Monthly Archives: October 2003

Welcome to the USA – Leave Your Privacy Home

The Practical Nomad blog: USA visitor fingerprint and photo database to include travel data

Bad news for many international visitors to the USA: Most visitors to the USA, arriving at airports or seaports, who require visas

… — apparently including all transit passengers changing planes in the USA en route between other countries — will have digital photographs and fingerprint scans enterred into their “travel record” in a new database, the “Arrival/Departure Information System (ADIS)”.

It's still not clear whether any of the data the DHS is now obtaining from international airlines (in violation of European Union and other countries' laws) will be included with fingerprints and photos in the ADIS database of travel records —

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Posted in Civil Liberties | Leave a comment

Old Fashioned Politics — Throw Money To Your Friends

There's been a little bit of headscratching about why why the government would spend $32 million to promote the new $20 bill (noted via Eugene Volokh).

The Slate article notes the ostensible justification, “the campaign … [is] really designed to put everyone on notice that a change in currency is afoot: The new bill has some different color and design elements (to deter counterfeiters), but it's real, so don't freak out,” althought in fact free media do a fine job of that.

Funny thing is, when our city and county governments down here buy lots of ads in the local media we know exactly what's going on: they are throwing money to their friends and encouraging them to stay friendly. Naturally that could never happen at the national level.

Posted in Politics: US | Leave a comment

‘Knee Defender’ Is Actually Air Aggression

The next air war will not be over Iraq. It will be over the Knee Defender which advertises itself as a way to “protect against reclining seatbacks on airplanes – save more legroom – can help you guard against economy class syndrome – thrombosis – DV”. It's a little piece of plastic that air passengers can slip on the seat in front of them, and freeze it in place — turning every seat potentially into one of those awful immobile ones sometimes found just in front of the exit row.

Already, one airline has banned it in response to traveler complaints. What drives people to carry a plastic block onto a plane to reduce the comfort of the folks in front of them? I'd wager that in most cases it is not a concern with proper posture, nor the supposed health advantages. Rather, it's to make room for that laptop—on which it so often seems the business traveler plays solitaire and watches movies…

Actually, this would make a decent law school exam question: does the deployment of Knee Defender in order to prevent the other passenger's seat's from reclining amount to the commission of any sort of tort? [I'll bet there are no contract claims against the airlines—they have their boilerplate down to an art form.]

[PS: this lawtechguru site is worth a visit.]

Posted in Sufficiently Advanced Technology | 122 Comments

Readers Shower Joshua Marshall With Donations

Joshua Micah Marshall writes a great political blog complete with actual original ideas and investigative reporting called Talking Points Memo. The other day he posted an item asking for financial support in order to take his blogging on the road to cover the New Hampshire primary. Readers responded so generously, that in less then 24 hours Mr. Marshall was saying “I never thought I’d say this, but: No More Contributions!”. Gentleman that he is, he then started describing how he'd give some of the money above what he actually need back to the later contributors.

Now, we're only talking about $4864.00 here; I don't think this is a sustainable business model for the starving artists of the world (although things like it have been suggested), nor is it the next shot (after open source?) in an ongoing transition towards a gift-exchange model amidst a culture of satisfaction and plenty.

But it's pretty cool whatever it is.

Posted in Blogs | 1 Comment

John Hart Ely

John Hart Ely, Constitutional law giant, and for nine years an important part of the law school's intellectual community, died this weekend. The New York Times has a full obituary, which recites his honors and achievements, but it fails to capture the human side of the man I knew.

When he settled here permanently after a one-year visit that was a sort of mutual love-fest, he took up the corner office four doors away from me—so I saw him often. From the start, John made it clear that he had not come to Florida to scuba dive and retire, but to carry on his distinguished career in a congenial setting. And he did. In addition to his writing and teaching, he played an active part in faculty seminars, and often chaired our speaker series.

It took me a while to learn that interpersonally he was somewhat shy; what seemed at first to be gruffness was a form of uncertainty about people, although not about ideas. He often seemed least uncomfortable with people younger than him, and dispensed advice when pushed, but always self-deprecatingly.

His death was not sudden, but the end of months of fighting a tenacious and visibly losing fight against cancer. Until nearly the end, he came into the office as often as he could manage, and remained unfailingly, painfully, brave in the face of disaster.

He was an evangelical vegetarian, and a big fan of music, especially jazz, and of all things underwater. But mostly, he was a beacon of decency and clear thinking. I'll miss him. We all will.

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Posted in U.Miami | 1 Comment

They Have Great Conversations In the DeLong Household

I have two great children who I'm very proud of, and who say all sorts of interesting things. But—maybe because my oldest is only ten? or more likely due to genetics—our conversations are never quite like the entertaining discourse in the DeLong household. Especially this weekend, when every other word I said seemed to be “homework”.

Posted in Completely Different | Leave a comment