Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Postage rate hike hurting UU World; UUA Washington Office too busy to do anything about it...

This pretty much confirms my negative impression of the UUA Washington office. (In case you don't want to follow the link, the post office has raised the rates for delivering small magazines to the point that publishing a small magazine will become financially unsustainable for a lot of independent publications. The UUAWO is too busy making statements about Burma to actually do anything about this issue, however.)

What is the point of having an office in Washington if they can't be bothered to look at an issue that impacts us and try to do something about it?

I've mentioned several times that one of my primary complaints about the UUA's political behavior is our seeming need to have a poor man's version of every liberal lobbying group out there. Of course, the big non-UU group is the only one anybody cares about, but hey, we get to feel good about ourselves. By handing over our "fuck the Iraqis who will die when the nation descends into anarchy, just bring the white people home" petition, we struck a real blow for peace!

Thus, it especially cheeses me off that the impact of this postage rate hike on independent magazines is a small issue that has not recieved a lot of press. For once, somebody might actually listen to us. But the UUAWO can't be bothered with anything that doesn't have them behaving like the religious arm of the Democratic party.

Though some of the crap they've pulled in the past has seriously irritated me, I've never asked if we really need a UUA Washington Office before.

I'm asking it now.


Saturday, October 27, 2007


CC had a great time at the party (and was the only Amy Winehouse there, although the wig got really warm early on and she took it off.)

FWIW, if you're looking for an eighties cover band, Burning sensation does not suck.

Especially when the lead singer is dressed as a robot.

who is back to studying now.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Well, that's good.

Genarlow Wilson freed.


Want to feel better about your spouse?

Click here.


Last-minute-Halloween costumes

So I'm Jana-who-creates' date for a Halloween party where her friend's band is playing and I found out today that it is a costume party.

My plan for Halloween parties this year was for theCSO and myself to attend as Voltaire and Mme DuChatelet.

But Mme DuChatelet isn't so great a costume on its own.

I tried to sell JwC on going as Molly Weasely and Bellatrix LeStrange, but no dice.

Anyway, suggestions welcome.

As far as I can tell, most halloween costumes fall into one of several categories

1. Slutty
2. Scary
3. Totally lacking in dignity. (E.g. dress in pink, put a shoe on your head, go as "gum stuck on the bottom of somebody's shoe")

None of these categories particularly rock my world.



1. Thanks for the love for my Molly-and-Bellatrix plan. But if my friend isn't into it, she's not. She's thinking of going as a robot.
2. PG is awesomesauce and will be invited to every Halloween party I ever have.
3. Since Halloween is all about slutty, scary and lacking in dignity, it seems only logical to go as Amy Winehouse. A black wig, some tacky jewelry and a bunch of fake tattoos would be easy enough to do. But I'm worried that I would be cold as her iconic look is ripped jeans and a tank top. Also, I go back and forth on whether it is in poor taste because I honestly expect her to drop dead any minute...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

She who works full time and goes to school responds to the minister quality-of-life discussion.

I mentioned yesterday that theCSO and I were plotting to sneak out of town for a long weekend in Vegas at some point.

I should clarify that between work and school, the earliest I could possibly get out of town is Thanksgiving or Christmas, and Thanksgiving would be really inadvisable because of finals week. GA and visiting theCSO's family for a few days at Christmas are the closest I've had to a "vacation" in the last several years. I will spend most of Saturday working on a paper, and possibly portions of Sunday after I teach YRUU.

I arrive at work at 8:30 and leave at 4:30 Monday through Friday. I'm due in class at 5:45, where I remain until 7:45 or 8:45.

If I have a doctor's appointment, I fill out a form asking my boss if it's okay for me to take two hours off and I get her signature.

I don't necessarily have to be cheerful and loving in the sense that ministers do, but I do have to be detail-oriented. If I make mistakes on a subpoena or if I don't fully understand what I'm writing down about the complexities of the commerce clause's impact on the Congressional power to tax and spend, then I will regret it. (And citations. Non-lawyers would not frigging BELIEVE the crazy method we have for showing which case we're getting an idea from. It's so complex that the samples we get from our professors and TAs regularly have mistakes.)

I will only be doing the work and school thing for four years. After that, I will be an associate at a law firm for another seven or eight years, assuming the most conventional path, and we know the crazy lives those folks have.

So I'm effectively booked up until I'm forty one.

Ok, I'm exaggerating slightly here. Summers will be easier, and I hear that the first year of law school is the hardest.

And this is the life I've chosen, and I don't regret it a bit. I'd rather be immersed in interesting work and have cool things to talk to theCSO about in the hour an evening we get together than do something boring all day and then just come home at five and Veg Out like lots of people do.

But seriously, it's tough all around. Lots of us have near-constant drains on our intellectual and emotional energy. Few of us are surrounded by people who understand what we go through and apply that understanding to their expectations.

Still beats ditch-digging.


Things that look weird when seen through a UU lens

It's funny how, as a UU, I tend to forget how despised atheists are. Among UUs, and indeed among my friends, being an atheist is perfectly acceptable, being a pagan is an adorable eccentricity, and being a Conservative Christian is the really unusual thing.

I don't realize that outside my social bubble, it doesn't work that way. For example, I nod along with my theistic friends' complaints that people think they are weird for believing in God so often that I tend to forget that it is illegal for atheists to hold public office in at least one place where I've lived. (Is this law unconstitutional? Sure. But it's not like an atheist is getting elected there anytime soon anyway so nobody's bothered with a test case.)

I first thought of this when I saw "Steven Pinker and Rebecca Goldstein, America's brainiest couple, confess that belonging to one of America's most reviled subcultures doesn't mean they believe scientists can explain everything" as the header on a story for Salon. Reviled subculture? Atheism.

That story sparked my interest, but I got busy and forgot about it. Today, again on Salon, a college student has written to the advice columnist asking for advice about how to "Come out" as an atheist to a family that won't accept it.

When I was a reporter, I was told not to let anyone know that I wasn't a Christian or a lot of them wouldn't talk to me. When you're a reporter, lots of people in town not talking to you will eventually cost you your job. I've known pagans who weren't even in the public eye who still had to keep their faith a secret for fear of employment consequences.

Anyway, I'm thinking about that today, and thinking about how theists in UUism frequently complain, essentially, "If I talk about how I'm a theist, people won't like me. If I preach about what I want to preach, people will complain because people like different things."

One would think being allowed to run for office would be some small consolation.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Vegas travel advice

CC is pouting today because theCSO is in Vegas and having a blast and says that I totally have to come. He's willing to fly me out this weekend, in fact, but I really, really need to study.

So to make us both feel better, we're making plans to go to Vegas together at some point.

Suggestions of cool places to stay and stuff we need to do are welcome.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Happiness Meme

(From Fishy.)

Six things that have made me happy recently.

1. Landlord-tenant law. There are times I feel like I don't understand anything, can't write a memorandum to save my life, can't take notes, and will surely end up flunking out and dancing for change in front of Wal-Mart. Then, I read about landlord-tenant law. I don't know why, but I like it. It's straightforward, and reasonable, and it's related to what my mom does for a living so I have something to attach it to in my head. It's taught by my Property professor. He lays things out really thoughtfully and logically. I just get it.

And that gives me hope.

2. My YRUU padawans and their enthusiasm when I put together my sheet of stories they should know from Genesis. I'll draw up a similar sheet for Exodus soon.

3. When I was lying on Jana-who-creates' couch and ZombieKid walked up:
ZombieKid: Do you and theCSO sleep in the same bed?
CC: Ummm... Yeah?
ZombieKid: Does he use you for a pillow?
CC: Sometimes a little bit.
ZombieKid: Do you use him for a pillow?
CC: I like to go to sleep on his shoulder, but sometimes it gets tired and has to move it.
ZombieKid: Sometimes I use Skunkeriena for a pillow. I wonder if she minds.
(Holding up the toy skunk to whom he is married)
CC: I'm sure she doesn't mind. She's a very understanding skunk.

4. I got to talk to a chatty forensic toxicologist today who told me lots of things I didn't know about how difficult it is to determine the degree of impairment when marijuana is involved. It was cool. My job has ups and downs, but I basically like it.

5. I don't have anything planned for Saturday. Like, at all. I'm thinking about eating breakfast alone, then going in to the office to read and work on homework. No pressure. Just a restful day getting things done. Introvert nirvana.

6. TheCSO and I almost never like the same TV shows, but we both love "Chuck." We watch it together and laugh together the whole time. There literally hasn't been a show we've watched together like this since the X-files.


Over and over I have seen how people think that someone leaving will have all these wonderful effects, and then when they do, problems rain down and they realize the person they didn't like had some value after all.

It's interesting to watch.

who is observing this pattern these days.

Monday, October 22, 2007

CC is gloomy today

Shall we cheer ourselves by watching Alan Rickman?

Yes, lets...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Saturday, October 20, 2007

New UU Blog

a new blog in the UU blogosphere.

And the author, Anonymous, is a Golden Girls fan. Can't argue with that.

a major Golden Girls fan herself.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The spiritual practice of not sending bitchy rants.

I just got an incredibly snotty email.

One of my professors gave an assignment that was rather unclear, asking us to make an outline for revising a paper we have written that we haven't gotten feedback on yet. I didn't email the man asking for clarification, but apparently a decent proportation of my 80-member class did.

He wrote an email that basically said that he wouldn't be around to help us revise any drafts we might write for the final and strongly implying that the people who wanted extra guidance weren't taking responsiblity for their work. It's all about "character," you see.

Character my ass.

My response, if I may say so, was blistering. I pointed out the fundamental attribution error inherent in making judgements about people's characters based on their behavior during the first semester of law school. I said that the people who kept asking for clarification weren't lazy, they were scared. And I get that, because I may be more apt to try and figure things out for myself, but I'm scared, too. All of us are borrowing $120,000 and betting it on our own ability to succeed and when professors are vague about what they want, that is legitimately terrifying.

It was too mean. I wrote another, shorter draft. I sent both to a friend.

Would the professor get over it if I sent it to him? Probably. And the comments he made were over the line. I could send it and my legal career would survive. Our exams are anonymous. Hell, my friends would think it was pretty cool.

But I stepped back from the computer. I thought. I got a drink of water. I did some work. And the anger started to burn away. My friend emailed me back, saying not to send either e-mail, but by then I'd already decided I wouldn't.

I was left with the sad realization that I didn't want to be the person who sent the rant. I was offended. I did take what he said personally and his bringing character into it really seemed gratuitous and judgemental. But I just didn't want to be that person. Buddhism doesn't usually come to mind, but I found myself thinking of the concept of right speech.

The idea of self-purification through well chosen words is appealing to me today, and the idea that two wrongs don't make a right.

So I'm sitting here now, the emails saved far from my e-mail account, and I don't have a sense of destruction. When I rant at somebody, particularly in a nasty and private way, it feels good. The moment of fouling a relationship with someone who deserves it is always a great relief.

But now I'm in the moment after, and this moment after is better.

Off to school.


Jazz Hands

When she was in college, CC played Mrs. Pugh in a community theatre production of Annie. At one point in the show, the servants did this little dance to the “Oh you…WON’T be an orphan, No, you... WON’T be an orphan, no you WON’T be an orphan, FOR LONG!” song.

I’m not going to describe the dance itself, but suffice to say, it is somewhat complex and ends with jazz hands. For many years afterwards, the guy who played Drake in the show and I would just start doing our dance at odd moments when we were hanging out.

I still occasionally do that dance when I’m standing around bored for a minute, like I was when I was waiting for the elevator at lunchtime. Until I looked up and saw the secretary from the Patent Firm across the hall, who was watching me through the glass doors, riveted.

My own experience suggests that people working in Patent Law need all the cheering up one can give them, so I suppose I can regard it as a good deed.

Singin' "Cross the street or cross the sea, Annie, Sweet, we guarantee, that you..."

Two reasons why the Seven Principles aren't a creed

1. They were written by a committee and are formally reviewed and revised by a committee every fifteen years.

2. The disclaimer that was adopted with the Seven Principles:

Nothing herein shall be deemed to infringe upon the individual freedom of belief which is inherent in the Universalist and Unitarian heritages or to conflict with any statement of purpose, covenant, or bond of union used by any congregation unless such is used as a creedal test.

I wish people included this disclaimer, which to my understanding they are supposed to*, whenever they used the Seven Princuiples.

Also, I was talking with a beloved UU friend last night who said that someone she knew got into the discussion of the principles at GA that many people were turned away from and some people in the discussion said they needed to be shorter so they would be easier to memorize.

CC smites her forehead, not even wanting to count the number of annoying things in that sentence alone.


* I invite the input of somebody who knows a lot about UUA policies, such as Philo, or who has a freakish gift for rule memorization, such as Steve.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

This makes me happy.

The concept, not that people are getting arrested for it.



If you can't read the comic, click on it. Then click here and get yourself a decent monitor.

The suggested rule has its merits, but really, it just brings up an old insecurity of mine that everybody else has that book and I don't.

I was telling Janna-who-doesn't-create (as distinguised from Jana-who-creates)* about this worry one time when we were teenagers and she said "I have that book!" She ran upstairs and came back down with Richard Bach's Illusions.

That was a mean trick to play on someone who doesn't like hippies.


* Yes, my elementary school BFF was Janna and my current local BFF is Jana, pronounced exactly the same. We're also friends with Janna still, but theCSO is actually closer to her and more apt to see eye-to-eye with her, so between us we call them "Your Janna and my Jana."

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

"We're married"

Tonight's Boston Legal was delightfully full of HoYay.

A pleased,


My candidate for most annoying Unitarian habit.

1. Imply that the Seven Principles are a creed.

2. Describe how your pet issue applies to the Seven Principles.

3. Talk about how any Unitarians who aren't in love with your pet issue are, by this reasoning, bad Unitarians, hyprocrites or just jerks.

4. Put an essay to that effect on the internet and/or make that argument incessantly to anyone who doesn't agree with you.

Today's Example

Though I am picking on Z, I'd like to stress that I have seen this all over the damn place with a huge variety of issues and it never ceases to bug me.

I really wish we didn't have the Seven Principles, because I'm tired of seeing them misused. They aren't a creed that can be used to prove people are bad Unitarians. They aren't a description of who we are.

There are many very fine churches that have creeds and/or scriptural authority that are always searching for new members. If you love having an objective standard to measure people with so much, it's been nice praying with you, you know where the door is.


tired and cranky.

The stink of law school

One more thought for the day...

Several weeks ago, when I was first starting school, Kim asked me if there would be any content on this blog for people who think law is boring and if I thought I would alienate my non-legal readers.

Being me, I responded with something wiseass.

But her question has stuck with me.

When I was in high school, I read a series of books by Ferrol Sams about a kid coming of age as the second World War is beginning. In the third book, When all the world was young, he goes off to medical school.

The medical school Sams describes is much like one imagines medical school with really smart kids working really hard all the time. They dissect so much that the formaldehyde soaks into their skin. They can't smell it, but one night they go to the movies and the entire rest of the theater walks out because they can't take the smell.

I do get that in a metaphorical sense this is happening to me. When I got married, I thought about weddings constantly and everything I wrote about was related to pew bows and tulle. (New readers: I'm being a little facetious, my wedding had neither.)And now Kim's question is echoing in my head even as I write about politics and law, talk about law school at parties and generally act like it's the only thing in my life.

I know you know this, and I know it, too: I'm going to get over it. Probably not before the end of the semester, but I am. I will get balance back. I will write about religion again, I will have petty philosophical musings, I will tell amusing stories about my smartypants friends and post some new detective stories at Has CC mentioned she writes fiction?.

But for now, I appreciate those of you who are tolerating the stink of me starting to do the hardest thing I've ever done.


RIP CrapOnSundays

When the CRAPonSundays blog began, I was torn between being pleased to see a conservative UU voice and feeling that somebody was stealing my schtick by starting a blog on one of the major themes I wrote about here. (And I've noticed that I wrote about that theme less when CRAPonSundays was writing about it.)

Now that Will has decided that he just can't take the UUA speaking for him on political issues and hearing about the evils of President Bush from the pulpit, I am torn again. Torn because I understand his frustration, but I also have noted that in the time he's been blogging anonymously, he's never mentioned that he actually talked to anybody at his church about his concerns.

It's not easy to do that, I know. I've only done it three times in the last couple of years, but then I usually do not attend political sermons because I don't feel like getting cheesed off.

Though sometimes the person preaching or leading the lay service will preach about politics knowing that what they are saying is annoying and alienating people, I have found that 90 percent of the time I've said "Hey, there's another side to that story. Demonizing people who don't see the world the way you do isn't cool, and besides, your facts are wrong here and here. Let's talk about ways we could be more welcoming to conservatives," the person I've talked to about it felt really bad and there was seeming improvement.

I don't know. I will admit a bias against people who leave UUism rather than staying and helping her fix her problems. But that's me the institutional thinker, and I shouldn't assume that anyone else shares that approach.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Symbolic Outrage

I have long thought that poeple who said things like "I stood up for what I believed. I wrote a letter to somebody" or "I fought for gay rights by disagreeing with a homophobe on the internet!" or "I spoke truth to power by signing a petition to..." were morons.

To me, any form of protest that involves either sign-waving or strongly-worded-emails is nearly a laughable waste of time.

Now Bill Maher has gone and written an awesome column about this phenomenon as applied to the Obama-doesn't-wear-an-American-flag-pin controversy, a controversy, I should note, that I have never actually heard of but that I can easily imagine.

Before people ask, here are a few examples of non-pointless ways to change the world.

1. Vote, and research your local candidates carefully before doing so.
2. Read, become informed about both sides. If you can't answer the question "why might a reasonable person disagree with me on this?" Then you have not done your homework sufficiently to be talking about a controversial issue. Don't make me have the Head Start converstion with you.
3. Talk to actual people about actual issues, listen to people who disagree with you.
4. Quit asking the government to be the change you want to be.
5. Set an example of how you want other people to behave. Don't want people to be jerks? Then don't be a jerk. I am constantly amazed at how often people miss this, to me obvious, point. When you see someone treating others badly and treat them badly in return, you do not teach them the lesson that treating other people beadly has negative consequences. If anything, you teach them that treating people badly is acceptable behavior. After all, everybody's doing it. Two wrongs don't make a right. Duh.
6. Don't come up with a pretentious name for what you're doing. Please don't fight for freedom, speak truth to power or kick ass. Just think about things, talk to people and try to figure out solutions to problems.
7. People are watching you. Set a good example. Behave the way you want your opponents to behave.
8. Don't sacrifice the good in a quest for the perfect.
9. Don't alienate people from your cause unnecessarily. I do not vote for people like me, I want people who are smarter than me running the country. But lots of people do like to vote for people like themselves and support causes supported by people like themselves.

OK, back to my homework...


Friday, October 12, 2007

Wow. People I've made fun of keep winning Nobel Prizes this year.

If I can ever find the paper I wrote in college on Doris Lessing's The Memoirs of a Survivor, I will post it here. It was two pages of tasty snarkage. (Dystopia novels don't work for CC.)

Abovethelaw.com's headline on Gore was "Law School Dropout Wins Nobel Peace Prize."



Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Action hero fantasies

Gun control is not my personal hill to die on one way or another*. That said, I do think guns make people stupider.

I noticed a prime example of this today as I was reading this article about a teacher who is getting divorced and is afraid her ex-husband is going to come after her and how she wants to be allowed to bring a gun to school. Also, she wants to defend herself from school shootings.

From the article:

Katz won’t say whether she has ever taken her 9 mm Glock pistol to school, but she practices with it regularly and has thought about what she would do if she had to confront a gunman. She would be sure students were locked in nearby offices out of the line of fire, and she would be ready with her pistol.

And everybody would be fine, because, you know, the shooter would allow the students to be safely locked in offices before his dramatic showdown with Katz, in the school shooting she has staged in her head.

This reminds me very much of post VA-tech school shootings when Michell Malkin was criticizing the students who survived for not singlehandedly taking the shooter out when he stopped to reload.

I do think it is human nature to imagine awful situations and figure out how we might cope. I'm sure lots of people have ninja fantasies when they imagine themselves being able to take out a gunman who is hurting other people. And it always works out. The desks are always arranged in a way that facilitates us sneaking around, the gunman always falls for our bluff, we're always able to dodge the bullets and our heroics never put anyone else at risk. Oh, and we're a crack shot when we're scared for our lives. Really.

But IMHO, one has to be a special kind of stupid to ASSUME that the situation is going to work out that way, the way Malkin and Katz do. I think most of us get that the whole "our friend fakes a heart attack and while the guy is distracted, we knock the gun out of the guy's hand, which surprises him so much he goes right down when we jump him" genre of fantasies is a fantasy, and that things we're not prepared to cope with will almost certainly occur in a violent situation.

The thing is, I'm afraid it's exactly the sort of stupid owning a gun makes some poeple, as if the power of owning a gun magically gives one the power to dictate the rest of the situation.


*That said, I am against the "trespassers can be legally shot" laws some states have. During my time in North Carolina, I saw two or three cases of actual burglers being shot and half a dozen cases of teenage kids sneaking out, teenage kids' friends sneaking in, people having car trouble who were looking to see if the lights were on before knocking, being shot. It really seemed to do FAR more harm than good.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Questions I'm asking tonight

1. Why the fuck is it still in the high eighties in Washington? It's October and I'm tired of being so warm all the time.

2. One of my professors said "A lot of law professor questions take the following form: 'I'm thinking of a color' Don't worry about it, just raise your hand and suggest a color and he will keep calling on people until somebody says the right one."

This is the most useful thing anybody has said to me in the last five weeks.

That said, intellectually I get that I'm not alone, so why do I feel like the only colorblind person in the class?

3. How is it that a religious person with a deep fondness for her fellow humans and typically great tolerance for other people's foibles can grow to genuinely hate someone in five minutes just because she would not stop asking the professor the same question over and over again and thus prevented my question from being asked at all?*

4. Sigh.


*It was literally like:

Person: Can you give us a more complete sample of what you want?
Professor: No, I don't think it would help you as much as you think.
Person: Why do you do it this way when a sample would be so useful?
Professor: Well, partially because I don't want you just working off my sample.
Person: But you gave us a sample for certian parts of the paper? Why can't we have a sample of the whole paper?
Professor: Well, those are the parts that you should be focusing on anyway.
Person: But If I could have a sample that included the introductory paragraph...
Professor: You could make an introductory paragraph by looking at the topics you're going to address and explaining what you're going to talk about. Try reading the first sentence of each paragraph.
Person: But if I had a sample of the paper...

(CC begins to ponder banging her head into the desk until she loses conciousness.)

Faith traditions we don't need to appropriate

Imagining a UU version of this boggles the mind.

Best quote: “No one can beat pornography on their own,” he said. “If you try to beat pornography on your own, you’re going to lose.”



Tuesday, October 02, 2007