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Thursday, 28 January 2016

Comlaw 101: A Review

Introduction -- Law?

On Overheard there is/was this dude called Carlos Craig who was/is allegedly a sloth. Point is this dude wrote, sometimes funny, diatribes and the like to flesh out (allegedly) overheard conversations. Several of these took pot shots at Comlaw 101 students.

I knew my munchie days were limited after I heard something so foul it made an episode of the kardashians almost watchable
First year hipster girl in a mini skirt and Kathmandu puffer jacket, trying to be the 'it girl' American swag king squad goals ug boots look " daddy says I should apply for law part two after my comlaw 101 mark"
Margainly more intelligent friend "but you don't do law part 1 ? Just commerce I thought "
Girl rolling her eyes "yeah but unlike most others I got an a- in comlaw101 , I would make an excellent lawyer and daddy said hed email the dean "
Friend " you must do law part one thou..."
Girl " look you study arts you don't know much about how these things work"

Firstly, the sloth's distaste is well placed. Comlaw 101 is not a law course. In fact, a straight major in nothing but commercial law is seriously advised against because it leads no-where directly. However, Comlaw is a useful major for budding chartered accountants and complements several of the other BCom majors well (hell, eco 303 even requires Comlaw 101 as a pre-req). Secondly, several people will, each year, start a BCom/LLB in the hope that if they don't make Law Part II they will get their law fix via Comlaw. Thirdly, this post above and the sentiment it represents probably inspired several of my own comments towards comlaw (not least in part because I was talking to actual law students).

Yet, with all that being said, this was probably my favourite of the core courses.

Aim

Comlaw 101 is two things. Firstly, it's a crash course in some basic legal ideas (in particular statutory interpretation and the common law) and New Zealand's constitutional framework. This constitutes the first and less important part of the course. Secondly, it's a quick run through some important legal concepts for business (it is called "Law in a Business Environment"). I say quick because competition law, for semester two 2015, was not a part of the course despite being something obvious to include... and, in any case, it is a stage one course.

Model: What Does Comlaw 101 Look Like?

I'm sure you've heard this story before... three one hour lectures, one tutorial. On the other hand, we had three lecturers and the tutorials were compulsory (marks were attached) so Comlaw 101 is a little bit different to say economics, and Infosys because the tutorials don't peter out part way through. Oh, and there's a workshop... but the tutorials and the workshops are every other week (so, in theory, you have a tutorial and a workshop the next).

In some ways, then, Comlaw 101 is a pretty traditionally minded course, except for the lecturer thing (and as far as I can tell, there are a bunch of them and they take the course in shifts, semester on, semester off or something). Unsurprisingly there is a textbook for the course. However, I do not remember if it was prescribed and, at any rate, it is next to useless. And by "next to useless" what I mean is that I used the old textbook which had pretty detailed notes on the various cases, not that I didn't utilise the textbook. Luckily, this didn't appear to be popular enough as a strategy that the copies found in short loan were exhausted (there is also one in the Davis Law Library).

Now, as you may remember I have several friends who are also doing BComs and they had told me two things. Firstly, that I'd like this course. Secondly, that the workshops are excellent. Now, personally, I think that the workshops were overrated based on this information. That is not to say that they're not useful if you attempt the problems beforehand, because I think they are. Like the tutorials (workshop and tutorial questions are not so different) they are an opportunity to apply the concepts learnt in the lectures and get familiar with the sorts of things that are expected of you (except for the AROPA workshop, which is more the latter). The trouble is that the workshops nearly always ran out of time... and Comlaw 101 doesn't even believe in exemplar answers (let alone model answers). Personally, I found office hours more useful than either tutorials or workshops, but if you go around the test be prepared for the long haul (I waited for over 90 minutes).

As a final note, there is a good rationale behind the answer thing. An LLB can be thought of as laws and logic. In this sense, law is not dissimilar to maths, which is also about a particular form of logical thinking... or so a friend of mine who does maths and law tells me. It follows from this that law is about the argument more than the facts... and it is possible to have several arguments and conclusions from the facts. Thus, the concern is that a model answer would constrain thinking. This, to an extent, is another old-fashioned idea echoing, as it does, the traditional values of what has been called "higher education". And if we think about this previous post, it's the stance the student needs, but not the one they want.

Assessment -- Do I Haave To?

Comlaw 101 is, with respect to its test and exam, a pretty boring stage one BCom core paper. That is MCQs and short answer questions. What makes the test a bit different though is that it tests fundamentally different things. I would compare and contrast the Stats 20x test which is also highly interested in being largely applied (seriously, we needed to know three things: the assumptions, how to read graphs/output and how to write executive summaries in plain English). In this sense, what served us well was understanding how to interpret a statute more than any theoretical knowledge... and the theory stuff that was there related to that first, lesser, aim and was not relevant to the exam at all. The exam required theoretical knowledge, insofar as knowing the relevant legal principles is theory (including important cases, e.g. AG v Geothermal Enterprises which is about negligence... and the cases function a bit like quotes in English) and the ability to use that knowledge to formulate an argument. I would also argue that the exam is noticeably the most difficult piece of assessment (cf Infosys 110, Accounting, either Business, etc).

The other bits of assessment in Comlaw are a bit different. Sure there are the CECIL quizzes (I guess I better call them Canvas quizzes) but those are old hat. A few multichoice questions, several attempts and an open book (I actually did the second half of them several times in order to try and maximise my coursework marks just on a whim... although maybe I should have done this with old B+ accounting). What I am really talking about is AROPA and tutorial participation.

AROPA probably stands for something but that's not really the point. The general idea of AROPA is that it is an opportunity to get used to legal writing: how to answer "law" questions/problems. This is, for the purposes of this course, basically approached through the ILAC framework. That is, issue, law, application, conclusion. So, in other words: define the problem, find the law/legal ideas relevant to that problem, apply them to it and generate a tentative conclusion about what it all means. Do all this within a word limit, submit it to the AROPA website and then wait as it gets peer marked. Oh, and you also peer mark the AROPAs of three other students. All for 0 marks. Fun, eh? That's the thing, though, unless you do AROPA and turn up and "participate" in tutorials, you won't be eligible for plussage. And not doing AROPA, even if it is peer marked, means you get that little bit less familiar with doing the sorts of things that you'll need to do in the test/exam.

Content

For me, the first part of the course didn't really cover anything new. This was because it begins fairly immediately with a constitutional overview and a quick run through the idea of common law (basically similar cases are decided in similar ways through the magic of precedent, which only gets changed at a higher court). These things are fairly familiar to anyone interested the the monarchy/republic debate (me) and those who have looked at the Civil War (i.e. the English one, where Sir Edward Coke and others' dissatisfaction with the ability of common law to protect the freedoms of the English was important). That's not to say that the specific details (which I no lnger recall in any case) weren't new but this isn't done that thoroughly anyway (it isn't Law 121, which I imagine does). The details on how laws are made, in particular, was new to me. Anyway, the nature of this stuff shouldn't surprise because it is taught so that you understand the context of the rest of the course (we also talked about what law is and why it matters to business). The first part of the course concluded with a run through of statutory interpretation (which basically means the purposive approach... "the meaning of an enactment must be ascertained from its text and in light of its purpose" or why the law exists/what it is meant to solve).

The rest of the course dealt with important aspects of civil law with respect to business. That meant negligence, negligent misstatement, intellectual property, trusts, fiduciaries (this is when you have to, legally, act in the best interests of parties that aren't yourself), business structures (briefly, incl. agents) and consumer law (Consumer Guarantees Act and the Fair Trading Act). There was also a very quick introduction to privacy, and possibly some other things (er, property). Throughout these topics the ideas which mattered were often illustrated by well known case law that established precedents or simply demonstrated with particular clarity the idea at heart. The idea of the reasonable person or simply reasonableness is particularly important when looking at negligence (and negligent misstatement). Personally, I think the negligence stuff was where the course came into its own, as while IP is interesting the lecturer was not the world's best... and privacy was like two lectures long.

Ultimately, I think these concepts are important enough that they really ought to be at least addressed at school... along with defamation (which we didn't study) as defamation is a really important thing to consider when you consider human interactions on the internet. I think this new found conviction is a strong endorsement of the content of this course... even if, strictly speaking, it was not the point at all.

Success: What Makes It?

  • Case Notes. These don't need to get obsessed with the facts of the case. What matters is the legal idea contained within the cases. Bolton v Stone is about liability and reasonableness (i.e. if it is not reasonable to take a precaution, you're not liable) for instance... not that some woman got hit by a cricket ball. To this end, look at the old Eagles textbook because, by God, it has some information on probably upwards of 90% of the cases.
  • Links. It is not sufficient to know the legal ideas. You need to put them in so that they don't appear to be floating in your answer. This was the feedback I received on my second AROPA answer. The way that you incorporate the cases mustn't float either: they're a core part of your explanation of whatever.
  • Study. This course has a fair amount of content but it is manageable. I would just make sure that you have some sort of logical approach (for you) to your studying. For instance, I grouped the cases by topic and stuck them after the content notes for those topics (for the cases that I did... which came to bite me in the exam as I needed cases for a question so had to choose a harder one due to not remembering).
  • Familiarity. This means that you have done AROPA, attempted tutorial and workshop problems beforehand and have a thorough understanding of what the course is about. ILAC is just a framework. It was put to me by one of the lecturers that they advise following a framework due to the limited English skills of some international students (clearly DELNA and whatever else the university uses is not sufficient). The point he was making is that if you know what you're doing, actually know what you're on about, then ILAC need not be some rigid climbing frame.

Conclusion:

In the end, I got an A from Comlaw 101. In all honesty, I probably should have done better on the exam, which means maybe I should have got an A+. I think I just didn't know the content as well as I thought I did. However, I actually really enjoyed Comlaw 101 in the end and it gave me an appreciation that maybe law is more interesting than I once thought. Indeed, I would go as far to say that Comlaw was the best of the BCom core papers... even if it exposes the contradictions of my worldview (given that there is no clear career path from Comlaw).

That being said, maybe Comlaw 101 wouldn't be for everyone. Certainly, it could be frustrating that we just didn't really examine the principle behind the fiduciary relationship, preferring a more rote "these are traditional fiduciary relationships". Also, I do think they oversell the tutorials... I am left again concluding that the closest I have been to a tutorial as the university says they are is that final Eco 101 one or the Business courses.

Monday, 18 January 2016

The Modern Political Paradigm

One of the consequences of the demise of the traditional 20th Century political paradigm is that people don't really care about socio-economic inequality any more. This is not the same as poverty. When we talk about poverty what we are talking about is people who are handed a bad hand and then kept down. Socio-economic inequality, on the other hand, is broader than this. It is about what happens when you consider the people above the poverty line but who still have bad hands... and the people below the poverty line.

I know what you're thinking. It probably has something to do with the GFC. Modern popular socio-economic discourse is best characterised as "Bankers are evil" and that's largely where it ends. People look at the huge salaries and the even more worrisome bonus packages and push them into that category of thought called "Well, this ain't right". Oh, okay, maybe they'll say something about "trickle down economics". Generally they won't point out that any basic (i.e. entry level) economic education will tell you that economics just doesn't work like this (clue: economists will, morality aside, always argue against slavery... not sure the same can be said of the general population as generally this is viewed as a moral issue for good reason). Still, they try.

The old paradigm was fairly keen on understanding ideas like privilege... of the advantages that come with wealth, in particular how these might extend beyond simply having more money... but the modern left (over a period of some decades) has decided that social inequality is better served by ignoring the wallet. Sure, this is pretty hard to not do in the US where money is basically the be all, end all but in sane democracies that excuse doesn't look so good. This process has also, ultimately, hurt the political left. After all, there are so many different groups and all of them are people... which means that if getting food on the table becomes their dominant concern, they are interested in the parties which will help them out. The thing is, if you are ignoring wallets, you are not that party. Consequentially, the parties with the political capital are either populist, right oriented or right oriented populist parties (think: National under Key)... and they get to run with narratives of "not-divided" in addition to traditional platforms. So, what voice exists to speak up about socio-economic disadvantage? Fighting poverty is all very well and good, but that's like funding panda conservation and just looking the other way when they come for the kakapo. It's the Facebook/Twitter version of fighting the good fight.

The impact of this new paradigm is interesting. After all, you might very well think that it doesn't matter that much. After all, as long as people aren't under the poverty line it's all good. Trouble is the efforts of parties like National are always charitable because charity is nice, nice plays well and if it plays well, they'll vote for it. The thing is charity is good at the point. More to the point (a new metaphor now) is that poverty becomes isolated from the wider phenomenon (although, of course, they are distinct and that needs recalling) and is discussed in the context of political philosophies whose interest can only ever be charitable. So, if the centre-right can't care in the right way and the centre-left doesn't bother any more, what happens? (Obviously the extremes are more extreme responses of the same type.) Well, if you want to know that, all you have to do is consider Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).

The basic idea of BYOD is that individual pupils will all have and bring a device with them to school. Usually these are laptops (including Chromebooks) but they can also be tablets. Some schools specify specific devices too (e.g. iPads). The thing is, these are expensive (especially if it is an Apple product that is specified).

As readers of this blog know, I am a university student. I also don't often bring my own laptop with me to uni. In fact, unless I need to get some work done on the train or don't think I can risk the chance of not finding a free computer in any of the many locations, I don't bring one. In part, this is because my laptop is quite big and unwieldy by the standards of modern laptops. That status was one reason why, after having been very frugal with my student allowance money over the year, I decided to buy a much smaller laptop. The main purpose of it was simply to watch television on (it spend a lot of time with an hdmi stuck in it) but by getting a smaller one I increased its mobility substantially, and decreased the price. In fact, I bought the cheapest laptop I could find, making use of a price deal too, and it still cost me $299.00. If that doesn't sound like much to you, that's just another reason why we should regret what the new political paradigm has done to our understandings of privilege. Hopefully, this will help you see sense.

What is more is that this is a very cloud based machine. Sure, the processor is fairly decent (2.16GHz) and the RAM too (2GB) by the standards of increasingly antique games, at least. However, there is a tiny little memory of 32GB. So, in other words, I have a laptop which is good enough for a lot of browser/cloud based stuff but it doesn't really have any grunt to it. Sometimes you need grunt. Basically, then, we can probably say that this laptop is good enough for its purposes. However, one must question how long it will last. I would not think any laptop would have an effective lifetime of less than four years, but what about one that is being carted around day in, day out by school children (often quite young ones)? Could it be that BYOD is a perfect case study of the Boot Theory? Especially given that many households will need assistance to suddenly deal with $299+ in costs... a burden even when spread across the year in fair price instalment plans. I think so.

Now, schools also like to do deals. Sometimes this is with a local stationery shop, which means if you buy there the school gets a cut. Sometimes this results in monopolistic activities... uniforms being an infamous example. We can't necessarily be sure that the schools aren't going to apply pressure to buy from certain retailers (either through guilt or specifications), or take deals from certain retailers that lead to worse outcomes (e.g. iPads... an expensive and unworldly* tablet, which is for the most part a toy when compared to a laptop, even one like what I just bought). You see, schools need money to do things...and they, probably universally, feel like they could do with more. This creates an incentive to behave in a particular way. And while what they do is for the educations they provide, people aren't rational. Hell, this blog's posts are probably about as rational as actual people can get... and my point is that these blogposts aren't rational. People want technology because it is new: and fixate on it because it's new, so it must be better. People also get target blind. You are so intent on taking down that one last plane, you get killed by groundfire. And there are a lot more irrationalities than these.

What I am trying to say here is that BYOD is sweeping through New Zealand is meeting well, next to no opposition. This is because of the modern political paradigm. There are very clear inequity issues surrounding BYOD... but they are just not part of the mainstream discourse. They are subsumed into the age old "back to school" costs issue, which is convenient for National because it means they can trot out the world's least competent unfirable minister, primed with a glib remark or three:
"No child in New Zealand should miss out on an education because of cost.
 "The Government invests a huge amount in early childhood, primary and secondary education ... I know that the start of the school year is a challenge for some families, but schools know their communities well and work hard to avoid imposing costs on them that they cannot afford.
 "In addition, a range of support is available from the Ministry of Social Development for beneficiaries who are finding the start of the school year a particular challenge. My advice to any parent who is worried about the cost of uniforms, stationery or other school equipment such as electronic devices is to talk to their schools, who often have arrangements in place to assist families who are struggling financially."
This is an example of what we might call damned truth. So what that it is all true? That doesn't actually give it meaning.

However, in another post, I will point out in another post (coming soon) that the solution to the BYOD issue specifically (God only knows how we can resoled the disaster of the paradigm itself) is, in fact, getting rid of BYOD as an idea, rather than the government actually stepping in and doing its job.


*Apple's MO is equivalent to a monastery. They seek to provide everything you could need, provided you do it in their way, to their specifications and ultimately at the cost of excluding you from everything else you could need. You buy an iPhone because you have an iPod, and to make the iPhone worth it you get a MacBook and so on and so forth. Wake up Apple product dweebs.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Infosys 110: Exam Resource

Infosys 110 was the subject of my second Business Core Courses review. Thus, one can say Infosys 110 is also, apparently, my most popular post. In a theoretical sense that is believable. After all, Infosys 110 is a fairly unique and confusing course (insofar as it never quite satisfactorily resolves that main question: what is infosys?). In that context it makes sense that a) people would search for more information and b) possibly stumble across this blog. The point is, though, that I should reward my readers. And so, for your viewing pleasure, a resource!

The following consists of my own exam from Semester Two 2014. The questions are not included (this resource assumes the readers will have access themselves due to being Auckland Uni students, presumably current/future Infosys 110 ones) and I provide only my answers to the short answer section. I will remind the readers that I did pretty badly on both D2 (57.5% after having challenged a few marks) and the test (69%) so I needed a good result on the exam. Ultimately I got 85%, although for the short answer section (what is provided here) I got 92%, on my way to an A-. Do not treat this blog as providing model answers.

For interest's sake there is also a very poor quality photo of (one side of) my cheat sheet (which I remind the reader was hastily made and was, in fact, the same one that I used for the test with some additions... and it was hastily made then as well).

For additional information on this exam please refer to the video the course made about it for one of the semesters that came after us (this should be available on Canvas because I can still access it via CECIL).

Apologies to interested parties privy to neither the questions nor the video... the provision of study materials by former students to other parties (generally future/current students) is a bit of a grey area, and this blog has yet to take a stance on the matter. Also, I assume that an exam paper is defined as the questions to the exam... and I do not have the university's written permission to put the questions up. If an exam paper is defined as a particular students' answers as well, I would assert that surely I am the copyright holder of my own answers and, therefore, I am free to do as I please with them. Certainly, I have not read anything to suggest that the university holds copyright over our assessments. (Not that I can do anything about the video.)











Compare and contrast the two kinds of cheat sheet that the dude in the video demonstrated.



Even the less intense one is much more involved than mine. I would imagine that the people who created both of these did better on the multi-choice sections than I did. However, the maximum grade I could have plausibly obtained was A- due to the poor performance in the aforementioned coursework examples so minimal regrets on my end.

Friday, 1 January 2016

Nomophobia

How old were you when you got your first mobile phone?

When was the last time you used your phone?

Do you think about phone use? What do you actually use yours for?

Dependency on mobile phones (which also includes smart phones) is an actual issue in society today and it'll probably only get worse. I think, and this article helps me think this, that one's age when one first obtains a mobile is a crucial part of this. Hopefully my answers to these questions will explain where my views are coming from. Note, the assumption that anyone reading this will have a phone. That's important.

My first phone is the same phone I have now. This is scarcely odd because it's probably barely a year old. It mostly gets used in the morning when I go through my morning routine of checking my websites (this takes a while, but if there's no interesting news it's quicker). In fact, it pretty much gets used exclusively for this purpose with the odd call on days when my schedule can reasonably be expected to vary/be unpredictable. As a consequence, most days, it stays at home, often turned off. In fact, when it is out and about with me it's turned off too (although I will listen to music I've put on it on the train home, and Youtube videos in the morning/at night). Wait, aren't I at university? Yes, I was nearly twenty by the time I obtained a phone. Yes, my friends know I have a phone. No, I keep them from obtaining its number (contact me in person or if absolutely necessary via Facebook, damn it).

Now, do I think about phone use? Yes, very often. A large part of this is that I am a people watcher and I also have an hour long commute (on often packed trains, frequently at school commute times). Some of these habits come from not having been a person with a phone for the vast majority of my life and they're largely sustained by not being a phone person. I think it's important to have established these things clearly. Now, before I attend to some observations I'd like to make, a few general remarks.

Addiction, to anything, is bad. Being addicted to "good" things like, say, exercise, work or socialisation is bad. Being addicted to useful things like the internet is bad. To be honest, reading the signs of smartphone addiction in that article make me think of the way I use my computer/the internet (ah, self-diagnosis; although it is an extremely rare night for me to not sleep soundly through the night). The point, though, is that denial of a problem is a large part of the problem. So, if you are defending mobile use a lot, think about why you are doing that.

The Train

You see a lot of different things on the train. From women putting on make-up (not common, if you ask me) to people doing push ups (again, not common, but I've seen a video of it). If you pay enough attention, you will see people staring into space and all sorts of other things (e.g. PDAs). However, the mobile phone or, rather, the smart phone is as close to ubiquitous as possible.

The case study I'd really like to look at is that of people who are clearly friends who spend most of their time looking at their phones and sitting in silence. That's a little bit weird. On the other hand, you have to remember that my friends and I are basically all at uni although there are quite a few who work full time (these are not, generally, as close). The point is that this means we are often in quite different places (even if, theoretically, being in the same space: uni). Consequentially, the train can be a centre of my social world. It follows, from that, that my general attitude to train socialisation could well be completely different to those of the people I see on the train. So, to get around that I will make my assumptions clear. Firstly, I tend to assume that these people won't have too much opportunity, apart from their train journey, to socialise in person whereas this is quite likely not the case... especially for school children (who, it must be said, will interact with their phones/other devices and their friends differently... sometimes communal uses). Secondly, better communication does, in fact, exist.

There are several different ways of communicating available to people in different places. For instance, this is a text based form of communication... as is texting or most other online forms of communication (letters are in this category too). Yet, as the popularity of things like Skype show, people are aware of and utilise extensively video calls... where the effectively real time facial reactions (or even more) of the people involved are visible. In fact, you can get something similar as well with avatars... but that is perhaps more accurately described as a combination of text and audio, or even a different version of audio (it depends on the exact nature of the avatars). Finally, you get audio-only forms of communication. These four models of communication are all available means of socialisation for people and, generally speaking, they are all available to people on trains (avatars less so).

When you think about these different ways of communicating you recognise, instinctively, that there are fundamental differences. For instance, while sarcasm is actually pretty easy to pick up through just reading words on a page/screen, it is often not picked up (maybe because the reader is stupid or the writer incompetent). When you think about someone who struggles with sarcasm IRL, though, you generally think such a person to be naive/gullible/something like that. One of the reasons for this is that the cues involved with speech are quite different... you get things like tone or pitch... which means that there is more information about the communication to pick up on. More information, in some sense, equals better information, as you have a more complete picture. The thing is, though, that a phone call may have pitch and tone but it doesn't have facial expression (these are all non-verbal cues, iirc verbal communication is pretty purely the words chosen and the order they're in). A video call has those, and it may well capture a lot of gestures too (basically depends on the location and quality of the camera and connection)... but it doesn't have, as examples, touch, smell or physical positioning.* So, in this sense, the most complete kind of communication can only happen in person and completeness dictates quality (of the communication process, not its content).

Now, when I am on the train with friends (in the same carriage) there are a few things that happen. One, minimal communication as some/all parties wish to study. Two, communication. Three, minimal communication for other reasons... which generally only happens if dealing with friends who are more acquaintances. Yet, as I pointed out above, the train is often a very good time to see them and I am a person who prefers personal socialisation. Indeed, I think it is better socialisation because you have that better communication. This is what I feel is natural and I think it a little bit off when those acquaintances choose to, say, read a book rather than communicate... without the conversation having first died off (it's different if they're studying, of course**).

What you often see, however, is people using technology to do whatever rather than actually talk to the people next to them (that they clearly know personally). Why? These are not people using technology as part of the socialisation, for instance communal game playing or showing someone images that they took when they went to the zoo the other day etc. etc., but rather replacing personal socialisation.

So, I think the final question is: do people let their phones/other portable technologies cause them to forego better socialisation options? Comments welcome.



*Some time ago now (semester two was winding down) I was at the computer rooms in OGGB. I saw a computer that was free and a chair near to it. I used that chair. The problem was that my assumption of which computer chair it belonged to was erroneous. The dude who was using it got, understandably, annoyed and we sort of stood there posturing while I tried to point out the mistake (informed, I must admit, by thinking that if it did belong to the other computer its owner had abandoned the computer**). We eventually resolved the disagreement... I got him (me?) another chair in the end... but the point is that you can't posture/square off etc. in a video call, can you? In acting we call this blocking... where the actors stand.

**Even with studying I think the train is neither the time nor the place if you can socialise. This is a purely rational point of view. After all, you can socialise at uni or on the train with basically no quality changes but the same doesn't hold true of studying. Does the train have tables? No. Does the train provide an entirely smooth journey? No. Does the train give you enough space? Maybe. These and other reasons all add up to the decision to study when it is worse rather than when it is better being odd. My paranoid brain does wonder if my presence affects the decision... unrequited love exists, so one-sided friendships can too.

***This problem is rife at uni because while you now get logged off after 15 minutes people have friends/randoms who say things like, "Oh, they've just gone to an office hour" or "Someone's sitting there"... and you also get people leaving their stuff and buggering off regardless. Someone should study the social norms at play here because they are bloody annoying. The people who abandon the computers are taking up a valuable communal resource but the incomplete abandonment causes problems.