Friday, December 28, 2007

Happy New Year to All!

Due to my office trying to get everything done before the holidays, I have been on a blogging break. And my goodness a lot has happened since I last was on here. Shootings in malls, shootings in Pakistan, and a Tiger ate a fellow SFer. Though I have to be honest with you, I feel worse for the tiger than the guy who was allegedly taunting the tiger.

I'll try to be better and definitely more interesting in the future.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

City Girls Have Dense Breasts, Increased Risk of Breast Cancer

BBC NEWS: City living 'breast cancer risk'

I was originally going to talk about perky city boobs, but this is actually quite scary and serious. Apparently, women living in cities have denser breasts, due to (they think) increased air pollution, which in turn, increases a woman's chance to develop breast cancer. So go get checked all you urban ladies.

In other BBC News, the British continue to push the meta envelope.

Protesters protest free-speech debate

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Local Coffee Shop Makes Good (Coffee)

After mentioning one of our great local eateries, Boogaloos, when giving our city a good economic colonoscopy a while back, now one of our local coffee shops, Ritual, made it into "The Economist" for having a fancy coffee machine.

NEAR the hard-working espresso machine at Ritual Coffee Roasters, a café in San Francisco, sits a stainless-steel box about the size of a desktop computer. This box, the Clover, produces a cup of coffee with a spectacle of streaming water, whirring motors and an ingenious inverse plunger. Zander Nosler, the industrial designer who invented the Clover nearly three years ago, seems to have done the impossible: attracted a cult following for a new coffee-making machine that is both slower and vastly more expensive than other machines and requires the undivided attention of a trained operator.
Now these two establishments are actually more or less across the street from one another in the Mission. And they are, by far, two of the most hipster establishments in the city.

Boogaloos is where everyone goes for breakfast the morning after a big night out at Casanova, Delirium, Beauty Bar, Latin American Club, etc. You see some crazy hipster outfits (a la BSL) and some people who obviously never went to sleep the night before. Great breakfast, even better people watching.

And then there's Ritual. Ritual is a coffee shop, that no matter what day, nor time of day you walk into, all the tables are full with people on laptops. Sure, some of them are students, but not all of them. The rest are "writers," or "bloggers," or "trustifarians,"and most of the time all three. And again, very very hipster. You need to have at least one visible tattoo and 3 pair of skinny jeans to work there, and there are more fixed gear bikes locked up outside than are in the inventory of the worker-owned non-profit cooperative bike shop down the street. But, the coffee there is incredible.

And honestly, I can't think of anything that would make this place more hipster than a $11k coffee machine that requires a trained technician to produce an incredibly slow $6 cup of coffee.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Reading This Blog Makes You Smarterer

I guess.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

'ello, what's that govna?!

San Francisco is currently considering adding double-decker buses, similar to those used in Vegas that have toured London's streets for time immemorial, to its public transit fleet.

I foresee this as a way of men letting each other know if they are a "top" or a "bottom."

Friday, November 09, 2007

French Tuesdays

If you happen to live in New York, Miami, San Francisco, or Los Angeles, you might have heard of "French Tuesdays." But maybe not.

Basically, its an exclusive list of exclusive francophi
les that have an exclusive party somewhere every second Tuesday. Although, if I got invited, this whole exclusive thing might just be a crock. Anyway, this is who it is for according to the website.

If you have a particular taste for Champagne, enjoy dancing on eclectic music, being surrounded by an elegant and international crowd, and like a "je ne sais quoi of French Flair...

You will love our happy and hip gatherings,
that take place in the trendiest venues of the city.

Every other Tuesday, from 7pm to 1am,
we invite our members for an evening of fun, dance, Champagne and fine food, spiced up with a twist of French romance and heavy accents.
Intriguing, non? But part of this sort of sounded like Günther
The four main things in Günthers life are Champagne, Glamour, Sex and Respect.

The one I went to was at a place called Vessel here in SF, which is not a French bar. It's more like a bar from an early Sex and the City Episode...you know one where Samantha is hot for some fancy rich guy, who takes her to a trendy new Manhattan bar...in like 1998? With like a glowing bar and glass bricks in the bathroom? I don't know if that was a Sex and the City Episode, but it seems like it. Anyway, it kind of looks like that.

So I guess a couple of french guys got together and decided that the best way to hook up with american chicks was to lure them into one place every other tuesday with images of Louis Vuitton and Moet & Chandon dancing in their heads. And I have THIS to say about that.

Pretty smart really. Yeah, good job with that one. Especially when you're trying to fool everyone by fashioning your look after Moby.Now, I knew coming into this, that this would not represent the France that I know. While there is a very chic jet set in Paris, most people there are not. I ran into la racaille more than I did people who worked for Yves Saint Laurent.

But there was really nothing french about it. The DJ was french, and his music definitely dipped more into the eclectic, but the crowd there just seemed likely a slightly better dressed version of the kind of people who would go to this place,
sans prétexte d'une soirée française. And no one was really all that nice. I don't know if it was the supposed exclusivity or "frenchness," but it kind of made everyone act a bit pretentious.

Now, I'm actually in these pictures somewhere (ooooh), but here is my attempt at some Blue States Lose.


I'm not exactly sure what's going on here, but I think the guy on the left just gave the guy on the right the fastest hand job ever recorded.

"My mother must approve all my dates. She told me to get you this glass of ginger ale. Wait, where are you going?"

I think it might have been my fight or flight response kicking in after seeing these guys walking towards me, but the first thing I noticed in this picture was the "Exit" sign.

"So then he said, 'just think of this dress as being the exclusive sneak-peak preview of your boobs.'"

In french, to be surprised is to be "étonné(é)." As in she was étonnéé to discover that this whole time this guy had been talking about a "préservatif," he was not referring to jelly.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

My day of civic duty

On Tuesday, which was when our local elections took place, I was ordered to report for jury duty, in what turned out to be a wage/hour dispute. So I spent half a day watching a group of about 24 people get questioned by the judge, and then by the attorneys, about their experiences with employers/employees and their general feeling about litigants. I got excused after the first round of peremptory challenges when it seemed like they would have enough people to (eventually) form a jury. In my line of work, we practically never go to trial, so I'm gong to totally put this on my resume as "trial experience."

During voir dire, I was one again reminded about how ridiculously overeducated this city is. Of the 24 people on the panel, I would say about 4 did not have at least a B.A degree. And two of those were first generation immigrants who would eventually be excused because their English comprehension wasn't all that great. There were 3 attorneys (one was retired), a PHD and ex-professor, two scientists who worked for biotech companies, and a bunch of MBAs that worked in web development or something like that (my tech comprehension is far worse than the excused jurors' English).

And then I went and voted. In a city with that many educated people, you think there would be a large number of qualified candidates for mayor, right? Not so much. This city is also full of a bunch of nutjobs. Here are some of the candidates other than Gavin Newsom. And yes, these are really from the voter guide.

GEORGE DAVIS

My occupation is Writer/Nudist Activist.

My qualifications are:

This is a One Issue campaign which is to Make Golden Gate Park Clothing Optional like the major urban parks in Europe. For other policy issues, a well known City Manager will be appointed.

Thoughts for today:

You are free to be nude!!! You are free to wear clothing. By California case law (In Re Smith 1972 and other court decisions), you have a freedom of choice.

Nude is not lewd.

With San Francisco's ranked three choices, voting for freedom of choice is as easy as one, two, three. Give George Davis a ranked vote, preferably #1.

If anyone should think this is not a serious issue, explain why George Davis has been illegally harassed by the San Francisco Police Department with 4 full arrests (handcuffs, booking, jail) in 5 weeks of campaigning followed almost immediately with a discharge of the citations by the San Francisco District Attorney.

Voters, you have a clear choice. Do you want police harassment of a legitimate non-violent cultural movement and censorship? Or, do you want freedom of choice and civil liberties?

For more details on George Davis and this campaign, visit the blogs at: www.gonakedyoga.com Or contact George at: vote4mayorsf@yahoo.com

George Davis

-------

GRASSHOPPER ALEC KAPLAN

My occupation is Vegan Taxicab Driver.

My qualifications are:

Born – Moscow, Russia; English – third but only language. Grasshopper: Vegan, Bay swimmer, owner Grasshopper Taxicab. Lifelong musician; guitarist, singer/songwriter. Compassionate, tolerant, supportive, loving. 13 years here residentially challenged.

To Impeach Is Patriotic. Promote swift removal: Bush, Cheney, Gonzales; Repeal illegal war criminal “unilateral executive” policies.

Locally, most important challenge – providing affordable housing. If you work here, you gotta be able to live here, so you can come back to work the next day fresh. Strengthen eviction protection. Legalize alternative housing situations, like commercially-zoned buildings, where many allready live.

Legalize everything. Legalize prostitution and sex work; make it SAFE. Make everyone happy. No problems, only solutions. Legalize cannabis; greens for peaceful purposes. Fund schools, hospitals, parks, roads.

Separate paths for bicycles. Convert Muni into world-class public transit system. Downtown assessment district funding free Muni for residents.

Total amnesty for all non-citizens; people ain't illegal. Let's celebrate our hardworking labor force while treasuring, protecting cultural diversity, encouraging hope, mercy.

Restore festival, carnival atmosphere; musicians, Artists, fun, love. Remember to smile, laugh, celebrate our wonderful existence, our fabulous planet; create / make Grassland model – beacon of mutual understanding, hope. Gratefully,

Grasshopper Alec Kaplan

-----

JOHN RINALDI

My occupation is Showman.

My qualifications are:

Hi, my name is Chicken John and I'm running for Mayor because I have a vision for the future of this city. I want a city that attracts artists, not one that chases them away; where innovation wins out over gentrification. In other words, a city that actually has a future, and not just a celebrated past.

What are my qualifications? Small business owner, community leader, champion of the arts. I converted my truck to run on coffee grounds with zero emissions. I've spent the last decade bringing people together in artistic endeavor, helping to make this city a better place.

Am I dumb enough to think I can win? Not really. But I do believe I can win the losing vote, and that's why I'm asking you to vote for me for second place. Think of it as an intellectual exercise, designed to raise the level of conversation.

We stand to lose a lot more if we don't even try: more bad public art, more greenwashing, more of the same magician's misdirection. We must resist a city apparatus that resists innovation, and hold its feet to the fire.

C'mon, it'll be fun. Vote for me.

Tashi Delek,

Chicken John

I totally voted for Chicken John, cuz he was right about one thing. It was kinda fun.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Dear flatmate

Dear flatmate,

When you came by my open house when I was looking for a roommate, I liked you. Well, actually after my long distance ex-girlfriend vetoed my previous choice, you were the only person still looking. But you seemed nice and I liked you. And you had living room furniture. You didn't have a job lined up, but you assured me that you had enough money in the bank to last you for a while.

That was May.

You've never been late with rent or bills, and for that I thank you.

But please . . . get a job. Here is why:

1. You are always around. As I said, I like you. But you're always around. And sometimes you have friends over. And some of your friends have babies. And sometimes all I want is a quiet apartment.

2. It's not like you do anything. Ok, I know you're starting a nonprofit or whatever, but seriously. I don't know what you do with your day. You visit friends and go to coffee shops. I figure out all the bills, take out the trash and recycling and do more than my share of cleaning. You also never go shopping nor cook. When you sit there and say you're hungry and sigh until I offer you some of whatever I am eating is getting old. As is when you eat my food. I have about 10 hours less free time in my day than you do, so could you please EFFING DO SOMETHING? I don't expect you to do more than your share just because you are sans emploi, but please. Buy your own food and some toilet paper from time to time.

So, in sum, when you come home from a day of hanging out with your friends, please don't tell me how exhausted you are and then ask me if I'm going "to eat all that."

Thank You,

TDA

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Bush Appointee To Bring Hostility, Feathered Bangs to Position

Similar to how he appointed John Bolton, a man who was know for his active dislike of the United Nations, as United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Bush has appointed an avid critic of birth control as chief of family planning programs at the Department of Health and Human Services, Susan Orr. She will be in charge of about $283 million in annual grants to provide low-income families and others with contraceptive services, counseling and preventive screenings.

As noted in this Washington Post article:

In a 2001 article in The Washington Post, Orr applauded a Bush proposal to stop requiring all health insurance plans for federal employees to cover a broad range of birth control. "We're quite pleased, because fertility is not a disease," said Orr, then an official with the Family Research Council.
So if she's not going to be spending all that money on birth control, what should she spend it on? My vote goes to booze and hotel rooms.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

So Incredibly Likely, I Can't Believe It Actually Happened! Part II

Another Reason to Dislike Leland Stanfurd Junior University. Donald Rumsfeld, America's former defence secretary, has been granted a prestigious one-year fellowship at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, a conservative think-tank. Mr Rumsfeld will join a task force on terrorism and ideology, along with George Schultz, the secretary of state under Ronald Reagan and a current Hoover Fellow.

To the credit of the students and other faculty, a good number have signed a petition opposing the appointment, largely because of Mr Rumsfeld's role in the invasion of Iraq. Honestly, if you wanted someone on a committee on "terrorism and ideology," wouldn't you want somebody who hadn't supremely fucked up?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Medellin

Ok, no, I'm not talking about Vincent Chase's movie that bombed at Cannes. He's just a pretty man.

Today the SCOTUS will (or has, damn time difference), hear argument in Medellin v. Texas, a case that deals with the President's power to direct state governments to comply with international treaty law (in this case, a decision by the International Court of Justice["ICJ"]) when it deals with an area of law that is traditionally left to the states (criminal procedure of sorts). More importantly, it will also deal with whether state governments have an obligation to follow the ICJ's decision even in the absence of Presidential action because international law is, by definition, federal law, and thus preeminent under the Supremacy Clause.

I doubt international law is going to stand much of a chance with the current Court even though this would be a good case to enforce the ICJ's decision because there are direct treaty obligations involved. None of that messy customary international law or jug cogens stuff that makes U.S. judges so uncomfortable.

More info than you probably care for available here.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

SCOTUS feigns interest, but really can't get mind off of back 9

In a day of unreceptiveness, the Court seemed disinclined to let investors sue companies that were involved in securities fraud if they were not primary violators. I actually found this somewhat hard to believe. Basically there was a scheme that required the participation of a third party (sham transaction). The investors were trying to go after the third party as well as the defendant/company itself. Other than Ginsburg though, it doesn't seem the little guy had much of a chance. If you're really bored interested in a background of the case, take a look here

Elsewhere, the Court also declined to review a case against the C.I.A., that would have reopened the "state secrets" question in El-Masri v. U.S. (06-1613) as well looked into the agency's alleged "extraordinary rendition" program; where the CIA captures individuals and then ships them abroad to be interrogated and tortured so that they do not have to follow U.S. law or procedure. El-Masri alleged that he was kidnapped in Macedonia in 2003 and then taken to Afghanistan where he was held for months and tortured by his captors. El-Masri was released in 2004 after he says U.S. officials realized he was not involved with terrorism. The administration has never acknowledged El-Masri or his claims.

So if you get kidnapped and shipped off to a foreign land, tortured and then let go because it was all a mistake. TOUGH SHIT. As the government would like to keep it a secret that it might be engaged in activity prohibited by both US and international law, there will be no review. Shhhhhh. It's a secret.

This Court is starting to remind me of the Board of Supervisors at a gated retirement community.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Champions League: Liverpool v. l'OM















Olympique de Marseille 1- Liverpool 0

Allez les gars!!! Droit au But!!

l'OM is about to become the first french side to ever win at Anfield!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Celebrity smooches criminalized in India

Maybe we could learn a thing or two.

At an AIDS awareness event in April, Richard Gere embraced Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty and gave her several kisses on the cheek. Arrest warrants were promptly issued for the both of them on charges of violating "anti-obscenity" laws. I don't think you have to be hindu to be a bit weirded out by having now 52 year-old Richard Gere smooching on you in public after saying "no condom, no sex" in hindi to the crowd.

But if kisses on the cheek are considered obscene, how in the world did they manage to televise an AIDS awareness event?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Update: Gays in Iran

Turns out there might be some after all!

http://gawker.com/news/international-lover/where-to-find-hot-gay-sex-in-iran-303521.php

Ahmadinejad at Columbia-in Support of Lee Bollinger

Short Version

Yesterday, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke at Columbia University. A previous speech that was to take place last year was canceled for "security and logistical reasons."

The President of Columbia University, Lee Bollinger, and the rest of Columbia University came under scorching criticism for allowing the controversial leader to speak.

"I didn't expect Lee Bollinger to say Ahmadinejad is a moderate or he's been misunderstood," City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said. "The forum he provided is the issue. He and his university gave this hate monger an opportunity to speak on one of the most prestigious stages in all the world." (From AP via Yahoo).
I, for one, applaud the decision. I believe that bad ideas are like vampires; they don't survive exposure to light. I only saw clips of his speech here, but I thought it was interesting. When confronted with his "denial" of the holocaust, he said that he didn't deny it happened, only that he disagreed with what had happened to the middle east since, and that the holocaust did not justify the displacement of the Palestinians (i.e., the creation of the state of Israel).

Fair Point. You might not agree with it, but it's a fair point.

My favorite part though, was when he was asked about homosexuals in his country. Ahmadinejad denied that ANY homosexuals existed in Iran. The crowd erupted in laughter, as I would. In that one instant, he was transformed from some diabolical world leader into just a bigot in denial. And THAT is the power of the free-exchange of ideas.

I don't think Lee Bollinger's introduction (wherein he called some of Ahmadinejad's ideas "ridiculous" and the man himself a "petty and cruel dictator") was really appropriate given that he was the moderator, as opposed to an opponent in a debate. However, given the amount of negative publicity about his decision to even allow Ahmadinejad to speak, I understand why he chose to lead with how he disagreed with the man, but that he still allowed him to speak.

So I agree with Ahmadinejad's rebuke that it wasn't really appropriate to introduce a speaker in a way to immediately put him on the defensive and that the students should make up their own mind. He called this "Iranian tradition." I think a few political prisoners and former newspaper owners who would disagree that it is Iranian tradition to allow free speech.

Ahmadinejad also took spontaneous questions from the audience. Something I wish OUR president (who was so quick to criticize the University's decision to allow the Iranian President to speak) would do. Cuz I think our President has some pretty stupid ideas that I wish would see the light of day in an open forum.

So again, in allowing him this forum, a lot of this man's ideas, that would otherwise stay hidden behind unchallenged statements in other forums, come to light. I just found the whole thing on Youtube, so I'm going to watch it all for context I think:

Long Version

Ahmadinejad Speech Part 1: Wow, that's a lot of God talk. I guess this shows the big difference between our two cultures. I think he's trying to be relevant to Christianity? Some of this "science and religion are able to co-exist" talk sound sort of similar to christian fundamentalist yet apologetic creationists.

Ahmadinejad Speech Part2: Oh man, more God stuff? This is why I don't go to church, mosque, or temple. No wonder the highlights from this were so short. Science is illuminating? Didn't he say this already? Oh God, this is painful.

Ahmadinejad Speech Part3: Ok, I agree that Bush's wiretapping domestic citizens does create fear, but this is coming from the guy who runs a country that shuts down opposition newspapers and arrests people for their political views. Now he's talking about the misuse of science and alluding to nuclear capabilities. I think I know where this is going....

Ahmadinejad Speech Part4: Here it is. The nuclear powers have strayed from science and the teaching of the profits by not allowing countries to develop nuclear capability. Palestinian refugees were created by the creation of Israel. ooh, here we go.... He did say that the holocaust was a "historical event" so I don't know how people can say that he "denies" its existence. He says he wants to research it from "different angles." Not sure what that means. Now he says he wants to study its "root causes," that's fair. And now why should the Palestinians pay the price for the holocaust when they didn't have anything to do with it? I think that is a fair point.

Iran is a member of the IAEA and now he's citing their bi-laws and saying their reports say that Iran is pursuing peaceful nuclear energy. I don't think the IAEA agrees with that.

Ahmadinejad Speech Part 5: Now he is making it an issue of independence and self-determination. Now questions: "Do you seek the destruction of Israel?" Answer: "We love all nations" and how jews live in Iran and are represented in the government. But he says Palestinians have the right to self-determination. But the interviewer wants a yes or no answer. Ahmadinejad bristles and says that now the moderator wants to hear the answer he wants to hear, and retorts with his own "Is the Palestinian issue not an international issue of prominence? Yes or no?"

Now, in response to whether Iran supports terrorists, he says that Iran is actually a victim of terrorism.

Ahmadinejad Speech Part 6: Now, "why do you want to research the holocaust more?" He answers, "why do you want to stop?" "I'm not saying it didn't happen"

Now a question about Iranian women and their rights. "Women in Iran enjoy the highest degree of freedom." Wow. "There are hundreds of women scientists in the biotechnology field." Wow, hundreds.

"We don't have homosexuals in our country" BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!

"It's not a crime to be a women" Uh oh, this is getting bad.

Ahmadinejad Speech Part 7: Question about the nuclear program. What are you seeking? Only to provide fuel to power plants. He again accuses the world powers of wanting to monopolize science. Not much more.

Moderator makes one last quip about how Ahmadinejad didn't have time to answer some questions, and didn't answer some of the questions posed to him. Wow, that never happens here. I think that was a rather lame an ungracious last word to get in.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Had to Share

I think you have to be sort of an internet dork to get these, but good lord they're hilarious.

http://lolsecretz.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Pick-Up Artist: Episode...uh...I don't know....the one with the strippers

In this week's episode, Mystery sends the three remaining boys to a strip club in an attempt to pick up on strippers.

While I've always found this show bordering on the inappropriate, I think this crosses the line. When I put on my "dude" helmet, I understand the logic here. Strippers are like asymptotes. You can get really close to them, but you can never touch them. They are unattainable. They have probably seen every trick in the book.

BUT, these are also women who do this for a living. This is their job. How they feed themselves is by taking off their clothes. Regardless what you think of this, I think it is really disrespectful to walk in here and do as Mystery said "Keep your money in your pockets." That's why the women are here, to make money, not to deal with your cheap ass. Ugh. Ok, I'm really done with this show now.

Monday, September 17, 2007

New Pick for AG Less Likely To Take Advantage of People Doped Up in Hospital

Today dubya nominated retired federal judge Michael B. Mukasey as Gonzo's successor at the top of the Department of Justice. Most of the articles I have read paint him as a "compromise" choice and a concession to Democrats and all those critical of the Britney Spear's VMA performance that this administration has become (analogy shamelessly stolen from Jezebel).

While I agree that he seems to be less bat shit crazy, I'm not totally sold. As a federal judge, he did seem to adhere to the constitution. He is also the judge that signed the material witness warrant of Joseph Padilla and was involved with his case while it was in New York. At one point during that case, he siding with Padilla over the government.

Since he has retired, however, he has not hesitated to wax poetic (see op ed piece here) about how the war on terror merits different standards for criminal convictions and how our system is not prepared for this on-going struggle. For example, at one point in his op ed, he said:

On one end of the spectrum, the rules that apply to routine criminals who pursue finite goals are skewed, and properly so, to assure that only the highest level of proof will result in a conviction. But those rules do not protect a society that must gather information about, and at least incapacitate, people who have cosmic goals that they are intent on achieving by cataclysmic means.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, is said to have told his American captors that he wanted a lawyer and would see them in court. If the Supreme Court rules--in a case it has agreed to hear relating to Guantanamo detainees--that foreigners in U.S. custody enjoy the protection of our Constitution regardless of the place or circumstances of their apprehension, this bold joke could become a reality.
(emphasis added).
So it seems that when he did adhere to constitutional standards in his courtroom he did it somewhat begrudgingly. Which, to be sure, is an improvement. But now that he is a position of a policy maker, I don't think he will exhibit the same impartiality he once had as a trial judge. While he seems competent (again, an improvment), I do not believe that he really is a concession to democrats or will significantly change the administration's stance on the war on terror.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Humor Is Elusive

I think it was Gilda Radner who once said something to the extent that comedy is truth a moment before expected. That said, I don't know why this is so funny to me but it is.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Go Bears!

I haven't been in college in 10 years for a short while, but when I went to the Cal v. Tennessee game last weekend, I had a near orgasmic experience. Beating a good SEC team after that loss last year and all of the smack over the summer. Ahhhh. Sweet sweet come uppins.

I don't know why they are calling this a blow out, because it wasn't. This game was anyone's until the fourth quarter. The Tennessee fans were good sports and fun to hang around with after the game, so cheers, and good luck guys! Tell you what, if you take care of LSU, maybe we can do something about the University of Spoiled Children. Deal?

DeSean Jackson is something else, and if Jahvid Best runs that well as a freshman. Good lord. He's going to be one to watch.

Now an unranked Oregon dismantled Michigan, UCLA beat BYU, and Washington finally ended Boise's win streak. Before I was arguing that the Pac-10 is a strong conference. Now I'm afraid that I was right. Cal and that other school down in Compton have their work cut out for them.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Ooooh Ooooh That Smell!

So we've had a couple of hot days here in the city. I can't tell you how hot, because I can't seem to find past weather conditions on the web. Only forecasts. I heard someone today say it hit 90 degrees. Now I know all of you in the humid east coast or the blazing south west might scoff at this, but our little city is not prepared for that weather; No one has air conditioning and none of us are used to hiking up these damn hills when it's above 70.

Apparently neither are city officials.

Yesterday, as I was leaving my office, I noticed a distinct aroma of barnyard. In a very Proustian way, I was taken back to when I used to ride horses or go to the tri-county fair and look at pigs. I stopped, checked the bottoms of the souls of my shoes and kept walking. But the stench persisted.

"No one else seems to be noticing, god it must be me," I thought, as I sheepishly made my way to my gym. But as soon as I stepped into the gym, it was gone. Until I walked out of the gym, when I was once again bombarded with the stench of poo.

It can't be me, right? I casually brought it up with some friends. Nope wasn't me, they smelled it too, and had gone through the same ritual of checking the bottoms of their shoes on the way home.

I then found this Chronicle after searching for a bit. Turns out that the, ahem, sewage boxes that surround the city couldn't handle the heat and started stinking.

First, WE HAVE SEWAGE BOXES THAT SURROUND THE CITY?! What will happen when the big one hits? Did we build a shit moat to keep out republicans?

Second, Yuck. We only have a few nice hot and really sunny days here in the city, where you want to sit outside in the sun and have a nice glass of pinot grigio after work. Maybe it's just me, but there's something about the smell of feces that just ruins the mood.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

On a different note

Greek Firefighters have the coolest helmets ever.
My sympathies to the families that have been affected and displaced.

Photo from the Economist.com

Beware of Catchy Music in the Men's Bathroom

and don't tap your foot to it. Unless that's the kind of thing you're into.

Idaho Senator Larry Craig today announced that he regretted pleading guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct that stemmed from his arrest during a sting operation in a Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport bathroom. Allegedly, Craig was attempting to get it on with the undercover cop in the bathroom stall next to him by making repeated eye-contact, tapping his foot, and making sweeping gestures with his hand under the stall divider (Police Report).

Now I'm not fluent in "anonymous gay bathroom stall sex" sign language, or at least not the Midwestern dialect, but that does seem like odd behavior.

Craig said that he plead guilty to the lesser charge of "disorderly conduct," even though he did nothing wrong, just to try and make the whole thing go away.

The Log Cabin Republicans (a gay republican group) were quick to jump to his defense.

Senator Larry Craig's ability to continue serving the people of Idaho is in serious doubt . . . . He has violated the public trust, not just with his inappropriate and illegal behavior, but in the subsequent explanation of his actions. Innocent people don't plead guilty. The time to contest these allegations would've been before his guilty plea.
As an aside, I've never understood the Log Cabin Republicans to be quite honest. I don't get the metaphor (Lincoln?syrup?), and I don't understand how they can...you know...exist. And it doesn't look like I'm going to start now. "Gay Republican" just sounds like a non-sequitur. It would be like "Jewish Nazi" or "Bespeckled Khmer Rouge" or "Compassionate Conservative." These things just don't go together.

Anyway, I'm not really all that surprised that an anti-gay rights Republican turns out to be a little kinky with the boys. I mean, it's not like that's never happened before. And it seems Mr. Craig himself has had a few similar incidents in the past.

I disagree with the notion that no one pleads guilty when they're really innocent. For many, pleading guilty might be the best option given the time and expense it takes to fight criminal charges. To say otherwise would be the equivalent of saying that a prosecutor would never plead to a lesser charge when he or she believes the suspect is guilty of a more serious crime. Maybe like in this case. Sometimes it comes down to cost/benefit analysis.

I don't really know what's so bad about this really. As long as it's two consenting adults, what's the problem? I've had sex in a bathroom stall. In a girls bathroom though. It was a long time ago. What was I talking about?

Oh right. But I do think the Log Cabin Republicans are right in one respect. I think they're right to try and distance the gay community as a whole from this incident. I feel like a lot of the consequential outrage of this was unleashed toward the gay community as a whole, rather than the smaller subset that gets a kick out of this.

For example, here is Tucker Carlson's reaction. In this video clip from Gawker, he explains how when he thought he was being propositioned in a bathroom in Georgetown, he went and got a friend, came back to the bathroom and beat the crap out of him.

Anonymous gay sex in a bathroom is at the very worst, kind of icky. Hate crime in a bathroom is absolutely disgusting.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Bedtime for Gonzo

This week in "It's about effing time," Attorney General Gonzales has resigned. I think it is fitting that two years since Katrina and the shameful discovery that Bush had appointed a friend with no experience as the head of FEMA, that we once again learn the price of nepotism and of appointing people based on loyalty.

While Gonzales has impressive credentials (unlike many other appointees and attempted appointees like Harriet Miers), his loyalty to this administration was dangerous to us all. The head of the Department of Justice must have the independence to question the legality of executive branch decisions, not rubber stamp and advocate them. Whether it was the questionable firings of some of the U.S. Attorneys, or the highly suspicious hospital visit to get Ashcroft's ok for the domestic surveillance program, Gonzales has been no friend to the office or the Constitution.

¡y adiós muy buenas!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Pick-Up Artist: Part Yawn

I only caught the last half-hour of Monday's episode of the Pick-Up Artist, and I have to say that I have no discernible reaction to it. Some of the dudes got better at picking up chicks. Some didn't use the correct magic spells. Someone got voted off of the island. Someone had to swap wives. Someone didn't get the magical elven medallion, the others did. I think the initial shock value of the whole thing has sort of worn off for me.

Wait a minute.

Did I fall prey to Mystery's magical spell? Is this whole show a "neg" or a "gambit" or a "set" or something? Oh my god. He used me, spit me out and then convinced me it was my own decision!

[end of transmission]

Monday, August 20, 2007

Branch of Iranian Military To Be Designated a Terroritst Organization

It was only in May of this year, that the U.S. and Iran agreed to high-level face-to-face relations after more than 20 years of diplomatic cold-shouldering. Although the U.S. agreed to the meeting solely on the condition that they only talk about Iraq, it was a momentous occasion, and the recommencement of perhaps a new (or any) dialog.

So then why, only 3 months later, would you decide to designate a branch of Iran's armed forces as a "terrorist organization?" Now don't get me wrong. I can be convinced that Iran is up to no good in Iraq, and their complete disdain for the International Atomic Energy Agency and all international norms surrounding nuclear proliferation is dangerous and frustrating. However, I do not think that designating a part of its military a "terrorist organization" is a good idea.

It will be the first time in history that the military of a foreign sovereign has been so designated. It's an off-handed way of accusing the whole country of sponsoring terrorism, which the U.S. has already done. It is also a just plain disrespectful way for one sovereign nation to deal with one another.

I think it will also end up being, like so many of the policies and decisions made by this administration, completely counterproductive. Unfriendly Muslim countries and organizations now have more fodder for their arguments that the United States is really at war with Islam generally and that the U.S. is acting unilaterally. This claim is also just asking to be responded to with cries of hypocrisy, given that it is our armed forces who find themselves in foreign lands.

I also think it will cause us to lose the favor of any remaining Iranian friends. While many in Iran are more reform minded and do not agree with the current bent of their leaders (I feel your angst, trust me), it is quite another thing to bad mouth an institution that is seen as being the forces loyal to Khomeini (and thus responsible for the Revolution in 79) and known for their bravery in the Iran-Iraq War. I'm not a big fan of our government right now, but I wouldn't take too kindly to another country designated the Marines as a "terrorist organization."

Coincidence?! My Patraeus!

Today, the White House announced that Gen. David Petraeus, will likely testify to Congress about progress in the war in Iraq on September 11 or 12. The fact that it may or may not fall on the anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, are, of course, pure coincidence. Which makes total sense, because everyone knows that September 11 and Iraq aren't related at all. Who ever thought that? I mean, why are we even taking about this?! What a crazy idea!

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Pick-Up Artist: Episode 2

Chained to the wall and against my will better judgment, I watched the second episode of this show. Well, kind of. I was actually on the phone with the gf during most of it, and just kind of had it on in the background, which probably means something, but I'm not sure what for the moment.

So far, this show seems to focus on how to try and meet women in bars and clubs. Though I've never been to Austin, I don't care who you are, this is a tall order. I think meeting girls in the supermarket, dance classes, or at places of normal social interaction might be a little less intimidating. There is a self-selecting population that chooses bars and clubs, and they are not the most easily impressed. But I guess if you can be successful there, the rest will be easy. Or overkill.

Then, you're dealing with men who seem to have social skills issues generally. I have to say, some of the techniques this mystery fellow was talking about don't seem all that stupid. They seem like they would be applicable to any social situation in which you find yourself in a sea of strangers. I haven't actually seen any techniques that are totally objectifying towards women specifically. For example, having some intro story or gimmick ("gambit" I guess is mystery's term for it, which reveals his true inner dork. No insult intended, I have books on chess openings. OMG, is that a "neg"? What is happening to me?) when you first meet someone. I think we all would be lying if we didn't have a few well-tested stories in our quivers to help us break the ice or carry the conversation when it seems to have stalled.

And I'm not sure if I find it disheartening or refreshing that he has tossed the whole "just be yourself" thing out the window. There are times to be truly yourself, but being in a situation where you're trying to be interesting to strangers isn't necessarily one of them. I do find the encouragement toward unflattering fashion, hair highlights, and piercings to be a bit a questionable. The word "poser" comes to mind. There are people who can pull some of these things off, but they are few and far between. There is a fine line between making yourself different from those around you and just trying too hard.

My favorite part though is the system of color-coded medallions that demarcates each man's ascendancy into pick-up artist-dom. This sounds a lot like D&D to me, which would make total sense, given that Markovik used to play the game. Think about it: you cast magic spells on women, and then as you get elevated in rank each week, you are given a magic medallion.

These wooden goggles with the slits are essential when you are a Level 4 Warlock on the the Ethereal Plane of Eberron.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Circular Reasoning, Rendition Style

According to the Pentagon, all 14 "high-value" detainees who had been previously held in the secret CIA prisons (whose very existence the administration didn't exactly confirm or deny for a year), and who were transferred to Guantanamo, have now been determined to be "enemy combatants" by a status review tribunal. I mean, they were detained at the secret CIA prisons, so they're obviously enemy combatants, right?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Trois Mois de Sarkozy: un bilan inattendu

During the French presidential campaign, critics of Sarko were worried that he was too "Anglo Saxon" and that he might be too cozy with the United States (an estimation that I disagreed with somewhat). Well, it seems that he's kind of American in at least one way. He's proven to be a unilateralist .

Despite ongoing efforts by the EU to free the imprisoned Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor that have been held in Libyan custody for the last eight years (imprisoned and later convicted of deliberately infecting some 400 children with HIV on highly disputed evidence), Sarko and his wife decided to take the matter into their own hands last month.

In what seemed to be a tit-for-tat exchange, Gadhafi agreed to release the prisoners and France signed five key agreements on future cooperation, including deals on defense and civilian nuclear energy, with Libya. Other European countries, especially Germany, cried foul, and accused France of being unilateralist and stealing the thunder of what had been previously a concerted EU effort.

Someone accusing the French of being unilateralist? Wow, I guess it runs full circle.

Article form Der Spiegel

Monday, August 06, 2007

Why Do We Care What You Think? Part III: You Give Love, a Bad (Icky Icky Groddy) Name

A 35 year-old man who goes by the name "Mystery"(aka Erik Von Markovik) is going to be hosting a show on VH1 called "The Pick-up Artist," in which he and some cohorts try to get a couple of guys laid (trailer via youtube).

When I first saw this photo and trailer, I thought that his method must involve dressing up like a goth version of "The Arftul Dodger" from the musical "Oliver!" so that the other men look relatively less douchebag-esq in comparison.

Not so.

Apparently this ex magician has a whole pick-up artist system worked out, has written a book, and travels the country giving seminars to sad sad men in search of companionship; which reminds me of Tom Cruise's character from the movie "Magnolia." Except of course, in that movie, the pick-up artist is deliberately shown as a charismatic misogynist. This non-fiction version of the charismatic misogynist has a system that involves something called "negs" which are when men are supposed to say or do something that briefly disqualifies them from being considered a potential suitor; such as blowing one's nose and then saying "What, are you going to watch?" He says these things disarm the woman and her friends.

I don't understand this logic, and I think these "negs" are close to being "disempowering" rather than "disarming." In the Salon.com article I stole most of this content from that was the inspiration for this post, he actually starts trying to hit on the girl interviewing him. When she says she's all out of questions, he comes up with this stunner:

"You're funny. Have you ever been to a club?"
Gee, I don't know. Have you ever shaved your hat?

He then proceeds to call San Francisco "San Fran." Not a way to get in good with a local

For a much more helpful and insightful commentary, check this out

Photo: Jason Merritt/FilmMagic/Vh1 available at Salon.com

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Plaintiffs' Bar Receives SetBack in Camel Jockey Case

In early June, a class-action lawsuit was filed in Florida against certain sheiks from the United Arab Emirates, accusing them of kidnapping and enslaving children and forcing them to ride camels (WSJ lawblog article). The case was brought under the Alien Tort Statute ("ATS"), which gives U.S. federal courts jurisdiction to hear cases brought by anyone, including foreign nationals, for injuries “in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.” For a whole discussion on the ATS, see anything written on the subject by Bill Dodge, or the Opinion Juris Discussion of the ATS and the last big SCOTUS case addressing it. The case brings up a slew of novel and interesting questions for those of us at all interested in international law, including head of state immunity, forum non conveniens, and international comity. This seems to be the plaintiffs' bar's first foray into human rights law, and not everyone was pleased with it. As Bill Dodge was quoted in a New York Time's article:

“It’s a bad thing that the class-action firms are getting into this area,” William Dodge, a law professor at Hastings Law, told the Times. “They don’t know as much about international law, and they don’t pick their battles as carefully. They’re motivated not just by a concern to promote human rights but also by money and a desire to use these kinds of suits to get a settlement.”
The UAE actually set up a whole media-ready website in response, called "dubaicameljockeys.org"

On July 30, 2007, the judge dismissed the case for a lack of personal jurisdiction (both under Florida's and the federal long arm statute) , thus avoiding some of the trickier questions that would have otherwise arisen. Seems the Sheiks did not have many meaningful contacts with the Sunshine state and the Court did not find plaintiffs' allegations that some corporations doing business in Flordia were the alter egos of the Defendants to be very convincing. While a win for the sheiks, this does not foreclose future litigation of this sort.

I think it would have been interesting to see how the court would have handled the accusation that the children were enslaved. The Sosa decision mostly limited the causes of action under the ATS to only those three that were unequivocally intended to be enforced at the time of the ATS's adoption in 1781: violating safe conduct, infringing the rights of ambassadors, and piracy. But the majority opinion did say that it would be willing to apply the statute to other, more modern concepts:
Accordingly, we think courts should require any claim based on the present-day law of nations to rest on a norm of international character accepted by the civilized world and defined with a specificity comparable to the features of the 18th-century paradigms we have recognized.
Surely slavery would fall under this definition, wouldn't it?

So Incredibly Likely, I Can't Believe It Actually Happened!

Yesterday, Al Gore III plead guilty to possession of marijuana and a few other drugs sans prescription in Orange County (LA Times). Authorities discovered the drugs after they pulled Gore over for going about 100mph. A couple comments here.

1. If you're going to have a numeral as a suffix to your name, you should go by "Albert" and not "Al." "Albert the III" sounds like he is from a politically connected family. "Al the III" sounds like a mechanic who works in a shop where two other "Al"s work, giving rise to the need to distinguish between them numerically.

2. Albert was pulled over for speeding in his hybrid 2006 Toyota Prius. Come on you couldn't make that up. I think his dad would have been more upset if he had been caught in an SUV.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Live Show: Bat for Lashes

Back in June I ran across a video of "Bat for Lashes" (aka British singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and visual artist Natasha Khan) over at transbuddha and was intrigued. I bought the album and it nestled itself into my ipod as my afternoon commute/nighttime background music. When I found out she and her band were coming through town on July 30 at Cafe du Nord, one of my favorite local venues, as one of only two stops on the west coast, I bought tickets.

First off, the Cafe du Nord is a great venue. It has a very intimate setting. It's very small, the stage is not that high off the ground, and there really isn't a bad place in the house. While the Fillmore and Great American Music Hall are great places to see larger more well-known bands, on any given night at the Cafe du Nord, you might catch the next big thing.

Or, in this case, I caught the thing that is already big in the UK, but not very large yet on this side of the pond.

I'm going to be repeating pretty much every review of Bat for Lashes when I say that she sounds like a cross between Bjork and Kate Bush, with a dash of Tori Amos thrown in. The music flirts with fantasy and tickles that part of your brain that was so enthralled by magic, wizards, quests, and fairies as a child (or if you like Harry Potter, as an adult). But the subject matter of the music is more mature and speaks of love and loss, often through metaphor.

You can hear that Natasha has a great voice off of her album. But when you see her live, you realize that she really does have an amazing set of pipes. As you watch her perform, she goes from "the girl who sounds a bit like Bjork" to an artist in her own right. The band also uses an array of instruments, including bells, violins, guitars, some strange squeeze box thing, some string instrument on a table, yeah, I don't even know. They also use a few large drums and an array of different percussion instruments, including clapping for cadence. During "Sarah" Natasha uses a huge staff looking thing which she bangs on the stage for percussion. Which totally turned me on. The end result is an interesting digital, traditional, and down-right tribal sound.

They're playing in LA tonight. If any of you can catch them, it's totally worth it! Thanks for a great show girls!

Here are their youtube videos. I also threw a few more in my music playlist over there. I like the nod to Donnie Darko on "What's a Girl To Do."


Prescilla


Photo from Three Pink Monkeys on Flickr.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

New Fave Search Terms

Someone happened upon this blog by searching on Google with the following three search terms:

hamster dating România

Have I mentioned how "Gere" is a Romanian last name on here?* Because if not, I don't know how he ended up here. Or WTF this person was looking for.


*I do not believe Gere is actually a Romanian last name, but it rhymes with Beer which makes me think it might be German

Monday, July 23, 2007

Un événement belge

Yves Leterme, the man chosen by King Albert to be the future prime minister and to form a new government did not make any francophone friends over the weekend. Leterme, though having a french speaking father, previously made himself unpopular with the wallons when he once said that french speaking Belgians did not have the necessary "intellectual state" to learn Flemish.

During their national holiday on July 21, Leterme when quizzed by a journalist, mistakenly thought that the holiday was the anniversary of the Belgian Constitution. Which it is not.

When asked to sign the national hymn of Belgium, which is a song entitled the "
Brabançonne," he started singing the "Marseillaise," the French national anthem.


Coverage of RTBF

Friday, July 20, 2007

I Am Not Ready for the "BIG ONE" or Maybe I Shouldn't Sleep Naked

San Francisco is best known for having several characteristics.

  • It is incredibly liberal
  • We have a lot of homeless people
  • We live in an active seismic area that geologists technically refer to as "Holy Fucking Shit."
Well last night a 4.2 of the latter gave me quite a jolt come 4:40 a.m. My new roommate, who recently located from Maryland and was understandably freaked out by the movement of the earth, knocked on my door and came in to my room to find me in my closet frantically trying to pull on pants in the dark.

Now I was born in California. I grew up in a different, but equally active, seismic area of California. In school, we would have "earthquake drills," which involved us diving under desks at the sound of an alarm, and then lining up to go outside. I was taught to hide under door ways, and to stock supplies for when the big one hits. We were supposed to keep several gallons of water, a radio, some batteries...maybe some magazines...a Walkman...I don't remember the rest, but you know, supplies. Oh canned food. Right canned food. Scratch the magazines.

So I should know better. While I've since heard that it's better to get next to desks, tables, beds, etc. rather than get under them, I still should know better. But my first thought was, "RUN MOTHERFUCKER." But I don't want to run outside naked! So I'd better put some pants on. In the dark. I don't think I would have made it if that was a big one. If that was the big one, I think they would have found me, crushed under 3 floors of rubble with my pants around my ankles. Perhaps an appropriate way for me to go, but no less disturbing.

I think I might grab a couple of jugs of Arrowhead on the way home today. And some pants with an elastic waist to keep in my nightstand.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Big Sweaty Apple

I just took a 10 day hiatus to go hang out with the gf in the NYC. When I was there in the winter, I just about froze the boys off. This time around I actually sweated in places that I didn't know I had sweat glands. NYC, unlike SF, definitely has seasons.

Once again, I must sing the praises of New York City. So many things to do and places to go, it's mind boggling. Visited the Whitney for the first time, and went to MOMA on a free friday, which actually was a lot less crowded than I anticipated. The girlfriend had to work some while I was there, so I was also afforded a lot of time to wander around, or as the french would say, se flâner.

I also managed to catch a couple films, partially to escape the heat in the frigid AC of the theatre. First, I saw Ghosts of Cite Soleil, which was really well-done documentary about the Chimères of Haiti. The flow of the film was a bit confused at times, but I think that went well with the lawlessness and chaos that these people live in.

Then, the 12 year-old in me forced me to watch Transformers. Although part of me was insulted that Bumble Bee had gone from the VW bug he was in the old cartoon to a Camaro (a bumble bee is a bug...Camaro just doesn't make any sense), and the product placement was pretty brash and obvious (a mountain dew vending machine turns into a robot at one point), I have to say that my 12 year-old was very pleased. Especially the fact that Optimus Prime has the same voice.

Here are some pics from NYC. Bonus points if you can guess where they are.

Friday, June 29, 2007

SCOTUS Changes Mind, Will Hear Gitmo Detainee Case After All

In a surprising and rare move, the SCOTUS ended their last week (which was not absent of doosies handing down significant decisions on both the death penalty and affirmative action), with a doosie. The Court, which had previously refused to grant cert in the Gitmo detainee habeas cases in April (previous post), today changed course and decided to grant cert.

CERTIORARI GRANTED
06-1195 ) BOUMEDIENE, LAKHDAR, ET AL. V. BUSH PRESIDENT OF U.S., ET AL. ) 06-1196 ) AL ODAH, KHALED A. F., ET AL. V UNITED STATES, ET AL. The petitions for rehearing are granted. The orders entered April 2, 2007, denying the petitions for writs of certiorari are vacated. The petitions for writs of certiorari are granted. The cases are consolidated and a total of one hour is allotted for oral argument. As it would be of material assistance to consult any decision in Bismullah, et al., v. Gates, No. 06-1197, and Parhat, et al., v. Gates, No. 06-1397,
currently pending in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, supplemental briefing will be scheduled upon the issuance of any decision in those cases.
One news article guesses that it was one particular affidavit filed last week that made the difference.
An Army reserve officer and lawyer who played a key role in the enemy combatant hearings at Guantanamo Bay says tribunal members relied on vague and incomplete intelligence while being pressured to rule against detainees, often without any specific evidence. The officer's affidavit, submitted to the Supreme Court last Friday, is the first criticism by a member of the military panels that determine whether detainees will continue to be held.
From Yahoo News.
If this is the information that changed their minds (meaning Kennedy and Stevens), there might still be hope. But it's going to be a while. I'm sure this comes as only mild reassurance to those detainees who have been at Gitmo for over five years now.

UPDATE

I just learned over at Abovethelaw that this is the first time in SIXTY YEARS that they've changed their mind on granting cert. Wow.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Bong Hits 4 Jesus: Part "Dude!"

In a 5-4 decision handed down yesterday, the Supreme Court reversed a Ninth Circuit decision and held that the school board did not offend the First Amendment when it disciplined a student who held up a sign that read "BONG HiTS 4 Jesus" at a "school outing" when the class was outside watching the Olympic torch go by.

Now as a practical matter, it is a pretty stupid thing to do and I don't think disciplining the student for being a jackass is a bad idea. But if you read why the board disciplined him, and more importantly, why the SCOTUS upholds the school board's decision is more than a little disturbing.

While the court admitted the message was "cryptic," it went on to conclude that the sign "advocated the use of illegal drugs," and that thus the school could thus restrict the student's speech consistent with the First Amendment.

But pay close attention to how the Court concludes that the sign promotes and advocates illegal drug use. Here is the key paragraph.

At least two interpretations of the words on the banner demonstrate that the sign advocated the use of illegal drugs. First, the phrase could be interpreted as an imperative: “[Take] bong hits . . .”—a message equivalent, as Morse explained in her declaration, to “smoke marijuana” or “use an illegal drug.” Alternatively, the phrase could be viewed as celebrating drug use—“bong hits [are a good thing],” or “[we take] bong hits”—and we discern no meaningful distinction between celebrating illegal drug use in the midst of fellow students and outright advocacy or promotion.
So the phrase could be interpreted as an "imperative" when the court inserts the correct verb and appropriate conjugation in front of the what the sign actually says "[Take] bong hits..." or it could be "celebrating" drug use when the Court inserts pretty much ALL of the necessary language for that interpretation "bong hits [are a good thing]."

I'm sorry, but that's fucking crazy. Here, I can play that too. How about "bong hits [are totally bogus]." See? It's actually promoting a drug-free America, Judge Roberts! Or maybe the sign read "[All students have to pray ] 4 Jesus!" Now we have an establishment clause violation! This is fun. Feel free to come up with your own meaning!

If there's anything that can be called "judicial activism," it includes adding operative language to the speech in question so that it can be placed outside of the full scope of protection of the First Amendment.

Previous post on the oral argument, Bong Stinks for Jesus: collateral tokage.

Better written article at the Washingtonpost.com, from whence I also stole the picture.

Full SCOTUS opinion

Sunday, June 24, 2007

F*ck Your Gender

The Gay Pride Parade and associated festivities are a special time here in San Francisco. The only similar situation I can imagine is perhaps Easter in Vatican City, or or maybe Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. While SF is known for having a large gay population, for one weekend a year it becomes gay ground zero: or man mecca: or something like that. I like to go and enjoy the festivities and show my support. And pick up some lube and other party favors.

I noticed this year that Pride Weekend has become increasingly corporate; or perhaps more accurately, there is now a larger corporate presence at the fair. I saw booths for Yahoo (see above), Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and many others. At first I was a little taken aback (is nothing sacred!!), but as a friend pointed out, this is actually a good sign. First, it shows that the gay community is being increasingly embraced, or at least sought after as potential consumers and clients. This should really be no surprise as I've seen several surveys that indicated that the average income of gays is generally higher than that of the equivalent heterosexual individual. Banks aren't really being purely altruistic here, surprise surprise.

Second, it's moving away from the stereotype that all this is only about (promiscuous) sex. Which, while there is an element of that, no more than would be expected at an event that is based on sexual orientation. It is definitely a place to meet people, but that's not the main focus or the whole point.

It was fun. You can see all of the pics on flickr, but here are some of my faves.

Personal favorite, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

Don't forget to share your Altoids with the man meat next to you!

Longest 2.5 miles EVER!

These amazing samba dancers were apparently from the Department of Health. I might have to drop my health insurance and drop by. That one girl goes to my gym.


That is my old law school in the background. And on Sunday it became the right bank of Leather Alley. Awesome!


Favorite party favor. This was given to me by a man who poked me in the nipple with it. On the bottom is a public service announcement to get tested for syphilis. I felt a little weird being singled out for this. But he's smiling, so that's a good sign.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Nebraska Judge Disallows Use of Word "Rape"

A Nebraska judge bans the word rape from his courtroom
By Dahlia Lithwick
Posted Wednesday, June 20, 2007, at 7:27 PM ET

[Redacted for boringness]
Yet a Nebraska district judge, Jeffre Cheuvront, suddenly finds himself in a war of words with attorneys on both sides of a sexual assault trial. More worrisome, he appears to be at war with language itself, and his paradoxical answer is to ban it: Last fall, Cheuvront granted a motion by defense attorneys barring the use of the words rape, sexual assault, victim, assailant, and sexual assault kit from the trial of Pamir Safi—accused of raping Tory Bowen in October 2004.

Full Article from Slate.

When I first read this headline, I got angry at the idea of another backwards southern state trying to turn back the clock on women's rights, or as I like to call it the "Shush up honey, and get me another mint julep" style of jurisprudence. But as it turns out, this is actually a rape case and now I'm a little torn on the issue myself.

Rape, as it is being used here in the court room, is a criminal offense that only legally exists when all of the elements of the crime are met. So anytime someone uses it, it is a legal conclusion. It would be the same as allowing the prosecution or a witness to refer to a person accused of embezzling as an "embezzler who was embezzling." You can testify that he had forcible intercourse or that he used violence or anything to describe the situation, you just can't say what it is up to the jury to decide. Whether it was "rape." If everyone is allowed to describe the conduct as "rape" during the trial then it would make sense that the jury would agree.

But to exclude the word at all (as I imagine this was a motion in limine, at the beginning of trial) seems excessive. I'm sure that the victim of a mugging would testify that he was "mugged" or that he was "robbed," even though the latter would qualify as a legal conclusions as well. Of course the victim thinks a crime was committed. I think an instruction or admonishion to the jury before hand would have been sufficient. Something to the effect of "any time someone uses the word rape, you should disregard the use of the word as evidence that the crime was actually committed."

I wonder how this works most of the time. This is too heavy for a friday.