Thursday, April 27, 2006

Coded Judgment

The Judge in the 'Baigent and Leigh v. Random House' case, i.e. the Dan Brown/'Da Vinci Code' plagiarism case, is apparently a big fan of the book himself, because he has left his own coded message in his Judgment. The Times has this article concerning the code and a link to the judgement itself.

Mr. Justice Smith has left certain letters in italics and the key to understanding the code is apparently itself in 'Da Vinci Code' and 'Holy Blood Holy Grail'.

This reminds me of one episode in the TV series 'West Wing' in which the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court began writing his Judgments in verse, more specifically in ‘cinquain'. Cinquain apparently is five line poetry with a rhyming pattern of 'ababb'!

I don’t know which is more disturbing, a judge that writes in code or verse?

Monday, April 24, 2006

Civil Liberties debate.

It is with some satisfaction that I notice that the mainstream media is finally beginning to focus on the UK government's assault on Civil liberties and Human Rights.

Individual commentators like Henry Porter, Mary Riddell, Jenni Russell and Marcel Berlins have of course focused on the civil liberties issues arising from Antisocial Behaviour Orders, detention of terrorist suspects without trial for, Control Orders, ID cards, the offence of 'glorification of terrorism' in the Terrorism Act 2006 and the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill, but the media as a whole has not.

Lately, however, the media has been willing to criticise the government on this front, as was done in The Observer yesterday and The Independent today. It was also the media's criticism of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (also known as the "Abolition of Parliament Bill"), that pressured the government 10 days ago into accepting an amendment limiting the effect of the Bill.

Even the Conservatives (that old enemy of civil liberties) have begun to criticise the government for limiting liberty. Although this is clearly political opportunism of the party that gave us the Criminal Justice Act 1994, it is welcomed none the less.

The problem is that the debate over civil liberties might have come too late. The government is intent on pushing a 'law and order' agenda for the upcoming local elections and Tony Blair has made it clear that he believes his critics are 'out of touch' with reality.

Whether Blair is right or not will be decided in the continuous political debate. This traditional Labour supporter is, however, very disappointed with the ‘New Labour’ government that began so promising by reforming the House of Lords in 1999 and incorporating the European Convention of Human Rights in UK law by passing the Human Rights Act 1998.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Top ten things I miss about Copenhagen.

I've been feeling very homesick for Copenhagen lately. Partly because I'm living a dual existence between my flat at Newbold and my room in Southampton, and partly because I enjoy living in a city and not a suburb like Bracknell.

So here's the top 10 things I miss about living in Copenhagen.

10. Shops just 'around the corner'.
9. Public Transport.
8. Tivoli.
7. Fælleparken (The Common).
6. Sømod's Bolcher.
5. FC Copenhagen.
4. The ice rink on Kongens Nytorv at Christmas.
3. Cafe Bopa, Cafe Theodore, Cafe Jaque... (you get the point).
2. The beeches
1. My Friends.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


The other day my wife, who is doing an MA at Newbold College, got an information sheet concerning scholarships available for Newbold students. There wasen't that many scholarships available but the criteria for applying was typical of grants and scholarship.

Most of the scholarships were aimed at particular subjects and nationalities. For example: Eastern European theology students or British humanities students. Most also required top grades of the candidates.

The message was clear: Western Europeans and average students need not apply!

Why is the Christian world just like the world at large? Worshipping success and exclusiveness!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Moussaoui trial.

I find the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui very troubling.

First, because I am not convinced that there was causal link between Moussaoui and the sept. 11 attacks. It is not clear how involved Moussaou was in the plans and his statement that he was supposed to fly a fifth plane is unconvincing.

The jury, however, has held that Moussaoui was part of conspiracy to commit terrorist acts, and this question of fact I cannot dispute, as I do not know the evidence presented to the jury.

Secondly, because Moussaoui might receive a death sentence for the act of lying. According to this article by the New York Times, Moussaoui would be eligible for the death penalty if: "he was over 18 at the time; that he had deliberately taken some action (lying to investigators); that he had done so contemplating that deaths would occur; and that at least one death had occurred because of his lies."

It is not an offence in some legal systems to lie when you are charged with a crime. Moussaoui lied and withheld information when in FBI custody, although it is not clear he was actually charged with a crime at that time. His act of lying, for which he might be executed, would therefore possibly not be criminal in other countries.

It can be debated whether defendants should allowed to lie or not, but it seem grotesque to execute a person who withholds information and tells untruths when under arrest.