Friday, May 30, 2008

In which Islamophobia now applies to Rachel Ray

First, the headline: "US chain drops 'terror scarf' ad"

The BBC reports that Dunkin Donuts has dropped an online ad featuring Rachel Ray (pictured below, in an AP photo via BBC) because she is--wait for it--wearing a "terrorist scarf".

She was wearing a black-and-white checked scarf around her neck that resembled a traditional Arab keffiyeh.

This fashion choice incensed at least one prominent conservative blogger, who said it evoked extremist videos.

The blogger, Michelle Malkin, called the garment "a regular adornment of Muslim terrorists appearing in beheading and hostage-taking videos".


"Fashion statements may seem insignificant, but when they lead to the mainstreaming of violence - unintentionally or not - they matter," Ms Malkin has written.

Malkin's bald-faced lunacy can be read here: "Of donuts and dumb celebrities" and "The keffiyeh kerfuffle". She actually calls it--wait for it--"hate couture". Somebody typed the words "hate couture" and meant them seriously!

Wikipedia has a good article on the Keffiyeh--both as a symbol and, oh yeah, a traditional and practical accessory all over the Muslim world, and outside it too. (British soldiers wear it, clearly in support of terrorism.)

By this logic, the following items are now clearly supportive of terrorism:

  • Balaclavas
  • Arabic writing
  • Urdu writing
  • Olive green
  • White
  • Black
  • Khaki
  • Vests
  • Cargo pants
  • Jackets
  • Orange
  • Banners
  • Standard military camouflage (woodland version)
  • Turbans
  • Facial hair
  • Appearing on videotape

Nice job, Captain Crazypants. I feel much safer, now that I can identify my enemy. Of course, it appears that my enemy is just about everyone...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

In which I discover something fabulous, that's not studying for the bar exams

Okay so, newsflash, I love me some criminal procedurals. I also love me some sci-fi. And I have discovered a treasury of both!

Shadow Unit is an episodic series of stories, strongly reminiscent of Criminal Minds but with an oogedy-boogedy component. To quote the site:

The FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit hunts humanity's nightmares. But there are nightmares humanity doesn't dream are real.

The Behavioral Analysis Unit sends those cases down the hall.

Welcome to Shadow Unit.

AWESOME. I have read two episodes so far and je suis une admiratrice.

Monday, May 26, 2008

TORONTO STAR briefly confuses CHILDREN OF MEN with reality

In an editorial, New use for old schools, the Toronto Star makes this statement:

School boards across Ontario have been watching their enrolments fall for years as a result of rapidly declining fertility rates. That, in turn, has led to half-empty facilities and painful decisions about school closings.

Now, I know "fertility rate" can technically refer to birth rate, rather than, say, actual fertility rate (i.e. the extent to which a population could have children if it chose to maximize, as opposed to the amount it chooses to have--which is maddening, by the way, I hate it when terms don't mean what they plainly mean). Nonetheless, I find its use in place of "birthrate" to connote an Apocalyptic decline of the species, which I'm sure was unintended in an article about use of public property.

Apparently "fecundity" has replaced "fertility"? Or did "fertile" slip into "fecund" and is now slipping back? According to Merriam Webster, they can both mean both productive or potentially productive. Maybe I'm just irrationally prejudiced against "fecund" because, well let's face it, it's sort of an ugly word.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Quotable FIREFLY

Episode 1 & 2: "Serenity"

Shepherd Book, to trained courtesan Inara: "I brought you some supper but if you'd prefer a lecture, I've a few very catchy ones prepped...sin and hellfire... one has lepers."


Jayne: "Testing, testing. Captain, can you hear me?"
Mal: "I'm standing right here."
Jayne: "You're coming through good and loud."
Mal: " 'Cause I'm standing right here."


Episode 3: "The Train Job"

Mal: "Well they tell you: never hit a man with a closed fist. But it is, on occasion, hilarious."


Mal: "And Kaylee, what the hell's goin' on in the engine room? Were there monkeys? Some terrifying space monkeys maybe got loose?"


Jayne: "Do you know what the chain of command is here? It's the chain I go get and beat you with to show you who's in command."


Episode 4: "Bushwhacked"

Harrow: "I know him. And I think he's a psychotic lowlife."

Mal: "And I think calling him that is an insult to the psychotic lowlife community."


Inara: "Thank you for the wine. It's very... fresh."

Mal: "To Kaylee, and her inter-engine fermentation system.”


Episode 5: "Our Mrs. Reynolds"

Book: "If you take sexual advantage of her, you're going to burn in a very special level of hell. A level they reserve for child molesters and people who talk at the theater."


Mal: "I would appreciate it if one person on this boat would not assume I'm an evil, lecherous hump."

Zoe: "No one's saying that, sir."

Wash: "Yeah, we're pretty much just giving each other significant glances and laughing incessantly."


Episode 6: "Jaynestown"

Book: "What are we up to, sweetheart?"

River: "Fixing your Bible."

Book: "I, um...(alarmed)...what?"

River: "Bible's broken. Contradictions, false logistics - doesn't make sense." (she's marked up the bible, crossed out passages)

Book: "No, no. You - you can't...

River: "So we'll integrate non-progressional evolution theory with God's creation of Eden. Eleven inherent metaphoric parallels already there. Eleven. Important number. Prime number. One goes into the house of eleven eleven times, but always comes out one. Noah's ark is a problem."

Book: "Really?"

River: "We'll have to call it early quantum state phenomenon. Only way to fit 5000 species of mammal on the same boat." (rips out page)

(later) River: "I tore these out of your symbol and they turned into paper, but I wanna put them back, so..."


[River is hiding after seeing Shepherd Book without his hair tied back]
River: "You see, the snow on the roof is too heavy, you see, the ceiling will cave in. His brains are in terrible danger."
Book: "River, please, why don't you come on out?"
River: "No! Can't. Too much hair."

Thursday, May 22, 2008

In which I try to argue tort law

Law Is Cool: “Dead fly in water bottle” case to be decided by Supreme Court tomorrow

Wait a tick, doesn’t fly in the face of the thin-skull rule? Either Mr. Mustapha was reasonable in his reaction, and the basic nervous shock doctrine applies, or he was unreasonable due to a pre-existing “obsessive” personality. The tortfeasor must take the victim as he finds him.

I’m looking at Vorvis v. Insurance Corporation of British Columbia ([1989] 1 S.C.R. 1085) for this. Once some harm was foreseeable, the company should be liable for the whole thing.

I thing some harm is foreseeable from dead bugs in your water. Given that Culligan recruited Mr. Mustapha on the basis of the cleanliness of their water (”a representative of Culligan called on him and represented to him at length how pure and healthy Culligan water was, including how it would benefit pregnant women and children, and how much better it was for someone than city water.”) and that he had a contract with them for fifteen years … it just seems pretty reasonably foreseeable to me. But it’s not mentioned anywhere in any of the cases.

I hope the SCC will deal with it, since it’s implicated enough that it should be included in their discussion, and since it’d be nice to have some juicy POST-1980s case law on the subject. (crossposted)

Go read the rest of the comments too

Law Is Cool: Follow-up: SCC tosses “dead fly” appeal

I still think this analysis suffers GREATLY from a lack of discussion of the thin-skull rule, and here’s why: if the complainant was regular dude who reacted this way, then okay, unreasonable. But from what I can glean from the decision, he showed more than a few signs of OCD. His obsession with cleanliness was not only potentially pathological, but it was the vary trait to which Culligan marketed! Hence pre-existing condition, hence thin-skull application. I’m not saying it would have been successful, mind you, just that I’m disappointed it wasn’t argued.

Of course, the SCC seems to have been constrained by the lack of discussion in the lower courts, which implies to me that the issue wasn’t plead. Que sera, sera.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

If I had a million dollars... (V)

I'd do this:

Grand Capitals of the Middle East

Small Group Touring 14 days from $4,049

14-day small-group escorted tour through Damascus, Aleppo, Palmyra, Amman, Jerash & Petra from $3999

Our 14-day small-group escorted tour in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon through Damascus, Aleppo, Palmyra, Amman, Jerash and Petra starts at $4049 and includes 26 meals, sightseeing and all on-tour transportation.
Small Group Touring with General Tours World Traveler... Grand Capitals of the Middle East. Syria, so rich in antiquity, includes the perfectly preserved Crac des Chevaliers built by crusaders in the 12th century and Aleppo, oldest inhabited city in the world. In-depth sightseeing with a small company of travelers, an included excursion to Baalbeck and our unmatched level of service make this a unique experience. Depart any day with our privately-guided alternative and enjoy remarkable value to travel with your own private car, driver and guide. Maximum of 20 guests.

Damascus, Hama, Aleppo, Palmyra, Baalbeck, Amman, Jerash, Ajlun, Petra, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Seriously? You're trying to demonize Romeo Dallaire? ... Seriously?

Full disclosure: I consider Dallaire a secular saint, which is to say I have a massive crush on him, and am in law school largely because of him and what happened to him in Rwanda, and I believe him to be an example of what makes Canada great.

So I'm am obviously put-off by the Conservative freak-out over his remarks that, by ignoring our obligations to Omar Khadr, we are sinking to the level of the terrorists we claim to be fighting.

Tory continues to attack Dallaire over Khadr (Toronto Star)

Dallaire says he didn't mean Canada is equal to al-Qaida (

Dallaire blasts Ottawa, U.S. over handling of Khadr case (Toronto Star)

'Child soldier' Khadr needs protection, Dallaire says (Globe and Mail)

BTC: My heavens, Romeo Dallaire said what? (Maclean's)

Okay, let's...once again...look at what was actually said, shall we? Except we don't know because we won't have access to transcripts for months and the minutes say let's piece it together from the media.


“The minute you start playing with human rights, with conventions, with civil liberties, in order to say that you're doing it to protect yourself and you are going against those rights and conventions, you are no better than the guy who doesn't believe in them at all.”


“Is it your testimony that al-Qaeda strapping up a 14-year-old girl with Down's Syndrome and sending her into a pet market to be remotely detonated is the moral equivalent to Canada's not making extraordinary political efforts for a transfer of Omar Khadr to this country?” he asked. “Is that your position?” (He's referring here to a report that this happened which was disproved...a while ago.)


“If you want a black and white, and I'm only too prepared to give it to you, Absolutely,” he said. “You're either with the law or not with the law. You're either guilty or you're not.”

"You are not allowed to go against (international) conventions and if you do, you're going down the same road as those who absolutely don't believe (in the law)."

Dallaire never said "Canada = al-Qaeda"! Kenney said it, and Dallaire said basically "In this context, yeah," and then qualified what he said.

And guess what, sportsfans. I concur wholeheartedly. Canada has totally lost the moral high ground on this one -- not just lost, but pursued a burnt-earth policy, and for no apparent reason, either. The UK, official second banana of the Coalition, was good enough to retrieve its citizens and (eventually) legally resident non-citizens from Guantanamo. Note how they weren't punished for daring to counter the US.

My (nauseated) suspicion is that we don't want Khadr home because he's "not nice"; he fails to live up to the Canadian ideal of warm fluffiness. Gosh, he very well may have hurt someone!

What's sickening is our ability, as a nation, to turn our backs on someone because he makes us uncomfortable, and yet to feel little or no cognitive dissonance with the fact that by doing so we're thumbing our noses at our supposed commitment to the rule of law, human rights, and oh yes, basic human decency.

Newsflash: Omar Khadr was raised by a pro-Bin Laden family, in and around al-Qaeda and its supporters. He was brainwashed from birth. Then at 14, right around the time humans begin latching on to anything that might give them a sense of identity, he was thrust into working for militant in Afghanistan by his own father. He may have thrown a grenade that killed an American soldier. He was seriously wounded, almost executed, and shot in the back. Various reports suggest he was denied medical treatment as punishment, and that he was interrogated using illegal techniques. He was, at this point, 15.

There is no ambiguity about the fact that Khadr was a child soldier and should have been treated as such, The fact that his "trial" is only proceeding now, when he is 21, is not his fault and I fail to see a single reason for the continued flaunting of international and domestic law that the US and Canada are indulging in here. Bottom line: Dallaire was right.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

In which whackadoo Islamaphobia is even more prevalent than I thought

From Joe.My.God.: Project Dumbway

 NYC-based fashion designer Doron Braunschtein has launched a line of "Jews Against Obama" shirts. From his press release:

“I am a true anti-Obama New York Jew. The word on the street is that New York Jews will vote for McCain anyhow. The majority of the Jews - at least the ones that are proud of their religion and practice it - like me, don’t want to see Obama- a man who’s middle name is Hussein, and his family from his Kenyan father’s side is Muslim, as the leader of this great country. More than that, after Obama’s pastor, Jeremiah Wright, honored Louis Farrakhan- definitely one of the most racist and anti-Semitic people alive - Obama lost us Jews totally. That made me start this political movement in the first place.”

According to Braunschtein, the shirts are doing "brisk business."
(Via - JMG reader Christian)

So...wait, what? In a Christian-majority country, they oppose Obama because he's descended from Muslims, but also because he's not actually a Muslim, but the wrong kind of Christian? This argument is so devoid of logic that it makes my head hurt.

Also, those t-shirts are hideous, Mickey-Mouse amateur-hour monstrosities. If you're going to be crazy, the least you could do is be aesthetically pleasing.

Monday, May 12, 2008

In which I titter over Savage usual

Reading the latest Savage Love column; this one is chock-a-block full of awesome quotes. Observe:

Think of this column as a sex-ed gangbang I’ve arranged just for you but, um, don’t describe it to your parents that way.

The AIDS virus isn’t fire and gay men aren’t twigs: it doesn’t matter how vigorously you rub us against each other, we’re not going to suddenly burst into HIV.

I’d like to add to this list [of ways to minimize the risk of HIV infection]: Don’t sleep with total sleazefags, don’t be a total sleazefag yourself and don’t allow anyone to pressure you into doing anything you don’t want to do.

Sleazefag is so my Phrase of the Day.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

*Bad* ICTR ... no cookie for you!

Opinio Juris serves up this piece of ridiculous-pie: "ICTR 'Disowns' Human Rights Watch".

Apparently, although HRW is an NGO on which "the UN Court has relied on for the last 14 years for expert testimony", "the prosecutor accused HRW of lack of credibility and having confused the collection of information on the violations of human rights in general and international criminal proceedings". To which I can only respond: come again?

This is ICTR's response to HRW's arguments against sending the remaining accused persons to stand trial in Kigali, which would allow ICTR to close up shop. Kevin Jon Heller, author of the OJ post, has written on the unlikelihood of fair trials for the accused under the Rwandan justice system (Heller, Kevin Jon, "What Happens to the Acquitted?" . Leiden Journal of International Law, Vol. 21, 2008 Available at SSRN: and HRW has documented the problem as well.

Now, call me crazy, but isn't this part of the justification for international ad hoc tribunals anyway? And wasn't everyone (justifiably) up in arms when the Iraqis tried Hussein in sketchy circumstances? On a human level, I can't really blame the Rwandan system for being willing to play a little fast an loose with the rights of the accused, given the horrific nature of the crimes. But the fact that we may empathize doesn't mean we agree.

Also, I am sooo tired of human rights NGO's being relied upon when it suits a courts purposes, and then discarded the second they disagree. I have seen this many times in the refugee system: Amnesty or HRW suggests a country is safe, back you go! But if they suggest otherwise, and a "neutral" source (99.9% of the time, US State Department reports) disagree or are less emphatic, then obviously the NGO, as a partisan organization (who goal is, apparently, to invent or exaggerate human rights abuses, as if that were necessary, to allow fake refugees to make claims) cannot be believed.

Keep an eye on this, folks.

Friday, May 09, 2008

That's so funny I can't believe I heard it

So I'm listening to Mad Dog and Billie (shut up SHUT UP I love me some Top 40) when I heard the following amusing exchange:

Billie was talking about things she can no longer say because now her mother says them, and, by example, mentioned that her mother just sent her an e-mail which opens "Hollah" (hoh-lah) and now she can't use "Hollah" (as in, Hollaback Girl) anymore. I--and about a million other Torontonians--automatically realize that her mother said "Hola" (oh-la), as in "Hello" in Spanish.

When someone calls in to correct them, they still don't get it at first, and say her mother must have been learning Spanish on tape...this still doesn't make sense...

Oooh, and they just read my e-mail on the radio! Woo!

Anyway, it's probably true that most people would see "Hollah," reading an e-mail. I'm so used to hola because ever since we developed our obsession with Mexico, we use it all the time...also *cough* just got back from Spain.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

News that makes you nod sagely

Joe.My.God. recaps the story of Mildred Loving, the aptly named "black woman whose fight against Virginia's ban on interracial marriage led to the Supreme Court overturning all such laws nationwide" Clickity-click.

And Slate has an interesting article on "What should Israel do with its thousands of Christian and Muslim African refugees?"...because what that country needs is another demographic problem that implicated international human rights. Click.

Buenos Días, mis lectores

For those who are interested, and because otherwise I will forget stuff, here is our itinerary copied right off the website ( Pictures to follow, of course!

Overnight flight to Madrid.

Welcome to Madrid! On arrival at Madrid Airport there are complimentary transfers to your tour hotel. The afternoon is at leisure – relax and settle in. In the evening, join your fellow passengers and Tour Director for a Welcome Drink.
Hotel: Melia Galgos.

Follow the wide arid plains of Castille. After passing Guadalajara, follow the Jalón River Valley, dotted with Mudejar Towers which are survivors of the bygone era of Moorish domination in Spain. Continue eastwards, passing Zaragoza in the province of Aragón, before encountering a different culture and language in Catalunya. Your home for the next two nights is the dynamic city of Barcelona. Tonight, visit all of Spain in one park at the ‘Pueblo Español’, before your Dine-Around evening, where you can choose from a selection of restaurants. Before returning to your hotel, drive past the Olympic Games site and enjoy glittering views over the harbour.
Hotel: Melia.


We drive towards the sacred mountain of Catalonia. Ascending this staggering rock formation, we enjoy the spectacular panoramic views, before arriving at the "Basilica Real" to see the mystical Black Madonna.

Visit Gaudi's Guell Park. On entering Guell Park, one has the impression of entering an enchanted world where Gaudi designed mushroom-like houses, undulating benches and a mosaic dragon on a flight of stairs.

Visit the Gothic quarter on a guided tour and see the ancient cathedral, and see the famous Ramblas, with its open-air markets and cafes. In contrast to the old part of town, drive along the broad, elegant avenues of the Eixample district to admire Gaudi’s extraordinary unfinished creation, the Sagrada Familia church, about which opinions are so strongly divided.

Follow the Costa Dorada south, stopping in Peñìscola to view the white-walled cottages clustered around the sea-lapped castle used in the film El Cid. Continue past the famous orange groves to Valencia, your home for the night. An orientation tour with your Tour Director shows you the City Gates of Serranos and Cuarte, the Gothic Generalidad Palace, El Miguelete Cathedral with its octagonal bell tower, and the ultra modern Centre of Arts and Sciences.
Hotel: Husa Reina Victoria.

Leave for the Costa Blanca, passing through the stately waving palm tree forests of Elche and past the lemon groves in Murcia. Drive through the superb scenery of the Sierra Nevada with magnificent mountain views on all sides, and cross the Mora Pass to reach glorious Granada. Here, over looking the town, awaits one of the most remarkable fortresses ever built, the Alhambra. Explore this exquisite palace; a fantasy of stone cut lace, arabesque gardens and fountains, built as a citadel by the Moors in the 13th century. Also visit the exotic water gardens of the Generalife, the Royal summer residence.
Hotel: Saray.

A beautiful drive through gleaming white villages and brilliant fields of golden sunflowers leads to Seville exquisite capital of Andalucìa, and one of the most charming cities in Spain. You’ll stay in this ‘city of Carmen’ for the next two nights, so settle into your hotel.
Hotel: Melia Lebreros.

Seville has a distinctive character and presence which a local guide will unfold. Visit the massive cathedral, burial place of Christopher Columbus and enriched with the spoils of the New World. Pass the slender Giralda Tower, once the minaret of the Great Mosque, see the Alcazar and tour the fashionable Santa Cruz Quarter with its flower decked wrought iron balconies. This afternoon is at leisure. Tonight, enjoy dinner at your hotel. 

Set off early along the Guadalquivir valley, past villages and towns studded with Moorish towers and fortresses, stopping in the perfectly preserved Moorish city of Cordoba. See the famous 2000-year-old bridge before a guided visit to the magnificent Mezquita, an 8th century mosque with a Christian church built inside it. Cross the Sierra Morena mountains and the plains of La Mancha, following in the steps of Don Quixote, on your way back to Madrid.
Hotel: NH Eurobuilding.


Visit the Prado Museum to admire the world famous paintings of Velázquez and Goya. Take time out to relax at a café or shop in the boutiques of Serrano. In the evening, consider joining a farewell dinner in the heart of town, complete with wine and music.

A specialist guide takes us to the unique city of Toledo, Spain's capital during the golden era, and where El Greco lived and worked. We visit the fine Gothic cathedral, admire the old city views along the Tagus gorge and later visit a specialist Damascene workshop.

The tour ends with transfers to Madrid Airport.