Monday, 27 June 2022

better call saul

A distinctly foreign concept outside the United States and maybe we’ve been too indulgent of its hegemony on the internet and elsewhere of late but the 1977 decision of the US Supreme Court, issued on this day in 1977, upheld the right of attorneys to advertise their services, arguing that as commercial speech, it was entitled to protection under the first amendment to the US constitution—as promulgated through the fourteenth. In Bates v the State Bar of Arizona, the justices emphasised the benefits of information and disclosure to consumers through the vehicle of advertising and makes services more accessible to the general public and enhance the overall administration of justice. The American Bar Association had allowed for legal services to be listed in telephone directories but held that newspaper or hoarding advertisement—especially one with a price-list—goes too far. The court sided with the plaintiffs, as it had done the previous summer for the pharmaceutical industry, ruling that the consumer-interest in transparency in costs outweighed the desire to maintain collegial decorum among apothecaries.

Saturday, 25 June 2022

8x8

morning chorus: a suspended hotel suite in Sรกpmi cladded with three-hundred fifty birdhouses 

meanwhile margaret atwood says hold my beer: teach and student, Aldous Huxley and George Orwell, spar over which dystopian vision is more plausible  

don’t say g*y: Disney introduces its first openly closeted cast of characters  

makeup and monobrow: a quick survey of the female eyebrow in art 

border and backsplash: the mosaic tile museum of Gifu—over ten-thousands exemplars, many rescued from buildings slated for demolition 

i had hoped that god would work one of his signature miracles and spare me from is also signature “horrible pain in childbirth” curse: the Virgin Mary reclaims her nativity narrative  

stonk-and-go: the US Securities and Exchange Commission weighs sweeping change to curtail meme-driven trades  

a doghouse for eddie: charmingly, Frank Lloyd Wright (previously) builds a home for a canine and his human companion

Friday, 24 June 2022

§219a

While most providers and recipients are prosecuted, abortion remains illegal (with broad exceptions) in Germany but there are pledges and plans to wholly decriminalise it—with the first major step in this direction coming with a government coalition moving to strike a law from the criminal code that dates back to Nazi times, which states that anyone publicly advertising or offers abortion services can face imprisonment or fines. Though sparingly enforced, the restriction (Werbung fรผr den Abbruch der Schwangerschaft) meant a distinct dearth of information accessible for those in a situation dealing with family-planning—such as the credibility of potential providers, possible side-effects and after-care processes. This decision was carried through on the same day as the US Supreme Court announced that they would be overturning the landmark case Roe v Wade, which guaranteed generally the liberty of choice to terminate a pregnancy.

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

texas v johnson

The landmark decision announced on this day in 1989, a split US Supreme Court invalidated prohibitions against the desecration of the American flag, which at the time of issuance were on the books of forty eight of fifty state jurisdictions, ruling first that the category of protected speech as defined by the US constitution as amended extends to symbolic acts and that counter arguments against the plaintiff’s right of expression of a compelling interest to protect a venerated symbol and to prevent a “breach of peace” that allowing the above might incite failed to reach the threshold for its continued abridgment. The defendant, activist Gregory “Joey” Johnson, then an associate of the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade, had engaged in a political demonstration during the 1984 Republican National Convention, held in Dallas, which re-nominated the Reagan administration, culminating in dousing a flag in kerosene and burning it, chanting “America, the red, white and blue—we spit on you! You stand for plunder, you will go under!” The protest was peaceful but some spectators were profoundly offended by the act, prompting one onlooker to collect the ashes and inter them in their backyard. Johnson’s conviction was initial not upheld by the state judges under the same logic and appeals elevated the matter to the high court, represented by civil rights attorney William Kunstler. There have been numerous attempts by congress to subvert the ruling by introducing an amendment to the constitution excluding the national flag from first amendment protections, which have been generally introduced around the anniversary of this ruling and have all failed to pass the senate. On 20 June 2016 while protesting the RNC in Cleveland, Johnson was arrested after burning a US flag on unclear charges, with the state of Ohio paying him nearly a quarter of a million dollars in restitution three years later, admitting his arrest was unwarranted and a violation of his free speech

Sunday, 19 June 2022

lift every voice and sing

On the anniversary of the 1862 prohibition of chattel slavery in the unincorporated territories of the United States—a compromise and even-split that in another form continues to this day—and more than two years after president Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on New Year’s Day 1863, freeing the enslaved individuals in all the secessionists states of the Confederacy, Union Major General Gordon Granger arrived on the island of Galveston on this day in 1865 to take command of two thousand federal troops deployed to enforce manumission and oversee reconstruction efforts, delivering General Order Three:

The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labour.

Though freedom did not come uniformly to the South and borderlands, along with the rest of the country, and there is much work to be done yet to achieve social justice and harmony, Juneteenth marks a pivotal moment in the history of the struggle for recognition and equality. Though officially commemorated in some jurisdictions, with the status of a state holiday, since 1980, it was not until 2021 it became a national wide observance as a second and consequential independence day.

Saturday, 11 June 2022

jahrbuch fรผr sexuelle zwischenstufen

Having been acquainted with the ground-breaking research of sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld previously, we appreciated the opportunity to revisit to the progressive views of this champion of reform and inclusion and the regressive forces that would undermine and undo his legacy and contributions through the lens of his Scientific-Humanitarian Committee and its annual Yearbook for Sexual Intermediaries that explored the full spectrum of sexual and gender identities and activities of the queer community. These studies and ethnographies went on to inform Hirschfeld’s authoritative 1904 volume Berlin’s Third Sex, a modish label of convenience in common-parlance at the time to express a continuum for which we are still searching for the right words. Much more from Public Domain Review at the link above.

Tuesday, 7 June 2022

line of demarcation

Signed on this day in its namesake town on the Douro river in 1494, the Treaty of Tordesillas (Tratado de Tordesilhas, see previously) divided the so called New World—those lands new to European explorers—between the Spanish and Portuguese Empires along a meridian in the Atlantic judged halfway in between the Cape Verde island group (then a crown colony of Portugal) and the lands claimed for Castile and Leon by Christopher Columbus, modern-day Cuba and Hispaniola) with points east going to the latter and westward to the former. The Treaty of Zaragoza in 1529 defined the antemeridian to address the other side of the globe in order to settle conflicting claims to the Moluccas Islands, an Indonesia archipelago historically called the Spice Islands. Though blessed-off by the pope, newly discovered peoples viewed this claim with disdain and other European powers did not sign on and generally ignored the treaties, Francis I (albeit representing one of the worst future colonisers) declaiming, “The sun shines for me as it does for others. I would very much like to see the clause of Adam’s will that denies me my share of the world.” The signatories considered the arrangement null and void by 1750, notwithstanding competition and their general decline as global powers, swapping rights Brazil and the Philippines.

Wednesday, 1 June 2022

the stresa convention

Hosted in the above Italian city on the shores of Lago di Maggiore on this day 1951, the International Treaty on the Use of Appellations of Origin and Denomination of Cheeses (see also) was adopted by the members of the European Community (EC) and went into force two years later—providing a framework for protection of goods manufactured and matured in regions by dent of local, loyal and uninterrupted traditions—plus relief from imitators. The first annex lists Gorgonzola, Parmigiana Romano, Pecorino and Roquefort. The second annex includes Asiago, Camembert, Cambozola, Danablu, Edam, Emmental, Esrom, Gouda, Gruyรฉre and Samsรถe.

Monday, 30 May 2022

let us discard all these things and unite as one people

Dedicated on this day (the then fixed date for the Memorial Day federal holiday, also known as Decoration Day) in 1922 at the western terminus of the National Mall in Washington, DC, the Beaux-Arts neoclassical temple by architect Henry Bacon and featuring colossal marble statue of the United States sixteenth president by Daniel Chester French and executed by the Piccirilli family, the Lincoln Memorial has always been a draw to visitors and since its early days throughout the past century has been a symbolic focus for race relations and social justice in America. Planning begun in 1910 to erect a suitable monument to the individual whose administration and sacrifice helped preserve the union and ended chattel slavery as a government sanctioned institution and many felt that the Doric temple was too ostentatious for an individual of humble character and championed a log cabin shrine though Paris’ proposal ultimately passed. Chief Justice William Howard Taft (who had been appointed president of the memorial’s planning commission during his term as president of the United States), president Warren G Harding and Robert Todd Lincoln, the statesman’s eldest son, officially opened the venue with a delegation of prominent Black politicians of the day, including Mississippi congressional representative Perry Howard, journalist and editor Emmett Jay Scott and real estate businessman Whitefield McKinlay, invited—only to discover that they were cordoned off in a segregated section guarded by a contingent of marines. Its reputation as a sacred and aspirational place has since been established, with one of the first instances being Eleanor Roosevelt offering the venue in 1939 to contralto Marian Anderson when the Daughters of the American Revolution refused her to perform to an integrated audience at Constitution Hall.

in god’s name—let us go on bravely

Compelled by visions of Saints Michael, Margaret and Catherine to seek audience with the nominal heir to the throne of France, an unlikely ask for a sixteen-year-old girl from a peasant family yet she persisted, our Joan of Arc (Jeanne d’Arc) laid out her plan to end English domination over France, a state of affairs dragged out over the Hundred Years’ War, who was then field-promoted and sent as part of a relief battalion for the besieged city of Orlรฉans. Victory there was followed by several other successful campaigns under Joan’s leadership in the Loire Valley and and decisive defeats for the English in Patay and Reims—where Charles VII was re-crowned as king of France. Captured in Compiรจgne by the enemy allies the Burgundians while advancing to Paris, Joan was put on trial not as an enemy combatant nor as traitor but rather in an ecclesiastic court sympathetic to its occupiers for the heresy of presenting herself as a man and not being deemed sufficiently repentant about it. Over and above all other considerations about what a female suit of armour or other soldier’s uniform might have even been, it was surely more practical for Joan to carry herself this way and it was added protective measure against abduction and assault by other soldiers. Suffering these fools and sham proceedings, Joan maintained a brave bearing and was executed, burnt at the stake, on this day in Rouen, Normandy (then part of England) in 1431, aged nineteen—canonised finally in 1920 and venerated as the protector and patroness of martyrs, military personnel and political prisoners.

Sunday, 29 May 2022

he’s had a little to drink—i don’t know what her excuse is

Adapted from the 1959 eponymous Broadway play from Lorraine Hansberry and starring Ruby Dee, Sidney Poitier, Diana Sands and introducing Louis Gossett Junior, A Raisin in the Sun had its cinematic release on this day in 1961. Following the Younger family who are seeking a better livelihood and future for themselves outside of the city, they receive a windfall insurance cheque after the loss of the patriarch, each with designs on how to best invest that money. Claudia McNeil in the role of Lena was nominated for a Golden Globe and Oscar for Best Actress and awarded a BAFTA, with the film winning in two other categories plus the Cannes Palme d’Or.

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

fixed penalty notice

The newly published report on the inquiry overseen by Second Permanent Secretary on the Cabinet Office Sue Gray investigating social gatherings held during the COVID-19 pandemic during times when social distancing and public health restrictions would have prohibited such behaviour includes a series of redacted photographs that illustrate the disdain and clubby atmosphere of the Johnson administration, detailing partying until 04:00, vomiting and guests booted with the discretion of making their drunken egress from Downing Street and Whitehall by the back exit. Whilst lockdown measures were in effect which prevented the general public from getting together in general and particularly during pivotal and solemn moments of birth and death, members of the government that put these measures in place and on the pains of enforcement were flagrantly ignoring them. The cost so far of the inquiry is estimated at £460 000.

Tuesday, 24 May 2022

section 28

With echoes of Florida’s current controversial Don’t Say Gay Bill and in effect until 2003 (Scotland dropped the series of laws in 2000 as one of Holyrood’s first items of business as a newly devolved parliament), the government of Margaret Thatcher introduced and enacted legislative measures that prohibited the “promotion of homosexuality” by local authorities on this day in 1988, causing many support groups to fold or severely curtail their activities. Named after the amendment to the Local Government Act of 1986, the language stated that municipal authorities shall not “intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality or promote the teaching in any maintained [public] school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.”

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

nationalversammlung

The session opening on this day in 1848 in the Frankfurt am Main Pauluskirche as a result of the March Revolutions precipitated by the upheavals for Prussia and the German Empire caused by the Napoleonic Wars and the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, the Frankfurter Parliament marked the first freely elected assembly for all of Germany and ran until the end of the month. During heated and lengthy debates and negotiations, the body produced a constitution (Verfassung des Deutschen Reiches) which established a united empire adhering to the principles of parliamentary, representative democracy, a constitutional monarchy headed by a hereditary emperor—Kaiser. Whilst the Prussian king initially rejected the title that the assembly wanted to bestow on him on the grounds it would abrogate the rights of princes who led constituent states, the contentious gathering nonetheless provided model legislation for the Weimar Republic and the Grundgesetz (Basic Law) first adopted by West Germany and then the reunified republic. Much more information at the links above.

Tuesday, 10 May 2022

onward victoria

Standing later for the office of president in the 1872 election, Victoria Woodhull accepted the nomination of her party, the Equal Rights, at Apollo Hall in New York City on this day of the same year—though a few detractors have reservations in acknowledging her to be the first woman to run for high office in America on the technicality (albeit a constitutional one) that she would have been six months shy of her thirty-fifth birthday on inauguration day. Self-made twice over, Woodhull first earned—and subsequently lost—a substantial fortune in magnetic healing and afterward entered into arguably more legitimate enterprises with her sister, Tennessee Claflin, to open the first female-ran stock brokerage and used profits from trading to open a newspaper. Running on a platform of universal suffrage, labour reform, equality and free love—that is the right to marry, divorce, bear children or not without social prejudice or government interference, Woodhull also declared this day her running-mate to be respected statesman and abolitionist Frederick Douglass though unbeknownst to him, Douglass did not take part in the convention or campaign in any way. Wary of Woodhull’s reputation as an investigative journalist and having previously introduced patriarch Cornelius to the above pseudoscientific therapy, heir to the vast estate William Henry Vanderbilt paid Woodhull and her sister $1000 to leave the country. Newly divorced and with her political career behind her, she accepted the offer and moved to London and founded a charter school and lectured on education reform.

Sunday, 24 April 2022

unpo

Founded and headquartered in the The Hague in 1991, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation was constituted to champion the marginalised with membership made of indigenous peoples, minorities and unrecognised or otherwise occupied territories with an aim of achieving political autonomy and self-determination with the rejection of violence and terrorism as tools of policy. Current localities and groups on its rolls (not without controversy and in-group dispute) are Abkhazia, Bretagne, Catalonia, the District of Colombia, Guam, the Hmong, Savoy, Sindhudesh and Tibet. Former members Palau, East Timor, Estonia, Latvia, Georgia and Armenia have attained full statehood and independence.

Thursday, 21 April 2022

reedy creek improvement district

In retribution for the Magic Kingdom’s public stance against legislation passed and enforced by the state of Florida and suspension of political donations in response to the so called “Don’t Say Gay” bill that bars instruction that is not “age or develop-mentally appropriate” as a form of indoctrination and makes it taboo to talk about gender identity or sexual orientation, the Republican governor, with the backing of the legislature, is proposing to strip Disney properties of its own private governance. Accorded by Florida in 1967 to make it more attractive for the entertainment giant to establish its resorts and theme parks (see also)—and originally a planned city of the future, Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, that reverted back to another attraction, the special jurisdiction has its own law enforcement and security, environment standards, building codes and zoning laws as well as its own tax regime. Authorities warn that its dissolution will burden neighbouring counties with much higher property taxes and further alienates the state’s largest employer.

Saturday, 16 April 2022

a moveable feast

Prompted by a League of Nations body called the “Advisory and Technical Committee for Commun-ications and Transit” that sought among other coordinating efforts to synchronise the date of Easter—which can wander between 22 March and 25 April due to lunar calculations—with the support of the Archbishop of Canterbury among other calendar reformists passed two years prior, the UK parliament introduced the Easter Act of 1928. Reigning in the holiday but still with concession to the sabbath with Easter Sunday falling on that day of the week after the second Saturday in April (see above). Though the act had the royal assent of George V, it has yet to be passed by both houses—and not without re-legistlation, still being inactive statute, attempted last in 1999.

Saturday, 2 April 2022

concordance

We thoroughly enjoyed being formally introduced to rogue archivist and general force-multiplier Carl Malamud and his organisation public.resource that champions liberating information that otherwise eligible for the public domain but has been notoriously garden-walled by special-interests groups, profession associations and copyright trolls (see previously here and here) like instruction manuals under right-to-repair legislation, the codices of different jurisdictions that would rather not the full text of their laws subject to public scrutiny and safety codes and standards hidden behind paywalls, a high hurdle for entry and to continue municipalities’ practice of “incorporation by reference.” Much more at the links above.

Thursday, 31 March 2022

court of last resort

Since the return of the former British colony to China in 1997, UK justices have sat on the High Court of Hong Kong to ensure and safeguard the laws and liberties accorded to this special administrative area. The pair of senior judges on the Courts of First Instance and Final Appeal, however, recently announced their resignations, with immediate effect, declaring the their continued presence no longer a tenable situation and no longer wanted to appear as an endorsement or legitimasing factor in the erosion of the city’s freedoms. Recent changes to the administration of Hong Kong and its relation to the mainland have caused any degree of meaningful autonomy to dwindle.