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Comment Re:Nuclear Power Fears (Score 1) 419

Having a short half life where it decays into something with a very long half life doesn't really eliminate the risk. Especially if you're dealing with forms that are water soluble. And it is quite possible for a reasonably strong alpha emitter to have a long half life. Alpha emitters aren't normally too bad, fairly low energy, but if you were to ingest a lot of one (like in your drinking water) there would be serious consequences for such a persistent long term exposure.

Plutonium dioxide has an 88 year half life, and is water insoluble. When RTGs are used, they're heavily encased and designed to survive catastrophic launch failures, and have done so, only to be collected and reused on later launches. If they had put an RTG on Philae, your chances of being harmed by it would have been approximately equal to your chances of being devoured by an Indomitus Rex. Unless you're planning to break into the sealed casing, slice off a chunk PuO2, and put in in a sandwich, you'll probably be okay.

Comment Re:Technically, they are correct. (Score 1) 165

This is true, but there would still be a huge contradiction in the law if the FISA courts ignore the Second Circuit. You'd have the FISA courts saying "Bulk surveillance is authorized under the USA Freedom Act for six months in the entire United States" versus the Second Circuit saying "Bulk surveillance is unconstitutional and any law authorizing it within the jurisdiction of the Second Circuit is void for that reason."

My guess is, if the FISA courts ignore the Second Circuit there will be a Supreme Court case on this, as tends to happen when you have conflicting authority at the appeals court level.

While I don't remotely agree with the NSA's bulk surveillance program, what you describe is called a "circuit split," and it happens all the time. In fact, it's one of the best indicators that the Supreme Court will take up a case.

Comment Re:ST only needed transparent aluminum for... (Score 1) 247

Yeah, I saw those once. They weren't that bad for cheap fan fiction, and they even had a couple of good ideas, like that the clones were originally fighting for the Republic and then turned on the Jedi. Maybe Disney could use some of those ideas when they make the actual Eps. I -- III (presumably some time after they finish VII -- IX).

Comment Re:ST only needed transparent aluminum for... (Score 0) 247

I wish i had mod points. That is a damned insightful observation. But don't do it again ... you just ruined STIV:TVH for me., !

What is this Star Trek IV you speak of? On a related note, isn't it weird how they skipped straight from ST II to ST VI, and Spock was suddenly back with no explanation?

Comment Re:Money (Score 1) 140

Came here to say just this. The HOT lanes in VA were allegedly going to get some of these thermal cameras to catch HOV cheaters, but AFAIK they aren't installed yet (too expensive). Since you have to use an EZPass on those lanes anyway, I'm not concerned about them being able to count occupants - they already know when you're on the road. Also, GP:

After all, who's going to get into a car with a bunch of strangers, and not have a vehicle when they reach their destination?

google "SLUG" - tons of people pick up strangers everyday near the HOV lanes in VA. Drivers get to work quicker, slugs get a free ride and don't have to pay for parking in DC - win-win.

I gooigled "SLUG." Are you referring to the unit of mass, or the shell-less terrestrial gastropod mollusk? And what does it have to do with traffic?

Comment Re:"Full responsibilty?" (Score 1) 334

Careful what you wish for, the flip side of war being declared is that all the war-time powers of the president, FEMA etc. are invoked. If you don't want that to happen, you have to somehow define it as non-war military action and then it wouldn't be in violation of the Constitution, you can't have it both ways. And the amendment says only Congress can declare war, but the President is commander-in-chief of the military and there's really nowhere that explicitly states he can't commit acts of war without approval by Congress. It seems implied, but technicalities might matter.

By the way, if you're arguing the person at the top is violating the law then that naturally flows down the chain of command and as we learned in the post-WWII trials, following orders is no excuse. So if the President should go on trial for violating the constitution, the soldier shooting should go on trial for manslaughter. Possibly even murder, because you clearly meant to kill and that you happened to kill a few that weren't the target is like an assassin's collateral. I doubt that goes under manslaughter, really.

The whole military system is so turned on its head now that it has become a distinction without a difference. But it didn't start out that way. The the Framers were very leary of standing armies, and so restricted military appropriations to two years, assuming that major military appropriations would happen only in times of declared war. In the meantime, states could keep militias that could be called up in times of war. That's not how it has worked out, though. We now have a huge standing army, and while we technically follow the rule that military appropriations have a two-year life, we renew them like clockwork every two years. So in effect, we have become exactly what the Framers hated (and had just overthrown).

Comment Re:"Full responsibilty?" (Score 1) 334

Ron Paul for example suggested that we could not and recommended we use letters of marque instead. (which while still allowed are considered antique and haven't be actually used in a long time) In the US

I'm in favor of this, mainly because "privateer" is a cool word, and it would be all swagger and swashbuckling to have them. Also, it would probably be an excellent way to stop African piracy. And paying bounties for capturing/killing terrorists would probably be cheaper than our current war effort.

Comment Re:A sane supreme court decision? (Score 1) 409

And the only supreme court case to challenge the handler claiming the dog hit repeatedly on the same person when no drugs were found the court promptly through out the challenge with no question of the dog/handler combination.

The conservative side of the court likes to let law enforcement do whatever they want. Scalia in particular bends over backwards to rule in favor of jack booted thuggery at every opportunity.

Antonin Scalia basically single-handedly saved the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment. And as MorphOSX noted below, he (along with Roberts) voted with the majority on this one. Thomas, Kennedy, and Alito dissented.

It's not as easy as you think to divide the justices up into "liberal" and "conservative," and those two "groups" certainly do not always vote as a block. You may not agree with Scalia's judicial philosophy of constructionism, but he is usually very disciplined and consistent in applying it.

The road to ruin is always in good repair, and the travellers pay the expense of it. -- Josh Billings

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