Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The true meaning of Halloween

As we all know, Halloween Hallowe’en (let’s be correct here) is an opportunity to gorge on Mr Kipling’s wide variety of spooky-themed treats. The extent of his Halloween selection is simply staggering now.

Given the volume of them I’ve consumed over the past few weeks, I regard myself as something of an expert in Halloween cakes. 

I am a particular fan of:

  • Fiendish Fancies (you can’t quite beat the orangey icing (Paul Hollywood & Mary Berry would be proud of these sumptuous delicacies!!)   fiendish fancies
  • Cinder Toffee Cake Bars (the taste of that cinder toffee is unparalleled).cinder toffee cake bar
  • Frankenstein Fancies (I’ve only had one box, courtesy of my gf and Tescos – Sainsbury’s don’t sell them for some reason. I can’t help feeling that “Mr Kippers” as I affectionately call him, missed a trick here by not flavouring the lime green icing a err, lime flavour.) frankeinstein fancies
  • Shock and Orange Slices (they’re coloured orange, but aren’t flavoured so). They break the other treats up rather nicely. shock and orange slices
  • Sainsbury’s Halloween Orange Flavoured Donuts (I know they’re not from the Mr Kipling range, but I simply had to mention them. I absolutely dread to think how many boxes of these I’ve consumed over the past 5 / 6 weeks.) Sainsbury's Halloween Donuts

Nom, nom, nom… much too nice for children.

Sadly, I didn’t quite get around to making my chocolate covered apples on a stick (you know, that were all the rage back in the mid-nineties). I notice that supermarkets are still selling the rather disappointing toffee apples, but you can’t find a chocolate coated apple for love nor money. I’m hoping to fix that shortly (as soon as my wooden sticks arrive from Amazon!!).

We also took the time to carve a jack-o-lantern this year, who turned out to be a ghoulishly handsome little fellow. Marmite has been eying him suspiciously all evening.

jack-o-lantern 1jack-o-lantern 2

All in all, it’s been a belter of a Halloween.

I’m also pleased to report that in our 6th year of being poised in readiness for trick or treaters, we FINALLY, FINALLY got some descend on us this year.  My girlfriend (initially caught unawares) dispensed some of my Mr Kipling Halloween goodies to early callers, before she dug out that bumper canister of pear drops (which have a best before date of September 2009) we’ve been keeping to palm off on unsuspecting kids for the past few years. Let’s hope we’re able to get rid of some more next year, too.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Pumpkin Carving Injuries (and how to avoid them)

Halloween - pumpkin carvingFrom 26/10/12:

In 2004, a team from [New York] decided to investigate the potential risks of pumpkin carving, comparing the threats posed by conventional kitchen knives with those of other tools specifically intended for pumpkins.

“Even with optimal treatment, injuries from pumpkin carving accidents may leave people with compromised hand function,” they wrote. Common pumpkin-carving injuries come in a number of forms: hand punctures, resulting from instances where a knife is accidentally pushed through the pumpkin and contacts the opposite hand stabilizing it; and lacerations, caused by the cutting hand slipping off the knife handle and sliding across the blade.

Because of these risks, many companies market pumpkin-specific carving tools, claiming that they’re safer than sharp knives.

In order to find such evidence, they compared various carving instruments—a serrated kitchen knife, a plain knife and two brands of pumpkin-specific tools — by placing each one in the grip of a hydraulic press and carefully measuring exactly how much force needed to be applied to pierce into a pumpkin and to lacerate a human hand.

Ooh – I’m getting queasy here. Confused smile

pumpkin carving tools

Since live volunteers for such an experiment might not be all that plentiful, they used six cadaver hands, harvested at the elbow.

Fancy that.

pumpkin carvingYes, it isif you do it like this!! 

In the first stage of the study, when the implements were tested on a pumpkin, each one was pushed into the squash’s flesh at the rate of 3 mm per second. The pumpkin-specific instruments performed as advertised, cutting into the pumpkins more easily than the kitchen knives. Theoretically, if less force is needed to actually carve the pumpkin, the risk of pushing too hard and accidentally cutting yourself should be lower.

Ah – the old “a sharp tool is always safer” theory. There’s a lot to be said for it.

In the second phase, each of the cutting tools was tested on the cadaver hands in two different ways: the researchers measured how much force was needed to lacerate the finger and to puncture the palm. In this case, the kitchen knives cut more easily into the hands, requiring less force and causing “more skin lacerations that would require suturing than either pumpkin knife.” When it comes to hands, the knives were more dangerous.

Sorry – I just fainted at my desk. I used to be fine with blood and things but in the last few years, I go weak at the knees and collapse at the mere mention of it.

The researchers’ conclusions? “Tools designed specifically for pumpkin carving may indeed be safer.

Personally, I just prefer to use chainmail gloves. That way, you can throw caution to the wind and hack it about like Michael Myers might carve a pumpkin when he’s in a rush.*

Or, as I read in a craft activity book as a kid, where there’s any cutting with a knife to be done, locate an adult to do it for you. That way, if anyone’s going to cut themselves, it won’t be you.

Sage advice if you ask me.

*Not to be tried at home.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Legal advice and that personal touch

There’s a lot to be said for the personal touch when it comes to legal advice.

Whilst some types of work can be more suited to high-volume, factory-style delivery of legal services (such as straightforward conveyancing and some uncomplicated personal injury claims) other, more complex matters are still more suited to that one-on-one bespoke service offered by a conventional law firm. And traditional high street firms of solicitors still play a vital role in delivering that.

Even if the Solicitors Regulation Authority pulls its finger out and starts processing an appreciable number of ABS applications, it’s nice to know not everyone is itching to jump on the Tesco law bandwagon at the first opportunity.  The conventional firm of solicitors is worth championing and its role in delivering modern legal services should be celebrated – not ridiculed. 

This video from [enter generic firm of solicitors – ahem] adopts a humorous approach to drive home the message that when it comes to legal services, there’s nothing quite like the personal touch delivered by a conventional law firm. 

[Video Removed Surprised smile]

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Yet More Government Cuts Compromise Health and Safety in the Workplace

Guest Post

There have been yet more government cuts recently, and the latest in line to bare the brunt of the economic crisis in the UK is the Health and Safety Executive. As of April 2013, thousands of businesses will not have to undergo compulsory health and safety inspections, unless they are considered to be high-risk workspaces, such as food preparation areas or construction sites. This effectively gives thousands of businesses the green light to cut corners without consequence; until injuries or fatalities occur, that is.

Ministers claim that the current checks simply aren’t feasible in the current economic climate, costing the Government millions of pounds each year. They added that health and safety checks also place an unnecessary burden on businesses.

The new rules will see around 3,000 regulations no longer enforced by the government, and cutting the bureaucracy will save millions of pounds, which the government says could be better spent elsewhere.

However, this will undoubtedly cause a backlash from trade unions, as this could potentially increase the risk of injury or death for employers. The debate is rife as to whether the current regulations are excessive and burdensome on businesses, or whether they are necessary to protect the welfare of employees.

health and safety accidentHowever, this doesn’t necessarily mean that those businesses with a history of poor health and safety standards will get off free and be allowed to continue to provide poor dangerous working conditions for their employees. These businesses will continue to be inspected.

As soon as next month, new legislation will be introduced, whereby businesses can only be held liable for civil damages if they are proven to have acted negligently. This will help to reduce the risk of employees taking advantage of the legal system and making unnecessary claims against employers.

Excessive regulation, also referred to as ‘red tape’ is often seen as the bane of this country, with health and safety at the forefront of the mockery that comes with the over-regulation. Alexander Ehmann, head of regulatory policy at the Institute of Directors welcomes the legislation and commented:

"This is the beginning, not the end, of the deregulation story".

By comparison, Bob Crow, leader of the RMT said that the new legislation is, “an all-out attack on safety, which will have lethal consequences for workers and the public alike.”

Exactly what impact this legislation will have, remains to be seen.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Desperate Young Lawyer – asking the impossible

From the Metro Friday 19th October 2012*:

From the Metro - Fri 191012 2

Well - it seems that desperation abounds in the legal profession. 
Really?  I’d never have thought it.  Be right back

It seems that the sender might be in need of having a few myths debunked:

  • All Most law firms are insane;
  • All lawyers without exception must sell their soul to the devil (it’s a pre-requisite for a practising certificate);
  • Announcing yourself as desperate probably won’t do you any favours, but hey, recruiters sometimes prize honesty.

    I think I might have overheard the sender of this particular text talking on a mobile phone on a train a few weeks ago.  (If it was that individual, here’s a piece of advice: calling the SRA on a packed train giving out all of your personal details to all and sundry within earshot is a bit of an own goal if you ask me.  The fact you had to call them back after passing through a long tunnel caused the call to drop simply worsened the crime.  The amount of people who seem to think they’re the only one’s in the carriage as they spread their confidential papers over the table at a packed table seat or finish their expert medical report on their laptop in plain view of others is utterly staggering.  You can’t always rely on your fellow commuters being as respectable and gentlemanly as me by averting their gaze immediately.) 

    Ahem.  Eye rolling smile

    Btw - My eagle-eyed girlfriend spotted this one in Friday’s metro; I missed it entirely, of course.

    When she asked if I’d seen it this morning, I said that I hadn’t but thought it might be good for a mention on Law Actually. Not only did she dig the relevant edition out from the recycling pile, but she even tore the page out. What a girl! 

    She isn’t Assistant Editor-in-Chief for nothing, you know!

  • Thursday, 18 October 2012

    Troutlippe and Pout – Law firm

    Troutlippe & Pout - Law Firm

    Finally!  A firm specialising in medical malpractice (and particularly botched cosmetic surgery procedures) who can properly sympathise with their clients.

    Our dedicated team of lawyers are all the victims of overzealous (or, all too often, blatantly negligent) surgeons who have wrought havoc on their lips, noses and in a couple of cases, jahooblies.

    It might seem tough to recruit lawyers who have suffered at the hands of the medically negligent, but given the unwavering vanity of many lawyers in practice today, it’s perhaps not as hard as you might think. (The managing partner turned a blind eye to the recruitment policy – just think of it as a dose of positive discrimination).

    Yep - all of our fee earners have “had work done.” Heck, some of the ladies are “pulled so tight they’ve got to cross their legs to smile”.

    So if you’ve been left with a couple of pick ‘n’ mix bananas for lips or laughing tackle that a mackerel would be proud of, our lawyers are the ones to turn to.

    What have you got to lose?  Actually… don’t answer that.  Be right back

    Monday, 15 October 2012

    Harvey Nicks and Wet Crotches

    Harvey Nicks Wet CrotchFrom the Telegraph 03/10/12:

    An advert for a Harvey Nichols sale has escaped censure despite attracting 105 complaints that it pictured people who had apparently wet themselves with excitement.

    The campaign for the upmarket department store featured well-dressed women and a man each with a wet stain in their groin area accompanied by text stating: "The Harvey Nichols sale. Try to contain your excitement."

    Oooh. Wet crotch!  Thinking smile

    Personally, I think the lady pictured is far more likely to have pis*ed herself at the outrageous prices charged by Harvey Nicks rather than anything else.

    The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received 94 complaints that the ad was offensive for implying that the people had wet themselves with excitement while 29 said the ads would cause distress and serious offence to people with bladder problems.

    Nah – I’m sure they’ve got a good sense of humour. They’d have to.

    Harvey Nichols said it had attempted to capture excitement about the sale in a light-hearted and humorous way by a visual representation of the well-known phrase "I was so excited, I nearly wet myself."

    It suggested that some of the complainants were assuming offence on behalf of others, and provided the ASA with three blog entries from people with bladder problems who found the ads amusing.

    Rejecting the complaints, the ASA acknowledged that the concept of "wetting oneself with excitement" was well known and often used in the media and in speech in a light-hearted manner, but noted that images of someone wetting themselves with excitement were "nonetheless unusual".

    Unusual isn’t the word.  What a terrible advertisement for Harvey Nicks.  I, for one, am going to perpetually associate them and their brand with urine stained clothes from now on.  Expensive urine-stained clothes admittedly, but still urine stained.

    Eeupweh. I can smell it from here. 

    I really don’t know where the ASA get some of their ideas as to what constitutes “material capable of causing offence”.

    Personally, I find the recent Costa ad of those heads bouncing and bopping around in coffee beans very off-putting. When they start rotating (you know, the Exorcist style) I start to feel rather lightheaded.  


    Costa Coffee–Rotating Heads

    Saturday, 13 October 2012

    Jimmy Savile - HIGNFY

    Jimmy so-vile (alleged) paedophile Saville at his imitable worst on HIGNFY. 

    Never have so many warning signs been heeded by so few.

    If only we’d known the half of it at the time
    Disturbingly honest
    How’s about a bit o’ how’s ya father…

    Monday, 8 October 2012

    The Law Society – Ask a Solicitor Ads

    Yes, they’re back.  Just when you thought it was safe. 

    Here’s a classic example from the back page of the Metro (no less!) on 04/10/12.  Heck, I even spotted another one on a billboard at the train station tonight.

    Solicitor Ad - From Metro 041012A touch flippant, too.  More akin to the superb range of ads we’re all familiar with thanks to John’s antics over at Family Lore.

    Nice job!Smile

    Thursday, 4 October 2012

    Publication Review: From Goods to a Good Life

    From Goods to a Good LifeFrom Goods to a Good Life by Prof. Madhavi Sunder examines how, for the greater good, hard-edged commercialism in intellectual property law can (and should) be tempered by a healthy dose of social conscience and culture.

    From the very outset, the author recognises the enormity of her task; challenging the centuries-entrenched focus of commercial endeavour that lies at the heart of international IP law sounds like an impossible task. Still, it a task Sunder takes on with gusto.

    She poses an uncomfortable series of questions in which the value and composition of a “good life” are broken down and micro-analysed. Many readers may find the observations made by the author painful. The shallow materiality of the typical western way of life can be a difficult truth to acknowledge.

    Sunder’s arguments focus on the need for intellectual property to be reconceptualised so that it takes better account of a plurality of stakeholders, social and cultural factors and various other 21st century considerations.

    The author weaves a compelling web of arguments which span culture, commerciality, and philosophy – as well as the complex interplay between them. A colourful array of analogies and anecdotes add weight to her arguments and a richness to the text.

    While it is pitched predominantly at the US market and legal system, the vast majority of points and arguments hold equally true for UK readers.

    The book provides a refreshing, stimulating and thought-provoking read which is, for the most part, well-argued. It is let down only occasionally by a needless verbosity which can detract from the arguments being made and the flow of the text.

    Every lawyer needs the chance to step away from black letter law and reflect on broader societal issues from time to time. From Goods to a Good Life provides exactly that opportunity.

    It would make an excellent gift for any lawyer – past, present or prospective – as well as anyone who shares an interest in intellectual property law and its effect on the way we all live our lives.

    From Goods to a Good Life was published on 23rd August 2012.

    Monday, 1 October 2012

    Whiplash a scam by patients, say doctors


    neck injury compensation claimsFrom the Metro (the hardcopy version – sorry I’ve forgotten the date… the cutting has been lying on my desk for the past week or so and I couldn’t find the same story online): 
    Rolling on the floor laughing

    Nearly nine in ten doctors believe most of their patients exaggerate whiplash symptoms to increase insurance claims.


    D’you think so? I wonder why they might do that.

    Doctors surveyed over the summer said they thought many patients who go to them with neck sprain injuries as a result of a car accident are fraudulent.

    When there’s a sprain, there’s a claim.

    The survey, by car insurer AXA, found that doctors had seen a substantial increase in whiplash patients in the last five years.

    Most felt the government should crack down on the practice and find a more rigorous way of assessing injuries to control insurance claims by drivers.

    How about getting the suspected patient to take part in a test – Jeremy Beadle style – to see how bad their neck injury really is?

    What if, when sat in the chair opposite the doctor’s desk during the consultation, a cardboard cut-out of a topless lady or chap pops up behind the doctor on a rail running around the top of the wall. Once popped up (the cardboard cut-out, that is) and it starts its merry ride across the wall, the extent to which the patient turns his or her neck to continuing ogling said cut-out could be a good indicator of the seriousness of their injury.

    If it rotates owl-like (or à la the girl from the Exorcist), the doctor will doubtless feel more assured that all is not what it seems.

    Alternatively, the doctor could ask the patient if that £50 note by their foot is his/hers and judge the speed and ease by which they cranked their head down (coupled with the time it took them to feign an “ohh-my-neck” groan) was consistent with a genuine case of whiplash or was more suggestive of them being a workshy, benefits-swindling layabout.

    I know, I know. I have some great ideas sometimes. Be right back