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Comment: Especially: The paint. (Score 1) 113

by Ungrounded Lightning (#47895641) Attached to: Liquid Sponges Extract Hydrogen From Water

The gas bag itself was flammable; it wouldn't have mattered what gas was in it, when it disintegrated

In particular: The paint. It contained a mix of powdered aluminum and iron oxide pigments, in sufficient concentration to maintain a redox reaction.

You and I know this mixture as "thermite". It's really hard to get the reaction started - but an electric discharge can do it. (They tried to tether it with an electrical storm approaching. That would make one hell of a spark when the charged envelope comes near to connecting to the grounded mast - which is about when the fire started.) Once it's started, the reaction is essentially impossible to extinguish. The aluminum steals the oxygen from the iron oxide. The heats of formation of the two oxides differ so much that the energy released leaves the resulting elemental iron as an orange-glowing liquid and the aluminum oxide incandescent white-hot.

Comment: That is a misreading of the Supremacy Clause: (Score 4, Informative) 211

You are bound by the treaties your country signed.

Yes: You, and the states, and their courts, are bound by them (to the extent they are clear or were implemented by federal enabling legislation).

In fact, they have more legal weight in the US than laws passed by your own Congress.

NO! They have EXACTLY the same weight as federal law. Both treaties and federal law are trumped by the Constitution, and both are also creatures of Congress, They can be modulated, and destroyed (at least in how they are effective within the country) by congressional action.

The idea that they're any stronger or more permanent than federal legislation comes from a (very common) misreading of the Supremacy Clause:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.

This says that the Constitution, Federal Law, and Treaties trump state law in state and federal courts. It says nothing about the relative power among the three.

The misreading is to interpret "all treaties made ... shall be the supreme law of the land ..." to mean that treaties effectively amend the constitution. This is wrong. You can see it by noticing the same kind of misreading also makes federal law equivalent to a constitutional amendment - which it clearly is not.

In fact the Supreme Court has spoken on the relation between the Constitution and treaties: In Reid v. Covert, 354 U.S. 1 (1957), the Supreme Court held stated that the U.S. Constitution supersedes international treaties ratified by the U.S. Senate.

Treaties are abrogated, at the federal level, all the time, and there are a number of mechanisms for doing so.

Comment: Re:In other words....Don't look like a drug traffi (Score 0) 461

by mythosaz (#47884947) Attached to: CBC Warns Canadians of "US Law Enforcement Money Extortion Program"

Perhaps the author of the CBC article shouldn't have taken so many shortcuts in writing his article and just posted a link to the Washington Post article.

It says pretty clearly that abundant energy drinks or air fresheners were a potential indicator of smuggling -- which they are. While a back seat full of empty Monster cans might also be a good indicator of non-stop driving by spring breakers to Daytona, it's also a sign that you might be looking at smugglers. Abundant air fresheners, while possibly a sign that the guy in the passenger seat is lactose intolerant, is also a fair indicator of hiding a smell that wasn't just running over a skunk back up the highway. [In much the same way that slurring words doesn't necessarily indicate a drunk, it's certainly a possible indicator.]

As best I can tell nowhere in the WP article is clothing mentioned. I have to assume the CBC author came to that idea all on his lonesome.

Comment: Re:In other words....Don't look like a drug traffi (Score 1) 461

by mythosaz (#47884863) Attached to: CBC Warns Canadians of "US Law Enforcement Money Extortion Program"

Like I said to another poster. This unlawful seizure has only happened in a handful of cases over the last decade, and those where corrected by the courts, property returned and officers involved appropriately disciplined.

The original story reads like this happens every day. Sorry, that's not true. It doesn't happen once a week, or once a month even.

Are you sure?

From the Washington Post article that the CBC author quoted.

There have been 61,998 cash seizures made on highways and elsewhere since 9/11 without search warrants or indictments through the Equitable Sharing Program, totaling more than $2.5 billion. State and local authorities kept more than $1.7 billion of that while Justice, Homeland Security and other federal agencies received $800 million. Half of the seizures were below $8,800.

I'm not sure about the numbers either, but even if they're off by an order of magnitude, it seems like a lot of seizures.

Further interesting is the last line. It reads to me like half of the seizures are ABOVE $8,800.

Comment: Re:So wait... (Score 2) 461

by mythosaz (#47884707) Attached to: CBC Warns Canadians of "US Law Enforcement Money Extortion Program"

As much as I like the idea of limiting my responses to legally identifying myself according to my state's laws, presenting any registrations or licenses potentially necessary, and then locking myself into a loop of, "am I being detained?" "am I under arrest?" "am I free to go?" I'm also smart enough to know that the any chance of the officer simply sending me on my way with a warning to keep my insurance card in the car and get a new tail-lamp next time I pass a Checker/Kragen/AutoZone flies right out the window when that happens.

It's a good idea to know your rights, not offer consent to searches, not volunteer any unnecessary information...but it's downright foolish to get into some sort of "I am being detained" back-and-forth through a slit cracked in the window.

Comment: Re:Simple solution (Score 1) 461

by mythosaz (#47884657) Attached to: CBC Warns Canadians of "US Law Enforcement Money Extortion Program"

I have a friend who, along with his wife, "retired" in their mid-20's.

They were both employed, had recently bought a house -- the sort of thing you expect from a new couple in their 20's. They were quietly living the white-picket-fence version of The American Dream. The company that they were working for got bought out. Employees - fortunately - had the opportunity to take a buyout on their position and leave with a tidy sum in their pockets. They sold their house for a small gain, took their buyout money, and have spent the last 20 years in a mobile home, moving from one state park to the next, hiking and living frugally. They both work part-time as trail guides in exchange for the occasional RV hookup fee or to supplement their retirement fund.

It didn't take much money for them to disconnect and live about as off the grid as you can comfortably.

I'm not suggesting this as practical advise for anyone -- but I've actually seen it work. If I liked hiking and camping (20 years of hiking and camping) I'd be more jealous.

Yes, we will be going to OSI, Mars, and Pluto, but not necessarily in that order. -- Jeffrey Honig