Friday, July 25, 2014

Explore Lexington: "A Late One"

On tap. Image credit: Ryan Valentin

We who live in the Bluegrass are fortunate to have many wonderful places to dine out. And many of these places are participating in Lexington Restaurant Week - going on right now. This means there are $25 multiple course dinners available all over town until August 2.

Sometimes you might find yourself working up a healthy hunger while exploring the areas in and around Lexington. Becoming hangrier and hangrier, you don't have the patience to consult Zagat or Yelp, and end up wandering into the first eating establishment you see. You're hoping to find something speedy, delicious, and reasonably priced.

How can you quickly determine whether the place you find yourself in caters to local tastes, knows and understands the community it is serving, and, perhaps most importantly, will have something you will love to eat? The sign above is all you need to see. If the restaurant has Ale-8-One on tap, you can practically be guaranteed something wonderful is in store.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wednesdays Around the World: Brooklyn Surrenders

Yesterday, parties unknown placed large white flags atop the Brooklyn Bridge in place of the normal Old Glory. This action prompted the media to declare (tongue in cheek)that Brooklyn was surrendering, though it was not clear to whom, and though NYPD promptly removed the white flags.

While various historical accounts trace the use of a white flag to surrender back to ancient times, under international law, the white flag is more properly recognized as the universal "flag of truce." Of course, one of the things you can do with a truce you call is surrender to the other side... Though the concept of the flag of truce evolved through custom, the use of the white flag under international law was formalized in Article 32 of the Hague Convention with Respect to the Laws and Customs of War on Land (1899). Later, the Geneva Conventions further formalized the proper use of the flag of truce under international law. Of course, in the case of the Brooklyn Bridge, it is not clear that any "combatants" as defined by international law, so the Hague and Geneva Conventions most likely do not apply.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Explore Lexington: Southland Jamboree

Bluegrass in the Bluegrass. Image credit: Ryan Valentin

Spending summer in Lexington? Enjoy bluegrass music? Tuesday evenings free of obligations? If you answered yes to all, then you are in for a treat. With a stage located on the side of the Collins Bowling Center on Southland Drive, the Southland Jamboree features bluegrass bands every Tuesday evening at 7:00 pm throughout the summer.

Bluegrass bands every Tuesday evening throughout the summer – sounds good if you’re rich, right?! You’re probably wondering how much this is going to cost you. Turns out not one single, solitary penny. Southland Jamboree performances are free and open to the public. Made possible through local sponsorship, quality performances in the great wide open air under a big blue sky is brought to the people gratis. So dust off your lawn chairs, pack a picnic, and prepare to be entertained!

Know before you go: 
  1. Arrive Early: this place gets packed, especially on one of our many beautiful summer evenings.
  2. Eat & Drink: your experience will be better if you have something to snack on.
  3. Chair | Blanket: sit back, relax, and listen to some great tunes.       

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Wednesdays Around the World: American Freedom, French Frenchness

This week, two major court cases on the tension between secular laws and religious freedom concluded with markedly different results. In the United States, the Supreme Court issued its long-awaited Hobby Lobby opinion, which found that requiring closely-held corporations to provide certain forms of birth control to their employees potentially violates the religious freedom of their owners, as provided by the First Amendment and the RFRA. In a rather different approach to the question, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) upheld a French law that bans covering one's face in public, despite the fact that the law interferes with the open practice of some forms of Islam. Essentially the ECHR found that the French law served a valid secular purpose and did not specifically target religious practices (this last point on French motivation is debatable), and that therefore the law did not violate the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which is a treaty that sort of functions as a pan-European Bill of Rights.

The two cases highlight the different cultural and legal values of the two countries. In the U.S. individual rights and limited government are emphasized, and religiosity is expressly accommodated. In France, liberté plays a large role but is tempered by the assimilating principles of égalité and fraternité, and the government actively advances secularism as a national value. The same French legal culture can also be seen in a recent limitation of the display of foreign flags during the course of the World Cup. No word yet as to whether Niçoise fans of Algeria are planning on appealing the interdiction to the ECHR.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Karmic Justice?

Sometimes undeserved good fortune can lead to unexpectedly tragic outcomes. Here's the story of a man who was acquitted by mistake when the jury signed the wrong form. Read what happened to him immediately afterward. He would have been better off staying in jail.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Wednesdays Around the World: Beautiful Game, Ugly Politics

The 2014 World Cup kicks off tomorrow in Brazil. While soccer fans the world over revel in the sport, pageantry, and excuse to engage in 19th Century-style nationalism, FIFA, the  governing body of international soccer, has faced a fair share of criticism over some of its practices lately.

The Brazilian government has spent an inordinately large amount of money (Brazil features a significant wealth-disparity gap and a significant number of its citizens live in poverty) in order to host the World Cup, a fact that was met with protests during last year's Confederations Cup (sort of a World Cup dry-run that FIFA organizes the year before each World Cup) and that has again inspired protests this year. Apparently the wasteful spending is significant enough even to attract the attention of Pelé, the world's most famous footballer, and noted corporate shill.

However, FIFA's problems are not limited to the current World Cup. The 2022 World Cup is slated to be held in Qatar, where it is estimated that 4000 foreign workers will die constructing stadiums for the event under slave-like conditions. Furthermore, allegations have surfaced that Qatar bought votes in the site selection process, and FIFA sponsors have expressed concerns about the appearance of corruption. To make matters worse, FIFA's prime response to the allegations has been to play the race card.

In fact, FIFA's troubles have accrued to the extent that it finds itself as the target of John Oliver's latest rant. As John Oliver notes, however, the ugliness of FIFA will not deter millions across the globe from watching the beauty of the sport.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Wednesdays Around the World: Prisoner Exchanges

Over the weekend, President Obama announced the exchange of five detainees in Guantanamo for the only American held by the Taliban in Afghanistan. While some opposition legislators have questioned the exchange, prisoner exchanges during wartime have an established place in International Law. The Convention Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, signed in The Hague in 1907 articulated many of the rules of the customary Laws of Nations on the conduct of wars. Article 14 of the Convention deals in part with procedures for dealing with exchanged prisoners.

Furthermore, prisoner exchanges have featured prominently in American military history from the Revolution onwards. In fact, Grant's refusal to exchange prisoners during the Civil War (partially in order to press the North's manpower advantage and partially as a response to the South's refusal to recognize African American soldiers as prisoners of war) caused a mild controversy at the time.