Thursday, July 07, 2005

A few quick thoughts while I'm trying to clear my head of all the preferences law that I'm trying to force through it. I shall post these in reverse order of happiness so the post does not end on a downer.

First off, I'm glad my sister and her students are safe. Once again, may the counter-terrorism forces of the United Kingdom have good clean targets and shoot straight. But of course that isn't a real solution. The only real solution to this kind of Muslim extremist neoterrorism has got to be social, political, and economic. Why so few people seem to recognize that the Iraq war is a multigenerational regional engineering project, to create a Middle East which no longer fosters this kind of I'm-a-disgruntled-anachronism-with-a-bomb brand of Islam, I don't know. And, following my sister's example, that's all I'm going to say about that, lest I get ... emotional.

Second, although I have become much more tolerant of alcohol and am expanding the repertoire of wines that I like (another item on the list of gentlemanly skills: How to Drink Wine), I still have essentially zero tolerance for intoxication. I try to be polite about it, but the fact of the matter is that people (and especially friends) getting drunk, tipsy, or even noticeably buzzed in my presence feels like a major betrayal (I have decided, actually, it is probably number 2 or 3 on the list of major betrayals). I understand that I have friends who get drunk, tipsy, and/or buzzed on a regular basis, and while I think it's a stupid activity which I have no real problem condemning in the strongest terms, generally speaking they're polite enough not to do it in my presence. Coworkers, sadly, do not always know me as well. That or they're just not as polite. Probably the former.

Third, the Fourth of July was wonderful. There was good food, the weather was nice, there was a fire started by fireworks very close to my house that the fire department put out before it could burn anyone's house down (stupid stupid people ... the west San Fernando Valley in summer is not a place to be screwing around with incendiaries). And I had a great time in the pool with Twilight, Ayudaren, Kathelia, and Lionell, four squeegees, two mops, and two balls (not to mention the tactopi and tictofish). They just showed up with these cleaning implements and balls and said, "Let's make up a game." So Calvinball-ish. The game ended up being kind of like human foosball and kind of like pool volleyball and kind of like soccer and a little like squash: the pool was divided in half and each team was not allowed to cross over the center line. The goal was for the people in front to get the ball into the goal on the other side of the pool, and each team's goal had a goalie who was allowed to touch the ball with a mop but not with any part of his body. The game was made even more complicated by the fact that the two sides of the pool, while equal in terms of difficulty, were unequal in terms of topography. The deep end had a small goal but was, you know, the deep end, and the shallow end had a wider goal but let people stand up. Quite possibly the best pool game ever. And afterwards we had those glow-tube things, and when Kath started decorating her bathing suit with them Lionell and I decided that clearly we needed to make armor out of them, so we did. Here's to not growing up!

Fourth, yesterday I and three of my aforesaid coworkers (of whom, mind you, I am generally fond) spent our day with Public Counsel. This meant we (and two other summer associates, plus two full-time Public Counsel people) walked around the lobby of a county Department of Public Social Services office talking to the people waiting there and offering our help to clear up any problems that might have arisen with their applications for General Relief (welfare) or food stamps (which are actually on a credit card nowadays, but are still called food stamps). I'm sure you didn't know that sometimes the county is less than helpful to these people, but now you do.

It makes me happy to know that this kind of free public interest work has been the tradition of all lawyers (not just public interest lawyers, though they do it full time) for the past 450 years. I'm not a lawyer yet, of course, but it's amazing what a difference it can make just to have somebody show up who knows a little bit about the law and is willing to take the applicants' side. I spent my whole day with a mostly-blind guy whose benefits had been cut off, and it was amazing what a difference that made for him. We ultimately didn't get his back benefits reinstated (it was technically his fault that they had been cut off, and the rule wasn't even really a stupid one in general, although it was in this specific case), but he was actually okay with that and it really meant a lot to him that we were there to even try. And even having me there in the office with him while he reapplied for benefits made a huge difference, apparently - both in the way he felt about the experience and, apparently, in how helpful the county was. Now, I don't really feel like judging the county's level of service (wow, look at that - I'm not judging somebody who is operating at a mediocre level), since I'm sure that working that kind of job you learn real quick to be cynical about the whole process. Don't really approve of that, but I can't find it in me to condemn them real strongly. But regardless, my presence there made the whole process a dignifying experience for this guy. Pretty cool, huh?

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