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Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Musings on V-Tech and Privacy

Hard to imagine sadder news than what happened yesterday at Virginia Tech or to fathom what the families of the victims are going through. While early reports are nearly always inaccurate, and one should resist jumping to conclusions or second guessing, it still causes concern that in this day and age, when an emergency begins to make itself known, those in charge of our institutions don't instinctively do what's necessary to contain the problem and establish control. Instead, they worry about acting precipitously. And when a student is obviously troubled, as many seemed to know the student who perpetrated the crimes was, they "recommend counseling" or take some other non-confrontational approach instead of doing what administrators would have done automatically in a previous generation - contact the student's parents, and have the threat (to other students) removed. Instead, we worry about the troubled student's "right to privacy."

Now in the last few years, we have had a flurry of privacy laws enacted, most of which are for the greater good, since they safeguard our financial and credit information, and prevent identity theft. However, the main effect of these laws has been to spawn an avalanche of useless and wasteful privacy notices that we all throw away without reading. But that's another story.

The courts have invalidated some anachronistic laws, which probably needed repealing, based on some constitutional right to privacy. Other laws, which never should have been passed have been preserved based on the same right. This was a big issue during the Bork hearings. Personally, I agree with Judge Bork that I cannot find any right to privacy in the Constitution. (Maybe that's because my copy did not include a "penumbra").

Colleges and universities used to take seriously their responsibility to serve a function in loco parentis but no more. Parents are not even entitled to receive their kids grades, and can not count on the schools to warn them of their kids anti-social or depressed behavior that might indicate serious trouble on the way. Forget about binge drinking. I don't want to be a prude, but 18-22 year old's are not yet responsible adults, in most cases, and parents need to be told when something is wrong. That duty should trump any penumbra protected privacy right.


Naturally, before we even knew any facts concerning yesterday's shootings, there were rumblings concerning "America's gun culture" and the need for gun control. I have never owned a gun and would never want to, but I did find the Second Amendment in the constitution, even without a penumbra. So, I think those pushing this agenda have literally jumped the gun.

HOWEVER, I think it is a serious question as to whether the Second Amendment protection applies to non-citizens, including those here on green cards, work visa's and student visa's. I am troubled that the V-Tech gunmen, whose family was here on green cards, was able to obtain guns so easily.


Heard in the barber shop today: "My grandfather was asked after his 65th wedding anniversary to what he attributed the long and happy relationship. He responded, 'we decided early on that I would make all the major decisions and she would get her way on all the others. Luckily, no major decisions have come up.'"


On 4/11 , I sold 300 CNRD at 7.50 from the taxable account. One nice thing about trading stocks is that it is an anonymous transaction, so I will not embarrass the nice people when I thank them for selling me those shares - 200 on 10/4/04 for 1.95 and 100 on 11/4/04 for 1.85. As for the person who paid me 7.50, thanks, but you're probably satisfied too since the shares have traded as high as 9.90 yesterday! On4/16 I bought 200 shares of PBCTD in a secondary offering my full service broker got for me for the taxable account. The offering price was 20.

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