Is There A Worse Way To Die Than This?

30 04 2010

A man in China has died after an eel that was inserted into his rectum ate through his intestines, causing internal bleeding.  The Guanabee article reads:

The 59 year-old chef–whose name has not been disclosed– was taken to a Sischuan hospital with severe anal bleeding, abdominal pain. Local doctors, unable to figure out what was causing the symptoms obtained permission from the family to conduct a laparotomy– a surgical incision into the abdominal wall done to examine the abdominal organs.

Once inside, the doctors found a 50cm long, dead Asian swamp eel stuck in the man’s rectal region. The slithery fish had bit it’s way through the intestine. The man was then taken to the intensive care unit, but died ten days later from internal bleeding and sepsis.

But how did the eel end up in the man’s anus? According to reports, the chef had consumed copious amounts of eel the day before, but doctors couldn’t figure out how a live eel ended up in his rectum. Eventually, his friends confessed to have inserted the live eel up his anus as a joke after the man passed out from drinking heavily.

I mean, I’ve heard of some crazy practical jokes, but this is by FAR the least acceptable of them all.  When your drunk friend passes out, you take a permanent marker and draw a penis on his face.  You don’t stick a live, flesh-eating eel up his butt.

China continues to impress me with its general absurdity and awesomeness.


Harvard Law Scandal Challenges Our Definitions of “Racism”

29 04 2010

Harvard Law School

It’s tabloid week here at District Ramblings, so today I’m featuring a scandal from a different kind of gossip mag– namely, Above the Law: News, Gossip and Colorful Commentary on Law Firms and the Legal Profession. In other words, Perez Hilton for dweebs (I say that lovingly, law student boyfriend).

According to the gossip site, yesterday, a 3L student at Harvard Law who is on law review and has a federal clerkship for next year (superbadass) wrote the following statement in an email to a group of people with whom he had just enjoyed a spirited debate at dinner:

“I absolutely do not rule out the possibility that African Americans are, on average, genetically predisposed to be less intelligent. I could also obviously be convinced that by controlling for the right variables, we would see that they are, in fact, as intelligent as white people under the same circumstances. The fact is, some things are genetic.”

GASP! This e-mail was somehow leaked to the rest of the law community, where it obviously caused quite a stir and was eventually picked up by the juiciest of juicy legal tabloid mags (I’m increasingly amused by this whole ‘legal tabloid’ concept, in case you can’t tell).

According to the article, the Harvard Black Law Students Association (HBLSA) has refused to take a public stance on the issue, preferring to distance itself from the controversy.  Some are calling the e-mail racist and saying that HBLSA is copping out by not responding, and others are saying the e-mail wasn’t racist at all.  The article’s author writes:

Let me play devil’s advocate for a second…. If we accept “race” as a biological concept — which I realize is questionable, becoming diluted through intermarriage, etc. — is it really so insane to suggest that some races might, ON AVERAGE, possess certain qualities to a greater or lesser degree than other races?

For example, would it be racist to say that, ON AVERAGE, African-Americans are taller than Asian-Americans? Or that Caucasians are more likely to have blond hair than Asian-Americans? Or is the issue that we don’t think intelligence is at all tied to genetics?

I am just asking questions here. I’m not taking a position. I’m just, as Elie likes to say, “exploring the studio space.”

Second, in an academic environment, it’s not helpful to respond to ideas — even bad ones — by throwing around “-ist” labels: e.g., racist, sexist, Fascist. Instead of calling your opponents names, like “racist” or “sexist” or “homophobe,” you should respond to arguments you don’t like with better arguments, accompanied by evidence.

Rational debate. Isn’t that what free speech and academic discourse — and, incidentally, the practice of law — are all about?

Now, I think the author does have a point– I think we should be very careful about removing certain arguments or points of view from the entire realm of what can be up for debate.  At the same time, I do believe what the Harvard student wrote can be construed as racist in the sense that she suggests the possibility that African-Americans are biologically less intelligent than white people, when she could have said something that didn’t imply a specific inferiority, such as, “I do not rule out the possibility that one race could be genetically predisposed to be more or less intelligent than another.”  I still think that comment would be 100% wrong, but at least it would come off as far less “racist” than asserting the possibility that blacks are genetically less intelligent than whites, which was one of the main justifications of slavery and the Jim Crow laws.

What I don’t understand is how this became so newsworthy.  Harvard Law Students are no more exempt from racism than anyone else, so why is the world is shocked when one of them reveals (in what was supposed to be a private e-mail) her less than politically correct thoughts about a particular subject?  Racism is rampant in the Ivy Leagues, just as it is rampant all over the country.  But if a tabloid mag got ahold of some Southern redneck’s e-mail saying the same thing, nobody would be surprised in the least.  This, to me, is just another example of Harvard students thinking their shit doesn’t stink and then being shocked when it actually does.

Personally, I am amused by the whole situation, and I am interested to see whether anything happens to that guy’s fancy federal clerkship.

Oh, Heavens!

28 04 2010

Wow.  I was definitely ‘blindsided’ by this juicy piece of news.  I’m surprised People mag didn’t entirely self-destruct when they got the scoop.

Apparently, Sandra Bullock and Jesse James secretly adopted a baby three months ago. The baby, who was born in New Orleans in January, is named Louis Bardo Bullock, and will be called “Louie” after Louis Armstrong.  They were planning to keep the baby a secret until the Oscars, and then right as they were about to share the good news with the world, a different, less joyous story broke and killed all the magic.

Aw, isn’t that baby PRECIOUS?  I want to steal him and make him watch “How to Train Your Dragon 3D” with me.

Here’s the shitty part: Sandra announced to People magazine that, in addition to having a secret adopted baby, she was definitely filing for divorce. The HuffPost story reads:

“Yes, I have filed for divorce,” the 45-year-old Oscar-winning actress said in an interview with People. “I’m sad and I am scared.”Bullock and James, 41, began the adoption process four years ago, the report said, and brought 3 1/2-month-old Louis Bardo Bullock home in January but decided to keep the news to themselves until after the Academy Awards.

In the interview, Bullock said she is savoring her new maternal status.

“You wake up, you feed, you burp, you play, you do laundry,” she said. “I’m still in that stage where I’m just amazed with him and at life.”

“All I said when I met him was, ‘Oh, there you are.’ It was like he had always been a part of our lives.”

The baby, called Louie, is named after jazz great Louis Armstrong, who had particularly touched her with his signature song, “What a Wonderful World,” said Bullock. The child was born in New Orleans, a city where Bullock and James had both spent time after Katrina.

Bullock said she got the call that a baby might be available for adoption during what she described as “the media craziness of the awards season.

Deciding to shield Louis from that turmoil, she kept his existence a secret from all but a few trusted associates and loved ones. Her life (and his) became an ongoing process of secrecy and diversion.

Sigh.  Now, I knew Sandra was pissed when she found out her husband cheated with a bunch of tattoo models and strippers.  I knew she was really, really pissed, and I felt bad for her already.  But imagine finding out your husband cheated on you THREE MONTHS after you adopted a newborn baby together.  OMG.  I would run over him with one of the motorcycles he built, and then tattoo a big “F*CK YOU” across his forehead with his own tattoo needle while he was unconscious.  And then poke him in the eye with it.  I’m serious.  I would.

Here is Jesse’s response statement, courtesy of Dlisted:

“My whole life has been full of hard decisions.The decision to let my wife end our marriage, and continue the adoption of Louis on her own, has been the hardest. The love I have for Louis cannot be put to words. Not having him around to love and to hold has left a huge hole in my heart.

Sandy is the love of my life, but considering the pain and devastation I have caused her, it would be selfish to not let her go. Right now it is time for me to beat this addiction that has taken two of the things I love the most in life.

I have always taken great pride in proving people wrong. That time has come once again to show that I am not what everyone says I am. I know in my heart that I can be the best father possible to my four children, and the mate Sandy deserves, and realize that this is an incredible mountain to climb. But I believe that the steps I have taken in the last 30 days are the foundation for making this happen. The lifelong commitment I am making is what being a real husband and father is all about.

I ask that you please do not judge Sandy for the things I have done. She has done no wrong. She played no part in any of this. She has been an amazing wife, mother, and best friend, for the over 6 years we have been together.”

Aw, poor you.  You’ve had so many tough decisions to make, including letting your wife divorce you and raise the baby on her own.  What a freaking martyr you are.  And don’t worry… nobody’s judging Sandy. We’re judging you, you lying sack of fertilizer.

Cheers to Sandra and her beautiful baby.  I hope she finds a better man to share her life with, but even if she doesn’t, I hope she finds the personal strength and support from her friends to take care of that baby on her own and give him all the love and attention he deserves.

Halliburton Rape Trial Update

27 04 2010

Jamie Leigh Jones

Good news for Jamie Leigh Jones, the KBR/Halliburton employee who was gang-raped in Iraq by a bunch of her co-workers and then locked into a room without water, food or a phone: Halliburton has decided to drop its Supreme Court appeal to ban her from bringing her case to court.

In case you don’t remember the details of the case, when Jones signed her Halliburton employee contract, she neglected to read the small print that required her to settle any civil or criminal case she had against the company through arbitration instead of court.  Settling a gang-rape case through arbitration would be much more favorable to Halliburton than a trial by jury, so Jones brought her case to Congress, who then pushed through a law that withholds government defense contracts from companies who “restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court.”

Despite the fact that the legislation was signed after the Jones incident, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with Jones that her case could be litigated in civil court because the rapes were not related to her employment with Halliburton.  Halliburton initially appealed that decision through the Supreme Court, seeking to block her from bringing her case to trial, but now they have decided to withdraw the appeal to avoid the risk of possibly violating the new legislation.  One small step for Halliburton, one giant leap for everyone who thinks they are sinister assholes.

Jones is set to go to trial in May 2011, which is sure to be terrible for her, but at least justice is going to be served.

The Relationship Checklist

26 04 2010

In an article in yesterday’s Times of London, reporter Shane Watson gives young single women a little dating advice so as to avoid the kind of predicament that has befallen Elin Nordegren, whose husband, as we all know, has cheated on her approximately a dozen times.  Watson’s main argument is that women should stick to a rigid “shopping list” of qualities a man has to have in order to be considered for life partnership.

Her suggested checklist:

“1. Must genuinely like women (as in all women, not just fit under-thirties). You can test this. Your fat single best friend will help. Also, he should totally get Sue Perkins, Miranda Hart and scary Sue in Glee.
2. Must have some men friends from way back (and, no, footballers do not count).
3. Must be kind. Without exceptions. Mean cracks about SuBo or Patsy Kensit or Rebecca Adlington are a giveaway.
4. Must not be gay. (Seriously. I know at least three people who married gay men thinking they were just artistic. It doesn’t end happily, ever). Can be almost gay and should genuinely enjoy Mamma Mia! and Alan Carr.
5. Must be capable of equating love with responsibility. Owning a dog is a start.
6. Must have a passion besides you (his work would be a good one).
7. Must have the same attitude as you to sex, money and family. (How much of each is desirable. The best use of it, and so on.) Shopping together and agreeing on what the word “holiday” means is a bonus.
8. Must have some pride.  Note: infidelity is not a deal-breaker for everyone (see Jude and Sienna). But being willing to sell your last ounce of self-respect definitely is.”

Now, I think this is a decent checklist.  With the exception of the man having to genuinely enjoy Glee and Mamma Mia! (we’d all be single forever), these qualities are all definitely necessary for a successful relationship.  Problem is, these qualities are pretty broad and definitely wouldn’t guarantee against infidelity as the article suggests. It’s very possible that when Elin met Tiger, he genuinely liked women, had man-friends from way back, was kind (from what Elin could tell), was clearly not gay, owned a dog, was passionate about golf, had the same attitude as her about sex, money and family at the time, and had plenty of pride.  Maybe there were some warning signs that she overlooked because he was a rich, famous golfer, but it’s also possible that he completely pulled the wool over her eyes.

I’m not sure that a universal “shopping list” can ever fully cover what we are supposed to look for in a life partner. Sure, you want a man that’s kind and not gay, but that still allows for any manner of psychological problems and relationship incompatibilities.  So I would add to my personal checklist:

9. Makes a strong effort to bond with my friends and family, male and female.
10. Deals with conflicts in a mature, rational, problem-solving sort of way.
11. Doesn’t take himself too seriously (i.e. can both dish it and take it).
12. Is adventurous and open to trying new things (food-wise, travel-wise, etc.).
13. Is genuinely compassionate towards people who are less fortunate than him (this goes beyond simple kindness)
14. Is emotionally available (i.e. can be affectionate and express his feelings towards me without difficulty)
15. Takes pride in executing certain basic house maintenance issues, such as changing lightbulbs, opening that stubborn jar of pickles, plunging/trouble-shooting non-functional toilets and shoveling snow off the steps.
And finally:
16. Has great taste in music, because I’m just not sure I could respect someone who didn’t.

Tiger may have sailed through the first checklist, but you can bet your ass he didn’t make the cut on mine.

What’s on your list?

Wait… am I an adult?

23 04 2010

I think that, technically speaking, I’m an adult. I look like an adult.  I’m the right age to be an adult.  I can drive, vote, buy liquor, rent a car, sign for a hotel room, pay taxes, nurture plants, etc.

But I don’t really feel like an adult.  I feel like a 26-year-old intern living in a mouse-infested frat house with a 34-year-old toddler who can’t even get it together to pay our gas bill.

That’s right– our gas was turned off this week.  No hot showers, no working stove.  So we opened our roommate’s mail to find a notice of discontinuation because he hadn’t paid the gas bill in three months.  Luckily for him, he is currently traveling in Asia, so he hasn’t had to face us yet…or the burnt popcorn we dumped in his underwear drawer as retribution.

You know, if I had been born in the 1930s, I would probably be married with 2.5 kids by now. I’d have a house, a dog, a lovely red sofa, my own cookware, and blossoming garden of herbs.  I’m not saying that’s necessarily preferable, although it is a stark contrast to my current living situation, where three adult women and two adult men share a kitchen the size of a postage stamp with a rarely-functional dishwasher, an old couch that is so torn up we have to strategically cover the rough spots with “throw blankets,” and one storage closet that our landlord has locked us out of because he felt like it was “too cluttered” with our belongings.

For this reason, I am thrilled to announce that yesterday, I closed the deal on a shiny new house in Mount Pleasant where three girlfriends and I will be relocating on the first of June.  This house is far superior to my current house because A) it has a yard and a deck, B) it has a pool table that converts into a dining room table, C) we will be bringing our own furniture, D) our landlord is allowing me to adopt a dog and E) my roommates are all (well, mostly) clean, responsible women who are just as excited about having a normal, well-kept house as I am and will actually pay our utility bills.

Every time I think about this new house, I picture myself reclining on the front porch with a little dog on my lap and a mug of freshly-brewed coffee in my hand, playing scrabble with my roommates and waving to our young, hip neighbors as they pass.  Oh, it’s going to be glorious.

How to Train Your Dragon…

21 04 2010

…just surpassed “Sword and the Stone” as my favorite animated movie of all time.  The animation, the medieval setting, the story, the characters, the clever one-liners, the anti-war-mongering, animal-loving message– totally adorable.  It’s as great for adults as it is for kids, but it definitely made me want to run out of the theatre, grab as many small children as I could find, drag them all back into the theatre, buy them some 3D glasses and watch their little faces as the movie unfolds.  Le sigh.

Rotten Tomatoes page, in case you don’t believe me: