Monday, April 30, 2007


Swordsmanship was something I always wanted to do. It was a marriage of the geek and agggression in me. I would gladly have suffered fools to learn it well.

Yet, I suffered no fools. What I found was family, filling a void in me that I never thought I had.

You don't pick family. So it was with my fellow swordsmen. In my mind, I begin to see my fellow swordsmen take on roles. The strong father. The doting mother. The adventurous eldest brother, always up to some new fascinating activity. The uncle always there for you when you couldn't go to your parents. The spoilt kid sister everyone just loved. The loner middle brother, up to his own antics but somehow never far. The elder sister/mini-mother. The ah-beng cousin.

They are family. I don't know how it happened but they are. You don't choose family, after all.

You only choose what they mean to you.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Continuing Legal Education

A friend I haven't seen in a while spotted my bruises. He asked me about my swordfighting and I responded candidly that yes, sometimes accidents happen, and the results are bruises.

"Why do you do this to yourself?"

I jokingly responded, "Continuing legal education."


Let me now risk becoming un-funny by explaining my joke.
  1. Trial by combat was an accepted form of resolving disputes, imported into England by the Norman conquest.
  2. It may have been historically acceptable to use champions to fight on behalf of the litigant.
  3. Hence, the first lawyers might have been one of these judicial duelists.

Yes, I know. I'm hilarious.


Two interesting points. The right to claim trial by combat is part of English common law, repealed by an act of English Parliament in 1819. I noticed an article in Wikipedia regarding the possibility of this trial being claimable under American common law. An example of English case law principles being adopted into American jurisprudence would be the Rule in Shelly's Case.

The argument is as follows. America declared independence in 1776 - prior to the repeal of trial by combat. Given that America was a seperate sovereign state before the Act was enacted, the Act cannot affect the state of common law in America after it was adopted from British common law. Congress has obviously never repealed this expressly.

Would this argument work in Singapore?

Singapore has the opposite problem - it may have been a separate sovereign state before the UK Act of Parliament was passed. Even so, I'm not quite sure what the legal position is. My problems are as follows.

  1. The Second Charter of Justice in 1826 is interpreted specifically to import all English statutes and legal principles into Singapore. The statute abolishing wager of battel (trial by combat as it was known in England) was enacted in 1819. Clearly the statute would be part of Singapore law.
  2. Section 4(1) of the Application of English Law Act enacted in 1994, however, clearly repeals all enactments by the Parliament of England, save for a few. I am fairly certain the act repealing trial by combat is not one of the statutes preserved under the Application of English law Act.
  3. Section 3 of the Application of English Law Act specifically preserves English common law "so far as it was part of the law of Singapore immediately before 12th November 1993".
  4. The question therefore is whether trial by combat was a part of Singapore law "immediately before 12th November 1993". On one hand, the portion of Ashford v Thornton allowing trial by combat was expressly repealed by Parliament before it became part of Singapore common law. One can then argue that this case did not become part of Singapore common law.
  5. On the other hand, the portion of Ashford v Thornton that stands for the proposition that all law stands until expressly repealed was never repealed by an act of parliament - only the portion allowing wager of battel. Therefore applying the principle of Ashford v Thornton, trial by combat in Singapore is not repealed because the Application of English Law Act repealed the repealing enactment!
I would of course never argue this in front of court. However, I am interested in the answer because I am interested to know if trial by combat does form part of Singapore's legal history, albeit by an extremely perverse methodology of torturing language until it confesses to whatever you want it to say.

Anyone want to hazard a guess?

It Grows...


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Great Expectations

Terry Pratchett coined an alternate term for describing humankind. Rather than Homo Sapiens (the Thinking Man), he suggests Pan Narrens (the Storytelling Ape).

Today, my attention is on how our love for narrative have essentially screwed up our lives.


Much has been said in the blogosphere about the Minister's pay rise. I will not repeat arguments about benchmarking, or the audacity of the Government to begrudge $290 a month to the needy while voting for a massive pay rise for themselves. Hat tip to Intelligent Singaporean, which has a fairly comprehensive listing of all the blogs discussing this issue.

If the Singapore Government insists on comparing itself with a corporation, then let it. I'm perfectly happy giving them enough rope to hang themselves with. After all, the issue of executive compensation will only demonstrate how much of the existing discussion on ministerial pay is based on myth.

In the late 90's and early 00's the issue of rising CEO and executive compensation has been debated to death. CEO compensation is spiralling out of control. Shareholders often wonder if what they are paying for actually translates into gains for a company. They would be right. The business world is rife with examples of well-compensated underperforming CEO's.

The arguments for often cited for rising CEO compensation is an attractive one. Top talent deserves top money. The CEO makes or breaks the company after all - would you skimp on hiring a good CEO? There is something in our psyche, after all, that longs for a saviour.

The reality, however, is that the idea of a leader-hero is nothing but a myth. The sucess and failure of a company is more complex then the decision of one powerful man (or for that matter, a group of powerful men). Yet, when things go right, credit is claimed. When things go wrong, responsibilty is disclaimed. Such is the nature of men in power.

I submit that it is more important for us to grow a strong team than to grow strong leadership - something this process of paying top dollar for ministerial talent has completely undermined.

My question to the Government. Are you truly being pragmatic? Or is pragmatism just an excuse to pay yourself more?


Here's a second story that I think women have become too enamoured with - success. I will not be commenting much on this one. It still cuts too close to the bone. Suffice to say that I think it is not solely a woman's problem. I've experienced first-hand how it affects men too.

(Hat tip to Zach who found the link, and to Feministing who reported the story.)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Historical Kit

I've completed the non-armor portions of my historical kit, sans actual sword. Needless to say, I'm rather pleased with the result


Casual look

Posta il Donna, or the "Woman's Guard"

Monday, April 16, 2007

Hot and Prickly

I'm down with rashes. Doctor says that it's probably a food allergy. I wouldn't be suprised if I was poisoned somehow after this bit of drama. It's either that or I am just developing an allergy to drama.

I hate antihistamines. They make me drowsy. How's a person supposed to work up righteous rage and smite heathens when he's drowsy? The best I could manage today was an indignant outrage.

I also lost the weekend sleeping off the antihistamines. No swordfighting, minimal gaming, and depleting my diminishing supply of Harry Dresden novels.

I think I'll go kill something now. If I just round up enough effort to be arsed about it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Drama Dinner

Drama rules my life.

Sunday dinner was supposed to be a simple affair. Miyabi at Raffles Town Club was promoting two lobster specials. Mummy received the flyer, and dragged the whole bunch of us for dinner. So far so good.

When we arrived there, guess what? No lobster. Promotion + no lobster = hissy fit throwing mom.

A scathingly-worded comments card, an email and a harassed floor manager later, we arrived again tonight for lobster. I couldn't resist peeking at the reservation list. Lo and behold, beside my mom's name - "Lobster Reserved".

We arrive at the entrance and the floor manager points at my father's sandals. Wrong dress code. Mummy is not to be denied and browbeats her way to the teppanyaki table. I roll my eyes.

As we are seated, we are served green tea. As the teacups were being placed on the table, I suddenly feel a scalding sensation on my left shirt sleeve. I turn around and I see steaming green tea emptied on my sleeve. Waiter turns a funny shade of white and disappears. The floor manager turns a funnier shade of pale. I lift my sleeve up until the tea cools, then check for burns.

Let's just say I'm glad they don't use scalding hot water for their tea.

Having had it up to my eyeballs in drama, I laugh off the spill and continue with dinner. Not five minutes after the spill, I spot a familiar face. Let's call them Mr and Mrs Chew - parents of an old friend of mine. I walk up to them, wet sleeve and all, to say hi.

They of course ask the question. I reply as honestly as I can. They deserve to know. The silence is defeaning right up to the point my brother steps up and Mr Chew asks him about his life.

When life gives you drama, you make ironic humour.

Warrior Bunny

In grand tradition of Bun-Bun and the Vorpal Bunny, I give you....

Crusader Fluffy

....Crusader Fluffy.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


Contrary to Hollywood belief, a 3-kg sword made of solid wood striking someone's ribs at practically full-force does not in fact make a sound. Not unless the sword broke said ribs.

That day, I could have sworn I heard a loud resounding "WHACK!"

We were at swordfighting practice. A couple of seniors were taking turns with the instructor at free sparring. I was up next so I was watching intently. It was brutal and elegant. Twice I saw my instructor, Greg, let a blow or two slip by to strike his fencing mask. Most of the time, though, Greg dominated. The seniors were getting seriously owned.

Right up to the point where one of the attacks went awry.

It was a chest level blow. Greg moved to trap the blade under his arm - a legitimate move under the system we use, considering that the ribs would normally be protected by chain mail, plate and padding. One of the seniors mistimed his swing. Greg mistimed his shift. The result - bruised ribs.

Greg was left breathless for a while. I've never actually seen him in so much pain. I offered twice to drive Greg to get his ribs checked out, but he said he was okay. He was. That incident didn't take any edge off him when I sparred with him.

The incident reinforced in me how dangerous this activity can actually be. Tough as Greg is, we were all worried that a rib might have been broken.

It hasn't dissuaded me. Neither did the five thrusts in the face, the two swings to the head, the locked arm, the circular body shove that nearly sent me sprawling.

I'll get better. I must.


Here's another project I'm working on. I'll leave the picture to do the talking.