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Comment As someone who was backed over as a kid... (Score 1) 518

I can't say I'm opposed to this.

The circumstances that led to me getting a bit squished at 15 months old aren't exactly uncommon, bad parenting, or negligence. I obviously have no recollection of the events, but, to make a long story short, my father was driving and was certain - had, in fact, visually confirmed less than 60 seconds earlier - that I was in the backyard playing with my siblings and other neighborhood kids under my mother's supervision and far away from the driveway.

Well, apparently, I was a sneaky little bugger back then. I got away and managed to get away and end up right behind the car. He hopped in the car, turned it on, and was pulling out to go to the store. I was obviously too short to be seen from the driver's seat, regardless of whether he checked over his shoulder or in the mirror (he states, of course, that he did, and he would've had to to get out of the driveway). He didn't hear a "thunk" as he knocked me over, but quickly realized he'd run over something and hopped out of the car to see his 15 month old son screaming in an awful lot of pain.

A lighting fast ride to the hospital later, it was discovered that my injuries were serious, but not life-threatening. The accident had broken my hip in two places. Thanks to being only 15 months old, I quickly recovered and was back to walking in a few months. I suffer no ill effects whatsoever now, and x-rays from two years after the accident couldn't find any damage.

Granted, all of the above happened back in the 80's, when cars were quite different. However, my injuries could have easily been far, far worse. A few inches would be the difference between having a funny story to tell people and being in a wheelchair the rest of my life - or dead. I imagine most of these injuries and deaths involve small children, who either die before they hit elementary school or often have to live with some rather severe injuries the rest of their lives.

As you can imagine, I'm pretty careful now about backing out of my own driveway, especially now that I've got a family of my own. A camera would at least let me quickly and easily see things that I just can't see from the driver's seat. It'll be a while before I buy a car new enough to have one, of course, but it's good to know these are coming down in price.

I tend to lean toward the libertarian side on a great many things... but I'm OK with this.

Comment iPod Touch is perfect for corporate drones like me (Score 1) 153

My employer provides a "smart" phone - a BlackBerry Bold. It's... terrible for anything other than very light browsing and, of course, its core business functions (not that it performs many of these terribly well, either, but that's for another post). The phone's best feature, by far, is that it's free. And, as I have a free smart phone with the basic necessities, I'd rather not shell out my own cash just to have a second phone to carry around. In my case, an extra $75/month+ is a lot to pay for a better interface and some additional capability.

Enter the iPod Touch. For $300 and no monthly bill, I get access to all of the apps I wanted, a pocketable device I can use anywhere there's WiFi, a lot of music, a few videos, a decent point 'n shoot camera, etc.

It's not that I haven't considered tablets; I like my Nexus 7 a lot, but the iPod Touch is far more portable.

Comment As a Mormon, Conservative-ish Linux user... (Score 0) 1223

Well, as a Mormon and generally conservative-ish Linux user, my response is *yawn*.

A liberal Atheist attacks a conservative candidate and his religious beliefs during a major election cycle.


Didn't see that one coming.

Oddly, it doesn't seem to affect my ability to use of Linux. Huh.

It looks like my Windows and OS X machines may have been developed, at least in some part, by people with beliefs similar to those of Mr. Trovalds. Those seem to keep working, too. Weird.

I guess the main feeling I have on the matter is one of disappointment. I expected much more sophistication out of Mr. Torvalds' arguments rather than bringing up what was quite clearly a joke (granted, one delivered with Romeny's android tendencies) and making this a point of argument. Of course, it's not like the Romney campaign doesn't deserve such attacks given its ridiculous focus on the "you didn't build that" line (sorry, Romney - while Obama was inelegant, I believe his intent was pretty clear, and it wasn't to say that business owners did not "build" their businesses).

Mr. Torvalds doesn't come across as the brilliant man he is - he looks just like any other partisan. An unhealthy portion of the American population already seems to be basing its vote in this election on stupid little soundbites. I hate to think that someone who I otherwise have great respect for would go for such a cheap shot.

Comment EAS has got to get with the times... (Score 2) 104

I realize the issue here is alerts regarding terrorism, but the broader issue is the Emergency Alert System.

If a message ever did go out on the EAS as it stands today, I'd probably never know about it. I don't have cable TV and very rarely watch any TV over the air (thank you, Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon video). I don't listen to the radio unless I happen to be in the car and without my iPod. I spend far more time on Facebook on any given day than I do plugged into any medium which uses the EAS - and I really don't spend much time at all on Facebook. Reverse 911 is a step in the right direction but I frequently leave my phone on vibrate or silent in the evenings.

While there are certainly opportunities for abuse, this is a step in the right direction. But a fairly small one.

Comment Not necessarily for military use (Score 1) 51

Loitering aircraft like this can have a lot of uses. A close cousin of my wife did a great deal of his graduate work on the use of unmanned aircraft for the purpose of fire spotting. The idea was to keep a small fleet of cheap, low maintenance, long-life aircraft over areas that experienced frequent forest fires in the summer months. The quicker you spot the blaze, the easier it is to fix, and a few cheap UAVs outfitted with sensors (the version they were working on actually didn't require any human interaction) is a lot cheaper and potentially more effective than manning ranger stations.

Comment Other Security Tips (Score 2, Informative) 312

I've lived (not backpacked, lived) in South America for about two and a half years - the slums on the outskirts of Buenos Aires for two years, a couple of months in Lima and three months in a nice spot in Santiago.

The IT issues have been covered well enough. Here are a few additional ideas:

- Ditch the nice, expensive backpack and luggage. Go to the Army surplus store and buy your luggage there. Or something like this for walking around and day to day use. Avoid military emblems, but definitely go for that "beat to hell" look. Big expensive North Face bags draw the eyes of thieves. Dusty old rucksacks don't. The same goes for looking like a walking, talking North Face commercial with your clothing.
- Learn the language. Spanish and Portuguese are the obvious two. Know the basics, and be sure you can ask directions.
- Check visa requirements for each country and register with the State Department to receive travel and security updates on each country. These are immensely useful for avoiding difficult situations.
- Understand what the embassy can do for you. If you get arrested, mugged, or run into most problems overseas, the answer is "not much".
- Be VERY careful with taxis. "Express" kidnappings are quite common through most of South America - haggle for taxis and always, always use a service if you can, just to be on the safe side. Most major shopping centers and many big commercial bus stops have their own services. They cost about double what others charge, but it's worth it to avoid getting robbed.
- Ignore touts and always make your lodging arrangements in advance.
- Keep your eyes open and, if you can, travel in a group.

Have a lot of fun and do me a favor - walk down 9 de Julio while eating a good Havana alfajor ;-)

Comment Dissenting (Score 2, Interesting) 570

Aside from the fact that adequate grounds exist for military jurisdiction based on the Pentagon portion of the attack - and the fact that the act KSM is most likely to be charged with conspiracy, which certainly occurred outside of the U.S. - the analysis is far more complex if one has a basic understanding of criminal procedure. The very high standard of proof required to convict in a criminal court, and the complexity of the rules of evidence - particularly when considering the difficulty of trying a conspiracy charge. Hell, as a law student, I spent untold hours just looking at hearsay and its numerous exceptions. Not to mention the issue of evidence extracted during and after water boarding sessions and other interrogation

I obviously haven't seen the prosecution's evidence in full, but if this were a more traditional criminal charge, I'd wager that they would have one hell of a tough row to hoe. Keep in mind that, if the law is applied as it should be, a jury may only consider evidence that has been admitted before the Court. If vital bits of evidence are excluded--a scenario that is certainly feasible--can the prosecutors successfully prove the elements of the crime KSM is charged with? If not, in a real trial, he would have to be let free.

Of course, this isn't going to be a real trial.

Assume that KSM is acquitted. There is obviously no chance he'll ever be released, nor could he be released onto U.S. territory at all, of course, under the Immigration and Naturalization Act. A real criminal trial would carry with it the vagaries and risks associated with any criminal trial, no matter how "air tight" a case is (e.g., O.J. Simpson), and the possibility of an acquittal and release.

I fear what we have here with the upcoming KSM trial is more of a show trial. The conviction, execution, and virtually pre-determined, or at least that is how Obama is treating it in statements to the press (as a lawyer and former law professor, he should know better, as he acknowledged with his subsequent ass covering).

Aside from some of the more obvious questions (Why a criminal trial for only this handful? Why are military tribunals "good enough" for the rest? Why has Obama shifted support from the military tribunals he once supported specifically for KSM to the civilian courts? How will classified evidence be handled? Will KSM truly be given full access to all the evidence against him, including names of informants?) are the more larger concerns. Why a show trial for this person? Why now? Will show trials become the norm for the particularly loathsome among us? For those it is more politically convenient for the president to try via show trial? Is this the direction we would like to go in?

If this were to be a real trial, it would be a demonstration of the Obama administration's willingness to take unacceptable risks on national security, particularly since a much friendlier venue is allowed under law and some of the trickier, thornier aspects of the law can be avoided. Instead, it may prove to be a perversion of the criminal justice system, which has rules that are much better established and protect every single American citizen. Why open the door to show trials?

Comment You do realize... (Score 5, Informative) 128

Only at Slashdot would parent be marked "insightful".

You do realize, of course, that there are a wide variety of situations wherein a LEO is allowed by the law to enter a home without a warrant, I assume.

Probable cause, for one. If the police follow a person fleeing a crime into a residence - or virtually anywhere else, for that matter - they're acting well within their rights and duties and no warrant is needed.

An Arrest Warrant - No search warrant is needed if officers have an arrest warrant and the reasonable belief that the fugitive is inside. Even if they find evidence for crimes unrelated to the search warrant, the evidence is still admissible. See e.g. Gaskins v. U.S., 218 F.2d 47

Consent is another. If the homeowner has provided their consent, then the Police are well within their rights and duties.

The Open Fields Doctrine is another. If objects are left in plain view in an area not traditionally secured as private, the police are well within their rights to search these areas. See Oliver v. U.S.

And the list goes on. And on. And on. Contrary to what you saw on TV or what your high school civics teacher improperly told you, a search warrant isn't always necessary. In fact, interfering with the police in the above situations can easily get you arrested, but you'll at least give the judge a good laugh as he hears you argue the 4th Amendment as a defense.

And what if the search or wiretap is illegal? If you're truly a criminal, if you've truly done the things you are accused of doing, then you may have just hit the jackpot. Under the exclusionary rule (subject to its exceptions, of course), the evidence is tainted, the "fruit of a poisonous tree," and likely inadmissible as evidence against the target of the search in any case.

IANAL - just a 3L (and I haven't taken Crim Pro yet, so don't be cruel, but if you have an actual understanding of the law, please correct me where I am wrong). But of course we have internet lawyers here like parent who just love to make these ridiculous arguments.

Look, I'm not fond of cops. I can't think of anyone who has ever been to law school actually worked with attorneys and seen what the police often do could be fond of them. But following suggestions like parent's is foolishness indeed. Want to support your local public defenders in making illegal search arguments? Please do. chip in some cash, they could use the money. But don't run about harassing the police as parent suggests.

Comment Federal law to "blame" (Score 1) 402

The US already collects vasts amount of information as part of the visa application process for any foreign national, all paid by the applicant.

This is the result of federal statute, not some evil recent regulation.

Federal law requires that immigration costs be funded by the immigrant rather than the U.S. Taxpayer. On the one hand, it is very off-putting to many potential immigrants. On the other hand, one must ask why American citizens should be forced to pay the immigration costs of some non-citizen to which the U.S. owes no obligation and has yet to receive any benefit from. It also serves as a valuable tool for weeding out those who could never afford to go in any case.

And, as to Chile, it's noteworthy that U.S. citizens arriving in Chile are charged a reciprocal tourist visa fee of exactly that $131 as well. Chile believes in reciprocity, and that's fine - Chile's a great place to live and visit. I've lived there myself.

Comment Peru an interesting choice for the study... (Score 1) 157

(Forgive the randomness) I was in Lima for 6 weeks about a year ago, and the reuse/recycling of old computer equipment is absolutely true - especially old printers and copiers.

Walking through the streets of Lima, even right around the Plaza de Armas but throughout the entire district, you can find dozens of shops that only sell used printers and copiers. They advertise them as new/refurbished from the U.S. and they seem to go for fairly decent prices. I'd never really seen such a sight before in my life - stores absolutely brimming with big, heavy duty copiers.

Comment "Trivializing journalism" (Score 5, Insightful) 91

Oh please.

As if the profession weren't largely "trivial" enough.

A Journalist is essentially this: a person with no education on a topic whatsoever and who likely already possesses an opinion of it is supposed to go out and write an informed, accurate, and neutral (or objective, whatever the standard is now) article on it for all the world to read.

To say that "journalists" screw this up more often than not would be far too kind. Ever read a science article written by a "journalist"? I mean, how many miracle AIDS cures have journalists written about, all hoping to get the big scope, with nothing at all behind them? How often do run of the mill journalists get tech news even remotely right? As a law student, every time I hear a journalist covering any legal news I groan deep inside because the odds are quite strong that at least half of the time they will get things wrong. And heaven help them if they ever, ever have to quote a statistic or challenge a claim of a remotely scientific nature.

It shouldn't surprise anyone that this is the case - journalism school is little more than half of an English degree with a few "ethics" and "media" classes thrown in. People don't make fun of Communications majors for nothing. How about a basic class on statistics so they could actually, you know, challenge someone on things like sample size or ask if an economic indicator is quarterly or annual? A basic introduction to jurisprudence so a reporter working in the legal field actually knows about procedure and the function of appellate courts?

Journalists want to be the conduit of information to the world, and for a long time they were simply because real, qualified experts weren't easily accessible. Now, if I want to read up on legal news, I'll read the blogs of a few law professors, who are often kind enough to point to other blogs holding different viewpoints. If scientific news interest me, I'll look to blogs by experts in a field for more information. And if I want to know about politics, I'll look to bloggers in general. That there is a bias in their reporting doesn't bother me one bit - most are entirely open about their bias, and finding the other side(s) of the argument is a trivial task. Journalists, on the other hand, retain or attempt to retain a false, ridiculous "neutrality" - a bizarre, mostly American, concept in a world where most major papers freely admit to their slant.

Now there are some great journalists out there, don't get me wrong. But good reporting is the exception, not the rule.

Journalism was a trivial affair long before bloggers came on the scene, and journalists have only themselves to blame.

Comment YMMV, but... (Score 1) 470

The are mega book outets that tend to put smaller, more service oriented outlets out out of business.

Dude, present hyperventilating over something that appears to have already been fixed, I'm having a HARD time thinking of companies that are better to work with than Amazon.

Ordering? Easy. Very, very, very easy.

Inventory and convenience? You name it, they've got it. I can order a few paperbacks, a couple of CDs, an iPod, some deodorant and a pack of razor blades all at once, and they'll be at my door in two days thanks to prime. And all at a lower price than local stores offer.

Reviews? Generally plentiful.

Shipping? Quick, efficient, almost always "same day" if you get it in before 3:30 Pacific. And as a Prime member, free two-day shipping on virtually everything Amazon sells is a life changer. Fewer trips to the store, lower prices, and easy, quick, reliable ordering.

Have a problem? Drop them a line and they have an option to either call you back immediately (or at a specified time) or extremely quick email responses. Granted, I've made over a hundred orders from Amazon and had to use this service precisely twice (both due to carrier screw-ups).

I'll take Amazon ANY day over the "independent" bookstores around town. Better service, less time rummaging through poorly organized books, and no sales staff whose sole purpose in life seems to be to remind you to "buy local!" so they can continue to eek out a tiny living because they "love books".

I've seen a few nice little indy bookstores, don't get me wrong, but they're either a) institutions (Shakespeare & Co., Paris) or b) have something else going for them (a great little restaurant/hot chocolate/coffee place that also sells good used and new books). These can work.

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