December 28th, 2005


Legal Niceties with your host, Al the Pal

According to both the United Nations Convention Against Torture and U.S. law, a detained prisoner may not be "rendered" -- that is, transferred abroad by the detaining nation -- if there are "substantial grounds" for believing that the prisoner will be tortured.

However, and tellingly in light of recent cases and an all-time peak in the number of U.S.-detained prisoners who have been "rendered", our Attorney General, Alberto Gonzalez -- the nation's highest-ranking law enforcement officer, who you may remember as having drafted a memo in which he called the Geneva Conventions "outdated" and urged that American forces not consider themselves subject to same -- claims that the standard applied by the military and intelligence communities under the Bush administration is that it is "more likely than not" that no torture will take place.


GONZALEZ: Now, Col. Bashir, if we render this prisoner to you in Jordan, are you going to torture him?

BASHIR: I would say there is no better than a 49% chance he will be tortured by us.

GONZALEZ: Good enough. Here you go.


In addition to playing the odds, Gonzalez says "additional assurances are required" from countries with a history of using torture. He further claims that U.S. government officials have even "checked on some" rendered prisoners to make sure that they're not being mistreated.


GONZALEZ: Now, Gen. Karimov, we'd love to render this prisoner to you in Uzbekistan, but the fact is, you've got a bad reputation.

KARIMOV: You don't say so. For what possible reason?

GONZALEZ: Well, you tend to boil people.

KARIMOV: Boil people, is that what?

GONZALEZ: To death.

KARIMOV: Look, Mr. General Gonzialev, I am not saying there has not been boiling. There has been boiling. Sometimes people get boiled, there's really not anything you can do about it. It's the price of democracy, the occasional boiling-to-death.

GONZALEZ: I understand.

KARIMOV: But I am here to tell you: I give you my personal assurance that this prisoner will probably not be boiled.

GONZALEZ: Probably?

KARIMOV: The odds are less than 1 in 2 than he will be boiled to death.

GONZALEZ: Can you give me some kind of additional assurance?

KARIMOV: I will go as far as to say that the odds are an even more robust 3 to 1 against that he will be torn into sections after being chained to the bumpers of jeeps headed in opposite directions.

GONZALEZ: All right. We'll let you have him. But we might come and check to see if he's okay!

KARIMOV: Really?

GONZALEZ: Well, there's about a .007% chance. Much less than the odds of him being boiled, but it's still a possibility.

KARIMOV: We will endeavor to keep that in mind.
ho ho ho

So, Christmas

It was spent in Minneapolis with my gal ninafarina, who I love like crazy. This probably shouldn't be the place or the time for me to mush out, because nobody likes that shit, but honestly, gang: she is beautiful and smart and honest and incredible and talented, and she's doing the most amazing job raising a fantastic kid on her own, and she's sexy and kind and really together, and she puts up with me which argues for canonization just by itself. It's been about 24 hours since I saw her last and already I miss her like mad. I never did anything to deserve someone so great in my life, so I always try to be worthy of this kind of crazy luck.

- Having an order at Outback Steakhouse (clap clap clapclapclap) turn out 66% wrong, but also getting a free frozen peach drink thing that was kind of like a mildly alcoholic Slurpee.
- Drinking Tom & Jerry's made by ninafarina's dad and playing Trivial Pursuit on the floor
- Cuddling up with my gal and discussing the dramatic impact of Ethan Hawk's goofy hat in Hamlet
- Sitting in an emergency care clinic and having everyone in the joint assume that I beat my girlfriend
- A pretty-good-if-I-say-so-myself Christmas dinner of glazed ham with apricots, garlic mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, and Basque pepper & rice soup
- Lunch at the Good Earth with my honey and her kid, with highlights including a great sesame flatbread and their house tea
- Thinking and talking about the future
- That one obvious thing that I'm not gonna go into any detail about but yeah
- Watching ninafarina's cats flip out over the crunchy poms they got for Christmas
- Just generally spending a wonderful weekend with the two gals I love most

- Walking over piles of snow and ice saying "I'm on top of the mountain!"
- Saying, in response to my inquiry about whether she wanted to go to REI, "No! I'm not a baby!"
- Playing with a toy mop in a way that she will probably never want to play with a real mop
- Surprising me with the revelation that I can actually get sick of watching The Simpsons
- Falling asleep in my arms for the first time

- A nifty book about hiking in, around, and near the Twin Cities from my gal's parents
- Dennis DiClaudio's new book (which is very funny) from my gal
- A swell coupon book/indie guide/green living catalog for the TCs from my gal
- Another thing from my gal which will remain secret for the time being but which is totally awesome
- A book of basic writings of Nietzsche and a Miles Davis CD from Doug & Andrea
- Some martini glasses and the DVD of Wisconsin Death Trip from my boss
- A whole box o' swag from calamityjon, including some Black Bee pepper sauce, some Hamuchan notepaper for Li'l' Duce, an elfocentric minicomic, and this amazing book of essays, quotes, articles, and short humor on the subject of drinking, written in 1957 by a ton of British humorists, artists and writers, and featuring some really keen illustrations

Well, I guess I better get back to work. I have at least 2 hours worth of stuff to do and the place is now jam-packed with two other people besides me. I hope you kids had as fine a Christmas as I did.