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Comment Will the Real Constitution Please Stand? (Score 1) 503

I for one had never heard of a "Constitution Party" and was excited at the prospect, but greatly disappointed when I read their platform. Why is abortion such an important issue to them? The Constitution never even hinted at a position on the issue. In my opinion the founding fathers probably would have supported eugenics (that is, forced sterilizations and abortions) like most everyone before 1940. And I would have thought that if they intended to define marriage as between one man and one woman, they would have done so; they probably never thought the government would get that involved in marriage anyway (and another part of their platform, the abolition of federal income tax, would seem to negate anyway the strongest reason for the government to care).

I'm also terribly concerned by their seeming insistence that the constitution was perfect when it was written and has since then been corrupted by amendments and Supreme Court decisions. If the founding fathers thought they were creating a perfect document, they wouldn't have created a process for amendment or a Supreme Court. We might be better off with the system of government we had in 1800, but I don't think anybody should support failing to learn from our mistakes.

Oh, and what the bloody hell is up with the God stuff? They know that Jefferson was a deist right? That the founding fathers could best be described as agnostics in the era of rationalism, using language inherited from a Christian legacy to describe purely secular ideas? I'm pretty sure that even though the Declaration of Independence (which by the way isn't actually part of the constitution anyway and had to do with independence from Britain, not at all to do with individual independence) said we believed our "creator" endowed us all with certain inalienable rights, they didn't bother to bring in a scripture reference and in fact there is no scripture to support that statement. It's an 18th century rationalist idea. Nothing in the constitution is informed by Christianity.

Comment Re:Dems vs Reps (Score 1) 503

No, the original still applies, because if you're not rich under Republicans you don't have enough money to do what you want anyway, and regardless of the party around the rich people can't do whatever they want in the bedroom 'cause we have tabloids.

Comment Re:Social Conservative Christians (Score 1) 503

all because of values written in a book of iron age myth.

I have to take issue with this. I've been learning about Christianity lately and heard something surprisingly true, the source of which I can't remember: the majority of so-called "Christian" beliefs have no basis in the bible and are entirely rooted in tradition. Jesus hates fags? No, Jesus said exactly nothing on the subject. Creation story is huge and important? Well, no, it takes about three paragraphs in perhaps the largest book ever written; hardly the most important part. The whole Christmas story? Theologians almost universally agree that there's no chance Jesus was born in winter; the wise men arrived several months after the birth; the birth itself isn't even mentioned in two out of four of the books of the Gospel; this holiday was definitely far less important than Easter for early Christians, if observed at all, until it got merged with Yuletide to bring those savage northern European pagans into the faith. Over half the things that Benjamin Franklin said are wrongly attributed to Jesus.

What's my point? That all of this shit you're saying is coming from "a book of iron age myth" really comes from traditionally held non-Biblical beliefs. Firstly, all of the old testament laws in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, including the only references to homosexuality, were essentially struck down for non-Jews in the New Testament book of Acts (the apostles decided that gentiles need not become Jews - and be circumcised and subject to Jewish law - in order to become Christians). The remainder of the Old Testament is a combination of the history of the old state of Israel and plenty of stories about trusting God no matter how scary, dangerous, or ridiculous God's way seems to be. There are also a few prophecies at the end describing the coming of Jesus (though not by that name), which some of the Gospels went to great pains to show had come to pass.

The overarching theme of the bible is that God is love. The two things are actually one thing. Even the bloody salvation narrative of relatively modern origin - that you can be saved from eternal damnation simply by accepting Jesus into your life, being coated by the blood of that innocent soul and therefore appearing innocent yourself (in my opinion a seriously butchered interpretation) - has at its core the idea that God made a great sacrifice (his son) in order to save his creations (us) as an expression of love. Surely there are biblical stories of God smiting people - mostly the enemies of the Israelites. I would interpret these as how ancient people would perceive a God that loves them. An awful lot of psalms express how awesome God is because he smites our enemies.

I'm certainly not trying to convert anyone. I just get really annoyed whenever anyone - Christian or not - tries to claim that bigotry, selfishness, hatred, or neglect are in any way a valid teaching of the bible. They're not. There are Christians who want to believe in those things who have found a way to justify themselves with the bible. There are even more non-Christians who have come to believe as I used to that this is the majority of Christians (it's not) and that it's the natural conclusion of reading the bible (it's not). Make no mistake. These people may have tried to justify their bigotry with the bible, but the bible does not justify their bigotry.

Comment Re:Bad law, not bad judge. (Score 1) 112

I don't buy that the court's reason is to simply parse existing bad laws and derive more bullshit bad laws from it.

The courts aren't supposed to make (derive) laws. The constitutional purpose of the justice system is to clarify laws and set precedents for how they apply in specific situations. Law-making is reserved for elected officials, so that those laws presumably come from citizens. It would be cumbersome and potentially tyrannical for citizens or their elected proxies to pass judgements in individual circumstances; such was the practice in ancient Greece and it's responsible for, among other things, the death of Socrates.

This is how the US constitution treats the justice system, but I admit that individual states don't have to treat it the same way. South Carolina may well give some legislative authority to its courts. I doubt it, though.

So what does a court do when it comes across a bad law? It's not the court's responsibility to determine what a "bad law" is. Is it bad because it hurts people? Or is it bad because we think it goes against common sense? Is a bad law one that hurts more people than it helps? Or is a bad law one that hurts us, specifically, everyone else be damned? Usually these concerns are not distinguishable to individual judges. The population is responsible for determining whether it's a bad law, not the court. Therefore the court must uphold the law to the letter, and if the result is bad, let the citizens and the elected officials change it.

Take the infamous Citizens United case. The Supreme Court justices were completely out of touch with the campaign finance system: the majority opinion expresses incredulity at why corporations might have motives bad for the country, or why allowing individual entities to make huge donations might harm campaign finance in general. Did they rule that corporations are people because that was the letter of the law, or because that was what they believed? If it was the letter of the law, the blame rests solely on the law makers, who may well have intended for corporations to be people. If it was their personal beliefs, however, then the blame rests with the court, which is probably setting precedent against the intent of the law.

Furthermore, the way to overturn a court decision is to write a new law that supersedes it. If the courts are allowed to create law, what happens when the law makers respond to a court case by making a new law (maybe even a constitutional amendment) that deals with the specific situation in that case? Can the judge simply overturn the new law? Do we want unelected officials to have that authority?

So yes, the court's reason to exist is to parse existing laws and derive the (bullshit) implications. Don't think you want judges to try and "correct" bad law; you and the judges might vociferously disagree on exactly what makes a "bad law".


tl;dr: constitutional law making and judging, what makes a law bad and who says it is, Citizens United, how to fix bad laws; read the last paragraph.

Comment Cobol (Score 1) 360

It's too bad you didn't mention Cobol. This is an old language that nobody wants to learn and nobody wants to program in. But, plenty of organizations have TONS of legacy code in Cobol that is central to their organization, and Cobol programmers are in demand for maintenance and sometimes reengineering.

Don't try too hard to break into the world of trendy hi-tech companies. There's a lot of agism around. You should try to find a job where people will see you age as a sign of wisdom and not a sign of senility.


Submission + - Ask Slashdot: How often do you push to production?

Stiletto writes: I work for a traditional "old school" software company that is trying to move into web services, now competing with smaller, nimbler "Web 2.0" companies. Unfortunately our release process is still stuck in the '90s. Paperwork and forms, sign-off meetings, and documentation approvals make it impossible to do even minor deployments to production faster than once a month. Major releases go out a couple of times a year. I've heard from colleagues in Bay Area companies who release weekly or daily (or even multiple times a day), allowing them to adapt quickly. Slashdotters, how often do you push software changes into production, and what best practices allow you to maintain that deployment rate without chaos?

Submission + - Dotcom's new site Megabox almost ready (

concealment writes: "Dotcom confirmed Associated Press in a telephone interview that he has completed the 90% of his work on "new Mega" and "Megabox", a music site that he announced in June. Megabox will allow users to download music for free in exchange for accepting some advertisements and, 90% of the revenue will go to the artists. Besides, fans and artist will be able to do business without middlemen."
The Military

Submission + - Air Force lab test out "aircraft surfing" technique to save fuel ( 1

coondoggie writes: "It's not a totally new concept, but the Air Force is testing the idea of flying gas-guzzling cargo aircraft inline allowing the trailing aircraft to utilize the cyclonic energy coming off the lead plane- a concept known as vortex surfing — over long distances to save large amounts of fuel. According to an Air force release, a series of recent test flights involving two aircraft at a time, let the trailing aircraft surf the vortex of the lead aircraft, positioning itself in the updraft to get additional lift without burning extra fuel."

Submission + - Why Do So Many Liberals 'Like' Mitt Romney on Facebook? (

pigrabbitbear writes: "Mother Jones reports that "In recent weeks, a host of liberal types have complained that their Facebook accounts have erroneously “liked” Romney’s page, and some are floating the theory that the Romney campaign has deployed a virus or used other nefarious means to inflate the candidate’s online stature. This conspiratorial notion has spawned a Facebook community forum, and its own page: “Hacked By Mitt Romney” (cute url:"

So what’s going on? Is the Romney campaign engaging in some tech wizardry to hijack Americans’ Facebook pages? Seems unlikely, tech wizardry of any kind coming from the not-so-online-savvy campaign, but Romney did somehow manage to acquire millions of fake Twitter followers. And sure, Romney probably feels a bit envious of Obama’s 30 million ‘likers’, seeing as how he only has 8 million. But it looks like the Romney campaign isn’t behind this one — Facebook and its crappy mobile app is."


Submission + - Microsoft Sues Motorola Over Mapping Patents (

jfruh writes: "The mobile patent wars continue, with two of the world's biggest tech companies about to blunder into direct conflict. Microsoft holds a number of patents that it claims give it rights over mobile map applications that overlay data from multiple databases (map info from one database and store location info from another, for instance). Many Android vendors already pay Redmond licensing fees for their mapping apps; now Redmond is going to court in Germany to sue one of the holdouts: Motorola Mobility, which is of course owned by Google."

Submission + - The quite death of the Internet Survellance Bill (

mykepredko writes: "C-30, Canada's version of SOPA, would grant the federal government and law enforcement agencies the power to obtain information about individuals who are online without having to apply for a warrant is dead in committee. “I don’t know whether it was because the Minister so screwed up the messaging, or whether they’ve had some other input saying they went too far or it just can’t be salvaged,” Nathan Cullen, House Leader for the NDP, speculates. Read more here:"

Comment Re:i HATE this strategy (Score 1) 247

This is the most important point. I don't feel safe updating Adobe Reader on Mac because it pops up saying "Please let me have admin access to update/install something." And then I have to go to Adobe's actual web site and clog my computer with the installer every time so Adobe will stop bugging me. I think most of us appreciate that security holes get fixed and updates get pushed out (in fact many of us would like it to happen more) but the updates really should be distinguishable from random malware pop-ups.

Comment Re:Observe, but don't change anything (Score 1) 658

Can't be done. Heisenberg was very clear on this. You can't observe something without changing it. If you absorb some light into your eyeballs or camera or whatever, you have interacted with the past/future.

That's not what the Heisenberg uncertainty principle is about. As I understand it, it's not about measurements or observations (is there something special about conscious entities?). It's a function of the thing being observed, such as electron orbits, being inherently probabilistic. In order to measure these things, the state has to be collapsed. It's a bit more related to Schrödinger's Cat: opening the box literally changes existence because before the box was open, the cat was both dead and alive. But even that's just a thought experiment; opening the box and having human beings observe the resulting state isn't what changes existence, it's the fact that something happened which made it possible to measure the result. That something was that the radiation must have acted on the cat if it existed.

I may be wrong, since I'm not actually a physicist. But I get the impression that I understand a little more than you do. Try reading about Pondicherry Quantum Mechanics; it's something of an unusual way of explaining quantum mechanics, but the usual way is all about math and it's nearly impossible to draw philosophical conclusions from pure math.

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