My dorm has a “Wall of Shame” where students display the rejection letters they get from schools, jobs, and internships. It’s a way of sharing the stresses and sometimes miseries of being a graduating senior with no guarantees about what the next year will bring. Well, I haven’t applied for any jobs or grad schools, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have a spot on the wall. I just wish my parents weren’t so harsh in the postscript.


Dust settles on Kennewick Man

Getting a bit esoteric, my most recent column for The Torch is “Dust Settles on Kennewick Man.” It’s about the 9,000 year-old human remains found in Washington in 1996 that scientists and several American Indian tribes have been fighting for control over. The Department of the Interior ruled in favor of the Indians, but the courts have decided in favor of the scientists.

In writing the article, James Chatters’s book Ancient Encounters proved an invaluable resource. Chatters was the forensic anthroplogist who the remains were brought to for identification. Though written before the controversy was wrapped up, it’s a fascinating read.

The rest of the new issue is available on the weblog.


V-Day greetings from The Slant

Ah, the day before Valentine’s Day, the holiday everybody loves to hate. But you’ll never be alone on V-Day as long as you have a February issue of The Slant. We’ve got your Top 10 Valentine’s Day Gift Suggestions, Valentine’s plans from Around the Loop, and even a few card cut-outs like you had in elementary school. And, of course, from last year there’s my Bastard Confession: Special Valentine’s Day Edition. For a brighter view of things, see my Valentine from The Torch of the same week.


No more of yesterday’s news

Have you ever said to yourself that there just aren’t enough right wing-to-libertarian weblogs out there? Me neither, but The Torch is starting another one anyway and I’m now officially a two blog guy.

A problem at The Torch this past year has been updating our website in a timely manner. To smooth out the production process and get new content up without a full time webmaster we’ve switched to Movable Type weblog format. It’s not quite as stylish as the old page, but it gets the job done. Hopefully we’ll use it to post continuous content as well. Update your bookmarks and see the January issue on the new Vanderbilt Torch Weblog.

My own column is a criticism of the decision in McConnell v. FEC. As Tim Lee has noted on his weblog, this acceptance of McCain-Feingold deserves a lot more outrage than it has received for the law’s overt violations of the First Amendment.


More of yesterday’s news

Back in December I had an op-ed about the D. C. school voucher proposal in The Free Liberal, a new libertarian magazine that’s distributed on several college campuses in the D. C. area. It’s now available on the TFL weblog. (In a presumably unrelated development, the Senate passed the final version of the voucher bill just a few days ago).

Two of my fellow interns were also published in this issue. Court says “Mr. President, economics before politics, please” and California Tommy demands “Decentralize our forests!


Yesterday’s news

It’s a little late in coming, but the December issue of The Torch is now available online. The print edition had one of our most attention grabbing covers; you can see the photo that graced it on the front page of the website (some people say that’s W. Bush in the bottom right corner). My column was a pretty standard take on the CAN-SPAM Act and is dated now — the Act hadn’t been signed at the time of writing.

The January issue will be out in a couple weeks and the website will probably be in a new and improved format by then, too.



Today my first non-pseudonymous article of the semester in The Slant comes out. See “Computer science student invents Friendster spin-off” for the satirical history of Sexter,* the latest social networking website. (My apologies to VCS and Tolman, and to non-Vandy people who miss some of the jokes.)

Also in this issue, Robert Saunders continues the tech/sex theme with “Camera phones revolutionize phone sex,” Ceaf Lewis reports on Howard Dean’s outdated foreign policy, Andrew Banecker covers the unsuccessful Middle West peace talks, and Mrs. Claus answers readers’ questions. See the full issue right here.

* does exist. Not surprisingly, it’s a porn site.


Free Liberal

I have an op-ed supporting the D. C. voucher proposal in the December-January issue of The Free Liberal, a new libertarian magazine available on several college campuses in the D. C. area. In the same issue Court has a piece on the steel tariffs and Tommy has one on decentralizing the forest service. I’ll post links when they’re up on the Web.


Conscription fiction

There was supposed to be a new Slant out today, but due to a server crash that issue has been delayed/canceled. Since my contribution would be overly dated by the time the next issue comes out, I’ve posted it here instead: Libertarians volunteer for draft boards. It pokes a little fun at my own political affiliation, which may not be a good idea right now in light of the response to my last Torch column.

The story is in response to the Guardian article referenced just a few posts ago. Thanks to Josh Keltner for some last minute formatting of the Hemingway pic.


Torch is up

The November issue of The Torch is online. It includes the first letter to the editor from a member of the religious right written in response to one of my columns (Good for gays, good for liberty — the September issue). I’m so happy! I’ve always wanted to elicit a letter like this. It’s not worth going into a detailed reply, but I will note that the author misses the point by continuing to frame the debate in terms of “good” and “evil.” Homosexuality is increasingly seen as a morally neutral preference, which is why the Court could strike down the Texas anti-sodomy law on the grounds that the state could give no justification for its restriction of individual liberty.

My column this issue is my first foray into foreign policy, and in it I tackle my uneasiness with the way so many liberals (including libertarians) so stridently oppose(d) military action in Iraq. I argue that we should view the war as an experiment, perhaps a good one at that, and favor at least seeing it through to its conclusion. I’m open to later deciding that it was a terrible idea. For now, though, I’m withholding judgment.


Hustler comment

Most of my science reading in the past year has been about evolution, particularly evolutionary psychology. So far this interest hasn’t made it into my public writing, but this op-ed from today’s Vanderbilt Hustler intersected well enough with my current reading of Posner’s Sex and Reason for me to put out a test balloon (see the first comment).

I was careful not to word the comment too controversially, but I’m curious if the suggestion of a biological basis for the perceived correlation between male homosexuality and fashion will draw any protest. There’s often a double standard in these kinds of issues, with social contruction explanations getting a free pass. Will this hold true at Vanderbilt? Did I write it too densely for anyone to care?


October Torch online

The October issue of The Torch is now online. Highlights include Trapper Michael’s “Yes Virginia, we still have an athletics department” defending Chancellor Gee’s restructuring of the athletics program and a debate over the PATRIOT Act (pro: Seth Wilson; con: Brent Dooley).

My own column is on the DC voucher legislation. Two publications from Cato worth reading on the subject are David Salisbury’s policy analysis “What Does a Voucher Buy?” and Casey Lartigue, Jr.’s op-ed “Mayor Williams wants school vouchers for D. C.


The Slant vs. Kristen Hinson

If Kristen Hinson ever retires from The Hustler, she will do to The Slant what Bill Clinton did to stand-up comedians when his time in office came to an end. She provides such easy material for satire that sometimes the biggest challenge she presents is resisting the urge to devote an entire issue to her. [Note to non-Vandy readers: The Hustler is our campus newspaper and, despite recent articles about such topics as sodomy and nipple licking, it should not be confused with the Larry Flint magazine of similar name.]

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, take a look at her Hustler editorial from a couple weeks ago, “Sodomy is ‘wrong,’ ‘disgusting’ and ‘perverse.’” This is the only piece of writing I’ve seen at Vanderbilt to get people more riled up than Brett Austin’s infamous “Need-based aid cost us all,” published in the premiere issue of The Torch (I would link to the column, but sadly it has been taken off the Web and dropped into the memory hole). Do a search on the Hustler website for “Kristen Hinson” to see the numerous responses.

Meredith Gray did prevent us from doing an all-sodomy issue, but there’s plenty of Hinson-related content nonetheless. Richie Green disagrees with Hinson, arguing that in fact the GBLT is a damn good sandwich. I actually take Kristen’s side, but do I have any idea what I’m talking about?

Around the Loop asks what other students find wrong, disgusting and perverse, the Top Ten lists upcoming Hustler editorials, and the horoscope, poll, and Other News all make a few references to our favorite Hustler columnist.

Just for fun, here is Hinson’s defense of her anti-sodomy column, and here is her Hustler debut, “Evolution is not a trusted theory by all scientists” (ably satirized by Andy Coz’s unpublished “My shoes turned into a rocketship”).

Please, Kristen, don’t ever retire. It would strain our creativity too much.


First Slant of the year

The first issue of The Slant under new EiC Meredith Gray is online and in print. My contribution is Dining Director Frank Gladu’s welcome letter to incoming freshmen. I have to admit I hate picking on the guy so much (this is my third piece that satirizes him and Vandy Dining). He seems like a really nice guy. But, as the visible head of the dining monopoly that inflicts itself on all freshmen, all Pub-goers, and anyone on campus who just wants a fresh slice of pizza, he’s the guy to be targeted.