Notes on how things seem to me from out here in Hollywood... As seen from Just Above Sunset
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Photos and text, unless otherwise noted, Copyright 2003,2004,2005,2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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Consider:

"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"







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Sunday, 1 August 2004

Topic: Photos

Heads Up!

The new issue of the virtual magazine (the webzine), the parent to this weblog, Just Above Sunset - Volume 2, Number 30 - was posted to the net a few hours ago.

Note -

Specials in the photography pages - the caged Lilac Cadillac of Sunset Boulevard and a cherry Harley-Davidson Electra-Glide, AND John Slater's shots from the Pasadena Street Art Festival, AND a film studio builds at fake hamburger stand on Sunset.

Much on current events - expanded versions of what first appeared on this web log - and some items that didn't - with new commentary from friends here and in France.

Bob Patterson is back as The World's Laziest Journalist and this week's quotes - Doctor Johnson on life, and others on war....

Current Events

Fixing Things: What to Make of the 9/11 Commission's Report

Book Notes: Social Darwinism as seen from Pasadena

UK Notes: Using the law to keep delusions under control... Us (US) as seen by them (UK).

Gloom and Doom: The Really Dismal Science and the Damned Invisible Hand

French Doctors: No one is neutral as you are with us or with the evildoers... regarding M?decins sans fronti?re

The Law: Lawsuits Destroying American Business (Trust the FDA?)

Sidebar: "How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child!"

Boston and the Election

Boston: What to do with the apolitical majority...

Asked in Boston: Cain's Question

Boston 2: Psychoanalysts for Peace and Justice!

Election Notes: Events NOT Occurring in Boston (Oklahoma and Florida)

Dissent: You won't see Dick, unless you say the magic words...

Dissent 2: Keeping the Press in line... [all new and not published previously here]

Features

WLJ Weekly: The World's Laziest Journalist - "Muster in Custer" or "East of Eden"?

Alabama: Audemus Jura Nostra Defendere

Quotes: Useful Pithy Observations... Doctor Johnson on life and others on war

Photography

Photography: Dislocations from the Present - the caged Lilac Cadillac of Sunset Boulevard and a cherry Harley-Davidson Electra-Glide...

Photography 2: The Pasadena Street Art Fair (as seen by John Slater)
Direct Link:

Photography 3: The faux White Castle on Sunset, three blocks from home...

Hollywood at its oddest...


Posted by Alan at 18:12 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
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Saturday, 31 July 2004

Topic: The Law

Alabama: Audemus Jura Nostra Defendere

Note this - the official Alabama motto -
"Audemus jura nostra defendere" has been translated as: "We Dare Maintain Our Rights" or "We Dare Defend Our Rights." This Latin phrase is on the state coat of arms completed in 1923.

According to a Birmingham News-Age Herald article by Marie Bankhead Owen (the director of the state Archives) dated April 23, 1939, she came upon the idea while searching for "a phrase that would interpret the spirit of our peoples in a terse and energetic sentence." A part of a poem entitled "What Constitutes a State?" by the 18th-century author Sir William Jones found in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations includes the stanza "Men who their duties know. But know their rights, and knowing, dare maintain." The motto was translated into Latin by Professor W. B. Saffold, of the University of Alabama.
And thereby hangs a tale...

CHAPTER ONE: The Manufacturer Cheers

Good Vibrations Celebrates Lift of Alabama Sex Toy Ban
Names Sex Toy "The Alabama Slammer"
San Francisco, CA -- October 3, 2002 -- An Alabama law banning the sale of sex toys was struck down this month by a federal judge as a violation of the right to privacy. "The fundamental right of privacy, long recognized by the Supreme Court as inherent among our constitutional protections, incorporates a right to sexual privacy," said U.S. District Judge Lynwood Smith Jr.

To celebrate this triumphant occasion, legendary San Francisco-based sex toy store Good Vibrations has re-named a popular bright red personal massager "The Alabama Slammer." Sex toy-starved Alabama residents can reclaim their right to own vibrators, dildos and other adult products by purchasing the vibrant red Alabama Slammer -- or any other Good Vibrations merchandise -- at a 15% discount during the month of November.

For the last four years Good Vibrations has supported the American Civil Liberties Union case against the Alabama sex toy ban. The 1998 law -- part of a package of legislation strengthening the state's obscenity law -- banned the sale of devices designed for "the stimulation of human genital organs."

In 2000, as part of an effort to raise awareness around the Alabama legislation, Good Vibrations collected an emergency supply of sex toys and collected nearly $10,000 worth of product from generous vendors to distribute to the unfortunate, toy-less masses in Alabama.

Good Vibrations, the "clean well-lighted place to buy sex toys," supports every person's right to sexual pleasure. Throughout the ban Good Vibrations argued that sex toys are not obscene and sexual gratification is indeed a basic human right.

As Good Vibrations Sexologist and author Dr. Carol Queen says, "Alabama may have maintained that 'there is no fundamental right to purchase a product to use in pursuit of having an orgasm,' but we strongly disagree, and have for the last four years. What exactly do they think the constitutional right to the pursuit of happiness means?"
I'm not sure the Founding Fathers had these products in mind. But the idea is clear - the government has no business legislating here. This is all a personal matter.

The counterargument might be that the state has a compelling interest in banning certain activities, no matter how private, as such activities create a permissive and perverse mindset or attitude that can do real, substantial and irreparable harm to the general good. Proving that certain harm might be difficult. Asserting that harm is not difficult. I suspect the idea is that sexual activity that is not directed toward procreation is a real problem. It leads to the breakdown of the family - the basic social unit. And that hurts everyone. Thus we should stop such private activity.

CHAPTER TWO: The Legislature Acts and Refuses to Remove the Ban

Link Expired - April 29, 2003 - Associated Press
The Alabama House voted against a bill Tuesday that would have removed a ban on sexual devices, such as vibrators, from the state's obscenity law. ....

A federal district judge in Birmingham has twice ruled that the ban is unconstitutional. The first ruling was overturned by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and the second ruling has been appealed to the appeals court.

... The sponsor of the bill, Rep. John Rogers, D-Birmingham, said because of the court ruling, the obscenity law is unenforceable as long as it contains the ban on sex toys....

With little serious discussion, the House voted 37-28 to leave the sex toys ban in state law, leaving Rogers standing at the microphone shaking his head. "What you just did is make our obscenity law illegal. You voted for obscenity,'' Rogers shouted at lawmakers.
Huh?

But I see what Rogers means. Leave this ban on these gizmos in the law and then the whole anti-obscenity law remains unconstitutional.

Well, they left the ban on these gizmos in the law - they thought it was important to the welfare of the state's citizens.

To hell with the courts!

CHAPTER THREE: The Stunning Reversal as a Federal Appeals Court Rules - The Constitution Does NOT Include a Right to Sexual Privacy

11th Circuit upholds Alabama sex toy ban
Jay Reeves - The Associated Press 7/28/2004, 5:22 p.m. CT
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) -- A federal appeals court Wednesday upheld a 1998 state law banning the sale of sex toys in Alabama, ruling the Constitution doesn't include a right to sexual privacy.

In a 2-1 decision, a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the state has a right to police the sale of devices including electronic vibrators and other products meant to stimulate the sex organs.

"If the people of Alabama in time decide that a prohibition on sex toys is misguided, or ineffective, or just plain silly, they can repeal the law and be finished with the matter," the court said. "On the other hand, if we today craft a new fundamental right by which to invalidate the law, we would be bound to give that right full force and effect in all future cases including, for example, those involving adult incest, prostitution, obscenity, and the like."

Circuit Judge Rosemary Barkett disagreed, writing that the decision was based on the "erroneous foundation" that adults don't have a right to consensual sexual intimacy and that private acts can be made a crime in the name of promoting "public morality."

"This case is not, as the majority's demeaning and dismissive analysis suggests, about sex or about sexual devices. It is about the tradition of American citizens from the inception of our democracy to value the constitutionally protected right to be left alone in the privacy of their bedrooms and personal relationships," Barkett wrote in her dissent.
Yeah, but she's a woman and thus may own, or even use one of these gizmos.

Note the court is saying that asserting this hypothetical Constitutional right to sexual privacy - by ruling that there may be such a right - they would be opening the doors to all sorts of evils like incest, prostitution, and, who knows, possibly sex with box turtles. It's that slippery slope, or slippery gizmo in this case.

CHAPTER FOUR: TBD

Above the federal appeals courts sit the nine justices of the US Supreme Court. Will the ACLU and the Good Vibrations folks find a way to move this up to the ultimate panel?

Can you imagine the oral arguments? (Don't even THINK it!) What a hoot! Scalia and Clarence Thomas (oh my!) discussing the "The Alabama Slammer" while Sandra Day O'Conner rolls her eyes? Maybe Anita Hill could argue the case for the ACLU and the Good Vibrations Corporation.

This could be great fun.

The moral Christian right conservatives in Alabama would have then made things difficult for the ruling Republican leaders of our country. Their mantra is keep government out of our lives. But does that mean an adventurous woman, alone at home, cannot make use of "The Alabama Slammer" because the government says so? Which is it - less government intrusion, or government mandated private behavior? Make up your mind.

What a pickle!

I can't believe I said that.

Posted by Alan at 20:33 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
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Friday, 30 July 2004

Topic: Couldn't be so...

You won't see Dick, unless you say the magic words...

This is just too cool!

Say you find yourself in Albuquerque this weekend. Why you would be in New Mexico is not relevant. Just say you are.

Dick Cheney will be in town - giving a rousing speech in defense of the administration. And say, hypothetically, you want to see this guy who works for us all, at the right hand of our president. And yes, we all pay him to do that with our tax dollars.

Well, this gets a bit tricky. It seems you must sign a sort of loyalty other to get in the door - saying that you "endorse Bush for reelection" [sic] and, additionally, that you consent to have your named listed by the Bush-Cheney Reelection Committee as an "endorser of President Bush."

I'm not sure this applies to the press covering the event, but probably not.

Read all about it here:
Obtaining Cheney Rally Ticket Requires Signing Bush Endorsement
Jeff Jones, The Albuquerque Journal, Friday, July 30, 2004

The gist of it?
Some would-be spectators hoping to attend Vice President Dick Cheney's rally in Rio Rancho this weekend walked out of a Republican campaign office miffed and ticketless Thursday after getting this news:

Unless you sign an endorsement for President George W. Bush, you're not getting any passes.

The Albuquerque Bush-Cheney Victory office in charge of doling out the tickets to Saturday's event was requiring the endorsement forms from people it could not verify as supporters.

State Rep. Dan Foley, R-Roswell, speaking on behalf of the Republican Party, said Thursday that a "known Democrat operative group" was intending to try to crash Saturday's campaign rally at Rio Rancho Mid-High School. He added that some people were providing false names and addresses and added that tickets for the limited-seating event should go to loyal Bush backers.

However, some who left the office off Osuna NE without tickets on Thursday said they're not affiliated with an operative group and should have a right to see their vice president without pledging their allegiance to Bush.

"I'm outraged at this. I'm being closed off by my own government. It's crazy," said East Mountains resident Pamela Random, who added that she is an unaffiliated voter.

John Wade of Albuquerque said he initially signed the endorsement but was having second thoughts before he even left the office. Wade, a Democrat, said he returned his tickets and demanded to get his endorsement form back.

"It's not right for me to have to sign an endorsement to hear (Cheney) speak," Wade said. "I'm still pissed. This just ain't right."
Why not? It is a Republican Party event.

You may have a right to hear just what your elected officials say about what they're doing and why they're doing it - but this may not be, really, a public forum.

It seems one John Sanchez, who is chairman of the Bush-Cheney re-election efforts in the area said he wasn't aware of the endorsement matter - and the item quotes him as saying he wouldn't be surprised if this was happening - but he said too that he works directly for the Bush-Cheney campaign and the rally is a Republican National Committee event.

Ah, two different organizations! John Sanchez isn't touching this one.

Of course the Kerry-Edwards folks issued a news release that asked, "Shouldn't all New Mexicans have the right to see their VP?" Yeah, but do they really want to see him?

And there's this -
Moses Mercado, head of the Kerry-Edwards campaign in New Mexico, was in Boston on Thursday for the Democratic National Convention. He challenged Republicans to open their event "to all New Mexicans."

"I love when they come to New Mexico, but I wish they'd talk to New Mexicans and let New Mexicans hear their plan," Mercado said. "Because I think they (New Mexicans) really are hungry. They want answers."

Foley countered that Republicans weren't invited to Kerry's nomination-acceptance speech Thursday evening at that convention. "This is a political event-- just like (Thursday night)," Foley said of Cheney's upcoming visit.

He said the Rio Rancho event is intended to "energize" Bush-Cheney supporters, and organizers don't want it disrupted. "We've received dozens and dozens of calls from Kerry-Edwards (supporters) who have used deceitful tactics to try and get in and disrupt this event," he said. "Our supporters have worked too hard to have an event like this get disrupted."

Security for Cheney's visit is exceptionally tight. There will be no parking at the school where he is to speak: rally participants will instead be shuttled to the event. Those without tickets, including protesters, are to be in a designated area across from the school.
So let's see here.... The big theme of the Democratic Convention this week was that we're all in this together, we're all Americans, so let all voices be heard (especially ours as you've been saying for almost three years now that those with questions and criticisms and suggestions are really on the side of the fanatical Islamic terrorists who want to kill everyone in the western world because they hate our freedoms.)

And this? A key policy-maker whose salary we all pay? We cannot hear what he has to say? We have to wait for a time when he chooses a neutral venue?

Most curious.

Add what you will here about Bush, Cheney, and yes Scalia, and a need for control and obedience - and a real loathing of any criticism from the little people who don't count. No need to belabor the point here. It's pretty obvious.

Okay? Got that out of your system?

And no, you didn't want to go to this rally, really. But New Mexico is really a pretty nice place and you could visit in happier and less contentious times - and really enjoy it.

Now is not the time. Be quiet. Say no sharp words. Go about your business.

Posted by Alan at 15:53 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
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Topic: Political Theory

No one is neutral as you are with us or with the evil doers...

M?decins sans fronti?re ("Doctors Without Borders") became the first major aid agency to quit Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban. That was Wednesday of this week.

I came across this odd comment from Jeff Stivers in an MSNBC column -
For the inside scoop on why Medecins sans Frontiers (pardon my mangled French) left Afghanistan, go check out some French papers. Or something filed by AFP. The main reason they left was because U.S. troops were issuing leaflets saying medical help would be withheld unless people started turning in, or ratting out, those the U.S. considers terrorists. MSF thought that to be very dangerous to their personnel. To say nothing of offensive. And I think they are right on both counts.
What?

We take this you're with-us-or-against us stuff to the medical level? Cooperate or no medical treatment for you, you evil one? And you doctors? You cannot be neutral. You are with us or against us - so make your choice.

No, that couldn't be.

The Associated Press wire on this says this is, well, kind of so.

Doctors aid group leaves Afghanistan over security
Stephen Graham - Associated Press Writer - 07/29/04
KABUL, Afghanistan - Medecins Sans Frontieres became the first major aid agency to quit Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban, saying Wednesday that the government failed to act on evidence that local warlords were behind the murder of five of its staff.

The Nobel prize-winning medical relief group, also known as Doctors Without Borders, denounced the U.S. military's use of aid to persuade Afghans to snitch on insurgents, saying it risked turning all relief workers into targets. It was also dismayed that Taliban rebels tried to claim responsibility for the June 2 attack on its staff.

''We feel that the framework for independent humanitarian action in Afghanistan at present has simply evaporated,'' said Kenny Gluck, MSF's director of operations. There is a ''lack of respect for the safety of aid workers.''

The withdrawal of Medecins Sans Frontieres, which had 80 international volunteers and 1,400 Afghan staff in the country before the June attack, is the most dramatic example yet of how poor security more than two years after the fall of the Taliban is hampering the delivery of badly needed aid.

More than 30 aid workers have been killed here since March 2003, rendering much of the south and east off-limits.

... A purported Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility, and accused the victims of working for American interests - a shock to MSF, which relies on neutrality to protect staff who venture into war zones.

... The aid group ... called on the U.S. military to halt its expanding use of humanitarian work to win over skeptical Afghans.

U.S. and NATO troops are running a string of so-called Provincial Reconstruction Teams across the country, setting up clinics, digging wells and doing other work normally carried out by civilians.
The military apologized in May for distributing leaflets telling Afghans that they had to provide information on militants if they wanted assistance to continue.

Blurring the distinction ''puts all aid workers in danger,'' MSF secretary-general Marine Buissonniere said.

The U.S. military said the protests were misguided.

''We don't put anyone in danger,'' spokesman Maj. Jon Siepmann said. Many aid groups were working effectively alongside American troops, he said. Others ''need to direct their concern towards the Taliban, towards al-Qaida. We do nothing here but help.''
Summary? It got too dangerous. And one of the reasons it got too dangerous was that there was lots of talk floating around - from us - that all this aid and medical stuff was fine, but unless the locals got serious about giving up the evil ones among them, there was going to no more of it.

Medecins Sans Frontieres wanted to be neutral - and just provide medical services in one sorry part of the world. We maintain no one is neutral. So they left, before more of them died.

The AFP- the French press agency - late in the week had only a brief item on its English language service. And it contained this -
The United States said it "regretted" a decision by Medecins Sans Frontieres to pull out of Afghanistan for security reasons and asked the aid organization to reconsider the move.

At the same time, the State Department denied MSF charges that U.S.-led stabilization forces now in Afghanistan were using humanitarian aid to further political and military goals.

In announcing the move, MSF, known in English as Doctors without Borders, blamed the Afghan government for failing to protect aid workers and chase militants who killed five of its staff last month.

It also accused the U.S.-led forces of blurring the boundaries between aid workers and military personnel and "endangering the lives of humanitarian workers and jeopardizing aid to people in need."
Well, this all begs the question. Can medicine be neutral in a time of war, or ever, really? Isn't caring for the sick or injured or halt or lame or all the rest, really, a political act? What if the fellow you fix-up and make all better is someone who knows someone who is a bad guy? Have you, the doctor who treated him, not then become one of these terrorists yourself?

Interesting questions.

___

The French Press?

Afghanistan : M?decins sans fronti?res plie bagage
Le Figaro - 28 juil 2004
Cela faisait presque vingt-quatre ans que M?decins sans fronti?res (MSF) y ?tait implant?. Mais hier, l'organisation a annonc? ...

Les humanitaires en crise identitaire
Lib?ration - 28 juil 2004
Deux mois apr?s l'assassinat de cinq de ses collaborateurs en Afghanistan, M?decins sans fronti?res a annonc? hier le retrait de ses ?quipes du pays ?pour ...

M?decins sans fronti?res va quitter l'Afghanistan
Nouvel Observateur - 28 juil 2004
KABOUL (AP) -- M?decins sans fronti?res (MSF) a annonc? mercredi son d?part d'Afghanistan, apr?s le meurtre de cinq de ses employ?s d?but juin. ...

Afghanistan: MSF quitte le pays
France 2 - 28 juil 2004
MSF, suite ? l'assassinat d?but juin de cinq de ses employ?s dans le nord-ouest de l'Afghanistan, a annonc? mercredi sa d?cision de se retirer. ...

M?decins sans fronti?re se retire d'Afghanistan
L'Express - 27 juil 2004
KABOUL (AFP - 07:32) - L'organisation humanitaire M?decins sans fronti?re (MSF) va se retirer d'Afghanistan, suite ? l'assassinat d?but juin de cinq de ses ...

And so on...

Posted by Alan at 15:10 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
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Thursday, 29 July 2004

Topic: Photos

The End of July

From Hollywood looking at downtown Los Angeles, across a carpet of palm trees.


Posted by Alan at 21:14 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
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