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 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.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Medellin Part Deux: SCOTUS Shows No Love for ICJ or US Treaty Obligations

On March 25 (hey, some of us have day jobs), the Supreme Court handed down a decision in Medellin v. Texas which, as I predicted, rejected the proposition that either an ICJ decision, or a memo from the President constituted directly enforceable federal law.

Ok, it wasn't really that hard to predict. I guess the silver lining of this Court is that with certain cases, such as those involving international law, or anything against corporations or guns, you pretty much know which way they're going to go as soon as they pick up the case.

The disturbing thing about Medellin (other than the underlying crime, which was a heinous rape and murder), is that it presented a very strong case for the domestic application of international law. It involves 1) a treaty, 2)that was ratified, 3) and an Optional Protocol Consenting to ICJ jurisdiction 4) which was also ratified.

So when the ICJ determined that the US had violated its obligations under the treaty, the ICJ should be binding on us, right?

WRONG! According to this Court, neither the Optional Protocol nor the underlying treaty were "self-executing," and therefore, without a further act from Congress, did not create binding federal law. According to the Court, "submitting to jurisdiction and agreeing to be bound are two different things." Wow. If the US is free to either accept or reject an ICJ decision regardless of whether or not they sign an Optional Protocol consenting to ICJ jurisdiction, then the whole document is pointless, as is Congress ratification of that document.

Granted, there were some serious issues of state rights going on in this case, but consular relations and immigration polices (as well as policing of foreign nationals) have always been at the federal level. It makes little sense that the feds can regulate migratory birds through treaties, but not migratory people, whether or not they are in the criminal justice system. See Missouri v. Holland, 252 U.S. 416 (1920).

Whoa. I just did a legal citation. Time to stop.

Great Article by Edward Lazarus

Medellin v. Texas, Opinion