Friday, November 21, 2008

In which Fosco defends the role of the courts in democracy...

As you've probably heard, the CA Supreme Court has agreed to hear legal challenges to the despicable Prop H8. As the SF Chronicle notes,

the justices asked for written arguments to be submitted through Jan. 21. The court could hold a hearing as early as March, and a ruling would be due 90 days later.
That means that we could have a decision by mid-June.

This is good news, of course (although, as the article notes, there is reason to fear that one of the justices that originally overturned the marriage ban may not be willing to overturn Prop H8). It's also good news in that it could allow gay couples to plan late-June weddings (although, in California, a "June wedding" is possible nine months a year).

You may have noticed the little "teapot tempest" occurring in the comments section of one of Fosco's previous posts on H8. One of Fosco's friends, The Beemaster (come to think of it, why do Fosco and his friends have aliases that sound like supervillains? Count Fosco, The Beemaster, Oz... It's like a whole Legion of Doom thing...)--but anyway, The Beemaster has questioned whether relying on the courts to overturn a ballot initiative is a subversion of democracy. I have to disagree; in fact, I think court review of these kinds of things is actually one of the best features of our system of democracy because it protects the rights of minorities from whims of majorities.

Think about it. The state of Utah is 62% Mormon. That pretty much means that, if Utah allows its state constitution to be revised by a pure majority vote (like CA), the Mormons could decide to do anything they wanted to the non-Mormons. They could revoke suffrage, legalize discrimination, even require non-Mormons to wear special underwear (how ridiculous!). (Disclaimer: I don't know if the Utah constitution can be altered by a majority vote; but that doesn't change our thought experiment).

But, you say, that would never happen because the courts would prevent it (based on either the US or State constitution). Exactly.

Actually, we could even consider this in a CA context. Prop H8 passed with about 5 million votes (approx. 1/7 of the population of CA). Now there are lots of things I bet I could get 5 million Californians to vote for (especially if I had millions of dollars in Mormo cash to help me run a misleading ad campaign). Remember how they had those troubles linked to Black muslims in Oakland (at Your Black Muslim Bakery--no, that's your Black Muslim Bakery, not mine)? I bet I could get 5 million Californians to require Black muslims across the state to register with their local police departments.

Or what about Scientologists? Heck, I bet if I had enough money (enough to outspend the Cruises), I could even get 5 million CA voters to force Scientologists to get freaky facial tattoos!

My point should be ridiculously clear by now: a democracy doesn't work unless there are courts to protect minorities from impositions by the majority. Now, we can argue all day about how the CA Constitution (or the US Constitution) should be interpreted when it comes to marriage equality. Or, to put it a different way, we can argue all day about whether marriage equality is a basic civil right. But I don't think it's worth arguing that this is a question for the courts--this is exactly a question for the courts.

Excuse me while I stumble off of my soapbox to make a gin & tonic.


Fosco Lives! has now been around (intermittently!) for almost 2.5 years. This post is Fosco's 300th-an important (although arbitrary) milestone.

In honor of post #300, Fosco has collected some other notable 300s.

  1. Of course, there is that movie (much beloved by Fosco's boyfriend Oz). As Fosco recalls, the film is shot entirely without the color green (Fosco's favorite color, incidentally) and contains a strangely queer backrub between a hairy midget and a alopeciac drag queen:

  2. And then there's the Chrysler 300, which gets a whopping 26 mpg. Wow, Fosco just can't understand how a company that makes such a great car could be headed for bankruptcy.

  3. Look at this little cutie!

    It's the Visotec Expert 300 by Bundes Druckerei. It scans and verifies travel documents. Sweet.

  4. Fosco loves this one: the MCV-300 Concrete Vibrator. I wish it were as dirty as it sounds, but it's not.

  5. And if you're interested in the most possible fun associated with the number 300, you cannot go wrong at the Joliet Moose Family Center #300 in lovely charming actually-existing Joliet, Illinois.

  6. Oh, and you know who is about to turn 300? Walnuts!

    Ah, but who can blame him for loving naps?

From the Aztec Tomb...

It's closer... I can almost taste it! As Fosco mentioned recently, there is the tantalizing possibility of an "Arrested Development" movie.

To help you understand just exactly the domino of events that need to take place for such a wonderful thing to happen, Defamer has put together a handy "Arrested Development" film tracker. Fosco has "borrowed" it and presents it for you here:

It seems like the major problem at this point is the "NO" from box office powergeek Michael Cera.

As far as Fosco is concerned, an AD movie is just not possible without George Michael. Is it time for a "Draft Michael Cera" web campaign ( Do any of you readers happen to... know him?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Space Oddities: New Yorker Fiction

Fosco is one of the few people he knows who still reads short stories. As the novel and the memoir battle for dominance in book sales and as the "personal essay" becomes the standard non-journalistic genre for magazine publication, the short story remains almost entirely irrelevant to literary culture (to say nothing of popular culture). The short story is essentially an academic exercise at this point--a genre practiced for its own sake, with little interest from most literary readers.

The educated reader can still find short stories in two main sources: McSweeney's (which has had some financial difficulties) and The New Yorker. While Fosco enjoys much of the McSweeney's short fiction, his relationship to NYer fiction is more ambivalent. Truly, Fosco only reads about five NYer stories a year.

And yet, some of Fosco's very favorite recent stories first appeared in that magazine: Jonathan Safran Foer's "A Primer for the Punctuation of Heart Disease" (6/10/02), Stuart Dybek's "If I Vanished," "Roy Spivey" by Miranda July (6/11/07), "Spider Boy," by Joyce Carol Oates.

And yet, Fosco still can't bring himself to read most NYer fiction. In fact, there is a very complicated set of rules that determine the likelihood of Fosco reading a New Yorker story.

Fosco is less likely to read a story IF

  1. he's never heard of the author (sorry, Janet Frame).
  2. dislikes almost everything else written by that author (sorry, John Updike).
  3. the story appears to contain numerous words NOT in English (sorry, Daniel Alarcon).
  4. it's by Roddy Doyle or Tessa Hadley (sorry, Roddy Doyle and Tessa Hadley).
Fosco is more likely to read a story IF
  1. it's written by a writer whose previous work he admires (George Saunders!)
  2. it's short (Miranda July!)
  3. it's "ripped from the headlines" (Joyce Carol Oates!)
  4. there is a cool picture next to it
So, based on the second rule #4 (cool picture), Fosco read last week's story by Jonathan Lethem called "Lostronaut." It's an epistolary short story, a form that Fosco does not particularly like. It's a one-sided correspondence from an astronaut trapped in an international space station as it begins to shut down. There are some remarkably affecting passages in the story, especially the description of an emergency space walk:
Oh, the lie of weightlessness! We feel we’re floating only because we’re forever falling, as in an elevator with no bottom floor to smash into. And so, inside the elevator, the human party continues oblivious, the riders flirt and complain and mix zero-G cocktails, or chase bewildered zero-G leaf-cutter bees. Outside the ship, our consoling elevator’s walls dissolved, Keldysh and I were two specks falling forever, specks streaming down the face of the night. Ourselves plummeting downward to the gassy blue orb, the gassy blue orb also plummeting at the same mad rate away from us.
And yet, there are also some stupid bits (like why does the narrator need to have cancer?). But, on the whole, the narrator's mix of forced good nature, gallows humor, and willing acquiescence to her fate is strangely appealing.

There is another beautiful bit at the end, as the narrator resigns herself to her fate: abandoned in void, the space station begins to shut down.
(Did you know we can’t even properly gaze at the stars now? Our breath fogs any window we turn to. We’re moisture, Chase, we’re returning to dew.)
Perhaps it's something about the times in which we live, but this kind of dreamy resignation seems appropriate right now.

Monday Procrastination Tools

As if reading Fosco Lives! isn't procrastination in itself, Fosco has found several other things you could read today to avoid doing any work:

Now go do some work. Or something.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Week of Pictures

As Fosco surfs the web every day, he saves lots of random pictures that may be useful for blog posts. And then, at the end of the week, he realizes he isn't going to write about a bunch of them. So what to do with these poor, lost pics? How about a nice miscellaneous "Week of Pictures" post? Don't mind if I do...

  • It probably wasn't necessary for the SF Chronicle to create this map; but now that they did, Fosco is fascinated. Do you wonder which neighborhoods of San Francisco voted in favor of Prop H8? Now you can see:

    Damn Chinatown! I need to find a new place to buy my favorite Melamine Chews.

  • Remember the baby on the cover of Nirvana's "Nevermind"? Well, it appears that every fifteen years or so for the rest of your life that kid is going to recreate that CD cover. Look, he's all grown up!

    The next time he does this, I bet he won't be wearing those shorts. Oh, and that green money won't be worth anything.

  • Is anyone surprised that George W. Bush knows how to make a filthy hand gesture that is popular with college students?

    Also, who isn't surprised that W's trashy daughter knows it too?

    He's raised himself a classy lady, that's for sure.

  • Thanks to a recommendation by le kungfuramone, I am loving the site called Cake Wrecks (N.B., it's what you think it is). I laugh every time I see this one:

    Just posting this, I laughed again.

    Fireworks Explosion!

Democracy in Action

Here is the letter Fosco recently sent to both Democratic senators from California:

Dear Senator Feinstein/Boxer,

I am writing to ask you vote in favor of removing Senator Joe Lieberman from the chair of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Senator Lieberman's comments about Senator Obama during the campaign were unforgivable and he should face serious consequences for making them. Although I know that Senator Lieberman regularly votes with Democrats, I do not trust him as the chair of this committee. I believe that he would use his chairship to counter President Obama and to obstruct the policies that Americans voted for on November 4.

Also, he looks like Caliban.

Thank you.

Well, maybe this letter isn't exactly like the one Fosco sent to his senators... But it's pretty similar.