Someone got to this page searching for "What kind of houses did the southern clonies live in?" I think they meant Colonists. My guess is that this was some kid doing research on the internet for an elementary school report, based on the subject matter and awkward relationship with spelling. And where did he wind up? My post on how certain banjo fingerings sound like masturbation techniques. Looks like someone got more education than they bothered for this evening. Ah, well. The kid's gotta learn about the alternating thumb roll some day...

Since it's an opportunity to mention it, some other odd searches I've run into lately: Someone was looking for "Bob Class Wonderfruit." No idea on that one. One hit for "Molten Boron Feminism." Huh. I get a lot of people looking for Al "Soup Nazi" Yeganeh and his Soup Kitchen franchises, as well as Papaya King. Occasional "Avocadro's Number" searchers, which isn't too surprising.

But the most common search term to hit my page? "Masturbatrix." By far.


What was it you were saying about the internet acting like a superconductor for porn?

Sadly, my site statistics have been absent for months because the friend who hosts Cementhorizon as a hobby got an actual job and has other things to do with his time than to fix my site statistics. Before they disappeared they were one of my favorite things about having a blog.

For instance: I wrote a post on the subject of taking out my cheek piercings, and a friend commented that now instead of remembering me for those she'd have to remember me for the tattoo on my stomach, which is a silhouette of two women drawn in a decidedly vaginal shape. My commenting friend referred to it as a vagina tattoo -- that is, a tattoo of a vagina (not a tattoo on a vagina). That comment was the sole reference to that tattoo in several hundred pages of Snoqualmie entries. There were no pictures. There has never been a picture of that tattoo on my page, and if there were, hey, it would just be a picture of my stomach with a stylized line drawing on it.

And yet, "vagina tattoo" was my top phrase for search-led visits for months. I suspect that the results disappointed an awful lot of people.

Oh, that's what that was! I remember seeing bits of the lines from that tattoo when you wore tummy-revealing shirts, but I never asked about it. Well, there you go. Learn something new every day.

Or, in some cases, learn several dozen knew things in a day. Gordon Bennet, but I'll be glad at 1 PM on Friday when my Civil Procedure exam has ended. You wouldn't be interested in a lengthy soliloquy on Non Mutual Defensive Collateral Estoppel, would you?

The problem with Civil Procedure, for blogging purposes, is that there's no sex to it (figuratively, I mean. Though also literally, and that's another big problem with it). Take almost any torts or contracts case and you can spin an interesting story of how parties came to loggerheads and the law attempts to reach a Solomonic conclusion. Civ. Pro. cases have those stories, sure, but it's like if you're telling an exciting tale, and just as you get to the climax, when the two opponents are about to come to blows, you stop and say "And now let's stop and hear a long, boring story about the various papers that lawyers file, and the grievous error that one party made in the filling of one of those papers."

Yes, I realize that Civil Procedure is very important. I even enjoy a lot of it, being the board game rule monger that I am. But it's essentially impossible to make Civ. Pro. interesting to a general audience, because whereas other cases turn on matters that are fundamentally "real" and understandable to the average person, Civil Procedure cases turn on fine points of somewhat-arbitrary rules that nobody except lawyers are familiar with (or has any reason to be familiar with).

And the thing of it is that the areas where a general audience would know about court rules are exactly the areas that Civil Procedure classes don't cover. Trial? One day consisting mostly of the professor's anecdotes about serving on jury duty. Appeal? We'll have none of that here! Civil Procedure consists of: 1. The form, content, and implications of forms filed before a case goes to trial, 2. the form, content, and implications of forms filed after a trial ends, 3. which courts those forms must be filed in, and 4. which set of arbitrary rules will the court select in deciding how to read these various forms?

On the plus side, I've gained a new appreciation for the utter, utter foolishness of pro se litigation (litigation where a non-lawyer represents themself in court). I almost think there's a blog post in this topic. But not tonight.

Gah, this has turned into quite the ramble. In any case: Yay for your tattoo!

Discussion questions.

1. In paragraph 6, did Zach, a grammatical stick-in-the-mud, use the word "themself"? Explain.

2. Board game rules, as with all other finicky subjects, cover a range of finickiness from rather finicky to obscenely finicky. Has Zach, the board game rules monger, ever heard of Cheapass Games, which tend categorically to lean toward the obscenely finicky end of the spectrum?

3. Is it the Civil part or the Procedure part that makes Civil Procedure so intensely unsexy? Specifically, it is that civil proceedings are inherently boring and nitpicky and therefore a class on them is boring and nitpicky, or that the class is specifically on the procedural elements which are the boring and nitpicky elements of any kind of proceeding?

4. Gordon Bennet? What the hell?

5. Having just Googled Gordon Bennet, I've got something of an idea of the meaning and story behind same. But I'm still curious what prompts you personally to use it.

6. I was going to say that you should have asked about the tattoo if you were curious, but then I remembered that I tend to respond poorly to such inquiries. For one, I get too many of them; it's not an obvious design or an intuitive guess as to what someone would have tattooed on her stomach, so everyone asks. For two, I'm profoundly and automatically embarrassed when asked to explain anything to anyone, so I turn into a stuttering blushing incoherent fool. For three, I'm always somewhat ambivalent about explaining the presence of a vagina on my stomach to questioners, who have a terrible tendency to be either strangers or, for instance, Jacob's mom. I often chicken out and insist that it's only two women. So you'd probably have gotten no useful answer if you had asked. In any case, if you'd like to see the design I'll post a picture. Also, your site is now going to start getting "vagina tattoo" search hits. Aren't you glad?

7. My discussion-question format has really gone to hell here. Drat.

1. It was freaking 5:21 AM! I can't be a grammar pedant after I've been up 20 hours straight on 3 hours sleep! And no, I didn't spend 20 straight hours studying. I'm diligent, but not stupid.

2. I've really meant to, but every time I want to buy one, the store I'm in doesn't carry them, and every time I'm in a store that carries them, I'm not interested. Are they pretty fun?

3. I think it's the procedure part, though it's quite possible, since I haven't studied Criminal Procedure, that the forms filed in Crim. Pro. are sexy and exciting (particularly, I'm guessing, in those prosecutions of BDSM as assault). I would assume, though, that the problem is with procedure.

It was late and I was incoherent last night, so I should clarify that much of my problem isn't with Civil Procedure per se, but with the fact that it is intensely difficult to explain and make interesting to someone who isn't taking the course. I think it's because, whereas Torts is about the Law of Accidents and Damages, and Contracts is about the Law of Bargains and Deals, both subjects that everyone is familiar with and may be curious about; Civil Procedure is about the Law of Rules Governing How Courts Proceed, a subject that's abstracted from the regular person's experience. Everyone enters contracts at some point in their life, when you enter school, when you get a job, when you click those End User License Agreements to install software. Similarly, unless you lead a charmed life, everyone encounters accidents that weren't the fault of the person who sustained the damages of the accident. But you can go your whole life without ever personally encountering or needing to know about venue, jurisdiction (personal and subject matter), choice of laws, judgments non obstante veredicto, collateral estoppel, procedural defenses, res judicata, etc. You have better things to do with your time and mental energy; you hire lawyers to know about that sort of thing for you.

And that's the nub of the problem, I think: Other classes study "Laws that relate to society as a whole." Civil Procedure studies "Laws that relate to lawyers and how they do business."

4. Gordon Bennet, a Scottish immigrant and founder of the New York Herald, revolutionized the American newspaper by making it cheap (the so-called "penny press") and targeting it to a mass audience. He often crossed the line into what would now be considered tabloid territory, and by doing so expanded his audience beyond what any newspaperman had dreamed before. He was a voracious self-promoter and bore an astoundingly high opinion of himself. Nonetheless, his impact on the history of American Newspapers is undeniable. He's one of the most significant figures in early-to-mid Nineteenth Century American history.

5. I thought you, of all people, would be familiar with the expression, being a watcher of Red Dwarf. For reasons that defy explanation, the British have taken to invoking Gordon Bennet as a slang term indicating exasperation or excitement ("Ten more miles to the shop? Gordon Bennet!"). It's functionally equivalent to exclaiming "God!", but without the blasphemy. Normally I don't like cute ways of swearing without really swearing (See, Mormon cursing) but that can be outweighed if it involves a reference to an under-recognized historical figure. I first picked up on it in Red Dwarf, where I believe Holly (Male Holly from the first two series) uses it a time or two. It is, however, not Red Dwarf-exclusive, and comes from regular British usage.

6. See? Like the Teh shirt, only my shirt 1. doesn't involve pulling up my shirt and showing off my tummy, and 2. isn't vaguely obscene. I had to stop myself from buying another shirt with Some Weird Thing on it the other day, even though I really, really wanted it (This one from Cat and Girl).

It's weird about tattoos, for me. I have no tattoos. I have no objection to tattoos, and a vaguely generalized desire to get one at some point. But I am utterly bereft of ideas for what, specifically, to get a tattoo of, and getting a tattoo for the sake of having a tattoo seems a tad toolish. I've contemplated video game or book related tattoos, but always stop myself because of the high probability of eventual regret once I lose interest in whatever subject the tattoo was inspired by. And no great designs or messages have seared themselves into my brain and demanded to be similarly seared onto my body (I know tattooing isn't searing/scarring, that those are separate body mod things, but you get the idea). So I remain noncommittal and tattoo-less.

7. But they managed to elicit discussion. And isn't that the true spirit of discussion questions?

1. Fine. Hmph.

2. Yeah, I'm a big fan. They're usually brilliant and ridiculously convoluted; the first time you play them you can expect to spend a half hour reading the rules and then be confused for an additional half hour. Once you've figured out the play and the basic strategy and memorized the general rules, they're great fun.

3. Ah, thank you. I did indeed catch on that your problem is not with studying Civil Procedure but with trying to make it interesting to someone who is not studying Civil Procedure. Or, and this sounds like a good thing for me to be, someone who Is Not Studying Civil Procedure. The capital letters indicate my intention to insist on remaining unengaged in the study of same.

4. Indeed, so I discovered.

5. Aha. I'm a reader of Red Dwarf the books, but have only watched Season Three of Red Dwarf the series (no Gordon Bennet there). Red Dwarf didn't come to mind when I read that, so I was wondering how you'd picked up such a specifically British usage.

6. Exactly like the TEH shirt, yes, except for being stuck to my skin and technically easier, but more socially awkward, to explain.

6b. I have some fantastically long-winded thoughts on the matter of tattoos for tattoos' sake, and inspiration and the lack thereof, but they're so fantastically long-winded that I'm uncertain whether to post them here or just email you. For now, they're sitting around as a gmail draft and twiddling their thumbs. If you have a preference (here, or there), do say.

I wonder if people would actually need to ask about the fish and bicycle shirt? It seems like an awfully well-known turn of phrase. Actually, it might be more a problem of starting debates than of prompting questions. People might tend to assume you were wearing the shirt either to say that you wholeheartedly agree, a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle, or, by showing fish and bicycle united, to say that you disagree, that women and men and fish and bicycles do need each other. The more I think about it the more I'm sure that's a serious social interaction risk.

Personally I've had to slap my hand away from the "buy" button for the Cabinet Sanchez shirt from Spamusement a few times. That one's a guaranteed conversation starter, unfortunately, because it inherently doesn't make sense. But, oh, it's so tempting.

7. Apparently, the true spirit of discussion questions is to blather.

Clarification to #2: I mean the first time you play any given Cheapass Game. You can't play one and expect to skip the period of confusion for all the rest of them thereafter.

Also, there are some Cheapass Games which can be (cheaply!) found on their website and printed out. In fact, I think they're free -- games they've decided not to release, or not to release in quite that form, or some such. At the moment there's one available called Huzzah!, which I played this week and found excellent. Jacob Marley, Esquire, the Christmas special from about two years ago, is also good if it's still available.

3. Duly noted. I do, however, reserve the right to post about interesting stuff tangentially related to or inspired by Civ Pro without warning, and to post long, boring Civ Pro treatises with public warning. This is because 1. the long boring posts help clarify my thoughts, and 2. despite their absence from comment threads, I've gotten compliments on some of my prior long boring Civ Pro treatises from actual, real-life law students at school. Nonetheless, I will be sure to make it clear from the start that these are long and boring and emminently skippable.

5. Huh. I really liked the first couple of series, but was lukewarm on the third, and didn't at all like what followed. On the other hand, I read the books after I'd watched the first two series; I'm not sure how much I'd appreciate the show if I had already absorbed the material in more depth from the books.

6. No intention, of course, to denigrate the permanency or social contact-related annoyance of the tattoo, or to imply that my annoyance was of equal or greater value than yours. I merely wished to point out that I could sympathize based on analagous experience.

6b. E-mail would be fine, I think.

As to the shirt, I don't know; I think the Fish and Bicycle thing is perhaps more obscure in general circles than it is in the educated and feminist thought-oriented circles in which we run.

As for the message, I can derive a fairly non-controversial middle ground. Fish don't NEED bicycles, but some fish are happy to get them. We shouldn't denigrate the fact that a fish would enjoy a bicyce, but nor should we assume that a fish must have one.

In that sense, I suppose it is a criticism of the original phrase, which seems to imply not only "a woman does not inherently need a man to be complete," but also "the very idea of a woman being with a man is as absurd as a fish having a bicycle." Technically, of course, a careful parsing of the language of the phrase doesn't lead to the second meaning, but I would argue that it is conversationally implied.

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This page contains a single entry by Zach published on December 7, 2005 10:10 PM.

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