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Here in Canada, Remembrance Day is a public holiday, or stat as most folk call them. Most stats are on a Monday to create a long weekend. There are about 10 a year and I think majority are Mondays. The exceptions would be November 11, July 1 (Canada Day) Christmas Day, and New Year. OK, so five the stats are Mondays. Good Friday is also a specific day, rather than date, stat. To make up for all the stats, Canadian employers tend to give folk a week's less holiday entitlement than folks in the UK enjoy. At the Edmonton Sun there was an odd stat holiday tradition. A few days before the stat someone would pin up a notice informing folk of their legal entitlements if they worked on the holiday, which I seem to recall included double pay. Once the notice was up, the question was how long would be before it was torn down. It might have made an interesting sweep stake - entries being in 15 minute increments after posting. I wonder if management ever worked out who was doing the posting.

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This is a story that got away from me. Mainly because it wasn't worth flying from Canada to Australia for and my Australian collaborators were crap. Like most Commonwealth countries, Australia has pensions for disabled war veterans. Until recently, most of those veterans were from the First or Second World Wars. Many had suffered serious battlefield injuries. But the pensions are also paid out to people who suffered some injury due to their wartime military service. One of the oddest must have been the former Australian aircrew member who wanted compensation for the loss of his teeth. He did his air force training on the Canadian Prairies, as did many Commonwealth flyers. He successfully argued that the quality of the drinking water at his training base was so poor that he was forced to survive on a well-known sugary soft drink. Which in turn rotted his teeth and now he was entitled to compensation. The hearing agreed. I thought it was interesting. The veteran's local paper couldn't be bothered pulling the hearing documentation. With Remembrance Day coming up this weekend, this photo from 1917 may serve as a reminder of what it looks like a battle goes wrong.

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So, when a rich person wins a libel case and then it turns out that they did do what they were accused of, should they have to repay the damages awarded to them? For many lawyers, the law is a only game and the winner not only gets to take all but also to keep it no matter what comes out afterwards. I've sat through enough court cases not to be fooled into confusing Law with Justice. To appeal is to risk all again on a second throw of the dice. Even if a person is telling the truth they could easily lose a libel case. Civil Law is more a matter of the depth of pocket than truth. Most sensible people do indeed cave when they get a lawyer's letter sent on behalf of a wealthy client. There have been several nasty rich people who have succeeded in silencing the truth, even threatening their own families with libel suits, and in a couple of cases have even won substantial damages because the defendant had a bad day in court. Criminals who have their convictions overturned are freed and often compensated. Unsuccessful libel defendants can have their lives and reputations ruined for life. How about when it turns out that someone who did do what was alleged but won their case that they are charged criminal perjury? With guaranteed jail time if found guilty.

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We recently had some overnight snow. The good thing about the snow is that bounces light off the ground through the windows into my flat and that brightens the place up considerably. The bad thing is a fresh fall of snow shows the creeps out there have been out creeping. The residents’ car park shows trails of footprints coming in from the back lane, going to the doors of all the cars there, and then heading back to the lane. The footprints in the carpark snow are not the only signs of the local scum going to places they shouldn’t go but they are among the most blatant. I can do without such tangible reminders of blatant nastiness going on outside my window.

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In my mid-20s I used to be able to grow a pretty-half-decent beard in a fortnight. So, part of the two weeks off for the summer holidays often involved not bothering to shave. Camping or hitch-hiking seemed easier when I didn't have to scrape my face every morning. By the end of the fortnight I was well beyond the designer stubble stage. The problem usually came around Christmas. That was when the beard was becoming more than somewhat bushy. For some reason, year after year I would attempt to trim the facial fungus with the kitchen scissors. And year after year I would only succeed in cutting a series of door steps in the beard. The only answer was to go back to being clean-shaven until the next summer holidays. Eventually someone got me one of those fancy beard trimmers for Christmas. Hmm, kitchen scissors versus proper trimmer.

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