Nina Hagen

Last Wednesday, I went to a Nina Hagen concert on a date with Lance. It was a riot! We got all dressed up for the event and he even braided my hair and decorated my face with marvelous makeup that matched the design of the batik shirt I was wearing along with the silver velveteen pants and the purple feather boa.

Nina and her band played a good concert. I liked the rowdier songs the best since they almost got me really dancing. Nina also delivered a kinda of diatribe against the pharmaceutical industry and HIV/AIDS medications which I felt was a bit over the top.

I saw old friends Henry and his Russian boyfriend Andrei, as well as Charles who I met on a Guerilla Queer Bar trip to Sausalito, Jerry the Faerie, and my housemate Jack.

Afterwards, Lance and I took a cab for a bite to eat at the Baghdad Cafe. I remembered them taking credit cards, but they don’t, so although we had enough to pay the tab, we shorted our server on the tip. I stopped back by later to give her a real big tip for being so nice about it.

I really appreciate Lance going with me to get dressed up and have a great night out on the town.

Berlin & Beyond

Berlin & Beyond, a German film festival here in San Francisco, has been excellent this year. On Thursday evening, I saw “Irgendwo in Afrika” (translated as “Nowhere in Africa”) which was the best of the three films I’ve seen at the festival so far. It was a very compelling portrait of a Jewish family that flees Nazi persecution to a new life in Africa. Highly recommended!

The second film I saw on Friday afternoon was about a schizophrenic guy. I found the film quite disturbing, especially knowing that my cousin Deirdre recently went back to the hospital for treatment for mental illness.

The third film, which I saw this evening, was called “Nackt” (or “Naked”). It involved three couples who are suffering from existensial crises of sorts. They meet for dinner and end up playing a game where they get naked and try to tell each other apart. Messy troubles and unexpected pleasures result from the game. Dorris Doerrie, the director, was there and suggested that she was trying to take the typical film dialog a bit further into explorations where most films fail to go. It was quite good.

I will go to one more film of the festival tomorrow evening.

Machine Troubles

The backlight on my work computer died, so I had to send it in to Hewlett Packard for repair, thus making it more difficult to follow my New Year’s resolution to write blog entries every day.

I finished Greg Egan’s “Permutation City” today. Read on the recommendation of science fiction writer and EFF colleague Cory Doctorow, it was a fascinating exploration of the possibilities of storing human consciousness inside computers and the possibility of transcendence of computer hardware and reality as we know it. I followed Egan’s point although I’m still unclear on how the universe actually separates from its hardware underpinnings by “gathering dust” or whatever. Anyone care to comment?

Praveen and I had a great discussion of the book, along with concepts such as nanotechnology, fabricators, quantum computing, and quantum cryptography. He lost his contracting job today, so plans to spend more time doing projects related to the Online Policy Group.

One of those projects is to design an online voting system that the Tech Fed and the California Coalition for Civil Rights could use for organizational decisionmaking, since both are coalitions that need a mechanism for tabulating votes on various issues, along with comments from each organization on why it voted the way it did. Long term, it would be even better to have a system that facilitated consensus process online, provided verification of voter identity, and permitted proportional voting schemes for elections of officers or whatever. The nonprofit world has yet to benefit from one of the most basic benefits that networked applications could provide.

Preparations for a trip to Brazil to attend “Living After Capitalism” in association with the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre are going well. I managed to get the air ticket using United frequent flyer miles and I’ve applied for a U.S. passport renewal. The passport was supposed to be ready yesterday since I paid a heft expedite fee, but it hasn’t arrived yet. Hotel reservations are theoretically complete, although not with a high confidence level. Once I have the passport, I should be able to get a Brazilian visa, which now costs $100 in retaliation for a price increase of U.S. visas for Brazilians. I’ve started learning a bit of Brazilian Portuguese as well.

Hike in Richmond

Today I visited Neil in Richmond. We ate a nice cafe in town and cuddled and played a bit at various points during my visit. We set out on a hike up a hill near his house. Along the way, we spotted some interesting erosion patterns as well as great views both inland and toward the bay. I realized I have to do more hiking so I can work myself up to handle some really nice hikes like a repeat of the Na Pali Coast hike on Kauai.

Neil is reading a great book called “The Barbary Coast” written in 1933. We ate dinner at a little Mexican restaurant with his brother and female partner, discussing the Bush administration and the lousy response to the economic downturn as well as the aggression in Iraq. Neil dropped me off at BART and I headed right home.

At home, I was kind of sleepy, but roped my housemate Jack into watching “Forbidden Planet,” an early and really camp, cheesy sci fi movie.

Yesterday was game night at Guy and Jey’s place. Matthew picked me up from work to go to Lance’s place. We waited for Lance to preen before heading out to Guy and Jey’s place. There was a good crowd, most playing a game called Cranium. We also played Pictionary and Aquarius, the rules of the latter calling for the person with the longest hair to play first. I got tired after awhile and Nathan, Lance, and I headed back on the Muni L train and Owl bus. Enroute Nathan told Lance and I some great stories.

Lance and I got off in the Castro and took the 24 bus to his place, picking up some organic chocolate hazelnut ice cream and Odwalla Strawberry C Monster juice along the way. I was exhausted, yet chatted a bit with Lance’s housemate Sammy, who is a great artist, if a bit dark in the subjects of his artwork. Lance and I made love a couple of times during the evening and I got up early to head back home to meet up with Neil for the hike.

I’m nearly finished reading “The Black Gryphon” by Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon.

Narrowing the Nation’s Power

I just started reading John T. Noonan’s “Narrowing the Nation’s Power: The Supreme Court Sides With the States” today. Anyone else read it? Your comments welcome.

The book brings up several compelling examples of cases where the Supreme Court has insisted on the sovereignty of states and therefore their immunity from prosecution under the law. The book points out the extension of this immunity to a wide variety of state institutions, including for example state universities. The apparent consequence is that a legal complaint brought successfully against a private employer may in many circumstance not be successful when brought against a state unless the court feels that Congress’ legislative remedies are “proportional and congruent” as determined by the court itself. The Supreme Court has taken this stance in cases involving patents, trademarks, and copyrights. Even more frightening to me, the Supreme Court has taken this stance in cases involving fundamental human rights like the right to be free from violent sex discrimination as in the case of a gang rape at Virginia Tech. It has also greatly limited Congress’ ability to legislate protection for the disabled and for the elderly when that protection was intended to extend to the state as well as the private employer for example.

The most troubling to me was the fact that so much of the defense of basic human rights is left to strange constructions and legal fictions that have arisen out of two hundred years of struggle between Congress and the Supreme Court, between the states and the federal government. The fact that our basic human rights depend on the ability to show damage to interstate commerce is troubling at best.

Seems like it’s time to start again with a constitution that guarantees human rights outright, not as a side effect of its fourteenth amendment applied precariously to some portion of the relevant cases.