Friday, December 29, 2006


EU hails Bulgaria, Romania's entry into EU family

Wow, now the EU will be 27. I remember back in the day when it was 15. I remember sitting at a meeting of a certain EU committee, and I was just in awe at how everything was translated live into all of the EU languages (12...I think). I couldn't imagine how the live translation of a Finnish speech into Greek could ever be accurate at all, considering you have to go through at least two translators and an intermediary language. Back in 2001, when I was there,I think about 20% of the budget was spent on translating everything into all of the languages. Lord knows how that works now.

Good luck Romania and Bulgaria. Some existing members are expecting a huge influx of migrant workers and nannies from these ex-soviet bloc countries. I think Romanians will have an easier time, considering their language is Latin-based. If nothing else, their entry into the EU might slow down the pervasive sex trade that is run through these countries.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Go Bears!


I think there a few too many bowl games these days, but hey...who am I to criticize. It was great to see them perform at their potential which has not happened since early November.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Une idée belge

I lived in Belgium for a little while, and it is an odd place. Belgians are known to be a happy people who love comics (who do you think invented the Smurfs and Tintin?) and beer. Some say that's because the weather is so atrocious, anyone who has less than an optimistic nature has already committed suicide and so has self-selected themselves out of the gene pool. I didn't find them particularly out-going, but they were always friendly. After spending about 6 months there, I understood where Magritte and many very odd cartoonists had gotten their inspiration. (Cartoon murals appear randomly throughout Brussels). Belgians play the role in French jokes, that the Polish have traditionally played in ours: the butt. The French see their northern neighbors like red-headed step-cousins: lovable in a "our family from the country" kind of way.

Brussels is a bit on the sombre side, especially during the winter, and the other cities, while often beautiful and romantic (see Bruges), lack the Italian/Spanish/Swedish charm that the EU has at least brought to the capital city. Brussels, however, is a city with a very subtle charm that must be sought with Chimay and gauffre in hand. When friends say that they're traveling in Europe, I say that Brussels is really only worth a day or two at most. I mean, come on, this is the top tourist attraction.


It takes too long to find the good stuff. I had a wonderful time living in Brussels and I wouldn't trade it in for anything in the world.

While there, I did detect a palpable distrust between Flandres, the flemish and "dutch" speaking part of Belgium, and Wallonie, the french speaking portion. So I think it was probably a bad idea to do this. (for those of you too lazy to click, the Belgian news station RTBF ran a fake story about how Flandres had declared independence from Belgium and showed images of cheering crowds waving the Flemish flag). There may be some antagonism between the two, but there's no need to incite a riot.

Everyone should just sit down, have a kwak, and chill out.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Early Xmas present from the bay area gods...

a little shaker

Scared the crap out of me, that's for sure. I was halfway outside by the time it stopped.

Merry Christmas to all! What do you want for christmas? Might I suggest... (can you guess what I did at work today?)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

With Friends Like These....

I found a very disturbing article in the NY Times yesterday about detainees in Iraq. Here is an excerpt:

American guards arrived at the man’s cell periodically over the next several days, shackled his hands and feet, blindfolded him and took him to a padded room for interrogation, the detainee said. After an hour or two, he was returned to his cell, fatigued but unable to sleep.

The fluorescent lights in his cell were never turned off, he said. At most hours, heavy metal or country music blared in the corridor. He said he was rousted at random times without explanation and made to stand in his cell. Even lying down, he said, he was kept from covering his face to block out the light, noise and cold. And when he was released after 97 days he was exhausted, depressed and scared.

But here is the crazy party, this was not a captured insurgent. Rather it was:

...Donald Vance, a 29-year-old Navy veteran from Chicago who went to Iraq as a security contractor. He wound up as a whistle-blower, passing information to the F.B.I. about suspicious activities at the Iraqi security firm where he worked, including what he said was possible illegal weapons trading.

But when American soldiers raided the company at his urging, Mr. Vance and another American who worked there were detained as suspects by the military, which was unaware that Mr. Vance was an informer, according to officials and military documents.

At Camp Cropper, he took notes on his imprisonment and smuggled them out in a Bible.

Mr. Vance also stated:

While we were detained, we wrote a letter to the camp commandant stating that the same democratic ideals we are trying to instill in the fledgling democratic country of Iraq, from simple due process to the Magna Carta, we are absolutely, positively refusing to follow ourselves.”

I couldn't have said it better myself. If this is how we are treating Americans working in Iraq who report suspicious activity, I can only imagine what we do to everyone else.

On a similar note, I saw Rajiv Chandrasekaran, author of "Imperial Life in the Emerald City" the other night on the Daily Show, and what he had to say shocked me (I can't find the Daily Show clip, but here's a link to an interview on "Foreign Exchange"). I know there have been a lot of books about what has gone wrong in Iraq, but what this guy had to say was just bananas. Senior Arabists in the state department were not part of the rebuilding of Iraq because they were not seen as being loyal to the neo-cons, and instead we sent a bunch of people right out of college. This statistic is crazy: half of the people we sent over to rebuild Iraq had to apply for their first passport. These are not worldly people. Here's a Washington Post article about the book, and an excerpt. Apparently hummus couldn't be found, but pork and beans was the standard fare...I'm sure that won the hearts and minds of the Muslims. This makes it clearer and clearer why things have gone the way they have.

I've ordered the book. I'll let y'all know how it is.

Monday, December 18, 2006

It's like voltron...except together, they form the ultimate douche

"Michael Bolton Tribute" and the phrase ending "on ice." I thought it was a joke at first. But this weekend, I saw quite possibly the lamest thing I have ever seen on television. I haven't read the bible in a while, isn't this a sign of armageddon or something? I think this is right before the locusts.

Michael Bolton Tribute on Ice

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (again)

Well, it finally happened. The Guantanamo detainee, Hamdan, whose challnge to his detention and status ended up in this summer's Hamdan v. Rumsfeld decision, which in turn led to the MCA legislation that strips federal courts of habeas jurisdiction, had his habeas petition thrown out today for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

(See order here from D.D.C.)

Interestingly, it does say that the MCA is an unconstitutional suspension of the Great Writ insofar as it extends to those entitled to the writ. But, as Hamdan is a non-resident captured outside of the United States, he is not entitled to habeas relief as a constitutional matter.

I don't think this is going to make us very popular with our foreign friends. If we catch you and throw you into Guantanamo (which was a deliberate attempt to escape the jurisdiction of the courts in the first place), and call you an unlawful detainee, you no longer have any recourse to our courts. Just these military commissions of dubious independence.

Howie, You ARE the Father (of Montel's love child)!

So I watched "Deal or No Deal"for the first time the other night (I know I know, I live under a rock, ok?) and there was something...something disturbing about Howie Mandel. I couldn't put my finger on it...and then I realized.

Howie Mandel has turned into Montel Williams.

Seriously think about it.

I mean, can you even tell which is which? Does anyone else remember this crazy canuck's stand-up days?

Monday, December 11, 2006

"Sun Rises, Humans Blink, Say Sources"

Two headlines struck me as describing non-events today:

"Taco Bell Restaurant Are Safe, Says Taco Bell"
-According to who?

"Nicole Richie arrested for suspected DUI"
-I only look at the 'loids every once in a while, but even I know she's been chasing the dragon and/or shit-faced 24/7 for the last few years.

Even if you combined these stories to say something like "Nicole Richie Suspected of E-coli Contamination, Says Taco Bell," I still don't think I would raise a brow.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Proposed New Law School Courses

Having been out here in the legal world for about two years now, I would like to propose a few changes to the normal law school curriculum based on my experience as a plaintiffs' atty doing mostly federal law. I am only kind of kidding.

Moot CourtConference Call: participants shall be graded based on their ability to get multiple parties on the line and not talk over one another. Strategic use of the mute button in order to make fun of the other participants earns extra points.

Corporations Management: A course that describes to you how much of your overwhelming workload you can delegate to your staff without running afoul of any of those tricky "unauthorized practice of law" rules.

Model Rules of Professional Conduct Etiquette: When you are working with several other plaintiffs firms in different cities, how can you go about successfully managing your litigation while not pissing everyone off? This course will answer such questions as "when I get an email from a partner at another firm asking me to do something, do I have to do it?" "Does that mean I know have 30 bosses?," "How nice are you allowed to be with opposing counsel...when (s)he is cute?" and "Can I use emoticons in non-essential emails?"

Civil Procedure Local Rules, General Orders, and Standing Orders: There are these things called "cases" to explain the Federal Rules. This course will explain to you the 14 and 1/2 supplemental documents that are required to file something under seal in the Northern District of California and will answer such burning existential questions as "Do I need to file my 'administrative motion to seal' under seal?," and whether or not you have to call opposing counsel and do twelve push ups before you can schedule a hearing date in front of Judge Smith.

Legal Writing Drafting a Declaration: Can you just sign "under penalty of perjury" or does it have to be "under penalty of perjury of the laws of California" or "Pennsylvania" or "Guam"? What if you live in Guam, but are submitting a declaration in California? This course will also cover when it is best to use "Exhibits A, B, C" versus "Exhibits 1,2,3" or the modified "Exhibit A-1." What if an exhibit has an exhibit? AAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!

Any other suggestions?

P.S. To all of you law schoolers out there, good luck on your exams!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Don't Let La Porte Hit You in the Ass on Your Way Out

Bolton Withdraws From UN Nomination Amid Opposition (Update4)

By Brendan Murray and Judy Mathewson

Dec. 4 (Bloomberg) -- John Bolton will step down this month as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, as President George W. Bush conceded that opposition from Democrats would make it impossible for the envoy to stay in the job. (full story)

Woo hoo! It's about fricking time. I mean seriously. This guy couldn't even get confirmed when the Republicans controlled the Senate. Bush is trying to fault the Democratic and Republican Senators who have opposed Bolton's confirmation by saying that this is a bad time to interrupt our foreign diplomatic corps. I think that he has a point given what's going on with Iran and North Korea, but it is Bush's stubbornness that has created this situation. It was Bush who kept Bolton at his post despite the fact that the Senate did not confirm him since his nomination in March 2005. And despite the clear message of the elections a month ago, he re-nominated this guy. You can't blame other people for the problems you create yourself. Although, from what I know about this guy's upbringing, I don't believe that he was ever taught that you are responsible for the consequences of your own actions.