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Monthly Archives: September 2009

I am a man of simple tastes. My greatest pleasure comes from simply standing still and thinking whilst the breeze brushes my cheek whilst I overlook the ocean. Or it comes from exploring some new part of my city – just yesterday I went to Bondi Junction, a place I never adequately explored.

Today, I discovered a new pleasure. Reading Donna Tartt’s ‘The Secret History‘ whilst listening to the Decemberists’ new album ‘The Hazards of Love‘.

I have waxed at length already about The Secret History, but I will say it again more succinctly. Every word is perfect. Every page drips with learning and wit. It reminds me of nothing more than Virgil’s Aeneid, his master work. Not these torrid paperbacks of the modern era, churned out like so many mass produced things. But also, unlike the ‘literature’ of this day, it has this brilliant readability to it.

Hazards of Love is an epic rock ballad telling the somewhat Mediaeval  love story of a faun and Margaret, with whom he falls in love and for whom he begs the Queen to allow him one night to transform and whatnot. Moving stuff, regardless of my inability to convey it. It is equally learned. As a reference point, the name of the band, the Decemberists, is an oblique reference to the Russian Revolution. Their last album ‘The Crane Wife’ is another epic ballad, this time modelled on an ancient Japanese fable/love story. In any case, equally dripping with knowledge.

They fit together perfectly. The Hazards of Love takes pleasure in sounding almost like poetry. My favourite part of the Crane Wife is “And stems and bones and stone walls too
Could keep me from you
This skein of skin is all too few
To keep me from you”

But unlike poetry, which I am far too much of a philistine to appreciate, it interacts so well with the music. The changing pitch of emotions, the struggle of wills between the faun and the Queen. The moments I admire most in life is when I feel I am truly dwarfed by another’s intelligence. Naturally, there will always be people better than me, even if fields I specialise in. But the Decemberists’ just blows me away.

Usually, when you put two such brilliant things together, you just have too much of a good thing and things clash and it all goes to hell in a handbasket. But the Decemberists makes good background music, and Tartt is so readable the dissonance from reading words and listening to words at the same time just melds away.

Who would have thought? Listening to a mediaeval epic ballad written by a pretentious band from the liberal west coast whilst reading a book on the classics written by an old school east coast writer is a good idea. Oh, and the people sitting next to me on the bus were French, and really added to the atmosphere.

I heartily recommend you read The Secret History and listen to The Hazards of Love. It’s not often I talk about what I read, I usually forget books once I read them. But the Secret History is something I think I will be ranting about for a while. At least till I finish reading it. It may take a while… I’m reading it in chunks so I don’t get tempted to quit this law degree and away to a small liberal arts college in New England.

I’ve been wondering lately. Was Kirby J ever a High court justice? By definition, a High Court Justice’s decisions are binding upon lower courts (ie Supreme Court and below). Name one case in which Kirby’s judgment was binding upon a lower court.

I can’t think of a single one since he stopped being Kirby P.

(Yes, I am bored of my contracts assignment).

They laughed when I first advocated that corporations were real people. Oh how they laughed, and their ridicule stung me to my core. But the justice of my cause sustained me. I persevered, as Geppetto persevered when they told him a wooden puppet could never be a real boy. They told him, if you want to indulge your childish fantasies, you should join the Catholic Church. Oh how he showed them.

Now, the most dangerous branch of the US government, the United States Supreme Court, has given me the nod. Citizens United v Federal Election Commission, following precedent from 1886 , is about to declare Corporations people under the US Constitution. God bless Thomas Jefferson, Antonin Scalia and the other Founding Fathers. Only they could declare corporations people, give them free speech, include the right to donate money as part of free speech, and overturn bipartisan electoral reform laws like McCain-Feingold.

My campaign has even gotten the Colbert bump: http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/249055/september-15-2009/the-word—let-freedom-ka-ching

When respected journalists like Stephen Colbert join the campaign to make corporations real people, who can possibly stop us? Oh America, land of the free, how I envy thee. In Australia, my argument must be based on statutory construction so corporations are subject to the tyranny of the will of Parliament. (Of course, corporations aren’t the only ones to be discriminated against. The High Court has also ruled that Judges are not ‘people’ – Wilson v Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. They did however, concede that Aborigines are people. But also held that the Constitution empowered the Commonwealth Parliament to discriminate against them.) Only in America could the Constitution overrule the collective wisdom of 100 senators and make corporations real people. Just like Pinocchio.

I began reading this book a few months back, and got up to page 30. I had to put it down, to throw it out of my sight. It simply would not do. If I read any further, I was sure that I would give up my life and fly away to a small liberal arts college in Vermont. The Secret History is the story of aloof and eccentric classics students at a small liberal arts college in Vermont, and it is the most fantastic work of fiction I have read in quite some time.

I have taken the book up again, a few months later when the wanderlust waned. And once again the thought comes unbidden to my mind: This book is just so intelligent! On every page there’s some delightful twist of language of the sort that one only finds in a Keating speech, a book by Dawkins or anything blessed by the hand of Aaron Sorkin. It’s not written in the self-indulgent cocoon of meaning so favoured by most literature writing. I don’t care enough for your mediocre philosophy to interpret your metaphors and allusions, language should accentuate ideas. It should not act like an emo/goth/idiot speaking in tongues to seem deeper than he really is. The Secret History uses language like its meant to be used, to accentuate and enhance meaning and ideas by rendering them in sharp relief, without the plodding simplicity the plain language movement demands.

But more than that, the Secret History is so full of intelligent content. It’s filled with philosophical gems that sparkle even amongst the golden tapestry upon which it rests. References here there and everywhere to classical ideas. Profound reflections on how the Ancient Greeks embraced their savagery, rather than repressing it like the Romans. Sheer, and total brilliance.

I heartily recommend this book to anyone and everyone. Unlike most literary books, it has a compelling plot (so far as I can tell on page 90) and is very well-written. It makes me wish I had a modicum of writing ability in me. And now, I shall be booking tickets to America. With luck, I shall resist the urge to change my destination to Vermont.

In other, somewhat related, news Vermont has moved up my list of my favourite states in the Union, nudging New Hampshire out of the top 5.

1) Massachusetts

2) California

3) Utah

4) Delaware

5) Vermont

6) New Hampshire

Sometimes when studying, I notice certain things. For instance, s124 of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth): “A company has the legal capacity and powers of an individual both in and outside this jurisdiction.”

As far as I can tell, there is no limitation on this in the rest of the Act. And being  an Act of Parliament, it overrides the common law to the extent of inconsistency, as any good law student should know. Obvious consequences: corporations can sue in their own name for wrongs done to it, it has the power to enter into contracts etc.

My question: if the corporation has all the powers of an individual, does that include other powers. Not the right to vote, as that is a right (not a power or legal capacity). But how about the power and capacity to enter into contracts of marriage?

Now, you may say that the old marriage law prohibits this. But clearly, you haven’t been reading up on your doctrines of statutory interpretation. What about the doctrine of implied repeal? This says the later act (for example, the Corporations Act) will override the older law (say the marriage act) if the necessary implication is that it is inconsistent. Clearly it is, for the Corporations Act grants the capacity to enter into contracts (including contracts of marriage). The Marriage Act defines marriage as “the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life”. Not including a corporation. (Unless you define Corporations as a “man or a woman”. Which is another thing, if transgender people have a right (somewhat forced upon them) to have a gender, then so should corporations!)

In other words, the Marriage Act is old and dated. Parliament has evinced an intention to get rid of it. Let us finally end the discrimination against Corporations merely because they were not brought up in our privileged environment as “natural persons” under the law. Let us cease to debase them with descriptions such as “creatures of statute”.

The global financial crisis has lead to increased discrimination and attacks upon Corporations. Their names have been sullied and they have been subject to increased government restrictions on their actions, particularly in socialist America. They have had their property taken from them in massive government bailouts. And all for no fault of their own! The people who perpetrated the crimes that lead to the GFC were all directors of corporations, “natural persons” perpetrating silent discrimination against corporations, raping and pillaging them.  Our politicians are all, whether man or woman, natural persons and not corporations. Aside from fringe groups like the Republican party and moderate Democrats, not a single politician represents corporate interests. This must stop!

Some may argue that this leads us down a deep and slippery slope. If we decree that people might marry corporations, then we are allowing polygamy. But why not? My friend Dan is one of these discriminated against peoples. He loves Apple dearly. Why should he be deprived of his ability to marry Apple Co simply because some old judge in San Francisco beat him to it? Why shouldn’t Microsoft have the right to marry both of its facebook fans?

My friends, it is time to recognise that Corporations have a right to marry. but not gay marriage. That would be unbiblical.

Becoming a Law Lord.

Thanks to accursed French socialism this is no longer possible. Curse you Montesqueiu! Not only do you bar the introduction of a  legislative Bill of Rights, your separation of powers has riven the Judicial Committee of the House of Lords from its bosom in the House of Lords. Left with the somewhat unappealing name of the Judicial Committee, they have now been renamed the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. Their Lords of Appeal in Ordinary are now merely Justices.

Now, the best I can hope for is to become a Lord Justice of the Appeal in the High Court of Justice. Alas. I don’t think LJJ get the peerage, unless you’re like Denning and chose to move down from the HoL to the CoA.

What can I say? England has a spiffy way with titles. They’ve had them since the times of yore.

Edit: hahaha I just discovered something. It turns out the Lord Chief Justice of the UK is currently Lord Judge. In that his last name, is Judge Hahahahhahaha. That is awesome. That’s even better than the fact we have two HCA JJ called Sue.

Hmm, so I had a job interview this Wednesday for a finance job. I’m not entirely sure how well I did, because I mostly answered well but made one or two critical screw-ups. One of which was asking for the wrong person at the front desk. Oops.

Anyway, as always in finance interviews, I was asked a lot of questions about my views on how this stock I mentioned will perform. I think I performed well, but I’m worried I might not have communicated clearly. Sometimes I tend to just throw facts at people loosely arranged, without quite tieing together the logical strands which are seem evident to me. Anyway, one of the questions related to Consolidated Media Holdings, Packer’s company which Kerry Stokes (owner of 7) has been mounting a hasty attack upon. I was asked what I thought would happen. I replied that Stokes had a slight upper hand because he mounted the first attack, and that Packer was on the defensive. I then elaborated by saying that it was difficult to see how Stokes could do anything, given Packer’s tenacity by selling long-held assets to defend his position and the fact the stock market has gone up since Stokes began his assault (making it harder for Stokes to launch a takeover). I then put the view that Stokes would probably just sit there as a silent threat,  earning dividends. It seems like today my view has been validated: http://business.smh.com.au/business/packer-stokes-call-truce-in-battle-for-consmedia-20090910-fjfj.html Stokes has essentailly called a truce in exchange for two seats on the board, who will get outvoted at every turn. In other words he’s going to sit on the stock and earn a dividend.

I also put forward the view that the current confidence in the Australian economy is overstated and will probably fall. We began the week on Monday with record high levels of business confidence for this year, and also strong consumer confidence numbers. As a result, the Aussie dollar reached almost 90c against the USD in the belief that Australia is amongst the few resilient economies in the world, and the only developed country. Yesterday, the unemployment figures came out and that rocked the boat a bit. The dollar retreated and the stock markets wobbled a bit (though it ultimately ended 1% higher) as a result. The reason? Not that unemployment rose, but that it stayed steady. THe surprise? The number of full time workers fell marginally. It’s also dampened rate rise expectations: http://au.biz.yahoo.com/090910/19/28j5t.html

Hmm, I wonder if the fact that I was right gives me brownie points.  I somewhat doubt it given that they’ll have forgotten th specifics of what I said. So my last prediction? The property market will stagnate given that debt constraints prevent people buying, and that the upwards pricing trend has entrenched into people’s minds the idea that prices won’t fall (so sellers will refuse to lower prices, unless selling for time-sensitive reasons like financial distress or to move house).

SCOTUS watchers, some little tid-bits to keep you happy.

An interview with the current JJ on Sotomayor’s appointment to the court: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/09/03/chief-justice-john-robert_n_277080.html

And speculation that Justice John Paul Stevens may retire next year because he has only hired 1 law clerk instead of his traditional four: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/09/02/justice-stevens-may-retir_n_274827.html

It would be interesting to see how his replacement does in replacing him as the ideological backbone of the liberal wing of the court. It would be rather strange for Stevens J to retire before seeing how the court dynamics change with Sotomayor’s appointment. It clearly weighs on his mind given the roaring reception him and Ginsburg J gave to Sotomayor.

Of course, there could be another opening in Ginsburg J’s seat. She has been eager to state that she will be staying on, despite ill health. In fact, unusually so, given that most JJ see it as a tabboo topic. She, I believe, has said she wishes to stay on till her early 80s. She has also been emphasising that she is in good health in interviews I’ve seen.

This morning, I woke up and begun my new routine of researching for my law assignment. Then suddenly, a terrible feeling pervaded my soul. The internet was no longer working. Google, not working. Facebook, twitter, the major communication highways of the internet. Not working. Major news outlets, the SMH, Google Reader etc not working (naturally trafficless news outlets like Vexnews and my blog were unaffected). What was going on, I thought. Was some alien invasion force systematically taking out humanity’s means of communication and resistance? Did they fear that Australian working families would use Twitter to rise up in rebellion against their robotic overlord, just as the Iranians took up arms against the anorexic Yeti who somehow took the seat of the Presidency.

But I discovered portions of the internet were still working. For example, Lexisnexis, the major database for legal cases worldwide, still worked. As did Heinonline, my source for legal journals and articles. Then I realised. Alas no, like some benevolent God, the internet had decided to encourage me to work.

But, my friends, you well know that I do not succumb easily to such pressures. Just as I am presently denying the omnipotence of Parliament (see Dicey’s theory of Parliamentary Sovereignty which avers that Parliament is omnipotent within the realm of the law), I deny the omnipotence of the internet! I will not succumb. I will procrastinate, as per my god-given right. Surely, if there is justice in this world, the moral right to work has as its converse the moral right to not work, the moral right to procrastinate.

And that, my friends, is why this blog was made.