Friday, April 27, 2007

Ah, Friday

Fridays are nice, even when you've finished with classes and one day is little unlike any other. The reason is simple - Derb. From its humble origins as a roughly ten-minute rantfest, this has grown into a...twenty-five-minute rantfest. Enjoy or don't.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

What Is Spam?

Well? The question came to mind as I was checking my university e-mail. See, although we have to check our e-mail for potentially important news (exam changes, registration times, &c.), well over 90% of what we receive is utterly worthless. I'm not saying that I've signed up for a site that sends out worthless spam to me - no, I am saying that well over 90% of what the university administration chooses to send me is completely worthless. Of the 10% that is not strictly worthless, most of it is stuff I don't particularly care about, or which I've received notice of through other channels (such as my gmail account), or what have you. So a vanishingly small amount of e-mail I get through official channels from my law school is spam to me.

I get a lot of e-mail from school, too.

On the other hand, my gmail account has become the target of a lot of "free cixal3is" type spam, the hardcore, destroy-your-computer spam, but guess what? It goes into my spam folder, I check the message subject lines, verify in roughly 1.7 seconds that it's all worthless, and delete the entire folder. Of the stuff that doesn't go to the spam folder, it's all stuff I signed up for, and which I might now regret, but, stunningly, a higher percentage of that is relevant than of my official university inbox population.

In other words, as far as electronic junk mail goes, eBay sends me more relevant stuff more often than the administrators of an ABA-approved law school.

Let me try to avoid cursing while I express anger at the time-wasters who are taking $30000+ a year from me.

-Send me e-mail just to tell me that, even though you hate, despise, and want to destroy the military, the JAG recruiters are on campus, although they are evil homophobes so we shouldn't make a pact with them. Look, if you disagree with armed forces policy, fine. But I don't ever get e-mails about how evil ANYONE ELSE is. So f...screw off.
-Inform me for the fifteenth time that the Center for Ethics and Public Service needs, employees. First, my parents aren't rich, and I'm not rich, so unlike most of my classmates, I need to make serious cash this summer. So take your pitiful salary and shove it. Second, knowing the head for the Center as I do, you might want to take the "Ethics" out of the title and replace "Public Service" with "White Guilt." Just sayin'.
-Send me the exact same e-mail twice in the same day. I get it, some worthless liberal is going to speak on campus about nothing. I didn't care the first time I read it, I won't care the second time.
-Send me info about yearbooks, then start the e-mail with "Graduating 3Ls can pick up..." Oh, so this is for graduating 3Ls? Then send it to them and only them. Stop wasting my time.
-Send me (and every other law student) a job opportunity that is only available to undergrads. STUPID.
-Send me a survey showing that, in some group of people, Miami ranks 18th out of all law schools. Get just the right group of morons together and anything can rank in the top 25. I've never heard of Lawdragon and all I know about it now is that its rankings are total BS. Miami is 70th, down from 65th, and I'm starting to discover why. Latching onto phony rankings isn't helping our reputation, guys.
-Speaking of surveys, don't send me a chance to take a survey on the law school, and then a few days later, remind me to take it. Because when you reminded me, it got me so angry that I actually DID take the survey. And I was completely honest in it. Hope you're happy.

-Send me e-mail relevant to me or my classes.
-Get a frickin' spam filter.

Yeah, this won't do any good.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Backdoor for Infanticide?

Those bemoaning the Court's anti-infanticide decision (more accurately, the Court's deference to Congressional power, but whatever) might note that Justice Thomas concurs to draw attention to what was lacking in the briefs - a Commerce Clause argument. Anyone who knows his and Scalia's views on the Commerce Clause will know that the two cast a critical eye on federal legislation that does not obviously regulate interstate commerce. Whether the Act at issue in that case is a legitimate exercise of Commerce Clause power is in doubt.

So, cheer up, guys. Maybe you can get two principled justices to overturn the law later, on federalism grounds, and we can get back to killing viable, fully-born babies.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Wake Me When It's Over

Not content with staging boring, meaningless "world championships", FIDE is putting on a match between two computers.


Computers are imaginative now:
Junior is willing, like no other program, to sacrifice material for initiative, activity or a promising attack. This causes it to come up with highly unexpected, imaginative ideas. Chess players appreciate the “wild” side of Junior’s personality and use the program to find new ideas in their chess analysis. Junior is generally regarded as the Mikhail Tal of computer chess.
Someone call Hofstadter, we've finally discovered AI! Or ChessBase is hyping this crap up for no reason! Either way!

Capablanca gets posthumously insulted as well:
Fritz is often compared to the great Cuban world champion Capablanca for its playing style.
The only one comparing your program to Capablanca is you, guys. Way to market.

Until someone writes an Eduard Nemeth program, computers can't play chess.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Only Americans are Racist

...and other lies.

Language is a sensitive topic in Belgium, particularly in Flanders where locals and politicians are keen to promote the use of Dutch and prevent the encroachment of the country's other main language, French.
It's a sensitive topic here, too, but I can guaran-damn-tee that if something like this happened -
A Belgian auto parts supplier has forbidden its workers to speak any language other than Dutch, even during their lunch break, and employees could be fired if they disobey.
- we'd be seeing lawsuit upon lawsuit. Substitute "American" for "Belgian" and "English" for "Dutch" in that last quote, and just imagine the outrage.

What I love about this is not only the racist undertones, but the anti-Muslim undertones:
Belgian newspaper De Standaard reported Thursday that workers of Turkish origin, who make up some 35 percent of the company's workforce, felt the rule was aimed against them and had asked the union to intervene.
The idiots at Reuters don't seem to pick up on it, but anyone with half a brain (Reuters is out already!) can see what's going on. The Germans have long resented the encroachment of Turkish immigrants to their country, too, and of course Turkey is having a hell of a time trying to join the EU. Belgium is the latest to join the club.

Racism? Nah. Can't be. Only Americans are racist, and only Americans could possibly hate Muslims. So look for a different explanation, folks.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Hugenot Revenge

Dirty Papists! How dare they protect the innocent!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Bloody Hands Crew Still Stupid

This poll got the wrong results, let's pretend they don't exist.

There is one question of any import here - what effect would tighter or looser gun control have on violence? The results:
The MSN-Zogby poll found that 59 percent of Americans do not believe stricter gun control policies would have prevented Cho Seung-Hui from killing 32 people and then himself in the worst mass murder in America's history. The poll found that only 36 percent of those polled believe stronger gun control could have prevented the shootings.
So, for the answer "Stricter control prevents violence," the split is 36-59.
However, arming more Americans with guns is not the answer either, most people say. Slightly more than half of those polled—54 percent—say that more guns would not stop killing sprees. Thirty-eight percent believe a better-armed populace could help prevent such mayhem.
The split is 38-54 on "Looser control prevents violence."

The numbers simply mean that more people subscribe to the view that stricter gun control is the problem than that stricter gun control is the solution, although both views are in the minority. I think someone's disappointed with these results, because instead of the normal media line that "THE NUMBERS DON'T LIE FOLKS," the poll results are being completely downplayed. Compare with Bush's poll numbers, which are thrown in our face constantly, even though he won the only two polls that matter.

The idiocy is strong with this one:
The gun lobbying groups have been very successful in "stymieing debate," says Everitt. "If you support any moderate gun control policy you're an enemy of freedom. That just dumbs down what really needs to be a serious and thoughtful debate."
Well, it seems like a very simple syllogism to me: If you want to take away freedom, you're an enemy of freedom. Gun control advocates want to take away freedom. Therefore, &c. To suggest that debate is being "stymied" by "gun lobbying groups" is intellectually dishonest, the real "dumbing down" of the debate. Invoking "lobbying groups" as if interest groups don't represent, you know, the actual views of actual people with actual interests who actually want to influence legislation in an actually republican government is sickening, an example of the utter misuse of language in an attempt to demonize the enemy. "Gun lobbying groups" are just trying to hold onto some part of the Second Amendment - you know, that part of the Bill of Rights right after the First Amendment? It's not at all a leap of logic to say that the same enemies of freedom trying to roll back the Second won't flinch at rolling back the First, so lay off, Stalin.

It's also worth noting that gun control reallly, seriously might have had something to do with these shootings. If anyone is avoiding serious debate, it's those who just cannot get it through their heads that gun control makes sure that only criminals have guns, only criminals can use the power of the pistol to threaten their victims, and that an armed populace is a safe and free populace. If logic is still too hard, think about this: Virginia Tech already had a campus gun ban. How's that gun control working, huh? There's really nothing more you can do than to ban guns totally, and it had no effect but to disarm the innocent.

Gun control advocates may find it hard to wash all this blood off their hands.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

More Stupidity, Same Source

What a worthless University. A study confirms that tobacco smoking is not a worse evil than the Holocaust (which any British sailor can tell you didn't happen anyway), so we immediately have to shoot down its value.
Cigarette smoke and caffeine might decrease the risk of developing Parkinson Disease, according to findings from researchers at the Miami Institute for Human Genomics at the Miller School.
Frabjous day! But wait...
But that does not mean that patients should start lighting up.
Yeah, I can see that. It's not like health researchers use the outcome of one study with questionable methods to dictate massive changes in social policy...oh wait. They do that all the time. My bad. Why is this different?
"I would not change any behaviors on the basis of this study," says William K. Scott, Ph.D. professor of medicine and faculty member at the Institute.
That's cool, doctor, you don't have to change any behaviors. But should the rest of us? What use is this study if we are to ignore its findings? Or do you like Parkinson's?
Smoking and caffeine may influence dopamine levels in the brain, but they are not a simple preventative. "There are over 4,000 components in cigarette smoke, and we assume it might be nicotine that is impacting the disease, but it might be other things," Scott says, noting that the nicotine anti-smoking patch does not significantly improve symptoms in Parkinson's patients. "If we could find out whether it was truly caffeine or nicotine and how it acts on the brain, that might help us develop better treatments for Parkinson's patients."
You assume it might be nicotine. Wow, what a limb you're out on - you assume (for the sake of argument, I guess?) that something may be in the realm of possibility. In other words, you're willing to think that it's not logically impossible that something might be the cause of something else in some possible world. Wow, do you really want to tie yourself down to that position?! Idiot.
I like the line about how the patch doesn't improve Parkinson's patients - but then, is he talking about a different study? He has to be, actually. The principal study describes itself as considering how well substances work at preventing Parkinson's, while what he starts talking about there is treating those who already have the disease. So, really, this guy is a Ph.D.? This guy who doesn't get the obvious fallacy of mixing these two studies up and saying, "Because the nicotine patch does not treat or cure those with Parkinson's, nicotine could not possibly prevent the disease in the first place." All right. Does eating fiber cure colon cancer? If not, it must not do any good to eat it to prevent that same cancer.

See that? Some punk kid with nothing but a degree in philosophy just owned you, good doctor. Better luck next time.

Stupidity, Miami Style

Overheard while waiting for an appointment:

"The ROTC are doing some demonstration with guns today. It's really tacky. They're using rifles - big rifles, not just small ones. I don't think they should be doing that."

Since this idiot was making us all privy to a cell phone conversation in a public place (making me wonder why the NSA is not allowed to listen to what all of us can listen to anyway, but whatever), I felt I had standing to comment. I mumbled something about the Second Amendment, but this loudmouth probably did not hear me, preferring the sound of her own voice.

Here is why she was stupid:

-Presumably, the ROTC is not going to go on a rampage and start shooting people for no reason. In fact, let me know when it happens, ever, and then I'll worry about them. By the same token, why allow Coral Gables police to carry sidearms? Since we're worried about guns, not just unlawful possession of guns, why the hell not? Next time you get mugged in this crime-ridden city, don't call the police, because they might have guns and that might lead to apprehending the culprit.

-Rifles are relevant...why? And big rifles, at that. I guess if the ROTC had been carrying carbines, everything would be ok, but because they were carrying "big rifles" (I hate when people utterly ignorant of firearms try to speak), it's somehow worse. Rifles are like pistols how? Not at all? You're just an ignorant, sheltered fool from southern Florida who does nothing but spend other people's money? Oh. K.

-I bet if the ROTC had been at Virginia Tech, the killer might have had a lethal case of lead poisoning before he could do any real harm. So, I guess the idea is, "People got slaughtered because they were unarmed - let's make it happen again." How does that blood on your hands feel, gun control nuts?

If you want my pistol, come and take it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Community Safety

Well, we now know that Cho Seung-Hui, the bastard who physically killed 32 innocent people and emotionally killed countless hundreds more, was a 23 year old English major from South Korea.

And, as many people have predicted, some loonies are already blaming Bush or blaming guns.

But, Terrance, this is stupid stuff. While the gun did kill these people, was it not an English major controlling the gun? Sounds to me like we must outlaw English majors. Based on everything I read online, I would say that the study of English is already on a rapid decline; why not hasten its death and protect the innocents among us?

Actually, one could argue this doesn't go far enough. “Guns don't kill people, South Koreans kill people." We now – obviously – know who shouldn't possess guns, or be in America to begin with.

Again, this but scratches the surface. Not all South Korean English majors are bad, &c. True enough. We know from the creepy note the shitbag left that he did this whole thing based on his girlfriend's refusing to either submit to him or act in accordance with his wishes and desires. Now, dear readers, I am not going to draw any conclusions for you, but apply your reasoning abilities to what would have happened if the girlfriend simply behaved appropriately.

Rather than outlawing certain weapons or certain people, perhaps some energy should be focused on, well, you figure it out. It's every bit as reasonable and fair as blaming the President.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Oh, Slate!

Slate pre-empted me - sort of. The discussion of what can and cannot be done to Michael Nifong, the odious prosecutor who apparently likes bringing charges against obviously innocent people in order to win elections, involves a lot of legal principles - executive discretion and sovereign immunity being important ones. The author of the article examines it in a very focused way, leaving out two vital parts of the analysis - but then, the article doesn't pretend to be anything other than a discussion of Nifong's criminal liability. I don't know the law well enough to know whether Nifong had to have been knowingly violating a constitutional right - if the conduct was only ambiguously violative, he's not liable under 42 U.S.C. 1983 - or whether the criminal statute has other standards.

42 U.S.C. 1983 is one of the important things missed. It provides for damages against anyone violating civil rights under color of law. Now, for the lacrosse players, money may be more satisfying than getting Nifong convicted, unless they really want to humiliate him. I wouldn't blame them. But he has to have known that the right he was violating was settled constitutionally, which might be hard to prove. He could argue that he was merely being a shrewd prosecutor.

The other problem is that federal prosecutors simply have no good reason to prosecute a state DA and lots of reason to refrain from it. Besides the federalism issue (can the feds dictate the terms of state prosecutions to such an extent that they actually fine/jail people?), there is a natural reluctance for courts to get involved with the executive (except the Supreme Court these days). So-called "political questions" are issues where someone in government has done something wrong, but the proper remedy is not judicial. The remedy in those cases is an appeal to the common sense of the electorate, who will "vote the rascals out of office," as my Con Law professor says. In this case, Nifong was re-elected.


Federalism and judicial restraint seem to lose their force in the face of stupid voters. See 2006 elections.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Inevitable Imus Insight

There are two things I just don't get re: Imus:

Why did people ever enjoy him? He always seemed like a cranky, unfunny troll. If he were funny, his demeanor might actually have endeared him to me, but as it was, I just never got it.

Why the huge fuss? Race has resurfaced as a poison in this country, but this time, we all suffer. Mention of race and racist jokes aren't actually taboo - it just depends on who's making the jokes. I guess our new policy is to determine whether a joke is offensive by your skin pigmentation.

Let me rephrase that to let the disgust sink in: Our new policy is to judge you by the color of your skin.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A Hearty Welcome Back

Join me in welcoming back Mr. Milne from his Lent blogging hiatus. The idea of "giving up" updates for Lent is clever, and I wish I had thought of it.

Come to think of it, that's what we're doing every time we go dark - on sabbatical, you know. Doing...important research.

Amazingly, most of our (meager) hits come from people googling chess-related stuff, so I might as well keep giving the public what it wants, or at least coming close - apparently some of you really want Peter Leko's wife. Join the club. The latest news is that five world champions are assembling to play in a rapid tournament, with one being the guest of honor. Well, let's see - Smyslov is still alive, and there's Spassky, Fischer (!), Karpov, and Kasparov. That makes five! Guess how many of those will be there?

Just one - Spassky as the guest, not even playing. Apparently (even I forget) the following men have won the world championship under some auspices, at some time: Vishy Anand, Veselin Topalov, Ruslan Ponomariov and Rustam Kasimdzhanov.


Monday, April 09, 2007

Open Letter

Herr Richard Dawkins,

Please stick to your field of expertise. As when Supreme Court justices lecture us on climatology, and when German philosophers proclaim that Euclid is the end of geometry, so you have joined the ranks of the embarassments to mankind. One can be very intelligent in one thing and very stupid in another - in fact, it seems rather a pattern among intellectuals throughout history. Plato was quite a metaphysician but nearly got himself killed when he tried to apply his political theory to practice in Syracuse. Einstein was rather soft on the Commies, the worst murderers in history. And Al Gore...well, Al must be good at something.

As a philosopher, you are nothing more than an enthusiastic amateur, full of sound, overflowing with fury, and very light on signification.

Here are your options:

1. Learn modus ponens

2. Shut up

3. Entwine

Please choose.

Fondest Regards, Yours, &c.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Check - and, especially, Mate

Check out the pictures at the bottom.

On the occasion of the European Chess Championship, I would like to remind the entire continent to play chess while it's still legal. You never know what those Muslims are going to outlaw once they breed rampantly into majority status.

Britons Are Slaves

Poor Tony.

Apparently, after kissing Iranian ass, Neville Blair - er, Tony Chamberl - er, whatever his name is, is trying to puff himself up like he won that little struggle with Iran over the hostages. Iran, of course, is utterly pleased with itself because it exposed the contemptible weakness of the obsolete British military.

Captain Crunch is to the new navy as Lord Nelson was to the old. These weenies couldn't sink a block of lead.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Rylor Redux?

Anand's mom is somehow news. Apparently, she is proud of him now, because unlike being the second rated player in the world, he's now first (due to some whining from the Indian Chess people and some caving from FIDE). It is really good when your mom says you're cool.

Anand is thirty-seven years old.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


The Supreme Court is baffling. Go ahead and read the opinion for yourself. A few things stand out about this opinion:

1. The majority appears out of its intellectual league. I wonder how much of it was written by agenda-pushing law clerks, or ripped from environmentalists' briefs, or both.

2. The alarmist point of view is adopted on the first page of the opinion.
A well-documented rise in global temperatures has coincided with a significant increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Respected scientists believe the two trends are related.
I prefer "correct" scientists to "respected" scientists, personally. I also prefer not to make myself look like a fool by stating as beyond dispute theories and facts that are still a matter of serious debate. Global warming is not the Big Bang theory of our time, accepted by all but a few eccentric holdouts for the Steady State model. No, it's more like string theory - new, controversial, and far from definitive.

3. Sloppy, sloppy thinking. Justice Stevens is no stranger to sloppy thinking, but this time it really shows. Either those environmental groups just lied or those law clerks are pretty dull:
In this regard, MacCracken’s 2004 affidavit—drafted more than a year in advance of Hurricane Katrina—was eerily prescient. Immediately after discussing the “particular concern” that climate change might cause an “increase in the wind speed and peak rate of precipitation of major tropical cyclones (i.e., hurricanes and typhoons),” Mac-Cracken noted that “[s]oil compaction, sea level rise and recurrent storms are destroying approximately 20–30 square miles of Louisiana wetlands each year. These wetlands serve as a ‘shock absorber’ for storm surges that could inundate New Orleans, significantly enhancing the risk to a major urban population.”
Oh wow, this old thing? Global warming caused Katrina? People have been warning us for, oh, about thirty years that a major hurricane would destroy New Orleans - does that mean that, by the same token, global cooling caused Katrina. Because that was a big theory at the time. I think a better explanation for the disaster might be the fact that a city was built below sea-level on a major river delta. The survival of the people there thus depended more than in any other place on the competence of government. Now that I put it that way, doesn't it sound doomed from the start?

4. This is not hot air. You will feel the effects of this case keenly. Remember that when you vote for the next President, who will populate the executive departments and put in the new guy who will make EPA rules in light of this case - it's going to be bad anyway, but it could get a lot worse. It gets worse because, as Marlo Lewis points out, the EPA cannot consider costs in regulating air pollutants. That means that if we take global warming seriously, regulate carbon dioxide, and ignore the costs of regulation completely, there is a good chance that the clean-air targets will be back-breakingly difficult for the industry to meet, to say nothing of what happens if you can no longer drive any of your motor vehicles. If the EPA determines that global warming can only be abated if we produce, say, half the carbon dioxide we're currently doing, and so reducing our output would cost $1 trillion a year, we have to do it.

We have to do it because there is a statute on point. You know who can change statutes, right? Right. Congress. The dimwitted among us, and some fed-up Republicans who wanted to "teach those RINOs a lesson," have made sure that statutes will not change for the better for the next two years. In 2008, you might want to consider the results of your electoral choices on Congress, the branch able to change the Clean Air Act to a more sensible version; on the policies and identity of the President, who appoints the excecutive department heads who will interpret how to implement the statutes Congress has passed; and on the judiciary, who, while not directly influenced by elections, nevertheless have to be appointed and confirmed. If you want Supreme Court insanity to end anytime soon, think long and hard about who is doing the appointing.

5. Chief Justice Roberts wrote a dissent of his own, joined by Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito. Justice Scalia wrote a separate dissent, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas and Alito. I think the "Souter scare" is over - the two new justices have proven their intelligence in this and other cases.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Supremely Gullible

The United States Supreme Court just issued an opinion taking global warming seriously. If this is not bad enough, the Court actually, with an apparently straight face, implied that global warming was responsible for Katrina.

Soooo, am I too smart to get appointed? Shame, really. I was looking forward to the robe.

Fragile Ego

FIDE comes under fire even on those rare occasions that they get it right.

What happened? FIDE comes out with an April rating list, and usually, although the official rules say that a certain March tournament won't be counted for that list, it gets counted anyway, because it's so important. Essentially, then, for all these years FIDE has been breaking its own rules to pander to the ratings-obsessed, insecure players out there. What do they do this year? They abide by their actual rules.

And someone complains. No, really. FIDE did everything by the book, and the Indian Chess Federation complained, because Anand is first if you count the tournament, second if you don't.

Who the hell cares? How immature do you have to be to care what your rank is? I thought this was all about the beauty and competition of chess.

Nope. Not for the Indians. And FIDE caved. What a farce.