The US Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002 in the wake of several egregious corporate accounting scandals. It added (among other sections) 18 U.S. Code § 1519:
Whoever knowingly alters, destroys, mutilates, conceals, covers up, falsifies, or makes a false entry in any record, document, or tangible object with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence the investigation or proper administration of any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States or any case filed under title 11, or in relation to or contemplation of any such matter or case, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.How broadly should that sentence be interpreted? Is it only about records, or does any obstruction of justice by concealing a tangible object count?
A recent case, Yates v. United States, hinged on whether throwing illegally-caught fish back into the sea constituted concealing tangible objects under 18 USC § 1519. Last week the Supreme Court said no, in a 5-4 decision that didn't split along the usual partisan lines.
Given the level of intelligence not exhibited by the US legislature, parsing the laws they write is not my idea of a good time—although I can see how others are drawn to that line of work.
From the oral argument, it looks like the court wanted to limit the statute because it potentially imposed penalties out of proportion to crimes like the one at hand:
The most entertaining reading in Yates is in the dissent by Justice Kagan, who thinks fish are tangible objects:
A fish is, of course, a discrete thing that possesses physical form. See generally Dr. Seuss, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish (1960).Today is Dr. Seuss's 111th birthday. Cantor's diagonal argument is a landmark math proof showing that there are more real numbers than integers even though there are infinitely many of either. But a similar argument can be used to count other things as well, e.g.—
How large is the set of all possible books that could be written using the English alphabet? If we define book as a sequence of letters, spaces, and punctuation characters, and if we require each book to be of finite length, then there are "only" ℵ0 possible books (i.e., as many books as there are integers). That follows from the fact that the books could be listed in sequence (roughly: sorted by length and by alphabetical order).
But if we drop the restriction that each book must be of finite length, the set of all possible books is a larger order of infinity: as many books as there are real numbers. Admittedly, we'd no longer be talking about books as we know them, as no book goes on forever (arguably a good thing).
A mathematician's Tao Te Ching could start with the line
There are only ℵ0 taos that can be spoken about.
fire in the sky.
smoke on the water.
snow on the mountains.The NY Times just announced a redesign of their Sunday magazine, including "the creation of an entire suite of typefaces". In case yesterday's posting wasn't sufficient evidence that I am hopelessly preoccupied with details, and in case a posting from last year didn't evince an alarming obsession with section signs, I note that the character shown to the right (from one of the magazine's new typefaces) is, to my eye, one of the strangest section signs I've ever seen.
That is all. I've made more picture frames than any other woodworking project. They don't require much material, so if I have just a small piece of some type of wood on hand there's a good chance it will become a picture frame. Building frames has had the side effect of impelling me to inspect every frame I encounter. I pause DVDs to look at frames that appear on screen.
While at a friend's house for dinner last month I saw a painting on the wall that didn't look to be level. I had an immediate urge to rotate it but I didn't, partly as an exercise in resisting urges and partly because maybe my friend liked it just the way it was. Later that evening, looking at the frame from across the room, I saw that it was next to a corner that wasn't square to the ceiling.
The pic here is a still from a TV show. It cuts to a shot of three stacks of $100 bills. I sometimes pause to inspect details in scenes like that too, but no I don't have a hobby of printing banknotes.
after sundown this evening.
Water fell out of the sky this morning.