A fiery baptism into the world of shorthand today. Tough but necessary.

Taking recording equipment into (or even close to) a courtroom is something of a no-no. The answer to this is shorthand; a fiendishly clever method of writing which works by simplifying letters and, when assembling them into words, dropping any letters which aren't completely necessary and pressing what's left together into a squiggle. All this in order to make writing as fast as possible so that a reporter can keep up with a court case. It looks like this:

This video (the best I could find) shows teeline shorthand at 40 words per minute. You're considered good when you reach 100 words per minute. I think it looks stunning when it's done well. We're doing this for 10 hours per week for the first two weeks, then it continues with shorter sessions every week, though having spoken to our lovely tutor I realise that a lot of private study will be required in order to get my pace up to the magic 100 words per minute. I love a challenge.

Shorthand is a tough thing to learn, but while we students grumbled about this and that, Indonesia was hit by another earthquake. As if the first one wasn't enough. Even people who don't like journalists would find it hard to argue against the fact that they provide the valuable public service of offering some perspective on the petty issues we whine about every day. As history is the most reliable way predicting the future, expect a blog entry discussing the spectacularly disorganised aid efforts and half-hearted token gestures from the superpowers.

Meanwhile, the House of Lords is no longer the highest court in the land. I've never felt totally comfortable with the court that is more of a commitee and I think this looks a lot better to the public and I think this is fine news as it should help to separate our legal system from our political system. Hopefully it'll be different from the US system, which is rather political. However, I don't yet know enough about politics to be confident that I'm not about to embarrass myself if I continue, and unfortunately I have so much reading and shorthand practice to do that I don't have time to research it properly. Time to hit the books.