Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Big Gay Dumbledore

Interesting discussion on the significance of J.K. Rowling's statement on Dumbledore's sexual orientation can be found here and here.
  • Heteronormative assumptions: equivalent to assuming a character's whiteness?
  • When does something become canon? Was the Silmarillion canon before publication? Are Rowling's notes? What of the oft-alluded Potter encyclopedia she claims to be planning?
  • This was not exactly a bolt from the blue.
Unrelatedly, this book subverting the telepathic-animal subgenre is either going to be appalling or terrific.

We Love Stuff

If I allowed my shopping-dominated id to rule this blog, it would look something like this.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Hating on Harvard (and those other schools)

Everyone hates the Ivy League—even Ivy Leaguers. Why?

Megan McArdle is right that Ivy League snobbery is rampant in D.C. I have friends who feel undeservedly inferior, despite their many stellar achievements and non-Ivy degrees.

It seems reasonable at this point to recall the research on outcomes for Ivy attenders and Ivy-admitted non-attenders. If you could have gotten into an Ivy but didn't [go], congrats! Your life is just as great as it would have been with an Ivy degree.

(Last sentence edited for clarity).

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Bitch, J.D.

Should Elizabeth Wurtzel (plagiarist, drug smuggler, and addict par excellence) be admitted to the practice of law?

TSA versus Thai dentists?

I'm pretty sure that this was an outtake in Conspiracy Theory:
If large enough numbers of Americans start flying to South America to look for cheap health care, that’ll reduce the demand for health insurance. The health insurance industry will pull some strings, and air travel will become more difficult for people traveling for medical purposes.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Weekend Bake: Quiche Lorraine

Almost every ingredient in quiche is fat . . . which is why it's so delicious.

8 ounces bacon (about 8 slices) cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 pinch fresh grated nutmeg
4 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (1/2 cup)
1 9-inch partially baked pie shell (warm), baked until light golden brown

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Fry bacon in skillet over medium heat until crisp and brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer with slotted spoon to paper towel–lined plate. Meanwhile, whisk all remaining ingredients except cheese in medium bowl.

2. Spread cheese and bacon evenly over bottom of warm pie shell and set shell on oven rack. Pour in custard mixture to 1/2-inch below crust rim. Bake until lightly golden brown and a knife blade inserted about one inch from the edge comes out clean, and center feels set but soft like gelatin, 32 to 35 minutes. Transfer quiche to rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Next time, I will omit or reduce the salt and roll the dough between sheets of plastic wrap. It is still very tasty, though.

Free the Montclair Pair

Once we lose our right to eat delicious cheese, what do we have left?

Friday, October 26, 2007


How could anyone think this wasn't cute?

Efficient Breach

Megan McArdle reserved a hotel room at the Comfort Inn in Jamaica, Queens. When she arrived, her hotel room had been given to someone else--probably someone who bribed the desk clerk. Giving away a blogger's room was a mistake. Upon reflection, McArdle notes
it had never occurred to me that when you bribe a hotel clerk for a room, this is what you are bribing them to do to someone. Thankfully, I've never bribed anyone--I lack the chutzpah--but I'd feel pretty awful if I had, and I'll never laugh at it when someone else tells such a story again.
Nearly everyone agrees that the desk clerk (who gave away McArdle's room and then lied about it) was in the wrong. But is it wrong to bribe desk clerks in this way?* If you say it isn't, do you also believe that attempting to seduce someone in a committed relationship is morally neutral? What if both victims were compensated (a room found at another hotel, a setup with someone compatible, money)?

* Presumably there are less problematic bribes; you might want to switch rooms in a hotel that does not assign them at the time of reservation or to upgrade to a better class of room if there is one unreserved. Neither of these would cheat another guest out of something they were entitled to under the benefits of their bargain and thus they seem less unjust.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Links "R" Us

Suing for sex? Service of process is not good foreplay.

This paper arguing for a "cultural theory of Mary Sue fiction as fair use" would be good if the authors actually knew what a Mary Sue is. Haven't they heard of Marty Stus? For every person writing fanfic who is consciously or unconsciously responding to cultural subjugation of women and minorities, there are five hundred unrepentant narcissists and slavering lustbunnies whose only motivation is to gratify themselves in the simplest and most uncomplicated of ways.

If they boot Amber the cutthroat bitch from House I am going to be so ticked. (NO SPOILERS IN THE COMMENTS.)

Vote for your favorite student blogger to get $10,000.

I like sexy children's costumes, if only because the women's "one-size" costumes swallow me but the girls' XL fits just fine.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My house

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The horror.

This explains a lot about some of the comments I get.

Due Process Takes It On The Chin Again

Oh, rats.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Villains You Love

Which fictional villains do you sympathize or identify with? Situations in which one or more of the following is true do not count:
I. The supposed villain turns out not to be villainous at all.

II. [You] sympathize with the villain because [you] disagree with the story's ideological message.

III. The villain isn't really responsible for his actions.

IV. The villain turns out to be the lesser of two evils.
Magneto is a popular choice, and Ilya Somin makes a good case for Gordon Gekko. I never understood what people had against Captain Ahab, but I'm an odd duck. I recently rewatched The Piano and found myself sympathizing, against my will, with the cuckold.

Most modern horror movies expect the audience to identify with the homicidal maniac, not with the hapless victims. Witness the evolution of Hannibal Lecter. The author and filmmakers introduced some elements of IV, but only after witnessing the massive positive reaction to the unsoftened Lecter character.

With respect to cinema villains, it's hard to divorce the actor from the role. Would Harry Lime be appealing in the least without Orson Welles's charismatic and jaunty portrayal? Would I so dearly love Richard III with anyone but Ian McKellen as the lead? (I refuse to watch any other version.) I often root for the villain in films but admit that it is nearly always because the villain is played by someone attractive. Casting directors seem to think that British accents convey evil, but sex trumps morality in the fictional realm.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


This weekend I've seen newlyweds, being-weds (congrats!), former colleagues, former classmates, and bloggers galore. I should also have another article published soon. Huzzah.

Incidentally, why is Villette so little read?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Some links

What shape are you?

"Drunk" women can't be raped?

Fantasy baseball fans can thank Judge Morris Arnold for saving their version of America's pastime from the clutches of MLB.

Best shopping search engine ever.

UPDATED: Resolved: The opposite of rape is not consent. The opposite of rape is enthusiasm.
Todd Solondz's Storytelling illustrated this dynamic in an interesting way.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sports Make American Children Stupider

Starting school later allows kids to sleep more. Research indicates that "“[a] loss of one hour of sleep is equivalent to [the loss of] two years of cognitive maturation and development." With high school kids, the correlation between additional sleep and higher grades is even more pronounced. But schools continue to start high school classes before eight in the morning. Why? One popular answer seems to be extracurriculars: earlier start times allow more after-school practice hours.

A kid who doesn't sleep properly is functionally equivalent to a kid with lead poisoning. But who cares as long as the football team goes all the way?

Then again, what do I know? I'm just a bitter, unsporty former high schooler who had to get up at 5:30 (5:00 on ROTC days) to catch a 6:15 bus to my first class at 7:30.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Legal != Moral

This is worth quoting:
People have a legal right to mutter "bitch" as I walk past, blog extensively about how fat and unattractive I am, or ignore my ideas on the grounds that Irish Catholics are naturally stupid. Businesses have a legal right to provide sullen and unhelpful salespeople, filthy premises, and cheaply made products that fall apart one day after the warranty expires. All Americans have the legal right to say nasty things to their spouses, watch football instead of talking to their kids, stop bathing, and drop dear old friends in favor of richer, more attractive ones.

I would not dream of making any of these things against the law. But I can still be appalled when people do them. Being a libertarian means recognizing the limits of the formal legal system to regulate human behavior--not recognizing the formal legal system as the only limitation on human behavior.

Monday, October 15, 2007

When Blogcrushes Go Bad

Check this out. I'm glad this never happened to me. Kudos to the recipient for the internet-based public shaming.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

What's Montague?

Interesting story on the Syrian Jewish community in Brooklyn in the NYT Magazine. The gist is that not only is intermarriage forbidden, but so is marriage with a convert, the descendant of a convert, or anyone who cannot produce
proof, going back at least three generations and attested to by an Orthodox rabbi, of the candidates’ kosher bona fides. This disqualifies the vast majority of American Jews, who have no such proof. “We won’t take them — not even if we go back three or four generations — if someone in their line was married by a Reform or Conservative rabbi, because they don’t perform marriages according to Orthodox law,” [the chief rabbi] said.
Boys also appear to follow their fathers into family businesses, to the detriment of continued secular education. Women's status and autonomy seem low.* The article has provoked negative reactions from Muslims and Harry-Potter-loving J-dubs and inspired Ms. Maltz to quip that the article's subjects are "soon to be the most-despised community in America."

Anyway, it reminded me of this issue, as well as U.S. Const. art. III, § 3. It also provoked a heated discussion with Steve on the relative objectionability of the aforementioned practices, however they are actually followed and regardless of which group practices them. Nothing highlights the universality of patriarchy like a rousing comparative religious debate.

* The article has several internal inconsistencies and some claim that the intermarriage barrier is slightly more permeable than the article makes out. I'm sure this will be clarified in days to come.

Lost Love

Although I am not allowed to buy any handbags until 2016, I saw the most striking bag the other day. It was (I think) at a Nordstrom, and (maybe?) a D&G. It was a patent leather hobo in "petroleum," which was a rich teal. I wanted to stare at it longingly online this evening and can't find it anywhere.

UPDATE: Still no sign. If you go to hip nightclubs, though, this might be right up your alley.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

California Love

So if you work for UCLA, can you hang this on your wall (just to thumb your nose at the Russian cultural minister, of course)?

This is very important.

Which way is she spinning? And is she always on the same leg? Which one?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Janna St. James, meet Kenny Wayne Lockwood.

Anyone who meets people online should read this. It involves Harlan Ellison, dead dogs, internet romance, and the weirdest intervention ever. This related blog is worth reading once you are done with the article. (via)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Hate Crimes

Another Kerri Dunn at Columbia? We'll see.

Fine Dining

Note to self: If you ask a Kinko's employee for a nice place to get dinner in the area, you will be directed to an establishment which has as its claim to fame "the world's largest selection of draft beers."

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I am very excited! About fashion!

Purple! Gray! And more! Blue! Black! Black and white! Boots that remind me of my old blog design!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


In Wes Anderson's movies, white people often start relationships with people of color after a failed relationship with another white person. Apparently this is deeply offensive. After all, said one commenter:
"Why must women of color be a second choice for white men?"
If it Anderson's white men were initially in relationships with women of color but somehow always ended up with white chicks in the end, wouldn't that be offensive also? "Why must women of color be pushed aside for white women?" etc.

There's also criticism of Anderson's use of Kumar Pallana, the actor who plays Pagoda and Mr. Littlejeans. I would think that his limited roles and characterizations are a function of the fact that he is the owner of a coffee shop where Anderson used to hang out, not a trained actor. Plenty of directors put friends and family in their movies. Anderson has the good judgment to not ask more from his friend than Pallana can provide as an actor (take note, David Mamet!). For this he is to be condemned? Pah.

P.S. The pirates in The Life Aquatic are not Filipino because "Anderson is saying, 'The pirates are Filipino! How hilarious is that?'" They are Filipino because right now there are actual Filipino pirates. Swashbuckling white guys a la Blackbeard? Not so much these days.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

College-age guys with guns

I can't help but compare this to the Virginia Tech incident and wonder cynically whether we'll see calls to disarm police.

Doesn't "transhumanism" sound much nicer anyway?

Economics professor Random person on right-wing website supports eugenics; teeth-gnashing ensues. The "executing at childbirth" and abortion angles are red herrings; there was nothing in the original post's argument that required either. The idea of a government-sponsored eugenics program is scary enough even without those aspects, of course. But doesn't this seem desirable? Random mutations aren't going to get us there.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Can't-Miss Movies

I also have a sick weakness for The Fifth Element.

Friday, October 05, 2007

The past is another country

All this discussion of multifamily living reminds me of one of the things that struck me most strongly about reading fiction set in the early part of the twentieth century: the commonness of having boarders (usually single men) renting rooms in family homes. This seemed most typical for older women to use for income in lieu of outside jobs, but there's no reason it would have to be this way.

Renting rooms in what would otherwise be single-family homes is foreign to our modern sensibilities (and probably now violates many zoning ordinances), but how many McMansion owners could have swung their ARM payments by doubling up the kids and renting spare bedrooms to young students or professionals?

Men Are Strong

This is why I like guns.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Obligatory Legal Post

Which of the posters in this thread has the best sexual harassment claim?

Out and Proud

Other than Dr. House, how many openly atheistic characters are there on television?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Wacky Sizing

Some of the comments in this thread alluded to "vanity sizing," which I've posted on before. The EU has established an interesting new clothing standard based on body measurements, but the effective deployment of sizing standards depends upon the measurements actually being accurate.


Sort of. The case is interesting, anyway, if you like school prayer litigation.

Thanks, Karl.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Yes, you are.

Isn't this collection of photos documenting the appearance of given weight/height combinations just a copy of this project? And isn't it obvious that, despite the protests, in most cases the BMI indicator is accurate?

UPDATE: The subject of one of the photos is incensed about this "bullshit blog and its commenters." Here is her response:

My picture on Kate’s blog was identified as an anomaly — in the readers’ opinions, I’m the only one who didn’t meet the BMI category of overweight. I was also described as bangin‘ and hot.

Yeah, I know, it’s so flattering to read comments about my body and how it relates to the BMI scale. I also love how strange people feel inclined to comment upon my appearance and suggest that I dress well for my weight. Another reader suggests that the picture is somehow strategically chosen to represent my body at its best.

The only thing strategic about the picture is the fact that my hair looks somewhat decent. The rest is me - 100%, unedited Laurie Ruettimann. I do look fabulous, of course, but I looked fabulous when I weighed 170 lbs. I didn’t lose weight to lose weight. I lost weight to reclaim my right to own my moods and my depression. (emphasis added)

There is of course a (slim?) distinction the words between "pretty" and "beautiful," which Kate Harding, the creator of the project, used to describe the women pictured, and the terms connoting sexual appeal which commenters used here. Now that it has become apparent that sexualized comments are unwelcome, future offense may be avoided. But it seems a bit much to submit a photo for a project about bodies and how they relate to the BMI scale and then complain that readers are discussing your body and how it relates to the BMI scale.

Like Ms. Ruettimann, I am five feet tall. I envy her bone structure and musculature; if I weighed 130 pounds, I would certainly not look "fabulous," and at 170 pounds I would be even less so.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Bookshelves in the Oval Office

Does anyone really believe that the President reads 87 books per year? I might have read that many in 2005 (I didn't count re-reads for purposes of the challenge), but during that year I was a student, an unemployed wastrel studying for the bar exam, and a government employee in a small city with little in the way of other entertainments. Reading that many books takes time! Presidents should not have time-consuming hobbies. It's not as bad as being obsessed with sports, but still.

How many books do you actually read? Skimming and reading only the good parts doesn't count (sorry, Tyler).


Is "hot" not a compliment? Or is heat power?