October 13, 2009

Because I'm Not "Connected" Enough, I Guess

With the big trip coming up, I thought I'd try to document things using the slick and simple Tumblr interface.

This blog isn't going anywhere (yet--I will probably end it and start anew when I've moved to DC) but for move-related info, pics, and so forth, you'll want to visit:

SF to DC

I'm new to Tumblr but I think it's pretty great for random stuff, or very specific blogs. I hope mine is a mix of the two.

For those keeping score, I am now active on Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google Reader, Gmail, and Gchat. I might have to scale back at some point...

October 7, 2009

Where To Begin?

So many topics to potentially discuss. Let's get the obvious one out of the way, shall we:

1. I'm moving to D.C.! The time has come, the grand curtain has fallen on this crazy California experiment of mine. It has been a great 7 years on the west coast, no doubt, but for a wide variety of reasons, it's time to wrap it up.

The nuts and bolts, FAQ, quick factoid summary is this: I don't have a job in DC yet, but have several strong leads and will be blasting my super impressive resume to everybody who's ever even HEARD of a lawyer in that town.

I am leaving California the last week of October, and hope to return in 4-5 days. It's a bit of a drive which I am currently doing by myself, but am entertaining the possibility of having some peeps join me during portions of the trip. It is kind of long and boring to ask any one of you to do the whole thing, but if anyone wants to fly to SF to start it off, and then fly back from Denver or somewhere else in the middle, email me. We'll talk.

I will miss California. Quite a bit. But it's just a state with fairly nice weather, and the people I care about (non-professionally) are elsewhere.

California To-Do
Quit my job
Quit my apartment
Sell my furniture
Go to Muir Woods and/or the Headlands once more
Finish potential tattoo design
Lunches with my Bay Area peeps
Salvation Army a ton of clothes
Plot a route, with stopping points
Forward my mail

What did I forget?

2. The Tigers make me so, so very sad. Everyone keeps saying they fought a good fight last night, and while it's true -- it was, objectively and subjectively, a great game -- it ignores the fact that the game never should have been played. The Tigers had a small but solid lock on the division title, and all they had to do was play barely passable .500 ball for the last few weeks. Instead, they got swept by the lowly Royals, and a week after that lost their series matchups against the Royals again, Minnesota, and Chicago--three teams that they are supposed to beat routinely.

Leyland says "we have nobody to blame but ourselves." No shit sherlock, you guys suck. Nobody in the history of baseball has imploded this badly at the end of the season. I mean, you can argue that it's fine because they clearly would have been outclassed during the playoffs, but geez. Unless the Twins go to the Series this year, you can't even argue that this entire season hasn't been a complete waste.

3. I had a rant about Letterman but the Tigers pissed me off again, so I forgot. I think it was basically: we don't know any of the details of his relationship, except that the chick was younger and worked for him. While this is bad for HR purposes, the moral reprehensibility is undetermined. We don't know anything about the nature of this relationship, and to assume that he was praying on a poor defenseless (female) staffer is rather sexist. They are both adults, as far as we know, and it is rampant speculation to assume that she was a) trying to sleep her way to success, or b) the victim of unwanted sexual advances by a powerful superior.

We have nothing to suggest either is true. It's really just a private matter between the parties involved and their spouses. I can appreciate that it "draws attention" to workplace inequity, but only because these are coworkers that had a relationship. Not because of the inequity, which is only suggested.

I guess I remembered more than I thought. It bugs me when people assume that women are being preyed upon simply because they have sex with someone that isn't their professional equal. When men do that, nobody bats an eye. It's unfair and inherently sexist.

September 29, 2009

No No No No No No No. No.

This Roman Polanski shit has got to stop. His ass needs to get sentenced to some serious time--five or more years at least. And I only say five because the old bastard is 76 and that's like, 15 years to you or me. Well, not you Grandma.

First, a disclaimer: the original case turns on some thorny procedural issues that I've never read a straight answer on. He pled guilty, got a plea bargain that the judge apparently threw out as way to lenient (I believe it was time served, 42 days, but I could be wrong) and when the judge indicated it was going to be serious time, he fled the country.

FLED THE COUNTRY, ya'll. So let's look at the facts thus far, shall we?

1. Nobody argues that he didn't have sex--some crazy sodomy sex, too--with a 13-year-old girl. He did. He says he thought she was 17, there's some hearsay evidence that she was put in the position by her showbiz-crazy mom, and so forth. But ultimately, personal responsibility dude: you had sex with a child. Strikes one, two and three. And hey, how about strike four while we're at it.

2. HE FLED THE COUNTRY. You can't just run away from the legal system if you think you're being screwed. That's not how it works. If the judge was CRAZY out of line with his actions, you file a complaint, get a new judge, and appeal. Not cheap but quite easy to do, procedurally. What don't you do? FLEE THE COUNTRY like some spoiled Hollywood douchebag.

3. The victim is old as hell now, and basically says we should all let it go. I respect her thoughts on the subject, but sorry: it's not yours to finish. Rape is a serious, serious crime. Some argue it's equal to or worse than murder; I make no such claims but if it takes a backseat to murder, it's a close backseat, like the kind in a Porsche.

So it's not up to you, darlin'. It's up to the People of the State of California, and here's why: people can't think that this is acceptable behavior. The rape AND the subsequent retreat to Europe make this doubly true. If he had "just" raped this girl 30 years ago, and was terribly sorry and sought to atone for his sins by making excellent movies (? as if that's really atonement, but I'll let it slide for the moment), I might say 6 months in prison and 1500 hours of community service or something, given the fact that the victim doesn't want to press charges.

But he fled. He didn't face up to what he did, and NEVER HAS. As a lawyer, I have to say, and pardon my language, fuck THAT shit. It's reprehensible behavior for which he has never been held accountable.

"He's suffered enough!" WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT. He's lived in France, and while some might call that suffering, it's hardly prison. It's nothing. He's continued to live his life.

"He has lived a model life since then." Totally true if you ignore the FLEEING THE COUNTRY PART. That's not model, it smacks of egotism and shows no remorse. Model life (if that's the case) negated.

"This is a waste of taxpayer money." Somewhat true. But if we didn't prosecute people that were tough to catch, what the hell kind of system would be left with? You prosecute everyone that breaks the law, regardless of the financial burden, if the evidence is there.

Some of ya'll may remember my last post, on that Pan Am bomber that got sent home early. I mentioned justice quite a bit, and this situation proves just how fragile the notion of true justice is. The Libyan was tried, convicted, and ultimately sent home for compassionate reasons.

Polanski has done nothing--nothing--to warrant compassion at this point. He is a gifted director who has never been held responsible for his terrible crime. And in this case, justice has no statute of limitations. Lock him up and throw away the key.

Also, what the fuck are THESE guys smoking? Talk about demonstrating how out of touch you are. Pathetic.

September 15, 2009

Racism in Dissent?

Short answer: no.

It's an easy straw man argument to make for both sides of the political aisle. Democrats and liberals can claim that dissenting arguments are racist because we have a black president; Republicans and conservatives claim that all claims of racism are merely attempts to squelch dissent.

Of course, neither side is right and neither side is wrong. But if Joe Wilson has shown us anything, it's that the default skeptical view should be placed on the conservative argument.

Republicans love to martyr themselves. "Obama wants to crush dissenting voices!" they cry, not noticing that nobody is crushing them at all. "Well, the media won't let us speak!" they shout, apparently unaware that they are doing so on Fox News, a non-vital but significant member of The Media. And of course, if someone suggests that their unformed, vague, and unhelpful "opinion" is the product of an underlying, and racist, distrust of the President, well then you're in trouble, bucko.

Is every conservative opinion racist? Not by the longest of shots. Many are well thought-out, reasonable, and deserve to be considered. Doesn't mean I will ultimately agree, but I appreciate the alternative viewpoint.

But then there's the people who bring guns to townhall meetings. The people who have pictures of Obama as Hitler, or a monkey, or a monkey-Hitler. The people who yell out "You lie!" during the President's speech before Congress. These people add nothing of value whatsoever to the national debate. They are not "courageous" for taking a stand, as some claim. It is not courageous to act like a coward and a fool, especially when you're so very, very wrong. It's also not analogous to every other President; nobody questioned Bush's origins, or McCain's (even though there was just as much "evidence" that McCain was born out of the country as well) and when Clinton was running things, it was all about sex scandals. And nobody--nobody--yelled insults at them during a joint session of Congress. Especially not an elected official.

And for what it's worth, Obama didn't lie. The health care bill has a provision that explicitly disallows the benefits it confers from flowing to illegal immigrants. So Joe Wilson is not only an uncouth coward, he's also an idiot. Well played, sir.

But is he any stupider than the various townhall attendees, who shout about socialism and fascism without realizing there's a remarkable difference between the two? And is he any stupider than those who elected him and who will, I'm sure, see his pathetic outburst as a source of pride? It's tough to make South Carolina look any worse than it already is, but Wilson sure found a way.

To be fair, I don't trust the liberals who argue that any dissent is based on a foundation of racism, either. It is a foolish message that is tantamount to crying wolf; if every dissent is racist, then we won't be able to rally the outrage necessary when the actual racism rears its ugly head.

Because honestly, contesting the President's country of birth? I don't care how rational you think your argument, it is the height of "The Other"-based fear. Obama is an Other! We have proof! By being an Other, his opinions and ideas are invalid!

It's such complete bullshit that I'm amazed people can stand it. I guess when you have a kernel of an idea at the core (the birth certificate) it just fuels the other issues that haven't found a place to take hold (the racism). But it's sad, and it makes me sad to see our country behave this way.

Then, it makes me angry and I want Obama to win EVERYTHING just to shut those racists bastards up. I gotta find a way to help on that front.

August 20, 2009

And Now For a Different Point-of-View

Even amongst you like-minded readers, I may get some heat for this one. No worries.

One of the big stories today is that the man convicted of the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 was released to return home to Libya. He has terminal cancer of some kind, and it was uniformly agreed he would not live beyond 3 months.

This guy (Megrahi) was convicted in 2001 so he hasn't been in prison very long. And you may recall, the 1988 bombing killed 270 people. But Scottish law--the plane crashed in Lockerbie, so he was tried/imprisoned by the Scots--allows "compassionate" releases of prisoners in Megrahi's situation.

Needless to say, pretty much everybody is against this. I've seen numerous firestorm opinions about how terrible a decision this was by the Scottish government. I've even seen no less than four Facebook status updates decrying his release.

I disagree. I think it's fine.

Why? Because why not. What purpose does it serve to have this man die in prison, as opposed to at home with his family? In fact, it only adds more vitriol and poison into the world. Had he died in prison, it'd be a minor news story and the victims of Flight 103 (the families of those lost) might pause a moment and be glad he's gone from the earth. But is it better that he die in prison? It adds nothing of value. It doesn't make the dead return to life, and it's not, as everyone has been screaming, justice that he die in prison.

Justice means that he was held accountable. I don't recall the specifics of his charges, or what he was ultimately convicted for, but he was caught, tried, and imprisoned. He was brought to justice. His illness makes it virtually impossible for him to cause harm again. Justice was served, and anything beyond that--wishing that he'd die in prison, sick and alone--is vengeance. Vengeance is unbecoming and, while it is an understandable desire for those who have been wronged, it serves no purpose. Vengeance adds nothing to our humanity, and is in fact only a reflection of the baser instincts we should strive to overcome.

I keep reading that Megrahi "didn't have compassion for the victims of 103, why should we give him any?" But compassion is easy to have when it involves your grandmother. It's much tougher to apply when the focus of the compassion is a man that by all accounts is a fairly evil guy. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't give him compassion. It makes us better people having done so.

August 6, 2009

At Least There No Humidity

Good lord, work is a beast lately. I hope you all didn't get too used to the constant blog updates.

When did August become the busiest month of the year, anyhow? We need to be more like Europe. Or the French. Whoever it is that takes half the summer off, I want to go to there.

July 29, 2009

More on Cops

That whole Gates dust-up is still going a bit, with Obama speaking at length on the subject during his press conference last week. And now the three of them (the President, Gates, and the police officer) are having beers or something. Which is a surprisingly pragmatic way to resolve things.

I am sure that this cop is not a bad person. I don't think Gates is a bad person. I think they were both on edge for different reasons, and as I said before, the duty falls to the police in that scenario to keep things rational. They screwed up by arresting him.

I don't have a problem with cops, in general. Lots of generalizations can be made about them, and I do suspect that many of the stereotypes about cops are "more true" in some areas of the country than in others. They have to be on guard all the time, and it leads to a pretty no-nonsense attitude that can be off-putting to the general citizenry.

Especially when the general public hasn't done anything wrong. As was the case with Gates, and as was the case with this guy in Mobile, Alabama, who is tasered and pepper-sprayed by the cops, and then arrested for not leaving a department store bathroom when told. That alone is already beyond stupid, but the clincher is that he was deaf and mentally challenged. Kudos all around, officers.

It's this kind of situation that gives cops a bad name. The inability to think outside the box for just a moment, and to go with brute force when several other possibilities exist. And then--and this is key--to refuse to admit a screw up when it happens. I don't know if it's pride, or some sort of face-saving attitude, but when cops arrive on the scene to find it is not a robbery, or burglary, or trespassing, they need to defuse and walk away. It may be the somewhat militaristic attitude that seeps into police work that gives rise to the "shoot first, ask questions later" attitude.

Again, I respect the need for safety and caution. When that gentleman in D.C. was shot to death after charging his car into a blockade a few weeks back, I thought it was a reasonable response by the cops. That is not analogous to either of the above situations; when there is danger to life and limb, the scenario is entirely different. I am sorry that man was killed, but it is not the fault of the police (from what I saw; if things came out later, I didn't hear about them).

But there's a difference, and we should expect the police, who are in a position of great authority in this country, to be able to distinguish between the situations. If someone is argumentative but in their house and not committing a crime, walk away. If someone won't come out of a department store bathroom, maybe you have to break the door down eventually but pepper spray? Tasers? Completely unnecessary. They should have busted down the door, recognized the situation, and taken the poor guy for ice cream before returning him home.

I know what it's like to have to stay "above reproach". It's a big part of practicing litigation (at least, the way I practice it) because the ultimate arbiter--the judge--usually appreciates when attorneys don't engage in shenanigans or try and pull one over on the court. Plus, when I lose (it happens, very occasionally) I can feel like I did my best in the situation.

It's not a perfect analogy to police work, but it's worth considering. Or, you can take a note from probably the greatest movie of all time: "Be nice. Ask him to walk. If he won't walk, walk him. But be nice. I want you to be nice until it's time to not be nice."

In Swayze We Trust.

July 27, 2009

Look, I'm a 50s-Era Ad Guy

Courtesy of AMC, here I am engaging in some ribald talk with Zoe Bartlett, highball in hand. Whenever I put together this kind of picture (like when you Simpsonize yourself, etc.) I am always sort of sad at how basically white I am. Brown hair, brown eyes, no real flair. Plus, I put myself in a suit, as is the custom of my profession, so I look even less interesting. But then I gave myself some tired looking eyes, which I think is accurate these days.

I actually just started watching Mad Men (the source of this pic) and while it was a little slow for a couple of episodes--perhaps because I was boned tired Saturday night--the beauty of Blu-Ray gave me 5 to watch on one disc, and I am now pretty hooked.

Why was I bone tired? Because I built this on Saturday:

That big wall on the right of the picture was already framed, but we sheetrock'd it and then raised it up, like the Amish and their barn shenanigans, but probably not as bearded.

Then we unloaded lumber and framed two more walls, including the one on the left, which we raised and centered and all that jazz. It was probably the most accomplished I've felt at a Habitat outing, simply because it was the structure instead of finishing (flooring or siding) that I'd done previously.

But boy howdy I was tired. And then on Sunday, exquisitely sore. In that really good way.