[Movie Review] The X-Files: I Want to Believe

Let me say at the outset: No, it wasn’t better than The Dark Knight.

But, as a self-confessed X-Phile (I adimitted to The Boyfriend last night that when I was 15 I used to have a fansite — on Geocities… ah the memories!!) … I FRICKING LOVED IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh Chris Charter, what a champ. This movie, as I mentioned in my tweet on the way out of the cinema, was gratuitous, self-indulgent fluff.  I am pretty sure if he wasn’t CHRIS CARTER and didn’t have his own production company, no dope in Hollywood would touch the script… but he made the movie for himself and like-minded fans, and for that I salute him :)

Teehee what jolly good fun!!

The Boyfriend says I owe him big-time for making him sit there (“That is two hours of my life I will never get back”, et cetera) but I submit that I totally said he didn’t have to see it with me since he had no idea what was going on.

Sqeeee! LOVED IT!

That is all :)

on writing

Just another quick post today; I just wanted to mention something.

It’s about writing style. I read this interesting piece on the topic a couple of weeks ago and it got me a’pondering about writing, or, more specifically, about how I write (because, as you must know by now, everything is always about me).

One of the 7 tips from the article is “sound like yourself”.

Annie has often said that she likes my writing because it sounds just like I talk, which I take as one of the loveliest compliments ever,

Then one of the tumblrers I follow quoted a following paragraph from weblebrity Julia Allison’s most recent column that got me thinking about a terrible habit I know I’ve do when I write.  The bit she’d “plucked … at random to say that punctuation like this boggles my mind” was this:

The good news (for you!): The creation of online systems of transmission (MySpace, YouTube, Facebook, Wikipedia), with their myriad channels for exposure—and resulting adoption and mutations—has exponentially sped up meme transmissions.

I know I’ve got a bit of a penchant for the odd aside, or 3, in the process of trying to make a point about something, but I hope I don’t do it as horribly as that.

So that’s all. I just wanted to write a bit about writing.  Which is really what this blog is for, I guess.

What sort of bad writing habits do you have? And/or what bugs you?

Why WA media sucks reason #8,530,269

Ok super quick rant but this just cannot go without mention.

We all know Teh West is the torchbearer for shit, sensationalist journalism, but TWAT “Chief Of Staff” Liam Phillips seems to have decided to step up to make a challenge to that title. Maybe it’s all the post-Tour de France, pre-Olympic competitive spirit coming out.

Young Phillips has posted a gem of a “opinion” piece highlighting the ignorance and just unbelievabe stupidness that makes this charming state well-known for being red-neck hicks who just love spouting their visceral knee-jerk affrontedness at the drop of a hat. (Lots of adjectives = Sunili is pissed off.)

On the coronial inquest into the suicide of Simon Rochford, the prisoner who topped himself after it was revealed he was the suspect in a 1994 murder (for which Andrew Mallard was wrongfully convicted and jailed), Phillips essentially wonders why we should cry for Rochford, when, frankly, he was just a roach:

… the most surprising aspect of the inquest’s coverage is the victimised way in which Rochford has often been presented.

Sure he committed suicide – a sad act. But let’s not forget, this man was no altar boy. He was a convicted killer serving a life jail term for the brutal murder of his girlfriend Brigitta Dickens in July 1994.

He became involved in the Pamela Lawrence case because he was suspected of bludgeoning her to death – a reasonable assumption, you would think, given his track record.

Uuuuuhhhh. Gee, well, um, I only did a law degree and now work at the Court and stuff, but I have a strange feeling that you’re not really supposed to make “reasonable assumptions” based on prior convictions, unless it’s in a very narrow set of circumstances. Or something. Heck, correct me if I’m wrong, eh?

See also:

For me, it’s all a bit of a moot point anyway. The ultimate aim of this exercise is to establish who killed Pamela Lawrence.

And committing suicide the day you have been named as a suspect is not the typical action of an innocent man.

Not only is that just totally effing offensive to anyone who knows the slightest thing about the principles of criminal justice (establishing who killed her kinda needs a trial and stuff, which we can’t have since the guy’s dead, but hey, I could be wrong again) … I have a feeling it takes the vitriole of “law and order” ranting in this state down to new lows.

Or maybe I’m just lucky to not have read anything worse in recent memory.

But what’s worse besides, that’s just the kinda moron attitude that gets the wrong person locked up for 12 years, isn’t it?

Twat.

I bloody hope my idol Patti Chong has a go at this knob on Thursday.

PS: Today’s iGoogle quote of the day is amusingly appropriate:

People everywhere confuse what they read in newspapers with news.
AJ Liebling

I cannot believe these douchebags get away with publishing and justifying it as “opinion”.  How the hell do people get these gigs? Why are they not made to write “I will not tell lies” on the back of their hands with magical mean-quills? Fucktards. Sorry. This really irks me.

The 4-Hour Work Week?

When I entered the title right up there I typo-ed “The 40Hour Work Week”. That’s a Freudian slip and a half if you ever saw one.

So I have decided to do away with all the whinging and whining I have included in this blog recently and have thereby resolved to get up off my butt and start doing something to fix it.

I have had this wishy-washy goal nestled in the back of my mind all year and the other day, when I took a mental health day, I plugged in my mobem and did a bit of research. I figured out exactly what it was that I wanted to do.  I crystallised the goal and I am actually able to start making steps to get there.  When it was just this vague idea I didn’t do anything about it because, frankly, I couldn’t.  Now I have little steps that I can do like items on a to-do list. Nice.

And then today I got a call from a friend who said she knows these people looking for a particular sort of person and I totally fit the bill and she recommended me would it be ok for her to give them my number. And these people are people I have really, really been interested in working for.

So… wow.

I bother to flap my butterfly wings and look what happens.

Also. I took a walk up to Borders and used their weekly Shortlist voucher to pick up The 4-Hour Work Week.

I have a confession to make (and Skink’s probably gonna leave an abusive — yet witty and amusing — comment about it).

I have a thing for self-help books.

I have only ever ACTUALLY read one, a long time ago, but it was good and helpful and I learned lots and I’ve bought like a couple over the last year or so.  I could say it was in the hope that one day I might read them and sort out my life, but more accurately, it was in the hope that they might impart wisdom on me via some sort of wireless-osmosis from my little Ikea bookshelf, because I thought I was better than them.

But yeah, I did think I needed them. (Actually I need and am using stuff that’s a lot stronger, but that’s another story for another post).

Anyway, I’d been hearing bits and bobs about that book around the blogosphere so I decided to give it a shot. Plus the Chicken Soup guy said this:

“It’s about time this book was written. It is a long-overdue manifesto for the mobile lifestyle, and Tim Ferriss is the ideal ambassador. This will be huge.”
–- Jack Canfield

I love the Chicken Soup books! And I am all for the whole mobile working thing.

At completely cursory glance: I really don’t think I need all the internet marketing shit that’s mentioned in the sneaky readers-only page, and I have serious moral-dilemma issues with the whole “outsourcing your life” thing, but I’ll read the book and watch these videos and get back to you on that.

Anyway, I better get back to what feels like an 80-hour work week — I can’t even be all TGIF cause I know I have to come in on the weekend.

But maybe not for long 😛

currently…

eating: leftover lunch for dinner (veg korma and chick pea curry from the Indian place in Paragon 160)

regretting eating: 3 Krispy Kremes (1.5 Original Glazed, 1 Chocolate Iced Creme Filled, 0.5 Cinnamon Apple) (The Boyfriend went to Melbs on work junket and brought them back for me– he is so lovely! But I am seriously questioning accuracy of previous blood test which told me I am not gluten intolerant. But maybe I am just too-much-sugar-and-trans-fat intolerant?)

nursing: a sore hip from when I slipped over (quasi-splits, at that; it was rather the spectacle, I am sure) in the middle of the Hay Street Mall at lunch time on Friday (yeah, I am so the epitome of Grace and Poise.  Not only was it the usual-lunchtime-crowd-busiest-time-of-the-day — it was also school holidays).

waiting: for all my payment summaries so I can get my funken tax return (oh bless you $39,824 HELP repayment threshold!)

planning: all the glorious ways in which to spend aforementioned tax return (pay off credit card, pick up cute purple dress currently on lay-by at Cue, sponsor children in Cambodia/Vietnam, put rest into high interest savings account etc… NOT go to the new Tiffany’s in King Street when it opens on Thursday…)

wondering: if I should bother getting a copy of Grazia.  Or I should just wait to check it out in a doctor’s waiting room next year?

reading: Breath by Tim Winton (reeeeeeeally, really good!)

A final note: The Dark Knight still rocks; three days later. If I wasn’t going to see Lenny Henry tonight I’d be at Piccadilly quicker than you can say Maggie Gyllenhaal (my hip hurts — I can’t walk very fast; plus I have to be careful not to fall over in Hay Street AGAIN). It’s so good I would pay full price to see it again, and I am slightly put off that I have to wait til tight-arsed Tuesday, but so be it. Better tomorrow than Wednesday (since Thursday is when The X-Files movie opens).

If you haven’t already seen this movie… what, The. FRICK are you doing reading this goshdarn blog?  Get up off your booties and go see it now. NOW!!!

Tomorrow: is The Dark Knight the best movie of the year? No. It is the best movie of CENTURY (til X-Files comes out) (nah, kidding, even I have to admit that I Want to Believe will probably not top this).

Also tomorrow: is The Dark Knight really a metaphor about how Obama will be the next President of the USA? Oh no wait. That was Hancock, apparently.

Instead tomorrow: Did I mention that I am freaking OBSESSED WITH THAT Dark Knight MOVIE?? Holy shite. I now understand why people were going a little loco about the whole thing last week. Ficking awesome. AWESOME.

I need a %@#*%@$(@#^!%ing holiday

Today marks the 6 -month anniversary (demi-anniversary?) of my status as a worker-bee.

For the last six months, I have caught the bus or sat in traffic (listening to Nathan and Nat on Nova, of course) to sit in front of a computer screen in a large capsule of concrete, steel and glass (not that I ever see much glass from my cubicle) for several hours, eat rice crackers and cottage cheese at my desk, get massive headaches from the lack of Vitamin-D, then go back home to forrage for tinned soup or whatnot, then collapse into bed, just to wake up and do it all over again.

(That sentence was long and exhausting for a reason.  Any of you wannabe sub-editors who are clenching their jaws should desist and sigh with relief at the knowledge that yes, I know the rules of grammar, so I have the right to break them, a’iight?)

But what about weekends, you ask? How can today be the demi-anniversary when today is Saturday?

Because I am working today, thankyouverymuch.

My co-worker-bee has skipped town to visit the Pope the week we have a massive deadline (but to be fair, this mofo project shoulda been done months ago, and when she booked her leave we all assumed it would be gonekthxbai) and The Boss has me doing work I shouldn’t even be doing. Let alone have the capacity to do. And I am freaking out about it.

I did get out to see The Dark Knight — which is freaking AWESOME and they showed The X-Files: I Want to Believe trailer which looks like it’s going to be EVEN MORE AWESOME — this morning but I didn’t get to sleep in because I knew I had to get to the first session or else the whole day would be wasted.

This nuerotic, bitching post probably shouldn’t be here; I suppose I could’ve put it in my anonymous nuerotic-bitching blog, but I swear, I have a point.

My point is this:

I NEED A MOTHER-FUNKING HOLIDAY GOSHDARNIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh, my other point: people are way too overworked and we live in a society that is too fast-paced where we have too-high expectations on us and it is totally shit and we need to figure out a better way. Right now. Because this effing sucks, people. Yeah, I said “effing”. You know it’s bad.

I am just EXHAUSTED. My brain hurts. My body aches. I can’t be arsed going to the shops to get anything decent for dinner and Lean Cuisines are NOT about “Looking After Yourself” unless you are some strange bot who survives on expensive cardboard beans. My two weeks’ of regularly going to the gym is staring at me  and in sad, lonely, mouth-gaping shock and I have even stopped caring about the fact my hair looks like I should be one of the principles in Wicked. The only upside is that The Boyfriend is on a graduates’ junket with his work this weekend so at LEAST it doesn’t matter that I haven’t waxed my legs.

I feel the odd mix of catatonia and rage that signals an imminent breakdown, and I am freaking out.

There was a post on fabulous new (shiny new! Like 4-days-old new! NEW new!!) Perth blog Beyond Beeton that totally made me feel like I was in Oprah’s audience (on one of the serious episodes not the ones with the free stuff, unfortunately — wouldn’t that just be freaking GREAT?) and I just wanted to nod all seriously and shout out “AMEN, SISTER” in a manner befitting a large, Southern, African-American lady. And I suppose I could have since there was no one in the office because EVERYONE IS ON HOLIDAYS.

But of course, I am a small South-Asian Australian girl, and even I would have thought it kind of out of place.

Anyway, I will replicate the fervor-inducing passages from the post “Feminism really needs to go away and leave me alone for a while” here:

There’s nothing more empowering than having your apron strings untied from the sink.

Unless you get untied from the sink so that you can trot off in a wool suit to your box on the terrace for every daylight hour and more besides, after which you will glamorously engage in up-to-the-minute witty banter with 40 of your nearest and dearest colleagues who you are dining with again. You then of course go home, ring your mother and actually listen to what she says, clean the toilet, put the bin out (you’re a liberated woman after all), read the paper and a few novels (see the witty banter point above), bake something nice to take to work tomorrow and save at least 15 children from starvation or tractor accidents or something, all while looking hopelessly alluring.

If you’re managing all that and vodka isn’t a part of your daily routine then I hate you and there is nothing for you here.

AMEN, SISTER. A-fricking-MEN.

I wonder if the other Buddhists will notice that I’m breaking a precept during our version of Lent if I crack open the sav-blanc in the fridge that I am looking after for a friend who left it at a work do and have totally forgotten to give back (because I do not function til I get off the bus and to Ristretto, and always forget to take it to work)?

Because I have a forbording sense of desperation and fear that everything is not going to be alright.

Ah well. At least I have blogging with which to vent.

PS — Beeton, if you are reading this: I can’t comment on your posts because it says I need to log in? But you’re not on wordpress.com? Can you please check that? I would be sad if I can’t comment, and I’m sure everyone here would *realise* how truly nutso I was if I resorted to posting here so that I could ping back to you.

[book review] The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory

The Boleyn Inheritance

3 of 5 stars

Oh my. Even though I knew/could easily guess the ending here, it left me feeling pretty horrid. Don’t read this if you wish to have romanticised visions of Henry VIII in your head; Gregory makes him out to be a complete and utter nutjob, and a gross fat, stinky nutjob at that. Which is probably about right.

I noticed another reviewer mentions the ‘myopic’ sense of narrative in this novel, and that’s pretty spot on. There is quite the sense of icky claustrophobia — quite possibly just as Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard felt while in Henry’s company.

This was definitely a lot darker than The Other Boleyn Girl, and I would hardly call it a romance. But it was still alright.  Pre-feminism angst sources abound.

View all my reviews.

why can’t the papists take a joke?

Well, I’m highly relieved that the Federal Court has agreed to declare the Don’t Annoy the Catholics Law 2008 (NSW) unconstitutional.

Justices Catherine Branson, Robert French and Margaret Stone today ruled the specific clause relating to annoying and inconveniencing pilgrims went beyond the intention of State Parliament.

In 2006, the Parliament passed the World Youth Day Act which allowed the World Youth Day Authority to pass the annoyance clause in 2008.

… However, [Justice Robert French] said the annoyance clause was invalid because it could not have been the intention of Parliament to make such vague and extensive limits to free speech.

Thank heavens for rationality and common sense. (The full judgment is online here.)

But I am not impressed by this:

In dismissing the other points of the [NoToPope Coalition]’s claim, Justice French found that parts of the act banning the sale of certain items including stickers, badges and T-shirts did not infringe upon the right to free political communication.

Humph.

I personally have nothing against Catholics (both The Boyfriend and The BFF are both of that particular variant of the Christian faith) but, having seen the lameness of the high levels of offendability at The University of Our Lady No Fun, I think it’s crap that, first, s116 of the Consitution is as weak as fingernails after a nice long bubble bath (’cause then Frenchy could find the fact that the NSW and Federal governments are spending stacks of cash to appease a bunch of boring over-pious pilgrims is highly wrong) and secondly, that the NSW Government decided they needed a bloody law banning funny t-shirts in the first place.

Fer Chrissakes. A t-shirt or a few bumper stickers ain’t gonna kill anyone.

And if we have to see and hear the media flooding on and on about the Pope this and a few pilgrims got the flu (oh, horror) that, surely it’d be good to see some pics of funny t-shirts among the masses at the Masses.

But frankly, it’s fricking lame that the government feels they need to protect all the Catholic kiddies from a few amusing bumper stickers (why the heck didn’t they give them all a free bloody flu shot, that’s what I want to know).

Funny t-shirts and slogans are the shizz, and Pope Benny and his Vat-City homeboyz* clearly have a sense of humour. When confirming that the Pope’s hot red shoes were made by his personal cobbler and not, contrary to media speculation, Prada, the Vatican said:

The Pope, in summary, does not wear Prada, but Christ.

Ok, it totally coulda been funnier had they employed me to write their media releases, but the point is they tried. I’m sure they even think the pics comparing Benny with Senator Palpatine is amusing and clever. I bet they totally wouldn’t care about a few funny t-shirts that say “The Pope Touched Me Down Under” or “WYD/SYD… proof that the rhythm method is flawed” or “Abstinence makes the Church grow Fondlers” or these:

Lucy Carter)

"The Pope Annoys Me!" (ABC News: Lucy Carter)

But it’s probably even sadder that most of the pompous, pious poof ponces really would have had a boo-hoo cry-cry over jokes such as these. Someone I work with, who’s in Sydney for the festivities, was vehemently offended when I forwarded an amusing pic that said something like “Sponsor A Lion for World Youth Day”.  She’s not even Catholic; she just jumped on her boyfriend’s bandwagon. (Dunno if the Pope really wants to bless them, though. They live in sin.)

Chill the frick out, people. It just a joke.

But, ah well, at least the Court got it right here.

*Pope Benny is “clrly” a gangsta. Duh, he drives around with bodyguards and bullet-proof protection and has a thing for shoes, just like Kanye and Jay-Z et al:

via News.com.au

K Rudd meets his hero; old men wear dresses and hot-pink hats (via News.com.au)

la belle vie

I did French at primary school for like (counts) (thinks) (counts more) 4 years. I couldn’t take it up properly in high school ’cause we did some fancy “immersion” program where they teach you normal subjects in other languages (so there were some kids who finished a year not knowing much about French or science/social studies) rather than learning all the proper rules about grammar and stuff.

(When I did lessons at Alliance while I was at uni I learned about grammatical concepts for the very first time.)

Anyway, I haven’t kept up with it since I was a poor uni student but I totally want to go back and learn.  Until I can get things organised I have decided to try reading French blogs.

Only the ones with lots of pictures, of course.

And damn, the French are so chic right now.

Actually, they always have been, haven’t they?

Maintenait. Les blogs française: Une Chic Fille, garance doré, cé.com.ça, sooishi et les grande filles ModE’lle. Magnifique!

Law & Order meets The X-Files: what happens when you sue George W Bush

This is perhaps the most intense, perplexing and intriguing legal tale I have read in a long time. I implore whoever (‘whomever’? I can’t tell from my Collins Dictionary for Writers & Editors. And Borders don’t have the Bill Bryson one, dammit!) of you are reading this to read Jon Eisenberg’s account of the background to the case of Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation Inc v Bush. (PDF of the judgment.)

But it’s kinda long, so if you can’t be bothered… here’s an outline of the best bits… which is also kinda long.

Illegal Surveillance

Eisenberg is one of the lawyers for the now defunct Islamic charity, and his narrative is about how the US government’s representatives have gone to bizarre extremes to stifle a legal challenge to Bush’s warrantless surveillance activities, which a US federal judge says is criminal, anyway:

Judge Walker held that the president lacks the authority to disregard the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA — which means Bush’s warrantless electronic surveillance program was illegal. Whether Bush will ultimately be held accountable for violating federal law with the program remains unclear.

The legal battle has so far gone on for some 28 months of interlocutory proceedings because, in order to get the case up, the plaintiffs have to prove they have standing — ground or authority to sue — because they were the victims of the unlawful conduct being alleged in the suit.

In order to legally conduct electronic surveillance inside the U.S. for intelligence gathering, FISA requires law enforcement/surveillance officials to get a warrant.  President George W. Bush violated FISA requirements for nearly six years, starting shortly after 9/11, but the act actually makes those violations felonious and provides for civil recourse for the victims.

The story of how Al-Haramain’s lawyers negotiated the journey thus far to Judge Walker’s ruling — a team of seven lawyers that includes me — sheds light on how much is at stake for the Bush administration and the country. It is a surreal saga, involving a top-secret document accidentally released by the government, a showdown between Bush lawyers and a federal judge, the violent destruction of a laptop computer by government agents, and possibly even the top-secret shredding of a banana peel.

Doesn’t this feel like a John Grisham novel?  But then story starts to resemble tales by Le Carré or Tom Clancy, too.

The Document

Unlike other parties trying to sue Bush over illegal warrantless wiretapping, these plaintiffs have proof that they were wiretapped —

Our proof is a top-secret classified document, which the government accidentally gave to Al-Haramain’s lawyers in August of 2004. We call it “the Document.” It appeared in a stack of unclassified materials that the lawyers had requested from OFAC. Six weeks later, after the government realized its blunder, FBI agents personally visited each of the lawyers and made them return their copies of the Document …

I can’t publicly reveal what’s in the Document because, well, it’s a secret. I would be committing a crime — a violation of the Espionage Act of 1917 — if I were to do so. But we assert the Document as proof of allegations we have made that in March and April of 2004 the National Security Agency conducted warrantless electronic surveillance of attorney-client communications between a representative of Al-Haramain and two of its attorneys …

The Feds were so freaked out about the Document that they almost had a bit of a blue trying to get back the copy that had been filed with the court by the plaintiffs’ lawyers. Ultimately, the judge was allowed to access the Document while it must be kept under high level security, but the plaintiffs’ lawyers aren’t allowed to see it ever again.

Soon after the Document’s place of reposit was resolved, the government asked Judge King to throw out our lawsuit pursuant to the state secrets privilege, a tactic used aggressively by the Bush government. We opposed that request, arguing that the Document isn’t a secret any longer, since we and our clients have seen it. The government attorneys insisted that the Document is still a secret no matter who knows about it, and further insisted that the warrantless surveillance program itself remains secret — never mind that the New York Times revealed the program in December of 2005 and soon thereafter the president publicly admitted its existence.

The lawyers were directed to draft their arguments concerning the state secrets privilege by “filing secret affidavits describing the Document from memory“. Isn’t that ridiculous? But it got even stranger when Department of Justice attorneys filed two opening briefs in the 9th Circuit Appellate Court on the issue of whether the state secrets privilege required the lawsuit to be thrown out entirely:

One brief was publicly available, to which we would be allowed to file a publicly available responsive brief. The other was filed in secret, under seal, for the judge’s eyes only. The bad news for us was that we would not be permitted to see the government’s secret brief; the (sort of) good news was that we could file our own secret brief in response.

Rebutting arguments you’ve not been allowed to see is a talent that isn’t taught in law school. I consulted Kafka’s “The Trial,” looking for helpful tips, but found none. I tried guessing at what might be in the government’s secret brief and then hazarding a response in our own.

“Oh yeah,” say the Feds. “And another thing…”

Because the Feds were so worked up over the fact the plaintiffs’ lawyers were drafting submissions about the Document, a judge had ordered the parties to “see what you can work out”.  The lawyers agreed to what the Feds wanted, and they ended up

drafting our secret appellate brief in a DOJ office, on a DOJ computer, under the watch of a DOJ security officer — that is, under the auspices and control of our adversary in the legal case.

Anything they wrote down which contained classified information become “derivatively classified” and thus it would be unlawful for the lawyers to possess. Eisenberg says he “wondered whether this meant that the portion of my brain that remembers the Document is also “derivatively classified,” making its presence in my skull unlawful.”

But because of this “derivatively classified” business, all the old drafts produced in the drafting session (in “the San Francisco federal building … on a floor that was strangely deserted … in a small interior room lined with bookshelves that had been completely emptied, except for a few chairs, a large table, a dusty telephone, a laptop computer and a printer”) had to be securely shredded. The banana peel left from Eisenberg’s snack was left by the stack of drafts:

“Here’s everything, even the banana peel.”

Hogarty [the DOJ lawyer] said she would shred the drafts and the banana peel. (She may have been joking about the banana peel, but I couldn’t be sure.)

Also, DOJ officers wiped laptops which had been used to draft earlier submissions (i.e. the ones that weren’t written in the San Fran panopticon):

The situation grew darkly comic. They didn’t have a hammer, so they started debating how to smash the hard drive. I suggested they smack it against the corner of the table that was in the room. That didn’t do much. Hogarty then had an idea to put the thing on the floor and use a table leg on it. [Another officer] put down the hard drive, picked up the table and brought it down several times forcefully. The noise resounded, but the hard drive was impervious. One of the table legs became bent from the procedure. …

I found myself thinking of the Samsonite Gorilla, the TV commercial from the 1970s in which a gorilla stomps on a piece of luggage that just won’t break. I thought: “These people are entrusted with our national security?”

The the sanity of the lawyers arguing the case for the government might also have to be called into question…

What do we know? Really, what do really ever know? Is it what we think we know? No.

My favourite bit of the tale is about how DOJ attorney Thomas Bondy stood at the lectern before three judges of 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and “delivered a mind-boggling rebuttal to our argument that the surveillance of our clients was no longer a secret”:

They don’t know,” Bondy said. “Let me make clear what I mean by that. When plaintiffs explain what they mean when they say they, in quotes, ‘know,’ they don’t know. What they mean when they say that is that they — although they think or believe or claim they were surveilled, it’s possible they weren’t surveilled … When they say they know, what they mean by that, on their own terms, is that they don’t know.”

Bondy went on to argue “it is absolutely clear and undisputed that the world at large, the whole world, does not know whether or not any of the plaintiffs were surveilled.”

Judge McKeown: The world knows what they think they know, whatever that is that they know.

Bondy: Exactly. And that’s less than actually knowing whether it’s true.

Judge McKeown: Boy, we are really splitting the “knows.”

At this point Judge Michael Hawkins interjected: “Sounds like Donald Rumsfeld.”

Bondy: But your honor, let me be plain. If it’s entirely possible, and I’m not saying one way or the other, obviously —

Judge McKeown: Right, because you don’t yet know.

Bondy: It’s entirely possible —

Judge McKeown: And we can’t know.

Bondy: It’s entirely possible that everything they think they know, just to give one example, is completely false. It’s possible, or maybe it’s partly true.

And so on. If I’d been permitted a reply, I would have quoted from Lewis Carroll — not from “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” but from his poem “Jabberwocky”: “Beware the jubjub bird, and shun the frumious Bandersnatch!

The next chapter

The appellate court ruled that the Document’s accidental disclosure does not negate the state secrets privilege.  Public disclosure of information concerning the Document would still threaten national security if it were used in a law suit.  The judicial compromise of allowing the parties to file affidavits about the Document from memory was, determined to be an improper “back door around the privilege.” But the appellate court also made the an order that

Judge Walker [was] to decide whether FISA pre-empts the state secrets privilege in FISA litigation because of provisions in FISA for adjudicating claims under secure and confidential procedural conditions, which would allow our lawsuit to go forward.

On 3 July 2008, Judge Walker “concluded that FISA does indeed preempt the state secrets privilege.” He also addressed the key issue raised by the plaintiff’s lawsuit — the validity of the “unitary executive” theory — and said what they’d been waiting a long time to here:

The president does not have unbridled power to disregard federal statutory law in the name of national security. According to Judge Walker, “the authority to protect national security information is neither exclusive nor absolute in the executive branch. When Congress acts to contravene the president’s authority, federal courts must give effect to what Congress has required.”

But the ruling also sends us back down the rabbit hole once again …

His Honour made a further ruling that because of the peculiar way in which the applicable FISA provisions are drafted, the plaintiffs are not allowed to use the Document to confirm that their clients were wiretapped until they can first make some sort of preliminary showing — using only non-classified information — of “enough specifics” indicating that the clients were wiretapped — a burden Judge Walker suggested might be “insurmountable”:

According to Walker, “if reports are to be believed,” we will have “little difficulty” establishing standing once we are able to use the Document. But we can’t use it yet. At this point, the Document alone just gives us what Walker called “actual but not useful notice” of our clients’ unlawful surveillance. We need something more, from non-classified information, for that “actual” notice to become “useful.”

In other words, we must show that our clients were surveilled before we can show that our clients were surveilled. The irony in this is not lost on Judge Walker, who commented that FISA is “not user-friendly.”

Isn’t that just astounding? Some of the legal bullshit I see everyday is just unbelievably… bullshit; this is just another reason why I struggle to cope in my chosen professional field.

However, some of my faith about that mythical class of being called “good lawyers” has been someone restored.

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