Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:No just laws = No fair trial (Score 1) 578 578

Like I said, I'm not arguing with you about the fairness of the law.

No, I recognize that. You're just restating your premise over and over again and not engaging any responses or questions about your position. We've established that your definition of a "fair trial" is one that follows any set of written laws and is held in America (yay!) regardless of what actually happens in that trial. By that definition, I fully acknowledge that Mr. Snowden would receive a fair trial. It's a wonder that he doesn't rush back to avail himself of one. Or maybe two!

What you NEED to be doing is to stop yammering about how unfair all this is and start working to change the law you think is so unfair.

Ah, the argument from incomplete civic engagement. My favorite! You start by pretending that you're on Slashdot to educate the uneducated masses while the person you're arguing with is a hopeless idiot who genuinely believes that arguing with random yahoos on Slashdot is how you change laws and who never actually engages in any political activity. Once that's established, you can change the subject, extricate yourself from the conversation, condescend to your interlocutor (Really, Thunder? There are people you vote for who make laws? Tell me more!), all while pretending to somehow be above the fray even after you just spent a bunch of posts arguing with random yahoos on Slashdot. It's a quality gambit every time I see it, even if it's not very original.

With that, I don't look forward to your likely reply.

Why? It's so little effort to simply restate your priors, ignore every line of argumentation presented and skirt any questions asking you to defend your definitions. It's not like you spend a lot of time on this stuff. I suppose you're too busy running Senate campaigns and reviewing constitutional law journals to engage with little people who don't even understand how voting works.

All I can say to you on that front is, good luck, you are going to need it because I get the feeling the majority of people who vote in this country don't support a change in law big enough to get Snowden off the hook.

You're assuming that I want him "off the hook." I think that with a fair trial, he'd likely do some time, albeit not the same amount of time as a genuine spy who acted against our interests with no justification. What I don't accept is the notion that in a country that supposedly values due process and freedom of speech, we think a trial that doesn't allow the defendant to speak in his own defense is "fair," much less good enough to live up to the standards we supposedly set when we defined what due process meant to a democracy.

Comment Re:No just laws = No fair trial (Score 1) 578 578

Shesh.. Look, the trial would be "fair" as in done by the rules. Let it go...

I can't help but notice that you didn't answer the question. If the rules stated that he wasn't allowed to speak in his own defense, is the trial still fair just because that's how the rules are written? If your definition of "fair trial" means that honest people apply ridiculous rules equally to all, then yes, it's fair. But that definition of "fair" would apply to a system that simply executed every defendant without hearing any evidence either way. As long as it's done by the book and nobody gets special treatment one way or the other, why not?

Again, if you want to claim the LAW is not fair, fine, but don't confuse the LAW with the trial.

The law and the trial are not separable in this case. The law determines what arguments can be made at the trial, so treating them as two totally unrelated things is nonsense. I'll clarify that I'm not impugning the motives of the jurors or the judge. But the "trial" is more than just people. It's people and rules, and those rules are a mix of written law, tradition and precedent. Unfortunately in this case, those rules come together in such a way that one of the basic principles of a fair trial, the ability to speak in one's own defense, is missing.

He is innocent until proven guilty, will be afforded an attorney, will be given a trial before his peers, face his accusers and present evidence at his trial. This is NOT a kangaroo court.

This is where we disagree. If he's not allowed to present the best evidence in his defense, then he's not by any reasonable standard being allowed to "present evidence" at his trial. "You can present evidence, but not the evidence that might convince a jury," is a meaningless guarantee. Without the ability to present true, relevant statements in your own defense, it is a kangaroo court. The fact that it was set up that way by law and the fact that it's offensive to call it so doesn't make it any less of a kangaroo court.

That's not how we've done criminal justice for centuries. It's a mess that we've slowly allowed our courts to evolve into by steadily adding rules for excluding evidence and arguments. For example, strict liability in criminal cases only really started in the late 19th century, and its liberal application to serious crimes (as opposed to regulatory violations) is much more recent.

Just like the slow stripping away of due process for suspected drug offenders, all branches of government have been complicit including the courts. New laws were written, new court precedents were set, and before we knew it, we had a system that allowed asset forfeiture without a trial and prevented criminal defendants from presenting true evidence in their defense. This is just another example of exactly how far we've drifted from those traditions you reference. Those are traditions that we should be proud of, and we should be screaming bloody murder at every step away from them.

Comment Re:Well, sure, but... (Score 4, Insightful) 195 195

There is plenty of room on the label for a tinyurl.

If you were to accept that you needed a smartphone in order to read food labels (a big "IF") - then the entire label could be replaced by a QRCode which links to a page with *ALL* of the information. The actual label could then be simplified to a really simple "UNHEALTHY/HEALTH" number going from 1..10 as proposed previously to simplify things for the 95% of people who aren't going to read anything more detailed than that anyway.

For people like you - I'd imagine that using a phone to get vitally important data that would never fit on a label is less of an imposition. Furthermore, it would be easy to have software provided for you that would allow you to scan the product and get a personalized "OK TO EAT"/"DO NOT EAT!" indicator as set by your doctor.

Come to think of it - you wouldn't even need any extra printing at all...pretty much all labelled food already has a bar-code on it - it would be simple enough to prepend a standard URL onto that number to turn it into something that a special app could use to pull all of the necessary information. Legislation to make product vendors add this information would then be simple enough.

Comment Surplus (Score 1) 195 195

We're collectively producing more rice than we eat. Japan is stockpiling unused rice every year, and the world markets are flooded with cheap rice. Food insufficiency (starvation, malnutrition) is currently a problem of resource allocation, not production.

At the same time, the consumers in the big rice consuming countries aren't eating just "rice". You can typically find many dozens of very specific breeds of rice with differences in flavour, texture, firmness, size and so on. And that's within a single type (Japonica, say).

I suspect this would only be useful for rice grown for feed or as an industrial crop. But for feed, source of starch and so on there are already other, well entrenched crops available, so I don't see much of a practical impact of this development.

Comment the drone was a gift (Score 1) 1022 1022

If someone puts stuff in your yard, it is yours to dispose of as you see fit. This covers trash like drink cups and what not. Anything mailed to you becomes yours, even if it was mailed by accident. I think this pattern implies that owner of the drone flew it to the shooters yard, and then the drone becomes the property of the shooter. It was a gift. I'm not sure about firing a weapon in city limits, but shooting your own stuff seems legal.

Comment All your data r belong to us! (Score 3, Informative) 239 239

As another noted on the Red Site:

"We'll know everything* about you and we'll be snitching (including your BitLocker key) whenever and/or to anyone we think is in our interest to. Starting Aug 15"[1]

In particular, this is more than a little disturbing.

"But Microsoftâ(TM)s updated privacy policy is not only bad news for privacy. Your free speech rights can also be violated on an ad hoc basis as the company warns:

In particular, âoeWe will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary toâ, for example, âoeprotect their customersâ or âoeenforce the terms governing
the use of the servicesâ."

As with all things Microsoft, use at your own risk. Only now, the risks to you personally are higher than ever before.


Comment Re:No just laws = No fair trial (Score 1) 578 578

What you can and cannot argue as a defense to a crime is spelled out in the law.

If the law said, "The defense is not allowed to make any arguments," would it still be a fair trial simply because the rules were spelled out beforehand and applied equally to every defense? If not, how much of a minimal defense must be allowed before you'd consider it fair?

Defense is usually given wide latitude in what kinds of arguments they try so I see no reason why the argument wouldn't be tried, but I do see where it wouldn't be successful.

That's not how the courts work. If you start bringing in "irrelevant" evidence, the prosecution objects that it's irrelevant. The judge says, "Yup, that's not relevant according to the law. You can't say that. Move along." For example, in medical marijuana cases, you'd think that the dispensary owner would be able to say, "Look, it's legal in my state and I'm selling it only to people with medical need," to at least mitigate the crime. Nope. You can't mention those facts. They're irrelevant to the federal case. The only question before the federal court is whether you sold marijuana in large quantites. Off to prison wtih you, Scarface. This happens all the time.

Another example is any crime with strict liability rules. Those are crimes which have no requirement to prove intent. The flip side of the coin is that you can't prove that you did it by accident. Statutory rape, for example. If you have sex with an adult-looking minor, it doesn't matter if she produced a perfect US passport for you to check, that you followed up with her friends and family, and everybody told you she was 18. The very fact that she truly wasn't 18 is all that matters and your efforts at screening are no defense. Not a "weak" defense that might not work. They're not a valid defense for the jury to consider. I don't know of any test cases where the defense was not allowed to make the point, but that's how the law actually works and it's totally valid for the judge to prevent you from arguing it.

Also, comparing our legal system to that of North Korea is very unfair.

It's not a direct comparison. It's an analogy and it works precisely because the direct comparison is so unflattering. Your argument seems to be that something is "fair" just because the rules are written down in advance. My argument is that you can construct any number of perfectly consistent laws, write them down, and apply them without bias and still have a completely unfair system. The analogy works unless you can come up with a sensible answer to my first question in this post: Is it OK to write a law that says that no defense may be presented in court? If not, how much of a defense should be allowed? Should the single best argument for the defense ever be disallowed?

If this was a matter of Snowden making a Hail Mary pass at the jury and hoping for some sympathy, I could understand your position if not necessarily agree with it. But that's not the situation. He'd be expected to sit in court and smile and nod because the single best (and only) argument for what he did isn't admissable and can't even be discussed. That's a total departure from the notion of arguing your case before a jury of your peers. You might as well not have a jury at that point.

Comment Re:Yeah, be a man! (Score 1) 578 578

If there was ever a valid case for it, this seems like it. But you're going to have to hope that the jury hears those arguments before the trial starts, because Snowden certainly won't be allowed to make them to the jury during the trial. Choose your jurors carefully so they don't know anything about Snowden, what he did, or why he did it and you're going to have a very short trial with a very predictable outcome.

Comment Re:Anyone besides me think he's a criminal? (Score 1) 578 578

He stabbed his immediate managers in the back, for sure. But I as one of his ultimate employers don't feel stabbed in the back. I feel stabbed in the back by his bosses. I feel more like a company owner whose janitor has just pointed out that middle management has been stealing from me for years.

Comment Re:I'd be more sympathetic if he weren't a doucheb (Score 1) 578 578

How much harm is Putin really able to do to us by parading Snowden around? Conversely, how much good did Snowden's revalations do? I think that what little aid and comfort he gave to Putin was a worthwhile exchange, and I'm pretty sure he would agree.

Comment Re:No just laws = No fair trial (Score 2) 578 578

What you don't like is the law... Fine, just don't keep saying he won't get a fair trial because according to the LAW he will. Saying he won't get a fair trial is wrong. The courts are there to fairly apply the law and for the most part, that's what they do.

That's a little bit of a dodge, though. If by "fair" we simply mean "consistent with local laws" then you're 100% guaranteed to get a fair trial in North Korea or under ISIS. It simply means that trials are fair by definition.

I think that there's a good argument to be made that there are some features that need to exist in a truly fair trial, one of which is the ability to present your case regarding mitgiating circumstances for the jury to hear. More broadly, I'd argue that a defendant should be allowed to say anything he wants in his own defense, provided it's the truth.

Comment Re:A simple proposition. (Score 1) 357 357

What is the alternate solution? Are you willing to pay for a subscription to every site you visit? Do you want more "native content" intermixed with all these articles?

Or, you know, less content. It's not as if we're all sitting around wishing there was more stuff on the internet to read, right?

We pay a monthly subscription for our online daily newspaper. I occasionally pay for things such as printed anthologies of online comics I follow, buy books by authors whose blogs and articles I read. I subscribe to a couple of websites.

At one end there is high-quality content such as newspapers (which is high quality in my home country) and other stuff like I listed above. Stuff that is good enough that people really do want to pay for it.

At the other end a lot of people out there are creating good stuff completely for free. You've got academics, programmers and other professionals with a day job that write to spread what they learn. You've got hobbyists sharing their passion. Small businesses publishing good stuff to promote their name and skills. Factual events are widely and freely reported.

The content farms, clickbait sites and the rest out there is squeezed between these two. The high-quality stuff sets the bar for what people expect in order to part with their money. The free stuff sets the bar on what people accept before they abandon you and leave for better sources.

If your business depends on having so much advertising that it drives people to block stuff or leave, then you have no business being in business at all.

Machines certainly can solve problems, store information, correlate, and play games -- but not with pleasure. -- Leo Rosten