Archive for October 26th, 2009


This was sent to me by a good friend in Australia – an English barrister who lives out there now with her teenage boys.

As we get older we sometimes begin to doubt our ability to “make a difference” in the world.  It is at these times that our hopes are boosted by the remarkable achievements of other “seniors” who have found the courage to take on challenges that would make many of us wither.  Harold Sclumberg is such a person.

I’ve often been asked, ‘What do you old folks do now that you’re retired’?

Well..I’m fortunate to have a chemical engineering background, and one of the things I enjoy most is turning beer, wine, Scotch, and margaritas into urine.

And I’m pretty damn good at it, too!!

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I could not cook many years ago…but now I can – simply by watching programmes on cookery, reading cook books, trying things out and by having had the good fortune to eat some very good meals in different parts of the world. I am not a foodie.  I just enjoy cooking and eating the results. I also like cooking for friends.  It has to be said that I have had to go out to dinner after cooking – simply because what I tried was, shall we say, not too good.

There is a fantastic range of information on the net and on television for those of us who enjoy cooking.

Tonight… a recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon done in a slow cooker or ‘crockpot’

1. Buy a slow cooker (£20 – or use a hob and cook gently for about 2 hours and then transfer to a hot oven 180C to thicken the gravy for about 15 minutes.)

Using the slow cooker on a high setting for 5-6 hours:

2. Chop topside, sirloin,  rump or even cheaper cuts of beef into chunks. Coat with flour (I prefer cornflour) and season with salt and  pepper.  Brown in frying pan using groundnut or sunflower oil until the meat has a good colour on the outside

3.  Chop carrots, onion, mushroom, onion/challots and small potatoes (keep the skin on) garlic  – some mixed herbs and anything else you fancy by way of veg.

4. Add about 1/4 pint of beef stock available from supermarkets.  Put in a small amount of fat from the beef to render down and provide depth to the gravy.

5. Add a full bottle of decent burgundy.  The burgundy will cost about £6-10 depending on your budget.  It is worth using good wine. Frankly any heavy bodied wine will give good flavour

6. Cook for 5-6 hours with the slow cooker on high or 9-10 hours with the slow cooker on low.

Garlic and chive mash

It will take about 20 minutes or so to cook some small potatoes with or without skins (I like skins on for this dish)

1. Cook potatoes until you can put a fork into the heart of the cut potatoes. Drain water, mash, add garlic puree or chopped garlic, chopped chives and butter.  Mash until you have the mash the way you like it.

Quantities are irrelevant with slow cooking.  Some people are greedy.  Work out how much you like, add for friends. Make enough for some the next day – because it does taste better the next day and you can heat it up fairly quickly on a stove. Best to make a new batch of mash, though.

Rioja, Burgundy, Barolo, Cotes du Rhone… in fact.. most reds go well with this.

I have just had a boeuf bourguignon prepared in this way … and I am feeling no pain at all.. and I am never, knowingly, under refreshed… at night.

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On this 80th Anniversary of the Stock Market Crash of 1929, Counsel to Counsel hosts Blawg Review and dedicate Blawg Review #235 to The Great Recession.

How has our current crisis changed the practice of law and affected our careers as attorneys? Fortunately for me, there was no shortage of reading material on the subject this past week. While US centric – much applies to Britain and elsewhere… I would have thought?

Read Blawg  Review

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College of Law Inside Track Podcast:
Simon Myerson QC- Life at the Bar and advice on gaining pupillage
I talk to Simon Myerson QC. He considers the OLPAS form, the pupillage process, how best to prepare for pupillage interviews and the likely legal landscape for those who wish to join the Bar. He is generally optimist about the future and his advice is that it is a good career, if you are good. Simon Myerson’s blog Pupillage and How to get it is essential reading for prospective barristers.

Listen to the podcast

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Religion… a Panopticon for the future?

I am a liberal atheist, by which I mean that I do not seek in any way to persuade others to my belief that there is no god of any kind, nor do I seek to encourage others to adopt a rationalist stance on the matter.  If people wish to believe in a god or gods – and there do seem to be quite a few gods in religious belief systems – and enjoy their beliefs,  that is their right … but, inevitably, because this is a law blog I introduce a Benthamite caveat…provided it does not cause more harm to others than it provides pleasure to believers.

I used to teach Jurisprudence… a subject, sadly, which many universities now consign to the larder of obscure options and which legal regulators appear no longer to regard as a subject which will help the young lawyer become an expert in conveyancing, prosecuting and defending criminals or become a highly paid maven on mergers and acquisitions or… indeed…. legal work of any kind.  Be that as it may.

It was Voltaire who said “If god didn’t exist, it would be necessary to invent him” and history reveals that it was remarkably convenient to have a god and a structured system of rules as an instrument of social control.  I hesitate to go further lest I find myself banged up at a secure police station in West London for breaching the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006.

I would like it to be perfectly clear, as a liberal atheist,(Lest some police officer is behind with his ‘nickings’ this month)  that I have no intention of breaching s. 29B of the Racial and Religious Hatred Act because I am, just that, a liberal atheist – tolerant, inclusive, relaxed and  laid back, about the things fellow human beings believe in.

I would, however, like to commend a piece written by Professor Turley, a US academic, on Blaspemy laws.

Professor Turley writes in USA Today…

Perhaps in an effort to rehabilitate the United States’ image in the Muslim world, the Obama administration has joined a U.N. effort to restrict religious speech. This country should never sacrifice freedom of expression on the altar of religion.

I leave you with one thought – is it sensible to have prime ministers, presidents, ayatollahs, et al who believe in so many different gods, running our various countries?  Perhaps the world would be better served without the influence of so many religions?  I am just asking, in a spirit of reasoned debate, and not inciting.

PS… One of the great ironies of Jeremy Bentham is that he designed the Panopticon, a prison designed is to allow an observer to observe (-opticon) all (pan-) prisoners without the prisoners being able to tell whether they are being watched, thereby conveying what one architect has called the “sentiment of an invisible omniscience.”[1]

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