Oi like Zummerzet.
I've been in Taunton all day. Well, or on trains to and back from Taunton (and if I ever find the moron whose decision to go rambling on the high speed line somewhere between Pewsey and Newbury meant we did that stretch at about five miles an hour on the way back they're going to wish God's Wonderful Railway hadn't bothered to slow us down). A vaguely existensialist hearing, as my sole purpose in appearing was to ask the other side (or the one of the three other sides whose responsibility it was) why I was there, a question which they failed to answer once I'd pointed out that the relevant rule in the CPR said "may" not "must", and then to get them to pay for the fact I was there.
Are you all lost yet? Good, proves there's a purpose to my professional existence. Anyway, gorgeous part of the world, even the weather was significantly better than in London, and to my vague surprise Castle Cary does actually exist apart from during the first weekend after the summer solstice (when it's the railway station for the Glastonbury Festival). Having done my stuff discovered there was an hour and a half before the next train, so wandered round the Museum of Somerset and the church of St Mary Magdalene.
Few bits of linkage: the Law Lords kick a man when he's down and good for them: the UK's answer to Guantanamo -though to be fair nowhere near as bad in practice or principle as that hellhole- was something of which we should have been ashamed. Given that a normal judicial committee of the House of Lords consists of five members, seven being called in when they're considering upsetting the applecart, the fact they had nine sitting was something of a hint there was a possibility the shit might hit the fan. When I was a pupil we had an appeal to their Lordships where we were asking them to extend a principle in a rather dubious case they'd decided some years before still further. When, two days before the hearing, word came down that their Lordships required an addititional two copies of the papers, ie making seven, we began to get worried (as it happens they stuck with five and we still lost).
ETA: coo, someone at Bailii is in a hurry to get the judgment up. I wouldn't have expected to see it until next week. Seems they didn't even bother to call on counsel instructed by the Treas. Sol. on behalf of the applicants (who were unable to discuss matters fully with their real clients) but just heard from Amnesty and Liberty.
I particularly like Hoffman at paras 86ff:
"# This is one of the most important cases which the House has had to decide in recent years. It calls into question the very existence of an ancient liberty of which this country has until now been very proud: freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention. The power which the Home Secretary seeks to uphold is a power to detain people indefinitely without charge or trial. Nothing could be more antithetical to the instincts and traditions of the people of the United Kingdom.
# At present, the power cannot be exercised against citizens of this country. First, it applies only to foreigners whom the Home Secretary would otherwise be able to deport. But the power to deport foreigners is extremely wide. Secondly, it requires that the Home Secretary should reasonably suspect the foreigners of a variety of activities or attitudes in connection with terrorism, including supporting a group influenced from abroad whom the Home Secretary suspects of being concerned in terrorism. If the finger of suspicion has pointed and the suspect is detained, his detention must be reviewed by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission. They can decide that there were no reasonable grounds for the Home Secretary's suspicion. But the suspect is not entitled to be told the grounds upon which he has been suspected. So he may not find it easy to explain that the suspicion is groundless. In any case, suspicion of being a supporter is one thing and proof of wrongdoing is another. Someone who has never committed any offence and has no intention of doing anything wrong may be reasonably suspected of being a supporter on the basis of some heated remarks overheard in a pub. The question in this case is whether the United Kingdom should be a country in which the police can come to such a person's house and take him away to be detained indefinitely without trial."
(I think in Latin that question would begin "Num".)
and at 97:
"The real threat to the life of the nation, in the sense of a people living in accordance with its traditional laws and political values, comes not from terrorism but from laws such as these. That is the true measure of what terrorism may achieve. It is for Parliament to decide whether to give the terrorists such a victory."
Completely irrelevant to that, but for those who haven't seen it yet, Ursula LeGuin has been narked enough by comments made by the director of the TV adaptation of A Wizard of Earthsea to break her frosty silence (and see also here, for further more extensive criticism - both links from the Culture list).
And, in a vaguely parallel story, the director of the films of His Dark Materials has quit as director (but remains consultant on the script he wrote after sacking Tom Stoppard).
On yet another tack, this, from Tim Lambert, is one of the funnier smackdowns (on bonkers arguments against climate change theory) I've read recently:
It takes a rare kind of talent to present an argument on climate change that is inconsistent with the existence of seasons
It also seems a little odd that if the Medieval Warm Period ended with the Earth shifting its axis of rotation, that no-one wrote down something like “Holy Cow! The constellations are in a different place!”. You’d think they would have noticed.
being particular high points.
Finally, What is Happening to Me?. Worth a look.