C'est un blague.

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  • Thursday, March 31, 2005

    Too funny

    This walks just the right line between truth and humor, a song called PMS Blues as sung (and written?) by feminist icon Dolly Parton.

    My favorite string of lyrics:
    But you know we can't help it
    We don't even know the cause
    But as soon as this part's over, then comes the menopause
    Oh, Lord... Oh, Lord...
    We're going to always be a heap of fun
    Like the devil taking over my body,
    Suffering, suffering, suffering
    Everybody's suffering, huh?

    But a woman had to write this song, a man would be scared to
    Lest he be called a chauvenist or just fall victim to
    Those.... PMS blues!!!
    Heh. Heh-heh.

    I wonder...

    As I sit here eating my burrito for lunch, I wonder how much lipstick the average woman ingests in a year? With each ensuing bite, I consume what I put on this morning.

    Wednesday, March 30, 2005


    Fred Toyosaburo Korematsu (1919-2005) -- known to some only by Korematsu v. US but known to the Japanese American community as a hero.

    Tuesday, March 29, 2005

    Conscious effort

    I can be a whiner sometimes... usually to myself rather than those around me, and I have a tendency to be over-critical (again, of myself rather than those around me): I'm fat; I'm lazy; I shoulda...coulda... shit, didn't.

    You get the idea.

    So, a while ago, I decided to make a conscious effort to counter this propensity towards negativity with three daily (I'd say "affirmations" if I were religious, but I'm not) acts of positivity:

    1. At least once a day, I try to give a random stranger a compliment. I am usually rewarded with a smile, and it always makes me feel better. I learned this on one particularly ugly day. I was travelling on my own in Guatemala and had had several obnoxiously negative experiences in a row and was really looking forward to leaving that city and moving -- literally and figuratively -- past it all. But I realized that the bad luck was just that -- bad luck -- and that rather than permanently associate feelings of "grrr" with that city, that I should do something to turn it around. So I did by offering a random act of kindness to a stranger. It made me feel better generally, and I felt better about my experience in that city, thus saving my memories from being marred with negativity.

    2. I always ask a friend what his "happy" thing is for the day -- forcing both of us to reflect, not on the stress or annoyances of the day, but on why it was a good day. Some days are harder than others to find our "happy things" but it's always worth the effort to reflect... and it usually serves to focus us on the positive.

    3. Whenever I get down on myself -- usually about my physical appearance (hey, I'm a chick after all) -- I have to counter my negative comments with positive ones about myself. E.g., I would volley "I'm fat" with "I have great legs" or something like that. It's my own psychological warfare on my tendency to be hypercritical of myself. I don't always remember to do this, but I'm getting better.

    I know... what a sap, eh?

    Coin toss

    Headline News: Jackson joins fight over feeding tube

    Which side do you think Jesse Jackson has taken?

    Monday, March 28, 2005

    Uniquely American

    CNN reports that, according to the Census: College-educated white women earn less than blacks, Asians

    Sounds like a headline to get the right wing all a-twitter with anxious spasms of "see, affirmative action is just political pandering for the brown vote and needs to be abolished!!" outbursts... but read on:

    Economists and sociologists suggest possible factors: the tendency of minority women, especially blacks, to more often hold more than one job or work more than 40 hours a week, and the tendency of black professional women who take time off to have a child to return to the work force sooner than others.

    So the verdict is in. We can all be grateful that at last, minority women are living the "uniquely American" dream, thanks to Bush.

    Re: Tom DeLay

    From one of the readers of Is that Legal? -- the story of Tom DeLay's personal experience with a decision regarding whether to implement extraordinary measures to keep a family member alive.

    "The situation faced by the congressman's family was entirely different than Terri Schiavo's," said a spokesman for the majority leader, who declined requests for an interview.

    I wonder if Terri Schiavo would agree?

    DC Outting

    Outting myself that I live in DC, that is.

    Along the lines of yesterday's post, here is today's Post, in perfect timing for tonight's class.

    The Stewards of Gay Washington

    The D.C. police Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit walks a tightrope, balancing empathy for a vulnerable population with lock-'em-up authority. Like the community, the squad is still shaping its identity.
    By Anne Hull
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Monday, March 28, 2005; Page A01

    Sgt. Brett Parson rides in his cruiser, groggy and unshaven, gripping a chai latte between his kneecaps. He will crisscross the city several times before the night is over. More sociological than geographical, his beat is gay Washington.

    "Cruiser 9670, request assistance," the dispatcher calls.

    "Brett, we got one of yours," a patrol officer radios.

    Inside a Northwest apartment, a 39-year-old man has been beaten by his male partner. The victim is a lieutenant colonel who works at the Pentagon and can't show up at a military hospital with injuries caused by same-sex domestic violence without risking his career.

    At the Giant on 14th Street and Meridian Place NW, a Salvadoran immigrant has run into his long-lost brother, only the brother is now living as a woman. When Parson arrives, he finds the figure in the dress slumped and bloodied, and the other brother is shouting, "He's a maricon," using a Spanish slur for homosexual. "Dios mio! My mother is going to kill herself."

    The D.C. police department has a Latino Liaison Unit, an Asian Liaison Unit and a Deaf and Hard of Hearing Unit, but unlike the other specialized squads, the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit deals with the half-truths and complexities of sexuality.

    When Parson teaches officers at the police academy how to deal with the gay community, he starts with Gay 101. They are blue-collar, white-collar, French collar and no collar. They may withhold the whole truth from you because their lives often are shrouded in necessary fictions. They might be uncomfortable dealing with you because they have been humiliated by you in the past.

    But out on the streets, as on this winter night, Parson is miles beyond Gay 101. His squad knows how to deal. The small rainbow flags they wear on their uniforms are their passports inside. Once inside, they must walk a razor's edge, balancing protection and empathy with old-school, lock-'em-up law enforcement.

    " 'We are here for you' is part of our message," Parson says. "But so is, 'You are under arrest.' "

    (see above link for entire article)

    This is part of the reason why I really like DC -- small city, but (except for the parade of Republican horribles) not narrow-minded. And props to the Post for publishing it on the front page!

    [update at 10:59 p.m.] Check out the accompanying slideshow and video on the Post's website. FABULOUS!! And make sure you email feedback to the paper to tell them to keep up the good work!

    Sunday, March 27, 2005

    Sex O and the law

    This semester, my schedule includes "Sexual Orientation and the Law" among other Con law II-esque classes. As you might imagine, it's a smallish seminar with about two dozen students -- gay, straight and non-disclosed. It is taught by adjuncts, two young (and CUTE) men who are openly gay associates at major law firms in town.

    In class last week, we had a discussion about the alterative title for the course which is offered for students who would prefer to have "Modern Topics in Constitutional Law" on their transcript instead. As one might imagine, the discussion surrounding this choice was ... not heated but definitely intense. No question that a number of folks had very personal and strong opinions on the topic.

    A number of students -- both gay and straight -- felt that the availability of an alternate title stigmatized the class and that it should not be an option unless all classes with potentially controversial names had alternates (e.g., so an Afghani woman with plans to return to her country would have the option of listing "Modern Topics in Constitutional Law" for a "Feminism and the Law" class). Others argued that the option was necessary for those -- gay or straight -- who might choose to practice in a less tolerant community or for those whose parents support their education and would not approve of such a class. Interestingly, the profs, who had taken the class together when they attended my law school, each chose something different. One opted for the alternative because he felt that with his internship at Lambda Legal and other places, that he didn't need or want more credentials on issues of sexual orientation. The other prof, who was not out during his summer associateship, decided to go with the Sex O name on his transcript.

    I can definitely understand why this issue sparked such debate -- and I certainly understand the various arguments. However, I think it's easy for someone who has never experienced discrimination to push for the no-alternative option because they don't understand that people's risk thresholds differ. But then again, if you don't push the envelope, how will societal views change? In the end, I believe that it's okay for a person to make that decision for him/herself, but one cannot make such a personal decision for others. So the option must stay. And I would certainly support the creation of alternative titles as an option for other courses -- not just by special request, but as a no-questions-asked option, as with this course.

    Finally, one student offered what I believe to be the best reason for keeping the name on the transcript: to demonstrate expertise in the substantive legal issues. I completely agree. I would also add that I plan to keep the Sex O title for another very important reason: if that course on my transcript makes anyone question their assumptions about me or think twice about their own biases, then we'll have education outside of the classroom.

    What the duck?

    Adjacent to my apartment building is a swanky hotel with a very nice courtyard for the very rich guests to gaze upon for a illusion of nature in the city. Fortunately for me, I get the same view for about one tenth the price. It has trees and grass and a little moat surrounding the island of ivy. Unfortunately there's not too much natural about it, since the whole thing is just the roof of their garage.

    Today I noticed two ducks -- a male and female -- resting on the air vent in the moat (which is, BTW, a square). No possible way for them to get there on their own, so someone must have had the BRILLIANT idea of placing them there. Mind you, there's no natural place for them to get food or shelter... and I don't want to think about the crap factor.

    Sometimes you just gotta wonder what is going through people's heads...!

    The new New Jersey?

    First it was Brooklyn, then New Jersey... now Texas?

    What the heck am I talking about? Back in the day, it seemed like the hotbed of procreation that gave birth to really talented performers was Brooklyn. Witness:

    Danny Aiello
    Woody Allen
    David Blaine
    Eubie Blake
    Mel Brooks
    Ken Burns
    Steve Buscemi
    Larry David
    Jimmy Fallon
    Jackie Gleason
    Barbra Streisand
    (there are, literally, thousands more, but you get the picture)

    Then New Jersey got lots of attention for the same reason. Just pick your exit off of the turnpike, right?

    Bud Abbott
    Bruce Springsteen
    Whitney Houston
    Count Basie
    Jack Nicholson
    Brooke Shields
    Jason Alexander
    Jon Bon Jovi
    Zack Braff
    Danny DeVito
    Meryl Streep
    Frank Sinatra
    ...et cetera

    Now, it looks like Texas is the place to grow up (and leave):

    Rene Zellweger
    Jessica Simpson
    Jennifer Love Hewitt
    Kelly Clarkson
    (but not to give Texas short shrift, let's not forget: Alvin Ailey, Gene Autry, Pat Boone, Gary Busey, JM J. Bullock, Thomas Haden Church, Dabney Coleman and others)

    Interesting how these entertainers group together... I wonder what the cultures of each place -- and the sterotypes of those cultures -- had to do with their developing their talents?

    And, I have to give credit to Bowling for Soup. I was listening to "Ohio (Come Back to Texas)" when this popped into my head...

    And why does it seem like many of the very talented comedians are from Canada?

    What you say?!?

    In today's Post, Zophia Smardz pens:

    "What do you think -- are women as opinionated as men? I know that's a hoot-you-out-of-the-room question most places these days. But here in news opinionland, it's been topic number one thanks to a recent kerfuffle between certain outspoken women and the editors of various national newspaper opinion pages.

    It started, as such things often do, as a fairly routine wrangle over access. Why, the critics demanded, are almost all the columnists and contributors on the op-ed pages of papers like The Post and The New York Times men? Why aren't more women being let in the door? That's not fair, is it?

    Well, no, that wouldn't be. But then things took a more intriguing turn. One editor -- a woman, it so happens -- offered the opinion that members of her sex are just less comfortable expressing pure opinion. Of course the critics weren't buying, retorting that the problem is simply discrimination by male editors who still dominate editorial page staffs. But -- not so, countered the editors' champions. Because if that's all it is, then how do you explain the bloggers? Yup -- turns out there are way fewer females than males firing off-the-hip convictions into no-entry-barred cyberspace, too."

    (for the rest of the opinion piece, see Just Give It a Shot, Girls)

    The piece goes on to discuss the author's experience with and opinions on why women aren't better represented in the editorial pages of major newspapers. It seems that women tend to be more cautious about putting their opinions out there (not that we don't have them -- we're just afraid to publish them) as manifested in requests for longer deadlines and time to consider what to write and excuses of schedules being too full. So, I would argue that it's not a matter of a dearth of opinions but rather societal conditioning not to be assertive about proferring said opinion. Add to that, perhaps, something scary about seeing that opinion in black and white print.

    Interestingly enough, from my two perspectives -- that of a law student and advocacy from the non-profit sector -- there is ample evidence that women are very comfortable and confident in expressing their own opinions. In fact, in both of my realms of existence, women outnumber and even outtalk the men... that may not answer the issue of instutitional discrimination elsewhere or fears of criticism, but it's a start.

    C'mon Ladies... time to get loud!

    Saturday, March 26, 2005

    Expedited delivery envelopes

    FINALLY got info from the firm where I'll be a summer associate starting the end of May. They want me to fill out all sort of forms about my likes/dislikes and remit a picture, an updated resume and transcript by April 1st. I just got it in the mail today. Nothing like giving us ample time to take care of it. What do they think, that I have lots of time on my hands or something?


    Yay me!

    Okay, it's not brain surgery, but I did figure out how to add links to this blog -- AND how to post the header in the same script.

    Yay me!

    (still trying to get a hang of internal text formatting, but I'll get there...!)

    Friday, March 25, 2005

    Trying to be a good citizen

    Every year for the past five or so to mark my birthday, I have tried to do some kind of charity work. Usually, it takes the form of a donation beyond the usual Salvation Army drop-off. For example, in the past, I have organized two major donation drives (by which I mean that I had dozens of participants): clothing for Suited for Change -- an organization which provides free professional clothes for welfare to work women -- and cell phones for The Wireless Foundation -- which through a program called "Call to Protect", fixes, erases and donates used cell phones to battered women so that they can call for help (911 is statutorily a free call on cell phones even if the phone is not on a paid wireless service; so long as the phone works, so will 911). I have also donated 10-15 inches of my hair (yes, hair) to Locks of Love, a non-profit which makes hairpieces out of real human hair for financially disadvantaged kids who suffer from long-term medical hair loss (cancer, alopecia areata, etc.)

    I haven't done anything this year, and I'm thinking it's time for me to chop off my halfway-down-my-back and really-getting-long hair for my second donation to Locks of Love. It only took me 3 -1/2 years to grow it from short, short to long, long -- which isn't a tremendous amount of time to amass this mass of hair. Even if I donate the requisite ten inches, my hair will still be down to my shoulders. I've always taken my hair for granted, so rather than be vain about it, I think I'd like to let someone else feel pride in it. So, I think it's about time to do the donation again. I want to do it, and sentiment doesn't generally get in the way of these kinds of decisions for me. I just have to make sure I'm ready for the change... give it a few days to sink in.

    It will be traumatic, but just think how much I'll save on shampoo and conditioner! And frankly, I had never felt as much pride in my hair before as when I saw it in the bag to mail off for the donation.

    Famous Jays

    Rockefeller (Jay was his nickname)
    Walker (J.J.)

    That's all I could come up with!

    How about famous Kays?
    Mary Kay (as in cosmetics)
    Danny Kaye

    That's it for K...?

    Just a dilettante

    I still can't figure out how to code sidebars so that I make this blog more interesting by adding links... HELP!

    Thursday, March 24, 2005

    I love it

    For a story on Nightline, a woman referred to Tom DeLay as "teflon Tom". How perfect is that!?! I love it.

    And speaking of Nightline, their stories are getting more and more interesting.

    Happy Birthday Grandma

    Just wanted to wish you a Happy Birthday Grandma...!

    You would have been 90 today, but you've been gone for two years. Still, I know you're always with me.

    I love you, and I miss you.

    Wednesday, March 23, 2005

    Like a lemming...

    This from Kristine, a.k.a. divine angst who takes it via Sui Generis...

    1. Grab the nearest book. Do not search around and look for the "coolest" book you can find; use the book that is actually next to you.
    2. Open it to page 123.
    3. Find the fifth sentence.
    4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

    So, despite the stacks of casebooks, hornbooks and guilty pleasures, the book closest to my bed actually happens to be Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The fifth full sentence on the page:

    "The hearing's on my floor, in Amelia Bones's office."
    (an excerpt of a fuller conversation between Harry, Mr. Weasley and Tonks)

    Monday, March 21, 2005

    How rude...

    Top ten rude behaviors I've witnessed on the Metro...

    10. loud music, earphones or not
    9. people who don't take off their backpacks on very crowded trains
    8. people who stand in front of the train doors, obstructing passengers from getting off the train (or trying to get on before people have gotten off...grrr!)
    7. people with umbrellas sticking out of their bags, endangering nearby eyes and other body parts
    6. people sitting spread across two seats when others are standing
    5. people who don't stand up to let the person sitting on the inside seat get out/people who don't say "excuse me" when trying to get out from the inside seat
    4. men (and yes, it is usually men) conveniently not noticing a pregnant woman who needs one of those "reserved" seats
    3. people yelling for people to move in farther/people not bothering to make space so that others could get on
    2. a woman standing on the left side of the escalator who responded to multiple "excuse me" requests from people wishing to pass with a tart "and just where would you like me to go?!?!" (oh, can I answer that one!)
    1. a guy clipping his fingernails with shards flying everywhere -- that is beyond GROSS to REVOLTING!

    Monday, March 14, 2005

    Why is it that

    When I was a kid, about 6, I wrote this poem. I was so impressed with myself that I still remember it decades later...

    Can hot water put out fire?
    Why are there two names for fall?
    Why can't a kangeroo jump a lot higher?
    And why can't I jump a wall?

    That hot water thing had me truly perplexed, let me tell you! Now, my consternation turns to more complex stuff, such as:

  • Why are all the late night interview-type show hosts are men (think Leno, Letterman, Carson, Kilborne, Hall, etc.) and all the daytime show hosts are women (think Oprah, Jane Pauley, Ellen, Rosie, etc.)?

  • Why are Republicans such hypocrites? They advocate smaller government but create new agencies; they scream states' rights but push to intervene with the Terry Schiavo case (where the state officials have spoken); they think all Americans should be treated alike (e.g., no affirmative action or outreach to special constituency groups), except when it comes to Christian faith-based initiatives; they rant and rave about character but when Tom DeLay gets all but caught for ethical violations, what do they do? Hold his feet to the fire? Nope, they change the ethics rules to allow him to keep on keeping on...

  • Why do people get presents on their birthdays? Shouldn't their mother's get the presents for doing all the work?

  • Why don't Al Franken and Ben Stein do a point/counter-point show called FrankenStein?

  • This may just keep me up at night...

    Sunday, March 13, 2005

    Not to brag

    But remember the Jeopardy question?

    I've actually been to 40 countries -- this site's count is different than mine because of colonial presence, countries divided/reunited and general political changes since I first began my sojourns at age 16...

    My domestic travel is less impressive. Gotta work on that!

    create your own personalized map of the USA

    Not including drive-through and stop-over states.

    I may be old but...

    There's something quaint about some of these relics of a bygone era...e.g. my childhood (and teenage years and even college days).

    * milk home-delivered in glass bottles (left in the tin box)
    * drive-in movie theaters
    * movie theaters with dramatic, heavy full-length curtains and balcony seating
    * regular gas
    * dial television sets with rabbit-ear antenna
    * rotary phones that you rented from the phone company
    * flipping through the Sears catalogue and dog-earing pages for your Christmas list
    * life before VCRs (remember the Betamax?)
    * mimeographing
    * Coke and RC Cola in returnable glass bottles
    * diaper services
    * home movies on 8mm film
    * 126 and 110 cartridge film
    * television stations signing off from broadcasting at night with the Star Spangled Banner
    * 8 track tape player in the car
    * manual typewriters
    * cap hair dryers
    * handwritten letters

    I actually remember all of these things. Okay, maybe it's just nostalgia that makes them seem cool (I admit, most of these things went the way of the dodo for a reason -- lack of efficiency and invention of newer technology). I still maintain, however, that the world is definitely the worse for the disappearance of drive-in theaters.

    Thursday, March 10, 2005

    The perfect age?

    So the other day for my birthday, a friend/colleague sent me happy wishes with the comment, "So, you're 29, right?" (knowing full well that that boat has long since sailed). In response he got a smile from me.

    And I realized that in many ways 29 is the perfect age for that kind of compliment.
    * First, I'm vain enough to believe that I look 29.
    * Second, 29 is old enough to have professional credibility but young enough to not even be started up the hill.
    * Third, others could possibly believe it, so why not?

    Turns out that another colleague believed him that I was 29...

    I give credit where credit is due: good Asian genes and providing chemical pigmentation support to my hair will do that!

    Wednesday, March 09, 2005

    Because I'm a shameless attention-seeker...

    Continuing with the birthday theme, the #1 song in the UK on the day I was born was (drum roll please)... Esther & Abi Ofarim's Cinderella Rockefella.

    Huh? Never heard of it.

    In the US, it was Love Is Blue by Paul Mauriat.

    Huh? Never heard of it.

    Guess I wasn't listening to too much radio back in the day. I could try picking another significant March 9th -- like my 16th, 18th or 21st birthdays -- but that drops us smack in the 1980s... and, well, I just don't think it would be a pretty sight or sound. Oh well.

    And according to my horoscope in the Post:
    PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20). There's much going in your favor, but your need for introspection may cause you not to see it like everyone around you does. No matter. As Carl Jung said: "Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes."

    TODAY'S BIRTHDAY (March 9). It's one of the most joyful years once you determine where to apply yourself. When you happily contribute to someone in the next 10 weeks, you light up a life -- and so are put in touch with your deep need to help others. The social swirl uplifts you in April and May. New training in August improves finances. Love signs are Aries and Aquarius. Your lucky numbers are: 14, 39, 20, 35 and 17.

    Do do do do do...

    "They say it's your birthday... It's my birthday too!"

    Folks with quasi-celebrity status -- enough to have their birthdays posted online, but not significant enough to make the "famous people" lists.
    Youri Djorkaeff
    Brian Heikik
    Johnny Kelly
    Ann Swisshelm
    Terrance Anthony

    Others who were born, married or passed away on March 9th. Stuff done on March 9th. And, according to the venerable New York Times, more factoids on this day in history. But to avoid accusations of total ethnocentrism, the BBC says...

    But, none of them me.

    Tuesday, March 08, 2005

    Jeopardy questions

    Because I am often in situations where I am either meeting new folks or bringing together a bunch of folks who don't know each other (but have me in common), I like to get things started -- let folks get to know each other and begin the conversations -- with a question: If you were on Jeopardy, what would be the bit of trivia about yourself that you would tell Alex Trebek?

    I usually ask this question around a table, usually over food and drinks, and it has been wildly successful in getting interesting stories out of people. So much so that after one round (of answers), people often turn to me looking for the next question... kinda like legitimized gossip about each other. Legitimate because we're outting ourselves. It's great fun, especially when you really only know someone in one context, e.g., you're used to seeing someone as a co-worker although you may vaguely know that s/he has an interest in, say, attending Star Trek conventions.

    So I came up with another question: What is one thing about yourself that no one else at the table knows about you? This is really fun when you have a mix better and lesser acquainted people. Once, one conversation where this question was the focus included a set of best friends from college. Now, THAT was fun. She had to delve deep for an answer. This question always leads to really interesting and fun disclosures which invariably lead follow-up disclosures and more conversation. It also really allows folks to paint a more colorful picture of the others present and open up the "boxes" that we tend to sort each other into.

    And once when the chatting was so enthusiastic that we exhausted that line of Q and A, I invented a third question: Who is the most famous person who knows you by name (generally operationalized as if you called her/him, that person would take your call?)? That evening that that question was invented, we were lucky that a friend had already left because none of us could beat Bill Clinton.

    I'm starting to use these questions so often, that I am in danger of having to come up with a fourth.

    (BTW, 1. I have travelled to 40 countries; 2. I have five tattoos; 3. George Takei, who played Sulu on the original "Star Trek")

    Make up your mind already!

    Yesterday: sunny, brilliant and beautiful, temperature in the 60s. Just perfect.

    Today: started with rain, but then the temperature dropped and it snowed; ended up literally freezing with a wind whipping around that really made it painful to be outside.

    Tomorrow? anyone's guess.

    In like a lion? More like Tom DeLay's ethics record... no discernible logic, consistency or regard for the way it's supposed to be. Basically completely arbitrary.

    Wednesday, March 02, 2005

    Exhibitionist or voyeur?

    Either way, I'm back on the blog again... and it's taking up more time that it should. But then again, so does everything.

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