Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Choices We Make

Part of Working at the Supreme Court is that whenever new decisions come out, we lawyers are the first to get copies in the form of "advance sheets." Just yesterday I read one such decision, in which we (i.e., the Court) denied a petition filed by some realty company which coincidentally enough, was represented by one of my old bosses. I had seen the file lying around back before the case was even decided, so I was acquainted enough with the case to want to read the decision through. It seems that this company had already lost on several levels, even at the Supreme Court, and was through what seemed to be sheer force of will blocking the execution of the judgment against them. Consequently, not only did the company lose, but the decision recommended the two lawyers who had signed the pleadings for disbarment...including my former boss.

I found myself thinking about this a lot, mainly because just before I started working for the court over a year ago, I was seriously considering going back to that law firm, where I would be under the very lawyer who was, excuse me, IS a potential candidate for disbarment, although I personally doubt it'll go that far. MY name could have just as easily appeared on that decision. After all, if he had asked me to help him prepare those pleadings, it's not as if I could have refused him, right? God, what a thought.

It just kills me how there are choices and then there are CHOICES, decisions you can make in an instant and forget about just as quickly as opposed to decisions which, you realize, are the best you could ever have made. I've spent most of my life making a lot of the former, so much so that in the few instances where I eventually find out that I've made the latter, it really is occasion to take pause. Had I made a different choice those months ago, there is the real possibility that I would be up for disbarment less than one year into my legal career. Wow.

Friday, November 25, 2005

You'd Think It'd be a No-Brainer...

Picture this: you're the President of the Philippines, but the legitimacy of your reign has been questioned since before the elections began. To put it another way, even before the elections were over, people were so sure that they would be rigged (by you) that there is no way that they would believe that you won them fair and square, even if you hadn't cheated. Does this sound a little convoluted? Suffice it to say that you are suffering from a crisis of legitimacy. You're willing to do the work, but no one is willing to let you do your job in peace.

What do you do then? Well, on top of trying to do your job, you try to snag every opportunity for good press that you can.

Suddenly, a news story breaks about six United States Marines allegedly raping a young Filipina over at the Subic Freeport area, and the Department of Justice, which answers directly to you, has the chance to apprehend the six accused of the crime.

This isn't about national security. It's about bringing rapists to justice, or alternatively, about ensuring that six accused of a heinous crime get a fair trial. It's simple, really: you hand the six marines over to the authorities, have them tried fair and square and look good in front of the public who is otherwise torn as to how they feel about you. Show that you are not afraid to punish people just because they're Americans, and the people who can't decide whether or not to join marches to oust you might see you in a new light and enthusiastically condemn the weevils in Congress and in other sectors of society who covet your throne.

To those who would use this as an excuse to slam the Visiting Forces Agreement, you need simply use the logical fallacy argument: point out that there are thousands of United States soldiers currently participating in the exercise, and that the proclivities of a half-dozen of them doesn't mean that the entire exercise is an invitation to rapists.

To your American counterparts, simply assure the marines of a fair trial. Who knows? They may even be acquitted.

It should be a no-brainer.

But Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has demonstrated that like every single Philippine President that has gone before her, and who may come after her until the fall of the new Roman Empire (also known as the US of A), she is completely and utterly beholden to Uncle Sam and his swaggering thugs in the White House.

Apparently, at nearly every single opportunity, the Department of Justice has dropped the ball on this case, from the way they dragged their feet in fetching the marines from the SBMA to conduct an inquest investigation so as to be able to detain them, to the idiotic stories someone at that said office has been leaking to the press about the victim of gang rape retracting her claim because "she only remembered being kissed."

And then, of course, there's the small matter of GMA sucking Bush's ass over at the APEC summit when she should have been asking him, albeit politely I suppose, to have the US Embassy turn those horny bastards over to the Philippine government.

I just can't believe that anyone would be stupid enough to try to piss this case away while millions of people, including opportunistic members of the opposition and the usual leftist suspects, have their eyes trained on the case. But Gloria and her clowns at the Department of Justice seem determined to do just that. They don't even seem to have the slightest interest in seeing that the case goes to trial.

I've often lambasted the people who've been screaming for GMA's ouster, particularly because I'm pretty sure they don't have the faintest idea how to steer the Philippines towards a better place, but would rather just grab all the power for themselves. If those six marines end up sailing off into the sunrise (towards Okinawa) because the government sat on its butt, part of me can almost picture myself joining yet another of those idiotic rallies of theirs.

Well, not quite, but I, for my part, will feel that GMA will deserve all the venom a whole lot more.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Some Quality Alone Time

I've heard various stories of what people do when they go to take a dump in their office bathrooms. For some people, it's the only place in the entire building where they can have a smoke. I've also heard tell of people using as their shooting up/snorting venue. I've even heard a story about one guy whacking off in the stall.

Strangely, after working for over a year at the Supreme Court and two months at De La Salle University, I find myself gratified by just...going there. I don't mean the obvious relief we all feel at evacuating our bowels, no. What I mean is that it's become one of life's simple joys to go to a relatively secluded bathroom in either of the large compounds where I work, at a relatively dead hour of the day, and just sit there for five to ten minutes, even though I'm taking a crap at the same time.

It's funny how these are public bathrooms, and yet, when I use them at certain hours of the day, they genuinely feel like they belong exclusively to me. That's part of the pleasure of it, I guess, but much more than that is the idea that when I'm there relieving myself, I know that this time belongs exclusively to me. No one is going to walk up to me and hand me something that has to be typed or tell me that the boss wants to talk to me. No one is going to call me up because they know I'm at work (and besides, the spot I go to has no cell-phone signal). It's time that's exclusively mine.

And I bask in it. I am able to let my mind go completely blank; I achieve a state where absolutely nothing clutters my thoughts, not either of my jobs, not the million little distractions that flit through my mind at any other time of the day. I don't think about movies, music or literature. I don't think about anything. And thanks to a relatively fiber-rich diet, I don't even notice the smell of my own waste. I am in a state of complete tranquility for that five to ten minutes.

This period is actually all I need to help me get through the rest of my working day. Obviously in the court I go in the middle of the day, while at La Salle I go just before my six p.m. class. Both times I go, the tranquility is incomparable, especially at La Salle, where just about everyone has gone home, and there is a gentle twilight setting in just outside the bathroom window. It's beautiful in its peacefulness, and it's all mine for a few blissful minutes.

The simple joys in life are often the best...

Monday, November 14, 2005

Some Kind of Masochist

A few weeks ago a cousin of mine living in Albany sent several members of our family the same e-mail message. In a nutshell, she was asking that, for her birthday, we all pray that she get back together with some guy who had broken up with her and taken out a restraining order on her (something about her breaking into his apartment).

She's been in a tailspin for the last two or three years, and all of her shenanigans have involved guys, which is pretty sad because apart from that she'd actually been doing pretty well for herself over there, even without a college degree. For awhile it was as though she was completely in her element over there in America...until she started dating at the ripe old age of twenty-nine (or was it thirty? I forget). She's been with married guys, involved guys, jerks and wimps, and it seems that at the end of each and every relationship, the guy wants nothing to do with her. The restraining order recently slapped against her is one of several, apparently.

So I wrote her. I wrote about how she shouldn't pin all her hopes for happiness on this guy, or any guy, for that matter. I wrote about how she needed to go out there and experience life. I wrote about how love would and should find her when she's ready for it, not desperate for it. It felt like poetry.

It also went unanswered.

I should have known better, really. I should have known that someone who's been in and out of jail because she can't get over her habit of stalking her ex-boyfriends, someone who sees multiple shrinks so that she can get several prescriptions of various anti-depressants, and someone who has proclaimed herself a hopeless cases wasn't exactly about to say "oh thank you, Jim, for beating me over the head with what a stupid, sociopathically co-dependent bitch I've been all these years. I will surely mend my ways now." But for some reason, I couldn't help hoping.

I think I know now how all those women who are irrepressibly in love with "bad boys" feel. I've often derided them before, saying that the way they feel about these scumbuckets is really nothing more than a form of narcissism; that is, their ability to get these bad boys to "change their ways" is a way to reassure themselves of their importance in this world. This viewpoint hasn't really changed; I, too, now want to be important. I want to have an effect on this self-destructive cousin of mine, even though all the evidence tells me that she'll probably get shot by one of her ex-boyfriends while she's breaking into his apartment before so much as a word of what I say even registers.

She is my unicorn, my avocation now. Part of it is the fact that she's my first cousin, but there is something more than that as well. To be perfectly and selfishly frank, yes, I want to reaffirm my own place in this world by trying to concretely help someone else.

The funny thing about it is, I'm not sure whether or not to feel guilty or good about myself.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Something to Look Forward to in 2006

Fans of printed and graphic fiction may rejoice!

In April of 2006, Marvel Comics is launching the comic-book adaptation of Stephen King's DARK TOWER series. This will be a landmark in both comics and fiction in general for one very important reason: King will be writing the series (at least the inaugural story arc) himself.

The comics series, as conceived by King, will not actually be a page-to-panel adaptation of the existing books but will, if I understand the stuff I've read correctly, tell "in-between" stories; stuff that received little to no exposition in the books, as well as stuff that couldn't be told in any other medium.

Almost as exciting as the fact that one of the favorite authors of my younger days (I've read the second Dark Tower book, Misery, the Eyes of the Dragon, Needful Things, and Insomnia, but have since fallen out of touch) is hooking up with my favorite comic book company is the art team they have lined up for the project: Jae Lee of INHUMANS fame is teaming up with the spectacular digital painter Richard Isanove (who elevated the artistic impact of ORIGIN and MARVEL 1602 to levels previously unimagined). They've posted over at (I don't know how to present them here, sorry), the four pages of artwork that Marvel presented to King during one of their intial meetings, and holy cow, if they're any indication of how the series is going to look, this is going to be one of the greatest comic books ever. This art looks so good, Alex Ross and Jim Lee should consider going back to art school.

Anyway, thought I'd spread the word, because for the first time in a long time (since Straczynski's first storyarc on Spider-Man, maybe), I am TRULY excited about an upcoming comic book.