Sunday, 30 December 2007

On the 6th day of Christmas

Christmas Picture While I wait in the semi-expectation of being berated for my scathing attack on the ‘innocence of the festive season’ by my series of captioned images in the previous post, I can take heart from the fact that I won’t be the only one. Catherine Tate’s Christmas special is being investigated by Ofcom, the broadcasting standards watchdog, following a barrage of complaints from viewers.

I didn’t see this show first time around, but caught up with it a couple of days ago on the BBC’s excellent new online viewing facility: the iPlayer. Being one that has his ear very much to the technical ground, I heard about this project well in advance of launching. So far, I’m very impressed. The Catherine Tate complaints are, quite honestly, a little flimsily substantiated. While it’s remotely plausible to claim that the scene involving the Irish family exchanging gifts contains a vague element of racism, the complaints regarding the excessive swearing in the opening sketch are just silly. I mean, it was aired at 10.30pm, was accompanied by a warning, and is a show that is notorious for containing clips with a foul-mouthed granny. My advice: if it offends you, then switch channels and quit moaning. Don’t bitch to Ofcom that it’s inappropriate for Christmas Day viewing.

The Michael has had a fairly calm, relaxing Christmas, thankfully with little law involved. I have, inter alia, derived great pleasure by tinkering with wireless network settings this Christmas both at my flat and at home. While momentarily causing network outage (in one case for about half an hour around midnight on Christmas Eve, much to the annoyance of a family member) the ‘essential network maintenance’ as I dubbed it, was a success. It just wasn’t entirely pain-free, that’s all.

Friday, 28 December 2007

Christmas Caption Competition


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

Saturday-Night Santa

captured santa
















If you think Im sexy final



Too Old














Mrs C what the fuck have you put on our credit card final

would you trust this man child





Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Christmas Update

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

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

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

Monday, 24 December 2007


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

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

So while most of us prepare to drink ourselves into oblivion and consume our own body weight in food tomorrow, Father Santa will be hard at it busting his ba**s in that sleigh of his. Although last year I debated whether his sleigh is actually still pulled by Reindeer or whether he’s joined the 21st century and fitted jet engines, I've no intention of adding to that talking-point this year. Instead, as Santa nears the half-way point in his annual deliver-a-thon and tackles the Northern Hemisphere, I intend to skulk off and join in the family festivities. Yep, unsurprisingly, I’m reaching for the wine already.

Friday, 21 December 2007

Forget Sat-Nav – ask a meter warden

Parking Meter The Michael has had a busy time of it lately. Having travelled back from my flying visit home on Monday/Tuesday, I’d barely settled in when I was notified late Tuesday afternoon that I had a job interview to attend later this week. On Wednesday, I skulked into town to reconnoitre the location of the interview and pick a suitable route. Having safely relied on Google Maps before, I put my trust in it again. Big mistake.

Because of the erroneous map, what should have taken me minutes from the centre of town, took me nearly an hour and a half, aided and at times, hindered, by the directions of about 5 different people. I had nearly given up hope and started to head back to base for the day when I had an overdue stroke of good fortune. At the last moment as I staggered on, frozen in the near-arctic conditions, I spied a parking meter warden, solemnly doing his duty and slapping fixed penalty notices on a few parked cars. Without too much hope, I casually asked him if he knew where it was.

Well, with his clear directions, I was within sight of the building in little over a minute. With my mission accomplished, I deviated to the nearest House of Fraser to purchase a new pair of cufflinks – that’s what you get for travelling light, thinking you won’t need anything like that before Christmas. Troublesomely, I was nearly hounded by the pesky Pig and Tigger again (see my earlier encounter) but fortunately arrived back at base in one piece.

So the moral of this story, children, is that when lost and in need of guidance, when technology, passers-by and Google maps fail you, you can always count on a trusty parking meter warden to direct you. At least think twice before you verbally abuse them for ticketing your car next time.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Christmas is coming – believe it or not

Nativity Scene The blawging community seems to be winding down for the impending festivities at the moment. While the more prolific blawgers of us out there reflect and take stock on what has undoubtedly been an arduous first term, crawling away to lick our wounds from a battery of mock exams and assessments, one notable thing has struck me this December - just how ‘unChristmassy’ it seems.

So what is it with Christmas this year? Is it still on? Has anyone heard? The whole thing seems to be passing me by on the outside lane as we career inevitably towards another 25th December and all the associated festivities/suffering that comes with it.

So I’m left wondering if Christmas has indeed been cancelled this year. But to whom do you write to find out? Father Santa? The God Squad? Or just average Joe out there on the street? Answers on a postcard, please.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Finally - Data Protection Law to be Reviewed

Laptop Security Inverted From: Outlaw 14/12/07

The Government has launched a consultation into how personal data is treated in the aftermath of the HM Revenue and Customs' loss of 25 million people's sensitive information.

Information Commissioner Richard Thomas is one of the two men in charge of the consultation, which will focus on the use and sharing of information. The other is Government science and technology advisor Dr Mark Walport.

The consultation will consider changes to the Data Protection Act and will present Government with options for changes to the law.

“The review will be concentrating on information sharing. When do public bodies, in particular, need to make use of personal information held by others to do their job properly?" said Thomas. "Law enforcement, child protection and more personalised services may be examples. But we will need to assess the dangers if information is shared too freely."

And about time too.  This one is long overdue and imposing more stringent guidelines and operating procedures for data controllers has become a necessity.  The fact it's taken a series of high-profile blunders to bring about a review of the law is a crying shame and highlights the need for a more proactive review process of legislation.  Clearly the changes in the law must be mirrored by a change in attitude and working practices.  Simply making it compulsory for data controllers to encrypt data is of little use as to be viewed or edited, data must be unencrypted - thus returning it to a vulnerable state.  Better education and attention to security policies by those who work with data and more stringent rules relating to how and when data may be unencrypted and disseminated are needed to close the existing holes in the net. 

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Work Experience – the plight of all law students

Law student work experienceThe Michael has decided that it’s time to embark on a little extra work experience to further improve his CV. I know, better than most, the true importance of having a solid work experience background for a law student and what a difference it can make. Earlier this year, I had another bash. Having enjoyed the usual response to the array of letters I sent out to law firms seeking work experience-- i.e. the letter is ignored or at best, answered bluntly in the negative-- I struck it lucky this time and have received a favourable response. So with my appointment set up, I tottered along, suited and booted this morning, to meet my potential mentor.

In short, I can happily report that it looks promising. I’ve been assured of some work experience, at least, with a variety of partners in different departments. Luckily, my interviewer sympathised greatly with the affliction that is work experience, and expressed his palpable dislike of it when as a student, he himself suffered the torment first hand. He explained to me that he vowed from that point on, if ever he were in the position to offer work experience himself, he would do his utmost to ensure that such horrors were not repeated for those budding lawyers taken ‘under his wing’.

I’ll hold him to that.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Fred Claus - The Law Actually Review

Fred Claus Final

I freely admit that I’m not a fan of your typical ‘Christmas movie’. At the risk of perpetuating the growing opinion that I’m the reincarnation of Ebeneezer Scrooge, I never really subscribed to the whole ‘magical Christmas movie thing’ even as a kid. Save for Home Alone 1 and 2, of course. When we skulked across to the cinema on a wet and windy December afternoon, I wasn’t sure what I was in for. Given the time of day there were just two film options open to us. We opted for Fred Claus, merely to save waiting around for ‘The Golden Compass’ showtime, a decision which I surprisingly didn’t regret.

Simply getting into the cinema proved more difficult than expected – all the doors were locked. We were left for several minutes with nothing to do but wander aimlessly up and down, stamping our feet and shivering uncontrollably in the near-arctic conditions. After trying all the doors for a final time, and starring awkwardly into the dimly-lit entrance, a female worker behind the counter finally appeared and vigorously gesticulated ‘5 minutes’ to me. Although the cinema is situated right in the city centre, it’s often pretty deserted and this trip proved no exception. Once we were finally granted entrance, we saw no one besides 2 members of staff and some ‘elderly gent’ who came in to complain about something – probably the disgraceful state of the lavatories.

After a somewhat shaky start, the movie soon gets into a swing – well more of a festive jaunt actually. Thankfully, instead of force-feeding the audience the almost-expected annual helping of festive claptrap, the film delivered a more quirky, less self-righteous style of humour.

On the subject of humour, it has to be said that the film itself was not that overtly funny. While not having many true ‘laugh-out-loud’ moments, it was still inherently watchable. Vince Vaughan as Fred was entertaining throughout, as was his on screen brother, Paul Giamatti, who played Santa.

Save for the irritating little elves, particularly the Elf-come-DJ who was satisfyingly locked in a metal cupboard at one point, no one stood out as giving a truly sparkling or lousy performance. The film had an adequate dollop of the requisite corniness, required of any self-respecting Christmas film with the romantic storyline between Fred and Wanda. And talking of Wanda, ably played by Rachel Weisz, I felt the over-done British accent grated a little too much at times in a film that was quintessentially American. The love-conquers-all theme played out between little elf Willy and Santa’s sexy helper, Charlene went down less easily, but hey-ho, this is a Christmas movie after all said and done.

Once I’d got over the somewhat freaky portrayal of Clyde Northcut played by Kevin Spacey, I settled in for the duration with my choux bun with toffee icing to indulge on. My girlfriend opted for a generous-sized Belgian bun, known to her as a t*t-cake. We smuggled our contraband pastry goods into the cinema and luckily, being the only ones in there, we could gorge openly and unashamedly on our sumptuous baker-shop delicacies. Lovely.

So what of the plot? In a nutshell, run-away sibling Fred, brother to Santa is a lovable rogue operating scam after scam in Chicago just to make a buck or two and ‘get along in life’. His antics include setting up a gambling storefront outside the stock exchange as well as cashing-in on the Salvation Army’s collection for Christmas – still, it’s all good stuff. On top of this he finds time to half-heartedly date Wanda – a Londoner who’s moved out to the good ol’ US to work as a … parking meter warden. Go figure. Suffice to say, their relationship is a bit of an 'on-off' thing, as you might imagine.

Fred is struggling with debt and soon calls on the help of little brother Santa for financial assistance. When Santa learns that big bro wants $50,000, he persuades the distanced sibling to come to the North Pole and work for him during the ‘Christmas rush’. Meanwhile, efficiency guru Clyde Northcut has come to inspect Santa’s operations, threatening the shut him down if he doesn’t like what he sees.

Fred, estranged from his parents since an early age, reluctantly visits his little brother’s empire where he is now living with Mom and Pop. Santa tries, bless him, to engineer reunions between Fred and the parents, hoping in vain that they will all settle their differences. Things take a turn for the worse when Santa discovers that Fred’s taken a few shortcuts in filtering the Christmas letters from the nice and naughty children – the precious task he was entrusted with in return for his $50K. After a bitch-slapping in the snow which leaves Santa with a bad back and Fred heading back to Chicago, it’s time for the magical Christmas conscience to kick in. Yeah, you can guess the rest. With Santa laid up and regulations stipulating that only a Claus can deliver presents on Christmas Eve, big bro Fred has a change of heart and saves the day.

In short, then, all comes right in the end, with both Fred and his brother learning those all-important lessons in life. The odious Northcut comes full circle, Willy gets it on with Charlene, despite being less than half her height and weight and the other various loose ends are adequately tied. Overall, this film is well worth watching. It won’t blow you away, nor move you to tears but it might, just might, get you a little more in the holiday mood.

Star Review Bar small 3 lit

The Michael’s rating: 3/5

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Call Centre worker's accent not English enough

dual call centres From: CPD Webinars 03/12/07

A British man of Asian origin has won a racial discrimination case against his employer, Talk Talk Direct, because his accent “wasn’t English enough”.

Chetankumar Meshram, 27, a call centre trainer from Northampton, was selected for a two month secondment to Talk Talk Direct’s Delhi office to train staff but was sent back to England after just three weeks.

Mr Meshram was born in India but moved to Britain in 2005. He said: “I was called into a meeting with my boss, who told me I was to be replaced with a better English speaker.  I know I speak with an accent but my job out there was to give technical advice, not to give expertise on how to communicate. It was an embarrassing and humiliating experience.”
Bedford Employment Tribunal found that he had suffered both direct and indirect discrimination and awarded him compensation for hurt feelings and expenses incurred during his trip to India.

The whole call-centre-rep's-difficult-to-understand accent is almost so cliched it's 'fresh' again.  But I'll say this: the negative press that outsourcing call centres seem to generate for a business more than negates the financial incentive it offers.  As more and more companies are slowly coming round to the realisation that their customers would rather speak to a call-centre rep in the UK -for whatever reason, I might add - perhaps it's time that ALL companies finally twig that dealing with customer's calls via outsourced call centres invariably creates more problems than it solves.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Not so green computing

green computing

From: 05/12/07

"Experts have warned that the IT industry's carbon footprint is skyrocketing and could soon surpass that of the aviation industry.

The survey of 120 senior IT directors in the UK found that 86 per cent are unaware of their IT department's carbon footprint, and 61 per cent of data centres had capacity for only two more years of growth.

In this environment, a flabby business that guzzles budget and energy is likely to be a prime target for impending legislation."

Energy-hungry electronics are not going away anytime soon; in fact, it's only going to get worse as dependency on electronics further increases. I still can't help but feel that we've missed the boat here. As the world has been clearly heading down the tech road for decades now, why is it only now that true panic is setting in? Whilst a change in the law to force IT departments to become more energy efficient would help, surely educating the wider public would yield more substantial savings more quickly.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Tuck me in before you go go

Just tucking in


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

Couldn't you have gone backstage, Leo?  Charming, just charming. 

Another Trip to Looe - the town that defies categorisation

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

Moreover, it has fishing boats aplenty but seems devoid of fisherman, and strange shelters along the beachfront, perpetually inhabited, it seems, by the OAP squad, huddled up and stinking of cabbage as only old folk can, grumbling about the heat in the summer and the cold in winter.

My overriding point here is that Looe has many facets, none of which sit well with each other. It's quite heavily commercialised but in strange, uncomfortable and uneasy ways. The trashy arcade overlooking a river filled with fishing boats is a case in point. It's rumoured that the chandlery is diversifying into new sectors and will soon carry lines of lingerie and sex toys. Okay, I'm just kidding with that one but I think my point is made. Something's seriously wrong in Looe and I'm sure it's not just me who's noticed it. The town is stubbornly hanging on to the more traditional elements of a Cornish coastal village with old meeting new in a disturbing mix. My advice is simple: go the whole hog, one way or another. Commercialise completely, turn the gift shops in the brothels and finally kill off the old conventional theme in Looe or get rid of those trashy 'towny' elements once and for all.

For what it's worth, this trip was a blast. Quite literally, in fact - we were nearly blown off our feet on several occasions, lashed, whipped and generally beaten by torrential rainshowers and gale force winds. At times, it was all we could do to stay on the quayside but still couldn't resist a storm-lashed walk on the beach, too. Probably not the best time for a visit but you know how these spur-of-the-moment things go down.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

International AIDS day

From: Baltimore Sun 1.12.07 - Bush makes AIDS Day visit

"MOUNT AIRY - On a visit yesterday to a Carroll County church whose members have volunteered for overseas AIDS programs, President Bush said he will travel to Africa early next year to view the progress of a multibillion-dollar U.S. effort to control the deadly virus.

Bush, speaking on the eve of World AIDS Day, repeated a call for Congress to double the nation's commitment to foreign prevention and treatment programs to $30 billion over the next five years. Millions of lives could be improved, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, he said, where a $15 billion administration initiative is yielding progress."

If you were wondering, the picture accompanying this post was produced by the French Government. Some time ago they released an advertising campaign highlighting the plight of AIDS and unsafe sex with this hard-hitting, provoking and memorable graphic.

General observation to no-one in particular: This post has undertones of those occasional serious, poignant and often disturbing snippets with which Chris Tarrant peppers his flagship show 'Tarrant on TV'. You know the ones, where after 29 fun-filled minutes of his show consisting of clips of Japanese torture, naked Danes romping for the hell of it and the crazy exploits of the world record holder for the most nasal piercings, he finishes up with something atrociously depressing and sad, compounded by those immortal words of his, 'Night, Night'.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Small print could soon be a thing of the past

From 19/11/07:

"Information requirements are an irritant for business and consumers routinely ignore the small print overload because it is turgid and confusing, according to a Government study. A new report calls for a rethink by policy-makers and businesses.

Consumer[s]... are not necessarily making informed decisions [about purchases] – meaning it is unlikely that regulated information is having a major impact on their behaviour."

The study further found that, "Consumers ignore the detail, especially when making spontaneous decisions, for example, when being offered a store card at point of sale. Low literacy groups said the small print was scary and humiliating. Other groups were blasé about ignoring the contract detail, describing it as unimportant and boring. When prompted for their reaction to wording such as "The Consumer Credit Act 1974" people "glazed over", according to the researchers. A representative response: "What the hell is the Consumer Credit Act 1974 anyway?"

I know how they feel, particularly having studied the monster in my Consumer Law module as an undergrad. Just kidding. The bottom line here is that something MUST be done about the issues relating to small-print - its ineffectual, pedantic and frankly, not fit for purpose. The idea of using layman's terms, flow diagrams, symbols and colours is a good one. Better education of the salespeople in relation to the goods they are selling and how they are affected by the CCA wouldn't be a bad thing either.

A simpler or alternative redrafting of the Act for reproduction in contract documents actually issued to consumers would perhaps be in order too. Of all the Acts out there, sections of the CCA, must be amongst the most commonly read by consumers and its wording should reflect that. Going even further, maybe businesses who sell products pursuant to the CCA should be required to produce an additional help-sheet providing a simplistic breakdown of information relating directly to the type of goods they sell and how it will affect the consumer's purchase. After all, if obligations are going to be imposed on businesses to conform to the CCA, they might as well be effective and worth the time and effort of implementing.

Monday, 26 November 2007

If you go down to the shops today...

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

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

It turns out they were trying to sell us some crappy personalised Christmas card and calendar deal, the quality of which was easily rivalled by that of the typical creations of a reception class in an average primary school. In short, I quickly turned down the deal and left wondering quite what the hell pigs and tiggers had to do with Christmas, as well as what new lows people would sink to in making a buck in time for Christmas. It was only later (and seeing Geeklawyer’s comment on a mannequin’s penis) that I wondered out loud whether a pig and tigger could be validly charged and convicted under s5 of the Public Order Act 1986 in respect disorderly behaviour ‘in sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, distress and alarm thereby’. I mean, after all, who isn’t going to be caused harassment, distress and alarm when ambushed in broad daylight in the in the shopping street by a human sized pig and tigger?

Friday, 23 November 2007

Sonogram + MP3 = Trademark Registration

From: 23/11/07

A sound can be registered as a trade mark if it can be written in musical notation. But a sound like Tarzan's yell can also be registered if a graphical representation is accompanied by an MP3 file, according to Europe's trade mark registry.

I very nearly blogged about the whole Tarzan-yell trademark issue when I first came across the story a few weeks ago. Registration of the sound by way of Sonogram was rejected, I thought, on logical grounds following well-established principles of TM law. This was so in spite of the accompanying guidance: ‘sustain, followed by ululation, followed by sustain, but at a higher frequency, followed by ululation, followed by sustain at the starting frequency…" Lot of help, that is.

In 2005, however, a crucial development occurred in this area of TM law. Since then, the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM) can register sounds represented graphically by way of a sonogram AND an mp3 file. So there you go.

Given that Tarzan’s yell is now capable of being registered and recorded as the sound itself (as distinct from musical notation) it’s perhaps only a matter of time before other jungle creatures follow suit. Maybe Janice Dickinson will seek TM protection for her now infamous primeval phrase ‘OH MAAANNNN!’ from the deep dark depths of the Australian jungle.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Too Little, Too Late?

From: 16/11/07

UK Information Commissioner Richard Thomas has argued for much tighter data protection laws in Britain, insisting that those who lose data should end up in court.

Thomas told the Lords Constitution Committee that those who knowingly or recklessly flout data protection rules should be prosecuted and fined up to £5,000.

"If a doctor or hospital [employee] leaves a laptop containing patient records in his car and it is stolen, it is hard to see that as anything but gross negligence," Thomas told the Lords. "The Commission can currently issue enforcement notices, but these do not impose any element of punishment for wrongdoing." Thomas suggested that one-off cases should not be prosecuted, but that systematic abuse needs greater censure. He also proposed that companies should be inspected without warning for data security, rather than the current system which relies on consent.

Clearly something isn’t working with regard to the UK and its data protection. The current frequency of blunders such as the one seen with HMRC and the missing CDs is almost beyond belief. From banks dumping customers’ records in black trash bags and sticking them out on the street for collection to laptops containing valuable data being stolen nearly every other week, something in the data protection system is very clearly wrong. What’s more scary, perhaps, is that such stories which come to light might only represent the tip of the iceberg. Worst still is that without a substantial change in the law and the powers afforded to the Information Commissioner’s Office, there is little hope on the horizon that such ‘trainwrecks’ will become a thing of the past.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Return of the Pesky ‘Craplets’

I hate the free offerings that software companies and OEMs foist on the unwitting public comprising of bloatware, craplets, sh*tware – call it what you will. Naturally, most at risk are the inexperienced computer users who, despite the publicity campaigns and security advances in software, still somehow mange get their computers extraordinarily infected with the STDs of the computer world. Instead of tottering off down to the Clap-clinic, though, a trip to the local PC World is usually on the cards.

I’m continually amazed by the amount of toolbars and other crapware that derive from various well-known search engine companies etc. that I see stubbornly installed in the browsers of people who should know better. My continual warnings, it seems, fall incessantly on deaf ears.

Let’s take a typical toolbar situation, which I ran into a couple of days ago with one of the PC’s I ‘manage’. An undisclosed computer ‘user’ unsuspectingly succeeded in getting a whole crapware suite downloaded and installed to their PC despite me having cranked up ZoneAlarm OS firewall to the highest level known to man, short of locking down the PC with a guest user-account. As well as the toolbar, there was an instant messaging and a download manager to boot. My hatred of such things is profound and the reasoning behind it, simple: they take up precious screen real-estate, system resources, and slow down boot time considerably.

Well, the said user wanted to access a certain site which required a map to open up in a new window. This necessitated turning the blocker off, or at least temporarily allowing pops-ups for that site. Having been previously able to view the map in this way without difficulty, the user was baffled as to why it could no longer be accessed; ostensibly the new window WAS being blocked, despite the pop up blocker being disabled in respect of that site. To cut a long story short, I eventually discovered that the user had unbeknownst to me installed the aforementioned suite of crapware including a toolbar incorporating its own pop-up blocker that was causing the problem. Seriously. Some people are just a law unto themselves.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Bloggers Beware – use company logos at your peril!

From OUT-LAW News, 12/11/2007

A US blogger who reported on a court ruling has been ordered by car rental firm Avis to remove an image of its logo from his blog posting to avoid charges of trade mark abuse.

Eric Turkewitz is a lawyer who writes a personal injury blog. In a recent post he discussed a ruling on the constitutionality of car rental firm immunity from some kinds of negligence suits. He illustrated the story with pictures of the logos of leading firms Hertz and Avis but was told by Avis's lawyers to take down the picture.

A comment on the blog from Fred Grumman, associate general counsel at Avis, said: "we have the greatest respect for your right to express your opinions on your blog, but that does not include the right to use Avis' trademark as you have done in this particular piece."

"Understandably, trademark law is not within your area of expertise. Therefore, we trust that this was done out of ignorance and not based on an intent to misuse our mark to the benefit of your personal injury practice. We ask that you remove it immediately and refrain from any similar use in the future."

As it happens Turkewitz himself doubted whether he had actually violated their TM and quite frankly, I can’t see that he has. Using the logo to illustrate and accompany a post related to the business sector of that company can hardly be said to be using that trademark ‘in the course of a trade’ – a crucial element for a TM infringement to be made out.

Under English law, it’s difficult to argue that such use of a mark in any way prejudices the owner for the purposes and nature for which trademarks are granted. Turkewitz merely used the mark for ‘illustrative’, that is to say, ‘descriptive’ purposes, which is thus covered by an exemption to infringement as seen in: Bravado Merchandising Services Ltd. v Mainstream Publishing (Edinburgh) Ltd [1996] FSR 205.

With such little credibility attaching to the trademark infringement argument, Avis could try making a copyright infringement stick; such a claim makes far more sense than this 'trademark violation' business. Here, though, the ‘fair use’ defence may apply which is more generous that than its English counterpart, ‘fair dealing’.

As it stands, Turkewitz has left the ‘offending’ graphic in place and adopted something of a ‘wait and see’ policy, I guess. For the record, I’d have done exactly the same and hope these ridiculous allegations of infringement soon die the death they deserve.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Murder without a body

There are occasions when the gaps in my legal knowledge are brought embarrassingly to the fore. Tonight, for instance, quite out of the blue, my girlfriend posed the very good question, “if no body is found, can a person be tried for murder?” I had to readily admit that I wasn’t quite sure – despite giving an erudite and scholarly ‘err’ while I paused for thought. Despite the fact I could reel-off without hesitation the common law definition of murder and give a knowledgeable and plenary précis of the law surrounding each constituent element of the crime, I didn’t know the precise answer. Needing some follow-up to my learned pause, I mumbled something about it being an ‘evidential issue’.

Thinking it through, I wasn’t aware of a case which out rightly proved or disproved whether a body was required for a murder charge to be made out. Naturally, I turned to Google to help.

I quickly discovered some background info and the age-old Camden Wonder case in the 1660s which established the ‘no body, no murder’ principle which was in existence for over 300 years.

The case of R v Onufrejczyk [1955] 1 All ER 247 categorically confirmed, however, that a charge of murder can be proved by circumstantial evidence, despite the fact no body is ever found.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Get me to the lecture on time

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

In defence of one of his late appearances, he openly and freely admitted that he was strolling along casually, enjoying the 'beautiful day' and suddenly realised he was going to be 20 minutes late and had to 'get a move on'. Another time he put it down to having to drive 'across country' and the fact he strolled in 25 minutes late was due to the fact it took him 'longer than he thought it would'. So there you go. It's gotton so bad, that some students are pre-empting his lateness by arriving around 15 minutes after it was due to begin. I tried that once. And yes, you guessed it – he was early!

Saturday, 10 November 2007

The 'Lottery' of Limitation

From The Times 7/11/07:

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

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

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

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

What’s interesting here is what the court will decide to do about the length of the period – what should it be extended to exactly? Should it mirror the Personal Injury principle and be extendable at the court’s discretion to 3 years from the cause of action or from the date of knowledge of the cause of action with the long stop of 15 years. And what torts exactly will be covered by this extension of the limitation rules? Will it extend to all the intentional torts and if so to the same extent? Let’s hope that these questions are at least summarily addressed by their lordships in their judgement.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Can I interest anyone in a packed lunch?

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

Naturally I regretted it later. Talk about a wasted opportunity.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Between the red thing and the other thing

The planned trip to the fireworks and bonfire last night went, for the most part, smoothly enough. Despite me having an appallingly bad sense of direction we made it in good time, thanks in no small part to my girlfriend’s unwavering ‘inner-compass’. Right on cue as we were leaving, there was the traditional drizzle which was more precipitation than it was ‘firework detritus’.

The bonfire went off with a bang, the fireworks even more so and were pretty good on the whole – there was no admission fee, after all. Naturally, once they had finished, everyone made straight for the exit, resulting in a stadium-style crushing match. It did mean that I heard the best one-liner of the night, though. In the pandemonium of the rush for the exit, as the hoards of firework-watchers trampled through the already fit-to-bursting fairground, one woman with a mobile phone clamped to her ear, tried to articulate her position to the poor caller on the other end: “I’m between the red thing and the other thing”. Very helpful, I’m sure.

Considering it was,

a) hellishly busy to the point of pedestrian gridlock and

b) completely dark and

c) a freaking fairground,

I just hope the other caller got a precise GPS fix on her mobile phone signal. If not, I’m guessing they’re still wandering about now.

Monday, 5 November 2007

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

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

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

Then, just when you feel your heart can be warmed no further from this joyous national celebration, the comforting harmony of a fleet of fire engines and ambulances can be heard, racing to pick up pieces and the charred remains of those who have taken celebrations a bit too far.

Can't wait. And if I feel the occasion demands it, I'll push the boat out big-time and go buy a hot-dog.

God I love Guy Fawkes. Sigh.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Why is probate so boring?

Maybe I’m missing something here but probate just bores me to tears. It’s true to say that I’ve never been particularly jazzed about the prospect of private client work and avoided those option modules at undergrad like the plague. Now on the Legal Practice Course, it’s impossible to escape the pain and suffering that is probate and instead must face it head on.

'Wills & Probate':- a drier subject I don’t think you’ll ever meet. Maybe I’m just not benevolent enough to be suited to advise the ’poor dears’ who come along to ask pertinent or at times, not-so-pertinent questions re. probate, inheritance tax or God-knows-what. Such is my hatred of this subject I’ve rather hamstrung myself in not particularly keeping abreast of matters as we’ve gone along. Thus, my reading and research for probate could be described as lacking, my knowledge limited and my competence in dealing with such issues, minimal.

Well, now I’m in the somewhat invidious position of acting as solicitor for a formative assessment and have the joyous experience of working my way around the complexities of a tricky probate matter. I’m planning on prefacing my interview with the client with the phrase, ‘in the words of the two Ronnies and the police disciplinary board, there’s good news and there’s bad. The bad news is that I haven’t a clue what I’m talking about in respect of this issue; the good – I’m not you charging for it.’

Friday, 2 November 2007

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

I was introduced to this atrocity of an idea today and unsurprisingly they seem to have gone down with consumers like a lead balloon. After all, who would buy this stuff? But seriously, who in their right mind would think up a combination of popcorn and cheese. I would much sooner try a deep-fat-fried-battered-deluxe (Scottish Style) popcorn than this ‘phony-cheddar-crap’. Even a marshmallow-filled tomato coated popcorn has got to be better – okay, maybe that draws with the cheesy popcorn in the ‘nastiness stakes’. But I think my point is made.

That said, I am someone who finds the mere notion of savoury flavoured popcorn mildly repugnant, so it’s perhaps not surprising that the prospect of cheesy popcorn makes me somewhat queasy.

Don’t get me wrong, though: I’m not advocating the demise of every cheesy snack. While in Sweden, for instance, I could often be found gobbling on a pack of cheese doodles. And no, sadly, Titti Schultz wasn’t proffering a crate of them to me. Would’ve been nice, though.

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

All spooked-out

With the 31st October comes the annual ‘bracing oneself for pesky trick-or-treaters’.

Last year, as it turned out, we were worrying unnecessarily; not a single person knocked, rung the bell or 'put a window in'. Nor were we firebombed, egged or desecrated by graffiti . This year though I’ve taken the additional safety measures of electrifying the intercom button, strategically placing man-traps around the porch and lower windows as well as rigging the trusty ‘bucket of cold water’ trick over the first floor window.

So while my girlfriend and I sit around armed and ready, poised to exact revenge on any trick-or-treaters, we can console ourselves with the helpful poster published by the Devon and Cornwall police, to which I made a small modification. The idea being, of course, to conspicuously display this poster in your property in the hope it deters the spooked-up little beggars. Is it just me, or is this the ultimate ‘kick me’ sticker? Nothing quite says, “firebomb me – go on – light that firework and poke it through” quite as much as a ‘Sorry, no trick, no treat, no thanks’ sign.

Thanks for the help, PC Plod.

Monday, 29 October 2007

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

From: the Daily Mail 27/10/07

A Jobcentre has provoked outrage after it was found to be advertising for women to strip for web cams on Internet sex sites for £8 an hour.

According to the advertisement, the role involves "explicit dialogue" and "performing for clients' or customers' fantasies".

Astonishingly, the Department for Work and Pensions insisted that it is legally obliged to carry the advertisements.

Hmm, nice work – if you can get it. Better than the LPC at any rate.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Wake up to your next fire calm and refreshed

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

Great stuff.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Play it again, Mr Kwik-fit man

From Out Law News 09/10/2007

The Kwik-Fit garage chain is being taken to court accused of violating musical copyright. Royalties agency the Performing Rights Society (PRS) is suing the company because of the volume at which mechanics play the radio while working.

The PRS says that because mechanics play their music loudly enough to be heard by colleagues and customers, it constitutes a 'performance' of the music which triggers royalty payments to artists through it.

Oh boy. Aren’t the record companies greedy enough already!?! And in the majority of cases, does listening to trashy music being played on a greasy, grubby radio with tinny-sounding speakers bring anyone pleasure whilst their tyres are being changed? Shouldn’t the customers be compensated for such an affliction rather than chasing the mechanic’s bosses for royalty payments? Just a thought.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

The Michael on 'damage-limitation'

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

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

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

The rain came down and the floods came up

With the flooding of July 2007 being such a major talking point at the moment, not least in my place of work amongst the old busy-body-fogies, it was only going to be a matter of time before a flood-related posting went up.

The other day, one of my colleagues – the archetypal doom ‘n’ gloom merchant – was bandying the phrase ‘Act of God’ about as if it was going out of fashion. This colleague, it should be said, was taking great delight in the fact one of her, much hated co-workers had, or at least was about to, lose her caravan to the floods. Think that says more about her than anything else, and yes, it is a shame. Tragically, she was prophesising about how the flood victims would cope, if and to what extent there would be financial aid, and who was to blame. Then, I spotted an article in the Times law section this week about this very issue.

To her credit, she was largely right in that, given that the majority of flood defences are the responsibility of various statutory bodies, few flood victims have a hope in securing compensation against them. So, once again, the law calculatedly leaves people ‘without a remedy’ (the phrase ‘high and dry’ just didn’t seem appropriate there – and let’s face it, ‘down and wet’ doesn’t really have the same ring to it.

Insurance is the one saviour here, although, I suspect, to by no means everyone affected. If the law AND insurance dessert you, I’m not sure who else there to turn to. Maybe God, of course. It was His act, after all.

And to get back to an earlier question: who is to blame? Tough one, quite honestly. So to coin a phrase so ably yet distastefully used by B*witched for a song a few years ago…. “Blame it on the weatherman”.

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Wall to wall sunshine next week. Yes, seriously.

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

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Graduation Bear

The Michael has taken a short respite from blogging recently and I make no apologies for my absence – you know I wouldn’t mean it anyway. It seems most blawgers are in somewhat of a summer lull at the moment, so my infrequent postings of late will hopefully have passed unnoticed. Not least, of course, because next to nobody visits law actually. Just kidding.

Anyway, in recognition of completing my degree (and getting a first) my Mother kindly sent a ‘graduation bear’ all the way from the states. This bear, however, is like no other. Somewhat spookily, she recorded a message of congratulations which is activated by pressing his left paw. The first time I played the recording I found myself fearfully trembling before slowly inching backwards towards the door. Still, now I realise that was perhaps a tad OTT. I’ve grown to accept this bear and his eerie message in my Mother’s voice. Just not entirely comfortably, that’s all.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Speeder’s right to silence not infringed

I blogged about the case of O’Halloran and Francis v United Kingdom just over a week ago.

As you will no doubt recall, faithful reader, the Michael opined that their arguments would be given fairly short shrift. And so it was. The ECHR judges upheld the convictions for speeding offences with a 17-2 majority.

You might have thought the judges, impressed with the creativity of the applicant’s arguments, would have let them down gently. Oh no. The mincing of words and the softening of blows were not on the cards. Cases cited in favour of the applicant’s were distinguished from the instant case in almost rapid-fire succession.

The one concession to the appellants’ case, however, was a loose acknowledgement that the laws of member states should indeed operate without being self-incriminatory, nor should they infringe the basic right to silence. Err, yeah, thanks for that.

"On the one hand, it was self-evident that it was incompatible with the immunities to base a conviction solely or mainly on the accused's silence or on a refusal to answer questions or to give evidence himself. "On the other hand, the immunities could and should not prevent the accused's silence from being taken into account in situations which clearly called for an explanation."

With that out of the way, the judges, moved in for the kill. They categorically stated that Articles 2 and 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights had NOT been infringed by s172 Road Traffic Act 1988.

"Having regard to all the circumstances of the case, including the special nature of the regulatory regime at issue and the limited nature of the information sought by a notice under section 172 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, the court considers that the essence of the applicants' right to remain silent and their privilege against self-incrimination has not been destroyed.”

The applicant’s case was destined to fail from the beginning. This was always going to come down to a policy decision by the ECHR and the appeal would have to have been dismissed. To have allowed it would have brought the entire system of policing speeding motorists in the UK crashing down. Further, while you may have a hard time persuading a convicted speeder that the system is reasonable and fit-for-purpose, try asking them to suggest an alternative means of policing the UK’s excessive speeders. And wait for the silence. They have got a right to it, after all.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Gotta Kink?

Today the Michael was accused of ‘having a kink’. This rather quirky and old-fashioned phrase was used by a DIVING instructor who curiously is also a DRIVING instructor and who I still swear I’ve seen on TV at some point in the past – he fervently denies it of course. Anyway, the whole ‘kink’ business came up when the aforementioned instructor retorted with it when I casually dropped into the conversation that prior to my aspirations of becoming a lawyer, I had intended to enter the dental profession. Actually, he didn’t so much accuse as rather ask whether I did or did not have a ‘kink’ of enjoying inflicting pain and trauma on people and charging them for the privilege.

Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth; I've no interest in inflicting pain - I’m only in it for the money, baby. Caa-ching!! Just kidding.

It does beg the question, though:

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

Sunday, 1 July 2007

All smoked out....

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

It can't be easy, though, for all those poor old nicotine-addicted, phlegm-hawking smokers, all gagging for a fag in places where before, they wouldn't have thought twice about lighting up. I do sympathise deeply, of course.

Oh well, they'll cope.

Friday, 29 June 2007

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

From OUT-LAW News, 29/06/2007:

“A US court has said that the existence of child pornography images in the cache of a man's computer did not mean that that man had committed a crime under state law.

A forensic computer analyst for the US Secret Service had testified in court that Edward Ray Barton's laptop computer had been used to view 106 images of child pornography on the internet.

Barton was convicted on 106 counts of the sexual exploitation of children and jailed. Under appeal, though, three judges in the state of Georgia ruled that Barton did not break the law, which says that a person must have knowing possession of the images.

Judge Miller said that that in order to convict, the state had to show that a defendant took some action to save or download images, or that the defendant knew that the computer automatically saved files.”

This is very interesting, not least because I was discussing the legal aspects of pornography at work earlier with a colleague – don’t ask. I considered myself well positioned to participate in this discussion because I had a whole week of work dedicated to pornography on my computer law module back in December. Anyway, I have to say that this decision seems to be well grounded in logic which, for an American court, could be considered a pretty rare thing nowadays. If the computer user had no idea of the cache on his computer and was just viewing, not purposefully saving the images, clearly he falls outside of the ambit of ‘having knowing possession of the images’. It doesn’t, of course, detract from the seriousness of child pornography and associated issues, nor does it make the computer user any less sick. You could argue, though, that by simply viewing the images, the user was fuelling the demand of child porn, thereby exacerbating the problem. In that sense, is the computer user any less guilty of sexual exploitation of children just because he didn’t save the images to disk?

Just to clarify, the position is different in England and Wales. S160 of the Criminal Justice Act of 1988 makes it an offence to merely possess indecent photographs of children.  Further, by virtue of the Protection of Children Act 1978 as amended by the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 it is an offence to view images of child pornography on the internet regardless of whether they are consciously saved or not. The cases of R v Bowden 1999 and R v Smith and R v Jayson [2002] EWCA Crim 683, clearly confirmed that viewing child pornography on the internet constituted a criminal offence because voluntarily downloading an indecent image from the internet to a computer constituted an act of making a photograph or pseudo-photograph for the purposes of s1(1)(a) Protection of Children Act 1978.  In other words, by voluntarily downloading such an image, the user had caused the image to exist on the computer and was so caught by the Act.  Conversely, viewing an email attachment which contained child pornography does not constitute such an offence, providing the user did not know or believe it likely that the attachment would contain an indecent image. Perhaps this is one of the few instances of where England & Wales lead by example.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

The Michael has déjà vu

Earlier this year, I blogged about the possibility of super-hacker Gary McKinnon being extradited to the US for trial. As I was causally thumbing (well scrolling actually – this magazine was an e-zine) through the magazine I was hit by a déjà vu moment as I spied an article all about McKinnon’s plight. The magazine was from August 2006 but still made good reading. I haven’t checked what the latest status is on this story recently and will have to get round to that when time and energy allow me.

Finally, the postal strike looks inevitable now, meaning chaos for millions and more pertinently, extended agony for thousands of students who are eagerly awaiting their exam results. Following Sod’s law of the jam-side-down theory, the strike coincides exactly with the scheduled release of the exam results. Naturally.