Saturday, February 23, 2008

Here's an interesting, and typical, anti- trial lawyer rant. Now, Greenspun is one of the smartest people you will find anywhere; he also has a long track record of doing public-spirited stuff. But as soon as he starts talking about politics all his intellect turns to mush, and he becomes indistinguishable from some drunk arguing in a bar:

A couple of guys in Florida went out for a night training flight in 1999 in a Cessna 150, produced between 1958 and 1977, which is probably the very cheapest training airplane available (this one had 12,878 hours total time; the NTSB did not report the number of hours since the engine was overhauled). Flight schools in Florida are renowned for skimping on maintenance. An exhaust valve stuck open, taking the rest of the engine with it. They crashed on a road and were injured. A trial lawyer managed to convince a jury that the design of the carburetor was defective, leading to overly rich fuel/air mixture, and causing valves to stick. Precision argued that this carburetor design dated from the 1930s and was installed in tens of thousands of airplanes, many of which were flying at flight schools all day every day. The jury sided with the badly injured pilots and awarded $38 million against Precision, a 43-employee company (story).

He goes on to admit being a "layperson," but blames the whole thing on the "trial lawyers" anyway. That a judge and jury were involved and actually made the decision that Greenspun finds so reprehensible doesn't matter; neither does the fact that the other side had their own lawyers defending them. Nope, it was the greedy, conniving, all-powerful trial lawyers. To finish off his "it's all the trial lawyers' fault" argument, he links to a page written by ... yep, an aircraft manufacturer's organization.

It seems to me that when someone of Greenspun's abilities chooses to "argue" in this fashion, they are displaying an essential contempt for politics. If this were a debate about, say, the potential role of computers in improving education in the inner cities, there is no way that Greenspun would argue this flaccidly. But it's politics, so it's perfectly OK to turn off your intellect and let your id take over. Politics deserves the best of us, but we give it our worst, and I don't know why that is.


Here's some more Greenspun-inspired typing. How could a fish like this escape the net of men? Either there's more to that fish than that description lets on, or us men is dumb. I know from personal experience and self observation that when someone is single past a certain age there's generally a good reason for it. Besides being attractive, educated, 37, and single, another obvious warning sign is her choice of advertizing venues. Greenspun is a wealthy geek, and so, I would imagine, are the vast majority of people who read his blog. My guess is "Clarissa" isn't as unmercenary as she claims in her ad. There are, after all, far more traditional places where you can put yourself out there. But if you're looking for a certain kind of man, Greenspun's (wealthy ex-entrepreneur who indulges in expensive pasttimes like photography and aviation) audience is a damn good place to troll.