Thursday, January 29, 2009

Blog Ideas I Should Not Pursue

No, there is no such thing as Dating a Con Law Professor Anonymous (DACLPA.) The Privileges or Immunities Clause is already dead, and besides a name like that wouldn't make a good acronym.

Monday, January 26, 2009

"Retrievers Tepidly for McCain Because We Are Suspicious of Third Party Potential To Transform American Politics" wouldn't really fit on a banner.

Banner, spotted hanging from a house at 16th and Corcoran: "Labradoodles for Obama."

Barbri was more vexing than usual. Most of the class found Erwin Chemerinsky's chosen pace obnoxiously slow. I agree, but I find him even more annoying on ideological grounds. That is, I suppose he was trying to be centrist and moderate. That only hit home how far away my own views are from the received wisdom predominating in most American law schools.

Relatedly, every time that Chemerinsky got to a decision I found particularly objectionable -- Wickard, Raich, etc. -- I found myself imagining that I might have landed in an alternate universe, one in which the courts might have actually have enforced the Commerce Clause. Thus there were all these weird thrilling pregnant pauses just before he got to the offensive holdings. I have found myself doing the same thing many times before when reading histories of the Russian Revolution. Do other people, I wonder?

I had to listen to a painfully stupid motivational lecture last week. The speaker recommended, among other career planning tactics, that one draft a "personal mission statement" and offered up hers as an example, which involved "advancing liberty in a uniquely Christian way." It occurred to me tonight that mine ought to be "overturning Wickard v. Filburn in a uniquely atheist way." Of course, I'd much rather see Wickard v. Filburn overturned in a uniquely Christian or Jewish or Muslim way than stay on the books. But seeing it overturned in a uniquely atheist way would rank still higher on my hierarchy of preferences.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

happiness is a warm gun (bang bang, shoot shoot)

I admit typing the title with some trepidation. It's fashionable to be scared of Internet-conveyed threats of violence these days.

Nonetheless, no need to fear your humble correspondent. (No, not even if you're one of my ex-boyfriends. Really.) Yes, none other than she headed out shooting in the greater D.C. suburbs this weekend. I'd been talked into it by a friend of a friend who's a Second Amendment enthusiast. Quite a few of them run in my circles. I do like exercising my constitutional rights and all, and since I'm pretty law-abiding, I don't get to trot out amendments four through six much. But two I can deal with.

Was it like what I expected? Yes and not at all. First, the crowd was different. I'd imagined more flannel-shirted, grizzled truck driver types in NASCAR hats. I did not expect as many well-bred D.C. surburbanite types in North Face fleeces and Uggs who apparently just wanted to try shooting as a lark. Second, it's easier to aim that I expected. My friend taught us on a Glock 19, 9 mm, equipped with a laser pointed that makes it much easier to aim at a target. I'd been told also that, because of my delicate size, I should expect to almost fall over because of the kick. Said kick was definitely weaker than expected.

Yet shooting is still oddly intoxicating. There's an enormous sense of power that came flooding through my veins the first time I actually fired off a bullet. I felt strangely punch drunk and started laughing uncontrollably, much to my friends' puzzlement. "She's a girl who's never fired a gun before; it's her God-given right," I heard one reprimand the others. I also felt relief coursing through me, too; I came by my risk aversion early, as a much loved only daughter whose mother was reluctant to let her chop vegetables with a kitchen knife before the age of 16. Yet I managed to fire a Glock and not accidentally kill myself or anyone else! I started wondering, afterwards, about the ways in which male pursuits -- holding a powerful, dangerous weapons and seeing it turn out okay -- prepare boys to take risks in their careers later. Perhaps there is something to the Second Amendment Sisters' vision of feminism after all.

I had a nice cold beer with Boy afterwards at O'Sullivan's in Arlington. I felt very masculine sipping one after an afternoon of target shooting. Memo to Novans: their cheeseburgers are underwhelming, despite the near-perfect Irish dive bar ambience.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Words Not to Live By

At the Secular Right blog, a discussion of what's offensive about the phrase "Judeo-Christian." It echoes points I raised on my old blog about a year ago.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


About 90% of the Barack gear actually peddled on the streets of D.C. is being purchased by Republicans to give as joke gifts to other Republicans. 

See, e.g., the "Everything Obama" store that sprang up recently in a basement at 15th and U. I stumbled on this establishment this morning on the way to brunch. Want a black baseball hat that says "OBAMA" on it in silver sequins? It's yours for $30. A bright yellow T-shirt with a photo-applique of a grinning Michelle that says "She's Our First Lady Now?" It's yours for $15. 

Also, I missed this phenomenon, but there were "Obama cookies" being sold outside my office at 12th and F on Wednesday for $2 apiece. I overheard a co-worker mention that the guy on the cookies doesn't even look much like Obama, but rather like "any generic black guy in a suit." I'm reminded of the Office episode in which Kelly crowed that her black boyfriend looked "just like Barack Obama!", when in fact he looks nothing like our President elect. But I digress.

But, really, are there actual Dems somewhere who think that this stuff is tasteful? Who would actually spend that kind of money for this stuff?

Also, I imagine this stuff is probably made in sweatshops in the Third World. By child labor, i.e. by people for whom making this stuff is their best option. I acknowledge, however, that my idiosyncratic minority views on "social justice" are a discussion for another day.

Friday, January 16, 2009

all your diction, dripping with disdain

Barbri ended early tonight, which seemed fortuitous. That is, it would have been, but none of the S buses were showing up to the McPherson Square metro. And my hands were freezing despite my lovely leather gloves; I swear, I have the weakest extremities. So I figured I'd shell out the $8 or so for a cab for the second leg of my nightly commute. 

Except that an ad for the cab driver's church had just played on the radio, and he asked me if I were born again. To which I replied that I was in fact not. I briefly considered responding that I was a lapsed, which is the very opposite of a born-again Christian. Of course, I am not a lapsed Jew. My beloved boyfriend is a lapsed Jew and thus the very opposite of a born again Christian. But, notwithstanding the rampant confusion within our intellectual movement, we are in fact separate people.

I went with, "No, I am not."

The driver then asked me if I wanted to go to heaven. Hitchens's witticism about the conventional Christian conception of heaven reminding him of North Korea sprang to mind. As did Phillip Pullman's depiction in the Dark Materials trilogy of the afterlife as a concentration camp. I would much prefer Pullman's alternate vision of dissolving into insensate particles, and so I went with, "No."

He appeared shocked and asked if I knew of what I spoke. I've read a bit on the subject. 

 I wondered if I ought to argue in the name of advancing the atheist movement. But I would have felt a bit like a 250 lb. gorilla beating up a pygmy marmoset: this offends fundamental notions of fair play and substantive justice. So I did not. I had my iPod with me and could pretend to find the Mountain Goats lyrics more intellectually engaging than I normally do. I have read essays claiming that iPods increase alienation and anomie by distracting us from our immediate environments. To which I respond that my immediate environment in D.C. often causes alienation and anomie, thank you very much, and I need a shot in the ear of Wilco to regain equanimity.

He said "God bless you" when I finally got back to my building. I thought of replying "While we're engaging in harmless ceremonial deism, you too." But I did not.