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Comment More information = better sport (Score 4, Interesting) 257

This would be so great for the sport. I am a huge football fan, and for the most part, I feel that NFL referees do a decent job of officiating the game considering the phenomenal pace at which these athletes are moving (flying) around the field. Use of HD-Replay allows them to "get it right" with a rather high percentage.

Think of the potential for this: With just a few modifications, a football can have a chip to detect where it is on the field, at any given timestamp. This can be used to practically guarantee correct calls on scoring plays. Why not take it a step further and have the ship calculate how much pressure is being exerted on the ball from the player holding it (to determine if someone has "possession")?

However, while I feel that technological advances for the sport in general are good (sensors in the ball and on the field, referees with better access to information), I am concerned about what happens if each TEAM gets to use increasingly complex technology because then the league has to provide the same tech to every team in every game. Obviously, if one team has access to superior information/technology that the others don't it is game-breaking. You can't give one coach a live, continuous HD feed from the sky viewing all players on each player (the coveted "All 22" shot) if every coach doesn't have it.

(I just feel the need to soap box here and point out that NBA is a completely different story, as I'm almost certain that [playoff] NBA officiating is absolutely rigged and has been for the last decade.)

Comment Interesting facts. (Score 1) 246

I am a lawyer and a Slashdot regular. I am used to the abuse that my profession receives on these boards. A lot of it is justified. A lot of it is not. The following is not legal advice, but merely my observations.

The rules regulating the Unauthorized Practice of Law in each jurisdiction are among the strictest there are. I happen to agree with them because hiring someone to give you personal legal advice who isn't authorized to practice can -easily- cost you serious money, and at worst, it can effectively ruin your life. It's like that with many professions, although lawyers tend to have the most elaborate rules because, well, they're lawyers. Based on my limited, non-researched knowledge of this situation, I don't think LegalZoom qualifies as "practicing law" simply because the Judge will view it as a complex form database.

This case will hinge on three issues:

1) What constitutes the unauthorized practice of law in Missouri? This issue is easy because there's a statute. From the article: "Missouri's statutes define law practice as, among other things, "the drawing or the . . . assisting in the drawing for a valuable consideration of any paper, document or instrument affecting . . . [legal] rights."

2) Has that statute been interpreted by authority? Yes, there is at least one that favor's LegalZoom's stance. From the article: "On its face that language certainly sounds broad enough to cover what LegalZoom does. But in 1978 the Missouri Supreme Court effectively narrowed that language when it reviewed a case in which Missouri bar authorities sought to punish the sellers of a divorce kit that consisted of nothing but blank legal forms and instruction booklets for filling them out. The court ruled that merely marketing such materials did not amount to practicing law absent "personal advice as to legal remedies or the consequences of flowing therefrom.""

Here's another really interesting Missouri case that seems to disfavor LegalZoom: (1992) Escrow companies may not prepare or complete nonstandard or specialized documents such as contracts for deed, special warranty deeds, leases, lease-purchase agreements, easement agreements, well agreements, trustee deeds, wraparound notes and deeds of trust or any other document that requires the exercise of judgment or discretion, because such activities constitute the practice of law or doing business of law in the state, In re First Escrow, Inc., 840 S.W.2d 839 (Mo. banc).

3) Does LegalZoom "merely market such materials [as blank legal forms and instruction booklets]"? Or does it go so far as to give you "personal advice as to "legal remedies or the consequences..." This is where the case will be decided, and it depends on interpretation. Does bit of code asking a series of X questions qualify as giving personal advice? LegalZoom tends to ask pretty detailed questions that certainly help to refine each customer's needs. Something that asks "How many children do you have" is probably not personalized advice; however, something that asks "How many children do you have? Do you want to create a Trust account for your son? Do you want it to be a Spendthrift trust? What limits will there be on the divestment of funds?... etc." starts bordering on personalized legal advice that "requires the exercise of judgment or discretion" and the consequences therein.

Again I am not qualified to pass a judgment on this case as I have not fully researched the relevant law. I think the judge can rule either way pretty easily. My gut feeling is that this case will be thrown out and there will be no recovery.

Interesting case nonetheless. I figured this would happen in at least one state sometime soon, especially as LegalZoom bigger and their forms got more in-depth.

Comment All this conversation about motives is silly. (Score 1) 456

My God, three trillion dollars. Can you imagine what we could have accomplished had, ten years ago, we took even five hundred billion and decided to develop some massive government project for a Space elevator or a massive electrical grid overhaul or ubiquitous fiber internet? Or a cure for cancer? Or genetic therapy techniques? Or (dare I say it) true, strong, benevolent artificial intelligence? Oh wait I guess that all got washed under the table because we're more worried that someone might have a nail clipper taped to their scrotum while getting on a plane. Security theater.

We (the United States) spent all this money because there were enough people in enough power positions to get really, really, really rich off of it. We pretend it's in the name of "security" or "liberty" or "an Islamic Caliphate" or whatever other crap there is. The reality must be that some people, in the United States, in the Middle East, and in the richest corporations across the world, got way richer. I can't fathom that this was an accident. I can't accept that it's just a coincidence that Dick Cheney used to be CEO of Halliburton, and just HAPPENED to be Vice President of the United States from 2001-2004 when Halliburton got billions in government dollars.

Since the beginning of civilizations, it always has been, and always will be, about the money. Even when it's about the religion, it's still about the money. All the theater we put on about how "evil" the "extremists" in Islam are and how "they hate us for our freedom" and blah blah, it's all crap. It's all about money. Some people with political ties made billions off the trillions spent. It happens all the time, in every culture, across the world, and 9/11 just allowed politicians an excuse to squeeze more money out of the near-bankrupt US system for their own pecuniary/familial/political gain.

I'd rather risk dying in an unexpected terrorist attack if we could have spent a trillion bucks on eliminating most use of fossil fuels in ten years. I'd take the one in a million (or whatever it is) risk getting killed by an "extremist" car bomber if it means we could have had an education system that isn't totally fucked. I'd take that personal trade off without hesitation. But you don't hear about people like me in the news. You hear about the families of the victims of 9/11....

It's always about the money. It always will be about the money. The plutocracy and cronyism is more rampant now than ever before. I mean you don't have to be a crazy conspiracy theorist to accept that it's all about the money. Just recently, Meredith Attwell Baker, an FCC commissioner who just voted to approve the Comcast-NBC merger, just agreed to take a job at the new Comcast-NBC corporation. Can it get any more transparent?

Comment Kurzweil is wrong, but read it in context (Score 1) 830

I read TFA, and I read the link that TFA pointed to. I think alot of readers are taking what PZ Myers said in the wrong context. Myers seems to be saying: "Kurzweil is wrong because his methods are wrong and therefore we won't be able to simulate the brain in a computer in a decade." I agree with him that Kurzweil is wrong about his methods. I disagree with Myers on his claim that just because Kurzweil is wrong, the goal is not attainable in a decade.

Kurzweil doesn't explicitly say that we'll be able to reverse engineer the human brain because it will run on only "1 million lines of code." What he probably meant to say is that we'll do it in 10 years because all the other factors that will go into it (increase in brain scanning technology, computer simulations, computing power etc.) will allow us to reach that point in 10 years. The original Gizmodo/Wired article which TFA article points to includes Kurzweil's claim that we "only need 25 MB, or a million lines of code" to simulate the human brain. While that (admittedly incorrect) element is part of Kurzweil's argument, it doesn't necessarily negate a claim that we'll still be able to build simulations of the brain in a decade.

The original Wired/Gizmodo article that PZ Myers points to is focused on the ability to emulate the software of the cortex within a supercomputer.

The key to reverse-engineering the human brain lies in decoding and simulating the cerebral cortex - the seat of cognition. The human cortex has about 22 billion neurons and 220 trillion synapses. A supercomputer capable of running a software simulation of the human brain doesn't exist yet. Researchers would require a machine with a computational capacity of at least 36.8 petaflops and a memory capacity of 3.2 petabytes - a scale that supercomputer technology isn't expected to hit for at least three years, according to IBM researcher Dharmendra Modha. Modha leads the cognitive computing project at IBM's Almaden Research Center. By next year, IBM's ‘Sequoia' supercomputer should be able to offer 20 petaflops per second peak performance, and an even more powerful machine will be likely in two to three years. "Reverse-engineering the brain is being pursued in different ways," says Kurzweil. "The objective is not necessarily to build a grand simulation - the real objective is to understand the principle of operation of the brain." Reverse engineering the human brain is within reach, agrees Terry Sejnowski, head of the computational neurobiology lab at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. Sejnowski says he agrees with Kurzweil's assessment that about a million lines of code may be enough to simulate the human brain.

That last line is probably wildly incorrect, but it doesn't really change the basis of the argument. It's not infeasible that we could reach this in a decade. Look at this TED talk from 2009: where Henry Markram claims he's able to simulate a single neocortical column on a neuronal level in a supercomputer.

Now go back to TFA:

I'll make a prediction, too. We will not be able to plug a single unknown protein sequence into a computer and have it derive a complete description of all of its functions by 2020. Conceivably, we could replace this step with a complete, experimentally derived quantitative summary of all of the functions and interactions of every protein involved in brain development and function, but I guarantee you that won't happen either. And that's just the first step in building a simulation of the human brain derived from genomic data. It gets harder from there.

PZ Myers is probably correct about that: we won't be able to plug in an amino acid sequence into a computer and then figure out what it looks like in 3D, and how it interacts on a molecular scale. But that argument doesn't negate the fact that we are still making incredible strides in understanding the hardware and software of the Human Brain. It just proves that Kurzweil doesn't know what he's talking about as to HOW we'll be able to simulate it. I think it's wrong of PZ Myers to dismiss the entirety of the project and the rest of the neuroscience community that's working on this project and have an optimistic goal for it simply because Ray Kurzweil came out in support of it with his incorrect logic.

Comment Re:Lack of judicial experience used to be common (Score 1) 618

I'm just gonna hijack your conversation here because my perspective on law school and lawyering seems like it could be relevant.

I have an undergraduate degree (B.S.) in Biochemistry/Molecular Biology. I applied to law school after becoming disillusioned by watching my biochemistry mentor do his incredibly slow, boring, tedious work. I took a business law class that I really liked, said, what the hell, took the LSAT, earned my J.D. and now three years later I just took the Florida Bar. (I get my results back sometime late September).

Law school is nothing like I expected, and it's nothing like most people expect. In my experience, the first year of law school can basically be described as academic hazing. All your classes are as early as possible and you have a mandatory, huge courseload. Professors call on you and try to put you on the spot in front of your peers. They assign you hundreds of pages of reading monotonous, tedious, boring opinions. The second and third year is different, because you get to choose more specific courses, but for the most part you're still doing the same kind of work.

My point is, what you learn in law school is how to read legal arguments written by judges over the last two hundred years and absorb it. Most of the time you're not actually learning the "law," (the "precedents" you spoke of in the GP) because the "law" for each subject can probably be summarized in a short 30-200 page outline for each (which is, indeed, what you acquire when you study for the Bar exam). Law school itself teaches you how to read, write, think, and argue almost all issues in both ways. Law school also gives you a perspective on how to write and form legal arguments based on defining a specific issue and then breaking up that issue into it's component elements, and then thoroughly analyzing each component element with relevant authority, precedent, policy, and other forms of persuasive arguing. I know it sounds fairly simple as described here, but trust me when I say it really can take months if not years to acquire a knack for it.

Obviously I'm biased, having just taken a bar exam and hoping that I can soon call myself a lawyer, but I do not think it's a good idea to have non-lawyers on the Supreme Court. The reason I say this is because to understand how to form a legal opinion, you need an understanding of how to form legal arguments in the first place. You also need a deep, solid understanding of how the government works on all levels, which mandates that you must understand the monstrous, chaotic beast that is Constitutional Law in itself. That alone could consume your entire life. What was suggested earlier:

But having 5-7 lawyers/judges to provide the structure and training to guide debate, and 2-4 non-lawyers to provide different viewpoints is fairly safe.

just doesn't work in practice, because when they would speak about "their opinion" on the matter, it wouldn't be based in any type of legal foundation. It would simply be a layperson's opinion on the matter.

One of the most interesting things for me nowadays is explaining certain legal concepts to my non-lawyer peers. Most of the time, they wind up convoluting things that don't bear on a particular issue and they form arguments that aren't "legally" relevant just because they feel like it's the right thing to do. There's a place for that, but it's not something you want to invite behind a judge's bench.

I will conceded one definite point: the fact that law school teaches you to argue issues both ways means that lawyers (and judges) can easily construe a statute or one of it's provisions, phrases, clauses, or whatever in anyway that would best benefit their own self beliefs. And THAT is a problem. But by the same token, many times you need that kind of balance in order to provide an objective viewpoint.

IMO, what would be best for the Supreme Court are intelligent lawyers with a well-rounded education, who are politically and religiously neutral and are immune from political influence. But you will probably never find that, and if you do, they would definitely not be appointed by a politically-motivated president/congress. Yeah, it'd be nice if all the Justices were also accomplished computer scientists, chemists, artists, engineers, farmers, and doctors, but then they "wouldn't be qualified" in the eyes of the Senate.

Furthermore, just because I've learned a legal precedent in the past doesn't mean I'm obliged to agree with it and always argue for it. Judges (and lawyers) don't always follow legal precedent. That's why stuff gets overturned. Judges follow laws and they also follow policy decisions because it's in their interest to defer to congress, not to override congress, unless they've overstepped their bounds. Judges take into account a lot of intangible things that probably just seems like lawyer-speak nonsense to a laymen but is part of being fair and balanced. That's part of being a good judge. I personally think (and since /. comments aren't deleted, I know this may one day come back to bite me in the ass) that the Commerce Clause has been too broadly construed since Wickard v. Filburn, and congress should be brought back in check. But I'm an originalist, and in my experience reading and learning Con Law and reading the Federalist Papers and whatnot I just can't imagine Thomas Jefferson or James Madison EVER thinking that the Federal Government would have the power to regulate something like cannabis.

BUT, if forced to, I could argue that it could.

Comment Re:lulz (Score 1) 618

The question was whether or not it is Constitutional for Congress to pass a law requiring Americans to eat three vegetables and three fruits a day. I know this, the men who wrote the Constitution would have had no problem giving a short, quick "No" to that. Anyone who cannot see that any law like that results in requiring Americans to eat three vegetables and three fruits a day is unconstitutional, should not be in any position of governmental authority. The reason she hemmed and hawed when she answered that question is because she could imagine that such a law might be Constitutional under certain circumstances (she didn't know what circumstances, but she could imagine that there might be).

A law like that could easily pass constitutional muster under the Commerce Clause.

I'm not saying it would pass political scrutiny, or even a "giggle test" for that matter... but the Commerce Clause? Absolutely. SCOTUS decided 6-3 that someone growing marijuana, for medical use, in their own home, not for sale, at all, is allowed to be regulated by the Commerce Clause. (See Gonzales v. Raich, 545 U.S. 1 (2005)).

I can therefore EASILY see SCOTUS writing a 60 page opinion on there being a "nexus" between food consumed at home and interstate commerce. People consuming more fruit and vegetables will have an effect on the dynamic national market for fruits and vegetables, and the market is interstate, so there you go.

P.S. this is Clarence Thomas' dissent to the case, which I find riveting:
"Respondents Diane Monson and Angel Raich use marijuana that has never been bought or sold, that has never crossed state lines, and that has had no demonstrable effect on the national market for marijuana. If Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything – and the federal Government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers.[9]"

Comment Re:Broken? More like fixed. (Score 1) 773

I strongly disagree with this post.

Technically, Jefferson did the Louisiana purchase with a direct citation to the constitution, because he (and congress!) set it up as a Treaty, which the President does have the authority to do under the constitution, Article 2, section 2.

It may not be as "easy or good as it sounds in theory" but i think you're missing the point of what the Constitution does(did?) for this nation. Citing the Louisiana purchase and then following it with "in practical terms limiting the government to just the constitution isn't as easy or as good as it sounds in theory" defecates all over the idea of what Jefferson and the founding fathers were trying to do from the very beginning.
The United States Constitution was the first document to spell out absolute terms of a limited government. It is our highest law. It is the very essence of this nation. It is designed to be adhered to absolutely and there is an rigorous process in place to amend it. This is not some accident. It's not something Jefferson, James Madison and all the others thought about lightly and it's not something that they figured will be able to be worked around because it's not practical. The fact that it is interpreted loosely now isn't because there was some major epiphany about the practicality or "goodness" of limiting government, it is because of a history of Supreme court cases which stemmed from politically motivated ideals in the New Deal era.
The power of the federal government didn't grow to what it is now with the Louisiana Purchase. The power of the federal government grew slowly throughout the early 20th century, accelerated during the New Deal, and then exploded in 1942, when the Supreme Court decided Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U.S. 111 (1942). The Supreme Court took that case and broadly interpreted the Commerce Clause of the constitution so that the Federal Government can then regulate practically anything they want. For the next five decades, the Supreme Court interpreted the commerce clause to allow congress to regulate (more or less) whatever they want because anything they regulate "could have an effect on interstate commerce." This is the basis of gun regulation, The Controlled Substances Act, many of our anti-segregation laws, etc. etc. It wasn't until the Rehnquist court decided US v. Lopez (1995) that congress has some limitation on using the Interstate Commerce Clause to decide what it can regulate. This is now interpreted as a limitation on the power of congress to use the Interstate Commerce Clause, which, in my opinion, is a severe perversion of what the system was initially set up to do.

No, it's not as easy to limit the federal government to "just the constitution" in theory. But who says it's not good? How do we know? I sure don't, because I've never lived in a system like that. I doubt you have either, because as far as I know, it hasn't existed in fifty years.

Thomas Jefferson would be absolutely appalled at what the US Federal Government has become.

"To preserve the republican forms and principles of our Constitution and cleave to the salutary distribution of powers which that has established... are the two sheet anchors of our Union. If driven from either, we shall be in danger of foundering." --Thomas Jefferson to William Johnson, 1823. ME 15:452

Comment Re:Not if we create chicken killing meat-bots (Score 5, Informative) 820

It's the second law of thermodynamics.

Any type of living tissue is ALWAYS using more free energy than it will produce.

It requires energy input to do any of its processes (pushing against chemical gradients, synthesizing complex organic molecules, etc). The net value of energy that you could collect through any type of muscle contraction is always less than the amount of energy you had to put in to cause that muscle to flex. Actin and myosin fibers sliding over each other require ATP to change their conformations properly, and ATP is created through biochemical metabolic pathways that are not 100% efficient. You always lose energy to heat. That's why you need to eat everyday.

It's the very essence of entropy.

Comment Re:So let me get this straight.. (Score 1) 493

>>>So to whom would *you* give this authority?

According to Jefferson, the 50 States assembled in constitutional convention. I would take this one step further, and rather than have the U.S. policing itself (like we have now), I'd create a separate Constitutional Council whose delegates are selected by the 50 Legislatures (and which selection can be recalled at any time). The sole purpose would be to take signed laws from the president, review them, and declare them "constitutional" or "unconstitutional".

In other the U.S. would be policed by the States which had initially created it.

You seem to be proposing a new type of check on the federal government by allowing EACH invididual state a representative, and then having this council being the ultimate arbiter of constitutionality. What a novel idea: a genuine federal republic of independent States whereby the States have the ultimate power check on the feds! The irony is that that is how the government is supposed to be set up. Except it hasn't really existed like that since the Reconstruction era.

Well, no, that's kind of a lie, it existed until FDR and the New Deal. It existed until the federal government and SCOTUS decided that the Commerce Clause means that the federal government can make any law they want. And that's where it is now. I know this sounds like hyperbole, but if you examine the legal history of the supreme court over the last 75 years you'll see the general trend is just that the federal government grabs more and more power from individual states. This varies up and down every couple of years or generationally. Then every now and then we get a decision like US v. Lopez when everyone steps back for a second, and then the trend continues onwards towards more centralized government power. The 75-year trend towards centralizing power and robbing states from any independence is overwhelming. It's fueled by propaganda, special interest groups, The War on Drugs, corporate sponsorship promoting anti-competitive legislation, hate-mongering, fear-mongering, "THINK OF THE CHILDREN", and on and on and on. On top of everything, it's clearly been accelerating in the past 10 years to levels it's never reached before.

I rarely comment on /. but this post just struck me. I feel like a drastic change like the one you suggested would be the only way to restore the republic. Unfortunately, There is no way to do this. It would be a restriction on the federal government. The power to restrict the Federal government comes from the constitution. The power to interpret the constitution is granted to the Supreme Court, BY the Supreme Court, which is fundamentally (contrary to whatever image they try to portray) part of the Federal Government. This is how the system works now.

Comment Re:Let me say.... (Score 1) 343

IANAL, but I am a 3rd year law student and I know alot about this topic. This is the way the US government gets around the US constitution: Congress gets power to regulate ALMOST ANYTHING THEY WANT by the Interstate Commerce Clause. The supreme court has essentially explicitly allowed this since the New Deal era. In fact, since the 1940s there are only probably a handful of cases where the Supreme Court deemed something to be unconstitutional via the interstate commerce clause- almost every other time they say that it falls within interstate commerce and they can regulate it. This is the basis of regulation of Drugs, guns, etc. of which the authority was not granted to them by the US constitution. In addition, the current body of administrative law basically allows organizations like the EPA, the FCC, the FDA, the FTC, the SEC etc. to make their enforceable laws because they are organizations created by a congressional statute, and therefore are supposed to an "extension" of congress itself. Now, do not quote me on that. They are NOT a direct extension of congress and there are THOUSANDS UPON THOUSANDS of pages with legal discussion of the non-delegation doctrine. [the idea that congress can't shuffle it's responsibilities to another branch of government or another organization]. However, for all intents and purposes, the non-delegation doctrine is dead and these organizations are allowed to make law. This is the country we live in today. Cynical moment: The only thing that law school has taught me: the US constitution is fucking dead.

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