Thursday, May 31, 2007


I'm not especially invested in the debates about the immigration bill, but they do remind me of this anecdote about the current system:

On my way back from Eastern Europe a couple of years ago, I sat next a Romanian woman on the plane. Upon finding out that I was American, she told me that she and her husband, an Orthodox priest (she was a former novice herself) were in the process of immigrating to the U.S.A. She explained that her sister and brother-in-law were extremely motivated to immigrate, to the point of learning English and entering the visa lottery every year for several years. They had always failed to get a visa. This year she and her husband, as a lark, entered the lottery as well. They won. She was uncertain about what she would do in the U.S. although the church was trying to find a place for her husband in Maryland.

The poor sister is still in Romania.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Trainwreck in Progress

This is why I don't feel comfortable aligning with the left. The conversation starts with the idea that hipsters wearing bandanas are committing an act of violence and goes downhill (subterranean, even) from there.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Schlubby Guy + Hot Chick = Hollywood Romance

People are still talking up this movie. When the trailer first aired, I was unimpressed, and I remain so. I might watch it if the genders were reversed (hottie guy has one night stand with plain, frumpy girl and knocks her up) but that doesn't happen all that often in Hollywood. What's more, that plot variation would have required something more than thinly veiled autobiography from Judd Apatow, and he's living in his own head a bit too much for that.

Monday, May 28, 2007

The things you see when you don't have a gun.

This is one of the most disgusting things I have seen in a long time. Read about the whole sordid story. Here is an interview with the two women who rescued the victim.

Some associated links:

The age of consent in California

California law on sexual assault

The Accused

California law on justifiable homicide

Random Grooming Gripe

Why have giant beards become so trendy among D.C. twenty-something guys? This is appalling. If men are going to adopt random 19th c. fashions, why not hats or waistcoats or something?

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Late Caturday

It is hard to type with a cat hugging you.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The soft bigotry of low expectations

If a woman* had written this, people would say, "looks like someone just took her first Women's Studies class." A guy writes it and it's thunderous and prophetic.

* even a famous woman: Natalie Portman or Sarah Polley, say.

UPDATE: Trevor points out that Joss Whedon essentially minored in Gender Studies. If the same had been true of our hypothetical female author, I bet any negative reaction would have included some cracks about how she was only saying this because she'd been indoctrinated by hairy-armpitted campus feminazis.

On Trevor's question of "Is it even possible to communicate this kind of understanding outside of a university classroom?": I've never taken a Gender Studies class. All it takes to figure out the content of Whedon's epiphany, really, is living as a woman, but even empathy and listening to women, or just some critical awareness, should be enough. What we've got here is an extended cover of a Yoko Ono tune, and even Whedon admits it's stale and derivative. That his rant is being lauded all over the web is deeply depressing.

Friday, May 25, 2007


That Jeff Buckley is the most overrated dead musician ever.


At the risk of contributing to yet another online bashing of a female lawyer: this woman sounds appalling.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Androgynous Amber is locked in a closet right now.

I had a weird experience on the street today. This sandwich board guy in Farragut Square kept staring at me. Finally he asked, "Is there some celebrity people are always telling you that you look like?" I said no, but that it was probably very flattering, whoever the person he was picturing was. This is the second time something like this has happened to me in D.C.

So: what z-list celebrity do I resemble? Do I even look like an Amber at all?

Homosociality, Female Edition

In hotels.

In salons.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


That is all.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

For readers of books with dragons on the covers

If you, like me, enjoy fantasy, this comprehensive review of some recent novels in the "hard fantasy" subgenre may delight.

Friday, May 18, 2007


Nobody actually asks me these questions, but I thought some clarification was necessary.

Q: Who are you, anyway?
A: The nutshell description is here. I am a recently minted attorney in the D.C. area who enjoys books, blogging, obscure board games, baking, and harassing my cats. I have gone to libertarian lectures for fun and my idea of a great weekend is buying stuff online and eating Ethiopian takeout. I am a giant nerd.

Q: Why should I care what you say?
A: You probably shouldn't. Most of what is on this blog is frivolous nonsense.

Q: Whose opinions are these?
A: All posts and comments represent the opinions of their authors and nobody else. They do not represent the opinions of my past or present employers, libertarians in general, women in general, or major league baseball.

Q: I know you in real life. May I read this?
A: Yes. This is not a private web diary. If you are a long-lost friend/classmate/whatever, feel free to use this as an opportunity to reconnect. If you are a current acquaintance, I will not feel weird about you reading this, talking to me about it, or commenting on the posts. Consider this an invitation to conversation. It's far more creepy to just lurk than to chip in.

Q: May I e-mail you?
A: My contact information is on the sidebar. Be warned that I prefer short e-mails to long ones, if only because I can more quickly respond to a short one. If you write me a long e-mail, I may not have time to write a similarly lengthy message back for a while, and then I will feel guilty for not having written and will continue to procrastinate until eventually I never write at all.

Q: What's the deal with the blog title?
A: It is a twist on a line from an old movie. I am very short: shorter, in fact, than Napoleon. This blog used to be called "Class Maledictorian," but I changed it after graduating from law school.

Q: I'm thinking of going to law school. Should I?
A: Do you want to be a lawyer? Or are you under the illusion that a law degree is a good general-purpose degree? Or are you just trying to escape the real world and think that's worth taking on $100K in student loans? Think hard.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Vacation

I find it baffling that the same people who:

  • Think wages are too low and should be raised to a "living wage,"
  • Think essential goods and services are too expensive (fresh vegetables, child care, and medical care are the popular examples), and
  • Are aware that wages for many employees are depressed because employers provide health insurance in lieu of cash
are now agitating for universal paid vacation.

This will end one of two ways:

Paying employees not to work = higher total labor costs = higher prices,


Prices stay the same = total labor costs stay the same = hourly wages decrease to compensate for the new benefit.

Anyway, even people who have relatively generous vacation benefits don't always take advantage of them, because Americans expect themselves to work, work, work. All this talk about how America just doesn't understand the European mindset about the value of leisure and society needs to be changed . . . good luck with your culture war, guys. The social conservatives have been waging theirs for years. Those things are like Vietnam.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Being a woman

This is very good. Read it all.
I feel like I'm split. I feel like I either am being Heebie, who is androgynous, or a Sexy Woman, but never both. Even when I'm wearing something hot - and believe me, I've got an awesome fucking wardrobe - I think that as soon as my personality comes out, I cease to be sexy. ... My superego lets me know exactly when I stop obeying the Sexy Script. I'm always aware.

Online, I'm clearly Androgynous Heebie. ... When someone makes a comment like, "She had a really hot body, and a smokin' face" about someone in real life, I jerk myself out of being Androgynous Heebie. I switch over to the Agreed Script. All of a sudden I'm fretting about my weight and my face. Am I cute enough? Am I skinny enough? I hate that side of me. I hate that I so easily slip into that. At least, Androgynous Heebie hates it. Scripted Heebie thinks it's very reasonable.

The thing is, Scripted Heebie is totally stymied online. No one knows what I look like. So Scripted Heebie gets flustered that she can't demonstrate her assets. Scripted Heebie can't participate and be assessed on her face and body. Androgynous Heebie gets enraged. So I lash out at whoever made the comment. Or else I bite my tongue and feel my heart rate rise.

But it's really that Scripted Heebie came out for a moment, and wanted validation, and couldn't be assessed. I hate that. I hate Scripted Heebie. I hate that part of me. Goddamnit.

You don't have to be Miss Manners to answer this.

Not that this is going to come up again for me, but: Is it rude to answer your cell phone on a first date? What if it's your ex? Assume that you are not expecting an emergency call from anyone.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Are Costume Designers Criminals Now?

According to the WSJ Law Blog, the government is arresting people for wearing military decorations they did not earn. The statutory provision in question has no exceptions for artistic license and includes badges, decorations, medals, or "any colorable imitation thereof." Does this mean a remake of Patton would be illegal?

UPDATE: Here's the reg from the CFR. Still not seeing any loopholes . . .

Saturday, May 12, 2007

D.C. Salons?

I really need a haircut, but I think the salon I went to last fall has closed (website is gone and nobody answered the phone today). Any recs for hairdressers in the D.C. area? I don't care about colorists; I'm just looking for someone who can give me a youthful, pretty pixie-type cut, which is apparently harder than you'd think.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Libeling Pomona

The only good thing about Pomona is Juanita's burritos.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The trials and tribulations of the bookworm

Jacob Levy on picking books at the airport. The St. Louis airport had some weird deal where you could sell back books you'd bought from them for half-price and buy another book. This is good, I guess, if you remember to bring books you've already read to the airport.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Having a good attorney is important.

Washington State family illegally sterilizes their disabled child. All they needed was a court order.

It boggles my mind that this is necessary.

First of all, I do not hate poor people.

I hate feeling poor.

Poor people also hate feeling poor. The kinds of things that I don't want to do because they make me feel poor are things that I would only do if circumstances forced me to do so. What's more, I don't think that they are particularly controversial. Raise your hand if you'd rather wait in a bus station in sweltering Houston heat than have your own car. Raise your hand if you'd rather raise a family in an apartment than in a house, especially if most of your children's friends have yards to play in. Raise your hand if you'd rather eat every scrap of food, even the parts you hate, rather than be able to afford to do otherwise.

If you've never been financially insecure, if you've never had to worry about losing your home, or had to buy your clothes at the Goodwill store, or pinched pennies by buying expiring ground beef or eating a 25 cent pretzel for lunch every day, maybe you can't distinguish between a horror of poor people and horror of being poor. Being poor makes you do things you'd rather not. If you are able to refrain from doing those things, the following occurs:
  • You can tell yourself that you are financially secure and that the constant worrying that comes of being or becoming poor is not necessary.
  • You are happier because you get to do things you like.
  • You don't invoke negative emotional associations from past times of financial insecurity and are happier because you are not being cast back into upsetting memories.
Part of this is rational, and part of it is a form of magical thinking (if you refrain from behaviors associated with poverty, then you can avoid becoming poor). But none of it is about disdain for people in poverty. It's about feeling safe.

As regards status and terminology, many people have observed the curious, yet near-universal, American propensity to claim membership in the middle class. Becoming aware, by way of having to engage in poverty-necessitated behaviors, that one is on the verge of losing out on the American Dream is, to put it mildly, cause of strong negative emotions. Invoking such emotions by engaging in those behaviors without necessity is a cause of further stress and anxiety.

UPDATE II: Imagine this: Someone had a health scare or brush with serious illness and then recovered. Afterwards he said he had an aversion to low-sodium meals or sugar substitutes or using the wheelchair ramp or some other markers/behaviors that he associated with his illness because he didn't like "feeling like a sick person" and by not doing those things he could affirm to himself that he was hale and hearty. Would we say that person hated sick people or that he hated the idea of being "sickly"? If that person didn't want to be perceived as sickly by himself or even by others, would we call that contempt for sick people?

Monday, May 07, 2007

Career Services

I have a long post I want to write but I'm very busy with work right now. In the meantime, here is a link to an honest assessment of law school career services.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Friday, May 04, 2007

Better than the McDonald's Rule?

Phoebe theorizes:
You know how liberal democracies don't go to war with one another? Is it possible that geek schools do not have school shootings? Are we safest where everyone's a nerdy outcast?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Scrolls: Easy to store, no clicking through

There's much dissatisfaction about media design here and here. And are books too long in addition to being weird sizes?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Rational Romance?

Glen Whitman has been blogging up a storm about the application of economic thought to relationships. Check it out.

Book Review: The Night Gardener

When I started this book, I resented my making it a book club selection. The very first paragraph is terribly written, so much so that I had to reread it three times. The author is a writer on The Wire, but good television writing and good novel writing are very different. The clumsy exposition in the first chapter alone was cringworthy, and it does not get better for some time.

For the first hundred pages, Pelecanos seems to be taking a leaf from the King playbook by using details like brand names, contemporary cultural phenomena, and actual locations to concretize his characters and setting. This is okay in moderation, but as executed here it is tiresome in the extreme. Slogging through all these details (yes, I get it, you're familiar with the area) is tedious, and not all of them ring true. For example, he refers to a nurse wearing a white uniform. How many R.N.s still wear whites?

Once the author finally switches gears and begins showing how the characters and their personalities drive the plot, though, the book becomes engaging. A young teen boy is found shot in a community garden in D.C.; the death has certain parallels to a string of twenty-year-old murders by a killer dubbed "the Night Gardener." The book is half about the mystery of whether the Gardener is killing again and half about the people who are involved in the investigation. There's a subplot about some criminals who are more realistic (read: less successful) versions of Omar Little that is eventually tenuously linked to the main plot. This was interesting, but it makes the book a bit shaggy: more about D.C., and less about the investigations. In some ways, it's very like The Wire, which is about Baltimore, not the characters. If you enjoy that show, you'll probably like this book (if you can suffer through the first dozen chapters, that is).

If only Sirius were frozen in carbonite . . .

So is it just me or is Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (trailer) going to be the new Empire Strikes Back?