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Comment: Re:Sucks to be law enforcement in a Republic (Score 1) 377

by Immerman (#48926981) Attached to: Justice Department: Default Encryption Has Created a 'Zone of Lawlessness'

I think your history is a little off - as I recall, traditionally the king had absolute power, it wasn't until the nobility strong-armed him into agreeing to the Magna Carta, essentially at gunpoint, that they (not the people) got a guaranteed voice in government. It wasn't until much later that the peasants got a voice as well.

Basically, UK "monarchy" is an anomaly, not the norm, and today is really a monarchy only in name. The royal family long since signed away all their political power, except for that which they can exercise by way of cultural influence or threats to reclaim their vast wealth held in trust by the British government on condition of certain considerations - a canny maneuver to make sure the family would maintain a special influence with the government that replaced them.

Certainly republics can descend into police states as well - but that requires that either the people support such a maneuver, or that the government has violated it's trust and you don't actually have republic anymore. Single-party systems (or two-party collusion) are probably the most common way to maintain such a farce.

Comment: Re:Screen locker == physical access == ... (Score 1) 312

by Immerman (#48925905) Attached to: Why Screen Lockers On X11 Cannot Be Secure

Only because your phone doesn't have the ability to boot from external media by default. Change that and you grant anyone with a bootable flash card/USB drive total access to your phone. In fact with physical access and a screwdriver they could get around that boot restriction as well - worst case scenario they just have to replace the soldered-on flash drive. The extreme hardware integration that makes a phone such a disposable, non-upgradable consumer item does grant you a measure of security against casual intruders, but don't think that it's any more than an inconvenience to a serious attack.

Comment: Re:not the point (Score 1) 312

by Immerman (#48925803) Attached to: Why Screen Lockers On X11 Cannot Be Secure

I don't know - every program that I've ever restarted from scratch has turned out far more powerful and flexible with a far smaller codebase than the original. Lessons learned from the first go-round and all that. With a better understanding of the problem space comes a better ability to address it efficiently.

Comment: Re:Paradox? (Score 1) 219

by Immerman (#48925703) Attached to: Gamma-ray Bursts May Explain Fermi's Paradox

Whales appear to have social stratification and symbolic communication (spoken language) - the others are of course more problematic for a species without hands, and far better evolved to live in comfort in a much more bountiful environment. Though being basically unchallenged apex predators with a globe-spanning communication system allowing them to coordinate between remote "tribes" could be interpreted as providing separation and domination over their environment. But that lack of hands and natural long-range communication system does make it seem unlikely that they would ever develop the technology to communicate over interstellar distances.

As for other hominids, no I don't think their short lifespan is a factor in the Drake equation - they were driven to extinction by competition with another intelligent species. If we had not won the evolutionary/cultural arms race, or never existed at all, then one of them would have taken our place as a planet-dominating civilization - they went extinct only because that aspect of the Drake equation had already been satisfied - in a sense they were a "Drake insurance policy", nearly guaranteeing the emergence of civilization even if our own species hadn't made the cut.

Comment: Re:There is a lot of nitrogen about (Score 2) 46

by Immerman (#48925493) Attached to: We May Have Jupiter To Thank For the Nitrogen In Earth's Atmosphere

Yes, but "in the universe" is a much different location than "in the narrow ribbon of proto-planetary material that formed the Earth". Hydrogen and Helium are by far the most common elements by mass, and yet there's very little of either on Earth, due in large part to the fact that they are too light to be gravitationally bound by such a small planet unless incorporated into other compounds.

Consider that a proto-planetary disc around a star would act as something of a centrifuge, causing stratification by molecular weight, so elements would tend to clump together according to the molecular weights of the compounds they were most stably bound into at that point in time. And anything that changed the stability of those molecules - say heating, or a change in concentration of reactive chemicals due to large bodies causing mixing between cloud strata - would change the preferred strata of said elements as they were incorporated into molecules with a different mass, as well as the mixing itself causing molecules to deposit on proto-planetary bodies outside their preferred strata.

Comment: Re:Saturn pulling Jupiter (Score 3, Informative) 46

by Immerman (#48925341) Attached to: We May Have Jupiter To Thank For the Nitrogen In Earth's Atmosphere

Nothing ever gets pulled closer, except that something else gets thrown further away in equal measure, anything else would violate conservation of momentum. This page give a bit of an overview: http://www.boulder.swri.edu/~k...

As I understand it the idea is that they were acting within a relatively dense gas-and-asteroid cloud rather than the modern vacuum. Jupiter was moving inwards as it scooped up gas and asteroids from the inner system, launching most of that material into the outer system. And miniscule Saturn was towed along in it's wake. Eventually the orbital resonance with an encroaching Saturn slowed and reversed Jupiter's motion, at which point they began scooping up the detritus that had been thrown outward on their inward journey and hurling it back inward again while they moved outwards, eventually moving outwards far enough that they could start scooping up the previously undisturbed outer-system cloud and hurling it inward, moving them even farther out than they had originated. And of course Uranus and Neptune had meanwhile been busy throwing more material inwards from the far-outer system as they performed their own migrations, further fueling the outward migration of Jupiter.

Think of it like a gravitationally powered rocket engine - every asteroid that does a gravitational slingshot around Jupiter transfers just as much momentum to Jupiter as it does to the asteroid.

Eventually Jupiter's orbit stabilized when it ran out of enough outer-system detritus to propel it further outward, while orbital resonance continued to propel Saturn even further outward at the expense of propelling Jupiter slightly inward, solidifying the new orbital position.

Comment: Re:Sucks to be law enforcement in a Republic (Score 1) 377

by Immerman (#48924805) Attached to: Justice Department: Default Encryption Has Created a 'Zone of Lawlessness'

In a monarchy power is presumed to flow from the king - the police are his *enforcers*: his word is law, and justice be damned.

In a republic, or any other form of government which presumes that power flows from the citizenry, the police are charged with being *protectors*, and are severely limited in their interactions with the citizenry who grant them their power.

Comment: Re:Wait... (Score 2) 377

by Immerman (#48924601) Attached to: Justice Department: Default Encryption Has Created a 'Zone of Lawlessness'

Easy enough to fix too, at least in theory: If a corporation refuses to release *their* information in response to a court order, imprison the CEO and dissolve the corporation. Sure you'd have to get a law passed to that effect, but it a hard argument to make that we should compromise everyone's security rather than make the guilty parties liable for their crimes.

On the other hand if he's talking about the companies being unable to hand over *my* data and communications... well that's not their data to hand over to begin with. Send *me* the court order and proceed from there.

Comment: Re:I wonder... (Score 1) 94

by Immerman (#48924037) Attached to: Researchers Tie Regin Malware To NSA, Five Eyes Intel Agencies

Possibly so - but if one man gets away with it relatively unscathed, that may embolden the next. Also you have to consider that thanks to exponential population growth modern generations involve a *hell* of a lot more individuals than anything even a few hundred years ago - what was once would have been "once every few generations" rarity can now be reasonably expected to occur many times per generation. Hell, we've already had both Snowden and Manning within a relatively brief window.

Comment: Re:Fermi's paradox is hubris (Score 1) 219

by Immerman (#48923961) Attached to: Gamma-ray Bursts May Explain Fermi's Paradox

Okay, granted - at *that* scale, yes there are some limits. But the further you go into the past the less constricting those limits would have been.

I also seem to recall that at the galactic cluster scale, and possibly even at the supercluster scale, galaxies will remain gravitationally bound to each other rather than being pulled apart by expansion, so that's 54+ galaxies in our local group that will remain accessible. And if the Virgo supercluster is strongly enough bound, that means there will be at least 1500-2000 more galaxies that will also remain in range.

Also, I haven't heard any reason to believe that the speed of expansion is increasing - in fact I thought it was believed to be decreasing in terms of acceleration per unit distance, perpetually slowing from the initial insane inflationary period after the big bang - it's simply that the amount of distance to remote galaxies is already increasing faster than the expansion rate is slowing, so that their acceleration away from us will continue to increase without bound.

Comment: Re:Paradox? (Score 1) 219

by Immerman (#48923753) Attached to: Gamma-ray Bursts May Explain Fermi's Paradox

Yeah, I suppose they might, if they were discovered within rock that gave some sense of their actual age. Otherwise they would almost certainly be credited to earlier civilizations of the new species, no doubt confounding their equivalent of anthropologists with the extreme precision with which they were cut. Might even help inspire a lunatic fringe convinced that aliens had visited Earth in the past.

Comment: Re:Paradox? (Score 1) 219

by Immerman (#48923711) Attached to: Gamma-ray Bursts May Explain Fermi's Paradox

Do you mean technological civilizations? Because whales have a pretty sophisticated globe-spanning culture.

My point was more that there's lots of candidate species that, in the right circumstances, might have potential to cross whatever threshold it is that we crossed. And the evidence suggests that at least most other human species went extinct as a result of our own expansion, had we not evolved one of the other variant would likely have become the dominant species instead.

"We shall reach greater and greater platitudes of achievement." -- Richard J. Daley

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