Friday, September 29, 2006

By George I Think They've Got It!

Sometimes I feel lawyers get a bad rap. There are a few bad apples (I've met some mealy red-delicious in my day, believe you me), but generally I don't think lawyers are as bad as everyone makes them out to be. They are generally over-worked and sometimes a bit too argumentative, but other than that, I think lawyers have what it takes to be good people.

So when I read this article, I was somewhat torn. Apparently, young associates, with their crazy tattoos and nonchalant manner, are a threat to the good ol'' boy club of law firms. So much so, that they now hire outside help to train them the social graces that is befitting of the upper classes.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's nice for a law firm to pay for a class that teaches you about wine, but it's the end that frightens me. They're creating associate robots. Apparently, it's not ok to be ignorant about wine, have tattoos, or dress in anything but proper attire. How about having a diversity of ideas and perspectives? Don't get me wrong, some of the attorneys I've met have pretty poor social skills, but forcing them to take a class on etiquette and proper behavior? This whole thing smacks of Pygmalion. As in, you could be the most brilliant legal mind this side of Greenwich Mean Time, but it just won't do if you can't play golf and tell that funny story about when you and your Lacrosse team went up to your parents summer home on the cape. Remember that? Oh, James, bring the car around will you? It's so hard to find good help these days.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I Have a Nip/Tuck Problem

I don't know if it's the fact that I secretly admire Dr. Christian Troy, the fact that I resent myself for secretly admiring Dr. Christian Troy, or just the unpredictable insanity that attracts me, but this is the only show that has ever religiously commandeered my attention once a week.

It had me at "Tell me what you don't like about yourself." No...rather, it had me at the first show of the first season, when Christian bangs the girl who waters the plants (and they basically show it) and they play a Bebel Gilberto song, Sem Contenção, a personal favorite. The Gotan Project also seems to be a regular feature on the show now too, which I enjoy independently, but I think goes great with the show.

I love it for the girls that turn out to be boys, and the girls who are obviously boys who teach us a little something about ourselves, boy or girl (Insert Blur song here).

I love watching Christian be Christian, periodically displaying a conscience. I like watching Sean be a hypocrite. I love how Matt has so many fucking issues (Why is it always the rich kids that are messed up in the head?). And poor, poor Annie, who always seems to get punished for seeming well-adjusted.

Last night they played a song by Nouvelle Vague, another one of my favorites. Maybe it just makes me feel cool that I recognize the music and it thus reaffirms the relevance of my own existence. Hmmmm....what would Brooke Shields say about that?

Or perhaps I should ask myself, "WWXD?"

That's right, "What Would Xenu Do?" as they are now dealing with Scientology. Could it get any battier? I mean better?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Epilogue to My Mugging

So yeah. I was walking home around 11:30pm on Friday. About two blocks from home, a guy who was walking in front of me spun around and pulled a gun on me.

I hesitated, and looked around, but no one else was in sight. Seeing my hesitation, he waved the gun in my face and said "this ain't no game." I gave him my bag, which had my wallet and ipod in it. He took my phone but let me keep my keys (thank god). He ran off and I flagged down a pickup that was coming. The guys inside let me call 911. About 15 seconds later a cop drove around the corner (coincidentally I think). I didn't see where he went, but based on what the guys in the pickup said (as far as I can remember), I think he might have gotten into a waiting car and took off. The police swarmed the area, but no luck.

I was impressed with the police response that night, but the follow up has been pretty poor. I was told to call the robbery department today (Monday). I called at 9:30, but the lady said they hadn't processed any of the reports yet. I called back a few hours later, and she asked me "what information do you want?" I told her that the officer who took my statement said to follow up. She said "well we haven't arrested anyone yet, so we don't have anything new."

Most of my day at work was spent figuring out how to get a new phone, making an appointment at the DMV, etc. I'm still a little frazzled, but mostly just irritated. Irritated that I have to get a new ID, new membership card to my gym, etc. I guess that's petty, I mean at least I didn't get shot.

I think I'm just kind of frustrated with humanity; that people do this, and that you can work hard, pay rent and do everything right but then in a split second, someone can take everything from you.

My girlfriend got held up about 6 months ago in a different part of the city. Those guys were never caught. We both live in pretty nice areas. In my girlfriend's old neighborhood they called a town hall meeting because there were several people who were robbed, and a few burglaries where the people were home. I think SF is getting more dangerous. I think she's safer in Brooklyn. Seriously.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


I just got robbed at gun point in this fair city, so it's probably going to be a while before I post anything else. I'm fine, but la vie quotidienne is going to be more of a hassle for the days to come, so I am guessing I won't be on here for a while. So for those of you who read this (perhaps all 3 of you), I apologize in advance.

Friday, September 22, 2006

A Right Without a Remedy.....

I'm not sure why everyone is reporting that the "compromise" between Bush and the rebel GOP Senators on the interrogation and questioning of detainees is win/win. Seems to me like the Senators completely caved on the Geneva Conventions. Bush wanted to redefine what was prohibited, and from my reading of the compromise, it does just that; it narrowly defines the conduct that would lead to a breach of the Geneva Conventions. I'm not sure where they got these definitions, but it does seem to give the CIA a lot of leeway to go ahead with some of the more controversial techniques.

Not only does it limit the definition of "grave breaches," it also gives the president the exclusive right to promulgate any additional rules regarding the Geneva Conventions that are not grave breaches (i.e., higher standards). So unless Congress changes this law, only the president can extend the offenses punishable as breaches of the Geneva Conventions. Yeah, I'm sure he'll get right on that.

It also states that

"[n]o person may invoke the Geneva Conventions or any protocols thereto in any habeas or civil action or proceeding."

So basically, and correct me if I'm wrong here, the only way the Geneva Conventions can be enforced is if the Attorney General decides to bring criminal charges. Detainees cannot affirmatively use the Geneva Conventions. It does seem that this renders the Geneva Conventions meaningless if the administration du jour decides not to press charges. How does that old adage go? A right without a remedy is no right at all.

It goes on to state that

"[n]o foreign or international sources of law shall supply a basis for a rule of decision in the courts of the United States in interpreting the prohibitions enumerated in subsection 2441(d).

I think this means that courts cannot cite to international or foreign decisions for their rulings. This seems extreme given that foreign and int'l decisions could provide guidance as to how to apply the conventions to specific factual situations (assuming any of this is actually enforced). Why limit ourselves to our own scarce jurisprudence on the subject when other jurisdictions have been interpreting the conventions for years? This self-inflicted myopia is appalling.

I'm going to stop here because my blog has been way too serious of late. Much better analyses than I could ever have done can be found over at national security advisor and balkanization.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

And another thing

Ahmadinejad also stated this

"The Islamic Republic of Iran is a member of the IAEA and is committed to the NPT. All our nuclear activities are transparent, peaceful and under the watchful eyes of IAEA inspectors. Why then are there objections to our legally recognized rights?

which I heard him reiterate on an interview with Anderson Cooper. That Iran is in full compliance with everything and that it is not fair to deprive Iran of nuclear energy. The latest report from the IAEA sates, however,

27. Iran has been providing the Agency with access to nuclear material and facilities, and has provided the required reports. Although Iran has provided the Agency with some information concerning product assays at PFEP, Iran continues to decline Agency access to certain operating records at PFEP.

28. Iran has not addressed the long outstanding verification issues or provided the necessary transparency to remove uncertainties associated with some of its activities. Iran has not suspended its enrichment related activities; nor has Iran acted in accordance with the provisions of the Additional Protocol.

That's NOT the same thing there Mahmoud.

Fire, Brimstone, and the Twelfth Imam

I had a chance to read the transcripts of the speeches that Bush, Chavez, and Ahmadinejad made before the General Assembly of the United Nations. Bush's was fairly predictable, but Chavez and Ahmadinejad had some truly interesting remarks.

Chavez and Ahmadinejad made some fair points. First, they criticized the United States for allowing the continued bombardment of Lebanon. By not agreeing to support an immediate ceasefire, the United States basically paralyzed the ability of the Security Council to do anything. I agree. I think the United States' policy during the destruction of Lebanon was horrific.

Second, they both believe that the composition of the Security Council is out-dated. I think this is a fair criticism. The Security Council is made up of the victorious countries from WWII. The five permanent members no longer reflect the balance of power in the world, and it should be opened up. Its decisions, which are already starting to be see with a sceptical view, will truly begin to lack any sort of legitimacy as the developing world begins to throw its weight around in other weights (trade, regional organizations, etc.)

Chavez and Ahmadinejad made some other more memorable remarks though. Chavez stated

The devil, the devil himself, is right in the house. And the devil came here yesterday. Yesterday the devil came here. Right here." [crosses himself] And it sells of sulfur still today." Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, from this rostrum, the president of the United States, the gentleman to whom I refer as the devil, came here, talking as if he owned the world. Truly. As the owner of the world.

(full transcript). Now I'm no fan of Bush myself, but I think calling any world leader "the devil" is inappropriate diplomatic decorum. Mr. Chavez, I think you made some good points. I have visited Caracas and you have a beautiful country with great music. I also applaud your program of redistributing your nation's oil wealth. I wish Halliburton would follow suit. But calling someone the devil doesn't help any more than referring to countries as taking part in the "axis of evil." They are both examples of meaningless hyperbolic rhetoric.

Ahmadinejad also dropped a gem. He stated
O, Almighty God, all men and women are your creatures and you have ordained their guidance and salvation. Bestow upon humanity that thirsts for justice, the perfect human being promised to all by you, and make us among his followers and among those who strive for his return and his cause

For those of you who are not familiar with Islam (my familiarity is only passing, so correct me if I'm wrong here), this needs a little context. In Shi'a Islam (the kind practiced in Iran), they believe that the descendants of the Prophet Mohamed (PBUH), called imams, were all secretly murdered (by the Sunni, those who refused the legitimacy of the Prophet's cousin as rightful ruler). All except one. Shi'ites believe that the Twelfth Imam, Muhammad al Muntazar, “The Awaited One,” escaped and disappeared, and that he will return on Judgment Day. Similar to the role played by the second coming of Jesus Christ. This is to whom Ahmadinejad is referring to when he says "perfect human being promised to all."

So in essence, it seems that Ahmadinejad is asking for the Apocalypse. Now I'm not sure if this is how Shi'ites normally end their speeches (Bush said "God bless you"), or if he were just wishing in his own way for the world to be made perfect, but coming from a man who says that his country has the right to nuclear materials, all talk of Armageddon should be post-poned for a different debate I think.

All of this "God" and "Devil" and "Twelfth Imam" stuff scares me. And I really don't think it has a place on the floor of the United Nations.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Subtle, Time Magazine, Really F'ing Subtle

My mom gave me a subscription to Time magazine this year. I didn't ask for it, mind you, I think she got it for free and just has it delivered to me. Normally, I find Time to be a bit light on substance, even on rather pedestrian subjects, such as this one.

They have some interesting articles that are short enough for the bathroom, and I like that one page they have with a random assortment of statistics, numbers, and interesting quotes of the week. Sometimes, though, I find their covers a bit much. Like this one.

While I agree that al-Zarqawi was a pretty evil person, we KILLED him. We aren't bowling here. We shot a f'ing missile into a bunker and KILLED him. I think that just putting a cross over his mug perpetuates the simplistic outlook that many of us harbor over the war on terror: "Hey maybe if we just get all the main bad guys, it'll all go away. Here's one, check him off, yee haa!" I also just find it crude and disrespectful, not of Zarqawi himself, but just of life in general. Killing people should be considered a necessarily evil...not something to put on a "to do" list and then cross off.

But this week's takes the cake.

That's right, "What War With Iran Would Look Like." What the hell kind of cover is this? What would a war "look like?!?!" That's an awful casual reference to "hey, how does this war look on me? Do you think it will deter further terrorist acts or does it just make my hips look big?" I can understand how one nutball journalist might think this is a good cover for a magazine. But the entire publication? What are we trying to do here? All subjects should be open for discussion, but plainly asking what war with Iran would "look like" right under a picture of Ahmadinejad is incredibly brazen and, I would posit, irresponsible. The parenthetical ("and how to avoid it") is not sufficient to take the punch out of the hawkish question.

Maybe Time is now run by the boss of the Daily Bugle from Spiderman, you know that guy who makes covers that depict Spiderman in a menacing light just to sell papers? That guy?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A New Sun Is Rising in the Empire of the Rising Sun and the Empire Upon Which the Sun Never Sets (whew!)

Tomorrow the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan will elect a new leader, and at the end of the month Junichiro Koizumi will officially stand down as prime minister. Koizumi has become the face of Japan for as long as I can remember (well since 2001, like I said before, I can never remember to take my ginko biloba). With his crazy hiar and very unjapanese-like disdain for conformity, he has changed japan for the better. His greatest contribution, I think, was his charisma and ability to appeal to the people. By speaking to the electorate directly, Koizumi went over the heads of the insulated Japanese politicians who used to make decisions between themselves, and thusly empowered the democratic system.

Tony Blair is now being criticized by his own party for not stepping down soon enough. Blair has been in office since 1997 (even ginko biloba would not help me remember that).

Regardless of what you think of these men, the faces of two of the most influential countries in the world are soon to change. Not to be a fear monger myself, but with change there is uncertainty, and the change of the leadership of these countries will have profound effects around the world.

Wedding in Sonoma

My girlfriend and I attended a wedding in Sonoma this weekend. It was beautiful weather up there, but I drank too many of the crushed and fermented version of these.

These are Merlot grapes.

Highlight of the wedding/reception. The groom is a bit of a wine/spirit freak. In the early evening, they served several varieties of port chosen specifically to go with the chocolate covered strawberries they also served. Pretty magic.

Monday, September 18, 2006

I still can't figure it out first year....

I can't comment on your page. It's impossible. I loved your experience with freecycle though...

I can't believe the twit who was trying to guilt you into giving him/her the new one! It's FREE for f's sake! The nerve! If they have enough time to guilt other people, maybe they should work on getting a better paying job.

Oh my god...I just channeled my father. I am so sorry.

If freecycle is at all like craigslist, there are nutjobs aplenty! Good for you for trying to give stuff away.

P.S. If you have a spare HD TV, my church needs one :)

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Hypocrisy, exhibit # 1256899912A

How in the world are we to expect Iraqis to trust the "security" that we are aiming to provide, or their own legal system if we sweep up thousands of Iraqi citizens and hold them without charge outside of the legal system that we expect every Iraqi citizen to respect? I understand that there are, and always will be, security threats, but arresting and holding people without charge is not a good way to win the hearts and minds of anyone.

We are sending Iraqis and the world a horrible message. We have (post-hoc) justified this awful war by claiming that we are going to stabilize Iraq and bless it with democratic institutions and the rule of law. Yet, we ignore those same principles in our own actions. We are, in essence, saying that the rule of law and due process is good policy for YOU, but as long as we're in your country, they don't apply to US. Acting above the system of law that we ourselves have put into place is not only incredibly patronizing (and Iraqis, having lived under colonial rule before, are no strangers to despising a two-tiered system), but it also demonstrates that the system's creators do not truly believe in their own creation. This is like the principal of a public school sending his kids to boarding school.

I have no doubt that some of the people swept up in these things might have ties to terrorist organizations. But if they do, the government (as in the supposedly sovereign Iraqi government)should be forced to put forth that evidence. Keeping all of this "confidential" does nothing but render any sense of justice a farce. If you want to win the hearts and minds of the people, put those who can be proven guilty on trial, and show the Iraqi people and the world the evidence against them. Acting just will win the war on terror, not doing our best imitation of the regime we claim to have justifiably replaced.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Dear "first year"...

As I have been banished to the commentary hell that is Blogger Beta, I cannot actually comment on your ethical delimma. But if I could, this is what I would say,

Jeeze, that is not the enviable position to be in.

Part of why I had to kick out "Craig," was because I was worried I might eventually have to give a statement or give testimony against a roommate/friend. Well, that, and he was just an unbearable dickface....

As unsavory as it might be I would do the interview, cooperate, and be as honest as you can (as in honestly honest). Otherwise, worst case scenario you might wind up being charged with obstructing justice or perjury or something down the line, and that would be problematic for when you have to go through the "moral character" background check the state bar does. But you're in D.C. so I'm not sure how that works. But it can't be good, and no "friend" would ask you to take that risk for him/her.

That said, there's no need to state anything that you don't recall, and you shouldn't speculate. Perhaps your friend didn't tell you stuff, or at least no details. Be honest, but you don't need to go out of the way to opine as to what may or may not have happened if you weren't there and she didn't tell you.

That's my two cents (as in not legal advice). Good luck and I hope it works out.

"Bloody Hell" or "The Perils of an Unwritten Constitution"

The United Kingdom's Constitution is not actually a single written document. It is rather a collection of old gentlemens' agreements and written laws that carry no greater authority than do regularly passed statutes; constitutional law can be overturned by a mere act of parliament. This stems from the idea of "parliamentary sovereignty," which if you think about it, is ultimate "people power." If sovereignty comes from the people, as it purports to do in most constitutional democracies, the the will of the people should be able to trump a rather vaguely written instrument conceived of over 200 hundred years ago, right?

In practice, however, the idea that constitutional law can be overturned as easily as any other statute makes me, and I believe I speak on behalf of most other americans here, VERY uncomfortable.

Case in point. On September 12, 2006, a man confessed in open court (the "Old Bailey," to be exact) to having murdered a girl over 15 years ago. He is currently awaiting sentencing.

The man actually admitted to having murdered the girl six years ago, but charges could not be brought against him because he had already been tried and acquitted for the girl's murder in 1991. Similar to the prohibition in our Fifth Amendment, the UK prohibited "Double Jeopardy." Generally one cannot be charged and acquitted more than once.

Until now. Based on this one case, and because of the extremely determined family of the dead girl (understandably), British Parliament decided to toss the Double Jeopardy rule, originally enshrined in English law in 1187 (that's not a typo folks) out of the window in its "Criminal Justice Act of 2003." Well, to be fair, it only applies to about 30 odd crimes and just makes the exceptions to the rule a whole lot bigger. For instance, there needs to be "new" and "compelling" evidence. "New" does not, as it does here in our habeas statute, refer to evidence that could have been previously discovered. "New" means just that. Anything "new." So if a cop thinks of something "compelling" 10 or 15 years later, I guess the previously acquitted suspect is pretty well fucked.

To paraphrase our administration, this seems like an activist parliament. Throwing out an 800 year-old rule on criminal procedure based on one case? This seems like "result-oriented" thinking to me. In the long run, this might not make much of a difference. After all, there are a myriad of exceptions to the rule here, most of which escape me right now because I don't practice criminal law and I have forgotten to take my ginkgo biloba. I guess it's the principle of the thing. What if Congress could just get rid of one of the amendments? Does that frighten anyone else?

Monday, September 11, 2006

I almost forgot

Here is my date and I on our way to my high school reunion. Nothing like that wind-blown look for your coat of wool. I mean hair...wind-blown look for your hair.

That wasn't so bad....

In fact, my high school reunion was rather fun. I don't think I want to stay in touch with any more of the people than I already do, but it was nice to have everyone in the same place at the same time. There was only a few inappropriate ass grabs, but I think it was from a girl who thought I was gay anyway.

This is a picture of a dear chillin in my mom's front yard. Did I mention that my home town is a bit..uh, in BFE?

This was a happy accident. A friend couldn't figure out how my camera worked. This is actually me and my friends from high school. A guy who was one of my better friends in high school showed up who I hadn't seen since graduation. He was Mormon, but had no problem mixing drinks for the rest of us at our parties. Good guy to have around. He's doing well, but it was good to hear that he had fallen off the wagon for a while...after the mission...and going to BYU. I'm the one rockin' the H&M blazer.

This is a good example of what a bar in this town looks like. Snowboarders and random drunks all in a bar with a vague pan-island theme. White people get bored in the mountains.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Here we go...

I'm off to meet up for my ride to my home town for my reunion. I've been asked to give a toast during dinner. At first I thought I might try to be serious, but I don't want to stand up there like an asshole. I decided to share a few memories, take the piss out of a few of my friends and then sit down.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

10-year highschool reunion

Oh my fricking god. My high school reunion is this weekend. I am so old. There's a part of me that doesn't want to go. Not because of any pent-up or repressed feelings, but my hometown is just a pain in the ass to get to from San Francisco. It's about a 6 and 1/2 hour drive.

BUT, I have a full head of hair, no belly, and a job, so really....I have to go, right? I'm actually looking forward to it. I keep in touch with a few of the guys...and I can't remember the last time we were all in the same room together.