Sunday, August 31, 2008

weekend report

A good holiday weekend. Dinner party yesterday with TD, and today with Wolfman and the Philosophical Fox. I baked bittersweet chocolate korova cookies, awesome lasagna, roasted 5 lbs of pork (adobo style with cumin, coriander, and oregano) and am preparing to pan fry sweet potatoes with a secret spice mixture and make lemon pudding cake. My company is delightful, and we have eaten our weight in food (the good news is that even combined, it's not that much) and knitted a lot while watching Oz. Much yarn was bought. I even got "aspirational yarn," for future projects when my knitting technique (a great post-apocalyptic skill) improves. There was the requisite perusal of the drug store beauty aisle, a fun throwback to the girls we might have been in high school if we weren't the literary club nerds we still are. We even left the comfiness of my small-yet-tasteful apartment and ventured into The City (!) for a little museuming and electronic gadget buying. I did not partake of the latter, although I did touch the iPhone of wonder. My fingers are long and slim, but I tend to paw gracelessly at the touch screen and hit the wrong letters. This has helped to abate my techno-lust.

I also read a bunch of articles on post-modernism and the social sciences while she worked on a brief. Bah. Social constructivism all the way, man.

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

ok, let's talk about politics


Mainly because it's a holiday weekend. So, what do you think of Obama's chances? McCain's pick for VP? Anything else?

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Friday, August 29, 2008

in a tizzy

Political, of course, between the speech last night (electrifying!), the announcement today (terrifying!), but also because I'm trying to get my house in order for a visiting friend.

Tip: do not accidentally break yet another $0.50 Ikea Pokal glass, leaving you with only seven out of a set of eight (which actually used to be a set of ten), because the glass shatters in tiny shards that you end up picking up two days later with packaging tape (hint from Heloise). This might not make your guest feel welcome. Perhaps I should get glasses that bounce when you drop them. Do they make those?

Second tip: lasagna and korova cookies can be prepared a day ahead and popped into the oven whenever you're ready, so that the bulk of the day can be spent buying yarn and books.

Third tip: If you are taking a very complicated subject in law school, it helps to outline as you go, if you are the outliner type. Try to synthesize the concepts as you go, even as concepts build on each other. There are links between the doctrines; find them.

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One less than a Majestic Bakers Dozen

If I ever leave anything of value at L&L, there is one band to which you absolutely MUST listen (and I am not just saying that because they plugged my other blog). The Majestic Twelve are straight-up, no bull, awesome. And, because they are just that awesome, you can download their latest album called Schizophrenology, for free, at their website. Do it. Do it now.

And while my favorite song of theirs is Condoleeza, Check My Posse, Break It and Breath is also really good.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

nominees for best foundational administrative law articles?

Because I am very excited about learning administrative law, and because learning is best when it's a collaborative enterprise, I would very much appreciate tips and recommendations for great survey articles on administrative law, the non-delegation doctrine, and deference/review. If Patrick S. O'Donnell has already come up with some fantastic bibliography and I missed it, all apologies.

Tips may be sent to bellelettre@gmail.com, or post in the comments to share with all.

Thanks!

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Must one vote for the lesser of two evils?

Democrats traditionally argue that one ought to vote for whoever their candidate is, just because the consequences of voting for a Republican are so much worse. But while this might be true in some cases, it’s clearly false as a general principle. Here’s an example:

Suppose we have a choice between two utterly evil candidates — they both promise to light the constitution on fire on their first day in office, imprison all the poor people, and start six new wars solely for their own personal amusement. By week 10, each promises to have conducted at least one major genocide.

One of those candidates, however, also promises to increase the funding given to cancer research by one dollar. Am I obliged to vote for that candidate? I’d suggest the answer is pretty clearly no.

Obviously, this isn’t the case in the present election, but I think it is a counterexample to the general proposition that one must vote for a candidate who comes with a lot of negative baggage just because the other candidate is worse. The arguments for voting for the lesser of two evils will have to be a lot more nuanced than that — and maybe those arguments can be made, but I’d like to hear them explicitly.

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busy and envious

It's been an insane week hopping around stealing syllabi and meeting with profs and trying to figure out research.

Taking a class and dropping in on a colloquium series at the business school always makes me envious of their superior facilities and catering (although their students always come to our cafeteria, oddly). Their school resembles a ski chalet from the outside, but inside is all wood paneling and newness and airiness. Reminds me of my old law school, which was lovely and comfortable. My current law school appears to be under construction until the next decade (not joking), and they have removed the lockers and relocated all of the offices and there's the persistent dusty smell of drywall and I couldn't find financial aid (who get back to me two weeks after my pressing question) even if I wanted to. It sort of grates to go to such a great school with such a great faculty in such terrible facilities.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Why I won't be voting for Obama this November.

I'm officially on blog hiatus, but this is too outrageous not to speak out. (Also posted on Uncommon Priors, natch.) Put briefly, as noted above, I won't be voting for Obama this November. I obviously won't be voting for McCain, so I'll be staying home.

It was bad enough when Obama gave away the moral high ground in the campaign by declining to take public funding. But the nomination of Biden for the second slot on the ticket is, to put it simply, an utterly unprincipled choice of an utterly unprincipled miserable excuse for a human being. I can't stomach the idea of casting a vote for Biden for any position whatsoever, and certainly not for the number two slot in the executive branch. Biden isn't fit to be the dogcatcher of Spread Eagle, Wisconsin, morally or intellectually.

Here's the bill of particulars.

1. The Bankruptcy "Reform" Act

For years and years, Congressional Republicans had been trying to pass a bill to seriously curtail bankruptcy rights. When he was president, Bill Clinton vetoed it -- twice, I think. During the Bush administration, the Republicans finally got it through, in 2005, over a Democratic filibuster plan. The cloture vote that was thus needed passed only with the help of several turncoat democrats, Joseph Biden among them.

I've said what I think about the bankruptcy bill before (please ignore the glaring misplaced comma in paragraph 8: it was an editorial error, it should be after, not before, the word "risk"). Everything I said in that op-ed still holds, as I noted in an "I told you so" blog post a few years on. (Here's another helpful breakdown, from someone else.)

Biden was one of the leaders in support of this horrible, horrible bill -- this piece of class warfare in reverse. But it gets worse. MBNA bought members of Congress like crazy for this bill -- my favorite case is that of Representative Jim "The Shameless Bribe-Taker" Moran (D-VA -- representing places like Alexandria and Arlington), who switched from opposing to supporting an earlier version of the bill after MBNA gave him a huge, unsecured, personal loan to get him out of massive hot water, a loan for which he was in no way qualified.

But what does that have to do with Biden, you might ask? Well, there's a miasma of corruption in Biden's case too. Guess who has a lobbyist son who was a paid consultant for MBNA at the time of the vote? Yep. Biden.

What might someone say in Biden's defense? Perhaps the bankruptcy bill at least closed some corporate bankruptcy loopholes? Nope. In fact, a Republican tried to tighten some corporate bankruptcy loopholes, making the bill slightly less grotesquely aimed at lower-middle-class individuals. Guess who killed those amendments? Yep. Biden.

For his disgraceful, corrupt, malicious behavior in the bankruptcy bill mess alone, Biden ought to be driven out of politics in infamy, not rewarded with a seat in the White House.

2. Iraq

Biden initially supported the war, and did a lot of the scut work to pave the way for it to happen. (Details here.) He also voted to continue funding the war, more recently.

More recently, now that everyone in the world knows the war is a disastrous failure, Biden's spoken out strongly against the Bush administration plan to continue it. What's his solution? Ethnic and religious partition. What? Is he going for Bosnia south? The Iraqis don't like it any better than the sane Americans.

3. Plagiarism and Deception

How about Biden's personal morals and judgment? Perhaps they're better than his political morals and judgment?

Nope. I can't describe the plagiarism mess any better than Jack Schafer did, in Slate. I won't even try. Suffice it to say that he blatantly plagiarized work in law school, then turned around and did it again in politics -- and in a bizarre way, too, ripping off personal details from a British politician that didn't even apply to him! Joseph Biden actually gave speeches reciting (plagiarized) details of his personal background and history that weren't even true -- of Biden, though they were true of the guy who originally wrote the speech.

I mean, what the fuck? That's doesn't just demonstrate dishonesty, it also demonstrates rank stupidity. How on earth do you think you're not going to get caught stealing someone else's background, when you're a national politician? I think it also demonstrates a touch of insanity. I mean, isn't that just a really disturbed thing to do? Rip off someone else's life? And it's not the worst of it. While we're in the appalling lies about personal history department, Biden made inconsistent statements and downright misled those who heard his speeches about his alleged (nonexistent) civil rights activism in the 60's.

That article also reports that Biden apparently got shitty grades in college and law school, incidentally. Not surprisingly, he lied about his academic record, too. Among other lies, while berating a heckler, he falsely claimed that he graduated in the top half of his law school class, etc. etc.

Three strikes should be enough, but one more seals the deal:

4. "Articulate".

Do I even need to say anything about that?

This whole thing is really sad for me. I was looking forward to voting for Obama -- for a candidate who at least represents the center (if not the left, at least better than the right like most of that lot) of the Democratic party, who is unquestionably intelligent and accomplished (pretty much the polar opposite of Bush in every way), a man who might actually seek out and listen to competent advice and make informed decisions about national policy. Not to mention being able to vote for America's first black president. But I simply cannot vote for a ticket containing that wretched creature from Delaware, or for anyone unprincipled enough to choose him as a running mate.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

where in the world is belle lettre?

Over at Scatterplot with a long post on historical sociology and cowboy iconography, in a shameless ploy to get a guest-blogging stint at the Edge of the American West (because three blogs are not enough for the verbose* Belle Lettre).


*I read somewhere that French first lady Carla Bruni was described as "irrepressible," a bizarre descriptive if ever I heard one. That just makes her sound like an annoying sprite of manic energy and moxie. I mean, I get "The Unsinkable Molly Brown," but like, what is up with the inappropriate adjectives used to describe sassy women. I suppose that "irrepressible" is better than "uppity." I was going to go for "inoppressible," but there is no such word, and then I would have nothing to complain about against The Man. I was also considering "inoperable," so that I could get flowers and cards in the event that people assumed I had some type of cancer.

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the first day of school

It' s been a while since we've had poetry on this blog. My first day was last week, but for some it's just starting or not yet started. To cheer on Pitseleh and New Kid, here's something by Howard Nemerov and The White Stripes:

September, the First Day of School

I

My child and I hold hands on the way to school,
And when I leave him at the first-grade door
He cries a little but is brave; he does
Let go. My selfish tears remind me how
I cried before that door a life ago.
I may have had a hard time letting go.

Each fall the children must endure together
What every child also endures alone:
Learning the alphabet, the integers,
Three dozen bits and pieces of a stuff
So arbitrary, so peremptory,
That worlds invisible and visible

Bow down before it, as in Joseph's dream
The sheaves bowed down and then the stars bowed down
Before the dreaming of a little boy.
That dream got him such hatred of his brothers
As cost the greater part of life to mend,
And yet great kindness came of it in the end.

II

A school is where they grind the grain of thought,
And grind the children who must mind the thought.
It may be those two grindings are but one,
As from the alphabet come Shakespeare's Plays,
As from the integers comes Euler's Law,
As from the whole, inseperably, the lives,

The shrunken lives that have not been set free
By law or by poetic phantasy.
But may they be. My child has disappeared
Behind the schoolroom door. And should I live
To see his coming forth, a life away,
I know my hope, but do not know its form

Nor hope to know it. May the fathers he finds
Among his teachers have a care of him
More than his father could. How that will look
I do not know, I do not need to know.
Even our tears belong to ritual.
But may great kindness come of it in the end.



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Monday, August 25, 2008

the holy trinity

I would argue that every law student interested in public law should take structural constitutional law (if it's a separate course at your school), administrative law, and legislation/statutory interpretation. They all dovetail really nicely with each other, build on each other's foundaitonal concepts, and are incredibly important.

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random roundup

1. I knew that my printer was evil!

2. One woman's very interesting and insightful abortion blog. H/T Amber.

3. Finally, a Modern Love column I don't hate.

4. These people are total tools, though.

5. An Empirical Study of Incredibly Long Academic Journal Titles: Towards a Theory of Strategic Verbosity.

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of what use are utility arguments in education?

And how to avoid the utility monster? I find myself struggling with this idea. On the one hand, I myself took all sorts of (non-required, non-skill building) courses for reasons of personal interest/growth/excessive belief in a broad liberal education: creative writing, Latin, literary theory, philosophy, anthropology, sociology, etc. etc. etc. etc. On the other hand, as my nephew is entering his senior year of high school and preparing for college, I am wondering if he would do well to follow my path. I did quite well in college, but I would describe my education as "useful" in the sense that it trained my mind, not because it produced any research that benefited humanity or gave me a skill set that is useful today. But I liked learning subjects because they were there and I was interested, and was not much concerned with utility back then (ironically, that's all that drives my choice of courses now).

The boy, whom I love, is quite a bit less intellectually curious than I am (I say this benevolently) and might benefit from a strictly utilitarian approach. He wants to be some sort of engineer/dentist/whatever? Just take the required courses and the path of least resistance! Just make sure your GPA is high! If you are not interested in learning for learning's sake, then there seems little point in counseling you to take something "because it'll broaden your mind and make you think more critically." He doesn't seem interested in that, in the humanities, in the idea of learning for its own sake. So maybe I shouldn't push him to do that. Maybe that approach doesn't work for everyone. It worked for me, because I am that type of person, and because the skills required for what I do are critical thinking and writing, and there's no harm in "wasting my time" in courses that don't offer a direct benefit. But this is not for everyone, and not even all academics. So maybe he should just take the prereqs and whatever he wants, and not what is "good" for him.

And on the third hand, that feels like giving up on the nephew. I helped raise him, and I'm the closest he has to an adult adviser to whom he confides everything. It's a tremendous responsibility, and already I feel like I'm failing him. Good thing I don't have my own kids yet. Of course, he'll be an adult by next year, and it's not like I have any say over his life or what he should do with it. But he does look to me for advice and considers me a role model. I am just not sure what I would advise him (what made me happy may not make him happy; what worked for me may not work for him) and I am not sure I am the best role model for him. But just saying that out loud makes me feel like I just up and called my nephew a philistine, and am saying that those without intellectual curiosity should not have it demanded of them, and that this impulse is not something to be fostered, nurtured, encouraged. Like I said, it feels like giving up on the boy, when in fact it may just be giving up on vicariously living through your children. Maybe if all parents and adult authority figures gave up on the impulse to mold the next generation, we wouldn't have so many scary stage parents and unhappy kids pushed into career paths and re-treading their parents' well-worn paths.

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

do-re-meme

I tag Amber and all of my co-bloggers. H/T: New Kid on the Hallway.

1. My uncle once told me that I should be a nurse because women can't make it as lawyers.

2. Never in my life have I wanted to run for political office. (agreed with New Kid)

3. When I was five I practiced my English by watching professional wrestling on TV, with my parents' approval.

4. High school was mostly unremarkable, and I spent half of it at MUN conferences and taking college classes and going to only two high school dances stag because no one asked me out.

5. I will never forget lying on the snowy bank of Lake Tahoe at night, talking to each other quietly, and me trying to resist saying "this is just like Eternal Sunshine! We are so unoriginal!" which would have ruined the moment, which was lovely.

6. Once I met Derrida. That was pretty cool. I also met Alan Simpson, who was much nicer than I expected.

7. There’s this boy I know who's my nephew. I don't know that many boys.

8. Once, at a bar, I played Scrabble and lost. I don't have any good bar stories.

9. By noon, I’m usually trying to stay awake after a morning of blog reading and vague attempts at working.

10. Last night I went to bed early while he was working and taking care of the dog.

11. If only I had more discipline.

12. "Next time I go to church" is not a phrase I would typically utter, except to demonstrate the future tense to religious international student.

13. What worries me most is something I'm not supposed to be thinking about right now.

14. When I turn my head left I see my couch, whose comfy bed I'm trying to resist.

15. When I turn my head right I see a picture of us at a picnic, next to a spindle of DVDs.

16. You know I’m lying when I say "I'm not sleeping, I'm just resting my eyes."

17. What I miss most about the Eighties is the music. Fortunately, you can still hear it everywhere.

18. If I were a character in Shakespeare I’d be some pathetic combination of Viola, Cordelia, Gonerill, and unfortunately, Hamlet. No fucking way to Ophelia.

19. By this time next year I will be halfway done with the dissertation. I hope.

20. A better name for me would be "The Zeitgeist Avenger", but then again that'd be a better name for everyone.

21. I have a hard time understanding most of the peccadilloes of the legal academy.

22. If I ever go back to school, I’ll have class at 10 am this Monday.

23. You know I like you if I ask you over for a dinner party.

24. If I ever won an award, the first person I would thank would be whoever first taught me whatever it was the award was for.

25. Take my advice, never try to change your parents.

26. My ideal breakfast is bacon, eggs, and homemade blueberry pancakes with OJ and coffee.

27. A song I love but do not have is Coolio's "Too Hot." Admit it, you love it too.

28. If you visit my hometown, I suggest that you have a high tolerance for strip malls and suburban ennui.

29. Why won’t people step to one side of the sidewalk rather than walk it four abreast? Grrr.

30. If you spend a night at my house you will sleep on my Ikea futon, but there will be fresh muffins in the morning.

31. I’d stop my wedding for nothing too bridezilla-y, but then again I plan to get hitched at City Hall in a short dress. I constantly astound people with my occasionally simple desires and hatred of musicals. Do I come off that princessy and overdone? Just because I bake from scratch and wear dresses a lot?

32. The world could do without the obsession with celebrity culture.

33. I’d rather lick the belly of a cockroach than watch talking heads punditry.

34. My favorite blondie is The Screenwriter.

35. Paper clips are more useful than my most kitchen gadgets.

36. If I do anything well it’s procrastinating.

37. I can’t help but lick batter from my fingers.

38. I usually cry at sappy romantic movies, because I am less of a cynical badass than I say I am. Did I sob at The Notebook? Oh yes, I did.

39. My advice to my nephew/niece is to do well in college, so that you too, can move away from home.

40. And by the way, cleaning an apartment from top to bottom really sucks.

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

weekend update

1. My 826 interview was more of an intake + 2 hour training session along with 50 other people. Exciting! On any given day, up to 50 students show up, and 20-30 volunteers. I like that there's such a classroom/community feel to the project, that so many people are involved, and that so many students. I have volunteered to help tutor in the after-school homework help part (3 hours/week), and am considering doing the in-school book project on creative writing (2 hours/week). I'd like to be useful, so I'm going to do both at first to see which one is better for my skill set. The other volunteers are incredibly smart, creative, nice people. I am quite happy that I am going to do this, and will feel more useful and helpful than when I was a packing fairy for GrrlQuest.

2. I suck at tennis. I even suck at Wii tennis. Wii Belle has all the hand-eye coordination and timing of Real Life Belle, which is to say, not much. I am also really bad at Wii Rock Band--no sense of timing, can't drum or strum to save my life. It's like playing Simon or Dance Dance Revolution, both of which I suck at. I'd never played Wii before. Hell, I haven't played a video game since 1985. I have to say--really, really fun. I especially like Wii bowling.

3. Trader Joe's frozen puff pastry is really thick, even after you roll it out. Not recommended for making your own napoleons. My pastry cream was very good though, so I ended up making a fruit tart. Next time, phyllo dough.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Stupid Cop Tricks

Lindsay Beyerstein over at Majikthise (a really excellent blog BTW) had a link to this little glorious example of police brutality.

Students and parents at Windsor High School are outraged after a Wyoming police officer doing an Internet safety presentation at the school scrutinized individual students’ MySpace pages, calling the students “slutty” and saying photos on their sites invited sexual predators.

The officer, John F. Gay III of the Cheyenne Police Department, picked out six or seven Windsor High School students’ MySpace page and began to criticize photos, comments and other content until one student left the room crying

“He told the entire student body that he had shared her info with a sexual predator in prison,” said Ty Nordic, whose daughter Shaylah Nordic’s MySpace page was put on display.

Nordic said Gay then told the student body that the predator said he would masturbate to her picture.


As much as I am concerned with the lack of discretion folks have with regards to pictures they post to MySpace and Facebook, Officer Gay should be unemployed.

And a police officer sharing pictures of underage girls with a convicted sex offender who is still in prison is great premise for a bad movie - like Silence of the Lambs meets To Catch A Predator.

(It's called Officer Gay Scares Straight, starring Rob Lowe and R. Kelly and directed by Roman Polanski).

On a side note, why can't real police be more like Ice-T on Law & Order:SVU?

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I'm a feminist and I bake

Today I'm making napoleons with homemade pastry cream, reading a book on conflict in corporations, going to interview for my local branch of 826 National so that I can volunteer to help kids write good, then switching over to reading a book on how to do an ethnography of a corporation, then maybe reading some MacKinnon or an article on legal realism for fun, then a dinner party (to which I'm bringing the napoleons) and then another night of dog-sitting.

Damn right I'm a feminist.

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legal pedagogy roundup

Right now there's a lot of links of "advice for 1Ls," which I'll post on later and add to my Law School Advice Wiki (sidebar).

For now, some other links of interest:

1. Doug Berman is surprised at Eugene Volokh's "anti-libertarian" one-laptop policy.

2. New Kid on the Hallway blogs about her first day at law school as a Ph.D and former English lit professor, and realizing how that "first day" talk sounds to students (lame), what it's like to be in the same year as one of your former students (weird), and what she thinks of laptops in the classroom as a former instructor and now current student (pros and cons). Law professors: read this.

3. Yes, people are still talking about the Socratic method, and yes, there are surprisingly still some defenders of this awful, outdated pedagogical approach, and no, Steven Bainbridge is not one of the proponents.

4. That "two bodies, two cities" problem that confronts dual-career academic couples is no joke. Here's Laura Appleman's take, and here's the Chronicle of Higher Ed's.

5. Abusive emails from students! (or at least, that's Leib's characterization) Doesn't beat this abusive "you make me uncomfortable with your words" email, though.

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I am very excited! About Administrative Law!

Seriously. Second day, we got into a discussion of separation of powers, formalist/functionalist arguments for/against the rise and rise of the administrative state, and even micro-foundations of political organizational theory!

Froomkin has more.

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One of those weeks...

Because this wasn't exactly a... uh... gem of a week, I leave you with Bang Lime's The Death of Death. Bang Lime is, essentially, Metric without vocalist Emily Haines. And yes, they are quite awesome.

And something I didn't know before watching this video... people who nonchalantly wear animal suits really creep me out.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Advise Me Which Phone To Buy ASAP

Help! I am going to buy a new phone tomorrow. I have a Motorola Razr from AT&T. I got it, according to my gmail record in which I asked everyone for their phone number again, in September 2007. It is DYING. The battery life is two hours, and it spontaneously turns off mid-sentence, after I've clicked "accept call," or whenever it wants to. I'll charge it, and two hours later, it'll be dead. This is a relatively recent problem. While the battery life has never been great, it was always at least a couple of days. It was less than my old crappy Samsung flip phone (that was free with service), but then I accidentally drop kicked Sam Sung and had to get a new phone, and I thought I was upgrading.

I don't get internet on my phone, I don't use PDA functions, but I do like that camera function though. And I do text on occasion. Do not recommend an iPhone or Blackberry. Any recommendations for a brand/model of AT&T phone with a decent (hopefully good) battery life that is small, functional, and can take pictures? I tend to like flip phones over bar phones, so that I can click "ignore" and don't have to worry about locking the key pad or accidentally calling someone.

Thanks!!

BTW: Of course I googled for help from the internets, but they keep recommending iPhones or Blackberries. I don't want to pay for an extra internet service/month, and so the two recommended models are not appropriate for my simple needs, when all I want is a simple phone that doesn't die.

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Random Roundup

1. Lizardbreath on self-undermining liberals. Some interesting points here.

2. Paul Horwitz gives some great advice to 1Ls. Really great advice here, folks.

3. Advise newbie lawyers over at Amber's blog!

4. The Madwoman in the Blogosphere. Fantastic article! I remember reading that Gilbert/Gubar book, The Madwoman in the Attic in literary criticism back in college!

5. Megan Formerly From The Archives on blog fans. Choice quotes:

The only other thing that caught my eye was the word "fan". Oh dude. I do not want fans. This lady sounds like a super neat and cool person and potential friend, not like a fan. Which is just right, because I partially quit my old blog because I thought I had fans.

I was trying to figure out what was going on at my old blog, why I was bridling at mostly innocuous comments and what was introducing that weirdo inauthenticity. A couple weeks later, I decided that some readers had started acting like fans. Fans get super invested, right? And then they feel proprietary. Fans think they can critique whether I am acting appropriately for the Megan brand. Fans decide you were better last season. Fans tell you that your narrative arc has stalled. A friend would never do those things, because a friend doesn't think of you as a shared creation, subject to revision. Friends always know that you are a person walking around in the world, seeing what you see and doing what you do. But I think that seeing a person mediated through a blog, with an element of presentation, lets people who are prone to be fans become fans. For a person who is expecting friendship, that is really annoying and creepy*.

I don't think that having a fan reaction to a blog is wrong. There are very clearly bloggers who enjoy having fans and encourage fan attention. (I think this is a dangerous game, btw, because fans develop expectations beyond the control of the object and turn on the object for not meeting them.) You can see it. There's a twee, self-aware tone in their writing: "Oh that wacky, irrepressible me!!". They post lots of self-portraits. Some talk about their cliques or mention other status indicators. None of this bothers me, because I don't read those bloggers. If they suction off people who are prone to fandom, I think this is a great service and I wish everyone in that type of relationship the best of it. Fan behavior is only a problem when the relationship is mis-matched, against professional interactions, against friendship, against romance.

Though I once wrote a spirited defense of the blog crush, I must say I agree with Megan, in principle. But I can't say that I don't write in a twee, self-aware tone. Come, Wicked Anomie and Pitseleh, let us talk again about how hard it is to write for an audience without being self-aware of one's presentation to the reader (and see also), particularly if one is aware of that audience. It is hard to say what is "weird inauthenticity," when so much of the blogging and the reading of a personal blog is an exercise in false intimacy. At the very best, it is social interaction several steps removed. But on the other hand, it is a lot of information to know about a certain author. Occasionally I make very good friends through this blog, and I'm grateful for the archives and for speedily catching up through each other's blogs. On other occasions, it creeps me out, for the same reason the phenomenon gives Megan pause. I like the friends I have through this blog, but maybe because they appear invested in me as a person and friend (after we have corresponded sufficiently) but not the blog, which will always be of varying quality in writing, subject matter, tone, etc. And real friends, even ones I meet via blog, will always know more about what is going on than what is here, and will not be invested in the outcome the way they might be invested in a narrative arc. And, can I just say, what a comment to make to someone with a personal blog! This isn't a story, people. So, perhaps Megan's distinction between blog fans and blog friends is an apt characterization about how two different types of audiences will receive one's writing.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

good ideas in theory

In theory, combining cardio + commute is a great idea. Thanks to the 3 lb. laptop, I am not carrying too much weight and it's a comfortable walk. Of course, it's 3 miles, and while I'm as fit as a banjo, I tend to get lost in thought and caught up with RadioLab (great show! makes me excited about science!) or distracted by store fronts. I could probably cut it down to 45 minutes if I walked faster and with greater concentration, but it takes me about 50, 55 minutes to get to school comfortably (but briskly, nonetheless) in order to have enough time to sit down, wipe the sweat from my brow (probably the yuckiest byproduct), and start up the laptop for class. So, I have to leave about an hour before my class. Then again, by bus I had to leave 45 minutes before, to make sure I caught the bus and in case there were many/long stops along the way. So, I suppose I'll try to walk as much as I can, even if it relegates me to sneakers and jeans rather than my Mad Men-inspired fashion fantasies. On the one hand, health. On the other hand, fashion. I, being quite sensible, will probably choose the former on non B-school days.

In theory, a class on labor law would be up my alley. Except when class is spent reading sections of a union constitution. Out loud. For 3 hours. Totally not useful for the dissertation. Pass.

In theory, reading a book on writing would be good for a writer's block. Bird by Bird has helped many a dissertating student. And yet, this is not making me feel that much better. It is very entertaining though, and the writing is lovely. If I could write that, maybe it would go faster. Maybe it would just go. At least better than writing a chapter or a footnote. Gah.

In theory, insisting that quality time can mean sharing dog-sitting duties is supportive, kind, and flexible. In reality, that means leaving at 10:30 pm to fall asleep in another bed with a 14 year old dog in between you two, so that the arthritic dog (who once fell into the pool, nearly drowning) does not fall off the bed with a thunk! like last time.

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adobe reader troubles

I do a fair amount of reading on Adobe Acrobat Reader. For some reason, the interface looks all new and different and way less useful. I can't select and highlight text. I press Ctrl + F and there's a "find" toolbar, and yet when I type in a word I can see clearly on my screen, it says that it is unable to find a single incidence of that word in all 52 pages. A word like "jurisdiction," in a section about jurisdiction, in a paragraph that probably mentions the word at least 15 times. WTF.

Is this a feature rather than a bug? I installed all of the updates. Do I have to pay for some fancier version of Adobe that actually has useful features and the ability to find words? This just sucks beyond the possibility of ultimate suckage.

Is this just me, or are you having similar problems with Adobe?

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closer to fine



I loved this song back in high school. Hell, I love it now. Doesn't it make you feel all happy and whole and full of girl power?

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tuesday ignorance: things I don't get

1. Bayes's Theorem.

2. Bubble hems. Also, leggings. Also, those ankle bootie things.

3. I get the appeal of Lacan and Deleuze, but not Zizek. Maybe I just don't get Zizek. Actually, probably.

4. Modern arguments for originalism. Hmm.

5. Why it takes so long to mail things from coast-to-coast now that we're no longer in the Pony Express era. A week?! Seriously?!

6. I don't get Twitter. Also, I don't get why people I don't know personally follow me on Twitter. How did they find me? Why do they care? My posts are infrequent, boring, and usually nonsensical. I keep forgetting that I have an account. I will probably forget to stop tweeting altogether one day. Much like how I forget about Facebook and the "status update" function, until I remember that that's how some people contact me and log in and find all these messages and wall posts. Dudes, there's email.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

brief thoughts on mad men

I'm about halfway through Season 1.

1. I really like the clothes the ladies wear. From the shirtwaists and full skirts of the housewives (and the party dresses!) to the fitted sheaths and pencil skirts on the office ladies. I am back into cardigans and bow collared necklines. Fortunately, I was retro before retro became cool those several times ('94, '97, '02, '08). I actually have pencil skirts, full skirts, sheath dresses, and swing coats, chemises. Also, stockings and pumps. I never wear them though, because it seems ridiculous to dress up at Crunchy Granola Law School. Maybe for the days I take classes at the business school. A girdle sounds very useful, but my aversion to discomfort will mean that I never wear one. I am rather inspired, sartorially speaking. Joan is a total fashion muse, and gives busty and hippy women a good name--she rocks the hourglass figure, even if her waist-to-hip ratio isn't MGM standards. I feel hopeful and inspired.

2. Men in grey flannel suits and fedoras are awesome. Also, bring back Brylcreem! Don Draper is beguilingly handsome and complicated-sexy. Old fashioned and old school, he both "respects" the ladies and uses women like a dry cleaning service. Pete Campbell is an asshole, but I will admit, an oddly magnetic one. Maybe because he reminds me of my love-hate relationship with Wil Wheaton, also known as Wesley Crusher (I hated Wesley, I love Wil's blog). Actually, they're all assholes. I am somewhat bothered by the fact that I feel attracted to their characters. They're not very well developed characters though (with the exception of Pete and Don), and so it's mainly the suits and clean-cut hair and chiseled good looks that I'm drawn to, so maybe I don't feel so bad. I was never one for the bad boy type, so actually I like the guy with glasses and a bow tie the best (after Don).

3. This show is a splendid critique of the pre-post-modern era and its burgeoning discontents. Wow, the sexual harassment. Good exploration of sexuality and gender issues (even if the stereotypes are so cliche as to be almost flat; e.g. madonna wife Betty/whore mistress Midge, Betty Friedan-cum-Stepford Betty, , the women's characters are more richly complex). But where's all of the Civil Rights Era stuff? I suppose it's coming, since Season 2 is set in 1962 and Season 1 was set in 1960.

4. As interesting as the gender wars are, I find the Don-Pete, Joan-Peggy intra-gender tension the most interesting. Ah, office politics. I'm actually reading a book on conflict management in corporations.

5. I really wish I had 60's Eames-style furniture.

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this semester

Ethnography of Institutions! Institutional Analysis! The Sociology of Culture! Micro-Organizational Behavior! Advanced Labor and Employment Law! Research Methods! Administrative Law!

Not all of these will make the cut. Some of them are duplicative, of course, but depending on the approach I will choose one or the other. I'm oddly not compelled to blog about them though. Well, most of them don't start till next week. But this blog is so much more fun to write when it's not an extension of my work.

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tropic thunder, reviewed

It was pretty funny. Not hi-larious, but amusing at several points. I'm a big Robert Downey Jr. fan, because he's so over the top but not scary-crazy like Nicholas Cage. The opening fake trailers were the best parts of the film, as was the final action scene, in which a baby is tossed over the bridge. This is actually funny. In between though, mostly meh with occasional chuckles and wince-worthy sight gags. Tom Cruise was an inspired casting choice, as he was just playing a slightly exaggerated version of himself. See also, the "respect the cock" motivational speaker he played in Magnolia. There's a great cameo by Tobey Maguire at the beginning, and another one by Lance Bass at the end.

It was like Hot Shots + Zoolander + This Is Spinal Tap + Apocalypse Now, The Bloopers Reel. If you like the idea of spoofy movies, you'll probably like this one.


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tell me if I should keep reading these books

I was about two chapters into Gun With Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem. Then I got kind of irritated at the noirish-private-dick-meets-sci-fi trope, and stopped reading.

I was about 1/3 of the way into The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Klay when I got tired of the heavy exposition and stopped reading.

Should I keep reading these books? Is there great payoff?

I generally have a good attention span. Or, at least I used to. It's been years since I've read hundreds of pages of the Russians (Dostoevsky in particular, was my fave) or Dickens. But these books are not very long, and they're ostensibly about fun and exciting topics, and I'm just not feeling them. Should I persist? I finished a Willa Cather book in a day, and I picked up some contemporary lit fic (but the good kind, Amber! I swear!) about the same subjects I am generally drawn to--busted-up love, etc. Perhaps I should try again.

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

at every employee training session, serve this cake


Having read so many cases on sexual harassment law, though, I am not certain that this would be enough. But, good effort from the cake decorator.

From Cake Wrecks, via Feminist Philosophers.

Cake Wrecks has the best commentary ever:

I love that someone - either the customer or the decorator - felt that "sexual harassment" needed to be illustrated. And I realize that the decorator can't be expected to be Picasso or anything, but check out how far the girl's feet are off the ground. Either that was the Spank Heard 'Round the World, or she's on an invisible step while Chuckles there digs for gold.

Before you ask, yes, I hear the boss got in some deep doo-doo. Can't imagine why, though; I mean, it's got a big red "NO" symbol over it, doesn't it? And all those spanking demonstrations were purely for educational purposes, so really, what's the big deal?

OK, so sexual harassment is no joke, but, come on, even I laughed at "the spank heard 'round the world."

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turf wars

Yesterday, we went to the local museum for a modernist design exhibit, and happened to be there on the right day to see "turf dancers." I, being super lame or charmingly naive or way toolish (depending on your perspective/how much you love me), asked if this meant that the dancers would be dancing on grass. In my defense, had they said "turf war dance competition," I would have immediately recognized the nature of this epic battle, rather than focusing on the terrain. He looked at me and said "dude, you are soooo not hard/street/cool." Or something to the effect of "are you serious, or just fucking with me."

Actually, that is his response to most of my questions, like "what does 'FUBAR' mean," which leads him to ask "what do you mean you've never seen Saving Private Ryan" which then starts a chain reaction of many questions about my apparent ability to shelter myself from most pop cultural trends from the last twenty years. He forgives most errors attributable to having grown up in poverty and under strict Asian parents, but apparently not my thinking that it was an Astroturf Dance Competition. Whev. I bet you those old white people in the audience who happened to find themselves in the theatre didn't know either.

In any case, if you want to observe for yourself that turf dancers do not require actual turf, check out Retro and E*Ninja. Retro was my favorite. We voted by applause-o-meter (very unscientifically measured; they should have had a decibel meter), and I did clap and whoop the loudest for him. The competition devolved into absolute mayhem, with both the dancers and the audience losing enthusiasm (the theatre had half-emptied by the semi-finals) and people rushing the stage when The Man and Chonkie double-teamed Retro in the finals (and The Man was a sub for the guy who actually won the semi-final round, but who refused to dance!). In the end, I'm not sure if anyone was declared a winner. It was quite fun to watch, until that inexorable scourge of the modern age, ennui, set in and the audience and dancers all left the theatre dispiritedly and dejectedly. Or whatever, they just left and we just left and perhaps the point of a turf war is that you don't have to win, you just have to defend. Or maybe the point is that one cannot really comment on a turf dancing competition, because to do so is just as toolish as thinking that it means dancing on grass.

Enough. Here's E*Ninja vs. Retro!



And check out E*Ninja, Retro, Chonkie, and Suave:

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

first time for everything


Last night, I slept outside, under the stars and the light of a full moon.* There was nothing to obscure my deep, meditative contemplation of the lofty firmament and the august canopy of trees. A few feet away were the siren call of crickets, and the stirrings of raccoons, deer, and the occasional snort of horses. The ground was kind of hard, but not unpleasant to feel under the blades of my shoulders. The air was rich and warm. The fluttering of the mildest summer zephyr was lovely across the bridge of my nose, like children's kisses. Anyway, now I can finally say "been there, done that." I still can't believe that this was just in one of the more country-ish suburbs. The funny thing about having such mundane first experiences at this age is that it's usually pretty unremarkable and non-revelatory (although it is fun to write them up in such overwrought, purple prose phrases), but it's nice to be able to have new experiences and fresh eyes. I am occasionally cynical, but rarely jaded. There's still lots of things I've never done before, and it's nice each time to have that first experience.

I also made lamb korma for the first time. It was pretty darn tasty. At $20 worth of ingredients though, I think I'll make my $4 worth of masoor daal more often.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

on a happier note

Let us come together in comity and appreciate the awesomeness of this:




Smoke On The Water!

H/T to Bryan D. Brown, who DJ's the best radio show ever. You can subscribe to the podcast here. Incidentally, I have only recently discovered podcasting, and am astounded to learn that I can listen to my favorite public radio shows, learn French, and hear the dulcet tones of Bryan's voice every week.

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filed under "meta"

If the tone/tenor of the previous two blog posts are off-putting, my apologies. The blog post on norms/bullying took a lot out of me and required a great deal of restraint and attention to make sure its tone was as neutral as possible, and it was kind of fun to go back to being opinionated about something and even to talk personally about how I respond to an issue. I hope that I don't come off as a jerk myself when I talk about the jerkiness of others.

And if I ever devolve into this type of bizarre confessional (by Jennifer Sey, arguing that non-athletes have no ability to truly appreciate the Olympics and so they just shouldn't watch, the ignoramuses), be sure to call me out on it and tell me that confessions are not cogent arguments. I had juuuust clicked "publish post" when I chanced upon the above two articles, and they made me worry that that's how I might come off. I would hate to be seen as mean spirited as Jennifer Sey!

I do like this commentary by Sadie Stein though:

But the larger point, for me, is this: why is she admitting this? Why do people think that being confessional somehow automatically normalizes something or renders it appealing? Ugly, clearly highly personal feelings like Sey's are just as off when she bares them as when she keeps them to herself; confessing something doesn't mean everyone's gonna come forward in solidarity, nor should they. Because something is an emotion does not make it right, or universal. It's true that it takes a very particular brand of writer to render his personal thoughts universal and appealing, and it's no secret that plenty of folks who lack this facility have fallen into the trap of mistaking the inappropriate for the compelling. And clearly, by acknowledging this quality in herself, Ms. Sey thinks she's being brave, admitting something unpleasant but essentially patting herself on the back for her honesty. There's an undercurrent of self-righteousness to the whole thing that's very off-putting. "Yes, I'm a jerk," she seems to be saying, "but I'm still absolutely right." To Jennifer Say, in a perfect world, we'd have no right to, apparently, watch an internationally syndicated television program. But she'd still have the right to bare her soul.

Again, if I ever use my personal experiences, I would hope that they anecdotally serve some larger point I'm making, rather than being confessional for confession's sake. I hope that I don't trespass this distinction, but forgive me if I do, and I'll try to correct it if I make that mistake.

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dear young people

Dear Young People,

Please do not write stupid, elitist shit. If you do, you will be rightfully excoriated in public. It might be asshattish of them to publish pictures of you looking coy and unsubstantial, but as you are an asshat yourself, you probably had it coming and probably expected it. And if it's any consolation, you will probably still think that you are better than everyone else and will learn nothing from this experience, at least until you graduate and then realize that employers and graduate school admissions officers will Google the fuck out of you. Or you'll join the Peace Corps, Teach For America, or do something that makes you down with the gente, and then feel abashed and spend the rest of your life hanging with the plebes in penitence. With the sense of irony you gained from your four years of elite education, you may one day look back at this sardonically. Maybe.

Best,
Belle

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Thursday Thing: I Unironically Like Processed Foodstuffs


Because I can't blog about Mariah every day, and because I am blog-exhausted from the last thing I wrote, today I write in celebration of the Pop-Tart (strawberry or cherry, frosted). I also write to express my unironic adoration of the Cheez-It. I even write to express a more-than-nostalgic fondness for "Kraft American Singles" and Oscar Meyer Bologna. I also love Doritos, and plain Wavy Lay's. I hate Chips Ahoy, but I like Oreos. And no, it's not just because I grew up poor and coveting brand-named snack foods that the other kids ate during recess while I brought rice balls mixed with sesame-peanut. I really do like eating these things.

Of course, I rarely eat them, because they are not very good for you and it takes a bit of effort to keep my size and health. It isn't so much dieting as "not eating crap," but at least I will admit that I like eating crap. I eat healthfully, but I don't like vegetables and would prefer to eat bacon at every meal. And yes, while I am one of those annoying people who makes their own pesto and bakes everything from scratch and cooks elaborate meals and eats only one before giving the rest away but at least that one high calorie cookie was delicious and "worth it," I do not disparage the packaged store stuff. I just disparage spending $4 on a single brownie, when $2 worth of ingredients will get you an 8"x8" pan. And heaven forbid you spend that much on a "gourmet" cupcake. I can bake better than most pastry shops, so why would I spend my financial aid on that? At least the stuff in the store can be had cheaply on sale days + your Safeway Club Card + a weekly coupon.

But, in our excessively "foodie-ish" yuppie, swipple aspirant culture, let us call a spade a spade, and let us acknowledge our "vices" and "plebeian" habits without resorting to an ironic defense. Wait until I tell you what's my favorite chain restaurant! Anyway, if you think I'm joking about being defensive about liking "crappy" food, read this post by Ben Wolfson about how those Slow Foods Evangelists of today are the assholes of tomorrow.

The sanctimony, toolishness, judgment and bizarre inability to understand the different types of burdens that confront poor families living in cities/neighborhoods that do not have access to such goods is appalling. I have framed this post as a yuppie defending her plebeian habits, but I could have just as easily framed it as a post on the rising costs of food and access to healthy produce, much less "organic" produce. Heaven forbid that anyone should judge my mother and how she made my father's two jobs stretch to feed a family of eight, even as she did all of the cooking and bought everything as cheaply as possible from ethnic food markets. I didn't grow up with processed foodstuffs, but really, were my meals of rice sprinkled with salt that much healthier? I remember dividing up a mango with my brothers and sisters. Besides, judging doesn't help, and neither does the idea that only locally produced, sustainable, organic vegetables (that spoil within a day, are expensive, and entail shopping several times a week) will save the world. That's just silly, short-sighted, and naive public policy. See also this discussion by William Saletan about bans on fast food restaurant in poor neighborhoods, and how that smacks of paternalism. And this. Alice Waters, whatever her sanctimony, couldn't save her own local high school. I much prefer this recommendation by Rachael Larrimore who correctly identifies that the problem is not McDonald's v.s Whole Foods.

Foodies are bad enough, and I should know, since I love one of them and am occasionally foodie-ish. Sanctimonious enviro-evangelists/foodies always get stuck in my craw, though, because they posit preferences as moral choices and then judge you for that, and go further by making silly and short-sighted public policy recommendations. I am not against environmentalism, locally grown/sustainable farming--I recycle, don't drive, and try to reduce my carbon footprint. I merely hate the turning of actually well-intentioned and valid environmental polices into lifestyle preferences. I hate, hate that it's all become about yuppie preferences, foodie-ism, and "the good things in life." That turns environmental policy into elitism, and I hate how "liberal elites" sounds like such a dirty epithet nowadays.

But, having been a hungry kid on a free-lunch program, I say, feed hungry bellies first, and address the root causes of that hunger and nutrition deficit, even if that entails using industrial agriculture, or gasp, social welfare. Worry about the organic-ness later.

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a post on norms and bullying in the blogosophere

A (very long) post concerning a big blawg kerfuffle over at Scatterplot. Please read and comment there.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Isaac Hayes walks on...

A few days late (my apologies Belle), but a tribute is in order. We'll honor the recently departed Isaac Hayes with Hooverphonic's 2Wicky - which samples my favorite Isaac Hayes song, "Walk on By" - which is actually a Burt Bacharach composition and originally recorded by Dionne Warwick - but that's not important. His version, which led to this version, is awesome, and he will, most certainly, be missed.

Labels: , ,

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hello, stranger

(I am actually writing a post on internet norms and bullying, which originally began as a post on academic boycotting, but am still thinking, writing, and waiting for another blogger to get back to me.)

I don't think I have ever really blogged about relationships or dating--at least not in the past two years, when I started being read by more than 20 people. I tend to not want to, as this is a personal enough blog with my ceaseless navel gazing, and I never want to get someone else's business tangled up in my blog, least of all my significant other. While I might say that "we went here and had this travel experience" or "this non-intimate conversation made me think of this economic theory and how wrong it is" or something like that, I rarely if ever post intimate thoughts or particulars. My feelings are my own, and my intended's. My abstracted musings on the philosophy of love are yours, though. Part of that is having layers of privacy, and another is prudence. But I have no problem, really, with academic thought exercises about this subject. And really, this all goes back to social theory and Goffman, so it really is academic.

I much like this post by Otto von Bisquick, recounting his experiences in a Starbucks, and making eye contact with a woman and almost deciding to sit next to her. Almost. I feel for him, man. It's tough managing social interactions, particularly in our atomized, anonymous society without familiar local networks and communities. You really are approaching strangers nowadays in a coffee shop, even if they wear the same college sweatshirt. It's hard enough managing our Goffmanian frontstage to people we know, much less strangers. This is why I don't deal well with strangers. Almost everyone I've met through this blog commented or emailed me first; I rarely contact others first.

That's not to say I don't enjoy such exchanges. They are awesome, and my blog friend are wonderful. But it's hard enough to do online, much less in person, and so I feel Otto's pain. I rarely talk to people in public, except maybe women with children or sweet old ladies or cab drivers. I might compliment a shopkeeper on her necklace, or get into a conversation about a book with the guy who sells me my $5.99 copy of Jeannette Winterson. But I don't usually get up from my chair at a coffee shop and talk to someone else. Hell, I don't even make eye contact. I usually avoid eye contact, and am actually reading or working. The times I do look up and see someone, I avert my eyes quickly.

Then I complain that no one ever says hi to me in a coffee shop. I actually don't want them to, and my attentions would not be compelled by another man these days anyway, but I sort of do just to know what that's like. It astounds me that it even happens. Have you ever approached someone in a coffee shop or bookstore? What do you say? "What are you reading" and "That's interesting" and "Tell me more about this" and "Is that what you want to do after you graduate" or "What other books do you like"? I suppose the girl/guy in question has to be reading, or doing something interesting so that you have a conversational entry point. But what if they're just sitting there? What if there are ten empty tables? Do you just sit next to him/her anyway and start talking? I realize now the efforts I go to in order to avoid social interaction: bring a book, and my iPod, avoid looking at people. I am a bad example of a socially conditioned and socialized person.

Of course, I am highly idiosyncratic and abnormally shy-to-the-verge-of-being-twitchy with strangers of the male gender, and so do not listen to me, dudes and girl dudes. I encourage Otto to approach the next girl he makes eye contact with! In reading his post, I was overcome with sympathy, grateful that I was not the social misfit he might have encountered, and immediately reminded of these posts on male assertiveness and this post on regret, all by Amber. Go out there, dudes of both genders! No regrets!

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Monday, August 11, 2008

being belle

1. I have insomnia again. I haven't had this in a year or so--usually it's a sign of stress, general malaise, and more stress. Gah. Suffice it to say, I'm suffering from headaches during the day and so I'm usually up for most of the night and asleep for most of the morning, with another hour or so in the late afternoon where I pass out on my couch with a book over my head or the sleeve of a sweater shading my eyes, too slammered to rise up and turn off the light. Yes, I exercise, and no, I don't drink coffee. I don't even eat that much sugar.

2. I'm totally panicked about school starting again in two weeks and being so behind in research for the dissertation and other independent articles that will never see the light of publication unless there is a miracle. Did I mention I just got another load of RA work to finish before school? And then there's the volunteering, which I am committed to sticking with, and the interview for 826 is next Monday. Augh!

3. I'm really enjoying Leona Lewis, who sounds like Mariah but more upbeat and less sex-kittenish, as well as Colbie Caillat, who is the female Jack Johnson. Dudes, I'm stressed out, it's been the worst summer ever, and I deserve to listen to happy, purely pleasurable pop. Plenty of room yet for Belle and Sebastian and Of Montreal.

4. I am generally described as "very friendly." That, I realized in a conversation with Bad Girl, depends on context. When I have no chance of interacting with the person again, I am very friendly. Hence, why I find myself in delightful conversations with cabbies and random strangers in whatever cities I'm traveling in. But I hate becoming "a regular," because it actually creeps me out for baristas or shop owners to become palsy with me, such that I may feel an obligation to keep patronizing a store, nail salon, or coffee place. I also don't like strangers knowing my business or asking me about my personal life. I will tip you well if you let me read my book in peace.

This is another reason why I am surprisingly unfriendly in my building. I smile and nod and say hello, but I do not inquire about how people are or offer them cookies. I already know that I am "That Girl," what with the baking aromas emanating every week and the R&B leaking through the door frame and out the windows into the parking lot. So, I don't want people to know about me, so they can assign my lameness to a face and name. I must give female grad students a bad name. They must already assume that I'm 400 lbs and an American Idol wannabe, and since the music is often heard at 2 pm, clearly lazy and unemployed in addition to a plebeian.

Not that I really care what people think, which, I think, is why I so enjoy the anonymity of not really knowing my neighbors and local shop owners. Having fewer front stages to micromanage is bliss that I don't get at school. Putnam is somewhat wrong: bowling alone can be fun. It's relaxing to do things by yourself. This, I think, is why I enjoy taking the same 2 mile walk to the same bookstore every Tuesday and Friday, talking to no one, and buying a paper or sale book. And the same reason why I do the 3-4 mile run up the mostly deserted, low foot traffic street to the park, despite the danger of nearly dying when Broadway hits the freeway.

5. Despite being panicky about school, behinded-ness and everything, I have decided that if I can't be productively insomniac, because I am blah I will be kind to myself and upgrade my Netflix from my ridiculous and stupid one-at-a-time plan to three-at-a-time. Up next: Mad Men. Then I will see about Veronica Mars.

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just like twitter

Brief thoughts:

1. It took me 20 minutes to realize that sound coming from outside are cricket chirps. I am such a city girl. Either that, or I have been blasting the Leona Lewis a little too loudly, now that Buffy is over. I suppose I could have been twittering this, except that as soon as I thought it I realized it was lame and not worth repeating to anyone else. Ahem.

2. If I don't read your blog, it's because you haven't signed up with Atom/Feedburner and you are not RSS-able on my iGoogle homepage and that's the only way I read blogs. Not personal. On the other hand, isn't it no longer necessary to sign up to broadcast feeds? I don't get why I can't add Ferule & Fescue or Four-Eyed Gremlin to my homepage. I come late to most non-legal blogs, btw.

3. I signed up for Twitter, but I am bored with it after 10 posts. Except for a life-and-death moment a week and a half ago, I haven't been struck with anything that I felt compelled to share with the world. I have the same problem with my Facebook or Google chat updates, which are always the same thing (reading, writing, writhing in pain), links of interest, and rarely changed. I am somewhat amused by the mundane tweets of certain bloggy friends, though. It is comforting to know about someone else's dinner plans. Weird, but nice. This might be a good way to long-distance couples or couples with children to stay connected, except that a certain person thinks that Twitter is the "lamest idea in the world" (lamer than Facebook, Myspace, Digg, in keeping with his general disdain for web 2.0 stuff)and if he wouldn't care about my hourly status changes, who else would? Amber is also perplexed by this.

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OrgTheory.net Book Forum: The Rise of the Conservative Movement by Steven Teles

Excellent stuff.

Introductory post by Fabio Rojas (Indiana) here (along with great questions):

Over the next week or so, we’ll have a back and forth with Steve Teles, whose 2008 book chronicles the emergence of the conservative legal establishment. The book has been hailed by many as an important account of late 20th century American politics. In a nutshell: Sometime around the 1970s, conservatives realized that their electoral victories could be undermined by the courts. The reason is that courts are highly dependent on legal theory and precedent. Without a serious alternative to liberal jurisprudence, it was often impossible for conservative policies to survive judicial review. The solution? Create an intellectual alternative to liberalism so that judges could rely on rigorous thinking when overturning liberal policies or approving conservative ones. This intellectual alternative was hatched in a network of scholars and organizations in the 70s, 80s and 90s and allowed a generation of judges to support new laws.

First response post by Prof. Steven Teles here. (Anyone interested in Law and Economics must read this.)

Second question post by Fabio here, asking some great sociological/social movements perspective questions.

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the coase theorem in action is a terrible idea

Oh come on now, surely you see the problems with this idea:

The Coase Theorem says that — absent large transaction costs — resources will end up being efficiently allocated, regardless of who holds the initial property rights.

NYU Law School is providing its students valuable real world experience with the Coase Theorem, according to this ABA Journal article.

Class assignments are made by lottery. There are no waiting lists for classes. This gives students an incentive to sign up for the most popular classes, even if they don’t want to take them. If they win a seat in one of the most sought-after classes, they can work out a deal to sell their seat to another student. (The way this is done is by the person holding the winning lottery ticket withdrawing from the class and the other person signing up for it a few seconds later; since there isn’t a waiting list, this scheme will work as long as no one else happens to sign up for the class in that few-second gap.)

In the end, the students willing to pay the most for classes are the ones taking them, which is efficient.

As in other areas (like organ donation), using cash to determine who gets into classes upsets some people. One of my students got into trouble for trying to sell her spot in my class, for instance.

Most likely NYU’s response to this publicity will be to change its policies, hopefully to a bidding system that will also lead to an efficient allocation. I would argue, however, that they should maintain the current system as a means of teaching the students about the Coase Theorem in a way they are sure to learn it.

The other reason that NYU might want to keep the system is that now that prospective students know about it, there might be a surge of applications. Rumor has it that students are willing to trade not just money, but also sex, to get access to popular classes.

(Emphasis in bold is mine.)


You know, a lot was written about Northwestern's new accelerated two-year JD program. Oh noes! Changes to legal pedagogy! What would C.C. Langdell think! Is this good or bad pedagogy? Etc., etc. So, why is no one talking about this? This sounds like a terrible idea to me, but IANAEconomist.

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the feral child

This is an incredibly sad story of neglect and child abuse:

First he saw the girl's eyes: dark and wide, unfocused, unblinking. She wasn't looking at him so much as through him.

She lay on a torn, moldy mattress on the floor. She was curled on her side, long legs tucked into her emaciated chest. Her ribs and collarbone jutted out; one skinny arm was slung over her face; her black hair was matted, crawling with lice. Insect bites, rashes and sores pocked her skin. Though she looked old enough to be in school, she was naked — except for a swollen diaper.

Her name, her mother had said, was Danielle. She was almost 7 years old.

She weighed 46 pounds. She was malnourished and anemic. In the pediatric intensive care unit they tried to feed the girl, but she couldn't chew or swallow solid food. So they put her on an IV and let her drink from a bottle.

Aides bathed her, scrubbed the sores on her face, trimmed her torn fingernails. They had to cut her tangled hair before they could comb out the lice.

Her caseworker determined that she had never been to school, never seen a doctor. She didn't know how to hold a doll, didn't understand peek-a-boo. "Due to the severe neglect," a doctor would write, "the child will be disabled for the rest of her life."

The authorities had discovered the rarest and most pitiable of creatures: a feral child.

The term is not a diagnosis. It comes from historic accounts — some fictional, some true — of children raised by animals and therefore not exposed to human nurturing. Wolf boys and bird girls, Tarzan, Mowgli from The Jungle Book.


I really do feel like crying. I am glad that the little girl is now safe and cared for, but I cannot believe how many calls reporting criminal neglect were made before the authorities finally rescued the girl.

This reminds me a lot of the incredibly heartbreaking story of "poor, poor Joshua" Deshaney. One of the worst cases ever decided.

H/T: Feminist Philosophers.

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