Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dear Israel,

Please stop the bombing. I'm going to ignore the areas complex history for the moment (though it should be noted that Israel took control of it after the 1967 six day war until they left three years ago) and just concentrate on the current situation. Massive air strikes against an impoverished nation is in no one's interest, least of all your own. Remember when you did this to Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon? Remember how that turned out?

I understand the frustration with the rockets. I do. But bombing targets that will inevitably kill civilians in an area that you yourselves have kept in poor supply of medical supplies because of economic sanctions is counterproductive.

Hamas was elected because the Palestinians in Gaza were angry. Depriving them of material goods has only angered them and emboldened them more. Hamas becomes stronger the more you use violence against Gaza. It reminds me of the fishermen who used to cut starfish in half in an effort to get rid of them.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Tired, Poor, Huddled Masses Staying Home

Immigration, both the legal and illegal kind, is way down it seems. According to the Economist, in "the year to September 2008 724,000 fewer people were caught trying to cross into America from Mexico, the lowest annual tally since the 1970s."

Now this really either means that we have gotten really bad at catching people crossing the border or that less people are attempting the dangerous affair. Given that enforcement is supposedly up, it seems that the latter is the more likely explanation. According to the same article, "Border cops have naturally claimed credit for the drop. But the heavy hand of the law is probably much less of a deterrent than the invisible hand of the market."

Simply put, now that there is less demand for labor here in the U.S., especially in the construction industry (because our economy is in the toilet), the supply is increasingly deciding to stay home.

So next time we have an influx of illegal immigrants, before we build a fence, maybe we should remember to count our blessings, because the willingness of foreign workers to cross the border is also evidence that our economy is booming (at least relatively).

In a somewhat counter intuitive way, as the article points out, immigration reform might now be more difficult, despite the drop in number of illegal immigrants. Despite the fact that minute men might not have as much to crow about given these new statistics, it is the slackening labor market that might put a wrench in the works, as it will be tough to convince conservatives that more immigrants should be allowed in the country when the U.S. has an economy in recession and a rising unemployment rate.

In any event, I think it is amazing how quickly we have forgotten. It was only 2006 when Americans rated immigration as the nation’s second-most-important problem after the Iraq war. Now it's barely on the radar at all.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sean Hannity-Douche of the Year

Media Matters, a self-proclaimed liberal institution that watches the tv, radio, and other media for conservative misinformation, proclaimed Sean Hannity as "Misinformer of the Year."

I don't particularly like pundits either way. While the Fox news people enrage me, some of the "liberal" ones also irk me, not so much because of the content, as because of the condescending nature of the tone.

And none of the talking heads add to the conversation because, as they are biased at the outset, the "result" of their "analysis" is a foregone conclusion. They all also flaunt survivorship bias , and keep unwary viewers captivated with their amazing post hoc ergo propter hoc conclusions which really does nothing but confuse and does not promote the dissemination of real information, IMHO.

Actually, if you read this article about Mr. Hannity, though, he takes distortion to another level and definitely has earned this award. Congratulations!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Like a Blogrolling Stone

Dear Blogrolling,

You were my first. And up until recently, my only, well...blog roll. You were there when I wanted to reciprocate when people linked to me. You were there when I wanted to post links that I like and that I thought other people might like.

That seems so long ago now. I just don't feel like I know you anymore.

I mean, communication was never our big thing, but you never talk to me anymore.

I had made some new friends on teh internets. But you wouldn't let me link to them. Did you feel threatened? Insecure? And I couldn't get myself out of old dysfunctional relationships or broken links.

I guess what I'm saying, is...this just isn't going to work out. I've found someone new.

See, blogger came out with a blog list. And it works just great. It gives me the space I need, and updates me when important things are going on. You were never there for me.

I know I wasn't much, but you couldn't even seem to handle what we had. I wish you luck on your future endeavors. I really do. And I hope you find someone with more patience than I.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Throw a shoe at double u

Well it took the internets about 30 seconds to come up with this game:


At first I was a little shocked, but them I remembered that there have been those irritating flash games where you get to punch bush 4 times to win an ipod or something that have been around for years.

This is pretty funny though. Good find Dianne!

Monday, December 15, 2008

I think W's best attribute is his reflexes

When I first saw a headline involving an angry Iraqi and a shoe, I thought it involved someone paying homage to Khruschev's tantrum incident at the UN.

But no. This reporter actually took his shoes off and threw them at Bush. He had decent aim, but Bush was just too quick.

Unsurprisingly, he was not given a high five and allowed to leave the building in his socks. A bit more surprising, but not totally shocking, the shoe hurler is now a pan middle eastern hero. From Jordan to Palestine, most look at the journalist with a nasty slider to be a brave man.

I have some mixed feelings about this. First, this is not the first time W has had stuff thrown at him. Second, though this is by definition a violent act, it is pretty tame compared to what most normal Iraqis might encounter during their daily routines, and is probably as close to "non-violent" protest as Iraq has ever seen. In any event, the purpose (notwithstanding the velocity of the left one), I think, was symbolic, as in Arab culture, showing the soles of your feet to someone is an insult. And, as here at home, Bush just doesn't speak with people who don't agree with him, so maybe a little reality check is a good thing.

On the other hand, like him or not, I don't like people throwing hard objects at the President, because if you hit him, it will cause a major shit storm here at home.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Vitamins Are Bad For You and Cancer Just "Goes Away"

The New York Times has had a few health related articles over the past few weeks that made me want to throw up my arms and exclaim, "Well fuck it all then."

The first was an article entitled "News Keeps Getting Worse for Vitamins." As you can probably imagine, the article basically says that studies have shown that vitamins don't really do squat for you. This quote was the real brick to the head for me:

And recently, doctors at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York warned that vitamin C seems to protect not just healthy cells but cancer cells, too.
I take a multi vitamin everyday as well as quite a few other supplements (Omega 3 oils, grape see extract, etc.). I don't take the daily recommended dose of my multivitamin (6 pills a day, for fuck sake) because I just don't think I really need 3,000% of my RDA of vitamin B6. I mean, not only is it a waste of money because you probably just pee it out anyway, but I have to imagine that's got to be rough on your body to digest that. Your body is not made to ingest 3,000% of a vitamin. There is no food source in nature that I know of that would have that much vitamin B6. It's not like there's a "B6 bird" out there somewhere that humans have been killing and eating for millennia.

But still. Vitamin C has been billed to be this great killer of cancer-causing free radicals. And now it turns out it could actually protect cancerous cells? Well fuck it all then.

Better yet, this NYT article suggests that some cancers will just "go away."

I give up.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Proposition 8: Reaction to the Reaction

This was originally going to be a comment on my own post below, but it just got to be too long.

First, thanks to Brittney Gilbert, who linked to this post (I now know who Gary was referring too).

Second, thanks to all of those who contributed below. Your thoughts are always welcome on here, no matter how much I agree or disagree.

Some final thoughts.

1.It probably is unfair to target only Mormons, as there were several groups, religious and otherwise, who supported prop 8.

That said, I do think it is fair to hold them to account for supporting it (and any other group). The church leadership entered into the fray knowingly, and mobilized their followers both in and out of California (There are A LOT of pro-pro 8 donations from Utah. A LOT. You can look it up) to support this legislation. Holding the church accountable for taking a position on a political issue is not "discrimination." I would also argue that the organizational hierarchy of the Mormon church really does not have equal in any other religion, so that its position is unique. I mean, as much as the Catholic Bishops also supported Prop 8, my gay catholic coworker did not follow in lockstep.

2. I am myself not a member of the gay community (I live with my beautiful girlfriend), so I do not pretend to speak for them. I am nevertheless an opponent of prejudice and I thus consider the passage of Prop 8 a defeat.

3. Many of you have found a religion in which you find strength and truth. That's great. I fully support organized religion. What I do not like, however, is when the church (temple/synagogue/whathaveyou)1) imposes its values on people who do not share their values 2) through the laws of the state.

You and your chruch always could keep your definition of "marriage," as backwards as I think it is. Prop 8 had nothing to do with forcing your faith to accept same-sex marriages. It had to do with the state. And under the laws of the state, specifically the Equal Protection clause of the CA constitution, this definitively is a civil rights issue, whether you care to frame it that way or not because it involves extending a privilege of the state to some, but denying it to others based solely on their sexual orientation.

This is not just about the voters passing an initiative anymore than Brown v. Board of Education was just about the drawing of school districts. This is about the state discriminating based on sexual orientation.

4. Domestic Partnerships were a big step forward, no question, but they are not the equivalent of marriage. The Supreme Court noted 9 differences in its opinion last spring. Moreover, it requires a completely different (and more taxing) process than regular marriage. "Separate but kind-of-mostly equivalent" should not pass muster under our secular state constitution when it is based only on prejudice against a historically (and currently, apparently) ostracized group.

5. I find it interesting that nobody has tried to defend the ads that the Yes campaign put out there. And this was what my original post was supposed to be about. I always knew the religious and social conservatives were going to vote for this. What I didn't appreciate though, is that the ads were trying to spark Pavlovian knee-jerk reactions among those who were undecided based on hyperbolic exaggerations with no basis in law or fact. No church was going to lose its tax exempt status, and same-sex marriage was not going to be "taught" in schools (I still don't know what that means) anymore than regular marriage is "taught" in schools now (maybe I was just absent that day).

If anything, however, the passage of Prop 8, has sparked something. I will no longer be only a passive participant in this struggle. I will no longer just put up stickers, give $ to a campaign, and write on a blog that no one reads. I hereby vow to take an active role in getting the H8 out of our constitution, one way or another.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Reflections on an Election, or "Woohoo!!! dot dot dot Oh Crap, Are You Serious?"

I thought this would be the perfect week. Obama would be elected president, Prop 8 would fail, and Cal would pull a stunning upset and beat USC. Mixed results so far.

Watching Obama's speech on Tuesday night made me cry a little bit. I was at a party with a few friends, but coincidently mostly a bunch of strangers. And as the television told us that Obama was our future president, we all looked around in disbelief. Not because we didn't want to believe, as we were all Obama supporters, but because most of us couldn't remember the last time that we had been excited about a presidential election result. I think our brains could not longer connect the "win presidential election" and "happy" neurons because of disuse.

Could this really be happening? Was this real? There wasn't some last minute ad or strange twist of the electoral college that would take the victory away? No? Holy Crap. Hope.

And then the news about prop 8 hit. That took the wind out of my sails.

I am deeply saddened by you, California. I really can't believe that you would vote to affirmatively discriminate against a class of people. Shame on all of you.

But you know what? I don't really think you meant it as an affront to the gay community. I think those Mormon ads for yes on 8 probably scared you. I think you were afraid. And I understand that. I'm mostly upset about the Yes campaign for making you afraid for no good reason. Prop 8 had nothing to do with teaching your kid to kiss another kid of the same gender, or whether or not a church would lose its tax exempt status (they seemed to back off of this one after the first ad). It just didn't.

And it was a very strange dichotomy. Watching the ticker go by on the bottom of the TV screen stating that Prop 8 had passed while above the talking heads of the major networks waxed about how the election of the first African American president was a culmination of a long civil rights struggle was just strange.

For those of us who are part or supporters of the gay community, or just against discrimination generally, the war is not over. Legal challenges have been filed, but more importantly, we were REALLY close to defeating this thing.

Think about it. Until Lawrence v. Texas, it was ok for a state to criminalize homosexual activity. And now here we are talking about legalizing same sex marriage. Things are changing, and they are changing quickly. Not quickly enough for my tastes, but the tide is coming in. We are almost there.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Dear Californians: a final plea against prop 8

I would like to take a moment, and ask you to reflect on why you love California, and why you live here. For me, it's the weather, amazing coastline, great people, crazy characters, majestic mountains, and world-class eateries, in no particular order.

And it is also because there really is no one "California." We aren't like other states. We never have been.

We are a motley crue of wily loony liberals here in San Francisco, and posh conservative label whores in orange county. We are shepherds and ranchers in the eastern sierra, farmers in the central valley, and deadlocked hippies up in the lost coast. We are bankers, lawyers, n'er do wells, authors, actors, and food critics.

And yet somehow we all get along. It's as if, by being born here, you have signed a tacit agreement of "live and let live." Because, if we didn't have that, we would have collapsed a long time ago in a war between surfers, hikers, dirt bike enthusiasts, and snowboarders. If anything, it is our diversity that has kept us strong. Whether it's the shipyards and movie business in southern california, the technology in the Silicon Valley, or whatever it is we do here in San Francisco, we have all taken turns and continue to contribute to what would be the 9th largest economy in the world.

And we lead the nation in trying new shit out, whether it be environmental standards, school vouchers, or ideas of good governance.

So, fellow Californians, I ask of you, is there anything less "Californian" than writing in prejudice to our constitution? Regardless of how you feel about the GLBT community in general, or even same sex marriage in particular, do you really want our constitution to single out a historically discriminated group and specifically deny them the right to sanctify their relationship before the state (not the church, mind you) so that they can just be together like any couple wants to be together?

Think about it. I don't think you do.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Vote "No" on Prop 8 Part IV: Who's Lying? You Are. You're Still Lying

Sorry to be repetitive about being sorry about being repetitive, but bigotry makes me angry.

So since my last post, the "Yes" people dropped a press release entitled "Who's Really Lying" wherein they quoted themselves talking about a lawsuit in Massachusetts where a kid's teacher assigned a book called "King and King" wherein a prince, who is forced to get married by his mother (some things are universal), chooses another prince over a bunch of princesses. The Judeo-Christian parents get upset, because they did not get prior notice or the opportunity to pull their kid out of class. They cite this case as "proof" that same sex marriage will be taught in California Schools.

Let's get a few things straight here.

1. Same sex marriage has been legal in Massachusetts now for over 4 years. And like California, its system is very decentralized: meaning each school district, each school, and even each teacher has a part in choosing the curriculum. Let's say this case actually stands for the assertion for which the Prop 8 proponents say it does. This means that in four and half years since the legalization of gay marriage, there have been two instances (there are actually two families involved, see below, and the Prop 8 people seized on the worst sounding one) where teachers assigned a book to a kid whose parents found it objectionable, so as to actually start a federal case on the matter.

I went into law because I'm bad at math, but that doesn't sound that bad to me. When I was in high school, teachers were getting into problems for assigning all kinds of books that some parents found objectionable. And for any teachers out there, I'm sure this seems sort of silly.

2. The case the Prop 8 proponents are talking about is called Parker v. Hurley, 514 F.3d 87 (1st Cir. 2008). Some of you might say, "Hey, what is a dispute about school curriculum doing in a federal court of appeals, the court right below the Supreme Court?" Well, the First Circuit agrees with you.

The parents sued on federal constitutional claims (specifically, First Amendment right to free exercise of religion and Fourteenth Amendment's fundamental substantive due process right to "parental autonomy") (the irony of these people, who are so obviously pro-life, trying to assert a substantive due process claim based on the penumbra of the 14th amendment is not lost on me).

The court noted that Massachusetts law allowed for parental notification for some topics (sex ed), but nothing else. I don't want to get into it, but schools have to really really screw up before it becomes a constitutional violation, like actual "indoctrination" against religious beliefs. Which is kind of what the Prop 8 proponents claim is happening. But no one is teaching children to be homosexual or that they have to get married to someone of the same sex. These books were, as mentioned in the case (and why they didn't fall into the "notification" part of the Massachusetts law), part of a broader curriculum of showing diversity, tolerance, and teaching what prejudice is (ironically enough).

So basically, the Court said there's nothing in the U.S. Constitution that prohibits this. I want to say that again, NOTHING IN THE CONSTITUTION. This WAS NOT the court saying that schools must teach children that they should be gay, which is how the Prop 8 people are portraying it. The Court merely said that there is a high burden before a plaintiff parent can establish that a public school is violating their constitutional rights. And this wasn't enough to establish a claim.

3. Interestingly enough, the other plaintiffs in the case were objecting to the inclusion of a book called "Who's in a Family" that was part of a "Diversity Book Bag." The book depicted different families, including single-parent families, an extended family, interracial families, animal families, a family without children, and here's the ringer, a family with two dads and a family with two moms. The book concludes by answering the question in the title: Who's in a family? The people who love you the most!" This is more obviously a part of a diversity curriculum.

4. This was in Massachusetts, a different state, with a different set of standards. And since this press release has come out, the California Teachers Association as well as other state officials have stated that the existence of same sex marriage does not mandate the teaching of same sex marriage in schools. It doesn't mandate so now, and it won't when prop 8 fails.


Thursday, October 09, 2008

Vote "No" on Prop 8 part III: This is just getting silly now

Ok, sorry to be repetitive, but I saw another "yes" on prop 8 ad this morning based on another misrepresentation.

The ad starts with a young girl coming home from school explaining to her mother how she can marry a princess when she grows up. Then some law professor says that "This could happen because, without Proposition8, same sex marriage will be taught in schools." I'm paraphrasing here, but that's the gist.

Basically, they want you to think that because same sex marriage is legal, that public school teachers will now teach your daughter to be a lesbian. The disconnect is already obvious, but let's take a look.

First, let's remember that Proposition 8 is the suggested change to the California Constitution, voting "no" is the status quo. If Proposition 8 doesn't pass, there is no trigger that will suddenly mandate the teaching of gay porn or anything. Everything just stays the same.

Second, Proposition 8 has nothing to do with education code. This is an amendment to the California Constitution, which is another reason not to take this lightly or base your decision on these fear mongering tactics. Nothing will suddenly change the educational code so that somewhere in there it will all of a sudden require teachers to give demonstrations of same sex sex.

Third, Proposition 8 proponents want you to think that because the existing education code mentions "marriage" that somehow now schools will be required to teach homosexuality. To the extent that the existing education code mentions "marriage"at all, it is in the context of what goes into the general curriculum of either sexual health education and HIV prevention or the comprehensive health education program (Sections 51933 and 51890 of the Education Code, respectively).

As all of you know awkwardly know, the curriculum for sex ed varies greatly between school districts. This is because the curriculum for sex ed (which is NOT required by the state) is developed by each school district. The state sets general guidelines, including general topics and when certain topics (like sexually transmitted diseases, and birth control) should be taught, but that's it. Each school district is free to develop a sex ed plan that falls within the general guidelines.

The ONLY time marriage is mentioned in this context is when it says that "Instruction and materials shall teach respect for marriage and committed relationships."(You can get the full subsection here). That's it. Just respect. So if a school district chooses to have sex ed, they are supposed to teach respect for marriage and committed relationships. To the extent that school districts weren't mandated to teach about civil unions between same sex couples before as "committed relationships" they are not not mandated to "teach" same sex marriage now, whatever that means. In a state with a 50% divorce rate, I think this is almost humorous.

The other mention of marriage is under the definition of what should go into a district's "comprehensive health education program," whatever that is. Like sex ed, this plan is developed by the school district under guidelines promulgated by the Department of Education. In this section, "marriage" is mentioned in a list of subjects that should be part of the program; a list that includes other things like "oral health" and "posture." The mention of marriage is thus:

Family health and child development, including the legal and financial aspects and responsibilities of marriage and parenthood.
Full subsection here.

Yup, that's it. The legal and financial aspects of marriage and parenthood. Has nothing to do with sex or gender.

Now, if it's just "homosexuality" and "school children" being mentioned in the same sentence that makes you uncomfortable (which is what I think the ad is really trying to provoke), that's fine, but Prop 8 is about "marriage," and again, doesn't have anything to do with education code.

And there have always been school topics that might bring up homosexuality. Sex ed has always supposed to teach about sexually transmitted diseases and other topics that affect both straight and gay couples. Although I dare say most schools are probably remiss in looking at these topics from a homosexual point of view. Learning about how HIV can be transmitted through both gay and straight sex didn't suddenly mandate a teacher to teach homosexual activity. How can teaching respect for, and the financial and legal consequences of marriage suddenly make Sally want to marry Katie?

It won't. Don't let the fear mongers win. Please.

Your Vector Zero-Nine-Zero for Bogey*/It Must Be That Time of (VROOOOOOOOM) Year Again

Every year, around this time, the Blue Angels come into town as part of "Fleet Week." This weekend, the Blue Angels will be part of an air show. But in order to do the air show, the Blue Angels need to practice.

And practice they do. Today and tomorrow, the Blue Angels will be "practicing" their aerial acrobatics over San Francisco for a few hours during the middle of the day.

I don't mean on the outskirts of the city. I mean directly over the city, financial district and all. And man do they fly low and fast. And loud. Three just flew over my office building in a triangle formation, causing (in addition to the impetus for this post) a "Top Gun in IMAX" sort of ffffffffVVVRRRROOOOOOOOOOMMMMmmmmmmm.

Unsurprisingly, SFers have mixed feelings (from Yelp.com) about the display of the (I think) F-18 Hornets. While I don't think I hide the fact that I am 90% dove on here, I have to say, that I get a kick out of it.

Whoa. There goes another one. Jebus they're fast. I could just see it in the spaces between the high rises.

Anyway...when I was a kid I LOVED jets, and every year my parents took me to the air show up in Reno, and I loved it. I was simply enamored with how big a B-52 was and just how freaking cool the F-16 looks. I even got to see an SR71 Blackbird once, which for a little geek like me, was pretty much heaven if you added an ice cream sundae to the experience.

So does it seem to be a waste of money when our government is in an absurd amount of debt? Yeah, it does. Am I a little afraid that one might crap out and land in a big pile of debris in the middle of the financial district? A little. But you know what? Fleet Week helps the city out by providing an economic boost (by dropping off a crap load of navy servicemen) and San Francisco has a rich history with the Navy. Plus, the 10 year old in me still gets kind of excited and I wouldn't want to deprive the REAL 10 year olds of what to many of them is awesomeness incarnate.

So men and women of the armed forces, Welcome to San Francisco!

*Other than quotes from Top Gun, I got nuthin'.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Vote "No" on Prop 8 part II

So I saw one of the ads for proposition 8 last night, and I was aghast at a few of its claims. First, according to the ad, if proposition 8 does not pass, then some churches might lose their tax-exempt status. Second, the ad claims that churches will be forced to marry gay couples.

These claims are completely false. They are so far from even having even an aspect of "truthiness" that it just boggles my mind that someone said it was ok to run these ads.

First, the tax exempt status thing. Churches, as non-profit entities, are allowed to discuss legislation and politics generally, and can even support legislation, but they are not allowed to endorse specific parties or candidates without risking their tax exempt status. So their claim that the rejection of proposition 8 will cause them to lose that status is just completely false. Proposition 8 is completely unrelated to whether a church remains tax exempt. As long as these churches don't turn unabashedly republican and start going partisan in the pulpit, they have nothing to worry about. But that is completely independent of Proposition 8 or same sex marriage generally.

In any event, the tax status of churches is a matter of federal law, not state. So the passage of proposition 8 has no bearing one way or another on how the IRS handles the tax exempt status of churches.

Second, the Supreme Court said explicitly in the decision that no religion would be forced to conduct same sex marriages if it was against their faith:

“[A]ffording same-sex couples the opportunity to obtain the designation of marriage will not impinge upon the religious freedom of any religious organization, official, or any other person; no religion will be required to change its religious policies or practices with regard to same-sex couples, and no religious officiant will be required to solemnize a marriage in contravention of his or her religious beliefs.”
The fact of the matter is that since the Supreme Court decision in May of this year, same sex marriages have been conducted. No churches have been forced to marry anyone they didn't want to, and no churches have suddenly lost their tax exempt status. Proponents of proposition 8 are just trying to scare with outrageous fabrications. Don't let them fool you!

Although, I must admit, the "yes" on prop 8 track suit is pretty spiffy.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Breaking News: Assholes Make More Money

This is depressing. Maybe I should start acting like Don Draper, drink during the day, put some plastic on my furniture, and start making some REAL money.

Study Ties Wage Disparities To Outlook on Gender Roles

By Shankar Vedantam
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 22, 2008; A02

Men with egalitarian attitudes about the role of women in society earn significantly less on average than men who hold more traditional views about women's place in the world, according to a study being reported today.

It is the first time social scientists have produced evidence that large numbers of men might be victims of gender-related income disparities. The study raises the provocative possibility that a substantial part of the widely discussed gap in income between men and women who do the same work is really a gap between men with a traditional outlook and everyone else.

Full article here.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Mad Hombres

I have gotten hooked on the show "Mad Men." Really well written, and whoever is in charge of making everything (even the misogyny) look authentic to the early sixties, well, they deserve a night out with the boys.

Sometimes, I like to think that maybe I could write copy. You know, come up with some riveting catch phrase that would compel you to buy Tupperware. Well, maybe not. But it's fun to think about.

But today, I saw this, and I have to say, unless something is lost in translation, I really don't get this slogan.
This is on the side of a truck purportedly delivering pinto beans. And not just any beans, but the "mas limpio," which, unless I'm missing some other meaning, means "cleaner." This company wants to assure you that when you buy these pinto beans, they are cleaner than other pinto beans.

Is this genius or are these guys just not trying very hard? I guess it suggests that everyone else's pinto beans are dirty...and I guess they would have a hard time trying to convince people that their pinto beans really taste much different than any other pinto beans....hmmm. How about this one guys.

El Frijol: no lo mata.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I Love* L.A.

So I just got back from a three day trip to Los Angeles. I stayed downtown, but I was there on bidness so I didn't get to go out and explore much. I was actually born in LA (Hollywood to be exact), but my family moved when I was 7 to a small town up north so I don't really remember it all that much. I do remember not enjoying visits with my family who continued to live down there though. But they lived in the valley, which is just awful. I went to Santa Monica earlier this summer and had a wonderful time though. So here are my thoughts.

Hey, LA isn't so bad!
Downtown has actually been cleaned up pretty nice. Good restaurants. Scary after dark though. Weather was nice. Cute girls, plenty of eye candy. One morning, while I was in a print shop making copies, they were shooting an episode of "CSI" out front. That was kind of fun. Some of the kitchy architecture from the 50s and 60s has now come full circle and is kind of cool.

LA is as bad as I remember!
While it was hot, it didn't seem sunny because of the smog. Getting anywhere during the day takes forever because of traffic. As they say, you pretty much have to allow an hour to get anywhere in L.A.

*"Love" as used herein refers to mixed feelings concerning smog inhalation, hour long cab rides to go 10 miles, and having to dodge production assistants on your way out of a copy shop as you run to a deposition.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Vote "No" on Prop 8

In November, Californians will be voting on proposition 8, which would amend the state constitution so that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." This of course is an attempt to undo the California Supreme Court's decision over the summer that struck down the ban on same sex marriage.

One of the arguments used by the opponents of same sex marriage, is that the issue should be decided by the electorate, not the courts. If you agree with that argument, this would mean the electorate of California.

But guess who is funding the proposition 8 campaign? That's right! Mostly people from out-of-state!

So Californians, when you go out there to vote for Obama, don't forget to vote "No" on 8. Tell these people from New Hampshire, that they should keep their money and spend it on...um...whatever people do in New Hampshire besides hate gays.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

On a different note

This is totally fair game.

McCain's voice mail to Palin.

I am Sarah Palin*

As I think I've said on here before, I don't really like politics. Like sausage, it's from watching the stomach turning process that I have turned into the equivalent of a political vegan.

So, for god's sake, will someone please call the hounds off of Bristol Palin. She is not running for office, and surely there are more relevant discussions to be had about whether her mother will be a good vice-president than her fertility. This could be anyone's family, and there is no reason to politicize this.

If anything, she was nominated because she is a mom, with mom values that a lot of people can identify with. If we start attacking her for having a "real world" mom problem that, so far, she is dealing with gracefully, this will only blow up in our faces, because we will then be insulting all those people who identify with her.

I mean, hell I identify with her. I'm from a small town where there wasn't much to do. I know that kids can get pregnant early, regardless of political affiliation, believe it or not.

My ability to empathize with her, however, has no bearing on whether I think she is qualified to be the next Vice President of the United States.

Refreshingly, I think the only person who has had the right attitude about this is Barack Obama. As reported by Fox News, of all places....

“I have heard some of the news on this and so let me be a clear as possible: I have said before and I will repeat again, I think people’s families are off limits, and people’s children are especially off limits. This shouldn’t be part of our politics,” the Democrat said forcefully. “It has no relevance to Governor Palin’s performance as governor, or her potential performance as a VP. And so I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories,” he continued.
So even though this might provide some anecdotal evidence as to whether an abstinence only based fight against teenage pregnancy is completely ineffective, you know what? Get some statistics or something.

* No I'm not.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Una bella regazza a San Francisco

Carmen Consoli, an italian singer/songwriter, who is VERY well known in Italy, is coming to SF! My italian doesn't exist isn't very good, but her music is beautiful. I "discovered" her through my ex italian girlfriend (still have scars from hot lasagna being thrown at me) who made me several mixes of Italian music. Carmen Consoli's song "l'ultimo bacio" (which was also featured in an Italian film of the same name that was quite good) was on one of them, and I thought it was so pretty, I went out and bought the whole album, "Stato di necessità" which is pretty awesome.

She's playing at Bimbos on September 24, 2008. I might have to go check her and her long hair out!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Another Reason To Hate Patchouli and the People Who Like Patchouli

Burning incense linked to respiratory cancers

Mon Aug 25, 2008 3:18pm EDT
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Burning incense may create a sweet scent, but regularly inhaling the smoke could put people at risk of cancers of the respiratory tract, researchers reported Monday.
Full Article Here.

Ok, I actually like incense. I loved the stuff they burn in the Buddhist temples when I was in Thailand and brought a whole bunch back with me (still not sure what it is...can't read Thai). I don't burn it all the time. Maybe once a week or so. That should be ok...right?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

John McCain Is Just Like You! Unsure How Much Property He Owns!

This is incredibly hypocritical. After accusing Obama of being out of touch with average Americans, McCain can't remember how many houses he owns. With every article about how Americans are unable to pay their mortgages and keep their homes, I think this is especially telling. But it gets better! McCain then directs the interviewer to contact "his staff" about how many homes he owns.

I am not a big fan of politics, and as we get closer to the actual presidential election, my aversion grows ever stronger. The constant empty rhetoric, tit-for-tat ad hominem attacks, and pandering just leave a bitter taste in my mouth. They are onerous in and of themselves, but the fact that all of that crap actually affects the daily polling results, gives my gag reflex (insert democratic caucus joke) an even larger jolt.

This one is just too much though. I have been growing increasingly irritated with the way McCain's campaign has been trying to paint Obama as an "elitist." Let's back up here, for a second ok?

As much as we all like to pretend it doesn't matter, Barrack Obama is African American. After all the discussion about how he's not "black enough" or how the democrats really shot themselves in the foot by nominating an African American, the fact remains that he is a member of a race that has been systematically discriminated against. Now, you can say all you want about Harvard Law and such, but as many of you know, that simply doesn't matter to some people. So for an old white man who married rich, to call Obama an elitist....the audacity just astounds me.

But the fact of it is, America, is that ALL our politicians are out of touch. Most, if not all, of our elected officials come from a lot of money, or now have a lot of money. Bush was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and so were the Kennedys. I don't mind the fact that they are from a gilded class, but I do get irritated when they pretend they aren't.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Paying Tuition With Your Credit Card?!?!?

I cannot believe that 1) I am posting twice in one day when I have an appellate brief going out today and 2) I received this email from Chase.

On a list of bad ideas, this is pretty far up there. I guess this must be in response to the huge jump in financial aid requests, but putting your college tuition on a credit card? Maybe it's because I finally just watched Sicko, which touches upon the crippling costs of education here in the U.S., but I could not believe this. Why are they giving students so much credit that they can afford to put their tuition on their card? What happened to the credit crisis?

I can see putting it on your card if you can immediately pay it off (just to earn points or something), but this seems to be aimed as students who, most likely, don't have that kind of cash. This just has potential to get some people into a really really bad situation on graduation.

Russian Georgian Conflict Escalates

The AP is now reporting that, with Russian backing, the South Ossetian separatists are now looting homes and setting them ablaze in the Georgian city of Gori.

This has gone from a bad situation to a fuckig cray cray situation. One could say (arguably) that Georgia "started" this by sending in troops to South Ossetia and Abkhazia (although Russia has been provoking of late), but Russia and their separtist friends are now no longer in the disputed areas, but in Georgia itself.

What the hell are they thinking?

Georgia has been a strong US ally and supporter of the war in Iraq (coalition of the willing), which is more than I can say for myself. I mean, they even named a street after George W. Bush. (Here in SF, there is a local proposal to name a waste water treatment plant after him). If the US does not back them, it will send the message to the very few friends we have left that we are all talk.

For supporters of the war in Iraq, THIS is why avoidable wars should be avoided. When military action becomes necessary (or even, as here, the threat of military action), we can no longer respond effectively. You can bet that Russia knows our military resources are already stretched thin so that they can push our tolerance envelope a bit more without fear of reprisal.

Speaking of avoidable wars. Come on Russia. Stop it.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Bin Laden's Driver Convicted, Faces Sentencing

Update: He got 5 and 1/2 years

GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) - A jury of U.S. military officers sentenced Osama bin Laden's driver to 5 1/2 years in prison on Thursday for providing material support for terrorism, concluding the first U.S. war crimes tribunal since World War Two.

Salim Hamdan, whose detention at Guantanamo Bay since 2002 prompted the Supreme Court Decision concluding that the original tribunals set up by Bush did not conform with the Geneva Conventions, was convicted of providing material support for terrorism, but was acquitted of conspiracy (interestingly, the government only added the supporting terrorism charge after the Supreme Court case, because it was not previously a codified crime!).

While this is being heralded as a "success" for the military commission, some serious questions remain, including whether any of the crimes actually have any foundation in the law of war, or whether conviction under these novel theories of criminal law might violate the ex post facto clause.

For me, I think the fact that this is the first and strongest case for the government is extremely telling. Are you telling me that of all of the detainees from Guantanamo, who the government has been trying to keep locked up indefinitely without recourse to counsel or the courts because they are "high value," the best we can do is the fucking chauffeur? Not even the government claims that he had any real involvement in the September 11 attacks. It seems Hamdan was mostly motivated by having a job, rather than any strong ideological camaraderie (a notion I can actually empathize with).

If anything, the fact that the first successful conviction 1) of someone who is about as connected with September 11 as the guy who runs the laundromat where the hijackers took their dry cleaning (hey how about the guys who taught the fuckers how to fly?), 2) by a "court" hastily set up with very little regard for the detainees' rights, 3) based on violations of law that did not exist at the time, and 4) almost 7 years later shows how completely backward the Bush administration's (and Congress') "war on terror" has been.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Karadzic's alter ego's website

UPDATE: Turns out that website was a crock and only set up yesterday, thanks "James!" I guess it was way to convenient that it was also in English.

So remember how Karadzic had actually been living in Belgrade this whole time working at an alternative medicine clinic? Turns out he had his own website. How spooky are his "ten favorite Chinese proverbs?"

10 favorite ancient Chinese proverbs as selected personally by Dr. Dabic:

- Behind every able man, there are always other able men.

- Teacher opens the door, but you must enter by yourself.

- A wise man makes his own decisions, an ignorant man follows the public opinion.

- He who cannot agree with his enemies is controlled by them.

- If your strength is small, don't carry heavy burdens. If your words are worthless, don't give advice.

- A flawed diamond is better than a common stone that is perfect.

- Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.

- If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, teach people.

- You cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from building nests in your hair.

- The one who gives up his own, shall dig two graves.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Radovan Karadzic Arrested!

The biggest news in the international criminal legal world in a while, and maybe of all time with regard to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Karadzic, allegedly almost indisputably was the mastermind behind the Srebrenica massacre, which involved the systematic murder and rape of Bosnian Muslims in a UN declared "safe area." In recent memory, most of the news coming out of the ICC has been somewhat yawn-inspiring questions of jurisdiction and propriety of prosecutions. It is nice to have a war criminal we can all get angry at and renew our commitment to international justice. Put him on trial!

For a more in depth factual account of what happened at Srebrenica, take a look at this judgment from the ICTY, Prosecutor v. Krstic. It will make you ashamed to be a member of the same species as these guys.

This also shows how serious the Serbs are about tracking down war criminals. Say what you will about how long it took to find this guy, but they must have put some effort into it, because how anyone recognized this guy at all is pretty amazing. Look at the difference!Photo from the Associated Press.

He went from "creepy club owner" to Karl Marx/organic food guru in 10 years.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Om My God

I was not a big fan of high school. It was just ok. I wasn't picked on or anything, but I never really fit into any of the (very few) cliques we had at my small school. My school was so small that our cheerleaders weren't really the stereotypical cheerleaders that one sees at bigger schools, or maybe just in the movies, but a few of them were. And I wasn't a big fan of them either.

I do yoga now (just wait, this will make sense in a minute). Well, I should say that I attend yoga classes and attempt to do what the instructor and most everyone around me is doing with varying degrees of success/failure failure/success. One of the classes I go to is taught by a great instructor who is energetic and fun and talks about chakras and stuff, and I swear I am healthier for it.

So you can imagine my confusion when after our last class she handed out fliers for "shamanic cheerleader camp" that asked me if I was "Ready? Omkay!" At first I found it hilarious. Now I find it genuinely entertaining. Considering that I can barely make it through a normal class, I don't think I'll be attending, but you have to check this out. These girls look great at what they do. I love this city.

from www.shamaniccheerleaders.com

Thursday, July 10, 2008

What comes around

So, I have a confession to make. For a few months I was a commenter on a right wing blog. I know, I know, but hear me out. Here in SF I am surrounded by people who more or less agree with my more or less liberal viewpoint. I don't really do any good by *ahem* preaching to the choir.

So instead, I went on a proselytizing mission.

And let me tell you, the natives were having none of it.

Actually many were very nice and were willing to find at least some common ground. But others weren't. I was called a "liar" and an "idiot" and was eventually kicked off for being a general thorn in their sides. But I learned some interesting things while there, and I think we have to be careful that we don't do the same thing.

One is "post hoc ergo propter hoc," which I posted on there in latin just to get their panties in a wad. All this latin phrase means is that just because two things happen in sequence does not mean that the first thing caused the second thing. I guess it's sort of a first cousin of "correlation does not mean causation." I learned this because there were many (MANY) posts about how talking with "America's enemies" was a horrible idea, and for support, many of them used the example of WWII and how it would have been futile (or was futile if you were Stalin) to negotiate with Hitler (I also think they just like to bring up the Nazis for inflammatory effect). Now despite some very good WWII historians (and theorists) on the site, they didn't get that the fact that the lack or failure of negotiations in stopping WWII did not automatically mean equal "all negotiations with our enemies are fruitless."

Another good one I saw was result oriented thinking. In many of their posts talking about the shortcomings of Barrack Obama (who they repeatedly said was supported by Hamas) they listed "lack of knowledge/inexperience of foreign policy." When I asked them why this was now suddenly important to them now, when it didn't seem to matter with Bush in 2000 and 2004....well...I actually can't remember what they said, but something to the extent of well, NOW it's important and that W had really learned a lot. While I will say that W has learned some things on the job, he is still not the guy I want representing this country on the global front. He just called Berlusconi his "amigo," for pete's sake. How in the world can you now say that foreign policy experience is important when you voted for this frickin' guy? It's only important now because now it's the alleged shortcoming of the democratic candidate.

Come on guys. Think about it.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Woman Tries Her Hand(Gun) at Exterminating

In Today's News

Woman Pulls .44 Magnum On Mice, Shoots Herself

POTTER VALLEY (AP) ― A Mendocino County woman who was trying to kill mice in her trailer with a gun ended up shooting herself and another person. Full article here.
Instead of providing my own commentary, I will just juxtapose this article with a quote from Scalia's majority opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller, the Second Amendment case handed down a few weeks ago. The emphasis added is, of course, my own:
It is no answer to say, as petitioners do, that it is permissible to ban the possession of handguns so long as the possession of other firearms (i.e., long guns) is allowed. It is enough to note, as we have observed, that the American people have considered the handgun to be the quintessential self-defense weapon. There are many reasons that a citizen may prefer a handgun for home defense: It is easier to store in a location that is readily accessible in an emergency; it cannot easily be redirected or wrestled away by an attacker; it is easier to use for those without the upper-body strength to lift and aim a long gun; it can be pointed at a burglar with one hand while the other hand dials the police. Whatever the reason, handguns are the most popular weapon chosen by Americans for self-defense in the home, and a complete prohibition of their use is invalid.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Misleading Headline

I did a double take when I saw the title of this story. I thought it was going to be about a hate crime or something equally atrocious.

Injured Gay is on 'active rest'

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Shira Springer Globe Staff / July 7, 2008

EUGENE, Ore. - Tyson Gay was diagnosed with a mild strain in part of his left hamstring after undergoing an MRI late Saturday afternoon. Gay suffered the injury during the men's 200 quarterfinal at the US Olympic track and field trials, falling to the track 40 meters into the race. According to a statement released by his manager, Mark Wetmore, Gay is "expected to engage in 'active rest' for up to 12-14 days, with light physical activity increasing through that period."

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Urban fossil

During my bike ride yesterday, I stopped at Chino's taqueria, which was an oasis of carnitas goodness in an otherwise unfamiliar (and at around 4 pm on a Wednesday a kind of scary) Outer Richmond area. As I sat down to ingest the calories (or maybe 2x the calories) I had just managed to burn off during my ride in the form of a super burrito, I looked up and saw this.

Now, while it is comforting to know that I can still get a good hot carl any time I want to, I realized that it had been a long time since I had actually noticed a pay phone. I'm sure I've walked by a few lately, but I'd never actually been near one in recent memory. Kind of weird really. I mean this is how I used to call my parents in middle school to tell them that I was hanging out with my friends in the Carl Jr.'s parking lot and that I wouldn't be home for dinner. Now all I can think of is that I should really carry Purell instant hand sanitizer everywhere I go.

Monday, June 23, 2008

D.C. Court of Appeals Invalidates "Enemy Combatant" Designation of Gitmo detainee

In an (as of yet unpublished due to confidential information) order, the D.C. Circuit invalidated the decision of a Combatant Status Review Tribunal finding that a detainee, one Huzaifa Parhat , is an "enemy combatant," and "directed the government to release or to transfer Parhat, or to expeditiously hold a new Tribunal consistent with the court's opinion."

Now, this is not a direct result of the Supreme Court's decision in Boumediene. Rather, this was a result of the very limited review of CSRT final judgments that was already in the Military Commissions Act. The order does specifically mention Boumediene though and states that the Friday's order does nothing to prevent Parhat from filing a petition for habeas corpus.

Interestingly, Parhat is a Muslim Uighur from Xinjiang in far western China; a group who seeks greater autonomy from China. If it was hard to trace any link between September 11 and Iraq, I don't expect to find one here. Doesn't sound like the court was very convinced either.

Before you get too excited, the same Court also denied another detainee's challenge of a procedural decision due to lack of jurisdiction under the Military Commissions Act.
You might remember this guy, Omar Khadr, because of an earlier military commission decision dismissing the charges against him because he was found to be an "enemy combatant," and not an "unlawful enemy combatant." A decision that has since been reversed. There are also some other ongoing challenges because Khadr was 15 when the alleged crimes were committed. It has become a very very complex case.

R.I.P. George

My parents actually let me watch George Carlin when I was a kid. It was my first exposure to someone who was smart, funny, and frighteningly observant. He will be missed.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Marriage Is So Gay

sf city hall gay marriage equality 6.16 (24)

I haven't really commented much on this, mostly because I was out of town when the California Supreme Court decision was handed down, but I have to say something, and that something is this: Awesome.

I remember the day when I became a 100% supporter of same sex marriage (rather than just my previous 80%). I was riding the J-Church from Noe Valley to civic center in 2004, right after Mayor Gavin Newsom had just authorized the city clerk to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. Sitting in the seats in front of me were two men dressed in tuxes on their way to city hall. They were fiddling with the rings they had purchased for each other, and checking their pockets to make sure they didn't forget anything. They were obviously very nervous.

And very very much in love.

It was painfully obvious to me at that point what a travesty it was for the state to recognize some, but not all of the marriages of those who are lucky enough to find their match.

And for all of the protesters and county officials who don't want to officiate the weddings, I hope you know that in 20 years, you will be seen as the Oral Faubus of this chapter in equal protection.

The fact that this will provide a nice economic boost isn't so bad either. I am incredibly jealous of this guy, who converted (is converting) an old Victorian in the Castro into a wedding chapel. Brilliant. That is the american entreprenuial spirit at work my friends.

Here's another (topical) MUNI ad.

Unfortunately, the fight isn't over. This November, there will be a ballot measure to amend the California Constitution to restrict marriages to hetero sexual couples. It is the opponents' last stand.

Do not be fooled by their calls that the California Supreme Court decision is "judicial activism." The truth is that the state legislature twice tried to pass laws recognizing same sex marriage, but they were vetoed both times by the Governator. He said, (the republican governor) that it should be left to the courts. Well, the courts have had their say.

Now all same sex marriage opponents have to hope for is to play off on is the electorate's irrational fear. Don't let them scare you. Help oppose the initiative here.

From a legal standpoint, even if this amendment passes, I'm still not sure it would be constitutional. From a practical standpoint, I don't think the court's would strike down a constitutional amendment (by the people) based on the equal protection clause, but from a purely legal (and therefore useless) standpoint, couldn't a later amendment be "unconstitutional," if it runs afoul of an earlier and more fundamental right? And if it passed only to the detriment of same sex couples, might that run afoul of the US constitution, as in Romer v. Evans? Just thoughts.

Monday, June 16, 2008

San Jose Earthquakes v. David Beckham

I went over to Oakland and watched the LA Galaxy (Beckham's teammates apparently) play the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night. This was the first professional "soccer" game I've ever been too, and I have to say, I'm a fan. I think geography dictates that I have to be a fan of the San Jose Earthquakes, but I don't know. I don't really want to buy a jersey that says San Jose on it. No offense. I've just never really spent much time there.

The result was a 3-0 result for the Galaxy, although it was a well-played match all the way through. San Jose had some good looks, but just couldn't get a last good touch/shot. The LA Galaxy fans are kind of obnoxious, but I have to say, not too far off from their English counterparts; making noise the ENTIRE 90 minutes. Although I must point out, every Galazy (I know I misspelled it. But I think I'll leave it) fan was wearing a "Beckham" jersey. I doubt they know the rest of the team or were fans before his arrival.

But I guess that was the point of signing him and his fine fine tuckus.

Speaking of Galazy, I think I now know why they call playing for the MLS Beckham's "retirement." He really doesn't play all that hard. He hits their set pieces and corners, but he doesn't really run around that much. I got a few pics of the match which I might put up, but here's a shot of what BART looked like afterwards.

Friday, June 13, 2008

By Popular Demand: Voyeurism

I really hope this doesn't encourage any (more) public nudity/indecent exposure/touching of oneself on MUNI.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Justices Rule Guantanamo Detainees Have Right To Pursue Habeas

Great news for the great writ.

In a (very very sadly predictable) 5-4 opinion written by Justice Kennedy, the Supreme Court in Boumediene v. Bush, No. 06-1195 held that Guantanamo detainees can pursue habeas petitions in federal district court. This is the same set of cases that the Court originally refused to hear and then later changed their mind.

As far as my 3 30 minute skimming of the opinion has alerted me, the opinion doesn't hold that the constitution applies to Gitmo detainees, but rather than Congress' attempt to suspend the writ ran afoul of the constitution holds that the constitution does apply to the detainees at Gitmo. This opinion won't change any of the on-going military commission trials. Rather, detainees will have the ability to challenge any determinations made in those trials by petition for writ of habeas corpus. As the opinion does conclude that the constitution applies at Guantanamo, detainees are also likely to use other parts of the constitution (ex post facto?) during their trials or in the petition for writ of habeas corpus.

Go civil liberties!!! I'll update (probably likely) as I actually read the thing. But very big news in the ongoing civil liberties v. national security debate.

NYT article
Scotusblog preliminary analysis

Friday, June 06, 2008

Absolut(ely) Awesome Part II: Absolut(ely) Fabulous

Well, it looks like Absolut is going after bigotry one SoCo drinker at a time. You might remember their last ad depicting the western united states as being part of Mexico, as not having received a warm "bienvenido" amongst the self-appointed GETERDONE minutemen legal immigration advocates.

Now, to commemorate the rainbow flag's 30 year history (as being a symbol of LGBT pride), Absolut is issuing the limited edition "Absolut Rainbow."

Image from Selectism.

I think it's just the bottle and not some crazy combo of all the different flavors (hopefully). The July 1 release date will be a little late for our local pride parade, but I'm sure demand will be nevertheless be high in the bay area.

I gotta tell you, I think I might start specifically asking for absolut just because of their ad campaigns.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

New Muni Ad Comforts Gentiles, Film Students

I have no idea what service or product they are advertising, but the ads definitely catch the attention.

Monday, June 02, 2008

I Think My Gym Is Trying To Tell Me Something Part II

My gym is very happy place. Or what a person a few decades ago might have called "gay." Or maybe what a person yesterday might have called "gay."

Here is a missed connection from Craigslist that takes place in my gym. It is not by me, nor for me, but my normal locker is #99 so I feel kind of close to these guys. Really, disturbingly, like "where did my towel go?" kind of close.

SCLA - m4m - 35 (downtown / civic / van ness)

Reply to: pers-703988102@craigslist.org
Date: 2008-06-01, 5:05PM PDT

you were using locker 93 or another close by. You're really hot, muscular, hairy guy. I think you're often there weekdays with ur boyfriend. The two of you are incredible. I was nearby but not the guy across the aisle who was putting on a show for your benefit. Seeing you there is a nice finish to my workout. Hot!
I also don't think I"m the one putting on the "show" as my...uh..."lead actor"isn't really a "big name" or what one would call a"headliner" blah blah blah, etc., something about the "grip" and "best boy."

You should see the ones about the steam room. My gym was mysteriously empty last Thursday night. Then I realized it was premiere night for SATC.

Honestly though, being in a locker room with a bunch of gay men has kind of made me body conscious. Is this what girls feel like when they go to the beach? CONSTANTLY JUDGED?!?!!?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Monday, May 12, 2008

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

For anyone who is getting excited for the Euro

The football competition, not the currency. Here's a fun fantasy pick/contest. France is in the group of death ridiculously good teams along with Italy, the Netherlands and Romania. Should be fun.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Gas tax holiday is a horrible, no good idea

Please America. Do not be fooled by the bread and circuses.

When I first read "gas tax holiday" I thought it meant that we were going to be celebrating the gas tax; an idea that I found rather odd. But now, as I understand it, both Clinton and McCain are suggesting that the gas tax be cut for the summer. While the extra $28 dollars that is likely to result sure sounds nice, this is a really really bad idea.

First, Econ 101. A reduction in taxes will result in lower prices for consumers AND increase the amount of money oil producers will receive. Remember those big bad oil companies that Clinton says she hates? Well, they'll actually benefit from this because they will receive more money for more sales of gasoline.

A related issue is that this will result in more gasoline being consumed, which will result in more pollutants in our air. Hardly what we want these summer months.

Second, the gas tax goes goes into a Highway Trust Fund that (is already in the red) is used for infrastructure construction and repair. This will mean that there will be $9 billion less available for highway repair and maintenance (or actually, $9billion less to pay back the bonds that have already been issued to fund the infrastructure costs). Watch out for those potholes while you're using your barely cheaper gas. Doesn't anyone remember the bridge collapse in Minnesota?

Third, this is exactly the kind of short term thinking that has gotten us into trouble in the first place, and is nothing but political pandering to those most desperate. You want to help low income people with long commutes? Invest in better roads, more public transportation, or at the very least, give these people direct rebates so that the oil companies don't make even more money.

No economist is in favor of this proposal because it sucks is bad policy. When Clinton could not name an economist in favor of this policy, she said that the economists were the "elite opinion."

Does anyone else get the feeling that "elite" has started to mean "smart and well-thought out"?

Sunday, May 04, 2008

My first love and I at ocean beach

Not bad for a camera phone.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hot Lesbian on Lesbian Action

That should get this blog some hits. Sorry guys/gals.

Three people from the isle of Lesbos have filed a lawsuit to deprive a Greek gay rights group from using the word "lesbian" in its name. The plaintiffs complain that people from Lesbos (called Lesbians) have had their identity stolen by women who like other women have no connection with the island. (FULL ARTICLE FROM SFGATE HERE).

I don't really understand what the Lesbian plaintiffs hope to accomplish. Don't get me wrong. I live in San Francisco. People assume I'm gay when I tell them where I live, so I totally empathize.

But say they win the case. One group in Greece will no longer be able to use the word in it's name. What about the rest of the world. I think the jury came back on this a long time ago.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

U.S. "virtual" border fence with Mexico works . . . almost virtually

According to the A.P., the U.S. government has announced that it is scrapping the prototype of a virtual border fence with Mexico dubbed "Project 28." Apparently the prototype, which consists of nine electronic surveillance towers along a 28-mile section of border southwest of Tucson, didn't provide the info the border patrol needed quickly enough. Though the fence has resulted in 3,000 apprehensions, this pales in comparison to the number of humans crossing the border daily.

Of course, if they don't catch the people, I don't really understand how they know there are so many more crossing daily. Sounds like trying to gage the homeless population by going door-to-door.

Anyway, the U.S. is to replace the towers with . . . uh. . . with other towers. Huh.

Photo courtesy of Spiritual Travelman.

Monday, April 21, 2008

This should level the playing field

How the Onion manages to stay so consistently funny is a weekly miracle to me.

Dear politicians and members of the media,

Hi. I'm from San Francisco. Well, not originally. Originally, I am from a very small rural town in Eastern California. It is a town built for tourists generally; but a lot of the people who live there are of the cowboy/ranching/general shit-kicking type; the kind that brag about what zone they got for their deer tags.

I would stop short of going to the rodeo, but I did often go to local fairs and gander at the contemporary equivalent of Zuckerman's famous pig. It was a fine place to grow up, but at an early age, I knew it wasn't my scene.

Most of the people who live in San Francisco are from somewhere else. I can only think of two people I know who can actually say they are "from" San Francisco. Drawn by the culture, weather (ha ha), politics, or some mixture, most people who live here have generally chosen to live here. Some of them are from big cities. Some of them are from little towns like me. Some of my friends here are from Nebraska, Wisconsin, Oregon, and Ohio.

I live here because of the culture, the city's proximity to some amazing places (Yosemite, Napa/Sonoma Wine Country, Big Sur, Stinson Beach), and I like the city's general mellow, tolerant, and laid-back attitude.

I won't lie. I'm a liberal. I would venture to say very liberal by most people's standards, at least as far as social issues go. Compared to others in SF, I would probably be considered just sort of liberal. But I like living in a city that prides itself on being progressive, even when I don't necessarily agree with all of it.

But to the extent that people call San Francisco a "bubble," I must vehemently disagree.

Gas prices near my house are now $4.17/gallon, compared to a national average of $3.47. I'm not going to even bring up property prices or rent here. Ok maybe I will. My roommate and I pay over $2k a month for a very small 2 bedroom. Owning property here is not really ever in the cards for me. I have been held-up at gunpoint. Our public transportation system is severely lacking. Some of our neighborhoods are downright scary, and some of that is because shipping yards and other businesses have shut down or left town.

In sum, San Francisco, like other cities, has its share of problems and it is in no way immune or impervious to the economic shocks than others. Sure, we're liberal, but other than that, we are just like everyone else.

And just like you, I like where I live. I'm proud of my city, and I don't like people bad-mouthing it.

So to all of you politicians and members of the media who like to throw my city's name around whenever they want to really emphasize that someone is "elitist," maybe you should think about the real out-of-touch bubble that is Capital Hill before you start badgering us. Especially when a certain other democratic candidate also just had a closed-door fund raiser here herself.

Well, I was trying to find a link, but can't. Hillary Clinton was in the building next door to where I work a couple of weeks ago.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Waterboarding proven effective for team spirit, sales

As reported by the Washington Post, Chad Hudgens was waterboarded by his boss as part of a team building exercise in Provo Utah. "Why?," you ask? What does waterboarding a sales rep have anything to do with selling online "coaching"? To demonstrate an important and inspiring message about work ethic. According to the torturer interrogator boss:

"You saw how hard Chad fought for air right there. I want you to go back inside and fight that hard to make sales."

Although Hudgens has filed suit against his (I'm going to gesss former) employer, he admits the technique's efficacy:

"I don't know if the government should do it or not," Hudgens said. "But I can tell you firsthand, because it happened to me, it definitely works.

"They didn't tell me it was going to happen, but if they did, holy cow, I would've told them whatever they wanted me to tell them."

"Holy Cow," indeed. Maybe my job isn't that bad after all.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Quand un révolutionnaire se tait

The poet, playwright, and father of a movement that came to be known as "négritude" (an affirmation and pride of being black) in the 1930s and 40s, long before any equivalent movement elsewhere Aimé Césaire passed away today.

I didn't really understand his work, like Cahier d'un retour au pays natal, when I read it in school, but looking back, it was nothing if not revolutionary. His voice was the first to artfully scream of the injustice and violent oppression of French colonialism in the Caribbean and elsewhere. His work inspired André Breton and Franz Fanon. His use of literature and the surreal as a means of critiquing colonialism was steeped with an authenticity and gravity that other french authors could never really hope to speak with.

Je viendrais à ce pays mien et je lui dirais : Embrassez-moi sans crainte... Et si je ne sais que parler, c'est pour vous que je parlerai».
Et je lui dirais encore :
« Ma bouche sera la bouche des malheurs qui n'ont point de bouche, ma voix, la liberté de celles qui s'affaissent au cachot du désespoir. »

A quote I found of his a while ago, that I think is just as true today, as it was during the height of the anticolonial struggle:

«Une civilisation qui s'avère incapable de résoudre les problèmes que suscite son fonctionnement est une civilisation décadente.»
[ Aimé Césaire ] -
Discours sur le colonialisme

Loosely translated "a civilization that proves itself incapable of resolving the problems that it has itself created, is a decadent civilization."

Friday, April 11, 2008

Absolut(ely) Awesome

Apparently this add ruffled some anti (illegal) immigration feathers. Although this ad only ran in Mexico, some racist nutballs legal immigration advocates were outraged because it shows the western united states as being part of Mexico. They are angry, or rather scared, because this is like a picture of their worst nightmare coming true in the future. But this is an accurate map of the past, so I don't really know why they have their panties in a bunch. Plus, if it only ran in Mexico, how did these guys even know about it? Did one of them *gasp* CROSS THE BORDER!?!?!

When I first saw this, I thought it meant that Sweden was going to take over Mexico and the Western United States, which I would whole-heartedly support, if for no other reason than it would end the health care debate. Not to mention if we combined Scandinavian and Latin American culture, we would just have a big party all the time, with some awesome new nopales- or Tabasco-infused vodka drinks. [Insert Absolut Sponsored Post Here] and a new bikini team with a few more brunettes and some serious culo.

Here is an excerpt from a FOXNews.com story, that must be my favorite. Here, the Company spokesman is explaining the Absolut ad campaign:

Moran said the global ad campaign has generally played on comedic juxtaposition between something real and something obviously not possible. One ad that ran in New York City showed roller-coaster handle bars inside a taxi cab; another featured a pregnant man. An ad that ran in France showed a city street clogged with bicyclists, except for a single car lane.

"Most of these have a little 'a-ha' moment," Moran said. But Absolut found itself trying to explain the joke to American audiences with the ad that ran in Mexico.

So what have we learned? Don't use ads that involve historical parody in the United States because we don't know our own history.