Thursday, March 31, 2005

Fred Korematsu, Dead at 86 

Fred Korematsu has died at home at age 86. He was convicted of defying orders to report to an internment camp for Japanese-Americans during WWII, and his conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court as being necessary for national security.

Fortunately, his conviction was overturned after about 40 years, and he led the way for a government apology to those affected by the internment program.

He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998.

The Supreme Court opinion can be found here.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 7:32 PM

Law & Ethics Guest Speaker - Justice Anthony Kennedy 

Our professor just let us know that next Thursday's class will have a guest lecturer in the form of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. He'll be in town as the keynote speaker for NESL's Law Day Banquet and Barrister's Ball the next day.

His topic for the class hasn't been specified yet, but our professor has promised to let us know in advance so we can be fully and completely prepared to provide the Justice with a satisfactory teaching experience.

This is so cool.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 6:10 PM

Has Anyone Seen My Brain? 

I've been feeling a bit under the weather for the last few days, hence the limited posting. Some sort of brain fog moved in. What little area of functional grey matter remained was taken up with processing the pressing question of "What courses should I take next semester?"

Next semester I'll be a third year (of four) evening student, which makes it my first semester of complete choice. No required courses. Well, not really "required," but there are still all sorts of requirements and "strongly recommended" courses to fit in. We need a certain number of public law courses, skills courses and seminars before graduation, plus the four "strongly recommended" courses (mostly bar staples), plus you have to consider if there are any prerequisites for any advanced courses you might want to take down the line. If you're considering going into tax law, you've got to start on those courses right away or you won't be able to get them all in. Fortunately for me, I'm not going that route.

So this is what I've come up with at this point. I have until April 15th to drop off my completed forms, so I've got time to consider and reconsider:
  • Wills, Estates and Trusts (one of the strongly recommended courses).
  • Advanced Constitutional Law: Civil Rights (satisfies both the Public Law and Seminar requirements, MA Bar)
  • Perspectives: Sexual Orientation and the Law (public law, seminar)
  • Perspectives: Non State Actors (seminar)
  • Accounting for Lawyers
This gives me 5 classes and 12 credits, which is the max you can take in the Evening Division.

The tentative offerings for the Spring semester are also available, and unless the schedule changes I'm thinking of these courses for 2nd semester next year (4 classes, 12 credits):
  • Family Law (MA bar course)
  • Negotiation (Skills)
  • UCC: Sales (MA bar)
  • Business Organizations (strongly recommended, MA bar)
Comments, suggestions from those who have been there?

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:13 AM
Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Johnnie Cochran, 1937-2005 

Atttorney Johnnie Cochran died at home this evening of a brain tumor.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:00 PM
Monday, March 28, 2005

Battlestar Galactica - Pre-Finale Thoughts 

First off, let me make this perfectly clear: I love this show. Love, love, love this show. I haven't particularly been on the edge of my seat with much of the Helo story, but I had confidence that they were building to something, and they seem to be succeeding with it. But before this Friday's season finale (*sob*), I wanted to put some thoughts out there for your consideration.

When Baltar tested Sharon and discovered she's a Cylon, it only took a few minutes. The very next episode each test takes 11 hours, much to Baltar's dismay. Plus he's giving everyone a passing grade so that Number Six doesn't rip his head off from the inside, so what is he so stressed about? Is he actually running the tests so that he'll know the truth about everyone? But why is it suddenly taking 11 hours? It's not like the first test was run during the original mini-series and they changed the parameters for the ongoing story. The working test wasn't introduced until well into the ongoing series, then changed in the next episode. Maybe it's just something they planted so the viewing geeks would have something to latch onto.

Where did Pres. Roslin's advisor Wallace Gray come from? He was introduced in Colonial Days and was described by the press as being "the power behind the presidency," and as Roslin's right hand man, but we had never once seen him before this episode. When the Colonial media were first talking about him, I thought they must have been referring to Roslin's boy wonder assistant, Billy Keikaya, but I was perplexed as to how anyone could picture him as a quiet puppetmaster. Turns out Gray was just a throwaway character they invented as a plot device for getting Baltar into the Vice-President's chair.

How on Kobol are we supposed to believe that Starbuck would have climbed into bed with Baltar? From all previous indications, she seemed to be under the impression that he was a self-absorbed, scatterbrained (albeit superintelligent) asshole with a tendency to whack off in the lab. There is just no way she would have gotten busy with that guy. Again, simply a plot device to build up tension between her and Apollo, and between Baltar and Six In The Head. They could have had Baltar put a move on her which she then rejected in no uncertain terms and possibly with a few small broken bones, but Apollo could have seen them post-move and pre-rejection, thus setting up tension and misunderstanding between Starbuck and Apollo, and anger and jealousy between Baltar and Six In The Head. Why throw in that completely out of character (for Starbuck) scene? If they wanted some sex scenes with Starbuck, they could have put her with any number of throwaway characters.

How did Boomer shoot herself through the cheek? Did she flinch at the last second? Does she have any jawbone or teeth left on that side of her face?

Where did that military doctor get his awful bedside manner? It's one thing when he's trading jabs with the pilots and other soldiers, but how does he get away with being so incredibly dismissive and condescending to THE PRESIDENT? Is he the last living doctor in the fleet, so he figures he has job security?

Why wouldn't Pres. Roslin have already gone through whatever procedures were set out in the Articles of Colonization for re-establishing the government in case of Case Orange? They must be detailed articles, since they established that the Secretary of Education was 43rd in line for the presidency. Don't tell me they didn't have a clear-cut schedule for appointing a new set of successors in case of Case Secondary Orange. Did the Articles set out in great detail who would become president in case the first 42 people were killed at the same time as the sitting president, but then just leave the new acting president flying solo? Zarak's motion to nominate and elect a new vice-president seemed like a total shocker to everyone present. "Wow - he wants a vice-president? The gall!!!" Please.

So that's it. That's all my griping for almost an entire season of a show. I could get twice as much out of one episode of Tru Calling.

Season finale this Friday. When does Season Two begin? Sadly, I'm guessing not until next January.
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UPDATE (2/32 pm): I forgot one very important question. Why does Sci-Fi show every high point of the upcoming show just after the opening sequence? The first time I saw it, I ended up knowing exactly what was going to happen through the entire show. It's like attaching a spoiler feed to the broadcast. Now I know to just fast-forward the Tivo (I usually watch Friday's show on Saturday morning) and look away from the screen for a standard number of seconds (maybe 2) to get the playback into the commercials. Note to Sci-Fi Channel: really bad idea. Please get rid of it for next season. Thanks.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:24 AM

When Casting Changes 

So Friday evening we were watching Thursday's ER, and Sam's abusive, manipulative, slimeball ex, Steve, was back in the picture briefly. I was a little confused, because they were making it seem like this one actor was him, but it so clearly wasn't him, but they really were treating him like he was Steve. The Girl didn't agree with me, but agreed with the rest of the cast and she treated him like he was Steve as well. She said he's just more scraggly looking than the last time we saw him.

I relented, but silently continued thinking to myself that yeah, he's more scraggly, but also has darker hair, straighter hair, is much more slight of build, perhaps shorter, much more submissive and crawly as opposed to domineering and abusive, his voice is different and his southern accent has completely changed regions. But his name's still Steve and he's still Alex's father, so I guess that's enough to gloss over the fact that it's an entirely different person.

This morning I found that Scribe Grrrl, who does the ER recaps over at AfterEllen.com, went through the same thought processes I did, so I took that as a sign that some geeky research was in order. According to IMDB's in depth list of every guest on every episode, this week Steve Curtis was played by Garret Dillahunt, who was born exactly one week after me, by the way. After much searching episode by episode, since prior to this week's appearance Steve also apparently wasn't credited as having a last name (sometimes he's "Steve" and sometimes he's "Alex's Father," I found earlier Steve, who was played by Cole Hauser. This actor is kind of a Matthew McConaughey knock-off, and he was born almost ten years after this week's actor (and me). I stand now geekily vindicated.

I can understand how a show can't always secure the same actor to reprise a guest role as time goes on, but couldn't they have made an effort to get someone who would at least try to portray the same character? Or were they so desperate to make this guy look like a snivelling whiner next to shiny knight Luka? Then again, if Steve had been a snivelling whiner, he likely wouldn't have had such control over Sam and Alex for all those years. Sam could have knocked this guy into next week. Original Steve was formidable.

On the next episode of ER (which won't be next week, as they never can seem to string together two new episodes in a row this season): Parminder Nagra will be on vacation, so the role of Neela Rasgotra, MD will be played by Sarah Michelle Geller. You won't notice a thing.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:59 AM
Sunday, March 27, 2005

All She Wants To Do Is Dance 

The Girl and I both love to dance. When it comes to formal dancing, however, we're both at a bit of a loss. I did have that class I had to take as part of my undergrad PE degree (technically, HPERD - Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, but I think more people recognize the "PE" part of it"), but that was a really long time ago, and it didn't particularly leave that big of an impression on me. It was the first semester at my trasfer school, and I was still undergoing culture shock. I hear my second school has undergone much in the way of cultural enlightenment since I was there, but at the time it simply wasn't worldly gay central.

First school (through middle of junior year). Second school (drastically changed majors, so took another 4 semesters to finish there). At any rate, learning the foxtrot wasn't my highest goal in my first semester as the new kid.

But there's a wedding coming up, and nobody puts Baby in a corner. That is to say, we don't want to sit out any dances simply because we don't know how. "But it's your wedding," you say. "Don't play any music you can't dance to." Ah, but between the two of us we have a broad range of musical tastes, and while I may not yet know how to dance to some types of music, it doesn't mean I don't like the music! So in our quest for footwork betterment, we've rented Discover Ballroom Dance, and inspired by Shall We Dance, yesterday we finally moved the living room furniture out of the way and started our journey. We only covered the basic forward and backwards waltz steps so far, and now we're practicing those before we move on. Well, I am, anyway. The Girl is still working on letting go of that "I feel stupid" reaction. But I think we're making progress. Yesterday I was waltzing about the house at various points, looking a bit like Jennifer Grey during that early dance training montage in which we spot her practicing her steps alone in various secluded spots around the Catskills.

We've got quite a bit of work ahead - the DVD includes waltz, quickstep, foxtrot and tango. But we've got 97 days - no problem.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:53 AM
Saturday, March 26, 2005

Alfie 

What's it all about, Alfie? The theme song from the original comes in a bit during the opening credits, but that's about all that's about. This remake stars Jude Law as the carefree love em and leave em Brit in New York, who along the way manages to leave quite a wake in his path. His various casualties and other acquaintances include Marissa Tomei (love her), Susan Sarandon (turned out to be a Susan Sarandon double-header, in very different roles), Jane Krakowski (but she doesn't sing), Omar Epps, and Nia Long. Gedde Watanabe is in there as well, as Alfie's boss at the limo company. You might remember him as Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles.

Bottom line, Alfie's life is empty, lonely, unfulfilled and rather depressing. Everything he's spent his life avoiding is what makes life worth living. He basically has no one to witness his life, and no one whose life he can witness. And that's about all this movie is about.

Reality Check: The Girl's comment as the closing credits begin to roll: "That's it? That's terrible!" She enjoyed it until it was over, but she hated how it ended. We're both glad we didn't see it at the theater.


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Posted by Beth Henderson at 4:27 PM

Shall We Dance 

It took us three tries, but we made it through Shall We Dance. We should know better than to try to start a movie on a weeknight after I get home from class. But we finished it off this morning. I think part of the trouble also was that this movie takes a while to get going. Richard Gere is a wills & estates attorney, with two kids, married to upscale department store executive Susan Sarandon, with a beautiful house and lovely life... and who feels empty inside. His feeling that he's not happy is compounded by his guilt over not being blissful with what he has.

But every day on his way home on the train, he goes by Miss Mitzy's Dance School and sees Jennifer Lopez gazing out the window with a lonely, faraway look on her face, and he sees himself in her. I think he also sees a hot babe, but he's above all that, it turns out. He finally ventures in to the dance school one day, and his life changes. That's all the detail I'll give.

This is a story about connecting with people, those you know and those you're just meeting, and helping each other discover or uncover the passion in ourselves. It takes work, and patience, and dedication. Watching the movie takes some element of these as well, but it pays off in the end. I think Jennifer Lopez was told by the director that her character is supposed to be closed off and disappointed by life, and she translated this into "She's an automaton." She's very difficult to watch for the first maybe one-third of the movie, but then you start getting glimpses of an actual person inside, and it catches your attention. It's all good after that. Susan Sarandon has a nice secondary storyline as a woman who is confused and a little afraid of the fact that suddenly her husband seems happier for no apparent reason, and in her search to find out why she discovers a few things about herself and her own assumptions about what life is all about.

The best lesson of the film isn't in the dance studio. It's the statement that the reason and the driving force behind spending your life with someone is to be a witness to each other's lives. That's nice.

Reality Check: She agreed that it started off too slow, but that once it got going it was a good movie. She was glad we didn't see it at a theater, though. And we both think that Stanley Tucci looks much better bald. You'll have to see it for yourself.


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Posted by Beth Henderson at 3:46 PM
Friday, March 25, 2005

Tru Calling Returns! 

That show I couldn't stop watching, no matter how bad it got, is coming back for more at last! The Girl and I were checking the Tivo To Do List to see if Joan of Arcadia or JAG would be on this week, and as I was flipping through, she suddenly exclaimed, "Tru Calling! Oh no!" I thought she was just spotting it on the list of shows that have Season Passes but for which there is nothing currently scheduled, but indeed - there's a new two-hour episode for the Season Two premiere, next Thursday, 3/31! I love Tivo. It just knew.

And by the way - the Tru Calling official website still sucks. Hopefully they put more creativity into the show.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 7:06 PM

L. Ron Hubbard Approves of Me 

Today's NY Times has this article on Tom Cruise and his more recently public approach to his affiliation with the Church of Scientology. Apparently he's taken industry execs on tours of Scientology centers in Brussels and LA, and had a volunteer tent staffed by Scientology members on the set of War of the Worlds, where cast and crew could get "assists" (like a massage) and pamphlets. His publicist says this is all in response to Cruise constantly being asked questions about the group, so he's trying to be proactive.

The article had a link to a Scientology website, so I surfed over to peruse. I'm not a particularly religious person, but I'd have to say I have a spiritual bent. I have an interest in learning about various religions, but not necessarily adhering to anything specific.

For anyone who's curious, I was raised Episcopal, and was very active in the church growing up. But not now. I couple of years ago I took the spirituality spectrum quiz, and my top three matches were Unitarian Universalist (100% match), Secular Humanist (93% match), and Neo-Pagan (90% match). Actually, Neo-Pagan tied with "Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants," which would include the type of Episcopal church I was raised in.

Interestingly, my sister (there are six of us altogether, she's the oldest and I'm the youngest) came out with the same top three, but in different order. My bottom three rankings were Roman Catholic (28%), Seventh Day Adventist (23%) and Jehovah's Witness (9%). I see now that Scientology was in the middle at 64%.

Anyway, back to Scientology. They like to emphasize their various celebrity members, such as Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Kirstie Alley, Jenna Elfman, Isaac Hayes, Jason Lee, Anne Archer, Catherine Bell (I love JAG), and Priscilla & Lisa Marie Presley. Lots of web space devoted to celebrity doings. I guess the lesson they're hoping to impart is that if you follow Scientology, you can be rich and famous too. Well, that plus talent, perseverance and some lucky breaks, but whatever. But most of the stuff they advertise on their site seems pretty harmless and geared towards self-improvement and good works in the world. Sort of a polished up and sparkly Unitarian Universalist approach with a better publicist. I wouldn't expect that whatever cult-like features might be lurking below the surface would be put down in writing, though. Or maybe it's just not there - who know?

One little link did catch my eye: Personality Test. An online quiz - yay!!!! I was a little turned off by their assurance that "A test of this kind would normally cost you $500.00 and up. It is offered to you here free of charge as a public service." It's kind of the anti-scare tactic. "This is a valuable service, and if you want to receive the insights to be gained therein you would normally have to pay gobs of money, but because we're so good and care so much about you, we'll let you have it for FREE!!!!" Don't pitch, just present. I like learning, not being converted.

Before entering into the OCA (Oxford Capacity Analysis) Test area, I checked out the About the Test and How You Receive Your Results popups. The test is a series of 200 questions, so yeah, this is a commitment. When you finish the questions, you'll get an immediate display of your graphed results that you can easily read, but you'll need to visit a center to have one of their trained analysts consult with you if you want the full in-depth analysis. Fine, I can live with the surface. So in I plunge.

First screen, however, is a request for personal information. You can't proceed without filling in at least some of it. Be warned - every time you leave off something required and are sent back to fill it in, they recheck the "Send Scientology Information" box again. Make sure this is cleared before submitting each time, or you may be opting in for more than you really want. Apparently they do send a little follow up about your test and an invitation to come in for a consultation, but that's what trash cans are for, right? In the interest of learning, plus fun online activities, I forged my way through ALL 200 QUESTIONS. These are of the Mostly Agree, Uncertain, or Mostly Disagree variety, so it's not really all that bad. Then Boom! I got my personality analysis. Looks like I'm doing just fine, and really am not in need of any Scientology intervention. Either that or they're going to start recruiting me as a potential leader. Only time will tell. Here's my graph:



So this was an interesting learning experience, now time to move on. The final test will be to see if I now become inundated with literature in my virtual and real mailboxes. Anyone care to wager?

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:09 AM

Friday Random Ten - Ready to Take on the World Edition 

Load everything on the MP3 player, play in Random/Shuffle mode, and see what pops up first. List your first 10 tunes on your own blog, here (Comments/Trackback) and at the blog of the hostest with the mostest, feministe.

And because feministe did it, I'll do it too. Five bonus random tracks:


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Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:20 AM
Thursday, March 24, 2005

Full Court - Cert. Denied, Without Comment 

Justice Kennedy, who receives Supreme Court appeals from the 11th Circuit, referred the appeal by Terri Schiavo's parents to the full court. The nine members once again denied the request for an appeal, without comment.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:23 AM

We Can Do Anything We Need To... 

Today Reuters published an article titled "Republican Leader Invokes God in Schiavo Battle," which discusses an address made by Rep. Tom DeLay, House Majority Leader, to a meeting of the Family Research Council on Friday (3/18/05), just before he returned to the Capitol Building to finish working on his efforts to intervene in the Terri Schiavo case.

I've seen commentary on DeLay's comments that God brought Terri Schiavo to the conservatives to shed light on their cause. DeLay has been criticized for exploiting Schiavo for political gain.

Time Magazine online has a transcript of DeLay's address. I find many of his statements distorting of reality and rather disturbing, but the whole thing is summed up best by one of his final statements:
We can do anything we need to do to pass any bill that we need to pass.
The House Majority Leader has specifically stated this to members of Focus on the Family, an extremely conservative religious group which lists "Government and Public Policy" as one of their ministries. They describe this ministry as follows:
"Now more than ever, we at Focus recognize the need to make our voices heard in the public square. Judicial tyranny, the homosexual agenda, pornography and gambling are among the front burner issues that threaten the foundation of the family. In a nation where individual "rights" increasingly trump biblical truth, abortions continue to be performed at alarming rates. On a larger scale, a world unschooled in the value of premarital abstinence is fraught with diseases like AIDS."

And Tom DeLay says to this group "We can do anything we need to do to pass any bill that we need to pass." I don't find this comforting. Frankly, I do value individual rights, and don't find it appropriate or constitutional that anyone's intepretation of their religious texts should trump those individual rights that are protected by law. Those protections are there for a reason, one of which is to prevent them from being trampled by mob rule. Increasingly, I'm seeing Rep. DeLay as someone whose goal is to get that mob all riled up behind him, and to have that mob focuse on whatever and whoever stands in his way, rather than on anything in his own actions that might not be helpful to his own political ambitions. I have the feeling that Rep. DeLay feels he can do anything he needs to do not only to pass any bill, but to go after any target and promote any goal.

The time is approaching rapidly when he will no longer be able to exploit Terri Schiavo for his goals. What or who will he grab next?

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:13 AM

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream 

Yet another quiz, this one pointed out by Samples Connection. Apparently I am most like:


Morpheus


?? Which Of The Greek Gods Are You ??
brought to you by
Quizilla

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:44 AM
Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Does Peter Parker Dig Pinot? 

Oscar-nominated Thomas Haden Church has signed on to play an as yet unspecified villain in Spider-Man 3.

I really liked the first two, and even The Girl enjoyed them both, although she watched them on DVD, not in the theater. I saw the first one at the theater with the now-wife of soxfan, and I have to tell you - she's a movie talker. The Girl thinks I talk too much when we're watching movies at home, but I limit it to occasional comments on the previous works of the various actors, but Wife of Soxfan carries on nonstop dialogue with the characters. I finally had to throw my popcorn napkin at her to break the spell!

How's that coming these days, soxfan?

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 7:59 PM

Normal, Normal, Normal. Yawn. 

Via Life, Law, Gender, I find that I'm actually not a freak. I thought I was for a moment, because the quiz server blinked out momentarily, and when I refreshed the screen it told me I was 0% normal, questioned whether I was human and called me a freak of nature. But then I went back and submitted my responses again, and found that this wasn't actually the case. But it was fun while it lasted!

You Are 60% Normal
(Really Normal)



Otherwise known as the normal amount of normal. You're like most people most of the time. But you've got those quirks that make you endearing. You're unique, yes... but not frighteningly so!

How Normal Are You?

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 5:03 PM

Napoleon Dynamite 

We watched this one last weekend. Eh, so-so.

Napoleon Dynamite is the favorite target of the bullies and cool kids in his small town Idaho high school, sometime in the 80s. He has a couple of friends who are equally as outcast, and the three of them try to mumble and defensive come-back their way through their troubles at home and school. Napoleon lives with his grandmother, who is temporarily removed from the picture early on so that his obnoxious living-in-the-past Uncle Rico can move in with Napoleon and his older brother Kip, who is apparently somewhere around 30 and who spends hours per day talking online to his virtual love in Detroit. Napoleon and his friends find some motivation when his buddy Pedro decides to run for class president. Sort of Revenge of the Nerds. But really not.

Pieces of it are funny, and I laughed out loud a number of times, but it just moves along really slowly. It's the Saturday Night Live skit syndrome. Good in small quantities, but not well-adapted to feature length. Unfortunately you do have to sit through the whole thing to get the most benefit from the various storylines, but I don't suggest you start it very late at night.

Reality Check: The Girl found this to be abysmal. Hated, hated, hated it.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 3:10 PM

International Hunter In Charge of Endangered Species 

During last evening's Environmental Law class we were covering the Endangered Species Act, and a few times during the session I surfed over to the home pages of the US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) (aka NMFS). Oddly, NOAA Fisheries also has a detailed page over at the NOAA website, and it also includes a link to take you to the separate NMFS page. Why does NOAA Fisheries maintain two separate sites? Was it a gesture to accomodate their being subsumed into the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration? Anyway, that's not the point here.

The point is that the FWS homepage has a prominent announcement that Interior Secretary Gale Norton has named Matthew J. Hogan as Acting FWS Director. President Bush has yet to nominate a candidate for the position. Full news release, dated 3/16/05, here. The news release mentions that he has been deputy director for three years, and:
"Before joining the Service in 2002, Hogan, 37, spent four years as conservation policy director of the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, serving as a liaison between the hunting, fishing and conservation communities and the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus. Prior to that, he was government affairs manager for Safari Club International and legislative director for Congressman Pete Geren of Texas. "
I pondered momentarily what impact his background might have on his endangered species protection, given the emphasis on "Sportsman" and a safari group in his experience. But I was in class, after all, and it wasn't a good time to do such digging. Instead, I clicked back to the Endangered Species page to which I was originally headed, and got back to the task at hand.

This morning I discovered via the Pacific Views post "Fox, Meet Henhouse," that yesterday afternoon there was a detailed post on the subject over at Daily Kos, titled "Slipping an extremist appointment under the radar..." Turns out that Safari Club International is just what it sounds like - a group that promotes global hunting, and which gives out awards to its members who successfully hunt and kill various set lists of species, such as elephants, leopards, sheep, bison, caribou, etc. More gory details over at the Daily Kos post. More sanitized details at Safari Club International.

I took a look into some of Hogan's other affiliations, such as the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, which assures its members that "The Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation is an organization you can depend on to make sure you always have places and opportunities to hunt, fish and trap." I was unable to find any sort of official site for the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus, but through various references, such as this editorial from Women & Guns magazine, it appears that this is a caucus composed of a whole lot of US Representatives and Senators who enjoy hunting, shooting and fishing, and who work in Congress to promote and enable these activities. The Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation is their "educational arm."

Okay, I try to be a realist. Some of the most powerful forces behind habitat and wilderness preservation and other conservation efforts are in the "sporting" industry and community. I applaud the changes that have been made by anglers in positioning catch and release as the expected norm that is to be upheld. I have been known to be dedicated in my fishing pursuits (haven't been out years, though - I decided it was just an excuse to be out on the water, and I didn't need to fish to do that). If only a similar program shift could be developed within the hunting culture. Is it really necessary to go out and kill for sport? It's hard for me to develop a sense of kinship with the people whose aims of preserving wilderness are motivated by a desire to destroy part, perhaps the essence, of what makes it wild. But I also understand that there is a spectrum along which people fall, with some people who hunt actually to feed themselves, out of necessity, and with some people who will support what they perceive as the right for each person to get out there and kill any and all animals who cross their path simply because that is the right of man, and to "violate" that right on any level jeopardizes all such activity. And everyone in between.

Unfortunately, it seems that Acting Director Hogan is more likely one of those folks who fall at the extreme hunter end of the spectrum. I see from his Deputy Director bio that he supports the previous director's "emphasis on traditional partners of the Service, including hunting, fishing and sportsmen's groups." What about other logical partners, who don't support hunting? Are they dismissed out of hand? Is this really the best person to put in charge, even if temporarily?

On a side note, I see that the Fish & Wildlife Service is cross-promoting drilling in ANWR by posting a link to the Dept. of the Interior's (of which FWS is a part) ANWR promotion page. 'Cause, you know, that makes sense for the department charged with protecting threatened and endangered plants and wildlife.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:39 AM
Tuesday, March 22, 2005

E-Mail Hoaxes 

These things are just making me nuts. But at least the ones that try to separate the readers from their money are getting publicized, so hopefully fewer idiots unwary recipients will fall for them. The ones of this type that I've been receiving lately (at all my various e-mail addresses) involve the assistant/son/conspirator of some deposed minister of some African nation currently (or not really) undergoing vague political turmoil and possibly actual tragedy. The author requests your assistance in laundering huge sums of cash ($30 million or so, usually) out of the country, in return for which you get to keep some specified large portion. Snopes has further details on the Nigerian variant.

Here now is my post of outrage, warning and general fed-uppedness at another type: the "forward this to everyone you know" e-mail. The motivations behind these vary, and include a desire to clog up large e-mail systems or a (perhaps misguided, perhaps not) desire to "get" some corporate or political target.

One of these came my way within the last hour, from The Girl. Whenever she receives one of these things, she immediately forwards it to me because she knows I'll get all ranty, geeky and high-horsed, and will do the tiny bit of research that's needed to (usually) completely discredit the statements. And if it turns out to be true (not usually the case, but it happens - although then it's often distorted at least somewhat), I'll let her know that as well.

Today it was the "Starbucks the Loser" e-mail, which is a heartfelt plea from a Marine sergeant for all American patriots to boycott Starbucks due to the corporation's supposed flat-out refusal to donate any coffee to caffeine-deprived soldiers on the grounds (yes, pun intended) that Starbucks "does not support the war, nor anyone in it." He then requests that anyone who agrees with him forward the e-mail to other like-minded people.

So yeah, I had my usual response:
This sounds like a load of crap created by some faux patriot who is motivated by a high school football team mentality and a strong desire to turn everyone who doesn't think the same way into an enemy. Starbucks is a thriving, successful business, and the people who manage the corporation realize what corporate suicide entails. Let me check for further information...

Oh, here we go:

Correction and an apology by the original writer of the e-mail, on TruthOrFiction.

More details from BoycottWatch, including the Starbucks letter to the misinformed Sergeant.

TruthMiners' analysis, including some helpful questions you should be asking when you receive e-mails like these.

It would be great if this additional information were to be sent back to each person who received the e-mail below.

Bottom line: the Marine who sent this originally was responding to something he heard from someone else (who probably heard it from someone else, etc.), and sent out the e-mail without doing even a minimal amount of research. He had no details such as the supposed original letter from Starbucks, any sort of follow up with Starbucks corporate, not even a name of someone involved in the original alleged denial of coffee. He just knee-jerk responded by calling for everyone to boycott Starbucks.

Once Starbucks contacted him themselves and explained that this interchange simply never happened, and that while they as a corporation donate only to 501(c)(3) nonprofits, public schools and libraries, many of their employees indeed do send out hundreds of pounds of coffee to soldiers oversees (Starbucks employees get a pound of coffee every week as a perk), the sergeant sent out an apology and correction e-mail to his original recipients. Yet nearly a year after this started, the follow-up gets no circulation - only the continued call to boycott Starbucks.
When you get some irate e-mail calling on you to do this or that, remember one word: google. Just do a simple online search (for this one, I searched on the following words: starbucks war), and you may have a quick answer to whether this is something on which you wish to act, or which you should simply highlight and click Delete.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:24 AM
Monday, March 21, 2005

Joss Whedon + Wonder Woman = Whoo-Hoo! 

MTV reports (link via Ms. Musings) that Joss Whedon has signed on formally to write and direct a big screen version of Wonder Woman.

The possibility of this project has been bounced around for years, including periodic speculation about who would make the best Wonder Woman.

Let the casting speculation recommence!!!

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 3:10 PM

The L Word - Labyrinth 

This week's episode contained the best scene of the series: Dana and Alice give in to temptation big time, with Finally playing in the background on the soundtrack. The Big Give In scene takes place at Dana's place, while Dana and Alice are preparing the guest gift bags for the upcoming bachelorette party. Exactly how long were Evil Tony and her Trashy Parents expected to be out, because baby, these two took it ALL over the house! This had to be the best, most funny, hottest, goofiest and longest sex scene of the series. We played it a couple of times on the Tivo. Unfortunately, it finally came to a close with the sounds of ET and TP's return, and everything went rapidly back into hiding.

The Big Give In scene was preceded by a brief but well-done scene in which Alice and Evil Tonya held a multi-layered debate on the relative virtues of chocolate penis pops vs. chocolate breast pops and which were more to Alice's likings. Dana finally intervened and escorted them out of the store.

The Big Give In scene was followed by the tearing asunder of Alice's heart at the bachelorette party, held at Planet Kit. First Dana's mom (who later seemed to be quite over her internalized homophobic avoidance of semi-naked women, judging by her enjoyment of the lap dance she received) gave a toast in which she gave her complete blessing to the Doomed Pairing of Dana and Evil Tonya, then by Evil Tonya forcing Alice to give her own toast to the Doomed Couple. My heart joined in the sundering when Alice's toast turned out to be an awkward but heartfelt testimony of how we don't appreciate people until they're no longer there, and she ended by declaring to Dana that "I love you." And we all know she didn't mean in the best friend kind of way.

Dana - come clean. Dump Evil Tonya and send her packing with her gold digging ways, declare your undying love to Alice and live openly and happily in life long bliss. What - too much to ask?

Of course Shane, seer of all things sexual, knew immediately upon Alice's entrance that The Big Give In had taken place. Alice tried to deny, but gave it up after about a millisecond.

In other scenes of torture, we have Bette. See Tina move into the guest room of the House of Desolation. See Bette glow. Happy Bette = Hot Bette. See Bette continue her controlling and manipulative habits. See Tina bristle. See Bette's Peabody funding terminated. See Tina get the largest Peabody grant of them all. See Bette make everything about herself. See Bette lash out. Angry, vindictive Bette = Very Unhot Bette.

See Helena Peabody arrive at Tina's Center for publicity. See Tina and Helena bat around some sparks. See Helena see what Bette has thus far been blind about. See Bette arrive to apologize. See Bette go ballistic and territorial. See Helena spill the beans about Tina's "weight gain." See Bette seek Shane for some girl talk, but end up bonding with Jenny. Turns out Jenny figured out the preggers situation, and doesn't understand how Bette could not have. See Bette admit what we all knew: "Because I'm the biggest, most blind asshole in the entire universe." Thank you, Bette. Now do something about that, would you?

See Tina cap it all off by bringing Helena to the bachelorette party, very much as her date. See Bette attempt to give a toast that will simultaneously plead her case to Tina. See Bette pretty much come off as the same wallowing self-pityer that she's been all season. "I wish that you spare each other pain, but if you fail, I wish you forgiveness."

Bette also briefly meets Charles Dutton, who apparently has helped Kit get way ahead in the business world. She's operating in the black and has paid off her loans in advance for the next several months. He tries to lure Bette into his TOE world, but she seems to know a big fake when she looks in the mirror. I mean, when she sees one.

In other news, Jenny's new Shane cut is pretty good. It's better when it's not unkempt, but still okay. She's enjoying her new status as a cruise object among lesbians on the street. Sadly, the camera still managed to find her seated thoughtfully at her desk, at which point The Girl and I both screamed, "Oh no! Not the writing scene!!!" Her carnival story is now titled "Monstrosity," which aptly describes any and all of Jenny's writing scenes. Everyone in her fantasy has a piggy face, and they all look on her "normal" face with a mix of fear, pity and disgust. Whatever. Oh, and she has long blonde hair in the fantasy.

We have a secondary story involving Shane's new job as Camryn Manheim's new semi-assistant. Camryn is totally disrespectful in how she talks to and physically handles Shane, but it's very funny. Today's task is for Shane to accompany Camryn on her quest to get the rights to the life story of a Russian former prostitute who stood up to the Russian mob and lived to tell the tale. Shane reluctantly bonds with her over own days of tricking in disguise as a boy (but she leaves out the gender specifics) in LA, and over hair styling. Russian emigree also wants to learn the fine art of hair styling, and gets Camryn (off camera) to write in a clause that she gets to assist Shane as part of the rights deal. Shane is not pleased.

Shane is still desperately trying to push Carmen and Jenny together, despite Carmen's admonition, "Don't try to hook me up." It's so clear that she's afraid of the knowledge that she will fall hard for Carmen if she lets her in, and perhaps already has fallen, and is hoping to move Carmen into the unavailable category by pairing her off with Jenny. At the bachelorette party Shane gives Jenny some tips on breaking the ice with Carmen (again), and the last we see Jenny and Carmen are dancing, while Shane takes some nameless hotty home to Casa di Heartbreakers.

Which brings me to the disgusto portion of the show. Filmmaker Mark and his sidekick Gruesome. Turns out Gruesome's day job is as a security guard, and he has a habit of recording and taking with him any X-rated footage the building's cameras happen to catch. This unfortunately also returned us to the world of gratuitous heterosex as the episode opener. Come on - you can get that stuff anywhere. Keep it off this show!!! At any rate, Mark has indeed decided that his new project will involve interviewing Shane and Jenny about their lives as lesbians. They initially scold him, then agree to a test interview, then end up walking out on him when he tries to goad them into an explicit explanation of how "fucking" is possible with two women. With Gruesome's encouragement, Mark decides to change his approach, and he plants 9 hidden cameras in Casa di Heartbreakers, including in the bedrooms.

Episode ends with Mark watching live action Shane demonstrating with her nameless hotty exactly what she meant about technique. Mark makes various revolting comments and gestures, and the episode closes with (hopefully) much of the viewing audience completely grossed out and holding on to the hope of the future episode in which Shane discovers Mark's slimeball actions and recruits the entire rest of the cast to inflict some form of ultimate humilation and ostracizing of this total asshole. And then boots him from the studio with no refund of his six months' advance rent payment or security deposit.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 1:35 PM
Sunday, March 20, 2005

Boston Parking Advice 

If you're thinking that Sunday morning would be a good day to drive into Boston, since the meters are free, think twice. Make sure the particular Sunday in question doesn't happen to coincide with the day of the South Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade and also with Palm Sunday.

As I drove round and round the general area of NESL, I spotted not only a dearth of parking spaces, but also many people either decked out in holiday green or carrying palms. After 45 minutes of futile searching, I ended up back on 93 North, and parked at the T station I normally utilize on weekends. Then I didn't have anything with me to read on the T, since when I packed my bag it was with the plan of driving to school.

My general plan when it comes to traveling in Boston is to take the T. On those rare occasions that I decide to drive, it never ends well. The next time this thought enters my head I must just remind myself, "That's the most idiotic fucking idea you've ever had. Stop it."

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 6:18 PM

Hitch 

Four thumbs up! Two from me, two from The girl. This is a chick flick that guys can enjoy as well. It's a basic romantic comedy, but it follows two main couples, plus the viewpoint is mostly from the male perspective on romance and dating (and how they either screw it up or are misunderstood and thereby blocked from succeeding, depending on your perspective). But it's not just straight guys who can identify with the "guy" side of the story, and not just straight women who can identify with the "girl" side of the movie. The actions attempted, approaches utilized, reactions brought forth and responses formed are those familiar to anyone on the dating spectrum. If you haven't performed or been subjected to one of these scenarios, a friend of yours has.

Will Smith is Alex Hitchens, aka The Dating Doctor. Some women choose to believe he's an urban myth, but in reality he is a successful but very secretive consultant who helps men not defeat themselves during the first few dates with the woman of their dreams. The idea is that after three dates, the women are less likely to read offense into actions or statements of the men, so the men can be themselves without self-termination by misunderstanding. After that, they're on their own.

Of course there has to be a wrench in Hitch's well-planned life, and it comes in the form of Eva Mendes as Sara, a jaded-on-love gossip columnist for whom Hitch falls - hard. Then there's his client Albert (Kevin James), a mild-mannered and rather goofy accountant who is convinced that his firm's fabulously wealthy celebrity client Allegra (Amber Valletta) is his soulmate. Allegra's celebrity puts her in the zoom lens of Sara, and hijinx ensue.

But the hijinx are well-written, well-acted, and include a number of well-placed Big Chase Scenes. My face was actually sore by the closing credits, from smiling for so long.

A classmate of mine recommended Hitch as fun for a matinee, but not worth full price. I disagree, and give this one a full price recommendation. But go to a matinee anyway, because it's not like you really get anything extra for paying full price, except less money in your wallet and more crowds with which to contend. But you get the idea.

Reality Check: The Girl loved it too. Plus, Hitch includes a couple of references to Jerry McGuire (one of her all time favorite movies), including a clip, which solidified a winning review.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 3:43 PM
Saturday, March 19, 2005

Catwoman 

We started watching this DVD last weekend, but we started it rather late and The Girl couldn't stay awake. My school schedule being what it is, we couldn't sit down together to finish it until last night.

I liked it. I'm glad we didn't pay current movie theater prices to see it, though. It's fun comic book fluff, and the CGI action was a little goofy. Remember the scenes of Huntress running and leaping across the rooftops of Gotham? Very similar. They may have used the same clips, in fact. The scene in the jewelry store, when Catwoman was running and leaping around the walls of the store, just ahead of the automatic weapon fire? Yeah, that was a little much as well. Would have worked for Spiderman (he has those cool microbarbed hands, after all), worked fabulously for Lara Croft (she was already hooked into her bungee ballet gear, so there you go), but nothing catlike would give Catwoman the ability to defy gravity for that long.

And Michelle Pfeiffer has ruined the "Meow" for anyone else, as far as I'm concerned (I do a fair imitation, but it's not the same). Halle's got the hiss down cold, though.

The writers' efforts to inject a feminist edge and a theme of self-actualization falls a little flat as well. Sharon Stone's Laurel Hedare was evil because she was trying to be something other than what she is, while Halle Berry's Catwoman was good, because she accepted who she is. Gee, let's see. I've been given powers that allow me to be confident, agile, quick as hell, unbeatable in a fight, able to leap off tall buildings with a single meow and live, and sexy to boot. Should I accept it - hand it over, Bud! Yeah, it was a tough choice.

(Caution: spoiler ahead). "Oh, but she must sacrifice other things, like long term happiness with the man of her dreams!" That bit was given no justification in the storyline. He was fine with who she is, she was fine with who he is, and they were damn fine together. It felt like they just tossed that in because she's supposed to be "dark," so she should walk off alone into the moonlight. (Spoiler portion over).

I know, I know, I opened this post by saying I liked it, then rambled on about all the crap things that bothered me. Give me a break - it's what I do.

I liked the character they built for Patience. She had a lot of depth, and her pre-Catwoman persona wasn't unbelievably inept or reclusive, but it was enough to be a strong contrast to her post-Catwoman behavior. I liked Benjamin Bratt's character and his contribution to the story. Although the technology in the police crime lab was a little over the top. I absolutely loved her loft apartment, although I'm not sure how she was affording it being a struggling artist with a crappy low level day job. It seemed to be in a really bad neighborhood, so that probably explains that. I loved, loved, loved her takedown of the Harley Party Dude across the alley. Who hasn't wanted to do that to their bullying neighbor?

But the best part was the way that Hally Berry turned into a cat. She just had the moves down so well when it was just her doing it, not some CGI enhancement. My favorite scene was when she was talking to Sally on the phone and just moving around her apartment like a cat would - jumping up on the counter with no effort, swatting at pretty shiny things, strolling across the back of the couch. It was perfect. The part where she woke up from a nap and found that she was curled up on a pillow on a shelf was good, too.

I think if they had stuck to the characters and the small details instead of blowing their budget on the grand scale (but in the end not very effective) CGI, it would have been a much better movie. If they'd had enough money to have really good effects, okay, but apparently they didn't.
And finally, let me say that Halle Berry did not deserve the Razzy for this one. She did a great job with what they gave her. And good on her for being such a good sport and showing up in person to accept it! But the director deserved his for what could have been a really good movie, and the effects crew should have gotten one as well. Sound mixing was a problem too - the action scene music was too loud and the dialogue too soft. We had to keep turning the volume up and down. No way this was the worst movie of the year, though.

Reality Check: The Girl hated didn't like it (she corrected me on this - "It wasn't as bad as Gigli, Magnolia, Eyes Wide Shut or Mulholland Drive."). For some reason the thing that seemed to push it over the edge for her was the sexy rooftop walk in the crazy ripped up leather pants after Patience had apparently accepted her Catwoman side. Okay, the ripped up pants were a little much, but... Meow.


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Posted by Beth Henderson at 7:23 AM
Friday, March 18, 2005

Terri Schiavo 

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay today described the proposed feeding tube removal from Terri Schiavo as an act of "barbarism."

He for some reason didn't feel the same way about subpoenas that have been issued from both the House and the Senate, ordering Terri Schiavo's appearance before congressional committee hearings. For my part, that is more barbaric than anything her husband is requesting.

What purpose is served by transporting a severely brain damaged woman, who has been in a persistent vegetative state for nearly 15 years, from Florida and into the halls of Congress, apparently to be displayed as a visual aid for those arguing that she needs to be protected, and that Republican senators are the ones best able to make medical decisions for her?

The underlying intention behind this maneuver is widely held to be an attempt to circumvent the current legal status of the case, which is that the feeding tube can be removed. Oh no, says Congress. She's been requested to appear before us, so removing that tube would be tampering with a federal witness.

How is this anything but an exploitation of this woman?

If it works this time, perhaps conservative legislators should consider this type of action on a wider scale. Require any woman considering an abortion to appear before Congress, and issue a second subpoena to the fetus. Schedules are pretty full, though, so the hearing won't likely be scheduled for at least 6 months. Oh well - can't interfere with a federal witness.

Think your gay neighbors are thinking of tying the knot? Convince your Representative to issue subpoenas, specifying the witness as "Bob Neighbor, a single man." Then no one better dare interfere with Bob Neighbor's current status.

Want to put a moratorium on the use of frozen embryos in any type of medical research? Subpoena every last one of 'em! They'll be able to provide as much testimony as Terri Schiavo can, so why not? Round 'em up, bring 'em in!

On a side note, I see from this detailed legal timeline of the case, Schiavo's parents in January requested a new trial on the grounds that the Pope's declaration that euthanasia is a sin has a legal bearing on the case. I wonder how "don't talk international law to me" Justices Scalia and Thomas would react to that one? It sure would give a boost to those who describe the Ten Commandments and the Judeo-Christian tradition as being the basis for our entire legal system. It does appear that shortly after that attempt, the parents switched to a more appropriate strategy of seeking time to see if new therapies would be able to reverse some of the brain damage.

These events can end no way but tragically, no matter what happens in the next few hours. I only hope that this woman is not subjected to the further loss of dignity that would result from being put on the road and then on display in the nation's capitol.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 2:43 PM

St. Patrick's Day Predictions Realized 

On my way to the library yesterday, and during my trip across the street to Starbucks before class, there really didn't seem to be too many drunken revelers lurching around. I was wrong - they were just mostly still inside City Place drinking (here's a guide to City Place, including NESL's location across the street).

Latte in hand as I headed to the curb to cross Stuart Street, I was approached by a guy who at first glance when he called to me I assumed was going to ask for money, but who then asked me where Congress Street was. I stopped briefly to tell him, then started to continue, but he very politely followed up with an apology for troubling me further, "But I'm looking for..." As I paused again, he launched into his prepared speech about what his name is and he doesn't want to bother me but he's homeless but polite, and he's not going to hurt or bother me, blah, blah, blah and the whole time I can smell his booze breathe just wafting over me, so I cut off all his preface and asked what he's looking for. "Something to eat, a sandwich, can you help me out?"

I turned around and walked away. The booze breath had primed me for walking away, but the assurance that he wasn't going to hurt me really pressed the accelerator. If you want someone to feel comfortable talking to you, it's probably not a good idea to bring the possibility of violence into the conversation at any level. I'm surprised he hadn't thought of that, since he'd clearly worked on his pitch. The distraction of asking for a street location was brilliant - many more people will stop to give a quick pointer than when they're being accosted for funds.

Anyway, back over on the other side of Stuart Street, I noticed there were many more available carrels than usual in the library, and the Student Lounge was practically deserted. The same was true when I got to the classroom a little on the early side. A few minutes before class started, more groups arrived from their modest revelry at the various bars in the Theater District. There were still a lot of empty seats though. As the class progressed it became clear that at least a couple of people had perhaps engaged in more than modest revelry but hadn't had the good sense not to show up to class. About a half hour into class, Homer got up from his seat and practically ran out of the room, not to return for at least 15 minutes. Once he got back, I noticed his face was quite red, and he was doing that deep-breathing hurl prevention technique. One other guy left the room for about 10 minutes. His departure was at a slower pace, but he seemed to have that concentrated carefulness about him that perhaps indicated he was trying really hard not to appear at all intoxicated.

But we made it through with no projectile fluids, and I headed down the hall to the MSA-OUTLaws Movie Night showing of The Wedding Banquet. Fun movie, great group of people in attendance, and good food (crab rangoon - yum!) from New Shanghai.

Then I re-emerged onto Stuart Street at 10 pm to make my way home on the T. Oy. First there were charter buses full of gregarious youths offloading right next to the school (perhaps heading to Blue Man Group?), so I had to weave my way through them. Then there were groups of two or three either making their way home from a bar or heading to another one, but it wasn't too bad. Quite a few at the T station, certainly more than a typical Thursday night, but not as bad as I had anticipated.

Until the train pulled into North Station.

I could hear the whooping and hollering on the platform before the train had even come to a complete stop. The doors opened, and they flowed onto the train, filling it to capacity. I had the extra pleasure of having a passionate couple in their late teens or early 20's stand right in front of my seat and paw each other nonstop. And lucky me - they and many of the other partiers got off at my stop. Yay! Then I had to avoid them in their cars as well.

But I made it home without incident (other than steering clear of the honking carloads of drunks - the police should just park near the garage exits if they wanted to keep drunk drivers off the roads). I'm hoping the other people did as well. But I wouldn't give odds on it.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:42 AM

Friday Random Ten - Highs & Lows of Love Edition 

Here we go - it's Friday!!! About freaking time, too. Hook up the MP3 player, hit random/shuffle, and list the first 10 songs that pop up. Log 'em here, and at the blog of the host of this weekly musical extravaganza, feministe.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:37 AM
Thursday, March 17, 2005

Evacuation Day 

The streets of Boston weren't entirely deserted this morning, but they were certainly lightly traveled in the early hours of Evacuation Day. But that will all change as the day wears on and the actual reason behind this county holiday becomes apparent. It's Saint Patrick's Day.

Yes, March 17th is a Suffolk County (which is largely Boston, but also includes Chelsea, Winthrop and Revere) holiday - schools, public offices, etc. are all closed. The premise is that it's a celebration of the evacuation of the British fleet from Boston Harbor in 1776, in response to the appearance and installation of cannons on Dorchester Heights. These were the cannons captured at Fort Ticonderoga and hauled down by Col. Henry Knox (I grew up with a namesake descendant of his, who frequently got to participate in the re-enactment events), and then set in place under the supervision of Gen. George Washington. Okay, so the fleet actually left town on March 26, but it's close enough to justify closing the town in order for the St. Patrick's Day festivities to proceed unimpeded.

This year the city of Revere received special permission from the Legislature to remain open on both Evacuation Day and Bunker Hill Day, because of the high number of snow days this winter.

Sen. Ted Kennedy decided not to meet this year with Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, breaking with an annual tradition since 1998, and instead met yesterday with the McCartney sisters, who have been in the news quite bit of late for their protests against what has become to be viewed as the thug mentality of at least some members of the IRA, one casualty of which was their brother Robert, who was beaten to death at a pub popular with IRA members.

Personally, I'm at work as usual, will be in class this evening, and then will be attending a movie night showing of The Wedding Banquet, cosponsored by NESL OUTLaws and the NESL Minority Students Association. I do anticipate a larger than usual number of drunken revelers on the T by the time I'll be leaving school at 10 pm.

The actual parade for St. Patrick's Day will be held on Sunday in South Boston. But don't look for any GLBT groups participating - No Gays Allowed.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:40 AM
Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Shocking News! Bush Against Marriage for Gays! 

Just in case anyone forgot, President Bush is against gay people marrying each other (although to be fair, he probably wouldn't object to a sham marriage between a gay man and a lesbian), and is in favor of writing his opinion into the US Constitution.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:19 PM

Queer Eye or Straight Guy? 

When you discuss Bravo's show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, if you indeed discuss it, do you use a shorthand reference? The Girl and I simply call it "Queer Eye," as do our friends, both straight and gay. I've heard the Fab Five referred to as the "Queer Eye Guys."

But The Guyfriend tells me that recently our local CBS affiliate, WBZ4, apparently decided that they just couldn't bring themselves to use the word "queer" during a local newscast. Five notoriously shaggy Boston Red Sox players are getting Queer Eye makeovers, and filming began this Monday. It's news of note for a Boston station when Doug Mirabelli (click here for a photo of him with Carson Kressley), Johnny Damon (no, he won't be cutting his trademark locks - he's under contract to keep his coif long because of his book deal), Kevin Millar, Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek are putting themselves in the hands of the gay fashion, style, grooming, cuisine and decor gurus, so it's understandable that WBZ would mention it during the local news.

However, the newscaster referenced the cast as being "The Fab Five, from Straight Guy." Straight Guy? Who calls this show Straight Guy? Even the show's logo emphasizes the "queer eye" portion of the title. A feature of the show is the "Queer Eye Hip Tips." Not the Straight Guy Hip Tips. The Straight Guys on the show are simply the canvas on which the Fab Five apply their fashionable gay artistry.

What was the hangup? Did the news announcer (sorry, I don't know who it was) balk at saying "queer" on air? Was it a fear of offending gay people or of being somehow associated with gay people? Was it reticence to put the word "queer" in such close proximity to the words "Red Sox?" Was it simply a matter of not wanting to reference directly another network's show (Bravo is owned by NBC)? If this last was the case, then why do the story at all? Oh yeah, because it's the Red Sox. Were they afraid that children might be watching the news, and that they might be confused, curious or even influenced by the word? How do you explain "Straight" without comparison to its opposite?

Well, guess what? If the Red Sox organization and the participating players are okay with BEING ON the show with the Queer Eye Guys, maybe it wouldn't really have been too damaging for the newscaster to use the show's name. I wonder what Buster would think?

Programming Note: The episode will be the season opener for Queer Eye, on June 7, and proceeds from the episode will be used towards rebuilding a hurricane damaged Little League field in the Ft. Myers area.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:46 AM
Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith 

The Guyfriend got his hands on the full trailer for the upcoming Star Wars installment - it looks so freaking cool! Very dark, very dramatic. Total opposite of that smurfy aberration, The Phantom Menace.

Release has been set for May 19. Hmm, exams will be over by then.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 2:37 PM

Mercury Day at EPA 

The EPA will be releasing their new regulations today regarding mercury emissions from power plants. The proposed rules met with many objections that the coal industry was largely calling the shots and that politics rather than science were the guiding force.

More information on mercury and the EPA can be found on EPA's mercury site. As of right now it hasn't been updated to reflect the final regulations being promulgated, but you can link to the proposed rules, public comments, etc., and I'm sure they'll have it updated shortly with the final regs.

Note also that a couple of weeks ago a new study was published which showed high levels of mercury in mountain dwelling birds in Vermonth. Prior to this study it was assumed that these birds would not have been affected by mercury pollution, as the focus has been on fish which accumulate mercury over time from polluted waters, and which then impact the food chain. These mountain birds are out of that particular branch of the chain, and it is thought that their contamination came from mercury particulates that settled on leaves, which are then consumed by insects, which are then consumed by birds.

Also of note to anyone interested in EPA and other federal agency regulations is Regulations.gov, a portal through which you can access proposed regulations which are currently open for public comment, and you can then submit your own comments through the site. It's really cool (if you're a legal geek - so, yeah, I think it's really cool) in that you can view regs by agency, by topic, by a display of regs published for comment today (be the first!), by a display of regs for which comments are due today (get in those last minute statements), or by a keyword search. You can then view the full text of the proposed reg in either PDF or HTML format. Each reg listing includes information on how to submit comments by mail or in person, plus if you click on the "Submit a Comment on This Regulation" heading to the section, you can see whether or not you can submit comments electronically.
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UPDATE (8:05 pm): EPA hasn't yet updated their mercury site, but they have updated the home page to include links to the new rule page and their press release about the regulations.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:36 AM
Monday, March 14, 2005

Temperature Regulator 

Around 7:30 the cold air starts blowing in our classroom, and it becomes icier and icier as the evening goes along. My Monday classes are until 9:40, so it gets bad. People have taken to bringing their coats along to put on partway through the evening. I unfortunately, brought no extra layers with me. Dammit.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:46 PM

The L Word - Lynch Pin 

Is it just me, or did last night's episode rock? Other than the brief little glimpse into Jenny's psycho carnival writing, everything just moved along, was entertaining, advanced the storylines, and elicited a variety of emotional responses. Such as:

Shane and Alice both got slight hairstyle changes. I like Shane's, but not so sure about Alice's.

Those roommate interviews were horrifying! But Shane's dismissal of Exodus girl was superb. "There it is." (points to door) "Here, I'll show you." (opens the door)

Since when are Jenny and Shane so physical? With each other, I mean. I don't recall Shane draping herself all over any of her other friends. And what is with this psychodance they're doing with poor hot Carmen? Shane - get over your issues and let Carmen in. She's so clearly into you, and it's killing you to keep her out like that. Jenny - go get your own. Open your eyes to the drama of others, instead of just picking the lint out of your own dramatic navel.

Awful Attorney - BACK OFF, BITCH!!!!! Even when she was just standing there eating her maki rolls and pickled ginger, she just oozed ethical boundary crossing and serious manipulativeness. I was horrified when she tried forcing herself on the clearly unwilling Tina, and cheered when Tina pushed her away with a total disgusto look. So now we've seen her pack up and leave the Guest House of Bar Association Banishment, but where will she go? Will she return to Alice's Apartment Complex of Complication? Or back to the House of Desolation (aka Bette & Tina's house)? Of course, that should be renamed the House of Hot Pool Parties, after the party at Casa di Heartbreakers spilled over for a midnight naked swim.

Freaky Filmmaker Mark - First impression: seems cool. A little intrusive with the filming the roommate interview and all, but okay. Later impression: dude - you're trying to get insight into gay women by talking to Jenny? Bad instincts. But I think it had a good effect on Jenny, since she's now getting a hair makeover by Shane. The Girl was quite disappointed that we didn't get to see the finished product, even in the previews. Final impression, based on previews: bad, bad Mark. Try as hard as you might, you can't justify what you're doing.

Doesn't the garage/gardening shed/studio seem a lot bigger now that Mark's living there? It looks more like a spacious loft.

Bette - Come back to the light. How old is that woman - 20? Clean up your act and get thee back to Tina. You say you want to make it better - getting drunk and picking up strangers probably isn't the best way to accomplish that particular goal. And that was incredibly low, telling Helena Peabody that "My partner and I are trying to start a family," in order to activate the lesbo-bonding card. You're better than that. And Helena: focus. Work. Family. Work. Family. Where were the kids for the two days you hadn't seen them, anyway?

Alice, Dana, Tonya - Who dresses like that for a trip to the amusement park? And why-oh-why couldn't Tonya have seen Dana planting a big one on Alice? Dana - you can't put up a wall between you and Alice, while simultaneously putting up a wall between Alice and the rest of the world. Ms. Fairbanks - Tear down that wall!

Kit - You have my blessing to pursue Charles Durning. He's so cool. I have my doubts about the character, who has a bit of charlatan aura about him. But it's Charles Durning! I hated that he immediately brought out the negative connotations of the various self-identified animals, and then saved the positive connotations for himself to add to the interpretation. Maybe the people doing the identifying already thought of the positive attributes, and you sliced them up by bringing up the negative ones. One question - Pear Polenta Tarts? I'm not sure whether I'm intrigued or appalled at the concept.

Camryn Manheim - Really. What a bitch. But a fabulously portrayed bitch. Take the job Shane - you need the money! Just don't compromise your bitingly honest analyses.

Next week: Tina's grant wins Peabody funds, but Bette thinks it's Helena winning Tina's affections. She's clueless when it comes to Tina's business activities, and Tina's pregnancy. But that will be changing next week. Mark decides to plant "respectful" hidden cameras in Casa di Heartbreakers, to gain insight into the lesbian lifestyle. Tonya finally walks in on some serious wall-breaking. Yay!!!!!

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:28 AM
Friday, March 11, 2005

Which L Word Character Are You? 

From divine madness comes the newest Quizilla exercise to be featured here: Which L Word Character Are You?

bette
You are BETTE! You've got an established career, a significant other, and ethnicity that no one can define. You're also fairly hot!

Which Character from The L Word are You???
brought to you by
Quizilla

I have mixed feelings about this. I'm willing to be Bette as long as it's Bette before she started being a total asshole. Pre-asshole Bette was definitely someone I would have aspired to be. Now, not so much. Unless she gets over her pity party and makes it right with Tina.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 2:48 PM

Everybody Got Their Something 

Continuing on this week's trend of posts with little gravity, I announce my new favorite song of sass: Everybody Got Their Something, by Nikka Costa.

I have it from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Radio Sunnydale CD, but you can also get it as the title track of Nikka Costa's Everybody Got Their Something.



It's got a great beat to which you can stomp or slink (depnding on your mood), a chorus that hooks you, and it's just fun, dammit! And it's a great car dancing song.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 1:31 PM

Friday Random Ten - Time For Change Edition 

It's Friday once more, so that means it's time to set your MP3 player to Random, Shuffle, or whatever your models calls it, and list the first 10 songs it plays for you. Hosted by feministe.

Today my tunes seem to be pointing toward change in the air.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:30 AM

New York Undercover 

My sister sent me a lovely black turtleneck sweater yesterday, which I'm wearing today tucked into blue jeans, with a black leather belt, black Doc Marten's and my funky geeky black framed glasses. I'm told I look very New York. Or Cambridge. But New York sounds more chic, so I'm going with that.

Usually I look more garage band grunge, so it's a change.

Now off to feed the 12-hour parking meter. No, I haven't been at work for that long already today. The meter stopped registering the change after it reached 2 hours, 24 minutes. It was the last 12-hour meter, and I didn't want to forfeit the 2.5 hours I had already paid for (actually I paid for 4.5 hours before I noticed the malfunction). So off I go to either move it or feed it.

But I look marvelous.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:54 AM
Thursday, March 10, 2005

State Experience 

Here's a twist on the "highlight the states you've been to" map. This one's just a listing, with the state names formatted according to whether you've never been there (plain), been there (bold), lived there (underline) and where you are now (italics). Link via Magic Cookie.

bold the states you've been to, underline the states you've lived in and italicize the state you're in now...

Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C /

Go HERE to have a form generate the HTML for you.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:03 AM

Pain in the Neck 

I stayed home from work yesterday with a stiff neck, no doubt exacerbated by all the icy snow we've had of late. The good news is that I finished Unity, and am now halfway through the first of the two Left Hand of Destiny Books. I might make it through the stack o'books after all!

The bad news is that I can't see my chiropractor until late tomorrow morning.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:37 AM
Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Spring Break Literary Diversions 

You may have guessed from the decidedly nonacademic tone of recent posts that NESL is currently on Spring Break. As usual, I had planned on doing all sorts of class-related readings during this downtime, but also as usual, I've succumbed to the call of the fluff.

Over the Winter Recess between semesters, I plowed through all four of the Star Trek: DS9 Mission Gamma books, concluding with Lesser Evil. And yes, that is Ro Laren on the cover.


I really enjoyed them, so later on during that break when The Girl and I were at Barnes & Noble in Framingham, I went hunting for the next books in the DS9 series. I picked up about 7 subsequent books, but the one book that immediately followed Mission Gamma was out of stock. Of course I couldn't just plow ahead out of sequence, so they have been sitting on a shelf since then.

Saturday at Providence Place I successfully located the missing link in the series, Rising Son.


Just in time for Spring Break! On a side note, during the shopping trip at Borders at Providence Place, there were the usual assortment of geeks in the sci-fi section, and I made the standard brief eye contact and nod of the head at the one other female geek, then moved on with my shopping. Once I found Rising Son, I went over to the CD section to assist The Girl in locating her selections. Once that was done, I suggested that she head over to the cashiers, while I would go collect The Creeping Unknown. I found her over in sci-fi, having a roundtable discussion with a a few male sci-fi geeks about various authors and literary series. They appeared quite enthused to be chatting with an attractive yet totally geeky chick. I started Rising Son on Sunday, finished it last night, and started in on Unity.


Technically, the two-book set Left Hand of Destiny were written before Unity, but they cover a different storyline, while Unity picks up the storyline I've been reading. They'll be next.


These books pick up after the series finale of Deep Space Nine, and adhere well to the storylines and characters as they had developed over time. There have also been a couple of lesbian characters who are treated with nonchalance, which is a bonus. I'd probably be further along in Unity, but I've driven to work both days this week so I haven't had the riding-the-T time to read. Any bets on whether I'll get through the whole stack by the end of break?

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 2:21 PM