Tuesday, 6 December 2011

The Paper Free Semester Project - Rules

If I'm gonna go paper-free next semester I'll need to lay down some ground rules, I'm also going to have to have a think about what tools I'm going to use. So, first things first the rules . . . .   

1. No printing, of anything, no cases, photocopies, essay drafts, nothing.
2. If I'm doing any group work, and the group needs anything I give it to them electronically.

So far so good, now comes the tricky part, can I make any exceptions? Does buying books count? I like buying course books, sorry that's not true, I like having a copy of at least one of the major textbooks that go with my course (parting with my hard earned cash I don't like so much). So, do I make an exception to the rule and let myself buy one book per class? Or, do I just tough it out and use the library for all my research and reading? I'm pretty sure most of the Scottish legal textbooks don't come in kindle format (yet), so I'm faced with a dilemma. 

My gut feeling is that I can't really claim to be paper-free if I'm buying two books, each of which is the size of a yellow pages, per semester. With that in mind I'm gonna try to go book-free too. This should mean more library time, which can only be a good thing! Should I or could I have any exceptions to my rule? Thinking my way through a typical semester the only place where I think I would absolutely need to print anything would be when I'm preparing my bundle for the Judge at a moot. So there it is the rules in a nutshell, no paper, no books, the only exception is at a moot. I've got my rules, now I need to have a think about the tools, watch this space . . . 

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Same Sex Marriage, go on you know you want to!

Following a recent bit of chat on twitter where I found the 140 character limit, well, limiting I thought i'd do a wee blog post about my feelings on same sex marriage, so here it is, in a nutshell. I can't help but think that the Church of Scotland and the Catholic Church are just plain wrong about how same-sex marriage could be damaging to society. Their desire to protect and defend 'traditional' marriage strikes me as ridiculous and is to my mind a fine place to start.

As far as I can see, the idea of traditional marriage is dying in this country and rightly so. Women are no longer given away by their fathers in any real sense of the word. Traditional marriage was about transferring ownership and responsibility for the poor hapless woman, from the hands of her father to those of a new man who could take care of her, look after her finances etc. Then there's the ceremonial traditions, how many modern brides can claim that their white dress reflects their virginal purity? This is all before getting into the fact that marital rape was only properly outlawed in Scotland in 1989, I'll say it again folks, 1989! I could go on citing many examples of what 'traditional' marriage is, and what is represented by the various parts of the wedding ceremony along with the legal status of the participants, but what I'm getting at is that the idea of traditional marriage is not a good one. 

What does make sense, and good social policy is to recognise what marriage means now, and why people get married in this day and age. I've had the pleasure of attending five weddings this year along with a civil partnership ceremony. All of which were beautiful and all of which I was glad to have been a part of. Having seen so many friends tie the knot recently and having big conversations with the happy couples about their aspirations, hopes and dreams I can honestly say that all the couples I'm friendly with have married for love and the desire to have a lifelong companion. None of them married for any reason other than a firm desire to be together, forever, sharing their lives by forming their own little family unit. This is right and true and decent and good and powerful and a thing to be encouraged. 

This is not traditional marriage, there were no dowries, or transfer of estates. None of the participants lost their virginity on their wedding night. All of them lived together prior to their wedding, and all of them made an informed, adult decision to commit to a life together through thick and thin, for the rest of their days. This is not traditional marriage, this is modern marriage and it is a beautiful heart-warming thing. Why then would we as a society have any problem with allowing every consenting adult in the country to make this decision regardless of gender or sexual orientation?   

The opposition from religious groups tends to centre around a few key arguments, which strike me as misguided, ill informed nonsense and feels like they're clutching at straws.

First comes the idea that allowing same-sex marriage could put off heterosexual couples from getting married. This is my favourite, because it's so ridiculous it's actually laughable. I can't imagine any couple, ever, when planning to make a lifelong commitment to one another, living in a society where civil partnership is lawful, giving even a nanosecond’s consideration to what any other couple is up to, or allowed to do in law, regardless of their sexual orientation. Couples getting married, do so thinking only of each other and their future together, nothing else!

Then there's the idea that the 'equality agenda' is out to get the church and they'll eventually be forced to marry gay couples. No one can be compelled to perform a marriage ceremony, and the new legislation won't change that. Anyway, what couple in their right mind would choose to be wed by a dour faced, disapproving homophobic priest being forced against his will to perform a ceremony? C'mon now guys get real! 

If I'm honest, as a heterosexual man I'd like the option to enter into a civil partnership with a woman. I like the idea of deciding to spend my life with someone and having the ability to enter into a relationship which is legally designed to be a relationship of equals, a partnership. There are parts of the world today where marriage is akin to slavery, with the woman becoming for all intents and purposes the property of her husband, while that's no longer the case in this country I'm not too keen on carrying on the tradition. 

All that said I’m just scratching the surface, however I can't help but think that anyone who wants to make a lifelong commitment to their partner in a loving, consensual adult relationship should absolutely be allowed to do so, in addition it should not only be endorsed by the state, but actively encouraged!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

The Paper Free Semester Project

It's that time of year again, the time when consumerism goes wild in the celebration of that most beloved of holidays, Christmas! I love it, love seeing family, love the big get together and the meal, the odd whisky or two with uncle Dave, the younger family members playing with their new toys and the whole family getting cosy in front of the TV watching a DVD to round it off. This year however thoughts of Christmas gave way to thoughts of technology, picture the scene, it's pay-day, late November, and I realise there's Christmas shopping to be done, gifts to be bought and the likes. So in order to make sure I get through it all, without forgetting anyone, I whip out my mobile and quickly create a tick list on my "Due Today" app, get dressed and head to work. On my tea-break I pull out my phone and am reminded of the shopping that needs to be done, so I pop open my eBay and Amazon apps, and within 20 minutes, I've got though about a third of my Christmas shopping. The experience made me smile, and made me think about one of my favourite gifts from last year, my Kindle, and just how much time I've spent using it this year.

Reflecting on my much loved Kindle, along with how useful I find my recently acquired smart-phone and the fact that I've started taking lecture notes on my netbook, I've had a wee thought. Can I get myself through the rest of my law degree without printing off another sheet of paper? I'm betting that I can, especially with the help of some hi-tech toys. So here it is, my challenge to myself, the paper-free semester Project. I'll run a wee thread in my blog about how I get on, and the tools I use to do it! Wish me luck . . . .