Category Archives: Off Topic

Why Publicly Funded Athletics Matters

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This is your daily reminder that the two best tennis players in the world came from publicly funded and maintained courts in one of the most economically depressed cities in Southern California. Access to fitness equipment and the tools that someone needs to maintain their health is a basic human right, and one that is in danger in our “new normal” of nonexistent funding for infrastructure and maintenance for public property.

Along that line of thinking it’s worth noting that Suja Lowenthal, whom I’ve been extremely critical of during her time as my city counselor here in Long Beach, single handedly made sure that the new “Camp Bixby” improvements to our park became a reality. This is a huge asset to the city/residents and she deserves credit.


Hawt Takes On The Ashley Madison Leak

Despite the salaciousness inherent in this sort of story, it’s been interesting watching journalists try and inevitably fail to find some meaning or reason behind the hacking attacking of the internet’s “leading infidelity service”. On one hand there’s the hilarious reckoning of yet another idiotic tech company, with extra schadenfreude given Ashley Madison’s rise to prominence via a sexist Super Bowl ad. On the other hand the purpose and intent of the hackers in this case makes one almost feel sorry for the poor horny idiots whose personal info is exposed to the web.

Take this “calling card” [via Gawker];

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To begin off, the second to last paragraph is entirely bullshit. ALM almost certainly will escape liability here, either because the hackers represent outside tortfeasors, or because the end users signed the now almost universal arbitration agreements that would release ALM from damages related to the hack. Additionally as an attorney who practices family law I’m legit aghast that any grown up would be so callous as to suggest that an infidelity (especially one that is exposed via a national news story) can simply be “gotten over”.

The preceding paragraph is somewhat more insightful however. Most of the hacker’s complaint with ALM seems to be grounded in Ashley Madison’s proliferation with fake profiles rather than their more moralistic crusade against infidelity. In fact this screed reads like the complaints of an unsatisfied customer (or a generic gamer gate asshole) than a consumer advocate or marriage vigilante.

Again I have no love for the techbro “disrupters” like Ashley Madison. However ALM’s business model is terrible mostly because it works against the creation of a functioning and fair economy- which is a sin far worse than facilitating a sad cheating husband getting some strange. That said it just seems pretty obvious that the other side in this controversy is somehow even MORE digesting and sexist.


Super Blows

We already knew that the ownership society in Los Angeles county is totally on board blowing an unfathomable amount of public money and spending an indeterminate number of years getting played by the NFL just to keep the possibility of a new local football stadium alive. However it seems that the NFL itself is also keen on making Los Angeles football happen regardless of the clusterfuck that it causes its own organization in the process:

If the Chargers and Raiders move to a shared stadium in Los Angeles—as currently appears to be the most likely outcome—the NFL will probably not want them continuing to share a division. That’s absolutely no problem, with both teams telling the league they’re willing to be moved if necessary.

“The teams have made clear to the league and NFL owners that “you send us to LA and you’ll make the decision as to who plays in what conference or division,” Policy told reporters after detailing stadium plans for business leaders and a sports group at an event in downtown Los Angeles.”

All this in order to expand into a market where NFL allegiances are already more or less set, and where a thriving soccer team is steadily becoming a true local favorite. Never mind the the huge swaths of Angelenos who will never be able to afford football tickets or those who grew up watching other sports (again mainly soccer) in their native countries. But despite the insanity of engaging the NFL in this deal, civil leaders seem intent on making this travesty a reality.


So I Just Came Home To Find Out That My Neighbor Killed Herself

I haven’t posted in forever  because the everlasting glory of studying for the bar for 12 hours a day leaves me just enough free time to drink a beer and stare into the middle distance before crying and going to bed. Today I decided to leave my study cavern in Orange County out of the hope that the assholes at Mac Fusion would have repaired the laptop containing all my notes. I was wrong in that assumption, so I ventured on over to my apartment in Long Beach.

A few squad cars were at the door, meaning that either my white supremacist neighbor had been arrested again or my mentally unbalanced and drug addled  neighbor had attempted suicide for the 7th or 8th instance since moving here two years ago. Sadly it was the latter, and to make matters even worse it seems that she succeeded this time.

Thirty years ago this lady would have had at least a chance at a bed and around the clock supervision in a state hospital. Instead Saint Reagan was allowed to nuke all inpatient mental health care while drastically scaling back any treatment options that would have been available for someone with a serious chemical dependancy. Presently if my neighbor lived in any other industrialized country she would have access to state-funded medical and psychological care designed to treat her diseases, instead of a country determined to discover cool new ways to shift the costs of caring for her onto spottily funded charity organizations.

In virtually any other place but California in the 21st century this woman’s life would have undoubtedly ended in a better place than the apartment building where the majority of people (myself included) spurned her calls for help out of the convenience of  ignorance. We live in an era where elected officials on both sides of the political spectrum are intent for no good goddamn reason on slashing the tattered social safety net, and where the stigma of mental health problems persists as a matter of statute. Given this acceptance of the subtle violence of selfishness it becomes incredibly easy to allow even those who sleep not 20 feet away from us to slip into the darkness of depression and desperation.

Happy Monday. I wonder if they will replace the carpet before they re-rent the place.


Publicly Subsidized Exercise And Other Things That Shouldn’t Be Controversial In A Sane Country

Long Beach Bike Path (via Facebook)

Long Beach Bike Path (via Facebook)

So a few weeks ago I had a few professional setbacks that contributed to some intense feelings of hazing a sad. Luckily for me however I am less than two blocks away from a long stretch of paved beach path here in Long Beach, so I went for a 12 mile run one morning and almost instantly felt better about the world. It’s a privilege to have access to such an outlet, and there in lies a major problem in the way we conceptualize “needs” in this country.

The expense of maintaining this resource here in Long Beach cannot be too immense on our city government, especially compared to the large number of people who use it on a daily basis. Sure some that immense annual use is undoubtedly due to the mild climate of the area, but it is the sort of public resource that frankly any city can (and should) undertake.

Me running by the Belmont Pool

Me running by the Belmont Pool

The benefits of a maintaining communal place to exercise are not just limited to the waistline and blood pressure for the individuals who use it. The beach path functions as a great pedestrian walkway and it reduces pedestrian injuries from our busy roads. The path also allows for people across the city to mingle with other community members that they otherwise would not associate with (for better or for worse).

However if you were to judge the importance of this  resource by the press it receives or by the various commentators who speak about this path and similar public parks you would be under the impression that these places are dens of sin and putridity. The homeless person who sleeps near the path is seen as a “blight” instead of a human being whose desire to seek the serenity of that area is just as important as those same desires from everyone else. The beach itself is seen as less than hospitable for tourism by folks outside of Long Beach because of the (and here is your thinly-vieled racism) “diversity” of the locals. Apparently the prospect of having to share sand with large Mexican families is a traumatic event for people from Newport.

Many of us all take comfort in this form of passive aggressive hate, where exclusion and self-imposed isolation is seen as a solution to the inherit problems in promoting a “community”. (There’s a reason that the once universally available urban public pool more or less disappeared once they were ordered to be integrated). This ideology is the result of a generation that sought to avoid the contention of a past where associating with one another just was not worth it, so as a result we cannot not see the value in something as seemingly uncontroversial as publicly available recreation. Want to maintain your weight while reduce stress? Buy a thirty dollar a month gym membership. Want to walk around outside in a safe environment near unrivaled splendor of the Pacific Ocean? Better hope that you inherit that house on Balboa.

The good and simple things in life are for those who can pay for it, not for you and me. That is a value born out of a society that celebrates unadulterated selfishness as a moral value, and the bipartisan nature of such disgusting beliefs is itself a tragedy.


Paul Ryan Is A Far Better Motivational Poster Than That Damn Kitty

Alright so maybe I was feeling a little overwhelmed yesterday about my rather unsure place within the very precarious world or lawyer-dom. Nevertheless I will study for this fucking test, pass it, and help the people out there who are so goddamned desperate that even assistance from someone as awful as me is necessary. I just need to stay both motivated and disciplined about this whole process, and on my run this morning I thought up of the greatest possible image to keep in mind whenever I am feeling down:

Motivational Paul Ryan

It’s no “Car Pool Or HITLER WINS” but it will do.


Oh Yay I’m Graduating. Pass The Thunderbird.

My parents took me out to dinner a few nights ago after an event at my law school. The conversation inevitably turned to the issue of what I’m doing after I graduate, and the rather stark yet ambiguous future that awaits my nascent professional career.

In the midst of talking about the lack of legal jobs, the decades of flatlining wages for entry-level positions, and the horrendous six-figures of debt that I have assumed, my mother attempted to put things in perspective by speaking about her own experiences:

“I had to teach 13 classes my first semester as a professor in the late 1980’s and I only made $29,000 Stefan”.

Now the game of comparing woe-as-me stories is a long standing tradition on her side of the family (Thanksgiving is basically the annual unveiling of each other’s chronic health problems as entries into the corresponding contest of who has it worse. The winner gets first dibs on the Turkey), but in this case Mom utterly failed to win this game of poverty Highlander.

“Yeah Mom my best hope is to work at an office for free from anywhere from six months to a year while also working several low wage service jobs in order to pay the bills. I would kill for a job that pays 29k a year, especially since that would match my previous salary from 2010 before I went to law school.”

Paul Krugman’s columns and Chris Hayes’ show are the only consistent voices within the mainstream media markets that speak about the completely hopeless situation that a growing segment of this country are finding themselves. The narrative of the “kids who do everything right and still fail” has been attached to my generation for over a decade now and is recognized by people in power across the political spectrum, and yet no one seems to want to do anything about it. The boomers blew up the system 20 times over and now feel compelled to ignore the problem entirely and leave us to deal with the consequences of long term unemployment and systemic income inequality, all without dependable sources of economic support like the social safety net, public sector employment, or low-skill middle class service/manufacturing.

I am so very fucked at this moment. So the fact that I have the privilege of dressing in a black robe and getting a nice piece of paper with my name in fancy calligraphy isn’t exactly bringing a smile to my face right now. It’s not that I feel above asking “would you like fries with that” for the next fifty years, I just wish that someone would have told me that this was the future. I wouldn’t have wasted so much time deluding myself with fantasies to the contrary.