Thursday, June 30, 2016

Gay Adoption

While Czechland does not have gay marriage it has recognised registrované partnerství, registered partnerships, since 2006.  This allows for equal status when it comes to inheritance, alimony and health care.  One thing they have not allowed for is adoption.  Well that now changes...sort of.

The Czech Constitutional Court, the country's highest legal authority, has just overturned a law that bans individual gays and lesbians living in a registered partnership from adopting children.  The decision was based on the fact that it was discriminatory because individual gays and lesbians who don't live in a registered partnership are allowed to adopt.

So moving forward, gays and lesbians who have a registered partnership can now legally adopt but as an individual; not as a couple.  Hey, it's not perfect but it is definitely progress.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Winter Queen

Elizabeth Stuart, 1596 - 1662, was the daughter of James VI and I, King of Scots, England, and Ireland, and his wife, Anne of Denmark.

She was named after Queen Elizabeth I of England.  Her grandmother was Mary, Queen of Scots and Elizabeth's younger brother became Charles I of England, Scotland, and Ireland.

In 1613 she married Frederick V, Count Palatine of the Rhine.  Both of them had been related to Henry II of England.  They moved to Prague and in 1619 they were crowned the King and Queen of Bohemia.

In 1620 their reign was ended by their defeat at the Battle of White Mountain which triggered the Thirty Years' War.  As their reign only lasted one year, Elizabeth is remembered as the Winter Queen, zimní královna.  In 1621, she became an Electress, a queen in exile, and lived in the Hague.

Frederick died in 1632 during the war.  He and Elizabeth has 13 children.  The royal families of Spain, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Luxembourg, Sweden and the Netherlands, plus the former royal families of Greece, Romania, Germany, and Russia are all descendants of the Winter Queen.

Her grandson became George I of Great Britain.  Through different paths, Elizabeth II, the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom is a direct descendent of the 10th and 11th generation.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Brexit Results

Wow!  This whole Brexit thing has me absolutely gobsmacked.  I can't believe how the vote went.

The final results were 52% for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union vs 48% to remain.  Again, absolutely gobsmacked.

I've heard arguments that a post-Brexit UK could leave the EU and still retain benefits like the four countries in the European Economic Area.  To me, this just sounds dumb because the UK would then still have all of the obligations it currently does but it would lose its vote.  Staying the same without having a say doesn't seem too bright to me.  Just saying...

The overall vote was close but it wasn't close across the entire UK.  The majority of England and Wales (except for their capitals of London and Cardiff) voted to leave.  The majority of Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain.  Could this lead to another independence referendum in Scotland?  Does this mean that the Common Travel Area will be impacted and border checks will have to be reintroduced between Ireland and Northern Ireland?  Could there be a referendum for Northern Ireland to leave the UK and join the Republic?  

Residents of the British Territory of Gibraltar voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU.  Brexit could have serious political and economic consequences and who knows, perhaps Spain will try to leverage this for control of the Rock.

While older voters wanted to leave, the majority of younger voters all wanted to remain.  This whole referendum thing was basically supposed to be an opinion poll but it hasn't been marketed that way to UK voters.  It will be interesting to see what happens next but it looks like the United Kingdom is less united than ever.

We have elections coming up in November in the USA.  Let's hope that these are the only crazy election results this year.

Update:  Here's another interesting CGP Grey video I found out on YouTube.  It gives a nice, quick overview of last month's Brexit vote.

©CGP Grey

Update:  The UK officially left the EU on 31 January 2020.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Brno vs Prague and Bratislava

There are a number of reasons why I enjoy living in Brno.  Coming from Atlanta, a city of over 5 million people, makes Brno seem like a small town and that's fine by me.  I find Brno to be the perfect size.  It's a big enough city that there is always something going on but small enough to enjoy the local feel of the place.

I'm going on seven years here and, from the beginning, I've always preferred Brno to both Prague and Bratislava.  For one thing I find the cost of living to be lower here.  Here's a random flyer I found from, a recruitment company, where it highlights a few of the cost and quality of living statistics between the three cities.

I usually spend two to four days in Bratislava each month so I'm pretty familiar with the city and I find it to be more expensive than Brno.  It's interesting to look at this table to see that it is also more expensive than Prague which is three times the size.  It may be because Slovakia is on the Euro.

The cost of rent and pubic transportation are lowest in Brno and most expensive in Bratislava.  Going out for dinner and beer is cheapest in Brno.  Now, to be fair salaries are lower here on average compared to the other cities.  But Brno's crime and safety indices are better too.

No, I'm not trying to bash Prague or Bratislava.  I love going to Prague.  It is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.  And after dealing with so many tourists I normally can't wait to get back home to Brno.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Wrocław Again

I'm back in Poland again.

Another couple of days meeting with my team in Wrocław.

I like the it here but I'm ready to be back in Brno and sleep in my own bed.

Monday, June 13, 2016

2016 Global Peace Index

The results of the 2016 Global Peace Index are in.  Despite last year's terror attacks in Paris and Brussels, and instability in Turkey, Europe remains the world's most peaceful region.  European countries make up 14 of the the world's top 20 peaceful countries.

For the third year in a row Iceland is the most peaceful country.

Last year, Czechland cracked the top 10.  This year it moves up four spots to #6.  The USA fell out of the top 100 to come in at #103.

Syria is the least peaceful country followed by, South Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia.

Here are the top 20 countries.

  1. Iceland
  2. Denmark
  3. Austria
  4. New Zealand
  5. Portugal
  6. Czech Republic
  7. Switzerland
  8. Canada
  9. Japan
  10. Slovenia
  11. Finland
  12. Ireland
  13. Bhutan
  14. Sweden
  15. Australia
  16. Germany
  17. Norway
  18. Belgium
  19. Hungary
  20. Singapore

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Jošt Moravský

Jošt Moravský, Jobst of Moravia, was born in Brno in 1354.  He was the nephew of Charles IV.  He became the Margrave of Moravia in 1375.  In 1388 he became the Elector of Brandenburg and the Duke of Luxembourg.  In 1410 he was elected the King of Germany (King of the Romans) until his death in 1411.  Talk about a local chap that made it big.

Jošt is buried in St. Tomáš Church at Moravské náměstí.  In 2015 a statue of him on horseback, sculpted by Jiří Kašpar, was unveiled near the church.  The horse has very long legs and some locals refer to it as The Giraffe.

The statue is a favourite photo spot.  The sculptor was a little cheeky because there's something unexpected seen when you stand under the statue and look up at the horse's mouth.

A selfie of Cristin and I 
My friend Cristin was visiting this weekend from Wrocław so of course we needed to go take a selfie.

Someday I'll be looking back at this photo and I really hope that this is just us standing under a horse's jaw.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Internet Speed

Of the 28 EU countries, the top five with the fastest internet speeds are Romania, Netherlands, Sweden, Lithuania, and Latvia.

The five with the slowest internet speeds are Ireland, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, and Croatia.

Czech Republic Czechia came in at #13 with 30,58 Mbps.

It's a little surprising that Czehia beat the UK, Finland, and Germany but that's good for me here in Brno.