Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Kathleen Eckelt is a forensic nurse in the Baltimore area, and I am grateful to her blog for this stone-cold round-up of domestic violence injuries.

Those of you too lazy to click on the link should at least learn the following information about a choke-hold:-

It takes only 11lbs. of pressure, held bilaterally for 10 seconds, to cause the victim to become unconscious.

If applied to a person under stress during a struggle, a strangle may make the person unconscious almost immediately, while it may take several seconds for a calm person to pass out.

If released, consciousness returns in about 10-20 seconds.
If held for 50 seconds, damage is usually irreversible.
Death occurs at 1-2 minutes.

Policemen are no longer allowed to use this type of restraint against a strong, violent male prisoner due to the deaths that have occurred as a result of the compression on the airway.

It takes only 4 lbs. of pressure to obstruct the jugular veins.

To make a comparison:

It takes 6 lbs. of pressure to pull the trigger of a gun.

It takes 20lbs. of pressure to pull the tab on a soda can.

Can't help thinking this Magistrate is going to take a particularly dim view of people who mistreat their partners in this dangerous manner.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Rare Good Song

I was in a café the other day and they played "I Can't Dance" by Genesis followed by "Losing My Religion" by REM. It occurred to me that these two are examples of songs that I love from people who haven't produced a single other song that I like.

Further examples include :-

"Shelter From The Storm" - Bob Dylan
"Could It Be Magic" - Barry Manilow
"Can't Speak French" - Girls Aloud
"Quatuor Pour La Fin Du Temps" - Olivier Messiaen

I'm not talking about "One Hit Wonders" - there are plenty enough of those. What fascinates me is that someone can produce one thing that works for me amongst a considerable mountain of stuff that doesn't.

Any further nominations gratefully received.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Among the 1.6 billion pieces of legislation brought in by the government in the last decade (a rough estimate, I admit) there have been some good ones.

Take "Sections 12 and 13 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004" for example.

Before this law came in, a victim of domestic violence would have had to :-
(a) Wait for the criminal case to result in a guilty verdict
(b) Apply to the civil courts for a restraining order
After this came in :-
(a) Magistrates issue a restraining order at the end of the criminal trial, whether proven or not, if the court considers it necessary to protect a person from harassment.
Imagine you're in an abusive relationship - doesn't that sound like an improvement to you?

Even though this act was passed in 2004, for reasons passing all understanding it only came into force last September, and so I only came across it for the first time the other day.

In that case the Defence lawyer contended that even though his client had just been convicted of something that might have killed his soon-be-be-ex wife, this was a one-off and he had no previous violence conviction. Probation had rated him as a low risk of re-offending and the only thing the Restraining Order would achieve would be to make it difficult for him to maintain his relationship with his teenage son. It would be "a sledgehammer to crack a nut".

After a fascinating discussion in the retiring room with two particularly experienced colleagues, we decided that some nuts do need a sledgehammer and granted the restraining order.

Maybe we've just spoiled the relationship between a father and a son, but more likely we've given a man another reason not to hurt a woman.

I'm sleeping fine.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Letts Get Stuck In

The only thing I have in common with Quentin Letts is that neither of us can write quite as well as we think we can.

It seems he's the type who keeps a list of people who have irritated him in some way. The result is his book "50 People Who Buggered Up Britain" which is 277-pages of sheer sneering whine.

His prose style is bizarre - like a collaboration between a petulant adolescent and a dyspeptic retired judge. But that's not the real problem with the book.

HIs choice of targets is bewildering enough - some of these people were doing their job or the right thing or both. Heath sacked Enoch Powell - and that was a bad thing ??? Callaghan started us on the long road to decimalisation ???

Some of the blows are particularly low and lazy. Why criticise Ed Balls for having a silly name and goggly eyes when his handling as Education secretary of the Baby P case is so much more worthy of invective?

The main gripe I have though is that Britain plainly isn't "Buggered Up". Heck it stand to improve, but this country is one the best things about an imperfect world. It works as least as well as it always did and in some ways it's getting better and better. Just ask the stream of people who stow away in boxes and take very shallow breaths to get here.

And it's not individuals who do the damage. All of the issues that annoy Letts are the result of large complicated (but dull) social forces. For example, it's simplistic (but oh so human) to pretend that John McEnroe was responsible for our lack of respect for referees because he so publicly lost the page with one in 1981. How much easier to blame a person.

So in short: wrong-headed, plain wrong and not that well written.

Quite a bit like reading "The Daily Mail" .

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Douglas Adams, Ulysees and The Wire

In hospital I read two and a half out of four books of a "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" compilation. I was reading it right up to the point where I had to put on my dressing gown, grab a pillow and walk down to the operating theatre. Made me feel very Arthur Dent.

I did consider taking Ulysees, which is my favourite book ever - but I figured I would need something a bit less demanding and the decision was a good one. Haven't read these incredible books since I was half my current age and they have aged a lot better than I have. Except for the stuff about digital watches.

Coming round from the anaesthetic, I came up with the theory that "Hitchhiker's Guide" and "Ulysses" are fundamentally the same book:-

Arthur Dent = Leopold Bloom
Ford Prefect = Stephen Daedalus
Zaphod = Blazes Boyland
Trillian = Molly Bloom
The Universe = Dublin
Milliways = the brothel where Stephen and Leopold meet.

Plus, both books start with a shave.

Recovering at home, I'm working through the complete box-sets of "The Wire" that Mrs Stan gave me for Christmas.

Must - resist - temptation .... must - not - rave - incoherently - about - its brilliance.

You do lose yourself in the world of street-level Baltimore and it must be difficult to follow without a dictionary. I hope the following is useful:-

"The hopper's carrying a burner" - the frog has a barbecue

"re-up" - concerning up

"G packs" - what you keep g-strings in

"The civilian's carrying weight" - big fat non-soldier

"The Game" - cricket, I think

"He's not a fiend, he's slinging" - a morally good, but incompetent darts player

"The sh*& is tight" - I'm constipated

"McNulty" - A device for turning alcohol into outrage