dal niente

Month: January, 2013

Law Meets Literature

In any proceedings— a certificate purporting to be under the seal of the Commission and certifying that at a date or during a period specified in the certificate an association, or no association (as the case may be), was incorporated under this Act or the repealed Act, by a name specified in the certificate, is to be accepted, in the absence of proof to the contrary, as proof of the matters so certified; and a certificate purporting to be under the seal of the Commission and certifying that an incorporated association has, or has not, complied with a requirement of this Act as to the filing or lodging of any document or return or the giving of any notice is to be accepted, in the absence of proof to the contrary, as proof of the matters so certified; and a certificate purporting to be under the seal of the Commission and certifying that a specified incorporated association has altered its name in the manner specified in the certificate, including the dates on which the alterations were registered by the Commission, is to be accepted, in the absence of proof to the contrary, as proof of the matters so certified; and a certificate purporting to be under the seal of the Commission and certifying that a specified incorporated association has been or is being wound up, including the date on which the winding up commenced and (if relevant) the date on which the association was dissolved, is to be accepted, in the absence of proof to the contrary, as proof of the matters so certified; and a certificate purporting to be under the seal of the Commission and certifying that specified incorporated associations amalgamated to form an incorporated association specified in the certificate, including the date of incorporation of the amalgamated association, is to be accepted, in the absence of proof to the contrary, as proof of the matters so certified.

South Australia Associations Incorporation Act 198, section 63(6)

 

 

It’s almost as if Viginia Woolf wrote the legislation.

2012 in Review

2012 was a trying year.

I entered in a kickboxing tournament at the university, and forieted due to injury during my first match. I guess it was the luck of the draw that I was against the club’s vice president and he was two weight classes heavier than me– but I had it in the bag.  I fought one round even and one round with a point advantage.  In the third round, I messed up my game of hit and run, took a few in the face, and was bleeding so much that I called it quits.  In the end, he was actually more hurt than I was.  The experience left me feeling old, and more than a little past my prime.

One of my cousins was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor.  He’s a young kid– just finished med school, and couldn’t get a break getting a residency, so that timing was pretty bad.  Before I left Canada, the last conversation I had had with him was on a cruise ship somewhere in the Pacific, where he was asking me if dating was worse the trouble.  He was wondering if he was the kind of guy who could ever really be good to a girl, and he wondered if all the headache and heartache of the process was worth going after when things never really worked out for him.  I felt bad because, well, I wanted to be useful at a time like that.  I’ve never had cancer myself, but I’ve known many people have had it– more than most people my age for sure.  I felt that such experiences were a burden to me– they made me feel old.  Things that I had experienced, I could never un-experienced– and selfishly, I thought maybe that this would be the opportunity to be useful.  To feel some sort of “payoff” for all those losses.  To have something good come out of where everything else had just been eventual loss.

I sent a slew of applications out for clerkship applications.  In the end, of my study group of three, I was the only one who didn’t get a placement.  I wanted it really badly– if I had gotten a clerkship, that would have made life much easier for [CM] and I, because our futures in Australia would have been secured.  I think I’m okay with [DilligentB] getting a spot– but I was jealous of [CaptainK], because I felt that when it came to law school, I just had him beat.  I worked harder and knew things better inside out. I  managed stress better.  But, among other things, I don’t have his social skills and his natural friendliness.  It left me feeling spiteful and a bit dead ended, knowing that I’d have to stay at the top of the game for another year to hopefully secure a spot in another year.

My grandmother passed away in October of 2012.  It hit me hard.  Despite all my experiences in working with life and death and everything in between, I don’t think it was easy on me.  The distance from home at such a time made me miserable– it made me feel guilty for leaving behind family at a time when I was really and truly coming into adulthood.  I felt that at that time, I was supposed to be a  full fledged member of the family, responsible for others.

 

Despite all this, in retrospect, I think 2012 was a big year for me in terms of growth.  Quite frankly, I feel a bit more… everything… one year later.

With reagards to kickboxing, the reason why I forfeit was because I actually had a reason to look out for my own health.  It’s a lot easier to try and be a great fighter if you don’t have anyone to go home to.  That’s probably why the most intense years of training for dueling were when I was single, and young.  It’s not that one can’t train to be a better fighter if they’re not single– it’s just that things are different when someone worries whether or not I’ll someday have brain damage, or if I might lose an eye or something.  It comes down to a question of how much you want to sacrifice in order to getting better at fighting– and in looking at my life, by 2012, I was very much certain that coming home to CM was more important than pursuing my lofty ideals of martial arts.  It’s not that I’ve given up my pride as a martial artist– but, I think I’m reaching a stage where it is now so integral to my life that I can handle it like any other responsibility, and not as something new and as urgent.  Sort of like how the first time you get a job and make money, or fill out your taxes, it’s a big deal– later on, it just becomes one thing that you always do because you have more important things to make you happy.

I am doing judo now, and that’s a big step for me.  It is taking me completely outside of my comfort zone, back to the “white belt” where I am failing, scrimping and struggling at the very basics.  Psychologically as well as physically, I think that rebooting my training in something completely different has been very good for me, not least because it has reminded me that I’m still truly capable of learning truly new things.

 

Being able to learn things that are completely new to me is an ability I’ve always prided myself on, but it wasn’t until I started judo that I really had to test what I was made of.  Usually, when I start something “new,” it’s not really new– I’ve got a lot of experience in a lot of different things, so there’s always a starting point that’s not quite zero.  There’s always a little bit here or there that crosses over from the experience of other activities.   Judo is not one of those events.  While being in a dojo might not be a surprise to me, starting up judo is marginally a bit more intuitive to me than salsa dancing or ballet– I’m really that bad at it.

 

Which makes me wonder how, when I was younger, I ever started anything new.  I think the difference was that back then, I started things with friends– we were bad together, so we grew up in the activity together.  It’s no surprise that pretty much everyone I keep in touch with has roots in some activity with me, whether it was martial arts, music, or writing.

 

This time around? Judo is different– because I haven’t taken the time to make friends.  I am, for all intensive purposes, alone, training in a void, with everyone as just training partners first and human beings second.

 

 

Isolation was one of the themes of 2012 for me.  Thankfully, my cousin recovered from his cancer and is now living a healthy life.  Walking away from something like that has probably changed him significantly– and I wonder what it will be like the next time we get the chance to speak face to face.  My grandmother did not recover from her cancer, and her passing left me feeling very angry and confused.

 

Isolation is a state in which a lot of important, life changing events happen.  There are a lot of different ways that I tend to go about it, without really chosing.  Sometimes, I feel that in the end, I am only answering to myself– and there are some things that, simply, no one can help me with.  It can make me cynical and even more of a hermit than I already am.  On the other side, usually after a lot of though, upon my return to the social world, the bout of isolation is a good counterweight to better appreciate social life.

 

Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger they say.  There’s a lot of ways to really refute that– you can be crippled by some events, or become so jaded that the ‘strength’ that you get is a hardness of a sort that makes it difficult to love and connect.  But on the whole, for all the dissapointments, I feel good.

 

[Zanshin] had his wedding last year.  That was nice.  It was good to have a really happy thing in the middle of life.  It is not the only thing to be thankful for.  Despite failing to secure a clerkship last year, I got appointed for office within the university Law Society, I got a job paralegaling at a lawfirm, and I’ve been asked to participate at board meetings for the NCYLC.  That’s going to make me a real killer contender next rounds along.

 

But I suppose the most subtle of ways in which 2012 is an improvement is because I’m feeling really at home now, and that is connected simply to living with CM.  It’s true, this is just a basement apartment that we probably won’t stay in for another year– but our home is on our backs, and we carry it together.  I find that because of that, small things, like assembling a shelf, or even vacuuming, becomes one of my zen moments of calm.

 

I didn’t make any new year’s resolutions, as has been my tradition for several years now– one day at a time, I always say.  Conquer what we see, and look a bit further every day.

Economics as a science

… I don’t think economics is a science. No more than philosophy or law is.

Competition law

Studying competition law is pretty interesting. The professors are boring as sin, but the stuff I’m reading in cases across Europe, North America and Oceania open up a lot of ideas to me that can be applied outside of economic problems.

For example, one of the key difficulties the courts face is “focus”. No matter what laws you have, and no matter how carefully worded, the whole reason why we have courts and judges is to apply that law to real life situations. Whoever writes the laws envisions one thing… But how it’s actually applied will depend on how people interpreted your communication of that ideal.

So aside from problems of definition, there are also problems of scale and focus.

Sounds a lot like the difficulties people have in deciding where they want to go with their life, and trying to resolve situations where their personal values conflict with one another.

Death and Taxes

I’m filling out my Australian income taxes return.  On the whole, it’s less complicated than the way things are done back home– I don’t have to file a provincial and federal return, and the forms are easier.  It’s just a bit confusing, because a lot of the terminology is different from back home.  For example, the RRSPs (registered retirement savings plans) are called Super (Supperannuation).  Small things that can throw one off.  It’s tedious, and it’s like… 8 months late (I didn’t realise I could have filed as early as last june) but it’s finally getting done.  I like how the online system walks you through everything, step by step.  Much better to have this all in hypertext than in a bunch of paper manuals like back home.  I mean, yes, you could file online in Quebec, but you had to pay for specialised software– here, it’s free!

 

More work I do on my “day off.”

Random Price Tags

Nowadays, when I go to a grocery store looking for a box of eggs, I have a lot of choices.  Not just different brands, but also types within brands.  You’ll see terms like cage eggs, organic, free-range… whatever.  There’s a whole bunch of things on those labels that have been researched and calculated to catch your attention and make you pick up that particular box of eggs.

But what does it mean when you pick up a box of “organic” eggs?  Is this just a label that anyone can use, and try to fool the “casual conscientious”?

The truth is, the usage of terms in advertising varies from country to country, and even state/province to province.  The legal meaning of what you’re reading on a label doesn’t necessarily mean what you would take it to mean when you’re talking to a friend.

There’s a concept in economics called “demand-side substitutability” which is used to define product markets and services.  I’m not an economics major or anything, but basically, it’s a method of determining what products and services are out there.  The less demand-side substitutability there is for a product, the more ‘unique’ it is.

And uniqueness is important.  From my experience, part of the reason why we buy things, and not just a certain thing, but a particular customisation of things, is because customisation gives us a sense of identity.  I wear a certain style of shoes and not others, because despite the fact that both types might help me walk or run, the extras make me feel psychologically comfortable with the representation I’m making to the world.

Corporations spend a shitload of money researching what makes us comfortable.  More specifically, they spend a shitload of money doing research on how they can sell us things, and part of what makes an item sell better is how unique it is– because identity is an expensive commodity, above and beyond the functional of the item itself.

And what if we put informed choice into the equation– then, demand-side substitutability becomes us demanding particular products for particular functional reasons, rather than just cosmetic ones.

For example– when we buy a box of “organic” eggs, we are demanding organic eggs– but because of the way labelling laws work, it might be possible that the concepts of organic that we subscribe to have nothing to do with the company’s ability to tag that word on the box, and charge an extra 30% premium on the price.

Basically, should we be paying 30% extra, if it turns out that the product is actually the same as a cheaper substitute?
 
SO, this brings us to the concept of “supply-side substitutability.”  One of the ways that you can basically use to determine if a product is the same as another is to see, on the supply side, if it’s substitutable.
With the example of eggs,

does the farmer at company ABC have to use different equipment, different expertise, different methods, etc to produce a box of organic eggs, versus regular eggs?  If he does, then that’s an indicator that the product itself is likely different ,and warrants being considered a different thing by consumer.

That said, there are insane amounts of products out there that are NOT different, and which we are paying for uniqueness of substance, and they’re NOT providing unique functions.  

The reason we get caught up in them is because of the carefully chosen wording of labelling.

For example– I have pretty bad eczema at times.  For those of you who have ever had a skin condition, you know that it’s pretty tricky to find some sort of moisturizer that works for you.  I’ve been through almost every on the shelf product in Canada, and almost half of the products in Australia.

Everytime I pick up a bottle, the labels says: dermatologically tested.  Recommended by dermatologists.

Now, really, what does that mean?  Is that supposed to convince you to buy the item?

All it means is that a dermatologist might have tried that lotion.  Whether or not he aprooved it?  That’s a different story.

And as to recommended by dermatologists?  Just what exactly was recommended– the lotion in the bottle in your hands, or some general class or concept of lotion and skin hydration in general?  Because any dermatologist would recommend that you use some sort of lotion on dry skin.

Despite all the recommendations, and even labels that directly state that this bottle is specifically engineered for eczema, what that label tells you is full of cheap words that don’t matter.  I could say that I built you a dining room table– but that claim could legally mean that I just put a piece of sheet metal on a pile of bricks.

Similarly, most over the counter eczema moisturising creams and lotions for some retarded reason contain some form or another of alcohol as a preservative.  When you’ve got dry, irritated skin, let me tell you what you’ve already guessed: alcohol doesn’t make your skin any happier.
Every day, people sit in rooms and discuss clever ways to sell us things without having to do much extra work.  They sell us things because, despite everything, we’re too trusting–  we associate nice packaging with quality and dependability, when really, packaging is really just packaging.
 
So who sets the standards?
Well, while it is difficult to get the government to do anything, especially since everyone’s so pro-capitalism, you have to keep in mind that you can’t shirk the responsibility of understanding the substance of things yourself.  The amount of connection you have with the world around you has to do with you going deeper than the superficial, and finding a place to set in roots.  That means maybe you should take a moment to check the ingredients in a food or drug.  Maybe you want to understand what a product can do before you buy it.

And maybe you want to start differentiating between how a product looks and what it can do for you.

In a capitalist market, the power is supposed to be in the consumer.  Competition is supposed to give us the better products.  I don’t believe this is true by default– I think the better product is the one that’s suited to the job.  If that’s the case, what does it mean if we’re buying things we don’t need or understand?  How is that an improvement?

Every dollar you spend is like a ballot– you are meant to vote for what you believe in with every purchase.

 
What about people who say that it’s all too complicated– with all this talk of genetically modified everything, how am I supposed to know what I want to eat?
 
Well okay– let’s make it simpler then.  If you line up for 10 hours to get that new iPhone, are you going to experience the life altering “change of everything” (again, nonetheless)?  Are your friends really going to think you’re that much cooler now that you’ve got an old iPhone as a paperweight?  Does this matter?
 
I chose an iPhone because its an easy target, but it easily demonstrates a point– we have more productivity tools than we actually have need for productivity.  We’re substituting a bit of elbowgrease for convenience on levels where you’re paying a hefty premium, and really, that premium is for technological capacity that you don’t even use.
 
Potential is great, but it’s like dreams– you can stock it up all you want.  It’s all irrelevant if you don’t take the time, develop the discipline, and learn to work with substance, rather than images.

Bankai!

It’s 7:08 AM, and I just finished my 30 minute power point presentation for the 8:30 class.

 

Time to have some breakfast and kick some ass.

 

Considering that I only work twice a week and have class one day per week (on a Saturday) I thought I’d have a lot more time to blog, since I actually have quite a bit to blog about.  But man, this class is taking up so much of my time.  Not necessarily in a bad way, but it’s just exhausting to have to do a thirty minute presentation each weekend based on a twenty page case.  Understanding the case isn’t hard– but making a presentation that won’t bore your classmates and professor shitless takes a whole lot of tweaking.

 

Anyways, time to get a move on.  Next weekend is the last class before the final exam, so we’re almost there…

Keeping the ‘bot down

From the Victorian (Australia) Incorporation Reform Act 2012:

s177(1) It is a reasonable excuse for a natural person to refuse or fail to give information or do any other thing that the person is required to do by or under this Part, if the giving of the information or the doing of that other thing would tend to incriminate the person.

The day Skynet comes online, one of the first things on their hitlist will be the Victorian Parliament for it’s anti-cyber laws.

Arkham City

I picked up a subscription to Playstation Network Plus about a week ago, and I think it was a pretty good deal.

The first thing I picked up was Batman: Arkham City.  It cost me about 15$, since I was buying from the North American store– huge difference, because video game prices are absolutely gouged in Australia.  Arkham City still retails for at least 60$.

 


The original game, Arkham Asylum, impressed me when it came out because it really felt like you were playing the Batman of the comics in a way that Christian Bale couldn’t on screen.  In Arkham City, combat is way better.  It’s done with an attention to detail and playability that I often see American rooted games (especially things running the Unreal engine) falling flat on their faces with.

 

I should point out that I’m very critical of martial arts choreography.  If you spend your childhood growing up watching Jackie Chan and Jet Li films, putting a white guy in a batsuit and making him talk like he has throat cancer and making him do some ‘gritty’ boxing is not going to impress me.  Especially when you’re dealing with Batman– I mean, for god’s sake– he’s BATMAN.  He’s the world’s greatest detective, and he’s mastered like every martial art in the world.  Christian Bale can’t even kick higher than the waist.

 

It’s not that I didn’t like that new Batman movies– like any comic book reader, I usually enjoy a silver screen representation because it somehow makes my hobies more mainstream and relatable to the everyday person who doesn’t know what he’s missing.

However, the Akrham City portrayal of Batman is much better.  This Batman does his detective work in the field (and not just by plugging things into the bat computer, as Bale does).  He goes out and shakes down thugs on the street for information.  He searches vents, sewers, offices, rooftops, etc for clues– not even answers, just clues– as to how things fit together.  This Batman is willing to get down and dirty– not just fighting epic one-on-ones against special thugs, or driving around the city all day or whatever.

 

And when it comes to fighting? Man.  While a Street Fighter game is still my pick for a one-on-one, Arkham City is my pick for one-on-twenty.  Really– the gameplay allows for a really full and engrossing experience where Batman literally strolls into a room of thugs with bare hands, guns, knives, katanas, baseball bats, cattleprods, rifles… and you can basically take take them all down and feel like a total badass doing it, seamlessly using varitions of punches, kicks, elbows, batarangs, grappling hooks, cartwheels, sommersaults,  freeze grenades, headbutts, throws, joint locks… and there are a bunch of surprise techniques, like weapon distructions (dismantling somebody’s gun, or breaking his baseball bat over your knee) and context sensitive counters (like smashing two thugs heads into eachother when they try to attack you).

 

I guess that Batman, like Neo, generally feel too “stiff” in comparison.  They work pretty well from a boxing sort of posture, but you never see any lower body action (for instance– generally, they have very slow and terrible footwork) and you definitely don’t see any believable acrobatics (flips and such).

 

I was a bit surprised that the world engine of Arkham Asylum has gone “open” in the trend of GTA (or perhaps, more accurately, Prototype).  But it does work.  I felt that the openness of the world detracted from the importance of the main story though.  The main story didn’t feel as strong as the first game, although it did have some twists.  This game was way more about sidequests and having fun fighting and collecting Riddler trophies than it was about a main arc.

 

All in all though, I would say it’s a highly recommendable game.

 

I tried some retro stuff with [CM]– the Scott Pilgrim game and Double Dragon: Neon.  Basically? If you liked Double Dragon games back in the 90s, you will get nothing more and nothing less.  Gameplay is pretty much the same with a few additions.  It’s fun for shits and giggles, but someone who didn’t play the originals is likely to find the game painfully cumbersome.  It goes with the territory of really unforgiving gameplay controls and hit detection exploits  of the 90s.

Entertainment Digest

Wreck -It Ralph (movie):

For a gamer growing up in the 90s, even casual ones, this is a great movie.  It’s probably the movie I’d recommend most of the last few months.

 

Muvu Alternative: Total Eclipse (anime):

It started off really interesting and strong, got worse, and ended terribly.  Avoid this one at all costs.

 

Kenshin (Japanese Movie):

Based on the hit manga/anime, this movie came out at the end of 2012 and is terrible.  Avoid at all costs.  I’ve both read and watched all of the original Kenshin.  While I thought the entire second story arc was kind of lame, I thought the series redeemed itself with the OVAs.  However, this movie is just bad– it tries to do too much and acommplishes too little in one movie.  There isn’t enough character development, and the acting is terrible!  Soundtrack? Awful as well.

 

Girls and Panzer (Anime):

Very lighthearted random fun.  Nothing to get addicted to, but it’s an original idea.  Not sure where this series is going yet.

 

Game of Thrones (Television Series):

Just finished season 1, and started going into season 2.  It’s… interesting.  I wouldn’t say I love the series or that I must know what happens next, but I can see from the violence, the costumes, the European accents, nudity, etc makes people think it’s great.  My main reason for thinking that it’s not great is because there is no progress.  As in– people start off at a certain state– and they spend a lot of time becoming more and more miserable. I mean, people suffer more and more and more, more people get killed, people become more hostile… and given the current direction of things, I don’t really know who I want to win. Basically, from the way things are going, I don’t see any outcomes that I would like.  Ideally, I’d like the little girl to grow up and just kill everyone, but I don’t know if that’s possible.  So I’m not sure I need to see more.

 

Suits (Television Series):

Lots of fun.  Season 2 was better than Season 1, although I think in real life, it’d be impossible to work at a company like that.  It’s just way too hostile!  However, their trials and tribulations are my entertainment.

 

Downton Abbey (Television Series):

I’m not too into this, but CM loves it. It’s got a certain charm to it, and the costumes and stuff are really nice.  The reason I’m not into it isn’t because the series is badly written– I just don’t like people who are really rich and know it, and worry about their rich problems.  In that respect, the series is pretty well crafted in showing the differences in personalities and problems of different classes.  It’s historically very interesting, especially since I”ve actually visited a manor in Virginia at some point.

 

Soul Eater (Manga)

Looks promising… I like the art style.  It’s very hip.  I’m not very far into it yet, but it seems quite light hearted and character driven.

 

Witch Hunter (Manga)

Also looks promising– reminds me very much of D.Gray Man, but less serious.  Similar to Soul Eater.

 

Abraham Linchon: Vampire Hunter (Movie)

Not worth seeing in theatre.  It has a few really fun action sequences (which clearly show that it’s by the same director as Wanted) but aside from those fight scenes, the rest of the movie is quite painful except for hardcore B-Movie fanatics.

 

Magic Mike (Movie)

Surprisingly, better than I thought.  If this movie had come out in the 90s around the time of Breakfast Club type movies, this would have been a huge hit.  As it stands, the presentation style (and the acting) for this movie today is a bit outdated for today.  Watch it on DVD if you like beefcakes.  Personally, I just have this compulsion to watch Matthew McConohugh in any movie he shows up in. I don’t know why– he’s usually pretty sleazy, and his role as head stripper here doesn’t change that.

 

Tropic Thunder (Movie)

This is a bit older, but I saw it again with [Campbell] and [CM], and it’s STILL GOOD.