Thursday, June 29, 2006

Random Redistricting Fun

While a new effort to reform redistricting winds its way through the Legislature, here's a post on a recent water district remap that's caused a few waves:

To create a Latino majority in one division and a black plurality in another in a move some saw as needed to comply with the Voting Rights Act, the West Basin district board had to break with its tradition of keeping cities largely intact within their respective divisions.

More From The "You Deserve Cancer" Files

Reading just the first graf of this article on a government advisory panel's decision to recommend vaccinating girls as young as 9 against HPV makes me want to run my head against the wall in frustration:

Taking up a potentially explosive issue among religious conservatives, an influential government advisory panel Thursday recommended that 11- and 12-year-old girls be routinely vaccinated against the sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer.
Dear religious conservatives: Jesus doesn't want your daughter to get cancer. That's why he made doctors and scientists (and, by the way, the Catholic version of the Bible even says God made doctors, you might want to listen to them). How anyone, parent or not, could hesitate for so much as a second over whether to vaccinate their child against a potential cancer will forever be beyond my comprehension.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Hat Tip

A fond, Phoblog tip of the hat in memory of TV producer and creator of so much important pop culture: Thanks, Aaron Spelling. I will say, without irony, that you will be missed.

Once more for old time's sake: Donna Martin graduates!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

News From The North

One reader tipped us off to the fact that the Canucks are debating a measure to raise the age of consent 2 years. To 16. 16! Meaning it's 14 right now, for those of you law types who "don't do math."

Supporters of the move say its needed to protect kids from web predators. Opponents, according to this article, blast the bill they say will "drive young lovers underground."

Are you telling me that Canadian yoots are so advanced, so progressive and open, that fourteen year-olds are open about their sexual exploits?

The article goes on to address some of the more interesting consequences of the bill - along with some more interesting unaddresses concerns facing same-sex, younger couples under the proposed bill and existing antiquated laws.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Moving Day Forecast

When I pack my belongings on Saturday morning it will be a mild, perfect, San Francisco 75.

When I unpack my belongings on Saturday afternoon, it will be mild, temperate Sacramento 108.

And Sacramentans, here's a tip: it is not a damn dry heat.

But heat or no heat - here's some Sactown news that might interest readers. I'm - to continue with the theme of this post - taking the town's temperature about adding another blog to this swiftly growing valley of ours. Stay tuned for more information - and if you're an attentive reader, you can guess the potential plan, so drop me a line via the link in the sidebar.

Monday, June 19, 2006

And By 5:35, I Was A Lawyer

That's me and State Senator S. Joseph Simitian, for whom I worked during the Hastings Legislation Clinic and who was kind enough to administer the oath. With just a simple sentence and a few signatures, 3 and a half years of school (well, 3 and that false start bit in 2004, you're welcome, John Kerry), 3 months of bar cramming, 3 months of waiting for the results, and a sum of money I really hate thinking about, all came to a close.

Anyone feeling a bit more litigious today? I know I am . . . .

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Phoblog Feminist Nag Of The Week: Up, Coming, and Male

Capitol Weekly has presents an article of 24 Up and Comers. The list includes several fabulous Phoblog readers (coincidence? you be the judge), but out of the 24, only 4 are women.

That's a pretty small percentage.

I know lists such as this one can't be endlessly long, but I bet with a bit more searching - even a teensy bit - the publication's staff could have dug up a few more examples of women who might also be setting the pace in the state that sets the pace for the nation.

Just a thought.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Supreme Court Rejects Old Rule, Miss Manners

In what could be a fatal blow to etiquette fans throughout the nation, the Supreme Court pretty much did away with the 4th Amendment's knock-and-announce requirement.

BarBri students everywhere commented, "so what - they can't test on it this year."

On the other hand, parents now have a fitting Constitutionally validated comeback line in privacy arguments at home. Joining "it's a free country" in the list of legal arguments hurled during familial arguments, American parents gratefully thanked the Supreme Court today for providing them with a response to "don't you knock!"

Thursday, June 15, 2006


You may notice that the sidebar is a bit different today. I've moved the Flickr badge to the bottom of the column mainly because I haven't bothered to update the public set to which the links direct in quite awhile and even I'm board with the same few photos cycling around and around. I've also dumped the Phubar link, though the site is still there. Metroblogging gets higher building because they rock and they need the traffic. And I've dumped the "recent post" header because I doubt anyone scrolled through that anyway.

All that and a few bio revisions make the site 100% the same as it was before, but a bit not.

Of course the biggest upcoming changes will all be substantive and once I figure out exactly what those will be, you'll be the first to know. Promise.

Devil Of A Book

So, The Devil Wears Prada: The Movie is coming out soon with endearing princess diarest Anne Hathaway as its star and the excellently chosen Ms. Streep as said Devil.

Problem: the commercials alone imply that the central character will be entirely too human a figure - a far cry from the meant-to-be-sympathetic star of the book, a woman who alternated between dishrag, doormat, and just plain awful. It could be a fun, light, Legally Blonde-esque tale of chick power in the publishing world - and I hope it is.

Though, just to be clear, that would be a fate far better than that lousy excuse for a book deserved.

And speaking of book reviews: stay tuned for my take on "The Shangri-La Diet," one of the more amusing volumes of pseudo-science to make its way into the diet-book market.

Of course, one fantasy I have about my upcoming Next Phase of life is that, without homework, I can finally begin to work my way through the ever-growing stack of good books gathering dust on my nightstand. Soon, my pretties. Soon.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Dog Bites Man News Of The Day

Department of Homeland Security is making things difficult for people trying to follow the law. Crazy thought, isn't it?

According to the article, there are 10,000 or so couples awaiting approval of their fiance visas - approval that been delayed by months because Homeland Security can't get a damn form reprinted with two additional questions mandated by a law that took effect March 6.

The lack of questions on the form means those who have filled out the out-dated form - which was their only option to fill out since the new ones haven't been printed yet - can't possibly be granted their visas because they have turned in incomplete information.

Heartbreak - American style.

(You know what, though, why is this Homeland Security? I thought visas come from the State Department. Free dinner with Phoblog goes to the first immigration law expert, attorneys welcomed, who can explain this muddled system to me and give me the contact information for the exact office at which the buck stops.)

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Packing It On

The SF Chron has a nice piece on how to pack for weeks-long travel in one carry-on bag. If you're a dude. If you're a girl, or a guy who cares what he looks like, this "one pair of shoes" plan only really works for hiking trips.

The full article makes some good points, but the sample pack list is for a very specific kind of person - and I'm not it.

Friday, June 09, 2006

America: Where We Prefer Cancer To The Possibility Of Premarital Sex

There's a VACCINE that prevents most cases of cervical cancer, but why celebrate the medical advancement when you can use the time to debate 'family values'?

A federal advisory committee is expected to decide by the end of the month whether the first-ever vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration on Thursday to prevent most cases of cervical cancer should be given to all girls before they have sex and are exposed to the virus that causes the cancer.
Why don't we wait until after they have sex and are likely exposed to HPV?

But physicians note that parents may be troubled by giving their young daughters a vaccine for a sexually transmitted disease, and several conservative groups, while supporting the vaccine, said they would challenge efforts to make immunization mandatory.

"It's going to take a little time to get used to," said Dr. Jacob Lalezari, a UCSF physician who conducted tests of the vaccine on Bay Area volunteers. "The dads may be inclined to look at their young daughters as asexual creatures, but moms will understand. Moms have been going to gynecologists. They've had it ingrained in them that it's serious."

Cervical cancer is the second-most common cancer among women worldwide, and the third-most fatal, causing 290,000 deaths a year. It is rare in the United States, where regular screening for adult women catches most pre-cancerous cases, and about 3,700 women die of cervical cancer every year.

But the disease that causes cervical cancer -- the human papilloma virus, which can also cause genital warts -- is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States, infecting up to 80 percent of women by the age of 50.

Gardasil, which is made by pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co., prevents infections from two strains of human papilloma virus that cause 70 percent of cervical cancer cases. It also prevents infection from two more strains that cause 90 percent of cases of genital warts.

The FDA approved the vaccine for girls and women ages 9 to 26. Ideally, girls would get the vaccine between the ages of 10 and 12, before they become sexually active, because the vaccine is less effective once a woman has been exposed to the virus.
Someone explain to me why parents would prefer to pretend their daughter would never, ever have any kind of sexual contact instead of helping to protect her from CANCER? Vaccinating youngsters doesn't give them a pass to have sex, it just makes sense both from an effectiveness point of view and it makes sense to vaccinate around the same years they are vaccinated against other diseases, no? There are rounds of shots when you're a toddler, more when you're an pre-teen.

I can still remember how my first tetanus shot made me run out and stab myself with rusty nails.

Here's what makes my blood boil especially hard:

"This vaccine is a tremendous medical breakthrough that may save millions of lives around the world, and we celebrate it. But we do oppose mandatory vaccination," said Linda Klepacki, a sexual health analyst with Focus on the Family. "We see it as a parental rights issue. This is a sexually transmitted infection. It can be prevented by practicing the best health behaviors by abstinence and faithfulness in marriage."
Except for the rare forms that cause outwardly symptomatic genital warts, HPV is almost completely asymptomatic in men.

So your saintly daughter may have made to her wedding day in a pure white dress, but if her husband messed around even a bit along the way: your daughter will be as unprotected as if she'd been hooking up with men for years. STDs are not punishment for premarital sexual encounters. They are infectious diseases that, in this rare instance, for a few forms, we can vaccinate our children against.

This is NOT a parental rights issue. This is NOT an abstinence or healthy behaviors issue. This has nothing to do with faithfulness in marriage. This is a smart medical move that only negligent parents would forgo.

I wonder why those against making the vaccine mandatory believe that a wedding ring prevents the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Sex is not the death of daughters. There is a vaccine for a form of cancer. That there's any discussion over its moral implications should shame us all.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Did I Ever Tell You About My Donut Complex?

Besides the point.

Via Amber's blog, this post on post/comment frustration common to bloggers. It's true: the hastily dashed out bits of fluff generate the most comments. The posts over which we labor yield nothing at all. That's a downer.

The special draw of the linked post, however, is the parody comment exchange on the faux post. It's done so very well.

But I agree with Amber, stupid overly-refrigerated sandwich wraps are hard to eat elegantly and they always taste like paste and old turkey.

Donuts are fine.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

'SN' Stands For Situation Normal, This Sitch Was Never Normal

Tonight, I caught a story on ABC World News Tonight that is headlined online, "Princeton Salutatorian Caught in Immigration Snafu".

When I heard the teaser, I was prepared to feel bad for, and angry on the behalf of, Princeton graduate Danel Padilla Peralta.

Danel came to the US from the Dominican Republic when he was 4 on a short term visa while his mother sought medical care. They stayed. Hardly an unfamiliar story, I'm guessing. This kid is impressive as hell: he fell in love with the classics and his studies of ancient Greece and Rome led to scholarships to prep schools and eventually to Princeton.

He did all this despite his undocumented status.

At this point in the story, I am imagining some horrific deportation scenario.

But Danel's problem? He's been offered a fellowship at Oxford in England and if he steps foot outside the US, he'll have to stay gone for 10 years.

Catch-22? Sure.

But what the on-air story did not mention, and depsite implying more information could be found on-line, the linked article above is the broadcast story verbatim, is how this kid, now the subject of a national news broadcast is NOT the subject of current deportation proceedings.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying he should be deported, but as much as I empathize with anyone stuck in ICE hell, if this kid's biggest problem is that he's managed to stay in the US for over 20 years, benefit from generous scholarships, obtain a fantastic education, and no one is trying to kick him out, but he can't leave with recognizing his illegal status . . . well, my empathy takes a nose-dive.

Is Danel facing a "fair" decision? Depends on your point of view.

His attorney is petitioning for a waiver to allow him to return - but I can't help wondering why he's not asking for some kind of special bill to make him American so he can travel freely and without worry? I don't understand the processes available to him nor the ones working against him, I'll admit. But this story is 100% anecdotal "woe is him," and 0% productive discussion on the real laws, regulations, and enforcement proceedings at work.

Somewhat selfishly, the story angers me because this kid is here and bemoaning the potential loss of an opportunity that would benefit him tremendously, but if he misses out, at least he's still with his loved ones in the US. He broke the law - regardless of how you feel about the underlying policy. Rob, however, arguably broke no laws and certainly benefited from no one's scholarship money or education opportunity. He doesn't want to scam a job off a hard working American. He doesn't want welfare. He wants to be able to tour the country and dump his highly valuable pounds sterling into our local economy. But he can't. So Danel can cry me a river.

That's harsh. The kid should be able to come back to where his family is because the system is so wholly broken and misapplied we should let it be the reason his brain drains to another country permanently.

But two demerits for ABC News for leaving out massive parts of the story and playing solely on pathos. I'm sure Danel could've written it better.

Dear Future Secretary Of State

Regardless of who wins the primary today and the general in November, can I put in a request now? Well, it's a request of both the SoS and my County Registrar/Recorder.

My in-booth voting experience just should not look like this, should it?

Take a look. See those little line I drew to help resolve the confusing, improperly-lined-up bubbles? Now factor in the parallex angle error that would come from standing next to, looking down at the ballot from an angle. I had to hover directly over the ballot and then double check everything by counting the bubbles.

Good thing I have relatively decent eyesight and the patience for such things.

Please get on that.


Okay Kids, Go VOTE

It's Election Day. Go Vote. Lots of choices out there. Who doesn't love choices?

Remember all those times you texted for Taylor? Yeah, voting for real things is even more fun.

Don't know where to vote? Don't know on what you'll be voting? Click here.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Another Thought On Gay Marriage, Institutions, And Talking Points

Google news is tossing up links to all kinds of articles about Bush's recent statements regarding the proposed amendment against gay marriage. He's called it the most fundamental institution of civilization that shouldn't be redefined by activist judges.

So, while we're on the topic of fundamental institutions of civilization, I'm wondering if we could prioritize a few and maybe come up with a list of things we'd like to protect and the ones we can live without.

So this debate comes from, if the talking points are to be believed, various state court rulings overturning state marriage laws.

We've got fundamental institution one, representative democracy, up against fundamental institution number two, the courts and divided government, up against fundamental institution number there, marriage.

We're fighting around the world to ensure that democracy takes root. But we'll go ahead and undo the process here at home (no, kids, the courts count as part of our democracy, remember, that whole 3 branches thing) to . . . uh . . . "protect" marriage.

Divorce, however, still totally cool and usually no one's fault.

If marriage is so fundamental, so integral to the human experience, why isn't it a bigger part of our goals abroad? I don't hear it mentioned often in foreign relations discussions. I don't hear concerns about family values and strong marriages in Iraq.

Strong, heterosexual marriages are the most important thing. Ever. Whatever those marriages look like, however long they last, doesn't really matter. Just so long as they start with one biological male and one biological female, everything else is irrelevant.

Like democracy.

And the rule of law.

FIFA World Cup Calendar

Following up from my previous world cup post - here's the calendar, the world time zone calculator, and, for when that doesn't make any sense, so you can select from the many English or Spanish language broadcasts available without having to install a satellite dish.

Univision, ABC, I thank you.

'A pitiful political ploy'

From the Arizona Republic, on the gay marriage amendment debate.

Random Primary Thoughts

You can find poll data matching various candidates in battles against each other both intra- and inter-party.

But the statistic I'd most like to see?

What percentage of Californians can correctly spell the names of the Governor and his top two opponents?

Are You Ready For Some Football?

As this SF Chron article illustrates, Americans, with generally diverse backgrounds, root for diverse teams. It's not that we don't love Team USA - but, historically, our men's team didn't always make it to the big games (or the little ones I guess).

So we have alternative favorites. I like to think it's a way to connect with the world. Growing up with an Italian grandmother, Italy was always a household favorite. In the past, I've flirted with Russia and of course supported my best friend's beloved Croatian team (my best friend's and half my hometown's favorite, that is). Now, England will certainly be on my watch-list as the games heat up.

In 1994, I watched practically every game broadcast since they were held in the US and I was laid up on the couch recovering from knee surgery. And I saw the American women beat China at the Rose Bowl in 2000 - that was a game.

Check out the FIFA World Cup site here - or go straight to the groups and standings here. Geography not so hot? There's a map too.

Teams on my watchlist: USA, Italy, Croatia, England, and perhaps Switzerland because I had such a great time there, and maybe Iran - just for kicks.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Craigslist Sociology

While I prepare for my impending move and make a list of things I'll need for my new pad, I surf various craigslist sites and note that while furniture for sale in Sacramento or San Francisco are listed with average, descriptive titles such as "Glass Top Coffee Table," or "Moving sale, all items must go," furniture in Los Angeles is sold under the headings "divorce sale" or "from the ashes of a dying relationship . . . cheap furniture!"

Maybe it's an industry thing.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Timing Is Everything

Dammit - so many good ads about which to comment. Naturally this post would come on the heels of the previous one - but nevermind that. I just learned that the insurance commissioner has a new program to end zip code pricing and that I should visit his website at

I swear I hear that guy's name with regard to something else . . . what was it, what was it . . . .

I won't be posting about primary races, so you won't read any negative comments about creative timing of office-related ads when the office-holder's name appears on the ballot in a few days regardless of it being for a different office nor will you read any comments about the commercial that came approximately 10 spots later featuring the same office-holder but this time in a candidate capacity - but I'm sure someone will take care of it for me.

(Clearly there is going to be an adjustment period here.)

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

This blog has been rather quiet during the past few months, as you may have noticed (or may not have, due to the slow posting pace). While there's little I enjoy more than tending to this site, graduation, BarBri, the Bar, travel, and life each took their rightful place in the pecking order - and that place was over this blog.

Unfortunately or fortunately - depending on your point of view - the silences may become more frequent, if not permanent. No wait, permanent is a strong word - let's avoid it best we can.

I've stood by my words here - as well as my changes of opinion - and have signed my name to every post I've written. But there was never a question that Phoblographer* would change in character at some point. And there probably wasn't much question the said point would come when I accepted a job in Sacramento. Any job. All jobs.

It's been a hectic and hurried two weeks or so. I returned from Europe, having had a great time (but having failed to help solve a little argument with the US State Department). I found out I passed the bar on the first night of my college reunion. The following Monday I read about, inquired about, and ended up applying for a job. By Friday, I had interviewed for the job. By the following Tuesday afternoon, I had accepted their offer of employment. This morning, I all but inked a lease on shiny new Sacramento digs.

To borrow a friend's words, I am "one lucky bastard." I recognize this and am grateful beyond words for this employment blessing.

Starting in a few weeks, I will be working in-house for a statewide association that shall remain nameless here on the site. The reluctant law student is going to practice law. I never expected this opportunity - but I'm very excited about starting my career in Sacramento. The best things come from following unplanned routes (see e.g.: West Virginia; late law school graduation; Lake Tahoe).

But the blog will change.

It makes me a little sad. But it's okay. It won't go away and it isn't a forbidden project - but discretion is the better part of practice. I can't, and won't, let representing my opinions get in the way of representing my clients.

To my loyal readers, thank you for reading, disagreeing, arguing, linking, emailing, and for helping make this little addiction so satisfying. It's been fun. It's also gotten me through law school and other little bumps along the way.

So, uh, It's not you, it's me. I hope we can still be friends. Please know that the time we've spent together has been meaningful and fulfilling.

Phoblographer* isn't over, but its next phase is TBD at this time.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Google-Provided Quote Of The Day

Always worth repeating:

"If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you.
- Oscar Wilde"