The Paris Attacks and the Western Media’s Response


The picture depicts the large crowd of Torontonian supporters that gathered in Nathan Phillips Square on Saturday November 14th to show camaraderie with the families of those affected by the terrorist shootings in Paris, France at this difficult time. Photo credit:

When tragedies, like the recent terrorist shooting in Paris, France occur the world seems to pause in shock. Articles from online news sources, as well as national tabloids and television programs begin broadcasting ‘breaking live news’ coverage of the scene that continues for hours after the event has ceased. Social media networks are flooded with well-meaning hash-tags and messages of sympathy and condolences; the same pictures are ‘shared’ countless times, with thousands of ‘likes’ thrown around the web. It is not always clear whether people take part in this social media campaign because they truly care about the tragedy that took place in another part of the globe, or whether they are simply swept up by the wave of empathetic sentiments that flood their social media feeds and don’t want to be left out.

I understand the role of the media not only as a reflection of the culture of our country, but also as a tool that shapes and propagates our values. As such, when I arrived home Friday evening and noticed that the CBC was broadcasting prolonged coverage of the tragedies in Paris, I couldn’t help but ultimately feel discouraged on behalf of all of the human suffering in non-Western nations that were not being reported. The anchor was spitting out statistics such as, “this is the largest attack on Paris since World War II” to seemingly fill airtime, as there was no development happening on the screen. Continue reading

Judges Gonna Judge

The importance of a memorable judicial writing style

Judge Gail Standish, a former intellectual property lawyer and current district judge in California, made headlines last week with her dismissal of a copyright claim against Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off.” Swift was being sued for $42 million in damages by musician Jesse Braham, who claimed that the repetition of “players gonna play,” “haters gonna hate,” and “fakers gonna fake,” came directly from a song that he wrote in 2013 (entitled “Haters Gone Hate,” of course). In her dismissal, Judge Standish quoted not one, but four different Taylor Swift songs, incorporating the lyrics into the reasons for her judgement, with hilarious lines such as “…for now we’ve got problems, and the Court is not sure Braham can solve them.” She also made reference to Urban Dictionary and a 3LW song from 2000 named “Players Gon’ Play.”

What I found fascinating about this case was not the seemingly frivolous lawsuit, but the amount of press the dismissal received. Judge Standish’s use of common language and (gasp!) puns, caused non-lawyers to read a judicial decision. Numerous people who generally couldn’t care less about legal issues were all of a sudden tweeting, posting, and tagging her dismissal.

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Why OSAII Became Possible

Thank you Osgoode for making social justice relevant and possible in today’s climate of corporate success, political correctness, and the social stratification. Thank you to the Osgoode staff, faculty, and the students for making the fight for what is right possible, supportive, and enjoyable.

When I decided to apply for law school, it was after decades of being exposed to powerful institutions that uphold power over the uninformed, poor, and disconnected. I applied with a purpose in mind, which was to use the legal knowledge to assist in defending those who do not have the luxuries of financial security, academic exposure, and political awareness. It is the oppressed members of society that have difficulty navigating the laws and politics that hold our North American social structure together.

I would like to thank Osgoode for giving someone like me a chance to be part of a professional class that is able to shift social policy; create protections for people; and if their heart is in the right place, make the world better. I say someone like me because I fall within the less than one percent of Osgoode Law Students that actually get admitted. I was admitted at thirty-seven years old, with no undergraduate degree, an average Law School Admission Test score, and no financial backing; yet, I had tremendous amounts of community development experience fighting for the alienated, oppressed, and sometimes helpless. Countless volunteer hours in the community, on non-profit boards, running for political office, and other social activities was enough for Osgoode to say we want to accept someone like this into our program.

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Which Edition of the Toronto Blue Jays Is Better?

A Comparison of the 2015 Team with Its 1992 Predecessor

Part Five: Examining the Starting Pitching: Back-end of the Rotation

Can you teach me how to "Dickey"?  The seemingly mystical knuckle ball can make hitters look silly but can also do the same to the pitcher throwing it as his primary arsenal Source:,0.3225&mode=crop&width=1200&height=675&rnd=130894171850000000&quality=70

Can you teach me how to “Dickey”? The seemingly mystical knuckle ball can make hitters look silly but can also do the same to the pitcher throwing it as his primary arsenal

Traditionally speaking, the back-end of the starting rotation is where General Managers (GMs) can go “bargain hunting” for cheap options via non-tendered players and/or wavier claims. Why? With the front and middle of the rotation sorted out, GMs can “pencil in” a certain number of wins which the team can expect to pocket over the course of the season. Ideally, the top three starting pitchers would do their job as “innings eater” by each supplying the ballclub with at least two hundred innings, thereby giving the team six hundred innings with the remaining two hundred innings being spread to multiple candidates. Unless one or more slots in the back-end of the rotation can be filled internally be promising young starters who are in their pre-arbitration years—think of a young Roy Halladay back in 2000—GMs would in all likelihood shop for multiple serviceable pitchers, including signing pitchers to minor league contracts with an invitation to spring training who can give the team a reasonable chance to win when pitching and have them compete for the remaining one or two spots in the back-end of the rotation. More than often, the back-end of the rotation typically feature starters who have a .500 (or near .500) record with an unspectacular era run average (ERA) and low strikeout (K) totals.

One of the reasons why teams have to round out the back-end of their starting rotation with non-front and middle of the rotation pitchers is due to the financial landscapes of Major League Baseball. With the going prices for aces reaching the neighbourhood of seven years for over two hundred million dollars (e.g., Max Scherzer earned a seven-year, $210 million contract with Washington after signing with the Nationals as an unrestricted free agent on 21 January 2015), putting together an entire starting rotation with frontline starters is near if not simply unrealistic. Even the New York Yankees, which seemed to have unlimited financial resources under then-owner George Steinbrenner, did not bolster five aces in their starting rotation—albeit they have multiple front of the rotation starters when they won four World Championships within a span of five seasons from 1996 to 2000. If anything, the Philadelphia Phillies would probably be team remembered as having rolled out the most aces in a starting rotation when they had Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels occupying the first four slots in their rotation back in 2011. Still, all championship-calibre need a strong supporting cast and it comes as no surprise that playoff teams, at the very least, have decent starters in the back-end of their station, just as the 2015 and 1992 Toronto Blue Jays did.

Number Four Starter: R.A. Dickey (2015) versus Jimmy Key (1992) Continue reading

Holmward Bound


Photo credit:

On November 15th, at approximately one o’clock a.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST), the mixed martial arts (MMA) world was flipped upside down.  It was one of those moments that every fan that watched will remember, recalling their whereabouts and feelings when it happened.

On November 15th, I had every intention of writing a comparison of the celebration of “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey, (at the time) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women’s bantamweight division champion, with the relative reluctance to promote one of the best tennis players of all-time, Serena Williams.  My article was going to highlight the accomplishments of both athletes and demonstrate that while Williams was clearly the more dominant athlete over a longer period of time and with a larger sample size of competition, Rousey was promoted as more of a “hero” (or heroine) in sports culture.

That was my going to be the focus of my article.  That was until I watched UFC 193.

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Oscar Watch 2015

Best Picture Predictions and then some

With November well underway, Oscar season is in full gear. It is the most wonderful time of the year for movie fans like me. From the end of September until the middle of January is where studios typically position releases of their ‘award-worthy’ films. This puts us smack in the middle of a busy period, and thankfully, because we need something to distract us from exams around the corner. A good film presents the perfect escape from the daily grind and can be just what’s needed to clear one’s head. With this is mind, I would like to make some early Oscar predictions and along the way highlight some of the films that should be on your ‘watch radar’.

What am I basing my predictions on? An endless number of factors: the cast, the director, the trailer, the plot, the genre, previous Oscar wins/body of work, typical voting patterns, size of studio (major/indie), the reviews, release date, general buzz, box-office numbers, and my general gut feeling. Many Oscar hopefuls have already been released and more are slated to be released in the coming weeks.  I have seen several of the films mentioned below (“Steve Jobs”, “Room”, “Bridge of Spies”, “Sicario”, “Mad Max: Fury Road”, “The Martian”); however, the majority I have not. This makes everything that much more challenging – there is a chance I could make a complete fool of myself. The following are my predictions for this year’s Best Picture award (ranked in order of nomination likelihood):

  1. Spotlight (Open Road)

    The ensemble cast of Boston Globe reporters in “Spotlight”, my frontrunner for Best Picture (Photo credit: Open Road)

    The ensemble cast of Boston Globe reporters in “Spotlight”, my frontrunner for Best Picture
    (Photo credit: Open Road)

An all-star ensemble cast, an up-and-coming director, positive reviews out of TIFF – “Spotlight” has it all going for it. It tells the Pulitzer Prize winning story of how Boston Globe reporters uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese in the early 2000s. It is my frontrunner to take Best Picture and is a virtual lock to receive a nomination. I predict that Tom McCarthy wins Best Director and gets a nomination for Best Original Screenplay with co-writer Josh Singer. I could also see it earning a couple Supporting Actor nominations, most likely for Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo. It was just released on November 13th in select theatres.

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Law and Technology

The legal market is in an unprecedented state of flux. Over the next two decades, the way in which lawyers work will change radically. Entirely new ways of delivering legal services will emerge, new providers will enter the market, and the workings of our courts will be transformed. Unless they adapt, many traditional legal businesses will fail. On the other hand, a whole set of fresh opportunities will present themselves to entrepreneurial and creative young lawyers. 

- Richard Susskind, Tomorrow’s Lawyer: An Introduction to Your Future (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013) at 3.

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

Amid the doom and gloom of the articling crisis and decreasing access to justice, there is a silver lining: Tomorrow’s Lawyers. Tomorrow’s Lawyers are carving out new lucrative careers in the legal market, by combining expertise in law with technology and interdisciplinary skills such as process analysis and project management. Using tools like automated document assembly, online dispute resolution, and AI-based problem solving, Tomorrow’s Lawyers have the potential to deliver better legal services at a lower price and faster than ever before. How do I know this? Last year I had the pleasure of enrolling in the inaugural Legal Information Technology seminar, taught by three of Tomorrow’s Lawyers: Monica Goyal, Darin Thompson, and James Williams. If you’re not enrolled in this year’s Legal IT seminar, but want to learn more about Tomorrow’s Lawyers, you’ll have your chance during Osgoode’s 2016 Career Week. Students will have an opportunity to meet some of Tomorrow’s Lawyers and explore the world of Law and Technology during an interactive session taking place on February 4th.

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Paul Bernardo on Amazon

Are companies required to bridge the gap between morality and legality?

Image credit:

Image credit:

Convicted murderer Paul Bernardo made headlines this month when it became known that he had self-published a fictional e-book. The novel, titled A MAD World Order, is an allegedly violent thriller involving Mexican drug cartels and Russian agents, and became available for purchase on

It was a story that called into the question the limits of legality, morality, and taste – a conversation that continues, despite Amazon’s decision to pull the e-book from its store last week after mounting public pressure and online petitions.

The lawyer for Bernardo’s victims’ families, Tim Danson, asked Amazon to remove the e-book almost immediately, and public opinion quickly aligned with Danson against the retailer. Amazon did not immediately respond to the furor, however, either by pulling the book when the story broke, or by issuing a statement on the matter. The CBC reports that during the seller’s intentional silence, Bernardo’s book made it to the status of “#1 Best Seller” in Amazon’s war fiction section.

This isn’t the first time that Amazon has been accused of privileging from profits in ethically dubious situations. Last year, the site came under fire for selling Michael and Debi Pearl’s To Train Up a Child, a faith-based guide to parenting that advocated for physical punishment—which had been linked to the deaths of three children. Amazon did not remove the item from its website, and while the controversy exploded in its comments section, the guide continues to sell on the website – though the book’s unpopularity is signalled by its current two-star rating.

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A Review and Look at November’s Biggest Sales in the Art World

Cy Twombly, Untitled (1968) – via’s

Cy Twombly, Untitled (1968) – via’s

During the month of November, thousands flock to New York City, are wined and dined, raise their paddles in the air, and possibly lose a few zeros from their bank accounts. The New York sales by Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips expect more than $2.1 billion (all prices in USD) to be sold in Impressionist, Modern, Post-War, and Contemporary Art.

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Kurt Vile & the Violators - Live at the Phoenix Concert Theatre, 25 October 2015

Kurt Vile & the Violators performing “Goldtone” at the Phoenix Concert Theatre  (Photo credit: Justin Philpott)

Kurt Vile & the Violators performing “Goldtone” at the Phoenix Concert Theatre
(Photo credit: Justin Philpott)

Who is Kurt Vile? I’ve been a fan of his music for a several years now, but his persona preserves some kind of mystical ambiguity in my head. The videos I’ve watched on YouTube and interviews I’ve read paint an incomplete picture of the singer/songwriter. Here is this reserved, lurchy, and awkward fella with outrageously long, curly hair—you instinctively want to write him off because there is no way he can offer you anything of value. However, his music is insightful, honest and hard-hitting. And he can play one hell of a guitar. I was extremely excited to see Kurt Vile live in concert. I believed it would put my mind at ease. What better window into a man’s soul than to watch him rock out on stage for 90 minutes?

Kurt Vile along with his backing band, the aptly named Violators, stopped into Toronto’s Phoenix Concert Theatre on October 25th. I wonder if this name presents a challenge when crossing the border? The concert coincided with the one-month anniversary with his latest album release, b’lieve i’m goin down… on Matador Records. Yes, this is the correct spelling and punctuation.  And no, it is not a hip-hop album.

The band opened with “Dust Bunnies,” the third track from new album. In the songs opening line, Vile sings “You may think that it is funny now / that I got a headache like a shop vac coughing dust bunnies.” As odd as that lyric might be, you know just how awful that headache is. It is ineloquent eloquence; something Vile is all too good at.

Before the show, I would have guessed Vile to be more detached and withdrawn on stage. But, he basked in the spotlight. He was in his element and was clearly surrounded by musicians he was comfortable playing with. To put it mildly, Vile is an unusual dude. He wore a black t-shirt with the saying “What’s up?” in big, bold white letters. Offstage, Vile would have a crewmember get his guitar tuned for his next song (nothing unusual about that). However, when the guitar swap was made between songs, Vile would re-tune the guitar himself. This produced short delays between songs, primetime for Vile to engage the audience. But he would muster only loud, shrieking Wooos! This was a little disappointing. Vile was goofy on stage, clearly enjoying himself. At points, this goofiness may have detracted from the music.

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TV L Rev

A bi-weekly roundup of legal television

Midterm Grades (according to the Osgoode Bell Curve):

Law and Order: SVU – C+

How To Get Away With Murder – B

The Grinder – B

The Good Wife – A

Welcome to TV L Rev. A bi-weekly look at legal television. This edition looks at how the shows have been done with nearly a full semester under their belt. Overall, it’s been a fairly mediocre crop.

Minor spoilers for How to Get Away with Murder, The Good Wife, Law and Order: SVU, and The Grinder below.

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