Mail from Walter Soehnge II

Walter Soehnge read yesterday's post and sent me some comments, which I'll reproduce unedited, save for HTMLizing.

I read it and thought it well said.

FYI, my name was an answer to a trivia question on NPR's "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me!" My cousin, in Austin heard it and told me about it. I do not know if the program is national or local. The only other thing is that GE Financial has requested that the 'Providence Journal' print retraction of the Bob Kerr article. The last I heard, they were not so inclined.

I restate that J C Penny MasterCard (owned by GE Financial) told me via Jim Ulseth that no personal or financial information was given to any branch of the Federal Government. However, several people prior to my speaking to him did say that. We only had voices on the phone. Which voice does one believe when you're thinking "WHAT"!?!?

I still hold that JCPMC is constrained under some part of The Banking Secrecy Act, 31 U.S.C. 5312 (a) (2) (A) through (X) to do what they did. And, until I can prove to myself or until some one can prove to me they didn't, I will continue to believe it. There is no more information stating the act doesn't constrain JCPMC and others than there is stating it does. On that point, we will have to disagree as it seems you hold a dissimilar opinion. That's okay though. The debate was what I wanted to happen. In the beginning of this issue (may be non-issue), I had three goals. The first is stated in the article I am responding to. Second, motive others to stand up and be counted, not to go around mumbling and grumbling and whining when something is believed wrong. Third, is to shout that 'we the people' have been sluggish long enough. We must assume a much more vigorous role in the governance of our country; use pen and paper, the telephone, work in the elections and use the ballot box. Two and three are intertwined.

I have corrections to my document; one a typo, two and others are a misheard name while the third was a bonehead. First, (see 03/08 or 03/09/06 and 03/10/06 p2) the name is Jim Ulseth. Then, (see 03/10/06 Jim Allsup (a well spoken professional)... the second bullet should end with the words seven people. The bonehead was thinking that Fitzgerald had contacted a spokesman for JCPMC and that Ulseth (Allsup) was he. I thank you for bringing that to my attention.

I've made the indicated changes in yesterday's post. Comments:
  • I think it's clear that Walter is an extremely decent fellow.

  • He's received contradictory information from JCPenney about whether his transaction was reported to the Feds or not. It seems that the more definitive source, Ulseth, says that it wasn't.

  • Hence, even more doubtful is that what happened is related to a terrorism investigation under the Patriot act.

  • All of the MSM coverage, and most of the coverage on the web assumes a certainty on these points that just isn't warranted.

But irrespective of what happened in this particular case, I think it's clear that there is a privacy problem with financial information. I've previously pointed out this article originally from the Wall Street Journal, beginning:
The government's use of the Patriot Act to force financial institutions to report suspicious transactions has resulted in an avalanche of unwanted paper and computer tapes that officials who collect the data say is undermining efforts to detect money flowing to terrorists.

… so even the Feds say that the amount of data they're getting on unusual but innocuous transactions is hindering rather than helping terrorism investigations. I think both Walter and I, with all reasonable people, agree that this is idiotic and offensive.

URLs du Jour


Haven't done one of these lately …

  • I argued yesterday against Alan Greenspan's (hedged) claim that a growing wage gap between high- and low-skilled workers might (among other things) fuel demand for "misguided economic policies". Serendipitously, Bryan Caplan today reports on a paper that tends to support my end of that disagreement.
    Low-skilled workers are more opposed to immigration because they are less economically literate, not because they selfishly calculate that immigration is especially bad for their pocketbooks

    I.e., inequality by itself doesn't lead to misguided economic policies. In your face, Al! In! Your! Face!

  • In another matter discussed here a couple days back, John Fund reports that Yale has suspended Alexis Surovov, who sent abusive, anonymous e-mail to two alumni organizing the protest against the admission of a former Taliban official. Meanwhile, Anne Morse announces that she's significantly culled the list of schools to which her son will be applying. It's gone from "any school" to "any school but Yale."

  • I would guess that a significant fraction of Pun Salad readers would want to read an article containing:
    The bottom line: This change would be a tax on male nerd sex.
    And that article would be here.

  • And, via GeekPress, a must-read story on what to do when your eyeball falls out. In case you don't want to read the whole article, the bottom-line answer is:
    Get it put back in, and soon.
    Pun Salad is happy to provide that advice to anyone who might be inclined to do otherwise. Pun Salad: keeping an eye out … for you!

Sleepy Hollow

[Amazon Link] [3.5 stars] [IMDb Link]

We'd missed this 1999 movie back when it came out, and never managed to rent it before. But I suspect Mrs. Salad kind of has a Thing for Johnny Depp, because when she was browsing around the video store a few months back, she noticed his brooding visage staring from the wall, and asked me to put this movie in the Blockbuster queue.

So I did, we got it, and she wound up sleeping through the last hour.

I liked it a bit more than that. Johnny Depp plays Ichabod Crane as kind of a proto-geek, and the script otherwise takes considerable liberties with the Washingon Irving yarn, turning it into a supernatural detective story. IMDB reports that 18 people are decapitated in the movie, so be forewarned. Tim Burton directs, which just about always means that the movie is full of amusing sights and scenes. And, for some reason, he always attracts some great actors. Besides Johnny, there's Christina Ricci, Christopher Walken, Christopher Lee, Michael Gambon. And … who is that guy? … oh, yeah, the Emperor from Star Wars.

Last Modified 2022-10-15 8:57 PM EDT