A detailed knowledge of the Privacy Act would probably come in handy. Maybe even some sort of regulatory SPAM machine, if only you could use it at your discretion and just warn people when they overstep and then watch them cower and withdraw. This is what it’s like to be a lawyer, to be able to use the law against your enemies when they annoy you — to just pull it out like the filthy rich pull out their cheque books when they back their car into your new Vespa moped. Thus begins our rant about the way mobile phone companies are using our mobile phone numbers as they want — will-nilly and freely.
The other day, Folklaw received a phone call at just after four in the afternoon, a busy work hour. Upon answering the overly zealous ring tone, we heard nothing — blank, zip, nada. “Hello, hello…,” was Folklaw’s frustrated response, met with: “This is a message from Vodafone”, followed by an advertisement proclaiming the greatness of sushi or some such matter and continuing as a fifteen second rant with a jingle and all.
Entirely flummoxed, we immediately attempted to call back the said company to complain. This took some serious number pressing, as we had to listen to directions and press appropriate keys to be put through to the right person, or the right department. The complaints number offered on the website, you see, led only to option after option, none of which seemed to allow callers to speak to an actual human being to vent their frustration — the irony being, of course, that the frantic number pressing was adding insult to serious injury.
In the end we got there, called the company’s directory assistance, and then yelled at her a bit — before being forwarded on. An investigation will take place, Folklaw was told, as the firm is presently unsure how and why this was happening, and apparently they will get back to us. Our preference, however, would have been to quote some passage from the Privacy Act, and be done with it.
First, we’ll take the world …
Well, you didn’t really think they would stop at a couple of Free Trade Agreements and power plants did you? A company in China is looking to sell plots of land for 289 yuan ($45) an acre. Not bad, but what do you get for your buck? A plot of moon, as it so happens. The company intends to capitalise on increased interest in space travel after China’s second successful manned space flight on Shenzhou VI. The company behind the madness, however, is actually an American conception (of course).
The company was established in 1980, 11 years after the moon landing. Entrepreneur Dennis Hope believes his sales are legitimate, due to a loophope in the 1967 UN Outer Space Treaty, which prevents governments from owning extraterrestrial property but does not mention corporations or individuals. Lunar Embassy is already established in the US, Germany, Britain, Ireland (are you surprised?), Australia (disappointing), New Zealand and Japan. Folklaw does not think it would be the wisest investment; but then, they could be famous last words…
Take it on the chin
Women have been copping a hard time of it lately. First up, UK advertising guru Neil French socked it to them at an industry discussion in Toronto, where he said women made poor executives because they would “wimp out”, using motherhood as an excuse. A report in Toronto’s Globe and Mail quoted French as saying women did not make it to the top because “they’re crap”. French has since offered his resignation to marketing group WPP Group plc, and had it accepted.
Women in the law are more than used to this sort of ridiculous stigmatism, but it was taken to a new level last Tuesday when The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Michelin-starred British chef, Gordon Ramsay, had said modern young women couldn’t “cook to save their lives”. In fact, he said they were better at mixing cocktails and were hopeless when it came to handling solid food. Furthermore, “when they eat, they cheat,” an obviously addled Ramsay said. “It’s ready meals and pre-prepared meals all the way.”
Well, this has just taken it too far. Women have copped your abuse in boardrooms and on shopfloors, they’ve even taken a bit in the shearing sheds. But the kitchen is hallowed ground my friend! How could you stoop so low?
If it’s good enough for fighter pilots …
… apparently it’s good enough for lawyers. UK firm Addleshaw Goddard has apparently devised a client-simulator computer game to improve the skills of its practitioners and keep their thumb joints limber. The game, designed by Addleshaws’ partners and heads of legal from eight FTSE 100 companies, is intended to teach lawyers to think like businessmen.
Lawyers have to make decisions in different roles such as finance and research and development — sounds riveting, but at least they won’t have to fight their kids to get a go. The firm hopes the game will make its lawyers more “commercially aware”. Or is it just a forum for the closet nerds in the firm? A one-day gaming “extravaganza” is planned, where lawyers and in-house counsel will work in teams to make as much money as they can for their virtual companies. Think we can leave that one to the flies on the walls.
They’re only human
Weekly e-newsletter RollOnFriday has featured the website of DWF, a law firm in the UK’s north west, which attempts to present its partners as human beings rather than boring stooges who do nothing other than practise. The method employed — photographing each of the partners at their office chair but with an element of their outside life. Some chose to be pictured with their children, others with the trappings of their favourite sport or hobby. David Clay, who listed one of his hobbies as modern art post-Cezanne, posed in front of an artwork, while wearing a silly hat and looking decidedly shady. Another partner revealed that he was an ex-punk rocker who still harboured dreams of headlining at the Glastonbury Festival.
The most puzzling, however, was the profile of David Blaquiere, who is pictured tied to his chair with a hefty rope. Presumably he is either not very good at the whole work/life balance thing, or is into sadomasochism. Folklaw appreciates the firm’s intention, but truly, when seeking legal advice there are some things you don’t want to know about the people you will be receiving it from. For instance, Clay’s claim that his outlook on life sees him striving to make people’s days better, just by being part of them. Dear me.
A car-jacker in Bluffton, South Carolina was recently thwarted in his attempts by the wiles of his supposed victim. CNN.com reported last week that a man tapped the window of a car with his gun and motioned for the driver to get out. However, the driver, who was obviously late to work and couldn’t afford any further delays, slammed the car door into the man’s legs and threw his newly purchased coffee onto his face and legs. However, rather than slamming the door shut again and driving away, he got out of the car and wrestled his would-be attacker to the ground. The driver even managed to grab the gun and point it at the car-jacker. He must have ordered an extra strong brew that morning.
The man who sued God … no, really
A Romanian prisoner is suing God, and with good reason too. He failed to save him from the devil, afterall, or so claims the man, named as Pavel M in media reports. He has accused God of “cheating, concealment, abuse against people’s interest, taking bribe and traffic of influence”. The man, who is serving 20 years for murder, claims that his baptism was a contract between himself and God, who was supposed to keep the Devil away and keep him out of trouble. Clearly distressed, Pavel M said “God even claimed and received from me various goods and prayers in exchange for forgiveness and the promise that I would be rid of problems and have a better life.” Poor dear. The prosecutor said the claim would probably be dropped, on account of it being slightly difficult to subpoena God to court.