Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I'll Have Some of This, and Some of That... 

Courtesy of soxfan comes the online Book Quiz. Based on a few (very few) brief questions, I have been distilled to the following:




You're Siddhartha!

by Hermann Hesse

You simply don't know what to believe, but you're willing to try anything once. Western values, Eastern values, hedonism and minimalism, you've spent some time in every camp. But you still don't have any idea what camp you belong in. This makes you an individualist of the highest order, but also really lonely. It's time to chill out under a tree. And realize that at least you believe in ferries.


Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.



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Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:08 AM

Working Hard to Welcome Hetero Homogeneity 

Did you see that movie Awakenings, with Robin Williams and Robert De Niro? Williams is a doctor with a number of post-encephalitis catatonic patients on his ward, whom he treats with anti-tremor meds. His theory is that their catatonic states are like a tremor that is so severe that the muscles have completely seized up.

That's how I feel whenever I read a news item or hear an NPR report on something about Pres. Bush. I get all heated up and ready to blog, but then I read or hear more, or explore related topics to get additional information, and I just get so tremulous that I seize up and can't go near the keyboard. Can't even begin to formulate an adequate response. So it passes uncommented. Perhaps that's his strategy - he gets everyone who agrees with him all riled up in their ecstasy, while at the same time so infuriating everyone else that we're apoplectic and can't respond.

I almost let myself get into this state this morning, but I swore that I'd fight through it and put something out here. First I saw a Yahoo news headline, "Bush unveils new Iraq strategy document." I think to myself, "Oh, he's finally decided that his strategy of simply making declarations that it's the right thing to do, and that since we've already started down the road it would be horrible to adapt to unanticipated outcomes because that would send the wrong signal is perhaps in need of some tweaking?" So I go on over to the article to see what this new strategy is.

The article reveals that the White House has released a 35-page document titled "Our National Strategy for Victory in Iraq."

Excuse me? All this in a tidy 35-page document with a title that sounds like it was written as part of an eighth grade social studies project? Guess it's taken this long to come up with a strategy because they were working on paring it down to the essentials. You know the saying - "Sorry for such a long letter, I didn't have time to write a short one."

I tried to find the text of the grand strategy, but although Scott McLellan said yesterday that it would be posted on the White House website by early this morning, it doesn't appear to be there yet. I'll keep checking. [UPDATE: They've now posted not only the document, but a whole page devoted to it, titled "Renewal in Iraq."]

Further in the article it mentions that Bush will be making an address at the US Naval Academy today, during which he will attempt to bolster support for the war. Well, that just reminded me of another article I saw yesterday about how the US Naval Academy Alumni Association has once again rebuffed requests from USNA OUT, an organization of gay and lesbian alums of Annapolis. In the past the Alumni Association has refused to give the group standing as part of the official alumni association, with the rationale that all the other chapters are geographically based. Another argument is that USNA OUT is a special interest group that would exclude others. Not so, responded USNA OUT, we're open to all alums and as of last year they already had at least one straight member. In yesterday's article they noted that in addition to the official geographically-based chapters, the Alumni Association also recognizes an official chapter of RV-owning alums. Isn't that a special interest group, and don't they fear that owners of more ecologically sound vehicles might feel excluded?

At every opportunity, the Alumni Association has emphasized their "commitment to diversity and inclusiveness." So now USNA OUT has requested that the Association include an anti-discrimination policy in its by-laws. The Association has refused:

Skid Heyworth, a spokesperson for the Alumni Association tells WBAL television that the policy statement is not needed.

"We are an inclusive organization. We have been an inclusive organization ever since the alumni association was founded," he said.

Heyworth said that Petrie has already been told by Adm. Carlisle A.H. Trost (retired), the chairman of the board that "adding a clause into our bylaws would be unnecessary and would not better define who we are and what we stand for," Heyworth said.


Sounds like a play out of the President's playbook. We don't need to put a policy into writing because we say we don't discriminate. We're working hard to include everyone. That's why we don't want these gay folk setting themselves apart - the poor straight alums might feel left out and want their own club. Dude, guess what - the straight alums OWN the club.

So he's speaking at the Naval Academy today. Wonder who's side he would take on the issue? For more on that, let's take a look at his comments at yesterday's benefit luncheon for Colorado Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave. You know Rep. Musgrave - author of the Musgrave Amendment, otherwise known as the Federal Marriage Amendment. Otherwise known as the "All Americans are equal, but some are more equal than others and deserve to have their committed relationships recognized, while others are abominations and should have any legally sanctioned recognition abolished Act."

So our president spoke at a fundraiser for the distinguished gentlewoman - wonder what he had to say? Fortunately for us, his remarks have been published on the White House website. I decided to peruse it, see what he had to say, see if it's anything new, and see if he would still express support for the FMA.

Let's see... Oh yeah, here are some quotes demonstrating his usual themes:

I appreciate Marilyn because she's a hard worker. [He just loves hard workers, like "Heckuva job, Brownie"]

I know she cares about the people of Colorado because every time I see her she says, I want to remind you about the values that are important in Colorado. [Yep, here come the family values]

She's not only a hard worker, she brings common-sense values to Washington, D.C. And that's a town that needs some common-sense values. In order to keep this country safe, in order to keep this country strong, we need people like Marilyn Musgrave in the United States Congress. [Got to save the country from those people who don't have "family values." Sounds like Rick Santorum's message, equating marriage equality with terrorism]

Nothing like somebody in the Congress who loves her family and who understands the importance of family values. And that's Marilyn Musgrave. [Ah, those family values]

But most of all, I want to thank you all for working hard to get this good person back in Congress. We got a lot to do up there. [Workin' hard, people, workin' hard]

We believe in the freedom of people to worship and speak their mind, the freedom of the press to print what they want. They believe in the opposite. [speaking of the unnamed enemy in the Middle East. Of course, the first amendment also protects the freedom not to worship, or to worship differently from the mainstream, or to worship in the same church but not share the divisive ideology that excludes those who don't share every single of your ideas. But no, in this dichotomy-loving administration, "You're either with us or you're against us." You either share his definition of family values or you're a threat to America]

They have stated openly their desire to do to Iraq what they did to Afghanistan, to convert that country into a safe haven so they can plan, plot and attack. We will defeat the enemy in Iraq. We will do our job to protect the American people. [Oh, so it's not because of WMD's, it's because of a declaration that "they" are going to repeat "what they did in Afghanistan," which leads the listener to associate Iraq with al Qaeda, and Iraq with 9/11 - when there is NO CONNECTION]

And in a time of war, it's important to support those who wear the uniform, the men and women who are courageous enough to volunteer for the United States military. Marilyn is a strong supporter for our troops, and that's important. [There's a difference between supporting a misguided policy and supporting the military personnel who are stuck with the job of enacting it]

Marilyn also understands what I know, is that we've got a strategy for victory in Iraq. [Important plug for today's release of "Our National Strategy for Victory in Iraq." See, Marilyn is smart because she understands that what the president "knows" is inherently the truth. Because he's workin' hard.]

Listen, these people -- the mothers in Iraq are like the mothers here in Colorado; they want to raise their child in a free and peaceful society. And they've got citizens willing to sacrifice for that free and peaceful society. [Oh, this is just too much. The US won't even keep official numbers on the number of Iraqi civilians killed in this action, but he's going to tout Iraqi mothers as being willing to sacrifice their children for the sake of Our National Strategy? I'm willing to bet there are a lot more Iraqi Cindy Sheehans than Marilyn Musgraves.]

Oh, I know there's some in Washington that have said, get out of Iraq now. They're wrong. Precipitous withdrawal of our troops would send the wrong signal to our own troops, send the wrong signal to the enemy, and send the wrong signal to people around the world who watch the commitment of the United States. [There's that "wrong signal" tactic again. Plus the requisite statement that "they" are wrong, without any actual support for this determination]

We're going to stop catch and release by expanding the number of detention beds. We got people working hard down there. They're finding people trying to sneak into the country, and sure enough, shortly after they get detained, they're back in society again. And so we're going to increase the amount of detention space and work on expedited removal. [Touting his new immigration policies. See, we're going to stop letting the little fish, I mean the illegal immigrants go after we hook them. We're going to put them in jail. Then we'll expedite their removal. But wait - doesn't that mean "release?" But he's workin' hard, so it's okay]

Finally, I feel strongly that in order to have a good and secure border, we got to differentiate between those who are here to work and those who are here to bring criminal -- to provide -- to do criminal activities. Listen, we got people coming into this country to do the jobs Americans won't do. It seems like to me it makes sense to have a willing worker be able to work with a willing employer on a temporary basis. [See, if these illegal fish want to work hard, then it's okay - bring 'em on in! Of course, in many cases it's not actually that Americans aren't willing to do the work, it's that the employers aren't willing to meet American government regulations on workplace safety, compensation and taxation, so they employ illegal immigrants who can't complain because they'd be risking deportation]

But wait, that last paragraph wasn't the real "finally," despite his having said so. He saved the best for last. You know you were waiting for it: I'm also proud of the fact that she stands up for values that she thinks important. It's really important for the United States of America to promote a culture of life, to be a welcoming society -- to recognize the value of each person. Marilyn is a strong supporter of developing a culture of life. And she's a strong supporter of the sanctity of marriage -- who supported a constitutional amendment to make sure that activist judges do not redefine traditional marriage. And I'm proud of your support of that important piece of legislation, Marilyn. And the people of this district ought to send her back to Washington, D.C. because she shares the same values as most people in Colorado.

There it is. It just wouldn't be a complete luncheon address without advocating a welcoming society that bars marriage equality and promotes the sanctity of marriage. Well, for those who meet the criteria of those who worship as he and Marilyn do. Wait - what was that first amendment thing? Something about church - state - separate? But it's okay, because this is a welcoming society. Like the US Naval Academy Alumni Association. It's all about not bowing to special interests that want to separate themselves from the rest of society.

No, wait. It's sounds a little bit like we gay folk actually want to join in society, want to make a legal commitment to family, for better or worse.

See how it goes? It's enough to make you walk away from the keyboard. But we've got to make that sacrifice and work hard to speak out. Workin' hard, people, workin' hard.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:08 AM
Tuesday, November 29, 2005

When Bloggers Collide 

I've had a few occasions now where my blog world has collided with my real life world. At last year's Oscar Party (to mark my favorite holiday) I was able to introduce a few bloggers who had previously only met through their posts and comments. Several bloggers were in attendance at our wedding this summer. Howard Bashman was one of the participants in the moot court portion of BC's recent conference on Rumsfeld v. FAIR.

A couple of weeks ago I attended an ACS regional student leadership conference at Harvard Law - fabulous day, by the way. Thanks for asking. Anyway, much of it was networking, so we were working on our schmoozing skills. Over lunch several of us discussed how it would be a great workshop to have - how to introduce yourself to people and get the conversation started at these networking things. Anyway, at the evening reception while we were waiting for Barney Frank to arrive and give his speech, I was working on my skills. I'm fine once I'm in a conversational setting, but I need work on the introduction and getting the ball rolling part. You know, when it seems that everyone is already chatting merrily in little groups, and you find yourself circling, looking for an opening. I'm working on it.

So I targeted a small group of people with whom I had not yet chatted during the conference, moved into their circumference, smiled, said hello and waited for a break in the conversation in which I could introduce myself. We all had nametags listing our names (obviously) and our schools. The woman next to me was being targeted for conversation monopoly by this frat house looking guy, and I figured out that they had just discovered they attended the same undergraduate school at the same time, and the guy was energetically going on about people and activities, etc. The woman appeared to have reached her max on the subject and was hoping for an out, but he wouldn't stop. Then I noticed that she was periodically glancing over at my name tag, then up at my face with a look that indicated she was about to ask me something, but just then Frat Boy would come up with the name of some other person or party or something, and draw the conversation back to himself. Finally she sprung at an opening, turned to me and said hesitatingly, "Do I read your blog?" I wasn't sure I heard her correctly, so I said, "I'm sorry - what was that?"

"Do I read your blog? Are you Rogue Slayer Law Student?"

*Pause, stunned* "Yes! Magic Cookie?"

Yes, turns out it was none other than chickenmagazine, accompanied by her husband Jugwine, authors of Magic Cookie. We had exchanged a couple of e-mails at the start of the semester, and she recognized my real life name on the tag. She was the only blogger I knew of at Harvard Law that is also a reader of my blog and would know my real name, so that's how I was able to hazard a guess. We had quite a nice chat.

Then today I was checking my e-mail and had a couple of notes relating to my new distraction, Athena's Web, which is the Bryn Mawr alum version of friendster. It's way cool - if you're an alum, surf on over and register. I'm registered in the groups for my class, for LGBTQ, for Law Students and for Harry Potter Afficionados. Those of us in the LGBTQ group are quite tickled that we're the largest group, currently with 128 members. Following up is Young Alums at 108 and Writing/Editing at 104. I've already heard from a couple of long-lost friends. Over the years I've been bad about keeping in touch, but I've found that I'm much better at it now. But back to the bloggers collide point of the post - one of the e-mails was from fellow blogger and Mawrter, Mirandala. Such fun!

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:46 AM
Monday, November 28, 2005

Dude, I'm Green Lantern! 

Props to chickenmagazine at Magic Cookie for the time-sucking activity that is not related at all to studying or writing papers... I mean, for the cool online quiz.
**********************************************************************
You are Green Lantern
Green Lantern

80%
Spider-Man

75%
Robin

73%
The Flash

65%
Superman

60%
Iron Man

60%
Hulk

50%
Supergirl

48%
Wonder Woman

38%
Batman

35%
Catwoman

20%
Hot-headed. You have strong
will power and a good imagination.

Click here to take the "Which Superhero are you?" quiz...

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:09 PM

It's Not What You Say... 

...It's how you say it, as I reminded myself as I was wishing I could retract and rephrase something I had just said to a classmate friend of mine. We were packing up from our second to last Wills, Estates and Trust class, from which we got out a few minutes early to fill out the end of semester evaluations. She seemed to be in a particular hurry, so I asked if she was heading home, or if she had another class. She responded, "No, I have a date!"

This friend started in the evening division while working full time days, but this semester transferred to the day division, and is now working part time days while commuting from Worcester. I couldn't imagine finding time to meet date material, let alone actually go out on one on a school/work night, so I responded, "Wow! How the hell did THAT happen?"

Fortunately she did laugh as she looked aghast and told me that was really mean, but she understood when I explained that I just didn't know how she found the time to meet someone, not that she was a big undatable loser, which she definitely is not.

Turns out she was especially eager for tonight's date because it is to take place at his house, and on the schedule is viewing Love, Actually. I said, "Ooo - romantic..." to which she enthusiastically said, "I know!!!!!" "Kind of a chick flick," I remarked. "Yep - gotta love the guys who can do chick flicks!" "Okay, have fun. And be safe!"

She looked back on her way out the door with a shit-eating grin and called back, "Oh yeah, I'll be safe. I'm all set!"

Reminded me of this week's Grey's Anatomy, when Meredith and Christina were talking about how all the boys they take home for one night stands instantly want a relationship and a white picket fence. They actually compared the men of Seattle to 1950's debutantes! I thought, "This is a nice change." Yes, we women actually do think about sex and don't always want a full-blown relationship (although those days are behind me - the not wanting a relationship part, that is...), and it's just nice to see the mass media acknowledging it without simultaneously making the women who do want sex without relationships into psycho killers or whack jobs who are only saying they don't want a relationship because they don't want to scare off the guys (and of course they're guys) they're targeting secretly for a relationship. If the free love character happens also to be a lesbian, well, she's also usually slated for some sort of psycho storyline as well, or at least heartache, which just goes to show that she really wanted a relationship too.

Unless it's The L Word. In which case it's all good. Except that free love Shane ended up getting stalked by Tammy Lynn Michaels, stalking Rosanna Arquette, tormenting Jenny and Carmen, developing a nasty drug habit over which she got the shit kicked out of her, and finally had her heart broken. But then she finally talked it over with Carmen and everything's good. And she's getting Jenny some therapy, because she REALLY needs it.

Can you tell I'm counting the weeks until the season three premier???

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:20 PM
Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Two More Classes Done 

Well, the class meetings for two more classes are done. I went out with a bang in both, as they were both seminar classes that require a paper and an in-class presentation of that paper, and I did both my presentations today.

In the first class, there were 6 of us left who had to present. The second and fourth presentations went so long that by the time we finally got around the the last two of us there were only 10 minutes left. The first four had a combined time of 1 hour, 35 minutes. We got five minutes each. Talk about speed presentations! I'm hoping he'll take the time constraints into consideration when allotting our scores for the presentation, which is 10% of our final grade. The paper is due via e-mail by midnight, December 2.

There were only three of us left to present in my other class, which is a 2.75 hour session, so no rush on that one. I think it went well - I got some questions, scored some laughs at my comments geared towards levity, and a few people commented afterwards that the case was interesting and thanked me for presenting it. The paper is due via e-mail by 5 pm, December 7.

I was supposed to have a second interview tomorrow for that job I mentioned last week, but with two of the three people I was supposed to meet being out for the holiday, it's been postponed to Monday or Tuesday, so I get to spend tomorrow morning packing up for our drive to Pennsylvania and Thanksgiving at the big sister's house (always a most fabulous event!). The Girl is getting out of work at 2 pm and I'm picking her up so we can head directly to the highway. Hopefully the traffic won't we too horrible...

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:28 PM

L Word Cast Additions 

While reading AfterEllen.com's article on this year's POWER UP gala, I noticed a little tidbit of interest: Alexandra Hedison and Daniela Sea will be joining The L Word for its third season.

Hedison is the actor/model/photographer that Ellen Degeneres left behind for Portia de Rossi last year. I saw her on an episode of Seven Days once - she'll be a good addition to the cast.

I also noted on the L Word's site on Showtime.com that Alan Cumming will be a guest on season three.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:13 AM
Sunday, November 20, 2005

Jarhead 

Oscar winning director Sam Mendes (American Beauty) has a new film out based on Anthony Swofford's book about his life as a scout sniper in the Marines before and during Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Swofford, with Peter Sarsgaard as his sniping partner and Jamie Foxx as the platoon's staff sergeant, and assorted others as the rest of the platoon. The Girl wanted to see this one as a reward for having gone to see Harry Potter (which she enjoyed), so off we went.

Jarhead features lots of great acting and lots (and lots) of testosterone. Most of the action is related to some testosterone-driven rage, jealousy or attempts to bond. I hear it's a great book. My advice? Read the book, rent the movie. Maybe it's a guy thing, and I don't often say that. I like action movies, I like war movies, I watched every episode of Over There this summer. But if this is an insight into the male psyche under stress, I'm even more glad to be a woman than I thought. I just don't get it.

I found the end sequences to be disconnected from the rest, as well. There was no sense of how much time has passed (other than longer hair on the former platoon members), or exactly what happened to everyone, including the guy in the box. There seemed to be a lot missing.

So bottom line, I left the theater pretty much just glad that was behind me, and looking forward instead to Jake Gyllenhaal's next feature to be released, Brokeback Mountain, costarring Heath Ledger, directed by Oscar nominee Ang Lee, and coming to a theater near you on December 9.

Reality Check: The Girl's first words upon exiting the theater were, "That wasn't very good." She enjoyed both Harry Potter and Prime more, and is also looking forward to Brokeback Mountain, or as she calls it, "the cowboy movie." During the previews, she surprised me by expressing a desire to see Peter Jackson's King Kong in the theater rather than waiting for the DVD (or skipping it entirely). Just when I think I can guess what her opinion will be about a movie trailer...

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 6:51 PM

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire 

Whew - what a movie! Director Mike Newell did a great job of bringing a higher level of darkness, suspense and general noir to this fourth in the Harry Potter film series. And Steven Kloves' screenplay did what I didn't think possible - took the huge JK Rowling tome and condensed it into a single movie without leaving me feeling like there were any gaping holes. When I read the book, my friends who had also read it and I felt like they could have turned it into two movies - the first taking on the Quidditch World Cup and the second dealing with the Triwizard Championships. The screenplay sacrificed much from the first half of the book, with just the essence of the World Cup on hand, but this worked well to set the stage for the remainder of the story back at Hogwarts and dealing with Voldemort. Don't look for Dobby or the Marauder's Map, though - they're just left out. I was okay with this, though. In earlier movies I felt the storylines they had chosen to leave out or gloss over were a loss, but this film just works.

Let me also tell you - Sunday noontime is a much better choice than Saturday primetime for the opening weekend of a big movie like this. We had our choice of seats, it wasn't crowded, and the theatre wasn't a nightmare.

But the biggest news of all: The Girl enjoyed a Harry Potter movie. Yes, you heard it here. For once my thinking that she'd actually like a movie that she didn't want to see paid off. At one point I whispered something about Harry's feelings being hurt by something that had just happened, and she whispered back, "I know - and he's so cute!" Later she had to step out for a moment to hit the rest room, and she was quite dismayed that she was going to miss a few minutes.

All in all - go see it. Even if you were only so-so on the first three. This one's definitely more grown up (Harry is now 14, and the other students of focus are older teens), the suspense and fright level are higher, the whimsy is definitely lower, and the quality is through the roof.

Reality Check: The Girl enjoyed it. I doubt she'd go again, but she didn't regret my dragging her off to see it instead of letting her golf 9 holes. "That Harry is just so cute with his little red lips, his blue eyes and those perfectly waxed eyebrows!"



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Posted by Beth Henderson at 3:07 PM

Prime 

Since Harry Potter was off the available schedule last evening, we saw Prime instead. The Girl was much happier to see this one anyway, as she's only seeing Harry Potter with me as part of my birthday gifts.

Prime wasn't very crowded (9:45 pm show), but of course after we're nice and comfy in our seats, spread out from the other various couples and small groups of people, these three older teen/early twenty girls come giggling in and decide they have to sit in the three empty seats between us and the nearest couple. Mind you, the row behind us and the row ahead of us are all but vacant. No, they've got to sit next to us.

But back to the flick. If you've seen the commercials, you know the premise. Uma Thurman is Rafi, a 37-year-old recently divorced woman who starts dating a 23-year-old man who happens to be the son of her therapist, Meryl Streep. No one realizes the situation at first, but of course pieces start falling into place and issues ensue.

I enjoyed it, but it's not one of my favorites. Uma Thurman was great, and manages to portray a woman who's a grownup without being a stiff - something largely lacking in film these days. Bryan Greenberg is the younger man who's trying to make the transition into being a grownup, but still has many of the markers of a teenager. At one point Rafi gives him a tip: "One piece of advice - never begin a sentence with 'My mom...' " Meryl Streep's therapist/concerned mother character is a little shallowly portrayed. We're supposed to see that she's torn between her concern for her patient and her concern for her son, and conflicted by the fact that the advice she would give her patient depends on whether her son is involved, but mostly we just see that she's a neurotic mess at this point. A little more grounding would have been nice.

The B-story is the son's friendship with Morris (Jon Abrahams), who is a Jack Black, never-going-to-get-it sort of guy who can't understand why he never gets a second date with any woman and whose response to this is to pie them at close range the day after the first date. Funny, huh? Yeah, I didn't really think so either.

The fun surprise hidden in this box of cracker jacks is Ato Essandoh, who plays the front desk guy at Rafi's plush Fifth Avenue apartment building. He shows us more depth of character with his occasional brief scenes and sparse dialogue than Meryl Streep gives us with her leading role. Essandoh was also most excellent in Saving Face, a flick The Girl and I caught on Netflix the other day.

Anyway, Prime was fun, with some great scenes, but overall left me less than satisfied.

Reality Check: The Girl was very excited to see this one, but when it was done summed it up with, "It was okay."

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:17 AM

I'm On My Way, Harry! 

I have here next to me our print-at-home tickets from movietickets.com for the noon showing of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire! We tried to see it last evening, but all shows prior to 10:30 were sold out. But not today, baby. I'm hoping it will be slightly ahead of the post-church crowds.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:15 AM

Freak Accident 

The Girl and I saw the aftermath of what appeared to be a highly freakish accident on the Mass Pike the other day. Traffic was all backed up, but we could see the flashing lights not too far in the distance, so we figured once we got to that point it would probably break up. Sure enough, that's where the ambulance, police cruisers, and one of the involved vehicles were still sitting.

Sitting there with a smashed up windshield was a black SUV of some sort, with another car's hood partially embedded in the windshield, sticking up vertically into the air. It appeared that someone else's car had ejected its hood and sent it sailing through the air, coming back to earth straight down into this SUV. I'm guessing the driver was at least conscious, as the SUV was parked neatly in the median rather than being askew or in the middle of the highway or all crumpled up.

Can you even imagine? I had a large sheet of ice once whip off the roof of a pickup truck in front of me, sail through the air and smash into my windshield, and that was bad enough. I had a cobweb of cracks all through the glass, and tiny little shards landed on me from the safety glass, but at least it was intact enough that I could continue my drive home from Franconia Notch.

But an entire hood slices into your passenger compartment, then stays standing straight up like a marker of some sort? That's something you'd see in a movie and say, "Yeah, like that would ever happen." Yikes.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:06 AM
Saturday, November 19, 2005

OJ - Hang Up the Phone 

OJ Simpson got on the phone to do at least one interview after a jury found actor Robert Blake responsible for Blake's wife's murder and awarded her children $30 million in a civil trial. Enraged by a justice system that would allow both him and Blake to be found not guilty in a criminal trial but then responsible in a civil trial, Simpson is mad as hell and he's not going to take it any more. Well, actually he is going to take it since he's under court order, but he's not going to be quiet about it. And he's not going to improve his image much by his statements or by the company he's choosing to keep.

Early on in the article, he poses this question regarding civil v. criminal trials:
"I still don't get how anyone can be found not guilty of a murder and then be found responsible for it in any way shape or form," Simpson said in a phone interview from his Florida home. "... If you're found not guilty, how can you be found responsible? I'd love to hear how that's not double jeopardy."

Later he answers his own question, quite eloquently:
Simpson said Blake was subjected to an unfair system in which a civil jury can essentially reverse a criminal jury's finding by using a lesser standard of proof in which jurors need be convinced only by "a preponderance of the evidence," meaning at least 51 percent.

"If that was the standard in criminal trials, only 51 percent, then so many people would be convicted that we'd have to build more jails," Simpson said. "The standard is the difference."

Yes, OJ, the standard is the difference. And the jail time. And the action. And the parties to the action. Criminal trial: beyond a reasonable doubt, liberty interest, criminal code and the state. Civil trial: preponderance of the evidence, monetary & social interest, civil code and other citizens.

Not content to voice his discontent with the justice system, he also expressed his alarm that the awards levied against him and Blake were both around $30 million (Simpson's was $33.5 million): "It was too coincidental," he said.

Where do I even go with that one? I'll leave it to the other conspiracy theorists.

He holds on to the hope that someday a brave acquitted-but-held-responsible-for-the-death individual will be able to present the civil-criminal dilemma to the Supreme Court. Alas, poor OJ, I fear you won't be happy with the outcome. Better hang on to the phone.

Simpson also had some words of damnation for his and Blake's attorneys. He found it disturbing to watch the lawyers "grandstanding" in court in the hopes of TV and book deals. He's certain that Blake's attorneys will have a book deal in short order, as Simpson's did. Guess what OJ? These criminal attorneys are the ones that kept your ass out of jail and able to complain about the system that has allowed you to continue living on your untouchable pension in sunny Florida ($25,000/month).

Now, if you feel bad for OJ since he seems to be harbouring such bitterness for his lot in life, don't worry. He has words of comfort for his fans: "Trust me," Simpson said. "I'm happy with my life. I'm not complaining." Seems his pension is off-limits to civil recovery, so he's well-financed down in Florida. And he has his friends and family. He sends Robert Blake advice that as long as he has friends and family, he'll be fine. This is the same advice he gave Michael Jackson.

Hey OJ? If you're trying to sway public opinion, you might try to find a different set of people with whom you wish to be associated. Take some lessons from other celebs who overcame their misdeeds, innocent or guilty, responsible or not. Maybe you could use some of your monthly $25K to set up a scholarship fund for unemployed law students, in the hopes of inspiring changes in the legal system? I know someone who could use a little tuition infusion right about now!

And I think that actually, you are complaining.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:27 AM
Friday, November 18, 2005

First Last Class of Semester 

Tonight was the last official class of Mass. Practice and Procedure, due to various calendar manipulations by the school. This is a Wednesday class, but we're meeting on a Friday today because it's a Wednesday schedule day, to make up for next week, on which we have no classes on Wednesday evening because of the Thanksgiving holiday. The Wednesday after that, which is the last week of classes, is really a Monday class schedule, making up for some other holiday on which we had no classes. In addition, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving is a Friday schedule, so both my Tuesday classes will end next week.

But even though tonight is the last official class of MA Practice and Procedure, we have a semi-mandatory review session on Saturday, Dec. 10 at 9:30.

I can't believe the semester is coming to a close - where did it go?

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 7:20 PM

How I Spent My Birthday 

Went to Boston City Hall to pay the parking ticket I received on the day of the layoff. Since I delayed paying it, it was $53 instead of $40. I had to pay it at City Hall because of what I had to do next.

Went to the Registry of Motor Vehicles and renewed my license. The woman asked if I wanted a new photo, and since the other one is now five years old, I thought what the heck. Yeah, now I know why the heck. I was five years younger in the other picture!!!

Went to a job interview in Needham. I'll let you know if anything comes of it.

Went to an early dinner with The Girl, at a yummy Japanese steak and sushi place. She got the chicken and steak grilled event, with the flashing knives and eggs expertly cracked by being tossed in the air and landing on the edge of a spatula. I threw caution to the wind and got the Fuji Sushi Dinner, which didn't say specifically what it would contain, except that it would be assorted maki and sushi. It was a winner!

Received three lovely gifts from The Girl - a black button down shirt and two books that I had been eying in Provincetown this summer. It had been killing her not to tell me what they were. She's been asking me every day for two weeks if I wanted to open one of my presents.

Then off to class.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 4:32 PM

Commander In Chief - Rubie Dubidoux and the Brown Bound Express 

I've been enjoying this new show, although often I find that the situations are either too conveniently resolved, unrealistic in their premise, or a little, well, smarmy. But I do enjoy it.

This week I had a lot of issues, though.

First, the title - the name of the unseen hometown friend of Kelly the press secretary's folks reminds me too much of the guy on ER who held a grudge against then med student Carter and who spewed his pent up rage and frustration years later on attending Dr. Carter. I just kept envisioning Red Buttons being a figure in Kelly's childhood. It was a problem.

Second, Mac to this point has seemed very much above the idea of string-pulling or influence peddling. But now, without a moment's hesitation, she's giving a call to some big wig at Brown University in order to arrange the admission of a mediocre student, in order to appease the Dubidoux family to the point that they won't reveal to the press that her greatest enemy made some incredibly racist statements when he was a young, aspiring politician in the1960's south?

Third - okay, enough with the numbering - Nathan Templeton dismisses his youthful exhortations that segregation is godly and part of the divine plan as simply what he needed to say in order to get elected, then assures Mac that he finds such sentiment vile and beseeches her to look at his voting record as proof positive of his magnanimous and nondiscriminatory heart and soul - and she accepts it? I would have found it more plausible if he owned up to having bought into the crap pushed upon him by the society in which he found himself raised, but that as he saw more of the world and became a wiser person he saw the error of his ways. As it is, all he's saying is that even though he disagreed with it, he was pushing this racist bullshit because it was politically expedient. Which is worse?

Speaking of "which is worse," I have the following answer for Horace - the cheat is worse! Especially a cheat who hears a guy that he specifically warned his sister about getting involved with because the guy is a manipulative skirt-chaser subsequently spouting off about having had sex with said sister, but he simply assumes the guy is telling the truth, and then defends his own act of plagiarizing by way of an essay purchased from "excellentessays.com" by challenging dear old dad with, "What's worse - a cheat or a slut? And you're ashamed of me?" Agh!!!!! You're not only a cheat, but you're a manipulative, opportunistic, back-stabbing cheat who forged your mother's signature and tried to pressure the assistant principal into ignoring the fact that you totally bought your paper online so that you could go to a party. Ass hat. And Kelly's not interested in you, you big baby.

And what was with the crack about not being able to find anything on Kelly other than that before being the White House press secretary she was the Vice-President/President's speech writer, and how that this fact alone speaks volumes? These aren't unrelated jobs. I thought we already dealt with her qualifications in an earlier episode when her disgruntled staffer accused her of majoring in being on her knees at UC Santa Barbara while pledging Phi Psi or something, and she pointed out that while she was born in Santa Barbara, she actually earned her degree (nothing knee-related) at Princeton, and was Phi Beta Kappa. And by the way, you're, uh, fired.

So we're to believe that while Vince is out to select people, such as Kelly, with whom he's worked for a long time over the course of campaigning, the Vice-Presidency and now the White House, he was afraid to come out to his boss, the woman he's spent his career supporting to this point, presumably because of her various stands on many political and social issues, who is not some rabid right-winger but is an independent? So much so that he omitted anything about his being gay and HIV positive from his security application? And by the way - where and why do they ask that on the security application? Do they really ask "Are you a homosexual?" "Do you have any disease for which you might be scorned and persecuted by those with narrow minds?" And if they by some chance do ask those questions, do you think Kelly and other high ranking White House staffers would have gone along with his keeping it all hush hush? Because that's really going to work out in the long run.

While we're on the subject of the long run - Mac, you can't have your husband be an official top advisor who is out of the chain of command, reporting to you instead of the Chief of Staff. It's just not going to work. Especially when your husband still holds a grudge that it was you who was approached to run for Congress way back when, not him. You can't be objective when it comes to taking or declining his advice, you're too worried about hurting his feelings, he's too pushy about forcing his strategies down everyone's throat because you know they know you're married to the boss. There's also the fact that he forced you into giving him that job with his threat that if you didn't, things weren't going to work out professionally or personally for the two of you. Blackmail really isn't the best reason for appointing your Top Strategy Advisor. Unless you work for Nathan Templeton. He values blackmail much higher than backstabbing.

So Nathan has known all along that Jayne and Jim are involved, but he was okay with it? I'm not buying. Maybe when he thought Jim was in his pocket, but Jim's made it pretty clear where his loyalties are. And Jayne seemed right on with the blackmailing, espionage and manipulation - why all of a sudden does she have this soft spot for Vince and a soft stomach for outing low ranking White House staffers? Not buying it.

But other than that, it's a great show!

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:44 AM
Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Spring Course Schedule 

Well, I've been waitlisted for Business Organizations, but I've sent off my add request to substitute UCC: Negotiable Instruments instead. So, if that request goes through without a hitch, I'll have another 12 credit semester, as I have currently, but will have four classes instead of five. And the winners are:

Administrative Law
Criminal Procedure II (taught by one of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court justices)
Law Practice Management
UCC: Negotiable Instruments

If you care to read the course descriptions, go to this page and select it from the drop-down list.
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UPDATE (11/18/05): So I got my new schedule, with UCC: Negotiable Instruments yesterday. Then today I got a call from the Registrar that they had opened a new section for Business Organizations - do I want in? So now remove UCC: Negotiable Instruments from the above schedule, and replace it with Business Organizations.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 7:13 PM

Oscar Documentary Short List 

The Academy has announced the 15 documentaries that were chosen for consideration from the 82 submitted films. The official nominees will be announced with the rest of the categories on January 31. The possible nominees are:

After Innocence
Boys of Baraka, The
Darwin's Nightmare
Devil and Daniel Johnston, The
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (DVD release 1/17/06)
Favela Rising
Mad Hot Ballroom (now available on DVD)
March of the Penguins, The (DVD release 11/29/05)
Murderball (DVD release 11/29/05)
Occupation: Dreamland
On Native Soil: The Documentary of the 9/11 Commission Report
Rize (now available on DVD)
Street Fight
39 Pounds of Love
Unknown White Male

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 6:38 PM