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Author: Penniless Parenting
Since the legal aid cuts of 2013 we have been living in the age of the litigant in person. Just last week it was reported that government data revealed that 23,881 parents who applied for child arrangements orders in 2017 had no legal representation, up 134% since 2011. This is of course causing huge difficulties for the courts. The courts do try to make allowances for litigants in person, but justice of course demands that they are not given preferential treatment.
This was illustrated by the recent case of QC v UC & Others, which concerned an unrepresented father’s appeal against findings of fact made in his and the mother’s cross applications for child arrangements and specific issue orders relating to their three children. The appeal was heard by Mr Justice Williams in the High Court.
The judgment does not list the twelve findings of fact made against the father, but we are told that the judge in the court below concluded that he was “a deeply unsatisfactory witness”, whereas he found that the mother was a reliable witness on nearly every issue on which she gave evidence, and he therefore accepted (most of) her allegations. The father sought to appeal against “all the judge’s findings and decisions in regards to the whole case”.
As Mr Justice Williams explained, the father’s grounds for appeal boiled down to two matters:
“The grounds of appeal in essence allege firstly that the decision of the judge was wrong because he should not have accepted the mother’s allegations because she was a proven liar and there was no other evidence to support her allegations. Secondly, that there was a procedural irregularity in that the appellant father was unable to properly present his case”
As to the first of those grounds, Mr Justice Williams found that the judge in the court below had “conducted an extremely thorough and detailed evaluation of the evidence in respect of each of the areas where findings of fact were sought.” He was clearly entitled to make the findings that he did and, as stated, he found that the mother was a reliable witness on nearly every issue on which she gave evidence.
As to the second ground, the father had complained:
“I feel the judge didn’t take into consideration how being on my own in the court representing myself against two other solicitors was a very nervous time for me and considering the allegations against me made it all the worse”
Specifically, the father said that he was suffering from anxiety in court which may have affected his demeanour, and led the judge to say he was evasive towards questioning. He also said that he could have obtained further evidence to support his case, but had not known that he could. Mr Justice Williams did not accept these points. He said:
“The judge was clearly very much alive to the fact that the father was a litigant in person. In paragraph 67 and 68 [of the judgment] he refers to the issue and how the judge had sought to ensure that the father had a fair hearing by allowing him the opportunity to put further documents for the court and to put questions on the father’s behalf to witnesses.”
He also said:
“I cannot see that there is any case to show that the father was unable to put relevant material before the court because of his lack of legal representation. In particular there is nothing which suggests there was anything which was of such significance that it could have materially altered the overall evidential picture before the judge. The transcript makes clear that the father was well able to speak up for his position when he gave evidence and there is no evidence that any anxiety materially hampered his ability to present his case.”
In short, allowances had been made for the fact that the father was unrepresented, and the father was not entitled to anything more.
Mr Justice Williams concluded that there was no substance in any of the father’s grounds of appeal. Nor was he able to identify anything else that might arguably indicate that the judge was in any way wrong in the conclusions that he reached, or that the decision was unjustified by reason of any procedural irregularity. The appeal was therefore dismissed.
You can read the full judgment here, and if you are an unrepresented litigant aggrieved at the findings of the court, then I would recommend that you do.
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Author: John Bolch
The way the universe really works?
I’ve always fancied myself an amateur theoretical physicist, so I’m a sucker for any book that claims to explain the mysteries of the universe in laymen’s terms. Such was the case with a book I read in the early 1990s called The Holographic Universe, which promised “a remarkable new theory of reality.” The book was not written by a scientist and therefore turned out to be rather light on scientific detail. But it was the first of several books I read about an intriguing theory known as the “holographic paradigm.”
The New Physics
To set the stage, let’s turn back the calendar to the mid-1970s. In science, quantum physics was the hot area of research. Eastern religions, meanwhile, were moving into the mainstream in North America, and the New Age movement was in full swing. It was only a matter of time before science and mysticism converged. Books such as The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra in 1975 and Gary Zukav’s The Dancing Wu Li Masters in 1979 pointed out startling parallels between recent discoveries in quantum physics and ancient beliefs of Taoism, Buddhism, and Hinduism. Serious scientists were beginning to sound like mystics, and mystics were starting to talk about subatomic particles. The “new physics” seemed poised to bridge the world of faith with the world of science, through a common belief in a fundamentally interconnected universe.
One of the most interesting notions to emerge from this shiny happy alliance was a particular model of the universe that seemed to explain not only puzzling scientific phenomena but psychic experiences as well. The holographic paradigm was so named because its central metaphor is that of the hologram—or, to be more specific, a certain very unusual feature of holograms.
The Magic of Holograms
The basic process for creating a conventional hologram involves the use of a laser and a beam splitter, an optical device that sends half the light in each of two directions. One of the beams illuminates the object you’re recording, and the light reflected from the object collides with the second beam. When these two beams meet, the effect is much like what you’d see if you tossed a pebble into a pond and then, as the ripples were still spreading, tossed in another pebble. The pattern formed where the two sets of waves meet is called an interference pattern, and that is what is recorded on film when a hologram is made. Today it’s common to see reflective holograms that can be viewed under ordinary light (not to mention self-illuminated holographic displays of various types). Originally, however, holograms could be viewed only by exposing the film to the same type of laser light used to create it. If you were to look at the film with the naked eye, all you’d see would be patterns of ripples; shine the right kind of light onto it, though, and the image emerges in all its three-dimensional glory.
This type of hologram has another curious property. If you cut the film in half and then expose just one piece to the laser light, you’ll still see the entire image. In fact, you can keep making smaller and smaller pieces, and each one will still display the whole image rather than just part of the image, though the clarity degrades as the pieces get smaller. This “whole-in-each-of-the-parts” quality of holograms provided the crucial insight for Karl Pribram, a neurophysicist at Stanford University, and David Bohm, a physicist at the University of London. Each was trying to solve a different type of problem, and the hologram suggested just the answer they were looking for.
Building the Holographic Paradigm
Pribram was studying the way memories are stored in the brain. Until the second half of the 20th century, conventional wisdom held that memories were localized—stored in a specific group of neurons. But experimental research showed otherwise. Rats were taught to run a maze, then had portions of their brains surgically removed. No matter which part of the brain was removed, the rats still remembered how to run the maze. Likewise, humans with brain injuries or who had portions of their brain removed for medical reasons never lost memories selectively (as in forgetting half of a story), though overall memory sometimes became hazier. This reminded Pribram of the way holograms work, and he began to suspect that the brain stores memories in a way analogous to holography: by recording diffuse patterns of electrical waves.
Meanwhile, David Bohm, who was famous for his work in quantum physics, was taking the metaphor of the hologram in a different direction. He was trying to make sense of the behavior of subatomic particles, which have annoying tendencies to appear and disappear spontaneously, to resist measurement, and to manifest sometimes as particles, sometimes as waves. His idea—arrived at after many years of thought and research—was that the universe itself is something like a hologram. What we perceive as reality is essentially an illusion, like the three-dimensional image of a hologram. “Real” reality, meanwhile, is analogous to the film—a vast pattern of intersecting vibrations in which each part in some way contains the whole. Bohm called the world of sensory experience the “explicate order” and its underlying reality the “implicate order.” According to his theory, the universe is a dynamic series of movements—folding into, and unfolding out of, the implicate order. Bohm coined the term “holomovement” to describe the universe in this way, as “hologram” implies a static image.
When Pribram found out about Bohm’s work he was very excited, and these new insights led him to generalize his theory even further. If the whole universe were a holomovement, with every part containing the whole, perhaps our brains actually construct reality as we go along. To put it differently, maybe everything we perceive as real may be nothing more or less than an unfolding of an underlying essence in the implicate order. It is as though only the patterns of vibrations are ultimately real, with all of time and space equally present everywhere in the fabric of the universe.
Implications of the Implicate
Psychics and New Age types were quick to latch onto this notion. The holographic model, taken to its logical conclusion, could potentially explain a wide range of phenomena such as precognition, telepathy, poltergeists, lucid dreaming, and near-death experiences, to say nothing of religious and mystical experiences. The theory is that our brains habitually unfold the implicate order in predictable ways, but as we can change the frequency or angle of a laser beam, perhaps we can experience other places, times, and knowledge—all equally present everywhere in the holomovement—given the right circumstances. This was the major thrust of The Holographic Universe. Author Michael Talbot took the holographic model well beyond what Pribram and Bohm outlined to explain a vast array of paranormal phenomena.
Philosopher Ken Wilber, who edited the book The Holographic Paradigm, takes a contrarian view of the model’s viability. He thinks it’s worthwhile in a limited sense, but considers it a grave mistake to apply the model too broadly, or to read too much into it. He resists, for example, attempts to equate the implicate order with God or Brahman. And he worries about trying to understand something transcendent (or transmental) in mental terms. If you want to have a transcendent experience, he says, that requires the long, hard work of spiritual transformation—not simply learning to picture the world differently.
The holographic paradigm—and, for that matter, the entire movement to integrate physics and mysticism—has lost a lot of steam since its heyday. Karl Pribram’s theories never found widespread acceptance; David Bohm died in 1992 without convincing many physicists of his views; and most of the prominent advocates of the model have moved on to other interests. It’s not necessarily that the theory is any less interesting or plausible than it ever was, but there’s just not a whole lot one can do with the notion. Supposing the universe really were something like a hologram, what would that mean in a practical sense? And how could it ever be proved or disproved? It is certainly fascinating to ponder a unified theory that explains the mysteries of physics, time, space, consciousness, and mysticism. But just as you can’t build muscles by studying exercise, you probably won’t master the workings of the implicate order by reading about it.
Note: This is an updated version of an article that originally appeared on Interesting Thing of the Day on May 13, 2003, and again in a slightly revised form on June 26, 2004.
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Author: Joe Kissell
Well, it’s Valentine’s Day, and I’m sure you’ll be getting your main squeeze all kinds of romantic goodies, very likely including books (assuming your true love is a reader, and if not, you need to reexamine your life choices). But today is also International Book Giving Day, and that’s not about romance but rather about promoting literacy for children, especially in places where books are hard to come by. Celebrate by giving books to kids who need them, or by donating (books or money) to a library or a charity that will distribute books to needy children.
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Author: Joe Kissell
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Author: Penniless Parenting
For the Valentine’s Day Stowe guests, we catch-up back again with a regular blogger for us, Claire Black from Claire Black Divorce Coaching.
Claire is one of the UK’s first accredited specialist Divorce Coaches, a former lawyer, and Advanced NLP Practitioner. Today, she shares her tips on how to handle Valentine’s Day when you are going through a divorce or separation.
When you’re in the middle of a separation, Valentine’s Day might seem like the last thing you need right now. All those reminders of romantic love, emotions and dinner dates. The commerciality of Valentine’s Day is almost impossible to ignore. Even Google will probably change its logo to surround it with floaty hearts.
For those of you who are going through a break up, Valentine’s Day can be sad and depressing. I know, I’ve been there. It is easy to feel low and lose yourself in thinking about the “what if’s and the regrets.
I am here to reassure you that you do have a choice. Like me, you can consciously decide to make things different. You have power over the remote control to your brain, and there are things you can do to dial down your feelings.
So, I’ve created a list of my top seven tips to handle Valentine’s Day this year.
Ask yourself empowering questions
Your brain will always try to answer the questions you ask it. Try asking yourself how you can make the day better for yourself. How could you show yourself a little love? Buy yourself flowers, go on a ‘date’ with your kids, watch a funny movie, or buy yourself those chocolates. Why rely on someone else to do it for you?
Flip your focus
Instead of thinking about what you might be missing, think about what you DON’T have to put up with any more. What always irritated you about your ex? What can you do now that you couldn’t do before?
Disconnect from social media. Don’t check up on your ex, to see what they are doing. That way madness lies. Instead, flip your focus back to yourself, and what you can do to make things that little bit easier.
Have some fun and do something different
Spend time with other people in a similar situation. Get together with your single friends, and have an anti-Valentine’s Day get together, or a games/movie night. Try out that new class you’ve been meaning to go to.
If you and your ex always went to the same place, or did the same thing on Valentine’s day, make a conscious effort to do something different – try something your ex would never have done but that you know you’re going to love. Create a new memory that, in time, will override the old ones.
Show your loved ones how much you appreciate them
Valentines doesn’t have to be about romantic love. So today, let your kids, your family, your friends know how much you love and appreciate them. Give your best friend a call and let them know how much you appreciate the support they have shown you over your break up.
Spread the love
Do something kind for someone else. When we do kind things for others, it boosts our serotonin levels, the neurotransmitters which help us to feel satisfied and content. Many anti-depressants work by increasing serotonin levels in our body – why not do the same thing simply by doing something nice for someone else?
Have an attitude of gratitude
Gratitude is a fantastic antidote to stress. Write a list of all the things in your life that you are grateful for and stick it to your fridge. Concentrate on it for 30 seconds and see how you feel. Do you notice your mood lifting? Consciously looking for the good things we have also helps to boost your feel-good hormones, and it will train your brain to start looking for the positives, even when things might seem really challenging.
Know that this too shall pass
Remind yourself that this too will pass. You will feel better, you will get through this. If this is your first Valentine’s Day on your own, know that you will never have to go through this “first” again. Next time will always be easier.
The post Stowe guests: Seven tips to survive Valentine’s Day from a divorce coach appeared first on Stowe Family Law.
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Author: Stowe Family Law