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Comment Re:Flaws in our democracy (Score 1) 904

Some people with dark skin who lived in a certain antebellum representative democracy would like to have a talk with you.

We weren't really a representative democracy at that point since large segments of the population couldn't even vote. "Constitutional Republic" is the accepted term so far as I know.

In the meantime, remember that we inherited most of our law from England, which had a legislature when we broke from them.

A legislature that the king can and did dissolve at will. After a few rounds of this the legislature enters a state of learned helplessness, assuming a powerful sovereign. Plus, only nobles were allowed to be members of the upper house; the House of Commons was not nearly as powerful back then (and the name was deceptive; few actually had the right to vote). The UK is not now and never has been a democracy, which was my original point.

I was responding to a very broad, extreme argument that sovereign immunity and state secrets are somehow anathema to democracy per se, despite the fact that they have historically been a part of pretty much every government I've ever seen or heard of.

That's because they are anathema. We are not a democracy. At this point, I wouldn't even call America a constitutional republic. We are an oligarchy. We don't respect our own Constitution and freely ignore it when it gets in the way of precioussss state secrets.

Of course, I don't believe we should even have a standing army, let alone an NSA, Federal Reserve or CIA outside the full jurisdiction of Congress.

As far as actually respecting the Constitution our framers gave us, you'll find me slightly to the right of Antonin Scalia.

Ah, well that explains a lot. Those dark-skinned folks who were originally worth 3/5ths of a person would like to talk with you.

I guess you'll find me to the left of Thomas Jefferson, but we don't live in Jefferson's Republic. We live in Scalia's Oligarchy.

Comment Re:Flaws in our democracy (Score 1) 904

But the democracy you envision is crippled, weak, and ineffective. A crippled, weak, and ineffective democracy will fail, just as surely as an over-reaching, oppressive, dictatorial democracy.

You are contradicting yourself. A "oppressive, dictatorial democracy" is not a democracy at all; it's a totalitarian state masquerading as a democracy for PR purposes. You know, like North Korea, or ahem, "The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)".

And we've always had sovereign immunity. We inherited it from other democracies.

Again, no. We did not inherit from "other democracies" because democracies do not have such laws. We inherited this law from a monarchy, which itself stole the idea from the Pope. The "Sovereign" in question was the pope or king before the idea was expanded to include the whole government.

I don't think we have to put our military secrets up on Facebook to be a more transparent and democratic country. But the very basis of our Constitution is the idea that the government is not above the law. After all the Constitution is a list of things that government can't do, or must do, not a list of things the citizens can't do. We were created equal and free, remember?

If you have problems with the philosophy of freedom our forefather's embraced, might I suggest that you move to a different country? This country is for people who want to continue the democratic experiment. If that frightens you, why not move to the UK.... or the DPRK?


Cannabis Compound Said To "Halt Cancer" 383

h.ross.perot informs us of research out of the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute suggesting that a compound found in cannabis may stop breast cancer from metastasizing. Cannabidiol, or CBD, could develop into a non-toxic alternative to chemotherapy some years down the road, if animal and human trials bear out its effectiveness. The article notes that smoking cannabis will not deliver significant quantities of CBD.

Submission + - Why Do We Let the Media Determine our Candidates?

Paladin144 writes: "I've written an article about the mainstream media's tendency to determine the course of our presidential elections by giving favorable coverage to certain "approved" candidates while denying coverage or recognition to other candidates. A perfect example is the recent censorship of Ron Paul and Mike Gravel's respective campaigns in the media while they are exploding in popularity across the web. Will the power the internet provides everyday users revolutionize our electoral system or will corporate interest find a way to limit the damage to their control grid?"

Censoring a Number 1046

Rudd-O writes "Months after successful discovery of the HD-DVD processing key, an unprecedented campaign of censorship, in the form of DMCA takedown notices by the MPAA, has hit the Net. For example Spooky Action at a Distance was killed. More disturbingly, my story got Dugg twice, with the second wave hitting 15,500 votes, and today I found out it had simply disappeared from Digg. How long until the long arm of the MPAA gets to my own site (run in Ecuador) and the rest of them holding the processing key? How long will we let rampant censorship go on, in the name of economic interest?" How long before the magic 16-hex-pairs number shows up in a comment here?

Boston Bans Boing Boing From City Wi-Fi 215

DrFlounder writes "The city of Boston has apparently blocked access to Boing Boing on the municipal Wi-Fi. This is possibly due to the popular blog's known Mooninite sympathies." Update: 4/22 13:11 GMT by KD : Seth Finkelstein did some research and posted an explanation of the blockage to his blog. "'Arbitrary and capricious' seems the relevant characterization."

Billion Dollar Handout To Upgrade TVs 663

db32 writes "SFGate has the story of the cutoff date for those rabbit ear antennas that some of us grew up with (Feb. 19, 2009). Now while the story of analog vs. digital TV has been beaten to death, still I think there is something more here. 'The Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration... said it is setting aside $990 million to pay for the boxes. Each home can request up to two $40 coupons for a digital-to-analog converter box, which consumer electronics makers such as RCA and LG plan to produce.' Beyond my disdain for most TV to begin with, I am blown away that with all of our current problems — homelessness and crime on the home front, war fighting and terrorism abroad — our government is seriously going to spend this much money on upgrading peoples' televisions."
Technology (Apple)

Submission + - The race is on: Apple and LG plan flash laptops

PetManimal writes: "Computerworld reports that both Apple and LG are racing to get Flash-based laptop to market. Another source says the Apple laptop will run a "lite" version of Mac OS X, for release in the second half of this year. The LG Flash laptop is supposedly much further along the production cycle, and will supposedly hit the market in just a few weeks. There are a bunch of advantages to using Flash technology, says the original article:

A shift to flash memory for storage in place of much slower hard disk drives would eliminate one headache for consumers: lengthy start-up times when turning on computers. Apple already uses flash memory in its iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle music players. Flash memory is lighter, uses less power and takes up less space than hard disk drives.

Submission + - iTunes Staffers Becomes Music's New Gatekeepers

WSJdpatton writes: "From their Silicon Valley cubicles, Apple staffers have become music's unlikely power brokers. A look at how Apple has jettisoned some of the conventions of traditional music retailing — notably, the practice of selling prime promotional spots to recording companies willing to pay for better visibility for their acts. Still, behind the scenes there's plenty of horse-trading going on that influences which songs are seen and purchased by iTunes customers."
The Courts

US Attorney General Questions Habeas Corpus 1151

spiedrazer writes "In yet another attempt to create legitimacy for the Bush Administration's many questionable legal practices, US attorney General Alberto Gonzales actually had the audacity to argue before a Congressional committee that the US Constitution doesn't explicitly bestow habeas corpus rights on US citizens. In his view it merely says when the so-called Great Writ can be suspended, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the rights are granted. The Attorney General was being questioned by Sen. Arlen Specter at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Jan. 18. THe MSM are not covering this story but Colbert is (click on the fourth video down, 'Exact Words')." From the Baltimore Chronicle and Sentinel commentary: "While Gonzales's statement has a measure of quibbling precision to it, his logic is troubling because it would suggest that many other fundamental rights that Americans hold dear (such as free speech, freedom of religion, and the right to assemble peacefully) also don't exist because the Constitution often spells out those rights in the negative. It boggles the mind the lengths this administration will go to to systematically erode the rights and privileges we have all counted on and held up as the granite pillars of our society since our nation was founded."

Submission + - Is A Bad Attitude Damaging The IT Profession?

dtienes writes: "Why does IT get a free pass to insult users? Slamming customers isn't acceptable in any other profession; doctors don't call their patients "meatbags" — at least, not publicly. But IT professionals think nothing of wearing their scorn on their sleeves (or at least their chests — just check out ThinkGeek). There's more at stake here than just a few hard feelings. IT may be seriously damaging the credibility of the profession. See the essay I'm An Idiot (And Other Lessons From The IT Department) for a former IT professional turned user's take on insults, attitudes and ethics. (Full disclosure: The submitter is also the author.)"

Submission + - Using a water tower to store energy

An anonymous reader writes: It seems to me that the greatest challenge for many alternative energy sources like solar, is continuity. Although fancy maglev flywheels are promising, nothing commercial is out yet.

Does anybody know why a low-tech solution like pumping water into a tower, during the day, and letting it come down while turning a turbine at night is not a good straightforward solution?

Life in the state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. - Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan