paternity establishment: undue influence, misrepresentation & mis-service

Men suffer from lack of good biological paternity knowledge.  That’s not a matter of biological destiny, men’s personal faults, or men’s free choices.  Legal processes of paternity establishment support false biological paternity beliefs through undue influence, misrepresentation, and mis-service.

In high-income democratic societies, paternity is commonly established in hospitals shortly after a woman gives birth.  If the woman is married, paternity of her newly born child is legally assigned to her husband.  A husband on his own initiative could seek to have a paternity test.  However, the mother might perceive her husband’s request for a paternity test as a grave insult to her.  A husband requesting a paternity test could thus seriously endanger his relationship with his wife, irrespective of the results that such a test would provide and whatever actions a husband would take given certain knowledge of paternity or non-paternity.  Not having paternity testing as a default legal rule supports relational circumstances that unduly influence husbands to remain ignorant of true paternity knowledge.[1]

If a mother is not married, paternity is commonly established through having a man sign an acknowledgement of paternity in the hospital shortly after the mother gives birth.  Paternity testing is not a default procedure in administering acknowledgement of paternity.  An unmarried man’s relationship with a girlfriend is less legally constrained than a husband’s relationship with his wife.  But that does not necessarily imply that a relationship with a wife is less personally important to a man than a relationship with a girlfriend.  Just as for married men, requiring an unmarried man to request personally a paternity test unduly influences him to remain ignorant of true paternity knowledge.

Misrepresentation in the administration of acknowledgements of paternity also contributes to men remaining ignorant about paternity.  Child-support agencies misrepresent acknowledgement of paternity as offering a man the benefits and responsibilities of fatherhood. Signing a legal acknowledgement of paternity isn’t necessary for a man to provide emotional or financial support to a child, or more generally to act as a father to the child.  Signing an acknowledgement of paternity does nearly nothing to improve men’s highly unequal opportunities to gain physical custody and to receive child-support payments.  Legal acknowledgement of paternity, which child support agencies administer and fund, primarily serves the interests of child support agencies seeking to collect money from men.[2]

Misrepresentation in the administration of acknowledgement of paternity goes deeper than misrepresentation of interests. New York State’s Acknowledgement of Paternity form, for example, informs the man and the mother:

If you have any doubts about the child’s paternity, after reading this notice and having received oral notice, do not sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity.

In the U.S. today, about 5% of children falsely identify their biological father.  Highly accurate paternity testing can now be done easily at low cost.  With such paternity testing, a man has no reasonable basis for doubt about whether a child is his biological child.  Without such paternity testing, a man necessarily has a reasonable basis for doubt about whether a child is his biological child.  That’s simply a matter of practical reason and biological and social reality.  Without paternity testing, the Acknowledgment of Paternity form cannot fairly be presented to a man to sign, because no man should sign it.

Mis-service of legal notifications of alleged paternity and resulting default judgments create many false legal attributions of paternity.  Child-support agencies receive claims of paternity from women and serve notice of those claims to men.  A default judgment of paternity, with a child support order not correctable retroactively, is established when the man does not respond to the notice.  About the year 1999, default judgements established 68% of child support orders in California and more than 50% of child support orders in six other states.  Default judgements number in the hundreds of thousands per year.[3]  Service procedures for paternity notices help to explain why a large share of fathers subject to child support orders have paternity established through default judgments:

In California, documents in civil proceedings do not have to be delivered to the person named in the proceeding, referred to as personal service. If a complaint cannot be hand delivered to the person, “substitute” service is allowed, which essentially means that any adult can be served the summons and complaint at the residence or employment of the noncustodial parent. If that fails, service by publication is allowed, which means LCSAs {local child support agencies} can publish the notice of the complaint in the newspaper.  Substitute service and service by publication make it possible that noncustodial parents are not aware of the legal proceeding being brought against them. [4]

County of Los Angeles v. Navarro (2004) provides an example of this procedure and the false paternity establishments that it creates.  Navarro was subject to a default judgement of paternity and child support:

In March 1996, the Bureau of Family Support Operations in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office (the County) filed a complaint to establish the paternity and child support obligations of “Manuel Nava” for two boys born in December 1995 who had been receiving public assistance. The County attempted substitute service of the complaint in May 1996 by leaving a copy at appellant’s address with “Jane Doe,” listed as “sister” and “co-tenant” and serving a copy by first class mail. … Appellant did not answer the complaint and the County took his default in July 1996. The court thereafter entered judgment establishing appellant’s paternity and ordered him to pay $247 in monthly child support. [5]

Navarro denied having ever received the notice.  He never established a relation with the two boys and consistently denied being their father.  A paternity test performed about 2001 established beyond reasonable doubt that Navarro was not in fact the boys’ father.  Los Angeles County nonetheless persisted in attempting to collect from Navarro past due and ongoing child support payments.  In this case, a courageous Court of Appeal declared:

The County, a political embodiment of its citizens and inhabitants, must always act in the public interest and for the general good. It should not enforce child support judgments it knows to be unfounded. And in particular, it should not ask the courts to assist it in doing so. Despite the Legislature’s clear directive that child support agencies not pursue mistaken child support actions, the County persists in asking that we do so. We will not sully our hands by participating in an unjust, and factually unfounded, result. We say no to the County, and we reverse. [6]

The state of California quickly sought to minimize the value of this precedent.[7]  Default judgments serve state interests in generating child-support financial obligations.[8]  Quickly establishing child-support orders, even without good information about the alleged father, is a particularly potent source of financial claims.  That’s because child-support debts cannot be retroactively expunged, even with a finding that paternity was falsely established through default judgement against a man who had no relationship with the child.[9]  Child support agencies declare paternity and order child support payments with little regard for truth and justice under law.[10]

Legal notifications of alleged paternity also misrepresent knowledge.  For example, Michael Turner, who subsequently suffered repeated incarcerations for child-support debt, began his legal ordeal by receiving a paternity notification:

The Child Support Enforcement Division (Division), pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. Section 20-7-9505 et seq., notifies you that:

1. You are the natural father of and have a duty to support and provide for the medical needs of the following child(ren)

B.L.P. [Date Of Birth Omitted]

born to Rebecca L. Price and in the custody of Rebecca L. Price. [11]

Despite its affirmative statement “You are the natural father,” the Child Support Enforcement Division did not know, either through testimony that was subject to rebuttal or through reliable technological means, that Turner was the natural father of B.L.P.  The document implicitly acknowledged that reality through a complex and intimidating description of a procedure for objecting.  Turner did not object.  Thus a misrepresentation of knowledge of biological paternity produced a legal establishment of legal paternity.  That’s the typical effect of paternity notifications to which the alleged father acquiesces.

Men, with good evolutionary and practical reasons, are keenly interested in who their biological children are.  Modern paternity testing technology can easily remove reasonable doubt about paternity and eliminate false legal attributions of paternity.  Paternity establishment practices unjustly keep men ignorant about true biological paternity.

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[1] Being in a hospital with a mother at the time she gives birth is a emotionally potent time for securing a legal affirmation of paternity:

The man’s presence in the hospital to be with “his” baby is called the “magic moment” and the child support bureaucracy openly exploits it as the best opportunity to get a paternity acknowledgment with no questions asked.

Henry (2006) p. 59.

[2] Federal incentives to state child support agencies strength those interests.  Henry (2006) pp. 53-5.  The New York State Division of Child Enforcement trains hospital personnel in administering acknowledgement of paternity.  The Division of Child Enforcement also produces an emotionally manipulative public information brochure on paternity establishment through voluntary acknowledgement of paternity.  The brochure features images of cute babies and a father hugging his young daughter.  The brochure highlights this statement:

Every child has two parents and needs emotional and financial support from both parents — even if they never married or currently live apart.

Most fathers provide emotional and financial support to their children without being compelled to do so under law.  Legal paternity is clearly not necessary for a father to provide emotional and financial support to a child.  Moreover, public policy does not favor two-parent families over single-parent families. Public policy does, however, favor extracting money by force of law, mainly from men, under the guise of “child support.” In California family law, the local child support agency pays hospitals $10 for each acknowledgement of paternity filed with the child support agency.  See California Family Code, Section 7571(c).

[3] In California in March, 2000, 71% of child support obligors with arrears had at least one child support order established by default judgment.  About the year 2000, default judgments accounted for above 50% of child-support orders in seven states, including the states of Washington and Arizona.  Sorensen et al. (2003) Report 5-10; Henry (2006) p. 53; Legler (2003) p. 15.  Oklahoma child support agency records in 2007 suggest that 25% of paternities with child support orders are established through default judgements.  Wade (2008).  In fiscal year 2009, child-support agencies established 1.8 million paternities of children of unmarried mothers.  See U.S. Office of Child Support Enforcement, FY 2009 Annual Report to Congress, Tables 71 and 72.

[4] Sorensen et al. (2003) Report 5-10.

[5] County of Los Angeles v. Navarro, 14 Cal. Rptr. 3d 905 – Cal: Court of Appeal, 2nd Appellate Dist., 8th Div. 2004, at 906.

[6] Id at 907.  The details of the case stated above are from the court’s opinion.

[7] The Los Angeles County child-support agency petitioned the California Supreme Court to depublish the Navarro ruling so that it could not be used as precedent.  See “Court asked to ‘depublish’ child-support ruling,” Washington Times, Aug. 18, 2004.  The California Supreme Court denied that request.  Shortly thereafter the County of Fresno, California, represented by the extraordinarily formidable legal team of Bill Lockyer, {California} Attorney General, Thomas R. Yanger, {California} Assistant Attorney General, Margarita Altamirano and James Ching, Deputy Attorneys General, won a court ruling against Celestino Sanchez, Jr., who was acting as his own lawyer.  The appeals court, which state official probably carefully selected, went out of its way to disparage the Navarro ruling:

In light of this comprehensive statutory scheme for setting aside a judgment of paternity when otherwise established procedural rules would not permit relief, it must be concluded that section 7645, et seq., vitiates County of Los Angeles v. Navarro. The amorphous equitable considerations and general policies relied on in Navarro must give way to the later enacted detailed procedure.

County of Fresno v. Sanchez, 37 Cal. Rptr. 3d 192 – Cal: Court of Appeal, 5th Appellate Dist. 2005, at 195.

[8] A default judgement establishes paternity simply through an unmarried mother’s declaration to a child support agency that some man is the child’s father.  If a mother has slept with multiple men within the biological window of conception plausibly resulting in a birth, a mother may not have a reasonable basis for knowing who the child’s father is.  Child support agencies do not diligently evaluate whether a claimed father is plausibly the biological father.  Thus a man who never met a mother and lives far from her can receive an official notification that he is the father of her child.  See Welch (2004).

[9] County of Los Angeles v. James (2007), 152 Cal.App.4th 253 , 60 Cal.Rptr. 3d 880.  See also Wade (2008).

[10] Henry (2006) forcefully argues for legal reform.  Child-support agencies sponsor much research on child support.  But they don’t sponsor research like id.

[11] Turner v. Rogers, Brief of Respondent, App. 1a-6a. South Carolina Department of Social Services, Child Support Enforcement Division, Notice of Financial Responsibility and Paternity Determination, issued to Michael Turner.


Henry, Ronald K. 2006. “The Innocent Third Party: Victims of Paternity Fraud.” Family Law Quarterly. 40 (1): 51.

Legler, Paul. 2003. “Low-Income Fathers and Child Support: Starting Off on the Right Track,” Final Report Prepared for Annie E. Casey Foundation, Baltimore, Maryland, Jan. 30, 2003, Policy Studies Inc.

Sorensen, Elaine, Heather Koball, Kate Pomper, and Chava Zibman. 2003. “Examining Child Support Arrears in California: The Collectibility Study,” March 2003. Urban Institute, Prepared for the California Dept. of Child Support Services.

Wade, Jarrel. 2008.  “Child support law leaves man a default dad.”  Tulsa World.  Tulsa, OK, published 10/13/2008.

Welch, Matt. 2004.  “Injustice by Default.” Reason.  Feb. 2004.

visiting prisoners reduces recidivism

Setting prisoners free is historically associated with jubilation.  In practice today, many prisoners are released to the street outside the prison at midnight.  A released prisoners has only the clothes and possessions that were on his person at the time of his incarceration.  He typically has lost his job and lost his apartment.  His driver’s license and credit cards have expired.  He may have no money other than a small amount, e.g. $20, given to him at release.  Freedom is a worthy cause for shouts of joy.  But released prisoners often encounter harrowing struggles just for the basic needs of life that they received within prison.

Relationships that prisoners maintain with persons outside prison help prisoners to secure their basic needs outside prison and to re-integrate into free, law-abiding society.  That’s not just common sense.  An high-quality quantitative analysis of 16,420 prisoners released from Minnesota prisons between 2003 and 2007 indicates that prisoners who received visits from outsiders had a lower probability of being re-imprisoned (recidivism):

Any visit reduced the risk of recidivism by 13% for felony reconvictions and 25% for technical violation revocations, which reflects the fact that visitation generally had a greater impact on revocations. The findings further showed that more frequent and recent visits were associated with a decreased risk of recidivism. [*]

Increasing opportunities for visiting prisoners is relatively inexpensive compared to the cost of imprisonment.  Hence increasing communication between prisoners and the outside world is not merely just and merciful, but also cost-effective.

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[*] Duwe and Clark (2011) p. 19.  Randomized experiments with prisoner communication liberalization would help control for unobserved prisoner social characteristics in estimating the marginal effects of visitation.  Duwe (2012) illustrates use of randomized experiments.  More generally, Duwe and Clark (2011) has the typical weaknesses of most current empirical social-science scholarship published in scholarly journals .  It reports results of a statistical model (Cox proportional hazard model), but doesn’t report tests of the statistical validity of that model.  It doesn’t provide the underlying dataset online for replication and validation of the reported results and for further analysis.  It provides only a standard table of descriptive statistics and doesn’t advance broad understanding of the data.  With widely available scholarship no longer constrained to 20-30 pages of paper, social science can become much more scientifically credible and intellectually interesting.


Duwe, Grant, and Valerie Clark. 2011. “Blessed Be the Social Tie That Binds: The Effects of Prison Visitation on Offender Recidivism.” Criminal Justice Policy Review. Published online before print December 6, 2011, doi: 10.1177/0887403411429724

Duwe, Grant.  2012.  “Evaluating the Minnesota Comprehensive Offender Reentry Plan (MCORP): Results from a Randomized Experiment.” Justice Quarterly, 29:3, 347-383

Aziz and Aziza in love with Daphnis and Chloe

The story of Aziz and Aziza from the Arabian Nights outrageously re-arranges the romance of Daphnis and Chloe from an ancient Greek novel.  The lovers Chloe and Daphnis present a pastoral ideal of love in a wholesome, rustic world.  Through the narrative, Daphnis and Chloe’s faithful love for each other repels outside threats, receives an education in natural sexual skills, and is consummated in marriage.  The story of Aziz and Aziza occurs within the well-established social conventions and interests of an urban, cultured civilization.  It splits the love of Chloe and Daphnis into an ethereal literary ideal and animalistic physical desire.  The story of Aziz and Aziza ends in emasculation and death.[1]

Daphnis the goatherd moves to join Chloe the shepherd

Daphnis and Chloe are young neighbors living in a remote agricultural area.  They fall in love suddenly as adolescents working next to each other as a goatherd and shepherd, respectively.  Love happens to them and bewilders them.  They frequently weep.  They consciously understand the fullness of love only through the course of the third-person narrative that ends with a wedding-night consummation.

Aziz and Aziza are young cousins in a large, wealthy city.  From their early childhood their fathers agree that they would marry.  They grow up in the same house and sleep together without consciousness of love.  As soon as they reach adulthood, their parents draw up a wedding contract and prepare a wedding feast for them.  Aziz, the narrator of the story, makes no mention of love between them as they sleep together right up to the date of their wedding.  Love, with much weeping, becomes a theme of Aziz and Aziza’s story only with the aborting of their wedding.

Chloe and Daphnis are far more similar than are Aziz and Aziza.  While Daphnis and Chloe retain distinct sexual identities, neither dominates the other in virtue, knowledge, or authority.  They behave similarly in love with each other.  In that sense their love is sexually symmetric.[2]  The similarity of Aziz and Aziza’s names and their early arranged marriage contrasts with stark dissimilarity in person.  Aziz observes at their story’s beginning that Aziza is “better informed and more knowledgeable” than he.[3]  A high Victorian Orientalist judged more severely: “Azizah, despite her wearisome weeping, is a girl of high intelligence and Aziz is a vicious zany, weak as water and willful as wind.”[4] Other than both frequently weeping, Aziz and Aziza behave much differently in love.

Aziza loves Aziz with love misplaced from literature like A Pastoral Story of Daphnis and Chloe.  As their love develops, Chloe and Daphnis are not satisfied with swearing oaths merely of fidelity to each other.  Chloe implores Daphnis:

Swear to me, by this herd of goats and the she-goat that suckled you, not to abandon Chloe as long as she remains faithful to you.  But if she does wrong to you, and to the Nymphs, avoid her, hate her, and kill her like a wolf.

Daphnis, pleased with Chloe’s request, swears the oath with a reflexive re-interpretation of Chloe’s claim to self-sacrifice:

Standing in the middle of the herd, holding a she-goat with one hand and a he-goat with the other, he swore to love Chloe while she loved him.  And if she ever preferred another man to Daphnis, he swore to kill himself instead of her. [5]

Aziz is struck lovesick for another on the very day of his and Aziza’s wedding.  He neglects to appear while the officials and guests are gathered for the wedding feast.  Aziza, later weeping in hearing from Aziz why he did not arrive for their long-arranged marriage, recites verses:

If someone says: “Love starts with choice,” tell them:
‘That is a lie; it all comes from necessity.”
Necessity is not followed by shame,
A point whose truth is shown by histories. [6]

That literary claim vibrates with uninterpretable irony as Aziza goes on to interpret for Aziz obscure signs from his new beloved.  Aziza, who as a woman in an Islamic society cannot freely leave her home, laments with a figure of a mighty God: “were I able to come and go, it would not take me long to bring you {Aziz and his new beloved} together and shelter the two of you under my wing.”[7] The story of Daphnis and Chloe, created to “cure the sick, comfort the distressed, stir the memory of those who have loved, and educate those who haven’t,” itself contains love stories.  Aziza similarly tells Aziz love stories to console him.[8]  Chloe first feels love for Daphnis when she bathes him.  Aziza expresses selfless love in bathing Aziz:

my cousin {Aziza} got up, heated water for me and bathed me, after which she dressed me in my clothes.  “Go to her,” she said, “and may God fulfill your need and allow you to get what you want from your beloved.” [9]

Misinterpreting Aziza to be mocking him with her selfless prayer for his sexual fulfillment with his new beloved, Aziz kicks Aziza and gives her a bloody head wound.  This flow of blood recalls with maiden-headly symbolism loss of virginity.  A virgin’s flow of blood is a natural fact that checks Daphnis’ sexual initiative with Chloe.[10]  After Aziza has successfully united Aziz with his new beloved, Aziza dies.  She dies faithfully in love with Aziz and seeking his good.  Her love, like that of Daphnis and Chloe, is a literary ideal.

Natural models of sexual love comically point to harmony in the charmed primal world of Chloe and Daphnis and to human degradation in the civilization of Aziz and Aziza.  Seeking to express physically his love for her, Daphnis asks Chloe to lie naked with him and let him do “What the rams do to the ewes and the he-goats to the she-goats.”  Chloe points out that rams and he-goats mount the sheep and she-goats while standing.  Daphnis and Chloe unsuccessfully attempt this sexual position.[11]  In a parody of such pastoral comedy, Aziz is instructed by the woman who kidnapped him and made him her husband: “All I want you to do with me is what the cock does.”  Within the urban setting of the story, Aziz, who is consistently duller than the women in the story, doesn’t understand:

“What is it that the cock does?” I asked.  She clapped her hands and laughed so much that she fell over backwards.  Then she sat up, smiled and said: “Light of my eyes, do you really not know what the cock does?”  “No, by God, I don’t,” I replied.  “His business is eating, drinking and copulating.” she said.  I was embarrassed by this and said: “Is that really so?” “Yes,” she replied, “and I want you to gird yourself, strengthen your resolve and copulate as hard as you can.” [12]

Aziz never needs to learn how to copulate urbanely.  He does it successfully and repeatedly.[13]  Eventually, however, another woman, with the help of her slave girls, pulls off his testicles and slices off his penis because of his infidelity.  For Daphnis and Chloe, animal sexual desire instructs human desire within natural harmony between humans and animals.  In the story of Aziz and Aziza, animal sexual desire is associated with human degradation.  It points to brutalization and emasculation.

The stories of Aziz and Aziza and Daphnis and Chloe are both highly conscious of love’s forms.  Scholars regard the story of Chloe and Daphnis as sophisticated literature of third-century Greek culture.  The story of Aziz and Aziza is associated with folk literature from the Arabic world.  It has a sure pedigree traced no earlier than the early nineteenth century.  Across wide and uncertain spans of space, time, and genre, communication happens.[14]  These two stories are meant for each other.  They belong together.

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[1] The story of Aziz and Aziza fills nights 111-128 of the Macnaghten edition (Calcutta II) of the Arabian Nights.  Richard Burton’s English translation (1885) is available online.  Lyon (2008) is a good, recent English translation from the Arabic.  The Galland Syrian manuscript of the Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights) doesn’t include the story of Aziz and Aziza.  Longus’ Greek novel of Daphnis and Chloe has been titled Daphnis and Chloe.  However, some advanced classics scholars now prefer the title Chloe and Daphnis and suggest that Longus, like George Eliot, was actually the name of a woman author.  Gill (1989) is a good recent English translation and the source for the relevant quotations above.

[2] Chloe is primarily associated with sheep and the Nymphs, while Daphnis is primarily associated with goats and Pan.  Their work and spirits are thus gender-typed.  Daphnis and Chloe do not seek sexually symmetric love as if they were political functionaries striving to make their politics personal.  Nonetheless, relative to other important literature depicting intimate relationships, Chloe and Daphnis’ relationship is distinctively symmetric.  See Konstan (1994).

[3] Night 112, trans. Lyons (2008) p. 489.

[4] Richard Burton‘s footnote 482.  In this footnote, Burton continues:

The phenomenon (not rare in life) is explained by the couplet:—

I love my love with an S—
Because he is stupid and not intellectual.

This fond affection of clever women for fools can be explained only by the law of unlikeness which mostly governs sexual unions in physical matters

The class of men that Burton considered stupid may have been similar to those that fellow Victorian Henry Mayhew regarded as low brutes.

[5] Daphnis and Cloe 2.39, trans. Gill (1989) pp. 317-8.

[6] Night 113, trans. Lyons (2008) pp. 491-2.  The poem’s author, like Longus, seems to be mocking historians.  On Longus’ treatment of Thucydides, see Trzaskoma (2005).

[7] Night 113, trans. Lyons (2008) p. 492.  Cf. Psalms 36:7-8, 57:1-3, Matthew 23:37.

[8] Prologue, trans. Gill (1989) p. 289; Night 114, trans. Lyons (2008) p. 494.  The generation of stories is a key structural element in the Thousand and One Nights. On the generation of story in Daphnis and Chloe, see MacQueen (1990).

[9] Id. p. 495.  As Aziz pines in love, similar intimate imagery prefigures his emasculation:

So I spent the days sitting at home, neither going out nor coming in and neither eating nor drinking.  I put my head in my cousin’s {Aziza’s} lap and she kept consoling me and telling me to be determined, resolute and of good heart.

Night 113, id. p. 493.

[10] Night 114, id. p. 495; Daphnis and Chloe 3.19-20.

[11] Id. 3.14.

[12] Night 123, trans. Lyons (2008) p. 515.

[13] Aziz describes his first experience of sex thus:

She came to me, clasped me to her breast and kissed me.  I kissed her and, when she sucked my lower lip, I kissed her lower lip.  I stretched out my hand to her waist and squeezed it and we both came to the ground at the same time.  She undid her drawers, which slipped down to her anklets.  We started our love play , with embraces, coquetry, soft words, bites, twining of legs, and a circumambulation of the House and its corners.

Aziz summarized the night in a four-line poem that concludes:

I kept my eyelids from their sleep
And joined the girl's earring to her anklet.

Night 118, trans. Lyons (2008) p. 505.

[14] Grunebaum described the Greek romance pattern as “wanderings of a loving couple, persecuted by fate” and perceives this pattern in nine stories from the Arabian Nights.  Grunebaum (1942), pp. 281-2.  He also described as having a common source Plautus’ Miles Gloriosus and the Arabian Nights story of Qamar al-Zaman and the jeweler’s wife (nights 964-978). Grunebaum (1953), pp. 296-7. , Hamori identified a verse Aziza’s recites “ma halla qattu qalba nadhlin waghdi” (“{love} Never alighting in the heart of a base man,” from her first poetic lines, night 113, trans. Lyons (2008) p. 492) with “al cor gentil rempaira sempre amore” (“love always seeks to dwell in the noble heart”). Hamori (1976), p. 80.  The latter Latin text is from the Italian poet Guido Guinizzelli’s poem from the second half of the thirteenth century.  Guinizzelli was an important influence on Dante and appears in Dante’s Comedia.  More generally, Islamic literature influenced Dante’s Comedia.


Gill, Christopher, trans. 1989. Longus.  Daphnis and Chloe.  Pp. 285-348 in Reardon, Bryan P. , ed.  Collected ancient Greek novels. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Grunebaum, Gustave E. von. 1942.  “Greek Form Elements in the Arabian Nights.” Journal of the American Oriental Society. 62 (4): 277-292 DOI: 10.2307/594031

Grunebaum, Gustave E. von. 1953. Medieval Islam: a study in cultural orientation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Hamori, Andras. 1976. “Notes on Two Love Stories from the Thousand and One Nights.”  Studia Islamica. 1976 (43): 65-80.

Konstan, David. 1994. Sexual symmetry: love in the ancient novel and related genres. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

Lyons, Malcolm C. 2008. The Arabian nights: tales of 1001 nights. vols. 1-3. London: Penguin.

MacQueen, Bruce D. 1990. Myth, rhetoric, and fiction: a reading of Longus’s Daphnis and Chloe. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

Trzaskoma, Stephen M. 2005. “A Novelist Writing “History”: Longus’ Thucydides Again.” Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies. 45 (1): 75-90.

COB-75: bureaucratic leisure

Bureaucrats who are able to leave the office in the evening or on a weekend typically have to spend time washing their working sets of blue shirts and brown pants (suits are usually reserved for Power-Point presentation days).  But if a bureaucrat manages to find a few hours of leisure, she is likely to spend it reading a book with “cubicle” in the title. Cubicle Warfare, Pimp my CubicleAnother Day in Cubicle ParadiseQuilts in My Cubicle, and The Cubicle are all worth reading (Escape from Cubicle Nation is inferior literature, suitable only for the ignorant, and not recommended).  Recently Jay Giess’ Death By Cubicle has been named a finalist for the prestigious Putzer Prize.  Giess’ novel is the first book with “cubicle” in the title to become a finalist for a Putzer.

Death By Cubicle is a romantic comedic murder mystery thriller.  At the bureaucratic level, it represents the progress from six sigma bureaucratic business management strategy to seven sigma, and from 360-degree bureaucratic performance reviews to 720-degree (a highly experienced bureaucrat in the book explored 1080-degree reviews, but recommended against them).  The Carnival of Bureaucrats’ literature reviewer declared that she felt profound personal anagnorisis from this passage in Death By Cubicle:

I turned on my computer and let my fingers go through the log-in process.  They had done it enough times that they didn’t need me, but it didn’t work.  I watched them as they went through it a second time.  Everything was just right, but I couldn’t log in.

Automatic somatic performance and disassociation of sensibility profoundly unmask habitus of bureaucrats, our literature reviewer explained.  Our assistant sub-editor said that this passage describes a recurring nightmare he has.  I’ve got nightmares like that, too, said our associate managing editor. The only fate more horrifying than being terminated from your bureaucratic job is being terminated without going through the proper Human Resources Department protocol.  You just can’t log in.  Your access badge stops working.  Nightmare!  Possible psychiatric treatment: stay logged in, and don’t leave the office.  But if you ever leave the office and have some leisure time, you would enjoy reading Jay Geiss’ excellent Death By Cubicle.

In other important bureaucratic news, this month is the 75th anniversary of the Carnival of Bureaucrats.  According to the useful “Anniversary Color List for 1st to 75th Anniversary Party Themes,” the official color for this anniversary is diamond white.  Each employee of the Carnival of Bureaucrats has accordingly received a diamond white service pin.

Bureaucratese is becoming an active scholarly field in the humanities.  Recent research has discovered that the popular phrase “throw the bums out” originated with bureaucrats.  U.S. Railway Post Office Mail Clerks (USPOMC) developed this and other now fashionable language:

The clerks adopted a fascinating shorthand language for their work, including the term “nixie” for an unsortable or misaddressed letter and “bum” for a damaged or empty mail sack. Before leaving the station, one clerk might yell “throw the bums out,” meaning to toss out the empty mailbags.  Another could yell, “Seventy-six in the house,” noting that the mail from Trail #76 was on board. Since there was no time to read an entire mail label, clerks shortened them into nonsense phrases. Thus, the announcement of mail from the “New York and Pittsburgh Train 11, two, from Madison Square Station, New York, New York,” transformed into the cry “From the Madhouse with a two!”

To be on the forefront of linguistic fashion, mimic the modern-day descendants of USPOMC.

Recently we here at the Carnival of Bureaucrats have been studying “37 Ways That Words Can Be Wrong.”  Correctness is important to bureaucrats.  Moreover, a list with 37 items is bureaucratically impressive.  But the intellectual program of Less Wrong has serious weaknesses.  In addition to its apparent low standards, it doesn’t respect established practice.  “We’ve always done it this way” is key to identifying what will be regarded as correct.  Analysis that doesn’t appreciate this fact isn’t empirically credible.

That’s all for this month’s Carnival of Bureaucrats.  Enjoy previous bureaucratic carnivals here.  Nominations of posts to be considered for inclusion in next month’s carnival should be submitted using Form 376: Application for Bureaucratic Recognition.