import as much as possible from Paradise Lost into the Lord of the Rings plotline so Christopher Tolkien won't sue for copyright infringement. I haven't seen such blatant swiping of fantasy plot elements since Robert Jordan's Eye of the World.

-The creators of the universe, with exception of one rebel, live on an island over the sea after they estrange themselves from the greater world they created? Check.
-Said rebel, now a Dark Lord, has a continuously shadowed stronghold near an abandoned ruin of a white city? Check.
-Elves, Dwarves, Men, Wargs (er, "Weres"), and orcs (er, "Fjelltrolls") as the primary races? Check.
-Dark Lord uses black birds as messengers? Check.
-Human man tutored by non-human, last of his kingly line, is betrothed to the last of the Elvish princesses? And his name starts with an A? And her father's name starts with a C "E-L"? And she has two brothers? And he aspires to be "King of the West" and to raise his ancestor's banner? Check.
-Wizards sent by gods across the sea to fight the Dark Lord? And one has a staff? And he gets trapped after an underground confrontation with dark forces, but then reappears as a rider on a white horse? Check.
-The fall of the Dark Lord requires the cooperation of a Bearer of a heavy object, which he wears around his neck? And he is accompanied by a fat fellow member of his tribe? And they get separated from the group (which includes two men, an elf, a female archer, and the wizard) after the wizard's big underground battle? And one of the men gives his life so the rest can escape? Check.
-Large portions of the book involve using or obtaining jewels made from a now-perished source of power, one of which has been set in the sky as a star? Check.
-In a climatic sequence, a siege takes place at the city near a dragon's lair, the great golden dragon emerges and wreaks havoc, but is then shot by a single bold archer? Check.

The most interesting parts (and the only real connection between this and the Kushiel books) are the sensual and theological undercurrents. A large part of what made Carey's previous books so interesting was her carefully wrought divergences from traditional religions and the injection of earthy desire as a positive value into the system she created. Unfortunately, the clash of the titans is swamped by the scurrying of their pawns in this book, and all the moves are cribbed. I would not recommend this book to anyone. Reread Tolkien instead.


Via John Scalzi, the biology of kissing.

50 Book Challenge #9: Old Man's War

Although my classmate beat me to this book in the 50 Book Challenge, I was apparently the first person to check it out from the Harvard library system. Incidentally, I miss the days of checking out books with hand-written cards that allowed you to see who read the book before you and how many times your obsession with a given book has led to you to check it out. But I digress.

Scalzi's book is a fast paced, single serving read packed with realistic characterization and in possession of a differentiates voice. His debt to Heinlein is obvious, but the story line is more complex than many of RH's early works. There were several bits where I laughed or exclaimed out loud - Scalzi's a clever fellow, and his humor lightened what could have been a rather gloomy story.

I can see how a writer with a political axe to grind might find the world Scalzi's created appalling - why overpopulation needs to be solved by interstellar colonization rather than more conventional family planning methods puzzled me - but he does a good job of accentuating the humanity of humans involved in a multiverse-wide struggle for survival. I couldn't put the book down, for which I will pay dearly in my four hours of class today.

Monday, February 14, 2005

That Certain Female

I am rather conflicted about Valentine's Day. Not because I have problems with the tradition of gift giving or extravagant gestures: by the same token, Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, and many other holidays are also more about expectation than anything else. I agree with Will and Heidi that the imposition of ill-fitting and unrealistic traditions can be unhealthy for a relationship, but if you assume the following conditions:
1. There are certain cultural traditions which we enjoy participating in, even if we don't buy into them entirely. Witness the vast numbers of atheists, agnostics, and members of other faiths who somehow get into the Christmas spirit.
2. Like a penguin with a pebble, you desire to give gifts to your significant other as an expression of affection and as means to bring them pleasure. If love is the internalization of another's utility function, and you know that certain objects or experiences would delight your significant other, then this seems natural.
3. Some gifts require saving up for or preparation.

. . . then it seems like you have to pick one day on which your SO will get a special gift, so why not have that day be today? Valentine's Day doesn't mean candy hearts and fairy princesses, and it doesn't have to mean bad food and poor service. It's just a convenient time to express your appreciation for another person. Whether you do this with dead plants, migraine inducing chocolates, or gifts that are targeted to the individual's idiosyncratic interests is up to you.

My main beef with Valentine's Day is that it's tacky. There are a lot of hideous bouquets, trashy-looking negligees, ugly stuffed animals, and waxy chocolates floating around. So if you decide that 2/14 is a good day to give your SO the cool thing you've been meaning to give them anyhow, make sure that it's something tailored to their interests and not some piece of cheap red plastic.

Anyhow, happy Valentine's Day to all you lovebirds, and special congratulatory wishes go out to Mr. Sandefur, who is spending his day with a fiancee, not a girlfriend. I suppose this means the posts about hot chicks that so irritated me are on permanent hiatus. All hail the civilizing effect of woman.

UPDATE: Dirrty girl C. Aguilera is engaged, too. I will bet $100 that her wedding won't be as tacky as Britney's.


Via Jacqueline Mackie Paisley Passey, I note that yet another man-impersonating-a-woman blog fraud has been revealed. So Libertarian Girl (who I linked to once myself) is not actually a hot blonde? Didn't we already see this once before?

I think the moral of the story is that brunettes are more likely to be actual women online. Because how many real blondes are there, anyway? ;-)

The guy behind LG has some things to say about the relative ease of popularizing a blog "by" an attractive female. I know this blog has many readers that it would not otherwise have because I am a young woman who posts about kissing. C'est la vie.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

House of Flying Monkeys

I accompanied my boyfriend to a showing of House of Flying Daggers this weekend. I now wish that I had not convinced him to give this film a shot and had instead gone with our initial impulse and seen Bad Education. As a Netflix member and severe tightwad, I try to only watch movies in the theater if I cannot wait for video or if the film in question seems like it would lose something in the translation to a small screen. Action movies seem to require big-screen treatment, so I agitated for HoFD. What a fool I am. (Some mild spoilers follow.)

Unlike Will, I enjoyed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, although I thought it was a bit too long and tried to pack in too many sequences. HoFD is the same length as CT,HD but managed to both drag at the beginning and end abruptly. The film leaves many questions unanswered: the identity of the true leader of the Daggers, the outcome of the final battle between the rebels and the government, even the purpose of the Daggers' existence (they appear to be standard Robin Hood types, but what sort of government do they wish to replace the weak emperor with? ).

All this is set aside so we can follow the love triangle between Mei, a blind dancer who is not what she seems (those who enjoyed Rutger Hauer's 1980s cheese tour de force Blind Fury will appreciate her early scenes; others may scoff); Jin, a county captain of police who organizes a fake prison rescue forMei so she can lead him back to her contacts with the Daggers; and Mei's old flame, who has been in a deep-cover assignment for three years with the objective of impressing Mei, and who will not take rejection well. I found the acting of the two male leads quite good, but was struck by the implausibility of the love bond's rapid formation. And if you know your stalker is a keen hand with magical Patriot missile type heat seeking daggers, why make it obvious that you're abandoning him for a government stooge?

All in all, HoFD is not as action packed as you might expect, and the love story lacks emotional punch. Unless you are a real fiend for costumes or cinematography, wait for DVD.

International Kissing

Now all I need is to somehow convince Americans to take part in an event like this . . .

Saturday, February 12, 2005


Apparently my boyfriend often ticks off Mr. Sandefur because they "are so alike." I do not think of Messrs. Baude and Sandefur as being particularly similar, but I know the latter only through his writings (which do tend to irritate on occasion), and am so utterly taken with the former as to brook no comparison with anyone.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Quarter System

An actual victim of the law school quarter system sets off flares to warn Stanford away.

Check In

It's a lovely day in scenic New Haven; the skies are blue, I have a stack of Loeb Classical Library versions of Horace, Cicero, and Ovid, a waffle iron, and we are about to have steaming bowls of oatmeal with raisins. Life is delicious.

Blogging will be light.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Paging Gary Becker?

The anti-copyright crusaders at Boing Boing need to take a class on the economics of crime. There's nothing wrong with having higher penalties for one type of content theft than for another if one is much more difficult to police. If your chance of being prosecuted for downloading is 1/1,000,000 and for shoplifting 1/1,000, then for both crimes to have the same expected sanction, the penalty for downloading should be 1,000 times harsher than the penalty for shoplifting.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

SLS Moving to Quarters?

Stanford Law School may be moving to the quarter system. Why any law school would deliberately put its students at such a disadvantage is beyond me. Surely it's not impossible for students at the law school to take classes on the quarter system at other schools within the university at present. And why not alternate years for a joint degree program, rather than try to take a mixture of law and other courses? Perhaps my SLS connection will weigh in on this debate.

Game, Set, and Match: Virginia Officially Stupider Than France

Spiffy Tiffy sends along a link to the latest dumb legislation attempt out of Virginia: fines for wearing low riding pants.

UPDATE: Want more Virginia legislator stupidity? Del. Richard Black has spearheaded the protests against a student-written one-act play in which it is implied that two boys kiss.

UPDATE 2: But France comes from behind with yet more stupid internet litigation! Who will triumph?

Interview Horror Stories

Fitz-Hume tells the tale of the worst interview ever over at BTQ. I have tons of weird and terrible interview stories: the one where I somehow ended up talking with a libertarian public interest outfit for 15 minutes about my desire to join JAG, the one where I told the interviewers that my selection of their firm was "sort of arbitrary," and the time that I snarked on the firm's casual dress policy without realizing it to a member of the hiring committee (she was wearing a suit, to be fair). And then there was the callback in which the interviewer spent the entire time telling me about Nigerian oil pipelines and his new parrot (complete with pictures). I am so excited about having to look for jobs for after my clerkship.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Uncharitable thoughts

Via Southern Appeal, I note that the founder of Habitat for Humanity has been fired for sexual harassment. He contends that his rural Georgia upbringing made him physically demonstrative. Pah. Old dogs can learn new tricks, like respecting women's wishes to not have their space invaded.

I've posted before about my disillusionment with Habitat, but the departure of a rump-slapping good old boy won't change the fact that the charity is more about helping volunteers feel good about themselves than about providing houses for the deserving poor.

Fun with words

For the first time, my notes for a class include the word "antidisestablishmentarians."


Hear hear!

Shorter articles make my life easier. I commend the law reviews for discouraging article padding. Hopefully this new norm will trickle down to specialty journals and non-top 20 law reviews (as opposed to simply pushing the over-long pieces down to us after they are rejected by more highly ranked journals).

DC Gun Suit

A failure on standing grounds (PDF). We just studied this in Fed Courts. I wonder why they couldn't have found someone who was currently violating the D.C. gun law as a test plaintiff . . . it's not as if there aren't a lot of people packing illegally in the District.

Monday, February 07, 2005

For that special someone

Things I did not buy for my boyfriend for Valentine's Day:

-Honey with hornet enzymes

-A teddy bear in a straitjacket

-A trip to contact primitive tribes

-Pu Erh (tea that's been buried in the ground and fermented)

My own personal nightmare

If I had to work in an office like the one discussed here I would go postal inside of a week. All the screaming, gurgling, babbling . . . it's like fingernails on a chalkboard. Maybe in a building where every employee had her own soundproof office, or at least a door to close, it might be tolerable. But that would include a vanishingly small percentage of women in the workforce. And in a world in which companies are now monitoring your bathroom time and seeking to reduce it in the name of efficiency, does anyone expect corporate America to smile and accept that significant parts of your working day will be spent persuading your three year old not to put the stapler in his mouth and cleaning vomit off your copy of the TPS reports? The entitlement is staggering. Prepare to be outsourced.

And if all this nonsense actually gets pushed through and then the parents say I can't bring a dog to work because it will scare/contaminate their precious babies . . . here comes the crazy.

Sunday, February 06, 2005


Three journal articles looked over, class reading done, red beans and rice on the stove, and a fun painting completed. Life is good.

p.s. the dog's name is Linus.

Not-so-public art

So you read about the City of Paris being a blob of greed by claiming that nocturnal photography of the Eiffel Tower is copyright infringement. Maybe you scoffed and thought such silliness could never happen here.

You might not want to go crazy with that camera in Chicago either. Apparently the most eye-catching piece of public art in Millenium Park is copyrighted. As with the Eiffel Tower, amateurs are not currently being charged or sued for photographing the work in question. But presumably if you made money off a blog and posted pictures of the sculpture on it, you could be liable for infringement.

Get 'em while you can: pictures of Cloud Gate. Someone should slap one of these on a t-shirt just to be annoying. (Via Boing Boing, as usual)

Vacation Suggestions?

I will be in Spain (flying in and out of Madrid) for one week, subject to a student budget. Does anyone have ideas as to what two young women could do in that time and place? Day trips or overnights in neighboring cities okay.

Natalie Dee Came Out of the Sea

Natalie Dee is totally awesome. I think my favorite drawing is this one, although after my first workout in *hrumphahem*, this other one is probably more appropriate.

Will my PBF allegiance be overthrown? Not as long as stuff like this keeps coming out.

P.S. I can totally relate to this.

Saturday, February 05, 2005


The Manolo, he is very right about the men in the hats: they are super fantastic.

Apples are tasty.

Interesting thoughts on the Garden of Eden by PG. These notes would have made my answer in Legal Profession class to the question of what I would do as Adam and Eve's lawyer much more expansive.

Treat Every Girl Like Sister!

From an archive of American social hygiene posters come these choice samples:

One that reminds me of my boyfriend's liking for fresh faced women

Unless you maintain the correct dancing position, the race may be endangered!

The double standard addressed: not bad for the 1920s

This advice on building a home is still good.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Anniversaries of Natalities

Happy birthday to Jeremy Blachman and (belatedly) cd's Phoblog.

Internet deprivation leads to snark

Posting is from the library this afternoon, as I am trying to knock out next week's reading by removing myself from my apartment. Of course, the desktop machines are still around, but it's much easier to marshal my self-control and only get online after one subject's worth is done if my laptop is not right there tempting me.

Thomas Aquinas makes my head spin. Maybe this is because I lack the grace required to appreciate the writings of the Angelic Doctor. Then again, maybe it's because using "reason" to justify persecution and murder of religious dissenters makes no freaking sense. Oh well. I'm sure a two-time winner of the NYU Law teaching award can bring it all together for silly little atheist me in Monday's class.

I'm going to scamper back to my (uncomfortable) study chair by the window and dive into the pleasures of Legal Profession reading. A critique of the traditional model of legal professional ethics: be still, my beating heart.

NIV with a ribbon bookmark

To continue the early 1990s rap theme, I'd like to pass along this Christian parody of Baby Got Back.

UPDATE: More Baby Got Back, this time in Latin (carried over here) and Greek.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

The laughter, it hurts me.

From a Photoshop contest asking participants to create their own fake Windows features:

And now, back to Fed Courts.

Amusements, successful and unsuccessful

So I was going to make my next 50 Book Challenge read Tristam Shandy, but 80 pages of it has taught me that Sterne puts me to sleep. There is also the pressing matter of 60 pages or so of Fed Courts reading. Luckily, I have read eight books thus far and thus have some slack in my schedule. Perhaps when my copy of Textual Poachers is recalled I can return to the challenge.

I requested my complete Netflix history today and discovered that I have watched 42 DVDs in the last four months: 9 Oz DVDs and 33 movies. That works out to $1.71 per disk. I'm never going back to store rentals.

France v. Virginia: Crazy Law Sudden Death Elimination Round

I have an overwhelming urge to dig out my old vacation photos of the Eiffel Tower and upload them to this website.

Tangentially relevant American case here.

American case law here (a trademark case, but along similar lines).

Under my interpretation of the Berne Convention, U.S. courts need only provide the city of Paris with the same rights that would be provided to American copyright holders - in this instance, none. Presumably a U.S. court would refuse to enforce a French decision in favor of the city under the LICRA decision. But should the city decide to more vigorously enforce its copyright in the image in France, there's nothing to be done, correct?


Kissing Genes

As the founder of International Kissing Day, I keep tabs on kissing news. I found this story quite amusing; apparently the gene which instigates the changes of puberty does so by producing a protein called kisspeptin.

Coincidence? I think not.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Legally Brunette

Thanks to the encouragement of the fashion-conscious commenters on this blog, I am now the proud owner of an extremely sassy pink coat. This may be the most girly article of clothing I have ever owned.

Update: Link to coat photo now works.

I'm giving up on Virginia.

If there is one thing I hate, it's the political sound bite (I used to be a political junkie, until it became clear that politics as practiced has too little policymaking and too much bloodthirsty tribalist cheerleading for "our team" at all costs). And my least favorite place for sound bites to be is on your car. I had this discussion with Will Baude during the whole "Support Our Troops" magnet kerfuffle. I am opposed to magnets, bumper stickers, and license plate holders that express political opinions. (Those which express mere affiliations are somehow less objectionable.) The reason is that the more opinionated and confrontational the sentiment, the more it acts as a challenge to to reader. What would normally be an invitation to debate (or, given the forcefulness and crude tone of many such stickers, a flung-down gauntlet) acts as a mere drive-by insult. The driver knows he is offending those who disagree, but he's interested only in making a fleeting assertion of enlightenment and then moving on. If the car is stationary, you're not likely to be inside it and thus not available to convince others. It's just stupid and tacky and does no good for civil discourse.

The only thing I hate more than bumper stickers is the multiplicity of state license plates with political messages. The endorsement of one political sentiment over others is clear (as Mr. Baude knows, I am no friend to government speech generally) and no matter how much the driver pays for the privilege of tooling around with a plate that affirms his own condensed dogma, I can't help but think that it's somehow improper for the state to allow some people to associate their side of an argument (if such radically oversimplified slogans can be called an argument) with the government and not others.

But who could have guessed that my hatred of anti-intellectual sloganeering, tacky car decorations, and the ever increasing madness of the Commonwealth of Virginia would come together in one perfect storm? Boing Boing has the next logical step here.

Admit it!

So excited: I was admitted to the other spring section of Fed Courts, which allows me to get a new professor and a four day weekend.

On an unrelated note, Warren Bell is a smug jerk. I was all set to boycott any show he writes for, but it's not necessary. None of them are funny, so I never watched any of them anyway. (Ellen, just to be clear, is lame.) I especially enjoyed hearing that the proper criteria for funniness is male (Bell shows no evidence of knowing what women find uniquely funny): that women get male attention by growing breasts, but men get our attention by cracking wise. Because clearly guys never catch our eyes with their bodies, and vivacious, witty women are ignored. I'm not sure what Bell got out of writing this essay or NRO got out of publishing it, except the satisfaction of grinding down women and elevating men. Pah.

Phoebe weighs in here.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Dis. Gust. Ing

I don't normally pay a lot of attention to search engine hits, but one recent Yahoo search was worth noting.

For the string "pretty woman kissing woman," the second search result is this blog.

The number one result is


People who irk me, Vol. 1

-People who post unauthorized, not-for-public-distribution versions of copyrighted articles on their own websites and email them to massive lists. Ask first!

-Whoever was in charge at the Cambridge power department today when they cut our electricity without so much as a warning or explanation to Harvard.

-The neighbors, who cannot. shut. up. I can hear all their conversations. And they watch a lot of televised sports.

The ABA, opening my eyes to the joys of socialism

Here's an excerpt from yesterday's readings for my Legal Profession class:
there are definite character traits that the professional such as the lawyer must take on if the system is to work. . . . the lawyer qua lawyer will be encouraged to be competitive rather than cooperative; aggressive rather than accomodating; ruthless rather than compassionate; and pragmatic rather than principled. . . . It is surely neither accidental nor unimportant that these are the same character traits that are emphasized and valued by the capitalist ethic -- and on precisely analogous grounds. Because the ideals of professionalism and capitalism are the dominant ones within our culture, it is harder than most of us suspect even to take seriously the suggestion that radically different styles of living, kinds of occupational outlooks, and types of social institutions might be possible, let alone preferable.

Cooks Illustrated, Budget Style

I never thought of using Flickr for recipes, but this fellow's delicious-looking cheese and polenta loaf has converted me to both alternative technology usages and the idea of savory Twinkies.

Photos would be an excellent addition to the Waddling Kitchen *elbows classmate*.