Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I'm a Bad Kinda Boss

Today was Administrative Assistants Day, and I didn't do anything for anyone. Here was my ego-centric and incredibly insensitive justification dilemma.

We are an incredibly understaffed office. I don't have a secretary. All of (around 8 attorneys) share 1 1/2 secretaries. The 1/2 secretary is not "special" or anything, she is just a part-timer with an inconsistent schedule. The full secretary is an old big bear of a gay man who is so close to retirement, read immune from firing, that he doesn't really give a shit anymore and doesn't try very hard. You have to double-check his work so much that it is usually easier/quicker for me to just do the shit on my own. The 1/2, as contrast, is very detail oriented and competent and I would actually trust her more than me.

Then we have this one woman who kind of keeps all of the files together. And sometimes she will make you copies if you ask her nicely.

Then we have three paralegals. Oh and the receptionist.

So who is the "administrative assistant?" The receptionist? The 1 1/2 secretaries? Everyone? I feel like I should get somebody something and the apologize for "forgetting to give it" to them. I don't want to just hand out Pete's gift cards. But does that mean I have to get personalized gifts for seven people?

Not to totally pass the buck, but I did think it was kind of shitty that none of the partners did anything given the fact that we all use the same secretary. I mean no flowers, no candy, no new ergonomic chair? Nothing? This would have been cool.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Sunday in the Park

My roommate, a friend of mine from law school, decided to move in with her boyfriend so I had to decide whether to move somewhere else myself, or stay here and find a roommate. Neither option sounded very appealing. But, one thing I like about our current location is how close it is to Golden Gate Park. Every Sunday (well..almost every Sunday) I run from our apartment, through the park, to the ocean, run along the beach a bit, and then head back. Doing my daily commute every day, I often forget how pretty this city can be, and how we are in fact, right along the ocean. Every time I do this run I am reminded what a great city this is. Most of the time. As you look at the pictures below, try and find the homeless man. It'll be like "Where's Waldo." Anyway, I thought I would take you along.

After about 1/4 mile I come upon the new De Young Museum. Locals fall into two camps. Those who believe the museum is an incredibly progressive piece of architecture and those who believe it looks like a thinly-disguised aircraft carrier and that it's an eyesore in a beautiful park. The outside of the museum is made of copper, so as it ages, it will actually start turning green and blend in a bit more with the background.

The botanical garden is across the street. After dodging bus loads of tourists, I manage to find some lesser known paths and distance myself from the museum.
There are just tons of little surprises along the way to keep it interesting. Every time I go, I see something new. This mangled tree is just an odd sight.

You can actually feel the micro climates change around you. You go from the open and developed areas of the museum and the environs, to sort of arid parts with large meadows, to areas that could be out of the Lord of the Rings.
And finally, at the end of the park, you hit the Pacific.

These guys make me nervous. They ride in these things that look like big wheels, and use giant kites to pull them along the beach. But sometimes the kites come crashing down. I just hope I'm never under one when it happens.

Sandpipers having brunch
That's a lot of birds.
My attempt at an artsy shot

Crazy windmill at the end of the park, right on the ocean. You can see Sutro Tower in the background. It must be a clear day.
Nice pretty small kite that doesn't worry me.

Ok, back into the park.

Calla Lilies abound.
Not sure which one, but some cute little man-made lake in the park. At Stowe lake you can rent paddle boats and get ice cream. Someone must have planted these in the tree trunk, right? Could that happen naturally?
This is what originally gave me the idea to take my camera along one of these days. I think it looks like a wave from one of those old Japanese paintings. But it's completely natural, made of undergrowth. But doesn't it look like a wave just waiting to crash on an unsuspecting park-goer?

Finally getting back to civilization. Not far from the De Young Museum, is the Japanese Tea Garden.
Round-trip this is about 7 miles. Boy do I need a shower .

Friday, April 20, 2007

I am totally sending this to US News and World Report

I wonder if they have a “terrorist threat level” as a part of the ranking criteria

From SFGate

UC Berkeley law student made threat against Hastings, officials say

Friday, April 20, 2007

(04-20) 07:56 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- The person whose threats of violence shuttered Hastings College of the Law on Wednesday was a student at UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law, according to officials at both schools.

Investigators determined the threat to be a hoax, Boalt Hall Dean Christopher Edley said in a letter sent Thursday to Hastings Dean Nell Newton.

The FBI and San Francisco Police Department determined that the suspect "does not pose a risk to others," Edley wrote, and continue to "investigate whether criminal charges are appropriate."

Regardless of the criminal investigation, Edley said, the school will consider disciplinary proceedings against the student.

The letter was forwarded to Hastings students, faculty and staff, accompanied by a note from Newton assuring the campus that the incident is believed to be over.

Hastings, located in downtown San Francisco, was evacuated and shut down Wednesday afternoon after a "copycat" threat of violence was posted on an Internet discussion board, school officials said.

The threat was posted on a law school admissions discussion board,, according an e-mail sent to the Web site's users by founder Jarret Cohen.

The message was headed, "Just decided not to do a murder-suicide copycat at Hastings Law" and was authored by a user called "Trustafarian," who went on to write, "I went to bed all set for 'Bloody Wednesday,' but when I woke -- to sun, to flowers in bloom -- I just couldn't bring myself to suit up. Maybe tomorrow; I hear rain's in the forecast."

The threat was reminiscent of Monday's massacre at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., which left 33 people dead, including the shooter, a student.

Hastings officials closed the law school Wednesday after being made aware of the threat and increased security in the wake of the incident, according to Newton. The heightened security will remain in effect through the end of the school year, she wrote in the e-mail to students.

In Edley's e-mail to Newton, he expressed his "deep regret and sympathy," to the Hastings community for "the anxiety and upset," created by the posting.

"Coming on the heels of the tragedy at Virginia Tech, the posting was in my judgment at the very best an astounding instance of immaturity, terrible judgment, and reckless disregard for the welfare of others," he wrote. "Quickly on the heels of (the criminal investigation) and regardless of its outcome, we at Boalt will consider what disciplinary proceedings might be appropriate. Of course, we are also consulting with mental health professionals."

In his note, written "on behalf of AutoAdmit," Cohen said that he had put the FBI in contact with the person allegedly responsible for making the threat. He asked for ideas from users for how to deal with similar situations in the future.

"Please understand that I run this place the way I do because I belive you deserve the chance to express yourselves openly and freely. But please, don't be stupid," he wrote.

E-mail Marisa Lagos at

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Update: SCOTUS Upholds Partial Birth Abortion Ban

After reading this opinion a little closer, I still don't understand how they can think this squares with Casey. From a practical standpoint, I don't think this has as much of an effect on women as it does on doctors.

The law was challenged on "void for vagueness" grounds. The respondents agreed that it covered intact D&E abortions, but that it's additional reach was unclear. The Court disagreed, finding in part:

Second, the Act’s definition of partial-birth abortion requires the fetus to be delivered “until, in the case of a head-first presentation, the entire fetal head is outside the body of the mother, or, in the case of breech presentation, any part of the fetal trunk past the navel is outside the body of the mother.” §1531(b)(1)(A) (2000 ed., Supp. IV). The Attorney General concedes, and we agree, that if an abortion procedure does not involve the delivery of a living fetus to one of these “anatomical ‘landmarks’ ”—where, depending on the presentation, either the fetal head or the fetal trunk past the navel is outside the body of the mother—the prohibitions of the Act do not apply. Brief for Petitioner in No. 05–380, p. 46.
I don't think this is remarkably clear. The Act only applies if any part of the fetal trunk past the navel is outside of the body of the mother. This raises a few problems. It seems that whether or not this Act will apply has little to do with either the doctor's or the mother's intentions. I'm not a doctor, but I'm going to guess that how quickly or how far the fetus is delivered is not able to be discerned with any degree of certainty beforehand nor reliably controlled. So whether or not this Act applies is going to depend on a lot of unknowns and pure chance. While there is an intent element to this Act, I'm sure that if and when doctor's are prosecuted for this, the DA is going to try and infer intent when there was in fact an intact D&A performed, and charge for the full crime anyway. For the SCOTUS to say the Act is not applicable without intent does NOT mean that a DA can't charge it and try to prove it.

Second, the Court does not require a health exception because the evidence is inconclusive as to whether or not an intact D&E is ever medically necessary for the life of the mother. As a practical matter, I don't understand why the Court would conclude that the prohibition of a procedure that at least might be medically necessary is constitutional where the evidence is equivocal. If we're dealing a supposed "constitutional right' such that its regulation is subject to heightened scrutiny, I would think that the government would need to establish by some degree of certainty (narrowly tailored? rational basis even) that this procedure was never medically necessary. At least more than "inconclusive."

And file this quote under "paternalistic"

Respect for human life finds an ultimate expression in
the bond of love the mother has for her child. The Act
recognizes this reality as well.

Really? I thought this was a criminal staute

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

SCOTUS Upholds Ban on Partial Birth Abortion 5-4

Oh Sandy, we miss you. I'm in shock over this (article). Why do our federal lawmakers spend so much time on this? From my understanding this procedure is fairly rare and only used in extreme cases as it is. While grotesque, I don't think obstetricians use this procedure because they get some sort of sense of satisfaction out of it. You know, adults are being slaughtered in Iraq right now, assholes. Why are you so intent on telling doctors how to do their jobs?

This sends the message that stare decisis means nothing and that if you tweak the law a bit and shuffle the Court, any constitutional right is really up for grabs. I can't find the actual opinion yet, but I intend on reading it.

Never mind: Here it is.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Lost in Defecation

Toilet maker recalls hot seat
April 17, 2007

TOKYO–Japan's leading toilet maker, Toto Ltd., says it is offering free repairs for 180,000 bidet-toilets after wiring problems caused several to catch fire.

Full article from Toronto Star here.

Wow, I guess I'll have to add another blessing to my list. I may not have a "
pulsating massage spray" on my can, but at least my ass isn't on fire.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The "A" Must Stand for Ambivalence

In most areas, the current administration has pushed the envelope when it comes to the power of the executive. They have claimed that the president has the authority to arrest and detain American citizens he deems as "enemy combatants" indefinitely. They have argued that it could authorize the torture of detainees , and then seems it did just that in secret prisons abroad. They denied detainees in Guantanamo the right to habeas corpus and stripped them of the protections provided by the (congressionally ratified) Geneva Conventions. They argued that despite FISA, the NSA had the right to decide who and when to wire tap without the oversight provided by the FISA court. The Bush administration and the executive branch he heads have been nothing if not consistent. He is, at the end of the day, the decider.

So how about the Environmental Protection Agency? The government organization created to protect and preserve the environment? Perhaps it would pursue its mission statement as zealously as its executive branch cousins.

No such luck.

When a group of states and private organizations petitioned the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases, the EPA responded (contrary to the opinion of the two previous General Counsels) that it was not authorized under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases, and that even if it were, any such regulation would not be a prudent course of action. This led to a court challenge, and finally the SCOTUS opinion issued earlier this month in Massachusetts v. EPA, in which the Court held that the EPA does have the statutory authority to regulate greenhouse gases and that if it declines to do so, it must provide a suitable reason grounded in the language of the Clean Air Act itself.

You don't even have to be a lawyer to be outraged at this. The "Environmental Protection Agency" was arguing that it did not have the power to regulate polluting gases being released into the air under a statute called the "Clean Air Act?" Fer fuck's sake. If you can't do this, what the hell ARE you authorized to do?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Go Ask the Twins Mutha F*cker

I'm on a roll....

Suckin' on a lollypop

I believe this was the beginning of my "thing" for Puerto Rican girls from Queens.


Check out these peep dioramas from the Washington Post. I think my favorite would have to be the one fashioned after the show "To Catch a Predator." (Pic number 20). I can't articulate why, but I feel like a peep diorama depicting a scene from a show in which they trap pedophiles on live tv is somehow indicative of our times.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Awe yeah, So Fresh

This might date me, but I saw this today, and it just took me back to middle school/high school dances and crushes. Although I remember thinking at the time that Heavy D's wardrobe person should be slapped because he should not be wearing that big bulky rain gear. When he's in the black rain gear moving in front of his dancers who are all dressed in yellow, it looks like an extremely frantic eclipse of the sun. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Srebrenica Update

Today, a Serbian Court sentenced four former Serb (para)military members who appeared in a film in which they executed six Muslim men. These members of the famed "Scorpions" who apparently were not sufficiently connected with the State for liability to attach to Serbia, were convicted of up to 20 years. One member, received 5 years, though he wasn't actually filmed during the killing, he could be heard on the tape before the prisoners are bussed out of town and shot.

Human Rights Activists and the victims' family's were disappointed with the judgment which also found insufficient evidence that the tape had anything to do with"Srebrenica" and avoided the word "genocide."

NYT Article

Monday, April 09, 2007

Redaction Tape Is Mightier Than the Pen

In a NYT article today, it was reported that the International Court of Justice did not have full access to documents that were produced by Serbia in the criminal trial of Slobodan Milosevic at the International Criminal Tribunal fo the Former Yugoslavia. While the lawyers and judges involved in Milosevic's trial had full access, Serbia had only produced them on the condition that designated portions not become part of the public record.

These documents included minutes of military and political meetings during the Yugoslav conflict. While the ICJ had some access, Serbia had gone through the produced documents and redacted and/or censored portions that were "sensitive to national security." Some have posited, that if the ICJ would have had full access, then they would have been more likely to find Serbia liable for genocide as the documents showed that official Serbian authorities were directly involved in the planning and execution of the massacre at Srebrenica.

On the one hand, but for the confidentiality agreement, it is unlikely that Serbia would have turned any of those documents over at all, or at least would have put up a bigger fight than it did when it produced them to the ICTY. But at the same time, allowing a state to redact information that might implicate it had committed genocide from the public record just disgusts me. This reminds me of a horrible extension of the argument about the Proposed Rule of Evidence 502 (selective waiver).

I don't know who decided this was a good decision, but I bet if you had asked the families of Bosnian Muslims, they would have preferred to hear that the entire state of Serbia itself had committed genocide and receive damages or monetary satisfaction from Serbia rather than seeing only Slobo go to the pokey for life.

Previous post on ICJ Decision re: Serbia and Genocide

Saturday, April 07, 2007


This kind of flew under the radar. Although nowhere near the size or intensity of the riots in Paris in 2005, on March 27, the gare du nord became assez chaud when a man without a ticket was contrôlé, and a full scale riot ensued. Given the disenchantment of the suburban youth, it is not surprising that this would happen at this station which connects the RER with the Metro and would be a major stop for those coming in from le neuf-trois. I'm trying to avoid the word racaille, but can't. Apparently, this riot is now becoming an issue between presidential candidates Nicolas Sarkozy and Ségolène Royal. Something needs to be done, before Le Pen capitalizes on the fear this will cause.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Be forewarned, this is painful to watch. This is somewhere between watching an episode of "The Office" where you have the urge to turn away when Michael tries to sound profound, and an episode of "Animal Cops: Miami" where they find a dozen cute puppies being neglected and it makes you angry at human beings in general.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Supreme Court Denies Petition for Cert in Guantanamo Bay Cases


In a 6-3 vote, the Supremes refused to hear the challenges of several Guantanamo Bay detainees to their continued detention. In a somewhat restrained statement, Stevens and Kennedy acknowledged the "obvious importance of the issues raised," but found that the petitioners must exhaust their remedies before the Court would be willing to hear the case, or at least experience or assert some additional delay or "some other ongoing injury"(whatever that means). The Court emphasized that the denial of cert was not a judgment on the merits, which I'm sure is cold comfort to the detainees.

Breyer, Souter, and Ginsburg dissent in no uncertain terms. As Breyer puts it,

...[P]etitioners have been held for more than five years. They have not obtained judicial review of their habeas claims. If petitioners are right about the law, immediate review may avoid an additional year or more of imprisonment. If they are wrong,our review is nevertheless appropriate to help establish the boundaries of the constitutional provision for the writ of habeas corpus.

It is unreasonable to suggest that the D. C. Circuit in future proceedings under the DTA will provide review that affords petitioners the rights that the Circuit has already concluded they do not have.
I'd have to give it to the dissenters as for persuasiveness. Unfortunately for the detainees, it was not a writing contest.

Denial of Cert