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I Have Questions

January 11, 2021

Our columnist makes a case for the captcha class action no one saw coming, generic charities and reining in a bar examination task force.

Milt Policzer

By Milt Policzer

Courthouse News columnist; racehorse owner and breeder; one of those guys who always got picked last.

Websites lately have been asking me whether I’m a robot. I don’t mind telling them that I am not, but isn’t that what a devious robot would say?

And why do I have to prove my humanity to a nonhuman? Isn’t it ironic (or weird) that a robot wants me to prove I’m not a robot? Is this some sort of revenge for Turing tests?

Why can’t I ask the website if it’s a robot?

Shouldn’t there be a class action on behalf of robot internet users who’ve been denied access to websites?

Charitable choice. Is it important to rank things? Why should we? Does it matter who was the best placer of balls through nets or hitters of balls with sticks? How do you decide those things anyway?

I do realize that these questions seem vital to a lot of people but I don’t see the point. Someone is very good at something or not. I don’t care about incremental differences.

I bring this up because I had a birthday last week and I didn’t particularly want any presents. I wasn’t going to turn down presents, but I didn’t need any. I have more than enough stuff.

I also thought, perhaps mistakenly, that people close to me also had more than enough stuff. So what I did this past holiday season was give my relatives charitable gift certificates — i.e. certificates for X amount of dollars to be donated to charities of their choice. (If you’re interested, one site that provides those is GlobalGiving.)

This was not an entirely selfless act because I couldn’t rank charities for worthiness. Guilty liberal that I am, I wanted to donate to something, but I was confounded by all the choices, all the worthiness. This is worse than sports — charities don’t tally points. How is a person supposed to decide?

So, I thought, I’ll give the money away and let other people make the decisions. It was the perfect present for myself.

This was a mistake. No one thanked me and, as far as I can tell, no one has picked a charity yet and it’s been a couple of weeks. Either they can’t decide or they’ve been dumbfounded by my selfishness.

Yes, I know you cynics out there are thinking my family members were mad about not getting gift for themselves, but I don’t think that’s true. I’ve given them daunting responsibility and it’s paralyzed them. They are deer in the headlights of countless global needs.

What we need is a giant generic charity that funds everything. You know, something like a government that actually uses tax money for good things.

Imagine the stress relief.

More studying. Be honest: You could come up with a fair bar examination if you had to. How long could it possibly take to write questions for aspiring lawyers?

I could do it in a couple of days — maybe a week if I wanted to make the questions technical and obscure.

I bring this up in light of yet another new example of something I’ve ranted about on and off for many years: the futility of studies.

This time it’s “preliminary recommendations” issued recently by a task force assigned to make recommendations for bar exams. The group spent three years on this and then did what almost all such groups do: recommend more years of work.

Check out the “next steps” section at the end of the report overview. It starts out by saying that the development of a new exam “will take up to four to five years.” This is followed by a list of all sorts of things that need to be done.

So what were they doing the past three years? My guess is that there were some nice lunches and maybe drinks later on.

Still, there is hope because we can all contribute suggestions via a “contact us” form. I think you should offer exam questions. These people need all the help they can get.

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