Monday, October 30, 2006

Konstantzusammenschaft-whatever that is

I would like to thank the Law School Virgin for pointing me towards this wonderful way to avoid work. I don't know about this result though..

Am I wearing perfectly matched flannel pajamas? I think I gave way too many "yes" answers to questions about kink and questionable behavior to have an avatar with a full matching pajama set. That's probably why I'm sitting on the ground there...thinking to myself "where did it all go? It all used to be so exciting! Now look at me. And my Chai Tea is still too hot to drink! Oh why me? Why me?" Although it does look like I have some scratches on my neck....

Update: After looking more at this picture, I think maybe it was supposed to be "Really Gay , Loves Madonna." Not that there's anything wrong with that. Well, except maybe this.

Friday, October 27, 2006

New Jersey Same-Sex Marriage Case

So New Jersey weighed in on the same sex marriage front the other day with an interesting opinion in Lewis v. Harris. The court held that preventing same sex couples from enjoying the same financial and social benefits that heterosexual couples enjoy ran afoul of the state constitution's equal protection clause.

So what to do? Here the court split. The dissenting judges thought that anything less than full-blown marriage was an equal protection violation. The majority decided to leave it up to the legislature, giving them 180 days to work out a way to give same-sex couples the same privileges as married couples, BUT, they don't have to call it "marriage;" civil union, or I guess "Bert and Ernie Union" would work too, but the privileges enjoyed have to be the same. So a sort of "separate but equal."

I guess this is a compromise of sorts, but this really seems like a silly distinction without a difference. Is it really just the word "marriage" that social conservatives are so upset about? Or do they feel that same-sex couples are so abhorrent that they should not be given the same benefits as married persons? Is there really a constituency out there that is willing to let same-sex couples marrry...strike that....union-ize?, as long as they don't call it "marriage?"

Media reaction has predicted a backlash, similar to the one that my fair city created a few years ago, saying that once again this will galvanize the social conservatives. I'm not so sure. I think the court has diffused the argument that they are being activist by leaving the remedy up the legislature. I think some of the fear is gone as well. Critics now see that people in Massachusetts and elsewhere are still living in peace and procreating, which has taken the steam out of the argument that gay marriage will somehow destroy civil society.

Plus, I think everyone realizes this time around that there are more important conversations to be had.

From CBC News

Effed up quote o' the day

"With the psychotic, middle-aged Madonna out there on the loose buying up all the stolen Negro babies in Africa, I felt it my social and humanitarian duty to take in any young, beautiful and sexy orphaned Jew teens running wild in Beverly Hills. Cory's a great kid, and I'm proud to be her daddy." -Vincent Gallo, referring to Cory Kennedy. (NYP)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Lil' Victory o' the Day

I'm in the middle of a solo intra-office document review, meaning that I am currently going through several thousands of documents by myself looking for "relevant" stuff, which is way too broad of a category. I actually have to read at least part of each document. My eyes start to glaze over at times, I start thinking about lunch, and forget what I'm looking for. I should look up "malpractice" one of these days.

So you'll permit me my girlish squeal of joy that today Gawker posted my nomination for their "Worst Magazine Covers Ever" list, and why I thought it was worthy. It's the March 12, 2006, Time cover about half way down entitled "How We Shop Now." You might remember this magazine cover from my earlier completely unrelated post.

A découvrir

Camille, who was featured on Nouvelle Vague's first album. Strange yet intriguing amalgam of African rhythms, Bobby McFerrin-esque body noises, and Björk-like vocals. Enjoy!

Siempre Nadie

Can you believe this is still going on?
After 35 rounds of voting, neither Venezuela nor Guatemala have attained the 2/3 vote necessary for the temporary seat on the Security Council. Venezuela has put forth a "compromise" candidate. Can anyone guess who that would be? That's right!

Mini Me. Bolivia.

Now again, I'm all for dialogue and having developing countries on the Security Council (should be a permanent seat), but come on now Hugo. This is not a "compromise."

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Tipping Point?

Or maybe the breaking point, or melting point, or perhaps critical mass of bull shit. Granted, we all have the attention span of a ferret that has just imbibed a double-espresso (thanks for nothing Nickelodeon), but there has got to a point where we say "basta."

"It's never been stay the course?" Are you kidding me? While the American public is too distracted to notice some of the more subtle shifts of policy (e.g., why we're in Iraq), we all have heard this one thanks to the ubiquitous talking point. You're just fibbing now George. Can we please just sit down and be honest about this now? Please?

Thank you to my friend (who knows who he is) for sending me this link. Incredible.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Northern California: Part Two

In the interest of a limited attention-span Friday, I thought I would just post some pictures. I have found local area or special interest photos to be an interesting aspect of this blogging thing. So for those of you in CA, these probably won't be very interesting, but maybe someone out there might like 'em. (Direct link to flickr photos).

Lost Coast. Beautiful, if not somewhat difficult to get to.

Monterey Bay Aquarium. That's the GF in the jelly fish display:

Monterey Monarchs:

Point Reyes:

Mount Tamalpais. I thought this would be a pretty picture, but it kind of looks like my Windows wallpaper.


San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers

Big Sur:

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Broken Social Scene

So I guess their follow-up album has been out for a while now (good god, could it already have been a year since I saw them live?). They are the classic indie band, with about 20 people on stage during some sets. They are very intense live, so I highly recommend seeing them if they come through your town. I had just never seen any of their music videos before (thanks YouTube), so I've been reminiscing. I mean working. I've been working.

P.S. Has anyone else noticed that there has been a lot of good music coming from Canada in the last few years?

Out of the Line-Up

I don't love baseball. My grandmother used to take me to Dodger games when I was a kid, but since little league, I just can't be bothered.

I was sad when Oakland got stomped on by Detroit, but I probably watched 1/3 of one game. I'll probably watch a game or two of the World Series, but I'm not planning my week around it or anything. For me, baseball is not a national past-time. It's something to watch when I'm hung over and there's no football on.

My roommate though, who spent a significant amount of time in Boston, loves baseball and the Red Sox. She's not a crazy fanatic or anything, but gets excited during games and knows all the players and who's leading the AL East at any given moment. But I still don't think that she'd spring for this:

Eternal Image Speeds Production of Major League Baseball(R) Urns Based on Enthusiastic Public Response

First Urns to Be Available by Opening Day 2007

October 10, 2006 -- Eternal Image, Inc. (PINKSHEETS: ETIM), a public company engaged in the design, manufacturing and marketing of customized designer caskets and urns, today announced that it has moved up the production of the first-ever licensed Major League Baseball® funeral urns due to enthusiastic public response.

Here's a computer generated image of what they think it will look like:

"So are you a Yankees fan?"

"Me? No, but uncle Henry was."

"Then why do you have a Yankees...uh...thing up there on the mantle?"

"Well, that's how uncle Henry wanted it."

"Oh...he wanted it on your mantle?"


"Why didn't he want it on his mantle?"

Do you see how these things will lead to awkward "who's on first" or "who's six feet under?" kind of conversations?

Oh, and Uncle Henry? If you are reading this please know that if you put yourself in one of these, you're not going on the mantle ok? It's tacky. You'll be put with the sports stuff in the garage.

But don't think Americans are the only ones with strange ideas of post-mortem containers. Check out what they do in Ghana.

Yes, that's a beer coffin.

I understand that a little more though because its individualizing it. I mean the guy liked beer and drank beer, and maybe worked in a brewery. There's another one that's shaped like a big cigarette because the guy liked smoking and owned a cigarette business. That's individual. It's not like Uncle Henry was on the Yankees, you know? Although it will be the officially licenced MLB Urn. Dear Lord, do we really have nothing better to do with our trademark attorneys?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Northern California

Originally uploaded by cerf.sauvage.

Is a wonderful place. My GF and I took this on our last trip together down to Big Sur. Doesn't this look like an advert?

Live in Northern California, but move before it...uh..makes you drunk on wine and chubby on cheese. Mmmm. Cheese.

Here's just the coast line by itself, minus the ad for Napa Valley :)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Two Steps Back

After being reminded of the song "Opposites Attract" by some commentary on this post, I thought that "Two Steps Back" pretty much summed up how I felt when I saw this this headline:

Bush Signs Terror Interrogation Law

As I previously mentioned, this is some pretty scary litigation. It is just amazing to me that in the year 2006, we think that holding people without charge, putting people to death based on hearsay evidence and coerced testimony, and denying them habeas corpus is, as Bush put it "a way to deliver justice to the terrorists we have captured." There is nothing just about it. We are compromising the very principles that separate us from terrorism: the rule of law, respect for human rights and dignity, and the search for truth through due process. Why are we turning back the clock to the time of the inquisition?

Here's what the president had to say:

"It is a rare occasion when a president can sign a bill that he knows will save American lives," Bush said. "I have that privilege this morning."
I can understand how it provides post-hoc retribution, but how is this going to save lives? Indefinite detention might keep these specific guys out of the picture, but the hate it generates in the Muslim world and elsewhere will create more terrorism, not less. Torture, abbreviated justice, and death sentences will not provide a deterrent to Islamic fundamentalists who are willing to blow themselves up for their cause anyway in order to become a martyr. By giving these guys disproportionate justice via special kangaroo courts, we only play into the rhetoric of Al-Qaeda and other groups who claim that the United States is at war with Muslims.

There is also an interesting debate going on as to whether Congress has the authority to suspend habeas. (Post at Balkanization). To wit: Does the Suspension Clause present a non-justiciable political question? and if so, doesn't that render an explicit prohibition in the Constitution completely meaningless?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Que Lastima!

After 7 rounds of voting, the world can still not agree on who should have the "Latin American" elected seat on the U.N. Security Council being vacated by Argentina: Guatemala or Venezuela. I think that the U.S. has done Guatemala a disfavor by lobbying on their behalf, and it just plays into Chavez's North-South rhetoric. No one dislikes Guatemala, but by supporting the central-American country, the US has allowed Chavez to turn this into a proxy contest between the US and Venezuela.

I think it is high time that developing countries have a permanent place on the Security Council, not just an elected spot. However, I think it's pompous on Chavez's part to proclaim that he should be the porte-parole for all of the economically disadvantaged countries just because he's apologetically anti-American. While I'm sure that sounds refreshing to a lot of people on this earth, it should not in and of itself suffice.
Apparently China supports Venezuela because Guatemala has stronger diplomatic ties with Taiwan (yeah, real mature China). Russia is also supporting Venezuela because of "high-level" contracts Venezuela has with them to buy weapons (See petro dollars). Arab countries support Venezuela because of Chavez's anti-U.S. stance, and Mercosur wants to keep Venezuela in the fold even though its support of Bolivia's nationalization of its oil and gas assets is in direct opposition of the free-market principles Mercosur is founded on.
A compromise candidate might be necessary if this continues.

Tout cela dit, je suis très content que personne n'ait mis en question la candidature de la Belgique, un pays qui me sera toujours très chere. Le plat-pays qui a connu la perspective de Magritte mérite bien une place sur le Conseil de sécurité.
UPDATE 10.17.06: After 14 Rounds, Guatemala 108, Venezuela 76. Rumors of a new compromise candidate are getting louder.
UPDATE 10.18.06, 16.21 PT: After 22 Rounds, we're still in deadlock.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The House Always Wins. So Does the Senate.

President Bush today signed into law the SAFE Port Act which aims to strengthen our...well...ports. It provides funding and programs for improved cargo container inspection. Attached to this bill at the last minute, however, is a federal ban on banking institutions knowingly transferring funds to businesses or individuals that may conduct gambling operations in states and areas where gambling is prohibited.

This online gambling ban was previously a bill unto itself (known as the Unlawful Internet Gambling and Prohibition Act) but it had received such significant opposition in the Senate that it had been practically dead since July. In response, Bill Frist was able to have it tacked on to the SAFE Port Act: a bill that no one in their right mind would want to come out and openly oppose so close to the elections ("so senator, you oppose container security?").
If you look at the bill, the on-line gaming provisions are at the very end and have absolutely nothing to do with what preceeds it.

While this bill doesn't out-and-out prohibit on-line gambling, it does the next best thing via financial attrition; it makes it impossible to settle bets on-line via any banking system. Eventually a system is to be set up to block such transfers.

I don't like gambling. I've never been particularly lucky, and I enjoy the security of knowing that I will in fact receive something in return when I put money down on a table (aka "a purchase").

I have friends, however, who love it. They love the thrill, and an ex-flatmate of mine has actually started supplementing his income via on-line gambling. He has a gambling "problem" in the sense that he's so good at it, it's actually profitable.

I think this bill smacks of hypocrisy and Republican paternalism fueled by sense of moral superiority. First, people who are prone to abuse gambling are going to do it whether or not there is on-line gambling. There's still horse racing (provided by the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978), Indian gaming, lotteries (a state monopoly no less), and casinos, not to mention the dodgy illegal venues that I'm sure everyone has heard of.

Second, on-line gambling was making gambling cheaper through competition and low-overhead. Exchanges have lowered the costs betting by cutting out bookmakers, and payouts have risen accordingly. This made gambling less dangerous, not more.

Third, by eliminating credit cards you are eliminating a safe-guard that can establish age and betting limits. This can drive people to some of the more riskier options.

I think Internet gambling has risks. Verifying age is difficult, and since you have no idea who you're playing against, you could be more vulnerable to swindlers. But prohibition is not the answer and this would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater (should we outlaw on-line sales because of potential abuse?), not to mention that it never works (see 18th Amendment). Regulate it, but don't prohibit it.

This bill is not about protecting gambling addicts. It's about protecting brick and mortar gambling houses and the states own monopolies while galvanizing the Christian right with the Republicans under a veil of outlawing sin. This game is gettin' old. I fold.

See article.
UPDATE 10.16.06
I spoke with my friend who plays on-line Texas hold-em as a lucrative hobby and he said that he thinks he'll still be able to go through Europe, so all is not lost.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

I might be giving away too much here,

stiff arm
Originally uploaded by cerf.sauvage.
but I just love this photo.

Go Bears!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

"The Emperor's Children" by Claire Messud-a Recommendation

In late August, The Economist gave this novel a glittering page-long review. While I am hesitant to read anything that deals with September 11 (non-fiction seems too real and too spun these days, and any fiction seems disrespectful), I was intrigued. So much so, I pre-ordered it off of Amazon, a new event for me.

This is one of the better modern novels I have read in a long time. It follows a a group of friends from college (Brown) who are now in their thirties for about seven months, March through November of 2001 (thus lopsidedly straddling September 11). The characters' relationships with one another wax and wane as significant others enter the picture, and as jobs become frustrating or non-existent. Each character is prone to intricate self-reflection.

This book paints a picture of post-modern American life that (to me) hasn't been captured before (even absent the appearance of September 11) . Marina is the daughter of a prominent liberal pundit and commentator. Her friend Danielle has the most prominent and stable job, but is way over-skilled for the position she holds. Marina, born silver-spoon in mouth and blessed with good looks, struggles with completing a book deal that everyone really assumes she got because of who her father is. Though Marina's father, Murray, became well-known as a liberal journalist in the 1960s, he is still in demand as a lecturer and commentator. Through the book, however, it emerges that the man has had very few new ideas since his heyday and that he has just been republishing and recycling the same thoughts over and over.

I think the interesting thing is that each character seems to acknowledge in some way that he/she is (to borrow from Catcher in the Rye) a phony. Murray eventually asks himself if he is actually the genius that everyone thinks (or pretends to think) he is. Danielle knows that her job is not as interesting as she makes it out to be, but feels comfortable in the fact that while Marina is the rich and pretty one, she is the smart one with the stable job.

Messud does a wonderful job of capturing the malaise of the young, educated, and unfulfilled. She aptly portrays familiar human sentiments of the now; how everyone thinks that the undeserving often succeed but that they themselves are always entitled to have more: how often we become willing subsribers to systems (capitalism, class, mores) that we once abhored: or how habituated we have become to being forced to participate in systems or play roles unwillingly, just to get by.

The events of September 11 provide a shock to the characters, but each in a different way. Interestingly, it mostly prompts more navel-gazing in the characters, rather than any sort of external aggression.

I really haven't given too much away here. My only "critique" if you could call it that, is that the dialogue is too refined. No one really "talks like that." Even the over-educated. That said, I don't think Messud could have developed this story or painted the images she did any other way. Her prose and character development is amazing.

NY TIMES REVIEW (much better than mine)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Eat My Shorts, Kim Jong-Il

I was listening to NPR yesterday morning while they were reporting on the international community's reaction to the underground nuclear test that North Korea conducted. They had some brief audio of UN ambassador John Bolton's statement and his answers to a few questions posed by the media. I wasn't sure because I was wandering around my apartment, but I could have sworn that when he was asked if the US had actually provoked North Korea's nuclear ambitions by including them in the "axis of evil," he responded by saying "get a life." Surely I must have misheard.

I was looking at the news today, and lo and behold, there it was in the Guardian (full article):

Mr Bolton dismissed the notion that Pyongyang was driven to carry out a nuclear test by being labelled as part of the "axis of evil", saying those who believed this should "get a life".

Now I'm not saying that North Korea became a rogue state because Bush cavalierly included him in his now infamous "axis of evil" speech, but surely our F*CKING AMBASSADOR TO THE UN could come up with a more diplomatic, if not more relevant, response to this question than an out-of-date colloquial expression. If this is how he addresses the public, lord only knows how he speaks privately.

Bolton receiving Senate confirmation? As if! Well, maybe he'll get it. Not!

Monday, October 09, 2006


Originally uploaded by cerf.sauvage.
We also got a chance to go see the MOMA in its new (to us anyhow) location. It's exquisite. The collection really is amazing.

I don't know why, but I have this thing for Jasper Johns. I don't really love Pop Art generally, though I do like it and respect its ironic critique of consumer society. I heard this story of an interview he gave once, that went something like this (paraphrasing from memory):

"But why do you use the stencils (Johns frequently used stenciled numbers in his work)? Is it because you like them or is it just because the stencils come that way?

"That's what I like about them...that they come that way."

I thought that was just a delicious answer.

But in any event, it was moving to see some of his (and others') more famous work up close, such as this well-known piece "Flag."

I don't know the girl in front of it. She was just there and I thought it gave some sense of scale. I highly recommend going if you are in town. On Friday nights it's free from 4-8.

Going Back to Brooklyn...

I went and visited the GF in the NYC for a nice long weekend. She lives in a cute apartment in a nice part of Brooklyn. Two blocks one way, and it's quaint little patisseries and boutiques, the other way is gun shots and crack deals. One learns quickly which subway stop to frequent.

We had a bit of a melt down one night (I'll probably have to do a whole separate post on it to really talk about it), but other than that it was great to see her and I realized that I truly miss and love her. These are not words I throw around.

I think I might need a change of scenery anyway. I've been in the bay area for a long time now. Why am I not already in New York, you ask? Here's is a short list.

1. She didn't decide which grad school to attend until about a month before classes started, so I wasn't sure she was even going to New York (LA was also a possibility).

2. I am a new attorney, getting my feet wet. I'm not particularly good at what I do, and finding a job in a city where I don't know anyone (in the legal field at least) is frightening. The idea of taking another bar exam (which I might or might not have to do, granted) also makes me physically ill (it gives me the taste of coffee on the back of my throat).

3. Word on the street is that attorneys work crazy hours in New York. I might see more of her and the city if I just visited every six weeks or so.

4. Moving for somebody makes me nervous. While I am cognizant of it, I'm afraid if things went south for me (or us) I would (un)consciously resent her for making me move out there.

I'm starting to think that I really want to go though...or at least give it an honest shot.

My favorite New York story of the trip. I called a car service to take me to LaGuardia. This kid in baggy pants and a Yankees cap pulled up blasting music that I could only imagine was "Chingy" or something like that (I'm lame and out of touch, give me a fuckin' break here). I wasn't sure if this was the right car or not (little if any labels or markings on the van), but then he said " You goin' to the airport or what (question mark intentionally omitted)." Ah yes, this must be my ride.

He started yelling racial slurs at the guy in the car in front of us, who must have cut him off before he picked me up or something (I think my driver was latino, but I couldn't be sure). He turned up some hip hop track on the radio and asked me "you understand this? You feel this?" I said that I did, but I think he could tell I was lying.

He asked me how long my flight was. I said about five hours. "Fuck, I couldn't fly no five hours without smoking a blunt first.....hey, you wanna smoke? I already got it all rolled up." I declined telling him that I really did need to find my plane and that hanging out in the Cinnabon for 4 hours would not get me back to SF any quicker.

"Do you mind if I smoke?"

"Not at all"

We then got into a conversation about our respective "bitches." It was actually kind of...nice.... I told him how my GF gets jealous of other girls in my life, and that the irony was that while my past is flecked with infidelities, I haven't even thought about cheating on the current GF and wouldn't.

"Yo, I feel you. My girl is the same way. I told her, 'you know I used to be a playa, but I ain't foolin' around wit any other girls.' But now that I told her and came clean, bitch is crazy right? She's all up in my shit now and don't trust me."

He dropped me in the alternative drop off so that we could avoid the cops prowling the curb side. He gave me his card and said that if I ever "need to talk" to give him a ring.

As I staggered through security, somewhat confused, but at ease, I realized that I had a nice second-hand high.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

For the Geek in You that Just Can't Wait

Supreme Court Transcripts are now available on the same day as oral argument. No more checking back weeks later to hear how Scalia and Ginsburg had an ideological argument with each another by asking rhetorical and hyperbolic questions of poor unsuspecting counsel.

The Supremes have already granted cert in a few interesting cases. Having the two newbies (Roberts/Alito) on this Court with two cases regarding the partial birth abortion ban on the docket makes me fidget.

Meanwhile, Back in the Former Yugoslavia...


On October 3, with a 55% voter turn-out, Bosnia and Herzegovina elected their three presidents (Bosnian, Croat, Serb) with no scandals, and with International Observers declaring that it was free and fair. Congratulations to Haris Silajdzic, Nebojsa Radmanovic, and Zeljko Komsic.

None of the new presidents are from the nationalist parties that have historically won these elections. In fact, many Muslims voted for Zeljko Komsic, a more centrist Croat. Croat nationalists acknowledge that Komsic was elected legally, but they contest his legitimacy as leader.

While Radmanovic's party does seem to support secession of the Republika Srpska, there seems to be hope that the three presidents will be able to get along and help move Bosnia and Herzegovina forward. As one voter put it, "It is the first time that we have three presidents with class."

See full article from Le Monde.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Great Song, Great Film

I mentioned Nouvelle Vague before, and then I found this great little video of one of their songs. I don't know if the band did this themselves, mais ça tombe bien. The group's new album "Band à Part" shares the name of a Jean-Luc Godard film from the 60s (In English, known as "The Outsiders"). This is actually a scene from that film. Uncanny, non? As if they were made for each other.

Whatever happened to morals and values, INDEED!

This is complete plagiarism, but I just couldn't help but love this bit of, um, "news."

From US Weekly Today:

Nick Cheated on Paris with Pieces of Ashlee Simpson

Now we know why they don’t call them Backstreet Men. When Backstreet Boy Nick Carter learned that Paris Hilton was cheating on him with Sophia Bush's fiancé, Chad Michael Murray, he took the mature approach. According to PageSix, he waited until his then-girlfriend jetted off to Australia and then hooked up with Ashlee Simpson. "I'd fallen head over heels with this chick. Then, all of a sudden, three months go by and I got people telling me, 'Nick, you know what Paris is doing to you,' and I got a little upset," Carter said. "So then I just decided to fight back a little bit and started doing my own thing again. The result is I hooked up with Ashlee Simpson. When Paris came back from Australia, they talked to each other and she found out about it. "So I brought it up to her and said, 'You know what I did, and now it's your turn. Why don't you tell me what you did.' And she goes, 'I never did anything! I never cheated on you.' I had kind of started to really like Ashlee and I was thinking about the dating stage, then before you know it, f--king b-tch-face comes back." Carter, 26, told the New York Post he has no regrets, but the experience with Hilton left a bitter taste in his mouth. "I got so burnt over that whole Paris [bleep] with all this swinging and switching. Whatever happened to morals and values?"

Celebreties are hilarious. Look at this stuff. I truly don't understand the fascination with any of these people. Nick Carter? The Backstreet Boys? Why are we still talking about this? I also think Paris looks like a cross-eyed bird, who, because of her ocular deficiency, cannot get enough to eat. I'd be all over Ass-lee and her new nose. I bet I'd have a better chance with her sister though. She seems like she's a bit desperate of late.