Saturday, May 31, 2008

My French Coach

In my slow but steady bid to learn to read French, I've quite enjoyed My French Coach for the Nintendo DS. It has a lot of fun mini-games to test your vocabulary, recordings of all the words used, and the ability to tape yourself pronouncing the words and then play it back. Well worth the $ 30 or so it'll set you back.

Clement's New Book

I'm very much looking forward to reading historian Dominique Clement's new book: Canada's Rights Revolution: Social Movements and Social Change, 1937-82 coming out in July from UBC Press. The book offers a partial history of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, the CCLA, Quebec's Ligue des droits de l'homme, and more. I relied heavily on Clement's previous scholarship in my article Civil Liberties Advocacy Organizations in Canada: A Survey and Critique (allegedly to be published any day now by the Oklahoma City University Law Review) and he's one of the few historians working in the area. It's a pricey hardcover but I'm expecting it to be worth the money--or at least a visit to the library.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My Brush With Celebrity

A couple of years ago, I ended up with two special "VIP Industry" tickets to a big Toronto comic book convention. The tickets provided for reservations at a special dinner, with all types of comic book professionals and the convention's celebrity guests. It just so happened that my Mom was in town, so I took her with me--which was fine because my Mom is cool, but I couldn't help but feel like the geekiest geek in the world sitting with all these industry professionals and having to explain that I'm just a fan who brought his Mom.

So anyway, during the course of dinner, I head to the buffet and help myself to some fruit chunks using the provided tongs. I glance behind me, and who could it be but Kevin Sorbo (Hercules, Starship: Andromeda, etc.) standing there! He says, exact quote, "Hm, you'd think they'd have more tongs here." I handed him the tongs and went back to my table.

That represents the closest I have ever been to a bona-fide celebrity, and the moment will always stand in my memory as "The Day I Handed Hercules the Tongs."

I can only hope that some day I'll have the chance to hand another celebrity some sort of eating implement.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance (GBA)

A word of warning, so you may avoid the same fate as me: do not buy Marvel Ultimate Alliance for the Game Boy Advance. Even if you find it used for $ 10. Even if someone offers you $ 10 to take it from them. It is by far the crappiest game I have ever played and should be burned in piles all over North America.

CD-ROM Comics

My sig-other often teases me that I seemed like such a "nothin's tying me down" type of guy when she met me, but that she hadn't known about the 25 or so boxes of comics I had in storage that follow me from place to place. The burden of lugging boxes like that around everytime I move has led me to embrace the handful of CD-ROM comic sets, which so far mostly exist for major Marvel titles like the Uncanny X-men, Avengers, Captain America, etc. Each disk has the complete run of the series (barring issues that have come out since the disk, of course), including covers, advertisements, letter pages, annuals, and more. It's taken a little effort to adjust to reading comics at the computer instead of on the couch, but it feels good to free up so much space by selling/giving away my now duplicative hard copies.

I just hope CD-Roms don't be technologically obsolete anytime soon!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Jeremy Commits Blasphemy

There is an extraordinarily slim chance you know I'm writing my Ph.D. dissertation on Canada's blasphemy law. Here's my just-finished law review article that has emerged from early research--I presented this to a standing-room-only crowd of seven people at a recent conference in UBC.

My Favorite (Scholarly) Blog

I have to plug this extraordinary blog by Howard Friedman, requisite reading for anyone interested in law and religion type issues:

My First Ever Court Citation

No, not a "you've been speeding" type of citation. I mean the first time a court case has ever cited to or quoted my work. In R. v. Poncelet, 2008 BCSC 202, the British Columbia Supreme Court said:

"48 Academic commentary has also been critical of the Audet analysis. Assistant Professor Jeremy Patrick of the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, in his article titled "Sexual Exploitation and the Criminal Code" (2006), 43 Alta. L. Rev. 1057, discussed the gap in the jurisprudence, which has defined the terms "a position of authority" and "relationship of dependency" but has been unable to achieve any satisfactory articulation of what constitutes "a position of trust".

49 In particular, Professor Patrick criticizes the three factors identified in Audet. He states the age difference between the parties is not particularly relevant to whether or not a relationship of trust actually existed, "unless we are to presume that young persons are more likely to trust older people than people nearer their own age", and this factor "raises the spectre that mere moral disapprobation of sexual relationships between persons of very different ages ... could lead to a conviction" (at ¶18). He questions the meaning of the evolution of the relationship factor, which he describes as so vague that it simply introduces confusion rather than clarity to the analysis. For example, he states, if the accused had sex with the young person shortly after meeting her, "is that more or less exploitative than sex after a long friendship or romance?" Finally, he states, the status of the accused in relation to the complainant is such a vague factor that it adds nothing to the determination of whether the accused was in a position of trust, and is "[a]' factor' that is simply a restatement of the original question [and it] is not likely to help clarify a difficult legal issue".

50 Professor Patrick concludes by stating at ¶19:
In the absence of significant amendments ... judges must try to craft a definition of trust that carries out Parliament's goal in preventing exploitation while not creating an overbroad definition that, in effect, raises the age of consent to 18 or simply duplicates "authority" or "dependency".

51 This review of some of the jurisprudence and academic discussion on the issue outlines the challenges facing trial judges who must apply the Audet test in determining if circumstances, particularly in those cases outside the presumptive or inherent trust relationships, fall into the category of "a position of trust". This case is an example of such a challenge."

I expect fame and fortune to quickly follow this monumental event.

Alpha Flight

The first in a series of posts as I re-read bits and pieces of my comic book collection.

Alpha Flight (volume 1) was a moderately well-known Marvel comics series in the late 80s and early 90s that featured a Canadian super hero team. The first couple of dozen issues, written by John Byrne, are really good stuff--most of the issues focus on team members alone or in pairs, saving the full team issues for really special occasions. After Byrne left, the series continued on for years (reaching # 130 before cancellation), but never reached the same heights--indeed, other than the big "Northstar is gay" issue, most of the run is forgotten (and with some atrocious artwork in some issues, deservedly so).

What most comics readers don't know is that Alpha Flight Volume 2--which only lasted 20 issues--is actually a really good comic series. Very different in tone than the previous one, Volume 2 is quite dark, and focusses on a government conspiracy that has sucked the members of Alpha Flight into its web. It's well-worth seeking out even though you have to buy the individual issues because it's never been collected.

I've read the first half of the Alpha Flight Volume 3 run (which only lasted 12 issues--diminishing returns!). It has a really light, jokey tone, but seems pretty good so far--except for the annoying "comic book character knows they're in a comic and breaks the fourth-wall" moments, which attacks years of hard work to build continuity and a "real" universe for the sake of a few cheap and not-all-that-funny jokes.

Apparently, almost all of Alpha Flight was killed off between panels in the New Avengers, leading to a new team called Omega Flight in a six-issue limited series. I'll have to report back to you on that one.


Two questions I'd like to answer right off the bat.

(1) Why should you, the reader, read this blog?

Answer: I have no earthly idea.

(2) Why am I, the blogger, writing this blog?

Answer: As the title indicates, as a repository for the legal, pop culture, and other detritus that builds up in my cranium, so as not to burden friends and family with it.

To quote Stan the Man, 'Nuff Said.