Saturday, December 31, 2005

A3G is Back

Underneath Their Robes is back online.

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

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

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

Friday, December 30, 2005

Who's Your Celebrity Inspiration?

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

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

Thursday, December 29, 2005

In which I link approvingly to Ann Althouse

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

Echo Chamber Watch

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

A previous post on a related topic is here.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

50 Book Challenge #74: Hammered

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

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

J.Crew can bite me.

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Sunday Bake: Lemon Bars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 24, 2005

And the winners are . . .

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 23, 2005

HLS and the California Bar Exam

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

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

Took: 3
Passed: 0
Pass Rate: 0%

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

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

Blog Book Poll Ends Today

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

Curb Your Hairdo

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

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

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Celebrity Perjury: Contrast and Compare

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

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

Something stinks here.

How to have a headache

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

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Addictive White Substances

Full-fat dairy products will be my undoing.

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

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

I got your War on Christmas right here.

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

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

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

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

"For people with noses"

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

50 Book Challenge #70: Girl in Landscape

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

Monday, December 19, 2005

Craving, Raving

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

UPDATE: A libertarian-approved egg nog recipe.

Blog Book Club Poll

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

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

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

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Sunday Bake: Scones

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 17, 2005

King Kong

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

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

Friday, December 16, 2005

50 Book Challenge #69: Under the Banner of Heaven

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

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

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

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Men, Women, and Movies

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Cat Pix Blog

Snape can play fetch.

Lily is a mountaineer.

The new camera is pretty good with details.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Shipping News

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

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

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

Love on the big and small screens

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

Monday, December 12, 2005

Random Roundup XIII

- How to buy a bra. More here.

- An ethical "dilemma."

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

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

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

Of interest to Firefly fans

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

A Sickly Amber is a Bad Blogger

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

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Ding Dong

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

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

Friday, December 09, 2005

C is for cookie

True or false: shortbread cookies are grandma cookies.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Date Line

What is dating?

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

More Snape! (not the cat)

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

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Save me from food poisoning

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

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

Reducing Abortions

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

Blog Book Club?

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

Monday, December 05, 2005

Shopping Question

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

The look of love

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

Serenity Puppet Theatre

Via Karl, Serenity reenacted with hand puppets.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


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

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

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

Black magic and nuclear weapons both inexorably lead to tragedy.

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

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

Saturday, December 03, 2005

How the mighty have fallen

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

Friday, December 02, 2005

Passing the sell-by date

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Done With Buffy

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


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

Discrimination in the skies

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

Problem Solving

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

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