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!