Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Wingmen in DC

Sound pretty horrific. This blog post is hilarious.

The weirdest emails I get are from Chuck E. Cheese

Last year for my 29th birthday, we partied at Chuck E. Cheese. Ever since I booked my group's reservation on line, I've been getting emails from Chuck regarding the goings-ons at his crib.

Last week, Chuck emailed me this offer:

Chuck E-Club Members,We all feel the pressure from rising gas prices at the
pump. To help, Chuck E. Cheese's is providing a $3 gas rebate in Tokens to our
exclusive Chuck E-Club members. Bring this coupon into a participating location
to receive 12 free Tokens.

Say what? $3 gas rebate tokens? What gas station would ever accept these? "Uh, can I get $47 of premium on tank one, plus another $3 worth I wanna pay for with this Chuck E. Cheese token?" For that matter, how could these tokens even be redeemed---doesn't everyone pay for gas by ATM card nowadays?

Then, just a few days ago, I find this in my inbox:

Dear Chuck E-Club Member,As one of our guests, we would like to provide you with
an important product advisory.

Chuck E. Cheese’s, in cooperation with official agencies, is investigating this
product for possible involvement in a fire or smoke inhalation incident. We
recommend that you unplug and not use this product until this investigation is
completed. As is true with all products that you purchase or receive at Chuck E.
Cheese’s, you may exchange the Manley Disco Light for a product of comparable
value if you are not completely satisfied.

Huh? Does this mean that, merely by plugging in the "Manley Disco Light" I'm risking death? What "official agencies" are investigating the Manley Disco Light, and where can I find the report?

Haditha . . . perspective?

Andrew Sullivan points to this article by a CNN journalist named Arwa Damon for "context" regarding the alleged Haditah massacres. Damon says she was embedded with the same unit now accused of murdering Iraqi women and children.

Read the article for yourself, but the only "context" I perceived was that Ms. Damon has lost any sense of journalistic objectivity. For example, take this passage:

I was with them in Husayba as they went house to house in an area where
insurgents would booby-trap doors, or lie in wait behind closed doors with an
AK-47, basically on suicide missions, just waiting for the Marines to come
through and open fire. There were civilians in the city as well, and the Marines
were always keenly aware of that fact. How they didn't fire at shadows, not
knowing what was waiting in each house, I don't know. But they didn't.

Uh, Ms. Damon, American soldiers are specifically trained to not fire at shadows. They are supposed to wait for proper rules of engagement before discharging their weapons. If they started shooting at shadows, one can only imagine the kind of humanitarian disaster we'd have on our hands in Iraq.

Here's how I feel: the vast majority of American soldiers are decent, well-trained fighters who perform an admirable, and heroic, service. But the Haditha massacre, if the alleged facts are proven true, is a shameful, horrific event that may eclipse even Abu Gahraib in its atrocities. Thankfully, the journalists at Time and elsewhere aren't quite as starry eyed -- and conflicted -- as CNN's Damon.

Sports and Politics

An interesting post by Dan Drezner discusses whether sport can really "stop a war," as Bono claims in the new ESPN ads for the World Cup. Drezner is skeptical.

Well, I don't know if sports can stop a war (though I'll be rooting for Ivory Coast in the hopes that it might). But I do know sports can profoundly affect politics and world affairs. When I lived in South Africa briefly, I asked many people if they felt the economic sanctions the world imposed had any affect on the quality of their lives. Without exception, the answer was no. Instead, South Africans -- white South Africans, that is -- said that what they hated was S. Africa's exclusion from international sporting events, and that this, more than anything, made the country come to loathe apartheid.

My expertise: Dog-bite litigation

Today, my law firm argued Priebe v. Nelson before the California Supreme Court.

The issue: Does the doctrine of primary assumption of the risk, as embodied in the so-called "veterinarian's rule," preclude a kennel worker who is bitten by a dog from recovering from the dog owner in strict liability?

Translation: If you take your dog to a kennel, and it bites a kennel worker, do you automatically have to pay the worker?

We successfully argued in the California Court of Appeal that dog owners should not -- repeat, not -- be absolutely liable to kennel workers. Among other things, such a rule would discourage dog owners from taking their dogs to kennels, and would impose liability for something over which the dog owner has no control.

Gauging from the comments of the Supreme Court Justices, my guess is we will win our case. We should have a published ruling in about six weeks or so.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Zimbabwe Catastrophe

Amnesty International has released photographs proving that Dictator Robert Mugabe bulldozed entire communities last year, leaving as many as 700,000 homeless:

Inflation is still running at 1900%. Approximately 90% of the population is below the poverty level (the African poverty level). Life expectancy has dropped from 55 years in 1980 -- when Mugabe came to power -- to around 30 years today.

Put simply, Zimbabwe is in the middle of a humanitarian disaster. There are a couple of things you can do:

1. Write your Congressional Representative to demand they take notice of what happens. (I just emailed Nancy "Curly Fries" Pelosi).

2. Write Nicolas Kristof of the NY Times, ask him to cover the story. (Not as outrageous as it seems -- Kristof has done an admirable job of keeping the Darfur disaster in the public conciousness.)

3. Donate money to Amnesty International. You don't even have to earmark it for Zimbabwe -- just contribute, and let the organization allocate as need warrants.

Jerry from San Francisco Auto Repair Center

I'm taking a class on fixing cars. This is a picture of my genius instructor, Jerry Lewis:

Could Jerry be more San Francisco?

Speaker Pelosi?

Ok, here's the deal: I want the Democrats to win control of the House and Senate, really I do. But the thought of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi -- she also doubles as my Congressional representative -- makes my skin crawl. Leaving aside her horrible public speaking skills, and her old-school leftist political beliefs, she's also an idiot (from the NY Times):

Ms. Pelosi said she slept little, stole exercise by dashing through
airports and subsisted many days on Ghirardelli chocolates ("less than 10" a
day) and pistachio nuts (which she shells with her teeth).

"I had a hamburger last night and it was my breakfast, lunch and dinner,"
she said last week.
"And I had these strange things. I realized they were French fries." She
made quick spiraling gestures with her fingers to show what they looked like.

It was apparent that she was not familiar with curly fries.

Strange things indeed.