Archive for April, 2009

Legless in Gaza?….

Legless in Gaza? No, but in the wake of my Smokedo: Smoke yourself fit with Charon antics, I am now going to be a wine reviewer for LawandMore. I used to do restaurant reviews for them, but as I far prefer drinking to eating – and I am miles away from good restaurants-  it makes sense to review wines.  There is another advantage – the wines come to me by courier!

I have spoken to two wine  people this morning – both very enthusiastic blokes – and warned them that my reviews tend to be less technical, but more surreal, than the real experts.  While I studied wine in my late twenties,  I gave up;  preferring instead to drink the goddam stuff than worry what colour the soil was or where the sun was pointing when grape turned into nectar of the gods. It is unlikely also, I told them, that I would be writing about fruits or wine tasting of old cricket bats. I will be concentrating on taste, of course and will also (because I am an enthusaistic if infrequent cook) give an idea of what food it will go with –  but I will be asking one essential question – Did it do the business?

I shall, of course, have a grading system based on  a 1-5 scale.  One  is not a good score.  Five  will be nirvana.

I am pleased to report that my Smokedo programme is going well.

I am now a 30aday Dan and managing to do 1000 press-ups, and 500 squats, calf lifts and 500 repetitions of five arm exercises with a 5kg dumbell daily  – courtsey of Mr Amazon who delivered said dumbells to me only yesterday.  I rather overdid it yesterday evening  and found my right arm throwing tea into my face when I lifted my cup this morning – but, in time….  my body will get used to the new muscles.

The drawing to the left is a simulation. For political reasons I cannot be photographed smoking as I use these dumbells.  The technique of gripping the cigarette between the teeth allows natural breathing in and out while using the dumbell equipment.  As always, please do not try this at home unless a Smokedo master is present to advise.

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30th April: News up on Insite Law

The news, law reports, editorial and blog update is up on Insite Law

I would also like to take the opportunity to wish friend and fellow blogger John Bolch of Family Lore – a  Happy Birthday.

Swine flu pandemic alert raised to level five World Health
Guardian: Organisation raises global epidemic threat to second highest level as numbers of infected continue to rise

Telegraph: Some Mexicans have reacted to the swine flu crisis with humour and creativity. A man wears a mask with a moustache drawn on it as he talks on his mobile phone in Mexico City

Also on Insite today…

Foxtons in court with their unfair contract terms | Gordon Brown forgets that he is making PM statement, leaves Commons – hilarity all round | Brown loses Gurkha vote – a warm up for today’s vote on MP expenses which could be an effective vote of No Confidence if he loses that.

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Law and wine… not always a pleasure….

While law and a bit of the red stuff are, shall we say,  interests of mine –  the two together do not always give pleasure.  I was tipped off  by  Thirstforwine (a fellow Twitterer) about the rather absurd behaviour of  Ernst & Julio Gallo who threatened to sue a small Seattle wine and food retailer for importing pasta called ‘Gallo’.  The fact that Gallo is pasta,  and not even people with suspiciously long arms  would confuse pasta with wine, was of little interest to E & J Gallo.  They hired an attorney.  The attorney told The Spanish Table to cease and desist or be sued.

I enter a caveat here. I am assuming that the report upon which I draw accurately represents the events that happened – a not unreasonable assumption as the story is still, at the time of writing, online and the online source is a Wine magazine/blog.

The retailers, the report states, were shocked that the first contact was through a lawyer and made the entirely reasonable point that had someone from E & J Gallo (and I want you to remember that name) contacted them to discuss their concerns they would have been open to discussion. Rather than face a costly legal fight, the retailers wrote to the attorney asking whether the pasta should be given away to a food bank or be destroyed.

E & J Gallo, it seems, wanted more than their pound of pasta.  They wanted name, rank and serial number of the importers of the Gallo pasta…. Ok… I exaggerate… they wanted to know the identity of  the importer of the GALLO pasta. The retailers declined to do so. At this point the reports states The Gallo attorney would no longer communicate with them at all, only with their attorney, in essence, forcing them to hire one. They say that they were given an April 16th deadline to hire an attorney and cease pasta sales, however, Gallo officially filed suit ahead of their own deadline on April 14th.”

While I fully understand and accept that brand owners wish to protect their brands, there is a whiff of the unpleasant about this matter.  Big organisations playing “the heavy” with small organisations is never particularly edifying and less so when  they use oppressive legal tactics and then resile from their own stated plan of action.

However, be that as it may…  and whatever the merits in law in that US state may be – my own view, as a wine drinker’  is that E & J Gallo behaved oppressively.  A quick bit of research on Google revealed that Gallo is a fairly common name in Italy, there is a hotel called Gallo, it is a romance language also and there are several types of Gallo pasta.

I have drunk wines from  Ernst & Julio Gallo. I would be grateful if you would keep this information to yourselves – lest people  point me out to their families in the street and say ‘”There he is… the man who drank an Ernst & Julio Gallo wine.”   They are not to my taste, although they do… do the business.

I am toying now, as I drink a glass of an excellent Rioja – not, of course, produced by E & J Gallo –  with the idea of  manufacturing suppositories and importing them into the USA.  I shall call them GALL-O.  This, of course, is an acronym for Greased Anal Liquid Laxative – Optimised.

Optimised for easy insertion.

Perhaps The Spanish Table, the retailer, would like some to send to the attorney when they return his papers?

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29th April : News up on Insite Law

Daily news and update up on Insite Law

Justice for Gurkhas petition

Join The Daily Telegraph’s campaign to help seek Justice for Gurkhas, calling on ministers to grant them the right to live in the country they have served.
Neuroenhancers and lawyers
Professor Simon Fodden, Slaw: A fascinating blog post about the use of neuroenhancers to improve memory, attention span, performance. Will lawyers be drawn to them? Will lawmakers require certain professions to use them in the future – doctors, pilots – anyone whose job requires enhanced levels of performance.Will lawyers be negligent if they don’t use them in a future world? A good read.

Also on Insite Law today…

A barrister falls down a manhole while on a crime scene visit.  He is drained by the experience | Quota system may be considered for judges | Four years, 52 dead, £100m – no convictions | Natasha Phillips interviews John Hemming MP | Head of Legal:Harriet’s Law – The Equality Bill

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There are many uses for Facebook and it was through Facebook that I discovered the proposal of the Treasurers of Inner Temple and Middle Temple to merge the two Inn libraries. I have not been able to read any details – for no details of this proposal are, as yet, public.  Nor have I, at this stage, contacted the Treasurers to ask for  detail.  It may be, in any event, that the proposals are not at a stage yet for more public debate by outsiders.

Update 11.00: The reference on Facebook has now been deleted

The plan as revealed on the Middle Temple Facebook page is to merge the two collections, with a suggestion mooted of housing them in Middle Temple library and to use the library space at Inner Temple for advocacy and other training purposes.

Both the Middle Temple and Inner Temple libraries house important collections and archives and, I understand, that to squash these important collections into one building will be extremely difficult if the integrity of the collections is to be maintained and serviced properly.  It is also likely that merger will result in redundancies and the inevitable  loss of valuable expertise and knowledge from the dedicated librarians of both Inns.

I spoke to a few senior members of the Bar  and the reaction was not favourable.  It was pointed out to me that Chambers are feeling the pinch and are cutting back on their own library provision and the Inn libraries are, accordingly, an even more important resource than perhaps they were.  There was concern that a reduction in staff and possible cutbacks in resource, already suffering due to budget cuts in the present climate, would impact on the efficient and effective running of the Bar and the daily work of members of the Bar who need to have access to first class resources if they are to maintain high standards.

This is not just an issue about collegiate feel – it is about the provision of resources to the Bar as a whole and the reputation of each member within the profession reliant on a world class law library resource.  I am confident that the proposal will not be supported by the staff of either Inn library.

So – without further ado, given that the cat appears now to be out of the red bag – I would be interested in hearing from barristers, students, solicitors and academics on their views of this proposal. If there are sufficient views expressed in the comments section, perhaps these could be passed on to the Treasurers of both Inns for their consideration?

I will also do some more research and take opinion from my sources and revert.

Over to you.

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The world seems to have gone nuts….

As the dawn broke and more reported cases of Swineflu were reported in the press and on Twitter using the #Swineflu hashtag…. Stephen Fry called upon Twitterers to be responsible.

At approximately 9.45 am this morning Mr Fry issued the following Tweet:

“We must do our best to be sensible about this panic and not let Twitter earn a bad reputation, don’t we think? http://bit.ly/Y2GDh #swineflu”

Yesterday morning there were reports on Twitter about killer jelly fish on the way from Murcia in Spain.  I am keeping a look out for them as they approach British coastal waters.  I am at my post.

Have a look at this film to get a sense of perspective about Swine flu (Hat Tip Aimee Barnes)

If this Twitterdemic (perhaps it should be called Twepidemic?) gets worse, I am sure the sensible people running Health Ministries will tell us. Then we can perhaps panic in a constructive and British way by having a cup of tea or get our Blitz spirit out.

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