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  • feedwordpress 08:01:42 on 2018/06/01 Permalink
    Tags: Ariel Aberg-Riger, , law, , loitering, racial discrimination, , ,   

    “It’s called loitering, which is like littering with human beings as the trash”*… 

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    A series of racially-charged incidents of “loitering” have triggered national outrage recently.  America’s laws against lingering have roots in Medieval and Elizabethan England; since 1342, the goal has always been to keep anyone “out of place” away.

    Visual storyteller Ariel Aberg-Riger dives into the long history of laws against being somewhere you’re not wanted: “What is loitering, really?

    * Neal Shusterman


    As we respect respite, we might recall that it was on this date in 1494 that the first recorded mention of scotch whiskey occurred: an entry in the Exchequer Rolls lists “Eight bolls of malt to Friar John Cor wherewith to make aqua vitae [“water of life,” as the then-medicinally-justified liquor was known]”– a sufficient quantity to produce almost 1,500 bottles, suggesting that distilling was already well-established.  Indeed, some historians believe that the “Heather Ale” drink brewed by the Picts was actually early scotch whisky– suggesting that whisky could date back to the late Iron Age (100-50 years BC).



  • feedwordpress 08:01:35 on 2018/03/16 Permalink
    Tags: , criminalization, debt, debtors prison, , law, , , workers rebellion   

    “If you prick us, do we not bleed?”*… 

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    An estimated 77 million Americans have a debt that has been turned over to a private collection agency. Thousands of these debtors are arrested and jailed each year because they owe money. Millions more are threatened with jail. The debts owed can be as small as a few dollars, and they can involve every kind of consumer debt, from car payments to utility bills to student loans to medical fees. These trends devastate communities across the country as unmanageable debt and household financial crisis become ubiquitous, and they impact Black and Latino communities most harshly due to longstanding racial and ethnic gaps in poverty and wealth.

    Debtors’ prisons were abolished by Congress in 1833 and are thought to be a relic of the Dickensian past. In reality, private debt collectors — empowered by the courts and prosecutors’ offices — are using the criminal justice system to punish debtors and terrorize them into paying, even when a debt is in dispute or when the debtor has no ability to pay.

    The criminalization of private debt happens when judges, at the request of collection agencies, issue arrest warrants for people who failed to appear in court to deal with unpaid civil debt judgments. In many cases, the debtors were unaware they were sued or had not received notice to show up in court…

    Read this deeply-troubling story in toto at “The Criminalization of Private Debt“; then read the full ACLU report at “A Pound of Flesh.”

    * Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act 3, Scene 1


    As we dust off the adjective “Dickensian,” we might recall that it was on this date in 1811, five days after the birth of the movement in Nottingham, that Luddites smashed over 100 machines intended to eliminate their textile industry jobs in Sutton-in-Ashfield, Kirby, Woodborough, Lambley, Bulwell, & Ilkeston in Derbyshire.

    an 1812 illustration of “Ned Ludd,” a fictional apprentice who (per his legend) destroyed two weaving frames in 1779.



  • feedwordpress 09:01:19 on 2018/02/22 Permalink
    Tags: altimeter, American Museum of Tort Law, , , Jimmy Doolittle, law, Paul Kollsman, product safety, tort,   

    “The safety of the people shall be the highest law”*… 

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    As society creates new technologies and new kinds of risk, we’re often slow to pass laws to regulate them. Tort law is a democratic tool for people who experience harms to seek redress and to make a difference that benefits others: prompting new discoveries, clarifying the nature of the harms involved, and deterring powerful organizations from propagating those harms…

    How do lawsuits grow our understanding of the risks and harms of new technologies? What incentives do they offer corporations to ensure the safety of their products?  The American Museum of Tort Law in Winchester Connecticut– the only museum in the U.S. dedicated to any part of the law– aims to explain: “The American Museum of Exploding Cars and Toys That Kill You.”

    * Marcus Tullius Cicero


    As we ponder the precautionary principle, we might send high-flying birthday greetings to Paul Kollsman; he was born on this date in 1900.  An inventor who was obsessed with aviation, he invented the world’s first accurate barometric altimeter (1928), a device that became vital to aviation safety.  It found wide acceptance when, in September, 1929, Jimmy Doolittle made his historic “blind flight,” proving that the Kollsman altimeter made navigation possible “flying on the gauges.”  The invention played a major role in enabling routine scheduled air service in the U.S. and around the world.



  • feedwordpress 08:01:24 on 2017/10/19 Permalink
    Tags: Byzantine Empire, Chlothar II, , , , law, , Magna Carta, The Edict of Paris,   

    “Round round get around, I get around”*… 

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    Distribution of early Byzantine items and contemporary imitations found outside of the boundaries of the mid-sixth-century empire, along with a depiction of the empire during the reign of Justinian (c. 565 AD)

    Dr Caitlin Green details the finds that demonstrate the extraordinary trading reach of the Byzantine Empire: “A very long way from home: early Byzantine finds at the far ends of the world.”

    * The Beach Boys


    As we remind ourselves that trade has been global for a long, long time, we might recall that it was on this date in 614 (though some sources suggest that it was yesterday’s date; and others, that it was in 615) that Chlothar II, the Merovingian king of the Franks, promulgated the last of the Merovingian capitularia, a series of legal ordinances governing church and realm– the Edict of Paris (Edictum Chlotacharii).

    About 70 years earlier, Byzantine emperor Justinian had earned renown for his rewriting of Roman law, yielding the Corpus Juris Civilis (still the basis of civil law in many modern states).  Chlothar II’s accomplishment was in that same spirit– a sort of Frankish Magna Carta that defended the rights of the Frankish nobles against the claims of the Crown (though less democratically, it also excluded Jews from civil employment throughout the Frankish kingdom).

    Chlothar II’s official signature



  • feedwordpress 08:01:32 on 2015/09/20 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , law, National Chicken Month, National Punch Day, , ,   

    “Enjoy every sandwich”*… 

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    In late August, the U.S. District Court for The District of Puerto Rico dismissed an appeal on a civil suit filed there. The dispute, between Norberto Colón Lorenzana and South American Restaurant Corp., stemmed from a fried-chicken sandwich…

    Both amusing and illuminating– the tale in its tasty entirety at “Can You Copyright a Sandwich?

    [Special intellectual property bonus: “The International Fight Over Marcel Duchamp’s Chess Set,” featuring Scott Kildall, whose “Playing Duchamp” was featured here earlier.]

    * Warren Zevon


    As we ask for extra mayonnaise, we might note that this, the 20th day of National Chicken Month, is National Punch Day.



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