Category Archives: humour

Seinfeld makes it to court

I’ve written previously on how Alice in Wonderland has made it into many Court judgments. Well, now Jerry and Elaine have made it into a judgment too!

In Parish Oil Co Inc v Dillon Companies Inc, the US Court of Appeals in Colorado mentioned Seinfeld in an anti-trust case:

Indeed, the plaintiffs’ reading would apparently render unlawful in the State of Colorado a promotional gimmick so common that it features in an episode from Seinfeld:

JERRY: “Atomic Sub”? Why are you eating there?

ELAINE: I got a card, and they stamp it every time I buy a sub. Twenty four stamps, and I become a Submarine Captain!

JERRY: What does that mean?

ELAINE (embarrassed): Free sub.

Seinfeld: The Strike (NBC television broadcast Dec. 18, 1997).

If the first twenty-four sandwiches are sold for $4 apiece at a cost to the maker of $3, the customer who follows through and redeems the offer will have spent $96 to buy $75 worth of sandwiches. But the last one is sold below cost (in fact, it is “free”), making it illegal under the plaintiffs’ version of the UPA. We do not believe the Colorado legislature would have acted so cavalierly as to ban such customer-rewards programs—indeed, to make them criminal—without more clearly expressing an intent to do so.

The plaintiff had sought to challenge a scheme whereby consumers at a particular supermarket got reduced cost petrol from a particular supplier if they had purchased groceries of a specified value. I’m sure this is familiar to all and sundry (our house abounds in vouchers for cut-price petrol from various outlets).

I think it’s awesome that the Court used Seinfeld to illustrate its point.

Now my only wish is that a court use the episode from Treehouse of Horror IV  to illustrate the concept of nemo dat quod non habet (you cannot give what you do not have). In a portion of this episode, Ned Flanders appears as the devil and tempts Homer with a donut in exchange for his soul. Homer, of course, accepts the offer and signs the contract. He cannot resist eating all of the donut, and the devil appears to claim his soul. However, Marge and Lisa are able to show that Homer could not give his soul to the devil because he had already given his soul to Marge on their wedding day (Marge produces a signed photo as evidence of this). Accordingly, the devil cannot take Homer’s soul, but turns his head into a huge donut… There you have it: nemo dat quod non habet in a nutshell.

Well, I’m a property lawyer, of course my wishes are nerdy.

(Via Core Economics)

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Filed under consumer affairs, crazy stuff, humour, judges, law, property, television

For the love of Chris

Possibly I shouldn’t laugh. But I got a hilarious spam e-mail today, and I can’t help reproducing it for you too:

Dear Beloved In Chris

i am mrshelen david brown the wife of fomer ministre of agricuture in sudan here in africa, i know that you may not believe my story becuse of what is happening in the word today,  but if you can believe that jesus christ came to the word and died for you and me you will belive my story in the name of our lord jesus amen

I and my husband was living with happiness praying for God to answer us our prayer by giving us even if one child to be call our own  becuse my husband and i were orhpans. We dont have any brother sister or any relative all our relative died doing the crisis that occure in our country here in africa. God is the only one we have as brother and sister before my husband was appointed as the minister of agricuture here in our country sudan. Things was so beutiful before the anemies come in, since my husband get into the sit of a minister his political oponet has been loking for away to  pull him down untill when they sent assasin to kill my husband on his way home from the office. Before then my husband deposited the sum usd $7.6 million in a bank in Cote  d’ivoire Abijan one the country here in africa which he use my name as the nest of kin and the beneficary of that money since we have no child.

Five months after my husband death i travelled to london for my medical treatment that was when the doctor comfimed that i have cancer and firbrod. I spent more than one year in the hospital in london before the doctor told me to go back to my conutry that my sicknes can not be cured. I came back home praying for God to save me without knowing that another sicknes is on the way to come. One morning i was coming out from the hospital were i was taking my treatment in one of the village here in my conutry i fell down on the ground two days later the doctor comfirmd that i have a stroke since then my dear one in the lord i have never use my two leg to walk or to stand any longer, few weeks ago the doctor told me that i will not last long any longer in the earth that is why i decided to donate my money to the Orphanage widows and les previleges one so that peoples life can be giving a meanig.

But my problem is, can i trust you as a true christian to help me do this work of God not for Man becuse i want to fufill the last wold of my husband before he died. He told me to donate his wealth to the orphanage or les previlege ones to any country of my choice. That is why i am contacting you and handing  this money into you care to use it  for the work of God not for man becuse i am going down every day by day. Please my dear one in the lord, if you are touch by my story please do not waist time to contact me  so that i will give you the contact of the bank and inform them about you so that you can contact them for the money to be transfar into your own account in your conutry, THANK AND GOD BLESS YOU AS YOU HELP ME AMEN

mrshelen david

Sorry, mrshelen david, I don’t believe a word you say, and I don’t believe in Chris either (unless you’re talking about a guy I went to uni with, which seems unlikely). But you did make me laugh. And I hope your firbrods get better soon.

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When PC = “Pretty Clueless”

Ham / Supplied

What is wrong with this picture? Hmm. Think about it for 5 seconds.

A posh New York food store apparently tried its best to be inclusive and politically correct, but missed the important point that any Jew who is likely to be celebrating Chanukah is unlikely to be eating ham. It’s just not kosher. Yeah, of course I know some non-observant Jews who eat ham, but as far as I’m aware they don’t bother to celebrate Chanukah in a big way.

It’s quite sweet really that the store tried to think of customers who would be celebrating festivals other than Christmas, but oh so clueless. Still, they should feel some nachas for trying.

Incidentally, I have to say that so far this year, I have received two Christmas cards…from Jewish friends. Maybe they’re the only ones who have patience for it all any more. I’ve only visited one large shopping centre so far in the last month, but already I was getting a bad case of the ol’ Bah Humbugs again. It always seems to hit around this time of year. In fact, it’s almost a year to the day from that Bah Humbug post.

When attending the large shopping centre (aka “Hellhole”) I thought I should take the kidlet to see Santa, but she ran screaming from the poor Santa-man, shouting “No, no, no! GO ‘WAY!” I felt a bit sorry for the Santa, he must get that all day. So I waved and smiled at him as I ran to catch the bubba. What a job.

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Filed under christianity, Christmas, crazy stuff, food, humour, judaism, religion, tolerance

Not so funny…

On Wednesday night, The Chaser featured a song which poked fun at Princess Di, Steve Irwin, Peter Brock, Stan Zemanek, Don Bradman, Kerry Packer and other dead celebrities. It has been widely slammed by politicians. The Herald Sun editorial says that the song “gratuitously slandered people whose memories are cherished by Australians.”

Chris Taylor, the author of the song, said “I think it makes a fair enough point that people who were flawed in life are often disproportionately hailed as saints in death.”

I’m not a fan of the hagiography surrounding dead celebrities in the media. Just to take an example from The Chaser’s list of celebrities, I must confess that I found the massive outpouring of grief at the death of Princess Diana to be bizarre. While she was alive, I didn’t have much time for her. I don’t know that I’d go as far as Germaine Greer’s biting criticism, but I always found her to be a sad person rather than a person to be admired. I am sure she did some good things, but there are others whom I admire far more. That being said, I found the nature of her death to be tragic because she was a young woman, a mother of two small boys, and it was a horrible way to die. But I certainly didn’t feel personally bereaved in any sense. 

I don’t know if I’m unusual; I don’t connect with media celebrities in the way that many other people seem to. When I was a teenager, I never had crushes on celebrity actors, and wondered if I was abnormal. I did, however, have crushes on imaginary fictional characters (eg,  Faramir in Lord of the Rings – swoon!). I think I would feel more of a sense of personal loss at the death of an esteemed judge rather than a celebrity. Perhaps that just proves I’m a nerd.

I would be interested to know about the psychology of mass outpourings of public grief. Often we are encouraged to hide our grief, but perhaps when there is a death of a much-admired celebrity, the public expression of grief becomes acceptable. Maybe people feel that they can grieve their own loved ones as well as grieving for a celebrity? And I think the very imperfections of the people mentioned in the song was part of their attraction, and the reason why people identified with them. It made people feel better about their own relationship troubles, mistakes and the like.

So, unlike the Herald Sun, I wouldn’t say that I cherished the memory of any of the people mentioned in the song. But nor would I deliberately make fun of their deaths. It just seems like bad taste. The fact remains that the people mentioned in the song still have families who are distressed by the death of loved ones. And I would not want to distress them further by making fun of those deaths. I think it was “cheap” of The Chaser to court notoriety in this fashion. I’ve never had that much time for them anyway: I don’t really like cruel humour of that type.

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Filed under freedom of speech, humour, media, society, television

Nice to see they’re hip cats on the High Court

I just read that the High Court is hearing a Constitutional challenge to those provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Cth) which prevent a person who is serving a sentence of imprisonment from voting (namely ss 93(8AA), 208(2)(c) and 221(3)).

Now that’s an interesting legal question in and of itself. But it gets even more interesting when you read the transcript of the hearing:

MR MERKEL: … I was going to say under section 93(8AA) the amending legislation defines “sentence of imprisonment”. That is at page 7. This was also a significant amendment because prior to this amendment there was a question about whether home detention or parole would be caught by the disqualification. So this amendment made it clear that you had to be in detention on a full-time basis. So that is in the extrinsic materials. So there was no question if someone on parole or on home detention would not be caught by the disqualification and that comes out as a result of that definition.

Can I take your Honours next to Part VIII of the Act starting at page 122 dealing with – – –

KIRBY J: So Paris Hilton would now be disqualified, but last week for a short time she would have been entitled to vote?

MR MERKEL: Yes, your Honour, and she would have been entitled if she were in Australia and an Australian citizen to be standing here unburdened by the five-year point at least.

KIRBY J: I just wanted you to know that I follow these things.

(Via Larvatus Prodeo)

What a hip cat that Kirby J is! Just check out his efforts as a rapper recently:

(Photo via Sydney Morning Herald)

Well, perhaps I should qualify that. He’s not always quite so down and jiggy wid’ it… Check out this beautiful little snippet of transcript from 2002, involving a case about contributory negligence and drink driving.

CALLINAN J: Mr Jackson, it seems to me that clearly the people at the party, including Ms Joslyn and Mr Berryman, went out with the intention of getting drunk.

MR JACKSON: It would be a big night, your Honour, big night.

CALLINAN J: With the intention of getting drunk and they fulfilled that intention.

MR JACKSON: Well, your Honour, young people sometimes – – –

KIRBY J: I just think “drunk” is a label and I am a little worried about – it is not necessary to put that label. It is just that they were sufficiently affected by alcohol to affect their capacity to drive.

MR JACKSON: Yes.

KIRBY J: “A drunk” has all sorts of baggage with it.

HAYNE J: Perhaps “hammered” is the more modern expression, Mr Jackson, or “well and truly hammered”.

MR JACKSON: I am indebted to your Honour.

KIRBY J: I do not know any of these expressions.

McHUGH J: No, no. Justice Hayne must live a very different life to the sort of life we lead.

KIRBY J: I have never heard that word “hammered” before, never. Not before this very minute.

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Filed under Australia, courts, crazy stuff, criminal law, high court, humour, law

Some people are just pathetic

A reader has sent me a link to this story from The Guardian about the latest antics of Rush Limbaugh, a US conservative shock jock. Apparently, Limbaugh has been playing a song on his show called “Barack the Magic Negro“, referring to Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama. Obama hopes to become the first African-American president of the US.

I can’t help being shocked and horrified by the title of the song. The term “Magical Negro” was coined by Spike Lee to describe a stock Hollywood movie character who appears out of nowhere to help the white protagonist. African-American commentator David Ehrenstein first used the term in conjunction with Barack Obama in an article in the Los Angeles Times. Ehrenstein explains the “Magical Negro” as follows:

He’s there to assuage white “guilt” (i.e., the minimal discomfort they feel) over the role of slavery and racial segregation in American history, while replacing stereotypes of a dangerous, highly sexualized black man with a benign figure for whom interracial sexual congress holds no interest.

Ehrenstein’s argument was that Obama is a “Magical Negro” – he is a benign and polite figure who presents no danger to white American sensibilities. Sounds like a modern take on the “Noble Savage“. If I read it correctly, Ehrenstein’s argument is that it is too good to be true, and of course, being an ordinary human being, Obama has flaws and shortcomings just like the rest of us. By idealising Obama in this fashion rather than treating him as a real person, once he behaves like an ordinary person and falls from grace, the public cannot help but be disappointed. Secondly, Ehrenstein seems to suggest that Obama is sidestepping a whole heap of issues which affect African-American people because he is concentrating on being “safe”. In this way, white voters feel that their guilt is assuaged and that everything is hunky-dory in terms of race relations.

Ehrenstein’s column is at least intelligent. The same can’t be said for Rush Limbaugh’s song. Apparently the singer is parodying black activist and politician Al Sharpton. (For a bit of context: relations between Sharpton and Obama have been rumoured to be tense, although Sharpton has categorically denied this.) I’m not exactly sure what the point is. Humour is culturally relative, so perhaps I’m missed the humour of the song because I’m Australian, but it just seems stupid, racist and offensive to me. I thought about listening to it again to try and work out whether I’d missed a funny bit somewhere. But then I decided not to bother. First, the though of listening to the song again made me feel dejected. Secondly, I suspected that I hadn’t missed any funny bits. So I didn’t waste my time.

Things like this raises difficult questions of freedom of speech and tolerance. How far does one have to tolerate offensive and intolerant points of view? Should people be allowed to parody and criticise politicians on the basis of their personal characteristics? How is parodying Obama for being African-American different from suggesting John Howard shares a marked similarity with Penfold the Hamster from DangerMouse? In both cases, each politician is being singled out because personal characteristics. But when a parody is racially based, it is not just about a physical characteristic. It is potentially a slur against a whole group of people. It is particularly vexed because of the history of slavery, oppression and segregation of African-Americans, and the way in which racial characteristics were used to perpetrate and justify that unfairness. Limbaugh has attempted to justify his use of the term by saying “Well, Ehrington said it first” – but I think Ehrington’s use of the term was quite different to Limbaugh’s use. The song is patronising towards Obama and Sharpton, inviting the audience to laugh these “uppity” men who think that they can play a white man’s political game.

But does suppressing comment such as this help? Clearly, shock-jocks such as Limbaugh and Imus are tapping into a certain pre-existing feeling within the community, and getting rid of them is not going to stop that feeling. However, my concern with radio demagogues is that they have immense influence, and can ratchet people’s feelings up to a dangerous level (see previous post on Alan Jones, Sydney shock jock). On the other hand, preventing someone like Limbaugh from playing his song might cause him to garner more sympathy.

I can’t help hoping that Limbaugh will get in trouble in the same way Imus did, but I can’t see it happening unless, as in Imus’ case, radio sponsors pull the pin. Evidently, Obama and his team have played the whole thing very coolly, refusing to get upset, but gently suggesting the song was dumb anyway. Perhaps that’s the best way to play it.

I can’t help thinking that in the end, the song says far more about Rush Limbaugh than it does about Barack Obama. Limbaugh is a pathetic idiot if that’s what he finds funny.

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Filed under freedom of speech, humour, media, politics, racism, tolerance, USA

Some light relief – The Law Nemesis

My posts have been pretty heavy going lately. So let’s have some light relief. Apparently one of my readers, Jim Belshaw, came across this very funny video via my blog. I’m not quite sure how he managed to get to it from my blog, but it’s a very funny comment on law students and law school.

{Note of explanation: I have figured out that at UQ, Honours in Law is awarded on the basis of GPA (presumably Grade Point Average) – might help explain the background to the first two sketches…} Anyway, enjoy…

P.S. My husband just looked over my shoulder and said “I can’t believe you’ve found nerdy things on YouTube…you’ve nerded it out!”

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