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+ - Slashdot creates beta site users express theirs dislike-> 4

Submitted by who_stole_my_kidneys
who_stole_my_kidneys (1956012) writes "Slashdot started redirecting users in February to its newly revamped webpage and received a huge backlash from users. The majority of comments dislike the new site while some do offer solutions to make it better. The question is will Slashdot force the unwanted change on its users that clearly do not want change?"
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+ - SCOTUS to weigh smartphone searches by police->

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Friday to decide whether police can search an arrested criminal suspect's cell phone without a warrant in two cases that showcase how the courts are wrestling to keep up with rapid technological advances.

Taking up cases from California and Massachusetts arising from criminal prosecutions that used evidence obtained without a warrant, the high court will wade into how to apply older court precedent, which allows police to search items carried by a defendant at the time of arrest, to cell phones."

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Comment: Re:Hold on there... (Score 4, Informative) 187

by Astro Dr Dave (#45970209) Attached to: FISA Judges Oppose Intelligence Reform Proposals Aimed At Court
The judges know that a true adversarial process is not on the table - and never will be. They aren't calling for real reform. Mostly they are worried about their workload. This is all spelled out in the actual document which you can get here They don't want an advocate or adversarial process, because it wouldn't change anything.

Here is the full quote: "The participation of a privacy advocate is unnecessary and could prove counterproductive in the vast majority of FISA matters, which involve the application of a probable cause or other factual standard to case-specific facts and typically implicate the privacy interests of few persons other than the specific target. Given the nature of FISA proceedings, the participation of an advocate would neither create a truly adversarial process nor constructively assist the Court in assessing the facts, as the advocate would be unable to communicate with the target or conduct an independent investigation. Advocate involvement in run-of-the-mill FISA matters would substantially hamper the work of the Courts without providing any commensurate benefit in terms of privacy protection or otherwise; indeed, such pervasive participation could actually undermine the Courts' ability to receive complete and accurate information on the matters before them."

Of course, we already know the courts are not getting complete and accurate information, and they rubber-stamp orders anyway.

Comment: Re:It's rigged (Score 4, Insightful) 187

by Astro Dr Dave (#45969909) Attached to: FISA Judges Oppose Intelligence Reform Proposals Aimed At Court

Fire them and throw them into jail.

A federal judge will never go to prison for rendering judgments favorable to the administration.

Soap box, ballot box, jury box... all have been subverted or suppressed to the point of failure. Massive protests? We had some a couple years ago, they were shut down by riot police. Elections are subverted by the money and connections necessary to get your name on a ballot. The jury box is of little utility. The role of a jury today is lessened from what it once was. The DoJ is more interested in prosecuting whistle-blowers while declining to prosecute bankers or even investigate documented illegal acts within the Executive branch, past and present. Hell, Holder even thinks he can justify extra-judicial killings of Americans.

"America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards." -- Claire Wolfe

The "awkward stage" ends when the populace is more concerned with civil rights than American Idol. I don't see that happening yet. It might be possible to reign in some abusive practices without violence, but the more time passes the more difficult that will be.

Comment: It's rigged (Score 5, Insightful) 187

by Astro Dr Dave (#45969493) Attached to: FISA Judges Oppose Intelligence Reform Proposals Aimed At Court
If they're against an adversarial process, that suggests that the FISA court is not a neutral party. While I agree that it is inadequate, a third-party advocate for civil liberties would be better than the nothing that we have at the moment.

I'm suspicious of an advocate chosen by the court. Fox guarding the henhouse?

Then again, I'm also suspicious of secret court proceedings.

+ - NSA Can Bridge Air-Gapped Systems-> 2

Submitted by jddeluxe
jddeluxe (965655) writes "An article just published in the New York Times outlines how the NSA has compromised systems not connected to the Internet.
The practice, ongoing from 2008, " relies on a covert channel of radio waves that can be transmitted from tiny circuit boards and USB cards inserted surreptitiously into the computers. In some cases, they are sent to a briefcase-size relay station that intelligence agencies can set up miles away from the target."
Break out the tin foil hats..."

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Comment: Re:Almost no one is killed by "assault weapons" (Score 1) 1862

by Astro Dr Dave (#42595491) Attached to: 3D Printable Ammo Clip Skirts New Proposed Gun Laws
Nice attempt to spin the story, but nothing indicates that it jammed because of his "haste". He did manage to change magazines. Those magazines tend to cause jams because of the forces involved with the long spring. Lives were spared because he used an extended magazine.

Reloading with a magazine takes almost no time... well under a second If you are competent. At Columbine, Sandy Hook and VA tech the shooters reloaded many times, and nobody stopped them.

Comment: Re:Almost no one is killed by "assault weapons" (Score 1) 1862

by Astro Dr Dave (#42592389) Attached to: 3D Printable Ammo Clip Skirts New Proposed Gun Laws
Incorrect; in Tucson, the gun jammed because he was using an unreliable extended magazine.

I'm not aware of any mass shooting incidents where reloading provided sufficient opportunity to physically stop the shooter.

From an LA Times article:

Loughner fired all 31 bullets in the magazine and was reloading when a woman in the crowd, already wounded, attempted to grab the gun from him. He finally changed the magazine and tried to fire, but the gun jammed. Meanwhile, two men from the crowd grabbed him and subdued him, officials said.

Had Loughner been successful in firing the second magazine, "there would have been a huge, greater catastrophe," Sheriff Dupnik said. The sheriff also said that the toll had climbed to 20, six dead and 14 injured, including the congresswoman.

Comment: Re:Government Must Fear Pissing Off Its Citizens (Score 1) 1388

by Astro Dr Dave (#42543321) Attached to: Smart Guns To Stop Mass Killings
The protections afforded by the Bill of Rights are not open to re-interpretation by Congress or any other ballot box, except for a 2/3 majority (of either both houses of Congress, or the state legislatures) followed by ratification by 3/4 of the states. That has not occurred, and it will not in the forseeable future.

And if you think defense against tyranny is not a recognized purpose of the 2nd amendment, you should go and read Scalia's DC v Heller opinion again; not just the syllabus.

Comment: Re:Nothing related to guns can be considered "smar (Score 1) 1388

by Astro Dr Dave (#42543197) Attached to: Smart Guns To Stop Mass Killings
Obligatory xkcd

The reason some studies find that not owning a gun makes you safer is because approximately 3/4 of violent crime in the US is perpetrated by people with multiple felony convictions, upon other violent people with multiple felony convictions. Statistically speaking, the scenarioes you describe are mostly insignificant.

Suicides are modestly significant, but pills and alcohol work just fine for that, too.

Comment: Re:This device empowers criminals. (Score 1) 575

by Astro Dr Dave (#38758114) Attached to: NYPD Developing Portable Body Scanner For Detecting Guns
I see no reason for your claim of illegitimacy. Virtually every civilized society recognizes violent force used in self-defense as legitimate. Firearms are essentially the "power tools" of weaponry, which makes them particularly useful because they level the field between people of disparate size and strength -- and that makes them the most effective means of self defense. Rural or urban locale is irrelevant; arguably defensive tools are more necessary in urban areas where virtually everyone is a stranger.

If firearms were not legitimate tools of self-defense, then police would not carry guns.

Think on this: what if that robber 10 years ago had wanted more than your cash and cell phone? What could you have done? Your experience is a perfect example of the futility of gun control laws. Canada has very strict regulation of handguns... yet the robber had one anyway, and you were at his mercy.

As for the violence rates in America, they are comparable to Canada or Europe if you exclude gang and drug-infested inner-city areas. Canada and Europe don't have the same demographic diversity. The violence problem in America has nothing to do with the availability of guns (violence rates are worst in the areas where guns are most heavily regulated), it is primarily socioeconomic and cultural.

Comment: Re:Well that's funny, cos my country just (Score 2) 398

by Astro Dr Dave (#38607620) Attached to: Vint Cerf On Human Rights: Internet Access Isn't On the List
The founders' opinions are important because they inform us as to the meaning of the Constitution. And the Constitution is important because it defines the federal government. It has an amendment process that has been used 27 times, so it has been re-written to some degree.

For the most part, the Constitution is not ambiguous. For example, the famous controversies in interpretation of the 2nd amendment and the privileges or immunities clause of the 14th amendment arose because certain people did not like the plain meaning of the text. The meanings were clear to the people who wrote and passed those sections. The intent can be unambiguously determined by examining the debates surrounding their passage. The 2nd amendment was intended to protect an individual right to own and carry military-grade weapons in public. The privileges or immunities clause was supposed to prevent states from violating rights enshrined in the Constitution. Both clauses have been twisted to entirely different and illogical meanings by judges who didn't like the original intent.

That is why the original meaning is important. The purpose of the document lies in semantics. If you don't respect the original intent, then you're changing the semantics and you might as well re-write the document. That's why there is an amendment process.

The Constitution is not perfect, but it is a very well thought-out document. There were several novel and ingenious aspects to the government it created. One particularly good idea was to enumerate all activities permitted to the government, rather than attempt to enumerate prohibitions. This was intended to preserve liberty by limiting the role of government. Unfortunately the narrow scope of enumerated powers has failed to limit the role of the federal government, but the failure was not necessarily in the Constitution itself; the boundaries have simply been ignored.

That is why some Americans seem to worship the Constitution. The government has steadily usurped powers that it was not supposed to have, and whittled away at all manner of guaranteed individual rights. If we did things the "right" way by strictly following the Constitution, American society would be very different and some people might prefer that. (There would also be drawbacks. I tend to like this idea, but some amendments would be necessary.)

Consider this: in the founders' time, there were no income taxes or professional police departments. The federal government was originally oriented toward matters of foreign policy, and revenue was provided by tariffs. The founders probably would have considered modern policing to be similar to the standing armies that they feared as instruments of oppression. And nobody would have thought the federal government could restrict the plants that people grow on their own land, the food they eat or sell locally, or the weapons they carry when traveling.

George Washington's cabinet had what, 4 members? Contrast that with modern times.

Comment: Re:Or perhaps... (Score 1) 327

by Astro Dr Dave (#37940056) Attached to: When Geeks Meet, Are They More Likely To Have Autistic Kids?
I can't help myself, I have to reply. My experience has been very similar. My son was diagnosed with autistic disorder at age 20 months Five months later and after 3 months of intensive ABA intervention with a talented teacher, he is just getting his first words. He has never once looked me in the eye and said "daddy." I'm still not sure if the two or three occasions when he's said "daddy" were intentional or not. I count myself lucky because he is affectionate. I know many autistic children do not like physical contact.

Receiving a diagnosis for your child is terrible, but it's not something an informed parent would avoid. As worried as I am now, I know that without the diagnosis my son's future would be much worse.

I can completely understand why parents might wish for a cancer diagnosis instead. With cancer, at least there is the potential for a cure, and ultimately there will be resolution. I can only describe the past year as a process of continual heartbreak, and I really don't see a light at the end of that tunnel.

Dealing with insurance has been a nightmare for us as well. For example, our medical group evaluated my son and recommended speech therapy; however they had no openings (only two therapists on staff for a major urban area, one working one day a week!), and the wait time was "indefinite." After filing a formal complaint we were given appointments with a therapist who was not experienced with young autistic children. The results were predictable.

Our insurance "problem" will soon resolve, as I will soon be unemployed and we won't be able to afford COBRA for long. Instead of relocating to stay with family, we plan to live off savings for as long as possible simply to keep our son in his ABA program.

As for the article: I'm a scientist, my wife is an engineer. But Baron-Cohen's theories of autism seem to be shot down every decade or so. There's a selection effect at work here, so I'm cautiously skeptical.

AC, I hope you get your "papa, up" soon. I'm still waiting for mine to smile at me and say "daddy" when I get home from work.

"Someone's been mean to you! Tell me who it is, so I can punch him tastefully." -- Ralph Bakshi's Mighty Mouse