Thursday, June 30, 2011

Against Whimsy

GQ comes out against whimsical wooing:
I'd like to suggest a litmus test for whether or not you are being whimsical. Would Danny Trejo shake his head at you? For example: Let's say you have named your bike Sharon. Is it a customized Super Glide? Invite your date to ride Sharon! Is it a turquoise beach cruiser? No va, hombre.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Burning bright

On dieting and the pursuit of incandescence:
The self-acceptance people remind me too much of the dreadful middle school workshops on body image where we had to stand around and recite affirmations like "I love the body the way I am." It sounded craven, ridiculous, and redolent of fundamentalist religious cults that sensible adults were generally urging me not to join. No, what I want for young girls like my high school friend is something like the ability to shut off the repeated voice saying "You ought to be burning calories!" in favor of a voice saying "Yes, but one has to do work now." By the grace of work, by the knowledge that work is important, the burning calories voice then yields to the work voice. And only in doing so does one ever attain the kind of incandescence that Woolf prized. There's no self-acceptance in her vision of incandescence; one becomes a vessel of something else in Woolf's vision, and the self sort of fades away entirely. Modern feminists would do better to cast their arguments about body image anxieties in terms of "These worries are a distraction from the pursuit of incandescence," rather than to focus on the goofy cult rituals about "self-acceptance."
I also found appealing Isabel's idea that PUAs demand that women focus on radical change through dieting rather than marginal improvements through other means because it's really about 24/7 mental subservience to male desires.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

New frontiers of nerddom breached

Any hints for a first-time D&D player?

ETA: The best thing I've seen in MONTHS. Much love to the shippers, and gingerhaze in particular.


I kind of want to see an alternate version where Magneto works for the Mossad.

Further ETA that this is canon?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Nobody in the US ever asks "what about the rapists?"

The Economist reviews a new book by a Michigan law professor on the Japanese judiciary's treatment of love and sex.
Mr West presents a judiciary that is sometimes out of step with the “sense of society” on which it regularly bases its rulings. In divorce proceedings judges make it a virtue for wives to forgive adultery or overlook domestic violence.

Judges may also go far beyond their brief to comment on social mores, In one instance, in 1991, a judge decided that modern appliances are partly responsible for failed marriages because they “give women time to contemplate”. In that particular case the judge rejected a wife’s request for divorce after years of physical abuse, living separately and even a suicide attempt because her husband did not cheat or gamble, and looked so forlorn in court. “They should search together for the bluebird they were unable to find before,” the judge ruled. The reference to a “bluebird” is as jarring in Japanese as it is in English.

Judges use a multi-part test, that does not include love, to approve a contested divorce. Yet love plays a part in cases where it is perhaps less relevant. For instance, sexual relations with a minor is sometimes excused if the court rules there is love. Judges set out to decide whether the defendant is “earnest”, which means either in love or contemplating marriage.

In the case of rape, Japanese courts consider factors that American and European ones would not. Being drunk is a valid defence. One 1992 ruling suspended the sentences of two men out of compassion for what they “must have faced when the victim told them no”.
The judge who wrote that last opinion might be interested in some alternative arguments for his position. What's the Japanese policy on use of international law in deciding cases?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Wash your hands. Or don't.

Via Matt Yglesias, an argument for washing your hands after peeing.
When you start to perspire, even a little, sweat from the perianal area starts dripping around in your underwear, eventually getting into the fabric and moving onto your genitals.
"The point is that simply touching the penis in an effort to direct your urine flow can be more than enough to transfer harmful microbes to your hands, and then on to the pretzels sitting in bowl on the bar," says [biology professor] Fidopiastis.
Fidopiastis adds that there may be instances when we needn't wash our hands after peeing. "If you can urinate in a hands-free urinal and pee without touching your penis, can you not wash?" he says. "I guess my answer there would be a half-hearted, 'Sure, why not?'"
Does the argument for washing even apply to women? And yet I bet more women than men wash their hands.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

I'll take unsympathetic plaintiffs for $800, Alex.

Should it be against the law for this billboard to be posted?

Does your answer change if the individual in the photograph is not a model but a man whose former girlfriend terminated an unwanted pregnancy?

Does your answer change if the billboard ad was purchased by the ex-boyfriend and erected in their hometown?

Some notes:

- Neither the man nor the woman are identified in the ad, although they may be identifiable.
- The woman's friends assert that the pregnancy ended via miscarriage, not an elective abortion.

Someone with Westlaw access and some free time can answer whether alleging someone had an abortion when she didn't has previously been found defamatory under New Mexico law, as Kash Hill suggests. I suppose in this context it does constitute an allegation of unchastity.

Although the individual on the billboard is clearly a jerk, it's very common for people to be moved to political activism by events in their lives. It seems obvious that this was not just an event in the woman's life, but in his as well. Do we want to create a rule for broad protection of privacy rights that will also apply to more sympathetic cases? 

Monday, June 06, 2011

Reader, I promised to marry him.

So! I'm back from my magical mystery vacation, which included lots of lovely sights:

Maria Theresa, explaining it all;

the good kind of Secession;

Melk abbey, of Adso-of fame;

the not so blue Danube;

... and the most romantic tree stump in all of the world.