Barely Legally

Confessions of a Moot Court Bailiff

Assorted Links

NPR has a fun story about the foreign intelligence community doing something less controversial than “harvest every packet on the internet”: asking regular folks what they think. That’s right, spies making decisions by relying (in part) on the wisdom of the crowd. The idea is silly, right? People are idiots, right? Well…

The wisdom of crowds is a concept first discovered by the British statistician Francis Galton in 1906. Galton was at a fair where about 800 people had tried to guess the weight of a dead ox in a competition. After the prize was awarded, Galton collected all the guesses so he could figure out how far off the mark the average guess was.

It turned out that most of the guesses were really bad — way too high or way too low. But when Galton averaged them together, he was shocked:

The dead ox weighed 1,198 pounds. The crowd’s average: 1,197.

Also, Wired has a piece on what it calls the Sharing Economy. The behavior in this articles strikes me as the kind of thing we probably wouldn’t need to do if real wages had, like, increased since we land on the moon. People renting out their power tools or paying to eat dinner with you seems like the sort of thing North Koreans do because they spent their paycheck on Choco Pies. From the story:

“We are hopping into strangers’ cars (Lyft, Sidecar, Uber), welcoming them into our spare rooms (Airbnb), dropping our dogs off at their houses (DogVacay, Rover), and eating food in their dining rooms (Feastly). We are letting them rent our cars (RelayRides, Getaround), our boats (Boatbound), our houses (HomeAway), and our power tools (Zilok). We are entrusting complete strangers with our most valuable possessions, our personal experiences—and our very lives. In the process, we are entering a new era of Internet-enabled intimacy.”

Also, a college sports team makes more money each year than any NHL team and almost all NBA team. So players at some colleges want to unionize. Or the NHL can start calling its employees “Student-Athletes” next time there’s a lockout:

“Revenues derived from college athletics is greater than the aggregate revenues of the NBA and the NHL,” said Marc Edelman, an associate professor at City University of New York who specializes in sports and antitrust law. He also noted that Alabama’s athletic revenues last year, which totaled $143 million, exceeded those of all 30 NHL teams and 25 of the 30 NBA teams.

Oh, and the Governor of my state said a thing when a reporter asked if he’d interfered with an anti-corruption investigation he called for (by disbanding the commission before it finished the investigation), and whether that could be unlawful:

“It’s not a legal question. The Moreland Commission was my commission,” Mr. Cuomo explained. “It’s my commission. My subpoena power, my Moreland Commission. I can appoint it, I can disband it. I appoint you, I can un-appoint you tomorrow. So, interference? It’s my commission. I can’t ‘interfere’ with it, because it is mine. It is controlled by me.”

Next breath:

“There was something like 25 people on the commission or something. I appoint part of them, the attorney general appointed part of them.”

Exactly. Your commission.