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Monday, May 15, 2006

Ah yes, I'll have the "two weeks of hell", with a "two weeks of hell" chaser.

We haven't had a post since last Tuesday; funny what finals can do to a blog.  I had my last final on Friday, so by now I've mostly recovered from finals and recovered from recovering from finals.  Then again, I haven't started my petition (journal write-on) yet, and I'm sure that once I do any post-finals relief will evaporate quickly.  I have half a mind to reflect on the year gone by, to wax nostalgic and reminisce and such, but for now, let's just try to break the slump, shall we?

President Bush has some kind of big address on immigration tonight on TV.  I may or may not watch.  There have been a number of interesting comments on The Corner today.  On the speech generally, KJL relays a friend's comment: "Tonight could be the first fully televised political suicide in history."  Too true, or at least too likely, unfortunately.  My favorite though is from John Derbyshire:

I'm baffled as to why anyone would want to hire these temporary workers.
The entire point of illegal immigrant labor is that it's cheap *B*E*C*A*U*S*E***I*T*S***I*L*L*E*G*A*L*. If you legalize it, it ain't cheap any more. You've got minimum wage laws, workmen's comp, benefits regulations, etc., etc. to comply with, and all sorts of litigation possibilities (harassment, discrimination, etc.) to hedge against. You might as well hire Americans.

JMag just sent me this link, video of the whole BBC mistaken-pundit-identity thing.  What makes it funny is that THIS is the guy they were supposed to have.  

On a more serious front, Judge (, lecturer, and prolific author) Posner has a piece on OpinionJournal calling for the creation of an American equivalent to the British MI5.  A preemptive response to the inevitable response:

"The objections to creating a U.S. counterpart to MI5 are shallow. The FBI notes that Britain has only about 50 police forces and the U.S. 18,000: How could a U.S. domestic intelligence agency staff 18,000 field offices? It couldn't, of course. But neither can the FBI, which has only 56 field offices and an attitude of hauteur toward local police. Some fear that a domestic intelligence agency would be a secret police, spying on Americans. But like MI5 (and its Canadian counterpart, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service), such an agency would have no powers of arrest, and no greater authority to "spy on Americans" than the FBI now does."

On the "other" domestic surveillance story from last week, John Hinderacker of PowerLine makes a good point:  

"[I]t's obvious that what the NSA does with this vast amount of data is to run it through computers, looking for suspicious patterns, especially involving known or suspected terrorist phone numbers. I did a quick calculation: assuming that there are 200 million adult Americans, each of whom places or receives ten phone calls a day (a conservative estimate, I think), it would require a small army of 35,000 full-time NSA employees to pay a total of one second of attention to each call. In other words, lighten up: the NSA obviously isn't tracking your phone calls with your friends and relatives."

Then again, lawyers (and law students, law professors, etc…) aren't notorious for their math skills.  As a case in point, my Property textbook had a case, In re Marriage of Graham, 574 P.2d 75, where in calculating damages the court reduced a life-time earning increase from an advanced degree earned during a marriage to a present value, determined the percentage to which the wife was entitled, cut out that dollar amount, and determined that it should be paid in equal monthly installments over the course of 27.5 years.  The editors of the book caught that one with a "Do you have any criticism of the trial court's valuation method?-Eds.", but didn't explain (typical for that book) what it was that the court had done wrong, so I'm sure most students missed it.  The same book (when did this become about the book?) also screwed up an explanation of future discounting, instructing unsuspecting law students that at a 6% interest rate, 100 dollars a year from now would be worth 94 dollars now.  Close, but not quite, unless you're generous with the rounding, which I would guess parties to a lawsuit are not.  Anyway, back to the topic at hand, I would guess that Hinderacker is about right, but if you want to check his math, you go right ahead, just admit that this isn't "the Bush administration listening to our phone calls" already.  

More important than any of that, Ken Jennings, of Jeopardy fame, is hosting a Minnesota high school quiz bowl program called Face Off Minnesota.  Rock on Ken.  There was a time during his streak that I thought he was being set up as Alex Trebek's successor.  On that note, I'm off to the Jeopardy website to figure out how to audition.  


Yeah, nobody cares what phone calls I'm making now, but the point is that they're compiling it. So in the future, someone might care that I called Joe Schmoe on February 13, 2005. They'll have that information, and the opportunity to get it and use it is there. It may not be what they're doing now, but who's to say they won't in the future? I really really really do not think that is overly paranoid, either. This is pretty huge.

The numbers don't matter anyway...this isn't a numbers game. This is the exact kind of logic that says that your DNA should be on file, and there should be no problem with them (you know, "them") sampling it every few days.

Privacy is privacy. There's a reason you close the blinds when you're having sex. Pretty unlikely that someone is going to walk by at that exact moment (or 10 minutes, or whatever), but you do it anyway, if you want privacy. The NSA is taking away the blinds.
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