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Submission + - Feds want to unmask internet commenters writing about the Silk Road trial judge (

An anonymous reader writes: A grand jury subpoena, obtained by Ken White of the law blog Popehat, demands that libertarian news magazine Reason hand over "any and all identifying information" about certain commenters posting on an article published May 31st, "Silk Road Trial: Read Ross Ulbricht's Haunting Sentencing Letter to Judge."

The subpoena cites a law against "interstate threats" as the reason for demanding the information, which the Supreme Court very recently decided must include real intent.

As White points out, the comments — repugnant as they are — may very well not constitute a true threat, as they aren't directed at the judge and don't detail any real plans for violence. The kicker: although it's possible to fight the subpoena, precedent suggests the US Attorney's office may have the power to obtain the information anyway.

However the situation shakes out, this isn't nearly the first fight over commenter anonymity and the First Amendment, and certainly won't be the last.

Submission + - StrageLoop bans engineer over political views (

Third Position writes: Software engineer Curtis Yarvin was scheduled to give a talk on a new system software stack at Strangeloop — but his talk has now been cancelled after the conference received complaints on social media by critics of his political views. These complaints occured despite the fact that Yarvin’s talk, the abstract of which is copied below, concerned a purely technical topic.

Comment Re:Like the space shuttle-------- (Score 2) 140

There's certainly some truth to that. We keep hearing this is going to be the vehicle that's going to take us to Mars. Excuse me? Exactly how is a vehicle that can only carry 6 people carry supplies for even one person for nearly a year? Also, it's supposedly designed for missions lasting at most 21 days. They'd better be strapping it to a really fast rocket if they expect to get to Mars and back in 21 days!

Comment Re:PR works well? Where? (Score 1) 413

Whilst it is possible to see Germany as having had a stable governmental system despite PR, in most other countries it has caused substantial instability, to the extent that in many countries PR is tweeked to reduce its impact, e.g. Greece where the party with the most votes gets an extra tranche of MPs. By contrast Belgium's record of 18 months without a government as a result of PR should be a warning to us all.

Is that an indictment or an endorsement?

The great virtue of 'first past the post' is that it forces parties to appeal to a wider group than their obvious supporters; know nothing tea partiers mashed up with business advocates are lined up against a mixture of union placemen and minority activists. The process of coalesce has got to occur somewhere; the belief that it is best done in the spotlight of publicity of the floor of the legislature is somewhat unproven, at best. Certainly the collapse of both the Weimar Republic and the French 4th Republic are usually blamed on their use of PR; I remain to be convinced its the optimal solution.

That sounds more like an indictment of democracy itself. I'll point out that if Wilhelm had remained on the throne of Germany, neither the collapse of the Weimar republic nor the subsequent unfortunate events would have been possible. Those are entirely the fruits of democracy.

Let's organize this thing and take all the fun out of it.