Showing posts from December, 2009

The Law Actually 2009 Review

2009 has been a good year for the Michael all told. I completed my LLM, landed a great legal job (and did so just before handing in my dissertation, so the timing was perfect), earned more money than I’d expected overall, and generally survived yet another year in this miserable world. OK, perhaps that’s a touch harsh, but it’s not all been sweetness and light along the way.2009 high-point:- completing my LLM exams- erm ……There are probably a load more but I like to focus on the negative! ;-)2009 low-points:

- being stuck in my stuffy home office during the summer, slaving away on my dissertation. As readers of my blawg are aware, that quickly degenerated into a DVD-fest as I chain-watched my way through series 1 and 2 of Spooks, series 1 – 4 of the Office - An American Workplace and a bunch of other stuff too. I really loved my LLM but the dissertation process really took the sparkle off of it, sadly.
- Realising the best internet connection I could receive in the new house wa…

December’s Wacky Search Terms

There have been rich pickings for weird and wonderful search terms over the last month.  Here are some of my favourites.“formula on how to benchmark high attrition of lawyers” - I think it's called the credit crunch... don't ask me for the formula though.

“just minxy models” - Just?

“perv chat” - oh you dirty web-surfer, you.

“fu*k you” – Charming.  Just charming.  Why would somebody search for this?  I guess that's the typical user for you!  :p"santa claus sample" - oh boy... a sample of what, exactly?“what to revise for property equity and trusts exam” – try your syllabus for starters.  But aren't property law and equity and trusts usually split?!  

“shenanigans law” - ....I smell a sitcom brewing!!

“send-a-smile office 2010 turn off” - it certainly turned me off from the beta until I disabled it.

“facebook sex” - I get about half of dozen of this searches on Law Actually most days.  Shocking, isn't it?

“grandpas porn” - oh..…

Santa Claus: Legal Risk Assessment

Following on from my post last week regarding Santa setting a bad example, I've got a few more suggestions for making Santa Claus a touch more politically correct (plus a bunch of concerns for potential liability and steps that could be taken to mitigate those risks).He’s an older gent – so tick the box for heading-off allegations of ageism. He’s white and male though, so he’ll need plenty of female elves (and ideally those from ethnic minority backgrounds) - see the Race Relations Act 1996 (as amended).  Perhaps Santa should morph into some kind of androgynous character, just to make doubly-sure the anti-sexism box is checked.Using reindeer as his means of transport puts a bit fat tick in the 'watching his carbon footprint' box - should keep Greenpeace happy - (score one for Santa).  :-)This is negated, though, by potential allegations of animal cruelty.  Also, watch the food-miles of the reindeer’s fodder.As much as I like Christmas and the concept of Santa, the lawyer i…

The Christmas Crapper

Found this via digg earlier.Crapping.  Cracking!  :D

Christmas Eve versus Boxing Day

Whether you’re counting today as Boxing Day or the Bank Holiday on Monday, I think the point’s equally valid.So true!

My Xmas Eve Journey Nightmare

Christmas Eve proved a touch eventful for the Michael and what should have been a 4 hour journey down to Cornwall took well over double that. The fact I’m nursing the onset of a cold, only made matters worse. I’d been feeling a touch rough in the last few days with a pathetic tickly cough (with curiously few other symptoms) but on Wednesday night and all of Thursday, I was sounding more like a dirty old man with throat cancer. Whenever I spoke on my mobile in public, I found I was attracting curious glances (some bordering on stares) from nearby travellers.Having driven halfway down to Cornwall with my GF, I initially missed the train I had intended to catch after stupidly following our Sat-Nav’s advice which took us on an off-piste adventure through the twisty and icy roads running through the Cheddar Gorge. I returned to my GF’s parents’ house in Exeter while I waited for the next non-stopping train down to Cornwall.When I finally returned to the station some two hours later, it tra…

Schumi Returns – (for real this time!!) :D

Today it was announced that the legendary Michael Schumacher would be a making a much-anticipated return to F1 with Mercedes. When the possibility of Schumi returning to deputise for the injured Felipe Massa after the Hungarian grand prix this year, I became incredibly, uncontrollably excited. And believe me, that doesn’t happen very often – I’m quite a low-voltage kind of guy.As I infamously tweeted at the time:“No matter how excited you might think I am at the prospect of Schumi returning, I’m a little bit more!”And that pretty much sums it up this time, too. I’m absolutely thrilled that Michael’s returning and 2010 promises to be a great season. You can’t help wondering whether Mercedes didn’t have this planned all along and wanted shot of the mediocre Button in favour of a true (and German) great. McLaren, of course, were labelling the signing of Button as a massive coup over Mercedes – I guess the joke’s on them now!Michael, of course, started his professional motorsport career …

Santa Claus sets a bad example

From the Chicago Tribune 18/12/09:Santa Claus should get off his sleigh and walk, run or bike, according to a cheeky public health doctor, who says Santa’s commercial image promotes obesity, reckless air travel and a general unhealthy lifestyle. “His popularity should be used to promote healthy living,” Dr. Nathan Grills from Monash University in Australia argued in a light-hearted "analysis" in the Christmas issue of In 2007 acting U.S. surgeon general Steven K. Gallson declared that Santa should be thinner. Despite the public outrage, Grills has jumped on the bandwagon. He wants Santa to lose his belly fat (the most dangerous kind), to eat carrots instead of energy-dense cookies and to don a helmet while participating in “extreme sports such as roof surfing and chimney jumping.”I tweeted earlier this month that I’d seen a new safety-conscious Santa doing the rounds in the neighbourhood who had ditched the reindeer and donned on a hi-visibility jacket.  To be fair…

Horse Fair Victim's Claim Against Council Rejected

From CPD Webinars 14/12/09:Geoffrey Glaister a County Durham man left with brain damage after being kicked by a horse at the 2004 Appleby Horse fair, has been blocked from claiming compensation.
Earlier this year a county court ruled his family could seek compensation from Appleby Town Council.   The court heard Mr Glaister, tried to grab hold of the untethered horse's rein because he feared it posed a risk to his wife and daughter. He suffered "catastrophic" injuries when the horse kicked him as he bent down, leaving him with permanent disabilities and "greatly reduced earning power".In March, he was awarded the right to seek compensation by a Middlesbrough County Court judge, who said the town council had negligently failed to arrange public liability insurance for the event.

But Appeal Court judge Lord Justice Toulson, said the county court decision was "wrong in law" and the town council owed no duty of care to ensure the safe segregati…

Brucie Baby loves a courtroom drama

No, I wouldn’t have thought it either. Still, it turns out that when travelling, Brucie loves nothing more than settling down with a legal thriller (when he's not playing golf or doing those famous daily stretches of his).Despite growing up against a backdrop of my Father constantly proclaiming that Brucie’s ‘dead but won’t lie down’ whenever he appeared on TV, Brucie’s still going strong. Anybody who witnessed his performance with Alesha Dixon last night on Strictly Come Dancing can certainly testify to that: he was waggling those hips like a 17 year old!!! (And yes, they were his own hips, before you ask).Thankfully, unlike previous years, both myself and my GF have been far too busy for her to insist that we watch much of Strictly – a show which has traditionally held about as much entertainment value for me as watching paint dry.But I actually really like Brucie – if only for his imitable style, cheeky demeanour and thirst for life. Plus, with a wife some 30 odd years his jun…

What to get the law student (or graduate) who has everything?

Hat tip to Katie Luper for this one but her post got me thinking.What would make a good Christmas gift for a law student/grad? Ideas so far:- Post it notes?  Statute books, or a bumper collection of biros?  - An expensive, pretentious pen?  An expensive and pretentious moleskine notebook or diary to go with said pen?  - A DVD boxset of This Life, or Ally MacBeal etc. ..... funny how you don't hear those mentioned much now!  Thank God they seem to have finally died their death. - I should imagine that a pupillage or training contract (or a means of fast-forwarding your way through your law degree and into a job) is at the top of a lot of our lists. - For the more traditional or conservative, what about legally-themed ties or socks or maybe something a touch more frivolous?   For instance, for that special legal lady in your life, what about legally-themed lingerie - perhaps not with horsehair wigs, though.Any other ideas?

Demise of the Christmas card?

This is a call for the distinguished and learned members of the blawgosphere to share with me their Christmas card sending/receiving experiences: have you sent or received any this year and if so, are the numbers lower than in previous years?  I'm itching to know.Not so much because I'm nosy, but more that I'm wondering whether I'm alone in sensing that the sending of Christmas cards just seems to be a tradition that edges closer towards extinction as each year passes.  I was going to order myself another bunch from the Carbolic Smoke Ball Company again, as I have in previous years. Still, I'm kind of glad I didn't bother; no one at work seems to be exchanging them, though there is a Secret Santa organised for later this week to coincide with the works Christmas do - so I hope everyone doesn't start exchanging them with one another then. It also coincides somewhat awkwardly for me with a flying trip up to London for meeting, and I'm only due to arrive …

How was it for you?

I was amused to see on Friday that the poll, “2009: Was it good for you?” on the Junior Lawyers site recorded a greater number of negative than positive responses. I’ve just checked again and the same proportion of yeses and noes holds sway:BTW: two of the yeses are mine so I guess there’s quite a lot of misery out there.

How’s that for an explosive court case?

From The Times Online – Weird Cases 04/12/09:The principal weapon of advocates is language. Sam Kepfield, however, recently sought to extend his options in a Kansas courtroom when he put a hand grenade on the jury box ledge and pulled out the pin. Kepfield, a defence attorney, was representing a woman charged with forgery and theft. Her defence was duress. She claimed that her co-defendant had forced her into committing crimes by threatening to kill her pet dog and hurt her daughter unless she cooperated. In an effort to convey to the jurors what it feels like to face an imminent threat, Kepfield took the view that simple verbal descriptions would not suffice and that something dramatic was required. So he acquired a dud grenade and then, during a speech about fear and the experience of being intimidated, without notice to the judge or the prosecutors, he brandished the grenade, pulled the pin, placed it on the jury ledge and asked the jurors, “Are you afraid now?” This was certainly…

Panic Button Added to Social Networking Sites

From Tech Watch 07/12/09:Facebook and other social networking sites have agreed to adopt recommendations drawn up by the government to provide a panic button on their web pages.Bebo has already introduced this measure, which basically consists of a highly visible button that kids can click on to report offensive or inappropriate material.The idea, which is something that the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre has been recommending for some time, was put forward by the government’s adviser on online safety, Tanya Byron.Other guidelines will stress the need for sites to provide parental control options to better supervise their offspring’s online activities, and will also apply to chat rooms, instant messaging services and the like.I’ve been advocating something along these lines for years. However, in my opinion, a butt which simply provides a means of reporting abuse does not go far enough and it should constitute more of a ‘stop-this-and-get-me-out-of-here-now’ function …

Office 2010 Beta

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been trying out the public beta of the next version of Microsoft Office, just as I did back in summer 2006 for the second beta of what was to be Office 2007. So far my experiences are positive, but this isn’t the quantum leap (from the perspective of UI and, to a certain extent, functionality) as Office 2007 proved over  its predecessors.I’m not going to run through all of the new stuff in there; I just intend commenting on the new features that I’ve encountered or those which I have particular opinions of - based on my (rather limited) experience with the beta.I should point out at this stage, I guess, that as Office has matured over the years, certain additions have just felt like change for change’s sake. I get that feeling with Office 2010 – possibly more than ever.· Pretty new icons for each application and a nice new orange Office logo. Still, I’m not sure how much your average Office user will care about this stuff.· Stronger colour ‘branding’

Status check on the blawgosphere

This post is an update to a couple of others I wrote earlier this year. First and foremost, I guess, it serves as a qualification to the post I published entitled ‘Yet More New Growth in the Blawgosphere’ back on 1st September. Of the 4 blogs I reviewed then, 2 have faltered entirely, and one can no longer be regarded as a ‘blawg’.Dottie/Kim AKA ‘pink pop polka dot’ – while this blog is still updated, the content is given-over entirely to make-up tips, cosmetic product reviews and the like. Last time I checked, Kim doesn’t link to any blawgs either - which more or less cements the fate of her blog for me.  I’ve nothing against Dottie’s blog per se, only I have little interest reading about make-up tips. Oh well. 
Law Actually blog-roll status: Struck off.Mad Law Student – it was always a tentative, ‘I’m-not-really-sure-about-this’ start but it finally looks like this blog has fallen by the wayside with only two or three posts to its name.  Still, a comeback isn’t impossible.
Law A…

Storm in a teacup / rat in a risotto

From BBC News 06/12/09:I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! winner Gino D'Acampo and Stuart Manning face charges of animal cruelty after cooking and eating a rat in the show.The RSPCA in New South Wales, Australia, said it was "not acceptable" that a rat had been killed by the pair as part of a performance. Police confirmed they had issued court attendance notices for 3 February 2010. The Italian chef and actor ate the rat after they were "exiled" and reduced to rations of rice and beans on the show. D'Acampo, 33, told the show's video diary room, the Bush Telegraph: "I saw one of these rats running around. I got a knife, I got its throat, I picked it up." The "exiled" group, including 30-year-old Manning, ate the rat as part of a meal. Ch Insp David Oshannessy, from the RSPCA in New South Wales, told BBC Radio 5 live there was a "code of practice" which dictated how animals could be used in theatrical productions an…

Annoying new verb for office-based communication

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has noticed a rather disturbing new trend in everyday office-speak. It seems that a new verb has descended into common parlance over the last few weeks to describe the sending of emails and faxes and making phone calls - 'to drop'.I realise that the phrase to 'drop a line' has been around for decades to describe the act of writing a letter but the fact that it seems to have been now rolled out to cover all other forms of communication strikes me as a touch grating.  I have to endure the increasingly stale expressions, "Oh, I'll just drop you an email", I'll drop them a text now", "I'll just drop you a voicemail later on" countless times each day.  And of course, being the habitual contrarian that I am, I make a point of never using the phrase.  I’ve heard it muttered recently on the train, too, but I’m curious to know whether it’s more of southern thing or if it’s spread across the UK like a…

Poole’s Christmas Tree / Astroturf Cone

From the Times 27/11/09: Shoppers stared in bemusement at the mysterious object that landed in a shopping precinct in Poole, Dorset, this week. Some compared it to a giant traffic cone, a witch’s hat or a cheap special effect from an early episode of Doctor Who. The 33ft structure turned out to be their Christmas tree, designed according to the principles of health and safety, circa 2009. Thus it has no trunk so it won’t blow over, no branches to break off and land on someone’s head, no pine needles to poke a passer-by in the eye, no decorations for drunken teenagers to steal and no angel, presumably because it would need a dangerously long ladder to place it at the top. Last year Poole boasted a Norwegian fir draped with strings of coloured lights. It cost £500 and continued a decades-old tradition. The replacement, which is constructed on a metal frame overlaid with what appears to be artificial grass, cost £14,000 and comes with built-in fairy lights and hidden speakers to play Chr…

A Problem in Briefs

From The Times – Garry Slapper’s Weird Cases 6/11/09:In Florida, Judge Patricia Kinsey ruled recently in the case of Albert Freed who sued a men’s briefs manufacturer claiming he was injured on holiday by their badly designed underwear. In a judgement she probably did not anticipate making while at law school, Judge Kinsey was required to engage in a detailed analysis of the relationship between male anatomy and male underwear. An alleged design defect supposedly exposed Freed to beach sand that had accumulated in swimming trunks he was wearing over his briefs. Judge Kinsey doubted the contention that the briefs had opened “whereupon the edges of the opening abraded his penis like “’sandpaper belts’”.Ouch! More intriguingly: Why had Freed spent two weeks on holiday aggravating the problem without reporting it to his wife? He said he was so excited about this holiday to Hawaii – which he had won – that he did not want to complain about his debilitating pain until they got home. [Edit –…