28 February 2009

The non-citizen lie shows up at CPAC

Cliff Kincaid, an editor with Accuracy in Media (a group that seeks to "set[] the record straight on important issues that have received slanted coverage"), suggests that President Obama was not born in the U.S. Then his audience at Conservative Political Action Conference bursts out in approving laughter and applause:

"After the 1980s, at least we knew -- we knew that our President was born in the United States!"
Following the bouncing links today, I found that Arizona was not yet a state when Barry Goldwater was born in Phoenix. Since President Obama was actually born in Honolulu, after Hawai'i had attained statehood in 1959, Obama's citizenship issue is really more straightforward than Goldwater's was.

Profoundness: on chainsaws in February

It's a little disconcerting to watch someone walking down South Street at 8:45 on a February morning, carrying a chainsaw.

26 February 2009

Users are children

In order to better understand what was going on with my alcoholic, pathological liar ex-boyfriend, I read Jerry Stahl's Permanent Midnight this week.

The memoir goes into more detail about the day-to-day life activities of a user than I'd been familiar with. But Stahl's explanations of his background and reasons for using were similar to what I've heard and seen many times: lousy childhood and poor parenting leading to extreme feelings of worthlessness; use starts in the teens, as a way to dull or obliterate the thoughts that cause the pain; use continues and intensifies during the 20s, when the body is vigorous and resilient and can process dumptrucks of drugs; and some other people's lives get wrecked along the way.

Eventually you end up in your 30s or 40s without having the skills to actually ever deal with a problem, because you've spent the years of your life, when most people learn how to deal with problems, blasted away from your problems. If you quit without therapy -- or without access to good self-help books and a determination to do the work on your own -- then you end up a dry-drunk with anger management problems, a person mentally half or a third your actual age. If you don't quit, then you end up leaving Las Vegas, wrecking some other people's lives along the way.

In the meantime, you lie. Using is a secret, and it's a huge one. To keep it up, you have to lie, and eventually you get really good at it, and you get into the habit of lying about everything, all the time. You get good at it, because it's like evolution: if you don't get good at lying, then you can't get money and time for your habit. And the lying is not like that of an ordinary person who's maybe a little more reserved and shy than most, and doesn't open up easily. Rather, it's a knee-jerk, unconscious reaction to every situation and every question you encounter: you lie. If your childhood was bad in a particular way, then the lying is intertwined with oppositional-defiant behavior, too, that you never outgrew because you medicated yourself out of outgrowing your adolescence. Eventually you end up in your 30s or 40s and you know of no other way to interact with the world than to constantly want the opposite of whatever the other party wants. You don't know why or even realize that you're doing it, which causes trouble and pain to go along with the social discord that the oppositional behavior causes anyway, so you dose yourself so you don't feel it.

At bottom, users are children. They made themselves halt growing up. They started using in order to stop the thoughts and emotions they had in reaction to the painful environment they were in. But you can't move out of childhood without processing those thoughts and emotions and learning how to deal with them when they come up again throughout your life.

So it's a thing to keep in mind when you meet a user (or come to realize that someone you've known for a while is a user). They're still a child. If they quit and stay quit, then you're likely to be dealing with someone at the same emotional maturity level you were at when you finished high school.

Speaking of which, I think a friend of mine is back on the Bolivian marching powder. My first thought was, "Damn." I confess my second thought was, "Must be nice to have that much cash on hand."

25 February 2009

Local transit updates

Round-up of a few recent SEPTA developments:

  • SEPTA may extend the R6 regional rail line way past Norristown, to Wyomissing (a little beyond Reading). The extension would almost double the length of the line. There are freight tracks already in place, so I guess the infrastructure question would have to do with building stations and parking areas. Or maybe there are some stations already there? I don't know if the tracks were part of the Reading Railroad, though it looks like it on an old map I just found, and, if so, whether any old stations could be re-opened or rebuilt or whatever. Sounds neat to me, anyway, for 2 reasons. First, transit to Valley Forge, which would be an intermediate stop a little under half the way from Center City Philadelphia to Wyomissing, would be cool. Imagine if they put a pod of carshare cars at the train station -- day trip to the national historical park without having to fight Schuylkill Expressway traffic. And second, speaking of traffic, I'm not a suburban commuter but I hear rush-hour traffic reports all the time, and this line would probably take a heck of a lot of cars off of U.S. Route 422 during peak hours. If or when SEPTA gets its $200 million in federal stimulus money, I say go ahead toss a handful of it at extending the R6 into Berks County.

  • SEPTA rail and subway network ops simulation (Java). It's mesmerizing. And you can make it beep.

  • Philly Beer Week is approaching (6 - 15 March). SEPTA has fixed the passes, which they first printed with a picture of New York City's skyline, and you can buy them now. What good is the Beer Week pass? It's a one-day pass that gives you unlimited rides on buses, trolleys, and subways, plus regional rail arriving into Center City after 9:30 a.m., for $9. Do the math to see if it's a deal for you. At the very least it beats the $6 convenience pass because it's not limited to bus-trolley-subway; likely, it's a better deal than a round-trip ticket from the suburbs plus a roundtrip subway ride to your Beer Week (or non-Beer Week) venue of choice. Or here's another one: if you're taking regional rail for any reason that week, daytime or nighttime, check the fare table and compare the cost of the Beer Week pass with your round-trip ticket. Depending on the time of day and the fare zone, and as long as you don't try to use the pass to arrive at Center City in the morning, the pass may be the better deal.
  • 24 February 2009

    Driberally tonight

    The Center City chapter of Drinking Liberally meets tonight at Triumph Brewery. We'll be in the upstairs bar, enjoying drink and food specials, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.

    Triumph Brewery is at 117 Chestnut Street in Old City. It's conveniently SEPTA-accessible via the Market-Frankford El (2nd Street station), all the buses that turn around at or near Penn's Landing (5, 12, 17, 21, 33, 42, 48), and a few other buses that pass nearby (9, 25, 38, 40, 44, 47, 57, 61).

    Tonight's topic: R.I.P. Socks the cat, c. 1989 - 2009.

    Oh, and at 9:00 there's some kind of speech on TV. I'm told it's important. We'll be watching it on a projection screen, same deal as what we did for the Superbowl. Please post suggestions for a drinking game here.

    "Come for the beer, stay for the check"

    23 February 2009

    South Street's Chef's Market closing

    1985 - 2009

    Chef's Market, at the east end of South Street, is closing. Word on the street is that today is the last day the store will be open, though they'll be keeping the catering side of the business going as long as they can. My source tells me that the deli area is closed, though. They quit selling deli stuff so they can use it for catering gigs, but you may be able to find some Havarti or other less upscale items in the fridge.

    Though I didn't head down for the sale myself over the weekend, I hear it was madness. Everything in the store was 50% off; all the customers coming in to the store kept asking, "Is this 50% off? And this? What about this? Is this 50% off, too?" Lord help me and keep me from ever having to work retail again.

    At the bar yesterday evening, a guy showed us what was in his bag for his Oscar night party: half-price caviar, fig paste, imported cheese. I guess I'll put a run to Chef's Market on my errand list today and have something creative for dinner.

    22 February 2009

    Men I've dated, part n in a series

    This is a brief one, because we dated so briefly.

    It was last year, when I was a 2L and he was a 1L. He's from the Midwest. He's in his early 20s -- he started law school immediately after getting his undergraduate degree. He claimed he'd done about every drug under the sun: weed, meth, cocaine, heroin. He didn't have track marks, but he had scars from a previous girlfriend.

    I never saw his apartment, but his overcoat smelled of mice.

    Since then we've had a couple of classes together and run into each other a few times a week, either in a student-group meeting or simply passing by in the hallway. As he gets older, he'll probably get better at ending relationships. As it is, I think there's a very good reason why I haven't dated someone in his 20s since I was in my 20s, too.

    21 February 2009

    Remembering Gene Siskel, 1946-1999

    Near the 10-year anniversary of his sparring partner's death, Roger Ebert remembers Gene Siskel.

    Watch the video, feel the love

    Ted Passon's new promo for gophila.com, filmed at LOVE Park earlier this month, has gone live:

    It's February, but is it getting hot in here?

    20 February 2009

    Friday jukebox: The Nitelights

    Some images NSFW:

    The paper cutout art is by Joe B., one of the band members. The Nite Lights play tonight at Tritone, 1508 South Street.

    19 February 2009

    Growing your beard for charity

    An internet acquaintance of mine in Chicago has grown out his beard and decided to put its use to charity:
    I'm raising money for Chicago's Off the Street Club by lifting things with my beard. The more money we raise, the heavier the objects will be!

    Starting February 13th and every Friday thereafter, I’ll lift one object: one pound for every hundred dollars we’ve raised, until we raise $5,000 or my beard is violently ripped off my face.

    What will I lift? That’s up to you! Donate today and check in Thursday to suggest Things My Beard Can Lift!
    The first round raised a little over $700, so he lifted a combined 7 pounds: a model of the Millennium Falcon and an R2D2 sculpture. So far, he's raised over $1500 -- so tomorrow he'll lift at least 15 pounds.

    The Off the Street Club is Chicago's oldest boys and girls club. You can increase the weight of the next lift by making a tax-deductible donation via PayPal, or suggest an object for tomorrow's 15-pound lift, or watch the lift in person at the UIC Pavilion Friday night.

    18 February 2009

    Eyewitness account of detainee abuse at Guantànamo

    This one's been making the blog rounds:
    [I]nnocent, guilty, black, white, Muslim, or Jew, no matter what you are there is no excuse to treat people in the manner that I and other people did. It's wrong and just downright criminal, and it goes against everything that the United States of America stands for.
    A soldier assigned to Camp X-Ray talks about what he did and saw there: brutal take-downs, force-feeding, detainees hog-tied and left for hours, beatings, sexual abuse, and videocameras being deliberately turned off against regulations. It's worth it to take 15 or 20 minutes to read the whole interview. It's mostly descriptions of what the soldier witnessed first-hand; he's careful not to repeat rumors and hearsay unless he heard the same stories from multiple people.

    The interview is part of The Guantànamo Testimonials Project at the Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas (U.C. Davis).

    17 February 2009

    No Philadelphia Film Festival this year

    The 17th Philadelphia Film Festival was on, then off, then on, and now off -- looks like it's off for good.

    For the past 7-odd years, the Film Festival has been a co-presentation of TLA Entertainment and the Philadelphia Film Society. TLA's CEO and the Film Society's board had creative differences, so the partnership split. The Film Society said it was going to hold the festival anyway, and TLA said oh, yeah? well, it was going to hold its own concurrent festival, so in your face!

    Lawsuits followed.

    Now, since they couldn't get along like adults, nobody gets to hold a film festival at all. Assholes, all of them.

    (Via Philadelphia Magazine.)

    Driberally tonight

    Drinking Liberally, Center City Philadelphia chapter, meets tonight at Triumph Brewery from 6:00 to 9:00. As always, there's no cover -- just meet at the upstairs bar to enjoy drink and food specials and stimulating conversation. Get it? Stimulus package? Stimulating conversation!

    Triumph Brewery is at 117 Chestnut Street in Old City. It's conveniently SEPTA-accessible via the Market-Frankford El (2nd Street station), all the buses that turn around at or near Penn's Landing (5, 12, 17, 21, 33, 42, 48), and a few other buses that pass nearby (9, 25, 38, 40, 44, 47, 57, 61). If it were summer, you could even take a ferry from Camden.

    Tonight's topic: Allergies? Seriously? In February? Wasn't the wind chill in the single digits this morning? Explains my most recent sore throat, anyway.

    "Come for the beer, stay for the check"

    15 February 2009

    Profoundness: on the home of tax-free shopping

    The other day I was asked to think of stores in Delaware where a friend may find Girl Scouts selling cookies out front. The store that immediately came to mind was Kreston Liquor Mart.

    Jesus god get me out of law school now.

    14 February 2009

    Men I've dated, part n of a series

    For much of my first year of law school, I was dating a guy who lived out toward Valley Forge. He hated driving into the city, but both his other girlfriend and myself lived here in town. He was almost literally twice as big as I am, and continued to gain weight while we were dating. He detested lawyers, but my law school plans were in place when we started dating, and his other girlfriend was an attorney. He preferred his other girlfriend to me and didn't tend to hesitate to tell me so.

    We dated for the better part of a year. The sex was excellent. Even when it was sub-par, it was very, very good.

    On either side of the bed he had matching bedstands with drawers. One was mine, and the other was the other girlfriend's. In my drawer, I kept shampoo, a toothbrush, and toys that I shouldn't share. I never looked in the drawer on the other side of the bed.

    I met the other girlfriend for coffee one time in the summer before I started law school, at his insistence. I don't remember the content of the conversation. She's an acquaintance of my ex-husband, as well, though I'm not sure how seriously they ever dated. Late into the relationship, we had a miscommunication via e-mail that demonstrated that neither she nor my lover was ready to call the situation polyamorous.

    But this post isn't about her; it's about my former lover. He was a depressive perfectionist. When he moved into his house, a post-war starter home, he ripped out his kitchen. I started dating him about a year later, and he still had no kitchen in his house. He was wanting to design it himself, but he could never get the lighting scheme exactly right, or the appliance layout completely ergonomic, or the plumbing correctly planned out. He kept a small fridge next to his desk, where he kept beer and orange juice. He ate a lot of microwave popcorn. He kept an electric drip coffeemaker in the bathroom. His coffee wasn't too bad at all.

    He was very handy. He intended to do much of the kitchen renovation on his own, and he helped with some fix-it tasks in my home. But when he painted a room in his own house, he didn't know that he needed gray primer to go under ruby-red paint.

    Since he had no kitchen, he ate almost all of his meals in restaurants. (It's no surprise that he kept gaining weight while we dated.) He almost always found a flaw in the meal: an egg was too crispy; the sauce was better last time; the coffee was no good. One night he left no tip at a restaurant in the city -- though, in his defense, the dish was listed on the menu as being prepared with market vegetables, but was served with reheated frozen niblets.

    He hated traveling, but his job sent him to southeast Asia. He preferred self-directed, productive work, but his employer made him a manager. One time at his house, he was on a conference call; I tried to bring him a cup of coffee or something and he became enraged at me for distracting him. I believe he's working for a different employer now.

    I think he didn't want to hurt my feelings, but he didn't know how to quit dating me and see only his other girlfriend. He preferred her as friend and lover; they were much more compatible socially, emotionally, and sexually than he and I were. We dated for quite a while longer than we should have. On the night I broke up with him, I took the train to the usual suburban outpost, carrying a sack full of things he'd left at my place. When he arrived, I put the sack in the back seat of the car, climbed into the front seat, and asked him to sit for a minute rather than drive away. I forget exactly what I said to end the relationship. He wasn't upset at all. I think he was relieved that I'd done the hard part.

    We went to his house to empty out my drawer, and then, on the way back to the train station, went out for dinner.

    13 February 2009

    Requiring 20% down to get a home loan wouldn't be a bad thing

    Duncan asks whether it's a good thing to require buyers to put 20% down before qualifying for a home loan. He's asking not if it would be a good idea to suddenly put this kind of rule into effect now, but whether it would be a good idea "in more 'normal' times."

    Well, it's been the general rule in France for decades. And France seems to not be suffering as devastating a financial crisis as the U.S. or the U.K. Last September, the BBC reported that in France, "it is very difficult to spend money you do not have." For one thing, French credit cards usually work more like debit cards -- or like old-timey American Express cards, remember those? Where you had to pay the balance off every month. And for another thing, mortgage lenders not only require a down payment of 20%, but they also won't negotiate a loan where the payments exceed 30% of your income. The result is that under 60% of French people own their own homes, and economic growth in France is much slower than it is in the U.K.

    But let's not beg the question that this slower rate of economic growth is a bad thing. If the U.K.'s economic growth has been measured in terms of its people spending on credit, then who cares if the French economy is considered comparably sluggish? As someone who got her mortgage only because of the housing bubble (considering my income at the time I bought my home, I think my lender must have been tossing notes hand over fist to Crazy Eddie's Subprime Loan Emporium), I'm not sure I wouldn't prefer living with a slightly sluggish economy over living in a country where the foreclosure crisis has been immortalized with the World Press Photo of the Year 2008.

    It should be understood, of course, that France does consider itself having gone into a recession at this point (français). But the news reports I've seen indicate that they figure they're not doing as badly as the U.S., Japan, and Germany. There's a conference in Brussels at the end of the month; with any luck there will be some American media there to actually report on the state of the EU.

    Friday jukebox: Two Nice Girls

    12 February 2009

    "The patient remained without viral rebound 20 months after transplantation and discontinuation of antiretroviral therapy."

    Am I late seeing this? 'Cause this doesn't look small:
    A 42-year-old HIV patient with leukemia appears to have no detectable HIV in his blood and no symptoms after a stem cell transplant from a donor carrying a gene mutation that confers natural resistance to the virus that causes AIDS, according to a report published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
    Holy moley.

    Note that the study took place in Europe, where you can get funding for stem cell research. This study took almost 2 years; imagine the advances that could have been made since 2006 if Bush hadn't vetoed stem cell research funding twice.

    Profoundness: on law school grades

    It appears that I perform best on my law school exams when I'm at least moderately hung over. Anyway, that's what I gather when I review my grades and look back at my calendar to see whether I had custody the night before a particular exam, or whether I spent the evening studying at the bar around the corner.

    Clearly, then, the solution is to continually sip bourbon from a water bottle during classes throughout the next academic term. What's sad is that it took me until my 3L year to figure this strategy out.

    11 February 2009

    Profoundness: on South Street

    Upon reaching South Street, people who are otherwise perfectly sensible, ordinary, tax-paying, productive members of society cannot figure out what traffic signals mean. This refers to both drivers and pedestrians.

    But mostly tourists.

    10 February 2009

    Driberally tonight

    Drinking Liberally, Center City Philadelphia chapter, meets tonight, 6:00 - 9:00 at Triumph Brewery, 117 Chestnut Street in Old City. There are beer, wine, and mixed drink specials, as well as deals on burgers and single-serving pizzas. I can't make it tonight because of a previous commitment, but never fear: find a tent card on the bar for self-help.

    Triumph Brewery is conveniently SEPTA-accessible via the Market-Frankford El (2nd Street station), all the buses that turn around at or near Penn's Landing (12, 17, 21, 33, 42, 48), and a few other buses that pass nearby (5, 25, 47, 57). If it were summer, you could even take a ferry from Camden.

    Tonight's topic: Why does WXPN play Coldplay? Ever? At all?

    Drinking Liberally also meets in South Philly (Wednesdays at the South Philadelphia Tap Room, 1509 Mifflin Street) and West Philly (Thursdays at the Blarney Stone, 3929 Sansom Street). I can't attend on Wednesdays and Thursdays for family reasons, but I've been assured that they're just as entertaining as Tuesday nights at Triumph.

    "Come for the beer, stay for the check"

    Helen Thomas called on first

    I didn't actually watch any of the press conference last night, because my daughter's been sick and I haven't been able to sleep well for a few days with her coughing, hacking, sniffling, and moaning in the other room. When it was time to put her to bed at 8:00, I found that I'd already been dozing off for a good 20 minutes, myself, so I turned in without turning the TV on.

    Uh, that's not the point of this post. The point is that President Obama called on Helen Thomas, whom President Bush had been treating like dirt since 2003, to ask the first question of his first prime-time news conference. Whee!

    More on the job search

    An attorney acquaintance of mine recently left working at the public defender's office. She had been there several years.

    I'm not sure what the circumstances were under which she left, but apparently now she's trying to get a telemarketing job at a local arts organization.

    This is does not bode well for my own job search.

    09 February 2009

    Profoundness: on this year's Grammys

    Alison Krauss is completely outclassed, vocally, by Robert Plant.

    I mean, really.

    2 notable events for 1st Amendment scholars

    I noted two events in the news recently relating to law school study of the First Amendment.

    First, Irving Feiner passed away last month at the age of 84. Mr. Feiner was immortalized in my First Amendment final exam study outline with the following entry:

    I. Content-based restrictions
    [. . .]

    D. Dangerous Ideas and Information (high-value expression) - 4 problems arise:
    [. . .]
    3. expression that provokes a hostile audience response (i.e., against speaker, 3d parties)
    [. . .]
    d. speech is unprotected when it incites to riot: Feiner v. N.Y. (1951) (N.B. petitioner was urging blacks to fight for their rights) (but note progeny: in Civil Rights era, Court repeatedly kept states from using breach-of-peace statutes against peaceable demonstrators in 3 "far cry" fact situations from Feiner)
    (1) stirring audience to anger ≠ inciting to riot: Edwards v. S.C. (1963) (civil rights march arrests overturned)
    (2) demonstration that may potentially incite to riot ≠ inciting to riot: Cox v. La. (1965) (peaceful march + speech + lunch counter sit-in led to tear gas)
    (3) demonstrators' non-disorderly conduct leading to hostile crowd reaction ≠ inciting to riot: Gregory v. Chicago (1969)
    In other words, the Court backed off after Feiner -- and Brown v. Board -- choosing to distinguish subsequent cases in favor of the speakers.

    Second, the strip club at issue in Schad v. Borough of Mount Ephraim has gone out of business. In other words, the Bush Depression of 2009 has done to the Fantasy Showbar what Camden County puritans could not convince the Supreme Court to do in 1981.

    Let us have a moment of silent reflection.

    Another interview for low-paying, public-interest work

    Interview later today at school.

    At least this one would be for a position in Pennsylvania. With any luck, if I'm hired I could work in, you know, Philadelphia.

    No other interviews on the horizon.

    08 February 2009

    Reminder: be in the movies today at LOVE Park

    Reminder: Ted Passon is filming an ad for the Greater Philadelphia Tourism and Marketing Corporation today. You can be in the ad! Take yourself and your favorite kissing partner to LOVE Park by 11:00 a.m. sharp and do what Ted tells you to do.

    07 February 2009

    Shepard Fairey arrested, but not for federal copyright violations

    Shepard Fairey, America's more talented version of Banksy, was about to enter the kick-off event for his exhibit at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston last night when he was arrested on 2 outstanding Massachusetts warrants relating to graffiti.

    I'm not a conspiracy theorist -- I don't think the AP put any pressure on the Boston police to harass Fairey -- but something's rotten in the state of Denmark. He's been in Boston for 2 weeks now working on the exhibit installation. But here's an interesting timeline. The photographer who took the photo that Fairey based his Obama candidate posters on recognized that his photo was the basis for Fairey's work on 21 January. (The photographer says he thinks it's "very cool" that Fairey used the image, but his opinion doesn't matter because it's a work-for-hire. That is, he took the photo but he doesn't own it since he was took it for the AP, so the AP owns it. See Section 201(b) of the 1976 Copyright Act.) The warrants date from 24 January, about the time that Fairey must have arrived in Boston to work on the exhibit. The AP started making noise about Fairey's use of its photo on 4 February -- the AP-written article includes phrases like "[a] longtime rebel with a history of breaking rules" and irrelevant facts about how Fairey's poster was used at events where people donated money to the Obama campaign. And then Fairey is arrested 2 days later, even though the police must have known where he was for the past fortnight and could have arrested him at any time.

    Tagging public property is suddenly very important when there's an alleged copyright violation in play, I guess.

    Interview for low-paying, public-interest work

    I had a job interview yesterday with a public-interest legal organization. The interviewer told me that it wasn't clear from the broad experience detailed in my resume that I was an ordinary candidate for public-interest work.

    Apparently he missed the 2L summer at a public-interest nonprofit, the 1L summer in a county court, and the 10 years I volunteered for a feminist legal clinic and impact litigation organization. Likely he missed those lines on my resume because he was interviewing 20 other 3Ls desperate for a job by the time their loans are called in this November.

    That said, he asked me to e-mail him a cover letter and writing sample. Now, if only this job were in the same state that I live in.

    Could be worse. One of my classmates had 2 interviews, but both of them told her that they were not actually hiring this year. We were both mystified as to why the organizations wasted their own time as well as the time of the students and the law school career offices to come in and interview people. It's not as if anybody actually keeps resumes on file until their funding comes back again.

    06 February 2009

    Friday jukebox: Bob Dorough

    Friday morning meditative. I find it works best for me if I quit watching after the line, "The past, the present, and the future," and listen with my eyes closed:

    That said, I only just now noticed that when he sings, "Faith and Hope and Charity," the woman who pops up as "Hope" is African-American.

    05 February 2009

    Who had their money on Justice Ginsberg in the SCOTUS betting pool?

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg has been hospitalized for pancreatic cancer surgery.

    Men I've dated, part n of a series

    I spent one of my better New Year's Eves with an academic. He was (or still is) a professor of Latin American Studies at a small university in the outer, outer western suburbs of Philadelphia. We went to see a band at a club on South Street.

    We'd arrived early enough to get seats at the bar and started kissing shamelessly as soon as the clock on my phone rolled to midnight. The bartender passed out tiny portions of champagne in plastic cups.

    Part way through the show, another former lover of mine arrived unexpectedly. He immediately fell in love with the bass player of the opening band. When she walked past me on her way to the bathroom I told her that my friend wanted to take her home after the show -- but sadly for him, she was engaged to one of her bandmates. The 3 of us enthusiastically wished her a happy new year. I don't know if the band is still together; they weren't a very good band.

    After the main attraction wrapped their set, my date and I staggered home on South Street against the flow of drunken New Jersey suburbanites walking the other direction, from the Penn's Landing fireworks to their PATCO trains.

    The next morning, my lover taught me how the Incas counted with their quipus and explained the Mayan doomsday prophecy.

    He mistakenly believed that how I like to be treated in the bedroom also extends to how I like to be treated generally. A week or so after New Year's, we went to go see a movie at the Vox Populi gallery with some university colleagues of his. We looked at the sculpture exhibits outside of the makeshift cinema before the film started. When I touched one of the sculptures to get a better understanding of what it was made of, he slapped my hand, and not gently. "Don't hit me," I said. He laughed at me and looked at his friends. "No, you don't hit me," I repeated. He didn't understand why I was annoyed.

    I think he thought he was slumming it, sleeping with someone whose B.A. was good enough only for secretarial work. Most of the time he would wait until I was done speaking and say whatever he wanted to say, with no actual response to the content of what I'd said.

    I've completely forgotten his name.

    04 February 2009

    ACS event tonight: Bloggers as America's Watchdogs

    At Penn's law school tonight, 5:30 - 7:00, a panel featuring political bloggers wondering what they'll do now that President Obama's in the White House and they don't have ol' George to kick around any more. Scheduled to appear:

    John Aravosis
    Editor, AMERICAblog

    Christy Hardin Smith
    Blogger, Firedoglake

    Baratunde Thurston
    Co-Founder, Jack & Jill Politics and
    Blogger, The Huffington Post

    Daniel Urevick-Ackelsberg
    Founder, Young Philly Politics

    Moderator: Adam Bonin, chairman of the Board of Directors, Netroots Nation


    Useless, if not actively bad, advice from the career office

    Recently at school I attended a career planning panel on how new law school graduates can better manage through an economic downturn. The panelists were a recruitment attorney at a large Philadelphia firm and the head of a local legal staffing firm. Their suggestions:

  • network

  • apply at public-interest firms

  • apply for jobs requiring 3-5 years' experience and multiple state bar admissions anyway

  • network

  • although employers after the economy gets better will understand that you couldn't get a legal job immediately after school, don't fail to get a legal job immediately after school, because it looks bad on your resume

  • network

    In addition to the panelists' complete blind spot about public-interest work (when the economy goes bad, nonprofits are the first organizations to lay off staff and quit hiring), there was no discussion of alternative careers for a person with a new J.D. Where by alternative careers, I mean careers that would earn a new graduate enough money to make the monthly loan payments.

    I've been advised that phone sex is still an option.

    And if I go to one more career development panel where the best -- or at least the most frequent -- piece of advice is "networking," I think I'm going to be sick.
  • 03 February 2009

    Driberally tonight

    The Center City Philadelphia chapter of Drinking Liberally meets tonight at Triumph Brewery, 117 Chestnut Street in Old City, 6:00 - 9:00. Beer, wine, mixed drink, and food specials available, depending on how early you show up. Dig the tent cards at the bar for details or ask Mithras, since I can never remember them all.

    This week's topic: Book talk by Mike Lux of OpenLeft, author of The Progressive Revolution. The author will read an excerpt from his book, which is catching some buzz:
    "As a seasoned political practitioner with a keen grasp of American history, Mike Lux brings a special perspective to the task of defining the progressive challenge today. He finds the answers in the story of America’s progress, which he tells with great care, insight, and originality."
    -David Brock, Founder of Media Matters for America

    "Mike is that rarest breed: a populist insider. He brings that perspective to The Progressive Revolution, telling the great story of how progressives have given us a better America."
    -Wes Boyd, co-founder of MoveOn

    The book talk will be held upstairs, in the space behind the bar area where the Drinking Liberally crowd usually meets.

    Drinking Liberally chapters also meet in South Philadelphia on Wednesdays at the South Philly Tap Room (1509 Mifflin Street), and on Thursdays at the Blarney Stone (3929 Sansom Street).

    "Come for the beer, stay for the check"

    Make out in LOVE Park this Sunday, be in a commercial

    Local filmmaker Ted Passon, who famously lost his car to World Series knuckleheads last year, is filming a promotional short for the Greater Philadelphia Tourism and Marketing Corporation. He's assembling as many people as he can fit into LOVE Park and asking them to start kissing. Show your Philadephia boosterism spirit by arriving at the Park by 11:00 a.m. sharp this Sunday 8 February to register, which probably involves signing a release and stuff. Bring your honey and take part:
    This commercial is for a new push of the campaign with a special Valentine's Day twist. The filming takes place in LOVE Park and starts on one couple meeting at the Park. They immediately start kissing each other. The camera moves and we see another couple meeting and kissing. The camera continues to move and we see another kissing couple and another until we see a ridiculous number of couples all meeting and kissing at LOVE Park, as if everyone in Center City just stopped what they were doing and started making-out with each other.
    Ted's looking for all types, genders, classes of people, from suits to skates, cops to construction workers. You just need to take direction well for a long, uninterrupted 1-minute take. If you're lucky, you'll have to rehearse, too.

    Questions to Ted Passon, ted@allagesproductions.com.

    02 February 2009

    Profoundness: on my bank not failing

    For law school reasons, the balance in my money market savings account recently fell low enough that my bank started charging me $10 fees for the privilege of keeping my money with them. I called up customer service to protest the charges. (I did get them reversed, and I had them close the account and put the remaining funds into my checking account. A good law student, I used words like not conspicuous in the paperwork and contract of adhesion where I didn't have any choice in the terms before I signed.)

    While I was on hold before getting through to a representative, they played a recording of the bank's CEO assuring me that they weren't going to fail any time soon, and in fact next quarter they expect to post as much of a profit as they usually do.

    Presumably by dinging hundreds of thousands of account holders $10 every month as they drain their savings down to pay the mortgage and buy groceries.

    01 February 2009

    Driberally this evening

    Drinking Liberally, Center City chapter (though the South and West Philly chapters are more than welcome!), is meeting this afternoon for a Super Bowl party. From the official announcement:
    It's the Steelers v. the Cardinals in the Super Bowl, and Drinking Liberally is there. Even though the Eagles will not be in it, we're definitely having a party anyway. And if you're going out to watch the big game, Triumph Brewing is the perfect place: We have a big projection television and our own dedicated bartender/server.

    Also, Bruce Springsteen at halftime. You have to see that.
    Dig it, we even have an obviously professionally designed logo prepared especially for the event:

    Triumph Brewery, 117 Chestnut Street in Old City, Philadelphia, 5:00 - 10:00. We're upstairs, in the space behind the bar. RSVP via the Facebook. No cover!

    "Come for the beer, stay for the check"