Yesterday one of the preeminent scholars on human rights and the war on terrorism gave a lecture at the law school. Jordan Paust teaches at the University of Houston and has published more than 150 articles and books. His latest is titled, Beyond the Law: The Bush Administration's Unlawful Responses in the "War" on Terror. It's due out in November for those of you who might be interested. His basic thesis is that the Bush Administration has violated just about every kind of international law possible by detaining people at Guantánamo Bay and in secret CIA prisons in Europe. He started his talk with a brief explanation of international law and a strong argument that the U.S. Constitution does, in fact, recognize it. Basically we have signed and ratified a bunch of treaties (the 1949 Geneva Conventions among them) which we are currently violating by prosecuting this "War" on terrorism. Paust argues that it's not actually a war (hence the quotes) because it doesn't meet any of the definitions of war that we agreed to when we signed these treaties. (By the way, the only country in the world that hasn't signed the Geneva Conventions is Taiwan, Paust said, which has a little to do with the fact that Taiwan just declared its independence two weeks ago.)
For those of you who read the personal statement I sent to law schools last winter, you know that I mentioned the war on terrorism generally and the secret prisons specifically as reasons I wanted to attend law school in the first place. So what I learned yesterday is that I need to take international law next year. One of Paust's co-editors and good friends, Linda Malone, teaches the course at William & Mary. (My brother Dan noted earlier this week that Linda, who also teaches Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure, was quoted in a CNN story about Michael Vick.)
This week I discovered the best grocery store in Williamsburg — Ukrop's. When I went there Wednesday night, I ran into at least eight of my classmates. Williamsburg has about three times as many good grocery stores as Iowa City, even though it's less than a third of the size. There's Ukrop's (think Hy-Vee + Co-op), Fresh Market (Co-op), Farm Fresh (haven't been to one yet, but I hear they're great) and the half dozen or so Food Lions, which have all been under renovation since I got here. The Food Lions are in the worst shape (think Aldi/EconoFoods), but they're getting better, slowly. Anyway, I like the options.
The weather here is unbelievable. For those of you who might be mulling a visit, right now it's 72 degrees and sunny, with a high of 86 expected today. The four-day forecast looks like this: Sunny all four days, with a high of 76 tomorrow, 78 on Sunday, 77 on Monday and 80 on Tuesday. I've heard that the leaves start turning in mid-October but it hardly seems possible with this weather. Some of my friends have a regular sand volleyball game every night near the law school, and my friend Ed is working on an ultimate frisbee game each Sunday. I hope to join both soon.
Which brings me to that leg again. Two weeks ago today I was using both crutches and barely putting any weight on it, now I won't even use the handicapped sticker the college gave me, because it feels so good to walk the same distance as everyone else. On Wednesday I got to make my first trip to the rec center, on the undergrad campus. As soon as I'm back to normal, I'll be able to dig out my racquetball game for the first time since I played my friend Kyle in college.
Oh, almost forgot the most exciting part of my week. Yesterday in the law school lounge I was warming up some coffee in the microwave. As I was talking to one of my friends, I looked over to see an orange glow. It seems that my coffee mug, which apparently is made of metal, had started a nice little fire. I opened the door to find billowing smoke and bubbling plastic. (Note to Dad —I did start the fire.) Thankfully there wasn't much damage to either my cup or the microwave. From now on, I'll stick to warming my cup the old-fashioned way — getting refills. I'm due for one now, in fact.
Life is good.