Thursday, August 31, 2006

End Times

I am a sign of the Apocalypse.

The pool is the problem.

Dahlia Lithwick at Slate thinks that my reasons for the Supreme Court clerk gender imbalance are the best ones. It's always nice to have someone agree with you. (h/t Tom J.)

I should probably note that the question "why so few female Supreme Court clerks?" originated on the Feminist Law Professors blog, but to my knowledge this blog was the first to attempt to answer the question.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

"Why so few female Supreme Court clerks?" in the NYT

Linda Greenhouse reports (long after the issue was discussed to death here and elsewhere) on the the paucity of female Supreme Court clerks. Some of her information sounds like it might have come from the PTN comments section, but this blog was not named in the piece.

The little DJ with the big voice

How do you visualize your favorite bloggers? This game is ruined for a lot of blogs by the presence of photos, but you can still play with some.

PG I used to picture as an Indian version of Muriel because of how self-deprecating she can be about her appearance, but in person she's slim, fresh-faced, and pretty.

The Douthat: surgically implanted red tie.

E. Spat: like a grown-up version of Claire from Six Feet Under, but with more of a tan.

Any thoughts?

Goodbye, Clerksville!

I'll be on the road today.

Monday, August 28, 2006

They flatten themselves like roaches.


snapeunder
Originally uploaded by ataylor02.
Remember this picture from a year ago? Did you know that in times of great fear (like when movers arrive), Snape can still fit under this piece of furniture? I didn't, which is why I spent the greater part of an hour wandering in the rain looking for the stupid cat, even though he was hiding in the apartment the entire time.

If this is wrong, I don't wanna be right

If "humiliating and degrading treatment" is against the Geneva Conventions, should these Marines be punished?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Recommended reading

A couple of long reads for Sunday afternoon:

Martha Nussbaum provides yet another reason not to be a gender studies professor: I'd have to read Judith Butler, and she sucks.

David Foster Wallace on cruising. (Not that kind of cruising!)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Do you ♥ art?

Then check out we *heart* prints. I like this one, and I wish there was a print of this painting instead of Horn Girl.

Friday, August 25, 2006

This is why I have cats.

Was I just a really good kid or what? How is this even an issue?

"Hey, Mom, can I sleep over at my girlfriend's house?"

"No."

Problem solved.

UPDATE: Over at Matt Yglesias's blog, cd asserts
it's possible that the parents of a son, in particular, are trying to teach him that regardless of what his dick is telling him to do, there are ways to show respect to his own and his girlfriend's parents, not to mention to his girlfriend herself, that may involve a measure of self restraint.
One of the reasons I hate that "Promiscuous" song is because it perpetuates the idea (which cd may be implying here) that having sex with someone means you then do not respect them. So: what respect is shown to the girlfriend here if the son restrains himself? Presumably she's consenting.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

2L Advice

Ian Best has some advice for 2Ls. I don't strongly disagree with any of it, but this caveat is worth noting: under the current protocols, your 2L grades will affect your clerkship prospects. If you know you want to take a class at some point and it is likely to yield a good grade, perhaps taking it sooner rather than later would be best.

Eat real food.

I haven't read Nina Planck's book, but I have been a proponent of real food for a few years now. (I am still trying to get over my childhood aversion to vegetables, which derived in large part from the fact that my family served only the canned kind. ) But butter is better than margarine, period. Real food is more satiating than fake food. And once you start down the real food path (homemade sauces and pesto, etc.), it's hard to go back to the over-sweetened chemical cocktails.

All this reminds me of Famine's business plan from Good Omens:
"CHOWTM contained spun, plaited, and woven protein molecules, capped and coded, carefully designed to be ignored by even the most ravenous digestive tract enzymes; no-cal sweeteners; mineral oils replacing vegetable oils; fibrous materials, colorings, and flavorings. The end result was a foodstuff almost indistinguishable from any other except for two things. Firstly, the price, which was slightly higher, and secondly, the nutritional content, which was roughly equivalent to that of a Sony Walkman. [...]
MEALSTM was CHOWTM with added sugar and fat. The theory was that if you ate enough MEALSTM you would a) get very fat, and b) die of malnutrition."

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

*raises eyebrow*

Tall people smarter? Are they controlling for early childhood nutrition? (via)

HLS alumna is the "dopest lawyer"

The real Elle Woods:
She studied relentlessly to achieve at Beverly Hills High, and the payoff was Columbia University in New York, where she said she "just felt the vibes" and fit in.

At Columbia she pulled seven-hour study stretches on Saturdays and Sundays, was an editor on the college newspaper and taught a political science class.

That helped when she applied to Harvard Law School, although her application essay was risky. She argued that drugs should be legalized, a position her father warned would doom her chance of admission.

She was admitted anyway.

Once there, "I was like the most eccentric person," she said. She remembered feeling like a neon sign in a bright yellow vest and tinted glasses in the classrooms.

"I studied a lot, and I didn't lie about it, and people would make fun of me for it," she said. "People at Harvard pretended they didn't have to work because they were geniuses. "

She pursed her lips sideways and fiddled with a strand of hair. "They called me the Dirty Librarian because I swore and wore glasses."

She said she was not intimidated by some of the bullying law professors because her mother's boyfriends over the years had made her used to nasty lawyers.

The title of her law school thesis was "The Right to Get High."

She passed the bar on the first try: "It was like a miracle," she said.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Detached, contemptuous, pedantic, and smug.

Thoughts?
Something happens to smart people when they don’t grow up around other smart kids. If they aren’t very, very lucky, they get broken in ways that don’t mend well and show for the rest of their lives. Sadly, the scars from being the smartest kid in the room show up in grownups as being detached, contemptuous, pedantic and smug. It is hard to feel for those people, but you should. It isn’t their fault.
...
There is one sure way to ruin a smart kid. If you take a smart, hurt kid, and give him anything by Ayn Rand, all hope is lost. I haven’t read any Rand, so I can’t argue content with anyone. But I can tell you how Rand works as a black box. You put a hurt, smart kid through Rand, and you get out an insufferable, pleased-with-himself Libertarian. It is a loss to all of us, of course, but more of a personal tragedy for the kid. You can hope that one day that kid will want to get laid enough to rejoin society, but too many of those kids are irrecoverably lost.
I got in trouble at one point for claiming that libertarians were the most "passionate," but apparently some people think they're actually at the 40-year-old virgin end of the spectrum. All I know for sure is that my personality flaws were in evidence long before my first Rand reading.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Ballbot

My goal of being assisted in old age by robots instead of children is one small step closer. (h/t)

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Floating apart

Some interesting stuff at Megan's blog on travelers and expats. She hates them. This point rung true for me, even though it probably wasn't what I was supposed to get out of the posts:
because community is such a strong value for me, I do wonder at people who are willing to be in limbo and not fit in well anywhere.
...
Consciously contributing or no, you are still part of the social capital of your place and get tied into your web of people. I bet you make things happen and meet the demands of your friends and neighbors and add to the richness of your community. You can't do that if you float apart from your home and host country.
I like to travel in part because the alienation I feel on a day to day basis is simultaneously accentuated and made explicable. And after floating for a year in Clerksville, a community in which I have almost no web of friends and neighbors, no connections, and have made no contributions, going to another country will be a refreshing experience. At least there the sense of foreignness and disconnectedness will be for good reason.

Also: the necessary precondition for this infamous post is explained.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Uphill both ways in the snow barefoot

Oh my goodness, doesn't this sound like something Grandpa Simpson would talk about?

"When I was a boy, we didn't have your Xboxes or your Playstations. We spent our recess time polishing balls of mud and we enjoyed it!" (h/t)

Kill the radio star.

I am fascinated by the new Justin Timberlake single. Is this part and parcel of the musical mainstreaming of BDSM that began with Madonna in fetish gear or is it more of a Britney "Slave for U"-style wink-wink appropriation? I mean:
You see these shackles baby I'm your slave
I'll let you whip me if I misbehave
Hadley Arkes would have a cow.

Additionally: Timberlake, unlike Spears, has a not-terrible voice. Overprocessed vocals to hide a bad performance I can understand. But why filter a decent voice such that it's not differentiable from an awful one? Would this song get airplay if it sounded exactly the same but was by a nobody? Of course not. So why this nonsense?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Random Roundup XVII

I'm booked for Japan. Here are some random links that have nothing to do with it.

Yale law profs don't care about federalism

From the VC comes word that the latest edition of Processes of Constitutional Decisionmaking, a con law casebook edited mostly by YLS professors, "omits several major recent decisions on federalism, which are also not available in the published supplement." Heh. They have made the cases available in a supplement to the supplement online.

UPDATE: I was kidding, people. If HLSers can't make jokes at YLS's expense, there's something wrong with the world.

UPDATE II: YLS students are whining in the comments about how this is no laughing matter. If you had grades, maybe your skins would be a little thicker.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Sans Sense

Frank Bruni takes note of the disappearing institution of menus without prices. Some commenters assert that the practice of giving women sans prix menus is a European one, but neither of the extremely pricey restaurants I patronized in Paris followed this practice.

Even if I was on a date at my companion's invitation, I would be put out to receive a menu without prices; who's to say that I might not want to return to the restaurant in the future for purposes of business or pleasure? And how am I to determine whether the dining experience is worth revisiting without having some idea of its value? In some situations, I can understand why a host or hostess might wish to request sans-prix menus: a client dinner, perhaps, might call for it. But for a restaurant to presume to know who at the table should know the cost of their meals is both rude and counterproductive to recruitment of future business.

I agree, furthermore, that the practice of reciting daily specials without reference to price is obnoxious. It also results, at least in my case, in a greatly reduced likelihood of ordering said specials.

UPDATE: More menu weirdness.

Seconded.

Why Gene Wolfe's writing annoys.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Ah, the internet.

On being a quality woman.

See also Mitchell, Margaret, Gone With the Wind (1936) (quoting Gerald O'Hara: "Only when like marries like can there be any happiness.").

Travel puzzle

For some reason (maybe malaise, maybe the uninspiringness of my guidebook) I am feeling meh about my planned Japan trip. That is bad, since I was going to buy plane tickets this week. Most of the meh feeling, I think, comes from the fact that Japan lacks some of the easy latch-ons I use to connect with other trips:

- Signs I can read
- Art museums with art I like
- Political, cultural, or religious history with which I am familiar or interested

So far I have lackadaisically noted a bunch of hiking trails, some restaurants, and some places to shop in Tokyo. That doesn't sound like a promising start for my last long (2 weeks+) vacation for the forseeable future. Add in the massive expense of traveling in Japan and you can see why I'm concerned about this being a disappointment.

So: what should I do? Book the Japan ticket and buy a popular book on the last 1000 years of Japanese history, hope it clicks, and do a lot of hiking? Revert to my previous Switzerland/Croatia plan (I am running out of European countries)? Drive around America and hit Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, etc.? Change my middle name from Dale to Danger and go to Israel or something? Augh.

The Interpretation of Reading

This makes me so sad:
If I want to read about history, I'd rather go with nonfiction written by a historian, and as for mysteries, I've just never been interested. What difference does it make who did it? These are just fictional characters made up for the purpose of teasing us by making it seem as if each one could have done it and withholding key pieces of information so you can't tell which one until the end. I'm sure there's more charm to it than that, but I don't know, because, as I've said, I don't read them.
I guess that would make Sharon Kay Penman Ann Althouse's least favorite author, although there is definitely something more to a good mystery novel than the arbitrary withholding of key pieces of information. Would a book narrated entirely in the first person be less objectionable to an Althousian reader, since the only information withheld would be that unavailable to the protagonist? Or is the third-person-omniscient preferable since less information is kept from the reader, even if it's not always available to all the characters?

Anyway, The Interpretation of Murder sounds like it would appeal to someone who likes both Iain Pears and early Caleb Carr. I am such a person. Huzzah.

UPDATE: There's more:
But mystery novels bother me because I don't want to relate to characters who are created for the purpose of being a puzzle.
But aren't most literary characters created to be pieces in a puzzle? Much science fiction revolves around the reactions of human beings to drastically different technological or cultural developments. Other types of fiction may set the puzzle within the inner life of the characters. Most fiction, if it's any good, will challenge us in some way to solve a puzzle, even if it's as straightforward as whodunit or as complex as determining what a given set of personal traits and circumstances will lead to. Bad literature cheats; it keeps things back from the reader or throws a deus ex machina in so things go as the author would like. Good literature has more honesty, a sense of inexorability, and even if we learn new things as we go along that change our perception of what happened or will happen, these developments flow naturally from the rest of the story.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Ah, the District.

You're a busker. You rely on the donations of passersby for income. So why would you care more about expressing racist, homophobic attitudes than about getting some cash? My guess is that you're an idiot.

I guess if local businesses start refusing service to people who smell gay we'll see some lawsuits.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Book Review: Swordspoint and Kushiel's Scion

Kushiel's Scion is Jacqueline Carey's fourth Terre d'Ange book. I enjoyed the first three, although the first is the best, and after her awful detour into epic fantasy I was glad to see Carey return to her smutty roots.

Unfortunately, the main character is no longer Ph├Ędre, anguisette and international woman of mystery (who, to be honest, was becoming an Ayla-like figure). Instead, we follow Imriel, angsty teen and cause of international incidents. Imriel was a victim of sexual abuse as a child, which undermines the effect of the novel's salacious sequences, and he can be just as annoying as a real teenage boy, which is a shaky foundation for a several-thousand-page fantasy series. By the novel's end, he's matured a bit, but Carey sets up too many easy resolutions which we know (since there are to be two more giant tomes about Imriel) will fall apart. I give it a B.

Swordspoint is a swashbuckling fantasy novel set in a world where nobles' grievances, large and small, are solved via the hiring of swordsmen: duellists who fight either the challenged party, or, more likely, his representative, to first blood or even to the death. Richard St. Vier is the best swordsman of his generation, but after he becomes embroiled in the nobility's sexual and political disputes he cannot fight his way out. Everything ties up in too neat a bow at the end, but this is a confection, not something chewy and nutritious. Go in expecting to be entertained and it won't disappoint. A new book with the same setting has just been released. A-

(Two Swordspoint quibbles: the picture on the dust jacket is of someone wearing an explosion of ruffles. Surely this would hinder one in fighting. Second, the only heterosexual character turns out to be the bad guy. Is this a clever inversion of the gay villain cliche or just laziness?)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

AKA

Is there any particular reason why a prominent fanfiction author crossing over into original fiction would alter the spelling of her pseudonym? The same potentially embarrassing results come up in Google for both variations so I don't see the point.

UPDATE: And what's the point of taking down your slash and het fanfic erotica when it's all still accessible via the Wayback Machine?

Book Review: The Darkness That Comes Before

On the recommendation of some random internet person, I requested the first book in R. Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing trilogy, The Darkness That Comes Before. I had seen it described as philosophical fantasy, which intrigued me.

It reminded me a bit of Gene Wolfe, except I enjoyed reading it. The writing is not as lyrical as The Knight, for example, but it has the advantage of a plot that doesn't constantly repeat itself. It took me a while to get into the book, although this may have been influenced by my reading it before bed, but Bakker, like an author I do really like, is not afraid of killing off characters in unexpected ways. This kept my attention during some of the initial worldbuilding, which unfurls rather slowly.

Essentially, the setup involves a cross between the Crusades and your classic fantasy rise-of-the-dark-lord plot. The main character, Akka, is a Mandate wizard; unlike other wizard schools, the Mandate has, well, a mandate: to guard against the Consult, which seeks to restore the No-God (who caused some sort of shadowy apocalypse centuries before). Nobody takes them seriously, though, and the hot topic in the Three Seas region is instead the new holy war. Will it be waged against the blasphemous wizard schools or the heretics in the south, who possess Shimeh, a city sacred to the northerners? What drives the new Shriah (a pope-like figure) to declare holy war? And does the mythic Consult still move behind the scenes? (Three guesses on that one.) There's also another plotline dealing with Kellhus, a monk of illustrious ancestry, who has deep insight into human motivation and probability.

The only quibbles I had with the book were the slow start, the lack of strong female characters (there's a whore and a sex slave: what variety!), and the decision to put the maps in the back of the book. I didn't even know there were maps and the geographical descriptions were not good enough for me to be able to draw one mentally as I was reading. I'm looking forward to The Warrior Prophet.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Quit trying to steal my $125.

I will be happy to move.

My apartment complex in Clerksville was never the most smoothly run, but a few months ago they had a complete staff turnover and ever since then things have gone down the tubes. I had set up my rent and utilities to be automatically charged to my credit card. This had apparently been processed appropriately until this month, the first month since the end of my lease. I was expecting, as per the lease document, a $100 month-to-month charge. I was not expecting a notice on my door stating that I would be hit with a $150 month-to-month charge on top of a $75 charge for unpaid rent.

There is no reason for the payment to not have been processed, despite the lease's ending; in fact, upon examination of their records, the complex claimed that they had attempted to process the charge but that it had somehow vaporized before any money changed hands (then again, the records say that I have paid several times by check, which is false). There is also no reason for them to have unilaterally changed the terms of my lease relating to post-lease month-to-month charges. The person I spoke with last Thursday agreed that the late fee should be cancelled, but couldn't do it herself; the manager, who can actually do things, told her that the $150 charge was correct. Unfortunately, she made this assertion without even referring at my lease, which I of course did before informing her that the charge was, in fact, wrong.

Grr.

Monday, August 07, 2006

I feel ill.

Probably the most disgusting thing I've read in months.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

In re Talladega Nights

If a Hollywood film satirizes a stereotype with the knowledge that the majority of the audience will see the depiction not as satire but as truth, is this equivalent to perpetuating a stereotype?

All this is just to say that the Clerksville viewer reaction to Sacha Baron Cohen's character in The Ballad of Ricky Bobby was sort of disturbing. This was at the same theater in which I saw Brokeback Mountain a few months ago, but the audiences were obviously very different.

Friday, August 04, 2006

All wired up

I was down on The Wire at first, but now I am counting down the days (4) until Season 3 comes out on DVD. The last two episodes of Season 2 were a real punch to the gut. They killed him! So sad! At least Omar lived. Spoilery discussion for the first two seasons welcome in the comments.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The time of the month to take a sick day

Tyler Cowen prudently refrains from opening comments on his post linking to a paper that deals with the impact of menstruation on the gender gap in wages. I found the data set in the first paper interesting. Is an Italian bank really representative of the working population? How might differences in preferred contraception methods affect absenteeism (birth control pills lead to lighter periods for many, as the researchers noted, but they have their own side effects; IUDs are common in many parts of Europe and can lead to heavier, more painful cycles)? Thoughts?

All this reminds me of a Connie Willis story about the coming Liberation.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Don't go to law school unless you want to be a lawyer, cont'd.

Another failure by the Harvard Law School admissions committee.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Hot town, summer in the city.

Forgive me if this is totally ignorant, but why are government-sponsored "cooling centers" necessary? Couldn't you just go to the mall? Does New York lack for air conditioned public spaces?

Notice of Appeal

Pro se litigants are my favorite kind.

UPDATE: And it makes it to Volokh, although not via me, despite my posting it first. Grr.