Hating the haters

Friday, 16 May 2008

gay wedding

My choice has been made – I will be voting in California in November.

I don’t know that I will cast a vote in the presidential election. If I do, it will be only because I despise John McCain and not because I believe in anyone else. Sad, but true. But the reason I will bother with the whole rigmarole of absentee voting is so that those bigoted homophobic motherfuckers won’t be able to pass their bigoted homophobic proposition to ban gay marriage in California’s constitution.

Just yesterday, the California Supreme Court struck down the state’s law against same-sex marriage and declared that registered partnerships are not good enough.

“In contrast to earlier times, our state now recognizes that an individual’s capacity to establish a loving and long-term committed relationship with another person and responsibly to care for and raise children does not depend upon the individual’s sexual orientation,” Chief Justice Ronald George wrote for the majority in ringing language that delighted gay rights activists.

Massachusetts in 2004 became the first, and so far only, state to legalize gay marriage; more than 9,500 couples have taken advantage of the law. But the California ruling is considered monumental by virtue of the state’s size — 38 million out of a U.S. population of 302 million — and its historical role as the vanguard of many social and cultural changes that have swept the country since World War II.

California has an estimated 108,734 same-sex households, according to 2006 census figures.

yahoo/AP

One of the precedents cited was the California Supreme Court’s 1948 ruling that overturned the ban on interracial marriages.

The decision on same-sex marriage should be a happy ending and we should all rejoice that any couple who are lucky enough to find that kind of love can enshrine it in any way they want. We should all look forward to being invited to gay weddings where the décor and flowers, etc will all be in immaculate taste.

But instead, enter the small-minded, holier-than-thou, overly religious, freedom-loathing, malignant bigots that want us all to live based on their twisted code of intolerance and hatred. I really wish it were possible to convince them that they don’t have the right to tell other people how to live and that if there were a god, s/he would not be on their side.

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Calling a spade a spade

Friday, 14 March 2008
geraldine ferraro vp pin

Okay, I suck. I have let my job totally get in the way and I haven’t managed to post all week. That in spite of some juicy things going on: Eliot Spitzer (prostitution), Geraldine Ferraro (accusations of racism), Mehdi Kazemi (sodomy), new marijuana laws in the Czech Republic… Luckily I am not going anywhere this weekend and I anticipate spending some quality time in front of my computer.

But for now, I would like to share excerpts from some emails that were exchanged yesterday between me and my friend Ricardo, who is a limey and also lives here in Prague. Ricardo is blue and I am violet.

Irrespective of whether Hillary or the Osama bloke (didn’t a paper get in trouble for that?) win, it is questionable if either will have enough support against the next gung ho tyrant-in-waiting of the United States of A. His arms look a bit too short.

Geraldine Ferraro (a former VP candidate) just got into trouble for pointing out that Obama is black.

I thought he was 50:50. Does that mean it’s wrong to say he’s black and equally that he’s white? Blimey.

He is 50:50, and I think you are allowed to say that he is white, but only because anyone can see that he is black. You are not, however, allowed to refer to him as African-American because although he is half African and half American, his ancestors were not slaves so therefore saying African-American would somehow be misleading.

Why is it that you’re allowed to say that Obama’s campaign is going well because he is young, because he is good-looking, or because he reminds people of John F Kennedy, but you can’t say that his race has been a factor? Especially when clearly it has. Just as some people are voting for Hillary Clinton just because she is a woman and some people will vote for McCain in November just because he is a white man, some people are obviously voting for Obama just because he is black. And so what? That’s just because lots and lots of people don’t vote on the issues.

Mrs Ferraro, your mistake was that you forgot to speak in a whisper when you said the word “black”.


Update on Everything

Wednesday, 5 March 2008
Kafka Metamorphosis beetle

The Flat

The contract has been fixed to our satisfaction, our funds are almost consolidated, there is always champagne in the fridge, and we are signing next week.

Max’s Residency Permit

Martin was able to fix things on Monday with VZP so that I did not have to pay their stupid penalty (see post below). Then Katka went to their office to conclude my 2-year health insurance agreement. Martin took the health insurance agreement, my passport and a power of attorney so that he could go to the foreigner police for my visa the following morning.

This email was waiting for me when I arrived at work on Tuesday:

Hi Max,

It’s unbelievable but I don’t have your visa because that stupid woman at FP has completely changed her mind – she has made a copy of your insurance card and has said that everything was OK, but she has refused to give me visa based on the power of attorney (last week she said that you do not have to go there in person). I don’t understand that but it was impossible to persuade her on anything else today. This is unbelievable country… You (or secretary) will have to go there tomorrow in the morning and stand the queue for the number…

m.

I answered Martin straight away:

Martin

It’s not unbelievable. That’s normal. They talk out of their arses and then they talk out of the other side. FP, VZP… they should all be shot. I am trying to get in touch with my visa agent and hopefully she’ll be able to help me out tomorrow. Don’t worry about it, it’s not your fault.

You didn’t lose my passport, did you?

M

Martin hadn’t lost my passport and I was able to get in touch with Lenka within a few minutes. I went to the foreigner police in person this morning. Upon arriving back at my office, I sent this report to a few friends:

For anyone that has been concerned about my impending (and repeated) deportation…

I got my new visa this morning. The foreigner police wouldn’t give it to Martin yesterday with a power of attorney so I had to go myself today. I paid 800 Kč to get a number so that I wouldn’t have to wait (which could take either hours or days) and I was in and out of there in about 12 minutes with my shiny new visa.

On another note, I then took my passport to my embassy to get extra pages put in, which are necessary because EU countries have become a bit too stamp happy. It used to be that you went to the window, handed them your passport and asked for new pages, and they would do it immediately and hand your passport straight back. Not anymore. This time I had to fill in a form and leave my passport there. If I pass the security check, I’ll be able to pick up my fatter passport this afternoon and Abby V, I’ll see you in London tomorrow. If I don’t pass the security check, I guess that will mean rendition and waking up in Gitmo.

I went back to the embassy after lunch and they returned my passport to me with 24 lovely new blank pages. That should last me another two or three years.

But my passport is gone once again. I had to give it to the secretary that has my power-of-attorney for the Trade Licence Office. She’s on her way there now to show them my new visa so that they will renew my trade licence. Then someone will have to go to the commercial court to show them that my trade licence has been renewed so that can be registered in the Commercial Register.

And then I should be all set until I move into my new flat when I’ll have to send people running around to every possible administrative authority in the Czech Republic in order to change my address. What a country.


Meanwhile, over in Max’s other hell…

Thursday, 28 February 2008
hell

I sauntered into work this morning at about 10 to find this email from one of our trainee lawyers waiting for me:

Hi Max,

I was at the foreigner police in the morning (quite interesting place); almost everything is OK, except of (bad news) term of your health insurance. As FP needs to extend your visa obligatory for 2 years (good news), they need evidence that your health insurance will last till March 2010. However, FP women on the phone were not able to tell me before for how long will be your visa extended. That was the reason why we have decided to extend your health insurance for 1 year (anyway, insurance company could extend it only for 1 year by one agreement).

I have asked Katka to go to the health insurance company today or tomorrow and to conclude another insurance agreement valid until 2010. Then I will visit FP on Monday, give them a stamp and health insurance documents and they will grant new visa immediately.

I will stop by you when you’ll be at your desk.

m.

Great, I thought, it sounds so easy.

So Katka, a secretary, went to VZP, which must be the worst insurance company in the world. There she was told that it would be impossible to conclude a health insurance agreement for a year from now (March 2009 to March 2010) and that instead I would have to cancel my 2008-2009 agreement, pay a 20% cancellation penalty, and then conclude a 2-year agreement. Which you may note, if you understood the email above, is absolutely contrary to what they had told her in January when she originally went to renew my insurance.

Katka, bless her, did not tell me anything – she was too smart for that because I have been known to shoot the messenger, so to speak. Katka told Martin and Martin had to tell me and face the wrath of Max. Which in fact he enjoys. All I need is some leather, a pair of thigh-high boots and a whip, and I think he’d be in heaven. [Martin, if you’re reading this – NO. Forget it.]

Two minutes later I was on the phone to VZP getting the director’s number. Martin took over and called; he talked to the director’s secretary. I am trying to teach these kids not to take things lying down. And that if two people in one office give you two different answers, go higher and talk to someone who knows what they are talking about.

“I always win,” I said to Martin. But then I had to admit that I lose a lot in this country – the trade licence office, the commercial register, the foreigner police – and it always costs me money.

And that’s where we are. The director was in a meeting and it was really too late to find anyone in authority to talk to. Martin will start trying again tomorrow morning at 8. But I had to promise him that if we don’t get things sorted out by tomorrow afternoon, I will pay the 20% penalty so that he can go and get my new visa on Monday. The penalty will actually be less than 1800 crowns (just over $100) and it’s not worth getting deported (again) over that.


The Flat in Žižkov – a progress report

Wednesday, 27 February 2008
Žižkov

We were notified last Wednesday that the building permit for the new attic flats had finally come through. Only approximately 5 months behind schedule, but that is par for the course. The Building Authority, after all, is just another cog in the antiquated machine that is Czech bureaucracy.

Filip sent me the agreement on future purchase agreement and asked me when I wanted to go over to his office to sign it. The agreement was 8 pages long and in Czech. I skimmed through it quickly and then sent Filip an email that started thus:

The attached agreement is wrong. It does not match the agreement attached to the reservation agreement. If you remember, we made some changes to the agreement – I am sure that you have it on file.

The changes I was referring to in my email were those that I had carefully negotiated last summer with the help of one of my Czech colleagues.

Filip then tried to tell me that the agreements were substantially the same, that only some building specifications had been inserted. It seems that Filip completely forgot that I am a lawyer.

I sent him one example of where the agreements were different and asked him to find the agreement we had actually agreed and to update that version for me to sign. Filip then merely corrected the one point I had specified and asked me to let him know if I found anything else. I was pissed off.

I emailed Filip again the next day once I had enlisted the help of another Czech colleague. (The one who had helped me last summer is currently on holiday in Africa.)

One of my Czech colleagues is going to go through the agreement for me to make sure it matches the agreed agreement. I will get back to you on Monday to tell you if we need to make any more changes and to agree a signing date.

My email to Filip on Monday:

There are several problems with the new agreement. It is not consistent with the changes we made last summer and certain other changes have been made to the contents we had agreed.

My accompanying list contained 12 points.

Since Monday, all I have received from Filip is an acknowledgement that he had received my email.

In the meantime, Jono and I are consolidating the funds we need to pay our 2nd deposit. I expect we’ll sign next week or the week after. We’ll be one step closer and there will be champagne.

Last time I walked by the building, by the way, was 17 days ago. The scaffolding was up, the roof was off, and there was work being done on a Sunday.


This week’s mumbo-jumbo

Friday, 8 February 2008
absurd

 

It was a brilliant statement, the kind that incenses everyone and leads to an overwhelming backlash. Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual leader of the Church of England, declared that certain aspects of Sharia law should be adopted in the United Kingdom. What an ass.

I had picked up a couple of books at the airport on my way back from London last week. One of them was Londonistan by Melanie Phillips, which I am reading now. Ms Phillips’ writing style is slightly hysterical and the book is repetitive and not very well structured, but it seems to be well researched and it is captivating reading. Londonistan is strongly reminiscent of Oriana Fallaci’s writings on a similar topic.

And in Londonistan, Melanie Phillips warns against people like Dr Williams – British public figures that kowtow to Muslims and Islam. People that are willing to compromise their own culture and traditions so that they won’t be branded as racists. People that don’t understand the nature of Islam or of Sharia law.

Dr Williams said that the approach that there is “one law for everybody and that’s all there is to be said…is a bit of a danger,” and that religious law needs to be incorporated into the UK’s legal system.

Misguided, to say the least. In fact, the opposite is true. In a country like the UK, with its long-established traditions of liberty and democracy and the system of English common law that has developed over about a millennium, there is only one law for everyone and it has to remain that way. Immigrants adapt to the laws of the country they immigrate to, not the other way round. And I’ll come right out and say it – anyone who wants Sharia law is welcome to move to a country where they already have it.

Dr Williams has opened up a big can of worms and I think that’s good – this is a topic that people should be vocal about. It is time for the British to stop compromising and to start protecting their own culture. They should stop apologising for their colonial past and they have to stop trying to make amends for it by bending over backwards to appease Muslims or anyone else.


“It’s not over until God says it’s over”

Wednesday, 9 January 2008
Nadia Eweida

Thus spake Nadia Eweida, the British Airways worker who in October 2006 sued the airline because they wouldn’t let her wear a necklace whilst on the job. The airline’s policy had been that any necklace worn had to be out of sight under the worker’s uniform. Ms Eweida’s necklace happened to be a cross so she claimed religious discrimination.

This is what I wrote about the case (as part of a slightly longer rant against people making empty claims of religious discrimination) when it first became news :

British Airways worker. Get over yourself. The issue is not religious. The issue is not your stupid little cross. According to British Airways, the policy is about jewellery in general. If you would like to wear a necklace with your airline worker’s uniform, you must keep it under the uniform. It doesn’t matter if it’s a cross, a star, a heart, a circle or the goddamned Hope diamond. And if you don’t like BA’s jewellery policy, go find yourself another job.

Yesterday an employment tribunal decided against Ms Eweida, which is an excellent thing.

British Airways has in the meantime changed its policy and workers are now allowed to display “symbols of faith”. What a gutless move on BA’s part. Either ban jewellery or don’t, but don’t play along with the religious freaks.

So Ms Eweida lost her case, but influenced BA to change its policy, which should have been enough to allow her to go home happy. But no, she wants to prolong her 15 minutes in the limelight and force some ill-conceived notion of religious discrimination down our throats. She has vowed to proceed with her case.

“It’s not over until God says it’s over.”

But God has said it’s over, honey. He has spoken through the employment tribunal. It’s just that you are not listening, are you? Typical fucking zealot.

Thank you, employment tribunal. That’s one point for reason so far in 2008.