Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ailing Willow

Alas, poor Willow. She'd made a safe trip with my husband up to see his family in Massachusetts for a few days. I'd come back to D.C. to hopefully get some work done (and avoid burning up scarce vacation days in anticipation of a trip to ancestral homelands of Ukraine and Russia this summer) and then join the Pnins over the weekend. She did well on her first day, even getting along better than expected with the Pnin family cocker spaniel (see above.) I was even hoping that she'd connect with some of the local academics regarding her recent paper, "Coase on Toast?: An Empirical Investigation into Asymmetric Bargaining at the Breakfast Table," possibly putting herself on tenure track in the econ department at MIT. But this has not transpired so far. She swallowed a sock around 11:30 this morning and had to be whisked off to the local animal hospital. The vet was able to get her to throw up Sock #1, but discovered a Sock #2 lurking in her gut. Now she has to stay overnight in the hopes that she'll pass Sock #2. If she doesn't, surgery awaits. Theists, please summon up thy superpowers on Miss Willow's behalf. Meanwhile, I'll just stare at the floor and remind myself over and over to try to be confident in modern medicine.

UPDATE: Young Willow has passed Sock #2 and returned home without needing surgery. She has more or less gotten back to her frisky and energetic ways. But all socks will now be under lock and key -- perhaps even the lockbox that Al Gore mentioned in his 2000 presidential campaign, as Pnin puts it...

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Shinto Willow

Each December, any blended family must inevitably confront the question, "In what religious tradition will we raise our golden retriever?" So first, we exposed Willow to her Jewish side by letting her watch us light the tiny $10 menorah from Target. She seemed intrigued enough that she avoided jumping up on the kitchen table to like it. This was followed by the eating of the Hanukkah gelt, which we'd actually purchased for the presidential candidate themed holiday party to serve as the Ron Paul appetizer (y'know, because of his love of the gold standard.) Associating paleo-ish Ron Paul with Jewish tradition perhaps felt not quite right, but Willow seemed more miffed that we couldn't share any of our chocolate with her.

Then she traveled north to visit her Archer grand-owners for a celebration of Christmas. This was all somehow so exciting -- tree! pine needles from tree to put into her mouth! terrifying plastic Santa Clau on neighbors' lawn to bark at! stacks of presents around it which can double as a homemade golden retriever agility course! -- that she managed to inflict diarrhea on herself. But she does approve of the numerous special dog cookies that she received from friends and relatives and the new Kong Wobble that she got as a present. If she were, like the heroine of a popular young adult novel, forced to try to pick one religion for herself, I don't know which one she would settle on.

Fortunately, however, Willow is nothing if not an outside-the-box thinker. (Though she hastens to add that she does sometimes like to stick her head into empty J. Crew boxes and sniff around in them. In fact, if you have some, feel free to send them her way.) And so she has apparently settled on... Shinto ancestor worship... which slights neither of us! Yes, she has discovered a pillow on my parents' couch with a picture of one of her distant ancestors, Am. Can. Bda. Ch. Cummings' Gold-Rush Charlie. She is quite content to stare at it for hours on end while she's relaxing on the sofa. And thus our clever girl splits the difference between her two divergent religious backgrounds and offends neither of her humans!

Friday, December 23, 2011

My Christmas gift to you is a link to the Wikipedia entry for "revealed preference."

Increasingly, I'm convinced that news articles recommending giving gifts that the recipient doesn't actually want are not actually about providing recommendations that are supposed to be useful, but instead a literary device that enables the author to mount her soapbox on behalf of a familiar cause without her plea sounding tired and shopworn. Ignoring the gimmick aspect of the genre would be akin to my husband's refusing pick up Sam Harris's Letter to a Christian Nation because he is Jewish and it is rude to read letters addressed to other people. Or encouraging my sort-of boss to stop writing "Questions for the President" blog posts because the President never seems to answer his questions,  without realizing that the "question" device is a clever way of framing his commentary on Obama's policies.

Take, for example, the most extreme and outrageous entrant into the genre that I have yet discovered -- ""As a Christmas Gift, Tell Your Friends and Relatives That They Are Overweight." No sane person can possibly think that this is intended to be real gift-giving advice. Please, please, as my husband points out in a somewhat different context, while we can perhaps easily judge the health risks associated with a friend's being overweight, it's much harder for us to figure out how much pleasure the other person gets from indulging in her bad habits. This would counsel for leaving our friends to their own devices and not sticking our nose into others' private business. Fortunately, most of us do this already.

That said, the genre's feeling pretty tired to me already. I'm starting to prefer my "here's why you should support my pet cause" sermons straight up, rather than watered down with "here's how this is relevant to the Christmas season" gambit. I'm in luck then that it's December 23. But I hope that this particular form of gimmickry gets retired next year, seeing how not-fresh and not-original it feels. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Notes on fashion

How to explain the periodic appearance of long-sleeved sheer T-shirts in the world? Yes, they look fine when one buys a "layering piece" to put underneath it, e.g. a basic white tank top. But basic white tank tops are also useful when paired with articles of clothing other than the aforementioned sheer T-shirt. So, inevitably, there will be days when one is tempted to wear the sheer T-shirt by its lonesome but realizes that there are no suitable clean layering pieces in the drawer. Long-sleeved T-shirts of fabric of normal thickness notably don't have this drawback. Given that, why does anyone persist in buying the sheer kind? It's doubly annoying to number among the unsuspecting who think "Ah ha! Cute shirt on sale!" and then realize, no, that its sheerness makes it vastly limited for wear and un-buyable.  Gah.

Also: how am I to understand the tall boots worn over jeans or leggings trend? It seems aesthetically appealing enough. It conjures up nice images of people in equestrian dress. I can support that. But where should I be looking for boots that are suitable for this purpose? The good ones all run expensive, and I don't want to sink a lot of money into some I'm unlikely to wear regularly. And I fear cheap ones would just be uncomfortable in all the wrong ways. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Yes and no to Alex Tabarrok's Atlantic essay on immigration

Alex Tabarrok has an interesting short essay up at The Atlantic in which he argues for increasing the number of high-skilled immigrants who get to stay. He calls it the "no brainer" of the year. He puts it the following way:

Behind Door #1 are people of extraordinary ability: scientists, artists, educators, business people and athletes. Behind Door #2 stand a random assortment of people. Which door should the United States open?

In 2010, the United States more often chose Door #2, setting aside about 40,000 visas for people of extraordinary ability and 55,000 for people randomly chosen by lottery.

To which I say: yes and no. Yes to increasing legal immigration for high-skilled immigrants, for all of the reasons that Tabarrok sets forth in the piece. But I'm less confident that the dichotomy set up in the first paragraph is the best way to frame the issue generally. It's not obvious to me that the national economy's best served by creating an immigration policy that focuses on getting the most intellectually talented people possible, for the reasons that Tabarrok's GMU colleague and fellow econ blogger sketches out rather colorfully in in part of a blog post that is on the whole about quite a different topic:

Suppose we have an isolated society in which everyone is a genius. Let's call them the Brains. Who takes out the garbage? A Brain, obviously. Who does the farming? Again, Brains.

Now what happens if the geniuses come into contact with a society where everyone is of average intelligence at best? Let's call them the Brawns. If the Brains allow the Brawns to join their society, the average genetic quality of the Brains' society plummets. But everyone is better off as a result! Now the Brains can specialize in jobs that require high intelligence, and the Brawns can take over the menial labor. Total production goes up.

This is an example of what economists call the Law of Comparative Advantage. Trade between two people or groups increases total production even if one person or group is worse at everything. Suppose, for example, that Brains can make 5 Computer Programs or 10 Bushels of Wheat per day, and Brawns can make .1 Computer Programs or 5 Bushels of Wheat per day.

Computer Programs Bushets of Wheat
Brains 5 10
Brawns .1 5
Brains and Brawns can still trade to mutual benefit: Just have one Brain switch from farming to programming (+5 Programs, -10 Bushels of Wheat), and three Brawns switch from programming to farming (-.3 Programs, +15 Bushels of Wheat), and total production rises by 4.7 Programs and 5 Bushels of Wheat.

So I'm not convinced that the United States wouldn't be made better off by letting in additional people who are more like Bryan's imaginary Brawns than his imaginary Brains. Nor am I sure that any government central planner could come up with the right formula to figure out the optimal number of Brains and Brawns to whom to grant visas. It's probably much better to just let as many Brainws and Brawns who think that they can find work to come (so long as neither Brawns nor Brains are terrorists, spies, or have other such problematic skeletons in their closets that would make them obviously poor candidates for eventual citizenship.)

Perhaps Tabarrok thinks that increasing the number of high-skilled immigrants is a more politically feasible reform to current immigration policy than one that would increase legal immigration more generally. If so, fine. But his first two paragraph are still a less than helpful way of framing the issue.


I had a misadventure last night whereby a spammer got into the Gmail account I have under my maiden name (i.e. the non-pseudonym equvialent of isabel.archer@gmail, rather than the non-pseudonym equivalent of isabel.pnin@gmail, which is what I've been using for the better part of the last year anyway). It seemed that the spammer had also deleted To My Parents, Ayn Rand, and God (or perhaps Google did based on the spammer's Terms of Service violation.) But, miraculously, my three years' worth of rambling about baking, meritocracy, and libertarianism seems to live: o, atheist libertarian holiday miracle! Assuming this test works, expect more substantive blogging to resume shortly.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Cards welcome

So I am looming on the verge of old age. Perhaps oddly, having read John Derbyshire's infamous musings on women ceasing to be attractive at the age of 20 and the PUA guys' oeuvre makes these last few days of my 20s seem less worth clinging to. Somewhere, there will be always be haters, as the kids say. Yet if I ever did wish to succumb to age-based self-loathing, I guess I can be drawn back from the brink based based on misadventures in being carded, which still occur frequently despite the whole tottering on the brink of third decade of life thing. Yes, I'm used to occasionally awkwardly rooting around in my purse before entering crowded bars in Adams-Morgan or having to produce ID on demand when buying wine at grocery stores. The Wegmans near my parents in Pennsylvania did once card 67-year-old Papa Archer, whom no reasonable person would mistake for a 20-year-old. But on the other hand, there are the places that don't routinely card that nonetheless ask me to fork over ID. Are there really lots of underage types ordering sangria at Jaleo,or Pinot Grigio with their organic pizza at Coppi's? Did they really need to ask me for ID?

But the upside of old age is that it presents a wonderful opportunity to throw a combined birthday/holiday party for oneself. This year, Pnin and I had a 2011-year-in-review theme, with dishes paying tribute to each of the major presidential candidates. More pictures and recipes will follow, but in the meantime, here is a recipe for Hermain Cain 9-9-9 cookies, courtesy of Cooks Illustrated:


Butter Cookie Dough

2 1/2cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)
3/4cup superfine sugar (5 1/2 ounces) (see note)
1/4teaspoon table salt
16tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), cut into sixteen 1/2-inch pieces, at cool room temperature (about 65 degrees)
2teaspoons vanilla extract
2tablespoons cream cheese , at room temperature


1tablespoon cream cheese , at room temperature
3tablespoons milk
1 1/2cups confectioners' sugar (6 ounces)


1. FOR THE COOKIES: In bowl of standing mixer fitted with flat beater, mix flour, sugar, and salt on low speed until combined, about 5 seconds. With mixer running on low, add butter 1 piece at a time; continue to mix until mixture looks crumbly and slightly wet, about 1 minute longer. Add vanilla and cream cheese and mix on low until dough just begins to form large clumps, about 30 seconds.

2. Remove bowl from mixer; knead dough by hand in bowl for 2 to 3 turns to form large cohesive mass. Turn out dough onto countertop; divide in half, pat into two 4-inch disks, wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate until they begin to firm up, 20 to 30 minutes. (Can be refrigerated up to 3 days or frozen up to 2 weeks; defrost in refrigerator before using.)

3. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out 1 dough disk to even 1/8-inch thickness between 2 large sheets parchment paper; slide rolled dough on parchment onto baking sheet and chill until firm, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, repeat with second disk.

4. Working with first portion of rolled dough, cut into desired shapes using cookie cutter(s) and place shapes on parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing them about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake until light golden brown, about 10 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking time. Repeat with second portion of rolled dough. (Dough scraps can be patted together, chilled, and re-rolled once.) Cool cookies on wire rack to room temperature.

5. FOR THE GLAZE: Whisk cream cheese and 2 tablespoons milk in medium bowl until combined and no lumps remain. Whisk in confectioners' sugar until smooth, adding remaining milk as needed until glaze is thin enough to spread easily. Drizzle or spread scant teaspoon glaze with back of spoon onto each cooled cookie, as desired.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Eating and drinking in and about Washington, D.C.

1. No link because I don't think they have an actual website, but the empanadas* cart at the Downtown Holiday Fair thing at 9th and G is very meh. They're not awful, per se, but they're not good either. The dough is like weirdly too thick or something. Although I am admittedly spoiled by visits to Chile and Argentina, the empanadas I made based on a Cooks Illustrated recipe were better, and that without masa harina. So, hrumph.

2. On a better note: although apparently this was already amply written about elsewhere, Meatballs is actually pretty good. Or, at least, the polenta is nice and creamy, and the meatballs with marinara sauce are warm and lovely and filling on a cold day. It is apparently supposed to be a sort of Italian-influenced version of Chipotle, and both share the vice of serving only giant portions that are hopelessly more than a 5'0 woman should ever try to consume in one sitting. Also, don't naively ask for a bottle of water without thinking about it. That is, they offer only expensive Italian bottled water that can only be opened with a bottle opener. Luckily, there is a bottle opener in my office's kitchen, but I found it only after some annoying rummaging.

3. There is a newish libertarian non-profit in town called Keep Food Legal that had a fun fundraiser on Saturday night. The El Chilango tacos served are yummy; recommended.

4. This is an interesting and thoughtful post about culture, and I agree with the general point about the subtle ways in which cultures work. But I'm a little bit surprised by the meal example. That is, I think I've routinely observed plenty of upper-middle-class types eagerly downing everything on their plates at dinner. My biggest eater friend is a lawyer's son grown up to be a Jesuit priest. He's been running marathons regularly since he and I first met in college, and he apparently needs the thousands of extra calories to keep himself powered up. I've noticed other people who love upper-middle-class-ish sports eat with the same voracity, although perhaps not quite on the same scale.

There's also the phenomenon of the "Om om om, must devour as much free food at cocktail reception as possible!" instinct, which I confess I haven't fully grown out of myself. But in my view, that's an age and lifestyle thing -- a relic of being a young person from a relatively comfortable background growing up and with plenty of cultural capital, but temporarily in a stage of their lives where cash for groceries and dining out is relatively tight. Many of my friends who went through a similar law/grad student/intern stage of life seem to have the same instinct.

So, blog friends, is there a class signal here that I should be noticing? If I'm trying to impress bigwigs, should I be making a point of politely and delicately not finishing dinners?

* No tilde because I can't figure out how to do this on this computer; sorry, hispanophone friends!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

amen, brother

Clearly the point of the infamous Romney bet was that this wasn't supposed to be a trivial amount of money; c.f. the kids on the playground at the nearby elementary school who like to say things like "I'll bet you a million dollars that...." None of them have one million dollars; many of their parents probably don't even have a million dollars. (It's Arlington, so the number of their parents that do is probably non-trivial.) Still, the point is that they are so sure they're right that they're happy to frame the bet as one that cannot possibly be lost. Robin Hanson, however, harrumphs further (and convincingly) about what is really going on here:

The idea that a president candidate couldn't afford a $10,000 bet is crazy, as is the idea that ordinary folks don’t know this fact. They pay for TV commercials, which cost lots more than $10,000. They fly all around the nation in planes, which gets expensive.

So clearly we have moved high up into belief meta-levels here. “Yes, most people know Romney can afford $10,000, but some aren’t sure that most others know this, and so this shows that Romney doesn’t know about such folks.” Or “It is rude to point out that you are rich, even when everyone knows you are rich. Yes wearing nice suits shows he’s rich, but not wearing suits is socially unacceptable. Offering smaller bets is acceptable, however, so offering a big bet could be interpreted as bragging about wealth. Not that I’d interpret it that way, but someone might, and this shows Romney doesn’t realize that.”

Geez it must be a pain to be a presidential candidate. This all shows how much we care about social savvy and signaling in such folks. We don’t much care if they understand supply and demand, but they damn well better know who might try hard to be offended by what.

Yep, that's pretty much it.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Septime Webre production of The Nutcracker

So I admit that there is part of me that shuddered when, after a Gilt City offer for cheap Nutcracker tickets landed in my inbox, I read that said production was very American. I am more than happy to claim the mantle of "libertarian, not conservative" when it comes to regulation of sex and speech. But when it comes to grammar and art, suddenly I start waxing traditionalist. There isn't really a right-wing tribe for aesthetes who happen to be hard-core free marketers, but if there were, I might prefer to fly their banner in lieu of "libertarian."

Anywho. All this is long prelude to way of saying that, despite the annoying advertisements about re-interpretation, the Septime Webre production of The Nutcracker is actually pretty likeable. First of all, at least the production has the good graces to stay in the right century; the children's costumes at the initial Christmas party scene are suitably Victorian. Mercifully, most of the rest of the Americanizing touches -- such as the rats cast as American soldiers rising up against King George, or the cherry blossoms scene -- manage not to feel too contrived.

Pnin said to me afterwards that it felt less lavish than a version of the Nutcracker that he'd seen growing up. And, indeed, this is a ballet that's meant to be produced on a grand scale; trying to stage it on a shoestring feels deeply wrong. Perhaps it's because I'm used to much cheaper theater, but I didn't notice it. Ultimately, recommended.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

"The real reason not to sleep with your professor"

History professor Hugo Schwyzer offers up one at Jezebel:

I don't have a problem with students asking out their former instructor, provided the grades have been turned in. But I try to warn them that the reality of an actual relationship is likely to be disappointing. Students fall in love with a fantasy; the professor who seems so cool and commanding in the lecture hall is rarely so charismatic over dinner — or as mind-blowing in bed as one might have fantasized. I've seen a number of student-teacher relationships unfold in which a woman ends up dumping her former instructor in near-disgust; the gap between what she thought he was and what he turned out to be was too much to bear. That can be shattering and disillusioning for everyone involved.

Two decades in the classroom have taught me that when it comes to students and teachers, we don't get crushes on people whom we want sexually as often as we get crushes on people whom we want to be like. Yes, some crushes are purely physical. But more are what I'd call aspirational: the objects of the crush represent something students want for themselves. College is an uncertain time; good teachers tend to embody passion and certainty, two things students desperately want. And when they're crushing on a prof, young people are usually confusing the messenger with the message. As I learned the hard way many years ago, rather than encourage the crush to feed our egos, our job as professors is to turn that intensity back on to our students, encouraging them to use their newfound enthusiasm and let it take them to all sorts of wonderful places. Places other, of course, than their professors' bedrooms.

This is all absolutely true, but the principle extends beyond the classroom, no? That is, I am hard-pressed to think of infatuations that I've felt that weren't aspirational, that weren't deeply about something other than the crush that I wanted for myself. And if one were to follow Schwyzer's advice literally, then one would probably wind up never dating anyone at all. I suppose that nuns have long life expectancies and all, but for the rest of us, it's often worth it to assume the risk. I suppose professors and students might be a special category where this sort of problem is particularly likely to be acute, but that's somewhat different from saying that actually dating all aspirational crushes should be avoided, which seems to be what Schwyzer's saying here.

Friday, December 9, 2011

From the archives

Back when I was still blogging at LiveJournal, I put up two posts offering cautious praise for Newt Gingrich, based on a long talk I heard him give at AEI in 2006. Looking back at the two posts, they are somewhat more cautiously laudatory than I remembered (or perhaps more cautiously laudatory than some things I might have said then in casual conversation with my then-boyfriend or other friends.) This is good, because otherwise, I might have to pen some sort of "Things I Used To Think That Turned Out To Be Wrong" after reading various critiques of Gingrich's rise in the 2012 Republican nomination polls that I have found persuasive. Of course, I could perhaps devote an entire blog devoted to apologizing for things about which I was wrong in 2006, but somehow I doubt that that would make for especially interesting reading. All to the better that I get to skip the self-abnegation routine...

Back to Newt. At a basically personal level, for the reasons that I spelled out in those old posts, I kind of like the guy. He passes the proverbial "Would you want to grab a drink with him?" test that pundits are so fond of mulling over. Peggy Noonan, I think, sees the same strengths that I saw back then. But she's also right to flag the same very real weaknesses that David Bernstein and George Will did in the critiques of Newt's rise linked above. So given all that, I can't really cheer on the recent Gingrich boomlet. There's part of me that's guardedly hoping that Jon Huntsman gets his turn soon at being Anti-Romney of the Month, for most of the same reasons that my husband spells out here. Nonetheless, emphasis on the "guardedly."

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Examples of really splendid use of parentheses

"Does this mean that there is nothing that the state can do to help the poor? Two answers are possible. One (which is actually more attractive than is commonly supposed) is no."

-- Richard Epstein on forced pro bono.

Amish Willow

Young Willow has come through her spaying operation. Despite a rough night after first coming home from the surgery, she seems to be bouncing back (quite literally) and on her way to a full recovery. Unfortunately, she is required to wear a cone much of the time to prevent her from licking at her wounds. Pnin bought her a Comfy Cone from Petco, which seems to be much more comfortable for her than the more traditional rigid plastic Elizabeth collars given out by vets.*

This does, however, raise the question of what Willow's inner ethnicity is. For awhile, I thought she had to be an Ashekenazi Jew. She was an academic over-achiever at obedience class, she was so obsessed with a certain plant in our backyard that my parents took to calling her the family's other Ivy Leaguer, and then she became oddly attentive while watching a television performance of Fiddler on the Roof. But then there was her odd fit of barking at the neighbors across the street on Sunday morning because they were cutting branches off a holly bush. This newfound interest in landscape architecture caused Pnin to suggest that she might be British. But with the black Comfy Cone on, she now looks to me very much like a married Amish lady wearing her traditional bonnet.

While Willow was at Petco purchasing the Comfy Cone, some anonymous benefactor apparently purchased for her a special cookie, left it at the counter, and instructed the salesclerk to give it to Pnin. It looks so much like a beautiful piece of gingerbread that I was tempted to eat it (but did not after I saw the ingredient list.) I suppose this is another reminder that Willow is a beautiful and special girl.

*No, I am not paid to do Comfy Cone product placement here at To My Parents, Ayn Rand, and God -- although I might be interested in being a paid shill for dog products if anyone is interested....

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Affirmative Action For Men?

Elsewhere in my exciting non-blog existence, my commissioner and I have an article in the Federalist Society's Engage magazine titled Affirmative Action for Men? Strange Silences and Strange Bedfellows in the Public Debate Over Discrimination Against Women in Admissions. For those who prefer it, HTML version here. Pnin also offers some thoughts.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Good Shakespeare production

Because I live in a city known for its relentlessly political climate, people often fail to guess that we actually have an excellent Shakespeare theater. Pnin and I were able to see a nice matinee performance of Much Ado About Nothing on Saturday. The director made the somewhat unusual choice to set the production in 1930s Havana, Cuba. But the costumes and stage are beautiful, and since both Havana and Messina are lushly green, warm places in which to set a steamy romantic comedy, it actually works pretty well. It is almost strange seeing a play with a lavish and beautiful set, in contrast to various Improving productions pulled off on a shoestring, but it is of course nonetheless lovely.

Friday, December 2, 2011

On helping me buy things

1. For high school graduation, my parents gave me a watch. After about four or five years, the clasp started to go and never quite worked right since, despite a few repairs. It finally snapped for good one day in 2009, and some enterprising stranger wandering down the stretch of 16th Street between Kalorama Road and V Street must have snapped it up for good. I hope only that said stranger had a small enough wrist. Anywho, rather than admit to my frugal-ish parents that this incident happened, I have been pretending that using my cell phone to tell time is really just so much easier. And most of the time, that is just as easy, but sometimes, there is part of me that misses having a nice timepiece on my wrist.

But aside from my lingering shame at losing something valuable issues, there is also the problem of my specifications regarding watches. One, there must be twelve numbers or twelve marks indicating numbers. I don't want to have to squint at the space between six and nine to figure out if it's seven or eight o'clock. Two, not digital. Three, no aesthetically ugly round mini-clocks clogging up the face of the watch ((see, e.g.) Four, none of what kids these days call bling. Five, not ridiculously overwhelming on a small-ish person. This looks gosh darn close to aesthetically y ideal, but unfortunately happens to be very much on the expensive side. So is there something suitable out there that I have missed?

2. Occasionally, fashion blogs tell me that I am supposed to like the concept of jewel-toned, printed, silky blouses to wear to work in winter. I can dig the general concept of bright color under a neutral-ish suit jacket or with dark pants. But then things get complicated. One, sleeveless examples of the genre seem to be extremely popular. Except that this largely defeats flexibility; one either has to keep a jacket or sweater on over them, even when it's slightly hot, or restrict wear to less formal days at the office (and yes, I'm well aware that in office environments sartorially more conservative than mine, sleevelessness might render them unwearable all together.) So cap sleeves or not overly long sleeves are ideal. Two, the print must not be hideous. Three, no low V-necks; this is not so much out of an abundance of conservatism as the very real problem that any given neckline will look much lower on me than on someone the same size who's 5'8 (or even on the 5'4 woman who's near the top of the normal petite height range.) All of this together seems to prevent me from buying any blouse in the category I want, although maybe I am missing some. Ideas?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

"Reassessing affirmative action on campus"

Posting this here perhaps dances too close to writing about Day Job in this space, which is something I'm normally loath to do. Nonetheless, many readers of this here space know that I'm a tremendous fan of George Will's and would not be surprised to learn that I'm elated to read him speaking well of people with whom I've worked closely. Really, if I were a golden retriever, I'd be running about in all-out "WAG TAIL! Swish boom bang CRASH (uh oh! coffee table!) but HAPPY! Swish boom TAIL JOY!" mode. But sadly, I'm not, so I'll have to content myself with more restrained and dignified nods of approbation here.