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Electronic Frontier Foundation

Why No Executive Order To Stop NSA Metadata Collection? 312

Posted by timothy
from the if-the-president-does-it-it's-legal dept.
An anonymous reader links to this editorial at Ars Technica which argues that "As chief executive, Obama has the power to reform the NSA on his own with the stroke of a pen. By not putting this initiative into an executive order, he punted to Congress on an issue that affects the civil liberties of most anybody who picks up a phone. Every day Congress waits on the issue is another day Americans' calling records are being collected by the government without suspicion that any crime was committed. 'He does not need congressional approval for this,' said Mark Jaycoxx, an Electronic Frontier Foundation staff attorney."

Comment: Re:April Fools stories are gay (Score 1) 1482

by harrkev (#46649825) Attached to: OKCupid Warns Off Mozilla Firefox Users Over Gay Rights

Well, we will just have to agree to disagree. However, at least you are willing to look at evidence without resorting to ad hominem attacks. You know what you believe and are actually willing to discuss it logically. I appreciate that.

To put it bluntly, I respect you, although I disagree.

If you ever find yourself in the Colorado Springs area, shoot me an e-mail. I will buy you a beer. We have some truly great micro-breweries around here.

Best of luck to you!

Comment: Re:April Fools stories are gay (Score 1) 1482

by harrkev (#46643973) Attached to: OKCupid Warns Off Mozilla Firefox Users Over Gay Rights

Well you said this:

Regarding Jesus: afaik there's little to no evidence he lived outside of the Bible, which I don't take to be a reliable source.

Well, little to no evidence if you exclude all of the evidence which was enough to convince the scholars. Direct quote from Wikipdedia

Most modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed,[1][2][3] but scholars differ on the historicity of specific episodes described in the Biblical accounts,[4] and the only two events subject to "almost universal assent" are that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and was crucified by the order of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate.[5][6][7]

Feel free to ignore "scholars of antiquity" if you want, but this is their subject of expertise. As to why Jesus "caught on," maybe you should ask yourself why this one "caught on" and not the others. Could it be that there is something to it?

I don't happen to think that eternal torment is a great idea either, but if heaven exists, murderers and child molesters certainly do not belong there. Assuming that souls exist and cannot be destroyed, you could describe the afterlife as "heaven" and "not heaven." God is loving, but another one of his characteristics is justice. Honestly, I am usually a little bit more eloquent, but I have a nasty cold and a rather annoying headache right now, so I will leave it at that.

Comment: Re:Most "executives" are morons (Score 1) 325

by harrkev (#46641709) Attached to: Wants More H-1B Visas, But 50% Go To Offshore Firms

What is even better, there is a current push to welcome the immigrants who come here illegally. I can broadly classify people who want to come to the US into two categories:

1) people who go to the US embassy in their own country, fill out the forms, and wait patiently to get into the US. They try to do things the legal way.

2) People who do not care about the law or the system, and just smuggle themselves here, making their first act in America breaking the law.

Now, guess which one believes should become citizens?

If I had my way, for every person in category 2 above that got deported, I would approve somebody from category 1 to enter the country. The net amount of immigrants stays the same, but we get the ones who actually respect the law.

Comment: Re:April Fools stories are gay (Score 1) 1482

by harrkev (#46641493) Attached to: OKCupid Warns Off Mozilla Firefox Users Over Gay Rights

Oh, a couple of things that I forgot to mention...

Cosmology. Scientists only know about 5% or so of what is actually in the universe. But around 25% of the universe is dark matter, and 70% is dark energy. Nobody has a clue or even a theory about what either one of them are. Well dark energy may be some sort of inflationary field, but fields have particles, and nobody has a clue what this particle is. Dark matter may be what is called a WIMP (weakly-interacting massive particle), but once again, there is not even a theory or a name as to what this particle actually is, and no place in the current theoretical framework to hang it. Another possibility is a lot of brown dwarfs roaming the universe could be the dark matter. Hmmm, if over 80% of all matter is brown dwarfs, I think that we would have seen some evidence so far.

One person to look up is Lee Strobel. Formerly a reporter and an atheist, he decided to investigate Jesus using the same techniques he would to follow any other story... well, as best he could since he is 2000 years removed from the event. He wanted to disprove Christianity, but instead became a Christian. This guy has a law degree from Yale -- not quite an ignorant bumpkin. He wrote some great books.

Comment: Re:April Fools stories are gay (Score 1) 1482

by harrkev (#46641335) Attached to: OKCupid Warns Off Mozilla Firefox Users Over Gay Rights

I figured that I would take some heat from my original post, but I am honesty tired of responding to all of the posts where people are attacking me or questioning me -- especially since the easiest way to respond is by saying "Google it yourself." It is actually nice to see a posting from a person with an open mind.

You do bring up some good points. If I were God, I would do things differently. However, not having the ability to create a universe from nothing, I am rather unqualified for the job.

The "official" response is that we were created perfect, but Adam & Eve screwed it up, so we are ALL screwed. God, however, threw us a life-line. All you have to do to escape is turn from sin and follow Jesus. God's rules, so he can define sin how he wants. Should being gay be a sin? I would tend to exclude that from the list, but it is not my choice.

As to heaven vs. hell, let's look at things differently. If you do assume heaven and hell exist, then who gets to go where? Would you like to think that Hitler is in hell? How about Stallin? Putin? The guy who cut you off in traffic last week? The guy who sold you the broken used hard drive off of CraigsList and told you it was in great shape? Simply stated, if you just judge people on good/evil, where should the dividing line be? What about the person who is just below this imaginary line? How should they feel? To a perfect being, the ONLY line that makes sense is perfection. Nobody lives up to that, so God had to invent an escape plan.

Of course, if there is not God, then this whole argument is stupid. Nobody gets to heaven. So, the first question to ask is "is there a God?" The way that I look at it is that nobody has explained how the universe came into being. For example, there are a lot of things that have to be perfect, from the rate of radioactive decay, the mass of the electron, so the number fo spatial dimensions. Try figuring out gravity in four spatial dimensions -- orbits become impossible. For orbits, the force of gravity has to be proportional to 1/(r^2). If you try 1/(r^3), everything flies apart. In 2D space, 1/r yields everything crashing together immediately.

Some will say that the anthropic principal applies. To me, that does not really make sense. In order for there to be life, you either need to manually fine-tune the universe, or you need an INFINITE number of universes, all with different physical constants, in order to happen upon one that can support life. Are infinite universes possible? Maybe. According to string theory, a big crunch can rebound into a big bang simply by having some of the 11 predicted dimensions expand, while our three spatial dimensions collapse. However, string theory is looking unlikely, as elegant as it is ( ). I have always wanted to believe that gravity would cause a big crunch that would lead to the next big bang. However, current models predict that the universe will continue to expand forever, eventually even ripping apart atoms as everything expands. Where would the next big bang come from then? There is some speculation (a foam of universes, new universes popping up in ours when the density gets too low, etc.), but none of them seem satisfying, and there is not a shred of evidence for any of them.

Believing in God takes a leap of faith. However, believing in infinite universes also takes a similar leap of faith.

I am much more comfortable with physics and cosmology than I am with biology. However, evolution seems somewhat contrived. I have no doubt that if you took a bunch of kids and killed off every blond and brunette, it would be easy to get a population of only redheads. That, however, is only manipulating the distribution of existing genes. Making new genes is another matter. No manner of this type of selection would result in children with naturally purple hair -- that would take entirely new genetic sequences. Yes, in theory, random mutations will occasionally be useful. Seems great on the surface. However, most mutations are harmful, and the really useful traits require lots of genes. There is no single gene that makes the wings of a bird. Feathers are needed for flight because they have a large surface area for their weight. Wings are also needed for flight. Hollow bones help a lot too, as well as tiny light legs, strong breast muscles, and a brain that can handle learning to fly. All of these are necessary (well, maybe you could get by without one or the other). The problem is that any one or two of these traits, by themselves, would likely be a hindrance in survival if you could not fly. How would you possibly get ALL of these traits together at just the right time to fly? If you get the hollow bones first, you die because your bones break to easy. If you get tiny legs and huge breast muscles, you can't run properly, so you get eaten. If you get wings without the right muscles, you can fly and are eaten.

This tends to reinforce my belief in "A" god. So, the next question is why the god of the Bible, and not Allah or Shiva?

To me, it all comes down to Jesus. 2000 years ago, people were not stupid. They did not have science, but they understood people quite well. To run a kingdom (say, Egypt, although that was closer to 5000 years ago), you need to be shrewd, clever, and have a very good social system and good organization. Compared to modern people, the people of 2000 years ago were ignorant on matters of science, but not stupid.

Let's look at the historical Jesus. He lived. He started a religion. He was killed. His followers kept on going even after his death. These facts are not in dispute by anybody. The one question to ask is: " was Jesus God?" Let's look at the possibilities:

1) Jesus was actually killed and was never resurrected. So, this implies that the disciples decided that they liked serving others while being persecuted. Most of the Apostles were actually crucified. They were probably thinking: "Wow. You get to give your money to others, serve others, and eventually get killed in a very long and painful manner. All you have to do is lie about who this dead guy is. Sign me up!" Simply stated, I can find absolutely NO reason to lie about Jesus being resurrected. All down-side, no up-side.

2) Jesus wasn't really dead. The Roman Centurions may not have known science, but they were soldiers. They knew death, having caused lots of them. So, you can be sure that Jesus at least LOOKED like he was dead when removed from the cross. So, skip to the next scene when Jesus shows up in front of the Apostles: " Wow, Jesus. You are resurrected from the dead! Shame about all of the bandages.. and the bruises. Say, what happened to all of the skin on your back? I hope it grows back. When do you think that you will be able to walk again? Whoa, dude. When you barf, try to aim away from my robes. By the way, I sure am glad that you miraculously came back from the dead." Sorry, nobody is stupid enough to believe THAT story.

3) Jesus really is who he said he is. Highly improbable. However, once you have eliminated everything else...

Comment: Re:Sudoku's complexity (Score 1) 44

by harrkev (#46640147) Attached to: Data Mining the Web Reveals What Makes Puzzles Hard For Humans

Well, the ARE right about Sudoku. I can tell you from experience that, sometimes, just looking at a board is not enough. For some configurations of some types of puzzles (sudoku being a great example), you just have to mentally go through the possibilities until you find one that takes you a little further along. If there are 10 possible next steps instead of just one, you only have to search, on average, 1/10 the solution space to get your next move. These results are actually quite obvious once you think about it for a moment.

On the other hand, there are classes of problems where intuition (fuzzy heuristics?) is of some use. In these cases, if you can narrow your search of the state space to get your next move without an exhaustive search, the fact that there is only one next possible move is much less of a handicap.

Comment: Re:April Fools stories are gay (Score 1) 1482

by harrkev (#46639225) Attached to: OKCupid Warns Off Mozilla Firefox Users Over Gay Rights

Huh? The "mothers milk," has to be stretched quite a bit to get to not mixing meat and cheese.

The "man lying with a man" does not have to be stretched at all, unless you assume that people get married so that they can remain celibate... Your arguments are, on the face of it, quite ridiculous -- sort of like when Clinton was trying to define what the word "is" meant. Any further trolling from you will be pleasantly ignored.

As I said, I have nothing against homosexuals. I really don't care what they do. They just have to be told what the Bible says. What they do with that information is their own business.

Comment: Re:April Fools stories are gay (Score 1) 1482

by harrkev (#46639165) Attached to: OKCupid Warns Off Mozilla Firefox Users Over Gay Rights

So, how much have you studied the history of the Bible? You clearly do not know about all of the scholarly work done to translate from the original languages (mostly Greek and Hebrew), the thousand upon thousands of ancient manuscripts, and the care that has been taken to make sure that the modern translations are as accurate as possible. Plus, anybody who wants to can learn Greek and Hebrew and read the originals.

Simply stated, unless you have some evidence that you actually know what you are talking about,, or you can provide links to real sources (not just your own legends and wishful thinking) you have no credibility.

Comment: Re:April Fools stories are gay (Score 1) 1482

by harrkev (#46639097) Attached to: OKCupid Warns Off Mozilla Firefox Users Over Gay Rights

I should like to point out that I have been quite polite and respectful this entire time. YOU are the one who is being hateful and intolerant. Yet I am sure that you consider yourself quite tolerant -- to everybody who agrees with you.

If I were actually using just the parts that I like, we would not be having this discussion since I have no personal problems with homosexuality.

Please, if you are here simply to troll, I would ask that you keep it to yourself.

The person who's taking you to lunch has no intention of paying.