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.