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Comment Re:YRO (Score 1) 202

Restrictions on mobile devices are probably in order as well:

PFC Campbell is approaching the insurgents camp.

PFC Campbell is just a little downwind. They can't see a thing.

PFC Campbell this is going to be good, they have no idea we're here!

PFC Campbell is that a Blackberry that insurgent is holding?

PFC Campbell ohshit

Comment OT nit-pick (Score 1) 381

...I hate it when the media has such a hay-day over something...

I used to think it was just my ex who misused this expression, but it seems to be everywhere these days.

The media had a field day with this article.

Newspapers were the medium of choice back in their heyday, before television news became popular.

Heyday refers to the time when something was especially popular or prevalent. A field day is what you have when you're able to enjoy something tremendously for a short time.

Comment Re:I fear that pretty soon... (Score 1) 532

Okay, I know what the OP means now. I would think twice before going through a private sale that used the Amazon portal.

When I sell things, I prefer to use Craigslist and keep it local. No shipping hassles, and the transaction happens face to face, in cash, so you're not worrying about electronic payment mishaps.

Comment Re:I fear that pretty soon... (Score 4, Informative) 532

I generally trust Amazon more than I do the small fry sites they 'affiliate' with.

What exactly do you mean? When someone clicks on one of the recommended books on my Amazon affiliate page*, they are taken to Amazon.ca where they can buy the book directly from Amazon. I don't handle any of their transactions, or ship any books; all my affiliate page does is give me a commission on any book that a visitor to my site may purchase if they access Amazon.ca through the links on my site. There's no additional 'trust' needed.

*which I am not going to link here, because that would be affiliate link spam. My site is in my sig if anyone wants more information on responsible products.

Comment Re:Contracts (Score 4, Interesting) 154

They should lose their contracts for failing to wipe the data off the hard drives.

What's so ridiculous is how easy it is to destroy data without investing in ultra-super-duper-mil-spec data destruction software. When I destroyed hard drives for my old company, I'd pull out the drive, take it down to the shop floor, and watch as one of our fabricators put a 1/2-inch hole through the platters with a drill press. It's theoretically possible that an expert who really, really wanted our data could have read something from the partial platters, but I guarantee that none of our drives ever showed up in use anywhere else.

And with the old IBM death stars, pretty much any possibility of data recovery was eliminated when those glass platters shattered inside the case as the drill went through.

Of course, this technique requires you to have a drill press or a good, sturdy hand drill somewhere on your site, but I think Northrop Grumman could afford one of those.

Comment Re:long-form reporting...deep investigative report (Score 1) 96

I stare at Excel just about all damn day.

The last thing that I want to do when I get home is stare at a screen for the 40 minute it takes to read an article that is as long as this one.

Of course not. And there's no way you'll stare at Slashdot long enough to read through the deep investigative long form reporting we get here...

Comment Re:Waiting for it... (Score 1) 467

The Government does not grant rights! The government is granted rights by the people...

I think it's a semantic difference, but for all practical purposes, the freedom to exercise rights depends on who has the power to decide whether or not rights can be exercised.

In a western democracy, the people have a great deal of power. Even the most powerful, corrupt government can only do so much to erode those rights, as we're seeing in the USA right now. In a totalitarian society, whether or not certain rights can be exercised is controlled by the rulers - as long as their rule remains stable.

And the rulers don't have to be selected by the people of that country. If a stronger country invades a weaker country, the rights of the conquered people are determined by the outside force that invaded them.

Comment Re:Waiting for it... (Score 1) 467

Since we in the west tend to believe that free speech is a right that cannot/shouldn't every be given away, many are willing to help the Iranians that are not willing to accept Iranian control over speech.

Exactly. At the moment, Iranians don't have that right, for all practical purposes. But there are many people inside and outside the country who believe they should, and they are doing everything they can to support that perceived right.

Whether or not that right is granted depends on how much pressure comes to bear on Iran's leadership. Of course, pressure can have different effects. It can be released in a controlled manner if the leadership accedes to the will of a sufficiently large number of people, or it can explode if the leaders order a harsh crackdown.

That's what the world is watching for right now. If Iran's leadership perceives that the majority of the pressure is internal, it is somewhat more likely to accede to change. If it perceives that it's a western plot, a crackdown is more likely.

But until the situation changes, Iranians only have the rights their government permits them to exercise.

Notice I'm not saying they shouldn't have the same rights we enjoy in the west, but that they do not currently have them.

Comment Re:Waiting for it... (Score 1) 467

...obviously no one has a right to anything in terms of it not being taken away from you (incl. your life), but it is a right in the sense that any modern legal framework should support it and concerned citizens have an obligation to support those rights for other citizens when they are clearly being infringed.

Of course, the problem is that many countries do not have what we would consider a modern legal framework. And within those 'backward' legal frameworks, our concept of rights does not exist.

It's like a serf in medieval Europe saying that he has the right to criticize his lord. The ruler could say "Sure, say what you want; what do I care what a peasant thinks?" or he could say "No you don't; off with your head!"

As long as his subjects have their meat and mead, and they're not being killed in their sleep by nightly bandit raids - and they're treated to the periodic entertainment of the public beheading of anyone silly enough to question his power - he doesn't need to grant them any more rights than he feels like giving them.

And if he doesn't grant those rights, for all practical purposes, the people don't have them.

Next question for the class: In our modern, western society, do you have the right to a certain quality of life?

Comment Re:Waiting for it... (Score 5, Insightful) 467

On the contrary, my argument says that you have to keep asserting your rights en masse or they'll gradually disappear.

Look at the constant Slashdot stories about warrantless searches, unlawful search & seizure, oppression of free speech, and other denials of rights that are codified, but not respected by those in power. If it weren't for citizens fighting to protect these rights, and bring such infringements to court, they would disappear.

The Constitution is not a magic wand. It won't ensure the perpetual existence of your rights if you don't defend them.

But in countries that don't have such documents, those rights simply don't exist, and they won't until the people are able to convince the government to grant them.

If a supreme ruler can ensure that those selected for the police, the courts, and the army share his beliefs, and maintain the right balance of fear and contentment among the people, it doesn't really matter what rights the powerless believe they have. If that balance is destabilized, however, as may currently be happening in Iran, that's when things change.

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