08 May 2009

Where What Is?

Just a couple of quick thoughts today, then (hopefully later today, if no more emergencies arise) that analysis of the civil procedure opinion I promised earlier this week and how it implies that the Google Book Search settlement is dead in the water.

The chum is in the water for potential successors to Justice Souter. I'm not all that thrilled with the publicly mooted candidates thus far, because I think they're largely missing the point: The Court has some severe holes in its base of expertise that, in a period of increasingly rapid contextual change, have already resulted in some bad decisions. In no particular order:

  • No sitting Justice, nor indeed any of the leading contenders, has a satisfactory background in mathematics or the basic sciences. I'm not demanding a cutting-edge researcher — just someone with at least a minor in physics, chemistry, or biology, and math beyond first-year calculus.
  • None of the mooted candidates are well known for the thoughtfulness of their writings (opinions or otherwise) on civil procedure.
  • Only one of the mooted candidates has much background at all in intellectual property... and hers is much, much less than satisfactory.
  • None of the mooted candidates has any adult life experience not shaped by a career in law. Even a couple of years in the Peace Corps would be better than what we're being thrown! Of course, part of that is the Harvard/Yale effect (on which I'll rant, at length, another time), combined with the silliness of post-law-school hiring practices.

I am not encouraged. I didn't really expect to be, but it's frustrating to see my expectations met.

Lane, 08 May 2009 (reduced size)   Then there's the ongoing shell game involving who is "entitled" to what financial capital. I really wish that commentators on the banking mess, and on the budget, and on just about everything else related to the economy, would get beyond basic microeconomics and consider — just for a moment — basic macroeconomics. I don't expect that to happen any time soon, though. Even if it does, the only macroeconomics most of the maroons trusted by the media moguls as "commentators" understand is the increasingly discredited neo-Chicago school... which has, as its foundational assumption, a zero-arbitrage economy. (Look at the math; it's not that hard to see.)