Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Privacy for Dummies

The case is captioned "People v. Kent," but a good alternative caption would be "Privacy for Dummies."

James D. Kent, then a Professor of Public Administration at an college in Dutchess County, New York [the judicial panel did not specifically name the college, but those of us who can put two and two together can easily figure out that it is Marist College], was convicted on various child pornography charges. The Appellate Division upheld his conviction.

Reading the facts of the case, Kent stored approximately 30,000 images of naked or nearly-naked young girls, age range approximately 8 - 9 years, in orderly folders and subfolders on the hard drive of the office computer. He complained to the College's info tech people when the computer malfunctioned, the college info techie found the stored images on the hard drive, and the matter was reported to the police.

In addition to the issues regarding the probative value of the forensic methods used by the police, Kent also claimed on appeal that his privacy rights were violated.

The Appellate Division wasn't caving in to such whining. The computer was Marist College's, not Kent's. He had no expectation of privacy on his employer's computer. And Kent seems to have forgotten that it was he who invited Marist College to take a look at his office computer.

The porno pervert is in the can until at least next August [New York State Inmate ID Number 09R3078]. I don't know which is more appalling, the guy's fascination with prepubescent females or his abject stupidity.

As for Marist College, it now has a very effective (if unofficial) policy against using College computers for pornographic purposes. The old maxim "Punish one, educate a thousand" (yes, I know that its origin is Mao) can ring very true. And in this case, it wasn't even Marist College that got stuck with administering the punishment!

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Sunday, October 17, 2010


A few months ago, when I visited my local Citibank office to tender a payment on our mortgage, I was barraged by invitations from bank officers and employees to move my regular bank accounts to Citibank.

But I wasn't buying into it. I told them that my business with Citibank consists only of our residential mortgage, and a credit card, and that such was quite appropriate for our needs at this time.

They all touted the convenience of doing all of my banking under one roof. But if all my accounts are with the same banking institution, and if my bank is also my creditor, then I would run the risk of financial paralysis if I ever were to fall out of Citibank's good graces. One woman told me that I was envisioning something that was quite far fetched. But I, being about 20 years her senior, pulled rank and informed her that once upon a time, as a result of a misunderstanding on the part of my then bank, I had to spend lots of time and effort in successfully contesting a number of bounced check fees.

She then gave me the line about how Citibank is a full service bank. So I poignantly asked her why Americans should trust the banking industry. I then hastened to remind her that Citibank did not get to be a key recipient of the government bailout funds (from my tax money) because it was run in a prudent manner. She finally got off my case, brought my cash payment to the teller, and got me my receipt.

Now, it seems, what little confidence I had in the financial industry's good faith has been quite overestimated. The banks have been in such a mortgage foreclosure mania that they have now effectively admitted to hiring people to apply live pen signatures to moretgage foreclosure documents without knowing the particulars. And now, all of the state Attorneys General are on board the investigation.

I, for one, will not take the AGs all too seriously unless and until they begin some meaningful criminal prosecutions against the officers and directors in the banking industry who authorized the robo-signing.

Having strived, along with my wife, to remain current in the payment of our debts, I have extremely limited sympathy towards the residential homeowners who now face mortgage foreclosure. My wife and I have foregone or postponed many desired activities and acquisitions because the monies we would have expended towards them were necessary for the timely payment of our debts. We would have preferred to have more trips out of town (and out of country), home remodeling, jewelry, and the like, however, our creditors -- and our good word -- have been given and continue to be given priority.

Accordingly, those in mortgage foreclosure predicament mode only have my sympathies if their predicament came upon them through unforeseen circumstances, despite the exercise of reasonable prudence in their financial affairs.

But our real property system has been assailed. There are serious questions regarding the integrity of real property ownership in America. When the mortgage holders can evict people from their homes without following all of the due process requirements, and upon false statements, there now are serious questions regarding the integrity of real property ownership in America. This is a threat to our freedom.

And so, notwithstanding whether those who failed to pay their mortgages are or are not evicted from their homes, there needs to be some definitive, visible and meaningful consequences visited upon the individuals who occupy the upper levels of the mortgage industry hierarchies.

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Monday, October 11, 2010

Nanny Says You May Vote

I'm busy, fatigued, and burnt out, so this will be a short post.

Seems that the New York State Board of Elections has not yet mailed out all the absentee ballots to the voters, including and especially the military servicepeople who are getting their toochases shot at to defend us and our freedom. So now all the politicians are castigating the BOE (as they, and everyone else, rightly well should).

The BOE already got a waiver from the Department of Justice until 1 October, but they still haven't complied with the law. Apparently, the BOE has refused help from other individuals and agencies as they have fallen behind in the matter.

I share everyone's indignation! What I find ironic, however, is NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg's grandstanding on the issue. In America, the ballot is the quintessential exemplar of autonomy and free choice. Since when is Bloomie a proponent of free choice? He wants to prohibit the use of food stamps to buy sodas, he has pushed through legislation to cut out the unhealthy transfats in restaurants, and he has already curtailed people's right to smoke. And I won't even begin to discuss the Second Amendment issues as they affect New Yorkers.

Now understand that I personally wish to see the fatsos (including and especially my dear wife) take better care of their health and stop bulking up on the fattening foods. And I am in total agreement that smoking is a burning health hazard (pun intentional).

But evil as cancer and obesity may be, Bloomie's attitude that the people of New York (and America -- he has the White House on his radar) need a nanny state to make their personal choices for them is even more pernicious.

I therefore find it most ironic that Mike Bloomberg is sticking up for New Yorkers' free choice when he himself has done so much to remove our free choice options.

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