30 September, 2008

Live time debate fact checker

The Washington Post is doing a live debate 'fact checker'.

Thank God we don't have those in the 'real world' of debating, otherwise I'd be screwed!

29 September, 2008

Court life

Something I observed today.....

28 September, 2008


Bleugh, just spent the last week watching 1 public debating, debating in another, doing a sponsored legal walk, cleaning the house (which was so bad it was toxic), starting my OLPAS form, finishing my OLPAS form and applying to various other chambers.

Hence the lack of blog posts.

Having substituted dinner (evening meal, not lunch - see what being up North for too long does to my wariness of the casual use of possibly misleading vocab?) for alcohol on 4 days of the seven my figure is loving my but I'm pretty sure my liver is in a sulk. Working on the principle that if I'm happy, my body is happy. My body includes my liver. Wine makes me happy. Somehow, I just dont think it's going to wash...

At the hearing the other day and was in the lawyers room chatting with the barrister I was supporting and another barrister who was in there. We were talking about pupillages and how they used to be very unspecialised and how that had changed - aparently becase of the demand from solicitors for 'experts' in a given area of law. From my point of view, which they agreed with, it seems utterly silly to ask a person who has done between 2-4 years of law which are of law they wish to specialise in until the end of time in 150 words on a pupilage application form. 95% of people won't have a clue - oh, we all knpw there are some areas we really enjoy and others which we hate, but for the in-between bits 'who knows/cares' probably sums it up. For the rare 5% who know whaich area they want to do because they are passionately in love with it, 150 words is hardly enough.

23 September, 2008

Obama in the West Wing

I very much like this conversation by Aaron Sorkin where Obama goes and chats to Jed Bartlet

22 September, 2008

Who goes? You Decide!

As this article points out, words come in and out of fashion and use.

When a word has not been used for a while, it is culled from paper versions of dictionaries. (The internet is changing cyberspace preservation)

The Times has a list of words 'up for eviction', cast your vote here to save the ones you like the best.

North Korea Kremlinology: Predictions of the Future

This article is quite interesting. It discusses the potential futures of North Korea when Kim Jung Il dies. On the grounds that assassination props are run fairly frequently - and often will be set in North Korea, it's probably worth a read.

I find what he says about the army v the party interesting - I wonder if anyone has been able to find out whether the leaders of both are as brainwashed into support Kim Jung Il as the rest of the population?

17 September, 2008

Stating the obvious

Dale Winton complains that no one ever asked if he was gay.

Yes, right, well no one ever asked me if I was female*. Some facts are so obvious that they don't bear questioning....

*comments along the lines of 'yes, but you're not a real girl' aside

16 September, 2008

Duty of Care and the Armed Services

I always find this a difficult topic.

On the one hand, it is clearly right that an employer should owe a duty of care to the employee.

On the the other, it is equally clear that applying this to the heat of battle is stupid.

However, if the MoD give out faulty equipment (say, bullet proof vests) and if that vest fails and leads to the death of a soldier AND the MoD knew the vests were faulty, should the soldier be allowed to sue?

Under the SQ, they cannot. But to mitigate this, issues surrounding the armed forces are given special parliamentary time for discussion in a manner that even other arms of the state (the police, for instance) are not.

James Rowley, of Byrom Street Chambers, has written an interesting article on this subject. If you follow this link, and then scroll to the bottom of the page.

14 September, 2008

My good luck is mine. My bad luck, yours.

This is a very short, but elegant, article on how we apportion 'luck' in society - especially when it comes to holiday companies and bad harvests.

12 September, 2008

Sarah Palin's critics

I enjoyed this article (by a non-Palin supporter) on how the critics of Sarah Palin currently say more about themselves than they do about her...
"The virulence of the language used by the anti-Palin crusaders reflects the contempt with which the American cosmopolitan elite regards common people. Such explicit denunciations of ordinary people’s morality and lifestyles by self-confessed progressive or liberal commentators are rare today, at a time when American culture professes to be non-judgmental and tolerant – certainly such vicious stereotyping would be condemned if it was directed at minorities or any other section of society apart from ‘rednecks’. That is why, normally, such top-down contempt is expressed through euphemisms and nods and winks.

In the US, terms such as ‘Nascar Dads’, ‘Valley Girls’, ‘Joe six-pack’ or ‘redneck’ have become codewords for the white working classes or the ‘underclass’. In Britain, commentators use different phrases for undesirable sections of society: ‘chavs’, ‘white van man’, ‘Worcester Woman’, ‘tabloid readers’. These are the kind of people who do not write for The Huffington Post and whose lifestyles are looked upon as alien by the very high-minded cultural elites. The very fact that ‘these people’ breed, are unashamedly carnivorous, are not on a diet, sometimes drink beer, sometimes
smoke and sometimes partake in even cruder pleasures of life means they cannot
be treated as the moral equals of their cosmopolitan superiors. "
I do recommend reading the whole thing.

Children, diet and exercise

We were chatting in the office today about the contents of children's lunch boxes (have I mentioned that it's an all female office?). It was sparked by a news article which had been read which stated that a father said his five year old daughter was obese because of 'comfort eating'. (this was sparked by me asking if other people thought it was possible for a child to weigh 20 stone...)

How does a 5 year old possibly comfort eat?!

At that age, the child has no income, is too short to reach into high cupboards and should have been taught to ask, if they wanted food, anyway. A 5 year old eats what is in front of them. Of course they will refuse to eat some items, and then ask for pudding anyway. At that point, the parent either insists that they eat the item, keeps it for later or throws it away and then says yes or no for pudding depending on the behaviour of the child. I just can't see how comfort eating comes into this equation.

When I comfort eat, then sure, I go to the freezer/Sainsburys and eat a whole tub of Ben and Jerry's, or Kettle Chips, or a bar of chocolate. I ahve access to the food and even if I didn't, I can buy it. At work, I never eat like that because someone else is in control of my time and therefore in charge of when I can eat. For children, it is surely similar? When a child is slightly older, they may have their own money or have developed a measure of deviousness and are therefore able to have a measure of control over their eating. With young children, this shouldn't be an issue.

Continuing the theme of childhood obesity, we were also comparing the contents of children's packed lunches today compared to what we take to school. The consensus was that today's lunches are healthier than ours were (more fruit and salad, less chocolate and crisps). If this works out over an average, then I wonder to what extent childhood obesity is fuelled far less by crap food than by a complete lack of exercise.

On this, I do blame the parents far less. Given the condemnation which was dumped on the McCains for Shock! Horror! leaving their children alone a short distance away for a short period of time rather than being sugically attached to them constantly as well as the attitude from officials where EVERY lone adult is ALWAYS a paedophile I can scarcely blame parents for being scared of the condemnation they would suffer if busy-body noticed a child playing alone in a garden... Much safer to keep the child indoors and give them a playstation.

Equally, my grandparents talk about going across London by themselves to go to school. I remember walking to school by myself (about 1 mile) from the age of 8 or 9 (year five, at least) where now children are driven. Again, the driving is partly a manifestation of the parents being too busy to walk their children to school, some are being too lazy but all are too scared to let their children walk the route alone.

I don't particularly want children at any point in my life, but I hope that if I did have them, I would be firm enough in my own beliefs to allow them the same freedoms I enjoyed rather than projecting my own fears onto them. Given that obesity is at least in part caused by a lack of exercise, given that, in the UK, obesity is far more deadly than terrorism (possible abuse of statistics), I would propose a fairly massive transfer of funds to try and win 'hearts and minds' of parents to convince them that the world is a safe place for their children to be in.

11 September, 2008

Terrorism and the Rule of Law

This article mirrors my views on 'those who exchange a little liberty for a measure of security', especially in the context of asking stupid questions like 'is the standard of proof too high in terrorism trials'

To quote part of the article:
"Well, I “just don't get it”. I just don't get it that it was OK then for ministers, police officers and the media publicly to label as guilty men who had not been formally charged with anything (there were 24 people arrested at the time, by the way.) And I don't “get it” that it was OK this week for the police and the Crown Prosecution Service to indicate immediately after the verdicts - and in terms that might prejudice the retrial they are now seeking - that they considered the defendants guilty of plotting to blow up aircraft, regardless of the verdicts of the jury.

I don't get it that it was OK for Panorama on Tuesday night to continue to refer to “the airlines plot”, despite the jury's failure to reach a verdict on whether aircraft were, in fact, involved.

The jury rightly found three men guilty of conspiracy to murder, which carries a life sentence, but that isn't enough for the authorities - the men must be convicted of a plot actually to blow aircraft out of the sky, because that is what police and politicians told everyone was being planned, and every air passenger's life was greatly disrupted as a result. This is about pride and pique, not justice. Mr Reid told Panorama: “We would have sustained the worst terrorist attack in the UK's history.” He still doesn't know that. "

"Those who would give up a little liberty to gain a little security, deserve neither and will lose both" if my memory of the full quote stands correctly.

10 September, 2008



I'm asking people for sponsorship for a legal walk in Manchester which raises funds for legal advice charities, so I thought, who better to ask than you, my wonderful blog-readers!

If you would like to be a good and wonderful person, please go to: http://www.justgiving.com/fieldfisherwaterhousemanchester to sign up and for more information about the charities which we are supporting.

Thank you lots and lots in advance!

Miss Middle

09 September, 2008

Blog Recommendation

I do enjoy Devil's Kitchen for amusing rants - generally on the abuse of power by various idiot officials...

Pop over, if you have time.

08 September, 2008

In praise of the weak

I always enjoy Caitlan Moran's articles, and this one on why weak and weedy UK/European politicians are a Good Thing for the world is no exception....

05 September, 2008

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

Well, I have thoroughly enjoyed my first week at Law Firm - though I'm still constantly asking what I know are stupid and inane questions, but everyone is too polite to tell me!

The work is more interesting than I expected (no filing OR photocopying - I'm in heaven!) though I find billing very complicated and I'm sure I'm not doing it right!

The other people in my office are obsessed with food - which is wonderful as it means there is always nice food about. (I was about to end that paragraph on an exclamation mark too, but then I recalled what Terry Pratchett has written about people who over use them....).

The Boy has just bought a new computer game, Spore, which looks awesome - but has the unfortunate effect of him monopolising the computer.

I would comment on something interesting and current affairs related, but to be honest, I picked up one of the random copies of the Economist which lie around the house and read it for 20 mins before realising that it was several months old. Shows how little has changed in the world. We have conflict in the Balkans, the US elections (funnily enough, though I disagree with Palin on virtually every issue, I very much like her as a candidate), flood warnings... I blame it all on the silly season (or end of).

Oh.... Ugly Betty restarting....

Au revoir, mes petites choufleurs

04 September, 2008

Apologies, Update and Compliment

Sorry about the lack of posts recently. I didn't have personal internet in London and didn't feel right to use Law Firm's computers. The job is going well and I'm very much enjoying it so far, everybody seems very nice - though there aren't any men in our office, which is slightly odd! Too broke to afford a real laptop so the Asus EEE is looking more and more tempting...

Charon has been most helpful if you want to stay updated on legal blog: Here

Right, I'm off to get dressed and mourn my cold as I have 'freshers flu' from meeting new people. Damn my crap immune system.