Showing posts from 2007

On the 6th day of Christmas

While I wait in the semi-expectation of being berated for my scathing attack on the ‘innocence of the festive season’ by my series of captioned images in the previous post, I can take heart from the fact that I won’t be the only one. Catherine Tate’s Christmas special is being investigated by Ofcom, the broadcasting standards watchdog, following a barrage of complaints from viewers.I didn’t see this show first time around, but caught up with it a couple of days ago on the BBC’s excellent new online viewing facility: the iPlayer. Being one that has his ear very much to the technical ground, I heard about this project well in advance of launching. So far, I’m very impressed. The Catherine Tate complaints are, quite honestly, a little flimsily substantiated. While it’s remotely plausible to claim that the scene involving the Irish family exchanging gifts contains a vague element of racism, the complaints regarding the excessive swearing in the opening sketch are just silly. I mean, it w…

Christmas Caption Competition

Once again this year, the caption competition has been a closely-run thing.  Here are a few of my favourites.

Christmas Update

Congratulations for making it this far through the festive frivolities and general merry-making. After spending Christmas at home this year, the Michael will return to his flat tomorrow, after which normal service should hopefully resume.

As a break from the turkey, stuffing and God-knows else what today, I swung by Digg to catch up on things and was amazed to discover this statistic: in 2007 there are CONSIDERABLY more people using Yahoo Mail over Google’s offering, Gmail. Don’t believe me?

And finally, to accompany my post today, an all-too-fitting image which captures the common mood in a variety of situations on Boxing Day across the UK. So whether you’re pi**ed off with turkey and stuffing, have suffered one disappointment after another on the present-front this year or, God forbid, have the in-laws visiting, this, troubled reader, is for you.


As befits this time of year, the Michael and Law Actually are going to be enjoying a little festive downtime for the next 2/3 days.

As I noted last year during my Philly trip, tonight is that all-important night for the ‘busiest guy in show business’ – Father Santa. Quite what that bearded buffoon gets up to for the other 364 days of the year is another matter, but I’ve heard it rumoured that he’s got a premium subscription to the Fantasy Channel and a widescreen TV in Santa HQ behind a lockable door away from Mrs Claus. But who knows.

So while most of us prepare to drink ourselves into oblivion and consume our own body weight in food tomorrow, Father Santa will be hard at it busting his ba**s in that sleigh of his. Although last year I debated whether his sleigh is actually still pulled by Reindeer or whether he’s joined the 21st century and fitted jet engines, I've no intention of adding to that talking-point this year. Instead, as Santa nears the half-way point in his annual deli…

Forget Sat-Nav – ask a meter warden

The Michael has had a busy time of it lately. Having travelled back from my flying visit home on Monday/Tuesday, I’d barely settled in when I was notified late Tuesday afternoon that I had a job interview to attend later this week. On Wednesday, I skulked into town to reconnoitre the location of the interview and pick a suitable route. Having safely relied on Google Maps before, I put my trust in it again. Big mistake.Because of the erroneous map, what should have taken me minutes from the centre of town, took me nearly an hour and a half, aided and at times, hindered, by the directions of about 5 different people. I had nearly given up hope and started to head back to base for the day when I had an overdue stroke of good fortune. At the last moment as I staggered on, frozen in the near-arctic conditions, I spied a parking meter warden, solemnly doing his duty and slapping fixed penalty notices on a few parked cars. Without too much hope, I casually asked him if he knew where it was.…

Christmas is coming – believe it or not

The blawging community seems to be winding down for the impending festivities at the moment. While the more prolific blawgers of us out there reflect and take stock on what has undoubtedly been an arduous first term, crawling away to lick our wounds from a battery of mock exams and assessments, one notable thing has struck me this December - just how ‘unChristmassy’ it seems.So what is it with Christmas this year? Is it still on? Has anyone heard? The whole thing seems to be passing me by on the outside lane as we career inevitably towards another 25th December and all the associated festivities/suffering that comes with it.So I’m left wondering if Christmas has indeed been cancelled this year. But to whom do you write to find out? Father Santa? The God Squad? Or just average Joe out there on the street? Answers on a postcard, please.

Finally - Data Protection Law to be Reviewed

From: Outlaw 14/12/07The Government has launched a consultation into how personal data is treated in the aftermath of the HM Revenue and Customs' loss of 25 million people's sensitive information.Information Commissioner Richard Thomas is one of the two men in charge of the consultation, which will focus on the use and sharing of information. The other is Government science and technology advisor Dr Mark Walport.The consultation will consider changes to the Data Protection Act and will present Government with options for changes to the law.“The review will be concentrating on information sharing. When do public bodies, in particular, need to make use of personal information held by others to do their job properly?" said Thomas. "Law enforcement, child protection and more personalised services may be examples. But we will need to assess the dangers if information is shared too freely."And about time too.  This one is long overdue and imposing more stringent guid…

Work Experience – the plight of all law students

The Michael has decided that it’s time to embark on a little extra work experience to further improve his CV. I know, better than most, the true importance of having a solid work experience background for a law student and what a difference it can make. Earlier this year, I had another bash. Having enjoyed the usual response to the array of letters I sent out to law firms seeking work experience-- i.e. the letter is ignored or at best, answered bluntly in the negative-- I struck it lucky this time and have received a favourable response. So with my appointment set up, I tottered along, suited and booted this morning, to meet my potential mentor.In short, I can happily report that it looks promising. I’ve been assured of some work experience, at least, with a variety of partners in different departments. Luckily, my interviewer sympathised greatly with the affliction that is work experience, and expressed his palpable dislike of it when as a student, he himself suffered the torment fir…

Fred Claus - The Law Actually Review

I freely admit that I’m not a fan of your typical ‘Christmas movie’. At the risk of perpetuating the growing opinion that I’m the reincarnation of Ebeneezer Scrooge, I never really subscribed to the whole ‘magical Christmas movie thing’ even as a kid. Save for Home Alone 1 and 2, of course. When we skulked across to the cinema on a wet and windy December afternoon, I wasn’t sure what I was in for. Given the time of day there were just two film options open to us. We opted for Fred Claus, merely to save waiting around for ‘The Golden Compass’ showtime, a decision which I surprisingly didn’t regret.Simply getting into the cinema proved more difficult than expected – all the doors were locked. We were left for several minutes with nothing to do but wander aimlessly up and down, stamping our feet and shivering uncontrollably in the near-arctic conditions. After trying all the doors for a final time, and starring awkwardly into the dimly-lit entrance, a female worker behind the counter fin…

Call Centre worker's accent not English enough

From: CPD Webinars 03/12/07A British man of Asian origin has won a racial discrimination case against his employer, Talk Talk Direct, because his accent “wasn’t English enough”.
Chetankumar Meshram, 27, a call centre trainer from Northampton, was selected for a two month secondment to Talk Talk Direct’s Delhi office to train staff but was sent back to England after just three weeks.
Mr Meshram was born in India but moved to Britain in 2005. He said: “I was called into a meeting with my boss, who told me I was to be replaced with a better English speaker.  I know I speak with an accent but my job out there was to give technical advice, not to give expertise on how to communicate. It was an embarrassing and humiliating experience.”
Bedford Employment Tribunal found that he had suffered both direct and indirect discrimination and awarded him compensation for hurt feelings and expenses incurred during his trip to India.
The whole call-centre-rep's-difficult-to-understand accent is …

Not so green computing

From: 05/12/07"Experts have warned that the IT industry's carbon footprint is skyrocketing and could soon surpass that of the aviation industry.The survey of 120 senior IT directors in the UK found that 86 per cent are unaware of their IT department's carbon footprint, and 61 per cent of data centres had capacity for only two more years of growth.In this environment, a flabby business that guzzles budget and energy is likely to be a prime target for impending legislation."Energy-hungry electronics are not going away anytime soon; in fact, it's only going to get worse as dependency on electronics further increases. I still can't help but feel that we've missed the boat here. As the world has been clearly heading down the tech road for decades now, why is it only now that true panic is setting in? Whilst a change in the law to force IT departments to become more energy efficient would help, surely educating the wider public would yield more subst…

Tuck me in before you go go

The Michael spent a little time today catching up on back issues of TWIT podcasts (mainly Windows Weekly and This Week in Law though I have to admit that I'm tuning into this latter offering less and less nowadays).  I also took a swing by Leo Laporte's blog and found this picture of him readjusting his 'trouser furniture' during a break in filming.  He claimed he was just 'tucking himself in' though I'm not entirely convinced.  Either way, it makes uncomfortable viewing - particularly for the more impressionable blogwatchers out there.Couldn't you have gone backstage, Leo?  Charming, just charming.

Another Trip to Looe - the town that defies categorisation

Sunday marked the Michael's second trip of 2007 to the quaint Cornish town of Looe (see my earlier visit). Earlier this year - around Easter time - I sampled the delights that this unfathomable seaside town has to offer. I have to admit that I still don't 'get' Looe; it's like no other Cornish place that I've been to. It undoubtedly has elements that smack of the archetypal Cornish village: narrow winding streets, ice cream palours, tea-rooms, cheap gift shops, bakeries and pubs all by the bucket-load. It's even topped off by a respectably-sized sandy beach at the end. But sitting uncomfortably amongst these stereotypical ingredients are the following misfits:a couple of strangely expensive gift shops, a well-stocked arcade, a joke shop, a variety unremarkable shoe/clothing shops and a chandlery - yes, a freaking chandlery!
Moreover, it has fishing boats aplenty but seems devoid of fisherman, and strange shelters along the beachfront, perpetually inhabited,…

International AIDS day

From: Baltimore Sun 1.12.07 - Bush makes AIDS Day visit
"MOUNT AIRY - On a visit yesterday to a Carroll County church whose members have volunteered for overseas AIDS programs, President Bush said he will travel to Africa early next year to view the progress of a multibillion-dollar U.S. effort to control the deadly virus.Bush, speaking on the eve of World AIDS Day, repeated a call for Congress to double the nation's commitment to foreign prevention and treatment programs to $30 billion over the next five years. Millions of lives could be improved, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, he said, where a $15 billion administration initiative is yielding progress."
If you were wondering, the picture accompanying this post was produced by the French Government. Some time ago they released an advertising campaign highlighting the plight of AIDS and unsafe sex with this hard-hitting, provoking and memorable graphic.
General observation to no-one in particular: This post has underto…

Small print could soon be a thing of the past

From 19/11/07:"Information requirements are an irritant for business and consumers routinely ignore the small print overload because it is turgid and confusing, according to a Government study. A new report calls for a rethink by policy-makers and businesses.
Consumer[s]... are not necessarily making informed decisions [about purchases] – meaning it is unlikely that regulated information is having a major impact on their behaviour."
The study further found that, "Consumers ignore the detail, especially when making spontaneous decisions, for example, when being offered a store card at point of sale. Low literacy groups said the small print was scary and humiliating. Other groups were blasé about ignoring the contract detail, describing it as unimportant and boring. When prompted for their reaction to wording such as "The Consumer Credit Act 1974" people "glazed over", according to the researchers. A representative response: "What the hel…

If you go down to the shops today...

On Friday whilst on a casual jaunt through town, my girlfriend and I were stopped in the street. Nothing strange in that you might think, but this was no ordinary street encounter. We were intercepted by 3 men: one costumed in large bright pink pig outfit, the other in a Tigger, the third, more unremarkably attired, sported a camera and clipboard.

Caught off-guard by such creatures inhabiting the street (and previously having my attention dedicated solely on browsing round the German-style Christmas street market, giggling at the sign for the ‘wieners’ being sold) we were initially nonplussed. Getting my wits back, I quickly smelt a rat. Well a pig and tigger, actually. After all, whose warning antennae wouldn’t go into overdrive and detect something dodgy afoot when suddenly advanced upon by a giant pig and tigger?

It turns out they were trying to sell us some crappy personalised Christmas card and calendar deal, the quality of which was easily rivalled by that of the typical creations…

Sonogram + MP3 = Trademark Registration

From: 23/11/07A sound can be registered as a trade mark if it can be written in musical notation. But a sound like Tarzan's yell can also be registered if a graphical representation is accompanied by an MP3 file, according to Europe's trade mark registry.I very nearly blogged about the whole Tarzan-yell trademark issue when I first came across the story a few weeks ago.Registration of the sound by way of Sonogram was rejected, I thought, on logical grounds following well-established principles of TM law.This was so in spite of the accompanying guidance: ‘sustain, followed by ululation, followed by sustain, but at a higher frequency, followed by ululation, followed by sustain at the starting frequency…"Lot of help, that is.In 2005, however, a crucial development occurred in this area of TM law.Since then, the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM) can register sounds represented graphically by way of a sonogram AND an mp3 file.So there you go. Gi…

Too Little, Too Late?

From: 16/11/07
UK Information Commissioner Richard Thomas has argued for much tighter data protection laws in Britain, insisting that those who lose data should end up in court. Thomas told the Lords Constitution Committee that those who knowingly or recklessly flout data protection rules should be prosecuted and fined up to £5,000. "If a doctor or hospital [employee] leaves a laptop containing patient records in his car and it is stolen, it is hard to see that as anything but gross negligence," Thomas told the Lords. "The Commission can currently issue enforcement notices, but these do not impose any element of punishment for wrongdoing." Thomas suggested that one-off cases should not be prosecuted, but that systematic abuse needs greater censure. He also proposed that companies should be inspected without warning for data security, rather than the current system which relies on consent. Clearly something isn’t working with regard to the UK and its…

Return of the Pesky ‘Craplets’

I hate the free offerings that software companies and OEMs foist on the unwitting public comprising of bloatware, craplets, sh*tware – call it what you will.Naturally, most at risk are the inexperienced computer users who, despite the publicity campaigns and security advances in software, still somehow mange get their computers extraordinarily infected with the STDs of the computer world.Instead of tottering off down to the Clap-clinic, though, a trip to the local PC World is usually on the cards.I’m continually amazed by the amount of toolbars and other crapware that derive from various well-known search engine companies etc. that I see stubbornly installed in the browsers of people who should know better.My continual warnings, it seems, fall incessantly on deaf ears.Let’s take a typical toolbar situation, which I ran into a couple of days ago with one of the PC’s I ‘manage’.An undisclosed computer ‘user’ unsuspectingly succeeded in getting a whole crapware suite downloaded and insta…

Bloggers Beware – use company logos at your peril!

From OUT-LAW News, 12/11/2007A US blogger who reported on a court ruling has been ordered by car rental firm Avis to remove an image of its logo from his blog posting to avoid charges of trade mark abuse.Eric Turkewitz is a lawyer who writes a personal injury blog. In a recent post he discussed a ruling on the constitutionality of car rental firm immunity from some kinds of negligence suits. He illustrated the story with pictures of the logos of leading firms Hertz and Avis but was told by Avis's lawyers to take down the picture.A comment on the blog from Fred Grumman, associate general counsel at Avis, said: "we have the greatest respect for your right to express your opinions on your blog, but that does not include the right to use Avis' trademark as you have done in this particular piece.""Understandably, trademark law is not within your area of expertise. Therefore, we trust that this was done out of ignorance and not based on an intent to misuse our mark to…

Murder without a body

There are occasions when the gaps in my legal knowledge are brought embarrassingly to the fore.Tonight, for instance, quite out of the blue, my girlfriend posed the very good question, “if no body is found, can a person be tried for murder?”I had to readily admit that I wasn’t quite sure – despite giving an erudite and scholarly ‘err’ while I paused for thought.Despite the fact I could reel-off without hesitation the common law definition of murder and give a knowledgeable and plenary précis of the law surrounding each constituent element of the crime, I didn’t know the precise answer.Needing some follow-up to my learned pause, I mumbled something about it being an ‘evidential issue’. Thinking it through, I wasn’t aware of a case which out rightly proved or disproved whether a body was required for a murder charge to be made out.Naturally, I turned to Google to help.I quickly discovered some background info and the age-old Camden Wonder case in the 1660s which established the ‘no body…

Get me to the lecture on time

Why is it some lecturers seem to have an innate propensity for turning up late at almost every single lecture? This has long been a pesky grievance of mine as an undergrad but now at a different university and on the LPC, there is one lecturer in particular who insists on being spectacularly late for virtually all lectures and workshops.Strangely, though, I seem to have accepted his tardiness as normal service – much more so than some of my fellow students. The said tutor is, after all, by far and away the best lecturer on the course and I’m still massively pi*sed that his elective module isn’t ‘running’.

In defence of one of his late appearances, he openly and freely admitted that he was strolling along casually, enjoying the 'beautiful day' and suddenly realised he was going to be 20 minutes late and had to 'get a move on'. Another time he put it down to having to drive 'across country' and the fact he strolled in 25 minutes late was due to the fact it took hi…

The 'Lottery' of Limitation

From The Times 7/11/07:

The woman, known as Mrs A, should now be able to claim compensation for the attempted rape in Roundhay Park, Leeds, in 1988, her lawyers say.

Mrs A's attacker, Iorworth Hoare, originally from Seacroft, Leeds, had not been worth suing until he won £7 million on the Lotto while on day release from prison in 2004.

The law lords have indicated that they plan to allow an extension of the limitation period - enabling Mrs A and others to press for compensation, according to her lawyers.
The law lords had been planning to hear evidence from five different cases, but after hearing the key issue have indicated that they can reach their decision.

Although most claims for damages for physical or psychiatric injury now have an extendable three-year limitation period from the date of the claimant’s “knowledge”, claims for damages arising out of an intentional sexual assault have a non-extendable six-year limitation period from the date of the assault or the claimant’s 18th bi…

Can I interest anyone in a packed lunch?

Luckily, my formative assessment in the interviewing and advising module went swimmingly on Tuesday with one exception. About half way through, 2 air-heads walked in trying to sell us packed lunches. My assessor, clearly unimpressed, hissed back at them through gritted teeth, “we’re actually trying to conduct an interview in here”. They backed out immediately murmuring the requisite ‘sorry’ and were never seen again. Well not by me, anyway. Interestingly, though, on my way out I noticed that the two crates of packed-lunches had been left in the corridor by the entrance to another room with no-one in the vicinity. If I was of more questionable character, I could have swiped one and hidden it under my coat to munch on later. Being the fine, upstanding citizen that I am, I didn’t.Naturally I regretted it later. Talk about a wasted opportunity.

Between the red thing and the other thing

The planned trip to the fireworks and bonfire last night went, for the most part, smoothly enough. Despite me having an appallingly bad sense of direction we made it in good time, thanks in no small part to my girlfriend’s unwavering ‘inner-compass’. Right on cue as we were leaving, there was the traditional drizzle which was more precipitation than it was ‘firework detritus’. The bonfire went off with a bang, the fireworks even more so and were pretty good on the whole – there was no admission fee, after all. Naturally, once they had finished, everyone made straight for the exit, resulting in a stadium-style crushing match. It did mean that I heard the best one-liner of the night, though. In the pandemonium of the rush for the exit, as the hoards of firework-watchers trampled through the already fit-to-bursting fairground, one woman with a mobile phone clamped to her ear, tried to articulate her position to the poor caller on the other end: “I’m between the red thing and the other th…

Remember, Remember the 5th of... what month are we in?

The Michael is taking the evening off tonight to go watch some fireworks and squeal like a scalded dog like most of the other spectators. It's been a while since I specifically went to a fireworks display - the last time being Independence Day 2005 in Philadelphia.

It's been excitment all the way in the run-up to tonight. Yesterday evening, for instance, we were able to spot a few damp squibs let off across the city that none-the-less extracted the requisite scalded animal impression. As ever, with Fireworks-UK-style, it's often the diminutive effect of the fireworks which hold the appeal. Brits have this morbid fascination of typically turning out on a cold, damp evening to gasp in pronounced, slightly despondent glee at the wet farts being let off in the sky. With frozen hands and even colder feet we push unforgivingly through the crowds, earnestly wishing we were close enough to the burning heap to warm our icebound tootsies and enjoy the flaring, searing and bliste…

Why is probate so boring?

Maybe I’m missing something here but probate just bores me to tears.It’s true to say that I’ve never been particularly jazzed about the prospect of private client work and avoided those option modules at undergrad like the plague.Now on the Legal Practice Course, it’s impossible to escape the pain and suffering that is probate and instead must face it head on. 'Wills & Probate':- a drier subject I don’t think you’ll ever meet.Maybe I’m just not benevolent enough to be suited to advise the ’poor dears’ who come along to ask pertinent or at times, not-so-pertinent questions re. probate, inheritance tax or God-knows-what.Such is my hatred of this subject I’ve rather hamstrung myself in not particularly keeping abreast of matters as we’ve gone along.Thus, my reading and research for probate could be described as lacking, my knowledge limited and my competence in dealing with such issues, minimal.Well, now I’m in the somewhat invidious position of acting as solicitor for a form…

It’s cheese – It’s popcorn – it’s CHEESY POPCORN

I was introduced to this atrocity of an idea today and unsurprisingly they seem to have gone down with consumers like a lead balloon.After all, who would buy this stuff?But seriously, who in their right mind would think up a combination of popcorn and cheese.I would much sooner try a deep-fat-fried-battered-deluxe (Scottish Style) popcorn than this ‘phony-cheddar-crap’.Even a marshmallow-filled tomato coated popcorn has got to be better – okay, maybe that draws with the cheesy popcorn in the ‘nastiness stakes’.But I think my point is made.That said, I am someone who finds the mere notion of savoury flavoured popcorn mildly repugnant, so it’s perhaps not surprising that the prospect of cheesy popcorn makes me somewhat queasy.Don’t get me wrong, though: I’m not advocating the demise of every cheesy snack.While in Sweden, for instance, I could often be found gobbling on a pack of cheese doodles.And no, sadly, Titti Schultz wasn’t proffering a crate of them to me.Would’ve been nice, thoug…

All spooked-out

With the 31st October comes the annual ‘bracing oneself for pesky trick-or-treaters’.Last year, as it turned out, we were worrying unnecessarily; not a single person knocked, rung the bell or 'put a window in'.Nor were we firebombed, egged or desecrated by graffiti .This year though I’ve taken the additional safety measures of electrifying the intercom button, strategically placing man-traps around the porch and lower windows as well as rigging the trusty ‘bucket of cold water’ trick over the first floor window.
So while my girlfriend and I sit around armed and ready, poised to exact revenge on any trick-or-treaters, we can console ourselves with the helpful poster published by the Devon and Cornwall police, to which I made a small modification.The idea being, of course, to conspicuously display this poster in your property in the hope it deters the spooked-up little beggars.Is it just me, or is this the ultimate ‘kick me’ sticker?Nothing quite says, “firebomb me – go on – ligh…

Wanted: £8-an-hour 'webcam performers' – other perks included

From: the Daily Mail 27/10/07A Jobcentre has provoked outrage after it was found to be advertising for women to strip for web cams on Internet sex sites for £8 an hour.According to the advertisement, the role involves "explicit dialogue" and "performing for clients' or customers' fantasies". Astonishingly, the Department for Work and Pensions insisted that it is legally obliged to carry the advertisements. Hmm, nice work – if you can get it.Better than the LPC at any rate.

Wake up to your next fire calm and refreshed

Being always on the lookout for new funky gadget ideas, this quirky little number caught my eye.The Peaceful progression smoke alarm sure looks a great idea.But what’s the snooze function all about?Presumably for those times when you wake up and find your bedroom full of smoke but don’t consider it pressing enough to drag your lazy arse out of bed and investigate.For when you adopt a ‘wait-n-see’ policy I suppose.Great stuff.

Play it again, Mr Kwik-fit man

From Out Law News 09/10/2007The Kwik-Fit garage chain is being taken to court accused of violating musical copyright. Royalties agency the Performing Rights Society (PRS) is suing the company because of the volume at which mechanics play the radio while working.The PRS says that because mechanics play their music loudly enough to be heard by colleagues and customers, it constitutes a 'performance' of the music which triggers royalty payments to artists through it.Oh boy. Aren’t the record companies greedy enough already!?! And in the majority of cases, does listening to trashy music being played on a greasy, grubby radio with tinny-sounding speakers bring anyone pleasure whilst their tyres are being changed? Shouldn’t the customers be compensated for such an affliction rather than chasing the mechanic’s bosses for royalty payments? Just a thought.

The Michael on 'damage-limitation'

Tragically, ironically and damn-well infuriatingly, the Michael has caught a cold. Quite a bad one, in fact. How this could have happened right on the weekend before I was starting the LPC can only be put down to 'sod's law of the jam-side down theory'.

So while I go about in my usual walking-deathbed manner which is the norm when I'm ill, it's a question of limiting the damage that me being off-form is causing at the all important start of the LPC. So far, so good. If this was my formula one blog, I might draw an analogy between me catching a cold and a driver taking a ten place grid penalty for an engine change. Well, the way I'm feeling with this one, I'm starting from the freaking pit-lane. What a pis*er!

The rain came down and the floods came up

With the flooding of July 2007 being such a major talking point at the moment, not least in my place of work amongst the old busy-body-fogies, it was only going to be a matter of time before a flood-related posting went up. The other day, one of my colleagues – the archetypal doom ‘n’ gloom merchant – was bandying the phrase ‘Act of God’ about as if it was going out of fashion.This colleague, it should be said, was taking great delight in the fact one of her, much hated co-workershad, or at least was about to, lose her caravan to the floods.Think that says more about her than anything else, and yes, it is a shame. Tragically, she was prophesising about how the flood victims would cope, if and to what extent there would be financial aid, and who was to blame.Then, I spotted an article in the Times law section this week about this very issue. To her credit, she was largely right in that, given that the majority of flood defences are the responsibility of various statutory bodies, f…

Wall to wall sunshine next week. Yes, seriously.

The Michael might have to look out those shorts and dust-off his sun lounger after all.Just when I’d given up all hope on the summer materialising to any noteworthy extent at all, the weather forecast is finally showing some relief from the rain.Can’t say that I feel particularly summery any more but I might well take the opportunity to soak up a little sun and brown my belly.When I get the chance that is – I’m working one hell of a lot of hours right now.Still, make hay while the sun……oopps, not the most fitting proverb to have used this summer.

Graduation Bear

The Michael has taken a short respite from blogging recently and I make no apologies for my absence – you know I wouldn’t mean it anyway.It seems most blawgers are in somewhat of a summer lull at the moment, so my infrequent postings of late will hopefully have passed unnoticed.Not least, of course, because next to nobody visits law actually.Just kidding. Anyway, in recognition of completing my degree (and getting a first) my Mother kindly sent a ‘graduation bear’ all the way from the states. This bear, however, is like no other.Somewhat spookily, she recorded a message of congratulations which is activated by pressing his left paw.The first time I played the recording I found myself fearfully trembling before slowly inching backwards towards the door.Still, now I realise that was perhaps a tad OTT.I’ve grown to accept this bear and his eerie message in my Mother’s voice.Just not entirely comfortably, that’s all.

Speeder’s right to silence not infringed

I blogged about the case of O’Halloran and Francis v United Kingdom just over a week ago. As you will no doubt recall, faithful reader, the Michael opined that their arguments would be given fairly short shrift.And so it was. The ECHR judges upheld the convictions for speeding offences with a 17-2 majority. You might have thought the judges, impressed with the creativity of the applicant’s arguments, would have let them down gently.Oh no.The mincing of words and the softening of blows were not on the cards. Cases cited in favour of the applicant’s were distinguished from the instant case in almost rapid-fire succession.The one concession to the appellants’ case, however, was a loose acknowledgement that the laws of member states should indeed operate without being self-incriminatory, nor should they infringe the basic right to silence.Err, yeah, thanks for that."On the one hand, it was self-evident that it was incompatible with the immunities to base a conviction solely or mainl…

Gotta Kink?

Today the Michael was accused of ‘having a kink’.This rather quirky and old-fashioned phrase was used by a DIVING instructor who curiously is also a DRIVING instructor and who I still swear I’ve seen on TV at some point in the past – he fervently denies it of course.Anyway, the whole ‘kink’ business came up when the aforementioned instructor retorted with it when I casually dropped into the conversation that prior to my aspirations of becoming a lawyer, I had intended to enter the dental profession.Actually, he didn’t so much accuse as rather ask whether I did or did not have a ‘kink’ of enjoying inflicting pain and trauma on people and charging them for the privilege. Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth; I've no interest in inflicting pain - I’m only in it for the money, baby. Caa-ching!! Just kidding.
It does beg the question, though:

“Which is the most evil and sadistic: a lawyer or a dentist??"

All smoked out....

So it's finally here - the first day of the smoking ban in public places. Many thought we'd never see the day when such a law came into effect and I know many croaky old codgers that'll be cursing it for years to come. I'm very much all for it, though, and readily dismiss arguments such as 'the state dictating to citizens' and the ban being tantamount to an erosion of human rights and civil liberties as 'narrow-sighted, dogmatic, and unreasonable bullsh*t'. Suffice to say, I set little store by the parochial argument a colleague attempted to ply me with earlier: 'we won the war so why should we be dictated to'. I snubbed her argument as politely as I could, but couldn't help wondering where the hell her line of reasoning came from. Actually, she's got a point, but it doesn't support her opinion at all. After all, didn't gassing people with toxic fumes against their will go out with the 'war'?!?!?

It can't be easy, th…

Child Porn in cache - no offence (in Georgia at least)

From OUT-LAW News, 29/06/2007: “A US court has said that the existence of child pornography images in the cache of a man's computer did not mean that that man had committed a crime under state law. A forensic computer analyst for the US Secret Service had testified in court that Edward Ray Barton's laptop computer had been used to view 106 images of child pornography on the internet. Barton was convicted on 106 counts of the sexual exploitation of children and jailed. Under appeal, though, three judges in the state of Georgia ruled that Barton did not break the law, which says that a person must have knowing possession of the images. Judge Miller said that that in order to convict, the state had to show that a defendant took some action to save or download images, or that the defendant knew that the computer automatically saved files.” This is very interesting, not least because I was discussing the legal aspects of pornography at work earlier with a colleague – do…

The Michael has déjà vu

Earlier this year, I blogged about the possibility of super-hacker Gary McKinnon being extradited to the US for trial.As I was causally thumbing (well scrolling actually – this magazine was an e-zine) through the magazine I was hit by a déjà vu moment as I spied an article all about McKinnon’s plight. The magazine was from August 2006 but still made good reading.I haven’t checked what the latest status is on this story recently and will have to get round to that when time and energy allow me. Finally, the postal strike looks inevitable now, meaning chaos for millions and more pertinently, extended agony for thousands of students who are eagerly awaiting their exam results.Following Sod’s law of the jam-side-down theory, the strike coincides exactly with the scheduled release of the exam results.Naturally.