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Comment Re:Gun control however... (Score 4, Insightful) 856

There is a difference between laws designed to regulate availability of material goods and laws designed to punish human beings.

Exactly. Politicians just love that former category, precisely because it never works. It never works and never solves the problem, so there is always a menacing problem they can promise to do something about the next time they campaign. It also has the side-effect of requiring a police state to have even a slight hope of enforcement, which again is great from the perspective of most politicians.

Politicians know the War on Drugs doesn't stop people from acquiring drugs. They know that mass shootings overwhelmingly tend to happen in "gun free" zones. They know even an outright ban on guns doesn't stop criminals from acquiring them. They know someone not afraid of a murder charge isn't going to be deterred by a weapons violation. They probably know that the USA has one of the highest murder rates of the industralized world ... unless you exclude Chicago and a few other cities where it is practically impossible to legally own a firearm; then the USA has one of the lowest. They understand all of this.

They are interested in perpetuating the problems. It's what wins elections. It's what makes people increasingly feel they need government intervention. It's fun to think of them as a bunch of morons who couldn't find their ass in the dark, but this is called allowing sentiment to interfere with judgment.

Comment Re:The only winning move.... (Score 1) 435

If it is trivial why do they put so much effort into squishing it?

Did you ever consider it in terms of strategy? Companies try to use strategy instead of lazily waiting until the last minute to passively react the way so many individuals do.

It's trivial now but that could change. They are taking steps to keep it trivial and/or to make it more so. If they neglected it entirely, it might become a very large, entrenched, difficult-to-eliminate market by the time they get around to reacting to it. What would really entrench a used-games market with no artificial restrictions? That's easy: for it to be common and perceived as normal by the average customer, something they come to expect, something they would be outraged about if it were taken away.

The game companies don't want that to happen. They're smart, so they think of these things ahead of time. They're greedy control freaks, but they're not stupid.

Do yourself a favor and apply this strategic view to every action corporations and politicians take and to every word they say. The world will become mostly predictable then.

Comment Re:Antiquated Legal Standard (Score 1) 332

The 180-day limit is based on an antiquated legal standard, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which was signed into law in 1986 - more than 25 years ago. At the time, email was still in its infancy, and "cloud"-based email providers like Yahoo, GMail, etc. simply didn't exist. Efforts are underway to update the act so that, among other things, law enforcement will need to obtain a warrant anytime they want to access email. But those updates aren't law yet, so the old statute still applies.

That old statute outweighs the Fourth Amendment? Interesting.

Comment Re:fine line (Score 1) 332

The drug-dog loophole certainly is convenient.

What is a trained drug-sniffing dog, if it is not a (living) device for the sole purpose of performing a search? Using a dog to search your home or your car is not fundamentally different from the cop just using his hands and his eyes to search the same places. Yet the dog gives a cue and *poof* there goes your Fourth Amendment.

Of course they have to have such a loophole to keep up the War on (some) Drugs. A war on drugs (really a war on personal freedom) simply couldn't be conducted by the federal government under a reasonable reading of the Constitution. So we're losing some of our more precious rights and freedoms in exchange for being able to ineffectively tell other people how they should live. What a bargain.

Comment Re:So wrong. (Score 2) 332

The term "house" is specifically used in the text of the 4th Amendment, and courts have basically ruled that this term refers to your home, whether that's a building you own or a single room in a shared apartment...essentially your "personal living space", where a polite person would be required to ask permission to enter. On the other hand, the e-mail on the server is no different from you giving your personal papers to any random third party, mostly regardless of the relationship, with a few exceptions.

Yes, because if the standard were the other way around, people would have too much privacy and obviously that would bring society to its knees!

I think the difference is that the case law pertaining to your dwelling was established long ago, back when people thought the USA was special, back when the USA would ridicule many other nations of the world for treating their citizens more like subjects who had no rights, only privileges. Electronic communications were invented long after the US government became something much more sad and typical, interested only in the expansion of its own power via the flimsiest claims to legitimacy.

<sarcasm>Because as we all know, anyone familiar with people like Thomas Jefferson would immediately understand that the Founders really did mean only physical hardcopy paperwork. Obviously, these men who wanted The People to be respected and left alone by their government when it came to things like postal letters and private notes definitely wanted The People's privacy completely trampled should any new medium of written communication come along. Duh.</sarcasm>

Just think, some of the Founders were opposed to having a Bill of Rights at all because they feared that other rights not specifically mentioned in the Constitution would be overlooked!

Comment Re:If you're not doing anything wrong... (Score 5, Insightful) 332

It seems that a key tenet of authoritarianism is the assumption that privacy is not legitimate.

Without the information provided by putting that into practice, it would be much more difficult to micromanage daily life. An income tax in particular is a control freak's wet dream: it provides both carrots and sticks that can be used to manipulate behavior. Unlike impersonal excise taxes or sales taxes, where the only relevant information is a dollar amount, an income tax inherently requires getting to know the mundane details of a person's life. You have to know who they are, what they do, what they've been up to lately, and you need invasive powers to make sure they aren't cheating or otherwise lying to you.

There is a reason why the Constitution had to be amended to allow for an income tax. As far as I know, that reason wasn't because the Founding Fathers never heard of such a concept.

Comment Re:Okay, so, just to be clear... (Score 1) 332

Obviously, the American people are A ok with this as it's been going on for a while now. Nobody's proposing a new plan or ECPA at that. Then again, the state of cyber law in the US is a joke full of loopholes and free passes. The real question is do you blame the IRS for doing what it legally can to function as an entity, or the people for allowing it?

There is plenty of blame to go around.

What I don't understand is this idea that the Fourth Amendment applies to one communications channel (say, postal mail) but not other communications channels (e-mail) that achieve the same transfer of information. I say the burden of proof is on those who assert this. What's the rationale here?

Comment Re:Take it further (Score 1) 220

That would also make the contracts much more expensive, meaning that more tax needs to be collected to fulfill them, harming local business. Basically, it is the broken window fallacy.

Sadly, taxes have had no real relationship to the government's need for revenue (spending, interest on dets) for a very long time now. I don't think that necessarily argues against your idea, but it does complicate it.

Comment Re:Gun Makers (Score 1) 1111

Since when is money an illegal good?

He knew they were moving large amount of money. That is it.

Right now I have a couple grand in my wallet, am I suddenly some sort of criminal?

My brother repaid a loan that I made him. I will either deposit this money or put it in my safe. If I put it in my safe am I suddenly some sort of drug lord?

In the (greedy) eyes of the law, quite possibly. Sure, your brother just repaid that loan, but sadly that doesn't mean that the cops won't seize that cash until you convince a judge that you're not a drug dealer. "Asset forfeiture" hits crooks and innocent people alike. I don't like it either, but try convincing your legislator and you'll just get some crap about "balancing liberty with the need to stop drugs, mmmkay?"

Most of the unreasonable bullshit comes from trying to make a crime out of things that are not crimes (what consenting adults do). It leads to laws that would be unenforcable without this police-state mentality. Rather than admit that such laws are inherently flawed, and repeal them, the government would rather expand its powers.

Comment Re:First World Arrogance (Score 1) 172

The problem was, they wanted to accept them in their own way on their own schedule.

Then I submit that they were not really so willing to accept new cosmological theories.

The correct way is according to the evidence. The correct schedule is according to when advancements are made and new evidence is discovered. Anything else is unwillingness and refusal.

Who was it that said "scientific progress advances one death at a time"? A scientist, no?

Yes, and it was a lament.

But really, how much rapid progress would you have expected from an organization which believed (at the time) that an effective way to spread the love of Jesus was torturing people to death? I mean, I've read the Bible and the words of Christ -- I couldn't find "hold an Inquisition" or "torture your neighbor" anywhere in it.

Comment Re:First World Arrogance (Score 1) 172

The problem was, they wanted to accept them in their own way on their own schedule.

Then I submit that they were not really so willing to accept new cosmological theories.

The correct way is according to the evidence. The correct schedule is according to when advancements are made and new evidence is discovered. Anything else is unwillingness and refusal.

Comment Re:Everything is okay. (Score 1) 226

The kids in the public education system might turn out to be pretty decent Jeopardy players; that is, if they don't forget everything they 'learned' a year after graduating from high school...

Jeopardy... I never did understand how "Popular Culture" belonged with things like History, Astronomy, and the like. Because people who learn about astrophysics are truly concerned about what Snookie is up to these days? I say leave that kind of information where it belongs: among the small-minded.

Seemed like a poorly-executed ratings grab to me.

Comment Re:kids are as good as the parents make them (Score 1) 226

I thought home-schooled children still had to take the same standardised tests?

Having to take them is not the same as being limited by them.

Someone who really understands the subject matter can pass a standardized test on that subject. But someone who was only taught to the test may have difficulty actually practically applying what they were taught. (The bureaucrats that were mentioned earlier and the politics involved with the school system are certainly not helping things either).

The shortcomings of rote memorization become apparent once someone who learned that way has to think abstractly and apply what they know to a real-world problem. Abstract reasoning is important, too. It just doesn't fit the "cog in a corporate machine" philosophy for which most public schools prepare their students. There is a reason why the politicians and other power elites don't usually send their children to public schools.

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