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Comment: Re:Why I vote Democrat (Score 3, Insightful) 50

Now that I've got my flip answer out of the way, it's probably best that I don't leave your little talking points unaddressed.
(UPDATE: Comboman's response is probably wittier and more concise - someone send 'em a gold star please. But I went to the trouble to type all this, so I'm going to post it anyways. It's the internet way.)

I vote Democrat because I believe it’s okay if our federal government borrows $85 Billion every single month.

Yup. Years of neglect have left our infrastructure in a sorry state, inherited wars cost money(!), and let's not even talk about the shitpile that was the economy. When Bush II handed over the reins. (A resounding win for Financial deregulation, wouldn't you say?)

I vote Democrat because I care about the children but saddling them with trillions of dollars of debt to pay for my bloated leftist government is okay.

This is really the same as the last one, but hey, it's still better than inventing evidence and starting a war that result in the deaths of ~4,500 of our kids, and maiming or otherwise injuring ~32,000 more (and totally ignoring the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi citizens as a result of said war).

I vote Democrat because I believe it’s better to pay billions of dollars to people who hate us rather than drill for our own oil, because it might upset some endangered beetle or gopher.

Last I checked, we'd rather reduce our dependence on oil altogether (By jump-starting the wind and solar industries in the US), but big oil and coal has been lobbying like there's no tomorrow to prevent that.

I vote Democrat because I believe it is okay if liberal activist judges rewrite the Constitution to suit some fringe kooks, who would otherwise never get their agenda past the voters.

No worries, the conservatives engage in plenty of this too, especially in cases involving the 2nd ammendment and abortion rights (Hobby lobby decision was decided by 5 men who were conservative Catholics).

I vote Democrat because I believe that corporate America should not be allowed to make profits for themselves or their shareholders. They need to break even and give the rest to the federal government for redistribution.

Dude, you are crazy. No company should be able to avoid paying taxes through financial sleight of hand, but really, you think GE is paying too much tax for the benefits of being an american corporation? Apple?

I vote Democrat because I’m not concerned about millions of babies being aborted, so long as we keep all of the murderers on death row alive.

As opposed to that other party, who preaches the sanctity of life, but is giddy to kill inmates.

I vote Democrat because I believe it’s okay if my Nobel Peace Prize winning President uses drones to assassinate people, as long as we don’t use torture.

Guess what? Most humans don't think that anyone should either engage in torture, or send drones to kill other humans. Shocking! One of two is a reasonable start, and we're working on the other one. At least we don't have Bush/Cheny in charge any more, they were fine with both.

I vote Democrat because I believe people, who can’t accurately tell us if it will rain on Friday, can predict the polar ice caps will melt away in ten years if I don’t start driving a Chevy Volt.

You do know the difference between climatology and meteorology, right? It's like the difference between socialism and communism (or patriotism and fascism, if you swing that way.) The later is a tiny subset of the former.

I vote Democrat because Freedom of Speech is not as important as preventing people from being offended.

Aw, here you're just trying to stir things up. I'm pretty sure the courts have a well-used system in place for determining what is protected speech (however offensive), and what is not. Most judges aren't elected, last I checked.

I vote Democrat because I believe the oil companies’ profit of 3% on a gallon of gas is obscene, but the federal government taxing that same gallon of gas at 15% isn’t obscene.

Hmm, the federal gas tax has been 18.4 cents per gallon since 1993. Gas is about $3.80 per gallon where I currently am, which the tax at just under 5%. Oil company profits vary, but that "free market" thing keeps them down to a reasonable level - the government doesn't limit profit, unless you collude with others to circumvent that "free market" thing.

I vote Democrat because I believe a moment of silent prayer at the beginning of the school day constitutes government indoctrination and an intrusion on parental authority .. but sex education, condom distribution and multiculturalism are all values-neutral.

Last I checked, the US government never required a prayer at the beginning of every school day. Also, if your parents are too gutless to tell you how your body works/reproduces, someone should do it before your hormones lead you into a situation that may dramatically change your life plans.

I vote Democrat because I agonize over threats to the natural environment from CO2, acid rain and toxic waste .. but I am totally oblivious of the threats to our social environment from pornography, promiscuity and family dissolution.

Hmm. Last I checked, democrats wanted to be cautious with respect to the environment (we've only got one), and pornography is acceptible for adults, promisciity is a personal freedom question, and family dissolution is unfortunate (We try to offer helpful services, but then the conservatives accuse us of wasting money. (is it just me, or are they playing both ends of that game?))

I vote Democrat because I believe lazy, uneducated stoners should have just as big a say in running our country as entrepreneurs who risk everything and work 70 hours per week.

Yep. One vote per person. You have another system you'd like to propose?

I vote Democrat because I don’t like guns .. so no one else should be allowed to own one.

We have no problem with people responsibly owning guns for accepted purposes (hunting, sport, etc). We do have a problem with owning guns that are designed to kill people as quickly as possible (For reference, RPGs are "arms" too, but no one is arguing that people should be able to get those without a background check.)

I vote Democrat because I see absolutely no correlation between welfare and the rise of illegitimacy.

You may be confusing correlation and causation. Care to clarify?

I vote Democrat because I see absolutely no correlation between judicial leniency and surging crime rates.

The alternative is paying for long incarcerations of minor offences, Mr. Big Govt

I vote Democrat because I believe you don’t need an ID to vote but you do to buy beer.

Yeah, needing an ID to buy beer is pretty stupid.

I vote Democrat because I believe marriage is obsolete, except for homosexuals.

Well, on one hand, I don't think the government should be limiting interpersonal contracts to definitions developed by the clergy, and on the other hand, we should be fair; I can't justifiably recognize one religion's definition and ignore anothers.

I vote Democrat because I think AIDS is spread by insufficient funding.

Nah, we all know that it's dirty dicks and needles. But condoms, meds, needle exchanges, and education sure slow things down.

I vote Democrat because I think “fairness” is far more important than freedom.

I rarely see these in conflict, except when someone says he deserves the freedom to treat someone unfairly.

I vote Democrat because I think an “equal outcome” is far more important than equal opportunity.

You mixed that up a bit, we want equal opportunity, even for those who have some disadvantages (like poverty or race). As for equal outcomes, I think the old saw applies: you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.

I vote democrat because I would rather hide in a class room while others fight for my freedom.

WTF? Bush II had a cushy post in the Texas Air National Guard while Kerry's PT boat was being shot at.

I vote democrat because I’m not smart enough to own a gun and I need someone else to protect me.

What can I say, except whoever came up with the idea for the Dept. of homeland security was a jackass and a moron.

I vote democrat because I would rather have free stuff than freedom.

Would you belive that I didn't know this was an issue?

And lastly, I vote Democrat because I’m convinced that government programs are the solution to the human condition, NOT freedom.

You are, of course, free to move to Somalia, where there are no government programs to interfere with your freedoms. I'll even contribute towards your plane ticket.

Also, I'm totally shocked that you didn't mention immigration. Please let me know what democrats want here, and I'll be happy to swing right back at'cha.

Comment: Re:Anyone want to buy a bridge? (Score 2) 128

by coldfarnorth (#46770919) Attached to: Lavabit Loses Contempt Appeal

Very interested in this... it will set precedents I think..

Wrong. This was decided solely based on precedent. If you RTFA, the issue is that Lavabit attempted to raise arguments in the appeal that were not raised in the initial case (and in some cases, were directly counter to some of Lavabit's statements). ANY other decision would have broken with precedents, some of them long established. So, there's no precedent worth noting here. The judge explicitly said that the potential ramifications of the case are still unclear and need further litigation (which Lavabit has the option to do) before longstanding rules are ignored on Lavabit's behalf.

This is Yet Another Example Of Why You Should Hire a Good Lawyer When Dealing With The Feds In Court. If Lavabit had good advice at the earlier hearings, this appeal could have been much more interesting, and might well have gone the other way.

And for your other comments:
1) Bullshit. It's no more your SSL key than the IP used in your cell phone is yours. In fact it was Lavabit's SSL key, (Pay attention to this next part) AND THEY USED THE SAME KEY TO ENCRYPT TRAFFIC FROM ALL USERS OF THE MAIL SERVICE - not the brightest idea, hmmmmm? And as a general note: Your ignorance of the details does not mean that the world works the way you wish it would.
2) Contempt orders serve a valid purpose. You do not appear to know what that is. We can discuss your opinions on Contempt orders when you demonstrate otherwise.
3) RTFA. The Gov't is not required to do more, and if they did, you'd be bitching and moaning about their use of your tax dollars, the breed of puppy used, or inflation, respectively.
4) RTFA. The government requested the key because Lavabit was sending them encrypted data. They had the statutory authority to require Lavabit to provide all necessary help to retrieve unencrypted data, and since Lavabit was not providing it unencrypted, they asked for the appropriate key.

For the record: Lavabit could have avoided a lot of this posturing, and risked compromising fewer people, if it had used different encryption keys for different users - but they didn't . . .

Comment: Groaning all the way (Score 2) 386

by coldfarnorth (#46756965) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: How Do You Pay Your Taxes?

I use an accountant. Thankfully, I was ahead of the game this year and got everything filed a month ago.

But the worst part is getting the letter from the IRS saying that they'd adjusted my refund by $30 due to some minor error.

My feelings on the matter:
"If you knew how much money I was supposed to send in, WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME IN THE &@#$ING FIRST PLACE! It could have saved everyone time, money and trouble."

Comment: It's a mixed bag (Score 1) 737

by coldfarnorth (#46743699) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Are You Apocalypse-Useful?

Particle Physicists would probably be SOL.
Hedge fund managers and investment bankers too (bless their hearts).
Lawyers will probably survive longer than anyone really wants.

As for most useful: it's pretty clear that anyone who already lives off the grid is going to be way better off than the rest of us. The Amish, subsistence fishermen/hunters, and pretty much anyone who lives in Small-Town Alaska or Northern Canada will probably be fine.

Let's be honest: if there ever is a nightmare scenario, what's really going to matter is your ability to stay protected during the adjustment period:
People who have no skills and no protection will starve. (Culls)
People with no skills and sufficient ammunition will attempt to take whatever they can. (Bandits)
People with skills and no protection will be exploited or killed (Golden goose syndrome).
People with skills and sufficient protection will be a the seeds of the next civilization.

Keep that in mind. Your skill set is necessary, but not sufficient for surviving long enough to rebuild a civilization. The community you belong to is absolutely critical.

Comment: Re:Obligatory Quote (Score 1) 583

by coldfarnorth (#44005861) Attached to: Snowden's Big Truth: We Are All Less Free

Humans have always had arms. (Aside: that may one of the first things that distinguished us from other apes - our remarkable ability to turn anything into a weapon, despite our lack of sharp teeth, claws or other "natural" equipment to be used for attack or defense.)

But I digress - It wasn't until we developed more powerful arms that could not be easily copied using found materials that we started to see restrictions on people having arms. The goal of the second amendment was to ensure that the population could not be disarmed through legal methods, then easily subjugated by force.

Comment: Google can help you here. (Score 1) 768

by coldfarnorth (#43940167) Attached to: Seeking Fifth Amendment Defenders

For reference, here is the text of the 5th amendment:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

So, to be clear, you only appear to be interested in one portion of it, the self-incrimination clause.

The purpose of this amendment, as written, was to prevent the government from abusing the legal process in such a way that no private individual could reasonably expect to prevail. All of the things that are prohibited in this amendment, were things that had actually happened to the colonists or their recent ancestors in England, so the concern was a very real one.

Let's take a brief break, and let me get something out of the way: You say "It would be disturbing to think that we've built a whole legal edifice in the United States (and many other countries) on a "right" that has no rational basis." - But you haven't done the most basic of research to discover what that is. Here's a link (PDF warning) to a examination of the events that led to the existence of the self-incrimination clause of the 5th amendment: http://scholarship.law.wm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3341&context=wmlr Because you have said that links constitute a fail, (which is foolish of you), I will summarize:

In 15th and 16th century England, people were accused of a crime (Frequently it was that they were not strictly holding to the beliefs of Anglicism, which was interpreted as interpreted as treason against the King or Queen). When brought before a judicial authority, an oath was applied requiring that they answer all questions truthfully and completely - even if it incriminated themselves.

Then, one of two things would occur:

1) A fishing expedition, where questions would be asked until something was revealed that was a offence deemed worthy of punishment. (Damned if you do)
2) A refusal to take the oath. This was interpreted as directly denying the authority of the monarch (who had ostensibly given permission for such questions to be asked), and a charge of treason would be leveled, usually with a disproportionate punishment. (Damned if you don't)

So the end result was that the accused receives punishment. There was little possibility for a good outcome.

The 5th amendment exists to prevent the threat of disproportionate punishment for not answering questions from compelling a person to answer questions. It also prohibits the government from using a $5 wrench (http://xkcd.com/538/) on you - it follows directly from this amendment that the use of torture to compel information which could incriminate you is prohibited. (A prohibition against torture as a form of punishment is covered under the 8th amendment.)

---------------------

Now, to answer your questions:

The outcome in the world where we do have the Fifth Amendment, is clearly different from the outcome in a hypothetical world where the Fifth Amendment does not exist, even while holding all other assumptions constant.

        You cannot be specifically punished (beyond the crime of which you have been found guilty) for refusing to testify. Without the 5th amendment, that would not be true.

The outcome in the "Fifth Amendment" world is better than the outcome in the "no Fifth Amendment" world:

        Less use of $5 wrenches. Here's a test: If the outcome in a 5th amendment world is no better than the non-5th amendment world, why do people invoke it? Our justice system places a heavy emphasis on the presumption of innocence, and this clause exists to ensure that a person innocent of a crime would not have to provide the court with damaging knowledge that might wrongly result in a conviction.

The "benefit" can't be something that benefits all suspects equally, whether they're innocent, guilty of violating a just law, or guilty of violating an unjust law. Several people have brought up to me the example of the McCarthy hearings, when those being questioned cited the Fifth Amendment as the basis for refusing to answer red-hunt questions.

The "benefit" can't be something that exists separately from the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. I've had it suggested to me that without the Fifth Amendment, the police would just beat people into confessing. But of course the right not to be beaten by the police is separate from the right to remain silent.

        You are wrong about this. The text of interest is this: "nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself". If you examine the appropriate definition of "compel" you will see that the 5th amendment specifically prohibits the use of threats, torture, or other methods of compulsion to get a person to testify against themselves. The right not to be beaten with the intent to compel answers is explicitly the purpose of this amendment

If the argument has major implications for the competency of the courts generally, then address those implications. This is not really a "pass/fail" criterion, because implications can be open-ended.

        A few things to keep in mind: With enough compulsion, the accused can be made to admit anything. We place great weight on confessions. If we are permitted to compel confessions, a prosecutor can simply wait (while the accused is "compelled" ) until they have a confession that fits the their version of the story, and present it to a jury. In effect, the 5th amendment prevents the prime witness from lying to the court. If you don't thing this has implications for the competency of the courts, then we're done here.

Comment: Re:Need to Be Careful (Score 1) 426

by coldfarnorth (#43804513) Attached to: A Cold Look at Cold Fusion Claims: Why E-Cat Looks Like a Hoax

Also, you're taking the wrong tack: you should submit both sets of claims to the same level of scrutiny.

As it happens, Evolution and the Billion-Plus-Year-Old universe also has a lot more evidence supporting it than special creation. Just be cause you aren't aware of the evidence doesn't mean that your pet theory is better supported.

Comment: Re:Oh well (Score 1) 150

by coldfarnorth (#43495229) Attached to: Google Apps Suffering Partial Outage

Huh. You know that IT folks can make bad decisions without a CEO's help, right? And really, when was the last time you really wanted the CEO making policy decisions for the IT department.

If you are in the unfortunate position of having to justify more spending to mitigate risks, the best policy is usually just to warn the CEO of the risks in writing. Add dollar signs to make sure they are paying attention: "In the event of a failure, recovery costs are likely to excede $###,### per failure. This risk appears to justify the cost of purchasing and installing XYZ equipment."

Contrary to popular belief, CEOs are not to blame for every corporate disaster. Good luck.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it." - Bert Lantz

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