Sunday, November 30, 2008

why I oppose tipping

Look at Phoebe's experience! Look in horror!

The check appeared suddenly while we were still eating, but I didn't take offense, because the same happened to the Latvian model and her date sitting next to us. (That this was a beautiful-people place is both the restaurant's saving grace and its downfall.) Problems arose, however, when our waiter, the same man who'd tried to sneak the special, chased us as we left the restaurant, explaining, now in English, that you have to leave a 20% tip, and ours was not 20%. I've never before felt true nativist rage, not even when, last summer, the whole of Europe arrived to remind Americans just how useless our currency had become. I kept thinking, I'm from here! That's not how it works! I didn't go into the whole 'I'm from here' bit, which was, I think, obvious. But I did point out that there's no mandatory tip--if this particular restaurant had one (which would not be surprising in that they seem keen on ripping off those too beautiful and drunk to care) they hadn't exactly alerted us to it.

But more than that, look at Ian Ayre's work on tipping, and the racial disparity that comes with discretionary tipping. I'd rather get a percentage automatically added to the bill to be split among the workers, and hate the idea of employers stiffing their employees fair wages in their expectation that customers will make up the difference.


Google and Free Speech

Interesting article in the NYT today

THE ONGOING DISPUTE between Google and Turkey reminds us that, throughout history, the development of new media technologies has always altered the way we think about threats to free speech. At the beginning of the 20th century, civil libertarians in America worried most about the danger of the government silencing political speech: think of Eugene V. Debs, the Socialist candidate for President, who was imprisoned in 1919 for publicly protesting American involvement during World War I. But by the late 1960s, after the Supreme Court started to protect unpopular speakers more consistently, some critics worried that free speech in America was threatened less by government suppression than by editorial decisions made by the handful of private mass-media corporations like NBC and CBS that disproportionately controlled public discourse. One legal scholar, Jerome Barron, even argued at the time that the courts should give unorthodox speakers a mandatory right of access to media outlets controlled by giant corporations.

Today the Web might seem like a free-speech panacea: it has given anyone with Internet access the potential to reach a global audience. But though technology enthusiasts often celebrate the raucous explosion of Web speech, there is less focus on how the Internet is actually regulated, and by whom. As more and more speech migrates online, to blogs and social-networking sites and the like, the ultimate power to decide who has an opportunity to be heard, and what we may say, lies increasingly with Internet service providers, search engines and other Internet companies like Google, Yahoo, AOL, Facebook and even eBay.

The most powerful and protean of these Internet gatekeepers is, of course, Google. With control of 63 percent of the world’s Internet searches, as well as ownership of YouTube, Google has enormous influence over who can find an audience on the Web around the world. As an acknowledgment of its power, Google has given Nicole Wong a central role in the company’s decision-making process about what controversial user-generated content goes down or stays up on YouTube and other applications owned by Google, including Blogger, the blog site; Picasa, the photo-sharing site; and Orkut, the social networking site. Wong and her colleagues also oversee Google’s search engine: they decide what controversial material does and doesn’t appear on the local search engines that Google maintains in many countries in the world, as well as on As a result, Wong and her colleagues arguably have more influence over the contours of online expression than anyone else on the planet.

In response to the rise of online gatekeepers like Wong, some House Democrats and Republicans have introduced a bipartisan bill called the Global Online Freedom Act, which would require that Internet companies disclose to a newly created office in the State Department all material filtered in response to demands by foreign governments. Google and other leading Internet companies have sought modifications to the bill, arguing that, without the flexibility to negotiate (as Wong did with Turkey), they can’t protect the safety of local employees and that they may get kicked out of repressive countries, where they believe even a restricted version of their services does more good than harm. For the past two years, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, along with other international Internet companies, have been meeting regularly with human rights and civil-liberties advocacy groups to agree on voluntary standards for resisting worldwide censorship requests. At the end of last month, the Internet companies and the advocacy groups announced the Global Network Initiative, a series of principles for protecting global free expression and privacy.

Voluntary self-regulation means that, for the foreseeable future, Wong and her colleagues will continue to exercise extraordinary power over global speech online. Which raises a perennial but increasingly urgent question: Can we trust a corporation to be good — even a corporation whose informal motto is “Don’t be evil”?

“To love Google, you have to be a little bit of a monarchist, you have to have faith in the way people traditionally felt about the king,” Tim Wu, a Columbia law professor and a former scholar in residence at Google, told me recently. “One reason they’re good at the moment is they live and die on trust, and as soon as you lose trust in Google, it’s over for them.” Google’s claim on our trust is a fragile thing. After all, it’s hard to be a company whose mission is to give people all the information they want and to insist at the same time on deciding what information they get.

Good commentary by Frank Pasquale and Mike Madison. I'm no expert in First Amendment law or cyberlaw, but it's all very interesting to me. Reading this though, all I can think of is Pfeffer and Salancik's The External Control of Organizations, as well as Lauren Edelman's work on endogeneity. Perhaps more on this when I have time and can figure it all out in a coherent way.


bean burritos

I didn't over-consume anything over the holidays (Thanksgiving dinner: one piece of ham, two pieces of roast pork, bits of sides), and perhaps only indulged slightly more than usual in potato chips. Despite the previous post, I don't actually snack much, although being surrounded by snack foods at my parents' reminded me of the snacks I do love and how much I love snacking, which is why I don't have snackfoods around and thus do not snack. I don't know how I have stopped overeating, except that eating fattier things makes me eat less. You try eating more than two pieces of fatty roasted pork. No, I'm not endorsing Atkins, which sounds like a recipe for death. If anything I go on occasional all-carb diets, as all I want to eat when I'm sick or lazy is toast and cereal (and Twix bars). I am very pro-carb. Carbs for student council!

But I'm eating (sadly) on my own for these first few days of this week week, and as it is TD who would really revolt over meat-less meals, this is my idea of a high-protein, low-fat detox meal, were I in need of detoxing. I am terribly lazy at making myself salads, and don't like it enough as a meal to take the time to prepare it, and once I start eating a salad I immediately want to eat something else. Maybe I just make bad salads. I do enjoy fancy salads at restaurants, with the fancy shallot dressings and the inventive combinations of fruit and vegetable. But I enjoy them as appetizers. But yeah, salad is not really on the menu this week. So this is sort of my version of diet food, although I don't really recommend dieting either. That will probably mess up with your metabolism. I was starving after a 3 mile walk, so I can't objectively attest to it's yumminess, as I would knock you down and steal your candy when I'm hungry and thus might have bias when I say that this is pretty good:


1 lb pinto beans
2 tbs. salt
3 tsp. cumin
2 serrano chilies
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 bay leaves

Wash beans carefully, removing rocks. Seriously, rocks. Even in bagged beans. Soak beans in water overnight. In the morning, drain the water, rinse beans again, and refill with water, at least twice as much as amount of beans. Add the other ingredients. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Chill out for 2-3 hours. When the liquid's almost gone and the beans are tender, the beans are done. They will still look like beans. Refried beans are delicious, but probably bad for you and all smushed looking.

When they're done, remove the chilies, bay leaves, garlic if you can find it and don't want to eat it, and if you want, you can mash them, although I don't. You can also add a can of diced tomatoes and simmer again, although I don't.

Put a few spoonfuls of beans in a burrito-sized tortilla, top with sauteed onions and red peppers (yes, like fajitas), chopped tomatoes, cilantro, Mexican rice pilaf (I really do use a box for that, even though there's a recipe for that too, because I'm lazy), shredded jack cheese, avocado. Resist adding sour cream, which is delicious, and squeeze a lime wedge over it. Fold into a burrito shape. Sear on a clean pan to seal the folds. Eat. You can take out the salty pilaf and cheese if you want to be healthier, but leave in the avocado--it's good for you.

Yes, this is me being healthy. It is reasonably healthy, compared to what I normally eat. beans are also really cheap, and I got this week's groceries for $40, again for two people plus leftovers to bring to work or school). Of course, I went to three grocery stores on foot to hunt down bargains, but whatever, I'm a grad student.

Next time I'll blog my masoor dal recipe, which is also quite healthy and super cheap. My roasted eggplant and zucchini vegetarian lasagna is not so healthy, given all the cheese, and not so cheap either, given all the cheese. It is pretty awesome though. But for now, beans. I figure a couple of days of this and it'll be like I never ate a whole bag of Wavy Lay's. Although the menu for the rest of the week, once TD rejoins me on Wednesday, is herb encrusted salmon with mushroom-asparagus risotto (Trader Joe's is cheapest for chicken broth: $1.99 for 4 cups worth, also cheapest for arborio rice at $2.99/2 lb), split pea ($1.99/lb) soup with smoked ham bones (ham $2.99/lb at the butcher's), and sausage ($2.99 at Trader Joe's) and mushroom pizza (dough: $1.29 at Trader Joe's). Miraculously, neither of us have gained weight in our year together, and except for occasional romantic weekend getaways and indulgent special occasion nine-course meals for our anniversary, we're not significant expenses for each other. I can't stand to be thought of as an expense, but apparently I'm cheaper than his friends, who sometimes want to go out kobe steak places, expensive trendy bars, and $50 salumi plates. So I guess I can stop feeling bad for asking to go out for ice cream and dim sum.


snack food reviews

  • I am very disappointed in the Trader Joe's brand Ridge Cut Sweet Potato Chips--not enough salt, not enough crunch, not enough anything. Strong sweet potato flavor, but it feels like eating a rice cake with higher fat and fiber content. Pass.
  • I do, however, like Trader Joe's brand Ridge Cut kettle chips, lightly salted. I like them more than the salt and pepper ones, although I cannot say why because I normally like the taste of pepper. I hate salt and vinegar. I do not get people who like the taste of vinegar, since the very smell makes me want to throw up and so I can't use my hints from Heloise tips on using vinegar as a household cleaner and end up buying pricey chemical concoctions from Lysol. But anyway, eat these chips.
  • Taro chips are really good. They also look fancy when you put them in a bowl, but do not trust a person who says that putting purple and red potato chips in a bowl is "fancy", and do not serve this at your swanky parties where people of elevated rank with actual discerning taste will turn up their noses at your idea of a blini. Seriously, do not trust me. I only learned last week that "sweetbreads" are the glands of animals (offal), and not actually sweetened bread. I am such a scrappy social climbing poseur.
  • Whenever I make mango salsa, I serve it with blue corn chips, which look more festive, and yes, fancy.
  • Trader Joe's peanut butter filled chocolate covered pretzels are ok, but overwhelming. Just too rich. I feel like I might die when I eat more than one. Better are their chocolate covered raisins or bing cherries. Mmmm. Chocolate covered fruit will always make me happy, keep that in mind if you ever need a hostess gift.
  • I can't find peppermint bark, and I am like, sad. Can you tell me where to get peppermint bark?
  • After trying every "O's" type of cookie out there, from Trader Joe's O's to Whole Foods 365 "sandwich cookies" (healthier) to generic Hydros, I still say that Oreos are the best.
  • Pepperidge Farm Milanos are ok, but I actually prefer Le Petite Ecolier for my dark chocolate cookie needs. I don't actually have such needs, but people keep bringing over these cookies to my dinner parties despite my promising to have dessert covered. But anyway, go with Petite Ecolier.
  • Trader Joe's cranberry pannetone is not authentic enough. I don't know which brand I usually get, but I get it from the Italian grocer's and it's expensive and so it must be imported, which is why I rarely get pannetone. That, and I can eat and entire box by myself in two days. It's light, fluffy, has little candied fruits inside, is fragrant of orange, mmmmm. It's also fattening. I don't know how to make it, sadly.
  • Honey Bunches of Oats is too cloying. I used to love this cereal, until my mom found out I liked it and bought me two year's worth back in high school. It's not a cereal you can really eat every day. I really like Weetabix with a bit of sugar and dried cranberries and nuts, or honey nut granola. Or if I have time, steel cut oatmeal. I tried to eat Cap'n Crunch recently and it was so sugary I could barely eat it, and then I was hungry an hour later. TD eats Apple Jacks and Corn Pops dry, as in without milk. I do not understand this. I will occasionally indulge in Honey Nut Cheerio's or Lucky Charms, but in general, sweet cereals belong to the times you have the "munchies." Since I have never had drug-induced munchies, I figure I will save such cereals for when I am pregnant or whatever. Also, I always eat cereal with milk, unless it's a pre-run handful of dry cereal to make sure I don't pass out.
  • I used to like Milton's multigrain bread because it is sweet and was a good snack, but lately I've been eating that Ezekiel sprouted wheat stuff, which keeps me fuller, longer. I feel old. But when not concerned with daily fiber intake, I prefer Orowheat Potato Bread, toasted, with Kerrigold salted butter (Presidente butter is too pricey).
  • I would never buy a chocolate chip cookie or brownie, but I freaking love those Mother's circus animal cookies. If I can bake it, I won't buy it. Which means disdaining all those "fancy" cookies and almost everything from a bakery, but loving all manner of animal crackers, Ding Dongs, and Thin Mints. The more ghetto the better.
  • I can eat Nutella out of the jar, with a spoon. I highly recommend eating Nutella in its pure, unadulterated form.
  • I like Ritz crackers, but toasted Ritz is quite a novel, crispy and less buttery, experience.
  • I don't like the new weird forms of Doritos. Classic nacho cheese all the way. Not even cooler ranch, which I find weird.
  • Low fat Pringles sucks. Baked Lay's, however, are tasty. But like eating dried, potato-scented air. I recommend kettle chips or Wavy Lays.
What are your favorite snack foods? Suggestions for me?


Saturday, November 29, 2008

back and bemused

I don't know if it's because I smuggle back Vietnamese snack food whenever I visit my parents or because I'm on some watch list, but I always get the "your bag has been inspected" slip from TSA. Hmmm. If I don't get to have my tamarind candy and seafood-flavored chips, the terrorists win.

I did nothing but babysit and watch TV at my parents'. I am completely unproductive. This shall be taken into account in planning future visits. I'm also lazy about going outside, because you have to drive everywhere and there's nothing interesting to see if you take a walk anyway, and it's not runner-friendly in my neighborhood. All went well though--no extreme dysfunction, for now. Much food was eaten. Consequently, the first thing I did when I got back was to take a long walk in the dark. Ah, to go somewhere and not have to say where you're going, what time you'll be back, and in my antiquated patriarchy of a family, get permission to go. Much less walking in the dark, which to my father is a recipe for rape, no matter how bourgie the neighborhood is or how well populated by crowds of college students in the hours of 8 pm to 9 pm.

There's something to that, but part of what I love about my neighborhood is its walkability, which has contributed greatly to my independence. I am still occasionally concerned about personal safety, and am thus always watchful, but goodness I love walking by myself. While I love getting a ride to the airport or help with carrying heavy groceries, I get by on my own for the most part. I shop with a rolling backpack and several reusable green bags from TD's work, and I take buses and trains. I live a mile from the train, but only 0.2 miles from the nearest bus stop, and most of the time I walk to the train or school. Independence has perhaps emboldened me too much, but whenever I go back to Orange County, where you always need a car and where my paranoid father insists that I don't go out after dark, I totally want to take back the night! It's as much living without fear as it is living without constraint, and this way I don't let the terrorists win.

It was nice to see the family, and always good to see the kids, but it's also good to be back home, and I realize with a slightly painful twang that this home to me, not mom and dad's.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

action flicks, california love, pork, and thanks

I babysat the first day here, and my six and seven year old are ubercute and tell me delightful stories and apparently do impressions of me in my absence. Today I hung out with the two oldest, a 14 year old and a 17 year old, and we watched Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk. I am full of testosterone! We also listened to Tupac in the car. Damn, I love this song:

So, I loved Iron Man, and I liked The Incredible Hulk well enough, though I never saw the Ang Lee Hulk from 2003. Edward Norton is a good actor and gives the role some moodiness and gravitas. I can't say the same for Liv Tyler, who I find to be too breathy in any role, and she keeps playing the girlfriend. Seriously. To be honest, this is one of the Marvel heroes I knew little about. My brother read Spiderman and Batman growing up, so I know a bit through osmosis and reading the stray comic here and there. Probably explains my love of comics, comix, and graphic novels. Anyway, I read up more on Hulk. His storyline is incredibly convoluted and bizarre. I would diagnose him with schizophrenia. Also, I realize with a shock that superhero movies depart wildly from the storyline.

Tomorrow we're having roast pork, Chinese style, with steamed buns. Aw, yeah! I like turkey and fixings and make a mean pie, but I am very excited about tomorrow's eatin'. This year I have more than a few things to be thankful for, and I hope that you and your family eat a lot of good food and do all that mushy thankfulness stuff too.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

pho real

At my parents' house in sunny, hazy, warm Orange County. As soon as I got home, I ate a bowl of my mom's pho. I hooked up my 12" X61 to the 42" plasma TV they installed in my bedroom (which they keep for me), thinking that I'll move home and teach at a local law school as soon as I'm done. Ah, they don't really understand the vagaries of going on the teaching market. Still, it's nice to so far have undramatic, non-dysfunctional family time, and it's trippy to type and read my screen from 6 feet away. And did I mention the pho? Mmmmm.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

do you have a dog in this fight?

I wrote a post about education and intellectualism here. I was trying to roll up my sleeves and get dirty, but I am just too nice and believe too much in civility and collegiality. I wonder if there will one day be a war between intellectuals and anti-intellectuals, although what else were the last eight years?

After Thanksgiving, the lovely Amber Taylor of Prettier Than Napoleon and I will switch venues and continue our epistolary blogging on Law and Letters, so that this blog actually has content again. Amber is one of my BFFs, and, prepare yourself, a small-l libertarian. We are the cutest odd couple in the blogosphere. Oh yes we are! Please greet her warmly, with insightful, sharp commentary and puppies. Our first exchange will probably center around a do-it-yourself women's studies program for busy folk with day jobs, so keep an eye out for interesting syllabi and reading suggestions for me.


turn to p. 56

Following on Gowder's experiment to “grab the closest book, turn to page 56, and quote the fifth sentence”, except that I am surrounded by books and half of my reading is in PDF:

Left: "Marty's car was not there; the road was bare except for the dwindling backs of the other visitors, passing under a streetlamp now as they made their way down to the bus stop near the Administration building." Richard Yates, The Collected Stories.

Right: "Thus, the aesthetic disposition is one dimension of a distant, self-assured relation to the world and to others which presupposes objective assurance and distance." Pierre Bourdieu, Distinctions.

PDF: shockingly, now that I read law review articles less and less, none are reaching 56 pages.


Friday, November 21, 2008

New Annoying "Trend": Slow-blogging

And here I thought I was just being busy, sick, lazy, otherwise occupied with an off-line life, etc., but lo! There is a slow-blogging movement!:

The practice is inspired by the slow food movement, which says that fast food is destroying local traditions and healthy eating habits. Slow food advocates, like the chef Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif., believe that food should be local, organic and seasonal; slow bloggers believe that news-driven blogs like TechCrunch and Gawker are the equivalent of fast food restaurants — great for occasional consumption, but not enough to guarantee human sustenance over the longer haul.

A Slow Blog Manifesto, written in 2006 by Todd Sieling, a technology consultant from Vancouver, British Columbia, laid out the movement’s tenets. “Slow Blogging is a rejection of immediacy,” he wrote. “It is an affirmation that not all things worth reading are written quickly.” (Nor, because of a lack of traffic, is Mr. Sieling writing this blog at all these days.) Ms. Ganley, who recently left her job as a writing instructor at Middlebury College, compares slow blogging to meditation. It’s “being quiet for a moment before you write,” she said, “and not having what you write be the first thing that comes out of your head.”

On her blog, Ms. Ganley juxtaposes images and text as she reflects on the local landscape. She tends to post once or twice a week, but sometimes she can go a month or so without proffering something new.

Some slow bloggers like to push the envelope of their readers’ attention even further. Academics post lengthy pieces about literature and teaching styles, while techies experiment to see how infrequently they can post before readers desert them.

This approach is a deliberate smack at the popular group blogs like Huffington Post, the Daily Beast, Valleywag and boingboing, which can crank out as many as 50 items a day. On those sites, readers flood in and advertisers sign on. Spin and snark abound. Earnest descriptions of the first frost of the season are nowhere to be found.

In between the slow bloggers and the rapid-fire ones, there is a vast middle, hundreds of thousands of writers who are not trying to attract advertising or buzz but do want to reach like-minded colleagues and friends. These people have been the bedrock of the genre since its start, yet recently there has been a sea change in their output: They are increasingly turning to slow blogging, in practice if not in name.

The decreasing lack of content on this blog isn't conscious, and I think bloviating academics (like me) tend towards the verbose essays that are harder to crank out every hour. Correlation != causation, much less a discernible trend that has a name, ethos, or coherent, voluntary, cognizant membership. You can't call a lazy blogger a slow-blogger just because s/he writes less often!

Put this in your file for "yet another bogus NYT trend article."


Obama Killed Irony: Grim Melee Observed Sardonically by Hipsters

Breaking news from the NYT.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

scientists: 1, anti-scientists: 0

(Thanks to KJH, caption: "Seen outside a Walgeeens. Maybe the owner was filling a scrip for some
antibiotics. ")

Well, I'm on the mend because of awesome antibiotics. I am very grateful for antibiotics. I do not abuse them and use as directed for the entire length of the prescription, but as a frequent sufferer of strep throat and other yucky bacteria-caused things (this is what happens when you're a sickly child who grows up to work in daycare in college and be a de facto au pair to your nephews and nieces), I am very grateful. I wonder how anti-scientist, anti-evolution people deal with medical problems. I mean, my mom uses Chinese herbal medicine, but whenever I get sick she makes sure I go to the Western doctors and get "real" treatment. But she will steadfastly maintain that nothing helps her with her chronic arthritis so much as the noxious steeping of weird stinky herbs. Maybe she just thinks of our sicknesses as different, because she also goes to Western doctors for other ailments--it's only when they can't cure something chronic, like pain, that she resorts to the herbal stuff. I suppose I can buy that. But I really wonder how anti-science people get around their use of modern medicine, knowing that their doctors believe in that hokey evolution stuff, given that the medicine or treatments they are taking are based on that hullabaloo scientific method crap rather than faith. Hmmm.

On side effect that will not be mollified by either science or faith, if I had it, is the attendant nausea that comes with antibiotics though. Sigh. But between excruciating pain and pervasive nausea, I'd rather not be in pain, so I suppose that we can still grant victory to the scientists even though their product is not perfect.


Guilty confessions.

I have some confessions to make.

1. I now have a backlog of two cooking posts, and I've promised Belle that I'll post them, but I'm completely unmotivated to do so. Perhaps I'll cook something tonight, and, by doing so, become motivated to post all *three* cooking posts that will then be backlogged?

2. I like Katy Perry. How can you not like this woman? She's like Britney, but, you know, talented. And some of her music has kind of an 80's feel. Like this song:

Admittedly, it also has an overprocessed Britney feel. But there's a definite 80's undercurrent, and I am nothing if not a musical child of the 80's.

3. I also like Ladytron, and for similar 80's-throwback reasons.

This song:

never fails to remind me of an ex-girlfriend, who would unceasingly go on about how much of a badass she was when she was 17, and lament those lost days. (She was 20 at the time. Given that I was somewhat older, this was more than a little surreal.)

4. I *also* like Human, by the Killers, for, yes, further 80's nostalgia reasons. The vocals in that song are pure new wave. I miss new wave. I miss new wave terribly.

Sometimes, however, bands do a bait and switch. I bought an entire Shiny Toy Guns album on the strength of the 80's-ish sound of Le Disko, only to find that the rest is, well, utter crap. So sad.

But the video for Le Disko makes up for it. (Damn, it looks like youtube has caught on to the formerly easy way to hack around their embedding restrictions. Well, here's a link anyway. I *like* this video.)


more random roundup

1. Passive-aggressive notes. They are awesome!

2. Sleater-Kinney plays Wii Music!

3. A feminist literary critique of that asinine abstinence-only-vampire-love story! She mentions Byron.

4. The school of (cultured) life. "Changing society through culture and literature, philosophy and conversation. "

5. I'm 28, so I must need botox. Gah.

6. Neither rain nor sleet nor snow nor hail, but fuck that if I'm going to deliver more J.Crew catalogs.

7. I will say that The Wire and Mad Men make me very happy.

8. Dang, these party dresses are ugly and expensive. I'm sticking to my timeless dressy silk sheaths from two seasons ago and looking like a grownup, not an 18 year old at an '80s party reliving the days when she was not yet conceived.

9. Article about bad home economics, which cites Dan Ariely's book "Predictably Irrational," which I much like.

10. Axl Rose in the news? Seriously?


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

looking for love in all the wrong places

In 1995, I placed third in the Ayn Rand Anthem essay contest. I recount this story as a mark of everlasting shame, a bright scarlet AR branded upon my bosom. Dude, I was really poor and I was socking my $2 a week spending money plus skipping lunch to buying books and classical music CDs in my quest for self-concerted cultivation. Scholarship essays are an easy way to get to poor kids trying to save up for test fees (not even test prep programs!). I was very young and was not yet trained to discern good literature from bad, much less shitty faux philosophy. I blame this on going to crappy California public schools and my own naivete. And so yes, from the age of 15 to 17, I was a member of the objectivist society. Gah. Don't worry, I'm basically a communist now. And despite my sordid past and the black mark upon my soul, TD still loves me.

Anyway, for all of you love-lorn objectivists who believe in the virtue of selfishness who are somehow accidentally reading this neo-Marxist blog which urges you to sacrifice of yourself for another, especially if they are poor, old, temporarily unemployed, Veteran, or young, here's a dating website for you, since you can't have me and no longer want me.


dpvabc, Edmonton, Canada
My name is Daniel. I consider myself to be a born-again egoist and I have dedicated the rest of my life to self-improvement. People see me as a socially inept loner because I tend to avoid superficial conversation but actually I love talking to people who like to think (the problem being I don’t know very many).

thustotyrants, Selden, New York
[I am] short, stark, and mansome.

You should contact me if you are a skinny woman. If your words are a meaningful progression of concepts rather than a series of vocalizations induced by your spinal cord for the purpose of complementing my tone of voice. If you’ve seen the meatbot, the walking automaton, the pod-people, the dense, glazy-eyed substrate through which living organisms such as myself must escape to reach air and sunlight. If you’ve realized that if speech is to be regarded as a cognitive function, technically they aren’t speaking, and you don’t have to listen.

lostpainting, Hagerstown, Maryland
Please note: If you’re overweight, I won’t date you. If you believe in God, I won’t date you. If you vote for Democrats, I won’t date you.

Chinoy, Manila, Philippines
My individualism takes precedence at all costs, if not at all times.

Contact Me If You … : do not conform to the dictates and whims of any of the world’s religions, simply because your soul’s independence is paramount.

Lewis, London, U.K.
I love intelligent, sassy girls, particularly those working in consulting or investment banking (but other fields are great too). Really, nothing is hotter than an accomplished girl in a suit, as long as she is willing to settle down and have my children. I want a girl who will support my ambitions against the naysayers in society.

Rob, Stanford, California
Ayn Rand ignited the fire within me that was searching for the right spark. My every action is guided according to my philosophy, and my philosophy is the philosophy of Ayn Rand.

I am interested in meeting someone that truly embodies the values and virtues of Objectivism. I have found very few women that have not already been beaten down to a flimsy, irrational, empty pulp. I have changed many girls’ lives, but no one has blown me away yet.

I never “hook-up” randomly, I never kiss a girl that doesn’t deserve mine. I have yet to find a girl deserving of my falling in love with her. But “other people” are secondary values no matter what, so finding someone is not a priority for me.

H/T the inimitable Gowder.


Monday, November 17, 2008

random roundup

1. I don't get the appeal of these books (now a pro-abstinence, pro-vampire movie!), and I really liked Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

2. Rehnquist's papers were mostly boring, occasionally illuminating.

3. Stupid essay about the pathos of LOLCats.

4. Accomplished, brilliant Michelle Obama celebrated for her Sir-Mix-a-Lot booty, decried for her momification (not quite convinced; I think M.O. relishes being both a strong, independent woman and her husband's closest adviser and a mother, there does not need to be a Hobson's choice), picked apart for her fashion sense, given useless advice for the same. Belle bangs her head against the table in despair.

5. Also, I hate Camille Paglia (see also) and Germaine Greer. Just goes to show you that feminism is not monolithic, as I completely hate everything they write! Belle punches her fist into the wall; marvels at the hole that is as hollow as the idea of gender essentialism.

5. Am I the only one who's not a fan of Malcolm Gladwell's specious metatheories that rely on real social science and the theories created by other actually smart people to make broad claims that are then accepted by the lay public as the gospel truth of his own invention? He's a lovely writer and arguably valuable popularizer, but dude, people, unless there's a salt shortage, take several grains with each thing you read and make sure you look up those references to see the original research. See also.

6. Speaking of not quite stable social science, the IAT may not be as predictive in its testing of bias. I believe that there is unconscious bia s, but I am not convinced that the IAT is a rigorous test for it--but then again I am a fan of all things Phil Tetlock.

7. Speaking of prejudice and the ill effects thereof, here's an article explaining how you can be a gay Mormon (answer: don't have sex). Here is an advice column asking what to do if you are a closeted gay Mormon in an unhappy marriage, and I apologize to Matt (the usual one) for succumbing to weakness--but look, timely! I have no excuse for reading this, though.

8. I feel so sick I want to die (hugs for Belle!), but later this week I am going to make this soup. Maybe much later, though. Sigh. Not even a bag of Twix bars (my favorite commercial candy) is making me feel better.

9. Do I wish I were this kid? Not really. The world has enough pretentious foodies, so clearly the only way to distinguish is by age, and youthful pretension has that ineffable quality of absolute conviction.

10. What happened to my New Yorkers? They just stopped coming, and I've only noticed now that it's the third week or so, and other blogs are referring to articles I haven't read. No "this is your last issue" notice to renew, and so I am mad at the lack of due process that has deprived me of 2-3 issues. Unfortunately finances are so tight that I have declared a moratorium on Christmas presents, and so I suppose I will have to be content with reading books and stuff.


fun in the kitchen

An exceedingly fun twist on that traditional standby date "dinner and a movie" is to take a cooking class on how to make traditional Japanese dashi, ramen, and mochi, followed by a showing of the lovely movie Tampopo. Dude, I so did not recognize Ken Watanabe with hair and without Tom Cruise.

One day we'll go totally bourgie and take a sushi-making class. For now, it is fun learning that there's more to life than Top Ramen.


Friday, November 14, 2008

What? You don't like Billy Joel? Oh.

Then maybe you'll like Adele:

Great pipes, is a normal-sized, pretty girl with awesome eyeliner and bangs, what's not to like. And yes, I like Billy Joel, you haterz.

This song is nice too:

I need a plaid coat, stat.


Thursday, November 13, 2008


When I get stressed out by work, I have insomnia, sleep fitfully, wake up groggily, and have coughing fits due to acid reflux or whatever. So tonight I took a break, which I normally do anyway when TD is around, to watch a movie--Amazing Grace! It was good. Not like England's history has been spot-free, and not like they didn't continue to be colonizing bastards, but the story of William Wilberforce and the abolition of slavery was inspiring. I feel better, and re-energized about reading depressing anti-discrimination stuff. Yes, I totally teared up at the end, when the entire Parliament applauded and Wilberforce was recognized as a man as great as any despot, but you know, great for doing good stuff rather than bad stuff.


what belle is reading

In my free bits of time, before bed, in addition to admin law and soc of culture:

1. Law as a Means to an End by Brian Tamanaha (finally getting back to it!)

2. Eloquence and Reason by Robert Tsai

3. The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell

4. An uncorrected proof (squee!) of the yet-to-be-released novel by Jesse Ball

5. Executive Conflict by Calvin Morrill

What are you reading?


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What is "modernity," anyway, and why should we give a damn?

Belle, I will salve your blog guilt.

A dialog from the comments to a post in Gowder-territory:


Religions are obviously more than passels of expressions sometimes conjoined with ontological claims, though one might forgive another for not getting this as a result of the general atomization of, you know, MODERNITY. ...

I don’t understand why continental-types think the sentence “X is a symptom of modernity” constitutes some kind of objection to X.

Are religions “more than passels of expressions sometimes conjoined with ontological claims?” I’m not sure. I suppose they might also represent some kind of collective thing — it might be important to being a religion that it is something shared by others, in communal rituals, etc. But so what? ...

Wolfson and Gowder:
[various undifferentiated snark, sarcasm, irritability, &c]

The sorts of people who do heavy work in continental philosophy, literary studies, critical theory, the "theory"-side of sociology, and the like* (several of whom read this blog, yes? Hence the non-guilt-salving reason for moving this here: I want your thoughts, damnit) have this notion of "modernity," which, I take it, means something like "everything from the Enlightenment onward," and is supposed to represent something like mechanistic views of the world, plus something about "individualism" or Ben's "atomization."

I further take it that "modernity" is supposed to be in opposition to something after "modernity," not necessarily "postmodernism," but, well, something. Perhaps that something is nothing more than what happens when bad social theorists study read have graduate students undergraduates any fool from the street read to them directly transcribe into their papers too many math or quantum physics discussions and think that Heisenberg uncertainty or the irrational numbers express some deep truth about the world or the human condition or some rot.**

But that would be uncharitable.

So let's say that the thing after modernism is... I guess... a more communitarian, holistic view of things. Quine rather than Carnap, Sandel rather than Nozick.

(On some accounts, modernity has something to do with rationalism as well -- with the scientific approach to the world, etc. But if that's the case, then whatever the thing is that is opposed to modernity -- irrationalism? superstition? is so stupid that it would be uncharitable even to even mention it. So just forget that this whole paragraph exists.)

But if that's all that's at play, then why do people make such great hay of it? To hear the sorts noted above speak, there's some kind of massive divide between "modernity" and [all that other stuff, yet to be firmly defined]. But what it turns out sounding like is just a series of objections, all of which basically amount to "your theory, which otherwise makes perfect sense, fails to take into account the fundamental interconnectedness of all things."

Which is a claim that just leaves me cold. I tend to think that the Enlightenment got its name for a reason, and that guys like Hume, Kant, Mill, et. al., had basically the right ideas about a lot of stuff.*** Sometimes, the non-monadic perspective matters, but often it's just a bunch of reifications of collective entities that aren't.

But perhaps there's more to the debate? What work, precisely, do these notions of "modernity" and "[insert term for the thing or things that are opposed to it]" actually do? I'm genuinely curious about this. The whole dialog on this has sounded like barbaric yawping**** to me for so long that I turn to you for enlightenment.

* If the universities ever break out into open warfare, I will stand with the analytic philosophers, economists, quantitative sociologists (like Granovetter), rational choice political scientists and "biological anthropologists" against the groups listed above, plus historical institutionalist political scientists, cultural and social anthropologists, 90% of law professors, etc. I have complete confidence in our ultimate victory, because we can do math.

** I have to quote that glorious Lacan passage that Sokal and folks love so much.

Thus the erectile organ comes to symbolize the place of jouissance [ecstasy], not in itself, or even in the form of an image, but as a part lacking in the desired image: that is why it is equivalent to the square root of -1 of the signification produced above, of the jouissance that it restores by the coefficient of its statement to the function of lack of signifier (-1).

*** Also, let us not forget that along with Kant, Hume, etc. came Hegel, who is guilty of many things, but one of them is surely not inadequate holism.

**** See, Daniel? I like some American poetry.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

state of the belle

1. Very confused about schemas vs. frames vs. narratives vs. group styles. Like, what the fuck is the difference. Damn you sociologists for finding one phenomenon and giving it five names.

2. Very stoked about finally getting to the judicial review part of admin law! Srsly.

3. Writing, and unable to decide whether to go easy student-edited law review route or potentially peer-reviewed social science journal route. Unless I can miraculously do empirical something or the other, likely the former, or at least until I write an annual review type essay. I'm finally getting how to do that sort of thing, because I am finding a field of literature that I want to review and sum up in a coherent way, at least as it relates to my particular research interests. I know it seems late in the game, but I'm finally zeroing in on what I want to research (apparently, "employment discrimination" is rather broad), how I want to research it (it ain't just theory), what methodology I will use (sadly, not much quant), and the precise question I am asking (I think it's actually interesting!). Which is actually better than the extant literature!

4. Why? Because I'm in less contact with my adviser, and when left to my own devices, will tend to read and write and think independently and seek advice from other corners of the university, namely the sociology department and the organizational behavior department at the business school.

5. Speaking of business school, I like hanging out at the colloquiums there, because the facilities are nicer and no one knows who I am and I don't really belong, so I can hang out and soak up the scene. Yes, I sort of sound like a high class intellectual whore. New, interesting research I would never be exposed to because it's in a different field. So, so awesome.

6. I don't blog enough anymore. I feel uninspired when I try to come up with independent blog posts, and I don't read enough anymore in the media to find blog-worthy topics. It seems boring to blog about that Eliason article I just read. But I find the epistolary blogging experiment at Amber's to provoke me into writing inspiration. I need to get her over here so that I can keep up my readership. I have blog guilt, which makes me feel sad.

7. On the other hand, I feel awesome because I have been cooking a lot, and TD takes a little tupperware to work, and I feel even more awesome for providing him food throughout the day. Where does this strange nurturing instinct come from? Of course, would be silly to think that my feminism and independence are diluted by my nurturing of others. Y'all should see me with kids. Anyway, TD is gone this week for work, I'm bad at cooking and eating for one (always have been, even if I did cook--I'd cook one thing and eat it for a week), and so I'm eating leftovers and cereal.

8. I feel exhausted because I am not getting much sleep, because I really want to read and write and make spring submission deadlines so that I can apply concurrently for jobs, clerkships, and fellowships in an effort to stave off the terror that is the potential "hiring freeze." In any case, knowing that most of my friends are in the same boat makes me not want to whine about this much (much less talk about it, such are my stress levels, so do not ask), and TD's support in the eventuality of any of the above occuring make me feel better. I always thought that being single and having maximum flexibility would make it easier, but actually, having a partner willing to go along with whatever happens (which would mean going with you or agreeing to do long distance for a while) is even better.

9. Know what also makes me feel better? Knitting. See also, cooking. And cleaning. And walking a lot. These things aren't doing work, but I've been cutting down my blog reading. This, of course, doesn't mean YOUR blog.

10. Know what makes you feel almost the best? Going away for a fun and romantic weekend! The last couple of weekends have been either rained out or work-heavy, so this will be the one weekend of respite before the onslaught of work slaughter, holidays, etc. Gotta get back to work in the meantime though.


live-blogging NonDescript 11/11

And good morning, and welcome to another week in which Belle sits in her rocking chair screaming at these dad-burned kids today and that noise that they call music. Ahhh, Ensure.

Show feed.


Artist | Song | Album
Astronautalis | Oceanwalk | You And Yer Good Ideas
Beirut | A Sunday Smile | The Flying Club Cup
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings | I Just Dropped In to See What Condition My Condition Is In | Daptone 7 Inch Singles Collection Vol. 2
Blitzen Trapper | God & Suicide | Furr
Hot Snakes | Our Work Fills the Pew’s | Automatic Midnight
Say Hi To Your Mom | A Hit In Sweden | Numbers & Mumbles
We Start Fires | Trouble | We Start Fires
The Minders | Savour All the Days | It’s a Bright Guilty World
The Golden Dogs | Elevator Man | Everything In 3 Parts
The Mabuses | Seasider | Mabused
Tom Waits | Goodnight Irene | Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards
Spectaculars | Anti-Hectic | Have You Heard Things?
My Robot Friend | You’re Out Of The Computer | Hot Action!
Tubeway Army | Crazies | Replicas
The Teeth | Ball of The Dead Rat | You’re My Lover Now
Zen Guerrilla | Empty Heart | Positronic Raygun
Tom Lehrer | It Makes A Fellow Proud To Be A Soldier | An Evening Wasted With…

Intro song: I dig this song by Astronautalis, even if it has a whiff of the pompous. I don't know why, but it does.

#1: I love Beirut. The Journalist first gave me their music, but it took Bryan's putting "Nantes" on some show a while back for me to really start listening to them. Loved them ever since. Ironically this is a song that TD professes to hate for being "dirge-like." He even started operatically going "ohhh ahhh ohhh ahhh" to the tune to exaggerate the effect. Like, whev. This is why we only listen to NPR or old white dude classic rock in the car together. Because he grew up white, he claims to have heard every Rolling Stone/The Who/Led Zepplin song hundreds of times, while I will perk up with a "ooooh, what is that song?!" and make him play CCR and Tom Petty like I had never heard "Bad Moon Rising" before.

#2: Hot damn this is a great version of "I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in"--better than Kenny Rogers! Sharon Jones, you one funky woman.

#3: "Blizten Trapper" sounds like a two-headed reindeer. I am predisposed to like a song called "God and Suicide" anyway (I am a bad person), but this is a very catchy song that I like much. So far, 3 for 3.

#4: "Hot Snakes" sounds like a great Southwestern dish. I really like this song.

Bryan, your dulcet tones do soothe me. You should read out loud my text books. Maybe then I wouldn't fall asleep and whap my head with a book. Wait a minute, if they are soothing, then of course I would fall asleep. Nevermind! Do not read my books out loud to me!

#5: This is Say Hi To Your Mom? Dang, couldn't recognize it. Catchy. Did you make this playlist just for me? 5 for 5.

#6: We Start Fires is a good band name, but We Start Forest Fires would be even better. Hooray for girl rock! Bryan, you gotta get more ladies representin'. 6 for 6.

#7: The Minders: Oooh, they remind me of the '70s. I like this band. Chill but funky. 7 for 7.

#8: The Golden Dogs: I like this song, whereas in past weeks I have derided bands for "having too much going on." In this case I really like the mix of tempos, instruments, voices, harmonies. Also I like the lyrics. They should write odes to all sorts of mundane tasks, like "Going to the Drycleaners."

#9: Mabuses: I can't help but think "mah buses" in a Southern twang, but who has a bus, or for that matter, multiple buses? I like this song. Happy, if unchallenging, with the repetitive chords and lyrics. Then again, who am I to talk, having been really happy to hear a song by that '90s band "Everclear" last weekend. I would live in a house by the seaside.

#10: I adamantly maintain that any man who does not like Tom Waits is immediately suspect and on my "do not date" list. However, I have not asked TD if he likes Tom Waits. Ignorance, bliss, etc. Likely, he would say that he sometimes sounds like Krusty the Klown at 80, an assessment I would agree with, but still find awesome. The lyrics, they are so tender.

#11: Spectaculars: I like this song a lot! I want to buy their music! I like that chorus part best.

#12: I don't love My Robot Friend, but I don't hate them. I put the song "Walking Jewish" on a mixtape for TD. Wasn't there a bunch of robot stuff last week? You like robots, Bryan. What's up with that.

#13: Tubeway Army: I wonder if all current bands fronted by former '80s band members end up sounding like '80s revival music. Like, which came first, etc. Anyway, I love this song.

#14: The Teeth: I cannot begin to recount the ways in which I love this song. I can't explain why I love it either. It just makes me happy. Perhaps this is not unlike explaining why you love someone.

#15: Zen Guerilla: this sounds like old white dude rock, and I mean that in a good way. Is this freedom rock? Well, turn it up, man!

And that does it for me. Good show! I liked everything! This is almost disappointing, as I was hoping for more jovial bloodshed on Law and Letters. Well, if we can't hate each other, and we can't even hate each other's music, I suppose we will have to settle for hating everyone else. Seek comity, and you shall achieve it. It is not unlike when I am drunk, which makes me very fun, happy, and agreeable. When I am drunk, I agree with everybody!

PS: Dude, didn't you just have a fund raising drive? Seems to me like someone is taking two bites at the apple. You should have a fun-raising drive!


Monday, November 10, 2008

belle's recipe for beef, leek, barley and potato stew

My head hurts from reading too much and trying to write. Soup helps.

Again, I looked at 20 recipes and didn't like any of them. Trust your instincts! Some recipes seem too easy and too bland. Trust your instincts! And your taste buds! Mine led me to add the extra steps of browning the meat, adding wine, spices, extra salt, eschewing bland water in favor of beef broth, and adding an extra pound of meat. In Belle's cookbook, when in doubt, add more bacon/beef/butter. I walk a lot and so far am still size 4, so don't fret about the fat, and at least you'll feel full after one bowl. There's something about winter that makes me want stick-to-your-ribs rib food anyway. Plus, this way it's beef stew instead of stew-with-beef.

After 10 minutes of extra-step investment, you can indeed sit back and let this cook on the back burner as you work on admin law and you wait for your partner come home from work. On a Sunday. Working on weekends sucks--might as well eat soup. This was much appreciated by TD.


1 lb beef short ribs, approx. two of them, bone-in, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 lb. beef stew meat, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. cumin
2 bay leaves
1 cup dry red wine
3 cans beef broth (six cups)
2 cups water
3-4 tsp. salt
A lot of ground pepper
2 leeks, white parts only, halved lengthwise and chopped
4-5 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup barley

1. Coat the bottom of your soup pot to 1/8" with olive oil. Heat on high. Brown the meat on all sides to a dark brown, with a nice crust.

2. Remove to a plate. Lower heat to medium. Sautee the onion till soft, 5 min. Add the garlic and cumin, sautee 2 min more. Put back in the meat.

3. Bring heat to high, and add the wine. Bring to a boil. Add the other liquids, and bring to a boil again. Add the salt, bay leaves and lots of pepper.

4. Add the barley, leeks, and potatoes. Make sure the meat is submerged in the liquid, and cover the pot. Lower heat to a low simmer and let it simmer for 3-4 hours and read a lot of admin law and stuff about microcultures as it cooks. After the meat is soft and tender, remove it and chop it up and discard the bones and tendons, then return meat to the pot and stir. Remove the bay leaves. Skim the fat from the surface, which will look like oil. Or you could refrigerate and skim it off the next day. If the soup is too thick, add water by the 1/2 cup and adjust seasonings.

Eat a bowl and feel warm. Watch your partner eat two bowls. Pack up apparently 4 bowls in tupperware and eat for a few more days.


Cooking posts coming, I promise. But for now, some race posts!

I have two more cooking posts backlogged... I'll write them soon. Honest.

But while you're waiting, if anyone is interested in the debate about blaming black people for proposition 8, I have two posts on it at Uncommon Priors, arguing basically that even if there's a relationship between blackness and voting for proposition 8, the correct causal attribution is to the oppression that black people have suffered. 1. Correlation is not causation, OR: there are no racial essences, for fuck’s sake. A political fable. 2. Fallacies of racial causation.

I think this is a really important discussion, and I'm trying to spread it all over the internet. It's time to put a stop to the unreflective assertion that prop. 8 is the fault of black folks.

There's also a discussion of this going on in my facebook -- anyone may feel free to search for me (there aren't many Paul Gowders on facebook), friend me, and then participate in that locus of discussion.


Sunday, November 09, 2008

performativity and gender

Check out Amber's post, and then my response.


Friday, November 07, 2008

idiot leaders around the world

I never understood Berlusconi's high approval ratings, given his idiocy and crookedness. Seriously, the guy is like a real Godfather movie. Mafia? Seriously? I talked to one or two Italian LL.Ms. They don't get it either. Nor how he was re-elected.

At least in a few months we won't have as strong a competitor for the "Most Idiotic World Leader" award.


Post-blogging NonDescript 11/4

Post this week was delayed by election tension, euphoria, gettin' back to work, and stuff.

You can find the playlist and podcast here.

And good morning, and welcome to another week in which Belle listens to cool music and bobs her head rhythmically but with an economy of motion and an abundance of decorum as she judges you, girl in the tube top, for gyrating and flailing about, detracting attention from the band so that you can get your sexy dance on. Yes, I mean you, thunder-stealing-from-Death-Cab bitch.

The playlist:

The Majestic Twelve | Condoleeza, Check My Posse | Schizophrenology
Le Tigre | After Dark | This Island
The Dismemberment Plan | Girl O’ Clock | Emergency & I
Drazy Hoops | In God We Trust | Hey Sunshine
Electric Laser People | Disco3000 | Straight Talk On Raising Kids
Eagles of Death Metal | I Only Want You | Peace Love Death Metal
The French Kicks | So Far We Are | Two Thousand
Golden Shoulders | This Is A Test | Friendship Is Deep
The Heavy | Coleen | Great Vengeance and Furious Fire
Kultur Shock | Duna | We Came To Take Your Jobs Away
Firewater | Feels Like the End of the World | The Golden Hour
The French Kicks | England Just Will Not Let You Recover | Two Thousand
Cloud Cult | Story of the Grandson of Jesus | Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes)
BOAT | Remember the Romans | Songs That you Might Not Like
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings | This Land Is Your Land | Naturally
Tom Lehrer | Werner Von Braun | That Was The Year That Was

Intro song: I do like The Majestic Twelve, but this song is more of a parody. Am I to like it as a parody or as a song on its own terms? I never know.

#1: Who doesn't like Le Tigre? Srsly. It's like dance music you can get behind because it has more than one lyric repeated a bajillion times.

#2: Hmm, not sure I like The Dismemberment Plan. It's like they're making fun of people with speech impediments. I know I tend to not like songs with too much going on, and this is a failing of mine, but hmm.

#3: Ooooh, this song I like. Drazy Hoops! Like a '90s redux band, Sister Hazel + Hootie + Toad the Wet Sprocket.

#4: Electric Laser People reminds me of "The Humans Are Dead" song from Flight of the Conchords, but mixed with their David Bowie tribute.

#5: With a name like "Eagles of Death Metal," I thought I'd hate this, but I really like it. You challenge me, Bryan-san.

#6: I like this song by The French Kicks. I hope that their band name is ironic. Are they really from France? They are not too challenging, sounding sort of like Snow Patrol + Keane without the Beatles-esqueness of Travis. I assume that they are not American. Why is that?

#7: Golden Shoulders: dig.

#8: The Heavy: also dig, because I love funk-influenced pop. I told you Bryan, how I would love to go back in time and be a backup singer/dancer for George Clinton or Earth, Wind and Fire? Ohhh yeah!

#9: Kultur Shock: ehhh. Plus, they should be called Kulturkampf so that they can stick it to Scalia.

#10: Firewater: reminds me of 70's stuck-in-a-desert rock. I dig.

#11: The French Kicks: should've known that kids from liberal arts college towns sound like Euro bands. I like this song too. Perhaps I should look into buying their music.

(Belle takes an extended break to listen to NPR for the press conference; will return when it's done)

(Belle also rolled out an apple pie)

#12: Cloud Cult: I know I said that I liked this band. I do. I wonder if this like will have greater than passing longevity. See also, The Killers, The Fratellis.

#13: I love BOAT. The voice is distinctive. Happy pop like O.A.R., but the distinctive voice pushes it over the edge of contemporary alt rock.

#14: Sharon Jones! Mrs., Mrs. Jones and me! I must get her music. Could this song be more appropriate for this week? You go, Bryan! Get on with your bad self!

Ok, that's it for me and my musical education this week. For the rest of this week I'll be so intimidated by my large music collection that I'll remain largely in ignorance, re-listening to beloved '90s tracks.


Thursday, November 06, 2008

belle's recipe for corn and butternut squash chowder

I looked at 20 recipes and didn't like any of them. So I made one up. It's really good! Sweet with a kick. To make vegetarian, substitute vegetable broth and take out the bacon. To make vegan, add twice the amount of pureed squash & corn to make the broth thick without milk, though you then might need more vegetable broth.


5 ears of shucked corn, or one 10 oz. bag of frozen corn
1 butternut squash
1 can corn niblets, the cheap kind from Del Monte or whatever
7 sage leaves
sea salt
dots of unsalted butter
1 sweet onion, chopped finely
1/4 tsp. cayenne
3 tsp. kosher salt
1 can chicken broth
2 cups whole milk
2 tbs. flour
3-4 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
6 pieces of bacon, rendered crisp, drained, crumbled


Shuck the corn, if you have corn to shuck. I cut off the tip to stabilize and cut downwards with a serrated knife. It still gets all over the place. Reserve for later.

Cut the squash in half. Scoop out seeds and pulp. Lay halves on baking sheet cut-side up. Dot with butter, sprinkle with sea salt, lay sage leaves on top. Roast at 400 F until they're done, which is for some reason like an hour.

When it's soft, scoop out the squash and puree in a food processor (include the sage leaves) with the can of cheap corn niblets. Try not to laugh when you say "niblets." Heh.


Take your soup pot and heat 1/8 cup olive oil. Sautee onion until soft on medium heat, about 5-7 min. Add cayenne and flour, and make sure the flour is cooked up. Raise heat to high, and pour in broth and two cups of milk and pureed squash and bring to a boil. Add salt, stir.

When it's boiling, add the raw corn and diced potatoes. Lower heat to a simmer, and let it simmer for 20-30 min. Add half of bacon to the chowder. If it's too thick, add a little milk to thin it out.

Serve with reserved crumbled bacon on top.

Be happy.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A moment of schadenfreude

And to make up for it: a moment of beauty.

(Also, re: the Crispin Sartwell reference, my appointment of him as my electionblogging proxy does not, of course, extend to the remark about Michelle Obama's clothes. But all the rest are pretty funny.)


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

two people in search of a parade

We shouted and cheered along with a few hundred people at a movie theater-turned-into-election party. I got a little teary-eyed at many points. We jumped up and down the streets and hi-fived people. We honked our car horn. We got back to my neighborhood and walked up and down the streets, cheering and yelling and hi-fiving everyone. We found a few people on the corner of MacArthur and 41st who were having their own cheering party and cheered along with them until our voices gave out.

It is a good day.


Alternative election blogging...

I nominate Crispin Sartwell as my proxy for electionblogging. He is as politically cynical as I, but funnier. Seriously, read his election day miniposts. I want to quote the funny ones, but that would ruin it.


I Voted. Did You?

Obviously no pictures of me and my sticker, but you'll have to take my word for it. I went when the polls opened, and it took about an hour. And I'm not even in a battleground state, much less battleground precinct! On the rosters of registered voters there were few Republicans--I am telling you, I live in a liberal college town. It was heartening to see so many people in line exercising their rights, and as it was in a retirement home, there were lots of smiling older folks beaming proudly at us. I dunno, it kind of felt good, because everyone knew that it was a historic day, and everyone was proud to be a part of it, and I heard a couple of "good for you's", which would smack of paternalism except that the folks were really paternal and probably lived through so much history that today they were happy to see this day in their lifetime. There wasn't much chattering or smiling in the actual line--perhaps we were afraid of jinxing ourselves. Which is silly of course. We have such low participation in this country that 66% participation was the historic high in 1908--voting means something to me, being the first American-born citizen in my family, and much as you can deride my belief in electoral politics, it does mean something. Get out and vote! Don't stay at home!


Monday, November 03, 2008

Open Letter on Prop 8

From a Friend:

There is a proposition on the California ballot this year that directly impacts my life and I feel the need to do something about it before it is too late. It is very personal, and in my opinion, not something that should even be decided by a popular vote, as it is a matter of constitutional law (you know, the thing this country is supposed to be based on- all of us are created equal...). It is Prop 8. Voting yes on 8 will take away my rights as a citizen, and potential mother and wife. If this passes I will be denied rights that will protect me and my future family.

California, (like Massachusetts, Connecticut and many other countries) came to its proverbial senses on same-sex marriage and thus it was finally legalized this year. I personally know many happy couples who had been together for years, have children together, own houses together, and who's relationships were finally legitimized by the state for the first time. I can't tell you what it's like to live in a country that looks at who I am and the group of people like me, and says separate is equal. Do you know what it's like to be denied a basic human right because you are considered not 'normal' and not worthy of equal treatment?

Many people in this country think domestic partnership is good enough (though in many cases the rights it comes with are in fact, not equal). Does this remind you of anything else in our history? Are we really so un-evolved as a society that we need to repeat state-condoned segregation and go through a whole civil-rights battle, just to realize we could have made it easier on ourselves from the beginning by making the same laws and regulations applicable to all our citizens, rather than having separate rules for separate people?

Harvey Milk, the first gay elected official in this country said: If we look back on history, we see that our society is slowly moving toward its own founding principals of equality. What we have here is a chance to speed that process along.

Before voting this year, PLEASE consider:

1. That you know and love gays and lesbians. We have been around since the beginning of time, and we are 10-20% of the population.

2. We are not going away. It is not curable, whether we are born this way or not. We will continue to style hair, play softball and generally be underrepresented in sitcoms and media. Will you have us all be unmarried? Forever?

3. Prop 8 is about hating. You know at least one of "us" - whether or not we are comfortable enough to let you know that we are gay. Unfortunately, in "socially conservative" areas, we keep our sexuality a secret and often turn to drugs, suicide, and enter unhappy/unhealthy/abusive relationships at a much higher rate....acceptance and equal rights for all will be the first step to combating the bigotry that causes these problems.

4. Throughout history, we are poets, writers, inventors, musicians, teachers (lots of teachers), politicians, etc, yet treated as second class citizens.

5. Same-sex marriage was legalized all around the world (in SPAIN even) and has been legal in California for over 5 months now and no lightning has struck from above. In fact, everything is just normal and OK in all of the places that have legalized marriage. More people are happy and secure in stable families.

6. Same-sex marriage is good for the economy! One UCLA study projects that same-sex unions could provide a $370-million shot in the arm to the state economy over the next three years.

7. If for some reason, Prop 8 passes this November, it will not, I repeat not nullify all the same-sex marriages that have already taken place here. Over 11,000 couples have already tied the knot and many more are rushing to do it before the election. So basically, the only thing Prop 8 would be doing is taking away the right to marry for those of us that are not ready to get married right now. How unfair is that? California will still have plenty of gay and lesbian married couples running around.

8. Out of state marriages are valid. So all California will be doing is forcing gay couples to have their weddings elsewhere (spending money this state could surely use) and they'll return home to good ole California just as married as their straight counterparts.

9. Don't think for a second if Prop 8 passes a huge legal battle won't ensue. It's already been proven by the State Supreme Court that denying same-sex couples the right to marry is unconstitutional. Even if it passes, it will be overturned using a lot of (in my opinion) unnecessary time and money.

If you are a "yes" or "undecided" on this issue, I would consider it a personal favor if you took some time to read a few of the responses about misconceptions and fear tactics that the "yes" campaign is putting out.

Click here to read these.

Please spread the word about this human rights inequity issue. Forward this to everyone you know that is undecided (in CA). This isn't about politics or religion. This is about *me* and my life AND (chances are) about the life of someone else that you know and love. Both born and unborn; both "out of the closet", and "in the closet."

I should have mentioned, from a brilliant, wonderful, deserving of human rights friend.


stomach, knots, twisted

This is your open thread for all things election.

Me? Great weekend, and much food was eaten, but now I want to throw up.

Vote For Change
is great. My polling place is 75 feet away, or 2 seconds. I'm going to wake up super early and get there before 7 am, with my sample ballot filled out (it is an exhausting process in my state, as there are a number of dumbass propositions every year). And then I'm going back to bed with my books all around me and my computer off so that I will not obsessively check 538 and ignore all media until 6 pm, when I go to this old speakeasy movie theater downtown to watch the election results come in with TD and a few hundred people. It will be mostly anonymous and yet hopefully (hope! not hubris, people!) festive. The last election, I huddled in my little room at the converted-sorority-boarding house next to the law school and wept alone, because misery hates company.

Well, at least I plan to vote early and then go see election results, but I can't actually promise I'll stay media free.


Saturday, November 01, 2008

Californian Political Nag.

Time is running out to beat this nasty thing. Volunteer and donate for no on prop 8. If I, a po' and incredibly busy grad student, can afford to kick 'em 50 bucks and volunteer for a few hours on election day, so can you.