Thumbs up from me. Beaut special effects. Everyone is amazed at the CGI which shaves years off Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen’s faces in the flashback at the start of the movie. You might be offended if you’re a comic book purist.
The World Cup is just around the corner and that means Fantasy League is also starting up again. 5 pounds to enter. Our friends & enemies league, the not-named-by-me “Kransky of the Overflow” league is forming – PIN 1129 if you want to join.
BTW it’s half-time in the Australia-Greece friendly and we’re up 1-0.
Don’t see what the fuss is about. It’s an ok movie. If you’ve read the book, the movie is skippable.
Mission: Impossible 3 was pretty good, I’d recommend it.
A courier came to deliver a package for me on Monday. Only, I wasn’t at home, I was at work, so he left a nice little red Australia Post card on it telling me they’d brought the package back to my local post office and I could collect it during the week. The only problem is that Australia Post only opens from 9-5 on weekdays, which is incredibly inconvenient since there’s no way I can get to Kingsford from work during that time. Normally, you can sign on the back of the red card to authorise an agent to go and pick it up for you (a task which then inevitably falls to my flatmate). However, the post office wasn’t allowing agents to pick it up in this case – only personal signatures, which left me in a bit of a dilemma.
So I did a bit of thinking and realised that a Power of Attorney could do the trick where agency could not. Normally a PoA is used to operate other people’s bank accounts or sign contracts on someone’s behalf and other significant things like that… it gives a lot of authority. All I wanted to do was to pick up my damn mail.
Luckily, the NSW Powers of Attorney Act provides a standard form PoA which I cut and pasted into a Word document. Ten minutes later, I had an instant PoA made out to Robin which had a lifespan of two days and only allowed him to sign for my mail. (I even got Robin to witness the thing, which most probably invalidates the whole instrument since I don’t think the attorney can witness the PoA.) But no matter, it worked and I got my mail in the end.
My parents ditched cold and drizzly Australia today and have gone for a 2 week cruise. It departs from England and stops at Oslo, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki, St Petersburg and Tallinn (that’s Estonia’s capital). Then they’re flying back via Bangkok (again?!) and Singapore. I can tell they’re getting close to retirement age because Dad has never taken a mid-year holiday overseas in 30 years.
The finale for three of the last four normal-format seasons of The Amazing Race (seasons 5, 6, 7 and 9) have all finished in a similar way. Out of the three teams remaining, there’s one laggard team which is never in the running, leaving two other teams to battle it out. One team is ultra-competitve (eg, Colin and Christie in 5, Rob and Amber in 7) and and competent, the other team is a “nice” one which wins the audience over (eg, Chip and Kim in 5, Uchenna and Joyce in 7). And, gratifyingly, the nice one wins in a nail-biting finish.
I’m… happy to tell you that Season 9 follows this format. I like to call it the season of first world countries, since they travel through all the G8 countries except for the UK, France and Canada, and also go through Australia. Despite this, it was a very enjoyable season. The Japan leg was a blast to watch. Now the US TV season is well and truly over for the shows I like to watch… have to wait two months before the next season kicks off.
Studying for a Trust Accounting exam is not the most engaging of activities, and when you’re seated in front of a computer, the mouse tends to wander. Making the blog-rounds, I came across Ros’ post on an NY Times article, “Scan this book!” (presumably a pun on Abbie Hoffman’s Steal This Book).
It’s a visionary article looking at the changing nature of how information is created, stored and accessed today and perhaps in the future. It ties in the development of intellectual property laws (mainly copyright) with how technology changed the way business was done for content creators. It hasn’t been difficult to see that technological change has permitted IP laws to be broken with impunity. It’s happened ever since the VCR allowed people to (illegally) tape their shows from the TV – incidentally, a hollow law which only now has been fixed by Parliament, and only a partial fix at that (you can now tape TV shows but you have to delete them once you watch the tape once, and you can’t lend the tape to a friend, which means you can’t get a friend to tape something for you). Of course, no one can really do anything about what you do with your VCR at home.
MP3s arrived on the scene in the 90s, dramatically changing the music industry for consumers. It was “free” music for everyone – no more did you have to shell out $30 for 12 songs on a CD. But it didn’t change the music industry for corporations. They started suing everyone, which did nothing but earn them the eternal ire of consumers and a few thousand dollars from kids. Most consumers found it fairly clear that the corporations would have to change the way they did business if they wanted to address this problem of perpetual lawbreaking. But where technology changes quickly and consumers adapt swiftly, corporations are much more stodgy. Apple, with its iTunes music stores caught on quicker than the music industry. The law will also change in time, once the large corporations change their business models and talk with the Government.
Anyway, I found the article very thought provoking, and it is fertile stimulus material for a good discussion on quite a lot of issues. However, this post is not the time for that.
The article talks a lot about a single universal library where everything is referenced, cross-linked, laden with metadata and incredibly accessible – an exciting concept which I’m sure we’ll see an approximation of within decades. However, I’m surprised that this hasn’t been done yet in the legal field from the perspective of a lawyer.
Law is the ultimate in information-intensive professions (as opposed to data-intensive, which I’m going to define as an unprocessed or raw form of information). Legal materials are all words and concepts and there’s a huge volume of the stuff. Searching through it can be very time consuming. But it’s also incredibly structured, so it’s waiting to be sorted out and combined. Wikilaw or Google Law, anyone?
First, you have your primary materials – legislation (the stuff Parliament makes) and cases (the stuff judges write). Plenty of metadata available there for sorting, categorising and creating some sense out of it all. You have secondary materials too. You can find out why Parliament enacted legislation through explanatory memoranda and second reading speeches. You can find more about cases by reading court transcripts (they type all that stuff down!), and other cases which reference other cases. Then you have traditional academic material – journal articles, legal encyclopedias, dictionaries and so on. All of these resources form an incestuous relation with each other, and they are all meticulously proofread, formatted and structured which makes handling them on an individual basis easy.
Now don’t get me wrong – we have big publishing houses like LexisNexis and Westlaw providing lots of resources. Case citators for cross-referencing cases and to a limited extent journal articles. Statute and case databases (but with truly horrible search engines). However, they are all poorly interlinked.
Let’s say I want to find out what the law is regarding a specific issue. Maybe it’s whether it’s legal to play live music on top of a building and impersonate a band (I have been reading through ImprovEverywhere lately!). So I figure there’s an issue with noise, and I need to find laws on noise or nuisance. I have no idea where I’d find that so I look through a Halsbury’s laws (online) – a legal encyclopedia and find it refers me to a section in the Nuisance Act (imaginary – just using it for the sake of this example) but doesn’t give more information. I pull up a statute search engine (such as LawLex) to find out the exact wording of the section in the Nuisance Act. It creates an offence for a person to create unreasonable noise. But I want to find out what would be “unreasonable” – that is, what do courts reckon “unreasonable” means in a practical sense? I can look at Parliamentary intent through a second reading speech (which is a spiel by the MP introducing the new law on why he or she is introducing it and why he or she reckons the country will be better because of it). I can also look at case law (among other resources).
If I’m lucky LawLex will link me to the second reading speech. But the Nuisance Act has been around for decades and LawLex doesn’t have a link to the speech for an Act that old. So then I need to find out the name of the corresponding Bill for the Act and find the hansard (Parliamentary transcript) that corresponds to the date the Bill was read in Parliament. Unfortunately, the hansard hasn’t been digitised yet, so I need to hunt for a hard copy.
That’s not convenient so I look for cases referencing that section of the Nuisance Act. I can use CaseBase, FirstPoint, maybe even Austlii. I could try a criminal law textbook, but one isn’t available online.
Ok, we’ll stop with the example there. If all that is confusing and seems time consuming, that’s because it is. One hundred and one different online resources, poorly connected and disjointed to find the answer to a relatively simple question. Yet from a human’s perspective, it is all logically structured. It’s easy to see what resources are linked, and know what to look for (“all materials referring to the word ‘reasonable’ in section X of the Nuisance Act”). It’s just that no one has put it all together.
It wouldn’t be difficult, just labour intensive – but even then you could open it up to the Internet public for help (perhaps not Wikipedia-style, but something along those lines). You don’t even run into copyright issues with the primary materials (statutes and cases are all copyrighted, but the Government is very liberal when it comes to licensing such materials). Austlii has taken advantage of this, but let’s face it – their search engine is crap.
Hell, if Google can make something as monstrously unstructured as the 100 billion pages of the net searchable in a handful of milliseconds, why can’t a legal publisher do the same for law materials? To compare the task – if internet search engines didn’t exist and I asked you to find a pages on, say, how to learn how to program in Java – how would you even begin to work out how to search the internet? What sort of search algorithm would you use to sift through 100 billion pages? But if I ask the same sort of question about a legal issue, the search algorithm is a lot more apparent (to a lawyer, anyhow) because the materials are already categorised.
The organisation that successfully consolidates everything legal into a usable service with the intuitiveness of something like Google will earn a packet. Just invite me on board first.
Spent an hour during lunchtime earlier this week wandering around the photo exhibition at the State Library. With full captioning and large format prints, it’s a much different experience to checking them out online. The photographs are all quite amazing, especially when you try and imagine what was happening around the photographer when they took the shot. The exhibition is spread across three rooms, and it’s interesting the general mood created by each room. The first room has a lot of sports photographs – mostly bright, cheery, inspirational and humourous shots. The middle room is a lot more sombre, with photographs from major news stories. The aftermath of the 2004 tsunami. Hurricane Katrina. The Pakistan earthquake. The London bombings. And lots and lots of woe from Africa – both civil unrest and natural disasters. There’s also disturbing series about Guatemalan youth gangs, including a shot with a decapitated head lying on a floor. The third room has the portraiture, arts and entertainment, and daily life categories – photos which balance it all out.
The exhibition is free and is well worth a visit before it closes at the end of the month. You’ll need about an hour.
It’s Mothers’ Day today. I took mum out to dinner last night at Buon Ricordo, an Italian restaurant in Paddington. I just have to say that parking around the area is damn near impossible to find (at least on a Saturday night).
Buon Ricordo is a well regarded 2-hatted Italian restaurant run for almost 20 years by Armando Percuoco, a character who at one stage in the night came upstairs and announced, “Making food is like making love to a woman! You have to take it nice and slow… but unlike women, you’re always guaranteed a result with food!” We ate a la carte, although they do have a degustation menu which doesn’t appear on their printed menu so I assume you have to ask waitstaff for it. It’s safe to say that it’s among the best Italian restaurants in Sydney, out of the hundreds there are. Their signature dish is the fettuccine al tartufovo, which comes topped with a fried egg which has been infused with truffle (vaguely similar to how Chinese pei daan are prepared, but without any discolouration) and parmesan which is freshly grated for you at the table. They also toss the pasta for you and when the egg yolk is broken, the truffle aroma immediately bursts into the air. Yum.
The interior decor is warm and pleasingly well lit. Buon Ricordo seats a decent amount of people on two levels, but it’s not a noisy restaurant. Service is efficient and courteous. Apart from the issue with getting there and finding parking, if you’re in the mood to splurge a bit for great Italian cooking, I’d recommend this place. Expect to spend about $100pp for a three course a la carte meal, not including drinks.
After reading this article about McDonald’s gluttony, Doz and I decided to go through Maccas and perform a little independent verification. It’s been a while since they’ve offered the Triple Cheeseburger, so we decided to improvise and order a Triple Quarter Pounder (couldn’t quite bring ourselves to go for a full pound) – three 110gm patties and slices of cheese. We pulled up at the drive-thru window:
“Hi, could we get two medium value meals with quarter pounders – but could we have three beef patties and three cheese slices?”
The person at the register a tiny Indonesian girl, who was busy punching in the order paused and looked up.
“So you um… want quarter pounders, but with uh… three patties of beef?”
“And three slices of cheese.”
This brief look of repulsion crossed over her face and then she was trying her hardest not to smile. She looked down at her screen and started taking deep breaths. She pressed a few buttons.
“That will be uhhh… $9.55 for each meal,” she finally said, mouth crinkled at the edges.
“Yeah yeah, we’re hungry.”
We got to the second window and another girl stuck her head out. “Hey are you the guys that ordered the modified quarter pounder meals?”
“It’ll be three minutes. Please wait in the waiting zone.”
About five minutes later, another person emerged with our meal. Despite the fact that there was no one else waiting for anything outside the drive-thru queue, he asked, “What are you waiting for?”
“Uh, quarter pounder meals? … With three patties?”
Snigger. “Heh. Yep, here you go.”
The weight of the bag was heavy, and the burgers were dense.
The Budget was delivered tonight. With our large budget surplus, there’s plenty of spending to go around. Heaps of tax cuts – most grads like myself will have about $10/week extra to play with. Of course there are concerns that the extra cash everyone gets is going to fuel demand in the economy and push up inflation and perhaps interest rates. Luckily, I don’t have a mortgage (and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change anytime soon).
The two guys finally made it out of the Beaconsfield mine after 14 days. Great end to the story.
Site is looking a bit lonely, so I’m going to chuck in a series of disjointed and somewhat random sentences: Got around to watching Firefly. It really is a fantastic series, pity it was cut so short. Getting really cold in the mornings, and it’s not even Winter yet. After five years, I finally tried the Colombian restaurant down the road (La Cumbia), it’s not bad, but I can’t say I’ll be back there anytime soon. Went to paintball on Anzac Day, which is sort of an unpatriotic thing to do because it’s not like you can pretend that your team are the Anzacs storming the beach (if you’re on the winning side). Action Paintball has got a good variety of game scenarios, but I still prefer Heartbreak Ridge. Saw Mission Impossible 3 – thought it was pretty decent, although Maggie Q’s Cantonese is shocking (and that’s coming from me!). Doing Trust Accounting for College of Law – it’s bringing back bad memories of first year Accounting.
The site’s photo album is on the fritz. Was working one moment, gone the next. Pesky hosting company did something to it. I’ll get around to fixing it one day, but as I suspect it requires a complete reinstall, that one day may be some time off. I’ll post on the front page instead. Here’s some photos from Suma’s camera of the aftermath of this year’s Lachs moot. Bit more lively than last year!