Doz sent me this link about a slight rephrasing of White House headlines.
They got him. SoBig.F is much more annoying because it’s worse than spam, and spammers are already a good enough reason to reintroduce capital punishment :).
Desperate times (finding you can’t celebrate your kid’s birthday because all the go-carts have been rented out) call for desperate measures (putting on a striptease for your son and his friends instead).
Heh, I would love one of these… Roomba is an automated vacuum cleaner. They came out a while ago, but recently announced a couple newer models to their line. Hell, I’d be “vacuuming” every second day with one of these things, just for the novelty of it haha! Alas, they’re not available in Australia.
The new Matrix Revolutions trailer is out, but it’s pretty much the same as the one you would have seen if you stayed behind after the credits of Reloaded.
Every once in a while, I’ll make a post which interests almost nobody. This is almost certainly one of them, so just ignore. Despite being half-asleep through most of it, we had an interesting Crim Law class today on the defence of provocation. That is, if someone swears at you and you kill them, will you be able to claim that you were provoked and thus mitigate your murder charge to a manslaughter sentence? It was a little confusing, so I needed to put some notes down on paper (well, digital paper, at least) after class to get my thoughts in order, and that’s what’s appearing on this page, for no particular reason other than it’s my own musings and I don’t have anywhere better to put them.
Australian law currently imposes a two-step test for whether a person was legally provoked into killing someone. In Stingel, the whole court determined that the first stage is a subjective test where it must be proven (by the prosecution beyond reasonable doubt) that the accused actually did lose self-control, given the particular circumstances and particular disposition of the accused. The second stage was an objective test where it must be proven that in those same circumstances, an “ordinary person” (not “reasonable person”, as loss of self-control implies a loss of rational reasoning ability) would have lost self-control to the extent of killing. That is, a subjective test.
The first test is logical. Let’s say that someone has an inordinate amount of composure, more so than the ordinary person (we’ll get to the peculiarities of that term in a moment) such that on certain provoking circumstances this hypothetical ordinary person would kill, but this super tolerant person would not. Without this subjective loss of self-control test, the latter person would be able to kill the person provoking, while claiming it was justified (or excused – this distinction in terminology is unimportant) because an ordinary person would have done the same thing. Clearly this is illogical, given that provocation is all about loss of self-control. If the person did not lose self-control and formed an intent to commit murder, then that is murder, regardless of what the ordinary person would have done. Naturally, this line of argument is rare, as the defence will try to make out the defendant to be as unstable as possible.
The second test is far more problematic. It basically accepts and consequently excuses the fact that human beings sometimes do lose control when provoked, and as a result, absolves them of some fault with regards to the commission of homicide. This test accepts that beyond a certain level of provocation, a person will snap such that they no longer have a choice in how they react. Where, though, should the law set this bar and hence decree where a person can no longer determine their reactions to an onslaught of verbal abuse/gestures, or sexual promiscuity from an ex-lover, or prolonged abuse from an oppressive spouse?
One solution is to say that everyone is different, and the test should thus be subjective. The fact that someone lost control is a relative thing, and we all have different tolerance levels. In effect, it ditches the second test altogether. Naturally, this is highly problematic given that it is hard evidentially to determine if someone actually lost self-control if they say they did.
It is also more realistic to ascribe some sort of minimum standard which people should adhere to. The fact that someone is unusually prone to fits of violent anger should not mean they receive greater leniency from the law. Hence, this is where the “ordinary person” standard enters: the jury has to imagine the situation as if they were a hypothetical ordinary person. What is an ordinary person? How can a single point of reference cover the wide variety of defendants that appear before the courts? Stingel provided for the ordinary person standard to be take into account the defendant’s age, since age determined maturity and incidentally a teenager would react differently from a middle-aged adult. The idea of attributing different standards to different ages is also found in the notion of doli incapax (eg: Whitty).
If the notion of age being the only factor differentiating between different standards of ordinary people seems somewhat restrictive, you wouldn’t be alone. McHugh J’s dissenting judgment in Masciantonio argued that “the ethnic and cultural background of the accused can be taken into account in determining whether an ordinary person would have lost his or her self-control as the result of the deceased’s provocation”. In England, the House of Lords has actually progressed down this path by holding that other factors apart from age and gender should be considered when assessing the ordinary person: R v Smith  UKHL 49.
This notion is also not without significant difficulties. What other factors should be also taken into account? Physiological differences? Ethnical differences? Religious beliefs? And to what extent should they play a mitigating role in assessing provocation? If Masciantonio’s rage at his son-in-law was partially influenced by his Greek ethnicity and culture, and he was to be provoked because of that, would that mean that all Greeks would be allowed to do the same act and successfully claim provocation? Would there be any consistency in jury verdicts at all, due to differing individual opinions about how a potential myriad of characteristics should be weighed up against each other?
In Green, the members of the Court themselves highlighted this problem. Green, a 22 year old man, claimed provocation after responding to sexual advances and groping from a male friend by punching him a couple dozen times, stabbing him several times with a pair of scissors and then bashing his head into a wall. Apparently Green’s onslaught was partially elicited by images of his father who used to molest his sisters when he was younger. The trial judge directed the jury that they should ignore Green’s family history in considering what the “ordinary man” would do. The Criminal Court of Appeal held that this was an error, and the jury should have been allowed to consider Green’s family history, but still held that Green’s conduct was less than that expected of the “ordinary man”. The High Court applied Stingel with regards to the second step test, but each judge came to differing conclusions. The majority of the High Court disagreed with the Court of Appeal, saying that it was a question of fact whether Green reacted in the way an ordinary man would react that should be left to a jury, where it was possible they could decide either way.
Gummow and Kirby JJ, in dissent, argued that there was no way that a reasonable jury would find that the defendant acted as an ordinary man would in those circumstances. Kirby J, thinking that the killing was elicited by the fact that it was a man cracking on to the defendant, asserted that not responding with homicide to homosexual advances was part of the ordinary man standard. He further asserted that even though this was a homosexual advance, it was something that should not be taken into account for the first step test (I think?). (One can but speculate that Kirby J’s motives behind his judgment were influenced by his personal orientation and views, which of course is the reality for many judgments.)
The other alternative is to abolish the defence of provocation altogether, dispensing with what may be considered as an anachronism dating back from the time a man could kill another man who was having an affair with his wife due to his honour being stained. However, there are still cases in which conceivably people may be so provoked, that there is some justification or excuse for their actions, eg, Battered Wife Syndrome. If overridden by statute, provisions for provocation may initiate a category based approach to provocation, which is not too desirable given the wide variety of circumstances that surround individual cases.
My opinion is that provocation should be retained, along with the ordinary man test. The ordinary man test, if given too many qualifying attributes, would become extremely convoluted. Yet, to have age as the sole attribute seems overly restrictive and unfair. It would seem that Lord Steyn’s dissenting judgment in Luc Thiet Thuan makes the most sense to me: “it may prove difficult to say where the line should be drawn. We ought not to shrink for this reason from recognising a rational and just development. The traditional common law answer is apposite: any difficult borderline cases will be considered if and when they occur.” Taking things on a case by case basis seems fairer, although it still has issues with consistency of justice, due to different cases accounting for different attributes of the accused. Australian law as it stands, however, is still with the tests in Stingel.
Admin Law test tomorrow, so brief update before I sleep. Our aquariums have been fairly dull over the last few months, each yabby having its own tank. Jess bought Dave another crab today. It’s absolutely tiny, so instead of dropping it in with a yabby and leaving the crab to its tender mercies, we shifted the two yabbies into the big tank, and the small crab into the small one. I wonder if the yabbies will get along. I give them two days before the big one starts abusing the little one.
In other news, I now think the talk with Jess a couple nights ago can be attributed (almost) entirely to alcohol, especially upon hearing it’s the first time she’s actually been drunk :). I guess a few people actually get more articulate with booze.
Uni work is beginning to pile up. Two assignments and a class presentation next week. Have a catchup dinner tomorrow night, judging the PwC Mgt Comp for Wednesday night… how oh how am I going to get my readings done?!
Big 21st Birthday greets to my flatmate Dave! The actual date is tomorrow, but he held the party last night. It was very enjoyable. Since I would imagine everyone there was too plastered to remember much of anything, here’s my blow-by-blow account of how the not-so-venerable evening unfolded. Remember people, we have photos. We also have videos.
6.30pm: The time rolls around for people to begin arriving. Dave starts to pace up and down waiting for “the scum” to pick us up, muttering something about the unreliability of Malaysians.
6.45pm: Dave starts to worry that he’s been stood up by everyone…
Salon called Dijkstra’s periodic writings a proto-blog. Apparently he used to keep a series of sequentially numbered letters which discussed a manner of issues, musings and notes to send to a few dozen of his colleagues:
Like most of us, Edsger always believed it a scientist’s duty to maintain a lively correspondence with his scientific colleagues. To a greater extent than most of us, he put that conviction into practice. For over four decades, he mailed copies of his consecutively numbered technical notes, trip reports, insightful observations, and pungent commentaries, known collectively as “EWDs”, to several dozen recipients in academia and industry. Thanks to the ubiquity of the photocopier and the wide interest in Edsger’s writings, the informal circulation of many of the EWDs eventually reached into the thousands.
Sort of like the Leicester Codex, except that Leonardo couldn’t really send his pages off to anyone else (not that he would have wanted to, given the code he wrote in). His archive of writings is available here: http://www.cs.utexas.edu/users/EWD/. There are a few interesting notes amongst all the EWDs.
It’s reminded me that I should follow my own advice and stick with Nokias. However, it’s slowly grown on me. The T610 has a bristling feature set, which was its main selling point for me. The screen is large and quite vibrant, and although some have complained the phone is virtually unusable in direct sunlight, I can’t agree. The display fades in sunlight, as does any colour LCD, but it is still visible. The clock that pops up after a few seconds of inactivity, however, is worthless due to it being too dim to make out in just about all lighting conditions. The call reception quality is a small notch down from the Nokias, but for all intents and purposes, it doesn’t make that big a difference unless you’re out in the bush. However, one gripe is that the SE doesn’t have a loudspeaker. The volume of phone calls is fine when turned up to the max, but I have come to rely on my mobile as an alarm clock, and my old 6210 had an amazingly loud alarm. I don’t much care for polyphonic ring tones (the T610 can play 32 sounds simultaneously) and was a little annoyed to discover there were no simple “ring ring” alarm or ring tones. When it comes to ringing, I’m very much a pragmatist – my only requirement is that I have to hear it. The camera takes decent photos for what’s expected of a mobile phone camera. There’s Bluetooth, GPRS, WAP, e-mail checking and all the connectivity I wanted on a phone. Unfortunately data rates are 2c per kB ($20/MB), and data charges are in addition to any unused call credits you have on your plan so it must be used sparingly. MMSes (pictorial equivalent of SMSes) are 75c each, which is not cheap either. The phone is a nice size, with a simple attractive minimalist design. Some would say it’s boring, but when Nokia keeps bringing out phones with weirder and weirder designs, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Battery life is heavily affected by phone usage, the average charge for me lasting up to 5-6 days, which is not stunning, but sufficient.
What lets this phone down the most is its usability. It is pretty awful, compared to Nokia’s time-honoured user interface. It’s just not logical, is really fiddly, and requires too many clicks to do simple things. Simple things such as setting up speed dial, and even sending SMSes takes far too many clicks. The joystick is a bit annoying too in that sometimes it clicks in when you mean to move it down or up, and sometimes it moves down or up when you click in. If you’re upgrading to this phone from a Nokia, it’ll be frustrating, not because you have to retrain yourself, but because some of the ways Sony-Ericsson makes you do things are just plain cumbersome and illogical. One example off the top of my head is that there is ample screen space on the default screen. When you enable an alarm, it displays the alarm time in the place of the date. Therefore, when you set an alarm, you no longer can see the date, even though there’s about 8 square centimetres spare where they could have placed the alarm time instead. Another flaw is that it doesn’t display the time of missed calls, if they were missed before midnight of the same day. The phone definitely needs more than the 2mb of memory it has, as well. I would have bought the Nokia 7250i, but alas it has no Bluetooth.
A bunch of friends that like to write and I have started up a site called The Backbench. It’s basically a repository for opinionated articles on virtually any topic that we hopefully will attract people to read. The web is the best medium for things like this. With luck, it’ll eventually be a place where others submit articles and essays to as well. If you write a decent essay at school or uni, why just restrict your audience to your teacher or lecturer? Check it out!
Really fun movie! The Napster jokes are hilarious and it even has a cameo of Shawn Fanning in it.
This was an impressive film. You can always approach a film like this with a cynical eye, or you can go with the flow and become immersed in it. If you do the latter, this film is very powerful. If you do the latter, the effect is lost, but the movie’s core sentiments are still true at heart. Possible spoilers ahead, but it’s not the plot you’re watching this movie for, it’s the themes. I rarely lapse into idealistic rambling, but I don’t think lapsing into idealistic moods occasionally is a bad thing at all.
The film dives straight into it. A military team led by Bruce Willis is sent in to extract “foreign nationals” (ie: Americans) from an African country that has plunged into another brutal civil war/rebel uprising. It’s telling that it could be virtually any African nation, but this one happens to be Nigeria (and what ironic timing, given Nigeria’s current involvement in Liberia). The team’s primary object is to get a doctor, played by Monica Belucci, to safety. When she refuses to leave without taking a bundle of Nigerian refugees along with her, an apparently straightforward assignment quickly turns perilous as Willis’ conscious elects for the moral high road. Unfortunately the moral high road is extremely long and deadly.
Far too often we hear about ethnic cleansing and African warlords massacring civilian men, women and children. It may appear in the news for a few days. Soon, however, it is forgotten. If a similar event happened in Western society, just a single case of systematic ethnic cleansing and mutilation, the news would not leave the front pages for weeks. This is simply true because we do not regard genocide as something particularly unexpected in impoverished nations. Something like that happening on home soil, however, is unthinkable. That’s unfortunately the harsh reality of the world, and hearing about it through the news is such a sterile way of hearing what are truly “crimes against humanity”. However, regardless of how expected, or unexpected such atrocities are, they are universally held as atrocities, and it is perhaps saddening that they do not get as much attention as they warrant.
One of the strongest scenes for me was when the cavalry gets called in and two US jets firebomb a horde of murderous rebels. It wasn’t because of the pyrotechnics, or the bodies flying up in the air, or the feeling of “you fuckers got what you deserve”. After seeing a band of ethnic cleansing rebels raze a village, rape the women, kill the men and children, we realise the huge power imbalance between those with small arms and those without. The way the vulnerability of the innocent are “exploited” as they are exterminated is terrifying. Then we see a similar power imbalance as the jets fire their rockets and in one fell swoop kill a few hundred soldiers. The first world and the third world are two extraordinarily different places. The former wields an enormous amount of power, and it is scary to think about what could happen, or does happen, if used irresponsibly.
Let’s not kid anyone. This movie is not enough to galvanise very many people into doing anything about it. It’s still too remote, too distant. Hopefully, what the movie does is make people think about it, to imagine what it would be like to live in a world that is otherwise unimaginable. That would already be a good start.
Walked into this movie blind because Identity had sold out just as we got to the counter, no thanks to the couple in front who couldn’t decide what movie they wanted to see. It’s a lesser known flick with an A-list cast (Sam Rockwell, Drew Barrymore, George Clooney and Julia Roberts), basically a biography about Chuck Barris. Too lazy to write a review, so read what others had to say. I’m in general agreement.
This is one of those movies you watch on TV because you have nothing else to do, and when it finishes you wonder if your two hours would have been better spent doing nothing at all. It has a bit of charm, I’ll admit, but it grates after a while.
Does your computer keep giving you impromptu 60 second restart countdowns? Cleanup instructions. Microsoft Patch for RPC vulnerability. If you’re having problems getting on to the net because the worm keeps restarting your computer, my solution is:
– Start menu, all programs, administrative tools, Services
– Look for RPC service (NOT RPC locator service). Double-click it.
– Recovery tab
– For First, second and subsequent failures, change drop-down boxes to “Restart the Service” instead of “Restart the Computer”
– Press OK.
– Also, it doesn’t hurt to end the “msblast.exe” process in the Task manager.
This should give you enough time to download Microsoft’s patch. (Of course, if you’re reading this, you’re already connected to the net…) Very reminiscent of the CodeRed/Nimda worm that went around a couple years ago. I can already hear the Linux people laughing it up again.
Dave and I lost a chunk of sleep last night. Someone buzzed our doorbell at abour 12.30am, which is not a completely unusual occurrence, save for the fact that we weren’t expecting anyone. I picked up the handset which links with the speaker at the front entrance to our apartment complex and was greeted by a foreign voice on the other end of the line. It was a rather strange voice. A woman’s – strange accent of undiscernable origin with a very trembly/warbly tenor – not trembly as you’d find in the elderly (she sounded middle-aged), but more a peculiar, anxious type of trembly. Anyway, she intoned that she was after a certain address, which wasn’t ours, so I just told Her that she had the wrong address. Hearing nothing else on the other end, I hung up.
Now, this requires a bit of contextualisation to understand why what happened next makes us seem like a bunch of pansies. At the time the doorbell rang, Dave and I were watching this rather surreal B-grade thriller/horror flick on the TV. We’d tuned in half way to find that this stewardess was wandering around a plane in which everyone had mysteriously died (thus leaving the plane pilotless). Unfortunate timing, given the mood it set.
The doorbell rang again, and I decided to ignore it – I told Her once already it was the wrong address. Our doorbell is such that it will ring continuously as long as the button is depressed. A few seconds later, the doorbell rang again and kept ringing until Dave got annoyed and went to answer it.
“No you’ve got the wrong address… what? A parcel? You what? … Hey Stu she wants to deliver a parcel.”
“A parcel?! At this hour, you gotta be kidding, tell her to come back another day.”
“Err, can you come back at another time? … Really? … She says she came yesterday afternoon already.”
“Huh? Whatever, who in their right mind goes around making deliveries at 12.30 in the morning?”
“Look we don’t know anything about a delivery, can you come back at a reasonable hour? What? … Hey she says she wants to talk with us.”
“Man, this sounds dodgy, tell her to get lost.”
“No thanks, come again, good bye.”
A few moments later, the bell rang again, but we ignored it. So now we were a little spooked, because the situation was turning bizarre. Over the next full hour, the doorbell rang sporadically and Dave and I began to get increasingly edgy. Nothing good could come out of this. It wasn’t long before we could hear the loony downstairs buzzing other apartments as well. Luckily, no one let Her into the building. Dave remarked that while he was speaking with the mystery woman that he heard other voices in the background. We decided to go to sleep, but had the slight problem of the racket the doorbell was making. Since we were too chicken to tramp out onto the balcony, wave a dragonboat oar about and yell, “You want some of this, bitch?! Keep ringing that doorbell and we’ll come down and give you some!!”, we ended up taping down the phonehook, smothering the receiver with two towels and shoving the whole lot into a gym bag so we didn’t have to put up with the infernal buzzing noise. Then I called a friend who lived across the road, waking him up in the process, and asked him if he could see the person at our door from his balcony. Unforunately, neither he nor we had a clear line of sight down to the front entrance. If someone had let her into the apartment complex, we’d have called the cops, but luckily it didn’t come down to that. Dave borrowed one of the oars from my room for “protection”, and then we eventually got to sleep.
Got relocated today up to L26! Window seat, semi-decent view of the city. Should bring my camera along next week.
I think the post-high school maturation period definitely changes a person. My initial response to the video was that if I had a teacher like that, I’d slap her silly. I love it when she says, “you’re trying to cover up your insolence, your defiance, your laziness, your apathy, your lethargy and your bad attitude!” and then pauses like she’s expecting applause because she learnt some extra vocab from her “training as a university student”. But then I thought back, and the world appears a lot different to a 15 year old (even if you’re taller than the teacher). School’s pretty much run like a dictatorship, and I sure have personally come across teachers that were much more fiery than the one caught on video. One particularly memorable occasion was witnessing a student being interrogated by a teacher. He was so hysterical, that as he shouted, a long glob of saliva slopped out of his mouth onto the floor and he kept screaming without missing a beat. In year 4 I remember our teacher shrieking at someone because he wasn’t ruling straight lines – she took his ruler and snapped it. In year 6 I remember my maths teacher had this abnormal abhorrence towards beeping digital watches. On more than one occasion, some hapless student’s watch would beep on the hour and the teacher would confiscate the watch. Not only that, but he’d throw the watch onto the ground, then proceed to place his foot on it. The watch, subjected to the not inconsiderable weight of the teacher, would then transform into a work of abstract art, never to beep again. Then you have Chemistry teachers purporting to squirt acid at talking students – it wasn’t acid, but legally speaking you’d be able to sue the teacher for assault. And don’t get me started on cadet camps! Ah, those were the days. If only Clie PDAs were available back then (not that I could’ve afforded one)… but I do have some tapes of some lessons secreted away somewhere, and I also recall a friend getting so incensed at a teacher’s gruffness that he taped the lesson to use in a complaint against the teacher (but never followed up with it).
I passed the link on to Dad, who is coincidentally an alumni of Raffles Institute. His abrupt response: “I didn’t think that it was that bad. I have seen teachers that are worse.” heheh
Also, there’s a point in the video where I swear I’m hearing this from the teacher: “I said, ‘Actions speaks [sic] louder than words!’ So you are a sly fucking old brat. Aren’t you? That is using the literary language from my training as a university student.”
My ears must be deceiving me, but I really can’t figure out what she’s saying other than the profane phrasing above. Maybe it’s the Singlish accent :).
Fog Screen technology. From what I gather it’s an area with fog particles suspended in a special “laminar” airflow which is non-turbulent and fairly uniform, so much so that you can project an image onto it. The image can be translucent or opaque. Imagine the applications! I can see these things popping up in clubs and bars all over town; curtains; opaque, but insubstantial doors! (Thanks Vic)
James Bond is a stylish hero you know. Whenever people ask him of his name, he answers in his own branded style – “Bond, James Bond”.
Last year Bond came to Bangladesh for a quick visit. In Noakhali Swimming Complex, he met Pasha.
Pasha asked: Hey, what’s your name?
James Bond replied: Bond. James Bond.
Then Bond asked Pasha the same: And what’s yours?
Rahman Choudhury Pasha
Saidur Rahman Choudhury Pasha
Ibne Saidur Rahman Choudhury Pasha
Khan Ibne Saidur Rahman Choudhury Pasha
Rahman Khan Ibne Saidur Rahman Choudhury Pasha
Fazlur Rahman Khan Ibne Saidur Rahman Choudhury Pasha
Mohammad Fazlur Rahman Khan Ibne Saidur Rahman Choudhury Pasha
Kalam Mohammad Fazlur Rahman Khan Ibne Saidur Rahman Choudhury Pasha
Abul Kalam Mohammad Fazlur Rahman Khan Ibne Saidur Rahman Choudhury Pasha.
From that day on, whenever people ask Bond of his name, he simply replies James Bond.
Asking on behalf of a friend: Anyone know Flash? Does anyone know how to stop a Flash file if it detects the computer it’s running on is a certain platform (like a Macintosh)? Basically if I have a Flash file that I run independently from a CD-ROM, I want it to check the platform it’s running on. If it’s a certain platform, I want the run to stop. Otherwise the flash file will play. Solutions would be very much appreciated.