I Wonder

Things I’ve wondered about this week:

Item: Canada the other day joined a group of about eight other countries that allow other sex choices on passports beside male and female. Canada now allows you to choose option X, which apparently means unspecified.

Me: Why? I have no problem with people being other than male or female. I can think of lots of people that make we wonder whether they’re human at all. But why do we need to specify a sex on a passport?

For most of us, there are identifiers like fingerprints and faces. You don’t need to check genitals to figure out who we are. Private parts aren’t really all that distinctive anyway. (At least I don’t think so. Maybe I haven’t looked at enough of them.)

Are there countries that don’t let you in if you’re one sex or the other? Do you get prizes if you’re the right sex?

The only sex question that makes sense to me requires a yes or no answer.

Item: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in United States of America v. Edwards reversed a witness-tampering conviction because the trial judge decided to leave the word “corruptly” out of a jury instruction.

This is from the ruling: “Edwards could be convicted only if she ‘corruptly’ attempted to persuade another person to hinder, delay, or prevent communication of information to federal criminal investigators.”

Me: So can you benignly interfere with investigators? Maybe if you mean well …

Item: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled in favor of a guy who was described as “a class member and professional objector to hollow class-action settlements.”

Me: You can make a living objecting to class action settlements? This is a profession?

Where can you go to school for that?

Same item as above: That Seventh Circuit case, by the way, began after an Australian teenager posted a picture on Facebook of a Subway sandwich that was less than a foot long.

Me: Since this was a teenager on the internet, isn’t it likely he meant something obscene? Or is a sandwich just a sandwich?

Are there class action lawyers scouring Facebook for lawsuit ideas?

Facebook keeps popping up in all sorts of litigation, both criminal and civil. Should Facebook warn users that they may end up in court?

Item: A Los Angeles law firm last week sued a competing Los Angeles law firm for “upvoting” negative Yelp reviews of the plaintiff.

“Defendant went to Bergener’s main Yelp profile and deliberately and repeatedly – using multiple profiles amongst themselves – upvoted each and every one of the one-star reviews, and only the one-star reviews, on the main Yelp profile.”

Upvoting means that you’ve marked a review as particularly useful or interesting and thus the review gets more attention.

Me: Does anyone really pick lawyers based on Yelp reviews? Should anyone pick lawyers based on Yelp reviews? How the heck did the McDonald’s on the corner get four stars? Should anyone rely on people who give four stars to McDonald’s?

I have to admit there’s a certain genius on display here. You can defame a competitor without defaming a competitor! Just give a thumbs up – or a bunch of thumbs up – to the trolls and the clients who can’t understand why they lost.

I also have to wonder if a lawsuit was the best move for the plaintiff in this case. It would have been a lot easier to upvote their good reviews and, of course, the defendant’s bad reviews.

Soon the internet will become meaningless.

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