May 30, 2007

$33 Million Will Brighten Any Day [LINK]

A secretary sued the New York law firm that employed her for $33 million, claiming that her seasonal affective disorder (winter blues) is a disability that requires accommodation in the form of a desk with a window view.

(via Overlawyered)

May 25, 2007

"a dreamlike beauty overwhelming the sordidness of the subject matter" [LINK]

From a review of the movie Zoo, syndicated by the Agence France-Presse, May 22, 2007. The film, which showed at the Cannes film festival, is a quasi-documentary about a ring of Washington state men who, until they were rounded up in July 2005, practiced bestiality. At that time a 45-year-old Boeing worker named Kenneth Pinyan was fatally wounded after being anally penetrated by a stallion.

"They've crafted a subdued, mysterious and intensely beautiful film that presents bestiality not for the purpose of titillation -- but as a way of investigating the subjective nature of morality," the movie trade magazine Variety wrote.

The men heard in the film are remarkably honest about their motivations. One of them argues "mammal to mammal" love should not be seen as wrong.

Another firmly rejects the tag "bad person" his employer lays upon him before he is sacked. They all say the horses were willing participants.

Indeed, the only judgement seemingly expressed in the documentary is not on the matter in the stable at all. It is in fleeting radio references to US President George W Bush's "war on terror" and the presumed complicity-for-profit of big companies such as Boeing.

Even the cast ended up feeling compassion for the men depicted in Zoo.

John Paulsen, who played Pinyan, said he believed the engineer had been on a self-destructive streak linked to his defence work, a divorce and injuries from a motorcycle accident.

(via Anchoress)

May 21, 2007

"I thought I heard one of them snore." [LINK]

In should be taught in writing workshops as an example of a snappy lead-in, Village Voice dance critic Deborah Jowitt opens one of her reviews:

Would it interest you to know that Google posts 638,000 entries relating to "clusterfuck?" The title and content of Levi Gonzalez's eponymous new work could be pinned to quite a few of them, which fact is, in itself, a sort of clusterfuck. Leaving out the word's reference to a sexual daisy chain, it encompasses all kinds of mess, complexity, confusion, anarchy, and possibly deadly screwups (think Iraq).

May 14, 2007

"Coakley to fight for gay marriage" [LINK]

Today's letter to The Globe:

I was puzzled by a recent report on Attorney General Martha Coakley's comments before the Massachusetts Lesbian & Gay Bar Association. Coakley vowed that if the proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage were to be approved by voters in 2008 after passing a second legislative vote, she would direct her office to vigorously challenge it "on constitutional grounds."

It seems appropriate for the Attorney General to offer her legal opinion to the legislature or the voters at large that the amendment is incompatible with the spirit of the existing Constitution. But it makes little sense to challenge an approved constitutional amendment in subsequent litigation on constitutional grounds, since the whole point of the amendment process is to change the existing state of constitutional jurisprudence. If the amendment passes, isn't it Coakley's duty to uphold the Constitution, rather than select those portions with which she agrees?

From reading the Globe's report, I don't understand the legal principle under which the Attorney General operates.


5/20 Update: It made it, though stripped of qualifiers that expressed my ignorance on the legal issues involved. I'm further puzzled why you would initial-cap the word "Legislature," but not "constitution."

Playground Wood Chips Violate Disability Law [LINK]

A federal judge ruled that Contra Costa County school district's use of playground wood chips violates the rights of wheelchair-bound students by making it difficult to access play structures. Instead, schools are obliged to use rubber mats, which are eight times more expensive and which playground designers say are not as safe.

(via Overlawyered)

Starbucks Exploits Migrant Workers! (again) [LINK]

As noted in an earlier post, Starbucks offers a program allowing 18 lucky customers each year to travel to Central America to engage in unpaid back-breaking labor "on steep slopes," all in the interest of environmental sustainability. This year's printed brochure goes a step further: "winners" will work at CoopeTarrazú, a coffee plantation that in turn is a major supplier to Starbuck's.

Isn't that a bit like McDonald's offering customers a chance to travel to Idaho to harvest potatoes used to make their french fries? Shouldn't these people at least get a year of free coffee or something other than the promise of a "meaningful" or "relevant" experience? If the coffee producer were found to have benefited from underpaid labor on the part of migrant Indians coming in from the jungles of Nicaragua or Panama, wouldn't that put their product's status as "fairly traded" in serious question? (In fact, the region's coffee is among the world's most expensive, due in large part to the Costa Rican government's intervention on behalf of producers.)

May 13, 2007

Bake Sale Proposal [LINK]

A letter to the Boston Globe, a perfect expression of glibness, sarcasm, and overall lack of seriousness:

Now that President Bush has vetoed one supplemental appropriation bill and threatens to veto others, the question arises of how he might get this money. We on the left have been suggesting the solution for years: bake sales. This is how the rest of us support art programs in our schools and obtain money for classroom supplies and field trips. Maybe some of his big Republican donors would be willing to bid a few hundred thousand dollars for an extra-large brownie. While fighting a war is not the same as buying crayons , the petulant tantrums that Bush throws whenever Congress tries to set limits certainly fit better in my son's day-care center than in the White House.

Zimbabwe to Lead on Economic Progress, Says U.N. [LINK]

The chairmanship of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development is set to be taken over by none other than Zimbabwe. The pariah nation's inflation rate of 2,200 percent is currently the world's highest; unemployment runs between 80 and 90 percent; food is in severely short supply; electricity runs only about 4 hours a day; and human rights abuses are rampant. The authoritarian regime of Belarus is also expected to win a seat on the commission.

(via Powerline)

Penguin May Suffer Discrimination [LINK]

From a BBC News item about a lone penguin found in Peru, thousands of miles away from its normal habitat in the southern straits of Chile:

Scientists say they fear that the solitary Magellanic penguin may not be accepted by some of the area's 4,000 Humboldt penguins.

Biologist David Orosco told AFP news agency that the native birds may even try to reject the penguin.

"Conditions in the park are not the ones it is used to. They usually seek out their own species, and it could suffer discrimination," Mr Orosco said.

(via Tim Blair)

May 7, 2007

French Election in a Nutshell [LINK]

There's a certain poetic quality to this paragraph from the New York Times. It opens like a flower, then turns in on itself:

Hours after the election results were announced, the police fired tear gas at crowds throwing bottles at Place de la Bastille in Paris. There were minor outbreaks of violence in some suburbs, with some youths burning cars, the police said. But the clashes were not significantly different from most weekends, the police said.