The year in review

By skepticlawyer

It’s fair to say that this blog, although newsy, is not a news site. It represents the eclectic contributions of a group of people with disparate interests to whatever happens to take their fancy. Fair and accurate, yes (lawyers tend to be paranoid about this sort of thing), but comprehensive and unbiased, no.

To that end, I’ve gone through our posts for the year and selected those I think were our best, or that garnered the best comments threads. I wanted to group them into categories (perhaps by geography or topic), but that proved too difficult, so, instead, I’ve gone by month, starting in January, 2012. I’ve tried to represent all our writers and our geographic diversity, but inevitably, my selection is just that, mine. Feel free to suggest alternatives in the comments 🙂


Remember the saga of Julia Gillard’s lost shoe and the Australia Day dust up that ensued? Legal Eagle does in this commentary on all things shoey. Meanwhile, in response to those who seek to regulate morals and taste, I point out that law has limits.


Legal Eagle reviews lawyer-philosopher Russell Blackford‘s Freedom of Religion and the Secular State, pointing out that this blog is down with book reviews, if publishers are happy to send us copies 🙂 In related news, DeusExMacintosh reveals how 9 would-be terrorists show that they’ve been getting ideas from Chris Morris films in the rampant stupidity stakes.


Joseph Kony and the Muppet Industrial Complex. Or something. DeusExMacintosh and I address it here. In non-muppet news, Legal Eagle and I review and discuss the Hunger Games phenomenon, via Juvenal, bent Romans, and Steven Pinker.


Kookaburras, Men at Work, and psychotic copyright laws. Legal Eagle has more. On a far more serious note, Lorenzo addresses the appalling complexity arising out of white Australia’s dealings with its Aboriginal population, with an excellent comments thread.


Legal Eagle’s first book is published, guest poster Jacques starts a diet riot, Lorenzo comments on the success of Australian economic policy while I conclude our Hunger Games series started two months previously.


Lorenzo unwittingly starts a Thread of Doom when writing about Buddhism (?!) and engages in a thoughtful dialogue with Bleeding Heart Libertarian blogger Steve Horwitz. In other news, DeusExMacintosh does a splendid job of comedian Jimmy Carr’s tax hyprocrisy.


Yes, we do book reviews, so here’s my review of Kylie Sturgess’s excellent The Scope of Skepticism, while Lorenzo takes on the Gold Bugs out there in Austrian Economics land and DeusExMacintosh points out that the Naked Rambler will get bored of Scotland’s gaols before Scotland’s sheriffs get bored of sending him inside.


I win the Law Society of Scotland’s 2012 Essay Award with ‘A Plea in Law for Equal Marriage‘, Legal Eagle and I address the whole ’50 Shades’ phenomenon, and DeusExMacintosh does the London Olympics funnie to end all London Olympics funnies…


Legal Eagle deals with the comedic legal fallout of art that’s so bad it’s good (or at least profitable) when it comes to Spain’s Ecce Homo ‘restoration’, while Lorenzo asks if we can have an intelligent conversation about Islam after seeing children brandishing posters calling for beheadings on Sydney streets. Of course, DeusExMacintosh does what one ought to do with religious nutters: takes the piss out of them. Then there is the small matter of bank penalty fees, so Legal Eagle provides a case note on the recent High Court ruling.


In the first of a number of posts addressing Alan Jones and the Australian media, Legal Eagle looks at the power of social media in instigating a successful secondary boycott. On a related theme, I discuss how social media is making everything old new again as we–like our village-bound ancestors–have to learn to keep still tongues in our heads lest we get overheard saying something untoward. I also turn (not having done it for a while) to the economics of the GFC, while Lorenzo provides a thoughtful response.


Lorenzo tracks down the fugliest architecture in the world so you don’t have to (tip: it’s in Saudi Arabia), DeusExMacintosh reveals that huge fines for errant passengers on Edinburgh’s monstrously overbudget, overpriced, overtime trams are already on the cards, while Legal Eagle discusses the case of the woman who sued Geelong Grammar for failing to get her into law school.


Legal Eagle reminds us–via a letter from a former slave to his former owner–that the past really is a foreign country. Lorenzo encounters the suburbs and their lack of infrastructure. Legal Eagle, once again, turns to Alan Jones and the ethics of enforced apologies. This leads to two posts that attempt to deal with the conundrum of human pain post Sandy Hook. In the first, I remind people that law has limits, especially in the US, and try to drain the anger and confusion out of much of the commentary by providing accurate statistical information. In the second, I discuss how the NRA’s blaming of video game violence and Hollywood for shooting deaths grossly weakens its case for the 2nd Amendment.

The ending, then, is a downbeat one. Maybe as we all join hands and sing a song of Burns when we see in the new year, we can begin to hope again: after all, hope springs eternal.

And another thing: if you like what we do, feel free to hit the ‘tip jar’ 🙂


  1. kvd
    Posted December 30, 2012 at 2:11 am | Permalink

    I am see your blog. It’s a nice blog to provide a good information.
    Its nice to read a useful article for beginner like me. Some of points from this article are very helpful for me as I haven’t considered them yet.

    A most appropriate comment left on Jim Belshaw’s blog which summarizes my own thoughts nicely 🙂

    I’d provide a link but I expect it will shortly be removed in the interests of good housekeeping (if not free speech) as it goes on to provide several links to pron and marital Ids and such like.

    Still, out of dust, diamonds – as my father used to say.

  2. kvd
    Posted December 30, 2012 at 2:21 am | Permalink

    Ha! “marital Ids”. The wonders of iPhone 🙂

  3. Posted December 30, 2012 at 3:21 am | Permalink

    You should do a post on that rebuilt Roman fort and the Centurion who’d desperately tried to take Italy with him. To Geordie-land. Just sayin’.

  4. Posted December 30, 2012 at 3:46 am | Permalink

    Happy new year to all the collective. I’ve enjoyed the blog this year, and learned a few things too. And yes, kvd, I fear that comment did enter the great dustbin in the sky, although I almost kept it for the sheer length of this list.

  5. Lurker
    Posted December 30, 2012 at 4:50 am | Permalink

    It is instructive that you did not include the blog in August about Gillard and the AWU. A blog that attracted around 130 comments – yet the 50 shades blog (which you did include) excited only five comments.

    Interesting exclusion. Perhaps an attempt to forget or bury it?

  6. Posted December 30, 2012 at 4:52 am | Permalink

    I wanted to group them into categories (perhaps by geography or topic), but that proved too difficult, so, instead, I’ve gone by month, starting in January, 2012. I’ve tried to represent all our writers and our geographic diversity, but inevitably, my selection is just that, mine. Feel free to suggest alternatives in the comments

    You could, you know, read what I actually wrote and then provide links 😉

  7. Lurker
    Posted December 30, 2012 at 5:57 am | Permalink

    I just found it odd that one of the most commented on blogs for 2012 didn’t make the list, when other blogs, which attracted less than half the amount of comments, was referred to.

    Just wondering if the oversight was deliberate given its contentious nature.

  8. Posted December 30, 2012 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    Thankyou – both to writers and those who comment – for your wit.

  9. Posted December 30, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] SL was clearly working on only noting a few posts per month, so I would not infer anything. After all, she missed my Easy Guide to Monetary Policy post.

  10. Posted December 31, 2012 at 4:05 am | Permalink

    Damn, I did miss that one, Lorenzo. Also missed the history of money post, with the fab cartoon of the Balinese chicken-seller. For some reason that one is perennially popular in searches for this blog.

  11. Posted December 31, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] Selection choices had to be made 🙂

    The history of money post has lots of links and connects to the controversy over David Graeber’s book.

  12. kvd
    Posted December 31, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Echo DB’s comments. It is appreciated. Hope the new year is better than the past; not a very high bar surely?

    Two requests. I’d be interested to read any comment LE might make on the very recent thoroughbred/AI breeding court case; and I’m hoping that DEM is resting, not retired.

    Thanks all, and kind thoughts & wishes. Commenters very much included.

  13. Mel
    Posted December 31, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for another year of making me think and most importantly, re-examine my prejudices. Somehow I got through the year unscathed apart from one stint in the sin bin during the Cambrian explosion.

    Here’s to another year of adventure and discovery in the Anthropocene.

  14. kvd
    Posted December 31, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    Oh dear. I shall spend the rest of the year worrying if it is progression or regression to immediately get one of Mel’s jokes 🙂

  15. Polybius
    Posted January 2, 2013 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Happy New Year to you all, and thanks for some great reading in 2012.

  16. kvd
    Posted January 3, 2013 at 2:10 am | Permalink

    Just used your link to get back to LE’s book then fulfilled a long held intention to purchase it via Amazon. The only worry I have is just what I’ve ordered – given the further recommended titles were as follows:

    Recommended for You
    * A Memory of Light (Wheel of Time (Tor Hardcover)) (Hardcover)
    * Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife (Paperback)
    * Gone Girl: A Novel (Hardcover)

    Who knew law could be so ethereal? Oh well – at least 50SHOG was missing 🙂

  17. kvd
    Posted January 3, 2013 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    Hi LE. Hope holidays are going well. This case has interested me for a while. Wondered if you might have any thoughts on it – although I must say I’m pleased it failed. Not yet read the judgement, but intend to when Telstra gives me my adsl back.

  18. Posted January 3, 2013 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    DEM is lurking in the background and shall return but is taking a bit of a break to get her head together. When she finds something funny blog readers will be the first to know.

  19. kvd
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    SL, regarding your ‘hit the tip jar’ sign-off, I hope that was/is successful? I was trying to email you, but as yet am unable to send. In answer to questions you might ask, I think you would do well to update your donations page a little more regularly – preserving requested anonymity of course – as I note the last acknowledgement was for a stray denarius thrown from the last departing Roman galley. Or maybe write a brief update post if appropriate, or some such something as you see fit 😉

    In a similar area, although I don’t particularly agree with Andrew Sullivan’s take on life, I do think his post on going independent fits in with a previous interesting discussion on this blog; therefore maybe worth a read for anyone interested in the possible future of individual blogging?

    Good to see DEM is sharpening pencils; although just how one ‘lurks’ on one’s own blog is a bit of a puzzle …

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