Thursday, March 30, 2006

A Terrific News Day and Some Delusional Self-Promotion

Jill Carroll's free!! YAY!!!!!!

I am pleased to report that the young, Arabic-speaking, do-gooder journalist was released today with her heath, spirits, and her grace in tact. Her kidnappers were good to her, she says! (Stockholm Syndrome anyone? Actually, this bleeding-heart liberal may have a worse clotting problem than I do.)

During her three months of captivity, the Christian Science Monitor freelancer became a sort of international celebrity, her story chronicled by leading outlets from from Le Monde to Al- Jazeera to the Times to the BBC to Too Small.

Yay!!!!! Yay!!!!! YAY!!!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Manipulating the Record

Lawyers massage precedents, statutes and almost everything else in litigation. It's one of the reasons that they're so reviled, but, let's face it-- we've known for a while that interpretation is inherently and inescapably subjective. But yesterday Slate revealed legal manipulation that crosses the line into bad-faith, Jayson Blair land.

An issue complicating
Hamdan is whether the Court has jurisdiction over it at all, given the Detainee Treatment Act that Congress passed in December. The DTA statute doesn't say clearly, reflecting the inability of legislators to agree. When a statute's implications are unclear, judges sometimes look to the law's legislative history-- ie, what Congresspeople said while introducing it, debating it and approving it. Thus, what is said and not said on the floor can be critical to divining the statute's purpose and, ergo, implications for a so-called enemy combatant's civil rights.

The Democratic sponsor of the DTA insisted, on the record, that the bill did not remove
Hamdan from the Court's jurisdiction. The two Republican senators who co-sponsored the bill argue that it does, predictably enough. The problem is that the Republican sponsors didn't get their statements on the record, but inserted them after the bill was passed. In other words, they doctored the Congressional record after the fact. No legislator heard their arguments, and thus no one agreed, disagreed or debated on the record. But the governnment brief cites it, insistently, as evidence of legislative intent.

This is gross. I'd have gotten canned as a reporter if I'd done something like this.

New Song for Law School House Parties

Yes, we law students are all dorks. Some less than others. But this song's so good that even my "hip" friends should dig it.

I Like Ike

Last night, Jonathan and I saw "Why We Fight," a documentary about the military-industrial-Congressional-think-tank complex. Aside from its momentary demonization of the beast of "capitalism," the movie was damn good. It passed muster even with Jonathan, who is skeptical of jeremiads of any sort.

Here's the boiled-down version:

Dwight Eisenhower, five star-general in WWII and president from 1953 to 1961, warned the country in his farewell address of a "military-industrial complex" that would seek "unwarranted influence" in government and could portend a "disastrous rise of misplaced power." He warned:
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

The whole speech is worth reading, by the way. Eisenhower's eloquence, humility and, above all, decency stand in total contrast to our president's posturing arrogance.

Lo and behold, his predictions were spot-on. The military-industrial complex is entrenched in even the hearts of our most ostensibly pacifist politicians. Think tanks provide easy-to-digest ideology to prop it up. Reporters eager for front-page stories hype up threats. We assuage our consciences by telling ourselves that smart bombs prevent civilian deaths. Why do we fight? It's as if we have no alternative-- that behemoth must feast, and it's finely enough tuned to thwart any obstacle.

None of this is new, but seeing it on screen is just horrifying. After seeing the movie, one of my friends sent out a plaintive email to a group of friends, exhorting us to "do something." I second the sentiment but doubt that much of anything can be done--the MI complex is just too sophisticated and big. (Sorry, friend!) I predict that we're headed for self and possibly world annihilation. From the ashes, perhaps, something decent will rise up. I hope I change my mind.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Gitmo (detainees outta there)

Scalia: Guantanamo detainees with civil court rights, my ass!!

The big question here is-- and indulge me, please-- whether Scalia's comments to some Swiss law students will disqualify him from participating in the Hamdan v. Rumsfeld case, to be heard tomorrow. Chief Justice Roberts isn't, as he wrote the appellate opinion up for review. If Scalia's gone, that would leave only Thomas and Alito holding down the staunch-conservative fort.

To blog, perchance to dream....

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Buy This Book!!

I don't know much about baseball, let alone the fantasy kind. In fact, I once came face-to-face with a Strat-o-Matic and ran out of the room, screaming.

But I do know that Sam Walker is a terrific writer and reporter-- funny, astute, gifted in all things metaphor. Plus he's in the Pooja Hall of Fame for Favorite People. Plus his book aobut fantasy baseball weirdos is getting outta-the-park
reviews. So if you have any interest in the Great American Pastime (read: freaky subcultures), buy it!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Yesterday was the first official day of spring, and though last night's winds slapped my face, the weather seems to have gotten its act together today. It's glorious! Nothing can beat Cambridge for the clear azure skies.

Accordingly, I decided to cut my Local Government law class and to bask in the sun and the glory that is being a third-year law student. On Saturday, I realized that I will actually have to work next year-- and said realization hurt!! The student life has allowed me to postpone thinking about the world of work, and though a firm hired me months ago, I had been living in my own delusional, madcap world-- reading what I wanted, when I wanted; ditto writing; ditto talking; ditto thinking. Busting 80 hour weeks reading documents, advising, like, the insurance industry, supplicating to partners-- that, I realized, is what I signed on for. WHAT WAS I THINKING???

More cutting seemed in order. So next, I cut
eight inches. Check it out, kiddos!

What say you? Shall I go shorter?

Monday, March 20, 2006

My Genius Sister

Answer: This beautiful, brilliant Californian just scored a spot on Jeopardy! on April 17.

Question: My sister, Priya B. Yerasi!!!!

EDIT (with thanks to Carl):
Question: Who is my sister, Priya B. Yerasi?

Friday, March 17, 2006

Three Years On

We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it.We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it. We broke it, we own it.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

George Redeemed

George Clooney disavows his ill-formed prose, reports Page Six:

On Monday, a blog ... ostensibly written by Clooney, was posted on the site. But it turns out the quotes were compiled from Clooney interviews. "Miss Huffington's blog is purposefully misleading," Clooney said yesterday.

Aw, George, I'm sorry I lost my faith in you. That language, which I excerpted on Monday, was too bad to be true.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Indians are taking over the world!! The Times reports that Mumbai's dhabbawallas are making inroads in the Bay Area and New York. Admittedly, the U.S. version of the lunch-delivery system lacks the elegance of the original, a 120-year-old trade in which men transport some 200,000 tiffins (lunch boxes), prepared by mothers or wives or kitchen servants, to office workers in downtown Mumbai. Over here, it's just a glorified, home-cooked take-out service. But the article does confirm one thing I've been telling my friends for years: restaurant Indian food cannot compare to Mom's.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Pill of Eating and Forgetting

The sleep drug Ambien has created a class of ravenous zombies. Apparently they sleepwalk to the kitchen, consume thousands of calories, and stumble back to bed. In the morning, the somnophages have no memory of their eating.

Judie Evans said she began taking Ambien while recovering from back surgery. At the time, she was in a full body cast and needed assistance to get out of bed. During this time, Ms. Evans, who is 59 and lives alone, began to notice that food was missing from her refrigerator. She accused two nursing aides who were caring for her of stealing food. It was not until her son came to spend several nights that Ms. Evans said she realized that despite the body cast, she was getting up to eat while she was asleep. "During the day, I couldn't even make it to the bathroom by myself," Ms. Evans said. The first night her son was there, he found her standing in the kitchen, body cast and all, frying bacon and eggs. The next night he found her eating a sandwich, Ms. Evans said, and sent her back to bed.

Unconscious gluttony: American consumers at their best!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Getting Over Star Fucking

On my 26th birthday, I dined on tapas and swigged sangria with a bunch of friends. Around 1am, Jonathan and I ended up at Cipriani Downtown, canoodling over chocolate torte. At the next table sat George Clooney, who was totally checking me out. Fuck it, he was making love to me with his eyes. Either that, or he was leering at the torte. Anyway, I've been swoony for Clooney ever since-- rakish, smoldering, swarthy, suave, playful George.

Today, however, came the awful truth. GC is a horrible, horrible writer! Even genuine passion cannot excuse writing like this:

But turn away from saying "I'm a liberal" and it's like you're turning away from saying that blacks should be allowed to sit in the front of the bus, that women should be able to vote and get paid the same as a man, that McCarthy was wrong, that Vietnam was a mistake. And that Saddam Hussein had no ties to al-Qaeda and had nothing to do with 9/11.

What's a girl to do?

The Theory? It's All for the Ladies

Slavoj Zizek has it all: A name that you have to hear to pronounce correctly (try Jhee-Jek); a new, ga-ga-for-you, quasi-demogoguish documentary; and, even a "Go Atheists!" editorial in the Sunday Times.

And let's not even talk about his hot new Argentine wife!

Any predictions on when he'll jump the shark?

Saturday, March 11, 2006


This guy looks like:
my father (with more hair)
an uncle or two
my criminal law professor
an ex-boyfriend, in 20 years

Ah, so sad. His name is Ali Qaissi, and he's only 43, and he says he's the guy in the picture he's holding, and now he's a prisoners' rights activist. "I forgive the people who did these things to us," he told the reporter. "But I want their help in preventing these sorts of atrocities from continuing."

I find this picture odd-- given Qaissi's superhuman magnamity and that he's worked so hard to recover his dignity and to help restore it to thousands of detainees, why are his eyes downcast?

Friday, March 10, 2006


When a rival stumbles or enemy falls, I don't get gleeful; instead, I suddenly realize that my adversary is a person, too, and often I start to hurt for him or her. Weakness disarms me. I wanted to cry when Saddam Hussein, looking like a homeless person, was forced to submit to medical examinations on video. I spent months hating Judith Miller, the Times reporter who cozied up to Scooter Libby and planted the administration's false WMD stories in her paper-- until she became an object of universal derision. And that imperious future Stepford Wife in my Negotiation class? Saw her cry and fell in love.

So I guess I shouldn't be surprised about my muddled reaction to the news that George W. Bush's ratings have fallen to an all-time low of 37 percent. Don't get me wrong-- I don't feel sorry for him: he's used too much power too destructively and he's too egregiously abused the public trust. But, like Tony Kushner, I used to fantasize about someone assassinating him!

Maybe what I'm feeling is that it's too-little-too-late: the American people have only NOW wised up to W's incompetence and power lust. If only it'd happened six years ago.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Stop Smoking, Start Chewing

Newspapers report, gleefully, that American smoking rates have plummeted to levels not seen since the 1950s. Researchers credit the massive public health campaign that began 20 years ago, the multi-billion dollar tobacky settlement (which raised both awareness and cigarette prices), and the smoking bans cities and states have enacted.

I've got another hypothesis: Nicotine gum. I quit smoking months ago-- which I'm quite happy about-- but my Nicorette consumption has spiraled out of control. I pound at least a dozen pieces a day-- more when I'm working on a paper-- which means I'm taking in much more nicotine than I ever did when I smoked. I'm like a former junkie addicted to meth.

And it's not just me. Check out this concerned wife, who complains that her erstwhile smoker spouse has a tizzy when he doesn't have his gum. Last year, I took two classes from a professor who popped the junk like no one's business. (But only in his long, long classes, when he couldn't take a real smoking break outside.) And a friend from New York-- who has his MD-- got hooked on the stuff even though he's never had a cigarette.

Maybe I should bring a class action lawsuit against GlaxoSmithKline, which boasts that its gums are softer, mintier and easier to chew than any others.

Oh, God, Nicorette is turning me into an ambulance chaser!

Let Me Be Clear: Extraordinary Perdition

The U.S. Department of State released its annual Human Rights report yesterday. It was promptly ripped by NGOs like Amnesty International because, like each of its predecessors, it kept mum about U.S. practices. Hey, it even accused Egypt and Jordan of torturing detainees, but failed to admit that some of the torturees might have been shipped over by the U.S.

"Let me be clear: We do not send detainees to countries if we believe that they will be subjected to torture," said the assistant secretary for human rights at the press conference. Funny, almost every claim administration that officials preface with "Let me be clear" is blatantly false. I never know whether to laugh, cry or just shake my head. Thank goodness for blogs.

Friday, March 03, 2006

One More Thing, and an Explanation

Denver, Colorado: Refuge for Bollywood stars. "I don't get mobbed here," say Madhuri Dixit.

Okay, that's all. I haven't been posting this week because a draft of my 3L paper (read: bullshit requirement they give us to think we're getting our tuition's worth) is due tomorrow. I've only begun writing it. But yes, it will be the bomb: It's about how modern marriage reproduces the social hierarchy even while claiming to transgress it. Yeah, baby. Give me some Bourdieu!!

I will post a more polished version here when that happens. Meanwhile, wish me luck. It's going to be a long weekend.

surrogate posting

I am letting my friend Irina do my work today.

Thanks, doll! I hear you!