Sunday, December 31, 2006


Jacob Levy weighs in on the Althouse/federalism flap:
I just read some more of Althouse's own posts on all this-- which are a really bizarre mix of extreme defensiveness, extreme personal vitriol, and a dramatic interest in herself and her own sense of righteousness. And I then remembered the tone, and remembered where I'd heard of Ann Althouse before. (I know she's become a big-deal blogger, but she's never been on my to-read list.) She was the one who found Feministing blogger Jessica guilty of having breasts while standing in the same room as Bill Clinton. The arguments that followed spiralled nastily quickly-- I think due to that same combination of traits. I don't know Professor Althouse-- never met her-- and I have no idea whether the persona of her blog corresponds to her character. (Blogging's not for everybody, and it can be very tricky to keep control of the tone of one's blogging.) But the blog persona seems to be consistent across the two cases, and to be... something less than admirable.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Two blog wars in juxtaposition

One of the more interesting aspects of following the blog wars mentioned below in parallel is that the characterizations do not differ all that much in substance. Trans people are crazy, libertarians are crazy; trans people are like Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs, libertarians are like the 9/11 hijackers. But the feminist blog war is all about how it's wrong to use "hate speech" and the Althouse/LibertyFund fracas is not. For better or worse, nobody has thus far made much of the fact that someone arguing for greater sensitivity in public discourse essentially calls her opponents mass-murdering mental patients. This strikes me as odd.

UPDATE: And there's something else tying these blog wars together! Ann Althouse agrees with the transphobes about MTFs in the restroom.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Mothra Attacks

Three different people sent me links to Ann Althouse's spectacular flameout today, so I feel like I have to post about it. Althouse, who previously distinguished herself in the left half of the blogosphere by bashing a young woman for the sin of having breasts, has, among other things, criticized a young female Reason editor for smiling too much and Ron Bailey for not smiling enough. (Damned if you smile, damned if you don't! Women can't win.)

Althouse's substantive contention, such as it is, seems to be that people who advocate federalism and limited government should have to prove that they aren't racists because federalism has been used for racist ends in the past. Because you can't just advocate for abstract ideas without some connection to how they play out in the real world, you see. Libertarians who point out that expanded concepts of national government power have led to a lot of bad consequences in the real world, too (witness the Raich decision, or, for that matter, the Fugitive Slave Act) are apparently invisible to Althouse.

Fortunately, they need not be invisible to you. Ron Bailey, Radley Balko, and Virginia Postrel all do an excellent job of addressing Althouse's bizarre meltdown. (Of course, Althouse turned it into a "diva battle.")

Incidentally, this whole spectacle is very amusing in light of Althouse's recent attempts to butter up the right half of the blogosphere by campaigning for "conservative diva" status and the like. She asserts that she has little in common with social conservatives and finds libertarians scary, but somehow expects her hawkishness to carry her through. I think she's finding out that an anti-feminist social liberal who believes in nigh-unlimited government power and the war in Iraq is going to have problems finding a comfortable ideological home.

I also am very curious to hear what Glenn Reynolds thinks of her characterization of libertarians as mentally and morally defective nutjobs. But that's because I love blog wars.

Special Bonus: there's a feminist blog war going on right now, too.

The Emperor's Children

This book sounds like I would hate it so much.
  • Set in present-day NYC
  • Populated by entitled twits
  • Allegedly witty observations of modernity
Gag. What is the antimatter version of this book? A tightly-plotted historical fiction novel about untouchables in India? I would probably read that.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Afghan Tribal Law

You know, when the imposition of sharia might count as liberalization, there's something very messed up going on:
To settle disputes, Mr Kuchi has two main options. He can order a guilty party to compensate its victim with cash, a practice known as wich pur, “dry debt”, or he can order the two parties to exchange women, or lund pur, “wet debt”. By binding the antagonists together—just as in medieval European diplomacy—lund pur is considered more effective. Typically it involves exchanging a 15-year-old, a ten-year-old and a five-year-old girl, to be married into three succeeding generations of the enemy clan. Thereby, and though human-rights groups understandably revile the practice, Pushtuns have peace and happy grandfathers.
Happy granddaughters, not so much.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Ignatius J. Reilly lives. (easily digestible version here)

Bomb throwing continues

Interesting post on interracial dating.

How to get into Harvard (Law)

Commenter "Wohlfordcmc" muses, in the course of insulting me:
I wonder how you managed to fool harvard into letting you in.
Well, for those of us like me, and, if the name is accurate, Wohlfordcmc, who screwed around in high school such that we were only able to gain admission to a former men's college with bunker-like facilities and an institutional inferiority complex, the only way to fool Harvard into letting you in is by applying to a graduate program. I applied to the law school. The law school is where Harvard undergrads who aren't smart enough to hack it in the elite PhD programs go (ask any Harvard grad, even—especially—the ones at HLS), so already the competition slackens! Just follow these easy steps, and you too can have the privilege of attending one of America's most prestigious lawyer factories!

Step 1: Assemble a suitable transcript. Many people with more intellectual firepower than me allowed their college careers to be derailed by booze, women, or MMORPGs. But with judicious course selection and a little focus, you too can get the necessary A/A- average!

Step 2: Ace the LSAT. This is not that hard.

Step 3: Write a killer essay. This is especially important if you're a generic white male with a burgeoning beer gut from a populous state. Ideally, you should have some extracurricular activities you can write about, like how you went to the Middle East for a year to work for a charity that helps Israeli and Palestinian teens become friends, or how you spent the last decade in internal medicine. I wrote about how growing up surrounded by religious fundamentalists who passed out nails to small children to remind them of the crucifixion and violated the constitution left and right made me care about religious freedom. Admissions committees apparently like this stuff.

Step 4: Be a self-obsessed loser. If you were a self-obsessed winner, you'd be applying to Harvard Business School.

So: don't give up, Wohlfordcmc! If I can do it, so can you! And if you're just interested in "harvard undergrads," next time go directly to the source.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Cheesy Poofs Bleg

One of the best things about Little Rock was this Brazilian restaurant, and one of the best things about it was the cheese bread (pão de queijo). I've been trying to reverse-engineer the cheese bread for a while now with mixed results. Maybe throwing this open for suggestions will help.

  • The rolls should be light and airy and taste of cheese.
  • They must be made with manioc flour.
  • Many recipes on the internet suggest that it is hard to get them to rise. I have been using a modified version of the recipe on the flour sack, which includes baking powder, but mine do not rise either.
  • Attempt one: 1 cup flour, 8 oz. shredded "white cheese" from the Latino section of the dairy case, 1 egg, 1 tsp baking powder, enough water to form sticky balls. Produced mostly flat biscuits that had visible cheese throughout and on the exterior (this is not right). The texture was close to the chewiness that's desirable with the yuca flour. I think this was too much cheese.
  • Attempt two: same, but with 2 cups finely shredded romano. Produced small, pale hockey puck biscuits with a bread-like interior concealed within 1/4 inch of rigid crust. I think this was too much flour.
So: any advice? The recipe on the bag actually calls for 1 pound of shredded cheese, but that's just absurd. Should I use milk? Allow more rising time (currently 15-20 minutes)? Move to Brazil? I don't really care for churrascarias, but any recommendations for a D.C. place where I can get pão de queijo and dishes with Catupiry sauce is welcome.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Actual Review: A Confederacy of Dunces

Steve recommended this book to me, and I probably would not have made it past the first chapter had I not known that he would take my abandonment as justification to ignore my recommendation of Cryptonomicon. Every single character in this book is contemptible, pitiful, disgusting, despicable, or all of the above. The passages describing Ignatius made me physically ill. Chapters that were supposed to make the reader laugh provoked only despair and revulsion. The entire book is an immense joke at the expense of a mentally ill person and his intellectually deficient neighbors.

But it is so well written, I could not put it aside. The dialogue is perfectly imperfect in its dialect. The characters' mad obsessions are realized with acute perception. The setting evokes the past without being dated. This is one of the best books I have ever hated reading. I may even read it again.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Quasi-Review: Winter's Tale

I bought this book because I'd heard internet rumblings about it that characterized it as a good fantasy/historical fiction hybrid. After 218 pages, though, I resented even the dollar or so Half Price Books had charged. Then I found this on its Wikipedia page:
The overall feel of the novel is that of magic realism.
I could have saved my dollar! Bleargh.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Bonus points if you can identify the implement.

So. Glad. I live in an Arlington condo.


Tyler Cowen is right; Hanukkah giving is more neuroefficient. Of course, it presupposes sustained contact between the giver and receiver. Christmas is more efficient in another way, since the entire exchange can be completed in a shorter time and your job can expect you to return to work more rapidly.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


Snohomish High School traditionally fired a ceremonial cannon at football games. The cannon, which had been made by students in the metal shop in the Eighties, was fired by JROTC members. In October, the cannon exploded, nearly taking off the leg of one of the cadets. The JROTC instructor says all procedures were followed properly; x-rays revealed that the cannon had a stress fracture in the metal.

Instead of rallying around the victim of the tragic accident, the town has ostracized him and issued anonymous threats to break or blow off his other leg. (They apparently wish to discourage him from taking legal action or jeopardizing the future of the cannon tradition.)

Sue them, kid. Sue them a lot.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Feeding people glass is so funny.

I was going to post about what a gigantic ass Sam Brownback has been, but he got knocked off the charts by Spencer Ackerman, formerly of TNR, now of Tapped.

Celebrity holoprosencephaly!

Tom Cruise's lawyers attack Metafilter for speculating about his genome?

UPDATE: Since fear of suit has inspired the MeFi mods to delete the discussion of the original deletion, get your thinly-veiled gossip here.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Book Review: The Android's Dream & Absolute Sandman V.1

I am sort of afraid to review these books because there's a non-zero chance the authors will read what I say. But: whatever.

If you liked The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, you'll like The Android's Dream. It's self-consciously wacky, but has a grounding undercurrent of surprising political savvy that keeps things from getting too madcap and zany. There was only one plot device that seemed odd (that a sheep from Earth, an ally world, would be used in the coronation ceremony of a deeply xenophobic, racist culture instead of a homegrown artifact or at least something from a Nidu colony). Of course, one can always chalk that up to the machinations of the Church of the Evolved Lamb. Your plot moves much more nicely when several of the characters are working behind the scenes to make it happen. Recommended.

Sandman I liked less well. As someone who feels about dreaming the way other people feel about watching TV, I was set to enjoy this. Unfortunately, making the lead character a functional immortal with few comprehensible motivations other than an intrinsic attachment to the status quo does not make for engaging reading. I kept going for the secondary narratives, but I found all of the Endless fairly dull. How multi-faceted a character, after all, can a personification be? Meh. I think I should really add Gaiman to Bujold and Le Guin on the list of authors that are usually not to my taste.

This is not a good post.

How fascinating do you think everything is? I think it's moderately so.

I put PTN in the Word Cloud manufacturer and it said my most common adjective was "good." Because I am just that lukewarm about the world, I guess.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Ann Althouse on Libertarians

[T]hey are much more disturbing than I had previously thought. There is something incredibly obtuse about the libertarian view, something that misses the reality of human life and that is very wedded to a stark abstraction. In pure form, it is repellent.


Any recs for good winter moisturizer? I used to swear by The Body Shop's sesame body butter, but it's been discontinued. My back is so itchy I could swear I'm growing wings. My only requirements are that it be easily absorbed/non-greasy and have a neutral scent.

Unrelatedly, this post pleased me.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

How I read

With reference to my reading habits, Karl observes:
you do read fiction other than science fiction and, iirc, generally avoid non-fiction. That always puzzled me a little, but even moreso now, as good science fiction is often the way authors address real-world issues without having the readers bringing real-world baggage to the forum. But maybe that is why you prefer sci-fi.
True re: baggage, but the recent blogosphere discussion on speed-reading has made me realize that one reason I avoid non-fiction in favor of fiction is that, like Ezra, I read non-fiction much more slowly than I do fiction. Given the choice between using my precious leisure time to consume an entire book or only part of one, I do the obvious thing.

Teacher, teacher

Ever wonder what your favorite high school teacher is up to? (h/t)

On fiction and science fiction

Not sure I agree with this entirely, but it does describe a fair amount of the fiction I don't read:
General fiction is pretty much about ways that people get into problems and screw their lives up. Science fiction is about everything else.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Wish I was in India

I had it on good authority that I wouldn't enjoy India, but perhaps I was wrong not to go. The scenery is so nice. (h/t Karl)

UPDATE: Why I didn't go to India.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Daily Dose of Stupid II

The most ambitious attempt to catalog humanity's lineage has been stymied by religion. Where's the much vaunted reality-based community on this score?
To tribe members raised to believe the Grand Canyon is humanity’s birthplace, the suggestion that their own DNA says otherwise was deeply disturbing.
To add insult to injury, it sounds like the tribes Indian Health Service is preventing individual members who want to provide DNA from doing so. If this article were discussing Mormons who are disturbed by the idea that Native Americans are not descended from the lost tribe of Israel, would it have the same tone? I doubt it.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Definitely maybes.

I spend way too much time thinking about might-have-beens. For example, I am moderately obsessed with the idea of infinite parallel universes. This usually comes up in the context of a near miss with serious injury. Every time I nearly get run over because I am crossing the street and reading a book at the same time, I think about the Amber1 who was hit by the truck and the Amber2 who was only glanced and so on.

Ditto absurd hypotheticals. Which documents from the library of Alexandria would you save? Which historical personages would you clone? Which altered event in Russian history would have maximum impact on the present? Etc.

Is this just me?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Stalky McStalker

Resolved: that anything you can find out in three Googles or less isn't stalking. Agree/disagree?

In related news, I have been within a dozen feet of Justice Scalia for extended periods twice this week.

UPDATE: The title is was supposed to be a joke. I am not actually stalking anyone, especially Justice Scalia. I just happened to go to two events this week (the Breyer/Scalia panel and a dinner at AEI) where I ended up pretty close to him. I thought it was weird, since my normal number of weekly famous person encounters is zero (although I did see Wesley Clark on my way to work the other day. He was driving a PT Cruiser. heh!). Please, don't disappear me or anyone else.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Appointed Forever

This went around the blogosphere three years ago, but there's a whole new crop of law students and such to hear it now.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Nine ethicists or nine historians?

Quotable quotes from the Nino-Breyer Smackdown (I'm sure you can figure out who said what):

"The ideal rule for an honest judge is 'garbage in, garbage out.'"

"France is a country with 300 cheeses and 2 religions. America is a country with 2 cheeses and 300 religions."

"The 17th century was just terrible!"

"I never took a logic class."

Also: neutrality between religion and irreligion is an "excrescence," dissents are written for their "educational value," and death threats against the living constitution.

Throughout, Breyer was only slightly more revelatory than another liberal justice I've heard speak about the court's inner workings. He also claimed that he couldn't think of a single case in which his principles led him to decide in a way he found personally objectionable; Scalia gave what sounded like this case as an example, which was odd. Breyer's cell phone went off, to many guffaws. It was a huge crowd, and I was lucky enough to get a front-row seat thanks to a run-in with my old boss. Fun, even if the moderator did ask one (1!) audience-submitted question and tossed softballs for the rest of the time.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Daily Dose of Stupid

Never being born ≠ Starving to death after a short and miserable existence!

The author of that book I wanted and the idiot Reynolds linked should duel.


Commerce Bank charges no ATM fees and refunds the fees that other banks' ATMs charge. It is open seven days a week. And the guy who opened my account at the Dupont office was super nice! Other banks are evil. Change to my bank.

Also, I tried Quorn. Made into tacos, it's not bad.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Book Review: Excession

The other night I finished an Iain M. Banks book that I've been reading on the Metro. This was, in hindsight, perhaps the worst way to read this particular book; by breaking my encounters with an already-fragmented narrative up into twenty-minute chunks, I lost some of the nuances. But it was nevertheless a pleasurable, if flawed, read, and I'd recommend it over Banks' more recent release.

I found myself wondering whether, in a novel that focuses like no other on the role of the artificially intelligent Minds of Banks' Culture universe, the author deliberately chose to make the human characters flat, unsympathetic, and uninteresting in an effort to accentuate our identification with the Minds as protagonists. The best passages of all deal with a doomed drone who dies in the first few chapters. I was especially bored by the story about two humans, one promiscuous and one determinedly monogamous, who had a unsuccessful romance and are brought together again by a fit of conscience by the Mind who facilitated their liaison. To sum up (spoilers): Byr had sex with everyone but couldn't have Dajeil without commitment; after deciding to start a family together, Byr slept with someone else; Dajeil attacked Byr with a knife, killing the fetus. Byr left town and Dajeil spent forty years dwelling on Byr's betrayal.

Perhaps commenter Still Closing was right to recommend Bloom on love to me: I could not align myself with Dajeil, who understood Othello's jealousy a bit too well. But neither am I aligned with Bloom's straw-students who are perfectly content to end an affair with a handshake and regard sexual infidelity as a manifestation of another's feeling that must be respected. (These students are, incidentally, unlike almost every young person I have ever met; I wonder whether Bloom had an odd sample or if he just wasn't the sort of person you'd open up to about homicidal feelings you had about an unfaithful former lover.) When confronted with a lover's betrayal, isn't there some middle ground to be trod between murderous rage and studied apathy? Is it impossible to recognize that one has been injured, and deeply, by the abrupt end of a romance without lapsing into rights-violating behavior?

Perhaps the real taming that has taken place is not our ability to love but our ability to refrain from hurting others. Surely a grand and intense perspective on love is not always incompatible with an otherwise modern view on sex and relationships. I'm sure many of us are living proof that what separates the young people Bloom didn't see from the more dramatic characters of literature is, more or less, self-control.

In any case, Banks' story peters out without really shedding much light on these issues; perhaps it's easier to forgive such things in a society where medicine can heal nearly any wound. Then again, I'd be a lot angrier about dying prematurely if I had thrice the lifespan to look forward to, so maybe that's a wash. Why Dajeil feels the way she does (which appears abnormal for her society), why Byr would forgive her revenge, why we care about either of them: it's all left blank. My advice to readers of this book is to focus on the clever machines and skim over the parts about the uninteresting humanoids.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Veronica Mars

Wasn't the rape finale just a ripoff of Scream? And why didn't she take Piz or Mac with her to the room? Grrr.

Contrast and compare

While Craigslist is taking elaborate measures to prevent people advertising for roommates from noting their preference for another kosher-keeping Jew or kidless single (h/t), the creator of The Wire is screening scripts based on race:
I tell agents in Hollywood, don't send me scripts unless they're by African-American writers.
Isn't this illegal?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Bleg X 2

Someone who knows me should really get me this book. I have a feeling the author wouldn't like Battlestar Galactica either. (via)

Also, I hate hate hate anonymous comments. If you don't want to comment under your own name (which, if I actually know you, is pretty shady), can you pick a pseudonym or an initial or something? Please?

Books ARE made out of books, though.

Cormac McCarthy is kind of a jerk:
McCarthy has never shown interest in a steady job, a trait that seems to have annoyed both his ex-wives. "We lived in total poverty," says the second, Annie DeLisle, now a restaurateur in Florida. For nearly eight years they lived in a dairy barn outside Knoxville. "We were bathing in the lake," she says with some nostalgia. "Someone would call up and offer him $2,000 to come speak at a university about his books. And he would tell them that everything he had to say was there on the page. So we would eat beans for another week."
He also has odd standards for literary merit:
His list of those whom he calls the "good writers" -- Melville, Dostoyevsky, Faulkner -- precludes anyone who doesn't "deal with issues of life and death." Proust and Henry James don't make the cut. "I don't understand them," he says. "To me, that's not literature. A lot of writers who are considered good I consider strange."

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Take that, Texas!

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The West


North Central

The Inland North

The South


The Northeast

What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

Monday, November 27, 2006

Permission to be en deshabille?

Some good posts at Megan's blog about relationships and opposite-sex friends.

Never underestimate the ability of psycho jealousy about completely innocent opposite-sex interaction to destroy a relationship. I went out with one guy in law school (let's call him Guano, because I do) who was obsessed with, among other things, my bathrobe. See, I had a guy housemate, and although we'd dated in college we were by that point totally platonic. But because I'm nice, and not a nudist, rather than walking around in a towel or in skimpy pajamas, I wore a bathrobe. This robe covered me from wrists to ankles, came up to my neck, and was always belted snugly. I called it my burqa; it was even blue. But this wasn't enough for Guano. What if the bottom flapped as I walked down the stairs? What if I sat with my knees apart on the couch? I tried to tell him that it would be harder to see more of me in the burqa than someone could were I wearing, say, a dress, or even a tee shirt and shorts. But he harped on it regardless. He also threw a fit over my going to work-sponsored happy hours which one (partnered!) male colleague also attended.

All this is a long way of saying that if your relationship includes permission slips, there's something way wrong.

Book chairs

You could probably have the top one on this page custom-made by a halfway decent woodworker.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

We used to be friends

Steve has a long post on Veronica Mars. I remain disappointed in the season so far: Weevil's ugly, Veronica's a giant bitch, and Wallace and Mac are mostly absent. And don't get me started on Piz. What a waste of screen time.

UPDATE: Turns out that Francis "Weevil" Capra has been puffy and weird-looking due to medications he's taking for a leg injury (prednisone?). If he's been cut from episodes he was scheduled to appear in due to this change in appearance, does he have a cause of action under the ADA or California employment law a la the Hunter Tylo/Melrose Place lawsuit? (h/t Steve)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Books I Don't Read

- Romance novels
- Glorified New Yorker articles beefed up to 150 pages so they can sell for $24.95 in hardcover
- Russian authors, classical and contemporary*
- Those free books I got in college . . . you know the ones
- Philip Roth or Toni Morrison
- Biographies
- Chick lit with pink covers/clip art graphics of legs with fancy shoes
- Fiction by David Foster Wallace
- Hemingway or Faulkner

- Books about the ____-American experience
- Magical realism
- Police procedural thrillers like you see advertised on the subway (you know, A is for Aggravated Assault, in the movie adaptation the bad guy is played by Andy Garcia and Sandra Bullock is the Mary-Sueish female detective)
- Political nonfiction (some of which are also #2)
- Cormac McCarthy

Feel free to gasp in indignation and tell me I'm wrong.

* Includes that Absurdistan guy but not Nabokov.

Authors I've Given Up On, part iii

From the extremely long Crooked Timber thread on the subject, a nice summary of why I avoid much contemporary fiction in favor of genre works:
Do I care, even the tiniest bit, about the delicate epiphanies of an aging bourgeois, the topic of so many contemporary novels? Well, maybe a tiny bit, but if it’s an aging university professor and his fascinating affair with a student or something, not at all.

The Ur-Luke

In the course of a discussion about whether the pervasiveness of religious belief bears on its truth:
it is astonishing how much convergence there is in folk belief

No, it's not. It's no more astonishing than the incredible number of folk cultures that use the pentatonic scale, or the incredible number of cultures that have a myth in which a farm boy living with adoptive parents encounters a mysterious figure who explains to him that he is the true son of the High King and must battle the Dark Lord to save the realm. Does that mean that there really IS a farm boy who is the true son of the High King? No. It means that everybody has some similar built-in ideas about what makes a good story.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Test

Steve was asking me for a while about whether I wanted to go see The Departed. I didn't; it's about Bostonians, and I hate Boston(ians). But I'd also heard, via this NY Times profile, that it completely fails the DTWOF test for films. The test, for those of you who don't click through the preceding link, is that a movie must have
  1. More than one female character,
  2. The female characters talk to each other, and
  3. Their conversation is not about a man.
This is surprisingly hard to do. A Fish Called Wanda only passes if you include Mrs. Leach's brief conversations with her daughter about getting a nose job. The Prestige fails, since I think the only conversation between women are about one of the magicians. I'm not a strict adherent to the test; if I have some motivation to see a film, it doesn't dissuade me. But if I'm already leaning against . . .

Suri Cruise Mystery Birthmark

This kid ain't right. I'm calling it "scar from fetal surgery to repair bizarre birth defect/third eye."

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Favorite Phrase of the Day

"Fugitive Uterus Act"

Delicious Pesto

I made this tonight. It was sooo good, and is better for you than regular pesto. You will need:

3 cups basil leaves (remove stems and bruise leaves)
1/2 cup skim/lowfat ricotta
1/2 cup grated parmesan
4 cloves garlic, toasted in a pan and then pressed
1 shallot, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt+ pepper

Blend in food processor. Eat. And eat. And eat.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Author I've Given Up On

Ender's Game: Threat or Menace?

(Just for the record, I still like Ender's Game, but the Bean-centered reboot with its obsessive flogging of reproduction via Petra's previously independent character disgusted me.)

Authors I've Given Up On

I saw this meme floating around and decided to embrace it.

1. Ursula K. LeGuin: As one of the CT commenters quipped, "Wonderful stage sets. Shame about the cardboard cut outs."

2. Stephen King: Like Robin Williams, he was better when he was on drugs.

3. Lois McMaster Bujold: meh.

4. Gene Wolfe: against my better judgment, I read Sword & Citadel. That was enough.

5. Jacqueline Carey: After the Banewreaker debacle and her disappointing return to alternative-history smut, I've thrown in the towel.

Your additions welcome.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Get well soon, Judge Arnold!

I had heard about this a few days ago, but if it's in the papers, I feel like he wouldn't mind if I mentioned it here. Best wishes to Judge Arnold for a speedy recovery!

BarBri Books

Was one of my first acts as a lawyer to breach a contract?

Someone told me yesterday that you can't sell your BarBri books on Ebay. Since I did this, I was a little disconcerted. I don't have my contract anymore but apparently a fellow bar-taker looked it up at the time and, in California at least, selling the books is kosher. (also)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The flip side of public nudity bans

Show too much and you'll be arrested. We talked about the principles behind that before. There's a proposal in the Netherlands to outlaw not showing enough. The burqa (and the psychological need for the burqa, in instances where women freely choose to cover to escape male gazes) is, to put it lightly, problematic. But I'm not sure that everyone in society has a right to see your face.

N.B. Can't the same arguments about how covering your face insults men by implying that they cannot control themselves be applied to breasts?

Linked without comment.


Show us your papers, or else . . . this.

Imagine you are a student. It's time for midterms; you're up late in the library computer lab working on a paper. Suddenly, the school safety officers start performing "random" ID checks in the library because it's after hours. This is all well and good (it's standard policy) but you're suspicious that they seem to be "randomly" selecting you, an Iranian-American. You're pretty irate about this, and, wouldn't you know it: your wallet's back in your dorm room. They start telling you to leave. You refuse; you're working on a paper, they're singling you out, and anyway, you do have a right, as a student, to use the lab. Eventually the ineffectual safety officers call the campus police to eject you, but by that time you're already heading for the door in a huff.

But as you're on your way to the door, one of the campus cops grabs you! "Get off me!" you shout. And then you are swarmed by more cops, all grabbing you. You go limp. You were on your way out; if they want to throw you out, they can damn well carry you.

Then the cops shock you with a taser. They do it again and again, screaming at you to get up as you lie on the floor, muscles locked in spasm, and shocking you once more when you do not (because you cannot) rise. Bystanders (your fellow students) scream for mercy, then become upset on your behalf. Several demand the officers' badge numbers and, in response, one cop brandishes a taser at them and offers to shock them as well.

Eventually the officers get you in handcuffs and begin dragging you out the door. As they carry your limp, pain-wracked body, one of them shocks you again. For the road.

But don't rely on my account. Watch the video.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


If you want to maximize the amount of liquid cosmetics you can carry on planes these days, you might try switching to solid shampoo. I am strictly a Brilliant Brunette person these days, but when I had waist-length locks I used to swear by their Gentle Lentil (since discontinued, alas).

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

And don't get me started on that Bamber guy.

More reasons to dislike Battlestar Galactica. (previously)

I have a pen pal.

When I was in Japan, a very nice, very elderly former oncologist chatted me up on the train and asked me to be his pen pal. A couple of weeks ago this came in the mail. Aw.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


I hate podcasts. At no point do I have the desire to listen to rambling blogger when I could read that same rambling in much less time. But video adds something special, or at least a distraction for the eye.

All this is prelude: would anyone be interested in videoblogging on this site?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Mmm, burritos.

Lovers of Judge Friendly's chicken opinion will enjoy hearing about this case, which settled this pressing question: what is a sandwich? Answer: not a burrito. (via)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sunday Bake: Tropical Edition

To brighten up a dreary day and to provide snacks for our gaming, I made two yummy baked treats this weekend: pineapple upside-down cake and lime bars. The lime bar crust is made of animal crackers and butter, and the cake was delightfully sweet, if oozy. The recipes are from Cook's Illustrated Online, to which I have recently subscribed.

(I won at Trivial Pursuit, as usual. *preens*)

UPDATE: The pineapple upside-down cake recipe is here.


Justice Scalia on female law clerks:
"Other things being equal, if there's a male applicant and the female applicant, and there's no other distinguishing factors between them, I will take the female because she's a civilizing influence."

(h/t Steve)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Establishment of religion

Why is it that the BlueBook contains citation formats for every international source known to mankind but does not include those for religious sources other than the Bible?

Stub bonus

Weekend cat blog from elsewhere: three-pawed kitten.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Brad Pitt is not hot.

At Throwing Things, they're hashing out hot versus pretty. I like this:
see, I have this slight problem where all the men I find attractive are a la Edward Rochester.
As long as we're talking pre-fire, I agree.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Supreme Court : Kennedy :: Senate : Lieberman :: Executive : _____?

I also thought it might be a good time to link to this old faux-expose of White House secrets. So many personnel changes.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I am old, I am old

Or maybe it's just that I no longer live on the West Coast. Staying up for election returns (especially when squeakers are likely to be drawn out for weeks) is just not fun anymore.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

All opposition to military recruiting is wrong?

I was going to write a long post on why this is totally absurd, but it looks like the commenters are taking care of any arguments I would have made.

Feminism is not a dating service

Or is it?

This cannot end well.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Follow the hawk.

Borat roundup here.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Fashion Bleg

I am looking for a trenchcoat with the following properties:

- Waterproof
- Has removable liner
- Available in buff/khaki/taupe (basically, not black)
- Available in petite sizes
- Stylish (or at least not frumptastic)

Any ideas?

Friday, November 03, 2006


Karaoke songs sung by this blogger: zero
In-N-Out products consumed: zero
Billable hours billed today: 3.5
Hits in my Lexis search: 648
Alcoholic beverages consumed since arrival in LA: zero

I am no fun.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Puttin' on the Ritz

Did you know the Huntington Gardens closes at 4:30pm in the fall? Rats. No pretty flowers for me.

In other news, I am in a fancy hotel. GN: no rubber chicken. BN: really tasty cookies, all the time. I am starting Calorie Restriction when I get back, with the emphasis on the latter part of the sentence.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Southern California wants to be Western New York

Or not, at this time of year. I'll be in L.A. for a work thing until Friday, but blogging will continue unless I dump an In-N-Out strawberry shake on the keyboard.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

On the engagements page

As first lines go, this one is a gut-punch. (via)

Monday, October 30, 2006

No Mariner's Revenge?

Other than that, an excellent show. Meloy took someone's camera and snapped a bunch of photos on stage. I hope someone posts it to Flickr.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Random grouse

Any internet discussion that begins as a general one about bras will inevitably focus on the large of boob.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Prestige

You know, I can suspend my disbelief when it comes to physically impossible sci-fi twists, but an English lord who doesn't have an English accent? WTF?

Other miscellaneous impressions:

- At the risk of sounding like any heterosexual male who also saw this movie: not enough Scarlett Johansson. We're supposed to believe that she's angry at being sent away, but we don't see enough of her to become invested in her relationship beforehand.

- David Bowie looked Botoxed within an inch of his life. But he was still hot. Yes, I watched Labyrinth too many times as a kid.

- This was a movie with two male leads. Perhaps both actors should have been of roughly equal acting caliber, so as not to distract the audience with the contrast between Wolverine and a real thespian.

- If I have call to dress up for Halloween next year, Steve and I are going as Batman and Robin. Just because.

Email Update

If anyone, for any reason, still uses to contact me, you should know that that address will cease to function soon. Please use the address from the contact link in the sidebar.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Musings on the beast with two backs

Some interesting discussion about bestiality and the importance of consent in sex here.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


It's the radical notion that women are people. Not, say, meat.

The full comments are here; via.

This makes my head swim with random metaphors: You ain't nothin' but a hound dog . . . but dogs are unclean. An alley cat? At night, all cats are gray? (At least the shameless hussy-cats.) But that makes women cats instead of the Satanic meat-puppets. Oh well.

He is right about leaving food out, though. I'm going to go wash the dishes so Lily isn't tempted to rape and pillage my dinner plate.

Rumor has it . . .

. . . that Arthur Miller,* currently visiting at NYU, has sold his house in Cambridge and is leaving HLS for good. Can anyone confirm?

* So did he vote on this or what?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Tragically unhip

Snape has returned home from the hospital and is hobbling around. Lily apparently decided she liked being an only cat and hisses or growls whenever he is within a six foot radius, but other than that, things have returned to normal.

Because we all need a laugh

Don't you just hate That Guy? I know I always did.

N.B. Steve is emphatically not That Guy. It's one of his many good qualities.

Jeremy Irons!

What a law school classmate called my fascination with "washed-up Englishmen" is given a respectable rationalization here (via).

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Say what, professor?

More on the unrest at Gallaudet from the NY Times:
Students at Gallaudet have complained that Dr. Fernandes, who learned to sign only when she was 23, does not communicate well in A.S.L. — a point the university disputes — and that she has permitted professors who do not sign well to continue teaching, putting students at a disadvantage at the one institution where, they say, they should not suffer for being deaf. These students, forced to lip read or make do with poor signing, may not catch every word.
Hearing students have been complaining about this stuff for years.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Damn dirty apes, that's us.

You know, I'd say that I can't wait until the human exceptionalists confront intelligent non-human life, but I'm pretty sure that they are the reason our planet will be destroyed by extraterrestrials.

So cool.

Make your hair glow for Halloween. (via)

1001 Books to Read Before You Die

Via Bookslut. The list is here. My paltry accomplishments are highlighted.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Shelfworthiness redux

Why are modern books so floppy, garish, and hideous?

This is actually a problem with translations, because many of the new ones are much better but the older ones are available in nice hardcover editions. I liked Edith Grossman's Don Quixote, and the volume is not bad looking, but it is very large (I should know; I carried it all over Eastern Europe in a backpack).

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Vacherin Mont-d’Or AOC


This may be the best cheese I ever had. Creamy, runny, rich. It smells like a giant lump of mold, but don't let that dissuade you. Eat; it's in season now.

My kitty is broken.

So after two different vets and a set of x-rays, we have determined that Snape fractured the neck of his left femur. On Monday the surgeons here will performing a femoral head and neck ostectomy, which as far as I can tell involves shaving his hind end, cutting him open, removing the now-severed ball of his femur from the joint, sawing off the neck of his femur, and then stitching him up and sending him home the next day. This is apparently a better procedure than just putting the bones back together because it avoids the risk of developing arthritis in the hip joint. It will cost about $3000.

We still don't know how this happened, but I am looking for new housekeeping services, so if you have any recs for maids in the D.C. area, please let me know.

Friday, October 20, 2006

I don't like Ann Bartow

And you shouldn't either.

UPDATE: But it was all a giant misunderstaaaanding, you see . . .

Someone is going down.

I got home tonight and found my hallway full of soapy water and my cat limping.

The only people here between 8 and 7 were the maids.

You can screw up polishing my furniture and I'll just grumble, but NOBODY messes with Snape.

Fish IS brain food

Eating omega-3s reduces violence in certain populations. I was particularly interested in this passage, given the surge in depression diagnoses in the last decade or so:
Animal studies have shown that those deprived of omega-3 fatty acids over two generations have offspring who cannot release dopamine and serotonin so effectively.
When did mothers stop forcing cod liver oil down the throats of their children?

The past is a foreign country

The past of a foreign country doubly so. I've been reading My Name is Red and the characters are even more unnatural and unrelatable than aliens in the science fiction novels I enjoy. The part where Shekure casually refers to her universal desirability as a twelve-year-old, the ongoing plotline about how depicting objects in a realistic manner inevitably leads to idol worship . . . I'm having trouble relating to the book.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Why I don't play computer games.

They eat your life.


You know those scholarship services that had you fill out a huge questionnaire asking if you are left-handed or a coal miner's daughter or from a particular county? And then they emailed you updates on various things that you could apply for? Could you have one of those for class actions?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Ah, to be back in DC

Pitzer : CMC :: Gallaudet : _____?


Nate & Hayes is on DVD.

I found this out from Geoffrey, who was much less excited than I am.
I have just seen the greatest possible evidence that Netflix is a bunch of lying scoundrels, with as little regard for the truth and human decency as the basest blackguards who ever shot a man in cold blood.

I was looking for movies, and Nate & Hayes was one of the ones that came up on a page. They claimed that based on my recommendations, I would probably rate it a little over 3 stars.


Monday, October 16, 2006

The Ghost Brigades

I recently finished John Scalzi's The Ghost Brigades. I found his previous book quite enjoyable, and although The Ghost Brigades is a sequel to that book, it also can stand alone.

The Ghost Brigades is a more obviously philosophical book than its predecessor, with an extended meditation on self. This focus posed a certain problem for me; I found it difficult to grasp the distinctions the characters were trying to make between the mind and the consciousness.

SPOILERS: Although my recollection of Old Man's War is shaky, why should there be, even under the rules of Scalzi's world, a substantive difference between transfering the conscious mind of an old person into a new body and transferring a computerized pattern of the same to a new body? Shouldn't the new bodies in the first instance also have burgeoning consciousnesses of their own, just as the Special Forces bodies do?

I like to think of myself as a smart person, and I feel quite irritated at being baffled by a book. What am I missing?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Sunday Dinner: Spicy Chicken with Lemongrass and Lime

Tonight I made a very tasty dish from this cookbook. It was easy, fast, and filling.

Spicy Chicken with Lemongrass and Lime
(serves 2)
1 tbsp peanut oil
1/4 cup minced shallots
1/2 tbsp minced ginger
1/2 tbsp minced garlic
1/4-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper, depending on heat
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cilantro
1/2 tsp sugar
Lemongrass (see note below)
Two skinless, boneless chicken breasts
Salt and black pepper
1/2 tbsp lime zest
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp cilantro for garnish

IMG_1256First, saute the red pepper, ginger, garlic, and shallots in the oil until pasty, then add the turmeric, sugar, and cilantro and cook for one additional minute. Then add the lemongrass and 1 cup of water. (On lemongrass: the recipe called for 1 stalk of the fresh kind, but I only had dried lemongrass. I used two large pinches of 1/4 inch in diameter.)

Then add the chicken, salt and pepper and make sure the chicken is bathed in the sauce before you cover the pan and simmer it until the chicken is cooked (10 minutes for whole breasts, less for smaller tenders or cubes). Then uncover and turn up the heat so the liquid can evaporate and the chicken can brown on the bottom (I was too impatient for this part). Add the lime zest, fish sauce, and cilantro (this last I forgot), dump over some jasmine rice, and eat!

I think this could use a touch more lime flavor: maybe a small spritz of lime juice at the end. Lemongrass is tough and you will want to pick it out as you are eating.

Interesting question

Are psychopaths homo sapiens?

Taste in fictional men

No Spock? No Picard? Heretic.

Then again, I had a years-long crush on Tyrion Lannister, so who am I to talk?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The criminal mind

Being put in jail: insufficient deterrent.
Having your masculinity made "questionable" by wearing pink: sufficient deterrent.

Is it not sad that Texan men are more afraid of having to wear a traditionally feminine color than they are of confinement? (via)

Friday, October 13, 2006

Review: Mark's Duck House

Unlike Tyler Cowen, I liked the duck at Mark's Duck House. Of course, ordering the half duck spoiled my diet, and if it had been just a bit more savory it would have been perfect, but rarely do I order something in a Chinese restaurant that has only ingredients I like (here: duck, scallions, pancakes, sauce). A simple pleasure.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Veronica Mars Legal Point

Taking into account California law, didn't the sorority house have more pot plants than are permitted for personal use?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I should drive to work.

To the girl who sneezed a three-inch gobbet of snot on my pants leg on the Metro: thanks for waiting until the departing woman in the next seat informed me of it to apologize. Also, thanks for offering me a napkin to remove your bodily fluids and then refusing to take back the napkin once I managed to clean off your little present. I do so enjoy holding strangers' snot until my stop.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

So . . .

. . . when do we get the elephant equivalent of Batman? (h/t)

Monday, October 09, 2006

Schmenternational law.

I would have chosen Columbia, NYU, or Chicago over Harvard had this travesty been enacted before I attended law school. (I refer to the focus on international law, not the mock-litigation format, which sounds like an interesting idea. However, the two changes in tandem are absurd; HLS already teaches the law of no particular place in a vague way; soon it will teach the law of a vaguer area in a more specific manner. Hmph.)

Arthur Miller already left HLS in a huff when they changed Civ Pro from a two-semester class to a single semester. Even if he went along with the faculty vote, I can't imagine he's pleased at the prospect of reducing Civ Pro's class hours.

Start Date

While my old compatriots in government take the day off, I'll be having my first day at The Firm. Wish me luck!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Last King of Scotland

I was going to write a review of The Last King of Scotland, but Steve wrote one for me so you can just read it instead.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Dahlia Lithwick is Wrong, Wrong, Wrong.

Dahlia Lithwick claims to have the solution to the problems plaguing the institution of judicial clerkships: chiefly, that they are elitist and that clerks wield undue influence over their judges. She asserts that clerkships should be limited to one year per person. One could be a federal appellate clerk or a Supreme Court clerk, but not both, as is commonly the case at present.

This is perhaps the stupidest thing Lithwick has ever said. Her solution will exacerbate at least one of the problems she attempts to remedy, and it will have little or no effect on the other. Additionally, it may have an adverse effect on the quality of legal decisions. Setting aside how effective such a rule would be (if it's anything like the clerkship application moratorium, it will be adhered to only to the extent that the judges find it beneficial) and how we'd deal with unpaid summer clerkships and externships (which of course would probably be viewed favorably by judges and which are more likely to accrue to wealthy students at wealthy law schools), let's look at what would happen under Lithwick's plan.

The amount of clerking experience held by Supreme Court clerks would decrease by at least 50%. Judge Posner claims that the modern clerkship has brought no improvement in the quality of legal decisions. But does it necessarily follow that a dramatic reduction in the amount of relevant experience each clerk has will have no effect? Previous clerkships hone legal research and writing skills that are valuable to those who choose to clerk at higher levels. And given the immense stakes involved in Supreme Court litigation, shouldn't the clerks working on those cases be doing as little on-the-job learning as possible?

Lithwick means well when she notes that her proposal would result in more people clerking. However, at present it is possible for nearly all people who are interested in clerking to do so; they may not get their first choice of jurisdiction, but it is usually possible for qualified applicants to obtain some clerkship. Lithwick assumes without evidence that there is an untapped pool of interested, qualified applicants for clerkships. I question this, and ask whether less motivated, less fit applicants should clerk.

Without question, though, there are some very intelligent people who are not justly served by the current clerkship application process. As observers of recent Supreme Court clerkship hiring may have noted, a few schools and feeder judges predominate. But Lithwick's proposal will replace the weight given to feeder judges with even more weight given to schools, and perhaps to professors within those schools. People lucky enough to be able to ingratiate themselves to a prominent professor or former colleague of the Supremes (most of them have taught and presumably retain relationships with faculty) will have an advantage; applicants from other law schools will be left out in the cold. The current clerkship process, which permits multiple clerkships, allows candidates from less well-known schools to distinguish themselves. Under the regime Lithwick proposes, such persons would probably be passed over in favor of yet another Yale or Harvard student.

Lithwick also claims that limiting clerkships to one year will address the problem of clerks' undue influence over judges. It seems to me that this ignores the strongest determinant of whether this will occur: is the judge smarter than the clerk? If the judge is smarter, then one additional year of clerking experience (under an entirely different person, with an entirely different psychology) will not allow a clerk to exercise Svengali-like influence over him. If the judge is not — well, perhaps we'd be better served by appointing smarter judges? It seems to me that along this dimension, the success of Lithwick's plan depends on its ability to reduce the IQ of the average Supreme Court clerk. For the reasons I've already mentioned, this is undesirable.

In effect, Lithwick proposes to reduce the amount of information available to judges in making their clerkship hiring decisions, to constrain the ability of law students to clerk at varying levels and obtain different experiences, and to decrease the amount of knowledge and experience wielded by people inextricably entwined in the highest levels of the practice of law. In exchange, we will get little of the benefits she claims will follow. This is a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad idea.

Sky above me like a full recovery

Does this hoodie not rule?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

I wasn't this bad as a 3L.

Great thread on lazy law students at Prawfsblawg. (h/t Dylan)

Inequality along a new dimension

We hear a lot about income inequality, but I don't think this particular manifestation is going to get a lot of energy directed towards solutions. It's probably easier to publish op-eds on universal health care and taxing the rich. (h/t Karl)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Wire: Political Philosophy

Jackmormon asks whether Omar is a libertarian. Since he clearly believes in the initiation of force, I call BS.

Question Time: What I'm Watching/Reading/Etc.

HC inquires:
What are you reading? Or watching? Further thoughts on Rome, or Veronica Mars, and the like.
Re: TV: I am catching up on The Wire and TiVoed the Veronica Mars season premiere so Steve and I can watch it together tonight, so no thoughts on those yet (except: Prez! yay!).
UPDATE: I have seen the Veronica Mars season premiere; discussion in the comments.

I spent altogether too much time reading the Television Without Pity Rome forums and dug up some more historical fiction and nonfiction book recs from that. Thus, my pile of library books at present looks like this:

I also have an audiobook version of Arthur & George for listening while exercising and a Mark Bittman cookbook which I am using tonight to make shrimp curry.

My recent reads include Wild Cards 1 & 2 (meh), 75 pages of the first book in this series (soporific), and Longitude (should have been a New Yorker article, not a book). While I was in Japan, I read Middlemarch, The Master and Margarita, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and all but the last 50 pages of The Portrait of a Lady. The trouble with reading classics is all too often the introductions give the whole plot away. In the case of this last book, I already know the ending, so I haven't been passionate about finishing.

Reading TMaM and WUBC back-to-back was a bit more magical realism than I could bear. I typically dislike magical realism and was shocked that I enjoyed either book, but even my pleasure in them individually could not overcome my strong bias against the genre in general. Ultimately, I prefer more traditional fantasy, or at least fantasy with more rigorous logical principles. Additionally, in situations in which the setting is not a key element, urban fantasy and magical realism tend to become dated rather quickly. Neither of these books fell victim to this weakness, but I probably won't assume that my liking for them should be extrapolated to other magical realist novels.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

It's on.

The Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy is online. But now so is the Harvard Law & Policy Review.

Eugene Volokh foresees the inevitable submission confusion. It's not this bad, but it's close.

Question Time: Smiles or Nuns?

John puts a choice before me:
(a) smile (wide and beaming) at each stranger you come across every day for a year; or (b) live in a nunnery (abiding by their rules) for 3 months.
Well, I think it would be pretty cool to live in a nunnery. There might be some trouble with the rules; if I bow my head and mutter along, does it matter that there's no belief behind it? If not, I pick B. My wimple would be the starchiest and most spotless of all. (I've worn one before, when I had to dress as the Wife of Bath for part of an AP senior English assignment that rivaled the infamous HLS collage for lack of substance. On top of that, the teacher strongly implied that by assigning me the Wife of Bath she was alluding to my love life. WTF, suburban school district?)

Question Time: Above the Law

huh asks:
What do you think of the "Above the Law" blog? Frankly, I think the guy is losing it. In addition to seeming to be a shrine to its creator's self-aggrandizement, it has lost all semblance of credibility with most of its content. I thought I would enjoy it, since I enjoyed UTR, but I just find it so immature and stupid. What do you think?
I think it's more challenging to amuse readers with self-aggrandizing posts when your identity is known. A3G was not a humble persona either, as I recall, except as pertained to her failure to secure a Supreme Court clerkship. But now that we know the writer's looks, resume qualifications, etc. with precision, we can make more pointed comparisons between the author and his targets. Audience reactions may also be different now that the writer is known to be (like the majority of readers) male. Interpersonal comparisons within a gender are probably easier to make, and readers can therefore measure their own traits against the writer's and judge any braggadocio accordingly.

Additionally, Above the Law has much more frequent posts, as is required by a blog of its type. UTR, being a labor of love, had new material on a fairly intermittent basis, and no need for filler posts on slow news days. I don't particularly care for the posts about lawyerly lifestyles (the houses and such). But I don't think that ATL is much worse than UTR; I think any perceived change is an inevitable result of the shift to a new blogging paradigm.

The comment about credibility puzzles me; does huh mean that the frivolity and personal references undermine the ability of ATL to recite truthful anecdotes? I don't see how this can be so. And how could credibility have been greater under a pseudonymous regime? Meh.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Public Sex on Trial

An Illinois couple faced public indecency charges for having sex in a backyard hot tub. Luckily, they were found not guilty. (h/t Steve)

Question Time

I am at sea w/r/t blogging topics this week, so I'll throw the floor open to questions again.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Discworld wedding cake

This is without question the most awesome wedding cake I have ever seen. (via)

Welcome, LA Times readers

If you are looking for the review of Imperium mentioned in this article, it is here.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Helen Mirren hates smile evangelists

Longtme readers can imagine how much I enjoyed Entertainment Weekly's recent Spotlight on Helen Mirren:
When Helen Mirren is relaxed, her face must look a bit, shall we say, grumpy. While she's lost in thought, strangers will approach and tell her to cheer up. "I hate that!" says the actress, sipping coffee at Claridge's Hotel in London. "Someone comes up and says, 'Cheer up, love!' You know, fuck off! I want to head-butt them!"
(h/t Steve)

Friday, September 29, 2006


From the Above the Law comments section:
Just as "cool Federalist" must equal libertarian, "fabulous blogger" must equal gay.
As you might imagine, I find the first part of the proposition more interesting.

Observed without comment

This recent Volokh Conspiracy post on the yuck factor's relationship to morality received a much different reception than did previous ones.

Plane almost diverted due to in-flight kissing

Federal law requires compliance with crew member instructions, no matter how stupid or discriminatory? (via)

Thursday, September 28, 2006


I've been watching the HBO/BBC Rome series, and while I won't stop watching because, hello, I'll consume any media product about ancient Greece or Rome no matter how terrible, I'm beginning to get a bit annoyed by the cavalier way they've fictionalized events and personalities. It's not as if the actual characters of Servilia, Octavia, Caesar, and the rest weren't interesting in their own right. Steve takes more exception to what he calls the series's "Forrest Gump approach" to Roman history with Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo. This bothers me less, since they're almost entirely fictional.

Any other Rome watchers out there?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

For your viewing pleasure

Here is a selection of my photos from Japan.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

"A personal library is an X-ray of the owner's soul."

Longtime readers can probably guess how much I enjoyed this Chronicle of Higher Education article.
I remember being shocked, for example, by how few books Graham Greene had in his home in Antibes. It was, of course, an apartment, not a big house, that Greene occupied. And he was by nature peripatetic, shifting among countries, even continents, right to the end of his life. It was, he told me, an inconvenience to own a lot of books, as they're heavy in one's bag. So he kept only those authors who really mattered to him: Henry James, Joseph Conrad, and, to my surprise, the 19th-century naval hero and prolific novelist Capt. Frederick Marryat. "Now Marryat," Greene said to me, "there is a writer!"

Cell phone advice?

Sorry to everyone for the crazy formatting. One of my emailed posts from Japan broke the blog.

Anyway, I had intended to purchase a hot new cell phone in Akihabara, but they wanted a lot for phones that were available cheaper in the USA and the cool phones only took Japanese SIMs.
So: Given the following, what cell phone should I get?
  • I use Verizon Wireless and do not want to change because they have a monopoly on DC Metro access.
  • I want a phone with a camera, the more megapixels the better.
  • I don't want anything too huge.
  • Battery life/talk time are very important.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Blogger books don't make big splashes

I hate to agree with the execrable Tucker Max, but he's right to note that the draw of many blogs is the notion of a first-person perspective on some interesting lifestyle: the Harvard Law student, the D.C. quasi-hooker, etc. Once a fictional veil is drawn over the proceedings, our interest wanes. James Frey understood this.

Uh oh.

Top of my browser window:

Bloglines | My Feeds (2708)

It's nice to be back?

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Naughty head, no biscuit.

Your last day in Japan is a bad time to have a migraine.


I normally like to reward myself with desirable material goods after achieving some goal, but at this point it seemed more appropriate to buy myself something now and be virtuous later. The reward is a totally hot skirt, and the catch is that I bought it one size small so I can only wear it after getting fit. Am I the only person who still gives herself the grown-up equivalent of gold stars for being good?

Friday, September 22, 2006

Back in Tokyo

With only a couple of days left in Japan, I find myself concentrating more on what I should buy than on what I should see. This is probably bad. Perhaps I should do something more nature-oriented.

Unrelatedly, I have struck out consistently on the mangosteen front. It must not be in season. But I have had a couple of really good meals, an assortment of solidly competent ones, and one or two unredeemably bad foodstuffs. Savory wins over sweet every time, and Tyler Cowen's ethnic dessert rule holds overseas. The only problem is that I do not know the names of the foods I do like, so obtaining them more than once seems problematic. What is the white vegetable with the holes in it? Or the name of the rice dish mixed with wasabi and some white paste and then covered with clear broth? I still cannot figure out the appetizer I had in France some years back (white paste made of fish and cheese, spread on crisp rounds of bread), so I assume anything I eat over here is a one-time thrill.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


The formal shorts look is so hot here right now. The Fug Girls would be appalled.

All those children the Japanese are not having have been replaced by dogs. There are so many dog clothing boutiques everywhere! I like this idea.

The Japanese apparently love pastries. Yet Japanese pastries are gross. Why?

The sizing here is of course much smaller. I am trying to limit my clothing purchases because I am going to keep going to the trainer when I get back; in any case, when I am an American size one and a Japanese medium there is something afoot. I was tempted to go to the Japanese Gap and check what size I am in the same khakis, but it would have been too depressing.

Not that anyone wears khakis here anyhow. Black, black, black. In one department store there was a whole section of unrelievedly black women's suits in semi-dowdy designs. What are these for?

Women working at sightseeing attractions have to wear absurd cosplayish uniforms with aprons and hats. Guys don't. Grr.

Anyway, despite the tone of some of my posts, I am having a good time. I am not going to get to do some of the mountain climbing I wanted to do because of bad weather, but other than that the trip has been good.


Even if everyone rinses off beforehand, and even if shower caps are required in the public mud bath, you still have to contend with OPH: Other People's Hair. Remember that scene from Ringu when she is at the bottom of the well? Like that.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

International Toilet Rankings

1. Japan - Western style
2. USA / any Western European country except Germany
3. Germany
4. Japan - squat style
5. Turkey - hole in floor with bucket style

Monday, September 18, 2006

Let's Go Japan Sucks.

I have not been this tempted to shotgun a book since 3L year. Damn those Harvard undergrads straight to hell.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Contrary to my previous belief

There is such a thing as too much yuba. Sigh.

The monkey expedition was a day-long adventure, mostly due to my ability to get creatively lost. I was not quite attacked by two angry monkeys, got rained on, missed the bus, made it back to town in time to take the train all the way to Kyoto, and got to Kyoto just as the last rooms in every place listed in my guidebooks filled up. Thank goodness for business hotels near the station.

I have done a lot of shopping in Kyoto and plan to do some more tomorrow before I head to Kyushu. Did you know Fendi has a boutique in Kyoto? I did not. Mmm.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Doomed to rebirth

So I went to Zenkoji today but I failed to find the key to enlightenment. Seeing the snow monkeys is becoming more of a production than I thought it would be but hopefully they will be out bathing and make my day long odyssey worthwhile. I still need to make it out of Nagano today (to either Nagoya or Kyoto, depending on how long I take with the monkeys).

In other news, I had my first terrible hostel experience. Suffice to say that I spent the better part of an hour standing on the street and only the repeated phone calls of a generous stranger to the hostel number resulted in the door being opened. The reason for this ridiculous charade of hospitality? At some point in the 24 hours since my reservation was made, the proprietor forgot it. I was the only person staying there that night, and presumably she decided to take the evening off. Grr.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Tuna as big as me!

Things are still rainy here in Tokyo, so I plan to go up to Nikko and try my weather-luck there. It is funny how the experience of being so conspicuously foreign can make even hardened misanthropes like me sociable. For example, I spent last evening chatting with my roommate at the ryokan --  a first. And this morning I had a nice chat (and some divinely melt-in-your-mouth sushi) near the big fish market. I am now supporting Venezuela in the world karate championship. No telling how webbed-up Nikko will be, but transmissions will continue. Can`t stop the signal, etc.

*Insert shot of Scarlett in her underwear*

I think I saw the Empress coming out of the Imperial Palace this morning. Much shopping was done, many miles were walked, much ramen was slurped. I hope I can make it to Nikko tomorrow. I did not make it to any drippy temples, just drippy gardens adnd drippy malls. Tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Deaf-Mute Seeks Fun

I get the feeling that I am going to be writing a lot of stuff down and showing it to people instead of trying to talk.

It is raining and is unlikely to stop any time soon. Off to dripping temples for me.

Monday, September 11, 2006

On the road again

I'm heading to Japan today, but I'll be blogging from there when possible.

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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Veronica Mars Health Etiquette

I'm all caught up on Season 2, and my most pressing question is: shouldn't Veronica have told Logan that he has chlamydia now?

Friday, September 08, 2006

Justice Thomas Hiring Clerks for OT 2008

Justice Thomas likes to hire his clerks earlier than the other justices do, and he's already begun hiring for the 2008 October Term. Meet future member of the Elect Patrick Strawbridge!

Patrick is a 1997 graduate of the University of Missouri and a 2004 graduate of Creighton Law School. Patrick clerked for the Supreme Court of Maine after law school and received an award for the highest combined score on the Maine bar exam. More recently, he clerked for Judge Morris Arnold of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. As a clerk for Judge Arnold, Patrick demonstrated a passion for the law and a love of cake. He currently works at Preti Flaherty in Maine.

Between undergrad and law school, Patrick was a reporter for the Omaha World-Herald and met his lovely wife, Kristi (sorry, ladies). They have a son, Donnie, and a daughter, Nora, who was Judge Arnold's first "grand-clerk" to arrive during a clerkship. Congrats to Patrick!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Don't do that to her, uh, it.

Legally speaking, is a corpse a person or property? A news story with details is here. (h/t Steve)

VM Fashion

One small part of my enjoyment of Veronica Mars is that Veronica has so many hot jackets. Where could such darling blazers be found? The internet can help. But sometimes not enough.

UPDATE: Okay, I bought this. It's too cute, and I trashed my black leather jacket on my way out of Clerksville.

What you can take on a plane

Neil Gaiman notes:
Toothpaste is out.
Hairgel is out.
"Topical or rash creams" are out.
Lip gels are out.
Shampoos and conditioners are out.
Personal lubricants are... just fine.

I think I must be losing it.

For a moment there, I really planned to drive up to a drug store, buy a 4 oz container of personal lubricant, empty it out, wash it and refill it with toothpaste.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Male Heirs

Couldn't this have been solved years ago with a centrifuge, artificial insemination, and possibly fertility drugs? If you can make your toilet talk to you, why not use technology to avoid this years-long soap opera?

Greedy Associates, quit your bitching.

It could be worse:
Law in general is the laughingstock of the entire professional world. CPA's, accountants, realtors/mortgage brokers, finance kids all know that law pays horrible janitor money and is a miserable job. I was hanging w/ a finance guy the other day and he was stunned when I told him I made 50 K as a LICENSED ATTORNEY. He said that entry-level secerataries at his firm earn 52 K + profit sharing and car rides home.
I work in the Cord Meyer building in the worst firm that you can find. I have health insurance but I make $40K and for the first few months here, I didn't have a desk.
The interview there was really the worst, the partner was suuper arrogant and told me that new associates are really worthless to the firm as they don't know all the tricks of LL/T, and that I would be lucky to work there, etc. Then they asked me if I had the heart to kick out tenants on Xmas eve b/c that's something the firm has done in the past! Did I mention they only pay 40 K with NO HEALTH INSURANCE!
I quit Melli the fax machine burned up 2 toner cartridges with loser toilet school grads dying to work there for 45 K and crappy benefits.