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Archive for August, 2006

A little time out…

I am not on vacation – god forbid that anyone should think that! I am, as it happens, fairly busy – but I will be back tomorrow and over the weekend.. I am getting blawgalgia – a rare medicial condition involving withdrawal symptoms from not being able to blawg.

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Umpire Charon demands £1800 from The CCC…

Today, in a bizarre twist of fate, a local cricket club umpire has been accused of tampering with the ball by The Chiswick Cricket Club (‘The CCC’). Fiction can be stranger than truth and at a time when the ICC is beset with problems over Umpire Hair’s decision in the 4th England v Pakistan cricket test match last week and subsequent demand from Hair of $500,000 to ‘go quietly’ – it is ironic that we should now hear of an umpire being accused of ball tampering.

Apparently, Umpire Charon, who likes to smoke unleaded Silk Cut while umpiring, found that his matches would not strike on the matchbox. Calmly picking up the cricket ball at the end of an over, he attempted to strike the match on the worn side of the ball several times before the match would light. Fast bowler, James ‘Criminal’ Damage, then bowled a bowl at 93.6 mph which had a ‘reverse swing’ of four metres to the right; surprising the wicket keeper, who was not able to prevent the ball zipping to the boundary for four runs.

The CCC are relying on Rule 42 (Fair and unfair play) 3 (b) “It is unfair for anyone to rub the ball on the ground for any reason, interfere with any of the seams or the surface of the ball, use any implement, or take any other action whatsoever which is likely to alter the condition of the ball, except as permitted in (a) above.”

A spokesman at The MCC said “The Laws of Cricket did not anticipate that an umpire might interfere with the ball, let alone use the ball to light a match so that he could smoke on the field. But it seems to us, after consulting the eminent QC, Sir John ‘Stumper’ Oval, that the words ‘It is unfair for anyone and ‘take any action whatsoever which is likely to alter the condition of the ball’ are sufficiently wide to cover ball tampering by the umpire.

Umpire Charon is no stranger to controversy. A year ago, while umpiring a match between The Acton Irregulars and The Bollo Ball Scuffers, he walked onto the pitch after lunch with a bottle of Rioja which he proceeded to ‘neck’ while play commenced and was heard several times to shout ‘Howzat!’ before the ball had even reached the batsman.

Umpire Charon later sent an email to the Secretary of The CCC stating “that while it may have been inappropriate for me to use the ball to strike a match, so I could light a cigarette, I do not believe that the end result of the match would have been any different. When it was drawn to my attention that the ball did not seem to go straight after my actions, I was very quick to provide a new ball. In the circumstances if you put £1800 into my offshore bank account within 24 hours, I shall be quite happy to go quietly. I look forward to hearing from you by return.”

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Bank Holiday Special…

” Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.”

It is, of course, the first verse of a poem by W H Auden made better known by Four Weddings and a Funeral – but appropriate given that law offices, chambers, training organisations, law schools are all closing for the last holiday weekend before Christmas. I am still at my post, but as you can see, I am not doing any sensible work. I am fiddling around on the net – it is, of course, too early to get my sabre out and cut the top of a bottle of rioja off – which is how I open bottles at the weekend.

Insane Lawyer… or, as Sean Hocking of Practicesource.com and Tab”law”oid puts it…Why lawyers should not be allowed to advertise.

This film is amazing. Jim “The Hammer” Shapiro may not be able to “rip out the heart of the person of the person who harmed you” but he will hunt them down and sue them for every dime they have on your behalf. Last week, I started my ‘Lobster Awards’ scheme. (Here) Jim “The Hammer” gets a Lobster Award (Third Class). I watched with increasing fascination. Maybe The College of Law and BPP et al should screen this film for their new litigation practice classes? Thanks for the link, Sean.

This guy eats 30 pancakes a day and, clearly enjoys eating them. He has made a film of himself making pancakes, composed a song to go with the film and is now featured on Good Morning America, Number 3 in the Israeli charts and has had over 700,000 views of his video on YouTube. It is a most enjoyable video (the song is not quite my taste – not Verdi enough) and worth a look. No law in it, as far as I could see. Go and watch the Pancake video – well edited!

US judge gets tough with mobile phone users in court – detains and questions five users. Story

“When no one admitted having the ringing phones Wednesday, Lake County Criminal Court Judge Diane Boswell told all five people in the row to sit in chairs reserved for jail inmates. They stayed there for more than an hour until the morning court call ended.”

Milwaukee described as America’s drunkest city by Forbes.com: Story
“The people who are drunks, honestly, don’t get served here,” Brandon said. “If you can’t hold your head up and if you can’t walk straight, you get shown to the door.”

I did enjoy this comment from the report: “But there’s a difference between being a town of belchers on bar stools and a city with a drinking culture, some Milwaukee residents argued Wednesday.”

and.. on that note I have to sabre the top off a bottle of Rioja soon and close the blawg for today. Have a good Bank holiday.

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Greed cameras…

According to the The Mirror – Essex Police are having problems with the locals who have risen in revolt at the proliferation of Speeding cameras. They have taken to ‘modifying’ the signs by taping over ‘Speed’ with ‘Greed’. Police have been told to ‘crack down’ hard on offenders – but so far the protesters have been too quick for the local traffic plod.

There is even a website where you can read about the campaign and print out signs to stick in the rear window of your car. Be warned, however: Police may not take kindly to this. Here is a report from the Association of British Driver’s website: “We’ve received a report from a driver who says he was stopped by police and this speed camera sign was ‘confiscated’. One of the policemen said he’d been told to take them off people. So much for freedom of speech. Print one and stick it in your car. If your are stopped and the sticker illegally ‘confiscated’, be sure to get the officers name, number and a receipt for your property. Then let us know.”

I ride motorbikes. I don’t speed in country villages and it is almost impossible to speed in Central London with traffic congestion. I make no admission of guilt to any particular offence, but it can be safe, and a pleasure, to exceed the ‘national speed limit’ on occasion. There are far too many speed cameras on our roads – and to watch cars speed up to the camera and then slam the brakes on, can be quite a sobering sight!

and so to other matters…

Sadly, Pluto and Charon, after being hailed the other day as binary planets, have now been downgraded to celestial bodies. Now 2,500 astronomers meeting in Prague have voted that Pluto (and, presumably, Charon also) should be redesignated as a “trans-Neptunian”, or dwarf planet. I do not possess a celestial body – I have a ‘two pack’ – the ‘six pack’ stomach is a thing of memory – but I think I would prefer to be a celestial body rather than a planet… and as for being ‘Trans-Neptunian’?…what can I say? Amazing that astronomers have so much time on their hands… but…what is time?

Bystander JP is inviting his readers to ‘have a go’: Here is an extract from a recent post on his blog: “Speeding kills. Speeding is fun. Cameras are there to collect revenue. You have heard it all before. Go on then, let’s have your comments. Be as rude as you like about magistrates but please don’t attack each other.”

He has received 73 comments already – some of them quite amusing.

Don’t send shoplifters to jail!

I don’t run a shop, but I do know people who do – and they tell me that stock theft can cause them serious financial hardship and loss. I read in my tabloid of choice, The Mirror , that The Sentencing Advisory Panel is not keen on shoplifters being jailed – preferring, instead, a high level community service order option. The paper reports that 280,000 people a year are convicted of shoplifting (£585 million lost in thefts) which could pose a problem for the prison service. Retailers are, not surprisingly, disgusted and Edward Garnier MP, shadow home affairs spokesman, points out from stage left (or should that be stage right?) “The law-abiding public expect that people stealing from shops should be properly punished.”

Apparently in Saudi Arabia, where they cut the hands off shoplifters, shoplifting is fairly rare.

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There is, of course, absolutely no truth in this news cutting, but the thought appealed to me as I wasted yet another few hours trying to speak to people on the phone. I fear that all are departing for the long weekend – heading, perhaps to the shires, the coast or even as far as Scotland.

I will remain at my post in London but I am sure the opportunity will arise for some relaxation – perhaps a glass or two of Rioja and a chance to get off the world for a few days. I found myself looking at the Lawyer website – to see if there was any interesting news. I didn’t actually need to know that Scots law firm, Burness, has re-shuffled its management team – but it was quite interesting to see that the main focus of news on The Lawyer was about ‘who is doing what to whom’, ‘who is landing big deals’ etc, rather than any focus on legal practice or even law.

I did however feel uplifted when I read that “North West firm Hill Dickinson is going green with a scheme designed to offset its carbon footprint and create a local community woodland. The firm is working with environmental company co2balance.com to plant 1,149 trees in order to cancel out the carbon dioxide it uses each year. In addition Hill Dickinson also plans to switch to a renewable energy provider when its current power contract runs out.”

I decided to move on to other websites to see if I could find anything mildly surreal.

And then I found this… The Most Incredible Knife
Wenger wants you to do one thing: throw out your old knives. Actually, it wants you to do several things: throw out your bike tools, your toiletries, your laser pointer and so on, because you can find all of these instruments in a huge Swiss Army knife, which includes every tool the company makes. Wenger is calling the contraption ‘Giant Knife Version 1.0.’ It debuted with all 85 features and can perform hundreds of functions. Who doesn’t need a cigar cutter next to a bicycle chain rivet setter next to a golf divot repair tool.

And then I hit the jackpot with this Ant desk…

It may not appeal to everyone – but I rather liked the idea of ants scurrying around under the glass of a desk… here is a most interesting article on how you can build one for yourself – should you have time to do so over the coming bank holiday!

I read the comments on this chap’s blog – apparently ants build their colonies vertically – so it might be a problem!

And finally… A U.S. psychologist says we might not be able to tell a book from its cover, but we can decide if a person is attractive in only a tenth of a second.

Princeton University psychologist Alex Todorov says people respond intuitively to faces so rapidly our minds may not have time to influence the reaction — and our intuitions about attraction and trust are among those we form the fastest.

“The link between facial features and character may be tenuous at best, but that doesn’t stop our minds from sizing other people up at a glance,” said Todorov, an assistant professor of psychology. “We decide very quickly whether a person possesses many of the traits we feel are important, such as likability and competence, even though we have not exchanged a single word with them.”

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A bit quiet today…

Having foregone the pleasures of a holiday for some years, I am re-charging my batteries by taking a few half days off over the next three days to ease myself into the final Bank holiday before Christmas. In any event…it has been a complete waste of time trying to do any business this week as everyone has either left the country or is stuck at one of our airports being searched. So… I thought I might do a spot of blawging.

So..have I really been to a Japanese restaurant to play with alphabet soup? No… messing around in Photoshop, but should opportunity arise in the future, I may well wish to do so.

Hunted long and wide to find some law worth commenting on and did not find anything fascinating.

Apart from a story in The Telegraph – A wife who axed to death her cheating husband after a decade of lies and deceit was freed by a judge yesterday. there is not much about. It was a diminished responsibility case. Mr Justice Fulford said jailing her would serve no purpose.

“This was a spontaneous act committed when you were under great personal pressure and suffering from a depressive disorder,” he said. “You have now been on remand for 10 months, which is the equivalent of a sentence of 20 months. Since I have accepted that your responsibility was low, I do not think it is in the public interest to keep you in prison for any longer than this.”

This nonsense caught my eye: Warm whiskers eye pillow
“Our Warm Whiskers freezable or heatable eye and eye pillows help reduce eye puffiness and strain, headaches, facial tension and sinus pressure. Each animal is filled with relaxing lavender and chamomile.”

Can’t quite see me wearing one these. However… could be just the thing after a night on the Rioja.

Is Bush an idiot… or is he just inarticulate?

Well judge for yourself with this excellent film. It is quite long but well worth watching if you can view films on the net.

Anyway …here is a joke which amused me.

“President Bush is going to establish elections there in Iraq. He’s going to rebuild the infrastructure. He’s going to create jobs. He said if it works there, he’ll try it here.” David Letterman

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Bringing the game into disrepute…

“In summertime village cricket is the delight of everyone. Nearly every village has its own cricket field where the young men play and the old men watch. In the village of Lintz in County Durham they have their own ground, where they have played these last 70 years. They tend it well. The wicket area is well rolled and mown. The outfield is kept short . . . [y]et now after these 70 years a judge of the High Court has ordered that they must not play there anymore . . . [h]e has done it at the instance of a newcomer who is no lover of cricket.
This newcomer has built . . . a house on the edge of the cricket ground which four years ago was a field where cattle grazed. The animals did not mind the cricket.”

Per Lord Denning MR

—Miller v. Jackson (1977) Q.B. 966, 976

It seems that lawyers are now involved in the extraordinary events which brought the 4th Test between England and Pakistan to a premature end. DLA Piper are representing Pakistan Captain, Inzamam and “are confident that justice will prevail in this case,” according to The Independent

It may only be a game (and, as Umpire Hair remarked “nobody died”) but an allegation of ball tampering is serious and proof of cheating will be required. It is curious that none of the 26 Sky TV cameras picked up any dodgy ball scuffing. We shall have to wait for the outcome of the grand inquisition to be conducted by the ICC. It was a great game, a good series. Meanwhile, I have a new outfit (pictured) to wear when I umpire the game between The Acton Nomads and The Swan XI to be held this Bank holiday weekend if Pakistan decide not to proceed with the one day series against England.

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