I have a lot of feelings on this subject, but Molly Caro May expresses them so impeccably that it’s probably best if you just read what she has to say.

There is one question that has always nagged at me when I consider the naming issue: If there is total equality in a relationship, shouldn’t the child take the last names of both spouses? May addresses this point perfectly, and settled all of my doubts:

When I told my most public feminist friend about our last name decision, she made a fair point.

“But that seems uneven,” she said, “to just have your name as the last name, and not include Chris’ name as part of that.”

It was uneven, but it had been uneven the other way for millennia (though matriarchal societies did exist once upon a time) and sometimes the pendulum has to swing wildly before it can even out. I would never advocate for all children having their mother’s last names. But imagine if 50% them did. Imagine the social impact on our collective unconscious. It would be a movement requiring no money, no lobbying, no elbow grease. It’s a choice anyone of any background can make—harder for some, I know. And our naming system would actually be diverse. No one gender would occupy it.

People might say these are small peanuts, but language is never small. Language shapes how we view things before we even know we are viewing them. How we name something determines how we value it. If women’s last names are consistently absent from history, never passed down, then where is their—our—value?

St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, near Tallahassee, Florida

A few weeks ago I went hiking here with friends. The summertime heat and humidity made for a challenging day, but it was well worth it. In the fall and spring, St. Marks is a major stop for migratory birds and Monarch butterflies. When we were there, we saw white ibis, Great Blue heron, an osprey, and a few other birds I didn’t recognize. 

Summer at Earthjustice
Earthjustice is a nonprofit organization that exercises the power of the law to preserve the environment. Their slogan is perfectly accurate: Because the earth needs a good lawyer. Earthjustice is structured like a law firm, with managing, senior and associate attorneys, but there are no billable hours requirements or other “Big Law” systems since the organization is not profit-driven. Clients are typically environmental organizations like Sierra Club or the National Wildlife Federation, or sometimes they are individual citizens who have mobilized around an issue. The clients do not pay for legal services, though they may be asked to cover additional expenses such as rates for an expert witness at trial. 
There are ten offices around the country, with the headquarters located in San Francisco. Each office tends to focus on different types of cases based on the issues in that region. For example, the Washington, D.C. office does a lot of work with EPA rulemaking procedures under federal environmental legislation.
I am working at the Tallahassee office this summer. It is the only office in the South, and although most of the cases are in Florida, they sometimes handle cases for other southeastern states as well. The predominant issue in the Sunshine State is, by far, water: there isn’t enough of it, and it is polluted.
My own experience at Earthjustice as a summer law clerk has been fantastic so far. The time is flying by - I can’t believe I’ve already been here for over a month! Tallahassee is a small office, with five attorneys and two support staff. Because the group is so small, when things get busy the attorneys absolutely need the help of the clerks, which means I get exposed to many aspects of the legal practice. 
As summer goes on, I plan to write about some of our cases in detail, but for now here is an idea of some of the projects I’m working on:

Florida Wildlife Federation, Inc. v. Department of Environmental Protection —- On behalf of the Florida Wildlife Federation and the Ichetucknee Alliance, we challenged the minimum flows and levels (MFLs) that were set by the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) and Florida Department of Environmental Protection for the Ichetucknee and Santa Fe Rivers. When a river has such a decreased flow that the ecology of the water body is endangered, SRWMD must develop a Recovery Plan and set MFLs to restore the river to health with sufficient water flow. We brought suit in the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) because the SRWMD adopted MFLs that are so low, they will not restore the river’s flow, and will in fact permit the river levels to decrease even further. This harms the ecology and stability of both rivers.


In re: Commission review of numeric conservation goals (Tampa Electric Company) —- The Florida Public Service Commission is the state agency that regulates public utilities, and under the Florida Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act (FEECA), the PSC must hold hearings to consider available technologies, demand, etc. and set efficiency goals for utility companies for the next five years. This proceeding is going on right now, and our client is the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE). The utilities have proposed that their efficiency goals should be zero — basically, that they shouldn’t have to reduce any energy consumption through efficiency. That is ridiculous under both the intent and rules of FEECA, so our client has intervened to shed light on the best way to set efficiency goals and what those goals should realistically look like.

Summer at Earthjustice

Earthjustice is a nonprofit organization that exercises the power of the law to preserve the environment. Their slogan is perfectly accurate: Because the earth needs a good lawyer. Earthjustice is structured like a law firm, with managing, senior and associate attorneys, but there are no billable hours requirements or other “Big Law” systems since the organization is not profit-driven. Clients are typically environmental organizations like Sierra Club or the National Wildlife Federation, or sometimes they are individual citizens who have mobilized around an issue. The clients do not pay for legal services, though they may be asked to cover additional expenses such as rates for an expert witness at trial. 

There are ten offices around the country, with the headquarters located in San Francisco. Each office tends to focus on different types of cases based on the issues in that region. For example, the Washington, D.C. office does a lot of work with EPA rulemaking procedures under federal environmental legislation.

I am working at the Tallahassee office this summer. It is the only office in the South, and although most of the cases are in Florida, they sometimes handle cases for other southeastern states as well. The predominant issue in the Sunshine State is, by far, water: there isn’t enough of it, and it is polluted.

My own experience at Earthjustice as a summer law clerk has been fantastic so far. The time is flying by - I can’t believe I’ve already been here for over a month! Tallahassee is a small office, with five attorneys and two support staff. Because the group is so small, when things get busy the attorneys absolutely need the help of the clerks, which means I get exposed to many aspects of the legal practice. 

As summer goes on, I plan to write about some of our cases in detail, but for now here is an idea of some of the projects I’m working on:

  • Florida Wildlife Federation, Inc. v. Department of Environmental Protection —- On behalf of the Florida Wildlife Federation and the Ichetucknee Alliance, we challenged the minimum flows and levels (MFLs) that were set by the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) and Florida Department of Environmental Protection for the Ichetucknee and Santa Fe Rivers. When a river has such a decreased flow that the ecology of the water body is endangered, SRWMD must develop a Recovery Plan and set MFLs to restore the river to health with sufficient water flow. We brought suit in the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) because the SRWMD adopted MFLs that are so low, they will not restore the river’s flow, and will in fact permit the river levels to decrease even further. This harms the ecology and stability of both rivers.

  • In re: Commission review of numeric conservation goals (Tampa Electric Company) —- The Florida Public Service Commission is the state agency that regulates public utilities, and under the Florida Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act (FEECA), the PSC must hold hearings to consider available technologies, demand, etc. and set efficiency goals for utility companies for the next five years. This proceeding is going on right now, and our client is the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE). The utilities have proposed that their efficiency goals should be zero — basically, that they shouldn’t have to reduce any energy consumption through efficiency. That is ridiculous under both the intent and rules of FEECA, so our client has intervened to shed light on the best way to set efficiency goals and what those goals should realistically look like.

Recent Read: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
I reread this a few weeks ago. Margaret Atwood is one of my favorite authors and it’s always nice to come back to her work. I especially enjoy this book by her because of the dystopian, futuristic setting. For whatever reason, it is always interesting to consider what our world could become. 
I was reminded of The Handmaid’s Tale today because in news footage of the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision (some employers don’t have to provide birth control to employees as part of health insurance coverage), they showed a protestor with a sign that said, “Read the Handmaid’s Tale!” I love that someone decided to make a sign with this literary reference! On the other hand, the protestor made a good point, and it is alarming to consider the slippery slope of closing off access to birth control. 
If you haven’t read this book, it is a fascinating story with great character development. It reads directly through the viewpoint of the main character, Offred, which can feel limiting because you never know any more than she does. I found the perspective interesting because it made me feel closer to the character and more connected to the story as it played out. 
This is a great introduction to Margaret Atwood, but she has lots of other wonderful books too! I recommend The Blind Assassin and Oryx and Crake.

Recent Read: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

I reread this a few weeks ago. Margaret Atwood is one of my favorite authors and it’s always nice to come back to her work. I especially enjoy this book by her because of the dystopian, futuristic setting. For whatever reason, it is always interesting to consider what our world could become. 

I was reminded of The Handmaid’s Tale today because in news footage of the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision (some employers don’t have to provide birth control to employees as part of health insurance coverage), they showed a protestor with a sign that said, “Read the Handmaid’s Tale!” I love that someone decided to make a sign with this literary reference! On the other hand, the protestor made a good point, and it is alarming to consider the slippery slope of closing off access to birth control. 

If you haven’t read this book, it is a fascinating story with great character development. It reads directly through the viewpoint of the main character, Offred, which can feel limiting because you never know any more than she does. I found the perspective interesting because it made me feel closer to the character and more connected to the story as it played out. 

This is a great introduction to Margaret Atwood, but she has lots of other wonderful books too! I recommend The Blind Assassin and Oryx and Crake.

If you read the poems Akhmatova wrote about that night, you get the impression that they slept together, but, according to Ignatieff, they barely touched. Their communion was primarily intellectual, emotional and spiritual, creating a combination of friendship and love. If friends famously confront the world side by side and lovers live face to face, Berlin and Akhmatova seemed to somehow enact both postures at once. They shared and also augmented each other’s understanding.
David Brooks, Love Story, NYT

Jameis Winston, the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback from Florida State, found himself embroiled in off-field troubles once again Tuesday night when he was given a civil citation for shoplifting crab legs and crawfish from a Tallahassee, Fla., grocery store. 

Am I upset that Jameis Winston stole some crab legs from Publix? Not really. But what worries me is the coddling, enabling world that college athletes live in. Young men like Winston don’t have to take responsibility for their actions, their grades, and so on as long as they perform on the field. They are not encouraged to take their education seriously, and in fact are urged not to waste time in class or studying when they could be practicing (see: An FSU Teacher’s Lament).

Is this all the fault of the athletes themselves? Not necessarily. Young men are thrown into an intense, high-stakes world where fans, boosters, administrators, coaches, fellow students and teammates are expecting them to win each weekend. They are not paid for their time, but are required to maintain a full schedule of exercise and practice. I can’t imagine what that life would be like.

No matter who is at fault, it is clear the system is not working. FSU fans were overjoyed about winning the National Championship this year, but their star quarterback allegedly raped a female student without facing serious police investigation. The problem is not limited to FSU - intense college sports culture is alive and well at universities across the United States. Athletes need to be trained in an environment that emphasizes not only on-the-field performance, but also high moral and academic standards. And when athletes fail to meet those standards, their coaches shouldn’t blindly cover for them in the name of winning.

maxistentialist
Awesome story below. I have always found the concept of banning books incomprehensible. Why, why would anyone do such a thing? The answer, I think, is fear. 
The fact that a few hundred pieces of paper bound together can instill such fear in intolerant people is a reminder of how powerful and wonderful books really are.
via maxistentialist:

Death and Taxes:
Parents in Idaho called the cops last week on junior-high student Brady Kissel when she had the nerve to help distribute a book they’d succeeded in banning from the school curriculum.
The book in question was Sherman Alexie’s young adult novel “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.” Published in 2007, it won the National Book Award and has become popular with young teens, supposedly for its universal themes of fitting in, making sense of race, and sexual discovery.
The sex part (and let’s face it—probably the race part) led parents to lobby Junior Mountain High School to remove it from the syllabus, citing its sexual content (it discusses masturbation) and supposedly anti-Christian content.
Local teens then started a petition to have the book reinstated. They collected 350 signatures, which is an impressive number of kids to rally around a cause like reading.
In response, a local bookstore Rediscovered Books started a crowdfunding campaign to buy a book for each of the 350 kids who signed the petition. It worked—the campaign raised $3,400, enough for a book per kid.
Rediscovered Books worked with a student involved in the petition, Brady Kissel, to distribute the books on World Book Night, an initiative to turn reluctant young readers onto reading with free, super-readable books.
They distributed all but 20 books to kids who came in to claim them, but not before parents called the cops to shut down the operation. Police told local news channel KBOI they had been called by “someone concerned about teenagers picking up a copy of the book without having a parent’s permission.”
Even police seemed to have no idea what they were doing there, and let the book giveaway proceed as planned.
Not only did it go as planned, but when Alexie’s publisher Hachette got word of the incident, they sent Rediscovered an additional 350 copies on the house. So while the book may still be banned in the school curriculum, it’s available free of cost for any kid who wants to stop into Rediscovered and pick one up.

If access to money is more democratic, it becomes harder to ban books.

Awesome story below. I have always found the concept of banning books incomprehensible. Why, why would anyone do such a thing? The answer, I think, is fear. 

The fact that a few hundred pieces of paper bound together can instill such fear in intolerant people is a reminder of how powerful and wonderful books really are.

via maxistentialist:

Death and Taxes:

Parents in Idaho called the cops last week on junior-high student Brady Kissel when she had the nerve to help distribute a book they’d succeeded in banning from the school curriculum.

The book in question was Sherman Alexie’s young adult novel “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.” Published in 2007, it won the National Book Award and has become popular with young teens, supposedly for its universal themes of fitting in, making sense of race, and sexual discovery.

The sex part (and let’s face it—probably the race part) led parents to lobby Junior Mountain High School to remove it from the syllabus, citing its sexual content (it discusses masturbation) and supposedly anti-Christian content.

Local teens then started a petition to have the book reinstated. They collected 350 signatures, which is an impressive number of kids to rally around a cause like reading.

In response, a local bookstore Rediscovered Books started a crowdfunding campaign to buy a book for each of the 350 kids who signed the petition. It worked—the campaign raised $3,400, enough for a book per kid.

Rediscovered Books worked with a student involved in the petition, Brady Kissel, to distribute the books on World Book Night, an initiative to turn reluctant young readers onto reading with free, super-readable books.

They distributed all but 20 books to kids who came in to claim them, but not before parents called the cops to shut down the operation. Police told local news channel KBOI they had been called by “someone concerned about teenagers picking up a copy of the book without having a parent’s permission.”

Even police seemed to have no idea what they were doing there, and let the book giveaway proceed as planned.

Not only did it go as planned, but when Alexie’s publisher Hachette got word of the incident, they sent Rediscovered an additional 350 copies on the house. So while the book may still be banned in the school curriculum, it’s available free of cost for any kid who wants to stop into Rediscovered and pick one up.

If access to money is more democratic, it becomes harder to ban books.

Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor in the Clinton Administration and now a distinguished professor at Berkeley, shared this memory on his Facebook page the other day:

DEPARTMENT OF PERSONAL HISTORY. Yesterday I was reminded by a lawyer friend that when I was at Yale Law School in the early 1970s I took a class in civil and political rights. In that same class were Hillary Rodham, Bill Clinton, and Clarence Thomas. When the professor asked a question, Hillary was the first to raise her hand and almost always had the correct answer. I raised my hand fairly often but got it wrong half the time. Bill missed most classes. Clarence never said a word.

Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor in the Clinton Administration and now a distinguished professor at Berkeley, shared this memory on his Facebook page the other day:

DEPARTMENT OF PERSONAL HISTORY. Yesterday I was reminded by a lawyer friend that when I was at Yale Law School in the early 1970s I took a class in civil and political rights. In that same class were Hillary Rodham, Bill Clinton, and Clarence Thomas. When the professor asked a question, Hillary was the first to raise her hand and almost always had the correct answer. I raised my hand fairly often but got it wrong half the time. Bill missed most classes. Clarence never said a word.