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Comment Re:From someone who has worked there... (Score 2) 85

Yeah, you put in words what I was thinking for a while now. It's obvious that these problems aren't specific to the NSA or GCHQ. Rather they're due to a cold war mindset that too many senior civil servants and politicians seem unable to break out.

GCHQ has been hacking Belgacom to spy on the EU in Brussels. WTF? Why?! If they want to know what's going down in the EU then they can just ..... go ask. I mean the UK contributes its fair share of money to the EU, so what possible benefit is there to treating it as if it was the KGB?

These agencies need to be stripped down, badly, and the money saved reinvested into other things. The staff that are left can be given a purely defensive mandate (w.r.t internet stuff at least). But I don't think it will happen whilst the current lot are in charge. They seem to like the power too much. And maybe they are also trapped in a cold war mindset. Perhaps it will take my generation, the first post cold-war generation to enter politics before these problems get really fixed.

BTW the UK announced today that it was renaming the national police squad again. SOCA no longer, now it's the National Crime Agency, formed from merging several agencies together ...... and slashing the budget by 30%. So it is spending money to record all internet traffic, every last TCP ACK, but the actual police who deal with practical problems on British streets, like gang warfare, they're having their budget murdered. 999 response times have doubled since austerity began. It's obvious that a working national police force and working emergency services save more lives than GCHQ hacking oil firms and telcos.

Comment Re:Well, there we have it (Score 1) 416

Well, this is the peak oil argument - more oil can always be extracted, but at what price? The price is high because extracting oil from shale rock is significantly harder than getting the old fashioned stuff, which is why it's been left till last and it took many years of high prices to cause a surge in production. I don't think prices will fall again back to where they were pre-2004, ever.

Comment Re:Monitoring (Score 4, Insightful) 193

Because at just below the top of the slope the view is different?

Fascism will come wrapped in a flag and carrying a Bible. ~ Sinclair Lewis 1935

If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy. -- James Madison

patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels. - Samuel Johnson

let me know if any of those seem to describe the current US political climate...

Comment Re:Lost forever? (Score 1) 294

It reduces the maximum resolution of the system and means some prices would be too small to represent on the wire.

Should the Bitcoin community one day be so successful that the system being unable to represent prices low enough is an actual problem, a flag day can be scheduled which changes the wire-size of the value units in the protocol, thus adding more "decimal places" (they are not really represented as floats).

The nice thing about Bitcoin is that it's a consensus system, so scheduling flag days is quite straightforward as long as you do actually get a majority of people to upgrade by the given date. As long as a majority do, the rest of the nodes will be automatically disconnected from the system and have to upgrade to rejoin.

Comment Re:Money for his defense (Score 1) 294

They know the outputs in the guys wallet - if that money were to suddenly start moving, it would eventually (probably quickly) have to turn up at one of the Bitcoin exchanges, given how tiny the Bitcoin economy is and how much more useful a state backed currency is (today). Those exchanges are all well known, registered with their local governments, etc. Figuring out who is trying to cash out would not be very hard.

Comment Re:Money for his defense (Score 2) 294

You'd have put money away and bonded lawyers so they could "spring you"? How exactly are these lawyers going to do that? Ulbricht is guilty as fuck and clearly knows it. The two criminal complaints are overflowing with evidence and that's not going to be all the Fed's have got. I have a hard time seeing how any lawyer is going to wriggle out from under all that stuff. Doesn't matter if you somehow managed to bond the best of the best ahead of time.

Also, you seem to have overlooked the fact that the guy was poor. Given he had explicitly stated in the past that he was motivated by money, that rather implies he was afraid of converting large chunks of his Bitcoin wealth into dollar wealth, probably because he wasn't sure he could beat the ID verification and AML checks the exchanges all do these days. If a bank sees an unemployed guy who lives with flatmates suddenly start receiving enormous wires from a Bitcoin exchange, and then sending money on to law firms, that's the kind of thing that triggers them filing a "suspicious activity report" with the US Treasury. It's actually not so easy to cash out large illegal holdings of Bitcoin, you'd have to find someone to do it on your behalf who doesn't mind potentially being hit with a money laundering charge if you were to go down. That's not easy.

That said, I'll agree that the guy was a walking cliche. The only thing unclear to me is how many criminals out there aren't - whenever we see cases like this, it always seems like the gangsters literally started speaking like a bad movie character. Is it that the movies are so accurate, or the bad guys learn how to behave by watching films?

Comment Re:Hope and change (Score 1) 330

You know who tea party folks voted for? They wrote in "Ron Paul."

ORLY?

Tea Party may have started as a libertarian attempt to take over GOP, but it was clearly overrun by batshit insane conservatives of the worst kind: religious whackos, racists, xenophobes, and people convinced that Illuminati are behind every tree (quite often, these all combine in a single person). Libertarians may be writing in Ron Paul, but they are not the Tea Party anymore.

Comment Re:Hope and change (Score 1) 330

So let them do it, one election cycle. The lesson that it'll give is well worth the pain of them being in the office.

Of course, for most important positions, they won't get to the office. If teabaggers manage to sneak in a bona fide crazy through the primaries and field him against Democrats, the latter will win in a landslide heretofore unseen - and that right there will be the end of the Tea Party.

Comment Re:And with that ... (Score 1) 352

This is plainly false. US constitution wisely speaks of "persons" and "people", not "citizens" (except where describing the rights that only citizens have, such as voting). And, historically, after slavery was done with, the courts have consistently ruled that the meaning of those words includes everyone on American soil or otherwise under American jurisdiction.

Comment Re:Worse and worse (Score 1) 294

Krokodil is virtually impossible to ban - its whole point is that it's made out of readily available ingredients that have otherwise valid uses. Coincidentally, that's why the results are so messy... it's a drug designed for easy availability at the cost of being extremely unsafe to the user. Ironically, legalizing other hard drugs would actually reduce, if not outright eliminate, the use of this particular one.

I agree that drug users should not be considered criminals, though I'd go one step further and say that tossing anyone into a rehab should only be an option when the person is otherwise dangerous or extremely self-destructive. Simply put, if a guy has a cocaine problem, but it does not significantly interfere with his life, and he has the money to burn on it, then it's not our business to force him to stop. Though we should definitely invest heavily into propaganda along the lines of "smoking kills" - which has proven to be very successful in case of smoking, by the way - and also to fund various free rehabilitation programs for people who are willing to take them but don't have the means.

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