Thursday, April 30, 2009

Remember Die Hard 3 and the sandwich board? It's the dress version.

I was checking out some vintage clothes online the other day.

"Oh, that dress looks like it has a pretty neckline." *click*

OMG.

I'd be more scandalized if it had sold.

Skinny jeans and popped collars

Someone wrote a 28 page treatise entitled "On Douchebags." Really.

Open Thread

What's up?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Drug Tests for Clerkships?

This is just weird:
I want to clerk for a Federal circuit court judge when I graduate and then work for the State Department. Chances are I won't be able to do either because I won't be able to pass a drug test.
Since when do federal judicial clerks have to take drug tests? I never had to do so. (Not that it would have turned up anything, because I am boring.)

Just my impression.

Resolved: That Mary Cassatt is the Anne Geddes of the 19th c.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Thank goodness?

I guess I don't have to worry about swine flu if I die of heat exhaustion while trying to cut my grass with a push mower.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Mel Gibson has daughters, right?

I found this comment sort of interesting:
Overheard in the neighborhood chocolate shop/cafe today:

Her: I don’t drink because I do terrible things when I’m drunk. Once this guy was hitting on me, and I pushed him through a plate glass window, head first. Nothing happened though. And I say all these racist things! Only when I’m drunk. But when I get drunk I just…say anything. Is that part of me? I don’t want to be a racist, so I don’t drink.
Is the decision not to drink accomplishing much here? Does the individual have a moral obligation to do more?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Remembrance of things past

I normally find Caitlin Flanagan off-putting, if only because she's obviously very intelligent and insightful and yet manages, through either selective blindness or malevolence, to get nearly everything wrong. (Sometimes just a smidge. A tweak toward wrongness. It's infuriating. But mostly she's lots wrong.) But the juxtaposition of her review of Alec Baldwin's book on divorce and Hugo Schwyzer's reposting of the need for kindness and desire in marriage really struck me. She's got something there. I don't agree with where she takes it, but there's something.

Schwyzer:
While chemistry may wane and lust may fluctuate, I do believe that in order for a relationship to be successful, there must at the least be an initial period of extraordinary desire. In times of low desire and little sexual activity, memories of "how it used to be" can serve as a reminder that the two people in a given relationship really did once passionately long for each other. What one once had and then lost can be found again. What one never had in the first place is a lot harder to create from scratch.
Flanagan:
[T]he spark that had gotten it all started, turning one Flanagan into four and making a certain red-shingle house in North Berkeley an unparalleled trove of talked-out Chatty Cathy dolls and years-long quarrels, Julia Child souffl├ęs and weekend benders—was a consuming passion. The fact that a long time ago, a young man had gone to a cocktail party in Greenwich Village with a Navy buddy, caught sight of a beautiful young woman, and said to the friend, “Introduce me.”

Or words to that effect. I wasn’t there! All I know is that for all of their quarreling and bellyaching, they had begun in romance and they gestured back to that romance a hundred times a year. It was in the gifts they gave one another, the notes they sent when they were apart, the fact that whenever she was combing my father’s fringe of white hair before a party, she would say, “You look so handsome, Tom”—and you realized that she wasn’t exactly seeing something; she was remembering it.
Aren't the happiest couples are the ones that see each other as the people each fell in love with, even years down the line?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Customer Service

At the sushi restaurant:

Me: I'd like to get some takeout.
Hostess: Oh, we don't do takeout.
Me: Can I eat at the bar?
Hostess: Yes, there's a seat at the bar available.
Me: If I order more than I can eat, can I take it home in a box?
Hostess: .... No.

Coinage

Having one best friend at a time: monogamie?

Monday, April 20, 2009

But Snape wouldn't like it.


Requiring a stay-at-home puppy mom is fairly common in animal rescues these days, from what I saw during my ultimately unsuccessful dog search. Also, discrimination against renters.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Recipe: Spicy Shrimp & Soba Noodles

This is nicely spicy, and you could probably sub extra-firm tofu for the shrimp or cook additional veggies at that stage.

Shrimp:
8-12 raw medium shrimp
3 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Toss shrimp in marinade until well coated. Let sit while preparing rest of recipe.

Sauce:
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tsp hot red pepper flakes

Cook the sugar and water until sugar is dissolved, stirring frequently. Let cool for 5 minutes, then add other ingredients. Keep on low heat.

2-3 servings dried soba noodles
1-2 cups thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Cook noodles as directed, drain, and toss with half the sauce. Cook shrimp and mushrooms in a dab of oil for 3 minutes, then add them to noodles. Add cilantro. Serve with more sauce if desired.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Business in front, business in the back.

So my bloggy friend was asking me why I didn't go to [Trendy Blog]'s happy hour and I replied that I am not cool. To which she responded, "Oh, you could have gone. They are not cool."

Is it my fate to be a suit (not that I dislike suits. on guys.)? I need the weather to warm up so I can do things that are more youthful. Ideas for DC weekend fun? Remember, I don't ride a bike.

I am also thinking I might want to go to Yosemite sometime but that is solely based on pretty pictures from Flickr. Thoughts from people who have camped more recently than Girl-Scout-age welcome.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Amber sans fards

Every time I go to work without makeup and don't hide in my office with the door shut, someone asks me if I'm sick. That's because I don't look like this.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Grr

Fell down my stairs this morning. Landed hard on my bottom, but somehow injured my neck in doing so. And now my head hurts.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Weekend Bake: Festive Cheese Enchiladas

I have tried to make some good Tex-Mex at home before, but was a little unsatisfied with the results. This cheese enchilada recipe was much tastier and not as messy to prepare.

Chili Gravy:
1/4 cup Crisco
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried Mexican oregano
2 T chili powder
2 cups water
3 cloves pressed garlic

Enchiladas:
7 corn tortillas
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
One medium onion, diced
2 cups chili gravy

Preheat oven to 450.
Melt the Crisco in a medium non-stick pan. Add flour and make a roux (cook 5 minutes or until caramel brown). Stir constantly.
Add dry ingredients and cook for one minute, while continuing to stir.
Add water and garlic. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Gravy should be thickened but not pasty.

Heat the tortillas one at a time on your stove's gas burners, flipping every ten seconds or so. Keep them wrapped in a cloth until all are heated.
Pour enough chili gravy to cover the bottom in a non-stick baking pan.
Roll 1/4 cup of cheese and 1 tablespoon of onion inside a tortilla and roll it.
Place rolled tortilla in pan, seam side down.
Repeat with remaining tortillas. (We fit 7 in a 9x9 pan.)
Take remaining chili gravy and pour over the top.
Sprinkle remaining cheese and onions on top of that.
Bake for 10 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and cheese is melted. EAT.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Female Timothy Treadwell?

A woman entered a polar bear habitat at the Berlin Zoo. During feeding time. Bad idea.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Blurgh.

Two jobs last year. Two W-2s. Two ... copies of the same W-2.

I'm sure that my old workplace can pull the form and email it to me Monday, but ... #*&%^%^@*!!!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Two Hour Benetton Ad With Screeching

Finally saw Rachel Getting Married. White people with Indian-themed weddings: the apogee of lameness?

Thursday, April 09, 2009

He shot me (and it felt like a kiss)

This is so wrong:
As of March 2009, [Amber Benson, who played Tara] was dating Adam Busch, who played Warren on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Is love submission?

Really interesting discussion in the comments to this post on whether love and sex are really all about submission. BDSM community members weigh in to say no.

The difficulty in these situations is acknowledging that "I eroticize submission" (as Coates apparently does) is not the same as "Submission is erotic [for everyone, or generally]." Maybe the BDSM viewpoint on D/S not being intrinsic to love and sex is derived from their experiences at having to persuade more vanilla people that there is no single common thread for what love and sex are really all about.

As one commenter notes, though,
perhaps this is merely a terminological issue.

I make sacrifices, of course.. I stop and listen and change my mind when convinced in disagreements.. but I would never call these things as "submission"...

(and, for the record, I don't see "submission" necessarily as a bad thing.. but it's not a term that I would use for myself in a context that doesn't involve force or authority(==delayed/implied force)..

I submitted to parents.. I submit to work and school powers when I need to.. etc.. but I don't ever "submit" to equals.. and I never expect anyone to submit to me.. I can disagree/agree/fight/avoid etc.. but all of these things imply willing choice and acceptance in a way that doesn't imply a hierarchy like "submit" does to me.

Does your view of "submission" imply hierarchy at all? That by submitting, you are recognizing a "higher authority" (even in just that instance)--or is it just more of an acceptance...?
To my way of thinking, it doesn't make sense to call the generalized give-and-take of relationships mutual submission, due to the connotation of submission with dominance and hierarchy. Thoughts?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

I want you to want me.

In his review of I Love You Man, Ezra Klein reflects on adult friendships:
What the movie gets right, I think, is the way in which making friends as an adult is not merely similar to dating, but actually worse. The absence of sex renders the process more uncertain: Unlike with dating, there are few discrete waypoints available to help you judge the relationship's progression. Unlike with dating, the acceptable behaviors aren't rigidly defined and so the appropriate moves are not always as obvious. Even the expectations are more uncertain: Two single people at least have a certain symmetry in their dating lives. That's not true for two potential friends, one who might have lots of friends and a busy social calendar and the other who might be searching out a best friend or a whole new group.
It is so hard to make clear to someone that you want to be their friend. Is this problem worse for men? Sometimes I feel jealous of the easy superficiality of (ed.: some!) male friendships. The expectations for female friendships are sometimes higher, and maybe that causes us to end up not connecting at all.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Plaintive wail

I really, really, really want more kolaches. And ribs and fatty brisket. And Tex-Mex.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

All your fault, Sean.

I have the overwhelming urge to dye my hair red.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Get out.

It's like this was calculated to make me angry:
Law schools may also become more serious about curriculum reform. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching released an influential report that, among other things, urged law schools to make better use of the sometimes-aimless second and third years. If law jobs are scarce, there will be more pressure on schools to make the changes Carnegie suggested, including more focus on practical skills.

They may also need to pay more attention to preparing students for nonlegal careers. Law graduates have always ended up in business, government, journalism and other fields. Law schools could do more to build these subjects into their coursework.
Emphasis added to provide direction for my hearty "WTF!" Law graduates usually end up in those fields because they didn't like law. This probably means they shouldn't have gone to law school in the first place, not that an already "sometimes-aimless" law school curriculum should be diluted with more cheesy law and ____ classes to cater to people who really ought to be in J-school or an MPP program. These people ought to cross-enroll, or better yet transfer. The idea that law schools should teach more practical legal skills is in direct tension with the idea that they also ought to teach finance and reporting so graduates can use them in non-legal careers.

If it's reform we want, why not just drop the 3L year altogether? Then you'd have a whole year's tuition money to go to a school that would teach you a bunch of non-legal things. Maybe you could even do that first and not go to law school at all.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Maybe the first thing to convince me of intersectionality

A very good post:
[I]n the white male paranoid mind, the deepest ambition of all black men lay between the two legs of some white woman--any white woman. And white women, of course lacking any real agency in the narrative, joyfully go along. Or are forcibly carried along. From that perspective, white racism really is a fear of a black planet--and (paradoxically) of white women.

Bigotry, in all forms, requires a shocking arrogance, a belief that other communities deepest desires revolve around your destruction. It is the ultimate narcissism, a way of thinking that can only see others, through a paranoid fear of what one might lose. The fears are almost always irrational. To go back to Chuck D, perhaps he was too cold when he said, "Man, I don't want your sister." But there was deep truth in it, the idea was, "Fool, this ain't about you and your fucked-up sexual hangups." In much the same vein when I read people complaining that gay marriage is a threat to traditional marriage, I think, "Fool, these gay motherfuckers ain't thinking about your marriage. This ain't about you and your hang-ups."

Bigotry is the heaping of one man's insecurity on to another. Sexism, racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-Islamism, anti-immigrantism, really all come from the same place--cowardice. In his history of lynching, Phillip Dray notes that mob violence against black men wasn't simply about keeping black men in their place--it was about keeping white women in their place. Lynching peaked as white women went to work outside the home in greater numbers, developing their own financial power base. White men, afraid that they couldn't compete with their women, would cowardly resort to lynching. I am not saying that the anti-gay marriage crowd is a lynch mob. But in tying opposition to the sexual revolution what you see is, beyond a fear of gay marriage, a fear for marriage itself. A fear that their way of life can't compete in these new times. It's ridiculous, of course. But bigotry always is.

Recipe: Garlic Ginger Tofu

You should like ginger if you're going to eat this.

Peanut oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cups sliced cremini mushroom caps
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/2 cup white wine
1 (10 oz?) package extra firm tofu
1/2 cup chopped scallions
2 tbsp soy sauce

Cook onion until soft in peanut oil. Remove to bowl. Cook mushrooms until soft. Remove to bowl. Cook garlic and ginger for 10 seconds in oil and then add tofu squares. Cook for 2 minutes or until slight browning begins. Add stock and wine and cook down to 1/2 original volume. Add back onions and mushrooms, stir until all ingredients are hot, then add scallions and soy sauce and stire for 30 seconds. Serve over rice.

You can use snow peas in place of the mushrooms, but instead I tossed a bag of snow peas in oil in a large skillet for 4 minutes, added 1 tbsp each minced garlic and ginger for one more minute of cooking, and then dressed it with a splash of sesame oil and peanut oil and 1 tbsp of soy sauce.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Book Review: The Steel Remains

I'm as big a fan as the next person of the modern "difficult and grim" fantasy novels, but at some point I feel like the authors may be trying too hard to be the new bad boys of fantasy. We get it, violence is bloody and brutal, soldiers and quasi-medieval societies are unlikely to have cosmopolitan views on sexuality, and sometimes people die horrible, undeserved deaths. You don't have to beat me about the head and shoulders with how in touch you are with the grittiness of (fantasy) life.

All this is to say that I really, really wanted to like The Steel Remains, but it came across as very strained. The protagonist, a gay former miltary leader and disowned member of the aristocracy, gets called a "faggot" regularly. We are treated to lovingly detailed descriptions of impalement. An entire city is razed and destroyed based on a silly misunderstanding. All this makes it more psychologically challenging for the escapist reader, but is not cause to turn back.

You might consider turning back because the book doesn't make the challenge of reading worthwhile. The plot trips along a cliched path for much of the novel (tough guy with a past investigating a woman's mysterious disappearance that is more than it seems, conspiracies rise up to block his way). One of the characters is like a less interesting version of Cnaiur. The motivations of the villains are nonsensical, which we are expected to wave aside on the ground that they are insane and alien creatures. Godlike beings pop out of nowhere, for no apparent reason, to save the main characters from the mortal puppets of other godlike beings acting out of similarly inscrutable motives. The writing is pretty fast paced, but this is sort of a bug, not a feature---I got almost to the end and became frustrated at the realization that the author wasn't going to be able to tie all this together in a satisfying way.

Perhaps the main thing that bugged me, though, and maybe this will not be a problem for others, is that this isn't really a fantasy novel. It's being marketed as the entry into fantasy by an established sci-fi author, but, like Matter, it's really a science fiction novel in thin fantasy trappings. This of course spurred a long and rambling meditation on my part in which I tried to figure out why this bothers me and how you can class something as fantasy or science fiction in the first place.

They're both genres with established conventions. What aspects came into play here?
  • Races: There are a variety of different non-human races (push) but they appear to differ from humans in that they have extremely advanced mechanistic technology (scifi) or are bestowed with magical-seeming powers through their manipulation of probability fields (scifi). Some implication of space/dimensional travel by other races (scifi).
  • Social and Political: Empires based on slave labor (push, slight edge to fantasy). People fighting with non-light-saber swords (fantasy). Lost civilizations of more advanced beings (push). Invasions of giant lizard creatures/dragons (push).
  • Mores: Generally medieval sexual morality (fantasy). Pretty low value on human life (fantasy). Stark gender divides (fantasy).
  • Philosophical: Not a lot of interest in mulling over interesting problems of human society or conducting thought experiments (more common with fantasy). Clearly you can have fantasy that's engaged with exploration of philosophical problems, either implicitly or explicitly (I actually prefer it), but fantasy is generally more escapist.
How do you class something as fantasy versus science fiction? What separates your wise old elves from your Vulcans? Is it just that it's INNN SPAAACE? Sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, and sufficiently-far future timelines may provide settings eerily like the medieval ones typically found in fantasy.