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Comment: Makes me wonder (Score 1) 198

by causality (#48617171) Attached to: NASA Study Proposes Airships, Cloud Cities For Venus Exploration

Since the atmospheric pressure at the surface is 92 times that of Earth, and the surface temperate is over 450 degrees C, the probes we've sent to Venus haven't lasted long. The Venera 8 probe sent back data for only 50 minutes after landing.

What would it take to create a probe that could survive these conditions and send back data indefinitely? Is it even currently possible to engineer electronics that can either operate at those temperatures or be insulated and cooled sustainably? If you had infinite funding and the best engineers in the world, how would you even begin to address this?

Comment: Re:What? (Score 1) 440

by causality (#48612763) Attached to: Federal Court Nixes Weeks of Warrantless Video Surveillance

It's certainly feasible. It takes political will, but more importantly it takes _Money_. All of that stuff is going to cost money. It's not so simple a matter as saying "Well we already spend $X on Y, let's put it on Z instead." You have to house those soldiers and feed them. Field operations are an increased cost over using the established housing and facilities on their old bases. Trucks using fuel moving food/water/etc.

If you understand how federal politics and the well-connected military-industrial complex actually works, you would know that costing lots of money would make it MORE likely, not less.

Comment: Re:What? (Score 1) 440

by causality (#48612735) Attached to: Federal Court Nixes Weeks of Warrantless Video Surveillance

Because it's impossible to secure 3,000 miles of border, and he would just sneak back in if that's all we did.

Pardon me, but that's bullshit.

Let's just take the forces we already have today. We have 1.4 Million in active duty military personnel and 850,000 reserves. Obviously we can't take every single one, so let's take half: 1.1 Million people. Now stick them on a 3-man rotation minus 1/3 for duty rotations and leave and spread them out across the 1,954 mile border with Mexico. That puts 125 people plus their equipment per mile of border, plus all their R&D budget going into technologies to increase protection. Those personnel aren't just idle all day....

Are you sure those personnel aren't just idle all day?

No, that's not a stupid question. I'm asking this because of your assumption that 1.1 million active duty personnel are doing jack shit right now, and thus have plenty of time to go pull guard duty.

It's not like they're maintaining a global presence or anything...

Yes, a global presence, especially (though not exclusively) because we just insist on constantly fucking with the Middle East. If we didn't have such a global presence feeding the military-industrial complex, we would have plenty of personnel to deal with the real national security issue of a wide-open border. We'd have far fewer enemies that way as well, but then the anti-terrorism propaganda would have to find another issue to excuse draconian laws.

The USA is a military and economic empire that doesn't like to call itself an empire because that might sound bad.

Comment: Re:So if I've got this right... (Score 1) 440

by causality (#48611235) Attached to: Federal Court Nixes Weeks of Warrantless Video Surveillance

So your premise is that all drug laws should be abolished/not enforced. Sorry but I only partially agree. Certain drug laws, marijuana for example, are overreaching. Other drugs do cause harm to society.

If the laws prohibiting those drugs actually made them unavailable to would-be users, then and only then would I see your point. They're failing to do so, have always failed, and will continue to fail for the foreseeable future. These are simply facts and these facts are not controversial at all. As I said, even in the highly secured, scrutinized, searched, regimented environment of a prison, where all the variables favor the people trying to prevent drug use, not even in those places can we keep drugs out. One way or another, they continue to be smuggled in.

What these drug laws are accomplishing is the enrichment of violent gangs/cartels, for whom the illicit status of drugs means far greater profits. Even the occasional large drug bust just amounts to less competition, and it's generally not the big kingpins who are bearing the risk. What the prohibition laws also accomplished is the steady buildup of a police state and the erosion of the 4th Amendment. The asset forfeiture laws alone are an abomination in any country that even pretends to be a free society. All of this is caused by trying to enforce an unenforcable law. It's the only outcome that can be expected from trying to do so.

I agree but some drug consequences are not confined to consenting adults. Some drugs cause people to be unable to hold jobs, cause them to commit crimes to support their habit, etc. I realize that alcohol does similar things but to a much lesser extent. The percentage of productive crackheads is much less than the percentage of productive alcohol use. The consequences of this drug use is spread to the rest of society in welfare costs, health costs, insurance costs, policing costs, etc.

Again if the prohibition were actually capable of stopping the drug use, this would be a legitimate concern. The policing costs could be eliminated entirely. Legal drugs would cost far less per dose, removing much of the incentive for addicts to rob and steal from others, reducing crime. Hell, state governments could give away free drugs to addicts and it would cost less than what we're doing now, both monetarily and socially. The reason productive crackheads are less common than productive alcoholics is that the alcoholic can easily purchase his drug anywhere and can afford it since it's legal and cheap. The other costs you mention like welfare, health, and insurance are effectively fixed costs, because right now anyone who really wants drugs can get them.

The best way to reduce the harm caused by irresponsible drug use is to treat it as a public health issue, not a law-enforcement issue.

The issue is around the word "unreasonable" which can be interpreted differently by different people. What is unreasonable to one person may be reasonable to another. Too many people seem to interpret this an "any search without a warrant" but that is not what the Constitution says.

Indeed, unfortunately that isn't what the Constitution says, but it would be wonderful if we actually had a pro-freedom Supreme Court to make such a ruling. These days the Court is little more than a mouthpiece articulating bullshit justifications for what the police are going to do anyway in order to create the appearance of legitimacy. Also, if drugs were legal and regulated, the incentive for the vast majority of police searches would disappear, as the vast, vast majority of prisoners got there because of drug charges. Then most searches would be for important things like murder weapons, not for unimportant and futile things like trying and failing to tell adult people how to live.

Comment: Re:What? (Score 1) 440

by causality (#48611121) Attached to: Federal Court Nixes Weeks of Warrantless Video Surveillance

When I was growing up it was a pretty decent way to pass some time. My dad grew up on a farm, so we'd go back for visits and do some target practice with whatever old stuff we might find around the farm. I'd shoot .22 long rifle, my dad had a .38 pistol, and my uncle had a rifle and a .45.

I seem to be more accurate with heavier handguns like a .44 Magnum or a .357 myself. Of course the nice thing about a .357 is that you can target practice with the cheaper .38 Special rounds, at least if it's a revolver. The gas pressure may not be high enough to cycle the action on a semiautomatic pistol -- at least, that was my experience trying to use .38 Special rounds in a Desert Eagle .357 weapon.

I also had lots of fun firing a 12 gauge shotgun loaded with slugs, trying to hit targets out of easy range for buckshot.

Comment: Re:undocumented immigrant (Score 1) 440

by causality (#48611077) Attached to: Federal Court Nixes Weeks of Warrantless Video Surveillance

Oh look at the poor persecuted "christian" that is so bent out of shape because his publicly funded school or courthouse doesn't have a monument to the 10 commandments. Paying 5 or 6 figures for a monument, as has happened in the past, is an endorsement.

Look, numbnuts, it's not "your" school or courthouse, it's our school and our courthouse, and "us" includes atheists, hindi, buddhists, jews, etc., as well as christians, or so-called "christians" that have completely forgotten the Sermon on the Mount.

-- BMO

The only thing I haven't heard discussed before, that I think is a big part of this: in previous generations, Americans had a stronger shared culture. Yes it was mostly religious in nature, but it was something that nearly everyone agreed on and celebrated together. There was of course political division, but there was much less cultural divison than there is today. Among those who would like to keep the Ten Commandments etc. in public buildings, I've never heard them actually cite this aspect, but I think it's a major underlying reason for their desire.

I am against religious symbols in public buildings, by the way. I just find it useful to understand the motivations of people with whom I disagree. Personally I disagree with it for a different reason. I believe one's spirtuality or lack thereof is a deeply personal decision, something one must arrive at as an individual. I try to practice the teachings of Christ (among others), but I really find distasteful the shallow groupthink and lemming behavior I observe in any church I've been to.

In churches I've visited, I generally see a bunch of insecure people who need to be in a group of the like-minded in order to feel validated, repeating the same basic and unenlightening themes over and over again to feel like they belong somewhere. Once I understand a concept, I understand it, and I'm ready to move on to deeper subjects myself. I've never personally seen a church of courageous individuals with real, meaningful insight into the difficult struggles we all face in life, sharing hard-won wisdom for which they paid dearly. Nor have I seen anything resembling advanced philosophy and theology, an appreciation for the majesty and mystery of our very existence and the quest to find meaning and purpose in this life. It's just the same list of do's and don'ts, platitudes, and regurgitated ideas you would find in any other social club.

Government is shitty enough without adding (more of) this element to it.

Comment: Re:hum (Score 3, Insightful) 440

by causality (#48610207) Attached to: Federal Court Nixes Weeks of Warrantless Video Surveillance

I think you are missing the point of the story. Nobody really gives a flying fuck whether this one guy happens to get deported or not, because he's no longer an interesting or important part of it. What happened is that the government Got Caught, yet again, doing illegal shit. Whoever they were investigating during the commissions of their own infractions, is irrelevant. It doesn't have anything to do with Latin-vs-other, or even presidents. It was a local PD that got caught acting like criminals. That's bad, because we want PDs to be fighting crime, not being the crime.

It will also continue as long as there is no real penalty for getting caught. If a cop breaks the rules in this manner, the worst that happens is the case gets thrown out and the defendant goes free. Start throwing these cops in state penitentiaries for a year or two, making sure they go in the general population and get no special treatment, and you will see an immediate and drastic decline in this kind of abuse. And why shouldn't we do this? Cops who engage in this behavior are violating the very highest law of the land. That should carry a penalty.

The way I see it, when a cop breaks the law it's much worse than when an ordinary citizen breaks the law, because the cop is entrusted with special powers and has sworn to uphold the law. It follows that cops should be punished much more harshly when they break the law than a citizen who does the same thing. There is no other way you're going to return to being a free nation.

Talk to old people sometime about what cops used to be like. They were once genuine public servants. If you had a problem, you could find a cop and he'd help you. Average people didn't fear the police the way they do now. That's what we should return to.

Comment: Re:undocumented immigrant (Score 1) 440

by causality (#48610083) Attached to: Federal Court Nixes Weeks of Warrantless Video Surveillance

But our rights are endowed by our Creator, and apply to everyone, not just American citizens.

There is an obvious flaw in that argument, namely that there is no such thing as our Creator.

But our rights are endowed by our Creator, and apply to everyone, not just American citizens.

There is an obvious flaw in that argument, namely that there is no such thing as our Creator.

First, can you prove there is no Creator?

Second, if there is none then there is no reason to obey any laws other than because of the immediate consequences caused by man (get arrested), or by the actions themselves (die or be maimed from the impact due to a crash while speeding). That means the "might makes right" approach is logically the result. Is that what you believe and therefore how you live?

How about the case where there is a Creator who now doesn't care about what we do? Then there'd be a Creator and there'd also be no reason to "obey any laws etc".

Unless you manage to get beyond ego-consciousness and realize how interconnected and interdependent we all are. Then you realize that harming others without cause is really an indirect way of harming yourself, both in terms of consequences and in terms of what you become by so doing. Shallow minds miss this because they can see only immediate and obvious effects, and so they believe they ever "get away with" anything. A more mundane form of it is sometimes called enlightened self-interest.

The idea behind "love thy neighbor as thyself" is that you shouldn't have to be told to do it. Those who do it "because God/church/mama said so" are missing the point entirely. The funny thing is, you can only realize how interconnected we are as an individual. It's why the numerous efforts to make it into a doctrine have achieved so little. "The Creator will punish me if I'm bad" is a shallow and childish form of pseudo-morality for people who have to be threatened with punishment before they will behave a certain way. Lawrence Kohlberg lists it as the very most primitive form of moral development.

Comment: Re:So if I've got this right... (Score 1) 440

by causality (#48609931) Attached to: Federal Court Nixes Weeks of Warrantless Video Surveillance

Warrants can be a catch-22. To get a warrant one needs evidence that a crime has been or is beginning committed which is difficult to get if a warrant is needed to gather evidence that a crime has been or is beginning committed. In my opinion anything visible from the street is fair game.

As the saying goes, "it is better for ten guilty men to go free than for one innocent man to be falsely prosecuted". In a slightly different wording this is sometimes called Blackstone's Formulation or Blackstone's Ratio. As that Wiki page explains, this is a much older concept and it's closely tied to the entire notion of a presumption of innocence.

The requirement that cops go through proper procedures, including obtaining warrants, exists to protect you and me. There is no perfect system. There will be errors. The only decision to be made is whether we try to err on the side of imprisoning the innocent, or on the side of acquitting the guilty. The former is much, much better.

If you want a real solution to most of these cases, we need to wake up and realize that nothing confined to consenting adults should ever be a crime. If you're paying attention you will notice two things: these cases are almost entirely drug cases, and that drug prohibition is failing to make drugs scarce. You simply can't tell people how to live. The financial and social costs of trying are far too high, greatly in excess of any good achieved by trying. The US has the highest proportional prison population of any industrialized nation in the world, and the vast majority of those prisoners are there because of drug charges.

Speaking of prisons, when they find a way to keep illegal drugs out of prisons, then and only then can we have a reasonable discussion about keeping them out of general society. Until then, we should recognize that the laws and rulings coming out of prohibition are a threat to the liberty of everyone. The only reason this case was remarkable, the only reason it made a headline, is because this time the court rightly favored following the Constitution over prosecuting a drug criminal. That isn't the way it usually goes. Usually they perform various mental gymnastics to justify the actions of cops, like when using a dog to search your car (using its nose as a substitute for the officer's hands and eyes) is somehow not a search and doesn't require a warrant.

Comment: Re:What? (Score 1) 440

by causality (#48609833) Attached to: Federal Court Nixes Weeks of Warrantless Video Surveillance

The article mentions that the house was in rural Washington. It's entirely possible that the neighbor's house was quite a distance away. My in-laws live in rural western New York on 10 acres of land. They are largely surrounded by farms and forest. It's very common for people to be out shooting guns, especially in hunting season. It's not unusual to hear guns going off, or see people in hunting attire walking along the road or in a field with a firearm. I've also lived in the southern and western US and similar behavior happens there.

Indeed, if you want to do some target practice to achieve proficiency with your weapons, a friend who lives out in the cut is the best way to do it. It beats the hell out of paying shooting-range fees, you can use whatever you want for targets, and you can also practice at longer distances than anything an indoor facility could offer.

Comment: Re:So if I've got this right... (Score 3, Insightful) 440

by causality (#48609623) Attached to: Federal Court Nixes Weeks of Warrantless Video Surveillance

A cop bought a video camera to catch an illegal alien unloading a firearm at bottles on his own porch, among other things...catches the guy, along with a significant drug operation no less...and the court "nixes weeks of warrantless video surveillance" is a GOOD THING? You'll notice they aren't nixing the YEARS of warrantless surveillance that every citizen of the U.S. has been under, nor the YEARS of collusion with friendly nations to extend that surveillance program to every citizen, worldwide. No, they're nixing the one bit of fucking video that might actually have been worth recording in the fucking first place. Footage of a criminal, committing a crime. How novel.

The EFF logo for this story was perfect, "extremely fucking foolish" was the first thought that came to mind.

It's simple enough. This was a local police department in a small rural area, so they were held to the rules. If they were a national agency with an effectively unlimited budget, ties to major military-industrial corporations, and loads of political clout, the courts would have performed some mental gymnatics and invented a bullshit reason why that inconvenient Fourth Amendment doesn't really apply. Currently "anti-terrorism" is popular.

Comment: Re:undocumented immigrant (Score 5, Insightful) 440

by causality (#48609509) Attached to: Federal Court Nixes Weeks of Warrantless Video Surveillance

Why does the fourth amendment apply? If he is not a citizen of the US, our laws shouldn't protect him.

Because the Constitution is a document describing what powers the government has and how these powers may be used. It's like a default-deny firewall: the government has no powers whatsoever, except these enumerated powers. The Constitution is emphatically not a document describing what rights a person (citizen or not) has and when they will be honored.

The document was written based on the idea of "natural rights". You have certain rights simply because you are a human being; the government either recognizes that or it becomes dysfunctional and fails to fulfill its major purpose, which is to protect your natural rights. The Founders (mostly Deists) explained it in terms of us having been "endowed by our Creator" with such rights. You could also remove the Creator-concept entirely and argue that such a system simply works better and does the greatest good for all involved, and thus is inherently superior to systems that reject the concept of natural rights.

You don't have rights merely because the government deigned to let you have them, or decided that depriving you of them wasn't worth the trouble. A system where that's the foundational principle has lost even the pretense of human dignity. That kind of system wouldn't even have to bother with the incremental "hey we have an excuse that sells (protect the children! stop the terrorists!)" encroachment of liberty that we're seeing now. It could just go straight into open tyranny without having all those little baby steps for naive people to ignore.

You may wish to brush up on a little American history, specifically why the Tenth Amendment was written. It affirms that the federal government has only those powers which are delegated to it, with the rest being reserved by the states and the people. I'm all for deporting this guy, by the way. We should either enforce our immigration laws (like Mexico and every other sovereign nation) or repeal them, but if we're going to arrest this man, there's a process that must (and should) be followed.

Comment: Re:We need a whitebox mobile device. (Score 2) 81

by causality (#48205029) Attached to: Raspberry Pi Founder Demos Touchscreen Display For DIY Kits

Problems with that.

Cell frequencies are licensed and pretty much anything that touches those frequencies needs to be fully approved by the FCC.

The carriers aren't going to allow it on their networks.

Presumably the whitebox device would include as core components all of the FCC-approved hardware necessary to use said frequencies. Upgrading the GPU, the amount of RAM, or the battery shouldn't have anything to do with this.

When you build your own PC from separate components, you don't have to worry about whether it can be powered by 60hz AC. The power supplies sold in this country are built to handle the electric supply found in this country and come with all of the UL (etc.) approvals.

Comment: Re:After whast happened to Odroid-w, why? (Score 2) 81

by causality (#48204977) Attached to: Raspberry Pi Founder Demos Touchscreen Display For DIY Kits

Isn't it more important to do cool and interesting things with a computer rather than everything obsessedly being open source?

The idea is that open source and the freedoms that come with it facilitate and ensure that you can continue to do cool and interesting things, often things the original designers didn't think of. It's certainly easier to be creative when you have the full specifications, source code, and documentation. It's easier to share your creativity with others when you can legally redistribute your derived works without violating someone else's copyright.

Obsession with anything is not good; on that I agree. However I haven't seen that in this thread. To cry "obsession" merely because someone points out a controversy isn't helpful (and ironically raises the question of whether you have an obsession with the perceived obsessions of others). All I saw was someone stating that they wish to avoid certain Broadcom hardware because it does not provide the degree of open source access that he or she desired. That people have their own criteria and express a desire to choose products that best suit their own needs is a good thing. Your own priorities being different is not surprising and doesn't indicate fault with anyone else.

"Why should we subsidize intellectual curiosity?" -Ronald Reagan