The Scots Law Student

The SLS : Life and trials of learning law in Scotland

Tag: holiday

Well thought out airport security checks

In light of Paul Chambers this is possibly the riskiest post on this blog. What follows are criticisms of the security services (not the real Security Service, just airport staff, I’m not crazy), comments about holes in security processes and the word “blow” is used repeatedly in various different contexts. I can only hope and pray that Scotland’s public interest differs from England’s.

Disclosure:

I think a lot of airport security is a bit of a farce designed to look busy with little to no protective value. The images in this post are cropped, but otherwise unedited, screenshots taken from the security pages at www.glasgowairport.com and it really does say these things on the site.

I like security

I’m going away on my holidays soon and I was looking up the airport baggage restrictions so I’m not forced to post my luggage home or something. I’ve written about the restriction on liquids for the blog before which I consider a particularly ridiculous piece of security theatre.

The big reason I find it so offensive is that I most definitely would like my life to be protected from people who want to blow up my plane, and if my life is on the line I don’t want stupid rules about taking your shoes off and only buying drinks after you’re through the scanners when they could actually be doing something else that might save my life. Other reasons include generally not liking stupidity, or being hassled unnecessarily (“will you remove your shoes?” “why?” “in case you blow them up”) and the mind boggling costs involved in stupidly hassling people unnecessarily.

The 100 ml rule

Generally in any kind of security, computer or airport, somewhere in the middle is both the natural compromise and the worst option – it’s neither particularly convenient nor particularly safe. The 100 ml rule is a classic example of this.

As far as liquids being dangerous and the “100 ml rule” are concerned there are only two possible questions raised – either:

  1. Liquids, gels and pastes are dangerous. In that case why are you allowed to take them onto a plane with other people? (No one’s allowed to take 100ml of gunpowder in a clear plastic bag) or,
  2. Liquids, gels and pastes aren’t dangerous. Well, in this case why aren’t you allowed to bring as much as you like? (After all, lots of Scottish ex-pats would like to blow their weight allowance on Irn Bru)

I also don’t understand why 100ml of liquid, gel or paste explosive wouldn’t be enough to make a big bang or why terrorists couldn’t organise and pool their 100ml bottles together to make a bigger bang? Also, why are liquids only dangerous if you have them in carry-on? You can have your entire weight limit in liquid explosive stowed in the hold (it’s against the airline rules on explosives but, after all, you are a terrorist) that’s simply not looked at or tasted.

Tasted?

There’s some serious problems with the testing scheme as well:

This goes for baby milk and medicines, I’m not sure if it covers human/animal liquids or toiletries or perfumes but there’s kinda no reason why it wouldn’t.

Firstly, just tasting something isn’t actually a test for anything. In every movie where a cop sticks his finger in the white powder and tries a bit he then sends it to an actual forensic lab to be looked at properly. “I stuck my finger in it and had a bit” is never going to stand up in court. All you’re testing there is if someone will drink weird things out of a bottle if you ask them to. That’s a game very drunk students play.

Secondly, I don’t know if anyone’s realised this but I think, if I was planning to blow up a plane that I was on, then risking poisoning to convince the security guy to let me on the plane would be a total no-brainer. However, if I was on medicine and I was ordered to take a dose (or possibly more than a dose) outside of my prescription to prove to a guy with a plastic nametag and no medical degree that it was medicine I’d need to say no. The suicide bomber would be the one you’d let on the plane.

Baby milk

You’re expected to open and taste a full half of your baby milk. That’s just a weird policy – again, if baby milk is potentially dangerous you should damn well test it all if it’s going on my plane and if it’s not dangerous why are you testing any of it? Half is just not the right amount of testing to do.

The irritating thing to remember when looking at this rule is just how reasonable and common sense some of the restrictions are – no grenades, for example. That’s perfectly fine by me, I’m all for keeping grenades off planes.

And finally

…there are crazy things like this:

Seriously, they make you drink-test your medicine cabinet and breast milk from little bottles in a clear plastic bag but you get to take a pressurised gas cigarette lighter on board a non-smoking flight. Weirdly you only get to take one – yet again, if it’s dangerous why let any on at all and if it’s not dangerous why can’t you take two?

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Eugh

I’ve made a rather major mistake. This is what I write an anonymous blog for – it’s not anonymous for my successes, I’d much rather my successes were projected onto the moon but it’s the mistakes and the “non-successes” and controversial news that anonymity’s good for. I’m about to give the reader an object lesson in keeping on top of your uni work.

I was 2 days late with my holiday assignment. That’s not the end of the world but it’s a big thing at uni, that’s a 10% deduction right off the bat. I took a very relaxing and unproductive Christmas break assuming that my one piece of imminent written work was straight forward and short and could be dealt with quickly and I would be able to pretend that my break was more intellectual and less lazy and fattening than it happened to be.

It was not. I came home from a lovely weekend away the morning before it was due and looked over it. It was gargantuan and meandered across three vastly different areas of law. I swore, loudly, because there was nothing else I could really do.

I then gritted my teeth and sat up until it was done, as it happens that was two days of solid 4 hours sleep one night, none the next toil, and grabbing food to eat at my desk. The room I’m sitting in currently is a bomb site with plates and cups strewn around sitting on top of open books and a sleeping bag in the corner and I’m only just calmed down enough to start tidying it up.

The desk’s surface is inexplicably covered in a detailed pencil study of a tree I can see from my window that was drawn at a particularly bleak point around dawn this morning that saw me hit a wall. It’s actually rather beautiful and I’m much prouder of it than I am the assignment.

It’s very grim. I have read enough to produce a treatise on three areas of law and then boiled it down to produce an essay far short of the word limit (read: word suggestion), that and the long hours staring at a computer screen have left my eyes bloodshot and weepy and I’ve never appreciated being able to sleep more in a long time. I can’t sleep though, I’m still feeling far too flush with adrenaline from trying to make it to the deadline (or at least before I ended up 3 days late) and that’s why I handed in such a small effort. I checked the delivery status of my assignment with my heart in my mouth and then I immediately got up to stand under the shower for 40 minutes.

I’m concerned because this is one of my feared “professional subjects” – the ones that decide your application to the post graduate Diploma in Legal Practice that’s pretty much a required step for the wannabe lawyer and the assignment was for a great deal more of the total mark than my other subjects and not only do these grades affect your entry to the diploma, they also affect the quality of the scholarships you may or may not qualify for. It’s a very expensive couple of months and a scholarship’s not to be sniffed at. As it happens I get my undergraduate degree fees paid for by Mr Salmond, if I’m honest I’d much rather he paid for my post graduate studies because I can much easier meet the subsidised fees I get written off by the SAAS each year.

Flunking an assignment for a professional subject isn’t the end of the world but it’s stressful and a needless headache if you had weeks with not much in the way of university obligations and it’s a task to make up the difference in the written exam later on if, really, you could have avoided it by just working through the new Jonathan Creek (although it was quite good) and Wallace and Gromit (which was its quirky, nostalgic, British golden self) . There’s a few subjects that you want to make sure you actually pass – your big credit earning ones, your professional subject and anything you took because a professional regulatory body told you to. This class here happened to be all three.

And when I say “you” what I mean is “me.”

My advice to any and all students is:

  1. Read your assignments over, not just the question but also the other bits of helpful paper you’re given.
    I thought I was dealing with a cute problem solving scenario to tear through using the textbook, Westlaw and the 4 part structure right until I discovered I was supposed to make it  the length of a small book the day I was supposed to send it to be marked.
  2. Have a diary or calendar that you use every day.
    I personally use my mobile phone’s calendar which lets me plug in all the dates that I’d possibly need (I’m not that busy a person 😉 ) and I’ve set it up to remind me either the week before or the day before before every appointment. It’s crazy and it’s over kill but it means that I know when I need to drag the sleeping bag under the computer desk. This particular assignment was left out in a memory full bug that was cured a good bit after the homework had slipped my mind and I thought it wasn’t due in until next week.
  3. Have a backup diary that won’t run out of memory at the worst possible time.
    I know, it’s incredibly tedious keeping a handwritten diary up to date but if I did it better I’d be sitting here thinking how generally smug I was that I got my coursework in on time.
  4. Be honest that you (meaning I) have the impulse control of a crack addict when it comes to doing anything that isn’t schoolwork.
    Sometimes, even if you’re even the most ardent law fan (as I like to think I am) you’ll realise that the holidays with all the friends who moved away to other towns coming home and seeing family and all the other parts of holidays is just much better than sitting reading the works of the institutional writers in an all-too empty library until your eyes start to puff up. Bite the bullet and get any work you need done, done. Then sit back and think how smug you get to be about it. One of my friends gets her assignments done at least 2 weeks before the due date and I’ve known her two years now and I still think she must have the discipline needed to only take one After 8 mint and I admire her in the same way I admire astronauts. That’s a bad sign. I’m great at reading but not so good at sitting down and doing the written work, try and get a balance in your own studies.

Merry Christmas from SLS (And “Don’t mess with my computer”)

christmas-tree

Merry Christmas to everyone who reads this, I hope the holiday is relaxing and no one needs to do too much today. I’m looking forward to ridiculous calorific intake over many hours today, it’s at least one day of the year when the Pot Noodle is simply not on the menu for students after breakfast.

I thought I’d mention a story from across the pond which might reassure everyone who thinks they might be taking this law thing “too seriously.”

Alex Botsios is a 1L (first year of law school) at Arizona State University. Like many students his dorm room is a ripe target for thieves. One particularly bold individual appeared in his room through the unlocked window during the night brandishing a baseball bat. The thief (committing aggravated theft, of course) demanded he hand over his possessions. Botsios, being trapped in a room with an armed man, agreed and later said:

“ he had no problem giving a nighttime intruder his wallet and guitars. “

However, greed was to be this thief’s downfall, not content with the gift of music he went back for more:

“When the man asked for Botsios’ laptop, however, the first-year law student drew the line.

“I was like, ‘Dude, no — please, no!” Botsios said. “I have all my case notes…that’s four months of work!” “

I agree with this feeling, I slipped on ice during the recent freeze and escaped a pretty nasty injury by landing on my laptop and cushioning my fall with a mighty cracking sound and I recall, straight through the sense of embarrassment at decking it and the pain of landing so heavily that I felt physically sick, firstly because I might have had to find the money to buy a new computer from somewhere and also because I might have lost my work right before I was to submit assignments.

Botsios, unlike myself, had a target to vent his rage at and attacked his robber. Literally, he managed to hospitalise a hardened robber in his quest to save his laptop.

“ At that point, the law student wrestled the bat away and began punching Saucedo, Botsios said.

“I basically grabbed him and threw him this way, and he held onto the bat so it threw him to the ground,” he said.

Police said they took Saucedo to the hospital for stitches before they arrested him on charges of armed robbery and kidnapping. Other than a bruised knuckle and a few scratches, Botsios was unharmed.“

In a fairly amazing job of rubbing salt into the robber’s not-only-figurative wounds he left with this final quote:

“It’s my baby,” he said. “Don’t mess with my computer.”

A sentiment I think we can all get behind at T minus 1 hour to a deadline.

And the man who suffered all this?  This is the robber, stitched lip and all:

This is the man after the law student was done with him

NB: Speaking as a not very secret IT person I would recommend that anyone else who has invested enough into their work to fight to defend it from robbers should invest in a reliable backup strategy so that even if you wake up or come home to find your dorm / house trashed and your laptop missing you can still get back to work quickly.

The thought occurs that this is a big enough topic and important enough to be a blog entry on its own at a later date, so stay tuned.