This page is of historic interest only in many respects, but for those of you who’ve found your way here because you’re interested in our writing, here’s the skinny:

Helen Dale has been a political staffer, solicitor, barrister, novelist, and advertising copywriter. Her first novel won the Miles Franklin Award and has just been reissued. Her second novel (in two parts) is coming out in October 2017.

Katy Barnett has been a solicitor and legal academic. She’s currently Associate Professor of Law at Melbourne University and is the author of two textbooks.

Lorenzo Warby has been a political staffer, a think-tank boffin, and a specialist in medieval education. He has a book on the history of marriage coming out next year.

Welcome to our new place. We used to have our own blogs (or write for major political blogs), but since May 2008 we’ve been doing our own thing here. Pull up a pew, grab a beer (or three) and join in the conversation.

Two of us are lawyers and long-time bloggers, one of us is a journalist and cartoonist and one of us is a techie and academic. We came together with a plan to do something a bit interesting on the writing front, and to try out some new ideas. Feel free to wander around and enjoy what we’ve got on offer.

Do be aware that there are four of us, and that we don’t always agree. This blog is many things, but an echo chamber it ain’t.

skepticlawyer is Helen Dale

I completed the BCL at Oxford University in 2008, with an emphasis on jurisprudence (although my coursework interests were all over the place – everything from evidence to criminology to constitutional law). I’ve now just submitted my MPhil, which involved a thesis and journal publications. It focussed on law and economics, with particular attention on the work of Richard Thaler, Joseph Raz and F.A. Hayek.

I started my blogging life at Thoughts on Freedom, the Australian Libertarian Society blog, and then wrote for Catallaxy, one of Australia’s bigger political blogs. I’ve also had a hand in preparing Missing Link over at Club Troppo. Despite all sorts of rash promises, I’ve only ever blogged at large group blogs where other people (thanks to Jason Soon and Sukrit Sabhlok) have had to do all the difficult stuff.

As should be reasonably obvious, politically I’m a classical liberal/libertarian. Put crudely, this means ‘economically right-wing, socially left wing’, although there’s a bit more to it than that.

Also, in case you were wondering, I’m the eponymous skeptic; I’ve even written for their magazine.

At the moment I’m completing the necessary studies to practice in Scotland.

DeusExMacintosh is still incognito

I used to write mainly for computer magazines (though there was also a memorable six months spent on a paranormal magazine with Uri Geller) until I became disabled. Since then I’ve been kept pretty busy fighting through the morass that is the benefits system, managing a neurological disability and looking after my Assistance Dog. At one stage of the process I accidentally became a Disability Equality Trainer.

My blogging is limited to Skepticlawyer where I photoshop our weekly satirical cartoons – an homage to Private Eye – though you’ll find me commenting over at Hoyden About Town reasonably regularly (they just don’t post enough LOLdogs). I am plotting my return to university.

Personal interests include British politics/constitutional issues, baroque music, business and/or finance and probably religion as I’m a Quaker.

I couldn’t say where I fall on the political spectrum. I fall on a lot of things.

Having grown up in Australia, I now live in Edinburgh, Scotland and like 80% of the British population am working on a novel.

WittyKnitter is Mary-Helen Ward

I’m a Kiwi who dropped out of Uni in the early 70s, worked as a public servant, married and had three children in short order. In 1987 several things happened (including falling in love with a woman), which turned my life topsy-turvy, and by 1990 I was living alone in a provincial city, finishing my bachelor’s degree.

I turned out to be quite good at academic work, and by the mid-nineties I had two masters degrees (one in English and one in Women’s Studies) and was working at the University as an editor. I upturned myself again in 1998, moving to Sydney for a job and a woman, Narelle. Sadly, she died at the end of 2002 after many months in hospital.

I decided to stay in Sydney, and eventually found a job at Sydney Uni, in the online learning team. I’m now a manager in that team, looking after eLearning development in the Sciences and Engineering faculties. And working there has given me the opportunity to do a PhD, exploring an idea that had been incubating for some years. I would investigate what it was like to do a PhD – research what theorists and other academics say it is like and how it is funded and managed, and measure all that against what students say about their experience, and write a thesis about it. Five years later, and I’m on track to submit the thesis in the first half of 2012.

I’ve been blogging as Witty Knitter here since the end of 2003. That blog is tagged “What I do, what I think and what I knit”. I’m expecting that the things I post here will mostly be in the ‘what I think’ category – I don’t think that skepticlawyer is ready to become a knitting blog just yet. And for about the same length of time I’ve been in a relationship with Sandra, who is another knitter, a nurse academic, a really good stick, and one of the most ethical people I have ever met.

I’m politically left, in a fairly unsophisticated way – instinctive rather than rational. I’m certainly an instinctive feminist, and have been since I can remember.

I love to read fiction, I try to swim twice a week, I design knitted garments, but I’m not writing a novel. I’ve written several ‘bottom drawer’ efforts, and when I’ve finished my PhD and retired I will write the Great Australasian Novel. Or, learn to weave. I haven’t decided yet. And those three children? My daughter lives in rural New Zealand with two daughters of her own and is writing an Honours thesis; one son, who has starved for fifteen years in the music industry, is doing a law degree in London; and my other son, who has two degrees and does something clever and dextrous in fibre optics, lives in Sydney.

Lorenzo hasn’t written his bio yet, but will do in due course!


We also host various guest posters on stuff that takes our interest. This seems to be mainly trading and economics at the moment, but is always open to change.

Former bloggers

Legal Eagle is Katy Barnett

I am a lawyer and an academic at the University of Melbourne. Obviously, any views expressed here are my own, and do not reflect the views of the University (or any of my employers) in any way.

I used to have my own blog (The Legal Soapbox) which had a broadly centre-left approach, although I prefer to think that I am my “very own wing” rather than “left wing” or “right wing” (you can read about what this means here). I’m not a libertarian, although I am generally socially liberal.

I have ceased blogging because of the demands of full-time work and parenthood, along with a worsening of my chronic asthma over recent years.