Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Multiple abortions not so outlandish?

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

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

Geek Books

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

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

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

Write her name in the sky

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

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Huey Lewis, your order is ready.

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

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

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

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

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

Blogging without understanding

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

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

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

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

Wax on, wax off.

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

P.S. RIP, Mr. Miyagi.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Around the Blogosphere

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

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

Kiss of Death

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

Where are you?

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

Culture shock

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

Sunday, November 27, 2005


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

50 Book Challenge #65: Children of God

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

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Weekend Cat Blog

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

Movie Review: Oldboy

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

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

Friday, November 25, 2005

Zoom zoom zoom.

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

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

50 Book Challenge #64: City of Diamond

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

In Houston

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

Is your hummus ho-hum?

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Males Gazing

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

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

Monday, November 21, 2005

Money money money money

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

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

Chocolate Milk

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

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Public Scrutiny

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

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Weekend Cat Blog

He's cute, isn't he?

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

By Request: Wrap-Up

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 18, 2005


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

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

Hollaback Girls

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

50 Book Challenge #63: A Feast for Crows

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Man, I feel like a woman.

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

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

By Request: Why I am not a gender studies professor

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

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

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

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

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

Twenty-three ski-doo

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

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Do-It-Yourself Medicine

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

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

Taking Requests

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

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Mirror in the bathroom

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

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

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

Frugality Bites

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

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

Hair Poll

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

Monday, November 14, 2005

Article III Groupie Unmasked

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

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

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

Opposite Ends of the Spectrum

Geoff Manne sings the praises of lowbrow cheese food.

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

You can call me Tar-Telperien.


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

Sunday, November 13, 2005


How listening to an Ipod is like taking Viagra.

50 Book Challenge #62: The Plot Against America

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

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

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Blog Meme Deluxe

Shamelessly stolen from E. Spatula. Yay for filler.

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Be a happy lawyer.

50 Book Challenge #61: Magical Thinking

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

Other women

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

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

Friday, November 11, 2005

Clerksville Again

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

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

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

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Law Prof Blogging

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

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

HLS Students Shore Up Their Egos After Being Rejected From YLS

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

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Back to the Beach

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

Best web marketing feature ever.

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

Being Parental

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

Online Defamation Flap

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

More here and here.

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

Monday, November 07, 2005

Your Favorite Movie Sucks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can Garner Save Us?

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

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

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Weekend Text-Only Cat Blog

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

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

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

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Remember, remember

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

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


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

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

All other barbecue will now taste worse.

Friday, November 04, 2005

50 Book Challenge #60: Inside Job

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

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

Estrogen = Hot?

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

More here.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

50 Book Challenge #59: Outlander

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

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

Wednesday, November 02, 2005





Ovary Blog

I am the number one Google hit for "Ovary Blog." On that note, some reproductive health links:

- According to the New England Journal of Medicine, there's apparently no scientific evidence that emergency contraception interferes with implantation in humans. That's news to me, but it makes these people looks even worse.

- Who Gets Abortions? A comprehensive report is available here (summary; link to PDF here).

- Is abortion bad for women's mental health? A recent study says no. (Previous post on similar studies here.)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Mo to the D'oh

I already posted once about Maureen Dowd's latest lament on her single status, but now that my flare of disgust at Dowd's temerity in comparing herself to the incandescent Dorothy Parker has faded, I can take aim at the more substantive weaknesses of the piece, albeit in ranty fashion. (However, I will note that Ms. Parker was lonelier and less successful at love than Dowd, but she neither had the 1960s to blame nor allowed her heartache to get in the way of putting out incisive and witty writing. Dowd, by contrast, is a historically illiterate bore.)

Dowd's piece is superficially appealing, especially to the sort of highly educated single woman who's likely to read the New York Times for advice about her love life. It lays out a persuasive story that allows the reader to bask in the knowledge that she's been inexorably borne along the currents of twentieth century sexual revolution. None of the romantic disappointments we suffer are our own fault; even if we have become complacent in our enjoyment of the partial successes of women's liberation and failed to require more from men than acknowledgment of our legal equality, we are not to blame. No, Maureen Dowd, noted evolutionary psychologist, swoops in to save us with the knowledge that men's stubborn refusal to engage in relationships with their mental, social, and professional equals is hard wired. Something in the genes makes them gravitate toward non-threatening pink collar types who will never threaten their financial or intellectual supremacy, who will fulfill their fantasies of manly dominance by taking part in the economic equivalent of foot binding. What is a modern girl (note the infantilizing terminology) to do?

Beneficiary of the efforts of scruffy, unladylike feminists she derides with all the venom of an Ann Coulter, Dowd laments her failure to connect with antediluvian men who find her success and power threatening instead of celebrating her opportunities and scorning those who would find her sexier if she were weak. Unable to tear herself away from her high status job, but apparently unwilling to expand her dating circle beyond an incestuous Manhattan crowd (there's no talk here of dating down; Dowd ferociously embraces the gender stereotypes whose inverse numbers keep her alone and unwanted), she yearns for a simpler time, when somehow our culture was rife with crackling, sexy images of romances between equals even though men and women weren't equal at all.

Once she's singled out the sexual revolution as the reason she can't find a man, Dowd assembles a catalog of examples of retrogression as proof that we must shift inexorably back toward a less equal state of affairs, lest romantic love go the way of the men's platform shoe. She digs up a few sneaky New York women who admit to manipulating their men into thinking that they are the ones doing the chasing. There's also a brief attack on going Dutch; apparently equal pay for equal work can stay, but men should still pick up the dinner tab. It would be funny if it weren't so pathetic: women who make good salaries pretending to only have a bit of pin money so their dates can feel like good providers. "Paying is like opening a car door. It's nice." But what do these women do that's nice for their men? Is the mere act of gracing a man with your feminine presence supposed to be worth all this cash? If the reciprocal niceness involves puffing up the male ego with simulated weakness, all of these tricksy, false femmes may be in for a shock when they settle down in Stepford with Mr. Right.

Instead of challenging the dominant social paradigms like those nasty bra-burners who didn't wear makeup, Dowd argues for preservation and reinstitution of the "dating ritual," even if that means women perform an elaborate, deceitful Kabuki dance in order to procure a mate. Any impediment to romantic bliss (men's tendency to wed younger, nonthreatening women, a failure to commit) is viewed as inescapable biological destiny, not a socially constructed interlocking set of roles.

Dowd's evidence is impressive at first glance; she puts forth several examples of phenomena in support of her thesis that strong, smart women must degrade themselves for love. Unfortunately, many of these references are drastically oversimplified or have been comprehensively debunked. The British IQ study she cites looked at women of the WWII generation, if I recall; bluestockings do rather better these days. Similarly, her use of the recent article on Yale women becoming homemakers should be amusing to anyone who witnessed the vicious online dissection of its weaknesses. To claim that women are changing their names in greater numbers because they want to appeal to men with a taste for subjugation is interesting, but correlation does not prove causation.

It's hard to take Dowd seriously when she castigates young women for all being pretty in the same way and not caring about women's rights, but wants us to embrace the cultural trappings of yesteryear and the lying romantic strategies that our grandmothers used to trap a man into marriage. Does she really think we can put on the masks of the old power structure with no effects on the propensity of women to submit to male authority? Maybe Dowd can play roles with ease (she seems to advocate it in day-to-day male/female relations), but I fear that not everyone can, and that fewer still will distinguish between feigned male supremacy in romance and actual male supremacy in other spheres.

I'm sorry that Maureen Dowd hasn't yet found a man, but she's just another in a long line of doom-sayers. Isn't the old news chestnut, "if it bleeds, it leads?" Certainly the death of romance and the demise of hope for an entire generation of female readers will sell papers. Dowd's disjointed lament is the most-emailed article on the NY Times's website today. But extrapolating the experience of one self important and (if I may say) rather personally unappealing woman onto an entire class of American women is probably a bit much. (Women of a certain age must typically choose to maximize the appearance of one of two features: ass or face. Dowd has chosen ass.)

Like Dowd, I like being pretty. But I don't hate myself enough to pretend to be helpless, impoverished, and weak to get men to fall for me. All you get from that is a man who only wants you as long as he has someone to lord over. Love shouldn't keep you small.

"If all the girls at Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn't be at all surprised."

Dorothy Parker would have thrown a drink at Maureen Dowd. Perhaps not, though -- what a waste of a good drink.

More here.