Saturday, April 30, 2005

The Thing I Can't Blog About

Yesterday (April 29th) was our first doctor's appointment. BioMom was exactly 7 weeks and 5 days pregnant.

We are over-the-moon about it, but at the same time probably overly anxious. It is exactly a year ago that BioMom was pregnant and ultimately miscarried.

Its so much different for both of us now. Where, last year, I wanted to shout from the rooftop, telling strangers, acquaintences and our closest all, this year I barely have the urge to tell my closest friends. And usually, when I do almost tell, it is not in the form of an announcement, but an aside, a part of the description of my every-day life.

I do, however, tell strangers. Strangers at Starbucks, strangers at our sandwich shop, the waitress at our sushi place (who, maybe shouldn't be counted as a stranger since we ALWAYS flirt with her). Strangers are my outlet.

Anyway, we expected some relief after this first doctor's appointment. We were hoping for some reassurance, statistical or otherwise.

You're FINE! I can GUARANTEE that you won't have another miscarriage!

Oh. . . No. You won't miscarry again! Only 30 percent of all women have miscarriages and even fewer have more than one! So, no. . . Don't worry at all!


Of course, we get Dr. Realistic. Dr. I-don't-want-to-get-sued-so-I'm-not-going-to-blow-smoke-up-your-ass-with-falsely-reassuring-statistics!

Me: We're out of the dark with the ectopic pregnancy now, aren't we? I mean, that thing's the size of a cherry [I'd been on the Internet, of course, looking up every detail and searching out every ache and pain BioMom reported since week 4!] so if it were in her tubes, she'd be writhing with pain, no?

Dr. Frank: Actually no. It is surprisingly difficult to diagnose and ectopic pregnancy and we see them well into the 8th week. If you have severe pains and/or bleeding feel free to call. To WAKE US UP if you have to.

Me: [shit].

BioMom: And miscarriage? Since we had one already, isn't there a smaller chance that we'd have another?

Dr. Frank: Well, actually, statistically you have the same chance of a miscarriage every time you get pregnant so. . .

And then came the really stressful information: the NUMBERS. Being the ripe-old-age of 38, [and, of course, Dr. Frank had to point out that she'd be 39 by the due date] the risk for down syndrome is 1/137 and the risk for chromosome abnormalities is 1/103. So, they give you all of these options to test to see if the baby has any of these issues. The screening tests are noninvasive and therefore not risky, but they only give you probabilities (albeit better, or I should say more accurate, than the ones for the general population). If you want more accuracy, you have to accept more risk. Technology has gotten better, but not much less risky. The amnio results in a miscarriage 1/200 times whereas this new test, the CVS results in miscarriage 1/100 times.

AND these are only 2 of 200 googleplex possible problems. And that doesn't even count one's they can't possibly measure like will the kid smoke crack when he's 13? or will she get preganant in her sophomore year in high school?

Needless to say, we left the Dr.'s office more anxious than when we entered.

Five Year Old Dr.'s Appt

Today was the FYO's doctor's appointment. Shots and all.

Her doctor's name-no kidding-is "Dr. Nice" and she basked in his attention during the appointment.

One of the things that makes five adorable is the sheer randomness of her thought process and how, when she tells a story, she is really enunciating what is important to her and, sometimes, that's the only way you find out what is important to her. What is going on in that five-year-old brain.

A couple of highlights from this morning:

When I go like this [putting finger on forehead] I can feel my SKULL.

I have a new bunk bed.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Profit Motive?

I am always skeptical that time of the year when I discuss the theory of the firm in my microeconomics courses. The first word out of the textbook is always that the goal of the firm is to maximize profits.

It seems to me that firms have a much larger role in a capitalist/democratic society, and that weilding power in other realms, while possibly profit-oriented, has other motives.

Evidence that Microsoft hired extreme-rightist-anti-abortion-activist Ralph Reed to the tune of $20k/mo only bolsters my suspicions.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

More Unbelievable Student Antics

Dear Professor-Expected-Pushover:
I have a bit of a problem that I had not realized until now. Our last day of class is May 5th, and I unintelligently scheduled an appointment a while back for dental surgery back home on that day. I will therefore not be able to attend class. I know that I can simply hand my papers in early, but I am concerned about the short oral presentation required. Is there an alternative that I can do for this?
Cheers!
Student-Semi-Conscious

Sunday, April 24, 2005

FHB

Tonight was the first of what I expect will be many lessons in famly-specific etiquette (FSE).

Sidekick was over after a few rigorous loops around the block (Tour-de-Garfield) with only one minor crash into an unsuspecting tree, and we were enjoying the unique and varied dining experience of Sunday leftovers.

The girls were sharing some noodles mixed with other stuff like tomatoes and chicken, which, to their palates were insignifcant in relation to the creamy-noodl-y goodness.

All was copacetic until the FYO started digging into the last portion of the noodles. Well, okay, that was not yet the turning point of the night. While she controled the dish, all was good.

Can I jsut eat out of the [serving] dish?

Sure. That's fine.
There is something so natural and innocent about kids' desires. You almost hate to ruin them with socialization. I imagined her eating her college noodles (i.e. raman) out of the pan. Why dirty a dish? A natural and economical conclusion. And then later, at her wedding reception, grabbing the serving platter into her own hands and licking out the remains. Everyone at her table looking at her in horror. The noodle-juice spilling all over her formerly white strappy gown.

Then Sidekick got interested. MORE Noodles? [Said like "Scoobysnack"?].

When the FYO's natural reaction to Sidekick's spoon entering her personal atmosphere was to kick out her elbow like a Heisman trophy, we knew that it was time to discuss Family-Specific-Dining-Etequette-Numero-Uno, FHB.

According to the Rule of Family Hold Back, when a specific food item has been deemed FHB, under no circumstance will a member of the immediate family (extended if necessary) be found imbibing in said food item.

This rule is a holdover from BioMom's family book of rules. Based on her account, (poor, indeed, but the only thing available to me at the time of this writing) no one dared break the FHB rule. A single look from grandma or grandpa would send BioMom and her three sisters away from the meatballs and brownies and toward the jello-salad.

Understandably, the FYO was nonplussed by the new constraint to her dining experience.

NO!!!!!! ITS. NOT. FAIR!!!!!!!!!!


And yes, this came out of my mouth: Life's not fair.

Apparently, the five-year-old brain has not yet reached that level of cognitive development which recognizes the futility of repitition.

NO!!!!! ITS! NOT!! FAIR!!!

It may not be fair, but those are our family rules.

WHAT IF SHE EATS IT ALL???? ITS NOT FAIR!!!


You'd think she were emaciated.

Doc

My brother just got a new yellow lab puppy. He's not crazy religious- well, not in the evangelical sense anyway- and held a christening at his house yesterday.

Here's a great little slideshow of the event, sent by his pal.

Priceless.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

And. . . David Brooks is One Step Away

This, via Bitch.Phd, is just one step away from the Gay Marriage Amendment as well. . .

J.H.C.

Has anyone ever heard of the bill of rights? NOT open to legislative interpretation or popular vote, by the way.

To Answer Bitch.PhD's question: Are the workings of the Bush administration close enough to fascism yet to start worrying people?

YES!! Sweaty palms and all . . .

Homophobia Continued

Oh yeah. In addition to Bachman and Anwar, we've got the election of St. Benedict XVI:

Ratzinger has been prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith since 1981 and dean of the College of Cardinals since 2002. In 1986, Ratzinger issued his notorious "Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons," stating of homosexuality that "the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder." Also in the letter, after deploring anti-gay violence, Ratzinger justified it: "[W]hen civil legislation is introduced to protect behavior to which no one has any conceivable right, neither the Church nor society at large should be surprised when other distorted notions and practices gain ground, and irrational and violent reactions increase." His sympathy for violent reactions recalls the phrase in Leviticus 20:13, "their blood shall be on their own heads." In the same letter, Ratzinger called gay rights advocacy a threat to the family.

Bold friggin mine.

Maybe we should rethink the Annunciation decision for the FYO. . .

Homophobic Americans

This morning, while riding to school and listening to MPR, I heard the voice of Minnesota Senator Michelle Bachman bloviating on the gay marriage amendment. She claims that, if put to vote, nearly 3/4 of Minnesotans will vote to amend the state's constitution to ban gay marriage.

This on top of Anwar's elimination from American Idol last night. I know, I know, maybe you didn't expect that I'd watch the show. I usually don't, but BioMom and the FYO lured me into the dark side this season and I am captivated.

BioMom heard a nasty rumor that Anwar was gay and worried that that would cause his demise.

Alas. Her prediction came true.

I wonder if he had been more 'out' and campy, would Americans have tolerated his homosexuality in the same way that Americans seem to love Carson on Queer Eye? Were Americans offended by his discretion? What do you think?

Friday, April 15, 2005

School Days

So, the school decision is finally over. The FYO is going to a neighborhood catholic school, Annunciation.

The other night at dinner, the FYO asked

Why do I have to go to that school?


Out of the blue, like most of her questions and statements. And then she added

Its so GODY.


I heard "gawdy" and was confused. The school itself is DARLING from the outside. Not gawdy in the least. And when had she begun to develop her own architectural aesthetic anyway? I mean, we have been talking about the Walker's new building but hell! Gawdy???

But then I understood her newly invented adjective. . . God - y. Which I guess, really is not that much different.

No idea where she got that.

When we explained the cultural aspect of our choice she seemed to get it.

But I wanna go where [her cousin] goes!


But she obviously doesn't yet get the urban/suburban split yet and all the personality ramifications that go with it. Her cousins live in a way northern suburb that is a) even MORE pale, b) devoid of sidewalks and c) only close to chain restaurants and coffee shops.

On our way out of the neighborhood overpriced boutique grocer (which happens to be across the street from Annunciation and therefore nearly assuring them of our business for the next nine years) we stopped to put the receipt into the little Annunciation box.

Why are we doing that? She asked.

Oh. [Guessing.] I think that this store will give your school some money if we do this. You know, money for learning aids, like computers.

So I can email you?

Absolutely.


Priceless.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Minnesota AIDS Walk

I'm raising some bling for the Minnesota AIDS Walk and unabashedly asking for your support. A few years ago, my brother's t-cell count went below 200 and we all about had a heart attack. I just feel like I need to do something to help people out who aren't as lucky.

Children As Public Goods

My econ courses are oriented not around an analytical description of perfect competition, or the Neoclassical model, but around where the market fails to create an optimal equilibrium or, in the vernacular, "market failures". In my opinion, this is the entrance for policy discussions or, what makes economics interesting in the first place.

An interesting question that is relevant to all sorts of current topics ranging from gay marriage to work-life policies is the degree to which the government is responsible for families and children, both in terms of encouraging and supporting marriage (however defined) and in terms of financial support in terms of direct and indirect subsidies as well as direct transfers.

I have not done the research on the history of family policy in the US (or elsewhere for that matter) or seen a history on family-friendly policies, but there has been some work on the notion that children are public goods.

There are several definitions of public goods, here, and here for example and according to another FFE Samuelson et al.'s version of public goods had very restricted definitions: things that had to be provided by the government, if they were to be provided at all (Feminist Economics Listserve, 4/10/2005).

Recently Crooked Timber has commented on the topic as well, referencing yet another FFE (one of my personal favs).

More Male-Student Badgering and Indications of Further Declines in Student Evaluations

Yesterday during office hours, a student from my intermediate microeconomics course came in to "discuss a few things with me". I usually take this to mean: not the course material but something exogenous to problems, lectures, the text, etc.

He beat around the bush for a while. Called my office "homely" when he meant "home-y" and finally said:

You're office hours suck.

Really? Did you ever email me to tell me that?

No.

Well, I made it clear at the start of the class that I would be willing to come in at different times to accomodate your busy schedules.

Oh.

Did you ever email me with any questions on the material? I nearly always respond to students within a couple of hours. . . Even on weekends.

Um. No. . .

Don't you think that was your responsibility?

Sometimes I would have questions on the problems but then I would just put my book away and move on to another subject.

Oh. . . You could write down your questions and then bring them to class. Without asking questions during class, I have no idea what parts of the material you are misunderstanding.

Really? Well, that would be great! Maybe you should have told us at the beginning of the class that we could do that.


Me: Mouth agape. Speechless.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Annie Get Your Gun!!!

JHC. Sometimes its embarassing to teach in Wisconsin. . .

I wouldn't even BLOG that. . .

With the cash from some anonymous trust fund that our department has, we infrequently can attract some fairly big-named speakers to campus. And, for better or for worse, the funder prefers Nobel Prize winners.

I suppose I was somewhat starstruck at the possibility of meeting this particular winner, having Time on the Cross during the pursuit of my M.A., and then having studied the Economics of Slavery with one of his colleagues while in my pursuit of becoming a studente en perpetuity. I encouraged all of my students to attend, with the tagline that meeting a nobel prize winner is a unique opportunity, blah blah blah.

So, here I am, The Eternally Ungrateful.

I hated the talk (if you could call it a talk as he literally READ the paper that we were sent prior to his arrival. Of course, I had not personally read the paper prior to his arrival, but that isn't the point.) and thought it was ridiculous. The talk was on economic growth and some of the authors work on what he calls "technophysio evolution", which was interesting enough. But beyond that, I felt like the talk was un-academic, unsupported by any of the current and relevant literature, and, finally, un-inspired.

The ultimate blow to my by then wasted precious several hours was his discussion on relative poverty and concern over material distribution over time.

Those who worry about egalitarian issues tend to think about distribution in terms of material goods such as food, clothing and shelter which used to constitute over 80 percent of the consumption of households. To be poor in the decades before World War I was to be deprived of these tangible essentials of life and to be vulnerable to diseases and early death. In that age, things that you could see, count, weigh, or otherwise directly measure constituted the overwhelming output of an economy.

True enough.

The agenda for egalitarian policies that has dominated reform movements for most of the past century, the modernist agenda, was based on material redistribution. The critical aspect of a postmodern egalitarian agenda is not the distribution of money income, or food, or shelter, or consumer durables. Although there are still glaring inadequacies in the distribution of material commodities that must be addressed, the most intractable maldistributions in rich countries such as the United States are in the realm of spiritual or immaterial assets. These are the critical assets in the struggle for self-realization.

His term for this sort of poverty was spiritual estrangement.

Okay, granted, I'd rather be poor in 2005 than poor in 1905, but tell that homeless guy on the corner of 46th and Nicolet with his sign announcing to the world that he's hungry and out of work, that he should be worried about the Socratarian "Good life" rather than his next meal.

This argument drives me nuts and I get it all the time from students. They like to wash their hands of gender issues in the work place by saying that the gender wage gap is "getting better." With the implication that it will suddenly vanish in the near future, discrimination with it.

Tell that to the gal sitting next to you at the factory earning $0.23 less per hour (at 40 hours per week, 50 weeks per year and 40 years later, that's $18,400 my friend. And that's not counting raises, promotions, fringe benefits, or the loss that women experience from time off to have kids).

My copy of Time on the Cross (used from a library sale) remains unsigned by the author.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Relativity

Today we were at the park where they have the tire swing in which the FYO likes to spin wildly.

She likes to be spun so fast on that tire, its as though she is preparing to enter the Air Force Academy by simulating g-forces, showing the strength of her stomach. She gets going so fast that any tears, drool, spit, snot or other liquid substance eking from her facial orafices immediately flatten into droplets that slowly crawl down her cheeks, ultimately drying into a salty streak.

And still. It is not fast enough.

SPIN ME!! FASTER! HIGHER!!

Today she was having me spin her, post-sandwich, in tandem with Sidekick. They were sitting side-by-side, two/thirds of the tire, which made the spin quite lopsided--elliptical even--with the empty seat nearly swiping me at each wide orbit.

Sidekick wasn't LOVING it, so we moved into the slow lane to accomodate her seemingly weak stomach.

The FYO then announced that they would be switching places.

Why?

Because MY seat's the slow seat.

??

. . .

Aren't they the same?

No. When you spin us fast, it is just fine for me, but WAY to fast for her!


Thwarted again by her impeccable logic.

Friday, April 08, 2005

More Bullying... Does this happen to male professors?

Dear Professor BlogAuthor,

I spoke to you last Tuesday about my grade in ECO336. I have earned an AB on FWA#1, FWA#2, and on the midterm. I have been working hard, doing the readings, and attending class every day, but I am still stuck on an AB. It is important to me to bring up my grade to an A. I understand your point about A's being reserved for exceptional performances and that an AB is good, but I still wish to earn an A in the class. I am willing to do extra credit if that's what it takes to bring my final grade up to an A.
Thank you for discussing my grade with me. I appreciate your willingness to listen to my concerns.

Thank you,
Shameless-Grade-Grubber

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Refreshment Anyone?

Check this out via Taggert over at A Random Walk. Having moved Midwest to East and kicking-and-screaming back to Midwest, I would have thought the fault line would have been the Mississippi (as it is with trailer parks).

Assessment Strategy for Dating Services

Check out this site via HFRM#1. It is like ratemyprofessorsdotcom but for the singles crowd!

The economist in me applauds such informal evaluation strategies (even though they have kicked my arse). More information makes for better competition.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Professor As Benevolent Dictator?

Paul Krugman is right on in his April 5 New York Times column questioning the liberal bias at universities and the movement toward "academic freedom" which "would give students who think that their conservative views aren't respected the right to sue their professors.

He hypothesises that more liberals are in academia because of self-selection: the same sort of self-selection that leads Republicans to outnumber Democrats four to one in the military. The sort of person who prefers an academic career to the private sector is likely to be somewhat more liberal than average, even in engineering.

He then goes on to comment on the Republican-inspired "theocracy"-campaign to increase the "diversity of thought" on campuses. Note this typical "Bushspeak" (white is black/black is white) means exactly the opposite of what it sounds like.

Consider the statements of Dennis Baxley, a Florida legislator who has sponsored a bill that - like similar bills introduced in almost a dozen states - would give students who think that their conservative views aren't respected the right to sue their professors. Mr. Baxley says that he is taking on "leftists" struggling against "mainstream society," professors who act as "dictators" and turn the classroom into a "totalitarian niche." His prime example of academic totalitarianism? When professors say that evolution is a fact.

. . .

Think of the message this sends: today's Republican Party - increasingly dominated by people who believe truth should be determined by revelation, not research - doesn't respect science, or scholarship in general. It shouldn't be surprising that scholars have returned the favor by losing respect for the Republican Party.

Conservatives should be worried by the alienation of the universities; they should at least wonder if some of the fault lies not in the professors, but in themselves. Instead, they're seeking a Lysenkoist solution that would have politics determine courses' content.

And it wouldn't just be a matter of demanding that historians play down the role of slavery in early America, or that economists give the macroeconomic theories of Friedrich Hayek as much respect as those of John Maynard Keynes. Soon, biology professors who don't give creationism equal time with evolution and geology professors who dismiss the view that the Earth is only 6,000 years old might face lawsuits.


In light of this I am revamping my Women in the U.S. Economy course. Specifically the section on the division of household labor. Now, instead of a critique of Becker's application of trade theory to men and women in the household, I'll embrace it encouraging a return to the idealized 1950s housewife scrubbing and cleaning, making homemade pie,decorating easter eggs with home-made dyes, and delivering beers to the tv room for her loving benevolent dictator on efficiency grounds.

Let's see of the students buy that diverse opinion!

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Dessert Conversation

When there is even the slightest possibility of ice cream in the immediate future, the FYO becomes obsessed.

When can I have my ice cream? Is it vanilla? I WANTED vanilla!!! Is it vanilla? When can I have it?


Opening the freezer door: I'm just looking at my ice cream.

Taking the pint out of the freezer: I'm just getting it ready.

Then there's last night's plan: I don't want any chocolate sauce on my vanilla ice cream.

WHAAAA? No CHOCOLATE sauce?

No.

Who ARE you?

I'm [FYO's full name].

You simply CANNOT really be a member of this family if you don't want chocolate sauce on your ice cream.


When the time finally arrives, we all sit down with our little sundays, BioMom and I pouring the chocolate sauce over the, unfortunately, low-fat yogurt that we're eating instead of the lovely full-fat vanilla that the FYO is consuming.

OH-KAY. . . I'll TRY the chocolate sauce. . .

WHAAA? A change of mind?

Yeah. . . I'll TRY it, I said!


I pour it over half of her sunday and she tastes. . .

Teasing: Do you SEE now how WRONG you were????

Giggling: TOTALLY. I was TOTALLY WRONG!!!

Monday, April 04, 2005

The Dream

The other night I dreamt that BioMom was pregnant.

But my reaction wasn't joyful. I felt hurt and betrayed.

It was this bizarre circumstance. She had been out with a friend of ours, BigTimeLesbianLawyer, and apparently had to go to the hospital for an emergency.

BigTimeLesbianLawyer (BTLL) called me and I rushed to the hospital. While there, BioMom showed me a printout of her results, some of which indicated that she was pregnant. It turned out that she had told BTLL before me and told me in that half-assed inadvertent way.

Sublimating anyone?

Welcome to Blogsphere Hardass!

Mind Body Blow

Waiting for the Lakes to Drop

Before I moved up here I would never have considered the virtual sport of waiting for the lakes to drop.

No, this is not a version of chicken little. It is a real phenomenon where Minneapololosians predict when the last crust of ice on the many metropolitan lakes will be overtaken by the moving water and literally drop to the bottom.

It is fascinating, and I am unable to find a reference to lake dropping in Google, although I'll admit to having the wrong term (via BioMom).

I just rode past Lake Harriet and Lake Calhoun and neither lake had dropped.

Clearly, there are a few weeks left until spring is officially here.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

More on Casual Dating

April 3, 2005
Casual Relationships, Yes. Casual Sex, Not Really.
By ALEX WILLIAMS

FOR the young and the single in New York dating has always been a numbers game, whether it is tabulating the guy-to-girl ratio at a bar or guessing at the bank balance of the quarry across the dance floor. Still, it is not every night that a group of unattached young women in low-slung jeans sit around pondering questions that might stump a mathematician at Caltech, questions like can one plus nine ever equal just nine?

"I know a lot of people who will go home with the same guy they have before just because it's not going to raise their number," explained Jennifer Babbit, 26, a publicist.

"A lot of my friends will say: 'I started having sex with this guy, but it only lasted a minute. I don't know if it counted,' " offered Beth Whiffen, a former associate editor at Cosmopolitan.

The number in question is the total number of men that a woman has slept with, and the question is on their minds because they were among two dozen or so young Manhattanites who dropped by One Little West 12, a restaurant and club in the meatpacking district of Manhattan, on Tuesday to discuss "The Hookup Handbook: A Single Girl's Guide to Living It Up" by Andrea Lavinthal and Jessica Rozler, published last month (Simon Spotlight Entertainment).

The book's title and many of its guidelines ("Getting a room isn't just polite, it's a necessity") suggest that a new sexual revolution is afoot among a fast-and-loose generation nurtured on the wisdom of "Sex and the City," who see boyfriends as passé, dating as dated and the idea of commitment laughable. But an evening spent in the company of Ms. Lavinthal, Ms. Rozler and their friends suggests that mating rituals of the much-celebrated hookup culture, at least as practiced by young professional women, seems to owe as much to Doris Day as to Samantha Jones.

Yes, they take pride in having thrown off the shackles of earlier generations of single women. They are not waiting on Friday night hoping "he" will call. They make the first move. They happily see two or three guys simultaneously. Spontaneity is crucial, but even more is a good clean exit strategy from any guy who turns out to be Mr. Not Exactly.

"It's not that people aren't dating," explained Ms. Rozler, an editorial assistant at Allworth Press when she is not practicing nightclub anthropology. "It's that there's this weird gray area. People still want to be in relationships, but they don't want to be settling."

But even as they raise pink drinks in the air and roll their eyes at the absurdity of commitment, these are not women embracing sexual abandon. The courtship rites of this generation of urban singles seem to borrow from the mores of their grandmothers in the 1950's (date lots of boys; smooch, spoon, nuzzle or neck to your heart's content, but hold out for that pledge pin from Mr. Right) as much as from those of their mothers' love-the-one-you're-with 70's.

"Most girls don't have one-night stands," Ms. Whiffen said. "They might have one or two in their life."

Take the number discussion, for example. Yes, there are conquests, but there should not be too many of them. So among this group of women with three-inch heels tipping out of their $200 jeans what is the right number, that is, the last number before you hit the wrong one? Few women would want to go over 20, or even 15, Ms. Babbit said, because they would "think of themselves as big sluts."

"Ten at the most," Caroline Homlish, 24, summarized in a tone that brooked no dissent.

"A lot of girls are not having casual sex," explained Ms. Lavinthal, an editor at Cosmopolitan, even as she conceded that the title of her book had racy overtones.

It might come as a surprise that anyone under the age of 29 would need a definition for a term that has grown as ubiquitous in youth culture as customized ring tones. Still, the back cover of "The Hook-up Handbook" makes a stab at it: a hookup is "anything from making out to doing the nasty, generally with no commitment or plans for said commitment." But as Ms. Lavinthal and Ms. Rozler explain it, a hookup has less to do with what happens between people than with the surrounding circumstances: specifically, that the meeting is unplanned and even unexpected. "Nobody's waiting by the phone," Ms. Lavinthal said. "For one thing, you can take the phone with you."

Most women at the club expounded happily on what a hookup meant for them. "Late-night grinding on the dance floor, maybe a little groping" was one version, said Kate Kilgore, who is in public relations at Victoria's Secret Beauty. The few men who spoke up seemed to find the elastic nature of the term somewhat tiresome. "There are so many definitions," said Corey Zolcinski, a commercial real estate representative and disc jockey. "Some people think that it means meeting for a drink."

The age of the hookup certainly does not seem to mean a new era of free love. "I wish it were because my sex life would be much better," said Greg Kiely, 26, a former investment banker who is now applying to business graduate schools.

While men are obviously central to the "The Hookup Handbook" ethos (do you want to hook up with a Metroman or a Himbo tonight?), boyfriends are most definitely not. "A relationship isn't the easiest thing to maintain, but swearing off boys isn't a viable option either," the chapter on "Defensive Non-Dating" states. "The result of this epiphany: You refuse to put yourself out there. Instead, you just put out." As for the crowd assembled at One, where a party for Stolichnaya thundered in the background, the prospect of a serious relationship before the age of 25 seemed to hold all the appeal of a promotional party with a cash bar.

"It's not about courtship and the chase," Ms. Kilgore said. "It's not that it's a free-for-all like the 60's, but it's about independent women staking their claim, making their mark and doing what they want."

Ms. Kilgore estimated that out of a random group of 10 women her age, only two or three will have a steady boyfriend, and the pressure that existed even a decade ago to be seen having a boyfriend had lessened. That, she said, is liberating. "I'll go through phases where I'm hooking up or making out with a guy a week," she said matter-of-factly, "but then go a month" without.

She guessed that on average she probably hooks up 10 or 12 times a year, something that can mean "lots of vodka, feeling the connection," but not always sex.

"It's all about fun," Ms. Lavinthal added of her approach to dating. "It's not the death of romance. It's like relationship light. No one's going to say no to making out with a cute guy on a Saturday night."

But while the language of the hook-up culture sounds debauched ("Drink Till He's Cute" is one chapter heading), most of the women who will plunk down $14.95 for the book are children of the 80's. These girls grew up just wanting to have fun but knew not to have too much.

"We've had so much sex ed," Ms. Lavinthal said. "With strangers, we are really cautious of the disease thing."

And merely willing that age-old standards no longer apply does not make it so. "Girls are becoming more like guys, but there is still a double standard," Ms. Homlish argued. "You are told you can do everything, but you can't. If a girl is dating three guys at the same time, she's looked down upon."

Dig deeper and it turns out that most of the hookup aficionados assembled that night do not see hooking up as a seemly way to approach their 30's.

While most women agreed that serious dating is being delayed at least a bit these days, they also said they don't plan on living a "Sex and the City" life when they are anywhere near as old as the women on that series.

Ms. Whiffen said she has seen many examples of women who insist they are going to keep hooking up with no thought of having a serious boyfriend until they are at least 25. "But the second 'he' comes along," she said knowingly, "it's done."

And while "The Hookup Handbook" explicitly forbids its readers to mistake a hookup for a potential boyfriend, not everyone thought that was realistic. "People who are hooking up are trying to get into a serious relationship," insisted Caitlin Gaffey, 24, a beauty assistant at the magazine Shop Etc. "On the girls' side, that's almost always true."

"You can't just hook up with anyone," added Ms. Gaffey, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "You have to learn a lot about him before you hook up. Guys are not picky. We're the ones who are picky. It's kind of like shopping."

Even Ms. Lavinthal said she is "more of a boyfriend girl than a hookup girl, to be perfectly honest." As she sees it, hooking up is more what you do between boyfriends, and it is often the only option for busy young women trying to juggle career, friends and romance. "It's almost like attention-deficit disorder," she said. "There are just too many things going on."

For Helen Gurley Brown, for 31 years the editor of Cosmopolitan and the author of perhaps the original dating manual, "Sex and the Single Girl," which was published in 1962, the lives and concerns of Ms. Lavinthal and her friends show that not much has changed in 30 years, except perhaps the verbs.

"I think it was sort of established in 1962 that you didn't have to be married to have a good life," she said. "I think these young women are probably a living example of what was said at that time."

Friday, April 01, 2005

The Wisconsin Badger: More Than a Mascot!

Via Hardass, I tracked down a useful article by Hamermesh (Centennial Professor of Economics, University of Texas at Austin and thesis advisor of a to-remain-anonymous colleague/mentor/advisor in my department) that relates to a discussion following this posted letter that I received from a student.

Let me quote an interesting passage:

I've seen male students attempt to bully young professors, especially women, into allowing more points on exams, providing extra exam time, postponing exams and other grade-badgering. This subtle, and often less subtle coecion doesn't belong in a university. Givinig in to such requests often means more work for you and gives the student the idea that he (once in a while she) can play the system. You are the authority, and erring on the side of toughness with such students will save you further troubles.

Minnesota: The Liberal State

April-fucking-fools.