Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Category archive: Law

Sunday October 19 2014

Here is another way I might get those high up views of London that I am always searching for:

image

DPReview review here:

In my own experiences, aerial shoots have proven difficult to pull off. The window of shooting time was limited, the cabin was cramped, and the first time I ever stuck my camera out the window, the lens flew off and I miraculously caught it in mid-air. It was also roughly $250 for an hour.

But within the past couple of years, aerial photographers have been introduced to a burgeoning market rife with little flying machines that don’t require passengers, don’t need fuel to operate, and can fit inside a cubic foot. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the era of user-operated photography drones is upon us, and it’s already kicking into warp speed.

I’m guessing that the technology of it would be beyond me, and the legality of it a minefield.

Thursday February 27 2014

imageAnd here is a photo I took yesterday.  I once thought that these Evening Standard headlines would by now be a thing of the quite distant past, but they are still with us, for the time being anyway, along with the Evening Standard itself, which has survived being given away and as of now shows no sign of disappearing.

There is something charmingly antiquated about the word “swoop”, isn’t there?  This swoop took place - when else? - at dawn, yesterday morning.

Yes, welcome to Operation Octopod.  Truly:

Detectives set up a specialist team which worked in secret for months to gather evidence against the gang in an inquiry codenamed Operation Octopod. Most of the 200 officers involved in the raids were not even told of the targets, only given the addresses they were raiding.

This sounds like it might eventually become quite a good story.

Interestingly, this Evening Standard story goes out of its way to say that the family being arrested have not been named.  But the link to the story contains these words:

couple-held-in-north-london-as-two-hundred-met-officers-stage-adams-family-swoop

And later they changed the headline above the story on the website, to include the word “Adams”.  And indeed, it seems that the arrested family really is called Adams.  Expect the phrase Adams Family Values to crop up a lot in the next few days and weeks.

And in a few years, another movie, about London’s own Adams Family and their dastardly deeds.

Tuesday October 01 2013

Incoming ("A quote you may like") from Richard Carey, who gave a great talk at my home last Friday, at my latest Last Friday, about The English Radicals at the time of the Civil War:

Here’s a quote from Algernon Sidney’s ‘Discourses on Government’, which lost him his head but gained him the admiration of Jefferson and others. Somewhere into the second paragraph, you will know why I have sent this!

The book is a riposte to one by a fellow named Filmer who wrote in support of the Divine Right of Kings, a notion Sidney found odious and false.

So, Richard having already supplied me with this excellent SQotD, penned by John Lilburne, we now have this:

Implicit Faith belongs to Fools, and Truth is comprehended by examining Principles

Whilst Filmer’s business is to overthrow liberty and truth, he, in his passage, modestly professeth not to meddle with mysteries of state, or arcana imperii. He renounces those inquiries through an implicit faith, which never enter’d into the head of any but fools, and such, as through a carelessness of the point in question, acted as if they were so. This is the foundation of the papal power, and it can stand no longer than those that compose the Roman church can be persuaded to submit their consciences to the word of the priests, and esteem themselves discharged from the necessity of searching the Scriptures in order to know whether the things that are told them are true or false. This may shew whether our author or those of Geneva do best agree with the Roman doctrine: But his instance is yet more sottish than his profession. An implicit faith, says he, is given to the meanest artificer. I wonder by whom! Who will wear a shoe that hurts him, because the shoe-maker tells him ’tis well made? or who will live in a house that yields no defence against the extremities of weather, because the mason or carpenter assures him ’tis a very good house? Such as have reason, understanding, or common sense, will, and ought to make use of it in those things that concern themselves and their posterity, and suspect the words of such as are interested in deceiving or persuading them not to see with their own eyes, that they may be more easily deceived. This rule obliges us so far to search into matters of state, as to examine the original principles of government in general, and of our own in particular. We cannot distinguish truth from falsehood, right from wrong, or know what obedience we owe to the magistrate, or what we may justly expect from him, unless we know what he is, why he is, and by whom he is made to be what he is. These perhaps may be called mysteries of state, and some would persuade us they are to be esteemed arcana; but whosoever confesses himself to be ignorant of them, must acknowledge that he is incapable of giving any judgment upon things relating to the superstructure, and in so doing evidently shews to others, that they ought not at all to hearken to what he says.

His argument to prove this is more admirable. If an implicit faith, says he, is given to the meanest artificer in his craft, much more to a prince in the profound secrets of government. But where is the consequence? If I trust to the judgment of an artificer, or one of a more ingenuous profession, ’tis not because he is of it, but because I am persuaded he does well understand it, and that he will be faithful to me in things relating to his art. I do not send for Lower or Micklethwait when I am sick, nor ask the advice of Mainard or Jones in a suit of law, because the first are physicians, and the other lawyers; but because I think them wise, learned, diligent, and faithful, there being a multitude of others who go under the same name, whose opinion I would never ask. Therefore if any conclusion can be drawn from thence in favour of princes, it must be of such as have all the qualities of ability and integrity, that should create this confidence in me; or it must be proved that all princes, in as much as they are princes, have such qualities. No general conclusion can be drawn from the first case, because it must depend upon the circumstances, which ought to be particularly proved: And if the other be asserted, I desire to know whether Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Vitellius, Domitian, Commodus, Heliogabalus, and others not unlike to them, had those admirable endowments, upon which an implicit faith ought to have been grounded; how they came by them; and whether we have any promise from God, that all princes should forever excel in those virtues, or whether we by experience find that they do so. If they are or have been wanting in any, the whole falls to the ground; for no man enjoys as a prince that which is not common to all princes: And if every prince have not wisdom to understand these profound secrets, integrity to direct him, according to what he knows to be good, and a sufficient measure of industry and valour to protect me, he is not the artificer, to whom the implicit faith is due. His eyes are as subject to dazzle as my own. But ’tis a shame to insist on such a point as this. We see princes of all sorts; they are born as other men: The vilest flatterer dares not deny that they are wise or foolish, good or bad, valiant or cowardly like other men: and the crown doth neither bestow extraordinary qualities, ripen such as are found in princes sooner than in the meanest, nor preserve them from the decays of age, sickness, or other accidents, to which all men are subject: And if the greatest king in the world fall into them, he is as incapable of that mysterious knowledge, and his judgment is as little to be relied on, as that of the poorest peasant.

My googling abilities are wayward, to put it politely, but based on a fleeting mention of a Micklethwait who was the grandson of “the physician”, the physician Micklethwait does appear to have been quite distinguished.  And since he’s a Micklethwait, spelt Micklethwait (without, that is to say, any terminal e), that makes him a relative of mine, or so I have always assumed.

In the course of this googling for ancient Micklethwaits, I also came across this picture, which the National Portrait Gallery has in its collection, of my paternal grandfather, who was a lawyer.  Hopefully the sort of lawyer whom Algernon Sidney would have been content to consult.  Grandpa Micklethwait died when I was four and I think I must have met him, or at least been shown to him, but I have no recollection of this.

Thursday August 29 2013

By which I mean interesting software news from New Zealand.

A computer programme is not an invention:

A major new patent bill, passed in a 117-4 vote by New Zealand’s Parliament after five years of debate, has banned software patents.

I need Rob Fisher to explain this to me.  Which he will surely be able to do.

Quotulatiousness (to whom thanks for the NewZ) says hurrah.

LATER: I emailed Rob Fisher about this, and he replied thus:

That is interesting, thanks.

Told you.

Saturday July 13 2013

The Broad Incident (known about by all who care, not cared about by those who don’t know) somewhat spoiled my enjoyment of the closing stages of Day Three of the amazing Trent Bridge Ashes test match.  (Broad nicked an obvious catch to slip. The umpire missed it.  Broad did not give himself out, but instead stuck around.) England’s subsequent progress somehow didn’t really count.  That’s how it felt, to me.  To all those who say: The Spirit of Cricket is Dead, I say, I know just how you feel.  And I feel your pain.

But I think that what I think is that expecting batsmen to walk when they know (but the umpire doesn’t know) that they are out introduces an unfair imbalance.

After all, if you are given out, but you know that you are not out because you missed it by half a yard, but if your team has run out of referrals (as Australia had yesterday) or if no referrals are allowed in the first place, you aren’t allowed to say: “Ah well, you see, I know that I’m not actually out, so, actually, I’m going to have to over-rule the umpire on this particular occasion.  I’m going to stick around.  Sorry and all that.  Carry on everyone.”

This is not allowed, unless you are W. G. Grace.

On the other hand it would, I think, make perfect sense, if a batsman walks (Gilchrist style) having been given not out by the umpire, if the umpire were then to say: “Heh!  Where d’you think you’re going?  Get back here!  I said: Not Out.  How dare you over-rule my decision.  Outrageous dissent.  Totally against the Spirit of Cricket.”

Yet it would seem that The Spirit of Cricket, as expounded by all those who were saying yesterday that Broad had gone totally against it, says that the umpires are not after all the sole judges of fact.  Odd.

It was interesting that, amidst all the outrage, when Mark Nicholas asked his three assembled experts at the close of play on Channel 5 TV, what about it fellas?, they all said a shorter version of what I just said.  Boycott said: when you’re given out wrongly, you have to go.  So if the umpire makes a mistake in your favour, you should be allowed to stick around.  It’s up to the umpire not to get it wrong.  And the other two, Vaughan and Martyn, both agreed.

It was a bit like that Not The Nine O’Clock News sketch, where they all agreed that the answer to juvenile delinquency was castration, with no dissenting, balancing voices.

The good news is that England got on the wrong side of a couple of dodgy decisions on Day Two.  If Agar had been given out stumped, when in single figures, England would have been well in front of this game by now.  When I thought about that, and the dodgy dismissal of Trott, both circumstances having been copiously explained yesterday by everyone commenting or commentating, I didn’t feel so bad about the Broad Incident.

Day Four has just got under way, with England starting at 326-6, 261 ahead.  Broad has already got his fifty, and Bell has his hundred.  Worse, for the Aussies, they have already missed a catch, one of those embarrassing things where two slip fielders, either of whom could have caught it, just watched the ball go between them.  Broad.

Re dropped catches, see my piece here on that subject a couple of years ago, one of my better ones, I think.  The same thing applies to dodgy umpiring decisions.  Bad teams dwell on things that don’t go there way.  Good teams forget about them, and concentrate on making the next lot of things go their way, confident that this will happen.  On the evidence of the last few hours of this test match, England are the better team.

Blofeld of the BBC is referring to Aussie bowler Michell Starc as “Starkers”.

England 345-6, 280 ahead.

357-7.  Broad out for 65.

Thursday July 04 2013

This piece is from May 28, and the fixing concerned the IPL, then in progress, but the sentiments are permanent:

As a sports fan who likes to think of himself as a member of the “serious” class of that demographic, I enjoy embedding sport in its broader social, cultural, economic and political contexts; indeed, it is these contexts that elevate sport above mere coordinated physical exertion and give it its most resonant and rich meanings. Such a placement in context does a great deal to enhance and make richer my appreciation of the on-field endeavours of those who play the game; I track my growth in maturity as a fan as correlating quite closely with the increasing attention I paid to cricket’s history, economics and culture. Taking one’s eyes off the on-field action to look behind and around is thus a crucial aspect of understanding it better.

Me too.

But these broader inquiries should never make us lose sight of the bare bones of the game, the basic bat-on-ball stuff. When that happens, we have been distracted adversely and our attention, supposedly meant for the game, has been consumed elsewhere. We aren’t being fans of the game any more; we have been suckered into something else altogether.

My resentment and frustration about the latest fixing scandal to strike cricket is grounded not just in in a very real weariness about the unending capacity for stupidity and greed on the part of cricket’s players and managers. (Killing golden geese is always tempting; too many seem to have succumbed recently.) It is a reaction, too, to fixing’s insidious ability to make cricketing action seem like a bizarre simulacrum of the real thing, to render ersatz that which I need to believe real in order to sustain my fanhood.

What I despise most about fixing is that it slaps me upside the head and tells me I’m wasting my time, that I’d do better to find other ways to while away the hours, that I should just move on, for there is no cricket here to be seen.

Exactly so.  Cheating drains the meaning out of a sport, to the point where you feel like a fool for caring about it.

Here is another desperately depressing piece about the unrepentant Danish Kaneria.  I would like to be told what was the nature of the evidence against him, though.  ECB Chairman Clarke’s statement just states that Kaneria is guilty, basically, of trying to recruit other Essex players into his gang of bribees, and that he should come clean.  Clarke doesn’t say anything about what that evidence was.  Other players?  Tapes?  Was it all just the word of one other player, Mervyn Westfield, whom Kaneria persuaded to take bribes?  If so, why did they believe what Westfield said about Kaneria?

Same report here, from the BBC.  Again, no detail about what the evidence was.  The opinion that Kaneria is guilty seems to be unanimous, but I would like to be told a bit more about why that is, just to be sure that Kaneria’s life ban is the right thing.  If he is guilty and unrepentant, then it surely is.

Saturday May 04 2013

I know I keep going on about it, but now I will go on about it some more.  Signs make great photos.  Signs are extraordinarily evocative of the places where they are displayed.  Signs tell you what goes on in a place, or what people want to do or are liable to do by mistake, but/and must not.  Wherever the public goes, there are signs, especially nowadays, when you are legally responsible for whatever idiotic thing the public does on your patch, unless you can point at a sign saying don’t do that.  So, on that wedding day, I photoed signs.

It was, after all, a sign that told me I was in the right place to start with, see 1.1 below.  My favourite is 3.2, the one about swan rescue.

image image imageimage image imageimage image image

No, forget the swans.  My even more favourite one is the one that says: this parking space is only for Registrars, 2.2.  This told me that there are a lot of weddings here, and that they are accordingly quite good at doing weddings.  So it proved.

Friday September 09 2011

Further to that Post-it notes notice board of mine, for blogging notes to self, most of the things on it are what I like to think of as Big Things.  Big Things like the Great Big Post I want to do some time between now and my death about (as many as I can think of of) the various things meant by the phrase “Rule of Law”.  Hear ye, hear ye.

But this doesn’t mean that I intend to neglect small things.  On the contrary, some of the best blogging I have done, and I bet this applies to thousands of other bloggers, has been of pieces I had no idea I would write, until, provoked by some weird small thing or other, I wrote them.

The purpose of this board of Big Things is not to make me write more Big Things and fewer small things.  It is, rather, to ensure that I remember the Big Things I want to write about, any year now, despite all the small things that I blog about in the meantime.

The notice board will also help, I surmise, by making it easier for me to weave Big Thing themes into smaller observations about the passing scene.

Big Things and small things
Camera-equipped sunglasses
Health and safety on a mountain in Borneo
Misspelt (correction: Italian) signs of the times
More signage
Noticing signs of the times
Tatchell
Guerrilla webfare
The long and short of conversation - Hitchens on YouTube
Andy Flower urges England fans not to punish cricket for being corrupt
Ten thoughts about the Pakistan cricket corruption story
Why not just sell them?
Graeme Swann on drink-driving charge after 3am dash to save kitten
A response to the cyclist menace
Three cheers for Molly Norris but also a few small grumbles
“Is this a case of us operant-conditioning them or them operant-conditioning us?”
Me taking pictures in a funny way while it’s still allowed
Was it Sweeney?  And what else were they trying to suppress?
Johanna Kaschke versus the Deluded Leftwinger
Quotes dump
The Instadaughter on the morals of actors
Why I object to Madam Scotland and why I don’t
Snapping the police
Photographers in bother
It all depends on whether there is anything worth Twittering
Photoing the Police
Edinburgh’s Billion Monkeys must be chivalrous!
How patent lawyers destroyed a mathematician
Twickenham shop attacked by the Dark Side of The Force
Michael Jennings on private law in Hollywood
Alisher Usmanov is now better known for being nasty
Links and guns
“That’s not Minnie Mouse - that’s a cat with large ears”
A double cricket surprise
Heh indeed
The rights and wrongs of multiple marriage
Zong
Leon Louw talks about the habits of highly effective countries