Monday, 27 December 2010

Snow, storms and a pencil sharpener

snow ploughLate on Christmas Day, in between stuffing my face with chocolate, I caught some of the news on TV and was shocked to discover a major Nor’ East-er had altered its course and would be hitting us on Boxing Day. I’ve always enjoyed US newsreaders’ love of melodrama and with the prospect of a Christmas blizzard on the horizon, they were all in their element pushing the panic button. Oh mawy gawwwwwd!

Anyway, no snow fell Christmas night, but yesterday morning was very overcast and it started to spit snow from about 11.00AM onwards, gradually building throughout the day.

In the middle of the afternoon, just as the snow started to get serious, I went out with a relative on an urgent trip to Staples to buy a USB hub and a new printer/scanner/fax machine which, it seemed, just couldn’t wait. We slithered our way over there and beached the car in the parking lot, having to guess where the lines were. The wind was already blowing the snow into drifts and I nearly froze my chucky off just getting to the door, but my cockles were warmed by the emo girl serving there who was still in a state of shock that a customer ventured out in the storm to buy a… pencil sharpener. I’m not sure a pencil sharpener can ever warrant a special trip, no matter what the weather. Computer peripherals, of course, are totally different.

Be right back

The wind has been the biggest thing rather than the snow; it’s been gusting 45 – 50 mph and really, really bone chillingly cold.

We’ve probably had 6 – 8 inches of snow in the end, which is thankfully nothing like the 10 – 14 inches we were due to get.  The city even had the audacity to cancel the Philly Eagles game last night. Given the litigious nature of America and the fact 60,000 people were expected to be out and about travelling to the game, it was probably a smart move – if only from a lawyer’s perspective. Philadelphia Int’l Airport is still a mess with a massive backlog after cancellations yesterday.  I just hope everything sorts itself out in time for my return to the UK on Wednesday evening.

Fingers crossed.

Friday, 24 December 2010

‘Tis the season to be…

DB102709001Embittered by a deluge of unwanted, socks, ties and chillingly festive Christmas sweaters? Enraged by pesky family members who crawl of the woodwork once a year to visit?  Sick to the back teeth of every kind of turkey dish imaginable being foisted upon you? All of the above?

We’re not quite there yet, but I’m guessing we’ll all be able to raise our hands to these come this time tomorrow.  

This Christmas is shaping up to be a bit of an odd affair, with my going sick for the last few days and the fact I’m out of the country at the moment. I think I’ve more or less bounced back from the dreaded lurgy now at least. I just hope Santa’s on track too.

Nowadays, of course, kids can track Santa’s progress on his annual deliverathon using sites like this - http://www.noradsanta.org/en/index.html

I don’t know whether I would have been up for that as a kid. I guess it’s good to know exactly where Santa is, but then again, you might be heartbroken if you think he’s passed you by / had to divert to make an emergency landing. Christmas can be a tense time – even for the under tens.

And talking of that, I was amused to find a rather curious page on the Federal Aviation Administration website dedicated to Santa’s antics. It’s great to see Santa has abolished the old-skool  ‘step down’ approach when landing on rooftops and is keeping himself in line with the latest aviation practices.Santa landing


Anyhow, no matter how awful the Christmas sweater that’s currently lurking under the tree with your name on it, this girl’s takes some beating.  I don’t know if the pearls are accentuating the positive or negative, but at least she tried.  The battle-axe next to her is sporting a brarmer, too.  Don’t ya just love Christmas?

Christmas sweater

Found here.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Update from Philly

Update from Philly

 

For 2 Christmases in a row I’ve had a cold, but this year takes the biscuit by virtue of having to travel with a veritable stinker.  Now I think about it, the Christmas before that, even, I came down with something nasty on Boxing Day, (and it wasn’t just the effect the in-laws have on me) so you’d better make that 3 Christmases. 
Yep, this is starting to look like a curse.

Sod’s law dictated that I didn’t catch any of the colds going around right until the day I left but then I went down like a trooper - (and please no, “that’s what she said”, quips!!)  Travelling is really bad enough without feeling really crappy on top of it.  Luckily, though, I think the sinus pain brought on by the high altitude helped to take my mind off of my rasping sore throat so that’s something I guess.

Anyway, my nose is now Rudolph red, my lips dry, cracked and bleeding and I’m as snotty as could be.  As charming as ever in other words.

But, after being out for the count for the first few days, perhaps the rest of my stay here will perk up. I’ve picked up some more tablets and they’ve given me a new lease of life. 

As I’ve been laid up for the most part so far, I’ve not done a whole lot. Still, I've managed to get off of my deathbed a few times.  I’ve been reminded just how seedy the average American diner is – and how awful the food can be.  That slop was bad enough the first time around, so I really, really didn’t want to take it away in a doggy bag.  At the other end of spectrum, I’ve been to a couple of nice restaurants, too. So it’s not all bad.

I’ve managed to get some Christmas shopping in and have been into center city. I should be attending a basketball match at some point which will be good as it’s been ages since I did that this side of the Atlantic.

The weather has been pretty boring so far and am a bit gutted I've missed the chance to slip and slide my way around in the UK.  I just hope Heathrow sorts itself out in time for my return flight next week.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Toxic sofa syndrome – justice at last?

rootin' tootin' deal - toxic sofa syndrome

From Sky News 15/12/10:

 

A final group of victims who suffered skin complaints from chemically-treated 'toxic sofas' have won compensation.

Some 408 claimants, including 55 children, will each get £1,800 in payouts.

The case was launched against three retailers - Argos, Land of Leather, and Walmsleys - who accepted liability for selling the tainted sofas.

In total, more than 2,000 people received compensation after suffering burn-like irritation.

After medical tests, it was tracked down to the sensitising agent dimethyl fumarate (DMF) in the sofas manufactured by Chinese companies Linkwise and Eurosofa.

In April, an agreement was reached which saw £20m distributed between around 1,650 people, depending on the severity of their symptoms.

However, 408 customers who bought their sofas from Land of Leather - now in administration - looked set to miss out, as another judge had ruled that they were not entitled to compensation from Zurich, the company's insurers.

Zurich UK said it had been working since then to find a resolution for the 408 outstanding victims.

Toxic sofa syndrome is truly evil; I remember seeing a documentary about it a few years ago and some of the stories are just chilling.  The fact it’s attributable to a substance which was merely added to prevent dampness occurring whilst the sofa is in storage is just crazy.  I’ve never trusted those little packets of silica which were added to packaged products either – and I particularly don’t now!  It’s also rather ironic that people were resting up on their sofa in an attempt to get better and were simply placing themselves right in harm’s way.  Like I said: chilling.

Anyhoo, I thought this one was fitting, given that we’re approaching Christmas and all that that means in modern life. Whilst peace on earth and goodwill to all men might be the more traditional Yuletide message, it’s now more about consumers being able to get a brand spanking new sofa in their homes in time for Christmas. Quite why that’s so important is beyond me; why spend money on a new leather sofa just so your partner’s grandmother can come over and soil it with a urine stain after one too many eggnogs or so the kids can slash it with a wii controller in an overzealous Dance Dance Revolution move?

One of life’s little mysteries I suppose.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Is the iPad culture killing blogging?

ipad culture

I’ve been quite vocal about the decline in the UK blawgopshere in the last couple of years, but I’ve suddenly started noticing a few worrying signs about our counterparts in the US. They’re starting to drop off the map, too.

It’s not just the half-hearted hobbyist bloggers though. Suddenly some of the heavy-hitters who have been lynchpins in the ‘sphere for several years have decided it’s time to reserve their energies for more meritorious ends. So what’s driving this sudden exodus?

For me, the biggest question is what has happened to the stream of new blood that was flooding in a couple of years ago. New law students are still enrolling each year, so where are the fresh-faced upstarts ready to pick up the slack? Granted, only a tiny proportion would have ever become bloggers, but when those that would have done so 3 years ago, no longer regard blogging as a worthwhile activity, we’re suddenly on a one-way street towards extinction.

So, what’s causing the well-established regulars to wind up, as well as discouraging newbies from trying it in the first place? Has the ‘blogging may prove harmful to your career’ message frightened off the few that would have otherwise laid claim to a small piece of the blogosphere? Given the huge amount of potentially embarrassing material people freely serve on up on their Facebook accounts, I don’t think that quite cuts it as an explanation.

Perhaps, it’s simply blogging itself. Have law students on both sides of the Atlantic suddenly decided that blogging is just a bit too ‘2007’ to be worthy of their time. Maybe they’re too busy updating their Facebook or Twitter statuses or harvesting crops on Farmville to even care.

But maybe there’s another phenomenon at play here. Something I’ve witnessed increasingly over the last 12 months which has seriously impacted web use and how the web is regarded. For want of a better term, I’ve dubbed it the ‘iPad culture’.

What I mean by this is that web-users, engulfed in a universe of social media, are content to consume web content and participate in social media rather than produce content themselves. Sure, they’re tweeting their thumbs off on a regular basis as well as checking their Facebook account every couple of minutes. They’re more than happy to inanely point their camera phone at a mislabelled item in a supermarket or at their latest culinary concoction and share it with the world. But sit down and write a blog post? No – that’s too much like hard work.

I guess we’ve been on that trajectory for a while now with the social media explosion. But the upsurge has resulted in the line between participation and content creation being blurred beyond distinction. Creativity is curtailed by participating in more instantaneous, shorter and superficial channels of communication via Twitter and Facebook for instance. Put simply, it just aint blogging.

As far as I’m concerned, everyone from law students, graduates and academics right through to seasoned practicing lawyers can all benefit from blogging. Blogging still has an important place in the social media family. It’s not entirely without risk, and it does involve a time commitment but the benefits have always outweighed the downsides.

Quite what the future holds for blawgging is anyone’s guess right now. I’m not sure I’m comfortable with this current downturn and I am left wondering whether this is the beginning of the end – if only for student blawgs.

I really hope it’s not.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

It must be that time of year again…

Yes, the Law Actually Christmas decorations have gone up in the form of updated header and footer banners.  I know, I know – big whoop.  Still, rather fittingly this year, we’ve even got some snow on there. 

I’m meant to be leaving for the US in a week’s time, and I’ve got next to nothing done in terms of Christmas shopping yet.  This could be awkward.  I think Amazon is going to be getting a fair bit of business from me this Sunday.

Coincidentally, this is also the 500th post to appear on Law Actually.  It’s a pity it wasn’t something more meaningful.  Oh well.

Monday, 6 December 2010

The Best Lawyer Adverts on TV - EVER

I actually discovered this quite by chance a few weeks ago, but haven’t got around to blogging about it before now.

This collection of TV adverts for law firms range from the bizarre to the hilarious, all the way through to the downright disturbing. Against a backdrop of the UK’s rather conservative approach to advertising law firms and legal services, they’re all the more outlandish.

Actually, some of the ads are a bit extreme (even for me) but it certainly beats a suited and booted Billy Murray, pleading with you in a slight ex-gangsterish way that you really NEED a personal injury solicitor and CAN get what’s rightfully yours, and you know what, that accident really WASN’T your fault. 

Still, maybe I shouldn’t knock it. While it might seem a bit of a come-down after the highs of starring in ‘The Bill,’ at least it makes a change from doing endless panto! Right, Billy?

Anyhoo, to the ads…

Rather than a scene of several conscientious-looking, smartly dressed morons poring over some papers a la the UK approach, how about a hard-hitting rap song, personal injury style?

In da hood: “If ya’v eva bin injad ina ak-sid-dent…”

Or let’s try running over a cute cartoon animal – to win the sympathy vote.

The best PI firm in town (for handling RTAs involving cartoon animals).


[Actually, I feel bit like Dennis Norden in “It’ be alright on the night …562” here; all I need is the chunky spectacles and clipboard and I’m set]. 
Winking smileDenis_NordenStumbling from one faux pas to the next, who the hell commissioned this brarmer, showing that being a bully in school is a great thing – providing that the bully goes on to become a lawyer and he’s working for you? Is this the image the legal profession wants to convey – even in America? Actually, don’t answer that.

Being a bully is fine–as long as you grow up to become a lawyer!

Next up is a smug, self-assured lady sat on a sofa, proudly describing how after her husband served divorce papers on Christmas eve, she hired a lawyer to, you know, ruin his New Year. Nothing like a mature, sensible and reconciliatory approach from clients eh?

And who said romance was dead?

Or how about a fat, bold, bearded ruffian in a suit representing the devil / some kind of creditor, who’s now quaking in his proverbials at the prospect of having a certain law firm on his tail. All to a chirpy little jingle – budget TV style.

Pay you?! Yep–I’ll pay you. To. Stop. Singing.

I’ve saved the best to last, folks.  It’s DivorceEZ with their imitable in-your-face style of charm.

“If you and your spouse hate each other like poison and want to get out of the hell-hole you call a marriage, you’ve come to the right place. Look, you can waste your time screwing around with a paper-pusher paralegal type, give thousands of dollars to some piece of crap three piece suit downtown, blow your brains to try and figure out why you wasted 25 bucks on the crappy forms you bought from the illiterate boob at the courthouse or do what I say and do it now”.

 

There’s the hard-sell, and there’s the downright obnoxious.

And to think Brits still question the taste and tact of American TV.  Be right back

Friday, 3 December 2010

Yes, they’re back: Wacky Search Terms

It’s been a while since I’ve done a wacky search terms post, in which I document the various weird and wonderful phrases people have Googled and gone on to stumble across Law Actually.

I thought it was high time they made a reappearance; think of it as an early Christmas special.

 

“is it a leggal for kid over 13 to trick a treat” Well, deciphering your question, I would say, yes, but only with his mummy's permission!  ;-)

“flying cow storm” - wow... is that like something out of the bible?

“how do lawyers use dictaphone” – well, funnily enough, they speak into them.

“disposable fountain pen and how useless they are” – you get what you pay for!  :p

“post man sues grit” - I hope grit’s got a good lawyer!

“poking yourself in the eye with a biscuit and missing your mouth” - what kind of person a) does this and b) googles it?!  And doesn’t the second bit necessarily follow – unless, of course, this person routinely eats through their eye.

“what ever happened to the girl that fell down the sewer?” – she got very wet and very stinky.

“how do they catch pervs” - with a perv-net of course.

“what is the law in britain about boys using ladies toilets” Check out section 3 (1) of the Public Toilets Act 1982 - (otherwise known as the ‘caught short’ provisions).

“will my lpc provider tell me they have reported me to the sra” - oh God, just turn yourself in now.

“Student mneumonics for contract Law” - student what?  :p

“google solicitors from hell then go to heaven law for less” Hmm.

“how to break into the paralegal law profession in England” - brute force, best ram it in a transit van.

“what can LLB lead to” - lots of debt.

“speeding but i can't afford solicitor” – diddums – you should have thought of that before.

“pornography and injuries” - to the reader from Germany who searched for this, I hope it was nothing serious and everything’s back in full working order!  ;-)

“are law students really mean” - I'm saying nothing.

“lawyer block” - a free add-on for Firefox and Chrome?

“santa claus - criminal record checks uk” - If you discovered he's on the sex offenders register, I don't think you'd ever regard Christmas in the same way again.

“injured big swell and struck bond fingers at work claim” - you've done what exactly?  I hope you called your doctor and lawyer, not necessarily in that order.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Sponsor a law student

sponsor a law student

Tuition fees are very much in vogue at the moment, given the prospective hike in fees which UK students can expect to be paying soon.

If attending a collegiate demonstration and rocking a police van from side to side with your peers isn’t quite your thing, you could always try different tack. Why not take a leaf out of US blawgger Ruth Carter’s book.

I was fascinated to read a post from a her blog, the Undeniable Ruth, which appeals to her readers for sponsorship to help her pay her law school fees. Whatever your feelings about this approach, it’s certainly an interesting idea. From my perspective, I’m not sure whether this counts as evidence of good entrepreneurial flare, a quirky idea to help cover the spiralling costs of tuition or brash impertinence.

Ruth, who’s a law student at Arizona State University, describes her sponsorship scheme as follows:

When I applied to law school, the average debt for a student graduating from my program was ~$50,000. Today, the average debt is over $89,000! That’s insane! How did my education get $40,000 more expensive?! I have one semester left, plus studying for and taking the Bar. I’m reaching out to the online community to help me pay for it.

Sponsor A Law Kid gives anyone who wants to the opportunity to sponsor my legal education for a day. It will run from January 1, 2011 until July 27, 2011 – the last day of the Arizona Bar Exam. Each day can have one sponsor.

The cost to sponsor January 1st is only $1, and the price for each subsequent day goes up by $1 (Jan. 2nd = $2, Jan. 3rd = $3, Jul. 27th = $208).

Why should anyone give up a couple bucks, or a couple hundred bucks, to help pay for my education? In exchange for your sponsorship, for each day that I’m sponsored, I’ll publish a blog [post] that tells the world how awesome you, your organization, and/or your products are. Also, it will give you a warm fuzzy feeling knowing that you’re part of something awesome.

So besides spiritual fulfillment and a general sense of philanthropy, is that sufficient ROI for a cold-hearted commercial sponsoror? Probably not, but, let’s face it, that not who this is really aimed at.

Maybe one of the UK blawgers who still ‘in education’ could try this idea. Anyone? I can’t see many law firms queuing up to part-sponsor a student through their legal education but you never know. Nothing ventured, nothing gained and all that. It’ll be an interesting experiment if nothing else.

Ruth has taken a lot of flak for her sponsorship plan with a lot of strong views expressed in the comments on the post. Opinions seem to range from, “how very dare she” right through to accusations of polite prostitution. But there are a lot of supporters out there as well.

I advised Ruth that I thought she would stand a better chance just monetising her blog in a more conventional way - through paid texts links at a monthly rate. I also feel it would mean she would gain a more sustainable, ongoing revenue stream rather than from the rather bizarre pricing structure she proposes in her post.

Ruth replied in the comments saying she’d considered this but didn’t have the readership or traffic levels.

But I think she’s a smart cookie and is more than capable of using her blog to at least partly pay for her legal education without any advice - least of all from me. Actually, I’m curious as to whether this was her plan all along and that ‘sponsor a law kid’ was just a publicity stunt to gain readership and increase her pagerank with a view to cashing in on in paid links. Whatever the truth, it certainly seems to be working.

I know the UK are pretty lukewarm on the US blawgopshere, just as I’m sure they are about us, but I’ve always enjoyed keeping abreast of the developments t’other side of the pond. Ruth’s is one of the best: well designed, well written, and regularly updated. We could do with a few more of them and I’d strongly recommend checking it out.

Her sponsor a law kid idea is quirky, left-field and rather provocative. But that’s pretty much what the ideal blawg should be, right?

Monday, 22 November 2010

Why should blog spammers get a free lunch?

your chums are fighting why aren’t you


Although spam has been one of the scourges of the internet for several years, most spam filters are now good enough for you not to have to worry (or even think) about it.  That’s certainly true of Gmail.  Spam comments on blogs, however, are a very different matter.

All bloggers must be hit by this menace – I know I am.  Most of us make use of word verification technology to help prevent spam attacks from bots but this does nothing to stop somebody sitting in India who’s being paid to repeatedly add spam comments to a blog post for SEO purposes.  For whatever reason, today’s been a particularly bad one on Law Actually; they’ve been spamming the s**t out of me.

Unless and until the spam filter functionality which blogspot recently started featuring gets a lot better, the only effective way of combating it is a very manual approach - by deleting the offending comments.  That’s not great, but doing nothing is definitely not an option.

I’ve always regarded a blog as more of a dynamic conversational thing compared to a static webpage, so the readers’ comments are just as valuable as the post itself.  Rather than me having to approve each and every comment before it goes live on Law Actually, I just make commenters jump through the word verification hoop and once done, their contribution appears for the world to see.  That way, it’s a less stilted, more real-time flow of ideas. 

But every bloggers secret weapon should be email alerts. I get an alert every time a new comment is made on any of my posts and I’ll delete any I regard as spam immediately.  Sometimes, it’s an endless battle but as fast as these irksome spammers hit on me, I delete their false and link-ridden ‘comments’. 

In spite of the warm glow of victory having momentarily defeated a spammer, blog comment spam really winds me up.  Why should bloggers give away a valuable commodity to the parasitic businesses who want to freeload on our respective pageranks as a means of boosting their own Google rankings?  I’ve no objection to those who are willing to pay for it, but I realise that some bloggers feel that monetising their blogs somehow sullies them.  I’m less concerned about that; my overriding feeling is that I simply hate people who are always looking for something for free.

The attempts of some spammers to segue their seedy links into the post topic are hilarious, but most are just offensive through their sheer stupidity.  Comments to a blog post are really not the place to ‘thank me for sharing’ followed by whatever random link(s) the spammer is touting.  Nor are they the place to tell the world that XXXX are the best personal injury lawyers in [insert name of town/city/locale].  And if you offer cheap and fast conveyancing, I really don’t want to hear about it in the comments section on a blog.

But there’s another reason why all bloggers should make a concerted effort to combat the scourge of spam comments.  There’s nothing more depressing than seeing a blog plastered with text and links filling up half of the comments on any post.   It makes it look cheap, uncared for and with a dirty habit.  It’s the blogging equivalent of having track marks up your forearm.  Surely you wouldn’t want that for your blog? 

So please, learned blawggers of the ‘sphere, if you haven’t already set up en email alert for comments, do so now, and as far as spam comments are concerned, operate a shoot-to-kill policy.

Together we can kick these spammers where it hurts!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Relaxation techniques for lawyers - relax-a-law

relax a law graphic

Introducing relax-a-law.  Over 6 hours of recorded audio comprising 101 deep breathing and relaxation exercises designed specifically for busy lawyers.  Now available for digital download.

Crazy long hours?  Manic case load?  Clients screaming for results? Hounded by the Solicitors Regulation Authority? Close your mind to all these worries and more and just drift away on a sensual journey into the unknown, with the soothing voice of Johnny Squaharlow.

Relax-a-law deep breathing exercises can be done anywhere: at your desk, in the boardroom, on the train - even in open court.

So the next time you’re stuck on a dreary conference call that seems it’ll never end, just stick them on mute and bung in your earphones.

Comes with a complementary set of massage oils.

Customer Testimonials:

“It’s brilliant, I feel so much more relaxed thanks to relax-a-law.  (I did get some funny looks from co-workers, though, with my heavy breathing.  Actually, they’ve reported me to HR.  But still, I’ll be much more relaxed for the disciplinary hearing).”

“It made me forget the misery of being a lawyer.”

“Johnny Squaharlow makes my skin crawl.  But my anxiety attacks have all but stopped”.

“relax-a-law totally changed my life.  After a relaxation session with the free oils, my colleagues won’t talk to me, I’m in the middle of a messy divorce and my career’s on the skids.  Thanks relax-a-law.”

Monday, 15 November 2010

Secret Santa Arrives Early

secret santa

The office is gearing up for the Secret Santa draw later this week. I’m actually going to miss the Christmas ‘do’ this year due to travel plans but I thought I’d show willing by participating in the secret-santa-yankee-swap routine. As painful as it might be.

Whilst secret santa exchanges tend to be a universal disappointment throughout offices the world over, heaven help anyone who tries to avoid them by pleading poverty or some other excuse. Worst still, never, ever say you’ll do it and then try and pull out. The organiser has decided to try and get participants to sign a gentlemen’s agreement to prevent a bevy of withdrawals late in the day.  Good luck relying on that one.

And who said the spirit of Christmas was dead?

Anecdotally, it seems that people have started Christmas shopping earlier than ever this year. It’s still not quite hitting my radar yet, but I don’t think I’ll be able to ignore it for too long.  Plus, the infamous Coca Cola ‘Holidays are Coming’  ads have already starting airing so that’s another turn of the screw each and every evening for the next 6 weeks.  Lovely.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Flying Pasties – Don’t let them see you naked

Airport Scanners graphic - flying pasties

Given my Cornish roots, (and clearly innocent mind) I was initially slightly puzzled as to how the use of ‘pasties’ would be of useful application in shielding your modesty whilst going through airport scanners.   After all, hot pastry snacks and underwear, seldom go hand in hand – even in Cornwall.

Anyway, if you’re not up to speed with exactly what a ‘pastie’ is in this context, here’s the deal.

I naturally took the concept of Flying Pasties as a spoof initially.  On closer inspection, clearly it is not.

 

Flying Pasties are rubber pads that you place over your nether regions so that anyone reviewing your image on a full body scanner doesn't see anything that you wouldn't want to expose without first being taken out for dinner.

Flying Pasties aren't stickers or paper cut-outs. They're 2mm thick pieces of rubber that adhere to your skin to cover your breasts and genitalia. According to the manufacturer, when your image appears on the full body scanner monitors, areas of skin covered by the Flying Pasties will not be visible to the security agent.

The pasties come in sets for women including two breast pasties and one bottom and one bottom piece for males.

They are emblazoned with text such as "Private" and "Only my husband sees me naked." The company does offer the option to customize the message your pasties.

Oh goody.  I bet this has been a constant source of amusement for the staff working on the bespoke pasties.  Any good ideas for customised messages? 

But I’m curious about what the Department for Transport make of this. The UK brought in a trial of body scanners in Heathrow and Manchester airports earlier this year, through powers conferred under the Aviation Security Act 1982.

From the current code of practice released by the department for transport:

“If a passenger declines to be scanned that passenger must be refused access to the Restricted Zone, with the result that the passenger will not be able to fly.” 

So does that include a passenger who is happy to be scanned but refuses to remove his or her pasties?  What happens in that situation?  

According to Liberty,
“Passengers are selected for scanning randomly or on the basis of undisclosed criteria. There is no alternative: if a person selected for scanning refuses he or she will not be permitted to board their flight.”

The biggest question, perhaps, is just how these are going to go down with airport security officials? What if a terrorist sought to hide a potent weapon behind their pastie? - (something all gents would no doubt like to lay claim to!!)  Or what about drugs / other contraband?  Could a terrorist hide a sufficient quantity of explosives behind a set of pasties to carry out his or her evil deed? In theory, sniffer dogs should still detect these things without difficulty. At least, one would hope so.

For contraband/explosives carried internally, is there the potential for pasties to be used by criminals as a further means of putting scanners/ sniffer dogs off of the scent?

Yes, savour that image.

Moving swiftly on, I bit the bullet and emailed the Department for Transport about their stance on these products and they kindly answered my email a couple of days ago. They said:

“If as a result of a security scan the security officer is not satisfied that the image enables him or her to make a through [sic] analysis of the potential for threat items located on the body, the passenger may be asked to explain any apparent anomalies in the image.

The security officer may decide that it is necessary to resolve this concern with a detailed physical search.”

“Explain any apparent anomalies”.  So would they be satisfied with, “oh, that’s just my pastie, officer”? 
Be right back

And what does a detailed physical search’ involve here?   Would the pasties need to be removed?  Like any self-respecting government department, any information released tends to raise more questions than answers. 

Curiously, I’m heading to the states for Christmas next month, so maybe I should order myself a flying pastie and give it a go, naturally posting a review of my experiences on Law Actually afterwards. 

According to the Flying Pasties website, the 2nd generation pasties are currently in production.  Here are the designs:

2nd Generation Flying Pasties

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Parcel Delivery Guide for Postmen

Given that today is a potentially historic day for Royal Mail, I thought ‘posting’ this would be particularly apt! ;-)

I’m sure we can all relate to it:

parcel delivery guide

 

Originally seen here.

That said, I don’t think it tells the full story in the case of UK deliveries. I’ve heard it rumoured that certain posties are in the habit of leaving householders a P739 card, (more commonly known as a ‘sorry you were out’ card) when, in fact, they hadn’t left the house all morning. This isn’t due to the postman’s quiet knocking, nor a malfunctioning door bell. Rather they sneak up to your house with all the cunning and stealth of an SAS sniper and leave the card before creeping away because they haven’t got your parcel with them at all. It’s back in the depot!! On busy days, they only take a portion of the bulkier items on their rounds to help spread the load over the week.

Sneaky. (If it’s true, of course!) 

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Law Actually Mailbag: Jennifer without a G

law actually mailbagThe following email plopped into my inbox a while back but I’ve been a little slow in answering it.  To partly cover up my tardiness, I though that rather than just giving my own views on this, I might throw it out to the whole blawgosphere – as one of my ‘mailbag’ features.

So, what did law graduate Jennifer have to ask?

“Hey

I am jennifer XXXX from india.I have currently finished my bachelors in legal sciences. I have the option of transferrin my credits and joinin law school in the uk. The issue is that it is very expensive. Will i be able to repay a loan with a part time job? Mostly i should be studyin in london. Is it really worth all the trauma? I mean emotionally,mentally and physically. Out of 10 how much would you rate the course as tough? Considering i am a little gullible is it ok to come there? Will i  get an oppurtunity to  grow or will it  blow me away in the very beginning? Also if the environment is going to be extremely negative due to the competitiveness then please do give me a  special warning.

I really want the exposure the law schools have to offer there but the downside consequences should not be unbearable.

Jennifer “

I wasn’t sure if Jennifer was missing off the letter g each time on purpose. But oh no:

“Ps: pls do not mind the way i have written the letter it is 5 in the mornin over here and my button g is not functionin.
so i can only paste it these many no of times. ya pls reply asap.thnx.”

Honestly - you really couldn’t make this stuff up!

Once I’d calmed down from the burst of hysterics which hit me upon reading about Jennifer’s keyboard woes, I didn’t quite get why she couldn’t paste the ‘g’ every time. I still don’t. Oh well.

What also struck me when I first read her email was that she seemed to be fairly well aware of the issues likely to affect her as a law student trying to cut the mustard in the UK.  In fact, it almost seemed as though she was talking herself out of it by asking me to confirm her fears.

So, distinguished members of the blawgosphere, is there any particular advice you’d give to Jennifer (apart from getting a new keyboard)?  Is it worth her taking the plunge into legal education UK-style?  Or is she crazy for even contemplating it?

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Lyrical Testimonies: Looking for burglars under the bed

burglars under the bed

From the Metro 03/11/10:

A police marksman has been accused of putting song titles in evidence he gave at the inquest of a barrister shot during an armed siege.

The Metropolitan Police firearms officer, known only as Alpha Zulu 8 (AZ8), allegedly mentioned [song titles] during his verbal testimony on the death of Mark Saunders

It was not confirmed what the song titles are said to be. However, a review of the evidence has led to speculation about examples.

Ah – so it’s speculation then…

At one point he used the phrase ‘enough is enough’, – the subtitle of single No More Tears by Barbra Streisand and the name of a track by US band Stick To Your Guns.

He also said ‘point of no return’ – a Duran Duran hit – and used the words ‘line of fire’ recorded by rock band Journey.

He declared in one sentence ‘I am kicking myself’, which is the title of a song by New York rockers As Tall As Lions.

The officer described how ‘in quiet moments I think if there was another way we could have done it’. Quiet Moments is the title of a song by Chris de Burgh.

The Metro, such as it is, goes on to suggest other, even more tenuous possibilities. These are all common turns of phrase and it seems to have escaped common attention that this may have been pure coincidence.

If you cross check any testimony against the list of song titles ever released, I’m sure there would be a lot of matches.  Couldn’t this possibly be the case of an unfortunate collection of phrases and perhaps a colleague with a grudge who’s spent a bit of time Googling song titles?

As it is, I’m not convinced either way.  For the officer’s own sake, though, thank goodness ‘hit me baby one more time’ didn’t feature.

What’s clear is that the full circumstances need to be investigated before anyone starts calling for heads to roll. But even if it was deliberate, who’s to say this wasn’t symptomatic of this officer’s coping strategy for deaths which occur as part of his work? People suffering from post traumatic stress disorder have certainly been known to do more bizarre things.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Apple, Apple, Toil and Trouble…

apple bobbing danger

From the Metro 29/10/10:

 

Apple bobbing is a traditional game to play on Halloween but health chiefs say the ‘dangerous’ activity could end up leaving you blind.

A ‘high velocity impact with an apple’ has the potential to cause serious eye injury while unclean water could lead to infection, officials say.

They recommend wearing goggles, disinfecting water containers and removing apple stalks before dunking your head into a bowl of water to retrieve the fruit.

An eye expert even suggested children remove the floating apples with their hands instead of their mouth, in a new twist on the Halloween game.

They also warned of the dangers of fancy-dress contact lenses, which could cause irritation, and lanterns – because people occasionally hit their head on them. ‘Casualty staff have seen children and adults turning up on Halloween with scratches on the cornea and blunt eye injuries from impacts caused by apple bobbing,’ said consultant ophthalmologist Parwez Hossain.

Anybody who caught the brand spanking new Poirot in the week, will no doubt subscribe to the view that bobbing for apples can prove entirely dangerous to your health (particularly if you’ve been boasting openly shortly beforehand that you saw a murder several years ago)!!!
BTW – I’m only halfway through watching it on ITV Catchup – so please, no spoilers in the comments!
Winking smile

So, besides being drowned in the water, there are a bunch of other risks which bobbers have to face.

Perhaps most seriously, there’s the remote possibility of a child actually getting a bite out of one the apples and obtaining some vitamins from it. Given that the typical British child seems to survive on the fruits of the Colonel’s efforts down at KFC or by woofing down a Mc-something-or-other-with-cheese, a whole chunk of apple might send their digestive systems into meltdown.

Parents of a litigious nature are advised to fit head-cams to their kids’ costumes this Halloween which can record the negligent acts or omissions of other parents who dare to allow apple bobbing to take place. For parents planning on letting their child host a Halloween party in the family home (or otherwise under their control), the advice is to hire a lifeguard for the evening and have a carpet shampooer on standby.

Oh, and make sure you’ve plenty of liability insurance, too!

Trick or Treat Sweets

Just the thing to offer the kids who come knocking at my front door trick or treatin’ tonight.  Oh, I forgot – sweets aren’t accepted any longer.  Kids operate a ‘cash only’ policy now. 

I’d better turn all the lights off and pretend we’re out then.

Found on Chicago Now (via Digg – as usual).

box of boogers

blood dripsdripping nosecandy01-thumb-autox379-247122

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Speeding motorist nabs police’s domain name

websiteFrom Raw Justice.com 08/10/10:

Most of the time, if you get a speeding ticket you just grumble about it and pay the fine. It’s usually not a big deal for most people unless it happens a lot or they get caught going a ridiculous amount over the posted speed limit. You can fight it in court or just pay the ticket, and for most people those are the only options.

However, after receiving a $90 speeding ticket in Bluff City, Tennessee, Brian McCrary discovered a third option. The Bluff City Police Department had forgotten to renew their domain name, BluffCityPD.com, and let it expire. McCrary bought the domain name for $80 and posted his side of the story with information about speed traps in Bluff City and the $250,000 per month they cost the town’s 1,500 residents.

The police department had no idea their domain name had expired and that McCrary owned it until reporters started calling them to ask about it. Bluff City Police Chief David Nelson said they may approach McCrary about buying the domain back from him, but they are not optimistic.

Quite how the police department let their domain expire in the first place is beyond me. Even the most rudimentary domain name vendor offers to update you by email during the final few months of the term so you can renew.  Or, perhaps more obviously, why wasn’t it set to renew automatically?  

The US do have, of course, the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act but McCrary’s actions fall well outside of its scope - unless I’ve missed something.  As it stands, it looks like what happened was due to sheer shrewdness on his part and the fortuitous timing of the domain expiring.

I bet they regret pulling him over now. 

Monday, 25 October 2010

Facebook sues Faceporn

copyright-infringement

From the Register 25/10/10:

Facebook is suing Faceporn for alleged trademark infringement.

The social networking giant claims Faceporn copied its logo, aspects of its blue and white page design and other trademarks.

A statement on faceporn.com says: "Due to unforeseen circumstances, faceporn is down until further notice. We are doing our best to come back better than ever.

The death-knell of all public statements – “we’ll be back bigger, better, vastly improved” etc. etc.

Yeah – they never do.

"We're currently working to launch a completely new version of the site, and it will be the best porn site the world has ever seen."

I like the hard-talking bravado from Faceporn there. But isn’t that a bit reminiscent of Heineken’s strapline, “Heineken doesn’t do X but if we did… it’d be the best X in the world” Cue another law suit I say.  Likelihood of confusion?  Pah!!  When’s doubt over the credibility of an action ever prevented it from being brought?

Documents filed with the Northern District Court of California show Facebook wants Faceporn's URL and all revenue received.

A Facebook spokesman told IDG: "We don't believe Faceporn should be able to trade on our name and dilute and tarnish our brand while doing so. Where there is brand tarnishment, dilution, or confusion as there is with Faceporn and Facebook, we must enforce our rights to protect the integrity of our trademark."

But what about ‘facebook of sex’ – isn’t that piggybacking off of Facebook’s business goodwill as much/ more than Faceporn?  Admittedly Faceporn scored a bit of an own goal by obviously ripping off the Facebook theme,

Surely this isn’t a licensed reseller channel?  Be right back

Just to be clear, I only know about the existence of this FOS from the stats on Law Actually; over the last couple of years, I’ve received the odd visitor must weeks stumbling across my blog having Googled those 3 dreaded words.

I know – it’s a perverted world out there! 

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Please: boycott comic sans

Developed by Vincent Connare and released by Microsoft in the mid nineties, this abomination has been plaguing documents and the web ever since.  Please don’t let it continue, if only for the bunny’s sake.

bunnypunch comic sans

I’ll never forget as an undergrad when one of my lecturers used comic sans as the font for the law school handbook. It rankled at the time. It rankles even more so now.  I understand that they were trying to strike a more informal, approachable tone, but it still looked terrible and wasn’t fooling anybody. 

I had a little less respect for them after that.

No self-respecting lawyer should ever consider using comic sans - for anything.  And yes that even includes those in academia!

_49584030_cs2_464Yep – it’s all that and more.


Check out bancomicsans.com. Even the Beeb have got in on the act.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Bird Trouble

stepladder accident injuryThe Michael spent a very infuriating and exhausting Sunday, crawling, stumbling, ducking and diving around in our loft in pursuit of a tiresome starling that had somehow found its way in.

I think we’ve flushed the little blighter out for the time being and blocked off where he was getting in.  (I cut lengths of unused fake-wood flooring left in the loft to help block off the gully which I think served as the entrance for our feathered friend - but sssshh - don’t tell the landlords!)

I did learn one thing though: trying to rig-up a trap with a bread roll in a recycle bin with a wooden spoon propping the lid open really isn’t worth the trouble.

I have to admit that the scene from  Daphne du Maurier’s ‘The Birds’ was firmly in the back of my mind throughout it all - you know, where Nat is trapped in a darkened room with dozens of birds swooping and pecking him for all they’re worth.  Rather than resorting to wrapping a blanket around my head to prevent my eyes being pecked out as Nat did, I opted for a pair of safety goggles I fortuitously found whilst hunting for an extension lead.  Luckily, we didn’t get into a hand-to-hand combat situation and I fear the starling would have won handsomely had we done so.

Before any smart Alec points out, yes, I’m aware starlings are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which makes it illegal to intentionally kill, injure or take a starling, or to take, damage or destroy an active nest or its contents.

For the avoidance of doubt, I did none of these things!  We think it went of its own accord, though there is the remote possibility it died quietly of fright and is starting to decompose slowly amongst the sea of boxes up there!

I’m still surprised I survived the whole episode without sustaining serious injury; I had visions of myself falling A over T out of the loft hatch and landing spread-eagled at the top of the stairs with a number of broken limbs and a spinal cord which resembled a length of wet spaghetti.  
Most accidents do occur in the home after all! Eye rolling smile

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

A Law Actually Interview with… Charon QC

Although my remote interview series isn’t making a comeback, the inimitable Charon QC was very much on my shortlist last time around.  It might have taken a little while to make it happen, but I think you’ll find couched within his answers, a fascinating insight into one of the blawgosphere’s most prolific, quirky and respected blawggers. 

Anyway, let’s get straight to the questions:

What’s the story behind the (now legendary) blawg, Charon QC?  How did it first come about?

Having been a law teacher for 30 years - and founding BPP Law School with BPP Holdings PLC in the early 1990s - I have always been interested in writing.  Writing law books for students is a pleasure - but not exactly a barrel of laughs.  There aren't that many laughs in the Law of Contract, sale of Goods or Civil and Human Rights Law.

After leaving BPP I was free from constraints.  I started the character Charon QC in 2003 or thereabouts after a couple of years amusing myself and meeting some great people on Roll on Friday.  I was Judge Jeffries on RoF for a while and then re-invented myself as Brigadier Grappa.

Nick Holmes suggested that I used Wordpress to blog in 2006, rather than html on my magazine.  It was good advice. 

I chose the name *Charon* - The Ferryman - because I rather liked the idea of ferrying lawyers to Hades.  I have, in fact, got a wide range of brothers, cousins, sisters in the *Charon family*.  Cardinal Charoni di Tempranillo - a Vatican expert in money laundering and exorcism - makes appearances from time to time. Rex Charon MP, Charon MD - very occasionally, and... my extremely dull brother, professor R.D. Charon, an embittered academic, who has spent his life writing articles of little merit or interest and books no-one actually reads and which don't even get into the remainder bin.

My *About* section on the blog explains much - I am not anonymous, but could, possibly, be Hieronymus.

You’re probably the most prolific blawgger in the ‘sphere (and would no doubt be adjudged to have significant market power) ;-)  but where do you get all of your blawgging energy from?  Put another way, what motivates you as a blawgger?

As you know - because you kindly removed me from your awards listings, I have absolutely no interest in influence, awards etc. - save for those I award myself (or John Bolch's Oscars on Family Lore - but John is an old mate) - so I would not wish to claim market power and certainly do not seek it. 

I write as I find.  Sometimes, in the mornings and afternoons (weekdays only) I am sober.  I write vaguely sensible stuff then in the form of Law reviews and, of course, I enjoy my podcasts.  At night... well.... as the mood takes me.  I enjoy satire and parody.  Sometimes it works.  Sometimes it doesn't.

I am a frustrated artist - hence my use of pics/painting et al.  My headmaster (called a *Warden* - I went to Glenalmond, a detention centre of great repute in Perthshire, Scotland) told me there was no money in art.  Well, he was wrong.  I don't make any money from my F**kArt (at least, not yet!) but tell that to Damien and Tracey.

I only sleep for four hours a day.  I blog because I enjoy it - and never blog if I don't wish to.  Energy is, therefore, not required!

I have one motivation - and that is to ensure that legal education is properly done and that the rule of Law is upheld.  As I cannot influence either of these things other than through the medium of blogging these days - I do so, as best I can, by blogging.  I am fortunate that a fair number actually read my blog and tolerate it. Some groan.

You adopt a very satirical approach to blawgging.  Is that just a reflection of your personality or was this a conscious decision for the direction of your blawg?

I have a warped sense of humour.  I blame my father.  He was a Scot... he is dead now. I was a bit worried, given the fantastic quantities of whisky he drank while alive, that the cremation could be a bit awkward in terms of explosions - but... it was fine.  I am a Scot, and I am still alive.  I enjoy parody and satire.  I try not to be unkind on my blog or on twitter.  I believe that manners are important.  I will not tolerate people slagging me off - so why should I tolerate commenters on twitter or on my blog slagging others off.  Parody has advantages.  I do use Muttley Dastardly LLP to comment on the more unusual aspects of the legal profession.  Ironically - it is probably the most widely read part of the blog!

I also learned a long time ago not to confuse intelligence with education.  I used to tell my students that we do not come down the mountain with tablets of stone.  There is a very good reason, I told them, why we might know a bit more law - because we have been doing it longer.  I did add that if you don't know more law when you leave - there are fascinating careers elsewhere.

How important are comments and feedback to you?  Have they shaped the development of Charon QC?

I always appreciate those who take the time to comment on my blog.  Sadly - with the advent of twitter - comments are less frequent, because people tend to comment or discuss points on twitter.  Unfortunately, a lot of people who read my blog are not on Twitter so do not see the excellent points being made by some commenters on the issues I raise.  I like to raise issues - I do not have the answers - but, sometimes, the commenters on the blog and on twitter do.

Do they influence me?  Not directly - but almost certainly, indirectly.  I am always open to new thinking, ideas and knowledge.  I learn a lot from the expertise of those who do read my blog - and that is one of the real pleasures of blogging.  I have done over 250 serious podcasts with some remarkable lawyers.  One learns a lot through the views and experience of others.

I am certainly not influenced by *Dark Forces* and, as far as I know... I blog without *fear or (and of) favour*

What was your best blawgging experience of all time?

Yet to come!  I am an optimist and rarely look back... I hope that it can only be more fun in the future....

Monday, 11 October 2010

Laptops and toasted skin syndrome: a few thoughts

laptop burn injury

From The Metro 04/10/10:

An unusual skin condition which once afflicted bakers and glass-blowers has made a comeback. Except this time it’s affecting laptop users.

'Toasted skin syndrome’ which is caused by long-term heat exposure, is affecting people who use a laptop on their knees.

It is generally harmless but can cause permanent skin darkening, and in rare cases is can lead to cancer, Swiss researchers warned.

In one case, a 12-year-old boy developed a sponge-patterned skin discolouration on his thigh after playing computer games for a few hours every day for several months.

In another case a US law student developed the condition after spending about six hours a day working with her computer propped on her lap.

The temperature underneath the machine registered 52C (125F)

This story has been widely reported over the past week and I first encountered it in the trusty Metro.  It’s good to see the law student putting in the hours but there are a couple of things which I still don’t quite ‘get’. 

Firstly, why was she spending 6 hours a day with her laptop on her lap?  What’s wrong with a desk?  Kitchen table?  The law library?  I know we all have different ways of working, but being perched on a sofa with a laptop balanced on your lap surrounded by books, papers and other studenty stuff doesn’t strike me as a very efficient way of working.  It can’t be doing her posture any good either.

Secondly, if she’s absolutely got to use it on her lap, how about getting a laptop tray. Although I switch between my desktop PC and laptop frequently, I’ve always felt it necessary to keep the fan intakes clear at the bottom – particularly when using a laptop in bed.  I used to use the lid of a large plastic storage container until I discovered the Belkin range of Cush-Desks.  I’ve been using one for several months now and rate them very highly.

belkin_cushdesk2

Most product manuals specify that laptops can get hot and warn users to avoid prolonged use of laptops against bare skin – precisely because of the risk of burns.  But you can’t always protect people from themselves.  After all, didn’t she sense it was slowly cooking her legs?  Or was it analogous to a frog in boiling water not noticing the slowly increasing temperature? Maybe she should have put a thicker pair of trousers on. 

No matter what, it’s tough to have much sympathy here.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

A cry for help from a foreign law student

law actually mailbag

It’s been a while since I’ve shared any of my ‘law actually’ email with the sphere and I’ve received a couple of quirky bits a recently so thought I’d throw them out there. 

I’ve removed the sender’s name and the university they attend.

“I am a LLB student. I found your article very interesting and had a few queries. Actually i am in my first year and to be honest i find law very difficult. I even had to resit 2 papers-public and land law. I have not got the results yet and i am really worried because i am an international student studying at [a northern] university UK. And it is very costly. If i fail these resits i don't know what will happen. Could you please suggest me something. Do you think studying law in a british university was a bad decision. Please help me. Hope to hear from you soon. Thank you”

So, fellow blawggers, what should be the advice here? 

I’ve certainly got my own ideas but I’ll be interested to get some other views.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Council goes bonkers over conkers

conkersFrom Guide to Nottingham 04/10/10:

Nottingham City Council removed conkers from a horse chesnut [sic] tree on Friday for health and safety reasons.

The decision was taken by the council when a four year old girl was seriously injured after she was hit on the head by a stick, thrown by boys trying to dislodge conkers.

The removal of conkers from trees has been criticised by many as going a step too far with regards to health and safety. The Government also announced that killjoys could be forced to pay compensation if they unfairly scrap public events.

In the past, health and safety officials have also banned pancake races, school trips, and even sweets being thrown to kids during pantos because they are deemed unsafe.

Well, there’s nothing like a Murray mint chucked in your eye to get a pantomime reveller straight down to the local A&E, only to be later cossetted by a personal injury solicitor who turns up salivating at the prospect of new business.

The Government is now trying to get local councils to take a more common sense approach to such issues. If community events are scrapped unfairly, local councils could face being sued by the public. 

Lord Young said: ‘‘It has gone to such extremes. What I have seen everywhere is a complete lack of common sense. People have been living in an alternative universe.

“This sort of nonsense has come from the last government trying to create a nanny state and trying to keep everybody in cotton wool.

No cotton wool, please - potential choking hazard!!  

“Frankly, if I want to do something stupid and break my leg or neck, that’s up to me. I don’t need a council to tell me not to be an idiot. I can be an idiot all by myself.”

Of course, it’s not quite as simple as that.  But I kind of get the point.

The council certainly has a duty of care to protect the public but this smacks of overkill no mater how you slice it. It’s a disproportionate and bizarre response.  A council can’t actively go around trying to rid society of every potential article which a child might stumble across in the course of playing and cause injury to themselves or others.  At least not in these times of government-enforced austerity!

By analogy, what would be the council’s response to a child getting badly stung by a bee? Would they take it into their heads to go around an area stripping it of all the flowers?  Suggest legal action against the queen bee?  Boycott buying honey in supermarkets?

Actually, I’m amazed that the previous government hadn’t passed legislation making it illegal to play conkers outside of a specially controlled environment with shed-loads of public liability insurance and with everyone with hard hats, face shields and Kevlar flak-jackets on.

Whilst it was unfortunate that a child was injured in all of this, stripping conkers from a tree just doesn’t cut it.  And besides, having a rock-hard conker clout you on the knuckles in a no-holds-barred game of conkers is an important learning phase for any child in my opinion.  It certainly was for me.  And that’s once you’ve narrowly avoided skewering your hand with something sharp trying to make a hole through it in the first place to thread your shoelace or string.

Monday, 4 October 2010

More Underground Misery – Collection of ‘best’ jokes according to the Telegraph

tube strikeThank God I haven’t been caught up in the latest strikes – at least not yet!

It seems the telegraph have provided a round-up of these side-splitting gags to, you know, get the dejected and frustrated commuters around London see the funnier side all this.  Ahem.

Why are Chelsea like the RMT? Two strikes have caused absolute misery in the Arsenal area.

Hmmm.

Why did the Smarties cross the road? Their tube was on strike.

Oh very droll!  Annoyed

What's the difference between an RMT member and a stopped clock? For two minutes a day, a stopped clock actually works.

Nah.

Why is an RMT member like an Oyster Card? You can feed them all the money you want but they'll always run out at the most inconvenient moment.

Kind of funny. But not quite.  Let’s try again.

What's the difference between the RMT and lightning? Lightning never strikes twice in the same place.

Ermmph.

Why do Bob Crow's children walk to school? If he drove them it would constitute unpaid overtime.

hehe – good one!  Winking smile  But who’s Bob Crow?  Smile with tongue out

You can't blame London Underground workers for striking – they've been on a go-slow for years but no one noticed.

Do it again.

What does an RMT member do after retiring? About the same as usual ...

aheah… Was it a smirk - it certainly wasn’t a laugh?  Perhaps it was that cucumber sandwich repeating?

Why is Bob Crow like The Jam? They both taught us what it's like to be Down in the Tube Station at Midnight.

Why is Steve Hedley like a crooked baseball pitcher? They both throw strikes and end up in jail.

Oh, you certainly didn’t save the best ‘till last! If these are the best gags doing the rounds at the moment. I don’t think Michael Mcintyre will be exactly bricking it.

Bad show!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Taser Tantrums & Police Brutality


taserFrom ABC Local 30/08/10:

Marin County man has filed suit against the Marin County Sheriff's Department for an incident in which he says law enforcement officers went too far. Peter McFarland was Tased  inside his own home as his wife watched, begging officers to stop.

(BTW - is it tased or tasered? - no, i don’t know either)

On June 29, 2009 McFarland and his wife Pearl were returning home from a charity fundraiser just before midnight. McFarland injured himself as he stumbled and fell down the long steps to his front door.

"Mainly it was to my knee and the front of my leg, my shin," McFarland said.

His wife called paramedics, who helped him into the house and treated him. As the paramedics were leaving, two sheriff's deputies arrived.

"All of a sudden, they just showed up, they came in here ... like a gunfight was going on," McFarland said.

What happened in the following minutes was captured on a camera mounted on the deputy's Taser.

The deputy tells McFarland he is going to take him to the hospital because he may be suicidal.

"We want to take you to the hospital for an evaluation, you said if you had a gun, you'd shoot yourself in the head," the deputy can be heard saying.

McFarland says it was just hyperbole. He was tired and in pain.

The deputy orders him numerous times to get up or else.

"Stand up, put your hands behind your back or you're going to be Tased," the deputy says.

The exchange goes on for about five minutes; his wife keeps pleading with the deputies not to Tase him, saying he has a heart condition.

As he gets up to go to bed, McFarland is Tased. Not once, but three times.

McFarland says he never had any suicidal thoughts. In fact, he considers himself lucky to be alive.

[McFarland’s lawyer] says his client was arrested, jailed and charged with resisting arrest. A judge later dismissed the charge.

Clearly this isn’t a good story for the local police, no matter how you slice it. But what makes this incident all the more odd is that one of the officers knew he had a camera installed on his Taser - meaning the wisdom of his actions could easily come back to haunt him when judged dispassionately in the cold light of day.  So did he forget - or just not care?

Arguing for better training needed is as futile as it is trite; would training have really stopped this debacle from occurring? 

Perhaps the problem is more fundamental?  Maybe those responsible for attracting trainee officers need to revise their psychometric tests to avoid attracting such impetuous officers? This wasn’t just an error of judgement – this was a complete lack of common sense! Zapping the hell out of a wounded homeowner who merely objected to the officer’s self-righteousness isn’t the kind of ‘community policing’ anybody should have to endure.

I’m all for giving police better and modernised equipment to help them do their job but is this just providing trigger-happy cops with another means of venting their frustration after a tough day at work? At least they didn’t spray themselves in the face with their own CS gas – as the British police seem to be specialists at.

But this kind taser abuse needs to be nipped in the bud. Otherwise more cases of police brutality and wrongful arrest coupled with claims for compensation will just on coming!

(And, right on cue, I noticed this collection of clips of police brutality on Digg.  Fancy that!)