Sunday, October 30, 2005

Dork

I take great pleasure in knowing that my school email is a rhyming anapestic trimeter tercet:

Mn Dee HU
@
N Y U
.
E D U

Tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the open-throated "oo."

Humbling Moments From the Weekend, Pt. 1

1) Moderating this panel on lesbian feminism and the body last Friday, I sort of made a wallflower of myself by letting my panelists monologue without really answering any questions. Finally, at the end of half-hour panel, I jumped in and said, "Sorry to keep bringing up vaginal self-examinations, but it's like the gift that keeps on giving!" and then was promptly cut off by the conference organizer for exceeding the time limit. L-O-kwent!

2) Thursday, in the law library, raptly attending to my Contracts reading and chewing on the end of my four-color pen (black for facts and procedural history, blue for legal issues, green for analysis, red for holdings and dicta),

I accidentally bit down on the release spring for the blue color and somehow got my lower lip trapped under the springs of the pen. It took a good long minute--and a lot of tugging--to extract the spring from my lip, after which I was bleeding and nearly crying.

3) Attempting to purchase a "suit" for use in the future, since all law-talking guys seem to need a black suit and precipitating an existential crisis instead. Why am I shaped like an inverted triangle? I looked like either a trussed-up ham leaking GLH or a tiny boy in a huge woman's suit. Which one am I?

4) Making a new awesome friend, offering new friend a space in a conference hotel I wasn't at liberty to offer, making everyone feel uncomfortable, then having to call and rescind my overeager generosity to aforementioned new awesome friend. Text messaged contrition ensues.

5) Offering, again in overeager generosity, a book to someone for keeps and then having to be reminded by Lo that I was not at liberty to offer the book and she actually wants it back because she worked on the book and is thanked in the acknowledgments. Oop.

6) Accidentally eating my bff, Susan. OMG how embarassing!


Thursday, October 27, 2005

Filled up to my head

with insomnia-induced grogginess. And I am only blogging because my one fan says she checks this website often. I am throwing her a bone. Here, a bone!

-----

Today's Contrax lesson: shrink wrap, click wrap, browser wrap. AHHHHHH what the hell does that mean?

Tomorrow's feminism lesson:
Q: How do transmen fit within the framework of feminism?
A: They don't! AHHHHHH!!!!!

What am I talking about? I am appearing on a panel on lesbian feminism tomorrow. I'm moderating the part about "The Body." And all I can think is, how does lesbian feminism in the 21st century understand insomnia, as suffered by a lesbian feminist? Clearly I'm going to be AWESOME tomorrow.

Looking at Lesbian Feminism 1970-2005: Conversations Across Generations

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Bingoless

This is the third consecutive game of Scrabble where I have been bingo-free.

I am starting to worry about my synapses. Fire, little neurotransmitters, I know you're in there!

Outrage so muted I think it's perfectly silent

State v. Norman, 324 N.C. 253, 378 S.E.2d 8 (1989): 39 year-old woman suffers through 25 years of marital torment. Her husband beats her, chokes her, extinguishes cigarettes on her, forces her to prostitute herself at a truck to support them financially, verbally abuses her, forces her to eat pet food on the ground from a dog bowl, forces her to sleep on the floor, beats her, beats her, and beats her. She leaves the house one night with her grandchild--yes, at 39 she has a grandchild, which might tell you something about the circumstances of Judy and J.T. Norman--and then she gets a gun and shoots him while he's sleeping. N.C. Supreme court overturns appellate court's reversal of voluntary manslaughter conviction: she's guilty.

A note after the case in my casebook: this decision conforms to the law but not what is morally required. "These ignored facts have no place in the moral reasoning mandated by the traditional law of self-defense, yet they cause us to suffer moral disquiet with the result."

"Moral disquiet"?!! The Holocaust makes me suffer a frisson of moral disquiet as I eat Hot Pockets in front of my fifth episode of "Seinfeld" in a row. Thinking about the Killing Fields of Cambodia imbue me with a soup├žon of moral disquiet. Pinochet? A pinch of moral disquiet.

Fuck the law! And fuck critics of the law!

Seriously, when the best you can do in expressing moral outrage is to whinge distractedly about "moral disquiet," what the fuck use are you? You see my point about how law really trims away the extremes until you are just a moderate walkie-talkie, a mannequin filled with high-falutin ideas about maintaining consistency and adhering to rules and no sense of how your own weak-kneed balancing act actually plays out. I think the proper response to Norman is FUCK YOU, YOU FUCKING PIG!

It's awesomely awesome

that I now sleep about four hours a night. Why? Why? I went to bed at 11pm, getting all excited about a long night of uninterrupted sleep. Then I wake up. At 2am. Then again at 3:30. And remain awake. My head is a jackhammer. My heart is a frantic min-pin. My eyes are shuddering in their sockets. I'm attempting to read a couple pages of Contracts but all these words, they make no sense!

Turning now to Section 2-207, "a definite and seasonable expression of acceptance or a written confirmation which is sent within a reasonable time operates as an acceptance even though it states terms additional to or different from those offered or agreed upon, unless acceptance is expressly made conditional on assent to the additional or different terms."

All these words, individually, make plenty sense. But when they are strung together, some baffling beast emerges sui generis and conspires against my head. I mean, I get it, I guess. But not without some effort and lots of discomfort.

Having said that, though, law really appeals to the failed biology student in me. I like how it is an attempt to categorize and order the universe of human justice. I like how ostensibly after one understands a coherent system of law--oxymorons aside, of course--one can look at any event, let's say a windy day sweeping leaves up in Morningside Park around the Little Leaguers and Pop Warner football boys, and then divide that event into juridical categories that can be scrutinized one at a time. The liability of the Parks Department for a tree branch falling on my head; the contracts made between the manufacturers of baseballs and the cattle farmers who raise the cows for the leather on the balls; the criminality of the high school kids who give each other blowjobs at the top of the stairs, etc. I mean, the above quotation regards when a promise is made and then the promisee tries to change the terms of the promise. Following that, there are additional subsections that deal with how the promisee attempts to change the promise--whether the changes are material or whether there exists express language in the promise that forbids such changes--and then after that, there are even more specific tests for determining whether or not a change counts as "material" etc.

There's something so gratifyingly organized about law, at least law in theory and not messily and arbitrarily applied to practice. Unlike the social science I spent most of my undergraduate days studying and then scorning, law at least constructs a putatively rigorous scientific-seeming system for students to attempt to understand. I hated how other social sciences put forth these pseudo-scientific theories--here's a theory of multiple intelligences, or an equation for determining a country's expected growth rate based on the dental hygiene standards of the middle income bracket--that were just hard science flunkies disguising their wack social science ideas with outline form. I mean:

I. I guess if you look organized, then
A. What you say is to be believed
B. What you say looks more rigorous
C. What you say looks like it might be valuable
D. What you say can be funded by undergraduate tuition coffers
II. But really, all you're saying is
A. I had a cousin once
i. My theories are really based on what I learned from my cousin.
ii. My cousin also told me some interesting stories about what
people are like in the South.
B. I also read some anecdotes from David Brooks' articles.
i. I guess I can reliably make predictions about red v. blue
states based on what I have read about people who live
in those states based on David Brooks.
ii. Has David Brooks ever ventured into a "red" state?
a. It is unclear.

But no worries, critical readers. I have long since disabused myself of naive notions of "objectivity" and "rigor." As I have suggested in other blogposts, I've been appalled at not how judges obviously map their own identities onto their interpretations of the law, but rather how law attempts to claim that this subjective interpretation doesn't happen. Hello, "objective standard"? Hello, "reasonable man"? Obviously law as a scientific system is fundamentally flawed. But, I can still prize it for being more flow-chartable than, say, the anthropology of food and culture.

What I also like about how law bills itself as a comprehensive system for understanding justice is that there are such obvious and irreconciable conflicts when you put up two competing systems of law side by side. If one theory of criminality bases culpability on offending community standards, and another theory bases it on offending the Koran, and both theories are neat, perfect packages, your head explodes! It's just not possible! It's just like the fable of my people about man who claims to sell an impenetrable shield as well as an indominable spear:

In the State of Chu, there was a man who shouted loudly to praise his spear and
shield which he was offering for sale. "My shield is so strong that nothing can
go through it. And my spear is so strong that it can go through anything" he
sang loudly. A man walked by and asked: "What would happen if you use your spear
to pierce your shield?" He could not answer the question.


Okay, my analogies are stretching thin and now it's 7:15 and I should get to bed. More about law as science some other sleepless night.

Monday, October 24, 2005

CONTRAXZZZzzzz

Blogger swallowed my last post (wasn't the first thing Blogger swallowed--oooh, *SNAP*!) which was good because it was just out and out narcissism about that time that I made out with Jodie Foster and then Gayatri Spivak asked me to explain Derrida's theory of deconstruction to her and then I hit a lead-off home run in the first game of the World Series 1989, the Battle of the Bay, the last time the San Francisco Giants were good for anything, before that goddamn earthquake ruined everything.

Oops, that was lost to Cyber Space.

Better news: contractzzzzzzz reading continues. The latest case: guy makes contract with one person and then with another person for the sale of the same piece of property...tricky! The second person gets the court to declare the first sale null because they didn't sign the forms in the right order. Ooooh, *SNAP*! The world of contractzzz is fast-paced and full of action!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Where'd these tattoos come from?

Got drunnnnk and woke up with three temporary tattoos on my arms: flaming skull with an eyeball on its forehead, cartoon tiger in profile raising a pink flag on a crown, and some Matthew Barney/Cremaster butterfly-elf with vacant beetle-eyes and socks. I also have a massive hangover, huzzah! How fun it is to have almost no recollection of my subway ride home at 4 a.m.! That's when you know you're truly leeveeeng.

Friday, October 21, 2005

"BICTH"

as seen graffitied on a wall near St. Marks and 4th Avenue in Brooklyn.

Awesome Day of Sleeplessness + Not Reading Criminal Law at 1:21 a.m.

Anxious nighttime classical guitar: Francisco Tarrega etudes consoled this insomniac this morning around 4:30 when I realized that there would be no way to get more than three hours of sleep today. I barely dragged my ass out of bed and to the subway, after debating whether or not to just lay in bed and groan, only to find myself trapped at 23rd Street while a West 4th Street control room burned like a yule log. Got to Contraxxxz half an hour late anyway after walking the rest of the way through a grey sky and fog threatening drizzle, then, trying to find a place to nap in or around the law school, spent forty-five fitful and wakeful minutes lying on the ground in a study room in Furman hall wondering if my cadaverous feet could be seen through the peephole and mistaken for dead.

I either ditched out on all my plans or ditched them de facto by attending them in my zombie state. What the hell happened at that review session? My big plans to finally break through the Q-Wave force field failed again. Oh well. At 7:45 I shut the blinds, put in ear plugs AND turned on a small fan for the white noise, and muted my cell phone in preparation for 18 straight hours of sleeping, but the cell phone vibration still managed to wake me up after only an hour of sleep. That, and Boo whining in lingua caninus: "PLEEAASE I NEED TO PEE!!!! PLEEEAASEEE!!!!"

A friend who lives in an apartment called "Tofia Coppola" (because she is vegetarian and likes tofu OH MY GOD HOW FUCKING BRILLIANT) called and saved me from the social wasteland of my somnambulent, Lolo-less night. GODDAMN BITCH COME HOME! I am useless without wifey.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

High Lonesome

I think another thing contributing to my unrest is that Lolo is out of town for a radio conference. Good for her career! But very bad for me. I alternate between sniffing her shirts and eating small scoops of strawberry ice cream and thinking about the schoolwork that needs to be done.

This blog is getting boring. I think this is because I no longer have anything to say.

So I guess I'll just describe what I'm learning:

  1. Parents sue doctors, on behalf of their infant, for pain and suffering, for not telling them during woman's pregnancy that fetus had Down's Syndrome so that they could perform a timely abortion. Parents win.
  2. Chicken buyers sue chicken sellers for breach of contract, for selling "stewing" chickens of lower quality than the expected "broiling" chickens. The court decides that "chickens" refer to all kinds of chickens, from foul fowl to baste-able breasts, and spurns chicken buyer.
  3. Menial laborer who drives drug dealors to airport but does nothing illegal himself is convicted of conspiracy to import 100,000lb of marijuana.
  4. Man sues Pepsi for advertising that one can acquire a Harrier Jet by accumulating 7,000,000 Pepsi Points but not delivering jet when presented with 7,000,000 Pepsi Points. Man loses; court rules that Pepsi's offer was obviously in jest, a "piece of puffery."
  5. Irish and Canadian parents of children born with birth defects as a result of American drug cannot sue the pharmaceutical company in an American court.
  6. For the purposes of diversity jurisdiction, domicile (some residence with intent to remain) establishes citizenship.

Look at what I paid $19,732 for!

Mouse in the House

Instead of slogging through Contractz (with a "z" it is hipper, with a "z" it is stronger) for the Nth interminable hour, I've decided to make the fight against hairy grey vermin--no, not Paul Wolfowitz!



--a full out war. I've laid and baited the glue traps, covered the stove with bowls so that Paul Wolfowitz cannot crawl through the gas vents, and used Marty Feldstein's "Principles of Economics" to block the avenues that Paul Wolfowitz scurries along. (The best use of that book, besides that one time we ran out of toilet paper...)

Anyway, if any Paul Ws are caught, I will duly kill them with a swift but merciful snapping of the neck. They will go the way of the other rodents. I feel maniacal writing it but I still know that it's better than to leave them squeaking and gasping sad deaths of dehydration and asphyxiation.

In other news, school perked up briefly. Don't get me wrong--the work has always been interesting and I'm luxuriating in student lifestyle, it's just that I feel like a three-headed alien with no feet, fifty cumbersome hands, and halitosis when I spend time around law students. So today there was some muted talk of mutiny, or at least squeaking wheels getting grease. I realized that my alienation, mild though it has managed to remain, is shared by other people. And these people are nice people, and they seem not to be buying into that whole horrible acculturation/assimilation that happens to law students--why is it that so many law students are risk-adverse middle-of-the-roaders who are worried about sending the right message and covering their asses? When I learned that the biggest protest of the year is carefully marketed and branded and messaged by the administration--what the fuck, Outlaw?

Anyway, less polemic, more pole dancing. Sorry for the Righteousness.




Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Deontological+

I must be releasing ova like crazy because I'm looking at people on the subway in a way that I don't usually look at them. Spent the day in a post-insomniac daze, three hours of rest after a night of hand-wringing worry about the state of my social life. Why is it so hard not to feel like an alien? My class laughs about the prospect of eating from the trash. Everyone laughs. I cringe--what's wrong with food from the trash?--and am swept along the uneasy laughter tide. But today I spoke to some nice folks, and I'm feeling a little better.

Then there's the flip side of wanting to see everybody naked, not because the sex is gratifying but because the intimacy is humbling. Then that goes away and I'm just angry ant mad at The Way Things Were.

Not making much sense but I'm having trouble keeping my eyelids open. My newest favorite food is not "Nerds on a Rope" but "Nerds Rope." Laura pointed out that the former would sort of be like CoreyCide, her imagined holocaust of men named Corey--Feldman and Haim first and foremost--which occurred, one surmises, in the early 1990s.

A. Carol O.

AO, you are currently my favorite person on the planet. Who else would say "Happy birthday and FUCK YOU"? Don't worry, we shall drag our slovenly bodies around Central Park soon. Meanwhile, I am working on a version of "Firefly." You will be Tony Bennett and I will be Kermit the Frog and we will record a duet that will be posted on your graduate-nerd blog.

Also, I am renaming this blog PYGBYNS just for you.

Anyway, come over to my apartment and load up your new zombie machine with my The Clash mp3s so you don't have to listen to Grieg or Emmilou Harris or whoever the fuck it is you listen to while you carom around the park. Capisci?

Update: Sorry to expose your secrets to the paparazzi. More discretion next time. You are still my favorite person on the planet, but I think this is because I'm pretty sure I'm ovulating right now.

POACHING, 78 points

Bingoes abound. The Scrabble tournament continues.

I'm struggling to find people at the law school who share my aesthetic and political sensibilities. Now I have raised the bar to a single standard: people who do not use deodorant. Law students who do not use deodorant. I WANT TO MEET YOU.

What the fuck is wrong with people?

Also, people who tell stories about themselves, let's say stories about traveling in foreign countries, that aren't self-aggrandizing survivors' fictions but are honest stories about being puked upon or unable to communicate without a Lonely Planet phrasebook. Or people who ask questions. I WANT TO MEET YOU.

But especially people who don't subscribe to that horrible habit of applying overwhelmingly pungent carcinogens to their shorn underarm bristles--I WANT TO MEET YOU.

Monday, October 17, 2005

It's Hard to be a Black Dog on a Hot Day

Fortune cookie messages from an Authentic Chinee:
  1. People who change their names after a certain age ought not to be trusted.
  2. Poisoned poisson mitigates against the effects of aging.
  3. "Galaxy" comes from the Latin word "galaxias," or something like that, for "milky." Why? Well, "Milky Way," of course! Etymological connections may be the only stars studding the dark, dark sky of life after 25.
  4. One must appreciate one's girlfriend/life partner when said girlfriend stays up until the dark, dark hours of the Manhattan night with you describing to you what a Drake's "Funny Bone" pre-fab cake looks and tastes like. (E.g., Q: "Is it leavened?" A: "It's cake! What, you think it's a matzoh? I forgot to tell you, it's a chocolate matzoh! Jesus!" Q: "Must be a Philly thing.")
  5. If one plays "RETARDED" in Scrabble for a bingo for 97 points, one is allowed to celebrate with a Tastykake Kandy Kake.
  6. White hats unflatteringly flatten one's hair.

More to come, from Manfucius.

(Note to the classmate with whom I had a lovely pizza lunch a month ago. Please, please, please. Do not say "Confucius saaaay..." in your "Chinese" accent anymore. I love you, but your accent sucks and it makes me want to remove your teeth one at a time with a ball-peen hammer.)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Law-law-land

Shana tovah, bless those handsome Jews for granting me a day of reprieve from Contracts reading. I'm sitting at home cowering from the rain. My last pair of dry pants joined all my other pants on the drying rack today after the morning's extended play session with Boo, a muddy dog run, a deflated white basketball (Bunnicula?), and a nor'easter called "3.74 inches of rain with flooding expected late afternoon." I now find myself in the unenviable position of deciding whether to stay indoors all day or wearing tight, tapered, light-colored blue jeans and my Michael Bolton t-shirt, my only remaining dry and marginally clean shirt, and my white heel-less pumps



to go about my daily business.

Just kidding! I only hope and pray to one day own this outfit. I do not own this outfit. I'm slouching pantsless at my kitchen table, surrounded by cut up pieces of a civil procedure textbook, allowing crumbs to fall onto my stomach, trying to figure out how to make myself feel even more attractive than I feel right now.

I started off this post imaging I would write intelligent things about the way institutions institutionalize people, even supposedly liberal or left-leaning institutions, toward median values, and how my specific institution, a law school, especially values following rules, talking pretty, talking down, deferring to hierarchy, deferring to tradition, honoring honors, and looking polished. I think the secret to law school is talking forcefully and confidently about whatever you're talking about, despite or perhaps because you have no idea what you're really saying, whether that be the unconstitutionality of prejudgment seizures of property or what pie slice of the world you hope to conquer and sublimate after graduation.

A friend likes to say that after a certain point, people start winning awards for having won awards. You're selected for accolades because people see that you're previously decorated and therefore assume you are worthwhile of more accolades. This is frighteningly true, or at least in the cloistered world of prestige-hunger in which I begrudgingly but consistently live. I'm not sure it relates to anything I was talking about before, but it doesn't matter because I'm saying it forcefully and confidentally.

There's also some crap I'd like to write about the guy I heard on the radio a month ago when I was in Philly. On a show about Hurricane Katrina, a guy calling in from Georgia first sputters about how "Mayor Nagin, all those, the black people, they--from cradle to grave, all they want--public assistance" and then says, "How can you say [the unconscionably poor job the federal government did in responding to the hurricane was] racist? Did Bush say, Oh, they're black, I don't like them so I won't help. No!" and triumphantly declares the end of racism. I heard this snippet of conversation and then my cynicism overwhelmed me and I turned the radio off. Racism isn't racism unless there's a guy with a white sheet? Racism isn't racism when 99% of the faces you saw huddled in the Superdome were black, it's just coincidence?

Bob Herbert recently quoted Lee Atwater (who was the ur-Karl Rove, until an early brain tumor made first penitent, then dead) in a column on Bill Bennett this week, as saying:

You start out in 1954 by saying, 'Nigger, nigger, nigger.' By 1968 you can't say 'nigger' - that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.

And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me - because obviously sitting around saying, 'We want to cut this,' is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than 'Nigger, nigger.'

I think the common thread here is that once naked racism is abolished de jure, people congratulate themselves for abolishing racism and then return to the same de facto racism that persists in their lives. Once we have the Civil Rights Act, all other suspicious school segregations, abrogations of voting rights, disproportionate applications of capital punishment, omissions in urban planning and transportation routes--all of that is just coincidental! This attitude is reflected nowhere better than the Supreme Court's 1987 decision in McCleskey v. Kemp, where the court upholds the constitutionality of the death penalty even though it is applied way more to black people killing white people than white people killing black people:

At most, the Baldus study indicates a discrepancy that appears to correlate with race. Apparent disparities in sentencing are an inevitable part of our criminal justice system. The discrepancy indicated by the Baldus study is "a far cry from the major systemic defects identified in Furman." As this Court has recognized, any mode for determining guilt or punishment "has its weaknesses and the potential for misuse." Specifically, "there can be `no perfect procedure for deciding in which cases governmental authority should be used to impose death.'" Where the discretion that is fundamental to our criminal process is involved, we decline to assume that what is unexplained is invidious.

Well, at least the Court has not yet criminalized flag-burning.

Off to the law books now! said the law drone.