Thursday, 23 August 2012

Superhuman moneybag lifter a misprint after all

From the Metro 22/08/12:

Mary Deller heard her back pop when she was asked to lift two bags of 500 £1 coins, weighing a total of 9.5kg (21lb), on to a trolley.

olympic moneybag starAh – that isn’t quite what I read in the paper version of the Metro yesterday morning: 

money bag injury - metro

She was left in constant pain and unable to walk or work after the accident in September 2010 and is now bound by crutches and a wheelchair.

The trained dancer, 26, was awarded an out-of-court settlement from NatWest, which she said failed to give her health and safety training in Cheriton, Kent.

She added: 'Compensation can only cover loss of earnings - it will never cover the loss of my quality of life.'

Yes, yes, we got all that the first time around.  Thinking smile

I thought it didn’t look quite right when I read it in the paper yesterday morning.  I thought either cashier girls must be built like Jet from Gladiators, or something had gone horribly wrong.  In my usual absent minded away, my thoughts must have drifted on to something else (probably the stench coming from the toilet at the end of the carriage). 

By the way, Rich, I signed the e-petition campaigning for the government to reconsider giving the West Coast Mainline franchise to FirstGroup, but please, can’t you sort out the stinky toilets on your Cross Country trains? 

Anyhoo, thank God the Metro put the matter to rest in this morning’s edition:

metro - correction

Stone me.  That’s quite a difference.  So, it seems that Olympic talent spotters need not get themselves straight down to their local branch of Nat West to look for potential weight-lifters, shotput and hammer throwing stars!

All is right with the world again.  Surprised smile

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Graffiti Madness

Graffiti mess

I like to think we live in quite a nice neighbourhood, but maybe I’m kidding myself.

When I was on a casual jaunt recently, I noticed the wall running alongside the quaint little footpath adjacent to the bottom of our rear garden had acquired some rather rude ‘daubings’ (as Alan Partridge would no doubt have termed them).

The graffiti ran along the wall for some distance (probably 30 metres or so in total). The focal points were two rather rude words about 20 metres apart – one rather racist (if hilariously misspelled) in small letters and another in massive letters that was a certain 4 letter word beginning with c). I don’t know – kids today, huh?

There were also some very large squiggles (maybe they had exhausted their knowledge of “naughty” words by then) in an uninspiring mixture of yellow and blue. Heck – those cans of spray paint are expensive!

Be right back

The fact our neighbourhood had been graffitied came pretty darn close to annoying me – I’m a sensitive chap like that, but then again, a dropped cola can or pizza box in the street can send my blood pressure soaring.

Although only a small proportion of the graffiti was on our property, (probably the tail end of one of the squiggles), I thought I’d do my neighbours a good turn and report it. I looked on our local council’s website and was amused to see they had a special graffiti reporting tool where you could pin a pointer to the on-screen map showing where the graffiti was located. Sadly, map pin gizmo wasn’t working in any of the 3 web-browsers I tried, so I resorted to describing the location in words in a handy (if less technically advanced) text box.

Long story short, the council rolled up the next day with their graffiti removal kit (I’m guessing as to exactly what that comprised -- I was at work at the time -- but I hope it was more than a bucket of soapy water and a sponge. Well, bless their cotton socks, they removed the 2 offending words but left everything else!  Yes, the 20 metre long squiggles weren’t worth it, apparently, nor were the kids’ attempts at scrawling other words which they’d bodged in some way and tried to cover up. After all, where councils are concerned, efficiency seems to be a concept avoided wherever possible.

Why make one trip when you can make several?

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Accidents can just happen: tragic but true

accidents just happen

From BBC News 14/08/12:

[A teacher], Glennroy Blair-Ford, 45, was on a Kent school trip in Devon when he broke his neck while taking part in a sporting event commonly known as welly wanging.

A judge said it was a "freak accident" and dismissed his claim against outdoor pursuits centre firm CRS Adventures.

Lawyers for Mr Blair-Ford, formerly of Bromley, south-east London, argued that he had been asked by centre staff to throw the welly adopting an "unsafe" method.

An unsafe method of throwing (ahem – wanging) a welly? I don’t know: how about balanced on a pointed stick above a pit of snakes? Throwing a welly boot seems fairly innocuous doesn’t it? But freak accidents are the worst – and the toughest to come to terms with.

They said his injuries were "a logical and foreseeable consequence" of a 6ft tall, 15 stone teacher throwing the welly backwards through his legs using the requested method.

The 45-year-old is unable to move his body below the neck and requires ventilator support 23 hours a day, as well as being dependent on others for all aspects of day-to-day life.

Mr Justice Globe rejected the claim and ruled there was "no foreseeable real risk" of injury from welly wanging.

As tremendously tragic as this story is, thank goodness common sense prevailed. It’s a symptom of the modern age to look for blame in all instances (and when nobody can be found, to look a bit harder until someone is). But sometimes (as here) accidents can just happen.

And that kind of makes this tragedy all the more… tragic.

Mr Blair-Ford and his insurers now face a large legal costs bill.

The judge ordered an interim payment of £100,000 to CRS Adventures pending a final assessment of the total amount.

Double ouch.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Catalogue of errors left patient to die of dehydration

medical negligence - at its worstEvery now and then I see a news article which leaves me truly shocked, and earlier this week I read about the tragic case of a young patient who was so badly neglected by medical staff that he died of dehydration.

Kane Gordy, who was only 22, was in hospital for a hip operation, after his bones were left weak following a battle with a brain tumour back in 2009. Medical staff at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, London, neglected Kane so badly that he was forced to call 999 as he was so desperate for water.

Police visited the hospital after the call but were turned away by staff – and Kane died soon after.
Stories like this are thankfully rare, but this does not make them acceptable. Doctors and nurses train for years to be able to look after others, and most go into their profession due to their naturally caring nature, so when this basic level of humanity disappears it is truly disappointing.

What makes this incident even more unacceptable is that it was caused by so many errors on the part of so many different people - from nurses not giving consultants the information they needed to provide the right treatment, to other professionals leaving vital facts out of medical notes.

An inquest into this completely avoidable death should hold those responsible to account, and ensure that lessons are learnt. To die in a hospital from a lack of water is appalling and shows that medical staff at the hospital failed to provide the most basic level of care to Kane.

In this case, the neglect unfortunately led to the patient’s death, but there are also many cases of medical negligence which leave permanent and lasting damage on those who survive. In these cases the victim could be entitled to claim compensation for the negligence they suffered.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Law Actually is recruiting...

We’re looking for a Google Reader Readerlegal recruitment law actually

Law Actually is a UK-based global leader* in the blawgosphere.

Who the frick are we kidding?!?!?   Be right back

After being repeatedly driven to distraction by an unmanageable list of Google Reader subscriptions, editor-in-chief (the Michael) has decided to recruit someone to do it for him and report back providing a digest of all the blogs and blawgs and other stuff out there he regularly peruses.

We’re looking for an enthusiastic and hardworking individual, driven to succeed (you know, all the usual bits of airy-fairy recruitment mumbo-jumbo which job descriptions are full of these days). The ability to organise and assimilate vast amounts of information is crucial yadda yadda yadda.

You should be familiar with Google Reader (for hopefully obvious reasons) but hey, training can be provided ‘on the job’ if required.

We’re looking for a candidate to grow with us. (we’ll put you in traction if necessary!!)

The ability to read is a must; the ability to understand what is read a distinct bonus.

Candidates should ideally be educated to degree level having obtained ‘a Desmond’ (2:2 :p ) or higher. That said, we’re not hugely fussed so if you’re not a graduate or made an absolute balls-up of your degree, all is not lost. Experience of law is preferable, but not essential.

A word of warning: free-thinking and creative individuals need not apply – you’ll only get bored and give notice within a week, so let’s not waste each other’s time.

The successful candidate should very likely be a female, 18 to 30,* be dynamic, self-disciplined and able to work as a valued part of a team or individually with curves in all the right places, and an ample bosom.* *comments officially redacted following employment law advice (God knows why).

We’re looking for a candidate with a "Strong Work Ethic" (note the capitals there – we copied it off of another job description so we’re assuming it’s a term of art..). Put another way, we are less keen on those who are sloppy, slapdash, couldn’t-give-a-toss kind of employees (but hey, in these tolerant days of non-discrimination, you might as well apply).

Competent telephone manner (see... only ‘competent’ ... we’re not asking the earth here). As long as you can pick up the phone when it rings, know how to dial numbers and speak (English), you should be fine. Plus, we’re not adverse to a bit of back-chat at Law Actually particularly when the moron on the other end of the line is ‘asking for it’.

The successful candidate must also be able to facilitate with ease with technical concepts and details of managing data for our projects to ensure that the client’s deliverables are on time and on budget. OK – scrap that. We don’t know what any of that means either.

(Oh, we don’t tolerate smokers by the way, so any fag-ash Lils or Lennies out there need not apply!).

Your role will include:

· Reading Google Reader subscriptions (it’s a kind of what-it-say-on-the-tin job description).

· ... and that’s about it.... there might be the odd errand you’ll be sent on.

Salary: Competitive (GRIN) negotiable. You should be keen to go above and beyond - working some months without pay.

This is a fulltime role (although flexibility is called for).

Perks include:

- use of a computer (with a cutting edge operating system Windows Vista – pronounced “veeee-sta” or so Huw Edwards claimed).
- Law Actually branded bumper stickers
- use of uni-sex toilets (we reserve the right to charge on a per-flush basis, though).

Law Actually is an equal opportunities employer (if anyone asks).

Please email your C.V. with a description saying why you think you’d be a good fit for the role to:

Oh – and for the avoidance of doubt, this job DOES NOT EXIST. (Let’s call it a belated April fool).

Thursday, 9 August 2012

No Facebook account? Then you’re a twisted weirdo (or worse!)

Or something like that.

facebook weirdoFrom 06/08/12:

I used to say that “if you’re not on Facebook, it’s possible you don’t actually exist.” I think it’s time to update that, courtesy of Slashdot: Facebook abstainers will be labeled suspicious.

Slashdot flagged a German news story in which an expert noted that mass murderers Anders Breivik and James Holmes both lacked much of a social media presence, leading to the conclusion, in Slashdot’s phrasing, that “not having a Facebook account could be the first sign that you are a mass murderer.”

Oh you’re just pulling my plonker now.

That’s a tad extreme, but I’m seeing the suggestion more and more often that a missing Facebook account raises red flags.

Several years ago I was renowned for my Facebook bashing. Then, in January 2010, I gave in and signed up for a Facebook account – just as an experiment. After a lacklustre few log-ins, I quickly lost interest and winded up deleting my account without even a poke to my name. Does that mean I’m in the same league as a sleazy philander, a rapist, or God frickin’ help me, Anders bloody Breivik?

I do have a twitter account (and I guess this very blog amounts to social media) but I try and maintain a relative degree of distance and anonymity. Call me suspicious, but I’ve kind of always approached the internet in that way.

Anecdotally, I’ve heard both job seekers and employers wonder aloud about what it means if a job candidate doesn’t have a Facebook account. Does it mean they deactivated it because it was full of red flags? Are they hiding something?


Just because you’re not on Facebook, that doesn’t mean to say you’re a twisted/dangerous individual who should be kept well away from children. Those non-Facebook users might well be engaging in other forms of social media and be well-rounded, law abiding individuals who aren’t torturing young children with disposable lighters as a pastime.  Any half sane employer will realise that.

Facebook is the first port of call for employers to snoop on candidates because it’s the most prolific and the easiest to search. But I don’t see potential employers immediately drawing the conclusion that if a candidate’s not on there, he must be a fricked-up loser who you shouldn’t touch with a barge pole.

Give me strength!

I don't know smile

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Religion the saviour for Cornish superfast broadband

Cornwall Superfast BroadbandFrom ISP Review 06/08/12:

The coastal fishing village of Polperro in Cornwall […] which has so far been unable to benefit from the massive £132 Million “Big Build” scheme to roll-out BT’s superfast broadband services around the region, has finally found a solution after the local Methodist Church stepped in to help.

Yay!!  Just cause for a rock-around-the-pulpit me thinks!  Be right back

Polperro’s layout is similar to a number of fishing villages along the coast. It is built into the side of a hill and features very narrow roads with a distinct “lack of pavements“. As a result BT Openreach were unable to locate any suitable locations to build the new street cabinet for their superfast Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) service.

Goodness me! Let’s not get an overblown idea of BT’s abilities; they couldn’t find their own bum’oles in a power cut, never mind suitable locations to build street cabinets.

And while we’re on it, I’ve never liked the FTTC acronym; “Fibre-to-the-cab” is much catchier, more meaningful and is only one syllable more.

And let’s not start knocking Cornish fishing villages for having beautiful quaint old streets. Ah good – we’re not.

Mark Morris, Manager BT Openreach, commented:
“Polperro is a beautiful village, but the narrowness of the roads and the lack of pavements made it impossible to find a roadside location for a new cabinet. Without this equipment, there could be no high-speed broadband in Polperro.

So we started talking to Polperro Methodist Church in the hope that they would allow the equipment to be installed in their church yard. It was really the only location which was viable. Thank heaven, they were tremendously helpful and allowed us to go ahead.”

Praise the Lord for common sense prevailing, I say. Good job. (And I’m including BT in that – credit where it’s due and all that!).

Let’s just hope the laying of fibre doesn’t result in any inadvertent exhumations!  Surprised smile

As the cabinet’s going to be in the church, I wonder if the workmen can benefit from the free-flowing refreshments at the women’s guild meeting while they’re installing it.  Digging’s thirsty work, and besides, everyone knows members of the WI love nothing more than ogling a bit of workman’s booty crack over their morning coffee.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Viewing porn at work

employer's internet usage policyFrom the Verge 02/08/12:

It's never really a good idea to watch porn while at the office — especially if your job involves mildly important tasks like defending the US from missile attacks. Yet that's exactly what some employees at the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency have been doing, according to a report from Bloomberg.

Sounds like the staff have been minding some lap rockets of their own during work hours, then.

Last week, MDA Executive Director John James Jr. issued a memo warning employees against using government computers to access pornographic websites, since such behavior could pose potentially serious security risks.

We’ve all surreptitiously checked the internet for something at work which was mildly ‘against the rules’.  But porn? Really? Why would anybody do that while they’re stuck at their desk surrounded by colleagues? Unless their all doing it, you know, like some kind of organised LAN orgy? You never know. Maybe that explains the stain on your colleague’s chair and the reason why they always have screen wipes on their desk? ;-)

(Remember Brandon from the little-known BBC series, Attachments? He used to skateboard naked around the office ((and other things as I remember)) once everyone ((or almost everyone)) had gone home for the day. Dirty boy!)

"Specifically, there have been instances of employees and contractors accessing websites, or transmitting messages, containing pornographic or sexually explicit images," James wrote. "These actions are not only unprofessional, they reflect time taken away from designated duties, are in clear violation of federal and DoD and regulations, consume network resources and can compromise the security of the network though the introduction of malware or malicious code."

Well said that man.

Employment lawyers have long advised that all employers who provide internet access for their staff have an explicit internet usage policy so everyone knows where they stand. Accessing porn at work is an obvious no-no and surely a clear breach of any internet usage policy at work. But beyond that, I’m still more disturbed by the fact that employees think work hours are a ripe opportunity to get down and dirty with their office computers in the first place.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Anyone for mushy grapes?

mush grapes

From the Telegraph 26/07/12:

A grocer has been ordered to pay £111,000 to a shopper who slipped on “mushy" grapes outside his shop.

Samira Hassan, 57, fractured both wrists in the accident outside The Stall, in Greenford, west London.

She sued the owner, Onkar Singh Gill, claiming that despite wearing sensible shoes she had slipped on grapes that were "trodden in and mushy".

Ooh – mushy grapes.

Damn grapes - how very dare they be mushy!

And it’s always grapes isn’t it? Nobody ever goes down over on a banana any more. What’s up with that?

Poor sprouts, carrots and corn on the cobs never get a look in? If you get one of those wedged between your foot and the pavement and weren’t expecting it, chances are you’re going to be eating dust in seconds.

Mr Gil, 50, said he and his staff had taken all reasonable steps to ensure that the pavement was clear of debris, sweeping the area up to five times a day. 

Gracious! What diligence.

But in September last year a County Court judge ordered him to pay Mrs Hassan - a "regular customer for a good many years" - £111,859 in compensation. Yesterday, the Appeal Court upheld that ruling.

Hmmm. I wonder if she’s regular any more. (In frequenting Gill’s shop I mean – then again, personal injury claims can play havoc on one’s digestive system!).

Rejecting Mr Gill's appeal, Lord Justice Lloyd, sitting with Mr Justice Morgan and Sir Stephen Sedley, said: "The judge did not misdirect himself on the law, nor did he make any factual findings which were not justified by the evidence".

Fair ‘nuff then. Be right back

Asked to comment, Mr Gill said: "I wouldn't waste my breath."

Well said.